Tagged: Royals

Predictions That Did Go Wrong 7.0

Another season of baseball, another year of being completely wrong about how the season played out. We did fairly well, by our own standards, in the Postseason, but continue to fall short as a whole. Despite our best efforts the Sisyphean task continues. 

A scoring system is necessary to determine who made the best predictions. Scoring for the Regular Season is straight forward, one point for each correct prediction. A correct prediction is the team’s final divisional standings. A perfect Regular Season is 30 points. We were not close to perfection. 

American League East

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
YankeesGod’s Waiting RoomYankeesYankeesYankeesYankeesRays
RaysSpankiesDudein JaysRaysPoutineRaysRed Sox
Snow BirdsSorrysDevil RaysFlorida BirdsRaysBlue JaysYankees
Red SoxBaltimoreSad BirdsRed SuxRacistsRed SoxBlue Jays
Dead BirdSoxFenwaysBmoreOh DearOriolesOrioles

American League Central 

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxTwinsWhite SoxWhite Sox
TwinkiesSouth SidersTwinkletittesTwinklesWhite SoxTwinsGuardians
MonarchsTeam to be named laterQuarter PoundersClevelandRoyalsRoyalsTigers
SpidersTigersCleveland Football teamRoyalsSpidersSpidersRoyals
Motor City KittiesMonarchsDetroit Why Am I HeresTigersTigersTigersTwins

American League West

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
MoneyballWhite ElephantsLA’s other teamA’sBeane BallersAthleticsTrastros
TroutHouston Astr-hosMoneyballTrash CansAngelsAngelsMariners
Trash CansAngelsCheatersAngelsCheatersAstrosAthletics
Ranger DangerNolan Ryan Hot DogsSea hagsStarbucksMarinersMarinersAngels
MarinersGriffey Used to Play HereAgent ZerosChuck NorrisRangersRangersRangers
The White Sox won the Field of Dreams game and were aiming for more in October. (NBC Sports)

National League East

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
BravesBravosAtlanta BallclubBravesBravosBravosBraves
MetsGnatsCohensMarlinsMetsMetsPhillies
NatsFishFlorida FishMetsMarlinsMarlinsMets
MarlinsAmazins2019 ChampsNatsNationalsNatsMarlins
PhanaticsPholliesSad HarpersPhilliesPhilliesPhilliesNationals

National League Central

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Red BirdsCincy…..why not?ArenadosMiller TimeCardinalsCardinalsBrewers
Red LegsCardsDrink pretty goodCardinalsBrewersBrewersCardinals
Brew CrewBrewcroodsShitcagoRedsCubsRedsReds
Teddy BearsBuccarooniesCincincincin…..CubbiesRedsCubsCubs
Burn the ShipsNorthsidersNice stadiumsBonds’ ex-gfJack SparrowsPiratesPirates

National League West

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
DodgersYou want a hot apple pie with that?BettsDodgersPadresDodgersGiants
DaddyThe over hyped LA teamPadresPadresScullysPadresDodgers
SnakesSILVER BULLET!!!!!!!!GentsGiantsRattlersGiantsPadres
Jolly GreensScam Fram BricsoQuarterbacksDbacksGiantsDiamondbacksRockies
Rockie Mt HighI’m a snakeIt Smoke Pretty GoodRockiesRock BottomsRockiesDiamondbacks

Beginning in the Junior Circuit, John completely whiffed on his beloved American League East. No one else did much better. Jesse correctly guessed Tampa Bay to win the East, while Derek, Kevin, Bernie, and The Winning Run knew the Orioles were destined for the cellar. Moving to the heart of the country and the Central, this time it was Jesse and Bernie striking out. Derek, John, Kevin, and The Winning Run kept the faith with the White Sox and Tony La Russa. Kevin added another point with the Royals finishing fourth. Out west Jesse’s second missed division was joined by Derek. John, Kevin, Bernie, and The Winning Run managed to predict the Rangers’ last place finish. The Junior Circuit was a struggle, but things turned around in the National League.

Historically, the National League East is our strongest division as we mostly follow these teams. Everyone predicted the Braves to win their fourth consecutive East title. Gold stars for everyone. Derek found another point with the Marlins in fourth place, and Kevin picked up a second point from the amazin Mets in third place. The Central was our strongest division. Derek picked up two points with the Cubs and Pirates at the bottom of the division. Jesse  grabbed a point with the Cardinals in second place. John picked up a point thanks to the Pirates in last place. Kevin ran the table with a perfect division, the only perfecto of the season. Bernie also got a point from the lowly Pirates. The Winning Run grabbed three points from the Reds, Cubs, and Pirates on the wrong side of the division. The National League West was a two team race for months. Did we see that coming? Nope. Derek, John, Kevin, and The Winning Run missed the entire division. Jesse was a magician with two points thanks to the Dodgers in second place and the Diamondbacks in last. Bernie also had the Dodgers in second place. The Senior Circuit was kinder, but still not great. 

Buster Posey helped lead the Giants to 107 wins and one last trip to the Postseason before riding off into the sunset. (NBC Bay Area/ Sports)

The standings at the end of the Regular Season: 

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. The Winning Run- 7
  3. Derek- 6
  4. Bernie- 5
  5. Jesse- 5
  6. John- 4

If you make it to the Postseason, you have a chance. October is when you can run up the score. The scoring system changes in the Postseason: two points for predicting the Wild Card, four for the Divisional Series, eight for the Championship Series, and 16 for the World Series and the Champion. A perfect Postseason is 120 points. 

American League Wild Card

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
RaysYankeesJaysRaysWhite SoxTwinsRed Sox
TwinsSouthsidersRaysTwinklesBlue JaysRaysYankees

National League Wild Card

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
MetsGnatsPadresMarlinsDodgersPadresDodgers
PadresThe over hyped LA teamMetsPadresMetsBrewersCardinals

American League Divisional Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankeesRed Sox
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRaysRays
YankeesTwinkiesAsA’sYankeesA’sAstros
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite SoxWhite Sox

Nationals League Divisional Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
DodgersBravosDodgersDodgersBravosDodgersDodgers
PadresGnatsCincyPadresDodgersPadresGiants
BravesCincy…..why not?PadresBravesCardinalsBravesBraves
CardinalsYou want a hot apple pie with that?CardsMiller TimePadresCardinalsBrewers

American League Championship Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesYankeesYankeesAstros
RaysTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxWhite SoxWhite SoxRed Sox

National League Championship Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
BravesBravosDodgersBravesCardinalsBravesBraves
PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadresDodgers

World Series

DerekJesseJohnKevinBernieThe Winning RunActual
Black SoxBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBravesBraves
BravesTwinkiesDodgersBravesYankeesYankeesAstros
BravesBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBravesBraves

The Wild Card round is the most unpredictable part of the Postseason. Jesse was the only one to have a team in the American League Wild Card game, the Yankees. He got another two points for the Dodgers in the National League Wild Card game, as did Bernie. The rest of us were shutout, but that soon changed. Derek, Jesse, Kevin, and The Winning Run grabbed eight points from the Rays and White Sox in the American League Divisional Series. John and Bernie also had the White Sox, but missed Tampa Bay. Derek, Bernie, and The Winning Run saw the future of the Braves and Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series. Jesse had the Braves and John had the Dodgers. Once again Kevin was the top of the class by predicting the Braves, Dodgers, AND Brewers. 

No one needs to talk about the American League Championship Series. We missed it, not a single correct prediction. We had Yankees vs White Sox, except Jesse with Oakland vs Minnesota. A rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series got us back on track. John had the Dodgers returning to defend their National League crown, while the rest of us saw the Braves returning for another chance at the Pennant. We also saw the Padres there too. We are not great at reading the National League’s future. Finally, the Fall Classic. Derek, Jesse, Kevin, and The Winning Run had the Braves reaching the World Series. John and Bernie saw the Yankees playing the Dodgers or Cardinals. Derek, Jesse, and The Winning Run had Atlanta winning the World Series. Maybe our fandom got in the way, regardless we predicted the World Series champion. 

The Atlanta Braves made out predictions and dreams come true by winning the World Series. (Johnny Angelillo/UPI/REX/Shutterstock)

Tracking our predictions round by round:

Regular Season 

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. The Winning Run- 7
  3. Derek- 6
  4. Bernie- 5
  5. Jesse- 5
  6. John- 4

Wild Card

  1. Kevin- 11
  2. Jesse- 9
  3. Bernie- 7
  4. The Winning Run- 7
  5. Derek- 6
  6. John- 4

Division Series

  1. Kevin- 31
  2. The Winning Run- 23
  3. Derek- 22
  4. Jesse- 21
  5. Bernie- 19
  6. John- 12

Championship Series

  1. Kevin- 39
  2. The Winning Run- 31
  3. Derek- 30
  4. Jesse- 29
  5. Bernie- 27
  6. John- 20

World Series 

  1. The Winning Run- 63
  2. Derek- 62
  3. Jesse- 61
  4. Kevin- 55
  5. Bernie- 27
  6. John- 20

After not making predictions in 2020 due to the uncertainty of the season, we returned for another season of our collective baseball predicting powers being superior to our individual abilities. The Winning Run wins for the second consecutive season. We are terrible at predicting baseball’s future, but it is always fun to try. See you in the Spring. 

DJ, JJ, JB, KB, and BL

Game 20- Chicago White Sox

Game 20 was a short drive down the shore of Lake Michigan. The White Sox faced off against the Royals. Guaranteed Rate Field is a terrific place to watch a ball game, vastly underrated. The South Side of Chicago is our final stop before the 30 in 30 road trip makes it trip west for the final 10 games of the road trip. We are heading west from Chicago. We have driven 9,200 miles. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.

Sorry for the delay in posting videos, I had computer issues which prevented me from posting. All of the issues should be resolved now.

DJ

Game 9- Kansas City Royals

Game 9 meant another 12 hours of driving. Kansas City was celebrating Alex Gordon Day. We were rewarded with a great comeback by the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. We have driven 4,872 miles so far. A quick sleep before a day game in Minnesota awaited us. 30 Games in 30 Days continues.

DJ

The 30 in 30 Schedule

The baseball schedule is a grind. Day after day, game after game. 162 games is no easy feat. Neither is 30 games in 30 days. We have our schedule for seeing all 30 teams in 30 days. It is not for the faint of heart. 

After much time and research, here is the schedule we will follow for our 30 in 30 baseball road trip. 

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
July 16July 17
St. Louis
Cardinals
Cincinnati
Reds
July 18July 19July 20July 21July 22July 23July 24
Philadelphia PhilliesWashington NationalsAtlanta
Braves
Tampa Bay RaysMiami
Marlins
Houston
Astros
Kansas City Royals
July 25July 26July 27July 28July 29July 30July 31
Minnesota
Twins
Chicago
Cubs
Cleveland SpidersBaltimore OriolesBoston
Red Sox
Buffalo
Blue Jays
Pittsburgh
Pirates
August 1August 2August 3August 4August 5August 6August 7
New York
Mets
New York YankeesDetroit
Tigers
Milwaukee BrewersChicago White SoxColorado
Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
August 8August 9August 10August 11August 12August 13August 14
Oakland AthleticsSan Diego
Padres
Los Angeles AngelsSeattle
Mariners
San Francisco GiantsArizona DiamondbacksTexas
Rangers

In 30 days we will drive 15,611 miles and roughly 237 hours. We have 11 drives over 500 miles. This includes three drives over 500 miles, three over 700 miles, and five over 1,000 miles. We will be driving a rental car, no sense destroying our own cars. There will be long days where we do not want to drive. However, it will be worth it in the end. 

This is one of the truly great baseball road trips. The most common reaction from people has been shock at the enormity of the trip and the amount of driving. Kevin and I both understand and are thankful Bernie will be joining us later in the trip to be our third driver. Hopefully knowing the end is in sight energizes us. 

There are two types of challenging drives. Difficulty because of game start time and distance. The two drives that are difficult because of start times are early in the journey. Our third game is the Phillies with a 1:05 PM start time. It is 576 miles and almost 9 hours from Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The easy solution would be to drive some after the Reds game. However, I live in Cincinnati so it makes more sense to sleep in my own bed before leaving. This means we will hit the road around 3 AM. Rise and drive. The second challenging start time is in Tampa. We will be coming from Atlanta, 493 miles and almost 8 hours away. The Rays game starts at 12:10 PM. Again the easy solution is to start driving the night before, but finances play a role. I am from Atlanta so we will stay with my family, plus hang out with Jesse and John. You cannot pass up free lodging. Kevin and I will have another 3 AM departure. Great for beating traffic, but no one wants to wake up that early. 

We are hoping for nothing but blue skies, green grass, and baseball. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The second category of difficult drives is the distance between teams. Try as we might, some teams are isolated or at dead ends. The Marlins and Rays present a problem. The Braves are the only close team so we knew there would be a long drive to or from Florida. We will have a mostly free day in Miami, and free lodging thanks to our friend Jason, so we should be rested for the drive to Houston. The Astros are 1,186 miles and 17 hours away. Unfortunately Miami has a night game, so another short night before setting off around 2 AM. The change from Eastern to Central Time helps, but a 17 hour drive is tough. Miami to Houston is our longest drive of the trip. 

The West Coast could make or break the trip. Our limited window and the schedule gave us limited options. The trip west begins after seeing the White Sox. We will drive 1,004 miles and 14 and a half hours to Denver. The time zones again help. After the Rockies game we have to keep moving, our next game is in Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium is 1,022 miles and almost 15 hours away. Back to back 1,000 mile days will be brutal, but our baseball guardian angel, Bernie, joins us at the perfect time. After a few days driving up and down California we face a drive from Anaheim to Seattle. The Mariners are 1,163 miles and 18 hours north. While it is a few miles shorter than Miami to Houston, California traffic can be a nightmare. The key is simply getting out of Los Angeles.  The final long drive is to our final game. We head 1,047 miles and 15 hours east from Phoenix to Arlington for the Rangers game. The time zones will work against us. The final leg will either have us completely spent or we will be hyped as we complete the most ridiculous trip of our lives. The only thing that will matter is watching our 30th game in 30 days. 

There will be plenty of difficult drives along the way, but we know these are the ones that will test our commitment to completing 30 in 30. Having an off day in Miami and New York should reenergize us. The short drives between Milwaukee and Chicago as well as San Diego and Los Angeles will give one of us a day off. This is our schedule to see 30 games in 30 days. Hopefully we hit minimal traffic and avoid rain delays and rain outs. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Kansas

Fly over states may not have the large cities that attract Major League teams, but they play plenty of baseball. Kansas does not lack for baseball talent with 218 MLB players born in the Sunflower State. The best Kansas born pitcher is one of the greatest of all time. Walter Johnson has the most career WAR, 164.54, for a pitcher born in Kansas. He has the second highest WAR for any state and territory pitching leader. Johnny Damon is the greatest position player born in the Sunflower State. His 56.33 career WAR ranks 35th among state and territory leaders. Johnson and Damon give Kansas 220.87 WAR, 8th highest among all states and territories. 

Walter Johnson is on the Mount Rushmore of Major League pitchers. Few pitchers can compare to the Humboldt native. The Right Hander pitched 21 seasons for the Washington Senators. In 802 career Games, Johnson made 666 Starts, threw 531 Complete Games, including 110 Shutouts, pitched 5,914.1 Innings, allowed 4,913 Hits, 1,902 Runs, 1,424 Earned Runs, 97 Home Runs, 1,363 Walks, 3,509 Strikeouts, posted a 417-279 record, 2.17 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, and 147 ERA+. On July 1, 1920 against the Red Sox Johnson threw his only career No Hitter. Four years later, he helped propel the Senators to their only World Series victory. The Big Train holds the record for most career 1-0 Wins (38) and Losses (26). He is likely the permanent all time leader in Shutouts.

Walter Johnson is possibly the greatest pitcher in baseball history. (Baseball In Color)

Johnson dominated. He had 10 consecutive 20 Win seasons. He led the American League in Strikeouts 12 times, Shutouts seven times, Wins, Complete Games, WHIP, and ERA+ six times, and Innings Pitched five times. The Big Train struck out 300 batters twice and 200 batters seven times. He posted a WHIP below 1.000 nine times. His ERA+ was over 200 four times and 150 eight times. Johnson’s domination included an ERA under 2.00 11 times and winning five ERA Titles. He won the Pitching Triple Crown three times (1913, 1918, 1924) and the American League MVP twice (1913 and 1924). In 1936 Johnson was elected to the Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class. 

Johnson’s best season was 1913. He pitched in 48 Games, made 36 Starts, threw 29 Complete Games, including 11 Shutouts, pitched 346 Innings, allowed 232 Hits, 56 Runs, 44 Earned Runs, 9 Home Runs, 38 Walks, 243 Strikeouts, posted a 36-7 record, 1.14 ERA, 0.780 WHIP, and 259 ERA+. Johnson won the MVP award while leading the league in Wins, Winning %, Complete Games, Shutouts, Innings Pitched, Home Runs, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. Total control on the mound as the Senators won 90 games to finish second for the pennant. 

“We’re idiots.” Boston’s Johnny Damon as the Red Sox marched to their 2004 World Series title. The Fort Riley native was a veteran leader that helped return Boston to baseball glory. The sometimes caveman looking Centerfielder played 18 seasons for seven teams: Kansas City Royals (1995-2000), Oakland Athletics (2001), Boston Red Sox (2002-2005), New York Yankees (2006-2009), Detroit Tigers (2010), Tampa Bay Rays (2011), and Cleveland Indians (2012). In 2,490 career Games, Damon collected 2,769 Hits, 522 Doubles, 109 Triples, 235 Home Runs, 1,139 RBI, scored 1,668 Runs, 408 Stolen Bases, 1,003 Walks, 1,257 Strikeouts, .284 BA, .352 OBP, .433 SLG, .785 OPS, and 104 OPS+. He scored at least 100 Runs 10 times. He was twice an All Star (2002 and 2005) and World Series champion (2004 and 2009). Damon appeared on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 1.8% of votes. He is best remembered for his departure in Oakland helping to usher in the Moneyball era and ending the Curse of the Bambino

Johnny Damon is best remembered for helping break the Curse of the Bambino. (The Eagle Tribune)

Damon’s best season was in 2000 for the Royals. He played in 159 Games, collected 214 Hits, 42 Doubles, 10 Triples, 16 Home Runs, 88 RBI, scored 136 Runs, 46 Stolen Bases, 65 Walks, 60 Strikeouts, .327 BA, .382 OBP, .495 SLG, .877 OPS, and 118 OPS+. He led the Junior Circuit in Runs scored and Stolen Bases. Damon set career highs in Plate Appearances, At Bats, Runs scored, Hits, Doubles, Stolen Bases, BA, OBP, SLG, and Total Bases. He was the July Player of the Month as he posted a 6.2 WAR season. Damon finished 19th in MVP voting. The Royals tried to resign him, but the constant losing took its toll. Kansas City traded him to Oakland instead of losing him in Free Agency. 

Kansas has sent two players to Cooperstown, Walter Johnson and Joe Tinker. Damon was a good player, but not quite Hall of Fame worthy. Kansas continues to wait for a third member in Cooperstown. Next week the United States of Baseball heads to the land of horse racing and basketball. The Bluegrass State is next, Kentucky. 

DJ

Hiding Out In Montreal

The legend goes the Brooklyn Dodgers knew Roberto Clemente was a special player. The plan was to hide him in Montreal and play him sparingly so other teams would not see the talents of the prized Brooklyn prospect. Sending him to a French speaking Canadian city as the fourth outfielder should have kept Clemente with the Dodgers until there was room in the Brooklyn outfield. The Dodgers already had Duke Snider in Center, Carl Furillo in Right, and Sandy Amoros in Left, with Jackie Robinson as their fourth outfielder. There was no room in the Ebbets Field outfield for Clemente. 

1954 would be Roberto Clemente’s only season in the Minors. He reached the Majors in 1955 and played his way to Cooperstown. The 19 year old Puerto Rican was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at the urging of Al Campanis. Clemente’s $10,000 signing bonus was over the $5,000 bonus limit. At the time, if such a player was not on the Major League roster for the next two seasons, another team could draft them in the Rule 5 Draft. Each Minor League team could only lose one player. The Dodgers hoped by playing Clemente sparingly other teams would not draft him. However, Pittsburgh was interested so Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley sought to persuade former Dodgers General Manager, then Pirates General Manager, Branch Rickey to select a different player from the Montreal Royals. The Pirates had the first selection in the draft. The Dodgers had known sending Clemente to the Triple A Montreal Royals was risky all along. 

Roberto Clemente spent a single season in Montreal, playing for the Royals as the Dodgers unsuccessfully attempted to hide him from other teams. (www.ourgame.mlblogs.com)

The International League was one of the top Minor Leagues. The eight team league sent four teams to the postseason each year. Montreal played their way to a 88-66 record. The Royals finished second, nine games behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. First year Triple A manager Max Macon guided the Dodgers top farm team through the postseason. The top seed faced the fourth seed, while the second faced the third in the first round. The Royals eliminated the Rochester Red Wings, while the Syracuse Chiefs shocked the Toronto Maple Leafs in Semi Finals, both winning four games to two. In the Championship Round, the Chiefs edged the Royals four games to three.

Montreal’s outfield during its run to the Championship Round consisting of Jack Cassini, Gino Cimoli, and Dick Whitman. Roberto Clemente was the fourth outfielder. He appeared in 87 Games, with 155 Plate Appearances, 148 At Bats, collecting 38 Hits, 5 Doubles, 3 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 12 RBI, scoring 27 Runs, 1 Stolen Base, 6 Walks, 17 Strikeouts, .257 BA, .286 OBP, .372 SLG, and .657 OPS. Defensively he played 77 Games, had 83 Chances, made 81 Putouts, 1 Assist, 1 Error, with a .988 FLD%, and 1.06 RF/G. Even in part time play, Clemente’s talents were evident.

After the 1954 season, the Dodgers worst nightmare came true. The Pirates drafted Clemente. Pittsburgh had to keep him on their Major League roster for the first 90 days of the 1955 season. If the Pirates sent Clemente to the Minors they would have to offer him back to the Dodgers first. Clemente stayed more than 90 days in Pittsburgh. The Pirates never regretted their choice with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft, while the Dodgers were left without the future Hall of Famer in Dodger Blue. 

Retire #21.

DJ

United States of Baseball- Idaho

There is more to Idaho than potatoes. The Gem State is full of unspoiled beauty that everyone who enjoys the outdoors should experience. Idaho has also produced 30 Major League players. The greatest pitcher born in the Gem State is Larry Jackson. His 52.56 career WAR ranks him 26th among state and territory pitching leaders. Harmon Killebrew is the greatest position player born in Idaho. His 60.42 career WAR ranks him 33rd among position players. Killebrew is the only Idahoan in the Hall of Fame. Jackson and Killebrew combined to give Idaho 112.98 WAR, 34th most among all states and territories.

Larry Jackson was born in Nampa. The Right Hander pitched 14 seasons in the Majors for three teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1955-1962), Chicago Cubs (1963-1966), and Philadelphia Phillies (1966-1968). In 558 career Games, Jackson made 429 Starts, threw 149 Complete Games, including 37 Shutouts, pitching 3,262.2 Innings, allowing 3,206 Hits, 1,405 Runs, 1,233 Earned Runs, 259 Home Runs, 824 Walks, 1,709 Strikeouts, posting a 194-183 record, 3.40 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Jackson was a five time All Star and the first from Idaho. 

Jackson’s best season was in 1964 with the Chicago Cubs. In 40 Games, he made 38 Starts, throwing 19 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitching 297.2 Innings, allowing 265 Hits, 114 Runs, 104 Earned Runs, 17 Home Runs, 58 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posting a 24-11 record, 3.14 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins. Jackson finished 12th in the MVP voting. He also finished 2nd for the Cy Young award, then given to a single pitcher, not one per league. 

Larry Jackson was just short of elite during his career before turning to politics in retirement. (Belleville News-Democrat)

In Philadelphia, Jackson is most remembered for being part of the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. Later, the Montreal Expos selected Jackson in their expansion draft. He knew he was close to the end of his career, Jackson wanted to play for a west coast team closer to home. Instead of reporting to Montreal, he retired and returned to Idaho. Jackson served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and as the Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party. He ran for Governor, finishing fourth in the Republican Primary despite campaigning by fellow Idaho players Harmon Killebrew and Vern Law.

Harmon Killebrew struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. The Payette native played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/ Minnesota Twins (1954-1974) and Kansas City Royals (1975). In his career, Killebrew played in 2,435 Games, collected 2,086 Hits, 290 Doubles, 24 Triples, 573 Home Runs, 1,584 RBI, scored 1,283 Runs, 19 Stolen Bases, 1,559 Walks, 1,699 Strikeouts, .256 BA, .376 OBP, .509 SLG, .884 OPS, and 143 OPS+. Killebrew was a great hitter who opted to forgo hitting for average and use his power to help his team.

The best season of Killebrew’s career was his 1969 MVP season with the Twins. In 162 Games, he collected 153 Hits, 20 Doubles, 2 Triples, 49 Home Runs, 140 RBI, scored 106 Runs, 8 Stolen Bases, 145 Walks, 20 Intentional Walks, 84 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .427 OBP, .584 SLG, 1.011 OPS, and 177 OPS+. He led the American League in Games played, Home Runs, RBI, Walks, OBP, and Intentional Walks. Killebrew season was a terror at the plate. His MVP came in the middle of Killebrew’s five year run where he finished in the top five for the MVP four times. 

Harmon Killebrew terrorized the American League with every swing. (Associated Press)

Killebrew was a 13 time All Star, finished in the top 10 for the MVP six times, won the 1969 American League MVP award, the 10th player to join the 500 Home Run Club, and the first Twins player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He was the first player elected as an All Star at three different positions (Third Base, First Base, and Left Field). Killebrew posted eight 40 Home Runs seasons, second only to Babe Ruth’s 11. Killer had nine 100 RBI seasons and seven 100 walk seasons, leading the Junior Circuit four times in free passes. When he retired Killebrew had the fifth most Home Runs. The legendary slugger became a beloved broadcaster for several teams in retirement. 

Idaho has given baseball several solid players and a Hall of Famer. The Gem State continues building its baseball legacy and hopes to send more players to Cooperstown. Next week the United States of Baseball heads east across the plains to the Land of Lincoln. Illinois is next.

DJ

Predictions Sure To Go Wrong 7.0

Baseball is back. The 162 game Regular Season grind is back. So too is the unpredictability of the season. No single player can dominate so completely that they carry their team to a World Series title. Baseball is different, the best player does not always come to bat with the game on the line. The Angels would love to send Mike Trout to the plate in every big moment, but that is not how baseball works. The game is back to normal and if we know anything our predictions will foretell what will not happen this season. Your guess is as good as ours for the 2021 season.

American League East

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
YankeesGod’s Waiting RoomYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysSpankiesDudein JaysRaysPoutineRays
Snow BirdsSorrysDevil RaysFlorida BirdsRaysBlue Jays
Red SoxBaltimoreSad BirdsRed SuxRacistsRed Sox
Dead BirdSoxFenwaysBmoreOh DearOrioles

The American League East is the Yankees to lose. Gerrit Cole makes any team better, but New York signed him to be the workhorse in October. If the training staff can keep the pinstripes healthy the rest of the division is in trouble. The Tampa Bay Rays seemed to get worse by trading away Blake Snell. However, it is hard to count the Rays out as they seem to find underrated players who exceed expectations and put Tampa in the thick of the Postseason race. The biggest question for Tampa is will they have a World Series hangover. The Toronto Blue Jays could be snow birds for the entire season. There has been no official word on when the team can return to Canada. They will play their home games in Dunedin, Florida for the foreseeable future. Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will provide plenty of excitement wherever they play. The Red Sox traded away Andrew Benintendi and lost Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Brewers in free agency to complete the teardown of one of the most exciting outfields in recent memory. Boston fans are still excited about the financial flexibility the Mookie Betts trade gave them. Baltimore is a great baseball town. The Orioles are in the middle of a painful rebuild. They will not contend this season, but Baltimore is on the rise…finally.

American League Central

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
Black SoxTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox
TwinkiesSouth SidersTwinkletittesTwinklesWhite SoxTwins
MonarchsTeam to be named laterQuarter PoundersClevelandRoyalsRoyals
SpidersTigersCleveland Footbal teamRoyalsSpidersSpiders
Motor City KittiesMonarchsDetroit Why Am I HeresTigersTigersTigers

The South Side of Chicago will have plenty of fireworks. The reigning American League MVP in Jose Abreu. The always exciting Tim Anderson. A pitching staff that can compete with any team in baseball. Can Tony La Russa harness Chicago’s potential or will a clash between old school and new school derail the White Sox. The Minnesota Twins continue to be a great Regular Season team. Their signing of Andrelton Simmons might be the most underrated free agent move of the offseason. Can they figure out a winning formula in October? Kansas City has quietly built a solid team on a budget. Signing and trading for Mike Minor, Andrew Benintendi, and Carlos Santana with Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez already on the roster will create plenty of wins for the Royals. Is it enough to compete with the White Sox and Twins for the division? Cleveland could be a very good team, but in a tough division good is not good enough. They still have Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber, but the team needs more if they want to contend. The Detroit Tigers continue rebuilding. Miguel Cabrera’s continued ascent up the record books will draw fans. Wins will be difficult to come by, but the Tigers have a bright future ahead, but Detroit should not expect a trip to the Postseason in 2021.

Tim Anderson is never boring on the diamond. (www.si.com)

American League West

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MoneyballWhite ElephantsLA’s other teamA’sBeane BallersAthletics
TroutHouston Astr-hosMoneyballTrash CansAngelsAngels
Trash CansAngelsCheatersAngelsCheatersAstros
Ranger DangerNolan Ryan Hot DogsSea hagsStarbucksMarinersMariners
MarinersGriffey Used to Play HereAgent ZerosChuck NorrisRangersRangers

Could this be the year the Astros lose their grip on the division? George Springer is gone and Justin Verlander is out with Tommy John surgery. Houston is still a competitive team, but the division is catching up. Bang the trash can slowly. Oakland has a dynamic duo in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The young and hungry A’s are built to compete and the team is posed to deliver. Mike Trout deserves better. The best player in baseball for almost a decade has been stuck in Los Angeles as the Angels keep turning potential into disappointment. Shohei Ohtani is healthy and Albert Pujols can still hit. The Angels owe it to Mike Trout to finally deliver him to the Postseason, but he cannot do it alone. This was not the offseason Seattle wanted. The ire of an entire sport focused on the stupidity spewed by their now former President and CEO about the team’s young talent has not set the team up for success. The Mariners have not played in October since 2001. Seattle has drafted and signed prospects that appear set to be the future stars for the Mariners. The Robinson Cano signing told Seattle it cannot rely on a single player with a monster contract. Lesson learned, they are a few seasons away from winning. It will be a long hot summer in Texas. The Rangers have some good pieces, but not enough to matter. At least their new stadium has a roof so the players and fans do not cook in the Texas heat. 

National League East

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BravesBravosAtlanta BallclubBravesBravosBravos
MetsGnatsCohensMarlinsMetsMets
NatsFishFlorida FishMetsMarlinsMarlins
MarlinsAmazins2019 ChampsNatsNationalsNats
PhanaticsPholliesSad HarpersPhilliesPhilliesPhillies

The National League East is the toughest division in baseball. Atlanta was 1 game away from the World Series last year. Instead of hoping for better results the Braves got better by signing Charlie Morton and will get Mike Soroka back from his torn Achilles. Their offense is led by reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman and future MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. The Amazin’s are a force to reckon with, especially after adding Francisco Lindor, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. The question is can the Mets win enough. The Marlins have finally built a team internally. Miami bought two World Series championships but those were short term successes followed by fire sales and long rebuilds. The young Marlins will be fun to watch and are building towards October. The Nationals may have the best rotation in baseball. The keys for Washington are keeping everyone healthy and can the offense, besides Juan Soto, keep up with the pitching. Philadelphia has Bryce Harper, but one player cannot put an entire team on his back. The Phillies will be good, but in a deep division they could be the best last place team in baseball. 

National League Central

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Red BirdsCincy…..why not?ArenadosMiller TimeCardinalsCardinals
Red LegsCardsDrink pretty goodCardinalsBrewersBrewers
Brew CrewBrewcroodsShitcagoRedsCubsReds
Teddy BearsBuccarooniesCincincincin…..CubbiesRedsCubs
Burn the ShipsNorthsidersNice stadiumsBonds’ ex-gfJack SparrowsPirates

Yadier Molina is an ageless wonder. 17 seasons behind the plate for the Cardinals and he is still among the best catchers in baseball. St. Louis is set at the corners with Paul Goldschmidt and the nearly acquired Nolan Arenado. The Central crown runs through St. Louis. Milwaukee got better by signing Kolten Wong away from their divisional rival Cardinals. The Brewers are one of the more underrated teams in baseball and have a real chance at the Postseason in an already tight division. Cincinnati made it back to the Postseason in the shortened 2020 season. The Reds have the pitching and offense to return this season. The division may be too difficult to win, but the Wild Card is within reach. This could be the final season of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez at Wrigley. Looming free agency makes it nearly impossible for Chicago to retain all three players long term. The Cubs will be good, but change is coming. The Pirates are barely a Major League team. It was a little surprising MLB did not cull them with the other Minor League teams this winter. They have a projected team payroll of $46 million, with nearly a quarter of it tied to Gregory Polanco. Ke’Bryan Hayes provides hope for the future but the Postseason is out of the question.

Traded to St. Louis with $50 million, Nolan Arenado will finally play for a winning team. (Getty Images)

National League West

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DodgersYou want a hot apple pie with that?BettsDodgersPadresDodgers
DaddyThe over hyped LA teamPadresPadresScullysPadres
SnakesSILVER BULLET!!!!!!!!GentsGiantsRattlersGiants
Jolly GreensScam Fram BricsoQuarterbacksDbacksGiantsDiamonbacks
Rockie Mt HighI’m a snakeIt Smoke Pretty GoodRockiesRock BottomsRockies

The reigning and defending World Series champions will return to October, but can they fend off the Padres. The championship team is back and will continue racking up wins. Clayton Kershaw is no longer the only pitcher Los Angeles can depend on in the Postseason, the Dodgers should make a deep run to defend their crown. San Diego is built for success now and in the future. Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Chris Paddack are tough to beat every time they take the field. The race for the West will be fun to watch. The gap between the top and bottom of the division is huge. Few teams were as high as the Giants a decade ago, but that is the past now. The rebuild continues in the back end of Buster Posey’s career. How long will he continue playing is unknown, but he is already a San Francisco legend. Arizona is not a bad team, but can they compete with the titans on the coast? The Diamondbacks have plenty of good players, including an underrated Ketel Marte, but they lack a superstar to compete in October. The Rockies managed to enrage their entire fanbase with a single move, trading away Nolan Arenado. Every team makes tough roster decisions, but Colorado decided it was best to rid themselves of the best Third Baseman in baseball and keep a General Manager that has not shown any ability to put a winning team on the field. Yes Trevor Story is still on the team, but his impending free agency will see him shipped out before the season is over. Once Story is gone what is left to build around? Get ready for a long and brutal rebuild Colorado fans.  

Postseason

The Poseseason is a roll of the dice. A team can come in hot and suddenly turn cold and be gone. A team struggling can suddenly find their footing and go on a tear. The beauty of October baseball is that it is more unpredictable than the Regular Season.

American League Wild Card

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AL Wild CardRaysYankeesJaysRaysWhite SoxTwins
TwinsSouthsidersRaysTwinklesBlue JaysRays

National League Wild Card

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MetsGnatsPadresMarlinsDodgersPadres
PadresThe over hyped LA teamMetsPadresMetsBrewers

American League Divisional Series 

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RaysWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesAthleticsYankees
Black SoxSouthsidersSoxRaysWhite SoxRays
YankeesTwinkiesAsA’sYankeesA’s
MoneyballGod’s Waiting RoomJaysChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox

National League Divisional Series

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DodgersBravosDodgersDodgersBravosDodgers
PadresGnatsCincyPadresDodgersPadres
BravesCincy…..why not?PadresBravesCardinalsBraves
CardinalsYou want a hot apple pie with that?CardsMiller TimePadresCardinals

American League Championship Series

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Black SoxWhite ElephantsYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxWhite SoxWhite Sox

National League Championship Series

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BravesBravosDodgersBravesCardinalsBraves
PadresYou want a hot apple pie with that?PadresPadresBravesPadres

World Series

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Black SoxBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBraves
BravesTwinkiesDodgersBravesYankeesYankees
BravesBravosYankeesYankeesCardinalsBraves

Congratulations to the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves. We will find out just how wrong our predictions were in October. None of us have high hopes that we were right. Happy Opening Day!

Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies will lead the Braves to the World Series. (New York Times)

DJ, JJ, JB, BL, and KB

United States of Baseball- American Samoa

American Samoa is 2,500 miles west of Hawaii. It has an area slightly larger than Washington DC and half the population of Billings, Montana. Despite its small size, American Samoa has sent one player to the Major Leagues, Tony Solaita.

Tony Solaita was born in Nuuuli. He played seven seasons for five different teams: New York Yankees (1968), Kansas City Royals (1974-1976), California Angels (1976-1978), Montreal Expos (1979), and Toronto Blue Jays (1979). His career 8.00 WAR is the third lowest for a position player among state or territory leaders and American Samoa has the second lowest combined WAR.

1977 was Solaita’s best season and the only season he played at least 100 games. Playing at First for the Angels, Solaita played 116 Games, collected 78 Hits, 15 Doubles, 14 Home Runs, 53 RBI, scored 40 Runs, with 1 Stolen Base, 56 Walks, 77 Strikeouts, .241 BA, .349 OBP, .417 SLG, .766 OPS, and 112 OPS+. He posted career highs in Games, Plate Appearances, At Bats, Runs scored, Hits, Doubles, RBI, Stolen Bases, Walks, and Sacrifices. 

Tony Solaita during his only game with the Yankees, it would be 6 more seasons before he returned to the Majors. (Samoan Biographies)

Solaita’s MLB career ended after another season with the Angels and 1979 spent bouncing around Canada. He played 525 Games, collecting 336 Hits, 66 Doubles, 1 Triple, 50 Home Runs, 203 RBI, scored 164 Runs, Stole 2 Bases, with 214 Walks, 345 Strikeouts, .255 BA, .357 OBP, .421 SLG, .778 OPS, and 120 OPS+. He played First Base and served as the DH. Solaita was an average First Baseman. In 2,126.1 Innings, he had 2,344 Chances, made 2,128 Putouts, 199 Assists, committed 17 Errors, turned 166 Double Plays, for a .993 Fld%.

In 1980, Solaita moved across the Pacific, playing four seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League. He appeared in at least 125 Games each season. He blasted 155 Home Runs (45, 44, 30, and 36), more than tripled his Major League total.

Tony Solaita’s baseball legacy continues as other players of American Samoa descent have reached the Major Leagues, but he remains the only player born on the islands. 

The United States of Baseball leaves the tropics of American Samoa for the desert. Arizona is next.

DJ  

Bo Knows

The debate about who is the greatest athlete of all time never ends. Jim Thorpe, Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, and on and on and on. One name that always comes up in the debate is Bo Jackson. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner was a two time All American for the Auburn University football team, while posting a career .338 BA with the baseball team. An elite Athlete in multiple sports is once in a generation, Bo Jackson was even more rare. 

Bo Jackson was selected three times in the MLB Draft. The New York Yankees selected him in the 2nd round  of the 1982 Draft out of high school. The California Angels selected him in the 20th round of the 1985 Draft, months before his Heisman season. The Kansas City Royals selected Jackson in the 4th round of the 1986 Draft as he refused to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they selected him first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay lied to Jackson about clearing a team visit with the NCAA in part to end his college baseball eligibility. Jackson never played for the Buccaneers, instead playing for the Los Angeles Raiders who selected him in the 7th round of the 1987 NFL Draft. Football was Bo Jackson’s hobby. His Raiders contract allowed him to play the entire baseball season before shifting to football, even though he would miss several Raiders games. 

The Royals sent Jackson to AA to start his professional baseball career. After just 53 games for the Memphis Chicks he was called up to Kansas City. He debuted on September 2, 1986, batting 6th, and playing Right Field against the White Sox. Chicago’s starter that night was future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. Jackson went 1 for 3, with an infield single in his first at bat. The legend had arrived. 

In 8 Major League seasons Bo Jackson played 694 Games; playing at least 100 games four times, 1987 to 1990. He collected 598 Hits, 86 Doubles, 13 Triples, and 141 Home Runs, 415 RBI, scored 341 Runs, Stole 82 Bases, 200 Walks, with 841 Strikeouts. He hit .250, with a .309 OBP, .474 SLG, .784 OPS, and 112 OPS+. 

The 1989 season was a glimpse of Jackson’s potential. In 135 Games, he collected 132 Hits, 15 Doubles, 6 Triples, and 32 Home Runs. He scored 86 Runs, Stole 26 Bases, with 105 RBI. Jackson was named an All Star where he batted first. He wasted no time announcing himself by launching Rick Reuschel’s second pitch of the game out of Anaheim Stadium. He reached on a Fielder’s Choice in his second at bat against John Smoltz, driving in Ruben Sierra, before stealing second. In his third at bat, he singled off Tim Burke. Jackson won the All Star Game MVP and would finish season 10th in the 1989 American League MVP voting

The future was bright for Jackson and Kansas City until January 13, 1991. The Raiders hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Round Playoffs. Running down the sidelines, Bengals Linebacker Kevin Walker tackled Jackson. On an otherwise normal play, Bo Jackson dislocated his left hip. His football career was over and once the severity of the injury became apparent the Royals released him in Spring Training. Jackson’s baseball future was in doubt even after the White Sox signed him a few weeks later. 

Jackson’s hip injury limited him to 23 games as a September call up. After the season, the injured hip was replaced. He missed the entire 1992 season, but Jackson and his power returned in 1993. He played 85 games in 1993, slugging 16 Home Runs, but his blazing speed was gone. Natural talent always reveals itself, even if the person is no longer at full strength. Jackson signed a free agent contract with the California Angels for the 1994 season. He played 75 games with the Angels, hitting 13 Home Runs with a .279 BA. The Player’s Strike ended the season and Jackson’s career. 

Bo Jackson remains one of the greatest athletes of all time despite his athletic career begin cut short by a hip injury. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Bo Jackson had the talent to be a Hall of Fame baseball and football player. Competing simultaneously at the highest level of two demanding sports is nearly impossible, yet Bo Jackson did it. His brief careers showed the world his talents and solidified his place in the greatest athlete of all time debate. It is easy to focus on his careers being cut short by injury, but life is not perfect. Instead we should focus on what he accomplished. Towering Home Runs, blazing speed on the base paths and down the sidelines. Bo knows, and so does everyone else, that there may never be another athlete like him. Over 25 years since he last competed and Bo Jackson is still the benchmark for athleticism, not of a day gone by but of today.

Happy 58th Birthday Bo Jackson. The G.O.A.T.

DJ