Here in the last days of August 2019, the postseason is little more than a month away! This is a very exciting time of year for the sport, as anticipation builds towards the October climax. Many teams are still in the playoff race, but many will be eliminated in the next 30 days.
Looking at my 2019 predictions, you can already see that I’ve been iffy on predicting the correct standings so far. However, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to make more predictions as the season goes on! It’s a way of trying to still be right by making even more predictions! 😀
What could September bring?
Cleveland’s recent rise in the Wild Card standings puts the Rays in a tight spot. The AL East and AL West seem to have pretty clear winners. The Nationals have finally been doing really well, with the Brewers still struggling to contend.
Even as a Yankees fan I have to admit that the Astros are the favorite to win the AL pennant. Their rotation and talent is absurd, and I think 2017 proved that they can outduel the Yankees in a long series full of starting pitching importance. Regardless of what happens in the Division Series, I see the Astros beating the Yankees in the ALCS just like they did in 2017. I do think it will be a good series, but good pitching generally beats good hitting.
As usual the National League has more parity, though with the fall of the Red Sox and the incredible Dodger squad, it’s not quite as unbalanced between the leagues as it was in 2017 and 2018. Just like last year I am heavily rooting for a Yankees-Braves World Series, but the Dodgers appear poised to win their third consecutive pennant. I am disappointed and surprised that the Brewers have not been able to capitalize on their amazing run from last year, but the Cardinals are my second-favorite team in the NL right now after the Braves. I don’t see the Cardinals holding on to win the NL Central, and I think there is a good chance we’ll see a 2017 World Series rematch: Astros vs. Dodgers.
That is my official prediction! I’d probably go with the Astros in that matchup, but I hope I’m way off! 😀 (and that we’ll see a repeat of 1996)
Please leave a comment below with your 2019 Major League Baseball playoffs predictions!
Recently I purchased some Rawlings 5150 Batting Gloves. After not playing baseball for about 9 years, I’ve been going to a batting cage a little bit. It has been a humbling but interesting experience. I did enjoy using the new batting gloves, as they definitely helped absorb some of the shock. They kept my hands fresh and lessened the impact of blister formation compared to not using any batting gloves while hitting in the prior month.
The Rawlings 5150 batting gloves are made from goat leather, “Stretch-Fit material”, and Double Knit Lycra finger gussets. They seem to be an average priced pair of batting gloves – I got my pair for about $17 (USD). They are available in both adult and youth sizes. Rawlings is a classic baseball brand that is very well known.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Nice material, modern look, solid performance. The selling features on the back of the cardboard display talk about the genuine leather palm, the flexfit design, and the enhanced fit gussets. Overall I like the batting gloves a lot so far!
Cons: Fit may be slightly small. I used this sizing chart to pick out my Adult Medium size. They’re a little tight, but I noticed that more when I was putting them on than when I was actually swinging. If you’re on the upper edge of a hand size, you may want to go with the bigger glove size.
I’m seeing plenty on eBay that generally go for $15-$20 as of August 2019. I thought this was a fair and predictable price.
Want some Rawlings 5150 Batting Gloves of your own? Check out eBay or Amazon to get hitting!! 😀
Ever since I was a young kid, I had at least one of those miniature baseball bats. My dad gave me a small Red Sox (ironically since I’m a Yankees fan) bat. Eventually I got a Yankees bat with my name on it at Cooperstown. Years later I bought two basic miniature bats to use when playing around inside.
You can check out some of the options on Amazon. My small bats are 18 inches long. They are just long enough to have fun with (I wouldn’t want to go any shorter than 17 inches), and light enough to swing extremely fast.
A simple game I’ve enjoyed playing is to have an “All Star World Series” or home run derby inside. With a big enough room (average size may even work), you can roll up napkins or paper towels into a small baseball that you can hit with the miniature baseball bats (tossing them up to yourself). The bats are short enough that hitting the ceiling or surrounding objects in the room shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
I established some basic rules for hitting. Hitting the far wall at a certain height on the wall would be a home run. The corners of the room that you face while hitting can be the foul poles. Make believe where the fielders are and use your best judgement to determine what are hits and what are outs. To avoid having it become too easy, I like to have one swing and miss be a strikeout, with no walks or hit by pitches allowed. In general I also do 3 foul balls for a strikeout rather than allowing endless fouls.
Pros of Miniature Baseball Bats
-Small and lightweight
-Easy to swing and experiment with
-Fun to use
-Cheap compared to full size bats
-Tons of colors and customizations available
Favorite MLB Teams – Why I Like Some Better Than Others
Here I rank my favorite MLB teams as of August 2019, all 30 of them! These rankings are very subject to change, but most teams probably won’t shift around by more than 1-5 spots over time. It gets a lot harder and more random after the first 5-7 teams of course.
I grew up in a town near Syracuse right in the middle of New York State. I wanted to root for a home team, and since I was born in 1994, the Yankees were a clear and obvious choice from the start. Come to think of it, I don’t know if I knew the Mets existed as a child, and now they’re my least favorite team.
A lot of these rankings are due to my opinions about the front office of a franchise. If the management of a team cannot make the right decisions via the draft, trades, free agency, and player development, I generally find it very hard to root for the team. It’s just too hard to be a fan of a franchise that never wins and doesn’t seem committed to changing their losing streak. Of course I’m spoiled as a Yankees fan, but I also don’t like when teams end a “championship window” earlier than needed due to finances.
For a while now I’ve said that I’m more a fan of Major League Baseball than I am of the Yankees, which I think allows me to enjoy the sport and postseason more than most fans. The trouble with being a big fan of one team per sport (rather than the sport/league itself) is that you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed (almost heartbroken) every year when your team inevitably does not win the championship. But that’s a subject for another post. Onto my favorite MLB teams!
1. New York Yankees
They have and always will be my favorite. Super happy to root for the most successful baseball franchise ever. Derek Jeter was my hero growing up.
2. Atlanta Braves
Rich history, awesome ballparks, tons of memorable and cool players. The Braves became one of my favorite teams by default because back in 2006 when I started watching baseball a lot on TV, the Braves were on TBS pretty often. I was able to catch probably at least one Braves game per week or every other week until a few years later when the games weren’t broadcast on TBS as much. Growing up it was awesome to see John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and others. It was also neat to see the start of Andrelton Simmons’ career.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
With Phat Albert leading the way, the 2006 Cardinals took over the TV screen in October and beat the Tigers in the World Series. Somewhat random players like Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver made their way into my “baseball lore” and watching “Cardinal magic” (as I call it) unfold throughout 2011 and in later postseasons was such a joy to watch. They’ve been a little disappointing the past handful of years, but I love seeing what the Cardinals can do come postseason time – one of the best teams for epic moments.
Check out Big City:
4. San Francisco Giants
Another incredible and old franchise. Barry Bonds is generally my second-favorite player after only Jeter. Combine his splash hits with one of the most beautiful and iconic ballparks in the league, and it’s a recipe for awesomeness. I wish the Giants could have won a title with Barry still around, but the teams from 2010-2014 (and even 2016) were classic to watch.
5. Colorado Rockies
This team would be a lot lower a handful of years ago, but I’ve really loved watching the combination of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon (and others) power their offense.
6. Toronto Blue Jays
This is mostly based on their EPIC postseasons in 2015 and 2016. I wish they could have won a pennant or had a longer “window”, but it was a huge amount of fun while it lasted. Not many goosebumps moments compare to the dome in Toronto with the horn going off after a huge home run or walkoff win.
7. Washington Nationals
The team that can’t get past the NLDS. The Nationals have still provided a really interesting baseball tale since their name transition from the Expos. From total laughingstocks to occasional World Series favorites. Anthony Rendon is consistently one of the most underrated players in the game.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
I feel like this is a team that consistently fields good talent, but cannot seem to make the postseason or make it far when they do qualify. Definitely in a tough division this decade with the Giants and Dodgers dominating.
9. Chicago White Sox
Seems like the White Sox have been perpetually rebuilding for far too long now. I used to overrate them based on my bias in preseason predictions (even expecting them to win the Central when the Tigers were still dominant), but that time has passed as now they always underperform. Arguably one of the most disappointing teams of the 2010’s overall. The White Sox have been one of my favorite teams since I started watching more in 2006, as they were on WGN a lot just like the Cubs.
10. Oakland Athletics
The A’s have a rich history, with some of my favorite historical players coming from them (Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove). Sometimes they remind me of the D-Backs – talented but not quite good enough for consistent postseason appearances.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
This was a fun team to watch in the 2018 postseason, and they’ve had a lot of cool players I’ve enjoyed seeing over the years.
12. Tampa Bay Rays
I find it ironic that they became much more successful when they took the “devil” out of their team name. The Rays always seem to do fine with less, and have been surprisingly successful at the end of this decade.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw has been fun to watch for a while now, and I have to enjoy some of his epic postseason chokes against the Cardinals and other teams I like better. They’ve managed to stay on top for a while now, and have plenty of awesome franchise moments from the past few Octobers.
14. LA Angels
Trout and Pujols is such an incredible Hall of Fame duo that we are lucky to be witnessing. It’s crazy how this team has almost no postseason success this decade with names like those and many others that have had some time to shine. (CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver, and tons more) I can’t believe Mike Scioscia hasn’t been able to get this team into contention, and I think he’s one of the most overrated managers in history as a result.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
The big bad monster team my Yankees took down in 2009. Took way too long to rebuild and now finally starting to contend again… maybe.
16. Houston Astros
The Astros have broken Yankee hearts in 2015 and 2017. I sometimes have fun watching them when they’re not playing the Yankees lol. Unfortunately they definitely look like a better team than the Yankees heading into the 2019 postseason.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
18. Chicago Cubs
I’ve grown less fond of the Cubs over time, mostly due to the excessive hype starting around 2015 and continuing after they clearly had a (long) championship hangover of sorts. Loved seeing them on WGN a ton as a kid from 2006-2010, not so much since then. I just like the old teams better and kind of miss Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot, and others.
19. Cleveland Indians
Really missed their opportunities in 2016 and 2017. Still can hardly believe the Yankees came back and beat them in the 2017 ALDS.
20. Seattle Mariners
21. Cincinnati Reds
22. Detroit Tigers
23. Texas Rangers
Yankee nemesis in 2010 and 2011, I won’t forget! XD
24. Miami Marlins
25. Minnesota Twins
26. Baltimore Orioles
27. Kansas City Royals
28. Boston Red Sox
29. San Diego Padres
One of the worst decision making teams of all time. Incredibly inept. Signing the biggest douche in the sport (Manny Machado) will only cripple the franchise for yet another decade.
30. New York mets
(this is just a rant I find funny) They need to get the hell out of New York. The Dodgers and Giants recognized Yankee greatness and moved. Time for the mets to go. New York is a huge city, but the Yankees are a huge team with HUGE success, so MLB only needs one team in New York. The mets should take their failures elsewhere. Dumb name, embarrassing meltdowns when they should have made the postseason, just horrendous really. XD So glad to see them struggle since I started hating them in the 2000’s. Obviously the 2015 World Series was a nightmare for me lol.
In general I like NL teams more than AL teams, I really like the NL East and NL West, and I can’t stand the AL Central which is always wicked boring and seems devoid of interesting/great players. Sometime I may try to find my favorite MLB teams ranking from sometime during my 2006-2010 period of massive interest in baseball.
This is a list I made in middle or high school, sometime in the period between 2006 and 2010. Therefore some steroid revelations hadn’t come out or been resolved, and Mike Trout hadn’t debuted. It was also heavily influenced by Elliott Kalb’s book, which you can find by clicking the picture. The list would be quite different if I made it in 2019!
Is Major League Baseball having a home run problem? Although home runs are theoretically good for the game due to attendance and high scoring offenses bringing fans to the ballpark, the recent explosion of power numbers feels incredibly fake in many ways.
A Recent Phenomenon
As you can see from the year-by-year averages and totals from Baseball Reference, home runs have become more common very recently. 2019 is setting a new record for home runs hit per game. The 1.40 average tops every other year by a wide margin, including 2000’s average of 1.17, during one of the peak seasons of the steroid era.
2016 – The Beginning of the Bombs
It is said that sometime in 2016 the new baseballs were introduced. This makes perfect sense, as you can see the average home runs per game number increased from 1.01 in 2015 to 1.16 in 2016, really a massive increase if you think about how it’s simply an average. About 700 more home runs were hit in 2016 compared to 2015. 2017 was the first year ever with 6000+ homers! The trend does not appear to be slowing down, as 2019 has been even crazier.
Silly Looking Home Runs
I have noticed this homer-happy trend directly in games. Many hitters seem to be “poking” home runs just over the fence that in past years would have been doubles or easy outs. Balls that should be routine flyouts are going over the wall. Somewhat random hitters are popping 20 longballs per year like it’s nothing. I love home runs and offense, but I think it’s gotten ridiculous.
Check out this example:
The announcer literally says it was “poked” – not that it wasn’t an impressive smash, but it feels like random low-effort swings are rewarded with 4 total bases too often nowadays.
I do find it interesting that the single season home run record appears safe for now. Despite the huge increase in total home runs hit, nobody is approaching the record of 73 hit in a single season by Barry Bonds in 2001. Although Bonds was likely on PED’s for that record, it speaks to how good of a hitter he was that even with these crazy juiced up baseballs, nobody has come close to the record yet in these recent homer-happy years.
What do you think? Baseball is juiced? Or no? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
Why is baseball the “best”? From the mind of an experienced fan, I can help explain.
Baseball is an incredible sport with a simple premise – whack a ball with a stick. That’s it right? Far from it, of course. Add in all the rules, different kinds of pitches, different types of bats, types of swings, and player roles, and you’ve got the makings of a great American national pastime that has seen incredible popularity over its ~150 year existence. 2019 is the 150th anniversary of professional baseball teams, so clearly the sport has longevity. In fact, now the best players can make over $20 million or $30 million dollars per year! This demonstrates the popularity of baseball, and part of reason why baseball is the best!
Baseball is unique compared to many other sports in that it doesn’t have a clock. There isn’t a set time limit for the gameplay, which can lead to a more natural flow. It also leads to less manufactured chaos at the end of games, allowing for a more natural conclusion to games that go into extra innings.
Another interesting fact about Major League Baseball in particular is that there is no salary cap. Just like how there is no time limit to the games, there is no limit to how much money each professional team can spend on its players when fielding a team. This can lead to some teams dominating huge markets like New York City and Los Angeles, but the sport has remarkable parity despite the lack of a salary cap. By that I mean the number of repeat or consistent championships. Since the start of this millennium, no team has won the World Series two years in a row. Some teams have come close, and the San Francisco Giants had a dynasty of sorts from 2010-2014 when they won 3 World Series titles in a 5 year span. However, compare that to the NFL and NBA. Tom Brady’s Patriots seem to make or win the Super Bowl every year, while the Golden State Warriors have been doing the same in basketball. Both of those pro leagues have salary caps, yet baseball has more parity lately. Certainly an interesting topic to think about!
Do you agree with my reasons for why baseball is the best? Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your take! 😀