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!

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