Saturday, May 29, 2004

Papi, Don't Comes Home
"Time, which alone makes the reputation of men, ends by making their defects respectable." - Voltaire

Thursday, May 27, 2004

AL Top Five Tops NL Top 5

A quick look at the records of the AL's top five club versus the NL's top five club reveals one league with less parity than the other:


Boston 29-18
NYY 29-18
Chicago WS 27-19
MN 26-20
Anaheim 29-18

total 140-93 .601


Florida 27-20
Cincy 27-20
Houston 26-20
Philly 25-20
Cubs 25-20

total 130-100 .565


Time To Change Tactics

Perhaps this season will finally see the dissent of the philosophy of the SF Giants' lineup being so anemic by comparison to Barry Bonds that Barry Bonds should be walked on every occasion the game is on the line.

According to KNBR's post game wrap up show this morning following the Giants' sweep of the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks, Bonds has recently been given a bases empty walk 4 times in four games and those four times have resulted four Giants victories involving Bonds scoring the winning run. Finally some of his teammates are stepping up and filling the void.

Indeed, the SF Giants have now won six straight and seven of eight and are finally creeping back up to their rightful place atop the NL West...stay tuned.

Pettitte Again, Sam

I confess, I'm somewhat obsessed with seeing my prediction of Pettitte spending the majority of his season on the DL come to fruition now that it is time to worry about the lefty after he left the game in the fourth inning last night with what officially was described as a left forearm strain.

On the final out of the fourth inning Wednesday night, Pettitte winced after the delivery. Once Pettitte reached the bench, Astros manager Jimy Williams saw Pettitte grabbing his elbow and consulting with trainers.

"I said to myself, 'This is not good,' " Williams said. "The best thing to do is not send him back out there."

And on the seventh day, he rested.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Mets Claim They Are Creeping Into Pennant Race
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." --Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Well, what a novelty after these last several years, that it's nearly Memorial Day weekend, and the Mets aren't yet completely demoralised or mathematically eliminated from the NL East.

Monday, May 24, 2004

A Tale of Two Cities
"The wind is rushing after us, and the clouds are flying after us, and the moon is plunging after us, and the whole wild night is in pursuit of us; but, so far we are pursued by nothing else." from Charles Dickens' _A Tale of Two Cities_

You might consider that the twinning of baseball cities can be found in New York, Chicago, The Bay Area and, with a stretch of the imagination and a compass, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.

Of those four areas, here is how each city's teams are doing:

LA Dodgers/Anaheim Angels 52 wins, 35 losses .597 winning percentage.
Cubs/White Sox 50 wins, 36 losses .581 winning percentage.
Yankees/Mets 47 wins, 40 losses .540 winning percentage.
Oakland A's/SF Giants 44 wins, 42 losses .512 winning percentage.

So, even with TWO teams in your city, one could still only expect, a best, to be happy with a victory less than 6 days out of ten.


Mike Cuddyer of the Twins, has selected his All Stars. Isn't it time you did?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Randy Johnson's "Top Ten cool things about pitching a perfect game":

10. "After this I can go 0-15 for the rest of the year and honestly not give a crap."

9. "My pregame dinner at Denny's? On the house."

8. "Shows everyone that even though I'm 40, I can still ... I'm sorry, I lost my train of thought."

7. "Cool to get a congratulatory call from the president, even though he kept calling me 'Larry.'"

6. "Can walk up to guys who have thrown no-hitters and whisper: 'Loser!'"

5. "All the pine tar I can eat!"

4. "Your catcher hugs you and it feels kind of nice."

3. "Maybe people will finally get over the time that I killed that bird."

2. "It's just one more thing about me that's perfect ... am I right, ladies?"

1. "George Steinbrenner just offered me one billion dollars to sign with the Yankees."

via David Letterman


Looks Like Someone's Hard Up For Immmortality

A mere nine homers short of the immortal 500, five time AllStar Fred McGriff has joined the infamous Durham Bulls, now the Devil Rays AAA team, and is expected to be called up by the end of the month.

Following the 2003 All Star game, McGriff was able to muster 3 dingers in 60 at bats which means, when he makes his long climb from semi-retirement back up to the dizzying heights of the 11-28 Devil Rays to help them in their "pennant race", he will need only about 45 games to reach the magic numbers and then fade back into obscurity as probably one of the least exciting players this side of Rafael Palmeiro to achieve 500 home runs.

"I'm excited," McGriff said from his Tampa home. "A lot of people have been telling me to keep going and to hang in there. I'm looking forward to the chance to compete and to help the team. You've got to have faith and believe."

Alot of people have been telling him to keep going? How big is this man's family? Haven't any of them seen him play lately? Is this the purpose of the existence of the Devil Rays franchise, hang on just long enough for Crime Dog to hit 500?

500 Home Runs Club

In Alphabetical Order

Date 500 achieved
Pitcher it was achieved against
Team it was achieved against
age it was achieved
at bats it took to achieve it

Hank Aaron
Mike McCormick

Ernie Banks
Pat Jarvis

Barry Bonds
Terry Adams

Jimmie Foxx
George Caster

Reggie Jackson
Bud Black

Harmon Killebrew
Mike Cuellar

Mickey Mantle
Stu Miller

Eddie Mathews
Juan Marichal

Willie Mays
Don Nottebart

Willie McCovey
Jamie Easterly

Mark McGwire
Andy Ashby

Eddie Murray
Felipe Lira

Mel Ott
Johnny Hutchings

Rafael Palmeiro
Dave Elder

Frank Robinson
Fred Scherman

Babe Ruth
Willis Hudlin

Mike Schmidt
Don Robinson

Sammy Sosa
Scott Sullivan

Ted Williams
Wynn Hawkins

***Both the Indians and the Braves have surrendered number 500 the most times (3 each). Unfortunately, whilst the Indians are coming to town just this weekend, it will be the last time the Devil Rays face them this season. They will not face the Braves all season. Looks probable, one hopes, that McGriff's train is just pulling out of the station. Oh well, better luck next year Mister 1296-1863 walks to strikeouts Ratio Man.


Doesn't Anyone Want to Win the NL West?

With a fading Giants club, a fading Diamondbacks club, an always-going-nowhere Rockies club, and an up-and-coming Padres club, it might make sense that the we're-not-pretty-but-what-else-have-you-got Dodger club stand atop the NL West. It might make sense were it not for the fact that their 4-0 loss to the Phillies last night was their 7th loss in a row and completes a Phillies sweep, but that they are still, mathematically anyway, in first place.

But there is comfort on the horizan:

"I lost 13 games in a row in 2000, so I know about losing streaks," said Jose Lima, who induced two double-play grounders in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Well good. At least they've got experienced losers on the squad.

The Dodgers, outscored 21-11 over the three-game sweep by Philadelphia and 40-18 over their seven-game losing streak, will try to break out of the funk today against the Atlanta Braves. Sure seemed to work for the Diamondbacks.


He may have been removed from the spotlight of the New York media, then removed himself from the spotlight of ESPN, but my favourite manager, The Most Hated Man In Baseball is back in the news:

"Bobby Valentine, who in 1995 was the first American manager ever to manage a Japanese team, and who was fired after seven years with the Texas Rangers, is now back at home in Japan as the coach of the Chiba Lotte Marines, whose first game was a come-from-behind victory that sent the devoted oendan--a 2,000 strong bleacher section that unfurled a Bobby banner they'd kept in storage since he last appeared there in 1995--into a lathered frenzy. Valentine tells Richmond, "I don't have visions of grandeur ... Okay, I have visions of small grandeur."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Well, by now it's no secret that the 40 year old intimidator, Randy Johnson, pitched history's 17th perfect game, but also became the oldest in history to do so, surpassing none other than CY YOUNG, and, did so against my own privately hated Atlanta Braves, whose rapid demise I have watched with glee so far this season.

Oddly enough, not even this accomplish, nor being the ace of the staff will likely save Randy Johnson from Pinstripes by September.

And please, let us stop the whingeing about the bad luck of pitching a one-hitter on the night a perfect game is thrown. Jason Schmidt, in case you hadn't heard, "almost" doesn't count - unless you're hunting for WMDs, one supposes...

In case you were interested, here are all the perfect games ever pitched:

American League

Cy Young
Boston 3, Philadelphia 0

Addie Joss
Cleveland 1, Chicago 0

Charlie Robertson
Chicago 2, Detroit 0

Don Larsen
New York 2, Brooklyn 0*

Catfish Hunter
Oakland 4, Minnesota 0

Len Barker
Cleveland 3, Toronto 0

Mike Witt
California 1, Texas 0

Kenny Rogers
Texas 4, California 0

David Wells
New York 4, Minnesota 0

David Cone
New York 6, Montreal 0

* - Game 5, 1956 World Series

National League

Lee Richmond
Worcester 1, Cleveland 0

Monte Ward
Providence 5, Buffalo 0

Jim Bunning
Philadelphia 6, New York 0

Sandy Koufax
Los Angeles 1, Chicago 0

Tom Browning
Cincinnati 1, Los Angeles 0

Dennis Martinez
Montreal 2, Los Angeles 0

Randy Johnson
Arizona 2, Atlanta 0

If you're like me, you're probably wondering, who the fuck is Lee Richmond? Well, if you're keeping score, on June 12, 1880 John Lee Richmond of the Worcestor Ruby Legs pitched the first perfect game in Major League history.

Vive La Midwest

In the ongoing battle between Cincinnati, Detroit and Chicago of which city has the most resurgent baseball team in the Midwest, the Cincinnati Reds remain slightly ahead of the pack.

Even with their 21-18 record, there's plenty of excitement now that Austin Kearns has returned from DL after batting .357 (10-for-28) with two home runs and eight RBIs during a Triple-A rehab assignment in Louisville.

Ryan Freel, the new Charlie Hustle, according to the Post's Lonnie Wheeler, and is hitting .367 (11-for-30) in nine consecutive starts.

But he is just pure excitement:

"Were you watching the seventh inning Saturday night from Los Angeles? Did you see the Reds right fielder disappear into the stands? It was like science fiction, somebody slipping through a force field into another dimension, the way he vanished from the playing area. Didn't even slow down. This man will be the undoing of the warning-track industry.

Freel didn't catch the ball, but that was beside the point. He did catch an elderly woman in the face with his leg, then, as her head snapped back, he caught her again with the other leg. He felt terrible about that. He kept saying he was sorry and coming back and checking on her, until they wheeled her out. He gave her a bat. He was deeply relieved when the man next to her gave him a thumbs-up, indicating that she'd be all right."

In Cleveland, "The New American City", the Indians are six games off the pace in the AL Central at 18-21 but there is still plenty to root for.

Why just this week Victor Martinez was named the American League Player of the Week (along with the Twins Joe Nathan). According to the Cleveland Indians Report, in five games last week, the Tribe backstop had four multi-hit games and raked to the tune of .429/.458/.762 (9-for-21) averages with four doubles, one longball, and a league-leading 10 RBIs.

And just so you know the Indians didn't get nuttin' for Bartolo Colon, have a look at Cliff Lee, who was a virtual nobody when he came to Cleveland in June of 2002 as part of the package of players the Indians received in exchange for ace Bartolo Colon. Lee is now 5-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 8 starts for the Indians.

Which brings us to the The Motor City home to the 19-20 Detroit Tigers AND of course, The White Stripes.

"Soft hair and a velvet tongue
I want to give you what you give to me
and every breath that is in your lungs
is a tiny little gift to me
is a tiny little gift to me"
- from Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground.

Anyway, Detroit might be a little preoccupied with thoughts of tonight's Game Seven against the NJ Nets, but the rebirth of the Tigers is a story not to be missed.

If the current season isn't exciting enough for you, The Tiger Blog is doing a retro on their 1984 World Championship season.

Is Ivan Rodriguez the best free agent pick-up two season's running or what? After helping lead the Marlins to a World Championship last season, he's got the Tigers looking exciting whilst hitting .352 with 7 bangers and 32 ribbies. Oh yeah, and with three stolen bases, he's stolen more bases than he's allowed.


For those who missed it, following Sammy Sosa's sneezing back spasms, Tom Boswell had a good article on The Weird, Wacky World of Baseball Injuries:

"Sosa now joins the great tradition of comic "disabled" Cubs outfielders, which is led by Jose Cardenal, who couldn't play on Opening Day in 1974 because he said he slept wrong and his eyelid was stuck shut. Two seasons earlier, Cardenal had told manager Whitey Lockman he couldn't play because crickets in his hotel room kept him up all night."

On the other hand, the ever-quixotic But it's a Dry Heat Diamondbacks blog notes:

"Elsewhere, thanks to David B for bringing this up over on Diamondbacks Bullpen. "Jason Giambi sat out last night's game with back spasms. On the same day, Sammy Sosa is placed on the disabled list with...back spasms [Allegedly caused by a sneeze, which is right out of the Brian Anderson playbook!]. That followed on the heels of Barry Bonds missing last weekends series with the Pirates due to...back spasms. And Bret Boone sat out five of six game on last weeks road trip on account of...back spasms. Giambi...Sosa...Bonds...Boone. I wonder....nah, must just be coincidence."

A subsequent post says that these are one of the symptoms of withdrawal from steroids - it's the muscles in the body crying out for their little helper. I also note with interest that Bonds' last homer was on April 29th, which is 20 days and counting. He's now surpassed his 23 June-12 July 2001 drought, and that one included the All-Star break. Yep: just a coincidence."


Before the cost of tickets get too prohibitive, can I be one of the first to jump on the Daniel Cabrera Bandwagon?

Daniel Cabrera, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was pitching at the Class A level a year ago, earned his second win since he was called up from the minors last week, leading Baltimore over the Seattle Mariners 7-2 Tuesday night.

So far, Cabrera is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12 2-3 innings spanning two starts.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Nothing to Sneeze At

Yeah, yeah. Surely everyone's making fun of it. In an incident nearly as bizarre as getting caught with a corked bat last season, Sammy Sosa was held out of a game the other night because of back spasms caused by sneezing. Sosa was talking to somebody in the Cubs clubhouse Sunday when he stopped to sneeze twice. After the second sneeze, Sosa doubled over in pain against the chair next to his locker.

Sosa was laughing, but at the same time, he was in pain.

"It's like a spasm," he said in Spanglish, pointing to his lower back.

Sure enough, Sosa became a late lineup scratch for the game against the Padres because of the spasms. Todd Hollandsworth replaced Sosa in right field.

Christ, if he gets a full blown cold, his head might explode.


Who Framed Roger Clemens

They were making it sound like vengeance the other night when Piazza spoiled Roger Clemens' bid for his eighth straight win with a tying homer in the ninth off Octavio Dotel but you gotta wonder how hard up fans and the media are for vengeance when there were so many juicy factors missing.

First of all, Piazza went 0 for 2 when he actually had to bat against Clemens, including being struck out. Hardly what you might call revenge. More like continued humiliation. So when you read more deeply into the face off, Piazza failed and would have likely continued to fail had the Astros not sent former Met Octavio Dotel in to face him in the 9th.

Second of all, how does spoiling someone's 8th victory in a row equal getting beaned in the head and being humiliated in the World Series by having the guy toss the barrel of a broken bat at you?

He didn't give Clemens his first loss of the season and even if he had, Clemens is 41 years old and is having one of his best season in years, hardly a "spoiler" in the classic sense. So Piazza hits the homerun that ties the game and spoils Clemens chances for an 8th victory but not his chances for an undefeated season and doesn't do anything but scratch when he actually has to face Clemens.

Hitting a homerun off of Dotel instead of Clemens sort of reminds me of something like Piazza going after skinny little Guillermo Mota in Spring Training instead of taking on Roger Clemens in the World Series like a man. A sneaky way of vengeance. Sort of like hitting more homeruns than any catcher, but doing it as one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball history.

Please to spare me the hystrionics. Piazza had plenty of chances to make a man of himself against Clemens and time and again, he has been found lacking. Hitting a homerun against Octavio Dotel doesn't "spoil" anything for Clemens. It isn't revenge. It's just another example of Piazza going about things in a half-arsed way that makes him appear more than he is.

The only thing more outrageous to come out of Piazza in the last several days was his recent admission that

"You know what? It's funny. If I would have known the way I feel after a couple of days playing first, I probably would have thought about doing it a few years ago. Just playing the two nights in a row (at first base) and then getting behind the plate (Friday), I feel fresher," Piazza said. "I feel better receiving the ball, blocking the ball, things like that. Especially at this time. Maybe 10 years ago it didn't make a difference, but now it's essential, I think."

Yup, that's real funny, Piazza. You sacrifice the good of the team in your selfish pursuit of Carlton Fisk's record and then you turn around and say, wow, you know what, haha, I should have been playing first base all along....

Well, the funniest thing of all might be yet to come. The comedic justice of the year will be to see Piazza catch Clemens in the 2004 All-Star game in Houston.

Blog Watch

El Lefty Malo notes that

"Sorting through the stats this morning, I thought to myself, "Hmm, is Neifi Perez truly the worst hitter in the major leagues?"

Of the 189 position players listed in ESPN's sortable stats, Neifi indeed ranks last in OPS at .512. The second worst is Derek Jeter, at .528...

Boomer Goes Boom

Don't look now, but David Wells has found yet another way to injure himself.

The lefty, now pitching for San Diego, cut his right wrist and left palm, apparently in an "accident" at home, and is expected to miss his next two starts.

"It was not a fight," Padres GM Towers felt compelled to clarify. "It happened at his home. It sounds like he cut himself with some glass. How he did that, I don't know."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Free Beer

I have to admit, I'm not much of a hockey fan at all. I don't even watch it during the Stanley Cup finals if I can help it. But if free beer is the way into every man's heart, then the Tampa Bay Lightning have just become my de facto favourite hockey team.

"During the first Eastern Conference playoff game between the Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, the St. Pete Times Forum's main scoreboard advertised the offer. Those who paid $100 toward 2004-05 season tickets were eligible for unlimited free beer during the game."

On the other hand, giant plastic/paper cups of flat, gassy Budweiser or Coors Light is not my idea of beer so unless they've got some real ale in the bargain, it's a useless offer to me.

But an "A" for effort, guys. At the very least, I'll be rooting for the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup this year.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." Mark Twain

Oh, no! Not another pietistic excoriation on the evils of selling baseball bases -- as well as home plate, the pitching rubber and the on-deck circles -- as advertising space for a movie sequel! We couldn't stomach that! So in lieu of unbridled canting on baseball's latest controversy, let's ease into an overall ambience of aimless drifting...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Bits and Bobs

On the wings of a monsterous start to the 2004, speculation has already begun on the chances that Bonds can hit .400

There have been only eight men who have hit .400 while eligible for the batting championship since 1900, and it has been done a total of 13 times. Those men are Ty Cobb (1911, 1912, 1922), Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1924, 1925), George Sisler (1920, 1922), Nap Lajoie (1901), Shoeless Joe Jackson (1911), Harry Heilmann (1923), Bill Terry (1930), and, of course, Ted Williams (1941).

That makes 13 times, 3 of them in 1922. Where were the call for steroids back then? Where were the outrages of why in 1922, three different players hit .400?

23 percent of all .400 seasons came in 1922.

Three players alone made up eight of those seasons in total. Three players made up 62% of all .400 seasons all time. Were they, like Bonds, playing as though from another planet altogether? Did they have howls of cheating in their ears?


And at the other end of the spectrum:
Bowas Without Bats

.215 with less than two outs.

.173 with two outs.

.194 overall.

What are those numbers? The Phillies' batting averages with runners in scoring position before last night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark. Take away Burrell and Bell and the team is hitting .149 (26 for 174) with runners in scoring position.

The Phillies averaged 4.3 runs per game in their first 26 games, which ranked 12th in the National League. Their .244 batting average ranked ahead of only Montreal. Their .328 on-base percentage tied for 13th.

Move over Art Howe and the Mets. You just may not be the most mediocre any more.