Friday, October 03, 2008


Just one game into the 2008 MLB playoffs for the Boston Red Sox, and we’ve already witnessed an instant October classic.

Wednesday night’s Game 1 matchup against the Anaheim Angels (sorry, not going for that “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” crap) was a game that should be rewatched, studied, noted, even talked about for generations to come. It was an awesome display of talent and determination, with veteran players and rookies alike playing equally vital roles throughout.

Despite the incredibly late start time for the East Coast fan contingent (and a big thanks to the MLB braintrust for that scheduling genius, you bastards), I was wide awake from first pitch to final out. Hell, I had trouble falling asleep at 1:30am I was so keyed up from the game. It was that good.

If nothing else, the game was living proof that you can’t make mistakes against good baseball teams, because they will capitalize.

In the bottom of the third, Red Sox rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie booted a routing ground ball that would have easily been the third out of the inning. The next batter, Tori Hunter, singled to drive in the games first run and give the Angels a 1-0 lead. In addition, Boston’s starting pitcher Jon Lester threw seven more pitches to end the inning. Not a huge number, but it helped lead to his being pulled in the seventh for rookie reliever Justin Masterson (more on that later).

But the Angels made a few blunders of their own, upon which the Sox jumped when it counted. Their starting pitcher, John Lackey, was very much in command through the first five innings. He especially owned Jason Bay, who struck out twice and looked bad in the process.

But in the sixth, with Kevin Youkilis on first and two outs, Lackey hung a breaking ball up and over the plate that Bay crushed into the left field bleachers, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. Lackey’s target was down and away from the right-hander, a location he nailed twice against Bay in earlier at-bats.

With that one pitch, that one swing of the bat, momentum had changed. The players felt it, the fans knew it. Lester was dealing all night, but after the Sox took the lead, he struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Lester’s fastball was hitting 97 on the radar gun. The Angels went down 1-2-3 for the forth time of the night.

In a decision that made myself and many other Sox fans immediately break into a cold sweat, manager Tito Francona went with Masterson for the eighth inning, despite having a fresh bullpen of veteran hurlers. Masterson has some nasty stuff, but at 23 with only 88 innings pitched in the bigs, it seemed like a decision that would quickly bite Francona in the ass.

But it didn’t.

Masterson didn’t exactly shut down the Angels, giving up singles to Vladmir Guerrero and Hunter, but stellar defense helped end a potential threat: Hunter’s bloop single behind first base didn’t bounce far from the diving Youkilis, who snared the ball and immediately fired it to third base, nailing Guerrero by a country mile as he tried to advance from first. That might as well have been the final out of the game, because it completely deflated the Angels. Instead of first and third with one out in a one-run game, it was two outs with Hunter at first. Howie Kendrick hit a weak grounder to Lowrie to end the inning.

If that defensive pick-me-up for Masterson wasn’t enough, the Sox padded their lead in the next inning, plating both Lowrie and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for a 4-1 lead. (It warrants mentioning here that Ellsbury scored form second base after Jason Varitek laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move him over, Varitek’s first sacrifice bunt in 3 years.) With Jonathan Papelbon taking the hill in the ninth, the Game 1 was in the books.

Game 2 of the series is tonight, with Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka facing off against Anaheim’s Irvin Santana. Both pitchers had excellent seasons and are tough to hit when they’re on. Sox fans around the globe are hoping the Good Matsuzaka shows up, the one that doesn’t waste time nibbling the corners of the plate for strikes and lets his pitches do the work for him.

The Sox have now beaten the Angels in 10 straight postseason matchups, with yesterday’s victory having the added bonus of removing home-field advantage from a 100-game winner. And Boston’s postseason ace Josh Becket is scheduled to toss Game 3 on Sunday.

In Fenway.

I think I speak for the majority of Red Sox Nation when I say: Sweet.

Friday, September 19, 2008


As the baseball season approaches its final week of play, the season-long battles that have raged since April take on a new, heightened fervor across the league. Not only are teams jockeying for playoff positions, home field advantage, and general hot streaks to propel them throughout October, fans and reporters are eyeing the illustrious hardware that accompanies those ballplayers that have stepped up and led their team to the next level.

Once such player is Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. In only his second full season in the majors, Pedroia has carved out quite a name for himself throughout baseball. His gritty, hard-nosed play on the field is something to be remembered, emulated, glorified. There's yet to be a game where Pedroia doesn't come off the field covered in dirt after pushing himself to the breaking point for his team. He's the consumate Dirt Dog on a team that for years celebrated that style and attitude in many former players.

After swiping the AL Rookie of the Year award last year in dramatic fashion (batting under .200 for the month of April, only to finish well above .300 on the year), capped off by a masterful performance in a four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, Pedroia didn't miss a beat coming into the 2008 season. Plauged by injuries early in the season, Boston hopped on the back of the short-but-sturdy Pedroia as he carreid them through injuries to big boppers David Ortiz and JD Drew, even taking over the cleanup spot after Manny Ramirez wiggled his way out of the city before the trading deadline.

Pedroia's defense has been nothing but solid since his first day on the field, highlighted by too many game-saving diving stops to count (including one last season that preserved a Clay Buchholz no-hitter).

There is no questioning the desire and determination he brings to the park each and every day. Its readily apparent in his every move; from the monster down-to-one-knee swings he takes at the plate (once thought to be the Achilles Heel for the young talent) to the seeds he tosses from deep behind second base. Paired up with another young Red Sox phenom at shortstop, Jed Lowrie, a prettier double-play combiniation in Boston is hard to imagine.

So, as the season winds down and the Sox prepare for another postseason run, rumblings of "Pedroia for MVP" are beginning to reverberate throughout the cozy confines of Fenway, not to mention the reporters that determine the award's winner.

It's no surprise that the city of Boston generates much of the fan promotion for its newest hero, with a constant supply of posters and signs around the park. The latest phase includes custom printed t-shirts proclaiming his candidacy, guaranteed to be seen in droves at ballparks across the country.

But before Red Sox Nation rushes out en masse to purchase said shirt and jump on the MVPedroia bandwagon, take a moment to review the facts as presented by the wearable placard. No, not the "bulletproof" claim, which he has obviously proven time and time again with the way he hurls himself around the field with wreckless abandon.

Look closely. See it? Right there.

5'9"? Pedroia?!

I think not. Don't believe the hype, fans, and take a moment to examine the man in action for yourself. If number 15 measures in at 5'9", I'm Bud Selig.

But that just makes his season, and career, even more remarkable: the man's not the slightest tick over 5'8", yet still manages to be a force in the majors. He hangs with the giants of the game and keeps his spot at the top of the heap.

Pedroia at 5'9"? Not a chance.

Pedroia for MVP? Absolutely.

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Wrap-Up

Though the season is only two weeks old, the cream is already starting to rise to the top of the league. Blowout wins and huge stats are proving to be the norm, not fluke performances.

Dunder Mifflin 124, Family Ties 93. Family Ties suffered from a lack of a dominant quarterback performance as Bret Favre (NYJ) had a pedestrian day, amassing only 4 points. In contrast, Dunder Mifflin’s QB Jon Kitna (DET) had a huge day, throwing for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The loss knocks Family ties back to an even 1-1 on the year, with a long season ahead if they can’t score at the QB slot.

Underdogs 67, Juno Beach Loggerheads 38. QB Matt Cassel (NE) couldn’t crack the scoreboard for Juno Beach, helping the Underdogs dominate despite lackluster showings from their own lineup. Juno Beach chose to leave WR Randy Moss (NE) on their bench, which ended up logging more points than the starting lineup. Another case where the Underdogs bench (39) outscored Juno Beach starters (38).

Fishheads 104, Ambulance Chasers 59. Phillip Rivers (QB, SD). That’s all that needs to be said here, since his 50 points surely would have helped any team to a victory. Too bad Ambulance Chasers sat him in favor of Ben Roethlisberger (PIT), who logged only 8 points for the day, no match for Fishheads QB Tony Romo (DAL), who had a big night against Philadelphia.

Allocators 104, C2 77. Despite fielding a tight end that didn’t even pull in a single pass on the day (Vernon Davis, SF), the Allocators streaked to a victory behind QB Eli Manning (NYG) and WR Terrell Owens (DAL). Meanwhile, C2 owners giggled like schoolboys after seeing the word “streaked.”

Killer B’s 145, Boystown 70. This week’s massive 75-point blowout was brought to you by Killer B’s dominant lineup led by QB Jay Cutler (DEN). Only two starters were unable to log double-digit points for Killer B’s (RB Steven Jackson, STL and WR Marvin Harrison, IND), with TE Chris “The Cock” Cooley (WAS) putting up more points than the majority of Boystown’s lineup.

Keep an eye out for the Week 3 Preview.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Silva Bros Fantasy Football Preview: Week 2

Week 1 of the Silva Brothers Fantasy Football provided plenty of drama amongst the matchups, many of which had nothing to do with the injury to Patriots QB Tom Brady. From the 46-point Boystown blowout of C2 to the horrific 43-40 limp-wristed slapfight between Fishheads and Killer B’s, roster deficiencies were highlighted in many teams (prompting large bids for mediocre players on the free agent list).

Now that the opening salvo in on the books, its time to look ahead to Week 2 and see which teams can bounce back and those that will continue their winning ways.

Dunder Mifflin at Family Ties. Coming off a tough Week 1 six-point loss to Underdogs, Family Ties takes on the high-scoring Dunder Mifflin team that put up impressive numbers in their opening win against the Ambulance Chasers. Dunder Mifflin’s crew was solid across the board (Cleveland WR Braylon Edwards the only player unable to log points), while Family Ties was handcuffed by poor outings from key RB and WR positions.

Dunder Mifflin’s QB Jon Kitna (DET) takes the field against the Green Bay Packers this week, and will look to go to the air early and often in the absence of a running game. Kitna is capable of putting up big numbers, especially at home in the dome, and is a sure bet to find WR Calvin Johnson in the end zone for a strike or two.

Family Ties counters with Brett Favre (NYJ), but face yet another quandary: Start Favre against a tough New England defense that needs to up its game in order to compensate for the loss of QB Tom Brady, or go with injured Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, who could have a field day with San Francisco despite the loss of his four top receivers? Last week showed that Favre is far from done and can still sling with the best of them, but also revealed that the Jets front line is far from secure. The Patriots could send him scrambling enough to shut down his high-flying attack. If Hasselbeck is healthy, Family Ties could start him instead and hope for a big day at home for the Seahawks.

At Running Back, both teams are headed for a long day of little production. Dunder Mifflin’s Brian Westbrook (PHI) goes up against a strong Dallas defense, while Family Ties’ LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) battles turf toe in Denver. If LT can bounce back from a disappointing Week 1 and overcome foot issues on the soft grass of Mile High Stadium (and a weak Denver D), Family Ties gets the nod as Dallas easily keeps Westbrook under the 100-yard mark and out of the end zone.

Dunder Mifflin definitely has the advantage in the Wide Receive slots, with Calvin Johnson (DET) hauling in passes from Kitna. Though most Fantasy Owners stay away from QB/WR combos on the same team, Kitna has few other options against Green Bay, so expect Johnson to have a big day with a couple visits to the Promised Land. Family Ties may be able to keep up if Anquan Boldin (ARI) gets some looks over teammate Larry Fitzgerald, especially against a weak Miami secondary.

Both team defenses face strong challenges, but Family Ties takes the advantage here, fielding the tough Pittsburgh D at home against division rivals Cleveland Browns. The Steelers always dial up the intensity for this inter-division clash, and will limit the Browns in the air and on the ground. Dunder Mifflin hopes the Packers defense can contain Kitna and the Lions in Detroit, but as mentioned earlier, Calvin Johnson WILL get in the end zone a couple of times.

In the end, the Quarterbacks will determine the winner of this game. If Kitna gets up and over Green Bay’s defense, Dunder Mifflin will easily take home a Week 2 win. Family Ties can only hope whichever QB they put on the starting roster will have the better day, and pray that the Packers keep Kitna contained.

Other games this week:

Juno Beach Loggerheads at Underdogs. With the loss of starting QB Tom Brady, Juno Beach quickly snatched up New England’s reserve Matt Cassel. Unfortunately, he’s no match for Underdogs QB Donovan McNabb, even against a tough Dallas defense. If Underdogs swap out RB Willis McGahee (BAL), who did not play Sunday, for Ricky Williams (MIA), who’s facing a weak Arizona defense, they can expect a nice two-game winning streak.

Fishheads at Ambulance Chasers. All signs point to the Fishheads rebounding from an abysmal Week 1 and taking the victory behind QB Tony Romo (DAL). Ambulance Chasers can keep it close with Dallas D and if they swap out TE Heath Miller (PIT) for Dallas Clark (IND), but it won’t be enough.

Allocators at C2. The Allocators are weak at the QB position, fielding Kurt Warner (ARI) against C2’s Peyton Manning (IND), who looks to have a payback week after an opening day loss. If Allocators go with Chicago RB Matt Forte, who could run wild in Carolina, instead of the banged-up Joseph Addai (IND), who’s questionable after a head injury and facing a tough Minnesota defense, they could keep it close. But give the win to C2 behind Manning and TE Jason Witten (DAL).

Killer B’s at Boystown. This might be the closest matchup on the schedule this week, and come down to Defenses. Killer B’s QB Jay Cutler (DEN) is no match for Boystown’s Drew Brees (NO), but a tandem RB punch of Julius Jones (SEA), taking on the 49ers, and Steven Jackson (STL) will devastate Boystown’s Willie Parker (PIT) and Jamal Lewis (CLE). Though Boystown fields the Bears D against Carolina, Killer B’s Ravens defense could pull in some points in Houston.