Where To Watch Indians Versus Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays come into Cleveland fresh off their 163rd regular season game, which was a do-or-die style game that mimics the Wild Card game that takes place tonight.  The Rays used up ace David Price in that game, so they’ll have to go with the youngster Alex Cobb tonight.

The Indians, on the other hand, come into the game piping hot.  They haven’t lost since September 18; rattling off 10 straight wins during that span.  The last team to do that was the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, who ended up making it all the way to game 7 of the World Series.

The first pitch is at 8:07 PM (ET) and the game airs on TBS. It’s going to be a great game, and you can locate where to watch the Cleveland Indians vs. the Tampa Bay Rays in any city by using the WhereToWatch search tool above.

The Race is On: Is MLB’s New Playoff Format Good For Baseball?

With a month left in the Major League season, only two of the six divisions have pennant races that are within three games, the AL Central (White Sox and Tigers) and the NL West (Giants and Dodgers).  Thanks to baseball’s newest playoff format though, both leagues have heated wild card races that should make for an exciting finish to the regular season.  The wild card race in the AL currently has two teams (Oakland and Baltimore) tied for the final spot with Detroit just one game out.  In the NL, Atlanta holds the top spot with the Cardinals right behind them holding on to the final spot by half a game over the Dodgers.  The Pirates are also just one game out of the final spot. 

If you haven’t noticed, Major League Baseball has moved to a new playoff format–the first big change since the inception of the wild card team back in 1995.  The new format now allows for an additional team to make the post-season as a second wild card.  Both wild card teams will then have a one-game playoff to see who advances to the next round, which is the usual five-game first-round series.  A close pennant race is what the executives at Major League Baseball wanted, and adding another team in the post-season mix does the trick.  The likelihood of having some last-day finishes to begin baseball’s October season is almost a sure thing at this point. 

Pennant races like 2011’s final day will be more of a common occurrence from now on in Major League Baseball.  For those who have forgotten, Tampa Bay and St. Louis clinched post-season births on the final day of regular season.  The Rays came back to beat Boston, knocking them out, and the Cardinals edged out the Braves who ended the year on a five game slide.  The excitement created from that final day is what Major League Baseball hopes to accomplish by expanding the playoff format. 

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves currently hold the top Wild Card spot in the National League, and are prime contenders for one of the two wild card spots based on MLB’s new playoff format.

Those opposed feel the accomplishment of a long and successful regular season is being taken away.  The argument has some merit, seeing that a team who squeezes into one of the wild card spots just has to win one game to advance a round further.  Not win three games or five games, but just one.  With that said, the players are undoubtedly happy with the prospect of more teams in the postseason.  I’m sure there are some Hall of Famers thinking, “If only they had the wild card back when I played….”  The 1961 Detroit Tigers for instance, won 101 games but finished second to the Yankees who won 109 that year.  Historically divisions were not established until 1969 in MLB, so prior to that year, if you were in first, you made the World Series.

Although the regular season as a whole is slightly less important, the new playoff format has made winning the division in baseball all the more significant.  Division winners are guaranteed the five-game series prior to the League Championship Series, while both wild card winners will play in the one game playoff.  Plus, the division winning temas can be sure that the two wild card teams will pitch their aces against each other and won’t hesitate to hold anything back.  That means division winners will have the advantage from the outset–they can pitch their number 1 guy in game 1, while the wild card winner won’t likely be able to start their top pitcher until game 4. 

Clutch hits, top-notch pitching, and managerial chess matches will all be part of the playoff fun come October.  The new playoff format is an overall positive gain for baseball fans across the country.  All fans want close division finishes and the last month of the season should offer plenty of it. 

By: Craig Emmert

The Ridiculous “Unwritten” Rules of Baseball

There is a single sport with an “unwritten” set of rules that must be followed at all costs, at all times (before and immediately after games), and by all players: baseball.  If any of these rules are violated, the opposing team is somehow justified at throwing at the lead-off batter in the FOLLOWING game.  Yes, the next game. 

Aroldis Chapman broke the unwritten rule of showing up the other team after doing something good. The Reds "old school" manager Dusty Baker didn't like it either.

If they do not play the next day, it may come in the next series (which may be months away).  If an NBA player, let’s say Metta World Peace, picks up an intentional foul 35 seconds into Game 2 due to a player’s celebration after Game 1–say after a big play–MWP would probably be fined and potentially suspended depending on the level of the foul.  I couldn’t even imagine what Roger Goodell would do to a player.  But if a pitcher, say A-Roll-dis (accent on roll) Chapman, makes a fool of himself after the final pitch on Tuesday night, it is accepted that somebody gets hit tomorrow.  But baseball doesn’t stop there. 

It is a crime for a batter to cross over the pitcher’s mound after making an out.  Where else does this occur?  Does anyone in the NFL give a crap about how a receiver trots back to the huddle after a dropped pass (providing it is not through the defensive huddle).  The jawing between teams never stops in the NBA.  Hell, hockey players fist fight. Legally!

 In baseball, it is absolutely impermissible for a player on second base to look at the catcher flashing signs in his crotch.  Assistant football coaches stare across the sidelines for 60 minutes.  Basketball coaches are studying an opposing team’s play calls ahead of tip-off, and its called defensive preparation.  Does a league exist, worldwide, in which opposing teams attempt to intercept in-game communication?  Human beings have employing that strategy since the first battlefield skirmish; the military calls it intelligence.  But in baseball, that is cheating my friends. 

You must not make noise while running the bases in an attempt to distract a fielder.   As previously stated, the talking never stops in the NBA.  Basketball fans will come up with endless distractions to opposing players at the stripe.  NFL players are notorious for talking, not to mention the stuff that goes on at the bottom of a dog-pile… in the 4th quarter… of a playoff game.  The home crowd stands up and roars for fourth and goal from the 2.  

Never, ever try to time the pitcher from the on-deck circle.  Never try to guess which way a keeper may dive for a penalty kick.  Don’t try to time a blitz. NFL coaches take time-outs an instant before a ball is snapped for a game winning field goal… doesn’t always work. 

I will give partial credit to the legitimacy of one of these “unwritten” rules: stealing when up big and late in the game.  If a team is up 7, and it is in the 3rd inning, run all day.  If a team is up 11 and it is in the 8th inning, just see if you can knock them in.  To me, this is like pulling your starters in basketball.  I get it, be a pro and don’t rub it in their face.  But that is the only one.  The bottom line is that baseball’s “unwritten” rules are ridiculous.  Just play the damn game and worry about the score.

Did I leave out any of these ridiculous rules?  Are there any that you cannot stand?  Think I’m an idiot?  You gonna throw at me?

By: Dru Boyer

The Fan “Foul Ball” Rule: Entitlement to Souvenirs That Land in the Crowd

Foul balls, homeruns, bats, sweat bands, and even shoes often times find their way into the crowd one way or another. But when these sports souvenirs make their way into the realm of the fan, who do they belong to? Is the item fair game for all fans, or are there rules regarding which fans should have precedent over the item? I’ve often pondered this question when a foul ball lands in the stands and everyone expects the man who grabbed it to hand it to the kid sitting in front of him. 

The video below is an extreme example of this situation.  It happened this weekend when Packer’s wide receiver Donald Driver tossed his gear into the stands after a charity softball game.  Near the end of the video, a woman now identified as Robyn Ereth, wrestles a cleat away from a young boy wearing a Packer’s jersey.  Check it out.

Update: The video has been taken down, but can be seen here

This video brings the issue of souvenir items to the forefront and begs the question: Should there be “unwritten rules” between fans for items that make their way into the crowd?  Here, the shoe was tossed in the woman’s general direction, even though Driver later tweeted that the shoe was intended for the kid.  In her defense, the kid made an agressive move on the cleat that looked to be tossed directly at her, so I could see how the woman would think it was fair game.  But snatching it out of a kid’s hands is a bit much.  Currently, Ereth is being ripped apart in the media for her actions, but is this the correct reaction? 

The most common occurrence of this situation is the foul ball.  I see grown men going after foul balls pretty aggressively in almost every baseball game I watch. Often, there’s a kid or woman who gets bumped or knocked out of the way.  And when a kid is involved, everyone always expects the person to hand the ball to the kid. If this doesn’t happen, you can guarantee the “boo birds” will come out.  Is this the way it should be?  If so, who should take precedent in situations like this.  Should all kids have dibs on items over adults? What about when an item appears to be thrown right at you?  What about men over women?  What if, like above, it’s an adult woman and a male kid? We need some rules!

This also brings up the question about entitlement to valuable objects that reach fanland between the players and fans, such as Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, which happened to be a homerun.  The man who caught the ball gave it up without a blink in exchange for some jerseys and other memorabilia. The fan simply said “Mr. Jeter deserved it,” even though experts estimate that the ball would have fetched upwards of $180,000.  Obviously, this was the classy thing to do, but would anyone have blamed him for taking the cash and selling to the highest bidder? Legally the ball is his, but just like the man who picks up a foul ball near a kid, keeping the souvenir is rarely the most popular thing to do. In these situations, it would be much easier if, like the players, the fans had some rules of our own. 

As you can see, fans have a few unanswered questions that we need to sort out.  What do you think, should there be ”foul ball” rules between fans?  Or are souvenirs that make it into the crowd a Darwinistic “every fan for himself” type of situation? The best suggestions will make it into a follow-up post in the coming weeks. 

By: Todd Davis

The Essence of the 3,000 Hit Club

The 3,000 hit milestone is probably one of the greatest career milestones a major league hitter can reach.  Throughout Major League Baseball history, only twenty-eight players have reached 3,000 hits and all but three of them are already inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.  Pete Rose, who is currently banned from the Hall of Fame for life due to his betting on the game, is MLB’s all-time hits leader with 4,256 hits.  Rose and Ty Cobb are the only two players to reach the seemingly untouchable 4,000 hit milestone.  Derek Jeter, the lone active player in this elite club, is currently ranked 17th with 3,144 hits. By year’s end, he should move up to the 12th spot passing Eddie Murray with 3,255 hits.  Most players on this famed list played twenty years or more in the big leagues.  Three players including Derek Jeter, Wade Boggs, and Roberto Clemente played eighteen seasons in the big leagues.  Jeter is still going strong for the Yankees, and had Clemente not died in a plane crash after reaching the milestone, he would’ve definitely had more hits than the eerily exact number of 3,000 that he finished with.

If he stays healthy, Alex Rodriguez should reach 3,000 hits sometime next season. But, with his admitted steroid use, this milestone may not guarantee A-Rod a spot in the HOF.

Given baseball’s problem with performance enhancing drugs, active players that reach the 3,000 hit milestone could have an asterisk next to their name based on known or suspected use of steroids.  Barry Bonds, MLB’s all-time home run king, finished his career with 2,935 hits.  Bonds, as well as active player Alex Rodriguez who currently has 2,817 hits, have been associated with the use of performance enhancing drugs.  Drug use aside, the oldest active player edging toward the milestone is Omar Vizquel (45 years old), who currently has 2,843 hits and plays for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Based on Vizquel’s status as back-up utility infielder, he’ll probably never join the club, but A-Rod should reach the milestone by next season if he stays injury free.

Longevity is the biggest factor in reaching the 3,000 hit milestone.  If a player plays for twenty seasons, (a long professional career) and gets 150 hits per season, they would reach it.  Ichiro Suzuki had 200 hits in ten consecutive seasons (2001-2010) which was a MLB record.  He currently has 2,473 hits which would be higher if he played his entire career in the U.S.  Fifteen seasons of 200 hits would get a player to the 3,000 hit milestone. That’s a lot of 200 hit seasons and since Ichiro’s ten consecutive was unheard of, it usually takes at least sixteen or more season.  Ty Cobb made it to 3,000 hits faster than any player, doing it in 2,135 games, which equates to 13.17 seaons.  That’s a lot of two-hit games! Cobb also reached the milestone in 8,093 at bats, tops in that category as well. 

The next time you’re watching an MLB game and a franchise player goes 3-4 or 4-5, think about their career and if they will reach the 3,000 hit milestone.  It may take some time, a little bit of luck, and a lot of swings, but it is reachable, not to mention a sure-fire way to get into the Hall of Fame. A-Rod (2,817), Johnny Damon (2,733), and Ichiro (2,477) are the closest active players that can reach the milestone, not counting Chipper Jones (2,646) and Omar Vizquel (2,843) who plan to retire at the end of the season. So for a number of players in today’s game, we could see history happening pretty soon. 

By: Craig Emmert