25 2014 Sep

Los Angeles Dodgers Win the Western Division

Last night the Los Angeles Dodgers beat their arch rivals, the Giants, to clinch the National League Western Division title. The Dodgers won their last three series against the Giants, winning 7 out of 9 games to take control of the division. Manager Don Mattingly lined up his two aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw to pitch in each of those series and the move paid off as the Dodgers won every game they started. This points out the challenge facing any team confronting the Dodgers in the playoffs.

The other night Greinke outpitched Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers used a classic formula for beating a quality pitcher. First, score in the first inning before the pitcher has a chance to settle into a rhythm. Second, hit homeruns. Good pitchers don’t make many mistakes, so it’s difficult to put together a rally comprised of multiple hits. On the rare occasions when you get a mistake pitch, hit it out. That and have your own top-notch pitcher to match up.

Last night their other All-Stars Kershaw and Yasiel Puig stepped up. Kershaw not only pitched 8 innings allowing only one run to lower his Major League leading ERA to a microscopic 1.77 with 11 more strikeouts which adds to his National League leading total of 239, but he started the Dodger offense with a triple to drive in their first run. For those who want to argue that a pitcher shouldn’t win an MVP award, consider this; with the Dodgers 23 games over .500 Kershaw has 21 wins. He also throws 7 innings or more almost every time he pitches. Think that day off for the bullpen doesn’t help the Dodgers in games the next day? With regard to Puig he hit the go ahead homerun and over the last two weeks is getting hot along with the rest of the Dodger offense and he made an amazing throw to get Blanco out at third base. The team seems to be peaking in time for the playoffs.

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18 2014 Sep

Major League Baseball’s Pennant Races

The Major League Baseball regular season is winding down. Half the divisions are locked up with the Angels, Orioles and Nationals coasting into the postseason. The other baseball division races are two team affairs with the Royals challenging the Tigers, the Pirates chasing the Cardinals, and the Giants trying to catch the Dodgers.

The story of the Angels and the A’s calls into question the value of adding a “quality” starting pitcher. The A’s had the best record in baseball, but after a collapse that has you wondering if the trade of Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester didn’t ruin the team’s chemistry, will be fighting for a wild card spot along with the second place team from the Central division and the Mariners. The Angels on the other hand, lost arguably their best starting pitcher, Garret Anderson, to an injury and have been playing great.

In the National League the Brewers will be vying for a wild card along with whoever comes second in the West and Central. Several other teams still have mathematical chances, but not very realistic opportunities to play in October.

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17 2014 Sep

Choosing a Baseball Glove

Baseball gloves come in a variety of sizes and shapes. To select an appropriate glove there are some basics to consider. First, you need to know which position in the field you are playing. Pitchers and infielders generally have smaller gloves because they need to be able to quickly transfer the ball out of the glove to make a throw, and can’t afford to have the ball stuck in the pocket of a big glove. The outfielder’s glove is bigger because the priority is to catch a ball. First basemen and catchers have unique gloves in order to handle the specific needs of those positions, which includes a high volume of catches. If you play multiple positions, you might consider a utility glove, which is larger than an infielder’s glove.

The size of gloves is not only dependent on the position it is designed for, but the age of the user. “Pattern size” is the measurement from the heel of the glove to the top of the glove on the side of the palm. Youth gloves start at a small size of 8 inches and they go up to 12 inches. Adult sizes are 12 to 13 inches. Professional gloves are restricted to a maximum of 12 inches by rule, however it is rarely enforced.

A glove can cost anywhere from $15 to over $200. A quality glove costs more but tends to be more durable. If you play a lot of baseball, it might be worth it to spend a little more. On the other hand if you are young, it might make more sense to spend less on a glove you will soon outgrow.

Ultimately, your glove has to feel good. It’s hard to play well if your glove is uncomfortable.

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28 2014 Aug

Choosing a Baseball Bat

Selecting a baseball bat is often a very subjective process. You just have to try out a variety of sizes and weights to determine what feels best. However there are some basic concepts to consider. If you are big and strong you can wield a heavier bat. A smaller player can benefit from an increase in their bat speed with a lighter bat. A longer bat provides greater reach for outside pitches, but it is also heavier, which can slow down your swing. Striking the right balance between power and speed is a matter of trial and error.

Youths 12 years old and younger usually use a bat with a 2 1/4” diameter barrel. This is the standard size for Dixie Youth and Little League baseball. High schools and colleges restrict the barrel diameter to a maximum size of 2 5/8”. All leagues have their own bat requirements, so always check to learn the rules before you buy a bat.

As mentioned earlier, you have to test out a bat to determine if it is going to work well for you, but here are some basic guides for bat length based on age. Most 5-7 year olds use a 24”-26” bat. 8-9 year olds usually use a 26”-28” bat. 10 year olds typically swing a 28”-29” bat. An 11-12 year old generally uses a 30”-31” bat. 13-14 year olds usually wield a 31”-32” bat and 15-16 year olds often use a 32”-33” bat.

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