Cubs, Wild Cards, Adam Jones & more @ MLBRT 9/15

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Cubs and… wild cards who has got the wild cards?

The regular season is winding down and while all but one division race seems locked in (AL East is still  somewhat in doubt) the wild card races are going on hot and furious. Join with the crew and check on how they feel about the various teams involved.

Plus, is this fat long last, the year of destiny for the Cubbies?

And… we usually don’t get very political in this space but we also touch upon some comments that Baltimore’s Adam Jones recently said in reference to protesting, ala Colin Kaepernick, at a MLB game by a player and his opinion that MLB is a “white man’s game.”

So, come on pull up a stool and join in at the Major League Baseball Roundtable discussion…

1) The Dodgers recently started 4 rookie starters in four consecutive games in the thick of a September pennant race for their division and, if, nothing else at least a very likely playoff spot. They will start two more rookies at Yankee Stadium this week.
As mentioned earlier, they are a very likely entrant into MLB’s postseason tournament for the World Series but how long into the playoffs do you think they can ride these rookies?  

Archie1-300x277Archie: Well, at the time of these questions came out the Dodgers were 7 of their last 10, so, I would say the team is still clicking on all cylinders, regardless of who they are running out there on the mound. I am sure that at least one or two of those young guys will hit a hard spot here and there but you never know how they will respond. It has been my experience that young guys seem to respond very well when they are on a winning club compared to cellar dwellers. If, you look back at Steve Avery, Mark Wohlers and Kent Mercker they did not begin so well, but, they still fit in with those great Braves’ Teams of the ’90s.

IMO, I think the young guns will do okay until the Dodgers regain their feet.

Dan 3Dan: I think the Dodgers can ride their rookies and the rest of their team all the way to the NLCS. They have a good enough team where, if, they beat whoever they are going to face, they can make it to the NLCS.

Rookie Brock Stewart gave up 1 run in 5 innings for the win in a 3-1 victory.
Rookie Brock Stewart gave up 1 run in 5 innings for the win in a 3-1 victory.

I don’t think they can beat the Cubs and I think it’s going to be tough for them to beat the Nationals. My overall prediction for them is they don’t get past Washington or Chicago, but, I do think they have the possibility and their team is good enough to get past Washington. I don’t think anybody will beat Chicago, but, we’ll get into that more in a bit.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Bold choice starting rookies, but, with the Giants all but throwing away the NL West, it didn’t hurt the Dodgers to go to these young arms to give their rotation some rest. However, I would expect some of these rookie arms to not play much of a role in the post season. Especially, if, Kershaw is ready to assume his role as the leader of the rotation.

It was great for the Dodgers to get some contributions from some young guns, but, I do not see the rookies making huge contributions in the playoffs.

Me (2)Joe:  In my opinion a team may be able to get by using four rookies  in a row during the regular season but when they are in the playoffs that will not play.

If, they a still using four rookies when (if) they face a team in the playoffs they will, in all likelihood, be out of the playoffs rather quick. Although, after watching Kershaw pitch last night against the Yanks… he threw 5  strong shutout innings with 5 Ks… I doubt that will be a reality.

Steve-01-288x300Steve:  The Dodgers can’t win in the post season without veterans, and Cy Young winners. So, no, the Dodgers are not going to be able to keep up this pace into the playoffs.

While they will get in, I see an early elimination once again for Los Angeles.

2) The Cubs right now seem to playing at an extremely high level…they are appear to be doing everything right…tagging up taking a base on pop fouls down the line, bunting players along, hitting for power, getting real good pitching… you name it and lately they seem to be doing it. As they embark to get the monkey of “No pennant in a gazillion years” off their back which team do you think that they could face in the playoffs might give them the most trouble and potentially stick a dagger in Cubbie fans’ hearts all over, once again? 

Archie1-300x277Archie: Washington Nationals.

Could the Nats burst the Cubs' WS dream...
Could the Nats burst the Cubs’ WS dream…

I have said it before, and for whatever reason, they are the team that keeps falling short of their potential, but, I can see where the Nats can derail the Cubbies WS trek. It might be harder for them
to do now that Stras has ended the season but I still feel like they have enough savvy and talent to end their quest.  

Dan 3Dan: I think the Washington Nationals of the National League have a great shot at sticking a dagger in the Cubs’ hearts of winning a World Series. They have a really nice team and some solid pitching. In the American League.

I also think the Red Sox and Texas have the best two shots at beating the Cubs in the World Series.

In all reality, in my opinion, I don’t think any team beats Chicago and they win their first World Series in over 100 years.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: The Cubs are definitely playing like a team that can finally end the franchise’s epic World Series drought. I think the Cubs coming as close to the World Series as they did last year, will push them over the edge this year. They know what that feeling is like. They felt the playoffs, and I think they are a determined bunch to get the job done. If they can handle that pressure, then I think 1908 will finally fall by the way side.

Me (2)Joe: I watched the Cubs vs the Astros Sunday night… and… if they play the way they played that night in the first 5 innings of the game (which, I though was pretty damn close to being near perfect baseball, they really could do nothing wrong), then they will win their first World Series title in a “gazillion” years. No one will be able to stop them.

If, however, they let their guard down… then, I think either Washington could poke a pin into their WS dreams, or, maybe, Boston (if, they make it  there) could in the WS.

... or maybe the Red Sox in the WS itself?
… or maybe the Red Sox in the WS itself?

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I have been hesitant to say it in the past that this is the Cubs’ year. However, they have the core of players, they have a playoff experience under there belt, and, they are playing like a team of destiny.

I don’t think this core of players really understand the “curse” and quite frankly don’t care. I will say it right now, that this may be in fact the year of the Cubs, and, I think a World Series berth is in there immediate future. That being said, I am still very worried about the San Francisco Giants. While they did win the season series against the Giants, San Francisco seems to play on another level when they get into the playoffs. I would not want to see them in the NLDS come October.  

3) After the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks missed a no-hitter by just 3 outs (9/12) and in the process won his 16th game, lowered his ERA to 2.09 and his WHIP to under 1.00, ESPN.com was ready to anoint him the winner of the NL Cy Young Award. Despite the fact there still about 20 games left in the season and despite the fact there are NL pitchers who have a lot more strikeouts, a better WHIP (by mere thousands of percentage points but still lower and who have more wins… e.g., Max Scherzer ring a bell? He beats Hendricks in two out of three of those categories (strikeouts and WHIP) and is tied with him in the other (wins). 

Is Hendricks, with his arguably very decent stats, the presumptive NL Cy Young Award winner or is ESPN.com putting the cart before the horse? 

Archie1-300x277Archie: I was just looking at this, a day or so back, and thinking about who all the CY talk/hype would be about in a week or so, and, Hendricks is certainly among the leaders. However, Scherzer is still my horse for that race. He has 30 more innings pitched. He beats Hendricks like you said in K’s, AVG and WHIP and has as many wins.

Kyle Hendricks
Kyle Hendricks

I am calling it too close to make the final vote at this point, but, if, the season ended today, I would vote for Max Scherzer.

Dan 3Dan: I think that Kyle Hendricks is the National League Cy Young Award winner. The only challenger in the National League would be Max Scherzer, but, it’s not because of wins. It’s because of his WHIP, strikeouts, and WAR.

In my opinion, wins is a ridiculously stupid stat to base any award off of. I’ve seen pitchers allow one run and get the loss. I’ve seen pitchers allow seven runs and get the win. Wins and losses for the pitcher don’t mean anything to me, just like a quarterback’s record in the NFL doesn’t mean anything to me either. It’s an entire team effort, not just one player.

Anyway, Hendricks is beating Scherzer by almost .70 points in the ERA competition and is able to pitch this well with almost 100 less strikeouts in 30 less innings. That’s really impressive to me. He wins it.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: ESPN was putting the cart before the horse but that is typical of ESPN. Scherzer does have the better stats, and as this question states he ranks ahead of Hendricks in two key categories. I’d personally give it to Scherzer but Hendricks will be in the discussion. He’s not the presumptive winner of the award, however.

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer

Me (2)Joe: As  good as Hendricks has been I just don’t think he is the best pitcher in the NL right now… yes,  I do like Scherzer more. Plus, there are about 20 games left in the season and for some pitchers that could mean another 4 starts… a lot can happen, and change, in 4 starts.

Bottom line… ESPN is putting the cart before the horse and let’s just wait until the season ends before we “give” the Cy Young Award to anyone.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: He should be. I mean there is no clear cut Cy Young candidate this year in the National League. Hendricks has been pitching better than any other pitcher, especially in the second half. He is the league leader in ERA and not far behind in wins with 15. He is pitching much like a former Cubs superstar pitcher, and former four time Cy Young winner, Greg Maddux. He is not overpowering but he pitches to the hitters weakness and makes proper adjustments when he has to.

I don’t think he will win it, but I would be shocked if he is not in the top 3.

4) Adam Jones, the Orioles star player, thinks he knows why MLB players have yet to follow Colin Kaepernick’s protest of injustice in America (whether you agree with his stance or not that’s his stated reason for sitting during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner): “Baseball is a white man’s sport.” Jones added that “We already have two strikes against us already. So, you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us.” To back that last statement up, he added that Blacks in baseball comprise about 8% of the players while in other sports the numbers are closer to 60%, or more, of the players on the field (or court).

In your opinion, would the backlash from MLB (owners and the Commissioner’s office, as well as from the non-Black players, be that vindictive that a Black player should fear following Kaepernick’s example? 

Adam Jones (far L) in pre-game ceremony
Adam Jones (far L) in pre-game ceremony

Archie1-300x277Archie: I think, more than Football and the other big two of NBA and NHL, there is more tradition in Baseball. Baseball is teeming with tradition and one of those is standing on  the foul line and presenting honors at the playing of the anthem. You are not lost in a crowd on the sidelines like in football. In fact , IMO IF the media did not make a big deal out of them kneeling or sitting during the NFL games, then,the general populace would not even know. In baseball however, it would be pretty damn obvious if some player took a knee or seat on the foul line during the anthem.

And, since we broached this subject just let me say this, and, I will try to do it without ranting: I could give a rat’s ass less if CK does not want to stand and show respect during the anthem, however, do NOT show disrespect. Stay your ass in the tunnel until after the anthem is played. That goes for any player.

Dan 3Dan: I think there would be.

A lot of the population of MLB players are white. A lot of the major fans of baseball, are white. A lot of the people who disagree with Kaepernick and who are extremely against any “disrespect” to the flag would disagree. The owners, etc… would disagree.

It’s just a lot of hassles for these players to get involved in something like that. But, I believe they should. If, Adam Jones feels strongly enough about the issue, he should take the risk and sit down during the National Anthem. You can get a lot of other players joining in. Who knows, you can really make a difference. There are 162 games in a season to make a difference and “stand” up for something you believe in.

I think there will be backlash if they do, but, I believe, they should, if, they truly believe in it.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I would hope it would not be as vindictive, but we really don’t know do we? Adam Jones has a point. No one has gone there yet. No one has taken that Kaepernick example in baseball, so we don’t really know how MLB owners, managers, or players will react. Maybe one of them, preferably Adam since he’s said these words, take the first step but until someone does, we really have no clue how MLB will react.

Me (2)Joe: Hopefully I would hope that the powers that be in MLB, as well as some of the players, would not be vindictive to any player who decided to not stand for the Star Spangled Banner or any other so-called song of nationalistic patriotism. It’s called non-violent protest and everyone should be able to follow their consciences and nonviolently protest as they see fit.adam_jones_

However, yes, I do think there would be some backlash in the sport (same as there is in the other sports) and I think MLB management (although, it would be behind the scenes) would try and pressure the protesters more than the other sports… especially, if they were not star/established players.

One last word… not standing for a “patriotic song” at  a MLB game by player is not new. In 2004, Carlos Delgado (NY Yankees) did not stand during the playing  of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch  to protest the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. At the time he said, “It’s a very terrible thing that happened on September 11. It’s a terrible thing (what) happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, … I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But, I think it’s the stupidest war ever.”

He took a shitstorm of abuse for his stance and his beliefs but he still played a pretty damn long and somewhat successful career, didn’t he (until 2011)?

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I don’t agree with Jones assessment with Baseball being a “white mans game.” There are plenty of African American, Latino, and International players playing in the majors right now. Baseball is America’s game and by sitting for the National anthem it is a slap in the face to the United States, as well as to Major League Baseball.

(Editor’s note: I thank the crew for dealing with this question in a responsible and respectable manner, although personal feelings, on both sides of the issue, are probably very strong.)

5) Last Wild Card spot in the AL? Tigers, Yankees or someone else and why? 

Archie1-300x277Archie: Not the Yankees. They have three clubs to overcome at this point.

But, it would not surprise me IF the two WC in the AL both came from the Eastern Division. Between Boston, Toronto and Baltimore, which ever two do not win the division has a pretty good chance of playing that one game so called play-off game.

AL Wild Card as of Sept. 13h
AL Wild Card as of Sept. 13th

Dan 3Dan: New York Yankees have been extremely hot since the trade deadline posting the best record in the majors since then. They’re on an absolute tear at the right time even though they traded Beltran, Miller and Chapman. Alex Rodriguez retired, or, was forced to quit. They’ve been lighting it up from the Judge to Sanchez at catcher having an incredible stretch since being called up. This team is absolutely on fire and it’s at the perfect time.

They get the final Wild Card spot and win the Wild Card round.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I was hoping the Baby Bombers could make a run at the second Wild Card but it looks like they are just too far out.

I’d have to go with the Tigers for now. They look to have enough to hold all the other contenders for the 2nd Wild Card at bay.

Me (2)Joe: I’m holding out hope for the Yankees… a lot will be determined in the next 4 days as they play the division leading Red Sox and they need to take 3 out of 4, if not all, of the games to be have a reasonable chance to still be standing in the the wild card race in my opinion. But, barring the Yankees beating the snot out the Sox… I think the last wild card will be either the Tigers OR the Orioles… that is if the O’s don’t overtake the Red Sox for the AL East. If, that occurs, then the Red Sox will be the first or second wild card.

Steve-01-288x300Steve:  I still think it is going to be the Baltimore Orioles, who along with the Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox will be the two representatives in the American League Wild Card game.

The Orioles, have a tough schedule, but, they have the luxury of playing the games that are meaningful to essentially control their fate. They can hit and can hit better than any team in Baseball. Chris Tillman is the ace in the hole, and as long as he can keep this pitching staff alive and at least generating a pulse, the Orioles should be playing October baseball.

Extra Innings…

Carlton after striking out a major-league record 19 Mets & losing the game 4-3..."It's irritating, it's frustrating... It's part of baseball."
Carlton after striking out a major-league record 19 Mets & losing the game 4-3…”It’s irritating, it’s frustrating… It’s part of baseball.”

On September 15th, 1969, Steve Carlton (St. Louis) struck out 19 Mets for a nine-inning game record.

 

Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals set the then major league record by striking out 19 New York Mets. But, the Mets still won the game, 4-3, on a pair of two-run home runs by Ron Swoboda.

Six times the 19 strikeout mark has been achieved in a game… Of course, Carlton and, then, Randy Jonson (twice), David Cone, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver.

However, since Randy Johnson last achieved 19 Ks in a game on August 8, 1997, the twenty strikeout mark has been achieved four times… Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Max Scherzer just this year on May 11th.

 

carlton-hilite-19k

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