The Two-Week Update

It’s been 15 days since my last entry, so I thought I’d post a little something.  I’ve been pretty busy lately, but I plan on posting more often as we get closer to summer.  I don’t have a “what if” scenario ready to post, but I’m working on a few.  However, there was a “what if” type story on ESPN.com back on March 30th.  Click here to see it.

Basically, it’s just a pile of random questions with no analysis or anything, but it’s kind of worth checking out.  I guess.  Most of the questions the author writes are pretty basic, like “what if Ichiro tried to hit homeruns?”
Yes, we’ve heard that a million times.  Maybe you could try something that requires more than four brain cells next time, Mr. Wojciechowski?
Anyway, Troy Tulowitzki, one of my favorite players, is on a tear right now.  He has seven homeruns in 12 games.  So, in honor of Tulo,   I’ll be re-working the 2005 draft (one of the best in history) in my next post and creating a new alternate universe with Longoria on the Nationals, Zimmerman on the Rockies and Tulo on the Rays.  Or something like that.  You’ll just have to stay tuned.  

Tomorrow, the Speculation Ends. Finally.

The
darkest hour of night comes just before the sunrise. 

We’ve
been waiting for five months, and the moment is almost here.  Opening Day is tomorrow, the most anticipated
day of the year for baseball fans. 
However, right before the first games, we’re forced to read 532
“preview” articles and watch another 27 “prediction” shows.  They’re all the same.  Bland, obvious statements (“The Rockies need
to start strong”), buzz about the same three players over and over (Crawford,
Cliff Lee and Adrian Gonzalez have been mentioned on MLB Network a combined
21,848 times in the past two months) and the same predictions over and over
(75% of “analysts” pick Albert Pujols for NL MVP, the other 25% “go bold” and
pick Troy Tulowitzki) are what we suffer through each March.

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This sight is about 100x better than the one below.


I’ve
read the same thing in every preview magazine, something along the lines of
“Tulowitzki will be a huge part of the Rockies this year.  So will Carlos Gonzalez, as will Ubaldo
Jimenez.”

MLB2009_300.jpg

Ok,
great.  So you pretty much take what
happened last season and say it will have to be the same in 2011?  Excellent analysis. 

So,
unlike just about every other baseball blog, I won’t be telling you who I think
will win MVP, though I can tell you who I think won’t win it.  I’ll go bold here and say Clint Barmes will
not turn into the next Mickey Mantle this year, and Matt Belisle won’t suddenly
bust out and go 85 scoreless innings in 2011. 

I can
tell you that my team, the Colorado Rockies, will play at least 162 games this
season, hopefully more.  I can tell you that
the most memorable parts of this upcoming season will not have been predicted
by anyone.  CarGo will hit a few amazing
homeruns and Tulowitzki will make some great plays.  The Rockies will have some memorable games,
and some triple-A call-up will surprise everyone.  

Ubaldo will return to his
first-half-of-2010 form.  Or maybe
not.  We’ll have to wait and see. 

But no
matter that the analysts say, we have baseball, and we have a thousand games to
watch this summer.  We’re not sure what
will happen, but that’s just the fun of it.

What If #1: Brad Lidge

The 2011 season will start in just two days, and the
Philadelphia Phillies are the favorite in the NL East and one of the top three
teams in the MLB.  In honor of their “four
aces” pitching staff, I will be looking back at one moment from the 2005
playoffs, that I think if changed slightly, would completely alter the Phillies
we know today.  The assumptions I make
here based on my made-up alterations of the past are just my opinion, so please
tell me if you think they are off or whatever. 
So, here we go….

The 2005 ALCS was played between two NL Central
rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros.  The Cardinals were 100-62 in the regular
season, while the Houston Astros snuck into the playoffs with an 89-73
record.

pujols-lidge-ap2.jpg

 

The teams split the first two games in St. Louis and
then the Astros took games three and four. 
In game five, the Astros held a 4-2 lead going into the ninth
inning.  Phil Garner called on, who else,
closer Brad Lidge to preserve the lead. 
Lidge, up to that point, was 72 for 85 in regular season save opportunities
in his career.  His ERA was 2.71.  His postseason ERA was 0.55 before the
NLCS.  With 42 saves in 46 opportunities
in 2005, Lidge was one of the best closers in the game.
  

That was all before Albert Pujols launched a ball
into orbit with some actual Astros in space. 
With two on and two outs, Pujols smashed a ball off the back wall in
left field at Minute Maid Park.  It gave
the Cardinals a 5-4 lead that they held on to.

The Astros still won the series in the next game,
but it took years for Lidge to recover from that epic blast.  For whatever reason, Lidge fell apart.  He was awful the season the next year (5.28
ERA in 75 innings) and still bad the next year, 2007 (3.36 ERA but 19-27 in
save opportunities). 

Maybe he just didn’t trust himself in the ninth
after that.  Maybe he was scared to go
after hitters.  Maybe his ears still rung
from the sound of Pujols’ homerun coming off the bat.  Whatever the reason, let’s play a little “what
if”. 

What if Pujols didn’t hit that homerun?  What if Lidge gets that pitch down a few more
inches, he gets Pujols to fly out, and the Astros celebrate right there?  Well, it seems that Lidge would repeat his
2005 numbers in both 2006 and 2007, making him a top closer.  Because he does well those two years, the
Astros don’t let him leave town, like they actually did.

With Lidge on the Astros in 2008, the Philadelphia
Phillies don’t have his amazing season of 41 saves in 41 opportunities.  In real life, the change of scenery got Lidge
back on track after his two worst seasons. 
In this alternate universe, the Phillies don’t have his services.  With Chad Durbin closing, the Phillies lose
the NL East title to the New York Mets (who finished three games back in real
life).

The Milwaukee Brewers win the wild card, and in
October, I think it’s a toss-up of for who wins the NLCS.  The Chicago Cubs had 97 wins, but they can
never win in the playoffs.  The Brewers were
just too weak a team, as were the Dodgers. 
The New York Mets, also notorious chokers, didn’t seem strong enough to
win it.  Instead, I think the Tampa Bay
Rays win the World Series against whoever wins the National League, be it New
York, Chicago, or whoever.

BradLidge.jpg

This small alteration doesn’t change just the 2008
season, however.
  If the Phillies don’t make
the playoffs in 2008, maybe Roy Halladay doesn’t want to play for them, which I
think he wouldn’t.
  That means the
Phillies wouldn’t have traded for Roy Oswalt, either, because they would have
been farther out of the race in 2010 without Halladay. If those two don’t come
to Philadelphia, the Phils wouldn’t be the NL favorite this year.
  That leaves the east division wide open for
Atlanta, New York, Florida and Philadelphia.
   

Personally, I think the Braves would win it over a
weak-pitching Philadelphia team.  Also,
the San Francisco Giants would have a much easier time in the playoffs. 

So, that’s my version of what happens if the
Lidge-Pujols at-bat goes a little differently. 
(and to use a line from MLB Network) what’s yours?

Intro and a Personal “What if”

While surfing around the “blogosphere” this week, I decided to start my own blog.  I’ve had a few blogs in the past, most recently a Rockies one in March of 2009 that only got to four posts.  I also had a blog that ran for about a year on this site, starting in the fall of 2006, that was heavily weighted with coverage of the former Rockies second baseman Jamey Carroll.

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My previous blog fell apart because it was bland.  Like most bloggers on this site do, I threw down my personal thoughts on my favorite team (the Colorado Rockies) and put down a few generic pictures and statistics for good measure.  
While thinking of what my new blog should be about, I decided I didn’t want it to be the same old thing found on 1,387 other Rockies blogs.  I thought about what most every baseball 
blog is about (reactions to baseball happenings), and decided to go the other way:  what could have happened.
Baseball, like everything else in life, is full of “what if’s”.  What if Babe Ruth never got traded to New York?  What if the Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn?  What if Bill Buckner had his left arm cutoff in a potato farming accident in 1985?  
Those last three have been explored countless times, and I will be avoiding their type.  I’m going to try and find the most minute actions that if reversed, would still have severely changed the MLB we know today.  I will also be exploring crazy “what ifs” that really were not ever plausible, but are cool to explore as if reality.
Now, here is my personal “what if”.  On September, 10th, 2006, I was reading the New York Times.  In the sports section, there was a feature on a man named Zack Hample.  He has a blog that you should definitely check out if you haven’t.  Anyway, his blog was at the bottom of the article, and I visited it.  After reading for a week or two, I started my own blog.
ZackHample.jpg
Zack Hample with barrels of baseballs he’s collected// http://www.nytimes.com
That magazine article was my first exposure to MLBlogs, and if I hadn’t read that, I may never have started a blog, and you wouldn’t be reading this now.  However, I probably would have found this site somehow anyway, but my experience would not have been the same and I might be writing some other blog.
Anyway, that’s how I got here.  Thanks for stopping by, and I plan to start crafting the Alternate Universe this week.
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