5/12/14 in MLB   |   pigskinfan   |   65 respect

Blog Photo - HeartlessIt is a game that requires a strong will and a strong mind.  In baseball, the best hitters still fail 7 out of 10 times, and there are so few perfect games thrown by pitchers.  Failure is not just an option, it's almost a requirement, and the ability to deal with that failure is what separates the men from the boys.  The late, great Ted Williams once said:  "Hitting is 90% from the neck up."  And Yogi, in his own inimitable vernacular, is credited with that gem:  "90% of this game is 75% mental."

I mentioned way back on Thursday that I thought the Giants had the edge on the Dodgers over the weekend because they were just a mentally tougher squad.  That was never more on display than it was yesterday.  The Dodgers just couldn't get it done, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, in their own minds, the Dodgers think they're a great team.  In their focus and concentration, however, it is a much different story, and that translates into lackluster performance. 

Yes, the Dodgers came back to take the lead in the 6th after falling behind 1-0, but they gave the lead right back in the 7th.  And after that 2-run homer by Ramirez to tie the game with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, L.A. had all the momentum, but they couldn't finish the deal.  The Giants could have, and should have, been dead in the water at that point.  Their closer had been touched up and had seemingly given a win away, but that's what separates the Gigantes from the Dodgers.  They rallied right back in the 10th to put the game away.

The question has to be:  Was it the Giants strength that fueled that rally?  Or was it the Dodgers weakness?  The easy answer would be that it was most likely a little of both, but the "eye test" tells me that the Dodgers are a weak minded team.  They expect their opponents to realize their great talent and subjugate themselves accordingly instead of working hard themselves to get the results they should be getting.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste?  Well, so is talent, and without a strong mind, talent means nothing.

THE NBA  (0-2 ATS/1-1 SU/0-2 TOTALS yesterday)

BUTTA  (no play yesterday)
Heat (-2) over NETS - It's time to put up or shut up with this game.  I said prior to Game 3 of this series that I was pulling for the Nets to win that game so that I could be sure that we would get a strong, focused effort from the Heat in this game.  I got what I want, so here we go.  The numbers I have definitely don't agree with this move, but the situation is perfect for The Champs.  And Paul Pierce certainly didn't help his teams cause with his postgame comments on Saturday night.  "We aren't afraid of them."  I expect the Heat to prove tonight that there is plenty to fear.
Heat   88 Spurs 114
NETS (+2, O188)                         102 BLAZERS (+4, O210 1/2)    111

---The Blazers haven't just been gutted by the Spurs.  They've been sliced, diced and sautéed.  Maybe there's some pride involved in tonight's effort from Portand, but don't think the Spurs are going to slack off on them either.  San Antonio sees that a win tonight is going to give them a nice little break before they have to face off against either the Clips or the Thunder.

 THE SHOW  (1-3 yesterday)
I'm going to be up front right from jump on today's moves in the Grand Old Game.  There is evidence through the data that could put me off both of tonight's plays, but sometimes you just have to say "what the heck, and go for it."  What I know is the situations are right.  My instincts tell me these are the plays to make, and the all important "eye test", from which a lot of the instincts are derived, are all on my side.  Here we go!

1.  BLUE JAYS (BUEHRLE -115) over Angels (Wilson) - Full disclosure requires me to say that Lefty is only 3-8 lifetime against the Halos.  I must also say that Wilson is 27-14 in road games and 27-6 against sub-.500 teams in his career.  But this is a situation where the Angels are going for the very difficult 4-game sweep on the road, and there's still a lot to like about Buehrle in this spot.  He's 11-2 in May starts over the last 3 seasons, and in his career, he's 77-40 at home off a team loss and 46-20 when he gets the ball with his team on a 3 or more game losing streak.  I'm going to say, and I believe, that these latter numbers will trump everything else tonight.
2.  MARINERS (HERNANDEZ -165) over Rays (Ramos) - Maybe getting away from home will help the Rays.  Sounds strange, I know, but as stated last week, this team is in a real flat spot right now.  It won't be easy for them tonight against El Gato or tomorrow night against Iwakuma, and I'm willing to bet that things won't go well for Tampa tonight in spite of the fact that, oddly enough, The King is not a dominant hurler at home (6-12 over the last 2 seasons) or in May (18-29 in his career).  What makes this play jump for me, besides that flat spot the Rays are in, though, is the fact that Felix is 4-2 lifetime and the M's have won 6 of his last 8 starts over the Rays, his his career ERA versus Tampa is only 2.04.

1.  Nationals (Zimmerman -120) over D-BACKS (COLLMENTER) - It was a rough weekend for the Nats in Oakland, so they turn to their #2 to settle things a little.  Zimmerman is 16-4 against sub-.500 teams over the last 3 seasons, but the Nats aren't hitting well on the road, and things have finally seemed to level off a bit for the Snakes after that disastrous start.  Pass.
2.  Marlins (Koehler +140) over DODGERS (HAREN) - The Fish have been incredibly bad on the road, but this kid, Koehler, has got a live arm and is a real battler.  Feeling the way I do about the Dodgers right now, this looks like the kind of spot where they will collectively feel like an inferior opponent is coming to town, so they really won't have to go all out.  Also, Dan Haren, who is admittedly off to a good start this season, is only 1-6 lifetime against the Marlins.  He's also only 13-20 in home games over the last 3 seasons and 22-32 in May starts in his career.

RUN LINES  (6-9 ATS & SU/8-7 TOTALS yesterday)
Tigers (-1 1/2, U9) Cubs (+1 1/2, U7 1/2)
Rangers Nationals
ASTROS (+1 1/2, O9) D-BACKS (+1 1/2, U8 1/2)
White Sox Marlins
A'S (-1 1/2, U7 1/2) DODGERS (-1 1/2, U7)
Rays (+1 1/2, O7) Braves
Angels (+1 1/2, O9)  
Mets (+1 1/2, U8 1/2)  

---I'm not sure the Tigers are the best team in the A.L., like many think.  They've got the best hitter in the game and outstanding starting pitching, but that pen is a really big hole for them.  So, before you go crazy with them against the O's and Bud Norris tonight, you should know that Baltimore has won 9 or Norris' last 13 starts
---The Rangers have dominated the 'Stros over the years, but there's something wrong Texas right now.  They really aren't hitting all that well, and their pitching has been just awful.  Maybe Houston will be a way for the Rangers to get well, but what the 'Stros lack in talent and experience right now, they more than make up for with effort.
---The Redbirds finally get a home game!  This will only be their 13th game of the season at home.  They've already played just 1 game less of 1/3 of their road schedule for the season, and we haven't even hit the quarter pole of the campaign yet.  It is a team, however, that looks like it could use a day off soon.  Yadi looked really tired last night, and he's the heart and soul of this team.

It was a nice Mother's Day in The Empire yesterday.  I hope it was for your mother too.  With that done, it's now time to start thinking about scratching the itch and answering the call of the desert.  Big plans are in the works.  Have a great day, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.
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