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Pack Your Bags, It’s Moving Day: Week 4 Derby Review

Well there’s been a few bullet worthy items in the past week of baseball that I neglected to find time to comment on. So here is the rapid fire:

  1. Jose Abreu belted his league leading 10th home run… and he’s a rookie. He only sits in Group D because of the unknown playing time in February with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko also available to man firstbase. But he’s definitely proving that he belongs in Group A, so if you have him this year, you won’t get such a great discount in 2015.
  2. The Brewers still remain #1 in the ESPN Power Rankings but that may change this week after Braun clocked Segura in the FACE before injuring himself on a bunt single.
  3. A lot of big names got injured: Bryce Harper, Mark Trumbo, Ryan Braun, Hanley Ramirez, and Chris Davis. Most of these guys are out for a while too, so keep tabs on their trade eligible dates for the Kings of Cork HR Derby.
  4. Brandon Marrow walked 8 batters, gave up 2 runs, and was pulled from his no-hitter (in the middle of the 3rd inning) on this past Saturday.
  5. Oh ya, and on Wednesday Michael Pineda got ejected for pine tar on his neck. He was accused of it in his first start a week earlier. So he either doesn’t understand what ‘subtle amount’ is or Pineda sweats pine tar… which would be the worst superhero power ever.

The first and third bullet points matter most to the Home Run Derby crew. One being positive for some of the owners, and the other being awful news for most of the owners. So let’s see how the best and the worst fared in this weeks breakdown of the Kings of Cork Standings.

Moving On Up:

    Meow moves up 47 spots

    Meow moves up 47 spots

    They say the top is lonely, so we will have to ask the owner of team Lil R on how lonely it is at the top because their team pretty much went wire-to-wire in the month of April. There are a few days left with about 4 teams to rival Lil R, but you are probably looking at the first winner of 2014 in the Kings of Cork HomeRun Derby. Even if it’s lonely, I bet it feels pretty good.

    Our biggest movers of week 4 belong to teams Meow and Crash Davis. Both of them moved up over 40 spots in the standings by belting 12 and 10 homers, respectively. And both of them can thank Jose Abreu (mentioned above) for half or almost half of the teams weekly home runs. Yes, Abreu hit 5 last week. Meow got even more help from Khris Davis (yes, with a ‘K’) and McCutchen with each of them contributing 3 in week 4. Not to be outdone, Crash Davis got 3 of their own from swing-and-miss Chris Carter.

    Again, there are some teams that are just ‘too good’ to be able to climb 40 spots in the standings but still require a shout out. The Big Stinkey (moved up 32) also hit 12 homers this past week, Mad about Abreu hit 11 homers and moved up 29, and long time player Kettle Poppers hit 11 homers resulting in a jump of 19 spots. What did they all have in common? Yep, Abreu again. And after another big start to week 5, they are all inside the top-15.

Moving On Out:

    Dawg Pound Loses 33 spots in week 4

    In with the good, out with the bad. Thankfully, no one laid a goose egg this week. But we did have 5 teams manage only a single tick on their home run totals: Lutherdad, The Little Stinkey, Golden Trouts, A little bit of baseball by my side, and Dawg Pound. Most of these teams didn’t have any significant injuries in week 4 to minimize their AB potential. But most of them now do with Harper looking at surgery in the up coming weeks. The biggest movers in the wrong direction were Dawg Pound losing 33 spots and A little bit of baseball losing 31 spots.

Don’t worry guys, April is almost over so you can’t lose too many more spots in the month and then everyone starts fresh for the month of May competition.

Good luck to the contenders in the month of April. And remember, the 2012 derby was won by the team that finished last in the month of April that season. So no team can be counted out yet.

See ya in May.

Baseball: An Adult’s Game???

Bob Lemon once said “Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”

This comment is oh so true to all professional sports. When it’s no longer a game and it’s your source of income, the priorities shift from having fun to making money. I think this is why I like Minor League games so much. They keep fans entertained with weird gimmicks. In between innings, they have some off-the-wall game where fans might have to roll kegs from first to third after spinning around a bat 30 times. Even teammates in the minors seem to have more fun. For instance, the entire Padres AAA affiliate had Jeff Francoeur believing his teammate Jorge Reyes was deaf. And this prank went on for days if not weeks before they finally told him. Seriously, watch that video in the last link. This is what baseball is supposed to be… a child’s game.

Why do I bring up the topic of Baseball being a children’s game? Because of all the commotion that the Brewers and Pirates bench clearing brawl has stirred up. Every year it’s like picking open an old scab. And similar to every year, everyone has to take sides and point fingers at who started it and who deserves what penalties and who got off too easy… blah, blah, blah.

Yes, I’m a major Brewers fan, but I’m not taking sides in this one over who started it. A verbal disagreement is one thing, but throwing punches deserves some form of penalty because these players are role models to kids. They shouldn’t be teaching the youth how to play the game of knockout. They should be teaching them how to play a game for entertainment and enjoyment.

What I will and am taking a side on is that the game of baseball is meant to be fun. It’s meant to entertain. Everyone is so uptight about other’s feelings and good sportsmanship that they have forgotten about the emotion and feelings of the individual player. No, I’m not advocating that players should go gloat in the opponents face. But let them have some fun out there. Let them enjoy themselves. If pitchers can fist pump after striking out a batter with the bases loaded or on the final out of a game after receiving a save, then batters should be able to admire how far their hits go (even if it doesn’t leave the park… Gomez). They should be able to make gestures back to their team’s dugout after a two RBI triple to take the lead in a game. They should even be able to have a team celebration after a walk off win (I still enjoyed the season the Brewers would untuck their jerseys rounding the bases after a walk off win). This isn’t poor sportsmanship. This isn’t disgracing the game’s forefathers. This is simply the players enjoying themselves. This is them letting their emotions for the game show.

And for crying out loud, let the batters do bat flips. This is one of my biggest desires in the game of Baseball for the entertainment. I mean look at these bat flips from Japan… It’s just FUN to watch.

So as I get down from my high horse, I leave you with one last quote:

“When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game” – Joe DiMaggio

Pack Your Bags, It’s Moving Day: Week 3 Derby Review

If you aren’t like me who is constantly monitoring score updates or watching multiple games with a sweet multi-screen setup in your basement, then don’t worry, I have all of your Kings of Cork Home Run Derby news over the last week wrapped up here in this small summary.

MLB Review Studio in NY

The goal here is to get your team mentioned in the ‘Moving On Up‘ portion and not in the ‘Moving On Out’ portion of the review. And if you are lucky and I’m feeling ambitious, you may get a sweet team name icon posted if your team traveled long distances in the Standings.

Moving On Up:

    Before I review the movements in week 3 of the Home Run Derby, I’d like to point out that ESPN has finally acknowledged the existence of a baseball team in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Brewers are #1 in the ESPN Power Rankings. That may be a first… ever. So I will enjoy it while it lasts (and so should all Brewer fans).

    Back to regularly scheduled programming…
    Again, we are still early in the season so A LOT of teams are bunched up in the standings which makes it fun to look at the +/- column every day. This week there were 8 teams who managed to jump 30+ spots in the ranks and all of them had more than 6 home runs in week 3. The biggest jumps belong to … but when I do, I Profar Dos Equis and our 2011 Champion What’s 5 bucks(both +37 with 6 homers), and the largest jump in week 3 of +40 spots with 7 homers goes to Mindock’s Claim Crushers who moved from 72nd to 32nd.

    Claim Crushers

    Claim Crushers

    Their team was lead by the Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes with 3 homers. Prince Fielder also woke up last week with his first 2 homers, and Freddie Freeman contributed another 2 homers in Group D (maybe he was grouped too low?!). Cespedes and Freeman also contributed to “The Most Interesting Team In The World” 6 home run, +37 week.

    Ruby In The Rockies

    Ruby In The Rockies

    Even though Claim Crushers had the largest jump, they didn’t hit the most homers in week 3. There were a lot of teams that hit 6 and even 7, but only one team managed to hit 8 big flies… Ruby In The Rockies. Their team was swinging for the fences lead by Justin Morneau’s 3 homers and Albert Pujols week leading 4 homers. Pujols now sits only 2 homers away from the elite 500 HR club which would make him only the 26th player to complete this feat. He’s definitely not starting cold this April like seasons past.

Moving On Out:

    And now for the dreaded moving on out awards for week 3… Thankfully, no one moved in the wrong direction as much as our Moving On Up leader did this week. But several came close.

    Five teams were caught moving more than 30 spots in reverse. At -30 spots, Let’s do Better this year! moved from 47th to 77th. At -34 spots, The Bryce is Wright fell from 27th to 61st. At -36 spots, Keeping up with the Joneses went from 50th to 86th and Bucky Ballers (last season’s champion) went from 38th to 74th.

    But the biggest move in the red for week 3 belonged to the team of Little Easy’s. They managed to go from 33rd to 70th by collecting only a single home run this past week. Their team wasn’t the only one to only muster up a single long ball. There were 13 other teams that also tallied only a single home run including 4 of the 5 teams listed thus far. But there are always teams that manage goose eggs every week. Keeping Up with the Joneses and LutherDad accepted the home run halos this week. The halos don’t mean you are eliminated from competition but it does mean you have a large climb ahead of you.

    Looking forward to another week of baseball in April and the weather is warming up which means one thing… more home runs.

HR Derby: Week 2 Review

A Home Run Derby review is long over due. These are the posts that you will find from time-to-time letting you know what you may have missed if you don’t compulsively check the standings every 5 minutes like me.

But regardless which team had the best weeks thus far, no one will have had as good of a week as this kid. He’s a Junior at a High School in New York and pitched his first varsity game two weeks ago… and it was Perfect. I mean Perfect Perfect. As in, 21 straight batters that were sat down due to a strikeout (only a 7-inning game if you couldn’t do the math). What a boring day at the other 7 positions in the field. You just watched two guys play catch for 2 hours. Very impressive… he’s in good company in this accomplishment with Clayton Kershaw.

So who had some of the best and worst weeks in the 2014 HR Derby thus far??? Well, the derby has started off slow for most because the big names just seem to be waiting for warmer weather. While the teams picking some of the younger and less popular players are thriving.

The leader after week 1 was Take me Yard you 5 with 7 homers and a 13.14 AB/HR rate and lead mainly by Mark Trumbo’s and Carlo Go-Go-Gomez’s quick starts.

Their team continued to fair OK in week 2 but relinquished the top spot to LIL R and their incredible 16 HR, 13.06 AB/HR rate. Again, lead by Trumbo, their team received help from Carlos Betlran in pin stripes and Jose Abreu’s multi-HR games in the windy city. Their team also had the most home runs in week 2 with 12.

Up Up Upton-away finished week 2 with the second most in the week with 11 and managed to jump 30 spots into the #3 spot just behind Mauer Power in 2nd who’s team hit 10 homers in week 2. Up Up Upton-away is lead by Albert Pujols… wait, what?! Yes, Pujols, who has 4 homers this season. While Mauer Power is lacking power from Mauer but Bautista and Trout are making up for it.

The team that led week 2 in the most spots jumped also has the name of the team that is the hottest in the MLB right now… BrewCrew. Their team jumped 59 spots from 74th to 15th. You have to love the early weeks which allow for that big of jumps in the standings. And they owe a thank you to Braun’s 3-HR night last week (go ahead, start the cheater chant).

Nana and Me had a strong week 2 as well; jumping from 65th place all the way to 8th. That’s a 57 spot jump. Thanks again to Braun and the red hot, two mechanical knees Chase Utley.

Unfortunately, somebody has to have a bad week if teams are having a good week. And there were three of them in week 2 that laid goose eggs: Taters, Break Even, and One Less Aramark Meal for Me. But none of those teams had the worst week in the standings. Shin-Soo-Who lost 56 spots from 25th to 81st and Team Biogenesis lost 48 spots from 2nd to 50th. Both of those teams managed to only hit 1 over the fence in week 2.

Those were the major stories in the first two weeks of the HR derby. Keep a look out for the next review (hopefully it’s before the month of April is over).

Pirates Poker: Back-to-Back 3 of a Kind

So are you sick of instant replay yet? I’m not… Ya, I miss the animated arguments between the umpires and managers. But overall, they have been fast and making the game’s outcome more accurate of the level of play. Plus, check out their setup in New York. Could you imagine this in your FanCave with every camera angle in every park?!

But what you won’t need Instant Replay to see is the craziness that occurred in the (suspended due to rain) Reds/Pirates game on April 14th. During the game, the Pirates became only the 3rd team in MLB history to hit three sets of back-to-back home runs as a team in a single game. And there are still 3-innings left in the game.

It’s the first time the feat has been completed since 1977 and the combo of Walker/Sanchez accounted for 2 of the 3 back-to-back round trippers. To add to the home run derby in Cincinnati, the Reds have four homers of there own. So there are currently a total of 10 home runs between both teams which is almost double the amount of home runs my team has in the home run derby. Maybe I should trade out my guys for the middle of the Pirates lineup. It definitely can’t hurt my team.

Cheers or Jeers for Cheaters?

So after a disappointing home opening series, the Brewers have take the NL Central by storm the last two series and that makes me HAPPY!

What upsets me is all this talk about ‘sending the wrong message for cheering for cheaters‘. What are Brewer fans suppose to do, boo every Ryan Braun appearance for the next 7 years? Sit in silence for more than 3000 at-bats?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want opposing fans to cheer for him. I wouldn’t expect them to. In fact, I hope they keep booing him because he seems to be feeding off of them. I know if A-Rod came to visit a stadium near me, I would probably let the adult beverages in me speak up and let A-Roid know what my subconscious feels.

I think a lot of the media and other baseball fans may be misinterpreting the standing ovation Braun received at the home opener. It was chilling to watch and hear the acceptance back to Milwaukee, but it wasn’t cheering for him being a cheater. It wasn’t Milwaukee saying ‘We forgive you for lying to us.’ The way I interpret the standing ovation and high-fives is ‘Welcome back, we support Braun for going clean and accepting responsibility for his actions’. That’s it.

What, like ESPN’s Jim Caple has never done anything wrong to gain himself in his line of practice?! Wouldn’t he expect his fans to support him or at least continue to read his BS articles.

Enough venting from me. I support and root for Braun’s contributions to the game going forward because I am a Brewers fan. Now time to go chat with every Philly fan about their outrageous accusations on Wednesday.

Kings of Cork Standings Upgrade

Updated April 10, 2014: The standings have been improved further by allowing detailed team expansion in the main standings view.

Here at Kings of Cork, The Commish is always trying to make the competition better as well as user experience.

So what did I improve in 2014??? Well, I obviously didn’t change any of the rules. But I will say that picking the teams this season has been the most difficult out of the 5 years I have hosted this competition and most have agreed with that statement. This lead to A LOT of teams gambling on the young stars this season (watch for a later post about pick distribution). But this is still not what I changed.

Nope, it’s another overhaul to the standings page. I got real sick of trying to find my team in among all the data I like to share with everyone. So this season, the standings are user interactive. That’s right, you get a say in how the standings are displayed. Less data is visible up front, so you won’t be overwhelmed by numbers. This allows you to sort the standings by any column header you choose (except daily performance).

Here’s a quick look:

    The standings sort by the current positions by default (the first column from the left).

    But by simply clicking on a column header, say ‘Team’ or ‘Manager’, and then the standings will sort alphabetically making your team easy to find (assuming you haven’t forgotten your last name).

    Or you can click on one of the Month Column headers and the standings will automatically show you who won or is leading that month. You will even notice that the AB/HR column changes to that month’s stats.

    What’s that? You want to know who each team picked as players. Don’t worry, I got you covered. Simply click on the team that you want to see. And voila. You can hide expanded teams by selecting them again or sorting a column header. Scroll to the bottom of the standings after selecting teams and there are the selected team’s players compared to the best team possible. Oh, you want to compare more teams… don’t worry, by holding the ‘Ctrl’ key while selecting teams in the standings allows you to compare up to 5 teams in the ‘Detailed Team View’ at the bottom of the page.

    Scroll Down Below to the ‘Detailed Team View’ Heading

I hope these updates make the standings a bit easier to use and understand. But I will apologize. I already know that some of the more severe firewalls and antivirus programs block the standings, but you will need to change some settings and allow the website to show the standings until I figure out a solution.

Billy Hamilton is…. FAST!!!

Ok so maybe that isn’t news to any of you. Based on all of this hype and the fact that he stole over 100 bases in a Minor League season… twice. He even holds the minor league record with 155 steals in a season. He is the next Vince Coleman.

But due to his horrible, awful, incredibly dismal start to 2014, he hasn’t been able to flash that speed…
Until today.

I mean, who tags up on a fly ball just over 2B, and is safe. I think I read somewhere he ran from a dead stop at 3B to home in 3.2 seconds. If we were having a Stolen Base Derby, Billy Hamilton would be the only choice in Group A.

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How To Lose $100K

So there are a few things that you should know about us here at Kings of Cork.

First, if there aren’t any new posts over a period of time, you can assume one of two things:

  1. I’m making behind the scene changes for an enhanced interface for HR Derby participants.
  2. Or, it’s really nice outside and I can’t stand sitting behind my laptop

Since it’s not nice outside, you can assume the first item is in effect currently, so look for an updated interface to the HR Derby Standings soon.

Second, I really like embedding links to hilarious or amazing videos/stories that aren’t always baseball related. So be sure to click the brown text in posts to find even more entertainment.

Third, my posts are biased towards the NL Central that I love. I try to cover a wide variety of teams, but I spend most of my time watching teams in the NL and AL Central. But just because I’m a Brewer fan doesn’t mean I can’t take a good joke about their performance or certain players.

Lastly, you rarely ever see me post about anything other than baseball except at the beginning of the season and the end of the season. And these posts are usually criticizing how much I hate basketball or football taking over the sports world.

BUT… this piece of news is too good to not talk about. So, out of the baseball world and into the NCAA tournament world we go. If you didn’t know, Quicken Loans and Warren Buffet offered up a Billion dollars to anyone who picked a perfect NCAA bracket. Well obviously you can imagine how well that went this year. Not a single bracket made it out of the round of 64. None! Heck, almost 84% of the entries didn’t even make it past game 1 where Ohio State lost (I’m included).

But even though there were no perfect brackets, they were still awarding $100K to the top 20 brackets submitted. And not too surprisingly, people actually picked UConn versus Kentucky in the finals. Typically, these people are alumni’s or local fans of one of the schools. And either their spouse, kid, nephew, parents, or someone they care about went to the other school. But for one unfortunate fan, he forgot to pick the winner of tonight’s Final Game. Yes, he was in 4th place overall prior to the game. But regardless of which team wins tonight, he goes home with the same amount of money I did… $0. I wonder what happens if the game just ends in a tie because all players foul out? So maybe Corey still has a chance… I do know one thing, he will never forget to pick a champion ever again.

Opening Day(s) Snafus

Wow, you guys (and gals) are really on top of your game this season. It only took 1 day for someone to notice my inability to spell players’ names correctly which totally scrambled the standings. It probably helped that it was a Brewer home run that wasn’t showing up since we have so many Brewer fans keeping tabs on the Home Run Derby.

That’s not where the credit ends for this group of baseball fans. Within a matter of 3 days, I’ve received more recommendations for sharing certain baseball stories than I have received in the past 5 years. I really enjoy getting recommendations for posting and sharing with everyone else, whether the recommendations make it into a full blown story or just an embedded link. Such as this great photo and story of Hank the Dog enjoying some Miller Park hot dogs.

Or this great Twins clubhouse prank for March Madness. And this unbelievable photo of Andrew Cashner’s magnificent hairdo. So, keep those links coming into The Commish’s inbox.

But let’s talk about the two under performing teams in the NL East and how they may have lost even more fans on opening day.

Mets Opening Day Is A Circus… Literally

    What should have been a short trip to the park for most New Yorkers, turned into an opening day nightmare. With the Cirque Du Soleil eating up Citi Field’s parking lot, fans spent HOURS weaving in and out around the stadium trying to find a place to park. And most of them didn’t make it into the stadium to see the opening pitch, which is why the game looked so empty in the first inning like a college football student section still pregaming at kickoff.

    What was the Mets organization thinking? Did they forget the traveling circus was in town? Were they confused when fans called the 2013 Mets a giant circus? Did they think Ike Davis could be the next bearded lady? I’m just dumbfounded on what the Citi Field scheduler was doing the day they booked the circus for Opening Day, or the same weekend, or whatever.

    I would be livid if that happened to me at an opening day. Granted, if it were Brewer Opening Day, I would be on a Bar bus to a huge tented tailgate with leftover St.Patty’s Day kegs (or at least in the parking lot 5 hrs before the game started for tailgating). But seriously, if I were a Mets fan, I would be thinking twice before going back for another live game. Sitting at home, with cold beer in the fridge, and better than front row seats on TV, sounds a WHOLE LOT better than sitting in traffic with tickets listening to the first 100 pitches on the radio.

Marlins Ownership Is Clueless On Running A Business

    So how can a team screw up worse than the Mets on opening day? Let’s take a look at the team that’s well known for their ‘spend a ton, then fire sale’ management style and what the ownership was saying about his ‘loyal’ fans. That’s right I’m talking about the Miami Marlins. Yes the same Marlins that just built a new stadium yet averages just over 19,000 fans per game. The same team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 (although their record is currently a winning one). The same one that hasn’t won 70 games in either of the past 2 seasons. How Miami still has a team just baffles me (although not as baffling as Tampa Bay who has a winning team but a lower attendance than Miami).

    What’s really confusing is how they have any fans at all after the team president keeps making certain comments to the public. My favorite in the past few months was in his publicized Survivor biography where he states, “Personal Claim to Fame: Got local government in Miami to contribute over 350 million dollars to a new baseball park during the recession.” WHAAAAAAAAAT?!

    Who would say a thing like that? Oh, I know, the same guy that accuses his own fans… his customers… for poor transportation planning, for slow concession lines, for being fans. Has he never been in business before? I even know the saying ‘The Customer is always right’. It doesn’t mean they are right, but give the fans/customers the respect and gratitude for being fans of a horrible team. Take accountability for not expecting 35,000 fans when your average is 19,500 fans. Lesson learned? Probably not because he obviously learned nothing on the 3 days he was on Survivor this year.