Giants! Killers!

October 28, 2012

They are named the Giants, but they don’t carry the reputation of bullies.  Indeed, in this very space last week I called them David to the Tigers’ Goliath.  But in the 21st and perhaps most unlikely sweep in World Series history, the San Francisco Giants lived up to their franchise nickname and towered over favored Detroit.  With a team personality that exudes joi de vivre and the age of innocence (see Sergio Romo), they can hardly be considered cold-blooded assassins.  Yet, there is no doubt that they embody the traditionally lethal baseball combination of dominant pitching, excellent defense and timely (but only occasionally, power) hitting.  This trio of baseball weapons slayed the Tigers with remarkable ease.  No need to talk of destiny or Divine intervention in this Series.

From the record-tying 3 home-runs in Game 1 by Pablo Sandoval to the title-clinching single by Marco Scutaro (who else could it be?) in the top of the 10th in Game 4, the Giants were in total command of this Series.  With back-to-back shut-outs by a National League club for the first time since 1919 (and does that even count since it was against the Black Sox?), the Giants trailed after only 3 of 37 innings!  The Tigers got only 12 hits and scored only 3 runs over the last 3 games (only 6 runs in the entire Series).  The final out was a classic Goliath moment, with Triple Crown-winner (and likely MVP) Miguel Cabrera frozen at the plate by an apparently unexpected fastball that was called Strike 3.  Was that a baseball glove Sergio Romo was wearing, or a sling-shot?  The cameras turned immediately to the Giants’ second celebratory scrum on the pitcher’s mound in the past 3 years, but had they remained focused on home plate I’m sure we would have seen Cabrera topple over, cold and dead, just like Goliath.

I know I perennially finish near the bottom in our B.A.B.E.S.’ standings, but as I said last Wednesday, I know enough theology to always go with David over Goliath, even when David is dressed in a uniform that reads “GIANTS.”

The Giants’ victory resulted in no change in the B.A.B.E.S. standings.  It all comes down to the voting for AL MVP and Cy Young to decide whether Steve or Tim is the B.A.B.E.S. champion this year.  We’ll know in a few weeks and I will be back to say more about the 2012 season.

Manifest Destiny and the 2012 World Series

October 24, 2012

(Commissioner’s note to Society Members:  This is a long post simply because there is just so much to talk about from the NLCS, and of course, I love to talk.  I appreciate getting to express my views here and I hope you will read this post (and others) at your leisure, but I understand if you prefer to skip down to the current standings reported at the bottom of the post. FYI, it’s now a two-man race, just like in the World Series and presidential election.)

I wrote at length in my post last week about 3 teams of apparent destiny in this year’s MLB post-season; yet I did not mention the St Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants.  Clearly my focus on the A’s, O’s and Nats was a mistake, as none of those teams even made it to their league championship series.  I should have paid more attention to the past two MLB World Champions, each of which had earned a return trip to the post-season and had shown signs that one fulfilled destiny does not preclude the possibility of another, and might even indicate it.

However, I felt, and I am sure you feel, that I have pondered too much about the role of Divine intervention and pre-destination in the outcome of sporting events (although, as one B.A.B.E.S. member reminded me this week, the Texas Rangers are still “the team that can’t win”). But just when I was ready to leave behind this sports theology obsession along came one of the weirdest plays in MLB history that cemented one of the unlikeliest comebacks in a post-season series (or series of series), and which compels me to conclude, once again, that larger forces are at play in the outcome of MLB’s post-season.

The Cardinals were “the team that wouldn’t lose” in 2011 and appeared intent on retaining that mantle in 2012.  Despite being buried by CIN in the NL Central division, they held off LAD and MIL for the first ever second wild card position, and then defeated ATL in the first post-season play-in game (with the help of the deepest in-field fly in MLB history).  Most impressive of all, the Cardinals “refused to lose” even when down 6-0 to the Nats in an elimination game that included a 9th inning rally reminiscent of their performance in Game 6 in the 2011 World Series. The 6-run deficit was the largest ever overcome in a post-season elimination game. Therefore, these Birds, though not Angry, appeared determined and destined not to lose again.

At the same time, the Giants were also doing something that had never been done: dropping the first two games of a 5 game series at home and then winning 3 straight on the road at CIN.  Was SFO about to recapture its own magic of 2010 even without baseball’s thickest, blackest and, frankly, creepiest beard? (Am I the only one who thinks Brian Wilson is really Steve Carell with a ridiculous fake beard?  Google pictures of both characters and decide for yourself.)

So, which is it?  The sheer power of the players’ refusal to lose, or a Divine decree that pre-ordains the outcome? I pondered anew.  And then, suddenly, I was given a revelation that it could be – and really must be – both.  I came upon this while helping my daughter with her 11th grade American History assignment on westward expansion.  I was looking at the textbook and there was the proof, right there in black and white letters and color pictures.  The strength of our great nation was its overwhelming sense of entitlement to this land by Divine decree.

In the 19th century, thousands upon thousands of Americans and soon-to-be Americans left St. Louis (don’t you love the arch cut into the outfield at Busch Stadium?) heading west to claim the Pacific Ocean as our western border.  No geological mountain was too high and no hostile indigenous population or European nation was too fierce to stop the westward march of these United States.  As God had led the Pilgrims to the shores of the Atlantic, so He would lead our citizens to the shores of the Pacific.  It was Manifest Destiny, the ultimate collaboration between God and Man.  See what studying history while watching a baseball game can do for you?

Therefore, to me it was only fitting that the victorious St. Louis Cardinals would then travel from our Nation’s capital, not to their home in the Gateway City, but all the way to San Francisco’s Golden Gate for the NLCS.  There they would face the indomitable Giants – a sports franchise that succumbed to the allure of western expansion even 100 years after California was admitted as the 31st member of the United States. Although Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley rightfully gets credit for taking MLB to the West Coast in 1957 (and blame for destroying the hearts of Brooklyn fans), he could not have done it without the agreement of the NY Giants’ ownership to move their team west at the same time.

Interestingly, this NLCS would be the first time the winners of the two previous World Series had met in the post-season, and together these successive champions hold 17 World Series titles. In addition to this collective proud history and the shared momentum of stirring comebacks, it would also be a classic match-up of great pitching (SFO) against great hitting (STL).  We all know who usually wins those contests, but STL quickly jumped ahead 3 games to 1 and still looked like the team that wouldn’t lose.  But then the mantle was loosened, and the Series forced back to the City, by a stellar pitching performance from Barry Zito (of all people!).  Who could possibly have predicted (or caused) that except an omniscient, omnipotent being?

Before the baseball-bashing Cardinals knew it, they had scored only one run in 18 innings and found themselves in another Game 7. But not to worry, they had won 6 consecutive elimination games dating back to last post-season and had won 11 Game 7’s in franchise history – the most by any MLB team.  Sure, the Giants had won 5 consecutive elimination games this post-season, but in their franchise’s rich history there had NEVER been a Game 7 victory (5 losses in 5 tries).   Let’s see, 11 Game 7 victories for STL, zero for SFO.  Advantage STL, right?

Well, streaks are made to be broken, and inevitably all are.  But has ever one been broken with a broken bat?  Or by a broken bat double or triple-hit base-clearing double, or was it a triple?  (Has a sentence ever been written that used the words “double” and “triple” 4 times, and as both adjectives and nouns?)  And could such a weird play have come off the bat of anyone but Hunter Pence, whose ugly playing style and quirky personality actually resemble the flight of his hit – in the hole at short, no – up the middle, in front of the centerfielder, no – under his glove!  Does “Angels in the Outfield” come to mind? (And speaking of resemblances, also Google pictures of Hunter Pence and Woody Harrelson….)

In all probability, SFO was on its way to winning this game even without the presence of a baseball Holy Spirit.  As it had done in sweeping three games against CIN, SFO’s pitching continued to dominate the Cards, who scored the most runs during the season and had done the same in the post-season until scoring only ONE run in the last 27 innings of the NLCS.  Also, the Giants bats came alive, even those that didn’t shatter, and a classic unlikely post-season hero appeared in the form of Marco Scutaro.  (Do you think he pronounces his name with the accent on the first syllable to be associated with Phil Rizutto – the Scooter?)  Clearly these Giants were capable of helping themselves to the NL Pennant, but a little Divine intervention was welcome when it came.

So, there it is – the mystery of the ages has been revealed.  There is a God and He loves baseball.  He gifts certain players with abilities that appear so natural that we view them as gods.  He also creates David-like characters who prevail in the unlikeliest fashion against the tallest of odds.  Remember these truths Wednesday night when you are watching god-like Justin Verlander pitch to David-like Marco Scutaro, and think about Manifest Destiny.    Personally, I’m going with SFO’s Golden Gate David over DET’s back-East Goliath. But then I’ve already shown that I have no direct communication with the Great Commissioner.  Just look at the scoring below.

THE FINALISTS FOR THE JAMES L. WALKER AWARD (“THE ROCKY”)

35 points

Steve J. – CIN (3) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) Cabrera (10) DET (6) SFO (6)  correctly picking the two league champions is a brilliant performance, worthy of the name “expert.”  If DET wins the Series and Cabrera wins the  AL MVP, Steve will not only win The Rocky, he’ll set a new points record.

29 points –

Tim T. –   SFO (3) ATL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Cabrera (10) DET (6)  In order to best Steve, Tim must now must pull for SFO to win the Series even though he picked DET.  If a Cubs fan wins the B.A.B.E.S. title in his first try, what does that portend for the Cubbies in ’13?

POSSIBLE ALL-STAR TEAM SELECTIONS:

23 points

Matt B. – STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1) Cabrera (10) DET (6) Matt can do no better than 3rd due to matching picks with Steve and Tim (DET as WS champ and Verlander as AL Cy Young), but an impressive B.A.B.E.S. debut.

20 points

Marc W. – CIN (3) ATL (1) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) SFO (6) – could move up with Price as AL Cy Young.  A good showing by perennial B.A.B.E.S. contender.

19 points

Carl R. –   CIN (3) ATL (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) DET (6) – possible 32 points still on the  board with DET in WS, Cabrera as AL MVP and Verlander as AL Cy Young.  51 would be a B.A.B.E.S  points record  but would still fall to the better new record that would be established by Steve, who has 2 of the same 3 picks.

Bruce R. – SFO (3) STL (1) ATL (3) DET (3) TEX (3) SFO (6) – nice SFO pick but scoring is done for his inaugural season

Leo G. – SFO (3) STL (3) WAS (3) STL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – we won’t have our first repeat  B.A.B.E.S. champ this year.

Pete H. – STL (1) SFO(1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Posey (10)  – only Verlander with a chance among his player picks

18 points

Thomas F. – SFO (3) CIN (3) ATL (3) STL (3) DET (3) TEX (3) – only possible player pick is Verlander.

17 points

Gus P. – SFO (3) STL (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) SFO (6) – likely to score with Cabrera and perhaps Verlander, but not enough.

15 points

Eric H. – SFO (3) CIN (3) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) – Could still move up with  Price as AL Cy Young.

Tony L. – CIN (3) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – this perennial contender needs to score with Cabrera as AL MVP and Weaver as AL Cy Young in order to avoid the conclusion that he is an aging star past his prime, just like all of his beloved Yankees.

Jed M. – SFO (3) STL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1), Needs Verlander to repeat as Cy Young to finish in the middle of the pack.

READY FOR OFF-SEASON WORK-OUTS AND HOPING FOR THE COMEBACK AWARD IN ‘13

10 points

Rob C. – SFO (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) –  Weaver as Al Cy Young could improve his finish, but still waiting till next year!

Tom M.- SFO (3) STL (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – Verlander as AL Cy Young could make his showing respectable, despite that NYY World Series pick;

9 points

Bill C. – STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) –  no reward for his faithfulness to NYY

8 points

Rip L. – STL (1) ATL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1) – only Verlander as AL Cy Young can improve his standing

Scott R. – STL (1) DET (3) NYY (1) TEX (3) – I thought I might gain a measure of respectability with STL making the Series.  Alas, God is striving mightily to keep me humble, and He can do it.

4 points

Jennifer R. – ATL (3) TEX (1) – No offense to the babest of the B.A.B.E.S., but aren’t the rest of us thankful that she finished last?

© JSR 2012

Leaves of Grass*

October 22, 2012

This may be old news by now, but I wanted a few days to ponder the decline and fall of the Yankee Empire. I also wanted my good friend and NYY fan Steve J. to get back from his trip to Israel so I could greet him with a careful review of all that he missed while he was in the Promised Land.  Welcome home, Steve, but as you probably heard, the Yankees did not make it there this year.  And the prospects don’t look so bright for next year, either…..

Back at the start of the post-season, B.A.B.E.S. member Tom M. emailed me saying “now let the real season begin” – a quote he ascribed to “The Captain” -  NYY’s iconic shortstop Derek Jeter.  To which I promptly replied in my typical anti-Yankee and highbrow literary manner:  “O Captain, my captain, fallen cold and dead.”

I meant no harm to Mr. Jeter, nor any disrespect to the memory of Abraham Lincoln as eulogized by Walt Whitman. I was just following my penchant for overstatement and somehow came up with an analogy that was eerily correct. Could there have been any more prophetic utterance about the future of the old men in Pinstripes – and not just the Captain?  Or was it just the inevitable fruition of my endless carping about the Yankees?
There is no doubt that NYY’s post-season showing was historically inept, but I personally believe it was simply  the culmination of a season-long decline that was masked by some inexplicable force that would not let them lose to the Baltimore Orioles.  Once the Orioles were finally vanquished for the 12th and deciding time in 23 games – a series score that reminds me of Spassky v. Fischer in 1972 – the real NYY showed up at Yankee Stadium the next day and promptly went down with its Captain.  Sure, it was only Game 1, and the Yankees showed some heart in overcoming a 4-run deficit in the 9th,  but did anyone doubt that the series was over  the moment the Captain fell?  And, in truth, wasn’t it actually over even before the season began?

Starting in Spring Training with Michael Pineda flaming out at 23, to Mariano Rivera being carried off the field in Kansas City,  there were many symbolic pictures of the fallen Empire.  At mid-season there was the shattered ankle of the un-retired Andy Pettitte; CC Sabathia and Mark Teixiera each spent time on the DL down the stretch; and finally, in the post-season, the Captain himself was laid out at his shortstop position writhing in pain, refusing to be carried off the field but obviously not to return this season no matter how he exited the Yankee Stadium stage.

Add to these painful images the almost pathetic ones of Alex Rodriguez sitting comically in the Yankees dugout constantly spitting sunflower seeds and looking more like the water boy than the highest paid player in baseball.  Even more humiliating was the fact that most in the Yankees’ organization acted like the water boy was more important.  I never thought I’d say this, but I actually felt sorry for A-Rod, shackled to the Yankees’ bench, a prisoner of the biggest contract in sports history and universally hated for it.  But as my wife so innocently but correctly observed: “You can’t blame him; he didn’t force them to give him all that money.”  Absolutely true, and besides, there were so many other blame-worthy characters.

Adding to the leading-role catastrophes were these minor travesties: a) Robbie Cano’s “cooling off” from hitting .600 the last 10 days of the season to recording MLB’s first ever batter’s no-hitter in the post-season (0-29); b) Nick Swisher setting his own mark for post-season ineptitude (1-37 w/RISP); c) Eric Chavez ably mimicking Rodriguez by going 0-16 at the plate and making a game-losing error at 3rd base; and d) Raul Ibanez running out of magic and striking out to end Game 3 (isn’t that A-Rod’s job?) when the last chance to save the season presented itself.  So, there were many more players than just #13 at fault here.

And some blame could be thrown at management, too, and not just for A-Rod’s contract being forced on Brian Cashman by Hank Steinbrenner.  There was Cashman’s trade that brought Curtis Granderson from the Tigers and sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit (and DET also got Max Scherzer in the 3-way deal!).  Certainly, Granderson contributed significantly to the 2009 title, but Jackson and Coke were vitally important to the Tigers’ post-season victories this year and last, while Granderson was benched just like A-Rod.  It’s usually a good trade when both sides are benefitted, but would the Yankees undo the deal today if they could?  I think so.

And then there is the manager, a guy I actually like and think is largely responsible for delaying the inevitable collapse for this long.  But how can Girardi say emphatically that Rodriguez is his 3rd baseman one week and then bury him on the bench the next?  Perhaps he felt he could not copy Joe Torre and simply drop Rodriguez to 8th in the order, but personally I don’t see how benching him for 3 games helped the Yankees’ cause (and the scoreboard doesn’t explain it either).

Once again, I’m amazed to hear myself defending A-Rod, but he just can’t be blamed for the collective failure of this flawed team (my description of NYY back in March, rememeber?).  Of course, we may see the Tigers steam-roll through the World Series and prove to us that it was actually their pitching that caused the Yankees’ hitting woes.  After all, as many of us picked DET to win the Series as picked NYY (4).  The Tigers’ pitching was remarkably good, just as the Yankees’ hitting was remarkably bad, and as we all know, good pitching beats even good hitting, and dominates bad hitting. But no matter how good other teams are or who actually wins the World Series, the interesting story this off-season is going to be what happens with the Yankees.  The Hot Stove doesn’t start for weeks, of course, but let me be among the first to ask these pressing questions about NYY in 2013:

1. Do Jeter and Rivera recover in time to start the season? 

2. Can they recover fully enough maintain the grueling positions of shortstop and closer?
3.  Is Swisher gone?  And shouldn’t he be?

4. Will Sabathia and Teixeira have off-season surgery?

5. Does Ichio re-sign?

6.  Does Cano get a long-term deal?

7.  Who plays 3rd base?

8. Does Josh Hamilton wear pin-stripes next?

9. Is A-Rod in the starting line-up or on the bench? Is he traded or is he released if he refuses to waive his no-trade clause? (Hey, he’s only owed $114 million.)

10.  Does Andy Pettitte come back again? If so, does he wait till the All-Star break to sign?

11.  Does Girardi come back?

12.  Do Hank and Hal realize that the Boss is dead and that is not what they want to do with their lives?

13.  What would I do if I didn’t have the Yankees to hate?

*Some of you will know this to be the title of Whitman’s collection of poems that included in one edition the elegy for President Lincoln, “O Captain, my Captain!”  You may not know, as I did not, that the title was apparently an inside joke by Whitman, since “leaves” was a term that poets used for mediocre poems that they selected to fill out a volume for printing and “grass” was the publisher’s term for how many pages would have to be used to print a volume.  So, Whitman may have been playfully demeaning his own publication as composed of all mediocre works.  If so, history has proven him incorrect, but I certainly like using the same idea to describe the 2012 New York Yankees and think that the title just might not be a joke when applied to them.

Early Returns

October 4, 2012

67% of the viewers polled expressed their opinion that Mitt Romney won the debate last night with President Obama.  On its face that is a shocking development, given that the President is considered just short of Jesus in his communication skills and that, in the 30 year history of the poll, no candidate has ever been declared the clear winner of a debate by more than 60% of the viewers.

So, what of it? Is this the harbinger of a future shocker, (the defeat of an incumbent Democratic president has happened only once in the past 135 years) or simply the misleading data of a marginally significant event early in the stretch run to the championship on November 6?  Stay tuned, at least until the next debate when Romney’s expectations will be so high that he may have to walk on water to satisfy the pundits and best his opponent.

Speaking of expectations and miracles, the Texas Rangers led the AL West division for 178 days this season and were widely expected to win the division and possibly a third consecutive AL pennant.  The Oakland A’s had sole possession of the lead for one day, and were expected by no one to finish even within the  13 games by which they trailed the Rangers on June 30.  The A’s, however, exceeded those expectations, to say the least.  The Rangers did not.

Playing the best baseball of anyone over the last three months, the A’s miraculously went  from holding the second wildcard position, to the first wildcard position, to winning the AL West on the last day.  The Rangers apparently forgot that there were a few more days left in the long MLB season when they had a 5 game lead with just 10 days to go.  Lesson learned for future campaigns: one day in the lead is better than 178, so long as it is the LAST day.

So, the  Rangers are in the post-season again but they must feel like failures.  No team had ever lost a division title after leading for so many days, and they sure didn’t look like a winning club in game 162.  Does this mean the Rangers are dead?    Or, are they even now plotting to become the Comeback Kids? Would Nolan Ryan – or President Bush – let them adopt Bill Clinton’s nickname?  Probably so, if it means another trip to the Series.  That journey starts Friday when the Rangers must face another team whose presence in the post-season is just as shocking as the A’s – the Baltimore Orioles (more about them below).  And the Rangers will be starting their version of a rookie pitcher, Yu Darvish.  Stayed tuned for a very interesting primary battle, the very first official “play-in play-off” game.

Now back to the A’s, who are a miracle team that exceeded even Hollywood’s expectations.  Is this the team destined to fulfill Billy Beane’s dream of winning the last game of a baseball season? Hollywood does love sequels, right?   How else but by destiny and a Hollywood script can you explain a team winning 94 games in a season in which rookie pitchers started 104 of the 162 games?  Oh, and this is a team with one of the lowest batting averages (28th) and on base percentages (24th) in all of MLB.  This is not a classic Moneyball team, except for having one of the lowest payrolls (29th).   Seems like destiny to me, but the A’s have company in that department.  I remember someone once wrote about destiny being a two-timer, but on occasion she can apparently even be a three-timer.

The aforementioned Baltimore Orioles deserve some destiny discussion of their own.   If it were not for the A’s, Buck Showalter and the O’s would be the talk of baseball.  Or rather, perhaps Dan Duquette would be.  He’s the architect of the Orioles’ rise and was the GM for Boston immediately prior to Theo Epstein. Take a look at the Red Sox 2002 roster right before Epstein took over.  It looks an awful lot like the World Championship team of 2004.   Maybe Duquette could get his own movie deal with Tom Hanks as the star (he turned down the role as Billy Beane).  As for Hollywood drama, I have to say I would love to see the Orioles take on the Yankees in the Division Series just to see Buck Showalter get his shot at revenge against the Steinbrenners.  He certainly made them miserable for the past two weeks.

Finally, there is one other amazing story from this MLB primary season, and it comes from inside Beltway where destiny is always part of the discussion.  Only our reigning B.A.B.E.S champion Leo G. foresaw the stunning primary victory of the Washington Nationals in the NL East.  Another crusty baseball veteran, Davy Johnson, should get some credit, but most of the praise belongs to Mike Rizzo, the GM you have probably never heard of unless you followed the debate about whether to cancel the season of one of baseball’s top pitchers – Stephen Strasburg – even in the heat of a pennant race.  Rizzo did just that, and yet the team he put together is so solid that it still finished with MLB’s best record.

Other than paying Jayson Werth a king’s ransom when he was perhaps worth the price of a knight, Rizzo has made very successful deals that make the Nats a favorite in the post-season.  One of those deals landed star pitcher Gio Gonzalez from Billy Beane and the A’s in exchange for Tom Milone and others.  Can you imagine Gonzalez facing Milone in Game 7  of the World Series at Nationals Park on November 1, only 5 days before the election?  How many congressional candidates would abandon the campaign trail to join together in non-partisan support for the Nats?  Or would they be forced to pull against the Washington team to show their constituents that they are not a Washington insider?  Would the president throw out the first pitch? If you’ve seen him throw, you know he truly stretches the definition of “crafty lefthander.” My guess is that his handlers would advise against the photo op (for you older Society members, think Michael Dukakis riding in a tank with a helmet on.)   Oh, the beauty and complexity of post-season baseball in an election year!

Ok, enough punditry for now. Time to get down to  reporting the official early returns.  We have some society members who have shown themselves to be true experts, helped out by the late season surge of DET, the survival of NYY and the collapse of TEX.  Others among us have shown themselves to be the opposite – namely me, but I am at least for the moment ahead of my wife (and no one else).

Three members scored big with the selection of Miguel Cabrera as the AL batting champ, and one succeeded with the pick of Buster Posey for the NL batting title, aided by Melky Cabrera’s drug suspension. (Interesting note: how weird would it have been to have both batting titles won by players named Cabrera?)   There are many other aspects of the primary season to report and much of the campaign remains, so here is the current election tabulation for each of you along with my forecast for your prospects for ultimate victory in November:

THE FRONTRUNNERS:

23 points

Steve J.– CIN (3) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) Cabrera (10) – the rare NYY lover who is realistic about that team; his pick of DET v. SFO in the Series looks promising, as does his pick of Cabrera for AL MVP.

Tim T.-   SFO (3) ATL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Cabrera (10) – a rare Cubs fan who knows good teams when he sees them, and knows the Cubs aren’t one;  could win it all with DET in the Series and Verlander as AL Cy Young;

19 points

Leo G.– SFO (3) STL (3) WAS (3) STL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – backs up his 2011 B.A.B.E.S. title with 6 direct hits! But his selection of TEX as WS champ and hard-luck player picks make a repeat title unlikely. Sadly, Votto as NL MVP and Batting Champ could have happened if he had not gotten injured.

Pete H.– STL (1) SFO(1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Posey (10) – nice pick of Posey as NL batting champ, but not much hope with TEX as WS champ and only Verlander with a chance among his player picks; perhaps blind loyalty to NYY would have been better.

18 points

Thomas F.– SFO (3) CIN (3) ATL (3) STL (3) DET (3) TEX (3) – kudos to our youngest society member (13 years) who picked 6 direct hits! Unfortunately, none of these 6 were his picks for the WS (LAA, PHI) which destroys the chance for any more team points, and his only possible player pick is Verlander.  Therefore, he can’t beat Turek, who also picked Verlander.  However, Thomas had an excellent rookie campaign and undoubtedly will be a contender for years to come.
17 points

Matt B.– STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1) Cabrera (10) – right picks, wrong places; as a former catcher at Trinity, Matt usually does better with his location, but could still find the zone with DET in WS and Verlander as AL Cy Young, but would still lose to Turek.

STILL IN THE HUNT(?):

15 points

Eric H.– SFO (3) CIN (3) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) – 5 direct hits is very well done, indeed.  Could be rewarded for his loyalty to NYY in WS.  Add that to Price as AL Cy Young and Eric is a dark horse for the title.

14 points

Marc W.– CIN (3) ATL (1) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) – good showing with 6 correct picks; could score more with SFO as NL LCS and Price as AL Cy Young, but needs a lot of help for a title.  Definitely a long-shot.
13 points

Carl R.-   CIN (3) ATL (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) – beloved LAD let him down, but could still compete for the title with DET in WS, Cabrera as AL MVP and Verlander AL Cy Young (hey, all 3 could happen).

Bruce R.– SFO (3) STL (1) ATL (3) DET (3) TEX (3) – could score more with SFO as NL LCS, but LAA in WS and player picks limit upside.  Does get kudos  for picking Chris Sale as AL Cy Young. He won’t win it but was in the race in September (and I had never heard of the guy).

11 points

Gus P. – SFO (3) STL (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – could make a major move up with SFO v. TEX in Series, Cabrera as AL MVP, Verlander as Cy Young (possible 44 more points on the board).

Tony L. – CIN (3) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – perennial top-tier finisher has work to do; could improve dramatically with NYY in WS, Cabrera as AL MVP and Weaver as AL Cy Young

Jed M. – SFO (3) STL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1), not bad but no hope for the future with only TEX as WS champ and Verlander as AL Cy Young to bank on (Hosey has the same picks and leads by 8)
10 points
Rob C. – SFO (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – Theo did not bring Rob a WS title in year 105 of the drought. Did anyone know that the Cubs’ last title was actually the second of back-to-back wins? ‘O7-‘O8, that’s 1907-O8, of course.  Weaver as Al Cy Young could improve his finish, but no B.A.B.E.S. title for Rob this year.  “Wait till next year!”

Tom M. – SFO (3) STL (1) DET (3) NYY (3) – The right picks in just the right places can take you a long way; could make a run to the top with NYY in WS and Verlander as AL Cy Young;

STAYING IN FOR THE EXPERIENCE:

9 points
Bill C. – STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) –  path to the title blocked by Marchiando, with NYY in WS and Verlander as AL Cy Young; their positions flipped when TEX choked. At least Bill got to enjoy a full year of agony for the Red Sox Nation to go along with last year’s September collapse.   Sadly, he won’t have Bobby V. to kick around anymore (but wait, Nixon said the same thing about himself and then won two presidential elections!).

8 points

Rip L. – STL (1) ATL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1) – another victim of right teams, wrong spots. No shot with TEX as WS champ and Verlander as AL Cy Young, as others ahead of him also picked.

Scott R. – STL (1) DET (3) NYY (1) TEX (3) – those that can, play baseball; those that can’t play, become B.A.B.E.S.’  winners; those that can’t play or predict winners, become the Commissioner.

4 points

Jennifer R. – ATL (3) TEX (1) – but for DET’s surge and TEX’s collapse, she’d be ahead of me.  Jen still gets kudos for that PIT pick which looked brilliant for 120 games. And of course, she is still a BABE in every sense of the word.