Oh-tani Surprise


There was a big crowd around the batting cages at Maryvale this week. Travis Shaw was smacking the ball as many of the invitees were watch with intentness as the veteran third baseman blistered each machine thrown pitch. Rarely do you see the big boys in The Show in the outside batting cages. Something was up. As we entered, we saw a Brewers team on the field and a team in red jersey’s coming to bat.

As some of the first through the gates, we took our seats and there were just a few in the ballpark. Love this time of the year and the early time at the ballpark. It is all yours. Usually there is just a few players warming up in the outfield. But today, we were given a sheet with all of the players numbers, many in the 90s on the back of their uniform.

There was no announcement of the game. Like an old time ‘Hollywood Sneak Preview’, before the scheduled game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners, the Angels and Brewers, represented by lineups otherwise consisting mostly of minor leaguers, played inside Maryvale Baseball Park, in front of a few fans, including me, a bunch of scouts and a ton of media.

Then the red jersey’s took to the field. And out of the third base dugout came large man wearing #17 who walked to the mound, quite confident. With his warm ups, he was a pitcher with great confidence.

The sudden realization of what was happening hit me like a smack of thunder. This was to showcase a starting pitcher. Shohei Ohtani, was right in front of me. ‘Smack’, the sound of the fastball hitting the back of the catcher’s glove ricocheted throughout the stands. Although the stands were quite empty, the anticipated attention back in Japan, we were told, was such that the practice game was shown on live television, despite the first pitch coming at 2A, Saturday, Tokyo time.

For the next 2 2/3rds innings, eight (8) strikeouts, two (2) runs and four (4) hits, one realized that Ohtani, who had been the highest priced import from Japan, looked good, with a massive slider that was awesome as he had batters leaning back thinking they were about to get hit. Bigger than one expected, Ohtani was the real deal and it was thrilling to see this reward before the regularly scheduled game.

Someone once said, you nearly always see something in baseball that you have never seen before.

Sure, it was a ‘B’ game featuring the Salt Lake City Bees and the Sky Sox, but this morning…this very special morning, one glimpsed a bit into the future which few were fortunate enough to witness in person.

The magic of spring.

Play Ball!
#watchingattanasio

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7 To Go ‘And Milwaukee Has Walked It Off. Santa Maria!’


http://atmlb.com/2xwjggH
An old voice came back with those words to change an entire season of hope…hope that was lost going into the 9th and hope that was ever more after the 10th. Matt Vasgersian was the Voice of Brewers Past.

In their fourth straight extra inning game, of which they had lost all of the previous three, Ryan Braun smacked a double and Travis Shaw hit the game winning, walk-off home run, creating a world of Brewer fans shocked with delight, bringing back dreams of ’82. Always dreams of ’82.

So, with 7 games to go in the regular Major League Baseball season, here are the odds of the teams making it into the playoffs:

American League

Boston Red Sox 100%
New York Yankees 100%
Cleveland Indians 100%
Houston Astros 100%
Minnesota Twins 90%
Los Angeles Angels 4.2%
Texas Ranger 3.8%
Kansas City Royals 1.1%
Tampa Bay Rays 0.5%
Seattle Mariners 0.3%

National League

Los Angeles Dodgers 100%
Washington Nationals 100%
Arizona Diamondbacks 100%
Chicago Cubs 99.2%
Colorado Rockies 61.7%
St. Louis Cardinals 27.9%
Milwaukee Brewers 11.2%

Of the National League teams that are not in guaranteed to be in the playoffs, only the Milwaukee Brewers have a winning record on the road. The Card nor the Rockies do. And that is important because the Brewers finish a three game series with St. Louis on the road next weekend. The Cardinals still have to play the Pirates on the road today in Pittsburgh. The Rockies have only one game on the road and that is also today in San Diego.

The Cardinals close their final seven games at home beginning on Monday with the Cubs and Brewers. The Rockies have at home, six more games against the Marlins and Dodgers.

The next eight days of baseball are going to be full of ups and downs. And as Craig Counsell stated, ‘There are always ups and downs and they will continue to happen this next week.’ The key is to win the game today.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

14 To Go


There are two weeks to go from today. And there are 14 games to be played. Between now and then, we will find out who can pitch in the clutch; who can hit in the clutch; who can throw in the clutch and who can pop a clutch to get their car started when the battery is dead.

Right now we know that in the American League, the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros will be in the big dance with a 100% guarantee. In the National League, the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will join them, also with a 100% guarantee.

To join them, here are the odds:

    AL

New York Yankees 99.9%
Minnesota Twins 68.9%
Los Angeles Angels 20.6%
Seattle Mariners 4.9%
Kansas City Royals 2.6%
Texas Rangers 1.7%

    NL

Colorado Rockies 83.8%
Chicago Cubs 82.5%
Milwaukee Brewers 20.1%
St. Louis Cardinals 13.6%

What is remarkable about this season, and for that matter, the real essence of baseball is how ‘hope’ becomes realized. For instance look at the Minnesota Twins. Last season they were blown out of any chance of having a good season due to an unbelievably bad April. This season, they are going to make it into the playoffs unless they have a total collapse.

Then look at the Milwaukee Brewers. They have come out of a lifelong coma, a hiatus from obscurity if you will, waking up only a few times in their history. And this season with a skinny kid who looks like a college freshman leading the league in wins; a catcher who is on his third chance in his career to hit it big and is; a first baseman from Korea; a second baseman from the Mets; a 2nd year shortstop who is brilliant; a third baseman from Boston; a right fielder from Santana Domingo; a center fielder…who is the center fielder? And the pro’s pro in left, along with arguably one of the strongest and strangest bullpens in baseball, led by a kid who throws the ball through a door and made the All Star team in his second year. Oh, then there is the home town kid who is managing all of this, along with his college coach and a GM who is younger then the young coach. Got that. This is the miracle of a season. This is why baseball is the game of games. This is why you fall in love with it as a kid and become more attached to it as life goes on.

Can they make it into the playoffs?

That brings us back to that magic word…hope.

The Pigsville Nine is making us all proud this season. Oh, an alum is managing the Twinkies, and another is managing the Royals. Their old shortstop is up in Seattle. Their HR leader in the NL last season is with the Yankees, we think. Their former second string catcher is the backstop for the Angels, and there have been a rafter full of the Crew passing through the Rangers clubhouse. There’s one in Denver and hopefully none with the Northsiders nor the Redbirds.

OK #watchingattansio⚾️

Thanks for bringing hope back to us for so long this season.

Play ball!

20 To Go


Now it is getting serious. During the past two weeks there has been some separation.

Here are the odds on the teams in contention making the playoffs:

    American League

Houston Astros 100.0%
Cleveland Indians 100.0%
Boston Red Sox 100.0%
New York Yankees 87.8%
Minnesota Twins 51.5%
Los Angeles Angels 20.5%
Texas Rangers 9.9%
Seattle Mariners 8.1%
Kansas City Royals 7.5%
Baltimore Orioles 5.9%
Tampa Bay Rays 3.3%

    National League

LA Dodgers 100.0%
Washington Nats 100.0%
Arizona D’Backs 99.8%
Chicago Cubs 89.3%
Colorado Rockies 76.8%
St. Louis Cardinals 11.4%
Milwaukee Brewers 7.2%
Miami Marlins 0.1%

The Central Divisions in MLB have taken a big turn in the past two weeks. In the American League, Cleveland, with a remarkable 17 game winning streak through Saturday, broke out of a close situation and now has a 100% chance of making the playoffs. The Yankees and Twins appear to be the two other teams that will make the wild card. In the National League, the D’Back’s have virtually secured a spot in the playoffs. And while it appears the Rockies at this point are the favorite for the final spot, the Cards and Brewers are technically still in the hunt. And the reason is that the Brewers still play the Cubs 5 more games and the Cards in a season final three game series. And, the Cards still have seven games against the Cubs plus that final 3 games series against the Brewers.

If, and that is a huge word, the Cards and Brewers sweep the Cubs, the last series of the season will be one for the ages.

What is the worst team to make the playoffs?

There is little question that the Los Angeles Dodgers are one awful, painstaking mental drop, losing 16 out of the past 17 games. They are losing to everybody as the Brewers began the slide and the D’Backs and Rockies continued the slide. Can this team regroup mentally? Or will that spook of a thought, (are we good enough to do this?), sneak into their brains. Frankly, it does not appear as though they have either the pitching or the hitting to go far in the playoffs.

Now there are only 20 to go. How will you team fare?

#watchingattanasio⚾️

For Milwaukee Brewers game-by-game for the entire season, go to:https://www.facebook.com/Overtheshouldermlb/

32 To Go


Milwaukee, St. Louis, Arizona, Colorado and Miami are battling for two playoff spots in the National League.
New York Yankees, Minnesota, Kansas City, Seattle, Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are slugging it out for two playoff spots in the American League. Thus, 17 teams are in the race for the World Series Championship in 2017.

Bud Selig’s master plan to get more cities involved in the excitement of September is working, with over half the teams still in the hunt with less then 20% of the season remaining.

In the next 32 games, which one of all of these teams will win 21+ games, and will be able to reach the big dance in The Show?

The Yankees, with the best record among all of these chasing teams has a 94.4% chance of making it into the playoffs.
The Twins have a 28.7% of making it…from the outhouse to the penthouse in one season.
The Royals have an 18.7% chance.
The Mariners have an 18.2% chance of making it.
While the Angeles have a 17.1% chance.
The Rangers have a 14.4% chance of finishing in the play offs.

The Marlins have an 11.0% chance in the National League.
The Cardinals have a 25.2% chance.
The Brewers, as inconceivable as it seems, has a 14.7% chance of making it into the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks have an 89.4% chance of getting back into the playoffs.
While the odds of the Rockies making it is 70.4% chance.

As for the Brewers, they play these teams that are in the hund:the Dodgers (1), Cardinals (5), Nationals (4), Cubs (7) and Marlins (3) in the remaining 32. That is 20 out of 32.

It could be a bumpy ride. Then again, miracles do happen.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Rarified Air


Founded in 1969 as something called a Pilot in the American League West, the Milwaukee Brewers in their 49 year history, had their first winning record ten years later in 1978 when they finished with a 93-69 record. Bambi’s bombers had arrived and they were led by Mike Caldwell on the mound. In 1979, they improved to 95-66 with Paul Molitor and they still had not reached First Place in the American League East. The next season they slipped a bit and the Buck Rodgers/George Hamburger managed team was led by Robin Yount. But then, in the 1981 season, in a Strike-shortened season, they finished first in the American League East, with Robin Yount leading the team into their very first League Division Series where they lost, 3 games to 2. Rodgers was again the manager. Then in 1982, led by Robin Yount after a rough start as Rodgers was fired after a 23-24 start and replaced by Harvey Kuenn, Harvey’s Wallbangers brought the American league Championship to Milwaukee for the very first time as they pulled off a miracle victory over the California Angeles in the LDS 3-2 as heroes forever were born, Mark Brouhard & Cecil Copper. In 1983 they slipped a bit, finishing 5th but still had a winning record (87-75) in Harvey’s last season as Robin was again the star player and for the first time in history drew 2.397,131 fans into Milwaukee County Stadium.

The Yount-led Brewers would have one more winning season, 1987, a remarkable year as Teddy Higuera led the team with a 91-71 record, but could only finished 3rd under Tom Trebelhorn. They had one more winning season in 1988 (87-75) as again Teddy led the way.

The next decade brought only two winning seasons, in 1991 when they went 83-79, finishing 4th led by Paul Molitor and the last season with Tom Trebelhorn at the helm; 1992 the Crew finished 2nd in the American league East led by Bill Wegman and managed by Phil ‘Scrape Iron’ Garner. That would be the last winning season until the next Century. They would have to leave their home of County Stadium and their league, the American, which is all the Milwaukee Brewers had ever known, dating back to 1901. Guys like Jeff Cirillo, Jeff D’Amico, Ron Belliard, José Hernández, Scott Podsednik and Geoff Jenkins would never see the top end of the standings as Davey Lopes and Jerry Royster joined Joe Schultz, Dave Bristol, Del Crandall, Alex Grammas and Rene Lachemann as the losing record skippers during 28 years as bottom feeders.

Then in 2007, led by Corey Hart and managed by Ned Yost, they finally had a winning record, 83-79. There was a slight change for ‘hope’. Then in 2008, the faint whispers of Robin, Pauly, Cecil, Simba, Rollie, Sutton, Vuck, Gantner, Stormin and Harvey came back louder as the Brew Crew were back, first under Yost and then by Dale Sveum for a few brilliant games and moments led by Ryan’s remarkable home run and a score of other fabulous plays, Prince pulling off the HR flop, CC Sabathia led the team to the LDS in the National League Central against the Philadelphia Phillies. They lost 3-1 but there was hope, now in the new confines of Miller Park.

Shockingly, they drifted into mediocrity once again under the inept leadership of Ken Macha as Braun and Fielder tried to lead the way.

It would take the next decade, in 2011, that they would reach the top once again with a 96-66 record as Ryan Braun was the star and Ron Roenicke was the manager. It is the largest winning percentage in team history, .593. The team would win again in 2012 with an 83-79 record and in 2014 with a marginal 82-80 record as Jonathon Lucroy led the Roenicke managed team.

Now, for the first time since 2014, on July 1st, the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place by 3 games over the World Champion, Chicago Cubs, with a record of 44-38. It is made up of players from absolutely everywhere, with the lowest payroll in all of MLB. And the enthusiasm of these players is contagious. The grand master is Craig Counsell, the manager, who uses the lineup card like a bingo player at the church hall. So many players play so many positions, you really can’t tell the players without a scorecard. And the starting lineup for any given day will amaze you. And ladies and gentlemen, this team is in First Place!

A team with a record of 3685 wins and 4040 losses, and a winning percentage of .477, being in First Place is a big thing.

Forty-Nine (49) years.

Three (3) First Place finishes.

This in fact is rarified air in the land of beer and brats.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Who We Picking?


We now have three weeks under our belts and some of the divisions are upside down. But what we see through the crystal ball is that the creme will always rise to the top.

American League

Eastern Division
Baltimore Orioles
They have an excellent manager and it is time for Buck to win a pennant, divisional, but a pennant none the less. The best third baseman in the American League, plus JJ and one of the three best outfielders in the AL today in Jones, make this the team to beat in the East.

Central Division
Cleveland Indians
They have an excellent manager and based off of last year’s performance, they are hungry and talented, plus great starting pitching. Oh ya, they have a sensational second baseman.

Western Division
Texas Rangers
They have a battery of All-Stars and Vu. If they can find solid relief, they could win it all.

Wild Cards
Detroit Tigers
While they lead the league in day games in the first two weeks, their pitching has been solid and they have Miggy.

Chicago White Sox
For four years, I have suggested this is the team to watch. Now, without their star pitcher, they have a chance to succeed.

What’s the matter with the rest?
Tampa Bay just doesn’t have the pitching.
New York Yankees have tradition, an excellent manager and a couple of dopes for owners.
Boston lost their soul to retirement.
Toronto needs a change in managers. Their team is not performing up to their high level of competency.
Minnesota is breathing rarified air. That bubble will burst but be much better than last season.
Kansas City is wandering in a wilderness of ‘what happened?’ with a lack of pitching and timely hitting.
Houston was a flash in the pan. Too many trades with Milwaukee will do that to a team.
Oakland has become the biggest thing in the East Bay and for good reason. They have an exciting team that can win if they have Khris in left. He has no arm.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will never win with Socscia. He has a penchant for making everyone mad. No pitching. But they have the star-of-stars on their team in center. Hello, Mr. Trout.
Seattle is all talk and Cano. If the King dominates, they still need a lot of help.

National League

Eastern Division
Washington Nationals
They have an excellent old-school manager, a brilliant pitching staff and a guy in right, one of the three great outfielders in the National League.

Central Division
Chicago Cubs
They have an over-imaginative manager, and a batting line-up to die for. If you are an opposing pitcher, this is a nightmare to face. They can outhit everybody to win regardless how their pitching holds up this season. Unless they get complacent or suffer a batch full of injuries, they will be in the October Classic.

Western Division
Los Angeles Dodgers
In a division that all of a sudden got weak, they have Clayton and some guys who can hit.

Wild Cards
New York Mets
They are the talk of New York City…the belle of the ball…with a great pitching staff.

Colorado Rockies
The only problem this team has is that it plays in thin air. It has all the hitting in the world and a shockingly good relief corps to go along with it. Plus they have Cargo and the human vacuum cleaner at third.

What’s the matter with the rest?

Miami lost their star pitcher. Yet have one of the most exciting players in the game, Giancarlo Stanton, one of the three great outfielders in the NL today.
Atlanta is a couple of years away as they are rebuilding.
Philadelphia just doesn’t have the guns yet as they are rebuilding.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great manager nor the purse strings to finally make it happen. Now they are beginning to fall out of contention … early.
Cincinnati is yet in another rebuilding program. If they hang their hopes on Scooter to take them to the top, they are in for a shocking surprise.
Milwaukee is a AAA team, with a great young manager, a more than tight owner, a kid GM and one of the three great outfielders in the National League as Ryan Braun is the only All-Star on the team today.
St. Louis became blind to what a great team is all about. Too many star players walked away because they want more money. Yet they have the best catcher in baseball behind the plate.
Arizona loves to over perform with the craziest owner in the game today, outside of Miami. But pitching will do them in. But they have the best first baseman in the game today. Goldy gives the D’Backs hope. But not that much.
San Diego. Nope.
San Francisco has a great manager but has not figured out how to secure a starting pitcher to replace a fading group, a relief pitcher who can shut the other team down nor a left fielder of dominant abilities. Unless they fix this right now, they are on a long slide out of grace.

OK. How do you see it?

Play Ball!