Washington Nationals need to fire Matt Williams

September 1, 2015 – 2:40 am by Ryan Phillips
    Matt Williams Nationals

Matt Williams did it again Monday night, and in no way is that a good thing.

The 49-year-old former All-Star cost the Washington Nationals another game with idiotic managing. The Nationals are fading fast in the National League playoff picture and Williams is actually hastening their shocking fall.

Washington entered Monday night’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals 5.5 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the N.L. East. The Mets won Monday night, making the Nats’ game even more important. With a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning, Williams made a series of decisions that wound up losing his team the game.

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No-no latest example of Jake Arrieta’s Cubs breakthrough

August 31, 2015 – 1:41 am by Hickey

    arrieta

No-hitters are random by nature (and not cause they hate ya). Hacky hurlers like Edwin Jackson, Bud Smith, Philip Humber and Bobo Holloman(!) have channeled that magic for a night while Hall of Famers like Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez have not. The Cubs, long associated with ineptitude, managed to make it 50 years between being no-hit until Cole Hamels finally got them this season. The Dodgers, who are in first place, have been no-hit twice in nine days.  No Padres pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter in the team’s 47 seasons.

If there was a point to that paragraph, it is this: because of the randomness, rarely do we see what can be defined as a “clutch” no-hitter. Don Larsen and Roy Halladay throwing postseason no-nos certainly fall in that category, as does Mike Scott’s no-hitter to clinch the 1986 NL West title for the Astros. On Sunday, Jake Arrieta entered that rarefied air.

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Watch: Melvin Upton Jr. channels Willie Mays with catch

August 28, 2015 – 12:17 am by Ryan Phillips
    Melvin Upton Jr.

Melvin Upton Jr. (or the artist formerly-known as B.J. Upton) is trying to rehab his image around baseball this season and lately he has been doing just that for the San Diego Padres. On Thursday night against the Washington Nationals, Upton threw out two runners, tripled and made one of the catches of the season.

In the bottom of the first with two on and two out, Ryan Zimmerman launched a fly ball deep to center and Upton immediately began running after it. He tracked it over his shoulder while on a full sprint, and hauled it in with a basket catch, reminiscent of Willie Mays’ catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.

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Video: Jonathan Schoop blasts 484-foot home run

August 26, 2015 – 11:31 pm by Ryan Phillips
    Schoop

You could be forgiven if you haven’t heard of Jonathan Schoop. But after what he did Wednesday night, you might want to get familiar with the Baltimore Orioles’ second baseman.

During an 8-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, Schoop took Johnny Cueto deep, and when we say deep, we mean deep. In the top of the fourth, the 23-year-old Curocaoan turned around a 1-2 fastball and deposited it somewhere near Joplin. MLB Statcast estimated the blast at a whopping 484 feet.

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Manfred should consider Wild Card Game tweak

August 25, 2015 – 1:29 am by Hickey

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New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has not made many waves in his first year of replacing Bud Selig, but he should consider a significant tweak to the Wild Card system this offseason.

As things currently stand, due to geographical circumstance the top three teams in the National League all reside in the same division — the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs. And the current playoff format is unfair to all three.

If the Pirates finish the 162-game regular season with the second-best record in the league, should they really have to play a one-game crapshoot against a team that is quite capable of beating them for a shot at the Division Series? Likewise, how is St. Louis’ reward for having the best record in baseball a best-of-5 Division Series against a team it may only beat by two or three games in the standings?

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Packers will survive loss of Jordy Nelson, but should consider Wayne

August 24, 2015 – 12:21 am by Hickey

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The likely loss of Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson for the season is a big blow for Green Bay, but it isn’t a tragedy unless you’re one of many in the Packers’ female fanbase who list Nelson as their favorite player for purposes of ogling.

Yes, it will be difficult to replicate the production of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, who had 98 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. But the beauty of having Aaron Rodgers is that he could have a cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan connected to a model train as one of his receivers and still find a way to win the NFC North. (In fact, the Bears would probably double-cover that guy, Marv and Harry style.)

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ESPN moves Bears to Fort Wayne, Indiana

August 21, 2015 – 12:34 am by Hickey

ft wayne bears

For the first time in the history of the rivalry, the most egregious error in a Bills-Browns game did not take place on the field.

As you can see, the above ESPN graphic displays the many career stops of Browns starting quarterback Josh “Don’t Call Me Luke” McCown, which included a three-year stint as Jay Cutler’s backup in Chicago. Unfortunately, whatever employee and/or intern who works in the graphics department is unable to distinguish the various states in flyover country, and put the dot purporting to show Chicago in the spot where Fort Wayne, Indiana is actually located. (In case you’re thinking we’re being too hardcore in our insistence upon geographic accuracy, the cities are located some 161 miles apart. And in different states.)

Or is it possible that ESPN isn’t actually wrong?

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Cubs must NOT start Jon Lester in Wild Card game

August 19, 2015 – 11:51 pm by Hickey

lester

Here is a modest proposal for Cubs manager Joe Maddon: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER CAN YOU START JON LESTER OVER JAKE ARRIETA IN A WILD CARD PLAYOFF GAME.

That’s as modestly as I can get the point across, at any rate, though some non-caps lock talking points would probably allow my plea to be taken more seriously, particularly given the odds that this post is seen as an overreaction to Lester getting torched for 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings by Detroit on Wednesday night. But I actually put some thought into this well before Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris tomahawked a line-drive into center field for a home run off Lester in his first career at-bat. Really. You’ll see.

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