Beanball: Reviewing the AL East in August

Yesterday’s results in the American League East represents exactly what each team has been doing the entire season.

Music to listen to: Big Business/I Zimbra by Talking Heads

Get used to seeing a lot of Talking Heads and Mars Volta on this Blog, just fair warning.

First, the standings as of today with streaks in parenthesis:

New York: 69-41 — (Won 2)

Tampa: 67-44 2.5 GB (Lost 5)

Boston: 63-49 7 GB (Lost 2)

Toronto: 59-52 10.5 GB (Won 3)

Baltimore: 37-74 32.5 GB (Won 1)

New York Yankees: This has been a mundane season for the Yankees. Mark Teixeira is hitting .259 yet still second on the team in RBI’s with 84. Alex Rodriguez may have the quietest 88 RBI’s on a division leader. Their best overall hitter, Robinson Cano, is in the top-five in batting average at .332 but once again its done in a quiet way. Do you realize that Andy Pettitte’s ERA this year is 2.88? For a dude approaching 40 in that ballpark, that’s impressive. Must be on that stuff…just kidding I promised myself no PED jokes but with Rodriguez and Pettitte on the same team, its hard. The point of this is that they just took two out of three from Boston at home pending a game in progress at this moment and we’ve tuned it out.

I was going to talk about the rest of the teams in the division but want to discuss something further. Quicker rundowns for the rest of the squads.

Tampa: When you have been involved in so many potential no-hitters, I can’t trust your team in the postseason. They may win the wild card, shoot, they may even overtake the Yankees and win the division. However, those bats have to be a concern. The counter argument is that when your top-three in the rotation for the playoffs will be David Price, Matt Garza and Jeff Niemann. But their offense will be the downfall, which shouldn’t happen when you have Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena. They may win their division yet underachieve at the same time.

Boston: While they have been a M.A.S.H unit with major injuries but when your most reliable bat for the majority of the season has been Adrian Beltre with that roster, major problems. Their fans may be complaining about this being a boring season (the level of hubris in that shows the annoying side of that fan base.. Seriously, you‘re in the middle of the playoff race and this is boring) but considering the personalities that the Red Sox have had in the past, I can almost see that angle. But than as a Mets fan I see my squad loses consecutive series to Atlanta and Philadelphia without a care, so my view my be different.

Toronto: The Blue Jays are probably going to finish over .500 for another season and place fourth in their own division. If they were a college football team, I would tell them to implement a spread or option offense, maybe run a 4-4-3 defense, something to shake things up. But in that division, what can you do.

Baltimore: Buck Showalter has them playing hard, still more than 30 games back in early August.

Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays struck out 17 batters and had a one-hitter against Tampa yesterday. Now, I follow a lot of sports but this barely made my top-five of the weekend. In some order, UFC 117, Tiger Woods, NFL preseason and college football prep. 20 years go, it would have been first but I would have also been nine years old.

The point is that while that says more about the lack of care in baseball in early August, I’ve had to talk myself into watching baseball this season for the first time in a long time and its not because my favorite team is struggling. I think I’ll delve more into this tomorrow, the issue of lack of baseball interest. But for now, what are your thoughts on the AL East so far this season?


Verbal Submission: Review of UFC 117


Welcome to the first “official post” on my new Blog, Sports Inquirer.

This is my second Blog, with the first one being Pourtout Pancakes, go ahead, click on it, I won’t mind.

While PP will deal with non-sports related topics, Sports Inquirer will deal with, well, sports.

For the newbies to my blogs, I always provide you with some music to listen to in every post and these will be no different so…

Music to listen to: What Does Your Soul Look Like by DJ Shadow


So UFC 117 took place on Saturday and it was a tremendous event that lived up to its billing, especially the main event. Some preliminary thoughts before we get to the title match:

Clay Guida is the true definition of a “gatekeeper” and that’s actually a compliment: For those of you unfamiliar with the term, its someone who will never win the title in his division but will serve as a good litmus test for someone who wants to contend for a title. If you’re a lightweight and beat Guida, you can move up the ladder. If you can’t, than you aren’t ready. Guida won’t be a champion but his existence is essential for any promotion’s weight class developing depth and keeping fan interest in non-title fights.

That’s really the main difference between Strikeforce and the UFC, depth. You look forward to Strikeforce title fights but not much else. You do look forward to Guida fights.

Matt Hughes is carving a nice post-championship career: You can argue that Hughes is a gatekeeper as well but he’s slightly above that, maybe the landlord of the division because of his age and experience. He’s not going to be a champ again but you know that he isn’t going to embarrass himself out there. His name is still strong enough for most fans to give his fights a good look. He needed to get that submission in the first round to win because he lost the first two rounds of this fight against Almedia but a win is a win.

Thiago Alves just needs to become a middlweight: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’m a big fan of Alves. I like his fighting style, attitude and general makeup. However, the lack of professionalism in not making weight for his fight against Fitch is unacceptable. Outside of quitting in the ring and intentionally trying to hurt your opponent in a cheating manner, the worst thing you can probably do in MMA is not make weight. It makes for an unfair fight and shows a lack of preparation. Alves didn’t make weight in his fight against Hughes a few years ago and fans haven’t let him forget about it. He even talked about it this week and wanted everyone to move on. Not anymore. I don’t think he will get cut from the UFC, he’s still a decent fighter with a following. However, he will never get a title shot again. Plus he lost to Fitch after all of this so that’s working against him too.

Fitch does nothing for me as a fan: He seems like a genuinely good guy, fights hard, gives max effort, but just bores me as a viewer. Too many decisions and GSP would finish him if those two fought again.

Junior Dos Santos shows the new found depth of the heavyweight division: A few years ago in the UFC, the heavyweight division consisted of Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and that’s all. It was my least favorite division in the company by a grand distance. When I had to sit through a Sylvia/Tom Monson title fight, it was my last straw. It frickin took Randy Couture beating Sylvia to get me back in the division. Now, between Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Frank Mir, Nog, Dos Santos, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and a few others, things are looking excellent for the division.

As far as Junior goes, he will be a major test for the winner of Lesnar and Velasquez. By the way, I’m torn between the Brock and Cain fight. I’ve been saying for two years that Cain was going to be the champion by now and I want to stick with that but Brock has turned into the best heavyweight in the world.

Sonnen’s loss was maybe the toughest I’ve ever seen in MMA: Chael talked so much smack coming into the fight that no one believed that he was actually going to beat Anderson Silva. I really, really wanted to pick Chael to win. I had the same feeling when Matt Serra fought GSP for the first time and no one gave Matt a chance of winning. I had a feeling that Serra was going to get the victory, which he did and it is arguably the biggest upset in MMA history to date.

Sonnen dominated for four and a half rounds. He did EVERYTHING he said he was going to do. He used his wrestling to activate the aggressive style to dictate the pace. The takedowns were impressive but his work from the guard was tremendous. Sonnen kept working, getting punches and elbows wherever he could. He even was able to get some punches in during the standup, especially in the first round.

However, he left his arms to get caught. Credit to Joe Rogan for calling it during the fight. Chael was too loose with his arms when he was on top and in Silva’s guard. Sonnen’s biggest weakness in his MMA career has been getting submitted within his opponent’s guard, which is exactly how he lost.

While watching the fight, I thought Sonnen would dance his way to a victory going into the fifth round. Then I realized that he wasn’t going to do that because it would go against everything he had been preaching for the past few months.

Credit has to go to Silva as well. He won the fight and got a legit submission in victory. Like most of the MMA nation, Silva’s last two performances in 185 were disappointing, especially the Maia fight. Silva showed the heart of a champion and kept his composure.

What were your thoughts on UFC 117?