Results tagged ‘ History ’

Brewers Still Surprising Many With Formidable Play

It was a rather intriguing story line when the Brewers were leading the National League central division after the first full month of the season. It was somewhat of an impressive feat when they were still leading the division after the first two months had passed. But now that we’re just a couple of weeks away from the All-Star break and the Brewers are still on top, it’s beginning to become one of the most discussed topics in all of baseball.

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Predicted by many to do poorly this season (I had them finishing fourth), with the seemingly average team the Brewers have and the difficult division in which they play, the fact that the Brewers currently sit 5.5 games ahead of the second place Cardinals is incredible — especially after the Cardinals won the division fairly easily last year, with the Brewers ending up 23 games back.

But while most of the baseball world counted out the Brewers for 2014, their players felt they had just as good of a shot as anyone, which is proving to be true. “We felt good about our situation,” said Brewers’ second baseman, Rickie Weeks, on Thursday. “Obviously, a lot of the media didn’t. That’s one of the things that keeps us together in this clubhouse.”

Having achieved the most wins in all of baseball (only the Athletics have a better winning percentage), and holding the largest division lead of any other team over the second place opponent, the Brewers making the playoffs is no longer a long shot as it appeared to be at the beginning of the year. It has now become a really good possibility.

Off to the best start halfway through the season (81 games) in their franchise’s history, the Brewers not only have momentum on their side, they also have statistics. Since the Wild Card was introduced in 1995, 69 percent of teams (82 out of 118) in first place at the halfway point have made the playoffs, with 61 percent (72 out of 118) holding on to win their division.

One of the biggest reasons for the surprising performance by the Brewers as a whole has been their consistent game play by their individual players. Jonathan Lucroy, one of the game’s most underrated catchers, has done a fantastic job both defensively behind the plate as well as offensively. And despite a slightly down season for Ryan Braun (he’s still making a good contribution), Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, and Scooter Gennett are all doing their share, with Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds providing a good deal of power, regardless of their low batting averages.

On the pitching side of things, Kyle Lohse has really stepped up his game this year, doing a great job of giving the Brewers opportunities to win ballgames, and with the exception of a couple of rough starts, Yovani Gallardo has been a valuable asset as well. With a closer like Francisco Rodriguez, who currently leads baseball in saves, coming on in the ninth inning to shut down games, the Brewers have a really solid team no matter how you look at it.

With just 14 games remaining until the All-Star break, the Brewers find themselves on the verge of making some more history by surpassing the old franchise record of 54 wins at the break. That would certainly be an amazing feat. But I’m sure the majority of the Brewers would tell you, having made the World Series just once back in 1982 (they lost), their main focus is on making it deep into October.

Jimmy Rollins Hits His Way Into Phillies History

As the saying goes, records are made to be broken. And with a strongly hit single to right field off of Edwin Jackson on Saturday afternoon, Phillies’ shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, broke a record that had stood for the past twenty-five years; notching his 2,235th career hit, surpassing the franchise’s all-time hit mark of 2,234, set by Mike Schmidt back in 1989.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies

Accomplishing the milestone hit in three fewer seasons than Schmidt, Rollins gave Phillies fans something to be cheerful about, after a dismal start to the season has left them wishing for something worth applauding. Sitting in last place in the National League East division — a division that they once dominated — the Phillies are seemingly on their way to a poor overall year, but Rollins’ historic moment in the Phillies 7-4 win against the Cubs helped briefly give excitement to an otherwise dull team.

But as is to be expected when a player such as Rollins breaks an all-time record — especially a record held by a Hall of Fame player — many people are beginning to ask the question: Just because you pass a Hall of Famer on a franchise’s hit list, does that automatically make you Hall of Fame worthy?

As far as the answer goes, there seem to be three different views. The first view writes off the idea altogether, saying that Rollins’ numbers are simply nowhere close to Hall of Fame caliber; the second group doesn’t feel that Rollins is quite yet Hall of Fame worthy, but could become so if he plays well long enough; and the final portion of people (mainly Phillies fans) see him as a Hall of Fame shortstop right now.

For me, I side with the second set of people.

On one hand, I don’t think Rollins has a zero percent chance of the Hall of Fame down the road. He’s been far too good of a player for far too long for me to completely dismiss the possibility. But on the other hand, I don’t think Rollins currently has the numbers to stand up against some of the games all-time greats. However, given a few more productive seasons, I could definitely see a good case begin to be made for Rollins.

At 35 years old, Rollins still has a few good seasons left in his career, and seeing that he’s always been fairly consistent, Rollins should continue to pad his already good numbers, which aren’t as far off from Hall of Fame level as you might initially think upon a glance.

Of the twenty-two shortstops in the Hall, ten of them have fewer career hits than Rollins currently possesses, showing that there truly is no magic number of hits needed to earn election. In addition, assuming Rollins plays for another five seasons, based off of his average yearly totals, he would finish his career with around 240 homers, 1,100 RBI’s, 2,900 hits, 500 doubles, and 500 stolen bases. Given, that’s all purely speculative, but it’s interesting to note, nonetheless.

The bottom line, whether or not you’re a Phillies fan, and whether or not you feel Jimmy Rollins is going to get into the Hall of Fame eventually, you have to recognize the amazing career Rollins has put together. Even if he doesn’t go down in the record books as one of the all-time greats in baseball history, he will absolutely go down as one of the all-time greats in Phillies history. With all the fantastic players who have come through the Phillies organization over its 131-year existence, that speaks volumes by itself.

Wild Finishes Send World Series Back to Boston

As I wrote in my last blog post, there was a chance coming into St. Louis that either the Cardinals or the Red Sox could win the World Series, should they be able to sweep the other team. But thanks to a couple of wild finished, the series heads back to Boston — the Red Sox lead 3-2 — where a champion will be crowned at Fenway Park for the first time since 1975, when the Reds beat out the Red Sox in seven games. (If the Sox win it will be their first World Series clinch at home since 1918.)

But a lot took place to get to this point.

Going into game three, on Saturday, the Red Sox had Jake Peavy on the mound taking on the Cardinals’ Joe Kelly. Both Peavy and Kelly had been decent this season/postseason, and both were looking to give their team the edge in this talent-laden World Series.

Peavy had a bit of trouble early, allowing a couple runs to the Cardinals in the bottom of the first inning, but he quickly regained himself, not allowing a run the remainder of his four inning outing. Kelly was just a bit better, however, as he gave up only one run over 5.1 innings, when he was replaced by Randy Choate, who promptly gave up the game tying run to the Red Sox.Untitled

The bottom of the seventh saw the Cardinals retaking the lead, on a two-run double by Matt Holliday. But just as to be expected in an exciting World Series game, the Red Sox tied things up in the very next inning. Making the score 4-4, heading into the ninth.

Things would then get interesting.

The Sox failed to score in the top half, as Trevor Rosenthal was dominant once again, giving the Cardinals a chance to walk-off with a big win. Which they did, but not in the most conventional way. A Yadier Molina single was followed up with an Allen Craig pinch-hit double, placing runners at second and third with just one away. Jon Jay would then ground to Dustin Pedroia, who quickly threw home for the out, but a wide throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchia led to the most talked about World Series play in years.

Will Middlebrooks found himself with nowhere to go after diving for the errant throw, leaving third base umpire, Jim Joyce, to signal obstruction, after Allen Craig tripped over Middlebrooks, which would subsequently win the Cardinals the ballgame. Not a way you’d like to see a game of that magnitude end, but you had to figure it would give the Red Sox added motivation in the next game.

Game four didn’t have a controversial finish, but it did end in just as unusual of fashion.

A surprise to many, Clay Buchholz, who had been reported at thirty percent healthy, had a great game for the Red Sox, only allowing a World Series - Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals - Game Foursingle run through his four innings on the mound. Lance Lynn, who isn’t really acknowledged that often, had a great game as well, also giving up a single run through his 5.1 innings pitched.

Although, after Lynn allowed a couple of base runners in the fifth, he was replaced by Seth Maness — a mistake in my mind, as Maness has been getting hit all postseason — who allowed a homer to Jonny Gomes, making the score 4-1, Red Sox.

The Cardinals would score a run in the seventh, and go onto make a push to tie the game in the ninth, but a mistake by rookie Kolten Wong ended the game with everyone stunned. Getting picked off at first by Koji Uehara, Wong became the first player in postseason history to get picked off to end the ballgame.

The series once again became tied, heading into a final game in St. Louis.

A rematch of game one, game six saw Adam Wainwright going up against Jon Lester in a pivotal game. Both Lester and Wainwright pitched well — Wainwright struck out six batters through the first two innings — as they both allowed a mere one run through the first sixUntitled innings.

The one run off of Wainwright came from an RBI-double by David Ortiz, who is now hitting .733 in the series — the only Red Sox player in history with back-to-back 3-hit nights in the Fall Classic. Lester’s lone run came off a solo-shot homer to Matt Holliday — one of Lester’s only four hits allowed.

The Red Sox would get the better of Wainwright in the seventh, scoring two runs to make the score 3-2, Sox. And that’s how the game would end, as Koji Uehara was stellar once again, closing out the game for the Red Sox.

The Cardinals and Red Sox now head back to Boston. It will be interesting to see how each team plays, knowing game six could be it. The way this World Series has been going, however, — especially with Michael Wacha pitching game six for the Cardinals — I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it go seven games. But, in the end, if I had to pick a favorite at this point in the series, I’d have to give the Red Sox the edge.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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