Behind the Seams with Blake: Unexpected MLB Team Records So Far in 2021

These teams have surprised viewers thus far in the 2021 baseball season, posting win/loss records that aren’t in line with preseason predictions.

What’s going on readers! No really…what’s going on here? Who had the Reds being one of the hottest teams and the Orioles sweeping their opening series against the Red Sox on their 2021 MLB Bingo card? Who thought the Braves would begin the season by losing their first 4 games and the As would start out 1-7? Nobody. In this post, I will chronicle how the Reds, Braves, and Athletics got to their current records and explain whether I think their performance trends will continue in the same fashion for the entirety of the season.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have begun the season on fire offensively, averaging 9.5 runs per game, en route to a NL Central leading 5-1 record through their first 6 games of the season. Key players on offense have been top prospect 2B Jonathan India, RF Nick Castellanos (pictured above), and LF Tyler Naquin. Interestingly, Naquin was initially in the lineup just to fill in for regular LF Jesse Winker, but if Naquin continues hitting like he is (.316, 4 HRs in 19 ABs) I’d imagine the Reds will have a tough time deciding who to start in left once they are both fully healthy. The Reds have also gotten solid performances from 4 of their 5 starting pitchers through their first go-around in the rotation, with only their ace Luis Castillo (no, not the Marlins infielder from the Steve Bartman game) struggling so far this year. Now for the real question, is this sustainable? No, a team cannot average 9.5 runs per game through an entire season, as it’s the nature of the game for players to get into hitting slumps throughout the course of the season. The Reds can hope that their best hitters alternate times to go into slumps to avoid completely shutting off on offense for prolonged stretches of the season. Additionally, the team lacks proven starters in their rotation beyond ace Luis Castillo, as the rest of the rotation consists of 34-year-old Wade Miley, back of rotation starter Tyler Mahle, and 2 of the best starting pitching prospects of 2016 who’ve struggled to this point in the big leagues, Jeff Hoffman and Jose De Leon. It’s been entertaining to see the Reds showing a lot of fight to start the season (pun intended), but I still ultimately see the Cardinals winning the NL Central this season.

Atlanta Braves: Starting out the season 0-4, the Braves picked up their first 2 wins of the season on Wednesday, winning both games of a doubleheader against the Nats. The team has been shaky all around to start the season, as Ronald Acuna is the only player on offense who is not struggling to a certain extent. Top 2020 starting pitcher Max Fried has struggled in his first 2 starts of the season, and the back end of the bullpen hasn’t been a sure thing to this point either. Regardless of their struggles early on, I believe the Braves will turn their season around quickly and find themselves in the hunt for the NL East title once again, as they have so much young talent on their roster to go with several veteran players who have been on playoff-caliber teams already in their careers.

Oakland Athletics: It’s been pretty painful to watch As games thus far, as they have been quite pitiful though their first 8 games of the season, falling to a 1-7 record and landing at the bottom of the AL West division standings to start the season. Their franchise cornerstone Matts with the Bats; Matt Chapman and Olson have scuffled offensively to start the season. Additionally, the starting rotation has been awful, with nobody having an ERA lower than 5. The As have also experienced misfortune on the injury front, with offseason signee and expected closer Trevor Rosenthal having to undergo Thoracic Outlet Surgery, one of the hardest procedures to come back from (for example, Matt Harvey). The As will now have to figure out who is going to close games for them this season while also correcting their issues with starting pitching and hitting. Perhaps replacing shortstop Marcus Semien with the aging Elvis Andrus in the offseason will have a more negative impact than the organization anticipated. I predict it will be more difficult for the Athletics to right the ship than the Braves, as the Oakland squad has many more question marks at the moment. I’d expect to see them third in the AL West standings behind the Astros and Angels when it’s all said and done. 

Written by: Blake Koziel 

Photo Source: Red Reporter


Remembering Coach Marty Schottenheimer

NFL head coaching legend Marty Schottenheimer passed away Monday, February 8, 2021, in North Carolina at the age of 77.

Schottenheimer is best known for his winning record as a head coach for the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, and San Diego Chargers.

It was announced via tweet by Chris Mortensen that Schottenheimer had passed away with his family by his side. In 2014 Schottenheimer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease which he continued to battle for the next seven years.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of tweet from @mortreport announcing Marty Shottenheimer passing.

Born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania September 23, 1943, Schottenheimer grew up playing football and was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills in the 1965 AFL draft. Schottenheimer played linebacker for the Buffalo Bills and Boston Patriots, he played five years in the league and retired at just 27 years old.

After his playing career Schottenheimer began his coaching career as a linebackers coach for the New York Giants in 1975 but was promoted to defensive coordinator in just two years. After just three years with the Giants Schottenheimer became the new linebackers coach for the Detroit Lions. After two years with the Lions, he was hired as the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.

Schottenheimer spent four years as the Browns defensive coordinator in 1984 the Browns decided to fire their head coach and promote Schottenheimer mid-season, the Browns would miss the playoffs in 1984 but ended with a winning record. As head coach for the Browns Schottenheimer had an impressive 44-27 record. Schottenheimer turned the team around and made the playoffs all four times as the year-long head coach for the team.

On January 24, 1989, was hired to be the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. In just his first year the Chiefs had a winning record but missed the playoffs for just the first time as the season-long head coach. After making the playoffs in 1990, 1991, and 1992 the Chiefs traded for Hall of Famer Joe Montana. Schottenheimer continued to win and make the playoffs, in 1994 Schottenheimer and Montana led an overtime comeback against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 10 seasons with the Chiefs Schottenheimer only missed the playoffs four times and finished with an overall record of 101-58-1.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Montana from KC Star File Photo

Although he still hadn’t made it to the big game Schottenheimer proved he was a winner and was known for bringing his winning mindset to the field. After the 1998 season Schottenheimer retired to join ESPN as an analyst but couldn’t sit in the booth for too long. Schottenheimer was hired as the head coach for the Redskins, with the Redskins Schottenheimer became the first coach to win five games straight after losing their first five games. The Redskins narrowly missed the playoffs and Schottenheimer was fired after an 8-8 season but wasn’t done coaching in the NFL.

Schottenheimer was known for a style of football coined “Marty Ball” which he brought to each team he coached. Schottenheimer then landed in sunny San Diego, but success didn’t come right away. In his first two seasons, Schottenheimer missed the playoffs, in 2004 the Chargers led by Schottenheimer and Drew Brees made the playoffs but would eventually lose to the New York Jets in the AFC Wild Card game. Schottenheimer would make the playoffs again in 2006, this time with Phillip Rivers at the QB position. Schottenheimer and the Chargers battled against Tom Brady and the Patriots in the divisional round but eventually fell in a close three-point game in San Diego. After the loss to the Patriots Schottenheimer would be fired by owner Dean Spanos but finished with a 47-33 record as a coach of the Chargers.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Marty Schottenheimer fired up at charger game from NFL Photo Library

Schottenheimer retired as one of the best coaches ever and is eighth all-time in wins, he coached all-time greats like Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, and Ladainian Tomilson etc. Schottenheimer was a winner, he loved the game of football, and brought the intensity to each team that he coached.

Many of his former players expressed their regards for Schottenheimer like Drew Brees who said, “The lessons and wisdom of Marty Schottenheimer will forever ring in my ears.”

The Cleveland Browns released a tribute video on Twitter titled: “There’s a gleam, men. There’s a gleam.”

Marty Schottenheimer will be known as a husband, father, and football legend. Although he struggled in the playoffs Schottenheimer emphasized “Marty Ball” a philosophy still used today and is recognized as one of the best football coaches of all-time.

Written by: Carson Cook | @carsoncook.talks

Follow Carson on Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube

Cover Photo: Marty Schottenheimer Title Card by the National Football League (NFL)

SDSU Softball Drops Home-Opener

Maggie Balint pitches a softball

In San Diego State’s softball home-opener, the Aztecs were defeated 3-0 by BYU at the SDSU softball field on Thursday night despite a strong pitching performance.

Tonight also marked the beginning of the Campbell/Cartier Classic, an annual event held in the memory of former Aztec softball players Susanne Campbell and Karin Cartier.

It was a scoreless game with strong pitching on both sides, with the first score and hit coming at the top of the fifth inning.

“It was a good-old fashioned pitchers duel,”  head coach Kathy Van Wyk said, “I think we wasted a very good pitching performance.”

The Cougars’ catcher, Ry Jense-McFarland, singled to left field, which brought home Kaylee Erickson and gave BYU the lead. In the top of the seventh inning, Jensen-McFarland shot a solo homerun to deep right.

Later in the inning, Arissa Paulsen who plays first base and pitches for BYU, singled into left and brought in Taylei Williams. 

The Cougars managed four hits off of SDSU’s junior pitcher Maggie Balint. 

Balint pitched into the seventh inning and tonight marked her first home game as an Aztec, as she transferred from Oregon. 

“At Oregon I wasn’t a starter. I wasn’t a captain and I didn’t have the responsibilities. I kind of just showed up and left. I have to be accountable for my other players.”

Maggie Balint, junior pitcher.

She tallied nine strikeouts and threw 145 pitches before being relieved by freshman Karina Faasisila.

Balint calls her own pitches, which helps her game because she enjoys fast-paced outings.

“Me and the catcher [Alizae Umi, SDSU’s catcher] we’re both on the same page.” Balint said, “I work at a very fast paced, I’m like a machine I’m constantly going, going, going and I don’t like to be stopped.”

The Oregon-transfer and Van Wyk made it clear, Balint throws what she wants when she wants.

“[Balint] knows what she wants to throw in there.” Van Wyk said, “I don’t have to call pitches. She’s very strong minded, she’s got a great level of confidence.”

Balint credited her back injury for her drive and confidence on the mound.

“I am so driven and motivated since my back injury.” She said, “I could not throw the ball past 60, but mentally I was so sharp and I could just not physically do it. It made me so frustrated because mentally I was ready to go.”

SDSU will have to move on from this one, as they have two straight double-headers coming up.

On Friday, the Aztecs play against Southern Utah and Cal State Fullerton.

When Saturday rolls around, SDSU will play BYU and Southern Utah again.

The four games will all be played at the SDSU softball field.

Van Wyk’s message to her team after the loss: forget this one and move on.

“We got two double-headers coming up.” she said, “We’re going to play BYU again later this weekend. We have to do a better job adjusting at the plate, we were swinging at bad pitches.”

Umi said the team’s preparation from the off-season will help them survive the back to back double-headers.

“We put in a lot of work in the fall, so we’re just depending on that.” she said, “That’s really going to help us in the double-header tomorrow.”

Written by: Daniel Farr

Aztecs Clinch Mountain West

The buzzer sounded and fans roared, as the No. 4 team in the nation clinched their 12th Mountain West championship against New Mexico on Tuesday night. The Aztecs beat the Lobos 82-59. 

Moments later, each SDSU player and coach cut a piece of the nylon net to celebrate being crowned champions once again. Even SDSU’s president, Adela de la Torre got in on the action and cut a piece of the net.

The Aztecs ended the first half up by only two and shot a poor 39% from the field. However, the second half was a different story. SDSU shot 51% from the field in the second half and 37.5% from downtown.

Coincidently, the Aztecs defense came alive in the second half as well. They were able to contain a deadly offense to 26.5% shooting in the latter half. 

SDSU also forced 17 turnovers, but did have 15 turnovers of their own.

Head coach Brian Dutcher entered the postgame news conference soaked in Gatorade.

“They got me pretty good,” He said.

The Aztecs were led by junior Matt Mitchell, who finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds. It was his first career double-double.

Mitchell needed 15 points tonight to  attain 1,000 career points as an Aztec. Just before he reached the milestone, he ferociously threw down a dunk to start half number two.

“I honestly didn’t know there was somebody under the rim until I took off, but at that point, it was bad for him.” He said.

Yanni Wetzell finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, and shot 77% from the floor.

“I’m still in awe right now.” Wetzell said. “It means that much more because of all the adversity we went through last year. You never expect to go undefeated in February and win a conference championship without losing a game.”

The Aztecs carry a chip on their shoulder, and feel like they have to win every game because they’re 25-0 and still aren’t ranked number one. If the Aztecs hold this grudge, it could help them make a run come March.

It seems as if SDSU’s student section deserves credit for this blowout win as well. The Lobos’ Corey Manigault was ejected for two technical fouls and New Mexico players heard the shouting and yells all game long.

SDSU’s 25-game unbeaten streak to open a season is the longest by an NCAA team since Gonzaga started 29-0 in 2016-17. 

The Aztecs will try to cut into the Bulldogs’ record when they  play against Boise State on Feb. 16

Written by: Daniel Farr