Another season of baseball is in the books, and I must say, it was a weird one. Perennial doormats the Tampa Bay Rays won the American League East, the Brewers returned to the playoffs for the first time since many of our CJS readers were born, and the National League West went from the best division in baseball to unflinchingly sucking the meat missile. We have lots to talk about, so come on inside.
(One note: I realize the picture above is of the 2007 Ryan Spilborghs celebrating an NLCS victory, but why can’t we re-visit that glory once in a while? Plus, it gives me an opportunity to mention how much I love Spilly on Rockies All Access. Instead of having five idiotic, unfunny reality show hosts bringing us the Emmys, why couldn’t Spilly do it? He’s fantastic! Can we have him do the Oscars? Would Billy Crystal mind? Can we make sure Spilly stays in Colorado if for no other reason (good defense, .300 average, terrific speed aside) than to have him answer emails on Rockies All Access? How many rhetorical questions can I ask in this intro? Five? Six? Apparently seven. Ok, I’m done. On with the article…)
There’s no place to start like the beginning, so let’s return to the second post ever to appear on the Cru Jones Society: “Things We Love #1: Troy Tulowitzki.” After four paragraphs of verbal fellatio for young Mr. Tulowitzki, I hastily tacked on some predictions for the 2008 baseball season. Let’s see how I did…
“And just so I’m on record before the season starts, here’s my prediction for the Rockies: They go 92-70 winning the National League West advancing past the Phillies (again) and finishing the Cubs off in 7 games in the NLCS.
They win the World Series over Detroit in 6 games when Miguel Cabrera out-eats a Shetland pony and collapses from cholesterol poisoning trying to stretch a single. Dontrelle Willis will dislocate his hip in Game 6 after hanging five consecutive curveballs leading to homeruns by Tulo, Helton, Holliday, Atkins and Hawpe.
Franklin Morales rides his 98 mph fastball on the way to striking out 200 hitters. Tulo hits 25 homeruns and leads all shortstops in fielding percentage again. Manny Corpas eats other teams’ SOULS by saving 40 games and having a K/9 Innings above 10. And finally, Clint Hurdle has to have reconstructive jaw surgery from chewing his gum too vigorously.
Thank God baseball is back. I’ll see you at the park…”
So, I was a little bit off. The Rockies actually finished 74-88, 18 games off of my prediction which in terms of relative accuracy, puts me in line with your average meteorologist. Flickerbock predicted they’d go 95-67 in the comments section, claiming to have bigger yams (Quasi-related aside: I hate yams). Not sure about the yams, but his optimism gene seems to be well-functioning. On the bright side, if you can call it that, I got two of the NLDS teams correct in Chicago and Philadelphia. So, hooray, I guess.
I love that I had them against Detroit. Depending on what happens with their game against the White Sox today, Detroit will either finish dead last in the AL Central (!), or tied with Kansas City (!!) for dead last with nearly an identical record to the Rockies. Miguel Cabrera looked like Horatio Sanz when he showed up for spring training, but I suppose things could be worse considering he finished the season at .294/37 HR/127 RBI. Dontrelle Willis, meanwhile, turned into Mark Wohlers and looked like he developed Steve Blass Disease doing a stint in Single A Lakeland after elevating his ERA above 8.00 or so.
Here’s where it gets real embarrassing. Franklin Morales pitched 5 games for the Rox going 1-2 with a dreadful ERA of 6.39. He struck out only 9 while walking 17. He spent the rest of the season in Triple A compiling a decent 10-5 record, a semi-lousy 5.47 ERA, and striking out only one more batter than he walked. This guy definitely needs more time.
Tulo spent the first part of this season reinventing the term “sophomore slump” by spending more time below the Mendoza Line than Mario Mendoza himself and clanking balls off his glove like he had made a deal with the devil to get Dikembe Mutombo’s hands or something. He finished strong which is encouraging, but Christ, that first part of the season was putrid.
Manny Corpas lost his job as closer in May, but bounced back to turn in an ok-ish season. I have nothing interesting to add to this. I’ve always been a Fuentes guy, but got on the Manny Train because I figured the Rox would trade Fuentes this season. They can’t now, but I don’t think Fuentes will be back anyway. Closers are just too fucking expensive for how little they actually have to work. Someone will overpay for Fuentes, he’ll do a decent job for that team, and everyone will move on with their lives. ‘Nuff said.
And finally, while Clint Hurdle did not require reconstructive jaw surgery, he continued to chew that gum like a Randall cow chewing cud. (Side note: I love that someone thought enough of their 25 second video of a cow chewing cud, they just had to share it with the world by posting it on YouTube. And theirs was only one of about 28 results returned! The Internet continues to baffle me.)
Since I don’t pretend to even care about the rest of the league, I won’t insult your intelligence by doing an overblown, half-cooked season retrospective. What I will offer are five random thoughts on the 2008 season.
1) The Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
This is like that old high school movie cliché when they do an epilogue of all the main characters years later and you find out the popular but mean jock douche bag is now 30 lbs. overweight and works at a car wash after slaying hos in high school and being the star quarterback. Well, it’s finally years later, and the Yankees are finally post-graduation Mike Dexter. It’s fantastic.
2) The Rockies somehow manage to sign another relief pitcher for the sole purpose of making me insane.
Can we please petition the State Government to prevent Dan O’Dowd and the Rockies from signing any more relief pitchers? They obviously have no idea how to do this without pissing everyone off and requiring a defibrillator during late inning situations. I mean, for fuck’s sake, two years ago we had to deal with fat ass Ray King and over-the-hill Jose Mesa, last year it was LaTroy Hawkins (a.k.a. spin the wheel of destiny), and this year it’s Luis Vizcaino. When you factor in history and dealing with guys like Darren Holmes, Bruce Ruffin, and Jeff Parrett, it’s possible this team has had the worst history of bullpen arms ever in the entire league. Don’t trade for any more relievers, just bring them up from the farm system. You’ll save us all a giant load of high blood pressure.
3) The Mets cough up a late season division lead again.
Ha! No one was happier about this than my dad who still hates the Mets after the Cubs choked away the National League pennant in ‘69. Plus, I love watching New York teams lose. General bitterness about East Coast bias, I guess.
4) The July 4th Game
For those of you who missed it, this game was fucking nuts. I was at a keg party sitting on the couch with a bunch of dudes I’d never met and Lee S. Hart. By the end of this 18-17 insanity and about 11 beers apiece, we were all great buddies by the end. Of course, I haven’t seen any of those guys since, but we had this game, and that’s all that mattered. The Rox were down by 9 midway through the 4th, but after battling back to make it 13-9 in the 5th and 13-12 in the 6th, I said to Lady E, “There’s no way we’re losing this game.” And sure enough, 9th inning, there’s Chris Iannetta with the bases loaded shooting a worm killer through the drawn-in infield to win the wildest game I’ve ever watched. I can appreciate the hell out of every second of a 1-0 pitchers duel, but there’s nothing like a batshit loony shootout on a national holiday filled with beers and grilled meat to remind you of why you love baseball.
5) The Chicago F’n Cubs
Zambrano’s no-hitter. The brilliant trade for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. The emergence of Carlos Marmol. Jim Edmonds hooking up to the rejuvenation machine. Theriot showing up as a wonderful everyday shortstop. Ramirez, Lee, Soriano, Soto and the rest comprising the most balanced lineup in baseball. Lilly, Dempster, Marquis, Wood, Samardzija… all the glorious bastards on the pitching staff…
This has been an unbelievable season. And it only continues from here. And I… I think I’ve said too much. I’m too afraid to even think about the possibilities. I mean… it’s been 100 years, and… you know what, I’ve said too much. Just let the motherfucking playoffs start. Let’s go from there.
I’ll end with a quote from Lady E, left in the comments section of the Tulo article, which good, bad or indifferent is the ultimate baseball truth:
“Thank god for baseball season! Sitting in the sun, drinking large amounts of beer, eating fatty peanuts, and chanting Tu-Lo! If there is a God, this MUST be heaven.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, darling.
Until the World Series…
29 Sep 2008 E Dagger