Making a Baseball Connection to the Seahawks Fateful Decision

January 29, 2015 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

January 29, 2015 – Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Being a lifelong Seattle sports fan, I was as perplexed as the rest of America on the infamous 2nd down and 1 call during the final moments of the Super Bowl.  Do you put the ball in your best player’s hands to finish the biggest game of the season or do you try to use the element of surprise?  Unfortunately for Hawk fans, we all know how that line of thought worked out.  One yard would have vaulted a team from just another Super Bowl winner to the all-time great conversation.  Instead history would be decided by squeezing a quick slant into coverage to of all people Ricardo Lockette.  A guy best known as a special teams gunner and getting into a bit of a sticky situation with Colin Kapernick in the offseason.

What could have been going through the mind of Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator?  Why wasn’t someone imploring them to use the KISS method of thinking (Keep it Simple Stupid)? It’s all water under the bridge now, but it wasn’t the first or last time that someone in a critical situation will try to get “too cute” or out think themselves.

Take the job of any closer in baseball.  The last three outs are without a doubt the most difficult to get.  So much is riding on each pitch to finish off the contest.  Because of that, the phrase don’t get beat by your second, third or fourth best pitch comes into play. I am taking some leeway with that saying, but you get the point.  If a hitter is going to beat you, make him beat you with your best.

The elite closers over the years always had something special about them.  Mariano’s cutter, Hoffman’s change up, and now Kimbrel’s fastball, all of those guys use their best in the most critical situations.  On the rare occasion when their best wasn’t good enough at least they could put their head on the pillow knowing the other team earned it.

Pete Carroll looked down at his playbook and saw his best pitch (Lynch), shook it off and decided to go away from it.  That may be ok in the 2nd quarter of a regular season game, but it’s not ok to close out a championship moment.   

Ask Mark Wohlers if he would like to have the cement mixer he threw to Jim Leyritz back in the 1996 World Series.  His previous pitch was a 99 MPH fastball and the announcer was expecting the next pitch to hit triple digits.  If Leyritz had caught up to his blistering heat, then tip your cap and move on.

So is life, so is sports.  Seattle fans, me included, will have to get over it in our own way and in our own time.  Just don’t expect to find us anywhere near a TV as they replay the final moments over and over again.

K-Rod rejoining Brewers

sportstalkflorida.com

sportstalkflorida.com

The Milwaukee Brewers have re-signed relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to a two-year deal with a team option for a third season.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the total value of the deal is $13 million. The contract pays Rodriguez $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016 and the remaining $4 million is deferred. In 2014 Rodriguez made 69 appearances for Milwaukee, saving 44 games and posting a 3.04 earned run average as a National League All-Star.

The move ends the rumors of the Brewers making a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon, and leaves Rafael Soriano as the biggest name in relief pitching still available on the free agent market. For Milwaukee, it not only solidifies their closer role but all the other roles in their bullpen as well. It also means that other teams who were courting Rodriguez will have to go in other directions for the roles that he would have played for them.

For the Miami Marlins, for whom Rodriguez most likely would have filled a setup role for closer Steve Cishek, that setup job will now be more of an open competition between the likes of A.J. Ramos, Aaron Crow and Bryan Morris. The Toronto Blue Jays were also rumored to be in the mix, and for them it looks like Brett Cecil will be the favorite to retain the closer job.

Rodriguez should be able to reproduce his 2014 numbers if given the opportunity. Being in position to get saves will require the Brewers to hand the ball to him with a late lead, however. At the least, Milwaukee has solidified the roles that all of their bullpen pieces will enter 2015 occupying, and that makes getting ready for the season easier.

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Future unclear for Josh Hamilton

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times broke the story about Josh Hamilton meeting with officials at the league offices about an undisclosed disciplinary issue. Later in the day, Ken Rosenthal sent out a tweet that added another dimension to the discussion.

worseThe 33-year-old outfielder has a history of substance abuse, which nearly ended his career. Hamilton was able to overcome those issues and put together three stellar seasons with the Texas Rangers that garnered him the 2010 American League MVP and the lucrative deal that he currently has with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Although nothing has been confirmed or denied by the Angels, Hamilton, his agent or the league, it has been speculated by many sources that Hamilton has suffered a relapse, specifically using cocaine. If that is the case, then this creates a unique situation.

 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images North America

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images North America

Hamilton’s case is unique because he will be treated as a first-time offender under the current collective bargaining agreement. The first offense of abuse of illegal drugs does not carry a specific punishment that is required to be administered. It is likely that Hamilton will have to enter the league’s rehabilitation program and Rosenthal further reported that he will probably be suspended for 25 games. Hamilton was already expected to possibly miss most of spring training because of shoulder surgery.

It’s quite possible that the Angels could be without him for some time, and that means Collin Cowgill and Matt Joyce will probably both get good, long looks in left field for the Halos. However, this situation is bigger than baseball.

Unfortunate situations like this arise too frequently, but the very dim silver lining is that they remind those of us in the media and spectators that underneath the cap and uniform is a human being. Those who have careers in professional baseball may be able to perform seemingly god-like feats on the diamond that mere mortals could never replicate, but they are not immune to the frailty and vices of humanity.

The top priority for Hamilton right now should be on resolving this off-the-field issue, no matter what it is. Even if he isn’t suspended, that’s where Hamilton’s focus should be for the indefinite future. All of us at Outside Pitch wish him the best as he tries to put this situation behind him and hope that he lives many more productive years, whether that involves baseball or not.

Follow Derek Helling on Twitter and like him on Facebook

Hiring of Ramirez exposes hypocrisy of Rose ban

A move was made yesterday in Major League Baseball that went relatively undiscussed as opposed to other transactions that occurred this off-season. The implications of it are intriguing, despite its lack of controversy at face value.

Manny RamirezThe Chicago Cubs hired Manny Ramirez, of former Boston Red Sox lore, as a hitting consultant. The former big-league outfielder was a laughable defender, playing up his fielding ability as comically terrible like a Michael Bay-directed movie. The guy could always hit, however. If he can teach the Cubs’ young sluggers to replicate the proficiency at the plate that he demonstrated over 19 seasons, the return will be well worth the team’s investment.

The fact that makes this story interesting is that Ramirez used substances that are on MLB’s banned list during his career, was caught and suspended on two separate occasions. Now just four years after his second suspension, he is working in baseball again. While he won’t be stepping into the batter’s box, he will have influence on several players who will.

Meanwhile, MLB’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, goes unknown to a whole generation of young fans because he is under a life-time ban. The marketing people from the league say that they want to increase offense in the game, while the man who maybe more than anyone else alive is qualified to teach people how to hit is barred from doing so. He bet on baseball. He lied about it. No one is disputing those facts, not even Rose.

This isn’t about equating using banned substances to gambling. That’s too subjective of an argument to have. This is about that exact issue: subjectivity. How does baseball justify letting Ramirez work in the industry while simultaneously preventing Rose from doing the same thing? How does baseball balance out a 100-game suspension for getting caught with banned substances a second time, and a lifetime ban for placing bets and trying to cover it up, as punishments that fit the crimes in both cases? Perhaps more importantly, why is no one in the industry asking these questions?

Perhaps someday Rose will be reinstated, perhaps not. What’s clear is that every time a player who was suspended during his career gets a job in the industry, the ban on Rose will seem a little more out of place.

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Tigers re-sign Joba Chamberlain

Getty Images

Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers have re-signed pitcher Joba Chamberlain to a 1 year deal worth $1 million plus incentives, tweets Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Chamberlain’s incentives are $100,000 for his 35th, 40th, 45th, 50th, and 55th appearance of the year, and if he somehow becomes the first middle reliever to win the Cy Young Award, he will get an additional $100,000.

Last year with the Tigers, Chamberlain went 2-5 with two Saves and a 3.57 ERA, 1.286 WHIP in 69 games, throwing 63 innings, striking out 59 batters and walking 24 batters.

He was much more efficient in the 1st half of the year. In the 1st half of the season, Chamberlain had a 2.63 ERA, a 1.142 WHIP, and a 3.33 K/BB ratio. In the 2nd half, Chamberlain had a 4.97 ERA, 1.500 WHIP and a 1.58 K/BB ratio.

His biggest disaster happened in the 2014 ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. In his two relief appearances in Games 1 and 2, he faced 6 batters and retired only one. He allowed Five runs, four earned, in just 0.1 innings for a 108.00 postseason ERA.

Nevertheless, for $1 million + low incentives and in need of more bullpen help, this seems like a solid signing for the Tigers who are hoping his first half performance repeats itself for the entire 2015 season

Marlins pitcher Latos takes stab at Reds

When the Cincinnati Reds traded Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins this offseason, I for one, was disappointed. Latos is a solid pitcher who had a great couple of seasons with the Reds. On Sunday, while speaking with Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal (story here), Latos had some strong words about his time with the Cincinnati Reds. Latos criticized the Reds Medical staff for rushing players back too soon, including himself and also took a shot at the leadership once Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo left.

Mat Latos (www.therepublic.com

Mat Latos (www.therepublic.com)

I have always been a fan of Latos and truly appreciated what he brought to this Reds ballclub. The problem now lies with how Latos handled this interview. He now comes across as a player who is just upset that he is gone from a team and will do anything he can to get back at them. In other words, acting like a teenager. Reds players have handled his interview perfectly. They aren’t letting his words bother them and affect their spring.

They shouldn’t.

The words were spoken by a player who is no longer with the team. A player who has been gone for a couple of months. The Reds are just going about their business and brushing it off, as well they should. However, with words from a former player blasting numerous aspects of your organization, including the clubhouse leadership, how will that help this club moving forward? Sure the players are just brushing it off as if it’s nothing, but will they rally around something like this? In some instances like this, teams rally around things like this. For Reds fans and management alike, they hope for the same.

I do wish Mat Latos the best of luck in Miami and hopefully he will get paid, like he deserves to be. He will certainly add some swagger to that Marlins clubhouse, I just wish he would have handled this situation a little better.

Rangers pick up option on Beltre, get bad news on Profar

MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay RaysThe Texas Rangers will be without their former top prospect for a second straight season, but have secured the services of third baseman Adrian Beltre through the end of the 2016 season.

Jurickson Profar had season-ending surgery on his torn labrum yesterday. He missed all of 2014 due to injury, and the time table for recovering from this procedure is nine months. It could be as much as a year before he is ready to resume baseball activity full-time. While Profar does have youth on his side at 22, the development time that he has missed can’t be replaced. At some point Texas may have to chalk it up to bad luck and move on. Profar got into 32 games for the Rangers in 2013, making 16 starts at shortstop.

In other news around Texas’ infield, the team has exercised its option for 2016 on Beltre. Beltre will make $18 million in 2016, at which point he will be nearing 37 years of age. The product of the Dominican Republic has career averages of .285/.337/.479 and is entering his 18th big-league season. In 2014 he was an All-Star for the fourth time and won his third Silver Slugger, starting 136 games at third base for the Rangers.

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Introduction to Daily Fantasy Sports:Bankroll Management (part4)

judas-priest-electric-eyeIt is that time of year when rookies and grizzled veterans alike make their way to either Arizona of Florida to begin the long process of getting into shape for yet another grueling campaign. After all, to most pure baseball fans, the day that pitchers and catchers report is the ‘true’ day of the start of a new season. ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ is the old saying where every man, woman and child have the slate wiped clean. The same can be applied to the folks who play Daily Fantasy Sports. Long gone are the bad beats of winter where you may have lost a GPP on a last second foul shot, or maybe a game ending field goal, or even worse, watching your players all get minuses as they give up that empty net goal. Yes, we’ve all been there. The question is, how do you deal with it? There are many articles across the industry that deal with bankroll management and in this segment I will try to help you find your way through the murky waters of the DFS industry.

The first thing you must realize is that, although DFS is considered a ‘skill game’, it has many of the same attributes associated with gambling. Over the past few years I have seen many players come and go. The ones that stay usually have a good plan or deep pockets. Below you will find the characteristics to three types of players. It will be interesting to see which one you, as a player, fit into.

The Grinder:

The basic idea of this type of player is to use no more than 10 percent of your bankroll on any given night. That is the number used in most articles across the industry as the right amount to play. The grinder plays 85% of the money in play in cash games, which are your head to head games, 50/50 games and small 3-10 player games. He will then play the remaining 15% in large tournaments, or as they call it in the industry, GPP’s. What he is trying to do is win at least 65% of the time in his cash games. By attaining this level, he can basically use his cash profits to enter the GPP’s. For example, say he starts with $1,000. The first night he will put $100 in play, $85 into cash games and $15 into GPP’s. Whatever the result, it is important that the next night, he play 10% again. This will ensure the player that he will not only be able to sustain a few bad nights, but keep money in play as well without depositing every week.

The Mixologist:

The mixologist can be recognized in one or two forms, and sometimes both. The first form he takes on is the player who switches up strategies in midstream. He knows his regular strategy will work, but constantly deviates from it. For example, if his strategy is always taking good hitters and mediocre pitchers, after a few nights of losing, he changes it up to playing stud pitchers and mediocre hitters. There is nothing wrong with this if you are trying to figure out what strategy is best for you, but to change it up after a couple of bad nights is ridiculous. Good bankroll management will help you through the rough patches. The second form he takes on is the player that changes his ‘money in play ‘ allocation. This will usually happen when the player loves his line up and thinks ‘I can crush everyone tonight’ or if he has just placed highly in a GPP. There is a certain feeling, almost godlike, after one wins a GPP. The feeling is such a rush that it actually fools you into thinking you can do this every night. The mixologist soon learns that is not the case and will turn to the ‘deposit funds’ link quicker than ‘the grinder’ will.

The Gambler:

We may all recognize this type of player. ‘The Gambler’ is the type of player who starts to double down after a losing night. Doubling down then turns into going all in. All in then turns into depositing every week. While the gambler will get lucky once in a while, over the long run he will find he is on the wrong side of the balance sheet. As you can imagine ‘the gambler’ loses a lot more than both the mixologist and the grinder.

Hopefully this article has given you a few things to think about. We can think all we want, but the bottom line is, not many can make a living playing DFS. Not only do you need to know the ins and outs of the industry, but a bankroll to match. Look at any major tournament, they are filled with multi players having multi entries. Imagine the bankroll you need to night after night go at it like a wild banshee. Most players would bust out and usually do. After all is said and done the bottom line is this, just like gambling, do not play more than you can afford. That is probably the best advice you will receive all year. Yes, it is your money to do as you wish, so if you want to be like the grinder and then all of a sudden want to throw a few thousand on a site and play, so be it. Chalk it up to a night at the casino. Your odds  may be a little better than the casino but all in all, it is still a risk.

-Tom Woollam

Follow me on twitter here.

Boston lands Moncada, enriches system

Yoan-MoncadaThe Boston Red Sox have won the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, inking the 19-year-old Cuban prospect to a contract pending a physical, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

Sanchez reports that making this deal is going to cost Boston about $60 million. With that price tag, it’s obvious that the Red Sox don’t view Moncada as a project, but rather as a player than can make an impact within a short time frame. Moncada has recently played all around the infield, logging games at second base, shortstop and third base. Some scouts also see corner outfield as a potential option for him as well. The question then becomes, where will Moncada play?

The first option that comes to mind is that Boston has secured an heir apparent to Dustin Pedroia at second base, but Pedroia is signed through 2021. It’s unlikely that the Red Sox would spend this much money to secure Moncada and then leave him toiling in Triple-A for six seasons. Third base is held down by recent acquisition Pablo Sandoval, signed through 2019 with a team option for 2020. Shortstop is currently manned by Xander Bogaerts, who you would think the club isn’t ready to give up on just yet, but is probably the most feasible of all the infield options. As far as the corner outfield spots go, left field seems more of a possibility considering Hanley Ramirez‘s age and health. Right field seems to have been reserved as proving ground for Mookie Betts.

Moncada’s defensive versatility and the Red Sox’s investment in him will probably have him seeing the bigs sooner rather than later. Exactly where depends largely on the health and performance of those ahead of him in the system.

There’s a new Upton in Atlanta, sort of

BJ UptonThe Atlanta Braves outfielder formerly known as B.J. Upton has announced that he will go by his given name henceforth.

His given name is Melvin Emmanuel, which makes him a name sake of his father. Upton has dropped the B.J. in favor of his given first name and will add the suffix “Jr.” to his last name. B.J. was also a tribute to his father, Emmanuel. Emmanuel was nicknamed the “Bossman” and from that the nickname “Bossman Jr.” was derived for Melvin.

Perhaps this will be the thing that helps Melvin regain the All-Star form he displayed in several seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. Over the past two seasons in Atlanta, he has been far from Bossman caliber. If not, then at the very least it’s a nice tribute to his father.

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