Friday, May 22, 2015

Giants Win Baseball World Heavyweight Title Via Forfeit After Dodgers Fail to Appear


Left behind.

In the most bizarre development of the Baseball World Heavyweight Championship season, the Dodgers failed to appear for their title defense against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Their entrance music played three times, but the champs never emerged from behind the curtain. So, by virtue of a forfeit, the Giants become (sigh) the new Baseball World Heavyweight Champion.

Now, there's no possible way the Dodgers would fail to show up voluntarily, so something sinister must have happened. Maybe they were run over by a limo. Maybe they were kidnapped. We may never know. Hopefully, someone will locate them soon, so we can get some answers.

So, congratulations, Giants! We just need to send our man Steve to pick up the belt and deliver it to you. Should be just a moment...


Oops.

For those of you just joining us, here's how the Baseball World Heavyweight Title works:
The BWHT imagines the World Series Championship as a pro wrestling belt defended in regular season series. The defending World Series champions start the season with the belt. From there:

1. A team must win a series from the champion to take the belt. One game isn't going to cut it, considering it's a 162-game season and teams all view the season in terms of series.

2. If the belt-holder splits a series (two- or four-game series), it retains. Much like on a draw in boxing or a count-out situation in pro wrestling, you don't get the belt unless you actually beat the champion. A tie isn't good enough.

3. If, at the end of the regular season, the belt-holder does not make the playoffs -- and due to the dynamics of this thing, that scenario is entirely plausible -- said team will be stripped of the title for not qualifying for the postseason. Then the winner of the playoffs -- the World Series -- takes the belt and the title into the offseason.

Let's take a look at the title history to date, as the Giants begin their second reign...


Current Champion: San Francisco Giants

2015 BASEBALL WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE HISTORY
CHAMPION WON FROM REIGN LENGTH SUCCESSFUL DEFENSES
1) San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
(9/28/14)*
6 days
1
(vs. AZ)
2) San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
(4/12/15)
13 days
2
(vs. CHC, COL)
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
(4/25/15)
25 days
6
(vs. SFG, AZ, MIL, COL, MIA, COL)
4) San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
(5/20/15)
5 days
(through 5/24)
N/A

First up for the new champs will be the Rockies, who are getting their FOURTH shot at the belt this season. Can Dinger and company make the Giants' reign brief, or will they be labeled the Lex Luger of the BWHT? (Tons of title shots, but can never win the big one.)

And fear not, Dodger fans, because this is still a Dodgers blog and not a (OH MY GOD WHY DON'T YOU START A) Giants blog, we will periodically update you on the Dodgers' best chances to regain the title. At the moment, best we can tell, we should hope the Rockies win the belt and then retain until June 1st. I know we're all disappointed, but the real goal is to be the team standing tall with the strap at the end of the season.

*Upon researching the path of the title in 2014, I learned that the Giants actually won the belt on the final day of the season and successfully defended it through the postseason. Gross. Their initial 2015 title reign length still remains 6 days, however.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Game 40 Thread: May 21 @ Giants, 12:45p

From @akaTheConman, who else?

Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 4.24) vs. Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.20).

Shit shit shit. The Dodger Express has hit a wall called AT&T Park, where their bats have gone into deep freeze. Put it this way: The first run they score today will be the second run they will have scored ALL WEEK. Regression to the mean is a bitch.

Meanwhile, Kershaw keeps striking 'em out...and allowing runs. He'll be fine, Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest tells us. Well, today would be a good day to start getting there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Game 39 Thread: May 20 @ Giants, 7p


Brett Anderson (2-1, 3.50) vs. Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.43)

The Dodgers have score a grand total of TWO runs over their last 26 innings (29 if you include the last three innings of Friday's game), and are 1-2 over that stretch. The glorious, flowing rivers of offense we've come to be spoiled by have dried up.

The Dodgers have yet to win a game at the Seagull Feeding Trough this season, and must win two straight there to keep the belt. A sudden cloudburst of offense would go a long way to ending this drought.

Post-Game 38 Thread: Unsupported Frias

GIANTS 2, DODGERS 0

Carlos Frias pitches a very admirable six innings of seven-hit, one-run ball. And we can't score a frickin' run to support him.

Dodgers remain winless at Phone Park this year.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Game 38 Thread: May 19 @ Giants, 7p

Would you like Frias with that?

Carlos Frias (3-0, 2.89) vs. Tim Hudson (1-3, 4.57).

Since getting swept at AT&T Park in April, the Dodgers have played seven series and lost none of them. That's been good for first place in the division (by 4.5 games) and the top spot in SI.com's latest Power Rankings.

And with the news that Hyun-Jin Ryu is likely out for the season, the focus on the Dodgers' fragile pitching staff intensifies. The maturation of Frias and the front office's canny addition of Mike Bolsinger have been fine stopgaps, but will they now have to become workhorses?

Hey Chicago Peeps

Hint: When in Chicago, don't do this.

Got a message from SoSG reader Joe:

Yo!

This summer I am planning a trip to Chicago with my grandson specifically to see the Dodgers and the Cubs play. Is there a particular section or area I should try to get tickets for to be with other Dodger fans? And enjoy the unique Chicago culture of course! Any thoughts for other recreational ideas while there?

I don't know the answer to Joe's questions, so I thought we'd open this up to the readership. Any Chicago folks out there?

photo by Tom Cruze/Chicago Sun-Times

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dodgers and Rockies Battle to Time Limit Draw; Dodgers Retain Baseball World Heavyweight Title


Let me show you punks how it's done!

The Dodgers survived a roller coaster of a sixth defense of their Baseball World Heavyweight Title belt against the Rockies, earning a split of a four-game series. This one was not the slightest bit pretty for the champs. To begin with, the Dodgers thought they had another shortened victory in the bag after the Rockies arch nemesis, Rain, intervened yet again on Thursday night. The interference backfired, however, when the Dodgers were forced to finish the fall, and were shocked by CarGo in the ninth. The champs bounced back with Clayton Kershaw's 100th career win on Friday, but were then quickly embarrassed, losing the third fall in front of a collection former Baseball World Heavyweight Champions and legends. In the final fall, they were forced to take the easy way out, scoring a little offense early, then playing keep away with the belt until time expired. It was cheap, but effective.*

While Kershaw was good and Mike Bolsinger was stellar, no clear hero emerged from the series. And so, we decided to indulge in a little McMahon-level nepotism and put the belt on Steve Garvey. Congrats, Pops!

Let's take a look at the title history to date, as the Dodgers approach a full month as champs...


Current Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers

2015 BASEBALL WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE HISTORY
CHAMPION WON FROM REIGN LENGTH SUCCESSFUL DEFENSES
1) San Francisco Giants
Kansas City Royals
(2014 World Series)
6 days
1
(vs. AZ)
2) San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
(4/12/15)
13 days
2
(vs. CHC, COL)
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
(4/25/15)
25 days
(through 5/19)
6
(vs. SFG, AZ, MIL, COL, MIA, COL)

After an off-day to lick their wounds, the Dodgers travel to San Francisco for a second defense against their hated rivals. The Giants handed the Dodgers' their last series loss, guaranteeing three days of stress-induced ulcers for your friends here at the heavily-biased BWHT championship committee.

Confused about what the BWHT is and how it works? Hit the BWHT link on the sidebar.

*This recap of the weekend's events brought to you by someone who saw a grand total of about five minutes of Dodger baseball this weekend.

Off Day Sleuthing

Mamma Cora found this ball in her collection and doesn't know who it was signed by.  I thought it was a Dodger, but looking at who wore number 9 in the past (such greats as Todd Hundley), the signature doesn't match.  Thus, I was hoping for some SOSG help.  Anyone recognize this autograph?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Game 37 Thread: May 17 vs. Rockies, 1p

Mattingly attempts the old "Hey, there's mustard on your shirt" gag
on Mike Bolsinger during a visit to the mound 

Mike Bolsinger (1-0, 1.59) vs. Kyle Kendrick (1-4, 7.65)

Hasn't Bolsinger pitched like three times already this week? He's going to need to sack up today in order to get the series split with a team who came into the stand having lost its last ten games. And a stand the featured our 1 and 1A starters. And a team whose all-world SS Troy Tool is battling yet another injury and missing playing time.

All of us will need to have a stiff Bloody Mary or two and knock the funk off yesterday's frustrating loss. However, it seems imminently doable given that Kyle Kendrick has been very poor thus far this season (please tell me that Howie Kendrick is in today's lineup so we can note a Kendrick-Kendrick matchup). Bolsinger will need to forget about that 478-foot bomb he gave up to Stanton earlier in the week but perhaps keep some nugget of a memory of it when he faces the always-dangerous Karina's Crush.

Not a lot to write home about in this one. Hopefully Mattingly put out his Sunday lineup yesterday and we'll see a robust set of bats (including Gonzalez, Pederson, and Grandal) out there leading into the off day tomorrow.

photo: Rick Scuderi/USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers' Offense: Producing At Historic Pace

Thanks to Mike Petriello, who tipped off David Schoenfield, about the fact that the Dodgers' offense so far has been more potent than the 1927 Yankees, not to mention all other teams all-time:

Wow. I had no idea. That link goes to a list of the best teams in history in a stat called wRC+, which stands for weighted Runs Created. It's park- and league-adjusted, so it's a better barometer for determining the best offensive teams of all time than just looking at runs scored totals, which will obviously be skewed toward teams from the high-scoring 1930s and late 1990s. Also, this particular list has removed pitchers' hitting from the equation.

So there are the Los Angeles Dodgers, first on the list, ahead of the famous 1927 Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Maybe they won't miss Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez after all. [...]

[T]he 2015 Dodgers:

wRC+: 141 (.282/.365/.508)

W-L: 23-12

Runs per game: 5.26

League average: 4.13

The Dodgers are playing in a relatively low-scoring era and in a pitcher's park, so that helps pump up their wRC+. Everybody was concerned about the offense after they traded Kemp and lost Ramirez to free agency, but the Dodgers have impressive depth in an era when most teams are struggling to put out four or five decent hitters, let alone seven or eight. They've even managed to do this despite a hamstring injury to Yasiel Puig -- the team's projected best offensive player -- that has limited him to 11 games.

The big surprises have been rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, hitting .243/.401/.559, after a preseason ZiPS projection of .239/.327/.420, and veteran Andre Ethier, who has received playing time with Puig out and is hitting .330/.431/.582 versus a projection of .259/.335/.392. Of course, Adrian Gonzalez has been hot with a .689 slugging percentage that is second in the NL to Bryce Harper's .690, and Alex Guerrero is slugging .786 in limited playing time.

Is the offense overperforming? Sure, we can expect some regression to happen -- although there is plenty of bad pitching on the Rockies and Diamondbacks to tee off against the rest of the season. Pederson has continue to hit home runs but his average has dropped from .300 on May 1. Gonzalez hasn't had a .500 slugging percentage since 2011, let alone one approaching .700. Yasmani Grandal has an OBP over .400 and that will likely decline.

Still, it's fun to watch. Manager Don Mattingly already is having trouble getting all the hot bats into the lineup, especially the revolving door at third base with Juan Uribe, Justin Turner and Guerrero. Once Puig returns, what happens with Ethier? And Scott Van Slyke has replaced the injured Carl Crawford in left field with better results. Then there's Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old third baseman/second baseman who signed a $62.5 million contract and just got cleared for his visa, and shortstop prospect Corey Seager, now in Triple-A after hitting .375 in Double-A to start the season.

Anyway, it certainly explains why the Dodgers are 23-12 even though Clayton Kershaw has just two wins, Hyun-Jin Ryu has yet to pitch and Brandon McCarthy made just four starts before being lost for the season. There are different ways to win games. This is just a new way for a franchise historically built on great pitching.

The 1927 Yankees have a wRC+ of 135.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Game 36 Thread: May 16 vs. Rockies, 6p

Keep it coming, dreamboat.

Zack Greinke (5-0, 1.52) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (0-2, 9.56).

The Dodgers clawed out a win yesterday after losing a heartbreaker on Thursday night. One win in the next two games retains the belt. And you would think, with our winningest pitcher this season on the mound, we should be pretty set, right?

Not so fast, sports fans. This game is weird not only because of the 6p start, but also because the Dodgers are running an Oldtimers' Game before handing out 1965 Replica World Series rings (first 40K fans). The Oldtimers' Game will start at 4p and will be headlined by Sandy Koufax, but attendees will also include: Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Rick Monday, Reggie Smith, Eric Karros, Billy Bean, Nomar Garciaparra, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, Wally Moon, Ron Perranoski, Wes Parker, Jeff Torborg, Ron Fairly, Jim Lefebvre, Al Ferrara, and Lou Johnson.

Game rosters include Chan Ho Park, Tommy John, Pedro Guerrero, Mickey Hatcher, Tim Wallach, Steve Yeager, Rick Honeycutt, Eric Gagne, Charlie Hough, Manny Mota, Shawn Green, Ken Landreaux, Steve Finley, Todd Zeile, Mike Marshall, and Jerry Hairston Jr. Oh, and one other guy: me!

Everybody stay Saxy today!

The Curse Of The Mingling Sons

As SoSG Dusty chronicled yesterday, May 14, 2015 was the first game in which two Sons not only mingled at the game, but also may have made sweet sweet love. And, after going an amazing 11-0 this season, that game marked the end of the Sons' undefeated attendance streak in 2015.

It also marked the rare game where the Dodgers scored 4+ runs and lost the game, not to mention an end to the Rockies' 11-game loss streak. And, it was rainy as all get out. But leave weather aside, sports fans: us Sons have diligently been trying to understand the true meaning of this event, sort of like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure. (Except with less overacting.)

From our super-secret What's App message stream:

SoSG Nomo: Is this the first game where [SoSG Dusty] and SoSG AC mingled? Maybe we should have kept you guys apart.

SoSG Dusty: True. I also hung out with [name redacted; not a Son] as well, so he takes some blame.

SoSG AC: And I also saw Rudy Tomjanovich and he's really tall so he gets most of the blame. (true story, btw)

SoSG Nomo: Yeah, I can't figure out the exact science of it, but Son-canoodling seems to increase the chances of a loss. We hung out at the Jackie Robinson game, which was a win, but you were incognito as [identity redacted].... My theory applies to the Stadium (blogger nights seem immune).

SoSG Dusty: The science seems pretty sound on this theory.

SoSG Orel: But Sax and AC were at the two Australia wins last year!

SoSG Dusty: But they were below the equator so everything is opposite. Duh.

SoSG Orel: (slaps forehead)

We've sent this theory to ESPN Stats, the Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown for further investigation, but SoSG Nomo's theory looks pretty solid at first glance. Until further notice, Sons are not allowed to meet at the Stadium during a game. Or at least, not make sweet sweet love in the aisle.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Game 35 Thread: May 15 vs. Rockies, 7p


Can I have my 100th career win NOW? Pretty please?

Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 4.26) vs. Eddie Butler (2-3, 3.73)

A two-game losing streak? The hell? I thought we didn't do that anymore. Can we have some good news, please?

Yeah, that'll do. The clouds are lifting. Here's your ray of sunshine...

My Sad Soggy Slog

Thought I'd check in with a take on last night's game. [This is not an official PGT; I would have had to remember critical details of the game itself that seemed to take 17 trillion hours to play.] The game was my third game this week, and I admit I actually almost didn't go. But what the heck, it was Sandy Koufax pin night, so I just made a right on Sunset instead of heading home from work. Game on!
The clouds were already looming ominously as I made my way up to the gates. And of course I hadn't grabbed the right waterproof jacket on my way out, so I was set up to fail. The good news is that I ran into SoSG AC, and we made sweet, sweet love right there at the top of the steps of Section 21 on the Field Level. I'm sure there are videos of it on YouTube by now. Our attorneys will be issuing a cease and desist soon. It was good to catch up with my beloved brotha from the same dad, though unbeknownst to us, the curse of multiple Sons attending games and meeting each other at the stadium was already threatening the unprecedented Sons season unbeaten streak.

Some stuff happened in the game (beat that for expert in-game reporting!) and we were pretty decent but I was mainly running into other buddies, walking around, standing in beer lines, etc. as a light rain fell. I realized that the rain was going increase so I dug in: full 24oz beer and my own table top and stool along the right field line on the Field Level. I was mostly set but others were escaping the rain and standing in front of me, so I assume some other stuff happened in the game at that point. I decided to put my head down and play some Marvel Puzzle Quest. From my vantage point, I could see lightning in the west and knew that officials would end things soon if lightning were thought to be a threat, so I headed to the area on Loge where my actual seats are that provides the quickest exit toward where my car was parked, in case the game was called. And I snagged a Dos XX along the way in case it wasn't.

Not long after I settled in to a spot on Loge overlooking the field, the heavy stuff really started coming down. Not just wussy LA rain; the real heavy stuff. On came the tarp.
The tarp! WTF? We actually have a tarp? And the grounds crew actually knows how to use it? Who knew? The tarp actually looked more like a space blanket (credit to @themunson for that phrasing). Where's my Tang?
Aaaaand....then we had to endure what seemed like hours of low-quality in-game entertainment (which I think was largely SportsNetLA re-runs) and multiple god damned playings of CCR's "Who'll Stop the Rain." It wasn't genius the first time nor was it genius what seemed like the 54th time they played it.
video
Luckily I had laid into a nice smoked porter and met up with aforementioned @themunson so we had a good time snarking and catching up. Quite frankly, I would have left earlier after a long work week and being cold and under the assumption the game would be called. Except that I was too much of of a cupcake to walk a half mile to my car in the pouring rain.

And then, amazingly, the rain slackened then stopped and they announced the game would resume. Ok, I thought, I'll stick this one out. It's not all that often that Dodger Stadium has to deal with rain so it's quite the novelty. It was actually fun and interesting to watch the fan reaction to the rain since it is so rare. A lot of people actually stuck it out. You couldn't see from the video (especially if you can't watch the games!) but there were a lot of fans still in the stadium; they were just up under the overhangs and on the mezzanines.

And then I couldn't hang any more. Had to go. Found the car, stayed fairly dry, and listened to the game on the way home. And the damn game was still going when I got home. Someone kill that thing! Eventually, Karina's boyfriend Cargo did kill the game with a HR blast. I feel like I put so much into this game that I deserved the win. Even worse, the Sons attendance meter was hit with its first loss.

Dry your feet and your tears, though. Tonight's another game. Unless it rains again...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Game 34 Thread: May 14 vs. Rockies, 7p

Tonight's stadium giveaway.

Brett Anderson (2-1, 3.52) vs. Chad Bettis (0-0, -.--).

Back to a normal start time, but also back to the Rockies and rain. Will we play tonight?

Who the hell is Chad Bettis? There's not much info available about him, so I'll just assume he's a hybrid between Chad Billingsley and Jerome Bettis. Which means he must have monster thighs.

Anderson should be fresh, having thrown only 63 pitches in last weeks' rain-shortened win in Colorado. The bullpen will be sans Pedro Baez, who was placed on the DL with a strained pec. When does Kenley return?

UPDATE (Sax): Despite threatening rain, it looks like the game is on, according to the TWC pre-game coverage:

Thanks to the SOSG stringer for the screengrabs!

At-Game Recap: SoSG AC Finds A New Friend (May 12, 2015)

Doesn't get much more beautiful than this, on Clayton Kershaw Bobblehead night. Photo by SoSG AC.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Game 33 Thread: May 13 vs. Marlins, 4:50p


Carlos Frias (3-0, 2.13) vs. Jarred (not canned) Cosart (1-3, 3.67)

WEIRD AFTERNOON START TIME ALERT! (Perhaps the schedulers had "mental problems.") Expect lots of shadow talkin' from the announcers (including Vin, he's guilty too, but he gets a pass) and snide attendance comments from beat writers on Twitter.

With the series won, the belt retained, and old friends both shut down and knocked around, the only thing left for the Dodgers to do is get the sweep. They can do that and still be done in time for me to watch Arrow.

Squish the Fish!

Dodgers Filet Fish, Retain Baseball World Heavyweight Title


Respect the Beard!

In record time and devastating fashion, the Dodgers squashed their challengers from South Beach, retaining the Baseball World Heavyweight Title in two straight falls.* The champs lured the Marlins into a false sense of security early, letting them think they'd take the first fall. Then, from out of nowhere, Scott Van Slyke hit his finisher on Steve Cishek, giving the Dodgers the first fall.


Gif by the always-astonishing Conman. Duh.

The second fall was almost never in doubt, despite an aerial assault from Giancarlo Stanton in the opening moments. The Fish were no match for the sustained onslaught from the Dodgers, including a five-hit night from Andre "The Giant" (like the wrestler, not like the baseball team) Ethier.

For those of you just joining us, here's how the Baseball World Heavyweight Title works:
The BWHT imagines the World Series Championship as a pro wrestling belt defended in regular season series. The defending World Series champions start the season with the belt. From there:

1. A team must win a series from the champion to take the belt. One game isn't going to cut it, considering it's a 162-game season and teams all view the season in terms of series.

2. If the belt-holder splits a series (two- or four-game series), it retains. Much like on a draw in boxing or a count-out situation in pro wrestling, you don't get the belt unless you actually beat the champion. A tie isn't good enough.

3. If, at the end of the regular season, the belt-holder does not make the playoffs -- and due to the dynamics of this thing, that scenario is entirely plausible -- said team will be stripped of the title for not qualifying for the postseason. Then the winner of the playoffs -- the World Series -- takes the belt and the title into the offseason.

Let's take a look at the title history to date, as the Dodgers continue their run...


Current Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers

2015 BASEBALL WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE HISTORY
CHAMPION WON FROM REIGN LENGTH SUCCESSFUL DEFENSES
1) San Francisco Giants
Kansas City Royals
(2014 World Series)
6 days
1
(vs. AZ)
2) San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
(4/12/15)
13 days
2
(vs. CHC, COL)
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
(4/25/15)
21 days
(through 5/15)
5
(vs. SFG, AZ, MIL, COL, MIA)

Up next for the Dodgers is the final fall of the match with the Marlins, with only pride on the line. Then, starting tomorrow, the Rockies come to town for their rematch from this past weekend. Rain has been banned from ringside by management, but will that really prevent him from ruining the Rockies' chances again?


*Yes, the series with the Marlins is still going on, but the title has been decided and I won't be free to do anymore updates until after the Rockies series.

Vin Scully, on a Hole in the Wall and Perfectly Timed Storytelling

"My thanks to Adrian Gonzalez for fouling off all those pitches...."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Game 32 Thread: May 12 vs. Marlins, 7p

Mike Bolsinger (0-0, 1.59) vs. Dan Haren (4-1. 2.68).

Revenge! ABC may have canceled it, but Haren is hoping to keep it alive tonight against the team that paid him to "go away." Let's not underestimate the value to flipping a fat old middle finger to your former bosses.

Although he leads the Marlins starters in traditional categories, Haren's 4.62 FIP suggests a correction may be in order (aaah, I linked to Bleacher Report. Is that still uncool?). And don't forget Dee Gordon also has a chip on his shoulder, despite all the nice things he's saying to the media.