Monthly Archives: March 2013

Some picks for the 2013 season, just because.

I’m only doing this because I like having this kind of stuff on the record. (Keep in mind that the awards are picks and not predictions.)

AL Rookie of the Year:

  1. Jackie Bradley, Jr.
  2. Wil Myers
  3. Leonys Martin

NL Rookie of the Year:

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Oscar Taveras
  3. Adam Eaton

If I had to guess, I would say that the writers would vote for Myers over JBJ simply because I believe Tampa will make it to the playoffs and the Red Sox won’t. I also don’t think they’ll properly value what Bradley brings to the table defensively (see: Trout, Mike). I would have chosen Adam Eaton in the National League if it wasn’t for his injury. Teheran will have a full season, with great run support, an excellent outfield defense, and a full-season of Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop will probably save him a handful of runs – this will also give him a nice win total, which we know the BBWAA loves.

AL Cy Young:

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Yu Darvish
  3. David Price

NL Cy Young:

  1. Stephen Strasburg
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Adam Wainwright

I would have voted for Verlander in 2012, and I can’t envision any scenario in which he doesn’t get hurt and doesn’t finish in the top two. Darvish is just a hunch that he’s going to break out in a big way. In the NL, Strasburg and Kershaw might as well be 1 and 1A – I could see them going 1-2 for the foreseeable future. Wainwright is going to earn his new contract in a big way this season.

AL MVP:

  1. Jose Bautista
  2. Mike Trout
  3. Miguel Cabrera

NL MVP:

  1. Jason Heyward
  2. Bryce Harper
  3. Joey Votto

Honestly, I could put all six of those guys in any order and be confident in the pick. I’m willing to bet that Harper wins it over Heyward because he’ll bat third (while Heyward bats 2nd) and will have more RBI opportunities. As for the American League, it just feels too predictable to go for Trout or Cabrera, and I think the Toronto offense is gonna put up some huge numbers this season, and Jose Bautista will be the beneficiary.

AL East:

  1. Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Tampa Bay Rays*
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. Baltimore Orioles

AL Central:

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

AL West:

  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Texas Rangers*
  3. Anaheim Angels
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros

I can’t picture the Yankees finishing higher than 3rd place in the American League East – too much has to go perfectly right that the odds are heavily against them making the playoffs. I think it’s possible all five AL East teams finish over .500. And maybe I’m crazy, but I’m not as high on the Texas Rangers as many others – their rotation (other than Yu Darvish) is fairly unspectacular, and they lost quite a few arms in the bullpen. That’s all without mentioning that their outfield isn’t great (Nelson Cruz is trending in the wrong direction), and that they plan on having Lance Berkman bat 3rd. Despite all of that, I’m still picking them to win the second Wild Card spot, if only because I believe Anaheim’s pitching is that bad. It’s also entirely possible that Cleveland (not Kansas City) pulls a Baltimore and makes a run towards the Wild Card, and Kansas City’s poor record will lead to Dayton Moore and Ned Yost losing their jobs. I also don’t see Houston being nearly as bad as everyone thinks – they’ll be the worst team in baseball, but it won’t be historic.

NL East:

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves*
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
  4. New York Mets
  5. Miami Marlins

NL Central:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Cincinnati Reds*
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs

NL West:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies

The National League is absolutely stacked this year. It’s incredibly difficult to leave San Francisco out of the playoffs, and I had high hopes for Arizona until all of their injuries this spring. The Milwaukee Brewers were sneakily the senior circuit’s best offense last year, and I get the feeling they’ll only get better in 2013 – I could see them or Arizona making a run. The Phillies will probably end up trading Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay and they’ll still finish with a better record than the Mets and Marlins.

World Series:

St. Louis Cardinals over Tampa Bay Rays in seven games.

I’m not sure why more people aren’t as bullish on the St. Louis Cardinals as I am. Their lineup is loaded, they have a strong rotation with a bonafide ace, and their bullpen is filled with a nice mix of flamethrowers and junkballers who get hitters out in a myriad of ways. They also have the best farm system in baseball, and young guys like Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams, Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong and Joe Kelly are all going to make significant contributions. It’s also because of this system, and because of the versatility of guys like Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig, that, if any of their regulars are injured mid-season, the team won’t miss a beat. These are all the same reasons why I chose Tampa Bay in the American League. What puts St. Louis over the top will be their ability to absorb some salary – if the Indians fall out of contention, we’ll probably be seeing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop sometime this summer, and there’s an outside chance they could even pull off a blockbuster for Troy Tulowitzki (they’re the only team who can). Even without making a deal for a stud, the Cardinals’ organizational depth is what will separate them from the pack during this marathon of a season.

Happy baseball, folks.

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Some Exciting News

So, I’m pleased to say that I’ve joined up with some friends – and by “friends” I mean “people I only know through the Internet” – at their blog The Umpires. I’ll be providing some original content for them from time to time, I assume on sports. It’s a great young site and you should definitely check it out. You should also follow them on Twitter.

I’ll still be writing here as well, though – probably my same old usual lefty political garbage that the few of you who actually read this are used to.

My first piece for The Umpires went live last night. It’s titled “Baseball Colonialism: is globalization ultimately bad for those who play the game?“. In it, I wonder whether or not baseball’s exploitation of young, poor Caribbean athletes is good for the game, and for those who play it. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to leave any feedback either there, here, on Twitter, Facebook, or via messenger owl, if you must.

Thanks for your support.

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On Stockholm Syndrome, Rand Paul’s filibuster, and the night I accidentally entered the congressional record.

Stockholm Syndrome (n): the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.

I’ve recently begun watching The Americans on FX, which focuses on two KGB sleeper agents living in America during the tail-end of the Cold War era. One of the more fascinating aspects of the show is how it essentially forces you to root for your enemy. It’s not a novel concept, plenty of dramas feature characters towards whom we apply a sort of cognitive dissonance – one laudable aspect of their life makes it okay for us to sympathize with them, despite a life of relative wickedness (think Omar from The Wire, or Tony Soprano). The difference in The Americans, though, is that the Russians and the KGB were, quite literally, our biggest enemies. I never lived through the Cold War era, I but I imagine that, for those who did, watching The Americans would be akin to my watching a drama centered on an al-Qaeda cell in Yemen, and somehow rooting for the Yemeni terrorists.

I missed tonight’s episode of The Americans, though. I happened to be at work, but I usually DVR it and watch it once I get home. I missed it tonight because I found myself captivated by Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) nigh thirteen hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA directorship. Now, admittedly, when I’m at work I waste most of my night on Twitter, and following truly social events like this can make me horribly, horribly unproductive. Unfortunately, for me, I had no way of watching the filibuster while at work (my wi-fi connection was far too slow) and so I really had no way to comment on the action myself, but during my dinner break I decided to tweet out a few thoughts. Little did I know that, about three hours later, @bhavinforapples would suddenly enter the congressional record.

Apparently Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), being the brilliant Harvard graduate that he is, began reading Rand Paul-supportive tweets during the filibuster…and the rest became congressional history. For the record, the quoted tweet in question was this one:

Of course, what Senator Cruz forgot to mention was the tweet that directly preceded it:

Or even my two (non-RT or quote-tweet) tweets directly after it:

I really, truly dislike Senator Rand Paul, and even Senator Ted Cruz. I believe they’re the elected representation of a very loud, very dumb minority of Americans who have managed to take the American political process hostage since the 2010 midterm elections. These two senators, and the Tea Party movement they champion, are the single most important reason why American politics, today, are as divisive as they are – not just between left and right, but between right and right-er. Every major political battle, or political catastrophe – the sequester, the fiscal cliff, etc. – can, in some way, be linked to this fringe right-wing of the Republican party, through the fear of the less-batshit Republicans facing a primary from the right. We are all, in a sense, the captives of the Rand Pauls and Ted Cruzs and Jim DeMints (and, of course, the Koch brothers) of the world.

I disagree with these men on nearly 99% of all policy matters. Rand Paul once said that he disagrees with the Civil Rights Act of 1964; he told Rachel Maddow that he believed private business have the right to discriminate against customers based on race. It’s shit like that that makes me despise the neo-conservative movement. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and people like them, are – in every sense of the term – my political enemies.

I had written prior to November’s election that I had believed that Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to attack President Obama from the left on the topic of drones. Had he properly educated the American voters about President Obama’s drone policy, and taken a stance against it, it’s entirely possible Romney could have gained stronger support from the neo-conservatives, the libertarians, and certainly some liberals. It was a wedge issue that was ripe for exploitation, and he passed. And it was his effective endorsement of these drone strikes that had made President Obama’s policies the undisputed standard for American foreign policy. Until now.

When I came home from work and was finally able to watch Senator Paul’s filibuster, I couldn’t help but think that this is what our government should be like – that this is the debate we should have been having last fall. Rand Paul’s filibuster was passionate, politics-free, and it was 100% about policy – there were no gimmicks and no phonebooks anywhere near his podium. At its most Sorkian level, the floors of the Senate and the House of Representatives are supposed to be about ideas and debates, not about politics, and that’s what the American people were finally given tonight. Except in this twisted Sorkian dialogue I found myself rooting for the Republicans, the same Republicans whom I’ve grown to dislike passionately over the years.

Tonight, Rand Paul and I (and I’m sure millions others) found a little bit of common ground – and, no, we don’t agree entirely on drone policy, being that he never really addressed targeted strikes overseas – and for thirteen hours, I found myself sympathizing with, and truly supporting, someone who I believe has been implicit in the hostile takeover of the American political process. I truly believe that I, and every other American citizen, have been held captive by the political motives of the fringe right-wing, and for a long time one of the faces I applied to my captors was that of Senator Rand Paul. In a few weeks, probably even a few days, I’ll return to my general state of distaste for Rand Paul and his movement, but tonight? Tonight, I #StandWithRand.

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