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Archive for the ‘Long form’ Category

Ray Lewis

In Football, Long form on January 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Ray Lewis’s playing career could end Sunday. Crim Del Harris examines Lewis’s accomplishments, shortcomings and his legacy in Baltimore.

Ray Lewis will likely play his last game in Baltimore Sunday. The locals will rush to claim him as one of their own, a native son of Baltimore. They are wrong. Ray Lewis, the greatest middle linebacker of the 21st century, was never Baltimore. He was a greatness that knows no geographical boundaries. Ravens fans never cheered for Lewis because he represented the spirit of a city. They cheered for him because they never got to cheer for Tom Brady. They cheered for him because it was better than cheering for Corey Dillon.

In truth, many fans had stopped cheering lately. Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will likely set decibel records in Baltimore that will mask an inglorious end to Lewis’s playing career. Two steps slow and seemingly forever behind in coverage, the linebacker often resembled a rooted oak conspicuously decaying in the modern NFL. Read the rest of this entry »

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NLCS Game 7 Diary: The Quest for Peace

In Baseball, Long form on October 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Like modern-day Romans and Carthaginians, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

—Pregame

IB: I shouldn’t be greedy. I should appreciate 2011 for what it was: an amazing, beautiful and unexpected gift. I should be thankful that I’ve seen not one, but two World Series Championships come to St. Louis — some teams play for decades without winning the last game of the season. I should be content, but 2011 was a year ago, this is a different team and I am spoiled. To quote the Smiths: Please, please, please let me get what I want.

The Cardinals and the Giants are in the same position: win or go home. Thus far, the NLCS has been a lopsided affair. Yes, the series is tied 3-3, but five of the six games have been relative blowouts — in Games 2, 3, 5 and 6, the losing team has been kept to one run or less. Accordingly, it’s interesting that Game 7 looks like it could be a pitcher’s duel. Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 6 Diary: The Wrath of Khan

In Baseball, Long form on October 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Like modern-day Yorks and Lancasters, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

—Pregame—

There is no joy in Mudville, Mo. after a drubbing by the San Francisco Giants in Game 5. Meanwhile, San Franciscans haven’t been this happy since Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery saved the city from a nuke-wielding Ed Harris.

The Game

Ryan Vogelsong shuts the Cardinals down again, blazing his fastball (of all things) past St. Louis hitters. The Cardinals, meanwhile, do their best Washington Generals impression, giving up a four-run second inning.

SCUTARO: I’ve done far worse than kill you, Carpenter. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead infield… buried alive! Buried alive…!

CARPENTER: KOZMAAAAAAAAAA!

Final Score: Giants 6, Cardinals 1— Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 3 Diary: A Rope of Sand

In Baseball, Long form on October 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Like modern-day Hatfields and McCoys, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

Pregame

IB: It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and bunting decorates the stands of a select few stadiums. Yes, playoff baseball (or, as it’s known in Pittsburgh, the off-season) is back.

After an exciting wild card round was followed by four five-game League Division Series — including a pair of improbable upsets — baseball’s final four teams are battling each other for a ticket to the World Series. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees square off in a series that has been dominated by Detroit’s fearsome pitching core, while the National League boasts two teams in the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals that, on paper — and in the series standings — appear evenly matched. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2012 A’s: Stop Calling it Moneyball

In Baseball, Long form on October 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Despite their first-round loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Oakland Athletics surprised the baseball world with a new take on old-school baseball

Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

The Oakland Athletics, a team many considered broken after the Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill trades, were right exactly 94 times this season, just enough to steal an American League West title from the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, it all came to an end last week when Oakland fell victim to a complete game shutout at the hands Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. The team’s many weaknesses finally overtook its contagious enthusiasm. Inexperienced pitchers gave up six runs to one of the American League’s most feared lineups, and their own bats failed against a generous strike zone and Verlander’s own vicious efficiency.

If you watched the A’s at any point this season, you know that Oakland was playing with house money in the playoffs. The 2012 squad was, for lack of a better phrase, really stupid. Their batters set a single-season record for strikeouts. They stole bases constantly. They reinvigorated a gloriously terrible dance song from 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Yadier Molina should be Your N.L. MVP

In Baseball, Long form on September 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Yadier Molina is putting up one of the quietest MVP-caliber seasons in recent memory.

If Yadier Molina had retired after the 2006 season, Cardinals fans would still remember him. Not because he hit .216 (and not because you only had to count to six to tally his home runs). They would remember him because  the last home run he hit that season sent the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2006 World Series. It was a career highlight in a career that appeared to be over before it had begun.

Since his Major League debut in 2004, Molina’s numbers had done nothing but decline. From a .267 B.A./.329 OBP/.356 SLG line in 2004, he slumped to .252/.295/.358 in 2005, then plummeted to .216/.274/.321 in 2006. He never hit more than 8 home runs, couldn’t knock in more than 50 RBI, doubled his strikeouts and dropped his OPS+ 25 points to a staggeringly bad 53.[1] He was one of the best defensive catchers in the game, and his arm caught nearly 50 percent of base stealers. Even so, the Molina-shaped offensive hole in the Cardinals’s lineup couldn’t be filled with Gold Gloves.

That was six seasons ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Is This the End of Ryan Vogelsong?

In Baseball, Long form on September 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

He’s a 35-year-old fan favorite with an inferiority complex and a well-established history of performing in stomach-churning situations. He’s been the most consistent member of the San Francisco Giants’ starting rotation this year. He’s the best value on the team, and he’s saved an injury-plagued bullpen on dozens of occasions.

Don’t forget, though, he’s 35 years old.

Ryan Vogelsong is Jim Morris with an All-Star pedigree. After a lackluster start to his Major League career, he spent years toiling in Nippon Professional League obscurity before being reacquired by San Francisco in 2011. That season earned him a place on the National League All-Star team, and his first half numbers in 2012 placed him squarely among those snubbed from this year’s Midsummer Classic.

But even Cinderella stories come to an end; and Vogelsong’s latest series of outings suggest that his carriage may actually be a pumpkin. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rime of the Traded Mariner

In Baseball, Long form on July 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm

After 10 years as the face of the Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki became the latest “Mr. Mariner” to leave King County before the end of his career. The Yankees sent to minor league pitchers to Seattle to acquire the right fielder July 23.

Few ballplayers have been able to call themselves “Mariners for Life.” In fact, Seattle has had more baseball talent pass through its clubhouse than it has had players who have stayed for a career. Ken Griffey, Jr. bolted the franchise for a six-figure contract with his hometown Cincinnati Reds. Randy Johnson departed in a trade with the Houston Astros. Alex Rodriguez spurned Seattle to sign the then-largest contract in baseball history. Of the players in the Mariners Hall of Fame, only Edgar Martínez started and ended his career in Seattle. The list of great ex-Mariners gained another name July 23 when Ichiro Suzuki was sent to the New York Yankees for two minor league pitchers. Seattle has had its share of baseball talent — it just doesn’t stick around for long. Read the rest of this entry »

Chris Carpenter

In Baseball, Long form on July 19, 2012 at 12:48 am

The St. Louis Cardinals again will have to defend their World Series championship without Chris Carpenter after persistent shoulder soreness forced the ace right hander to miss his fourth full season in the last decade.

Chris Carpenter hates to lose. It bothers him. It gnaws at him. It pisses him off. When an opposing batter turns on a mistake pitch and launches it out of the park, even the fans in the upper deck can hear Carpenter’s cursing. Losing is for lesser pitchers, for weaker pitchers. It isn’t what 10-year veterans with 20-win seasons and Cy Young awards do. That’s what makes Carpenter’s 2012 season so frustrating. He hasn’t yet taken a loss, but he’s already been defeated — by his own body. On July 3, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to shut down Carpenter’s rehab, ending his season before he threw a pitch. Another year squandered. Another long off-season. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago’s Hope

In Baseball, Long form on June 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair spent a career in the minor leagues before becoming a starter. He hasn’t disappointed.

Teams have gotten better at identifying talent and predicting success in prospects, but the baseball draft remains a nebulous institution. Each year, there are a few can’t-miss prospects, guys with talent, maybe even a diamond in the rough. But, for better or for worse, most players selected in the baseball draft are just warm bodies. As a player falls deeper and deeper in the draft, expectations for his career potential fall accordingly. The Seattle Mariners selected Bryan LaHair from St. Petersburg College in the 39th round of the 2002 draft. According to 30 major league teams, 1,179 players had a better chance of becoming big league players than did Bryan LaHair. Read the rest of this entry »

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