The Evster figures out who you should root for in the MLB playoffs

The Evster figures out who you should root for in the MLB playoffs

Even though most baseball fans could not tell you one player on the Oakland A's, people are going bonkers for this year's major league playoffs. Of the four teams left (the Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox and Tigers), all are legitimate clubs with rich histories, dope uniforms and no Chad Durbins. It's nice that we get to see October baseball without any of those newfangled weirdo teams like the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins and Mets.

Who should we root for? I have no idea. Absolutely no idea. Up until a week ago I would've said the Montreal Expos, but since then I've seen a couple walk-off homers, a near no-hitter and a guy that looks and plays exactly like Shane Victorino. After a 162-game regular season snooze-a-thon, postseason baseball has roped me back in. So let's break down each club: analyzing their fans, their cities, their history and the guys who actually play baseball -- and then finally let my wife decide who we should root for because let's face it, she makes all of my important life decisions anyway.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Fans: The self-proclaimed "Best Fans in Baseball" are always optimistic, eternally loyal and absolutely insufferable. Every person from the Midwest is so nice it's disgusting. This lady Beverly who I work with (originally from Iowa, or Indiana, or some place where people drink milk with dinner) constantly brings baked goods into the office and leaves these little notes that say stuff like, "From my kitchen to your belly! Have a Terrific Tuesday!" and "Got the working week blues? Here's to a Wonderful Wednesday!" WHATEVER BEV, YOU NYMPH. 

The City: I don't know one human being who has technically been to St. Louis -- except for the Griswolds ("Roll 'em up!") who passed through on the way to Wally World. The town is a total snooze. Besides the Gateway Arch, the Mighty Mississipp and Anheuser Busch's headquarters, what do they have? NOTHING. Actually, they have really good ribs there too. And Darius Miles. Wow, St. Louis might be amazing. No wonder Scott Rolen wanted to go back there. 

Celebrity Fan: Jon Hamm is originally from St. Louis, but he's currently recovering from throat surgery so I doubt he'll make it to any of the games. Behind him on the Cards' fans depth chart is Maya Angelou (borrrrinnngggg), Scott Bakula (amazzzzinnnggggg), Chuck Berry (still alive!), Nelly (corny), Andy Cohen (nope!) and Tina Turner (BING BONG).

Coolest Cardinal Ever: Obviously Ozzie Smith is the man, but Vince Coleman and Keith Hernandez did way more coke than The Wizard and we all know that doing tons of coke = being really cool. But the coolest Cardinal of all time, despite his lack of a coke habit, is Willie McGee. Two-time batting champ, 1985 NL MVP and the closest thing the game has ever seen to a half-man/half-anteater. Love you Willie! Love those ears! Love that you wore #51! What a stupid number.

People Who Actually Play Baseball: The Cards are loaded with players you've actually heard of: Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Oneofthe Molinas, as well as the person with the shortest name in the history of names, Jon Jay. Try saying his name out loud: "JonJay." It's even shorter than Mark May. "JonJay." "MarkMay." "JonJay!" "MarkMay." "JonJay!" "MarkM'okay that's enough." Also their first baseman Matt Adams easily weighs over 400 pounds. This team is super adorable.

Let's kick it over to my wife to see what she thinks of St. Louis.

My Wife's Take: "Never been there, it's probably a fine place. Whatever. But I never liked how people who went to Washington University thought they were so great. Maybe it was just one person. It’s been pointed out to me that Jon Hamm is a fan, and any reason to see more of him is okay with me, so I’m pulling for St. Louis to get to the World Series and lose."

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Fans: An entire population of good-looking idiots trying to break into reality television. (SHAMELESS PLUG WORTH CLICKING ON). I was in LA last March and while strolling on the boardwalk/promenade/whatever they call that thing along Venice Beach, I overheard this ridiculous conversation between a chick rollerblading and a dude doing pushups with no shirt on: 

CHICK: Oh, hey Brad.

DUDE: Oh, hey Jen. Whutt're you up to?

CHICK: Oh, y'know, just rollerblading.

DUDE: That's cool.

I honestly don't remember what happened next. My mind was so blown away by how stupid their conversation was (PLUS THE FACT THAT SHE WAS ACTUALLY ROLLERBLADING) that I just stood there for ten minutes with my mouth open, catching flies. And Venice Beach has a lot of flies (and a lot of homeless people). Californians are nimrods. Mexicans are cool, though. I'll give 'em that.

The City: If you can overlook the glitz and the glamour and the fact that Californians use the word "rad" unironically, LA is actually a pretty cool town. It's got loads of palm trees and a beautiful ocean and the tacos are absolutely insane. Still, all that sun can't be good for anything. Look what it did to Will Smith.

Celebrity Fan: Alyssa Milano has dated like 50 different baseball players. Frankly, I always thought she was a bit overrated (not during the Who's the Boss days, obviously she was dope during the Who's the Boss days). But recently she's been getting out-Alyssa Milano'ed by Brooke Burke, who is essentially the same person. I also have no idea how Magic Johnson is still alive.

People Who Actually Play Baseball: Do you have any idea how low Clayton Kershaw's ERA was this year? Do you have any clue? 1.83. ONE POINT EIGHT THREE. Is ERA still a thing? Because that's really low. Since 1964, only Greg Maddux, Dwight Gooden, Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Ron Guidry, Vida Blue and Pedro Martinez have posted lower ERAs. (SOMEONE SHOULD PROBABLY FACT CHECK THAT BUT I'M PRETTY PROUD OF MYSELF FOR DOING ACTUAL RESEARCH.) The Dodgers also have Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, that Cuban guy, Zack Greinke, Brian Wilson, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, GEEZ THEY SURE DO HAVE A LOT OF GOOD PLAYERS, and Nick Punto.

Coolest Dodger Ever: It's Kirk Gibson. No doubt. His spiky, balding hairdo? Unstoppable. Forget about his walk-off blast vs. Eck, only he and Bruce Willis could've pulled off that hair. Also that walk-off!

Back to my wife!

My Wife's Take: "Eh, it’s LA. A place I would never want to live, and philosophically can’t support. So I can’t really get behind the team. But more importantly, the combination of sounds in Yasiel Puig’s name really gets to me and I don’t want to listen to people making those sounds with their mouths."

BOSTON RED SOX

Fans: Amazing how in one short decade, Boston fans went from lovable losers to intolerable pricks. "Boston Strong?" Shut up. Between their stupid accents and this dude I know who posts pics on Facebook of his fat, dumb baby, Boston fans might be (and I said "MIGHT BE") worse than Cowboys fans. HOW ABOUT THAT, 700 LEVEL READERS?

The City: Beautiful city! Clean, colonial cobblestone streets, extremely walkable downtown, charming parks and gardens -- it's a shame it's filled with so many blowhards.

Celebrity Fan: You do realize that at some point in the next few days we're going to see Ben Affleck and his kids on TV, right? I don't know why Ben Affleck has such a bad rep, he seems to be a nice guy, makes semi-decent movies and genuinely likes baseball. But why doesn't he ever hang out with Matt Damon? Something's not right there. And what's the deal with Stephen King's ENORMOUS cranium? Something's not right there either.

Coolest Red Sox Player Ever: Shane Victorino.

People Who Actually Play Baseball: Big Papi, Victorino and those two Japanese relievers are the only cool guys on this team. Everyone else -- especially Dustin Pedroia -- can take a shit. Also, I don't care who pays his salary, Jonathan Papelbon will always be a Red Sock to me, and that guy sucksssssssss.

Let's hear from Mrs. Evster!

My Wife's Take: "Obvs, ugh. Full disclosure, I’m a Yankees fan. And not a bandwagon Yankees fan. My dad grew up next to the stadium, I’m from NY, and I own a Yankees (and Knicks) Barbie. So, no I don’t want to watch the Red Sox and they annoy me. But it really comes down to their sloppiness, sartorially speaking. They pride themselves on being the anti-Yankees when it comes to beards, hair length, uniform tightness, etc. But you know what? That doesn’t make you cool – it just makes you look dirty and gross. And I have nothing against beards, in fact I prefer them. But these beards, and greasy hair, and stupid rope necklaces need to go."

I agree, honey. Sartorially of course.

Anyone else have to look that word up? Who am I even talking to?

DETROIT TIGERS

Fans: AN ENTIRE CITY ON SUICIDE WATCH. 

The City: The Motor City has become the undeniable armpit of America. There's a chance Detroit has been on fire for the last six months and no one is doing anything to stop it.

Celebrity Fans: It's a shame the A's lost, because Oakland has a major hip-hop triumvirate: MC Hammer, Del tha Funkee Homosapien and wait for it ... Tony! Toni! Toné! Detroit of course has the most embarrassing musician of all time, Kid Rock, as well the best rapper alive, Jalen Rose.

Coolest Tiger Ever: No disrespect to the original Beastie Boy, Hank Greenberg, but Miguel Cabrera is the coolest Tiger ever. I know, I know, "BUT WHAT ABOUT LOU WHITAKER, EV?" Sure, Sweet Lou and his little dipsy-do double plays were unbelievable, but Miguel Cabrera WON THE TRIPLE CROWN last year! I do not understand why we're still not talking about that. Every single day the lead story on The 700 Level should be "Hey everybody, remember when Miggy Cabrera won the Triple Crown last year?" HE LED THE LEAGUE IN ALL THREE MAJOR STATISTICAL CATEGORIES. Not even Hank Greenberg or Ty Cobb or RECORD SKIP -- (fact check shows that Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown in 1909) -- WHATEVER, TY COBB! No one could stand you when you were alive! So stick it!

People Who Actually Play Baseball: Am I the only person who is fascinated by Max Scherzer's two different colored eyes? The other night they showed him in the dugout and I paused my DVR for like a half an hour to stare at him. I would also pay big bucks to watch Prince Fielder eat a meatball hoagie. And Justin Verlander has the tightest little apple butt I've ever seen.

Over to you, honeybutt!

My Wife's Take: "Now here's a team I can get behind. Great history, like a “real” baseball team from days of yore. Great hats. Sad city. That's who I'm goin' with. The Dee-troit Tigers."

ME TOO, LOVEBUG.

Let's go Tigers!

Hooray for baseball!

Hooray for marriage!

Sorry, Tony Toni Toné, Motown Philly back again!

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

CSN NBA Insiders: Raptors win trade deadline, Lakers heading for lottery

CSN NBA Insiders: Raptors win trade deadline, Lakers heading for lottery

AN ARENA NEAR YOU –  The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, so the rosters you see now are pretty much what you’re going to see for the rest of the season.

Of course there will be some teams that will bolster their roster via buyout candidates, but most of those players will have a very defined and to a greater extent, limited role with whatever new team they sign with for the rest of this season.

So who were the winners and losers during this now-completed trade season?

Our CSN Insiders examine which franchises really cleaned up during the trade season, and which teams got taken to the cleaners, in addition to looking at a few teams that struck gold during the buyout season, as well as some that stood pat and why that was a good — or not so good — idea.

We start off north of the border where Toronto pulled off a pair of trades that in the eyes of many league executives and coaches, probably addressed their biggest needs going forward and should solidify them as a top-four team in the East with the potential to now go as high as the number two spot.

CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely takes a closer look at the Raptors deal, how it paid off almost immediately and what it means for the Eastern Conference going forward.

Trade Deadline Winners
Toronto 
By adding Serge Ibaka, the Raptors were able to address the increasingly obvious need for them to upgrade their power forward position. Ibaka was traded from Oklahoma City to Orlando because they didn’t want to pay him a near-max salary this summer. And the Magic, realizing he wasn’t a good fit for them going forward, cut ties just months after acquiring him.

Playing with the Raptors has Ibaka in a familiar position, one that he enjoyed years of success in with the Thunder. Back then, it was Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s team, with Ibaka as a really good No. 3 guy. In Toronto, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are Ibaka’s Durant-Westbrook all over again and that’s a good thing. In his first game as a Raptor, Ibaka had 15 points and seven rebounds in Toronto’s win over Boston.

Considering Ibaka was going to be a player Toronto planned to pursue this summer when he becomes a free agent, acquiring him now makes the Raptors the odds-on favorite to sign him.

He wasn’t the only new guy for Toronto that gave the Celtics problems.

P.J. Tucker, acquired from the Phoenix Suns, had a near double-double against Boston with nine points and 10 rebounds.

The numbers they put up help, but even more important is they provide a heightened level of toughness which multiple league executives and coaches that CSNNE.com has talked with since all-star weekend, said was sorely lacking on their roster.

If the Raptors manage to climb the Eastern Conference standings and play their way into a deep postseason run, these two trades will be seen as instrumental in making that happen. — by A. Sherrod Blakely

Houston 
The Rockets bolstered their playoff push in a single trade by landing former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams from the Lakers. They sent Corey Brewer and a first round pick to Los Angeles in the deal. Williams gives the Rockets another high-scoring guard to complement James Harden and Eric Gordon. The addition of Williams’ instant spark off the bench can make a difference in the grind of a postseason series. — by Jessica Camerato

Lakers
They traded their most effective player, sixth-man Lou Williams, for Corey Brewer and Houston’s unprotected first-round draft pick. The biggest upside might be that the loss of Williams makes LA an even weaker team and therefore improves its own draft positioning. If the Lakers continue on the lottery-bound path they are on, it would mark the fourth consecutive season they will have a lottery (top-14) selection. — by Monte Poole

Thunder
OKC needed a shake up if they had any hope of making noise in the postseason. They traded two young players in Joffrey Lauvergne and Cameron Payne, along with veteran Anthony Morrow, to the Bulls for Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a second-round pick.

McDermott instantly improves the small forward position for Oklahoma, giving them a high end shooting option for Russell Westbrook to kick to. Gibson is a solid veteran big that defends and rebounds either as a starter or off the bench.

The Thunder gave up two young pieces in the deal, but they are in “win now” mode as they try to move up in the Western Conference standings. And while there were certainly more high-profile moves made at the trade deadline, the Thunder can now set their sights on being more than just a team in the playoffs. These additions give them the kind of depth that’s required in the postseason to potentially knock off a higher-seeded team. — by James Ham

Magic
If you factor in all that the Magic gave up to acquire Serge Ibaka, only to trade him away for a good but not great player in Terrence Ross, there’s not a lot to like about the deal, right?

Not true.

Trading away Ibaka on many levels was a classic example of addition by subtraction.

The trade of Ibaka has allowed the Magic to play Aaron Gordon at his correct position at power forward.

The glut of forwards/centers had coach Frank Vogel trying to force Gordon to play at small forward which didn’t suit his strengths. He lacks the ball-handling and shooting to make that a natural transition.

“Everybody is now in their right position,” Vogel said. “Aaron being a four is better for him. He did well at the three defensively, but he’s better at the four.” — by J. Michael

Wizards
The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic isn’t the sexiest deal to be swung during this trade season, but it meets what has clearly been one of Washington’s biggest weaknesses – depth.

Specifically, Washington needed to add a scorer off the bench, which is exactly what Bogdanovic has the skills and talent to provide.

The Wizards haven’t ruled out another move in the free-agent market to help with the bench with a possible playoff run looming.

Trey Burke hasn’t been adequate as John Wall’s backup, Tomas Satoransky might not be ready for the role yet and Kelly Oubre hasn’t done the job behind Otto Porter.
The next move, if there is one, could be for the best player available but a creator with the second unit is desperately needed. — by J. Michael

Trade Deadline Losers
Kings
The Sacramento Kings hit a hard reset button on All-Star Sunday, dealing center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a package that included rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a first and second round pick.

Sacramento received below market value for their franchise cornerstone and started a youth movement that was long overdue. They now have four first round picks from the 2016 NBA Draft and potentially two first round picks in the highly touted 2017 NBA draft.

The Kings sat just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase at the time of the move. They have been raked over the coals in the media for their handling of Cousins, including making promises to not only keep the star big, but hand him a $219 million extension this summer. They chose to reboot the franchise, calling for an improved culture. — by James Ham

Clippers
Their pursuit of another wing shooter came up empty, as did their perpetual search for a legitimate small forward. On the other hand, as a group that has been crippled by injuries to key players, they’ll be happy to have a healthy starting five once Chris Paul is back and effective. — by Monte Poole

Knicks
So, the Knicks are all still there. Between Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, at points leading up to the deadline it seemed like a player could be on the move. In the end, the team remained intact. No better, no worse, just the same. Which in this season, the same isn’t necessarily the best outcome. New York needed to make a move to shake up a roster that’s once again underachieving. No one expected the Knicks to be among the top three or four clubs, but they were seen at the very least as a legit playoff contender. Of course there’s still time for them to get back in the postseason picture. But with all the drama surrounding this team, it’s unlikely their direction will change anytime soon which means another season ending without a playoff berth. — by Jessica Camerato

Celtics
This team has been fireworks-in-waiting for years now, seemingly on the cusp of a big deal that ultimately turns into a big dud. It’s hard to be critical of a team that has endured as many injuries as they have this season and still find themselves in second place behind the NBA defending champion.

Because of their lofty position, the Celtics’ focus was primarily on landing a major player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George.

The Celtics struck out on both of those guys and wound up keeping their current roster intact.

Adding insult to injury, two players – Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker – were both players Boston was in the mix for in terms of signing only to get serious love from Toronto which traded for both players. When the Celtics opened their post All-Star break portion of the schedule in Toronto, Ibaka and Tucker were huge factors in the game’s outcome. The Celtics did try to get in on acquiring the soon-to-be bought out Andrew Bogut only to learn that he’s likely signing with Cleveland. — by A. Sherrod Blakely

Buyout Winner 
Cavaliers
Indeed, the rich will get richer in the East with the Cavaliers on the cusp of adding both Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams who became unrestricted free agents. Bogut has reportedly reached a buyout after he was traded to Philadelphia from Dallas, while Williams was waived by the Mavericks when they could not find a partner to swing a trade for his services.

With Bogut, the Cavs add one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. Injuries have limited his impact this season, but the load he’ll be asked to carry is relatively small compared to what the former No. 1 overall pick has been tasked with elsewhere.

As for Williams, he gives them a ready-to-roll backup point guard. When Kyrie Irving takes a rest, LeBron James has often been shifted to being the primary ball-handler. But the addition of Williams gives the Cavs another choice coming off the bench of a player who has played this game for a while and has a solid understanding of how to run a team effectively. — by A. Sherrod Blakely

Hawks: Schroder off to rough start after All-star break
When the Hawks opted to move on from Jeff Teague, the assumption was that Dennis Schroder was ready to be the starting point guard.

Coming out of the All-Star break, Schroder has served a one-game suspension for not reporting to the team on time, and then was benched for the first half of the next game because he missed the team bus.

Going into Monday, the Hawks had a three-game losing streak, losing by a total of 53 points.

“We continue to hold our entire roster, all of our players, accountable,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Our culture is important to us. Respect for your teammates is important to us. That’s our job and that’s our organization’s job is to continue to build on our culture.” — by J. Michael

MLB Notes: Josh Hamilton undergoes knee surgery

MLB Notes: Josh Hamilton undergoes knee surgery

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton has had another surgery on his balky left knee, ending any chance of the 2010 AL MVP making the Texas Rangers' opening day roster.

The arthroscopic procedure Monday was to repair some damaged meniscus cartilage in his left knee. There were no issues with the surgically repaired ACL in that knee.

Hamilton had left spring training in Arizona and returned to Houston for the second time in less than a week to be examined by Dr. Walt Lowe, who also performed Hamilton's season-ending surgery last June.

The latest knee procedure is the 11th in Hamilton's career, and the third since the 35-year-old slugger last played in the majors in 2015.

Hamilton, in camp on a minor league contract, faces six weeks of rehabilitation before he will be able to start running again.

Orioles: Bourn broke finger during football drill
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Baltimore outfielder Michael Bourn hasn't played football since his sophomore year in high school. But it's a pigskin injury that's preventing him from playing this spring for the Orioles.

On Friday, the speedy 34-year-old broke his right ring finger catching a football at a workout. Bourn, who signed a minor league contract on Feb. 20, will be out for four weeks, making it difficult for him to be ready for Baltimore's April 3 opener. He'll make $2 million if he's put on the 40-man roster.

Bourn has difficult competition. Another veteran major league outfielder, Craig Gentry, signed two days before, plus the Orioles want to take long looks at Rule 5 outfielders Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez. Joey Rickard, a Rule 5 pick who played with the team last season, is also a serious contender.

Because he signed late, Bourn hadn't played.

"I was ready to go and pretty much ready to get into games the next couple days and now I've got to wait a about four weeks to heal. I want it to heal correctly but I want to push it, too. There's really nothing I can do about it," he said. (see full story)

Indians: Kipnis sidelined by shoulder injury
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has a rotator cuff strain and will stop throwing for a couple days.

Kipnis got a cortisone shot on Saturday, and manager Terry Francona didn't sound very worried about the situation.

"If it was during the season we wouldn't do anything," Francona said before Sunday's spring game against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa. "There's so much time to get ready that to kind of put a Band-Aid on it now didn't seem to make sense."

The 29-year-old Kipnis hit .275 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs last season, helping Cleveland to the AL Central title. He added four more homers and eight RBIs in the playoffs as the Indians made it all the way to the World Series before losing to the Cubs in seven games.

Kipnis had been on a shoulder program.

"I would say probably eight out of 10 guys, as they get their arms loose, you feel something," Francona said. "You throw through stuff and you get through the aches and pains of getting back, but then when there is some history there, you just try to use good judgment.

"He can do all his cardio and everything and all that stuff, but throwing is shut down for four to five days. I don't think he's going to hit today."

The Indians also announced left-hander Tim Cooney will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks because of a muscle strain in his arm. Cooney went 1-0 with a 3.16 ERA in six starts with St. Louis last season and was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals in November.

"Originally, they thought it was forearm," Francona said. "It's lower than that. By all accounts, it is an extremely unique area."