2011 BAPL Crystal Ball

crystal2.jpegHere’s your highly anticipated BAPL predictions for the 2011 season:

AL East
Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Yankers, Orioles

- Unless the Baseball Gods cast another injury spell upon Boston, the Red Sox should easily conquer the mighty AL East.  The Rays won’t suffer from their off-season roster exodus as much as everyone thinks, but will still fall short.  Toronto will have a great year, but unfortunately, they live in AL East.  The Yanks will take a hard fall this year and heads will roll in The Bronx.  Buck will make the Orioles respectable, but the birds in this division would all be better off if they flew west.

AL Central
White Sox, Twinkies(WC), Tigers, Royals, Injuns

-  With the Red Sox taking the East, the Year of the Sock Drawer will continue in the Central with Ozzie leading the South-Siders to a narrow division title over the Twinks…it will probably come down to another last day/tie-breaker in September, but the White Sox will prevail and Minnesota will claim the AL Wild Card.  The Tigers will hang in there, but ultimately fade by September.  The Royals could probably win the division if they’d DFA 90% of their big league club and call up their loaded farm system.  Cleveland is, well, Cleveland, though I’m looking forward to seeing a full season of Carlos Santana behind the plate.

AL West
Rangers, A’s, Los Anaheim, Mariners

- I’m probably being a homer by picking my Rangers here but honestly, after a miserable spring training, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence.  As usual, the pitching sitch is not looking very promising.  But I had my doubts last year and 2010 ended up being the most successful year in franchise history…they should take the West, but it won’t be easy…or pretty.  If the Rangers don’t take it, then I’m pretty sure the Oaklanders will.  The A’s pitching staff is top notch and they made some off-season improvements at the plate, so it’ll be close.  Los Anaheim may surprise us all and just kick the living sh!t out of Texas and Oakland.  They’ve got the starting pitching and a great skipper for sure, but lots o’ questions on offense and in the bullpen.  Seattle is a great city (Mrs. Jonestein and I honeymooned there) and I hear Safeco is an awesome ballpark….they also have Ichiro and King Felix.   *awkward silence*

NL East
Bravos, Phillies(WC), Fish, Natinals, Mets

R2C2 will be really good for the Phillies, but only good enough for the NL Wild Card, as the Braves surprise everyone by taking the East.  Josh Johnson will win the NL Cy Young and the Fish will stay in it till the end, just coming up short.  The Natinals will finally work their way out of the cellar, which will have a new tenant this year, the woeful New York Mets.

NL Central
Reds, Brew Crew, Cards, ‘Stros, Cubbies, Pirates

This will be one of the tightest races in baseball, with the Reds prevailing over the Brew Crew and Red Birds late in September.  The Astros will make another late season charge, but fizzle.  The Cubs will stay out of the cellar only because it is perpetually occupied by the AAAA Pittsburgh Pirates, who will continue to audition Andrew McCutchen for his eventual ascension to a big league club.

NL West
Giants, Rocks, Padres, Dodgers,  D-Backs

The defending champion Giants will once again claim the NL West, but have to scrap it out with the Rockies late in September.  The Padres may challenge again, but I doubt it.  The Dodgers ownership soap opera will continue to help stifle this otherwise decent club, and Arizona will continue to be a great place for Spring Training.

World Series: Phillies over Red Sox in 6

Happy Opening Day Eve!

–Jonestein

Weapons Fail

Nod to Booyakasha at Lone Star Ball for this awesome gif:

feliz_nolan.gif

XD

–Jonestein

Loyalties

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Folks at work often stop by and comment on all of the Texas Rangers/Dallas Stars junk cluttering up my cubicle.  They see my Houston Astros season schedule and probably think “Oh, that’s understandable, they’re a Texas team.” (I actually lived in Houston twice during my life, so my support of the Astros comes naturally…Summer of 1980 = AWESOME!)

Then they notice I also have a couple of Boston Red Sox trinkets adorning my geeky cubicle (geekible?), and more than once I’ve been schooled on this (apparently) unwritten rule:

“You can’t root for two teams in the same league!”

I’ve also seen this rule cited on many a baseball site, and I’ve never understood why it exists.  I can only assume it is a result of narrow minded, absolute thinking, so I suppose I should explain my fandom rationale/methodology:

First of all, when push comes to shove, I am only a “fan” of one MLB team, and that team is the Texas Rangers.  In other words, if someone has a gun to my head (this IS Texas) and tells me I have to choose one and only ONE team to root for, there is absolutely no hesitation in my response: “Whichever team Jessica Alba roots for…”.  But seriously, I’m only a fan of the Rangers.

However, at a more meta-level, I’m a fan of baseball in general, so naturally, there’s a darn good chance that I’m going to follow and “support” other teams outside the realm of Rangerdom.  The Astros are easily my NL team, because of proximity and my aforementioned tenures of residency in Houston.  Do I follow them with the same fervor and attention I give the Rangers?  No, but I always keep an eye on the goings-on down yonder.  Sadly, those goings-on have not been pretty the last few years and I don’t see much hope on the horizon.

So how do I justify my support for the Red Sox?  This just HAS to conflict with my Ranger fandom, right?  Wrong, but I’ll get to the actual fandom rationale here in a sec.  First, the obvious question: “Why the Red Sox?”  Back in 2000, while on a bidness trip to Boston, I naturally took in a game at Fenway Park, and instantly fell in love with the place.  The baseball atmosphere was incredible, so I’ve been a Red Sox supporter ever since.  I even returned there back in October of 2009 (the atmosphere wasn’t near as exciting, but it was just a meaningless end-of-regular-season game against Cleveland).

Anyway, on to my fandom methodology, or how I avoid conflicting American League baseball loyalties:

1. Head-to-head.  I always root for the Rangers when they play the Red Sox, unless the Rangers are so hopelessly out of the playoff picture and the head-to-head game is a “must win” for the Red Sox.  Even then, I’m hesitant.

2. AL Wild Card Race.  No brainer here.  If the Rangers and Red Sox are neck-and-neck in the race for the AL Wild Card spot, then I’m full-throttle Rangers.  No conflict here.

3. Someone in the AL East has to win the AL East.  This is unavoidable.  So I root for the Red Sox to win the AL East because I like ‘em and they are not the MF Yankees.  I see no harm in this.

4. Post-season Baseball.  Until 2010, the words “Post-season” and “Rangers” hadn’t really been mentioned in the same sentence since the mid-to-late nineties, and I like to have someone to root for in the playoffs.  The last ten years, the Red Sox have pretty much been there, so I’ve rooted for them.

So I guess you could say I’m a conditional supporter of the Red Sox, and while this still probably breaks the silly One Team Per League unwritten rule, ultimately, I don’t really give a shiite…I’ll root for whatever team I want to root for.  :^P

I hope that clears things up.

Cheers,

-Jonestein

18 Days, D@mmit

Pictorial countdown to Opening Day 2011, starring various Dallas/Foat Wuth sports stars past and present.

Unfortunately, something has screwed up my ability to upload pictures to this blog, hence, my lack of continuing this series.

However, I’ll go all primitive on ya and attempt a local #18 for today, Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers:

   
    (   T   )
    —————
      o  o
        >
       —-
       v
/              \
/   TEXAS   \
|                 |
O     |        O   
        |
    /       \
  /          \
d            b

#18 Mitch Moreland 1B – Texas Rangers

I think I missed my calling as an Arteest.

Cheers,

–Jonestein

(40, 39, 38, 37) Days Until Opening Day

40_madbum.jpg40

Madison Bumgarner

Ok, definitely NOT a DFW sports figure, but this Rangers’ World Series nemesis most deservedly gets a nod for what he did to us in Game 4 of the World Series.

39_feldman.jpg39

Scott Feldman

Yeah, yeah, 2010 was a bust for him after a great 2009 campaign, but he’s the best DFW #39 I could come up with.

38_wash.jpg38

Ron Washington

This laughing Ron Washington image is almost becoming iconic here in Rangerdom.  There’s a t-shirt that Josh Hamilton wore once that had laughing Ron on the front with the words “University of Washington”.  I want that shirt.

37_rogers.jpg37

Kenny Rogers

Rogers did two tours with the Rangers, one in the mid-nineties, one in the mid-aughts.  This pic is from the perfect game he threw on July 28, 1994, the year Rangers Ballpark opened.

–Jonestein

Foaty One

41_dirk2.JPGPictorial Countdown to Opening Day 2011, Starring Various Dallas/Foat Wuth Sports Stars Past and Present.


41

No brainer here with Dirk Nowitzki, who will no doubt go down as the greatest Dallas Maverick in the history of the franchise.

The top pic to your right is from one of the 2010 playoff games (ALDS I think) with His Dirkness sporting a shweeeet Dirk Rangers jersey.

Take notes, Michael Young – Dirk exhibits the requisite amount of greatness warranting whiny, primadonna-like behavior, except that he doesn’t act like a whiny primadonna… just sayin’.

41_waters.jpgImpossible for a DFW sports fan to not include this #41 – Charlie Waters.  He was the other half of the awesome duo of Cowboys safeties (see Cliff Harris from Day 43) from the Dallas teams of the 1970′s.

Ok, it’s impossible for folks from my generation to not include Charlie – I’m betting most modern day twenty-something fans don’t know or care who Charlie Waters was.  Their loss.

Happy Friday!

–Jonestein

Countdown to Opening Day: 42

42_robinson.jpgPictorial countdown to Opening Day 2011, starring various Dallas/Foat Wuth sports stars past and present.

42

Not a DFW star, but THE #42 in the world of baseball, Jackie Robinson.

42_tarpley.jpg…and a former local #42, the could-have-been-great Roy Tarpley of the Dallas Mavericks.  Dude couldn’t stay off the dope and got booted from the NBA.  What a waste of pure eff!ng basketball talent.

Le sigh.

–Jonestein 

(45, 44, 43) Days Until Opening Day

Pictorial countdown to Opening Day 2011, starring various Dallas/Foat Wuth sports stars past and present.
(I meant to start this on Monday, but got distracted by a shiny object)

45_holland.jpg45 Days (Monday)

Derek Holland, he of the eleven straight balls and three straight walks in the disaster that was Game 2 of the 2010 World Series.  He’s been a top prospect for the last few years, but it’s time for him to step up in 2011 and earn/keep a spot in the starting rotation.

44_Newhouse.jpg44 Days (Tuesday)

Robert Newhouse, Dallas Cowboys fullback from my junior high/high school days.  Nicknamed “The Bowling Ball”, he was short, stout, lead blocker for Tony Dorsett back in the day.  Was pretty good on short yardage third-down carries too if I remember right.

43 Days (Today)43_harris.jpg 
 

Cliff Harris, another former Cowboys great, tormented wide receivers along with Charlie Waters for those great Cowboys teams of the 70′s.  I had his autograph (along with many other Cowboys of that period), but somehow managed to lose it like an idiot.

Happy Hump Day!

–Jonestein

About Face

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As many of you know, Michael Young, or as he’s affectionately called in certain Rangers fan circles “Face”, i.e. “Face of the Franchise”  has been making news in the baseballphere lately.  Bottom line: he wants out of Texas because his role appears to have been reduced with the off-season signings of Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli.

Problem is, nobody wants him, or should I say, nobody wants the remaining 3 years/$48 million dollar contract that’s attached to his aging 34 year old body and sub-zero UZR.

So two camps have formed here in Rangerdom, there’s the Casual Fan/Pandering Local Sports Columnist Camp who think Face has been jerked around and is owed something by the Rangers because of his tenure and his “sticking with them through the bad years” — then there’s the rest of us.

The Rest of Us Camp acknowledges that Face has been a good player and team leader for the Rangers the last ten years.  We also acknowledge that he’s “stuck with the team” because in 2007 he signed an lucrative 5 year/80 mil contract extension.  We then have the nerve to acknowledge the aforementioned sub zero UZR (-4.7 or -5.4, I forget), which means he’s a huge defensive liability (hence, the signing of Beltre).  THEN we acknowledge the fact that… oh, I think you get the picture (this is beginning to sound like a religion vs. science argument).

Face claims he’s been jerked around by the Rangers because they’ve repeatedly asked him to change positions over the years.  First, they asked him to move from 2B to shortstop in order to accommodate Alfonso Soriano after the A-Rod trade.  Then SS to 3B to accommodate the up and coming Elvis Andrus.  Now, they’ve asked him to move to DH/utility infielder to accommodate Adrian Beltre.  I guess I can see his point, because no team has ever asked someone to change positions. 

Oh, wait, yes they have.

Face, I like you, but shaadapp and play baseball.  Your gold glove days are behind you, dude,  accept it.

Ohthankgawd!

bbalgod.jpgFor the first time in my baseball life, The Baseball Gods have bestowed upon yours truly a mercifully short off-season.  Don’t get me wrong,  hockey has done a very admirable job of sustaining me through The Bad Time the last coupla years, but brother, it just ain’t baseball.

Pitchers and Catchers, come hither, The Baseball Gods-Uh hath summoned thee!

Hells.  Yeah.

–Jonestein

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