Archive for the MLB Category

The Doctor is sick.

Posted in MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay on October 6, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

I know to some of my readers the thought of a sport not played on ice is just plain silly, especially with the start of the NHL season only hours away. But if you can believe the bizarreness of it all, not only do other sports exist, one of ‘em is even into its post season right now.

If it helps any, I put the TSN NHL Season Preview on in the background for about 15 minutes earlier, but it was in low volume and I didn’t pay much attention so I barely made out Pierre McGuire saying ‘Canadiéns’ and ‘last.’ The point is, the following post does not reflect my lack of excitement for the start of hockey season – in fact I’m absolutely retarded with anticipation – but I am a huge baseball fan as well and yesterday began a post season I’ve been waiting a decade for.

Roy Halladay is my favourite baseball player of all time. I watched a TON of baseball before he came around and witnessed many players have some pretty substantial careers but never have I EVER loved a player like I love the Doctor.

Yesterday, in the first playoff performance of his career, Halladay served up only the second post-season no-hitter in history of the game and he did it against the best offence in the National League. He had one walk, eight strikeouts and needed just 104 pitches to do it.

After this there will be no arguments about who the best pitcher alive is – a fact only previously unproven due to a career cutoff by a border – and the things I have to tell you are no longer going to prove jack squat to anyone. But I did a good 25 minutes of legwork a few days back and I’m telling you what I learned whether I’m playing Captain Obvious or not.

This was supposed to demonstrate Halladay’s clear Cy Young-winning season but will now simply be a display of the man’s greatness. So many sports writers jump to use the word ‘otherworldly’ for any superstar but I believe it should be reserved for the truly magnificent.

Roy Halladay is otherworldly.

Philadelphia’s first taste of Doc has been a good one, as the 33-year-old horse tossed up typical Roy Halladay numbers: a ton of innings (250.2), top-five strikeouts (219), top-five wins (21-tied for first in baseball), top-five ERA (2.44) and a massive lead in complete games (9).

But, as I will demonstrate, these numbers, which are good enough on their own for a Cy Young, are a stunted version of what could have been. As was always the case in Toronto, even what I thought was the best batting lineup in baseball often failed to provide Halladay with a clutch hit and/or run this year to get him the win he almost always deserved.

I looked a little further into it and went through Halladay’s game log for the entire season. What I found was even more disgusting – in a good way – than I first thought.

Here’s a glance:

  • Halladay started 33 times this season. He had 31 decisions.
  • Halladay gave up more than three earned runs just eight times. He lost five of those, which means in 33 starts his team bailed him out three times. It also means in 25 of his starts he pitched more-than well enough to win.
  • In Halladay’s other five losses, he pitched at least seven innings with three or less earned runs. But his team failed to score more than three times in all of them, something they failed to do in 17 of his 33 starts.
  • He had two no decisions. He gave up two runs over 6.1 innings in one. And in the other? 9.0IP 0R 0ER 5H 1BB 9K
  • Of his 33 starts, Doc pitched at least seven full innings 28 times. He pitched less than six innings (5.2) just once.
  • Halladay led in innings pitched, as always (250.2) but did not lead in pitches thrown (3,568) showing his unwavering ability to entice hitters to swing at pitches they can’t hit.
  • Halladay had four shutouts but left the game 10 times without having given up an earned run. He left six times with just one and another four with only two.
  • He gave up four runs three times, five runs three times and six runs twice. But on only two occasions did he give up as many earned runs as he had innings pitched. And those were 6ER over 6.0 and 5.2 innings pitched.
  • While one of his complete games was a no decision, he also lost a CG 2-1. He won 1-0 three times – including his perfect game – as well as games 2-0 and 2-1.
  • In all his games, Halladay way pulled from the mound mid-inning just three times, meaning 91 per cent of the time he either finished the game or left due pitch count only, not because he had fallen into trouble.

Aside from being just another example of how unbelievably nuts the statistical aspect of baseball really is, those figures tell some crazy truths about how good Roy Halladay’s season might have been had he gotten a little luck.

With just a little more run support from a lineup that should have been giving it to him in spades in the first place, Doc could have easily won 25 or 26 games this year. Not that a perfect game, a no-hitter in the playoffs, a Cy Young (let’s face it, he’s getting it) and a World Series title (please, please, please, please) don’t make a memorable season but tossing in a record of 26-5 would’ve made it one of the greatest seasons of all time.

If it isn’t already.

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A ‘perfect’ day for Mothers Day

Posted in Alex Rodriguez, Dallas Braden, LeBron James, MLB, Montreal Canadiens, NBA, New York Yankees, NHL, Oakland Athletics, Phoenix Suns, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Antonio Spurs, Steve Nash, Tampa Bay Rays on May 10, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

So I know it’s probably going to surprise a few people to see me lead this blog with something other than hockey, especially on the morning of what could VERY easily be my beloved Habs’ last game of this already commendable playoff run, but I can’t help myself on this occasion.

While I haven’t said much of anything recently about baseball, other than to quickly acknowledge the hilarity that is the Blue Jays and to pretty much guarantee Roy Halladay’s place in Cooperstown now that he pitches in front of the best lineup on earth, Sunday’s best moment in sports most definitely came from the diamonds.

Everyone knows the Yankees’ superstar Alex Rodriguez but, until a couple of weeks ago, not many would claim the same for Oakland hurler Dallas Braden. At the time, Braden flipped a breaker during a game between the two clubs when A-Rod ran across his pitching mound after being called out on a play – an apparent unwritten no-no.

After the game, the ever-classy A-Rod (cough, cough) made a few comments about Braden’s no-name-ness (for lack of something clever) and basically said Braden hasn’t done squat and shouldn’t be talking until he has.

Well on Sunday, all this nobody did was face and retire 27-straight batters en route to just the 19th perfect game EVER, and he did it against Tampa Bay, who has the best record in baseball right now. I think Braden officially became entitled to his personal space on the mound from now on.

We all know this perfect game had nothing to do with A-Rod directly but the eyes of the media were on his reaction anyway, since he had to feel at least a little dumb about it. And not the normal kind of dumb either that would have many of us praying to draw his name in the opening round of a battle-of-wits-to-the-death tournament. But the embarrassing kind, where he has to actually say the kid is good and he has to do it on television.

That’s throwing in the towel of this war of words on just the second exchange. I don’t care how insignificant it is in the course of the season, that moment had to feel good for Braden.

But making A-Rod look stupid isn’t even why this was the best story of the day – and one of the best professional sports stories of the year in my opinion.

Braden lost his mom to cancer while he was in high school and was raised thereafter by his grandmother. If anyone watching yesterday was unsure of how important it was for him to accomplish this rarest of pitching feats on Mothers Day, they were off the fence completely when they witnessed the embrace between Braden and his grandma on the field after the game.

I guarantee you some grown men were weeping throughout the baseball world yesterday. Oh, and Grandma’s reaction to her boy’s perfection in the wake of Rodriguez’s comments?

“Stick it, A-Rod.”

My sentiments exactly.

On to another non-hockey topic, although this one’s pretty flippin’ close if you ask me.

Before I say this, let me clear something up. I love basketball. I generally think the NBA is a complete joke and I can usually only watch if one of maybe five players is on because it’s the biggest display of a no-teamwork-allowed league out there and it’s officiated by even more corruption and downright stupidity than the NHL, which is all kinds of hard to accomplish.

But I love basketball.

Well, if anyone else out there was fortunate enough to have game four on of the Phoenix Suns versus the San Antonio Spurs, then you saw something from Steve Nash almost no other baller could pull off. And I’m being rather nice putting in the almost.

Up three games to none on a Spurs team that has haunted Nash’s Suns for years and playing in Texas, Kid Canada took a hard elbow in the face from Tim Duncan, resulting in six stitches above his right eye to close a nasty gash, which didn’t stop it from swelling like a golf ball and sealing his eye shut within minutes.

While this type of injury would almost surely end any sharpshooter’s night – and let’s face it, 95 out of 100 NBA players of any kind – Nash acted more like a hockey player than a basketball player by receiving his stitches and getting back to the floor as quickly as possible.

And when he gets back to the game with just over one quarter to play, he somehow manages to put home 10 of his 20 points while half blind. Afterwards, and with the journalistic genius only found in the American sports media, Nash was asked what it was like to play with just one eye.

“Well, it wasn’t ideal,” he replies.

Nope. I suppose it wouldn’t be.

How does Nash’s performance make LeBron feel exactly? Mr. I-have-to-shoot-free-throws-with-my-left-hand-‘cause-I-STRAINED-my-elbow?

Now, I am no champion of pain, believe me. But if you can’t heave a 22-ounce ball of air-filled rubber 15 feet because you essentially have a cramp in your arm, which eventually causes you to miss absolutely zero game time, do you still get to call yourself King?

Just asking.

And now, ON TO HOCKEY!!!!!

Go Habs.

That is all.

A dark time for hockey?? Let’s reel it in a little folks…

Posted in Drug Testing, Fighting, Head shots, Injuries, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Patrice Cormier on January 20, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

OK I know I’ve been pretty hard on Patrice Cormier this week and made it clear these head shots HAVE to be curbed for the better of the game and blah, blah, blah. But all this talk of dark days and disgracing the game and black marks on the game and so on, is getting ridiculous.

I know Cormier’s hit came just days after a less-reported hit in the Ontario Hockey League, when the Windsor Spitfires Zack Kassian left his feet to blindside the Barrie Colts Matt Kennedy. Footage here:

And I know the NHL just suspended Andy Sutton – and rightly so – two games for his brutal check-from-behind on Pascal Dupuis. Seen here (warning, not nice):

But, as gut-wrenching as these hits were and as savage an elbow as Cormier laid, are these all blemishes of hockey’s good name compared to other sports, or just in comparison to hockey? My point being:

Is all this comparable to, let’s say, Marty McSorley two-handing Donald Brashear in the side of the head, one of hockey’s most infamous moments?

Maybe. Probably not but, for argument’s sake, maybe.

So if we’re comparing the last two weeks to other moments in hockey’s history, then I’m not going to get worked up. But if anyone takes these dirty hits and uses them as excuses to call hockey a disgrace against other pro sports, then we have a problem here.

Is Cormier’s elbow still a “black mark” for hockey when put up against an athlete accidentally shooting himself in the leg? I didn’t think so either. How about doggy death matches in the back yard? No to that too then? So I guess we can safely scratch football off the list.

How does Cormier’s hit stack up against pulling a gun on a teammate? I’m thinking not at all but I’ll respect your opinion as well. How about that teammate returning the favour? Closer for sure but still not there yet. What about a referee gambling on games he officiates? Still a bit off? Well I guess that excuses basketball.

And lastly, does an elbow thrown by one 19-year-old shmuck still go down as a dark moment in hockey’s history when compared to a sport where only 11 guys in the last 20 years could find the field without intravenously-injecting a cement-truck-full of horse steroids?

I’m totally on the fence on this one, so I’ll let you decide.

In the meantime, let’s remember that hockey is still great, even with the constant risk of bodily harm. And almost all of those making it to the pros are informed of the contact beforehand.

Shaq calls for superstar dunk contest to help Haiti and more…

Posted in Australian Open, Haiti, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Mike Peca, MLB, NBA, NHL, Shaq, Tennis, Toronto Blue Jays, Vince Carter on January 20, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Hey, check me out throwing down a post in the a.m. again. I’m not trying to reset the precedent just yet but I’m in less of a hole than recent days so I’m taking advantage.

First on the list to talk about is the NBA. No wait! Come back! Hear me out!

After the Cleveland Cavaliers finished fending off a much-less-terrible-than-normal Raptors squad, Shaq took an interesting idea to the public. He suggested having a big-money, all-superstar dunk contest at this year’s all-star festivities, with half the proceeds going to Haiti relief.

“I’m saying it now,” O’Neal said in the post-game interview. “So tweet it. Facebook it. Email it and hopefully it gets out. Vince, we’re calling you out. Kobe, we’re calling you out. We’re calling everybody out. If those guys step up in the dunk contest, then I will allow my client to step up.”

First of all, anything that gets more aid to Haiti is a good thing but how crazy would a dunk contest be between Carter, Bryant and James? I don’t know who all is supposed to be in it as of right now but they need to get the rock out of the way. Because 24 hours ago I would have taken a Dale Carnegie training session over watching that event and now I’m giddy with excitement just imagining the possibilities.

On to other topics…

Mike Peca officially called it quits on a wasn’t-long-enough NHL career yesterday. I know this is where you’re expecting me to say something rude about his tendency to get hurt but I can’t do that with this one.

Some guys are built like iron, while others are put together with a more, let’s say, paper-mache quality but it’s simply genetics and they can’t really take the credit either way. It’s the heart that makes an athlete and Peca definitely had heart.

Most will remember him from Canada’s ’02 Olympic team and many from his two Stanley Cup finals appearances but when I think of Peca, I’m reminded of one moment in particular.

It was in a World Championship a year or two before Salt Lake – yeah that tournament we all skip each spring to watch real hockey. But clearly no one told Peca not to care because I remember him getting absolutely leveled, shoulder to face, in the open ice in one game.

The hit busted his jaw and eventually knocked him out of the tournament, just not before he happened to shake off the check, take the puck, bust in and score a goal.

Now that’s a hockey player.

Hockey players get such tough injuries too.

Broken noses and orbital bones, torn MCLs, separated shoulders; these are ailments a hockey player can relate to. What are some of the other sports coming out with all the time? Real manlike injuries such as turf toe and tendonitis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m positive tendonitis hurts like hell but talking about it isn’t going to make you sound tough in a drunk tank, now is it?

Also on my mind…

I’m officially cheering for the Minnesota Vikings!!! OK, that’s probably a lie but after hearing Brett Favre’s angel-like voice sing Pants on the Ground, the new hit song from American Idol and my soon-to-be ringtone, I almost fell in love.

Now at least if they beat New Orleans, I’ll be serenaded by beauty while I’m realizing how much I suck at picking games.

It continues…

The Toronto Blue Jays signed outfielder Jeremy Reed and RHP Steven Register yesterday to minor league contracts and an invitation to camp. Who’s excited for baseball??!!!!!!

More important news…

Tennis is in the middle of one of its majors, the Australian Open. The following is all of yesterday’s happenings that anyone will care about:

McGwire shocks the world

Posted in Drug Testing, MLB on January 11, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Former Big Leaguer Mark McGwire has finally gone public with an admission of steroid use for more than a decade during his baseball career, including the ’98 season when he broke the homerun record by launching 70 over the wall.

In other news, the sky is blue, the Leafs stink and evolution really happens.

“I am not here to discuss the past,” says another moronic superstar as he blindly stares at Congress, believing there might actually be some lobotomized hillbilly out there who won’t crack through his force field of brainpower.

I mean, congratulations and all for not lying – per say – like some of the even dumber athletes… cough, cough, Clemens… cough, cough, Bonds, but isn’t coming clean now just an open invitation for the world to point and laugh some more? Couldn’t you have just kept your now lifelong battle with bacne to yourself?

Now they say Sammy Sosa, who finished second in dingers in ’98 with 66, is next on the agenda of outing steroid users of the past. My guess is Sosa would have already come clean on the issue if he had any capabilities of constructing an articulate sentence in the first place. In fact, if you go back to the tapes from that year and slow down the audio speed in his interviews enough, I bet you’ll find he was saying it all along.

To me, all this upheaval of washed up cheaters is like catching a 90-year-old criminal from the ‘60s. Yeah, OK, justice is served but who really cares anymore?

Allow me to clear up the entire controversy. They all did it. And those that didn’t do it likely sucked. I’m sick of the heat on the superstars anyway.

I say we should only be going after the low-end bubble players. Think about it. The superstars would be in the Bigs even without the steroids but the bubble players needed the juice to get over the hump because, without it they’d be Toledo Mudhens.

Take Greg Zaun. That guy’s name was on the famous Mitchell Report as a user and he still couldn’t throw a ball to second base. Tommy Lasorda could’ve stolen a base on this man’s arm and yet he had a Big League roster spot while some kid with a future sat in the minors.

I say line Zauner up in front of Congress and let’s catch us a real thief.

A somewhat-anticipated debut

Posted in MLB, NBA, NHL, Olympics, PGA, World Junior Hockey on January 11, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Well ladies and gentleman (more like lady and gentleman – Hi Mom, Hi Dad!), after a lengthy delay caused by Holiday riffraff and at least one lazy Nissan engineer somewhere in Osaka, I’m finally making my Shmitzy Says – Internet debut.
For those who don’t know me, I am a freelance writer currently living in Lethbridge, who became extremely well known among a solid 30 people during my college days, with a weekly sports column titled Shmitzy Says.
Those of you who somehow actually do know me, you might know this site has been dormant since its birth, well over a month ago. It’s to you I am most sorry for the delay. (But not really)
But enough of that nonsense, I hate long buildups. So here it is: tada.

A number of possibilities have come our way recently that could have made great topics for my first blog. Some are now old news, some were even no news but almost all were definitely big news.
So, as I often like to do, I have decided to compile a small potpourri of things that have been on my mind in the world of sports over the last month or so.

1. So long, Roy
The Toronto Blue Jays finally made the months of speculation and rumours a reality when they sealed the envelope on a trade sending Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies for three top prospects.
What this means is fans of the little birdies get at least another two or three seasons of rebuilding tacked onto the 16-straight they’ve endured so far. Fans of the Phillies get four years of Cy Young potential from the most dominant pitcher alive, aided by one of the best lineups in the game.
A healthy Doc, with run support, could seriously win 100 games in that span. As for the Jays, wake me if they ever get a magic number.

2. Cheetah Woods
Is Tiger Woods an idiot because he is bazillionaire, with a ridiculously beautiful wife (and even more beautiful life), yet still felt the need to sleep with – among many – a waitress from Perkins? Well, of course.
But let me just say, I have never turned on the Masters to see if the man can calculate the decimal points of Pi. I only care – as everyone should – about his golf game, which is still the only reason other than gambling to pay attention to the PGA.
Everything else about him is irrelevant. Let me put it this way: he’s possibly the greatest mental athlete anyone has ever seen but he can’t steer an SUV 100 feet with an angry blonde chasing him.
He’s just a man folks.

3. Yankee Pride
From the bottom of my heart, I want to congratulate the Americans for their gold-medal victory in Saskatoon last week at the World Junior Hockey Championships. They were faster and more skilled than Canada (in both games actually) and are clearly producing world-class talent annually. But since Mike Milbury, who somehow has weekly airtime on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, felt the need to gloat on Canadian national TV, albeit in attempted humour, I just wanted to ask one quick question.
I wonder if John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Evander Kane, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Myers, Michael Del Zotto or James Wright were able to see the gold medal game live?

4. Check out that stride

Speaking of the World Juniors, Taylor Hall is going to be a good one but did anyone ever actually watch this kid skate? He looks like Gaetan Boucher drunk. Don’t get me wrong, he gets himself there but Hall gets no points whatsoever for style. Eat your heart out Jeremy Wotherspoon.

5. Welcome back, Washington Bullets
Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely without pay by NBA commissioner David Stern, after pulling a gun on a teammate in the locker room, then publically lying about it, then publically joking around about it and then finally saying there was nothing wrong with it because the gun wasn’t loaded and he only stores his artillery at the office so his kids don’t get their hands on it.
I don’t know what’s worse, the fact this kind of injustice on someone is tolerated, when they can only be described as a responsible parent, or the fact teammate Javaris Crittenton had the gall to pull out his own pistol in retaliation.
That’s Agent Zero, kid.

6. Always trust a winner
Hockey U.S.A. has put their Olympic trust in the two men responsible for the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs and the resulting team will suffer in exact proportion. (All grammatically incorrect Leaves’ fans please stop reciting Burke’s hand-me-down successes in Anaheim and never-quite-good-enoughs in Vancouver)
Note to the GM of the 2014 team, if the League sends players: when Canada takes 13 forwards with 30-plus-goal potential, don’t bring Ryan Callahan. And if Chris Drury’s name keeps coming up in your selection meetings, release your entire support staff and start over.
But good luck this go-round Burkey.

7. It seems easy enough
As soon as Steve Yzerman and company announced a Team Canada that didn’t include a name like Rob Zamuner (’98) or Todd Bertuzzi (’06), it became clear to this writer the Red and White is the team to beat. While debate could dominate any conversation leading up to the Games over who should or should not be there, I will simply say Team Canada is a gross example of this country’s depth.
Does anyone doubt whether a second team of 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goalies could contend for a medal? There will be six good teams in this tournament, all of whom could win, but none with the non-stop capabilities of the home team.
Assuming Niedermayer doesn’t take a shootout turn somewhere along the way, while Crosby watches from the bench, I’m predicting a golden outcome. But just to be safe, don’t let Marc Crawford near the building.

8. Eh, Oh, Canada, NO!
That Pepsi cheer makes me want to cheer for Finland.

9. Trying to be a lundmark player

This has no meaning on the sporting world really but I just thought it was funny. I heard a conversation on the Fan960 radio station in Calgary, geared in the nature of whether Jamie Lundmark was about to establish himself as an everyday NHLer, based on a handful of promising games.
Repeat after me: Boyd Devereaux

Bye for now!

It might be time to update the major league

Posted in Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, MLB on October 1, 2008 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Oct. 1, 2008

Baseball is a game clearly built on tradition.

We know this because Major League Baseball won’t let us forget it.

The biggest names of the game are always the ones that played before anyone watching the sport was alive, or old enough to know what they were seeing. The league looks at these legends with such admiration that it borders worship.

I wasn’t there or anything, but I don’t think any of them walked on water, and if they did it was probably just winter.

I’m all for recognizing greatness of the past, but I feel baseball honours that greatness by trying to keep the game from changing with the times.

Every major North American league has made rule changes to adapt with changing times, but baseball has kept its rulebook virtually the same for more than a 100 years.

Keeping the old fashioned game play is one thing, but MLB doesn’t seem too eager to update any part of the game and could use a crash course in the 21st century.

Until two months ago, an utter refusal to allow video replay assistance for botched calls caused controversy multiple times every season. Yet even the CFL — and its two super-duper camera angles — instituted this before baseball. Thankfully though, commissioner Bud Selig finally received a wakeup call — whether it was a smack in the forehead or a bucket of ice water poured on him in his sleep is irrelevant — and last week saw instant replay used in a ball game for the first time.

As it turns out, the universe didn’t implode on itself.

Now that they are rolling, it’s time to try their luck with something even more dramatic than utilizing 50-year-old technology to get calls right.

It’s time to change the playoff format.

The introduction of the wildcard teams in the mid-nineties was a start, but it’s not enough to see the league truly prosper. I love the races for playoff spots as much as any ball fan, but eight spots for 30 teams is not a healthy number when you consider what some clubs are up against financially. If the league attempted equality of franchises in any way whatsoever, then eight might work, but equal opportunity is not in the MLB dictionary.

Simply put: the rich get richer, and the poor, well the poor wear Kansas City Royals logos on their jerseys.

The league could help this by bringing in a salary cap, but that’s not likely when the top payroll, and most powerful franchise, aka the New York Yankees, pays out $184 million more than the bottom one, so why couldn’t they increase the number of playoff teams to give less fortunate organizations more hope?

My proposal is simple: cut 10 games off the 162-game schedule and put six teams from each league into the post season. The top two clubs would have first-round byes, and the 152-game schedule would account for the extra playoff series played between the other four, as weather already hinders the start and finish of ball season.

In the current system, at least half the teams’ fans have no real reason to watch any games after July, unless they’re diehards, but if two more spots were opened (four overall), all 30 teams would remain hopeful for much longer.

Yes, teams would have five fewer home games to build revenue, but considering only playoff-bound teams get decent attendance in September anyway, overall league attendance would increase.

The Yankees organization, for one, would hate this idea (though it might have been right up their pinstripes this season), but I have a feeling they would still muster up a profit somehow. Maybe their next payroll would have to squeeze under $200 million, but they’d find a way to keep the bank from foreclosing on their fancy new ballpark I’m sure.