March 2008 Archives

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Sorry, fans of the Pirates, Astros, Nationals, and Braves. We just ran out of space on our blog today to post your lineups. Actually, I retract the apology to the Braves and Nats; y'all played last night! Click here if you want to see all the lineup posts that CTC posted today. He did yeoman's work while I was sitting in the rain. One last lineup, via the box score on MLB.com. I give you the Angels of California:

3B - Chone Figgins
DH - Gary Matthews
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
LF - Garret Anderson
CF - Torii Hunter
1B - Casey Kotchman
2B - Howie Kendrick
C - Mike Napoli
SS - Cesar Izturis

The Angels have enough outfielders in that lineup to fill...well...two outfields. Why did they sign Torii Hunter one year after throwing $50 million at Gary Matthews? I'm perplexed. Jered Weaver gets the nod at starting pitcher because of the injury to John Lackey; I like Weaver...he's good enough to be a #1 guy anyway.

Insert Joe Torre Joke Here

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I stole the Dodgers lineup from MLB.com so I won't even bother mentioning the mouthpiece who wrote it.

Rafael Furcal - SS
Andre Ethier - LF
Matt Kemp - RF
Jeff Kent - 2B
Andruw Jones - CF
Russell Martin - C
James Loney - 1B
Blake DeWitt - 3B
Brad Penny - P

I don't know who Blake DeWitt is but I'm sure Torre would rather be penciling Nomar Garciaparra or Andy La Roche in that slot. In better news for Dodgers fans: Juan Pierre is not in your Opening Day lineup. Andre Ethier won the left field job. Good job, Joe! You made the right decision! We miss you!

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Okay, it's not Nolan Ryan, but instead old codger T.R. Sullivan who presents the Texas Rangers Opening Day lineup:

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Hank Blalock
DH Milton Bradley
LF David Murphy
RF Marlon Byrd
C Gerald Laird
1B Ben Broussard

SP Kevin Millwood

Milton Bradley is crazy enough to make some noise in the heart of that lineup with Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock...they'll either be hitting home runs or striking out a ton. Today? I'm going to guess striking out a ton, as they face new Seattle Mariners ace Erik Bedard.

Oh this game is underway already? Good for them.

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Twins blogger Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press provides us with Minnesota's Opening Day lineup. Hey, is Kelsie a lady's name or a man's name?

1. Carlos Gomez, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Craig Monroe, DH
7. Mike Lamb, 3B
8. Brendan Harris, 2B
9. Adam Everett, SS

Livan Hernandez, SP

I have nothing to add to this lineup, except quotes from Fargo:

"Oh for Pete's sake, he's fleeing the interview! He's fleeing the interview!"

"You know, it's proven that second-hand smoke is, uh, carcin-... uh, you know, cancer related."

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I just got back from the Yankees Opening Day festivities that were rained out and boy, are my arms tired. Looks like it's raining everywhere across the country, which is God's way of telling us not to play baseball until April. It's even raining in St. Louis, says Denver Post blogger Troy Renck. Troy, what about the Rockies' lineup against the Cardinals?

1. CF Willy Taveras
2. SS Troy Tulowitzki
3. 1B Todd Helton
4. LF Matt Holliday
5. 3B Garrett Atkins
6. RF Brad Hawpe
7. C Yorvit Torrealba
8. 2B Jayson Nix
9. LHP Jeff Francis

Hey, that's quite a spread. Here's hoping the rain lets up so you kids can have yourselves a game. Unlike the Yankees, who are forcing me to drag my sorry ass back to the Bronx tomorrow night.

We Forgot The Cubs

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cubs clock.jpgAs shrill and masochistic commenter Grunter pointed out... we forgot the Cubs lineup! I guess that picture of Dusty in a Cubbie uniform really did mess me up. Anyway they're in the 4th against Milwaukee... but the game is deeeeeeeeeeeelayed.

R Theriot SS
A Soriano LF
D Lee 1B
A Ramirez 3B
K Fukudome RF
M DeRosa 2B
G Soto C
F Pie CF
C Zambrano P

I don't give a shit about Grunter, but I just hope John Cusack isn't mad at me. He's dreamy.

Mets Vs. Marlins: There Will Be Spanish

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Florida-montage.jpgAt 4:10, the Mets and Marlins will go get em some of that sweet sexy Opening Day action. Johan Santana makes his Mets debut, but I think the real story here is the start of the Marlins quest to be the first baseball team to go 162-0.

New York:

J. Reyes ss
L. Castillo 2b
D. Wright 3b
C. Beltran cf
C. Delgado 1b
A. Pagan lf
R. Church rf
B. Schneider c
J. Santana p

Florida:

H. Ramirez ss
D. Uggla 2b
M. Jacobs 1b
J. Willingham lf
C. Ross cf
J. Cantu 3b
L. Gonzalez rf
M. Treanor c
M. Hendrickson p

I wish I was there, watching the game and eating an Arepa. Why the hell didn't we get Darren to write these Opening Day posts. What do we pay him for anyway? Oh wait, we don't.

Continued updates from Country Joe West: Conine threw out the first pitch... Mets lineup got louder reception... Billy the Marlin is a douche, and Marlins fans are less threatening than Jesus...Johan threw 8 pitches including a K... Uggla still hits like Rob Deer...

Holy Crap I Am Writing A Lot & White Sox Vs. Indians

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si_indians1.jpgA couple of things. First off, stuff we did just a couple hours ago is getting pushed off the front page. Click the "archives" or "monthly archive" buttons or click the "lineups" tag to find it, if you just got here. This is still your prediction thread.

Secondly, reader Country Joe West, sends in the following dispatch via text from Dolphins stadium for the Mets/Marlins game:

"Drinking w/ Jersey transplant Met fans... everything reeks of churros... 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough' is playing on PA"

That sounds approximately 25,000x better than any of the dispatches I've gotten from northern stadiums thus far today. Northern stadiums like newly monikered Progressive Field where the Indians are hosting the White Sox. The lineups:

Chicago

N Swisher LF
O Cabrera SS
J Thome DH
P Konerko 1B
J Dye RF
A Ramirez CF
A Pierzynski C
J Crede 3B
J Uribe 2B

Cleveland:

G Sizemore CF
J Michaels LF
T Hafner DH
V Martinez C
J Peralta SS
R Garko 1B
A Cabrera 2B
F Gutierrez RF
C Blake 3B

Buerlhe takes on Sabathia in one of the best pitching matchups of the day, and Ozzie Guillen starts the season on a piping hot bench. I'd watch this one if I wasn't in the office pretending to work.
oriole.jpegThe Orioles/Rays are due to kick off in about 15 minutes, although, Surprise! The weather is shitty. The team kind of is too.

Brian Roberts - 2B
Melvin Mora - 3B
Nick Markakis - RF
Kevin Millar - 1B
Aubrey Huff - DH
Ramon Hernandez - C
Luke Scott - LF
Adam Jones - CF
Luis Hernandez - SS

It's Jeremy Guthrie on the hill against James Shields. I like Guthrie. I like Lowen. I like Adam Jones. Otherwise, I just feel for you, O's fans.

D'backs Vs. Reds: Also Postponed For Wetness.

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noahs_ark_rainbow.jpgThere is a theme today. It's raining in Cincinnati. Start of the game is delayed until it lets up. When it does, here's the D'Backs lineup:

C. Young cf
O. Hudson 2b
E. Byrnes lf
C. Jackson 1b
C. Snyder c
M. Reynolds 3b
S. Drew ss
J. Upton rf
B. Webb p

Man, where is Rick Dempsey today? I used to love his slippin and slidin rain delay antics. No one does that anymore. AND there's not even any good YouTube of it. Just those moron fans from the Braves game that did it themselves. That shit was kind of weak. Someone find me good rain delay blooper videos. Kthxbai.
phils.gifPhillies beat writer Todd Zolecki has the Phillies lineup posted. It goes a little something like this. Counting off with drumsticks... 1-2-3-4!

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Pedro Feliz, 3B
7. Jayson Werth, RF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Brett Myers, P

1-4 is one of the best in the majors. Hands down. It's the rest of the team that could pose problems. That and the spelling of Jayson Werth's name. It's annoying. When this game starts, DMac over at Philly Will Do will have the liveblog for it.

In other news, Rob just sent a text saying it's so cold at Yankee Stadium that he went to a urinal and couldn't find his dick and the crowd is extremely agitated.Also they announced "After speaking to weather authorities, the forecast is not as promising as we thought. We are evaluating our options."

This roughly translates to: "Buy beer and food for a couple more hours, then we'll cancel the game."

UPDATE: Game postponed until tomorrow evening. Iracane to spend rest of evening drying out his perm.
dusty.jpgMy buddy John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer gives us Dusty Baker's Opening Day lineup for his new team, the Cincinnati Reds:

Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javier Valentin C
Aaron Harang P

Okay, so I have to give Dusty credit for including young talent like Keppinger, Phillips, and Encarnacion, but really, did he have a choice? No. He had a choice in center field and he chose the washed-up Patterson to lead off. Yes, Corey had a .316 OBP last season. This is a sham; Marge Schott is spinning in her grave right now.

Kansas City vs. Detroit

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guillen.jpgOver the weekend, Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen were both cleared to play for now, until their 15 game drug suspensions have been reviewed. Guillen is in there at cleanup. The entire Royals lineup goes:

D. DeJesus CF
M. Grudzielanek 2B
A. Gordon 3B
J. Guillen RF
B. Butler DH
M. Teahen LF
R. Gload 1B
J. Buck C
T. Pena Jr. SS

Detroit counters with:

E. Renteria SS
P. Polanco 2B
G. Sheffield DH
M. Ordonez RF
M. Cabrera 3B
C. Guillen 1B
I. Rodriguez C
J. Jones LF
B. Inge CF

On the hill, it's Meche vs. Verlander. Consider this thread open for all you Royals nuts out there. I'm eager to see these Tigers hit, though their bullpen trouble has me considerably cooled on their overall chances.

Let The Games Begin... As Soon As This Rain Stops

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george jersey.pngThe Yankees are about to open up the final season at Yankee Stadium against the Tampa Rays. Mark Feinsand at the Daily News has the lineup, and is about to begin a liveblog. Use it to augment your gamecast for riveting flash action!

Wait, what's that? Rain delay, and according to a text message from Iracane they are playing all kinds of songs about rain at the stadium. Including "Umbrella" by Rhianna. Hopefully they've got the video on the Jumbotron too. She is hot like fire. Anyway, the Yankees lineup:

Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, C
Hideki Matsui, DH
Melky Cabrera, CF

That's a lot of bat. Especially when you think that they scored nearly 1000 last year and Abreu is do for a bounceback year. Enjoy the game, when it starts.
brewers_mb.gifTom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides us with the Brewers Opening Day lineup:

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
1B Prince Fielder
LF Ryan Braun
3B Bill Hall
RF Corey Hart
SS J.J. Hardy
RHP Ben Sheets
C Jason Kendall

Tony Gwynn Jr. is young and has a famous name but he's not very good. Mike Cameron is actually the Brewers everyday center fielder but he's suspended to start the season because of his stimulant-related oopsie. Mike, you're a great defensive center fielder and we know you had that little collision problem, but just stick to Red Bull like the Red Sox did in Japan for all your stimulating needs.

Mariners Lineup More Yuniesky Than Pesky

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mariners.gifSeattle Times columnist, and huge homer, Geoff Baker has the Mariners lineup for their 6:40 tilt against the Rangers.

CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Brad Wilkerson
DH Jose Vidro
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt

Meh. Underwhelming. I understand the Angels have had some injuries, but are Bedard, Hernandez and Putz really good enough to make this team the favorite?

Tim Salmon > salmon.
cards.jpgThanks to Derrick Goold of the St Louis Post Dispatch for providing the Opening Day lineup for the St Louis Cardinals:

Skip Schumaker, LF
Ryan Ludwick, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Troy Glaus, 3B
Rick Ankiel, CF
Yadier Molina, C
Cesar Izturis, SS
Adam Wainwright, RHP
Aaron Miles, 2B

Yes, that is Aaron Miles batting ninth, which implements La Russa's strategy of having "two" leadoff batters in the lineup. Moving the pitcher up to the eighth position will provide more protection for leadoff batter and rookie sensation Skip Schumaker, who had a great spring.
San_diego_padres_logo.jpgThe hosers at MLB.com give us the Padres' Opening Day lineup:

Brian Giles - RF
Tad Iguchi - 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B
Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
Scott Hairston - CF
Khalil Greene - SS
Josh Bard - C
Paul McAnulty - LF
Jake Peavy - P

Hairston will be the regular left fielder once Jim Edmonds gets healthy, but perhaps this Paul McAnulty kid will make a splash. Iguichi, Kouzmanoff and Gonzalez is an excellent name for a law firm.

Wheeee!

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happy_kid_203_203x152.jpgSo as you can probably tell, we're trying to report on every opening day lineup we can get our hands on. I also have a couple of moles at different games across the country today. I'll be relaying their impressions to you. Stick with WoW for all* of your Opening Day needs! In case it gets pushed off the page, here's the post where you post your various and sundry predictions

Also, President Bush will not be joining me in the booth later today.
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*some
rays.JPGMark Topkin sends along the Rays lineup:

Akinori Iwamura, 2b
Carl Crawford, lf
Carlos Pena, 1b
B.J. Upton, cf
Cliff Floyd, dh
Willy Aybar, 3b
Eric Hinske, rf
Dioner Navarro, c
Jason Bartlett, ss

It's an Eric Hinske sighting! Hinske gets the start for his 3rd AL East squad. The lineup is pretty impressive, even if I still don't believe the hype. But hey, Carlos Pena at the 3 spot? That's a mighty big job for the Comeback Player Of The Year.
sfgiants.jpgJohn Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle gives us a peek at the Giants' Opening Day lineup: Dave Roberts - LF
Rich Aurilia - 1B
Randy Winn - RF
Bengie Molina - C
Ray Durham - 2B
Aaron Rowand - CF
Jose Castillo - 3B
Brian Bocock - SS
Barry Zito - P

So the Giants have gone from the greatest hitter of our generation frightening pitchers in the third or fourth slot of the lineup for years to....Bengie Molina batting cleanup. This is a shame, but hey! They've got Bocock!

Coming To America: Blue Jays Lineup In New York

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lineup.jpgBlue Jays reporter and psychedelic wordsmith, Cathal Kelly links us up to the Toronto lineup for their game against the Yankees at 1:05:

1 - David Eckstein
2 - Matt Stairs
3 - Alex Rios
4 - Vernon Wells
5 - Frank Thomas
6 - Lyle Overbay
7 - Aaron Hill
8 - Marco Scutaro
9 - Gregg Zaun

Look at all that grit! I hope border agents don't hold them up when they see Vernon Wells passport says he's 29. If they're Blue Jays fans they'll think it's forged since last year he looked 40.

Hooray for Opening Day!

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The real live baseball season is finally upon us because today is OPENING DAY! Today is the day we can pretend that those Red Sox - A's games in Japan never happened. Today is the day we can pretend that Ryan Zimmerman didn't really hit a walkoff home run last night to lead the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves in the inaugural game at Nationals Park. Today is the day we can pretend that Pres-o-dent Bush didn't get heartily and lustily booed before, during, and after throwing out the inaugural pitch. Today is the day we can pretend all those preseason games didn't happen, especially when everybody leaves way before the seventh inning stretch. Yeah, we can even pretend that all the loud obnoxious blathering idiots surrounding our national pastime never really existed.

Why do we let ourselves live in such a world of make-believe? Because on Opening Day, every team and every player and every stadium urinal start out fresh. Anything can happen, even in the urinals. Every team's fans have hope today, well, except the Orioles fans. Sorry.

I'm lucky enough to be going to see the Yankees and the Blue Jays kick off the AL East season today; all the stars will be there: Lyle Overbay! Marco Scutaro! Buck Coats! My associate Camp Tiger Claw (who did an amazing job on Friday by the by) will take you through the rest of the day. I leave you with my 2008 season predictions:

  • Sleeper team (AL): Watch out for the Royals. Really.
  • Sleeper team (NL): The Cardinals will surprise you. Ferreals.
  • World Series loser: Those Diamondbacks are all growed up now.
  • World Series winner: The Yankees, because I am a total homer.
  • Most disappointing: The Mets won't win 90 games, regardless of what I said earlier. Mark it down.

Dear commenters, what are your team-related predictions?

Home Run Derby: Mantle Vs. Mays- 1959

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ESPN played repeats of this show in the late 80s and early 90s. It was one of my very favorites when I was a kid, and just recently I found the DVDs and got them for my dad. Exceptional stuff. Here it's The Say Hey Kid against The Mick with host Mark Scott. I always loved the interactions between Scott and the players.

Part One


Part Two


Have a good weekend, everybody. I'll be back with you on Monday, but Rob is going to be at Yankee Stadium for opening day. His boys take on Toronto for the opener at 1:05.

Get some rest. When you wake up Monday morning baseball will be here.
cubs clock.jpgCubs owner Sam Zell is in talks to sell the Cubs to a state run agency, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. One of the most interesting parts of the proposal is that if the deal gets done, the ISFA says Wrigley needs extensive renovations to keep the Cubs, possibly displacing the Cubs for a season, like their crosstown ursine compadres were. In fact they'd probably play the games at US Cellular Field, home of the White Sox. While some may think of this distraction as bad for the team, coumnist Steve Rosenbloom thinks it's the Cubs best shot at a title.

Because I'll tell you what, if the Cubs play mostly night games on the South Side, that will be the reason they win the World Series that season. Baseball players are used to night games and it takes even smart players a long time to adjust to Wrigley's alarm clock. But if you give a good Cubs team a schedule that baseball's body clocks are used to, they'd have to be a favorite, especially in a season like this, where the NL East and West are strong and the Central is weak.

So, think about that: Cubs fans would celebrate the end of the longest championship drought in sports history in the park of their dreaded city rival instead of their outdoor beer garden, so how happy would they actually be? Talk about the ultimate example of being so Cub. And Sox fans will say that the only reason the Cubs won was because they played in a real baseball stadium, but really, how much solace could a South Sider get in knowing that the franchise that sells sunshine will hoist the most recent World Series banner?

Totally, dude. But why wait till then? I have a perfect idea. Instead of wasting time in huge 8 hour chunks, The Cubs should just sleep for 20 minutes of every hour! They'd be like supermen with all they could accomplish.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGWelcome to the final Spring Training Creampuff. If these fragile porcelain mice don't heal up their owwies before the end of the weekend they'll be missing some honest to goodness gametime. So say your prayers and eat your vitamins, you Marys. It's time to go out and work for a living.

Scott Rolen, Blue Jays: After taking a ball off his finger a couple weeks ago, Dr. Self-Destructo intitially looked like he'd be out ten days or so. That's been debunked and now Rolen could be looking at 4-6 weeks on the shelf.

JD Drew, Red Sox: Drew experienced some tightness in his back in Japan. Last season Drew managed to avoid most of the health problems that have plagued him, but word on the street is that his and Josh Beckett's back pain are sexually transmitted. Wrap it up, guys. Drew hopes to be back for Tuesday's game against Oakland.

Jerry Owens, White Sox: Ok... start snapping your fingers with a little swing to it. Then sing it with me like you're an upbeat backup soul singer... "Jerry Owens has a tear in his groin!" It's a painful thing but for some reason the syntax of that sentence makes it kind of funky. He's starting the season on the DL, and if Joe Crede contiues to be an injury magnet after the demotion of Josh Fields... well let's just say things could go south for Ozzie real fast.

Jeremy Hermida, Marlins: Don't try and sing "Hermida pulled a hamstring." It will just make out sound like you're in They Might Be Giants. The move is retroactive so he will miss only a handful of games.

Kelvim Escobar, Angels: In really bad news, Escobar looks to miss the entire season with a labrum tear. You have to hope that's the worst of it. Labrum tears can end careers and Escobar's just now peaking.

Kris Benson, Phillies: Tendinitis in his right bicep has hampered his return from shoulder surgery. He's in the minors where experts say he will soon break his fingers, sprain his wrist, strain his forearm and blowout his elbow.

Wall Street Journal: Bear Stearns > Joe Torre

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torre.jpgIn today's Wall Street Journal, Darren Everson tackles the eternal question, "Is Joe Torre worth the money?" When it comes down to brass tacks, $13 million over 3 years is a bit much for any manager, especially one with a such a dubious rep among baseball's ever increasing brotherhood of statheads. But I'd bet a lot of the lunkheads reading their WSJ over a steaming hot cup of homeowner blood are "results guys" and need these numbers broken down for them.

In close games, in which a manager's decisions in baserunning, pitching and substitutions tend to make the most difference, Mr. Torre's teams have struggled in recent years. Over the past three seasons, his record in games tied after the sixth inning is 23-31 -- a .426 winning percentage, compared with .588 in all games. Several of his peers, including Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins and Willie Randolph of the New York Mets, have performed better in close games.

There's also some evidence that Mr. Torre negatively impacts the performance of his players. Last fall, David Gassko, a former major-league consultant and a contributor to the Hardball Times Web site, did a study of major-league managers through 2006, determining how many additional games a manager won or lost for his team per season. Of the 422 managers he studied, Mr. Torre's score was the sixth-worst.

Everson hedges some of his bets (I believe the financial term for this is 'hedging your bets) by pulling out the intangibles card (I beieve the financial term for this is 'bullshit'), and in the process completely disgusts me by inserting the following quote into an article about Joe Torre.

"There's something in jelly that makes it jelly," says Mr. (Bill) James, senior baseball-operations adviser with the Boston Red Sox. "Without that, it's runny grape juice with a lot of sugar in it. That's what the manager is. He's not the thing you taste, not the thing you're really trying to get to; he's the thing that holds it together."

You're goddamned right Joe Torre isn't the thing I taste. If you need me I'll be pouring bleach in my ear trying to erase that quote from my memory.

Do I think he's worth the money? The simple answer is no, if want the most wins for your money. But in a town like LA where a big name goes a long away, I think the answer is, 'meh... maybe.'

The Wil Cordero Memorial Linkpunch, Thursday, March 27th

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linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Who were the best players with sub-Mendoza career averages? The Baseball Analysts

  • Charlie Manuel's encounter with a whirlpool full of nude Geishas. The 700 Level

  • A look back at Sam Mellinger's spring with the Royals. Ball Star

  • Fastest pitchers to 100 wins often struggle down the road. Joe Posnanski
That's it for today, kiddos. We'll be back tomorrow with all your Funny Friday Favorites. Enjoy the basketballs this evening.

Leansies, Farthies & Dustys

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cardpack.jpgUsually I'm loathe to write about anything I find on MLB.com. The whole thing is just a press release clearing house. I'm not even sure why they run the stories with a byline. Of course this cynicism is something I've honed over the years, it isn't really inborn. As such, it makes sense that I'm lifting my embargo to write about an article on Saturday being... FREE BASEBALL CARD DAY! KICKASS!

To celebrate, fans can sign in at mlb.com/cards and receive a free pack of baseball cards. Each pack will contain five base cards from Topps, five base cards from Upper Deck, one chase card from Topps, one chase card from Upper Deck, and one informational card.

Participating hobby stores will also hand out free packs on National Baseball Card Day, as will stadiums that are hosting some of the final exhibition games before the regular season gets under way.

I don't collect baseball cards anymore but you can be sure if I'm out and about on Saturday I'm picking up my free pack, Duder. The photo caption says something about Pat Neshek being a card collector or something which makes sense because he seems like a dork.

So you got me and Pat Neshek going to pick up our free cards this weekend. Anyone else? Oh yeah, Dusty Baker! According to Iracane's boyfriend, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Baker keeps a handle on his pitching staff by reading the back of their baseball cards.

When Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked before Tuesday's game how much weight he gives to a pitcher's "most recent outing" when it comes to making the team, he turned the question on its head and talked about the hitters.

"(Looking at) 'most recent outing' would make you a frontrunner," Baker said. "And I ain't no frontrunner. I don't look at 'most recent outing.' If that that was the case, half the guys wouldn't (make) the team. If that was the case, (Edwin) Encarnacion wouldn't even be on the team.

"I look at the baseball card; I look at what I think he might do; I know what he is doing. It's a combination of things."

Between starts, Dusty likes his players to do the workout from the Grape Nuts package and eat meals entirely composed of little Ritz cracker sandwiches from the back of the box.

The Glory And Wonder Of The Blue Jays Blog

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bluejayguys.jpgSo yesterday I laid out some vague ground rules for what I thought a newspaper blog should and should not be. Before those really sink in, let me make one huge exception. The Blue Jays Blog from the Toronto Star. Lord fuck a duck, I love these guys. You may remember last week, I shared their Fear And Loathingesque chronicles of Alex Rios' RC helicopter. Well my friends, that was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their radditude. To wit, their twisty turns of phrase led some people to believe that a prominent member of the Canadian Press had died, when he had not.

"Shi Davidi is not dead. If the emails and comments are anything to go by, I may have given people the wrong impression when I noted recently that CP's estimable baseball beat writer is 'no longer with us'. I meant that in the literal sense, as in 'not in Florida'. Not as in 'has shuffled off this mortal coil'.

Shi himself messaged me. I'm sure his family was getting worried. I told him that my (virtual) powers are limitless and that the Star's travel budget does include a provision for witch doctors and raisings from the dead, not to be confused with the water cure.

So Shi is alive and well, though still labouring under the misapprehension (along with MLB.com's Jordan Bastian and the FAN590's Mike Wilner) that a constant Tampa diet of P.F. Chang's will not eventually kill him. They continue to insist to me that a nightly partaking of disstilled spirits will do likewise. We agree to disagree."

That's from Cathal Kelly. He is but one head of the four headed literary beast that is following this middle of the road Toronto squad. For your viewing pleasure, all four heads are prominently displayed along the right margin of their page, and accompanying this post. RAWR. I've had some fun making my own captions, but how could I even top the one that actually accompanies Mark Zwolinski?

"A Toronto native, he's also a big fan of drag racing and muscle cars, but that's another story."

I fucking bet it is. I want that rogue, Cathal Kelly, to recount it to me.

But ferreals, these guys have 58 years of combined experience writing about the Blue Jays and a style that veers toward the surreal. In a recent mail bag, Richard Griffin said that AJ Burnett, "seems to be trying to fit in more as a regular human being." I cannot recommend them highly enough.
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Welp, we received a total of thirty-one entries in the First Annual Prophecy of Mediocrity contest; adding in our two sets of picks brings the sum to 33 contestants for this challenge. Yes, we are having a contest to predict the six teams that will finish in third place, because winning a division is boring.

Are you interested in entering? Tough shit, it's too late. If you DID enter and forgot to submit a tiebreaker, it's not too late for that. Just email Darren. Speaking of which, our intern Darren tabulated the results, created a spreadsheet, and ran the numbers so let's see who picked whom:

  • The most popular teams were the Blue Jays (23 votes), Rangers (21), White Sox (18), Braves (18), Phillies (14), Rockies (14), and Reds (13). Of these teams, I'd be least surprised to see the Braves break the mold and finish higher than third.

  • The least popular teams were the Yankees, Orioles, Indians, Angels, Mets, and Nationals, all receiving zero votes, probably because these teams are expected to finish either first or last. Of these teams, I would be least surprised to see the Mets finish third.

  • One dummy picked the Red Sox (me) and one awesome entrant picked the Giants (someone whose strategy was picking all of last year's last place teams).

  • The most wide open division in baseball according to our readers is the NL Central. The votes went thusly: Reds (13), Brewers (5), Astros (5), Cardinals (5), Cubs (3), and Pirates (2). My vote was for the Pirates, but I am now more inclined to see the Cards shock and awe with a third-place finish.

  • The least wide open division is the AL East. Votes: Blue Jays (23), Rays (9), Red Sox (1), Yankees (0), Orioles (0).

  • The only two entrants who submitted the same six teams were Matt_T and GHABB,Y; no surprise that Braves fan Matt_T chose the Phillies. They have different tiebreakers

  • The average tiebreaker guess (average number of wins for all third place teams) was 72.75, only because three people didn't submit a guess and I marked them down for zero. Removing these lollygaggers gives us 80.03. Most people picked 82, because it is a nice round number.

Well, that's it for now. We'll revisit this again at midseason and see who is in the lead, aka the person most likely to win a Walkoff Walk t-shirt.

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Hey Orioles fans! Yeah, all one of you. I have good news! Looks like Andy MacPhail isn't going to trade Brian Roberts after all. Instead of losing 100 games, the Orioles will now only lose 95! Congratulations, Peter Angelos. This is the second greatest accomplishment of your career, right after all those enormous mesothelioma settlements.

The Cubs had been interested and offered a nice package of prospects. Chicago could desperately use a real leadoff-type guy and Roberts fits that mold. They just signed Blue Jay detritus Reed Johnson but if they pencil him and his .300 OBP in the #1 slot, I will personally punch Lou Piniella in the throat. I have a blog so I am an expert: the Cubs should bat Kosuke Fukudome leadoff. He's fast, he has a good eye, he walks a ton, and he can hit. Well, he could do all those things in Japan. Nobody knows how that will translate, just like nobody knows how to translate "dirty water vienna beef hot dog with neon green relish" into Japanese.

So what's the holdup on this trade anyway, Andy?

"We continue to talk," he said. "I think with each passing hour at this point, it's less and less likely. I just think it's less likely the further we get this close into it, the greater likelihood that we're going to start with what we have."

Translation: throw in another pitching prospect and you've got yourself a deal, Zell.

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The venerable publication Sports Illustrated has made its picks for the 2008 baseball season, and I am going to take this opportunity to point and laugh.

Hmmm, the Reds finishing second? I guess they're believers of the ol' Dusty bounce. I believe in the Dusty bounce, too except it involves pitchers' arms falling off and bouncing off the mound.

Uhh, the Mariners finishing second? Geoff Baker's readers would disagree.

Other than those two, I think they've done a pretty good job ranking the teams. I haven't had a chance to read all the previews, mostly because my eyeballs are about to pop out of my head. I assume, however, that they will make several other predictions that will eventually prove to be entirely off-base. Ha! A baseball pun!

Here are the division winners and playoff participants that I copied and pasted from the Brewers blog guy:

NL Central: Cubs
NL East: Mets
NL West: Rockies
Wild Card: Diamondbacks

AL Central: Tigers
AL East: Yankees
AL West: Angels
Wild Card: Red Sox

Playoffs:
NL: Cubs over Diamondbacks; Rockies over Mets
AL: Tigers over Red Sox; Yankees over Angels

Pennant:
NL: Cubs over Rockies
AL: TIgers over Yankees

World Series: Tigers over Cubs

That actually looks perfectly fine to me, actually, except that this means the Tigers will certainly not win the World Series. They got the vote of confidence curse, which is almost as bad as the cover curse. Speaking of which, I believe the cover of the baseball preview issue will feature Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Upton, so watch out kids.

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Live from Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida, it's your final Grapefruit League Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog, featuring the Houston Astros hosting the Cleveland Indians. Earlier today, the Oakland A's defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-1 in Tokyo, Japan as oft-injured Rich Harden decided to not be injured today and pitched six solid innings to lead his team. Also, Emil Brown hit a home run.

But this afternoon, it's Roy Oswalt versus C.C. Sabathia, so you know these teams aren't effing around. It's the Astros' final spring game in Florida and the Indians' second to last, so let's send them off with a terribly prepared liveglog, after the ol' jump:

Some Newspaper Blogs No Longer Utterly Useless

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babytype.jpgThe tabloids in New York are known for three things: Barely concealed bias, inane punny headlines, and top of the line sports coverage. If you're looking for sports info in Gotham, you'll find all you need in The Daily News or The Post. HOWEVA, in the interest of bringing you the very finest in breaking baseball coverage, here at WoW we subscribe to just about every newspaper blog out there. The New York Times runs a joint Mets/Yanks column called "Bats" and despite it's unfortunate name, the coverage is decent, especially since the Times is decidedly not known for its sports coverage.

Well on Monday, Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner made his 2008 AL predictions, and made the mistake of picking the Yankees to miss the playoffs entirely. He has them second in the East, with the Angles securing the Wild Card berth. It didn't take long for some NYT readers to put down their sparkling cider and cry foul. Some excerpts:

So, the Yanks won't even make the playoffs, huh? Maybe *you* should be writing for the Globe, Kepner. If Hughes and Mussina don't start getting guys out, and Pettitte's back aches for a while longer, you just might be right.

You ever notice how rarely you see writers look back at the end of the season to review the accuracy of their pre-season prognostications? Yeah, I think we know why. -- Posted by a.O

I had a great uncle who was an old time New Yorker. Always greeted me with "Have a cigar, boy." He was so old fasioned that he wore spats. His advice that he felt would guide me for the rest of my life was this: "Never bet against the Yankees, boy." -- Posted by JULIAN BARRY

Now I'm not saying there's a connection...but doesn't the New York Times Co. own a part of the Boston Red Sox? Yup, I think so. Interesting...

There hasn't been a Bronx-free playoffs in over a decade, and with Yankee Stadium in its last year and Stienbrenner Jrs in their first, I wouldn't be surprised to see them pull out all the stops come trading deadline this summer. -- Posted by Adam Peck


I wonder what Ken Tremendous has to say about the final year of a stadium's effect on team win shares. Not all of the comments were like this, more than half (a huge percentage for a newspaper blog) were very reasonable, but Kepner felt he had to categorically defend his picks in yesterday's blog. The column comes off as a strange mix of reasoned explanation and "but don't worry I think the Yankees are going to go 162-0 next year."

This scene stands in stark contrast to the one that played out on Geoff Baker's Mariners Blog from The Seattle Times. A couple weeks back after the Angels starting suffering the heavy losses in their rotation, Baker picked the Mariners to win the division. I didn't agree with him at the time, and apparently neither did the vociferous M's fans that got in touch with Baker to let him have it. In his column yesterday, Baker asked aloud, "Just what the hell is up you guys?"

Anyhow, some of you will be pleased with that result. Others, I'm not so sure. I'm now a full 18 months into my stint in Seattle and I'm having a hard time figuring out what drives M's fans. What got me thinking about this was a question from a media colleague last week. "So, what do you think of the fans in Seattle?'' he asked me. "Do they behave like fans in other cities?''

I wanted to tell him yes, but couldn't. That day, I'd already gotten a couple of the usual emails from M's fans chiding me for picking the team to win the division. Haven't stopped hearing about that one. Thing is, I wasn't hearing about it from fans of the A's, Angels or Rangers. I was getting blasted by M's fans. And I'm sorry, that just isn't standard practice in other cities.

Baker goes on to talk about how growing up Montreal, Habs fans were insane, both devotionally and critically, but he couldn't imagine them slamming a local reporter for picking them to win the division.

Even though these two instances fall on opposite ends of the reaction spectrum I think they both point to something positive. Newspapers are finally starting to understand what a blog is supposed to be. It's not having your beat writers pepper me with 20 two-line roster updates every day, and it isn't your columnist telling me about the game and what new records he's listening to. It's a fluid conversation of ideas about baseball between the writer and their readers. Newspapers have the access to make these conversations insightful and meaningful. Maybe once writers begin to make this transformation, they can stop worrying about us bloggers taking their jobs and make the blog part of what they do.
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The president of the Baseball hall of fame was forced to resign yesterday, due to "(a failure) to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility" in the best interests of the organization. Yes, Dale Petroskey was a terrible businessman; he probably traded away Babe Ruth's mitt and Ty Cobb's cap in exchange for POGs or something. I've never been to Cooperstown so maybe that was the reason Petroskey was let go: in his nine years of leadership, he failed to entice Rob Iracane to visit. Perhaps this is one reason why I stayed away, Dale:

The Hall of Fame president (Dale Petroskey) canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham" because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger," said Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under President Reagan.

That was 2003, of course, back when the war was totally cool and everyone dug it and the mission was totally accomplished. Today? Fuck you and your bully pulpit, Dale. That's a cowardly way to protect your buddies' interests, and we know you're friends with only the best folks.

Vice president Jeff Idelson takes over as president and you already know my problems with him.

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Sometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Phil Birnbaum offered a bet against anyone who believed that there was some statistical evidence to the idea that you can predict 'clutch hitting'. He didn't get much of a response, probably because anyone who actually believes in 'clutch hitting' doesn't actually understand statistics enough to know it doesn't exist: Sabermetric Research

  • Blue Jays blogger Stoeten actually liveblogged a sports talk radio show, and he actually kept score to see if the radio guy or the callers were being bigger idiots. I like this idea, except I would never listen to sports talk radio if you put a gun to my head: Drunk Jays Fans

  • Our buddy 'duk catches wind of Wayne Gretzky wearing a Royals uniform, in some sort of sick exchange for the time George Brett went to a Phoenix Coyotes game. This makes no sense to me. It's as if they both lost the bet. No, there are no pictures of this, so if anyone finds one, tell 'em: Big League Stew

  • Our old friend Kyle Blanks is rated as one of the top 100 prospects. Yeah, it's #93 but it's just an honor to be named: MLB Rumors

  • Reds beat reporter John Fay spots Danny Graves in a Twins uniform. Yes, Danny Graves is back, in Twins form! Also, that is the least flattering picture of any beat writer in the history of beat writing, John. Who thought it was a good idea to take a full-length body shot and have it on every one of your blog posts? Thank God I've been reading your work in my Google Reader and the picture does not show up. Because yeah, you shore do write purty, but the photo? Do not want: Reds Insider

That's it for today, kiddies. Tomorrow, there will be a liveglog but I'll be damned if I'm waking up at 6AM to follow actual real live regular season baseball.

Although this is a few days old I feel guilty not spreading the lolz. Last week, DCist posted this awesome video urging Nationals fans to take the Metro to this years game at Nationals Park.



I really enjoy the driving sequences.

Even though I am subjected to the evil and inept MBTA, I'm still a big public trans guy, and think it's a good idea in nearly all instances. However it seems an especially good idea for Nationals games, seeing as how the parking sitch has thus far been really kind of a nightmare. The Metro has lingering questions of its own but if you get stuck with them at least you'll be able to spend the time reading The Onion instead of having to listen to talk radio.

(We owe cokes to both DCist and reader Saldawg for pointing us to them.)
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Hey, remember in 2005 when Devil Rays infielder Jorge Cantu surprised everyone and hit all those home runs and had all those doubles? And then remember 2006 and 2007 when Cantu couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with the broad side of another barn and was subsequently traded to the Reds and then summarily released? Well, Cantu is back, this time with the Marlins, and he is tearin' up spring training thanks to an offseason program that involved underwater yoga:

"We have our own techniques," trainer Dennis Fay said of the Texas Sports Medicine facility in Houston. "We use water exercises, breathing-underwater drills, extreme yoga. We work on a player's bat speed with a series of chains. The chains are on a handle, and they swing the chains to build up their speed."

Oh, excuse me, I misspoke. It's underwater extreme yoga. What the heck does that mean anyway? The downward facing doggypaddle? Ba ha ha! (insert yoga/swimming comedy pyramid here)

Cantu is indeed hitting well this spring. He's got a .706 slugging percentage, what with eight of his 22 hits being doubles, and looks to become the Marlins starting third baseman now that Florida has cut Jose Castillo loose. Still, former Marlins third baseman and baseball's latest chubby tycoon Miguel Cabrera is a tough act to follow and 50 at-bats against all different grades of pitchers is no way to truly evaluate talent. Perhaps if the Marlins installed one of these in their training room, Cantu will continue to mash.

(We once again owe a Coke to Baseball Musings)

Red Sox Vs. A's Liveglog

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liveglog.jpg 6:08 AM: Whoa! Who set my alarm, Eric Gagne? At least I didn't miss first pitch.

6:10 AM: First pitch of 2008 is a strike from Joe Blanton to Pedroia.. second pitch hit between short and second. Pedroia gets on.

6:12: Youkilis hits a chopper to Hannahan at third, bobbled, gets the out at first. This A's Team is a really shitty one to blog about at 6AM since like 12 of them are making their major league debut. Ortiz flies out to Hannahan.

6:14: I hope "Manny is going to have a monster year" isn't the "Vampire Weekend is going to be huge" of the 2008 Red Sox season. Red Sox commentator Joe Orsillo just said it. Manny flies out. End of the Boston 1st.

Japan Opener Live Glog!

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liveglog.jpgI'm having a very hard time calling tomorrow "Opening Day" but regardless, there will be a game that actually counts in the standings, and WoW will be watching. The game starts at 6AM EST and I'll be taking my first ever crack at this liveblogging thing. At about 8:15 I'm going to hand the reins over to Rob so I can catch the train and get to work. It promises to be a unique experience and one I hope you all will check out hours after the fact, when you get to work at a reasonable hour and turn on the computer like normal people.

Okinawa Jujitsu! (See you at 6!)
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Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley has a serious drinking problem. No, not the Tony La Russa slash Mickey Mantle slash Bob Welch slash David Wells variety. Instead, Trembley has a hankering for a more Methodist-acceptable beverage:

Anybody who has ever played for Orioles manager Dave Trembley knows the perfect way to his heart - buy him his favorite diet soda. So when he arrived in the manager's office in the visiting clubhouse at Port St. Lucie earlier this spring, he was not surprised to see a bottle of his favorite diet beverage waiting for him, along with a nice note. It was a gift from New York Mets pitcher and former Oriole John Maine, whom Trembley managed at Double-A Bowie.

Sure, it's just soda, but be careful, Dave. Studies have found that the aspartame in certain diet sodas can cause brain damage in rats. Also, the caffeine makes them nervous and worry about the mortgage payments on their nests and why their daughters are running around with that unemployed red squirrel from the bad side of the glen. Other studies show that switching from regular soda to diet soda may actually lead to weight gain, presumably because the artificial sweeteners trigger something in your brain that gives you an unavoidable urge to ingest whole pies.

I guess Trembley shouldn't worry too much about all that; the O's are so awful he'll be switching to scotch on the rocks by mid-May. You would too if this guy was your Opening Day pitcher.

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

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sox.yanks.JPGLast year the Red Sox took the AL East lead on April 18, and never looked back. The Yankees mounted a late charge and got the division it's 9th wild card in 13 years. Of course this was all covered ad nauseum by the MSM, since they act like the Sox and Yankees are the only teams playing baseball. Here, we couldn't care less since Rob and I are followers of the Cleveland Spiders and Seattle Pilots, respectively. But in the interest of you, the reader, I'll tackle the division preview after the jump.

Playing in the AL East: The last recession proof occupation!
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Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals (and fans of True American Grit) were sad to see shortstop David Eckstein move across the border to the Blue Jays during the offseason. However would the team replace such a scrappy little feller? With absolute shit, of course! Yes, new Cardinals shortstop Cesar Izturis is having a Not Very Good Spring Training:

Izturis continued to perk up his pedestrian spring with a two-out RBI single and two runs scored Saturday in the Cardinals' exhibition victory against Minnesota. His average this spring is .174, and he has eight hits, one more than the seven errors in 16 games. For most of March, his total hits have been chasing his total errors, at one time falling two behind. The hits only recently caught up.

Hey, Izzy got another hit on Sunday and his average is all the way up to .184! But cripes, he's only one error shy of his entire 2007 total. In sixteen games. Pity the poor Cardinals; it's a shame they don't have anyone else halfway capable of playing the position. Oh wait, they do:

Contrast that with Brendan Ryan's offensive pep, his .366 on-base percentage and his thriving in the No. 9 -- as well as anyone, really -- and it would seem that the second-year infielder is making a push to foil the veteran Izturis' comeback as an everyday player.

Too bad La Russa is sticking with his guns and will most likely pencil Izturis into the Cardinals' opening day lineup. I realize that I am not a baseball 'scout' and I don't 'know a lot about baseball' and I might not ever 'watch Cardinals games during the regular season' and I certainly can't 'evaluate talent' but c'mon Tony, just because the team threw three million dollars at Izturis doesn't mean you actually have to play him. Yes, he was once an All-Star and once won a Gold Glove, but (a) he's also had Tommy John surgery since then and (2) those awards have idiots voting for them. Roll the dice, Tony. You're going to struggle to be a .500 team no matter what, so why not let the guy who can actually get on base be your ninth place hitter?

The Wil Cordero Memorial Linkpunch, Thursday, March 20th

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linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

Rob is sick, and I guess there are some basketball games on or something, so this is your last post for a little while. Enjoy tournament day. If you haven't already, there's only a couple more days to send in your picks for our Prophecy Of Mediocrity Contest, so get on it.
fuji.jpgAfter the Yankees opened last season against the Rays in Japan, they returned and had an abysmal April. Many were quick to point out that perhaps that trip started them off on the wrong foot. I saw some merit in that argument, and was less than excited when I saw the Red Sox would be taking the A's in this year's Sushi Series™. With pitchers usually ahead of hitters this early in the season, the Sox hardly need Kevin Youkilis getting eaten by Mothra or Mr. Fuji throwing any blinding powder in Manny's eyes.

Today the AP is running a story from Bobby Valentine, a man who has used Japan to resurrect his career even more than Bob Harris. Valentine brings up a point that I really hadn't cared thought about: How are these series affecting the Japanese?

"I hope the Red Sox and A's have a great time here and I'm sure everyone will enjoy it but it's ludicrous that our games will be going on at the same time," Valentine said. "The timing is a mistake and I guess that's something that slipped through the cracks when they were planning the schedules."

With all the fanfare surrounding the arrival in Japan of the World Series champions Boston and their Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, the opening of Japan's professional baseball season on March 20 seems like an afterthought.

I feel you, Bob. My Metallica cover band has terrible time getting anyone to come see us when Metallica is in town.

Valentine's opinion and the opinion of anyone else I've talked to, all point at a fundamental truth about these games. Baseball is so desperate to look like it's trying to "preserve the spirit of the game" in the face of myraid scandals, but this Japan series is a blatant money rip. Scheduling these games in the regular season is a mistake. It doesn't benefit the players. It doesn't benefit American fans, and now we learn it doesn't even benefit fans of Japanese baseball.

penguin.jpgHey, guess what. There's a feud going on between the Brewers and the Angels. No, seriously. It all stems from last Spring when Mike Scioscia didn't start enough front line players in an exhibition game.

The Brewers filed a protest with the commissioner's office last spring after the Angels, for the second straight year, sent a team of minor leaguers to Maryvale for the Cactus League finale while their regulars played an exhibition at Angel Stadium that night.

Teams must bring a minimum of four position players who were regulars the previous year or had a "reasonable chance" of being regulars this season to spring road games.

So Ned Yost "did little to diffuse" the feud by fielding an amateur team of his own for Tuesday's game. OHHH SNAP, NED! Why didn't you just take your balls out and hand them to Scioscia when you were trading lineup cards? That'll teach the Angels to mess with the Brewers!

I can only see this ending two ways:

1. Bloody knifefight.

B. I forget about it the second I finish writing this post.
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Welp, looks like the ol' dispute is over because the game is happening today, albeit an hour later than it was scheduled. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was scratched so the Red Sox will go with David Aardsma, while the Blue Jays will start someone named Brian Tallet.

Follow me after the jump for the ol' liveglog:

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I am sorry to inform my liveglog readers that there will be no Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog today. There is only one afternoon game on XM and it's the Red Sox-Blue Jays at noon. I have a lunch date. Don't worry...once the regular season commences, EVERY single game will be broadcast on XM. I think part of the reason is that some of these games aren't even broadcast on traditional radio; XM just rebroadcasts their signal anyway, which is why we've been so luck to hear Dave Niehaus

In exchange for disappointing all four of you, I would like to offer you an opportunity to vote for which game I will liveglog on Wednesday April 2nd, the first regular season liveglog. Please choose from the following three games and vote in the comment section:

  1. Royals at Tigers, 1:05PM
  2. Brewers at Cubs, 2:20PM
  3. Red Sox at A's, 3:35PM

There are many Red Sox fans who read this blog. Don't stuff the ballot box!

UPDATE: I lied, I don't have a lunch date but the Red Sox aren't playing today because they're on strike. So either way, no liveglog. Sorry.

UPDATE: The A's have now voted to boycott the Japan trip as well. This Red Sox / Blue Jays game is pretty much not gonna happen, but that's not stopping the Sox announcers from chit chattin with us.

UPDATE: The Red Sox players are waiting in the clubhouse now; they will probably come out soon and sign autographs for the kids. After all, this is their last game in Florida for the spring.

UPDATE: I am liveglogging a non-game that I wasn't going to liveglog anyway.

UPDATE: The game is ON! First pitch at 1:10PM. Now I suppose I must liveglog this nonsense...

Spring Chickens: National League

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kid.jpgWelcome to part two of my look at guys that are younger than me but still have accomplished as much if not more than I have. This week I'm tackling the National League. You can read part one about the American League, here.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: The Snakes have had more than their share of young talent emerge over the past few seasons. Conor Jackson, Justin Upton, Chris Young and Steven Drew have all become important pieces of the team. This year, there are no real young guns on the horizon prepared to make in impact, it's up to the new regulars to fulfill this team's big potential. Although there is this guy they got from the Royals, Billy Buckner. His name seems so familiar but I can't remember why...


  • Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens, acquired from the Tigers in the Edgar Renteria deal has had a couple of solid spring starts and looks poised to join the Braves rotation. That has to be a great experience for a young pitcher. Talking to Smoltz and Glavine about versatility, poise and what it was like to pitch to Rogers Hornsby.


  • Chicago Cubs: Prospect Sean Gallagher has pitched well this Spring but apparently the Cubs have too many quality veterans in the rotation to make room. Hey Sweet Lou, three of those starters are named Lieber, Dempster, and Marquis. The Cubbies are also hoping catcher Geovany Soto's impressive cameo last season was for real.


  • Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Cueto is bowling people over down in Florida this spring. The Reds still like last year's big callup, Homer Bailey, but it looks like he may start the year at AAA, giving Cueto a shorter path to the rotation. OF Jay Bruce was thought by some to be a ROY candidate, but the signing of Corey Patterson may have pushed him out of the the starting lineup for now. Of course the only thing better than having all of this young talent, is having just the right guy to harness it.


  • Colorado Rockies: Last year's first pick Casey Weathers missed first cuts and will start the year in the minors. Franklin Morales, who impressed late last season is getting the piss knocked out of him this Spring. While I don't usually put stock in Spring numbers, scouts are also saying his velocity is down. Uh oh.


  • Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller both came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade and will see significant time this season. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Miller's debut with the Red Sox in 3 years
  • .
  • Houston Astros: J.R. Towles is the Astros catcher of the future. He can rake and his name sounds like something my old roommate would name a bong. Woo! Hard throwing Felipe Paulino was competing for a spot in the rotation but he has a pinched nerve and will be out at least a month.


  • LA Dodgers: Andy LaRoche was one of the most highly touted rookies coming into the season but he took a fastball right to Thumbkin and is out for 4-6. With Nomar also hurt... hold on this record is skipping... ok... Blake DeWitt, who won the Mulvey Award for top rookie in camp, could see some early time at 3rd base.


  • Milwaukee Brewers: The pitching staff in Milwaukee is as crowded as any in baseball. With very few open spots, lefty Manny Parra has been lights out. In limited big league action last season he averaged almost a strikeout per inning and is ahead of that pace this Spring. Slugging OF Matt LaPorta has been assigned to AAA which makes me happy because he's a Florida Gator so he can kiss my ass.


  • New York Mets: No immediate rookie impact expected, but the Mets appear very glad to have kept Fernando Martinez. He's hitting well so far in camp.


  • Philadelphia Phillies: Jason Jaramillo looks to be the catcher of the future, but isn't ready yet. THE CONTRACTORS SAID HE WOULD BE READY. Stupid baseball robot construction delays.


  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates' top two prospects, Steve Pearce and Neil Walker were both assigned to AAA. Makes sense when you have that much veteran talent already at the major league level.


  • San Diego Padres: Chase Headley has an awesome porn name and a chance to make the team as an outfielder since Jim Edmonds is already hurt.


  • San Francisco Giants: The illustrious Brian Bocock already has a tag on this website and is filling in nicely with the glove for Omar Visquel.


  • St. Louis Cardinals: OF Colby Rasmus is the pride of the farm system and will probably see some time as a call up this year. He's got lots of tools... but can he drink?


  • Washington Nationals: John Lannan was impressive in his short major league debut last season and has been the same thus far in camp.
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Barry Bonds is in the news again and there is no bigger pariah in baseball whose last name doesn't rhyme with Blemens than Barry. Seems as if the MLB Players Association is investigating why free agent Bonds isn't getting any offers. MLBPA head Donald Fehr is even throwing around the C-bomb. No, not that one, I meant 'collusion'. So, as expected, his detractors are being quite vocal. San Francisco Chronicle blogger "The Betting Fool" snidely lists the reasons Bonds isn't being signed:

  • Too old? Check?
  • Too much money and a hard-ass agent who will want more than his client is worth? Check.
  • Is mostly worthless in the field? Check.
  • Is mostly poison in the clubhouse? Depends which one, but mostly a check.
  • Possible impending trial on perjury charges? Double check!

Sour grapes, I suppose, but if my team's last viable offensive player had been cast out of the clubhouse like a trollop, then I'd be pretty sour myself. Sorry Giants fans, you're nothing without Barry.

My favorite part of the blog entry is the photo caption: "Barry tends to draw a crowd, which can be a major distraction for other teammates." You know what else tends to draw a crowd? A SUCCESSFUL TEAM THAT WINS GAMES!

My colleague analyzed Bonds' unemployment last month and I think we both came to the conclusion that a handful of American League teams should offer the guy a few million bucks to, you know, make their lineup more gooder. Tampa? Seattle? Kansas City? Want to compete? Here's your chance.

giant check.jpgHey there, loyal WoW reader(s). We've been at this for exactly a month now, and by way of thanks for coming along with us, we're proud to introduce the Prophecy of Mediocrity Contest.

The rules are simple. Just send an email to our intern Darren (Darren@walkoffwalk.com) with the following information:
1. Your real name or your commenter name, whichever your prefer.
2. The six teams you think will finish third in each MLB division in 2008.
3. The average number of wins for all six 3rd place teams (this will be the tiebreaker).

Make sure you write "Contest Entry" in the subject of your email. You have from now until 11:59 PM on Sunday night.

The winner will get a Walkoff Walk T-shirt (which we have yet to design... but it's a long season), a post on WoW, and a random baseball card of my choosing from a giant trunk in my parents' house.

It's our way of saying thanks, and getting even more excited for the season. WE GET TO WRITE ABOUT ACTUAL BASEBALL GAMES! WOOHOO!
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Felipe Alou is a fantastic source of sexual innuendo:

"He doesn't play ball, he plays with the ball," said former San Francisco manager-turned-special assistant Felipe Alou, who meant it as a compliment about (shortstop Brian) Bocock's defensive timing and good hands.

The kid's name is Bocock and he plays with the ball. He also "has soft hands, a quick release and poise beyond his years". Teammate Tim Lincecum had no comment. I have a five-year old boy's sense of humor. I should probably give it back.

(Thanks, David Pinto of Baseball Musings. I owe you a Coke.)

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The new hotness in corporate-speak is 'going green'. If I have to read another announcement about Company A or Organization B 'going green', I am going to tear my beautiful brown hair out. My idea of 'going green' is swallowing a spoonful of green food dye and then peeing emerald. It's just too late for our planet to make up for past environmental mistakes and I fully believe we'll all be destroyed by a super-typhoon-tornado-cane next August. However, this announcement by Japanese baseball in which they will shorten games to reduce carbon emissions actually makes me happy:

Japanese professional baseball players have vowed to shorten playing time per game as part of the national pastime's contribution to the fight against global warming. They will aim to cut playing time by six percent, or 12 minutes, from the average of three hours and 18 minutes per game, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioners' office said.

"When a professional baseball game is staged, a huge amount of carbon dioxides, a cause of global warming, is discharged because it requires use of energy to move players and spectators, supply electricity for lighting and other purposes and dispose of food and drink waste," NPB said in a statement.

Yes, baseball games are too long on both sides of the Pacific, but am I to believe that global warming is caused by four hour April games between the Yankees and the Orioles? If so, then I am all for 'going green' in Major League Baseball, just so I don't have to sit through four painful hours of listening to Michael Kay. Hey umpires, please enforce Rule 8.04 or else the goddamn polar bears will become extinct.

Blue Jays Show Sense Of Whimsy; Scathing Racism

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IAF_Helicopter_Strike.jpgThe Toronto Star employs 4 baseball writers, all of whom contribute to the paper's Blue Jays blog. Sunday's effort was light, breezy and more than a little odd. The byline read Richard Griffin, but to me it read more like one of Hunter S. Thompson's twilight sports columns.

There are several disjointed sentences about Frank Thomas, a couple bouts of onomatopoeia, references to OJ Simpson, ospreys and machine guns, and, strikingly, this Archie Bunker channeling blind item:

At the end of the morning, the highlight was Alex Rios bringing his five-month-old hobby out onto the field -- a four foot long, gasoline-powered, remote control helicopter. As Rios set up, refueling his impressive looking machine on the warning track in front of the bullpen, one of his teammates remarked jokingly, "I'm staying away. I don't trust a Puerto Rican with a sharp object in his hands." This was just men being boys.
This paragraph raises more question than it answers. Why is the remote control sharp? Who is the hilarious teammate and why does he go unnamed? It's all very confusing, but if Richard Griffin starts calling himself Doctor and goes on a peyote binge with Cito Gaston, you heard it here first.
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Hey Walkoff Walkers, I missed you guys today. I spent my Monday guest-bloggerating at The 700 Level, thanks to an invite from my good friend Enrico. I even did two baseball posts, so please to enjoy:

Sorry, I didn't bring back any crab fries or roast pork Italians.

GAAH! JEFF FRANCOUER IS A VAMPIRE!!1!!1

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Not really, he just got hit in the face with a baseball.

Matt T. with the gory picture tip. We owe you a Coke.

NY Post Reports Yankees Sign CC Sabathia In The Future

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zoltar-1.jpgYesterday at Legends field, C.C Sabathia sat in front of his locker in the visitors clubhouse and was asked on a scale of 1-10 how stoked he is to be playing for the Yankees in 2009. After finishing his four innings of work, he talked to the 3 or 4 Cleveland reporters about the start. Suddenly a group of New York fatties descended on him, covered in mozzarella stick crumbs and still out of breath from jerking it to pictures of Spitzer's call girl.

Q. The Yankees are always heavily involved in free agency, any thought about that and your free agency?
A. "No, I'm focused on this season right now, playing in Cleveland and trying to win," said Sabathia.

Q. Do you like New York?
A. "New York is fine," said Sabathia. "We only go there a couple of times a year. It's fun when I go there."

Q. When you went to New York to get the Cy Young Award over the winter, did any New York fans talk to you about coming to the Yankees?
A."I had fun there, but no fans said that," said Sabathia.

That last one is my favorite. What would a reporter glean from that information?

"Yes, someone did approach me and they screamed 'COME TO THE YANKEES YOU HOMO' then jumped back on the garbage truck." That's a real compelling story.

Of course the Yankees will be the leading bidders for Sabathia's services, but is the press really going to jump on the story this far in advance? Way to play it cool and not drive up the price, you jackals.

Famous Baseball Drunks: A St. Patty's Day Tribute

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kcfanattack020920.jpgNo one enjoys a drink more than me. I also love to shirk responsibility, so excuses are high up on the list of things I like. While I'll be staying home this evening and filling out a stack of brackets, I imagine many of you will be out using St. Patrick's Day as an excuse to get retarded drunk and do things you'll regret until at least the Fourth of July. In your honor, here's a list of drunk baseball milestones. I've left out drunk driving incidents because they're not funny, and I think it would take up too much space on our server.

If there's been a subtext to this blog so far, it's that baseball players are kind of dumb. Throw in some sauce and you get the following sample of the alternatingly despicable, moronic, funny and sad. Much like you at work tomorrow morning.

1907: Ty Cobb gets drunk and slaps a black groundskeeper.

1918: Babe Ruth gets drunk and throws piano into lake.

1931: Lovell Mantle gives birth to son, Mickey.

1980: Bob Welch says of the rehab facility he attended in Arizona: "It's not so bad. It's a great place to meet women."

1988: Roger Clemens heckles the recovered Bob Welch saying: "Drink beer, like a real man, not any more of that milk!"

The Entire decade of the 80's: Wade Boggs drinks over 50 beers on each cross country flight.

1994: Marge Schott says she doesn't want Reds players to wear earrings because "only fruits wear earrings." I assume she was totally loaded, like always.

2001: Mike Cameron drives in 8 RBI in an August game vs. the Yankees. Later admits to being drunk.

2002: Tom Gamboa gets shit kicked out of him by totally wasted William Ligue Jr. and his 15 year old son in Chicago. God, has it been five years already? Hillary should try and tie this to Obama.

2007: Seattle Mariners sign Carlos Silva to $44 million contract. Entrie front office assumed soused.

Burn Down Dodgertown

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Tonight, the Los Angeles Dodgers play their very last game ever at Dodgertown, their spring training center in Vero Beach, Florida for the past sixty years. There is a lot of hemming and hawing and rendering of garments and gnashing of teeth about the move, but honestly? I could care less.

Vero Beach was firmly rooted in the South, the old South, the Jim Crow South. Even after the Dodgers broke the color barrier with Mr. Jackie Robinson, Vero Beach stayed deeply segregated. Maury Wills couldn't find a place in town that would give a black man a hair cut so he had to get Johnny Roseboro to shave his head with electric shears. Racism forced Maury Wills to trust a set of electric shears in the hands of a man who was once clunked over the head with a bat by Juan Marichal. Ouch.

So where are the Dodgers headed? Seems that owner Frank McCourt decided to invest $80 million to build a new training facility in Glendale, Arizona so their California fans would have a shorter trip to see the team play spring training games. Um, Frank...you can't even get your fans to stay for nine full innings during regular season games at Chavez Ravine. Do you really think they'll drive four hours deeper into the desert to see ballgames that don't even count?

So when the game is over tonight, turn off the lights and set the place on fire. Because if you leave Dodgertown standing, it will only get sullied by a far, far worse team.

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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

The National League West is the polar opposite of the National League Central. The top four teams here are all competitive and deserve consideration for the division title. I wouldn't be surprised if those top four teams all finished with a winning record, just like I wouldn't be surprised to see five of six NL Central teams drown in Lake Michigan.

You've got some of the top pitchers in the majors here, with former Cy Young winners Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Brandon Webb, and Barry Zito all earning paychecks from NL West teams. Young arms like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Dan Haren could each be future Cy Young winners.

There aren't many huge sluggers in this division. With Barry Bonds gone, the best hitters include Matt Holliday, Chris Young, and Adrian Gonzalez, not exactly household names...yet.

Perhaps the biggest new arrival in the NL West is Dodgers' manager Joe Torre. Although he won't have Derek 'Dreamboat' Jeter's bats to fondle anymore, he inherits one of the best pitching staffs in baseball to comfort him.

So let's get previewin'! Follow me after the jump:

In which Bennett Cerf, Debbie Reynolds, and two people I don't know try to figure out the identities of Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider and Giants pitcher Sal Maglie.

One observation: note the raucous laughter after the idea of a baseball team playing in Queens is ideated. Queens, indeed! Also, both these guys played for the Dodgers and Giants at some point in their careers. Maglie eventually ended up a Yankee and Snider played one year for the Mets.

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

(once again, a Coke to the Classic Television Showbiz Blog)

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Manager Joe Torre and his Los Angeles Dodgers are in China for some exhibition games with the San Diego Padres and he brought along a bunch of non-roster players because the Chinese won't know the goddamn difference. Also: Nomar would break into tiny little pieces on a 16 hour flight.

Two of the no-names, onetime top prospect Greg Miller and former Phillie who is in no way related to their first baseman Kevin Howard decided to immerse themselves in the Chinese culture immediately:

(Others) clung to what was familiar. Left-hander Greg Miller and infielder Kevin Howard, two of the many non-roster players on this trip, laughed how their first meal in China on Thursday night was at McDonald's. "I came all this way to go to McDonald's," Miller said.

Full disclosure: when I was in Lake Como, Italy, I may have stopped into the McDonald's for a Diet Coke, so I can't really jump on these guys' backs for not sampling the local cuisine. Besides, they serve Coxcomb McNuggets and the Big Mac is made of goat penis over there, so it's an adventure.

Meanwhile, Padres closer Trevor Hoffman and a gigantic cartoonish Friar terrorized the countryside from atop the Great Wall. Sez Hoff:

"Look at the view. Take a look. It's unbelievable, isn't it? I think I'd feel pretty safe on this wall in the day when Mongolia was coming after 'em."

Deep, Trevor. Very deep.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt This week

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stretcher.JPGYesterday at work, I hurt my back bending to pick up a piece of paper behind my desk, and had to lay on the floor in an empty office until I felt good enough to try and stand up again. It sucked. I'm not sure if it's related to any of the rehab I've been doing for major knee surgery, but it's quite possible. I tend to stare coldly and angrily at anyone that makes light of my recent spate of health issues.

All that being said, I have no compunction poking fun at the injuries of the following players. They're rich and mostly dumb, and can kiss my hypocritical ass.

Joel Pineiro, Cardinals: When Pineiro went down this week, an already light Cards rotation just about vanished into thin air. I thought to myself, "Jesus what are they gonna do now, sign Kyle Lohse?" I was just kidding... and then they signed Kyle Lohse. If my next two premonitions are correct, Brad Radke better start looking for apartments in Arlington (see below) and I'm going to have a delicious grilled cheese samich mere minutes from now.

Nomar Garciaparra & Andy LaRoche, Dodgers: Nomar got hit in the wrist with a pitch. Again. That's some groundhog day shit. In the very same game, Andy LaRoche tore a ligament in his thumb and is out two weeks. Unfortunately for the Dodgers those two were fighting to be the starting third baseban. Fortunately for the Dodgers, now Joe Torre can't screw it up.

Brandon McCarthy, Eddie Guardado, Vicente Padilla, CJ Wilson & Kevin Millwood, Rangers: Hey remember a couple weeks back when we were talking about how lousy the Rangers pitching staff is? Well now half of them are hurt. That can't help. Its gotten so bad people are blaming the mound. It's kind of like the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash if Lynyrd Skynryd were terrible and no one cared much about their music in the first place.

Rocco Baldelli, Rays: Not fun. Baldelli revealed that he has "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities" Rocco says he isn't retiring but after a couple minutes on the field he feels like he's been working out forever. Shitty, but I'm using this excuse the next time my old lady asks why I stopped going to the gym.

Doug Mirabelli: Red puffy eyes, sniffles.

Casey Janssen, Blue Jays: After a stellar 2007, Jansen was the leading candidate to be BJ Ryan's set up man, but now after a tearing his labrum, he's a leading candidate to watch a ton of Price Is Right over the next few months. He's out for the season. Apparently this opens the door for Armando Benitez marking the first time in the past year that's happened somewhere other than El Pollo Loco.
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Last month, my colleague Camp Tiger Claw questioned the sanity of the Red Sox' dependency on their chosen backup catcher, and vice versa. Well, the Red Sox - Doug Mirabelli relationship has hit a valley once again as the team has gone and released his knuckleball-catching ass.

Mirabelli was an awful hitter but he excelled at catching Tim Wakefield because he could actually get down and block knuckleballs, unlike Varitek, who excels at hitting .260 and being gritty. The Sox traded him to the Padres last year two years ago, but after his replacement Josh Bard had more passed balls than Portia De Rossi, they sheepishly brought Mirabelli back. He changed into his uniform in a police car! You can't beat that for a human interest story!

Mirabelli was placed on unconditional waivers, so if nobody picks him up (why would they?) he could be back on the Sox later this season. Forgive the quick and dirty analogy, but Red Sox:Carrie::Mirabelli:Mr. Big. Yes, I watched Sex and the City. So did you, so shut up.

Nationals Letting Fans Bogart The IPod

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dmitri young's son.jpgSwingin' Maury Brown over at The Biz of Baseball reported this morning on the Washington Nationals letting fans decide the musical programming at games this season. Wow. How populist! Oh, nevermind, fans get to pick from a list of (mostly) trite tired or just plain awful stuff:

The "You Make The Call" promotion will run from Thursday, March 13 at 9:00am through Wednesday March 26 at 5:00pm. Fans may choose from a selection of songs, including "Because We Can" by Fat Boy Slim or "Song 2 (Woo Hoo)" by Blur for the Home Run song, and "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations or "Shout" from Otis Day and the Knights for the Seventh Inning Stretch. Choices for the Nationals Victory Song include "Beautiful Day" by U2 and "How Do You Like Me Now" by Toby Keith. If you'd like to peruse the entire list, feel free. But I'm telling you, there's only one song on there I give a damn about. Kenny Rogers is a demigod. Here are my suggestions for each of the three songworthy occasions:

You wanna get this party started? That's the list. I'm also available to DJ weddings and Bar Mitzvahs as well as write out the Nationals lineup card.

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Much has been made in the baseballblogosphere about Dusty Baker's ignorance about statistics and hardheaded reliance on good ol' fashioned instinct when it comes to player evaluation. Well, I wanted to see this firsthand so I've been reading the notes column for the Reds in the Cincinnati Enquirer for a couple weeks. It's so true. Either Dusty Baker's mind is made of magic or he is just so stubborn and lazy that he refuses to learn anything about the kids on his team. To wit:

Reliever Bill Bray made his debut Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the first time Reds manager Dusty Baker really saw him throw. "I didn't want to be swayed one way or the other until I see the full Bray," he said. "I probably won't see the true Bray yet, anyway."

Okay well that kinda makes sense: Bray had been missing time with a sore shoulder and an appendectomy, so I can't blame Dusty too much here. Another:

Baker said he didn't spend a lot of time reading reports on players like rookie right-hander Johnny Cueto before spring training began. "I read, but I scanned," Baker said. "I didn't want to be persuaded one way or the other, so I didn't really study ... I'm not distrusting of reports; it's just I trust my own eyes more."

Hey, I trust my eyes too, but there's only so far that they can take me. Same for you Dusty. The Reds organization employs people known as 'scouts' who take the time to 'evaluate' players both on other teams and on your team. They write up 'reports' that sometimes contain valuable 'statistics' that can tell you important things about rookies like Cueto. Study, Dusty! Hey, 'study' is an anagram for 'Dusty'. What a strange coincidence.

In other news, Dusty and his boy Darren (now twelve) went fishing off the dock behind Baker's condo and caught some sheepshead, which he took to a local restaurant to have the proprietor cook up. Um, isn't this a health code violation?

Spring Chickens: American League

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kid.jpgIn the interest of writing about something Spring Training related that will actually effect the season, Rob and I will be highlighting rookies from each squad. I'm using the same requirements as MLB for rookie classification.

Even if these youngsters don't have a breakout season, they've already accomplished much more than those little assholes who stand outside my Circle K, smoking and blocking the door. I HAVE A LEG BRACE ON, YOU TWERPS.

  • Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles had a couple glimmers of hope going into what is sure to be a mostly dark season, and right now even those aren't looking so good. Lefty Troy Patton, the centerpiece (for the O's) of the Miguel Tejada deal is out for the year after a labrum tear. Defensive specialist and likely Tejada replacement, Luis Hernandez has made 3 errors already this spring, and if he digs himself a hole defensively his bat won't get him out. Reliever Radhames Liz has shown improvement from last season, and could play a role in the bullpen at some point this season.

  • Boston Red Sox: Blah blah Jacoby Ellsbury... blah blah Clay Buchholz.

  • Chicago White Sox: Chicago is trotting out 3 young pitchers: Gavin Floyd and John Danks in the rotation, and Nick Masset in the pen. I'm not sure if they're technically rookies and don't feel like looking it up. Oh well, I went three teams in before dropping the conceit. Anyway, Chicago's season is riding on more young hands then Teri Hatcher. Unfortunately for my comedy, true rookie Lance Broadway has been getting the shit knocked out of him.

  • Cleveland Indians: The Indians have 3 lefties in camp vying for a rotation spot. The Indians like Aaron Laffey's stuff, but Cliff "Best Lefty In The Game" Lee seems to have emerged as the fifth starter.

  • Detroit Tigers: Detroit traded the last of the big league ready young talent to the Marlins, but with the bullpen disintegrating like a tab of acid, don't be surprised to see some call ups.

  • Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and following a strong spring, has a chance of making the staff. There are 7 things working in his favor as he tries to grab one of two open roster spots: Brett Tomko, John Bale, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Davies, Hideo Nomo, Brian Lawrence and Mike Maroth.

  • Los Angeles Angles Of Anaheim: Brandon Wood and Erick Aybar have been putting up solid minor league numbers and now look to crack the Angels lineup and join that Mouseketeer-aged infield. In researching this piece I've seen Wood compared to Mark Bellhorn, Mike Schmidt, and Troy Glaus. I think this just means he's really dumb. Aybar could split time at SS with Maicer Izturis.

  • Minnesota Twins: Both Phillip Humber and Carlos Gomez came over from the Mets in the Santana deal. Humber is a middling starter who's already had Tommy John surgery. Gomez has been called "raw" by every publication that's written about him or Mets fan that's mentioned him. Through experience I've found this projects to a .235 average, 25 SBs and lots of grunting and mastication of live animals. What a trade!

  • New York Yankees: Blah blah Joba Chamberlain... blah blah Phil Hughes... blah blah Ian Kennedy.

  • Oakland A's: A piece in itself, the guys at Baseball Analysts projected 6 different rookies making a dent. 1B Daric Barton has gotten the most press. He suffered a hand injury this spring but returned to the lineup with a HR.

  • Seattle Mariners: Catcher Jeff Clement was the 3rd overall pick in 2005. He has dynamic skills behind the plate. Unfortunately, Seattle's third favorite Japanese guy, (1. Ichiro 2. Masaharu Morimoto) Kenji Johjima, has a lock on the position. Manager John McLaren says he has "too high a ceiling" to be a backup and will probably start the season at AAA.

  • Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria has garnered so much hype without doing anything that you'd think he was discovered by Pitchfork.

  • Texas Rangers: Homegrown Eric Hurley is a big kid with big expectations. The Rangers are wary of pushing him too quickly, but with Brandon McCarthy hurt, there could be a spot for him. People also like 1B Chris Davis, but our boy Evan Grant expects him to start the year in the minors.

  • Toronto Blue Jays: Older than God.
grapefruit.jpgSo we're jumping into a Red Sox-Twins game that has already gone four and a half innings. The Red Sox lead the Twins 6 to 3. Clay Buchholz started and pitched well through 3 innings for Boston, while Francisco Liriano started for the Twins and gave up a couple runs in a couple innings. Joe Mauer just hit a solo dinger for the Twins and has two hits on the game. Let's start the late liveglog! (after the jump...oops)

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Yes, I am liveglogging two games today. No, don't get your hopes up because the liveglog will only last two hours. I'll be covering the tail end of the Red Sox v. Twins matchup at 3PM and the start of the White Sox v. Rockies matchup at 4PM. To ease up the workload, I'm going to have our intern Darren instant-messaging me some funny one-liners during the game.

Come back here at 3PM and I'll do my best to entertain you with hourlong slices of meaningless games!

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In Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles, Campbell Scott's character Steve Dunne plays a transportation engineer for the city of Seattle. As a 14-year-old nerd, I thought I had found my future career, even with Steve's utter failings at getting that monorail project...ahem...off the ground. (Damn you, Mayor Tom Skerritt!) Fast-forward sixteen years and I'm just a dumb baseball blogger, but I still am fascinated by transportation and traffic engineering. So when I read this incredibly meticulous analysis of the parking situation at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' new ballpark, my first reaction was: "People go to Devil Rays' games?"

My second reaction, however, was: "This will all be for naught if the Devil Rays don't start winning some games." There's been Major League Baseball in Tampa St. Petersburg for ten seasons and this team has yet to win more than 70 games. If this new stadium is indeed built, will they really need to find 14,000 parking spots in downtown St. Pete when they're barely drawing 17,000 fans per game? Granted, a lot of the blame goes to Tropicana Field, a cavernous warehouse that should only be used for rodeos and motocross. But if the Devil Rays were winning, people would still show up; people only started going back to that dump Fenway when the Red Sox started contending again.

Here's some of the St. Petersburg Times blogger's analysis:

The Rays are assuming, using 2005 parking and tickets sales, a rate of 2.9 people per car. In that scenario, the team believes it only needs around 12,000 spots. The "available" spaces are within 3/4 a mile of the proposed new stadium and inlcude 2,000 spaces at Tropicana Field. The analysis assumes those spaces will only be used for near-sellout games and ticket holders would use a shuttle to reach the field.

At their current level of success, they'd only need half those parking spots. Also, if I ever make it to St. Pete for a game, I'll punch the elderly if I have to take a shuttle to the ballpark.

I do endorse the new stadium design and think it will help the Devil Rays franchise contend. Still, this is the year they better hit that 80-win plateau. There's been a lot of chatter that Tampa Bay could overtake the Blue Jays for third place this season, but I'll take that one step further: the Devil Rays will challenge the Red Sox for second place. Yes, even with Troy Percival as the closer.

That's A Spicy Meatball; Livid Old Man

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lasorda.jpgWhoa. Who spiked the Slim Fast? Feisty and rotund octogenarian Tommy Lasorda decided to mix it up with an ump yesterday, his first game as Joe Torre's temp. Lasorda let the Fixodent fly, arguing over a fair/foul call. Tommy certainly showed that people his age can do more than just drag down the economy.

" "They've always liked that when I'd go out and start arguing. Put on a little show," Lasorda said."

Tommy Lasorda. The consummate entertainer. Except when he's paying for oral.
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Everyone's favorite telekinetically-capable center fielder Ichiro Suzuki is having a very terrible run in spring training (I know because I live-glogged it). The Mariners number one hitter in 2007 is 0-for-21 so far in the Cactus League, but don't worry, because he's having fun with it:

"Part of me said, 'Go through, so it can be a hit,' " Ichiro said through an interpreter. "But the other part of me said, 'Make this an out so the streak can continue.' "

Always the competitor, Ichiro is basically trying to top his 0-for-22 streak back in the summer of aught-five. I salute him for striving to suck just a little harder, but I don't get it: Hitless streaks that long are for terrible players like Richie Sexson, not a guy like Ichiro who has amassed nearly 1500 hits in his first seven seasons with the M's. He continues:

"To tell you the truth, some of this is kind of fun," Ichiro said. "To be in a situation this early in Spring Training and have this kind of a bit of intense environment is something that I couldn't experience before. Basically, it's a situation where I need to battle within myself, mentally. That's something that I haven't experienced at this time of year, and I get to experience that right now, and that is great for me. Once I get a hit it might actually make me sad that this experience isn't going to be here any more. But at the same time, I understand I need results."

Translation: "I'm old and I've lost a step, so I either have to figure out a new way to beat out infield grounders or keep making crazy quotes and hopefully get paid by ESPN to analyze baseball. Hey, they hired Emmitt Smith and he can't speak English either."

Who Is The Next Coach Of USC Baseball?

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usc girlsThat is my clever way of introducing managers with hot asses... I mean managers on the hot seat. You see, the University of Southern California has two coaches, Pete Carroll and Tim Floyd, who were unequivocal disasters at the pro level but have reached measures of success (great and middling, respectively) at USC. Seems to me it would be a good move for the university to take one of this season's fired MLB mangers to coach the baseball team.

So... who's it going to be? Here's my list of candidates

  • Ozzie Guillen, White Sox: Dios mio. There's a pretty good chance Ozzie will have to buy a ticket to watch the All-Star game. If he does get tossed off the South Side he'd be a perfect fit in Southern California. Just don't take him to West Hollywood.

  • John Gibbons, Blue Jays: Toronto didn't do all that much in the offseason, except trading Glaus for Rolen, which is like trading a grey rock for a black rock. A couple of injuries somewhere in J.P. Ricciardi's Stockpile Of Mediocrity© and the Blue Jays could see themselves passed in the standings by the Tampa Rays. If that happens, Gibbons could be canned and do a lot worse than doing a little surfing and eating some In-N-Out Del Taco.

  • Willie Randolph, Mets: It's well documented that the Mets ended last season with a giant sucking sound. Even worse, they didn't seem to care all that much. Not good for the manager. This year this team is the presumptive favorite. These things add up to a short leash for Willie. But hey, why worry about those homos on the 7 train, when you can chill out on the 5 freeway?

Anyone I missed? Leave 'em in the comments.
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They're playing baseball in caves out in Joplin, Missouri, and attorney and local nut David Riesenmy is to blame. Riesenmy and former major league pitcher Steve Luebber have taken a fifteen acre underground facility once used for paintball and transformed it into the "Cave of Dreams Baseball Center". It's 65 degrees and dry all year round, as opposed to normal Missouri weather, which fluctuates between 'shitty' and 'shittier'. Local kids can practice all sorts of skills:

The center includes two long batting tunnels with pitching machines, a soft-toss cage, two clay pitcher's mounds and two portable mounds, and open areas for practicing other skills.

Sounds good for the winter time, but what about during the spring and summer when kids just want to play outside? Other good uses for the Cave of Dreams during the summer season:

  • Storing all that Red Sox wine so it ages properly into a delicate swill.
  • Off day retreat and hibernation station for Cubs
  • Bat storage for the Kansas City Royals (ed note: get it? bat? haw haw!)
  • Opportunity for Kyle Farnsworth to turn it into a modern day Lascaux.
  • Teaching Jim Thome the difference between stalactites and stalagmites.

Or just turn it back into a paintball center. Those flyover states really eat that shit up.

Dear Pelicans: Please Attack Billy Crystal

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crystal_billy_cp_7778758.jpgOf all the things I dislike about the Yankees, Billy Crystal is perhaps the most insidious. That smug, "aw shucks look what they did to Roger Maris" brand of smoked salmon and caper stained nostalgia pisses me off to no end. Of course, the organization loves it. They must think of him as a Real New Yorker or a Real Yankee or some other such made up shit that they've appointed themselves the arbiter of.

It's Crystal's 60th birthday this week (I must say, he doesn't look a day over 67) and the Yankees are helping him celebrate by letting him suit up for a spring training game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had not decided where to play Crystal. "Billy Crystal has done a lot for this organisation," he said. "He's always been a big part of it. This is our way of rewarding him, saying thanks for everything you've done."
Really, Joe? How so? Did the kvetching from his box seats distract Byung-Hyun Kim and Tim Wakefield? Did he give hitting tips to Reggie Jackson?

For his part Crystal gets to act surprised and drop in an annoying bit of vague familiarity with the team.

"I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Yankees and commissioner Selig. I know this'll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I'm looking forward to helping the younger players - which by the way, is all of them."
Oh, that Billy! He knows his Yankees inside and out! What a dipshit showbiz elf. My only qualm about Thursday's game is that it's not against the Devil Rays. It would have been sweet to see him get drilled in the fro as part of the growing animosity between the two teams. Unfortunately, the Yankees are playing the Pirates so Crystal will probably hit for the cycle and we'll never hear the fucking end of it.
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Former Phillies reliever Mitch Williams is very protective of his 10 year old daughter, enough to curse out a female ref at a CYO game and possibly get banned from future contests. I guess those fifth grade girls in Catholic Youth Organization basketball games in Medford, NJ can get pretty physical, because Mitch was getting pissed about all the non-calls on his daughter:

"I'm emotional when it comes to my kids. What I saw happening was completely unfair."

Translation: "those f***ing bitches are hand-checking my little girl!" You call that an apology, Mitch? How about a little penitence here? Maybe a tiny mea culpa? Ron Martin, who heads the referee organization, isn't accepting Mitch's apology:

"(If Williams) is going to appear at any games next year, we will not officiate them. If he enters the gym in the middle of a game, we will stop officiating. A lot of people challenge calls, but when someone hits on one of the magic words, we can't tolerate that stuff."

Well how the fuck is Wild Thing gonna sell his salsa now?

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The Boston Globe's own Dan Shaughnessy has a blog, and he's not afraid to use it. Baseball beat writers like Dan must be absolutely stoked that they have blogs now where they can relay obviously inconsequential anecdotes and wacky stories that they normally can only use sparingly, perhaps just once a week in their columns. Also stoked: bloggers like me and CTC who can recycle these inconsequential anecdotes and wacky stories for the enjoyment of our 72 readers. Oops I just broke down the fourth wall!

Dan gives us these two gems from the Red Sox only healthy pitcher (ironic!) Jon Lester's start against the hapless Mets:

In two random, unrelated events, a Japanese newspaper reporter arrived late for the game because his windshield was shattered by what he said was a low-flying pelican. Then a foul ball shattered the computer screen of Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal while he was downstairs interviewing Lester.

Pelicans normally divebomb the water to scoop up delicious fish, so our Japanese reporter friend must have had some takeout sushi on his passenger seat. Note to self: when traveling in Port St. Lucie, keep spicy yellowtail rolls in the glove compartment.

Dan doesn't tell us off whose bat that otherwise stray foul ball that destroyed McDonald's computer came, so I'm going to have to assume Joe Morgan was taking some hacks for the Sox since he hates computers so much. Reading McDonald's last blog post is like reading all those MySpace pages from those dead kids, except much sadder. RIP JOEY MAC'S LAPPY!!!1!

Texas Girls Vying To Chase Frank Catalanotto's Balls

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Laurie Fox wrote a great and evocative piece for the Dallas Morning News about Rangers Ball Girl tryouts. It's a textbook example of how to make an entertaining story out of a little piece of preseason whimsy and humanize the participants while making your readers smile. I highly recommend it.

So of course, I'm going to copy and paste all the things that sound vaguely sexual!*

  • Their primary responsibility is to chase down balls

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  • They can't be afraid to sacrifice their bodies for the sport.

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  • Several of the girls could not get over the size of Hank Blalock's bat.

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  • During the Sunday tryouts the players bounded and lunged across the emerald grass, stopping line drives. Then, with determined faces, they each whizzed the ball back across the field.

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  • A hopeful Rachel Smith said she hoped to standout from the field by catching balls in her mouth.

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    *I made up two of these.

Joe Girardi Is A Baby, Joe Maddon Is A Yuppie

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Bang.jpgTwo days after the fact there's still huffing and puffing about the collision at home plate between the Rays' Eliot Johnson and the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli. Joe Girardi pitched a conniption fit and now... oh, Christ. Someone woke up Zimmer.

"I am surprised that Girardi went after it the way he did," Zimmer said. "The plate was blocked, and our guy bowled him over. What's that got to do with spring training? That's how you play the game. "I'm talking about a guy (Girardi) that's like a son to me. I can't believe he went after it the way he did because that's not Joe Girardi."

Oh, Don. You're like a sentimental talking English Bulldog. But you're right. Ron Gardenhire also chimes in for the LoHud article, and the consensus is one I agree with. Sure, you hate to see someone get hurt like that before the season ever starts, but it happens. A young guy like Johnson hasn't logged anytime in the majors and is trying to make the team. Instincts can get in the way. Simmer down, Girardi.

Unfortunately Cervelli is also a young guy looking for playing time and now he's out 8-10 weeks. Even worse, the injury is to his pizza dough tossing wrist.

In related news, Joe Maddon's emo glasses bug the crap out of me. Before I read this story, Rob and I were discussing the incident and the ensuing bickering. I joked that Joe Maddon hadn't spoken out because he was too busy listing his favorite Elvis Costello songs and reading recipes for artisan bread. And then... this quote!

Asked whether he needed to talk to Girardi, Maddon made light of the situation "I've always liked Joe," he said. "If he would like to have a conversation, I'd like to talk about politics. I'm good with global warming. I'm good with a lot of different topics on a daily basis. I like iTunes; I download some stuff off iTunes, I like different restaurants. I like red wine. I have a lot of different areas I can go conversationally."

Some may see that as Maddon displaying a wry sense of humor, a fine trait to have if you have to manage in Tampa. I see it more as a threat. If this escalates into a bench clearing brawl this season, someone is getting smacked with a baguette.
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This morning, the lady on NPR told me that this past weekend's switch to daylight saving time causes problems for Monday morning drivers. It seems that the loss of an hour early Sunday morning carries over to Monday morning, as commuters wake up an hour earlier than usual. They are more weary and sleepy on the roads, and historically, traffic accidents are increased 7% each Monday after the switch forward to DST. This got me thinking...what other accidents or mistakes can be blamed on this wacky convention of clock-advancing?

  • Perhaps Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels was sleepwalking yesterday when he signed tub o' lard Sidney Ponson. Either that or the Rangers' pitching staff is worn pretty thin. Get it? Thin?
  • Indians pitchers Jeremy Sowers and Rick Bauer must have needed an extra pot of coffee yesterday because they BOTH gave up a homerun to weak-hitting Nationals' shortstop Cristian Guzman. Guzman hitting two taters in one game is about as rare as Ponson passing up a Smörgåsbord. Get it? Because he's fat?
  • The Red Sox and Cubs' management must be still adjusting to the time switch because they're considering swapping OF Coco Crisp for SP Jason Marquis. The Cubs have a fine outfield already, with Soriano, Pie and Fukudome, while the Red Sox really shouldn't be shopping their best defensive outfielder when the other three ain't exactly green lights on the injury front. Also: who would ever want Jason Marquis?

So be careful on the roads today, commuters. Mostly because Tony LaRussa still has a drivers license, but also because folks is sleepy.

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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

I hate the National League Central Division. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I actually admire most of these teams and would root for them to beat most of the teams in the N.L. West or N.L. East. Rather, I hate this division because these teams suck and there are six of them.

Last year, the Brewers led the division until soon after the all-star break, when they gave way to the Cubs. The Cubs proceeded to get swept out of the playoffs by the Diamondbacks. Nothing else interesting happened.

So, is it possible for all six teams to lose 80+ games this season? No? So I have to pick a division champion? Well let's cut the crap and get right to it.

In which a blindfolded Steve Allen tries to guess Roy Campanella's identity from the sound of his deep voice. Yes, that is the concept behind the classic TV show "What's My Line".


A few observations:

  • Check out the wicked part in host John Charles Daly's hair. It looks like he's got a line of grout in there.
  • Roy Campanella was the NL MVP that year: 41 homers and 141 RBI as a catcher. He was MVP in '51 and '55, too...as was crosstown rival and fellow catcher Yogi Berra. Mike Piazza eats goat poop compared to these two.
  • I keep waiting for the lady to ask whether he's a Negro or not. You have to know this is going through her mind.

Have a nice weekend, all 63 of you!

(we owe a Coke to the Classic Television Showbiz blog)

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Earlier this week, I accused Noah Lowry of becoming the next Rick Ankiel after walking twelve gentlemen in his first 3 spring innings (not to mention the two wild pitches). Welp, I'd like to offer an official apology and mea culpa to Mr. Lowry because it seems as if he had an ouchie in his left arm.

Lowry was diagnosed with exertional compartmental syndrome in his forearm and will undergo surgery today on said arm. His control issues stemmed from fatigue in that weird place between your thumb and your wrist. It's basically the hand taint: it t'ain't the thumb and it t'ain't t he wrist.

Lowry will probably end up missing the first month of the season, so he'll be back in May to still go unnoticed by San Francisco baseball fans. So what exactly is this exertional compartmental syndrome anyway? Is it like carpal tunnel?

In layman's terms, throwing causes compression in Lowry's forearm compartment, resulting in a pressure buildup that squeezes a nerve which weakens Lowry's hand. Dr. Gordon Brody will perform Lowry's surgery, which is expected to be a mild procedure, by making a small incision and releasing the fascia -- akin to slicing a sausage casing -- around the forearm muscles.

See? No big deal. He's just having the casing sliced off of his sausa....holy crap, the blood just flowed out of my head. I'm feeling dizzy. Hold on one second.

...

Alright, I'm okay now. Hey Noah, wanna speed up the healing process? I hear HGH works wonders.

skid_marks.jpgThe Canadian Press is awesome. They're a non profit news sharing agency for the country's various multimedia outlets. That is so much sexier than the AP I can't even stand it. Anyway, they also have a pretty good sense of humor as evidenced by this headline: "Jason Bay looks forward to better times with Pirates, perhaps another team."

Yes, perhaps.

Bay has put on a stoic face over the past 5 years in Pittsburgh stringing together some decent to great seasons in that baseball wasteland. Apparently he upset some people this offseason by making what the CP calls, "blunt assessments," and what I call, "stating the completely obvious."

On the final day of the 2007 season, Bay said, "To think we're going to win 100 games or go to the World Series next year with the exact same team it would be a little foolish." Then, at the Pirates' annual fan festival in Pittsburgh in January, he said, "I think that, for a championship-quality team, you need to make more moves. And I'm not talking about the .500 team we can be. I don't think anyone in this room is going to tell you we're a championship-quality team."

Gasp! Anyone that got mad at Jason Bay for saying that is fully brain dead. New Pirate GM Neal Huntington has hinted that the team could be stripped of it's valuable veterans in a rebuilding scheme meaning that Bay and... no one else could be traded for prospects. Bay is trying to be diplomatic, and not revealing how orgasmically liberating it would be to have his career released from the talons of Pirates suckitude.

"I'd love to be part of the turnaround but I understand that if things don't work out and there's a direction they want to go, there'll be a few different names that aren't here and that's just how baseball works," said Bay.
My God, cliches are good at masking giddiness aren't they?

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt This Week

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stretcher.JPGWeek 2 of camp. More guys hurt. Let's round them up and poke some fun at their discomfort. How can I do this, you may ask? Because I use an alias. On to the wimps!

Coco Crisp, Red Sox: Let's let Amalie Benjamin of the Globe handle this one: "Coco Crisp not only is dealing with his tender groin muscles, but the center fielder is in line for a root canal today." That's one of the most painful sentences I've ever read. Looks like it'll be awhile before he can scratch his inner thighs with his teeth. Or get traded.

Adam Eaton, Phillies: Eaton has been complaining of back pain whilst getting shelled all week. I would recommend the Phillies have him see a back specialist. Then release him.

Jeff Kent, Dodgers: Grandpa pulled a hamstring. This guy turns 40 years old today and is still playing second base. That's really something. No truth to the rumors that Kent suffered the injury either washing his car or laughing maniacally at the fact that no one has signed Barry Bonds.

Jim Edmonds, Padres: Edmonds hurt his calf. You don't see those racists at PETA making a big deal about this, do you?

Doug Brocail, Astros: Raped by a wallaby.

Hank Joe Blalock, Rangers: Someone rear ended Blalock's car. This is what happens when you're eating In-N-Out and not paying attention where you're driving. Anyway, Blalock had whiplash and shoulder soreness but is feeling better.

SUPER PREDICTABLE UPDATE: Reader Matt T. sends in the news that Mike Hampton was just pulled from his second spring start with an undisclosed injury. Like Dr. Rock said below, some of these you could write in advance. Can't imagine the frustration for Hampton.
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Todd Wellemeyer is the very definition of a journeyman pitcher, having bounced around from Chicago to Florida to Kansas City to, most recently, St. Louis. If he could just throw some more goddamn strikes and stop walking every other batter he faced, he might be a serviceable pitcher on a decent team, but right now, he's got the control of a high school junior girl at a keg party. He tosses more balls than...well...a high school junior girl at a keg party. Sez Baseball Prospectus:

"His best chance would seem to be one inning at a time, not seven. Becoming the next Kyle Farnsworth is a best-case scenario."

Ouch, Baseball Prospectors! Anyway, they're wrong: Wellemeyer's best-case scenario is to become Colonel mother-effing Sanders:

"Always wanted to be a Colonel," Wellemeyer said. "There's no other Colonel I'd rather be." Last year, Wellemeyer, a native of Louisville, Ky., received a certificate from the Governor of the state welcoming him as a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Think a British knighthood, bluegrass-style.

Uhh...I'm thinking 'British knighthood, bluegrass-style' and the only thing on my mind is poor dental care. I'm glad you're proud of your Kentucky heritage, Todd. I, too, am proud of my state's heritage, and will soon be getting my official membership into the Honorable Order of New Jersey Springsteen Fans.

Eric Byrnes Is A Fruit

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Eric Byrnes got married. The story is just as annoying as you'd think it would be. Lest we be accused of drinking the haterade around here, there are genuinely good guys deserving of the occasional fluff piece. But this shit... man.

I'm not even going to tee off on this backwater Spicoli. I'm going to let the story speak for itself:

  • "This is who I am," the outfielder says, wearing plaid pajama pants and a D-Backs shirt in the bedroom of his Glendale home. "I won't change.

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  • Byrnes' unkempt hair and board-shorts-and-T style is comfortable, but it's a "managed effort," Tarah says. "He puts a lot of effort into looking like a surf bum.

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  • His iPod holds the latest, most popular songs that iTunes suggests. He's "multicultural" when it comes to music, but when he's at a club, he wants a good beat, he says, bobbing his head.

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  • "Love Matthew McConaughey," Byrnes says, looking much like the actor who recently captured attention for living in a motorhome on the beach.

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I have made my argument at least once before but let me reiterate it once again: the Baseball hall of fame is a gigantic sham. The latest reason for my antipathy is this whole asterisk-being-branded-on-Barry-Bonds'-historic-home-run-ball business. Says MLB.com:

(hall of fame vice president Jeff) Idelson has discussed acquiring the ball from Marc Ecko, the hip-hop clothing mogul who purchased it at auction last September for $752,467. When Ecko relinquishes the ball to Cooperstown, Idelson said that it will be displayed with the asterisk that was affixed to it. The red mark reflects the wishes of respondents to an Internet poll who wanted some acknowledgement of Bonds' alleged steroid use.
"The asterisk doesn't implicate Barry," Idelson said. "It's purely a part of the story of how it ended up in Cooperstown. You let the visitor determine how they feel and make their own value judgment. We would never suggest how they value or judge things."

Allow me to re-jigger that quote using a touchstone of American literature:

"The scarlet letter doesn't implicate Prynne," Idelson said. "It's purely a part of the story of how she ended up with a baby out of wedlock. You let the villager determine how they feel and make their own value judgment. We would never suggest how they value or judge things."

See what I did there? Barry Bonds is Hester Prynne! He's not necessarily the most innocent of characters, but for people to focus all their blame on one human being and tarnish someone's reputation with a physical red mark, we're forgetting that there are serious allegations against society as whole in this matter. (Yes, even against baseball officials and the press.) Folks, steroid, HGH, and amphetamine uses were absolutely a part of the culture of baseball for YEARS. This wasn't isolated. Everyone, from Bud Selig all the way down to the peanut vendors, is an accomplice....perhaps we should just brand Selig on the forehead with an asterisk....or a dollar sign.

Scott Rolen May Be Self Destructive; Paranoid

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SadGuy.jpgYesterday's New York Times ran a story about Scott Rolen and his new digs up in Toronto. The story's headline, "Rolen Enjoying New Address: With Toronto, and Far From La Russa," belies the distrubing mental unrest that lies deep within the dark and tortured chasm of Rolen's mind and soul.

When Rolen, was asked if he would agree to an interview, he turned from infielder to interrogator. Rolen wanted to know what kind of questions he would have to field.

There are few conditions more debilitating than chronic paranoia. While I'm no medical expert, I can't help but wonder if the malady is part of a larger condition hinted at in the article: Self Destructive Behavior. The clue comes from midget folk hero David Eckstein:

"Eckstein said Rolen reveled in rumbling into middle infielders, which could be contagious."
While some may call that hustle, history suggests otherwise. WoW intern Darren found two instances of Rolen injuring his shoulder on the basepaths.

"Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen injured his left shoulder in a collision at first base on Tuesday night and was removed from St. Louis' game against the Dodgers... a collision with Arizona's Alex Cintron knocked Rolen out of the 2002 postseason, also with a left shoulder injury."
His continued wreckless abandon can mean only that he loathes the game in which he has made his name, and is trying to sabotage it. Hey this isn't my opinion, it's science.

Just like the theorem that posits if Rolen's shoulder and AJ Burnett's elbow ever touch it will create a black hole. Be careful out there fellas. Mental issues are one thing, destroying the time/space fabric of creation is quite another.
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With the news that oft-injured Moises Alou will miss four to six weeks with a groin injury that requires (ooph) hernia surgery (ouch), the Mets are Officially Shorthanded in the Outfield. If you'll follow me to the Mets' depth chart, you'll notice little teeny inversely-colored first aid symbols next to ALL FOUR LEFTFIELDERS:

  • Moises Alou: groin
  • Endy Chavez: ankle
  • Marlon Anderson: sternum
  • Ben J. Johnson: anonymity

Also hurting: starting center fielder Carlos Beltran, right fielder Ryan Church, and Omar Minaya's ego. Omar is currently considering (a) going back in time and un-trading Lastings Milledge or (b) signing an over-the-hill veteran outfielder. Oh, hey, too bad Dusty Baker is collecting them like Beanie Babies.

I like Moises Alou. He's part of a great baseball family and, when he's healthy, he can rake. And even though he's had a recent history of missing significant chunks of playing time due to torn ACL's and labrums and calves and quads, he has magic urine. And hey, his hurt groin is perfectly placed next to the source.

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According to Mariners' beat writer Kirby Arnold, today's matchup between the Angels and Mariners is no ordinary spring training game:

"After what (the Angels) did to the Mariners last year -- dominating the season series 13-6 and finishing six games ahead in the American League West standings -- it's no surprise the M's want to send an early message. (Mariners manager John) McLaren's lineup today will be filled with regulars -- only third baseman Adrian Beltre (death in the family) and designated hitter Jose Vidro (sore elbow) -- won't play. Among the Mariners' pitchers will be opening-day starter Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow and closer J.J. Putz.

We'll be getting underway any minute now as soon as XM 176 stops playing commercials. Check it out after this irritatingly placed jump:

Carlos Lee Steers Away From Camp; Haha Get It?

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The-Rodeo-Queen2.jpgIn what has to be one of the more interesting clauses in the league, Carlos Lee exercised his contractual option to leave Astros camp and attend a livestock show in Houston. Lee raises Brahman cattle in South America and is one of the top cattleman on that continent. He also owns stake in some Texas cattle.

Much like the Astros, Lee can't compete this year because one of his business associates is a judge.

"It's still a good opportunity because I like the competition. What I'm more worried about is getting good animals in Panama and improving the genetics of the breed there."

Lee sounds like he really knows his stuff, but I'm not sure if "Panamanian Beef: We're Improving Our Genetics!" is a good slogan.

Last year, the slugger and his wife Mary attended the livestock show and got to meet the Bush family. That's some quality aged leather on the faces of Old George and Barbara.

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Tune back in here at 3PM as I will be liveglogging the Anaheim Angels - Seattle Mariners matchup, live from Peoria, Arizona. No, I am not actually in Peoria, or else I'd be dining on In-N-Out burgers right now with Evan Grant.

Yes, I am doing this again. No, I am not insane.

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North County Times staff writer and probable In-N-Out Burger aficionado Dan Hayes is covering the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona; today he gives us this gem about first-base prospect Kyle Blanks, all six-foot-six and 270 pounds of him:

"Kyle Blanks has spent most of camp wearing cornrows and a do-rag. So when manager Bud Black saw a picture of Blanks' letting his hair down he asked to see it live. On Tuesday morning, Blanks accommodated his manager with his afro in all its glory complete with a 1970s era leisure suit."

Blanks was dressing up as part of a team-building exercise that has the players giving individual presentations. His topics? Tony Clark's basketball career, and baseball players from New Mexico. Hm. I didn't realize the Albuquerque Isotopes wore enormous afros and leisure suits.

Frustratingly, no picture accompanies the notes column because that would have been way too entertaining for the reader. If anyone out there in Padres-blog-land (Gas Lamp Ball, I'm looking at you) has a picture of Blanks, send it our way.

MASSIVE UPDATE: Gas Lamp Ball gets the job done.

shows_lose_weight.jpgThe biggest news out of Twins camp is newly svelte Boof Bonser. Homeboy has lost 35 pounds this offseason, which should make it easier on my back picking him up and dropping him 12 times in my fantasy league. Early reports say his stuff looks good, and that's essential to any success Minnesota might have this year. He did it by hiring a nutritionist and upping his activity level. Sounds practical, sounds healthy... but, dude. You're name is Boof. You're supposed to be all tubby.

Regardless of the aesthetics, Twins brass thinks this Al Roker shit is going to have an immediate positive impact his pitching:

"According to Bonser and pitching coach Rick Anderson, he can "finish" his pitches, meaning his gut no longer gets stuck between his chest and thighs like an airbag."

Yeah, I could see how that would be a problem.

Anyone Know If There's An In-N-Out In Peoria, AZ??

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ihascheezburger1.jpgOh wait nevermind. Here it is. In EIGHT DIFFERENT Spring Training columns. Listen, I know it's tough pumping out copy every single day from camp. I'm having a hard enough time and I get to cherry pick from every team in baseball. But, Jesus, I've read about the same goddamn In-N-Out Burger in separate columns from Richard Durrett, Evan Grant, Owen Perkins, Jonah Freedman, Mike Nadel, Greg Hansen (registration required, presumably to identify other burger lovers), and Sean Deveney... twice!

  • "The sky was clear, the air was crisp, the desert was alive and the In-N-Out Burger was open."

  • "There is an In-N-Out Burger spot near the Padres' complex in Peoria, which has four mega-size sports bars close to the baseball complex."

  • "...he tripped on a Peoria sidewalk while walking to In-N-Out Burger to get a salad Monday night."

  • "...the best hamburger chain of them all, In-N-Out Burger. Before taking in a Padres game, be sure to head north a few blocks on 83rd Avenue and have yourself a double."

  • "There's a Cheesecake Factory across the way, as well as Famous Dave's Barbeque. But, for me, going to Peoria means In-N-Out burgers."

The IT department at my job spends a good part of the day eating and talking about food. Every time I walk into their office there's an empty box of croissants with buttery grease stains making the bottom all translucent and it sticks to the table. It makes me want to puke. I'm starting to get the same feeling reading some of these sportswriters all day.

Greg+Brady+tiki.jpgSome writers have tried to manufacture excitement this spring by getting their shorts in a knot over the 2008 Tigers. I'd like to tell those same handsome writers to please take a closer look at what's going on with the Detroit bullpen.

Already the relief staff is being ravaged by arm trouble and governmental issues. Matt Mantei's comeback looks like it's over before it's even had a chance to start. With Joel Zumaya out till the All-Star Break, Fernando Rodney needs to be a rock in the set up slot, but now he's suffering from soulder tendinitis. Francisco Cruceta has so far been unable to obtain a visa which would, you know, allow him to come to the United States which, in my opinion, is crucial to being an effective reliever.

This early in the season you don't want to panic. That's why I think the logical move here is to completely demoilish Joker Marchant Stadium, spring training home of the Tigers. The place is clearly built on a haunted Seminole Indian Burial ground. You don't mess around with this shit. Giant floating ghost feathers and flaming arrowheads can really affect team chemistry. One minute Jim Leyland (that asshole) is lighting up a tasty Pall Mall, the next he's being lifted above the mound by the spirit of Cowkeeper while the trees around the stadium weep blood and the on-deck circle is ringed with blue flame. That's a tough environment to take honest stock of your youngsters.

Perhaps the wisdom of still healthy reliever Jason Grilli can guide them through these tough times. He's always had a knack for making lemonade out of limes.

Updates: The Tigers just released Mantei. He will retire. Also, Jim Leyland (that asshole): not an anal rapist.
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The Cincinnati Reds have lost Jay Bruce and Jerry Gil, two outfielders I've never heard of, to injury in the past week so like any terribly managed, hyper reactive team would do, they signed two aging veterans to minor league deals. And not just any aging veterans:

"The Cincinnati Reds on Monday signed both Corey Patterson and Jerry Hairston Jr. to minor-league contracts. Both players played for (Dusty) Baker when he managed the Cubs. Now they get a shot to make his Reds team."

It's a reunion of the 2005 Cubs team! Todd Hollandsworth is waiting anxiously by his phone, Dusty. Glendon Rusch needs work! Jody Gerut is bored as heck! Give 'em a jingle!

Patterson's on-base percentage with the Orioles last year was .314; Jerry Hairston was even better (read: worse) with a measly .249 OBP for the Texas Rangers. These are true Dusty Baker style players: they are gentlemanly enough not to clog the bases. They're polite enough to return to the dugout after their at-bats, probably to refresh Dusty's toothpick.

True story: after a Red Sox-Orioles game last year, I went out to dinner with my friends on Newbury Street and saw Patterson and fellow Oriole outfielder Jay Payton waiting by the bar in the restaurant. This is the least interesting Gawker Stalker story in the history of forever.

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Maybe he's just upset about not being the face of the franchise, but Giants pitcher Noah Lowry has had two very bad outings to begin his Spring. Says blogger The Sporting Green:

"Noah Lowry's out in the second inning of today's game after walking nine batters and throwing a few more balls off the screen behind home plate. Two spring outings, two control disasters."

That's two and a third innings pitched in two starts with 12 walks, 6 runs, 1 strikeout, 2 wild pitches, an ERA over 23, but only 2 hits. Hey, Giants fans, don't worry! He only gave up two hits! And if you wait seven years and give the kid some HGH, you'll finally have a starting leftfielder to replace Barry Bonds.

Our own Camp Tiger Claw suffered some control problems, too, at the tender age of 10. He threw a no-hitter but walked seven Little Leaguers in the process. He was like a miniature AJ Burnett, except without the repeated elbow surgeries, fingernail injuries, and douchebag rock bands.

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Commenter Matt T sends along this delicious nugget about Jeff Francoeur re-upping with the Braves for another one-year contract:

Francoeur spoke to the AJC while picking up a Chick-fil-A sandwich on his way to meet teammates John Smoltz and Tom Glavine for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

Goddamnit I am so jealous! we don't have any Chick-fil-A's up here in North Jersey. Maybe because, you know, we're heathens who like to eat fast food on Sundays. Eat mor chikn? I'd love to, wacky cows, but your nutjob Southern Baptist founder doesn't seem to like New Jersey Catholics!

I could care less about the golfing with Tiger Woods thing. Who in their right mind wants to play golf with Tiger Woods? How about afterwards I play one-on-one with Dirk Nowitzki and then try to chase down an antelope with a cheetah? If I had the opportunity, I'd try playing Tiger Woods in RBI Baseball on the NES...something where I at least stand a chance.

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

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kick out da jams Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions. To read past weeks, click here.

According to Craig Finn, the kids out on the West Coast are screwing in the surf, getting high and riding around in GTOs (and I find that he's generally right on about these things). I have no problem with this. But if their parents are at all concerned, I would urge them to contact their local American League GM and see if they can get some more dynamic superstars to hold peoples' attention.

Last season the Angels casually held a lead for nearly the entire summer, while Seattle made some laid back runs at maybe taking over first place, but never really getting their panties in a bunch about it, man. After the jump, let's see if we can find some excitement for 2008.
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Camp Tiger Claw and I have had a baseball blog for one month, which, in Internet time is like seven years. Therefore, we are considered 'experts'. At least Matt Sussman and Tuffy of the BC Sports Treehouse Fort radio show think so, as your Walkoff Walk editors will be the guests on tonight's show.

Yes, one guy with a real name and one guy with an alias will interview one guy with a real name and one guy with an alias. Only on Internet radio, kids! We'll be previewing the American League East division, otherwise known as The Battle to Finish in Third Place Behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Tune in at 8PM EST. You can even join in a chatroom or something and proposition Tuffy for sex, I think.

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The National League wild card race will probably be as close this season as it was last season; the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, Mets, Braves and Phillies all have a chance to win 90 games. So Padres manager Bud Black isn't taking any chances in case there is a tie at the end of the year like there was in 2007. He's holding coin-tossing practice:

"Toward the end of a recent media session, Black pulled out a quarter and told general manager Kevin Towers to practice. Black then began flipping the coin, with Towers calling heads all four times. The first two were tails; the latter two were tails. Last season, Towers called heads for all but one coin toss to determine the site of potential one-game, tiebreaker playoffs. The one time he called tails resulted in the Padres going to Denver, where they lost to the Rockies in a one-game playoff."

Um, Bud...you realize that a coin toss is a discrete-time stochastic process that cannot be predicted and more importantly cannot be practiced. Worst of all, Bud, you're stuck in the Monte Carlo fallacy. The probability of an event in a random sequence is not dependent on preceding events! I think I still have my college probability textbook at home if you'd like to peruse it sometime. (full disclosure: there are doodles of naked chicks in the margins)

Perhaps Major League Baseball should get rid of the coin-toss completely and replace it with Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now that's a contest that requires some practice and skill.

Conditioning With Kosuke Fukudome

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Kosuke Fukdome is this year's hot Japanese baseball import. He's had a lot of offseason work to do as he was injured for most of his last season in Japan. Add that to all of the cultural adjustments he's had to make along with his new $48 million contract, and well... it's been an eventful few months. This behind the scenes look was sent to us by one of our tipsters.

Conditioning With Mark Mulder

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Mark Mulder is trying to work his way back into playing shape after shoulder surgery that ended his 2007 season. One of our tipsters sent in this video of Mulder trying to get back in the swing of things with the rest of his Cardinal coaches and teammates.