All posts by Sam Vinciguerra

The Sox Take Down the Pirates On Opening Day

Merry Christmas everybody and Happy Opening Day! The Boston Red Sox took the field this afternoon and boy was it exciting. After watching 9 innings of baseball pornography, I have a few takeaways.

  1. Rob Gronkowski looks healthy and ready to make a run at a second consecutive Super Bowl.
  2. Tom Brady is still perfect.
  3. Boston is easily the best city in the world.

Alright, all jokes aside, let’s talk about the game this afternoon…

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Rick Porcello took the bump and looked like the Porcello of last season. This was a great sign to me. Throughout Spring Training, Porcello struggled with his command and finishing off hitters. This was no problem for Pretty Ricky today. Porcello had command of all of his pitches and worked fast through the Pittsburg Pirates lineup. Porcello ended up going 6.1 innings giving up 3 earned runs and striking out 5, ultimately giving it off to the bullpen in the 7th inning.

First out of the pen was Matt Barnes. Barnes struggled this afternoon. The tall, hard-throwing, righty was able to record two outs but allowed two runners to score. Once Barnes left the game, it was smooth sailing from then on.

After Barnes, the Red Sox used Robby Scott and Heath Hembree to record 3 outs in the 8th inning and Craig Kimbrel took the hill in the 9th, recording his first save of the year.

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Another bright spot this afternoon was the Red Sox lineup. The Sox put up a 5 spot in the 5th inning, which proved to be enough. Eight of the nine hitters recorded a hit, picking up where they left off last year.

Andrew Benintendi started the 2017 season off with a bang, by launching his first homerun of the campaign into the Pirates Bullpen. The rookie looked like a seasoned vet as he led the sox to their first victory of the year.

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Though there were many good things to take away from this game, there were several things to be concerned about. One of which is the Red Sox newest addition, Mitch Moreland. Moreland looked like a fish out of water in the batter’s box. The big lefty went 0-4 with two strikeouts. The Red Sox signed Moreland this offseason to help move on from the retirement of David Ortiz, but what I saw from him was not encouraging. One thing that Moreland does bring to the table is an outstanding glove, but even that was nowhere to be seen. Yes, I know the season is early but if this trend continues, don’t be surprised if you see Sam Travis sooner rather than later.

Overall, it was a fantastic start to the 2017 season. Make sure to tune in on Wednesday for Chris Sale’s debut as the Red Sox look to keep things rolling.


Will the Cubs Capture the Central, Once More?

In 2016, the Chicago Cubs ran away with the division, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals by 17.5 games. The Cubs rode that momentum all the way into October, as they won their first World Series title in 108 years. Are the Cubbies destined to repeat as National League Central champs, or is there another team waiting in the weeds to take down the defending World Series winners?

  1. Chicago Cubs 100-62
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 86-76
  3. Pittsburg Pirates 85-77
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 80-82
  5. Cincinnati Reds 70-92
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There’s no question that the North siders are the best team in the National league, let alone the entire MLB. Yes, they may have lost some key pieces this offseason. Dexter Fowler is on his way out of town and landed with the Cub’s rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, while their stud closer Aroldis Chapman was picked up by the New York Yankees. With that being said, the Cubs did a great job replacing these guys. Baseball’s best General Manager, Theo Epstein went out and landed Wade Davis, who tallied 27 saves last season with the Kansas City Royals. To replace Fowler, the Cubbies have promoted Albert Almora Jr, who is expected to be a stud once he gets a few games under his belt. This year is going to be no different. Expect the Cubbies to run away with this division once again.

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Coming in second place are the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds are consistently good, year in and year out. The addition of Fowler to their lineup should bring some much needed speed and athleticism to their team. Unfortunately, the Cardinals haven’t done enough this offseason to even come close to the team the Cubs have built. Cardinal fans should be praying for a Wild Card spot.

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The Pittsburg Pirates are my choice for third place in the National League Central. The Buccos struggled last season, recording a losing record for the first time since 2013. This is due in large part to the lack of production from Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen had a quiet year in 2016, hitting just 24 home runs and recording a career low .256 batting average. If the Pirates want a chance to make the playoffs, they are going to need the Andrew McCutchen of old. Look for the Pirates to bounce back in 2017, but not nearly enough to put them over the top.

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Rounding out the bottom of the division are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers stayed out of the limelight in 2016, having a better than usual season. The offseason was even quieter for the Brew Crew as they went out and signed Travis Shaw. The Brewers are just as boring as the city they play in. Don’t expect them to do anything special in 2017.

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The Reds are in the midst of a rebuilding stage. Brandon Phillips has headed out of town, being acquired by the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Don’t expect the Reds star, Joey Votto to last much longer in Cincinnati either. I expect the Reds to deal Votto by the trade deadline in 2017 to acquire some much needed farm system help. The Reds will be bad for a while, no ifs ands or buts about that.

The National League Central is not going to produce any close races down the stretch. The Cubbies should comfortably take home the title once more, on their quest to repeat as World Series champions.

Who will be the Best in the West?

The National League West has been dominated the past four years by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Is 2017 the year they relinquish the title, or are they built to make a run at a fifth consecutive divisional championship?

  1. San Francisco Giants 92-70
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
  3. Colorado Rockies 83-79
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
  5. San Diego Padres 69-93
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2017 is going to shake up the National League West, and the San Francisco Giants are poised to be the ones to do it. In 2016 the Giants got off to a red-hot start going 57-33 before the all-star break. Unfortunately, injuries up and down the roster crippled the Giants chances of riding that momentum into the second half of the year. Their bullpen also did not help their cause, as they were one of the worst bullpens in the entire MLB.

On the bright side, the Giants spent their offseason focusing on the bullpen. They were able to sign veteran, Mark Melancon, to a hefty contract, as the new closer on the team. On top of that, the Giants have a top-notch pitching staff, headed by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Historically, both of these pitchers have stayed healthy and continue to dominate their opponents even as they progress in age. If the Giants can finish out the season the way they started it in 2016, then they should have no problem competing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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The Dodgers have superstars up and down their roster, but never seem to take it anywhere further than the first or second round of the playoffs. This year they will have to hope for a wildcard spot. In the offseason, the Dodgers were able to retain both Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Jansen is the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen and was a huge reason why the Dodgers were the divisional champions in 2016. Turner adds some meat to the lineup, after having a career year, notching 27 home runs and tallying 90 RBIs.

It’s hard to talk about the Dodgers without mentioning the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is coming off a year full of injuries. If he can return at full strength, then the Dodgers have a fighting chance. After Kershaw in the rotation, I don’t see much help. Kershaw is going to have to put this team on his shoulders if they want to compete for a championship.

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Moving away from the Giants and Dodgers, the rest of the division doesn’t impress me much. In third place I have the Rockies. The thin air of Colorado will certainly be helpful to their lineup as they have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the league, with Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Ian Desmond. Unfortunately for fans of the Rockies, pitching wins championships, and the Rockies lack that tremendously. Their lineup can only take them so far and to me, that’s third place in this division.

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The Diamondbacks may have been the most disappointing team in 2016. After going out and signing Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to mammoth contracts, the Diamondbacks only won 69 games. The Diamondbacks are in a rebuilding stage so don’t expect them to be good for a while.

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The same goes for the San Diego Padres. The Padres will not be good anytime soon so it isn’t even worth talking about them.

The Giants are the team to watch out for this upcoming season, but don’t count out the Dodgers. This division will be one to keep an eye out for if you love a close divisional race.

Who Will Take Home the WBC Title?

The best players from across the globe played each other in the first round of the World Baseball classic this past week. The atmosphere has been electric but the baseball being played has been even better. The typical teams have continued their dominance throughout the first round of play, but a few surprise teams are starting to make some noise.  Teams like Israel and the Netherlands have put up startling performances against some of the World’s best, while the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States have taken care of business as expected. If you like watching heart-racing and adrenaline pumping baseball, the World Baseball Classic is for you.

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After a tumultuous performance in 2013, the United States seems poised to prove the world wrong, but can they get past the lineups of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as they advance to the second round of play? Judging by what I have seen and the rosters that have been constructed, I think that the Dominican Republic is the safest bet to take home the title. For the US fans out there, don’t lose hope. The United States has a roster that resembles that of an All-Star team and has the deepest pitching rotation in the tournament. They were also just 6 outs away from beating the potent lineup of the Dominican Republic, until the United States bullpen blew a 5 run lead.

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In 2013 the Dominican Republic showed just how dominant they are, by sweeping the series, going 8-0 on their way to their first World Baseball Classic title. This year may be no different.  Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz have combined for well over 1,000 career homeruns. The Dominican Republic also has some great young talent as well, with Starling Marte manning the outfield and Manny Machado completing the lineup. No matter what pitcher they face, they have the ability to put up a crooked number any night.

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As for the United States, they have the same capabilities with a little less fire power throughout the lineup. The States have a well-rounded pitching rotation, with the World’s best closer, Andrew Miller looming in the bullpen. There is a better chance than not that the United States will get the chance to revenge their first round loss against the Dominican Republic later in this tournament. If this comes to fruition then you can guarantee a matchup for the record books. I don’t see shades of Herb Brooks but I do see a game that can match the intensity of a US vs. Soviet Union.

The World Baseball Classic has been in existence since 2005, but a new rivalry could be brewing. If both the United States and the Dominican Republic continue to dominate the competition, get your popcorn ready because you are in for a wild 9 innings.


Will There be a Recall on Price’s Elbow Diagnosis?

Last week Red Sox fans around the world held their breath as news about David Price’s elbow spread around the league like wildfire. Price was scratched from his scheduled spring training start on Sunday due to tightness in his elbow and forearm. He was immediately sent for an MRI where his results came back inconclusive. Following the MRI, Price headed up to Indianapolis to visit every pitcher’s worst nightmare, Dr. James Andrews.

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To everybody’s surprise, Price came back from his trip to Indianapolis with a smile on his face. Price stated that the trip “couldn’t have went any better.” The diagnosis on his elbow only requires 7-10 days of rest, but more importantly no surgery or injections were necessary. Dr. James Andrews is one of the most renowned surgeons in all of sports, so I believe that Price may be alright for now. What terrifies me is that since 2012, 35 pitchers have visited Dr. Andrews. Of the 35, 28 needed season ending Tommy John surgery. Out of the 7 that didn’t need surgery, 6 ended up having season ending injuries. The odds are not looking so bright for our $30 million pitcher.

Price stated that he has experienced elbow discomfort in the past but this time it was “a little bit more stiff” than previous years. Price has had an amazing track record for staying healthy over the course of his career. The lefty has made at least 27 starts in 7 straight seasons and has tallied over 200 innings in 6 of those 7 seasons. Remarkably enough, Price even said the doctors were really impressed with his elbow saying that “it kind of heals itself.” Price is no longer 25 years old. Now entering his 30s, the Red Sox need to monitor his innings and usage throughout the season.

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Price will be itching to get out there on the mound again, but the Red Sox need to be careful. Even though his arm is okay for now, it may not be for long. Price is the type of guy who needs to be at his peak medically in order to perform to the best of his ability. He is a routine machine. Everything needs to be done the same way, from his pregame rituals to his recovery methods. Many athletes are like this and if something gets in the way to interrupt their routine, then all hell can break loose.

For now it is an encouraging sign that Price should be out toeing the rubber every fifth day, but don’t get your hopes up. An impeding catastrophe is in the works and unfortunately, Red Sox fans are not going to like it. My advice to the Red Sox would be to take it slow. The sox have enough arms to get through the first month without Price. There is no need to rush him back. Make sure he is healthy and ready for a playoff run. I know Price feels as if he needs to prove himself this year, but he won’t be able to prove anything when he’s sitting back watching the team without him.

Early Award Predictions

Winter is beginning to fade away and spring is just around the corner. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally approaching and I could not be more excited. Spring Training games have commenced, albeit they most likely bore you to tears after the third or fourth inning, so let’s give you guys something to look forward to. How do predictions for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP sound?

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This year there are two distinct favorites for the Rookie of the year award. Dansby Swanson of the Atlanta Braves will run away with this award in the National League. Swanson played just 38 games after being called up at the end of the 2016 season. In his limited time in the Big’s, Swanson showed exactly why he was drafted first overall in 2015. The 23 year old does it all. Swanson is smooth in the field, can hit for average, steal bags, and has shown some pop in his bat. Swanson debuted in the middle of August and still finished with a .302 Avg., 3 home runs, 17 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases in just 38 games. Another year of experience will be extremely valuable for Swanson and should propel him to the next level of stardom.

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From the American league I see Red Sox young stud, Andrew Benintendi taking home the Rookie of the Year award. Most Red Sox fans fell in love with Benintendi last season after his debut on August 2nd. Benintendi hit .295 with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs, in just 34 games. These numbers aren’t jaw-dropping but they show the potential that Benintendi has. At the age of 22, he is poised to take over the everyday role in Left field, with the Green Monster looming over him.

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In 2016 Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello took the league by storm, receiving the Cy Young Award in their respective leagues. This year I see the honor going to Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber. Kershaw is an extremely safe pick, seeing that he is constantly dominant year in and year out. Last season was an enigma for Kershaw. He suffered through a nagging back injury that kept him to just 21 starts. With that being said, Kershaw still finished with a 12-4 record and an outrageous 1.69 ERA. If Kershaw can stay healthy, there is no question in my mind that he can win his 4th Cy Young in 7 years.

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Corey Kluber took the bull by the horns last year, finishing in third place for the Cy Young just behind Justin Verlander and Porcello. Kluber took his amazing statistics into the playoffs where he continued to dominate, leading the Indians to the World Series. Kluber has been a silent killer for the past three years. Staying out of the headlines, Kluber continues to produce amazing numbers as the ace of one of baseball’s best rotations.

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Now the moment you have all been waiting for; the MVP award. It would be a safe choice to pick Mike Trout and Kris Bryant but this year is going to be different. These players will obviously have sensational seasons but in 2017 Nolan Arenado and Jose Altuve will take home the award. Arenado doesn’t get much attention playing in Colorado but has been one of the best players in the MLB for the past two seasons. At 25, Arenado is a 4 time Gold Glove winner and 2 time Silver Slugger. Arenado will be turning 26 this year, baseball players prime. Over his four seasons, his statistics have continued to escalate. This year will be no different. Even though the Rockies are going nowhere fast, Arenado has certainly earned his spot as one of baseball’s best players.

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Jose Altuve has owned the American League for the past three seasons. Standing at just 5’6” and weighing 165 pounds, you would think Altuve would be better suited as a jockey rather than a MVP candidate. Altuve has proven that he is a 5 tool player. Altuve has 600+ hits over the course of the last three seasons and can still hit the long ball, racking up 24 last season. The Astros are poised to have a bounce back season this year, giving Altuve a better chance at winning the MVP award.

Keep an eye out for these players. All of them are stars or stars in the making. This year is going to be a fun one, make sure you strap in for the long ride.

Top 5 Worst Celebrity First Pitches

The first pitch of the 2017 season is right around the corner. With that being said, you would think that it was time to write a meaningful piece about teams to watch out for or any last minute moves to keep on your radar. Not here at Fan Interference. Since the first pitch is just a little over a month away, we are going to dissect and analyze the top 5 worst celebrity first pitches of all time.

#5- Carly Rae Jepsen  

For all you old folk out there, Carly Rae Jepson is the reason you haven’t been able to get the song “Call Me Maybe” out of your head for the past 5 years. Jepson took the mound in Tampa Bay to throw out the first pitch and boy did she disappoint. Looking at the tape she starts off with a smooth leg kick and good balance point but after that it was all downhill. Jepsen releases the ball and sadly it went as far as her singing career has gone. I think it is time to make a new song titled, “Call the Bullpen.”

#4- All the Kardashians

At number 4 on the list we have the “multi”-talented, Kardashian sisters. What else would you expect from the Kardashians? In front of 56,000 people the Kardashians took the spot light at Dodger Stadium and fell flat once again. There is not much to break down in this video. Everything from the start is off. In fact I’m pretty sure not a single one threw to the right person. But once again, what did you really expect?

#3- Barack Obama

In all honesty I am not trying to get political or tell my readers what presidents I have liked and who I don’t, but Obama seems like a really cool guy. I’ve seen videos of him shooting some hoops and he isn’t half bad. So you would think the guy must have thrown the rock around in the backyard a time or two. Judging by the video it’s hard to defend my argument. Obama seems like he spent more time trying to reform health care than he did playing catch. Which I am pretty sure should be the case as the president of the United States. But come on Barack, you are better than this.

#2- John Wall

The reason John Wall is #2 on our list is because he is a professional athlete. Come on bro, you get paid millions of dollars to be athletic and you can’t reach home plate? Wall is arguably the NBA’s most accurate passer but the Kardashians didn’t suck as bad as he did. Maybe he should have tried to throw it behind his back or between a defender’s legs? Honestly, anything other than what he did.

#1- Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent

Built like a Mack truck, 50 Cent got in front of Citi Field and shocked the world with how outrageously bad he was at baseball. It seemed as if “Fiddy” maybe had a shot too many of his new vodka, “Effen,” before he embarrassed himself in front of thousands of people. But in all seriousness, physics cannot explain how bad this throw was. His arm goes forward but the ball shoots out to the side, almost going into the opposing team’s dugout. I’m still left wondering, how.

There it is everybody. Baseball has a great tradition of bringing celebrities or people in the community that deserve recognition, the once in a lifetime opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a game. For many the spotlight is too much, making for some hysterical moments that we can laugh at for years.