Spring Training Battles: American League

by Tucker Warner

Spring Training games might go largely unnoticed, as pre-season exhibitions tend to do, but many, if not most, teams have a big spot on the depth chart that’s up for grabs. That’s what these games are for, figuring out who’s going to be starting come Opening Day, and seeing if any prospects are further along in their progress than expected.

Baltimore Orioles: With long-time starter (when healthy) Brian Roberts gone to the Yankees, second base is up for grabs. Currently, MLBDepthCharts.com (an indispensable resource) has Jemile Weeks in the starting role, with Alexi Casilla on the bench. But will Weeks immediately continue to be as ineffective as he was in Oakland, forcing Casilla to move into the full-time role? Or will Buck Showalter be willing to accept Weeks’ subpar defense in favor of a higher upside at the plate? It’s important to note the Orioles brass may be higher on Weeks than most, trading away All-Star closer Jim Johnson plus a PTBNL to acquire him. I’d also be willing to mention that Baltimore’s consensus #5 prospect Jonathan Schoop has an outside shot of securing a major league spot from day one.

Boston Red Sox: One outfield spot will be held by Shane Victorino, and the other will likely be held by Daniel Nava, who proved himself to be a quality hitter last season. While it’s expected that Jackie Bradley, Jr. will take over the third starting spot this year, there are questions about whether he’s ready. Given that Jonny Gomes has had a bit of a career renaissance as of late, if Bradley- who turns 24 this season- doesn’t show his value early on, don’t be shocked if Gomes works his way back into the everyday lineup.

Chicago White Sox: Is this the year the White Sox give up on their current middle infield? Alexei Ramirez turned 32 in September, and despite once being a valuable contributor, his best days are behind him, both at the plate and in the field. Gordon Beckham, his double play partner, has never been the player he was expected to be, but he’s in his physical peak, and the White Sox might not be willing to part with him so quickly. On the other hand, top-ten prospects (according to Baseball Prospectus) Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien are almost ready for a call-up, and they both have experience playing multiple positions in the infield. It’s a long shot that they’ll be on the major league roster for Opening Day, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Cleveland Indians: Is Trevor Bauer ready? That’s all it will come down to for the third-overall draft pick in 2011 and former league-wide top-ten prospect. Carlos Carrasco is currently projected to take the fifth slot in the rotation (I would have to imagine that the other four pitchers are entrenched into their spots), and he has also had a disappointing start to his career. The obvious differences between them, though, are the three-year age dropoff from Carrasco to Bauer, and the fact that Bauer has long been thought of as a player with much upside. Even with his unimpressive stats through 33.1 MLB innings, I’d have to think of Bauer as the frontrunner here.

Detroit Tigers: They don’t really have one. These are the perks of being a really good team without a strong farm system.

Houston Astros: Recently-acquired Dexter Fowler will man center field no matter what, but the real question is where Houston’s consensus #2 prospect George Springer will start the season. Yet to make his MLB debut, it is hard to give him a statistical curve, but his competition for the MLB spots will be L.J. Hoes, Robbie Grossman, and J.D. Martinez, none of whom have nearly the upside of Springer. In 62 games in AAA last season, Springer hit .311/.425/.626, with 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases- only being caught on the basepaths three times. I think it’s time to see what he can do for the major league squad.

Kansas City Royals: For the final two spots in the rotation, the Royals have a choice between Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, and Yordano Ventura. Chen turns 37 in June, and has been mostly average for the bulk of his career, but put together 15 quality starts for Kansas City last season, while Duffy and Ventura looked good in limited time in the MLB. I’m guessing Spring Training will be an opportunity to see which looks best at the moment, and see if they can notice any red flags. If all works out well, though, don’t be surprised if one of these three starts the season in the bullpen.

Los Angeles Angels: Raul Ibanez vs anyone else for the DH spot. Ibanez can’t stay an effective hitter forever, right? Let’s ignore the part where his OBP was barely above .300 and focus on the fact that he hit the third-most HR in a season of his career last season playing in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, at the age of 41. But what if Albert Pujols can’t play the field anymore with his nagging injuries, or if Ibanez has a precipitous dropoff in value? The backup options for first base/DH would have to come down to Carlos Pena, who is far from the player he used to be, or J.B. Shuck or Hank Conger, neither of whom have either played a professional game at first base.

Minnesota Twins: Between Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia, or Phil Hughes, who will be given the Opening Day start?

…….

You know what, just enjoy watching Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in Spring Training. They’re fun, and they’ll be in the MLB soon. Just probably not yet.

New York Yankees: Will David Phelps or Michael Pineda be given the last spot in the rotation? Due to injury, Pineda hasn’t thrown a major league pitch since 2011, but he looked damn good when he did, and he’s still only 25. Meanwhile, Phelps was not good in 2013, but his peripherals looked awfully similar to his productive 2012 season. It might come down to whether the team thinks Pineda is 100% in terms of health at the start of the season.

Oakland A’s: It’s not so much a battle as it is figuring out how quite-valuable fourth outfielder Craig Gentry will fit in to the rotation of players in the day-to-day starting lineups. With Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick all having questions about their viability as everyday players in 2014 (And, wow, that sounds weird to say), Gentry will be a big factor in any outfield platoon the A’s might decide upon.

Seattle Mariners: Nick Franklin, currently listed as Brad Miller‘s backup for the starting shortstop role, is constantly mentioned in trade rumors these days, so let’s not focus on him as much as that, unless something unexpected happens, top prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton will probably both be in the Seattle rotation on Opening Day. Walker has been experiencing discomfort lately, so Mariners officials are keeping an eye on him, and anything can happen with young pitchers, so I’m not willing to call the job theirs just yet. It’s just that Seattle doesn’t exactly have (m)any other viable options to throw into the rotation.

Tampa Bay Rays: Which of their many terrific pitching prospects will get the fifth rotation spot? Will it be Jake Odorizzi, or Alex Colome, or Enny Romero? This is actually kind of ridiculous, and I think I’m beginning to hate this team. (PS: It’ll be Odorizzi.)

Texas Rangers: Will the everyday catcher role be manned by Geovany Soto or J.P. Arencibia aaaaaand J.P. just struck out on three pitches against the tee.

Toronto Blue Jays: The only prospect that seems close to major league play is southpaw Sean Nolin, who may make somewhat of an impact in the Spring Training games. Another battle worth keeping an eye on is Ryan Goins vs. Maicer Izturis at second base, but even I can’t get excited for that one.

What We Know: Spring Training

by Tucker Warner

It is currently spring training, and I know what question you have on your mind right now: “Man, I sure wish I knew some things about spring training!”

Well, we (my friends and I) can help! This is a feature called What We Know, and, lucky for you, we are going to share what we know about Spring Training in hopes that you can learn from What We Know.

Thank you to everyone who had some knowledge to share this week! We sure know a lot of things about spring training.

I will start with things that I know:

  • Spring comes once per year
  • Things grow in the spring, like flowers and baseball teams
  • Training in the spring can be difficult because of allergies
  • Bees come out in the spring, and it can be hard for players to focus
  • Spring training actually takes place in the winter, which is stupid

What do you know about spring training?

This is probably true.

Ouch! I hope they did not hurt you or anyone else when they broke. Important thing about spring: broken springs can be dangerous!

Wow! In this post you are learning about baseball and climatology all at once!

Trenidad Hubbard had a ten year career after his rookie season at age thirty, which is very impressive. He has 16 career home runs, a .333 on-base percentage, and ONE BAT THAT BELONGS TO SOMEBODY ELSE.

Oh no, when will the baseball players play baseball??

Spring Training Fact: Punxsutawney Phil is a former relief pitcher for the Miami Marlins; he was not invited back to Spring Training.

Well, we learned a lot about spring training today! Thank you for reading all of this, and you can expect more #strong #baseball #coverage later for the rest of spring training, and all of the baseball season.

Baseball is Back

by Tucker Warner

There’s something special about the start of the baseball season. Winter not yet having turned to spring, the players travel to a typical vacation spot for the weather, only to show up to work for nearly thirty days. In this time, with many players struggling to make the team, others fighting for a job, and young prospects looking to prove themselves for the first time to the club that put faith in them during the draft, one could argue that the purest form of baseball is being played. Untouched by the non-stop grind of the regular season, and untainted by any sense of personal flaws or shortcomings, spring training games are played out of desire, respect, and- dare I say- pure enjoyment of baseball. And as a sign that the game we all love has returned, winter/spring games are a reminder to us all that greatness is once again right around the corner, and that the beauty of the sport, that had been missed so much during the long, dark days and nights of winter, will be here soon.

And sometimes two Cuban teams stage a battle royale in the middle of the game, complete with players swinging bats at their opponents’ heads. Enjoy.

Uncle Gary’s Reviews of Stuff: KnucleBall!

By: Garrett Hickey

I, for one, am not one who enjoys documentaries, Knuckleball! is the exception to the rule. For most baseball nerds (who I assume comprise most of our readers) this documentary is old news, but I’m hoping this piece might turn anyone that has not seen it onto a new movie that could enlighten them about the illustrious history of the knuckleball (totally sarcastic, it is made clear throughout the movie that knuckleballers are almost universally distrusted as pitchers).

This documentary came out in 2012 and follows the 2011 season of R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield. It has the stereotypical sports documentary story line of how much both pitchers struggled and how success hasn’t changed them from their family-centric ways. This obviously is not the interesting story of the documentary, the interesting scenes are when the current knucleballers get together with past pitchers who threw the knuckleball and share stories and trade tips. These scenes give the viewer access to a meeting that has presumably been held for years with no one knowing. It gives you insight into something that is secret and private. Seeing how the fraternity of knuckleballers share tips and secrets makes them more likeable than the typical pitcher. Everyone, especially Dickey, seems like a normal guy who discovered the secret to getting major leaguers out without being particularly athletic.

If you enjoy baseball and enjoy movies you will more than likely enjoy this. The one downside was there weren’t any scenes about the science behind a knuckleball. It would have been a neat addition to the movie to have a pitch tracker that showed the minute motions that a knuckleball goes throw on the way to the plate. Considering this is the only complaint I have about the movie that’s pretty damn good.

I’m not going to give this a star ranking or anything, just see the movie if you like baseball.

The Kansas City Royals are the Best Team You’re Not Watching

by Tucker Warner

2013 has been an uncharacteristic year for many baseball teams.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the best records in the MLB, the Cleveland Indians are giving a serious push to the Detroit Tigers’ run atop the AL Central standings, and the Yankees suck.  But while all these storylines have gotten much attention from media and fans alike, the surprising season of the Kansas City Royals has gone somewhat under the radar.  The Royals have gone 12-1 in their last 13 games to improve to 57-52 on the season, and they’re inching closer to the second wild card slot.

While their incredible streak will likely not continue for much longer, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that they can play well enough for the rest of the year to make the playoffs.  Many players- most notably Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler- struggled at the plate early in the season, but have begun to be productive over the last month.  While still only tenth in the American League in runs per game, the offense is beginning to come around thanks to help from Hosmer, Butler, and Alex Gordon.  Because the poor hitting stretch lasted for so long, their season stats do not yet particularly impressive, but some of the team’s top players are steadily improving their numbers through stretches of productive games.

The Royals, though, are not necessarily a team that needs great hitting in order to win.  Similar to the Tampa Bay Rays, their success as a team can come from other sources (including pitching, but we’ll get to that).  One such example is defense, where Gordon, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain provide a strong defensive core in addition to multiple above-average defensive players at other positions.  The other is bench depth, where players like David Lough, Jarrod Dyson, George Kottaras, and Miguel Tejada have been playing well on both sides of the field and play multiple positions.

So yes, the Royals are essentially the poor man’s version of the Rays, a comparison that is furthered by the great pitching of former Tampa Bay star James Shields.  Ervin Santana has also been an ace for Kansas City, as both have ERAs hovering around 3.00, and have been imperative to the Royals’ success all year.  Jeremy Guthrie has been consistently above-average, and Bruce Chen has enjoyed a few resurgent starts, all of which he’s dominated- and I think we’ll see more of Chen in the rotation for the rest of the season.

But while starters Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza have struggled, the bullpen has prevented many further runs from crossing the plate.  All-Star closer Greg Holland, he of  the 29 saves and 1.67 ERA, has been an absolute stalwart, and 2006 first-overall draft pick Luke Hochevar might finally shed his bust status if he continues to overwhelm batters as a setup man.  If the starter can only get through six innings, manager Ned Yost has no problem combining these two with a seventh-inning appearance by Aaron Crow or Louis Coleman, who has yet to give up a run in 14.2 innings.

Yet, despite all this- the terrific recent play, the 12-1 record, the complete improvement of the Royals team- there isn’t much coverage of this team.  While that is to be expected with a team without a true media superstar that plays in a relatively small market, the Royals are still my obvious choice for most surprising playoff contender.  Playing in a now-crowded AL Central that can no longer be definitively called the worst division in baseball, the Royals will have their work cut out for them, but I’m excited to see whether they can close the gap over the next few weeks.

Adapt or Die: Are the Pirates the Team to Break the Small Market Curse?

Over the last month, I have spent too much time reading Moneyball and The Extra 2%, both MUST reads (I can’t emphasize this enough) for baseball fans who are ready to see where baseball front office management is in the 21st century. What Billy Beane did with Oakland has been well documented thanks to Brad Pitt but what Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay ownership has done is perhaps more impressive.

Beane went through the wall first, taking on the naysayers and baseball elitists who said the game wouldn’t change. Friedman, a man with a Wall Street background, blew the wall away by completely changing the way an organization is run. Not only did Friedman go a step further than Beane in Sabermetric analysis, he implanted an entire organizational overhaul that included PR and Entertainment shell companies.

Now, where is this all going? The Pittsburgh Pirates, of course. We stand on August 5, 2013 and the Bucs have the best winning percentage in all of baseball. The Pirates are debunking 21 years of losing to become the “next team” to embrace advanced statistics and revitalized drafting.

I’m not 100% sure what Neal Huntington’s special technique is: how he knew that Starling Marte would become an eltie lead off hitter in just his second year, how the hell Fransico Liriano and A.J. Burnett were aces that needed retooling or even that Joel Hannerhan, Melancon and Jason Grilli would over two years become the best back end bullpen group in the league. We won’t know until someone writes another book with a dramatic title what the culture of the front office is or just how bad it was under the previous regimes that allowed hapless teams to inhabit the North Shore diamond.

What we do know is this: this group of Bucs is destined to break 21 years of losing. Unless Andrew McCutchen sells his soul, the Pirates are going to return to the playoffs to face the ghost of Sid Bream. These are all things that bring me to the verge of tears as the calendar moves towards October. These are emotions, anomalies and stories all covered by every media outlet to date.

I’m looking at the future. Are the Pirates the next MLB success story in the vein of the Rays and A’s? Let’s start with the obvious: at the core talent on the field.

McCutchen is locked up long term. Marte, Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole look to only improve. Pedro Alvarez is a 35-40 HR masher heading into arbitration year one. Russell Martin, Grilli and Melancon are set for 2014. Gregory Polanco and Jameson Tallion will be with the MLB team next year and be impact players. That’s not a bad group to build around. Factor in the consistent success Huntington has had building a bullpen and the only real question marks are the back end of the rotation and the right side of the infield.

In both of the above-mentioned books, both ownership groups are keenly aware of both “Return on Investment” (ROI) and asset evaluations. Both teams had young pitching, shutdown yet cheap bullpens and a core group of young position players. The holes were acutely filled with players who did not break the bank yet delivered like they should. The Pirates have gotten that this year from Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. Both were valued next to nothing by conventional baseball. The Pirates’ ROI for these two players alone should be classified as highway robbery. Both will be free agents in 2014. Both will command interest from other teams, especially Liriano who won’t win the NL Cy Young but will have comparable numbers. Beane and Friedman have made their livelihood by accurately projecting a player’s performance and not paying for anything but. Liriano will be paid handsomely to play for a big market team. Burnett may get an offer. While the Pirates won’t want to lose either, paying $10 million/year for either is more than likely a mistake. Huntington will have to continue his search through the rejects of the league for the next great breakthrough.

That brings up the right side of the infield. Garrett Jones and Neil Walker are both puzzling cases. Jones is all but done unless he signs for low. He’s struggling this year and is now an average left handed bat off the bench on a contender. Walker is more a question mark. A fan favorite and local Pittsburgher, an extension is almost mandated. However, his overall offensive numbers have been dropping and the last two seasons have seen injuries take games away. I have no idea what Huntington should do here. The key will be this: if Walker doesn’t project to be worth $7million a year in on the field value, don’t pay him that. The Rays dolled out two years $15 million for a Pat Burell they cut before year two. That deal prevented the small market Rays from making a deadline push for Cliff Lee. The reason ROI is so important for Huntington is that it increases the margin of error. Right now, there isn’t a margin much large than the width of a glove lace.

But that moves me into why I think the Pirates can become a very intriguing case. That margin of error is so low for Beane, Friedman and Huntington because of low revenues. Beane and Friedman have outdated stadiums that can’t draw a crowd in depressed economies. Pittsburgh has a gorgeous ballpark in a city that has thrived with an influx of young adults finding success in technology and other white-collar professions. Attendance records will be set this season and next season. An influx of $25 million will come from MLBAM revenues. While the TV deals that make Boston and New York financial juggernauts don’t exist in Pittsburgh, the Steelers and Penguins draw some of the highest ratings in their sports. (All speculation from here) But what if the Pirates do what the Yankees did with the Nets and find a way to merge resources into a successful new network for a sports crazed town.

My point is this: Oakland and Tampa Bay adapted because they had to. Their franchises have shown a legion of other small market GMs in baseball that big boys are behind the curve and can afford to be so. Pittsburgh is adapting as well but unlike the other two franchises, the Pirates have an environment conducive to growth. I don’t think this is lost on Huntington or Frank Coonely, the CEO of the Pittsburgh franchise. Pittsburgh will never, I repeat never, but on the same level as New York, LA or Boston. However, all of the pieces are in place for the Pirates to establish long-term competitive financial stability in a small market, something Oakland and Tampa Bay have yet to do.

Cuban Missile Crises?

By Garrett Hickey

Imagine for a moment that you are a GM for a team; you have a player that has once in a decade pitching talent. His career stats over 4 years are as such; 22 years old, 5 year / 25.25 million dollar contract, 2.39 ERA, 63 saves, 282 strike outs, 1.042 WHIP. He’s a two time All-Star and was considered for both the Cy Young and the NL MVP. Why would you want to trade this player? You wouldn’t, fans would be calling for your job. You’d be crazy to do it. The player I was describing is Aroldis Chapman and the trade described is exactly the move Walt Jocketty, GM of the Cincinnati Reds, should make.

The Reds have possession of a player who is considered one of the best closers in the league. Mr. 105 himself, the Cuban Missile, but for all that he’s a player that has not had much effect on the outcome of Reds games. Dusty Baker (and possibly management) don’t want to move Chapman to the starting lineup. Dusty won’t pitch Chapman for more than 3 outs in the 9th with a lead. These factors keep Chapman from being truly useful to the Reds.

Anyone who has read Moneyball can tell you that bullpen pitchers are a dime a dozen. If a player is a good pitcher they can close a game, if they have the stuff to get outs than they will. It’s just how it is. The Reds have pitchers that can close games and have shown that ability before. Sam LeCure, Jonathon Broxton, Logan Ondrusek are all more than capable of closing a game. So why not move Chapman to a starting role where he can have more effect on Reds day in and day out, the answer is because Dusty and management are scared that he will injure himself. That leads us to what I’ve been talking about trade Chapman. Get a player that can be used every day to influence the outcome of the game. How about an outfielder? Ryan Ludwick is old, Shin-Soo Choo isn’t staying next year and Billy Hamilton might not be ready. Jocketty needs to make the move for the guy that everyone knows is on the market, but no one is sure that they can afford, Giancarlo Stanton.

It seems perfect doesn’t it? Chapman goes to the Cuban heartland of America and Giancarlo Stanton goes to a team that is a legitimate contender. Obviously the trade would be way more complicated. The Reds would probably have to give up some other pieces, but if I’m the Reds I’m fine with that. The potential for an incredibly potent offense in a loaded NL Central is too tempting. Uncle Walt needs to make some moves. The Pirates are back in a big way and the Cards aren’t going anywhere. The Reds can’t afford to sit pat with the team they have and hope that they can sneak into the first or second wild card the next few years. The top NL teams are getting better and the Reds need to keep pace.

Writers Note: As I finish this article the Reds are in the top of the 9th against the Dodgers. They have managed 3 hits against Chris Capuano (and others). Should we bow before Chris Capuano’s all mighty pitching prowess or should the Reds be considering that maybe they need to look at another bat for the line-up?

BREAKING NEWS: Ryan Braun Suspended for the Remainder of 2013 for PED Useage

by Andrew Pregler

The hammer has fallen in a way some expected. Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of the 2013 MLB season by the Office of the Commissioner after admitting usage of illegal PED drugs. The suspension will leave the Milwaukee Brewers without their best bat and Braun will leave over $3 million on the table as part of the suspension.

Essentially, Selig has been planning on dropping a hammer on his personal crusade against the PED era. The Biogensis story that dropped early in the season started this movement by the MLB to go through a comprehensive investigation of players linked to the clinic. Ryan Braun has been an obvious villain since his previous PED run in was defeated by a technicality in handling. When Braun was named in the report, it was a death sentence waiting to happen.

A few thoughts (Expect Tucker and I to have radically different views on this in later posts)

1) What does the MLB have on Braun that made him choose this way out? Yeah, the Brewers aren’t going anywhere and he was going to be dragged through this, but passing up $3 million and essentially killing all future sponsorships and publicity isn’t something you’re just going to do because you’re a good guy. He did this because 65 games is a lot better than what MLB had in store and felt it could prove with the evidence collected. That’s a scary thought.

2) What does this mean for Alex Rodriguez? Everyone knows the Yankees would love him to be suspended without pay and essentially end his career. A-Rod is going to fight like hell to make sure he earns the back end of one of the worst team contracts in MLB history. A-Rod is the next and potentially last big fish to fry for Selig and there’s no way he’ll plead down. The hammer will be felt hardest on him which makes his current rehab stint all that more interesting.

3) This is not the story you want running baseball. I’m sorry, I know cleaning up baseball is Selig’s prerogative, but no one will pay attention to the Matt Garza trade to Texas, no one will pay attention to the Pirates impending collapse or the Cardinals’ pursuit of record dominance or Manny Machado’s awesomeness for the next few weeks/when A-Rod is suspended.

We’ll have all kinds of writing on this all week.

Why the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are the New Best Rivalry

by Andrew Pregler

I went to Cincinnati with our newest contributor Garrett to watch the Pirates lose 2 of 3 versus the Reds. Ok, no big deal. Normal visiting fan stuff happened (more on this later) but I want to focus on what happened on the field.

All three games were decided by two runs or less. All three involved comebacks and momentum changes. All three games featured pretty poor strike zones from the umpires. Again, nothing crazy here except that it’s a divisional series with 60ish games to go in the year. Kind of a big deal.

Then, this happened:

The response:

And let me piece this all together. The Reds and Pirates have been tense since last year. The Pirates were in the mix until they played Cincy, lost a few and collapsed for the second straight year. In that series, this happened.

Thus, the seeds were planted. The Pirates adopted the Reds as the primary rival and took a huge series in April capped off with a five run, eighth inning comeback that planted the Bucs ahead of the Reds in the standings to this point still. The Pirates hold a slight edge in the series, leading 6-4 thus far. In these ten games, 22 batters have been hit. The Pirates’ faithful hate Brandon Phillips. Reds fans hate A.J. Burnett.

Listen, I get Yankees-Red Sox will get all of the publicity from now until the world ends. However, those two teams are rivals through history. This year, neither team has had a moment (unless you count the 30 minutes between pitches they probably use to write ESPN headlines and scripts about the game) that breathes life into this rivalry. It’s only a matter of time before the Reds and Pirates reach a beanball war that ends with ejections.

Oh, and Reds fans REALLY don’t like when you flash the Z.

Back to the visiting fan thing. I understand Pittsburgh fans (Yinzers in particular) have a reputation many expect. I didn’t this past weekend other than a faint “Let’s Go Bucs” cheer in game one. The Reds fans didn’t lay into me, but there were comments made. Meh. Game two is where things got interesting. Yinzers had invaded Great American and started a pretty audible “Let’s Go Bucs” chant in the eighth and ninth innings. This was not taken kindly.

But what is this more than normal visiting fan shenanigans? These two teams won’t meet next until they play the six of the last nine games against each other. By then, both should be grappling for playoff spots, normal football fans will be in the baseball stadiums and these two teams will not hold any fastballs back. I’ll say this: it’s going to be fun. It’s going to have more personality than Red Sox-Yanks. It’s going to have offense from very popular players (Philips, McCutchen, Votto) with two very “loud” closers (Chapman and Jason Grilli) leading to plenty of ESPN worthy highlights.

Sit back and enjoy this show. Sure, Bristol is going to tell you the only rivalry in baseball is Boston-New York. I’m just saying that if I were a Sox fan, I’d much rather watch a 3 hour Reds-Pirates game than a 5 hour Sox-Yanks one.

Hey Ya’ll

By Garrett Hickey

What’s up everyone, I’ll be your guest contributor today. My name is Garrett Hickey (everyone can get their chuckles about my last name out in my first post.) I’m just going quickly introduce myself and then get out-of-the-way for the other guys to write serious baseball stuff. Or semi-serious. Or whatever goes on here, I’ve only been reading for like 3 weeks.

I’m a graduate of the prestigious University of Dayton (Go Flyers). I’m definitely not as knowledgable about baseball as the rest of the writers on this blog, but I promise I’ll do my bestest. The only reason I’m writing today is because Pregler works with me and thinks I’m decently funny, which I’m assuredly not.

Here are some fun facts/likes/dislikes:

1. I like blazers with brass buttons

2. I dislike tomatoes on sammichs (makes them all soggy)

3. I’m a Reds fan, deal with it (This is the fun fact portion of the list)

That’s it for me. I hope this wasn’t boring. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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