A Series Of Inconvenient Truths [TeeCoZee’s NL Roundup April 2018]

Even though dozens would argue that they aren’t fixed, there’s certain consistencies in sports that we can count on. We know that every year, the Patriots will be a contender. We also know that LeBron James will either win a title by himself or struggle to do so. We know that nobody will ever fault you for not knowing the Stanley Cup winner. And we know that every year, Dusty Baker will be fired, whether it be from a major league club or Burger King. That is why whenever I do my sports roundups, I know exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to make some riff about the Phillies being terrible. I plan on acting surprised when the Brewers are doing well. And I’m going to complain about the Dodgers, while knowing deep down that I’m nitpicking and they’re clearly the best team in the division. Predictability like this makes sports writing the easiest job in the world.

That is, until they stop following the script.

You’re telling me that the Phillies aren’t in last place? You’re telling me that the Brewers are still the Brewers? You’re telling me that the Dodgers are almost in last place and leagues beyond being considered a good team? You’re telling me that I have to start from scratch and rethink all of my opinions? You’re telling me that only 2 of my standings predictions were correct? You’re telling me that Joe West is going to call a bullshit balk on Tony Cingrani and everyone is going to blame that for the Dodgers losing to the Marlins? You’re telling me that the Dodgers are going to LOSE to the Marlins? You’re telling me that I’m going to be so upset about the balk call that I’m going to make a meme out of it? incrediblebalk
You’re telling me that it’s a bad photoshop job? You’re telling me that the font sucks? You’re telling me that Tony Cingrani is left handed? You’re telling me that there’s no good pictures of Cingrani making a head-on expression with a Dodgers hat on? You’re telling me that you’re out of everything bagels? You’re telling me that you’re putting the lox on cinnamon raisin? You’re telling me that there’s no restroom? You’re telling me this costs 11 bucks? You’re telling me that I need to stop straying off topic? You’re telling me that I need to stop stalling and just talk about the upside-down funhouse that is the National League?

You’re telling me that I have to keep writing about baseball? Okay. Here’s goes something.

NL East

5th Place: Derek Jeter [11-19]
Even the most predictable team in the NL is unpredictable. We all expected the Marlins to crash and burn in a disgusting fashion and in a way they are. Locker room morale is at an all-time low. Monday night’s game against the Phillies [hah] drew a record-breaking crowd of 5,415. For comparison, that’s on par to the average for the Long Island Ducks. Don’t know who the Long Island Ducks are? Good. You’re not supposed to. That’s how a joke works. Despite all of this, they’re still only 11-19. That places them last in the division, but far from last in the MLB’s heart. When he’s not benched with an undisclosed butt-hurt injury, JT Realmuto has been the Realest Muto [much more real than JT Riddle or JT Fauxmuto or High Heat Baseball 2001]. Starlin Castro is doing all that he can to remind us that he still exists, has always existed and isn’t some faceless Diamondbacks reject. In fact, he never even played for the Diamondbacks. Starlin Castro just seems like a name that would come off their bench. Just like how Pedro Alvarez sounds like he’s a geezer, when really he’s only a handful of days older than me. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, they Marlins. They suck.

4th Place: Natty Light [16-16]
Well this was unexpected. Basically the same playoff roster of last year and years prior, underperforming as hard as they can. Could this mean that the Nats are Royaling out? Is Ryan Zimmerman going to continue being Ryan Zimmerman and hug The Mendoza Line? Does Bryce Harper’s 10 home runs even matter if he’s batting .250? What’s 10 home runs anyway? Ozzie Albies hit 10 home runs and still nobody cares. Why is nobody freaking out about their slow start? It’s because they’re a fake team that doesn’t actually have any fans. If a formerly-winning team starts 16-16 and no fans are there to complain, does anyone fire Dennis Martinez?

3rd Place: Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks [17-13]
Well, here’s an example of good things happening to bad people. Philadelphia gets another winning team. Isn’t 3 enough? Does every Philly franchise have to be good? That’s kind of annoying. No city should have that and science dictates that they won’t. It’s human nature. If the Indians and Cavs are good, then the Browns have to suck by default. If the Cubs, Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks get their shit together, the White Sox won’t. The Padres will never be good if they’re in San Diego. If every sports team in a city is successful, the city will change dramatically. Everybody will want to go to every game. The economy will grow and jobs will be created. People will flock to Philadelphia because that’s where winners are born. In 2018 America, this would be cripplingly positive. Just thinking about this feel-good story makes me want to die or go walk around Newark. The Phillies CANNOT have a good season because it would be a striking blow to modern pessimism!

2nd Place: The Pepsi Porch Coke Corner [17-12]
Full disclosure: I started writing this article 4 days ago. That’s why it didn’t open with me sobbing about Corey Seager [we’ll get to that]. What I was going to write about the Mets 4 days ago is in a much different light than what I would write today. So instead, I’m going to mash up the two. Ahem.

The Mets are off to one of the more surprising starts this year. In predictable fashion, the Mets are tumbling down shit mountain at a steady rate. They are scrapping together runs and winning games as an actual functioning team. They have been so hopeless that even a single hit feels like a momentous occasion. Their rotation and bullpen is showing a great amount of depth. After Jacob DeGrom went down mid-game with a hyperextended elbow, it really sunk in just how screwed they truly are. Even though he had a shaky start in San Diego, Jason Vargas could be one of the best #3 starters in the game. After coughing up 6 runs to the Braves, it’s very apparent that Jason Vargas is completely broken. Their biggest sore spot is their new relief pitcher, Matt Harvey, who is a stupid baby that needs the most attention to be designated for assignment. They’re biggest sore spot is their new relief pitcher, Matt Harvey, who is a stupid baby that needs the most attention to be designated for assignment.
What a difference a few days makes…

1st Place: The Sun Trust Cult Corp. [19-11]
I’m not ready for the Braves to be good again. The days of Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla are still fresh in my mind. But as I take a deep gulp and look down the barrel of the Super Soaker that is reality, I have to admit that they’re a spry young team with a lot of potential. And with the way that the rest of the division is shooting their collective feet off, they stand a good chance to limp into the playoffs and get swept in the first round by the Cardinals or some equally dumber team. This is just the state of things this year.

NL Central

5th Place: Skyline Chili [7-24]
I had some friends come into town a couple of weeks ago. They got me good and tipsy while I maintained an empty stomach. When I got home, I realized that I needed to eat something and I stared down a can of Skyline Chili for a good 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure if I had the stomach to eat it like a soup. I had no cheddar cheese or onions to mix with it, nor did I have hot dogs or spaghetti to serve as edible chili transportation receptacles. It was just me and the can. I decided to eat a couple of crackers instead, vomited and went to bed. This is exactly how the season has been going for the Cincinnati Reds.

4th Place: Yo Ho-Ho And A Bottle Of Steel Reserve [17-15]
When I started this 4 days ago, the Pirates were in first. Now they’re in fourth, which is closer to where they belong. That’s a relief. I really didn’t feel like having to explain why the Pirates were off to a hot start. It’d be filled with a bunch of exaggerations and lies because after all, I really don’t know what I’m doing. Here’s a meme to distract you.

3rd Place: Doublemint Gum [16-12]
The second that the Cubs took Yu Darvish, I knew that he was going to resume being damaged goods. I told myself that I was just being bitter about the World Series and the fact that one of my favorite pitchers is playing on a team that I hate. A month later, I realize that I’m actually wrong about my assumption of being wrong and I was right all along. That sentence made no sense. YU DARVISH IS DAMAGED GOODS. There. He’s rocking a steady 6.0 ERA. His walk rate has doubled from last year. I know that this is a small sample size, but he is greatly underperforming and nobody is hinting towards him being injured. So maybe the world IS crashing down on him.

Also, Anthony Rizzo is my NL Fantasy Player That Deserves To Die A Slow and Painful Death. He’s batting a tepid .171 and striking out 4 times more than he is walking [last year, he walked more than he struck out]. Everyone picked him in the 2nd round and his starting lineup spot is currently being occupied by Justin Smoak. Last week, I complained about James Paxton and then he went out and had a 16 strikeout game. Prove me wrong, Anthony Rizzo. Prove me wrong!

2nd Place: The Los Angeles Rams [0-0]
The Rams only had 1 pick in the first two days of the draft, which I guess is an appropriate trade-off to the team suddenly being good. It’s better than being the Browns and getting the #1 pick year in and year out. They used the first few picks to build on their core, taking Texas Christian [that’s a college name?] tackle, Joseph Noteboomshakalaka, center Brian Allen from Michigan State and DE Stephen F Austin from John Franklin. Or was is it John Franklin from Stephen F Austin? Who’s making up these universities?!?

1st Place: The Miller High Lives [19-13]
Josh Hader is a strikeout machine.

In a tight game against the Reds that nobody saw, the 23 year old southpaw faced 9 batters and struck out 8 of them. Nobody in the history has ever recorded 8 strikeouts in a save. His stuff is legit and it’s here to stay. His current strikeout rate is 19.5 per 9 innings. For the first time in ages, there is actually a good reason to watch the Brewers.

NL West

5th Place: Western Metal Supply Co [11-21]
What were you expecting? The Addams Family?

4th Place: Farmer Johns, Mercedes Benz and Cocaine [14-17]
I don’t know how to process my emotions properly when it comes to the Dodgers. On one end, I’m grateful to be rooting for a generally successful franchise but I’m having a hard time coping with the fact that this is most likely a punt year. Instead of making this a giant paragraph of depressed psychobabble, I’m going to recreate The Simpsons scene where Homer buys a possessed Krusty Doll:

The Dodgers are on a 2 game winning streak.

That’s good!

They’ve lost 7 of their last 10.

That’s bad.

But Clayton Kershaw has a 2.86 ERA!

That’s good!

His record is 1-4.

That’s bad.

But prospects Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler are becoming everyday fixtures in the team!

That’s Good!

It’s because Yasiel Puig has a hip injury and Rich Hill has a hangnail.

That’s bad.

But they have the opportunity to rent Manny Machado!

That’s good!

It’s because Corey Seager needs Tommy John’s surgery.

That’s bad.

But Hyun-Jin Ryu is having the best year of his career!

That’s good!

And now his groin injury will keep him sidelined until August.

That’s bad.

But Kenley Jansen has been racking up saves!

That’s good!

His HR/9 rate is 2.1.

That’s bad.

Can I go now?

3rd Place: Enron [16-15]
Don’t expect this trend to last. This is the same team that almost got swept by the Padres. The Giants have a lot of star power, I’ll give them that. But that’s all I’m giving them. That star power is quickly going to fade. Fun fact: aside from the injured Joe Panik, the entire starting lineup is over 30. This is a team that has friggin Austin Jackson as an everyday centerfielder. Basically, the Giants are trying to get butts in the seats by using players that fans recognize. And they only recognize them because they are all fossils. Also, they have a new pitching prospect that seems very exciting:

I don’t know if this a testament to Pablo Sandoval’s secret athleticism or the Dodger’s incompetence inability to keep their composure while facing hilarity.

2nd Place: Coors Light [17-15]
Their record dictates otherwise, but this is definitely not the same team from last year. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are holding their own, but the team is falling apart around them. But then again, wasn’t that the same case last year and they still made the postseason? I guess Arenado and Blackmon are good enough to carry the team. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about them after I spend all weekend watching them clobber the Mets.

1st Place: Chase What Matters [21-10]
I’m hoping that the Diamondbacks don’t stay in first. Not because I don’t care for them, but because that would mean that every roundup would end with them. I like to end my articles on a good and memorable note and that’s going to be hard to do if it has to be a paragraph about the differences between Zack Godley and Greinke. Actually, I could probably make some hilarious false comparisons. And AJ Pollock is killing the game. And the rest of the NL West sucks. Welp.

Join me next month, when I close the article with the differences between Zack Godley and Greinke!