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MLB Playoffs

What else could the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers have done to win a title? Not much

I still haven’t watched a pitch from Game 6.
I have a general theory on the potentially penultimate game in a series when your favorite team is down 3 games to 2: other than a general enjoyment of the sport, there is no upside to watching Game 6s. Zero.
Let’s say your squad is entangled in one of these such battles for their very postseason existence, looking on down at a long offseason abyss, proverbial fingernails scratching at the cliff. For most people, the excitement of a pressure packed game is genuinely the most exhilarating situation possible. But for the fans of that team, it’s absolutely excruciating. Before the starting tip, first pitch or opening kick-off, you’re already on edge. For a fan whose team is down 3-2, it’s even worse.
In almost every single case, there is no upside to watching that game. All that winning the contest means…is that there’s still another game to watch and win, with the stakes raised and the anxiety ratched up seventeen dozen notches. Winning that Game 6 ultimately doesn’t mean winning, but rather, just delays any shot at a satisfying feeling of finality. For the hardcore fan whose emotions live and die with the team, Game 6s are the worst. Which is part of the reason I wasn’t sitting in front of a television on Friday.
Though the Pearl Jam tickets I bought didn’t help, either.… Read more...

In a 0-2 hole, can the Dodgers still win this series?

The short answer is: Of course they can.
The real question is: what is the likelihood of that happening?
What the Cardinals have done over the past two games is stunning: they’ve managed to take every advantage of even the smallest Dodgers mistake and exploit it to the fullest. They’ve taken every LA weakness and poked it til it’s bled. This isn’t an indictment on the Dodgers, a 92-win squad who could damn well still be the best team in the National League. It’s a testament to just how great this St. Louis Cardinals team.
I sat in my buddy’s apartment on Saturday afternoon, still exhausted from the 13-inning marathon the night before that ran until after 1am Eastern Time and about $170 in our bar tab. It’s not a good sign when the players you’re watching on TV are slinking down as deeply on the bench as you are on the couch.
The camera had zeroed in on a sullen Yasiel Puig, face in his hands as he had just wailed at pitch after pitch from a fellow rookie Michael Wacha. The sublime right hander carved Puig up, striking him out yet again. Yasiel looked as dejected as we’ve ever seen him, not surprising considering how little he had come up in such big spots in his previous Bush Stadium ABs.
It was the fifth inning. Puig finished the day going 0-10 in his first two NLCS games with six strikeouts.… Read more...

World Series Wrap-Up: A Giants Concession Speech from a Dodger Fan

This is a chat conversation that happened between KOBEsh and friend of the blog and detested San Francisco Giants fan Nick. The narrative is “hate” and the mood is sullen.

nick: where’s the MAMBINO WS recap?
me: ….I’m working on it It’s going to be a really respectful, hateful concession speech
nick: i’ll take it

Truth be told, I didn’t watch a minute of Game 4. The thought of the Gigantes winning the World Series whilst my beloved Dodgers sit at home made me nauseous. Physically, emotionally, metaphysically–you name it, I wanted to throw it up. In my mind, visions of the on the mound celebrations came and went, with Sergio Romo shouting to the sky like Thor…except I wish he actually got struck by lightning. The injured Brian Wilson and his cartoonish face parading around the dugout like a Disney sports movie gone awry. World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval chugging around the bases after another titanic hit, defying all regular season expectations and any reasonable cardiologist’s prognosis for life expectancy. Hunter Pence nervously ticking about the outfield waiting for the final out, not knowing if he was more worried about catching the ball or everyone realizing how incredibly overrated he was. All these nightmarish scenarios danced around in my head, and kept me watching weeks old episodes of Monday Night Raw rather than the deciding game of the World Series. Worse yet…it’s the second time in three years I made that decision.

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last night, sweeping the Detroit Tigers and capturing their seventh title in the Motor City. It’s the doomsday October scenario of any tried and true Dodger fan, short of hearing over the P.A. system “and now entering the game for Los Angeles, Jonathan Broxton”. There is no team–not any team from Boston, MA, South Bend, IN or Philadelphia, PA–that I detest with such a fervor as the San Francisco Giants. Save for a Boston Celtics Finals win in LA, there is no sports situation more grave, more upsetting and more nausea-inducing than seeing the Orange Devils from the Bay emerge victorious. Nothing.

But the worst part? They deserved it. Vomit bag number 1, filled.

me: Dude – it just wasn’t even fair
I knew Detroit was toast from the minute they swept the Yankees
nick: it was almost a shock when they scored
they looked flat the whole series
me: I couldn’t believe it
nick: our shutdown pitching was just unstoppable

The Giants couldn’t be have been more dominant over the four-game sweep, holding the Tigers to six runs in four games, including 20 consecutive shutout innings. The story wasn’t just that the Giants destroyed Detroit’s offense; it’s the manner in which they did so. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers’ two all-world sluggers, were very literally almost shut down, going a combined 4 for 27, with one extra base hit between them, a 3-run shot by Cabrera in the deciding Game 4. Delmon Young, the ALCS MVP, fared the best out of D-Town’s big hitters, going 5 for 14 and knocking in 1/6th of his team’s complete runs…with 1 RBI.

All in all, the Tigers combined for a team OPS of .489, which essentially means that manager Jim Leyland would have been better off if the team had 9 Endy Chavezes batting instead. The team was limited to a stunning five extra base hits and a .159 batting average, all historically feeble numbers. The Giants’ bullpen, led by a resurgent Tim Lincec… Read more...

MAMBINO’s World Series Preview

The 108th World Series starts tonight, so let’s set the stage:

The American League’s Detroit Tigers will be playing in only their third World Series in nearly thirty years, seeking their first title since 1984. Led by a pitching staff including reigning AL Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander peaking at the right minute, the Motor City’s professional baseball team will attempt to complete their quest of resurrecting a once proud franchise, a task they couldn’t quite finish off in 2006. 

Meanwhile, the National League champion San Francisco Giants are seeking their second title in three seasons. Prospective NL MVP Buster Posey and NL Cy Young hopeful Matt Cain have helped keep the SF squad at the top of Major League Baseball, despite losing Brian Wilson for the season in April, All-Star starting OF Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension in July and Tim Lincecum to an abduction last season that still hasn’t been solved. The Giants could be the first National League team to win two World Series within a three year span since the mid-seventies. In related news, I will vomit for a week straight if this happens.
In true MAMBINO fashion, we polled our rugged writing crew and came up with a consensus pick to win it all. However, in the interest of hedging our bets, we’re also going to bring you the alternative opinion. Let ‘er rip!

Why the Tigers will win the World Series in 5 Games
The Source: Defense wins championships right? Isn’t that the key? Good pitching beats good hitting?

It seems easy enough. The Tigers have been dominant on the mound. Look at their starters over their 9 postseason games: 62.0 IP, 7 ER. That’s pretty good. The guys in the bullpen have been solid too, except, of course, the set-up guy and the closer. But it hasn’t mattered. The starters have been going deep, the bullpen has been near perfect, and instead of watching Valverde blow saves and dance about it, manager Jim Leyland has been using the very solid Phil Coke. He’s earned 2 saves against the Yankees in the ALCS and totally owning the clubhouse open mic during the ALCS Game 4 rain-out with killer “guess what I found in this guy’s air duct” stories. 
Actually, Benoit and Valverde, the “reliable” 8thand 9th inning guys, are the only Tiger pitchers to give up runs out of the bullpen.  Oh well; Leyland has been picking his matchups well and it’s paying off. With a sweep of the Yankees, Detroit’s got their starting rotation set just how they want it and everyone is well rested. Plus, one of the advantages the Giants having coming in is their momentum but with Verlander on the hill in game 1, San Fran could hit the wall hard.
As for offense, hitting is always tough in the postseason. The Tigers haven’t been blowing anyone away with their huge power numbers but their lineup is a scary one to face. You know Austin Jackson, you know Miguel and Prince, and you’ve probably heard about Delmon Young winning the ALCS MVP, committing hate crimes, and driving in 8 runs in 9 postseason games – great. But some of the lesser known guys are playing well too. Jhonny Peralta is leading the team in first-name misspellings and a .343 BA through the first two series, rookie Avisail Garcia is hitting .333 with 4 RBI, and good ol’ Don “No really, I look like this and play professional sports” Kelly even won a game for us back against Oakland. 
The Giants seem like a team of annoying guys who aren’t great hitters but get big hits. Plus Buster Posey. So they’re hot and the best way to stop a hot team is good pitching. That

MAMBINO’s MLB Playoff Preview, Part 2: Yankees/Orioles and Nationals/Cardinals

National League Division Series: St. Louis Cardinals over the Washington Nationals in 4 Games

KOBEsh: Let’s get this out of the way: St. Louis’ controversial win over the Atlanta Braves has zero bearing on this game. The Cardinals, having faced elimination five times in the past 12 months, didn’t go into this game thinking that they could possibly lose, even though most people (even here on MAMBINO) picked Atlanta to come of this game tonight. A younger, more inexperienced team could have been rattled, thinking that they could have, or even should have, lost that game. The defending champions aren’t giving a second thought to a call that in honesty was only the second worst sports referring job in the past two weeks.

That being said, the reason the St. Louis Cardinals will go on to defeat a team with almost 10 more regular season wins than them isn’t just for all the reasons they’ve survived every comeback before this one. Yes, STL has a mountain more postseason familiarity than their opponents from the District who have only one regular player with any substantive playoff experience (Jayson Werth). But that can’t account for everything. What will get them three wins is patience.
Just like in their matchup with Atlanta, St. Louis has a slight offensive advantage against Washington, with Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Pete Mothereffin’ Kozma swinging hot sticks right now. The Cards have a knack for taking every advantage they can, serving up long at-bats and wearing out opposing pitchers. On the flipside, the Nats have a bunch of high strikeout hitters like Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper, whose groan-inducing whiffs will play right into the hands of patient pitchers like Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia. I can’t expect that the Washington ‘s lineup will be shut down completely, but they certainly won’t be one of the league’s leading offenses for the next week or so.
The Nationals have a couple of horses in Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, both of which are ready to  go the distance in every start. To answer, the Cards are throwing Adam Wainwright (twice) and Chris Carpenter, who aren’t only just as good as the two youngsters, but are battle-tested and won’t panic or press at the sight of a Bryce Harper homer or any man in scoring position.
I want to make this clear: I’m not putting too much of a premium on experience, even though the advantages it gives STL as well as takes away from DC is just too much to overcome. The fact is that in every facet except for the bullpen, the Cardinals are just a much more superior team right now.

MAMBINO’s MLB Playoff Preview, Part 1: Wildcard and (a couple) Divisional Series

The second Wild Card slot has added in another dramatic cadence to what has been in recent years an extremely exciting last week of the season. In four out of the past five seasons, playoff spots weren’t settled until Game 162 out of 162, with the Rockies, Phillies, White Sox, Twins, Rays and Cardinals all eeking out monumental, last-second comebacks. The drama has been so fantastically unreal that the Commissioner Bud Selig, who miraculously looks like the best out of the four major sports right this moment, decided to heighten it starting in 2012 by adding another contender to the mix.

More teams than ever before were in the postseason hunt up until the final series of the year, including the freshly eliminated Dodgers, Brewers, Angels, Rays and White Sox. For the uninitiated, the playoffs begin today, when the two American League Wild Cards, the AL West deposed Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles and the two National League Wild Cards, the reigning champion St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, face off in a sudden death game to see who goes on to play the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues. As opposed to years past, the margin of benefit between being a division titlist and a Wild Card team just became canyon-like. If you’re a divisonal winner, you’re at least guaranteed a five-game series. A Wild Card winner? All you get is a one-game playoff to play the best team in your league, and a giant choco-taco full of crap. Needless to say, it’s infinitely advantageous to win the division. But even as tenuous as this sounds for the teams playing, you know who this sucks most for? THE GREAT MAMBINO.

That’s right. US. Since the Divisional Series matchups aren’t set yet, here we are previewing two one-game playoffs and only two out of the four divisional series. What about us, Bud? Your loyal bloggers? Who do this for nothing but the love of the game and the mountains of women that come with being an amateur writer? C’mon, man. Think about us, for once. Ass.  

Regardless of my personal vendettas, we here at MAMBINO would never intentionally deprive our dozens….AND DOZENS of followers. From the hearts and minds of MAMBINO HQ are our picks for tomorrow’s playoff games and the two Divisional Series that are set:

American League Wild Card Game: Texas Rangers over Baltimore Orioles

El Miz:
The Texas Rangers have limped into the postseason, fading down the back stretch before getting swept by the Oakland A’s and losing what looked like a certain third-straight AL West crown on the last day of the season.  All is not lost, however, as the Rangers and Baltimore Orioles will square off thanks to the new one-game play-in for the Wild Card (actually, we would have had the same result even if MLB didn’t change the rules, as the Rangers and Orioles finished with the exact same 93 wins).

So how does Texas have any chance?  They are playing arguably the hottest team in baseball and the dreaded “team of destiny” thanks to Baltimore’s incredible 29-9 record in 1-run games, the best winning percentage since the Brooklyn Bridegrooms way back when President Benjamin Harrison was in the White House…you know, 1890. 

First, Texas is at home, which has got to help since Camden Yards would have been an absolute madhouse with their first taste of the postseason since 1997. Second, Texas is throwing Yu Darvish.

Texas paid $51.7 million dollars to Darvish’s former team just to be able to negotiate with him (the total deal cost $11Read more...