Sunday, May 29, 2005

Around the League

The NYT has an article outlining the number of hits Yankee pitchers surrender and how the inflated win totals for the team are a reflection of their opponents more than their own competence.

The Yankees had allowed 13.31 runners per nine innings (that number rose to 13.41 last night). Only the Devil Rays (14.52) and the Kansas City Royals (13.80) had put more runners on base per nine innings. On the basis of earned run average, the way teams are listed in the statistics Tampa Bay (5.40) and Kansas City (5.61) were the worst, with the Yankees at 4.52.

Manager Joe Torre put the matter into what he believed was the proper perspective.

"Runs concern me," he said before the game. "Hits don't concern me. There have been some pretty good pitchers who gave up hits and won ball games."

Respect from a Red Sox lifer in the form of an article on Why Joe Torre keeps winning, at least when he's not facing the Red Sox.

Must not be the pitching.


For what it's worth now that Carl Everett is suffering a prolonged cold spell, Frank's back

and there are 33 reasons why he shouldn't be.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, with their Dynamic Duo of Perpetually Injured Aces back on the DL and just having reached .500 by beating up on the likes of the lower-still Colorado Rockies, the Cubbies have temporarily subplanted the Brewers. Heady days indeed -- the Brewers? The NL Central is a real pissoir when you nudge ahead of the Brewers by reaching .500 on the year.

The Trade of LaTroy might well mean the Cubs fans have to find a new punching bag but there are plenty of candidates waiting in the wings.


Around the Beltway the O's get ready to hit the road for a 14 day, 13 game trip whilst the Nats are just back from a 2-7 road trip in Toronto, Cincinnati and St. Louis and home at last to face the Braves and Marlins.

The O's suffered a bad week even though they're still in first place in the AL East where no one expected to find them on Memorial Day. During they week they lost their best pitcher (Erik Bedard), one of its best hitters (Javy Lopez) and a starting outfielder (Larry Bigbie) to injury. Not to mention Luis Matos, already out with a fractured finger. The O's just come off losing three straight to the Detroit Tigers and now have to go to Fenway.

Nasty Nats points out what a career-enhancement it is for mediocre pitchers to face the Nats this season.


Another team on the brink of a hellacious roadtrip are the Cleveland Indians who will play 12 games over 13 days in four cities. Cleveland's longest journey since 2002 begins Tuesday in Minnesota, with stops in Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco. That's after they've just placed Kevin Millwood on the DL.

Conversely, the Phillies, who just missed sweeping the Braves much like the Mets just missed sweeping the Marlins to really turn the NL East upside down, open a 13-game homestand tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park against San Francisco, and play 35 of their next 48 games at home. They are home seven of their next eight weekends.

I guess everyone's got to be somewhere, even if it's Philadelphia.


Although they've saddled themselves with the idiotic Anaheim of Los Angeles or Anaheim Near Los Angeles or Anaheim slash dot com Los Angeles, the Angels scored 29 runs on 38 hits during a three-game sweep of KC.

Not only that but 21 year old Cuban defector Kendry Morales hitting .343 with two homers, seven RBI and a .571 slugging percentage in eight games at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He struck out only four times in 35 at-bats.

He might fit in well one day with Chris Bootcheck, Joel Peralta, Ervin Santana and Jake Woods. That quartet of pitchers have been called up from the minors this season and have combined to pitch in twenty-two games, earn two wins, one loss and a save over 41 2/3 innings allowing 33 hits, 10 walks, 31 strikeouts and a 2.16 ERA.


The A's are on an 8 game tailspin and counting and if you think that's bad, imagine that they were swept by Tampa Bay AND Cleveland which is like getting diagnosed with cancer and then getting hit by a car as you walk out of the clinic.

Although hope for this season is probably dead in Oakland, on the other side of the Bay, The Giants are looking to make more bullpen moves than just LaTroy Hawkins. But even with a closer that they don't currently have, what they sorely lack is the bat of Mr Bonds.


Under normal circumstances, I don't give a damn about racing cars at high speeds over and over around the same oval waiting for one of them to ram a wall and burst into flames but frankly, this Danica Patrick is a pretty fit bird even if she IS a race car driver.

Of course, if Maria Sharapova drove race cars instead of tennis balls the sport might actually become interesting.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

InterLeague Is Here!

First off, why not start with a little Interleague History?

Moving on to performance, we see that the Oakland A's have the best record for AL teams in interleague play with an 85-55 record - in the National League, the Atlanta Braves are 79-57.

But enough of the past. What makes this stuff good is the intercity/inter-area rivalries that go on.

Sports Amnesia's Top Interleague Matchups This Weekend

1. Combined record: 43-39. The Yankees-Mets series probably doesn't top the Yankees-Red Sox on a scale of pure hype but that's probably only because it is restricted to a single, crazed city. This season they will put roughly $300 million worth of salaries on the field. Key added faces to this year's rivalry are The Unit, who pitches Saturday, Pedro, who pitches Sunday, Carl Pavano, who pitches Sunday. The Mets also have Carlos Beltran who shined under the microscope in last year's playoffs. The most infamous moment in this series history was probably the Roger Clemens beaning of Mike Piazza. Of course the World Series followed that year with Clemens throwing a chunk of bat at Piazza. Now Clemens wastes away pitching for the Astros in anticipation of perhaps rejoining the Yankees for their yearly pennant race and Mike Piazza is well, reduced himself to being a pretty insignificant player. Yankees are 21-20 and the Mets are 22-19 so far this season.

2. Combined record: 47-32. The White Sox - Cubs sees a slight change in the rivalry in that the White Sox are one of the top teams in the American League so far this season and the Cubs, as usual, seem prone to be muddling their way through the season. Everything You Wanted To Know About Cubs-Sox 2005. And if you're looking for some insight, here are the numbers against each other. Freddy Garcia, RHP (3-3, 4.02) of the White Sox (29-12) opens the series against Greg Maddux, RHP (2-1, 4.15) of the Cubs (18-20).

3. Combined record: 45-35: The Dodgers-Angels series takes on a new light this year in that the Angels formally just from crummy old Anaheim, have coopted the Los Angeles in their name. So in a sense, this really IS the battle for LA and their millions of fans. You wouldn't know it by reading the LA sportspages though. Barely a mention. The rivalry needs time to mature. A few beanballs and bench-emptying brawls would add some luster. Jarrod Washburn, LHP (2-2, 4.04) will pitch the opener for the Angels (23-17) and Scott Erickson, RHP (1-3, 6.57) takes the mound for the Dodgers (22-18).

4. Combined record: 46-34: The Braves at the Red Sox isn't exactly an intercity brawl but it IS an interleague series which traditionally matches two fo the best teams in baseball. For me, a more extravagent affair for these are the two teams I hate the most in baseball. Tim Hudson, RHP (4-2, 3.18) opens for the Braves (23-17)against Wade Miller, RHP (0-0, 4.22) for the Red Sox (23-17).

5. Combined record: 35-44: The A's at the Giants in the past has been a matchup of two perennial contenders yet sadly for the Bay area, this is a competition between two teams on a downward slide. The A's have lost two of their three magic starters and the Giants are Barry Bonds-less. This is a series for the die-hard Bay area fan and not much else.

Odd notes on the others: The Nats will be at Toronto and the dumb thing about this is that it was once the All-Canada interleague series and now it's uh...the Nats at Toronto. Still, these are both good teams with a combined record of 43-37.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Baseball Overview: Going Back To Normal

A quick look at the standings will tell you there are still some surprises, the token teams who are ruining the predictions of gas bags and know-it-alls.

The Baltimore Orioles remain the most suprising of all surprises this season.

Arguments could have been made for the White Sox (as was herein prior to the start of the season) and perhaps even the Arizona Diamondbacks, who aren't doing it just with the trades and free agent signings, but also with downfall of the Giants and the tetchiness of the Dodgers and Padres. The D'backs even have a future.

But the Orioles, who were to open the season brutally against their AL East opponents, were expected to be out of the race by Memorial Day. Instead, the beat their richer brethren early and what makes them the real poster children for the unexpected is that the injuries didn't demoralise them.

After losing their cleanup hitter, Sammy Sosa and their best defensive player in Luis Matos, the Orioles haven't really slowed down much, if at all. They took two out of three from the Twins and then split a 4 game series at the Chicago White Sox to keep themselves ahead of the pace in the AL East.

And why should they not have, after all. Perhaps it was all supposed to play out this way from the beginning. After all, Baltimore closed the 2004 season by winning 20 of its final 33 games -- a record not so dissimilar to its record through its first 33 games this year wherein they've won 22.

But the pressure is building and it will take alot more suprises this season if the Orioles would have a prayer of keeping ahold of this lead. Already the Red Sox and Yankees appear to have woken out of their early doldrums.

The Sox have lost a pair to the A's but have still won 10 of their last 15. The rest of the month will be interesting as the Sox will host the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, then travel to Toronto for a 3 game series, the Bronx to face the Yankees and close out the month against the Orioles at home.

The Yankees, of course, after much handwringing and tears of joy from the fans who hate them, are looking more like the Yankees again, have gone on a season-high 8-game winning streak and now sit back at .500, 5 and a half games behind the Orioles. That's from feasting on the AL West, whom they've won 10 of 15 from.

All this while, Jason Giambi became the second Yankee of the season to have a beer thrown at him which leads the Major Leagues.


The Padres appear to have finally woken out of their early season slumber and can do Archie Bunker's Army a big favour by putting it to the Braves this week.


Meanwhile, an inter-division trade between the Phillies and Nats is already paying off for the Nats as phormer Phillie Marlon Byrd had three hits and three RBIs in his debut. The Phillies got Endy Chavez in a swap of centerfielders.

Beerleaguer notes that the trade is a "clear a case of two players in need of a career-saving change of scenery. The fact that two divisional rivals swapped 27-year-olds at the same premium spot should indicate the hopelessness the Phils and Nats felt."


Raise your hands if you had Clint Barnes leading the Major Leagues in hitting.

Frankly, you've got to wonder when Eee-Chee-Row is going to make his push.


If you like history mixed with your baseball, have a look at Amid the Civil War, baseball was a balm, via Balls, Sticks and Stuff.


Nice to see Pedro shortlisted as free agents Booms.

No surprise here that Adrian Beltre is a bust. The Dodgers must be proud.


Is Dwayne Wade dominating the NBA playoffs or is Dwayne Wayne? Picking up some of the slack created by Shaq's bum thigh, Wade averaged 31.3 points for the series on 54 percent shooting, while pulling down seven rebounds and dishing eight assists per game during the recent sweep of the Washington Wizards.

Meanwhile, in the other Eastern Conference matchup, Rasheed Wallace's big mouth may have done more good than harm for a change. Wallace "guaranteed" a victory in Game Four and the Pistons evened the series with Indianapolis, 2 games each now going back to Detroit.

Over in the West, The Mavs continued to surprise by evening their series with the Suns 2 games each despite Steve Nash's 48 points.

Even the indelible Super Size Me Sonics managed to even their series with San Antonio at two games apiece.

Only the Wizards failed to make their series interesting, failed to even win a game.

My predictions stay steady on, Spurs-Pistons final.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Lets See Some Suffering!
"Sometimes I get bored riding down the beautiful streets of L.A. I know it sounds crazy, but I just want to go to New York and see people suffer." --Donna Summer.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Despite Persistent Rumours To The Contrary, April Ends
Otherwise Known as May Day, not to be confused with May Day Malone...


Although there was plenty of baseball and basketball excitement yesterday, the biggest news has to be The End of Chelsea's 50 year draught.

Although he is "only" the manager, perhaps the best in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho is true to his word.

And life will still have to go on after the coronation. Next up, Chelsea travel to Anfield to face Liverpool and decide which of them advances to the finals of the Champions League.

The rest can be found at Chelsea FC Blog.

The Upside of April

The Baltimore Oriole's to nearly everyone's surprise, are still on top of the AL East and won their 7th straight game.

The Orioles are nine games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 22, 1998.

They finished April with 16 wins. That matched the club record set in 1969, when the Orioles went to the World Series, and equaled in 1997, when they went wire-to-wire to win the American League East.

Crazy talk of course this early in the season but weirder things have happened. Wouldn't it be funny if Sammy Sosa ends up winning a World Series with the Orioles rather than the Cubs?

Sosa's first month with the Orioles is comparable to his past Aprils. Sosa is a notoriously slow starter, compiling just 65 homers and 188 RBIs in more than 1,200 at-bats in March and April. The 65 homers in March and April are by far the lowest of any month in his career. Sosa has 79 homers in September and October.

But the real story behind this unexpected success is their tall order led by Brian Roberts' hot streak.


Rolling along with the best record in the Major Leagues, the 17-7 Chicago White Sox gave Ozzie Guillen career win 100. The record is the Sox best-ever tied with the 2000 version of 17 April victories, the last year the Southsiders made it to the postseason.

The White Sox have led in every one of their 24 games this season, the second-longest streak in baseball history since 1900.

The 1955 Dodgers own the only longer streak at 25, and they went on to to win Brooklyn's only World Series.

But it's perhaps ominous that despite this red hot beginning, they still have been unable to shake the Minnesota Twins who ended April on a five game winning streak that keeps them only 1 1/2 games behind the White Sox.

The Moron Commissioner of Baseball has used the end of April as an excuse to offer harsh penalties for steroids several months after the height of controversy:

50 games for the first offense, 100 games for the second and a lifetime ban with the third strike. He wants testing for amphetamines. He wants an independent agency to monitor the testing.

Is this why there's no set date for Barry Bonds' return?

Bad April

You have to figure it's a dead heat for disappointing Aprils between the 10-14 New York Yankees who, instead of dominating the AL East are just struggling to stay above water, and the Chicago Cubs, who outside of Derrek Lee, are struggling to maintain the minimum standard at 12-11.

Nomah is out indefinately, perhaps for the season with a bad groin.

Kerry Wood, who left his start last Sunday after 76 pitches because of discomfort in his right, throwing shoulder, left Saturday's game after 54 pitches in three innings with what the Cubs said was tendinitis in the shoulder.

It's a pity he can't just skip the early innings altogether, not just to preserve himself, but also because of his pitiable numbers early on in games. Saturday was Wood's fifth start. According to Stats, Inc., hitters are 14-for-35 (.400) against Wood during his first 30 pitches of a game. He settles down after the 30-pitch mark and becomes nearly unhittable.

Between pitches 31-75 coming into Saturday, hitters were just 5-for-38 (.132). That pattern followed Saturday as well. Wood threw 28 pitches in the first inning, striking out the final two hitters.

At least the Cubs still have Phil Rogers to read, who thinks the Cardinals' fast start is more ominous than their own crap start and battles with injury.


The Yankees have just plain stunk, much to the delight of most of us. You know that if they're getting this excited about a Chinaman's Chance, things are really looking grim in the Bronx these days. Especially when it takes a rookie on a team of over-the-hill-looking veterans to lift the team.

Is A-Rod the Lemony Snicket of baseball?

Good or bad news: I didn't even know who the hell Lemony Snicket was until I looked it up.

Meanwhile, the Unit has been a big disappointment so far - according to Rogers' column, "Johnson has been fairly effective for them but hardly looks like the guy who has four Cy Young Awards and one second-place finish in the last six years.

Following Friday's 2-0 loss to Toronto, Johnson was 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in his first six starts. His ratio of strikeouts per nine innings has slid to 8.9 from 13.4 in '01 and 10.6 in '04.

While Johnson held Texas to three hits in eight innings for a win last Sunday, Rangers infielder Mark DeRosa and catcher Rod Barajas said he did not look like the guy who threw a perfect game against the Braves last season. He relied on breaking pitches and worked the outside half of the plate because his fastball wasn't as fierce as in days gone by."

Some more Observations on what Ails the Yankees:

"They should have picked up Jon Lieber's one-year, $8-million option rather than try to save pennies by offering $12 million over two years. "Everyone wanted Jon Lieber, but no one felt eight for one was justified," Cashman said. "But I'm the [GM], so I'll take responsibility for that misread of the pitching market."

The rotation has been underwhelming (batting averages against heading into the weekend: Wright .400, Mike Mussina .361, Brown .346, Carl Pavano .288, Randy Johnson .211), and the radar-gun readings are down. Torre didn't like readings being posted on the scoreboard because they can be "distracting." Embarrassing, too.

Perhaps it's time to question Mel Stottlemyre. Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver and Jose Contreras never pitched to expectations. Cashman countered those examples, pointing out that David Wells did his best work in pinstripes, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera developed under Stottlemyre and Tanyon Sturtze emerged. Cashman looked at the data, which he called "a hodgepodge" that doesn't point one way or the other."

And if you were on the lookout for a dose of clueless optimism, look no further.


Chasing the Yankees for the mark of Most Disappointing April in the AL East are the miserably defending World Champion Boston Red Sox who have thus far lost their two top starters to the DL. All the pity, two annoying personalities I can't stand; Curt Schilling and Fat Man David Wells. They narrowly escaped their first sub-.500 April since 1996. Tough luck when your ace is Bronson Arroyo.

And speaking of the Red Sox, Call of the Green Monster is not to be missed.


The cellar-dwelling Phillies keep rolling along in the mire. They entered last night having scored just 92 runs in April, which ranked 14th in the National League. They had hit just .233 with runners in scoring position, which ranked 12th. They had hit just 17 home runs, which tied for 12th. They had left 185 runners on base, which ranked second.

That's a big reason why the Phils finished the month 10-14 and last in the NL East. They managed just three hits and one unearned run in five innings against Willis, who threw a shutout against them April 13 in Miami.

In nine career starts against the Phillies, Willis is 4-1 with a 2.24 ERA.


And what about the Mets? They began April on a 5 game losing streak and ended it on a four game losing streak. Archie Bunker's Army has all the morbid details.


Worst of the worst:

Not that anyone didn't expect it but the KC Royals are the worst team in baseball despite last night's victory.

Perhaps that's only by default however. The Royals are 6-18 but the Colorado Rockies, 1-7 outside of Coors Field, are still only 6-15 with every chance to overtake the Royals eventually.

Not far behind are the Pittsburgh Pirates as fans struggle to count the money.


If the playoffs started today:

In the National League, the Braves and Diamondbacks are tied for the best wildcard record at 14-10 but for the sake of making this all less confusing, let's remember the Braves are alot less likely to fold before the end of the season than the D'backs so the playoffs would look like this:

Atlanta Braves @ St Louis Cardinals
Florida Marlins @ LA Dodgers

The American League would be even messier:

Minnesota Twins @ Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Anaheim Southern California Angels @ Chicago White Sox.


Today's Menu

Mark Prior, RHP (3-0, 0.95) Cubs (12-11) @ Roy Oswalt, RHP (3-2, 3.25) Astros (9-13)

Prior fanned a season-high 10 in his last start against Cincinnati, and was finally charged with two earned runs. The right-hander has looked sharp despite missing most of Spring Training with an elbow problem. He's now struck out 22 over 19 innings.
Oswalt took his second loss in his last outing on April 25 at Pittsburgh as the Astros fell 2-0. Oswalt gave up two runs on six hits and recorded six strikeouts. The right-hander has not allowed more than two runs in any of his last four outings, after yielding six on Opening Day. Oswalt was 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA over five starts versus the Cubs last year.

Bartolo Colon, RHP (3-2, 3.73) Angels (13-11) @ Johan Santana, LHP (4-0, 3.55)
Twins (15-8)

Colon had allowed just one run over his previous 15 innings, but allowed three runs in the first on a homer by Alex Rodriguez in his last start. Colon allowed three homers, all to A-Rod, in that game. Colon has struggled in the Metrodome, posting a 2-5 record and a 4.64 ERA.

Santana continues his run at history as he shoots for an 18th consecutive victory. Roger Clemens holds the American League record with 20 consecutive wins and Carl Hubbell set the Major League mark with 24 consecutive wins. Santana is undefeated in his last 20 starts. Although he hasn't been quite as sharp as last year, when he won the Cy Young Award, Santana showed signs of rounding into top form Tuesday when he worked eight innings and allowed just five hits and one run against Kansas City. Santana had eight strikeouts in that game and walked just one. He has fanned 45 and walked just three in 33 innings.