Sports Talk with Jimmy McBride

Do you like sports? A lot people like sports, and they like to talk about them even more. Big people, little people; boys & girls. This is a large demographic, if you know know what I mean? Sports means money. That’s why it’s on talk radio, so it’s only natural in the age of the internet that it extends to social media. The biggest phenomenon in social media is Facebook, which many online forums link through, including (until recently) ESPN.com.

MLB.com had it’s own forum, meaning you had to sign up with them to be a member, as boards were controlled by individual teams & MLB moderators. The few years I spent in these sports forums were very educational in terms of understanding the impact of correct thinking & revolutionary action on social media. The conclusion is that a rational intellect with emotional restraint will dominate any online forum, to the point where it’s owners have to censor leading individuals to remain in control of the message. If dissent gets beyond a few individuals, then it may become necessary to shut down the comments entirely in this age of internet media propaganda.

So what exactly happened here? To answer this adequately, I must reference myself extensively in this timeline of sports censorship, as it was my commentary that led to (expedited) MLB.com & ESPN.com eliminating comments on their articles. The blackout happened on Friday July 6, 2018 at ESPN. It occurred over the course of the 2018 season for MLB.com, depending on the team and individual posting history. I’ve brought in Boston/MTV cabbie Jimmy McBride for comic relief.

What happened in 2018 to the MLB forums was that individuals were blacklisted, while all others were censored to varying degrees. Tactics included an inability to post (blacklisting), and ghosting of posts (selective censoring). Ghosting means your post disappears into cyberspace, never again to be seen by you or your friends.

It’s a cardinal rule that you must compose on a word processor document, then copy & paste to post online, as you can be locked out in the middle of long posts if you try to compose from scratch on their site. By the MLB 2018 post-season, the comments sections had completely disappeared everywhere, for every team. No fans on MLB.com are allowed to share their feelings on what they witness anymore. No explanation from MLB.

MLB.com had been an online stomping ground for RicSize since late 2015, when I decided to become an active Padres fan. That was my handle on Baseball Prospectus (which kicked ass) a decade-or-so before, so I knew I could deal with the best baseball fans at MLB.com. As a new Padres fan, acquiring RF Matt Kemp, LF Justin Upton & RHP James Shields had proven a disaster, and I was going to speak the truth as I saw it. The team needed it.

I did so, and it woke up a lot of people in that sleepy forum. Since then, the MLB.com/Padres forum was a much more critical & galvanized fanbase. Some regulars agreed with what I posted, other didn’t– but everyone learned. Comments became much more thought out & well expressed, and the forum came to life. We weren’t chumps anymore, and it was like that until the end. The Padres forum died weeks before the season ended. By that point, many members weren’t able to post anymore, or were having repeated issues.

I went through a few MLB Trade deadlines, where I discovered the actual value of influencing opinion online. It can be done for any purpose, but the best reason is to share the truth. When you can prove to a team’s fans in their forum, that the player(s) they are hoping their GM will trade are junk, it quickly kills any momentum as deep & sobering realization ensues. I delighted in dispensing my homespun baseball wisdom on deluded fans, and did it actively during the 2016 & 2017 seasons, particularly at the trade deadlines. A lot of murky stuff went down then, concerning the Padres & MLB if you recall.

It was always a great story, so I wrote them up.  It was easy because the content flowed from human interactions online. This got me to the point where I was known & feared in media circles, while being blacklisted from official discourse & publication. Fan commenting was my path around that, as I discovered I could become more influential than the author of (yet another) shoddy article, simply by making astute comments to the forum.

Deadspin reported ESPN’s comments shutdown here, with no explanation on July 6, 2018. Background on this starts with tennis star Serena Williams retiring before her French Open 4th-Round match with arch-opponent Maria Sharapova in early June, claiming a torn pectoral muscle. In less than a month, Serena Williams came back to compete in Wimbledon, without any noticeable injury. In the interim, Williams refused a drug test when a WADA agent showed up at her residence on the morning of June 14, 2018. Serena revealed this news at a pre-Wimbledon presser to stunned silence, and then declared the matter closed. ESPN dropped it.

I kept reporting these transgressions & inconsistencies, and kept commenting on the fake puff piece articles that were being churned out night & day by the ESPN machine. Serena Williams must of had at least 50 articles published about her during the French Open, through Wimbledon in the mainstream US sports media. Her comeback, her motherhood, all in glowing & favorable terms. ESPN buried the fake pectoral injury, with the missed drug test. ESPN never mentions TUE’s with the Williams sisters.

Previously I had only taken on NASCAR at ESPN.com. It was when Danica Patrick was still running, as she was a hot story. I rode it until the end, and it was worth it– for sure. I’m best known as a sportswriter for “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?”

The ESPN head writer for NASCAR is Bob Pockrass, who actually knows what he’s talking about & cares. He just isn’t allowed to say all of it, and that’s where I filled in as needed, as I didn’t like to see my favorite driver getting wrecked week after week– intentionally or otherwise.

But when the fixing of Wimbledon’s draw finally became apparent to everyone following the WTA, my comments drifted from the racetrack and became the rage of the ESPN tennis forum. A lot of tennis fans were instantly educated on the dirty underbelly of sports, meaning money & politics. On ESPN,com I posted through Facebook, using my primary account (and real) name Eric Meeker.

On this site on May 30, 2018, I published “Beauty, Athletics & Revolution” which became a serial that covered the women’s French Open. On July 8, I published “The World Cup & Sports Propaganda,”  which added an ending on July 14, so it covered women’s Wimbledon through the final. Much of the content of these articles came from the online comments I made on ESPN.com/tennis. This is when ESPN banned comments.

On August 16, 2018 I published “The Politics of Motherhood,” as the US Open approached, and it was apparent that Serena Williams was about to be handed another fixed draw. It is eerily prescient, as the result of the 2018 Women’s US Open is covered in “Despicable Manipulation & Thievery,” published September 10-11, discussing Serena Williams’ meltdown verses Naomi Osaka in the finals, as well as post-match accusations of sexism against an esteemed chair umpire.

Near the end at ESPN.com, in terms of readers being able to post, I was covering Serena Williams at Wimbledon, asking many, many questions concerning her conduct, and the women’s draw which appeared to have been rigged so she could easily reach the finals. She did so, before being crushed by Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2. Up to the day posting was removed on ESPN (July 6, 2018), I was seeing posts in the tennis forum such as, “I skipped directly to the comments!!”

Question: How you find out what’s the real score is? Answer: You read my comments on sports. ESPN didn’t like being shown up by someone whom they can’t even recognize, so they scrapped the comments section altogether. The cat was out of the bag already, and by the time Serena melted down in the US Open final (after another rigged draw), tennis fans didn’t need me to tell them what they were seeing anymore. This is why ESPN went dark on their comments. And people said that Ric Size vs. ESPN & Serena Williams was an unfair fight. To them I say, it was.

Rattling corporate media & management/ownership in front of the fans is anti-mainstream, even (especially?) when it’s true. If I post that RF Jay Bruce is worthless to both the Reds, and then the Mets (when it mattered), and then am proven right by events; well what does that do for the MLB & ESPN writing staff’s credibility? I’m affecting fake jobs with this level of dissent. Therefore I must be blacklisted, as these fake jobs protect real interests which must remain hidden. Sports is seen as a last line of ideological defense for capitalism in America. It anesthetizes the jock-heads.

You can do anything with a blog, even become an entire online newspaper– over time. As everyone knows, the sports section is crucial to any newspaper’s readership, which is why I discuss them so much. There is a lack of critical examination of sports, on-the-field & off-the-field. ESPN & Fox own most of the major US sports telecasts nowadays, and they don’t appreciate any dissent that makes them or their products look bad. That’s when the sponsors get nervous and start to make noise, which is where we are now.

Of all the articles I’ve published, “The Shohei Ohtani Pitch” is the one I have the most mixed-feelings over. After any necessary editing, which is too often needed I confess, I leave everything on this site up as is. Sometimes I’m proven wrong, and I don’t mind, as I still feel there is something worthwhile in everything I’ve posted.

There are times I wish I had an editor to check my mistakes, but to self-edit means holding yourself up to professional standards in proofreading & fact-checking. The plus side is that it allows for creativity & self-expression that any other editor wouldn’t tolerate. “The Shohei Ohtani Pitch” was an example of being wrong on one level (Ohtani signed with the Angels, not the Padres as I discuss for a few thousand words), but being right on a deeper level, as I revealed the MLB’s Black Hand in action– in real time.

That’s what it took to make me wrong on free agent Shohei Ohtani’s destination, and in the process I exposed ESPN’s Buster Olney acting as hatchet man for the Boston Red Sox. Olney angrily & repeatedly smeared the San Diego Padres front office as dirty players in this process through ESPN & MLB media while offering no proof, when it was in fact the Red Sox who tampered in this affair through these actions.

Tampering allegations against the Red Sox were only brought up by me, and it’s why I was banned from MLB.com. That, and exposing the collapse of the MLB free agent market last winter as it happened. By pitchers & catchers 2018, I knew I was permanently banned from MLB.com.

In “The Shohei Ohtani Pitch” I speculated on RHP Shohei Ohtani going to the San Diego Padres, as their GM AJ Preller had a personal relationship with him and those in his circle. Plus, Preller speaks Japanese. The Padres were the real favorites, until the Black Hand of MLB stepped in.

It was what I reported on my site and in the MLB comments section that caused this immediate mass censorship of all the MLB team forums. All 30 teams had a forum of fans, and the relationships were real & long-standing. This was destroyed overnight, to cover-up an ugly incident of manipulation by MLB, where they insisted a top talent be placed into a major market, to the exclusion of the team Shohei Ohtani probably wanted to sign with, which was the San Diego Padres.

On Friday morning, December 8, 2017  I posted:

Here’s another little coincidence for you. When I went to check the MLB site(s) on Friday morning– December 8, their page format which they have used for the last 5+ years has been completely changed. This is for the main site and ALL the teams; COMPLETELY reformatted, with everything repositioned and jumbled around. People are obviously confused, as the number of comments is way down. Maybe this is due to the fact that many comments’ sections that don’t even load. I try to post something on the latest Stanton piece— forget-about-it! This gets me thinking…

I click on a few of my links above, and they all load, but only the article [!]– no comments that others & I posted are to be seen. It’s a good thing I saved & published everything I posted, otherwise MLB, it’s writers, and fans wouldn’t have access to what happened during the Ohtani affair. Hey, I’m always thinking.

Friday, December 8 6:11 PM [a few hours after it is announced that Shohei Ohtani signs with the Angels]

I had waited to see if this was a zig-zag by AJP [Padres GM AJ Preller], to short-circuit a potential MLB investigation, but it isn’t. He may still be investigated, even though he lost. I leave what I’ve published above untouched, as this article is a character study more than anything else, and I have no issue admitting I was wrong about where RHP Shohei Ohtani would land in the end. It appears the Black Hand has stepped in, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that at this time.

The official Padres narrative is now that they lost Ohtani because they didn’t have enough money, and he wanted to DH. That’s just the opposite of what everybody claimed & indicated for weeks & weeks, but now it’s suddenly peddled as the truth. In a nutshell, the Red Sox were never players here, so their strategy was to foil the apparent victors– the Padres (whom they HATE), forcing Preller to kick Ohtani to his buddy Billy Eppler, or else MLB (Red Sox) would have eventually stripped and sanctioned the Padres. When ESPN media ran out Buster Olney, that was the signal. AJP complied.

The Black Hand message: move along everybody– move along; nothing to see here. This blog has done major damage to MLB, ESPN, many others’ credibility– even the Padres. No apologies to any of them.

Every fan member of MLB.com had their avatar & screen name removed, and had to re-register to get back in to post. Some never came back, and others gave up trying. The owners meetings occurred in Orlando, FL the following Monday December 11-14. I had to work in dentistry, and couldn’t attend. but I could imagine what was being said about Ric Size. I’m sure it was vehement, hateful, and went on for awhile.

MLB.com became a severely restricted site after the “Ohtani Affair,” which only I reported with any accuracy in the US sports media. It’s almost a year later, and there is still no one who has explained how the Anaheim Angels landed Shohei Ohtani, when they were never seen as in contention, and were never mentioned as a preference of his– until the very end.

Then came the Hot Stove season, where unfortunately nothing much warmed up for most of the MLB free agents. Comments on that (along with the Ohtani Affair), are what got me permanently banned from the MLB.com forums, sometime last winter. I noticed I was still allowed to ‘Like’ a comment, so I did where appropriate. Then that starting getting ghosted and was soon banned also. By Spring Training, all commenting had been banned in a few team forums, and by the end of the 2018 regular season there was no more fan commentary allowed or displayed for MLB teams on their own site.

Evidently, fans & players uniting and exchanging meaningful dialogue is not what MLB likes in their forums. The problem is that fans expect to be able to participate and share their thoughts with other fans, otherwise they feel alienated from the game. Banning comments in MLB team forums is like saying, “Come to our beautiful ballparks: spend and enjoy, just don’t tell anybody what you think.”

It feels more & more like owners and those in control in MLB only want our money, and have no interest in listening to fans who see major issues with the product. This just completed World Series was the 4th-lowest rated in television history. The Boston Red Sox over the LA Dodgers had two behemoth media markets going for it, and yet still couldn’t generate much fan interest.

Maybe that’s because this series was another AL beatdown, which was entirely predictable. This leads to fans not caring or watching as much, especially when they can’t talk to their longtime online baseball friends anymore. This is a conscious ownership policy that is seriously damaging the game. There will be less fans & money if this censorship is allowed to continue.

I made it a rule to not become personal friends with any of the people behind the handles & avatars in these forums, as I consider myself a student of the game & a reporter. But with the Padres forum, I felt an attachment and a sense of family. The others who posted regularly all have identities to me, whether they chose to reveal themselves openly, or simply in what they think, and when they said it. What you find in an online group such as what I’m describing is a cross-section of society, coming together to share a mutual interest.

I recall a time when one long-time Padres fan in the forum died. When someone posted what had happened, everyone became sad & sympathetic. Baseball became secondary for a brief time in that forum. That’s got very little to do with baseball, and everything to do with human friendship & solidarity. Fans of baseball (and all sports) need to recognize that they are the critical element, that is being abused. Fans bring the money & interest to the game, which drives media & pays salaries. If fans can’t participate in the fun, or if it’s all fixed, why should they support the game?

MLB thinks it owns the game, but the truth is the players and fans own it. The problem is capitalism, which has allowed extreme exploitation of the players since its19th-century beginnings. Fast-forward to 2018, and most players entering free agency this winter aren’t going to get the rich paydays they were promised by their agents, union officials & even MLB itself. Sure RF Bryce Harper (QO), SS Manny Machado & RHP Patrick Corbin (QO) will get big-time offers; but the rest will be low-balled.

Those two players parenthesized in the last sentence are the only ones who will get a qualifying offer this November, which is $17.9M for one year. It used to be that 10+ players would get a QO. GM’s finally got smart, and realize the draft picks are invaluable, and now don’t like to lose them as compensation. They’ll only give up a draft pick anymore, if it’s a top-tier free agent like Harper, etc. Younger players are cheaper, and often better, and all GM’s know this by now. The MLBPA agreed to this CBA which runs 2017-21, so the players are shafted until then– unless they organize a wildcat strike.

Update Sunday November 4, 2018: A total of seven QO’s were made on Friday, November 2 in MLB. Beyond the expected offers to Bryce Harper & Patrick Corbin, were Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock, and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and catcher Yasmani Grandal. These players have 10 days to accept a $17.9 million salary for 2019, or become free agents with draft pick compensation. The five players I listed after Harper & Corbin should all accept their qualifying offers, as they won’t get better deals on the free agent market. Especially Grandal & Ryu.

Fox Sports still allows online commenting of their articles, as of this publication. This may sound strange, but it actually isn’t. Fox is openly right-wing, and thus the forum censors itself with its reactionary membership. I don’t bother posting in there, and neither does anyone else who has a brain that actively functions. Notice it’s the “liberal” ESPN & MLB crowd who are the biggest advocates & implementers of online censorship.

Thus, for baseball fans, there is no longer a league-moderated forum for fans to interact & talk baseball, due to the political ideology of the owners & sponsors. Those who make ESPN out to be the 800-pound gorilla, are lying as the entire network is a mirage. Most who work there know next-to-nothing about the sports they claim to cover, and even less about business. Most are simply parasites, latched onto a good thing, which they won’t give up until it’s dead. These parasites are what’s wrong with sports. At the most fundamental level, the owners, commissioners & network power players are the social class that must be expelled from sports for them to be sustained with any integrity & human interest.

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MLB Predictions: Reviewed

Preface: This is yet another article I intended as a one-off, but the situation changed and required further explanation– thus turning it into a 7,500-word serial. I’m abusing the new time-stamp feature, as you’ll see. First published on September 22, the main contents here are in italics, and deal with the last day of the MLB regular season, and the following two days through the NL Wild Card game on October 2, 2018.

Hall-of-fame Yankees catcher & dugout philosopher Yogi Berra famously pointed out that, “It ain’t over, until it’s over.” Decades later the times are indeed a-changin’, and that’s when a Marxist philosopher who loves baseball comes along and slaps an asterisk on that proverb by clarifying that, “It ain’t over, until it can’t be overturned.”

I’m going to do something that few other sportswriters do, which is analyze my pre-season predictions. There is one week remaining in the MLB season as of this publication, as these screenshots and analysis cover everything through September 21. This can be done because all the serious races have been decided. This piece will take a close look at Pythagorean record (X-W/L) using runs scored & allowed to determine if a team was “lucky” or “unlucky” in 2018. Any team that veers more than +/- two wins from their actual record can be considered either lucky or unlucky. That can tell you a lot about their expectations in this post-season & 2019.

AL East Prediction:
Contenders: Yankees, Red Sox (WC)
Pretenders: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

What happened: The Red Sox had the highest payroll in MLB, and are currently 105-49, but their X-W/L says they should be 98-56. That’s still good enough to win the division, but they’ve also been extremely lucky. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, but not by as wide a margin as some would have you believe. I predicted the Yankees would win this division, so I was wrong there. But I also said that whoever is the Wild Card in the AL East, will win the play-in game, which is the most significant advantage to winning the division. Once you’re past that, then everything is equalized in the divisional round. What I’m saying is that if the Yankees overpower the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card play-in game, which is what I (and most) expect to happen, then it doesn’t matter who finished 1st & 2nd in the AL East. If the A’s win, then I was really wrong; otherwise I’m correct about everything in the AL that counts, except the second Wild Card. I also predicted the Orioles would be a complete joke, and they are. See: Chris “Crash” Davis, and this offensively bad pitching staff.

AL Central Prediction:
Contenders: Indians, Twins (WC)
Pretenders: Royals, White Sox, Tigers

What happened: No brainer picking the Indians, as they are they only good team in this division. They won despite being extremely unlucky, with a record that is 7 wins below their Pythagorean. That means this team is a bit of a sleeper, and with the acquisition of relievers Brad Hand & Adam Cimber from the Padres at the deadline, they are stacked in the pen. The AL pennant is a heavyweight battle royale, and it’s easy to overlook Cleveland. That would be a mistake, as this is one of the best-run franchises in MLB today. The Twins were the second Wild Card in 2017, and looked like strong contenders to repeat to that plateau with their off-season additions, but it never happened in 2018. This division may be the worst in MLB, and it’s why I picked the Twins for the Wild Card. The Rays are better than any non-Cleveland team in this division, and probably would have won the second AL Wild Card had they played in this division or the AL West.

AL West Predictions:
Contender: Astros
Pretenders: Angels, Mariners, A’s, Rangers

What happened: The Houston Astros are like Cleveland, in that they have been extremely unlucky, yet they both won their divisions easily– as expected. The Angels acquired this past winter’s most coveted prize Shohei Ohtani, and have proceeded to wreck him. Ohtani needs TJ surgery on his pitching elbow, yet he is still in the lineup DH-ing, even though the season has long been lost. I thought the Halos could finish as high as second, but they fell to fourth. The Mariners hung around for awhile because they were the luckiest team in MLB this year. Seattle is currently 84-69, with a negative run differential [!], which means they really are a 72-81 team. This is an old team full of holes and payroll bloat, so look for a major correction in 2019 for the Mariners. A big reason Oakland gets the second AL Wild Card is because this is a mediocre-to-weak division. Texas is awful, and will be for a long time now.

NL East Predictions:
Contender: Nationals
Pretenders: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

What happened: Everyone got this one wrong, as no one predicted a collapse from the Nationals. One warning sign I noted early was the hiring of Dave “Vodka” Martinez to replace Dusty Baker a manager. Baker had to go and everyone knew it, but this is a veteran team with a championship roster. The Gnats needed a manger with experience, and instead they went cheap and hired a rookie with no managing experience– anywhere. I haven’t been a fan of this franchise since they moved from Montreal, because they became just the opposite of what they were. In Canada, the Expos were a savvy small-market franchise that developed players from within, and kept payroll low. In Washington they’ve been a payroll behemoth personified by a front office & ownership that has little brains. I do feel for Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and all the rest, because they deserved better and were ultimately let down by this lack of leadership.

With this collapse in DC, someone else had to step in and win this division, and certainly the Marlins & Mets weren’t capable. A few remaining Marlins fans wondered what might have been, if Derek Jeter & co. hadn’t blown everything up upon arrival. That left it to the Phillies & Braves, with Atlanta having the best roster mix of veterans & young talent. I think the Braves are second-rate to the Cubs & Dodgers as far as NL division winners go, but they deserve credit for stepping up when an opportunity presented itself in 2018. I’ll only change my mind on these Braves when they prove it in the post-season. They’re young & talented, so who knows…?

NL Central Predictions:
Contender: Cubs, Cardinals (WC)
Pretenders: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

What happened: The Cubs won the division, but are starting to look more & more beatable. Their Hu Darvish signing was the worst free-agent deal of this past winter, and will financially cripple them down the road. With that said, they’re still capable of winning it all in 2018. As I mentioned in my pre-season notes, the Brewers made the two best acquisitions of the off-season in free-agent CF Lorenzo Cain & LF Christian Yelich. The prospects the Brewers gave up in the Yelich trade were garbage, as this was the biggest steal of the past winter. That, and obtaining just enough pitching is what got the Brewers an NL Wild Card. The Cardinals managed to hang around until the end, as they always do. This is the kind of franchise they are, in that even when they aren’t particularly good, they can still get by, and they are going to get the second NL Wild Card. Overall this division is mediocre by NL standards, even though it has both Wild Cards.

* Since the Padres are out, I’m rooting for the Brewers this fall.

Update: Sunday September 30, 2018  ~ 7:00 PM

The MLB regular season is over as of this writing, with 162 games in the books; and yet nothing is over in 2 of the 3 National League divisions. In the NL Central, the Cubs & Brewers have 95 wins, while the Dodgers & Rockies have 91 wins apiece. This means a one-game play-off for their division titles, with the losers of each slotting in as a Wild Card.

What this means is MORE slow-down of the MLB action, while we clear these division winners up. The owners & networks are primarily responsible for this, however you may feel. I feel this hair-splitting should be decided by the tie-breaker– which is head-to-head record.

It’s just not that important at this level of mediocrity, so let’s get on with it. We’ve already had 162 games to decide this, and if that’s not enough, then this is how we do it. Everyone knows in advance, so it’s fair. You only need these games to eliminate for the 2nd Wild Card slot, otherwise the best head-to-head record decides all tiebreakers. Clean & fair, and most importantly it keeps everything on track. There are enough games already, so I also will advocate for a 154-games MLB schedule, to balance out for the expanded post-season & multiple play-in games.

The Wild Card is a cheap gimmick and big-market insurance policy. The irony is that it takes the focus away from excellence (Red Sox), and mires the narrative in mediocrity, at least for a while. Now, even after 162 games, the regular season doesn’t go away. It’s still there for 4 NL teams. Of all these deciding games, the only one that actually matters is the Wild Card game. IMO, all these contests should be counted as regular season games, as teams aren’t in the post season until they get to the Divisional Round. That’s what it really is.

Part of the beauty of MLB from 1969-93, was its fair, yet unforgivably cruel divisional format, which only rewarded excellence. Winning the division after 162 games, meant being in the LCS. Everyone else went home. In that era, MLB went from a marathon grind, to high-intensity top-quality action for a pennant– instantly!

The “innovation” of the Wild Card was introduced in 1994, the notorious “Strike Season,” and it’s purpose was/is to allow the Red Sox & Yankees to be in the post-season every year. A big-market team wracked with injuries & under-performance inevitably gets a second opportunity to redeem itself after losing the division.

This series of amputations, once done naturally and cleanly by the format, is today’s MLB play-ins & play-offs; broadcast in slow-motion, and painfully framed in stages by Fox. These are your four-and-a-half hour Sox-Yankees broadcasts, that go well past midnight on the east coast. It summons adjectives ranging from mind-numbing & bombastic to boring & unwatchable.

The AL post-season is East coast bias, while the NL (real baseball) is still in hypothetical land. This fan yawns, “Wake me up for the LCS’s. Enough hypotheticals & mediocrity dominating the narrative. It’s supposed to be clarity, and all quality by now, but we have neither.

Again the narrative is where it shouldn’t be. The AL is the much stronger league, and will be heavy favorites in the World Series, regardless of their NL opponent. Astros, Yankees & Red Sox each won at least a 100 games. Cleveland won 91, and the second AL Wild Card Oakland won 97.  Incidentally, the Rays won 90 games and finished a distant third in the stacked AL East. The Royals & White Sox both lost 100 games, while the Tigers lost 98. The AL Central is a BAD division from second to last.

Home field advantage in the WS is determined by overall record now. It’s very likely the AL will have it, which is significant because of the DH. It is this rule that allows the AL to create powerhouses that crush NL teams head-to-head over time. In a short series the DH advantage is reduced, but is still significant, as the rules are set now.

Home-field advantage in Games 6 & 7 (if necessary), create a window for umpiring & review bias to influence events favorably for the home team. The Yankees & Red Sox have notoriously the most foul-mouthed, invasive & rabidly-out-of control fans in MLB. The umpires & media are all influenced by this set-up.

It’s not just having 4 homes games to the NL’s 3. It’s about having the advantage in the two most crucial games of a close & competitive series. If it’s a rout or sweep, it’s probably the AL doing it to the NL anyways.

I had to update this piece, because I was wrong about how the NL season would end, even with only 9 games to play. The difference between the 9 days that elapsed since this piece was published is that the Cardinals proved they weren’t a play-off team. As a baseball fan, I’m happy the NL West gets a Wild Card, because they deserve it.

The NL East Braves won 90 games, eight games better than the second place Gnats. The Phillies slipped to 3rd in the end, and finished 80-82. Free agent splash RHP Jake Arrieta was a disappointment, and the Phils owe him 2/$50M. The Miami Marlins finished with the worst record in the NL at 63-99. Congratulations to Mike Hill, Derek Jeter & Bruce Sherman on avoiding 100 losses. The Padres won 66 games, second worst in the NL.

In the AL, the Orioles went 47-115, worst in baseball. Forty seven wins means their entire roster was replacement level. To be fair, they underplayed their Pythagorean by eight wins, so they were actually a little better than their record– but still horrible. Everyone expects a major housecleaning operation from top-to-bottom at Camden Yards, but the question remains: What bright young GM, that is needed to turn this shipwreck of a franchise around, will work for this owner? Orioles fans need to fire their owner, by pressuring him to sell. Don’t buy MLB-priced tickets for this AAAA team– I say. Otherwise Angelos will just hire another “Yes man” like GM Dan Duquette. Orioles owner Peter Angelos has been an albatross to this franchise for too long, as he’s the one who is most responsible for the Chris Davis contract. There’s no hope of bringing in the brain-power needed to fix things, with Angelos meddling & in charge.

Mon 01 Oct 2018 05:21:37 PM EDT

Final from Wrigley Field: Brewers win 3-1, and celebrate a divisional championship, punching their ticket to the Divisional Round as the NL’s #1 seed. They will play TBD on Thursday, at a still undetermined time. The Cubs & their fans witnessed all this, but it doesn’t hurt too much. The Cubs can shake it off, and go get ’em tomorrow at Wrigley against TBD @ 8:00 PM on ESPN. It sure is nice to have Wild Card insurance. Keeps the big boys fat & happy.

Meanwhile out west, the Rockies & Dodgers are facing off at Chavez Ravine. There was a time in MLB (pre-1994), when two teams finished in a tie for the divisional title, and it was magic. One game, sudden death, for all the marbles. Back then winning the division meant you eliminated ALL your rivals & arch-rivals, and got to face the other division winner that did the same to theirs. The point is, in real baseball the Cubs would be eliminated right now. They lost Game 163, and that means you go home for the season– by the rules of real baseball. Unfortunately Bud Selig and the rest of the owners conspired with the networks to give fans this version of a MLB “pennant race” & “post-season” back in the 1990’s when no one was looking. As a lifetime fan, I can attest that this version of MLB is much inferior to the old one. It wasn’t broke, yet they had to “fix” it, and that’s arrogance for you.

My solution is to eliminate the Wild Card. The division winner with the best record goes directly to the LCS. The other two division winners face off, best-of-5. Head-to-head record and strength of division would be fair tie-breakers, as needed. Rotate the home field advantage for World Series, NL in even years and AL in odd years; like it used to be, from the time the DH was first introduced in 1973. Then finally, phase out the DH. That’s how you restore competitive balance, by eliminating these “innovations” introduced by greedy & short-sighted owners & their cronies in corporate media.

At Dodger Stadium, it’s 0-0 in the bottom of the 4th. It should be a charged atmosphere in LA right now, but it isn’t. Remember, this is LA and much of the crowd is still arriving. The team & fan mood there is hopeful. Hopeful they don’t have to fly to Chicago tomorrow, but they will if they have to. Can someone please rationally explain to me what the MLB regular season was for, besides making money?

Mon 01 Oct 2018 06:55:09 PM EDT

Right after (or as?) I was signing off, CF Cody Bellinger hit a 2-run HR to get the Dodgers started. Another 2-run homer in the 5th by 1B Max Muncy, and the Dodgers were on their way to a divisional title. Dodgers fans LOVE a blow-out win. It means they can leave early to “beat the traffic,” with little guilt. It turns out I was correct on the NL West after all, and if I even cared, I would loudly proclaim vindication. As someone who follows the NL West, the Dodgers are better than everyone else, even with all those injuries.

So it’s the Rockies who will fly to Chicago for Game 164 to determine who goes to the NL play-offs. When the “tie-breaker” game got to 5-0, Rockies manager Bud Black went with mostly mop-up options in relief, as this game was lost. It’s best to save the premium bullpen arms for the game that actually matters, the Wild Card game. Wade Davis & Adam Ottavino will be ready in the Rockies pen, and that’s how you have to play it if you are Bud Black. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

The Cubs starter will be their ace, lefty Jon Lester who was maneuvered in the rotation by Joe Maddon weeks in advance to pitch this game if needed. Otherwise he’d have started Game 1 of the NLDS. The Wild Card hurts the Cubs in these ways: 1) if they lose to the Rockies, 2) if they win, they lose Lester leading off the NLDS and can only start him once in the best-of-5, and 3) they yield home field advantage to the division winners.

That’s it, as everything else is equalized, and everyone is 0-0 again after the Wild Card play-in winner is determined. The regular season has been over for 24+ hours now, but we still have a ways to go towards determining the playoff picture. Can you feel the excitement?

The Rockies starter will be either 5th starter, righty Antonio Senzatela; or their ace on short rest, lefty Kyle Freeland. I’m guessing the Rockies go with the latter. This sets everything up in the Cubs wheelhouse, and this is your MLB Wild Card in action. Call it the house edge for the establishment favorites, and even though the Brewers just defeated the Cubs and won their division, I’m already picturing a (re)match-up in the Divisional  Round, and I’m not alone. In a week the Cubs could be returning the favor to the Brewers & their fans in Miller Park.

As for the Rockies, they were the bullies of the NL West in 2018. That’s a Padres fan perspective. They threw at Padres repeatedly (who had no starting pitching to defend their hitters), and broke CF Manny Margot’s wrist intentionally, for no good reason. With that said, I still hope the Rockies beat the Cubs tomorrow, but I know better. The pressure will be on the Rockies to get an early lead, and if they don’t the percentages (and short rest) will likely crack them. It’s baseball, and anything can happen, but you need to be aware of the fix and this is as close as it gets in MLB.

Mon 01 Oct 2018 09:03:19 PM EDT

This consistent unfair bias towards big market franchises can be seen in the post-season seeding in the NL. The Brewers finished 96-67, highest win total in the NL. The Cubs were second highest at 95, but will be the 4th-seed, because they are the Wild Card. Just because, on that. That means the #2-seeded Dodgers (92-71) host the #3-seeded Braves who won only 90 games. The Brewers would surely prefer to face the Braves, and maybe even the Dodgers, but they have no choice, as it’s been decided in advance by the powers-that-be. Note how this leaves the possibility of a Dodgers-Cubs NLCS, which is what MLB & ESPN/Fox want. In the AL they want the Red Sox or Yankees in the World Series every year.

Also note that the AL Wild Card game could have been switched with the NL Wild Card game, as far as the Tuesday/Wednesday dates go. The Rockies, who won 9 of 10 games to end the season in a tie with LA. They haven’t had an off-day since September 20. The A’s @ Yankees is scheduled for Wednesday night, meaning they both get two off-days. Do you believe ANYONE but me has brought up the idea that it would be in the best interests of MLB to accommodate the weariness of the Rockies here? Most ESPN & Fox sports reporters couldn’t name three Rockies players in 10 seconds. In contrast, they know everyone on the Cubs as the background is already done. So who do who YOU like in the big game tomorrow? Also know that the Yankees (& Red Sox) never accommodate anyone for the best interest of all. That’s why they’re so despised. It’s the corrupt power structure behind all this that I despise.

Wed 03 Oct 2018 01:25:41 AM EDT

Cubs-Rockies 2018 NL Wild Card wrap-up: Tons of pitching changes, as this game went past midnight in two time zones, ending at ~1:07 AM ET. Rockies win 2-1, in 13 innings. The starters pitched well, as expected, but were long gone by the time things were decided at Wrigley Field. The Colorado Rockies got a run in the top of the 1st on a sacrifice fly, and ace LHP Kyle Freeland (on 3 days rest) made it hold up through 6.2, leaving the game with a 1-0 lead. On normal rest Freeland probably would have gone 8 IP, and the Rockies would have won 1-0. But instead Rockies righty set-up man Adam Ottavino gave up the tying run in the 8th, and this affair became a battle of bullpens & benches.

Rockies manager Bud Black used 5 relief pitchers, and Joe Maddon used 8 relievers, including 2 starters: Cole Hamels & (losing pitcher) Kyle Hendricks. He also used his entire bench, as many Cubs played multiple positions. Home plate umpire Chris Guccione was solid with balls & strikes, and there were no umpire or replay controversies that affected the outcome. The Rockies play the Brewers in the Divisional Round, which is much more fair to the NL Central champions, versus having to beat the Cubs again. This is a major MLB upset, as the Rockies had every disadvantage you could name, and still managed to beat the Cubs. That’s baseball.

I learn a lot about the hidden nuances of baseball, as compared to those who watch games on television, by following along (as needed) on MLB Gameday. Online is where the numbers of every pitch, the results of all balls put into play, and a running box score are kept for in-game reference. Highlights come soon enough, if one remains alert & patient with the MLB video feed. If you really want to know what’s happening, then you have to do some work, and this is the tool to get it done.

IMO, this is WAAAYYY better than listening to ESPN or Fox announcers, who mostly should be muted while switching to a radio broadcast, if entertainment is the desired goal. Those “golden voices” are mostly gone now, or at minimum, taken off-the-air during modern MLB post-season broadcasts. Their best replacement is Gameday, which gives intelligent baseball fans the data they need, particularly in identifying how pitchers are working hitters and any drop in velocity. Also, as soon as I start seeing inconsistent balls & strikes umpiring, I’m looking at the home plate umpire’s name in the box score. Teams all have vast troves of data on this stuff now.

The best-run franchises in MLB have this in common: they are all well-coordinated from ownership to GM to dugout manager to the players. This extends through the minors & globally. There is little-to-no disharmony in their words & actions concerning the product on the field, or the direction the organization is taking. The GM job is the most crucial, as they must handle the manager & the players, as well as upper-management & ownership– quite a juggling act. Responsibility for an organization’s success or failure most squarely rests on a GM’s shoulders.

A manager needs to understand when he must sit veterans, in order to give playing time to young talent, so an accurate determination of baseball abilities can be made. A GM needs this, so he doesn’t trade away a future All-Star or HoF-er, because he didn’t get enough at-bats or starts as a prospect. When a season becomes lost, organizational priorities change, and the dugout manager must yield extra consideration to the GM, who needs a large-enough sample size to evaluate young players, because growth is involved. Everybody is looking at potential, and grading on improvement. It’s not what you are now, as much as what you can become. That’s the job requirement for at least half the managers in MLB.

A manager’s job is to manage his 25-man roster. That means getting to know, and caring about his players as real people, instead of treating them like pieces of meat. Too many old-school managers crash their roster, or don’t get enough out of the available talent, as they let their egos dictate because they lack brains. It’s a manager’s job to not abuse his pitchers. He needs to know how to build & handle his bullpen, and use his bench. Proper leadership prevents injuries, which always need to be managed, and not allowed to linger on, be rushed back, or go unreported, otherwise they can wreck a roster.

All this requires GM involvement, as players on the 40-man roster are shuffled up & down as depth issues come up. Trade deadline acquisitions are also a team decision for an organization. There needs to be complete agreement on what is needed, and what to give up. Today’s manager needs to be quotable & media friendly, to take the heat off his players and stick up for them as needed. Good managers never trash their players or organization through the media, as all dirty laundry is handled professionally, in house, and in person. In short, winning teams have deep pockets, roster depth, and management that knows how to use it. The Astros are the best at this game right now.

The best teams at this in recent years have been the Astros, Giants, Cubs, Indians, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Braves, A’s, Rays, and Padres. That’s a diverse group as far as winning goes, spread out at different points on the win curve, but if you look closely at these examples of elite MLB organizational management, you’ll see how all these franchises have succeeded, or in the case of the Padres, will be the next to succeed. They consider & play every angle.

As for the AL Wild Card, I hope the A’s win, and then go on to sweep the Red Sox. Wouldn’t it be nice? At this point a fan can still dream of it, so I’m ending this serial here. An ending in the middle. It’s true that baseball holds the key to many of the cosmological riddles of our time and I see great things in it, but it’s also a job and mine is over here. With that said, I’ll finish my remaining thoughts on the game here in italics, and when tomorrow night’s reality arrives, I’ll happily be doing something else & not caring.

The fact is the Yankees would win two-out-of-three of these type games at The House That Ruthlessness Built, if they played a large enough sample to determine. A 33% chance for the A’s may be generous, but it also proves that baseball can be unpredictable. What’s published here is proof of that.

The two-Wild Card format began in 2012, and it was an upgrade as it finally made the Wild Card a play-in game. Before that there was no difference between winning the division or Wild Card, except for seeding in the post-season & draft order. The results in the NL have been either: 1) big-market powerhouses (Giants, Cubs) smashing middling second-Wild Card entries, or 2) a Reds-Pirates type affair. Until the Rockies beat the Cubs in 2018.

The Astros were moved to the AL in 2013, from the 6-team NL Central to the 4-team AL West, transforming that franchise, while finally providing competitive balance (and sensible interleague scheduling) for 30 MLB teams. In the AL since 2012, the Wild Card has been won by: the Orioles, Rays, Royals, Astros (over Yankees) in 2015, Blue Jays (over Orioles) in 2016, and the Yankees in 2017. That’s a lot of AL East participation & winning, you may have noticed. The only year the AL East didn’t have a Wild Card team under this format was in 2014, when the Royals beat the A’s.

Those were (coincidentally) the last years of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, etc, and the Yankees were actually rebuilding. Meanwhile the Red Sox had their two worst seasons in recent history in 2014 & 2015. That gave the Royals a window to win a World Series, which they did in 2015. It was definitely an anomaly in MLB. The Royals have now collapsed, and the Red Sox have since traded the farm to become a win-now heavyweight, which is considered the new “normal” for fall in New England.

Concerning free agency this winter, there is much that can be predicted with accuracy. Owners have been told by their GM’s that they shouldn’t overpay for veterans, unless they are top-tier non-pitchers. See RHP Hu Darvish, who signed with the Cubs, and had been on the DL since, with all kinds of arm troubles. That’s 6 years, $126 million down the drain. It was Eric Hosmer & JD Martinez who were coveted last winter. This year it will be SS Manny Machado of the Dodgers, and RF Bryce Harper of the Nationals. Neither will get anything close to the kind of money that they had hoped for, or been hyped on. Bryce Harper is the youngest, about to turn 26, so he can expect an 8-year deal at maximum money. A few years ago, many owners would throw that kind of offer any age 30-ish slugger.

The bigger problem is that mid-tier free agents are getting far fewer big-money offers than they’ve seen in the past. A 2/$10 million deal is a common FA player deal these days. Many free agent pitchers had to take one-year deals. A 4-5-year deal only goes to free agent performers who are in demand. Last winter was the MLB free-agent market crash, and I reported it on this site. It got me kicked off the MLB.com forum, if you need an idea of how sensitive this issue is. Players of all experience levels in Spring Training 2018 had pointed questions for their MLBPA representatives on this heated topic. Their perspective is that if they’re exploited in the minors, and underpaid as arbitration eligible big-leaguers; then what’s the point of free agency if they can’t get a contract that fairly compensates them for their value– past, present or future? Veterans are now dumped for cheaper options, and never get the payday they were promised by the MLBPA union & their agents. This issue won’t just “go away,” so look for it during the hot stove season.

Back to this post-season & its format, an undiscussed point on big market favoritism that pervades MLB is the World Series home field advantage decider. As mentioned above, it is best overall record that decides home field advantage in the Fall Classic. In the World Series, being a division winner is declared irrelevant by MLB, and it’s suddenly best overall record that decides home field advantage. In the AL, the Yankees & A’s are the Wild Cards. The winner doesn’t get home field advantage in the Divisional or ALCS rounds– if they get that far, but they’ll have home field advantage in the World Series if they make it, because they both had a better overall record than all the NL division winners.

There is no consistency to any of this “logic,” until your realize the deeper bias involved. Every year the high-payroll Yankees & Red Sox slug it out in the AL East, and are often the teams with the two best records in MLB– like this year. This flip in the rules for a Wild Card, allows both the Yankees & Red Sox to have home field advantage in the World Series, whomever the Wild Card may be. This year is was the Yankees. This is significant, because of the DH advantage for the AL.

The DH is a major distortion in the rules of baseball. MLB is the only professional sports organization that has significantly different rules for their competing leagues. The NFL has the same rules for the NFC/AFC, and the NBA the same rules for their Eastern & Western Conferences. Same thing in the NHL and everywhere else, except maybe NASCAR– where the rules change week-by-week.

The DH allows the Red Sox to start HoF-ers like RHP’s Pedro Martinez & Curt Schilling, and move this slot in the batting order up to 3rd, so HoF-hitter David Ortiz can pinch hit for them every time. Instant “Babe Ruth” through the DH, to end “The Curse.” Plus, AL pitchers can throw at anyone they please, without ever having to face retribution at the plate. Ain’t the DH grand? The problem is that it’s unfair to most AL teams that can’t afford to compete at that level of payroll, and it’s completely unfair to NL teams, who can’t carry a DH on their 25-man roster during the season.

That’s why interleague play is dominated by the AL, who win two-thirds of the contests, so of course [!] all the AL powerhouses will own the best overall records in MLB. The AL almost always wins the All-Star Game too, as more power pitching & hitting is required to compete in the AL, due to the DH. For years the All-Star game winner was tied to World Series home field advantage. This reflected the same bias. Now there’s a new method to achieve the same desired results.

The World Series winners are closer to even, with a slight advantage to the AL. Both teams get a chance to adjust their 25-man rosters before the World Series, which can help a NL team add a bat they may need. Since 1995, the first season with the Wild Card “innovation” that was played to completion, through 2017; the AL has won the World Series 12 times, and the NL 11 times. In the 23 All-star games during that span, the AL is 17-5-1. * There was a tie in 2002, at Miller Park with MLB commissioner/ex-owner Bud Selig (now a HoF-er) in attendance. To summarize, in a short series (small sample size) like the Fall Classic, the best NL teams can overcome the DH, but it’s still a disadvantage to them. Over time with a large number of games, the NL gets get crushed by the DH.

What these findings & conclusions on this biased format indicate, is that MLB prefers the Yankees or Red Sox to win the World Series every year, as the rules are all set up to that effect. Don’t forget that the MLB rules committee & replay umpiring is run out of New York, and is supervised by the likes of ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre. BTW, who are these replay officials–specifically? Fans would like their names & faces– for accountability. Everyone else in baseball is accountable for their actions, so why do these replay umpires in New York keep themselves anonymous, hidden & far away? To ask the question is to answer it.

Meanwhile, lookout for replay bias in the post-season, as it’s happened too often in the past for fans to ignore. When a controversial call is made, it overwhelmingly favors the big-market franchise. Those bad calls are glossed over by network announcers, swept under-the-rug by the corporate media, and ended with the ultimate excuse, “the Yankees/Red Sox/Cubs/Dodgers would have won anyways.” On the other hand, when a controversial call goes against one of these big-name favorites, there is hysterical indignation in the ESPN-led sports media for a week.

What I’ve highlighted & exhaustively analyzed here (concluded after the NL Wild Card game), is a lot of really small stuff that no one else talks about, yet subtly works in the background– always to the advantage of the favored franchises. So why is this? The answer is money & TV ratings. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a US mid-term election on November 6, and political advertising has already been paid-for. The last thing MLB and it’s network sponsors want are the Oakland A’s vs. the Milwaukee Brewers or Colorado Rockies in the World Series. That may be an intriguing match-up from a purist standpoint, the problem is there are WAY more greedy politicians than baseball purists running & influencing MLB from behind-the-scenes.

MLB manipulates all this because it needs the Yankees or Red Sox to battle the Cubs or Dodgers for all this to pay off. Professional sports is big money & politics, so Cleveland or Houston winning the pennant would be considered a disappointment in the AL, as would be the Braves winning it in the NL. After the Cubs lost the Wild Card game, it was instantly down to the Dodgers for most MLB executives as far as the NL is concerned. Once you absorb all this, then you are ready to watch the MLB post-season with a fair idea of what to expect, and how it’s going to be called.

NL West
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (WC)
Pretenders: Padres, Rockies, Giants

What happened: The high-payroll Dodgers weathered a barrage of injuries, and outlasted everyone in the competitive NL West. The Rockies surprised me some, as I thought the Diamondbacks were better positioned to repeat themselves for a Wild Card run. If you look at their Pythagorean records (ARZ & COL) you’ll see their places in the standing should be reversed, an example of luck factor which you can’t prognosticate in baseball. The Giants doubled down on veterans over the winter in a vain attempt to make another miracle. Look for wholesale roster changes in SF this winter, as they finished fourth. This is still the toughest division in the NL from top-to-bottom.

I’m a Padres fan, so I optimistically picked the Friars to rise to third place out West, but quickly realized this was a last-place team. In 2017 the Padres were 71-91 and finished fourth, but their Pythagorean record was 59-103. I overlooked that Pythagorean, and that’s why I’m emphasizing it here. The reason the Padres overplayed their record by 12 games in 2017 was 1) Andy Green is an elite manager, and 2) LHP Brad Hand had a season for the ages. Andy Green used Hand often & precisely, and he delivered time & time again. In 2017, there were so many situations where Brad Hand came in a serious jam, and he got the strikeout and/or double play ground ball to end the threat. Hand saved his bullpen mates a ton of runs, and made them look a lot better (ERA wise) than they actually were.

It would be an impossible to expect him to repeat that performance in 2018, and Hand wasn’t quite as good this season, although he’s still an All-Star. The Padres dealt him before the trade deadline to Cleveland for Francisco Mejia, the top catching prospect in MLB. The Padres have played Mejia extensively already and are impressed. This looks like a win-win trade, which is what you like to see when this kind of talent is involved.

Final analysis & Padres notes: As we can see, I got some stuff right and other stuff wrong. Most of the right stuff was easy to predict, as not much has changed in MLB. I’ve admitted my errors and shown you that I don’t know everything about baseball. Don’t you wish more sports-media types would do this? It will probably be another year or two before we see significant turnover in the top teams, as the best-run franchises are pretty well established now, and the second-division teams have a long way to go. The fate & direction of the Nationals will be a big story this winter.

The best bet for a surprise NL contender in 2019 will be the San Diego Padres who have the top farm system in MLB, with a few pieces in already place. Wil Myers moving to 3B will be a big help to the Padres, if he can stay healthy and hold down the position. They have top prospect SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and hitting machine 2B Luis Urias ready to fill in their infield. Age-23 RF Franmil Reyes has been a huge surprise for the Padres in this developmental campaign. He fits with CF Manny Margot and LF Hunter Renfroe who has also shown progress in 2018. Same for Austin Hedges, who is now a legit MLB catcher. They’re still probably another year or two away, but you can see it coming if you’re paying attention.

A big factor in the improvement of these young core players was the addition of free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, who sacrificed personal numbers to provide necessary leadership for this fragile team. This definitely took its toll, making him look bad in 2018, but his efforts weren’t lost on Andy Green & real Padres fans. For the first half of the season, Eric Hosmer was the only Padres position player to be healthy & above replacement level.

The reason this team hasn’t lost 100+ games in a season at any time during this painful building process is because of ownership support for A.J. Preller & Andy Green, who are geniuses at what they do. The Padres are currently one game below their X-W/L in 2018, and much of that is due to the bias in umpiring (on-the-field & replay) that has consistently gone against them. The Padres have been repeated victims of inexplicably bad calls, including the worst umpiring call in the history of baseball, which was barely mentioned in the media. It’s taken a few wins away for sure.

Of course, it’s all about pitching in terms of who wins in baseball, and the Padres dumped/demoted their remaining veterans a few months back, and have turned their rotation over to rookies & prospects to see what they have. Young LHP’s Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and RHP Jacob Nix are the starters Green & Preller are watching the most closely. When the waves of top pitching talent start making an impact at Petco Park, the Padres will be a force in the NL. The priority for GM A.J. Preller this winter is to protect his prospects from the Rule 5 Draft in December, and then possibly make a deal for an ace pitcher– if one becomes available.

Tue 02 Oct 2018 01:17:08 PM EDT

Padres Notes Wrap-up:

The San Diego Padres went 66-96, and they saved their best for the last play of the season. Bottom of the 10th against the Diamondbacks, 3-3 tie, one out with Manny Margot on third base after tripling. Rookie catcher Francisco Mejia strikes out swing, but the ball scoots past catcher JR Murphy. Mejia sees this, and runs to first base– like he’s supposed to. Murphy scrambles, gathers the ball, but doesn’t have time to check Margot who is holding with a big lead off of third. Murphy fires to first for the put-out on the strikeout, while Margot breaks for home. When 1B Daniel Descalso double clutches, Margot slides in safely with the winning run without a throw, and the Petco crowd goes wild!! The 2018 San Diego Padres were the craziest 66-win team I have ever followed. It was mostly painful, but it had a few moments like these, enough to keep me coming back in 2019.

1B/OF/3B Wil Myers is a big issue for this organization. He’s now age 27, and had another disappointing season. The experiment at 3B in August/September, didn’t go well. Padres GM AJ Preller now faces the need to fill a position (3B), and move a potential 5th-wheel who is about to become overpaid. Look for the Padres to get creative and move Myers this winter, in a big trade to acquire a 3B and/or pitching prospects. All this depends on the organization’s confidence in Myers being able to play 3B, and his overall character– which I really don’t know. I don’t believe they will make any significant free agent splashes, like they did with 1B Eric Hosmer last winter.

The Mets have been rumored to be interested in dealing RHP Noah Syndergaard, but who knows the asking price, or AJ Preller’s level of interest with his injury history. LHP Clayton Kershaw will remain with the Dodgers, so I don’t see any ace-level pitching becoming available. Best to build from within on that front. We saw last winter (and this season) what free-agent pitchers are actually worth. It’s an overpay, for injury risk & drop-off performance. Young pitchers are premium value, at league minimum rates. The same goes for players/hitters. An organization that has that going has the nucleus for a divisional dynasty that will compete for a World Series. Free-agents & acquired veterans can only fill-in needs, they can’t be the core as they are too costly, and prone to breakdown with diminishing results.

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Despicable Manipulation & Thievery

Congratulations to Japanese tennis phenom Naomi Osaka for winning the women’s US Open on the evening of September 8, 2018!!

It takes a thief to steal the joy of such a victory. Understand that Naomi Osaka had to apologize to the Flushing Meadows crowd for winning the US Open championship. Serena Williams still couldn’t leave it alone after that, and tried to ‘console’ her, after attempting every dirty trick she could think of, to steal the championship from Osaka.

I have come to the conclusion that this was the worst meltdown & display of poor sportsmanship in modern tennis history. Serena Williams was going to lose (uneventfully) to Naomi Osaka, so she decided to ruin it for everyone– out of jealousy. Serena Williams was in complete control of her manipulative actions, as she 1) lied about not being coached after the 1st violation, 2) manipulatively claimed she didn’t know it was her second violation after the racket abuse, then 3) tried to bring in handlers to “fix” things after the third violation. She then played the victim in front of a partisan NYC crowd, and into ESPN’s cameras as millions watched in disbelief. It’s to Naomi Osaka’s credit that she wasn’t rattled by all this chaos Williams created, and closed her out moments later for the US Open title.

It was a despicable performance all around by Serena Williams, who threatened the chair umpire, when she said to him, “you will never work on my court again.” All this after lying about not being coached (and escalating her fury), when her coach already admitted (on TV) that he had been coaching her. Then she accused the chair umpire of sexism, which makes no sense and demands an explanation. Serena Williams’ opponent was a woman– Naomi Osaka. At least until Williams dragged the chair umpire into the match.

Williams also played the “mother” card, and at that point the astute viewer gets a sickening sense that this tantrum is a calculated performance from someone who wants to win at all costs, yet knows she’s defeated in a fair match, so she pulls this crap. After the match Serena Williams refused to shake hands with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who acted as honorably & professionally as anyone could expect, after being berated & baited by a professional manipulator in front of a world audience.

Serena Williams dragged a respected chair umpire ( a neutral) into the narrative, in an attempt to take away (or at least taint) Naomi Osaka’s victory. Tennis is a game of skill, power & etiquette– with simple rules & a strict code-of-conduct which every player knows– so ignorance is not an excuse.

Players can’t be coached during the match, and if the umpire sees it- then you are warned. Serena Williams got busted, then ingeniously denied it, and then used it as an excuse to blame someone else for her losing. That’s just disgraceful, and that’s what tennis fans are saying. Over 3 million people have viewed this video (above) as of this publication, just over 24 hours since the match ended. The comments are overwhelmingly negative towards Serena Williams, and even her hardcore fans are finding it hard to defend her, as they are getting shouted down with conviction, and in numbers.

A very subtle point that serious tennis fans noticed was that Serena Williams’ second violation for racket abuse came after she had been broken (3-2 Osaka in the second set). This meant the umpire had to award Naomi Osaka a point to start her next service game. Serena Williams wasn’t going to break Osaka back at that point, so she tried “gamesmanship” instead. Williams insanely tried to insist the chair umpire ‘take back’ the 1st violation for coaching, so she would not be penalized a point. Of course, that’s an impossibility, but Serena still acted this out, trying to make the umpire look bad while escalating the rhetoric to incite the crowd. The cameras were rolling, and the audience & crowd heard everything. It was cringe-worthy.

Serena Williams’ third violation meant a game penalty (by rule), which she was completely aware of, and conveniently picked the next changeover (with Osaka serving at 4-3) to start up with the chair umpire again. This was nothing less than verbal abuse towards a neutral party, in a blatant attempt to bully & manipulate, to provide a smokescreen for her own failures and inability to gracefully accept defeat. It is remarkable that Serena Williams is at the end of her career, and she still hasn’t learned this basic courtesy and gesture of respect towards others.

Tennis fans have seen this before from Serena Williams, and are ready for it. “Roid rage” is a comment repeated over & over, as it’s getting harder & harder for her fans to deny this possibility. We may be having our OJ Simpson/Bill Cosby moment here with Serena Williams, as her behavior is proving her to be something other than what she’s promoting.

ESPN incessantly ran commercials (example above) during the US Open, featuring Serena Williams as a mother & role model for women. That narrative is being challenged by real life events that paint a different picture. The word I keep using in writing about Serena Williams is manipulation. This is going on at every level, personal, professional and corporate media, as Serena is political & has coat tails. She strongly appeals to feminists & racialist African Americans– a significant voting block for the Democrats. As long as she is winning, these groups will believe in her and do what she says, which is, “vote Democrat.”  Midterms are just two months away.

Below is a screenshot from Real Clear Politics, which archived two Serena Williams’ articles on September 9th: one from a Washington Post Democrat in her defense, and one attack piece from a Republican, who somewhat convincingly compares her to Hillary Clinton. This clearly shows she’s political, in case you weren’t convinced already.

If she falls like OJ or the “Cos,” then this block dissipates into disillusion & disaffection. That can lead to radicalization, which is the last thing the Democrats want. Better to keep feminists & racialists deceived & under control, and Serena Williams is consciously part of this campaign which has deep pockets & political roots. She is being very well-paid by the puppet-masters for her services.

ESPN is still in her corner (of course), as they are partners with Williams to the bitter end. As mentioned, she ties in closely with #MeToo feminism & Black Lives Matter racialism, so she has clout– for sure. These witch hunt campaigns which she personifies, define the liberal left wing of today’s Democratic party, which is controlled by the “moderate” (right wing) faction– known as the CIA Democrats. Senator Mark Warner (D– Va), Barack Obama & Serena Williams have a lot more in common than you might think.

After her meltdown & defeat, ESPN flooded their morning tennis news feed on September 9th with Serena Williams features, glossing over Naomi Osaka’s 6-2, 6-4 victory.

These are the first 4 screenshots going down their page– all featuring Williams.

As we can see, Naomi Osaka hardly matters to ESPN.

That media blitz has backfired (hello!), as this tantrum was too ugly, so ESPN has retreated to her “sexism’ claim towards the chair umpire; and the supposed need to change the coaching rules. ESPN changed their headlines on Serena by nightfall, after Novak Djokovic won the men’s US Open championship.

When you call any official a “liar” and a “thief” (in any sport), you will get sanctioned. This phony outrage by Williams, ESPN, the WTA, and other pro-feminist groups is calculated & despicable. Only in this Bizarro world of modern capitalist politics can a male umpire (who is only trying to do his job), be accused of sexism by an abusive superstar female athlete, and have it get traction in the fake media. Has anyone in the US media asked Naomi Osaka what she thinks of all this, or does only Serena’s opinion count?

You see, because the cheating coach and his washed-up protoge don’t like the rules, they need to be changed “for the good of the game.”  If these rules had already been changed, then Serena might have won, and that’s all that matters. If it hadn’t been for the male umpire’s “sexism,” the match would have been more “fair.” That’s the message, and it’s impossible to miss–unless you willfully blind yourself. Got that?

Final Update: Tuesday 9/11/2018  ~ 11:00 AM ET

This infamous Serena Williams’ 2009 incident at the US Open finals was against Kim Cljisters. Williams was called for a foot fault on her second serve by a lineswoman, making it match point at 15-40. There was no camera angle that definitively proved the call– one way or the other. Serena had lost the first set, and this was in the second set at 5-6. Serena (who already had a code violation) exploded, and was then was called for the verbal abuse violation, for threatening to “stuff this ball down her throat,” which defaulted the match. Cljisters was a former grand slam champion who had just come back from having a baby, but ESPN & the rest didn’t think her being a new mother was as a big story at the time.

Tiger Woods had his life destroyed when then-wife took a golf club to his SUV, as he came home late from another fling. He was branded a “cheater,” and lost all his endorsements. Tiger had to comeback and work to regain some of those sponsors. That was a private life affair, and really no one else’s business– outside of them and their family. This US Open tantrum was seen by all audiences, and it definitely wasn’t “children safe” viewing, yet no one dares raise the possibility that she should lose her Nike sponsorship, or any others. This shows you how highly-up she’s protected, as an asset for manipulation. We as fans need to be smarter, because we’re a whole lot better than this. Serena Williams is presented to America & the world as the best we have to offer, when in reality she’s corrupt to the core. Just like capitalism, she 1) has no ethics, and 2) does whatever is necessary to maintain her dominance. Serena is not a real person, she’s a persona, which can be flexible and molded to fit a variety of forms. But none of them are stable or healthy.

In summary, this is by far the most disgraceful player incident in tennis history, at least since television has been broadcasting matches. Nothing that Ilie Năstase, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Marcos Baghdatis or even Nick Kyrgios can come close to this nastiness from Serena Williams. The worst of it is, is that it still continues. Everyone else calms down & apologizes, or at least yields. But there has been no apology, or anything close, from Serena Williams. Serena and her political & corporate advisors never apologize. They only lie, manipulate and bully to get their way. And when things go South, they employ an army of flunky proxies to do their dirty work in the media & online– while they scurry off into hiding like cockroaches running from the light. Little boys & girls pretending to be adult men & women; is there anything more sick & dangerous?

Seventeen years ago today, a really bad thing happened. The whole world saw the images of the Trade Towers collapsing in NYC, and we were all told the story to believe. Since then, a lot more truth has come to light, and most people feel much differently since that Tuesday (it felt like a Tuesday), September 11, 2001 when we were “shocked & awed.” Serena Williams has used these same methods & tactics in her career, and it has led to 23 WTA grand slams, which is a lot of winning. But what has been the cost? When she began, joining her sister Venus, she was a phenom that any open-minded person loved. She shattered stereotypes, and gave American black women something to be proud of. But the problem of this lies in the nationalism & identity politics, which is reactionary in nature.

Serena has metamorphosed herself since she broke into professional tennis in October, 1995. The second half of her career has been marred by TUE’s (exemptions for PED use), along with unending allegations of illicit doping. Her constant complaints on social media (and through the lapdog sports media) about being tested are just another manipulation to play herself as the victim, when she’s the liar & (most likely) a cheater too. The WADA will retain all her blood & urine samples. Someday, a test will be developed to detect whatever new performance-enhancing substance she has been using. Then the scientific & medical proof will be irrefutable, and at that time I completely expect Serena Williams and her camp to deny everything as a sexist/racist attack on her character & career.

Further Reading;

The Politics of Motherhood in Sports

The World Cup & Sports Propaganda

Beauty, Athletics & Revolution

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The Politics of Motherhood in Sports

Sports is business, and business is politics, where true fans & athletes mostly lose.           — Ric Size

Cable TV and ESPN changed sports in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s, sports would be revolutionized again, this time by women’s participation. The US Women’s National Soccer team won two of the first three women’s World Cup events. Their first was the inaugural 1991 World Cup for women, and almost no one cared or noticed. Norway won in 1995, defeating the US in the finals.

After being blacked out of their 1996 gold medal triumph in Atlanta at the summer Olympics, all the pressure was on in 1999, when America hosted the World Cup. In possibly the most dramatic sporting event ever, the entire world watched as the US defeated China 0-0, 5-4 in penalty kicks. Mia Hamm Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain and all the rest defined this new era for everyone. Soccer moms are now mainstream.

Since these revolutionary advances in sports, we now view men & women equally in the media. We can adore & criticize men & women equally now, because both groups have star appeal. One unique difference with women is that the issue of pregnancy comes to the fore. Women have to deal with it directly, verses men. This social difference has made its way into right-wing politics (#MeToo campaign), and big money sports where Serena Williams is now extolled as the poster-child for athletes as mothers.

Background: Kim Clijsters (above) was born June 8, 1983 and won 41 singles and eleven doubles titles. She won four Grand Slam singles titles: three at the US Open, in 2005, 2009, and 2010 and one at the Australian Open in 2011. Interestingly, Kim Clijsters announced her retirement from professional tennis when she was pregnant on May 6, 2007. Clijsters gave birth to daughter, Jada Elle, on February 27, 2008 meaning she was just shy of age 25 at the time.

In March 2009, Clijsters publicly declared her intent to return to the WTA tour, and won 3 more majors in her career before retiring for good after the 2012 season. On September 18, 2013, Clijsters gave birth to a son, Jack Leon Lynch. In October 2016, she gave birth to her third child, Blake Richard Lynch. That’s a remarkable career, which doesn’t often get remembered by the #MeToo liberal-Democrat crowd, for some unexplained reason.

Victoria Azarenka was born July 31, 1989, and has won two Australian Open singles titles– 2012 & 2013. Belarus is her home, which is bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. This forested country of about 10 million became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, and remains in their sphere of influence. Thus ESPN doesn’t cover Victoria Azarenka much.

Azarenka and her former boyfriend Billy McKeague have one son, Leo, born December 19, 2016– when she was age 27. Following their split immediately after 2017 Wimbledon, they became involved in a legal child custody case for their son which resulted in Azarenka’s withdrawal from the 2017 US Open and all other 2017 tournaments. Here’s excerpts from an interview she gave to the New York Times, published April 25, 2017.

With Baby in Tow, Victoria Azarenka Returns to Tennis — and Her Roots [1]

After an extended break from competition, Azarenka is training in her native Belarus with a new coach and a new traveling companion: her infant son.

MINSK, Belarus — The child care was done, if only for a moment, and Victoria Azarenka was back where it all began, leaning against the wall that had been her first tennis companion. “It was the best hitting partner, because it never misses, never complains,” Azarenka explained. The wall is in a small gymnasium in the Republic Olympic Training Center, a labyrinthine tennis facility in Minsk that was a short walk from the small, two-bedroom apartment Azarenka shared with her parents, her older brother, Max, and her grandparents.

“Yes, I’ll do it for me, because I want to achieve my full potential, but it’s not anymore just for me,” Azarenka said. “I want to have my son be proud of me. I want to give him a good example that if you have a goal and you have a dream, you can achieve it if you work hard.” She resists calling it a comeback. After all, she was not sidelined by injury, illness, burnout or misfortune…

Victoria Azarenka admits that she was depressed (when she was injured in 2014-15), but has grown from it:

“I don’t want to sound like a mental person, but, yeah, I was,” she said. “It’s just when you are in those moments it’s difficult to realize that, because you think you’re fine and you’re trying to kind of command your mind that you’re OK, but it’s really just going through that and experiencing that and really admitting it to yourself. I think the first time I admitted that I wasn’t OK it made me feel a little bit better, and being an athlete I think it’s not a weakness to admit that, because we’re all human, and we all go through difficult situations and it’s OK to be that way. The important thing, and what’s exciting is how you come out of it. That’s what shows a strong personality, a strong character, because it’s a challenge of life; it’s more.”

Victoria Azarenka: Facebook August 17, 2017 ·

My incredible fans and friends, who have supported me throughout my career deserve to know why I may not be able to compete at the U.S Open this year.

The day my son Leo was born, back in December of last year, was by far the happiest day of my life. I now have a brand new appreciation for how new mothers – and fathers – juggle the many different responsibilities for their families. However, like most working mothers, despite my unconditional love for my son, I am faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away.

In Belarus back in March, with my family in tow, I started working toward the goal of returning to the tennis tour and competing at a high level by July 31st. I was able to return early, playing in Mallorca mid-June followed by Wimbledon.

Shortly after Wimbledon, Leo’s father and I separated and as we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the US Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I’m not willing to do.

Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is ok to be a working mother – or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both.

I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children. I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing. No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.

I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete but, more importantly to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.
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To finish this tale to the present, Victoria Azarenka received a wild card for the year’s US Open champion. Azarenka is currently ranked #87. The July 16 WTA rankings were used to determine direct entries into the US Open, which begins Aug. 27. She has quietly worked her way back (no Facebook posts on her page since the one cited above), and has demanded no preferential treatment. She has made it clear that her priority is her son, and no one doubts it. People can respect & understand that.

Serena Williams was born September 26, 1981 and is also a mother preparing for the US Open, but much differently. On April 19, 2017, Williams posted a picture of her midsection on Snapchat. It had the caption, “20 weeks,” sparking speculation that she was pregnant. Later that evening, her spokesperson confirmed that she was expecting.

On September 1, 2017, Williams gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian. Williams had a cesarean-section delivery due to complications, which has short-circuited her long-planned “comeback.” The biggest factor working against her professional success from the start is her age. She gave birth to her daughter when she turned age 35, and is now approaching age 37. Athletes (men & women alike) don’t get better at this age, they decline & retire. Williams and her longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou spin it differently.

Serena Williams Confirms She’s Pregnant After Day of Speculation:   NYT April 19, 2017 [2]

[Patrick] Mouratoglou expressed delight for Williams and Ohanian. From a tennis perspective, he said he was not upset about missing the chance to chase more titles in the coming months. “Honestly, not,” he said. “I am not disappointed because I know how important what is happening right now is for her, and I also know there’s a really good chance that she’ll come back afterward. “What is fabulous is all these challenges, and now there’s a new challenge that’s incredible. She’ll be over 35 and a new mother trying to win Grand Slams.”

Mouratoglou, a confident and enterprising Frenchman, recently opened a large tennis academy near Nice after having operated an academy in the Paris suburbs for years. He is also a prominent television analyst and has been one of the biggest factors in Williams’ late-career renaissance. When they began working together in 2012, Williams was 30, and Mouratoglou said she told him that she wanted to win one last major singles title. She has far exceeded that. She won her first tournament with Mouratoglou — Wimbledon in 2012 — and has gone on to win 10 major singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in singles with him as her coach.

Once involved romantically, Mouratoglou and Williams have remained a team professionally… “It’s difficult to say, because it’s a situation that’s completely new and that she has never been through,” Mouratoglou said. “It’s very difficult to imagine in advance how someone will react when they are a mother. It’s so special and such a life change. I do think she’ll come back, and she will come back all the more if everyone thinks she’s done. So I encourage you to write that she’s finished. Please.”

Political footnote: Serena Williams last title was the 2016 Australian Open, after which she revealed she was pregnant. Coincidentally, a few weeks later it was announced to the world that Maria Sharapova (a longtime professional & personal rival) had failed a drug test at that same event. Sharapova wouldn’t return to a major until the 2017 US Open, facing #2-seeded Angelique Kerber in the 1st round, with Sharapova prevailing– stunning everyone.

Serena Williams’ “comeback” (as she has marketed this campaign) has been hyped by ESPN and the rest of the liberal media since after the 2018 Australian Open. These are screenshots of her appearances since then, with everything you need to know from the WTA Rankings homepage.

It started with Indian Wells & Miami (above) which are hard-court tournaments. Indian Wells is a rockstar event, so every player wants to show up and be part of it. Serena beat the warm bodies in the first two rounds, then lost to her older sister Venus Williams 6-2. 6-4. If you know sports & injury recovery, then that was a HUGE red flag.

Nevertheless, Serena Williams was determined to play in Miami, which is her hometown. She now actually owns the event; as she’s a major investor & on the board. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this event needs to switch to clay to have any appeal to serious professionals trying to win the next major which is the French Open in this case. Indian Wells, LA outclasses Miami, Florida– so re-invent this tournament; please.

We’ll see what Serena Williams can do as an owner, but as a pro player she’s finished. In Miami 2018, 20-year old up & comer Naomi Osaka crushed Serena Williams in the first round: 6-3, 6-2. This is exactly the kind of confident young player Serena Williams can’t beat anymore.

Serena Williams’ next tournament was the 2018 French Open. She beat #17 ranked Ashley Barty in the 2nd round, then #11 Julia Georges in the 3rd round, and was set-up to face Maria Sharapova in the 4th Round, when she suddenly announced a “torn pectoral muscle” which left her unable to serve, and thus compete. She retired just an hour before the match was scheduled to start, leaving her opponent and fans in a state of shock.

Miraculously, less than a month later, Serena Williams began her Wimbledon run to the finals, before she was soundly defeated by Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3. Serena Williams never even played a top-50 opponent until the semis, and again it was Julia Georges, whom she handled easily– as always. Serena Williams was ranked #181 in the world, yet was given a #25 seeding, which was unprecedented. Wimbledon 2018 was most likely a fixed draw to help Serena win a 24th major. The mathematical possibility of this draw happening randomly in her favor was so remote as to not exist, and it was a disgrace to the sport of tennis.

After Wimbledon, it’s back to the hard-courts again. Below is how Serena Williams looked in San Jose less than a month ago, in a 1st Round 6-1, 6-0 loss to #48-ranked Johanna Konta. As you can see in this image from that match, there is no athletic balance or control here. Serena Williams’ core is devastated, and she needs rest & recovery before trying to compete again. Any other conclusion is delusional.

Of course she isn’t listening to her body or science, so the media hype machine is pressed into action…

Serena Williams to play in Montreal after accepting Rogers Cup wild card
Updated: July 24, 2018  [3]

MONTREAL (AP) — Serena Williams will play in the Rogers Cup in Montreal next month, her first tournament since her runner-up finish at Wimbledon. Tournament officials announced Tuesday that Williams received a wild card into the event, which begins Aug. 3. Her ranking jumped from No. 181 to No. 28 after her run at Wimbledon. The 36-year-old has played in four tournaments this year after giving birth last year.

The Rogers Cup is a tuneup for the U.S. Open. Williams last played it in 2014, when she reached the semifinals. She won the event three times when it was played in Toronto. After her loss in the Wimbledon final to Angelique Kerber, Williams said she had proved to herself that she could still compete to win Grand Slams. Her next Grand Slam title would tie her with Margaret Court for the most with 24. She already has the most major trophies in the professional era.

But after seeing her draw of tough hard-court opponent Alize Cornet in the 1st Round…

Serena Williams out of Montreal tourney for personal reasons Aug 4, 2018  [4]

MONTREAL — Serena Williams has pulled out of next week’s Rogers Cup hard-court tournament, citing personal reasons. The tournament announced Williams’ withdrawal on Saturday. The 23-time Grand Slam champion is coming off the most lopsided defeat of her career, a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Johanna Konta in San Jose, California, on Tuesday.

Williams, 36, was the runner-up at Wimbledon last month. That was just her fourth tournament since returning to the tour after having a baby in September and dealing with a health scare related to blood clots. The year’s last major tournament, the US Open, starts on Aug. 27. Williams will be replaced in the draw at Montreal by Tatjana Maria, who faces Alize Cornet in the first round.

Unless anyone has a better explanation, that’s what it is. The rest can be dismissed as convenient excuses at this point. Serena Williams needs to play matches to be ready for the US Open, so Cincinnati is the next stop on the tour…

Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati second round 8:15 AM ET 8-15-18  [5]

Serena Williams was eliminated from the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, falling to eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss. Williams was making her first appearance at the tournament since winning the title in 2015. She opened with a victory 6-1 6-2 against Daria Gavrilova, a match that took just 65 minutes.

Cincinnati was her fifth tournament since she had a baby last September. She has dealt with blood clots and recently said she has been struggling with postpartum emotions. “You know, this is a long comeback,” she said. “I just began. I just started — definitely at the very, very beginning. I’m getting there, and I’m going to just continue to work hard and, hopefully, I’ll start winning more matches.”

What’s happening here is a glorious career ending in a slow-motion train wreck. Many of the achievements Serena Williams has made for herself (and women) are being undermined by her lack of character and ethics at the end. She’s being pushed and is reaching for something she has no right to anymore, which is to be considered the best women’s player in the world. These are the current WTA rankings;

Right now there are at least 12-15 WTA professionals that Serena Williams can’t beat.

All this became apparent at Roland Garros, when Serena Williams ducked Maria Sharapova. Her career mark again Sharapova is 19-2*. The asterisk is for that duck, because she couldn’t handle going 19-3, which smacks of ungraciousness & poor sportsmanship. Where’s the role model in that?

Footnote on PED testing: If doping is widely suspected by professional peers, then that athlete is tested more frequently. Roger Federer agrees that this is good policy for the sport, so who’s to argue? Only Serena Williams it appears.

Every time a WADA agent shows up for a sample, she’s in front of a camera and/or posting her indignant reaction [!?#) on social media. No other professional player does this. Many comments in the forums & chatboards remind people that they’ve heard this routine before from Lance Armstrong. Serena Williams is a real student of the game, if you know what I mean.

Update:  Thursday   August 23, 2018 ~ 5:00 PM  ET

The men’s & women’s draws for the upcoming US Open have been released, and here are my conclusions. The men’s brackets look balanced & fair. I don’t expect any objections/complaints from the players, or too many surprises over the next two weeks. The women’s draw is a different matter entirely, as the brackets have clearly been fixed again– to accommodate Serena Williams who was seeded No. 17 for the US Open, nine spots higher than her current ranking of No. 26.

Once again, it’s not the inflated seeding that matters, as much as the fact that nearly all the best women’s players who can handle Serena (pointed out above) are bracketed far away from her. The only two players who can beat her, in her section of the draw are; sister Venus Williams, whom she could face in the 3rd-Round, and #1-seeded Simona Halep, a potential 4th-Round match.

I basically predicted this, and that’s why I published this piece before the US Open draws were announced– to anticipate (prove) the next fix in a women’s tennis major. I’ve identified which players Serena Williams avoids, through her heavyweight connections with the most prestigious tournament officials; and now you see how skillfully this is done. ESPN has already gone into overdrive with their Serena puff pieces & flak machine.

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Where Have All the Nicknames Gone?

Chris Berman gave the best baseball nicknames ever. Berman was better at doing the ESPN highlights than actually calling a MLB game, which is why he eventually chose to exclusively cover the NFL. Here’s the funniest of his baseball best:

Mike Enough Aldretti, Kent Buy a Vowel Hrbek, Pat Mahomes Where the Heart is, Roberto Remember the Alomar, Carlos One if by Land, Two if Baerga, Francisco Umbilical Cordova, Stan Javier Self A Merry Little Christmas, Steve Ebony and Avery, Delino Decoconut Deshields, Oddibe Young Again McDowell, Kent Magic Mercker, Bert Be Home Blyleven, Rich Dotson 280z, Wally Absorbine Joyner, Eric Win Place or Show, Heathcliff Slocumb if ya got ’em, Jesse Belly Up to the Barfield, Matt No Nokes, Rod Beck Beck Beck Beck Beck, Lance You Sank my Blankenship, Greg Gagne with a Spoon, Mike Leggo Gallego, Ken Get Off My Cloude, A J Touchy Feeley, Pat Pick Up the Tabler, Jeff See Through Blauser, Eddie Eat Drink and be Murray, Craig Def Lefferts, Kirk Weekly Rueter, Damon Blue Berryhill, Rick See Ya Later Aguilera, Dave Mary Magadan, Kevin Smallmouth Bass, and Scott Supercalifragilisticexpiala Brosius.

His complete list is here.

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Padres & the MLB Trade Deadline Breakdown

If you’ve been through a few MLB Trade deadlines (and I have), then you know this is a feeding frenzy. You have two sub-sets of teams; those trading away MLB assets for prospects & young talent, and those competitive teams acquiring winning MLB talent. Everyone is trying to improve themselves, whether the focus is on this October, or the future. The most-coveted MLB asset for championship contenders is top-tier relief pitching, as that’s what October baseball comes down to. Who can get those crucial final outs from their bullpen?

The most coveted return for sellers are top prospects: top-100 MLB prospects, top organizational prospects, top pitching prospects, top left-handed pitching prospects, etc. Position players are added for depth, and to plug holes, but they don’t move the needle towards winning like relief pitching or front-line starters.

The fascinating (and mostly unmentioned) thing about this trade deadline is that Padres GM AJ Preller held aces on both ends of this spectrum, and once again exerted influence & control over the trade market. He dealt coveted lefty closer Brad Hand (and righty set-up guy Adam Cimber) on July 19, 2018 to Cleveland, in return for C Francisco Mejia, their top prospect– ~15th overall in MLB. The Padres needed a catcher, as Austin Hedges is elite defensively, but isn’t the everyday answer. Hedges is an elite caddy in a catching tandem. Padres won’t be dealing Mejia, you can be sure.

As the above screenshot indicates, Francisco Mejia currently ranks 3rd in the Padres stacked farm system– behind SS Fernando Tatis, Jr. and LHP Mackenzie Gore. The list of talent in this top-12 is the envy of MLB. There are more-than-a-few teams in MLB who don’t have a single player in their farm system that is better than any of the Padres top-12 prospects. This represents championship level talent at bargain basement salary, which means you can keep it together. Every savvy GM & organized front office understands that.

This is what put the San Diego Padres in the RHP Chris Archer trade conversation. Any GM of a last-place team needs to look at ways to improve their starting pitching. AJ Preller did this, but what the Rays wanted in return was too high a price. Besides, Chris Archer isn’t an ace. He’s a valuable #2 starter on championship NL roster, and a #3 in the AL.

AJ Preller knows you don’t give up the farm for that, especially at this point in their competitive cycle. Padres don’t need to pay Archer’s (affordable) salary either. So what was Preller doing? He was doing what any good GM in his advantageous position should do, test the market and get an idea of how other organizations value your prospects. It turns out that rival GM’s value Padres prospects very highly. More reason to hold onto them.

There was non-stop speculation from the MLB/ESPN driven media, that the Mets were going to deal their “aces.” Let’s back up for a moment here. First, the only ace the Mets currently have is RHP Jacob deGrom, and the Mets have said repeatedly they don’t want to trade him, unless it’s an offer that’s over-the-top and they can’t refuse. Nothing of the sort was ever presented.

Somehow by mentioning a deGrom trade possibility through the media, the Mets front office reasoned that would make RHP’s Noah Syndergaard (above pic) & Zack Wheeler appear more valuable. It doesn’t work that way with astute GM’s. Let’s examine the true trade value here.

The best pitcher the Mets actually had available was Syndergaard. The problem is he never stays healthy, and he just went on the DL again, this time with hand, foot & mouth (HF&M) disease. HF&M disease is a viral infection, that wipes you out– similar to mononucleosis or hepatitis. No team wants to bring a carrier of a contagious disease into their clubhouse. Yet the MLB/ESPN sports media kept trying to push a trade possibility, and it (curiously) was often linked to the Padres, as they have the prospects to make it happen.

The media also underplayed the causes of HF&M disease, which is poor hygiene, not washing your hands, etc. A responsible MLB GM can’t blow that off as incidental. It says something about who that person is, and their intellect. Unlike a bone fracture or muscle/ligament tear; this could wipe out an entire clubhouse– for a month or more!

The kid may have talent, but his head is a huge question mark, along with the Mets medical staff. Therefore Noah Syndergaard is definitely not worth the gamble of trading away the farm system to obtain. The Padres would rather keep top LHP prospect Mackenzie Gore, and that’s what AJ Preller did.

Zack Wheeler was endlessly floated over the past few weeks as a starter that could help a contender. He’s viewed by GM’s as a #4/5 guy- so that was a non-starter. Wheeler was the beneficiary of possibly the worst umpiring decision in the history of MLB, in a recent start against the Padres at Citi Field.

This trade deadline was most cruel to the New York Mets, who are currently 44-59, sitting 4th in the NL East with a bad farm system, and unable to trade any of their best starters for the prospects they so desperately needed. The Mets team owner is bankrupt, so winter free-agent splashes are probably not an option. That’s an Amazing Mess.

As mentioned, all the serious focus up to the deadline (outside of Chris Archer) was on top-tier relievers. AJ Preller still held the best cards in this market, even after dealing Brad Hand. Reliever Kirby Yates (1.60 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP) is controllable through 2020, and Craig Stammen has a 2.63 ERA, with a 1.11 WHIP. They both have been used frequently, and in high-leverage situations.

Those were (by far) the best available reliever options, as the trade deadline passed. An actual problem at this point for AJ Preller is that no GM wants to trade him any more prospects. They see the Padres future, and they don’t want one of their own to be part of it. This slightly suppressed the value for everyone else, since Yates & Stammen were the top of the bar. After the deadline both are still Padres, despite all the media talk that they would be dealt to contenders.

The best starter available, Chris Archer was eventually dealt by the Rays to the Pirates at the deadline for two young MLB players: outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow. That’s probably less that what Archer is worth, but the Rays were determined to sell. That’s how you control a trade market, and this isn’t the first time AJ Preller has done it. More importantly, Preller held onto all of his prospects. Below is a screenshot of all the last-minute deals made at the 4:00 PM ET MLB trade deadline, posted at mlb.com. As you can see, beyond Chris Archer it was all low-level stuff:

Wrap-up: The fact is that in another year or two, all of the names on the Padres top-30 prospects list are going to be either: 1) producing in the majors, 2) knocking on the door, or 3) washed out. Not every top prospect makes it, but the level of talent and unbelievable depth in the Padres system makes them the odds-on favorite to become the next Houston Astros. The Padres will be doing it in the easier league, with an AL-type roster and organizational depth built around power pitching & hitting. They are in this position because of their general manager, who is a baseball & organizational genius.

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Always Hustle Until the 4th Out!!

For 150+ years, baseball has had three outs in an inning, and once the third out is called by the umpire, all action is stopped. Everyone from little league on up knows this. But now, that long-standing rule has been changed in practice. Of course, it involved the San Diego Padres, and (of course) the call went against them in New York. Here’s the situation & what happened.

Top of the 3rd inning, Mets lead 3-0, but the Padres have the bases loaded with RHP Zack Wheeler struggling… Two-out single to left by Wil Myers, Manny Margot trying to score from second base is incorrectly called out at the plate by umpire Manny Gonzalez, for (apparently) the third out. This screenshot below is the bad punch-out call.

After Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco shows the ball to the umpire, the incorrect ‘out’ call is signaled by Gonzalez. The inning is (hypothetically) over, but Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco then throws to third base, to nail Carlos Asuaje for the 4th out [!] of the inning. Carlos Asuaje is puzzled, as he thinks he’s heading to the visitor’s [3rd base] dugout to get his glove, because there’s three outs.  Padres manager Andy Green is also puzzled, and challenges the call at home.

After a LONG delay, the call is overturned (Margot obviously safe) and the run scores (3-2), but Asuaje is now deemed the third out– inning over. This is the Mets/Padres at Citi Field on July 24, 2018, with NY replay booth umps. Who are these replay umpires? That should be determined here, for posterity.

Obviously, Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco knew the call at home was incorrect (because it was in front of him), and that’s why he threw to third base. Heads-up play by him, you could say. But how was the runner on second base (Asuaje) supposed to know?

Here’s the MLB write-up, with video of the play & review. Padres beat reporter AJ Cassavell is one of the best in the business, and he clearly defines the replay rules in question and their interpretation.

“Section IV of MLB’s replay regulations covers the placement of runners after incorrect calls. Here are the segments in question: The Replay Official shall place the base runners on the bases he believes they would have reached had the reviewed call been made correctly. … Any doubt regarding the placement of runners should be resolved in favor of the last base legally touched at the time of the challenged call.

Subsequent Calls and Outs: If the Replay Official determines that an incorrect call on the field had no effect on the subsequent behavior or conduct of the offensive or defensive players, the Replay Official shall change the incorrect call, but let stand any on-field calls or plays unaffected by the incorrect call. The Replay Official may not declare a runner out based on a play the umpire believes would have occurred subsequent to the play subject to Replay Review.

[Andy] Green had asked to protest the interpretation of those rules. According to section II.L.4. of the replay regulations, no protest shall ever be permitted on judgement decisions by the replay official. He was denied.”

Carlos Asuaje had these lucid comments, post-game. “I guess the safest thing would be to just stay at second and, if there’s a close play or something, just wait on the base, I really don’t know how else to do that. Nobody’s going to play that ball through — especially with the third baseman standing there. My only move would be to go full-speed and slide into the guy. What if that was the third out at home? What are we going to do? Are we going to fight these guys? I mean, I’m not going to start a brawl.”

Here were Andy Green’s post-game comments. “I don’t know how you think he’s [Asuaje’s] making a full-bore effort to advance to third base. I think it’s a lethargic jog toward the third-base coach, which is pretty customary when the third out of an inning is made. You go hand the guy your helmet. That’s effectively what was happening.”

That’s how you get rooked by the Black Hand. The correct call would have been to send Carlos Asuaje back to second base: two outs, runners at 1st & 2nd base, with Eric Hosmer up. Any replay call that overturns a call on the field must freeze the base runner situation, as everything that occurs after that depends on the call. That’s rational.

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler was on the ropes, and the umps (on the field & replay) let him off the hook. That unfair & biased call for the home team completely changed the game, as the Mets won easily 6-3. Why aren’t the replay umpires held accountable?

Note that if this situation occurs with only one out, you still have to hustle until the 4th out. For the record, Wil Myers was standing on first base when Asuaje was tagged for the 4th out, so nice base-running Wil. You never want to run into the 4th out of an inning. That’s a new rule. Wil Myers couldn’t possibly run into the fifth out, but he was one of two people who could have run into the fourth out, if that makes any sense.

As we can see, the rules in MLB are now hypothetical, and as far as getting a call goes, it helps to be an east coast team. Mets starter Zack Wheeler pitched 7 innings, allowing only 2 ER, so his trade stock goes up, which is also a factor here. This is what has happened to all sports these days. The traditional rules don’t apply anymore, and it mirrors everyday reality. Only the interests of the privileged count for anything. These “contests” are largely manipulated & fixed. The people & fans have noticed, and it won’t hold up much longer, as there’s too much unfairness & hypocrisy.

Final next-day thoughts:

Baseball is an amazing game because anything can happen, and that’s why we watch. Sometimes you witness something at the ballpark that you’ve never seen before. You can’t say that about most sports.

After thinking about this affair in it’s totality, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the WORST UMPIRING DECISION IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME. It’s so, not just because of the blatant bias involved, but also because it violates & distorts the game’s most basic rule to it’s essence, which is, “three outs ends the inning.”

Over & Out

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San Diego Padres: Bullpen Management & Draft Notes

The Padres have the most unique and effective bullpen in MLB, and it’s starting to turn heads. Padres manager Andy Green is as good as it gets in the dugout, and with the media. No one manages a bullpen or 25-man roster better. The Padres are currently 29th in OBP, 27th in SLG, 25th in runs scored, and 18th in total ERA. The only reason they are hanging around in the tough NL West (currently 34-38, 6.5 GB of ARZ) is because of Andy Green (below) and their unique bullpen. Let’s break it down.

On April 8, 2016 San Diego Padres GM AJ Preller claimed LHP Brad Hand off waivers from Miami Marlins (GM: Mike Hill). This happened just before Preller started trading his entire rotation, closer, and anything else he could dump. Brad Hand was available at the that trade deadline, and in 2017, but no fair offers came. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, as Brad Hand (1.78 ERA, 35.1 IP, 21 saves) is now a relief ace and premium closer– under a team-friendly contract with a club option through 2021. Any MLB GM will tell you that is a championship-winning piece to the puzzle. His value may never be higher, but there’s no reason to trade him.

Right-handed set-up man Craig Stammen (above) was acquired on December 23, 2016 as a minor-league free agent, and invited to spring training. He performed and made the 25-man roster, and has been one of Andy Green’s most valuable bullpen pieces in complementing Brad Hand. He’s age 34 with a 2.23 ERA in 32.1 IP so far in 2018. Craig Stammen in 2017 had a 3.14 ERA in 80.1 IP for the Padres. He’s paid $2.25M/yr for 2018 & 2019. He’s a huge bargain in high-leverage situations– exactly where you need it.

On April 26, 2017 the San Diego Padres claimed RHP Kirby Yates (above) off waivers from Los Angeles Angels. Padres fans LOVE this guy! So far in 2018: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, with 2 saves. He’s pre-Arb2, with a salary of $1M in 2018. Andy Green sometimes uses Brad Hand in the 8th inning of a tight game, because that’s the match-up advantage or whatever.

Making the closer slot fluid, increases competitiveness in the bullpen. “Closer by committee” is an old-school baseball phrase, but this is something different. The Padres aren’t rotating their closer because they don’t have a reliable finisher, it’s because they have multiple guys capable of closing. This is very similar to the Cincinnati Reds “Nasty Boys” bullpen that won them a World Series in 1990. Kirby Yates is age 31, yet another Padres Arb2 player making $1M in 2018, and can’t be a free agent until 2021– at the earliest.

Righty side-armer (above) Adam Cimber (2018: 3-2, 2.52 ERA, 35.2 IP) is a guy the Padres actually drafted back in 2013, before AJ Preller became GM. But Padres fans know that the previous regime would have gotten rid of this guy long ago, and he’d be helping another team win games. Luckily for the Padres, new management understands the value of a good bullpen in high-leverage situations. It’s the difference between winning & losing a lot of games. Adam Cimber turns age 28 on August 15, and is Arb1, making the league-minimum salary of $545,000.

Rookie LHP José Castillo was acquired as part of the blockbuster Wil Myers deal with the Rays & the Nationals on December 19, 2014. This was AJ Preller’s signature deal as a rookie GM of the San Diego Padres. The key guy Preller gave up was SS Trea Turner to the Nationals. José Castillo is age 22 with electric stuff. He’s just been added to the bullpen, and so far in 2018 he’s 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP (4 games) with 12 K’s. San Diego Padres also sent C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith and 1B Jake Bauers to Tampa in that deal.

As the trading deadline loomed last summer, on July 24, 2017 the Padres traded Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and RHP Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals for cash, 2B Esteury Ruiz, LHP’s Matt Strahm and Travis Wood.  Matt Strahm (above) and Ruiz were considered the booty in the deal for the Padres, as Travis Wood was released; then he got hurt in Spring Training with the Tigers and is probably finished in MLB. Cahill was a Padres rental, and Mauer & Buchter were fungible.

LHP Matt Strahm (2018 so far: 1-2, 2.55 ERA, 17.2 IP) was envisioned as a potential starter, but he’s still working his way back from a knee injury that he sustained with the Royals. The Padres have used him effectively as a long reliever and their “bullpen starter.” The bullpen start has gotten a lot of notice, especially in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have been forced to start a reliever repeatedly.

The plan for Andy Green is typically to have LHP Matt Strahm go through the line-up once, then bring in a right-handed long reliever to bridge to the “real” bullpen. An advantage of a bullpen start is that it prevents the opposition from stacking their lineup for the righty/lefty match-up advantage.

The Padres have had to use “bullpen starts” because they don’t have enough reliable starters. Teams are supposed to have five starters for a rotation. Most teams today don’t have even four reliable starters, and the Padres are among them. They actually have only two: RHP Tyson Ross & LHP Clayton Richard.

The rest of their “starters” include rookie LHP Eric Lauer who is 3-4, 6.20 ERA in 45 IP in 10 starts with a 1.98 WHIP. Eric Lauer was the Padres top pick in 2016 (#25 overall) out of Kent State, and just turned age 23. He has been rushed up to the majors due to injuries & poor performances, including: RHP Dinelson Lamet (TJ surgery), RHP Luis Perdomo (ineffective, optioned to minors), LHP Joey Lucchesi (DL- hip injury), and RHP Colin Rea (TJ surgery recovery from his one start while with the Marlins in 2016).

Taking a closer look at these numbers reveals a secret behind Andy Green’s success in managing this staff. Eric Lauer (below) has 10 starts with only 45 IP, for a 6.20 ERA. Eric Lauer typically only pitches 4-5 innings, and gives up 3 runs. That’s not good, but it’s not a disaster either. It would be a disaster if Andy Green tried to push Lauer another inning or two. Then those games would get out-of-Hand [!], giving him no chance to use his effective relievers in a situation that matters. By pulling his struggling starters early, or going to a bullpen start; Andy Green keeps the damage to a minimum which gives his team a chance to rally. In baseball, this is called being an outstanding manager, with an excellent “feel” for his team.

On August 1, 2017 RHP Jordan Lyles was released by the Colorado Rockies, and a week later AJ Preller grabbed him. The Padres had priority on NL waivers claims at the time, due to their poor record in 2016. This is just another example of how AJ Preller acquires talent outside-the-box. The Padres have used Lyles in 2018 as a their fill-in 4th starter; so far 2-3, 4.83 ERA in 20 games, seven of them starts. He’s pitched 59.2 innings, which averages 3 innings per appearance. This is the same situation as Eric Lauer, in that Jordan Lyles eats innings, but gets pulled early. This is because winning baseball theory says, “If you leave a 5.00+ ERA pitcher in too long, you lose.”

LHP Robbie Erlin (above) is another organizational soldier who has recovered from Tommy John surgery. Erlin was originally acquired from the Texas Rangers back in 2011 for righty set-up man Mike Adams. Robbie Erlin bombed as a starter in his few opportunities he had earlier this year, but he has found a niche as a lefty longman out of Andy Green’s bullpen. Overall, Robbie Erlin in 2018 is 1-3, with a 4.05 ERA in 40.0 IP and a WHIP of 1.05. His 19 appearances include 2 disaster starts which ballooned his ERA. Robbie Erlin has been very valuable during the bullpen starts, and in long relief.

The only thing left on the current Padres pitching staff (above) are RHP’s Bryan Mitchell & Phil Hughes. On December 12, 2017 the New York Yankees traded 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell and cash to San Diego Padres for RF Jabari Blash. Blash was quickly DFA’d by the Yankees. This deal was made because 1) the Yankees needed to get under the salary cap as they were about to acquire Giancarlo Stanton; and 2) Padres GM AJ Preller liked RHP Bryan Mitchell.

The Padres took an Chase Headley’s $13M contract for 2018, in the hopes they could squeeze a year out of him and gain a potential starter (Mitchell) in the process. Headley bombed and was DFA’d by the Padres after a slow start, and Bryan Mitchell appears to have serious mechanical issues that are limiting his effectiveness. So far in 2018 Bryan Mitchell is 0 -3, with a 7.08 ERA in 48.1 IP. If that isn’t corrected, then this deal will be a $13M bust for the Padres. This only proves that no one wins them all as a GM in MLB.

Phil Hughes was acquired from the Twins on May 27, 2018 for minor-league C Janigson Villalobos. Twins are paying all of Phil Hughes $13.2M salary in 2018. In 2019 Hughes earns $13,200,000, of which only $5.95M will be paid by San Diego Padres. This deal was made by AJ Preller so he could acquire the 74th pick in this year’s amateur draft, and extra pool money.

Compensation picks are now tradeable in MLB, which is new. Unsurprisingly, AJ Preller was the first to take advantage of this new development, and get an advantage for his franchise. The Padres used this pick from the Twins in the “Competitive Balance B” section of the draft to take OF Grant Little from Texas Tech, with the 74th overall selection. The Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick to the Kansas City Royals for signing unrestricted free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, so this deal made up for that lost draft pick. Nothing is more valuable in MLB than young talent, and AJ Preller (below) knows it.  So far in 2018 with the Padres Phil Hughes is 0-0, 4.05 ERA in 6.2 IP.

DL Note: Phil Maton is a righty set-up guy the Padres drafted in 2015. His 2018 numbers are 0-0, 0.56 ERA in 16.0 IP, with 17 K’s. Maton is currently on the DL with a right lat strain, and pitching in AA (San Antonio) for rehabilitation. The Padres will get him back after the All Star break at the latest, probably sending Jose Castillo down, as Bryan Mitchell and Phil Hughes can’t be optioned.

And finally… Carter Capps was the Marlins wipe-out closer in 2015, until his elbow snapped, necessitating Tommy John surgery. He was dealt to the Padres during his recovery in the controversial “Cashout” deal. On July 29, 2016 the San Diego Padres traded RHP’s Andrew Cashner & Colin Rea, with RHP-prospect Tayron Guerrero and cash to Miami Marlins for RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Carter Capps, RHP Luis Castillo and 1B Josh Naylor. This deal has been discussed & analyzed in detail here.

Anyways the prize of the deal for the Padres was Carter Capps, whom they expected to return to form in 2017 as an elite closer after rehabbing his reconstructed right elbow. The problem was (and now forever is) that his delivery to home was an illegal motion. He was hopping off the mound, then replanting his back foot before firing home. This made him unhittable, as his ERA in 2015 was 1.16 in 31.0 IP before he got hurt.

MLB (finally) ruled in Spring Training of 2017, that Carter Capps’ delivery was illegal. Much of this can be seen as extended punishment of AJ Preller by the Eastern Establishment. That aside, the Padres have tried everything to change Capps’ delivery while keeping him effective, but nothing has worked. He’s about to turn age 28, and he’s still getting rocked in the minors. He’s making ~ $1.3M this year, with one more year of arbitration before free agency.

The blame for all this lies with the Miami Marlins, who allowed this pitcher to come through their system with an illegal motion. The Atlanta Braves correctly challenged his delivery in a game, shortly before his was disabled, but were rebuked by the umpires. MLB never acted upon any of this nonsense, until the Padres acquired him. Then it was pronounced illegal. Talk about nullifying a deal by judicial fiat?!!

PADRES 2018 DRAFT SIGNEES (as of this publication)

3 | SS Owen Miller (Illinois St.)
4 | RHP Dylan Coleman (Missouri St.)
5 | OF Dwanya Williams-Sutton (East Carolina)
7 | OF Jawuan Harris (Rutgers)
8 | RHP Steven Wilson (Santa Clara)
9 | 2B Luke Becker (Kentucky)
11 | C Nick Gatewood (Georgia St.)
14 | RHP Erik Sabrowski (Cloud County CC)
16 | C Michael Curry (Georgia)
20 | RHP Reiss Kneher (Fordham)
21 | OF Mason Fox (Gardner-Webb)
22 | RHP Payton Smith (Strom Thurmond HS, S.C.)
25 | 2B Lee Solomon (Lipscomb)
26 | LHP Tyler Mortensen (Davis HS, Calif.)
27 | RHP Gabe Mosser (Shippensburg)
31 | RHP Jake Sims (Saint Leo)
32 | LHP Cody Tyler (Wichita St.)
33 | C Rainier Aguilar (Redlands)
39 | RHP Seth Mayberry (Dinwiddie County HS, Va.)

Draft Notes: Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick in compensation for signing free agent Eric Hosmer. The Kansas City Royals used this 34th overall pick on Daniel Lynch, a LHP from the University of Virginia whose suggested slot value is $2,066,700.

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The worst free-agent signing of the off-season was Alex Cobb (4/$57M) to the Orioles, inked at the end of spring training (March 21, 2018). Alex Cobb was the last “big-name” starting pitcher on the market, and the O’s were desperate. So far for Cobb: 2-8, 7.23 ERA, 56.0 IP.

The Orioles also forfeited their 2nd-round pick to the Rays in this deal. The Rays then selected #31 overall, and took LHP Shane McClanahan out of South Florida, whose slot value is $2,224,400. In a free agent market that had completely collapsed for all but the very best players, this was about as bad a deal as a franchise could make. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, the owner can’t be fired. He needs to be forced to sell.

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The Padres have signed 19 of their 2018 draft picks, including six of their top 11 selections. They have until July 6 to sign these remaining selections:

1st Round: #7 overall Ryan Weathers LHP from Loretto (TN) HS, whose slot value is $5,226,500. Money isn’t a problem for this organization anymore, as this signing is imminent. Ryan is the son of former MLB pitcher David Weathers.

Competitive Balance A: #38 overall Xavier Edwards SS North Broward Prep (FL) HS

Competitive Balance B: #74 overall (acquired from Twins) Grant Little, OF from Texas Tech

6th Round: #171 overall Alexuan Vega, LHP, Leonides Morales Rodriguez HS, San German, Puerto Rico

10th Round: #291 overall Jose Quezada, RHP, Texas Tech; this selection was a gamble as he’s a fourth-year senior with a lot of tools. Padres are trying to be creative with their bonus money to sign him. He’s a teammate of the Padres Competitive B selection, Grant Little, discussed above.

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MLB Umpiring Notes: It’s difficult enough for a last-place, west coast team to go on a 10-games-in-10-days east coast road-trip, and beat a 1st-place team. It becomes nearly impossible, when the umpiring is fixed.

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San Diego Padres In -Season Report

These were the top free-agent pitchers available last winter and who actually won.

Hu Darvish: signed with Cubs 6yr/$126M, so far: 1-3, 4.95 ERA, 40 IP; currently on the DL with right triceps tendinitis with no timetable for his return.

Jake Arrieta: signed with the Phillies 3yr/$75M. so far: 5-4, 2.95 ERA, 69.2 IP; he’s been the best performer of all the free-agent pitchers. He’s still an injury risk.

Lance Lynn: signed with the Twins 1yr/$12M, so far: 4-4, 5.08 ERA, 62.0 IP; wasted money for the Twins, but not a disaster deal.

Alex Cobb: signed with the Orioles on March 21 [!] for 4yr/$57M, so far: 2-7, 6.19 ERA, 52.1 IP; this was an inexplicable waste of money as everyone stayed away from him, but that’s Peter Angelos– see also Chris Davis.

Sidenote: Orioles should release 1B/DH Chris Davis (.152/.232/.232), which would be addition by subtraction. He’s age-32 and a sunk cost, so “hoping” for things to turn around is futile. It’s hard to eat over $100M, but that’s the best thing the Orioles can do, if they are concerned about making themselves better, and they should be. This is the worst team in MLB, by far. The Chris Davis contract compares to the Pujols (Angels) & A-Rod (Yankees) albatrosses, and is probably actually worse. His best season under this 7-year deal at ($23M/per) was 2016: .221/.332/.459 in 665 PA. This is all on owner Peter Angelos, of course.

On December 27, 2017 Padres GM AJ Preller inked RHP Tyson Ross (above) to a 1yr/$1.75M deal, so far: 5-3, 3.43 ERA, 76 IP; this was the best free-agent pitcher signing of the off-season. Jake Arrieta has been better, but he costs 15x more money. For GM’s it’s about finding value and properly allocating resources. You can’t do better than what the Padres got here, and they really needed it.

Padres also signed 1B Eric Hosmer 8yr/$144M, who has been an invaluable addition. Without Hosmer, the Padres are at least 10 GB, instead of the 5.5 they currently sit. It’s the leadership he brings with the performance, as Padres fans now understand why Royals fans hated to see him go. This guy is a winner, and was the best position player available last winter in free-agency.

The fact that the Padres are still in last place despite these helpful additions, only proves how far back they actually were. This organization has been rebuilt from the ground, since the in-season sell-off of 2016. People are starting to see how this could be a dangerous team, as they have the best farm system in baseball, with a few interesting pieces at the MLB level.

Media rumors about the upcoming trade deadline (7/31) have again floated Padres closer Brad Hand (above) as an acquisition target for a championship contender. This is the same situation as last year, and the year before– actually. If a team is serious about upgrading their bullpen, then it’s Brad Hand. No one else is even close to his value. So far, no one has been willing to pay the Padres what he’s worth.

In 2018: 32.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, 50 K’s, 1.021 WHIP, with 18 saves. This is your basic wipe-out lefty, who gets stronger as the season progresses. Everyone covets that. Salary: $4M in 2018, then $7M, $7.6M; and the option for 2021 is $10M, with $1M buyout. This was yet another great move by AJ Preller this past winter, and he will sell only if the price is right. Until then, Brad Hand will continue to make manager Andy Green’s job easier, and the Padres look better than they really are. I believe Brad Hand is staying in San Diego.

The Padres have one of the best bullpens in MLB, and a manager who knows how to use it. That’s why they’ve been able to hang around in the NL West. Bullpens are really important, and still underrated & misunderstood by most. Today, most games are won or lost by the bullpens. Starting pitching is valuable when it performs and rests the bullpen. There aren’t a whole lot of those starters left, hence this bullpen revolution in MLB.

No one expects the Padres to seriously compete in 2018, but their dugout and front office haven’t given up on the season either. What’s going on is a constant evaluation process in which management is trying to figure out who their best young players are, and which ones they can trade. Roster management and protecting from the Rule 5 Draft are now issues for the Padres. GM AJ Preller thinks way ahead of everybody on these things, so expect him to make to deals before the deadline.

AJ Preller and company have assembled plenty of talent, so the focus is now on player development & injury management. The Padres drafted another LHP in the 1st Round of the June amateur draft, selecting Ryan Weathers a high-schooler, and the son of David Weathers former MLB pitcher. The Padres have more premium pitching talent than any farm system in baseball, and just added to it. If it is kept healthy and develops on track, then the Padres will be a force in the NL West by 2019, 2020 at the latest.

Meanwhile, this is a (mostly) young team that makes lots of mistakes, but doesn’t quit. They aren’t a good team, but they aren’t a joke either, and that’s an improvement. The energy is there, the brains are there, and the talent is coming. Padres fans are excited in ways they’ve never been before, and we’re talking about a franchise with a 50-year history.

They actually have a farm system and a plan to succeed long-term, based on home-grown talent. This never existed before AJ Preller was hired in 2014, and it’s all the difference in the world. Fans don’t mind watching a young scrappy last-place team, that they believe will get better over time. But fans won’t tolerate an old, overpaid team tanking into oblivion, with no hope for next year– see the 2018 Orioles.

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Beauty, Athletics & Revolution

Introduction: This piece was intended as a one-off, but turned into a serial– due to circumstances. Once again, I injected myself into the narrative, and dominated discussion through persuasive & convincing analysis of the facts. In the end it got ugly, as it’s the money that turns beauty into disgrace.

There is a shift in how retiring from professional sports is viewed, and the reason is women. That’s exciting in itself, because there is no better reason. There are now female athletes who are international superstars, and that never existed in numbers before. What began in US Women’s Soccer during World Cup 1999, was the beginning of a cultural change in sports. More young girls play sports, and play seriously- which I know is an oxymoron.

The point is women now command a place in televised sports, and they certainly have owned social media since its inception. This is a powerful coalescence of nature & technology. Glamorous superstars such as Danica Patrick, Maria Sharapova, Serena & Venus Williams have marketing power that will endure long after they leave their sports.

Take Maria Sharapova, who two years ago was banned from professional tennis for taking meldonium, which had just been quietly outlawed by the WTA & WADA. She lost all her sponsors overnight, and was vilified in the media for months.

Until her return over a year-and-a half later at the US Open in 2017, where she was the lead story of the tournament. Few remember that Sloane Stephens actually won the tournament on the women’s side, because it’s all about marketing power & appeal for the women. We ask women athletes to always be ravishing, smiling, gracious & victorious– in that order. That’s all we ask.

Staying with women’s tennis, the French Open has advanced to the second round as of this publication. The story of this tournament is the return of Serena Williams, after a year-and-a-half absence– due to giving birth and ensuing medical complications. The expectations for her are different now at age 36, as even she realizes winning the tournament is probably not possible, and motherhood is her priority.

But she’s a great champion, and that mentality says as long as you can stand on two legs and hold a racket, then compete in the Majors until retiring. So it’s a situation where she’s no longer the overwhelming favorite to win, but instead the fan favorite. Women have options available to them, that men don’t, simply due to biology. This is revolutionary in that it’s changing the rules for the athletes transitioning into retirement & their new lives. Male athletes will eventually adapt and catch up, due to their competitive nature.

Danica Patrick is a most-recent example of this phenomena of which I speak. The racing icon crashed out of the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend, which was her final race. Her last several seasons in NASCAR were painful for her and her fans. She was repeatedly, intentionally & viciously wrecked. But does her lack of winning results on the track affect her popularity or appeal? Not in the least. This woman will be in demand for a long time. Consider what I posted 5-29-18 on Facebook, concerning Danica Patrick and this phenomena:

I am being blocked, censored & blacklisted by the government-military-intelligence-corporate complex; yet “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often In NASCAR?” went viral- again. Everyone is looking for perspective now that she is retired, and this piece hits the mark. I don’t bother to edit it, even though some of the YouTube videos have been taken down. In its own way, that is confirmation on the points I made, as the haters who own the videos don’t want it used against their Danica-hating agenda.

I wrote this piece because I didn’t want to see her get killed. I believe this went a long ways towards educating fans on what was going on, which protected her from the haters who were having their way for the longest time. ESPN was clueless on Danica Patrick’s NASCAR run, until this was published. This piece resonates because people get emotional about beautiful women. People (myself included) get very angry at haters who have no respect.

I can only thank Danica Patrick (whom I’ve never met), for exposing me to so many people!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it again, as it is really important to understand: beautiful women rule the world. Everyone wants love, so beautiful women own all the straight men & the lesbians. The gay men must follow, because these women capture all the men. The less beautiful & older women are always jealous, but follow just the same. There is nothing else.

So women are figuring out new ways to leave their athletic careers, and still be relevant in the world. I see this leading into exciting new directions in the post-career health of professional athletes. For too long, sports has been solely the domain of men, who left their games crippled & concussed. Thus they were discarded, because they no longer had use value.

Men will have to learn to temper their competitive instincts better, especially in the second-halves of their careers, to reap these benefits that women are claiming. Fans can usually forgive transgressions of youth, but they expect champions (in particular), to learn how to behave and be gracious in victory, as well as defeat.

Fans also are tired of the doping, and the lying & manipulations that allow them to get away with it– for a time. These obsessive & unhealthy practices never endear athletes to sports fans. PED use always ends in shame & injuries, with ensuing medical complications; yet there is still a group of holdout jocks that insist they are correct. They always hide their illicit immorality, and that’s why their dangerous myths must be exposed.

Today, more than ever, the fan/celebrity relationship is an interactive one. When fans & athletes are correctly understanding all these issues, sports becomes more watchable & less cynical. The reporting & commenting becomes more nuanced & informative. Everyone has more fun.

We as a society value women differently, for better & worse. The better part is they have the power to move in their own direction and make everyone follow. If it’s a good direction, then everyone (men included) benefit from their gains. That is the revolutionary power & potential of women is sports today. We choose to move in this direction when we give these pioneers our support.

Postscript– 2018 French Open, 3rd & 4th Round:

Posted June 3, 2018 on Fakebook:

Venus & Serena Williams lost their doubles match today at Roland-Garros 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0. After Serena won her 3rd-Round match yesterday, she could have bailed on doubles to save herself for Maria Sharapova on Monday– but she didn’t. Serena Williams played because you don’t leave your sister (and fans) hanging, and that marks a great champion with integrity.

Posted June 4, 2018:

Update June 5, 2018 (11:30 AM ET):

Serena Williams is getting an MRI on her torn chest muscles today. The mismanagement of Serena’s health post-partum, has been scandalous from a fan perspective. When she lost badly on the hard-courts earlier this year, Serena and her camp were forced to admit that she had “tried to come back too soon.” Now she tears her pectoral muscle after a last-minute decision to play in the French Open, but no one will step-up and admit she came back too soon– again!

Serena Williams’ “comeback” has been aborted by short-sighted ignorance in sports medicine. It’s time for everyone involved here, to wake up & look at reality with an objective eye. Serena’s drop in serve velocity from 110 MPH to 80 MPH was the most damning red flag that was ignored.

As Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou has a responsibility to protect her from abuse. The serve in tennis is the same motion as pitching a baseball. Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw just went on the DL after pitching in a game where his fastball dropped nearly 5% from its normal velocity. Serena Williams’ serve dropped nearly 30%, yet she was left in her doubles match, with tape [!] over her torn pectoral muscle.

It was Mouratoglou who was pushing this French Open return for Serena from the start, when she was nowhere near ready. Whether she could have made a real comeback later will be debated among sports fans, you can bet.

Injuries are now stacking up on Serena Williams, and all their “plans” have only made things worse. There are entirely too many people in the Williams’ camp that are vicariously living their dreams of sports glory through her. What a shame.

If this is the end for Serena Williams’ professional career, then she at least died a warrior’s death. The greatest women’s tennis player had to retire to Maria Sharapova. Isn’t it ironic…?

Since I’m covering the French Open, here are my thoughts on the men’s side, and how champions separate themselves. First, I predict Rafa Nadal will win his 11th French Open title [!] this week.That is an unbreakable record to which he keeps adding. It is the story every year at Roland-Garros. Only injuries (& Novak Djokovic’s brilliant run) interrupted his accumulation of French Open titles. Simply amazing.

Secondly, tennis fans may have noticed that Roger Federer isn’t in this tournament. Why? Because he knows he can’t win it, and trying to only hurts his chances at Wimbledon, which is a tournament he can win.

The grind of winning the French Open at his advanced age pretty much takes Rafa Nadal out of contention at Wimbledon, so in essence they concede these Majors to each other, and play the hard-courts straight up, where Federer is the better player. This intelligence of Roger Federer in managing his career on the back-end is what separates him from the rest of the champions– IMO.

Update June 6, 2018 ~8:00 PM (ET):

On Monday (6/4), upon finding out just before her long-anticipated match with Serena Williams that she had withdrawn due to injury, Maria Sharapova released this statement: “I was looking forward to my match against Serena today and am disappointed that she had to withdraw. I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to the tour soon.”

Earlier today (6/6) Maria Sharapova looked lethargic & out-of-rhythm, as she lost badly in her quarterfinal match to Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-1. In her press conference afterwards she was asked by ESPN press to respond to Serena Williams’ claims that her autobiography Unstoppable (2017) was “100% hearsay”. Sharapova replied, “I think it would be strange for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years … I think we played many matches. Some of those matches were very defining for me. It would be very strange, I think, if I didn’t write anything about her … When you’re writing an autobiography, I don’t think there is any reason to write anything that’s not true.”

Still no news on the results of Serena Williams’ MRI, despite her words to concerned fans on Tuesday (6/5) for continuous updates. ESPN ‘reporters’ Peter Bodo & Bonnie D. Ford keep writing hatchet pieces on Sharapova, while covering for Serena. This “Great Comeback” which they had been hyping has collapsed before everyone’s eyes, as this turned out to be the end. No one saw this coming, as even I was surprised when it happened. I have called it frame-by-frame, and am (again) hated for it– by corporate-propaganda interests.

Serena Williams is tied not only to the American sports machinery, but also to the reactionary Black Lives Matter & #MeToo campaigns. I’ve exposed their selfishness, corruption & lack of transparency. Therefore, I’m censored. Bitch factor has definitely been turned up. You didn’t think it just went away, did you?

I don’t expect a significant announcement on Serena’s medical condition anytime soon. She’s been allowed to play this game of lies & deception in the media for so long, why stop now? Her fans are pawns to be manipulated in her view. This is also unprofessional & disrespectful to her colleagues, who are being overshadowed on-the-court by all of Serena’s retirement drama. She can’t let go, and selfishly only considers her perspective. The fans have been educated here, and she’s losing much of her clout. That’s what happens when you lie to me.

Update June 9 (Saturday) ~ Noon ET– French Open Wrap-up:

Top-seeded Simona Halep from Romania, defeated Sloane Stephens in the finals: 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Halep was the dominant player on the women’s side this year at Roland-Garros. She beat Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, and Garbine Muguguza (handily) in the semis. It’s Simona Halep’s 1st Grand Slam title, and it was impressive. Halep is age 26, and Stephens age 25; which means both are near their peak. The next great women’s tennis player in the “post-Williams’ sisters” era is still an unknown teenager.

Rafa Nadal will face 24-year old Austrian Dominic Theim on Sunday. Nadal has won 16 Grand Slam titles already, going for his 11th French Open title. Theim has none. Everyone expects Nadal to win in straight sets, four at the most.

Final notes:

Still no injury update from Serena Williams. I called that. At this point she can’t say anything, as the finals are in progress, and it’s really bad form to call a press conference now. Eventually she’ll have to do just that, as Wimbledon is just around the corner– July 2-15 in London, UK. Serena Williams has won there 7 times, and as recently as 2016, so surely she will get a wild-card entry. The problem is she went from ~ 50-60% entering the French Open; to 0% now. If she continues to delay the inevitable retirement announcement, her fans will just move on without her. That’s how the world works. Fans would love to see her & Venus retire together, and it’s time. Venus turns 38 on June 17, and (IMO) doesn’t get enough love, so Happy Birthday Venus!!

Thoughts on Wimbledon: The location of this tournament should give pause for all of us to reflect on (and speak in behalf of) a man who has been incarcerated in the Ecuadorian embassy for the past seven-and-a-half years. It’s a lot more important than what happens on any tennis court.

Pre-Wimbledon Update– June 28, 2018:

Re: Serena Williams seeded No. 25 for Wimbledon / ESPN

Did Serena Williams tank her last set of doubles with her sister Venus at the French Open (6-0), so she could over-inflate an “injury,” that allowed her an excuse to duck her long-anticipated match with Maria Sharapova?

On June 4, 2018 Serena Williams withdrew from her scheduled match against Maria Sharapova in the 4th round of the French Open. She cited a “torn pectoral muscle” and claimed she couldn’t even lift her arm to serve. She said she was getting an MRI immediately, and would reveal the those results to the media & her fans, whom she wanted to keep “totally updated.” Serena Williams never updated any of this, but instead went into hiding. Now, she has claims to have miraculously recovered from an injury that normally requires months to heal, and says she’s ready for Wimbledon on July 2– with her seeding which she all but demanded. Dominika Cibulkova, who is ranked No. 32, but is now is unseeded, is absolutely correct in her comments.

Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player ever, and therefore always deserves a Wild Card entry into any tournament she wants to play. That is the privilege she has earned, and the ONLY privilege a player can earn. Manipulating seedings to accommodate an ego is enabling. There’s a lot of enabling going on here.

Sports are supposed to be about fair competition, and this is the line. ESPN works with Serena Williams (and her handlers) to fudge this line, which is unfair to every other competitor. This deserves a deeper, up-close investigative article, which will never happen on ESPN. The only fair solution for Wimbledon (at this point) is for #25 seed Serena Williams to magically “draw” Dominika Cibulkova in the 1st Round, so they can slug it out. I don’t expect that to happen either.

July 1, 2018  4:00 PM:

An Anti-Doping Agent Occupied Serena Williams’s Property And Everyone Is Being Squirrelly About It

By Laura Wagner Deadspin.com

ESPN has now posted their summary to Deadspin’s above bombshell that has hit the Internet earlier today. It’s really hard to know what’s going on here? Serena Williams claims she’s been disproportionately over-tested, but Roger Federer says there should be more testing for everybody. That’s NOT a statement of support from Federer for Serena, as ESPN tries to insinuate. Media manipulation is a very subtle science. New facts will come to light, that will expose sordid machinations.

The real questions include: Was Serena at home when the tester arrived?  Was she spotted by the tester? If “Yes,” then the tester would be correct to insist on administering the test. These are professionals, not clowns, and their time is valuable. Note: A guilty PED-user that needed the extra 12 hours for a PED to clear their system would be motivated refuse the test.

Serena Williams keeps trying to play a double-game with the media and her fans. WADA isn’t allowed to comment on anything, due to patient privacy issues. In other words, the tester (doctor) isn’t allowed to speak— due to HIPPA. Serena Williams is allowed to speak all she wants, yet offers no facts as to what happened. She only insinuates that her privacy has been invaded.

What I do is called LieSpotting, and it totally [!] works when you know the tells to look & listen for. Stay tuned!!

Monday– July 2, 2018  ~ 12:30 ET:

The above-referenced Deadspin article that revealed this story to the public was published on June 27, and it concerns an unannounced USADA drug test at Serena Williams’ residence in Florida. An official showed up to test Williams at 8:30 a.m on June 14. Evidentially, there was a standoff, and the test was NOT administered.

No explanation of what actually happened has been given. Only Serena Williams has the right to reveal what happened, due to patient privacy. When she asks (out loud) for answers in the media, she is deflecting. She knows no one can answer. WADA can’t say, her camp is loyal to her, and ESPN is in her pocket. I’m fighting all this lying machinery with only the truth and my resourcefulness.

The thing that blew this open was a fan in the San Francisco airport, who overheard Steve Simon talking to Serena Williams (and others), concerning this matter on June 14. Simon (photo below) is a top handler in the Williams’ camp, although the witness didn’t know it at the time. A summary of this conversation was emailed to Deadspin, where basic facts were checked & confirmed.

The story written by Laura Wagner, and published as a defense of Serena. Expect no less from the pseudo-left, as Wagner’s contortions to exonerate Serena Williams are torturous. For instance, Laura Wagner is okay with TUE-doping, because it “doesn’t break any rules.” It asks no important questions, such as: “Where exactly was Serena when the tester arrived?” Laura Wagner is a fanatical #MeToo-er, you can tell.

The only revolutionary content in the article are the facts supplied by the tipster. But that in itself is all that’s needed, as fans are now smart enough to figure this stuff out. Fact: Serena Williams refused a USADA drug test on the morning of June 14, 2018. That fact is now in the public domain, which ESPN and the Williams camp don’t want. This is how their narrative can get overwhelmed by the facts and truth, which threatens imminent collapse & ignominy. Only drug cheats refuse testing, then complain about being unfairly targeted & harassed. Only self-interested enablers defend them.

Two years ago, Maria Sharapova was finally sentenced and banned from professional tennis for 15 months, over her meldonium use during the Australian Open in January 2016. Sharapova never denied her usage, only insisting she was unaware that it had just been put on the banned list. She cited compelling evidence that this ban was hidden from her. This writer was the first to publicly suggest that she was set up, for political reasons.

The take-home points are: 1) Sharapova never denied anything, and 2) Meldonium has minimal (if any) boost effect, there are many, many far more dangerous drugs that athletes use regularly. If drug testing is about ethics and preventing athletes from gaining an unfair advantage, then the Sharapova case was a complete fraud from the start. This refusal to be tested by Serena Williams, only further vindicates everything I’ve written on this.

Monday ~4:00 PM ET

Serena Williams wins her Wimbledon return       ESPN news Services 2:09 PM

Serena Williams defeated #107 in the world Arantxa Rus 7-5, 6-3. Her “torn pectoral muscle” doesn’t seem to be an issue at all. I didn’t watch the match, but the video of match point shows how beatable Serena is now. Her serve doesn’t pop like it used to, and her footwork is sluggish. The first seasoned opponent who can actually hit will beat her. Take the word of an expert.

Interestingly, no mention in the write-up of Serena Williams’ refusal to be tested at her residence on the morning of June 14, 2018. If it was Maria Sharapova under these circumstances, it would be an ESPN-led media frenzy– for sure! Can anyone explain this hypocrisy?

Final points on Sharapova: when the ban was supposedly lifted, she requested a Wild Card entry into the 2017 French Open & Wimbledon, as she didn’t have the time to accumulate ranking points, and is a past champion of both tournaments. She was denied this courtesy by both venues, which only proves they were in in the fix to ban her in the first place.

Maria Sharapova never complained about the biased refusals. She played her way back, and finally returned to a major at the 2017 US Open. Why does no one at ESPN respect that? It’s because these are the same propagandists who insist on fixing the seedings for Serena Williams. Sports at this level are big business & dirty politics.

Above is Serena Williams’ press conference after her 1st-round win. Note this interesting exchange which begins ~5:30 in the video.

Reporter: One question on testing, which we ran out of time for yesterday. You said you hope for everything to be equal. Do you feel like you are being unfairly targeted by testing? And if so, why do you think?

Serena: I’m in the same position as you guys [reporters who are asking questions], I really want answers [as to why I’m tested so much]. I think it’s a question they [USADA] have to answer. I’m just as curious as you are at his point.

Reporter: You don’t feel like you have answers at this point?

Serena: I don’t have any answers. I’m in the middle of Wimbledon. I think if it wasn’t Wimbledon, I would pursue answers, you know? Just to understand better, but uh… yeah, right now I’m just focused on this.

Tuesday  July 3, 2018 ~10:00 AM ET

When you are blacklisted, you become the proverbial “Ghost in the Machine” to your government-corporate enemies. The establishment can’t directly fight you in public forums, because they won’t acknowledge you– due to their blacklist. This complete freedom of action (without fear of public retribution– because you’re already blacklisted) is the dialectical rub.

Tuesday ~1:30 PM:

I just checked the ESPN/Tennis page, and there is no longer any place for me to click to the comments section [!]. This goes for all other sports too. It just reads, “SPONSORED HEADLINES.” I’m not quite sure if this is for everyone, if it’s just temporary, or if I’m being banned. I have my suspicions, as I’ve seen this before. I’ve already been banned from commenting at MLB.com, since my prominent role in exposing the “Shohei Ohtani Affair.”  If you don’t see me in the ESPN comments section for Wimbledon anymore, then you’ll know what happened.

Too many fans were reading my comments, and coming to the “wrong” conclusions– in the eyes of ESPN. My comments are always top-rated and eagerly read, as they provide insight & analysis that no one else provides. I can take anyone with above-average intelligence from clueless-to-well-understood on any sports situation in two paragraphs, or less. That’s power. The people who advocate for censorship are cowards.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018  ~8:00 AM

I’ve definitely been blacklisted from ESPN.com. The above screenshot (taken this morning) shows you what I’m seeing. There is no place to click into the comments section– only SPONSORED HEADLINES. This targeted ban has been achieved in partnership with Facebook, who are leading experts at censoring & manipulating social media.

I’m sure the Serena Williams’ camp & ESPN felt “harassed,” or whatever by my pointed comments & questions. Whatever reasons they may (eventually) claim, it’s simply idealist nonsense from a snowflake, and her enablers who control the corporate media. This is America, and on Independence Day people are supposed to be celebrating hard-won freedoms, which include exercising their freedom of speech.

In March 2016, ESPN/W (ESPN for Women) killed it’s comments section, due to backlash from fans who flamed its biased & incompetent writing. It seems their right-wing feminist style of sports reporting wasn’t popular with anybody. The puff-piece “writers” at ESPN/W demanded censorship, so they don’t have to worry about negative feedback– which is “online bullying” in their eyes. Others view this commenting gag as fascist intolerance of dissent. You decide.

This is the precarious state of everything in America on July 4, 2018. These charlatans who wrap themselves in the flag and proclaim to be role models for the rest of us, are nothing but lying, yellow-bellied cheats. They can pull a few strings, to gain a temporary respite, but eventually they will be brought down with the rest of this bureaucratic capitalist scum. Facts and the truth are stubborn things.

Wednesday July, 4  ~11:00 AM ET

I’m just back from some ambidextrous tennis, and ready for the day’s action at Wimbledon. How do I feel about being banned from ESPN’s forums, you ask? I expected it. Like I said yesterday, right before this ban went into effect, I’ve seen this before. RicSize.com is the most heavily censored artist website on the Internet, and probably only 2nd-overall to the World Socialist Web Site– wsws.org.

My site came online in January 2012. The proliferation of pseudo-left sites that began in that time period was very much a reaction to my site. The increasing activity and media presence of these philistine bloggers is an indirect response to my growing influence as an artist. Marxist aren’t allowed into the discussion– that’s Rule #1 in bourgeois culture. The reason is, Marxism is correct; and the truth can be highly influential & motivating…

So what do I do now? I don’t worry about it, as I know I won this battle. ESPN has all-but-conceded they can’t match me in an open forum, so now I’m shut out. It’s ESPN who has the problem. As I also mentioned yesterday, I was [!] a top-rated commenter at ESPN, which drives interest & advertising. Without me in there dropping astute wisdom at just the right moment, the number of clicks goes way down. Their interest level drops rapidly, as they “Don’t Get Excited.”

I can still write whatever I want and post on my site, so I haven’t been cut off. I have fans too, and they’re listening closely. Note: I could always use a few more, so please Share!!

I believe I actually have a few fans among the tennis professionals, whom I have made flattering comments towards, or spoke in their defense, etc. I’m sure they don’t want me to be banned from speaking about tennis, or anything else at ESPN.com. But the reality is I’m blacklisted at ESPN because one influential player (and her camp) demand it. It’s for the good of the game, we’re (sorta) told.

Take a close look and you will see that all the top athletes (in every sport) are gagged by their leagues or controlling organizations, and can’t speak their minds fully– on anything, really. This goes especially for hot-button topics including: standing for the national anthem, PED usage & testing, fixed officiating, owner-player revenue sharing, etc. I’ve spoken the truth too many times, and it’s reached the point where the advertising revenues I create for ESPN is not worth the backlash created by my content. That’s precisely when the ban begins.

This decision is political, business, and (probably) also personal for the ones who made it. My job is to be professional. I expose all this ugliness to everyone, as I’ve been on the cutting edge of this censorship for awhile now. Blacklisting happens to me first, because I’m the most dangerous to their interests.

As far as the content of what I’ve posted, the readers & fans have already absorbed it, which means it’s too late for a blacklist anyways. Once the facts and rationale are out there, it doesn’t go away. You can’t kill an idea. Tennis fans will take up this cause because my position is correct. Fans want the truth, and they aren’t getting it anywhere else, but here.

As for me, I’ve learned to approach these situations as liberating. I can now focus less on sports, because I know my job here is done for now. I kicked ass, and my humiliated opponents had to call off the game. No one covers sports the way I do. I make it relevant and exciting to read. I take the same approach to political economy, and that is how I tie everything together– like no one else.

Social media & the Internet are revolutionary tools because we can now reach-out-and-touch those who seem so far away. All these celebrities and their news organizations crave our input. They can’t get along with out it, so there is no avoiding us. This paradox will soon resolve itself in revolution.

Wednesday July 4, ~6:00 PM ET:

Today, Serena Williams moved into the third round with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Viktoriya Tomova, her 135th-ranked opponent. The #181-ranked Serena Williams is seeded 25th, and will face 62nd-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France in the 3rd round. If you look at the initial draw, you can see (below) that things couldn’t have been set up nicer for Serena Williams if she had been given the #1 seed overall. She may go a long way before she has to play a world-class opponent at the All-England Club.

All of a sudden, I’ve gotten really bored with Wimbledon 2018– on the women’s side. This isn’t a tournament where the best players face off, but an exercise in manipulation & media enabling. Until there’s a breakthrough in truth-telling, or a new revelation that deserves commentary, I’m retiring on all this. I’m citing a torn pectoral muscle, which has made it very painful for me to type anymore. I really can’t type right now, and honestly can’t lift my arm over my head. I’m getting a MRI tomorrow, and I’ll keep you totally updated as to the results! Got that?  Over & Out

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