With the wild card game being 6 days away and the Yankees still 3 games back of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East, all signs point towards the Yanks playing in the one-game elimination. This game will be played at Yankee Stadium, most likely against the Twins, who have opened up a five-game lead on the Angels. The wild-card game is pretty crazy, and I’ve had mixed feelings on it since its creation in 2012.
The excitement of a one-game playoff is unrivaled; who doesn’t love the win-or-go-home mentality that comes with elimination games? When it’s not your team playing in the game, seeing two teams’ fate come down to 9+ innings of baseball is a joy to watch (I particularly enjoyed the Mets’ loss last year.) But when your team is in it? It’s a whole different animal. I was in the stands in 2015 as Dallas Keuchel dominated the Yankees in the WC game to help the Astros advance, and watching an entire 162-game season come crashing down in one poor performance is heartbreaking. But I’m not gonna complain. The Yankees hit some serious rough spots this season, and gave away multiple games against the Red Sox. They could’ve had the division, but now here they are.
This weekend was a tough one for me for sure. I consider myself a fan of four sports teams – the Yankees, the Giants, the Knicks, and Rutgers. I’m a Rangers fan too, but I haven’t followed hockey closely enough for the past few years to really consider them one of my main teams. 3 of those 4 teams, with the exception of the Yankees, are doing less than fine right now. I’ll start with Rutgers. Continue reading The Yankees Are All I Have Left in Sports→
Before I write this blog, let me make it clear I firmly appreciate the year Chase Headley has had this season. He carried the Yanks offensively when they were struggling before and after the All-Star break, and has unexpectedly put together a nice 2017 campaign.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Chase Headley could be batting .570 with 94 dingers, I’d still feel like he’s hitting .248 with 6 home runs and striking out swinging on sliders in the dirt. He’s what Katy Perry is talking about in the song “Hot N’ Cold”, he’s yes then he’s no, he’s in and he’s out, he’s up and he’s down (back when Katy Perry was actually good).
When the Yankees were hot this season (excluding the first two weeks of the season), Chase Headley was not. He went from hitting an insane .380 in the beginning to plateauing at a consistent .240 for the rest of the year. During that time, the Yankees were playing 1st-place baseball.
Then when the Yankees were falling far into second place and rubbing shoulders with the Rays for third, Chase Headley was scorching hot, going 3-4 almost every game and contributing to a failing offense.
Right on schedule, Headley has started to come down to earth lately, and last night him being hit in the twig and berries firmly makes me believe the Yankees are back on track.
When things are right for the Yankees, they are wrong for Chase Headley. He’s hot, Yanks are cold. He’s cold, Yanks are hot. It’s science. Ask the nearest nerd what they think, it’s undeniable.
So by Chase being plunked in the Golden Snitch, it’s clear that things are not going his way right now. Coincidentally, the Yankees are 8-2 in their last 10 and their magic number is down to 5 to clinch a playoff spot. Crazy how some things just make sense.
For the second year in a row, we have seen rookies do their best Steroid-Era impressions. With the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Cody Bellinger, rookie hitters have treated MLB pitching like it’s their dad throwing them BP on a Little League field.
Added to this list is Philadelphia Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins. With 18 HR in his first 34 games, he is making the bottom of the NL East seem cool again (although the Mets are doing everything in their power to do the opposite).
Sure, this early success could be accredited to “beginners luck” and the usual argument will be made that “Oh, pitchers and coaches will eventually learn how to throw to him”. Similarly, this jaw-dropping success happened to Judge and Sanchez, and they have since cooled off some. The same story is going to happen with Hoskins, as this pace is not possible to keep up, but there are often two roads that players go down when they start their career with an historic hot streak. They can continue to be an effective player throughout their career, or they can fall into the “what could have been” category. Don’t expect Hoskins to be done in the headlines once this season ends.
To name one recent example, we saw Trevor Story last year hop out to an amazing start with seven home runs in seven games, but has never been the same player since. His sophomore slump hit him pretty hard. Many players find success in their rookie years and never see it again (especially in the NFL), most because they do not have the proper instincts or the intelligence to make greater, necessary adjustments. But, if you take a deeper look at what Hoskins brings to the table, I think you’d be ready to go all-in on this kid.
He is the Phillies Number 4 overall prospect, and recently (August) turned 24 years old. As I stated before, it is beyond impossible to keep up this power surge, expect big time home run numbers from him throughout the rest of his career. In his 2016 Double-A campaign, he hit 38 home runs and had 116 RBI, and before he was called up in 2017, he was having another fantastic season with 29 home runs and 91 RBI.
Hoskins is, first and foremost, a hulking human. The Sacramento State product is built like a linebacker at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with a broad chest, chiseled arms and thick, muscular frame.
He generates easy power when he connects, punishing balls to all fields both when he elevates and drives it on a line. Where Hoskins stands out is, unlike many other baseball players so large and muscular, he generates elite bat speed. He consistently posted the fastest bat speeds at the Futures Game, surrounded by the game’s elite prospects, and he matches it with patience, strike-zone discipline, and hitters instincts. Hoskins strikes out very rarely for a power hitter, and overall has 64 walks against 75 strikeouts this season.
Hoskins has further worked to turn himself into a serviceable defender at first. He has good hands that make him reliable picking up scoops and grounders, and he has improved his range, although it would never be considered elite.
Evaluators have generally been skeptical of his ability to play the outfield because of his size and lack of speed. He is not the most agile or quick-twitch of an athlete, and the last three games he played in left field were the first three of his professional career. He played left field as a freshman at Sac State.
It doesn’t really sound like luck to me. His elite bat speed and hitters discipline is something that takes years for many players to master (ie: Aaron Judge), but the fact that it is so clear in his scouting report is a great sign for him to be a factor in the NL next season. I often say baseball intelligence is one of the most underrated aspects of a player. If you don’t understand the game, you will never achieve your max potential. Discipline is often partnered with intelligence and great baseball knowledge, so it seems Hoskins has a great deal figured out. I really do not think anybody is that concerned about his defense. They say he is good at first, so boom, now you have the righty version of Cody Bellinger.
So get your jerseys now, folks. Rhys Hoskins (one of the hardest names to write in a blog because you never know if the “y” comes before the “h” and every part of you wants to write “Hopkins” instead. Lots of discipline, lots of focus here) is here to become an elite hitter in the MLB, and quite possibly bring the Phillies back to a playoff berth.
For all the uncultured swine out there, it was documented in one of the greatest baseball movies ever, Moneyball, that the 2002 Oakland Athletics won 20 straight games under the power of Rain Man-esque General Manager Billy Beane. The concept of “Does he get on base” worked out rather well, as they rolled through the AL winning 103 games that year. Iconic movie for baseball fans, a definite must watch, and you can’t hate the fat Jonah Hill.
But, for all the hard work that fat Jonah Hill and super-genius Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) did for the A’s, the 2017 Indians are giving them a run for their money with their current streak.
Well, Billy Pitt or Brad Beane (whichever combination you prefer) let me tell ya! The Indians have won 18 games in a row, and are nearing the Expansion Era record that made you guys famous.
Alright, sorry, I’ll stop with the gifs.
My point is that the most memorable, recent, and entertaining winning streak is being threatened in the MLB right now, and it’s very exciting. The Indians are beating opposing teams as if they were an oversized bully in middle school with self-esteem problems.
Having the lead 149 out of 153 innings? Outscoring opponents 118-30? That means, on average, they are beating their opponents by a margin of about 5 runs a game. Yes, I got a B+ in Algebra II in high school, so you can vaguely consider me the math guru of BTB Sports (sorry Mr. Walker).
I know the Indians started the season off similarly to the Cubs in that they just couldn’t break away from average baseball. Maybe both teams were still fatigued from the long World Series five months later…who knows? But while the Cubs have still maintained the speed limit on the road of winning, the Indians better look for sneaky cops because they are driving at lightning speed right now in broad daylight. We all know how dangerous of a team they can be, but most of the season we weren’t seeing it. Now, their window of opportunity has shot open and they are looking like the favorites to represent the AL in the World Series once more.
Even if their streak does end, it does not look like they are slowing down anytime soon. Reinforcements are on the way in Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis. These guys will likely be coming back from the 10-day disabled list soon, and if not soon, likely before playoffs begin. Getting back arguably the best reliever in baseball and two top-to-middle of the lineup guys will only make this team that much better (duh), but it’s a little scary to think about the fact that the Indians have yet to peak this season.
Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is finally living up to his monster contract. He is currently batting .296 while blasting 50 home runs and driving in 108 runs, and in most people’s opinion (including mine) is the front-runner to be crowned NL MVP. He has multiple goals this season, one of them being taking the Marlins to the playoffs, as they are only 4.5 games out of the Wild Card (one of the reasons I love the second wild card spot, because everybody has a chance it feels like). Another goal, one that has created a lot of buzz, is his journey to 62 home runs. This would allow him to beat Roger Maris’ “record”, set in 1961. The reason “record” is in italics because players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire have all surpassed that amount, but while under the accusation of steroid use. Therefore, baseball fans feel that the organic record for home runs in a season stands at 61. While it is a very touchy subject, and one I would love to discuss with readers in the future, it’s not what I’m here to discuss.
On Tuesday night, we saw something we hadn’t seen since May 27, 2016: David Wright playing in a baseball game. Despite the fact the every person in this world thought David Wright would still be on his death bed for at least a few more months, Wright was back last night to DH in a rehab game for the Single-A St. Lucie Mets.
Wright would go 0-4 with two strikeouts, but it’s a beautiful sight to see the captain on the field again. There’s a good chance David’s back is too shot to ever return to the major leagues, let alone make an impact on the Mets. However, if there’s one way to start a comeback, it’s to team up with Jesus Christ himself.
Tim Tebow and David Wright were really on the same minor league baseball team today. Can we take a moment for this please pic.twitter.com/V4gT0Shuik
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who was having yet another career year before his back injury on July 23, will start to rehab and set in place his return to the bigs. He will be pitching with the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate creatively named the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He plans to return to the rotation barring any setbacks during the start, but the organization is not planning on rushing him back if he doesn’t feel ready, considering they have an 800.5 game lead in the NL West.
While this is good news for Dodgers fans everywhere, this is bad news for whatever unlucky AAA team Kershaw will have to face in that start. Kershaw makes the best MLB hitters seem like Little Leaguers, so I assume he will make AAA hitters look like they are swinging a Wii remote.
Huge win last night. Should we have scored more runs off a guy who came into the game with an ERA over 6? Probably. But coming off as deflating of a loss as Sunday night was, with Luis Cessa on the mound, any victory was a big one.
Bert, Dave and I’s spirits were preeeetty low when Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes hit two solo shots in the third to make it 2-0 Mets. We were standing in right center so we had the perfect view of Judge trying to rob Cespedes. I literally started to cheer when I saw it hit his glove, only for it to deflect off of it into the bullpen.