By Steven Urena
MLB Round Up
Dodgers and Padres
This series reminded me of a much anticipated heavyweight fight. The seven games had it all – hype (definitely lived up to the hype!), big hits, great defensive plays, great pitching, bad pitching, mistakes were magnified, benches cleared, extra innings, and it all left us wanting more. There is no better rivalry in sports right now.
After seven games, the Padres lead the season series 4-3. Sorry Dodger fans, but that’s just the way the pickle squirts.
Speaking of heavyweight fights, the first seven games reminded me of Ali/Frazier I. Two great champions and both in their prime years. Smokin’ Joe Frazier won the first bout. Although Frazier won, was he the better fighter? Probably not, but he was hungry and simply wanted it more. The Padres are up 4-3. They are hungry and want it more.
The Padres played terrific defense, stole everything but Dave Roberts’ watch, executed the clutch hits, and their pitchers got the big outs. The Dodgers left a village on the base paths, played defense like a Little League team, and at times looked like they had no fight. Padres have the bragging rights right now.
How about “El Nino.” Fernando Tatis Jr. was hotter than a $2 pistol. Tatis hit two home runs off Kershaw, two off Bauer, and one off May. He’s special. Everyone knows it. Tatis is the greatest force to be reckoned with in the MLB–especially when he’s looking back at the catcher’s signs.
Before his first fight with Frazier, Muhammad Ali had a big layoff due to his failure to enlist in the army after he was drafted. Would Ali have beaten Frazier had he not lost time? The Dodgers have Cody Bellinger, Tony Gonsolin, Gavin Lux, Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol (most of the series), and Zach McKinstry on the IL. Would the Dodgers have won both series over the Padres with no one hurt? In both cases, it does not matter.
Muhammad Ali went on to win the next two fights. He won the trilogy and, in essence, got the last laugh. The Dodgers and Padres are on a collision course for the 2021 postseason.
I am looking forward to the next 12 battles between them. I would love to win the season series over the Padres. In the end, all that matters is who gets the last laugh (in October).
New York Yankees
I saw a fascinating stat last week. The Yankees had the worst record in the American League for the first time since April 4, 1998. I believe it was meant to be a “dis.” Well, in 1998, the Yankees went on to win the World Series. They got the last laugh.
I was, and still am, high on the Yankees. They are in a funk, but I do believe they will come out of it. In baseball, you play 162 games. They will find their grove. Unless the injury bug bites!
Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals, and Oakland A’s are off to a great start. All are in first place in their respective divisions except for the Giants. It’s a long season, and you gotta trust it, but who doesn’t enjoy a Cinderella story? Will the clock eventually strike midnight for these overachievers? They are definitely making things interesting.
Under the Gun
The New York Mets, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, and Minnesota Twins are going to start feeling the pressure. Sure, it’s early, but they had high hopes. Francisco Lindor is hitting .212 with one measly home run and three measly RBIs. The Astros seem to be heading in the right direction, but they have a ways to go. Juan Soto is hitting a very soft .300 (and is hurt), and their pitching has been subpar. The Twins are below .500 and did not think for a second in spring training that could happen.
Corbin Burnes and Jacob deGrom! I have not had the chance to watch either of them in action this season. I hope to catch their next start. Burnes has 49 strikeouts, and 0 walks allowed so far this season. This is a Greg Maddox-type stat. Simply incredible. deGrom is just blowing hitters away. He has 50 strikeouts in his first four starts. I’m not a mathematician, but that’s over 12 K’s a game. Is it too late to change my Cy Young vote?
Shane Bieber, Tyler Glasnow, Gerrit Cole, and Jack Flaherty, as expected, continue to impress. Danny Duffy, Anthony Sclafani, and Joe Musgrove are a few of the starters that came out of nowhere.
Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things. Trout is hitting .426 with six home runs and an OPS of 1.359. His teammate, Shohei Ohtani, is making headlines every day. He’s among the Major League leaders in home runs and is doing pretty well on the hill too.
I have a confession, and I am glad I did not post it. I was going to make the bold prediction that this year Ronald Acuna would be a bust. My faithful readers would have never let me hear the end of it. Good thing I went with my gut. He’s killing baseballs right now.
It looks like teams got smart and stopped challenging Yermin Mercedes. He’s been stuck at four home runs, but he’s still hitting .432 and is one tough out. Rhys Hoskins has six home runs the past seven days. Muy caliente! Especially since he’s on my fantasy team.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit three home runs last night. I’ll tell you this, he does not get cheated. He is swinging to do damage, just like his pops.
Major League Baseball games are 9-innings, not 7. A no-hitter, therefore, needs to be thrown in a 9-inning game. Pitchers take no-no’s into the 8th and 9th inning all the time. This would not be fair to those that lost their no-hitters or perfect games late. Sorry, MadBum!
The possible cities for expansion are Charlotte, North Carolina; Las Vegas, Nevada; Montreal; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Honestly, I am not sure what is best for baseball. Right off the bat, I would say West Coast team. I would love to see a team in Las Vegas. It’s a fun town. They already have football and hockey, and who wouldn’t want to watch their favorite team in Vegas?
You get drilled for looking back at the catcher’s signs. Tatis better be careful. He’s going to put a target on his back, literally. You learn in Little League that is a big no-no. I guess when you’ve been big league your whole life, you forget certain things.
It hurts watching Edwin Rios. He is in one helluva slump. Being average my whole life, I know what it’s like to be in a slump. The immortal Yogi Berra said, “Being in a slump is like a common cold. They last two weeks no matter what you do.” This is exactly why we NEEDED to sign Justin Turner. Rios can mash, but it’s Major League Baseball. Teams scout you and learn how to get you out. Some guys adjust, and some guys go home. Most of you are average too. Remember what it was like when you struggled before you rip into Rios.
You know who else is cold? The Dodgers. Orel Hershiser loves to comment that successful seasons consist of long hot streaks and short cold streaks. I hate watching bad baseball, but I also know the process is more important than the results. Every team wants a piece of the Dodgers. Let them get their shots in. All I care about is getting the last laugh.
The Urena Express appears every Wednesday at JoeTorosian.com
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