Oracle of Delphi

2013 Preview: The HardballTalk staff predictions

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Oh, great Oracle. Tell us what the future holds!
source:

Actually, we’re usually way wrong with this stuff. All of us picked the Phillies to win the NL East last year and that didn’t work out too well.  But at least unlike a lot of outfits, we come back to these in October and remind everyone how wrong we were, so the wrongness of it is underscored all the more. If you can’t tell, we don’t take this exercise entirely seriously. No battle plan survives engagement with the enemy and such.

Whatever the case, it’s fun to try to predict the future, darn it, so here we are:


CRAIGsource:

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West

Giants
Dodgers
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Orioles
Red Sox

AL Central
Tigers
Indians
Royals
White Sox
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Indians, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
World Series Champ: Tigers over Nationals

source:  AARON

AL East
Rays
Blue Jays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
White Sox
Indians
Royals
Twins

AL West
Rangers
Angels
A’s
Mariners
Astros

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Cubs
Pirates

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Padres

AL Wild Cards: Angels, Blue Jays
NL Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
Word Series Champ: Nationals over Tigers

source:  JOE (only division winners because I sorta hit Joe up for his picks last minute)

NL East
Nationals

NL Central
Cardinals

NL West
Giants

AL East
Nobody. I’ll say Blue Jays for the fun of it.

AL Central
Tigers

AL West
Rangers

AL Wildcard: Angels and, yes, Royals. Why not?
NL Wildcard: Cardinals, Dodgers.
World Series Champs: Nationals over Rangers.


source:  D.J.

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Padres
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Indians
Royals
White Sox
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Cards: Braves, Dodgers
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Cards: Rays, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
World Series: Nationals over Tigers

source:  DREW

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West
Dodgers
Giants
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Padres

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Rays, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Angels
World Series Champ: Angels over Nationals

source:  BILL

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
D-Backs
Padres
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
White Sox
Indians
Royals
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Rangers, Yankees
AL Pennant winner: Blue Jays
World Series champ: Nationals over Blue Jays

source:  MATTHEW

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Twins

AL West
Rangers
Athletics
Angels
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Braves
AL Wild Cards: Rays, Athletics
AL Pennant Winner: Blue Jays
World Series Champ: Blue Jays over Braves

That’s all, folks! Take ’em to the bank. Or don’t. You’ll do just as well either way.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.

Reminder: athletes are not heroes

Zack Greinke
Associated Press
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This is something of a “greatest hits” piece and it’s topic I’ve talked about here before, but I’m reminded of it again because of Facebook’s memories thing which tells me I wrote about it seven years ago today back when I was still doing stuff at my old Shysterball blog at the Hardball Times.

The topic: ballplayers as heroes. The subject of the 2009 post on the matter was Zack Greinke, who was then beginning his breakout year with the Kansas City Royals. A columnist talked about how uplifting Greinke’s story was, what with him having overcome some struggles with anxiety disorder which had caused him to leave the game for a brief period. In early 2009 he was back, baby, and better than ever and many wanted to turn him into something larger than just a ballplayer excelling at his craft.

In the post I wrote about how, while such an impulse was understandable, it was a dangerous one as athletes have been made into heroes for years and years and, so often, they end up disappointing. Because we built them up so high, however, we don’t see such instances as the mere exhibition of human fallibility. We see them as some greater failure or even a betrayal, which is both ridiculous and unfair to these men and women, even if they have failed in certain ways. They have worked hard all of their lives to be good at a particular sport. They did not promise us glory or inspiration, yet we assume that they owe us those things. Their failures, however they are manifested, are matched by our failures at expectation management.

But it’s even more pernicious than that. Because, as I wrote at the time, when we create heroes, we necessarily create the need for villains and we will go out of our way to find those too, justified or otherwise:

“Hero” is too strong and baggage-laden a word anyway. As [Bill] James notes, it places a heavy burden on young men, and these guys are under such scrutiny day-in and day-out that they really don’t need it. What’s more, the term hero it necessarily assumes its opposite — villain — and demands that we search them out too. You know, to restore balance to the universe and everything. Often — as in the case of A-Rod and Gooden and Bonds and all of the others — they’re the same people, just older . . . Hero creation, worship, and subsequently, destruction has long been a part of baseball. But it’s not an essential part, and in my mind not a desirable part.

Seven years later we’re still doing this. As Bill James noted in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” “When a young player comes to the major leagues and has success right away, writers will almost always write about what a fine young man he is as well as a supreme talent.” Many of them, like Zack Greinke, will prove to continue to be fine older men, just as they were fine young men. Some will not. Would it not be better if we didn’t get so invested in how fine a young man any one of them is? Or, short of that, if we didn’t act so betrayed and victimized if they turn out not to be such a fine young man?

I like to hear a good story about a baseball player who, by all outward appearances, seems like a good person. But I’m content to give such a story a smile and leave it at that. If we require heroism, there are people who do truly heroic things in the world beyond throw baseballs.

Andrew McCutchen apologies to an official scorer he said should be fired

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. Detroit won 7-3.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Associated Press
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Andrew McCutchen made an error on Wednesday night. He thought he shouldn’t have been charged with one on the play, however, and afterward said “whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable. I did everything I could to catch it.”

It was a dumb comment for two reasons. First, a player “doing everything he can” on a play doesn’t make a misplay not a misplay. The “e” ain’t about effort, man. I realize scoring has gotten somewhat lax in recent years and players are routinely not given errors if it looks like they really, really tried, but there is not an intent element to the crime of making errors on the playing field. If you muff one, you muff one.

It was a dumb comment for another reason, and that’s that it was just not very nice. As we noted when David Ortiz or some others have made publicly disparaging comments about official scorers, it’s the ultimate punching down. These are people who have other jobs, aren’t public figures, don’t get paid a lot and really, really don’t have it in for anyone. Publicly criticizing them is bad enough, publicly demanding their jobs is pretty low.

Thankfully, with a day’s worth of reflection, McCutchen realized that this was the case and apologized. There aren’t public words from McCutchen available, but the club said that he reached out to the scorer and personally apologized. As he should’ve.