For people who write about baseball, the All-Star break offers at least two things: (1) an intraseasonal oasis in which one can examine and address baseball topics over the span of a day or two without worrying that the otherwise constant barrage of new baseball events occurring that might, for example, mess up the performance numbers on which a writer had founded his or her baseball writing and (2) a probably countervailing force in the form of significant public interviews with the sport’s leaders addressing the sport’s Big Topics Of The Day.
People love to talk about the designated hitter and whether the National League will adopt it, and Manfred’s mention of the subject this morning predictably reignited the “conversation”:
The Players Association has always been partial philosophically to the idea of a DH, because it means more jobs for veteran hitters. The key question is whether the union and MLB are at the table engaged on this and many other issues—and they don’t seem to be.
Upton Abbey is our Atlanta Braves series, now in its second season. B.J. and Justin Upton are off to rough starts, but overall, the state of Upton Abbey is strong. Tune in all season long right here on ALDLAND.
The Braves are opening at home this week with series against division foes New York and Washington. They started the season on the road in Milwaukee and Washington, going 4-2 on that trip, dropping just one game in each city.
Atlanta’s young, ascendant starting pitchers were the story heading into the season. That talent vanished with still-shocking swiftness, duplicate round-two Tommy John surgeries, and other injuries clearing out the bulk of the rotation. Still, the remaining starters, led by Julio Teheran and Alex Wood, have looked pretty good so far. Craig Kimbrel remains the best closer in the game, so that’s something that will help reassure a young, trembling group of starters. Reliever Luis Avilan’s hamstring injury, suffered this week, is cause for concern, but you’re getting the theme pretty clearly at this point.
ALDLAND will be at Turner Field for two games this week. Tonight, Commodawg and AD will catch the rubber match in this opening series with the Mets. On Sunday, Physguy comes to town to join AD for the third game of the Nationals series. Stay tuned here and on twitter for the freshest insights and hottest updates.
The Tigers look to get their train back on the tracks in Oakland tonight in game one of their American League divisional series. Detroit will send twenty-game-winner, Cy Young frontrunner, and probable ocular unicorn Max Scherzer to the mound in a pitching matchup against [all the overweight and PED jokes] Bartolo Colon. The Tigers and A’s played each other pretty evenly this season, and Detroit had to face Oakland in last year’s playoffs. What I remember from that series is that Coco Crisp is ruthless. Oakland may not be a top-tier team, but they are a frightening playoff foe. Detroit’s strength right now is its starting pitching, and the team will need to rely heavily on its defense– keep an eye on Jhonny Peralta in left field, and recall that Atlanta’s decision to start a catcher in left field hurt them last night— until it can get its bats going again.
Tonight’s game starts at 9:37. Stay tuned here for details about a possible live blog for the game, and, as always, follow us @ALDLANDia for the latest and unfiltered greatest hot sports takes.
A very special edition of the ALDLAND podcast this week as blog founder AD joins us to talk NBA free agency and the MLB all-star game. Marcus and I revisit some of our MLB picks from the start of the season and AD makes his own.
Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:
We are long overdue for a visit with the Uptons. How about a dinner date? (They’ll probably make Chick-fil-A if you ask nicely and are willing to wait until the third inning.)
Appetizer: Team status small talk
Right now, Atlanta is in first place in the NL East, holding a seven-game lead over the Washington Nationals. They also are the only team in their division with a positive run differential. (Only the Cardinals (+106), Tigers (+76), Red Sox (+75), and Reds (+63) can best the Braves +57 mark.) That’s all the more impressive considering …Keep reading…
AD has been writing about his new favorite team lately in the popular column Upton Abbey. Since I can’t allow him to praise the Barves unchecked, I will now write a semi-regular-ish column on their division rivals, the Washington Nationals. So now you get three columns on teams you (probably) don’t care about. But you should read all of them so you can get some culture and have something to talk about with your co-workers at the ol’ water cooler.
This past weekend saw a series between the scorching hot Bravos and the hot-but-not-scorching-hot Washington Nationals. The series did not go so well for Washington, as they got swept and only looked competitive in the first game. I attended the Saturday game with noted blog subject Bad Jeremy, who is almost as big of a Braves fan as AD. The game was a 3-1 Braves victory that saw the Nats do very little in the way of making offense and the Braves do slightly more. Evan Gattis carried the Braves, hitting a two run homer that caused Bad Jeremy to get out of his seat and flex at all the Nats fans in the surrounding area.
The highlight of the game was, as always, the Presidents’ Race. George Washington jumped out to a big lead early on with Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson trailing behind. Newcomer William Howard Taft was nowhere to be found, and everyone in attendance wondered where he was. The answer to that question was soon revealed, as Taft emerged from the right field bullpen to join with Teddy in beating up George Washington. Apparently there was some beef between Presidents 26 and 27 and President 1. Who knew? Jefferson and Lincoln continued past, neck and neck, until Jefferson went into his kick and won what was one of the more exciting Presidents’ Races in recent memory.
Despite being swept by the Barves, the Nats have looked good early on and seem like they are more than capable of making it to their second postseason in franchise history this year. They have some great young arms in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales, not to mention the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. This weekend’s series could very well be a preview of the 2013 NLCS (where the winner will go on to get swept by the Seattle Mariners in the World Series). Stay tuned for more of A Song of Bryce and Fire, and also for a Mariners column with the working title of King in the North(west). Baseball, huh? How about it?