The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

This week was started in true baseball fanatic fashion. I had the luxury of attending 3 games at Yankee Stadium against the Minnesota Twins on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. The first time out to the ballpark each year is always one of the best feelings any baseball fan can experience. Looking back on the “Twins trifecta” at The Stadium there is no better way to describe it than with the title of the famous Clint Eastwood flick “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

The Good came on Monday night in a showdown between Ivan Nova and Scott Baker. A good preface to how this game played out came on the 4 train from Manhattan to the Bronx. Listening into a conversation between a Twins fan, who flew in from Minny-sooooota for the game, and a Yankee fan I heard the Justin Morneau lover explain that Scott Baker is a fly ball pitcher which likely would not fare well against the Yanks. He was right. The Yankees scored all 4 of their runs on a pair of 2 run homers by Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. Big flies killed Baker on this night. Ivan Nova was impressive registering a quality start(6 inning of 3 run ball.) He took a no hitter into the 4th inning and had it broken up by Morneau one pitch after the obnoxious woman to the right of me started talking about the no-no. Clearly she did not know the etiquette on that type of thing. The Yanks then went to what has come to be known as “The Formula;” Joba in the 7th, Rafael Soriano in the 8th and Mariano Rivera in the 9th to close it out. The trio now known as JoSoMo blew threw the Twins order and secured the win.

The Bad came on Tuesday night. The Bronx Bombers were in the drivers seat from the very first inning through the 7th inning. A Mark Teixeira 3 run bomb and Andruw Jones solo shot, both off south paw Brian Duensing, gave the Yanks an early 4-0 lead. Then came the 8th inning. At 4-0 in the 8th inning Joe Girardi chose to go to Rafael Soriano instead of sticking with his work horse CC Sabathia. “The Bad” came on two fronts in this inning. First, Joe Girardi can not pull CC in that spot. Sabathia had a shut out going and only 104 pitches under his belt; which is not a heavy load for the big man. In a rotation which has pitchers who can not work as deeply into games as Sabathia it is imperative that the bullpen, that needs to be leaned on heavily this season for the Yankees to have success, not be overused in his starts especially. However, the move was made and Soriano was the man called on. Rafi had no command of his pitches and simply could not find the plate. Soriano allowed the game to be tied at 4(David Robertson could not bail him out) and we got some free baseball in the Bronx. Boone Logan, who has not been sharp this year in his lefty specialist role allowed the game winning run to come across the dish in the 10th inning on a Joe Mauer RBI single. This was a grand disappointment to all the New York fans including myself. Bad decisions and bad execution.

Finally, The Ugly came on a wet Wednesday night. After arriving to cathedral that is Yankee Stadium an hour before the game the tarp was still on the infield. Fifteen minutes passed, then thirty, then forty five and the tarp was still sitting on the field. The rain was not coming down particularly hard but it was that just enough to disrupt a baseball game for players and fans alike. A delay was announced and ultimately this game was delayed. It was certainly an ugly night at the Stadium given the gross weather, the hole burned in my pocket snacking on goodies, including Nathan’s cheese fries and Twizzlers, and the fact that this baseball lover did not get to watch a single pitch!

All in all it was a tremendous week of baseball games and this guy is looking forward to seeing the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles take on the Boys from the Bronx. Make sure you vote in the WTP Weekly Poll below; post follow up coming tomorrow.

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WTP Weekly Poll: 4/4/11-4/10/11

The first poll of the 2011 season was inspired by events and results from Major League Baseball’s opening weekend. Vote away!

Results at close of poll:

  1. Pirates finish better than Astros: 44%
  2. Mark Teixeira 50 Homers: 38%
  3. Red Sox miss playoffs: 6%
  4. Orioles contend all year: 6%
  5. Chase Utley misses 2011 season: 6%
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Opening Weekend Overreactions

Baseball season is in full swing folks as we have no a full series worth of games for each team now in the books. As is the case every season there are some events during the opening series of the year that has people jumping to some crazy conclusions. Other overreactions may prove not to be so crazy after all and that the opening series performances were in fact tone setters for the entire season. Here are a few notable overreactions that have been discussed on this Opening Weekend of baseball.

  • Albert Pujols goes 0 for 5 with 3 GIDP on Opening Day. There are people out there who believe that Pujols is/will be distracted by his looming free agency and contract talks. Albert Pujols is without question one of the most professional, not to mention most talented, ball players in the game today. Everyone has an off day and just because it happened to be the worst he ever had does not mean he will be on a crash course in 2011. It is fair to expect a regularly Pujols-esque year out of Albert if not better; we all know players tend to elevate their game in walk years.
  • John Axford has Opening Day meltdown and blows save to Reds. Axford surrendered 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning on Thursday leading to the Reds first win(a walk off win) of 2011. The Brewers were a popular preseason pick by many people to be the division winner in the NL Central due to their powerful offense(tops in the NL in 2010) and the bolstering up for their starting rotation(Greinke, Marcum, Gallardo) but now those same people are jumping off the bandwagon because they do not believe that Milwaukee will be able to close out wins late in games. John Axford saved 24 games last year in 27 chances, pitched to a 2.48 ERA and struck out 76 men in 58 inning. Talent like that does not just dissolve. Despite the poor showing on Thursday(and ultimate sweep by the Reds,) Axford should be okay and the Brew Crew should compete for that division crown this season.
  • The Boston Red Sox are swept in Arlington by the Texas Rangers. As a Yankee fan I was glad to see the BoSox go down three times, as a bettor not so much. People are trying to knit-pick and find out what is wrong with the Red Sox since they were believed out of the gate to be one of the most dominant teams we were ever going to see. Carl Crawford has struggled at the plate in the early going but he is a perennial all star and will find his stroke; this is nothing to get crazy about. The Red Sox simply have too much talent on that roster, both offensively and in the pitching staff, to not be a successful contender in 2011. Nothing is wrong with the Boston Red Sox, they just ran into a very good Rangers team and did not play well for a few games. The good news for them is that there are 159 games left this season to get the monkey off their back.
  • Barry Larkin says Rickie Weeks will hit 40 home runs this season. I love me some Barry Larkin. He is one of the best shortstops I have ever seen play the game but maybe he should not be predicting such outlandish things. Larkin says he worked with Rickie Weeks this offseason and that he is poised for a huge season in 2011. He was reacting to Rickie’s Opening Day performance in which he blasted a lead off home run and followed that up with an RBI double the next inning. Rickie Weeks is a very nice player and will earn every dollar of that juicy extension he got this offseason but 40 home runs? Really Barry? It is not out of the realm of possibility since Weeks hit 29 dingers in 2010 but that was considered to be a huge break out year for Rickie, so to expect him to progress in a huge way again this year is asking a lot of the guy.

Leave some comments with your favorite Opening Weekend overreactions. Stay tuned for this week’s baseball poll question!

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Push Him or Pull Him? That is the Question

Most baseball fans, including my own, knee jerk reaction when Buck Showalter did not send out Chris Tillman for the 7th inning when he was working on a no hitter of the Rays(who else right?) through 6 was, “What the hell is he doing?” After getting that initial shock out of the system and looking a little deeper at the situation and numbers, maybe Buck’s move tonight was not so insane after all.

Chris Tillman had pitched 6 innings, allowing no hits while walking 3 and striking out 5. He also, had thrown 101 pitches up to this point. This is the equivalent to throwing 16.8 pitches per inning. At this pace Tillman would have ended the game over 150 pitches, had he went the distance and succeed with the no-no(obviously he would have been pulled if it was broken up at any time after this point.) The old school baseball fan, like myself, wants to see these kids work deeper into games and not have an automatic hook after 100 pitches. The reality of the game these days though is that organizations will do all they can to protect their young arms because they are such a major investment and usually the keys to a successful, winning future.

There seems to be no other rationale for Tillman getting pulled when he did outside of the pitch count situation. He was consistently throwing(on average) between 90.5 and 89.1 MPH over his six innings. This shows us that he clearly had not lost much a considerable amount of velocity over the course of the game and despite walking Ben Zobrist in the 6th inning he was still in great command of all his pitches. However, the fact of the matter is that Chris Tillman has never thrown more than 110 pitches in a regular season game at the major league level. The 110 pitch game came in 2009 against Texas on September 4th. At this point in the year his arm was plenty stretched out and in shape to throw that many pitches in one outing. Tillman only threw 135 pitches in all of Spring Training this year; his peak in one game being 46 against Boston last Sunday.

While it would have been incredibly epic to see a 22 year old rising star throw a no hitter on the 3rd day of the season it is will be better in the long run to not gas a young kid in his very first start of the season. Manager Buck Showalter believes this team has a chance to be very successful this year, as well he should considering Baltimore went 34-23 under his tutelage last season. Buck is a very good manager and looks big picture. Despite my initial reaction(as seen by my immediate tweet) the right move was made. At the end of the day the Orioles won the game 3-1 and that is the ultimate goal.

Final note: Chris Tillman must love to pitch in April. Along with this performance, for those who do not know/remember, Tillman tossed a no-hitter at AAA Norfolk last season on April 28, 2010.

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Bracket of the Bros 2011 Full Results

In the first annual Bracket of the Bros(featuring Joe Carfagno, Zack Scheetz, Ryan Lencki, Michael Persie, Paul Kuehn and Joe Dombrowski) the Bros decided what better Tournament of 68 than one of the hottest women in the world. He are the full result from the tournament and each round is linked up to its corresponding WTP blog post. WTP will be all baseball all the time for the next 11 months until March 2012 rolls around and the Bros construct a tournament of some other intriguing topic(side dishes? TV characters? Movies?) Here are the full result, check out the links to check out how the match ups played out in more depth or just to check out some solid pic of hot chicks. Enjoy!

Hot Babe Bracket: Hottest Babe Final Face-off

  • 1. Scarlett Johansson vs. 1. Minka Kelly

Hot Babe Bracket Foxy 4

  • 1. Emmanuelle Chriqui vs. 1. Scarlett Johansson
  • 1. Minka Kelly vs. 1. Brooklyn Decker

Hot Babe Bracket Erotic 8

  • 1. Emmanuelle Chriqui vs. 3. Jessica Alba
  • 1. Minka Kelly vs. 2. Kim Kardashian
  • 1. Brooklyn Decker vs. 3. Eva Mendes
  • 1. Scarlett Johansson vs. 2. Marisa Miller

Hot Babe Bracket Sexy 16

Audrey Hepburn Region Round 2

  • 1. Emmanuelle Chriqui vs. 9. Natalie Portman
  • 5. Jana Kramer vs. 4. Anne Hathaway
  • 11. Jennifer Love Hewitt vs. 3. Jessica Alba
  • 7. Megan Fox vs. 2. Amber Heard

Monica Bellucci Region Round 2

  • 1. Minka Kelly vs. 8. Keira Knightley
  • 5. Sophia Bush vs. 4. Jordana Brewster
  • 11. Jennifer Lopez vs. 3. Halle Berry
  • 10. Christina Hendricks vs. 2. Kim Kardashian

Grace Kelly Region Round 2

  • 1. Brooklyn Decker vs. 8. Jennifer Morrison
  • 5. Sofia Vergara vs. 4. Giselle Bundchen
  • 6. Adriana Lima vs. 3. Eva Mendes
  • 10. Mila Kunis vs. 2. Beyonce

Marilyn Monroe Region Round 2

  • 1. Scarlett Johannson vs. 9. Elisha Cuthbert
  • 5. Lacey Chabert vs. 4. Olivia Wilde
  • 6. Kate Beckinsale vs. 3. Maria Menounos
  • 7. Blake Lively vs. 2. Marisa Miller

Audrey Hepburn Region Round 1

  • 1. Emmanuelle Chriqui vs. 16. Katy Perry/Zooey Deschannel
  • 8. Rihanna vs. 9. Natalie Portman
  • 5. Jana Kramer vs. 12. Hayden Panettiere
  • 4. Anne Hathaway vs. 13. Rachel Bilson
  • 6. Penelope Cruz vs. 11. Jennifer Love Hewitt
  • 3. Jessica Alba vs. 14. Reese Witherspoon
  • 7. Megan Fox vs. 10. Brittany Snow
  • 2. Amber Heard vs. 15. Gemma Arterton

Monica Bellucci Region Round 1

  • 1. Minka Kelly vs. 16. Leighton Meester/Emma Watson
  • 8. Keira Knightley vs. 9. Yvonne Strahovski
  • 5. Sophia Bush vs. 12. Amy Adams
  • 4. Jordana Brewster vs. 13. Rachel McAdams
  • 6. Jessica Biel vs. 11. Jennifer Lopez
  • 3. Halle Berry vs. 14. Danica Patrick
  • 7. Dania Ramirez vs. 10. Christina Hendricks
  • 2. Kim Kardashian vs. 15. Jenna Fischer

Grace Kelly Region Round 1

  • 1. Brooklyn Decker vs. 16. Janet Montgomery/Emily Blunt
  • 8. Jennifer Morrison vs. 9. Sienna Miller
  • 5. Sofia Vergara vs. 12. Elin Nordgeren
  • 4. Giselle Bundchen vs. 13. Angelina Jolie
  • 6. Adriana Lima vs. 11. Isla Fisher
  • 3. Eva Mendes vs. 14. Shakira
  • 7. Kristin Cavallari vs. 10. Mila Kunis
  • 2. Beyonce vs. 15. Kaley Cuoco

Marilyn Monroe Region Round 1

  • 1. Scarlett Johansson vs. 16. Katie Aselton/Charlize Theron
  • 8. Jennifer Connelly vs. 9. Elisha Cuthbert
  • 5. Lacey Chabert vs. 12. Julianne Hough
  • 4. Olivia Wilde vs. 13. Maria Sharapova
  • 6. Kate Beckinsale vs. 11. Danneel Harris
  • 3. Maria Menounos vs. 14. Eliza Dushku
  • 7. Blake Lively vs. 10. Ashley Greene
  • 2. Marisa Miller vs. 15. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
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Hot Babe Bracket: Hottest Babe Final Face Off

1. Scarlett Johansson def. 1. Minka Kelly 3-1

  • It is time to officially crown the first Bracket of the Bros champion. In this inaugural year of the Bracket of the Bros the tournament was a tourney of the hottest women in the world. The final match up came down between blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson and Mrs. Derek Jeter, Minka Kelly. Minka Kelly has recently been called the Sexiest Woman in the World by Esquire Magazine. She is an all around threat as we fall in love with her as a cheerleader in Friday Night Lights and her sexiness will only be enhanced when she is unveiled as one of the new Charlie’s Angels. She has been riding the Derek Jeter’s girl card all throughout this tournament and is considered to be quite overrated by some of the Bros. The fact of the matter is although she made it entertaining she was no match for the absolutely stunning Scarlett Johansson. She is no stranger to the the tops of hottest women in the world lists(Esquire 2006 #1, Playboy 2007 #1 and GQ 2010 #1) and is considered a peerless sex symbol.  The Lost in Translation star downed 2 of the hottest around in the Erotic 8(Marisa Miller) and Foxy 4(Emmanuelle Chriqui.) Kelly was a much easier win for Scarlett Jo as she becomes our first annual Bracket of the Bros champion.

1. Scarlett Johansson

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Exciting Day One in the Books

Opening Day has came and went and was filled with excitement despite a slate of only 6 games on this 31st day of March. We saw some great pitching performances, plenty of household names going deep, 2 new managers getting their first win with their new teams, the season’s first walk off home run and extra inning game. Let’s take a look at how the slate of 6 played out.

The Braves kicked it off this afternoon against the Nationals in the first NL East divisional battle of the year. Derek Lowe looked very good in his first start of the season shutting down the Nats bats over 5.2 innings and fanning 6 in the process. Lowe picked up right where he left off; he was 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA over 30.2 innings in September last season. Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel helped to shut the door in the 8th and 9th in the Braves 2-0 showing that they could quite possibly be the best lefty-righty duo in any 2011 bullpen. Remember last season when Jason Heyward went deep in his first Major League at bat? Well he did it again today when he hit a shot in the first at bat of his sophomore campaign. This Heyward kid is a special player.

The Yankees also started their season at 1:05 today, taking on the Tigers in the Bronx. This was a battle of aces and perennial American League Cy Young candidates; CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander. Justin Verlander looked filthy early for the Tigers but left a pitch up that Mark Teixeira blasted in the the left field stands for a 3 run bomb. The key players in this game were the trio involved in the trade between Detroit and the Yankees before the 2010 season. For those who do not remember the Tigers shipped Curtis Granderson to the Yanks for blue chip prospect Austin Jackson and lefty reliever Phil Coke. Not only did the Grandy man hit the go ahead homer that would ultimately be the game winner for the Yankees(off of Coke) he made numerous web gem caliber catches in centerfield saving extra base hits. Austin Jackson struggled at the plate striking out 3 times. Another big story was the Yankees bullpen which looked absolutely filthy. Joba, Soriano and Mariano combined for 3 innings, struck out 3 and did not allow a base runner. They will be shortening a lot of games this year.

Cincy and Milwaukee had the most exciting inning of the day. I can’t say it was the most feature=player_embedded]exciting game because the Brewers were in the drivers seat all game long until the bottom of the 9th. John Axford entered the game for the Brewers for his first save opportunity of the year with the Brew Crew up 6-3. He had no command of his pitches and loaded the bases full of Reds before even recording an out. A fluke play involving a missed tag by third baseman Casey McGehee lead to this unfavorable predicament. The entire city of Cincinnati thought Jonny Gomes had ended the game with a grand slam to center field but the shot fell short and ended up being only a sac fly. This made no difference because Ramon Hernandez took an Axford fastball the other way with enough juice behind it to clear the rightfield wall. The Reds came back from 3 down and won in walk off fashion on Opening Day.

The matchup between the Angels and Royals was not overly exciting in any way. Jered Weaver logged a dominant performance working 6.1 innings allowing only 4 base runners and striking out 6 Royals. The Angels appear to have the best defensive outfield in the Majors, they have 3 gold glove caliber centerfielders in Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter out there. They will be covering more ground than anyone else this season. Hunter hit a moonshot off Luke Hochevar, getting his season off on the right foot.

The first extra inning game of the season happened out in St. Louis this afternoon. The Padres were able to chip away at the Cardinals slim lead and force extra innings with 2 outs in the 9th. Ryan Franklin, a closer who pitches to contact as opposed to more standard fireballing closer, gave up a home run to dead center to Cameron Maybin; Franklin only needed 1 out to end the game. The Padres went on to win the game in extra innings when Jon Jay flubbed a throw to cut off man Ryan Theroit allowing Chase Headley to score the go ahead run. Can’t talk about this game without mentioning that Albert Pujols had the worse game of his career going 0 for 5 with 3 GIDPs. It would be absurd for us to read too much into this and think Albert won’t be Albert but it is still a notable fact.

The final game of the night has just finished up on ESPN. This was the National League’s answer to Sabathia-Verlander; Tim Lincecum for the Giants vs. Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers. While Lincecum had a good outing(7 IP, 1 R but 0 ER and 5 strikeouts,) Kershaw looked absolutely filthy and dominated this game. Kershaw’s pitches appeared to have so much movement on them it is a mystery how anyone was able to make contact with them. He ended up striking out 8 batters through 7 before handing the ball off to Kuo and Broxton who closed the door for the Dodgers giving them a 2-1 win. A lot of people’s NL Cy Young pick of Clayton Kershaw is looking pretty good right off the bat.

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