Baseball Thoughts Entering the 2015 Playoffs (or how the Cubs can win the World Series)

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

I’m sitting in the ProjectShanks.com home office in Longview, Texas, six feet to the left of my slave-driving boss, Chris Stuckey. Talk about pressure.

But I surge ahead, determined to transfer these thoughts I have from my brain to keyboard, whether a thousand miles away at home, or at headquarters.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

In case you haven’t noticed, the Cubs have the third best record in baseball. It is typical, that in such a case, the two better records belong to teams in their own NL Central Division; the Cardinals and Pirates. With only a couple of games this weekend to settle the dust and seal the postseason awards, the National League playoffs are set. The Cubs and Pirates will play the one game wild card game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, TBS the dutiful portrayer of the game. And don’t the playoffs just scream TBS? They broadcast an excuse me game every now and again, I was surprised to find late in the season that Ted Turner’s network even continued to broadcast baseball, with the superstations TBS and WGN dumping the local team coverage in the last few years, they being the Braves and Cubs. But that’s a conversation for a different column. [Read more…]

Major League Baseball’s Review at the Two-Thirds Point

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Mike-Trout

Major league baseball is at the 2/3 mark of the 2015 season and begs for a review. These are the dog days, heading into mid-August with sellers selling and buyers hoping to rent their way to top of the heap. Re: Toronto Blue Jays. [Read more…]

Cubs and Cardinals Rivalry Renewed

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

My stomach is churning. Flipping and flopping. The Fourth of July has come and gone, falling on a weekend for the benefit of those craving a long one. The USA lady footballers pummeled the Japanese to the delight of flag wavers everywhere. The Cubs took two of three from the Florida Fish, which leads me to the source of my discomfort.

A couple of weeks ago, the Dodgers came to town for a four-game set. Conventional wisdom held that with Los Angeles pitching Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke the first two games of the series, the Cubs would do well to somehow split those two games, then try to take advantage of the back end of a weakened Dodgers rotation to take the series. [Read more…]

Just Call Me Jinxy

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

A funny thing happened to me yesterday. I was watching the Cubs play the Reds, much like any other day. Reds pitcher Mike Leake had retired the Cubs without a baserunner once through the order. Being acutely aware of jinxes and things of that nature in the world of sports, I posted the following as my Facebook status at the end of the third inning…No-hitter alert in Cincinnati, Reds pitcher Leake has given up no hits through three. The first batter for the Cubs in the fourth inning, Dexter Fowler, laced a base hit to scuttle the no hit bid, and it occurred to me, I might be on to something here.

Photo Credit: SI.com

Photo Credit: SI.com

You see, it isn’t the first time that’s happened. It isn’t even the first time this year. In the Cubs 2nd game of the season against the Cardinals, an identical scenario presented itself. I posted the no hitter alert and the Cubs lead off hitter in the fourth, it escapes me now who it was, led off the inning with a hit. The power to curse potential no-no’s is within me, and now I need to figure out how to make it work best for me. [Read more…]

2015 MLB Predictions

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

mike-trout

Baseball season kicks off on Sunday night with the Cubs and Cardinals in the first ever opening night game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are teeming with hope this year, as with every year. This year though, the hope actually has some actual talent with which to base itself on. This isn’t another Cubs story though, these are my predictions for the upcoming baseball season. Division races, wild cards and the World Series. As a bonus I’m throwing in the individual postseason awards. So sit back, take a look and then let me know what you think. Play ball! [Read more…]

2014 MLB Team Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

By Chris Patton
PSDC Writer

A lot of things have changed in St. Louis since the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series. Albert Pujols and David Freese are in Anaheim. Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter have retired. Tony LaRussa works for MLB and awaits enshrinement in Cooperstown this summer. Carlos Beltran has come and gone in that time.

This kind of turnover would be a clear sign of a rebuilding process for many teams. But, General Manager John Mozeliak has built a fortified organization from top-to-bottom that has been able to withstand superstar departures.

In 2012, first-year manager Mike Matheny got the team within one win of a return trip to the Fall Classic. Last year, the Redbirds made it back to baseball’s grand stage before falling in six games to the Boston Red Sox.

With a young, deep pitching staff (starters and the bullpen), along with a solid lineup, the Cardinals figure to be playing into October yet again. [Read more…]

Here’s The Thing – Focus On Today 10/22/13

By Stephen Thomas
PSDC Funnyman and Brad Pitt Doppelgänger

Stephen Thomas’ brand new CD “Magic Wife Dust” is now available HERE! His sports-humor commentary can be heard nationwide, weekdays on The Nick Bonsanto Show on the Sports Byline USA radio network. You can subscribe to the Here’s The Thing podcast on iTunes and/or Podbean for free.  The transcripts will appear here.

I’m Stephen Thomas with Here’s The Thing.

There are pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns all over my family room today.  From where I sit I can see over 30 of them, more than that if you count the string of little pumpkin lights hanging over the mantle. There’s a skeleton, and a tombstone, and for some reason a teddy bear wearing a pumpkin hat that’s incredibly creepy and somehow almost as scary as seeing Brandon Weeden under center. [Read more…]

PSDC Random Stat of the Day

By Johnny Griffith
PSDC Stat Man

The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals will meet this week for their fourth World Series tilt. The Cardinals won the first two in 1946 and 1967 and the Red Sox ended the “Curse” with a sweep of the Redbirds in 2004.

Boston-Red-Sox-St-Louis-Cardinals

Source: www.mlb.com

PSDC Random Stat of the Day

By Johnny Griffith
PSDC Stat Man

The St. Louis Cardinals are hitting an anemic .134 (13-97) through the first three games of the NLCS. That is “good” enough to be the worst batting average through the first three games of any LCS since 1969, the year a structured postseason playoff format was established.

allen-craig-st-louis-cardinals

Source: www.espn.com

Random Site of the Day: www.brosome.com

MLB Playoffs: National League Division Series Previews

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru 

While waiting to see if Tampa Bay or Cleveland earns the right to be dismantled by their next opponents, here is a Reader’s Digest version of the National League Division Series.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals:
As a Cubs fan, every atom I’m made of wants to see St. Louis lose… or to see Pittsburgh win. These Central Division rivals continue a long season series in the NLDS. The Pirates have the advantage of having the entire country rooting for them, outside of St. Louis. This of course is because they are in the postseason for the first time in 22 years. That personal bias aside, here is how I see the series unfolding by segment.

Russell-Martin

OFFENSE
Advantage: St. Louis. The Cardinals have a preposterous advantage here. Their average of .300 plus with runners in scoring position is absurd. The major league average is somewhere around .260. One of the few offensive liabilities is the loss of Allen Craig. He was having a near-MVP season until he was injured, but I see the likes of Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter filling the hole left by Craig’s absence.

PITCHING
Advantage: Stinking Cardinals. A rotation thought to be weaker with the loss of Chris Carpenter continued to plug holes with the seemingly endless stream of minor league call-ups. Adam Wainwright with 19 wins leads the way in the rotation. The bullpen is a red flag though, especially the back end. That may be one of the Pirates slim chances, getting to the short relief corps.

INTANGIBLES
Advantage: Pittsburgh. We love to posit ourselves behind the feel good story in any playoff series, and the Pirates fill the bill. The long postseason absence has most baseball followers hoping for the feel-good, magical result. The Buccos, with 94 wins have the most wins besides the Cards, they haven’t even had 80 wins for a season since 1992.

Prediction: Cards in 4

Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:

OFFENSE
Advantage: Atlanta. The Braves get just a slight edge here largely due to the absence of Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. LA has played the great majority of its schedule without Kemp. In fact, the ignominious beginning to their season, up until June, was played WITH Kemp in the lineup. The remarkable final 2/3 of the season was played largely without him.

PITCHING
Advantage: Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw and his sub 2.00 ERA is enough to carry over to the rest of the staff, even games he doesn’t start.

INTANGIBLES
Advantage: Los Angeles. Due largely to the worst to first in one season scenario they put together. They were something like 30-3 immediately following the All-Star Break. Plus Kershaw is just awesome.

Prediction: Dodgers in 5

American League tomorrow.

Follow Joe on Twitter: @hinesjoe

Top 3 Most Overrated Athletes of All Time

By Tony James
PSDC Writer

I enjoy discourse. Not to the level of First Take (Skip Bayless is a troll), but I enjoy debating the merits of a player—who should we root for, who should we despise, who is underrated, who gets too much love, etc. With that in mind, I’ve attempted to compile a list of who I consider the most overrated athletes in the Hall of Fame. For the sake of time, I have cut my list down to three.

Let the debate begin.

#3 Troy Aikman:

I don’t understand the praise for Troy Aikman. I really don’t. Without Emmitt Smith, Aikman is woefully average. In fact, let’s take a second to look at his supporting cast. Two Hall of Fame offensive linemen, a Hall of Fame tight end, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, a Hall of Fame caliber fullback and arguably the greatest running back of all time. This is not even bringing up the Hall of Famers the Cowboys had on defense during Troy’s playing days. It is no surprise Troy Aikman won Super Bowls. The honest fact of the matter is anyone at QB would have. I joke with my friends that I could have been the Cowboys’ QB in 1993 and led them to a 9-7 record and a wild card playoff berth. That’s being conservative. [Read more…]

Fan to Fan: Texas Rangers vs St. Louis Cardinals

Just two short years ago, the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals played a World Series for the ages. With those two teams set to meet for a three-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis this weekend, Project Shanks’ Chris Stuckey (a Rangers fan) and Chris Patton (a Cardinals fan) took to their e-mail accounts to look back and look forward. Here is that exchange:

Chris Patton:  What’s going on, fellow Chris? When I approached you with the idea of trading emails about this weekend’s Rangers-Cardinals series in St. Louis, I swear I didn’t bring it up as a way to rub in that my team (the Cardinals) beat your team (the Rangers) in the 2011 World Series. It’s a nice by product, but that wasn’t why I brought it up.

The 2011 World Series was filled with twists and turns and deserves all the praise it receives, Game 6 especially. From a three home run game to a Hall of Fame manager’s bullpen phone issues to the series losing team being one strike away from winning the series (twice), the 2011 Fall Classic won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

While many of the combatants are still around, several have moved on. In fact, one Redbird hero from 2011 now plays for the Rangers (Lance Berkman). Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are now in Anaheim. That Hall of Fame manager with the communication problems now works for Bud Selig.

Those departures have done little to slow these squads down. Both made the playoffs last year, even though neither fan bases were thrilled with how those playoff runs ended. The 2013 Cardinals have the best record in baseball, while the Rangers make their first regular season trip to St. Louis sitting one game back of the Oakland A’s in the AL West.

So, Mr. Stuckey, are you looking forward to this series? Is there a thought of getting some revenge? Is it being viewed as a nice test for the Rangers close to the midway point of the season? Or is this just another series and it’s not as important as games played against division foes like the Angels and A’s?

Chris Stuckey:  Oh, Chris. I have tried my best rid the debacle that was the 2011 World Series from my memory. Nelson Cruz and I will forever have irreconcilable differences due to the events that occurred in Game 6. Why didn’t Ron Washington put in Endy Chavez as a defensive replacement? Every time I see a fly to right field in Nellie’s direction, I have flashbacks. That game took years off my life…that game and copious amounts of Crown Royal.

As for this upcoming regular season series between my Rangers and your Cardinals, to me, it is just another series. The Rangers made it to the World Series the following year so that made it all better. Wait. They lost to the Giants in that Fall Classic. So, no this isn’t just another regular season series. This is revenge. I hope Allen Craig (What kind of a name is that anyway? It sounds like a furniture store.) gets hit by a slow curveball every time he steps up to the plate. No, I’m not bitter.

And Lance Berkman, feel free to take him back. He’s so fat and so old.

How do you view this series, Chris? You know, from the winner’s perspective. [Read more…]