Week 1 Recap

Ahhhh, it’s good to have “real” baseball back!

It’s still early in the season, the excitement is still high, and I have baseball on pretty much non-stop once the kids are in bed (Baseball can’t trump Elmo during wind down time). So if you haven’t had much time, or you tend to focus on a single team, don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick recap of what has happened the past 10 days.

  • Opening Day starts with a bang
    First pitch, first hit, first home run. Ian Happ wasted no time and went yard on the first pitch of the MLB season and forced a sports writer to eat his words and go swimming. The Marlins are not going to be good this season after Jeter shipped everyone out (including Marlins Man… he’s still a Free Agent though). Happ has struggled mightily since then after what looked like a no-brainer pick in Group E of the HR Derby contest.
  • Home Runs are still King
    There were 33 homers hit on opening day. That’s the most since 2006 when the league started doing mandated drug testing. Don’t worry, they have finally admitted to the ball being slightly different. Lower seam height… maybe causing less movement on pitches?! Whatever the cause, I’m happy to see homers still flying out at a high rate to help with our home run contest.
  • Orioles like to Walk-Off on Opening Day
    The Orioles are the first team to win 3… 3! consecutive Opening Days with walk-off hits. This year it was done by Adam Jones in the 11th inning.
  • Free Baseball and No Baseball
    Speaking of extra innings, as of April 8th, there have been 18 games that have provided free baseball to fans, including a 17-inning snooze fest between the Cubs and the Marlins. A lot of them being spectacular and exciting finishes. On the other side of the spectrum, MLB decided to start baseball 5 days earlier than usual to give teams 5 more off days throughout the season. However, some of those have already been consumed because Winter just won’t quite (I think I’m on day 567 of Winter). There have been 10 postponed games thus far which is going to make for a packed Summer of baseball.
  • Harper Hits Homers
    Harper is on a tear. He just doesn’t stop hitting. He’s now hit 6 homers in 27 AB and has 13 Walks which is good enough for the top of the HR leader board. It only helps his stats when he faces pitchers that he just OWNS. Harper has Atlanta Braves Julio Teheran’s number. He has now homered off of him 8 times (once this year already) in 39 ABs with a slugging pct of 1.154. But that’s ok, the Braves organist got a good laugh out of Harper coming to town by playing Go Cubs Go and New York, New York as Harper approached the batter’s box (Harper is a free agent this season and will go where the money is).
  • Stranger Things are afoot in MLB
    So there have been more and more odd things going on in the MLB these days. The defensive shift is super popular. There is a pitch clock and a man starting at 2B in extra innings in the Minors. But some managers are getting even crazier. The Tampa Bay Rays have implemented a 4 man starting pitcher rotation. That’s not all that odd, but 1 of the days is a ‘Bullpen’ day. Yes, the Rays have 3 SP on their roster and the rest are Relievers. Even more strange is that the ‘Bullpen’ day is the 3rd spot in the rotation. Sooooo, they plan to burn up the bullpen on the day before their worst starting pitcher?! Just as odd are the Astros’ new defensive shift of 4 outfielders. Do they think they are playing beer league softball or what?! Just bunt it to 3B!!! If this 4 man outfield “works”, I suspect the MLB coming up with a rule about odd shifts which probably will include 5 infielder shifts as well.
  • Sho-time
    Continuing the non-normal theme, Shohei Ohtani bluffed everyone in Spring Training. His stats in Spring were 4-for-32 at the plate and a 16.2 ERA on the mound. But with a simple change to his batting stance (no more leg kick), Ohtani is 7-for-18 with 3 homers and a 2.08 ERA with taking a perfect game into the 7th inning. Right now, he has MORE home runs than Aaron Judge AND MORE strikeouts than Max Scherzer. Ya, I would say that is living up to the hype.
  • The Giants offense is scuffling but winning games
    The Giants are the first team to get their first 3 runs of a season by 3 solo home runs by the same player. Yes, Joe Panik (not a HR hitter by trade) hit 3 solo home runs and the Giants won 2 of those games by a score of 1-0. Not only is that odd, but the newly acquired McCutchen was awful with a 2-for-24 start but then goes 6-for-7 in an extra inning game with a walk-off homer.
  • Back to Back to Start, Back to Back to End
    The Brewers and Cardinals made history this week by starting a game where the first two batters hit Back-to-Back homers and then the game ended with the last 2 hitters going Back-to-Back to walk-off a win for the Home Team… thankfully, the Brewers were on the winning side of that game.
  • Eagles Continue to Make Headlines in Minnesota
    James Paxton of the Mariners (nicknamed “Big Maple” because he’s Canadian) became a true American this week when a Bald Eagle landed on him during the National Anthem in Minneapolis. The last time Eagles made the headlines in Minnesota… Beating the Vikings in the Superbowl in February. *Bu Dum Tss*
  • Fighting Phils put up a 20 on the scoreboard
    The Phillies are on the back-end of finishing a rebuild. Will they be good this season? Will it be 1 more season? The signed Arrieta hoping to help build a young starting rotation, but the Phillies bats did all the talking during one game. They scored 20 (they only scored 19 in the first 9 days) against the horrible Marlins by hitting 2 grand slams in the first 3 innings of the game. The first time since Fernando Tatis did it by himself for the Cardinals in 1999… and in the same inning.
  • Big Fat Bartolo Colon is still relevant
    Somehow, at the age of 44, soon to be 45, “Big Sexy” is still relevant in the pitching world of professional baseball. He signed with the Rangers and in his first game of the season he threw 6-innings of 1 run ball for a QS (no run support ended in a non-win). He literally throws like 1 pitch, an 85mph 2-seam fastball. How can most pitchers not pitch below a 4.00era and here Bartolo is at 45, throwing 1 pitch, and still keeping his team competitive?!
  • Red Sox Can Still Make History
    And finally, the Red Sox have started 8-1 this season. This is the first time in the club’s history… which dates back to 1901. I didn’t think they would win the AL East (those Yankees’ bats are crazy powerful) but with their best start in history, maybe I should reconsider the AL East final standings.

What did I miss from the Opening Week??? Feel free to comment below.

And So It Begins… 2018 Starts With a BANG!!

Wow… wow… So we all know that the Marlins are bad. I mean Jeter cleaned house down there (Brewers fans rejoice!). He not only let go of all of his talent, he fired the Mascot, and he let the Marlins biggest fan, Marlins Man, go to Free Agency to find a new team.

But did we ever expect Ian Happ to open the season with a monster Home Run on the FIRST pitch of the season. Obviously, a lot of you think Ian Happ is going to do great things in the Home Run department this season at the top of the Cubs lineup (more on the group selections later). But no way, you all thought the first pitch of the season was going to go over the wall. That was the first time since like 1986 when Dwight Evans did it.

Opening days other major story line, which also ties to Miami, wasn’t a let down either. Stanton’s first AB as a Yankee also saw the ball leave the yard. And then he did it a 2nd time later in the game. He’s on pace for 324 HR this season. And he may be the only player that can actually maintain that pace.

However, Stanton’s two homer game wasn’t the most impressive display of Homers on Opening Day. The Chicago WhiteSox, yes that isn’t a typo, the Chicago WhiteSox had a home run derby of their own on opening day with 6 homers. 6! And those 6 were hit between only 3 guys. Matt Davidson hit 3 of those homers. No one chose Matt Davidson… and yes, I actually put him in Group D. So he was actually a choice I gave you…

Derby News:
Thank you for putting up with a couple hours without the standings on Opening Day. It’s like a holiday for me, so I was out watching all the games with a group of guys and didn’t want to risk breaking the standings until I was sitting behind a computer to debug the inevitable problems.

Surprisingly, after about 4hrs of execution (real robust validation over here…), the standings look to be fully functional and it only took me 2hrs of debugging this year (2hrs is a HUGE success in my mind). The standings should be updating roughly every 15 minutes. If stats don’t look correct, give it a few minutes and refresh. If they still look wrong, the stats should get corrected by noon the next day. Just a reminder that the official stats are kept offline and are triple verified for accuracy. The online stats are just for convenience and my sanity of not having to manually update them.

If you are new, here’s a reminder on how the standings page works and how you can use the standings to see a bunch of different information (yes, the capabilities of the standings is much, much more than just finding your name).

As for the entries, we have succeeded in having more entries again for the 8th straight season (pending a few payments) and I’ve only been doing this for 8 seasons. It still impresses me how much excellent feedback you guys give me on wanting me to continue do this competition. Even with a year off, we still managed to have 107 contestants (this ties 2016 entries but we had a few forfeit their teams in April due to missing payment deadlines). So kudos to you for spreading the word on our fun little contest. I’m still debating on how to award the prizes this season, but I will continue to payout prizes through the entire standings, similar to what we did in 2016, and not just rewarding the very top teams.

I thought this season was the easiest for me to group players in a long time. It seemed like there were obvious tiers of power hitters.
But apparently, you all tend to like the same player in a lot of the groups (I’m guilty too this season in gravitating to player names versus the statistics). And for the first time in 8 seasons of the contest, we finally have a duplicate team selection. And not just 1, we have at least 2 duplicate team selections. And there may even a few more that I haven’t noticed but will become apparent as more and more ABs are taking this season.

Stanton, Trout, Hoskins, Ozuna was a very popular combination this year. 4 teams had some form of this combination. That may not sound like a lot but with over 9million+ combinations, that’s probably the most similar picks in 4 groups we have ever had. And if you did have this combination, you duplicated a team. Yes, of those 4 teams, there were only 2 group E selections… Ian Happ and Yasiel Puig.

The most popular selections in each group were: Giancarlo Stanton (51 teams), Mike Trout (34), Freddie Freeman (20), Marcell Ozuna (27), and Ian Happ (19). Let’s take a look at the selection breakdown per group:

Group A
What happens when you are the most powerful swinger and you have a full, healthy season? You hit 59 homers and then get traded to a home run friendly ball park and hit 2 homers on Opening Day. You also get chosen by almost 50% of the HR Derby contestants. Yes, Stanton leads group A by a long shot. The second most is no surprise either, his own teammate, Aaron Judge. We could see almost 120 home runs just between these two guys this season. The Yankees are going to be fun to watch (Whoa, did I just actually say that…). Every player in Group A got some love this season with no player getting snubbed by all team selections.

  • Stanton – 51
  • Judge – 24
  • Arenado – 17
  • Encarnacion – 4
  • Bellinger – 3
  • K.Davis/Gallo/Martinez – 2
  • Cruz/Donaldson – 1

Group B
I finally caved and put Trout and Harper down in Group B. Just looking at their past statistics and performances, they didn’t deserve to be in the top tier with the true power swingers from last season and seasons past. In doing so, almost 50% of the teams chose one of those 2 players. 1 in 3 teams choosing Trout. Goldy got the 3rd most selections. Apparently, 10 of you aren’t worried about the humidor in Arizona this season (is baseball really going to mandate humidors in all stadiums next season?!). And, much to my surprise, the Cubs fans prefer Bryant over Rizzo… 9 to 7. Jay Bruce get 0 selections from Group B… no love for a guy who has hit over 30 homers in 5 seasons in his career.

  • Trout – 34
  • Harper – 14
  • Goldschmidt – 10
  • Bryant – 9
  • Rizzo – 7
  • Sano – 6
  • Schwarber – 5
  • Dozier/Machado/Votto – 3
  • Cespedes/Duda/Sanchez/Springer/Abreu – 2
  • C.Davis/Frazier/Upton – 1
  • Bruce – 0

Group C
Half of the teams chose one of the following 3 players: Blackmon (23), Freeman (20), Hoskins (18). Hoskins put on a display of power late last season and people took notice. But some of you may have forgotten of the even more impressive display of power late in 2017 by Matt Olson, as only 3 gambled on that youngster. Youth powers Group C choices as we see a lot of our aging stars not getting many selections (Granderson/Jones/Morales/Napoli/Pujols/HanRam/Seager/Trumbo).

  • Blackmon – 23
  • Freeman – 20
  • Hoskins – 18
  • Correa – 11
  • Lamb – 7
  • Morrison – 6
  • Jones/Olson/Smoak/Thames – 3
  • Dickerson/Myers – 2
  • Bour/Morales/Pujols/Ramirez/D.Santana/K.Seager – 1
  • Bautista/Conforto/Napoli/Trumbo – 0

Group D
As the groups keep expanding with more and more selections, the choices should start to distribute more and more. Group D isn’t an exception except there is a major distribution between only 3 guys before the field becomes much more selective. Ozuna got a whopping 27 picks in Group D. Did I screw up in his grouping? Am I biased because he plays for the Cardinals? Am I skeptical of his 37 homer season last year after never topping 23 previously? I don’t know, but after watching his ABs yesterday, he did not look very good… at all. Hopefully he and the 27 teams that chose him proves me wrong.

Moose coming back to KC, after failing at free agency, got 16 of you excited. And 7 of you like the odds of Mookie Betts repeating his success in Boston this season. We are all probably very lucky that we didn’t play in 2017, because most of us would have probably gotten burned on Trevor Story’s elite 2016. Only 5 managers were even willing to risk their selections on him in Group D this season.

  • Ozuna – 27
  • Moustakas – 16
  • Betts – 7
  • DeJong/Lindor/Shaw/Story – 5
  • Braun/McCutchen/Odor/Schoop/C.Seager – 4
  • Baez/Zimmerman – 3
  • Gattis/Grichuk – 2
  • Beltre/Cano/Cargo/Moreland/J.Ramirez/Souza – 1
  • Bell/Belt/Cabrera/Davidson/Franco/Kemp/McCann/Mesoraco/Pearce/Renfroe/Reynolds/C.Santana – 0

Group E
Ah, the write-in group. This is my favorite group. Why?! Because I really enjoy seeing the people who write-in a guy that I decided to not include on the list. It makes me have to research the guy and understand what you may see in that player that I didn’t see. We had a few people write-in Ohtani, which I would love to see the Japanese Babe Ruth succeed from both sides of the plate. But after a disastrous Spring Training, those few teams rightfully backed out of the selection.

We did have 16 teams go off script and choose players that weren’t originally listed: Acuna, T.Beckham, Bird, Broxton, Buxton, Carpenter, Chapman, Devers (2), Kipnis, Mazara, McMahon, Pham, Pollock, Soler, Yelich.

Otherwise, the Cubs fans really dominated by coming through with an alarming 20 picks for Ian Happ. I’ll be honest, I hope I’m the one that is right by putting him in Group E. But after yesterday and all the hype the media is giving him, I think I may have been wrong for including him this low. Jose Altuve was popular with 13 after he lit up the scoreboard last season. How does a guy that is so small have so much pop?! Castellanos (8), Sir Didi (8), and Puig were also popular picks in Group E when you could have chosen almost anyone in the MB player universe.

  • Happ – 20
  • Altuve – 13
  • Castellanos/Gregorious – 8
  • Puig – 7
  • Contreras/Rosario – 5
  • Rendon – 4
  • Longoria/Schebler – 3
  • Devers/Gyorko/Hosmer/Pham/Zunino – 2
  • Alonso/Calhoun/Choo/Grandal/Healy/Murphy/Suarez/J.Turner – 1

Write-in:
Acuna/T.Beckham/Bird/Broxton/Buxton/Carpenter/Chapman – 1
Kipnis/Mazara/McMahon/Pollock/Doler/Yelich – 1

Kings of Cork is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

The bad news always comes first in my household because it makes the good news that much better…

So the bad news:
In 2017, we set so many records for home runs that it would have been really fun to play some Home Run Derby. I mean, Aaron Judge hit 52 homers. That’s probably 32 more than I would have projected and he would have been a Group E player. A move like that hasn’t happened since Jose Bautista came from nowhere in 2010 and hit 54 homers after topping out at like 15 homers per year.

But now the good news:
The Kings of Cork Home Run Derby will be returning for 2018!!! I heard so much complaining, and grumbling, and whining that there was no home run derby last season that you guys made my 3 yr old look like a quiet, politely asking saint. You gave ‘tantrum’ a whole new definition.

I will not commit to any sort of regular blog posts. Nor will I commit to any sort of confidence in the live updating standings (did you see ESPN was crediting guys for like 10 home runs in 2 at-bats through 7 innings last season? Their stats just didn’t make any sense). I will commit to getting Home Run player groupings posted by March 11, as long as you commit to playing another season after a 1 yr hiatus.

Yes, put a reminder on your calendars right now. March 11 is the date that you can come back and submit your roster to once again become the King (or Queen) of Cork!

2017 Kings of Cork Home Run Derby Cancelled

Yes, you unfortunately read that title correctly. There will not be a Kings of Cork Home Run Derby this year.

Due to life/adulting, I have not been able to manage enough time to get a home run derby set up this year.

I truly and honestly hope that it is only a 1 year hiatus. I have received numerous emails from the fans asking the status, so I know there is still an overwhelming amount of interest in the contest that has been running for 7 seasons. It amazes me how many people continued to play and show interest for such a ‘simple contest’. I hope this year off allows me to build a more robust standings so that it allows me to have to spend fewer hours fixing it and more hours enjoying baseball/adulting…

Sorry for the bad news.

-The Commish

Week 1, 2016: What A Story!

Wow. Week 1 of 2016 feels very different than Week 1 in years past. I mean, The Offense… Wow!! No pitcher was safe the first week. Big names got lit-up, no names got lit-up. There have been less than 10 days of baseball and already there have been already 233 home runs!

The current league leader? Trevor Story
What?! You don’t know who that is. Well, one of our Home Run Derby managers did and he is currently riding the hot streak as his write-in candidate (more on the Derby later). Trevor Story has hit 7 home runs in the Rockies first 7 games. And it has been quit impressive to watch. He’s hitting fastballs, sliders, curveballs out of the zone. He is one of the Rockies top prospects and got an opportunity when Jose Reyes was suspended by Major League Baseball (what a fall from grace that guy has had). Story can’t keep up this pace, but it sure is exciting to watch at the moment.

And what about those Cubbies. This is ‘the’ year… or so I’m told. But they lost a key piece on day 2 of the season. Kyle Schwarber went down with a torn ACL after colliding with the Fowler in the outfield. The experiment of him in leftfield didn’t last long and he will now sit out for the remainder of the season (sorry to the 2 managers that selected him in the Derby). But the Cubs are still in first place at 6-1.

There are no teams that haven’t lost and there are two teams who haven’t won (thank god it’s not the Brewers). The Orioles were the last unbeaten but lost on Wednesday to go to 7-1. Versus the Braves and Twins who are 0-8 and I’m not sure they plan on winning any time soon.

Other interesting notes from Week 1:

  • The new interference slide rule has been interesting to watch. Two games ended on an interference call (Brewers got a win thanks to one) where neither slide looked that bad but the players did break the rules per the writing of the rule. It will be interesting to see if the writings change.
  • The Dodgers pulled a rookie pitcher in his first career start when he had a no-hitter intact. Ross Stripling hit 100 pitches and hadn’t allowed a hit through 7.1 innings. But he is coming off Tommy John and his limit was 100 pitches prior to the game… A no-hitter by a rookie in his first appearance hasn’t occurred since 1892 when Bumpus Jones did it (Note: Bumpus is a great name to save for my second son).
  • Robinson Cano is looking like a Yankee hitting into the short porch again. He hit 4 homers in the first 3 games for Seattle but has cooled off again but that’s still the best in Group C of the Derby so far.
  • Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rookie pitcher from Japan, pitched well in his first professional game. But it wasn’t his pitching that people were talking about. Maeda slammed a home run in his second at-bat. I love pitchers batting for the strategy and the entertainment. #JustSayNoToDH
  • And lastly, Harper stole my HR Derby team name. But I’m willing to vote for him this fall when compared to my other choices…

Derby Update:
Well, I battled Google again the entire first week to get our player stats updating correctly. But I’ve out smarted them, at least for now. So the standings should be updating roughly every 15 minutes. If stats don’t look correct, give it a few minutes and refresh. If they still look wrong, the stats should get corrected by noon the next day. Just a reminder that the official stats are kept offline and are triple verified for accuracy. The online stats are just for convenience and my sanity of not having to manually update them.

As for the entries, we have succeeded in having more entries again for the 7th straight season (pending a few payments) and I’ve only been doing this for 7 seasons. So that’s kind of awesome. Right now we are sitting at 107 contestants and roughly 20% of those teams are first time participants. So kudos to you for spreading the word on our fun little contest. I’m also saving a bit of a twist this season, but I won’t announce that until the beginning of May. So be on the look out for that announcement.

Also for the 7th consecutive year, we don’t have a duplicate team selection. This still boggles my mind. I know there are something like 9million+ combinations but there are only so many players that are typically selected in each category and this season was no different. Let’s take a look at the selection breakdown per group:

Group A
This is a much more diverse group A than last season. The most common player chosen isn’t even on 1 out of every 4 teams which is Stanton at less than 25%. Chris Davis in Baltimore surprised me at being the 2nd most selected. And then Harper and Trout are neck and neck which I’m sure if they followed our contest would just add fuel to the rivalry between them. And then there is Ortiz, who got 0 love from us for his retirement campaign. Adios DH.

  • Stanton – 26
  • Davis – 19
  • Harper – 18
  • Trout – 15
  • Abreu – 6
  • Cruz/Donaldson/Rizzo – 5
  • Goldschmidt – 4
  • Bautista – 3
  • Encarnacion – 1
  • Ortiz – 0

Group B
I’ll be honest. I was very afraid when the first entries started to trickle in this season because it felt like I saw Arenado on every entry in group B. In reality, he’s only on about 1 out of every 3 teams. Followed by Bryant riding the Cubs fan-wagon. Then there is a steep drop to either young upside players or proven veterans. Unfortunately for 2 teams (This Is The Year and Billy The Goats), they will have to use their trade on April 26th to replace Schwarber. Most surprising to not get a single selection, the hottest Group E player a season ago, Joc Pederson. I guess people didn’t like his K, BB, or HR mentality at the plate.

  • Arenado – 34
  • Bryant – 22
  • Sano – 9
  • Cargo – 8
  • Cabrera/Martinez – 6
  • Cespedes/Frazier – 5
  • Pujols – 4
  • Correa/Machado/Schwarber – 2
  • Alvarez/Park – 1
  • Carter/Duda/Gattis/Jones/Pederson/Arod/Springer/Teixeira – 0

Group C
This by far is the most difficult group. Do you go with the mediocre power hitter who showcased more power once or do you go with the declining veteran? Obviously based on the selections below, no one has the right answer. Their are no real standout surprises below, but I’m sure the 2 teams (1907, 1908, 2016 World Champs… and Toad Frazier who selected Cano are liking their choice right now with 5 homers.

  • McCutchen – 13
  • Dozier/Upton – 11
  • Trumbo/Votto – 8
  • A.Gonzalez – 7
  • Bruce/Fielder/Granderson – 6
  • Seager – 5
  • Braun – 4
  • Bour/Davis/Tulo – 3
  • Cano/Puig/Rasmus – 2
  • Gallo/Howard/Kemp/Longoria/McCann/Moreland/Valbuena – 1
  • Hamilton/LaRoche/Moss/Pollock/HanRam – 0

Group D
Ah, yes, Group D. The group that harbors the catchers, the fallen stars, and the high ceiling young unproven players. This is always a crap shoot. Just throw a dart and hope you get lucky. Franco had a huge Spring Training so I’m a little surprised by him only being chosen by 10 teams. But I’m sure the 1 team who chose Dickerson (Trasky) and the other who chose Souza (Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz) is really liking their selections at the moment.

  • Grichuk – 15
  • Calhoun – 13
  • Franco/Freeman – 10
  • Posey – 7
  • Beltre/Conforto/Crawford – 4
  • Beltran/Holliday/Marte/Morales/Smoak/Soler – 3
  • Baez/Betts/Byrd/Gomez/Pence/C.Santana/Seager/Souza/Zimmerman – 2
  • Belt/Dickerson/Napoli/Wieters – 1
  • Desmond/Mesoraco/Pearce/Reynolds/Singleton – 0

Group E
For the first time in our 7 year history, more than 15% of the teams wrote in a player that wasn’t on my original list. And 2 of those write-ins were the 4th and 5th most popular selections in the group (Chris Carpenter and Domingo Santana). The best choice in Group E thus far (who was also a write-in)… Trevor Story who was selected by PEDispensers and is riding the league leader in HR to the top of the current Derby standings.

  • Moustakas – 18
  • Heyward – 13
  • Hosmer – 10
  • Plouffe – 9
  • Carpenter – 7
  • D. Santana – 6
  • Cron/Vmart/Reddick/Schoop – 4
  • D’Arnaud/Garcia/Kang/C.Perez/Valencia/Werth/Story/Buxton – 1
  • Guerrero/Gomes/Gyorko/Hart/Headley/Kim/Lind/Morse/Tomas/Young – 0

Most unique team selection once again goes to Manager H. Stovall and the team of My Husband and his Alter Egos. They chose assembled and entire team of players with the name of Carlos or Curtis as a tribute to their husbands alter ego. A very close second goes to Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz managed by K. Wolf who only selected players with Z’s in their name.

The season has just begun and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer baseball!

The Home Run Derby Is Back For 2016

*YAAAAAAAWN* *STRRRRRRRRRRREEEETCH*

Wow, that was a great winter hibernation. Let me log in here to the World Wide Web and see whats been going on in the baseball world…. WHAAAAAATTTT?!?!?!?!

  • The Cubs purchased away Lackey and Heyward from the Cardinals?!
  • The Yankees added Aroldis Chapman to an already elite pair of closers?!
  • The Diamondbacks are buying big names?!
  • The Giants are stocking up on pitching again for their normal even years World Series?!
  • The Padres cleaned house after going bankrupt in 2015?!
  • The Brewers have traded away every starting player in 2015 except 1 OF, their 2B, their Catcher (yet), and 3 SP?!

It’s going to be a loooooong summer for ma and all other Brewer fans…

Well, at least I have the 2016 Kings of Cork Home Run Derby to look forward to!!!

That’s right we are back for our 7th season. Rules are the same. Pick a total of 5 guys from the predetermined groups, and if your team hits the most home runs combined, you are crowned THE King/Queen of Cork! All you have to do is go here and click the submit button (deadline is March 27th).

I’m excited to be hosting the contest yet again and can’t wait for the sounds of the cracking bats, the smells of the grills, and the tastes of the $10 beers. This may be the only baseball I look forward to as I watch the Brewers lose 100 games in order to rebuild. How many of you will join me?

Ballpark Review: PNC P-aaaaaaargh-k

The site has been fairly silent with the summer sun starting to set. It’s just one of the sacrifices made this summer, not due to the lack of stories because there has been plenty (Mets crying in Baseball, an AWESOME home run derby, or the Brewers bullpen catcher setting the Philly Cheesesteak eating record), but just lack of time to do the stories and the site justice (I’ve barely had any time to properly host fantasy baseball leagues).

One thing I have found time for was some vacation time. Time away from the monotony of ever day life. And one thing I (we) like to do on vacation time is visiting new stadiums and watching good baseball. And I was fortunate enough recently to visit Pittsburgh, which many call the best place to watch a baseball game, to see the red hot Pirates take on the National League favorite Nationals.

I’m not here to review the offense heavy game that ran Scherzer out of the game in 5 innings with 5 runs. But I will review a ballpark that is a must visit for any true baseball fan.


PNC Park, Pittsburgh

The Stadium:

  • Very open and airy. Maybe I’m too used to domes, but the outfield seating wasn’t very tall which allows for the nice weather be shared with the fans.
  • Great views of the city of Pittsburgh. Thanks to the outfield not being a skyscarper itself, there is a great view of the downtown, the Roberto Clemente bridge, and you can hear the great sounds of boating and fun being had on the river.
  • Pirate theme is well played. They don’t underplay or overplay the Pirate theme throughout the park. They have their pirate flags and the big Jolly Roger in CF that gets raised after a win. Their scoreboard is all pirate ship themed graphics. And after every home run they fire the cannons and fireworks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a plank to push the opposing team mascot off either.
  • Great food and amazing prices. They have all your ballpark staples plus fresh seafood (sushi included), wings, extra large sandwiches, and best of all Pierogies. I would definitely recommend the pierogies. One because they have the pierogi races, two they are amazingly delicious, and three they only cost 5 bucks. Most of the food and beer there are surprisingly cheap. I think I paid $8 for a 24oz bomber.
  • Souvenirs. Lots of choices and great deals. I’ve been in a lot of merchandise shops and typically you see all the same things just with a different team logo on the item. But somehow the Pirates merchandise stores have a lot of items and clothing that I have never seen in any other MLB logo. So many choices! And the prices aren’t marked up 400%. The prices are actually amounts you would find at your local superstore. Plus they gave away free shirts to everyone that day and threw shirts into that stands at least twice in the game. Gotta love free swag.
  • Friendly players. Every single half inning, Starling Marte through his warm-up ball into the stands. You don’t see that much anymore. I’m not sure the MLB appreciates it due to the possibility of a lawsuit if anything were to happen. But Marte seems to be a true player of the fans, and that seemed to be the case with all the Pirate players that came near the fans.
  • The only negative I encountered with the stadium was that the traffic and flow in the concourse was horrible. At times we had to walk through the seats in order to avoid complete gridlocks.

The Fans:

  • Diehards. It may just be the fact that the Pirates are competitive again, but the fans are enthusiastic and nice people. There were a few National fans around us that had to make a scene but the Pirate fans left them be. No jawing, just ignoring. And the stadium was pretty much sold out and the streets/bars were packed with people that I don’t even think had tickets to the game.
  • The mates dressed their part. It never occurred to me but I think the Pirates may be the only team that the fans can actually dress up to show their team’s support. I mean who is going to dress up as a type of bird, a fish, or an article of clothing you wear on your feet. Maybe an Angel or a Ranger?! But yes, in Pittsburgh, it isn’t weird to see Pirates roaming the streets (some of them drunk like its their only day at port) or the concourses. In fact, I’m kind of upset I didn’t strap on my peg leg, pulled down an eye patch, and had Petey the Parrot on my shoulder.

The Location:

  • The city. Another stadium located in the heart of the city. Not on the outskirts, not in the sticks, its in the city. What is even more remarkable? The city shuts down the Clemente bridge and surrounding roads for games, which becomes mobbed with people. The river separates the game from the high rises, and the trees and rolling hills separate the city from the freeways and passers by.
  • The stadium surroundings. As mentioned previously, the surrounding streets are shutdown pre, during, and post game. There are lots of bars and restaurants within close proximity of the stadium. But even cooler are the bars and restaurants built into the exterior of the stadium that allows fans (with and without tickets) to eat and drink while socializing in the shut down streets. They even had a live band playing outside the gates pre-game.
  • The river. I’m jealous of the fans who just cruise down the river. Dock their boat in right field. Listen to the game on the radio and the sounds of the stadium. Heck, they even got a chance at 2 home run balls at the game we were at.

Seriously, put this stadium at the top of your list of next visits. You won’t regret it (except maybe the hotel prices around the stadium).

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June’s Home Run Recap

Summer is in full swing. The weather is hot. The Sun is scorching everything. And vacations are pulling us all into a relaxing dream world that ends abruptly with returning to work. I wouldn’t call running the HR Derby ‘work’ but summer has a firm grasp on me and I’m trying my best to stay focused on baseball in my free time. But holy crap its past the midway point in July and I’m just recapping June… that’s unacceptable.

But we made it through the longest week of the summer. The week where we get a home run derby, 1 game with all the stars of the game, and then 2 days with no baseball (at least the British Open started today so there is something to talk about in the sports world).

Speaking of the home run derby (not ours, we will get to that in a bit), if you missed it, the new format was AWESOME!! That derby was probably the best that I can remember watching. Which isn’t saying much because I usually hardly watch the Home Run Derby because it used to be so boring watch every batter take 25 pitches just to swing at one. But the new rules of unlimited outs with 4 total minutes (plus bonus time the player could earn) made it exciting and actually a competition. Mad props to the hometown hero Todd Frazier for winning but watching Joc Pederson hit some of those bombs was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see the line of players signing up for next years derby (instead of the usual running away from it).

Ok onto our derby… So the month of June is well past us but it was an exciting race. Our monthly winner, lead by Pujols’ 13 and Stanton’s 12 (before he swung and broke his wrist), was Pete Rose From The Dead whose team tallied 37 homers. In a very close 2nd was our current leader Get Deep with 36. And 3rd for the month of June was our first ever winner $5 Donation with 34.

The actual players that hit the most home runs in June were Pujols with 13, Stanton with 12, Arenado with 12, and JD Martinez with 11. Odds are if you had 1 or 2 of those players you made a big jump in the standings. And there were 5 teams who made a leap of more than 30 spots in the month of June. Grand Slam moved up 32 spots from 67th to 35th. Chicks Dig The Long Ball jumped 34 spots from 62nd to 28th. FRANtastic Five and Nana and Me both jumped 35 spots from 78th to 43rd and 99th to 64th respectively. And JoseyWales was our biggest mover in June with 39 spots from 75th to 36th.

On the other end of the spectrum, the losers in the month of June were two teams moving more than 30 spots in the wrong direction. Tom Pipines Ear Hair must have gotten trimmed in June because their team dropped 39 spots from 18th to 57th. And Bovee’s Home Run Derby Team dropped a whopping 41 places from 35th to 76th.

Player swaps since mid-June will be covered in the next week because Giancarlo is about to be trade eligible and I’m expecting roughly 40 moves. So rather than make another post, I will just lump all the moves in the past month into one large update.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming of baseball.

2015 All-Star Preview: The NL vs… The Royals???

I can’t even comment on the Hack-a-thon that the Cardinals organization is putting together right now… you just wonder why did they hack the Astros instead of someone like the Dodgers or Nationals??

I’d rather talk about how stupid homer and bandwagon baseball fans are instead of how stupid the evil empire is.

Yes, you read that right. I’m calling out all homer, bandwagon, one-day baseball fans out there. That or MLB has to be dealing with a hack or autobot of its own. Why am I calling them (some of you) out?! 8 of the 9 projected players (including a DH who will not start in the All-Star game) are from the Royals… 8!!!!!! The only starting position player that wouldn’t be a Royal is Mike Trout (well, atleast there are enough Non-Royal fans voting for the same person to overtake them).

I wouldn’t have a problem with 8 players from a single team assuming that the players were a top-3 player at their position between the dates of the last All-star game and today (or even just this season). But that’s not the case with players like Omar Infante who has a -0.2 WAR. NEGATIVE 0.2 Wins Above Replacement. Meaning he could be substituted by 18 other 2B this season and the Royals would have at least 0.2 more wins this season. And one of those other 18 2B is Jason Kipnis who actually has the 3rd Highest WAR among ALL players this season. Kipnis is behind Infante by almost 3 million votes. 3 Million!!! At least Altuve is within 300,000 of Infante…

Or how about Eric Hosmer at 1B. Ya, he’s having a decent year at 30+ Runs/RBI, 7HR, and almost a 0.300 BA. But I can name 3 other American League 1B that are having much, much better years and their WAR rating agree. How about Teixeira with 18HR and 48RBI. Or Pujols who looks like he’s back in St. Louis and just keeps homering with 19HR. Or how about the top 1B in the AL, Miguel Cabrera who has 14HR, 38RBI, and a 0.345 BA.

Let’s pick another position on the diamond. Outfield. The Royals have 3 of the top-4 outfielders in the current All-Star voting. Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and Alex Rios. I can’t argue with Cain, he’s a legitimate All-Star this season. Gordon is close but he is a top-5 AL outfielder this season so he’s fine in my books as well. But Alex Rios has played 20 games total and is batting 0.213. There are probably at least 35-40 other starting outfielders more deserving than him (and if you did the math, there are only 42 other starting OF in the AL that aren’t Royals).

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that fans get to vote for the All-Stars. What I don’t like is when fans don’t vote for the players that are the most deserving. It’s like we are in a high-school popularity contest. MLB needs a way to fix this issue because it hurts the die-hard fan base more than the casual fan base. I would say that any ballot that has 5 or more players from the same team selected, you just throw that ballot in the trash. Or maybe MLB limits the maximum number of players from a single team being able to start the All-Star game. Or maybe MLB just corrects the issue itself by fudging the numbers for the players that are the most deserving. Seriously, I would be ok with a sudden, unexplainable up-tick in votes over the next 15 days that dethroned several of these Royals players.

I like the Royals, but I also have an understanding of what it means to be an All-Star player.

Moving Day: Closing Down May


The statistics have been verified and as much as I look them over and over again, I still can’t believe that a team hit 45 home runs in May. Yes, Icy Hot In Your Joc dominated the derby in May. Four of his five hitters hit more than 9 home runs. Stanton and Joc Pederson had 9 a piece. While Josh Donaldson had 10 and Harper had a whopping 13. This catapulted Icy Hot In Your Joc into 1st place overall with an 6 home run lead. Their team may be hard to catch without injuries.

Second for the month (or the first loser) was Get Deep whose team hit 40 home runs in May. No surprise that their team also had Donaldson and Stanton but substitute Arenado’s 9 home runs instead. 40 is still pretty good and has put Get Deep into contention whose currently sitting in 2nd overall.

West Coast Useless more than doubled his overall home run total in May (as did Get Deep) from 18 to 56. Their team hit 38 in May for the 3rd most while utilizing a similar set of players as the two teams above: Stanton, Donaldson, and Pederson. Their team moves into the top-5 but has a ways to go to catch the leader.

Biggest movers in May:

  1. Walker This Way jumped 61 spots! (91st to 30th)
  2. Kettle Poppers moved 47 spots (68th to 21st)
  3. The Flying Aces gained 45 spots (94th to 49th)
  4. Bleacher Bums moved 44 spots (89th to 45th)
  5. Why Is Ozzie In The Hall jumped 43 spots (86th to 43rd)

Biggest losers in May:

  1. FRANtastic Five plummeted 58 spots (20th to 78th)
  2. Grand Slam dropped 56 spots (11th to 67th)
  3. Tulowizki’s dropped 51 spots (17th to 68th)
  4. Mayer’s Mashers dropped 48 spots (15th to 63rd)
  5. Devil Dogs and Denton’s Biggest Fan dropped 44 spots (29th to 73rd and 46th to 90th)

Recent Transactions:

  • The Big Stinkey – Todd Frazier for Yasiel Puig (May 18)
  • Another year, Another Wasted… – Bryce Harper for Yasiel Puig (May 18)
  • Pete Rose From The Dead – Joc Pederson for Jayson Werth (June 5)
  • Warning Track Power – Bryce Harper for Corey Dickerson (June 8)
  • Devil Dogs – Joc Pederson for Jayson Werth (June 8)
  • Hit Bull Win Steak… – Bryce Harper for Corey Dickerson (June 8)