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Caller Suggests James Shields Is Rays’ Game 2 Starter Because He Is Jewish

After being in the sports radio business for the past nine years, things said by callers generally don’t surprise me. Having said that, the clip I heard today via Jimmy Traina’s Hot Clicks had me flipping out. Some lady on Steve Duemig’s show on WDAE in Tampa suggested that the Rays starting James Shields in Game 2 of the ALDS is a Jewish conspiracy. No joke.

The decision to start Shields in Game 2 is quite surprising. David Price is a Cy Young candidate and the team’s Game 1 starter. Many people would have expected Matt Garza to start Game 2 for the Rays because of his playoff experience and success this season, but manager Joe Maddon is giving Shields the nod. Shields pitched well twice against the Red Sox in the ALCS in 2008 and beat the Phillies in the World Series, but he’s been hit hard this year, particularly towards the end of the season.

I could understand the argument that Shields is one of the team’s veteran leaders and that’s why he’s getting the start. The suggestion that his Jewish background is the reason he’s getting the start is incomprehensible. The show’s host, Steve Duemig, thought the female caller was joking when she made the suggestion. As he told me, and as you can hear in the audio clip (listen here), he gave her every possible out to say she was joking. After continuously questioning the lady, it was determined she was completely serious.

The oddest part of the whole situation is that Shields isn’t even Jewish! Duemig said that in his 20 years in sports radio, Quaker Lady was probably number two on the list of craziest calls he’s received. Frankly, it’s hard to believe she wasn’t number one. Something tells me it was Rick Sanchez disguised as a random lady making the call.

Brilliant Photo Credit: Jason Collette via Draysbay

Phillies Are Rightful World Series Favorites

From the moment the postseason odds were listed up until right before the beginning of the playoffs, the Philadelphia Phillies have been favored to win the World Series. Currently, the Braves, Reds, Rangers, and Twins all have the longest odds of winning the thing (though nobody is worse than 12:1 underdogs when it comes to sports betting). The Phillies are nearly a 2:1 favorite to win it all, while the Yankees and Rays are generally a 3:1 or 4:1 favorite. The Giants are the one team in between; because of their stellar pitching (best in MLB), they’re around a 7 or 8:1 favorite.

The Phillies are favored to win it all for four reasons: they finished the year strongly and wound up with the best record in baseball, they have the consensus best 1-2-3 pitching punch, the competition in the NL is easier than the AL, and they’ll have homefield advantage throughout the postseason (including the World Series). They have the best combination of pitching and hitting in baseball and will likely make it to their third straight World Series.

After running through a stretch mid-season when the offensive was in a collective slump, the bats started to pick it up in the second half. Ryan Howard OPS’d .977 in September, Chase Utley did .967, Raul Ibanez went .962, Carlos Ruiz had a .925 line, Jayson Werth went .920, and Shane Victorino was .823. Almost their entire lineup was on fire the entire final month of the season. Plus, you know Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins can come up big in the postseason too.

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Ken Macha Felt Rebuffed by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder

It was only 2008 when the Brewers seemed like an up-and-coming team. They reached the playoffs for the first time since 1982 and had their first 90-win season since 1992. Alas, the team lost ace CC Sabathia in free agency despite offering him a big contract, and Ben Sheets later followed. There was optimism in Milwaukee because the team still had franchise players Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, both of whom had become All-Stars and MVP candidates. Though last year’s team was in first place all the way until early July before falling out of the race, this year’s team never had a shot.

The easiest target for blame was the pitching. Yovani Gallardo was good but got hurt and only made 24 starts. Randy Wolf got roughed up to start the year before settling in. The bullpen was a mess aside from the mustached one, and every flier they took flamed out. The other targets were the aforementioned sluggers, Braun and Fielder. Expected to carry the offense, Braun had his worst season as a pro and needed a late surge to post nice season-ending numbers. Fielder was similarly bad, posting his worst season since his rookie year in 2006. While Braun has a long-term deal and Prince is searching for one, manager Ken Macha became the casualty getting let go by the team.

On his way out, Macha made sure he wasn’t the only one carrying the blame. He explained his efforts to reach out to Braun and Fielder that were turned down by the sluggers:

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Dodger Fans Boo Frank McCourt During Joe Torre Farewell Speech

The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 3-1 on Sunday to end their season. Joe Torre finished his last year as the team’s manager with an unimpressive 80-82 record and he gave his farewell to the fans following the disappointing year.

The Dodgers were coming off two straight NLCS appearances and widely expected to compete for the division crown. Instead, GM Ned Colletti’s hands were tied in the off-season and he was unable to buy any necessary pitching to help the team. He criticized star Matt Kemp early in the season and sent the young slugger into a spiral. Manny Ramirez was on the disabled list three times and had a bust of a season. Andre Ethier started off like a stud then broke his pinkie. Closer Jonathan Broxton was overused and lost his job. For all the accolades the highly acclaimed manager receives, he only led the Dodgers to an 80-82 year.

Perhaps the whole spirit of the season was ruined by the pending divorce case between Frank and Jamie McCourt. While the two are fighting for custody of the team, we’ve found out that they took millions out of the team to finance their personal lifestyle. I’ve been hammering the Dodgers for years over their cheap ways, but it took the divorce case for most fans to realize how awful Frank McCourt has been as an owner.

Let’s do the list: doubled ticket prices, doubled parking prices, hired a psychic for hundreds of thousands per season, paid their sons hundreds of thousands for not working for the team, and took over $100 million from the franchise for themselves. Fans finally have caught on and gave McCourt the only type of salute he deserves: the call of the boo bird. Check out Joe Torre’s farewell speech and listen at the 32 second mark for the boos:

Frank should take a cue and stop fighting for the Dodgers. The fans are sick of him and don’t want him as the owner any longer. Maybe MLB can do something about the situation because he clearly is not fit to be the owner of a big-market team, let alone any baseball team.

Felix Hernandez Has to be the AL Cy Young Award Winner

Much to his dismay, the Seattle Mariners decided to shut down Felix Hernandez and skip his scheduled start in the season finale on Sunday. King Felix will miss a chance at solidifying his Cy Young candidacy, but it shouldn’t matter; Hernandez has shown that he is undoubtedly the best pitcher in the American League this year.

Hernandez finished the season 13-12 while leading the Majors with a 2.27 ERA. The 24-year-old stud also threw 249.2 innings, which was one shy of tying Roy Halladay for the MLB lead. Hernandez’s monstrous innings pitched total was more than anyone else in baseball the past five seasons and the most in the American League since Halladay threw 266 in 2003.

In case you don’t understand the significance of this achievement, we’ll put it simple: the more innings you pitch, the more you’re helping your team by sparing the bullpen and giving the club many more high-quality innings than they would get from more inferior pitchers.

In addition to the stellar innings total, Hernandez blew hitters away with his blazing fastball and devastating curve and change up to the tune of 232 strikeouts. The 232 total placed King Felix second in baseball, one behind Angels pitcher Jered Weaver.

Still not impressed?

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Arizona Diamondbacks Dress Rookies Up in Speedos and Swim Outfits for Hazing

If August is the month for rookie hazing in the NFL, then September is the time for rookies to get it in baseball. First it was the Twins dressing up their rookies in cartoon and Sacha Baron Cohen costumes, and then it was Logan Morrison in a hideous outfit. While that’s nothing compared to getting awful looking haircuts, it’s probably better than walking around the Bay Area in speedos and swim caps, as the Diamondbacks rookies had to do. Thanks to AZ Snake Pit for the tip:

On second thought, it’s not too different from Bay to Breakers. They probably did blend in around the area.

Photo Credits: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Blue Jays Rock the Fake Mustaches in Cito Gaston Farewell Game

Wednesday evening marked Cito Gaston’s final home game as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. The team had a huge ceremony to honor the manager who brought the city two World Series titles. They invited his former players out, played video messages and tributes, and his current players even gave him a farewell Rolex. You could tell how much the players love and respect Gaston, and they showed it with a facial hair tribute. Not only did Vernon Wells reference Gaston’s mustache in a speech, but the players all put on fake mustaches to celebrate Gaston. In fact, outfielder Travis Snider drew one on with eye black and even played the entire game with it on. Check it out:

The Jays sent Gaston out at home with an 8-4 win over the Yankees. Snider actually hit a two-run home run in the first and added an RBI single in the second. At 82-76, the Blue Jays are having a fine season. After losing their top two pitchers the past two years, giving away Alex Rios in waivers, and losing half their pitchers to arm injuries, the above-.500 showing is more than impressive. Gaston did a fine job with the bunch in his second tour of duty in Toronto.