Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

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There is an exciting trend going on in Major League Baseball right now. As the previous Top 10’s thus far have clearly shown, there is an incredible rush of precocious talents at every position around the game right now. However, much of its full potential is often stifled by a matching level of phenomenal pitching as well. There is a golden age of pitching coming together currently, and attempting to pull out who is the best of the lot assures that more than one legitimate, front of the rotation, All-Star level talent will be missed.

When coming together with this countdown, the credentials of the collected group are as eye popping as their signature pitches are. There have been a total of nine Cy Young Awards issued to this group; nearly one per person. There is a league Most Valuable Player, a World Series/League Championship Series MVP and four players alone that will take home nearly $1 million per game this year.

The collected accolades of this group could go on and on, but just be certain: there are three currently active former Cy Young winners that could not even approach the honorable mention of this list, such is how intense the competition for being a true ‘ace’ is in the game today.

So let’s see how it plays out, the Top 10 starting pitchers in baseball today.

To review last year’s list, click here.

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10. Matt Harvey, Mets (Not Ranked in 2015)

2015: 13-8, 2.71 ERA, 188 K’s, 189.1 innings, 0 complete games, 0 shutouts, 1.01 WHIP

Last 2 Seasons*: 11-6, 2.50 ERA, 190 K’s, 184 innings, 0 complete games, 0 shutouts, 0.97 WHIP

The Dark Knight has officially returned. Throughout all of the headlines regarding his work rate, one thing Harvey proved beyond a shadow of doubt last year is that he is still among the elite power arms in the game. After missing the end of 2013 and all of 2014, Harvey reestablished himself atop the Mets’ rotation and it is of no lack of coincidence the Metropolitans conquered the National League as a result.

He wasted no time in returning to his previous form, despite having his innings on overview during the majority of the year. Harvey locked in during the month of August and pitched as well as he ever had, allowing one run over four starts, while running up 24 strikeouts while allowing only two walks. In the postseason, he flew past the 200 innings mark, still averaging a strikeout per playoff inning and going 2-0 overall, including a heroic eight inning effort that the bullpen ultimately lost after his exit in the decisive game of the World Series.

9. Dallas Keuchel, Astros (NR in ’15)

2015: 20-8, 2.48 ERA, 216 K’s, 232 innings, 3 complete games, 2 shutouts, 1.01 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 13-9, 3.33 ERA, 162 K’s, 195 innings, 3 complete games, 1 shutout, 1.20 WHIP

No player in baseball carried his 2014 breakout momentum further in 2015 than Keuchel did. Keuchel confirmed his place as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, as he guided the Astros back to the postseason and snagged the American League Cy Young award along the way. Keuchel led the AL in wins, innings pitched, shutouts and WHIP, while also finishing within the top five in strikeouts, ERA, complete games and winning percentage as well.

He is a precise pitcher in the classic left-handed way, beating opponents with a sharp mixture of movement on both a slider and sinker, while changing speeds expertly. Over the past two seasons, has won over 50% of his starts and gone the distance eight times. He affirmed his status as a frontline performer by pitching Houston into the postseason by going into Yankee Stadium and holding the home club to three hits over six innings, while running up seven strikeouts in the AL Wild Card game.

8. Chris Sale, White Sox (#3 in ’15)

2015: 13-11, 3.41 ERA, 274 K’s, 208.2 innings, 1 complete game, 0 shutouts, 1.08 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 12-10, 2.92 ERA, 236 K’s, 199 innings, 2 complete games, 0 shutouts, 1.04 WHIP

It can be argued that there is no more deceptively dominant of a pitcher in the game today. Sale continued to reaffirm his place as the top victim of circumstance (also known as the best pitcher on a bad team) in the game today. He is coming off a season where he bested his former career high in strikeouts by nearly 50, despite only making one more start than in the season where he set his previous high.

Sale’s ERA did rise by over a run and a half last season, partially due to being supported by the AL’s worst team defense, which allowed for an absurdly high .324 average against him on balls in play. The improvements that the White Sox made defensively around their infield should greatly assist in raising the results of Sale on the mound. Especially since he is a virtual lock to remain one of the most oft-unhittable pitchers in the game today.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

 

7. Madison Bumgarner, Giants (#6 in ’15)

2015: 18-9, 2.93 ERA, 234 K’s, 218 innings, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 1.00 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 16-9, 2.90 ERA, 217 K’s, 3 complete games, 1 shutout, 1.04 WHIP

On the heels of his super heroic 2014 postseason, expectations were fairly high for Bumgarner has he embarked on the follow up season. And while his remaining at that level was an impossible expectation to believe in, he did continue to ascend up the standings of MLB arms. He matched his 18-win level from the previous year while setting a new personal high in strikeouts for the fourth consecutive year. It was also the fourth straight season his winning percentage increase.

Bumgarner has found a production neighborhood he lives in and has essentially taken out a mortgage there. There is simply not a pitching leaderboard that he will not be a factor on. He’s a lock for 200 innings, 200 strikeouts, his FIP figure is always in the range of 3.00 or lower and he’ll go the distance nearly a handful of times as well. Add in the fact that he’s also going to hit in the range of .250 at the plate, pop five home runs and drive in around 10 runs, and he is the consummate all-around performer on the mound.

6. Felix Hernandez, Mariners (#2 in ’15)

2015: 18-9, 3.53 ERA, 191 K’s, 201.2 innings, 2 complete games, 2 shutouts, 1.18 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 15-8, 2.86 ERA, 218 K’s, 214 innings, 1 complete game, 1 shutout, 1.06 WHIP

Perhaps keeping the King this high is an overinvestment in the past. However, just as a strong season does not create complete stature, neither does one bad half. Hernandez had a morbidly bad second half by his own standards, where he had a drop in velocity, an increase in home runs surrendered and a drop in effectiveness. However this was preceded by a first half where he was his usual self, working to a 2.84 ERA, 11 wins and holding batters to a .214 average.

His second half was exacerbated by a horrible August, where he allowed a. 328 average, a 6.60 ERA and pitched a season low 30 innings. But in rehabbing the entire picture, he went 3-1 in September, dropped his ERA by 3.76 runs and won three out of his five starts, carrying his season wins total to 18. So while his numbers climbed, by keeping it in context, it is not a full fall off by the King, just more or less his crown slipping briefly.

 

5. Jake Arrieta, Cubs (NR in ’15)

2015: 22-6, 1.77 ERA, 236 K’s, 229 innings, 4 complete games, 3 shutouts, 0.86 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 12-5, 2.52 ERA, 154 K’s, 2 complete games, 1 shutout, 0.98 WHIP

Arrieta had a Koufax-level breakout season last year, pitching arguably one of the most dominant campaigns in baseball history. And it really shouldn’t come as a surprise because once you see Arrieta’s mixture of explosive release, power fastball and seasickening slider, it is not hard to understand why he so quickly injected himself not only into last summer’s Cy Young picture (a race which he won handily), but also has thrown himself firmly into the handful of best pitchers in baseball.

During his epic 2015, he led the National League in wins, compete games and shutouts, one of which came in the form of a no-hitter versus the LA Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball. This performance came amid his extraordinarily dominant second half, where he allowed four runs over the course of two months, while going 10-1 with a 0.75 ERA from August through October. The only question about Arrieta is if he can do it again (the spring thus far has indicated that to be resounding ‘yes’), if so he will continue to launch himself up this ranking towards the elite in all of the game, regardless of position.

4. David Price, Red Sox (#9 in ’15)

2015: 18-5, 2.45 ERA, 225 K’s, 220.1 innings, 3 complete games, 1 shutout, 1.07 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 14-8, 3.01 ERA, 216 K’s, 218 innings, 3 complete games, 0 shutouts, 1.08 WHIP

With the exception of Jake Arrieta, no pitcher in the game had a bigger impact on the pennant race last season than Price did. After being dealt from the Detroit Tigers to Toronto at the trade deadline, Price propelled the Jays up the standings. His August-September performance saw him win nine of his 11 Blue Jay starts, while only being credited with one loss. This win total matched his four month total in Detroit and saw him reach at least 18 victories for the third time in his career.

The cumulative effort of his year saw him be the runner-up for the AL Cy Young. He was also an All-Star for the fifth time and finished second in Fielding Independent Pitching a 2.78 (a figure that measures the impact that pitcher alone has at preventing baserunners). On the tail end of this performance, Price became the most sought after free agent available this winter and properly cashed in on the position—inking a $217 million pact in Boston, making him the highest paid pitcher in baseball history.

 

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3. Max Scherzer, Nationals (#5 in ’15)

2015: 14-12, 2.79 ERA, 276 K’s, 228.2 innings, 4 complete games, 3 shutouts, 0.91 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 18-7, 2.94 ERA, 256 K’s, 221 innings, 2 complete games, 1 shutout, 1.02 WHIP

There are days when there simply is not a more dominant pitcher alive than Max Scherzer. And when those days happen, it is an event of historical proportions. His 2015 was an eye-popping blend of regular authority, one where 11 times he reached double-digits in strikeouts, threw a perfect game in June, then followed it with just a plain old no-hitter in his season finale in October.

Despite the pothole his season hit late in 2015 (a 0-3, 6.43 ERA August), Scherzer has continued to raise the level of his overwhelming outcomes annually. His season-by-season strikeout totals have risen from 231 to 240 to 252 to 276 annually since 2012. Only once in the last five years has he won less than 15 games in a season as well. No wonder he has won 69 games across two different leagues over the past three years.

2. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (#8 in ’15)

2015: 19-3, 1.66 ERA, 200 K’s, 222.2 innings, 1 complete game, 0 shutouts, 0.844 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 17-5, 2.30 ERA, 185 K’s, 201 innings, 1 complete game, 0 shutouts, 1.02 WHIP

Greinke has one of the most efficiently, dominant seasons in recent history last year. He posted the lowest full season ERA in 20 years, when Greg Maddux turned in a 1.56 in 1994. Greinke essentially pulled the power plug on all competition, as the highest full month ERA he posted was a 2.04 number in August. Along the way, he had two months where he allowed less than five earned runs and posted a 13-1 record from July 4th through October 3rd. In the same time frame, he pitched at least 7 innings in all but three starts, getting the decision in all but two.

It has just been in recent years where Greinke’s startling regular high level output has truly been understood for how eye popping it is. He has reached double-digits in wins since 2008. Only twice along that time has he failed to pitch 200 innings or make 30 starts. He has now lead each league in ERA once, with a 2.16 ERA in 2009 and last year’s 1.66. He is both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger recipient as well. The $206 million that the Diamondbacks gave him in December was a very sound investment.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (#1 in ’15)

2015: 16-7, 2.13 ERA, 301 K’s, 232.2 innings, 4 complete games, 3 shutouts, 0.88 WHIP

Last 3 Years: 18-6, 1.92 ERA, 257 K’s, 232.2 innings, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 0.88 WHIP

2015 was the worst season that Kershaw has produced in his past three.

And now that we have that out of the way, it was also a year where he finished third in the NL Cy Young race (his lowest finish since 2010), struck out 301 batters (the most in Majors since Randy Johnson in 2002) and also finished in the top three in innings pitched, ERA, WHIP, win percentage and complete games. However, by his otherworldly standards, this was a downturn in his overall production.

Thus is the life when you are the best pitcher of your generation: a season that would qualify as a career year for most looks like a slight bump along your unflinchingly dominant way. Entering his age 28 season, Kershaw carries three Cy Young Awards, the 2014 NL MVP, 114 wins, five career All-Star selections, a no-hitter and an all-time MLB record for most consecutive years leading the MLB in ERA, a four year streak broken last year—when he finished third instead.

His sustained dominance has placed him far and away from the rest of the pack atop the mound now. Kershaw cannot be fairly compared next to his contemporaries; he’s simply better placed next to where those already in Cooperstown stood at the same age.

 

Just A Bit Outside: Jacob deGrom, Mets; Gerrit Cole, Pirates; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Sonny Gray, A’s.

It has become an annual tradition and one of the hottest events of the Midwest fall: Mizzou Homecoming weekend. It is time again for the fall’s biggest event in the heart of Missouri, and here are the steps to take to stay where the action is.

Here is all the info you need to make sure that if you say “maybe next year” this time. So, as always, whether you’re one year removed or 10, it’s time to get back to where you once belonged with the next chapter in the blowout that is Black Alumni Homecoming Weekend.

****FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9th****

MU Greek Alumni Happy Hour—Carnahan Quad, between law library & Business School (4:00 – 7:00)

For all of our Greeks that are coming back, meet at the heart of campus for a happy hour sponsored by the Department of Greek Life. Come mingle with the NPHC, IFC and PHA family of the past.

Off The Highway Cool Out Happy Hour—Trops on the Southside (5:00)

3805 South Providence, 65203

It’s one of those fixes you can’t quite get anywhere else than when you touchdown back in CoMO, so why wait to scratch it? Meet up with everybody as they come in at Tropical Liquors off South Providence. Silver Bullet, Rum Runner, Cherry Bomb, all of em? Kick it off with the comeback that keeps kickin.

Sure, there’s one in STL now, but nobody does it better than the originators.

NPHC Homecoming ‘Clash Of The Cliques’ Stroll Off—Jesse Auditorium (doors open at 7:30)

Come check out the show put on by today’s Mizzou NPHC chapters. A $2,400 prize is on the line and 9 organizations will be represented on the stage.

Ticket info: $15 at the door, $12 for students
Tickets on sale through the MSA/GPC Box Office

Alumni Night Party—Tonic Nightclub (10:00 – 1:00)

122 S. 9th Street, 65201

Last year got crazy, we might as well do it again. Come over to the heart of downtown CoMO to keep the Friday night moving as it should. With two full bars and plenty of seating arrangements, step upstairs and get into the night.

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****SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10th****

THE ALUMNI TAILGATE V—Kickoff 8:00am, Corner of College & Stadium

Corner of Stadium & College, outside of the Hampton Inn Suites Columbia

1225 Fellows Pl. Columbia, MO 65201

It has become the centerpiece of the Alumni weekend, and we’re getting it started early. Meet at the parking lot on the corner of College & Stadium on the University side (across the street, up the hill and in the lot from where we were last year) for the staple event of the Black Alumni Homecoming experience, the All-Day, All-Out tailgate.

With a late kickoff this year, this is ultimate pre-party. Burgers, brats, pulled turkey and chicken and much more will be on the menu this year. Show up at the right time and never know what may bless your plate. As always, this is a community event, so all offerings are both accepted and encouraged.

Game Time: Missouri Tigers vs. Florida Gators, 6:30 pm

Faurot Field (If you can’t find it, you’re in no shape to be driving)

The Tigers will take to the field to face SEC opponent, the Florida Gators. Tickets are available through the Mizzou box office, Stubhub and other resale sites. The tailgate location is a short walk to the main entrance of Faurot.

The Night Scene Part II: Noir Mizzou 2015, A Suitable Affair

Done are the days of making something of the last night, and a new Alumni-sponsored experience awaits. Dress the part, take the part and discover the experience of Noir Mizzou. Meaning: dress to the 9’s to join a room full of 10’s.

This year’s party will once again be held at a secret venue and will carry the theme of a 1920’s Prohibition-era soiree. Jack Daniels will be hosting the 21+ event, which will be limited to  150 guests whom will be notified of location on the night of the event.

Currently, the event is sold out, but the wait list is open. Follow on Twitter for more information at Noirmizzou.com

****Other Business****

DON’T GIVE UP ON HOTEL ROOMS! Many rooms will be vacated over the next few weeks, and can be acquired by joining Columbia-area hotel wait lists, Hotwire, Priceline, Orbitz, etc.

For more info as it develops, any late changes, additions or to get on-site info, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For other info, follow @B_Wash5, @FranchICE06, @IDOKICKS, @GatorBell and @NoirMizzou.

I’d guess since that first piece back on Tumblr in 2010, I’ve written about 900 or so articles, maybe more. But I notice that next post number up for me was a nice round, #400, I wanted to take a chance to look back, because I so rarely do (or am sentimental enough to bother with it).

I started writing because I never really stopped.

For as long as I can remember, I have found ways to maximize my experiences with sports. From creating franchise modes on Madden was will back on Sega and didn’t even know how to yet themselves, all the way up to ranking the best ballplayers on my block growing up (an exercise that started a healthy amount of fights back in the summer on of ’97), I have always had the urge to expand on my love of sport.

But I really got into it when I simply was not into anything else. I didn’t go to Journalism School in college because I wanted to keep my enjoyment of sports “pure”. I was a lead sports writer for my High School newspaper, and did well with it my junior and senior years, but I never looked at it as the future. I was against taking my first love and hobby, and tarnish it by making it my work. Consequently, I never found anything else that impacted me in the slightest. I enjoyed college, took plenty of courses that interested me, but none that ever moved me in the way that a passion would. Not so ironically, I hadn’t a clue as to what I truly wanted to do when college ended. Get a “job” I supposed. So, after I got said “job”, it should be no surprise that I quickly returned back to my passion, initially in my free time, but then also in-between (and probably during) my work as well. Just to distract myself from the monotony of what the morbidly repetitive job that was based on “squeezing blood from a turnip”.

I started this up because I was tired of doing everything else. I’d started online writing in 2009 casually. Despite not being a part of the J-School at Mizzou, I’d taken a writing intensive course schedule in route to my Sociology degree and because it was far easier for me to take a page to explain my answer than filling in a bubble on Scantron. I had a conversation with a friend in the middle of one of the now millions of offhand conversations I’ve had about some sports topic, and in the practiced way that only one of your closest friends can do he said, on no uncertain terms, that I was “really wasting myself by not taking sports more seriously”. The writing I’d done to that point was just an offshoot on ideas about whatever I’d been thinking about at the time. Another friend of mine, who is now a screenwriter and producer, told me that I needed to go after what I’m passionate about, because writing with a goal that you have an expertise in will come off much better.

I had to back up and think about what that meant, and what it didn’t. It basically was a push to follow my passion, which I wasn’t so sure that I even had at the time. So I brought together the writing and years of sports that I had at the time since then, and decided to start up a blog. My first blog was a simple one on Blogger, and I just published my notes on the 2010 NFL Draft. It went well enough, the few people that read it liked it, and then I followed up with some MLB All-Star Game picks, which got even better reviews.

I started Cheap.Seats.Please and wrote my first post here on May 10 of 2010, on the plight of JaMarcus Russell. And for the next year or so, I poured my efforts into this. I quit bleeding out of turnips business on May 30 and became a “blogger”. And for the next year, that’s what I did. I wrote and researched daily everything I could to make up for the time I did not spend learning in college and how to get exposure. Along the way, I began to meet actual writers along the way, how to get into the door with editors and how to use social media as a free and regular advertisement. I have combined these factors, and continued to work at them ceaselessly.

Now, just a bit after three years into it, I’ve continued to be encouraged by the progress that has been created. Midway through 2011, I was offered a regional site to write St. Louis sports news, which made me learn more about beat writing over commentary. Shortly after that, I was extended an opportunity to write as a contributor on a national online magazine, which gave me my first experience for writing for an editor in nearly 10 years. Then a longtime goal of contributing to my fraternity’s quarterly publication found me when a mentor of mine returned to the magazine as editor. Shortly thereafter, I was bumped up to lead writer and editor for the sports section of magazine, an experience which first introduced me to interviewing and transcribing conversations, as well as story profiling.

I took the long way to learning the craft, but while the majority of my work is still directly online, I have crossed the bridge for blogger to writer, and now it is all about continuing to take it to new levels. In the last year, I’ve found some amazing platforms to continue to be challenged and showcase my work. The Sports Fan Journal has been a great experience, with an amazing staff of similar types of writers to me. I70 Baseball is a great chance to analyze what I know best: the St. Louis Cardinals and the baseball culture within the city.

The best thing I’ve learned to do is to take advice as well as inspiration. If you can keep both of those, and have your own solid levels of knowledge via work ethic, humility and patience, anything can be done. Along the way, many people have provided these elements, from numerous family and friends, to the guidance of Jonathan Hicks, Maurice Drummond, Michael Tillery, Chris Broussard, Kali Wilder, Jamilah Lemieux, Derrick Goold, and Bryan Burwell. To the peer pushes form Eddie Maisonet, Kenny Masenda, Mark Trible, Justin Tinsley, Dillon Friday, Joe Vozelli, Tara Wellman and Joe Boland. To the exposure opportunities from Daniel Shoptaw, Bill Ivie, Lindsay Weber, Jason Clinkscales, EJ Christian, Jason Lamontogue and Dan Danese. I’ve had a lot of help getting here, and I’m only in the starting blocks still.

I look back at as an offshoot of what do now time to time, to remind me to not take myself so serious, because at the end of it, I really love what I’m starting to do. I’m far from rich, but man do I enjoy what I do. I’ve been humbled before by being asked for advice on writing, blogging and how to pursue it. I’ll never say any more than what I know, and that’s to engulf yourself in what you love for and the results will show.

Whether I end up at the top of some great publication I can’t even estimate now, on radio network doing what I have done here 400 times now over the air, become an author or professor, or if I simply just do this for years on top of years, I’d guess I’ll never stop, because what’s life without passion? After a little while of denying mine, I’ve finally set out after it, and I wouldn’t have life any other way.

For the regular course of biz, ball and life, follow me on Twitter @CheapSeatFan

Mizzou Alumni Homecoming Weekend 101: Back to Basics

Posted: September 25, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Misc.
Tags: , , ,

 

Last year was about selling it; this year is about affirming it. And make no doubt about it, Mizzou Homecoming is legit as it gets now. Last year we rang in the 100th in a major way, as anybody that made their way over to the corner of College and Stadium knows. Now it’s time for 101, and to find a way to take it up another notch.

The point was made last year: you make it to Homecoming early and you’re still running behind in the kickin it. From as early as Thursday night, it’s going down. It’s college the way it was meant to be: sans all those annoying books and telephone support jobs. It is pure partying, survival to party again and then the push to make it to home for work….on Tuesday. That’s HC at both its finest and most aspirin and Gatorade infused.

It’s time again to bring the mainstays back and push the folks on the fence off it towards CoMO. Last year, we had at rough count, about 100 folks come out throughout Friday night and all of Saturday for the official, unofficial Homecoming movement. For the old vets coming back, you already know what it’s going to be (and there’s a refresher below for our more mileage n’ alcohol run down minds). For our younger and first time Alums, this is what you need to be checking for.

 

****FRIDAY****

Straight off the Highway, Into the Fryer – WE AT TROPS (Downtown, 5-8): You know what this is, so get your first one in early. I know the one on the south is more popular, but we’re at the one downtown so the night can be close for the night’s events….

Checking out the scene – Downtown Pub Crawl (8 – until): A lot has changed in CoMO, but one good thing is there’s never been more places to get it in at. We’re going to be getting space at a few of the new and old spots downtown, and make some short appearances in all of em. Catch up and keep up if you can.

Late Night Shift – Eats: I don’t care if it’s Pickleman’s, Gumby’s or La Siesta, nourishment is on deck by then. We’re taking over a late night eats spot (you can catch me in the almighty El Rancho), and seeing how and where the night ends up (afterset is strong possibility, but the set isn’t getting burned up this early).

****SATURDAY****

DAY TRIPPER PART II – All-Day Tailgate (9 AM until the Coals go out, Corner of College and Stadium): The school may be new to the SEC, but the tailgate game been on its level (and way before the team decides if they want to be too).

We out there, early, and if you know what’s best for you, you’ll be right behind us. The ribs, fish, wings and brisket coming out first, with the hot dogs, brats and chips next, so meet the feasting horn first, and let the beers and vibe carry the rest of the way. There’s a new twist coming out this year, in pure throwback style: a daytime Battle of the Punches running all-day as well.

So if you’re in town already, be up and early. If you’re pulling into town on Saturday, head straight to the gate. We’re taking over the whole corner, right in front of the Hampton on the edge of campus. But, since this is an Alumni gathering, and I know for a fact that our college years are treating some of well, don’t be to put in! All contributions are accepted, and needed, in order to max out the event.

Night Trip – The Vault (9:00 to 1:30): Last year, the surprise of the weekend was the kamikaze move of the weekend. The Vault, underneath the old Tiger Hotel on 8th Street, turned up so much, it damn near stole the spotlight of HC weekend, so much so we gotta take the party back there to end this one right. Wind the weekend down in spot you can catch a table with your folks, get a dance if you got the legs for it or even hold the bar down if somehow you still have it in you. This time around, we’ll turn the music up, without having our shoes stuck to the floor in the process.

The Vault is UNDERNEATH the Tiger Hotel, on 8th Street downtown.

 

So there it is, Homecoming 101. We got up for 100 like never before, so why fall off the next time around? If you’ve got a hotel, I guarantee you won’t want to see much of it. If you don’t have one, you won’t need one. If you’ve got questions about what to expect, ask somebody who did it and you’ll know right away that college was great, but the after party is just as good.

If you’ve got any questions, follow @CheapSeatFan, @FranchICE06, @DaRealMattOates, @Tweet_on_Deez, @IDOKICKS @Gator_Bell and @B_Wash5 for the immediate word. And if you’re going to be there, make it known below in the comments. Get the movement going early!

 

For game tickets vs. Kentucky, check out Stubhub here: http://www.stubhub.com/search/doSearch?searchStr=Faurot+Field+Memorial+Stadium&pageNumber=1&resultsPerPage=50&searchMode=event&start=0&rows=50&geo_exp=1

For a hotel info, check back regularly with Priceline and Hotwire. Rooms open up even as late as the week of Homecoming (I landed one for $77 two days before last year).

Send contributions for the Alumni Tailgate via Paypal to Whitener.Matt@gmail.com

Hello all. It’s the busy season for me around these parts. Between keeping up with the end of the first half of baseball, all of the All-Star events, trade moves and the game itself, I haven’t been able to get everything in here as quick as I’ve put it out. But have no fear, I haven’t left you in the dust. Here’s a few previews and paths to my latest stuff. Afterwards hang around and I’ll let you know what will be coming out overall, as well as some new joints debuting exclusively here in the Cheap Seats.

But first, the view from The Cheap Seats at The Sports Fan Journal:

“Live Or Let Die: The Plight of the Phillies”

It’s the end of the first half of baseball season, but it’s starting to seem like both a whole lot more and a whole lot less all at once in Philadelphia. See, the Phillies have been bad; no other way to say it. By the lofty standards of the most consistent club in baseball over the last half-decade has set, it’s been a loud fall back to Earth. One that has seemingly come out of nowhere, but by looking a bit closer, the Phillies have been prone for this to happen.

Answers haven’t been easy to come by for Cliff Lee and the Phillies. Let me see what I can do help figure this out…

More than any other team in the game, the Phillies have lived in the moment the last few years. They smelled blood before they won their first World Series in over 25 years back in 2008, and ever since their return to the Series and subsequent defeat a year later, they’ve been out for it with every move they’ve made. In 2010 and ’11, they added the best pitcher in the world at the time, Roy Halladay, and the twice acquired ex-Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, locked up Ryan Howard to the biggest deal in the history of his position, and tacked on the brightest bricks on a crumbling Houston Astros club in Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. All of these were big-money, win-now moves, and the results were in line with what should have been: They dominated seasons on end and won, a lot. All of that adds up to being on the right track, right? Well, you would think so …

But then the reality of this method kicked in full-speed this season, and it became abundantly clear: There was a lot less time left for the Phils than assumed coming into the year….

For the rest of this, including whether the Phils should roll the dice or cash in what’s left, head to TSFJ here: http://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/columns/live-or-let-die-the-plight-of-phillies/

“The All-Time, Dead or Alive Home Run Derby”

Major League Baseball’s All-Star week is upon us again, and with it comes the greatest skill exhibition in pro sports as well, the Home Run Derby. The annual gathering of each league’s best at attacking the boundaries set by outfield walls displays some of the most awe-inspiring moments of the season. In a few hours, Robinson Cano will look to keep Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista and Price Fielder, among others, off his heels as he looks to defend his title from last summer. While that’s no group to sneeze at, it could get a whole deeper if a few more contestants were made available.

If you could send any player ever to the Home Run Derby, would you take either of these guys? Keep digging to see my squad.

Now it may take a trip that only a DeLorean and Michael J. Fox can deliver to make it happen, but consider what a Home Run Derby would look like with EVERYBODY that ever made the long ball his business? Who would you want to see take their hacks against each other? More than that, who would be the last man standing? Today, we’re taking our hacks at settling at least half of that debate by proposing a few of the many candidates that would make the Ultimate, All-Time Home Run Derby an event to remember.

So what we did here today is got the debate started early, with some picks from myself, followed by the rest of the good folks here at TSFJ. Take a look at the case for each, and cast a vote on who’s got the best chance of taking the all-time crown below. And if you don’t see the best horse for the race, submit your own candidate for the crown. There’s no shortage of candidates qualified for the title…

To see who I picked as my choices for my dream Derby, as well as the rest of the staff over at TSFJ, follow this link here: http://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/sports/baseball/the-all-time-dead-or-alive-home-run-derby/

 

As for what’s to come? Today at St. Louis Sports 360, I’m covering who are the best options for the Cardinals make a trade deadline splash with. And towards the end of the week, I’ll be dropping my picks for first half MLB Awards, with a few shockers that show the baseball landscape is moving towards a brand new day about 100 mph…

As for what will be truly new in the OG Cheap Seats here, it’s time to make my long gone return to the NBA soon, and clear the air on what’s kept me away and what’s been the same and what’s looking new. Also, it’s about time to bring out this year’s summer history project. One that’s sure to spike debate in a brand new direction…

And if that’s not enough, we’ll talk about A day in the life of me that led me to cross paths with three Hall of Famers at once during the All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City and the question I posed that stopped the show…while hopefully bringing it forward.

 

Business is picking up in the Cheap Seats, but in between, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Sound familiar? Well, I’m not making any early promises or even leaving home, but yeah, business has picked up for the dude.

Well, it’s more like I’ve “taken” my talents to The Sports Fan Journal, because I’ve been there for about a month now, but that’s just schematics. Last week, however, it became official. After a few guest spots over the course of the spring, I accepted an offer to join the staff over at TSFJ.

For me, it was a no-brainer. Ever since I saw what Eddie Maisonet, maybe known more widely as Ed the Sportsfan, had stirring up last fall, it went to the top of my list of endeavors to get involved with. When Ed reached out to me about contributing when baseball season came around, I got ready immediately to make splash on touchdown. Things went well, and now I’m staffing with a twice weekly column there.

One of most foremost, constant goals is to be a voice in a far too empty room: a young, inspired voice for the greatness that is the sport of baseball…from a black man. This is an excellent opportunity to get a greater platform for that effort. Not to mention a fun one daily at as well.

In case you haven’t been to TSFJ (which should be a near impossibility if you run in similar Twitter circles as me), it is truly the voice of our era and culture in online sports. It’s a meeting point for writers and commentary of all sorts, from day to day commentary, editorial pieces and fan forums for on-field events, to a home base for podcasts, gear info and history lessons as well. It’s basically where anything can be found for every type of fan, from frequent follower to casual admirer.

Before I arrived, there was already a well thought out staff of writers in place. Between Ed, Kenny Masenda, Rev. Paul Revere, Reeta the NFL Chick, Justin Tinsley, Mark Trible, Bryan Crawford, Joe Simmons and Jason Clinkscales, there’s a ton of home based, high quality material finding its way in daily. Every season, niche and interest is covered year around, and it’s fueled by the best kind of competition from article to article you can find: quality peers. I mean these are folks that are writing for everything from Fox Sports and Slam Magazine and Nike. Articles being written from the front row and press boxes of games, not TVs. Everybody here is on the rise, and nobody is taking their time.

Combine this with the high quality of guest contributors that make their way into the mix as well

So what am I supposed to add here? As you know, my niche is the baseball diamond, and that is what I shall be representing on the site. Throughout the summer, my column will run definitely on Friday, with another earlier piece as well. It will be the same type of thing you’ve come to follow here, but expanded some stylistically and topic wise as well. Think of it as a national column, with some flair in-between the lines as well. One baseball season has passed some, I will venture into other topics as well on TSFJ, but I will never be too far away from my first true love of spikes and bats.

However, fret not; CSP will live on as well. It is still my link to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, as well as my in-depth analysis site as well, for all sports. I will continue to provide original content here, as well as post links to anything else that I do elsewhere as well.  This new outlet will allow for me to write intertwine more of my overall ideas and direction for CSP as well, which I’ll be introducing and experimenting with here soon. But if you’re subscribing to me here, might as well do the same for the whole Fam over on TSFJ, and get it straight from the source as well.

This is an exciting move for me, as well as a promotion of sorts in the online sports writing world. As always, your readership, follows and questions on what I’m doing is always appreciated. I look forward to this new avenue on the road I’ve just started driving down here just over 24 months ago.

 

–          Matt

 

To get you acquainted with what I’ve been doing thus far, as well as what’s going on with The SportsFan Journal overall, here’s a few links to get you warmed up:

The Home Pagehttp://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/

TSFJ’s Cheap Seatshttp://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/category/columns/the-cheap-seats/

Twitter Follows: @edthesportsfan, @soulonice6, @joesimtre, @Mtrible, @RevPaulRevere @asportsscribe, @JustinTinsley @theNFLchick, @_BryanCrawford

In the meantime, keep on following me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for more on whatever it is that’s piqued my interests at the second.