Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baseball is Awesome - It's December 25th

Dear Baseball and Red Sox fans: Today, being the 25th of December, I know most of my readers are thinking of other things.  There is so much going on today.  The NBA season is finally kicking off, there's an NFL game with playoff implications tonight, the sci-fi movie, The Darkest Hour is being released at theatres nationwide, people are concerned about Prince Philip's recovery and there's a myriad of other things for people to be thinking about.

But I'm thinking of something that happened hundreds of years ago.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yu Darvish

There have been rumours over the last few days that he could be going to one of our rivals.  Among the favourites are the Yankees (who are rarely not favoured to win a bidding war) and the Blue Jays.  If either team wins, it will make our path to the postseason more difficult than it already is.  Rangers and Cubs among others are also supposedly in the mix.  But let me clear up all the confusion for you.

I have breaking news am am glad to be the first to publicly announce this.  An inside source has CONFIRMED that

Friday, December 9, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - Monster home run highlights sweep

Manny Ramirez had some memorable moments as a member of the Red Sox.  It started right away when he hit a 3 run home run on the very first pitch he saw at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox.   And of course, nobody will forget the moment pictured on the left, when he hit a walkoff homerun to give Boston a 2-0 ALDS lead over the Angels, whom they then swept en route to winning the 2007 World Series.

But the first time I realized we were watching something special, was on June 3rd, 2001  at the Skydome (as it was then called) in Toronto.  Not only did he hit an awe-inspiring blast, but at the time it looked like it might be a key moment in the season.

At the end of May Boston was tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead, and whoever didn't win the division was already 5 games behind in the wildcard chase.  Boston then went to Toronto, and as I've mentioned before, good things happen to the Red Sox when they cross the border.  Boston beat the Blue Jays the first 3 games and in the 4th game they were down 2-0 in the 4th inning when this happened:

Manny hits a towering home run that was measured at 491 feet, and before the crowd had time to stop ooing,  Dante Bichette hit another one to tie the game.  The Red Sox ended up winning to complete the sweep, and left Canada with a 2 game lead on New York.

Another reason baseball is awesome.  No matter the lack of importance of a game or the score, you should always keep watching because you never know when you are going to see something that makes you go "Wow!".

Epilogue: The Red Sox lead did not last long and by the end of the month they were chasing the Yankees who ended up running away with the division in what turned out to be a disappointing season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - The Jeff Stone game

This is my next entry in my series of Baseball is Awesome off-season posts.  If you've read the introductory post and the first one I wrote on Mike Gardiner you know that this is a series of posts focusing on great Red Sox related moments with some Canadian content.  Today's post is on a game that came to be known simply as "The Jeff Stone game".

Ok, there were no Canadians involved in this game, and it took place at Fenway.  So where's the Canadian connection?

First, a brief (or not so) history lesson.  Believe it or not, the Yankees were not always our most hated rivals.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME! - Canadian hurler wins Red Sox debut

This is the first in my series of Baseball is Awesome off-season posts.  Something to read and keep you looking forward to those first days of spring when baseball season starts and anything can happen.  Most of these stories will not show up on The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told.  But they will be interesting to any baseball fan, and as this series focuses on Red Sox related moments with some Canadian content, I hope in particular Red Sox and/or Canadian fans enjoy them.

On September 8th, 1990 Mike Gardiner made his MLB debut, at Fenway.   He had languished in the Mariners farm system for a while, never getting above AA, but was rewarded with a September call up.  In a blowout game he came in to pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th with his team losing 9-2. He gave up a hit allowing an inherited runner to score, but then struck out Randy Kutcher to end the inning.  It was a fairly unremarkable appearance, not noted by many, except me.  You see, Mike Gardiner was not only one of the handful of Canadians in the MLB, he was from my hometown of Sarnia.  I did everything I could to follow his career path (which was difficult in those pre-internet days).  Once he made that first appearance in the show, I told everyone how great he was going to be, and how proud I was that someone from my little hometown was going to make it big.   It mainly fell on deaf ears.   And this post is not about this first appearance anyways....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BBWAA vs. BBA Awards - who chose better?

Now that all major awards have been handed out by the BBWAA (and the Baseball Blogger's Alliance (BBA) had already announced their awards ahead of time), it's time to compare and see how well they matched, and where they differed who had the better selection.  I previously posted the BBA selections, and links to the Boston Chapter's vote as well as my personal input into that vote on the awards tracker post.  Feel free to look through the links there for reasonings behind my picks.   Here, without further commentary, are the final results for each award.  For the most part, the Bloggers' awards match the real ones with a few slight differences.  I would be interested in readers' opinions of whether the BBA totally missed the boat, or if they replaced the BBWAA membership votes and gave it to a bunch of guys (and gals) blogging from their mom's basement, if the real awards would be more meaningful.   Please comment below and/or shoot me a line on twitter @rsn_alberta.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baseball is AWESOME!

and the the sky is blueand Kate Upton is hot.

Now that we have the obvious out of the way...  I've finally gotten over the painful end of the Sox season, and  am ready to start writing again.  I am going to start a series called "Baseball is Awesome" where every week, (or every few days or whenever I feel like writing) I will post a new article recapping a particular game, moment or event, in Red Sox history that shows why Baseball IS awesome.  Now, the greatest moments in Sox history has already been done... probably multiple times, in blogs, books and even video form, if you want to get it below,

but this will have a slight twist to it.

I am restricting this list to great Canadian moments in Red Sox history. May be by a Canadian player or it happened in Canada or otherwise has some significance for Canadians.   But it should be an entertaining read for any fan of our Old-Towne Team.  I look forward to writing it, hope you are looking forward to reading it.

I will update this post to serve as a link to the Series:
Baseball is Awesome - Canadian Hurler wins Red Sox debut
Baseball is Awesome - The Jeff Stone game
Baseball is Awesome - Monster Home Run highlights sweep
Baseball is Awesome - Jason Bay: Canadian hero
Baseball is Awesome - Maligned Canadian Pitcher closes out Series Win
Basebal is Awesome - Gives You Perspective
Baseball is Awesome - Youkilis First Home Run

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Tracker

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 316 blogs (including yours truly) spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted.    As a member of the Boston chapter, I am privileged to vote for all the American League awards, and our Chapter president tallies up the votes and submits our combined ballot.

The official website of the BBA is located at The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba.

This post will have a link to all the awards, showing RSN-Alberta’s ballot, the Boston chapter’s combined ballot, and the BBA award recipient.  I will continuously update this as new winners are announced, so bookmark this page. EDIT: All awards updated now.

Click on the links on the individual awards for the reasoning behind these selections, and to leave any comments.

Connie Mack Award  - Manager of the Year
My ballot
1. Joe Girardi
2. Joe Maddon
3. Ron Washington
Boston Chapter
1. Maddon
2. Jim Leyland
3. Washington
BBA Award Recipient
AL -  Maddon
NL - Kirk Gibson

Willie Mays Award – Rookie of the Year
My ballot
1. Michael Pineda
2. Dustin Ackley
3. Brett Lawrire
Boston Chapter
1. Eric Hosmer
2. Jeremy Hellickson
3. Desmond Jennings
BBA Award Recipients
AL- Hosmer / Hellickson (tie)
NL - Craig Kimbrel

Goose Gossage Award – Reliever of the Year
My ballot
1. David Robertson
2. Jonathan Papelbon
3. Mariano Rivera
Boston Chapter
1. Robertson
2. Papelbon
3. Rivera
BBA Award Recipients
AL - Valverde
NL - Kimbrel

Walter Johnson Award – Pitcher of the Year
My ballot
1. Justin Verlander
2. Jered Weaver
3. CC Sabathia
4. Doug Fister
5. CJ Wilson
Boston Chapter
1. Verlander
2. Sabathia
3. Weaver
4. Dan Haren
5. James Shield
BBA Award Recipients
AL - Justin Verlander
NL - Clayton Kershaw

Stan Musial Award – Player of the Year
1. Jose Bautista
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jacoby Ellsbury
4. Dustin Pedroia
5. Miguel Cabrera
6. Alex Gordon
7. Ian Kinsler
8. Evan Longoria
9. Curtis Granderson
10. Jered Weaver
1. Ellsbury
2. Bautista
3. Cabrera
4. Verlander
5. Pedroia
6. Longoria
7. Granderson
8. Robinson Cano
9.(T) Gordon
9.(T) Kinsler
BBA Award Recipients
AL - Jose Bautista
NL - Matt Kemp

Oh yea... Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on culminating a very exciting post-season with their Championship!

St Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champion Fans

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Walter Johnson Award

Later this week, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance will announce the winners of the 2011 Walter Johnson Award given to the best pitcher.  There are some interesting debates going on for the National League candidates, but if the Boston Chapter of the BBA is representative of the rest of the American League voting, there should be no suspense as to who the AL winner will be.   In an unanimous vote, all Boston voting members selected Justin Verlander as the clear winner.   And for very good reasons, as I elaborated when I made by ballot public.  On Thursday the BBA will likely confirm Verlander as the AL award recipient and I look forward to seeing how the membership voted in what should be a much tighter NL race.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Goose Gossage Award

Now that the BBA has named their Connie Mack and Willie Mays award winners (for manager and rookie of the year), the next announcement will be for the Goose Gossage Award for top reliever.   I had made my picks earlier, giving a rival Yankee the top spot on my ballot.  And it wasn't even for Mr. Enter Sandman himself, but to David Robetson.  Surely not many others would pick a middle reliever, and I certainly never thought that fellow Red Sox bloggers would be so willing to give top honour to a Yankee. So imagine my surprise, when not only did the Boston Chapter also place Robertston #1 on our collective ballot, but matched my picks perfectly giving 2nd spot to Jonathan Papelbon  and the aforementioned Mariano Rivera as the #3 pick.   The BBA will make their announcement for both the AL and NL winners early next week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Willie Mays Award

Yesterday I shared the Boston Chapter and BBA's selections for the Connie Mack Award,  and today we will continue the post-season awards with a look at who were the top rookies named.  As a reminder, I picked Seattle's Michael Pineda over teammate Dustin Ackley and the Jays' Brett Lawrie on my Willie Mays award ballot.  I made my case for these players and also explained why I left other favourites such as Eric Hosmer and Jeremy Hellickson off my ballot. Alas, the other members of the Boston Chapter voted differently, giving the award to Hosmer.  Hellickson was second and Desmond Jennings got the 3rd place vote on the Chapter's ballot.  Take a look here for the details of the voting.  This ballot will count towards the BBA's official award, which will be named in the next few days.  I will update this with the final results once they are announced.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

BBA Boston Chapter Connie Mack Award

Now that I have posted my personal ballots for all the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) awards, time to share the final results.

I am a member of the Boston Chapter of the BBA.  Each Chapter gets two votes, and as Boston is an American League team, we only voted on the AL awards.  Each member of the chapter votes for any and all of the awards, with each vote getter being assigned a number value, based on where they are in the voting, and whoever gets the most votes, gets the Chapter's nod for that award.

The first award of 2011 is the Connie Mack Award, given to the Best Manager in the American League.
Here are the Boston Chapter’s Top 3 Selections:
  • Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays - 20 points
  • Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers - 6 points
  • Ron Washington, Texas Rangers - 5 points
The results were a little different than what I had picked, and in fact I was only the only member to give a vote to Joe Girardi (would you expect differently from a bunch of Red Sox fans?), but I can't argue with the selection of Maddon who I had in 2nd place.

Overall, the BBA's selections matched those of the Boston Chapter, with Maddon winning handily with 22 of 25 1st place votes.  In the NL, Kirk Gibson won unanimously with Ron Roenicke of the Brewers coming in 2nd  and Tony LaRussa edging out Charlie Manuel for 3rd place.  You can view the entire BBA results here.

2011 AL Stan Musial Award

Time for my ballot for the last award that I have the privilege to vote on as part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) (@BaseballBlogs). I have already selected the Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award),Top Rookie (Willie Mays),Top Pitcher (Walter Johnson) and Best Reliever (Goose Gossage).  My votes go towards the Boston Chapter of the BBA, who get 2 votes in total for each of the American League awards.  The only award left for me to vote on is the Stan Musial award given to the Player of the Year.   This was a tough choice.  Unlike in previous years where there is an obvious choice, or it's a 2 player horse race, this season there were many deserving candidates, each of whom I could vote for at #1 and not get ridiculed.   Did I select hometown favourite Jacoby Ellsbury?  Tiger ace Justin Verlander?  Did I do the unthinkable and pick Curtis Granderson, who would be my 3rd Yankee award winner?  The RSN Alberta vote for the 2011 Stan Musial Award goes to...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 AL Goose Gossage Award

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance I get to vote for the major awards.  I have already posted my AL winners for the Connie Mack (manager), Walter Johnson (pitcher) and Willie Mays (rookie) awards.  Today I tackle the Goose Gossage award handed out to the top reliever.   This was a tough one.  What to look at?  Saves? ERA? WAR?    Ultimately I used a combination of numbers and non statistical measures of what they meant to their team.

The winner of the 2011 AL Goose Gossage award goes to....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 AL Willie Mays Award

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have already voted for the 2011 AL Connie Mack Award for top manager, and Walter Johnson Award for top pitcher.  Now, in what might be the toughest and closest race, is my ballot for the Willie Mays award for top rookie.   It was an excellent rookie crop.  Among pitchers we had Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda , Jeremy Hellickson, Alexi Ogando and Zach Britton who all had great inaugural seasons.  On the offensive side of the field we had Eric Hosmer, Dustin Ackley, Mark Trumbo, JP Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Desmond Jennings and Jemile Weeks among others to consider.

So, who gets my vote for the 2011 AL Willie Mays Award?

2011 AL Walter Johnson Award

In what should come as no surprise to any baseball fan, my pick for the AL Walter Johnson award, for best pitcher in the American League, goes to Justin Verlander.
First the raw stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 Ks.   This while leading the league in innings pitched with 251 and a WHIP of 0.92.  League leaders are usually above 1, and this is the 2nd lowest mark in the AL since 1972 (to Pedro's record setting mark in 2000).  But aside from the stats, he is the major reason the Tigers ran away with their division.  Take him away from the rotation and this is maybe an 85 win team.  If I had an MVP pick, I suspect he'd be the first name on the ballot as well.  
 The rest of the ballot...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 AL Connie Mack Award

It's time of the year to get ready for playoffs (which hopefully will include our Red Sox), but it's also time to start thinking of the year end awards.  Over the next few days I will publicly post on this blog my ballot for each of the main awards.  As part of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, I will be voting on the following awards:

  • Connie Mack Award (Best Manager)
  • Willie Mays Award  (Top Rookie)
  • Goose Gossage Award (Best Reliever) 
  • Walter Johnson Award (Best Pitcher) 
  • Stan Musial Award (Best Player) 
All these awards should be based on what the candidates do during the regular season, so I will select them ignoring what they may or may not do in the post-season and will post these over the next few days.
However, I wanted to get a jump on the Connie Mack Award, as I don't want the results skewed by what may or may not happen in Game #162 and/or 163.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to hold up the sky?

Superhuman strength?   Not needed.

Divine intervention? Not gonna happen.

A visit by some pesky little birds to Fenway?   As Dave Hester likes to say, "YUUUUUUP!"

Last time things looked bleak after we started 2-10, I warned that a visit by Toronto would right our ship.  And sure enough we won 8 of the next 9 and that dismal start was quickly forgotten.   The first win in that series happened to coincide with the first ever Red Sox Nation international event.   The Red Sox have had great success at these, winning all 5 games at these watch parties.  As luck would have it, the next one is tomorrow, Tuesday September 13th, 5 PM at the Melrose Cafe.

So instead of looking back at the Rays that are gaining on us, look ahead to the next couple of games.  I wouldn't be surprised if after these games the talk shifts from "will the Rays catch us" to "will we catch the Yankees".

If you're in the area, come support your team, and join us as we watch the Red Sox get back to their winning ways.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baseball is not life and death

It's WAY more important..... Or so goes the saying, that I oft repeat, usually only half-joking.

But I have also mentioned before, even right here on these pages, that certain things ARE much more important than baseball.
So tomorrow, in remembrance of that date which will live in infamy, I will not write about baseball.  This blog will remain stagnant, there will be no facebook updates, or tweets.
Even if Jon Lester throws a perfect game.

I don't want to make any commentary on political issues on this site, but somehow I think it's wrong to be shifting reader's attention to baseball on this day when there are graver issues to be thinking about.  So I am joining several other members of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance in a day long "moment of silence".

For more details on what we are doing and why, and a full list of participating sites, please read the original post on the I-70 Baseball website.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Power Rankings - September edition

It's time for the stretch run. Looks like there might not be much excitement these last few weeks as all playoff spots look secure, but there's a reason they play the games. Just ask the 64 Phillies or 95 Angels or more recently the 2007 Mets. This will be the last power rankings for the season, I will reflect back on these after the season is over and comment on the best few (might be a challenge to find) and worst (might be a challenge to narrow it down to just a few) rankings and comments I made throughout the season.
Drumroll.... who has the coveted #1 ranking heading into September? No major surprise as for the 5th month in a row it's the Phillies. Here is the complete list. Numbers in brackets are movement from last month and their high/low rank for the season.
#1 - Philadelphia (--,1/2) - How good are they? Vance Worley who is 9-1 with a 2.65 ERA isn't likely to start in the posteason, because he's not a top 4 guy in their rotation. 'nuf said.
#2 - Boston (--,1/8) - Canadian Erik Bedard has looked like a solid #3 starter to replace Buchholz who isn't likely to return, and our catchers have gone from a liability to an asset. We can hit good pitchers so I'm not worried about facing Verlander or CC in the AL playoffs. Hitting 4 good pitchers in a row against Philly might be more of a challenge. And if we make it that far we lose a bat (Ortiz?) for up to 4 of the games.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Help make a Bill Lee movie

As a Red Sox fan I have been fortunate to have been able to meet several former players, including Jim Rice and Bill Buckner, but one of my favourite highlights was when I met Bill Lee. The opportunity arose when he participated in a charity slo-pitch game, right here in Calgary. Before the game he was talking to the fans, and I asked him to sign my copy of his autobiography The Wrong Stuff. I told him how much I had enjoyed reading it, and that his book was part of my inspiration in trying to "make" my son a lefthander so he'd have some advantages in playing ball. I told him that as a baby whenever he picked anything up with his right hand, I'd gently slap it and put it in his left hand. When I started rolling a ball to him, I'd encourage him to catch with his right and throw it with his left. He looked at my son who was about 5 at the time, then at me, shook his head and said I was crazy! Being called crazy by Bill Lee is about as big of a compliment as I anyone could ask for :)

Anyhow, the filmmaker behind the Bill Lee documentary Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey
is now producing a narrative (scripted) feature film based on the amazing story of one of the great rebel athletes and characters of all time. If you're interested in seeing this movie come to life and want to contribute to it, check out it's KickStarter page. For helping to back this project for as little as $1, you can get anything from a "thank you" e-mail from Bill Lee himself, to a DVD, to being one of Lee's guests at a Red Sox game or even get a walk-on role in the documentary!

By the way, I am in no way connected to this. I'm just a fan and would really like to see this film happen!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - August edition

Now that the trade deadline is done and for the most part, teams have made the changes they need for the last 1/3 of the season, here are the latest power rankings.  Numbers in brackets are movement from last month, and their high/low rank for the season.   Look at previous rankings  (JanFebruary, March, Opening Day, May, June, July) for explanations of how the teams got to where they are. 

#1 – Philadelphia (--, 1/2) – I  may have mentioned this before – but there are some guys who know how to pitch a ball pretty good out in Eastern Pennsylvania.   Getting Hunter Pence at the deadline wasn’t a necessity but certainly doesn’t hurt.

Friday, July 29, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - July edition

I don't know how this happened, but these rankings didn't get posted.  I found them on my spreadsheet that keeps track of movement from month to month when I was writing up August's rankings.  It's too bad because I had some good comments on some teams that moved a lot (Pirates from 26 to 14, Florida from 9 to 20, Oakland from 13 to 23), but in retrospect the analysis was flawed as the month of July showed, so probably better that nobody saw it !  Anyhow, here is the list FWIW, sans commentary:

#1 - Philadelphia (--,1/2)
#2 - Boston (--, 1/8)
#3 - San Francisco (+5, 3/12)
#4 - Yankees (+2, 4/10)
#5 - Atlanta (+5, 5/16)
#6 - Texas (-3, 3/10)
#7 - Tampa Bay (-2, 5/8)
#8 - Detroit (+6, 8/14)
#9 - Milwaukee (-2, 7/18)
#10 - St. Louis (-6, 4/15)
#11 - Angels (+6, 11/22)
#12 - Arizona (+4, 12/27)
#13 - Toronto (+2, 13/20)
#14 - Pittsburgh (+12, 14/29)
#15 - Cincinnati (+3, 14/18)
#16 - Cleveland (-4, 12/30)
#17 - Washington (+10, 17/27)
#18 - Mets (+7, 18/28)
#19 - White Sox (--, 15/23)
#20 - Florida (-11, 5/20)
#21 - Minnesota (+3, 3/24)
#22 - Colorado (-11, 2/22)
#23 - Oakland (-10, 4/23)
#24 - Dodgers (-1, 20/24)
#25 - Seattle (-3, 22/27)
#26 - Cubs (-5, 12/26)
#27 - Kansas City (+1, 22/28)
#28 - San Diego (+1, 17/29)
#29 - Baltimore (-9, 17/29)
#30 - Houston (--, 28/30)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Division realignments and playoff

Lately there has been a lot of talk about division re-alignment and changing the MLB playoff format. When MLB expanded to 3 divisions in each league, I gave a lot about how to optimize pennant races.  I think now is a good time to revisit this.

Before I explain my proposal, here is a brief history of how we got to the current system:

Until 1969 whoever led their league in wins in the regular season advanced to the World Series.  No divisions, no wildcards.  It made the regular season extremely meaningful - pennant races could be exciting, knowing that one game could be the difference between going to the World Series and missing the playoffs entirely (see 1967 example under point #1 below).  It also often made the end of the season meaningless.  The Tigers made the World Series in 1968 by winning the pennant by 12 games.  I don't think there was a lot of drama in September of that year.

From 1969 to 1993, there were two divisions in each league, and the two winners would meet each other in a League Championship Series to determine the pennant winner and World Series entrant.  Having two divisions helped increase the possibility of two sets of teams in playoff races.  But a series between a team with a big lead in their division, and team fighting to win the other division was only meaningful to one of the teams.  Also, the second best team often missed the playoffs, while a weaker division winner advanced (you're all thinking the 1978 Red Sox, but what about the 95 win 1973 Dodgers watching as the Reds took on the 82 wins Mets in the NLCS?)  

In 1995, leagues expanded to 3 divisions and added a wildcard.   Now a good team stuck in a better division had a chance to make the playoffs  (A little too late for the 103 win 1993 Giants in the same NL West as the 104 win Braves).

I hated the wildcard when it was first introduced, because it took a little away from the aura of winning your division, or having the best overall record.   At the time I thought a better system would have been to only have the three division winners make the playoffs, and give a bye to the team with the best overall record.  This would give the possibility of 4 races down the stretch:  One for each division, and another between the division leaders for best overall record.  (Of course, I softened my stance after 2004)

After seeing this system in place for the last 15 years or so, here are my thoughts on how it can be improved keeping in mind that, in my opinion, an ideal system would ensure all of the following:

#1 Reward team with best overall record
This is best argued by the old-timers who remember that prior to expansion only a single team made the playoffs from each league and they met in the World Series.  So a late September series between 2 teams near the top of the standings were treated essentially like playoff games.  During the 1967 Impossible Dream season, Boston narrowly beat out the Minnesota and Detroit by 1 game to win the pennant.  Red Sox fans were not as lucky in 1948 when their team was tied with Cleveland and lost a 1 game playoff, or in 1949 when they finished 1 game behind the Yankees.  (As an aside, "Summer of '49" by David Halberstam is a must read.  It is about that season's pennant race, but is also a glimpse of a different era and the role baseball played in a post-war society.  Just a great book whether or not you're a Red Sox fan or even a baseball fan).  Today a team that has their division wrapped up early has no incentive to go all out to win down the stretch.  The last couple of weeks in September are used to rest the regulars and align the post-season rotation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More than just a game

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here  or on my Baseball in Alberta blog.

This blog  has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

The Baseball in Alberta blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

This story isn't about anything to do with the Red Sox.  Or Alberta.

For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.
So I'm posting it in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

OOTP 12 full review

I've finally put OOTP down long enough to write a more complete review of it.  I've posted it on the Baseball in Alberta blog.  Have a read, let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Best game ever

Or should I say "evah!" for my Boston area friends. And, no I'm not talking about tonight's 7th inning 10 run outburst for our beloved Red Sox, although that was pretty cool too.

I'm talking about Out of the Park 12! I just got my copy earlier this evening (actually, yesterday I guess), and have been playing it non-stop. It has so many features and options, I feel like I've just scratched the surface. I can't do it justice by posting a review yet because I haven't tried everything (and it's approaching 4 AM... I should really go to sleep soon). So far I've tried a few different modes, and I just finished playing the 1975 season. I managed to get the Red Sox in the playoffs and keep Jim Rice healthy for them. But what I've seen so far is awesome, and it's going to be difficult to get me way from the computer for the next little while.

I will post a full review shortly. If I can get away from the game long enough to update this blog :)

Take a look here for more information on the game and how to buy it.  Or check it and other baseball games at Amazon..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Red Sox draft Alberta player

The Boston Red Sox had a very successful draft including getting several players who were expected to be taken before the Sox had a chance to pick.  And fans are rightfully excited about getting Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Jackie Bradley with their first 4 picks.  But lost in the shuffle of the 53 players taken by the Red Sox was Sean Dartnell taken in the 34th round.  He is a 6'2" 200 pound left-handed pitcher from St. Paul Manitoba who is a High School senior right here at the Vauxhall Baseball Academy.  He had already committed to attend Eastern Michigan University who play in NCAA Div I, and now will have to decide between signing with our Sox and attending school.  Either way, we wish him the best of luck.  If he does choose to sign with the Red Sox we are excited to have another Canadian in the organization to continue a long tradition of stars from the North playing at Fenway.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - June edition

Two months into the season, I can no longer use the excuse that it's early to hide some bad predictions.  When the 30th ranked Indians were off to a good start, I still thought they'd cool off by Memorial Day.  Well, that has come and gone and they still have the largest lead of any division leader, so maybe they're for real.   I still don't think they are a playoff team, but I'd like to take back my January comment when I said about the Pirates "Fans will probably be happy that I didn’t put them in their perennial #30 spot.  And there’s a very good reason for that.  It’s called the Cleveland Indians!" Pittsburgh is not at the bottom of my rankings, but it's not because Cleveland is any lower.  On the other end of the spectrum, my initial ranking of the Twins at #5 doesn't look too brilliant either.

Not all my predictions were quite as bad. I had Boston and Philly 1-2 and in spite of the Red Sox' slow start, these are still the 2 top teams.  I was one of the few who believed Tampa would still contend this year, and they have.  I had the Brewers ranked #7 in January, and that's where they're back to.  Predicting Adrian Gonzalez to win the MVP doesn't look like such a bad guess either.  And when I had Jon Lester winning the Cy Young, I actually meant Josh Beckett ;)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Canadian 1st round draft pick

Hey local Red Sox fans... did you know that the Red Sox once selected a Canadian with their first round draft pick?  And that now that he is retired, he is living right here in Alberta?    Of course I'm talking about the first Canadian ever drafted in the first round, Chris Reitsma, who was picked by our very own Red Sox.

I wrote the following article on Calgarian Chris Reitsma,  and it's been published on the Canadian Baseball Network.  My interest in Reitsma, is not only that he's a major league ballplayer from the city I live in, but without his knowing it, he was a big part of my decision to move here.  My employer had asked me to transfer from Toronto and I was reluctant to do so.  Even though it would be a good step for my career, I'd have to leave all my family and friends behind.  I was deeply conflicted.  I used my analytical skills and made a detailed spreadsheet complete with weightings of different criteria.  I added up all the pros and cons and it was as dead even as could be.   My wife felt similarly.   Lots of new opportunities if we moved, but it was a risk.  She said it was up to me, and she'd support whichever decision I went with.   The night before the decision was due, I didn't sleep well.   I had a tough choice to make and still didn't know which was I was leaning.   Then, on the train ride while commuting nto work, I was reading in the USA Today the results of the MLB draft, and noticed that  the Red Sox had drafted a Calgarian with their first round pick.   That was the sign I was looking for to help me make a decision.   That day I committed to transferring out west, and have been here ever since.  

Enjoy the article.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Only Expos 20 game winner

Ok, Canadian baseball fans? Who is the only 20 game winner in the storied Montreal Expos franchise? They had some good ones. Dennis Martinez who hurled a perfect game for them, the other Martinez - Pedro - who Red Sox fans remember as a fairly good pitcher himeself, Steve Rogers who almost led them to the 1981 World Series, another former Red Sox, Bill Lee, and several other notable pitchers. But only one player ever won 20 games in one season while wearing an Expos cap. Any idea who it was?

Monday, May 2, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - May edition

Now that the season is 1 month old, time to update the power rankings and give my readers a chance to comment on some laughably bad predictions that I had made earlier.  Not unexpectedly there is a new team atop the rankings.  And it has as much to do with Philadelphia's league best 18-8 start as it has for previously #1 ranked Boston's underwhelming April.  With that unsurprising spoiler out of the way, here are the full rankings.

Friday, April 29, 2011

RSN Alberta - Watch Party Schedule Released

The Acting Lieutenant-Governor of Red Sox Nation Alberta has planned monthly watch parties for local Red Sox fans.  I have posted a copy on a page on the right for easy reference.
April RSN watch party
There is one scheduled each month until September, and hopefully we will have reason to add one in October as well.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Should Daisuke or Should He Go

I should have asked this question before the Blue Jays came to town. I had predicted the Sox would break out of their funk, but didn't foresee the positive effect it would have on Mr. Matsuzaka.

I was going to add a poll here, but I know what the results would say. I strongly suspect that the results would have been different a week ago.

I have always been a big believer in Dice-K, and even coming into this season still thought he was the 3rd best pitcher on this staff, and if not a true ace, certainly a very strong #2. Lester and Beckett are proven aces, we know what Lackey can do, and it's just Buchholz that I'm concerned about. Clay had a great season in 2010, but his results were largely due to what statisticians with PhDs in advanced statistical analysis refer to as "luck". I said at the start of the season that Dice would have a better season than Buchholz, and hope he does due to him continuing to pitch like he has the last couple of starts rather than Clay underperforming.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Boston Jed Sox

Flashback to the last playoff Series the Red Sox won.  The year was 2008. We were defending World Series champions, and facing the California , I mean Anaheim, I mean  Los Angeles Anaheim Angels of Anaheim which is near Los Angeles in California Angels or whatever they call themselves.   In the bottom of the 9th inning in a series clinching game which was tied, we had Canadian Jason Bay on second base, and Jed Lowrie at bat with 2 outs.   He hit a ground ball that went between 1st and 2nd and drove in Jason Bay (he's Canadian, eh) with the Series winning run.
This was a nice moment for the young 24 year old.  It was his first year in the majors where he had hit a mediocre .258 with little power, and played a passable shortstop and decent third base in the 69 games he started.  But he was never going to be confused for Ted Williams at the plate, or an in their prime Nomar or Lowell defensively on the left side of the infield.

After an injury plagued 2009 season in which he only batted .147 and a 2010 season that only started in late July after a bout with mononucleosis, nobody would blame you if you thought that the playoff series walk-off hit would be the highlight of his career.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank you Toronto!

As I mentioned earlier, good things happen when we play the Blue Jays.  Not only are we now on a 3 game winning streak (after having only 2 wins in the first 11 games), but some individual players have broken out too.  Most importantly, was Dice-K going from being on the edge of Sayonara, to looking like a Cy Young candidate with his 7 IP, 0R, 1 BB, 1 H performance today.  As well, even though Youks had been getting on base, he wasn't showing any power, and a couple of home runs against the Jays has hopefully helped him break out of his hitting slump.  Jed Lowrie is hitting the ball like an MVP candidate, instead of a backup middle infielder.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don't listen to David Lee Roth

I hear that there is a long wait time on the Tobin Bridge (if you're in Boston), and if you are in my home province, well, good luck finding a bridge. We're sort of landlocked here.
And besides, the Blue Jays coming to town is just what the doctor ordered!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On straws, camels, and assigning blame to a loss

Last week, after a 1-0 loss to the Indians,  I heard a few fans complaining that we lost the game because of Darnell McDonald's baserunning blunder.   Others blamed the umpire for calling him out when he was "clearly" safe.  My friend Reg, over at his Rulebook Guru's Blog has more to say about why blaming an umpire for a loss is never very astute.  But I want to touch on why blaming one player, or one play is also a sign that you probably should be watching hockey instead, because baseball is obviously way too complicated for you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Former Red Sox Jose Canseco to play/manage in Alberta

I'll admit the headline might be a bit stretch.  Jose Canseco is remembered as a lot of things, but "former Red Sox" is not usually the first thing to come to mind.  And he won't be managing an Alberta team.

But Jose Canseco has signed on to be a player/manager of the Yuma (Arizona) Scorpions.  They play in the North American Baseball League along with our home province Calgary Vipers and Edmonton Capitals, so we should see him in the dugout and maybe even playing 1st base, or DHing when the Scorpions visit our province.

He will make his first visit when the Capitals host Yuma from June 24th to 26th in Edmonton, and then go on to Calgary to play the Vipers 29th to July 2nd.  If you miss these series, he will return to Calgary August 18th to 21st.

Jose Canseco Autographed Oakland A's White Majestic Jersey Inscribed 

&quot88 AL MVP"
Get your Jose Canseco Autographed Oakland A's White Majestic Jersey Inscribed "88 AL MVP", by clicking on the jersey on the left.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Red Sox Nation Alberta - Watch Party

To all Red Sox fans in Alberta...

Our very own Marc David of Calgary has been named Acting RSN Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. He has set up a Red Sox Nation Alberta Facebook group which I encourage all fans to follow.

There will be occasional events posted there. The first one is a Blue Jays vs. Red Sox watch party at the Melrose cafe in Calgary. This will be the VERY FIRST Red Sox Nation INTERNATIONAL EVENT!!! Come on out and be a part of it.

For more info you can contact Marc David directly at

(By the way... reminder to any facebook users to also "like" this blog's facebook page here:

Friday, April 8, 2011


I just did the math.  If we get swept by the Yankees, we will be officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.  How can we be eliminated so early, you ask?  Well, we'll be 7 games behind them, with only 7 to go in the 16 game schedule, and they'll have the tiebreaker by beating us head-to-head, so... Wait - what's that you say?  We play 162 games?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The sky is falling!

Look up!  The team that was named 2012 World Champions before the season even started is 0-5!  For those of you who are bad at math, that projects to a 0-162 record over the season  So why aren't more people panicking?  Is it because here in Canada most fans are too busy following the last few days of the ice hockey regular season, to notice that baseball has started?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Opening Day Eve - final preseason predictions

I made the first set of preseason predictions 2 months ago before spring training games started.  Since then there have been several injuries, player roles have been redefined and teams have finalized opening day rosters.   The season starts this weekend, so time for an updated set of projections, by division:

No major events in spring training, so I still expect the Red Sox to win.  Tampa and New York will fight for a wildcard spot.  Toronto and Baltimore, while both greatly improved, are still impaired by having to play more than 1/3 of their games against the above teams.
Twins are still the class of this division.  The Tigers and White Sox could contend but will be looking up most of the season, and KC and Cleveland will be out of the race by Victoria Day (or Memorial Day for those  readers South of the 49th).
Oakland and Texas should have a good fight all season.  I originally had Oakland with a large edge due to their pitching , but the absence of Andrew Bailey evens things up.  I will modify my original forecast, and pick Texas to repeat.   The Angels are on their way down and Seattle will finish last again.

AL East: Boston
AL Central: Minnesota
AL West: Texas
Wildcard prediction:  Oakland – easy wins against divisional foes will give them more victories than New York or Tampa. Other teams in the race could be the White Sox and Tigers.

ALCS:  Oakland over Minnesota
MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
RoY: Kyle Drabek
Cy Young: Jon Lester


With the Phillies injuries, this is now a tighter race than I had envisioned 6 weeks ago.  Philly’s starting pitching should still give them the edge over the Braves though.  In what will realistically only be a 2 horse race all season, the Marlins and Nationals will be looking forward to next year, while Mets fans shouldn’t  be expecting much, and won’t be disappointed.
This may be the most interesting divisional race.  There are no really good teams, and anyone could get hot for a short while and take the division.  Pirate fans - if either one of you are reading this, I wasn't talking to you.  And those of you in Texas who want to back a winner, better root for the Rangers – your Astros will finish last.  But the Cardinals do not look like much more than a .500 team.  The Brewers made some improvements, but they only won 77 games last year, and their biggest offseason acquisition, Zack Greinke is starting the season on the DL. Last year’s winner, Cincinnati, played above their heads and aren’t likely to have everything fall into place so nicely again.  The Cubs are the 4th team in this mix and they only won 75 last year, although finished strong.  I would not be surprised if all 4 of these teams played .500 ball, while none of them win more than 88 games.  But if I have to make a wild-ass guess – sorry, I mean educated prediction after poring through thousands of advanced stats and scouting reports – I’m going to pick the Cubs to make the playoffs.  Whoever doesn’t win this division will not be in the wildcard race at all.
Another interesting race.  The Giants have the arms but still don’t have offence.  (Although as I recall that didn't end too badly for them last year).  The Rockies are going to give them a fight wire to wire.  I’m going to give Colorado the division crown, and have San Francisco in good shape to battle Atlanta for the wildcard.  San Diego hung in the race most of last year, but apparently did it with smoke and mirrors because other than Adrian Gonzalez, I’m not sure what they had.  Expect them to finish below .500 this year and not be a factor.  LA is an interesting team – I’ve seen them ranked as high as #5 in other power rankings, and as low as 26.  I’m leaning towards the latter.  They may challenge San Diego for a meaningless 3rd place finish in this division.   The nicest thing I can say about the Diamondbacks is that they might be the best last place team in the league.

NL East: Philadelphia
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Rockies
Wildcard prediction - I think the Giants are a better team than the Braves, but ultimately Atlanta will end up with more wins, due to being able to beat up their divisional foes more easily than San Francisco can.   Don't see any other teams in the hunt for the wildcard.

NLCS:  Rockies over Philly
MVP:  Carlos Gonzalez, with Prince Fielder and Dan Uggla having great years.
RoY:  Freddie Freeman 
Cy Young: Josh Johnson with Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Oswalt and Matt Garza having excellent seasons. 

World Series:
Oakland over Colorado in 6.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - March edition

This is my last preseason power rankings.  I will update these near the beginning of each month throughout the season.  I will also update my preseason predictions before the season starts.

Numbers in brackets are movement from last month, and their high/low rank for the season.  Look at previous rankings(here for the initial January ones, and here for February) for explanations of how the team got to where they were - any explanation here just reflects recent changes.

#1 - Boston ( --, 1/1) They haven't done anything to drop from the top of the rankings.

Boston Red Sox - Any Number - Authentic Cool Base Alternate Red On-Field 

Boston Red Sox - Any Number - Authentic Cool Base Alternate Red On-Field Jersey Customize it by putting ANY NUMBER on the back of it!  Check out many more MLB Jerseys and more at Fans Edge

#2 - Philadelphia (--, 2/2)  Some injuries may make them less formidable, but along with Boston they are still the only other team likely to win 95 games.
#3 - Minnesota (--, 3/5) Beating up on weak division opponents will help their win total.