Can’t ANYBODY Hit the Ball?

Tonight, the LA Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers, two teams each occupying first place in their respective National League divisions, played a robust 12 innings of baseball, 12 innings that saw three runs scored while 42 batters struck out. Before this season, the record for most strikeouts by a team in an extra inning game stood at 26, set by the then California Angels 46 years ago on July 9, 1971 against the Oakland Athletics. It took Angels’ pitchers 20 innings to strike out 26 batters. In this day and age of the Rule of the Strikeout, that record has been tied twice in less than one month. On May 7, in an 18 inning game between the Boston Red Sox and the new york yankees, 26 new york batters


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struck out at the hand of Red Sox pitchers. Then last night, Dodgers’ pitchers struck out 26 Brewers’ batters. The May 7 game between the yankees and Red Sox also set a record for most combined strikeouts by both teams, 48, while last night’s Dodgers-Brewers game that lasted “only” 12 innings fell a few short at a total of 42, with Brewers’ pitcher striking out 16. That 42 strikeout total is the new National League record. At the rate Dodgers’ pitchers were striking out Brewers’ batters last night – 26 K’s in 12 innings – had the game gone that additional six innings, the Dodgers’ pitchers’ strikeout total would have reached 39.

Can’t anybody hit the ball? Continue reading

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The Best Pitcher in the Game?

Not quite one-third of the way through the 2017 major league baseball season, the LA Dodgers clearly have had the most dominant pitching in the National League. The Dodgers lead the NL in lowest ERA, 3.23, a full third of a run better than the surprising second-place Diamondbacks’, and NL batters have hit a league-lowest .232 against each of the two staffs. But, Dodgers’ pitchers have both struck out the most batters of any staff, 472, and allowed the fewest base on balls. They’ve allowed the fewest hits of any NL staff, the fewest home runs, and are tied for the most shutouts. They have the lowest WHIP in the league, 1.16, the highest strikeout-per-nine-innings rate, 9.48, and by far the best strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio, at 3.42.

Leading the way is perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, and no, I do not mean the obvious choice, Clayton Kershaw, but rather the guy whose 2017 numbers are mind-boggling.

Through June of last season, Kershaw was re-writing the record books when it came to control. Through June 20, he was 11-1 with a 1.57 ERA and in 105 innings pitched, he had

struck out 141 while walking an astounding total of seven batters. He was receiving constant adulation as he seemed to be setting standards for control perhaps never before seen, at least from a starting pitcher. But then came a back injury and the disabled list that derailed any chance of a career season. Continue reading

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Dodgers Key Starters Stepping Up But Toles Injury A Shock

With Kenta Maeda righting his ship with three straight solid performances including last night when he pitched into the ninth inning for the first time his major league career, with Julio Urias more impressive with each outing, with Alex Wood solidifying his starting spot, and with Hyun-Jin Ryu ready to return to the rotation this evening, the Dodgers’ starting staff is in fine shape without the always-injured and unreliable Rich Hill and with Brandon McCarthy also now on the disabled list.

Hill says he’s ready to return next week after somehow lasting through five innings and 68 pitches in his second rehab start. He was not really that sharp, though, walking three and hitting two batters. Will Dave Roberts just add him to the rotation, resuming that brief six-man staff he had going not long ago, or will one of the solid performers get screwed over to

appease Hill, the monumental $48 Million mistake? And what about McCarthy, who has pitched well above expectations so far this season? After a simulated game, he’s slated to return to the team next week. Depth of starting pitching is a luxury most teams seldom enjoy, and with the plethora of injuries that Dodgers’ starters have suffered over the past few seasons, the Dodgers are now, apparently, in an enviable position. But, Roberts needs to determine what is really the best for the team in determining who is in and who is out, and not base those decisions on who has a $48 Million contract (Hill, McCarthy, Scott Kazmir) and who is making $2.8 M (Wood) or $3 M plus incentives (Maeda). Continue reading

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It’s Raining Cody Bellinger RBIs in Los Angeles

Note: Today’s Dodgers-Padres game has been rained out

Following his late-April call-up to the Dodgers, Cody Bellinger began his major league career by going one-for-ten, with only an infield single over his first three major league games. Batting .100 and his continued presence in the bigs quickly fading, his next game, on April 28, saw Bellinger get two singles and score his first run. The next day, he showed off a glimpse of his power, hitting two solo home runs. And he hasn’t stopped since. Beginning with that April 28 game, Bellinger has gone 14-for-32, a .438 average, and over the intervening eight games through yesterday, he’s hit five home runs and driven in 14, including his second two-homer game Friday and capped off with his first grand slam yesterday against the Padres.

His 14 runs batted in over his first 11 major league games is the best ever for a member of the Dodgers since the rbi became an official stat in 1920. Playing against all comers,

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Bellinger has hit .367 against righties with ten rbi in 30 at bats, and .333 against lefties with four rbi in 12 at bats, though he is yet to homer against a lefty. When he and the Dodgers take the field this afternoon, Bellinger will have a chance to right the one stat that so far shows one weakness Continue reading

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Three Hours and Counting to the Kentucky Derby

With little more than three hours to the 143rd Run for the Roses, the Churchill Downs track could be sloppy and track bettors have produced a new favorite. Morning line favorite Classic Empire has dropped down with bettors, and at 4-1, No. 5 Always Dreaming is now the top choice. Irish War Cry has moved up considerably and is now the second favorite at 5-1, followed by McCraken at 7-1. Classic Empire has fallen to 8-1. My sentimental pick, Gormley, has fallen from 15-1 all the way to 21-1.

Morning showers may or may not end before Kentucky Derby post time, but as of now, the track is listed as in “Good” condition. Also, the Churchill Downs’ track is known for excellent drainage and rapid drying.

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Morning line favorites have won the Kentucky Derby in each of the past four years, Continue reading

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Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Morning Line Favorites

Today’s Kentucky Derby post position draw saw early favorites Classic Empire and Always Dreaming draw middle and inside spots respectively, and betting lines now have Classic Empire, number 14, the slight favorite at 4-1 over number five Always Dreaming at 5-1. They’re followed by number 15 McCracken and at the unlucky number 17 slot, Irish War Cry. Through the first 142 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, no number 17 horse has ever found hie or her way into the winner’s circle. Trainers Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen each have three horses in the field, Pletcher with Always Dreaming plus Tapwrit and Patch

There were two changes to the field finalized before the draw, both involving Pletcher horses. Malagacy will bypass Saturday’s race, but will be training for a run in the

Preakness, according to trainer Pletcher, and also withdrawing was Pletcher’s Battalion Runner. That move was made in response to the horse’s poor workout last Friday, a :48-2/5 four-furlong disappointment.

The two spots were filed, as anticipated, by Continue reading

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History of the Julep, Mint or Otherwise, Part Two

See Part One: “The Kentucky Derby Sine Quo Non: The Mint Julep
with the BEST Mint Julep recipe!

The Mint Julep today may be the official drink of Churchill Downs and of the Kentucky Derby, but the Julep itself has a long history as a consumable liquid, and its consumption was not always a pleasurable experience. Going back hundreds of years, as far back as the time of Rhazes (actually Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi) the leading scholar of the early Islamic world, the Julep was a medicinal concoction, actually a sugary liquid, in those days usually water containing macerated violets and sugar, into which medicine was added to makes its taste palatable.

Over the next several centuries, there are numerous historical references to the Julep, to the “jewlip” and to the “syrupe” concoction used by medical practitioners across the known world. In the mid to late 18th century, it was written that surgeons were then prescribing the “Musk Julep” and Juleps compounded with the likes of egg yolks, “Chymical Oil” and Wormweed” to their patients.

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But it was not too many years thereafter, in the 1790s, that references have been found to the preparation of Juleps prepared for their enjoyment, first called the “Cordial Julep”. In America, around this time references were also found to drinks made of rum, water and sugar, previously considered “Slings”, instead referenced as “Juleps”. In fact, the first such references to a tasty, alcoholic beverage called a Julep were to those made with rum. Note, however, that medicinal Juleps did sometimes contain alcohol as far back as in the 1600s. Continue reading

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Hill to Rehab Keeps McCarthy in Rotation; Bellinger Hot

After a 48-pitch simulated game, Rich Hill is now off to one or two rehabilitation starts, rather than re-joining the Dodgers’ starting rotation. The Dodgers still have that six-man rotation, with Brandon McCarthy getting yesterday’s start, with Hyun-Jin Ryu going today, and Clayton Kershaw tomorrow in what had been penciled in, as least according to ESPN, to be Hill’s return start in Los Angeles.

Manager Dave Roberts says the six-man starting staff will continue for several more days, but that the plan is to go back to five. That means Alex Wood’s exit to ether the pen or Oklahoma City, and the another demotion to be named. Kenta Maeda made a great move forward Friday to keep his spot, and with Kershaw, Urias and McCarthy likely

immoveable, the pressure is now again on Ryu to show that he belongs where he is. He goes today against Philadelphia and his slot would come up again next against San Diego, but Thursday’s off day could knock that out, as it would put the other starters at six days rest. Hard to imagine Kershaw to be happy with that. Of course, any rotation that includes Hill will be a man short ofter one or at most two Hill starts. Whoever is demoted to make room for him will only have a short wait to be brought back. Continue reading

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The Kentucky Derby Sine Quo Non: The Mint Julep, Part One

Today, the focus is on creating the perfect Mint Julep. Installment two will discuss the history of the drink.

Briefly, though, the Mint Julep has been considered the official drink of Churchill Downs and of the Kentucky Derby since 1938, and over the two-day event of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby each year, approximately 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the track. Never ones to miss a marketing opportunity, Churchill Downs has had an official Bourbon for its Mint Juleps, for 18 years Early Times, but since 2015, that was changed to Old Forester. The track also caters to the upper class who congregate during Derby days, selling an ultra-premium Mint Julep served in gold plated cups featuring silver straws, premium Bourbon and, yes, ice made from spring water brought in from the Bavarian Alps. The cost? A mere $1,000.00 per drink.

The Mint Julep is ostensibly a very simple drink to prepare, with its few ingredients and seemingly simple construction rules. Sure, you can dump some mint leaves into a glass, muddle a bit (heaven forbid you don’t muddle but instead leave it intact), add booze, ice and sugar, and voila’, a Mint Julep! Uh, no, not really. Ok that can pass in some places for a Mint Julep, like maybe in Montana or Minsk, but don’t you dare serve it to a Kentucky native or to a real Kentucky Derby fan. You may be wearing your “Mint Julep” home.

Search the web or bartending books and you’ll find that recipe, and many, many more, as to how to construct the perfect Mint Julep, and you’ll also find so many other Julep recipes – Brandy Juleps, Champagne Juleps, Rum Juleps, Gin Juleps, Southern Comfort Juleps, and a load of different Juleps named after their particular birthplace, such as the Jamestown Julep, the Georgia Julep, and yes, the Manila Hotel Julep that for some reason includes the addition of Barbados Rum.

Well, forget all that and remember this – the recipe for the best and most authentic Mint Julep this side of Churchill Downs: Continue reading

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