Saturday, April 29, 2006


No flashy QB, no draft day trade to the Saints for Reggie Bush. Just a can't-miss offensive tackle. Fair enough, the new management, mirroring the philosophies of coaches like Fat Bill Parcells and the stoic Belicheck, drafting D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the third pick of the draft.

Think about the last three "can't-miss" offensive tackles to go high in the draft. Arizona's Leonard Davis (No. 2 bust in 2001), Buffalo's Mike Williams (No. 4 bust in 2002) and Oakland's Robert Gallery (No. 2 bust in 2004). And let's not forget Tony Mandarich (No. 2 overall in '89 back when drafting an offensive lineman that high was virtually unthinkable.

Hell, how long ago did the Jets draft their own disappointing d'defensive lineman Dewayne Robertson with their first round grab?

But rebuilding the offensive line isn't necessarily a bad move. Via the NFL's website combine comments on all players available, we learn that D'Brickashaw, in addition to his ridiculous name has the potential to be "a very good left tackle in the NFL, but to do so, he will need to up his level of aggressiveness. There are definitely times when he is frustrating because he does not bend his knees or use his hands aggressively, which hinders his ability to play up to his ability. Overall, he could be an inconsistent player for a season or two early in career, but with experience, he will become more consistent. In three seasons, he should be a very good left tackle who can make all the blocks and can eliminate his man on nearly every snap."

Very ominous indeed.

Not content with one lineman in the first round, they took Ohio State center Nick Mangold, another weirdly name lineman ("Man Gold"? - the Man With the Golden Phallus?). More ominous words from the NFL site, this time about Mangold: "Mangold looks much thinner on film than his measured weight and he struggles to play strong. He cannot get movement on straight-ahead run blocks and gets knocked backward by bull rushers too often. He loses his focus at times, which leads to him leaning and reaching to make contact and he gets beat by quick arm-over moves. When he pulls, he does not always block a man."

There you go, two picks, two offensive lineman who may or may not pan out.

Now think about the Jets trading up to take Reggie Bush as the second pick. Reggie Bush would have been a marketing coup against the Giants. Versatility, speed, untold athletic talent, no need to be the starting, hammer-them-into-the-dust running back, Reggie might have done so much in a Jets uniform. Easy come, easy go. The NFL website was no less harsh on Mr Bush. "Bush is a little thinner than ideal for his height and lacks the size and strength to break tackles consistently in the NFL. He carries the ball too loosely and does not get it into his outside arm consistently. If he is this nonchalant with the ball in the NFL, he will fumble. He is not a consistent pass blocker and often gives just an adequate effort and his man pressures the quarterback."

Well, after two picks, the message appears to be Protect Pennington.

Then, just in case, they take Roger's son, Kellen Clemens - not really Roger's son, but "a very smart and fundamentally sound quarterback with a very quick and compact release and when he strides into his throws, he can make all the throws with very good zip."

Aside from Matt Leinart, Clemons might be the only other quarterback who is more ready mentally to step into the NFL and contribute early in his career, they say. Once his broken left ankle heels, which allegedly, it already has, this might prove to be a smart pick. Better than drafting up for Leinart or Young.

Couldn't we have just traded down for extra picks and taken, like 30 offensive lineman with all the extra draft picks? Did we really have to waste the third pick of the draft with a guy whose first name derives from a character (Father Ralph de Bricassart) in a best-selling novel-turned-TV miniseries (The Thorn Birds)?

His former position coach, Ron Prince, must think so. New Kansas State coach Ron Prince, insists that the svelte and lanky religion studies graduate — who according to some,looks more like an NBA power forward than overpowering lineman, will "revolutionise" the left tackle position in the NFL.

Another Buckeye, Anthony Schlegel, a linebacker, was taken next. Same NFL sources say "Overall, Schlegel is not the ideal linebacker because of his athletic limitations, but his smarts, toughness, instincts and production between the tackles cannot be ignored. He will struggle if he ends up playing for a team that requires its middle linebacker to play a lot in space, but he can be a productive two-down inside linebacker for a team that uses him correctly."

Sounds promising.

Last pick of the first day of the Draft was Eric Smith, from Michigan State who has bust written all over him at strong safety. "Started 22 games over the past two years. Smith has good size for the position. He is a smart player with good instincts and good, but not great, athletic ability. Has had a lot of injuries and will have trouble keeping up with speedy players..."

Trouble keeping up with speedy players? Well, why worry, there aren't any speedy receivers in the NFL...

Why couldn't they have taken Darnell Bing at that pick for a strong safety?

Anyway, a snoozefest for Jets fans. Except for their moment in the sun when they got the chance to boo Herm Edwards when he came on the air for an interview. No matter how well the critics are panning the wisdom of their picks. The best we can hope for is that Pennington has an injury-free season for a change. A durable running back at this stage, would be very useful in Day Two. Like Taurean Henderson out of Texas Tech. A real sleeper. I'd even move up, if necessary to take him before some else steals him.


Bitter Day For Ingerland - Portugese Conspiracy

And over here, the "other" football news was a mighty blow for the English team when Wayne Rooney broke his right foot AGAIN joining Michael Owen, Ledley King, Ashley Cole et al on the list of English players who are or will be coming off injuries heading into the World Cup. Forget about England's hopes now. In one day, ruined.

Chelsea's Portuguese defender, Paulo Ferreira. He lay on the ground, in obvious pain, for several minutes before being put on to a stretcher and carried away, to loud applause from both sets of fans.

And let's not forget this news comes on the heels of Portugese national manager, the Gene Hackman of Brasilian football, turned down the chance to manage England after this World Cup.

Ironically, it was another Portuguese defender, this time, Paulo Ferreira, who made the damning tackle on Rooney. Rooney's first broken foot was caused by Portugals's Jorge Andrade, wen he trod on him in the Portugal-England quarter-final in Lisbon, which England later lost on penalties.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The New Mr Jet?

Oh the controversy! With the NFL Draft just days away the anticipation has the air almost as thick with wild guesses as the days (weeks) leading up to the Super Bowl.

What is this strange new animal, the "Mock Draft" wherein "experts" endeavour to go telepathic on the decisions to be taken by teams which will, in most cases, have little to no effect on next season's Super Bowl? It's more media hysteria, more selling sport by creating artificial hype, more armchair experts making uneducated guesses in the hopes that they can point to their chests on Draft Day and say, see, I told you so...

Sports Amnesia harkens back to the good auld days before the 6 months of pre-Draft analysis, before the draft itself became like a national obsession of workouts, Rorschach tests, 40 yard dashes and bench presses. The days when a fan simply rooted for his team to make the pick of the guy they mistakenly believe will have the most immediate impact on their team's chances at Super Bowl redemption.

We're hoping the Jets take USC's Matt Leinart and we're hoping they do it without having to trade up. Is Matt Leinart the answer to the Jets myriad of problems? No. Will he only convolute the QB situation in NYC? Yes Should they take Vince Young instead with a look to an unpredictable future? Hopefully not. Leinart is merely a hope, a man who might sparkle on Broadway or flop like Moose Murders?

A former QB not in the talent-assessing business but astute nonethless, Phil Simms, evaluates the QBs available and of Leinart, he says: ..."he does lose control of the football every once in a while; the ball sails high a little, probably because he doesn't put enough rotation on his passes. This can be a factor in cold weather. Can he learn to improve this? Absolutely. But that would be my concern with him."

Of Jay Cutler, everyone's favourite darkhorse, he says "Cutler probably played in an environment that was most NFL-like for a quarterback. I watched about five Vanderbilt games, and he got hit a lot. He's used to making decisions and throwing from a position that is more like what he'll see in the NFL. By NFL standards, the safest pick of the three is Cutler. He's big and strong, has enough mobility and can make all the throws. Whether it's the West Coast, East Coast -- whatever offense he gets drafted into, he's going to be able to adapt to it. I'm not sure you can say that about the other two. There are offenses in the NFL that are not made for Matt Leinart, because they love to throw the ball downfield. That's not what he is going to be great at."

And of course, of Young, he says: "If you took the simplest offensive system among the 32 NFL teams, it's still extremely complex compared to college offenses. There is a tremendous amount of information in the NFL and quarterbacks do have to know it and it does come in handy. He can't just step out there and make plays. That's just not the way it is."

No predictions here but Matt Leinart has the pedigree. It doesn't translate into much in the NFL but USC has always been a QB factory, save for the Todd Marinovich disaster. The Trojans have seen 18 QBs head to the pros or at least be drafted and many of the names are very familiar. Players like Pat Haden, Pete Beathard, Vince Evans, Rodney Peete, and Bill Nelson all had long, productive pro careers, and Carson Palmer became the first USC quarterback to win the Heisman in 2002.

No matter how it pans out (certainly Reggie Bush will go #1, won't he?) the draft does promise to be more exciting than it has been in recent years with the load of uncertainty within so many of the top drafting teams. Lots o suprises, no doubt. And what's more exciting than the Jets taking things seriously and drafting D'BRICKASHAW FERGUSON instead. Be still my heart.


The Baltimore Orioles are now 10-1 when leading after six innings. Meanwhile, Met reject, Mr Anna Benson, pitched his best game of the season, throwing five perfect innings and allowing just one hit after the second as the O's beat the Blue Jays in the second tier AL East struggle.

Fortunately for the Mets, Brian Bannister is not dead. The dodgy hamstring that saw him collapse at home plate in Wednesday night's dramatic 9-7 extra inning victory over SF, is not as bad as expected. The doctors told him he had a grade 1 strain, the least serious kind.

The Cincinnati Reds, a suprise? Well, they're hitting the hell out of the ball and at 15-7, they've got a suspicious yet good jump on the NL Central this season so far. Having taken three of four from the Brewers and swept the Nats, they aren't exactly beefing up against top quality teams but Sports Amnesia predicts a full swoon, stumble down the stairs in June, when they face in order, 6 road games against Houston and St Louis, a 10 game homestand against the Cubs and Brewers and then the World Champion White Sox, then back on the road for series' against the Mets and Cleveland before a buffet of Kansas City Royals to close out the month. If they survive June, they might have a claim to hope but until then, paper lions, baby.


Anticipating the piss on the parade: MLB Used Car Salesman Extraordinaire, Bud Selig, everyone's favourite piƱata, says there will be no celebrations if Bonds passes Ruth.

"Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record," Selig said of the Steroid Star fast approaching. "We don't celebrate anybody the second or third time in."

When Aaron broke Ruth's record in 1974, commissioner Bowie Kuhn was not in attendance. Kuhn's absence rankled many, including Aaron.


Meanwhile, quietly down in Houston, the Astros are rolling faster than ever.

The defending NL Champs have won six of seven series this year and matched their best start since 1986. They face the Reds on Friday in the opener of a three-game series in Cincinnati that is shaping up as an early duel for first place in the NL Central.


Meanwhile, in the ongoing "If the Season Ended Today" series, the playoffs would look thusly:


Mets v Reds
Astros v Rockies (still surprising..)


White Sox v Angels
Red Sox v Tigers

no Yankees, whooopee!


SI's Tom Verducci examines the auld pitchers:

"It's one of the more fascinating story lines of April, right there with the curious increase in home runs, the dominance of Albert Pujols, the comeback of Jim Thome and the rise of previously underappreciated Chris Shelton and Jonny Gomes. The 10 active pitchers with the most wins entering this season were a combined 23-11 after Monday's games. They are Maddux (4-0), Tom Glavine (2-2), Randy Johnson (3-2), David Wells (0-1 and on the DL), Mussina (2-1), Jamie Moyer (0-2), Pedro Martinez (4-0), Curt Schilling (4-0), Kenny Rogers (3-2) and John Smoltz (1-1). And that group doesn't even include Roger Clemens, who is likely to earn $10 million to make about 15 starts for the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox or Rangers."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Baseball

Compare guts:

Before Wang held the Twins to one earned run in seven innings and struck out a career-high eight with no walks in the Yankees' 9-3 victory, Mike Mussina. Wang, Shawn Chacon and Jaret Wright had combined to go 1-1 with a 7.40 ERA while averaging less than five innings per start. That, plus Mariano's rare blown save the day before was giving Yankee haters hope everywhere.

Of course, hitting like Murderer's Row doesn't hurt. Giambi, A-Rod, Johnny Damon and Gary Sheffield each had three hits; Cano and Derek Jeter each had two. Giambi hit two home runs. A-Rod hit one and almost hit another.

Still, all this and the Yankees have only just reached the .500 mark.

All this and the Mets have the best start in their history at 8-2. Archie Bunker's Army let's you ride the rollercoaster that was yesterday's victory.


Two Aces

The cat's out of the bag, the Blood Sox have two aces.

After yesterday's victory, Beckett is now 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA and Schilling is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA. Beckett 12 Ks in 21 innings, Schilling 16 Ks in 22 innings. Beckett has beaten Toronto and Seattle at home and Texas in Arlington. Schilling has won at Texas and at Baltimore and beat Seattle at home.

Meanwhile their closer, the little-known Jonathan Papelbon has appeared in seven games, saved six and has yet to give up a run this season, all of which goes a long way towards offsetting Manny Ramirez's horrific start which is a .214 batting average and a mere 9 hits in 12 games, all of which have been singles.


Coors Air Is Getting Heavier

Phillies righthander Brett Myers, is now a remarkable 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four career starts at Coors after yesterday's 7 2/3 shutout innings in a rare 1-0 game at Coors. The Phillies, who started the season 1-6 are now up to 5-7, coming home and facing the Nats in the battle for the middle of the NL East pack.

How rare is a 1-0 game at Coors? It was just the second 1-0 finish in Coors history. The first happened July 9 last season, when the Rockies beat the San Diego Padres, 1-0. It took 847 games at Coors for the first 1-0 game. It took just 41 more for the second.

Best news for the Phillies was probably that their lone run came from Ryan Howard's homer in the 7th.

It had been 11 games, 13 days, 38 at-bats and 44 plate appearances since his last home run and his last RBI. Howard hit one homer every 14.2 at-bats last season, when he won the National League rookie of the year award. He hit one homer every 7.7 at-bats this spring, when he hit a franchise-record 11 home runs in spring training.

Still, Howard is hitting .317 (13 for 41) with two homers, two RBIs, six walks and a .404 on-base percentage.

What about Jim Thome, the man he replaced?

Thome already has as many home runs as he did last season. Yesterday he blasted a two-run homer, his 7th of the young season, leading the White Sox to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the 12th straight game that Thome has scored a run.

The win came amid rain delays.

Here, Sox starter Mark Buehrle enjoys the rain delay.

Who says Rain and Baseball can't be fun?

The White Sox Management, that's who. Buehrle was fined for his stunt.

"As I've told him twice before, he needs to find another hobby," KillJoy GM Ken Williams said. "This one puts his career and his team's chances in jeopardy."

Buehrle left in a huff after the game, saying, "I don't know if I should be talking about this. I got in trouble. … I can't be out there anymore and I can't have any fun."

Buehrle wasn't the only angry White Sox pitcher yesterday.

The Angry Man in action...

After White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi fumbled an easy grounder that would have ended the inning, Sox starter Freddy Garcia raised his hands to reveal his displeasure, thus showing up a teammate. Garcia struck out the next batter to nail down a rain-shortened 6-4 victory over Toronto, but his gesture was a topic of conversation in the clubhouse afterward.

"I was upset at Freddy," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't want my players to embarrass [teammates]. The way the game was and the field was, his reaction was a little bit out of control. I understand his frustration. I understand he wanted to get the inning over. But I don't like my pitcher to show anybody up."

Ahhh, don't worry so much. After all, the KC Royals are up next...


But if you want to talk homers, Thome is small potatoes compared to Albert Pujols.

Game Over...

The reigning National League Most Valuable Player added one of his more amazing chapters to date on Easter Sunday 2006 when he hit three home runs, including a two-run walk-off blast in the ninth inning, and gave the Cards an 8-7 victory over Cincinnati and left the St. Louis players grasping for superlatives to describe their dynamic first baseman. The three-homer day for Pujols was the second of his career. He also hit three on July 20, 2004, at Chicago. Pujols, who now has eight homers through the Cards' 7-5 start, has six career walk-off homers.

Meanwhile, in Detroit...

Mike Moroth, whose start was set back by three days due to elbow soreness, pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings to improve to 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA (does he belong in the Blood Sox starting rotation?) as the Tigers nipped the Indians in a 1-0 game.

The outing outshone a respectable performance by the Indians' Cliff Lee, who allowed only five hits in seven plus innings of work and the one hit? A home run by WHO? Chris Shelton. Shelton's Major League-leading 8th homer of the season.

Meanwhile, you better believe ump Paul Emmel was hoping Indian's manager Eric Wedge had flossed and brushed before getting in his face and getting ejected in the 5th inning arguing the auld balls and strikes.

Baseball History

Today in baseball history,

1892 - In the first Sunday game in National League history, Cincinnati defeated St. Louis 5-1.

1951 - In his first major league game, Mickey Mantle went 1-for-4 as the New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-0.


Down and Out in Pittsburgh

The Pirates continued their mad dash towards mediocrity with their 10th loss in 14 games, this time a 7-3 loss to the Cubs at home.

Pirate starter Ian Snell was tagged for six runs on six hits and a walk in five-plus innings, marking the 12th time in 14 games in which a Pirates starter has been unable to register a quality start. Wonder why they suck?

Snell, making his third start of the season and 10th start of his big-league career, had the Pirates digging their way out of another early hole when he surrendered three runs in the first inning, the final two coming on a two-out home run by Todd Walker.

Through Sunday, Pirates starting pitchers have combined to go 2-7 with a 7.13 ERA through 14 games. And things ain't getting better any time soon. Next up, Pujols and the Cardinals.

Two Weeks in Baseball

If the baseball playoffs started today, this is what they'd look like:

Red Sox v Indians
Angels v White Sox


Mets v Cubs
Astros v Giants

The Rockies, who were last week's surprise "what if" playoff entry, are still only a half game behind the Giants. Oh yeah, and for the fools who believed the Blue Jays' millions would elevate them above obscurity this season, look who is in last place in the AL East...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Confirmed Kill: Yankees Can Beat The Minor Leaguers At Home

The Big Unit needed only five innings to mow down the Royals as the Yankees proved yet again they can beat the nobodies at home, 9-3.

Yesterday marked the 14th straight Royals loss at Yankee Stadium, the longest losing streak for an opponent in the Bronx since the Cleveland Indians lost 22 in a row from 1960 to 1962.

"They're a good team," Yankee owner Steinbrenner dared breathe. "They are not going to lose 100 games."

Not before the All Star game, anyway.


An anonymous hand getting too close to comfort to Carlos Delgado's that a teammate or the bat boy?

Don't open your eyes yet, but the Mets have won six in a row against inferior NL East opponents and sport the best record in the Major Leagues at 7-1 now following their 13-4 Mercy Killing of the Nats yesterday in DC.


After winning six of their first seven games, the division-leading Blood Sox dropped their second straight last night to their division rival wanna bes, when Matt Clement was utterly outpitched by Blue Jay Ted Lilly in an 8-6 loss to Toronto at storied Fenway Park. Maybe it was just the opponent. Clement is, for example, 5-0 lifetime vs. Baltimore but last night fell to 0-3 with a 9.45 ERA in five career starts vs. Toronto. So keep that in mind - Clement against the pushovers, fine. Against the contenders, keep him hidden in the bullpen.

And speaking of Blood Sox pitchers having piss-poor outings, how about the Fat Man, David Wells two days ago?


Oliver Perez emotes following a grand slam against him.

On the other end of the infinite spectrum come the Pathetic Pirates who dropped yet another game yesterday, this time to the LA Dodgers and this time by a 13-5 margin.

Perez threw 106 pitches yesterday -- 43 of them balls. In his 4 2/3 innings, he doled out 9 hits, 5 walks and 6 runs -- the final four coming on Cody Ross's grand slam on a split-finger changeup.

But it's not just Perez. In 11 games, Pirates starters have worked just 55 2/3 innings, packing in 77 hits, including 13 home runs, 33 walks and 45 earned runs. Not much left for the jackals in the bullpen to pick over is there then?

As Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook pointed out, a lot of bad stuff happens when your starting pitcher can't get past the fifth inning game after game after game.

"Hey, everyone knew the Pirates' young starters were going to struggle at times, but this is ridiculous. As a group, they are 1-5 with a 7.28 ERA. In the first 11 games, only two starters went six innings -- Duke in Milwaukee April 5 and Maholm in Cincinnati April 7. In six games, the starters allowed at least five earned runs, including all four of the games against the Dodgers. The Pirates were lucky to get a series split because they hit four home runs in each of their wins Tuesday and Wednesday night."


World Champs Complete Sweep of Tigers

Big Ugly blasted his 6th homer of the young season which must simply drive Phillies Phans mad. I mean, can't you just imagine being a Phillies fan, smoldering whilst Ryan Howard struggles and Jim Thome blasts homer after homer after homer like one slap in the face after another?

But hey, maybe the Phillies fans were comforted by second straight over the Braves. (more on that later)

But in snuffing the Tigres, the White Sox put a runner on base in every inning as they collected 15 hits and scored their most runs since earning a 14-6 victory at Kansas City on July 25 and moved above .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

Has this palpatation to White Sox hope driven away the johnny-come-lateleys who hopped aboard the Bandwagon sometime in late September last season? That would probably take a half-season hangover to do but in the meantime, what the hell is going on with Jose Contreras? Dating to last August, Contreras is 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA. And since the second inning of his last start against Cleveland on April 5, Contreras has allowed one run (a homer by Detroit's Craig Monroe) and one walk in 13 innings. Who was it the Yankees inked two offseasons ago in a desperate ploy to shore up their weak rotation? Besides the Big Unit, that is...oh yeah, Jaret Wright and the bimbo Carl Pavano. How many big performances, hell, how many victories have those two Injury Clowns earned whilst Contreras, once a Yankee punching bag, scorches MLB with his fancy pitching?

Just look at that mean wind up. Like a snake posed to strike.


Personally, I never jumped on the White Sox bandwagon. Not even one foot got on board. It's not that I dislike the White Sox or even like the Cubs for that matter. It's just that the White Sox World Championship, on the heels of the Blood Sox World Championship is just too damned many feel good stories too close together, like some sort of sinister Bud Selig plot or something.

But speaking of the Cubs anyway, how about that thrilling 8-3 pounding at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds? Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (0-1) allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits, walked three, hit a batter and struck out eight in his third start of the season and second shaky outing against the Reds. He allowed five runs and walked five in 4 2-3 innings but didn't figure in the decision as the Cubs beat Cincinnati 16-7 on opening day.

Momentarily diverted from the misery of getting pounded twice by the miserable Reds in two games at Wrigley, Cubs fans discover something else to cheer about: Matt Murton.

Who is Matt Murton? The new Cubbies cleanup hitter. For fans with low expectations, this is the most exciting news thus far in the season. Murton hit the first pitch of the fourth inning over the center-field wall for his second home run, and the Cubs scored two more in the fifth on Murton's bases loaded single and Dunn's error in left.

Fortunately for Cubs fans, the misery might be clearing as the Pittsburgh Pirates are up next on the schedule so the delusions can go on uninterrupted...


As for the Phillies, Gavin Floyd gave up three runs in six innings and Utley hit his first two homers of the season, giving the Philadelphia Phillies a 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Gavin Floyd, the new Jon Lieber?

The Phillies won two of three from the Braves after opening the season with a 1-5 homestand.

Utley was hitting only .200 with no homers while Floyd (1-1) had an ugly 10.13 ERA after his first start.

But here's the even better news: Through 10 games, the Braves' five starting pitchers are 0-5. The last time the Braves had no starting pitcher with a win after 10 games was 1988.

Is this FINALLY the Braves swan song? Paging Mr Leo Mazzone. White phone for Mr Mazzone...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Baseball Pastoral

Mulder unleashes in the opening of the Cardinals' new home, The New Busch Stadium...(ewwwww, how original.) -- Still, the Cards won and ended the Brewers season starting win streak.


Meanwhile, Back At The Auld Fenway...

I hate the Blood Sox and their fans but what a nice view.


And of course, the Hated Yankees opened their season in perhaps the most venerated baseball field in America:

Let's hope both AL East rivals lose.

Go Mets!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Week One In The Books

If the playoffs started today we'd see the following:


Red Sox-Detroit



Hard to believe.

Anyone taking bets on how long the Rockies stay in the running?


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Yankees Stinkees

Not even Randy Johnson can help the Yankees from the muck and mire from their inexplicably slow start.

The Big Unit (1-1) pitched an eight inning complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out eight with no walks. Interestingly, Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera has still not been used once by the Yankees this season.

Surprisingly, not even a lineup bolstered by the likes of Johnny Damon, Mr March, Alex Rodriguez and the "allegedly" steroid-laden physiques of Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield can help the Yankees out of the hitting slump they've been shackled by ever since their 15-2 Opening Day offensive outpouring. Yesterday, Derek Jeter hit a homer in the first inning, Hideki Matsui hit one in the ninth, and in between the Yankees had two hits.

Of course, provided no one's head mysteriously explodes outside the offices of a certain G Steinbrenner, the slow start might ultimately prove to be to the Yankees benefit.

The last time the Yankees started a season 1-4, they went on to win 114 games and the World Series.

Blood Sox Increase Early Lead

It looks like Mr Bloody Sock himself, Curt Schilling is back to normal after a season of disjointed recoveries. Whether that in itself is enough to bolster a relatively weak Blood Sox pitching staff remains to be seen but it certainly can't hurt that Schilling scattered three hits yesterday over 114 pitches and allowed just one run in the win over the Orioles and that in two starts this season he is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.


WHO? Is hitting .700 this season so far: Chris Shelton.

Tigers won their 5th in a row 7-0 over the disappointing Rangers whose ridiculously expensive signing of an overrated starter in Kevin Millwood continued to bear rotten fruit. Millwood lost his second game of the season in his second start, allowing five runs and eight hits over six innings.

J.J. Hardy slides past Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder with the game-winning run on Carlos Lee's ninth-inning single.

The only other undeated team in baseball, the Brewers won their 5th in a row yet another puzzlingly feisty beginning to the season, nipping the Diamondbacks in the 9th inning.

Carlos Lee delivered a ninth-inning single that sent the undefeated Brewers home with a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of 29,226 at Miller Park.

The Brewers have come from behind for all of their wins. They trailed 3-0 after 2 1/2 innings on Saturday before Lee sparked the comeback with an RBI double in the bottom of the third.


On the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates lost their 6th in a row and remain without a win in the first week of the 2006 season

Oliver Perez hands the ball over after an embarassing 8-run 6-hit 8-walk outing in a mere 3 1/3 innings. Not suprisingly after such a start, the Pirates were beaten by the Reds, 11-9.

The franchise record for season-opening futility is an 0-8 mark in 1955. Only two more to go.

With the Phillies rained out yesterday, Pennsylvania remains without a win in baseball this year.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Remaining Unbeatens

Four games into the season and the Midwest must be going mad. Detroit and Milwaukee are the last unbeaten teams remaining in baseball.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Conor Jackson, left, is out at second as Milwaukee Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy throws to first base to complete a double play on a ball hit by Shawn Green during the fourth inning of their baseball game Friday. (AP)

Dave (Who?)Bush gave up two hits in seven innings and Derrick Turnbow got his fourth save in four games to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 on Friday night.

Turnbow became the first pitcher to save each of his team's first four games of the season since the save become an official statistic in 1969. Which lucky dog saw that coming on his fantasy team?

Bush (1-0), who was acquired in the trade that sent Lyle Overbay to the Toronto Blue Jays in December, struck out seven to earn the win in his first start for Milwaukee.

And to think, these fine four starts have all come with ace hurler Ben Sheets off the team rehabbing an injury. Sheets made a rehab start for Double-A Huntsville Thursday, throwing 49 pitches. He is expected to make another minor league start on Tuesday, where his pitch count will be approximately 70.

You may find it hard to believe (or remember) but the Brewers won their first 13 games in 1987. That team finished 3rd in the AL East with 91 wins behind Detroit and Toronto.


Detroit Tigers' Mike Maroth pitches in the third inning against the Texas Rangers (AP)

Meanwhile, with Jim Leyland making his baseball managerial comeback in Detroit, Chris (Who?)Shelton had a two-run homer and the Detroit Tigers remained the AL's only unbeaten team with a 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night. Last season it took Shelton 26 games to reach five homers en route to his career high of 18. All four homers this season have been with the bases empty.

The Tigers lead the majors with 16 homers.

"You're happy to be 4-0 but I won't get too excited about it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "In our first four games, our starting pitchers got wins. That's very unlikely but in this case, we did. We're pitching and playing defense very well."

Tigers starter Mike Maroth (1-0) gave up one run and eight hits with one walk in 5 1-3 innings. Relievers Jason Grilli, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney combined to allow one run and three hits over the final 3 2-3 innings. Rodney worked the ninth for his second save.

Maroth had been 0-3 against Texas with a 10.35 ERA in four previous appearances.

Pitching phenom Justin Verlander will make his first start of the season against Rangers' ace Kevin Millwood (0-1) on Saturday.

Of course, we remember 1984 when the Tigers won their first 9 in a row and 35 of their first 40 games.


Meanwhile, Archie Bunker's Army chronicles the Mets third win in their first four games to assume control of the NL East.


And in other games on Friday, the Cubs knocked the Cardinals from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 5-1 victory to open a three game home stand at Wrigley. Greg Maddux, a week shy of 40 and like his 40 year old former teammate Tom Glavine, won his first start of the season.

Maddux held the St. Louis Cardinals to four hits over 6 1/3 innings to earn his 319th victory to place him 15th on the All Time Victories list.


A day after the Rollins hitting streak was halted at 38, the Phillies dropped their 4th straight loss to start the season, this time a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers. The Phillies haven't started a season 0-4 since 1987, and this is the first time they've lost the first four at home since 1977 -- though they did end up going to the playoffs that year.

PA Sucks

Even more futility in Pennsylvania as the Pirates slogged along to their worst start in 32 years, losing their 5th game in a row to start the season.

The Pirates are 0-5 for the first time since 1974, when they lost their first six games. The 1955 club dropped its first eight, setting the franchise record for futility.

Pittsburgh finished last in the NL Central a year ago, 33 games out. The Pirates retooled their everyday lineup, adding former Reds Sean Casey and Joe Randa, but are 4 1/2 games out of first place less than a week into the season.

Pennsylvania baseball teams are now 0-9 to start the season.


Yankees Suck!

And yes, it's true, the Yankees lost another last night, this time to the Angels. The Yankees have now lost 3 in a row after a their Opening Day win and it probably won't be long before this multibillion dollar enterprise starts feeling the heat, one week into the season. Oh Happy Days!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lesson One: Don't Read Much Into Opening Day Results

Well for those in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Chicago and the Bronx who were so excited about the season following Opening Day victories, reality came crashing back down quickly.

The Braves, almost undone by their bullpen Opening Day after a massive lead against the Dodgers, were confounded in the end by a combination of Dodger's starter Brad Penny gave up a mere 5 hits and a run in 5 innings along with 8 Ks and closer-elect Danys Baez ended Tuesday night's game by getting Marcus Giles on a called third strike after allowing a two-out single to Wilson Betemit that put the tying run on base. Meanwhile the Braves other ace, John Smoltz, took a relative pounding, aloowing 9 hits and 5 earned runs in 5 inning so of work.

Not V for victory more like, Where the Hell Am I?

As for the Blood Sox, following a similar bullpen meltdown Opening Day that almost cost them a victory, were undone by knuckler Tim Wakefield who allowed a three-run homer in the first inning to Phil Nevin and then a two-run single by Nevin again in the fourth as they fell behind 7-0 by the 4th inning and lost 10-4. Unlike the first game in which Blood Sox hitters pummeled Ranger starting pitching, Ranger starter and Phillies reject Vicente Padilla allowed only 4 hits and a lone run in 6 innings stifling the mighty Blood Sox attack. Wakefield, by contrast, faced 22 batters, and 11 reached base on seven hits and three walks, plus a strikeout/passed ball that allowed Kevin Mench to reach.

In Oakland, Marco Scutero undid all the feel good rubbish eminating out of the Yankee camp with by singling home Milton Bradley with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Athletics a semi-dramatic 4-3 victory over the Yankees.

Roger takes his NL Chumps ring but where will he end up?

The Marlins, in a fearsome message to their NL East opponents or a damning indictment of Astros hitters, completed a second consecutive evening of dominant pitching, winning this one after Sergio Mitre pitched 6 shutout innings allowing only 3 hits and striking out 5 as the Marlins defeated the Astros 11-2.

Delivery of World Champ Rings or Heads on Platters?

The Indians, after being relatively humiliated on Opening Sunday Night, bounced back to give the White Sox a taste of their own medicine and, on the day they received their World Champions rings no less, pounding them 8-2. Indians starter Jake Westbrook allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings for the Indians, who put ace lefty C.C. Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a strained abdominal muscle. After Westbrook left, Rafael Betancourt and Guillermo Mota didn't allow a hit the rest of the way. As an afterthought, Jim Thome passed Cal Ripken into 35th place on the all time HR list, with 432.

Of course the only thing this proves is that it's far too soon to foresee any patterns in much of anything yet.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opening Day In Full Swing

Almost too much action packed in one day: not only baseball's first full swell of games in the official Opening Day for 26 teams but nearly lost in the shuffle was the NCAA Basketball Finals.

Piazza upstages Barry Bonds and shocks former Mets supporters.



(Coco Crisp makes a leaping grab to rob Laynce Nix of an extra-base hit in the ninth. (Globe Staff Photo / Matthew J. Lee)

1. Red Sox- good news for Sox: Curt Schilling's line against the Texas Rangers--7 IP, 5 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 SO. Among those in the crowd was 43-year-old recruit Roger Clemens, who sat with Rangers owner Tom Hicks as part of the first official visit of his free agent tour. Will this tour last longer than Clemens' famed Quest for 300 Tour?
2. Orioles - Orioles CF Luis Matos became the first player in team history to hit a HR on back to back Opening Days since Frank Robinson, in 1969-70.
3. Tigers - Tigers P Kenny Rogers's line--6 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 0 BB, 5 SO.
4. Angels - Who cares? Eff the Angels and their multi-city name.
5. Yankees - Zito is 0-6 with a 7.94 ERA in his last eight starts against the Yankees.

Only real suprise was the O's winning their first game of the season.

1. Mets - full game details at Archie Bunker's Army. More good news, the line on the Braves bullpen last night: 5 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 2 Ks.
2. Brewers- Brewers' first season opener at home since 1995.
3. Cubs - The Cubs have played the Reds more than any other team in season openers, going 17-15 and winning nine of 12.
4. Cardinals -Albert Pujols hit 2 HR (2 BB), 2B Aaron Miles had 4 hits (2 2B, 1 3B) and 3B Scott Rolen had 3 hits (1 HR) against his former teammates in Philly.
5. Rockies- this'll never happen again: Rockies P Jason Jennings's line--7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 6 SO.
6. Braves- The Scumsuckers have a 1,432-931 record since the start of the 1991 season - the best in baseball.
7. Padres - Piazza tied Dale Murphy for 43rd place on the all time HR list, with 398. Meanwhile, a syringe was thrown at Bonds.
8. Astros- Roy Oswalt (8 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) combined with Brad Lidge for a shutout.


Everyone's least favourite President, the famed Mr Bush, visited Wrigley Field for the Cubs Opening Day. The only snafu from the presidential visit occurred beforehand. Manager Dusty Baker and relief pitcher Bob Howry had knives taken from their bags at Great American Ball Park as security tightened for the visit from the president.

"It's the first time they took it at the ballpark," Baker said. "They've taken it at the airport when I forget [it was in the bag]."

Asked why he had a knife, Baker said: "It's a pocketknife that you use for stuff— cutting apples, doing whatever, tighten a screw or cut some tape off a box, cutting string, anything."

Yeah, tighten screws. Cubs manager's job.


Phillies Rollins keeps streak alive, tied for eighth-longest in baseball history, the longest in the majors since Hall of Famer Paul Molitor hit in 39 straight for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987, 19 short of matching Joe DiMaggio's all-time mark of 56....He extended his hitting streak to 37 games with a double off reliever Adam Wainwright with two out and a 3-0 count in the eighth inning in a massive loss by the Phillies.


Of course, the Florida Gators are National Champions after defeating the UCLA Bruins by a 75-57 score. Forwards Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford combined for 41 points, 23 rebounds and nine blocks. Not counted in the stat sheet is the complete intimidation they put on the Bruins. For his 16 points, nine rebounds and six rejections, Noah was named the tournament's most outstanding player. His 29 blocks for the tourney set a record.

Not that many noticed.

Monday, April 03, 2006

2006 Baseball

We're running in late with this one and for that reason, keeping it simple. Predictions:

AL East
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Tampa Bay

AL Central
KC Royals

AL West

AL Cy Young: Randy Johnson
AL Wildcard: ChiSox

ALCS: Yankees over Oakland


NL East
NY Mets

NL Central
St Louis
Chicago Cubs

NL West
LA Dodgers
SF Giants
San Diego

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter
NL Wildcard: NY Mets

NLCS: StLouis over Mets

World Series: Yankees over Cardinals, 6 games.