April 2009 Archives

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, if at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.

Tomorrow is Friday! Friday means Classic TV and Creampuffs and other good stuff. Same WoW channel, folks.

(Farewell to the Metrodome courtesy of Flickr user the queen of subtle)

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

  • Tyler Kepner gets to the bottom of that age-old question: how do the three Molina brothers keep up with each other when they're playing for three different major league teams? The answer? Television. And pagers. Bats.

  • FoWoW Jonah Keri wrote his first column for Sports Illustrated this season, in which he tut-tuts Mets fans for booing David Wright. Well Jonah, it turns out that Mets fans can use computers AND the Internet nowadays. JonahKeri.com.

  • U.S.S. Mariner blogger and stat guru Dave Cameron is finally relieved that he can talk smack about ex-Mariner J.J. Putz without having to take occasional crying breaks. It's okay, Dave, he's gone now, to a much worse place. FanGraphs.

  • Curtis Granderson likes how the Royals organization renovated Kauffman Stadium and likens it to Angel Stadium. In fact, he loves Angel Stadium so much that he calls the Rally Monkey perhaps "the best thing going in an MLB stadium these days". What, even better than the money laundering at CitiField? Big League Stew: The Grandstand.

  • Diamond Leung has an awesome name and has issues with Andre Ethier's refusals to take photographs with fans. He'll make you read his droning 8,000-word essay on the Fry Bread House in Phoenix, but he won't take a quick Polaroid with you. Typical. Diamond Notes.

  • If you enjoy the television program "Family Guy" and you hate the Yankees, you'll enjoy this oeuvre from our old pal Weed Against Speed. Sportress of Blogitude.

  • Bobby Valetine is fucking delusional. Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Don't look at these pictures unless you never want to eat chicken ever again. Food Network Humor.

cinema.airbud.box.jpg Each week, Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: The 2002 straight-to-video Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, starring Caitlin Wachs, Kevin Zegers, Patrick Cranshaw, Chantal Strand, Richard Karn and five dogs (Shaq, Dakota, Shooter, Sniper, Tango), directed by Robert Vince, screenplay by four freaking people: Sara Sutton, Stephanie Isherwood, Anne Vince and Anna McRoberts.

Perhaps the worst genre of film ever conceived is children's sports movie. The plot is almost always aped from Bad News Bears: Team of losers gets together and wins (or loses) the big game, while the bullies learn valuable lessons in the process. Of course, our children who watch these films also learn the valuable lesson of cheating.

The good guys invariably cheat to win in every kids' sports movie. Ladybugs? Dressing up the kid from Neverending Story II as a girl to reach the finals Mighty Ducks 2? Lassoing an opposing player, at the Junior Olympics no less. Little Giants? Using flatulence as a weapon. Angels in the Outfield? Using angels as a weapon. The Big Green? Don't kid me, nobody's ever seen that movie. In Racing Stripes, a whole team of characters (pigs, goats, cartoon flies voiced by David Spade) conspires and cheats to help a zebra win the Kentucky Derby.

Maybe the worst offender, though, is the Air Bud series, which teaches children if you aren't good enough to win, you should find a dog to play for your team. In Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, the fourth film in the original five-movie Air Bud series, Buddy plays for a junior high baseball team, despite not attending the school in question.

Seventh Inning Fetch actually doesn't mention baseball until exactly 23 minutes into the movie, though. The opening of the film details the movie's subplot: Two mad scientists are attempting to kidnap Air Bud and his puppies (a different set of puppies than the talking ones in the Air Buddies spinoff series -- confusing, I know!). The mad scientist duo -- who take their cues from Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci's Home Alone villains, which should tell you horrid this film is -- wants Buddy and his puppies so they can extract the "super sports gene" and sell it to athletes.

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Oh, but Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch has other interwoven subplots as well. They're surprisingly disgusting: Young Andrea (Caitlin Wachs) is so sad when her brother Josh (Kevin Zegers, from the in-theater Air Bud movies) goes to college she chases him down on her bike and nearly sacrifices Buddy in order to stop his bus to say goodbye. Andrea and her friend Tammy (Chantal Strand, who's in all three direct-to-video Air Bud movies) is also nervous about going to junior high! Also, Blue from Old School (the late Patrick Cranshaw, also a three-time Air Bud vet) is in this movie as Sheriff Bob. You're my boy, Bob!

The movie doesn't even mention baseball until exactly 23 minutes in, when, while Andrea and Tammy search for an extracurricular, Tammy suddenly says, "That's it! Baseball!" Brilliant exposition and foreshadowing. The two characters do eventually try out for the baseball team -- strangely, coed fall baseball -- and while Tammy is the best player on the team, Andrea makes errors on every play at practice. Tammy explains to the coach the two are BFF ("Best friends forever," she says) and Andrea must make the team, too. So she does! Lesson to kids: If you can't make the team by yourself, force your way on.

The first pitch of the baseball season is a foul pop, and Tammy does a little shout out to another baseball movie with dogs in it while making the catch.

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  • 2:05 PM EDT, Athletics at Rangers: The Oakland Athletics fill a disabled list with certain aplomb and frequency. The latest victims are Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra, who thinks the swine flu might be going around the clubhouse, but no worries, because the A's just called up Eric Patterson! Don't bat him leadoff! Hahahah. Dallas Braden and Vicente Padilla go mano y mano. Padilla has an 8.27 ERA but has decent strikeout numbers so he'll probably shut out the A's today.

  • 2:10PM EDT, Blue Jays at Royals: Kansas City and their fancy remodeled ballpark look to become the first squadron of aught-nine to win a series against the vaunted Blue Jays. Something tells me that if they succeed, they won't be the last. The Jays have still not played a single game against the A.L. East. I stand by my theory that the entire Blue Jay empire will crumble by Memorial Day. Former OriLOL Brian Burres and his 12.46 ERA take on former Brave Kyle Davies today.
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Huge mob news out of the greater New York-New Jersey metro area today as the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office has notched a huge score with "Operation Strike Out", shutting down a million-dollar-per-week sports gambling ring that operated partly at the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets new joint CitiField. Members of the Genovese crime family, once led by the late Vinny "the Chin" Gigante and probably the biggest and most entrenched Mafia families in North Jersey, operated the gambling ring.

The ring employed a system of code names and passwords for gamblers to place wagers on sporting events by calling telephone numbers or visiting Web sites, he said. The wire room that provided the betting lines and accepted the wagers was located in Costa Rica, which authorities said is common practice for mob-run sports gambling rings.

Bookies in the North Jersey area collected losses and paid winnings to the bettors, (John) Molinelli said.

(Paul "Shortline") Weber, who works for Aramark, the food vending giant, exchanged cash with members of the ring at both Yankee Stadium and CitiField while detectives and Major League Baseball security watched, Molinelli said.

Finally, an offense that Bud Selig and his cronies are actually capable of stopping! If Major League Baseball had handled the steroid nonsense with the same aplomb that they showed in shutting down this gambling ring, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi would have been out of baseball and collecting protection payments from pizzerias a long time ago. Heck, the ring was pulling in millions of dollars a week just from Mets fans betting that their team would actually win a late-and-close game. Major League Baseball's position is that the only person who should be making millions of dollars as the Mets blow leads is J.J. Putz.

Among the thirty-four men arrested in the sting was 37-year-old Joseph DiMaggio of Garfield, NJ. That breaks his fifty-six day streak without a single felony arrest, misdemeanor, or parking ticket.

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News out of Tampa is that Alex Rodriguez could be back even sooner than you expected, Yankee fans! And don't lie to me... you're all really stoked. A-Rod pulled the oldest trick in the book. He took a page out of Joni Mitchell/Amy Grant/Counting Crows' playbook and was like "Listen you Dagos, you don't know what you've got till it's gone." You paved Yankee Stadium and put up a parking lot. Now the second best hitter in baseball is back and you're all gonna be like "Sorry we doubted you. Please come back! We're 4 games behind the Blue Jays!"

Dr. Marc Philippon watched the three-time AL MVP's on-field workout Wednesday at the Yankees minor league complex and said Rodriguez could return to the majors ahead of his May 15 target date.

"He's looking good. Looking awesome,'' Philippon said.

Rodriguez slid five times on a sliding mat for the second time, ran the bases and took 112 swings in regular batting practice.

Philippon said after watching Wednesday's session that "it's crystal clear'' that Rodriguez will be strong when he returns to the Yankees.

"Are we starting to get excited? Yes,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday night in Detroit before the series finale against the Tigers. "He's taken several steps this week and not had any setbacks.''

Did you read that? According to Dr. Marc Phillipon... WHO IS A DOCTOR, Rodriguez went from good to awesome within the span of a single sentence. That's progress with a capital prog. Not only is Rodriguez going to hit an assload of dingers in that new stadium, if MLB can approve his sliding mat, he'll steal a bunch of bases too.

But seriously, A-Rod is back soon. It's proven that you can come back from this injury if you're a good player. So I'm sure it won't be a problem for a great player. Now go trade him for a pitcher.

UPDATE: At least there's no newly-revealed steroid allegations or hilarious nicknames about Alex that might stoke the flames of discord. - Rob

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we wetted warmth and killed it and in the water hid:

Reds 3, Astros 0: Two things to take away from this contest, one, that Edinson Volquez is a dominating pitcher when facing a bunch of weak-hitting, free-swinging lineup and two, that CF Michael Bourn can be a real asshole when he wants to be. Fella was tracking down a routine fly ball in the sixth inning when he collided with left fielder Carlos Lee. Both gentlemen were calling for the ball. Neither one heard the other, neither one backed off. The ball ended up bouncing back towards the infield and, instead of chasing it down, Bourn simply started pouting and hollering at Lee. GET THE BALL YOU BOOB, JOEY VOTTO IS ALREADY AT SECOND BASE!

Nationals 4, Phillies 1: Brett Myers put eleven Nats on base in his six innings. Something had to give, even with a impotent Warshington offense. More importantly, Scott Olsen and his band of merry relievers held the Phils lineup to just one run on a solo tot by Shane Victorino. Julian Tavarez recorded his first save since 2006, when he was sharing a 19th century rowhouse with Manny Ramirez in Beacon Hill and shopping for green onions at the Greenmarket every Thursday morning.

Royals 11, Blue Jays 3: Zack Greinke finally saw his ERA rise above the 0.00 mark but thanks to an awesome-in-ing offense behind him, he still picked up his league-leading fifth win. He's now the only Royal to ever go 5-0 in April. Billy Butler, who is somehow just 23 years old, clobbered two ding-dongs, and the rest of the Royals combined for nine other extra-base hits. Brian Tallet, you are no Jesse Litsch. I know Jesse Litsch and you are not him.

Twins 8, Rays 3: NICKGASM! Nick Blackburn outshone Scott Kazmir by working out of trouble a couple times during a solid seven innings. Kazmir was not very effective, folks. Fella gave up three extra-base hits and four walks in four innings, leading to eight Twinkies runs. Minnesoter got on the board with four first-inning runs and never looked back. Seriously, they were warned not to look back or their wife would turn to stone.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

That's a wrap for Wednesday, y'all. Tune in tomorrow, same WoW channel, for some more of the same delicious hipster beer conversations and a modicum of baseball coverage.

(Ommegang beer lineup courtesy of Flickr user and FoWoW The700Level)

MrMet-768288_223183726_std.gifHey WoWers! Man, I missed you guys. It's been six months since I last liveglogged for you, which was during last year's World Series I do believe. I can't remember what I did yesterday though, so don't quote me on that one.

Today's game features New York Mets' ace Johan Santana, who I'm still just a little bit salty towards after he totally abandoned my Twins for the big bucks, facing Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins, who were super awesome to start the season (11-1) and then went on a 7-game losing streak of suckiness, hurling me from their bandwagon like a limp shrimp. They did, however, beat the Mets 7-4 yesterday.

Game time: T-minus right now. Yay!
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  • 12:35PM EDT, Angels at Orioles: Filling out the rotation has become a real task for Mike Scioscia's Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim squadron. Today, he unleashes the questionable right arm of one Shane Loux into the suffocating confines of Camden Yards, against one of the more prolific AL offenses. Baltymore counters with Koji Uehara, who is making his third home start of the year and is totally due to give up a tater tot tidal wave.

  • 1:05PM EDT, Pirates at Brewers: In true Pittsburgh Pirates form, the Buccos have lost 14 straight against the Brew Crew and 17 straight games at Miller Park. They'll try to stop all that nonsense today behind the jazz stylings of Dover, Delaware's own Ian Snell and his troubling 1.07 K/BB ratio. Milwaukee counters with Bob Uecker's unintentional comedy and Yovani Gallardo's emerging ace status.

  • 1:10PM EDT, Marlins at Mets: Get your liveglog blazers out of the hall closet, Mabel, because our sister Sooze is going to liveglog this sucker for me and you and everyone we know. It's a stellar pitching matchup: Johan Santana defending his home court against upstart fish Josh Johnson. It's the catch of the day!

  • 2:05PM EDT, Mariners at White Sox: Erik Bedard's hips don't lie. Well, not anymore. Fella has a three-game quality start streak in which he has struck out 21 batters while walking only 3. He'll test his curveball against the mettle of Gavin Floyd in today's rubber match. Gavin Floyd's mettle is not dissimilar to Mastodon's metal, so much cooler before it got big, man.

  • 3:10PM EDT, Padres at Rockies: The shiny winners gloss is fading off the Padres' finish, dudes. They haven't won a series in two weeks but will try to get back on that horse today in a rubber match against Aaron Cook and the Rockies. Cook has given up five ding-dongs already this year, all of which have strangely occurred away from Coors Field. His home ERA is 4.50; his road ERA is 15.63. Elevation-related home-field disadvantages, you're doing it wrong.

  • 3:40PM EDT, Cubs at Diamondbacks: Milton Bradley is back, people! Lucky for him, it's in the loving racially-equal arms of Phoenix, Arizona instead of the hate-lined streets of Chicago. Fella is 2-for-11 against D-Backs starter Doug Davis in his career. That means nothing.
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If there's any place a disease can spread quickly, it's a baseball team's locker room. Just ask our own Kris Liakos who came down with a serious case of shingles after spending a day interviewing the Mets in Port St. Lucie. The Dodgers, within a stone's throw of swine flu epicenter Mexico are on high alert:

The swine flu scare hasn't caused any panic in the Dodgers clubhouse, but head athletic trainer Stan Conte monitors news reports because he's seen how viruses can be passed from one player to another when so many spend so much time together in close quarters.

"Obviously, it's a concern," said Conte. "There's always a certain percentage who get the flu and this variation is more contagious. We carry the medication they recommend and if one of our people gets sick, we'll get them to a physician."

Local elderly man and Dodgers team ambassador to old people Tommy Lasorda is reportedly upset and confused about how swine flu can be contracted. He's demanding that he still be allowed to consume his daily allowance of seven capicola and soppresatta sanguiches.

On Monday night, Matt Vasgersian made a somewhat controversial joke after Colorado Rockie Brad Hawpe was being carted off the field. Vasgersian likened one of the EMTs to Donovan McNabb. Via Maury Brown's The Biz of Baseball blog, Vasgersian issued an apology during MLB Tonight last night:


So he apologized for trivializing an injury but made no bones about what some folks are calling subtle racism, for saying that one black man looked like another black man. We here at Walkoff Walk are experts in the game of subtle racism and that, sir, is no subtle racism, just an ill-timed lookalike joke. That dude kinda did look Donovan McNabb.

Matty V. was right to apologize on air and even in the comment section of Maury Brown's blog, but only for making a joke when a real live baseball player was in a dangerous situation.

Leave the awkward stabs at humor for the sports blog commenters, Matt, continue to be the charming studio host with tussle-able hair, and don't ever EVER turn into Berman.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you put the cobwebs back in place:

Astros 8, Reds 3: Wandy Rodriguez lived up to my expectations and held the Redlegs to one run over seven innings in front of the smallest crowd in Great American Ball Park history. Obviously, Cincinnatians stayed home to avoid spreading the dreaded spaghetti flu.

Mariners 9, White Sox 1 (Game 2): The Mariners salvaged the second half of a true doubleheader behind the stellar pitching styles of Felix Hernandez. Picture it: eight scoreless innings, four hits and nine strikeouts. The White Sox were so afraid of the baseball, you'd think they thought the ball was carrying some sort of horsehide flu.

Indians 9, Red Sox 8: The Red Sox winning streak ended at 11 games on an oopsie by pitcher Javier Lopez. With Mark DeRosa on second and one out, Kevin Youkilis made a backhanded stab to stop Asdrubal Cabrera's sharp grounder then flipped to Lopez covering first. Lopez dropped the ball as if it were hot and/or stricken with some sort of feline flu and DeRosa rounded third and scored the winning run.

Braves 2, Cardinals 1: Matt Diaz' seeing-eye grounder up the middle scored two runs in the eighth after Cards reliever Kyle McLellan pulled a Farnsworth and bloated the bases with three walks. Whoops! It's almost as if he was avoiding the strike zone because he feared it was infected with some sort of tater tot flu. Comedically nicknamed Jo-Jo Reyes had a solid start, going seven innings and allowing but one run.

Yankees 11, Tigers 0: Suck it, Jerkwheat.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the band entrance is for the band only.

That'll do it for your broadcast day. No linkpunch today, so send in your tips for Thursday's edition, folks. Come back tomorrow, same WoW channel, for our special liveglogger Sooze. Mets-Marlins at 1PM, y'all!

(AT&T Field via Flickr user joyosity)

Via our pal Sooze at the inimitable Babes Love Baseball (she'll be liveglogging the Mets-Marlins tilt for us tomorrow at 1PM, by the by) comes this video snippet of MLB Network's live studio show from last night:


To recap: Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies is getting carted off the field after sustaining a concussion after being hit in the neck with an errant pickoff move and Matt Vasgersian decides that it would be a good time to make hilarious "that black guy looks like Donovan McNabb" jokes. The scariest part about the clip? Billy Ripken is the voice of reason in the studio.

UPDATE: Vasgersian (allegedly) defends himself in the Kissing Suzy Kolber comment section, of all places.

christian_bale_american_psycho_003.jpgWe here at Walkoff Walk aren't so petty as to hold grudges...oh wait, we most certainly are. Drunk drivers and domestic abusers get a rough ride here because, basically, screw them. A common whipping boy has long been Brian Giles. The lumpy tanning enthusiast gets away with scummy behaviour because of his consistently high level of performance on the baseball field. But no more!!

Everyone's least favorite ball player is officially the least valuable player in baseball this season. So far in 2009 his offensive numbers are reminiscent of a man who left his bat under the Petco aerator. His traditional slash line of .169/.234/.197 adds up to a whopping .431 OPS. Correcting for ballpark and league averages brings Brian's OPS+ in at 19! 100 is league average, he's a 19.

Getting on base was always a calling card of Giles, who once walked 135 times in a season. 2009 has changed all that! Suddenly Giles strikes out almost twice as much as he walks without any power to show for his flailing. Pounding balls into the ground at an unprecedented rate while hitting line drives increasingly rarely won't get Giles out of this slump any time soon.

Not content to hurt his team only at the plate, the aging outfielder's defense is now doing more harm than good also! His long long affair with orange skin shows Brian knows how to care for leather; sadly his glove lies neglected and underused. Being bad at a relatively unimportant position on the field only strengthens his status as baseball worst bargain.

Adding his impotent, replacement-level offense to his zombie-level defense gets you a player worth more than 7 runs less than replacement. He tried new bats & extra BP, nothing seems to fix his swing or the unbearable karmic load he carries to the plate ever night Take heart Brian, it's still only April. You still have 5 full months to achieve new levels of awfulness.

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Early on in WoW history I declared my love for the Blue Jays blog over at the Toronto Star. It wasn't that it was very insightful or anything. It was just really weird. At some point I stopped reading any of them except Richard Griffin. He's the only one that shows up in my RSS feed. But that's fine because as far as totally insane Blue Jays coverage, he's all I need. Last winter I characterized his writing as fueled by cheap hooch and diminishing faculties. Well judging by the latest installment of his "Griff's Power Rankings" his light speed trip to dementia is progressing well. For those of you unfamiliar with the GRP, it's an arbitrary list of what he thinks are the best teams in baseball followed by a one liner. Which rarely has anything to do with the quality of the team. Let's go to the highlights!

(Last week's rankings in parentheses)

3-Marlins (1)

Congrats Dave Van Horne 40 years in radio

4-Blue Jays (9)

Like ranking Kriss Angel on most powerful men list

6-Yankees (5)

C.C. + A.J.= SNAFU + S.O.S.

14-Royals (16)

Zack Greinke, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser??? Who does not belong?

19-Padres (18)

Pads are like Robin Hood stealing wins from the rich with buddy Friar Suck.

21-Orioles (20)

Zaun struggling for playing time

The Marlins one has nothing to do with the team. The Blue Jays one is dated, creepy and makes no sense. The Yankees one is from a puzzle book for people that don't understand equations or acronyms. The Royals one seems like a question on an entrance exam for old age. The Padres one makes no sense and features a really gratuitous suck. The Orioles one may be my favorite though. GIVE ZAUN SOME PLAYING TIME AND THIS TEAM IS BACK IN THE THICK OF IT.

Griff's Power Rankings are one of my favorite reads of the week. Until I remember that he gets paid for this.

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Yesterday, we investigated Brian Wilson's alleged wild night out on the town as described by his own Twitter feed. Immediately after posting, most of Wilson's wacky tweets disappeared, replaced by the message, "WARNING-do not take my twitters seriously, they are made up stories that reflect my humor." What about the white mocha fraps and the linen pants? Were those details made up, too?

Last night, his Twitter account disappeared completely. (we have the best parts screen-capped for perpetuity, of course) Later, San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Henry Schulman got the story straight from the horse's mouth. There was no night out on the town:

In a conversation with me inside the clubhouse, Wilson said he wrote his "Scottsdale" posts from his hotel room. In a tweet directed toward me (and not in a friendly way), he suggested he was enjoying a room-service hamburger.

"I don't even drink during the season," Wilson told me. "I like to work out and I don't like to feel like complete s-- the next day."

Schulman feels that Wilson's character is strong enough that he doesn't believe Brian is lying. We discussed this last night on the podcast prior to our discussions of slutty grandmas and Mexican cancer. Our conclusion? Wilson's Twitter musings were far more interesting than the stock publicist-generated nonsense one normally reads on a typical pro athlete's Twitter. It's a shame that an upstart fervor by folks like us caused Brian to cancel his account. Our bad, y'all.

The story has a happy ending as Wilson struck out all three Dodgers batters he faced to earn the save last night. See? That's what happens when good boys stay in their hotel rooms the night before a game and don't misbehave and create wild fantasies about getting into it with Affliction-wearing jamooks in Scottsdale.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Across 110th Street

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, while pushers wouldn't let the junkie go free.

Tigers 4, Yankees 2: Magglio Ordonez hit a 3 run tater tot in the sixth that proved the difference in the evening. The Yankees made a comeback bid in the 9th that was foiled by a Jorge Posada double play ball. Justin Verlander struck out 9 over 7 scoreless innings. I should have picked The Tilde over Miguel Cabrera in the PPP.

Red Sox 3, Indians 1: This game flew by faster then the weirdos at this past weekend's Street Meet. It was all double plays and scoreless innings until the ninth when Kerry Wood gave up a 3 run Happy Jack to the insanely hot hitting Jason Bay. Think he's a little happier this year? Papelbon had his own hiccups in the ninth but was able to escape. The Red Sox have an 11 game winning streak.

Astros 4, Reds 1: Hunter Pence: Hero Dawg. That would be an OK cartoon. His two run double broke a 1-1 stalemate in the ninth. Roy Oswalt scattered 10 Dusties over 7, making his best start of the season... since the last time he faced this team.

Mets 7, Marlins 1: The Fish never had a chance in this one. The Mets tagged Anibal Sanchez for 6 runs in the first. He stayed in the game for 6 innings but the offense never dug out of the whole, seemingly baffled by John Maine. Omir Santos had a tot for the Mets. I saw him hit two homeruns in a Spring game this year but was told by various New York beat writers in the press box that he had no chance of making the team. Whoops.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you can't hammer a nail without a hammer and a nail

That's all for today, chuckleheads. Life is rough for your pal Rob since his laptop went kabloowie this weekend but I will do my best to restore my circa-2001 desktop at home so we can absolutely, positively broadcast Episode Five of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show, tonight at 10PM EDT. If you hear dead air, you'll know why. Gulp!

Yesterday, Giants closer Brian Wilson came into the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead to protect and promptly blew that lead up like it was toxic. He gave up a two-run tater tot to Justin Upton as part of a four-run Diamondback rally that eventually led to a San Fran loss. Bay City Ball breaks down Wilson's performance or lack thereof, but the true key to his blown save against the otherwise poor-hitting Diamondbacks can be found in Brian's assorted Twitter musings from the night before (read from the bottom up to get the full Brian Wilson experience):

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From those 140-character-or-less microbloggings, I can assemble the following timeline for Brian Wilson's Saturday night out on the town of Scottsdale:

  • 9:00 PM MST: Round up bros Nate "Nate Dogg" Schierholtz, Matt "Cain Dogg" Cain and Travis "Half Asian Dogg" Ishikawa to bro out with some doggs on the Scottsdale strip.

  • 9:15PM MST: Bypass velvet rope line at Myst thanks to Matt Cain being 2008 face of the franchise.

  • 9:25PM MST: Get recognized by only meatheads in Arizona who shave their biceps and follow the NL West.

  • 10:00PM MST: Witness tussle between two twentysomething males hopped up on Red Bull/vodkas, comment to Nate Dogg how easily they could take the entire club if only Bengie (Molina) had showed up.

  • 11:15PM MST: Totally own meathead with aptly chosen bon mot. High five Cain Dogg.

I have no comment on Bri Dogg's affinity for white mocha fraps and Reebok pumps.

(We owe a pallet of Cokes to Big League Stew's News 'n Notes)

moneytree.jpgAfter taking the baseball world by storm in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays have stumbled out of the block in Oh Nine. Pundits and bloggers fall over themselves to state they "knew it all along" and decry the little Rays as flashes in the pan or one-hit wonders. Is it true? Have the Rays regressed back into the gaping maw of mediocrity so soon after climbing out of it's sad depths?

In a word: no. The only thing to regress early on this season is the Rays fortune. They're still a balanced, talented team built around excellent defense, solid pitching, and a core of young stars. This combination powered them to 97 wins in 2008 and the franchise's first appearance in the World Series. Mostly.

The Rays, well assembled as they may be, rode a lot of luck in 2008. Not dumb luck, but numerous forces conspired in their favor. They outperformed their Pythagorean record by more than 3 wins. A 29-18 record in one-run games is phenomenal when you consider league average is around .500. (Before you say "that's the mark of a good team", consider in 2008, the 72-90 San Diego Padres were 31-21 in one-run games.) The clutch stat, which measure how much better or worse a team performs (in terms of WPA/LI) in high-leverage situations, shows both the Rays offense and pitching staff really stepped up their games when the heat was on in 2008. The superlative yet soft-tossing Rays pen notched an ERA of 3.82 with a FIP of 4.22, meaning their excellent and soon-to-be-document-for-posterity defense saved them half a run a night.

Turn the calender over to 2009 and things haven't gone so swimmingly. It's still very, very early but the Rays are already behind the Pythag and one-run game 8 ball. The clutch numbers are essentially the opposite of the last year: a relief core not up to snuff performing worse in the late & close and an offense with the worst clutch numbers in baseball.

Add this reversal of fortune to very slow starts by regulars B.J. Upton and Dioner Navarro and you've got a disappointing record and fans wondering why? Don't forget two red hot teams inside the division to magnify the early season struggles. Are the Rays likely to lose more games than they win in 2009? No, they're too good for that. They can survive down seasons from one or two everyday players; what they can't expect is to skate into the post season again without an infusion of that fickle mistress luck.

Pity poor Meech at The Fightins who had to endure watching his Phillies take to the road in Miami to witness a stadium one-quarter full of humans and one-quarter full of drunken pooches.

Last night at the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie, Marlins fans were urged to bring their pooch with them for their annual "Bark at the Park" night. The Comcast cameras were continuously scouring the crowd for some of these pups when they came across a gentleman who was in the midst of serving his boxer a cold, refreshing beer. "Uh-oh" indeed, Tom McCarthy.



This reminds me of that 1975 Cleveland Indians promotion when the team encouraged fans to bring their elderly relatives to Municipal Stadium, where they were all rounded up and had their organs harvested. Actually, this is nothing like that.

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When Gordon Wittenmyer wanted to interview Milton Bradley about a piece he was preparing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Bradley agreed. Wittenmyer was doing a piece set to run on April 15th, or Jackie Robinson Day, about how Bradley was going to deal with the supposedly racist crowds at Wrigley Field. In other words, Bradley was getting set up and baited into saying some crazy black man stuff that would sell papers. In the end, he didn't, but he later accused Wittenmyer of making up quotes. After a week where Bradley zipped his lips and refused to speak to any media, he opened up to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat:

"When I turn around and people are standing at my locker every time, I'm trying to figure out why, because I've already told them I don't want to talk," Bradley said. "That's the only thing -- I never had a problem with the media until I started reading stuff that wasn't what I said.

You can't fight City Hall, man. And you can't expect that every word and every sentence that fall out of your mouth are going to end up in the correct order on the page. Or even if the actual words make it to the page. What will end up on the page is your intent and your attitude. If you've got a chip on your shoulder, they're not going to write puff pieces about your community volunteerism. They're going to magnify every blowup and tear down every slump because that is their job and that is how they put dinner on the table. Look what the mass media did to Roger Maris, or Barry Bonds, or Jose Guillen. Wait, Jose Guillen did that to himself.

Any enemy of the blood-hungry tabloid media is a friend of mine. A certifiable antagonist before he even set foot on the field in Wrigley, Milton Bradley's unfriendly behavior in the friendly confines is the lifeblood of the sportswriter not just in Chicago, but everywhere. The sharks circle waiting for a talented but troubled slugger to bring his brand of crazy into town; it's almost as if the entire newspaper industry in Chicago pounced on Bradley as if he were some sort of newsprint savior. He's not. He's an outfielder. A talented, sometimes injured, pouting, confrontational, and irritable outfielder, but still just an outfielder. He's paid to play baseball, not to be an ambassador to the media or the fans.

But the media won't let go. Wittenmyer wrote an op-ed piece asking for a sit-down with Bradley. This line, however, belies every intention that drives someone paid to cover the greatest sport in one of the most tempestuous cities:

I have no axe to grind with Bradley. I'm certainly not hoping he fails - in fact, his success here would obviously be a great story.

It certainly would, Gordo.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Via Chicago

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Here's what the shit happened in baseball yesterday while I knew I'd make it back one of these days and turn on your TV to watch a man with a face like mine being chased down a busy street.

Cincinnati 8, Atlanta 2: Jay Bruce hit two home runs but the main reason that this is the lead story is because Rob and I are in some league over at the exceptional Razzball where we're supposed to pick the worst team possible. It's very clever and one of these days we'll update our roster. But anyway, some dude in that league, and I honestly can't remember which site he was from, drafted Micah Owings and I said that I thought it was a bad pick because I thought Owings was going to have a good year. He basically called me a retard and said I knew nothing about baseball. And he was right until last night. HOW YOU LIKE OWINGS' 1 ER ALLOWED AND 2 HITS IN 7IP, ANONYMOUS INTERNET DICK?

Blue Jays 4, White Sox 3: Roy Halladay pitched like a mere mortal, but Scott Rolen had the game winning single in the 8th to give Toronto rubber after opposing blowouts. I believe the pitch he hit was a "who gives a damn what I throw it's Scott Rolen, he's old" on the outside corner. That pitch hasn't been very effective lately.

Cubs 10, Cards 3: Baby Bears Dodge Dustpan on Fukudome's career high 5 RBI... OH HIS BIRTHDAY! WHEEE! See that's just another difference between the US and Japan. Here, on your birthday anything you accomplish is endowed with greater significance by virtue of it just being your birthday. Over there, someone draws you a picture of some sort of Demon Fish having sex with your family.

Rox 10, Dodgers 4: Colorado Crushers Sidestep Sweep and Clint Barmes uses a venison corked bat to hit his third tater tot of the season. I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me.

Angels 8, Mariners 0: Anaheim Avoids Broom Bristles with twin tater tots. Howie Kendrick donged along with Juan Rivera. They hit them off Jarrod Washburn who we should have drafted in the Razzball league. HE SUCKS.

Night of the Tater Tots

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Mini Fine tater tots.jpgHoly. Crap. Last night's 15 games accounted for 41 home runs. 41!! Don't believe me? The Four Letter has'em all in convenient list form. Not even close to the record of 62; but so many balls left the yard last night it left me under empty rows of night windows.

Cardinals 1 HR, Cubs 0 HRs: This game may have only featured one dinger, but it was a king dong off the bat of the King of Dongs himself: Albert Pujols. As tetra tots have been known to do, it put a close game out of reach. Sean Marshall was tagged with the loss though reliever David (Van) Patton gave up Pujols's big shot. The upstart Pittsburgh Pirates scored 10 runs without hitting any home runs. Dudes, get with the times! Six walks and a buncha singles served as the solar cells for this efficient offense. Zack Duke has bookended a terrible start last time out with another 8+ innings of great pitching. The Brewers and Astros went back and forth, hitting 5 homers between them. Prince Fielder knocked two, one of which appeared to be the game winner. A hit batsmen, sacrifice bunt and throwing error on the third basemen undid the Brewers in the bottom of 9 but Ryan Braun walked them off in the 11th.

Rangers 4 HRs, Orioles 1 HRs: The dingeriest team in baseball did their dingery worst to the O's at Camden Yard. Ian Kinsler hit one to lead off the game and added another for good measure in the second inning. Texas leads the league in both home runs (31) and isolated power (.233) which is just a fancy way of saying home runs. The Orioles could only muster 3 runs against the Rangers bullpen, meaning the league may count tonight's loss twice. The Rangers have more home runs than the other three teams in their division combined. Yet somehow the Mariners are now in first place by 3.5 games in the West. They're also the only team in the division with a positive run differential. The M's hit two homers and held on to beat the slumping Angels, Carlos Silva's first pitching win since sometime in June. He must be so proud.

Philies 2 HRs, Marlins 2 HRs: Deadlocked as their tots may have been, the Phillies took the win in this one by virtue of their super rare pitcher tot! Chan Ho Park took Marlins starter Chris Volstad deep in the third inning in what must be the most shameful moment of the young hurlers career. Matt Stairs, he of the awesome tshirts, tied the game in the ninth with a ground out before Chase Utley and Shane Victorino singled (yawn) home the difference-making runs in the 11th inning. Make it five loses in a row for the Marlins, and some signs of life from the underachieving world champs. The New York Mets haven't hit very many home runs this year (11) but they played the Nationals so it didn't matter. The Nats gifted the Mets 4 unearned runs en route to an 8-2 beating. The Nats are bad, ya'll. Chipper Jones celebrated his 37th birthday on Friday night with some small game and a three run home run on Saturday. Congrats Chip!

More Noteworthy Totfests: The Red Sox and Yankees played quite themselves the rugby match at Fenway. Jason Varitek ran into an AJ Burnett that everyone on the Eastern seaboard knew was coming for grand slam. Robinson Cano did his very best, alas he can't pitch. Luckily dreamboat Nick Swisher can, he could easily be called into service tonight after the Yankees used 7 pitchers. Randy Johnson couldn't get out of the fourth inning thanks to his 7 walks but fellow senior Randy Winn picked up his shuffleboard partner with his second jack of the year. Manny went 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts but the Dodgers still beat the Rocks. Because they're better, you see. The Royals finally fell to the Tigers but they still lead the division as the AL Central is a little sloppy right now. I'm just letting you know AL Central, if you need me to be your life coach, I available. I think you'll find my rates quite affordable, especially when you consider the value I'll bring to your meager existence.

Image courtesy of the Juvie Shop. Thanks to Kris for the tip. Weird, dude.

scullydrive.jpgPicking on TV personalities/on-air talent provides great sport and fodder for any self-respecting blogger. Biases, both real and perceived, are highlighted and scrutinized from all manner of national sports network talent and used against them in the everlasting blood feud between fans and the unbalanced media.

It would seem regional broadcasters are immune to this disease, with most modern booth teams serving as glorified cheerleaders, reporting from deep within the organization. The Hawk and the Santo are two high profile cases and symptomatic of this worsening epidemic. I understand this is hardly uncharted territory, and I recognize most broadcasters are in fact employees of the team. But my recently acquired Exta Innings package only exposed the depth of the homer.

This afternoon I caught the pregame and a few innings of the Nats/Mets game broadcast by MASN. Play by play man Bob Carpenter is an old pro who understands the programming mandate: you are the voice of the Nationals. Speak for the Nationals, of the Nationals. No big deal, his non-regional diction and smooth delivery overshadowed his shallow homerism. Unfortunately for me, the Nats colourman is shameless huckster Rob Dibble. Dibble's made quite a career for himself as a broadcaster; using his outsized personality to cover baseball for numerous networks and a variety of roles. This is Dibble's first year with the Nats, but you wouldn't have known it during the game.

We. We we we we we we. Not the sound of little piggies going all the way home nor the sound of Rob's last trip to Montreal, this was the pronoun of choice for Mr. Dibble. Rob Dibble played zero games from the Washington Nationals (or the Montreal Expos), has broadcasted a maximum of 12 Nationals' games, yet there he was, speaking as though he had a locker between Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge anybody named Zimmerman. Sorry Rob, you aren't on the team. Your job is to provide inane banter relating to a batter or pitcher's mindset in a given situation and cliche-laced puff pieces distracting from the 100 loss certainty.

In my experience, even widely acknowledged homers like the Remdog or Michael Kay abstain from the first person plural. Look at the photo above. Vin Scully has been an employee/broadcaster of the Los Angeles Dodgers for SIXTY YEARS and to him; they're still "the Dodgers."

You can and should learn from Vin, Rob. Everyone could. Syracuse and other high profile broadcasting schools should issue WWVSD bracelets to each graduate. I appreciate the need to invigorate and emotionally invest a flagging fan base around a moribund franchise, but please remove yourself from the action. The Nats already have a flash in the pan righthander in their bullpen. Even a team this haphazardly assembled wouldn't see the need for another.

haimdodgers.jpgDuring this most surprising of April's; with first places around the league occupied by darkhorses, out of nowhere surprises, and unstoppable baseball juggernauts, only one established, big name team is playing the kind of baseball expected of them. The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing excellent baseball, and we'd be foolish to expect that to change any time soon.

In addition to one of history's best right handed bats, the Dodgers have been swatting the ball from every slot in the line up card. They rank in the top five in team OPS and team wOBA, second in team WPA/LI (that's a good thing!), and fifth in plain old runs. Four of their regulars currently feature an OPS over 1. Starting catcher Russell Martin finds himself mired in a deep slump, but is generally regarded as one of the best in the game.

Meanwhile their pitching, already thought to be the strong point of the team, has somehow performed better than expected. Top five in team FIP, ERA, and K/BB while leading the league in WHIP and maintaining a strong but sustainably league-average strand rate of 75%. The giant at the end of their bullpen currently sports a healthy K/BB of 15:1 to accompany his opponent's batting average of .077! Yikes. They also happen to convert balls in play into outs as well as anybody in baseball.

Off all the hot starters, two things work in the Dodgers favor:

  1. Their true talent level is very close to their current high level of play
  2. Their division is terrible.

When asked on the spot to name the worst lineup in baseball, two out of three WoW editors selected NL West teams. Free (of cost and thought) analysis of this caliber should make you feel like you just stole a dead guy's wallet.

The Dodgers will not continue to win 70% of their games, They should win their division quite handily. Hell, managers from within the division seem resigned to the Dodgers taking the title. Worse yet, they're a likable team! Manny, Andre the foodie, Vin fucking Scully, and lithe Clayton Kershaw make this a team worth watching throughout their long, inevitable march to the post season. Hopefully McCourt doesn't realize what he's got and up ticket prices halfway through the year.

Thanks as always to Fangraphs for the statistical backup.

old-knives.jpgHoly Crap! So much went on last night, we should start to sort it out because our legends tell of weapons.

Royals 6, Tigers 1: Zack Greinke, sadly, is no longer made of magic. He gave up a run! Who approved that contract extension? I don't care if it was unearned, he's clearly just another product of the endless Royals hype machine. The now alone-in-first Royals jumped out against young Rick Porcello, allowing their new ace to cruise the rest of the way for his second consecutive complete game. 10 strike outs to 1 walk will get you nowhere young man. The Tigers have already begun spiking Porcello's drinks with PCP and administering shock treatment hoping he can rebound from the edges of sanity as well as Greinke. Pity the poor Indians, so much offense continually going for naught. The even-steven Twins didn't walk a single Indian (they're leading the league in BBs, BtB) and made quick work of the struggling Tribe. Justin Morneau totted and notched the ever-popular RBI groundout. Ribbies are for Mcsandwiches friends.

Philies 7, Marlins 3: Hmm, maybe these Marlins aren't what we made of them? One out away from stopping their 3 game losing skid, the Marlins bullpen blowed up good, walking in a run before Shane Victorino and Chase Utley went Tetra Tot/Insult to Injury Tot back-to-back. Make that 4 loses in row for the Fish and Phantic-shaped shadow in their rearview mirror. If Johan Santana's the only good starter you've got, at least you've got one of the best. Santana struck out 10 in only six innings of work, meaning he had a good seat for Frankie Rodriquez's best efforts to blow the thing. The notoriously pious reliever gave up a home run to a guy named Jesus, I can see how he may have been conflicted. The run that eventually decided the game was pushed across by an 8th inning walk of Carlos Delgado, a factoid that has to be worth some kind of shrimp product.

Blue Jays 14, White Sox 0: Worsening! The Toronto Blue Jays started a cast-off middle reliever, followed him up with a another cast off and a failed first pick overall and all they could do was shut out the high powered White Sox offense. Adam Lind's three dubbles and Alexei Ramirez's case of the dropsies turned this match up of first place teams into a laugher. The White Sox official scorer obviously suffers a form of shell shock, having been brow-beaten by Orlando Cabrera all last season. Though only charged with one error, Ramirez kicked, dropped, punted, and passed the Blue Jays countless extra at-bats and chances last night. The Red Sox and Yankees locked horns once again in Boston, with exciting results! Jason Bay improbably took Mo Rivera deep in the ninth inning to set the stage for Kevin Youkilis. A not particularly well-pitched game dragged the dredges of each bullpen to the surface, with Rob's favorite player sending a blast deep into the night and happy drunks spilling into the streets. Boston's now won 8 in a row and are in second place all by themselves.

Giants 5, Snakes 1: It appears safe to say that Tim Lincecum is back. 8 innings pitched, 12 strike outs, 5 hits and only 2 walks. Not to nitpick, but three of the five hits he allowed were doubles and one came off the bat of the opposing pitcher! I'd be worried Giants fans, he's not out of the woods yet. The surprising Padres continued to surprise; surprising the surprisingly not last placed Pirates in extra innings. Surprisingly, Brian Giles delivered the game-winning hit in the 11th inning and I surprisingly won't draw attention to the fact that he's a wife beating douchebag. Whoops.

In other news, the Mariners won again because the Angels are a wreck, the Dodgers won because they're really good (more later!), and the Cards & Cubs played another tight game with the first place Cards coming out on top. The Cubs bullpen is the new Mets bullpen!

Weekend Questions

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baby-lobster.jpg Hey kids, you tried to swim across the sea and you almost made it.

  • ARE there any games for me to go to this weekend in Boston?

  • IF the Marlins take, say, two out of three from The Phillies then Florida locks down the best April in MLB, right?

  • WILL that "other" rivalry put any more space between the Cubs and Cards?

  • CAN the Reds keep streaking in Atlanta? Volquez starts tonight and he's due for a good one after two consecutive stinkers.

  • WILL this weekend's series light a fire under the asses of either Minnesota or Cleveland? Nick Blackburn is making me look dumb.

  • CAN I put an asterik next to the term "first place Blue Jays" until they play someone from the division? I know, I know, they don't write the schedule but still. It's weird. They have the White Cocks this weekend.

  • WHO has the upper hand in Arizona? With Timmy going tonight, I'd like to say the Giants, but we all know the real answer is CHUCK CECIL!

  • DO you realize what your state's official rock song is? And was there a giant political battle of attrition over it like there was in Oklahoma? I just think it's interesting that there are some people that still find the Flaming Lips edgy. PLAY "GUY WHO GOT A HEADACHE..."

  • WILL the Tigers score any runs off of Zack Grienke tonight? No one's done it since last September.

That's it for us. I hope you have a great weekend. Drew (nee Lloyd) will be here this weekend doing what we do better than we do. You know the drill. So be well, enjoy what seems to be nice weather across the entire damned country and one last time, help out Sara, if you can.

We'll see you Monday. You know it, you love, you same WoW channel it. You too, Lobster Baby.

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Hit the bricks, Blue Jays fans. Take a back seat, resurgent Padres and Pirates. The big boys are flexing their muscles and getting ready to put their matching 9-6 records on the line in the first Red Sox-Yankees series of the year. Our abilities to hide our rooting interests has faded somewhat over the past fourteen months, so why pretend that anything else matters at this point? Kris is hoping the Red Sox sweep at home. I'm hoping the Yankees head up to Fenway, tear Terry Francona's heart out, and eat it for breakfast over some antibiotic-free farm-raised eggs with a side of cantaloupe.

Either way, with a three-game series starting tonight on regional TV, continuing tomorrow afternoon on FOX, and ending Sunday night on ESPN, one of us is going to be a sad tomato come Monday morning.

Tonight, young studs Jon Lester and Joba Chamberlain will take the mound. Huggable Red Sox team mascot David Ortiz has some words of warning for young Joba, who spent most of 2007 and 2008 figuring out ways to remove Kevin Youkilis' horrendous facial hair without a razor:

"None of that, man -- just play the game the way it's supposed to be, and that's about it," Ortiz said, referring to Chamberlain. "This is a guy, as good as he is, the next step for him will be to earn respect from everybody in the league. He's not a bad guy, but when things like that happen, people get the wrong idea."

Well, I don't interpret that as a threat at all. More like some kind words of respect from a veteran superstar to a young turk, perhaps with a friendly slice of advice that would garner zero national headlines were this to occur between any other teams.

Tomorrow's matchup might be twenty times better than tonight's, as former Marlin teammates Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett battle it out to see which one can get more strikeouts, walks, and home runs to piss off their respective otherwise bored defenses. On Sunday, Andy Pettitte and Justin Masterson go head-to-head in a contest between two pitchers who have nothing in common except that they are actually fifth cousins thrice removed.

No friendly wager on this series because that would be simply beating a concept deep into the cold, wet ground. Still, you better believe I am going to crow on my Twitter feed with every good thing that happens for the road team. As for you assorted Red Sox fans who deign to boo Mark Teixeira, fine. Boo him for being the awesomest player on your toughest rival, but don't stoop to the level of the sad Orioles fans and boo him for making a personal career choice.

(Photo courtesy of aptly-named Flickr user permanently scatterbrained)

Since 1993: A Tribute To Rod Beck

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Ok, so this isn't technically "Classic Television" because: 1. It was never on TV and B. It's from last year. But that does absolutely nothing to distract from its epic awesomeness. In tribute to Rod Beck, here's a jangly twangy reverby song about the man, his moustache, his arm and his love of beer.

Please to enjoy.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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You know what hurts? I'll tell you what hurts. Getting smacked in the face with a shovel. THAT hurts. Once one of these ballplayers misses a game because he got smacked in the face with a shovel I'll stop calling these guys creampuffs, ninnies, nancies, fruits, flakes, fragile porcelain mice, and wimps. But not until then. Now, they are still all of the above.

  • Brian McCann, Braves: McCann had blurry vision all week that has now been corrected with a contact lense. I think he's been reading in the dark like his mom told him not to. AND eating cookies in bed.

  • Rocco Baldelli, Jed Lowrie Red Sox: Oh, Rocco. We just love you too damn much around here, esp now that you and I are Bros For Life. We're not going to say anything bad about your hamstring strain. We're just going to hold our breath until you get off the 15 day DL. I'll probably pass out after like 2 minutes, but whatever. Lowrie had wrist surgery and will be swinging a bat again in 6 weeks. He'll continue to be a swinger, sexually, throughout his entire rehab.

  • Marcus Thames, Tigers: This week's midsection sickie . He has a "severe" ribcage strain. I just did a google image search for "strained rib cage" cause I had this witty joke I was gonna make. It's all pictures of baseball players. I guess that's a good enough joke right there.

  • Andrew Miller, Jorge Cantu, Marlins: Guess what Miller has. Nope, not lice. Good guess though. Oblique strain! He's on the deel. Burke Badenhop replaces him on the roster instantly overtaking Kelly Johnson as the girliest named player in MLB. And that's saying something. My name is Kris. Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu has a minor wrist thing. In his abdomen. Wait, what?

  • Darren Oliver, Angels: Oliver is the sixth Angels pitcher to land on the deel already. And Kelvim Escobar had a setback. That's tough stuff. Where is Christopher Lloyd when you need him? No not because of that movie, but because I pay him to mow my lawn. And it needs mowing.

  • Doug Mientkiewicz, Dodgers: Florida State Seminole Doug Mientkiewicz had shoulder surgery and will be out until September. That's a long time to be without a lousy hitter and late inning defensive replacement. Tread lightly Dodger fans.

  • Ryan Doumit, Pirates: Doomy (that's what I call him) is out about 2 months with a broken wrist bone. Which is connected to the hand bone. Which is often connected to a High Life.

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The New York Mets have gotten off to a middling 6-9 start, thanks mostly to poor performances from the members of the starting rotation whose name doesn't rhyme with Schmohan Schmantana. It's true, check out the stats:

FELLASTARTSIPBBKERAFIP
Johan Santana319.25270.461.23
Livan Hernandez316477.316.33
John Maine315.29117.475.19
Oliver Perez31512157.804.48
Mike Pelfrey210658.107.91

Stinkeroo! Besides Johan Santana and his tidy 0.46 ERA, the other four starters have an ERA of 7.62. So Mets manager Jerry Manuel is putting his pitchers on notice and threatening to make changes:

"If it doesn't get any better, then you have to make some adjustments," Manuel said after his club fell to 6-9 with its fourth straight loss. "It's really that simple. It's not rocket science. If they ain't pitching, then you've got to find somebody that will pitch."

No telling where he is going to find these magical starting pitchers that will somehow right the teetering ship in Queens. If they existed, why not sign them in the offseason? Oh right, you let them all sign with Atlanta. Besides starter Tim Redding, currently working out in extended spring training, the Mets cupboard is pretty bare. But hey, at least the bullpen hasn't blown any saves yet.

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you were rehearsing, always:

Mariners 1, Rays 0: I have no idea if the Mariners are this good or the Rays are this bad or if asparagus really goes well with red lentils but none of that matters when I can take one solid baseball fact to the bank: Felix Hernandez is made of magic. Fella struck out seven Rays hitters in seven scoreless innings and got some help from Ichiro's 28th career leadoff home run. King Felix is striking out more than a batter per inning and, as long as he keeps his homer rate down, he'll fulfill our Cy Young wishes and food pairing dreams.

Reds 7, Cubs 1: It might be too soon to tell, but another one of our predictions is looking purty good: the resurgent Redlegs. The Fightin' Dustys took two of three from the defending NL Central champ Cubbies behind Aaron Harang's seven good innings and Canadian Joey Votto's homer and two dubbles. Jay Bruce picked up a cheap RBI triple in the fourth when Micah Hoffpauir misplayed his pop-up. Oops.

Indians 5, Royals 2: Speaking of oops, can anyone explain the Royals bullpen? They've blown yet another lead, this time thanks to a three-run Grady Sizemore tater tot off Ron Mahay, and the Mexicutioner Joakim Soria once again did not get into the game in a close-and-late situation. With a slim one-run margin in the eighth, Gil Meche put four runners on base and let in an unearned run. Then Trey Hillman brings in Mahay who gives up the farm. Is this simply uncreative managing by Trey, or has Kyle Farnsworth infected the entire pen with SARS (severe acute royals suckitude)?

Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2: Alex Rios' two-run ding-dong helped Toronto continue to beat up on the weaker sisters of the American League. Be it AL Central or AL West, the Blue Jays will strong arm 'em with a combination of timely hitting and a total lack of B.J. Ryan to eff things up late. Scott Richmond picked up the win and Scott Downs notched the save because everyone in Canada is either named Scott, Mark, Bruce, Dave, or Kevin. Girls are named Cathy or Kathy.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.

  • DID you know that Rob joined me this year in the New York Daily News Player Pick Pool? And that I'm killing him?

  • WHO will take rubber between the White Sox and O's? The O's are a game under .500 now and could be settling even lower starting riiiiight abooooouuut.... now.

  • ARE the pitiful Astros going to sweep those first place Dodgers? Not if Chad Blillingsley has anything to say about it! Which he probably does but I can't be bothered to ask him.

  • WILL KIng Felix start pitching like the Cy Young winner we picked him to be and grab rubber against Tampa?

  • CAN the Blue Jays maintain their tenuous grasp on first place against the recently unhittable Kevin Millwood and the Rangers.

  • ANY of my local peeps have an in at the IFF Boston? I reeeeeaaaallly wanna see the Luis Tiant movie Saturday night. Hook a blogger up, please.

That's almost it for today pals, but I do wanna say one more thing. Rarely do we get too personal on this site, but I'm gonna lift the veil a little bit and tell you about the medical plight of my good friend Sara Phillips. She's suffered from ulcerative colitis for her whole life and during Law School finals over this past winter at Michigan State was studying so intensely and stressfully that she was unable to monitor a flare up of her condition. Her immune system dropped to such a dangerously low level that an infection spread in her leg so rapidly that it had to be amputated.

Sara is a funny, smart and warm person that is always great to be around. And she loves Bob Dylan. My kinda girl. She had/has student health insurance through Michigan State, but that money was more or less gone the night her leg was amputated. All treatment and medication is now paid for out of pocket and she faces several more surgeries. Her parents have left their lives and jobs in Florida to move to Michigan and help Sara through this huge change in her life. They have used all of their savings paying a mortgage in Florida, rent in Michigan, and the medical bills that will not stop coming in anytime soon. Needless to say, they need help.

Her friends have set up a website where you can read more about her story, and if you have it, donate a couple of bucks to help her family pay for her continued treatment. She's a damn cool kid and her courage thus far has been inspriring. I'm not sure what else to say.

We'll see you all back here tomorrow for Friday Fun. It's gonna be wicked nice out but we'll still slave over a hot laptop for ya. Maybe there's WiFi in the park. Same WoW channel.

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Well, well, well! Since things went so well the last time I liveglogged a game, I figured I'd entertain the troops (e.g., bored office workers) with another liveblog today. The Phillies are mashing the ball this year, but the pitching isn't quite as hot. Brett Myers leads the team with an ERA of 5.04 and the Phils are only 6-7.

The Fightin' Phils go up against the Brewers today, with Cole Hamels taking on Dave Bush (a Philly-area local!). I'll be guiding you through this game until I fall asleep from all the Robitussin I've taken for my cold. It starts at 1:05 p.m.!

12:25: Did youse all read that New Yorker article about Adderall, Provigil, etc.? It was okay, I guess. I just read it now. Yeah, I'm just waiting for the game to start. COSTE RULES!

12:28: What's really awesome is that New Yorker article mentioned Piracetam and fish oil. If it had mentioned DMAE, and it would have given me the win on my Supplements That Get Hyped By Twenty Year Olds On The Internet bingo card.

12:34: Before the Phillies game, Comcast SportsNet has decided to show a half-hour pregame show! Ha ha, just kidding, it's actually an infomercial for something called 10 Minute Trainer. I was kind of hoping for the Shark Steam Mop, but this will do.

12:35: You now have to head after the jump to read my ramblings. COSTE RULES!

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

  • Joe Posnanski does the hard work and figures out the offensive results after each count in at-bats, then evaluates them. One out of every 8 at-bats goes to a full count, or one out of every 2 when Steve Trachsel is pitching. JoeBlog.

  • Oh my goodness my favorite non-Yankee player has is contributing to the Bats Blog at the Grey Lady! Fernando Perez has a hurt wrist and a degree from Columbia University in creative writing. He's probably out for the whole year which leaves a ton of time to become the next Tyler Kepner. Bats.

  • An entire blog devoted to fake customer complaints that have been submitted to real live companies and most likely ignored? Okay, sounds good! Here's a Pittsburgh Pirates themed one. The Customer is Always Right.

  • Evan Grant is bored while the Rangers and Blue Jays tussle at the RogersCentreSkyNetDome so he comes up with a cheery Earth Day-themed listicle. Play along and come up with your own environmentally-themed baseball names, like former White Sox outfielder Fred Globalwarmings. Inside Corner.

  • Curtis Granderson blogs about food and attempts to become the next Andre Ethier, except without the presumption that he has such discerning taste. Big League Stew: The Grandstand.

  • Our pal D-Mac is going to liveglog today's 1PM Phillies-Brewers tilt for us. He also submits a link to his new favorite show. Larry Holmes and Marmalade.
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The MLB Network is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale television sports universe. For those of you who actually get the channel and have watched it at length on an evening when your favorite team is off, you know what I mean. From 6PM to midnight, the good folks in Secaucus, New Jersey show us live look-ins, highlights, and full recaps in their MLB Tonight studio show. It is pretty much ego-free and none of the hosts puff out their feathers with wacky producer-fed theories simply to generate contention in the studio. The hosts are capable, the highlights are well-produced, and the segues have been seamless.

It's not hard to succeed with a news-y show when the content provided is so outrageously good, but I salute the network for not completely screwing up such a great opportunity to bring six hours of pure baseball to American (sorry, Canada) households.

But for those of us old enough to remember watching SportsCenter in the early 90s, we know that sometimes egos get inflated and feelings get hurt and new people show up to screw up good things. When will our honeymoon period with the MLB Network end? And if it does end, how will it all go down? Perhaps my worst nightmare will come true and each of the new on-air talent team will devolve into an ESPN anchor, hastening my inevitable displeasure with the net.

So I ask, if an MLB Network host falters and gets worse, which ESPN personality will they become? And I answer in listicle form:

vasgersian.jpgMatt Vasgersian: He's the one most likely to put on an extra 125 pounds of weight, start revealing his passion for adult-oriented rock from the 1970s and 80s, become an unapologetic drunk and chauvinistic manslut, and become a new Chris Berman. The other sad possibility is, thanks to Vasgersian's past stint as host of the Battlebots show on Comedy Central, he becomes a latter-day baseball version of Sean Salisbury.


barrylarkin.jpgBarry Larkin: He's a former Reds middle infielder who had a stellar glove and hit well, he was very successful stealing bases and even won a World Series with the Reds. In his post-baseball life he has coached a bit but found his comfort zone on television. The comparisons with Joe Morgan are uncanny. I fully expect that once Larkin tires of demonstrating good fielding stances on the faux infield of Studio 42, he'll demand to become the color commentator for the MLB Network weekly game and espouse the theory that computers are ruining the game.

plesac.jpgDan Plesac:When I heard that Dan Plesac was hired by the MLB Network, I tried to remember anything he ever did besides play for the 80s Brewers. I thought he dropped out of the game in 1991 and retreated to a solitary life of recluse somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains. Untrue! He played until 2003 and then did some broadcast work for the Cubs. Now, he's showing off his smart personality in the MLB Network studio and is unafraid to poke fun at himself, like the time he recalled giving up a tater tot to Cecil Fielder that completely left County Stadium. Unfortunately, another MLB TV personality who was unafraid to poke fun at himself was Rob Dibble, who somehow combined self-deprecation with utter stupidity.

mitchwilliams.jpgMitch Williams: He's a former Phillie, he's outspoken, he's got a body type that lends itself to corpulence if workouts are ignored, and he might be slightly insane when dealing with authority figures from the opposite gender. This smells just like what John Kruk has cooking over at Baseball Tonight on ESPN. Mitch, if you want to avoid your alternative Krukian future, don't make your opinions reflect an exact duplicate to the little tinny voice in your ear.


haroldreynolds.jpgHarold Reynolds: If we, as viewers, are lucky, Harold Reynolds will always be Harold Reynolds, the sweet, folksy, somewhat oblivious commentator we've always known and loved throughout his ESPN career, his sad forced departure from the network, and his phoenix-like rise from the ashes of sexual harassment at the new MLB Network. Welcome back, Harold Reynolds! We missed you! Don't ever change! Or invite me to Boston Market!

So what about Al Leiter, Trenni Kusnierek, Hazel Mae, and dumb Sean Casey? What is the worst possible outcome for the rest of the MLB Network personalities?

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you were swimmin' in wimmin:

Royals 2, Indians 0: Joakim Soria finally got into a game and filled everyone with nervous laughter, giving up a walk and a single with a 2-run ninth inning lead. Fella even let the runners advance on a passed ball, but struck out Trevor Crowe on a nasty curve for the win. Brian Bannister made Joe Posnanski's heart go all a-twitter with six innings of shutout ball in which he struck out just one Indians batter. That's SO brainy of you, Brian!

Braves 1, Nationals 0: Jair Jurrjens gave everybody a Dutch treat (except Manny Acta) in his nearly eight innings of fooling Nats hitters, but the real hero of the game was Chipper Jones, for providing veteran leadership. And making a game-saving play at third base during the seventh, that helped too. Kelly Johnson plated the winning run on a bases loaded walk at the expense of Washington reliever Garrett Mock. Pardon my mock surprise that this chucklehead provided no relief. I just zinged you, professional athlete!

Giants 1, Padres 0 (10): Barry Zito severed his 10.00 ERA nearly in half with his seven scoreless innings of work, but got no run support thanks to the workmanlike effort from rival starter Chris Young. Either these two pitchers were on their game or the two lineups were spending too much time cleaning lint out of their bellybuttons. I'm not sure. Either way, WoW favorite Bengie Molina provided the pinch-hit walkoff double to move the Giants to a sweep over the Pods.

Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 0: And Dan Haren finally gets the run support he needs, any run support at all, in fact just the second and third runs the Diamondbacks have scored in support of Danny, making his fourth start on the year. Fella lowered his ERA to 1.38 and notched his first win. After the game, he tapped into a cactus and drank its sweet nectar before realizing that wasn't a cactus but a cleverly painted fire hydrant.

Red Sox 7, Twins 3: The Red Sox Earth Day uniforms were made out of recycled toilet paper and their green hats made them look downright silly.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, eat your vegetation.

    WILL the Nationals turn the screws on the Braves and pick up their first sweep of the season? Jair Jurrjens will throw every J he can scrounge up to prevent such a thing.

    CAN you stomach the idea of a Mets/Cards game on ESPN, probably featuring the dull-cet tones of Steve Phillips in the broadcast booth? Joel Piñeiro and John Maine will do their best to entertain you.

    IS the Seattle resurgence the real deal? Find out when they try to take down the AL Champ again tonight behind the jolly visage of youngster Chris Jakubauskas. Say that five times fast, and then punch yourself.

    WANT a delicious burger/chicken/sausage? Me too.

That's all for now, WoWicans. Tune in tomorrow, same WoW channel, for a special liveglog. We promise?

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Good Wednesday afternoon, livegloggers! Put away your blazers (but not for too long because we should be having an official liveglog tomorrow) and get out your fancy but modest liveglog commemorative brooch. Go ahead and pin it to your lapel. You are wearing a lapel, yes? If not, then go ahead and pin it to your nipple. Same difference.

Today's games are split into two categories, early and late. The early games are Minnesota @ Boston, Florida @ Pittsburgh, and Oakland @ New York. The late games are Colorado @ Arizona and San Diego @ San Francisco. I will do my best to provide you with a little taste of each game's dish, sort of a smorgasbord of sport, a buffet of baseball, a tasting menu of tater tots.

Here's what we missed in the early games so far:

  • Kurt Suzuki pow-pow-powers up with a three run happy jack, putting the A's up early over CC Sabathia and the Yankees. That's just the fourth homer on the year for Oakland, still lagging behind Aaron Hill on the year. Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera's back-to-back solo tots keeps the score tempered at 3-2 in the third.

  • Paul Maholm was pitching three innings of perfect ball over the Marlins before Emilio Bonifacio borkened it up with a single. Wes Helms later doubled in Hanley Ramirez and Ricky Nolasco picked up an RBI but the Pirates still lead 3-2 in the fifth.

  • Boston took a quick 6-1 lead behind two-run ding-dongs from Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell and Nick Green. Just kick the extra point, Red Sox, and Twins starter Scott Baker will really be the Touchdown Maker. The Twins scored because Justin Morneau once again came up with the bases loaded. Lucky punk. This one's in the fifth.

Enough chitter-chat, on with the whiparound liveglog!

2:00PM: Giambi led off the third with a double that bounced in and out of Damon's glove, Holliday lined a single off Cody Ransom's glove, and Jack Cust grounded one back to Sabathia that would easily have been turned for a double play. But Sabathia whipped around, threw to Jeter covering at second, and then Jeter came home to nail Giambi but Jorge Posada was up the baseline covering at first. Giambi scores and the A's are up 4-2.

2:05PM: Adam LaRoche is chilling on second base with a two-out double. The Marlins will now intentionally walk Brandon Moss to get to Andy LaRoche, who was struck out earlier by Nolasco. This is how I know you suck, Andy. Someone just walked Brandon freaking Moss to get to you.

2:10PM: Andy LaRoche makes us all pay, as his double down the third base line drives in Brother Adam. Pirates up 4-2. Yankees have runners on second and third after a Teixeira single and a Posada double.

2:15PM: Robbie Cano dribbles a grounder to second, Mark Ellis fields and just nails Cano at first. Texieira scores and the A's lead is now 4-3. A's bring the infield in with Swisher at the disher. Swish rips a gapper but gets nailed stretching a single into a double. Still, Posada scores and the game is now knotted at 4. I hate it when players make outs on the basepaths. It's like giving away your delicious cupcakes for free and not enjoying their sweet goodness all to yourself. Matsui grounds out to end the inning.

2:20PM: The Marlins are rallying, folks. Hermida walked and Hanley Ramirez laced a single to left. Runners on first and second with none down. Seems as if Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu is out of the lineup today with an ouchie on his hand. Shoulda worked it out in the pool, Jorge! Wes Helms sac-flies Hermida over to third. The Florida announcer drops this gem regarding the Marlins second baseman: "Dan Uggla sprayed balls all over Dolphin Stadium...balls to the wall...." I hope he cleaned up afterwards. Either way, Uggla struck out on a check swing.

2:25PM: Sparse attendance at PNC Park today but blame it mostly on the poor weather, tough economy, and general disinterest in baseball in Pittsburgh before you even think of blaming it on Nate McLouth's body odor problem! Ronnie Paulino drives in a run with a single and Cody Ross follows with an RBI double to tie this one up at 4 runs apiece.

2:30PM: Now the Marlins TV guys are joking around about the Primanti Bros sandwich and they put up a cross-section of the sandwich on the screen. I love all kinds of sandwiches and all sorts of local cuisine but that thing is absolutely disgusting. It tastes like a shitty meatloaf sandwich with soggy fries. It's institutional cuisine. I've eaten better food in kindergarten cafeterias. Recently. Delwyn Young pinch hits for Paul Maholm and picks up a speedy double. Nyjer Morgan drives him in and it's 5-4 Pittsburgh.

2:32PM: Nyjer Morgan advances to second on a poor throw in on his RBI single, steals third and scores on a bad throw by Ronnie Paulino. 6-4 Pirates because Morgan is scrappy. Out in New York, Derek Jeter bombed a solo tater tot to center and the Yanks are up 5-4.

2:35PM: The Sox are rallying in the bottom of the seventh. Two runners on and nobody out after Papi doubled and Youk walked. The Twins are on their third pitcher du jour, some fella named Juan Morillo. I prefer the third soup du jour, the parmesan tomato bisque. FSU alum JD Drew walks to bloat the bases.

2:40PM: Jason Bay works a 3-0 count with his steely patience and then earns hisself an RBI with a bases-loaded walk, Morillo's third straight. Ron Gardenhire hastens down the wind and calls for reliever R.A. Dickey to stem the tide. Boston leads 7-1. There's your extry point, Baker.

2:45PM: Mouthpiece Sports has video of the kitty cat scampering around Wrigley Field from last night's Cubs win. I bet half a million Chicagoans are wringing their hands over superstitious mumbo-jumbo right now, but hey, the Mets had a cat run around and nothing bad has happened to them ever, right? Seventh inning stretch time in Pittsburgh, Pirates still up by deux. Mike Lowell faces Dickey with the bases still loaded...and he laces a single to left. 8-1 Sox and the bases are now reloaded. George Kotteras sac fly, 9-1 Sox.

2:50PM: Adam LaRoche collects another double on a mistake by centerfielder Cameron Maybin. His mistake? Not being awesome enough to reach out, open his glove, and catch a fly ball over his head near the warning track. Carlos Beltran laughs in your general direction, son. Let's head back to Boston where it's 10-1 Red Sox on a Nick Green grounds rule dubble and oops...rain delay? Who saw this coming?

2:55PM: Andy LaRoche is your batter with his blood on second and one down against the new reliever Kiki Calero. Andy flies out to right and moves his brotha over to third base with two outs. Back in NYC, Mark Ellis drives in Jack Cust with a hard-hit single to centerfield. Melky Cabrera's throw is off the mark, Cust scores, and Ellis scoots down to second. 5-5 tie in the Bronx. Back in Pittsburgh, Jack Wilson drives in Adam LaRoche and the Pirates take a 7-4 lead.

3:00PM: Calero retires the Pirates in the seventh and we're headed to the eighth inning. In New York, the A's are calling on their bullpen to relieve 21-year-old Brett Anderson who pitched serviceably today, allowing 5 runs in 5 and 1/3 innings. In Boston, the rain is still coming down, probably right on Liakos' head as he waits outside the TD Banknorth Garden for his GA wristband for the Bruce Springsteen concert tonight. Remember before the Internet existed, when you had to wait on a queue just to buy a concert ticket? John Grabow is the new Pirate pitcher.

3:05PM: Mike Wuertz is the new A's reliever. Melky Cabrera walks but is then gunned down by Kurt Suzuki trying to steal second. Ransom doubles and John Sterling wonders, "what if?" Here's Derek Jeter...he lines a gapper to left, drives in Ransom and slides in safely under the tag at second. That's how you do it, Swisher. Yanks lead 6-5. Back in Pitt, Grabow gives up an infield single to Hanley Ramirez, there are two outs.

3:10PM: Damon picks up a swinging-bunt single as the ball nubs down the baseline and stays fair. A tidy two-out rally for the Pinstriped People. Teixieira lines an RBI single that drives in Jeter and the Yanks take a 7-5 lead. Back at Three Rivers, Grabow strikes out Helms, Uggla, and Paulino to maintain the sweet three-run lead for the Buccos. Ladies and gentlemen, the Pirates pitchers are your delightful surprise of the year. Best starters ERA in the majors and Marlin-puncher John Grabow. Can't beat that combo.

3:15PM: Hayden Penn is the new Marlins pitcher. After striking out Craig Monroe, he walks Nyjer Morgan. In the Bronx, Sabathia starts out the seventh inning with 100 pitches already under his size 58 belt. Bobby Crosby leads off with a single and Sabathia follows that up with a walk. Orlando Cabrera sac bunts the runners over and Girardi gets the kids working in the bullpen.

3:20PM: Giambi grounds out, breaking his bat in the process, and a shard comes up the mound and gets caught in Sabathia's gravitational pull. A run scores on the groundout; then Jack Cust Matt Holliday lines a single ove CC's head and the A's tie the game 7-7. Sabathia's day is done.

3:25PM: The Marlins TV folk just put up a friendly infographic about the Pirates, since every baseball 'fan' in Florida is just a dolt. The number one item on the listicle is "The Curse of Francisco Cabrera". Yes, because that is exactly why the Pirates have 17 straight losing seasons. One little Latino. Phil Coke comes on in relief of Sabathia and finally gets that third out of the seventh. Stretch in the Bronx! CC's final line: 6.2 IP, 6 hits, 4 BB, 2 K, 6 ER. Ouch.

3:30PM: Matt Capps comes on to close out the Marlins on this cloudy and cool day in Pittsburgh. Fella only had 26 opportunities to notch a save for the horrid Pirates last year, but did fairly well for himself. This is already his fifth opportunity of 2009, putting him on pace to double his chances, double his fun. Cody Ross leads off the inning with a single. The Marlins will need a bit more though, still down three runs. Cameron Maybin strikes out on a check swing; Capps needed just three breaking balls to put down the young leadoff hitter.

3:35PM: Ross G. Load is the Marlins pinch hitter for pitcher Hayden Penn. Capps gets ahead of Gload 0-2 before retiring the pinchie on a lazy fly ball to center. Emilio Bonifacio, you are the Marlins fans final hope. Hey, a Pirates fan has used good forward thinking and brought his broom to the park! Good thing, because Bonifacio just flew out to end the game and the fish have been reduced to a pile of ashes. Pirates win 7-4.

3:36PM: Back to the Bronx where the Yankees are threatening Russ Springer. Not with violence, that's not the Yankee way. No, they'd rather rally off the reliever and shame him with some of that psychological abuse that will cost thousands of dollars in therapy to fix in the future. Cano singled, Swisher walked, and Matsui popped one to right that dropped between Mark Ellis and Jack Cust. Base loaded, none down.

3:40PM: Melky Cabrera falls behind 0-2 and strikes out. That was ineffective, at best. Cody Ransom meanders back to the dugout from the on-deck circle in favor of pinch-hitter Brett Gardner. That's how you know the Yanks have a crappy bench now with Nady and A-Rod out. Brett Gardner is your go-to pinch hitter. The Yanks will look to avoid the double play, though, and Gardner is faster than Marion Jones on stanzolol and 5-hour Energy Drank.

3:41PM: Well, at least he didn't ground into a double play. But Gardner did pop out in the infield. Now two down with the bases still loaded.

3:45PM: Springer falls behind 2-0 to Jeter but Jeter pops out to end the inning. Poop. They're underway in Arizona where Ryan Spilborghs is on second after a single off Dan Haren and a groundout by Jeff Baker the Groundout Maker.

3:50PM: Helton grounds out to first and Spilborghs scampers down to third. Haren escapes unscathed by getting Garrett Atkins to line out to second. We are also underway in San Francisco...hey! It's Jon Miller! Also, Barry Zito on the mound, which should provide us with some laffs. Number 75 gets Scott Hairston and David Eckstein to ground out, and a miserably hitting Brian Giles to fly out for an easy 1-2-3 inning.

3:55PM: Jonathan Albaladejo is the new Yankee reliever. Kurt Suzuki singles, Mark Ellis sac-bunts him to second, and someone named Landon Powell grounds out, advancing Suzuki to third. Bobby Crosby strikes out swinging, and the game moves to the bottom of the eighth, still tied at 7.

4:00PM: Andrew Bailey is the new A's reliever. Normally, this would be a good place for "Waking" Joey Devine, but that dude's year is done because of Tommy John Surgery. Johnny Damon leads off with a walk, then Mark Teixeira pops out to shallow left. One down.

4:05PM: The A's and Yankees both have seven runs in this game, but the A's did in on just 7 hits, against the Yanks' 15 hits. The A's have 5 LOB while the Yankees have nine...so far. Posada flies out. Two down. Cano grounds out. Onto the ninth. Still raining in Boston.

4:10PM: Mariano comes in to start the ninth in a tie game, the exact situation he blew a bunch of times last year.

4:15PM: Orlando Cabrera picks up a one-out single. The Westerly games are both scoreless ties in early action. The game in Boston has just been called a final to give the teams some time to get ready for the nightcap, Boston wins 10-1. Mercy is merciful.

4:17PM: Rivera gets Giambi and Holliday on groundouts; the game is headed for the bottom of the ninth.

4:20PM: A's closer Brad Ziegler will face Swisher, Matsui, and Cabrera in the bottom of the ninth. I'm sure the jamooks in right field are falling all over themselves imagining a walkoff home run from their hero, the bedraggled Nick Swisher. Get over it, jamooks. It's not gonna happen.

4:21PM: Swisher does draw the walk though.

4:22PM: And Matsui erases him with a GIDP. Giddyup! Not.

4:23PM: Melky strikes out and this game is headed for extra innings.

4:27PM: This liveglog is over. Thanks for joining me today.

Yellow Beak: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Twins at Red Sox: Rain makeup from last night means that Tim Wakefield and Scott Baker the Touchdown Maker get to face off in the day part of a day-night doubleheader. Why a day-night doubleheader? Because these two games are the only time Minnesoter is scheduled to play in Fenway all season, which spells bad news for Olaf Anderssen out in Saugus.

  • 12:35, Marlins at Pirates: Ricky "The Neighborhood" Nolasco and the Marlins take on the unhittable Paul Maholm and the Screw You, We're Over .500 Pirates. I haven't been this excited for a matchup of Pirate and Fish since Captain Hook had sex with that Alligator. While Smee videotaped it.

  • 1:05, A's at Yankees: Oh yeah, afternoon ball at The House That Mark DeRosa Built. CC goes for the Yankees. Is he related to CeCe Peniston? How the hell did she never change her name for show business? Brett Anderson for the A's.

  • 2:00, Walkoff Walk Whiparound Liveglog Coverage: Rob will attempt to cover the end of the early games and the start of the late afternoon games, which could easily end in disaster.

  • 3:40, Rox at Snakes: Dan Haren a man who is single handedly out to prove that W-L need to be entirely struck from teh record books, goes for the homies and Jorge De La Rosa (Spanish for Jorge Of La Rosa) goes for the Roxtapril Roxkateers of Roxville. Rox. This game seems like there should be pico de gallo on it.

  • 3:45, Padres at Giants: Young Barry Zito now has an ERA of 10.00 and the Giants are already sinking. Ouch. The Bros have won 3 of their last 4 coming into this series to stay tight with the Trolley Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez is good, y'all.

The Manny Pacquiao Bobblehead Wants 55% Of Your Peanuts

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That there, kids, is a genuiiiine Manny Pacquiao bobblehead given out at last night's Dads/Giants game. Pacquiao also threw out the first pitch, ostensibly for the Giants' annual "Filipino Heritage Night," but it doesn't hurt that (now that it's actually happening) his upcoming fight with Ricky Hatton is one of the year's most highly anticipated bouts. I mean, it's not like Tedy Bruschi or the members of Hotdog were busy. Cross promotion is all the commotion.

HBO is pimping the fight with their always entertaining 24/7 series. My prediction for the fight? Hatton over Pacquiao in 5, then Pacquiao becomes the cleanup hitter for the Giants, with his bobblehead hitting sixth.

(Thanks commenter extraordianire Phillas for the pic. That's his bobble, y'all.)

Why Does Everyone Care So Much About The Moneyball Movie?

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Yesterdays news that Demetri Martin is playing Paul DePodesta in the film was treated as one's of the day's biggest stories. It's a Soderbergh movie, it's got Pitt in it*. It oughta be ok. I'm tired of hearing about it everyday, but I think I understand why I have to.

Moneyball showed your dad that RBIs were subjective and that AVG was highly fallible. It turned Joe Morgan into sports blogging's equivalent of the Star Wars Kid. Mainstream recognition of the novel in 2003 validated to a larger audience the already great work being done by any number of highly talented bloggers. It was integral in getting our section of the internet out there and opening up opportunites for our best writers. But it's that connection that the book has to the internet that makes the goddamned casting updates constant RSS fodder for hemming, hawing and assorted other rending of garments.

Perhaps the weight of expectation on this movie is that it will somehow keep advanced statistics out of, or forever welcome them into, the public consciousness based on its quality. But outside of whatever people call the fictional country us sports blog denizens inhabit these days, Moneyball will be discussed like every other film adaptation ever made. Critics will like it because of Soderbergh and Pitt. People that just read the book because they're sports fans will probably think it's ok, but not as good as the book. But around the online sports cabal it's going to be dissected like a fetal pig in biology course just in case it says it says something larger about our place in culture. Which it won't. I think I'll get a waiver and sit that one out.

*I'm Clooney

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank :

Yankees 5, Athletics 3: The Yankees and A's combined for only one home run but it came off the bat of Johnny Damon in my general direction and I panicked. My job was to box out the jamook sitting to my right so my dad could reach up with his glove and snag the towering tater tot. So I set my position, but no jamook! He was two seats over and hadn't realized the ball was coming our way until the last second. By that point, he had figured out what was going on, barreled over me, and put his hand over my dad's glove at the last second, just in time to knock the ball down to the field level seats. Oh, and the Yanks won.

Indians 8, Royals 7: Cleveland tried, tried, tried to give this one away but the Royals just weren't biting. After building a 1-6 deficit, the fighting Kaycees nipped and nipped some more, but still managed to ground into six double plays in six straight innings. They made a winner out of Aaron Laffey and a saver out of Kerry Wood. Victor Martinez' two run ding-dong in the eighth proved to be the margin, y'all.

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 4: Roy Halladay was vulnerable and ineffective last night, like a thirteen-year-old boy who just confessed his undying love for his sexy and smart 32-year-old science teacher. Doc gave up two-run homers to Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz and could only count on a matching homer from Aaron Hill. WHERE WERE YOU, SCUTARO? Halladay has his first bad outing on the year while Rangers moundman Brandon McCarthy has his third serviceable start in a row, moving to 2-0 on the year. Run support is good.

Phillies 11, Brewers 4: Although technically, the score of the game was Phillies 11, Ryan Braun 4. Fella clobbered two tater tots among his career-high five hits and his four RBI, but his buddy and our pal Manny Parra got stinkerooed for the third straight time, letting in five runs in four innings. Pedro Feliz rewarded me for starting him over Chipper Jones on my fantasy team by homering.

Cardinals 6, Mets 4: Maybe Gary Sheffield should be playing left field for the Mets. He couldn't have botched that Rick Ankiel game-winning double any worse than Daniel Murphy did in the eighth inning, diving for a ball that just didn't want to GET IN THAT GLOVE. The Cards came back from 4-0 down to win this one, thanks to a fifth inning meltdown from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Oliver Perez. Jason Motte got his first win and Ryan Franklin his first record-setting 8225th save on the year.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, two trains leave Courthouse Square at 5:40 PM.

Class dismissed. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

(Rob's note: I'm going back to New Yankee Stadium tonight, wish me luck, and listen to my appearance on Dan Levy's On the DL Podcast)

(Flickr user heidigoseek provided the decor)

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

  • GC rips Billy Crystal's shitty writing wide open and lays it out for all to see. Not only did Billy rip somebody off with his NY Times editorial, he ripped off Tom friggin Verducci. Double groan. Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Rich Lederer shares the story of how he ruined his Ted Williams/Mickey Mantle autographed baseball by getting a somewhat lesser name to sign the back of the ball. No, it wasn't Bob Apodaca, but close. Baseball Analysts.

  • Shawn Hoffman wisely advises us to ignore the bad attendance numbers reported by the AP because they're comparing two weeks in 2009 to the entire 2008 season. That's like comparing apples and plantains! Besides, even the shitty Brewers are selling tix like hotcakes. Squawking Baseball.

  • Saul Hansell argues that costs for broadband providers are actually going down, not up, and that their plans to charge a quota by the megabyte simply bites. Tell your friends and family, please, that metering bandwidth is not the same as metering electricity. New York Times.
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Our friend John Branch from the New York Times' Bats, sheds some new light on a story that I've read about so many damned times, it's unbelivable to me that people still write about it. The Times did yet another piece on baseball's army of authenticators that install secret holograms on milestone balls and bats and basically put any fan that catches one in a chokehold then secrets them off to some subterranean memoribilia chamber. It's all stuff you've read about but Branch airs more of baseball's dirty laundry. Apparently baseball players are really attached to their pants.

At the Yankee Stadium opener last Thursday, authenticators collected the jerseys worn by the Yankees players. The team also wanted the pants to be authenticated, but players need to continue wearing them each day. (Apparently, it is fine to swap out jerseys on a daily basis, but don't mess with a player's pants.) So authenticators, using invisible ink and other marking techniques that they did not want to discuss, marked each player's pants. Some time, perhaps at the end of the season, the pants will be collected (for sale or auction), and officials will be able to ascertain that they were worn in the season opener.

Spectacular! You think you have what it takes to draw all over Nick Swishers trousers with a blacklight pen? I bet during the final examination at season's end those things are going to look like a crime scene. David Caruso is going to have to be called in to determine whether or not these were the pants Swisher wore on opening day or the ones he used to commit a string of hobo sex attacks.

Why is this news? Because it has the words "pants" in it. And that's always funny.

The Lesson As Always: The Red Sox Get Whatever They Want

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Yesterday, Rob excorciated some aspects of the exalted new Yankee Stadium, and frankly it was one of my favorite pieces he's written for this dadgum site. His comments about about unwavering devotion to a team clouding common sense or even one's appreciation for the actual game of baseball is something he and I have discussed. As you may have noticed, I'm a Red Sox fan. My peers aren't exactly a dispassionate bunch. They refer to themselves as a Nation, have a President and to that end I'm sure the rest of baseball wouldn't really object if they seceded.

Like any insanely one-sided relationship, Red Sox fans can see no wrong in the actions of their club. They love them unconditionally even when they're fleecing the very people that have helped to support them. As RSN has become a huge cottage industry, a financially struggling press even has to be called into question when reporting on the team. After all, this abomination is actually affilliated with The Boston Globe.

All this is to shed some light on a story about the Red Sox that continued last night, but is so under the radar here in Boston as to practically not exist. It's relationship to the city is small, but what it says about the organization's priorities should be important to its fans.

In a nutshell, the Red Sox have been grumbling for years about their Spring Training facility in Ft. Myers, City of Palms Park. The stadium, while not new, is still one of the best looking and well appropriated of any in Florida. It's amenities were good from every angle I saw, and that wasn't the Red Sox gripe. The major "problem" for the team was that it was a so called single site facility, without the back fields for minor league squads that most of the other parks in Florida have. The Red Sox minor league facilities are a couple of miles down the road. To remedy this inconvienience the Red Sox held the city of Ft. Myers ransom for a brand new stadium, and got their way.

Beginning last summer, the team found leverage in the city of Sarasota. Once the Reds announced plans to leave, Sarasota was staring at a 2010 Spring without a team and heavily courted the Sox. Ft. Myers, a city with the highest per capita foreclosure rate in the country and an unemployment rate 3 pts higher than the already high state average couldn't afford to lose the tourism revenue that comes with Spring. A couple of business owners I talked to in Winter Haven, former home of the Indians, estimated they could lose as much as 15-20% of their annual business by not having Spring Training this year. Surely Ft. Myers could have also used the $100 million in initial investment for this project, but were stuck between the Sox and a hard place.

Opposition is now moot. Public hearings on site selection started last night. After successfully quashing debate about what former Ft. Myers mayor Wilbur Smith called the most one-sided deal I've ever seen, dissent can now only be excercised about where to put this thing.

All around the state, abandoned Spring Training sites are scrambling to make up lost revenue, though minor league deals can't come close to replicating the cash generated by big clubs and their snowbird fans. And Sox brass will talk about the new stadium construction creating jobs in an underemployed area but well, we've already been over that. It's all nonsense. What the Red Sox did in Ft. Myers was nothing short of a stickup job, and they got away scot free.

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The Oakland Athletics have scored an American League low 47 runs through their first four twelve games. True, it's the bottom of the barrel in the AL but at almost 4 runs per game, it's not historically bad nor is the low total a reason to panic. After all, the pitching staff has let in only 50 runs so far, just about average in a league featuring the DH. With those run differentials, cruising to an AL West-leading 82-80 record is well within reach.

But these A's have combined for just three home runs so far, two of them by Three True Outcomes poster boy Jack Cust and one by the artist formerly known as Nomar. This power outage is shocking, considering the big three offensive stars brought in to tune up last year's weak-hitting linuep: Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera have combined for zero tater tots so far.

How bad is it for the A's? Well, two light-hitting Blue Jays infielders, Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro, have four home runs each. Yes, middle infielders for a worsening offense are out-donging the entire A's team. Scutaro is that 33-year-old utilityman who's never hit more than nine homers in a season and possesses a middling .382 slugging percentage for his career. He played for his native Venezuela in the recent WBC, where he probably learned some homer-hitting hints from teammate Miguel Cabrera. (READ: HE LEARNT HOW TO USE SPECIAL VENEZUELAN STEROIDS MYSTICISM)

But anyway, the A's can improve their tater tot totals tonight when they visit Yankee Stadium, where El Nino or something is causing more balls to fly out of the park. Can someone get Willard Scott to interpret that for me?

By the by, this piece was actually written before last night's Furious Five podcast in which Drew brought up the exact concept of Scutaro out-homering the entire A's team. Great minds, they say...

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Worry not, teams with ridiculously shallow starting pitching depth. Former Montreal Expo star hurler Hideki Irabu has dropped the sake gut and gotten his 90 MPH speedball back, so he's planning his big league comeback. Well, more like an independent league comeback, which is how all washed-up former stars get a little slice of the spotlight back for a few weeks. Patrick at NPB Tracker follows the Japanese news wire and translates it for us because our grasp of the Asian languages is limited to 1980s Styx videos:

That he's aiming for a comeback is true. Because he's gotten back into shape, he came to want play again. He's playing with a cheerful demeanor. He wants to get tryouts and find a club he can play for. He's looking to make a comeback in the independent leagues during the season. Looking to the future, the thinking is that if possible he wants to return to a high level, like MLB or NPB.

Here's a picture of a slimmed-down Irabu working out. The last time Hideki was in the news, he was arrested on suspected assault of a bar manager, upset that his Centurion Card was not accepted. Irabu had consumed 20 jugs of beer to that point, which blows my mind in so many ways I cannot even begin to rationalize that. Last night I drank just one beer and felt light-headed.

Funny to think that when Irabu famously flopped for the Yankees back in the late nineties, his contract was just a mere $12 million over four years. That's barely Farnsworthian in today's numbers. But the Yanks got the last laugh when they sent him to Montreal in exchange for Ted Lilly, Christian Parker, and WoW favorite Jake Westbrook, still one of the most ridiculously unbalanced trade in recent memory.

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when I said I'd leave you:

Pirates 8, Marlins 0: Ross Ohlendorf threw a wet blanket right on top of the Marlins hot start. When he pulled it off, Hanley Ramirez was cold and scared and Ohlendorf notched his first win on the year. He and two relievers allowed but two hits to an otherwise hot-hitting team while Marlins starter Andrew Miller got knocked around like a skinny kid in a mosh pit, allowing four runs in four innings. The Barry Bonds-led 2003 Giants remain the most recent team to start the season 12-1. Must have been the hilarious oversized helmet.

Red Sox 11, Orioles 1: Lots of good news for the Red Sox faithful on Patriots Day, save for the latest carillon call from creampuff land. Shortstop Jed Lowrie will miss 6-8 weeks after surgery to fix an ouchie on his wrist. But no matter, yesterday morning was a day for all kinds of folks to wander the streets of Boston celebrating...ummm...patriotism, I suppose. And Kevin Youkilis. That guy's good.

Nationals 3, Braves 2: The Nats won a game in such a wonderful fashion it caused AP beat writer Howard Fendrich to break out a listicle! He delineated the best aspects of the game, including rookie Jordan Zimmermann's tight six-inning debut win, the bullpen's three hitless innings, and closer Joel Hanrahan's first bullpen. Good for them. Also, the Reds beat the Astros and the Rockies beat the Diamondbacks. BOOM! I recapped every game.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, anyone want to co-host the podcast tonight?


That's all for today, but tune in tonight for our Furious Five radio show at 10PM EDT. It's our fourth episode which totally means that we're pushing this mother to 30 minutes. If you can't catch it live, it'll be available in the archive for generations to come. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel, same WoW attitude.

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Besides the poor sight lines and the poorer team playing within, one of the chief complaints about new Citi Field is the lack of Mets team history surrounding the building. Owner Fred Wilpon just basically built himself a replica of his childhood favorite Ebbets Field and topped it off with a plaza honoring Dodger great Jackie Robinson. But where's the Metsmorabilia? Where are the gigantic portraits of Bob Apodaca and Todd Hundley? And why is the outfield wall black instead of blue? Was that part of the deal with Gary Sheffield?

Hey Fred, this shit might work in Brooklyn but it don't fly in Queens. Out in Queens, folks get crazy and start writing on the walls of your fancy stadium clubs:

Someone thought it would be a nice idea if one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history signed a blank gray wall next to the bar. Gooden obliged, taking a black Sharpie and writing in script "Doc Gooden 84 R.O.Y., 85 Cy Young, 86 W.S. Champs."

Gooden took a picture next to the signature, and so did countless fans lucky enough to afford the price of a ticket that allows them access to the club.

But now the Mets, who have been criticized for not showcasing enough of their history in their new ballpark, plan to erase Gooden's signature from the wall, treating it as if it were unwanted graffiti.

"It's a brand-new building," said Jay Horwitz, the Mets' VP of media relations. "No one is supposed to write on the wall. It's going to be erased."

Hell yes, VP of media relations Jay Horwitz! You put your foot down now and you put your foot down hard. Otherwise, you let one franchise legend get away with scribbling on the walls and the next thing you know, Mookie Wilson is writing Keith Hernandez' phone number on the men's room stalls, promising good times that will never be. That's what we in the legal profession call a BREACH OF CONTRACT.

(Crazy Doc Gooden photo via Flickr user slgckgc, I'm sending a case of Coke to MetsBlog despite the fact they're sponsored by Pepsi now)

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Many a Phillies fan I know was not able to get through the playoffs last season without the use of some sort of intoxicant. While some may have enjoyed the playoffs with one of baseball's traditional drugs (steroids, amphetamines, beer, LSD), it's clear a lot of Phillies fans needed a lot of weed to get through the first meaningful playoff baseball since 1993. I know, I smelled it on Broad Street after the World Series win.

The Phillies apparently did, too, and have rewarded the team's faithful stoners by holding a dollar dog promotion today, 4/20. It might get rained out, so this intro is kind of ruined, but whatever: Grab your dugout, get out your one-hitter and put in your harmless tobacco, people. It's time to learn what I could learn about marijuana and baseball in five minutes of Googling.

• We all know that beer has done good (Babe Ruth:beer::Popeye:spinach) and bad (Mickey Mantle's liver) for baseball. But did you know the demon weed has done bad for baseball, too? Former Braves prospect Joe Winkelsas blew his chance at baseball because he couldn't stop smoking pot.

Winkelsas loved two things when he entered the Braves farm system as a free agent in 1996: baseball and marijuana," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote. "But probably in the reverse order." Hey, I write the jokes here! He pitched once for the Braves in 1999 and registered a 54.00 ERA. But Winkelsas kicked the wacky weed and returned to the majors in 2006. While that's a pretty cool comeback time-wise, he wasn't much better as a pitcher. But his ERA was a little lower!

• Ha ha, remember in 2002 when every single player on the New York Mets was a pothead? You'd smoke every day, too, if your GM was Steve Phillips. The New York Times reminds us of the controversy, which started when Newsday wrote at least seven (SEVEN!) players on the Mets and in their farm system smoked a little pot. GASP!

Grant Roberts, a pitcher, acknowledged that he was the player shown smoking marijuana in a photograph that was published with the Newsday article, but he said the photo was provided by a woman who was extorting him. ''I'm sorry,'' Roberts said to a roomful of reporters and television cameras at Shea Stadium. ''I'm very embarrassed by the situation. I made a mistake. The picture that you all saw is from the off-season in 1998. The woman who gave up the picture has also tried to threaten me and do other things, to get me to do stuff and give her things. And obviously I did not. Again, I'm sorry and I apologize to the New York Mets organization and to their fans. I love and respect this game a lot and I'm going to continue to play and I look forward to putting this behind me and moving on.''

As you no doubt remember, Roberts lost his sponsorship deal with Kellogg's.

There's a bonus with this story, too, since it's from 2002: A Bobby Valentine sighting!

The developments made for a bizarre scene at Shea, where team officials departed from their usual policy and closed the clubhouse and adjacent hallway to news media representatives for nearly two hours. When it was opened, reporters swarmed around players and team officials. At one point, Manager Bobby Valentine, trying to illustrate the potential dangers of playing under the influence of drugs, struck a pose as a disoriented hitter swinging an imaginary bat. The day ended with the Mets losing to the Montreal Expos, 6-1.

Geeze, if this was how the Mets spent September of 2002, what were they on in September of 2007? (My best guess: PCP.)

• That's it! Every other thing I found while Googling was about college baseball teams being busted for weed, or some random baseball-related people getting hit for possession. Even Rex Hudler! Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Sure, the Miami Marlins are on top of the world with a dandy record of 11-1, but they couldn't do it without a little help from a friendly Washington Nationals bullpen that ceded three straight ninth inning leads this past weekend. The Marlins won all three games. How bad is the Washington relief corps? Imagine a bullpen full of Farnsworths, and then multiply by a factor of Todd Jones. That doesn't even begin to describe the failures that Manny Acta reluctantly calls in on a nightly basis to protect the rare Nationals lead.

Here's the breakdown from the would-be forgotten weekend:

On Friday, Joel Hanrahan gave up a game-tying solo tater tot to Cody Ross with one down in the ninth. The Nats lost in the tenth. On Saturday, Hanrahan blew a 6-3 lead by giving up two singles and a three run happy jack to Jeremy Hermida. The Nats lost in the 11th. Yesterday, Saúl Rivera came in with a one-run lead and lost it quickly, then recorded two outs, loaded the bases, and gave up the farm on a bases-clearing double to Ross. The Nats hastened their own demise by losing in regulation.

In response, the GM-less team pushed Rivera and two other relievers out to sea on a couple of ice floes and called up Jason Bergmann, Garrett Mock and Kip Wells from Triple-A Syracuse to stop the bleeding. Folks, there isn't a wound big enough that a Kip Wells-size bandage cannot heal. They don't call him Kip "Band Aid McGee" Wells for nothing.

(We owe a Coke to the good Mottrams at Mr. Irrelevant and Flickr user Scott Ableman)

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Lucky me, I was supposed to see two games during the Yankees opening series at the new Stadium this weekend against the Indians. I made it about halfway through Opening Day before a Stadium-induced illness (hear the sorry details on our podcast tonight) and completely missed out on my chance to escort blogbuddy Kris to yesterday's finale. But having experienced five innings of the first preseason contest against the Cubs and five innings of Opening Day, I can confirm that yes, the rumors are true: New Yankee Stadium is built with the bones of the working class and strengthened with cement made from their tears.

New Yankee Stadium is just like the Republican Party. You have to be super-wealthy to reap all the benefits from both, yet the two entities attract people with all kinds of income levels through fundamentalist doctrines that promise "family values" and "American League pennants". You can see the same Joe Six Pack in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium that you'll witness lining the streets of Tuscaloosa for silly tax protests. Really? No taxes? Sounds great! The ownership has the fans fooled, promising free-agent signings that end up backfiring, like the Bush era tax cuts that put the country into a deep deficit.

Just like in real-life economics, there is no such thing as trickle-down luxuries at the new joint in the Bronx. While the wealthy are surrounded by a protective moat around the half-empty Legends seats, the poor folks get to watch poorly-angled wall-mounted televisions. While the wealthy dine behind glass at white-clothed tables and sip their fancy Merlots, the poor folks wait on hour-long lines at the concessions just to find out that they've run out of hot dog buns.

Still, I've been a Republican my whole life, but in name only. After all, I voted for Nader twice. But maybe this is like how I'm starting to feel about the Yankees: perhaps my unwavering fandom for the team is taking a backseat to the game itself. Since we started this blog and started covering all thirty teams, my love for baseball has increased so much, it almost hurts to keep supporting an evil, top-heavy regime. Almost.

(Photo courtesy of our pal Chief Wahoo)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when she did nothin' but flirt and tease ya:

Phillies 5, Padres 4: Raul Ibanez' fifth career walkoff tater tot off substitute closer Edwin Moreno made everyone in dull Padre gray long for the dulcet tones of fireman Heath Bell. Bud Black's hands were tied, y'all, because Bell worked three days in a row. Those razor thin margins will ruin your bottom line profits faster than Ryan Howard can leg out a triple. Which, by the way, he totally did in the fourth off Padre starter Josh Geer. Watching Howard chug around the bases is like watching a vending machine topple; slowly at first and then it picks up speed as it crushes a small child with its top-heavy momentum.

Yankees 7, Indians 3: In a game I was s'posed to attend but forced to miss because of sunstroke induced nausea and delusions from the home opener, the Yanks came back from a 3-0 deficit to split the first home series in the history of New Yankee Stadium. Jorge Posada's SUPER controversial two-run ding dong in the seventh off Jensen Lewis won it for New York; the ball seemed to bounce off the top of the right field wall as rightfielder Trevor Crowe reached up with his glove betwixt the outstretched arms of two hooligan fans. No matter, it was ruled a homer after review and Cody Ransom's bases-clearing double that fell in front of a confused Shin Soo-Choo. Open your eyes, Choo!

Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: Good news all around for Red Sox pitchers not named Daisuke. Jon Lester finally had a productive start and Josh Beckett saw his suspension reduced from a statement-making 6 games to a meaningless 5 games. Fella won't miss a start now. This has teeth how? Anyway, Lester finally realized he has to make hay while the sun shines and threw 7 innings of shutout ball. Kevin Youkilis collected a walk, double and run and continued his ritual de lo habitual of putting his barrel-chested body on a bag. Dude's been on base every game this year.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0: Randy Johnson and Max Scherzer collaborated on the third 2-0 game of the series, with the Big Unit ending up on the happy side of the equation in the deciding game of the three-game set. Dude took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against his old mates and notched his 296th career win; Scherzer's no chump though despite allowing seven baserunners in just five innings. Six strikeouts, one run, it's all good. Do you know who I would kill to enjoy a simple two-and-a-half hour pitchers duel?

Rangers 6, Royals 5: Michael Young's ninth inning walkoff tater tot off...guess who...Kyle Farnsworth helped the Rangers salvage the final game of their tete-a-tete with K.C. Seriously though...which human being amongst you thought Kyle Farnsworth was a good investment for any team, let alone a Royals team that had holes up and down its roster and minor league system? Dude's already got three losses...the rest of the Royals have two losses combined. Other gentlemen with three losses include Chien-MIng Wang (34.50 ERA) and Dan Haren (1.89 ERA). How is that fair? Pity Danny Haren.

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It's Sunday, there is plenty to do. Find out what's happening as we commute to our computers.

YESTERDAY - If you read yesterday's post you'll realize I can see the future. I know! Going out on limb by selecting Johan Santana pitching in a pitcher's park as my Duel of the Day. Daring! Yovani and Johan did not disappoint, posting nearly identical lines 7 K,5 hit lines over seven innings. The Brewers bullpen blinked first handing the Mets a chance to sweep. Ice cold Braves? Check. God awful Wang? Holy Christ Almighty, that doesn't even begin to describe it. Tim Lincecum proved he was just fine, pitching 8 shutout innings with a tidy 13 strikeouts. Too bad his Giants couldn't muster any offense against Dirty Douse Davis.

Zack Greinke is the future, I said. He is in fact the present! Complete game, 10 strikeout performance will do nicely. Scott Kazmir needs to avoid walks? Allowing 6 of them in 4 innings doesn't sound like a recipe for success OR fine French soup. Jim Thome didn't do much damage from his bed but Carlos Quentin totted and Paul Konerko proved an adequate aging slugger stand-in.

The Cubs got to dance and flog each other on the field for the second day in a row. Jays too! The Washington Nationals are destined to lose games in increasingly tragicomic ways all summer long. I can't wait!

TODAY - Can the very expensive and very worth it so far AJ Burnett stem the tide in New York? The new ballpark still has that new urine scent, but all the blowouts it's hosted makes it look empty a lot. Koji Uehara tries to avoid the Boston broom against Jon Lester. The "rookie" might have a 2-0 record but only one start was worth a damn. Lester is still waiting for his first worthwhile start of the year. Max Scherzer matches up against Randy Johnston so every sportswriter gets to bust out the Cy Young versus Cy Old joke they've been dying to use. Young Rick Porcello makes his second career start against Carlos Silva, who makes his second career start having eaten an entire deer the night before. The Sunday night game pits America's heartland against itself once again. Theodore Roosevelt Lily against Todd Wellenmyer in a match up of guys that get paid to play baseball.

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Because good pitching is fun to watch. Do we have any good timey party match ups today? Yesterday saw lots of walks, runs and crimes against the art of hurling. It seems just yesterday I ate it up, Your yarns were dipped in gold.

Early Afternoon Games The lukewarm Pirates send Ian Snell against the ice-cold Braves and Jo-Jo Reyes. Jordan Schaffer fever has moved from the chest to the sinuses and looks to be clearing up completely. Josh Johnson has been dominant this season, going against former teammate Scott Olsen and his Nats is a great way for that run of play to continue. The Jays and A's start two guys you've never heard of because one of them is a middle reliever and the other is an Oakland A's starter without a face. Duel of the Day pits Johan Santana against Yovanni Gallardo at Kitty Field. That is something I can get behind.

Afternoon Games from outside the EST vacuum The good people at Fox Sports selected the Yankees/Tigers, Dodgers/Rockies and Cubs/Cardinals to sell pickup trucks. Chien-Ming Wang and Fausto Carmona are almost the same guy off to almost the same crappy start. That's not fair, Wang's been God awful, Carmona merely bad. Annoying Canuck Ryan Dempster takes on shockingly effective Kyle Lohse in Chicago while it's Chad Billingsley versus Aaron Cook in LA. Tim Lincecum claims he's okay after a bad start, he gets a chance to prove it today against Doug Davis and the Diamondbacks.

Saturday Night Games of Value Zack Grienke is the future my friends, whether he can tame the Rangers beast remains to be seen. The evening time match up to watch is Scott Kazmir and his Rays against Mark Buehrle and his White Sox. One works quick, throws strikes. One is Scott Kazmir. Kazmir avoided his usual base on balls stumbling block last time out but he was touched for three runs over 6 innings. The White Sock offense isn't what is was in years past, but Carlos Quintin and Jim Thome can still hurt you. Thome can swing that cane of his pretty hard!

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As you can see, the weather allowed me to dig out my glove. In this spirit of rebirth, I say we don't look backward, let us keep our eyes facing forward! Or we can look back at last night and then look forward to today's games!

Fish Don't Lie - The world is the Marlins' oyster, or something more crustacean-child related. The 9-1 Florida Marlins needed an extra frame to get past the lowly Nats; meaning we should asterisk the crap out of their record. John Baker and Cody Ross hit balls over fences but the winning run scored on an infield single. Strange events allowed the Mets to even their record at 5: someone else's bullpen collapsed. Gary Sheffield hit his 500th career home run to tie the game before Luis Castillo won the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Watermen of the Deep - The Mariners are still in first place. Their big offsesason defensive additions have combined to make them the best ball catching squad in baseball. They beat up on the semi-happed Tigers (not quite hapless, still not fully happed) via a 5 run fifth inning. The Tigers record fell to 5-5, do you know what lies in the shadow of the statue? The rest of the AL West is wide open now, as the Angels weren't that good to begin but injuries and tragedies are slowing them to a crawl.

Dodgers, Padres Consolidate Power - The Padres are still in first place also, a much wackier fact than the Mariners factoid. Away from the vast hopelessness of Petco Park, the Padres used the long ball to down the Phillies. "You can do that?" Kevin Towers was overhead asking. The Friars came back from down 7-1 thanks to home runs from Scott Hairston and Nick Hundley before Hairston drove in the winning runs in the eighth inning. The Dodgers got four runs out of the Rockies bullpen to while using their reliefmen to shut the door. Jonathon Broxton notched 4ks out of 5 outs recorded. He throws hard and is great fun to watch.

Red Sox, Orioles Test your Mettle - How does a 10-8 game featuring 13 walks sound? Like a fate worse than death? Correct you are friends. Two brutal starts turned this one into bullpen battle, a Red Sox strong point. 6 shutout innings gave the Sox time to come back and Aubrey Huff's error did the rest of the work. The Yankees registered their first win at Yankee Stadium 2.0. Joba Chamberlain had some control issues that were offset by the Indians "playing baseball" issues. The Yankees hit 4 solo ding dongs because they're all egomaniacal control freaks. Or they had trouble getting on base yesterday. One of those two. The Jays lost but are still in first place, tied for the best run differential in the league. For now.

That's it! Sorry, middle of the country, I have no time for your mediocrity! Jokez! The Royals are awesome, holding the Rangers to three runs and three tater tots which is sadly unsurprising. The Cubs began their assault on Precinct Pujols with some late game Soriano heroics. "Jason Kubel hit for the cycle!" we'd all exclaim if it didn't already happen twice this week. More soon!

Lloyd the Barber photo courtesy of some gossip rag.

Weekend Questions

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fish baby.jpg Hey kids, fists of rage.


That does it for us this week. We're back at 100% on Monday. Lloyd will take you through the weekend on his usual Magic Carpet Ride. You don't know what. You can find. Same WoW Channel. See you all Monday. You too, Fish Baby,

Andre The Giant Chokes Bob Uecker - 1988

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This one was a no brainer for me. You know how we love Bob Uecker around these parts, and I was quite the wrestling fan as a kid. Rob thinks wrestling is low class but any of you that listened to the podcast the other night heard him say that he puts arugula on his pizza so, you know, take that with a grain of salt.

In any case, he's sick today and not blogging so... ANDRE THE GIANT CHOKING BOB UECKER!

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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newstretcher.JPGDid you know it takes over one week to install a new DC IN on a laptop? Me either until this week! So I'm traveling, unfortunately without my computer. Creampuff is being brought to you this week from an internet "cafe" in New York where I just literally fed bills into the CPU like it was a vending machine. And there's no coffee anywhere. Good times. Stupid Creampuff'd laptops.

  • Yuniel Escobar, Braves: Escobar injured himself in the on deck circle by jumping up and down. And once again, another athlete is cut short in his prime by having ants in his pants. Tragic.

  • Melvin Mora, Alfredo Simon, Orioles: Mora hurt his hamstring and is out for about two weeks. The rookie, Simon could be out much longer with "degenerative issues" in his shoulder. Very vague, but I'm going to guess his elbow got caught up in either gambling, prostitution or reading With Leather. Zing!

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jed Lowrie, Red Sox: Matsuzaka has arm fatigue which is very problematic for me on two levels. One, he's a starter for my favorite team and two, now Rob gets to squawk about hopw bad the WBC is for pitchers. Blech. Lowrie has had wrist problems but will not need surgery, however doctors did need to use the jaws of life to remove his Livestrong bracelet.

  • Milton Bradley, Cubs: Milton has been unable to start thus far while nursing a groin injury, but he pinch hit last night. And was promptly ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Milton Bradley. A hero to frail hotheads across America, and one of my favorite players.

  • DeWayne Wise, White Sox: Across town, the DeWayne Wise leadoff experiment is probably over for now as he was put on the deel with a separated shoudler. He'll be gone almost two months. Bad news for him and for our t-shirt makers.

  • Kaz Matsui, Brian Moehler, Astros: Matsui was kept out of the lineup this week with a stiff back. But everyone say it with me now, "at least it wasn't an anal fissure like last year!" Moehler has a Grade 1 MCL sprain and won't be able to chip away at his 27.00 ERA anytime soon

  • Alex Gordon, Royals: Hey remember last week when Alex Gordon had "finally arrived" as an impact player? Well his hip couldn't handle all that success and he's having surgery to repair some torn cartlage. Cartilage of the future!

  • Matt Stairs, Phillies: Raped by a wallaby.

  • Vlad Guerrero, Angels: This quote is taken from the ESPN.com injuries page:

    "After the game [Wednesday], the chest muscle near the shoulder was bothering me more than the previous game," Guerrero said. "I did a little self-examination and thought it was more swollen than before. The trainers have me going back to L.A. to have it checked."

    I can't be the only one that read that and decided he's going back to LA to have a mammogram, right?

  • Xavier Nady, Yankees: Nady is on the deel with elbow problems but is having more tests done in the hopes avoiding surgery. I did the same thing once when I got stabbed. I went for a second opinion and the doctor was like, "Yeah dude, you definitely got stabbed." Turned out to be more of a waste of time and co-payments than anything else. Just have the surgery, X-Man.

  • Kenji Jojima, Mariners: The M's backstop injured his hammy and landed on the DL. Perfect opening for Jeff Clement, right? Nope. Dude is hitting .053 in AAA and the team actually has him fielding grounders at first. That can't be a good sign from a once can't miss sounding prospect. 37 year old Jamie Burke is your new Seattle catcher.

  • Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: Well that was a fun comeback, huh? Carpenter made two starts then tore an oblique muscle. For a Cardinals fan this has to be the equivalent of getting one of those really elaborate slot car tracks when you were a kid. You know, the ones that worked once and then never again.

  • Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays: According to the AP Jesse Litsch "broke the #1 rule of pitching. Trying to pitch through arm pain." This landed him on the DL with forearm pain. I always thought the #1 rule of pitching was "Don't turn around and throw a tomato into centerfield." Because, 1. the batter is in the other direction and B. a tomato is not a baseball.

(UPDATE: I'm pretty sure the old lady behind the counter here just got rickroll'd and let the whole song play. There was no music before or after.)

No Comprende

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Due to techinical difficulties, Walkoff Walk will not be seen for the rest of today. God Bless America.

The Fury Of Guitars And Sopranos: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:10, Marlins at Braves: Break out the broom Matilda, the Marlins are goddamned good. Anibal Sanchez, he of the 5 innings of scoreless baseball faces off against Kenshin Kawakami, he of the 6 ok innings. I am Lothar, Of The Hill People.

  • 12:35, Astros at Pirates: Cecil Cooper's Astros won on the same day I lit his chair on fire. Note to all Houston fans: If you give me money I'll go on a real spree and you'll win the World Series. I accept PayPal and coffee. Russ Ortiz vs. Jeff Karstens.

  • 1:05, Indians at Yankees: It's Lee vs. Sabathia in the Battle to see WHO IS THE BEST LEFTHANDER STARTING IN THIS GAME!!! The Indians won last night too after I lit Wedge's chair on fire. I guess baseball managers are no different from every one else in the world... just waiting around for their chance to make me look stupid. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: DMAC GON' GLOGGIT.

  • 2:20: Cardinals at Cubs: It's the most underrated rivalry in sports... wah wah... why does everyone hate the midwest... wah wah. I don't hate the midwest. In fact I love it. Favorite part of the country. I just hate the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright vs. Sean Marshall.
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As the Yankees finally begin to tear down the old dump, they are set to experience rebirth in a new dump. Today is finally the Yankees home opener, just three years after breaking ground and, surprisingly, on time. In fact, it's probably true that the Yankees waited to start demolishing the old place because they weren't sure construction would be finished on the new joint. So salute the construction teams and the endless flow of Yankee dollars for getting this thing ready for today.

But I digress. The Bronx fans may be upset at the ticket prices but hey, they asked for it. I wrote that column before I visited the new Stadium for the exhibition game against the Cubs two weeks ago, and now, I regret the tone of my words. The Yankees have done a great disservice to the regular folks by severely cutting back the number of upper deck seats and pushing them way back from the field, creating bad sightlines. Also, those 600 obstructed view bleacher seats (about 12% of the total) really do suck.

Still, my seats are great, so screw those jerks upstairs. I'm headed out today to see the Cleveland Indians come to town, and the irony is quite delicious:

(George) Steinbrenner, who will turn 79 on July 4, could have made sure it was not the Indians coming to the Big Apple to open the latest Taj Mahal of baseball. But the thinking here is that cantankerous George wanted his hometown team to be in on all the glitz.

The year before the American League instituted the designated hitter, Steinbrenner was in line to buy the financially-beleagured Indians in 1972. Instead, the AL wizards decided to throw their support to a group headed by Nick Mileti. The party line was that Steinbrenner's interest in horse racing would be a detriment to the grand old game.

Think about it, Indians fans...you had a chance to have a wealthy, spendy local owner come in and turn the franchise around. Instead, you had thirty more years of failure followed by success that itself ended in failure.

Come back here at 1PM as our pal D-Mac will liveglog the Indians-Yankees game that will air on the MLB Network. I would live tweet and live comment my experience but the AT&T cellular network at the Stadium is horrible and gets easily overloaded. In fact, the only time I was able to send a text message at the exhibition game was during the National Anthem. Sorry, Uncle Sam!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bari D)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you were waiting and fading and floating away:

Indians 5, Royals 4: The Kyle Farnsworth curse continues for the Royals. Entering a tie game in the seventh, Farnsworth gave up a double, single, balk and walk before getting his ass pulled by Trey Hillman. Kyle ended up allowing three runs because his successor Ron Mahay dumped all over the bedsheets just as badly. The Indians win their first road game since July 1985 and Travis Hafner had his first game with multiple extra-base hits since the Eisenhower administration. Hey, I like Ike too!

Red Sox 8, Athletics 2: For the third day in a row, a pitcher took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Yesterday, Tim Wakefield took the thing into the eighth but lost the thing when I jinxed the heck out of it (also when Kurt Suzuki collected a single, but who's counting?). Fella lost the shutout a bit later but still nailed down the jeu complet, allowing the Red Sox bullpen to rest their weary souls before a long cross-country trip. Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew totted.

Marlins 10, Braves 4: Starter Derek Lowe got knocked around a bit and didn't have good control, allowing five walks in five innings. But it was the Braves bullpen that really deserves our scorn. Peter Moylan took the loss, allowing a run on a hit and two walks while Blaine Boyer seems to be having a case of the everydays this year: fella got whupped for four runs while recording just one out. I guess the Marlins have got it going on, amirite?

Brewers 9, Reds 3: Mike Cameron hit two ding-dongs off Reds starter Micah Owings and picked up 3 RBI while Braden Looper recorded his first win of the year. Perhaps Owings, who made his Reds pitching debut, should stick to pinch-hitting.

Blue Jays 12, Twins 2: The Toronto offense worsens and worsens by the day.

SPECIAL BASEBALL WHILE I WAS SLEEPING: Dodgers 5, Giants 4: Dodgers win on a walkoff walk and Lloyd was glogging it!

Bust out your saxophone everything you hold dear in life. Brian Wilson's not smiling tonight after missing the outside corner against James Loney. Dodgers win 5-4 but the good times start here!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, if you don't get my letter you know that I'm in jail..


Tomorrow, a special Thursday Liveglog and other assorted dry goods. Same WoW Channel.
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Why whiparound coverage? Because there are a few afternoon games going on and none of them have the ability to hold my interest today. So let's do our best to chit-chat about what's going down in Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago, and maybe Oakland and Arizona a little later on. Everybody put away your liveglog blazers and take out your hilarious liveglog beanies instead.

2:05PM: Right now I'm checking out the Tigers and the White Sox, where both teams staged rallies that ended up fruitless. The Tigers had runners on second and third and none out, then scored nothing off Jose Contreras. Now batting for Le Tigre is The Big Tilde...and he flies out.

2:09PM: Did you hear that Daisuke Matsuzaka is kinda sorta hurt and might be officially the first casualty of the WBC? All that springtime competitiveness can really put a strain on your arm, creampuff. Plus the fact that Dice-K regularly threw 350 pitches per game in the NPB. Cabrera reached on an error and Guillen flew out.

2:12PM: Miggy C stole second, which I didn't think was possible given his portly corpulence. Gerald Laird flies out to end the 'threat'.

2:17PM: Speaking of creampuffs, it looks like Xavier Nady might need season-ending surgery on his ouchie elbow. This is why you never trade away outfield depth. Or pitching depth for that matter. Konerko reaches with a hit and Pierzynski follows with a hit of his own.

2:20PM: Sexy Lexy Ramirez grounds out to Cabrera, runners advance. Here's feeble-hitting Brian "Don't Call Me Dewayne Wise" Anderson.

2:26PM: Anderson strikes out swinging and Brent Lillibridge gives up baseball in favor of racing for Krispy Kremes.

2:30PM: In other news, the Royals loaded the bases with one out against the Indians in the first but Aaron Laffey got out of trouble without allowing a run. Cleveland Indians fever...catch it!

2:33PM: Royals starter Sidney Ponson is wearing the #42 on his jersey not in memory and honor of Jackie Robinson, but just as a reminder of how thick his thighs are in inches.

2:37PM: Ponson squeezes his way out of a two men on, none men out situation by inducing a GIDP from Ryan "Free" Garko. Later, he will attempt to eat a whole human head a la the Orioles mascot.

2:40PM: Contreras puts two gentlemen on base but Curtis Granderson nearly bails him out by dropping a wormball. Kid beats out the GIDP and Jose still has runners on first and third with two outs.

2:44PM: So, Dice-K is officially headed to Friday's Creampuff column, not only for his tired shoulder but also due to a late night encounter with a wallaby in the mean streets of Oakland. Meanwhile, Polanco lines a double WAY over a shallow Brian Anderson's head and the Tigers go up 2-0.

2:48PM: Maggagglio flies out and the inning is done in Detroit. Out in the racist confines of Wrigley, the Rockies get their first baserunner off Dick Harden as Ian Stewart draws a one-out walk. Tulo beats out an infield single that he lined off Harden's paw.

2:52PM: Number forty-two is up for the Rockies now. I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS MAN IS. IS IT JACKIE ROBINSON? HE SHORE LOOKS WHITE. Whoever it is, he walked and the Rox have the bases juiced with one out. C'mon future Cy Young winner Dick Harden!

2:55PM: Dick Harden strikes out another number forty-two, bringing up ex-Cub Jason Marquis, who is received with hearty boos. Wait, I don't get it, Wrigley faithful. He's not black!

2:58PM: Jason Marquis lines a single to center that Fukudome cannot handle, two runs cross the plate for Colorado and Chris Iannetta gets thrown out advancing to third. Wackiness, indeed but the Rockies take a 2-0 lead. Marquis is now 3-for-3 with 3 RBI on the season, and is outperforming David Ortiz. Also, Grady Sizemore got an RBI single in KC and the Indians are up 1-0.

2:59PM: And Miggy Cabrera slamma-jamma'ed a solo tater dong to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the sixth.

3:02PM: Two more Tiger baserunners and Jose Contreras has been shown the door in Deeeeetroit. Unfortunately, the door is rusted over and abandoned like the rest of the city, so Contreras will have to sit on the curb outside until the game is over.

3:05PM: Clayton Richard is the new pitcher for the ChiSox. Josh Anderson lays down a bunt and beats out Richard's little lob throw. In other White Cocks bullpen news, Lance Broadway totally came out of the closet! Yeah, it's true, he's a lefthanded pitcher, not a righthander like we've been led to believe for so long. Bases juiced, one down.

3:06PM: Ramon Santiago lines a single down the left field line, scoring Laird and Inge. Tigers lead 5-0 and they are still rallying, y'all.

3:09PM: Richard induces a pop-out and is then pulled from the game. GO JOIN CONTRERAS ON THE CURB, FRENCHIE.

3:13PM: Mike MacDougal, of the Des Moines MacDougals, is the new White Sox pitcher. Perhaps you remember him as the Royals closer in 2003 and one-time KC representative to the All Star game. Or perhaps you remember the time back at Des Moines Central High when MacDougal fired a snot rocket out his left nostril that landed above the cafeteria door. Either way, he got the ChiSox outta the jam.

3:16PM: Seth Smith takes Harden deep to put the Rox up 3-0. Todd Helton doubles and scores on a Garrett Atkins single and now it's 4-0 Rockies. Harden walks Stewart. This is all going deep into the crapper, Cubbies fans.

3:19PM: Anyone ever poach scallops in olive oil? Me neither. In related news, seven of the eight outs that Harden has gotten today have been by strikeout. Va va va voom! His latest victim was Troy Tulowitzki, who is also delicious poached in olive oil.

3:20PM: With the strikeouts come the walks. Harden walks Ianetta to bloat the bases. But then he K's Barmes to end the inning and he's notched eight strikeouts overall after just three innings of work.

3:25PM: On Saturday July 18, Rascal Flatts is playing Wrigley Field with special guests Vince Gill and Darius Rucker. Wait, do the Tribune Co. folks know that Rucker is black? You couldn't tell from his music, but yeah, Milton Bradley says "watch out".

3:30PM: Back to the D, where it is so cold. Tigers still up 5-0, and they've got The Big Tilde on second after a walk and a wild pitch with none out. BRING IN LANCE BROADWAY, OZZIE!

3:31PM: Miggy Cabrera laces a single up the middle and Magglio chug-a-lugs his way around third to score. Tigers 6-0.

3:32PM: Carlos Guillen continues his hitless day by GIDP'ing. He appears to have a bit of a gimp in his step.

3:33PM: Gerald Laird just laced a ball to right that would have been an easy double had Jermaine Dye not displayed some sick leather and snagged it while running face-first into the wall. That's what they call a WEB GEM.

3:35PM: Hafner doubles, Choo singles, and Ryan Garko picks up the ribbie with a single off Ponson. Indians take a 2-0 lead in the sixth. Francisco pops up.

3:37PM: Hey Indians, this is how I know you stink. You pay Tony Graffanino to play baseball.

3:40PM: Ponson retires Tony G. and we're underway out in Oakland. HYOOGE start for Wakefield, as the entire Red Sox organization is on a steep decline into nightmare territory. Panic! Someone named Brett Anderson is pitching for the A's, but they're not panicking because they never expected much. Anderson gets two groundouts then strikes out Big Papi to end the top of the first.

3:45PM: Back to Detroit, where Brent Lillibridge reached on a walk with two outs and then scampered down to third on two wild pitches by Ryan Perry. Perry strikes out Josh Fields and the game remains 6-0 headed for the bottom of the eighth, y'all. Commenter Jerkwheat says that there is jawing happening after Perry went up-and-in to Fields but no brawl...yet.

3:49PM: In Kansas City, the Royals put a digit in the run column after Coco Crisp walked, Willie Bloomquist singled, both runners advanced on Choo's bad throw, and David DeJesus laid down the sac bunt to drive Crisp in. Indians still up 2-1.

3:52PM: Starter Aaron Laffey gets the hook and Cleveland brings in the imaginatively-named sidearmer Joe Smith. He'll face...number forty two....arrggggggghhhh! Back in Oakland, the Red Sox take a 2-0 lead on a two-run Mike Lowell happy jack.

3:54PM: Out to Arizona where the announcers are idly chit-chatting about Sanford & Son because the D-Backs need to salvage the homestand with a win over the Cards today. Groan. 0-0 in the second. Call the game you doofuses and leave the pop culture references to the livegloggers.

4:00PM: Micah Hoffpower picks up the RBI for the Cubbies and they're down just 4-1 now. The Royals have loaded the bases against Jensen Lewis. The Tigers have tacked on a couple of runs to take a 9-0 lead in the eighth, and the Cardinals went up 1-0 on a Yadier Molina RBI single. What a perfect time to end the liveglog! Thanks for joining us today, y'all.

Kris Liakos Lights Your Seat On Fire: Managers In Trouble

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So last year my "who's gonna get fired" piece was some convoluted schtick about USC and how they like to hire former pro coaches. That was stupid, but I still got 2 out of 3 correct. For this year's edition I'm dispensing with the conceit and just marching straight into the following managers' offices and lighting their desk chairs on fire.

  • Cecil Cooper, Astros: You know what's a foolproof way to get your new Herman Miller Aeron turned into a white hot fireball? Get behind the Pirates in the standings. The Astros have scored an astounding 16 runs so far this year. That's 9 less THAN THE GIANTS. They've hit .171 with RISP. And their pitching is not good either. They're allowing 1.75 baserunners per inning. Apart from Oswalt and The Puma, there's no one even on this roster you could see "turning it around." Sorry, Cecil. /strikes match

  • Eric Wedge, Indians: So Cleveland should do better this season. we've all agreed on that. But if they don't, and they've looked awful thus far, I think Wedge is in trouble. Their 81-81 record last season belies how much they looked like underachievers. Following an offseason where they made some relatively well publicized moves, another .500 or below season has me charging at both Wedge and GM Mark Shapiro's plush seats with a Bic lighter and can of hair spray.

  • Bob Melvin, Snakes: Melvin probably gets a little more leeway because his team is young. No seriously, did you know that? The Diamonbacks are young. I only read it 35 times a day so I can't be totally sure if it's true but I think it may be. Brandon Webb has missed two starts now with a vague shoulder soreness. Davis and Garland have pitched well so far, but are league average pitchers and will be back there soon. If Webb's absence becomes prolonged and the bats don't pick up (27 runs scored, good for 24th in baseball) it's not hard to imagine the Diamondbacks hovering around third place for the season, in one of baseball's worst divisions. That doesn't do much for a manager and justifies the KENNY ROGERS ROAST JOB I'M DOING ON HIS SWIVEL CHAIR. BURN BABY BURN MUAAAHAHAHHAHA!

  • Manny Acta, Nationals: Since the Nationals don't even have a GM, just an "acting GM" Acta is probably safe until that position is filled. But this team looks like it may go 0-162. I'm going to take this barrel of fish and shoot it. Then light it on fire.

Self Portrait At Twenty Years: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: After yesterday's day for ducks, these two squads both pushed back their starters to keep the following guys on schedule. John Danks is off until Thursday for the White Sox and Rick Porcello got pushed back to Sunday so today it's Armando Gallaraga time for the Tigers. He's not too shabby. If it rains today God will join his son, Josh Beckett, with a 6 game suspension.

  • 2:10, Indians at Royals: Sidney Ponson makes his second start of the season. He pitched meh in his first start against the Yankees allowing 4 runs through 6, but Trey Hillman liked the "way he battled." That's also what I'd say about it if I had no business running a major league baseball team. Rollercoaster Aaron Laffey goes for the Indians to try and prevent a very embarassing trip to KC's dustpan.

  • 2:20, Rockies at Cubs: WoW Cy Young Pick Rich Harden takes the mound today as Aramis Ramirez and Geo Soto return to the Cubs lineup after ouchies. Could be a long day in Roxtapril. Fukudome is off to a hot start for the Cubs, while no one is really hot for the Rockies. They were one hit yesterday. But the most intriguing question, will Jason Marquis be welcomed back to Wrigley with cheers, jeers, or disinterested trips to the bathroom?

  • 3:35, Red Sox at A's: Man last night's game was a heartbreaker. If the Sox are gonna lose on a walkoff and I'm up until 2 in the morning listening on the radio, COULD YOU AT LEAST MAKE IT A WALK? Dice-K pitched lousy and now arm fatigue could land him on the deel. Today 42 year old Tim Wakefield goes for Boston and 21 year old Brett Anderson goes for Oakland. I see frm Anderson's B-R page that he was born in Midland, TX. I remember that town from Friday Night Lights. Brett Anderson is now Boobie Anderson.

  • 3:40, Cardinals at Snakes: Rubber in Phoenix. Arizona's 10th inning win on a hit by noted fruit Eric Byrnes was high drama. After scoring just 4 runs in their previous 3 games, Arizona would like to keep it going today but JOEL PINIERO STANDS IN THEIR WAY. Jon Garland pitches for the hometown team.

  • 4:08, Yankees at Rays: Andy Pettite takes on Andy Sonnanstine, andy I hate both of these teams. LAST PLACE BLUES, Y'ALL.
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Live baseball games and the studio show on TBS last year were a little bit milquetoast and lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, so the cable network has decided to spice up their coverage with a little je ne sais fatso. Yes, David Wells is again gainfully employed, this time as a squawking head in the booth. Heck, David Wells is so fat that the fourth estate merged with the fifth estate just to fit him in.

Folks are already predicting that Wells will add some outspoken in-your-faceness to the proceedings, not unlike what Charles Barkley does for the NBA coverage on TNT. Still, you can't just be a blathering boob and expect great results from your incessant carrying-on. Barkley's comic timing is part and parcel of his character and you simply cannot imitate that. Besides, Wells will be in the booth, not in the pre-game studio, so his commentary should be limited to the game action. But it won't, because the typical TV color guy feels the need to fill time with babble; instead of letting the action do the talking, he interjects with witless anecdotes and poorly-placed didactic missives.

Credit Wells for knowing his predecessors, though:

If I was to imitate anyone it would be Ernie Harwell. Playing in Detroit for two and a half years was a great opportunity to hang around a legend. Ernie Harwell is always fun to listen to. Obviously, I never heard him until I went (to Detroit ), but I heard of him. But to really listen to a guy, if you're going to imitate someone that would probably be a guy that you would want to (imitate). You listen to (Dodgers announcer) Vin Scully, which I heard a lot, and you've got to idolize a guy like that because he's just so smooth up in the booth. But you can't imitate anyone, you've got to be your own person up there.

If he can be one tenth as good as Scully or Harwell and still retain his own style and voice, then just give him the Ford Frick Award right now. Stay tuned.

(Photos courtesy of Flickr user simplistic designs)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you looked pretty in your fancy dress:

Mariners 3, Angels 2 (10): Scot Shields' poor attempt at fielding a 10th inning sac bunt buried the Angels as Franklin "Goot" Gutierriez scurried home from second with the winning run in the Mariners home opener. Carlos Silva actually pitched damn well in front of a sell-out crowd spurred on to celebration by the dulcet tones of returning star Ken Griffey's 1990s era at-bat tune of "Hip Hop Hooray". Hip hop hooray indeed, Seattlinos.

Orioles 7, Rangers 5 (10): In the evening's second extry innings game, the two teams combined to score as many runs in the tenth inning as they had for the first nine, but the OriLOLs came out on top. Adam Jones' two-run tater tot broke open the game in the top of the tenth, Luke Scott followed with a two-run dubble, and the bend-but-don't-break-too-badly Baltymore bullpen held on despite allowing two runs in the bottom half. Eddie Guardado takes the loss, as is customary for the guy who buries the team by giving up the farm.

Twins 3, Blue Jays (11): In the night's third extra innings game, Minnesoter finally overcame their historically long losing streak at the hands of the Boo Jays as new third baseman Joe Crede dubbled in the winning walkoff run in the 10th. Glen Perkins and Ricky Romero dueled like the young studs they are for eight innings but neither factored into the decision. Jesse Carlson took the loss while Jesse Crain got the win. Jesse Camp, however, is still a douche.

Diamondbacks 7, Cardinals 6 (10): Eric Byrnes put down the microphone and set aside his queer kayak for just long enough to collect the game winning single in the FOURTH FRIGGIN EXTRA INNINGS GAME of the night. After D-Backs closer Chad Qualls screwed the pooch and blew the save by giving up two bases-bloated singles in the ninth, Byrnes drove in Upton for the wiener. To add injury to insult, the Cards lost starter Chris Carpenter with a ribcage ouchie caused by a really unfortunate plate appearance. DON'T SWING SO HARD NEXT TIME YOU NEW HAMPSHIRE BOOB.

Athletics 6, Red Sox 5 (12): In the night's only extra innings game that could have ended with a walkoff walk, Travis Buck ruined the shrimp opportunity by beating out a bases-loaded infield single for the walkoff win. The Sox fall to 2-6 and the excuses by Boston fans are already piling up. Oh the West Coast is a tough place to win games blah blah blah.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, listen to more Faron Young.

  • ARE you ready for the WoWF5 endorsed Series Of The Week? It's Marlins at Braves! GET PUMPED!

  • ARE the Red Sox going to continue their lousy start tonight in Oakland? The West Coast hasn't been very kind to the club from Boston in recent regular seasons, so maybe a few more people should have seen this coming.

  • HAS Max Scherzer had the best athletic career of any former Hogans Heroes cast member? Probably, watch him take on Chris "T Was A" Carpenter in AZ this evening. Or not, whatever.

  • IS Walkoff Walk's love unconditional? I guess we'll find out it Manny Parra has another crap start tonight against Dusty's Boys.

  • THINK we'll get to see Johnny Damon pitch tonight against the Rays?

Come back tomorrow. We'll have free stuff to give away. Just kidding. Come back anyway. 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.

  • Evan Grant gives us the inside information on Tom Hicks' default filing and whether or not he'll be forced to sell off the Rangers. Looks like the answer is no. Sorry, Rangers fans. Inside Corner.

  • We congratulate Pat Lackey at the Pirates blog WHYGAVS which just turned four years old. Take a walk down memory road with Pat, but drop some breadcrumbs so you end up back here. Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?

  • Grant conducts a faux interview with the V.P. of Blackouts at MLB Advanced Media. Satire is dead, but this is hilarious stuff. McCovey Chronicles.

  • The views at Citi Field are horrible. In fact, the entire outfield is covered with an enormous American flag. Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Can you top my score of 9 out of 15 on the state flag quiz? Mental Floss.

  • If you haven't subscribed to my Twitter Feed, you're missing out on all sorts of fun breaking news items.

Joe Garagiola Hosts Baseball Fun & Games - 1970something

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Hey kids, I have a special Classic TV Friday for you... on Tuesday! Why Tuesday? Well because the afternoon game got rained out and I have to do my taxes. It's got Bloopers, and rambly stories and all kinds of stuff they play on the Jumbotron when there's a rainout. But from the 70s, so it's funnier.

Please to enjoy, this oughta hold you over for awhile.

Marriage: Today's Afternoon Game

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babytigere.jpg 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: Rick Porcello, the sub drinking age righty phenom with the mushroom sounding last name makes his second career start today. His first one kind of sucked but you get a whole lot of mulligans when you're 20. John Danks goes for the White Sox. He's pretty good now, ain't he? This series is FOR THE SOUL of the AL Central. Be warned. Carlos Quentin homered twice for Detroit yesterday and if we weren't idiots we would have made him our choice for AL MVP. But we're idiots.

Who Are The Unsung Greats Of Broadcasting?

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On last night's Furious Five we took the sad opportunity of Harry the K's passing to discuss those announcers that have survived them. Rob asked if he was the last of the greats. To this I quickly said no because the All-Time Best (IMO), Vin Scully, is still with us and still doing games out in Los Angeles. But as the conversation turned to whether or not that Scully/Kalas/Buck/Allen/Harwell "gravitas" will pass when the last of them does was far more interesting.

Obviously styles have changed, as they do in any industry that has been around for nearly 100 years. We talked about the Remy/Orsillo team here in Boston. They may be more beloved by their fanbase than any other team out there but for the most part they're tremendous goofballs. I'm just fine with that because well, you've read my writing. But I'm hard pressed to assign "greatness" to any announcers whose most famous call involved a thrown slice of pizza.

Lloyd brought up Jerry Howarth, the Blue Jays radio play by play guy coming up on his 30th year in the booth. I haven't heard Howarth even though, and I'm a little embarassed to admit this, I still cruise around the AM dial at night as I'm going to bed trying to pick up the broadcasts from New York, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, etc. That makes me sound like I ride to the feed store on a John Deere when I wake up at 4 AM, but screw it. It's fun.

Rob didn't get to say much because he has to listen to Sterling and Waldman.

Like they knew I was writing this, Ernie Harwell is a guest on the Dan Patrick Show right now talking about Harry and Mark Fidrych who also passed yesterday. They just had Harwell pretend he was calling an at bat with Fidrych on the mound. That was really really good.

In any case, the point of this post is for you to tell us who we're missing. Who's good on radio/tv that doesn't get their due? Leave it in the comments, or if you're the shy type, email us. WHO ARE BASEBALL FANS SLEEPIN ON?

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We discussed this briefly on our Furious Five radio show last night, but if you were too busy to listen and/or can't stand getting a severe case of the douche chills from listening to my girlish voice, Bud Selig is taking this whole Jackie Robinson tribute a little bit too far this year:

By request of Commissioner Bud Selig, as Major League Baseball celebrates the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking its color barrier on Wednesday, all big league players and uniformed personnel have been asked to wear the late Hall of Famer's famous No. 42 on the field when the 30 teams celebrate the occasion.

The past two years, as the momentum to wear Robinson's number steamrolled through Major League clubhouses, Selig asked, but the act of wearing it was voluntary. Not so this year.

NOT SO THIS YEAR, says MLB.com staff writer Barry Bloom. NOT SO. Bud Selig has decided that his employees were not showing enough fervor for baseball hero Jackie Robinson and has issued a stern order that all players, coaches, and peanut vendors must wear the number 42. This is both a tribute to the most important athlete of the 20th century and an effort to confuse any fan who attempts to score the game, especially in Tampa where you won't be able to tell that, yes, it's Nick Swisher warming up in the bullpen.

I think this is overkill. Honoring Jackie should be a privilege and a voluntary act. It could even be restricted to one or two players per team which would make it an honor in and of itself. You'd head out to the ballpark in April every year and say, "Hey, remember last year when Curtis Granderson wore number 42 to honor Jackie? I wonder who it's gonna be this year." With every player wearing the number, it seems more like overkill.

Retiring the number across baseball was a great and bold move that showed the game's commitment to forward-thinking ideas while admitting its past missteps. When Ken Griffey Jr. petitioned Selig to allow players to wear #42 once a year, it was a conscientious action by one of the sport's most accomplished players. But making this honor wash over the entirety of baseball only serves to cheapen the respect and reverence that we all have for Jackie. It just seems forced.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Cavalier92)

At the very first regular season game at Citi Field, a LolCat ran onto field. Hilarity ensued.


Gary Sheffield later skinned and ate the cat, as is his wont.

UPDATE: as requested by Matt_T, here is the video accompanied by Yakety Sax.

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you took another pour:

Pirates 7, Astros 0: Zach Duke unleashed his fingers of fury on the baseball, and the baseball responded. Fella went the full nine without allowing a single Astro to cross home plate and cheering up the Pittsburgh crowd during the home opener. It was also a day that saw both teams honor fallen Pittsburgh policemen with special hats. Nice gesture, guys.

White Sox 10, Tigers 6: THIS! IS! COMERICA! Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko marked a similar milestone as both hit their 300th career tater tots, back-to-back at that. Zach Miner allowed the historical homers and took the loss, while Gavin Floyd notched a win despite giving up six runs in five innings. If that's not proof enough that the "win" statistic is overrated, then I got nothing for you.

Phillies 9, Nationals 8: Washington's pursuit of 162 losses continues in Nationals Park, as the Nats opened up their home schedule by getting bumped by the rival Phillies. Reliever Saul Rivera futzed up a tie game in the seventh by plunking two batters before allowing a three-run homer to Ryan Howard. Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino also ding-donged.

Padres 6, Mets 5: The Mets officially christened Citi Field with a loss to the Padres. Did you expect any less? Jody Gerut hit the first homer in Citi Field history, Adrian Gonzalez hit the second, and Pedro Feliciano balked in Luis Rodriguez with the would-be winning run, moving San Diego to an NL West best 6-2 record. But hey, David Wright notched a huge dong that let Mets fans witness the hilarious oversized home run apple for the first time. Good for him.

Dodgers 11, Giants 1: Orlando Hudson cycled and Andre Ethier added two homers as Los Angeles was victorious in their home opener against Randy Johnson and the Gints. Randy's teammate and knitting bee partner Barry Zito was displeased with the results, but will take a day and reset.

Rays a lot, Yankees a little: When Nick Swisher is called on to pitch the eighth inning, you know things have gotten out of hand.

Tonight's Questions

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That's all we got for today, kids. /turns out pockets, lint falls out. Please join us tonight for the ol' podcast, though, and we'll do our best to tickle your collective fancy.

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One winner that Rob left out of his earlier post has to be Seattle's first place Mariners. Opening up the season on the road they went 5-2 including a 3 game sweep at Oakland. We liked to take some shots at Seattle fans and writers last year, but it could not have been easy following that team. They were out of it from the jump, and the negativity flowed through the entire organization.

But fresh blood at GM and Manager and a semblance of competitiveness has some people feeling their oats up there. Geoff Baker titled yesterday's post, "Cautious Optimism Brimming" which, for him, is the equivalent of sucking on a nitrous balloon and then shooting a huge sparkly rainbow out of his ears while singing showtunes.

Over the weekend, our boys at U.S.S. Mariner wondered how long it will take for the whole fanbase to jump back into the fray.

The first six games couldn't have gone much better for the M's. There's a pretty good chance they head into their first day off at 5-2, and look at adding Ichiro to a first place roster.

I'm curious to see how long it takes Seattle to get excited about this team. There was so much cynicism about the M's ownership, and expectations were low heading into the season. How long do they have to play well until people start to realize that they may have underestimated this group?

They realize it'll take more than a week, as does new Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik. It's a long haul, only a few games, long way to go etc, etc, ad nauseum.

But if I was an M's fan I'd be genuinely stoked about getting this season off on a such a positive note. Of course you can't win a pennant in one week, but you can set the tone and show people that this team is at least worth watching. Having your expectations exceeded is a great feeling for a sports fan, and Seattle baseball had less than none after that toxic 2008. That emotional turnaround alone will make their summer approximately 5,000,000 times better.

Manny Ramirez Loves Cleveland For Sentimental Reasons

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Even though Manny Ramirez had only one suitor all offseason, it didn't matter to him. He wanted to retire a Dodger! Remember, he told us that last year when he went there. You know unless the Yankees wanted him. But otherwise, for sure, he wants to retire a Dodger. Unless he can retire with the Indians. And bring along Jim Thome. Then he'll do that instead.

"I would like to play for Cleveland one more time, to go back where I started," said Ramirez, with the Dodgers playing their home opener Monday against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. "I have so many good memories there, why not?

Ramirez, 37, who spent the first 10 years of his career in the Indians organization, shared his sentiments this spring with Chicago White Sox DH Jim Thome.

"Manny was very sincere when he brought that up to me," Thome said. "Manny was saying how special that would be for us to both go back together. He was very passionate. Baseball's such a weird thing. You never know what's going to happen."

Good quotes, all of them. But nothing beats this final headscratcher.

"I love L.A. I really do. But the way the city responded to me, it reminded me a lot of how it was in Cleveland."

That quote is so crazy I'm not even going to attempt to deconstruct it. Well that, and because I think I know exactly what he's talking about. It may be that in making many of my own personal choices that I am very similar to Manny Ramirez. And I have no idea how that makes me feel.

Harry Kalas Taken To Hospital

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Not good news out of DC. Harry Kalas was found passed out in the Press Box and taken to the Hospital. No other details at this time, but Harry has had a series of health issues over the past year. We wish him the best, and hope that all is well.

UPDATE @ 2PM: As per Todd Zolecki, Harry Kalas has passed on. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Kalas family and to the entire Phillies family. It is a sad week around baseball.

The Late Singer: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: The Tigs are coming off a three game home sweep of the Rangers. They must have been drawing off the goodwill engendered by Mike Illitch giving out free advertisiting at Comerica Park. Mikey dude, give us a Walkoff Walk concession stand! Gavin Floyd faces Zach Miner.

  • 1:35, Astros at Pirates: Houston opens up a three game dealie in Pittsburgh. Normally this would seem a surefire pickmeup after losing 5 of your first 6, but it still seems to early to tell whether or not the Astros are actually much better than the Pirates. Brian Moehler got murdered in his first start, but has risen to make his second start. Zach "Morris Patty" Duke goes for the home opening Buccos.

  • 2:20, Rockies at Cubs: It's Roxtapril. Whoooooo! They're sending You Baldo to the hill to face Ted Lilly in the Cubs home opener. And just in time, Obscure Store and Reading Room brings you more dead goat news. Apparently someone hung a dead goat off of the Harry Caray statue outside the park. To any of our Chicago readers: go grab that thing, we'll make curry.

  • 3:05, Phillies at Nationals: It's the home opener for baseball's worst team and Chico Harlan's ambivalence is so thick you could stab it with a letter opener. And, lots of good tickets are still available! Sheesh. Moyer for the visitors and Cabrera for the unloved home team. In any case the Nats better watch out because the Phillies are traveling with some sort of angry wolf that is attacking other teams.

  • 4:05, Giants at Dodgers: An afternoon home opener in the Southern California sun? Yes, please. Randy Johnson goes for the Giants and has owned the Dodgers during his various stints in the senior circuit. Chad Billingsley will face a San Francisco lineup that's who we thought they were. 8 runs total in their 4 losses.
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What better way to evaluate a week of baseball than to reward the lucky few who have performed over their heads and to shame the select few who underperformed during an extremely small sample size! Onto the listicle!

Winners:

  • Blue Jays offense: With six-and-a-half runs scored per game, Toronto's tremendously underrated lineup is making me eat my words just one week into the season. Jason Giambi's third cousin thrice removed Adam Lind leads the team with three tater tots and a hefty 1.186 OPS while five regulars are hitting above .300 so far. And yes, all these stats still count despite facing the poorly-stocked pitching staffs of the Tigers and Indians.

  • Royals pitchers: The team has allowed just 19 runs over the first week, led by starters Gil Meche, Zach Greinke, Sidney Ponson, and Kyle Davies, who have combined for a tidy 2.45 ERA and a 3.2 K/BB ratio. They'll need to keep their run prevention skills up if the team wants to succeed. Their offense has produced just 14 runs in six games.

  • Nick Swisher: Considered to be an afterthought once the Yankees acquired Mark Teixeira and the sad loser in the right field battle to Xavier Nady, Swish has made the most of his substitute job by collecting eight hits in 17 at-bats, including two happy jacks, three doubles and a triple. He leads the majors with a 1.668 OPS over the first week and leads the league in praise from hack New York media writers for his cheerful attitude.

  • Josh Johnson: Just a handful of pitchers made two starts last week but Johnson outshone them all, going 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA and 15 strikeouts against just one walk. He out-dueled Johan Santana yesterday and, despite struggling to finish the game out with 21 pitches in the ninth inning, notched a complete game.

Losers:

  • The Washington Nationals: The last winless team in the majors got swept by the Marlins and the Braves, and open their ballpark today with some of the most hideous looking artwork you'll ever encounter outside a baseball stadium, save for famous Red Sox fan Homeless Johnny's fecal fingerpaintings on Yawkey Way. The Nats are allowing opponents to score 7.5 runs per game, a trend that, if continued, will make any comer look like the 2008 Tigers.

  • Houston Astros "offense": They've scored just 16 runs in the first week including yesterday's shutout at the hands of one Kyle Lohse, and they've managed just one win, a 3-2 squeaker over the Cubbies thanks to the stellar pitching of Wandy Rodriguez. This is not a team built for power, nor speed, nor pitching, nor frugality.

  • Kyle Farnsworth: He brought his swagger but forgot his out pitch. Despite striking out the side in his second appearance on Friday against the Yanks, his first appearance was a tough pill for Royals fans to swallow. He gave up 4 hits and three runs in blowing a save against the ChiSox last Tuesday, then ran over three kittens while driving home from the park.

  • Jimmy Rollins: Jimmy's got a Corey Pattersonesque .167 OBP in the leadoff slot and zero extra base hits after just one week. He's got the worst OPS in baseball among folks with 20 PAs (.274), has zero stolen bases (probably because he's been on base just four times) and is alleged to not have expressed any sympathies for the kittens killed by Kyle Farnsworth. Shame, Jimmy.
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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when you came to the right place:

Angels 5, Red Sox 4: This was the first weekend of real baseball and I watched exactly none of it. Shame, because I missed the first heated bench-clearing tussle. Josh Beckett sailed a high hard one over Bobby Abreu's head and fella took UMBRAGE. Benches cleared, glares were exchanged, and sneers were shot; in the end, nobody got hurt and the Angels won. Fast fact: Jacoby Ellsbury hasn't made an error in 179 straight games, a new Red Sox record for outfielders. He's the Yo Yo Ma of tracking down baseballs.

Reds 2, Pirates 0: Triple plays are so fascist. Aaron Harang threw a 108-pitch shutout which still counts even against the Pirates and Brandon Phillips' two run ding-dong was big enough to feed the entire clubhouse. It's the miracle of the multiplication of the chocolate pastry metaphors! Efficiency was Harang's friend in this contest because God only knows that Dusty Baker wouldn't have pulled him from a shutout performance regardless of the pitch count. The free-swinging Pirates were also kind; nine strikeouts against zero walks will get you home in time for pizza rustica.

Padres 6, Giants 1: What's eating Tim Lincecum? No really, he's got teeth marks on his ankle and his doppleganger avatar has been missing for ten days. Timmy gave up four runs in five innings including Chase Headley's second happy jack of the year. Padres catcher Nick Hundley went 4-for-4, the first time a San Diego catcher collected four hits since Benito Santiago picked four out of five right in Powerball last year.

Mariners 1, Athletics 0: In a game shorter than every single Ron Howard movie ever and with fewer hits than Guy Ritchie's career, Erik Bedard and David Aardsma (new closer alert?!?) combined to shut out the Oakland A's. Bedard and Trevor Cahill went head-to-head with zeroes for a bit until Mike Sweeney drove in the game's only run in the seventh. Manager Don Wakamatsu praised Bedard, calling his performance "exceptionally good, especially the part where he prevented the other team from crossing home plate which would have allowed them to put runs on the board and possibly put us behind in that oh-so-important game category that decides who is victorious and who goes home to a fat wife and queer children."

Marlins 2, Mets 1: The Marlins are good y'all.

Your Abridged Easter Post

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There is just too much going this weekend. Full slate of baseball games, the Masters, and two families worth of relatives to ignore and insult. Who has the time?? I'll make time dammit, time to highlight yesterday's heroes and today's match ups to watch. It's Easter, and I'm selfless like that.

Saturday's Studs

Roy Halladay: The first place Blue Jays got a typically dominant start out of their ace. 7 innings, 1 run, 7 strikeouts, only 7 base runners. The Jays bullpen made it interesting, but Halladay stood tall during the battle of last year's Cy Young finalists.

Jake Peavy: Peavy was Saturday's king, striking out 10 and pitching into the 9th inning. He didn't walk a soul in leading his Padres to a win, their fourth of the year. 4 wins in April puts the Pads 3 weeks ahead of last year's pace.

CC Sabathia: Another Opening Day starter making good during his second appearance of the year. CC struck out 6 in 7.2 innings, didn't walk a soul and prolonged Hank Steinbrenner's life by at least 5 days.

Albert Pujols: King Dong, Triple Tot - all in a day's work for Albert. This up-and-comer is OPSing 1.443 so far this season, I think he's one to watch.

Hank White: Albert Pujols don't have shit on Henry Blanco; who took Jonathan Sanchez deep twice while catching Peavy's gem. Good for you Henri Blanche, give'em hell.

Alfonso Soriano: He might not have clouted two dingers like some others (Jason Bay, Mike Napoli) but Soriano lead everybody in one thing yesterday: WPA. His two run homer in the ninth brought the Cubbies form behind against the Brewers. Good for you Alfonso, way to make use of that precious leverage.

Today's Sweet Matchups

While most team's aces took make their second starts yesterday; many studs remain to entertain us today.

Lincecum v. Young: The ever-popular "study in contrasts." Tall and fly bally takes on little and strike-outish. The Giants wee ace got knocked around on Opening Day while Chris Young turned in a good start in his first outing.

Santana v. Johnson: The Florida Marlins will not be denied. Coming into this season with equal parts darkhorse and sketpicism; here they are in first place. Johan was underwhelming but effective last time out, but he's a slow starter so we'll give him a break. Josh Johnson was a ground ball and strikeout machine against the Nationals earlier this week, so I'll wait to see what he does against a real team before I pass judgment.

Chamberlain v. Meche: Is Gil Meche a legit ace? He's a pretty good pitcher, if that's worth anything. Joba makes his first start of the year after an excellent spring? If at any point today he retires 16 batters in a row as he did during his final spring start, he'll be okay.

Man the Brooms!

How's looking to sweep the first weekend series of the year? The Yankees, Jays, Orioles, Tigers, Mariners, Braves, Cardinals, and Padres are all poised to pwn. Should be a good day. Watch some afternoon baseball, slip in some Masters (booo Chad Campbell) and enjoy an Easter dinner if that's your thing.

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Can you believe it's the first weekend of the season? Last night's pious games reaffirmed my faith even though you won't let me go home.

LA Angels 6, Red Sox 3: An emotional night in California as the Angels took the field for the first time since Thursday's horrific incident. The team unveiled a large centerfield banner to honor the young pitcher. Beating the Red Sox may seem like small consolation to Adenhart's roommate Jered Weaver, but as they've been saying ad nauseum, the games go on. Seattle's vaunted defense kicked it around Alameda county but the M's still won. Whatever.

Brewers 4, Cubs 3: Ladies and gentleman, the Kevin Gregg era is upon us. Two walks, two hits, and a fielder's choice were all it took to undo Rich Harden's dominant start. The Creampuff-in-waiting struck out 10 brewmasters, giving up only 1 earned run. The Cubs closer controversy starts today, the first day of the rest of Carlos Marmol's life. The season can officially begin now: Mike Hampton took his first loss! Not content with his legacy of poor health, Hampton seems determined to remind us all that he's kinda crappy as well as injury-prone.

Blue Jays 13, Indians 7: The Blue Jays offense worsened the crap out of another Central division foe, this time with a four hour rain delay thrown in for good measure. Major League RBI Leader Adam Lind added four more, including an opposite field home run that gave the Jays a crazy game. Brandon League got the win despite hitting a batter to walk in the tying run, only throwing 2 strikes and generally sucking. Which is why we don't use wins any more kids. The Yankees ruined the reopening of Kaufman Stadium by beating the new Rays 4-1. Nick Swisher continued to swing the bat well, driving in a couple between Henny Youngman routines in the clubhouse. "Evan Longoria's two tots weren't enough to get the Rays past Mark Hendrickson and the O's" is a sentence I didn't think I'd ever write. But here I am, and there the O's are with a winning record.

Rockies 10, Phillies 3: Cole Hamels first start of the year idealy would have come at home on the first day of the year. Instead he took to the rubber in Colorado and get shelled. 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings is no way for a World efffing Champion to start the season friends. Troy Tulowitzki continued his torrid start with a triple and a walk. Sophomore slumps are hard ya'll! The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers thanks to young Chris Young's breakout game. 3 for 3 with a tot and a double sparked the Snakes in this divisional battle.

That's all for this morning peoples. Enjoy your Easter or Passover and things, just remember to enjoy the bevy of day games today. The AL Cy Young winner takes on Cliff Lee in Cleveland this afternoon, which figures to be quite the battle. We get our first Colon & Livan sightings of the spring; they're sure to see their own shadows, but no word on their toes. Can CC bounce back against the youthful Royals? Jonathon Sanchez's first start of the year against Jake Peavy and the Friars should be one to watch, he's on the cusp of awesomeness. Find those eggs!

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, your hometown misses you.

  • WILL the Angels or the Red Sox leave this weekend still under .500? I wasn't around yesterday so I didn't get a chance to talk about how sad, sad, sad and awful that Nick Adenhart thing was. So I'm saying it now.

  • WILL the Cubs/Crew series be a good one? Harden goes tonight and he's ur NL Cy Young pick. Let's hope he gets off to a good, and healthy, start.

  • CAN the Royals continue their winning ways? The Yankees are in town. Orioles, Royals, I think after this series New York plays the Washington Generals.

  • SOMETIMES in the morning are you petrified and can't move?
  • AWAKE but cannot open your eyes?

  • YOU know that Trolley Dodgers/Snakes is the series of the weekend, don't you?

Friends, I know some of you have your Easters and your Passovers this weekend. I wish wellness to you and your families. And as a sports loving nonbeliever, it's actually my biggest holiday of the year. It's Masters weekend! Per my tradition, I'll be at an undisclosed location miles away from my phone and computer tuned in and zoned out while watching some championship golf. Green jackets, green grass and green.

Lloyd got your weekend. Nobody does it better. Nobody does it even half as good as him. Baby, he's the best. See you Monday, pals. Same WoW channel.

(Stellar photo of Wrigley Foul Pole taken from Wallyg's flickrstream.)

Rock The Bronx - 1993

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Today's Classic TV could be summed up in one word: whatabunchofidiots. It starts off all sweet with Mel Allen doing his This Week In Baseball thing (sidenote: there may not be a single television show I miss more than TWIB) then unravels. Quickly. A band called Deficit fronted by "actor/rocker" Larry Romano rattles off a list of their favorite Yankees over a sub-Licensed To Ill shitriff.

"So here we are in 1993 the boys are back, baby. We've got Jimmy Key and Jimmy Abbott"

"Showalter at the helm, Boggs, Owen and Velarde around the horn."

No wonder they were so excited. What a team! You'll like this video but you'll be so much dumber for having watched it. Please to enjoy

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPG Will also not be seen today. I just got back to Boston last night. That was one hell of a homecoming party. I'm gonna find y'all a Classic TV Friday though.

The Yankees' one hundred sixty-one million dollar man CC Sabathia can recover in luxury after his various wins and losses in his brand new palatial home in Alpine, NJ:

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Fella spent almost 10 percent of his new contract to buy the 12,000 square foot six-bedroom house situated in the same neighborhood as other celebrities Sean Combs, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and Chris Rock.

Unfortunately, Alpine is too far from my town for us to share a Whole Foods.

Baseball Before Bedtime...

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...will not be seen today so that we may bring you...um...absolutely nothing in its stead. Talk amongst yourselves.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, do you like fishsticks?

Be back here tomorrow, same WoW channel, for your predetermined Friday favorites. Until then I bid you good night.

(Photo obtained from the Flickr stream of Nick Hall)

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Sometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across. Today, we've dispensed with the usual mumbo-jumbo and will direct you to the most interesting Nick Adenhart posts today:

  • Rich Lederer reprints his interview with Nick from a few years back. Baseball Analysts.

  • Mariners beat writer Larry Stone mourns the poor Angels franchise which has lost too many players in their prime. The Hot Stone League.

  • Rev Halofan honors Adenhart's memory by relating an Angels fan's relationship with every Angels player. Halos Heaven.

  • Dodgers players remember competing against Adenhart in rookie ball and the California League. Inside the Dodgers.

  • Rays manager Joe Maddon expresses sympathy for Nick. Rays Report.

  • New blogger Patrick reflects on a young life lost too soon. Knuckle Curve Semi-Drop.

  • White Sox players remember being the first team that Nick Adenhart beat last year. Tribune Hardball.

  • Yankees players are stunned, too. Mark Feinsand.

  • ESPN Radio guy Beto Duran takes a somber picture at the press conference. DuranLA's Twitter.

The Great Figure: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Mets at Reds: The Mets bullpen was shaky but ultimately shut the door last night, ensuring that no matter what happens for the next 5 years I'll probably mention them every single time I talk about the team. Odalis Perez takes on Bronson Arroyo and his carpal tunnel syndrome in today's getaway game. Remember how hot Kim Basinger was?

  • 12:37, Tigers at Blue Jays: Both starting pitchers in this game are making their MLB debut. That's only happened 18 other times since 1901, so that's something. It's always special to have more than one first in the same day. Like smoking angel dust for the first time on the same day you go to jail for the first time.

  • 1:10. Mariners at Twins: Jarrod Washburn is still kicking his game and collecting them checks. He'll be facing Glen Perkins the man with the name that sounds like he should be featured on my other website. The Twins smacked the ball all over the place last night, and Washburn has given up a few dingers in his day. The Twins could easy take 3 our of 4 in this opening series.

  • 1:35, Yankees at Orioles: So did the Yankees fire Girardi yet? AJ Burnett makes his Yankee debut today will try and get his new employers off the schneid. Schneeeeiiiiiid. Ha. Say it. Schneid. Alfredo Simon goes for the Orioles and is easily my favorite way to prepare Simon, beating out Simon Piccata, Simon Marsala and Simon Cacciatore.

  • 1:35, Rays at Red Sox: The Tampa bullpen, which we're all expecting to regress this year, didn't last night. They held off a late Sox rally. Today is Garza vs. Matsuzaka, bringing the fragile peace that comes with a Garzaless Winter to an abrupt end. At least they're not dragging along that clown Johnny Gomes anymore.

  • 1:40, Pittsburgh at St. Louis: I watched a replay of the final round of the 1986 Masters last night. Greg Norman played awful under pressure, as was his wont. Then this morning I saw highlights of him in the Par 3 challenge. He's married to Chris Evert now and they both look like pieces of jerky. Sunscreen, people. I mention this because Chris Carpenter makes his first regular season start since 1986 for the Cardinals today. Norman choked again in '87 and Larry Mize won. He was a huge dork. He dressed ridiculous even for a golfer and during his post 3rd round interview talked about going back to his hotel and taking some muscle relaxers. I love the Masters so much.

  • 2:05, Indians at Rangers: The Indians got another lousy start in Texas last night and fixing shit falls into the trembling delicate hands of one Carl Pavano. Not all of the history is at Rogers Centre today. You know this actually the first time Pavano and Carpenter have pitched on the same day since 1901.

  • 2:05, Royals at White Sox: Davies vs. Jenks for all the frozen custard. Zack Greinke was stellar last night and even caused a little drama for your mama by drilling Carlos Quentin in the back with a fastball. Keep an eye on that one today. A brawl could really perk up your afternoon.

  • 3:35, Dodgers at Padres: Clayton Kershaw makes his 2009 debut and Kevin Correia goes for the Padres. The Dodgers can take 3 of 4 with a win today which can only mean one thing: Larry Mize will win the 2009 Masters.
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As per TMZ.com, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed last night in a hit and run accident in Fullerton, CA, after pitching in last night's game:

Cops say someone driving a minivan blew through a red light, causing the Mitsubishi that Adenhart was riding in to hit a light pole. Three people were killed in the crash, including Nick.

Cops say the person driving the van fled the scene -- but was later caught and charged with felony hit-and-run. The suspect is currently being treated for injuries in a local hospital.

This is the saddest thing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Adenhart's family and the entire Angels organization.

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That camera-friendly guy sure knows the score. Check out his Irish-themed Viking hat, his neck brace, and his fancy penmanship. Yes, he will be joining us at the Citizens Bank Heist in July. Photo courtesy of liveglogger extraordinaire D-Mac.

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While scanning the AP's list of top ten team payrolls , one team name sticks out like Chipper Jones' sore thumb among the usual big spenders like the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox. Yes, at nearly $103 million spent on various over-the-hill spare parts, the Houston Astros have the eighth highest team payroll in the big leagues this year. That's higher than four teams who made the playoffs last year (the Dodgers, Brewers, White Sox and Rays) and higher than four teams who are certainly gunning for the '09 postseason (the Diamondbacks, Braves, Indians, and Cardinals). Besides the Rays, these are not small market struggling teams.

True, this is an Astros team that finished just four games out of the playoffs last year, but with no capable arms past Roy Oswalt in the rotation and a worsening offense, Houston fans have little to look forward to in '09. They played way over their head last year, winning 86 games despite being outscored by their opponents. If they come back down to earth, they'll finish with a losing record. If they fall even further, the 'Stros might duplicate the Mariners 2008 achievement of spending $100 million to lose 100 games.

Is that a brazen statement? Sure. But it's not nearly as brazen as Ed Wade's recklessness with money since taking over as Astros GM nineteen months ago. He's traded for a declining Miguel Tejada and traded away Luke Scott. He's traded for outmaking machine Michael Bourn and traded away Brad Lidge.

Via the incomparable Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's break down the wasteful ways the Astros increased their spending over the offseason:

  • Roy Oswalt: $13M to $14M = $1 million increase
  • Carlos Lee: $12M to $18.5M = $6.5 million increase
  • Jose Valverde: $4.7M to $8M = $3.3 million increase
  • Wandy Rodriguez: $450K to $2.6M = $2.55 million increase
  • Brian Moehler: $500K to $2.3M = $1.8 million increase
  • Mike Hampton: $0 to $2M = $2 million increase
  • Ivan Rodriguez: $0 to $1.5M = $1.5 million increase

Now, Carlos Lee's huge increase was built into his contract that he signed in 2006, while Valverde and Rodriguez's pay raises are due to that pesky arbitration process. And the two "big-name" free agents that Wade signed were worth the $3.5 million risk. But still: that's almost a $20 million increase among those seven players and the team didn't get a lick better. None of them are difference makers, except maybe Brian Moehler whose bad mojo might rub off on the rest of the pitching staff and make them worse.

To top it off, Houston owner Drayton McLane called for a $65 million salary cap this past December. Brilliant. He'd field the same sub-par team created by an incompetent general manager and pocket a cool $40 million extra towards his own tidy retirement plan. How about instead of a salary cap McLane breaks out a few sheckels and buys Ed Wade a dunce cap?

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday when she made these hidden rooms mine:

Phillies 12, Braves 11: It's not the biggest comeback in Phillies history but coming from down seven runs to beat the Braves on the day the team got their rings certainly stinks of kismet. Braves relievers walked in four Phillie runs in the pivotal eight-run seventh inning and Brad Lidge survived a Matt Diaz solo tater tot to get his first save of the season. It's also the Phillies first win of the year. The most important lesson of the day, though, was taught by the Coste Rules guy.

Marlins 6, Nationals 4: Dan Uggla's bases-clearing double broke a tie game and helped the Marlins sweep their opening series for the first time since 1997. Florida got a scare in the ninth inning as new closer Matt Lindstrom walked Adam Dunn with the bases juiced, but he retired Austin Kearns to finish Washington off. Nats starter Daniel Cabrera allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings, which is actually a quality start in the Daniel Cabrera oeuvre.

Royals 2, White Sox 0: Zach Greinke lived up to his potential and earned that contract extension by throwing six scoreless innings of three-hit ball while ninth-place hitter Mike Aviles scored twice. Kyle Farnsworth saw no work today which allowed Joakim Soria to have a real live save opportunity, in which he totally Mexicuted the ChiSox.

Twins 6, Mariners 5: Twins starter Kevin Slowey got roughed up for five runs over six innings (a certified Daniel Cabrera Quality Start) but still got the win. Richie Sexson Russell Branyan's first ding-dong of the year provided a little ding but not enough dong.

Pirates 7, Cardinals 4: Kris' pal Todd Wellemeyer allowed fifteen whopping baserunners in five innings. It's almost miraculous he only gave up five runs. Still, the Pirates toppled the Cards thanks to Nate McLouth's first tot of the year and Matt Capps solid two-out save. Andy La Roche was benched after committing three errors over the first two games; his replacement Ramon Vazquez got a walk and participated in a double play.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, put em in the sky.

Bang up job today everyone, especially Mr. McQuade for that glogging Tour De Force. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Class dismissed.

Same WoW Channel.

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Are you as pumped for the first businessperson's special of the year?!?! I know you are. Hi, I'm Dan McQuade, author of Way Back Base Ball (which I occasionally remember to turn in) and I'll be your guide during today's inevitable Phillies loss to the Atlanta Braves.

But don't fret! It's ring day for the Fightin' Phils, and we can be safe in the knowledge that one day, some young player from this team will sell his championship ring like Darren Daulton decided to; hopefully whoever does this (Kyle Kendrick?) down the road will be using the proceeds to finance a book about metaphysics.

Liveglog is after the jump, folks - Rob

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Don't people write letters to the editor anymore? From the Obscure Store and Reading Room comes this harrowing tail (lulz) of reader dissatisfaction at the Hillside Collegian newspaper in Michigan. After the sports department took a few poorly written swipes at the baseball team, the editor woke up to find a bunch of dead animals on his lawn. I didn't know Chipper Jones read that paper!

At about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning senior Nathanael Rea peered through his window at 242 N. West St. He grabbed his glasses.

"I thought they were shoveling snow," Rea said. "But they were using a shovel to carry the small dead animals."

Sunlight revealed a scene Hillsdale police patrolman Randy Casler said he's never witnessed: a slew of dead animals on the porch of 244 N. West St., including one and a half deer, several large rodents and a black goat with alleged gunshot wounds to the head and sternum. Under the goat, perpetrators placed a copy of the April 2 edition of The Collegian sports section. The main headline read "Lost in left field."

Here's the offending column. Sure, it reads more like an entry in a burn book than an actual editorial, but what else do you expect from a guy that can't tell the difference between snow and a deer corpse?

Still, Walkoff Walk would like to voice its disapproval of this gruesome scene. After spending a lot of time around sportswriters this Spring, I have to wonder about the efficacy of doing this. When it comes to most of the sportswriters I don't like, if I backed up my truck and dumped a bunch of carcasses on their lawn, they'd probably just eat them and send me a thank you card. I don't think it would get my point across.

Acid: Today's Afternoon games

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  • 12:10, Nats at Marlins: Jackie, get out the broom. It's in the hall closet behind your boots, your parka, your gloves and the snow shovel. The Marlins might need it for it's sweepability, suckas. They've amassed 20 runs in the past 2 games and today they get to face Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera didn't even have to sell his house after leaving Baltimore for DC. His commute is so easy he can just WALK. GET IT? BECAUSE HE HAS THE CONTROL OF 6 YEAR OLD AT A JONAS BROTHERS CONCERT.

  • 1:00, 40th Anniversary of Expos Debut: The Montreal Expos Twitter has not been contracted and will in fact be tweeting the play by play of the Expos first game in real time. After that on my Twitter page I'll be recapping the Battle of Little Bighorn.

  • 3:05, Braves at Phillies: The Braves rotation is mowing down Phillies hitters like a monkey in a banana factory. The Phillies hitters are getting plowed through like a vagrant in a garbage chute. Javy Vasquez gets his turn for the visiting Bravos and he'll have his dustpan at the ready. Bobby Cox "can't say enough good things" about Vasquez. Have you mentioned that he shines his taint with carnuba wax? That's attention to detail! D-Mac is going to glog this one for you all. I don't even know we do nice things like this for you ingrates. But we do.

  • 3:40, Rockies at Snakes: Today Arizona starter Doug Davis takes on an opponent even more sinister than the cancer he beat last year. Franklin Morales. Arizona done got blanked by You Baldo last night, just one day after hitting 5 home runs. How will they fare against Morales today? Well you didn't hear it from me, [whisper]but he's carrying a knife[/whisper]. So bet on stabbings and laughs!

Our Second Friendly Wager

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Remember last year when Rob and I bet on the Yankees/Red Sox series and I won and took it Rob like a month to pay up but then he finally did and took this amazing picture of himself in a Sox hat with the Youk sign? Of course you do. That was awesome. Well we're putting aside putting aside our biases and gamblin' again.

During Spring Training we were having one of our homer arguments and I said that Jon Lester would have a higher ERA+ than CC Sabathia for the 2009 season. And so the bet was made. Yes, I am wagering that the Red Sox #2 (maybe 3) starter will have a better number at the end of the year than the Yankees ace. Uh oh.

The stakes have been raised considerably this time around. Instead of just being photographed in the opposition's hat like last time, the loser of this bet will have to film himself singing Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" in the opposition's hat and upload it to YouTube.

It's on.

New closers are popping up everywhere! On Opening Day, two dudes got their first saves in their new roles: Kevin Gregg in his first appearance as a Cubbie and Chad Qualls who got promoted in the offseason to the Diamondbacks closer. Last night, three other fellas had their coming-out parties:

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Brad Ziegler was to share closer duties with teammate Joey Devine in 2009 but with Devine's chronic elbow problems turning him into a creampuff, Ziegler has the job to himself. Brad's the submarining dude who started his ML career with 39 consecutive scoreless innings last year, and last night he saved the A's win over the Angels by striking out Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter on seven pitches, including three nasty curveballs.

He's not new to the game of closing per say. Ziegler took over from Huston Street towards the end of last season and recorded eleven saves, but that was when the A's were already out of contention. April is the cruelest month for closers; blow a few now and you'll be put out to pasture faster than you can say "Dennis Eckersley isn't walking through that door".

Speaking of Huston Street, he's caught on as the new closer for the Rockies since being traded for Matt Holliday in the wintertime. He beat out Manny Corpas despite having a 5.23 springtime ERA; get ready for some fun-time, Rockies fans! Huston Street plus Coors Field plus razor-thin leads can't possibly end badly. No matter, last night he saved Ubaldo Jimenez' stellar start by retiring the heart of the D-Backs order in the ninth.

New Padres closer Heath Bell had perhaps the most difficult assignment last night. No, not saving the game. The Padres are going nowhere fast this year and could afford to tank a bit and improve their draft pick in 2010. No, Bell's biggest challenge was to pick a nifty tune to replace San Diego legend Trevor Hoffman's oeuvre "Hell's Bells" as his entrance music. Which actually kinda sucks, because a guy named Heath Bell should totally be allowed to use "Hell's Bells" as his song. Instead, Bell went with the Breaking Benjamin ditty "Blow Me Away" which I assume is a tacky nu-metal jawn....and yes, yes it is. (Thanks, Stew!).

If I were a major league closer, (a) I'd lose my job in less than 45 seconds and (b) I'd choose "Wall of Death" by Richard Thompson because that song totally rules.

(Nifty Brad Ziegler photo obtained through a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Kimberly)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were leaving with a broken heart:

White Sox 4, Royals 2: The Royals have one of the best relievers in the game in Joakim Soria, aka the Mexicutioner. They also have a decent southpaw reliever in Ron Mahay. So why, pray tell, was Kyle Farnsworth pitching to Lefty Jim Thome with two down and two on in the eighth inning? For comic relief? Farnsworth allowed the would-be game-winning three-run ding-dong (FOUR STRAIGHT HYPHENS! YAHTZEE!) to Thome and Royals manager Trey Hillman is left with his comically large hook untouched in the dugout.

Red Sox 5, Rays 3: Josh Beckett collected ten strikeouts while allowing but two hits over seven innings of work while Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek tater-totted. Rays starter James Shields had his fourth loss in four poor career starts at Fenway Park while ex-Red Sock Gabe Kapler received a hearty wilkommen from the Sox fans during introductions. Most exciting of all, Senator Ted Kennedy tossed out the first pitch after being escorted to the mound by newly-elected HOFer Jim Rice. You can't get much more New England than that if you had clam chowder pouring out your ass.

Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4: Rod Barajas had a chance to make us WoWies very happy, but with the bases juiced an the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, he flew out to deep center to score the winning run on a walkoff sac-fly. THATS NOT THE NAME OF OUR BLOG, ROD. Earlier in the top of the ninth, Brandon Inge hit a solo dong to knot the game at four but even earlier, Aaron Hill slammed a three-run tater tot off Brandon Lyon to put the Jays up. If I keep going backwards with this highlight, we'll end up on the Elysian Fields in oboken in 1846 and we'll all be wearing funny pantaloons. There was no booze sold at this game because Jays fans are naughty.

Braves 4, Phillies 0: Our faithful reader and commenter Matt_T was sad that Jair Jurrjens was pitching last night instead of Javy Vasquez, saying he wanted to enjoy watching Javy pitch on Tuesday night instead of being forced to miss his start this afternoon. Well good news, Matt_T. Not only did Jurrjens and the Braves 'pen shut out the vaunted Phillies offense, but that Javy start you so desperately wanted to enjoy will be liveglogged at this here blog today at 3PM! Also, good news for reader and commenter CHIPPER JONES, who slammed a solo tot in last night's game.

Twins 6, Mariners 5: Down by one run, Twins hitter Alexi Casilla lined a bases loaded single to center for the second walkoff of the night in the American League. Former Blue Jay closer and current soprano sax lover Miguel Batista blew the save.

Time 1, Matt Clement 0: The former Padre, ex-Marlin, one-time Cub, and legendary Red Sock pitcher Matt Clement has finally come face to face with his future outside of baseball. After not raising any eyebrows in his spring training stint with the Blue Jays, Clement and his wacky goatee will retire with an 87-86 career record and a league average 4.47 ERA. Hit the bricks, goatee boy.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I put some whiskey into my whiskey, and I put some heartache into my heart.

  • WOULD Jair Jurrens get the same satisfaction beating Jamie Moyer as you would beating your father in something? OLD PEOPLE JOKEZ.

  • HOW awesome is it that the apartment building that President Obama grew up in could be designated an historic landmark soon? Pretty damned awesome, if you ask me. It aint exactly Mt. Vernon or the place JFK was born in.

  • WILL Nick Blackburn come strong out of the gate against the Mariners or will the CTC Curse cause his arm to catch on fire?

  • WILL Major League Tater Tot Leaders Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark continue their march towards 200 Home Runs against You Baldo and the Rockies.

  • CAN the Tigers show a little more fight and not sustain a second straight blowout in Toronto? Edwin Jackson is on the mound and he's Bob Gibson, you know.

  • DID you visit your local independent music purveyor today? New Live stuff from the Hold Steady, new Doves, new Sunset Rubdown, and most radically, new Thermals. I haven't spent this much money at the record store since I met a hooker there.

That'll do it. What games are you all watching tonight? Talk about em down here in the comments for those of us that are having a hard time finding any to watch. Sheesh.

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.

  • Our pal 'Duk grabs one of the most intriguing guest bloggers around to do a recurring guest post. Detroit Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson will be writing The Grandstand on a semi-regular basis. Let's hope he gives a shoutout to The Big Tilde blog. Big League Stew.

  • Hey, remember the 1991 World Series? Wezen-ball does, and tracks down the pre-season predictions for the Braves and Twins, both coming off last-place finishes. Keep your hopes high, Orioles fans! Not you, Nationals fans. Wezen-ball.

  • Remember when Chipper Jones was drafted #1 overall in 1990? GM-Carson does. Check out the pitchers drafted #1 a year before and a year after ol' Chip. Whoops! More Hardball.

  • Johan Santana has a personalized and unique handshake for each member of the Mets squadron. He's afraid of furries so he has no special handshake for Mr. Met. Mets Blog.

  • Jerkwheat is a rational fan. The Big Tilde.

  • Gary Dexter explains how the book All Quiet on the Western Front got its title. Did you know that Erich Remarque was sharing a flat with Leni Riefenstahl when he wrote the novel? That's like Johan Santana and Mr. Met sharing a loft apartment in Queens. How Books Got Their Titles.

You want to be featured in the Linkpunch? Write well, or put together a nifty video, or capture a funny picture. Otherwise, hit the bricks.

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Hey Mets fans, excited to see your first regular season Saturday game this weekend on the ol' television box? Well tough noogies, because the rapper Flo Rida doesn't want you to see the first three innings. As per Mets Blog:

FOX has an exclusive window for all Saturday games taking place prior to 7 pm, meaning only FOX can broadcast during that window.

Meanwhile, the Marlins scheduled this Saturday's game against the Mets for 6 pm, one hour early, to accommodate a post-game concert by Flo Rida.

So while the game is going on between 6PM and 7PM, it won't be on any television, anywhere, not even on this nifty new MLB.TV service I signed up for today. But hey, it's only a Mets game so I ain't cryin.

Oh wait, I get it, Flo Rida...Florida...makes sense to me now. What doesn't make sense is why someone would knowingly rip off Dead or Alive's "Right Round".

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Unfurled)

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And finally, the AL Central reveals it's last two teams. Some have complained that all the teams in this division are so similarly mediocre that it's impossible to pick a frontrunner, but uncertainty is exciting right? Spin the wheel, turn the bingo ball holder thing, see what comes out. Bear with me here, I'm trying to pump myself up.

Yes, it's the Tom Gamboa Memorial Classic, and Gil Meche and Mark Buehrle are your first game aces. Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs make their debut for the Royals. Just imagine the history that comes with putting on that uniform for the first time. GOOSEBUMPS.

Apparently Steve Phillips says some people are picking the Royals to win the division. If you wanna hear us joke about that listen to the podcast.

ROYALSWHITE SOX
Coco Crisp, CFDeWayne Wise, CF
David DeJesus, LFChris Getz, 2B
Mark Teahen, 2BCarlos Quentin, LF
Jose Guillen RFJim Thome, DH
Mike Jacobs, 1BJermaine Dye, RF
Billy Butler, DHPaul Konerko, 1B
Alex Gordon, 3BA.J. Pierzynski, C
Miguel Olivo, CAlexei Ramirez, SS
Mike Aviles, SSJosh Fields, 3B

Attention All White Cocks Fans!

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Via the highly followable Big League Stew Twitter comes what is unquestionably the funniest White Sox related blooper of 2009. Even funnier than hitting DeWayne Wise leadoff.

Put it on ice!

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Rays at Red Sox, 4:05PM

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After yesterday's rainout, these two teams finally open their 2009 season with a rematch of last year's ALCS. The Red Sox have won 3 of their last 4 against the Rays.

James Shields takes the mound for the AL Champs. Shields has had two good years but really pitched himself into the Ace role last season, striking out exactly 4 guys for each one he walked. He's not as famous as Scott Kazmir or as annoying as Matt Garza but he's their #1. Pat Burrell makes his Rays debut. Hide that World Series ring, buddy.

For the Red Sox it's the Josh Beckett. You can't spell Ambassador without Badass. Beckett looked good in camp, but more importantly looked healthy. NO JINX NO JINX.

There's still a 40% chance of rain this afternoon so keep your fingers crossed if you have a ticket.

RAYSRED SOX
BJ Upton, CFJacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LFDustin Pedroia, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3BDavid Ortiz, DH
Carlos Pena 1BKevin Youkilis, 1B
Pat Burrell, DHF.S.S.J.D. Drew, RF
Gabe Gross, RFJason Bay, LF
Dioner Navarro, CMike Lowell, 3B
Aki Iwamura, 2BJason Varitek, C
Jason Bartlett, SSJed Lowrie, SS
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What, you thought Opening Day lasted only one day? P'shaw, let the kiddies who didn't play a game yesterday have their time to shine. Today, the Giants and the Brewers open their 2009 campaign at Renameable Telecom Park out in San Fran. Expect chilly weather, y'all!

The focus of attention in this game is Tim Lincecum, who has finally become a real boy after an entire offseason spent as an avatar. The reigning NL Cy Young wiener is a force to be reckoned with, but Brewers beat blogger Tom Haudricourt reminds us that the Brew Crew has had success against Tim in the past: he's just 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA against the squad. Ryan Braun has two career dongs against the fella.

The Brewers counter with 52-year-old journeyman and restaurateur Jeff Suppan, who once saw a Cy Young award at Pedro Martinez' Labor Day barbecue in '03.

BREWERSGIANTS
Rickie Weeks, 2BRandy Winn, RF
Corey Hart, RFEdgar Renteria, SS
Ryan Braun, LFFred Lewis, LF
Prince Fielder, 1BBengie Molina, C
J.J. Hardy, SSPablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Cameron, CFTravis Ishikawa, 1B
Bill Hall, 3BAaron Rowand, CF
Jason Kendall, CEmmanuel Burris, 2B
Jeff Suppan, SPTim Lincecum, SP

Like I said last night, the Giants entire offensive hopes rest on a breakout season from Pablo Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa. Barry Bonds is not walking through that door because his head cannot fit under the lintel.

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Cincinnati and Baltimore suffered rain delays, St. Louis fans were chilly, and Boston and Chicago saw their best-laid opening day plans get washed away. But screw you, Mother Nature, you cannot and did not ruin this fan's excitement on the first day of real live competitive baseball. I know what it's like to have inclement weather poop on my parade. Just last year, I drove all the way to Yankee Stadium just to turn around and head home when the rains came down, but returned the next night and still got my share of pomp and ceremony. Opening Day is Opening Day, whether or not your game gets rescheduled, or a massive cable network airs a real game the night before, or teams have already played a three game series half a world away.

It was nice to get home from work and flip around the free preview of Extra Innings to catch several different games, and even better to put on the MLB Network to watch an entire two hour show devoted to whipping around the majors. Al Leiter, Matt Vasgersian, and Harold Reynolds are still a bit rough around the edges but with the chance to show live look-ins AND highlights at the same time, how could they fail? I don't really care that Vasgersian's most basic attempts at humor still went right over Reynolds' head. There's no ego and no dolt in that studio. I appreciate that.

Yesterday, we saw Felix Hernandez and Johan Santana play the role of hero, and we saw Brandon Webb and Aaron Cook play the role of zero. We even saw CC Sabathia eat a gyro, which might explain why his fastballs were all coated with tzatziki sauce. We saw Felipe Lopez and Franklin Gutierriez slam ding-dongs while Justin Morneau and Mark Teixeira did nothing. It's only one day, small sample size, yada yada. But really, whether you feel excited about your favorite team's win or devastated about your favorite team's loss, at least you feel something today. That's because yesterday's games counted, and that's all that matters.

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were pretty sure you saw Troy from West Virginia's peas and carrot:

Rangers 9, Indians 1: Reigning Cy Young wiener Cliff Lee got smacked around while frequent whipping boy Kevin Millwood was stellar. Doth this speaketh more of the pitchers' respective characters or more towards the adeptness of the respective lineups? Me thinks the Rangers are made for power while the Indians are made for...um...not doing well. Hank Blalock smacked a three-run tater tot and Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a dong of his own. Young stud Elvis Andrus had a hit and a run and participated in two double plays. Hey, the Rangers made no errors!

Mets 2, Reds 1: Neither Johan Santana nor Aaron Harang were dominant, but their opposing offenses (apart from Daniel Murphy's solo happy jack) did nothing spectacular and the game ended with a low score. Santana and Harang combined to allow seven walks over ten innings; Johan's seven K's helped his cause. Make that eighteen straight starts for the Mets ace without a loss. Also, the Mets bullpen was nearly flawless: in 3 and 1/3 innings, only J.J. Putz allowed a baserunner and that was with a walk. Frankie said relax and got the save.

Pirates 6, Cardinals 4: Not every team performed well with their new closer. New Cards closer Jason Motte shit the bed in St. Louis, coming on with a two-run lead in the top of the ninth and leaving with a two-run deficit. The Pirates loaded the bases, tied the game, and took the lead on a two-out double by Jack Wilson. Motte's final line: 1 IP, 4 H, 1 HBP, 4 ER, 1 blown save, 50,000 Cardinals fans' hearts broken.

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 8: We all wanted a pitchers duel between Brandon Webb and Aaron Cook. We all got a tater tot parade and a back-and-forth run-splosion that ended in Arizona's favor. Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark became the first teammates to stroke dongs from both sides of the plate (kinky!) in the same game since Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams. Chad Tracy won it all in the seventh with his own solo tot off former Tigers reliever Jason Grilli. Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith hit solo homers for the Rockies to complete the full day of ding-dongs.

Orioles 10, Yankees 5: Small sample size! Slow starts! Someone save Sabathia!

Also, the Jays crushed the Tigers behind Adam Lind's 6 RBI, Ken Griffey's eighth career Opening Day homer led the Mariners to a win over the Twins, and Carlos Zambrano and Hiroki Kuroda pitched well in victorious fashion.

I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate our commenter The Colonel for winning the Walkoff Walk NCAA Tournament Pick 'Em Pool. I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that I finished ahead of Kris.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, hold it right there.

Well that was a fun day. There was a tight one in Cincinnati, HR hitting contests in Arizona and Florida and a late emerging nail biter in Baltimore. And the Red Sox and Rays didn't even play yet.

Enjoy the basketball final as well. Go UNC, I guess. ACC pride? We'll check you out here tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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I can't believe it took so long for us to obtain this information. I guessed the 'Stros lineup.

CUBSASTROS
Alfonso Soriano, LFKaz Matsui, 2B
Kosuke Fukudome, CFIvan Rodriguez, C
Derrek Lee, 1BLance Berkman, 1B
Milton Bradley, RFCarlos Lee, LF
Aramis Ramirez, 3BMiguel Tejada, SS
Mike Fontenot, 2BGeoff Blum, 3B
Geovany Soto, CHunter Pence, RF
Ryan Theriot, SSMichael Bourn, CF
Carlos Zambrano, SPRoy Oswalt, SP

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These Padres are young and inexperienced, says Gaslamp Ball. The average Padre today has two years less experience in the bigs than the average Padre from a year ago. Heck, most of the MLB experience is under Brian Giles' orange tan and saggy love handles.

The Dodgers are made of Manny, and eight other guys. But really, they've got quite a talented lineup and might lead the league in runs scored by a team not based in Colorado.

Lineups. Go. Finally.

DODGERSPADRES
Rafael Furcal, SSJody Gerut, CF
Orlando Hudson, 2BDavid Eckstein, 2B
Manny Ramirez, LFBrian Giles, RF
Andre Ethier, RFAdrian Gonzalez, 1B
Russell Martin, CKevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
James Loney, 1BChase Headley, LF
Matt Kemp, CF Henry Blanco, C
Casey Blake, 3BLuis Rodriguez, SS
Hiroki Kuroda, SPJake Peavy, SP

San Diego is nice and sunny...no rainouts in Southern California, ever. Gaslamp Ball has proof.

Join us tonight at 10PM EDT for our second episode of the Internet's hottest new fifteen minute talk show, The Furious Five.

Note: we are also on iTunes. Search for Walkoff Walk under podcasts and you can subscribe weekly or download individually.

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Mariners at Twins, 8:10

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Today is the final opening day at the Metrodome. I went to a few games there when I spent a summer in Minneapolis. I appreciated the GA seating in the outfield. It gave me a great view of a Johan one hitter vs. the Mariners and allowed Randy Winn to definitely hear the mediocre insults I hurled at him. For no real reason. Anway, that storied rivalry picks back up tonight.

Felix Hernandez takes on Francisco Liriano in one of the most intriguing starter matchups of the day. With Ichiro out, Endy Chavez tops the order for the Mariners. That lineup also features the Mariner debuts of Mike Sweeney, Russell Branyan, and the return of Ken Griffey Jr. Amazingly, manager Don "Waka" Wakamatsu told Geoff Baker that the Mariners will probably use "between 120 and 130 lineups this year" and seemed proud of this fact. And who can blame him, what kind of baseball player thrives on continuity? Joe Crede makes his Twins debut.

MARINERSTWINS
Endy Chavez, LFDenard Span, CF
Franklin Guttierez, CFAlexi Casilla, 2B
Mike Sweeney, DHMichael Cuddyer, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3BJustin Morneau, 1B
Ken Griffey Jr., RFJason Kubel, DH
Jose Lopez, 2BJoe Crede, 3B
Russell Branyan, 1BDelmon Young, LF
Kenji Johjima, CMike Redmond, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SSNick Punto, SS
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The Tigers head up to Toronto ce soir luckily avoiding another snowout. They'll be starting Justin "Sporadic Feast" Verlander against The Incredible Doc Halladay. Gerald Laird, Josh Anderson and Adam Everett all make their Tiger debuts. Carlos Guillen has moved from SS, to 1B and now to DH. Next season he'll be the hitting coach.

For Toronto, 21 year old Travis Snider makes his first Opening Day start, sending legions of insane Blue Jays bloggers to the official team store. The Mayor of Detroit CAN KISS ALL THEIR ASSES.

TIGERSBLUE JAYS
Curtis Granderson, CFMarco Scutaro, SS
Placido Polanco, 2BAaron Hill, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RFAlex Rios, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1BVernon Wells, CFB
Carlos Guillen, DHAdam Lind, DH
Gerald Laird, CScott Rolen, 3B
Brandon Inge, 3BLyle Overbay, 1B
Adam Everett, SSRod Barajas, C
Josh Anderson, LFTravis Snider, LF

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The big news out of Arizona is that manager Bob Melvin is benching third baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielder Justin Upton against the southpaw Aaron Cook. Really, Bob? Playing the matchup game on Opening Day? What will Mama Upton and Mama Reynolds think about that when they babies be ridin' the pine during the biggest day of the springtime? For shame, Mister Melvin. There's a silver lining though: Eric Byrnes is getting the start in right field. He's all kinds of dumb!

Two Cy Young-caliber gentlemen will toe the rubber today, as one-time winner Brandon Webb faces the Rockies ace Cook. Not the team cook, that's a jolly old black man named Rufus who has a secret recipe for huevos rancheros that makes Brad Hawpe giddy with delight. Rox skip Clint Hurdle benched fellow Clint, Clint Barmes, in favor of youngster Ian Stewart. Let's see how that works out.

Anyway, on with the lineups:

ROCKIESD-BACKS
Ryan Spilborghs, CFFelipe Lopez, 2B
Seth Smith, LFChris Young, CF
Todd Helton, 1BStephen Drew, SS
Garrett Atkins, 3BChad Tracy, 3B
Brad Hawpe, RFEric Byrnes, RF
Ian Stewart, 2BTony Clark, 1B
Troy Tulowitzki, SSConor Jackson, LF
Chris Iannetta, CChris Snyder, C
Aaron Cook, PBrandon Webb, P

Both teams have catchers named Chris batting eighth. Both teams have third basemen batting cleanup. Both teams have bloggers who live in a different time zone that caused these lineups to be posted way too late for my liking. And really, this is the sort of game I would enjoy watching if I had that nifty MLB.tv service. Hint hint MLB marketing people hint hint give me free stuff.

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The Cardinals will be without Skip Schumaker today because Pirates starter Paul Maholm is a lefty and Tony La Russa likes to fiddle around with that sort of nonsense. Brian Barden becomes the opening day third baseman because Troy Glaus is a fragile china doll. And with an outfield of Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Duncan, starting pitcher Adam Wainwright better hope that no balls leave the infield. Other than that, it's a lovely day for baseball in St. Louis!

The Pirates come to town ready to start 2009 on a good note. However, with Nyjer Morgan leading off and playing left, they're obviously continuing their task of tanking to get high draft picks, in the spirit of the Rays. You've got superstar in training Andrew McCutchen just chomping at the bit to be the everyday CF. Make it happen soon, Pirates people.

You have come here for the lineups. I will bring them to you:

PIRATESCARDINALS
Nyjer Morgan, LFBrendan Ryan, 2B
Freddy Sanchez, 2BRick Ankiel, CF
Nate McLouth, CFAlbert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Doumit, CKhalil Greene, SS
Adam LaRoche, 1B Ryan Ludwick, RF
Andy LaRoche, 3BYadier Molina, C
Brandon Moss, RF Chris Duncan, LF
Jack Wilson, SS Brian Barden, 3B
Paul Maholm, SPAdam Wainwright, SP

I think the Pirates will surprise us with a win today, but then lose 161 games in a row.

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Get ready for Adam Dunn, Washington fans. The hulking slugger makes his Nats debut today in sunny Florida as baseball's worst team in 2008 heads south to take on the Marlins. Hey, it can't get any worse, right folks? Austin Kearns won the starting right field job from Elijah Dukes after a decent spring. Look for Austin Kearns to be the first player ever shot in the kneecap by a teammate sometime this week.

The Marlins look to improve on their surprising third place finish last year, but will most likely regress to the bottom of the standings with their poor defense and questionable health of team star Hanley Ramirez. In other news, with the departure of Mike Jacobs to KC, Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu slots over to first base and Emilio Bonaficio becomes your Marlins third baseman and, inexplicably, your Marlins leadoff hitter. You know that Cameron Maybin is a high-OBP, fast dude, right, Fredi Gonzalez? Batting him ahead of the pitcher will surely mean many trips down to second base on a sac-bunt followed by an inning-ending pop out by Bonafacio.

NATIONALSMARLINS
Lastings Milledge, CFEmilio Bonafacio, 3B
Cristian Guzman, SSJohn Baker, C
Ryan Zimmerman, 3BHanley Ramirez, SS
Adam Dunn, LFJorge Cantu, 1B
Nick Johnson, 1BDan Uggla, 2B
Austin Kearns, RFJeremy Hermida, LF
Ronnie Belliard, 2BCody Ross, RF
Jesus Flores, CCameron Maybin, CF
John Lannan, PRicky Nolasco, P

Want to play "Guess the Attendance" for this affair? If it's a sellout, I'll eat my hat. When our own Kris Liakos almost decided on the day of the game that maybe he'll pop down to Dolphin Stadium to check out an OPENING DAY GAME ON A WHIM, you know your team is having trouble drawing fans. Unless, of course, Kris is merely headed down there to try out for the Manatees. I wouldn't put it past him.

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Yankees at Orioles, 4:05

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The AL East kicks off this afternoon in Bodymore at the beautiful Camden Yards. With about 500 new stadiums built since Camden, it's gone from modeling itself after a classic park to actually becoming one. New York sends CC Sabathia to the mound. I think Yankee fans are excited about this fella. The Orioles will start de facto ace Jeremy Guthrie, the best pitcher on what has the potential to be a truly gruesome staff. Today marks the dawn of the Cody Ransom era at 3B for the Yankees. That's all fine and good but will he hit in October when the heat is on? Cesar Izturis and Ty Wigginton make their Oriole debuts.

Joe Biden throws out the first pitch, so the forecast is calling for overcast skies and lots of teeth. Onto the lineups:

YANKEESORIOLES
Derek Jeter, SSBrian Roberts, 2B
Johnny Damon, LFAdam Jones, CF
Mark Teixiera, 1BNick Markakis, RF
Hideki Matsui, DHMelvin Mora, 3B
Jorge Posada, CAubrey Huff, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2BTy WIgginton, DH
Xavier Nady, RFLuke Scott, LF
Cody Ransom, 3BGreg Zaun, C
Brett Gardner, CFCesar Izturis, SS

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Thanks to postponements in Chicago and Boston this is the only 2PM game in the AL. The first pitch will be thrown out by unemployed doofus George W. Bush. Don't worry, they're not chanting "ELVIS ANDRUUUUUUS," those are boos. Reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee takes the mound for the visiting Indians, while Kevin Millwood rolls out of bed to pitch for the Rangers.

Mark DeRosa makes his debut with the Indians, Elvis Andrus does the same for Texas. The hometown team also sends out Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis for their first ever Opening Day assignments. Travis Hafner returns from the Wilderness to hit cleanup for the Tribe. Could be the HIGHEST SCORING GAME OF THE SEASON SO FAR.

INDIANSRANGERS
Grady Sizemore, CFIan Kinsler, 2B
Mark DeRosa, 2BMichael Young, 3B
Victor Martinez, 1BJosh Hamilton, CF
Travis Hafner, DHNelson Cruz, RF
Jhonny Peralta, SSHank Blalock, DH
Shin Soo-Choo, RFMarlon Byrd, LF
Kelly Shoppach, CChris Davis, 1B
Ben Francisco, LFJarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2BElvis Andrus, SS

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Traditionally, the first game of the regular season is played in Cincinnati, because the first ever professional baseball team was headquarted in Cincy. Also because nobody ever wants to argue with people who serve chili over spaghetti. Whatever, it's a city holiday and we'll sit patiently by as these weirdos enjoy their pomp and pageantry.

Unless, of course, that brutal snowstorm blankets Ohio in three inches of wintery mix. I blame Bud Selig for the possibility of all inclement weather in early April or late October. Why? BECAUSE I CAN.

Here are your lineups for today's first game:

METSREDS
Jose Reyes, SSJerry Hairston, Jr., LF
Daniel Murphy, LFDarnell McDonald, CF
David Wright, 3BJoey Votto, 1B
Carlos Delgado, 1BBrandon Phillips, 2B
Carlos Beltran, CFJay Bruce, RF
Ryan Church, RFEdwin Encarnacion, 3B
Brian Schneider, CRamon Hernandez, C
Luis Castillo, 2BAlex Gonzalez, SS
Johan Santana, PAaron Harang, P

Yes, I had to look up Darnell McDonald on the Baseball Reference. He's starting in place of an flu-ridden Willy Taveras. That's no way to maintain your Willy Taveras, Dusty.

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Last night, Derek Lowe showed why he's had great success in a bandbox like Citizens Bank Park. Despite his opponent Brett Myers' struggles with the home run ball, Lowe kept the Phillies balls dragging on the ground, where they'd be far easier for his infielders to snag and make outs. Such a fine pitching performance helped the Braves topple the Phillies 4-1 on baseball's Opening Night. Lowe was efficient and threw strikes with great aplomb in his eight shutout innings. Myers, however, allowed numerous extra base hits including rookie Jordan Schafer's first ever tater tot in his first ever MLB at-bat. Jeff Francouer and Brian McCann added their own homers, while the Phillies only run-scoring rally fell short in the ninth off closer Mike Gonzalez.

It was a tidy and entertaining game to start off the 2009 season, clocking in at under 2.5 hours. Hey, that's even shorter than a Spielberg movie! But that was just one game of over 2,000 that we can enjoy this season. Get your foam fingers out of the attic and put your clapping hat on: it's time for OPENING DAY 2009!

So stick around these parts today, kiddies, because we'll take you around all thirteen (lousy Smarch weather in Chicago) twelve major league parks with real live action today. We'll do our best to share lineups for all twenty-four teams (even the Mariners!) making their 2009 debut today, Opening Day, the greatest day of the entire Spring.

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Omigod, y'all, the 2009 season is finally starting! It's Braves versus Phillies, Brett Myers versus Derek Lowe, World Fuckin' Champions versus the team that once ruled the N.L. East with an iron fist, Charlie Fuqua Manuel's doddering old man routine versus Bobby Cox' doddering old redneck routing, Chipper versus Chutley, Walkoff Walk commenter Matt_T versus Walkoff Walk commenter Honeynut Ichiros. I can't even think of any more possible matchups in this game that matter except JUST GIVE ME SOME COMPETITIVE NON-WBC BASEBALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALMOST SIX MONTHS I'M LOSING MY MIND. Enough chitter-chatter, let's get on with the business that we call glog.

(Photograph courtesy of Flickr user sarowen)

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Hey, kids remember last year's Prophecy of Mediocrity contest? Well Rob and I forgot until last night. Whoops! Part of the reason may be is that because last year's winner never emailed us to claim his prize. I hope nothing happened to him.

Anyway, the rules and the prizes are the same this year.

Send an email to our intern Darren (tips@walkoffwalk.com) with the following information:

1.Your real name or your commenter name, whichever your prefer.
2. The six teams you think will finish third in each MLB division in 2009.
3. The average number of wins (to the first decimal point) for all six 3rd place teams (this will be the tiebreaker).

Make sure you write "Contest Entry" in the subject of your email. You have from now until NOON on FRIDAY. Yes, since we forgot to post this you'll get an actual week of baseball games to cheat and help decide exactly who you think will finish in the middle of the road.

The winner will get a one of a kind winner's Walkoff Walk T-shirt specially designed for the contest, a post on WoW, and a random baseball card of my choosing from a giant trunk in my parents' house.

Good luck everybody. May the best at not picking the best win.

Opening Day Perspective

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Baseball's statistical revolution has enhanced and extended the casual fan's understanding and appreciation for the game in immeasurable ways. Some people may not appreciate or understand these new-found "esoteric" figures, others show outright hostility towards this analytical approach, viewing it as joyless and cold. The first game of the year usually serves as a desirable antidote to the pencil pushing and long division. Opening Day brings out the poetry, the cliche and the hyperbole. Every team is tied for first! The grass and fresh and hopes are high! Last year means nothing! This is our year!!

I'm a pretty level-headed guy, one that embraces the stats and analysis like nerds caress Joss Whedon's universes. Until today, when the good people at Baseball Analysts slapped me right in the face. They've taken single game measures like Win Probability Added (the amount any one player contributed to the outcome of each game) and Leverage Index (the degree to which each individual event contributes to the final game outcome) and extended and examined them over the course of an entire season. Championship WPA demonstrates how much each player added to a World Series win at any one time. Championship Leverage measures "the impact of a game on a team's World Series title chances."

The one game playoff between the Twins and White Sox was the single "biggest" game of the year as determined by Championship Leverage. Manny Ramirez's superlative contribution to the Dodgers stretch run and continued playoff excellence represented 11% (!!) of a World Series championship all on his own. Interesting stuff, but it takes an ominous turn.

Author Sky Andrecheck uses this Championship Index to determine the "most important" game of the year for each team. Some scary, scary stuff surfaces. The San Francisco Giants played their most "important" game, the game that was most impactful towards their championship hopes on March 31st. OPENING DAY! In fact, according to their numbers, the Giants, Padres, and Rockies were all playing games that were, for all intents and purposes, meaningless as of APRIL 11th. The Pirates played their highest leveraged game on April 2nd, the Nationals April 3rd. Not just bad teams spent the summer spinning their wheels. The AL West Champion Angels game versus Oakland on July 1st spelled the end of that division chase.

The most frightening aspect of this entire thing? Liakos was right. Right as rain. All the teams he mourned as dead by Memorial Day were indeed deep in the ground. His life support claims were even accurate, with the Blue Jays 86 win season hoping aboard the slow boat to nowhere on May 31th. The Tigers ended up hanging tight in the AL Central, tight enough to make games into July still worthwhile.

The piece is fascinating, please click through for the full extent of their findings. Just try to block it all this information out when you're trying to exit the parking lot after Monday's game.

Sweet sunset picture courtesy of flickr user icopythat

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Opening Day is a day for messages. Teams sends a loud and clear message to their fans, their league-wide opposition, and themselves. Who better to deliver this message in vivid, living colour than the man on the hill? A team's choice for Opening Day hurler conveys more information than all the press conferences, exhibition games, and elaborate marketing smoke-screens ever could.

Choosing the right man to toss Pitch One in anger is essential to warning the rest of the league "it starts bad and gets worse. You're all playing for second." Sending out a strapping bruiser with bad intentions and blazing heat tells your paying customers "Look at this beast on the mound, you're getting a show today friends!" Of course, sending forth a feeble retread or green rookie lets all interested parties know "we're working out some kinds here. Kindly drop some change in the bucket for the bus ride home." Pitchers have been known to beg their way out of Opening Day duty, either due to nerves or advanced cry baby-itis.

So what do this year's Opening Day starters tell us? Is your team arming itself for the holy war or cowering in its subbasement, dreading the coming holy war? Only time and my fact-free analysis know for sure if you're looking at a feast or famine.

National League Central
Chicago Cubs - Carlos Zambrano: Feast
St Louis Cardinals - Adam Wainwright: Fragile Feast
Houston Astros - Roy Oswalt: Feast
Milwaukee Brewers - Jeff Suppan: Fail
Cincinnati Reds - Aaron Harang: Famine
Pittsburgh Pirates - Ian Snell: Famine
American League Central
Chicago White Sox - Mark Buehrle: Discount Feast or Overpriced Famine
Kansas City Royals - Gil Meche: Famine
Detroit Tigers - Justin Verlander: Sporadic Feast
Minnesota Twins - Francisco Liriano: Thanksgiving Feast
Cleveland Indians - Cliff Lee: Feasty/Feastish.
National League East
New York Mets - Johan Santana: Fingers Crossed Feast
Atlanta Braves - Derek Lowe: Feasmine
Philadelphia Phillies - Brett Myers: Moral Famine
Florida Marlins - Ricky Nolasco: Future Feast
Washington Nationals - John Lannan: Famine
American League East
New York Yankees - CC Sabathia: All-You-Can-Eat Feast
Boston Red Sox - Josh Beckett: Greasy Rib Feast
Tampa Bay Rays - James Shields: Optical Famine
Toronto Blue Jays - Roy Halladay: Meast
Baltimore Orioles - Jeremy Guthrie: Famine
National League West
San Francisco Giants - Tim Lincecum: Mr. Feastastic
Los Angeles Dodgers - Hiroki Kuroda: Famine
Arizona Diamondbacks - Brandon Webb: Feast
Colorado Rockies - Aaron Cook: Famine.
San Diego Padres - Jake Peavy: Feast
American League West
LA Angels - Joe Saunders? Feast?
Seattle Mariners - Felix Hernandez: Feast Fit for a King
Texas Rangers - Kevin Millwood: Famine
Oakland A's - Dallas Braden: Unknown Commodity Famine

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, the the trick is just not being caught.

  • WILL Gary Sheffield be a Met by Opening Day?

  • IF there was one guy that could describe a bleeding ulcer poetically, wouldn't it be Ichiro?

  • STILL on the fence about Sugar, that movie I talked about yesterday? Well Jose Rijo is in it. Does that change your mind?

  • HOW cool is it that WHDH in Boston isn't going carry Leno's snoozy schtick ? STAY STRONG CHANNEL 7!

  • DWIGHT Evans only the 20th best Red Sock??? Hope you enjoyed your last WoW link, MacPherson.

  • EVER wondered what different historical baseball moments would like from different camera angles? Yeah, I never have either but it's a cool idea, I guess. You can check it out as the MLB Network "re-creates" 6 classic moments starting tonight.

  • ARE signed up for Iracane's Twitter? There's a link up there top right. He's taking his first steps into New Yankee Stadium tonight and once he cleans the Cream Of Wheat out of his khakis he'll be tweeting and taking pictures of the festivities. Until he drinks half a Dogfish and passes out, that is.

We did it. We made it through our first offeseason together everybody. Yaaay. The season starts Sunday night with Philles/Braves and Rob will be here glogging it. I'm gonna rest up, maybe catch a little sun before I head back to rejoin the pale white natives of New England. And baseball. Before we all rejoin baseball. See you then, pals.

Same regular season WoW Channel.

(Picture of the Ebbets Field Knothole Gang from ebbets-field.com)

Today's Classic TV Friday takes us back to 1993. The Blue Jays had just won their second consecutive World Series under manager Cito Gaston (wow, remember him!?), this time in dramatic fashion on a walkoff home run by Joe Carter. This particular clip finds an angry and mulleted Todd Stottlemyre long distance berating the mayor of Philadelphia. It looks more like a pro wrestling promo than it does a baseball victory parade. The ending features Rickey Henderson spurring the crowd into a spontaneous chant of "Whoomp, There It Is!"

Yeah, this is a pretty great video.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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Whew that was one long Spring Training. Players were sick of camp when I spoke to them 3 weeks ago, but this past week every single thing they said was punctuated with "I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started."

So how was your slider working out there? Oh, pretty good, it was diving. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Do you think you guys have solved some of your bullpen problems? Yeah I think we made some smart acquisitions. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Are reporters allowed to have some of that Gatorade? Yeah go right ahead the cups are down on the right. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Lots of dudes got hurt, both in camp and at the WBC, but there was more than enough time for them to rest up and heal afterwards. If guys got hurt two or three weeks ago, their teams have taken special care of them to make sure they'd be ready for Monday. While this super long Spring may have bored the bejeezus out of some guys, it may allow for some of the healthiest Opening Day rosters we've seen in years. Well, not including the following dummies who got hurt too late.

  • Brian Roberts, Orioles: Roberts' list of ailments is so long it looks like it's supposed to be for the whole team. Just in the past two weeks he's had a respiratory infection, back spasms and now the ubiquitous oblique strain. I'm not going to say he's fragile but I did see him riding around camp on a Hover Round.

  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Arroyo has fallen victim to that bane of all typists/stenographers/telegraph operators, carpal tunnel syndrome. Oh yeah it's probably not good for pitchers/guitar players either. He had a flare up last year, but didn't miss a start. Apparently this time it's especially nasty. Like the face melters he plays on his Ibanez.

  • Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers: The Tigers' rough camp continued as a controversial blood test showed Dontrelle Willis having an anxiety disorder and he was sent back to Detroit for further evaluation. Every two bit Grey's Anatomy watching hack in the blogosphere immediately cried "phony" but with psychiatric issues I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. Bonderman's problem is more simple. His shoulder burst into flames.

  • Scott Baker, Twins: Minnesota's Opening Day starter is no longer Minnesota's Opening Day starter. Baker is hitting the deel with shoulder stiffness. Take a cold shower! Lulz. Joe Crede and Justin Morneau also missed games this week. All these injuries problems will be solved next year when the Twins are playing outside in 10 degree weather.

  • Joey Devine, A's: The Oakland starter reliever has elbow problems, is hitting the deel and subsequently brings us our first Dr. Death sighting of 2009. Hello, James how was your winter?

  • Ben Grieve, Retired: Raped by a wallaby.

  • Cha Seung Baek, Padres: The Bros' #3 starter has a forearm strain severe enough to put him on the List. This gives the immortal Shawn Hill a shot in the rotation. Hey if you're trying to bounceback I imagine Petco is a pretty solid place to give it a shot. BELIEVE IN SHAWN HILL.

  • Jonathan Sanchez, Giants: Sanchez burned his finger this week while cooking rice and beans. No word on whether he threw his back out trying to carry that gigantic sterotype.

***BONUS POSSIBLE CREAMPUFF***

Rejoice, baseball gourmands! Because the Xtreme Depression is forcing baseball team owners to be creative to draw fans to come out to the ballparks in these tough times, they're finding that the easiest way to attract us is to bribe us with delicious new foodstuffs. The concession stands at new ballparks like Citi Field, renovated ballparks like Kauffman Stadium, and even stagnant old monsters like Rogers Centre are going to be bursting at the seams with more than just the typical hot dogs, peanuts, and Bud Lights. But worry not, traditionalists: some of the newer parks in the Midwest are just going to lower prices (and portion size) on the old hat items. It's a win-win, people!

So let's take a listicle-powered look at what's new across some of the 30 stadia in the majors:

  • baconwrappedwiener.jpgPetco Park's bacon-wrapped hot dogs and red velvet cupcakes: The good folks at Gaslamp Ball alerted us to the new Mexican-style items at the Padres park, including the Sonoran hot dog, a spicy wiener enveloped in bacon nestled in a bun stuffed with beans, tomatoes and onions, then doused with jalapeño sauce, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. NOM. Looks like the cupcake trend has finally hit the West Coast four years too late, but $5.50 for a red velvet cupcake the size of my head is a pretty good deal.


  • Nationals Park's new beer selection: Via Dan Steinberg's Sports Bog, here is what the Nats will be offering on draught on the Red Porch this season: Peroni, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Bell's Kalamazoo Stout, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, Southampton Triple Abby Style Ale, Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen, Williamsburg Tavern Brown Ale, Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager. That Dogfish IPA has an a.b.v of 9.0%, over twice that of a Bud Light. Translation: it's going to be easier to put up with the terrible Washington team when you're six IPAs deep.


  • campossteak.jpgCitizens Bank Park's new cheesesteak purveyor: Rick's Steaks replaced Geno's Steaks at CBP in 2006 but now Rick's is forced to hit the bricks in favor of Campo's Deli. Tough news for Rick who also got the boot from Reading Terminal Market last year. I've never had Campo's before but as long as their product isn't too greasy, I will gladly stuff one of the Holy Feldmans down my maw at the Heist. (A spicy cheese steak made with hot sauce, jack cheese, grilled onions and ketchup).


  • Kauffman Stadium's concretes and royal turtle sundaes: In Italy, they have gelato. In single women's freezers in Manhattan, they have Haagen-Dazs. In the middle of America, they have frozen custard. Noted Kansas City desserty business Sheridan's Frozen Custard is finally opening a proper full size store inside the newly-renovated Kauffman Stadium. A Royal Turtle Sundae is fresh vanilla frozen custard, hot fudge and caramel, topped with roasted pecans and cherries. Ain't that America? Owner Jim Sheridan promises there will be 25 ice cream eating competitions during Royals games this year. Don't bother signing up, though: Sidney Ponson just won all twenty-five of them.


  • clamcornchowder.jpgCiti Field's lobster rolls and clam-and-corn chowder: Well really, Citi Field is actually going to have everything your culinary heart desires, but I'd like to focus on Chef Dave Pasternack's Catch of the Day stand. Scoreboard Gourmet enjoyed the corn-and-clam chowder (one commenter wonders if he can get corn chowder without clams), but Esca's chef is also preparing a fried flounder sandwich, a lobster roll, and a grilled shrimp po'boy sandwich. Oh, and his own version of crab fries to compete with Chickie and Pete's version at CBP. The Phillies/Mets rivalry doesn't stop at baseball, folks.


  • Dollar Menus at Great American Ball Park and Miller Park: I love this move. Not only can families save cash on food items, the portions will likely be smaller to promote healthier eating. In Cincy, fans can get a hot dog, a 12 ounce Coke, a bag of nuts, a scoop of ice cream, or a Redlegs French Chew taffy for a buck each. Dear Midwesterners, you just don't need to ingest a 55-gallon drum full of buttered popcorn and a Coke the size of a stockpot in one sitting. Also, what's up with that chili over spaghetti thing? Gross!


  • garlicfries.jpgAT&T Park's Green Garlic Fries: Green as in "sustainable," not green as in "specially-colored for St. Patrick's Day". The hippies out in San Fran have converted the popular Gilroy garlic fries stand to reduce the amount of energy it takes to fry up those delicious taters for the starving fans, and they painted the stand with a fresh coat biodegradable paint! How...wonderful. No telling whether or not they'll pass the energy savings on to the consumer, but they will continue to pass the bad breath and heartburn on to everyone who ingests these creatures.

Also, the Yankees will be selling retro beers like Ballantine, Schlitz, and Schaefer, Fenway Park rejiggered the recipe for the famous Fenway Frank, and the fatsos in Arlington can now gorge themselves in a new all-you-can-eat section. Sounds delish! Anyone got anything I missed? I'm headed up to New New Yankee Stadium tonight so hopefully, I'll have a full report for you this weekend.

(Special thanks to the Scoreboard Gourmet blog that satisfies two of the three biggest desires that Walkoff Walk readers possess)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were done with the nonsense:

Rangers 9, Royals 3: Surprise, surprise. The Rangers took the Surprise City Series, four wins to three, over their cohabitants, the Royals. I put way too many commas in that sentence. The Rangers finished their Arizona stint with 20 wins which totally means they'll win at least 20 games this year. Great success!

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 4: Troy Tulowitzki went 3-for-3 to finish up a super sexy hot hot hot spring time but the big news out of Rox camp is that Huston Street won the closers job from Manny Corpas. I don't know who I feel worse for: Manny Corpas, Rockies fans, or Rockies starters. Just kidding. Huston Street is a fine closer.

Mets 9, Orioles 8: Mike Pelfrey got jacked up, allowing all eight Balty-more runs with a terrible exhibition of pitcherating. After falling behind 8-0, the Mets scored nine unanswered and completed the least important comeback in world history, just ahead of the time I beat my gramma at table tennis after falling behind 12-3.

Cubs 9, Indians 8: Cleveland finished up the Cactus League with their worst spring in ten years as another one of their starters got ripped. This time, the victim was Anthony Reyes, but Cliff Lee has had a notably shittastic spring. Also, Jake Westbrook might be back in June. Whoops! I am regretting my AL Central pick, y'all.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'll walk into the sun.

  • DOES winning the Grapefruit league mean anything for the Yankees? Well, the last 4 years the AL East team with the best Spring record won the division so... no. That's just a stupid coincidence.

  • IS Francisco Liriano ready for the 2009 season? Well he better be, he's starting the opener now that Scott Baker is on the DL.

  • WHERE have you gone Tony Fossas? The LOOGY Era may be coming to a close as Don "Waka" Wakamatsu won't have a single lefty reliever in his Seattle bullpen.

  • DID I lose all my street cred mentioning Condoleeza Rice as Commish? I feel weird.

  • DO I at least still have more street cred than Steve Phillips? He wants to do MORE of those fake press conferences.

  • HOW awesome is Cito Gaston?

  • YOU gonna go check out Sugar? I was shown that trailer up there a few months ago and have been wanting to see it ever since.

That was one fast week. Tomorrow is Friday. We'll be here so will all the usual Friday stuff. See you then. Same WoW channel.

Umpires Are Bitchy; Hate Accountability

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Remember when umpires got their shorts in a knot a couple years back about QuesTec? It was a program that monitored strikes and probably used lasers or robots or satellites, but definitely used computers. The "humanity of calling a baseball game" was trotted out, as it is always is when umps feel like pouting because baseball dares to try and hold them accountable for their work.

One real complaint about QuesTec was that it was only installed in 1/3 of baseball stadiums, and thus could alter the way a guy called a game behind the plate could be altered if he cracked under the pressure of QuestTec's unblinking eye. Well this season that's been remedied, as QuesTec has been thrown out and replaced with Zone Evaluation. ZE is going to be in all 30 parks and the information is going to available to the public on ITunes (?), and guess what: The umpires are pissed about this thing too.

"It's an upgrade from where we were," (baseball's VP for umpiring Mike) Port said in a telephone interview. "The umpires, they don't want to miss a pitch any more than a batter wants to strike out. Where the Z.E. system will give us a lot of help is more data to help identify any trends: 'The last three plate jobs, you missed seven pitches that were down and in. Here's how one of the supervisors can help you adjust your head angle or your stance to have a better chance of getting those pitches.'"

Asked if umpires had such concern about the new arrangement that they might consider going on strike -- as early as opening day, which is Sunday --(ump union spokesman) McMorris again declined comment.

Whee! An ump strike! The last time they did that it purged a bunch of terrible umpires like Ken Kaiser from the league. I'd be more than happy to let them do it again, but even umpires can't be stupid enough to not have learned from that mistake. With QuesTec having been in place for a handful of years, and last year's introduction of Instant Replay the umpires must be used to technological oversight of their jobs. Any opposition to ZE by the union must simply be out of principal to slow down their eventual replacement by cyborgs. I for one, welcome Zone Evaluation and like any other advance in technology, look forward to its implementation in the bedroom.
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It's safe to say The New York Daily News is a tad obsessed with the steroid issue as we move into the 2009 season. This week they released their Five Point Plan to "rid baseball of their steroid scourge." Ah, yes. A War On Drugs. Those always work. Despite their ambitious yet impossible goal of eradicating PED's, step one of the program is one that we're definitely all for. Replacing Bud Selig. The News does a solid job of listing his failures and achievements but ignores the fact that his pedigree doomed his tenure before it started

Skyrocketing baseball revenue has insulated Selig from job instability throughout his entire reign as Commish. It's kept people from every seriously questioning the integrity of his position despite the fact that was was interim commissioner and owner that made himself king. That kind of move wouldn't fly on a Wisconsin town council, but has gone without serious challenge for the past 17 years. Replacing him with a non-owner would instantly add an element of transparency and fairness. It is a huge, inborn bias that promoted the financial expansion of the sport beyond anything else. The financial vulnerability of baseball is a major concern and provides an opening to move Selig out of his fiefdom.

The Daily News piece offers up a list of possible candidates (and you can vote on em!) but all but one their choices are fatally flawed.

He can be a nerd, like Bill James. He or she can be a romantic, like George Will or Doris Kearns Goodwin. He can be old, like Frank Robinson. He can be young, like Theo Epstein.

They also pose Bob Costas and Al Gore as choices. Costas, Will and Kearns Goodwin have no background in mediation. James has no background in mediation and is antisocial. Frank Robinson is a former player, thus branding him with the same kind of bias that Selig currently possesses, albeit from a player's standpoint.

"Fixing" whatever problem you want to address in baseball be it steroids, financial equity, competitive equity, etc. will require a measure of legislation. Not legislation on a government level, but within the sport. It's going to need a commissioner that can mediate the discussion and as much as it pains me aesthetically a former politician is the best person for the job. Gore doesn't immediately strike you as a "baseball guy" but that's a trait that's overrated for this job anyway. Bart Giammati, one of the games most celebrated commissioners was a university president.

But Al Gore isn't the right person either. He has a cause he's committed to and if he's as sincere as he appears, fixing baseball is a step down from saving Earth. His old boss, Bill Clinton is busy with causes as well.

Though I can't express my political disagreement strongly enough (and if you've been reading me for awhile you know I don't have to) the names that jump out as intriguing and realistic candidates are all former Bush cabinet members. The two best would be Tom Ridge and my choice, Condoleeza Rice. Both are publicly documented sports fans, but Rice has a background in mediation that spans every level from academic to global (I'm not sure those are "levels" but you get it). She would also possess a unique perspective on one of MLB's problems du jour, the lack of an African-American player pipeline to the league.

For a million reasons no one from that administration is popular, but among baseball fans even Condoleeza Rice is more popular than Bud Selig. And popularity isn't the issue here, anyway. Baseball needs someone who can go in and provide the structure to clean up the Old Owners Club that has run wild in baseball for the past 20 years. If there's anyone that knows how a network of cronies works it's Rice. And she can definitely use the good karma.

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Just as spring (the season) is getting underway up north, spring (the training) is coming to an end down south. Our favorite baseball teams (and the Rockies) are starting to leave Florida and Arizona, rosters are being finalized, (even Andruw Jones got a job!) and players and fans alike couldn't be happier. Spring training was really long this year, y'all!

This past week, you could palpably sense players muttering under their breath, "don't get hurt, don't get hurt". Ryan Braun must have shit his pants when he thought he broke his thumb this week. No worries, it was only a bruise, but Braun, who also suffered a repeat occurrence of intercostal tightness, is just glad to get out of Arizona alive. All the cows who gave their lives to feed In 'N' Out burgers to the beat writers weren't so lucky.

Then you've got other players and pitchers who, like Braun, spent a couple weeks futzing around with the World Baseball Classic. Think Baltimore pitcher Jeremy Guthrie who only threw 3 and 2/3 innings for the United States yet allowed fourteen hits and ten runs. He went back to Florida, head hanging in shame to his Orioles teammates, where he has proceeded to throw 15 more innings of batting practice. Guthrie has started 4 games and has a 1-2 record with a 10.57 ERA, allowing 31 baserunners and three ding-dongs. Is he hurt? Did the WBC stress him out? Or is he the sort of pitcher who needs to open his Easter basket before he gets his shit in gear? These are the questions that spring just can't answer.

For fans, though, we're just happy to pull ourselves out of our winter malaise. Football is long done, college hoops is coming to its finale, and DEA: Newark ended on Tuesday night. Face it: television sucks now and other sports are snoozy. Give me some competitive baseball already!

But it's coming. It's almost here. Within four days, you're going to be Ted the Baseball Freak and even the most meaningless at-bat by scrubs like Nick Punto are going to make you crazy. By Sunday night when you rejoin us for a Phillies-Braves semi-glog, all of those wintertime dalliances with semi-competitiveness will be long gone from your memory banks. It's time to start hating

(I have taken the liberty of borrowing that photo from Flickr user shoothead)

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were doing just fine:

Giants 10, Dodgers 8: Tony Jackson is closely monitoring the last two roster spots for the Dodgers and is giving the advantage to utility infielders Doug Mientkiewicz and Juan Castro. Both vets had two-run ding-dongs yesterday but Tony's giving them the nod because he thinks Blake DeWitt and Chin-lung Hu should be playing every day and have that opportunity in Triple-A. Also, Eric Milton gave up eight runs in two innings, but he shouldn't be blamed. Whoever decided that Eric Milton should still be pitching competitively, that's the guy who deserves our derision.

Brewers 8, Diamondbacks 7: Speaking of cagey veteran infielders, Craig Counsell seems to be raring to go despite having a balky right knee. The cartilage in there is like braised short ribs with gremolata over gorgonzola polenta, but Counsell went two-for-two yesterday and is hitting over .400 this spring. The Brew Crew dumped Mike Lamb (not your clam) so they better hope Counsell can provide the gritty veteran-iness their infield so desperately needs.

Indians 14, Mariners 14: Seattle and Cleveland went into overtime but Franklin Gutierrez missed a 45-yard field goal as time expired, so they settled for the tie. FOOTBALL JOKE. But seriously folks, M's beat writer Geoff Baker put two and two together and got twenty-two: he thinks Ryan Rowland-Smith has earned the fifth starter job because manager Don Wakamatsu announced the team would start the year without a lefty reliever. RRS is a lefty and will not be going down to Triple-A nor switching positions and oiling his first baseman's glove. You do the math.

Padres 6, White Sox 1: ChiSox beat writer Mark Gonzales agrees with Ozzie Guillen, who blames the long spring training for the recent malaise among the team. Don't expect the team to turn it around so fast when they head east. Chicago committed 45 errors this spring, including two more in yesterday's loss to the Padres. This is your defending AL Central champion? Defense is the new black, people. Get with that curve, Oz.

Royals 6, Rockies 5: Sure, the Rox took another one on the chin with the loss to KC, but newly-appointed major leaguer Dexter Fowler fell a homer short of the cycle while Troy Tulowitzki added two hits and two RBI. The team might not have much pitching past Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez, but the kids on the offensive side might provide a tidy accompaniment to a revived Todd Helton.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, cut the grass.


We done, yo. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel. 4 more days!

(Picture stoled from Flic Pic's flickr page. That outfielder kinda looks like a dog.)

Sad news today in Yankeeland as longtime Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard has officially retired, Kat O'Brien reports. Mr. Sheppard's health problems have been plaguing him for a couple years, and although many hoped he'd move across 161st Street to the new ballpark, it is not to be. Here's to his 57 years behind the microphone, and to his health. Salut, Bob.

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Hey, kids. I'm hear in the pressbox at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL for my last Spring Training game of 2009, and if the BBWAA has their say, my last ever time in a pressbox. Just kidding. They're nice to me, they think I'm homeless.

Marty Noble is here and he just told a pretty great story about the late Red Foley. Foley is a hero of mine having been both a baseball reporter and a country music star. Nice work if you can get it. When Foley would fly to Florida for Spring Training he would bring a pair of white shoes on the plane, and when the plane took off he'd switch his brown shoes for the white ones and wear them for the entirety of camp. When he got back on the plane to fly back to New York, he'd take off the white shoes for the brown ones. I'm not looking forward to putting my brown shoes back on.

In any case, we got baseball here today. Johan is going for the Mets, so that'll be fun. I'll take you through it. The stack of lineup sheets today had a Mets 1-9 featuring Dykstra, Strawberry, Hernandez and that twerp Gary Carter. I guess they were trying to April Fools us. Follow me post jump for the real lineups and my timestamped impressions of the action.

Note: Part of the reason I've been in Florida for Spring Training was to write a magazine feature on players acting like maniacs during camp. There were lots of old stories from the 70s and 80s but leads were few and far between for current guys. The angle of the piece ended up changing and as a result didn't end up making the magazine. I still like the story though, and am lucky to have a venue like WoW where it can still see the light of day. Please to enjoy.

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Spring Training in Florida has a rich history. Much of it even has to do with baseball. From the time the Cubs and Indians arrived in 1913, The Grapefruit League spent decades as a working vacation where ballplayers walked a razor's edge between getting in shape and getting bent. In a 2003 article for Slate, Mike Shropshire spoke about the old days noting the most prescient observation he ever made in Pompano Beach was that "The managers and coaches drank scotch. The position players drank vodka or CC and Seven. The pitchers favored a concoction of Everclear, 151 rum, and coffin polish."

Last week, I lit out for the backroads and backrooms of Florida in search of these stories from the people that saw them, and also to find some new ones. I visited Christy's Sundown Restaurant in Winter Haven, former spring home of the Red Sox, then Indians. Not even a mile from the park, the walls of Christy's entrance are lined with autographs from the likes of Dean Martin, Waylon Jennings, Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, Albert Belle and Mike Hargrove. You could smell that CC and seven before you even sat down. Legendary AP beat writer Dave O'Hara covered the Sox for over two decades and spent many hours in a Christy's bar overflowing with booze, broads and batters. When I asked him to describe that scene, he said "Well. When someone told me something newsworthy at the bar, I told them I wouldn't print it until they told me again the next day." He either didn't trust their judgment or couldn't understand the slurring.

But I wanted to know who was carrying the torch for those gin and gravy soaked titans of yore. In the golf courses, strip clubs, bars, pool halls... and strip clubs the answer was, quite simply, just me. Madison (last name not given or made up yet) at Rendezvous in Ft Myers said that ballplayers came in once in awhile but they were always well behaved. And it was far less frequent than it used to be. Same thing from the girls at Body Talk in Port St. Lucie, Mons Venus in Tampa and the Peek a Boo Lounge in Bradenton. And I'd like to think I'd be able to see through an exotic dancer's cover-up. Especially with a wad of twenties.

Off a lukewarm tip over a lukewarm Yuengling at the PGA Golf resort in Port St. Lucie, I was told to check out Duffy's, a sports bar right up the street from the Mets' Tradition Field. After talking to manager Bryan Bomar, I learned that Duffy's had just been your run of the mill watering hole until about 5 years ago. On a warm Spring Night in 2004, noted bum Karim Garcia was watering the bushes of the adjacent pizza place when the manager came out and told him to relieve himself elsewhere. Garcia punched the pizza man out, made the papers and all of a sudden Duffy's was "the place that the Mets players hung out." It was probably the most recent Player Gone Wild story I heard and It's been great for the bar. Fans flood Duffy's after each Spring game in the hopes of swallowing down a purple hooter with Ryan Church. As for Garcia, perhaps he should have been a little more studious in camp. He appeared in 85 games that season and then was out of baseball. He played twenty years too late. I mean, he still would have stunk in 1979 but his buffoonery would have been more accepted.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the entire culture of Spring Training had changed. "Guys come into camp now having trained all year. They don't really take a break. When Kent Hrbek used to drop to the ground for his first stretch of the Spring he'd moan and groan and be down there for a half hour." It's easy to see how a beer or twelve wouldn't really be much of a setback to that training regimen.

When I told a Boston Herald beat writer that I was out on the road trying to dig up the dirt he pretty much provided my thesis statement. "These guys are all business now. The contracts, the competition, there's too much at stake in camp." While Chili Davis never once touched a baseball in any offseason, Jacoby Ellsbury moved to Arizona to train at the API institute. Admirable. Savvy. But not old school.

It also wasn't lost on me that "back in the day", guys like me weren't driving around looking for drunken blind items to write about in a national magazine. These teams have PR mavens like any other corporation, and the players are well schooled in the power of negative press. Get drunk with a fan in 1989 and he'll buy your next round. Get drunk with a fan in 2009 and he'll take your picture on his phone and send it to Deadspin. The times are not exactly conducive to getting loose.

"I'm still from one of those first generations of ballplayers that came into camp ready to play. Ready to fight for my spot because I had spent the offseason training. The craziest thing I've done in the past couple years of spring training has been watching a Spongebob marathon with my kid," Mike Lowell told me.

Third basemen in Boston weren't always that smart. Sometimes guys, like the aforementioned Boggs, drank a staggering amount of beer and got pushed out of a moving car in front Christy's. According to Miss Pat Peavey, hostess and unofficial historian of the place, no one drank like Boggs and it was only with mild shock that she learned that he woke up the next morning and hit two home runs. She has one of the balls. Signed.

When I got in my car and pulled out of Christy's parking lot a gospel song came onto the local bluegrass station. "What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." Thinking back on my trip and the taming of Spring Training I figured you could add a couple more things to that list: $50 million contracts, and a scandal happy press.

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! When baseball writers and bloggers everywhere pretend they have some sort of inside scoop or analytical advantage over the average fan and attempt to wow folks with virtually impossible-to-predict prognostications! And we're no different! We've already taken you through our divisional previews, but now we'd like to foist our playoff and award predictions upon you, kind reader. Please feel free to criticize our outlandish guesses and to share your own outlandish guesses in the comment section.

To highlight some of our award selections, we believe that Dusty Baker will win Manager of the Year in the National League when he bumbles his way towards a winning record and a distant second place behind the Cubs in the Central. He's got a significantly improving powerful and speedy offense and could luck out with a young rotation. Just don't expect him to repeat success in 2010 when every one of those pitchers blows out their rotator cuff. Felix Hernandez is entering the prime of his career and should put up crazy strikeout numbers this year. He'll win the Cy Young if the defense behind him keeps his ERA low and the potential tater tots all end up caught on the warning track at Safeco.

We picked Grady Sizemore to win AL MVP to appease our two Indians fan readers, while we chose Manny Ramirez to win NL MVP because (a) he's really good (b) he's the best RBI guy on a high-OBP team and (c) he's really good, y'all. Dick Harden has great stuff and should notch 20 wins as long as he stays healthy, while Bob Geren will look like a genius just by putting out Billy Beane's new lineup every day.

Enough of the prattling! Onto the picks!



Division Winners & Wildcards
ALNL
East Yankees Phillies
Central Indians Cubs
West Athletics Dodgers
Wild Cards Red Sox Mets
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Playoff Results
ALNL
Division Series Yankees over Indians
Red Sox over Athletics
Cubs over Mets
Dodgers over Phillies
LCS Yankees over Red Sox Cubs over Dodgers
World Series Cubs over Yankees in 7
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Postseason Awards
ALNL
Manager of the Year Bob Geren, OAK Dusty Baker, CIN
Cy Young Award Felix Hernandez, SEA Dick Harden, CHC
Most Valuable Player Grady Sizemore, CLE Manny Ramirez, LAD
Rookie of the Year Elvis Andrus, TEX Cameron Maybin, FLA

After the jump, check out our predictions for each team's record and a link to the written previews for each division. You'll want to bookmark this page so you can come back in September and guffaw at our many missteps.

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you buried your ballast and made your peace:

Cardinals 7, Orioles 3: Adam Wainwright pitched well for the Cards; Hayden Penn could not do the same for the Orioles and will probably not get that spot in the rotation that he really shouldn't have wanted anyway. A desire to be in the Orioles rotation is similar to a desire to be the man in charge of giving Tommy Lasorda a Swedish massage. It's just not worth the pounding.

Dodgers 10, Diamondbacks 9: James McDonald fared a bit better than Hayden Penn, allowing three runs in just over four innings. This is progress? Well James is going to be the Dodgers fifth starter which is similar to being Tommy Lasorda's poolboy. It's just not worth the constant skimming of capicola out of the filter.

Red Sox 8, Rays 7: Clay Buchholz made me look like an asshole for suggesting he should be the Sox fifth starter by giving up nine hits and six runs in five innings, including two run tater dongs to Matt Joyce and Gabe Gross. Andy Sonnnanstine pitched well for the Rays despite allowing a homer to Jason Varitek. That's like letting Tommy Lasorda zing you with a bon mot while he's face first in a pile of scungilli.

Rockies 4, White Sox 1: Burly Mark Buehrle logged six quality innings then learned he would take the mound on opening day for his ChiSox. Ozzie Guillen chose Buehrle's name out of a comically large sombrero, and then Irish step-danced his way around the clubhouse to dispel any racial stereotypes.

Another notable event that happened before bedtime was our first ever episode of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five podcast. You can still listen today because the good people at BlogTalkRadio have kindly archived the show for perpetuity. Thanks again to Lloyd the Barber for taking a break from his rec league basketball game to call in and rescue us from ourselves. Also, our April Fools Day prank is that Lloyd is really from Chattanooga, Tennessee.