Saturday, October 21, 2017

Coming Soon: Website Renovations 2018

This website being re-designed, re-launch by 2018
UPDATE: THE WEBSITE RE-ORGANIZATION HAS NOW BEEN COMPLETED!

Below is the original article that accompanied the announcement of this re-organization.

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Anyone who has visited here over the years has watched my website undergo a number of previous renovations.

Those changes and renovations have ranged from the design of the page, to the topics emphasized, to the actual name of the page itself.

It began with "Philly Cops" all the way back in the late 1990's. That first site was created as an early place for police officers, especially Philadelphia Police, to get information and news regarding our department and profession.

Within a couple of years, another site called "Domelights" had been developed. 'The Dome' dealt with the same topics. I liked it's format and the dedication of its founders and managers, and so decided to direct my own efforts in another direction.

Sometime around 2004, I decided to direct my efforts at politics. "The Right Way" was a short-lived effort that presented my opinions on various political and social issues from a conservative perspective.

About a decade ago, I decided to check to see if my own name was available as an internet domain. It was, and the "mattveasey.com" site under my own name was born.


Over this past decade the emphasis of the site has changed a few times. At first a continuation of the political and social direction of "The Right Way", I began to incorporate pieces written on any topic that sparked my interest.

At one point, I tried to turn the site into a purely family site. The intent there was to make it a place where our extended family of kids and cousins, aunts and uncles, could catch up and stay in touch with one another.

Then along came Facebook almost immediately. So many family members joined up and got in touch with one another quickly that it became a perfect place to stay in touch.



Over the last half-dozen years there have been three major changes in direction. The first was to a religious and spiritual emphasis. Next came a change to baseball, specifically my hometown Philadelphia Phillies. Finally over the last year or so, to overall baseball coverage.

It was the fall of 1997 when I purchased our first home personal computer and logged on to the internet through the AOL service. Amazing to think that it was a full two decades ago. I began writing soon after. Most of those early pieces are lost to time.

Thankfully when starting "mattveasey.com", I was able to recover a number of pieces dating back as far as 2004. Those are now available here. If you flip through the "Archives" in the left sidebar, you can see the evolution of the topics and direction.


Another thing that I hope you can see is the evolution of my own writing. It is an old axiom that "writers write" - it's in the doing. I enjoy the writing, the self-experession and sharing of ideas.

I'm a writer, whether ever getting paid to do so professionally or not. And so I have to write. I've learned a great deal along the way, and believe that both my style and presentation have improved over the years.

What I have learned in making all of these changes in direction and format over the years is that I have a lot of opinions on a wide variety of issues. It's becoming time to get back to that variety.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yankees find life as C.C. Sabathia turns back the clock

Sabathia gem helps cut Yankees ALCS deficit in half
The New York Yankees were in desperate shape entering Game Three of the 2017 American League Championship Series.

The Yanks trailed the Houston Astros by two games to none in the best-of-seven series. A loss back home in the Bronx would put them in an almost impossible 3-0 hole.

Manager Joe Girardi handed the ball to 37-year old, 17-year veteran C.C. Sabathia for the pivotal starting assignment on the mound.

Sabathia delivered, and then some. He would shut out the tough Houston lineup for six innings over which he threw 99 pitches. The big lefty surrendered just three hits, walked four, and struck out five batters in what he described as a "smoke and mirrors" performance per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.

Despite his age, there is no one his team would have wanted more in that position. Per Hoch, Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts following a Yankees loss during the 2017 regular season and postseason.
"Obviously you want to go out and have a good performance in the playoffs and give us a chance to get back in the series. Hopefully we did that tonight. We can come out tomorrow, swing the bats and score some more runs." ~ Sabathia, per Hoch
Swing the bats they did last night as well. The Bronx Bombers came out bombing early and often against Houston starter Charlie Morton. The veteran right-hander yielded seven earned runs on six hits and two walks over just 3.2 innings of work.

Todd Frazier got it started in the bottom of the second inning. The former Little League World Series hero reached out and poked a three-run homer just over the right field wall. That blast got the offense rolling in what would become an eventual 8-1 Yankees victory.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Red October: Justin Turner beats the champs

Turner's walkoff homer wins NLCS Game Two for Dodgers
The drama of October postseason baseball continued to unfold in a big way in Sunday night's Game Two of the 2017 National League Championship Series.

The host Los Angeles Dodgers held a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS. Now they were battling the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the bottom of the 9th inning with the two teams tied at 1-1 on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard.

There is an old sports axiom that states "if you want to be the champ, you gotta beat the champ." That is exactly the task in front of this latest version of what has become a perennially disappointing Dodgers ball club.

The Dodgers have not won a World Series championship in nearly 30 years. Not since a gimpy Kirk Gibson caused Vin Scully to disbelieve what he had just seen in October of 1988. Not since Orel Hershiser was acing it on the mound, rather then commenting on aces from the broadcast booth.

Ten times since, Los Angeles has advanced to the postseason. Ten times they and their fans have gone home disappointed. Six times the team didn't even advance past the NLDS.

The disappointment has been particularly difficult in recent years. The Dodgers have now captured five consecutive NL West crowns. But their regular season successes have ended in postseason failure each of the previous four years.

The Dodgers organization and fans wear those recent years and even decades of disillusionment like an albatross around their collective necks.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs preview and prediction

The Dodgers and Cubs meet in a repeat NLCS
For the second consecutive season the National League Championship Series will be contested by the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The two teams engaged in a spirited series last October, eventually won by the Cubs in six games. Chicago would then go on to defeat the Cleveland Indians, winning the franchise first World Series in more than a century.

A year ago, Chicago took the opener. But LA then received back-to-back pitching gems from Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, shutting out the Cubs twice to take a 2-1 series lead.

After that, it was all Chicago. The Cubbies bats awoke with a vengeance to take the final three games by a combined 23-6 score.

This season, the Dodgers staggered out of the gate, going 10-12 over the first few weeks of April. But from April 27 through August 25 they accumulated an unreal 81-24 record.

That four month stretch of dominance allowed the Dodgers to run away with the National League West Division race. Even a month-long slump over which they lost 20 of 25 games would not allow either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies, both eventual NL Wildcard teams, to make a dent in the division.

Los Angeles would recover to take eight of their final 10 games, finishing with 104 wins and an 11-game cushion over Arizona. The 104 victories gave them the best mark in all of Major League Baseball, and were the most by any Dodgers team in more than four decades.

Friday, October 13, 2017

ALCS: Houston Astros vs New York Yankees preview and prediction

Judge (top), Altuve lead teams into ALCS
The Houston Astros are right where most baseball pundits thought they would be when the 2017 MLB postseason began. The club will begin play in the American League Championship Series beginning on Friday night.

The Astros finished 101-61, the second best record in the American League. The surprise is that they will be opening this ALCS at home in Minute Maid Park.

The vast majority of those pundits, myself included, believed that Houston would be traveling to Cleveland to face the Indians, who won 102 games, the best record in the American League.

However, the Tribe were stunned in the ALDS by the New York Yankees. That was after favored Cleveland had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game Three was a nail-biting 1-0 affair. With a chance to sweep, the Indians had two runners on and two out in the 9th inning. But Carlos Santana's drive to deep left-center field was hauled in by Aaron Hicks, and the Yanks stayed alive.

New York then tied the series up behind a gem from young ace Luis Severino, and finished the comeback with Brett Gardner's huge two-out, two-run single in the top of the 9th inning of Game Five.

So it will be the Astros hosting those Yankees for the first two games. For Houston, this will mark the franchise first ALCS appearance. The club moved from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nationals can prove nothing today - they must win two straight

Dusty Baker's Nationals need two wins (photo: Chicago Tribune)

The Washington Nationals are on the brink of postseason elimination. Stop me if you've heard this story before.

This year's version of the Nats will take the field on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago trailing the host Cubs by 2-1 in a best-of-five NLDS.

Whether they are willing to admit it or not, the Nationals will face another opponent today as well. That opponent lives inside their own heads and hearts.

This 2017 MLB postseason marks the fourth time in the last six years that Washington has participated in the National League Division Series. They have been eliminated in each of the previous three opportunities.

Winning today will not take the pressure off the Nats. Forcing a Game Five back at Nationals Park on Friday would not prove a thing. For the Nationals to show that this year's team is different from those previous playoff clubs, they must win two straight.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Red Sox vanquished in ALDS, but they'll be back

The Boston Red Sox should contend once again in 2018
The Houston Astros came from behind, scoring twice in the 8th and once in the 9th inning, then held off a last-ditch rally to down the Boston Red Sox by a 5-4 score on Monday afternoon.

The victory advances Houston into the American League Championship Series for the first time since the 2005 postseason. The defeat in front of more than 37,000 mostly disappointed fans at historic Fenway Park sends the host Red Sox home for the winter.

Over the last decade and a half, those Fenway faithful and the team they love have enjoyed the greatest period of sustained success in franchise history. In those last 15 seasons, the Red Sox have reached the postseason nine times, capturing three World Series titles.

But more importantly for the future of the team is that the prospects for long term future success appears to be just as bright as those recent victorious campaigns.

The Red Sox are blessed with one of the most talented group of young players in Major League Baseball. Half of their projected lineup of position players will spend all of the 2018 season at or below 25 years of age.

Phillies Andy MacPhail right not to spend money on roster

Phillies President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail
Andy MacPhail has just begun his third off-season as President of Baseball Operations with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

First hired by the Phillies as an assistant to Pat Gillick in June 2015, MacPhail has been an inside observer to the workings of the team as it finished with 63, 71, and 66 wins over the last three seasons.

Going back even further, the Phillies and their fans have now suffered through five consecutive losing campaigns. Not just barely losing, where your team is competitive. The Phillies best finish in that stretch was 16 games below the .500 mark.

It has been a long, dark period made even less palatable by the fact that it followed the greatest decade in franchise history. From 2001-11, the Phillies fielded just one loser, and that 2002 team finished just a game below the .500 mark.

Most fans, though frustrated, understood the circumstances that led to this current losing stretch. Our heroes of the previous decade pretty much all aged out together. Injuries cut short a few careers. A few poor decisions exacerbated matters.

The reality was that the Phillies needed to rebuild their farm system, developing a group of players who could form the next core of a winning ball club. That was going to take a few years.

Well, a few years have passed. The Phillies have indeed rebuilt that farm system. In the opinions of most respected evaluators, they have indeed developed a core group capable of special things in the coming years.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

MLB awards: my 2017 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA members submitted 2017 MLB Awards ballots
With the four Major League Baseball Division Series each heading towards their climactic moments, this marks a good time to take a quick look back at the regular season.

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), the end of each MLB regular season means that my awards ballot is due.

The IBWAA asks each of its members to vote on five categories in both the National and American Leagues. Those five are the MVP and Cy Young, as well as each league's top reliever, rookie, and manager.

As with the vast majority of voters in the IBWAA, my own selections were certainly based on performance. However, also as with every other voter, subjectivity comes in to play.

There are almost always multiple individuals deserving of awards consideration. That was most definitely the case this season. I found this past 2017 MLB season to be one of the toughest ever for which to fill out an awards ballot.

Friday, October 6, 2017

NLDS Prediction: Washington Nationals over Chicago Cubs

Nationals fans believe that this will be their year - so do I
This isn't necessarily a now-or-never situation for the Washington Nationals, as some pundits have claimed.

The Nats are likely to again be favorites to win the NL East crown in 2018, and will have the talent again to be a serious championship contender.

However, it is getting to be time for the Nationals to prove that they can actually win a postseason series, let alone make a deep October run.

This is the sixth consecutive season of contention in our nation's capital. Washington captured the NL East crown in four of those six seasons, and finished second in the other two. This is their fourth shot at postseason play.

In their three previous October series, the Nationals dropped a hard-fought NLDS. In 2012 it was a 3-2 series defeat at the hands of the Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Nats won the opener of that series, and held a 7-5 lead with two outs in the top of the 9th in the decisive Game Five before a Cardinals rally killed their dreams.

In 2014, the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants took out the Nats in four games. Each of the three defeats came by a single run: 3-2 and 2-1 in the first two games, and then a 3-2 defeat in Game Four where the Giants clinching run scored via a wild pitch.

Last season, Washington was a clear favorite against the LA Dodgers. A 3-2 loss to Clayton Kershaw in the opener was nothing to be ashamed of, and the Nats bounced back to capture the next two games.

Then in Game Four, the Dodgers tied the series with a two-out, nobody on rally in the bottom of the 8th in which a Chase Utley RBI single drove in the winning run of a 6-5 game.

In Game Five, Max Scherzer was tossing a gem, shutting out the Dodgers for six innings. But in the 7th, LA erupted for four runs, ultimately holding on for a 4-3 victory that again eliminated the Nationals.

This history matters, because if the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs get out to a series lead, or even take it to a decisive game, that history of playoff losing could work on the Nationals collective heads.

NLDS Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks over Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodger Stadium hosts the first two games of a 2017 NLDS
Through four games of the 2017 Major League Baseball postseason, home teams are 4-0. Those hosts have outscored the visiting squads by a 31-14 margin to this point.

For my prediction in this National League Division Series to come true, that is going to have to come to an end. I am picking the Arizona Diamondbacks to top the NL West Division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in what some might consider an upset.

I say "some", because knowledgeable baseball fans who have been following these teams know that, despite the Dodgers finishing with a better overall record, the Dbacks have actually been the better team for some time.

Guided by second-year skipper Dave Roberts, the Dodgers finished with an MLB-best record of 104-58. That was 11 games better than Torey Lovullo and his Diamondbacks, who had to settle for the top NL Wildcard position.

But as late as August 25, that Dodgers lead had ballooned up to 21.5 games. Over the next month, LA collapsed, losing 20 of their next 25 games. The Dodgers did ultimately recover their equilibrium at the end, winning 10 of their final dozen.

The Dbacks, meanwhile, were nearly polar opposites. They won 20 of 25 between August 21 and September 16 to take complete command of a Wildcard playoff berth.

In that NL Wildcard Game, held on Wednesday night, Arizona blitzed out to an early 6-0 lead over the division-rival Colorado Rockies. The Diamondbacks ultimately powered their way to an 11-8 victory in the slugfest that many had predicted.

The Dodgers offensive attack is led by two of the top young players in the game today in second-year shortstop Corey Seager and rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

ALDS Prediction: Cleveland Indians over New York Yankees

Progressive Field in Cleveland hosts first two ALDS games
No disrespect meant to the most decorated organization in the history of Major League Baseball, but I think they are in over their heads in their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Indians.

Let's begin the preview with who the Yankees are coming into the series. Joe Girardi's squad took control of the top AL Wildcard spot in September, and even made a run at the Boston Red Sox for the AL East Division crown before falling two games short.

That pushed the Yanks into the AL Wildcard Game. In that contest, held on Tuesday night, the Yankees spotted the Minnesota Twins a 3-0 first inning lead. The Bronx Bombers then bombed away, out-scoring the Twins 8-1 the rest of the way.

The Yankees (91-71) big hitters did the damage in that one-game playoff. Aaron Judge went 2-4 with a monster home run (what else is new), and scored three runs. Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner each had two hits, with Gardner and Didi Gregorius each blasting a home run.

Those three are going to have to contribute heavily if the Yankees are to have any hope of overcoming the defending AL champion Indians. The Tribe won five of the seven meetings between the two teams this season, and I just don't see it happening in a playoff series.

Girardi is scheduled to send big trade acquisition Sonny Gray to the mound in the opener. He'll be followed by veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia in Game Two. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod for Game Three on Saturday back at Yankee Stadium.

For the Indians (102-60) and manager Terry Francona, it was a surprise to many to see righty Trevor Bauer get the call for the opener. But Francona and the Tribe have a great deal of trust in Bauer, who started Game One of the ALDS a year ago vs Boston, and who also made two starts in the World Series vs the Chicago Cubs.

ALDS Prediction: Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox

One ALDS opens this afternoon with Houston hosting Boston
The Division Series open today in the American League, and each series features a strong AL East contender.

I'm picking both of these "beasts of the east" to go down at the hands of what like slightly more talented opponents.

In one ALDS, the Houston Astros, champions of the AL West, will be facing the Boston Red Sox, champs of the AL East. In the other series, the Cleveland Indians, champions of the AL Central and the defending American League champs, will be taking on the wildcard New York Yankees.

Let's take the Houston-Boston matchup first. The Astros won 101 games during the regular season, running away with the AL West crown by 21 games.

It was the franchise' first division title since 2001, and puts them into the postseason for the second time in three years. In 2015, Houston was edged out in a five-game ALDS by the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

The Red Sox went 93-69, and held off the Yankees down the stretch to capture their second consecutive division title, their third in five seasons. The Bosox were swept out of the ALDS a year ago by Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why the Diamondbacks / Rockies will win the NL Wildcard game

NL West rivals will meet in the NL Wildcard Game
The New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins by an 8-4 final score in Tuesday night's AL Wildcard Game.

I called it 7-4, Yankees, in yesterday's AL Wildcard preview and prediction piece. Now it's time to take a look at the National League matchup.

Wednesday night will find the NL Wildcard Game taking place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. There the Arizona Diamondbacks will host the NL West Division rival Colorado Rockies.

The winner of this win-or-go-home matchup will move on to face yet another division rival. That would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will host the NLDS opener beginning on Friday.

Arizona has a first-year big league manager in Torey Lovullo. The 52-year old played 303 games in Major League Baseball, mostly as a utility infielder, spread across eight seasons between 1988 and 1999.

Lovullo did have extensive minor league experience. He registered more than 5,000 plate appearances over a dozen minor league seasons from 1987-99. He then wrapped up his playing career overseas in the Japanese Central League in the 2000 season.

Following his retirement, Lovullo was hired as a minor league coach by the Cleveland Indians. He would rise during the 2000's to become one of the most successful managers in the minors, becoming a frequent big league managerial candidate and interviewee.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why the Yankees / Twins will win the AL Wildcard Game

Twins visit the Yankees for the 2017 AL Wildcard Game
On Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the New York Yankees will host the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wildcard Game.

The Yanks are skippered by Joe Girardi, who has never experienced a losing season in his 10 years at the helm.

Girardi has accumulated a 910-710 record, and led the team to three AL East Division crowns. He also guided baseball's marquee franchise to their most recent World Series championship back in the fall of 2009.

Girardi accumulated 1,100 hits across 15 seasons in the big leagues, which included four in Yankee pin stripes. Those four years, from 1996-99, coincided with the franchise' most recent dynastic run. Girardi would win three World Series rings as a player with those Yankees teams.

Over in the visiting dugout, the Twins will be guided by Paul Molitor. One of the greatest hitters of all-time, the Hall of Famer amassed 3,319 base knocks over a storied 21-year career. He was a 7x All-Star and a 4x Silver Slugger Award winner.

Molitor was the MVP of the 1993 World Series while a player with the Toronto Blue Jays, and was also runner-up for both the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year and 1993 AL Most Valuable Player awards.

As the Twins manager, the Saint Paul native has compiled a 227-259 record over three seasons. Two of his three years have resulted in winnings campaigns. But a year ago, his Twins club finished at 59-103, the worst record in baseball.

This season, Girardi's Yankees finished at 91-71, just two games behind the arch-rival Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Molitor's Twins team was one of baseball's most unlikely stories, and finished 85-77, good enough to capture the second AL Wildcard spot by five games.

During the first decade of this century, the Yankees ousted the Twins from the American League Postseason four times. New York defeated Minnesota in the ALDS in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010, the last two coming in three-game sweeps.

The host Yankees will enter the game as favorites, and prohibitive ones to many prognosticators. However, there are very good reasons to believe that each of these teams can win, moving on to a date with the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.