September 2008 Archives

To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. Famed Joe Beimel fan Troy from West Virginia puts together a ten-minute video opus reviewing the Dodgers playoff roster and being generally awesome:


Thanks, Troy.

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Consider this post to serve as your landing point to discuss the one game playoff between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. I'll be on and off as the night progresses to share my awful witticisms, but I will not be true-glogging until the Brewers-Phillies tilt tomorrow afternoon. But hey, I made an amusing Photoshop to accompany this, so cut me some slack, Jack.

The game is on TBS and the live boxscore is at Yahoo. John Danks! Nick Blackburn! Playoff baseball is sorta happening in semiglog format!

7:43PM: Joe Mauer's lead in the batting race is 4 points. If he goes 0-for-5 tonight, Dustin Pedroia will earn the AL batting title and a severe increase in my ire. I love me some Joe Mauer.

7:53PM: Nice to hear Harold Reynolds being paid to talk about baseball again. Look out, Dick Stockton! He's trying to hug you!

7:58PM: Reynolds makes the case for Gardenhire to win the AL Manager of the Year award. Hal obviously didn't read CTC's latest Tavern Talking Points.

8:03PM: If we are forced to watch these Holiday Inn Express ads that are slowly eroding Philip Baker Hall's street cred throughout the entire playoff run, I am going to Polsky Punch myself in the face.

8:08PM: Major political news that means absolutely nothing to the outcome of this game: Gwen Ifill broke her ankle, y'all! But she's still gonna do her best to let Sarah Palin humiliate herself on Thursday night, so no worries.

8:13PM: On second thought, Governor Palin may say one or two intelligent things on Thursday night which will cause the entire mediasphere to laud her gumption. Hey, isn't it unfair that the location of this game was decided by coinflip? Shouldn't MLB decide it based on the season series betwixt the two teams (won by Minny)?

8:18PM: Sure, nobody's reading, but I'm getting some serious practice time in for the real playoffs, starting tomorrow at 3PM on www.walkoffwalk.com! John Danks is working very hard this inning. How's that Chicago bullpen, kids?

8:23PM: This is the part of the semiglog where I jinx John Danks, who has yet to allow a hit on any of his 50 pitches over three innings.

8:28PM: Really, Timothy Hutton? Really? You're still coasting on that Oscar for Ordinary People from 28 years ago? I hope your new TBS show THAT SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED fails miserably, despite how much I loved Beautiful Girls.

8:33PM: I also don't like the T-Mobile family plan commercial where the teen daughter wants to get with a mustachioed suitor and the dad wants to bang some lady at his kid's soccer game. Way to humiliate the American Family, major cellular phone company!

8:38PM: It's quite refreshing to semiglog a game that y'all are watching anyway. Having to talk about actual game details is such a drag. Still, huge check-swing strikeout of Thome by Nick Blackburn right there.

8:43PM: One hour in and we've got a scoreless game in the fifth inning. That's my kinda game. And despite the irritating run of commercials, I couldn't be happier with two-thirds of the announcing crew. I'm looking at you, Ron Darling.

8:48PM: I'm sorry, but how long has Ken Griffey had that Johnny-Damonesque noodle arm? Sheesh, the dude is just begging to be DH-ified at this point.

8:49PM: And of course on the very next play, Griff throws out Cuddyer trying to tag up at home plate. Kudos, sir.

8:57PM: Anyone out there want to write a playoff preview for the Angels? We got nothing.

9:05PM: Gotta be duly impressed with Mr. John Danks tonight. Who thought the kid could make this happen on just three days' rest? Six shutout innings against the third highest scoring team in the AL? They'll take it.

9:08PM: Hal Reynolds just mentioned Kenny Rogers allowing the walkoff walk for the Mets back in the 1999 playoffs without saying the words "walkoff walk". Thanks for nothing, Hal.

9:14PM: Joey Mauer is now 0-for-3 and down to .328 on the year. He's but two points ahead of Pedroia. Christ on a pogo stick, John Danks is DEALING.

9:19PM: Jim Thome's solo ding-dong puts the ChiSox up 1-0.

9:24PM: If you're not rooting for Ken Griffey to make it back to the playoffs for just the third time in his storied career, then you're just not rooting for Ken Griffey to make it back to the playoffs for just the third time in his storied career.

9:29PM: "The "blackout" gimmick in the stands is actually pretty cool looking."
Yes, if you are a Raiders fan. Oh, I just zinged Honeynut Ichiros! Zing!

9:34PM: Say what you will about Delmon Young making that catch to prevent the White Sox from scoring and keep the Twins in the game, but Delmon Young just made a catch to prevent the White Sox from scoring and kept the Twins in the game. DAMMIT DAD! JUST LET YOUR WHORE DAUGHTER CALL THE MUSTACHIOED BOY!

9:39PM: My laundry is done and needs to be folded. This is why I am merely semi-glogging.

9:46PM: Joe Nathan in the eighth? It's as if the Twins' season were on the line or something!

9:53PM: Bobby Jenks is in to attempt to close this fucker out for the White Sox. I put his chances of success at 85%.

9:58PM: Brian Anderson's web gem wins it for the White Sox. Good for them. Best of luck with the Rays. Thanks for joining me on this semiglog, Honeynut Ichiros and the gang.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, one witness.
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  • WHO will win and mercifully put an end to the AL Central blahpocalypse?
Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and the last of our playoff previews. Same WoW time, new playoffy WoW channel.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Geoff Decker awards ESPN's Keith Law with the prognostication award for picking four of the six division winners correctly. Mike Greenberg brings up the rear. Zing! Where I Stand.

  • Doug Glanville pens a letter to Padres rookie Will Venable. Letter gets misplaced and ends up published in major newspaper. News at 11. New York Times.

  • Some background on the Albuquerque Isotopes and the fellas who created the mascot name back in 1990 for the Simpsons. L.A. Daily News.

  • Vegas Watch interviews MGM Mirage's sportsbook guy and learns that the casino will lose their shirts if the Rays win it all. In other words, don't count on the Rays to win. Vegas Watch.

  • The New York Sun is folding. The entire organization, not just the actual newsprint on paper product they put out. All newspapers fold. Here's one last huzzah. New York Sun.

  • Nuns gone wild. If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Copycats.
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Pitchers Brad Lidge and Cliff Lee won the Comeback Player of the Year awards for their respective leagues today as voted on by a bunch of MLB.com beat writers. Lidge converted every single save opportunity he got on his plate, keeping the Phillies on track for a division title. Lee led the American League in wins, is favored to win the Cy Young award, and most improbably, he actually made Steve Phillips look smart. But Lee really earned this award because of his miserable season a year ago:

Lee won 46 games from 2004-06, but a strained abdominal muscle kept him on the sidelines during Spring Training last year, and he fought an uphill battle the rest of the way in a frustrating 2007 that also included a stint in the Minor Leagues.

Fella got hurt, worked his way back into the Major League rotation, and spent a season owning the Royals and Tigers. Sounds like a comeback to me. What about Lidge?

Lidge was traded by Houston to the Phillies last November after going 5-3 with 19 saves and a 3.36 ERA for the Astros in 2007.

OMIGOD WHAT A MASSIVE HUMAN INTEREST STORY. THAT GENTLEMAN OVERCAME TRUE EMOTIONAL HARDSHIPS TO SUCCEED. Please...Lidge went from saving 75% of his opportunities to saving 100%. That's not a comeback, that's a ridiculously great improvement in closing skills by an above-average closer. Wait, are the writers giving him this award because he gave that massive NLCS home run to Albert Pujols three years ago? C'mon guys! What about Gabe Kapler coming back from teaching high school to man the Brewers outfield?!?

"Nicely Done, Salomon"

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Brewers fans are certainly savoring their first postseason appearance in 26 years. 14,188 people turned out for a team sendoff at the Summerfest grounds, right there on the lake. What is usually home to snoozy crap like Brett Michaels or the BoDeans came alive when WoW favorite Salomon Torres strutted up to the mic in a robin's egg blue suit and grabbed the crowd like a sausage. Please to enjoy.

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Throw out the pitching rotations, the lineup permutations, the season records, and the opinions of fanboys. The only way to figure out who is going to win in the playoffs is gambling with local foodstuffs:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a bet with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for the divisional baseball playoff series that starts Wednesday. Barrett is putting Usinger sausages on the line against Philadelphia's famous cheese steaks.

That's an easy one, but what about the other mayors of the other towns that will be hosting playoff baseball? There's only one way to answer that question in the sportsblogosphere: a listicle with totally made-up information!

What'd I miss?

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So I did what any normal baseball blogger would do on the final weekend of the regular season, just as the final playoff matchups were getting set and walkoff walks were going down: I went to Montreal. Yes, just as the Mets were falling face-first into their frittatas I went to a place that Major League Baseball disgracefully disowned four years ago in favor of this place.

But despite the absence of Youppi, Montreal folks still enjoy their baseball. My girlfriend and I popped back into our hotel room on Saturday just in time to catch the end of Johan Santana's gem to keep the Mets alive followed by both the beginning of the Phillies' win over the Nats and the Twins heartbreaking loss to the Royals. Three baseball games on a Saturday afternoon? It must be great to have no broadcast obligations to local teams!

True, Olympic Stadium still stands empty and talk about a minor league team coming to Montreal can't even make it out of the message board phase, but baseball fans still live in Montreal. Heck, bring a Major League team back via expansion and they'd still draw 2 million fans.

Other evidence that baseball is still alive in Montreal: I saw a guy wearing an Expos t-shirt on the Metro. What more do you need?

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Alexei Ramirez may not have enough juice to beat Evan Longoria for the American League Rookie of the Year but the kid's fourth tetra tot of the season was juicy enough to keep the Chicago White Sox season alive. Detroit's Gary Glover came into the game in the fifth with the bases bloated and promptly coughed up the king dong to Ramirez, who celebrated by giving manager Ozzie Guillen what the kids are calling "high fives". Ramirez' fourth graham slam tied Albert Belle's eleven-year-old rookie record and helped his team tie a franchise record (12) for most quadro-pops in a season. Also, I just set a record for most euphemisms for 'grand slam' in a single paragraph.

So what now? The White Sox are going to host that one-game playoff with the Twins for the AL Central crown and the right to play the Rays in the ALDS. John Danks will pitch for Chicago while the Twins will send out Ozzie's favorite pitcher Nick Blackburn. As hosts, the Sox have the right to employ novelty ideas like 'blackouts':

"We will have 40,000 black rally towels, and hopefully, 40,000 fans using them in support of the team," said White Sox vice president and chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer of the unique support system. "Hopefully, it will be pretty darn intimidating, and the Twins can see how it's done Chicago style."

Oh, great. That concept worked out so well for the Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend. Ladies and gentlefolks, I present your 2008 AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins.

Tonight's Questions

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baby-lobster.jpgHey kids, you can save the Koala or you can save the leaf.

  • WHEN are they gonna get this game in?

  • WHO will win it when they do?

  • EVER have dreams like this?

Think we'll have any answers tomorrow? Think we've ever had any to begin with? Oh how I long for the security of being carried around in a giant pot.

See you tomorrow with more previews and other assorted assortments.

Boston Red Sox Playoff Preview: Me

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. But not this one. There was no way I was letting anyone else take the Red Sox. So here's Kris "CTC" Liakos of the mildly unhated Walkoff Walk.

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The Red Sox have won an average of 93.1 games over the past 7 years. In the seven years prior to that, they won an average of 86 games. All that is to say, what was once a decent team has upped their year in and year out performance to a much higher level, and while the playoffs aren't expected every year, it sure is tougher to take when they don't get there.

But this year was a relative cruise toward October. Since Boston had been making the postseason with some frequency without winning their division for a dozen or so years, it's hard to summon any righteous indignation about not winning the division, and "if we don't win it, I hope the Rays do" has become a phrase just as overused here as anywhere else in the United States of Baseball.

But if you're under the impression that I'm not freaking out about the playoffs, you're sorely mistaken and the only reason I haven't pissed my jeans is because the Brewers thought of it first and I'm no copycat.

A couple weeks back I was high high high on this team's chances to repeat. I felt like Ortiz was coming around at the right time, Bay was filling in respectably for Manny and the entire right side of the infield was getting MVP consideration.

Since then injuries, and the soft underbelly they revealed, have me seriously questioning their ability to go the distance. Josh Beckett's oblique strain is an injury that is rarely seen in public without the word "nagging." That leaves the rotation, after Jon Lester, pretty light. At first glance Matsuzaka's numbers are great, but once you look more closely at his WHIP, and more importantly, watch him pitch every game hanging off a ledge by his fingernails, he does little to inspire confidence. Tim Wakefield is impossible to predict and Paul Byrd gets hit harder than one of John Bonham's floor toms.

Injuries in the lineup to JD Drew and Mike Lowell have allowed weaknesses to appear form other places. Jed Lowrie has redefined the rookie wall and Mark Kotsay may still be the gosh darned nicest guy in the game but hasn't been hitting anything. In a situation where even a playing Mike Lowell may be limited to DH, there is a huge burden on many guys that may not be a-list players.

The bullpen has been marginally better down the stretch, and this team still won 95 games. I like their chances against the Angels because, well, the Angels are overrated. But after that. Color me a pessimist. I'm not sure what color that would be, but when you figure it out feel free to color me in it. Paint, crayon whatever.

Why do I sound so terminally negative? Things haven't chaged all that much for a lifelong Sox fan. It takes more than 7 years.

Lament: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Tigers at White Sox: Zzz. Nothing at stake here.

POANED. I JUST POANED YOU. This is a super rad make up prelude to a one game playoff. As if that wasn't cool enough, the two starters today, Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd, were once traded for each other. Apparently Garcia and Guillen are good friends and some think that may dim the starter's intensity a little. I think that's unlikely. Just like the Marlins capitalized on their chance to get one last good punch on a division rival, I expect the Tigers to do the same.

Add that to the fact to the Tigers need only 181 runs today to make my 1000 run prediction come true, and the White Sox could very well go home losers today, leaving us all with a hole in our heart, unfilled by a one game playoff. It will be right next to the one that renders you unable to commit to someone leaving you perpetually alone.

Unfortunately, we don't have the resources at our disposal to glog this one today, so please make this thread a free for all once it gets going. Bring your funny.

Chicago Cubs Playoff Preview: Kevin Kaduk

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. We start it off with one of our closest baseball buddies, Kevin Kaduk of the juggernaut that is Big League Stew.

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Ladies and gentlemen of Walkoff Walk, if I were to preview the Cubs' World Series chances here in a few words, it would be with the simple text I received from a Brewers fan after his trip to Wrigley earlier this season.

"You son of a bitch. Even your shitty players are good."

Very succinct, yes, considering it targets guys like Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot.

In fact, I'd challenge anyone to find 11 better words to describe the '08 Cubs.

But since I don't think that Rob and CTC want me to email this in like they do their day jobs -- hey, those guys post more on WoW than a Twittering twelve-year-old on Rockstar Energy drink -- allow me to expound on the first five things that come to mind regarding the glorious month that awaits Lou Piniella and His Merry Band of 100-Year Drought Breakers:

1) There is no such thing as The Billy Goat Curse: Oh, I'm sure Jeannie Z. and Joe B. will try to convince you otherwise on no less than 300 occasions during FOX's coverage, but the truth is that everyone with a brain here in Wrigleyville moved past that garbage once Lou came in and shot us a look that said, "Do I look like the type of guy who'd participate in such nonsense? You cut that crap right now or I'll give this job right back to Dusty Baker."

(Actually, I think the look said, "What did you just say? The Purse of the Moat? Ah, hell, what time is dinner?" but I don't think Lou would have approved even if he had heard correctly. Anyway, the Curse is gone. Please join me in plugging your ears and humming any time it is brought up.)

2) "It's Gonna Happen" is NOT the official team slogan: You've probably seen this infernal sign a few times through the year. Hell, Sports Illustrated keeps insisting on putting it in the pages of its magazine and even though I chastised one of their editors at the All-Star Game for doing so, it again turned up in the pages of that boring Gary Smith bleachers piece. But to set the record straight one more time: No self-respecting Cubs fan likes that slogan even a little bit. It was made up by that clown who charged Randy Myers back in '95. It failed in Boston and has now somehow survived almost two seasons at Wrigley Field, pissing me off any time I see it with its grammatical carelessness. If I ever meet that guy, I'm GONNA punch him.

3) The players are the main story, not the fans: I realize that sounds weird from someone who cashed a few checks from writing a book about being a Cubs fan, but as the postseason wears on, I'm hoping that the guys on the field get their fair share of credit for putting together one helluva season in the face of injuries to star players, a subpar season from Derrek Lee and the pressure of high expectations. Oh, we're sure to hear all about the 99-year-old women who were born the day of the last Cubs' title win and about the couple who traded two of their children for a pair to Game Three, but in the end it will be the players who achieve this feat, not the collective nobility and perseverance of our fan base.

4) A National League win in the All-Star Game would've been nice: I know that we're jumping to a lot of conclusions here in Chicago about the World Series, but the best record in the National League -- only the Phillies scare me more than a little bit -- should be enough for us to look a little ahead. That said, wouldn't it have been cool to see Wrigley Field glowing on the first pitch of a World Series? Instead, thanks to the AL win at Yankee Stadium, we're likely going to have to suffer through two games at the drab Trop before kicking off the party back here in the Chi. The only salvation? Opening up at Fenway.

5) In a way, it feels like the Cubs season starts on Wednesday. In my quarter-century or so of following the Cubs, I can safely say I've never been through an easier season this one. The Cubs have held a share of first place since May 11 and a postseason appearance always seemed inevitable. Even when they tanked a bit in September, I never got all that worried, because this season was always about what was going to happen in October. The Cubs now have the best team on the field in my lifetime and it's time for them to prove it. The biggest challenge of '08 is finally here.

Am I nervous? Oh, hell yes, it's the Cubs.

But they've got the guns to do it.

But they're not GONNA do it.

They WILL do it.

My Worst Fears Confirmed: Man Pees For Brewers

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So here's the first YouTube of some dude peeing his pants for the Brewers. This is not a euphemism. You've been warned.

We Still Won't Call It A Collapse

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Congratulations to the Brewers of Milwaukee, obtainers of the NL Wild Card. After playing baseball like a bunch of actual employees from the Miller Factory to begin the month of September, the Brewers rebounded just well enough down the stretch to earn their first playoff berth since 1982. The year of my birth.

Before we get to the Mets, let's not discount what a remarkable few weeks it's been for The Crew. With the exception of a couple weeks when they were within striking distance of the Cubs, they've pretty much been playing for the Wild Card all season. They started Sepetember 3-11 before their manager got fired with 12 regular season games left. Their interim hire, Dale Sveum was met with snickers and more than a little derision, yet here they are. 7-5 under Sveum and in the playoffs. That sealed the deal because... oh fine let's talk about the Mets.

After the Mets fired Willie Randolph, they received that coveted new manager "bounce" that the Brewers did, but it appears they just did it too early. No amount of Manuel/Delgado magic could make up for the universally maligned bullpen, the injuries to John Maine and the professional death of Pedro Martinez. This team went 4-6 in their last ten. Not good, to be sure. But hardly the epic collapse that the bloodthirsty masses will be labeling it this morning.

It was just horrible timing for a minor downturn.

Update: I had totally forgotten about this, until reading Big League Stew this morning. I expect some horrifying pictures to be making their way out of Milwaukee anytime now.

Late Start

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It's playoff week. We've got all kinds of treats lined up for these next couple weeks, and we'll hit the ground running in an hour or so. We've got previews, recaps and possibly even some homemade moonshine that I distilled in the tank of my toilet. To tide you over for the next 60, here's a picture taken IN PERSON of last night's final regular season walkoff walk. Esteemed friend of WoW, Tuffy , was there and sends along this picture postcard.

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Holy Mother of Christ! My prayers have been answered! Luis Vizcaíno LOLs Chris Young to first and the game is over. Randy Johnston earns the 295th win of his storied career. Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

The House That Mookie Built

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home-run-apple.jpgWhile all the world was clambering for its final good-natured cavity search upon entry to Fortress Steinbrenner, the red headed step child of New York baseball is quietly on its way out also.

Good old Shea Stadium, the home to the New York Metropolitans, will host its last game Sunday afternoon. Shea is one of the original concrete toilet bowls and one of the few remaining (sigh) multipurpose stadiums in baseball. This less-than-hallowed ground has been the site of fourteen playoff series, host to two World Series champions, the cokiest team in recent memory, three dozen flight paths, an infamous Subway Series, and the best catch I've ever seen mid flight to Vegas. A field that played host to Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Gary Fucking Carter, and of course, Bill Buckner.

Fitting that Shea goes out with a relative whimper as its sole tenant does the vary same. The Mets seemed to recover from last season's epic fail, holding a two game division lead just three week ago. Now Shea's final hurrah will be different than the Yankee Stadium's in another big way: massive playoff implications. The Mets are tied with the Brewers for the wild card. Win and you've got a shot, lose and you're hoping for a one game playoff.

Mets fans will even be deprived of a cathartic explosion to cleanse the bad feeling of Shea's final years. Instead, it will be disassembled and sold back to the them piece by piece. Who doesn't like a good stadium explosion?

Perhaps Oliver Perez will twirl a gem today, sending the Mets on an improbable winning streak, punctuated by a dramatic victory in game 6 of the World Series. Will that ensure Shea Stadium the emotional send-off that nearby parks received? More importantly, does anybody care?

Image courtesy of the Hot Foot Mets Blog

Please Don't Go Baseball

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parking.jpgThe final day of the year! Worst day ever?

Games that matter: CC Sabathia will try to vault the Brewers into the post season on short rest against the Baby Bears, who send the starters out today. Strongly Worded Letter received! The hopes and dreams of the Mets rest on Oliver Perez's shoulders when he takes on Scott Olsen. Who else but Mark Buehrle leads the White Sox against the Tribe. Cliff Lee has been scratched from his start due to a stiff neck, a common symptom of acute vaginitis. The Indians send Bryan Bullington to the mound and while the rest of the rotation follows Lee to the bathroom. The Twins send Scott Baker against Brandon Duckworth in Minnesota with clinching on his mind.

Games the don't: Dice K is all that stands between Mike Mussina and 20 wins. I suddenly wish Dice K was taller. Tim Lincecum will remind Giants fans to renew their season tickets against the Dodgers. Kyle Kendrick better have his fun today, because he won't be around for the playoffs. Joe Saunders hopes to get some conditioning in so Angels don't have to use Jon Garland as a starter in the first round. Announcing you aren't good enough to start a post season game makes you agent really happy as you head into free agency. Will Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnston be on the field for the last time today? Old men are notoriously fickle.

I'm officially excited for the playoffs now. Many wacky scenarios are still out there, so there may be all sorts of make up baseball. If you cheer for a shitty team like me, spend today saying your good byes before leaping onto a speeding bandwagon on Wednesday. Remember the Rayvolution is inclusive. You'll be loved.
whalebaby.jpgLast night should have gone a long way in deciding the playoff match ups. Everybody but the Phillies opted to go the maximum drama - minimum competence route. Doesn't anybody want to play in the postseason? Didn't think I'd ever see the day.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Champagne bukkake! Just as the pervert ordered. Jimmy Rollins turned a bad ass double play to end the game and the Phillies are the champs of the NL East. Brad Lidge was shaky but Phillies Phans threatened him with 45,177 towel-whips until he shut the door. They'll won't learn their first round opponent until tomorrow because Johan Santana is cartoonishly good. The man sacked up and pitched a gem, leaving the Mets a fighting chance to join their hated rivals in October.

AL Central 0, You -1: OMG! The division title has cooties. I don't want to touch it, YOU take it. GROSS! The team ends up watching rather than playing baseball in October has only themselves to blame. "It's only from a lack of trying" they'll say. King Meche decreed this insipid filth continues one more day by shutting down the Twins. The White Sox fell behind 7-1 but staged a late rally to bring the game within 2. Surrendering 4 runs in the following frame all but sealed our fate. Prediction: both teams lose tomorrow, forcing Chicago to make up a rainout against the Tigers. Win that and we're all treated to Attrition in the Wind - a one game playoff for the Division No One Wants.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Dale Sveum rolled the dice like a drunken college student at an Indian casino. While Dale Sveum's Ben Sheets gamble won't find him eating dirt until his parents send him another check, he'll think long and hard about the insidious nature of risk & reward. Sheets's first start in two weeks was a rough one, allowing the Cubs bench to knock him around for less than three innings. The damage is done and this messy business won't be clean until the end of the day.

It rained all over the AL East, home run dudes (Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, and Miguel Cabrera) hit home runs, Greg Maddux won might could be the final regular season start of his career, and the wives of rich men made vacation plans. All in all a good night. Today's probably our last chance for shrimp; let's hope for the best.
Rosie.jpgIn bold defiance of baseball cronyism 101, the Seattle Mariners are openly considering Dodgers Assistant GM and proud uterine owner Kim Ng for their vacant General Manager's position. Mariners president Chuck Armstrong examined his teams $100 million dollar payroll and 100 loss season and decided he wasn't on the right track:

"It's time for some fresh thinking," Armstrong said at the end of his 23rd season with the team -- what he called his worst and most "miserable" one.

"We're color blind, gender blind," he went on to say. "We just want the best person that we think would be the best person for the Mariners as we move forward."


This Kim Ng character sounds like another Title IX charity case to me. Baseball America named her a GM prospect in their "Top Tools" issue? Big deal. Working for two of the higest profile, successful, & most storied franchises in baseball in her 17 years in the game, one of which was named Organization of The Year under her tenure while the other reached the World Series 4 times under her watch? Pfft. Isn't there a a colourful ex-player available? You know, the kind of guy that actually played them game. Hopefully a guy that barely graduated high school before moving directly into the minor league system. If you can't find one of them, how about a chili dogs and diet Coke scout? Those guys always come to a situation with a clear mind and the determination to wipe the slate clean.

We all know the obvious thing Kim Ng can do to bolster her meager case: shoot a moose in the face.

luke.gifAnother Saturday and another legend passes. At least today's legend lived a long & glorious life. Hopefully people get to play some baseball today, Coach Dunlop would have wanted it that way.

When it's early: Just one early start today and it's a biggun. The Mets need to win both their remaining games to stay in Wild Card contention. Johan Santana is going on three days rest against Marlins quasi-ace Ricky Nolasco. No rational human would ever accuse Johan of not holding up his end of the bargain, but a loss today will be remember a lot longer than his total number of quality starts.

When it's Foxy: Fox plans on carpet bombing the nation with baseball coverage. Four games to choose from, with varying levels of importance. The Twins can't hope to do anything in the playoffs if they can't beat Gil Meche and the Royals. The Phillies can stage a champagne bukkake party right on their home field if they sneak by the mighty Nats. Depending on the Mets outcome, a Brewers win over the Cubs might lock up a spot in the playoffs for the first time since Prince Fielder was skinny. The Yankees and Red Sox play too. Dice K's looking for his 19th Win. I'll give you a dollar if he pitches past the 6th.

When it's pointless: Only the White Sox have anything left to play for tonight. They send the embattled Javy Vasquez against the traveled Zack Jackson. At least Ozzie has somebody set up to take the fall. Another chance to belittle Dontrelle Willis presents itself tonight. I take that back, he seems like a likable dude that forgot how to pitch. He won 22 games in 2005! Brandon Webb has 22 wins this year, and a chance to pick up his 23rd tonight. He would also guarantee the Snakes a winning record. Which has to count for something.

I sure these games aren't washed away. If they are, watch Cool Hand Luke twice. It's as good as movies get.
pedro.jpgCome rejoice in last night's action. You can cool your calloused heels numbed by travel.

Brewers 5, Cubs 1: This one matters right? The Brewers ensured control of their own fate with a big win against the Cubs. Rickie Weeks hit a big time tater tot to support the inexplicable good pitching of Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung. McClung struck out 6 in 4 shut out innings. Credit to the Cubs for sending out their regular everyday lineup in meaningless game for them. The Astros got a walkoff koffin korner kick from Darin Erstad to beat the Braves while Troy Glaus's sac fly pushed the Cardinals ahead of the Reds. Albert Pujols padded his MVP stats with his 36th prodigious clout of the year.

Royals 8, Twins 1: Enjoy your time in the sun, Royals fans. The lukewarm (4 wins in a row, 8 of 10) Royals embraced their role as spoilers in the Division No One Wants. Billy Butler hit a tot as did big time slugger Mike Alives. The Twins maintained their half game edge thanks to Ryan Garko and his Indians. Garko's tetra tot keyed a six run inning from which the Sox could not recover. These teams combined for 6 tots; even par for the AL Central.

Phillies 8, Nationals 4: This hardly seems fair to the much maligned Mets. The Nats 100th loss of the season lowered the Phillies magic number to 1. Ryan Howard hit a home run and a double, knocking in 4. Dude has been off his ass down the stretch, posting an 1.302 OPS for the month of September. That's absurd ya'll. Much like the Mets, who put forth a tepid, uninspired effort when it "mattered". The Mets used 8 different pitchers, two that didn't record an out and two that only got one each. Tony LaRussa called Jerry Manuel after the game to praise his micromanagement skills. Hanley Ramirez (4 for 5) wore the crown of National League shortstops; last night and forever.

Yankees - Ambien, Red Sox - Lunesta: 27 runs, 127 minutes of rain delay, 5 homers, and Yankee runs in every inning but the 6th. Cody Ransom hit two home runs on a night that will best be remembered for...absolutely nothing. Not even Cody Ransom will ever think about this game again. The Jays and O's game was so meaningless, they stopped playing in the seventh inning and decided to go home. Everyone was okay with this.

Giants 6, Dodgers 5: Three blown saves? We're playing NL West ball now kids! Russ Martin thought he was the hero, but Jonathon Broxton promptly gave the lead away. As the team's only remaining fat guy, the urgency to attack the post-game spread was lacking. Some wackiness involving instant replay saw this game played under protest until the Giants realized nobody gave a shit.

There might be all manner of clinching today. Check back in and we'll see who will clinch and who will clench.

Image of a broken man via Getty Images and Yahoo

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, try and find your place in the sun.

  • ARE we going to get any games in on the East Coast? I went out for lunch and there is still water squishing around in my shoes.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Indians/White Sox series? They're Lewis vs. Danks, Jackson vs. Vasquez and Lee vs. Buehrlehehe

  • DO you know the matchups for the Royals/Twins series? They're Davies vs. Liriano, Meche vs. Perkins and Duckworth vs. Baker.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Marlins/Mets series? They're Volstand vs. Pelfrey, TBD (who's that?) vs. Nolasco and Santana vs. Olsen.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Nats/Phillies series? They're Balester vs. Blanton, Lannan vs. Moyer and Perez vs. Hamels.

  • DO you know the matchups in the Cubs/Brewers series? They're Dempster vs. Suppan, Lilly vs. Bush and Marquis vs. Sabathia.

  • ARE you ready for the last weekend of the regular season!? Wheeee!

Great work out there this week, folks. You make this whole thing run. We'll be back Monday with our first batch of playoff previews. If you have a team playing musical chairs for those last three spots this weekend, I wish you luck. But I only mean it for a couple of you.

Until then, check back all weekend, this car aint stopping. I'm gonna bail out and Lloyd is gonna jump into the drivers seat while we're still moving. We'll see you soon. Go baseball.

bradpenny.jpgAs CTC Sir detailed below, the Dodgers have numerous questions that beg answering before the postseason. Sending Brad Penny to the 60 day DL to create a space on the 40 man roster for Rafael Furcal will at least address the daily "Who ate all the ribs?" query inside the Dodgers clubhouse.

The official word is shoulder soreness which sounds a lot like terrible pitcheritis. Penny's 16-4 record made him a Cy Young candidate last season, but his awful 2008 season (71 ERA+, 1.63 WHIP, 0 rounds with The Milano) and mysterious injuries may cause the Dodger's to decline his $9.25 million dollar club option for next year. Penny himself considers this an indictment of his skills rather than concern for his health, and he will investigate playing winter ball this offseason because he needs to find a job.

It just tells me they were never sold on me, which is fine.
Without Penny, Joe Torre has some decisions to make regarding his rotation. Billingsley, Lowe, and Kuroda sure, but what then? Greg Maddux needs too many bathroom stops to be effective on the road. Clayton Kershaw put together a decent September when you look past his opposition (2x Padres, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies), but he hates the road just as much as Maddux. Always kicking his seat and blasting that Weezy in his Ipod. All Maddux wants is to enjoy the scenery, listen to the Eagles and be left alone.

Site News: Good News For People Who Like Sellouts

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Well it's a big damn day for the entire WoW family. A couple weeks ago ESPN The Mag approached us about chronicling our favorite, most shrimptastic walkoff walks of the season. We gladly obliged. It'll be in the new issue of the mag out Monday, but here for your Friday afternoon pleasure is the eeeeelectronic copy.

Whee!

And, yes. There's my real name. Go crazy.

Yankee Beat Writers Just Want You To Be Honest, Honey

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Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News reported on some Media/Manager tensions that came to a head in the Yankees locker room last night. Mariano Rivera returned to NYC to get an MRI on what was eventually revealed to be a sore shoulder. Prior to the news being leaked, Feinsand remarks that Joe Girardi flat out lied to beat writers about what was going on. He was not happy about this.

"There's nothing alarming. I'm not concerned about it," Girardi said. "He told me his whole body was cranky because he had thrown three days in a row. This is nothing new."

Roughly two hours later, I was one of several writers who spoke with Brian Cashman on the phone, and he told me that Rivera had gone back to New York because of a bothersome shoulder. Hmm. That's not what we heard before the game.

Either way, once we told Girardi that Cashman had spilled the beans, it would have made sense for the manager to come clean and say what he knows. That didn't happen. Instead, he stuck by the "cranky body" story, insulting our intelligence.

I know that most fans don't give a hoot about how the media is treated, and that's fine with me. But if we're not given a chance to report accurately on the team, then it's you, the readers, that are cheated. It's going to be hard to take anything Girardi says seriously for a while, and that's a bad thing for both him and us.

Girardi did make a ton of defensive comments later in the night saying that if reporters didn't like the way he handled news about injuries, "You all can stare at me all you want, but that's all I can do." Ah, the old staring contest torture. I believe they're using that at Guantanamo right now to get info.

I would suggest that Feinsand never get a job covering the Patriots if this sort of thing upsets him. For now, it seems like missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years has everyone on edge in that clubhouse. Both team and media. It's very easy to get used to a certain way of life in 13 years, especially dealing with Joe Torre. The fact that he's out in LA getting ready for his 14th consecutive postseason probably isn't helping the short fuses of Girardi and those covering him. Don't worry guys, a vacation is coming.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Are Hurt On Teams That Matter

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So this weekend is shaping up to be total mess with a tie in the AL Central and that Philly/Mets/Crew boondoggle in the NL. It would be kind of pointless for me to do the usual focusless rundown of wimps, whiners and weenies. So instead I'll just be pointing out the Marys from teams that have either clinched a playoff spot or are in the hunt this weekend.

Boston Red Sox

  • Mike Lowell: Lowell took batting practice yesterday, and says he's ready to return tonight against the Yankees. While he'll probably just DH, inserting his bat back into the lineup will mitigate some of the struggles that players like Jed Lowrie and Mark Kotsay are having. But Lowell looked to be in excruciating pain the last time he was on the field so I still have to imagine his contributions for October are tentative at best.

  • JD Drew: Drew received an epidural this week which I thought was something only pregnant ladies got. He was in serted into the starting lineup for the first time since August 17. He's also a day to day proposition.

Tampa Bay Rays:

  • Carl Crawford: Any blogger that continues to call the Rays a "feel good story" should be fined. That being said, there sure have been lots of sunshine and rainbows for the team, but Carl Crawford's 2008 has certainly not been one of the highlights. He had one of the poorest seasons of his career production wise, and then had surgery on his hand in August. He was not cleared to take batting practice and is unlikely to play in the divisional round. Crawford is as close to "Mr. Ray" as anyone that's ever played for them, so it's a real bummer he won't be out on the field when they finally get to the postseason.

Minnesota Twins

  • Kevin Slowey: Slowey took a line drive off of the wrist in last night's start. X-rays came back negative, but did reveal a deep bruise. Ah, who need's their wrist to pitch anyway? Suck it up.

Chicago White Sox:

  • Carlos Quentin: It still appears a longshot that Quentin will be activated for the divisional round, but this week he took on a "heavy workload" in the cage and his wrist responded well. If he does get back on the field, it totally changes the way the White Sox chances are viewed in any series.

Los Angeles Angels:

  • Howie Kendrick, Chone Figgins: Kendrick returned from the DL this week, playing a few innings in two separate contests. The club will have a close eye on his exploding hammy. Figgins also returned this week after elbow problems.

  • Joe Saunders: GAAAAH! SAUNDERS IS BACK AFTER PASSING A KIDNEY STONE. GAAAH!!

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies:

  • No siginficant injuries.

Chicago Cubs

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Ben Sheets: Sheets is "up in the air" for his start this week which sounds like it would be against the rules. That's why they lowered the mound, right? Wait and see.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Nomar Garciaparra: Is on the Dodgers.

  • Jeff Kent: Kent is struggling to do anything but hit while rehabbing a knee injury. That would be fine if he played in the AL, but in the NL it could keep him off the playoff roster.

  • Rafael Furcal: Furcal was activated off the DL this week. He hadn't played since Cinco De Mayo, with back problems.

Steve Balboni, The Next Big Thing- 1980

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Today's Classic TV Friday post is a profile on former Yankee slugger and the pride of Brockton, MA, Steve Balboni. No, it's not a "where are they now" bit showing Balboni creating his own line of BBQ sauce or coach a high school team in the Falkland Islands, it's a profile of him when he was still in the minors with the Nashville Sounds. Enjoy an interview with a young man full of promise, that kind of, I guess, maybe, got fulfilled!

Baseball's Tenuous Battle for Important Stuff: 3 Days To Go

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Padres fans.

Mets 7, Cubs 6: Last night New York was in the business of erasing deficits with their offense, instead of their bullpen. Down by 3 runs after 6, the Mets got into the Cubs bullpen touching up Chad Gaudin, Neil Cotts and Kevin Hart. The Deathblow came from Carlos Beltran, a walkoff single that scored Jose Reyes.

Brewers 5, Pirates 1 (10): But the NL Wild Card race remains knotted up. The bases were juiced in the bottom of the ninth, there were two balls on Ryan Braun (va va voom) and I had that dadgum shrimp ready to roll. But having no sense of the moment Braun decided to jack a King Dong instead. Yawn.

Twins 7, White Sox 6 (10): Another extra inning affair and another walkoff hit for the home team. After Carlos Gomez and Denard Span joined forces to tie the game in the 8th, Alexei Casilla knocked home the game winning single in the bottom of the tenth. Look at those names. The Twins are becoming downright Marlinesque with their succes with young, non-famous and affordable players. The White Sox lead in the division is down to 1 0 in the loss column.

St Louis 12, Arizona 3: The Snakes playoff hopes were extinguished in a hail of runs. Albert Pujols drove in 4 and had his 35th tater tot of the year to tie Ryan Ludwick for the team lead... until Ludwick came up next and also hit a funny bone. With the Arizona loss, The Los Angeles Dodgers (aka Joe Torre Presents the 2003 Red Sox) secured a playoff berth. Take that, Hank Steinbrenner.

Tonight's Questions

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fish toddler.jpgHey kids, forget it.

  • WILL the Twins complete the sweep? and take possession of first place in the AL Central? It's the biggest regular season game of the year.

  • DOES Pedro have anything left in the tank? Tonight is his biggest start ever as a Met.

  • ARE you sick of my hyperbole?

  • WILL the Brewers break out the dustpan for the Pirates?
Stop by tomorrow for all the answers and your familiar Friday favorites. Same WoW time, Same WoW channel. You too, Travelin' Fish Toddler.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Former White Sox Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle is making furniture out of bats and balls. Yes, Ron Kittle is Baseball Jesus. WSBT.com.

  • Jonah Keri doesn't mince words in defending Albert Pujols for MVP. He also thought I was Rob Neyer when I instant-messaged him for Montreal advice this morning. ESPN Page 2.

  • Bob Keisser does a terrific column on Baseball Analyst's own Rich Lederer, whose father was the famous Dodgers beat writer George Lederer. No mention of Bert Blyleven? Huh? Long Beach Press Telegram.

  • Derrick Goold points out that the Cardinals are the only visiting team to clinch a World Series victory twice at Yankee Stadium. Does it even count if it happened 40+ years ago? Bird Land.

  • Rinku and Dinesh were blessed by Lord Ganesha. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Joe Posnanski reflects on being a sportswriter in a town full of losers. Wait, when did he move to Losertown, Montana? Joe Posnanski.

  • Dominoes made of dominoes. ick...Collegehumor.com. Yuck.

  • The debut video from CTC's buddy's record label Cotter Records. YouTube.
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Second year Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez knows his role. Perhaps he's being paid a sizable allowance by Phillies and Brewers ownership for what he's about to undertake this weekend, but we're not in a position to toss accusations around like that. A year after his last place Florida team won two out of three games over the final weekend of the season against a collapsing Mets team, he's ready to do it all again:

"We're going to jump from the frying pan right into the fire and be in a significant series - 'spoiler' or whatever you want to call it," Gonzalez said Wednesday before the Marlins played the Washington Nationals.

In explaining why he was putting some young Marlins prospects in the lineup Wednesday against Washington, Gonzalez noted that, "If everything stays the same, we're getting ready to go play a real significant series in New York."

That's right, just a few days after being eliminated from the playoff race and putting in his September call-ups to futz around with the lowly Nationals, Fredi is penciling in his powerful and cost-effective starters to face the Mets on yet another crucial final weekend.

And yes, we are on the verge of converting to a 24-hour Mets counter-fandom blog.

The Last Evening: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05 Rays at Tigers: I sit here writing this afternoon preview, looking at how ridiculous my preseason predictions were. The Rays' AL East magic number is 1, and the Tigers, the Tigers that I so lustfully praised before seeing them play, sit a full game BEHIND THE ROYALS in last place. Wowza. Tampa sends Scott Kazmir out to face that Gallaraga dude, and by the end of your work day you could be living in a world where the Tampa Bay Rays hold a division title. Strange days, man.

  • 2:15, Snakes at Cardinals: I often make fun of players' facial hair. It's always atrocious, but still... Doug Davis... that thing on your chin is a travesty. It's an affront to all that is good in the world. It looks like the skid mark in grandpa's drawers. Fix it and then go to the mound to take on Joel Pineiro (not doing his chin any favors, either) and the Cardinals. A St. Louis win would clinch playoffs for the Dodgers.

  • Now Till Eternity, Me: Doing my Uncle Jesse thing.
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If you're a Mets fan, you'll have someone else to curse this weekend besides your bullpen. God. Seems the Fat Man (that's what I call him) plans on doing some Noah's Ark shit all over the eastern seaboard this weekend and the NL Wild Card race could be the worse off for it.

Much of the East Coast is expected to get heavy rain over the next few days, and that could complicate pivotal games involving the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, two teams that with the Milwaukee Brewers are in the National League playoff hunt.

If the Mets' game Friday is rained out, that would require a double-header either Saturday or Sunday. According to the New York Times, the Mets have used up their quota of day-night doubleheaders. That means the Mets would have to play a doubleheader back-to-back.

Hey Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I love you, but stop hyphenating doubleheader. It makes you look like an ass. Between this mess with the Wild Card and that White Sox/Twins series, the midwest hasn't been this exciting since the 1968 Democratic Convention.
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New York Post blogger Brian Costello is on the road in Philadelphia covering the Phillies because Mets fans are just like a group of mini-Nixons: they need to know all the dirt about everyone on their enemies list. And yet the Mets season will most likely end like Nixon's presidency, in a hasty helicopter-aided departure forced by self-hatred.

After the Braves pounced on the Phillies 10-4 last night, Mr. Costello wandered into the visitors clubhouse to interview Chipper Jones about his big pinch-hit homer. What he encountered was a group of Braves players dressed in their post-game best gathered around a big-screen TV watching the end of the nationally televised Mets-Cubs tussle:

As Derrek Lee singled in the go-ahead run the Braves exploded, cheering on the Cubs. It happened again when Aramis Ramirez homered and a few members of the team and traveling party began singing "Meet the Mets." Others mocked the Kevin James video shown at Shea Stadium where he screams "Let's Go Mets."

Oh good, it's not just me. Antagonism of the Mets is universal. Hatred of Kevin James too. Nobody believed that your character in "The King of Queens" could pull such hot tail like that fake wife of yours, James. And that movie Hitch? I didn't even see it and I want my $8 back.

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Our favorite Reds beat writer John Fay tells a sordid tale of broken hearts and broken bats, this time involving some sordid rumors about Walkoff Walk whipping boy Corey Patterson and Dusty Baker's 28-year-old daughter, Natosha. Seems that Dusty isn't too happy about these tall tales, and after even Houston Astros players were asking him about it, he took to the mike to let the folks know that this was just a huge barrel of hogwash:

"She hasn't even been to Cincinnati," Baker said. "This is so far out of line. It's hurtful to my wife and daughter. How can people stoop that low? I don't know who started it. But I've been hearing from fans, players, announcers."

"There's been a lot of gossip about me," Baker said. "But this is the worst."

Yikes, even Dusty Baker, who supported Patterson enough to slot him in the leadoff spot for the first few months of the year despite his sub-.300 OBP can't stand the idea that his own daughter would date such a poor hitter. Besides, I'm sure there has been far worse gossip going around about Dusty Baker in the past, like the time the rumor was spread that he was engaged in a sordid threesome with Lauren Conrad and Bat Boy.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Expos fans.

Red Sox 5, Indians 4: The Sox battered Cleveland pitcher Fausto Carmona for four first inning runs before sending out former Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd to cough up the lead. No matter, someone named Jeff Bailey tripled in the eighth and broke a tie when scoring on a Mark Kotsay double. Just another ho-hum day in the life of mild-mannered Jefford Hamilton Woo-Woo Bailey IV!!!

Rays 11, Orioles 6: Despite the Sox win, the Rays magic number falls to one. Some Orioles pitcher named Randor Bierd allowed two bases loaded walks in the eighth inning. Weaksauce.

Twins 3, White Sox 2: Oh, those razor-slim late September margins! MVP candidate Joe Mauer picked up a pair of RBI on a pair of fielders choices, while three Twins relievers recorded holds leading towards Joey Nathan's 39th save. White Sox now lead by just one-half of a game. Eek!

Braves 10, Phillies 4: So Brett Myers got battered around like a pound of delicious cod at a fish 'n' chips shop. Big uh-ohs and bigger question marks in Philadelphia. Chipper Jones hit his 408th career ding-dong and it was of the pinch-hit variety. Julian Tavarez almost got into it with Shane Victorino and I have no idea why.

Cubs 9, Mets 6: For three consecutive innings, the Metropolitans had a runner on third base with no outs down by one run and scored just one run. Thanks to reliever Jeff Samardzjia who walked Ramon Martinze with the bases loaded, they finally tied it up in the eighth. Heck, those are some juicy opportunities, man! They say when opportunity knocks, you'd better answer the door with a goddamn claw hammer because opportunity will rob you blind. Derrek Lee's tenth inning RBI double off a tired Luis Ayala won it for Chicago.

Brewers 4, Pirates 2: Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres closed out a CC Sabathia win on short rest, and all Dale Sveum can do is high-five Baby Jesus in his head. Such kismet! Prince Fielder picked up another RBI and waddled around to score twice. Milwaukee is now tied with New York for the wild card.

In other news, Arizona and L.A. continue to bore us out west.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpg Hey kids, just to clarify from yesterday: I love France but I hate anyone from Spain.

Then stop by tomorrow for stuff. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. Still not in HD.
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Baseball business blogger Maury Brown breaks bad news regarding the Washington Nationals new ballpark: they've managed to burst the new ballpark bubble. The Nats are about to have the worst attendance in the Camden Yards Era, a free-wheelin', money-dealin', stadium-buildin' boom that started with Orioles Park back in 1992.

58,158 fans is all that separates attendance at Nationals Park from the worst first-year attendance of all the stadiums which opened in the last 17 years, the Reds' Great American Ball Park that opened in 2003. That year, the Reds had paid attendance of 2,355,259. With two games left to play in Nationals Park, the Nats have drawn an anemic 2,297,101. In their last four games, three of which were played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (...) the Nationals have averaged 26,585. That same average in their two remaining games against the Marlins would not be enough to keep Nationals Park from becoming the worst attended new ballpark opening since 1991.

Yes, the Nationals have a weakass offense, terrible TV ratings, a stinkeroo outfield, and terrible parking problems to go along with the worst record in the National League. But it's a shiny new baseball park in the middle of a huge population center! People showed up to see the Pirates lose 100 games in the first year of PNC Park. Folks showed up to see the Marlins lose 98 games their first year of existence. And for some reason, people still go to Rangers games with a fourteen-year-old stadium. Why weren't folks coming to see the Nats new chili-laden ballpark?

I'd point to those goody-two-shoes legislators in Congress for the real problems with attendance. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan figured this one out back in May:

Then Jack Abramoff tried to buy off all of Washington. New lobbying laws soon followed, and now the maximum gift given to a lawmaker cannot exceed $50. Which means all the Presidential tickets - $325 for single-game ones, $335 on Saturday and $400 for the front row - that should have gone from lobbyist to Congressman to hard-working staffer no longer exist, and the market won't get any hotter unless the Nationals do, too.

The Nationals never got hotter. Instead, they got colder than a polar bear's taint, and thus allowed bloggers like us to point and laugh at their futility. Worst of all, things won't get better before they get much, much more futile in D.C. Until owner Stan Kasten either lowers ticket prices or raises salary, Washingtonians will continue to shun baseball for better entertainment options.

Investigation Into Who Leaked George Brett Tape About Leaking

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Remember when we posted that video of George Brett talking about diarrhea? That was funny, huh? Yeah I thought so too. Haha. Poop.

Oh wait, there's news about it?

Well look at that. Time Warner is trying to find out who the prankster is that let this outtake escape from the bowels of their video library.

Porter told us that the original footage was shot for Metro Sports as part of some typical spring-training coverage in which players or coaches are miked up for future programs. Brett serves as a Royals instructor during spring training.

But Porter said the particular footage that found its way to YouTube was never meant to be aired.

"It was never shown by us, and it shouldn't have been shown anywhere," he said. "For that, we apologize. We apologize to George Brett and to the Royals."

Porter said he is not sure how the footage got out of the Metro Sports archives.

"The matter is still under investigation by us," Porter said. "We are still trying to determine the person or persons responsible.

Didn't they watch the tape? We know who's responsible. It's the chef! The one that brought George all those crab legs! Anyway, the video is gone now, but one of you intrepid WoWies have gotta be able to find a rogue copy somewhere out there in the tubes. Make me proud.

Falling Stars: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, A's at Rangers: No liveglog today.

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It's Good To Be On The Road Back Home: AL Home Field Battle

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With the Yankee Deathstar finally exploding yesterday (is that a correct metaphor? I don't like Star Wars.) some less glitzy, but still important playoff jockeying was overlooked. With the Tampa Bay sweep and the Angelschoking away a 4 run lead to the woeful Ms, there was a 1.5 game swing in the race for home field advantage.

The Angels still hold the American League's best record at 97-60, but instead of a three-game advantage over the Rays, their closest pursers, the edge is two games with five to play.

Think home-field advantage isn't important? The Angels went 1-5 in Tropicana Field this season, and the Rays have the best home record (57-24) in baseball. They are 38-38 on the road.

"It became our next goal after we made the playoffs," Manager Mike Scioscia said of home-field advantage. "And we're going to have to earn it."

We've already noted what a tough year it's been for teams on the road, and that's true in St. Pete more than anyplace else. In my opinion, travel and the wear and tear associated with it in the new Amphetamine prohibition era have more to do with road woes than any fan or ballpark advantages for the home team. That's something that can be mitigated with more leisurely playoff scheduling, so I'm interested to see if much of the home and away disparity goes away come postseason.

But just to be on the safe side, I'm sure the Angels would rather sing this than this.

COMO MY LLAMA RETIRED

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DEAR TO WHO IT MAY CONCERN:

WELP. I'M SHUTTING IT DOWN. AFTER A WHOLE LOFT OF YEARS AND TEARS HOSS (THAT'S ME] IS SHUTTING IT DOWN. I HAVE BEEN QUOTING AS SAYING "IT'S BEEN A GREAT A RIDE." BUT I DISAGREE.

WITH MYSELF. IT'S BEEN A REALLY GREAT RIDE. THIS YEAR WAS KIND OF DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE I GOT A INJURY AND OUR TEAM JUST REALLY KIND OF STUNK. EVEN JIM LEYLAND AGREES AND HE IS THE MANAGER SO THAT IS BAD. HE WANTS PEOPLE TO COME TO CAMP IN SHAPE

AND THERE IS NO WAY IN SAM HELL I WAS GONNA DO THAT. SO ANYWAY. ADIOS PELIGROS. I GOTTA JET.

-TODD

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Baseball is a nutty game. A team can outscore its opponents by a significant margin across a 162-game season, yet miss the playoffs because of a fruity bullpen. Or a team can coast through mediocrity for six months and somehow end up hoisting a cheesy trophy in October. There's little doubt that the Mets fell into that first category last year: their offensive output topped that of their opponents and yet fell face-first into a bucket of dung in September. Will it happen again in 2008? Perhaps. This year's model has a top of the line starting pitcher, three arguably good MVP-type hitters, and the third best defense in the NL, yet you can't swing a dead cat in Flushing without hitting a Mets doubter.

That is, unless you swing the cat in the owner's box at Shea. La Famiglia Wilpon has given Mets GM Omar Minaya both a vote of confidence and a four-year contract extension that validates the vote. As per ESPN's Buster Olney:

The deal is all but done, but it is not known when the extension will be formally announced.

You may be thinking to yourself, "Self, this is the dumbest thing I've heard since I read about that possible Valley Girl remake." A four year extension to a G.M. whose team has inspired nothing but agita amongst fan and glee amongst sportsbloggers? Still, hear me out for a second. I've said some not nice things about Omar in the past, but in the four months since I wrote that attack piece, the Mets have gone 61-44. Maybe I didn't agree with giving up the farm to trade for Johan Santana, but had the Mets bullpen and offense kept up their end of the deal, Johan would be a lock for the Cy Young Award right now. Sometimes teams just get the short end of the ol' luck stick.

So I must admit: I don't know enough about the Mets farm system or mission statement or organizational philosophy to criticize Omar Minaya or Mets ownership for hanging onto the dude for four more years. The Mets have played extremely well under Minaya's eye. So they've been on the short end of some miserable collapses. Who needs shiny trophies anyway when your new ballpark is gonna have a Shake Shack?

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If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. Despite winning last night, the Yankees have been eliminated from playoff contention. Despite having one of the eight best records in the majors, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs. Despite having the second best road record in the AL, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs. And despite being written off by every hackjob of a baseball writer every single month this year, the Yankees kindly waited until there were five days left in the season to give up the ghost.

Was 2008 a disappointment and a huge letdown to Yankees fans? No doubt, we're used to something a little bit more. Do the Yankees players feel like they underperformed? Probably, but they need not blame themselves on an individual basis. Regardless of what anyone tells you, the Yankees did not fall short because Robinson Cano waited until September to start hitting. The Yankees didn't fall short because Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy pitched like Langston Hughes and Ethel Kennedy. And no, the Yankees didn't fall short because Alex Rodriguez played like a human MVP instead of a supernatural MVP as we are used to.

Nope, the Yankees fell on their collective face as a team. They played well against the Bostons and the Tampa Bays of the world, but always seemed to play down to competition against the Baltimores and Cincinnatis. They never collected that big August winning streak that pushed them towards the postseason over the past 14 years. Worst of all, this guy showed up in 2008 which never seems to coincide with Yankee success.

Make no mistake, I'm not eulogizing the Yankee dynasty. I'll leave that to the blowhard bloggers and lunatic Lupicas of the world. They still might win 91 games this year, more than they won in their 2000 championship season and one shy of the 1996 team. They've got one of the best bullpens in baseball coming back next year and they'll hopefully collect a couple choice free agents. Besides, with the ability to spend $200 million a year on salaries in the last American major sport that retains a whiff of free-spending ownership, they'll continue to field contenders, like it or not.

New York will play out the regular season with pride. Getting Mike Mussina to that magical round number of wins and letting Alex Rodriguez swing away for a home run crown is nice, but we Yankee fans will still clutch our pillows imagining what could have been, had a few July games turned out differently. I'll actually wish good luck to the Red Sox and Rays, members of the winningest division in the Wild Card era. They outshone my favorite team.

Still: My heart is in the coffin there with my team, and I must pause till it come back to me.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Marlins fans.

Twins 9, White Sox 3: Javy Vazquez flopped harder than Paul Simon's The Capeman, getting knocked around for five runs in four innings and giving up a ding dong and triple to Jason Kubel. Koobs added another dong in the seventh, going back-to-back with Delmon Young. Twinkies are now but 1.5 games out of first

Braves 3, Phillies 2: Casey Kotchman's solo ding-dong pushed Atlanta to three runs, just enough to record the Braves third win against the Phils this year and only their second one-run road victory. Starter Cole Hamels wasn't very effective and threw a ball away that led to an unearned run. Losing this game wouldn't be so painful if it wasn't to Mike Hampton's corpse.

Mets 6, Cubs 2: The New York Metros pick up a game on the Phillies thanks to a strong eight-inning stint from Johan Santana and some Metsian bullpen woes from Cub Chad Gaudin. Jose Reyes' bases-bloated triple was the nail in this game's coffin; Luis Ayala picked up a save, his ninth in fifteen opportunities.

Brewers some, Pirates less: Messy defensive errors by Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan led to two unearned runs that led to a ninth inning tie game that led to a Prince Fielder walkoff tater tot. Brewers stay within a game of the Wild Card. CC Sabathia takes the mound on three days rest for the second time in a row today because the Brewers rotation is a veritable M*A*S*H unit.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1: Nineteen-game winner Mike Mussina picked up his end of the deal, combining with a handful of relievers to strike out 14 Blue Jays. Whifferoni!

Red Sox 5, Indians 4: Too bad it was all for naught as the Red Sox clinch a postseason invitation and eliminate the Yanks from October fun. More on this later, kids.

In other news, the Rays swept a doubleheader with the O's thanks to a six run eighth inning in the nightcap. The Diamondbacks did themselves no favors in losing to the Cards and the Dodgers' magic number is three after their big win.

Tonight's Questions

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sharkdog.jpgHey kids, do you get as mad as I do when people pick on France?

  • WHO you got in White Sox/Twins series? A White Sox sweep would allow us to finally stop wondering if the Twins are going to get over the hump.

  • ARE you disappointed that Rich Harden's start got pushed back to Thursday? Would have been a good matchup against Johan.

  • WE don't have to talk about the Yankees anymore since the stadium is closed, right?

  • WILL Milwaukee capitalize on a trip to Pittsburgh, or keep sucking?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Sharkdog.
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In the annals of our nation's justice system there are trials that serve as benchmarks for entire eras of our history. There's Brown v. Board of Education, Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, and a bunch of other ones I don't know because I was smart enough to avoid law school.

Well, get ready to add another one to the list because Paul Russo v. Steve promises to shake jurisprudence to its very core.

Yankee fan Paul Russo says he is the rightful owner of the ball smacked by Jose Molina over the left-center field fence during the historic final game.

"I was a part of history, and it's making me sick," said Russo, 31, of Manhattan. The soaring shot landed on the netting that covers the seats in front of the famed Monument Park.

Another fan, identified only as Steve, grabbed the ball through the netting, but he let it go and it bounced down into Russo's hands.

When security guards told Russo to give them the ball, he thought they were going to help him get the valuable piece of history authenticated by the Yanks. Instead, they gave it to "Steve."

The article says that Russo, a schoolteacher, is unsure whether or not he'll pursue legal action. We all know that he is definitely freaking going to. I mean, there is precedent for this kind of stuff. What a country! Hey Paul, if you need a lawyer, I found a guy.

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

  • The Oakland Athletics are seeking a new mascot for the 2009 season. What is it exactly that Stomper the Elephant does at A's games that would require applicants to submit a cover letter for this position? Deadspin.

  • Tom Tango gets down to the nitty-gritty and figgers out that Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections did better at predicting MLB teams' records than any other source. A generic 81-81 prediction outscored every single major media member. Inside the Book.

  • Joe Posnanski compares Sarah Palin to Dustin Pedroia. Not because they're both scrappy underdogs that appeal to the Average Joe, but because they both manage to irritate the crap outta me. JoeBlog.

  • Roger Ebert enters Carl Everett territory and denounces actual science in favor of ridiculous Biblical nonsense. A lifetime's worth of idolizing Mr. Ebert just went into the shitter. (EDIT: He zinged us good.) RogerEbert.com.

  • Jay Jaffe pens the damning-est criticism of the Yankees relocation across the street. If you are not a subscriber to Baseball Prospectus, now is the time to sign up. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Nick Friedell tracks down Rays super-fan Dick Vitale and snags an interview. Dick estimates he's spent $250,000 on Rays tickets in ten years, or about the equivalent of what the Rays are losing every game by their miserable fanbase. Big League Stew.

  • Another reason girls are dumb. Cake Wrecks.

  • Rinku and Dinesh ate a huge salmon and almost lost $57. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • WHO'S CLOONEY? Walkoff Walk.
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Baseball fans tend to root for local teams because it's usually easier to support a team that plays its games within a thirty-mile radius of their homes. It makes traveling to the games just that much easier! Fans also tend to root for players who look like them, which explains why I'm such a huge Andy Pettitte fan (c'mon! the similarity is uncanny!)

Pity the Latino Red Sox fans in and around the Hub in that case. After all, the team that won the World Series in 2004 is a notably lighter shade of pale four years later:

But (Felipe) Gomez, a 37-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, feels that the current team isn't the same as it was just a few years ago - or even a few months ago. With no Pedro Martínez and no Manny Ramírez, with Julio Lugo on the disabled list and possibly headed for the bench whenever he does return, Gomez and other Latino fans see a team that looks a lot less like them.

"We feel like we've lost something personal in our team," Gomez said recently, cutting hair at the Fernandez Barbershop in Jamaica Plain, where many Latino Sox players come to get haircuts. "It's a big community, the Latinos. It makes us feel proud to at least have representation."

Also gone are fan favorites Julian Tavarez, Wily Mo Pena, and Orlando Cabrera, so you can tell how upset our Latin American amigos really are.

Boston Globe writer Keith O'Brien brings up the ghost of racism past when he later mentions the fact that the Sox were the last MLB team to integrate, and then notes that African-American players are becoming harder and harder to find in the league. Still, he doesn't throw the Red Sox under the bus for the team's current makeup, and rightfully so. But I understand why the Latino fans are so sad, and they should be compensated by the Red Sox with a symbolic gesture, like signing this guy for the playoff roster.

Unfortunately, You Haven't Heard The Last Of Gary Sheffield

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Everyone's favorite malcontent and 42 year MLB veteran, Gary Sheffield is stiiiiiill yapping about his dustup with Fausto Carmona. Much like the angry drunk at the bar you're praying won't make eye contact with you, Sheffield is no longer just mad at Carmona. He now is vowing revenge on the nameless Indians players he believes he attacked him from behind. Sigh.

"When you get into brawls -- when somebody's back is toward you -- you pull each other apart. That is what you're supposed to do. But when guys take cheap shots, I take that personal.

"When I find out who they are, they are going to have to deal with me."

In what form?

"Don't worry. You'll see. I'm not one of those guys to sit there and talk about what I'm going to do. I'm just going to do what I'm going to do."

Unfortunately for Gary the Terminator, the Tigers don't face the Indians again until May 1, 2009. So that's a lot of time for him to stew and get even angrier. It's also plenty of time for people to forget that any of this even happened so when Sheffield steps to the plate in Cleveland next year, wielding a mace instead of a bat, people will have no idea why.

For now, I'd urge all civilians to steer clear of Gary until he is finally able to vent his frustrations. Something tells me his offseason is going to look a lot like this.

Who Wants to Win the AL Central?

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With a combined record of 6 and 10 over the last week and a day, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have been coasting towards the finish line on empty. (Stay out of Atlanta!) Heck, I'd be almost inclined to grant the division title to the Indians at this point, what with their recent winning streak and in gratitude for keeping the Yankees playoff hopes alive for one more day.

The two teams start a vital three-game series tonight in the Baggiedome with the ChiSox up 2.5 games; win all three and Chicago takes the division title despite having won just one game out of six in Minneapolis in 2008 so far.

Tonight, Ozzie Guillen is sending sadsack Javy Vazquez out to pitch against Scott Baker. Ozzie had some kind words for Javy as inspiration:

"What you see is what you get," Guillen said. "Javy is going to be Javy. I just want him to be aggressive, throw the ball over the plate and knock somebody on their ass. That's a big three games for us."

"You have to be mean. Go out there and show them we show up to play, show up to kick your guys' asses. And believe me, that will take care of itself."

Translation: If this dude doesn't hit Justin Morneau in the head with a fastball I'm going to pull him after three innings and send in the corpse of Hoyt Wilhelm. The matchups for the rest of the series:

    Wednesday: Mark Buehrle vs Nick Blackburn
    Thursday: Gavin Floyd vs Kevin Slowey

None of these games are on national television because ESPN would rather show us the Cubs ride out their season over the hapless Mets on Wednesday night. Thanks for nothing!

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To me, nothing says hilarious quite like Korean variety shows doing skits at baseball games. But perhaps my sense of humor doesn't quite jive with yours; after all, I still can't stop laughing at this video. What a card!

Anyway, some comedy show in Korea showed up at a professional baseball game and what ensued wasn't exactly hilarity:

The "One night-two days" crew from the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) visited a Lotte Giants-Doosan Bears game, a duel for No. 2 spot, at Sajik Stadium in Busan Friday, and its cast performed during cleaning time, which usually takes about two or three minutes after the fifth inning.

However, the performance lasted 10 minutes and players who usually warm up during the short span had to stay in the dugouts.

The game was a scoreless tie after five innings. However, the Giants starting pitcher gave up the farm in the top of the sixth and the Bears starter did the same in the bottom of the inning. They claimed that the longer break between innings affected their rhythm and flow. I really have no sympathy for them. After all, visiting pitchers get this nonsense all the time after the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, especially when they wheel out Ronan Tynan to yodel "God Bless America".

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a completely unrelated episode of "One Night Two Days":


(A palletful of Coca Colas to BBTF Primer)

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Blue Jays fans.

Indians 4, Red Sox 3: Down one in the ninth, noted panty-remover Jed Lowrie whiffed with the tying and winning runs on base to keep the Yankees alive in the playoff race. Josh Beckett was mediocre enough to lose his tenth decision.

Rays 4, Orioles 2: The Rays big win increases their lead over the Sox to 2.5 and drops their magic number to four. Both teams went hitless over the first four innings, as Rays young stud David Price and Orioles young...umm...person Brian Bass matched poor controls head-on.

Phillies 6, Braves 2: With a four-run eighth inning, the Phillies gave notice to all relief pitchers: we're going to hammer your asses into the ground. Or something. Someone named Jeff Bennett was the victim du jour on this go-around. Thanks to Pat Burrell, The Fightins' homered in their 18th straight contest, a club record.

Cubs 9, Mets 5: Starter Jason Marquis hit a tetra tot in his big homecoming game to put the Cubbies up 6-2 in the fourth. The Mets never recovered. They fall 3 back of the Phillies, who now have a magic number of 4. Meanwhile, the Cubs have managed to win 95 games and manager Lou Piniella is habla-ing something I don't understand.

In other news, the Diamondbacks picked up a half game to stay on the right page. OOPS I BORKENED THE WEBSITE

Tonight's Questions

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penguinbaby.jpgHey kids, sweatpants.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Penguin Baby.

Drive On Driver: Cubs at Mets

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As always, in these final days of the baseball season, the league is but a collection of a few epically important series. We'll be taking a look at them as they come up. First up, the Cubs travel to Shea for 4 games against the Mets.

We made it clear the other day we were not calling the Mets recent difficulties a "collapse." They haven't really held a formidable lead during this stretch run, and if anything have just been trading punches with the Phillies. Let's also remember that the Phillies had the good fortune to get Milwaukee right as that Red Dwarf was imploding in on itself. So the Cubs come to town while the Mets are, yes, struggling but leading the Wild Card and well within striking distance of the division lead.

For their part, the Cubs have a magic number of 1 to secure homefield for the entire playoffs, and plan on playing a relatively normal lineup for a team cruising into the playoffs. Sweet Lou points not only to the integrity of the wild card chase, but also a basic need to get more looks at players before setting the playoff roster. In any case, it should be one of the most entertaining series of the stretch run.

Your starters:

  • Tonight: J. Marquis vs. J. Niese
  • Tomorrow: R. Harden vs. J. Santana*
  • Wednesday: C. Zambrano vs. O. Perez
  • Thursday: T. Lilly vs. P. Martinez

*word

I'm going to make this quick: when matching your faithful Walkoff Walk bloggers to actors from the modern Oceans Eleven films, which one of us is George Clooney?

Is it Rob Iracane, the quick-witted suave Italian with a sharp tongue and a smile that melted the hearts of a thousand girls?

Or is it Camp Tiger Claw, the tall, dashing well-spoken Greek whose hirsuteness could make any dame's eyelids go a-flutter?

Or is it Lloyd the Barber, the quiet but charming Canadian with style and grace that makes strippers all over Toronto repent and quit the pole?

Vote below in the comments and let us know which one fits the part best, and which ones of us match up better with lesser Oceans Eleven-eers, like Brad Pitt or Carl Reiner.

In other words, WHO'S CLOONEY?

Being Young And Green: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 1:10, Marlins at Reds: A make up game, rescheduled from May 15. When the Marlins were in first place. Ouch. Ricky Nolasco gets the start for the Fish, getting ready to wrap up a stellar Junior year in the bigs. Since his much discussed CG, Nolasco has stayed strong going at least 7IP in 4 of 5 starts.

Also, he inspired one of my all-time favorite WoW comments. From Freetzy:

"Nolasco sounds like a NYC neighborhood that used to be full of crack dens but is now full of breastfeeding moms and restaurants with excellent charcuterie."

Torii Hunter Picks Up Where Don Herbert Left Off

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Reading this morning's LA Times, I stumbled across another Torii Hunter character piece. You know I love these. He makes Mr. Rogers look like the Bad Lieutenant. It's always a great way to shake off those Monday morning doldrums. Let the healing light of Torii Hunter fill your soul.

Anyway, this latest piece enumerates just how successful Hunter's teams have been over the years. Five of his last seven teams have won their division, and only once in the last eight years has he been on a team with a losing record. Fun facts. We all know that one player doesn't make a team a winner, but he has seen so much success you think he'd have a pretty idea of what it takes right? Well, you'd be wrong.

You want to know why?

"Chemistry," said Hunter, who says he feels the same positive vibes in the Angels clubhouse that he felt with the Twins. "Once you get your chemistry together you know how to play together. Once you get that chemistry, everything just flows."

"That's one thing about this ballclub that I love. We're laughing and joking, watching TV together, listening to music together. We don't have too many different cliques. Everybody's kind of together, cracking jokes with each other. And that's kind of cool."

Duly noted. The key to a successful ball club is jokes and television. If only I had known this in 2001, my roommates and our bong would have tried out for the Devil Rays. I guess the quote isn't entirely surprising since Hunter spent his whole career prior to this season with the Twins. That's the team that explains losing streaks by claiming they're trying too hard.

Give manager Mike Scoscia credit. Later in the article he says that "clubhouse chemistry is second to on-field chemistry" which I think translates to: "It's not the plasma TV, dummy."

Perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on Hunter either. Since the Angels clinched the division back in April, maybe there really has been a lot of time for bonding.

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After filing what was perceived to be the grievance to end all grievances related to the MLB Amateur Draft, Scott Boras merely pocketed his agent's share of an extra $300,000 signing bonus for his client Pedro Alvarez and proceeded to piss off at least two baseball teams, countless fans, and one sad little boy named Eric Hosmer. The Pirates and Alvarez got together behind closed doors and worked out a new contract that appeased Herr Boras, granting Alvarez the highest signing bonus among drafted players and giving the kid an option year somewhere down the line.

Also, he's put right onto the 40 man roster which will prevent the Pirates from, you know, actually grooming him to become a big-leaguer in low-A ball.

It was not immediately clear which side instigated the new talks, when they began or whether they occurred with the blessing of Major League Baseball and its players' union. But one source indicated that a signed contract between the Pirates and Alvarez likely will quash a related grievance filed by the union against commissioner Bud Selig's office, offering a sign that all concerned have been duly informed of this development.

That grievance, filed Aug. 27, alleged that MLB violated its labor pact with the union by approving the verbal agreement reached between the Pirates and Alvarez minutes after the midnight Aug. 15 deadline.

No telling whether or not the Players Union will pull their grievance now, mostly because Boras dragged Eric Hosmer's contract with the Royals into this whole mess. Technically, this whole nonsense could change the way Bud Selig and the baseball owners control the Amateur Draft. If they are willing to bend deadlines, who is to say what other nefarious deeds they might do in order to keep signing bonuses down among recent high school and college graduates?

(Many grateful thanks and Sprites to the good folks at Bucs Dugout)

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Ever spend ten hours at a ballpark? No, not to sell peanuts or sweep up the mens room or drink yourself silly enough that you pass out in the stairwell. I mean, have you ever showed up at the final game of a historic stadium six and a half hours before the game starts on the promise of walking the field? No? Well let me tell you just how exciting it can be!

My girl and I got to Yankee Stadium yesterday at approximately 1:45PM EDT so we could hop on line to see Monument Park one last time. The Yankee organization was kind enough to offer the fans the opportunity to walk around the warning track and the dirt behind home plate after leaving the monuments, so we were eager to check that out. The Stadium opened at 1 but when we got there, they closed the gates so they could process the fans who had already entered.

By the time we finally made it inside at 3PM, the line stretched from the entrance to the monuments behind the left field stands on the lower level all the way up the ramps past the main and loge levels to the upper deck. The line then circled the entire ballpark to right field where it went back down the ramps to the loge level, back towards home plate, down the ramps to the main level, and back towards right field once again. To sum up: that was the Bronx equivalent of a Soviet bread line. (TIMELY!) So instead of waiting on line, we grabbed some cheesesteaks and plopped down in our seats to watch batting practice. Joba was throwing baseballs into the seats! Swoon!

I don't blame the Yankee organization for miserably falling on their faces in planning this pre-game delight. After all, you can hardly imagine figuring out how to move 50,000 fans through a garden about the size of a typical Staten Island backyard. A family we sat next to arrived at 12:30PM and didn't make it out of Monument Park until 5PM, missing their opportunity to walk the field as well.

The rest of the day was quite impressive. Former stars were trotted out. Willie Randolph slid into second when introduced and seemed to pull a hamstring. Mickey Mantle's son David and Billy Martin's son Billy Jr. were there and looked so much like their fathers, the bat boys started wheeling out a bar cart. Famed Stadium announcer and nonagenarian Bob Sheppard couldn't make it but still announced the starting lineup via tape and bid farewell to his 'office' of 50+ years with a Jack Buck-esque poem after the eighth inning. My girl's favorite player Jose Molina hit the final tater tot in the Stadium's history. Players and grounds crew picked up enough dirt from the infield and pitchers mound to build a million Chinese pyramids.

And after Derek Jeter did a perfectly Jeterian sendoff to the fans (audio here) once the game was doneskis, the players and coaches did a lap around the field. From our seats in the loge in right field, we could absolutely see Alex Rodriguez and Jose Molina make eye contact with us while waving. I've never felt so connected with millionaires before in my life.

And yes, we got free car magnets.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, A's fans.

Brewers 8, Reds 1: Milwaukee stays in the picture, thanks to a mish-mash bullpen effort that stymied the Redlegs' offense. Also, Prince Fielder tater-totted.

Braves 7, Mets 6: Blah blah blah Mets bullpen blah blah blah blown late lead blah blah blah still one and a half up in the Wild Card standings.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2: Philly moves ahead 1.5 games in the NL East as Jamie Moyer improved to 11-1 lifetime against the Marlins. Old dude doing well in Miami? Go figure.

Also, the Twins and White Sox won while the Diamondbacks picked up a game on the Dodgers.

scaredtwinsfans.jpgTwo division races may be wrapped up, but there is still plenty to be decided. Also to be decided, who is sending the scrubbiest pitcher to the mound to day?

Out of the woodwork and onto the slab: Reclamation day in America! With many teams playing for pride, the projects and fringe guys come out to shine on Sunday! Dontrelle Willils looks to pick up his first win of the year against the Indians. Great Canadian Dock Worker Scott Richmond takes on Dice-K and the Red Sox. The Sox are 2.5 games behind the Rays and could use a win streak to avoid a trip to California. The White Sox and Twins battle of attrition continues mercilessly with Jon Danks leading his Pale Hose against the resurgent Brandon Duckworth in KC. Frankie Liriano gets the hung over Andy Sonnanstine and the Rays.

Stop the Bleeding: The Brewers grab a Bandaid named McClung, hoping he can put the brakes on their skid in Cincinnati. Arroyo the Soulful will be his opposition. The Mets can speed up the Brewers death with a win in Atlanta. Mike "Berman nickname" Pelfrey looks for his 14th win. The Phillies would like to dash the remaining hopes of the little Marlins. Jamie Moyer against Chris Volstad is a tidy little match up. Derek Lowe takes on Matt Cain in what I would call a half-duel. Danny Haren will try to make up for the fact that he went cold at the worst possible time by getting hot when it is far too late to matter.

So Goodnight, Loyal Stadium Rats: Of course tonight marks the final game at Yankee Stadium. Much has been said to eulogize this place, and while I've never been, I know that a large amount of recent baseball history took place on that field. Rob is going to be walking the field today, an experience I doubt he'll soon forget. I hope old, pre-Giuliani New York shows up and gives that place a proper send off. Wild in the Streets!

Hope you enjoy the second-last Sunday, I know I will. I'm going to Babelfish some Japanese insults and attempt to reclaim the Rogers Centre for the Queen.
rand.jpgHoly Shit! Last night the Rays clinched a playoff spot! The Rays are the pinion of the post season gears! Holy shit!

Rays 7, Twins 2: The Tampa Bay Rays are in the post season for the first time in franchise history. All it took was 10 years of complete ineptitude. Good for them. They're making life hell on the Twins in addition to making their own history. Scott Kazmir pitched a Kazmir-sized gem, all world nice guy Cliff Floyd hit a home run and Rocco Baldelli was on the field to celebrate. Jon Lester will celebrate because he's going to the playoffs too, and he won't face the Blue Jays when he gets there. Lester lost for just the second time in 8 starts, both against the Jays. Scott Rolen hit a home run and was warmly embraced by his manager. The Yankees staged a walkoff win in the afternoon so all the rampant vandalism can go under cover of night. Mariano Rivera is somewhere between 2 and 3 times as good as Frankie Rodriquez. He got the win and is the best one pitch-pitcher I'll ever see.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 4: Holy Shit! The Cubs booked their place in the post season as well. They actually clinched the division title, their second in a row. They got ahead early yesterday, scoring three runs (two unearned) on a Brian Barton error. They held onto that early lead, just like the NL Central. They've lead wire-to-wire and have the best run differential in baseball. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW THEY SCREW IT UP! I'm bored of watching the Brewers screw it up. It's gone from fascinatingly macabre like a crash test video to bizarrely uncomfortable like a porn star doin' stuff to a horse. I just don't want to watch anymore. They lost to the Reds studs again. Micah Owings drove in 2 runs in his third pinch hitting appearance. He is yet to pitch for the Reds.

Angels 7, Rangers 3: This game does not deserve your attention. Hank Blalock went 4 for 4, Garrett Anderson hit a home run. Sure, whatever. Frankie Rodriquez picked up his 60th save of the year? Wow, that record just keeps on growHE GOT ONE GUY OUT! IN A FOUR RUN GAME! This record is hollow enough to house a family of raccoons year round.

Phillies 3, Marlins 2: The Phils retook the lead in the NL East by taking this K-filled squeaker. Joe Blanton and the entire Phillies staff pitched well, totaling 16Ks. Blanton had 9 in 5 while Brad Lidge struck out the side in picking up his 39th save in 39 tries. That isn't as many as 60, you suck Lidge! The Marlins notched 12 Ks of their own but gave up a big shot that sent Shane Victorino soaring around the bases. That's him right? The Soarin' Samoan? The Mets dropped on to the Braves to fall out of the division lead. They'll be alright once the Wild Card arrives via Pony Express from Milwaukee.

The division that nobody wants gets The Gas Face today. Just win a game people. Manny hit 2 tater tots out west, dropping the Dodgers magic number to 5. Depending on the time of day, I would argue on each side of the Manny as MVP debate.*

*- not a real debate. Hopefully nobody cares.
dead_bluejay.jpgThere must a tariff on ligaments that JP Riccardi wasn't aware of because the Blue Jays just keep losing pitchers. Shaum Marcum is the latest recipient of a new tendon and year vacation courtesy of Dr. James Andrews. He joins Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, and Jeremy Accardo as Blue Jays that have missed substaintial time this season. BJ Ryan, Brandon League and (thankfully) Gustavo Chacin all missed some or all of last year due to injuries.

What can all these injuries be attributed to? Organizational philosophy? Irresponsible training staff? The world's least popular and most dishonest GM offers his explanations:

  • The Red Sox and Yankees spend so much more money for the high-end tendons
  • Tampa Bay was so bad for so long, they continually picked high in MLB's annual organ harvest
  • None of the healthy pitchers showed any real interest or passion for baseball
  • JP saw a market inequity early and was able to load up on cheap toe ligaments
The Blue Jays don't need much help to finish third (or fourth) and make excuses for it. The rotation for next year looks more and more like Roy Halladay, Rob Iracane, Camp Tiger Claw and me. We're thinking 4 will be enough. We're Ironmen.

Take it to the Streets

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contemplation.jpgThe second last Saturday of the year still holds playoff implications. 7 days from now this could all be wrapped ensuring use all the AAAA experience.

It's unsafe at night way up in these northern climes: Day games remind us all of simpler times. When the Blue Jays and Yankees weren't just highly proficient also-rans. When Baltimore actually staffed their team with Major League-level talent. When the A's and Mariners weren't forced into day action to prevent spoiling the last remaining dinner BBQ's in the Bay area. Jon Lester and Roy Halladay are going to put on a show at Fenway North. My wrists are opening from joy and anticipation.

The Number of Studio Analysts is Directly Proportional to the Nation's Interest: Fox has some worthwhile games on their schedule for all the NL Central fans from coast to coast. CC and his Brewers hope to bounce back against the young, strapping Reds. The Cubs and Cards game is the match up favoured by unfailingly polite and the impressively drunk. Ted Lilly comes off a one hitter, Joel Piñeiro comes off a contact high. The Rays can clinch their first ever playoff birth by beating the dazed Twins. Scott Kazmir is pitching the first half of the game, God knows who Madden will turn to after the 4th.

Saturday Night's Alright for...Doing Anything Else: Tonight's slate of games is pretty grim. The Mets are playing Weekend at Pedro's in Atlanta, the excellent Gavin Floyd faces the constantly rebuilding Royals. Will you accept a lame Country Joe Blanton versus the Fish pun? Is that even a pun? If a team wins its tenth straight, but nobody's there to see it, did it really happen?

There is potential for champagne to flow for Boston and in Chicago. Have your fun Cubbies, just promise not to over do it with that God-forsaken song.
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Gary Sheffield isn't having a great year offensively. He's hit just 17 home runs with an OPS hovering around .700, 200 points off his career mark. Luckily for us, his FYULABA (Fuck you up like a bad accident) rate still leads the league.

When Fausto Carmona hit him for the third time this year, Gary got upset. The grade A stink-eye he shot Carmona all the way to first base only worsened when Fausto immediately threw over to first to check on Sheff. The former slugger charged Carmona and set off a round of handbags that left Sheffield lumped up and wanting more:

Anytime you do that, we're going to have problems. I don't care who you are, how big you are. Anytime I get hit because you're upset about something else, we're going to deal with it during the game, after the game, or whenever you want to deal with it

Gary sounds upset. I'm sure he got everything off his chest and is ready to move on. He's nearly 40 years old after all, surely he's got bigger fish to fry: I know who they are," Sheffield said. "They're going to have to deal with me. Hmmm Gary, that is troubling. What about Victor Martinez, the man that popped you while you were mandancing with Carmona: Trust me: He don't want none of me. I'm sure he doesn't Gary.

The inevitable suspension may keep Gary Sheffield from notching the 500th home run of his career this season. The inevitable kidnapping may keep Fausto Carmona's family from seeing or hearing from him until Sheffield decides things are dealt with.

nouturn.jpgLast night's games were so exciting, they make you want to put your hands in the air. Even if your arms don't work.

Marlins 14, Phillies 8: 22 runs, 6 tots, a 9 game winning streak, and one flip flop in the standings. The Marlins beat Brett Myers around for 10 runs to stay meaninglessly hot late in the year. The bait that lured big fat Miguel Cabrera away from Florida had his second consecutive four hit game. The Phillies dropped to second in the division following the Mets big comeback against the Braves. The Mets have a new bullpen philosophy: one batter per inning! 4 Met pitchers recorded 3 outs in the 7th inning before giving way to Brian Stokes. Handsome Julian Tavarez gave up 3 unearned runs. His reputation as the ugliest man in baseball is definitely earned.

White Sox 9, Royals 4: It hardly seems fair, but this White Sox game against the Royals counts for as much as the Twins game against the Rays. The Sox donged, donged and donged again as they're want to do to. The Royals were just happy to be there. Carlos Pena's ground rule double three run homer in the fourth was baseball's first instant replay-reversed call. If the Twins don't get something going, the Big Series in Minnesota won't mean much of anything. The Indians and Tigers squared off before the Indians walked off.

Reds 11, Brewers 2: Dale Sveum had better go back to the drawing board. Last night's advice: groove pitches to young sluggers in a tiny ballpark seemed to backfire. The Reds knocked 7 tots in handing the Brewers another demoralizing loss. Those poor dears from Houston won again. Courage under fire or some shit.

USC 15, Texas 13: Quarterback Jon Garland hurried throws, misread blitzes and dropped the snap, hurting his team until special teams picked him up. Matthew McConaughey applauded the effort of his Rangers. If this is the kind of game that excites you, we can never be friends. Don't worry if you owe any Mariners money; they're incapable of hitting anything or anybody up right now.

The Gas Face is reserved for Kevin Youkillis and the rest of the AL East. You ruined it for everyone Kevin. The NL West stayed the same so I'll spare us all the pain.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, have it your weigh.

  • CAN Tampa Bay recover from last night's bullpen collapse and get back on message against the Twinkies? A win tonight and losses by Chicago, New York, and Toronto will clinch at least a Wild Card spot for their first time ever.

  • WILL Brett Myers get his record back to .500 and lead the Phils to a win over the streaking Marlins? Josh Johnson is 5-1 with a 3.30 ERA, so watch out now.

  • DO the Red Sox have enough gumption to take on both A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay this weekend? They better not feel too complacent because neither the Blue Jays nor the Yankees are officially eliminated.

  • WE got any meet back there? I'm starving.

  • DID you know that the Padres and Nationals have equally horrendous 58-95 records? They meet this weekend in Warshington to decide once and for all who gets to give wet willies and purple nurples to the Mariners.

  • COULD the Royals play spoilers? Nah.

  • ARE you gonna watch the Yankees game on Sunday night? I'll be there with bells on, touring the field.

Welp, that wraps up another week at Walkoff Walk. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and thanks for promising to come around and visit our cousin Lloyd the Barber this weekend. He'll entertain you this weekend with recaps, previews, and potpourri. Enjoy the penultimate weekend of the regular season!

(We stole that photo from Flubby's The Sugar Sheet)

Astros Players: Grow Up Or Get Lost

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This story came from today's Houston Chronicle and I just wanted to make a quick comment on it before we headed out for the weekend.

Just in case Bud Selig doesn't know he's a despised figure to the Astros, a few of the players were wearing black T-shirts today expressing their feeling about the commissioner's actions.

"We survived Ike," the back of the shirt read in red lettering atop a drawing of the radar impression of the eye of the storm.

On the front, it read: "Bud killed us," over a drawing of the commissioner.

First things first. The Astros had an outside chance, at best, of getting to the playoffs before the Cubs series. More importantly, for these guys to continue whining about this in such a public fashion, while so many of their fans are without basic human necessities is appalling. It's more than being out of touch. It's being self-centered to an almost pathological degree. Not to mention the good old fashioned disregard for the fact that they were an absolutely crap baseball team for 3/4 the year.

I wish Shawn Chacon had choked all of you.

George Brett Is A Sharer; Unable To Control Bowels

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This has been in lots of places today, but frankly, it's an instant classic and I don't want Walkoff Walk to be on the wrong side of history when future scholars study this video. It's George Brett enumerating in super graphic detail each time he's crapped in his own pants as an adult. Again, the guy has an eye for detail, so try and not be eating while you watch this. I'd tell you to enjoy, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate.

Rock And Hawk: Today's Afternoon Game

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2:20, Cardinals at Cubs: Z makes his first post no hitter start today, against Adam Wainwright and the Cards. The Cubbies magic number is down to 2, so potentially it could be a champagne weekend for them. Chicago is winding down the season having scored 50 more runs than any other NL team and giving up the second least. Everyone is mostly healthy and they're getting production from every spot. CAN YOU TELL I'M GETTING EXCITED FOR THE PLAYOFFS??

TO BE! A WINNER! Starting Lineup- 1988

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Today's Classic TV Friday brings us a commerical for Starting Lineup. I still have most of mine above my bedroom door, dames love em. I'm also pretty sure one of my buddies stole my Robert Parish one in 2nd grade. Enjoy, and please catalog all Starting Lineup figures you had in the comments below.

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Baseball and rock music go together like cinnamon and applesauce. They're both so American and so goddamn entertaining, and despite the existence of Nickelback and the Washington Nationals, the best will always outshine the rest.

That's why two of our greatest rock musicians have taken the time to pen some new tunes about the sport we love. First, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder wrote a song about the Chicago Cubs at the request of Cubs legend Ernie Banks:

The track features lines like "Our heroes wear pinstripes / pinstripes in blue / give us a chance to feel like heroes too." It was recorded last month during Cubs fan Vedder's solo concert at Auditorium Theatre, according to Billboard.com.

The tune is called "Someday We'll Go All the Way", and Mouthpiece Sports has an actual clip. I heard that the B-side of this 45 is gonna have that old Pearl Jam ditty "Greg Maddux Behind a Counter in a Small Town".

Super awesome guitarist and singer Nils Lofgren is also getting on the baseball tribute song train, penning a tune about the soon-to-be-turned-into-a-parking-lot Yankee Stadium. It's available as a free MP3 download on Nils' homepage:

Hello everyone. Nils Lofgren here. I wanted to give you some history on this new song, "Yankee Stadium."

My fabulous wife Amy (a Jersey girl), remains a life-long Yankee fan with a great, emotional history of experience in Yankee Stadium from childhood to present. Her concept and the song's chorus; "everyone is beautiful in Yankee Stadium," was born from those memories and experiences. She's been asking me to write this song for a while and here it is.

Eek, Nils, I love Yankee Stadium and all, but having sat in the upper deck once or twice, I can assure you: not everyone is beautiful in that dump.

Also, not every song about baseball is good.

(Thanks to BBTF, to whom we now owe an entire Coca-Cola distributorship)

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGGather round children, for What's Up Creampuff is getting as old and creaky as the milquetoasts it chronicles. After today's installment there will be but one more time I can parade these invalids through the Walkoff Walk town square in an orgy of mocking, riducule and hyperlinks to newspaper stories. So savor this one kids. Savor the sweet, sweet pain.

  • Daniel Cabrera, Orioles: The O's big righty is getting shut down with a strain in his elbow. Kid was due to be the next big thing but struggled with his control so much, that people kind of gave up. Well they left too soon because this year he... oh. His WHIP actually went up while his K/9IP went down. Still had a more productive year than Erik Bedard.

  • Mike Lowell, Red Sox: Lowell's torn hip thing pulled him out of the lineup for the last game in Tampa. He woke up feeling worse yesterday but still traveled with the team to Toronto. The doctor's think he'll be able to play through it. But let's keep in mind, this is his doctor.

  • Jeff Francis, Taylor Buchholz, Rockies: How poorly did Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd mishandle his talent this year. Granted, the NL West was asstrocious, but O'Dowd made Ed Wade look like a pessimist by not dealing anyone this year. Not that Francis or Buchholz were discussed as going anywhere, but I needed to get that off my chest. Francis and Buchholz are both being shut down.

  • Shutdown, The Band: Still tough guys. No creampuffs here.

  • Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: Nomar took a spill and sprained his knee. Things look ok, and he should be ready this weekend, but I have to put him in Creampuff no matter what. It's in my contract.

  • Ben Sheets, Brewers: The Crew is unsure of Sheets' availability which translates to: "If we lose all of our games until his next start, he's out for the year. If we win them all he'll pitch all 9." So my guess is medically, he's fine, but stay tuned.

  • Damion Easley, Mets: This one is kind of sad. Easley tore his quad and is pessimistic about his chances to return this year. He's been in the league for FIFTEEN YEARS without playing in a postseason game, the longest active streak of its kind. So if the Mets make it but he's on the bench, he'll be in Frowntown.

  • Carl Pavano, Yankees: Pavano left the game last weekend to a chorus of boos, but is apparently on track to make his start today. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Erik Patterson, A's: Patterson, a member of WoW's Royal Family, is out for the rest of the season with a strained right hamstring that he injured on the basepaths. He probably did it after taking a base on balls.

  • Rick Ankiel, Cardinals: Ankiel is having hernia surgery today. In his honor, please watch this. 2:37 FTW.

  • Shaun Marcum, Blue Jays: Marcum has some sort of mystery arm ailment that could potentially put next year in jeopardy. THE CURSE OF CTC IS REAL.

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So the Rays and the Twins tussled at the Tropicana Dome last night and Evan Longoria did his best to lift his team: he hit three home runs and collected four RBI. Thanks to Dan Wheeler's miserable failure out of the Rays bullpen, though, the Rays ended up losing to the Twins and now sit just 1.5 games ahead of the second place Red Sox.

Kid sorta made history too:

Thursday's three blasts moves Longoria in front of the Cubs' Geovany Soto for top billing in rookie home runs, and makes him just the second Rays player all-time to hit three home runs in a single game. He joins teammate Jonny Gomes -- also a rookie at the time -- who went deep three times on July 23, 2005, against Kansas City.

Fella's got 25 homers on the year and, despite missing over a month due to a wrist ouchie, he's the odds-on favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Here's his competition:

HITTERS
Evan Longoria (TBR, 3B) - .353 OBP, .544 SLG, 25 HR, 7 SB
Mike Aviles - (KCR, SS) - ..352 OBP, .467 SLG, 24 2B, 7 SB
Alexei Ramirez - (CWS, 2B) - .318 OBP, .477 SLG, 18 HR, 12 SB
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PITCHERS
Armando Galarraga (DET, SP) - 163 IP, 3.58 ERA, 116 K, 58 BB
Joba Chamberlain (NYY, SP) - 96 IP, 2.53 ERA, 111 K, 37 BB
Brad Ziegler (OAK, RP) - 55 IP, 0.82 ERA, 27 K, 21 BB

Okay, Longoria is going to win unanimously. I don't know why I bothered listing all those stats. Does anyone think otherwise? Who would you vote for?

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Nationals fans.

Dodgers 4, Pirates 3 (12): Craig Hansen walks the bases loaded in the twelfth and James Loney drives in the winning run. This all could have been over in the tenth with a walkoff walk had Nyjer Morgan not gotten thrown out at the plate and Luis Cruz drawn a walk. Woulda coulda shoulda.

Cubs 7, Brewers 6 (12): Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres gave up the farm in the ninth, allowing four runs, blowing the save, and sending the game to extras. Rookie sensation Geovany Soto's three run tater tot was the crushing blow off Torres and Derrek Lee struck down the day's second opportunity for a walkoff walk with his game winning RBI. Cubs magic number for the NL Central is now two.

Mets 7, Nationals 2: Johan Santana came through with another gem and finally, both his bullpen and offense supported him with a win. Jerry Tranuel used three relievers, which is less than normal: the Mets lead the majors with 3.4 pitching changes per game. Johan went seven strong and struck out eight Nats. Catcher Brian Schneider totted twice. Mets move to 1.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the Wild Card race.

Phillies 4, Braves 3: Pat Burrell ding donged and Brad Lidge got his 38th save in 38 tries. That's perfection! Cole Hamels earned his fifth win in his last six decisions. Phillies stay 0.5 games up in the NL East. In related news, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" premiered last night and it was great.

Twins 11, Rays 8: Dan Wheeler blew the game by giving up four runs in the ninth, sparked by Alexi Casilla's two run tater tot. Dan Wheeler used to play for the Mets. It all makes sense.

Other Thursday night action saw the White Sox lose to trim their lead over the Twins to 1.5, the Marlins stay in the picture, and the Diamondbacks topple Tim Lincecum to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Tonight's Questions

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nightgame2.jpgHey kids, she's right behind you.

  • CAN Johan and the Mets salvage the split in DC?

  • WHAT about Javy and the White Sox in the Bronx?

  • WILL the Rays use this three game series in Tampa to push the Twins into irrelevance?

  • IS Tim Lincecum going to continue his Cy Young campaign whilst knocking Arizona even further behind LA.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
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One of my favorite mashups from the early 2000s was that Freelance Hellraiser song that married Christina Aguilera to the Strokes. "A Stroke of Genie-us". Oh, zing, Freelance. You punned me good.

Well, consider my second liveglog mashup to be absolutely nothing like that song. Instead of writhing teen starlets and hipster guitar riffs, you're going to get a dose of Zack Greinke mixed with a dollop of Craig Counsell. It's what you've always wanted! It's Christmas and Arbor Day all mashed up into one!

I'm going to take you on an XM Radio-driven tour of the four afternoon games, so aptly previewed by my associate Camp Tiger Claw:

   Dodgers (79-73) @ Pirates (64-88), 12:35pm
   Mariners (57-94) @ Royals (68-84), 2:10pm
   Brewers (84-68) @ Cubs (91-59), 2:20pm
   Angels (92-59) @ Athletics (71-80), 3:35pm

Also, I'm going to slip some links in the glog, thus mashing up a mashup glog with our regularly scheduled Linkpunch. Could I possibly confuse you anymore? No, didn't think so. ENOUGH! ONTO THE GLOG!

The Walkoff Walk Interview: Helene Sovern

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Not familiar with Helene Sovern? I wasn't either until this morning. She was the focus of this piece by Tampa Bay's News 10. According to them, Helene (whom they call a Rays fan) made it to last night's Red Sox/Rays game despite having surgery earlier in the day "after a sharp piece of medal (sic) was found lodged in her throat."

The short piece admired her pluck for still heading to the game fresh out of the hosptial, but I thought it was terrible reporting. I had so many unanswered questions. So, I did what any pseudonymous journalist would do. I looked up her number and called her. Helene could not possibly have been sweeter, and I'm glad she's feeling better. What follows is our conversation. Yes, it's real.

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Camp Tiger Claw: So Helene. How are you feeling?

Helene Sovern: I'm feeling better now. Just a little sore still.

CTC: So I'm calling from Boston, that's how I heard about the story. You were there rooting for the Rays last night, right?

HS: Well I lived in Boston for about 10 years. Actually. I gotta tell you. I wanted to root for them since I live in Tampa. My husband's a Yankees fan. But when the Red Sox came out I just had to root for them. Once you're a Sox fan you can't change it.

CTC: Well I'm glad to hear that. So what happened. I guess the biggest problem I had with the channel 10 story is that they didn't tell me what got stuck in your throat. I'm curious.

HS: So my husband and I had some guests in town from New York. And he was grilling. I bit into a pork chop and all of a sudden it felt like I swallowed a razor blade.

CTC: Jesus.

HS: Yeah. So my husband tried to give me the heimlich and that didn't work so he told me to go to the Emergency Room. But I hate the Emergency Room. I don't trust them to actually do anything.

CTC: And who knows how long you'll be in there.

HS: Right! So I just said, I'm going to sleep and if I die, I die.

CTC: Ha.

HS: Well the next morning I woke up and it was still there. So luckily my ear nose and throat doctor took me in the next day. And he scoped me out. Looked all over and said, "There's a small black thing sticking out at the base of your tongue."

CTC: Eek.

HS: So he tried to get it out, but I kept gagging. He said I had to go to the hospital so they could put me under and take it out. When I came to, they'd removed it.

CTC: What was it?

HS: It was a one inch long metal bristle from a grill brush. It embedded itself in my tongue.

CTC: (jumps up and down while on phone) MY GOD. HELENE. THAT IS HORRIFYING. I HAVE GOOSEBUMPS.

HS: Haha. Yeah it was. But I really wanted to go to the game, so I headed right there.

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According to Channel 10, Helene still had her hospital bracelet on when she got to the stadium. I'll also tell you this. Helene works blue and has a good sense of humor. She told me a couple of zingers about having a throat injury that she didn't want me to repeat online. I promised I wouldn't, because she also said I had to send her this article to show her family.

Get well soon!

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Forbes Magazine is back doing what it does best (besides being completely incapable of predicting the stock market): making enormous listicles! They've assembled their annual Forbes 400 rankings, stapled it together, and mailed it out to hundreds of dentists offices. I'll make things easier for you, pal. I've pared it down to six baseball owners who made the cut.

Here's your mini-listicle:

Yes, baseball ownership is a old white guys club, just like the Elks Club down the street from me except with less High Life and more Chivas. Still, of all these dudes, only Steinbrenner really made his fortune from owning a baseball team. Pohlad made his money in banking, Lerner cashed in via real estate, Ilitch founded the company that gave us these commercials, McLane made his fortune selling his own cosmetics line on QVC, and Hicks made his money the old-fashioned way: merging Dr. Pepper and 7-Up.

Natural Music: Today's Afternoon Games

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liveglog.jpgHey kids. Don't forget to join DJ Robbie I today at 3 for your Thursday Afternoon Liveglog Mashup. The Street Team implores you.

  • 12:35, Dodgers at Pirates: The Pirates put up 15 runs last night, which probably means they'll be all tuckered out for the rest of the regular season. The Dodgers' magic number remains at 8 with 10 games left. They'll trot out Clayton Kershaw, a guy who's had one of the most interesting season's around. Guy came out of spring with more hype than The Black Kids and at times he's looked as mediocre as them. He takes on Sad Paul Maholm.

  • 2:20, Brewers at Cubs: Rubber at Wrigley. For as bad as the past few weeks have been for Milwaukee, they're still only a half game out in the Wild Card. If they can avoid being mowed down by Rich Harden. Dave Bush takes the mound for the Brewers. I'm still not making a Harden/Bush joke no matter how much you whine about it.

  • 3:35 Angels at Oakland: The Angels infield is baaaaanged up. Add Chone Figgins to the questionable Howie Kendrick and IT'S A VERITABLE MASH UNIT. Joe Saunders, who goes for Anaheim, has been regressing to the mean. The Angels are 3-3 in his last 6 starts as his ERA has risen half a run. The A's send Josh "Dammit, He Was" Outman to the hill.

  • 2:10, Mariners at Royals:

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Some chucklehead sitting in the bleachers caught a home run at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. He celebrated by doing what any one of us would do: the cabbage patch. I know, I was there watching him from the right field loge section and silently judging him. Then, through a wild act of kismet, the dude caught another tater tot on Wednesday night in almost the exact same spot. The YES Network took note:


The great Yankee blog NYY Stadium Insider put the video together and we will be sending them a caseful of Diet Cherry Cokes.

Carlos Quentin & Chone Figgins, Two Sides Of The Same Creampuff

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A couple injury updates rode the news gurney into my consciousness this morning. They regard two of the most important players on the White Sox and Angels, and there's good news and bad news, respectively. Hey, I'm pretty good at this doctor thing. Someone give me some nitrous and a scalpel.

First, the good news. Joe Cowley at the Sun Times is reporting that Carlos Quentin's progress from a fractured wrist is better than expected and he will actually rejoin the team this weekend. They expect him to take batting practice with the team. No guarantee he'll be back before the end of the season, but Chicago fans may want to hold their breath. Which is hard to do when you're chain eating hot dogs.

Now for the bad news, Chone Figgins he of the Angels and oft used phrase "catalyst," is making no progress trying to return from an elbow injury. Carl Pavano hit him with a fastball on Sept 8th, and Figgins says the soreness is not going away. He's returning to SoCal from Oakland for an MRI. The Pavano detail just makes things worse. Why couldn't he just injure himself and leave peacefully? Why'd he have to take down someone from a contender? It's like a single engine plane crashing into a house. AIM FOR THE FIELD.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Blue Jays fans.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: Raise your hand if, back in June, you thought people would be mentioning the words "Ryan", "Howard", and "MVP" in the same sentence without using the word "former". Okay hands down. Fella picked up another RBI to support rookie J.A. Happ's six scoreless innings, while fatso Matt Stairs collected his first ding-dong as a Phillie. In batting race news, Chipper Jones had a hit to stay 11 points ahead of Albert Pujols. Big whoop.

Mets 9, Nationals 7: The Mets stay a half a game behind Philly despite cycling through seven relievers to earn a nailbiting win over a stinkeroo team. Luis Ayala got a one-out 'save' by striking out someone named Roger Bernadina to end the game after Pedro Feliciano nearly gave up the farm. Carlos Beltran donged from both sides of the plate.

Brewers 6, Cubs 2: Milwaukee won the game but lost Ben Sheets to apparent forearm tightness after just two innings of work. New manager Dale Sveum (haha I can't get used to that) emptied the chamber and used seven relievers to hold back the Cubs and keep the Brew Crew a game behind the Mets. Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres notched his 28th save.

Marlins 14, Astros 2: Florida stays in the race and moves one game closer to Houston in the Wild Card standings behind two taters from Hanley Ramirez. They'll need to carry on without him, though, as Ramirez left with a shoulder ouchie and is now day-to-day. Ricky Nolasco pitched well despite allowing two solo dongs to Hunter Pence.

Rays 10, Red Sox 3: David Ortiz' pair of homers wasn't enough as Tim Wakefield knuckled under pressure. Wait, that's his job. Perhaps he didn't knuckle enough under pressure. I have no idea, I didn't watch the game. Tampa's up three in the loss column.

Elsewhere, the White Sox and Twins both lost to continue the misery of the AL Central, while Arizona picked up a game on L.A.

Tonight's Questions

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lobsterbabyjr.jpgHey kids, you're nobody till somebody kidnaps you.

  • WHY did the White Sox decide to start Clayton Richard instead of Lance Broadway in the Bronx? GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. Oh yeah, Phil Hughes is back.

  • WILL the Mets drop their third straight to the Nats? I have a buffalo nickel on it that says yes. I don't think it's legal tender, though.

  • WILL the Brewers full body dry heave continue? It's going national, so even those in Poughkeepsie will feel your pain, cheeseheads.

  • HEY, who's the new kid?

  • WHO rubberizes in St. Pete? Wake has always been good at the Trop.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

goats2009.jpg Rob: hey CTC, the 2009 schedule is out!
CTC: I saw that.
Rob: isn't it early?
CTC: Well they got a new delivery boy.
He's foreign. Real hard worker.
Rob: I guess this gives fans of teams out of contention something to look forward to.
amirite, Orioles fans?
CTC: I guess.
I wouldn't know.
Rob: zing.
CTC: Anyway, you know what's not early?
Opening Day.
Rob: thank god!
maybe the weather will actually be nice this year when I go to Opening Day at New New Yankee Stadium...when is that?
CTC: Um. Lemme look here...
Rob: April 16th
CTC: Yeah!
Rob: the final home opener among the 30 MLB teams
save the best for last, eh?
CTC: Well, they want to make sure all of the bribery trials are over before first pitch.
That would look bad for NYC.
The Sox make their first visit to the Park in May.
One of those two game series we despise so much.
Rob: awful
not enough time for Dustin Pedroia to get down to FAO Schwartz and dance on the huge piano
CTC: ASK JEFF FRANCIS WHO I AM
Rob: any good interleague series of note? I see Phillies at Yankees in May
CTC: Dodgers-Angels could be a natural rivalry that's a WS rematch.
Rob: i see Rays at Mets in June
CTC: I wouldn't put money on it, but it's possible.
The Metrodome's final Opening Day is April 6.
Plenty of parking for your snowmobile.
Rob: they play the Mariners. Hope they bring extra blankets for the moose.
CTC: April in Minneapolis is like August on Pluto.
Rob: i see Toronto returning to Philly in June
CTC: By that time JP Riccardi should be building a contender with the Brockton Rox.
Rob: also, when i do the drop-down menu on the MLB website, it lists a team called the "Devil Rays"
that's gonna cost someone a few million dollars
CTC: Any parks you'd like to go to that you still haven't seen?
Rob: i would like to go to San Francisco to see Corporate Telecommunications Park
CTC: That is a lovely park.
I've never been to Skydome.
Rob: ROGERS CENTRE
CTC: I want to go there and pay my tributes to the Wrestlemania VI Tragedy
Rob: i dont know what that is
i also dont want to know
CTC: Oh well you see The Ultimate Warrior was taking On Hul... oh. Ok.
Anyway should we talk about some other teams that our readers care about?
Rob: no, screw them
CTC: Fine with me.

Tavern Talking Points #3: Heads Should Roll In AL Central

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

Our boy 'Duk at BLS wrote a fantastically exasperated piece last night describing how all of us baseball fans feel about that miserable AL Central race. He made the prescient analogy that the teams about the teams being two fighters clutching and grabbing until one can deliver a haymaker in their series next week. I agree that this whole thing has been as exciting as a John Ruiz fight.

He makes a point of praising Guillen and Gardy as "good motivators" saying that's part of the reason they've taken advantage of lousy Cleveland and Detroit seasons. This is where I'd beg to differ and say that whichever one of these teams loses the division should fire their manager. This is the worst display of "getting the job done" since 5 minutes ago when I was too lazy to look up the last time a division race stunk this much. In situations this aesthetically atrocious, someone must be held accountable.

I predicted before the season that Ozzie would be canned by the All-Star break, and that turned out like most of predictions: laughably incorrect. But that was my error. Kenny Williams has made strong moves in the past two seasons to strengthen the club. They're certainly not the youngest team, but they have enough talent to have put this division away long ago.

Chances have come and gone for the Twins, and for once in my life I'm reluctant to blame everything on the GOP. Weeks before the now infamous road trip, we were wondering whether or not Minnesota would ever get over the hump. They choked repeatedly, spending one day in first. No one should feel good about capitalizing on poor seasons by the Tigers and Tribe. They should feel bad for having a big league club that so easily wilts under pressure. For Gardenhire, it's also a matter of mismanaging a bullpen.

So come on Kenny Williams and Bill Smith. Let's make this AL Central race a deathwatch. It's been depressing enough, and this will only put it over the top.

Hop On Pop: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 3:05 Padres at Rockies:

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    Rob has decided not to Liveglog this game today because it is so lousy. To make it up to all of you, tomorrow he's gonna do another Liveglog Mashup, frantically chronicling all 4 afternoon games. That was fun last time. So adjust your calendars accordingly, and don't worry about rushing to pick up your blazer at the drycleaners.

With the news that the Florida Marlins minor league affiliate may be moving to New Orleans, I thought it would be a good time to figure out which teams are moving their AAA operations. So I made a handy-dandy map:

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To clear that up:

Okay, that cleared nothing up. The Triple-A seasons ended last night and the wheelin' and dealin' will all become official tomorrow. Possible destinations for the Jays include Las Vegas, Richmond, Tucson, or Saskatoon.

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While you were too busy watching the Phillies overtake the slumping Mets and too distracted by managerial firings and displaced Astros-Cubs series in Milwaukee and too bored as heck about the Dodgers finally putting the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, the Florida Marlins have gone and made themselves relevant again. Thanks to the pitching prowess of their starting rotation, the Fishies have won six straight, and now sit just five games behind the Wild Card leading Mets.

During the winning streak, Marlins starters are 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA, 29 hits (one homer), nine walks and 34 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. Opponents are 29 for their past 135 against them (.215). The rotation ERA is down to 4.76, the lowest it's been since May 22 (4.69).

A rotation with Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad and Anibal Sanchez may not sound dangerously delicious, but with Johnson and Sanchez making late debuts because of recovery from surgeries, their arms are fresh. Only Olsen and Nolasco have been starting all season-long. Florida has two series left with the Mets and Phillies so they may have a chance to Control Their Own Destiny. They'll need to leapfrog the Cardinals, Astros and Brewers to even have a chance to topple the Mets/Phillies cabal, but your job as a Walkoff Walk reader is to suspend disbelief and allow us to write crazy shit.

Ok nevermind, the Marlins are screwed. But hey, it's fun to imagine the thunderous fan support similar to the 2007 Rockies run being replicated in Miami!

Baseball's Tenuous Battle for Important Stuff: 12 Days To Go

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Cardinals fans.

Nats 1, Mets 0: Oh, this is a shame. Mike Pelfrey and Odalis Perez both pitched 7 strong innings, but Cristian Guzman's 5th inning ground rule double was the difference. Bright side for the Mets: at least the bullpen didn't blow it.

Phillies 8, Braves 7: And this evened the East. The Fightins were down 7-4 heading into the 7th, then Ryan Howard happened. Philly scored 2 in the 8th powered by a Howard triple then 2 more in the 8th when he tater totted. Brad Lidge notched his 37th save of the year.

Cleveland 12, Minnesota 9 (11): This one went back and forth more times than the jury at your last aggravated assault trial. Justin Morneau and Delmon Young teamed to give the Twins the lead in the top of the 8th. Grady Sizemore tied it in the bottom half with solo ding dong. This game went to eleven where Vic Martinez hit the game winning 3 run funny bone. The Twins bullpen is terminal.

White Sox 6, Yankees 2: In which the Sox take a 2.5 game lead in the Central. Another strong outing from Gavin Floyd and RBI from 5 different batters will do that for ya.

Elsewhere: The Rays top Boston in a pitchers duel... CC can't stop the Crew's freefall... Dodger Blue still good for a 4.5 game lead.

Tonight's Questions

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babysnail.JPGHey kids, who the hell gave me decaf?

  • WHICH NL Wild Card Co-leader has the tougher road assignment: The Phils in Atlanta or the Brewers in Chicago?

  • CAN Josh Beckett lead the Red Sox back to first place?

  • ARE you ready to call that NL West yet? Will you if the Dodgers gain a game tonight?

  • CAN snails live in the ocean?

  • WILL Frank Liriano put the Twins back in the win column against Cleveland?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Pat tries to figure out the future of the Pirates payroll and links the progression of the team to the Brewers. Wait, THOSE Brewers? Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke.

  • Parody may be dead, but Grant does his best to resurrect it with this faux conversation with a Giants fan from the all-too-recent past. Wait a minute...he made a time machine...out of a DeLorean? McCovey Chronicles.

  • Pat Jordan provides an excellent profile of sadsack Barry Zito. Now featuring an interactive graphic! NYT Play Magazine.

  • Jon Bois reflects on a childhood spent with Nick Markakis. His dad works at Lockheed. True Story. Mouthpiece Sports.

  • Our own Camp Tiger Claw is dropping like a lead balloon in the Player Pick Pool but at least he's doing it with grace. Touching Base.

  • Buy this Marlins scrunchie. Fishstripes.

  • Consume these Mariner cupcakes. USS Mariner.

  • EepyBird's sticky note experiment. Vimeo.
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As per Matt Cerrone of Mets Blog Presented by GEICO who read Ken Davidoff's column in Newsday who spoke with an anonymous source who is "informed of the team's thinking", the Mets will not pursue soon-to-be free agent and new single-season saves record holder Francisco Rodriguez this offseason. Translation: Mets no wantee K-Rod for bigtime money.

Instead, they will seek to "be creative" in figuring out exactly who is going to come into close game in the late innings while shitty nu-metal music is blasting from the P.A. at Citi Field. To wit:

If Luis Ayala can close all the way through the playoffs without incident, then he seems a cinch to return as a free agent. Among Ayala, the emerging Brian Stokes, youngster Bobby Parnell, whom scouts from other teams have regarded as a potential late-inning reliever, and other low-budget choices, the Mets -- who have reminded people that Rivera once was a closer waiting for a chance -- hope to find an answer.

Eek, you call that 'creative'? I call that scrambling. I call that wishful thinking. I call bullshit on this 'rumor'. Heck, I love the idea of re-building from within, but what if the team's best prospects are now wearing Twins uniforms?

This 'source' claims that the Mets do not want to invest in pitchers, especially after getting saddled with Billy Wagner's salary next season and having broken the proverbial bank with Johan Santana's record contract. But hey, what are the Mets if they're not an organization that throws a ton of money at their problems? Can you see any other G.M. driving a dumptruck full of money up to Rodriguez' house this December besides Omar Minaya? No! The Mets will have a huge cash infusion from selling old junk and selling luxury boxes to cash-rich firms like Lehman Bros or Merrill Lynch or AIG. What else would they possibly do with all that dough? Rebuild their farm systems? Ha!

And You Thought You Got Excited When Your Team Won

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You don't get nearly excited as fans of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a team in Japan's pacific league. When they win, the bleachers climax all over the outfield. It's so sexy, I never want to see a Japanese person again.

The team plays their games at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, a fact that I could not possibly make up.

Movin' On Up With Taylor Teagarden

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A leader is starting to emerge in the Ranger catcher debacle. With Salty on the DL and Gerald Laird sobbing, Taylor Teagarden has stepped up big time. He's got 13 hits in 12 games. Ten of them for extra bases, including 6 funny bones. Our boy David Pinto is projecting Teagarden at catcher for next season saying that with him, "Michael Young and Ian Kinsler in the middle infield and Josh Hamilton in center, the Rangers are looking very strong up the middle for 2009."

Last night was Tea's biggest in the bigs .He had 5 RBI including a King Dong. It was special for not only him, but also Texas fan Glenn "Wheezy" Wistman. You see that grand slam won Wistman some cash.

Glenn Listman was daydreaming Monday afternoon, wondering what it might be like to win $25,000 on a FSNSW Rangers broadcast.

"I was thinking how funny it would be if Taylor Teagarden hit the grand slam because he's so hot right now," said Listman, 44, who is a defensive driving instructor in Haslet. "I felt good when I saw him in the lineup."

Teagarden's grand slam in the Sonic Slam inning earned Listman, who sent in his name with the nickname of Wheezy, the big check. He said he'll probably pay bills and maybe use some of it to go on a vacation.

"I'm not a lucky guy, but I went to a Corpus Christi game and caught my first ever foul ball three weeks ago," Listman said. "I can tell you, I'm going to buy some lottery tickets and strike while the iron is hot."

WHEEZY! Forget the bills and the vacation, Wheeze. I like the lottery idea best. In fact, you should probably put all $25K on scratchoffs and watch that money grow. You can take two vacations! LET IT RIDE WHEEZY! LET IT RIDE!
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After getting absolutely slammed in the Tigers 11-7 loss to the ChiSox on Sunday, it seems as if Kenny Rogers' tenure in Detroit is over. Manager Jim Leyland is going to run through the remainder of 2008 with some other gentlemen in the rotation, including recent call-up Dontrelle Willis and his jaunty hat.

Rogers is 1-7 with a 9.00 ERA over his last nine starts. He's also the oldest known human being in the American League and his aged stone face is slowly eroding due to the extreme weather in the Northern climes of Michigan.

Leyland said on Monday that he's "shutting down" Rogers for the rest of the season. Had Rogers taken his regular turn, there was time remaining for him to make two more starts, but those will now be made by someone else.

As Leyland was quoted saying about the way Rogers threw Sunday night against the White Sox: "His equipment isn't quite what it was."

Rogers' contract is up after this season and his career is probably over. He'll retire with 219 career wins against 156 losses, five Gold Glove awards, and an ill-begotten World Series ring with the Yanks in '96, a postseason where he threw seven innings, allowed fifteen hits, and let in eleven runs. If there's a Hall of Fame for People Rob Iracane Hates, he's a surefire unanimous first ballot fella. Good riddance, sir!

(BBTF brings us news and gets the Cokes)

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Rockies fans.

Yankees 4, White Sox 2: Mariano Rivera recorded his third save in three days, his 36th save on the year, and his 479th career save, pushing him ahead of Lee Smith for the second most saves all time. YES announcer Michael Kay, upon noticing Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa in the stands at The Stadium, posited that LaRussa's innovations with the closer role in the 1980s effectively "made" Mariano Rivera. No, Mr. Kay. Nobody "made" Mariano Rivera. He was born unto this world by a supernatural power and molded out of titanium and magic. Derek Jeter went hitless, saving his record-breaking performance for tonight, when I will be in attendance.

Indians 3, Twins 1: There will be no movement atop the AL Central standings, as Cleveland's stellar September callup Scott Lewis spun his second gem: 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K. Shin-Soo Choo continued his good hitting for the Indians with a two-run tater tot, his seventh in the last 24 games. Justin Morneau went 0-for-4.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: The NY Mets lost a half game in their already teeny lead over the Phils thanks to some good pitchin' by Nat John Lannan and some bad pitchin' by...who else...the Mets bullpen. Lannan allowed but one run over seven strong in which he struck out David Wright and Carlos Delgado twice each. Wright left four gentlemen on base in the contest. Meanwhile, Duaner Sanchez gave up a three-run ding-dong to Elijah Dukes in the seventh, pretty much putting this little dalliance out of reach. New York now leads the East by a mere half game.

Cubs 6, Astros 1: Ted Lilly no-hit the Astros for six innings and hung on to finish the job despite one measly, piddling hit by Mark Loretta in the seventh. Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run taters in the sixth. Houston falls back to two and a half behind the idle Phillies and not-so-idle Brewers.

In other news, the Red Sox romped over the Rays to pull into a virtual tie for first while the Diamondbacks won on an Adam Dunn tater to remain 4.5 behind the Dodgers.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, it's bed of my truck but if the cops show up, I'm a just a landscaper.

  • CAN the Dodgers beat up on the Pirates and come get closer to finally euthanizing the 2008 NL West?

  • WILL the Sox and Rays match the drama of last week's series? Matsuzaka takes on Kazmir in the opener.

  • WILL the Mets bullpen do the job against Washington? Pedro is starting so you know they'll be needed.

  • WHAT will happen in the Central? I gave you all relevant details earlier.
Stay tough and stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
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Holy crap Ned Yost was fired!

    Third-base coach Dale Sveum will become interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Holy crap Dale Sveum is going to try and get the Brewers into the playoffs! I realize the Brewers were on the skids in September but this is crazytown, USA. But hey, I knew this rumor would come true eventually. Holy crap!

UPDATE #1: Brewers Blog is getting absolutely hammered by Milwaukeeans and baseball bloggers alike seeking out some information. Tom Haudricourt must be losing his mind right now because he posted two items with similar titles just one minute apart: "Firing probably came from the top" and "This probably came from the top. Tom, do you think this firing came from the top?

UPDATE #2: The purveyors of this clever website are probably rejoicing at the news.

UPDATE #3: Don't count the Brewers out, folks. Replacing a manager in the middle of the season will typically bring the team a temporary bounce, and might push the Brewers to win a couple more games. I have zero statistical evidence to back this up. I am just making this up. Don't believe a word I say. Ever.

UPDATE #4: Does Yost have to come to Miller Park and clean out his office today? If so, maybe he can catch the end of the Cubs-Astros game, where Ted Lilly is no-hitting the Astros through five and one-third six innings.

UPDATE #5: Screw the Yostliveglogging, the Brewers home scorer just awarded an error to Aramis Ramirez on a play that most likely would have been ruled a hit if Ted Lilly weren't twirling a no-no.

UPDATE #6: Ted Lilly gives up a base hit to Mark Loretta, ending a FIFTEEN inning hitless streak for the Astros.

Weary AL Central Combatants Drag Tired Asses Around America

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The playoff picture in the AL is solidifying faster than the super glue that accidentally fused your thumb and index finger together this weekend when you were trying to fix the sunglasses you sat on. We know the Angels are in. The AL east teams are battling for first, but either of those teams has a 6 game Wild Card cushion. That leaves the spot at the top of the Central the last available playoff spot. Both the White Sox and the Twins are on the road all week. What's it looking like out there?

Chicago has a 1.5 game lead on Minnesota and tonight they start a 4 game series in the Bronx. The Yankees have won two in a row, and in this series will be getting starts from rookie Alfredo Aceves and the reanimated corpse of Phil Hughes. Stay away from him Alfredo, he's contagious. Hughes takes on Lance Broadway in what I'm dubbing, "The Biggest Comedy Matchup Of Wednesday." After that, Chicago heads to KC for a 3 game weekend series against those mighty Royals.

Minnesota begins the week at the Jake. The Indians have lost 3 in a row but will trot out Cliff Lee for the series finale on Thursday. After that the Twins will head to Tampa. The Rays are always tough at home but their series against the Sox this season have become hugely draining affairs leaving them vulnerable to whomever is next.

So who has the big advantage in this whole bildungsroman? As always, the Royals.

From A Gas Station Outside Providence: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Cubs and Astros at Miller Park: I think we've thoroughly covered last night's game don't you? Today's game will be the last Wisconsin based make up, and the third game of the series is being put on hold to be played only if the standings require it. Ted Lilly makes the start for Chicago against Brian Moehler who I swear I've written about 67 times on this site. If any of us cared (writers or readers) I'd go back and look it up. But who are we kidding? We're too busy picking the stromboli out of our teeth from lunch.

    The Astros error yesterday was only their 62 of the year. That's 13 better than the 2nd best fielding team, the Mets.
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This morning the New York Daily News reported that US Rep. Charles Rangel has been lobbying the IRS for more tax free bonds for the construction of the new Yankee Stadium and has since received increased donations from a Yankee affiliated law firm. It's not the sexiest of stories but it provides a peek behind the curtain at the often infuriating public subsidization of new stadiums.

The city and the Yankees secretly crafted a letter Rep. Charles Rangel used to lobby the IRS for tax changes that would save the team $66 million, the Daily News has learned.

They did this at the same time Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the team's law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, raised almost $25,000 for Rangel, records show.

The law firm's political action committee also donated an additional $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in this election cycle. Rangel is chairman of the DCCC's board of directors and a key fund-raiser for House Democrats. Yankees President Randy Levine is senior counsel at Akin Gump.

The Rangel letter was just one weapon in the Yankees' ongoing battle to get more tax-exempt financing for the new stadium rising in the Bronx. Last year, the team got $942 million in tax-free bonds through a city agency, but the team wants $350 million more.

The Daily News piece is pretty in depth, but the blog friendly gist is as follows. In the mid 80's the IRS put a cap on the amount of tax free bonds that could be obtained for the construction of a new sports stadium. The Yankees had already successfully lobbied the IRS once to relax these restrictions and saved themselves $181 million in tax costs. Stadium costs have gone over, and now they're looking for an additional $350 in tax free bonds, which would save them $66 million more.

The letters from Rangel to the IRS were drafted by someone in the mayor's office and then forwarded to the Yankees for review. The Yankees then sent them along to the office of the Democratic rep where they were presumably rubber stamped them and sent along. Since 2000, the total amount of money raised by both Yankee officials and Akin Gump sits around $45,000.

The IRS rejected the Rangel letter, requesting a direct letter from the city instead. So the return on the Yankee investment in Rangel seems to be about as effective as their investment in Carl Pavano.

(I tip my fedora with the piece of paper that says "press" in it to BBTF.)

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On September 1st, Americans (and Canadians!) celebrated their 24 hours of freedom from the crushing quotidian working life imposed by corporate overlords by grilling frozen hamburgers and drinking saccharine margaritas made with cheap tequila. Yes, it was Labor Day, and the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their 80-57 record, good enough for first place in the NL Wild Card standings by a hefty five-and-a-half game margin over the fading Philadelphia Phillies. Maybe, just maybe, the Brewers would finally drink from the chalice of postseason goodness for the first time since nineteen-dickety-two!

Or maybe they'd just be victims of the September Swoon. After getting swept in four games in Philadelphia this weekend, Milwaukee is tied for the wild card lead with the Phils and just two games ahead of the surprisingly decent Astros. They've complied a miserable 3-10 record in September, and outfielder Ryan Braun is unhappy with their latest failure:

"This series was a complete and total disaster," said Braun, who conceded the NL Central title to the Chicago Cubs. "It couldn't have gone any worse. They couldn't have played any better. We couldn't have played any worse. We can only go in one direction from here. It's not going to get worse."

He then mused about the fact that Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter and the Cubs big victory came at the Brewers home park:

"They're probably drinking champagne and having a beer shower right now in our locker room while we sulk about what happened here," Braun said. "It's ironic, where we're at as a team and how we feel at the end of this series and see them celebrating a no-hitter on our field.

No, Alanis. That's not ironic. Actually, the fact that you called your series with Philadelphia a "complete and total disaster" while your rival team was playing in your own ballpark because of a real life disaster...that's a little bit closer to irony.

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That nasty Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on Houston families and businesses over the weekend, but fans of the Houston Astros have bigger problems to deal with: their preferred baseball squadron has been forcefully relocated to a rival's ballpark! The Astros had a chance to pick up a game on the woeful Brewers, swept away in four games at Philly, but instead go no-hit by Carlos Zambrano and now sit two games out in the race.

The 'stros play one more 'home' game in 'Milwaukee' today but don't expect the Houston 'fans' to enjoy any of it:

These are two critical games, for which, whatever advantage a team may or may not have, could greatly alter the play off landscape for a division and a league. A Monday double header in Houston would have brought as meager as a crowd as this is predicted to bring in Milwaukee, but they would have been fans who were trying to forget the ill effects of a hurricane that had just rocked their world. They would have been cheering for the only thing that's worth cheering for in Houston at this time.

Um, isn't there a weeklong curfew in Houston right now? Isn't the power out all over town? Don't the city officials and police have more important things to worry about than a silly baseball game when millions dollars of damage has been incurred all over the gulf coast? How many rhetorical questions can I ask? Baseball is a business (crazy, I know!) and Herr Selig did the best he could to maintain the progression of a season, basically opening up a couch in his apartment and letting the Astros crash for a couple nights. It's not Bud's fault that the Astros thanked him for his hospitality by shitting the sofabed.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Padres fans.

Braves 7, Mets 4: The screenplay for the film version of the 2008 Mets bullpen's story is hackneyed and contains way too many forced twists and turns. Predictability is way better when things always go well, like a silly, sappy Disney cartoon where the princess always outsmarts the villain. The Mets bullpen, however, is like a bad Guy Ritchie movie where a five-run ninth inning outburst by the Braves offense is akin to the antihero getting taken out by an errant bullet. You saw it coming from miles away, so you groan. Luis Ayala was the victim this time, his second blown save as a Met.

Phillies 7, Brewers 3 (game one); Phillies 6. Brewers 1 (game two): So the Phillies picked up a game and a half in the division race and two in the wild card race thanks to winning both halves of a day-night dubbleheader. In the first, Ryan Howard tied it up in the sixth with his 44th tater tot and Pat Burrell got the go-ahead RBI with a single in the eighth. Starter Country Joe Blanton was satisfactorily mediocre once again, and was rewarded after the game with twelve racks of bison ribs. In the second, Burrell ding-donged while Brett Myers twirled a complete game winner in which his only mistake was a Prince Fielder solo tot. Four game sweep: D-U-N done.

Yankees 8, Rays 4: Edwin Jackson couldn't stand the heat and was pushed out of the kitchen by newcomer David Price. Alex Rodriguez' king dong and Jason Giambi's two run tater were enough to hand Jackson his eleventh loss, despite Price making his big-league debut with style and grace. Hey, giving up Derek Jeter's 1269th career hit at The Stadium (a homer that tied Gehrig's record) is a fucking privilege.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: So the Red Sox pick up a game on the Rays to pull them within one game of the division leader pending a three-game tussle in St. Pete starting tonight. Still, both teams have all but wrapped up playoff dancecards so this is all just parrying for home field advantage. THIS TIME IT COUNTS, RIGHT BUD SELIG? Jon Lester outdueled Roy Halladay while David Ortiz somehow legged out a triple. Good for him.

Orioles 7, Twins 3: The Twins gave up five ding-dongs and were absolutely shut down by rookie starter Radhames Liz. They took two of three from Baltimore, though, and get to face the Indians next, against whom they have compiled a tidy 10-5 record on the year.

Oh and the White Sox won twice, pushing the Twins back 1.5 games.

The Houston Astros home game in front of 24000 visiting team's fans turned from an old fashioned Cubs love-in to a pre-apocalyptic orgy when Carlos Zambrano recorded the final out of his no-hitter tonight at Miller Field in Milwaukee. The Big Z struck out 10, walked one and lived the American dream by hitting Hunter Pence. He got help from league leading double play man Miguel Tejada doing his GIDP thing after the lone walk and faced just one over the minimum. Zambrano out-hit the Astros himself, going 1-3 and scoring a run. Any reservations or concerns that Cecil Cooper had before this game have surely been put to rest after tonight's outcome.

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yankeestadiumsecurity.jpgThings haven't been so great for fans of the New York Yankees this year. Wide ranging injuries have depleted their starting rotation, knocked their starting catcher out for the year and sidelined numerous everyday contributors. The team is in fourth place and losing ground in their division to the Rays and Blue Jays. Yankee fans have had enough and they're going to let you know about player leaving the field due to injury:
Oft-injured Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano was booed off the mound when he left Sunday's start against Tampa Bay in the sixth inning after a visit by the trainer and manager Joe Girardi
That's right Phillies fans, you're off the hook. The same people that booed the Earth's Yellow Sun earlier this year decided to take it to an entirely new level. In an effort to appease the Bronx Zoo before the end of the season, Carl Pavano plans to dive face-first into the stands for a foul pop up.

Twice More, with Feeling

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twin-26.gifRelocated games, doubleheaders of consequence, and a whole wack of day games. Sounds good to me.

Daylight Delights: Delightful things all over the sked today. Roy Halladay will delight and entertain the appreciative Red Sox fans that haven't been priced out. The Rays will delight in never returning to old Yankee Stadium again. Angels fans, who really deserve something to cheer about this year, are being treated to nice little duel between King Felix and Ervin Santana. Greg Maddux will attempt to keep the Dodgers win streak alive in Colorado, only Aaron Cook and a bad Rockies team stand in his way. Mostly excellent Nick Blackburn faces mostly terrible Radhames Liz in Baltimore. The O's are finally showing that they suck as badly as most people expected before the season started.

Doing Double Duty: With a giant storm sitting over the mid-west, how many of these games will even be played? The Tigers and White Sox are playing two today, Justin Verlander and Javier Vasquez doing battle in game one while Kenny Rogers and Jon Danks go in game two. More rain would really complicate the stretch drive for the White Sox. Another rain out would find the Tigers roster eating themselves into such a state that I doubt they'll play another game all year. The Wild Card showdown in Philadelphia gets Joe Blanton and Dave Bush contesting who can throw the straightest fastball in game one. Game two sees Brett Myers taking on Jeff Suppan.

Moved to the high ground: The high ground that is 90 miles from the away teams stadium. It's bad enough being an Astro, why add this indignity? The Cubs and Astros are going to actually play a game today, in Milwaukee of course. Carlos Zambrano goes against the lukewarm Randy Wolf. Expect MLB officials to force Bernie Brewer into a bearsuit by the third inning.

Are there really only two weeks left in the season? Enjoy these Sundays, relish these final opportunities that carefree baseball present. You'll miss it when it's gone.
rockybeach.jpgThere were so many games played yesterday that each one seems like just another pebble on a beach.

Twins 12 x2, Orioles 2,6: What better way to gain ground than have your opponents playing WiiFit in the clubhouse all day. That and a trip to Baltimore. The Twins slowly added runs for their first decisive win only to jump right out to a huge lead in the second. The Twins and Sox are now tied in the Central but the Sox have two crucial games in hand. Can you have games in hand in baseball? The Royals had the Indians in their hand all day, sweeping their doubleheader. Cliff Lee didn't pitch, so the Indians front office doesn't care.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 1: Somebody should wake up the Diamondbacks and tell them the season is almost over. The Dodgers surely took notice and have served notice on the rest of the league. Winners of 4 in a row and 9 of 10, they moved 4.5 games ahead of the DBacks on the back of Clayton Kershaw. He hasn't been very consistent, but when he's good he's very good. The Diamondbacks lost to the Reds in extras, without games against the Dodgers they look to be in trouble. Tim Lincecum is still awesome. 12K complete game? Give him an increasingly meaningless award.

Rays 7, Yankees 1: The Rays welcomed Evan Longoria back in time to take game one against the Yankees but drop the second. Ben Zobrist's tetra-tot should have been enough, but the plucky Yankees scraped out a win. The Jays and Red Sox doubleheader went just like the Rays/Yanks. Big win for the second-class citizens in game one, big boys come from behind in game two. Dustin Pedroria's 50th double of the season was also his 200th hit, joining Tris Speaker and Wade Boggs in an exclusive Crimson Hose Club. Whether you hate Pedroria or merely dislike him, that is pretty impressive company. The Jays are done ya'll, but Travis Snider is the future.

Phillies 7, Brewers 3: The pitching match up between Parra and Hamels clearly wasn't in the cards when Manny Parra couldn't get out of the second inning. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Braun hit balls over fences while the only other offense for the Brewers came from Jason Kendall. That is not a good sign. Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Mets bullpen blew a game for Johan Santana. The Mets picked up the second game of their doubleheader to stay 2.5 games up on the Phillies. With a bullpen like this, it's a good thing the Mets haven't experienced any kind of epic collapse that may undermine their confidence for rest of the year.

The AL West is done, and Ike disqualified two NL Central teams, so consider that an even distribution of The Gas Face. Today's a boring day with only one doubleheader. Boo baseball, you can do better than that.

EMOTION

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K-Rod Sets Saves Record

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Congratulations are in order for Francisco Rodriquez. He pitched himself into a jam with a three run lead for the 58th time this season, breaking Bobby Thigpen's 18 year old record. No question he's had an excellent season; but If he wins the Cy Young, I quit.

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(Photo courtesy of teh Yahooz)
tatertots.jpgJorge Cantu's 25th home run of the year was an interesting one. It gave all four member of the Marlins starting infield at least 25 for the year, a first in big league history. An excellent achievement for any ball club, especially one operating on a shoestring. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzales kept the focus on team success, playing down the feat:
They will go down in history. These guys have got their names in the Hall of Fame. It should be. This was big, and I'm glad to be part of it.
While their offense is nice, they also represent one of the worst defensive infields in baseball (compared here to the Phillies) which goes along way to explain their winning record despite sporting a negative run differential. Sleazy owner Jeffry Loria praised his young team for hanging in this year, winning enough games to secure public funding for a new ballpark.

The Marlins run their team unlike any other in baseball. Free from the restrictive burdens of pleasing or having fans; they are able to reshuffle the deck every year with the lure of big contracts in other cities to get the most out of cheap, young guys or reclamation projects. Each record-setting infielder came to the Marlins in a different, cheapskatey way. Blue chipper exchanged for a superstar, non-roster invitee, rule 5 scumbag and home-grown throw-in draft pick. The Marlins were wise enough to lock up Hanley Ramirez long term (and now dealing with the repercussions), but Cantu and Uggla are both due raises at the end of the year. Most teams would try to find a way to keep this dynamic foursome together, but the Marlins have plenty of other scrubs in the pipeline to trot out in the rain.

(Coke Zeros to Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans, for the thoughts on the Marlins business model)

Rob Iracane Never Welches on Bets

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Hey, remember back in August when Camp Tiger Claw and I bet on the outcome of the final Red Sox/Yankees series in The Stadium? Yeah, me too. Here ya go, jerkfaces:

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Sorry it took so long to take this picture, but you have to understand how difficult it is to find a Red Sox hat in this area. After searching high and low throughout Northern NJ and Connecticut, we ended up at the Modells in Stamford where they had an enormous floor display full of Red Sox memorabilia. Trouble was, all the hats were behind the long checkout counter at the front of the store. Imagine how embarrassed I was to ask to try on one of the hats only to whip out that awful sign and have my girlfriend snap a photo. So, uh, go Red Sox, I guess.

So Much Baseball

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twoheaded.jpgSo many games today I can barely keep track. Enough time wasting, let's have a look

Ernie Banks has no need to refill his current Cialis prescription: SIX doubleheaders today thanks to yesterday's rainouts. The Jays and Sox were actually scheduled to play two today, the rest are just biters. The Jays took game one behind AJ Burnett and thanks to Travis Snider. The Rays and Yankees are also double-dippin' in a day/night stylee, the Rays holding a big lead through 6. The Indians and Royals are scheduled for two, but game one has been greatly delayed, putting game two in doubt. The Twins and O's are going the more traditional route, getting their first game under way at 5 Eastern with game to follow.

Fox Refuses to Participate in Free Baseball Giveaway: Two of the three Fox games are front halves of double headers, but you aren't getting game two for free. The Mets and Braves give the big audience a treat by starting Johan Santana and dare I say it, the rejuvenated Mike Hampton. A look at Mike's numbers put to rest any talk of juvenation. At least he's breathing! The White Sox and Tigers have similar offenses but give the Sox the edge because they've actually retired some batters this year. Kenny Rogers and Javier Vasquez go in game one, Zach Miner and Lance Broadway in the second. The biggest series of the weekend pits the Brewers and the Phillies in a battle for the Wild Card. Manny Parra and Cole Hamels will have my full and undivided attention, should I deign to offer it.

These Lazy Sods are Only Playing Once: Hopefully these players will use all their free time today donating blood, clothes and food with the local Red Cross. The National League offers all the quality duels today, with Edinson Volquez hooking up with Randy Johnson while Tim Lincecum and Chris Young making sweet love in a giant pitcher's park. Will K-Rod break the record tonight? Free agent to be Jon Garland hopes so. The Mariners send one of their great white hopes Ryan Feierabend to take on the AL West division champs.

Holy Shit! Baseball everywhere. I'm excited. You should be too.
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A move that had been long rumoured was finalized Friday when the DIamondbacks agreed to send famously mediocre Micah Owings to Cincinnati to complete the Adam Dunn trade.

The Reds were looking to fill Dunn's role as a Three True Outcome guy and couldn't resist Owings, who offers three outcomes at the plate and from the mound. Reds GM Walt Jocketty excitedly spoke of his most recent acquisition this afternoon:

21 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances? Solid. 2.12 K/BB with a 23% line drive rate in a hitter's park? Super. Home run, strike out, walk. Bingo, bango, bongo. His 89 OPS+ is eerily reminiscent of his 77 ERA+. We feel like we're getting a real two-way threat here today.
The identity of the missing piece was held back due to Owings experiencing shoulder trouble. New manager Dusty Baker expressed delight over the acquisition of another quality injured arm and ill-fitting leadoff hitter rolled into one.
handshake.jpgLike a true glutton for punishment, I approached Red Sox fan and compulsive gambler Camp Tiger Claw about a wager on the outcome of this weekend's Jays/Sox series. You see, my Blue Jays are flying quite high of late, winning 11 of 12 games and pushing their way into the periphery of the Wild Card race. The Jays winning streak was against only winning teams; making them seem closer than they really are and allowing me to look down my nose at the Astros. Drunk on the allure of Meaningful Baseball in September, I jumped at the chance to suffer in a public forum.

It was decided that the loser would have to post a video showcasing the most agonizing moment in his team's history. The kind of agony that only Youtube can express. This being a four game series, and the Jays needing no fewer than three wins to remain in striking distance, there will be no ties. A split series means a suffering Barber.

With game 1 already a painful memory, the Jays needs to sweep the doubleheader before I can rely on mighty Roy Halladay to save my dignity. Sounds unlikely. Just like the Jays playoff chances (1.3% fuck you very much).
god_listens_to_slayer.jpgHere's hoping this fine Saturday Morning finds you and yours safe and well. In honour of all the people displaced by this terrible storm, and in spite of the storm raining out our beloved baseball games, I'm putting in some overtime. That is right: short and mildly amusing recaps for all of last night's games! Fuck you Ike, proud Mary keep on burning.

Indians 12, Royals 5: Cy Young shoo-in Cliff Lee picked up 5th win of the year against the vaunted Royals. Lee cruised until the 9th; where he encountered some pot holes on the road to Statpad Town. Grady Sizemore ended his Oh-fer week with three hits, Jose Guillen hit 2 homers and next Royals savior-in-waiting Kila Ka'aihue picked up a base hit.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Tim Wakefield's knuckler was dancing and his personal catcher was totting. Wakefield surrendered three hits and didn't let a runner reach third in 8 rainy innings. That should about do it Toronto, thanks for your time. More on the implications of this later.

Pirates 10, Cardinals 2: Never trust a grown-ass man with blond hair. Nate McClouth went crazy with a dinger, a triple, a double, and 5 RBI. Pat Maholm had a solid night, allowing 2 runs in eight innings but canceling that out with 2 hits and 2 RBI. Poor Andy LaRoche, who's three hits I celebrated last Sunday, hasn't got one since. Jeff Karstens doesn't like all this pressure.

Marlins 2, Nationals 1: How did the rainiest place without a roof manage to get a game in last night? A fine game it was. Jorge Cantu hit a noteworthy home run that put the Marlins ahead in a low-scoring pitcher's duel. Shairon Martis struck out 9 Fish in 5 innings but took the loss. He's the guy that sort of pitched a no-hitter in the World Baseball Classic. He's going to be alright, as is Scott Olsen. He goes to bed a winner tonight for the first time since July 10th.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 2: The Dodgers stayed hot and stayed on top of their division. Manny and Andre Either predictably picked up 4 hits while Matt Kemp and James Loney drove the important runs home. Either has added more than 80 points to his OPS in September with his Dodgers losing just once in that span. You hear that Weinstein? EITHER RUNS LA.

Diamondbacks 3, Reds 2: When the DBacks brought Adam Dunn in for offense, I don't think this is what they had in mind. A bases loaded walk followed by a wild pitch was enough "offense" for the Snakes to beat the Reds. Brandon Lyon's first two outs of the ninth were easy but the third was elusive. The two runners he left came around to score, but Chad Qualls struck out Jerry Hairston to end the game.

Rangers 7, A's 0: This ain't your kid sister's Teagarden. The Rangers are flush with powerful catchers with ridiculous names. Taylor Teagarden's 4th home run since being called up has given him a leg-up on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "Salty" hasn't played since Taylor arrived, the only person more angry about it is the clubbie with the bloodied stitching fingers. Hank Blalock homered for the third straight game, his first since moving to first base. Hammering Hank is surprisingly only 27, hopefully he can stay healthy at the lukewarm corner. Matt Harrison pitched his first career shutout in this pasting of the A's.

Giants 5, Padres 2: Somebody break up the Giants! Winners of 6 outta 7, the Giants beat up on Poor Jake Peavy with offense from all over. Even Omar Vizquel added two knocks! He's hitting a cool .196, more than twice his weight so the other players don't hassle him too badly. Travis Ishikawa homered, continuing his second excellent September audition. Might he be a good offensive piece for the Giants future? Might he be part of a package to lure Ken Griffey Jr away from the White Sox in the winter? Only the voices in Brian Sabean's head know the truth.

Angels 5, Mariners 3: Miguel Batista has transformed from tragically misunderstood artiste to tragically miscast baseball player. The author of the great American religious vampire novel gave up a walkoff jack to Mike Napoli in the bottom of the ninth. Joe Saunders pitched 6 excellent innings that may not have earned him a win, but might save his job for the postseason. Francisco Rodriquez pitched a bullpen session in hopes of being credited with another save.

That is it for last night. Obviously Hurricane Ike gets the Gas Facing of a lifetime. There are about 40 games today, all with playoff implications. I'm feeling particularly frisky, so check in early and often. Our thoughts remain with everyone in Galveston today, take some time to call your Mom if you get a chance. She'd like to here from you. I'll just shout up the furnace vent.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kiddies, blame it on the rain.

  • HOW will the Cubs and Astros keep themselves busy if that Turner Field thing doesn't pan out? I've got Travel Connect Four and some crosswords.

  • COULD the Blue Jays really pull this shit off and beat the Red Sox this weekend? It's Peptember on Bloor Street!

  • WILL the Phillies continue to make things uncomfortable for Bob Uecker and his Brewers? Cole Hamels faces Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra in a must-win for both teams.

  • IS that thing a Squid Baby or an Octopus Baby? Either way, I want to grill it and serve it with some cannellini beans and broccoli rabe.

  • MIGHT Brandon Webb finally locate his sinker and win his 20th game?

  • WHO will be our next bigtime guest writer, following in the footsteps of the great Will Carroll? Call me, Geoff Baker and/or John Fay.

Tune in to your nationally and locally televised baseball games this weekend, friends, and come back to read Lloyd the Barber celebrate his birthday weekend by posting the scores and previews. Tonight: Yankees/Rays on ESPN at 7PM. Happy Birthday Lloyd!

(Thanks to commenter UTFLW for locating that awesome pic)

Hurricane IKE May Relocate Cubs/Stros To Atlanta's TURNER Field

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So the uber dangerous Ike continues to stomp toward Texas. The AJC reports the suddenly meaningful Cubs/Stros game could move to Turner field. They may be avoiding a natural disaster, but they're running head long into a mechanical one.

Again, stay safe everybody.

America, Meet Troy From West Virginia Is Back

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We usually try to abstain from posting more than one video in the same day. But this could not wait. I'd like to introduce you all to Troy From West Virginia. Troy is a huge Dodgers fan with huge sideburns. He has a cork board at work where he has pictures of the entire Dodgers roster, stationed positionally. Please make sure you're not drinking anything at the 2:24 mark.

Get ready to do the hibbity dibbity, and you can say you knew know Troy before he was a star.



(Update: Alas, we did not discover Troy. He got some play for his video about Joe Beimel earlier this year.)

2008 Roy Of The Year: Oswalt vs. Halladay

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For awhile I was trying to fight the overwhelming tide of Cliff Lee for Cy Young talk. I'd been enamored all season with Roy Halladay's no guff, 9 inning, 2.5 hour spinning and thought people were mostly swayed by Lee's gaudy win loss record. But alas, even I have been swayed by Lee's across the board dominance and dream season. And now with a resurgent Roy Oswalt leading the Astros to pissing distance of the Wild Card, Doc may not even be the best Roy of 2008.

Let's take a closer look and see who gets the nod: Harry Leroy Halladay or um... Roy Oswalt. Roll those beautiful stats!

Roy Halladay
224 IP
1.05 WHIP
154 ERA +
193 K
35 BB

Trump Card: 8 CG

Roy Oswalt
190 IP
1.18 WHIP
120 ERA+
148 K
43 BB

Trump Card: Since All-Star break he's 8-1 having allowed 16 ER in 69 IP. Currently has 32.1 inning scoreless streak.

While Oswalt has been white hot as of late, the Roy of the Year must take into account an entire season's body of work. I'm going to give the nod to Halladay. Here to present the award is Roy Scheider! Oh no, really? Oops. RIP Seaquest Dude.

Today's classic TV post takes us back to the halcyon days of 1970, when a dude high on hallucinogenics could simply meander out of Dick Cavett's audience to shake Mickey Mantle's hand in the middle of an interview. Also appearing as guests with the Commerce Comet: the Chairman of the Board Whitey Ford and the world's shortest folk rocker Paul Simon. Please to enjoy:

There are two other parts to this show; you can see them at Kliph Nesteroff's Classic Television Showbiz blog. It's just Paul Simon blathering on about how much he hates Art Garfunkel, so don't get too excited.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGWhat is it that I like so much about the Fall? Well, I live in New England, and for it's burtal Winters and muddy crappy Springs, the area is rewarded with an Autumn that is the most beautiful time to be anywhere. No area matches up to a season so well. Also, it's the arrival of baseball's postseason. And since I'm not an Orioles fan, that gets me excited! All of these things add up to making fall my favorite season hands down. If any of the following bitchsticks need me to push them around in their iron lungs to see the foliage, I'd be obliged.

  • Paul Konerko, White Sox: Paulie sprained his MCL and is day to day and stuff like that. Psst. Paul. If you come back sooner than expected.... mail me your pills.

  • Brandon Phillips, Reds: Brandon Phillips had his own Bill Brasky moment No he didn't eat a homeless person on a dare, but he did break his index finger while driving in the winning run against the Brewers. The bit of heroics landed has led the Reds to shut down his season. But, in a year where highlights were few for this club, I'm sure it was worth it. TO BILL BRASKY!

  • Jim Johnson, Orioles: Johnson has what is being referred to as an "impingement" in his right shoulder. To me this sounds like a legal term so perhaps they should subpoena the thing out of his shoulder then file a restraining order. In any case, he's being shut down.

  • Gabe Kapler, Brewers: Mr. Kotter tore an undisclosed muscle in his right shoulder. I'm guessing it was due to a court ordered impingement. His season is over. The big question on everyone's mind is will he retire again and go back to mana.....zzzzzzzz

  • Fred Lewis, Giants: Grandpa Munster is missing the rest of the season because he's having a bunion removed from his foot. Wow that's nasty. But maybe you could use this as an opportunity to broach the subject with your wife so she'll do the same.

  • Troy Glaus: Um... Tootie from the Facts of Life? Anyway, Glaus has tendinitis in his shoulder making this the week of the shoulder. You know what that means! The 10th caller at 1-800-WALK-OFF wins a cider braised pork shoulder!
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The Mets are getting tired of punting season after season in baseball, so they've decided to invest some cash in punting soccer balls. (Now that's a hacky sportsblog lede). The MLS wants to expand to 18 teams and they've always wanted to add a second New York/New Jersey team, so why not Queens? The Mets have the money, so why not blow it all on a soccer team? It's kismet!

The Mets would most likely build another new stadium for the soccer team, where they would also host other events, like concerts or Grito de Dolores parties. Cash money!

Here's the club's executive vice president of spending money on things other than overpriced relief pitchers, David Howard, in an interview with Bloomberg News:

"Our vision is not to be just a successful baseball team, but to be a world-class sports and media entertainment company. We're a lot closer to that goal than we were five years ago. We're not resting. Before even Citi Field is completed, we're looking to see what might be next for us. There's a lot of opportunity and potential."

There is also a ton of opportunity and potential in something called a 'farm system', Mets guy. How about reinvesting that cash in rebuilding the team from the ground floor, since they gave up all that talent for Johan Santana? Leave the soccer for the teams who really have zero financial interest in running a baseball team.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Braves fans.

Phillies 6, Brewers 3: I watched the first few innings of this important game with wild-card implications on some website that was showing a live feed of Japanese TV. When Ryan Howard hit his first inning two-run ding-dong, the Japanese announcers took a break from their language to shout "IT'S GONE" and "HOME RUN" in English, as if it was the single greatest home run in baseball history. Moral: baseball is more fun in Japanese. The Phillies close to within 3 of the idle Mets and 3 of the Brewers.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 2: Of course, after about an hour of the Phillies game, whoever was illegally transmitting that contest switched to the Chicago-St. Louis game so as to show Kosuke Fukudome and his band of merry Cubbies attempt to step on the Cardinals' collective face and push 'em outta playoff contention. Of course, this was eventually pre-empted by Angels-Mariners so as to show Ichiro...being Ichiro.

Astros 6, Pirates 0: Somehow, the Astros just keep on keepin' on despite the utter incompetence of General Manager Ed Wade. This time, Roy Oswalt put his balls on the line and absolutely positively shut down the weak Pirates lineup for his second straight complete game shutout. Fella even retired 20 straight at one point and needed just 90 pitches to finish the contest. The game was over in 129 minutes, or 37 whole minutes shorter than the latest Spike Lee joint. 'Stros pick up a game on Milwaukee.

Royals 3, Twins 2 (10): Oh, that Minnesota bullpen. Embarking on another 10 game road trip could not possibly be good for the Twinkies, and to leave home on this sour note will make even the happiest-go-luckiest fan let loose with an audible sigh. Dennys Reyes gave up the game-winning hit to Rutgers' own David DeJesus, of all people.

Blue Jays 6, White Sox 4: Scoreless after seven, this one exploded into real live baseball in the eighth. The Jays put up a six-spot in the top half and the Sox dropped four in the bottom. Adam Lind left eight (8!) runners on base. The Sox remain 1 game ahead of the Twins. (oops!)

Tonight's Questions

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seahorse baby.jpgHey kids, stay fresh.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Seahorse Baby.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • EJ Fagan says what everyone has been thinking forever: the BBWAA award system is broken. It's sad that the BBWAA can collectively be so daft. MVN.com.

  • Jonah Keri expounds on the most devastating injuries that have derailed the playoff hopes of baseball teams. Any column that namedrops Gary DiSarcina is a good one. ESPN Page 2.

  • Maury Brown makes some suggestions for fixing the flailing Nationals franchise. Dude, don't help them out. It's more fun to watch them strugggggggggle. Biz of Baseball.

  • GEICO's Matt Cerrone shits all over The 700 Level's Dan Levy and jinxes his team. MetsBlog brought to you by GEICO.

  • Look! Another fucking listicle! Just what the sportsblogosphere needs! Simon on Sports.

  • Rinku nearly cut himself making pork ribs. Again. Will these boys ever learn? The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Our first Walkoff Walk Pants Party might take place this winter in...Milwaukee? Brewers Blog.

  • Some chucklehead swallowed a big gulp of Thompsons Water Seal. The comments here are hilarious. FFToday Forums.

Hurricane Ike Bears Down On Texas

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In our world that means the Cubs/Astros series is in jeopardy. In the real world it means that a very scary and powerful storm is going to make landfall on the Texas coast, and have repercussions for a huge area around it.

Our thoughts go out to anyone about to be affected by this.

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As if ruining the landscape of American rock 'n' roll with Oasis wasn't bad enough, now those wacky British folks have figured out that our national pastime of 'base-ball' is, in fact, a British creation. It seems some dweebs at the Surrey History Centre (that's the British -re, not the American -er, so you know it's classy) dug up a new manuscript that they consider evidence that the sport Albert Pujols plays should be enjoyed over tea and crumpets, not hot dogs and Miller Lite:

A diary entry which talks about a game played in Guildford, Surrey in 1755 has been verified as authentic by the Surrey History Centre.

The handwritten entry was discovered in the diary of lawyer William Bray and documents a game with friends on Easter Monday of that year when he was still a teenager.

So? Big whoop. Baseball started in the United States in the late eighteenth century. This is historical fact. Whatever game they played in England was probably closer to cricket than what we consider baseball today. So they used the word "base" and married it to the word "ball". Whatever reference to that word doesn't matter, because the British smell funny and have horrid teeth. Race Relations Thursday!

Julian Pooley, the manager of Surrey History Centre, was able to verify that the document was genuine because he is an expert on Bray and is responsible for a vast array of diaries written by the solicitor and local historian between 1756 and 1832.

Sounds like someone is telling fibs to increase his own notoriety and renown. Alright, Pooley, we know you forged those diaries. Own up. We know you Brits will do anything to denigrate America's favorite sport. After all, isn't it strange that the 2012 London Olympics will be the first ones in 24 years without baseball?

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Race Relations Thursday rolls on here at Walkoff Walk. And what would a discussion of sensitivity and amalgamation be without some input from political correctness mastermind, Ozzie Guillen? Bubkus, that's what. So hot off the pages of the Sporting News, I give you Ozzie's inside take on the racial dynamic of a modern MLB clubhouse.

SN: Is there a cultural divide between Latino players and American players that is harmful in some way?

GUILLEN: You don't pick your teammates. You will see the Latinos here, the Asians here, the white guys here, the African American guys here. That's normal. I don't expect (Juan) Uribe and (Paul) Konerko to go and have dinner. ... I think Latinos are more loud than anybody else. Sometimes the American guys are like, "Shut the (expletive) up, we'll kick you out." But I've never seen any racist problems since I've been here, never seen any player say they were offended by somebody.

I know the White Sox have a lot of older ballplayers on their roster but I didn't know Don Rickles was one of them. "Hey hockey puck, if you're so Spanish how come you aren't from Spain?" I'm sure if someone was offended they'd go straight to Ozzie and tell him about it. That faggot sure knows from offensive dialogue!

In all seriousness, the interview is a great read and vintage Ozzie. I especially enjoy his Libertarian take on immigration and look forward to seeing it pop up in the presidential debates.

I'm a citizen of the best country of the world, but I didn't want to lose my citizenship in Venezuela. It turns out you don't lose your citizenship when you are an American citizen. ... It took a long time, maybe three years, for my wife to convince me to start applying for the papers. I say if the United States want Ozzie Guillen, they should give me the (expletive) passport without papers because I pay my taxes, don't do any illegal things, I was clean, I invest lot of money in this country, I spend a lot, I make a lot of people happy.

You sure do, Ozzie. You sure do.

(Coke oweage: BBTF)

Gin: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 1:10, Royals at Twins:Last night, Minnesota stayed just a game back in the Central. A remarkable feat considering the tumult of the past month or so. Brandon Duckworth gets the start for KC and Francisco Liriano goes for the Identicals. Since his return on August 3, Liriano has allowed just 10 ER in 43 innings. He's conquered the wildness that plagued him in his first big league stint this season, and has surrendered just 2 walks in his last 20 IP. Alexei Cassila has gotten his swing back slapping 8 hits in the past 4 games. The maligned bullpen has pitched 4 scoreless innings in the series. Things could get tough again when they head out on another 10 game road trip after today.

    As for the Royals, well I think the last line of today's titular poem sums things up mighty well for their fans.

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Well, allegedly. A supervisor and a server at Turner Field's 755 Club restaurant are filing discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying they were passed over for promotions at the swank, Aramark-run club:

In her complaint, (Johnnie) Anderson, 46, claims she was passed over for a promotion because of her age and because she is black. A manager told her "he wanted to change the look of the club and hire a white male," Anderson wrote in a letter accompanying her complaint. It is addressed to Braves legend Hank Aaron.

Why did she write to Hank Aaron? Because as the news article says, "The 755 Club is named after Hank Aaron's former record for home runs." Oh zing, Atlanta Journal Constitution. Way to knock a man while he's down.

Hey, with eighteen and a half games separating themselves from the playoff race, the 755 Club is the only thing Braves fans have got going for them anymore. Hank Aaron, please put on your investigative hat and your investigative pants and find out what's gone sour in your club. Walkoff Walk will not stand for explicit racism and sexism in the workplace! Although we are about to fire our intern Darren for constantly screwing up our coffee orders. Idiocy will not be tolerated!

(We owe a Diet Coke with Lemon to Matt_T)

Hey Reuters, Is Your Refrigerator Running?

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Justin Speier 1, Reuters 0.

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(We owe a coke to Halos Heaven.)
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The MLB playoffs are still 19 days away but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim decided to get on board the playoff train a little bit before it leaves the station. No AL West team has ever clinched the division this early, not even the 114-win 2001 Seattle Mariners (thanks to a 102-win season from the 2001 A's).

Don't worry about the Angels getting bored, though, they brought some crosswords and Travel Connect Four to keep themselves busy. Heck, with their upcoming schedule (six vs Texas, three vs Oakland, and a hearty eight vs lowly Seattle) they're everyone's favorite to clinch the vaunted homefield advantage come playoff time.

The Angels got the job done yesterday with a 4-2 home win over the Yanks and waited patiently to clinch with Seattle's 8-7 win over Texas. Some of the fans stayed around in Anaheim to get sprayed with carbonated adult beverages, though. Got beer stains? A little club soda will get that out.

What does the future hold for the Angels? Well, on a team built on starting and relief pitching, a couple well-placed tater tots by Mark Teixeira or Vlad Guerrero will put them in good position to advance in the postseason. Just be careful with all this time off. They don't want to get sunburnt in the wrong places.

Baseball Before Bedtime: She Loves Jesus

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Here's what happened in baseball while you traveled through shadows.

Angels 4, Yankees 2: We have our first playoff team of 2008. The Angels clinched the AL West behind 2 RBI from Rob Quinlan and a throwing error from Xavier Nady. Francisco Rodriguez had notched his 56th save, putting him one behind Bobby Thigpen's record. My friend Ryan from third grade has the same birthday as Bobby Thigpen. He told me this while trading cards once in the early 90s.

Mets 13, Nats 10: David Wright funny boned for the 28th time, and the Mets took this slugfest to send Washington out of town in a dustpan. Cristian Guzman had 5 RBI in the losing effort. New York opened up its NL East lead to 3.5 because...

Marlins 7, Phillies 3: ...Ricky Nolasco struck out and 8 and led the Fish to victory. Luis Gonzalez hit a ding dong, giving him an MLB record of 78 consecutive seasons with 8 or more HRs. Brett Myers stunk out the joint.

White Sox 6, Toronto 5: Roy Halladay got touched up for 5 ER in 6 IP and the Blue Jays win streak was snapped at 10. AJ Pierzynski had 3 RBI and Mark "The Barber" Buerhle gave up just one run in 7 IP. The White Sox stayed one game ahead of the Twins, who beat KC 7-1.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, I was just testing you.

  • WILL the Mets fully exorcise their Nationals demons with the 2 game sweep?

  • ARE you believing in a Blue Jays playoff appearance? If so, you're an idiot or a foreigner, but they have a chance to sweep the White Sox.

  • WHO grabs rubber at Fenway?

  • DID the Twins stop trying? That seems to be the only explanation for last night's win against KC. They'll try to not give a shit again with Kevin Slowey on the mound.

  • ARE the Cubs going to lose again?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
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There are five games going on this afternoon and I just couldn't choose which one to follow. So I said to myself, "Self, instead of doing a shitty job covering one of these games for the Liveglog Club, you should do an extra-shitty job covering all five of them!" I've got to figure out a way to silence that voice in my head. It's always getting me into jams.

I will do my best to catch you up in what happened during the beginning of the A's-Tigers game and the Brewers-Reds contest. But mostly I'll just be making Bob Uecker jokes. As for the Yankees game, well, I'll mind my P's and Q's this time and try my hardest not to curse out Rex Hudler and/or our commenters.

CTC gave y'all a good rundown of what's what, but to recap:

    Athletics (66-78) @ Tigers (70-75), 1:05pm
    Reds (66-79) @ Brewers (82-63), 2:05pm
    Yankees (77-68) @ Angels (87-57), 3:35pm
    D'backs (71-73) @ Giants (64-80), 3:45pm
    Marlins (73-72) @ Phillies (79-66), 4:05pm

This is either the greatest idea in the history of glogging or we may end creating an enormous black hole with the collision of so many particles of glog. SUPERCOLLIDER after the jump:

Regression And Depression In Southeast Wisconsin

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The top of the NL Central has been melting faster than the polar ice caps in recent weeks. Chicago's troubles have been playing out nationally since the only thing people like talking about better than the Cubs is the Cubs as lovable losers.

A more recent, but just as precipitous decline is being exhibited by the 2nd place, and Wild Card leading Brewers. They've lost 7 of nine going and are about to embark on a 10 game road trip that starts in Philadelphia. That's where the Phillies live and they're only 3 games back for that coveted WC. But I'm sure people in Milwaukee are handling it fine. I've been there many times. They're laid back folk. Uh oh.

Is there any hope of the Brewers ending this horrible skid and making it to the playoff or is their offense irreparably broken?

The collapse of the offense has been absolutely stunning. During the nine games, the Brewers have scored just 24 runs while batting .216 as a team. Without Ray Durham's pinch three-run homer in the seventh inning, the Brewers would have scored just one run tonight off one of the worst pitching staffs in the league.

They are on the verge of a historic collapse. They had a 4 1/2 game lead in the wild card race with 20 games to go. If they blow that and don't make the playoffs, it will be about as sad as it gets.

Hmm. So maybe they aren't taking it so well, but are they overreacting? After Philadelphia, the Brewers travel to Chicago and then Cincinnati. The Phillies are playing better than them, and Chicago and Cincinnati have owned them as of late. On the plus side, the Philly and Chicago series are the kind of high risk, high reward matchups that could cement the Crew's playoff chances if their bats wake up. Then we could stop all this wringing of plump, ghostly white hands.

From On Being Fired Again: Today's Afternoon Games

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liveglog.jpgIt's a special Liveglog Wednesday. DJ Robbie I will be on the left and right mouse buttons spinning a very special Liveglog Mashup for all of you. Starting at 3 he's gonna be taking a spin around his XM dial bringing you live game action and jokes from all over baseball. Take your Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club Blazer off. Wave it 'round your head like a helicopter.

  • 1:05, A's at Tigers: Armando Gallaraga takes the hill for Detroit. Yahoo deftly points out that he has become the lone bright spot on the team. That is sad. Well not really. Eat shit, Leyland. The A's trot out Sean Gallagher, destined to spend the rest of his career as the guy that got traded for Rich Harden, now that Harden has found away to quintuple his productivity by only getting injured once a year.

  • 2:05, Reds at Brewers: The NL Central is collapsing from the top down and it's making for some compelling baseball watching. We'll discuss this more later, but today Bronson Arroyo takes on CC Sabathia. Huge game for Milwaukee.

  • 3:35, Snakes at Giants: Our afternoon is also graced with one of the teams trapped in that NL West struggle. Throw out the records and you have yourself a good old fashioned (insert cliche). The Giants have one hand on the broom closet. 2008: Year Of the Spoiler.

  • 3:35, Yankees at Angels: Rubber in Anaheim as the Angels' magic number remains at two. Andy Pettite takes on Dustin Moseley. I'm more concerned with whether or not this poet shows up again.

  • 4:05, Marlins at Phillies: Stacks of rubber at CBP and puddles of puke in the lot. Ricky Nolasco, he of the stellar season and Brett Myers, he of everyone hating him, will duel as the now 2.5 game back Phils look to stay tight. Myers was solid in his last start saying "I always knew I could do it." But no one wanted you to.

  • 4:40, Texas at Seattle:

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In the Red Sox 7-2 win over the hapless Rangers on Sunday, big bopper David Ortiz hit his first tater tot in twenty games, his longest power outage in quite some time. Yeah, that wrist injury is still killing him and making his once powerful whipping swing quite tentative. He's might still have that clicking problem in his wrist that may be affecting him more mentally than physically. The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin got the important Papi quotes:

"Yup, been a while," Ortiz said, of hitting a home run. "I've just had zero luck. Swinging like [expletive]. My hand is not OK. It's still bothering me once in a while, but we're winning so I don't pay attention to it. I keep on trying."

What was the expletive, Ms. Benjamin? This is wildly important information to baseball bloggers! Was it 'shit'? Was it 'hell'? Was it one of those silly non-curse words you hear on "Donna Reed" reruns, like 'fiddlesticks'? The baseballblogosphere wants to know!

More importantly, as Amalie points out, Ortiz has been productive during his mini-power outage. Kid's got just one homer, but ten doubles and eighteen walks for a .899 OPS, which is actually higher than the .876 OPS he recorded during the season's first 70 games. And since the Red Sox trail Texas by just 27 runs in the race to be the highest-scoring team in the American League, nobody in Boston is complaining about Big Papi's wonky wrist. They've got bigger problems to deal with.

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Ever go to a baseball game with your kid, sit real close to the dugout, and collect a neat souvenir from a player who broke his bat fouling a ball off on a wicked cutter? Yeah, me neither. But actually, very few fans have picked up any of these broken bats since July 2nd, because the Major League Baseball Safety and Health Advisory Committee rounded up all the shards for Very Important Scientific Research:

Since July 2nd, MLB Authenticators have collected every bat that has broken during Major League games. To date, more than 1,700 broken bats have been collected for analysis. The Committee has compiled relevant information for each broken bat, including its manufacturer, the model, its dimensions, the situation of the game when it was broken, the area in which the bat fragments landed, and video footage from MLB.com of each broken bat incident.

Yes, the Safety and Health Advisory Committee hired some nerds from the US Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory to figure out exactly why baseball bats have been exploding with such frequency as to cause multiple injuries. The latest press release basically says: "Hey, we're still figuring this shit out. Give us some time." David Kretschmann is the HNIC for the FPL and has this to say:

Much of the speculation on broken bats this year has centered on bats made of maple. But Kretschmann said it was too simplistic to ban maple bats. "It's a much more complicated problem than that," he said. "The species itself is not necessarily the root of the problem. There are lots of factors involved, including the limitations on bat size and handle size."

Kretschmann said players were using bats of such shape and length that it's like swinging a toothpick with a brick at the end of it. "If you hit a ball going 95 mph with that, it will shatter because the brick is hanging out there," he said. "It's an impression I have had over the years in that the dimensions and shapes of bats have gone to the extreme end."

Sounds like Dave's got it all figured out and he sounds like a man with a plan in that egghead of his. But put that guy in front of the MLB Players Association and they'd laugh his ass out of that meeting faster than Troy Tulowitzki could smash his bat. Troy will give you that maple toothpick when you take it out of his cold, dead hands, nerd!

Baseball Before Bedtime: Bones

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Here's what happened in baseball while waiting for the sun to go down:

Braves 5, Rockies 4 (10): Save the shrimp for the jambalaya, gramma. A walkoff balk is nice but it ain't our blog's name. Still, it's nice for the Braves to make waves after such a disappointingly unlucky 2008 season. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the tenth, Rockies reliever Taylor Buchholz balked, sending Kelly Johnson home with the winning run. Taylor, next time intentionally walk the batter to at least give us the hope for a WoW. Thanks.

Mets 10, Nationals 8: Carlos Delgado is doing everything in his power to steal MVP votes from Albert Pujols. Heck, this whole Pujols surgery nonsense may just be a rumor planted by Carlos himself! Fella connected for two ding-dongs and picked up his 103rd RBI. NL MVP may be a stretch but I'm willing to name him Most Valuable Carlos. Eat shit, Beltran. You too, Mencia.

Indians 6, Orioles 1: Hey, remember Travis Hafner? Yeah, me neither. Either way, he's back from his silly stint as a minor league folk hero, all ready to help Cleveland with their push towards a .500 record. Good for him.

Marlins 10, Phillies 8: On Baseball Tonight, John Kruk said that Charlie Manuel should never have let Kyle Kendrick take eight days of rest between starts and that Kendrick got so hammered tonight because his excessive rest prevented him from keeping his slider down. I disagree, Kruk. Here's why: Kyle Kendrick is not a good pitcher and the Marlins have good home run hitters and Citizens Bank Park is a hitter's park. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on the guy, after all, he doesn't even get final cut on his own dumb opinions.

Rays 5, Red Sox 4: The Rayspocalypse will not be televised. Except in Boston, where they saw someone named Dan Johnson spoil their garden parties. Kid hit a solo jimmyjack off Jon Papelbon to tie the game in the ninth; a Dioner Navarro RBI double put the Rays ahead, and Troy Percival saved it in the bottom of the inning. This all happened after Jason Bay rewrote his own tribute song with a go-ahead two run ding-dong in the eighth.

Athletics 3, Tigers 2: Emil Brown hit the game-winning sac fly. Neat.

Astros 9, Pirates 3: Forget it Jake, it's Pittsburgh.

Doesn't Count

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Walkoff Balks are for suckers.

Tonight's Questions

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sharkbaby.jpgHey kids, every night could be your last when you sleep on a moving freight train.

  • ARE the Red Sox going to take over first place in the AL East? Not if they can't play.

  • HOW much would continuing the Cubs' slide make up for the Cardinals' disappointing second half?

  • WILL the Angels clinch the division tonight? Their magic number is down to two.

  • IS it safe to go back in the water? Yes. Shark Baby is still teething.

  • CAN the Mets block out last season's tragic collapse against Washington, a team that had a big part in said collapse? I hope not! Beat it, Mets fans.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and Rob's liveglog. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Doug Glanville reflects on his big league debut and ponders the idea of 'arriving'. His minor league manager seems like a real peach! NY Times.

  • Phony Gwynn chooses which teams he'll latch onto now that his Padres have been eliminated from the 2008, 2009, and 2010 playoffs. Really, Phony? The Rays? Sigh. And Here Come the Pretzels.

  • Jeff Passan reflects on the tenth anniversary of the Summer of McGwire and Sosa. Shame on all the other sportswriters out there who produced sappy story after sappy story in '98 and yet now claim they knew what was going on all along. Yahoo! Sports.

  • Rinku and Dinesh have a chilled-out day eating burgers and watching Predator with JB sir's sister. The Million Dollar Arm Blog

  • Thoughts and prayers to Reds beat blogger John Fay who underwent an angioplasty last week. Yeah, covering Dusty Baker will give ANYONE a heart attack. Cincinnati Enquirer

  • Put rocks in your drinks. Real rocks. Zing. Boing Boing Gadgets.

Twins Bullpen Breaks Down Worse Than Margot Kidder

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Too bad the Metrodome doesn't have a retractable roof. The bullpen stinks. Lulz.

The dapper and knowledgeable La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has traced a direct line between the Twins' late season collapse and the utter permeability of the relief corps.

The bullpen crisis is unprecedented in (Pitching Coach Rick) Anderson's tenure. Twins relievers have ranked no worse than fifth in the AL in ERA since he took over the pitchers when Ron Gardenhire was hired as manager in 2002. The Twins led the league with a 2.91 bullpen ERA in 2006 and were fifth last year at 3.80.

As of Monday, the Twins bullpen ERA of 4.07 ranked ninth in the league -- including a 4.76 ERA since Aug. 1. While the relievers' home ERA is a sparkling 2.48, it is 5.74 on the road. Part of the problem stems from a season-ending elbow injury suffered by top setup man Pat Neshek in early May.

The Twins suffered four walk-off losses during their recently completed 14-game road trip. And they have lost five games this season during which they have led by three or more runs in the seventh inning or later. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins lost a total of five games in that manner from 2003 to 2007.

Joe Nathan blew three saves during the recent road trip -- and he is one of the best closers in the game. Nathan had blown only three of his first 38 save opportunities this year.

That home/road ERA split doesn't tell a fully accurate story. As you can see in this month by month breakdown of the bullpen ERA, it actually dipped in August when they were on their GOP road trip. It's popped back up again at home in September. Don't worry thought Minnesota fans. You're not out of it yet because your pitching coach has it allllll figured out.

"To me, the reason for the inconsistency is that they are all trying too hard," Anderson said.
See? Situation under control.

How Could You Not: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Blue Jays at White Sox: Due to last night's rain out (refunds available from Jerry Reinsdorf's proctologist) these two boffo squads will play two games today. The first falls squarely in our afternoon game wheelhouse. AJ Burnett faces off against the mercurial Javy Vasquez. Actually, he's easy to predict. He looks good against bad offenses and bad against good ones. Pretty simple. The Jays have won 8 in a row scoring an average of 6 runs a game in those contests. Could be a tough day for Vasquez. In two pieces of positive Sox news, Paul Konerko has homered in three straight and Paul Konerko is still alive.

    And hey, Weekend Sommelier Lloyd be gloggin' it at Ghostrunner On First. Please to enjoy.

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From time to time, Camp Tiger Claw and I discuss baseball like calm, thoughtful intellectuals. This is not one of those times. This is one of those chats where we just throw feces at each other like monkeys.

Please enjoy our conversation, prompted by Geoff Baker's column today regarding Nate Silver's PECOTA system for predicting individual player performance and whether or not it can be used to predict a team's record.

CTC: Geoff Baker dusted off all the PECOTA's
Rob: whee
I WAS RIGHT I WAS WRIGHT
CTC: they effed up the AL Central as bad as everybody else
Rob: indeed
but you have to understand
rosters change
they do a far better job on individual projections
"And yes, they came close to nailing the M's offensive numbers, predicting a .323 (.318 actual) on-base percentage and a .399 (.392 actual) slugging percentage"
CTC: the updated ones from the end of april suck too
Rob: PECOTA can't predict a bullpen being terribly mismanaged
or Atlanta losing EVERY SINGLE ONE RUN ROAD GAME
it just doesnt work that way
PECOTA can't predict every single yankees pitcher getting hurt...ALTHOUGH EVERYONE ELSE COULD
zing
CTC: well, then so what
what is a team PECOTA good for then
Rob: for getting closer than every single other system
CTC: they're mostly all off by double digits
Rob: which is less than any other predictatron
CTC: pssh
Rob: its true
CTC: it looks exactly as fallible as anything else
Rob: nobody effing predicted the Rays to win 100 games
CTC: so what it's "less wrong"
so what
Rob: that's the goal of sabermetrics
to get less and less wrong every year
until they're right
which will never happen
CTC: zzzzzzz
Rob: because humans are faulty creatures
CTC: interesting
but ultimately
zzzzzzz
Rob: haha indeed
they actually did far better last year
oh well
CTC: so it's as random as anything else
they hit a patch of luck last year
Rob: LESS random
haha no
CTC: that makes no sense
Rob: they hit a patch of BAD luck this year
CTC: something is either random or not random
there aren't degrees of randomness
Rob: right
then i wouldn't call it random
it's not random
CTC: it's useless
these predictions are so far off
Rob: its far from useless
it predicts individual performance quite well
CTC: fine then
i'm saying the team predictions are useless
Rob: i am not going to say you are wrong, but i find them useful
CTC: you forgot to put up canseco
Rob: i know
because you started fighting with me
haahahha
CTC: I WIN
CLASPS HANDS
SHAKES THEM IN AIR
ON ALTERNATING SIDES OF HEAD
Rob: Geoff Baker was totally wrong though
CTC: i think that's totally viable
Rob: if he had took the time to see WHO WAS ON THE TEAM he'd have known too
CTC: at the beginning of the year you went against all my yankee negativity with PECOTA projects this and that for them
Rob: haha
CTC: so persuasively that i ranked them way higher than i initially wanted to
Rob: dont blame me bitch!
if you had listened to me, you'd have put the Mariners last
CTC: right
Rob: and the Rays in second
CTC: two totally different outcomes
based on the same system
RANDOM
Rob: it's not random
the yankees were hurt by injuries
to the starting rotation
POINT COUNTERPOINT
CTC: they scored 200 LESS RUNS THAN LAST YEAR
Rob: you're the dummy who listened to a Yankees fan when making an AL East prediction
haha
CTC: That also didn't help
Rob: indeed
PECOTA fucked that up
PECOTA fucked up Cano
CTC: can we go back and use this conversation as a point/counterpoint
it's stayed pretty much on track
CTC: just take out most of my 715 "fucks"
Rob: and i'll take out all the good points you made
to make me appear wiser

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If losing his house to foreclosure or being named the Historical Creampuff wasn't shame enough for the former svelte slugger in 2008, then having his name removed from honorary street signs in Miami-Dade County will make Jose Canseco one sad fella.

The street runs ten blocks long through West Miami, past Coral Park High School, where Canseco attended but (duh, of course) didn't graduate.

So why does the county want to pull down the signs?

(County Commissioner Joe) Martinez said it wasn't the brawl in the bar on the beach. It wasn't the public dust-ups with his ex-wife. It wasn't even Canseco's prancing around in a leopard print Speedo on VH1's The Surreal Life.

It was the steroids, said Martinez, a former county cop.

Jose Canseco did steroids? Man, I hadn't heard anything about that. What a cad! Strike his name from street signs immediately! Note to other city/town/county/state gubmints: don't name streets after living people while they still have a chance to make you regret your decisions.

And yes, there really is a Jose Canseco Street. Judging from the photos from the street view feature on Google Maps, I've seen this neighborhood before, and perhaps you have too, on a little television show called Cops.

(Of course, put us down for another 20 Cokes on our BBTF Newsblog tab)

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Thousands of Reds fans are weeping in their chili-drenched spaghetti right now. Walkoff Walk's favorite whipping boy Corey Patterson returned to the #1 lineup spot for the Redlegs last night, his first time leading off for Cincy since July 29th.

Once the Reds brought up stud rookie Chris Dickerson in August to man left field and lead off, Corey was pushed down to his rightful spot in the seven hole. Contrary to popular opinion, our t-shirt failed to sway Dusty Baker's mind. Instead, it was Dickerson's patience and speed helped him earn the leadoff spot for twenty-one straight games.

Dickerson's got a wonky ankle, so our boy Corey was slotted into the leadoff spot for the thirty-first time this year. The reactions on John Fay's beat blog at the Enquirer were not pretty:

YCityJim: Are you freakin' kiddin' me? A corpse would be better in the leadoff spot.

Calred: No, it won't. A corpse has a chance of walking or getting hit.

cherrybomber: What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Oh Calred, you card. Your joke warms the cockles of my funnybone. Want a Deadspin commenting invite? No? Well I wasn't going to give you one anyway.

Of course, Patterson popped out in his first at-bat of the game but his RBI single in the ninth tied the game for the Reds. Fella went 1-for-5 with an RBI. I still think he has value as a Major League Baseball player; he plays good outfield defense, has good speed as a pinch-runner, and has occasional pop despite his wildly horrid inability to draw a base-on-balls. Heck, if Tony Pena Jr. has a job, why can't Corey?

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Here's what happened in baseball as we turned forever, you and me:

Phillies 8, Marlins 6: Jeez, Joe Blanton chugged out yet another unimpressive start (5 IP, 4 ER, 97 pitches) and still picked up his second win against zero losses with the Phils. What a stinker! I suppose it helps when Joe's offense backs him with eight hits, three of the extry-base varietal. Anibal Sanchez couldn't finish the second inning despite allowing five runs on five hits.

Red Sox 3, Rays 0: By the time Jason Bay hit a solo ding-dong in the bottom of the first, everyone in Fenway's record 456th consecutive sellout crowd could go home because the game's scoring was D-U-N done. Still, they hung around to see Jon Lester hurl 7 and 2/3 solid innings. He got in trouble in the eighth but Jon Papelbon came in to strike out Rocco Baldelli, Rocco's fourth K on the night. Golden Sombrero, indeed.

Orioles 14, Indians 3: The O's hit four homers including a king dong by slugger Aubrey Huff. A seven-run sixth and a five-run eighth is no way to go through life, Indians pitching staff.

Tigers 14, Athletics 8: What an ugly game. Screw it, I'm going to bed.

Tonight's Questions

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bostonstatehouse.JPGHey kids, if you're not sweating you're not really being chased.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Don't You Know Who I Am? A Very Important Drunk.

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Here's a fun tidbit from yesterday's Cubs/Reds tilt in Cincinnati. Because hey, most other Cub related things haven't exactly been a picnic over the past couple weeks. It seems that one Chicago fan, Rafael Rosario, may have been taking his favorite squad's recent troubles harder than most. He got cut off at the beer stand and made an unfortunate decision.

According to court records, when a concession employee working the View Level at Great American Ball Park refused to serve alcohol to 26-year-old Rafael Rosario, the Cubs fan asked two more times.

When Cincinnati police asked to see Rosario's ID, he tensed up and claimed he was a federal agent and the officer had no right to see his ID, NewsChannel5 sister station WCPO-TV reported.

Records show Rosario is employed by the Transportation Safety Administration at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Police said he gave them an Illinois state driver's license, not a federal ID. Police noted Rosario, who was wearing a red Cubs shirt and blue Cubs hat, refused to cooperate with officers and had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. Rosario was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated, and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

This explains everything. He's a security checkpoint person at the airport. No wonder he was so loaded. He was probably on his way to work.

Tony Pena Is Not Pena-tention

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Our friend Geoff Baker helped pile on the Yankees this morning with some interesting Mariners clubhouse info. Whilst pointing out A-Rod's struggles visiting Seattle this season, he pointed out the the pickoff play that snared both A-Rod and Jeter yesterday. But the rub here is actually that the play wasn't entirely Rodriguez's fault. A stunning admission from a media member. To wit, it was Tona Pena's fault. No surprise there.

The low point for A-Rod came in the third inning when first baseman Bryan LaHair sneaked in behind him, and Ryan Feierabend fired over a pickoff throw to catch Rodriguez off base. Rodriguez got in a rundown, and eventually Derek Jeter, the runner on second, had to commit to third, and thrown out to end the threat.

It was a nifty play, one that Feierabend and LaHair have perfected over the years in the minor leagues. Feierabend called it a "backdoor pick" and said the key is not an inattentive runner, but an inattentive first-base coach.

"If you have a coach at first base not paying attention and more worried about the hitter, you're going to catch a lot of guys at first base,'' Feierabend said.

For the record, the Yankees' first-base coach is Tony Pena, former KC Royals manager.

Poor Tony. Seems like a nice guy, but was an overrated ballplayer for most of his career, flash in the pan manager and now, a liability as first base coach. At least he can always hang his hat on the fact that he raised a successful major league ballplayer as a son. And that's the ultimate coaching job. OPS + is like a golf score right?

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Ignore the recent three-game slide or the two consecutive series losses, the Tampa Bay Rays are no longer a silly little joke in Vince Naimoli's toybox, they're a Real Live Baseball Team with Real Live Playoff Aspirations. They're set for a three-game tussle at Fenway Park that starts tonight that will help decide which team wins the division and which team will (probably) face the Angels as the AL Wild Card representative. Just one and a half games separate the two teams.

The two teams have split their twelve head-to-head matchups in aught-eight with each team winning their six home contests. Don't expect the Sox to roll just because these games are in Fenway, however. Expect them to roll because Red Sox Nation transcends continents and cultures.

Your pitching matchups:

   Monday: RHP Edwin Jackson vs LHP Jon Lester
   Tuesday: LHP Scott Kazmir vs RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
   Wednesday: RHP Andy Sonnanstine vs RHP Josh Beckett (ESPN)

Lester faced the Rays twice this year, giving up 2 runs in 12.1 innings for two of his thirteen wins, while Jackson's three starts against the Sox have resulted in an 0-2 record with a 5.82 ERA.

Tonight's game would have probably been on ESPN, had that pesky football season not started with all that Monday Night Football nonsense. Still, I'm sure New England-area sports fans will be watching NESN tonight since football has nothing more to offer them. Thanks for nothing, football!

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Fear not, Yankees fans, Indians fans, A's fans, Braves fans, Cardinals fans, and Twins fans: your team may have fallen well short of expectations in 2008, but the Pittsburgh Pirates will always be there to soften the blow. Thanks to a ten-run fourth inning by the Giants yesterday, the Pirates lost their 82nd game on the year. Misery might love company, but with their 16th consecutive losing season, the Pirates are now in a league shared only with the 1933-1948 Philadelphia Phillies.

That's a real shitty league, y'all, and some real shitty company.

Pat of the Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke blog reflects on the weak streak of reek:

How do you properly couch another losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates? The last time the Pirates had a winning season, I was seven years old. Seven! I'm in my second year of graduate school now. Second grade was a looong time ago. Somewhere in the depths of my memories, I remember going to class the day after the Francisco Cabrera game and asking a friend who was a year younger than me if he saw that the Pirates lost again the night before. He had and seemed upset about it, so in all of my endlessly optimistic seven-year-old wisdom I told him that we'd get to the World Series next year. This was the only logical conclusion for me because to that point in my life, I'd really only known good, playoff caliber Pirate teams. I couldn't have possibly fathomed a world in which sixteen years down the road, I'd still be waiting for next year.

Oh god, don't make me cry for little seven-year-old Pittsburgh Pat. That poor fella has barely even had his first taste of a Pitts-burgher and he's already committed himself to sixteen years of disappointment. Hey fella, cheer up. Your team's got a bright future with a load of young talent and some forward-thinking folks in the front office. And your All Star center fielder is doing so we....oh, ouch.

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We asked the original ouchie reporter himself, Will Carroll, author of the "Under the Knife" column at Baseball Prospectus and fantasy football injury dude at SI.com to write a piece for us. He agreed. We're still kinda shocked. Please to enjoy:

So I was sitting in a bar with Tiger Claw, Iracane, and our usual bevy of models fetching us drinks and cigars when Iracane tossed out another of his annoying "let's debate this in a bar" questions. "Who's the historical creampuff?" he asked, his head tilted up as if he was talking to the ceiling fan more than Claw or me.

"It depends," I responded, "on how you define it. Is it the guy who spent the most time on the DL? Is it the guy who ended up losing the most because of an injury? Is it ..."

"Quit pontificating, Carroll. Nobody likes it when you do that." Tiger Claw was right. Drunk, rambling, and disheveled, but right. There was no need to use Clintonian definitions here. A creampuff is a creampuff, even an historical creampuff. Immediately, I started tap-tap-tapping on my iPhone and came up with some candidates:

Mike Hampton - Way too easy. Hampton has gone from being one of the most athletic pitchers in the game to an easy joke in the space of a couple years. He signed a big contract in Colorado and like so many guys who signed there, he just fell apart. He escaped, but his body didn't and pieces of it have been falling off since. The way that Hampton declined, especially paired up with his ludicrous contract, makes you wonder if he's pulling a Pavano and cashing his checks while avoiding that pesky "throw every fifth day" part of his deal. It doesn't seem like it, since Hampton keeps coming back and keeps coming back despite injuries to virtually every part of his anatomy, save the Snyders. At least Pavano got a roll in the hay with Alyssa Milano for his trouble. bartman.jpg

Moises Alou - Alou can't win this because Iracane would never shake his hand. Even with a Costco size bottle of Purell beside him, Iracane's still weirded out by the whole pissing on his hands thing. That's too bad, because Alou looks like a war veteran in the locker room. His ankle - one of the worst injuries ever and sadly not on YouTube, so instead, watch this and pretend - is swollen and purple. Yes, purple. It's an odd shade and if I was one of those guys who spent too much time watching "Trading Spaces" I could probably give you the accurate color. Ok, it's Premium Sumptuous Purple at the Lowe's. His shoulders have scars that go over scars. His hamstrings and calves have had so many strains that if you opened him up, it's either be a big wad of scar or Terminator-style machinery. On those brief occasions when he's healthy, even at this advance age, he can hit. Alou could probably take a couple years off, play with the kids, paint his bedroom to match his ankle, then roll out of bed one morning and go three for five with a double off Greg Maddux Jr.

Albert Pujols - Leitch is going to crap when he sees this. Heck, I'd put Pujols on the list just to see Leitch spitting like Buzz Bissinger, but the fact is that Pujols has never been healthy. He's blown out his elbow, suffered through the same plantar fasciitis that cost Mark McGwire two years of his career, and put up huge numbers just the same. Huge? Sure, he's had an historic first few years in the league, but if he'd been healthy, what could he have done? He's never had surgery to correct things and maybe that's kept him from having a Sosa in '98, Bonds in '01, or Adam Duritz in '95 kind of run. If he'd just been healthy or not so scared of a scalpel, maybe Pujols would have put up a season that would have made everyone get all Cal Ripken weepy and saved baseball from the Mitchell Report. fidrych.jpg

Mark Fidrych - If a dude stood on the mound and talked to the ball today, I think they'd gently remove him from the mound, cut to an ad for Effexor, and then take him to the showers where they'd all beat him with sanitary socks filled with gravel. Of course, that would have been a good thing to do to Ralph Houk, the manager that sent a 21 year old rookie out for 250 innings in just 29 starts. While we don't have pitch counts for these games, he only had three starts where he faced less that 25 batters. He also had 24 complete games, including five that went into extra innings. His arm turned to mush the way his head already had and he didn't have as many starts in the rest of his career as he did complete games in that magical '76. It had to be worth it for the Tigers since they finished ... oh, thirteen games under .500. Maybe it wasn't and maybe Houk is still calling Fidrych a creampuff.

Sandy Koufax - I'm not sure if a guy who slathered his arm in capsacin before starts can be a creampuff. Koufax would use the substance, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, so much that he needed new uniform tops since the clubbie couldn't get near it without his eyes burning. By the time his shoulder gave way, Koufax was the poster boy for "what if" baseball nuts, especially if you made the mistake of invoking his name around a Jew. Face it, Shawn Green or Ian Kinsler aren't going to work their way into many trivia answers. The story goes that if Koufax had been playing a few years later, we'd call it "Sandy Koufax surgery" instead of Tommy John surgery, but Koufax didn't stick around, did he? You might also want to re-read this paragraph, because it was his shoulder (likely a labrum) that caused Koufax to hang it up. Koufax did later have Tommy John surgery, but it was due to a golf injury. Golf injury? Unless you're Tiger Woods and win a tournament on a broken leg, there's no such thing as a golf injury that doesn't involve me calling you soft. cansecogoldglove.jpg

But the "winner" is Jose Canseco. Sure, it might be the first time "Canseco" and "winner" have been in the same sentence since baseball writers stopped ignoring his track marks, but there's no question the guy is a creampuff. It's bad enough to bounce a ball off your head and into the stands. It's bad enough to convince your manager you can pitch, then go out and blow out your elbow on a knuckleball. What makes Canseco the ultimate creampuff isn't even his chronic case of craniorectopathy, it's the medical condition that caused him to not seal the deal when he had the chance with Madonna. Sure, the Kaballah thing is a bit creepy now and she's a bit too muscled for Tiger Claw's taste - he likes women curvy and compliant - but Canseco was hooking up with her back when she was looking like this. (Holy crap, what is Arli$$ doing in the video?!) In his book, he mentions that shrinking his balls with steroids made his cock look bigger, but he fails to mention that besides backne, tiny balls, and rage, the other side effect of steroids is impotence. He must hate Alex Rodriguez for being able to get it in places he had to pass on. Wow, that picture of Jessica Canseco makes me a little E.D., but at least I can, Jose, you frakking creampuff. At least I can.

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Here's what happened in baseball as you gave her some old chat:

Padres 10, Brewers 1: It's the little things that keep Ned Yost and his boys feeling good. Sure, they got held to just seven runs in a four-game weekend split with the apathetic Padres, but Gabe Kapler's eighth inning solo tot was worth more than one run today: it broke up Chris Young's perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout. Heck, the only thing he didn't break was Young's nose. That's Pujols' job.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: After a crazy wacky adventure that nearly forced the Cubs to bring broadcaster Ron Santo in as a temp manager, Lupin Ella's team wasthisclose to picking up a game on the Brew Crew and dropping their magic number to 15. Shame, that Kerry Wood's circus of miscues and blown save in the ninth killed that hope. Chicargo has lost seven of eight and is causing folks from Lincoln Park to Logan Square to shit actual bricks. Construction material shortage solved!

Blue Jays 1, Rays 0: David Purcey did not have mercy and the foundering Rays got swept by the upstart Jays. Yes, after eight straight wins, the Blue Jays found third place in a way that nobody thought they would. Remember our third place contest? Twenty-three of you are very happy now.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 2: Paul Byrd threw six and two-thirds scoreless innings. Paul Byrd has four straight wins. Paul Byrd has won eight of nine overall. Paul Byrd got a standing ovation from Arlington fans when departing. Paul Byrd has made the words "pall" and "bird" lose all meaning.

Tigers 7, Twins 5: What can I say about the Twins that wouldn't sound like absolute gloating from a person whose favorite team just fell to fourth place? Nothing. Positively nothing.

Giants 11, Pirates 6: Hey, remember when Jeff Karstens had that one really good game? Yeah, me neither. Giving up ten runs in an inning to a stinky-poo offense will kill off most good feelings that Pirates fans had for their rebuilding team.

Holy Mountains

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sweepingbaby.jpgThe Sun! The Sun! The hurricanes have subsided for a day or two. Why not join me on the happiest beach on earth? You could stay home and enjoy a myriad of days games instead.

Sweep up the Storm Surge Debris: Who said athletes don't get involved in community projects? The Jays, White Sox, and Dodgers would all love to lend a helping hand. The A's are also available to assist on their super-strange Sunday off. Two games sweeps don't count otherwise.

Fun in Teh Sunz: Last year Aaron Harang was 16-6. A lose today and he'll be hard-pressed to finish 6-16. The Cubs sudden interest in palindromes surely has nothing to do with their playoffs. Chris Young and Manny Parra makes for an intriguing if unsexy match up in Milwaukee. Can Cliff Lee cement his Cy Young status with his 21st win? Not if OG (Original Grienke) has anything to say about it!

The West Coast Scoffs at your Inclement Weather: All anybody west of the Rockies needs are some tasty waves, cool buds and theyre fine. Not fine: getaway day in Texas. The Red Sox look to avoid melting ahead of their big time tilt with the Rays. Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer offer a glimpse inside the future of the NL West. Mike Mussina doesn't need a 20 win season to prove his worth to Cooperstown, but the BBWAA sure likes to see that sort of crap.

Hit the Big Time: The Phillies and Mets are so famous, they are going to play two games today! Just like at your local Dennys, they're letting the old people for first before clearing the place out to prepare for the night rush. Pedro and Jamie Moyer? Expect hot hip-breaking action. Cole Hamels and Johan Santana? Expect everything you like about baseball, minus the hyperbole.

Lots to like this afternoon. I'm off to watch Matt Garza slap the Jays around for the 13th time this year. Rocco is starting, I'm smiling. The Bosses will be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled programming.

giant-fish.jpgWhat happened last night while you were giving me all you had.

White Sox 7, Angels 6: The big showdown between John Lackey and Gavin Floyd didn't really materialize, but a hell of a ball game did. Francisco Rodriquez blew his chance at save number 55 in a game featuring lots of tots, none bigger than Jim Thome's walk off jobbie in the bottom of the 15th inning. Number 537 of his career moved him past Mickey Mantle on the all-time list, and moved the White Sox 2.5 games ahead of the Twins. The Twinkies bullpen served up some hot, fresh tots of their own in the eighth inning of a tie game. Curtis Granderson and Mighty Magglio did the damage for the Tigers, Magglio adding a double and a triple to his total base bodycount. Fernando Rodney decided to load the bases before retiring Mauer, Morneau and a dozen aging Tigers fans.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 2: For the second time in a week, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley beat the D-Backs best pitchers in consecutive games. For the second time in a week, Brandon Webb walked more than 5 Dodgers, and surrendered more than 6 runs. The Dodgers are now in first place while the Snakes need to figure out what the eff is up. Manny knows what's up, he drove in five fellow Dodgers with a home run and a double. The Giants scored a bunch of runs the day after they didn't score any. Stout-hearted farm hand Nate Schierholtz has a hit in every game he's played since his call-up, including three today. Andy LaRoche knocked three hits in the dogged pursuit of hitting his weight. The Bucs are being proactive and just cutting his meal stipend in half.

Jays 7, Rays 4: The Rays are lucky they don't have any fans, because it's heart-in-mouth time for the Devil Rays. The scant few Rays fans are lucky to have their complete lack of history to spare them recognizing the epic collapse in their future. The best bullpen in baseball sputtered and spit, walking Rays and coughing up a lead. But Gregg Zaun struck back for his battery mates, hitting a game winning quadradong in the 13th inning. The Jays have won 7 in row, just in time for nobody to give a shit. The Yankees sent the Mariners toppling from the lofty heights of future promise by smacking home runs early and often. Joba Chamberlain showed some rust in the eighth but Mariano Rivera showed he isn't human in slamming the door shut again.

Brewers 1, Padres 0: The Brewers may have a cracked a new Moneyball-type code. Get as many contract year pitchers as you can find, promise them a way out of Milwaukee, and wind'em up and watch'em go! Ben Sheets ensured a 9 digit payday helped his team towards the wild card with a complete game five-hitter. Jake Peavy held his own with the meager tools he was given. The Cubs snapped their losing streak all over the Great American Ballpark. This game was downright respectable until the 6th, at which point the Cubs went crazy, hitting dongs (even Marquis!) and scoring 11 runs in final 4 frames. Alfonso Soriano is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, so his three home runs yesterday bode well for the Cubs stretch drive.

Rangers 15, Red Sox 8: You come to Walkoff Walk for the cutting edge analysis, right? Like yesterday, when I bravely predicted many runs between two of the best offenses in baseball, in a jetstream-affected stadium with a knuckleball pitcher prominently involved. Peter Gammons called me at home and said he wanted to shake my hand. Tim Wakefield only got 5 dudes out, walked 4 and allowed 7 to score. He walked two straight batters with the bases loaded in the second, causing some other writers to post a wacky video set to a slightly more wacky song. The A's and Orioles managed to play once yesterday, much to the chagrin of the Orioles. Jack Cust hit two dingers in front of 3 dozen reporters in rain slickers.

The two best teams in your division were rained out? The NL East will share the Gas Face with Tropical Storm Hanna today, hopefully Hanna will run out to sea with embarrassment. There is much still to be decided today, we'll look into it this afternoon.
02-01+Perfect+storm.jpgMister Tiger Claw asked yesterday about his raincoat with good reason. Hanna has relocated from Montana to directly above numerous baseball stadiums. Dammit weatherfolk, some of these games are Meaningful. It's September after all.

A Roof! On a baseball stadium! Heretics! There were two games planned for the wee smalls today, but Baltimore faces a deluge of rain rather than illicit narcotics. Game one the Orioles/A's doubleclash is OFF, with no makeup date announced. The Jays and Rays are the only show in town, playing beneath a retractable roof that didn't retract in time last night. The excellent James Shields takes on the once excellent, but recently returned from a minor league "mechanical correction" stint Shawn Marcum. The Jays are winners of 6 in a row; their longest streak in four years!

The Fox Network hates the rain, somehow implicates Obama in game canceling conspiracy: Poor Rupert. They had a big-time match up to beam into homes all across this great nation, but the liberal meteorological media forced a cancellation. Fox now must choose between the Twins and Tigers (fly over states, no penetration in the major markets) and the Snakes & Dodgers (will play well with Hispanic base, will have to suffice.) Brandon Webb could go a long way to righting the Desert ship against Chad Billingsley. A win for him would be his 20th, a win for the Dodgers would put them into first place. The Twins will have to get through Justin Verlander if they want to keep pace with the White Sox.

Tempt fate and head out the ballpark: How many of these games will go as planned? The O's/A's aren't ready to give up on the night cap, it's still on the sked. How about big men Jake Peavy and Ben Sheets locking horns in Milwaukee? Jake Peavy looks like he just stepped out of a time machine, as more people should. John Lackey and Gavin Floyd should provide another excellent match up with something to play for. Wakefield pitching in Texas? Could be interesting if the wind is blowing. Luckily for the Sox, the Rangers will counter with a Rangers pitcher, meaning all bets are off. If you can figure out Jason Marquis, feel free to explain it to me and any Cubs fan. One day is going to the bullpen, next time out he's great. He goes today with Johnny Cueto offering the resistance. Roy Oswalt and Jeff Francis would be a great match up, were Jeff Francis not terribly awful this year. Oswalt is still good, even if the Astros aren't. Yankees and Mariners play the sole late game tonight; every Sidney Ponson start brings the end of his career mercifully closer.

Stay dry, my friends. Enjoy the games while I lament not enjoying Burn After Reading at the film festival. Bummer.
poutine.jpgWhat happened last night while you took your sweet time getting to the ocean.

Phillies 3, Mets 0: You like the big games, huh? So does Brett Myers. They get him so fired up, he could snap at any time. Hopefully he joined his teammates on Coney Island last night for some tension-releasing skeeball after their big win over the Mets. Myers stuck out 10 in 8 innings, looking damn fine in the process. Brad Lidge made the 9th interesting but stranded two for the save, bringing the Phils a game closer in the division. The Marlins are like your little brother; trying hard to get in the game with the big boys, failing to realizing that you don't care if he plays or not. Sure he's out there, but you only notice if he's bleeding. Mike Jacobs tied the game with a 9th inning tot, allowing the Fish to win it in 11. They're not out of the race, but they aren't in it either.

Mariners 3, Yankees 1: Remember when a wise blogger implored Marinerds not to give up hope, that Brandon Morrow would return? Well return he did, carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Yankees in his first career start. Kid was off his ass, throwing his trademark smoke and spotting his off-speed stuff all night. He surrendered just one hit and left the game wishing Brandon Morrow was still in the bullpen to nail down the win. JJ Putz made it scary, but he made it out alive. Andy Pettitte was excellent in a losing cause, retiring the final 11 M's he faced. The Angels got waxed like your sister before a theme party, but their magic number still went down like your sister at a theme party via a loss by the second place (!) Texas Rangers.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 0: I know clutch is bullshit, but Derek Lowe certainly seems like he pitches better as the stakes rise. The stakes is high in the NL West right now so Derek Lowe blew the Snakes away in Derek Lowe-ish fashion, inducing 13 ground ball outs. 8 innings of 2 hit ball is just what the kindly retired man that fills out the lineup card ordered. Also bullshit; lineup protection! Don't tell Andre Either that, the kid had 2 doubles and a tater-tot with Manny absently tracking the proceedings from the on deck circle. Either's added 100 points of OPS in the second half of the season; something Scott Boras will add into his negotiating price. The Rockies served notice that they are still very much out of the race by beating Corey Patterson 2.0 and the Astros behind more barely above-average pitching from Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jays 6, Rays 4: If the Jays are spoilers, I'd be worried about the Rays playing the role of soilers. They have a solid lock on a playoff spot; they also have a very tough schedule down the stretch. Road games (17 of 24) and tough opponents (6 Sox, 4 Twins, 3 Yanks, 2 Jays) will ensure the Rays earn their first playoff birth. 2 Alex Rios tots were the Rays undoing tonight; that and the inimitable Roy Halladay. Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell have returned to make their "undercooked roast at the Friar's club"-styled contribution to soiled sheets in Central Florida. Lowell went 3 for 5 and knocked in 4, Beckett threw 80 pitches (49 strikes) over 5 shut out innings propelling the Red Sox past the Rangers. They're only 2.5 games back with the 6 previously mentioned head-to-head games remaining.

Brewers 3, Padres 2: Sometimes a win feels like a loss. Sometimes you want Eric Gagne shipped back to Canada in a poutine-powered Pontiac. Sometimes you have to say "Hey Ned Yost, can't you see that he is terrible? He knows it, he knows the thigh-high fastball right down the gut is going out, why don't you Ned?" J.J. Hardy had the Brewers walking off, but the awful taste of Gagne remains in the mouths of cheese mavens everywhere. The Cubs believe they've raised the expectation level high enough to bust out a six game losing streak. This time the young Reds imitated the old Reds, hitting dingers and scoring runs. Studs Jay Bruce and Joey Votto gave Reds fans reason for hope, as they have most of the year. The lead is down to 4 for the Cubbies with many a road game ahead. Worrisome indeed.

Carlos Quentin, you let the whole division down. Justin Morneau hit a tetra-tot; but it isn't enough to keep The Gas Face at bay. Punching a bat Carlos? Had the Sox not straight jacked you from the D-Backs, they'd be pissed. I'd be pissed if there wasn't tonnes more baseball coming today!

(I owe a poutine to this epicurean for the photo)

Weekend Questions

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fish baby.jpgHey kids, go there. Your friends are there. You like your friends.

  • WHAT else is going on besides those two series that Iracane hipped us to?

  • CAN Toronto keep playing mid-standings spoiler? They've got those front runnin' Rays in town this weekend, mere steps away from WoW's weekend HQ.

  • WILL CC and the Brewers stay comfortably in control of the Wild Card? San Diego is stopping by, so probably.

  • WHERE the hell is my raincoat?

  • CAN Minnesota bounce back from their pathetic road trip against the Tigers? Chicago begins the post-Quentin era against the Angels.

If I missed anything, you know what to do. Yell at me below. I hope you all have a solid weekend. Lloyd's taking it from here with in depth analysis and tunes you can savor over the morning paper. We gonna get more shrimp? I wouldn't bet against it.

We'll see you back here Monday. Until then, take good care. You too, Fish Baby.

Hal Bodley & Vince Naimoli: Someone Get The Hook

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One of the more annoying aspects of Tampa's miracle turnaround is the media's insistence on trying to send some of the credit back to the assorted boobs and incompetents that used to run the team. I already tore Chuck LaMar apart for his "hey what about me" cred grab. This week's guilty party is cranky old MLB doofus, Hal Bodley. Come along with me and marvel at the gall Bodley displays in praising former penny pinching owner, Vince Naimoli.

The first time I met Vince Naimoli was in August 1992 at a crowded Tampa International Airport coffee shop. The millionaire entrepreneur had just signed a $115 million deal with owner Bob Lurie to buy the San Francisco Giants and move them to St. Petersburg.

Naimoli was giddy and in a hurry that night. He talked about growing up in Paterson, N.J., and being a passionate baseball fan: "It was always the New York Giants."

Naimoli's enthusiasm quickly waned when he had the rug pulled out from under him a few weeks later. The National League put the Lurie-Naimoli deal on hold, deciding to consider offers from other investors who would keep the Giants in San Francisco.

Is he serious? This is the lede? This is supposed to endear this creep to us? Poor guy "had the rug pulled out from him" because he couldn't uproot an entrenched fanbase. It's too bad it was only a rug and not a second story patio.

As I follow the Tampa Bay Rays' unbelievable Cinderella ride this summer, the mind always wanders back to that night with Naimoli in 1992. For me that's where the Rays' marvelous season began.

I guess technically, but for most rational people it begins when Naimoli finally released his icy grip on the team and ceded control to Stu Sternberg. Bodley asserts that's Naimoli once "pumped money into the payroll" by signing Canseco, Boggs, Vaughn et al. The actual payroll still hovered somewhere around the modest $50M mark and the whole time he made specious claims that the team was losing money.

The bottom line is that while the old Naimoli/LaMar regime was in power, it was never good to be a Rays fan. They watched Arizona enter the league at the same time, and eventually claim a world series, while their team never moved one inch past expansion status. When they left, success arrived.

Yes, Vince Naimoli brought baseball to Tampa. What did he do with it after that? Nothing.

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As per original ouchie reporter Will Carroll via WCSR in Chicago, White Sox outfielder and possible MVP candidate Carlos Quentin borkened his wrist and is out for the season:

    "I have been unable to confirm the specifics, but there is more going on than I was led to believe yesterday. Just last evening, I spoke with a trusted source who told me that he expected Quentin to be back in the lineup today...Now, that is no longer the case. Quentin returned from scans on his injured arm with a cast or brace and an announcement is expected before game time with more details."

Thanks, Will. This is a sad day for White Sox fans and supporters of talented hitters like Quentin. Twins fans, be nice.

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The two teams may be riding a big fat wave of mediocrity, but the best team between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks will be granted a golden ticket to the playoffs anyway. They face off for three delightful games this weekend. Throw out the .500 records, the aged L.A. pitching staff, the tired Arizona bats, and the tertiary distractions that jerks like us focus on, this series has deep meaning.

So far in 2008, the Snakebacks hold a slim 8-7 edge over the Didgeridoos in their season series. After last Friday's loss to Arizoner, L.A. looked beat, riding an eight-game losing streak with a fat four and a half game deficit. They've since won five in a row. They've got that vaunted momentum that might possibly perhaps push them towards the playoffs. They've got Rocktember in Los Angeles! Things haven't rocked this hard in the City of Angels since L.A. Guns played twelve straight nights at Whisky A Go Go in '87.

Your pitching matchups will be as follows:

    Friday: Dan Haren vs Derek Lowe (ESPN)
    Saturday: Brandon Webb vs Chad Billingsley (FOX)
    Sunday: Randy Johnson vs Greg Maddux

Wait a minute...Jamie Moyer is facing Pedro Martinez on Saturday, while Randy Johnson faces Greg Maddux on Sunday? At what point did we step in Marty McFly's DeLorean and fly back to 1999?

Kill The Umpire- 1950

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This week's Classic TV Friday brings us the trailer for the 1950 William Bendix flick, Kill The Umpire. Bendix was a batboy for the Yankees in 20s and would later play The Babe in the The Babe Ruth Story, which I remember as a pretty lousy film even when I was 8. Pride Of The Yankees it was not.

This one actually looks pretty entertaining, though. Anyone seen it?

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGHslllsssssssssssss... ouch. Oh man. Shit. Hslllsssssssssssss... Ow. Man. Dammit. Hslllsssssssssssss... Hslllsssssssssssss. Shit. Get away. Get away. Ouch. Hslllsssssssssssss. Stubbed my toe. Hslllsssssssssssss.

  • Jered Weaver, Angels: Jered Weaver is making it on the Freak Injury of the Year ballot after cutting his hand open on the bench. "I went to push to get up and gripped where the staples in the upholstery come together, and it just got me." Ouch. Reminds me of that one time I got stung on the ass by a bee because I sat on it.

  • Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles: Guthrie has been scratched from his next start due to arm fatigue. Too much Wii/Guitar Hero/masturbation for him! Now with the Tired Arm Joke Generator, you too can write a sports blog!

  • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youkilis has been battling back spasms all week and a is a game time decision tonight in Texas. The downtime has allowed Tim Naehring to settle comfortably into his new apartment in Youk's goatee.

  • Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Cubs: Shh. Harden's troubles are a secret. The Cubs were hoping no one would notice his start being pushed back. Zambrano had an MRI which revealed some inflammation and he promptly received a dose of cortisone. AND SUNSHINE.

  • Carlos Quentin, Ken Griffey, White Sox: Quentin has forearm stiffness and Griff has back stiffness. Now with the Erection Joke Generator, you too can write a sports blog!

  • Jesus Flores, Nats: The Washington cather got messed up good by Chutley. Chase Utley: environmentalist and cannonballing asshole.

Watch on Monday for a very very special edition of Creampuff from a guest author who writes much better than I do!
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Forget football and forget the MARNA Indoor Nudist Swim, the two biggest things that are happening this weekend on the East Coast are Hurricane Hanna and the Phillies-Mets series. What's the common denominator? Both events feature a lot of bluster and the possibility of destruction for structures built on poor foundations.

Okay, that's unfair, the Mets bullpen has actually been performing quite well lately. They've not given up a run in its last fifteen innings and haven't even blown a game in almost a whole week! Heck, the team is 21-9 since Billy Wagner went on the disabled list. I'm not implying that Wagner was the cancer in the Mets bullpen all along, but what if he wa....oh screw it, I am totally implying that Wagner was the cancer in the Mets bullpen all along. But hey, Billy might be back on Tuesday so the Mets better get their punches in this weekend.

Your pitching matchups this weekend:

    Friday: Brett Myers vs Mike Pelfrey
    Saturday: Jamie Moyer vs Pedro Martinez (FOX)
    Sunday: Cole Hamels vs Johan Santana (ESPN)

Oh man, this thing is SO on. It's cheesesteaks versus empanadas, South Philly versus Queens, asshole fans versus asshole fans, Manuel versus Tranuel. Hope nobody loses power this weekend, because your television sets are gonna need some of that electricity to work. Stock up on flashlight batteries, buy some cans of pinto beans, and board up your windows. Unless the Mets sweep the Phillies, this thing won't even be over on Monday.

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Here's what happened in baseball when your desire has been found:

Rays 7, Yankees 5: Just a solo tater tot in the ninth inning A-Rod? Didn't you realize your team needed a three-run jack? Pfft. Scott Kazmir showed his guile by allowing but one hit (albeit five walks) to the Yanks over six innings. The Rays bullpen withered like a daisy during an atomic blast but the Yanks' five-run ninth came up two runs shy.

Blue Jays 9, Twins 0: Who was worse off last night? The Twins shitty offense against a dominant Jesse Litsch or the silly conventioneers in St. Paul who had to put up with this nonsense? Either/or, I say. The only real winner last night was Travis Snider, who hit his first big league ding-dong. Kudos!

Padres 5, Brewers 2: Holy shit, don't print those playoff tickets yet, Uecker. You could save 0.00025% of a Brazilian rainforest by holding off a few days on that. Shawn T. Estes was dealing sixes and fives when all the Brew Crew wanted were face cards and aces, allowing just 1 run over six innings. Jeff Suppan (who went 5-0 in August) ate dogshit by giving up Will Venable's first major league homer among his five runs allowed in five innings.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, speak into the mic.

  • HOW will WoW favorite Shawn T. Estes fare in his first start in 3 months?

  • ARE the Yanks gon' sweep the Rays?

  • WILL the Twins end their government mandated road trip on a happy note in Toronto? I hope the stench has left the Twin Cities by the time they get home.
Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and your familiar Friday favorites. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Brewers fans once again get to participate in a lottery for tickets to all three rounds of the playoffs. Maybe this year they'll actually make it. Brewers Blog.

  • Marc Hulet rates the top fifteen prospects for the crappy teams out in the NL West. Don't look now, but the Giants are set to wreak some havoc come 2010. Whee, 81 wins! Baseball Analysts.

  • But for now, the Giants are satisfied having 36-year-old rookies hit their first career tater tots. The Splash.

  • The Mariners have resigned themselves to being in rebuilding mode. First point of order: fix the leaky turlets in the left field loge section. USS Mariner.

  • Major League Baseball is making the same amount of money showing games online last year that they made from showing games on FOX in 2006. How much longer until Tim McCarver is fully digitized, a la Max Headroom? Squawking Baseball.

  • Gerald Cosloy tracks down a picture of the Joba impersonator who got all them free bagels. The similarity is eerie. Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Out of respect to the professional football season starting tonight, I give to you some of the best football songs ever recorded. WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

GET UP AND DANCE

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THIS KID IMPLORES YOU.

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What a long, depressing year it's been for Dodgers outfielder Andruw Jones. First, his old hometown newspaper printed a piece in the preseason saying that Andruw missed Atlanta like a hausfrau on a diet misses cake. Then he starts the first month and a half of the season hitting .167 with just two ding-dongs and 7 RBI. The AJC throws more salt in the wound with another piece about how Andruw misses his family and plantains.

To add injury to sadness, he's then sidelined for a coupla months with torn knee cartilage, only to be replaced in the outfield by Manny Ramirez when he comes back from a rehab stint in Vegas where he actually played first base for the first time in his life.

So what's a guy to do? How about write off the entire year like the sad little emo boy that he is? Does that work?

"If the team needed me and I was the only one who could be out there, I would wrap it up and play," said Jones, who cut short the first of his two rehab assignments to step in for an injured Juan Pierre in early July. "In this situation, we have other guys who have been getting the job done. I'll try not to be in their way."

Yes, Andruw. The fun has been over for quite a long time.

(Once again, we steal all our material from the BBTF Newsblog)

Reincarnation: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Pirates at Reds: I haven't been to a county fair in a long time. Something about the combination of all that junk food and those carnival rides just seems like a recipe for a stomachache, no? I always had a soft spot for the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Zipper though. Maybe sometime this Fall. Oh what, you wanted me to talk about this game? Fat chance. Tom Gorzelanny takes on Josh Fogg.

  • 1:05, Angels at Tigers: Ervin "Magic Carlos" Santana takes on Kenny "I Was On Waivers But No Wants Me" Rogers in the battle for rubber and little else. Santana is on quite a run. Can you imagine if the Angels had a healthy Kelvim Escobar all year? That could have been a staff of epic proportions. Alas, they'll just have to be happy with their 90 or so wins.

Jason Giambi Uses Oldest Excuse In Book

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Jason Giambi came to the park yesterday looking like Rocky Balboa after 10 rounds with Drago. His right eye had a deep gash framed in grotesque purples and greens. You hate to see someone messed up like that, and "how'd it happen" is always the first question. So Jason, how'd it happen?

"I would like to have something to tell you, something like a fight or anything else," Giambi said. "But it was nothing like that. I walked into the bathroom door at the hotel and split it open."

The cut resembled a gash a boxer would get during a fight, but didn't keep Giambi out of the lineup.

"There was so much blood the maid probably was wondering where the body was hid," said Giambi

Sheesh. Other than "I fell down the stairs" is there a lamer coverup excuse? My first guess would have been that Giambi is getting punched in the face by his girlfriend, but this sounds like it was a pretty heavy blow. Something inflicted by someone with heft, and possibly some "augmented" strength. Anybody seen this guy lately?

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Walkoff Walk commenter Matt_T called it and the Baseball Think Factory Newsblog confirmed it. The Braves/Marlins game was seen by fewer people than the number of folks who read our blog yesterday. Yes, a professional baseball game between two non-contending (albeit talented) teams was outdrawn by some dope live-glogging a Mets-Brewers game he was listening to on the radio.

Sure, it was 91 degrees and 99% humidity under the glaring sun in a stadium built for football in a city where there are approximately 25,700 better things to do on a Wednesday afternoon, but still...

Hanley Ramirez homered and doubled to lead the Florida Marlins past the Atlanta Braves 5-3 Wednesday in front of an incredibly sparse crowd of just 600 fans.

Fewer than 600 people were in Dolphin Stadium's bright orange and aqua seats for the first pitch, leaving most of them to reflect the afternoon sun. While the official attendance, based on tickets sold, was 11,211, the ballpark was so quiet that home-plate chatter could be heard.

In fact, the attendance at Dolphin Stadium was lower than the pageviews for this sissy The Hills liveblog. You and I probably saw more than 600 people going about our regular everyday lives yesterday, working and shopping and commuting. And heck, I don't even live in the Big City like some of you do. In fact, don't MLB stadiums employ well over 600 people per game to sell peanuts, clean bathrooms, and take tickets? (Oh who am I kidding, nobody ever cleans those turlets) So that means there might have been more people being paid to be at that game (employees, media, actual baseball players) than those paying to be at that game.

At that point, shouldn't the Marlins just forfeit and take everyone out for an emparedado cubano?

(Picture stolen from ESPN.com, credit to the AP)

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Here's what happened in baseball while you lost a lot of sleep trying to understand:

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 3: This Adam Dunn trade paid off well tonight as the big fella laced a walkoff RBI dubble that plated Conor Jackson. The Cards bullpen got tagged with its league-leading 29th loss, but hey, that's what happens when you employ Ron Villone.

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Don't call it a winning streak. Yes, we realize the Pirates have now won two in a row after losing eleven straight, but don't get all cute on us, Pirates beat writers. Sure you'd like to inject some humor into your otherwise tiresome recaps, but there are better ways. Call Dusty Baker a goofball or bemoan the front office for trading Jason Bay, but don't make a goofy 'winning streak' joke.

Yankees 8, Rays 4: Instant replay got its cherry popped tonight after a two-run tater tot by Alex Rodriguez was called into question by the umps. They went to their little umpire room, watched the video, told some inappropriate jokes, and then returned to the field with good news: it was a fair ball and A-Rod became a real boy.

Nationals 9, Phillies 7: Chad Durbin giveth, Chad Durbin taketh away. Like a selfish girlfriend who won't go out dancing on a Saturday night, Durbin got the Phils' hopes up going 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA in the first three months of the year. Since then, he's blown five saves and lost three games raising his ERA over half a run. Tonight's line: five hits, four runs, and a tater tot to Ryan Zimmerman in just two-thirds of an inning to waste Ryan Howard's two ding-dongs.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 4 (11): You let John McDonald beat you with the glove, okay, that's expected. You let John McDonald beat you with the bat, shame on you.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, I know who stole that small charcoal grill off of your deck.

  • CAN the Twins get to AJ Burnett and keep pace with the White Sox?

  • WHO claims rubber in the Capital?

  • WILL the Dodgers make it 5 in a row and continue to drag things out in the NL West?

  • WILL the Rays fall to the Yankees again? It's another chance to see Carl Pavano, recently removed from the federal endangered species list!

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
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The Brewers will host the Mets today in hopes of avoiding a sweep, and they'll throw out their best right-handed-hitting lineup to counter southpaw starter Oliver Perez. Chubby first baseman Prince Fielder gets the day off after blowing donkey balls over the past six contests in which Milwaukee faced five lefties.

For the Mets, Oliver Perez is hot hot hot since the All Star break, going just 3-2 because of a sadsack Mets bullpen but doing it all with a tidy 2.95 ERA and 2.38 K:BB ratio. The last time Perez faced the Brewers, however, he got knocked around like a shantytown in a tornado, giving up a double and a homer to today's center fielder, Gabe Kapler.

Your glog, my glog, our glog starts after the jump:

Raiding The Texas Catcher Stash

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September is not just the magical time for call ups. It's also a time when a mild injury can give you the rest of the year off if you play for a lousy team. It's a Fall tradition like apple cider, the start of football, and college kids returning to absolutely destroy the city of Boston. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is getting his autumnal sabbatical on with a sore right forearm.

After the Rangers received Salty from the Braves in the Teixeira trade, it was well known that along with Gerald Laird, they were now sitting on two valuable young catchers. They've managed to hold to both of them, but that may soon be over. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News says Laird is none too happy to still be platooning after Saltalamacchia's injury. This time with unfortunately named olympian Taylor Teagarden.

"I'm real disappointed. It looks like I'm only going to get half the games. What can I say? I'll do the best I can. But they have to decide this off-season. I'm kind of tired of this stuff. I feel like they owe it to all of us to make a decision. I just want some clarity. If they're going to go with one of them, then give me a chance to go somewhere else.

"I don't want to be doing this the next couple of years. I feel honestly like this was may be my last month as a Ranger. I feel almost like my time here is almost over. I love it here, but I want a chance to play everyday. I'm not saying I want to be traded. I just don't want to deal with this situation again. I just want to know going into camp if I'm going to have a chance to play everyday.''

To clarify. He's not asking to be traded. But you better frickin' trade him. Gerald Laird refuses to be your doormat. Don't go breaking his heart.

One of the three will certainly go, but I'm not well versed enough in their comparative values to guess which one and where to for how much. I do know that the two aging monoliths of the AL East would be excited to take someone off his haunches in Arlington.

Flee On Your Donkey: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:05, White Sox at Indians: No one wants to win the AL Central. It's official. The White Sox have lost two in a row to Cleveland, and the Twins lost at Toronto. Won't someone think of the children? Things are shaping up to make the White Sox/Twins series starting on 9/23 the biggest tilt of the year. But for today, I'm sure Ozzie's crew would love to avoid the broom closet as Javy Vasquez takes on Jeremy Sowers. And hey, how about those Indians! A late charge towards competency so that everyone keeps their job. Sounds like my last office. Catch the fever!

  • 1:10 Braves at Marlins: After last night's 30 run barnburner, the South will early rise again. Jorge Campillo takes on Chris Volstad. If they score 30 again, everyone gets a free Miami Sub courtesy of Iracane.

  • 1:35, Orioles at Red Sox: The Sox also batted around heartily last evening. Everytime Dustin Pedroia came up there were chants of "MVP" which seemed a tad (very) overwrought, but then the Munchkin drove in 5, so what the hell do I know. I bow to your wisdom, Sully. Lance "Blisters" Cormier takes on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

  • 2:05, Mets at Brewers: New York looks to pull out the dustpan in impressive fashion against Milwaukee. The Crew was streaking into Shea. Not only that, they had won 8 of 9, which is really impressive when you're naked. Oliver Perez has won 4 of his last 5 decisions takes that grain of salt to the mound against Dave Bush and Rob gon' glog it.

  • 2:05, Mariners at Rangers: Felix Hernandez takes on Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton! Also some other stuff happens. Dustin Nippert goes for Tayhoss.

  • 3:05, Giants at Rockies: Colorado sits just 5 games out and would like nothing more than to drink from the healing bristles of a San Fran sweep. Barry Zito faces Aaron Cook. No wonder Zito has had a rough year. HE'S BEEN PITCHING IN JEANS.

  • 3:40, Cards at Snakes: There's rubber at stake as Kyle Lohse takes on Doug Davis. Look at the chin pubes on these two. The Cards are now 5.5 out of the Wild Card and my only regret is that they hung on this long. Welp, time for a team wide bender!
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Los Angeles Times 'columnist' TJ Simers wrote a column calling Dodgers GM Ned Colletti "baseball's best general manager", and I'm not sure if he's serious or if this is all a big ruse. Hey, my reading comprehension skills may not be above a fourth-grade level, but one would think I would able to distinguish serious sportswriting from mere parody. Well, one would be wrong.

Simers begins by describing his brief sit-down with Colletti:

Sat down with Ned Colletti before Tuesday's Dodgers game to discuss the details of his acceptance speech once he's officially named Major League Baseball's executive of the year.

"Huh?" said Colletti, and now you know why he needs a speech writer.

It's over, of course, the Dodgers playing minor league outfits now, and a lock to win the division title on the strength of Colletti's wizardry-- Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

Well, the Manny trade was quite the coup, but the team is just 15-16 since Ramirez showed up, despite his 10 tater tots and 41 RBI. What gives, TJ? The Dodgers are a lock to win the division title? Is this all false praise? I can't figure out your tone! Give me some more clues!

Desperate times, desperate measures and Colletti improved the Dodgers without it costing the owner a penny. That makes him the best GM in baseball in the minds of most owners.

This could be sarcasm, or it could be true, since baseball owners are notorious chuckleheads.

"Do you think there are other teams out there saying, 'Ned's desperate, let's help Ned out?' " Colletti said, while proving the point, I guess, that he's just smarter than all the other GMs in somehow stealing Ramirez and Blake.

Casey Blake is 35, hits about league average, has grounded into eight double plays in just 137 at bats, and has the fielding ability of a three legged poodle. This was not a 'steal', which is yet another thing Casey Blake cannot do.

No doubt, he fooled them all. Oldest trick in the book, too, luring your opponents to sleep, which explains why early on he signed Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre -- everyone figuring the Dodgers were finished with such a cast of misfits.

This is either the dumbest column ever written or the worst parody ever penned. My head just exploded deciding between the two, which means my reading comprehension skills have now descended to a Rex Hudler-esque level.

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Rocker Todd Rundgren, who somehow has been earning enough money to keep making music for over 40 years, has a baseball-playing son. Rex Rundgren, an infielder for the Dodgers' Triple A team in Vegas, is batting .198, which is actually way higher than his dad's hit song success rate of about .002.

Not to say that Todd Rundgren has been a miserable failure in the music biz, but he's resorted to joining The Cars to pay the bills while his only two 'hits' have been burned into our collective brain by muzak pumped into Target stores and wacky radio morning shows for years. And now, they're being pumped into ballparks:

And when Rex comes to the plate in the parks of the Pacific Coast League, he's a Todd Rundgren fan all over again.

He's often greeted by a walk-up-tailored sample of "Hello, It's Me," or his father's most recognizable novelty tune, "Bang on the Drum All Day." And that song in particular, Rex says, is pretty much the only one his teammates recognize.

"Bang on the Drum All Day" is the bane of my existence. If I could find a way to delete it from the American music book, I would do it. The fact that "Drum" is a hit and "Rock N Roll Pussy" isn't a hit is a real shame. Even Rundgren himself seems reluctant to connect himself to the song:

"It's great to be known for a particular song," said Rundgren, who was decked out for Tuesday morning's game in a black suit and sneakers, a 51s hat and green-tinted sunglasses.

"When you have a song that kind of finds its way into the collective conscience and (people) don't even remember where it came from, like 'Happy Birthday,' (it makes me) feel like I've contributed something to the culture."

Keep distancing yourself from the song, Todd. We'll always know it was you.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you've been crying all the time:

Phillies 4, Nationals 0: Put the seven-game winning streak to sleep and chalk up another shutout for the weak-hitting Washingtonians; this one comes at the hands of Cole Hamels and his band of merry bullpeneers. John Lannan was heroic despite the loss, giving up just a coupla runs in the third on RBI singles by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Heroism gets you nothing in baseball except a clunky Roberto Clemente Award plaque to hang in your billiards room.

Red Sox 14, Orioles 2: Jon Lester picked up his 13th win despite throwing a whopping 99 pitches over five tough innings. Fella walked four Oriole batters but no matter, HE GOT FOURTEEN RUNS OF SUPPORT FROM HIS MATES. The Red Sox featured wee Dustin Pedroia in ManRam's old cleanup spot and DustPeds didn't disappoint, collecting five RBI on a two-run dubble and a three-run tater tot. David Ortiz added deux deux-run deux-baggers of his own.

Pirates 3, Reds 2: A meaningless September game between fifth- and sixth-place teams? Fuck you, the Pirates just broke a 3728-game losing streak behind the strong pitching of Ian Snell. Isn't that important enough for you? The announced attendance in Cincinnati was 18,000-something, but only about 32 people showed up, probably because everyone else was still hungover from this dumb Brady Bunch event.

Blue Jays 7, Twins 5: Don't look now, but it seems like Jose Bautista remembered how to hit a baseball. No seriously, don't look, Jose hates attention. That's why he feels comfortable in Toronto. Guy picked up four hits including a ding-dong, and he now has seven hits in his last three games. Lyle Overbay was the decider, hitting a go-ahead two run dong in the sixth. Camp Tiger Claw's favorite player Brad Wilkerson was activated off the DL.

Indians 9, White Sox 3: Hey, remember Victor Martinez? He's back, in POG form.

Yankees 7, Rays 2: The second best road team in the AL beat the best home team in the AL. This proves my hypothesis: sometimes things happen in baseball.

Braves 16, Marlins 14: Fifteen pitchers saw action; nine gave up runs. Somehow, Braves pitcher Julian Tavarez was not one of the nine.

Tonight's Questions

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lobsterbaby2.JPGHey kids, get it while you can.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • There's a blog out there that collects awesome pictures of terrible parties. For some reason, they featured a picture of our own Lloyd the Barber last week. Sorry I Missed Your Party.

  • The Answer Man interviewed future hall of famer and current sighing broadcaster Ron Santo. Ron waits until the end to play the diabetes card. Big League Stew.

  • JB Sir videotaped Rinku and Dinesh going about their household chores and sent the video back to their families in Mumbai. I'm sure their families will be happy to see their sons and brothers vacuuming in America. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Curtis Granderson makes an appearance at Genesee Valley Auto Mall in Flint Township. The Flint Township News.

  • The yet-as-unnamed Bowling Green, KY team will be moving from the South Atlantic League to the Midwest League starting in 2010. Hopefully, they'll be making the move as Cave Shrimp. BBTF Newsblog.

  • Josh Beckett's dumb elbow inspires more hemming and hawing than any elbow in recent memory. WEEI.

  • A spider sitting on a frog sitting on a turtle. Darren Hoyt

Horrifying September Call Up Gorestravaganza

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You're done with lunch, right? Good. Let me introduce you to Cubs catching call up, Koyie Hill. Yes, his first name is pretty disturbing but that's nothing compared to the medical tribulations he endured last fall in his home wood shop. Oh yeah, you know where this is going.

The 29-year-old catcher, who played for the Cubs last year and was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Monday morning, had his right thumb and three fingers on his right hand sewn back on after nearly losing them completely in a table saw accident.

Not only did Hill make a complete comeback, he also retained his sense of humor.

"You had to learn how to give high-fives all over again," he said.

The accident occurred last Oct. 16 when Hill, an aspiring architect, was making a window frame for his house. The table saw he was using got stuck in the wood and managed to cut through his thumb, his pinkie, ring finger and middle finger, leaving him bloodied and in severe pain. Hill was taken to an emergency room, and a hand specialist was called upon to reattach the fingers.

So after I read that, I passed out. When I came to, I continued reading to learn that Hill considers his hand "custom made." Then I passed out again before I could read why. Then I read why.

"Catching is easy," Hill said. "Thank God it wasn't my left hand. They added enough bones to my middle finger to where it moves some. They had me hold a ball in my left hand to see where my finger was placed so when they sewed it back on it was fixed in a position. So you could say it was actually built for playing baseball now, which is something a baseball player always wanted."

Word on the street that the added bones in his finger came from the "Wood/Prior Scope Shavins" jar at the Lincoln Park Hospital. So anyway, best of luck to Hill. If he has a successful September at the plate I'm going to kidnap Jason Varitek and slam his hand in a car door.

Doug Melvin Sees Things As They Should Be, And Asks Why Not

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By now you've all heard/seen the brouhaha over CC Sabathia's near no hitter, blemished only by his own mistake fielding from the mound. There are only two opinions to have here. Not "it was a hit" or "it was an error." They're actually "I don't give a damn it happened 3 days ago and is an ultimately meaningless individual achievement" or "I care."

Brewers GM Doug Melvin cares. He cares deeply. He cares to the point that he sat in his thinking chair all weekend, waving away his wife with a grunt each time she offered him a glass of iced tea. Then he came up with the following totally ridiculous utopian scenario.

Doug Melvin said he thought a committee should decide scoring decisions like the one that may have cost Sabathia a no-hitter in the Brewers' 7-0 victory over the Pirates on Sunday. One official scorer is used in all baseball games until the World Series, where a three-person panel reviews scoring plays.

"There could be possible reviews to see if there's a better way of doing it where there's not all the pressure put on one individual," Melvin said Monday.

He suggested a three-member panel consisting of an official scorer and two writers.

And they could be on top of a mountain and wear velvet robes and have engravings of the play in question brought to them by a sherpa. Melvin claims he thought of this a long time ago and not just because of the Sabathia situation. I don't believe him at all.

Here are some other ideas from "Doug Melvin's Things That Could Be Think Tank."

  • There could be dogs that tell you the day's weather when you wake up in the morning. Those would be better than the dogs we have now.

  • There could be a couch that is inflated with beer, or soda if you don't drink, with a straw built into the armrest. When the couch was empty and you were sitting on the floor you would know it was time to buy more beer (or soda).

  • Fruit could have screwtops so you could just pour out the juice.

  • Inventors could take The Jetsons more seriously.
© 2008 Doug Melvin's Things That Could Be Think Tank
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Many prognosticators thought that the Blue Jays and not the Rays would be the team to challenge the recent Yankees-Red Sox domination of the AL East. Many prognosticators are usually wrong. Sure, the Jays have a winning record and might even topple the Yankees to overtake third place, but with just 4.3 runs scored per game, their offense has simply been abysmal.

So Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi has got to figure out how to put together a better hitting team for 2009 (assuming he's still around to put it together). Just don't expect him to start throwing money around at free agent sluggers, because according to J.P., they're all Cheaty McCheatersons:

But many teams, Toronto included, are increasingly leery about buying sprees. The post-steroid era in baseball has skewed the stats of older stars. Asked how much faith he has in the free-agent market, which most recently brought the club the disappointing Thomas, Ricciardi said, "A lot less now."

"Look at the offensive numbers this year. It's like, bizarro. There's a lot of guys whose numbers have been good in the past, but they're not as good this year. So I think until we get to the point where we've seen those guys play another year or so, get a little bit of a track record, saying, 'OK, this is what those guys really are.'

"You can fill in the blanks. I'm not going to say the words. There's been a lot of false numbers in the past."

Yes, J.P. Let's fill in the blanks. You signed and/or traded for the following players to improve the Blue Jays offense for 2008: David Eckstein and Scott Rolen. What exactly were you expecting from these two? Haven't you ever heard of steep career decline due to age? Heck, did Eckstein ever reach career numbers good enough to experience a decline? Weren't you supposed to be one of them Moneyball fellas with a good knowledge of sabermetrics? Are you really going to throw the players you hand-selected by accusing them of being steroid users?

Or does this all go back to Ricciardi's problem with Frank Thomas?

(We owe some of that Diet Coke with Splenda to the BBTF Newsblog)

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Despite our government-mandated three-day break from baseball bloggin', stuff happened over the weekend in baseball. First and foremost, our weekend fella Lloyd the Barber did yeoman's work covering for our lazy asses, even with his embarrassing guest appearance on a sports blog devoted to man abs. Yikes.

In actual baseball news, yesterday's Labor Day action saw two gentleman accomplishing a nifty feat, as both Adrian Beltre of the M's and Stephen Drew of the D-backs hit for the cycle. They became the first fellas to ride the tandem cycle on the same day since Bobby Veach and George Burns did it way back in 1920, well before anyone ever thought people would play professional baseball in Phoenix. Was Arizona even a state?

In news that is more near and dear to our hearts, Saturday night featured not one but TWO walkoff walks. First, at approximately 10:30 PM EDT, the Mets gave up the goods to the Marlins. Then just before midnight, Elijah Dukes collected the game winning walk to lead the Nats over the Braves. That's two shrimp videos in one amazing night. Thanks, baseball!

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Here's what happened in baseball while you let the loose lips kiss you clean:

Marlins 4, Braves 3: Oh, a pox on your house, Braves reliever Mike Gonzalez! With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, Gonzalez just couldn't bring himself to throw balls outside the strike zone, instead giving up the game winning sac fly to John Baker the Sac Fly Maker. We coulda had a Three Shrimp Holiday Weekend! Mike Hampton collected his fourth straight quality start but lost his second in a row.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 4: Adam Jones, Kevin Millar and Juan Castro tater-totted off Sox starter Paul Byrd but they were all solo jobs. Heck, Paul Byrd friggin loves solo jobs. He even wrote a book about being addicted to giving himself solo jobs. So those three runs were no big deal; the Sox offense provided him with an ample smattering of runs. And then Byrd finished in his Sox.

Mets 4, Brewers 2: The only person alive who makes the Mets bullpen look competent, Eric Gagne, gave up a game-winning ding-dong to Carlos Delgado in the eighth. If Brewers fans weren't pissed enough after CC Sabathia's non-no-hitter, they should be really ticked off knowing that Ben Sheets left this affair with a tight groin. Hey Ben, Paul Byrd can help you out with that.

Yankees 13, Tigers 9: Thirty hits, twenty-two runs, thirteen walks, four errors, eleven pitchers, twenty-two men left on base, two hundred twenty-six minutes, three hundred ninety-five pitches thrown, and two teams who will be spending their month of October re-staining their backyard decks.