Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has really been on fire this year after making his debut in 2019. Prior to this season he has lived in his father Vladimir Guerrero Sr. shadow as well as the expectations of being the top international free agent and MLB.com ranking of him as the fourth-best choice in 2015.
Why Has Guerrero Jr. Broken Out This Season?
A large part of his breakout has been a weight loss and fitness regime that saw him drop 42 pounds. The metrics may be harder to find but he has said that he feels quicker, stronger and able to bounce back easier.
He is now in striking distance of the coveted Triple Crown in baseball as he is is second in all of baseball in RBIs (66), tied for second in homers (26) and third in batting average (.336).
Guerrero Jr hit home runs in three consecutive games, drove in seven runs and has a .391/.481/.826 slash line over the week. It was Guerrero’s first Player of the Week nod since August 2019.
Cronenworth Helping To Power The Padres Fight For the National League West Crown
Like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jake Cronenworth is relatively new to Major League Baseball but has made his presence felt almost immediately in the Padres lineup.
He made his debut in the shortened 2020 MLB season on July 26th and by the time the season wrapped he had garnered a couple of Rookie accolades.
Cronenworth was named NL Rookie of the Month in August 2020 after hitting .356, 17 RBIs and 20 runs over 31 games. He tied with Alec Bohm of the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Cronenworth slashed . 391/. 481/1.000 to go along with 7 runs scored, 4 home runs and 9 RBIs to win the player of the week this past week.
The week raised his slash line to .287/.355/.479 with 31 RBI, 53 runs scored, three stolen bases and a 27:44 BB:K. He has registered a hit in each of his last 10 games and is currently swinging one of the hottest bats in the majors.
Our latest Players Of The Week have dropped in Major League Baseball with Los Angeles Angels two way star Shohei Ohtani and Washington Nationals left fielder Kyle Schwarber given the honours for the American and National League’s respectively.
Ohtani Second Consecutive Angels Winner
With Catcher Max Stassi receiving the American League Honours last week and Ohtani this week, should one have to wonder how the Angels are fairing without Mike Trout?
If anything it speaks to the Angels potential with all these players in the lineup despite their well documented pitching struggles. The Angels currently sit fourth in the American League West with a 36-38 record.
Ohtani posted a slash line of .296/.387/963 with six runs scored, eight hits, six home runs, nine RBI and a stolen base over seven games played. He tossed six innings with five strikeouts in his start on last Thursday allowing one run in the process.
The Los Angeles Angels have gained some ground in the American League West and looking to be heading for sunnier days as they take on the Oakland Athletics in a key three game series.
Now sitting one game above .500 at 33-32, they swept two of the weaker teams in baseball in the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks.
They face a tougher test in Oakland though who is 40-27 and leads the AL West by two games over the Houston Astros and six games over the Angels.
What Makes the Athletics So Tough?
Oakland has hit 85 home runs this season, seventh in Major League Baseball. The Athletics are 8-2 in their last 10 games with a .266 batting average, a 2.53 ERA and a plus 26 run differential.
Matt Olson leads the club with 18, homers averaging one every 12 at bats.Olson has his team-leading 17th and 18th homers of the year Sunday.
Matt Chapman, the other Matt in Oakland, has 12 hits in 40 at-bats (.306 AVG), including three doubles, two homers and eight RBI in the month of June.
Chapman was hitting .203/.315/.341 with six doubles, five homers and 21 RBI in April and May. He had walked 31 times and struck out in 70 at-bats.
Chapman put the boots to the Kansas City Royals with seven hits in 13 at-bats in their weekend series with three doubles, two homers and five RBI and one strike out.
The Athletics though are 10-13 against A.L. West teams in 2021.
What Do The Angels Bring?
The Angels and their offence bring a lot in this six game win streak, all without Mike Trout. Trout has been sidelined by a calf injury since May 17, with the Angels posting a 14-9 mark since.
Who then is providing the Angels with much needed offence? Max Stassi has returned from injury and been on a tear. Stassi hit a 440-foot homer to center against the Diamondbacks on the weekend.
Between a sprained thumb in April and a concussion in May, he is starting to get going. He as a .339 Batting Average, Five Home Runs, and OPS Of 1.042 in 62 at bats. He is also the American League Player Of The Week.
Jared Walsh has a .293/.363/.556 slash line with 43 RBI, 34 runs scored and two stolen bases over 251 plate appearances. With Albert Pujols release and subsequent move to the Dodgers, first base now belongs to Walsh.
Shohei Ohtani continues to be the true Angels MVP candidate and All-Star with 17 home runs and a slugging percentage of .608.
He has a .961 OPS, .353 On-Base Percentage and a WAR of 3.8. He has also struck out 68 batters in 47⅓ innings with a 2.85 ERA as a pitcher.
The American League MVP should really come down to Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero, ranks first in batting average (.344), on-base percentage (.450) and slugging (.688), for a major league-best OPS of 1.137. He also leads the majors with 21 home runs and 55 RBI,
Game one goes tonight Dylan Bundy for the Angels who is 1-6 with a 6.16 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 55 strikeouts against the Athletics Sean Manaea who is 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts.
Our latest Players Of The Week have dropped in Major League Baseball with the Miami Marlins Starling Marte and Los Angeles Angels Catcher Max Stassi given the honours for the National and American League’s respectively.
Angels Stassi A Key For The Team If It Wants To Make The Playoffs
The Los Angeles Angels continue to flirt with the .500 mark and try and get into the playoffs but without Max Stassi and other players in May they really floundered.
Stassi’s impact was immediate when he came back into the lineup after a concussion.
In five games, Stassi went .455 (10-for-22) with three homers, three doubles, eight RBIs and a 1.478 OPS.
The Angels lineup to start the season boasted Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, Jared Walsh, and Max Stassi and it showed with a 13-12 April.
Stassi’s value should also be examined not only for his offence but his defence and his ability to handle the pitching staff and frame their pitches well behind the plate.
Trent Rush from the Angels Recap Podcast noted that the Angels record is 14-6 when Stassi starts. Stassi has also boosted the Angels starter win rate from 8 wins earlier in the season to 10.
Marlins Marte Making Rib Injury Look Like A Thing Of The Past
Marlins center fielder Starling Marte was hurt with a rib injury at the end of April and most of May.
In seven games last week, the veteran outfielder posted a .500 batting average (14-for-28) with two homers, one double, five RBIs and a 1.298 OPS. He also stole four bases.
He has a .360/.454/.600 slash line. On top of that, he has hit five home runs, driven in 12 runs, and stolen six bases.
Marte has the third-best OBP in MLB, third-best batting average, and fifth-best OPS.
Defensively he was recognized for two Gold Gloves in 2015 and 2016.
This is his first Player Of The Week win and the same goes for Stassi.
Our latest Players Of The Week have dropped in Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom and Baltimore Orioles outfielder/designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle given the honours for the National and American League’s respectively.
Mountcastle Rips The Cover Off The Baseball
With the Orioles currently sitting last in the A.L. East 16.5 games back of the division leading Tampa Bay Rays, Mountcastle and previous Orioles Player of the Week winner John Means offer some hope for The O’s with Mountcastle looking better as a potential trade chip.
The Orioles went on a 6-22 run that included 14 consecutive losses to finish May. Sure the trade deadline is July 30th, but Mountcastle is an attractive piece for teams who may need him.
This past week he went hit safely in all six games he played last week and went 11-for-24 (.458) with four homers, three doubles, 10 RBIs and a 1.563 OPS.
Left-hander John Means previously won Player Of The Week honours after throwing a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners on May 5.
Cubs See The Wisdom In Triple A Callup
Called up from Triple-A Iowa on May 25, the 29-year-old Wisdom has put together a historic start in his time so far in Chicago. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wisdom is one of three players, along with Trevor Story (2016 for the Rockies) and Aristides Aquino (2019 for the Reds), who have hit as many as seven homers within their first eight starts with a team.
Six of Wisdom’s dingers came within the past week, a span in which he went 10-for-23 (.435) with a 1.719 OPS. He went deep twice last Monday against the Padres and repeated the feat with two homers Sunday against the Giants.
Wisdom is the second Cubs player to win the NL Player of the Week Award this season joining Kris Bryant.
While I am not writing for those sites anymore, I still do enjoy writing baseball and will continue to do so here.
First up is a regular feature of mine I used to write on the American and National League Players Of The Week in Major League Baseball.
Woodruff Wins National League Nod
Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff grabbed the honours for the National League, not surprising given his Cy Young like numbers to start the season.
Woodruff’s week includes some stunning numbers such as 14 scoreless innings while striking out 18 of the 48 batters he faced. He now has an ERA of 1.27. Woodruff’s opponents’ slash for the week was .109/.146/.109.
Woodruff has been tough all season with a FIP of 2.19 in 76 innings as well as a WHIP of 0.737.
Abreu Nabs Third Player Of The Week For The Chicago White Sox
Spring usually means that warmer weather is coming and that coffee becomes less of a necessity but that’s not the case when you have so many local options to choose from in Vancouver.
Moja Coffee started on the North Shore in 2004 and while one may think that it’s overshadowed by a very competitive market that includes JJ Bean, Starbucks, and Delany’s among others it still has some great coffees that are supremely roasted.
I tried their Espresso and Colombia whole bean offerings that I brewed at home using my trusty French Press, Cone Filter Drip and a Stovetop Espresso Maker.
The Espresso blend contains beans from Brazil and Guatemala. It is described as being syrupy and sweet with notes of caramel. It’s a great coffee to drink any of the three ways I mentioned above and could be drunk as a cup or as a shot. I loved it.
The Organic Columbia is better than I expected as I generally don’t like Columbian coffees given their flavour profile. This one has notes of dark chocolate and orange which I thought were very enjoyable.
Velleteri which I bought from the folks at Espressotec was a tasty blend of coffee that really could be drunk in winter or the spring. It’s a Caffe Darte product that the company says “is roasted on a 1949 Balestra Wood Roaster, which imparts a subtle smoky finish to this medium-dark coffee.”
The coffee has Central and South American beans in it and is a medium dark roast that really sits in my wheelhouse as an ideal type of coffee. I could easily enjoy it as an iced coffee.
I’ll confess a bit of a bias here as anything JJ Bean is immediately going to get my attention coffee wise. Railtown has to rank in my top three coffees of all time and I mean anywhere.
JJ Bean says “Railtown is a dark roast blend that has Latin American coffee, specifically from Honduras, designed to withstand the heat.”
The thing that strikes me about this coffee too is the versatility of it. Cold, hot, as an espresso shot or a drip coffee or a french press coffee and yes an Aeropress.
Starbucks Anniversary Blend
Starbucks Anniversary Blend is another one of those coffee’s that i have loved for a long time. When I worked there it was brought out every September to commemorate the origins of the company. According to Starbucks “It’s a complex, hearty coffee with cedary spice notes.” It contains Asia Pacific coffees beans from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
What I found interesting about this coffee in the past was the use of Aged Sumatra in it and the closeness of it to Starbucks Christmas blend which had a similar flavour profile in past years.
This day in Vancouver sports history is a significant one and while you may wonder why exactly that is, April 13 1989 is the day the Vancouver Canucks upset the Calgary Flames 6-3 at The Pacific Coliseum.
It was another David and Goliath matchup in the post season this time against the Canucks Smythe Division rival the Calgary Flames. The Flames finished the 1988-9 season at 54-17-9, while the Canucks were 33-39-8.
How Did the Vancouver Canucks Get There
Pat Quinn had come to the Canucks as President and General Manager and Bob McCammon as Coach at the start of the 1987-888 season.
The Canucks had made a splash at the 1988 Entry Draft selecting 2nd overall. They took Medicine Hat Tiger Trevor Linden a player whose influence can still be felt in Vancouver.
Linden had 30 goals his rookie season. By drafting Linden, Quinn was making moves to make this team a respectable one something it had really lacked since being a Cup Finalist back in 1982.
Quinn had already added Kirk McLean and Greg Adams to this team prior this season, trading Patrick Sundstrom a popular and prolific player from the mid 1980’s.
Pat Quinn also got Paul Reinhart in the off season and it helped boost the Canucks defence with Reinhart getting 57 points in 64 games.
The 1989 Smythe Division Semi Final
The Canucks headed to Calgary for Game One and came away with a win in overtime. Calgary produced an uninspired effort losing 4–3 with former Flame Paul Reinhart scored the winner for Vancouver.
Games Two and Three belonged to Calgary winning by a combined score of 9-2. The Canucks won Game 4 5-3 on the back of a four point game from Trevor Linden, who had one goal and added three assists.
Game Five was another drubbing by the Flames as they won 4-0 and outshot the Canucks 40-18. It was not looking good for Vancouver who really would need a miracle in order to have any hope of coming back in this series.
Good Friday Was Good To The Canucks
With the series now 3-2 Calgary, the teams came back to Vancouver on Good Friday which was also Friday April 13th.
This game for me stands out as one of the defining moments as to why I became a Canucks fan and why I still am.
The Canucks would get four second period goals against Mike Vernon and the Calgary Flames to take Game Six. It was honestly the first time the Canucks had really had any significant playoff success or something to cheer about since their magical run of 1982.
Game Seven In Calgary
You likely don’t need a reminder if you are longtime Canucks fan of what happened in Game Seven in Calgary.
The Calgary Flames won in Overtime. It was a goal that was surrounded in some controversy when Flames player Joel Otto won the game in the final minute of the first overtime period.
The puck deflected in off his foot as he stood in the Canucks’ crease.
It was a heartbreaking end to a series and for a team like the Canucks that staked a serious claim against a powerful opponent like the Flames.
The Calgary Flames would win the 1988-89 season’s Stanley Cup as they were predicted to. But the Canucks came oh so close to making serious fools out of the oddsmakers.
As well as being a great time to drink beer Christmas is also a great time for coffee.
Cool dark snowy weather goes hand in hand with a warm cup of java by the fireplace or in front of the television with Netflix on.
This year I made my way through a number of delicious Christmas coffees. They were Starbucks Christmas Blend, JJ Bean Coffee’s Banco Gotete Espresso, a Holiday Blend Coffee from Delanys, and Burundi Mabrizi and Skookum Dark from Strait Coffee Traders.
Starbucks Christmas Blend
Say what you will about drinking coffee from a large chain like Starbucks this coffee does deliver and has been a long time staple for many coffee drinkers including myself.
With dark roast coffee beans from Guatemala, Colombia and Papua New Guinea, the real secret to this coffee is the beans from Sumatra, which are aged. Starbucks has been carrying its Christmas Blend since 1984.
The coffee tends to vary a bit from season to season based on the varietals in it but it is always a good cup of dark, rich coffee that goes well with Christmas food and desserts.
Ethiopia Banco Gotete JJ Bean Coffee Roasters
This is another seasonal coffee with a rich history given its origins.
The town of Banco Gotete is located n Gedeo County. This county is part of the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. I’ve tried Yirgacheffe coffees before from other coffee roasters including Starbucks. Yirgacheffe is really part of the Sidamo region in southern Ethiopia, another name you may recognize if you like and drink African coffees. but since it’s coffees are so well known it gets it’s own micro region.
Ethiopia has widely been called the birthplace of coffee.
The African Coffee profile as it tends to be knowns always has fruit like, citrusy notes with a bean that doesn’t look dark or is roasted too heavily.
I would say that this coffee has that profile and was best made in a drip coffee maker versus my Stovetop espresso maker or French Press. I have always loved these coffees cold over ice and with some bits of fruit thrown in.
JJ Bean also has a Run For Water project that they are involved in in Africa within these regions.
Strait Coffee Burundi Mabrizi
Strait Coffee is one of my favourite coffee places. If it were in Vancouver and not on the Sunshine Coast I would be there likely every day.
They have been roasting coffee for 25 years and honestly you can tell. The Burundi Mabrizi arrived in a delightful purple cellophane bag for Christmas and I enjoyed it immensely.
For whatever reason I seem to have gravitated to African coffees over Christmas and in doing some research on the origins of and the history of this region I found out some interesting things.
Places such as Ethiopia and Kenya are well known for coffee but Burundi apparently also has an economy that is based around agriculture with coffee and tea according to Wikipedia “accounting for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, though exports are a relatively small share of GDP.”
Organic Skookum Blend
Next up on my list from Strait Coffee was the Organic Skookum Blend. I’m not sure what they put in this coffee in terms of how they blend it or what they use but it was delicious. This is honestly one of the best coffees I have tried in a long time. I’m not sure they will give away what the blend is.
Delany’s Holiday Blend
Delany’s Coffee is a Vancouver based company with five locations. It’s own by Robyn Delany and family and is well established on the North Shore with locations in North and West Vancouver.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find out they use Caffe D’arte as the roaster of their coffees using Dark Roasting with complex flavours.
I couldn’t find anything online about their Holiday Blend that related to blending and coffees used in this blend but it is a solid entry. It was also a holiday deal on sale for 10 dollars for one week during Christmas when I bought it.
Christmas is definitely the time for beer and beer drinking. Craft breweries have really upped their game when it comes to Christmas 2020 beers.
Maybe it was the COVID-19 pandemic that force them to get creative or innovative I am not sure, but I tried a lot of good beers this Christmas. Some were old favourites while others were new ones. A couple of Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers also made an appearance.
The Toques Of Hazzard Parallel 49 Brewing Company
We first discovered this beer in 2017 and it’s been on our Christmas list ever since. It’s an Imperial IPA made with wheat. The beer feels light and is a hazy white. There are Citra and Hallertau Blanc hops used in it. The alcohol level is 9.2 percent so there may be the immediate temptation to drink one quick and get a buzz.
That doesn’t do this beer justice though. I split it over two nights with Turkey Dinner on Christmas Day and the next day. It definitely mixes well with Turkey, Sausage Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Sprouts, Carrots, Potatoes and the massive feast I cooked for Christmas.
DEBAUCHERY House of Funk Brewing Co.
What can you say about House of Funk but that they do things differently. You may find what they do odd, enjoyable or even unique and while I have a love/hate relationship with what they do this Stout was awesome.
Coming in at 10.5% this beer is not for the faint at heart. I still have another can in my fridge I am saving for a while. I cracked this beer on Christmas Eve as a truly special occasion. I didn’t drink it fast at all. It is a slow drinking beer to truly savour.
House of Funk describes it as “Smooth and balanced with subtle hints of bourbon and chocolate.” Some may like more chocolate, but this is delicious! Rich & complex. It’s aged for nine months in Basil Hayden bourbon barrels. WOW!
WINTER ALE GRAND CRU Granville Island Brewing Company
This was the second of Barrel Age Beers from my Christmas List. Unlike the House of Funk one, I did not enjoy this one as much. A riff on Granville Islands Lions Winter Ale, It took me a while to get into it and I cannot say it really sold me.
At 8.2 percent, Granville Island describes it as having smooth, oaky aromas, perfectly melded with vanilla bean and rich cocoa. It’s Cellared, aged in ex-Whisky barrels but I was like so what? It was overpowering and not all an enjoyable drink.
This is very unlike me to not want a Granville Island beer again but I wouldn’t likely buy it again.
Vidal Lager Townsite Brewing
In the midst of all the strong Christmas beers, I needed a lager or pilsner to cleanse the pallet. I am glad I picked this one.
Townsite Brewing says that this beer contains “peppery, floral hops and bread flavours from the malts.” Light and almost airy in colour, it’s “Unfiltered too because, Belgium.” A little more research and I found that like a typical German lager. Vidal Lager has Pilsen and Carafoam malts, as well as Saaz and Tettnanger hops. Good to know.
It’s been many years since I tried something from this brewery and I am glad that I did. I will be trying more again soon.
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Porter Bad Tattoo Brewing
I’m always a sucker for anything from Bad Tattoo since my visit to the brewery in 2019. I was able to find this in BC Liquor Stores in North Vancouver which was a surprise and a nice one.
I love a good stout and with the extra twist of peanut butter it is somewhat of an acquired taste. Doesn’t mean I hate it but doesn’t mean I like it either. The core beers from the Bad Tattoo line-up including the Vagabond Pilsner and the Los Muertos Cerveza Negra are probably better bets we are focused on Winter and Dark beers here.
I wasn’t able to find any serious info online about the contents and I mean malts, hops etc. so I will have to leave it at that.
Steamworks Brewing Company
Blitzen is a riff on a classic Belgian Tripel. The Belgian Tripel itself refers to the amount of malt used in the beer in its wort which then yields a higher alcohol in the beer.
A Tripel thus has 9 percent alcohol by volume and has a long history as a popular beer style in Belgium and what is referred as the Low Countries that include the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
It is the first time I have tried this Christmas beer from Steamworks not realizing that it has been around for a few years. I managed to find a single can of it with the only other option being the giant bottle of it at BC Liquor Stores that is 20$.
Steamworks describes it as having apple and citrus aromas. They are using Pilsner and Sugar Malts along with Fuggles and Sterling hops. It gave me the impression of a dry white wine or sweet gurwirtsraminter.
I’d definitely add it to my Christmas list for future years of beer drinking. Belgian Tripels are growing on me for sure.
Bridge Brewing Company
Whether I meant to or not, I selected this beer from Bridge purely based on the fact that it was made by Bridge. I latched onto the Bridge Brewing brand early as they were the first brewery based on the North Shore.
A little research and some tasting and I realized that I had chosen another beer similar to the Blitzen from Steamworks.
Santa’s Sac is based on a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The Belgian golden strong ale looks like an easy-drinking pilsner. In the first few sips this beer does taste like that but keep drinking it and you realized that you are in for a treat that is a strong one.
With a 10.5% alcohol content, its brewed with a simple malt and lightly hopped with Nobble Hops. What really made me realize that I had selected another Blitzen style beer was when I read that it was fermented warm with a classic Belgium yeast strain, Trappist Ale.