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Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 NL MVP - Give it to the MANny

NOTICE:
I'm going against my motives here and am going to be biased with this post. So allow me to apologize in advance. HOWEVER, everything I say I am going to backup with facts and stats to help my point be heard. I'm not just saying these things without reason.






Major League Baseball just finished it's final week of regular season play which brings up the debate about post season awards. You know, the Cy Young, Comeback Player of the Year, Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers, etc. But we aren't about to get into a debate about each one of those awards. We "don't have the technology or the steady hands to perform a procedure like that!" (Sorry, I had to slip that Superbad quote in there)

But today I want to bring up the debate of this years MVP for the National League. There have been a lot of worthy candidates this year. Of course there is the Howard, the Chipper, the Braun, the Pujols. And this year we can't forget Chase Utley and Aramis Ramirez.

But how about the other Ramirez? You know, the National League's newest member? The man who made the jump from the AL 45 minutes after the trading deadline. The man who puts Bob Marley's dreads to shame. The man who single handedly turned a team from an offense-less sub-.500 baseball club to the National League West Champions. The man who is the best #99 to hit LA since Wayne Gretzky, possibly even better.


I'm talking about Manny Ramirez.


Now normally I'm a strong believer in the fact that to win the National League MVP you must be in the National League for the entire season. But 53 games is enough, right?! However, I'm also a strong believer of the MVP being on a team who has either clinched their division or at very least made the playoffs. Some of this year's strongest candidates were on teams that didn't make the playoffs.

Well, with the impact Manny Ramirez has made in Los Angeles (and I'm not talking about Anaheim-Los Angeles... Stupid Angels) this season, I'm starting to change my beliefs.

Lets start by sharing his numbers since the trade, in 49 Games:

Batting Average:
.395
On Base Percentage:
.488
Slugging Percentage:
.746
Hits:
70
Home Runs:
16
RBI's:
51
(That's just over an RBI a game. And for an offense that was really struggling before the trade deadline, that's huge!)



Also, one thing that stats can't show is the energy he brought not only to the city and fan base, but to the clubhouse. Manny Ramirez is a winner and quite possibly one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time. You can't argue that. He brought his winning mentality and his two World Series rings to a team who has only won one playoff game since 1988 and he helped the Dodgers win the NL West for only the fourth time since 1988. The Dodgers have a young team and for a veteran such as Ramirez to come in, really helped the Dodgers to not only win, but to have fun while doing it.

Now a lot of people don't like Manny. What happened in Boston was pretty ugly. Some say he played his way out of Boston. I'm not here to argue that. I'm just saying since his trade, he has been the National Leagues best player.

If you disagree, then who HAS been the NL's best player?

Chase Utley - Philadelphia Phillies
Started the season off very very hot, you can't argue that. But did anyone hear from him in the second half? He finished with average numbers... not MVP like numbers.
Ryan Howard - Philadelphia Phillies
Has a better chance than Utley for the award and helped the Phillies claim the NL East Title with 48 homers (1st in the NL) and 146 RBIs (1st in the NL). However, Phillies tend to cringe when he is at the plate as he tied his own Major League record of 199 strikeouts and only a .251 batting average. Womp, womp.
Chipper Jones - Atlanta Braves
When Chipper is in the lineup he is quite a threat... However, he is out of the lineup a lot. We are looking for the Most Valuable Player, not the Most Injury Prone Player (Ken Griffey Jr. would also be in the running for that). In his defense, Chipper won the batting title with a .364 batting average.
Ryan Ludwick - St. Louis Cardinals
Ludwick had a great season. He has an argument for putting up MVP like numbers, 37 homers and 117 RBIs, .299 average. Unfortunately, you're not going to win MVP when you aren't even the MVP of your own team...
Albert Pujols - St. Louis Cardinals
...which brings us to Mr. Pujols. His numbers are very close to Ludwick's but the thing that puts Pujols ahead is his .357 batting average which gave him the second best average in the league. If the Cardinals didn't fade out at the end of the season, Pujols could possibly have it in the bag.
Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers
Most people think that anyone who thinks Ryan Braun should win the MVP is a Brewers fan. Well, they could pitch a strong point. In only his second year, Braun posted 37 homers and 106 RBIs. And he helped his team to get the Wild Card and make it to the playoffs in one of the toughest divisions in baseball this year.
Aramis Ramirez - Chicago Cubs
I'm a strong believer in the fact of the MVP should go to the best player on the best team. I believe Aramis Ramirez is the best player on the best team and that he is the most consistent slugger on their team, but his numbers and play don't speak for him being the best player in the National League. I feel like the Cubs are great as a team without one player who is a superstar standout. Ramirez, or any Cub's numbers aren't MVP-esque.
Carlos Delgado - New York Mets
He came on strong late in the season. However is team didn't. But it wasn't because of him. Practically all his offensive numbers increased since the All Star Break. But Delgado isn't going to win it this year.


So with all this being said, I still feel that Manny Ramirez sparked his team, more than just statistically, to surge in the late part of the season and win their division. I feel like he should be strongly considered for this year's NL MVP Award.

I know a lot of you will disagree. If you do, I want to hear it. Leave a comment of who you think should win it and why. Or tell me why you think Manny should NOT win the award. I would like to hear everyone's thoughts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

cBCS Standings Week 4

So it's upon us.


Scratch Christmas, College Football is the most wonderful time of the year!

And it's here.

The thrill and anticipation of each week just feels so good.

Now that it's here it's almost as if each Saturday is Christmas morning. Each game is a new present. Some presents are big, some are small.

And once it's open you either love it or would rather have a different one.

But regardless, it's the thought that counts.

And no thought is better than the thought of college football finally being here.

And just like Santa, there are things in college football that aren't real.


WITH THAT SAID...

Corked Bats will be bringing you, our friendly readers, our thoughts on the season as it progresses. We will bring our cBCS Standings and other news and notes from the previous week.

"Wait, what is the cBCS?" you kindly ask with a hint of anticipation on your grinning face.

cBCS stands for Corked Bats Champion Standings. Creative. We know.

So without further adieu, let's kick off our first cBCS Standings following Week 4 of the College Football Season. 

cBCS Top 10
10. BYU
This Week: IDLE
Reason: The Cougars keep winning pretty convincingly. I'm just going to go ahead and say it: These Mormons are good!

9. Wisconsin
This Week: @ Michigan
Reason: Why are the Badgers up this high? Well let us answer your question with another question. Do you think it's easy to travel west and play at Fresno State and pull out a win? If you said yes, then how many times have YOU done it? Point, us.

8. Alabama
This Week: @ Georgia
Reason: Alabama is a good team. Or are they? We will find out this Saturday as their biggest test approaches. However, the Tide are undefeated in the state of Georgia this year...

7. Texas
This Week: vs. Arkansas
Reason: The Longhorns were supposed to be off this week before starting a tough stretch of three Big XII games (Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri). Lucky for Texas they still have an off week vs. a lousy Arkansas team.

6. LSU
This Week: vs. Mississippi State
Reason: LSU is barely making it by playing quarterback shuffle. Baton Rouge is probably missing Ryan Perrilloux at times like this. They should adopt Tennessee's discipline system: You get 5 strikes, then they will consider kicking you off the team (Depending on your spot on the depth chart and the stats you have put up thus far).

5. Georgia
This Week: vs. Alabama
Reason: Sorry Georgia fans, this season isn't getting any easier. Georgia's next few games are as follows: @ LSU, Florida, the Guards from The Longest Yard, the 2007-08 New England Patriots, Megatron from Transformers, and @ South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs with star linebacker Bobby Boucher. But don't worry Georgia, YOU CAN DO IT!

4. Missouri
This Week: IDLE
Reason: It took a half of football to get warmed up vs. Buffalo. But not to worry, because they now have a week to get warmed up for their trip to Nebraska. A prime time game on ESPN. If that doesn't get Nebraska fans and Tiger fans excited, you might be dead.

3. Florida
This Week: vs. Ole Miss
Reason: Remember when winning at Neyland Stadium meant something? The Gators continue to win convincingly without Tebow putting up Heisman numbers. But once Tebow starts turning it on, look out Gator opponents. This is like the crime rate of Gotham City staying low when Batman goes out of town. Things will only get better when Batman comes back in town!

2. Oklahoma
This Week: vs. TCU
Reason: Oklahoma is good. Real good. And who on their schedule is going to beat them? Kansas? HA! Yeah, and Ross Perot is going to come out of the woodworks and win the presidential election this year!

1. USC
This Week: @ Oregon State
Reason: How could we not? Any team that plays Ohio State on a national stage is going to look like America's best team.



Corked Bats Week 5
Underdog Picks
(Rankings are AP)

Austin:
Maryland over #20 Clemson

Zach:
#8 Alabama over #3 Georgia

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Stinking Love Left Tackles


So I read a book a while back, by a guy name Michael Lewis (the same guy who wrote Moneyball, blame him for the obsession with OPS) entitled The Blind Side. The book is based on the importance of the left tackle in football, and tells the story of a boy named Michael Oher.

Michael is a poorer than poor boy in Tennessee who is ginarmois, but has never played football in his entire life. A coach convinces him to play his senior year, he turns out to be the the freak athlete who is massive enough to dominate but still have the skill and quickness to not get outrun. Long story short, he earns a scholarship to Ole Miss, plays football there, and this is now his senior season and he is the number 1 offensive lineman in the country according to rivals.com.

Footnote: Tools you need to be a dominant left tackle: Size+Speed+Skill+Agility+Hand Skills= About 5 guys in the world have the physical make up to be the dominant tackle of their generation (see Ogden, Pace, and Roaf).

I am a big fan of Oher's, and actually own an autographed picture which I keep framed on my desk (I bought it last year on ebay for like 5 bucks!!).
Michael was not reason that I began to like the position though. I learned to appreciate LTs a few years back when the Chiefs acquired a best a man named Willie Roaf. I must admit, I question the acquisition. We got rid of Victor Riley, a production lineman, for an injury prone giant who walked liked an 80 year old man. Boy was I wrong.

I will never forget seeing Priest Holmes run that sweep left and have Big Willie just clearing anything that gets in his way. I do not know how he did, but as soon as that man stepped on the football field he moved like a deer running through a field. It was so smooth and graceful. As soon as he stepped off the field, it was like he needed a rascal or a walker. Maybe I will never understand.
Willie retired a few years ago, and now the Chiefs are in shambles, but the time we had together was great. Hopefully Branden Albert can develop into the successor that I can only dream of. I miss you Willie.

In the mean time, I have learned to enjoy the left tackle play of a true freshman here at the University of Missouri. His name is Elvis Fisher, and the red shirt freshman has had a lot to due with Mizzou's dominance early this year. 4 years from now, he will be a day one draft pick.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Simone Award

The Simone Award - The 'MVP' of the high school football season in the Kansas City area.
I was thinking of prior winners of this award today, and I was pretty blown away by the list of winners. Mizzou's own superman, Chase Coffman, won the award his senior year. The only reason that I know the award is my sophomore year of high school, a student from Oak Park (my alma mater), brought the bad boy home.

His name was Michael Keenan and he was the greatest athlete of all time. He was a 3 star recruit nebraska, and when they administered their series of tests to measure your overall athletic ability, he had the highest score since Ahman Green (that story held a lot more weight when Ahman Green was really good with the Packers). He then proceeded to fall off of the face of the Earth, that all started with getting pissed about losing his red shirt at NU.

Anywho, here are other notable winners of the award...

Ladell Betts - Blue Springs - 1996 - A legit NFL running back on the Redskins who splits carries with Portis until Clinton gets hurt.

Darren Sproles - Olathe North - 2000 - He should have won the Heisman his junior year, and now is a bon-a-fide NFL running back backing up LT in San Diego.

Chase Coffman - 2004 - Ray-Pec - He is going to break all the receiving records at MIZZOU except for yards, unless he has a monster season.

Josh Freeman - 2005 - Grandview - According to rivals he is the 21st best quarterback in the nation, and is only a junior.

And last year Nathan Scheelhaase, quarterback at Rockhurst, won as a junior. If we won this year (which is very plausible) he would be the first two-time winner. Too bad he committed to the arch rival, Illinois.

How can KC put out so much legit NFL talent, but not basketball. All we can claim is the Rush brothers, and who wants to claim a kid who somehow redshirted his freshman year of high school (i.e. got 5 years of eligibility).

Friday, September 5, 2008

CB's Book Club

Don't start whining over the title of this post.


"Oh great! Corked Bats has gone all Oprah on us... This is just great! My number one website for sports entertainment has turned into some finer things club! A book club?! I'm a sports fan! I don't read books!"

Calm down.

  • Yes, we started a book club.
  • Yes, we know most sports fans our meat heads.
  • Yes, we know this because we ourselves are meat heads.
  • Yes, we want to offer you ideas of great books to read.
  • Yes, in a sense, I guess it is sort of like Oprah. But only because she recommends books and so do we. We're not going to be giving away free stuff every Christmas. Nor will we get others to go on diets with us every other month.
  • Yes, these books will be centered around sports so they will be enjoyable reads.
  • No, we will not recommend any Matt Christopher books.

• • •


Our premiere book in the Corked Bat's Book Club is a good one. And I say this without reading it.

"Wait, how the heck do you know it's good if you haven't read it?!"

Three words: I lived it.


• • •

COACHING MADE EASIER:
How to Successfully Manage Your Youth Baseball Team

The first book was written by my dad, Rod Huff, and it is all about successfully managing a youth baseball team.

Now I know this book may not spark interest into our target market (which consists of college student males in their late teens and early twenties... A.K.A. just our few friends who check on our site every now and then, and also Christine Conklin). However, you could always recommend the book to a parent, sibling, or friend who may be interested in coaching a baseball team of any age.

My dad has practically a decade of success in coaching youth baseball. He built a reputation in my home town of a winning baseball coach. Kids wanted to play for him and most importantly, parents wanted their kids to play for him. He was so well liked by every player and parent. Every year but one my dad's team finished the season with a League Championship, Tournament Championship or Tournament Runner-Up, or sometimes even both. He never coached a losing season. His worst season was an 8-8 season, but we don't like to talk about that year.

So trust me when I say, my dad knows what he is talking about. He obviously found the key to successfully putting together the ingredients of developing a winning team.

This book is informative as well entertaining because throughout the book, my dad included funny and enjoyable stories from all his years of coaching.

I helped proof-read a lot of this book, so I guess you can say that I have read it.

But trust me, this book will teach you a lot.



If you would like to learn more, check out these sites: