Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just Stick A Bloody Sock In His Mouth!

Sixth months removed from leading the Red Sox to their first World Series Championship in 86 years and six months removed from using that success as a fulcrom to launch his public endorsement of George Bush on Good Morning America as though his pitching abilities equated to political intelligence, Curt Schilling is back in the news and at least this time, it's baseball-related.

Now that he's back on the DL, joining another big mouth in David Wells, and will miss at least two weeks with a bone bruise on his surgically repaired right ankle, Schilling has decided to launch an attack against the Devil Ray's beloved manager Lou Piniella.

"The problem is when you're playing a team with a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played, there's problems," the Bush monkey accused after two bench clearing brawls and six ejections in a Red Sox-Devil Rays game on Sunday. "This should have been over a little bit ago. Lou's trying to make his team be a bunch of tough guys, and the telling sign is when the players on that team are saying, 'This is why we lose 100 games a year, because this idiot makes us do stuff like this.' They [Rays players] said that on the field."

Schilling is 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA this season. Speaking out of frustration perhaps?

Of course, Lou Piniella was not mum on the subject when he learned of Schilling's comments.

"Forget how the game is played? I have forgotten more baseball than this guy knows," Piniella said. "If I were Curt, I would be really embarrassed at the cheap shot he took and get the story correct. I'll tell you I've always admired his pitching ability and competitiveness, but I can honestly tell you I've lost a lot of respect for him. I'm looking forward to talking to Curt myself and get this matter cleared up," he said.

Piniella also told the St. Petersburg Times that the Red Sox pitcher should be more concerned about his tough start this season than blaming Piniella for the two bench-clearing incidents in Tampa Sunday.

"I think he should just concern himself with pitching and not worry about what other managers do or don't do," said Piniella. "I don't think I've forgotten how to play the game. I know exactly how the game should be played, and why."

Although it's cheap entertainment, sometimes you just have to wonder why Curt Schilling thinks anyone gives a rip about his opinions, be they on sports or politics. YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE BLOWHARD, NOW SIT DOWN ON THE DL AND SHUT UP.

Christ, you'd think he'd learn. Remember back when Schilling made a bunch of unfounded allegations about steroids in baseball and was then asked to testify before Congress about it?

Suddenly, baseball's second biggest big mouth was "confused" about steroids and then managed only to back down like a coward after he came to his senses and joined the rest of baseball in blaming Jose Canseco as the problem rather than steroids.

So anything Curt Schilling says should be taken with a grain of salt. He seems more enamoured with the sound of his own voice than he does in his hideously disfigured wife, Shonda.

Reading Bits

Introducing the Five Worst Teams to Root For.

Armandogeddon Goes to DL

and to keep him company, the NL Central-leading Cardinals have lost closer Izzy to the DL but Mark Grudzielanek hit for the cycle and the Cards won anyway, their 6th in a row. They will face the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field next.

Nats blinded by sun and Phillies

In the battle of young studs, Chacin outduels Kazmir. Chacin improved to 4-1, limiting Tampa Bay to two runs and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. The former Met who was traded for chum like Victor Zambrano, Kazmir (0-2) remained winless in five starts, allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings.

Jumping ahead in the lead for the Poor Bastid Department, Indian Jake Westbrook fell to 0-5 for 2005.

And yes, it's finally happening! Chien-Ming Wang is finally joining the fabled Yankee starting rotation!

As I am wont to point out, even though he's Chinese, "Chien" is French for Dog and although his surname is spellt "Wang" it is pronounced "Wong" for some reason known only to Chinese linguists. So it's Dog Wong on the mound for the Yankees! Go get 'im boy! He is scheduled to start against the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Pitching Menu

Although there aren't any real attention-grabbing match ups tonight, on Friday night, two certain Hall of Fame pitchers AND 300 game winners will face each other when Chicago's Greg Maddux will face Houston's Roger Clemens in what should be somewhat of a match of the night from an historical perspective.

Maddux is 0-for-4 in his starts so far this season, and stuck on 305 career wins. The right-hander is coming off his longest and best outing so far. He held the Pirates to two runs on four hits over eight innings while striking out three in his last start. Clemens received a no-decision in his last outing, at St. Louis on April 23. He allowed four hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 0.32 and pushing his scoreless streak to 23 innings, but he was thwarted for the third straight time in his bid for his 330th win.

On the other hand, Mark Mulder, LHP (2-1, 3.10) Cardinals (14-5) will face former A's teammate Tim Hudson, RHP (2-0, 0.96) Braves (13-9) on Friday night also so the choice will be a hard one unless you fancy watching the D Train put the Phillies down.

Champions League

In what seemed at some stages more like a warm up to the rematch at Anfield next week, Chelsea and Liverpool drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge last night. Controversial Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was delighted at the result and he should know, having managed the Champions League Champion last season.

"I think it's a very good result," Mourinho said, beaming. "It's not the result we fought for. We tried to win the game but in a Champions League semi-final it's a very good result.

"We need to win or draw with goals...I think we can score goals. I'm very confident we can go to the final."

Mourinho said the result mirrored his experience in last year's semi-finals when Porto drew at home and won at Deportivo Coruna.


With another two months to go in the playoffs, who cares where everyone stands at the moment? Why doesn't Congress hold hearings on why the NBA season is so bloody long?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

O's Rolling Past AL East Foes

When you read the O's would be facing the cream of the crop over and over again this April you pretty much figured they'd be out of the AL East race by the end of the month.

Not true. Even after falling behind by 5 runs to the World Champion Red Sox last night, the Orioles roared back, tallied four runs in the fifth and eighth innings, including booming homers from Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez off Keith Foulke, in an 11-8 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The Orioles are now an unbelievable three full games in front of the AL East after 21 games.

The offense has been flying high. Sammy Sosa, Miquel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora lead the charge offensively. Between them, they have 115 hits, 21 homers, 69 RBIs in 21 games.

Fat Sid Ponson, despite an ERA as bloated as his physique at 6.85, is 3-1. Bruce Chen has been a suprise with 3.62 ERA and 2-1 record in four starts. Rodrigo Lopez performing up to expectation and higher with a 3.98 ERA and 2-1 record in five starts.

Clearly, the O's are on an upward curve these days.


You won't see a boxscore like this very often. A-Rod has a month in one game, 4 for 5, three homers and 10 RBIs. Yankees beat Angels, 12-4.

Hard to believe after a parade of sluggers like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Reggie that it is A-Rod who became the first to drive in 10 runs in one game at Yankee Stadium.

Only one Yankee had ever had more runs batted in during one game than Rodriguez: Tony Lazzeri, the Hall of Fame second baseman, drove in 11 on May 24, 1936, at Philadelphia, which is still the American League record. Only one other Yankee, Lou Gehrig, had more homers in a game. Gehrig hit four on June 3, 1932, also in Philadelphia.

Today's Pitching Menu.


While the NBA Playoffs go on without the Knicks, the Knicks have a little playoff of their own going on in the race for Phil Jackson.

Hard to believe that the Lakers could even BE in this race considering that Kobe's still on the team and was the man behind Jackson's outing last offseason.

The Knicks made the first bold move Monday, when Isiah Thomas, the team president, met with Jackson for several hours in Los Angeles. They each returned home yesterday, but they will probably speak again in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Rockets, Heat and Pistons all took quick 2-0 leads to all but eliminate the Dallas Mavericks, NJ Nets and 76ers all at once.


Lastly, competing with the Mets-Braves matchup tonight will be the massive Champions League matchup between Liverpool and Chelsea.

Arjen Robben is back for Chelsea and hopefully, that plus playing the opening match at Stamford Bridge will give them a boost.

AC Milan took the other semifinal opener over PSV, 2-0.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

What A Day: NFL Draft, Clemens-Mulder Showdown and NBA Playoffs Open

Ending weeks of speculation, the San Francisco 49ers decided Alex Smith, a 20-year-old from the University of Utah, would be their best hope to turn around a struggling franchise and the top pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.

While the 49ers banked on Smith's arm, this was a year for legs. Three running backs went in the first five picks - Ronnie Brown (Auburn) at No. 2 to Miami, Cedric Benson (Texas) at No. 4 to Chicago and Carnell Williams (Auburn) at No. 5 to Tampa Bay. It was the first time since 1989 that three running backs were selected in the top 10.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers, rated the second-best quarterback in the draft by many scouts, just a shade behind Smith. But more than four hours after Smith went No. 1, Rodgers sat uncomfortably in the green room - until Green Bay finally selected him at No. 24.

Although trade rumors as always were at a premium, there were only two ho-hum first-round deals yesterday. Houston dealt the 13th pick to New Orleans for the 16th selection and a third-round pick next year, and Seattle traded the No. 23 pick to Oakland for the No. 26 pick and a fourth-round pick (No. 105).

Of note, the Denver Broncos were the team to take a chance on the much-maligned Maurice Clarett, using a third-round pick to take a surprising gamble on one of the most divisive players in the history of college football.

The Detroit Lions were able to draft USC wideout Mike Williams, still available as the tenth pick, surprisingly.

The Cowboys Drafter two defensive ends.

For a quick overview, here are the First round thumbnails.

The Real Question to be answered as with every draft is who among them will be a Hall of Famer?

As for the NYC sides, after Doug Brien blew the playoffs for the Jets last season missing two field goals against the Steelers, guess what? their first pick in the draft was a kicker: Mike Nugent.

Nugent, from Ohio State, was the fourth kicker since 1988 to be selected in the first two rounds of the draft, and the first since Sebastian Janikowski was taken with the 17th overall pick, by Oakland in 2000.

In Nugent's senior season, he made 24 of 27 field goals (88.9 percent) and was 5 of 6 from beyond 50 yards. Against Marshall, he made a 55-yard attempt as time expired to give the Buckeyes a victory.

7 hours 10 minutes after the start of the N.F.L. draft, the Giants made their first selection, choosing Corey Webster, a cornerback from Louisiana State, in the second round with the 43rd pick.


Clemens, Mulder Duel

Mark Mulder, in his first win for the Cardinals since being traded from the A's, pitched 10 shutout innings as the Cards eked out a 1-0 win over the Astros and Roger Clemens. He needed a mere 101 pitches -- of which 75 went for strikes -- to finish his outing, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to go at least 10 innings since Jose DeLeon went 11 on Aug. 30, 1989. It was his ninth career shutout and 23rd complete game, but his first of each in a St. Louis uniform.

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens got zero run support. For the third consecutive start, Clemens pitched seven scoreless innings, but for his third consecutive start, the Astros lost 1-0 in extra innings.

Clemens held the Cardinals to four hits and four walks with six strikeouts, extending his scoreless-inning streak to 23 innings.

White Sox A Go-Go

The White Sox won their 6th straight and now, at 14-4, have marched their way to the best start in White Sox history.

Of the 104 Sox clubs that preceded them, only three others had started 13-4 -- the 1912, 1919 and 1935 teams. Each of those teams, though, lost their 18th game to fall to 13-5.

14-4 start has granted the Sox a 3 1/2-game lead in their division over the Twins. The third-place Indians are six games back, while the Tigers and Royals are 6 1/2 and nine games off the pace, respectively.

The White Sox are on pace to win the Central by 32 games. That would be a record. And they're on pace to win 126 games. That, too, would be a record. But they aren't interested in even talking about their own record -- yes, that 14-4 mark, the best in franchise history -- let alone other records that are months away, at best.

Mets Win Another From Nats

Over at Archie Bunker's Army there are details of how the Mets have beaten the Nats two in a row to keep pace with the Braves, one game behind the Marlins for the NL East lead.

D Train Keeps A Rollin'

Dontrelle Willis, working out of trouble time and again, improved to 4-0 despite a bumpy ride through six innings, giving up two runs while striking out seven. The Marlins held off the Reds, 4-2, in front of 23,623 at Dolphins Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

After Willis racked up 94 pitches on an 82-degree afternoon, Marlins relievers tossed three shutout innings to preserve the victory and keep the Marlins ahead of the pack in the NL East.

Today's Menu doesn't including many sterling starter duels:

Busch Stadium | 2:15 PM ET

Brandon Backe, RHP (1-0, 3.93) Astros (8-9) @ Matt Morris, RHP (1-0, 1.50)
Cardinals (11-5)

Backe earned the win in his last outing against the Braves on April 19, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 5-3 win. Backe was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA over six appearances versus St. Louis during the regular season in 2004.

Morris' second start of the year can hardly go any better than his first did. In his debut after offseason shoulder surgery, the right-hander hit the low 90s and threw an outstanding curveball. He makes his 2005 home debut against the Astros, a team that has seen him more than a few times over the years.

Wrigley Field | 2:20 PM ET

Josh Fogg, RHP (1-1, 2.45) Pirates (6-11) @ Kerry Wood, RHP (0-1, 6.38) Cubs (8-9)

Fogg is making his fourth start of the season. He has allowed four home runs, which account for his five earned runs allowed in 18 1/3 innings. He has struck out 14 batters during that span. Fogg has a 4-5 record and 6.08 ERA lifetime vs. the Cubs.
Wood is still searching for his first win after three starts. The right-hander has struck out 19 over 18 1/3 innings so far, but has also given up 21 hits and walked nine. In his last start against Cincinnati, he lasted six innings and struck out six.

NBA Playoff Begin

Both the Pistons and Rockets opened with big wins over the 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, respectively.

These playoffs promise to be longer than ever.

Yesterdays games:

76ERS (0-1) 85
PISTONS (1-0) 106

Points: A. Iverson (PHI) 30
Rebounds: S. Dalembert (PHI) 18
Assists: A. Iverson (PHI) 10

ROCKETS (1-0) 98
MAVERICKS (0-1) 86

Points: T. McGrady (HOU) 34
Rebounds: J. Howard (DAL) 10
Assists: T. McGrady (HOU) 6

PACERS (0-1) 82
CELTICS (1-0) 102
Points: S. Jackson (IND) 25
Rebounds: D. Davis (IND) 10
Assists: G. Payton (BOS) 7

KINGS (0-1) 82
Points: R. Allen (SEA) 28
Rebounds: J. James (SEA) 15
Assists: A. Daniels (SEA) 4

For the record, Sports Amnesia predicts a June final of Pistons and Spurs and if we get that far, we'll let you know the final result ahead of time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Both Sox In First

The White Sox have been doing it pretty much all season. They are an AL-best 11-4, their best 15 game start since 1980 and 1981. The Red Sox, after a dodgy sort of start to their season, appear to have stopped grinding their gears and ascended to the top of the AL East last night after The Fat Man won his second straight start and extended his run of scoreless innings to 15 as the Red Sox downed the O's 8-0. Amazingly, it was the first time in 12 games that Baltimore never led.

So now both Sox are in first. Well, the Red Sox are only tied for first with the O's and the White Sox are actually two games up on the Twins after they won two more from them at the beginning of the week. In the Wednesday editions of the Minnesota daily newspapers, Twins players such as Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones were quoted as saying that it's too early to worry about the White Sox's great start. You know they're getting worried if they're talking smack after getting humiliated by the same team both home and away. Whose Bitch Sox are they now?

The man who was to replace Magglio and really, Carlos Lee all in one fell swoop, Jermaine Dye, entered last night's series opener with the Tigers hitting .178, with two home runs and three RBIs, and carried an 11 at-bat hitless streak into the contest. Last night he had 4 RBIs leading the Sox over the Tigers 9-1.

Jon Garland, the fifth starter with the stats of an ace, improved to 3-0 in three starts and allowed one run on five hits over eight innings, walking two and striking out four. For the season, the right-hander has allowed only 21 total base runners over 21 innings and has yielded one home run. Garland gave up a career-worst 34 home runs during the 2004 campaign.

And with regard to their closer, with the White Sox holding a 3-0 lead over Minnesota in the ninth inning Tuesday night, the gong sounded and It's Shingo Time flashed on the U.S. Cellular scoreboard. Last season at one point Takatsu was retiring 29 straight hitters last May and June and hurling 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Now he's being pulled for the Marvelous Marte after retiring Nick Punto on a ground out, allowing Shannon Stewart to double and Matthew LeCroy to single home the first run. Before facing the left-handed hitting Joe Mauer, who had two home runs and three hits off of Takatsu in three previous at-bats, Guillen summoned Marte.

Takatsu exited with a 12.27 ERA, eight hits allowed over 3 2/3 innings, and a team-high four home runs given up. Not all the clouds have silver linings.

No More For No Mah

Although hitting only .157 so far this season, it still must have been stunning for Cubs fans to see Nomar Garciaparra carried off the field with a groin injury in the 3rd inning of last night's first big matchup against the hated St Louis Cardinals.

Perhaps replacing him will be A new 25th man if the Goat Riders of the Apocalypse have anything to say about it. Well, they don't yet, actually.

No matter however as the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano allowed only 5 hits and one run in 8 2/3 innings and the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 3-1 and LaTroy Hawkins earned his first save of the season. The win pushed the Cubs one game over .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

As Bleed Cubbie Blue notes:

The Cubs seemed to come out and approach this game with a sense of purpose. It may be too early to have one of those "message" games, but winning at St. Louis, a house of horrors for years, in decisive fashion in front of a full house, has to buoy the spirits and confidence of every single member of the ballclub.

Nats Snap Winless Run, Tied For First

Zach Day yielded only three singles in seven scoreless innings and Jose Vidro had a two-run homer as the Nationals snapped their little two-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the stinkin' Braves in front of 27,374 who enjoyed the first shutout in Nationals history.

In the "other" NL East matchup with consequence, the Marlins won the fifth straight, this time over the Mets. Archie Bunker's Army has the details. The Marlins and Nats are tied for first.

Dodgers On Baseball's Biggest Roll

Eight straight and counting. It took them 10 innings but last night the Dodgers managed to beat the Padres 3-1 to increase their lead in the NL West to 4 1/2 games behind Jose Valentin's two out two run 10th inning single.

The Dodgers now have the best record in baseball and matched the best start in franchise history. The 1940 and '55 Dodgers, then based in Brooklyn, also opened 12-2.

The Padres have now lost four straight to the defending NL West champion Dodgers, including a three-game weekend sweep at Dodger Stadium, when they were outscored 18-3. They are 7-8 for the season.

Sheffield Exonerated

Not many times you'd see that headline in real life but it appears the for a change MLB is acting wisely and has decided not to punish Sheffield. The commissioner's office ruled that Sheffield would not be fined or suspended for his role in the incident last Thursday where an idiot tried to side-swipe his face whilst he was trying to catch a fly ball and then another idiot dumped a beer on him. Both of the Red Sox fans involved were barred from games the rest of the season. The local constabulary was even seeking charges against them as well. Put 'em in the drunk tank with Otis.

The Yankees celebrated by joining the Red Sox in pounding the Blue Jays, who no longer look very invinsible after facing the "real" contenders in the AL East. Then again, they didn't have The Miraculous Chacin on the mound for them.

Despite having what many thought was the best starting rotation in baseball, the Yankees experienced their first "quality" start last night when Carl Pavano cruised to victory in working eight innings, the longest outing by a Yankee this season, and allowing one earned run, seven hits and no walks.

Pirates Worse Than Usual

It's hard to imagine but at 4-11, the Pirates are off to worst start since 1995. I thought they started like this every season but apparently, there is usually a very brief orgasmic sense of dillusionment every season before reality sets in like cement boots. This season, the Pirates appear to be trying to save their fans the misery and let them know straight away that their worst fears are confirmed: The Pirates still suck.

Not even their ace feels like playing along. Oliver Perez was the Pirates next dream ace but in four starts this season, he's 0-2 with a 9.00 earned run average. Last season, he was 12-10 with a 2.98 earned run average.

Barry Barry Late

In case you're missing him and you're not a Giants fan, it appears that Barry The Martyr Bonds has been unable to begin any baseball-related activities since the second arthroscopic operation on his right knee and no timetable has been set for his return.

I suspect it's all the media's fault.

Today's Menu

Today's probable starters don't promise too many ace to ace matchups but a few that will be interesting:

Pedro @ Al Leiter, Part II

Moose @ Chacin: Mussina allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings, though he gave up seven hits and walked three batters. Mussina's command has been spotty this season, as he has walked eight hitters in 16 2/3 innings. Chacin has allowed just three earned runs in 19 innings and is coming off last Saturday's outing in which he shut out the powerful Rangers lineup over eight innings, allowing only two hits.

Smoltz @ Patterson: Smoltz has seen opponents score in just two of the past 15 innings he's appeared. His offense has provided him a total of two runs in three starts. Patterson will face the Braves for the fourth time in his career on Thursday. He is 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA against them.

Buehrle @ Bonderman: Chisox look for more. Saturday's 2-1 victory over Seattle was impressive even for Buehrle, where the exceptional is the norm. Buehrle struck out a career-high 12 and allowed three hits, all to Ichiro Suzuki, during the complete game effort. Buehrle, whose 960 innings are tops in the game since 2001, recorded his 16th complete game in just one hour, 39 minutes. Bonderman, who has two victories against the weak-hitting Royals this year, but was roughed up by Cleveland, gets another crack at an AL Central foe.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Week Ahead

From mlb:


Marlins at Nationals: Florida's young starters make first trip to D.C., new home of NL East-leading Nationals.
Mets at Phillies: Red-hot Mets, winners of six of last seven, head to Philly tied with Braves, Marlins and Phillies, all two games behind Nationals.
Twins at White Sox: Matchup of rivals and early AL Central co-leaders.
Blue Jays at Red Sox: Surprising Jays get stiff test in Beantown.

Wednesday-Thursday Series

Cubs at Cardinals: Chicago and St. Louis, preseason favorites in NL Central, renew their heated rivalry.
Braves at Nationals: Braves next up to take shot at NL East leaders in nation's capital.
Red Sox at Orioles: Red Sox take on AL East's surprise, the division-leading Orioles.
Athletics at Mariners: Battle between two of three co-leaders in AL West, in which Angels are also on top and Rangers are just a half-game back.

Weekend series

Orioles at Blue Jays: Early AL East surprises go head-to-head in Toronto.
Athletics at Angels: Another matchup of leaders in what promises to be a hotly contested division all season.
Dodgers at Rockies: Los Angeles, sporting an MLB-best 9-2 mark, gets its first Mile High test of the season.
Reds at Marlins: Homer- (and strikeout-) happy Reds face Marlins' young fireballers in battle of power vs. power.

King George And His Beautiful Balloon Of Hot Air

"Enough is enough," The Boss said after an 8-4 loss to the Orioles, the Yankees' fourth straight defeat and eighth in 10 games.

"I am bitterly disappointed, as I am sure all Yankee fans are, by the lack of performance by our team. It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk.

They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around."

Douchebag Gets First Payback

The cost of his season's tickets refunded to him. The douchebag who tried to interfere with smack help Gary Sheffield as he tried to catch that quasi infamous ball had his season's tickets revoked.

What an idiot. The first season he gets to watch his Red Sox defend their World Championships he's going to be watching it from the telly the rest of the year!

Joining him on the idiot parade is the fan who spilled beer on Sheffield who was prohibited from buying tickets for the rest of the season.

Yeah! Way to support your team!

DC Sports On The Rise

Tony Kornheiser, reeking of his typical schmaltz, sings the newest song of the season in DC Cluck If You Love The Nats.

"It's a terrific time for sports in Washington. The Nationals have a better record than the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Wizards have a better record than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Redskins haven't had any players march in and ask to be traded in at least three days. Finally, there's something to do in May, June and July besides wait for Redskins camp to open. That feels good, doesn't it?"

Twins @ White Sox

Quick preview of another bloody series for first place in the AL Central from The Trib

Who's hot: The Twins have won six of their last seven with a combined ERA under 3.15. Sox wrecker Torii Hunter has a team-leading three home runs and 12 RBIs despite a .239 average. Joe Crede has an eight-game hitting streak, and Paul Konerko has six home runs in his first 13 games.
Who's not: Twins regulars Shannon Stewart (.220), Lew Ford (.220) and Michael Cuddyer (.231) are off to slow starts. Sunday's 0-for-4 dropped Jermaine Dye's average to .190. Tadahito Iguchi was 1-for-18 before his RBI single Sunday.

Around the Links

Things You Don't Do To Big Z via Goatriders of the Apocalypse.

Manny Ramirez Stuffing His Gob With McDonalds via Destination Dynasty

"...When I interrupted, bringing up Hee-Seop Choi and delivering my own "I told you" he's a stiff speech.

"I'm very confident in his ability," DePodesta insisted. "He's still a young player who is still getting his legs under him."

I thought the problem was Choi couldn't hit; I had no idea he was still learning to walk, which might explain why the Micro Manager vaulted Jason Grabowski ahead of Choi on Saturday night. The first big move this season."
from TJ Simers

I know I've heard about Doug Christie's poosy-whipped whinge before but this is rich:

"Just when you thought you'd heard it all in the ongoing adventures of pampered professional millionaires, out marches Doug Christie, his ubiquitous wife and his histrionic sports agent.

In one of the most bizarre and comically entertaining interviews ever witnessed, the Christie clan went on with WFTV-Channel 9 sports anchor Dan Hellie this past week and attacked Magic General Manager John Weisbrod because -- are you ready for this? -- Weisbrod didn't protect poor, little Dougie from the mean ol' media. Shame on Weisbrod for not being able to write my column for me."

via Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

"Christie uses the word "ridiculous" numerous times during the Channel 9 interview, but nothing could be more laughable than the melodrama of his sports agent holding up for the cameras a plastic sandwich bag filled with indiscernible bone spurs taken from Christie's ankle during a recent surgery. This may go down as the most farcical scene in a televised interview since Dan Quayle was running for vice president.

It's no wonder VH1 chose the Christies for a reality show; these people are kookier than the Osbournes. Do they actually believe Weisbrod can dictate what is written here? What do they think this column is, anyway -- Jerry Greene's Cheap Seats?"

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Surprise, Surprise, Yankees In the Cellar

Two weeks after winning the opening game of the season on a Sunday night, the Yankees start the third Sunday of the season with a 4-7 record, their worst start in 14 years.

Last night's 7-6 loss to the Orioles was another example of the bullpen's collapse. Set-up man Tom Gordon took his second loss in as many games after a run, a hit and a walk in 1 1/3 innings and the O's took their second straight from the Yankees at home after a 5 run 7th inning which was capped by Brian Roberts' three run homer. Roberts went 2-for-4 with two walks to raise his batting average to .444. The 5-foot-9 second baseman already has five home runs (in 11 games), matching his career high and eclipsing the four he hit last season in 159 games.

I thought this photo was interesting for the guy holding up the sign over the Yankees dugout as Moose was walking back off the mound: "Five Years Later You're Still a Traitor. How's the Ring Fit?"

O's closer BJ Ryan struck out Matsui with the bases loaded and two outs in the 8th.

Yanksfan v Soxfans points out that the Yankees of yesterday, looked alot like the Yankees of the 80s:

Aging lefty ace who seems past his prime:
Then: Gator
Now: Unit

Overpriced, underwhelming pitching imports:
Then: Witson, Tewksbury, Drabek
Now: Wright, Pavano

Dominant top of the order:
Then: Ricky, Willie, Donnie, Winnie
Now: Derek, Alex, Gary, Hideki

Genuine Yankee God:
Then: Donnie
Now: Derek

Bullpen closer prone to giving up leads:
Then: Rags
Now: SturGorMo


Two days after the incident with the jerkoff fan in Boston (hmmm, is there any other kind of fan in Boston?), Gary Sheffield homered, drove in three runs and scored twice for the Yankees in the losing effort.

Now the jerkoff fan, otherwise known as Tom House, has friends who want to stick up for him.

Mike Dee, the Sox chief operation officer, said in a statement the Sox are "examining the incident from a variety of perspectives: security, legal, and ballpark operations, so that we can determine an appropriate course of action based on full information." and revocation of House's season tickets remains an option, as does his arrest.

Unfortunately, if House's tickets were revoked, he would receive a full refund from the club, according to the policy. A full summary of the event itself, including biased opinions from idiot Red Sox fans, can be found here. In particular I enjoyed the comments of a poster named Rick who notes:

I'd have like to see him drag the idiot over the little wall and beat him senseless on the field. Next time somebody wanted to reach over the fence, not to distract a player, but even just to disrupt the game and swoop up a ball, they would think twice...One fan ruins it for everyone, and Red Sox fans should be embarrassed, but they should be even more embarrassed if they find any way to defend that loser."

Exclusive photos of the incident can be found here.

Hopefully, the same Idiot Collective that is running MLB doesn't get indignant and suspend Sheffield for even a game since it sends the wrong message to fans. Act like an asshole and get your worst rivals star player suspended.

Perhaps this swirl of media propogated controversy is good for the Yankees as it takes some of the glare way from the fact that whilst the Mets have won 6 in a row, the Yankees have lost 5 of 6 and must be embarassing King George to no end by now.


Meanwhile on the Left Coast, the Dodgers have done the exact opposite by getting off to their best start since 1983, without their ace closer, the nearly-indominable Eric Gagne and with their top free agent batter, JD Drew, hitting .135.

In fact, as Dodger Hill points out:

"The Dodgers currently have five players on the DL that would be on the team if healthy. That’s a fifth of the roster on the DL and a third of the pitching staff."

Yesterday, they won their second straight game over division rivals, the San Diego Padres and have a two and a half game lead over the Diamondbacks. Jeff Kent, the player the Dodgers were heavily criticised for signing in the off season for too much money, is hitting .405 for the season with 3 homers and 12 RBIs in 10 games.

Even notorious hothead Milton Bradley has a new approach.

Frankly, any time you've got the washed out Scott Erickson recording a win for you, you have to count your blessings and hope you can hold on until the reinforcements arrive.


Nat Attack

With a four game winning streak, the Nats are perhaps the surprise of the National League, leading the NL East, just ahead of the Braves and the Mets. Enjoy it while you can, Nat Heads because the Mets are moving quickly up the line.

Some remarks about the stars that came out for Opening Night for baseball in DC from The Nats Blogspot:

"There were numerous celebrities or quasi-celebrities sitting around us, including John McCain, George Will, Darrell Green, Bob Novak and Fred Barnes. We had as good or better seats than all but John McCain, who was wearing a D-Backs hat anyway and likely was not sitting in his own seats."

Food was apparently a crisis for the Nats opener. Washington Nationals President Tony Tavares said some Aramark food vendors ran out of hot dogs and nacho cheese, specifically on the fifth level of the stadium.

District of Baseball had pretty broad coverage of the game and the difficulties.

If you can't get a hotdog in the 6th, so long as the Nats keep winning, I suppose the fans will be happy.

Last night former Diamondback John Patterson pitched seven shutout innings to help the Nationals defeat the Diamondbacks, 9-3, in front of 34,943 fans at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, judging by the lack of commentary on it, there were enough hot dogs available but the pitcher's mound is no good:

"The main issue, manager Frank Robinson said, is that there's not enough clay near the rubber. When the pitcher digs in, the hole becomes too large."

It didn't seem to hurt Patterson too much last night. The Diamondbacks had a runner on second base with less than two outs only once in the game against the right-hander.

"That's the best I've ever seen him pitch," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "The slider has ended up being a big pitch for him. The slider might be his best pitch right now, at least today. He threw more strikes. The two-seamer is a very playable pitch for him -- that was outstanding."

Vinny Castilla seems to like it at RFK as well. For the second straight game, he went 3-for-3 with a home run -- this one a two-run shot off Russ Ortiz (1-1) in the fourth. He has now reached base in all eight of his plate appearances at RFK, and his home slugging percentage is a ridiculous 2.667.

AL Central Tightens Up

Mark Buehrle had a dominating performance for the White Sox yesterday, defeating the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in a mere 1 hour, 39 minutes by pitching a complete game while fanning 12, walking one and allowing only three hits and one run -- all to Eee-Chee-Row.

Paul Konerko hit leadoff home runs in the second and seventh innings to give the Sox their only two runs. The home runs were numbers five and six on the season for Konerko, giving him the most in the Major Leagues so far this season. It was the twelfth (12th) multi-homer game of Konerko's career and his first this season.

In addition to his pair of homers, Konerko also made a brilliant, diving stop of a line drive in the 9th inning.

The Sox are still clinging to their first place spot but the hard-charging Twins, who have now matched the Mets for the longest winning streak of the season at 6 in a row, are also tied with the Sox for first place behind two three run homers by the Twins Lew Ford and Torii Hunter.

Last night lefty Dave Gassner made his major league debut a winning one by floating changeups in the low 70 mph range and spinning curveballs in the mid-to-high 60s to help the Twins to a 6-4 victory over the Indians. Gassner became only the third Twins pitcher since 1980 to win his big league debut, joining Eric Milton (1998) and Scott Erickson (1990). He was recalled from Class AAA Rochester when right-hander Carlos Silva went on the disabled list with torn cartilage in his right knee April 9.

Meanwhile, Indian free agent signee, Kevin Millwood, lost his second of the season with no wins.

Blue Jays Still Atop AL East

Can we say whether or not Blue Jays new ace Gustavo Chacin was a flower waiting to blossom this season? Now that he's 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and perhaps leading the AL Cy Young chase already, we can look back on last season and see that he won a combined 20 games, 17-2 at New Hampshire (AA) (includes 1-0 postseason), 2-0 with Syracuse (AAA) and 1-1 with Toronto.

Smoltz Loses Third Straight

His season as a starter is not starting well. After yesterday's 2-1 loss to the Phillies, he is now 0-3 to start the season despite two straight gems in a row. Smoltz dominated the Phillies for five innings before yielding a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollins in the sixth and a pair of walks that set up Chase Utley's clutch, two-out hit, a game-winning RBI single in the 6th.

Utley owns a .429 lifetime average against Smoltz.

Former Yankee and current Phillies ace Jon Lieber (3-0, 2.49 ERA) got the victory but the Phillies are still down in the last place of the NL East.


As always, Archie Bunker's Army has the lowdown on the Mets and their current 6 game winning streak.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Opening Day Night In DC Draws A Crowd

What irony: the city of Washington gets it's first team in 12,251 days and the guy to throw out their opening pitch is nicknamed Dubya to match the Dubya on the front of team's caps. Sure, lots of Opening Day pitches thrown by presidents but how many of them were previous baseball owners?

One of them had even been traded during George the Terrible's reign as owner of the Texas Rangers (the team the last Washington team became).

As Thomas Boswell notes, Good Times Are Here Again, all 45,596 of them:

"However, it wasn't just the box seats that bounced. The entire upper deck, including the press box, began the same unmistakable swaying up and down that marked so many touchdowns in the Redskins' glory days. Then you could see the whole upper deck sway. The Nationals crowd hasn't quite got the knack of it yet, not after one game. But they're learning fast. All that was required was one Washington run after 33 vacant seasons and the place rocked on its old hinges."

Not only was the platable excitment at the return of baseball in DC shaking some excitement but the Nats even managed to win the game over the Arizona Diamondbacks and Javier Vasquez (ironically, an ex-Expo himself) by a 5-3 margin and their ace, Livian Hernandez took a one-hitter into the 9th inning before the adrenaline finally ran out.

Joining Hernandez as a star for the night was high profile acquisition Vinny Castilla going 3 for 3 and driving in four runs by smoking a double, triple and a home run.

Whether it is to be believed or not, the Nationals have now won three straight, and remain atop the National League East.

Even the visitors had nice things to say. "Us, as players, we're excited not to be playing in Montreal," Arizona outfielder Luis Gonzalez said. "We had what -- 40,000 or 50,000 people tonight? If we had been there, they'd have had 2,000."

Even the unhappy were content:

According to the NY Times, Outside the stadium, Mark Plotkin was distributing T-shirts that said, "Taxation Without Representation," a protest against the District of Columbia not having voting representatives in Congress.

"It's anti-American," Plotkin said during his moment in the sun. "And then we invited the president of the United States to throw out the first ball. We have Stockholm Syndrome. We identify with our captors."

Still, Plotkin, a commentator for WTOP radio who said he was acting as a private citizen in his spare time, said he was glad there was a baseball team back in D.C.

So long as they get out of first place in time for the Mets to take it over, well, we can all be happy for them, for now. Wave for the cameras, Mr Angelos.

Sheffield V Fan

This early in the season it almost doesn't really matter that the Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees in this home series or that the Yankees still lead the season series 4 games to 3. Nor did it matter in the end that the Yankees' massive free agent coup of the off season, Randy Johnson, surrendered 3 homers against the main team he was hired to beat as the Yankees lost 8-5.

What mattered most and perhaps WILL matter most as time goes on this season is that in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sheffield fielding Jason Varitek's two-run triple along the low right-field fence, a fan swung a short uppercut in his direction, appearing to graze the side of his face with his right arm.

"Something hit me in the mouth. It felt like a hand," Sheffield said. "I thought my lip was busted."

After Sheffield picked up the ball, he shoved the fan before throwing the ball back to the infield as two runs scored. Another fan's beer also sprayed in Sheffield's direction.

"I tried to get his hand out of my face so I could continue on with the play," he said. "To get punched in the mouth, you don't expect that in a baseball game."

Sadly this will probably bring another round of pointless debate about fans v players and bring back more recalls of the Pacers/Pistons/Fan Fist Fight a few months ago. Frankly, it's too bad Sheffield didn't just deck the guy and it's too bad that if he had, he wouldn't have been allowed to get away with it. People like that, who interfere with a game or throw shit down on players from a safe distance or actually take swings at players, should be dealt with the full force of their actions - that doesn't mean running off and hiding in the crowd like a coward nor having some absurd "ban" from coming to the games or even the handslap of being ejected from the game. The stadiums should have thugs who take care of people like that in backrooms so that such a fan not only isn't allowed back but wouldn't be able to walk properly the rest of the lives if they did. Really, if there's something I hate more than Peter Angelos, Bud Selig and the Congressional investigation of steroids, it's fans who interfere with games and fans who assault players or umpires.

Fortunately for Sheffield, he didn't explode. He whirled around with a cocked fist, shouting in the face of the first man -- but he stumbled, seemed to lose his balance and then stopped short of getting close enough to shove or strike the fan. A security official quickly jumped over the three-foot wall to separate the two.

Joe Torre, summed it all up perfectly:

"These people shouldn't be allowed to walk the streets, much less come to a ballgame. The sad part about it is, it's a handful of people who screw it up for everyone."

When Sheffield was asked what prevented him from retaliating a second time, he answered "Ron Artest," referencing one of the Indiana Pacers players involved in the N.B.A. skirmish among the Pacers, the Detroit Pistons and fans at the Palace at Auburn Hills in Michigan.

"That's the first thing that came to my mind," Sheffield said. "Don't react. That's what I did."

It's a pity but still, it'd have been nice to see Sheffield beat the shit out of the Red Sox fan nonetheless. Let's face it, after six months of listening to their joyous arrogance and incessant replaying of one bloody moment as a footnote in time, isn't that pretty much what most of us want to do by now anyway?

And while all this was going on another story was bured and that was How A-Rod Starred As Superhero saving an 8 year old boy from getting hit by a truck.

Thursday he was standing in a crosswalk on Newbury Street near downtown Boston at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when he saw the boy starting to run across the street into the path of an onrushing truck.

Allegedly, Rodriguez reached out and grabbed the boy, pulling him back and saving him from certain damage.

Perhaps the life he saved will grow up to become another annoying Red Sox fan who takes cheapshots at opposing players in the middle of a play. Let's hope not.

Blue Jays Keep Rolling

Anyone kicking themselves yet about not foreseeing the miraculous resurrection of the Toronto Blue Jays after losing Carlos Delgado yet? Aha, but it is only a few games so far even if the Jays are playing a far more exciting and far more energetic baseball than the two kings of their division are capable of playing at the moment.

This isn't a team of ageing free agents and mercenaries. This is a young and hungry team that are in first place in the AL East.

Last night former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay shut down the Rangers in a 2-1 win.

The final score brought two telling milestones: Halladay got his first complete game in nearly a year and the Jays have now won the opener in three of their first four series.

Halladay, who is now 2-0, held the Rangers to five hits and struck out nine.

It was Halladay's 16th career complete game and his first since a year ago today, against the Detroit Tigers. He spared no one, striking out Michael Young three times and Hank Blalock twice. Young, who has a .330 career average against the Blue Jays, had a nine-game hitting streak snapped. Blalock went into the game hitting .417 and had multiple hits in four of his past six games.

Sox Stop Short of Sweep

The best team in Chicago, the new and improved White Sox, lost their third straight series finale, and were denied a three-game sweep for the third time in 2005.

Now they will return to Chicago after a successful roadtrip that saw them take 4 of 6 against the Twins and Indians, their primary rivals in the AL Central this season and still atop first place.

Proving that it's dangerous to have him on the field, White Sox traditional DH, Carl Everett, made an outstretched attempt for the blast but couldn't come up with the ball.

Instead, Everett got a face full of the left-field wall. Whe collision briefly knocked out Everett and caused a contusion to his left shoulder blade. After the game, both Everett and manager Ozzie Guillen said the hot-hitting designated hitter could miss the series opener against Seattle, but otherwise is day to day.

The Sox also found out that Frank Thomas' return was derailed when he required rest and a cortisone shot in a setback in his rehabilitation because of tendinitis in his surgically repaired left ankle.

Good thing they're going for small ball this season because with Thomas and Everett both hurt, they've got no real long ball to speak of anymore.

Mets Win Fourth In A Row

Although they aren't doing as fabulously as the Nats and although they have the deadly pitching of the Florida Marlins to face next, the Mets have to be pretty happy to have won their fourth in a row after losing the first 5 of the season.

Today's Menu

Cubs: If they're good enough for the Brewers to beat up on, why not let the Cubbies have a swing at the rotten Pittsburgh Pirates? They open a weekend series against the Pirates with Carlos Zambrano (1-0 2.25) taking the mound. The right-hander had good success against the Pirates last year, going 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

Twins: Have last year's Cy Young winner Johann Santana (2-0 4.50) taking the mound for them against the Cleveland Indians and Jake Westbrook (0-2 7.20)

Red Sox: The Fat Man David Wells starts for them against the Devil Rays and is still looking for his first win of the season after an 0-2 8.44 start.

Mets-Marlins: The red hot Josh Beckett (2-0 0.00) for the Marlins. Beckett hasn't allowed a run in two starts, a span of 15 innings. He comes off the second complete-game shutout of his career, blanking Washington, 8-0, on Sunday. He struck out 11. His other regular-season complete game, also a shutout, was last Aug. 31 against the Mets at Shea Stadium.

The Mets will start...Aaron Heilman. Hmmm. Wonder who will win this one?

Angels @ A's Open with the potentially exciting Bartolo Colon (1-1 4.97) v Barry Zito (0-2 11.57) duel although neither has pitched very well so far this season. Zito had the worst outing of his career last time out, allowing 11 runs (eight earned) over 3 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay.

Padres @ Dodgers, Cards @ Brewers are some more intra-divisional matchups this weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Cubs Aces Split: One Good, One Bad

The Cubs unveiled their dynamic duo in a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres.

You'd probably have assumed that the ace who had yet to start a game this season in the major leagues would have the hardest outing of the two but as it turned out, Mark Prior, slammed by none other than the Albuquerque Isotopes last week, was the sole ace to come out with a victory as he won the second game of the doubleheader, 8-3.

The other ace, Kerry Wood, had almost the polor opposite result, allowing seven runs on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter in 62/3 innings of the opener of the doubleheader, allowing four first-inning runs with last year's National League ERA leader, Jake Peavy, on the mound for the Padres. For all but the changeup, the Padres report said Wood had "below-average" control.

Wood's first inning validated the Padres' assessment. Wood allowed four runs on three hits, a hit batsman and two walks, including a leadoff home run to Geoff Blum in the Cubs' 8-3 loss.

The split means that nine games into the season, the 4-5 Cubs have a losing record.

On the Southside of Chicago however, the White Sox's 6-2 start equals their best since 1991. The win also represented their third comeback victory.

Schilling Tires In Return To Fenway; Mariano Doesn't

Curt Schilling, who like Mark Prior bombed in a minor league warm-up game last week, started against the New York Yankees yesterday for the first time since his absurdly dramatic bloody sock performance.

For the first four innings, he looked like he hadn't missed a beat, shutting the Yankees down and striking out the first two batters he faced before losing steam in the fifth and sixth innings, and the Yankees capitalized with five runs in those two innings, including a two run homer by steroid casualty Jason Giambi, handing Schilling a quick loss.

Jared Wright, who would not have been starting yet for the Yankees had Kevin Brown not been hurt, worked five innings and threw 97 pitches, was charged with two runs on six hits and four walks, striking out two to earn his first win as a Yankee. However, it was no proverbial walk in the park. He flirted with disaster early, escaping a first-inning jam with runners at second and third and one out. In the third, he loaded the bases with one out for Yankees-killer David Ortiz, who could only lift a sacrifice fly to put Boston up, 1-0.

Mariano Rivera closed out the game, earning his second save with a scoreless 9th inning that saw his ERA drop to 4.91 and saw him earn a modicum of redemption after blowing two saves against the Red Sox last week at Yankee Stadium.

Nats Tied For First By Pounding Braves in 9th

It's always a good day when the Braves lose but it's even more encouraging when the Braves lose because their bullpen gets cooked and yesterday, Braves-haters were treated to both for the second day in a row as the Nats pounded Braves relievers for 6 runs in the 9th to win 11-4.

Just the game before the Braves had a 4-3 two-out, two-run double to win that game after trailing 3-1 in the 9th.

The double victory and double humiliation of the Braves' bullpen left the Nats tied for first in the NL East as they ease into their first-ever home opener.

Lifted off the pages of the Washington Post:

"Home of the Nationals
The Nationals' home opener brings baseball back to the same stadium but to a very different Washington -- a city more hectic, vain, wealthy, expensive and dynamic in a region that is far bigger, richer and more diverse than either was three decades ago.

Then . . .
• Per capita income
in the District = $22,043
• Median home value = $21,300
• Percentage of D.C. residents with a four-year college degree = 23%

. . . Now
• Per capita income
in the District = $50,301
• Median home
value (2004) = $316,000
• Percentage of D.C. residents with a four-year college
degree (2003) = 44.2%"

The Nats will face the Diamondbacks in their RFK Debut.

President Bush will throw out the first pitch. Former Washington Senators will take the field. Commissioner Bud Selig will be in the stands. A full-scale Washington event.

Mets Win Pitching Duel in 11th, 1-0 For Third In a Row

Normally I would just refer you over to Archie Bunker's Army but as the game went into extra innings, there is no report just yet. Probably will be by the time you're reading this though. Suffice it to say that the Astros wasted a superb pitching performance from Roger Clemens. They stranded nine baserunners. They looked at called third strikes five times. Oh, and did I mention they wasted a 7 inning two hit, 9 strikout shutout performance by Clemens? Oh, the pity, hahaha.


The D Train keeps rolling as Dontrelle Willis pitched his second straight complete game shutout of the season.

The Phillies came into this three-game series having scored the most runs in the Major Leagues. They limped out after adding just six runs to their total. The Marlins have won 26 of their last 36 against the Phillies which pretty much confirms that the Phillies will not be winning the NL East this season.

The Nats, Marlins and Braves are all tied for first in the NL East with 5-4 records followed by the Phillies at 4-4 and the fast-moving Mets who have won three straight, at 3-5.


The Diamondbacks, everybody's punching bag last season, have won 4 games in a row and are only a half game behind the Dodgers for first in the NL West.


The Colorado Rockies, on the other hand, won their Opening Game and have now lost 7 in a row, easily making them the worst team in baseball so far.


The Milwaukee Brewers have opened the season playing five of their first eight games against the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates, are in first place FOR NOW in the NL Central. What was once one of the toughest divisions in the league is now, well rather pathetic with each one of the alleged leaders taking dives and taking it on the chin.

Today's Menu

Well, the most sought-out game tonight might well be in DC as Javier Vazquez faces the franchise he pitched for from 1998-2003 and of course, the Nationals play their first game in Washington, D.C. Livian Hernandez, who faces Arizona for the 15th time in his career, is 7-6 with a 3.69 ERA against them. Not exactly a pitching duel extraordinaire but certainly Nats fans would settle for a victory.

The Unit faces the Red Sox for the second time this season in what has thus far been a strangely uninteresting season opening for both teams and the rivalry. Randy Johnson will face none other than Bronson Arroyo. Last year against the Yankees, Arroyo started four games and didn't get a decision in any of them. Unless Randy strikeouts out 18, this is probably another set of zzzzzzs.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Sox Ceremony Sucks But Not As Much As Yankees, 8-1

Oh yeah, we should all probably be happy for New England and their 86 year old sigh of relief. Hopefully, yesterday was the last we'll have to hear about it but just a tiny excerpt was seeing the Yankees standing at the top of their dugouts applauding the Sox for their rings. I couldn't help but contrast it to the classless boasting of the Red Sox following their World Championship.

The game itself was appropriately, a mismatch as the Sox pounded Mike Mussina.

The Yankees fall was led yet again by Red Sox Most Valuable Choker, A-Clod. Rodriguez helped Boston break the game open in the bottom of the inning, committing an error on a routine grounder hit by Johnny Damon.

"I was a little overaggressive," Rodriguez said. "I knew Johnny got out of the box pretty good, but I should have played it back a little more."

More like, you choked like a dog yet again, second error against the Sox. The error extended the inning for the Red Sox, who capitalized by scoring three runs, two on Trot Nixon's double, a ball which glanced off the glove of Gary Sheffield, who appeared to lose it in the sun.

Following his error, Rodriguez heard it from the Fenway faithful, as the 33,702 in attendance chanted "A-Rod! A-Rod!" in unison. Rodriguez said it reminded him of the 1980s, when opposing fans would taunt the Mets' Darryl Strawberry with chants of "Dar-ryl!"

"I think I'm becoming a cult hero in Boston," Rodriguez said. "I really don't want that at all."

Well, playing like a man instead of a mouse might be helpful.

Sox fans also cheered Mariano in a standing ovation, a thanks for blowing two saves against the Red Sox in last October's ALCS, then blowing two more last week at Yankee Stadium. Oh, those clever Red Sox fans know who to love, don't they? Meanwhile, For 200 Million You Expect More.

Cubs Shut Out At Home

Meanwhile, in the city (as Jim Caple notes) that hasn't had a ring since the final year of Teddy Roosevelt's administration and haven't played in one since the last year of Franklin Roosevelt's administration, the Cubs fell to 3-4 on the season with a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.

Jeromy Burnitz's 6th inning error led to the only Padre run and to make matters worse, the replacement Sosa struck out on bad pitches with a full count to end both the sixth and eighth innings with runners in scoring position.

Now Cubs fans can turn their attention to Mark Prior, who will be making his first start of the season today against the Padres despite giving up 7 runs in six innings against AAA fare in his last outing.

"Other" Chicago Team Wins

And whilst the Cubs were busy coughing up another fur ball, their crosstown brethren, the White Sox, 88 years waiting for a World Series, were led by last year's key acquisition, Freddy Garcia, who retired the last 14 Indians he faced, limited them to four hits and has held them to two runs in 14 innings this season as he dueled the Indians Kevin Millwood. Garcia is 10-0 with a 2.29 ERA in day games going back to the start of last season.

Although they mustered about as much offence as the Cubs, Sox starters have posted a 2.44 ERA through the first seven games - key to their 5-2 start.

Perhaps most interesting was the 26 mph "breeze" blowing in. Think that added a few mphs on pitching velocity?

Royal Disappointment

What's it like being a KC Royals fan? Well, you get a record crowd of 41,788 in to see your home opener, proving the eternal optimism of the Midwest outside of Chicago, and then you watch your team get crushed by the sad-sack Mariners, 8-2. In truth, they were probably all there to watch hitting machine Ee-Chee-Row go 2 for 5 and drop his batting average down to a more human .464 --

Nats No Match For Braves

After their humiliating defeat to the Mets yesterday, the Braves bounced back to trounce the Nats 11-2. Mike Hampton (8 innings pitched, 7 hits one run and two hits himself to go to 2-0) was a model of efficiency and got help from Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones in the form of two two-run homers as the Braves rolled the Nationals on Monday in the two clubs' first meeting.

Don't look now kids but for the first time in this young season -- not to mention in their nascent history -- the Nationals have a losing streak, albeit a modest two games.

Nice article on the World Oldest Living Senator.

Mets Win Again

The fine details, as usual, found at Archie Bunker's Army.

Today's Menu

As previously mentioned, Mark Prior gets his first start of the year against the Padres. Worse still, he is matched against Jake Peavy, the defending Major League ERA champ. Peavy started off with a spotless mark in 2005 with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in the home opener against the Pirates.

The Phillies face the Marlins in Florida for the start of another inter NL East battle. Wolf against AJ Burnett.

The Ex-Met we will never hear the end of, Scott Kazmir, will make his first career start against the Orioles. Both Tampa and Baltimore are 3-3.

It probably won't get much better for the Nats as they have to face Tim Hudson and the Braves today. The Nats will send Esteban Loiza to the mound. Loaiza will face the Braves for the eighth time in his career. He is 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA against them.


(Please note the Rockies have now tied the Mets for longest losing streak of the season at 5 in a row)

American League
Toronto 5 2 .714 - 2-1 3-1 4-2 0-0 1-0 0-0 5-2 W3
Baltimore 3 3 .500 1.5 1-2 2-1 2-1 0-0 1-2 0-0 3-3 W1
Tampa Bay 3 3 .500 1.5 3-3 0-0 1-2 0-0 2-1 0-0 3-3 L1
Boston 3 4 .429 2.0 1-0 2-4 3-4 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 W1
New York 3 4 .429 2.0 3-3 0-1 3-4 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 L2

Chicago 5 2 .714 - 2-1 3-1 0-0 5-2 0-0 0-0 5-2 W1
Detroit 3 3 .500 1.5 3-3 0-0 0-0 3-3 0-0 0-0 3-3 L1
Minnesota 3 3 .500 1.5 1-2 2-1 0-0 1-2 2-1 0-0 3-3 W1
Cleveland 3 4 .429 2.0 0-1 3-3 0-0 3-4 0-0 0-0 3-4 L1
Kansas City 3 4 .429 2.0 0-1 3-3 0-0 1-2 2-2 0-0 3-4 L1

Los Angeles 4 3 .571 - 3-3 1-0 0-0 1-2 3-1 0-0 4-3 W1
Oakland 3 4 .429 1.0 0-1 3-3 3-4 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 L1
Seattle 3 4 .429 1.0 2-4 1-0 0-0 2-2 1-2 0-0 3-4 W1
Texas 3 4 .429 1.0 0-1 3-3 0-0 0-0 3-4 0-0 3-4 L1

National League

Atlanta 5 2 .714 - 3-1 2-1 5-2 0-0 0-0 0-0 5-2 W1
Philadelphia 4 3 .571 1.0 1-2 3-1 2-2 2-1 0-0 0-0 4-3 W3
Florida 3 4 .429 2.0 3-4 0-0 3-4 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 L1
Washington 3 4 .429 2.0 0-0 3-4 3-4 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 L2
New York 2 5 .286 3.0 1-0 1-5 1-2 1-3 0-0 0-0 2-5 W2

Houston 4 2 .667 - 4-1 0-1 0-1 4-1 0-0 0-0 4-2 L1
Milwaukee 4 2 .667 - 1-0 3-2 0-0 4-2 0-0 0-0 4-2 W1
Cincinnati 3 3 .500 1.0 3-0 0-3 3-0 0-3 0-0 0-0 3-3 L3
Chicago 3 4 .429 1.5 2-2 1-2 0-0 2-1 1-3 0-0 3-4 L1
St. Louis 2 3 .400 1.5 1-2 1-1 1-2 1-1 0-0 0-0 2-3 L2
Pittsburgh 2 5 .286 2.5 0-2 2-3 0-0 0-3 2-2 0-0 2-5 L1

Los Angeles 4 2 .667 - 0-0 4-2 0-0 0-0 4-2 0-0 4-2 L1
San Francisco 4 2 .667 - 4-2 0-0 0-0 0-0 4-2 0-0 4-2 W3
Arizona 4 3 .571 0.5 4-3 0-0 0-0 2-1 2-2 0-0 4-3 W2
San Diego 4 3 .571 0.5 2-2 2-1 0-0 3-2 1-1 0-0 4-3 W1
Colorado 1 5 .167 3.0 1-1 0-4 0-0 0-0 1-5 0-0 1-5 L5

Sunday, April 10, 2005


The coverage is on Archie Bunker's Army and although there were 14 other Major League games played yesterday, THAT was the only one that counted.


Lost in this hoopla but not forgotten, the Orioles took 2 of 3 from the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, literally knocking Yankee starter Carl Pavano out of the game with a line drive to the head. New O's ace Rodrigo Lopez has allowed one run in his 14 innings of 2005. The middle of the New York lineup -- Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Ruben Sierra -- went 1 of 14 against Lopez with four strikeouts on Sunday.

The Twins finally beat the White Sox for the first time in 2005. Cy Young winner Johan Santana stifled the Sox.

The Toronto Blue Jays are in first place in the AL East.


Today's Menu

1. Andy Pettite faces Tom Glavine in the Mets home opener against the Astros. Pettitte allowed one earned run over six innings on April 6 against the Cardinals, his first start since last August. The left-hander is 6-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 12 career games versus the Mets. The Astros have won 4 of their first 5 games this season, best mark in the Majors so far.

Glavine's career record at Shea is 12-19. He was 3-6 at Shea last year despite a 2.84 ERA.

2. Yankees return to Fenway Park, Mussina against knuckler Tim Wakefield.

3. The Nats will go to Atlanta to face the Braves.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

White Sox Good, Red Sox Bad

The Chicago White Sox are in first place and the Minnesota Twins are in last. You can tell it's still early in the season. But the Sox scheme of pitching, defence and speed is paying off. They are now tied with the Braves and Dodgers for the best record in baseball at 4-1.

Meanwhile, Twins manager Gardenhire learned that first baseman Justin Morneau's headaches from a beaning this week in Seattle would keep him out of the lineup for a few more days. Then he found out No. 3 starter Carlos Silva could miss half or the entire season with a just-diagnosed serious knee injury.

You might be quite happy to learn that the Red Sox lost again, their third loss in five games. Their manager has been in the hospital for a few days with chest pains and the pennant race hasn't even started in earnest yet. David Wells was blasted again and has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits in 10 innings, hardly Pedro-esque. So perhaps it's a nice time to break out the Even Idiots Can Get Lucky Tee Shirts.

Nat Is Where It's At

For those keeping score, it is now Game Winning Homers for Jose Guillen 2, Psychotic Episodes for Jose Guillen 0 after Guillen did the honours and the Nats defeated the Marlins to stay a game out of first behind the Braves at 3-2.

Cubs Fans Hysterical Already

After they lost their home opener to the Brewers on Friday to fall to 1-4, panic was clearly setting in for Cubs fans. Sun-Times writer Jay Mariotti was apoplectic:

"I wouldn't normally advocate mercy-killing a baseball season on April 9, but nothing I saw in the home opener suggests this team should keep playing games."

Sheeesh. You want something to complain about buddy? Try being a Mets fan for awhile.

Besides, Carlos Zambrano won the pitcher's duel against Ben Sheets.

Even if the Cubs continue losing, there's always the long list of celebs to sing at Wrigley Field to keep the mind off of suicidal thoughts.

That, and the thought that shortly after getting blasted in a minor league assignment, it looks like Prior will pitch for the Cubs very shortly.

So maybe it's not time to push the panic button over and over again yet.


Only 13,536 were on hand at Tropicana Field to see their beloved Devil Rays win their third game in a row and move into a three-way tie for first in the AL East with the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

You'd think with a young second baseman like Jorge Cantu tearing it up, there'd be a little more enthusiasm for the home team. Four games into the season, Cantu has been the team's primary power source, hitting three home runs in 15 official at-bats to tie for the Major League lead with Detroit's Dmitri Young and Cincinnati's Joe Randa.

Ee-Chee-Row is still going strong. Now hitting .526 in his first five games with 10 hits. On pace for 324 hits for the season which would, of course, break the record of 262 he set last season. Hell, it's only 42 more hits than last season, or one extra every 4 games or so.

On the very opposite end of the spectrum sits Dodger JD Drew who with zero hits in his first 22 at bats, has the most at-bats without a hit so far in the Major Leagues. Way to earn that free agent contract.

And the Early Loser Parade has already started. Starting pitchers who have already lost two games this season:

1. Barry Zito, Oakland 0-2 11.57 ERA
2. Jose Lima, Kansas City 0-2 10.80 ERA
3. David Wells, Boston 0-2 8.44 ERA
4. Jake Westbrook, Cleveland 0-2 7.20 ERA
5. Brad Radke, Minnesota 0-2 6.08

NL West Shootout

I listened to that thrilling Dodgers-Diamondbacks extra inning wonder. It just goes to show you that when you haven't got a decent closer, no lead is ever safe. The Dodgers ended up winning it 12-10 by virtue of a 4 run 11th inning but even then, the Diamondbacks had raced back for two in the bottom of the 11th before finally falling. The Dodgers had already come from behind in the 8th to take the lead only to see the Diamondbacks tie it in the bottom of the 9th. They almost had it in the bottom of the 10th as well when they loaded the bases with one out, but Yhency Brazoban struck out Glaus and former teammate Shawn Green to get them out. And before that, Milton Bradley made a game-saving diving catch on a Glaus blooper to shallow center with two out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the eighth inning. Quite a game, less than a week into the season and if these two teams play with the same intensity all season, the NL West could turn into a very exciting race. I might end up listening to quite a few of their games this year. This one was still going on well past six thirty in the morning here in England.

It's one thing for Sammy Sosa not to have hit a homer yet in his first five games as an Oriole but he hasn't even driven in a run yet either. He hasn't walked yet and he's hitting .250. But he's stolen a base.


Pitching matchups on Sunday include:

Sox ace Mark Buehrle and 2004 American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana at the Metrodome in a showdown of two of the American League's top left-handers.

Pedro faces John Smoltz as the Mets try to win their first game of the season. In one start, Smoltz's ERA is 36.00.

Another good duel could be the 1-0 0.00 Rodrigo Lopez for the O's who tossed 6 scoreless innings in the O's season opener against Yankee Carl Pavano. Pavano was offered more money to pitch for the O's than the Yankees offered in the free agent splash this offseason and perhaps the O's will be looking to exact a little revenge for being snubbed.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Don't Look Now, The Nats Are Tied For First

Ranking nearly as high on the NL East Suprise-O-Meter in these first few days of the season behind the Reds sweep of the Mets must be the Washington Nationals taking two of three from the Phillies.

Last night's 10th inning homer by Jose Vidro have them a 5-4 victory and their second in a row. Loaiza flirted with a perfect game until it was broken up by Jim Thome in the fifth inning. The charge was led again by Wilkerson, who went 9 for 14 with a home run and three RBIs in the series.

So the question after two come-from-behind late victories is are the Nats that fiesty or is the Phillies pen that bad?

New Brave Tim Hudson in a less-than-impressive debut, threw just 52 of his 93 pitches for strikes. However, he only gave up one run, so as expected, won his first outing as a Brave, 4-2 to give the Mets' next opponent two wins out of three against their NL East rival Marlins.

A.J. Burnett (0-1) gave up four runs (two unearned) on seven hits with six strikeouts in six innings. Three of the four runs allowed by the hard-throwing right-hander came with two outs.

NL East Upcoming:

Philly goes to St Louis, the Mets to Atlanta and the Marlins will host the Nats


Instead of going to Minnesota with a perfect record and one-game lead in the American League Central Division, the Sox are tied with the Twins after Thursday's 11-5 loss to Cleveland in 11 innings at U.S. Cellular Field. Sox closer Shingo Takatsu blew a 5-2 lead with three ninth-inning homers proving that the blown lead by closer bug is running rampant in the Major Leagues. It was only the second blown save in Takatsu's Sox career. With it, the Indians got their first win of the
season leaving only the Mets and Pirates as the winless losers of 2005.

So this weekend will see the first of the AL Central battles comes when the Twins host the White Sox.


In the West, Jeff Weaver pitched eight scoreless innings and singled home a run in a three-run sixth inning as the Dodgers blanked the onds-less San Francisco Giants, 6-0.

I was up at 6 am this morning to discover the Padres and Pirates still going strong into the 12th at 0-0, some 8 timezone hours away. It wasn't until a batter was walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th that the Padres came away with their home opening win.

Today's Menu:

After a night of rather ho-hum starting matchups, we return to excitement on Friday.

Roger Clemens gets his first start of the season against the 3-0 Reds. He has 328 career wins and needs one more to tie Steve Carlton for ninth on the all-time list.

After three games without the pair of aces getting a start, Kerry Wood gets the Cubs home opening start against the Brewers. The Chicago City Council gave final, unanimous approval Wednesday to the Cubs' plan to add 1,790 bleacher seats, a 100-seat restaurant overlooking center field and a year-round five-story building and parking garage next to the ballpark that will house retail stores, another restaurant and 400 parking spaces.

The Cubs will pay the city $3 million for the right to build over the sidewalks on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues and for the rights to a piece of land west of Wrigley Field, currently a parking lot, where the new building will stand.

Mark Mulder will start his first game as a Cardinal as they take on the Phillies at Busch Stadium

The O's travel to Yankee Stadium to face the juggernaut and free agent signee Jared Wright, who probably wouldn't be starting this game if Kevin Brown wasn't old and hurt. In his career, Wright is 2-0 with a 5.13 ERA in four starts against Baltimore. Better still, he's facing the Fat Man who spent his offseason getting drunk, punching judges and sitting in third world jail cells.

The D Train is ready to leave the station as the Marlins host the Nats.


Meaningless but true, Schilling was rocked for Pawtucket.

Cub ace Mark Prior was also roughed up in the minors Thursday night.

And another famous face, that of John Rocker is returning to the minors, all the way to the Long Island Ducks. Think he's not hard up? In 2004, Rocker allowed 21 earned runs, 25 hits, 29 walks, 4 home runs, and fanned 20 in only 20 innings of work with Tampa Bay and Durham (AAA, TB).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Suddenly, Yankee Closer Can't Close

He's been one the best closers in the game for years. After blowing two straight saves withing 24 hours however, Mariano is no mo against the Red Sox.

When you play a team enough times under the spotlight, patterns emerge. One keenly disappointing pattern is that A-Rod, the laughing stock of the Sox World, seems incapable of making the noticeable, clutch plays against them necessary and the other is that if possible, the Sox have solved Mariano.

The most recent evidence was yesterday's 7-3 loss to the Sox. Leading 3-2 going into the 9th, Rivera needed only do his job. A 1-2-3 inning and bang! The Yankees would have their sweep. Instead, the normally invinsible closer failed to retire any of the first three batters he faced, walking Bill Mueller and giving up singles to Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon. With the bases loaded, and the Yankees still ahead, Rivera rallied to strike out Trot Nixon, setting the stage for a showdown with the dangerous Manny Ramirez.

On a 1-2 count, Ramirez grounded the ball to A-Rod. The ball was not hit that hard, but it appeared Rodriguez would still have enough time to turn a double play because Ramirez is so slow running to first.

But Rodriguez bobbled the ball, ending any chance at a double play. He said he then immediately thought of grabbing the ball and throwing home to at least get one out and keep the Yankees in the lead. Instead, he bobbled the ball a second time! Chokechoke. Everyone was safe, the score was tied, and Boston then scored four more runs off Rivera before the inning ended.

Whilst Mariano's bloateed ERA is worrisome, you get the feeling it is correctable - A-Rod however, is becoming a head case, despite his empty-bases homer yesterday, and if the pressure is wilting him, expect it all the more when the Yanks travel to Boston for the rematch.

Nats Win First Ever

Quicker than the vaunted "New Mets", whose demise can be digested at Archie Bunker's Army, the newly-relocated and renamed Washington Nationals won the first game in their franchise history yesterday with a 7-3 victory over the Phillies.

What this says about the Phillies, only the Phucked Phans of Philadelphia might be able to ponder.

But yesterday, it was Brad Wilkerson hitting for the cycle, the first ever for the Nats and the first of the season for anybody, leading the way. For Wilkerson, this is old hat. It's the second time in his career that he has hit for the cycle, with the other coming June 24, 2003, against the Pirates at Olympic Stadium.

But hey, whilst Wilkerson gets the fanfare, it was the Angriest Man in Baseball, Jose Guillen, who won the day for the Nats.

The Nationals were down, 3-2, in the bottom of the eighth inning when they took the lead against Phillies reliever Tim Worrell. After Jose Vidro led off with a single, Guillen took Worrell's 0-1 pitch and hit the ball over the right center-field wall for a two-run home run and a 4-3 Nationals lead. It was Guillen's first home run of the season. The scorecard for Guillen so far this season thus stands at 1 Game Winning Homer, 0 Psychotic Outbursts. Well done.

One thing for certain, these Nats can hit. In this game, they collected 16 hits and now have a .363 average after two games.

Other Sox Go 2-0

After going 17 long innings without hitting a home run in their new smallball regime, the White Sox slammed home four runs in the ninth inning to stun both themselves and Cleveland 4-3 before a crowd of only 10,520 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Down 2-0 in the 9th inning and having been slammed down to the canvass by Indian starter Kevin Millwood and a few Indian relievers, Carl Everett woke the Sox up by leading off with a single down the right-field line for his first hit of the season.

Two pitches later, Paul Konerko launched the Sox's first homer of 2005, a two-run shot that traveled an estimated 409 feet and closed the deficit to 3-2.

"The guys got excited when Konerko hit the first [homer] and showed some life in the dugout," said Guillen, who admitted he had some doubts about a comeback after the Indians scored a run in the ninth before Wickman came in.

But the skepticism vanished when Jermaine Dye tagged an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence to tie the game 3-3.

The White Sox bullpen was heroic, as relievers Neal Cotts, Luis Vizcaino and Damaso Marte combined for three innings of one-run ball to keep the Hose in the game.

Don't look now but it is the White Sox, Reds and Brewers who are the only remaining undefeated teams in baseball! Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Mets are the only teams without a win.

Braves-Marlins Even

After outlasting the Marlins 2-1 in 13 innings, the Braves Tim Hudson will be making his Braves debut and first start for a National League team. His .702 career winning percentage trails only Pedro Martinez's .705 among active pitchers. His only appearance against the Marlins came in 2003, when he allowed three earned runs in six innings.

Time limits us all, dear fans, and Sports Amnesia, who spent the night watching Chelsea snap the Krauts in two, 4-2, so if you're interested in more in-depth analysis of the first three days of the season, come back later.

For now, have a look at last night's results.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

DAY TWO: It's A Brave New World

In their past three season openers, the Braves have been beaten by a combined score of 26-4. The starters for those three games were Greg Maddux, Russ Ortiz and Smoltz -- all former 20-game winners. But you'd have thought this opener, coming as it were against the Marlins, whom they'd won 15 of 19 against last season. Not at all. Instead, the Marlins rolled over the Braves 9-0 and crushed John Smoltz on the way.

Part of me is happy to see the Braves get a good kicking even if it is relatively meaningless and in keeping with their more recent opening starts. But another part of me is keeping a lid on the schadenfreude as it foreshadows a the capabilities of what might be the new sheriff in the town called the NL East, the Florida Marlins.

Don't read too much into Smoltz's piss poor redebut as a starter. On April 6, 2002, Smoltz entered the game as a closer for the first time and by the time he left the mound that evening, he had allowed the Mets eight earned runs and registered only two outs. had dazzled the Marlins of late, enjoying a string of 31 1/3 innings without yielding a run over 29 appearances. In 1 2/3 innings, Smoltz gave up seven runs -- six earned -- foiling his first start since 2001.

Meanwhile the Braves have seen two of their young players go down already. Johnny Estrada was hit on the right hand with a foul ball in the first inning and had to leave in the fourth when he couldn't grip his bat. X-rays were negative, but he's not expected to play the rest of the series.

Marcus Giles jammed his left knee sliding into second base during a seemingly cursed first inning. He remained in the game for the next five innings but was limping gingerly after the game. He's hoping to be available on Wednesday.

In his Marlins debut, the Man Who Would Not Be Met, Carlos Delgado was 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Cubs Glory Short Lived

One day after their Opening Day victory, the Cubs lost to the Diamondbacks behind two Luis Gonzalez homers. Cubs starter Greg Maddux fell to 1-7 lifetime against the Diamondbacks, and 0-4 at Bank One.

Red Sox Dumped Again - Enjoying That World Championship Now?

This offseason was remarkable in that I've finally found the team to unseat the Yankees as the team I hate the most and that team is the Red Sox, the most obnoxious group of World Champions I ever recall seeing. Well, maybe the old memory has faded a bit but the arrogance for winning one stinkin' championship in 86 years was over the top, vile, the mark of a loser. So let's hope we'll see more of their losses. Especially since I don't even have them making the playoffs this year.

I got to listen to the last five innings of the game last night. Like the Mets debut two nights ago, the Yankees closer blew the game for them in the 9th when old reliable, Mariano Rivera, surrendered a game tying homer to Jason Varitek. But unlike the Mets, the Yankees still had another half inning to win and Derek Jeter didn't disappoint, blasting a game-winning homer to save the Yankees and Mariano. The walk-off homer was just the second of Jeter's career, the first in the regular season. The other? Nov. 1, 2001, when he beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 4 of the World Series.

Of course, Mariano's lapse cost new Yankee Carl Pavano the victory. Pavano looked worth every penny he's being paid yesterday, rolling through Boston's lineup with ease, fanning seven of the first 10 hitters he faced. He ended up allowing two runs while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.

So that's two new Yankee pitchers, two victories for the Yankees. Even with Pedro, we Mets are coming across as ugly little cousins.

The man whose gaining a cult following as the MVP dark horse and rapidly becoming the biggest Red Sox Killah of the them all, Hideki Matsui blasted a two-run home run in the third, his second in as many games, highlighting a three-run inning for New York against Sox starter Matt Clement. Matsui, who entered the game with a career .354 average (73-for-206) against the Red Sox, went 3-for-4 in the game.

So the Yankees are 2-0 and the Red Sox are 0-2. Of course, this was how the ALCS started too, more or less and with different faces, but look how that turned out.

No Bonds, No Bother

Hmmmm. Ok, did we write off the Giants too fast without Bonds? Ha! No chance. One little victory over the recalcitrant Dodgers to start the season does not a season make. Especially not a victory caused in large part, by two errors, one by Beltre's replacement at 3rd, Jose Haha Valentin. Of course, Valentin is a shortstop, not a 3rd baseman, which might explain alot.

And although Bonds wasn't in the lineup, he was there in spirit. All over the place, in fact, for hours. It started with a massive pregame outpouring wherein Bonds did his little Arnold Schwartzenegger speech:

"Thank you very much. I'm speechless," Bonds told the crowd after receiving another MVP award, another Silver Slugger award and an award for his latest batting title. "I want to thank my family for being behind me for all these years. I want to thank God for giving me the ability to play the game. Last but not least, I thank the city of San Francisco, you fans. There are no greater fans in the world besides here in San Francisco."

He added with force, "And ... I ... will ... be ... back."

What's this?

I thought they'd finally gotten him down! Why I thought he'd finally been kicked off the bridge, rolled under the car, fed to the dogs! And here he is, in front of God and all of San Francisco, making crazy promises.

Oh well. Fans of the non-SF Western Division can still be happy. At least he didn't say WHEN he'd be back.

By the way, in Bonds' stead, the Giants' 3-4-5 hitters went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The Other NL Central Foes

And let us not forget, as we ponder the Cubs 1-1 beginning, that their bitter rivals the Cardinals, opened their season at Houston with a 7-3 victory over the Astros behind a less-than-sharp performance by Astros other ace in a sea of aces, Roy Oswalt. Funny thing is, the Cards had Carpenter, not their new ace Mulder on the mound.

Don't Look Now But the Blue Jays Are 2-0

Well, they've beaten the Tampa Bay Devil Rays twice. Let's see how they do facing a very angry Red Sox team in a few days' time.


Today's Probable Pitchers offers us still more intriguing pitching debuts including:

Andy Pettitte for the Astros, will make his first start since last August, when he had season-ending elbow surgery. Pettitte ranks sixth in wins and second in wins by a left-hander since 1995 with 155. He is 17-9 with a 3.97 ERA in 49 career starts vs. National League opponents.

Al Leiter, I'm hoping gets whacked against the Braves in his 2005 debut.

And more importantly: Tom Glavine kicks it off against the Reds' new pitcher, lefty Eric Milton. Glavine has made six second-game-of-the-season starts in his career, producing a 2-0 record. Glavine lost both starts against the Reds last season, despite a 2.92 ERA against them. His career record in Great American Ball Park is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts. Glavine's best monthly career record is his 44-20 in April.

Milton was the Reds' prized offseason acquisition despite giving up a league-leading 43 home runs last season. Now he will take that sort of pitching mess to the Homer Friendly Great American Ball Park.

Hopefully, the Mets will know this time around to score enough runs ahead of time so the bullpen can't blow it for them.