February 2008 Archives

Conditioning With Takashi Saito

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One of our tipsters sent this to us, and I thought it would be inspiring for the weekend. It's Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito working out this past offseason. With concentration like this, he seems well on his way to anchoring that pen and having a stellar 2008.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Are Hurt Already

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stretcher.JPGSo we're only a week or so into Spring Training, and only a couple days into live game action, and already some guys are on shelves of varying lengthitudeness. Injury reports are popping up all over the wire, and I'm here to pass on some names and ailments. If you're one for depth and stuff, the esteemed Will Carroll over at Baseball Prospectus has done a similar list, but with numbers and money and acronyms and such. He's much smarter than I am.

Anyway, here's a look at some wimps:

Brad Lidge, Phillies: The centerpiece to Philadelphia's offseason suffered a meniscal tear and just underwent successful surgery. Knee injuries can be a bitch (I'm going through one right now) but since we're talking about Lidge the Phils should be happy it's a physical ailment. Wink Wink.
If you're a girl.

Jake Westbrook, Indians: According to MLB.com Westbrook is "generally sore". When he was healthy for the first half of last season he generally sucked. Good thing he's locked up through 2010.

Scott Kazmir, Rays: Eek. Rays observers seem highly optimistic this season, and alot of that rests on 1-2 rotation punch of Kazmir and James Shields. Team brass says he'll be ready for opening day, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Plenty of good seats still available.

Mark DeRosa, Cubs: DeRosa has had a heart arrhythmia since he was a teenager, so I feel bad for calling him a wimp, but I don't feel like scrolling back up to change it. He just had a "procedure" to fix it, and all signs are that it was a success. That's good news as you'd hate to see him follow in the footsteps of fellow Chicagoan, Todd O'Connor

Omar Vizquel, Giants: Same injury as Brad Lidge, Vizquel is out 4-6 weeks. And thus the vaunted Giants offense comes crashing down.

Tom Gorzelanny, Pirates: Headline of the year: Aching Gorzelanny Scratched As Precaution. DONT SCRATCH IT YOU'LL JUST MAKE IT WORSE!

Garret Anderson, Angels: Raped by a wallaby.
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Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo had a real shitty 2007. He was perhaps the worst hitting full-time shortstop in the American League, and stayed in the starting lineup solely because of his speed and glove. He was so bad at the plate, had the Red Sox had one of them replacement players at shortstop, they'd have won 100 games. No matter, everything's coming up Lugo: the Sox got their World Series trophy and Julio got rid of the hookworms living in his intestines.

Yes, Julio Lugo is blaming his awful performance on parasites he picked up on a month-long jaunt through Europe:

"I never got my strength back," Lugo said. "I started training in January and that only made it worse, and when I got to spring training, I wasn't right. "Last year I was sick before I came in. I was weak. I just couldn't get my bat through the zone. This year I feel better. I'm in better condition."

Don't blame Europe, man. Most of Europe isn't full of parasites (except Ireland...have you ever been to Ireland? Sheesh!). Admit it Julio, you like to walk barefoot from the shack to the outhouse when you're in West Virginia. That's where parasites come from.

(Re: the wifebeating thing...yes, I know Lugo was acquitted of the whole spousal abuse thing, but c'mon, how'd she get those lacerations on her face? She slammed her own head into the car hood?)

O HAI

Last season, newcomers Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Justin Upton all made noise in their debut seasons with, respectively, winning a Rookie of the Year award, helping his team win a League Championship, and...uh...being the youngest player in the National League. As they enter their sophomore seasons, expect all three to go to shit 'cause they're gonna be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as the SI Cover Curse. Remember Matt Williams on the cover in June '95, a mere three days before breaking his foot? Remember Mo Vaughn on the cover four months later, right before going 0-for-14 in the Indians' three-game sweep? And who can forget the Princess Diana cover in August of 1997?

So please expect wacky stuff to happen to these three gents. Let me put on my speculatin' hat and wager some guesses: Mr. Tulowitzki will shoot himself in the thigh while cleaning his revolver, Mr. Braun will get run over by an out-of-control seven-person bicycle, and Mr. Upton will get drunk at the San Diego Zoo, get lost in the sun bear forest, and get torn to shreds.

Kenny G. Meets Mariners Starter; ________ Blowing

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kenny batista.jpgMiguel Batista seems like an alright guy. Considers himself a bit of a role model, does work with various charities, etc. That being said: AROOOOGAH! DWEEB ALERT! Last year Batista took up the soprano sax, and just recently went all swoony when he met his idol, Kenny G. Your flaky aunt or your old manager at the Linens N' Things may have liked ol' Kenneth Gorelick but Miguel Batista fucking loves him.

"He played for me," Batista said. "It was my favorite song, 'Alone.' Now, I feel like I've had everything. I've talked pitching with Sandy Koufax, had Kenny G play for me. Maybe if I could have an interview with God, then I'd be served. I'd be complete."

That's quite the Jewish Dude Trinity you've got there Miguel. Sure you don't want to squeeze in a chat with Paul Reiser?

This article made me realize three things:

1. Miguel Batista is ambitious.
2. Miguel Batista is boring.
C. I'm really excited for the season to start so I can start writing about actual baseball stories.

Via the inimitable Big League Stew comes this little news vignette from the good people at WISN 12 in Milwaukee:

Bitch, what kind of reporter asks her subject, "Are you crazy?" If he's not crazy, he'll say no and that'll be that, but if he is crazy, he might murder you and use your skin to keep warm.

I'd also like to know where Brewers fan Tony Wedl got that Harvard hoodie, because Dummy certainly didn't matriculate at an Ivy League institution. Otherwise, he'd be smart enough not to risk frostbite on his twigs 'n' berries for measly Brewers' tickets.

Hey friend! Walkoff Walk welcomes all commenters! Want to register? Just click down below on "Sign in to comment on this entry" underneath the "Leave a Comment" header which will take you to the following screen:
signup.jpgAnd then click where it says "Sign Up!" That will register you to be a commenter at Walkoff Walk. We promise not to ban anyone for any reason except absolute jerkiness. Oh, and all Royals fans get banned.

heal my broken heart, sugar bearSome people have a hard time moving on. For example, Lloyd Dobler, Steve Urkel, Mike Huckabee, the guy trying to collect on my student loans, and Andruw Jones.

The CF signed a two year deal with the Dodgers in the offseason after the Braves wouldn't meet his contract demands and the Atlanta Journal Constitution is all, "Oh my God, he's totally not over us."

In the story, Jones repeats the "it's a business" platitudes ad nauseum and even says, "I'm not going to let my emotions get in the way." Emo! For his part, Andruw's former teammate, and bold prediction maker Chipper Jones isn't buying the Gloria Gaynor schtick:

"He wants to be here," said Chipper, who played golf this winter with Andruw. "He misses it. He knows he's going to miss it. We talked a little bit. He only signed a two-year deal. He knows the restraints we're under monetarily. He knows that in two years he's going to get an opportunity to come back if he so desires and wants to work with Atlanta."

What the shit is that? Is Andruw going to drop every fly ball hit his way when he's playing the Braves? Is he going to strike out every time up? Ok, that one's a bad example but you're picking up what I'm putting down. Perhaps Joe Torre is also in on the ruse and has been yearning to return to Atlanta for the past 24 years. Once he and Jones bring down the Dodgers from the inside they can return to the golden pastures of Peachtree.

Come to think of it, the AJC is right. I never should have left Atlanta those times I visited in college. I'm going to start pining immediately, and once my two year contract to drink High Life at The Silhouette is up I'm going back.

ceci n'est pas Shawn Murphy

Shawn Murphy (not pictured), son of Hall-of-Fame Hall-of-Very-Good member Dale Murphy, is a 320-pound defensive lineman out of Utah State, and he's currently showing off his skills at the NFL Combine. Dozens of middle-aged white men are busy watching Shawn prance about in his underwear, which is completely not homoerotic at all. Shawn used to play baseball in high school, but gave it up after his junior year to pursue football (and, presumably, Yodels, Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos, Ring Dings and Devil Dogs):

"I remember certain incidents if I struck out I'd hear it from the stands," said (Shawn). "They'd say, 'Oh, they struck out Dale Murphy's son,' but in football if I get beat they're not going to get down on me because being Dale Murphy's son has nothing to do with it, so there is less pressure."

Translation: Shawn tried his hardest at baseball and failed miserably, so he chose to bulk up on corn chips and deep fried Milky Ways and choose a simpler sport that doesn't require hand-eye coordination or an IQ over 60. It's okay, Shawn. We know hittin' baseballs is hard, y'all! But your dad struck out 1748 times in his 18 season career! Wouldn't it be an honor to say "Oh, Dale Murphy's son struck out! He's just like his paw!"

Maybe he did already weigh 320 pounds when he was playing baseball, but only if he was the comically overweight catcher in The Sandlot. That fat kid's hilarious, haw haw.

UPDATE 2/29: (This is merely my satirical spin on an otherwise un-newsworthy item. I don't know Shawn Murphy and I'm sure he is a fine upstanding gentleman with no emotional issues. Now go away.)

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Remember the playoffs last year? Yeah, me neither. But for those of us who enjoyed the Division Series and NLCS on television last year, they were tuned to TBS, once known for showing Atlanta Braves games and reruns of Mama's Family. Well get ready, baseball fans and pick up those pitchforks, Vicki Lawrence fans, because baseball is coming back to TBS for twenty-six consecutive Sundays.

Chip Caray and (possibly) chubby bunny Tony Gwynn will be in the booth finding new ways to irritate baseball fans and people who blog about television presenters. Me? I haven't experienced enough Chip to get a full hate boner yet; I still reserve the lion's share of my antipathy for Tim McCarver.

So who's playing these Sunday afternoon affairs? Get ready for some fine matchups, such as:

  • Sunday, April 6 1:00 p.m. Boston Red Sox @ Toronto Blue Jays
  • Sunday, April 13 1:30 p.m. Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies
  • Sunday, April 20 1:30 p.m. LA Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves
  • Sunday, April 27 1:00 p.m. NY Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
  • Sunday, May 4 4:00 p.m. NY Mets @ Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Sunday, May 11 1:00 p.m. NY Yankees @ Detroit Tigers
  • Sunday, May 18 1:30 p.m. Milwaukee Brewers @ Boston Red Sox
  • Sunday, May 25 1:00 p.m. Seattle Mariners @ NY Yankees

"Oh, boo-friggin-hoo! There are too many Red Sox and Yankees game! Waa waa stop it with your East Coast bias!"

Hey, shut up, crazy person I just made up. MAYBE just maybe TBS wants to hedge its bets and show the two successful teams that have been basically splitting the American League championship belt over the past 12 seasons. What a crazy programming idea! Showing GOOD teams! Yes, we realize the Rockies were good last year, but they ate shit for 10 seasons prior. Fuck you, Rockies fans.

toriihunter.jpgJumping Jesus on a Pogo Ball, that Torii Hunter is swell. In fact, if you wrote this story about the new Angel, you might even say he:

  • is a positive presence
  • is just a regular guy who smiles all the time
  • likes to make his teammates laugh, but doesn't play practical jokes
  • is just a lucky guy from Pine Bluff, AR, who loves baseball and genuinely likes people
  • is fun to be around... a real delight
  • has been around, knows the game
  • is just a good person and he's great with all his teammates. There's an energy there... the guys are rallying around him.
  • was one of the best players on the market
  • attends morning chapel

Man, he can't really be that nice, can he? There's got to be some boring lame quote about him just getting ready for the season and taking it one day at a time SOMEWHERE in this article. That will reveal him as just another jerky baseball cyborg!

"I like people, man, I love people," he said. "God's greatest gift is people. If everybody would treat everybody like they want to be treated, this world and this clubhouse would be great."

Alright, fine. Torii Hunter is the most kind and lovable human in all of baseball (even if he is going to be 38 when his new contract expires). I concede. And he definitely seems nicer than Milf Hunter. I wonder if they're related.

There Will Be Burrell

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Today marks the official start of exhibition games for our favorite baseball teams in Florida and Arizona and to kick it all off, your favorite new baseball blog is going to live glog a game. No, not Big League Stew, you idiot. Your pal Rob is going to live glog the Phillies-Reds game right here at Walkoff Walk.

New AARP member Jamie Moyer will start for the Phillies at their training facility in Clearwater. Dusty Baker's Reds counter with Jeremy Affeldt, who gave up a home run to Ryan Howard in the NLDS last season and was once a Royal. Come back at 1:05PM and follow my first ever attempt to live-glog something on the radio.

Hey pal! The liveglog is happening after the jump!

vote.jpgAmerica has a long and distinguished history of people that have shaken the political landscape. A country founded on revolution has birthed many people that challenged the legislative status quo of their surroundings: Thomas Paine, Abbie Hoffman, Malcolm X... And Texas Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson.

Apparently Wilson made some politically charged comments to ESPN's Page 2 that have gotten him in hot water with some of his (gasp!) more conservative teammates. In an article on ESPN'S Page 2 Wilson said he couldn't talk about the upcoming election with his teammates. Furthemore:

"It's frustrating," says C.J. Wilson, the 27-year-old Texas relief pitcher. "I'd say there are two reasons. One, there's a general lack of education among us. But two -- and most important -- you're talking about a population that makes a ton of money, so the ups and downs of the economy don't impact whether we're getting paid. Therefore, we often don't care."

The entire affair devolved into a message board back and forth over at our friends Lone Star Ball where, because Wilson's statement about "the economy" was so 'tarded (I am not making this up), Rangers pitcher Brandon McCarthy explains the ramifications of extending Bush's jerkoff rich guy tax cuts. In turn, Wilson called baseball players dickheads or assholes or something. I had to stop reading.

This is now the second time in less than a year that Wilson has stirred up some shit via the ebays. The weird thing is, last time the professed "Taoist" showed his face round here he was posting blatantly racist myspace messages (lol omg 411 QVC) to the aforementioned McCarthy, but now he's in trouble for things he said while hyping Obama. Whaa Happened?

Ron Washington is currently working on his sprint times to diffuse any situations with Milton Bradley. Perhaps he should keep his eye out for any microphones or keyboards in front of C.J. Wilson.

Tavern Talking Points #2: Your Team Should Sign Barry Bonds

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Thumbnail image for bar+fight.bmp.jpgToo dumb to come up with your own ideas and take sides in a bar argument? Let WoW's Tavern Talking Points do it for you.

With the exception of the Giants, every single weak hitting team in baseball should consider signing Barry Bonds. The idea that Bonds is some sort of pariah above and beyond anyone else tied up in baseball's ongoing steroid mess is insulting to fans' intelligence. This infuriating Ken Rosenthal column claims that "even if Bonds led his new team to a World Series title, many would consider the victory hollow."

Really, Ken? I don't know a single baseball fan that would claim that. Bonds' numbers last year were more than serviceable and would go miles towards protecting any team's best right handed bat, especially as a DH.

If anything, this offseason's Mitchell report shitstorm makes Bonds' transgressions stand out less. That's common sense. Christ look at a team like the Royals who outright talk about the added punch to their lineup once Jose Guillen finishes his suspension for PED use. In a climate where drug suspensions play out like a hamstring pull, I refuse to buy any front office's moral apprehension at signing Bonds. Having him in the league isn't bad for baseball as some fire and brimstone talking out their asses columnists would have you believe, but for any team trying to compete with the AL's most high powered offenses, it's just bad baseball not to sign the best available players.
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If it weren't for his wildly infamous father, Koby Clemens would just be another of the many unknown players reporting as a non-roster invite to spring training. Still, because his father is an extremely well-known jerk, Young Koby's arrival to Astros' training camp in Kissimmee gets a 1,000-word article in the Houston Chronicle. Can Koby overcome all this undue attention and perform well enough to earn the attention of the higher-ups in the Astros organization? Or will the pressure force him to pull a Dale Berra? Let's hear what Koby has to say about his Pop:

"I know we're not out of the doghouse yet," he said. "It's going to be a long process. But once we get through it, all will be back in order."

He's young but he knows his cliches. Good show. Forget his dad: how did Koby play last year?

Koby Clemens hit .252 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs over 115 games at Lexington last season. After committing a team-high 29 errors at third last year, Koby learned that the organization wanted him to switch positions.

Jesus Christ, his defense at third base is more porous than Hanley Ramirez with concrete shoes and a mitt made out of Fruit Roll-ups. They're having him switch to catcher, which is totally a position that does not rely on good defense or throwing ability. Oh, and he struck out 112 times in 115 games. Sorry to pile on, Kobester. Any chance the Astros could cut bait if Koby doesn't progress past single-A ball?

(Roger) Clemens has a 10-year personal services contract with the Astros. That's seven years more than McLane guaranteed on the personal services contracts he gave franchise icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio and five more years than were guaranteed to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who ended the contract last month after four years so he could rejoin the Texas Rangers.

Oops. That nepotism is a bitch. Right, Yogi?

Tim Hudson Rubs Kangaroo Balls; Headline Writes Itself

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kangaroo_boxing.pngAtlanta Braves beat writer David O'Brien recently relayed a story of some lucky charms a tad more grisly than those of his Leprechaun* ancestors.

It seems reliever Phil Stockman, who grew up in Australia, has given teammates Mike Hampton & Tim Hudson a traditional Aussie good luck token: Pairs of kangaroo testicles. On a key chain. Oh yeah and...

"told them to rub them before each start."

I wouldn't ever want the same good luck charm as Mike Hampton. That's asking for trouble. Also, if they're taking up space on a keychain they should have some function like unlocking the car doors when you squeeze them or maybe some sort of piercing alert whistle in case you get raped by a wallaby.

In any case, I prefer my animals to be living and having recently released a really good record.

*unconfirmed

Thanks to reader Matt T. for the tip. I owe you a Coke.

Rusty Kuntz Tightens Up Loose Knowledge Of Rules

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1985ToppsKuntzRusty073Large.jpg When the weather warms up and gentle spring rains soak the country, you know that Rusty Kuntz can't be far behind. If there's one things baseball players love it's academics, and Ol' Kuntzy is dropping some knowledge on Royals spring training in the form of his baseball fundamentals quiz.

The new first base coach brought the quiz along with him from Pittsburgh so you know it gets results. Let's see if I can answer a couple of the questions listed in the article.

Q: Before a game starts, what are the first two things a player should check?
The color of the discharge and whether or not he has a fever.

Q: If the ball hits an ump on the infield grass, is it alive or dead?
Hopefully if it hits Bruce Froemming, he's dead. Oh, you mean the ball?

Well Rusty Kuntz, how'd I do? Can I play for the Royals now? No, because I suck at baseball? Ok, well can you call someone at the Pirates for me then?
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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

Hey do you remember what happened in the National League East in 2007? I'm having some trouble 'amembering so maybe my good friend Wikipedia can recap it for me:

"Down the stretch, the Mets played poorly including losing five out of six games with the fourth-place Washington Nationals. They lost on September 28 to fall into second place for the first time in over four months but pulled back into a tie with Philadelphia on September 29. On September 30, the Mets faced the Florida Marlins with hopes of winning the NL East or at least forcing a one-game playoff. Unfortunately, Tom Glavine surrendered 7 runs in the first inning as the Mets fell 8-1. The Phillies capped their miraculous comeback with a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals to win the National League East."

Oh, riiiiiight. Sorry, I just wanted to relive that again. Does Major League Baseball sell a DVD that only describes the massive Mets' collapse? I'd enjoy the schadenfreude.

So who's gonna shit the bed this year in the N.L. East? Follow me through and read my preview please:

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I am obsessed with watching the long-running FOX reality show Cops. I am especially fond of pronouncing the word "cops" as if I lived in Natick, Mass: I say "cawps" with a Boston accent faker than Martin Sheen's in The Depaahhted.

Unfortunately, the good people who produce Cops were not on hand in Mesa, Arizona this weekend while Cubs' pitcher Jose Ascanio was getting his ass handed to him in a convenience store, or else we'd have some fantastic footage of the aftermath of this one:

"He got beat up pretty good last night," manager Lou Piniella said. "He got punched a few times by a guy that was looking for some money. He didn't get robbed. But the guy asked for money and evidently the young man said, 'I don't have any money,' and the guy punched him a few times."

Ascanio got knocked the fug out! In a Circle K! He ended up with nothing worse than a black eye. But it seems like Ascanio wasn't the only Cub to have an oopsie this weekend:

"The strangeness around an otherwise quiet Cubs camp began Friday, when center fielder Felix Pie missed a workout to have an unusual, but minor, medical procedure in his Australian region (think land down under)".

I don't get it. Felix fell tush-first onto a boomerang? He ate too much vegemite and got backed up? Did he get raped by a rabid wallaby? Stop playing coy, Chicago Sun Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer!

(I stole this news item from David Pinto's Baseball Musings blog.)

2-6-5 thief 420.gifAfter years of begging, pleading, threatening and whatever else it took not to shoulder the financial burden themselves, the Florida Marlins finally got approval for a new stadium to be built on the site of the currently 'splodin Orange Bowl. The numbers break down so heavily in the Marlins' favor it has to be considered another victorious fleecing for that clown, Jeffrey Loria.

Of the proposed $550 million cost, Miami Dade county puts up an initial payment of $382 million, while receiving virtually no revenue from the stadium once it's built. After that, the city is then responsible for the construction of a $94 million parking garage. The Marlins have a $120 million payment out of pocket, which coincidentally, is the same amount of money Jeffrey Loria received for putting the Expos up for slaughter.

Holding the team ransom for a $450 million gift from taxpayers has been the M.O. in South Florida for more than one ownership, but it seems even more unsavory with Loria's filthy fingers on the public money. On top of it, some of the quotes are downright infuriating.

"What happened [Thursday] is the final elimination of uncertainty surrounding our franchise," team president David Samson said. "This date, Feb. 21, 2008, is the day the Miami Marlins are permanently saved in South Florida. Period. There is no more discussion."

Do you see the implications there, South Florida? Every time the Marlins wanted to move it was your fault. Now that you've wised up and diverted some money to them you will be spared the fate of those poor francophone saps without a baseball team in Montreal.

Much like belief in any savior, the stadium logic rests on a big leap of faith. As someone who lived in South Florida for a couple of years, I know how badly that team needed a new place to baseball in. But, I also have a hard time buying that moving the team even further south will do anything to boost attendance once new stadium nostalgia wears off. Is there a huge crop of baseball fans that were skipping games because of the 20 minute drive up the Turnpike? I never met any.

But enough out of me, let's see what other people think!

"It's going to be nice," outfielder Josh Willingham said Friday at spring training. "It's going to be for us. It's going to have a retractable roof and all the stuff that comes with it."

Uh... well put, Josh. When the reporter left I imagine Josh continuing, "We will play baseball there. It will be on earth."

What about you, super old timey Macon Telegraph columnist Coley Harvey?

"True, retractable roofs will allow games to go on without delay. But isn't it part of the joy of baseball to sit through rain delays of indeterminable lengths, sticking around sometimes for hours at a time to finally watch play resume(?)"

I agree! By the way, what's the deal with anesthesia? I want to feel the open heart surgery!
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Since we're good at being gentlemanly and cordial, CTC and I don't pursue the whole "snake-mongoose" thing and are generally convivial about our favorite teams' rivalry. To that end, CTC gets Yankees-related news, like all the juicy A-Rod and Jeter items; that's good because I could never be unbiased about Derek the Dreamboat. But luckily, I get the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez, who, if you didn't know is good at (a) baseball, (b) being Manny, and (c) not showing up on time for Spring Training.

But fie, what is this?

"Manny Ramirez arrived at the spring training complex Wednesday afternoon with little fanfare, dropping by briefly to drop off some personal effects. It was his least-controversial arrival in years, eliminating the need for a Manny Watch by reporting on the required date for position players."

Good show! Manny Ramirez is actually one of my favorite players. He's the best hitting outfielder in baseball and he's like a clown, he amuses me. He makes me laugh, he's here to amuse me. I don't think the media folks agree with me; I think he spent all of 2007 not talking to them. They're a fickle bunch, the press:

"Ramirez, who turns 36 May 30, is coming off his worst season in Boston (.296, 20 homers, 88 RBI)"

It was his worst season in Boston, and yet he still out-VORPed every single left fielder in the American League whose name doesn't rhyme with Schmarl Schmawford? So why did Manny train at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona this winter?

"I want to be like Julio Franco, play until I can. Why not?"

Fourteen more years of Manny? Baseball fans should all be so lucky.

lockercool.jpg In 2007 Matt Cain had one of the better 7-16 seasons in recent baseball history. In his second full Major League season with the Giants, he improved almost all of his numbers. Unfortunately the Giants were completely incapable of scoring any runs in his starts

I like Matt Cain. Last season I took him realtively high in my fantasy draft (SUCK IT ICARANE) and projected big things for him. I think he's going to have another good year in 2008 (even though the lineup is even worse).

That being said, I'm still trying to figure what it means for the club that they're making Cain the face of the 2008 season.

Ann Killion's profile of the 23 year old righty in the The Mercury News lays the aw shucks on nice and thick. Cain seems like a good enough guy, but... really?

Cain is on the cover of the Giants' 2008 pocket schedule. Cain was present at the team's 50th anniversary news conference, and is in the new "What Would A Gamer Do?" ad campaign that will launch around opening day. And, most symbolic, Cain will move across the clubhouse and assume a locker stall in the area previously occupied by Barry Bonds.

Didn't this team just sign Barry Zito to a $3 Trillion Dollar contract last year? Doesn't Zito make girls all swoony? Aren't Bay Area bros clamoring for some his transcribed tabs? If he's going to pitch all shitty and stuff again shouldn't they try to get some kind of work out of him?

Who knows, maybe in 6 months I'll be taking this all back after Cain's fourth no hitter of the year (in which the Giants go 1-3), but it just seems a little strange.

Postscript: Approximately one hour after writing this blog entry, the author still couldn't get over how terribly lame "What Would A Gamer Do?" sounds.
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The Mets-Phillies rivalry is the new Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, except with poorer fans. After the Mets' epic September collapse and the Phillies' fizzled playoff run against the Rockies in 2007, both teams have a hard-on for shedding past failures and strutting about like cock-of-the-2008-walk. Way too much hullabaloo has been made since the start of spring training what with Carlos Beltran and Jimmy Rollins going back and forth about which team will reign supreme this season. Well, National League East fans, Chipper Jones feels left out:

"I really don't care what's being said," he said. "The Phillies and the Mets know we'll be competitive. They know we'll be heard from."

That's it? Chipper? You'll be 'competitive' and 'heard from'? Have you actually read the promises Messrs. Beltran and Rollins have made so far? Let me rank the statements in order, from most cocksure to least:

  1. Carlos Beltran: "We are the team to beat."
  2. Jimmy Rollins: "There isn't a team in this division or the National League that's better than us"
  3. Henry Rollins: "We're gonna rise above"
  4. Sonny Rollins: "When I have a particularly good performance, I know it."
  5. Chipper Jones: "We'll be heard from"

Even the Mark Teixeira fanboys have more bravado than Chipper Jones. Even the miserably hot Snorg Tees girl has bigger grapes than Chipper Jones. Even Bobby Cox' Nubian harem has more confidence than Chipper Jones (and so they should...rawr!)

Chipper, since you are an experienced blog commenter, please give us a few stronger words on this matter.

Everything's Comin' Up Cardinal

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Fantastic week of news for Cards fans.

First up it's Albert Pujols' strained right elbow ligament. It's been bugging him since 2003, and affects him more when he throws than when he hits. Still, St. Louis Coach Tony LaRussa said he saw something (hiccup) different in his first baseman's swing last (hiccup) year.

The story hath reaped my early leader for quote of the Spring:

"If it blows out it's going to blow out," Pujols said. "You can't control that."

I'm not so sure that I agree with that logic, but I do know that if you're riding in a car with Bert and his 'check engine' light goes on, don't bring it up. He will call you a pussy.

Then yesterday, previously optimistic projections about Matt Clement were scaled back. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said, "In all honesty, I would be surprised if he's ready for opening day."

In all honesty I'd be surprised to see him pitch ever again. It's not a fun story to follow. Clement can't get strength back in his shoulder, and even when he does it could take a while to get his head back. It's been 18 months since he threw a pitch to a live batter.

As that Fox article goes on to point out, Anthony Reyes, Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson are fighting for the last two spots in the rotation. There are only two spots left because Braden Looper and Joel Pineiro locked up the 2 and 3 spots. Obviously.

Worst rotation in the majors? Let's get it started!

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Byung-Hyun Kim has been in the majors for almost 10 years and only now am I learning that his name is Byung-Hyun and not Byung-Hung. Seriously, I'm not even making a Tino Martinez/Scott Brosius joke...why would I? Kim got his World Series ring just like the rest of the Diamondbacks. Heck, he even got a World Series ring with the Red Sox in aught-four; Kim is the Yankees' South Korean kryptonite.

Well, the Yankees visit Pittsburgh in June; Neal Huntington must agree with my wacky theory because the Pirates signed Kim to a big-league deal yesterday, supposedly worth $800,000.

Kim had one notable September start last season with the Marlins, in which he defeated the Mets in the game that knocked them out of first place for the first time in four months. Sure, he may have had an ERA north of 6 but his strikeout per inning ratio was pretty decent. Seems like he still has his 'stuff' but may still lack 'focus'.

I sympathize with Kim. I'm not sure if it was the sudden success or unfamiliarity with American culture or basic xenophobia that caused baseball fans like myself to think he's a nutjob. Still, he has given up some notable home runs in his career: the ones against the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, Barry Bonds' 715th career home run in 2006, a Kosuke Fukudome two-run shot that propelled Japan to a semifinal victory over Korea in the World Baseball Classic; he's like the Zelig of walkoff homers. Except Korean.

Exciting News Roundup!

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Your friends here at WoW are old hands at these internets, but we're usually crashing at our buddy's house. This is the first time we've had our own place and we're trying to keep it nice. You know how it is when you get your first place in college. You and the roommates map out a schedule of chores, stock the fridge with all kinds of fresh stuff to cook with, and then in two weeks it's all gone to shit. The chore list is being used to mop up the grain alcohol you spilled when you tripped over the huge pile of dirty dishes in the bathroom.

One of the things on our "chore list" here was not talking talking much about steroids. There are a couple reasons for that, but the most important one to me is that the stories are all about things that happened in the past that have no real bearing on this season. That's what we're here to chronicle.

No one else seems to be taking the same route, as the biggest news from camp so far seem to be stories about people not talking. What. The. Fuck. A google news search of "baseball" last night around midnight came up with the following:


Tejada and Ramirez would be great stories from Mime Camp, and Roberts's comments would represent a big step for an agoraphobic. Can I get a fucking story about baseball please?

Ahh... Hank Aaron. I'm sure the media interviewed him for a fine homespun anecdote to get us excited for opening day! Shit.


Tufts professor and author of Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat: New York's Big Three and Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949-1953 Sol Gittleman is interviewed as part of the Massachusetts School of Law series "Books of Our Time". In this short clip, Gittleman argues that the Red Sox' lack of success in the late 1940's was due to the racism of owner Tom Yawkey. Oddly enough, Gittleman says that Yankees' GM George Weiss' own racist ways led to the signing of Oklahoma farmboy Mickey Mantle.

Some random thoughts:

  • When listing players, Dom DiMaggio should never be referred to as simply "DiMaggio". Always include the 'Dom' part. This is crucial.
  • George Weiss was shrewd in his racism. He basically said to his scouts, "Find me a white ballplayer who plays like these Negroes". No wonder Mantle was a drunk.
  • Sol Gittleman has a harmonious Bronx accent and I could listen to him talk for hours on en...zzzzzzz
  • Posting our first YouTube makes me feel like Ufford, just more bookish.

Surprise! Jose Guillen is a Dick

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Noted substance abuser, alleged HGH user, and admitted tattle-tale Jose Guillen showed up to Royals' training camp in Surprise, Arizona today wearing a hilarious black curly wig. He's got the same affinity for disguises as Clinton Portis with absolutely none of the charm and even less of the public trust.

Hell, the Royals are Guillen's ninth team in twelve seasons as a major leaguer; he pisses off more general managers, owners, teammates, opponents, batboys, trainers, peanut vendors, fans, announcers, ushers, and groupies than Albert Belle did in his entire career. The only ones who seem to like Guillen's antics? The sportswriters. Check it out:

Aramis Ramirez: Shut The Fuck Up And Let Me Cockfight

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chicken-little-top.jpg When it comes to cockfighting jokes, I like mine nice and gay. The recent spat of cockfighting stories in the MLB has been like Christmas for many juvenile blog commenters. I hope someone uncovers a woodpecker fighting ring soon.

I never get sick of the blessed double entendre, but some people might think it's hack. After the jump, I won't be making any cock jokes, but I bet you'll be able to tell when I'm thinking them.

The pencil bearded 3B showed up at Cubs camp and wouldn't answer any cockfighting questions from the media.

"I'm not going to talk about that. That's personal. It's a different culture down there. I'm from the Dominican, so let's talk about baseball," he said when the question was posed the first time.

But the fun police just could couldn't keep their empanadas out of Ramirez's adobe, and asked again.

"I said I'm not going to talk about that. I've just got to say this: It's a different culture in the Dominican, and that's it."

Jesus people. That shit be legal there. Back off. You don't see Aramis busting your balls about listening to the English language version of Hotel California do you? You got that right. He respects your culture.

Hunter Pence Sympathizes With Marty Jannetty; Various Birds

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glass.jpgClint Barmes, you're off the hook. You may remember when the Rockies shortstop had his breakout season interrupted by massive quantities of deer meat. While still funny, there's a new moronic injury on the block. Ladies and Gentlemen, Hunter Pence!

The Astros OF is scheduled to miss up to a week of camp due to lacerations suffered when he went crashing through a sliding glass door.

Pence and a friend were about to take a dip in a hot tub outside of the house, and unbeknownst to Pence, his friend had closed the door behind them. Pence got out of the tub to use the restroom and walked into the door, which shattered around him.

"It's pretty silly to have this kind of freak accident happen," Pence said. "I didn't think I would go through a glass door. Normally, it wouldn't shatter like that. Somehow, it shattered and I was stuck in the middle of a bunch of broken glass."

Since he was about to get into the hot tub with his buddy, I'm going to blame this all on too much Prosecco. Put some stickers on that bitch!

Pence's blog is strangely silent on the incident. Perhaps he put his head through the monitor.
lasorda.jpgSo new Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre is taking some of his players to Beijing for some friendly games against the Padres and leaving Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney and all of the starting rotation behind at Dodgertown in Florida. (I, too, would not hesitate to leave Jeff Kent behind. Something tells me he wouldn't take kindly to the Chinese culture). Who would the team choose to manage the split squad while he's away? None other than octogenarian dago Tommy Lasorda.

Just Let The Boy Catch Catch Your Knuckleball!

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herlihyboywchris.jpgDoug Mirabelli wants to water your plants. He wants to walk your dog and sleep in your bed. He wants to stay in Boston and catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball and he wont shut up about it.

The backup backstop just took a $200K pay cut to stay with the Sox. Nothing too peculiar about that, but the article in the Boston Globe about it reeks of the worst kind of codependency. Christ, Dougie. Have some self respect or at least a little tact. Why did they even pay him any money? They should have just given him a gift certificate to Java World.

The interesting thing about Mirabelli suddenly pulling the Herlihy Boy act, is that the for the past couple of years the Sox have acted like they were the ones that couldn't live without him. He's become a fan favorite by fashioning himself as a "Dirt Dog," a term as meaningless as it is insufferable (remember, I'm a Sox Fan). When he left for the '06 season, Josh Bard was hardly given a month to learn to catch Wakefield's floater before shipped off to San Diego to bring Mirabelli back. It was quite the retarded scene, man.

His anemic hitting numbers are somewhat offset by the fact that he only plays 5 days a week, but that's only part of the story. With Jason Varitek slowing down at a Gedman-like pace and no one in waiting, Boston is facing an impending catching crisis. Bard's relative youth and much more serviceable numbers would have filled that gap nicely until something was worked out. Creepy devotion has its drawbacks.

When the Herlihy Boy finally makes his plea to move in he says,

"Please? I've already slept in your bed. If you didn't want me to move in, why'd you let me sleep in your bed? Just let me move in with you, please?"

That could have been pulled verbatim from the Globe article. In light of the events two seasons ago it would have made perfect sesne. Regardless, it's not very becoming of a grown ass man.
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I'm not sure whether to criticize or laud Andrew Baggarly, the Mercury News' beat writer for the San Francisco Giants, for penning a report about Giants' new closer Brian Wilson without using a single Beach Boys reference. Sure, saying "God only knows why Bruce Bochy selected Brian Wilson to be his closer" would be total hack, but is it possible that Baggarly has no idea that the more famous Brian Wilson once led the most popular band in America? Follow me after the jump as I think up new Beach Boys puns and figure this new kid out...

That's Why They Play The Games: '08 AL Central

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american+gothic.jpgEvery Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

The Tigers went into August '07 with a 1 game division lead. They went into September behind by 5.5. Cleveland's youth, both in the lineup and in their lethal 1-2 rotation punch held up better in the dog days. That momentum carried the Indians all the way to an impressive 3 games to 1 ALCS lead against the Red Sox!

But like Nancy Pelosi, my devotion to my job, and (hopefully) Justice, that's sooo last year. Detroit has done some heavy remodeling. Speckalate with me by clicking below.

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If you remember the 1993 San Francisco Giants, you remember a team that won 103 regular season games and yet still missed the playoffs, thanks in part to a system that featured no wild-cards, and to journeyman pitcher Salomon Torres. Torres started the last game of the regular season; a win would have set up a tiebreaker with the Braves. Torres blew it. Fast-forward to December 2007, after a comeback took him from Korea to Pittsburgh, the Pirates traded Salomon to the Milwaukee Brewers. Salomon considered retirement but his daughters' love of sausage made him reconsider. Find out why after the jump...

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Perhaps you remember the tastefully named Gregg Zaun as a utility catcher for the Orioles or Marlins or Rangers or Royals or Astros or Rockies or Blue Jays. Or perhaps you remember Gregg Zaun for being the nephew of former MLB catcher Rick Dempsey. Or if you're like me, you remember Gregg Zaun as the celebrity athlete movie reviewer for ESPNet Sportszone way back in 1997, the antediluvian days of the four-letter's Internet presence. Either way, Mr. Zaun is back in the news today as he finally broke his silence on his appearance in the Mitchell Report. Follow me after the jump as we examine Gregg's latest revelation:

lolberroa.jpg For baseball fans who love redemption stories and jokes about the elderly, Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees always hold some gems. While primarily made up of minor leaguers, the lists always contain a few "I Can't Believe He's Still Alive" names. These guys are "just trying to make the team" in the truest sense, and always yield a couple of good stories.

Unless you're a catcher, that is, because you're probably just being used as cheap bullpen help until April.

Some intriguing veterans and storylines, after the jump:
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are a miserable franchise seeking to dig themselves out from seven years of poor talent evaluation by former general manager Dave Littlefield and fifteen consecutive years of losing records. The Pirates have been so awful they make the Royals look like the two-time defending Pacific League champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (actually, the Royals hired the Nippon Ham Fighters' manager, Trey Hillman, so they'd be quite pleased with my metaphor). Pittsburgh has what many call the nicest park in the majors with lower than average ticket prices, yet struggle to fill it with biding-our-time-until-football-season Steeler fans. Worst of all, the gentleman that the franchise just hired a new manager was actually fired as third-base coach by the Pirates two years ago for waving in too many runners who were tagged out at home. No, not Dale Sveum: I'm talking about John Russell. Wait....who the fuck is John Russell?

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From time to time, Walkoff Walk will pick through the insects off the back of some of the gorillas of the baseball blogosphere, chew them up and spit them out. In other words, we will look at a baseball blog and review it. Today, I choose Squawking Baseball. It's written by MLB front office vets and self-confessed Wall Street junkies; with categories such as "market inefficiencies" and "player valuation", we're stepping deep into the realm of Moneyball. Joe Morgan is already cowering in terror, naked in the corner of his rumpus room. Follow me after the jump...

Stupid Liberal Rotator Cuffs...

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DonTownshend1.jpgShort takes from around MLB...

  • Apparently the Red Sox have tried to void Curt Schilling's contract. The 1 year deal, signed this offseason, is due to pay him $8 Million. The doc wants him to get shoulder surgery, the Sox don't want him to. At least I think that's what it is. If I read too much about Schilling my eyes glaze over and my face smashes into my desk.  Anyway, this makes his claims of taking a hometown discount seem a little suspect. I think Grand Old Pudgy wasn't looking forward to a grueling physical from a new team. Anyway, it's just good business sense by the Sox. Look how Warner Bros. got stuck holding the bag when Heath Ledger wouldn't have medicine cabinet removal during the filming of The Dark Knight.

  • Derek Jeter settled an IRS inquiry into a bunch of back income tax he owed the State Of New York. Since Florida has no state income tax he was trying to claim his home in Tampa as his primary residence... even though every gap-boxed R&B singer and cashmere turtleneck delivery man in the tri-state area knows he's living mostly in Manhattan since '01. It will probably just be a wash for the IRS once they pay the Steinbrenner family back all the income tax they'd been taking from George while he claimed to be living for the past 6 years.
  • Good news and UghWhateverWe'reTheOrioles news for Baltimore. The good news: Lots of people saying they got good value from Seattle for Bedard. CF Adam Jones has more tools than a Prep School. The Ugh news: Daniel Cabrera got a $2.9 million extension. The guy has a career 1.55 WHIP, so the extension works out to about $75 a baserunner. But I guess he throws hard, and there's always a premium for righties with ERAs over five and a half.
  • Clemens went in front of Congress and at this point I couldn't give less of a fuck about anyone on either side of the microphone (except Obama... SQUEEEEEE!) I used to like Roger and I used to like some politicians. Then I turned 16 and everything went to hell. You wont hear another word from me about Clemens for the rest of the year unless he kidnaps a beauty queen or puts out a groundbreaking indie record or something.
  • Don Mattingly is having trouble with his crazy ass wife, Mr. Perfect. The tumult made him leave his hitting instructor gig with the Dodgers. The job went to Mike Easler. The Hit Man was a an underrated slugger in his day, but my spies tell me he got the job for his agility in avoiding snapping tendons and a willingness to play bocce at hour all hours of the night.
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Major League Baseball's online arm produced an interesting fluff piece last month as part of their "20 Questions in 20 Days" countdown to spring training: Which Japanese talent will shine in '08? Well, MLB.com, I have no fucking idea and I don't think you do either. Overseas talent has been difficult to cubbyhole, players encounter a significant culture shock, and worst of all, the starting pitchers have severe difficulties adjusting to white folks with HGH.

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Derek Jacques is one of the few baseball writers I follow with any level of fervor and he's currently luxuriating in the warm weather of the Dominican Republic. I know this because I read Derek's personal blog; otherwise, I'd have missed his pieces at Baseball Prospectus. In a moment of cost-saving and penny-pinching delusion this past October, I canceled my subscription to Baseball Prospectus. "Who needs to read about baseball in the offseason? Nothing happens anyway." I was fucking wrong. Derek is in the second largest city in the Dominican taking in the 2008 Caribbean Series.

bar+fight.bmp.jpgToo dumb to come up with your own arguments and take sides in a bar argument? Let WoW's Tavern Talking Points do it for you.

    With the Johan Santana Tantric Trade Talks finally having reached orgasm all over Shea Stadium, the Mets are frontrunners in the NL East.

Santana is the only player that could have instantly changed the conversation for this team. By the time the 'Mazins took their middle and index fingers from their throats and finished forcibly throwing up the division championship last fall, "Moving On" was empty empty empty talk. Give Omar Minaya credit for going out and bolstering the psyche of this team going into Spring Training and April. If the injury bug sets in and it turns out they gave away too much game ready talent, this will be an easier move to criticize, but wait till that happens.
    
    Anyone who still picks the Phils to win the division is most likely tripping their fucking balls off. Their offseason retooling is built on a rock solid foundation of a Brad Lidge renaissance at closer. Let me know how that works out. We're not saying the Mets have it locked up, but you're batshit if they're not your preseason pick.

    The two most notable groups of meatheads that didn't get to rape the Twins reside in Boston and the Bronx (the favored meatheads of this here weblog). Chatter out of those two spots has tended towards "Oh well, at least it's the Mets so they'll be sure to waste his talent." This is the second most retarded thing I've heard all week, and that's only because I watched The State Of The Union. The same thing was said about both Pedro and Schilling when they landed in Boston. A team's history has no impact on its present, once they turn the corner with enough talent. With Santana, the most recent and by far the most important of the 771 Hispanic players* Minaya has acquired in the past 36 months, the Mets could be doing just that.


*that's a shitload of Hispanics.