Major League Playoffs to Begin; Cubs, Rays Hold Down Top Spots

You are traveling through another dimension...

Having shared baseball's best, regular-season record, the Cubs and the surprisingTampa Rays, making their first-ever trip to baseball's post-season, enter the 2008 playoffs assured of home-field advantage in the first two rounds.

In the NL, Lou Piniella's Cubs, reaching the post-season in
consecutive years for the first time since 1908, when they also won
their last World Championship, will hope to continue their superb play
at Wrigley Field this season as they host their National League
Division Series with the NL West champion, Arizona.

which won the NL East and left the division's prohibitive pre-season
favorites, the Mets, in the dust, will host the Cardinals, the NL Wild
Card winner and another unexpected participant in baseball's playoff

...a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

In the ALDS, Tampa will host the almost-as-surprising White Sox, while
the Angels will host the Red Sox, the defending World Series champs and
this year's AL Wild Card team.

A journey into a wondrous land of imagination.

It's impossible, at least for a Chicago baseball fan, to look at this year's post-season field and not imagine a Cubs-White Sox World Series match-up. If it comes to pass, it will be a replay of the 1906 series, in which the White Sox dumped the Cubs, four games to two.

The '06 White Sox were known as the "Hitless Wonders" for compiling a .230 team batting average, lowest in the AL. This year's edition of the team also won despite an often feeble offense that featured three regulars, Nick Swisher, Jim Thome, and Paul Konerko, whose averages were barely above .200.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella has announced that Carlos Zambrano will start the first game of the Cubs/Arizona series, with Ryan Dempster taking the mound to start Game 2.

The rest of the Cubs rotation remains undetermined.

Next stop, the Twilight Zone.


this time, no fastballs over the plate to Chris Young if you pleeze.

I could also do without the Ted Lilly tantrum.

I could do without Dumb and Dumber (Kasper and Brenly) in the booth.

I'm fine with Brenly, but I'm not so big on Kasper. They still beat ESPN and FOX by a long shot. I guess I just don't like most sports broadcasters, come to think of it.

I could do without losing.

Say it right: I could do without a crappy lineup.

I could do without all of the curse references by the media.

This is just asking for bad juju.

Sounds more like he's trying to drum up some interest.

Bryan Roberts .262 .352 .417 28R 17RBI
Cubs' 2B'ers .317 .400 .429 34R 31RBI

Cubs are solid.

JMHO but Hendry really wasted too much time on the big deal that never happened when anyone with eyes could see that CF was the problem he should have been fixing.

The only move I thought made sense that Hendry could've bothered looking into was signing Hiroki Kuroda as a free agent. Instead we got Lieber, who has been pretty good anyway. We looked set in CF with Pie and Patterson, as the only big bats available were Hunter and Andruw Jones, and, well, they don't really fit. The Cubs didn't have that much money to spend and really wanted a lefty slugger, not a righty. I definitely agree though that not getting Brian Roberts worked out pretty well.

anyone know what happened?

from Rotoworld
Troy Percival collapsed on the mound after striking out Brandon Boggs on Wednesday.

ah...Rotoworld just being retarded...can't even get the names right

Wheeler apparently injured himself after planting his left leg. He
stood up and started limping around, but the Rays took him out of the
game. It's unclear just how serious the injury is, but Dan Wheeler
would likely assume the closing job if Percival misses time.

Rob... it was Percival who got hurt, at least according to Dave Pinto:

Troy Percival just struck out Boggs looking, but on the third strike pitch fell over. At first I thought he just threw the ball hard, but he stood up and started limping. The Rays took him out of the game, and Wheeler comes on to try to finish the game. Watching in slow motion, it's clear that his left leg gave way after he planted and delivered the pitch. The Rays may need to find a different closer for a while.

NL fans got it right at:

C: Soto
1b: Berkman
3b: Chipper

Got it wrong, but not badly at:

2b: Utley (Uggla)
SS: Hanram (Furcal)

Were really wrong:

OF: Soriano, Fukudome, Griffey (should be McLouth, Holliday, Burrell)

AL Fans are worse voters, they only got it right at:

DH Ortiz
SS Jeter

Got it wrong, but not badly at:
1b Youkilis (Morneau)
OF Manram/Ichiro (of the guys on the ballot these two are a tie for 3rd IMO, but Quentin deserves to go)
3b Arod (Crede, Does have the best numbers of the AL 3b with enough ab's to qualify for the batting crown but Arod will end the 1st half with better numbers anyways)

Totally screwed up:

C: Varitek (Mauer)
2b: Pedroia (Kinsler)
OF Manram/Ichiro (Bradley)
OF Vlad (Hamilton)

dueling All-Star updates...

and they've got nothing wrong with Utley.

at this point in the vote, it's more about which team has had more home games. 

Agreed. Utley belongs there. Uggla and Utley's numbers are pretty similar right now, but Utley is the better defender.

Soriano and Fukudome don't look like they belong in the All-Star game right now, though Fuki is doing everything anyone should've expected him to (he just doesn't have the pop to contend with other potential All-Stars).

Of the Cubs, guys who should be shoe-ins are Zambrano, Marmol, and Soto. Guys who should probably back up the starters are A-Ram and Lee (though neither will probably make it, since Jones and Wright will likely be the 3B guys and Berkman and Pujols will man 1B).

Theriot in at 4th? Really? Hanley, Rollins, Furcal, Tejada, Reyes, Drew... I mean, I like Theriot and all, he's a good, cheap player who hustles and is having a good year with the bat so far, but he beat out all but three of those guys?

Middle relievers don't make all-star teams, nor should they.

The only baseball fans that actually want to see Marmol pitch are the ones that already watch him regularly.

I disagree about Marmol. Yes, it's true that normally middle relievers are the worst pitchers on the team and that they normally don't bring much to the table. However, Marmol is different because his stuff is absolutely electric. It's like K-Rod before he closed, or Brad Lidge before he closed, etc. He's got the stuff to close and would excite fans watching the game.

Talent and performance are not why we have the all-star game.

It's about who the fans want to see play. Most people don't even know who Marmol is yet.

Ah, but it's the *players* who vote for the pitchers. The more Zeus dominates, the better chance he has.

I thought the managers chose the pitchers.

Managers used to pick all the pitchers and reserves, but that changed about 5 years ago. Current process goes something like this:

Fans vote in the starting position players. The players vote for the pitchers and for one backup player at each position. The managers nominate the remaining 4 or so spots (ensuring that each team is represented), and then the fans vote in the last bubble player (stupid, imho). Commissioner's office has some oversight, too.

I spent a little time looking for an official reference on this to no avail. You'd think they'd have a rulebook or something published. :P

Here's last year's player ballot voting -- it shows backups for every position, as well as 5 starters and 3 relievers. It seems that most of the remaining manager picks must be pitchers. They usually carry 12 arms, I think.

That said, I wonder what Hurdle thinks of Zeus...

Usually there is a difference between middle relievers and set-up men, and we've already had a bunch of people list on here the set-up men who have made the All-Star Game in past seasons. The game is also about showcasing talent that perhaps others don't get to see. If you let the fans just control the entire roster and pick those that they want to see, the team wouldn't be as good or as interesting. Also, if you want the NL to win for possible home field advantage, I want Marmol on the mound late.

We're not setting a precedant(sp?) here...middle relievers pop up every once in awhile.

Okajima, Donnelly, Duschscherer, Jeff Nelson, Tom Gordon (2004), etc...


Donnelly and Nelson were homer picks by their own manager.

Donnelly was picked by Scioscia, and Nelson was picked by Torre to play in Seattle.

2001 All Star game

Nelson played for Torre in 2000.

Then why not just pick him in 2000, he was the manager that year too?

It also seems that Torre was not biased towards his own guys in this regard. I went back to the early 1990s and couldn't find a single instance of a non-starter or non-closer being selected to the All-Star game until Torre took Texas' Jeff Zimmerman in 1999. Bruce Bochy selected Scott Williamson that same year, but this is a borderline case since him and Danny Grave split closing duties that year. There were no set-up men selected in 2000, but in 2001 Torre took THREE - Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, and Paul Quantrill. Mike Remlinger made the NL team in 2002, Brendan Donnelly made the AL team in 2003, Tom Gordon was an AL member in 2004, and Justin Duchscherer made the 2005 team. None made it in 2006, but Hideki Okajami was selected in 2007 (via fan vote - note that Pat Neshek was also on the ballot).

and for me that is the tiebreaker. The fact is if Uggla was a household name and Utley was having a breakout year on the least popular team in MLB their voting results would also switch. The problem with the voting is that Home-field advantage in the WS is on the line and the average fan is either filling out a homer ballot (looking at you Bahston, Houston, and BCB type Cub Fans) or just voting for the people they hear about on Sports Center. If Selig wants to keep the "this time it counts" theme then the balloting for starters should be divided into a third between Fans, Players, and Media like the NFL does for the Pro bowl. Then let the manager pick the bench and pitchers.

I also feel compelled to ask, Chifan, whether you meant "abomination"...

Kosuke, Soriano, Soto lead currently

Berkman, Utley, H. Ramirez, Chipper and Griffey as well

Aramis, DeRosa, Lee are all currently third, Theriot is 4th.

Cub players presumably benefitting from heavy home schedule.

Fonzie's votes probably swing wildly by week.

The only baseball fans that actually want to see Marmol pitch are the ones that already watch him regularly.
...and Hera

I filled out my first ballot yesterday. Shame we can't nominate a DH for the NL team. I'd be voting Carlos Zambrano. :-)

"Designated Hombre"

I was thinking Soriano may be a better choice. :)

I did an all-star ballot just now but the question i have to ask is why does MLB allow you to vote 25 times? I find that dumb, but oh well.

Chipper, Berkman, Utely/Uggla are pretty much no brainers to vote for.

OF is really wide open so I gave votes to Fuku, McClouth, and Dunn.

Someone from the Pirates (and the Reds) needs to go and its a hard decision between McClouth, Bay and Nady. Just an outstanding productive OF.

Should it be more? They don't limit you at the ball park.

How are Utley and Uggla no-brainers if you can only vote for one of them?

What is more stupid is they let you vote 25 times on multiple e-mail accounts so people could honestly stuff the ballot all they want. I can see the 25 times on one account, but you can put the same name and other bio info on multiple e-mail addresses for the ballot.

Because they figure that even if you don't want them to spam your email account you'll probably forget to uncheck the boxes that give them that right at least once if you vote 25 times. It's all about marketing, not baseball.

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Uhhhh cuz if you choose either one (You can vote 25 times!) you really can't go wrong. Both having outstanding seasons.

Is that so hard to understand? Or. Do. You. Want. Me. To. Slow. It. Down. For. You?

A no-brainer would mean that there is only one choice.

But you gave two choices.

It isn't too difficult to understand - you even gave two good examples of no-brainers along with your bad one. Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman are currently obvious choices to be starting in the all-star game at their respective positions. Neither Uggla or Utley are obvious choices to be starting, because they have each other to compete against.

But maybe if you slow down a little more it will allow me to show you even more how you cannot have a "no-brainer" decision if two choices are equal.

And maybe I should explain to you what the reply button does. If I say it really slowly you may get it, but I doubt it.

No Edmonds tonight even though Lowe is a RHP. Apparently Edmonds splits vs Lowe are bad so Reed Johnson is in CF.

Sori, Riot, DLee, ARam, Fuku, Soto, DeRosa, Johnson, Z.

WGN and ESPN tonight. More parachat goodness.

I just can't believe anyone would think picking Utley over Uggla would be in any way "wrong." Obviously Uggla is doing extremely well, but Utley's the best 2B in baseball.

Recent comments

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  • You can start the CRUNCH EARLY AM REPORTER. Then you can blog to yourself, and argue with yourself about Jon Lester.

    The E-Man 9 min 32 sec ago view
  • my current job has me coming in at 7am (eastern)...i miss staying up til 2am to watch west coast games.

    crunch 1 hour 52 min ago view
  • Remember when west coast road trips were a good time to catch up on some reading?

    Old and Blue 2 hours 9 min ago view
  • Taboola field is more appropriate.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 9 min ago view
  • we can only hope...

    The things you have to do to pay for James Shields contract.

    Rob G. 2 hours 51 min ago view
  • I wonder if they'll have to make use of the Guaranteed Rate logo, which is a giant red arrow pointing downward.

    Brick 2 hours 57 min ago view
  • unsurprisingly, the White Sox continue a tradition of stupid stuff....

    @DannyEcker BREAKING: Guaranteed Rate has purchased naming rights to U.S. Cellular Field. Will be known as Guaranteed Rate Field thru 2030.

    Rob G. 3 hours 8 sec ago view
  • that was a very kind 3rd strike to hendricks to end the 3rd.

    man on 3rd, 0 outs and got 2 pop-ups and a K...Maddux-lite indeed

    Rob G. 3 hours 10 min ago view
  • how did Fowler not score from 2nd on a double?

    by making bad decisions...

    Rob G. 3 hours 17 min ago view
  • he held on a popup (in case he needed to tag up) that bounced off the wall then jogged to 3rd. there were 0 outs so that probably played into the casual nature of how he played it.

    crunch 3 hours 28 min ago view
  • Not watching -- how did Fowler not score from 2nd on a double?

    billybucks 3 hours 47 min ago view
  • uh, Fowler?

    Rob G. 4 hours 8 min ago view
  • Well I assume Ross is going to catch Lester in the playoffs, and it looks like Contreras is going to catch everyone else. I could see the Cubs keeping three catchers on the playoff roster as it would give them flexibility and Montero would have a left handed bat with some pop (at least historically) off the bench.

    Rob Richardson 5 hours 11 min ago view
  • Aren't Montero and Ross already in a tie for third catcher?

    Charlie 5 hours 18 min ago view
  • Higher than Chris Perez's mailbox.

    John Beasley 5 hours 26 min ago view
  • Contreras starting at catcher for a day game after he caught the night before. What do people think the odds are that Montero is left off the post-season roster, or is at best the third catcher?

    Rob Richardson 5 hours 53 min ago view