MLB Jam: Final Four

Only four teams remain in this epic battle of the basketballing baseballers! The wheat has been separated from the chaff, the cream has risen to the top, and so on and so forth. In the AL side, it's a showdown of epic proportions between Joe Mauer's Twins and Matt Wieters' Orioles; in the Senior Circuit, Matt Kemp's Dodgers and Ryan Howard's Phillies were the NL's top dogs last season. Will the Dodgers make up for their playoff failings? Will the Phillies add another (imaginary) trophy to their mantle? Will the Mauer/Wieters showdown leave us all too utterly in awe to even tell you about it? Those answers, and more, are coming right up. As always, games to 21, 2's and 3's, call own fouls, and let's get a champ ee yun ship game squared away!

Game 1: (5) Minnesota Twins vs. (13) Baltimore Orioles
Players: Joe Mauer/Pat Neshek vs. Matt Wieters/Brian Matusz

The Orioles are the lowest seed to advance this far in tournament history (admittedly, perhaps not the most impressive record), and have done so on the strength of Matt Wieters' phenomenal swag. The Twins have overcome a pair of formidable title contenders (Rangers, Yankees) because of Joe Mauer's dominance. We don't mind saying that this has been the most hotly anticipated pairing of the tournament; it's a regular ratings bonanza (relatively speaking). And from the outset, neither team disappoints. It's a flurry of stunning crossovers, no-look assists, clean jumpers, and lockdown defense. Paradoxical? Maybe. Entertaining? You bet. The game stays deadlocked most of the way, until the Orioles start to pull ahead late as Matusz asserts his dominance over Neshek. The O's jump to a 19-16 lead, but Mauer ties it up from 3 after a crazy side-armed assist from Neshek that snakes through the legs of the unsuspecting Matusz. Tied 19-19, and unwilling to go through another epic showdown like they just had against, the Orioles were in a crucial spot. But there's a reason why Matt Wieters already has a Hall of Fame plaque and Joe Mauer doesn't. The thunderous game-winning alley-oop that he throws down isn't that reason, but it's pretty indicative, no? Orioles win, 21-19.

Game 2: (1) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. (2) Philadelphia Phillies
Players: Matt Kemp/Jon Broxton vs. Shane Victorino/Ryan Howard

These may be the top two seeds, but they certainly got here in strange ways. The Phillies won one game by virtue of playing only against 5'6'' Danny Ray-Herrera and another by the Rockies' rulebook recklessness, while the Dodgers advanced last round because of Matt Kemp's midget stripper. What we're saying is, this could go either way. The Dodgers size advantage seems to hurt them early, as Victorino, seemingly unencumbered by the ceremonial lei he's been insisting on wearing, darts around nimbly as ever, finishing around the rim and from the perimeter with equal aplomb. Kemp heats up from deep, though, draining a couple of three-pointers to put the Dodgers right back in it. Howard and Broxton wage a battle for the ages down on the blocks, trading subtle elbows and jostling constantly. Hook shots and drop step-layups abound from down around the basket, until as with the earlier game, we stand deadlocked at 19. Victorino had been somewhat quiet, seemingly worn down, but he turned on the jets and streaked past a flatfooted Kemp on the way to the hole...only to find himself yanked to the ground by the lei mid-triumphant dunk. FOUL! Which we don't remember, exactly, but we think that's the first one called. The crowd goes hushed, but applauds as Victorino gets up and heads to the line for his potentially game-clinching free throws...and of course sinks them both. But don't get too excited, Phillies fans - he celebrated by popping his new t-shirt line that he's been wearing to games. Sweet shirt, bro. Phillies win, 21-19.

Well, well, well, a couple of thrillers there! O's and Phitins for the 'ship...not too shabby if we say so ourselves. Let us play you out with the bracket to date:


MLB Jam: NL Semi-Finals


It's not often we get to say those things in public, and this is about as close as we're gonna get. So even though we clearly cannot hear you (or...can we...?) we're going to assume that you're as excited for the Final Four of the MLB Jam tournament to be unveiled. So why waste time? Games to 21, 2's and 3's, call own fouls, and LLLLLLLEEEEETTTT'S GET REAAAADY TOOOOOO play basketball.

We really need a hype man.

Game 1: (1) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. (12) Houston Astros
Players: Matt Kemp/Jon Broxton vs. Michael Bourn/Evan Engelbrook

Can we tell you a brief story? We're not really sure if it's blog-appropriate, but it's very relevant, we assure you. Matt Kemp, a.k.a. the anchor of that Dodgers squad (seriously; we don't think we remember writing one thing about what Broxton did beyond 'being big'), dates Rihanna. And it was her birthday over the weekend. We're sure you know where this is going, but play along: guess what he got her for the occasion!

We'll wait.

Did you guess 'midget stripper?' Cause if you did, well, we like having you around these parts. We say this story is relevant because we don't really comme on dit 'like' the Astros, and so in lieu of a game recap, you get a midget in leather lingerie. Trust us, it's better this way. Dodgers win by virtue of midget.

Game 2: (3) Colorado Rockies vs. (2) Philadelphia Phillies
Players: Dexter Fowler/Greg Reynolds vs. Shane Victorino/Ryan Howard

Some bad blood between these squads, because not only did Shane not get Dexter a midget stripper for his birthday, but the Rox and Phils have met in the playoffs two of the past three years.

Somehow those are related.

ANYWAY, the two squads appear fairly evenly matched because Fowler/Victorino are analogs and Reynolds, while he has a height advantage on Howard, surrenders quite a bit in the weight department. And so but what was supposed to be a compelling match full of drama and competitive basketball quickly turns into bizarre theater as Carlos Gonzalez suits up in place of Fowler and runs roughshod over Victorino and Howard. Unfortunately, this is what we like to call 'unabashed and thorough violation of the sacred MLB Jam covenant' (our rulebook is a real fun read), and the Phils aren't about to let that go. By virtue of Howard saying 'Hey, that's not Dexter Fowler!' the Rockies are forced to forfeit their ill-gotten gains. So much for Rock-bruary! Phillies win by forfeit and the Rockies are cheaters.

Well, that was different! But, hey, we have a final four! And somehow the 1 and 2 seed from the NL have made it out unscathed. Mauer! Wieters! Howard! Midget Stri- Kemp! It's the MLB Jam Final Four!


MLB Jam: AL Semi-Finals

Oh boy, we're gettin to the quick now. 8 teams remain, including both 1 seeds and a couple of Cinderella stories in the (12) Houston Astros and (14) Baltimore Orioles. The backstopping darlings of the sabersphere (Wieters, Mauer) remain alive, to say nothing of the rangy (7) Mariners squad. SO! What will we see in today's action? Can Wieters and Mauer set the stage for a showdown that will surely be the end of us all? Will the Yankees continue their march of dominance? WE DON'T KNOW. Just kidding. We do. You don't. Yet. Games to 21, 2's and 3's, call own fouls and here...we...go.

Game 1: (1) New York Yankees vs. (5) Minnesota Twins
Players: Andrew Brackman/CC Sabathia vs. Joe Mauer/Pat Neshek

You know, the Yankees are a lot like the San Antonio Spurs in this business. We hope you'll ignore the cross-sport metaphor, considering that this whole thing is, you know, a cross-sport deal. In any event, they've got the David Robinson/Tim Duncan twin towers combo, their navy and white is more or less analogous to the Spurs' black and silver, and a title win by either feels more like a preordained event more than cause for celebration. It's a methodical march for these folks. So but then you can imagine the surprise when Sabathia goes all Tim Duncan and shoots 4-23 in a stunning display of selfishness and ineptitude considering that this is a game to 21. Sorry, boys, but you'll have to do better to beat Joe Mauer (the Kobe Bryant in the Yankees-Spurs analogy). Twins win, 21-17.

Game 2: (14) Baltimore Orioles vs. (7) Seattle Mariners
Players: Matt Wieters/Brian Matusz vs. Franklin Gutierrez/Milton Bradley

It's not too often that a 14/7 matchup features such elite talents. Neither team is to be trifled with, which we know is supposed to be said about all teams, but, well, some teams really suck (hi, KC!). But any team with Matt Wieters is a force, and any team featuring Franklin 'Death to Flying Things Jr.' Gutierrez is going to be a very tough out. So while they're low seeds, this isn't exactly an upset special - and neither team's trademarks of victory are going to work as well here. The chemistry between the Baltimore battery mates is impenetrable to Bradley's mercurial (we're legally required to say that word in any post where Bradley's name appears) nature, but the superb natural talents of Wieters is neutralized somewhat by Gutierrez's superhuman range around the court. The teams duel to an epic standstill - and at 50-50, both teams have had enough. So you know what's coming, of course: a shooting contest to determine the winner (no dunking). But after even that proves ineffective (it went on for hours and, while incredible to watch, also got repetitive), the teams decide that a sudden death point will win. They have a jump ball to determine who gets it first, which the Orioles win. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Bradley then tears an ACL arguing to the referee about the unfairness of the jump ball. Ironically, since we call our own fouls, Bradley was the ref - and, in fact, threw the jump ball in the first place. Poor guy. Orioles win, but we lost track of the score.

Oh, like there was any way we weren't going to have Mauer and Wieters facing off. Come on! Most exciting 5/14 matchup ever? Most exciting 5/14 matchup ever. Bracket time!


MLB Jam: NL Round 2

Sorry for the delay, folks. Let's pretend that it's because of...snowstorms! Yeah, that's it. No one could make it out to the court because there was just too much snow. Happens, y'know? In any event, let's get hoppin to make up for the delay. As always, games to 21, win by 2, 2's and 3's, call own fouls.

Game 1: (1) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. (9) Milwaukee Brewers
Players: Matt Kemp/Jon Broxton vs. Carlos Gomez/Yovani Gallardo

The famed OF/RHP combinations butt heads here, and like with the Brewers' first-round matchup, it really comes down to whether or not Carlos Gomez can use his speed to beat the burly Kemp/Broxton duo. Unfortunately, Kemp is far faster than Carlos Zambrano or Sean Marshall, and Jon Broxton...is a large man. Gallardo is effective from deep since Broxton can't close out on him, but Kemp shuts down Gomez and scores on a few sweet alley-oops. Dodgers win, 22-16.

Game 2: (4) St. Louis Cardinals vs. (12) Houston Astros
Players: Albert Pujols/Adam Wainwright vs. Michael Bourn/Evan Engelbrook

Oddsmakers loved the Cardinals before this one (what, what we have to make money off this somehow), by virtue of Mr. Pujols. But Michael Bourn had more success than Carlos Gomez with the speed game, since Matt Kemp is more fleet of foot than Pujols. The 6'9'' Engelbrook held it down on the blocks, blocking Wainwright time and time again, and a cold streak from Pujols saw his team down double digits early. But they came roaring back on the strength of a few three-pointers and timely boards to tie the game at 19. All the momentum was on the Cards' side...until Bourn crossed Pujols out of his shoes and hit a pretty finger roll for the shocking clincher. Astros win, 21-19.

Game 3: (3) Colorado Rockies vs. (11) San Diego Padres
Players: Dexter Fowler/Greg Reynolds vs. David Eckstein/Kyle Blanks

The Padres established themselves as a duo that was not to be trifled with in the wake of their 6/11 upset, and things started well for them again when Eckstein dove for consecutive loose balls and hit Blanks in the post for a quick four points. It was then that the Rockies realized the key to beating the Padres was simply to not let the ball hit the ground, thereby denying Eckstein the chance to show off his grit and determination. The Padres would never score again, and Greg Reynolds scored the last point after yo-yoing the ball over Eckstein's head like a cat toy. Because Greg's a dick. Rockies win, 21-4.

Game 4: (10) Cincinnati Reds vs. (2) Philadelphia Phillies
Players: Danny Ray-Herrera/Willy Taveras/Chris Sabo vs. Shane Victorino/Ryan Howard

The weirdness continues for the Reds, who, as you may remember, were forced to play sans Taveras and plus Sabo last round. Oddly, this worked, but after some hushed discussions and a few dollars changing hands, it was ruled that Sabo was ineligible as well, since he's as much a Red as Taveras. So Dr. H (get it??) had to go it alone, which wouldn't be so bad if he weren't 5'6'' in his Reebok Pumps (he's an old school doctor). Victorino and Howard make short work of the minute medicine man, but let's all consider it a victory for him that Herrera managed to throw one down over Howard's head. Sure, he was on Victorino's shoulders, but it was still touching. Phillies win, 21-2.

Well now if you don't think that was thrilling, you don't have a pulse. Never mind the fact that losing teams scored a combined 6 points in the last two games, if you don't mind - what matters is that we're down to the Elite 8 (trademarked? No? Good.) (but if it is, don't tell us). Not long to go now, folks! Allow us to play you out with the updated bracket:


MLB Jam: AL Round 2

Well we're through a full round of action in the vaunted MLB Jam tournament, so the field's starting to get whittled down (as opposed to the tournaments where more teams join as it goes on). Today is the first time that our top 2 seeds in the AL will get to take the court, as the Yankees and Angels were off cooling their heels while their potential opponents scrapped to the bitter end. Will they be too rusty to play up to their lofty ranking? ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT! You know the rules by now - games to 21, 2's and 3's, win by 2, call own fouls AND WE'RE OFF.

Game 1: (1) New York Yankees vs. (8) Tampa Bay Rays
Players: Andrew Brackman/CC Sabathia vs. Carl Crawford/Jeff Niemann

The Yankees have an enormous size advantage here, as Brackman is somewhere from 6'10'' - 7'0'' and Sabathia is...well, girthy. Crawford's the only real speedster on the court, though, so the Rays have that going for them. Unfortunately, it's not enough, as Sabathia displays the vaunted fat-guy-at-the-Y accuracy from deep that even today boggles the minds of our top scientific minds (or maybe just us) and goes on a 3-point spree that buries any hope the Rays had of upsetting the old guard. Yankees win, 21-12.

Game 2: (4) Texas Rangers vs. (5) Minnesota Twins
Players: Nelson Cruz/Elvis Andrus vs. Joe Mauer/Pat Neshek

Mauer Pauer, baby. The be-sideburned one celebrates the imminent signing of his 7 or 8 or 10 year deal by going buck wild on the formidable Rangers duo, nullifying the Rangers' significant size/athleticism advantages. There's just really  nothing you can do when he decides to turn it on like that, we guess. And, like last time, Mr. Neshek is permitted by the graces of Mr. Mauer to score a bucket...but only one. Twins win, 21-8.

Game 3: (14) Baltimore Orioles vs. (11) Toronto Blue Jays
Players: Matt Wieters/Brian Matusz vs. Mark Rzepczynski/Jason Frasor

We don't know what it is about supremely talented young catchers that inspires so much fanbole, but we're totally buying in. Much like with the Mauer Pauer Hauer that was on display in Game 2, Matt Wieters takes it upon himself to thoroughly dominate the Jays, despite their basketball pedigree (Frasor's brother) and superior fitness (Sztep with Rzep) (we can't believe he's not made that a real venture yet. There's money to be had, Mark!), and the O's cruise to a victory. The Wieters/Mauer showdown can't be far! Orioles win, 21-11.

Game 4: (7) Seattle Mariners vs. (2) Los Angeles Angels
Players: Milton Bradley/Franklin Gutierrez vs. Jered Weaver/Reggie Willits

The Mariners got by in Round 1 by virtue of the fact that everyone was terrified to foul Milton Bradley and Franklin Gutierrez utilized his defensive wizardry to haul down rebounds and block shots by the metric ton (just kidding...we don't use the metric system here). And, well, Jered Weaver and Reggie Willits aren't exactly the type to mess with that formula. Weaver's got the height, but his surfer bro mentality relegates him to outside shots and soft D, while Willits' speed proves of minimal effectiveness since Weaver never lets him have the ball - much like Mike Scioscia never lets him play. Remember what we said about fake sports imitating real life? Yeah. It's a bitch, huh, Reggie? Mariners win, 21-16.

So after the top half of the bracket went all chalk on us, we have the pleasure of a 7/14 matchup in the 3rd round. Such things will happen when the seedings are established entirely independently of actual basketball talent, we suppose, but either way it's kind of neat. Anyway, it's time for the updated bracket, and you can expect the NL's 2nd round either tomorrow or Friday depending on how motivated we get.


MLB Jam: NL 1st Round

After an action-packed first day of the epic tournament known far and wide as MLB Jam - and hopefully MLB Properties doesn't sue me for calling it that! - it's time for the senior circuit to have their day of first-round glory. And, hey, it comes on their 134th birthday! We've never been fond of postponing birthday celebrations, so let's get right to the hoopin' action. Games to 21, 2's and 3's, win by 2, call own fouls and we're off!

Game 1: (1) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. (16) Washington Nationals
Players: Matt Kemp/Jon Broxton vs. Adam Dunn/Nyjer Morgan

This game is probably the closest 1/16 matchup that's ever happened. You're essentially looking at the same team - Kemp and Morgan and Broxton and Dunn are essentially analogs. Morgan's got a big more speed than Kemp, but Broxton has a size (both height and weight) advantage on Dunn. Ultimately, though, we think Kemp channels some LeBron and drives the lane for a game-winner over Morgan. Dodgers win 21-19.

Game 2: (8) Chicago Cubs vs. (9) Milwaukee Brewers
Players: Carlos Zambrano/Sean Marshall vs. Carlos Gomez/Yovani Gallardo

Lots of Latin flavor in this matchup! Zambrano and Marshall are a fairly plodding group, while Gomez is one of the fastest players in the league. We think Gomez does a little A.I. impression, scampering all over the court underneath and around Big Z and Medium M. Yovani hits a three-ball here and there to keep them balanced, and the Brewers cruise. Brewers win 21-14.

Game 3: (4) St. Louis Cardinals vs. (13) New York Mets
Players: Albert Pujols/Adam Wainwright vs. Gary Matthews, Jr/Mike Pelfrey

Matthews is old and washed-up and Pelfrey is tall. Pujols is a Hall of Famer in his prime and Wainwright is tall. You can guess what happens here. Cardinals win 21-6.

Game 4: (5) San Francisco Giants vs. (12) Houston Astros
Players: Pablo Sandoval/Tim Lincecum vs. Michael Bourn/Evan Engelbrook

Shocking that the Giants pulled a 5 seed, we know. Also shocking is the inclusion of Engelbrook, whose existence remains unconfirmed to us. But if the man exists, he stands a whopping 6'8'', which we're fairly sure (we don't believe in research, so you can fact check this yourself) is taller than Sandoval and Lincecum put together. Plus, neither Sandoval nor Lincecum is capable of keeping up with Bourn's wheels. And, if you like cheap shot jokes, feel free to imagine Lincecum taking a mid-game smoke break then partaking in a team buffet with the Panda. Whether you do or not, the game doesn't go well for the Giants. Astros win, 21-10.

Game 5: (3) Colorado Rockies vs. (14) Arizona Diamondbacks
Players: Dexter Fowler/Greg Reynolds vs. Justin Upton/Dan Haren

Another matchup where the two teams are very even. Fowler and Upton are both uber-athletic guys, and Reynolds and Haren are both commanding post presences. Well, you know, for purposes of this game, they are. Buuut the Rockies do enjoy a size advantage here, with the 6'4'' Fowler and 6'7'' Reynolds both standing taller than their respective analogs, which is the difference in a tight contest. Rockies win, 21-17.

Game 6: (6) Florida Marlins vs. (11) San Diego Padres
Players: Josh Johnson/Sean West vs. Kyle Blanks/David Eckstein

The Marlins are, collectively, the tallest team in this contest by a long shot, with their guys measuring in at 6'7'' and 6'8'' respectgively. Blanks, however, is also 6'7'' and is relatively speedy for a 300 pounder. Plus...he's got an afro that clearly channels the spirit of Dr. J. Shockingly, the modestly-sized-if-we're-being-kind Eckstein grits and grinds and hustles his way to 15 of the team's 21 points, and dives for no fewer than 26 loose balls. What a gamer, that guy. Makes even us abandon the height favoritism we showed in just the last capsule we wrote. Padres win, 22-18.

Game 7: (7) Atlanta Braves vs. (10) Cincinnati Reds
Players: Tommy Hanson/Yunel Escobar vs. Danny Ray-Herrera/Willy Taveras/Chris Sabo

Ooof...and this is why you don't set lineups early. Since Taveras was traded - and DFA'd - yesterday, he is no longer eligible to play. But then! Just when DRH is getting ready to play singlehanded, who should walk through the door but Chris Sabo! The onetime Red with the goofy goggles, Sabo's inspiring entrance completely deflates the Braves squad - particularly since the goggles rend Sabo invincible to Escobar's mounting frustrations and cheap shots. Esco eventually storms off the court in anger, leaving Hanson to fend for himself. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't go well. Reds win, 21-11.

Game 8: (2) Philadelphia Phillies vs. (15) Pittsburgh Pirates
Players: Shane Victorino/Ryan Howard vs. Andrew McCutchen/Garrett Jones

Easily the most entertaining contest of the first round, Victorino and McCutchen trade running floaters and in the lane and dazzling moves on the perimeter while Howard and Jones counter with jump hooks, ferocious dunks, and powerfully swatted shots. Victorino earns his nickname in overtime, though, as the Hawaiian-bred baller flies over McCutchen's head for a posterizing finish to an epic battle. Phillies win, 30-27.

So let's check out that bracket now:

Lookin good! And a couple of big upsets, to boot - how 'bout that Eckstein fellow! First round MVP, eh? Tomorrow we'll have a couple of exciting divisional matchups in the AL side...can the upstart Rays topple the formidable Yankees? Can Seattle dethrone the Angels? We'll be on hand to tell you exactly what happens in those battles and more!


MLB Jam: Bracket and AL Round 1

Perhaps because we have entirely too much time on our hands or perhaps because, hey, who doesn't like brackets?, we've now made a bracket for the MLB Jam business we've been bandying on about around these parts. Seeding was determined based on the team's performance relative to their league; the Yankees, for example, are the 1 seed in the AL because they had the AL's best record. Oh, and they get a bye (as do the Angels) because there're 14 teams in the American League for reasons unbeknownst to us...but at least it's easier to make brackets for 14 and 16 team leagues instead of 15. Yikes. Can you even imagine? And then, of course, we're going to play out this imaginary tournament. Because that's how committed we are to our readers (especially the one from Korea! Hi!). Here're the AL's first 6 games, after which our shiny new bracket will be unveiled! Rules: games to 21, 2's and 3's, win by 2, call your own fouls. Whee!

Game 1: (8) Tampa Bay Rays vs. (9) Chicago White Sox
The players:  Carl Crawford/Jeff Niemann vs. Brent Lillibridge and John Danks

It looks like this game features an egregious underseed in the Rays, who boast the athleticism of Carl Crawford and the 6'9''-ism of Jeff Niemann. Anyway, Niemann should easily handle Danks down low, but Lillibridge's strategy of falling over and calling a foul every time Crawford gets close to him keeps the Sox in the game...for awhile. Eventually, Crawford stops playing any offense whatsoever and just passes to Niemann for the easy buckets. Rays win, 21-16.

Game 2:  (4) Texas Rangers vs. (13) Kansas City Royals
The players: Nelson Cruz/Elvis Andrus vs. Yuniesky Betancourt/Jason Kendall

Erm...it seems odd to call a team at 13 an overseed, but, well, we did sort of intentionally make them the worst pairing in the tournament. So, we mean, come on, who picks these seeds? The Rangers are small, but the Royals are bad. Fans of first-round upsets (see also: people who enjoy puppies and sunshine) should avoid their eyes. Rangers win, 21-2 (Yuni lucked into an easy putback, much the same way he's been lucking into major league employment).

Game 3: (5) Minnesota Twins vs. (12) Cleveland Indians
The players: Joe Mauer/Pat Neshek vs. Fausto Carmona/Justin Masterson

This game could be close despite the presence of Joe Mauer since the Indians boast a sizable size advantage. We need to pick our adjectives better. Anyway, Fausto's run at the point starts out looking promising, as he threads the needle with some gorgeous passes, and shows deadly accuracy from 3 point land. But then, in a tragic case of fake sports imitating real sports, his control goes horribly awry - and Justin Masterson alone is no match for Joe Mauer. And, yes, Pat Neshek managed to score some points - but only because Mauer encouraged him to so he wouldn't feel bad. Twins win, 21-15.

Game 4: (3) Boston Red Sox vs. (14) Baltimore Orioles
The players: Dustin Pedroia/Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Matt Wieters/Brian Matusz

The chemistry of Wieters and Matusz stands in stark contrast to the constant bickering happening on the Red Sox squad, as Ellsbury (presumably a decent human being) can't stand Pedroia. Their arguments are punctuated by Pedroia making an Indian joke at Ellsbury's expense, followed by Ellsbury firing a bullet pass at Pedroia's head. Since Pedroia can't catch up with the high-n-in fastball, the ball catches him squarely in the nose, and the game is promptly called so the court can be mopped up. Wieters saves his inevitable heroics for another day. Orioles win by default, 9-5.  

Game 5: (6) Detroit Tigers vs. (11) Toronto Blue Jays
The players:  Justin Verlander/Rick Porcello vs. Mark Rzepczynski/Jason Frasor

Hey, an all-pitcher battle! Neat! Porcello and Verlander are tall, but as pitchers, are barely even athletes. Jason Frasor, as a pitcher, is barely an athlete, but he's got the Bobby Frasor Basketball Blood (that's how these things work, right?) and Rzep of course, bucks the trend by being in phenomenal shapeBlue Jays win, 21-10.

Game 6: (7) Seattle Mariners vs. (10) Oakland A's
The players: Milton Bradley/Franklin Gutierrez vs. Jack Cust/Jerry Blevins

Bradley, as predicted, goes the entire game without being fouled once, since Cust and Blevins are both terrified of him. With Bradley free to drive the lane every time and Gutierrez corralling every rebound and tip and swatting shots left and right, the Mariners make this game is a laugher - especially when Cust stops to take a smoke break midway through the game. Hi-larious, we tell you. Mariners win, 21-4.

Not exactly the most exciting first round, but, hey, a 14 over a 3 always makes for good fun!  Plus, we don't know about you, but the bracket just warms the heart anyway - which is certainly welcome in the frigid February days.


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