May 2009 Archives

cody.jpgCan you believe it? Baseball's great and my Duel of the Day panned out for once! Just one of the many highlights from last night when you ran into the best chick in the mall.

Brewers 9, Reds 5: Your first place Milwaukee Brewers won ugly against their divisional rivals, surviving a poor Dave Bush outing by piling 7 runs on Aaron Harang's fatigued tendons. Surviving poor Dave Bush starts is something the Brew Crew are used to, they've done it 101 times. Prince, Braun, and Cameron notched dingers for the Brewers, Brandon Phillips and Jerry Hairston responding for the Reds. The also first place Cardinals didn't need Chris Carpenter to be perfect against the Giants, but he was still damn good. Albert Pujols hit two home runs because that's the kind of thing you expect when he's facing Barry Zito.

Tigers 6, Wieters 3: Justin Verlander is obviously the greatest pitcher in baseball, perhaps history. He'll certainly go down in history as the Guy that Surrendered Wieters's First Hits. Despite being overmatched by the rookie catcher, Verlander was able to pitch around the phenom thanks to an early barrage of TIger home runs. Wieters picked up his first two hits--a double anda triple, which is just showing off--and scored his first runs in a losing effort. Jeremy Guthrie actually outpitched Verlander, striking out 10 for the first time in his career. Not having to face Matt Wieters dismisses Guthries outing immediately. The White Sox picked away at the Royals bullpen, something Zack Grienke is too smart to allow. Gil Meche's seven strong innings ended going for naught. Get well soon Joakim!

Elsewhere: King Felix and his Mariners came back against the feeble Angels bullpen, Rocco sent my emotions on a rollercoaster ride (home run! against the Jays, injury, Jays win) while CC made things worse for the fine people of Cleveland. The Mets finally lost, the Phils finally bested Martis with Brad Lidge finally stringing together two good appearances. The Rangers won again because the A's, sadly, are terrible.

Image stolen generally but specifically from these people

invisibleman.jpgOnly two 1 o'clock starts today, meaning lots of interesting baseball on a Saturday night.

Any moment now, the Fox team will burst forth from within a series of NASCAR graphics and Viagra commercials with their afternoon trifecta. Duel of the 2011 Day pits "OMG" David Price against "what have you done for me lately: Francisco Liriano in Minnesota. Elsewhere the Braves battle the Snakes while the Dodgers try to exact revenge just outside Cameron's house. Let my Camerons go.

Flee the Cleve: Busy night on the lake, with the Cavs attempting to stave off elimination while CC returns to face the Tribe. The first place Yankees must contend with Tribe #2 Fausto Carmona. Considering how rudely they treated Cy Young last night, I don't have high hopes for the ground ball man and his deal with the devil.

Other People's Children: The back to awesome Justin Verlander leads his first places Tigres against the last placed Orioles. Wieters will learn what 95 mile-per-hour cheese looks like up close and personal. Kurveball King Wandy Rodriquez tries to keep his excellent season going against the Pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Lone Nats bright spot--Adam Dunn doesn't count--Sharon Martis places his 5-0 record in serious jeopardy versus Cole Hamel and the Phils. The fragile Chris Carpenter takes on the fleeting Barry Zito in San Fran later tonight while my official Duel of the Day kicks off in Anaheim. Upstart Matt Palmer challenges the throne of King Felix. Sounds good to me.

bigvlad.jpgSomehow, the much-maligned Anaheim Angels have re-inserted themselves into the AL West discussion. Some of their key pitchers returned from injury as they pushed themselves to the happy side of .500. The offense still lacks and they don't hit home runs. Luckily, help is on the way!

Enter Vladimir Guerrero. The larger-than-life slugger returned Monday ready to resume his middle of the order duties. Surrounded in the order by patient Bobby Abreu and defiantly all-world Torii Hunter, Vlad figures to provide the pop their diminutive infielders lack.

With questions about his age fresh in our heads, Vlady's come out terribly. Ortiz-level bad. In an admittedly small sample of games, Vlady's struggling across the board. His walk rate is half his career mark and his OPS is a frightful .526. He's hitting far more fly balls with even fewer of them leaving the yard.

Vlad's never been the most patient hitter, but things have been embarrassing since his return. Swinging at 50% of the out of zone pitches he sees, but only contacting 50% of them. Pitchers are throwing him more balls than strikes, letting him get himself out.

Hopefully this isn't the end for Vlad. Always an exciting and enjoyable player from beyond the typical baseball mold; his unique approach is clearly dependent on the skill set of a younger man. While he won't continue to hit .205 without any power, the decline is underway. Hopefully players like Guerrero and Ortiz won't spend their final years in the league dodging drug-related questions from a witch-hunting media.

AP Image courtesy of Daylife photo stealing fools

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What happened last night while you were establishing a clear vision of boast and brag.

Rangers 6 (5), A's 3 (2): A rare doubleheader in Texas ends with an even rarer sight: the Rangers comfortably atop the American League standings. The Rangers may finally have realized the game isn't just a home run derby, using stellar defense to prop up their pitching. The Rangers held the anemic A's in check long enough to post 3 runs and post the victory in game 1. Game 2 started with the Rangers posting all the offense they'd need in the first inning. Bonus doubleheader fact: twice as many at bats means twice as many Chris Davis strikeouts! Give him 6 on the day and 77 on the year, or a strikeout in 46.7% of his at bats Impressive! Just like the pitching performance of Jason Vargas. The non-Claudio Vargas notched his first starting victory since 2006 against the poor, poor Angels. Jose Lopez hit a tater tot on batter after Russell Branyan's tot was revoked by the glove of Juan Riviera, with an assist to the step-stools built into the fence in Anaheim.

Mets 2, Marlins 1: Those tricky Mets won their fourth game in a row, vaulting them into first place in the NLeast. An extremely well-pitched game--only 5 walks combined--ended via the many tools of Gary Sheffield. Sheff singled and stole second, going to third on an errant throw. Sheffield puts pressure on the defense, it's what good crazypeople do. The Phillies bested the Nationals the only way they know how: via the fielder's choice. Chutley's accidental RBI allowed the Phils to outlast the Nats. Brad Lidge throwback night featured a 1-2-3 inning from the embattled closer.

Yankees 3, Indians 1: Don't look now, the Yankees are in first place. Andy Pettitte walked 5 and allowed 6 hits over 5 innings, but the smoke and mirrors approach worked for one night, must have been all the rain. The Jays returned home to beat the Red Sox and all was right with the world. Scott Rolen knocked two doubles as the Jays finally got to Tim Wakefield. Jacoby Ellsbury was the Star Sock, something we'd all better get used to saying. MATT WIETERS!!!! 0 fer 4 with a strikeout, death to false idols. The O's bested the Tigers, slightly derailing the D-train bound for Good Sentiment Town.

Rockies 3, Padres 0: I don't mean to alarm anyone, but Jason Marquis is 7-3. He's pitching into the eighth inning in three consecutive starts! I'm afraid. Marquis shut down the streaking Padres, scattering 6 hits over 8 innings. Brian Giles extended his hitting streak to 6 games, raising his average to a lofty .192. Matt Cain's Trade Value went out and gave itself a shot in the arm, throwing 6.1 solid innings. The win also moved the Giants over .500, something I never thought I'd say again. Pablo Sandoval is poised to become the America's next lovable fat man. The Dodgers won again actually lost for once. I'm shocked and amazzzzzzzzzz

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, pour down center

  • IS Nolan Ryan suited to become a minority owner of the Texas Rangers? A white guy as a minority? I didn't realize there were that many Hispanics in Dallas.

  • DOES Joe Maddon strike you as the kind of boob who believes in ghostststs? He strikes me as more of an Egon Spengler than a Peter Venkman.

  • WILL Clint Hurdle survive through the weekend? The Rox are playing the hot hot Padres, so I wouldn't be surprised to see bench coach Jim Tracy promoted by Monday. (UPDATE: whoops)

  • CAN the Phillies continue to pad their record with yet another three game series with the Nationals? It's a tough June ahead with a West Coast trip, a Mets series, and then 15 straight games against the AL East.

  • AREN'T you glad that the scoreboard widget on the right works again? You never realize how much you use something as simple as that until it's gone.

  • WHO introduced Mike Tyson and Joan Jett?

Thus ends another solid and hilarious week at Walkoff Walk. We couldn't have done it without the excellent commenters. Well, we could have but that's like eating a burger with no ketchup, mayo, mustard, and pickles. You're our pickles, folks. Hang out and welcome Blue Jays fan Drew the Barber this weekend; Kris and I will be back on Monday with fun stuff and a new podcast. Same WoW channel.

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So what are you up to this weekend? You probably shouldn't garden since last time you got that nasty Poison Ivy mustache. You can't go out for a drive because that bum is living in your car and you're too scared to kick him out. Perhaps you just oughta take it easy and watch some baseball. Let Walkoff Walk be your guide to the best NL and AL series taking place. And for christ's sake, put some calamine on that.

Reds at Brewers

  • Tonight: Johnny Cueto vs. Braden Looper
  • Tomorrow: Aaron Harang vs. Dave Bush
  • Sunday: Micah Owings vs. Yovani Gallardo

Milwaukee had a 2 game lead in the Central as recently as last week but has lost 5 of 6 and dropped to a game back of the Cardinals. The Reds are going the other way, having won their last 4 and sit just a game and half back. Tonight's Cincy starter, Johnny Cueto has been the squad's ace, and one of the best starters in the NL. They've roughed up Milwaukee P Braden Looper in two starts this season.

Combine that with a wave of injuries that has swept over the Crew and it should be a very good Friday and possibly a very good weekend for Dusty's boys. With the Cardinals taking on the feisty Giants this weekend, the Central could have a new leader on Monday.

Red Sox at Blue Jays

  • Tonight: Tim Wakefield vs. Casey Janssen
  • Tomorrow: Brad Penny vs. Brian Tallet
  • Sunday: Jon Lester vs. Ricky Romero

Twas just over a week ago that the Red Sox sent the Blue Jays into a tailspin by sweeping them at Fenway. The vaunted Blue Jays Offence went cold and was held to just 5 runs and 2 home runs. The good news for Toronto may be that, despite losing their ninth straight game on Thursday, they posted 10 runs and are looking to build confidence at the plate.

They face the same three Boston pitchers they struggled so mightily against last week, and again the Red Sox will miss Roy Halladay's turn in the rotation. In a postgame press conference after the final game of the last series, Terry Francona said he couldn't remember that ever happening. He won't be able to say that this time.

Despite it all, the Blue Jays will be ecstatic to be home and done with their nightmare road trip. Removing that mental block could go a long way and I don't think Toronto fans are wrong for trying to put on a good face for the weekend.

Back in the mid-eighties, Trivial Pursuit was all the rage amongst baby boomers who wanted nothing more than to have some memories jogged from their 1960s era childhoods. Over 20 million of the board games were sold in the first year of production which made the game popular enough to be included in this 30-second advertisement for Miller Lite, featuring former Oriole Boog Powell, former Yankee Sparky Lyle, and six-time Stanley Cup champion for the Montreal Canadiens Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion:


Like Bob Uecker in the United States, Boom-Boom always played the butt of the jokes in Canadian Miller Lite ads. Sometimes even en Francais pour nos amis Quebecoises!

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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First, some good news to report. No major leaguers were raped by wallabys this week. The neighborhood watches are really working. It just goes to show that community involvement is the most effective tool in combating Marsupial Sex Crimes. Keep up the good work and stay vigilant everybody.

  • Buddy Carlyle, Braves: After begging out of the role of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz due to an extreme allergy to the silver makeup used during filming, he later found success in television. First, as private dick Barnaby Jones, then lovable country bumpkin Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. Oh I'm sorry, that's Buddy Ebsen. Carlyle hurt his back.

  • Rocco Baldelli, Red Sox: My friend Rocco, is dealing with lingering hamstring issues that could be related to his mitochondrial problem. Looks like it's time to take down the "I'm feeling good" sign.

  • Ryan Freel, Farney, Cubs: Both Freel and Farney are on the deel with strained left hammies, making this the 12th consecutive time they've both suffered the exact same injury at the exact same time, dating back to when Freel's mother dropped him on his head.

  • Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: Furcal returned to the lineup last night but if you thought I was going to leave someone with a strained buttock off of this list you don't read this site very much.

  • Nomar Garciaparra, A's: Nomar re-injured the right calf muscle that had already sidelined him earlier in the year, thus completing the rare feat of hurting every part of his body twice. When I was writing about Eric Chavez last week I came across an article that said Nomar was signed as an "insurance policy" in case Chavez couldn't get/stay healthy. If he was a real insurance policy the salesman would be arrested.

  • Brett Myers, Phillies: Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Myers is looking at 3-4 months of rehab following his upcoming hip surgery. It's a blow to the Champs' rotation but also greatly increases their likability.

  • Kenji Johjima, Mariners: J/Ohjima was placed on the deel and is looking at 6-8 weeks of sitting due to a broken big toe. Jeff Clement "accidentally" dropped a bowling ball on it, but alas he has a knee injury preventing him from catching so the Mariners called up Guillermo Quiroz. Quiroz is hitting .188 with no home runs. CATCH MARINERS CATCHER FEVER.

  • Aki Iwomura, Jason Bartlett, Rays: Whoops. Right after I declared the Rays dead for 2009 they lost their entire middle infield. CTC IS A WITCH. Aki is out for the year but Bartlett is going to miss only the minium 15 days, due to his scrappiness.
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See? I told you Alex Rodriguez has mad street cred. Fella met up with 1970s TV star Jimmie J.J. Walker at the Cavs-Magic playoff game last night. Dy-no-mite! Also on hand, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and Concussion McGee.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when the message coming from my eyes said leave it alone:

Orioles 5, Tigers 1: Luke Scott slammed two tater tots, collected four RBI, and generally teased every single contending team in need of a decent-hitting outfielder. I'm looking at you, Braves. Also, rookie David Hernandez made the Tigers look downright silly in his big league debut, allowing nine runners in six innings but stranding eight of 'em. Fellow rookie Nolan Reimold ding-donged for the third straight game and celebrated afterward with a delicious crab sundae. Forget it, Jake. It's Baltymore.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1: Randy Wolf and Randy Wells were feeling especially randy in their little pitchers duel for seven innings; Wells allowing two runs and Wolf getting pulled after giving up a solo tot to pinch hitter Bobby Scales in the eighth. The two Dodger runs were of the manufactured varietal as Juan Pierre scored on Rafael Furcal's bunt single after stealing second base in the first; Furcal scored on Casey Blake's groundout in the third. With Jonathan Broxton unavailable due to a heady Wednesday workload, Ramon Troncoso was sent to close the game out in the ninth but got into a ton of trouble. He loaded the bases with one out but got Scales and Jake Fox to strike out to end the threat.

Diamondbacks 5, Braves 2: The Atlanta Braves, ladies and gentlemen! Baseball's cure for a losing streak. The D-Backs notched four runs in the fourth after Braves second bagger Kelly Johnson's throwing error and backed Danny Haren for his fourth win on the year. Haren has 71 K's on the year against just 9 walks, including zero free passes in three straight games. He's the anti-Daniel Cabrera.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I dreamt of a factory where they manufactured what I needed.

Tomorrow is Funky Freaky Foie Gras Friday. First 100 commenters get some funky freaky foie gras. So join us, dudes and dames. 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.

  • Dave Allen puts together some fancy charts using some of that Pitch F/X data to verify Milton Bradley's claims that the umpires are purposely calling wide strikes against him in retaliation for Bradley's anti-ump comments. Bradley's hypothesis is shot down, but the data actually shows that Lou Piniella stole my wallet. Baseball Analysts.

  • Ever want to see what a baseball beat writer's desk looked like up in one of them press boxes? WONDER NO MORE! Dejan Kovacevic snapped a picture of his cinnamon dolce latte and Cracker Jacks. PBC Blog.

  • Right now, I'm reading Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by former New Yorker scribe Dan Baum, but as soon as I return that to the liberry, I'm picking up Death at the Ballpark, a comprehensive study of game-related fatalities, 1862-2007. Morbidly delicious! Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Dave Cameron pimps out Russell Branyan, coming soon to a hitting-starved team near you. Full disclosure: I was at the Stadium the night Russ blasted his first ding-dong as a member of the Indians AND he's on my fantasy team. Fangraphs.

  • Alexei Ramirez is getting sued for $20 million by Dominican talent scouts. I've seen the lawsuit and it holds no water. Seriously, I tried to use it to get a drink out of the courtroom water cooler and the whole thing disintegrated. Sportsress of Blogitude.

  • The organizers of the National Spelling Bee decided to tart up the sample sentences this year with a bit of humour. Oh, those cards! DC Sports Bog.

  • KEYBOARD GATO.
kinda gay.jpg That picture of Joshua Beckett is almost as gay as the one of Barry Zito from last time. Geez.

Good morning! Let me make it perfectly clear that I'm kinda hungover. Actually, pretty sure I'm still drunk from birthday party shenanigans last night. The only thing to do in a situation like that is to drink more beer... except all I have is this bottle of Jameson and some warm Diet Rite. Cheers!

Anyway, today we're gonna liveglog the crap out of the finale between my Minnesota Twins and Kris Liakos' Boston Red Sox. The only thing keeping me from proposing to CTC is his undying love for Dustin Pedroia. Otherwise, rawr.

T-minus 6 minutes til game time! Weeeeeeeeeee!

Manny Ramirez accepts a "Free Manny" shirt from famed impersonator Jose Velasquez, who found Manny driving out of Dodger Stadium:


Via the super awesome Diamond Notes Tumblr blog repped by the super awesome Diamond Leung.

Bear In There: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:05, Rays at Indians: David Huff is your starter today for the getting warmer Cleveland Indians. They've has won 4 out of it's last 5 despite the fact that in one of those games Huff allowed 6ER in 3IP to Cincinnatti. In his previous start he allowed 6ER in 3.2 innings. I guess what I'm saying here is that Tampa definitely has the potential to score some runs and avoid the broom closet. Jeff Niemann goes for Dem Rays.

  • 1:10, Red Sox at Twins: Getting the season's first glimpse of Joe Mauer has made the hearts of Sox writers and fans go pitter patter. They are indeed coveting thy rival's catcher and talking about Boston trying to bring him into the fold when his contract expires after next season. Personally, it feel like the smarmiest kind of big market roster looting and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Appreciate what you already have, people. SOOZE GON GLOG IT.

Cubs Sale Bogging Down Like Cubs Team

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You know how a meat thermometer has the little nub that pops up whenever your turkey is done? Bud Selig has a vein in his head that does the opposite. According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the longer this Cubs sale takes to get finalized, the angrier the Commish's office gets.

According to sources, (Selig) speaks to both the Zell and Ricketts camps frequently, hearing their sides of the gridlock that has kept the deal from being passed along to Major League Baseball's 29 owners for approval. It's easy to imagine steam coming out of Selig's ears when he gets off the phone, angry that one of his premier franchises remains in such an awkward state of limbo.

You can picture Selig wadding up some document he had just been faxed and flinging it against the windows of his Milwaukee high-rise. He wanted this deal done in 2007, would have settled for 2008 and long ago was assured it would happen by Opening Day. No one seems to know when it will happen, which could leave the hands of Cubs general manager Jim Hendry tied at the July 31 trade deadline.

"It's not even on our desk," the MLB source said. "We can't do anything until we have it. We wish we had it already."

Ownership of the club has been a travashamockery ever since the Tribune's sale. As Rogers points out, Sam Zell never wanted to own the team, yet he has for 2.5 years now. If the two sides had enough of an agreement in place to announce it publicly, usually the last step to avoid egg on face, the delay in the proceedings is a real head scratcher. Perhaps Ricketts is balking on signing papers until he sees how the market goes. Perhaps Zell has added to the team's price. Perhaps there was never anything more than a casual handshake deal in the first place but the two sides were so anxious to get Bud Selig off their asses that they announced it anyway.

Perhaps they should have just let Mark Cuban buy it. Haha, I'm just kidding.

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With voting for the MLB All Star Game well underway, it's time for the baseballblogosphere to start touting their favorite players in an attempt to convince readers to use their online votes for good instead of evil. Don't bother wasting your time. Ichiro is going to be a starting outfielder for the AL no matter how many times you vote for Magglio Ordonez. But now that the massively popular Manny Ramirez has been smacked with a 50-game suspension, the question arises: should the tainted slugger still be eligible to start in the All Star Game?

Manny will still be serving his suspension when the voting results are announced but will have finished the fifty game forced vacation by the time Albert Pujols welcomes Derek Jeter to St. Louis in mid-July. Enter the Vote for Manny website into the baseballblogosphere. At first glance, it seems to be a way for a fan to support Manny and jab a stick into Herr Selig's eye, but once you read the fine print, it seems that the website exists as a form of social protest against the All Star format:

I do not want to see Manny in the All Star Game. Are we clear on this? I started the "Vote For Manny" site to illustrate the joke that the voting, the "this time it counts"/World Series home field advantage rule, the mandatory representation, the still-soft PED rules...has become. I want to see the best players selected, not the most popular.

Groan. Sometimes, folks want to see aging stars like Cal Ripken play in the All Star Game despite their fading stats. And with TV ratings fading quickly, the ad wizards who run baseball want to see Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter starting in the game no matter how great a season Joey Votto or Jason Bartlett are having. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Selig himself wanted Manny to play in the game. Talk about a human interest story!

A couple days later, some Dodgers fan decided that the Vote for Manny crusade was despicable and started his own hype site for Manny's replacement, Vote for Pierre:

This is not a joke. If someone can make a Vote for Manny website, urging people to vote for a cheater, then this is the anti-Vote for Manny website.

Juan Pierre is one of the hardest working players in baseball. He kept his mouth shut when the Dodgers traded for Manny Roidmirez, and now that he got his starting job back, he has been lights out. Juan is deserving of being in the All-Star Game, not Manny.

Sure, Juan Pierre is enjoying a great 20-game streak, but that's all it is, a spurt of offense from a fourth outfielder who has struggled for a few years. Juan Pierre is probably a great person and a hard worker but he's no star. To tout him as an All Star is merely a spurious reaction to Manny's steroid suspension. It's soapboxing and preening and a downright silly way to deal with the complicated world of PEDs. I might vote for Manny, I might not, but his little steroid suspension won't be a factor that leads to my decision. The Vote for Pierre page actually makes the Vote for Manny page look like a well-thought-out exercise in social protest.

Besides, both sites are hurting the "Vote for School Lunch" campaign. School Lunch is OPSing over 1.000 and VORPing over 40!

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I got an electric shock from you:

Reds 6, Astros 1: Feasting on the NL Central be damned, the Reds are a springtime force to be reckoned with. The Fightin' Dustys swept the stinkeroo Astros right out of Cincinnati behind Jay Bruce's twin tater tots and Bronson Arroyo's five-hitter. They're six games over .500 and just a game and a half out of first now. Fear not, worrywarts: Arroyo's complete game cost his arm only 92 pitches and lowered his ERA over 60 points.

Marlins 6, Phillies 2: If you can only manage one run in five inning off a fella named Burke Badenhop, it's time to reevaluate things. The Phillies fell victim to the Burkester tonight as the top three hitters in the lineup combined to go 1-for-11 in the game; Carlos Ruiz' solo dong was the only blemish for Badenhop. Brett Myers got smacked around, allowing homers to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross and he eventually left the game with right hip inflammation. A little club soda will get that out.

Mets 7, Nats 4: Johan Santana notched 11 strikeouts in six innings against a very strikeoutable team but was pulled before he could amass any dominance. Those 120 pitches will do that to a guy. The Mets pen struck out four more Nats in the final three frames and manager Jerry Manuel actually struck out Adam Dunn during his post-game presser. This just in: Mr. Met just struck out racing President Abraham Lincoln, who has a 59-inch strike zone.

Orioles 12, Blue Jays 10 (11): In a game where Roy Halladay had a tidy five-run lead after seven innings, nobody expected Jesse Carlson to give it all away in the eighth or for rookie Nolan Reimold to walk off with the winning three-run tater tot in the eleventh after the O's had fallen behind by two. That's nine L's in a row for Cito and the boys. Please let this helpful listicle from Drunk Jays Fans guide you in your psychological evaluation of the fragile mental state of the typical Blue Jay fan.



For a nice play-by-play of the passionate tantrum, head to Big League Stew.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you can't spell limes without L-I-M-E-Z.

Have a good evening WoWies. Sorry for no liveglog today, but you knew we'd make it up to you. The illustrious Sooze is here tomorrow, doing Sox/Twinks. Getcha some. Same WoW Channel.

(Photo source: Flickr user GeorgiaInfo)

Oh Great, NOW You Can Major In Baseball

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If there's one thing besides baseball that I like to keep an eye on, it's changes in the Japansese HIgher Education System. It many ways it's the most beautiful sport there is. Japanese people taking classes, Japanese people riding their bikes to those classes, Japanese people graduating. It's the true "Sweet Science," and I can't get enough. So imagine my wonderment today when my love of the Japanese Higher Education System collided with my love of baseball! It was like Christmas AND Japanese Christmas all rolled into one. Not only is one university over there about to change how their students choose a path of study, they're gonna offer a baseball major. Neat.

What is interesting about this new development is that the Shikoku Gakuin Daigaku is adding the major of Baseball Science, which is the first such program in any Japanese university. The main subjects the students will be able to study majoring in Baseball Science will be:

  • History of Japanese Baseball
  • Baseball Information Analysis
  • Baseball Methodology
  • Baseball Management
  • Health and Sports Nutrition
  • Introduction of Baseball Communication

The dream of the university is for one of their alumni to become a major league player and expand the business of baseball and develop more "Baseball People" who can contribute to the industry. The school hasn't produced many NPB players. One of the few baseball alumni from Shikoku Gakuen Daigaku is former Hiroshima Toyo Carp Kouichi Amano, currently the manager of the Fukui Miracle Elephants in the Baseball Challenge League.

"Can he hit a curveball?"

"No chance in hell, but he got an A in Intro to Offspeed Pitching so I'm still gonna sign him."

I'm trying to picture what this would be like but all I keep getting are flashbacks to when my friend Tommy got the Extra Innings package so we could watch the Red Sox in Tallahassee. And that's a little fuzzy, so I gotta tell ya, I'm interested to see how this all works out. I also have no doubt that Tony LaRussa is going to try and get a doctorate in this so he can post his diploma all over the clubhouse.

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Last night I finally got around to seeing the film Sugar. It was very simple, very moving and probably my favorite movie of the year thus far. It's unflinching portrayal of a talented Dominican pitcher susceptible to the tidal forces of both Major League Baseball and a new country had such a raw emotional feel, it seemed like it was shot entirely in close up. It comes highly recommended for the cliche sounding, but wonderfully executed, look at the actual humans behind the game we love, dissect, write and talk about. The nature of talent isn't as fleeting anywhere as it is in the gauntlet of proving yourself in the minor leagues and beyond.

And that brings us to the story of Daniel Cabrera. Once one of baseball's most closely watched arms, his inability to bring any consistent control to the mound drove him out of Baltimore up the beltway to DC. Life wasn't any sweeter there for the one time potential ace. In 40 IP with the Nats this year he walked 35, struck out only 16 and had an astounding 10 wild pitches. Not content with just giving Cabrera his walking papers, Mike Rizzo took an exasperated and poorly worded shot at the pitcher. It was however, fitting for both his title of Acting GM and that organization in general.

The team informed the right-hander of its decision after Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

By removing Cabrera from the roster, the Nationals will eat the remainder of his one-year, $2.6-million contract.

"You have to put your best 25 players on the roster that are giving you a chance to win," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I look beyond the contract and look at the execution and performance of the player, and it wasn't up to par. I was tired of watching him."

Hey Rizzo, I'm pretty sure people are tired of watching your entire putrid team. That's a real shame that the contract wasn't up to par. A shame for the sorry club that handed it out.

Cabrera didn't deserve a spot on the club. I'd be pretty mad if he was pitching for my squad. But for Rizzo to single out a guy on a team that's 20 games under .500 in MAY in such sophomoric fashion is lousy. I'm no bleeding heart (ok, yes I am) but it's especially jarring to read a quote like that the day after diving into the highly personal and affecting world of players in Sugar. That's some front office they've got down there in the Capital. Baseball in Washington will always be a disaster.

(Coke oweage goes out to Sportingnews Mottram.)

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  • 1:05, Cardinals at Brewers: In this afternoon's rubber scuffle, Todd Wellemeyer takes on Manny Parra (never heard of him). Despite their 1-0 win last night, St. Louis is still 2-10 in their last 12 against the Crew. O AN WINNER TAKES 1IRST PLACE. The Cardinals are doing okay for a team that finds it nearly impossible to score runs on any given night.

  • 1:35, Blue Jays at Orioles: Bad news, Baltimore. It's Halladay Day. The Blue Jays have their best shot at snapping their 8 game skid with Doc on the mound, and would love to end this nightmarish road trip on a high note. The lineup is definitely in a funk and first place Boston heads to Toronto on Friday. Big game against the Orioles? I think so.

  • 2:10, Tigers at Royals: Just a few weeks ago Rick Porcello was the baby faced rook that Detroit fans were excited about. After a few weeks and just 3 ER allowed in his last 24 IP, he's already become a rock in the rotation. Despite dropping last night's contest the Tigers have a 3 game lead over Kansas City and their rotation, with Porcello, Edwin Jackson and Dontrelle Willis all pitching well, is gaining strength.

  • 2:20, Pirates at Cubs: The Cubs finally broke their losing streak in last night's rain shortened contest. With no one else in the division playing exceptionally well, they stiill find themselves only a handful of games back. And with the Pirates only 2 games behind them, stealing rubber in today's matchup is big for both teams. Zach Duke takes on Carlos Zambrano. Pirate Bear!

  • 3:10, Dodgers at Rockies: Afternoon baseball out west. Alright. Everyone is getting smaller in LA's review mirror. No one seems in position to kill our catch them. NICE GUY CLARK REFERENCE. Ubaldo Jimenez tries to keep Clayton Kershaw out of the broom closet.

  • 3:35, Mariners at A's: Erik Bedard vs. Trevor Cahill. Because they've already sold some people tickets.

Too often, American pop culture recognizes its past stars at the worst time possible: immediately after they die. Admit it, you hadn't thought twice about Dom DeLuise's comedy oeuvre for years before he kicked the bucket a few weeks ago. Well, legendary comedian Jonathan Winters is still roaming this mortal coil, albeit not acting or performing standup anymore at age 84. In that case, let's celebrate this short television bit from 1964 in which Winters pokes fun at the body language of a major league pitcher:


Winters was huge in the 1960s and 70s with his comedy albums and appearances on the The Tonight Show. His best film work came as the bumbling truck driver in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a movie whose name would have sounded ridiculous with three or five Mads.

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What a strange coincidence! On the same night the Orioles attracted the fewest fans in the 18-year history of Camden Yards, Baltimore GM Andy MacPhail announced that young Triple-A phenom Matt Wieters would be promoted to the big leagues this weekend. That's just in time for the O's home series against the Tigers and the big Chick-Fil-A plush cow giveaway on Saturday. The young catcher tore up Triple-A Norfolk and is totally going to put asses in those seats, especially if team owner Peter Angelos deigns to visit the park this weekend. Get it? Because he's an ass?

But really, the move that so many Bawlmer folk wanted back on Opening Day was put off a couple months so Angelos could save a few sheckels:

Though the team has never admitted as much, it has been widely speculated that Wieters was kept in the minor leagues over the first two months of the season so that he would not earn enough service time to become a "super-two" -- a player who accrues enough playing time to be eligible by major league rules for salary arbitration after his second season as opposed to his third.

Other teams have employed this same strategy, most recently the 2008 Rays who held eventual Rookie of the Year winner Evan Longoria back a couple weeks. But in the end, the Rays were able to fill in his time at third base with a capable substitute as Willy Aybar OPS'ed .870 before Longoria was called up. The Orioles have essentially wasted 46 games worth of garbage at-bats on the catcher position, scoring an AL East low 223 runs.

So hit the bricks, backup catcher Chad Moeller and go back to Toronto, primary catcher Gregg Zaun. It's Wieters Time!

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I told you I would stay:

Twins 5, Red Sox 2: My archnemesis Justin Morneau hit the deciding three run ding dong that topped off the only scoring inning the Twinkies had against Jon Lester tonight. Nick Blackburn was a bit more productive, striking out seven Soxes in seven innings for a three-star Nickgasm. Boston DH David Ortiz failed to homer and therefore didn't talk to the media after the game.

Phillies 5, Marlins 3: Country Joe Blanton whiffed eleven Florida Marlins during the game and then hit up Salty Ned's Fish Bake Restaurant and Dry Cleaners after the game, where he ate a marlin, a swordfish, and half a rack of baby back shark ribs. Nom! The Phillies bullpen nearly had another monumental meltdown as Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre let in three ninth-inning runs while recording but one out; this time, however, Brad Lidge put out the fire instead of casually tossing kerosene and marshmallows on it.

Orioles 7, Blue Jays 2: The Jays offensive woes continue thanks to the swift thinking of the Orioles front office. Last night would have been Adam Eaton's spot in the rotation but he got kicked to the curb in favor of rookie Jason Berken. Fella gave up two runs in five innings and notched his first big league win thanks to a few O's tater tots. This was all in front of the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history, but they had a good excuse: there's a new penguin at the aquarium!!! Crowds should improve once the Wieters ship docks this weekend.

Reds 6, Astros 4: Looks like Joey Votto is fully recovered from his inner ear infection and was finally allowed to play a full game with the other kiddies. Dude smacked a two-run dong in the seventh to carry the Fightin' Dustys over the 'Stros, preventing Roy Oswalt from winning his 24th career game against the Redlegs against just one loss. Said Dusty Baker, "He was good tonight, but he wasn't as good as he usually is. We got to him." Way to state the facts, Dusty.

Royals 6, Tigers 1: Zack Greinke earned his fifth complete game and eighth win on the year. He is made of magic.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, now in Hazelnut, Irish Cream and Stinging Regret.

Until tomorrow. You know how I like it. Same WoW Channel.

(Waveland Ave Rooftop photo stolen from the Cubscentric Flickrstream of Wallyg)

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Cal Poly (37-19) (Wine Country White People)
Oral Roberts (31-13) (Oral)

Clemson (40-19)* (Hot Women, Dudes Love Croakies)
Tenn. Tech (30-22-1) (Advanced Still Builders)

Oklahoma State (32-22) (Advanced Stillwater)
Alabama (37-19) (Elephant Logo Makes No Sense)

East Carolina (42-17)* (The Forgotten Carolina)
Binghamton (29-20) (Birthplace of Jason Yurgartis)

George Mason (42-12) (Actually More Than One Guy)
South Carolina (38-21) (Hot Girls, Dudes Love Croakies)

4 UNC (42-16)* (Were Supposed To Be Better)
Dartmouth (27-16) (Smart Kids To Slaughter)

Kansas (37-22) (Most Kansas Team In Tourney)
Coastal Carolina (46-14) (WHO KEEPS ADDING NEW CAROLINAS?)

2 CS Fullerton (42-14)* (Mascot Is "Stoned Hoagie")
Utah (26-29) (Racists)

Gonzaga (35-16) (Great Jumpshooters)
Ga. Southern (42-15) (Also A Paper Company)

Louisville (44-15)* (Team Motto: Do The Urkel)
Indiana (32-25) (More like WINDIANA amirite?)

Vanderbilt (34-25) (Named After Bobo Vanderbilt)
Middle Tenn. (43-16) (America's Sternum)

Florida State (42-16)* (I Hope They Don't Lose To Marist)
Marist (31-26) (I Hope They Don't Beat Us)

Ohio State (40-17) (Ecstatic To Play SEC Team)
Georgia (37-22) (Elephant 6-4-3)

7 Oklahoma (41-18)* (In Oklahoma)
Wichita State (30-25) (Excited For Trip To Oklahoma)

Washington St. (31-23) (Moist)
Arkansas (34-22) (Fries Their Gloves In Offseason)

6 UC Irvine (43-13)* (I DO See Irvine)
Fresno State (32-28) (No Fear Shirts)

San Diego State (40-21) (Named After This Aztec)
Virginia (43-12-1) (Dudes Love Croakies)

Mississippi (40-17)* (Liberal Pantywaists)
Monmouth (32-23) (French For "My Mouth")

W. Kentucky (39-18) (The Forgotten Kentucky)
Missouri (34-25) (Least Kansas Team In Tournament)

Rice (39-15)* (Pilaf)
S. Houston St. (36-22) (Pronounced Shoe-stunst) Xavier (38-19) (Starts With X) Kansas State (41-16-1) (Fourth Most Kansas Team In Tournament)

3 LSU (46-16)* (Covered In Gravy)
Southern (30-15) (Lost Civil War Of Generalities)

Baylor (29-24) (Named After Don Baylor)
Minnesota (38-17) (Dinkytown Ding Dongs)

*Host institution for regional round

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I hope you fantasy owners out there didn't do anything stupid like trade Brandon Inge for Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson a few weeks ago, because it looks like Jackson has come down with a totally untubular illness:

The Republic reports that Conor Jackson appears to have found the cause of what's been ailing him. "Jackson said he was told after seeing an infectious-disease doctor this week that he had valley fever that led to pneumonia." Ouch. Hard to think of a more debilitating double-whammy.

For the uninitiated, valley fever is a fungal disease caused by spores in the soil. When the earth is disturbed, these spores can travel through the air and be inhaled. It's most common across the Southwest - in 2007, it affected about one person per thousand in Maricopa County, but that's only cases severe enough to be reported. By some estimates, one Arizonan in three has had it at some point, though few seek any kind of medical attention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "The course of the disease is highly variable. It can take from six months to a year to fully recover, and fatigue and joint aches can last even longer. The severity of the disease depends on several factors, including your overall health and the number of fungus spores you inhale."

My goodness, he's going to be on the disabled list for how long? This is a totally new level of creampuffery.

Also, if one in three Arizonans is suffering from Valley Fever, that partially explains the Diamondbacks inability to score runs. It's not a contagious disease, though, so folks can feel safe to continue high-fiving every single Diamondback except Eric Byrnes. Wear your rubber gloves in that case; hand herpes is no joking matter.

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Hey did you hear? Just a few months after the lowest-rated World Series since Philo Farnsworth patented the boob tube, television executives are scrambling because ratings are way down for baseball regular season games, too. Viewership for the Fox Saturday Game of the Week is off 9% since last season and 23% since 2000. Of course, you should ignore the fact that these ratings actually measure percentage of US households tuned into the sport and not total viewers.

Otherwise, that would actually imply that fewer people are watching baseball nowadays, which is just ridiculous. Ratings are down for every televised sports program that existed 30 years ago because of the explosion of cable and the proliferation of pogo stick jumping record attempts. People just have more choices, y'all!

But I digress. So does Bud Selig, who should be spending more time worrying about replacing foul poles with giant lasers that shoot off into infinity. Instead, he's putting on his television executive hat and solving that problem over there:

Fox Sports spokesman Lou D'Ermilio confirmed network executives will head to Milwaukee next week to strategize with Commissioner Bud Selig about reversing the downward trends. "The purpose of the meeting is to find a way to boost the ratings for the All-Star Game and the World Series," he said. Plans include showing baseball movies on Sunday afternoons on Fox's sister channel FX, and promotional ads with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

"Well, Marge, I wasn't going to watch the MLB All Star Game but that FX channel showed that movie with the baseball-playing dog last Sunday and they had some funny commercials with Joe Buck and some old man with Alzheimers and an awful dyejob, so I reckon I'm gonna check this All Star thing out."

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Well, damn. The Florida State Seminoles (my alma mater) lost to The University Of Virginia Cavaliers (Rob's alma mater) in the ACC Tournament.

The loss not only pushed the Noles out of one of the all-important top 8 seeds, but because life isn't awful enough, the godforsaken Florida Gators snuck in to the 8th seed. The Noles will still host a regional but... ugh. Bad FSU postseason history plus the stench of that Gainesville horseshit makes a man weary of this tourney.

Your 5 word or less breakdown of each clubs using my half experience/half sterotype analysis of the university, below.

1 Texas (41-13-1)* (Cool Music)
Army (34-19) (Veteran's Day Homer Pick)

Boston College (33-24)(My Obnoxious Neighbors)
Texas State (41-15) (Only since 1845!)

TCU (36-16)* (Sunburned Religious Freaks)
Wright State (33-28) (Somewhere West of Pennsylvania?)

Oregon State (35-17) (Don't Be Hard On Beaver)
Texas A&M (36-22) (Ants and Moths. And Mescaline)

Georgia Tech (35-17-1)* (Tech = Cola)
Georgia State (39-20) (Actually in Tennessee)

Southern Miss (35-23)(Oxford Is For Liberal Yankees)
Elon (40-16) (Backwards Nole)

8 Florida (39-20)* (DIE!)
Beth.-Cookman (32-26) (Beth Cookman)

Jacksonville (36-20) !
Miami (Fla.) (36-20) (Weather Name, Fairweather Fans)

5 Arizona State (44-12)* (NO YOU ARE)
Kent State (42-15) (Neil Young Shoots Kids)

Get excited, baseball fans in the greater Washington, D.C. area: organ music has returned to Nationals Park. As per Screech's best friend, the tinkly tunes returned during the latest homestand:

Sure enough, that organ is real. Team President Stan Kasten telling us Our Washington Nationals are "experimenting" with the idea and are testing fan response to see if organ music will become a staple at Nationals Park.

Despite the crude imagery elicited from the idea of Stan Kasten experimenting with his organ, I say good for the Nationals and good for the Nationals fans. I can't imagine a baseball park without the smooth sounds of a live electric organ belting out standards like "Mood Indigo", "On the Sunny Side of the Street" or "Back That Azz Up". Canned music is the pits.

Now only if they could figure out how to proofread their giveaways, the Nats would be on the right track. Speaking of the right track, here's some of legendary jazz organist Jimmy Smith's oeuvre for your listening pleasure:

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Sometimes people make dumb predictions. If we had $5 for each silly prognostication we've dropped here at Walkoff Walk, we could afford our own expansion franchise in Oregon called the Portland IBUs who played in a stadium stocked to the brim with microbrews and hormone-free beef burgers topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

Earlier this year, I took a ton of abuse for questioning Roy Halladay's ability to win 20 games with a worsening Blue Jays offense, especially after Toronto shocked the world with a nearly perfect month of April that kept them atop the tough AL East. Well, don't be so fast to flip the fin into the failed forecasting fishbowl for this one yet: it ain't April anymore and the Jays' seven game sucking streak has me finally drinking from the cup of righteousness.

As recently as May 18th, the Bloojaze led the majors with 234 runs scored. After the seven game losing streak in which they've scored just eleven runs, they've been surpassed by four teams, including three in their own division. They're certainly getting their hits, but falling flat on their face in those certain situations that actually lead to winning games:

Toronto now is hitting just .138 (8-for-58) with runners in scoring position during the slide. The Blue Jays have also stranded 40 runners in scoring position while dropping seven straight.

"Nothing much you can do," (Cito) Gaston said. "You can juggle the lineup upside down if you want to. Some people [like to] switch the lineup around, but I'm not much for that. You've just got to keep grinding it out until something breaks, you catch a break or you make your own break."

Looks like the trouble is Vernon Wells. Fella finally had a run batted in yesterday but that was the sole run plated by the Jays against an otherwise stinkeroo Orioles team. Vernon has been having some trouble with his pull-hittin' ways:

Vernon Wells, the much maligned star of Sunday's loss, has exactly zero hits to the opposite field this year. Zero. Nil. On balls hit up the middle, his OPS is .533. That is some extreme shit.

Drew was pretty pragmatic about the Jays woes and presented some interesting stats about the team's cleanup hitter that might interest manager Cito Gaston. The fellas at Drunk Jays Fans, however, aren't taking the slump so well, accompanying their latest podcast with "I Know It's Over" by The Smiths and "End of the Line" by the Traveling Wilburys. Sounds like it's time for emo Geoff Baker to come back to Toronto

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when the whole world was out there just trying to score:

Brewers 1, Cardinals 0 (10): Will Chris Carpenter ever give up an earned run this season? Does it matter when his team can't score any runs of their own? Carp and Brewers hurler Yovani Gallardo carried matching no-hitters through the sixth inning; both left the game after eight scoreless innings and neither factored into the decision. Bill Hall produced the game's first and last run on a walkoff hit in the tenth off Kyle McClellan. This is like showing up late to your Memorial Day BBQ and only being able to enjoy a slice of Aunt Mabel's famous strawberry rhubarb pie.

Yankees 11, Rangers 1: Alex Rodriguez showed the Rangers fans exactly what he could do off the juice, going 5-for-5 with 4 ribs and raising his batting average 70 fat points. The entire Yankees offense feasted on Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison's rotting corpse with each starter notching a hit. A-Rod's performance reminded me of the BBQ where I picked up a half rack of smoky ribs in each hand and gorged myself as if I were some sort of power-eating caveperson.

Indians 11, Rays 10: Being down by ten runs is no way to enjoy a Memorial Day. So the Indians made an emergency trip to the gas station for a 24-pack of Miller Lite, swung by the Piggly Wiggly for some hot dog buns and some Hebrew National franks, and dropped a seven-spot in the ninth inning to topple Joe Maddon and his stunned Rays. "Relievers" Dale Thayer, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, and eventual loser Jason Isringhausen blew it in the final inning. Interesting note as per the AP: "It was the largest blown lead in Rays history. Tampa Bay had twice led games 10-2 before losing 20-11 each time--to the New York Yankees in 2005 and Cleveland in 1999."

Athletics 6, Mariners 1: The A's backed Brett Anderson's good start with decent offense but the real story of the game was Jason Giambi's boner. With Matt Holliday on first, Giambi trotted down towards first on what he thought was ball four, sending Holliday ambling down towards second base. Problem was, that was just ball three and Holliday ended up getting caught in a rundown leading to his demise on the basepaths. Giambi's real boner actually happened during the post-game BBQ when he knocked over a platter of Orlando Cabrera's special jerk wings.

Padres 9, Diamondbacks 7 (10): The Pads took their tenth contest in a row, this time coming from down six runs late to top a struggling D-Backs pen. Chase Headley's two-run tater tot in the tenth was the deciding factor but the San Diego relief crew deserves a fat pat on the back: they've given up but one run in the past 33 innings, y'all! Manager Bud Black wasn't around at the end of the game after he was tossed during the sixth arguing a force-out play. That's like being stuck puking your guts up in the woods while your buddies are all enjoying grilled pineapple on top of vanilla ice cream.

In Memoriam: Teams That Are Dead This Memorial Day

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Like I said last year, Memorial Day is a time for reflection. A time for deep thought about what else you can possibly put Montreal steak seasoning on, about how much you hate winter and whether or not it's hypocritical to be celebrating today off when you forgot that we're currently in two wars. So here I am again trying to simpify things for you. In fact, if you're a fan of one of the following teams you can stop paying attention to baseball altogether because you're not seeing any playoffs. Bank on it. Go use that brain power for something useful.

  • Washington Nationals: I'm really going out on a limb with this one, but the team that has a winning pct of almost 100 points lower than any other in baseball deserves not only to be on this list, but they deserve to be at the top. I'd like to see you give up 244 runs through this point in the season. Not even the Orioles or Indians can do that! First in war, first in peace and last in the National League. Your Nationals, everybody.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are bogged down near the bottom of the standings in runs scored, with 192 total and only 91 scored in May. Their .395 team SLG also resides in the bottom 3rd. Excellent team fielding has kept their mediocre staff from being laughed off the mound, but won't be nearly enough to bring the Pirates a winning season before the next Ice Age.

  • Houston Astros: The Astros are terrible and if Cecil Cooper doesn't get fired soon we'll all know Drayton McLane doesn't even care anymore. They're dragging around a 4.72 team ERA and over the weekend talking Hummel figurine Ken Rosenthal mentioned that the Phillies could be in discussions to acquire Roy Oswalt. His spot in the rotation would be filled by this veteran.

  • Every Team In The NL West Other Than The Dodgers: Not even a 9 game winning streak by the Padres can make this division interesting. Especially since even with their current "tear" they've scored a microscopic 70 runs for the month. But hey, Tim Lincecum!

  • Tampa Bay Rays: It's no secret that Tampa's pitching is not as good as it was last year. Nor is that a surprise. Conversastion about the team leading up to the season centered on how the staff, especially the bullpen, was built on a handful of career seasons. Indeed their ERA is .80 higher than last season. They've scored more runs than any other team in baseball, which would normally keep them off this list, but their BABIP is sitting at a not gonna stay there .327. You can dock them for being in baseball's toughest division. Also, screw the Rays.

  • Baltimore Orioles: Hey, they're better than the Nationals! Anyone wanna buy Jeremy Guthrie a sandwich? He's trying not to spend money.

  • On life support: A's, Indians, Marlins

  • Not as healthy as they look: Cardinals, Angels

There is something special happening in Dodgerland. Down 4-1, the LA Dodgers came back, forced extra innings and loaded the bases in the 10th inning for Juan Pierre, he of the 5.8% career walk rate. Juan promptly watched 6 pitches--FOUR OF WHICH WERE BALLS--and the DODGERS WIN!!!! Their third walkoff walk of this young season. Get your bets in now, they're winning the damn World Series.

Here's what you came for:



Over 1 million views for the greatest video of all time. Happy Memorial Day peoples.

Memorial Day Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, you bounced right back again.

  • WHAT can I say about the weekend series that Rob and our commenters haven't said already? I like interleague and there are some good and meaningful matchups over the next couple of days. Enjoy them over beer and a burger.

  • DO you like to eat at the beach? I actually hate it. Sand in my sandwich is a real downer.

  • WILL Rob be greeted at the Heist by an angry mob of Philly natives holding torches and pitchforks? Those commenters don't like me very much either, but I go by my alias. DONT YOU KNOW WHO THE DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPS ARE?

This weekend you'll be in the usual steady hands of Mr. Drew Ghostrunnerbluejayfan. Monday we'll be off EXCEPT for one post. In a tradition unlike any other, I'll be dropping in with my Teams That Were Dead By Memorial Day piece. While you're chopping the condiments for the day's feast, bring the laptop into the kitchen as I declare a handful of teams (and not just the obvious ones) completely out of contention. Should be fun.

Enjoy your long weekend, Americans. Enjoy your regular weekend, Un-Americans. We love you all equally. Same WoW channel.

Let's Go Mets Go - 1986

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So the Mets are in Boston this Classic TV Friday to take on the Red Sox. What better way to stare into the face of the moribund (for Sox fans) history between these two clubs by posting the theme song to the 1986 Champion New York Squad, "Let's Go Mets Go."

Dude's vocals are overwrought and seriously Pall Mall inflected. There are wacky player antics, Gary Carter looks like a tool, there are a bunch of Mets fans in half shirts and a Joe Piscopo sighting. Does it look horribly dated? Good. That should remind you how long it's been since the Mets won a title.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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  • Chipper Jones, Omar Infante, Braves: Rub Chipper's bunions for him. He aggravated an existing one and says "I HAVE SWELLING ON THE JOINT ALREADY." He is questionable for their series with Toronto this weekend. Infante is not questionable, he's on the deel with a broken finger. This article refers to him as a versatile veteran which is also how I'd describe Regis Philbin and and Bob Vila.

  • Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Carlos also has trouble with los pies. The slugger has plantar fasciitis which used to be called plantar's warts I think. Between this and the bunions I hope you're not reading whilst eating.

  • Edinson Volquez, Joey Votto, Reds: That vaunted (by me) Reds rotation takes a hit, as Volquez lands on the deel with back spasms. His injury brings about one sure sign of summer. As sure as the opening of beaches, the starting of grills and the opening of lousy films, Homer Bailey will mark the start of the dog days with a disappointing call up. Go get em, Homes. Votto has an ear infection and will miss the last week of first grade.

  • Alfredo Amezaga, Marlins: It's rare to see this type of candor when speaking about injuries but Amezaga hit the deel this week due to a combination of a knee bruise and the fact that the Florida bullpen sucks. Refreshingly honest!

  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Now here's a guy that can't catch a break. Weeks has spent the past couple seasons alternating between being on the DL with a bum right wrist, and looking lost at the plate. He came into 2009 healthy and was off to his best start ever showing some real power at the plate. Alas, fate is cruel and he just had season ending surgery to repair a torn sheath in his left wrist. Poor bastard.

  • Glen Perkins, Twins: Perkins is on the 15 day with swelling in his elbow. It isn't believed to be serious and he'll only miss a couple of starts. It could even be a blessing in disguise, allowing Perkins some free time to work on his IPhone app that records your dreams.

  • Gary Sheffield, Mets: Sheff missed a few games with food poisoning. I thought the food at Citi was supposed to good.

  • Edgar Renteria, Giants: Lingering hamstring issues have kept Edgar out of the lineup for the past 4 games. Lingering jamon issues from Spain have kept Rob in the office bathroom since Tuesday.

  • Vicente Padilla, Rangers: Rob and I were discussing the rubber arms of Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla this week, whilst looking at the high number of innings and pitches that Rangers starters are throwing this season. Apparently Padilla's whole body aint made out of the stuff though. He's got a strain in the deltoid muscle behind his throwin shoulder. Whoops.

  • Don Baylor, Rockies: Raped by a wallaby.

  • Elijah Dukes, Nationals: Elijah landed on the DL this week with hamstring issues, bringing a whole new meaning to the term Voodoo Sabermetrics. Scary, y'all.
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Ever since Herr Selig instituted the concept of the AL and the NL actually playing regular season games against one another (shocking, I know!), purists have decried the concept as soiling the pants of the game. Enough of their antediluvian ways, the people want Rockies-Tigers series in late May! Today marks the official start of interleague play and the unofficial start of summer, and the combination of those two events can only mean one thing: it's time for a lazy listicle on a free-for-all Friday!

Let's rank all fourteen (hit the bricks, Cubs and Padres) of the interleague series based on the following criteria: (1) historical importance (2) records of the teams involved and (3) my whims.

  • 1. Angels at Dodgers: It's the best team in baseball playing host to their poorly named little brother from just down Interstate 5. Anaheim has less of a right to stake a claim to L.A. as other suburbs like Placentia, La Puente, or Yorba freakin' Linda. I expect the Dodgers to smack the Los Angeles right off the Angels uniforms.

  • 2. Mets at Red Sox: This one has teeth. Literally, these two second place teams have been sharpening their canines and grinding their molars in preparation for this weekend, despite both teams headed in opposite directions. Watch out for the sweep: the Sox are vicious at home and the Mets...well, they're the Mets.

  • 3. Royals at Cardinals: They play each other every year but rarely does this series involve two second place teams with winning records. But without ace Zack Greinke taking the mound this weekend, Albert Pujols has a clear shot to bust up every single letter in that silly Big Mac Land sign.

  • 4. Phillies at Yankees: I've got a wager on this series with the proprietors at The 700 Level, where I wrote a guest piece today. If the Yanks win, they take me to a game at CBP and if the Phils win, I host them at the Stadium. It's a lose-lose situation for me since tickets in Philly are priced lower than the apples sold at the farmers market inside Yankee Stadium.

  • 5. Indians at Reds: Despite the mediocre records of the teams involved, people in Ohio have nothing better to do with their lives in May so expect a modicum of interest from folks looking for some good drunken fan brawls.

  • 6. Blue Jays at Braves: Pretty much any series where Roy Halladay gets to face people who are not used to seeing him is worth a look. Doc makes his first career start tonight in front of the Chick-Fil-A crowd. I'm thinking he'll notch 15 K's...against Jeff Francouer alone.

  • 7. Giants at Mariners: Randy Johnson faces his old team in an attempt to notch win #299 on his career. Well, nobody on that team save Ken Griffey was there in the nineties, but the fans have been sitting on their hands for the past eight years waiting for something interesting to happen.

  • 8. Rays at Marlins: Luckily for the attendance-starved Marlins, they'll be the beneficiary of over three dozen Rays fans making the trek from St. Petersburg with their ridiculous blue hair and cowbells. That will double the attendance at Land Shark Stadium. The season attendance.

  • 9. Rangers at Astros: Like Ohio, there's nothing else really interesting happening in Texas during the month of May. But despite the Astros stinkeroo ways, the Rangers are actually good! In first place, even! Josh Hamilton should return from injury this weekend because he left his car keys in Houston and really needs them back.

  • 10. Brewers at Twins: It's the last time the Brewers will ever ever ever play in the Metrodome, unless they sign Brett Favre in the offseason and go up against the Vikings this fall.

  • 11. Rockies at Tigers: Back in the day, a Colorado-Detroit series was the cat's pajamas...in hockey.

  • 12. Pirates at White Sox: The Brothers La Roche are foaming at the mouth at the thoughts of putting up a 20-spot on the pitching poor ChiSox.

  • 13. Orioles at Nationals: The Brother Mottram are foaming at the mouth at the thoughts of beltway baseball finally having a shred of meaning.

  • 14. Diamondbacks at Athletics: Wow, a less interesting series than the Orioles and Nationals? Shame on you, general manager Josh Byrnes.

Which of these series interest you the most, WoWies?

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Here in the United States, the sanctity of marriage is being attacked by the gay scourge, but over in Japan, it seems like nobody wants to get married at all. They even have a word, Konkatsu, to describe the fact that young people are more interested in video games and self-abuse than getting hitched. That's why the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have created a clever ruse to play the role of matchmaker and bring together some lonely guys and gals.

The Ham Fighters will sell 100 special tickets behind home plate to fifty single young ladies and fifty single young men, similar to one of those speed-dating things at bars your mom keeps surreptitiously signing you up for. The demand among the ladies has been unexpectedly high and those tickets are already sold out. However, only 10 dudes have bought tickets because Japanese men are notoriously shy and fear contact with women unless there's a plate glass window between them and an exchange of yen.

Here's the deets on the promotion:

Male fans will be given a recognizable symbol to attach to their clothes. Female fans will receive a card with a matching symbol. The couple will be assigned randomly with the male mark on their clothes matching the female mark on their card.

Seat changes will occur between innings to add on to the excitement.

The seats will be placed behind home plate and fans might need courage to participate as there is the possibility they will be shown on television.

If a couple that meets at the game ends up getting married the plan is to invite them for the ceremonial first pitch to have their first appearance as a wife and husband on the field.

That sounds needlessly complicated when compared to the courting ritual among American baseball fans, typically involving a liquor-fueled hate-f**k between a male Red Sox fan and a female Yankees fan.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night as I guess you scared me too:

Nationals 5, Pirates 4: Not every game means something in the hunt for the playoffs, but every game means something in the microcosm of itself. When Washington collects four straight singles off Tom Gorzelanny to regain the lead and the bedraggled Nats bullpen earns just its second victory in seventeen decisions, the meaning can be grokked from the relief felt by manager Manny Acta. Which I assume was palpable.

Rockies 9, Braves 0: Aaron Cook provided a bit of joy for his sadsack manager, too, spinning a complete game shutout against the Fightin' Chippers in which he induced 20 ground ball outs and allowed but four hits. No word on the palpability of relief on Clint Hurdle's ugly mug since his team is still mired in the muck. Todd Helton jacked a fourth-inning tetra tot off former M*A*S*H actor Jamie Farr.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1: I could say "I told you so" to all the fans of the worsening Blue Jays offense but that'd be just cruel. Sure, the Fightin' Scutaros managed just five runs in three games against the Red Sox and are now a mere 4-5 against AL East competition, but it'd be simply cruel of me to gloat about being right for once in my life. It's not all peaches and cream for your faithful blogger as Jon Lester pitched out of so many jams last night you should just call him Smuckers.

Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 3: The Snakes took three of four in the Battle of the Last Two Teams to Beat the Yankees in the World Series and Tear My Heart Out of My Chest, this one thanks to Mark Reynolds timely tater tottage. Fish captain Fredi Gonzalez put his foot down and decided that he could not use any of his veteran relievers after a grueling 13-inning nightcap the previous day; thus reliever Cristhian Martinez took the loss in his debut.

Cardinals 3, Cubs 1: Sweep alert! The Cards took all three in the series, scoring only eight runs but using a stout starting corps to allow just two Cubbies to cross home plate. Last night the starter of record was Adam Wainwright who camethisclose to nailing the complete game. Bearded Ryan Franklin recorded the final out for the cheapie save. Albert Pujols hit a ding-dong that knocked out the letter "I" in the Big Mac Land sign in this nationally televised affair.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, it's all right where you left it.

  • WILL tonight's debut of Braves rookie hurler Kris Medlen make us all forget about the other folks named Kris in our lives, like Liakos, Kristofferson, and Kross?

  • CAN the Blue Jays salvage the final game of the series at Fenway and avoid being swept for the first time all year? No worries, Jays fans...Jon Lester's going tonight so your worsening offense should unworsen for a night.

  • IS the third game of the Giants-Padres series destined to end in a 2-1 San Diego win for a third time in a row? With Tim Lincecum pitching, the Dads will be lucky to score one run, let alone two.

  • WHEN will the Houston Astros hitters remove their craniums from their aniums and provide Roy Oswalt with some run support? Dude should have more than one win on the year by now.

  • WOULD you ever want to have a wedding music video as awesome and as douche-chilly as the one above? Lip-dubbing to Queen? Sure!

That's going to end your business day here at Walkoff Walk. Thanks to our buddy D-Mac for another great liveglog featuring a special surprise ending! Tune in tomorrow for your Friday Favorites and a special sendoff for the Memorial Day Weekend ahead. Not so fast, Canadians. Same WoW channel.

profresources.jpg Why, the baseball is starting at 12:30 post meridiem. Hot dog! It must be a Thursday afternoon businessperson (née man) special. And thanks to the Internet, the businessperson special is now available for all of us to enjoy, though the magic of MLB gameday and liveblogs on Walkoff Walk.

That's right: It's time for one Dan McQuade (hey, that's me!) to once again contribute to a downturn in productivity of the American worker -- or at least the American baseball fan. The Reds (21-18, 3.5 GB in Central) snapped the Phillies 5-game win streak last night, but a Mets' loss kept the Fightins (21-17) in first place in the NL East by a game. Joe Blanton (1-3, 6.86 ERA) goes up against the modern day Babe Ruth, Micha Owings (3-4, 3.95 ERA). Game time's at 12:30.

12:37: The game hasn't started yet. Liars, MLB. Liars! The Phillies have a day game lineup today, with Philadelphian/Canadian hero Matt Stairs in right and Greg Dobbs at third.

12:40: Jimmy Rollins continues his recent surge with an infield hit to first base. This surge has moved his OPS+ all the way up to 52!

12:41: Chase Utley doubles over the head of a flailing Jay Bruce, and suddenly the Phils have runners on second and third with nobody out.

12:43: Is this the quickest the Phillies have scored this year? Raul Ibanez grounds out to second, Rollins scampers home; Utley is forced to hold at second. For Ibanez, it's his 37th RBI of the year. He's tearing up fantasy leagues left and right. Phillies 1, Reds 0.

12:48: After a Howard fly out to shallow center, MATT STAIRS walks. Stairs' OBP this season was .500 coming into the game. Is there a time when you have to start trying him more often? I mean, if he's getting on base now more than half the time.

12:51: Shane Victorino (who also homered in that fateful inning against the Dodgers' last October) strikes out to end the inning. No <BIG> tag for you, Shane.

12:55: Willie Taveras flies out, Adam Rosales grounds out, Jay Bruce singles to left. Sorry, I was watching this retrospective of Bret Hart World Title wins.

12:59: And, hey, what do you know, nothing happened. Brandon Phillips grounds out to Fat Joe, who bobbled but got it to Ryan Howard in time. Brandon Phillips has a .788 OPS out of the four-hole this year. That's not good, right? I always forget what's good and what's not good in OPS. It wasn't on baseball cards when I was a kid! How was I supposed to figure it out! End 1st.

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  • 12:35PM EDT, Phillies at Reds: Phils manager Charlie Manuel hopes that struggling starter Joe Blanton will return to form in this rubber match. Newsflash, Cholly: being tubby and giving up a ton of runs is Country Joe's typical form. You caught lightning in a bottle last year. Time to cut bait. Our pal Dan McQuade is going to liveglog this number for you, so I hope you didn't bring your liveglog blazer to the cleaners after last night's affair.

  • 1:05PM EDT, Rangers at Tigers: The Teegers are going for the sweep at home and their six straight win; if they pull that off they'll stake a claim to the third best record in the AL. Edwin Jackson takes the mound for Detroit while ace Kevin Millwood tries to help Texas maintain their shockingly stout AL West lead. Tigers DH Wilkin Ramirez made his debut last night and tater-totted, the first Detroit player to homer in his debut since Joe Dumars dropkicked a basketball through the goalies' leg back in '87.

  • 2:05PM EDT, Twins at White Sox: The mild-hitting Fightin' Ozzies look to sweep the similarly mediocre Twinkies as two middling pitchers battle it out in a very average American city. Nick Blackburn hasn't induced a Nickgasm all month while Bartolo Colon hopes to get more than one run of support. Somethin's gotta give. Or not.

  • 2:10PM EDT, Indians at Royals: Zack Greinke will pack his seven wins and 0.60 ERA into his knapsack and hike down from his mountain retreat toward the renovated Kauffman Stadium to take on...Carl Pavano? Sounds like an easy-peasy road towards win number eight, Zack Attack. Make it count, son. Check the insert in your Playbill because Kerry Wood will most definitely not be appearing in this affair.

  • 4:08PM EDT, Athletics at Rays: Check out the mugs on today's starters. Dallas Braden's headshot seems to indicate a false confidence while Matt Garza's headshot belies the Muppet within. These two chuckleheads have their tasks: for Braden, it's to help the last place A's take three of four from the defending champs. For Garza, it's to clean up Scott Kazmir's mess again and help the Rays right their ship. Oh no, I just used a sports cliche! Nobody tell Visser.
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Jon Heyman gets the breaking news:

The White Sox have reached agreement with the Padres on a trade for Jake Peavy but are awaiting Peavy's approval now, SI.com has learned.

Peavy has full no-trade power and the trade will be entirely his call. The sides are expecting a fairly quick decision by Peavy.

And Kevin Kaduk takes it a step further:

Chicago's package is said to include pitchers Clayton Richard(notes) and Aaron Poreda and the deal is still contingent upon Peavy waiving his no-trade clause. Though it would appear Peavy is fed up with losing in San Diego and is said to prefer playing in the Midwest, the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that Peavy may have some reservations in playing for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

And all we do here at Walkoff Walk is write the alliterative blogpost titles and slap on an animated dolphin GIF. THAT'S WHY WE GET PAID THE BIG BUCKS.

Who Can Save the Mets Soul?

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Having scored just six runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the hot, hot Dodgers, the Mets have now lost four in a row and are working their way down the NL East standings. Is the sweep to the best team in baseball just a blip in the radar for Johan Santana and the Mets or does it forebode something far worse? A day off today provides too short a respite as they head to Boston on Friday to face a Red Sox team with an equally imposing home record (15-4) as the Dodgers (17-3). Worst of all, shortstop star Jose Reyes went down with another calf ouchie last night and the Mets are already scrambling for a temporary replacement.

Who out there can save the soul of the Metropolitans?

If you were to believe the madding crowd of Mets fans, it's Triple-A stud outfielder Fernando Martinez. Via the cleverly named Mets Merized Online:

From the looks of things the timing may be right for a new direction. I believe we need to have some consistency in at least one of the corner spots. This mish-mash, pot luck strategy that we currently employ at the corners is not working.

I suggest we take a long hard look at Fernando Martinez. Out top prospect was expected to crack our lineup at some point this season anyway, so I say lets accelerate those plans a little.

F-Mart might be just the thing this team needs right now.

Currently, Martinez leads the (Buffalo) Bisons in every statistical category. He is batting .289 with 7 homers and 24 RBI's. He leads the league in doubles with 13, and his 71 total bases rank sixth. His .511 slugging percentage shows his power potential, and his current gap power would play extremely well in CitiField.

With Ryan Church carefully treading every base to stay out of Jerry Manuel's doghouse, the naif Daniel Murphy filling in for Carlos Delgado at first base, and Gary Sheffield...well, Gary Sheffield is actually hitting decently, but none of these guys are everyday players. The Mets are simply filling out two important corner outfield spots with replacement level talent (I stole that line from Drew).

It can only serve Fernando best to play every day; if he'd be punished with a reserve role, his toolsy talents will stop getting toolsier. So if Omar Minaya does decide to promote the young Martinez, he'd better be prepared to make the bold move and play the 20-year-old on a regular basis. But knowing the offensive free agent signings that Minaya made in the offseason to improve their lineup (read: none), I doubt this bold move can happen.

A: Hey kids. Good question. I had a salad, a bowl of chowder, a Fenway Frank, a slice of cheese pizza (not pictured), carrots, two scoops of mashed potatoes and a giant slab of rare roast beef. With gravy.

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Q: That's it?

A: No, I also had some vanilla soft serve with Butterfinger on it.

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Q: You're a pig.

A: That's not a question.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Elephant Bones

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Here's what happened last night in baseball while everyone was on everyone's drugs.

Yankees 11, Orioles 4, Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3: Though the Yankees and Sox weren't playing each other last night, they engaged in a long distance arms race. In Baltimore, Swisher, Cano and Cabrera went back-to-back-to-back off the straight strugglin' Jeremy Guthrie in the 2nd inning. The game stayed close before NY hung 6 runs on the Bodymore bullpen in the 8th.

Meanwhile, in Boston the Red Sox hit 5 happy jacks off of Toronto phenom Brett Cecil. 4 of them came in a 4 dong, 6 run 5th inning. Even Papi Ortiz went yard. I was doing the press box thing last night and was concerned about not being able to cheer if Ortiz did finally go tot. Luckily I had taken a little stroll around the park to fill out an all-star ballot when he hit it out. I cheered. But still, don't get too excited Sox fans. He still looks awful up there. Brad Penny got tagged all game but luckily they were hit right at his outfielders. Jacoby Ellsbury tied the single game putout record with 12.

Reds 5, Phillies 1: Cincinnati snapped a 4 game skid by riding the Droopy Dog jowls of Aaron Harang. Dude threw 7 innings of 9K/4H ball. Brandon Phillips had 3 RBI. The only Philly run came on a Raul Ibanez solo joint.

Cardinals 2, Cubs 1: As my dago colleague pointed out, and Tuffy so eloquently recapped, this was Chris Carpenters ninth career start coming off the DL. Wow. But I guess there's a reason St. Louis keeps welcoming him back. Much like Abe Lincoln the guy is great when healthy. His 5 scoreless upstaged Ryan Dempsters seven solid innings. Khalil Greene had a sac fly! Rejoice!

carpentersliveglog.jpgWhy do the Cards stand up with a cheer
Every time Chris is near?
Just like the Cubs
They long to be
Close to first

Why do balls fall down from the sky
Every time harmlessly?
Just like the Cubs
Chris longs to be
Close to first

Sure, he's been out awhile (and then awhile before that), but he's the best chance that the Cardinals will have
'Cause let's face it, Joel Piñiero can't keep up this nonsense for much longer, too.

That is why Chris' second start in town
Has the fans followin' 'round
Just like Chris
They long to be
Close to first

(While we enjoy the signature muted brass bridge from Burt Bacharach before we fade into game time, welcome to the Wednesday (very late) Afternoon Liveglog Club. We'll be tipping back Manhattans with you all night to the sophisticated mellow sounds of Burt as well as Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The game's on ESPN, so we'll be protecting our mellow vibe by muting the sound. We recommend you do the same.

Now loosen that tuxedo tie, tip back your tumbler, and join us as we glog Cubs/Cardinals here at Walkoff Walk after a message from our sponsor.)

Tonight's Questions

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presidentspierogies.jpg Hey kids, sick fridge.

  • IF I obtain a vial of Brett Cecil's sweat at the Sox/Jays tilt, how much will a Blue Jays blogger pay me for it?

  • WHAT time will the second half of the Snakes/Fish double dip end if the first game doesn't start until 5? Expect the dozens of fans that stay for the whole thing to be late to work tomorrow!

  • HOW many pitches will Chris Carpenter throw in tonight's Liveglogged Cubs/Cards game before he is doused with a fire extinguisher and put in an ambulance?

  • HOW many more losses does Eric Wedge have in him? Gil Meche and the Royals will try and make him as unemployed as the rest of us.

  • WILL the Yankees extend their winning streak to 8 games against J-Gut and the O's?

  • AND how many of the cases in tonight's Yankee Kangaroo Court will involve a naked Nick Swisher? Over/under is set at 11.

Finito, burrito. Have fun with Tuffy tonight and come back at 8PM for the glog. Show him that webfamous Walkoff Walk Hospitality, will you? Hasta manana. Same WoW Channel.

(Presidents and pierogies picture via Flickr user afagen)

Via the good folks at Big League Stew, we bring you Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready's rendition of the National Anthem prior to last night's Mariners game. Jimi Hendrix would approve:


If only my New York Yankees could be so creative with the anthem performance of each game instead of digging up the 35-year-old audiotape of late opera singer Robert Merrill's otherwise great performance. It gets old. So does Kate Smith's "God Bless America". New York is the greatest city in the world with the best arts scene around...recruit someone to do it live!

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CBS Sports personality Lesley Visser does not care for our blog title and wishes we would rise above our silly clichés in the game of baseball. Visser penned a bloggy screed for CBS decrying the ubiquitous usage of the term "walk-off" (which in the accepted style of the baseballblogosphere is written as one word, sans hyphen) in the news reports and broadcaster calls when a game ends with a run scored instead of an out recorded. Here's her thesis:

It's a joyful moment burdened by a terrible name. It's a cascade of emotions for the winning players and their fans, yet it's described in the most negative way. Johnny Damon, after a home run giving the Yankees their third straight come-from-behind win over the Twins, gets a pie in the face and here's how it's portrayed.

Is there any more of a buzz kill? Should a face full of whipped cream and gleeful celebration be defined in terms of the losers?

Well, Ms. Visser, sometimes a baseball fan's pure joy comes not only from the success of their favorite team but from the conquest of the fallen opponent. Had the opponent not failed, what celebration would there be to enjoy? For every Joe Carter there is a Mitch Williams; for every Andruw Jones there is a Kenny Rogers. Without the loser slowly sneaking back to the dugout with his head sunk low, how could a 'win' even exist?

When did this happen anyway? No surprise, it goes back to a pitcher. Back in 1988, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Lowell Cohn quoted Oakland reliever Dennis Eckersley describing a game-ending hit, when the pitcher slumps his shoulders and the team walks off the field. He called it a "walk-off piece."

The term is now ubiquitous -- a "walk-off hit", a "walk-off walk". What's next, a walk-off balk?

Well actually, the walkoff balk happened last year. And when it predictably happens to Mike Pelfrey and the Mets this year, that term will be used with aplomb. Prepare yourself now, Lesley.

My good friend, Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, disagrees with me. "It's brief and it's descriptive," he said. "It captures the image of the players walking off the field."

But who cares what they're doing? I might be alone in this, but it drives me crazy.

I know that feeling. I like to put Nutella in my oatmeal. I might be alone in that, too.

I want the greatness of the moment -- in print, on radio, over the Internet and on TV. I want clever twittering and merry voice mails. I don't want a cliché. Think how we tune out clichés. When a boss goes into "push the needle", "get our ducks in a row" or the ever-annoying "it's not rocket science", don't you glaze over? When someone wants to run an idea "up the flagpole" or needs the "big ask", isn't that debilitating?

The English language is often tortured, used in ways that detract from the moment. Baseball is supposed to be the glory of the times, the shot heard round the world and the boys of summer. I don't want a festive moment reduced to a sorry stroll from the mound.

See, this is the sort of sad professorial moaning that makes me sick. It's one thing for an English teacher to criticize poor usage, or poor grammar, or poor spelling. Those things are unacceptable in writing on any level! Even sports blogs! But I cringe when an old entrenched journalist bemoans new terms that enter the vernacular, cliche or not. That just reeks of pseudo-intellectualism and highbrow snootiness.

Shakespeare himself would have his hat set spinning if he knew writers today were spitting on invented words and phrases that had become commonplace among regular folk. The word 'walkoff' is not up for discussion.

Correction: 2009 Mariners Just Like 2008 Mariners

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How is it possible that a post where I went out of my way to say that yes the Mariners were off to a good start, but IT WAS STILL EARLY, can look so ridiculous a mere 1 month later? Simple. There are no bounds to the level of futility that permeates Safeco Field. It's simply breathtaking.

Yes, having lost 7 of 10 and sliding back down to the bottom of the AL West standings, the glum chums in Seattle are starting to throw their hands up. Don "Waka" Wakamatsu is tossing his star pitcher under the bus, attacking his lineup, and feeling generally lousy about his team. Now THIS is something Geoff Baker can sink his teeth into.

Things aren't so cozy on the good ship Mariner these days. Not after a 12th defeat in 15 games -- capped by Ichiro's strikeout in the photo above -- has dropped the Mariners four games below .500 just 15 days after they sported a 15-10, first-place record.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu did not go in the clubhouse and scream at the players the way John McLaren did a year ago this month in New York. But I'll tell you what: this season is starting to take on the feel of 2008. Too many winnable games are starting to slip away from the M's far too easily. Much of it has to do with lackluster play. The defense tonight was not very good and Wakamatsu let it be known that he felt that way.

"Sometimes you've got to ask guys to step up,'' Wakamatsu said of Hernandez. "I didn't think he stepped up today.''

Wakamatsu is also in a tiff with Yuniesky Betancourt and suddenly this season is starting to take on a different, yet equally as dire tone as 2008.

Obviously, in an AL West dominated by the Texas Rangers nothing is set in stone, and theoretically the division is still "anyone's." After their current set against the Halos, the M's get San Fran and Oakland. Beatable teams. But it's one thing to lose a slate of games, and another to feel the foundation crumbling in the middle of May. There was an expectation of failure in Seattle that led to the optimism of last month, and conversely the doom and gloom of this one. A new manager and general manager needed to instill the sort of stability that would prevent that sort of bipolar behavior. Doesn't look like it's happened.

(Update: Knowing all of this, I can't think of a more appropriate place for the first ever LOLCat Cheezburger Night than at Safeco Field. Truly an inspired choice.)

The Waste Land: No Afternoon Games Today

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C'mon MLB. The whole reason the Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club exists is because of baseball's rich tradition of Wednesday Afternoon Games. But not today. You gave us NOTHING. This is actually the second time this season you've done this. Double You Tee Eff. Your crass commercialism is robbing citizens of WoW Province the chance to while away the hours by quickly minimize Firefox. You suck.

Normally you could count on at least the Cubs playing some day baseball to get you through work. However they're in a series against the Cardinals and that gets nice ratings. So it's a night game.

But far be it from us to leave you hanging. When baseball hands us lemons we make some kind of super potent lemon moonshine out of it. Timestamping genius and visual visionary Tuffy will be taking time out from writing everywhere to glog the Cubs/Cards Tilt tonight at 8. Be here now then.

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The 2009 Cleveland Indians season is not exactly turning out as some of us had planned. They've got the worst record in the American League and have not seen the expected bullpen improvement they so dearly wanted. Kerry Wood woofed another game last night, his second blown save of '09 to go along with Jensen Lewis' four muffs, two from Rafael Betancourt, and one oopsie from Vinnie Chulk. I haven't seen a bullpen this ineffective since...well...since the 2008 Cleveland Indians.

Starter Cliff Lee and the offense built a 5-2 lead through eight innings after which Eric Wedge put out the signal for Wood. After inducing a Jose Guillen groundout, Wood allowed back to back solo dongs to Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen. He walked Miguel Olivo, a rare and difficult task given the OBA-challenged Olivo's season total of one walk prior to that appearance, before giving up a game-tying triple to Rutgers grad David DeJesus. The smart thing to do at this point would have been to walk the bases loaded and either (a) get the inning-ending double play or (b) walk in the winning run and bring shrimp to a hungry world. Instead, Willie Bloomquist drove in the deciding run with a simple sac-fly to right and the Royals celebration was on.

"He's the guy you were going to," said Wedge, after Wood's second blown save of the year. "That's the reason he's here. A three-run lead in the ninth inning is the best situation for any closer."

I can't really blame Wedge for pulling Cliff Lee out of a game in which he had cruised through eight innings, throwing 101 pitches, 65 for strikes. After all, thanks to the recent losing ways of the Cleveland Indians, closer Kerry Wood hadn't had a save opportunity since May 1st. Fella needs to get in a close-and-late game just to keep the blood pumping through the veins. Of course, in the end, the only blood pumping last night was through the forehead veins of Indians fans.

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Mario Lopez was all set to throw out the first pitch at the Dodgers game last night until he realized he had no idea what baseball was and the last time he attempted to 'toss the pill' it was something completely different. So he did exactly what any red-blooded American dancing queen would do and got some instructive help from an elderly, lecherous dago.

Now I was no superstar when I played Little League as a lad but if I was ever granted the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a ballgame, I'd rather just go out there and wing it...directly at Tommy Lasorda's head so he can go ass-over-tea-kettle and do the All Star tumble again.

(via Diamond Leung's Diamond Notes Tumblr)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night as a tear fell from her mother's eye:

Tigers 4, Rangers 0: That $39 million is finally paying off, Dave Dombrowski! Dontrelle Willis and four relievers combined to one-hit the otherwise power-hitting Texas squadron and the Tigers took the first game of the series between two first place teams. Willis went six and a third, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out five. Looks like the Zoloft is working.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: It's CC Sabathia's life, it's now or never. He's not gonna live forever. He just wants to live while he's alive. Also, A-Rod tater-totted for the fourth straight game while his old pal Mark Teixeira collected two dongs. Either A-Rod is better protection in the lineup than Hideki Matsui or someone secretly poured some steroids on Texy's Cocoa Puffs.

Braves 8, Rockies 1: Todd Helton finally collected his 2,000th career hit but it was all for naught as Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens scattered three hits and three walks over seven innings and got some run support from Casey Kotchman. The Kotch enjoyed his new spot in the 2 slot of the lineup with two doubles and three RBI and celebrated after the game with a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich, extra spicy please. Yunny Escobar is your new leadoff hitter, Braves fans.

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: In the series where I have no idea whom to root for, Tim Wakefield shut down the Jays enough over eight innings to make up for the fact that David Ortiz still can't hit. Papi returned to the lineup after his lost weekend and went hitless but the aged Wakefield fooled Aaron Hill and the Gang with his loopy knuckleball, allowing just five hits to the worsening Jays offense. Kevin Millar collected a solo dong, continuing the Red Sox starters affinity for allowing homers this year.

Cardinals 3, Cubs 0: Yeah, St. Louis had fallen out of first over the past couple of weeks but Joel Pineiro cares not to be the guy to extend a losing streak. Dude pitched a three-hit shutout over Sweet Lou's kids, retiring 23 of his last 24 batters faced and topping the night off by striking out Alfonso Soriano. Not like that's such a difficult task. Yadier Molina hit cleanup for the Cards in this affair, joining brother Bengie Molina who hit cleanup for the Giants and brother Jose who cleaned up the sunflower seeds in the Yankees bullpen.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you're only as good as your next hit record.

It's a beautiful night for a ballgame here in Boston. I hope it's the same where you are. See you tomorrow, Sunshine. 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.

  • Cliff Corcoran reviews all the tender, young pitchers that the Pittsburgh Pirates have inherited from big brother New York Yankees, including Ross Ohlendorf who mysteriously leads the NL in wins with five. Bronx Banter.

  • In the history of the world, only the peanut butter and chocolate marriage can top the new merging of pitch F/X data with home run distance, kindly provided by Jeremy Greenhouse. Notably, fat hitters will stroke a low 3-0 pitch farther than any other situation. Baseball Analysts.

  • Pat does the heavy lifting for us and explains the similarity scores between a fading David Ortiz and other historical players. Interestingly, his most similar player is Lance Berkman and the #8 guy is Carlos Lee. Tough nuts, Astros fans. Knuckle Curve.

  • Our pal Matt Sussman lost his day job and did what any good, hard-working American that got pink-slipped should do...start a brand new blog with a punny name! The Layoff Beard.

  • Michael Tyznik wants to redesign the American dollar to make it easier for blind folks to use the currency. Also, he wants to get rid of the penny so he's my hero. Dollar ReDe$ign Project.

  • When I was in Barcelona, I learned that cordero means lamb in Spanish. I had no choice but to enjoy some of Sally's rack of Wil Cordero while I enjoyed my quail stuffed with duck's liver at this romantic restaurant. Time Out Barcelona.

Bad News Bears: Eric Chavez And Khalil Greene

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Tough day in the news for a couple ballplayers whose careers have already seen their share of ups and downs.

First is A's thirdbaseman Eric Chavez. He's in Arizona rehabbing his back. It's an injury that has plagued him since 2006, and has kept him from achieving the kind of consistency that would have allowed him to continue piling up the kind of numbers that got him a 6 yr./$66M extension in 2004. Now doctors are telling Chavez that if his back goes again, it's the end of his career.

Chavez is rehabbing his most recent back problem in Arizona in the hopes of rejoining the A's on their next homestand. Doctors, however, have told him that a herniated disk in his back could go at any time, even if he sneezes.

If that happens, Chavez will need to have his previously repaired vertebra, the L4-L5, fused with the vertebra that is currently herniated, which is the L3-L4. Another microdiscectomy such as the one Chavez had in October, 2007, is out, because it would leave his spine too unstable, Chavez said.

Spinal fusions don't allow for the type of physical activity performed by pro athletes.

"This last (diagnosis) is a little bit of a punch in the gut for everyone," A's general manager Billy Beane said, "Especially for Eric, because he's worked so hard and dealt with so many issues."

Of course, Spinal Fusion has been a complicated procedure ever since it was first invented by Miles Davis and John McLaughlin on the landmark 1970 album Bitches Brew. Here's hoping Chavez doesn't sneeze and is able to, at the very least, play out the rest of that contract extension. KEEP HIM AWAY FROM THE PAPRIKA.

Hard to believe, but the news is even more depressing for St. Louis Cardinals SS, Khalil Greene. The diminutive infielder has been struggling, just like he struggled during his final years in San Diego. He doesn't exactly have the best mindset about all of it, and suffers from extreme performance anxiety to the point where he physically hurts himself. Eek. Tony LaRussa (who probably thinks he's smarter than most doctors) is going to start benching him. That should help.

"At some point, he needs to play better. I'm just doing what I can," La Russa said before Monday night's game against Milwaukee.

Greene admitted to feeling increasingly overwhelmed by his situation and did not dispute accounts that he has several times punished himself physically.

Several team members have expressed concern about the degree of Greene's self-punishment.

"That's the way it's always been," Greene said, referring to his condition's compulsive nature. "It's not rational. It's not something I think as an intelligent thinking human being. ... I understand the disorder of it. It just doesn't help."

Cardinals fans were way too excited about Khalil Greene's spring training numbers, and it appears with his mercurial emotional state he did too. His anxiety diagnosis manifests itself in more classic and observable ways than the mysterious case that Dontrelle WIllis came down with earlier this season. That's not to say that Willis isn't telling the truth, one just hopes it's not as severe as Greene. But maybe the downtime will help Khalil. After all, if anyone knows the benefits of rest, it's Tony LaRussa.

Honey, Lock Up The Dexatrim. JC Romero Is Coming Back

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When JC Romero was suspended 50 games in January for failing a drug test, he was unquestionably the most valuable player to get banned under the new PED policy. In his two previous seasons with the Phillies he pitched in 132 games with an ERA+ of 193. In last year's postseason run he pitched 9 IP, allowing only 1 ER. The numbers in the Philly bullpen are less than stellar this season, so they must be happy that Ole JC is on his way back.

He will be eligible to rejoin the Phils on June 3, barring rainouts. Major League Baseball rules allow him to pitch in the minors for 16 days before the suspension ends.

Romero began his minor-league assignment with a shaky inning of work for triple-A Lehigh Valley last night. He entered a 3-3 game in the seventh and allowed two hits, a walk and a run, taking the loss in a 4-3 setback to the Gwinnett Braves.

"It's a very bad place to be, worse than being released," he said. "When you get released, you know that you're doing something wrong and you have to step up your game. And when you get suspended for no reason, it's like somebody else is questioning your integrity and doing things with your career that shouldn't be done."

Romero has said he's "accountable" for what happened but he's still suing the company that makes the OTC drug that led to the failed test. While Romero's skills made his suspension notable, his pissing and moaning when it was announced also stood out. My advice to Romero is to follow the lead of once suspended pitcher Carlos Silva. After his suspension Silva returned to baseball apologetically and got right back to his old self, giving up a ton of hits and eating whole turkeys.

Learn from him, JC. Learn from him.

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Red Sox big boppin' DH David Ortiz is having a rough year, friends. Fella hasn't hit a home run all season and is currently being out-slugged (by a factor of almost 50%) by lightweight teammate Nick Green. You knew things had gotten bad for Big Papi when manager Tito Francona decided to give him a three-day furlough during the team's recent road-trip to Seattle, instead using Rocco Baldelli (0-for-11 with 7 Ks) as the designated hitter. So how'd you spend your three days off, Papi?

"I just relaxed a little," Ortiz said after sitting out the last three Red Sox games against the Seattle Mariners, including yesterday's 3-2 loss at Safeco Field. "We'll see. It was a little out of normal (not playing in three straight games), but I feel good. I feel good. I feel these days off, I did some things where I had to think about them and then an hour later, go ahead and try to do them, you know? Practice it. I feel good."

Throughout the Lost Weekend, Ortiz kept a low profile in the clubhouse, spending most of the time before games in the trainer's room. Yesterday, he got a deep tissue massage from massage therapist Russell Nua while some teammates stretched and the pitchers practiced bunting in anticipation of interleague play.

Later on Saturday night, David sampled the lamb saddle and smoked halibut rillette at Spring Hill restaurant, then washed it all down with some late harvest riesling viognier dessert wine, afterwards taking in progressive house DJ Sharam of Deep Dish at Trinity. Sunday morning, he rose early to get down to Pike Place Market in time to chat up the fishmongers and get the freshest Copper River salmon to ship back to Boston.

So really, Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, you call that a "Lost Weekend"? I think not. This was a lost weekend.

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Todd Helton is the best hitter in the relatively short history of the Colorado Rockies franchise, currently sitting on top of the all-time Rockie list with 1,999 hits. Hey, that's one hit shy of a very round number! In last night's game against the Braves, though, Todd went 0-fer in his shot to collect number 2000 until his at-bat in the ninth inning, when he laced a grounder past Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar and reached first base safely. The official scorer at the Ted, however, called it an error:

"I have never seen that ball ruled an error," Helton said. "I received 40 text messages saying it was a hit."

Official scorer Jack Wilkinson disagreed, leaving Helton's entrance into the 2,000-hit club in limbo. Manager Clint Hurdle will meet with Wilkinson today before the game to argue his case. So it's possible Helton will become the 255th player in the big leagues to reach the milestone -- 18 hours after he swung the bat.

"A hit's a hit," Helton said.

"You want a hit like that to be clean," Hurdle said. "But that was a smoked ball at the shortstop's feet. He holds his ground, and he either picks it or he doesn't. There's no error there for me. He either picks it and turns a double play, or it gets by him and it's a hit. That's all it is, but we'll move on. It was a poor call by the official scorer."

You can watch the replay video at MLB.com and not embedded here at Walkoff Walk because MLB Advanced Media doesn't understand the concept of the marketability of embedded viral videos and how they can help an already established media company earn new fans or improve the fan experience for existing ones.

But I digress. If Todd Helton ends up getting his 2,000th career hit because his manager (seen here attempting to rustle out an earwig) had a sit-down with an official scorer (who seemingly wasn't trying to screw Helton and actually made an unfavorable call towards his hometown shortstop), then I refuse to honor his round-numbered milestone-y accomplishment with a dolphin animated GIF post. I am sure Helton realizes the gravity of this threat.

The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Podcast Episode 1.8 is now archived at BlogTalkRadio (and allegedly at iTunes although I have no idea how to find it) for your listening enjoyment. Last night's topics included Juan Pierre's possible All-Star bid, Steve Phillips' asinine commentary during the Mets-Giants tilt, and this horrendous German pop-swing song.

The song played at the end of the podcast is a live version of "Gwen, Now and Then" by the Broken West, courtesy of KEXP at the Free Music Archive.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you were boring baby when you're straight :

Rockies 5, Braves 1: Jason Marquis is like the baseball version of that guy in high school who you never think will make it big but then shows up at the ten-year reunion wearing cheap leather pants and escorting a 45-year-old stripper, because that is totally success in his own style, man. Marquis was drafted by the Braves and came up through the Atlanta system but then dicked around on other shitty NL teams for a while before returning to the Ted last night to outduel the heck out of Derek Lowe. Didja know the Braves have only won six games at home this year?

Rays 13, Athletics 4: Overmanagin' Joe Maddon decided against batting his pitcher last night and just went with the straight DH method. Seems to have worked as Tampa collected a symmetric nine hits and nine walks and humiliated Oakland starter Sean Gallagher. Jason Bartlett had five RBI, a triple, and a caramel sundae after the game to celebrate. B.J. Upton went 0-for-3 to drop his batting average to an anemic .183. Get that checked out, Beej.

Pirates 12, Nationals 7: The Pirates smacked around the Nats bullpen real good-like to earn a win in an otherwise sloppy game. Ross Ohlendorf picked up the win despite giving up five runs in five innings, all three attempted stolen bases were gunned down, and the Nats committed four errors, two by Cristian Guzman. But hey, it's not all bad news, Nats fans! Guzman had his first walk of the year after over 125 plate appearances! Okay, nevermind, it is all bad news, Nats fans.

Yankees 7, Twins 6: Another one-run win for the Yankees did not come in a wild, walkoff-y way but still provided a modicum of drama. Reliever Phil Coke notched his first career save thanks to some sexy glovework by Mark Teixeira, who saves just as many runs with his mitt as he produces with his bat as per Yankees radio announcer John Sterling. That's a slight exaggeration by Sterling, and not an actual complete effing lie.

Dodgers 3, Mets 2 (11): Ryan Church nearly scored the go-ahead run for the Mets in the top of the 11th but missed third base and was called out. The Mets then committed their fourth and fifth errors of the game in the bottom half of the inning leading to the walkoff win by the Dodgers. To sum up Church's boner, here's WoW reader Metschick's tweet from last night via our pals at the 700 Level: "Just like a guy, skips third base intent on scoring."

Tonight's Questions

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distressedbatmanbaby.jpg Hey kids, I'll just sit here.

  • CAN the Mets continue their successful West Coast swing in LA, where the Dodgers have been excellent this season?

  • WILL the Pirates use the Nationals lousiness to get back in the NL Central mix?

  • HOW badly do the Twins need to avoid the sweep and leave Yankee Stadium with their dignity and sanity intact?

  • NOW that baseball is moving up the start times for the World Series does this mean Rob can stay up for the whole game with the grownups?

  • DO you Furious Five live on Monday nights at 10 PM, or do you DL it later and listen on the train? If you just ignore us all together, you're really missing out. Plus you're supposed to be supportive, Mom.

We'll see you tonight on the radio. Then back here tomorrow, same WoW channel. You too, Cranky Batman Baby.

Mariners Come Up With Cool Promo, We Ruin It

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The Mariners have locked up what is, in my opinion, the finest promo giveaway of the season. They've basically taken Classic TV Friday, made it Marinerscentric and put it on a DVD. It's a collection of all their greatest commercials, given out to the first 20,000 fans. Awesome. I wish all teams did this.

But alas, they don't, and you can't go to Seattle because you spent all your money on cigarettes and gravy. Don't worry kids, I got you covered. Here are the coolest Mariner Commercials I could find on YouTube.

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Here's "Ichiro's Autograph" in which the titular Mariner does a solid for a young fan. But until the last few seconds it's ambiguous enough to think that Ichiro could actually be taunting her.



Here's Jay Buhner fretting over his wife's fidelity at an Eagle Hardware store. He's wearing his uniform, and to tell you the truth I can believe that he wore that thing everywhere. Picking out civillian clothes is hard, y'all.



Another Eagle Hardware promo. This one has Alex Rodriguez taking home repair tips from their friendly staff. He was so young, innocent and vaguely likable back then. Bonus points for the obvious HJ allusion in the hammer scene.



Here's Mariner announcer and WoW favorite Dave Niehaus schilling for Brooks Chrevolet and looking like the bastard lovechild of Fred Mertz and Jimmy Buffett.



This is a Nike commercial from when Ken Griffey Jr. ruled the world. The spot is one of the Griffey For President ones. It focuses on his campaign promise of reinstating the game of pepper in baseball parks. I don't want to spoil all the guest stars for you. But they definitely get better than Teve Torbes.



(We owe cold Cokes to the Surviving Grady dudes for finding the promotion.)
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Ron Gardenhire. Now here's a guy that understands that sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) a manager actually has to do stuff to get his team back to winning. You see there was more to the Twins nightmare weekend in the Bronx than just late inning walkoff ding dongs set to sweeping orchestral music and the approving grunts of bleacher bums. Gardy says the Identicals' hitters weren't executing. Especially when it came time for them to make decisions on 2-0 counts.

"We're just going to have to start giving the take sign," Gardenhire said. "You want them to understand the game and not be robots. That's what this game's all about, but it happened two or three times today, where we're 2-0 counts. We need to get a guy on base, and we swing and pop it up.

"That can't keep happening. You give them leeway and then you have to start telling them this is what we're gong to do. Those are the disappointing parts of this, but we've gotta learn from it. So we'll talk to them, like we always do. Continue to make them understand the game of baseball."

Gardenhire noted that (Carlos) Gomez not only swung at the 2-0 pitch but "almost fell down doing it."

Give em an inch and they'll take a mile. It's the same thing with the band of 6 year olds I have selling Chiklets on the streets of Tijuana. I practically have to push them at the gringo tourists while they sit around picking their nose. But I digress.

The Twins are 6th in the AL in team OBP. That leaves them right about the middle of the pack. They're fifth in team WHIP, also right in that meaty part of the curve. Could the Twins benefit from seeing more pitches, tiring out opposing pitchers and possibly gaining some more baserunners in the process? As a matter of fact, yes, every single team in creation can benefit from that. Reinstate the take sign for your 21 year old players, Ron.

Joe Maddon Drinks Too Much Riesling, Flubs Lineup Card

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One of the worst kept secrets in baseball is that Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon spends most of his office time working on wine pairings and exotic head cheeses for his next charcuterie party instead of paying attention to his lineup card. Well, his refined hipster taste finally caught up with him this weekend when he entered two 3Bs on his official card and his team had to forfeit the DH spot. MADDON BONERZ.

Manager Joe Maddon planned to have Longoria serve as the DH in the series finale against the Indians with Ben Zobrist playing third base. The lineup was listed that way on the card in the Rays' clubhouse, but apparently not on the official sheet provided to the umpires and the Indians before the game.

After the top of the first inning was played with Zobrist manning third for the Rays, the umpires gathered down the first-base line for a lengthy discussion. They then moved to the Indians' dugout, where they continued the talk with manager Eric Wedge, who appeared animated at times.

Because Zobrist had already played, the Rays had to forfeit the DH slot and have the pitcher bat in what would have been Longoria's slot - third in the batting order.

So Andy Sonnanstine, who loves hitting more than any other Rays pitcher, ended up batting third when play resumed in the bottom of the first inning - and promptly knocked Carl Crawford off the bases with an ineffective bunt down the third-base line that got Crawford forced out at second base.

Whoops. That's even more embarrassing than the time Coach accidentally got Lisa Loeb's frames at Lens Crafters. Sonnanstine wasn't a total loss. He actually had an RBI double in the the fourth and the Rays cruised to a 7-3 victory.

Seems to me that Maddon is getting a little careless and doesn't realize that last year's edition of the Rays kind of steered themselves. This year, with his staff giving up a full run more per game, Joe Cool needs to buckle down and lead his squad back in this thing. LESS SHOEGAZE, MORE MATH ROCK.

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In last night's ESPN Sunday game of the week, New York starter Mike Pelfrey pitched six solid innings of six-hit ball, but somehow managed to commit three balks. Two of the balks led directly to the Giants' two runs; that was all San Fran needed as they toppled the Mets 2-0 behind the competent pitching of face of the franchise Matt Cain (on Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Day...ouch, sorry Matt Cain.)

Pelfrey blames the first balk on poor footing on the mound, and the final two balks on mental mistakes. He nearly caused a fourth balk after being pulled from the game: he punched the water cooler upon returning to the dugout and shrieked in pain, causing reliever Ken Takahashi to fall off the mound thinking there was a schoolgirl in distress somewhere in the stadium.

Mike, in his own words:

"For some reason mentally, I didn't want to come set," Pelfrey explained. "It's really, really weird. I knew that I was doing it. I tried to think about something else so I wouldn't do it. It didn't turn out that way... I think I had the yips... My mind kept telling me to pick the guy off... Maybe on national TV I like making a fool out of myself."

Don't worry, Mike, about your temporary case of the yips. This is not the sort of concern the New York tabloids would ever beat incessantly into the ground. And hey, even if your wacky balk problems continue and you can't stop futzing around on the mound, you can either take the Rick Ankiel approach or just subscribe to the Yips-Be-Gone newsletter.

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After nine days of touring the cities and countryside of Spain, I can report that there truly is very little baseball in Spain. When getting ready each morning, we popped on the TV and saw a ton of soccer highlights, the German version of American Idol, and way too much coverage of this nonsense, but surprisingly, no daily rollcall of web gems and tater tots. Shocking, I know! Despite the lack of baseball, there is a good deal of shrimp among the bounty of food and wine as evidenced by that snapshot from a great tapas-crawl we had in Madrid. Over the week or so we spent hopping around Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, and Barcelona, we ate enough food and drank enough Rioja and Cava to make your head spin.

In fact, my head is still spinning. We had jamon iberico, queso manchego, churros and porras; calamares y polpo gallega; deep-fried small green peppers and pigs' ears; lamb, beef and pork; quail, pheasant and partridge; we ate delicious fishes off a bundt-cake size pile of anchovies, tasted mussels and sardines and razor clams from a can, and enjoyed the single best bite-sized nom of my entire life: a hunk of blood sausage wrapped in a thin slice of potato, deep fried and served atop a slice of bread topped with a fried quails egg.

Although I temporarily replaced my baseball addiction with an obsession to eat every specie of mammal, bird, and fishy, I didn't take a week off from checking the Yankees score each morning. Other than their good run, the Mets walkoff walk win, and Jon Lester's ballooning ERA, I pretty much missed out on my daily baseball fix. Still, I was able to steal my girlfriend's Euro-enabled Blackberry to read up on the goings-on at Walkoff Walk and could not have been happier with what I saw. It's truly a testament to the passion of our readership, not just the dedication of our pals D-Mac and Drew, that something Kris and I created sixteen months ago could be so capably handled while I was away and while Kris was finishing up his stint as Bob the Builder. Thanks again to our readers, commenters, Furious Five guest Jonah Keri and especially Dan McQuade for holding down the fort.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Wasps Nest

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Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you had a wet martini in a paper cup.

Padres 3, Reds 1: Jake Peavy turned in one of his best starts of the season, a 4 hit complete game that included a stretch of 17 straight retired. The Padres completed the sweep, which should make the Reds feel really really terrible about themselves.

Yankees 3, Twins 2: Speaking of sweeps the Yankees, go for one tonight after using walkoffs to take the first three games of this series. Yesterday's was of the tater tot variety, specifically a solo 10th inning happy jack by Johnny Damon. A-Rod went yard again marking one of the only blemishes on Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey's day. AJ Burnett went six point two and only allowed two runs in spite of giving up 6 hits and 6 BBs.

Mariners 3, Red Sox: Good news and bad news for Boston. They've been terrible on the West Coast so far, but luckily don't have to go back. Yesterday's loss came after 3rd string SS Nick Green threw the would be final out 10 rows into the first base box seats. Beyond that it took only a seeing eye single to end the game. Walkoff flub. FSSJD Drew totted to continue his hot streak in the 3 slot. HE SHOULD STAY THERE ALL SEASON.

Brewers 8, Cards 2: Hey, Manny Parra pitched okay again! Whee! Our boy tossed 6 innings of 2 ER ball and Prince Fielder had a 3 run ding dong in the 7th inning. The back to back wins against St. Louis coupled has vaulted the Milwaukee Machas into first place in the division with a 1.5 game lead over the Cubs. That deserves a High Life.

squidbase.jpgLots of interesting stuff happened last night in the world of baseball. We were up to catch it since we can't sleep in the nation of imagination.

Padres 6, Reds 5: Sweet Revenge! The Padres responded smartly to my mockery and name-calling by winning their second straight game, their first successive wins in a month! The Padres came back against the viciously squeezed Reds bullpen, outlasting the undermanned vistors until the 16th inning. Nick Hundley hit a walkoff bomb off tired starter Micah Owings. The Padres move into third place in the West despite owning the league's world run differential. Max Scherzer picked up his first career win versus Braves in Atlanta. 6 innings of shutout ball will do it almost every time. The Dodgers couldn't pick up Eric Milton in his first start back. Not for a lack of trying .400 hitter Juan Pierre! Pierre went 3 for 5 with a triple and two steals in a losing effort. Juan Pierre is tired of carrying the Dodgers. It takes 25 men to walk away with a division title.

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 1: J.P. Riccardi has a pretty easy job. Find carcass, prop carcass on pitching mound, await results. Your first place Toronto Blue Jays got 8 innings of 3 hit ball from Robert Ray to sneak by the White Sox. 2 runs in the bottom of the eighth secured the win for the Blue Jays. Alex Rodriquez's only hit of the day proved to be a crucial won, a walkoff two run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning. The much-maligned Yankee bullpen blew another save but held the fort long enough for A-Rod to do his thing. The Red Sox beat the Mariners, the Rays beat the Tribe and even the lowly Orioles won on Saturday, meaning every single team in the American League East won on the same day. East coast bias indeed.

Mets 9, Giants 6: Now that's a duel of the day! The Mets touched Randy Johnson for 7 runs and 11 hits in only 4 innings, picking up mortal-for-a-day Johan Santana. The four earned runs sent Santana's ERA skyrocketing to a pedestrian 1.36. Carlos Beltran added three hits (two doubles) to raise his average to a cool .379. The Phillies beat the Nationals 1.67 times in a single day! The second game of the double dip was cut short due to rain and society's complete rejection of the Washington Nationals baseball club. Raul Ibanez hit three home runs on the day, an act of Spanish solidarity with his number 1 booster Rob Iracane.

Brewers 1, Cardinals 0: Suppan! I knew I should have selected this game as the Duel of the Day. Scattering 6 hits over 7 innings with only a single walk is good stuff, the 2 perfect innings from the bullpen is icing on the cake. Pity poor Adam Wainwright, his 8 innings of 2 hit ball was marred by a Corey Hart home run in the fourth. Milwaukee takes over first in the NL Central, winners of 4 in a row. The Cubs extended their hitting streak to five games against LeTroy Hawkins and the Astros bullpen. Cubs "Closer" Kevin Gregg gave up 4 runs in the top of the 9th without recording an out but Alfonso Soriano saved the day in the bottom of 9 with a game-winning single. I'm sure Real Cubs closer Carlos Marmol won't be shy about pointing out to whomever will listen that he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

Today: I'm taking my kid to her first game, my first of the season. You're on your own scumbags. Roy Halladay is pitching but Sandy Koufax is dead so that can't be your duel of the day. How about AJ Burnett versus Kevin Slowey? That sounds dueltastic! Texas will try to take the brooms to the Angels, who hope they're returning starter will last more than two pitches.

Image courtesy of Bostonist via Catshirt

SLIMPity the poor Friars as they sink to new lows. A hot start to the season saw them tied for first in the NL West just one month ago today. Since then, they've nearly plummeted to the bottom of the division (propped up by the slumping and slightly unlucky Snakes) and don't figure to rise any time soon. The pitching's bad, the offense worse. The poor geniuses at Gas Lamp Ball have taken to compiling ways the Padres can get any worse. Not pretty.

Recently GM Kevin Towers took to the airways, promising fans a slew of upcoming roster changes. Trades, call ups, demotions were all promised. Truthfully, as the GLBallers pointed out, they could improve at nearly every single position. Only all-world Adrian Gonzales and all-Hairston Scotty Hairston are significantly above replacement level. The Padres willfully employ David Eckstein, who's value over replacement sprite is at an all-time low.

So who could go? Or where? The oft-rumoured Jake Peavy trade now seems inevitable, though Towers vows not to speak of it lest it disappear once again. Gonzales seems unlikely to move lest Kevin Towers be crushed under a tidal wave of fish tacos. Young Kevin Kouzmanoff put up decent Petco numbers last year but can't do anything right in 2009. Never an OBP machine, his current mark of .263 is pathetically Gilesian. Brian Giles, singled out for mockery by yours truly 3 weeks ago as baseball's least valuable player, remains ahead by a comfortable margin in the race to replacement mountain. Catcher of the future Nick Hundley and other guy of the future Chase Headley are both struggling, the lack of internal options to replace them will at least see them working it out at the big league level. Bird-like pitcher Chris Young's game has evolved (de-volved?) to the point where his fly ball heavy attack can only function in the gigantic, ocean-misted environs of Petco Park.

In other words, the Padres might just be up shit's creek. Unless they're willing to overpay a team rife with young available pitching talent, there don't seem to be too many moves to make. Short of completely blowing the team up by trading Peavy and Gonzales, the Padres will have to suffer away in their Pacific paradise full of beautiful women, weather, and college pitching phenoms.

Fish Cokes to the good people at Gas Lamp Ball

invisibleman.jpgA busy Saturday afternoon will give way to a busy night and afternoon. Some lucky teams are even playing TWO games today. Which game will earn the coveted Duel of the Day?

Fox Never Stops: Some peculiar choices for national broadcast today. The struggling Angels take on the dominant Ranger? John Lackey's first start of the year is certainly newsworthy. Vincente Padilla's fierce mug drives the TV value down, down, down. The aforeshiton Indians battle against the Rays in Florida with the excellent Matt Garza hoping his lobo skills are up for a dance with Carl Pavano. Fox's likely choice for showcase game and my sentimental Duel of the Day selection goes to Johan's Mets against Randy Johnson's Giants. Randy Johnson, the finest of all Old Knives, is nothing short of a freak of nature. Gene Wojciechowski recently went over the Unit's high school scouting reports from 198-freaking-2. Intense. The Giant Ginger Giant is stuck on 298 career wins though Johan Santana will ensure that wait lasts 5 more days. For what it's worth, you can keep your Clemens: Randy Johnson is the best pitcher of our generation.

The Righttime More good stuff tonight. The unfortunate Dallas Braden faces the youthful Rick Porcello in Detroit while Eric Milton makes his first appearance in nearly two years for the Dodgers in Florida. I think they're just screwing with the rest of the division at this point. Part two of the Phillies/Nationals goes tonight with The Danial Cabrera Experience lulling tired infielders to sleep with his wildly inefficient ways. Attending both of these games is better than Ambien at only 1500 times the price! Offseason addition and former next-big-thing Garrett Olsen makes his first start for the Mighty Mariners tonight, facing rib enthusiast Josh Beckett. Will Stinky Papi get back into the lineup? Olsen's a lefty so we might see as much Rocco on the field as in my dreams.

cinema.majorleague.groundskeepers.jpgThe Cleveland Indians aren't a good baseball team. They have some exciting young players, but they currently find themselves in last place in the sad AL Central. While the starting rotation is no great shakes, the Tribe's bullpen is experiencing a truly terrible season.

So terrible they've been, analysts create new adjectives to describe them. ESPN's Keith Law dubbed them Zantacular on his Twitter page. Last night, the Tribe's pen coughed up a 7-0 lead to the Tampa Bay Rays. Last week they surrendered 7 runs in a seventh inning collapse against the Jays. Of the twelve pitchers to emerge from the pen, only four contribute positively to wins on a regular basis. Even worse, they almost all preform worse in high-leverage situations. That doesn't bode well for their run prevention.

Cleveland residents can take hope in a few things, one being Kerry Wood. He hasn't pitched nearly as bad as his numbers indicate. His excellent ratio of strikeouts to walks will win out over his extremely high BABIP. The home runs will come down and the strand rate will come up. Sadly, I can't say the same for the rest of the staff. The defense behind them isn't doing many favors, yet some of them (Jensen Lewis & Vinnie Chulk I'm looking at you) have been saved by their defense.

The Tribe were expected to be better this year, but the pitching has really let them down. The starters aren't going very deep while the bullpen appears incapable of bailing them out. Could be a long year by the lake cuz folks: CC Sabathia ain't walking through that LaPorta.

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It seems last night featured one collapsing closer after another. Most were quoted after the game as saying "don't talk about anything else, we don't wanna know!"

Royals 8, Orioles 1: GREINKE PARTY! Not even a three hour rain delay could deter the Royals faithful from spending time with their favorite son. Grienke delivered too, pitching 7 innings of one-run ball. The Royals got offense by facing Orioles pitching and scoring early. You got the sense after the Royals pushed across two runs in the first (after miscommunication in foul territory let an easy out drop) that this one was all but done. The Tigers got 5 ribbies each from Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn in beating savagely on the A's. Edwin Jackson continued his surprising start with 7 innings of walk free baseball. I'm officially worried for the future of mankind.

Dodgers 6, Marlins 4: It took a while for the Dodgers offense to get going against Chris Volstad, but the tots came in bunches and the Dodgers are once again cruising. Casey Blake and pinch hitter Xavier Paul homered in the sixth inning to power the Dodgers offense. The Fish are losers of 5 in row. What should have been a Lincecum party in San Francisco turned into more unfortunate adventures from Twitter legend Brian Wilson. Wilson certainly didn't help his own cause by throwing a bunt into left field, taking an unearned run hit. More closer mayhem in Pittsburgh thanks to Matt Capps. 3 runs in the top of nine sent the Rockies past the Pirates,

Yankees 5, Twins 4: Joe Nathan, one of the closingest closers to ever close, couldn't close it out against the hot Yankee bats. Three runs plated in the ninth thanks to Nathan's two walks and three hits. Closin's hard! The Red Sox have a few Japanese players on their roster, but last night they learned not to mess with the finest of them all. Ichiro! hit two home runs, including the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning. The Jays beat the White Sox and the Rays came from way behind to beat the Indians because the non-Greinke Central is a wasteland of abject failure.

Elsewhere: Your first place Texas Rangers outlasted the Angels in a rare bad start from Joe Saunders. Ian Kinsler hit two more home runs but wonderlithe Derek Holland had his first bad big league outing. The NL Central was rained out while Nats and Phils used 15 pitchers in a twelve inning game. Exciting time!

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, I've always been plagued by pattern recognition.

  • WHICH weekend series is of the most consequence? I don't think you'd be wrong in saying either Angels/Rangers or Brewers/Cardinals.

  • IS Zack Greinke ever going to make a bad start again? The Orioles hope so, he'll take the hill against them tonight.

  • CAN Jon Lester help Boston make good on this West Coast trip out in Seattle? I'm still hopeful since his indicators point to him snapping out of his funk soon.

  • WILL the Dodgers continue to stay above the Manny mess and gut the floundering Fish?

  • CAN Barry Larkin rap? Of course he can!

  • WILL the Blue Jays TCB against the White Sox and hold on to first place? Living legend Brett Cecil gets the ball at home tonight for Toronto.

  • AM I going to ask that about Toronto for every series they play as long as they're in first? Probably.

  • HAVE you ever seen the 1972 film "Fuzz"? I watched it last night after the sports massacres. Not very good. But Florida State Seminole Burt Reynolds was great in it, Raquel Welch was really hot and it was cool to see the streets of Boston from 1972. So it was bad, but I still recommend it.

The week is over and I'd just like you all to give Daniel "D-Mac" McQuade another round of applause. To say he ably filled in for Rob is a vast understatement and I couldn't be more thankful for the help. He'll still be dropping in, but it was a real treat to get to read him on a regular basis here. Keep up with all the other places he's writing by following his Twitter. Thanks again, man.

And speaking of dudes who show me up on a regular basis, Drew is in the house all weekend. This is site is a damned juggernaut, I'll tell you. See you all later. Same WoW channel.

(Photo of Dewey with the awesome Rollie Fingers 'stache stolen from Bob's Baseball Museum.)

Before I begin, I'd like to share with you my favorite screenshot from Major League that tells you, "Yes, this movie was released in 1989."

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Thank you.

cinema.majorleague.cover.jpg Each week Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. At-bat now in Cinema Varitek: Major League, the 1989 comedy about the Indians starring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo, Wesley Snipes, James Gammon and Dennis Haysbert; written and directed by David S. Ward (who wrote Sleepless in Seattle and wrote and directed The Program). These reviews usually contain spoilers.

Whatever the premise of a movie, it still must make sense. A movie can have dogs or girls (or dogs and girls) who play baseball or it can have an asteroid about to crash into earth. The characters in the movie must react like normal human beings. The details still need to be right.

Even the little things matter. At the end of Air Bud: World Pup, Buddy fills in for an injured Brianna Scurry (as herself) a save on the final penalty kick in the 2003 Women's World Cup to win it for the U.S. I know it's a kid's movie, but: What? Buddy is a boy. He shouldn't be allowed to play in the Women's World Cup. If I were a woman, I'd be offended.

Or take Roger Ebert's review of Air Bud: Golden Receiver:

The first time Buddy runs onto the field, the announcer shouts, "It's a dog!" Don't you kinda think a play-by-play announcer in a small suburban town would recognize the golden retriever that had just won the basketball championship? A dog like that, it attracts attention.

It's a bad sign for your movie if people are walking out of the theater talking about a huge plot hole, or a mistake or the couple next to them having sex during the movie's slow parts. A filmmaker can prevent the first two. And don't dismiss a movie's flaws just because it's a kids' film or a comedy (which mainly kids watch). Kids are the only ones who watch movies without being drunk or stoned or asleep. They'll notice this stuff.

Here's where I'm going: At the end of Major League, after the Cleveland Indians win the AL East (the movie's from 1989) in a one-game playoff, the movie ends.

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There's no mention of the American League Championship Series, no mention of the playoffs. The players celebrate, the fans run on the field (again, the movie's from 1989), hey, end of movie. A movie doesn't need a 20-minute epilogue to set up the sequel like Spider-man 2, but an extra scene or two would be nice.

Major League has some funny scenes, and a couple good one-liners. And it has the Allstate spokesman/president on 24 shaving his head with a knife.

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But it also has a a montage scene that goes all the way to clip (Q). Sports movies are cliched, baseball movies perhaps more so. But that doesn't mean the every character needs to be a one-note joke. We know virtually nothing at the end of the movie about the characters we didn't know when we first saw them. Whoo, let's celebrate!

Then again, the movie does have this:

Pete Rose Welcomes You To The Baseball Family - 1985

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When some old guy tells you what a disgrace today's players are, what with their steroid use and at bat rap music, show em this video for me, will ya? In Today's Classic TV Friday Clip, Charlie Hustle thanks fans on behalf of "the baseball family." A family that "has had it's share of problems." Oh, it's also a family that would excommunicate him for life in a couple of years.

So here's Pete Rose (inveterate gambler), acknowledging that baseball has problems, then introducing Doc Gooden (cokehead) and Vince Coleman (accused rapist and firecracker thrower) as just the guys to turn it around. Whoops!

Don't let people tell you that baseball is worse off now than it ever was. It's always been the refuge of degenerates and Walkoff Walk is just proud to be part of the tradition.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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  • Conor Jackson, Snakes: Jackson was placed on the 15 day deel with "a general illness." It's a serious issue who's symptoms include general malaise, general nausea, General Motors and Sgt. Slaughter. He had been struggling as of late, but Arizona must take great pains with his treatment to ensure that he doesn't test positive for Dimetapp.

  • Adam Jones, Orioles: My second favorite Non-Boston AL East player strained his hamstring on Wednesday and had to leave the game. Best to rest those things on a quick player before they get too severe. This can weaken the structural integrity of the hamstring and cause it to snap whenever a player speeds up past walking. See: Ken Griffey Jr, for most of this decade.

  • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youk's oblique injury that we mentioned last week was bad enough to land him on the deel Tuesday night. He plans to spend his time off catching up on Grey's Anatomy repeats and finally making that triangle costume for his cat, Miss Penelope.

  • Joey Votto, Reds: Votto has been smacking the ball around, but left Wednesday night's game with dizziness. Prior to that game, he had suffered a bout with the flu and missed four games. He needs to stop hanging out with Conor Jackson. In Guadalajara.

  • Nate Robertson, Tigers: Robertson hurt his back while doing squats which sounds like it is 100% made up. He's on the DL but we need the real story here. Let's go to our Walkoff Walk Detroit Correspondent, Joh... oh, really? I guess we laid him off.

  • Josh Johnson, Marlins: Johnson left his start early on Wednesday with weakness in his right shoulder. He'd been the best pitcher on the Marlins up to this point and said there wasn't any pain in his shoulder, it just didn't feel right. He also told his shoulder "it's not you, it's me."

  • Brian Bannister, Royals: Man every pitcher I talked well about this week got hurt. Bannnister yanked himself* from his last start with stiffness** in his shoulder. Not good for that slipping squad.

  • Erik Bedard, Mariners: Bedard will miss his start against the Red Sox tomorrow with a tight hamstring. I hadn't said anything nice about him yet, but I was thinking about it. NOT NOW, WIMPY.

  • Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals: Ludwick hit the deel with a hamstring problem. It looks like, in one of the true upsets of this young season, Hamstring steals a week from Oblique as most ubiquitous injury. Way to go, Hamstring. You've earned it. People in STL are freaking out.

*ha

**haha

Baseball Before Bedtime: Westfall

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Here's what happened last night in baseball, but evil don't look like anything.

Angels 5, Red Sox 4: This game went on so long, I almost missed the beginning of that lousy Celtics game which immediately preceded the lousy Bruins game. A back an forth affair that found Boston answering almost immediately whenever LA would take a lead, Jeff Mathis finally ended the thing in the bottom of the 12th with an RBI single off of Manny Delcarmen. After David Ortiz turned in an 0 for 7 day stranding 12 guys, he gave the following quote to reporters: "Sorry, guys. I don't feel like talking today. Just put down, `Papi stinks."' Great now I'm crying at the coffee shop.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2: "'You have to give our trainers Trainer of the Day for getting them back in there,' manager Joe Girardi joked." He's a regular Henny Youngman. That quote was in reference to Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui returning from injuries and contributing key hits in the win. CC Sabathia scattered 5 hits over 8 innings. Brian Tallet pitched pretty well but got in some trouble walking guys. STOP DOING THAT.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 1: Colby Rasmus' 2nd inning 2 run tater tot was all the offense St. Louis needed. Starter Mitchell Boggs allowed 11 baserunners in just 4.1 innings, giving the Cards bullpen quite a workout. Even more so than that time I threw two full nests of angry hornets in there during a game.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, your face is showing.

  • DID the Pirates use my piece from yesterday as bulletin board material? They're going for the sweep of St. Louis.

  • WILL CC Sabathia and the Yankees take rubber from those Blue Jays?

  • CAN the Royals put the brakes on their recent skid against the Orioles?

  • THINKING about attending a show at Johnny D's in Davis Sq., Somerville? Don't. They tossed me and my buddy out of the Justin Townes Earle show last night for hooting and clapping. AT A COUNTRY SHOW. Screw this, I'm moving to Texas.

I bid you all a good evening. Tomorrow is Friday. We've got a whole lineup of good stuff. Creampuff, Classic TV and DMac's Cinema Varitek review of Major League. Get pumped. Same WoW channel.

wow.051409.geyser.jpg Ever get the feeling that now might be the apocalypse, at least in Philadelphia? From the Dodgers coming to town without Manny to icebergs in the Delaware River (in May, no less) to geysers erupting in Northeast Philly near where I grew up (photo at right courtesy of my dad).

Or maybe not. But it is a little rainy out today. The Phillies take on the Dodgers at 1:05-ish, and I'll guide you through this National League tilt. Chad Billingsley (5-1, 2.45 ERA) goes up against Cole Hamels (1-2, 6.17 ERA).

1:03 - Another sign of the apocalypse: A bunch of clowns are parading around Citizens Bank Park today. Tom McCarthy says the circus is in town, but I don't believe it.

1:05 - "It's a wonderful day to play hooky from work," McCarthy says. I support any franchise that encourages things like that.

1:07 - Juan Pierre opens the game with a groundout. Just because Joe Torre has to play Pierre because Manny Ramirez is suspended doesn't mean he needs to bat him first. (Yes, he's on fire so far. Old habits are tough to break.)

1:08 - Rafael Furcal singles to center. There goes the no-hitter! Way to go, Cole.

1:13 - Orlando Hudson strikes out looking on a 3-2 count, and Carlos Ruiz throws to Chase Utley who throws to Ryan Howard to get Rafael Furcal in the basepaths. Strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out and the top of the first is over.

1:15 - The Phillies are up, and Jimmy Rollins (.200/.239/.292, 35 OPS+) is back in the leadoff spot today after two days in the five hole.

1:16 - He's happy to be home at, uh, first! He doubles down the right field line to lead off the bottom of the first.

1:17 - What do you do with your #2 hitter in the top of the first? You sacrifice him to the pitcher, of course. This is one of the things about Charlie Manuel that infuriates me. Shane Victorino nearly beat it out for a hit a pitch after almost being hit. J-Roll's on third and Chase Utley is up.

1:21 - Well, at least it worked. Utley walks and Howard flies out to center. Rollins scores his 16th run of the season. Phillies 1, Dodgers 0.

1:27 - Billingsley strikes out Werth swinging to end it. Billingsley was born in Defiance, Ohio -- "It's a cultural wasteland," some dude says of it -- but lives in Reading in the offseason. This must be a dude who loves cultural wastelands. I kid, I kid. Reading's okay. It's no Old Forge, though. End 1st.

A Meditation In Time Of War: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05, Marlins at Brewers: The Brewers have their dustpans tucked into the waistband of their baseball pants and are hoping to use them against the straight strugglin' Marlins. Dave Bush gets the start for the home team while the rejuvenated and oft dominant Josh Johnson will go for the Fish.

  • 1:05, Dodgers at Phillies: There's rubber in Philly and DMac is going to bring it to you in his visually stunning Liveglog style. Perhaps he will even tell you what he's eating for lunch. I'm gonna guess Grilled Cheese on White and Tomato Soup. Chad Billingsley takes on C073 Hamels. That's how a robot would spell it.

  • 1:10, Tigers at Twins: Last night's tilt was one of the regular season's most notable games thus far. Dontrelle Willis made his return, giving up 4 runs in 4.1 innings, but more importantly said he felt like he was regaining confidence. The game went all the way to 13 innings before Joe Crede's walkoff King Dong. Today it's the red hot Justin Verlander against Scott Baker as Minnesota tries for the schweep.

  • 2:05, Mariners at Rangers: King Felix takes on Matt Harrison as Texas breaks out the brooms and tries to strengthen its grip on the illustrious AL West. Somebody take it, please! Hernandez, WoW's AL Cy Young pick has been lousy as of late.

  • 2:20, Padres at Cubs: Hoo boy, that NL Central is bunched up tighter than a pack of squirrels in a corn silo. That sounds like something a fan of an NL Central team would say, doesn't it? The Cubs are right back near the top, one of four teams within a half game of each other at the top of the standings. They got the dustpans out today against the nonfactor Padres. But fear not San Diegans, change is coming.

  • 3:10, Astros at Rockies: The surprising Wandy Rodriguez looks to continue his stellar start and then.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • 3:35: Red Sox at Angels: LA got a superb start out of Matt Palmer last night to turn today's match into rubber. Ervin Santana is back for the Angels. How will he fare. For the sake of the Red Sox, I hope very very terribly. At least today. BAWSTUN IS A BROTHAHOOD.

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Though owner Lew Wolff will have to pay for a stadium himself, San Jose is ready to negotiate with him to move the Oakland Athletics to San Jose. The city, though, is in San Francisco Giants territory, and MLB would have to approve the move.

Money trumps all, of course, and this is just the beginning of a long, slow move back to Philadelphia for the Athletics. As you can see from the above map, the Athletics will go from San Jose to Portland to the Moon before heading back to the bustling metropolis of Philadelphia in 2113.

Map outline by Jared Benedict; work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Note: The rest of the stuff is just stolen fair use.

Instant Replay Machines Feeling Used

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If you're a superfan of instant replay, last night was a banner evening for you. Also, I'd probably hate watching TV with you because I'll bet you constantly use the DVR. Two home runs were overturned last night, one in Pittsburgh and one in Milwaukee. Here's a recap of the replays.

Soon after Pittsburgh's Adam LaRoche became the first player to have a home run taken away following a video replay review, Florida's Ross Gload lost one the same way Wednesday night when umpires reversed their call.

LaRoche wound up with a double at PNC Park. Gload's pinch-hit drive was called foul at Milwaukee and he eventually struck out.

LaRoche's shot in the first inning struck either a railing or small screen above the 21-foot wall in right field. Both objects are in play, but first-base umpire Lance Barksdale signaled a two-run homer.

Thank goodness for the replay. I knew I couldn't trust a Barksdale. If baseball were ruled by the Iron Fist of Rob Iracane both ding dongs would have stood and the rest of the season would have been a sham. I am Clooney.

You Have Questions, Roger Clemens Has Answers

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How much does it cost for a man to get highlights? Where is the best place to park a Hummer in Houston? What's it like being as popular as the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid?

If these are questions that have been gnawing at you, and let's face it they have, fret not. Your answers are coming. Roger Clemens reached out to The Houstonist, a blog about um... Houston, and offered to take questions from their readers and provide candid answers as part of his Truth Tour '09. He's so gonna be on Oprah soon.

"The fans and the folks in Houston have always been great to Deb, the kids and me and we're grateful for the support.

I know a lot of baseball fans read the Houstonist and that they have asked questions about the false allegations against me. I welcome the chance to answer the questions of your readers."

A call to The Roger Clemens Foundation confirmed that the email is from the man himself. So, what do you want to know, Houston?

What are the chances that The Rocket takes on the tough questions? Actually, what are the tough questions at this point? He's already been found guilty in the court of public opinion, and frankly I think most people have already forgotten all the details of the allegations. I remember some needles and a beer can. I guess most of my questions would just be about hygiene.

The bottom line here is that Clemens still doesn't know the first damned thing about PR. He's under the impression that trying to "clear the air" this long after the initial steroid charges were lobbed at him will actually convince anyone that he's clean. Shoulda done it then Rog, instead of taking a year to come up with your strategy. It's easier to be found innocent than it is to break out of jail.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, what you don't tell people can say a lot.

  • HOW well will Dontrelle Willis fare in his first start of 2009 against the Twins. It must have been driving him nuts... er, really bothering him, not being able to hurl the old pill... er, ball around. Anyway, good luck Dontrelle.

  • IS some sort of plucky momentum being passed in the Marlins/Brewers series? The once hot Marlins are ice cold, while the Crew are just starting to hita stride.

  • DID you stream the new Wilco record yet? I just finished my first spin. I'm reserving judgement until I get a bunch more listens under my belt, but I really like the first track.

  • CAN Johnny Cueto continue his torrid start against the Diamondbacks and keep the Reds nipping at the heels of the Cards?

  • CAN groundball wonderdude Brian Bannister help the Royals end their 4 game losing streak? They're looking for the split in their two gamer against the A's.

  • WHERE would Walkoff Walk be without our talented friends? It's just Rob and me on the marquee up there, but that's a real farce. DMac has been doing yeoman's work all week and Sooze's liveblog was as incredible as always. They're just furthering the already stellar list of things that other people have contributed to this site. WoW is a family.

You've been Wednesday'd! DMac and I will be back tomorrow to Thursday the hell out of you. Same WoW channel.

(Awesome picture of the home run lights in the Astrodome circa 1986 from the Flickr page of Dana Graves.)

zim.jpgHello again Walkoff Walkers! I've missed you tons. For those of you who are like me, you are tuning into this Washington Nationals game just to see if Ryan Zimmerman will extend his hitting streak to 31 games. Or maybe, you're a Giants fan ...are you a Nats fan? Maybe you like making fun of Barry Zito every chance you get. MAYBE! You are just bored out of your mind.

Whatever the case may be, welcome! This is going to be interesting to say the very least.

T-Minus 4 minutes til the first pitch!

2:45: Oh my good lord, it's Barry Zito's 31st birthday.

2:46: and Cristian Guzman gives him a lead-off single to left for a present.

2:47: Wow! Two gifts in a row, as Nick Johnson singles sharply to right field. Let's see if Zimmerman, who I've dubbed Senator Crushingham (still working out the kink on the whole nickname thing) can knock another one out.

2:50: Not exactly what I was looking for. Zimmerman grounds into a double play. Booo.

wow.051309.ryandimaggio.jpg For unknown reasons, 30 games seems to be the cutoff when people start to get really excited about a hitting streak. And after going last year without one of those oh-so-fun 30 gamers, Ryan Zimmerman singled in the first inning last night to reach said mystery magical number. I don't know about you, but I'm pumped.

Reuters has done us all a favor by asking a statistician how great of a chance Zimmerman has to match or beat Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak. The answer: Not much.

San Diego State University professor and statistician Jim Lackritz estimated Zimmerman's chances from this point of tying the Yankee Clipper at 1 in 414, or .0024 for you math geeks. To break DiMaggio's record, the odds are 1 in 517, or .0019. [...] Zimmerman has already improved his chances vastly as the odds before this streak began stood at 1 in almost 10 million, Lackritz said. "Basically, this is the toughest record in sports to break," the professor said.

Wow, so Juan Pierre must have like a 1 in 10 billion chance of starting a 56-game hitting streak every game.

If he can get a hit today (join Walkoff Walk for your official liveblog of Ryan Zimmerman's possible 31st consecutive game with a hit) against the Giants, Zimmerman is virtually a lock to get to number 35, as the Nats play the Phillies for 4 over the weekend. With the way Phillies pitching has been giving up taters this year, he might be a lock for the all-time homer mark, too.

Incidentally, the Nationals have scored 22 runs in their last three games. They've lost all three.

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Ah, the halcyon days of April 26. It was good times for Pittsburgh's baseball squadron. They were a mere game and a half behind the St. Louis Cardinals and were third in all of baseball with a +33 run differential. I got busy for a couple weeks right around then and wasn't able to blog, or even really follow sports, as much as I like. One thing that hasn't surprised me upon my return? The Buccos regressed. Despite winning last night against, the Pirates are now 6.5 games out. Losers of 12 of 14, they're now rocking a -3 overall run differential.

Injuries to catcher Ryan Doumit, SS Jack Wilson and Matt Capps didn't help, but either has the fact that the team is composed almost entirely of singles hitters. They've tallied an anemic 22 HRs and .389 SLG. While the entire pitching staff is improved over 2008, it isn't the kind of lights out staff that can keep a team with that sort of run production above water for too long.

Sorry, guys. That was pretty much it for the decade. April. Memories are good to have, though. They sustain you through the hard times. Like baseball season. Maybe someday one of the heroes of April 2009 will grace the Altoona Curve with their presence like John Candelaria and Steve Blass! Scintillating.

Pirates fans, HOW HAVE YOU LIVED LIKE THIS for 15 years? Oh, that's right you only care about the Steelers or the Penguins when they're winning. Carry on.

Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Update

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Our good friend Sooze of the estimable Babes Love Baseball will once again regale us knuckle draggers with her awesome glogocity for today's 3:45 Nats/Giants tilt. It wasn't too hard to convince her. She's pretty much in love with Zimmerman, but we'll all get to reap the fruit of her obsession. Win win! Do join us.

wow.051309.leyland.jpg The hilarious steroid column party today continues with Rick Morrisey of the Chicago Tribune, who writes about how Jim Leyland doesn't hate steroids enough to please him.

I think the fans come to the game, whatever sport it is, and they want their team to win," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't think they're thinking about those things.... I think they're interested in their team winning. In any sport, not just baseball. So quote me on that. It's not just baseball."

Allow me to interpret: If fans are willing to look the other way in their pursuit of a winning team, what's the big deal if players are using? And, why is everyone picking on baseball?

It's apparent a lot of work needs to be done in the area of steroids education. If Leyland would look outside his bubble for just a second, he would notice there are millions of impressionable kids out there who might hear a manager slough off the suspension of one of the premier players in the sport. Could any of those kids then be blamed for thinking steroids aren't evil?

He has a point here. Millions of children come home from school every day, turn on their local UHF station to watch Jim Leyland's Fireside Chats, a daytime Emmy-award winning show where Leyland talks about the latest drug suspensions and introduces old Chip 'n' Dale cartoons. How dare he. How dare he.

It's really amazing that paragraph begins with the sentence, "It's apparent a lot of work needs to be done in the area of steroids education."

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  • 12:05, White Sox at Indians: Today at noon you can travel to Cleveland, buy a house for the price of a VCR, then check out Mark Buehrle take on Cliff Lee for a lunch time showdown. Buehrle is the one pitching more like a defending Cy Young Winner. His WHIP is a chin hair above 1 and Lee's is a chin hair under 1 and a half. With the Indians at 10 games under .500 they need to start winning before my next gypsy prediction comes true and Eric Wedge is in the breadline.

  • 1:10 Braves at Mets: Last night's shirmp filled, disputed call havin' battle royale spills over into an afternoon battle for rubber. Everyone in the NL East hates each other don't they? Let's hope Jo-Jo Reyes and Jon Niese keep it clean and come out boxing. And that Chipper doesn't see any ghosts.

  • 3:45, Ryan Zimmerman at Giants: While Zim tries to extend his hitting streak to 31 games, Barry Zito tries to extend his quality start streak to 5, which is actually far more interesting to me. To recap, BZ has now given up just 4 ER in his last 26.1 IP. Could he be... back?

wow.051309.mrpeanut.jpg Last year, a couple major league teams had designated peanut-free zones on certain nights, pandering to some punk kids who can't eat peanuts (and their parents, presumably). The independent minor league franchise in Camden1 has taken this a step farther, with a new peanut-free section at all home games.

The Riversharks' created the peanut-free Suite 319 after an increasing number of customers said they were allergic to peanuts. (Um, obviously.) The team also takes care of its fans who keep kosher or have gluten allergies. Everybody's welcome in Camden!

The highlight of this Philadelphia Inquirer story, though, is the penultimate paragraph.

[Riversharks spokesman Poorya] Nayerahmadi said that he was not sure whether the fans will stand up for the seventh-inning stretch to sing "God Bless America" or "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Both songs are favorites.

Apparently some peanut allergies are so bad you can't even hear a song lyric where one person orders another to purchase him peanuts. But not standing for "God Bless America"? Are we sure this isn't a section for terrorists? Or Carlos Delgado?

Rinku And Dinesh Are Doing Just Fine, Thank You

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Received an email from concerned reader David last night.

"There has been no post on (Rinku and Dinesh's blog) since April 30th. In that post it said they were sick. What has happened to them? Do they have the swine flu?

Admittedly, we haven't been doing the wall to wall coverage of these two ever since they went national. This shouldn't surprise anyone since you all think I'm a hipster. But yeah, David was right. This was the longest dead zone I could remember on their blog and last we had heard they were sick during the height of a pandemic.

Well I was going to email JB Sir this morning to get the scoop when I saw they had indeed updated their blog overnight. They love The Hulk and The Love Guru, they think it's too hot in Florida. AND OH YEAH THEY'RE RIDING IN STRETCH WHIPS NOW. GETCHA SOME.

Sickness pulverized. Advantage, those guys.

Rangers rookie reliever Derek Holland picked up his first career win last night in a 7-1 win over the Mariners. The rook's having a decent start to his career, with a 1.74 ERA and a WHIP just over 1.

To commemorate his first big league win, he had starter Scott Feldman and reliever Eddie Guardado sign the ball. He's going to give it to his parents. (Aww.) Guardado, who pitched the ninth, made the gift extra special, as he signed it like it were a high school yearbook.

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Stay strong and KIT, man.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Four Strong Winds

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Here's what happened last night in baseball while I went out to Alberta.

Mets 4, Braves 3: See below. There was skrimp. But according to Chipper Jones, it never shoulda happened. Here's Ol' Chips take on the umpire calling Carlos Beltran safe on a ninth inning steal: "Let's just say the baseball gods owe us one," Jones said. "The game came down to one play, and the umpire got it wrong. Why he got it wrong, I don't know. I never had a guy slide into my glove and be safe." UMPIRE KILLED BY CROSSBOW.

Phillies 5, Dodgers 3: Jayson Werth gots ants in his pants. Homeboy completed the ultra-rare steal cycle in last night's 7th inning, including a steal of home that gave the Phillies the lead. Boy's got some jumbo eggs on him.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 1: Yesterday's Halladay/Burnett match up was treated as some sort of Mr. Miyagi vs. Daniel San thing that I thought was a little overblown, but then again I never followed their relationship too closely. In any case, Doc was dominant, as usual, going 9 full, as usual, scattering 5 hits. Scott Rolen had 3 RBI.

Let's get this day started. I'M BACK BABY.

Just like Trent said to Mikey in the immortal Swingers: "you act like you don't need the shit; they give you the shit for free." Write a complimentary post about Carlos Beltran - HE REPAYS YOU WITH A BASES LOADED, GAME WINNING WALK!!!!! Mets win!


Tough loss for the Braves, full win for everyone else.

Tonight's Questions

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We interrupt Tonight's Questions to bring you a breaking news bulletin: American Gladiators: The Movie is under development. Further news on this incredible moment in the history of cinema after the movie. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Tonight's Questions.

  • WHEN will Jimmy Rollins (and his OPS+ of 28!) be dropped in the Phillies lineup? Hey, how about tonight!
  • WILL anyone notice that Roy Halladay is once again having a nice season? They might. They might notice every year, I don't really follow fan reactions to performance of pitchers for Canadian-based baseball teams that closely. Halladay and the Jays take on A.J. Burnett and the Yankees tonight.
  • CAN you find a funnier column this week (non-Jeff Passan division) than this one by Stephen Baldwin on CBSNews.com? I'd like to know, because I bet it'd be hilarious.
  • WILL Ryan Zimmerman extend his hitting streak to 30 games? I probably won't be staying up late to find out.

Kris is back tomorrow and we'll be taking Walkoff Walk through the rest of the week. Look forward to more coherent posts and fewer references to straight edge. (Also, tomorrow, my review of Major League.) In another exciting development for baseball, there are more than four games tonight. Sweet!

wow.051209.jeffpassan.jpg Hey, kids, remember yesterday, when I was a cub fill-in blogger for Walkoff Walk? Ahh, those were simpler times, when I was content to make fun of Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan for suggesting lifetime bans for first-time drug test failures.

Little did I know that Passan would come out with a mailbag piece today that tops calling for a lifetime ban.

Agreed. Also, if we establish capital punishment, we can keep people from murdering each other. Oh, wait...

Steve Haynes
West Lafayette, Ind.

Before I respond ... that was good.

You know, the point is well taken. I'd like to believe that baseball players don't share the same characteristics as cold-blooded killers, but the narcissism I so often talk about in steroid users is the same sort of thing pervasive among murderers.

In no way am I conflating steroid use and murder. Banishment in baseball, though, is the sport's equivalent to the death penalty. I guess the point was: extreme times call for extreme measures, and baseball has gotten to the point where it has tried almost every reasonable avenue to abolish steroid use, only to watch its biggest names continue to tumble. Ultimately, this will keep happening, and baseball will rue not doing everything in its power earlier

Passan is right: A lot of steroid users are narcissistic. That's because most steroid use is done to improve one's looks. People who take steroids to improve athletic performance are outliers. I wonder how often he talks about this, though; I'm thinking of inviting him to my next party to find out. (Just kidding, folks. I don't throw any parties.)

But back to the point: On one hand, taking steroids to improve one's performance and therefore the performance of the team. One the other, taking the life of another human being. The narcissism similarity is pretty obvious here I don't even need to point it out. Baseball will rue the day!

I do think my favorite part of the mailbag is when he calls that email "good."

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I know we're only about a fifth of a way into the season, but check it out, people: Albert Pujols is leading two triple crown categories. Yes, he's 10th in average, and Adam Dunn (11 homers to Pujols' 12) and Jay Bruce (him and three other guys have 10) are right behind him in homers.

Yeah, the chances of him actually winning the triple crown are pretty low, but he's already a lock for the "decade" triple crown (whatever that is), and we really don't have anybody else with a shot of triple crowning it anytime soon. It's fun to speculate.

It's even more fun to read John Kruk's piece on Albert Pujols on ESPN.com and speculate what kind of daze -- probably not drugs, I'm speculating hunger -- Kruk was in while writing it.

What, then, is stopping him from winning the Triple Crown this season? Home runs. He is a great hitter, but he's also one who believes in getting the win. He could easily lead the league in home runs every season, but that would probably mean that his strikeout numbers would increase and his value to his club would decrease. This is a Cardinals team that relies on moving runners over to score runs, and Pujols is a big part of that. His selflessness puts this team in the hunt for the playoffs every season, but also takes him out of the running for the Triple Crown.

Really? Albert Pujols could easily lead the league in homers every season? Wouldn't that help his team more than, say, hitting a few points higher in average, grounding out instead of striking out with nobody on and moving over Skip Schumaker once in a while. Hell, by "easily" leading the league in homers every season, he'd be hitting in the 60s every year. That would revitalize baseball (until he's caught taking sheep growth hormone or whatever). Why is Albert Pujols so selfish, caring about his team over the game of baseball as a whole?!

I'll admit I really don't know how this works; I've never played anything above "stickball in the street"-level ball. I've read that, say, Ichiro sacrifices power for average since he's the leadoff man. I've also read, though, that Pujols doesn't sacrifice power for average.

I don't really know how to say this, guys, but I think John Kruk might not be right. I don't know if this has ever happened before.

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Above is a series of screenshots from this video of Pat Burrell scared out of his mind when the Red Sox crowd cheered Glen Davis' buzzer-beater for the Celtics on Sunday night. Don't like loud noises? You and me both, buddy.

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A common argument against vilification of baseball's steroid users is that, well, baseball is a sport that idolizes cheating. I mean, you probably won't see it in a newspaper, but it's out there. A-Rod and Manny Ramirez are just following in the footsteps of players who corked bats (stupidly), scuffed the ball, threw spitballs, stole signs, threw at players, used amphetamines, drank during Prohibition, et cetera. Right?

Pfft, says Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa. In his day, ballplayers knew how to cheat, and kids nowadays just aren't cheating in the time-honored traditions of baseball.

I think when you play a sport at this level and you can get an edge, you take advantage of it," the Los Angeles Dodgers' third base coach said just days after Manny Ramirez became the latest superstar implicated in drug use. "I don't think steroids is what we're talking about to get the edge. People might say that's hypocritical, but those things that we did - whether it was using an emery board or corking a bat, it can't kill you. But this stuff can kill you."

So remember, kids: Before you cheat in a game, make sure to ask steroids expert Dr. Larry Bowa if it's one of the acceptable forms. (And ask him where sucker punching a reporter fits while you're at it.) But please don't listen to Bowa in this regard: Baseball bats are dangerous.

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Larry Siddons of Bloomberg News owes me a Pepsi Throwback, because I just spit mine out all over my monitor after reading his lead.

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- The suspension of All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez for violating Major League Baseball's drug rules shows the sport's anti-doping program is working, according to Roger Clemens[.]

Sammy Sosa was also recently heard praising the changes to MLB's corked bat policy.

Hey, the World Anti-Doping Agency has weighed in on MLB's suspension of Manny Ramirez. Let's see if Google News can fill us in. Does WADA brass think Manny's suspension is enough?

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Oh, man, what has Blatter done this time?!

wow.051209.freakydelts.jpg Roger Clemens appeared on Mike and Mike in the Morning this, uh, morning to let everyone know he never took steroids, no way, no sir, no how, and that's his story and he's sticking to it. Still!

Clemens' radio appearance comes on the same day the four New York Daily News reporters release their new book, American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime. You know what also had four writers and a colon in the title? That's right: Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Point for Clemens!

Of course, this book is by the Daily News, not the New York Post. Point for American Icon.

Clemens told the Mikes he's keeping his head up in these tough times; he didn't mention the millions of dollars in salary over the years, but I assume that's helping him quite a bit in these, erhm, troubled times.

Asked about "American Icon," by Daily News reporters Teri Thompson, Nathaniel Vinton, Michael O'Keeffe and Christian Red, Clemens said "I've seen excerpts of the book, they're completely false." He did not specify which part of the book he had seen.

Vinton, also appearing on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," responded to Clemens' criticism.

"Our book is really backed up by a lot of documentation and interviews with key players," Vinton said, "It's not false, we really researched this carefully ... and take it very seriously."

When asked about the physical evidence reportedly handed over by [ex-Clemens personal trainer Brian] McNamee to federal investigators and whether it had his DNA on it, Clemens said "Impossible, because he's never given me any [performance-enhancing drugs], it's as simple as that. He's never given me HGH or any kind of performance-enhancing drug, so it's impossible."

Later in the interview, he said McNamee "... never injected me with HGH or steroids." Pointing out that his family has a history of heart conditions, Clemens said "It would be suicidal for me to even think about taking any of these dangerous drugs."

Hey, look, Roger Clemens knows just as little about steroids as professional sportswriters do.

Brian McNamee's lawyer also appeared on Mike and Mike and said he's totally certain that by speaking out, it means Roger Clemens will be indicted for perjury for speaking at that Congressional hearing on perjury traps. Oh, goodie.

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Oh, to be a minor leaguer. Every once in a while one of the big league stars gets hurt, and then he comes down for rehab and OMG you get to meet him!

A recent example comes from the Oklahoma RedHawks, where Josh Hamilton is on a rehab assignment with a strained muscle. And it's better than even just meeting him. OMG guys look what happened!

The Oklahoma RedHawks were certainly pleased with him on Sunday after their victory over the Round Rock Express at Dell Diamond. Baseball tradition holds that a Major League player assigned to a Minor League team on medical rehabilitation assignment must fund the postgame food spread.

The RedHawks ate Outback on Sunday night.

"It was good," pitcher John Bannister said. "Real good."

Is there a more classic baseball rivalry than Oklahoma City RedHawks-Round Rock Express? Yankees-Red Sox pales in comparison.

Unfortunately for the Rangers' AAA affiliate, Hamilton is slated to be back in action today, and they'll be stuck eating at Applebee's or wherever. Don't worry, RedHawks! One day you'll learn what Olive Garden tastes like. One day.

Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were wondering who was watching you -- the IRS?

Braves 6, Mets 2. Johan Santana went 6 1/3 innings, surrendering only two unearned runs, but a Jose Reyes error in the 7th led to four runs and the man with the 0.78 ERA got tagged with his second loss of the year.

Indians 9, White Sox 4. The Indians scored in the first inning for the first time this month to help Carl Pavano easily win his third straight start. Send a card to Gavin Floyd, will ya? The ex-Phillies prospect gave up 8 runs in five innings and raised his era to 7.32

Reds 13, Diamondbacks 5. The Reds pounded out a season high in hits (18) to open up a West Coast trip with a win. The D-Backs hit three homers in the loss, which is always nice for the fans at least. At least they saw some dingers!

Giants 11, Nationals 7. Ryan Zimmerman singled in his first at bat, extending his hitting streak to 29. One more and we've got an official break-into-SportsCenter for live updates hitting streak! He followed up his single with a pair of homers to boot; the Nats lost while hitting four homers for the second straight day. Speaking of milestones, Randy Johnson notched his 298th win.

Tonight's Questions

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wow.051109.santana.jpg Hey, I'm done for the day.

  • CAN Ryan Zimmerman extend his hitting streak to 29 games? The Nationals, fresh off a loss when they hit four homers, are at San Francisco tonight.
  • WILL the British ever get over the suspension of Manny Ramirez, "a dreadlocked free spirit"?
  • WHAT question was MLB.com's Todd Zolecki asking Shane Victorino that caused him to respond, "It's a deadly disease"?
  • WHO is a better pitcher than Johan Santana (4-1, 0.91 ERA)? Certainly not Derek Lowe (4-1, 3.98), who goes up against the lefty tonight.
  • WILL I find a way to work in the only other games tonight (Cincy at Arizona, Chisox at Cleveland) into this post?

Hey, this wasn't bad. Thanks to Kris for contributing a pair of posts today; I will be back tomorrow with more exclamation points than you ever thought possible. I promise!

wow.051109.hitwithbaseball.jpg Over the weekend, White Sox closer Bobby Jenks threw a pitch behind Ian Kinsler, then made the mistake of admitting it after the game. "Basically I was saying," Jenks was saying, "'I'm sick of seeing our guys get hit and hurt and almost get taken out of the game.' I threw it with intention."

Whoops! ESPN reports MLB is now investigating Jenks. Okay, that's not really surprising at all, but "sources" told "ESPNChicago.com" this and ESPN wanted to advertise its new website. Just like I thought I should do one news-related post today!

Clearly, Bobby Jenks doesn't get it. Although everyone knows pitchers throw at batters, you never admit it. Kind of like how everyone knows performance-enhancing drugs are prevalent in baseball (and all sports, and life) and drug tests are incredibly easy to fool yet Tim Salmon remains baffled how Manny Ramirez tested negative 15 times. Oh, and there was that unwritten rule that lasted most of the 20th century.

All of this, of course, is what makes baseball America's national pastime.

wow.051109.baseballeurope.jpg Get this: It's not just dogs and girls who play baseball. Europeans play it, too! I know, I know.

But the International Baseball Federation (the IBAF, for some reason) sent out a press release today telling people how hot baseball is in Europe right now. It was so hot MLB.com just re-wrote it, which is so silly. Everyone knows you're supposed to re-write it and add pithy comments.

"The efforts that our federations are making to grow the sport at the grassroots level, as well as all the time our partners are putting in to help us tell our story, are being positively reflected in our growth globally," said IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller.

Yes! Partners telling stories! Federations growing out of the grass! Global growth! (See? You can just re-write quotes, add exclamation points, and blammo! Instant blog comedy gold.)

There are actually 40 players from "no less than nine European countries" playing in the majors and minors this year, which is the most ever. It might be a ways off before they're playing the World Series in London, but this much is for sure: Baseball sure is played by Europeans.

On a side note, the Baseball World Cup is in September. It is sure to be one of the top two baseball-related competitions among different countries this year.

Rob may be over in Spain, but with Drew in the house the Furious Five always has an international feel. And this week we're doubling it. Filling in for Iracane is old friend and Canadian, Jonah Keri. Yup. I'm outnumbered. Jonah is witty, accomplished and a bunch of other things I'm not. So tune in, will you? It should be a maple leafin' good time.

As always, you can listen live or subscribe to us on iTunes and hear us piped through your headphones. Like we're standing right behind you on the city bus. Creepy.

cinema.league.poster.jpg Each week (or so), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: the 1992 comedy hit A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and Lori Petty, directed by Penny Marshall, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel.

The first installment of Cinema Varitek tackled Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, a movie that ends with a dog winning World Series MVP (for the Angels, no less). This week, Cinema Varitek looks at an even more preposterous baseball movie, one where girls play baseball. Hey-o!

(I kid, of course. Everyone knows girls don't play baseball because A.G. Spalding wasn't loved enough by his mother. Or something like that.)

If the makers of the Air Bud straight-to-DVD franchise had made a movie about girls playing baseball, of course, it would be less believable than The Sixth Man. If Seventh Inning Fetch is sports movie cliche done horribly wrong, A League of Their Own is movie cliche done impressively right. Yeah, the movie's full of holes, spends a lot of time developing several characters who disappear halfway through the movie and has one of those too-perfect-to-happen sports movie moments at the end. But it's enjoyable.

What's actually most enjoyable, though, is the first game of the season, when Rosie O'Donnell's character trips over the third base line when she runs onto the field.

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Even if you hate baseball, the movie is worth watching just to see Rosie falling on the field over and over (if you choose to watch this scene over and over, as I did).

A quick primer on the movie's plot: Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is always better than her kid sister, Kit (Lori "Tank Girl" Petty) at everything, including softball. But when a scout (Jon Lovitz) wants to find players, he takes Kit! And Dottie! Hmm, I guess that isn't much of a twist. He also finds an ugly girl who can hit the ball a mile (Megan Cavanagh), takes them to the tryouts at Wrigley Field and then disappears for the rest of the movie. (He'd return for the very short-lived TV series based on the movie the following year.)

The movie is about the (real) All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, an actual women's baseball league founded during World War II. (The league wasn't originally called that, and the women played a baseball/softball hybrid when it started out, but close enough.) A bunch of people try out, including Mae (Madonna) and Doris (O'Donnell) and a girl who can't read. In a shocking twist of fate, all the main characters make the Rockford Peaches.

At their first game, all the fans actually heckle the players as they take the field (even before Rosie O'Donnell falls). Why would they attend the game just to heckle the players? Actually, wait, I was a Phillies fan in the 1990s, I've done that with regular baseball before. Anyway: With the league in trouble, Dottie Hinson makes the cover of Life with perhaps the hottest scene in baseball movie history.

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Thanks to Matt for sending in this video of a 1980s Budweiser commercial, ostensibly filmed at old Busch Stadium. No one deserves a cold beer more than an umpire who made a correct call in his first big league game. I love how he wins over the manager of the NotRoyals who doubted him at first. And he's wearing No. 42! Sly. Nowadays, the commercial would point out how much Budweiser honored Jackie Robinson.

This comment on YouTube really sums it up nicely: "Good commercial. You can see the mutual respect the manager and the umpire have for each other." Nowadays, the commercial would end with the ump bashing a beer bottle over the head of the manager.

And twins!

wow.051109.manny.fertility.jpg When news broke that Manny Ramirez failed a drug test last week, I immediately turned on ESPN for some hilarious, breathless commentary that a baseball player would have the audacity to take a drug that would make them better at baseball. Sometime around 7 pm, Buster Olney nailed the best line of the day, saying that if players felt bad about being suspected of steroids, they should blame A-Rod, "who looked Katie Couric right in the eyes and said he didn't do steroids." How dare a player lie to our most respected journalist who has had her colon inspected on live television!

Since then, a lot of people have written some pretty amazing, unintentionally hilarious things about Man-Ram taking steroids. As usual, Bill Simmons leads the way with this column set in the dark, post-apocalyptic future of 2014. In this dark time, each section of Fenway Park has a sponsor (gasp!) and the Green Monster is called "The Pepsi Green Monster." What horrors we will witness in five years! Anyway, Simmons takes his son to the game and recalls October 2004:

Ever since Boston won the World Series 10 years ago, I always imagined pointing to that 2004 banner and telling my little boy, "That's the team that changed everything." So that's what I do. I point at the banner and tell him, "That's the team that changed everything."

"Isn't that the team that cheated?" he asks. My father and I glance at each other. A few beats pass. "Well, technically, no," I stammer. "I mean ..."

"I thought they had a whole bunch of steroids guys on that team," he says.

"Well, yes, but baseball only did a test run of steroid testing that year, with no punishment," I said, and my son shot me a quizzical look. "Okay, yes, steroids were illegal, but they were only made illegal in the late 1980s as the War on Drugs intensified."

My son looked confused.

"In the late 1960s, Richard Nixon needed to demonize 'the young, the black and the poor,' without actually coming out and saying it, so he started War on Drugs. After a brief lull -- during which Jimmy Carter supported marijuana legalization! -- the plummeting price of cocaine helped popularize crack in Los Angeles and New York led Ronald Reagan to, one, sell cocaine and, two, intensify the War on Drugs with the help of the Democratic Congress and the media (especially the New York Times). Congress outlawed steroids in this climate after drug scandals in Olympic sports and professional wrestling."

My son was now asleep.

"That's right," I said. "I'll never accept Hulk Hogan's first World Heavyweight Championship as legitimate."

Hm, I'm sorry, I lapsed into a bit of a tangent there. I think that's what I will tell my son one day, when I'm trying to explain J.C. Romero's positive drug test last season. Let me tell you, though, that my little tangent was way more interesting than Simmons' column. And about 15,000 words shorter, too.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports continues the parade with a column calling for lifetime bans of anyone who tests positive. Jeff Passan is so anti-performance enhancing drug he doesn't drink coffee before writing his columns. He draws "sXe" on his wrists. When he won the award for Best Clean Sportswriter of the Year in 2006, he gave a speech that ended with him pleading, "Let's see what Rick Reilly could do without Red Bull. Let's just see."

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As a member of the Red Sox, Troy O'Leary put together a handful of decent years but is perhaps best known in perpetuity for Bill Simmons always talking about how white his name sounds. Probably not a legacy any ballplayer really dreams about having. At least his clubhouse nickname, "Yummy was less well known.

In any case O'Leary, who seems to be the rare athlete living comfortably retired on his mid-tier career earnings, is looking to build a new legacy as the creator of a a new reality show. And he's bringing some old friends along, Sox fans.

About two years ago, however, he had a thought, born mostly out of frustration from not being able to land a friend a job in baseball and all of the negativity surrounding baseball's steroid scandal. He realized that baseball, even with all of its extensive scouting, might be missing the occasional diamond in the rough.

So he began thinking about a concept for a baseball TV reality series. Month by month, it started to get more creative and involved. He added associates in Alexandra Athanasopoulos and Mike Pearson. He got ex-players and friends like Reggie Jefferson, Mike Stanley, Darren Lewis, John Valentin, Jeff Cirillo, and Rafael Naboa to commit to roles. He received guidance from Reds manager Dusty Baker and from former agent and current special adviser to the White Sox Dennis Gilbert.

Now O'Leary, 39, is ready to become the Simon Cowell of baseball on a show called "Play Big or Go Home."

During the last few war torn and downtrodden years here in the US I said over and over, that what the country really needed was a triumphant return to the spotlight by Reggie Jefferson. As you'll see once Play Big Or Go Home premiers, I am not wrong.

The format sounds a little confusing, as players will send tapes of themselves playing to O'Leary, who will whittle that pack down to 15 finalists who will be judged in person. Criteria is still a bit hazy, but perhaps having a definite benchmark like our friends over at the Million Dollar Arm might be a good idea. Otherwise I just imagine some poor kid standing on a stage and getting 10 fungos hammered at him then barked offstage by an angry Jeff Cirillo after bobbling one. They can change the name to Small Sample Size Theatre.

The Phillies played at Citi Field for the first time last week, which gave me the chance to marvel at the Mets' giant Inaugural Season patch in full 1080i HD glory. Let's take a look at a screenshot now, as this will never get old.

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I know people have been making fun of this patch on the Internet since it was invented (the Internet, not the patch), but, really: Wow.

Citi Field also has quite a few interesting ads adorning its outfield walls, too; instead of baseball standards like Budweiser, Coors, Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, the Mets have decided to class the place up a bit.

wow.051109.catstairs.sleepy.jpg Here's what happened in baseball yesterday while you were wielding your pink bat with pride.

Cardinals 8, Reds 7. How do you give up five homers and still win? You play the Reds! Jerry Hairston Jr. and Micah Owings homered off closer Ryan Franklin in the ninth, but Colby Rasmus' RBI double in the top of the 10th won it for the Cards. "That was a blast!" Jay Bruce said after the loss. Aw, those young players. They learn to speak in cliches so quickly.

Braves 4, Phillies 2. How do you lose a game when Matt Stairs (pictured: Cat Stairs) goes 2-for-2 with a pair of walks? You let Casey Kotchman rally against your bullpen. Kotchman hit a 2-RBI single in the seventh to put the Braves ahead. Kotch is your NL doubles leader with 13. Do they call him Kotch? They do now.

Yankees 5, Orioles 3. A three-run blast by Johnny Damon in the seventh inning pushed the Yanks past the Orioles. The Baltimore nine has been outscored 57-35 after the sixth inning this season. It's getting desperate. There are fans out in the street calling for the glory days of Jorge Julio.

Mets 8, Pirates 4. Despite a preponderance of statistical numbers, the Mets are hitting baseballs like they are Donald Duck and Citi Field is Mathmagic Land. Or something. They've won seven in a row, are in first in the NL East and all the Mets fans are becoming insufferable. The less said about this, the better.

Red Sox 4, Rays 3. Jason Bay doubled in David Ortiz in the bottom of the seventh last night for the winning run. Joe Morgan spent most of the telecast yammering about something. My remote spent all of the telecast on mute.

Dan McQuade here. I'll be piloting this ship through major league baseball's chorionic gonadotropin-infested waters for at least some of this week here on Walkoff Walk. As an added bonus, this week you will get at least three (3) baseball movie reviews! Later today, A League of Their Own, and tomorrow, Major League! In honor of my mother, I'll be typing with a pink keyboard today. Hi mom!


We don't have much time today; I'm sure there are long distance phone calls to make, fritatas to nom, war profiteers to haphazardly purchase flowers from, and mothers to acknowledge. We should rush straight into last night's great stuff before we realize we're old as dirt with hair on our tongues.

Angels 1, Royals 0: Zack Grienke lost! He lost a game! He's over, he's been exposed. The complete game four hitter he threw together wasn't good enough for the W; meaning it had no intrinsic value. What a failure. The Angels won their third in a row as the reinforcements continue to stream in. The Texas Rangers, who yesterday claimed victory by holding the White Sox totless, turned the trick again today. The tables were turned however, as the Sox themselves held the only team more dependent on the home run inside the park to claim the victory. Young stud and overlooked lithe lefty Derek Holland pitching 0.1 of an inning. No joke Rangers, he's good. Why don't you go ahead and shoot him some more innings.

Mets 10, Pirates 1: Carlos Beltran responds well to flattery.

Tigers 4, Indians 0: The Tribe's bullpen doesn't respond well to being pressed into action. Fausto Carmona learned walking 6 men in 6.2 innings isn't good for business, it really isn't good for anybody. Back to back home runs and more walks than Ks wasn't good for my Duel of the Day prediction Felix/Franky matchup.

Reds 8, Cardinals 3: The Cards have dropped two in a row, Albert Pujols is 0 for his last 10, and Rick Ankiel is still experiencing general body soreness. Were I a Redbirds fan, I'd be afraid. The Brewers have nothing to fear when Yovani Gallardo's around. 100 pitches in 5 innings isn't making the best use of your time, but limiting the Cubs to 2 runs over that span will keep you in cheese for weeks.

Elsewhere: The Toronto Blue Jays, conscientious objectors in the AL East wars, stopped their two game mini skid against the slightly crappy A's. Evan Longroia continued to demolish the ball in frightening new ways. The Internet's Boyfriend hit a home run to dead centerfield as well as a double off the very top of the Green Monster in helping his Rays run roughshod over the Boston Red Sox. My singing heart informs me Rocco Baldelli homered against his former club. The Dodgers won a game on the same day every other team in their division lost. Their magic number is down to 18.

Hey Goat, I Like Your Beard: Kiss your mother, eat some brunch, watch some excellent afternoon baseball like young southpaws Brett Cecil & Dallas Braden going head to head. Not a brunchman? Wake and bake with Timmy Lincecum against Jeff Weaver; loser must surrender his favorite Kyuss record. Rick Porcello can only pitch 5 innings tomorrow, his mom won't approve if he misses dinner (THEY LIVE TOGETHER CUZ HE'S SO YOUNG!) Adam Wainwright and Edinson Volquez going head to head is good any day of the week.

Enjoy your Sunday, we'll be back tomorrow with wacky videos of mice playing, preferably on treadmills with Yackity Sax underneath.

invisibleman.jpgWith only one game currently underway (the aforementioned Carlos Beltran with a home run) there is still time to look forward to a full slate of afternoon and evening games.

The Yellow Sun's Glare: The Rays and Red Sox renew acquaintances in Boston on the FOX dial. Litheish lefites Kazmir and Lester hook up for what looks like a pitching duel if not for Kazmir's precipitous fall from grace. I predict many number-inflating balls bounding off the large green wall. The Dodgers and Giants also do battle on America's 7th highest rated network; I WONDER WHAT THEY'LL TALK ABOUT. Joe Buck is locked and loaded with a sanctimonious speech that ends but the games go on! The Phillies and Braves will hook up on some Fox affiliates also; the Braves sending the befuddling Javy Vasquez to the mound. The Phillies counter with the befudged Joe Blanton. As wise commenter Honeynut Ichiros said recently: Phillie Phans are waiting for a reason to hate Blanton for a while now, the free-swinging Braves should buy him some time. The mighty Jays take on the slowly growing in strength A's in Oakland. The pitching match up is so inconsequential that we'll just move on.

Nighttime Fun: Some nice pitchers will mix metaphors tonight, we're in luck! Wunderkind Zack Grienke leads his team of superlatives out against the hopelessly overmatched Joe Saunders. That may just be one to watch. The Duel of the Day distinction goes to King Felix against Franky Liriano. I know Liriano may never throw as hard or be as dominant as he once was; but he's coming off a strong start to face a meager offense. Felix Hernandez is 23 years old. Yikes. The exciting Yovani Gallardo faces the boring and predictable Ryan Dempster in another nice showdown. Let's not forget the surprising Kevin Millwood against the steady Jon Danks in Chicago.

voltron.jpgIt's easy to dismiss the Mets as a bushleague operation that embarrasses their highly-paid starting pitchers and/or places personal vendettas above winning. You'd be right, of course, this is a third-rate operation. They do, however, employ some excellent baseball players. Johan Santana is one of the best pitchers of his generation, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Delgado are all stars of stage, screen, and tabloid.

One name conspicuously absent from that list is Carlos Beltran. Over the past three years, Beltran's performed as one the 10 best players in baseball, providing the Mets with more than 13 wins above replacement. Beltran knows how to make use of all five tools, hitting for power, stealing bases and playing excellent defense. In 2009, Beltran's taken it to a whole new level.

While teammates struggle with huge strikeout numbers and the ravages of age, Beltran has carried the Mets offense. While Johan Santana is constantly buried in a thick praise paste, Beltran sees to go about his business without much fanfare even though both players of provided the Mets nearly identical output (1.7 WAR for Santana versus 1.5 WAR for Beltran.) Beltran may be performing at a level greater than we see here thanks to his curiously below-average defense. I'll give him a break and chalk that up to 1) Tiny sample size for a metric that requires lots of reps and 2) The first year in a vast, funky ballpark may prove difficult to establish true fielding zones.

Carlos Beltran gets an inordinate amount of shit from casual fans for his first terrible season in Flushing and Adam Wainwright's curveball shaming him before a nation. It would be ridiculous to overlook the incredible contributions the man they call Voltron makes to the Mets spotty record of success for the past years.

One case of new Coke Satire headed towards the good people at the Onion for the image

Bananas.jpgThe pitching last night was even better than a Basque travel agent upselling a young couple from Jersey into blithely donating their entire vacation budget into the anti-facist revolution movement. Let's sort it all out and look to today as it surely brings better things.

Tigers 1, Indians 0: The rumors of Justin Verlander's demise were greatly exaggerated. A quick look at his Fielding Independent Pitching numbers and the meager defense offered by the Tigers could tell you that. Oh, about that Tigers defense. Turns out every so often it proves to be somewhat valuable. Curtis Granderson's catch of Grady Sizemore's would-be walkoff ding dong was robbery worthy of the Spanish grifters currently eyeing up a Jersey jamook from a mile away. Verlander didn't need much else in the way of help, striking out 11 while only surrendering 2 hits. The Central leading Royals stumbled before the surging Angels behind the overwhelming offense of one Howie Kendrick. Gil Meche didn't pitch poorly but he didn't pitch well enough to prop up the meager Royals offense. Kansas City's still in first place by 2 full games in the parity-stricken Central. The Twins pounded three home runs in one inning in beating the struggling Mariners. Joe Mauer is pretty good after all.

Giants 3, Dodgers 1: Life without Manny continues to be a less than rosy proposition. The Giants handed their high-priced pitcher Barry Zito his first win of the year. Zito hasn't pitched terribly this year and with the help of his new perhaps-not-so-personal catcher Pablo Sandoval. The mighty Dodgers have now lost two games in a row, something I didn't think they'd do until October. The Snakes new boss must wonder what he signed up for, as his team lost to the white-hot Nationals. Adam Dunn and Jesus Flores totted while the Nationals bullpen improbably held a lead. AJ Hinch what hath you wrought?

Yankees 4, Orioles 0: Alex Rodriquez once again benefits from pitch tipping. Rather than the opposition tipping off A-Rod, it was the ESPN cameraman in centerfield providing the highlight of the month thus far. One pitch, one three run home run and all is forgotten in Yankeeland. CC Sabathia clearly required he not be the highest-paid guy in the dressing room as he pitched a complete game, four hit gem upon Rodriquez's arrival. The only person happier about A-Rod's return are headline writers relieved to be delving back into their A-______ bag of tricks. The Boston Red Sox taught James Shields and the Rays an important lesson: you don't get to be called Big Game just because your name is James. The Sox put a big old 5 spot on the Rays right hander in the sixth inning via home runs by Jason Bay and JD Drew. Bay currently sits second in baseball in OPS (1.154) and second in walks, too.

Really Quickly: The Phillies beat up on the Braves to remain up on the Mets in the NL East. Brad Lidge struggled in a mop-up appearance which should trouble the first place team every so slightly. The Rangers, the RANGERS got a complete game shutout from young Matt Harrison. If the Rangers are pitching shutouts, we know something's up. Harrison gave up just 5 hits, none of which were home runs incidentally, to beat the White Sox. That is all it takes to beat the White Sox, keep the ball in the ballpark. They don't even run the bases any more. Ball lands on grass, White Sock runs back into dugout crying. Ozzie's really into their heads.

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Hey kids, everything you can imagine is real.

Yep, I'm headed to Spain for a little vacation but Walkoff Walk will be thriving next week in my absence. First up, the weekend ahead, where Drew will make you swoon with his tidy game previews and recaps. Then on Monday and Tuesday, our pal Dan McQuade will grab the reins and entertain you. Finally, my life partner Kris returns on Wednesday to elevate the level of discourse on this here website to its classic dickjokery and affability. Same WoW channel.

I'll see you all again on Monday the 18th. Let's see how long I can go offline and not read email or check my RSS feeds or update my fantasy teams. I hope, by that point in time, no more of our favorite sluggers will get unwanted vacations, no more players slide headfirst into walls, and the Yankees offense has figured out how to drive in a man from third with fewer than two outs. Adios, chulos!

(Photo credit: dabasse on Flickr)

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In what has been deemed a peculiar hire by the Arizona Diamondbacks, 34-year-old A.J. Hinch is packing his brown bag lunch right now and filling his briefcase with paperwork as he prepares for his first day at his new job: Major League Baseball manager. After kicking Bob Melvin to the curb, young stud general manager Josh Byrnes obviously wanted to bring in some more young stud talent to lead a team with a flailing offense and an injured ace. But Hinch has exactly zero experience as a manager at any level, having retired from baseball less than five years ago. What gives?

Well, Hinch fits into two interesting criteria. He was a catcher, and he went to Stanford. Nearly half of all current managers, including World Series winners like Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia, were catchers during their MLB careers, and even crusty old Jim Leyland was a catcher although he never reached the bigtime. Face it, catchers are total nerds, always thinking about hitting, squatting, calling pitches, adjusting the infielders, crude insults to spew at opposing batters, and clever ruses to trick umpires into calling a strike on a curveball that dropped way out of the zone. Add in the bookish Stanford education and you've got yourself a veritable Renaissance Man of baseball-thinkery.

Of course, sometimes it just pays for a manager to be dumb so he can relate to his players better. Certain current managers seem to completely ignore any sense of academia or facts and rely on instinct and the capacity to get the most out of a player's ability. Just because Hinch is a young up-and-comer and knows the ins and outs of the entire Arizona system (he was the manager of the minor league ops) doesn't make him a true leader of men. Still, if he can figure out the intricacies of the double switch and if he can utilize his bullpen with efficiency, Hinch can help the D-Backs realize their potential. Just as long as he gets a leftfielder who can hit, that is.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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newstretcher.JPG My only work injury this week was to my ego when my boss disapproved of a couple frames I was building and sent me back to the warehouse to haul some shit. DEMOTION.

  • Tony Clark, Snakes: Clark sprained his wrist and landed on the deel. In his stead, Arizona has called up a gentleman named Josh Whitesell. Because they are racist.

  • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youk has sat out the past three games after tweaking his oblique in Monday night's game against the Yankees. He seemed to place some of the blame on ESPN for starting the rain delayed contest on short notice. Maybe he should be a sports blogger. In any case you can't blame ESPN for the Year Of The Oblique.

  • Derrek Lee, Cubs: Derrek Lee has a bulgin disc in his neck but says "It's impossible" that he'll end up on the DL. DERREK LEE IS DR. MANHATTAN HE CAN SEE THE FUTURE IN HIS MARS CASTLE. Either that or his neck doesn't really hurt that badly.

  • Alex Gonzalez, Reds: Gonzalez, who missed all of last year with a knee injury, strained his oblique Monday night against the Marlins whilst flying out. Ctrl+Apple+O = "strained his oblique." Whoops, that just brought up a huge topless picture of Oprah. EMBARASSING.

  • Carlos Guillen, Tigers: Guillen's right shoulder burst into flames, but he wasn't really hitting anyway. Plus, it allowed the tigers to call up Clete Thomas and MLB is just better when there's a guy named Clete involved. That's science.

  • Oliver Perez, Mets: Two days after getting yanked out of the rotation, Ollie was dropped on the deel with a knee problem. Well, I guess that's one way to free up a roster spot since he won't go to the minors. Has there been a more phony injury yet this season? Teams can pretty much make up any reason they want to put a guy on there, huh?

  • Rick Ankiel, Cardinals: Yeah, that'll put you on the DL for a few days.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we were packing our bags:

White Sox 6, Tigers 0: Mark Buehrle finally got enough distance between himself and the T-Rex to pitch eight innings of one-hit ball. Fella even had a bit of a perfect game going for six innings until Placido Polanco broke it up with a seventh inning double. A.J. Pierzynski and Jayson Nix bopped tater tots for the ChiSox.

Reds 6, Brewers 5: Playing without team-leading hitter Joey Votto, Reds pitcher Micah Owings did his best to play the role of hitter and pitcher, earning a win and knocking a tie-breaking triple. Votto and some other dudes are out with the flu. No confirmation from John Fay but I totally think it's the swine flu, which they caught from their clubhouse towel boy Marco who just went on a gay cruise to Puerto Vallarta.

Indians 3, Red Sox 1: Oh wait, the Red Sox scored twelve runs in the sixth inning, tying a modern major league record. So the Sox won 13-3 in front of my friend Derik, seated in the Green Monster seats and my friend Jaime, chilling in the State Street Paviliion. My friends like to party all the time. Kevin Youkilis sat out his third straight game, earning me zero more points in that stupid Player Pick Pool I never should have entered. Pfft.

Mets 7, Phillies 5: Old man Jamie Moyer gave up three huge Met homers and seven fat runs in just over two innings. He really put his team in a hole they couldn't claw their way out of. Ryan Howard tried, he hit a ding-dong with two ribs. Jayson Werth tried, he went 4-for-4 with a dong. But in the end, Francisco Rodriguez shut down the Phils for his second straight save and sent Charlie Manuel et al on their way back down I-95 with a goodie bag full of sadness.

Also, Bob Melvin got shit-canned. Kris sorta predicted it but he really threw some crap at the wall to see what stuck. Tough break, Melvin. Your name stuck.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you're never too far from a Starbucks.

That's all for today. I hope to not crow any more about the Manny suspension because, frankly, it's not the sort of thing that will end well for anyone. Innocent people besides Manny will suffer because of this nonsense, while some very sanctimonious assholes will profit from their soapbox blather. Let's just play ball, amirite? Tomorrow, same WoW channel and a special announcement for the upcoming week of WoW.

royal_m.jpg"So, Rob," I said to him back in February, "can I live blog a game for you this season?" 

He simply replied, "What in Joba's name are you doing in my foyer?" 

The steps that led to this day, you see, were already written in the stars. The AL Middle leaders Kansas City Royals and the AL Waytheheckoutthere leaders Seattle Mariners shall do friendly battle today in is most certainly a preview of the ALCS in Buddy Bell's Strat-O-Matic league. But the real ALCS? Oh, you can dream! 

Your pitchers for today are Brian "Staircase Protector" Bannister, and Jarrod "Court Jester" Washburn. The winner gets a baseball victory. The loser gets their fanbase to be slightly disgruntled for 24 hours. 

Postscript: Many moons later, Rob would name that room in his condo "The Jamie Foyer."
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • David Steele recounts being fired from his Bawlmer Sun beat writer gig during a game while in the press box. Newspapers are a dying medium but real people are suffering the brunt of it. Real Clear Sports.

  • Doug Glanville weighs in on the pitch-tipping controversy surrounding his ex-teammate Alex Rodriguez. Says Doug, "A more likely scenario for how he may have been tipping pitches: he was sending signals to his own team, something that could easily be stolen by a sage opponent." Sounds good to me! I'll buy it. New York Times.

  • Scott Allen takes a trip down memory lane and busts out a great listicle of nine famous baseball vendors. What, no love for the smartass vendor who once shamed me when I didn't catch his poorly-tossed bag of salt peanuts? Mental Floss.

  • Sky Andrecheck has an awesome name and uses his powers to examine the scoreless inning streaks of Zack Greinke and Don Drysdale. His findings will surprise you! Unless you've already read it! Baseball Analysts.

  • Diamond Leung examines the delicate tango between the Dodgers and reliever Joe Beimel during the past offseason. Although wacky Troy from West Virgina interrupted the dance and stepped on some toes, the non-signing really came down to dollar signs. Diamond Notes.

  • HG wonders how some of the best sports blogs around (plus The Big Lead) came up with their blog names. He even allowed your WoW editors to participate in the exercise. You Been Blinded.

  • Inside the Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat meme. Know Your Meme.
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Manny Ramirez suspended fifty games for positive drug test.

Ramirez is expected to attribute the test results to medication received from a doctor for a personal medical issue, according to a source familiar with matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

With the suspension taking effect with tonight's game at Dodger Stadium, Ramirez will not be eligible to return to the team until July 3.

Okay, WoWies. Do your work and come up with a better headline using alliteration.

UPDATE: The Yahoo! fantasy sports server is currently getting slammed by tons of Manny owners scraping the waiver wires for scrub OFs and by me trying to propose trades for the fella.

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  • 12:10PM EDT, Braves at Marlins: The Braves offense finally got some juice last night. Can they retain the juiciness today and finally give Jair Jurrjens some delicious run support? Chipper and the gang have supplied young Jair with just 2.67 runs per start. Maybe it's time to bench young Jordan Schafer, who earned his first golden sombrero last night and is now on pace for 246 strikeouts.

  • 1:40PM EDT, Pirates at Cardinals: The Pirates are 7-2 outside of their own division! But just 5-13 against NL Central opponents! This is a recipe for disaster! Because they play half their games against their own division! Their only hope is that Cards starter Todd Wellemeyer poops the bed again against the La Roche Bros and Co. like he did in April! Rick Ankiel will be in the lineup today but with that concussion still ringing in his noggin, he might need someone to point him towards centerfield!

  • 2:10PM EDT, Mariners at Royals: Believe it or not, a mid-May Mariners-Royals series means something. I never thought those words could ever be true, but they are, and our pal Matt Sussman is going to liveglog it for you. Jarrod Washburn attempts to even up a two-game series when he takes on sabermetric darling Brian Bannister in renovated Kauffman Stadium. Come back at two o'clock and enjoy the punny delight that is a Suss liveglog.

  • 3:10PM EDT, Giants at Rockies: Former face of the franchise Matt Cain got smacked around by the Rockies last week in San Fran, allowing three tater tots and four walks. Think he'll fare better out at Coors Field? Jason Marquis owns a 1.71 career ERA against the Giants in seven career starts but has never faced them in Coors. Something's gotta give, maybe!

  • 3:35PM EDT, Rangers at Athletics: Holy crapola, the Rangers are a first place team! They've notched five wins in a row and passed the fading Mariners thanks to some timely hitting and actual good starting pitching. Brandon McCarthy takes the hill today with his mediocre 4.67 ERA and fantastic 6.6 runs per game of support. Oakland has lost four in a row and sits mired in last place, so they're bringing Bob Welch out of retirement to start today.

  • 3:35PM EDT, Diamondbacks at Padres: Both these teams are 12-16 but only one of them has Danny Haren and a tidy 1.47 ERA on the payroll. After starting the season 0-3 with no love from his offense, fella has reeled off three straight well-deserved wins. His 6.71 K/BB ratio is delightful and things are looking up for the dude today, pitching in a park in which he has never lost.


Via AJ at Deadspin comes this video of a Yankees fan getting seriously upset (read: massively wasted) and executing the Bruce Lee flying karate kick at the Stadium last weekend. Perhaps he was indignant at some jamook wearing a green Yankees hat or something.

Good thing we published this today! How else would you have seen it? It's only been on every major sports blog this week.

Here is what the blogosphere is saying about the Dodgers modern-day record of 13 straight home wins to open up a season: kearnshudson.jpg

  • Dodger Thoughts: We know that a 13-game home winning streak against teams with records mostly .500 and below is no guarantee of invincibility. (...) We know that for the most part, the Dodgers haven't been squeaking by their competition; they've been pounding them, outscoring them by nearly two runs per game. (...) We know that this number doesn't mean everything. But it means something.

  • True Blue LA: But everything unraveled for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth. The Dodgers' at bats went as such: Single, lineout, walk, walk, single, walk, double, walk, single, groundout, groundout. By that time they were up 9-1 and would coast to a 10-3 win.

  • Baseball Musings: So can you win a division in April? The Dodgers are 13 games over .500 at home, 8-8 on the road. If they play .500 ball the rest of the season at home and go 41-40 away from Chavez Ravine, they'll finish 88-74. That's not enough to ensure a division title, but would have won the NL West in 2008. The Dodgers have built a nice foundation on which to win the division.

  • Big League Stew: Some enlightening background about the record the Dodgers broke: The 1911 Tigers, led by Tyrus Raymond Cobb himself, went 51-25 at home but were 38-40 on the road and finished 13 1/2 games out of first place in the AL. Peachy. It would be pretty difficult for the Dodgers to finish that far out of first in the NL West, where the NAFTA agreement will prohibit more than one team finishing over .500 this season. The Dodgers would need to play without a center fielder every day for at least half the season to finish under .500 in that division. Torre probably won't take Matt Kemp out for that long.

  • McCovey Chronicles: How Good Are the Dodgers? Trick question: There is no good in the Dodgers. Their hearts are black; the souls of fans and players alike are corroded and crumbling, carried granule by granule away by a dark, howling wind to parts unknown and unspeakable. It's a bad situation all around.

  • Federal Baseball: The Washington Nationals were there when the San Francisco Giants' left fielder hit his historic home run at home in AT&T Park. They were there in NY to sweep the New York Mets in the last week of their epic '07 collapse. And tonight, in Dodger Stadium, the Washington Nationals were there for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they cruised to their 13th straight victory at home to start the season.

  • Kim Kardashian: "What should I wear 2 the Dodger game tonight? They made me my own jersey, so do I wear jeans or leggings? Sneakers or diva it up w heels?"
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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we werestepping on our own toes:

Mets 1, Phillies 0: Possibly the best game I've seen in a while that featured exactly zero earned runs allowed by two veteran pitchers, in this case Johan Santana (10 Ks over 7 IP) and Chan Ho Park (5 Ks over 6 IP). Santana came out ahead, picking up the win when Carlos Delgado lumbered around the bases to score on a Pedro Feliz throwing error in the seventh. Fernando Tatis broke his bat on the game-winning play; the ball rolled slowly towards third base while the barrel of the bat sailed towards Jimmy Rollins, who nearly fielded it. Now that would have been a web gem.

Braves 8, Marlins 6: Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu did almost everything in his power to help the Fish win the game. Fella clobbered two doubles and a tater tot off Derek Lowe, driving in five runs but coming up short against the Braves bullpen. The offensively-challenged Braves finally found a cure for their scoring woes, tallying eight runs off 2006 Marlins draft pick Graham Taylor, who makes a delicious cracker. Lowe takes an ugly win, allowing six runs in five innings and collecting just six groundball outs.

Indians 9, Red Sox 2: Carl Pavano is coming around, people! Hide your daughters! Fella had his third quality start of the season to go along with his three horrendous heartburn-inducing starts that left him with a scar-inducing 16.71 ERA. No matter, Carl shut down the Youkilis-less Sox while Mark DeRosa's tater tot and Vic Martinez' four RBI clobbered Justin Masterson.

Royals 9, Mariners 1: In other bizarro ex-Yankee pitcher success stories (see Weaver, Jeff), Sidney Ponson's fat ass earned his first victory of the year by working around eight hits over seven innings. Mark Teahen homered and had three RBI but the highlight of the game was courtesy of the Royals defense. Outfielder Mitch Maier recorded an assist by doubling up Russell Branyan tagging up at home. His throw reached catcher Miguel Olivo in such a manner that Olivo swung his body around to tag Branyan at the last second....right in Branyan's face. Russell took umbrage. And then took a seat, because the Mariners have now lost three in a row.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 2: Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 with a tater tot. The Pirates had no answer for such a dominant individual performance and surrendered their weapons after just five innings. They took a bus to the hotel and watched "Reno 911" in the LaRoches' room.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I know not if it's dark out side or light

See you all tomorrow, same WoW channel. Bring your liveglog blazers just in case we get a special liveglogger guest.

The three commissioners of the three biggest American sports, plus Gary Bettman, met today in New York City to discuss such topics as sharing best practices, maximizing fan value in a recession, and the best way to ingest human babies blood without making a mess.

On Wednesday morning, the four commissioners of the major North American professional sports leagues assembled atop the Mandarin Oriental hotel next to Central Park: Bud Selig of Major League Baseball, David Stern of the National Basketball Association, Roger Goodell of the National Football League and Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League. The Wall Street Journal conducted the gathering, and distributed programs that read on the cover for business leaders in the crowd: "A discussion on The Future of Sports with The Comissioners." (sic)

"Comissioners"? Hey, I thought the Wall Street Journal was one of the only newspapers surviving in the Xtreme Depression. It must be because they saved a few sheckels by firing every single copy editor on the staff.

Of course, one of the biggest topics on the day was the future of newspapers in sports. Put a bunch of frightened media types in a room with the three most powerful men in sports (plus Gary Bettman!) and you've got yourself a one-note song:

Stern, dean of the four commissioners after a quarter-century at the NBA's helm, said: "The handwriting is not on the wall, it's set in mud. Nevertheless, you can see by age and demographic, whether cable or Internet, the news is being consumed by consumers and we just have to adapt to that. Newspapers have to adapt or they won't survive."

The moderator (Sam Walker, sports editor of the Journal) asked if fans can get "credible coverage" going forward. Goodell noted that his management team had just met with Associated Press Sports Editors before the recent NFL Draft and discussed this same issue.

"There's a lot to be said for independence of sports journalism," Goodell said. "That doesn't mean we couldn't distribute content they create on boston.com, for example. It isn't any way filtered by the NFL; it goes directly on the site. Our industries have been good for each other. We've helped the paper business but certainly the paper business has helped us. I think of (late Boston sports columnist and TV analyst) Will McDonough and what he did to help the NFL. That would be greatly missed."

Translation: adapt to the digital age and fold your talents into MLB.com, NBA.com and NFL.com (and NHL.com!) or hit the bricks, newspaper dudes.

Fifth member of the pentavirate Colonel Sanders was notably missing from the group, probably to put the secret chemical in his new Kentucky Grilled Chicken to make you crave it fortnightly.

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Looks like that Robbie Alomar AIDS bombshell was just a dud. Or maybe not, because although his ex-girlfriend withdrew her $15 million civil suit, he might still have the HIV. Or rickets. Or swine flu. Or any one of the innumerable diseases that plague mankind. No telling whether the yeast infection rumor or the raped-by-Mexican-men rumors were true or not:

Alomar and (Ilya) Dall, a competitive arm wrestler and spa owner, broke up last October. Dall reportedly lives in a $5 million, Queens, N.Y., home purchased by a trust set up by Alomar.

The settlement was reached as attorneys for Alomar, a 12-time All-Star, and Dall were scheduled to appear Friday for an initial conference in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Dall could not be reached, and her attorney Anthony Piacentini declined comment when reached by ESPN.com.

"The complaint was withdrawn, which means the lawsuit was withdrawn with prejudice," Charles Bach, who represents Alomar, told ESPN.com. "That speaks for itself. It is over."

Awesome?

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We've made the first turn of the 2009 season and while there are many interesting stories vying for our attention and bandwidth, you best believe that one unique WoW storyline I've had my eye on is the ERA+ battle between Jon Lester and CC Sabathia. I really really really don't want to be on YouTube singing Bon Jovi for eternity. Either fortunately or unfortunately based on your feelings about duets, both guys have equal ERA+. 99 y'alll!

Yes, 99. Just one tick below the median. But according to our friend Brian MacPherson over at One If By Land, further investigation into Lester's numbers may indicate a sharp upward turn in that ERA+ soon.

But if you consider the company in which his early-season strikeout numbers leave him, you have to believe he's well on his way to better days. Tomorrow's Union Leader story will reference an elite group of pitchers -- nine in total -- who have a K/BB ratio of 3.0 or better and a K/9IP ratio of 9.0 or better. That means they're striking out more than a batter an inning and still striking out more than three times as many hitters as they're walking. Here's the group:

* Zack Grienke, 0.40 ERA

* Johan Santana, 1.10 ERA

* Dan Haren, 1.47 ERA

* Erik Bedard, 2.61 ERA

(How come no one's talking about the start Bedard has had for the Mariners so far this season?)

* Tim Lincecum, 3.16 ERA

* Felix Hernandez, 3.38 ERA

* Javier Vazquez, 4.19 ERA

* Jon Lester, 5.11 ERA

* Justin Verlander, 5.66 ERA

A pretty compelling stat and a pretty good list to be on. The baserunners seem to be coming in clumps for Lester and he's given up a handful of big innings. Spreading that out will bring down those ERs allowed.

Using this metric, Carsten Charles is significantly lagging behind Lester at this admittedly early stage. Dude is rocking a mere 1.6 K/BB ratio and his current WHIP would be the highest of his career. He's a notoriously slow starter, but striking out 5.5 per 9 isn't exactly what the Yankees signed him for. But hey, they can do whatever they want with their money. It's their life.

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Braves rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer is a strikeout machine! I guess his batting eye is suffering from HGH withdrawal or something because he's leading the NL with 34 strikeouts in just 103 plate appearances. At this rate, he'll break the all-time single season record with over 230 strikeouts and completely shame his ancestors.

But don't worry about that happening, because Ol' Chip is on the case and playing the role of mentor:

Strikeout-plagued rookie Jordan Schafer spent nearly two hours Tuesday working with third baseman Chipper Jones, who had noticed several flaws in Schafer's swing in recent weeks.

Schafer has been playing with a sore left wrist since hearing a pop on a swing in an April 10 game against Washington. He said the wrist has improved some in the past week, since he stopped taking extra batting practice. He also insisted it wasn't the reason for his recent struggles.

Jones and hitting coach Terry Pendleton said that compensating for hand or wrist injuries can cause a player to compensate and get in bad habits with his swing. Both of them believed that's probably happened with Schafer, at least to some degree.

Jones' coaching and influence totally worked last night. Schafer only struck out once against Mets starter Livan Hernandez, instead of his usual rate of 2.5 whiffs per game. After the game, Chipper and Jordan went down to the shooting range where the kid missed every single target.

Last night at the Yanks-Sox tilt, Boston Globe scribe Dan Shaughnessy was sitting four rows behind me out in the right field mezzanine. I knew it was him because (1) nobody else wears a perm with such confidence and (2) the Globe is going tits up so they can't afford to put him in the press box no more. He still pooped out a semi-recycled column about the Yanks-Sox rivalry, but the fans in my section left him alone, most likely because he's relatively anonymous if you're not from Boston or have never read the Sports Guy. And Yankees fans don't read.

One D-list celebrity who didn't go unrecognized at a baseball game was Guy Fieri. Well, sort of. Turns out FSN in Kansas City was totally fooled by a Guy Fieri impersonator and even conducted a FOUR MINUTE LONG mid-game interview with the fraud:


You know, there are other douchebags in the world with bleached blond spiked hair and a dopey goatee besides Guy Fieri. And it totally wasn't him, as per the real Guy Fieri's Twitter. This is totally like that time Erin Andrews thought she was interviewing a Muppet but it turned out to be Matt Garza.

(We owe a case of 2-liter Diet Cokes to our pal AJD at Deadspin)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you wereall strung out on heroin on the outskirts of town:

Red Sox 7, Yankees 3: Late night last night, kiddies! The Sox and the Yanks played another near-four-hour game and I sat through it, including the rainy part of the game after the fifth inning. Joba Chamberlain was shaky in the first, allowing the first five hitters of the game to reach including Jason Bay's three-run tater tot. Fella calmed down after that, recording a career-high twelve strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Josh Beckett was shaky all game long but only made one big oopsie, a Johnny Damon homer that CAME DIRECTLY AT ME, AGAIN. Well, two seats to the left of me. No jamooks this time but it was still out of my grasp. Beckett allowed 11 baserunners over 6 but the Sox Eastern intrigue bullpen of Hideki Okajima and Takashi Saito was perfect over three. We hit the bricks with our dollar store umbrellas and my jeans are still soaking wet. But hey, at least nobody told us it was okay to leave early.

Other stuff happened too, but I'm out of the loop. I hung out with FoWoW Jonah Keri at the game and he kept checking for the Expos score. Poor, sorry Montrealers...

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I am large, I contain multitudes.


That'll do it for today. No liveglog tomorrow because the powers that be have decided to make Tuesday your getaway day and schedule day games today to end a bunch queer two-game series. Same WoW channel, we'll be here.

Dom DeLuise at Sea World video courtesy of Classic Television Showbiz blog.

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Did you hear the big news? If you're a member of the Mets, then the answer is no, because the team has removed every tabloid newspaper from the home clubhouse at CitiField. The cheesiest tabloid of them all, the New York Post, thinks the Mets are spineless cowards who can't handle a little criticism:

The newspapers were a staple of the Mets' clubhouse for decades at Shea Stadium, but a source said team management didn't want the players exposed to the "bad vibes" from the tabloids after back-to-back September collapses.

The only newspaper now provided in the clubhouse is USA Today, whose coverage of the Mets is very limited.

Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz confirmed the removal of the tabloids, but claimed it was because the club "didn't want to play favorites among the New York newspapers."

Right, because baseball players don't watch television or read blogs or follow Twitter feeds or interact with sad fans ever. The only way the Mets players can ever gauge public opinion about their performances or lack thereof is the newspaper! The bastion of influence in Queens! Newspapers are important creatures and deserve to be preserved, whether in paper or digital format, but the New York Post is wrong for thinking its shoddy journalistic approach to covering sports is the reason newspapers are getting swept out of the clubhouse.

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  • 12:35PM EDT, Astros at Nationals: Roy Oswalt looks to get some friggin run support and notch his first win of the year out in Washington today, where he sports a 0.55 ERA in four career appearances. He'll wield his fastball to face down Ryan Zimmerman, carrying a tidy 22-game hitting streak into this businessperson's special. A getaway game on a Tuesday? Thanks, MLB scheduling wizards!

  • 12:37PM EDT, Indians at Blue Jays: Toronto bloggers are absolutely agog over the debut of lithe lefty Brett Cecil this afternoon at the Massive Telecom Dome. The 22-year-old Cecil got the call up to the big time to replace fellow lithe lefty Ricky Romero (strained oblique) in the starting rotation. Might be a bit too soon to celebrate, Blue Jay fans. Cecil was 0-3 with a 8.31 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas, and rookie Indian slugger Matt LaPorta eats lithe lefties for breakfast.

  • 2:20PM EDT, Giants at Cubs: Reigning Cy Young winner and snaggletoothed video game pitchman Tim Lincecum looks to erect an enormous concrete wall and stop the rallying Cubs, winners of four in a row. Lincecum has great career numbers against the Cubs...well, Lincecum has great career numbers against everyone, even the 1939 Yankees, who he never faced. Following in the footsteps of fellow E! reality star Denise Richards colon it's complicated's knockout performance, Kim Kardashian's enormous ass will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch.

  • 4:08PM EDT, Orioles at Rays: Matt Garza, whose real claim to fame is his similarity in appearance to a Muppet, will try and hold back the O's today lest the boys from Baltimore pass Tampa in the standings. Quel horreur! Last to first to last again, who would have thought? Koji Uehara makes his first appearance since taking a line drive to the chest. Ouch!

  • 4:40PM EDT, Rangers at Mariners: The Rangers were able to nip at King Felix' heels last night, eventually tagging the ace for six runs over six innings. Today, they'll try and hit Erik Bedard early and then coast on the pitching stylings of one Vicente Padilla, he of the 7.42 ERA. Ken Griffey missed the game yesterday with an inflamed colon. Don Wakamatsu will personally get some ice water and aloe and try to cool that thing down so Griff can play the role of designated Padilla smasher.
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Last night, the drip-drops were coming down with regularity in the Bronx, making the chances that a game between the Red Sox and the Yankees seem nearly impossible because of terrible weather. Some folks got some bad advice and left the ballpark mere minutes before a first pitch time of 9:20 PM was announced. They turned into quite an army of angry, soaking wet rats:

With rain falling for hours and no start time announced until shortly before 9 p.m., hordes of fans began leaving the Stadium and heading home - some who said they had been advised that the game had been called by Yankee employees who walked the concourse holding pinstriped "How may I help you?" signs.

When a 9:20 p.m. start time was eventually announced over the public address system, a crowd on the sidewalk outside Gate 6 tried to get back into the Stadium, only to have the employees working the turnstiles promptly close the doors in their faces. Panicked fans began racing up and down the sidewalk, trying to find a way back into the ballpark, while others remained at Gate 6 either pleading or demanding to be let back in.

The Daily News photogs got some pretty good pictures including the one linked here, and were even threatened by Yankee security personnel to stop documenting what become a near-riot. One person was arrested for fighting with a cop. Several folks got back into the Stadium at Gate 4 but security put the kibosh on that pretty quickly.

What's the lesson to be learned here? Baseball teams will do everything in their power to get a game in regardless of the weather and they sometimes leave fans in the dark as to what their true intentions will be. Indeed, it's nice to keep a stadium-ful of folks spending money on concessions and alcohol for a couple hours while you wait for Sam Champion to tell you to hit the bricks. But as a fan, under no circumstances should you trust a part-time security guard for actual information when nothing has been officially announced over the P.A. system. If you're really in that much of a rush to get on the Major Deegan, it's your funeral.

(Picture credit: Robert Sabo, NY Daily News)

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So last week as I was scrambling to adjust to my new schedule (it's temporary, fear not fans of subpar baseball writing) I really wanted to write a piece telling Mets fans to chill their slits and ease off Oliver Perez. My thinking was that after inking a $36 million deal and not being totally healthy during Spring Training, Ollie would get a little some slack, some leeway to improve on his dismal start. Basically I thought calls for his head and his demotion were a little premature and unrealistic. Trust me, I've had to watch Brad Penny make 5 starts.

But alas, the time to properly write the piece didn't come and well... good thing. They demoted the poor sumbitch.

The Mets are figuring out where to send Perez; apparently, the moon is not an option. And they will wind up making a decision that, as Jerry Manuel said Sunday morning, is in the best interest of everyone, both in the long term and immediately. Now that it's clear Perez will not make his scheduled start Friday against Pittsburgh, the Mets will announce his replacement, and all signs point to Ken Takahashi, who impressed Manuel with how he responded after Shane Victorino nearly knocked his first pitch through his stomach.

"He threw one ball over the middle of the plate and it hit him in the chest, and he said, 'No more. I'm working the corners now.' " Manuel said. "And he did a good job. I was impressed."

Ken Takahashi, a man who sounds more like someone who's name ran in the credits when you beat Bases Loaded then an actual player, is filling in for a $36 million pitcher because he didn't get hit in the chest with a second line drive. METS FANS HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?

What comes next for Perez, but more importantly what comes next for the NL's NYC club? This a pretty serious panic move when we've barely turned the calendar page to May. An acknowledgment of failure by Perez is an acknowledgment of failure in the Mets front office. And for a team with one of the highest payrolls in baseball, that's a very bad thing.

Speaking to Jose Reyes in camp he told me that one of the things that he really felt was going to put the team over the top in '09 was the stability that came with having transsexual manager Jerry Manuel at the helm for the whole year. No drama. Well I'm not so sure that a major rotation shakeup involving Perez, and I can't stress his $36M extension enough, doesn't serve as a portent for another season of handwringing and circling vultures in Queens. Bad times.

Courtesy of our friends at the 700 Level, it's Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel sliding face-first into the outfield wall at New Busch Stadium.


Fella should be okay. He was never unconscious and the X-rays were negative. Kudos to the 700 Level for embedding the video of America's sweetheart Ankiel in a sober, informative manner. Were that Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, I can only imagine the video would have been set to "Yakety Sax".

official MLB video thanks to Big League Stew

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you wanted your adobe slabs:

Royals 3, White Sox 0: Zack Greinke became the majors first six-game winner with a complete game shutout performance against Ozzie Guillen's band of merry outpatients. Greinke's ERA drops to a league-low 0.40 while his strikeout total rises to a league-high 54. Fella is striking out more than one batter per inning which is a recipe for certain success. Over 21,000 fans attended the game, which is some sort of record for a Royals game in May when the rodeo is also in town and giving out free cases of frozen Bubba Burgers.

Phillies 6, Cardinals 1: Looks like Country Joe Blanton can cross his name off this sorry list. Fella went six strong, allowing just one run to drop his ERA to a still-horrendous 6.84. Kyle Lohse took the loss, giving up all six Philly runs in the form of a two-run Jayson Werth ding-dong and a Ryan Howard tetra tot.

Twins 7, Tigers 2: A little bit of Mauer power works behind the plate when the Mauer power in the batters box is flailing about. Joe Mauer went 0-for-5 with four gents left on base but no matter, he called a heckuva game for Frenchy Liriano, who also removed his name from the loser list. Again, this is not the 2006 edition of Liriano but it was a good one. Dude struck out nine Tigers and retired nine others on fly balls, leaving just four outs on the ground. His opponent Edwin Jackson failed miserably, allowing five runs in the seventh inning. That dude is A-OK through the first six innings, but the Tigers have allowed a total of 10 runs in the seventh innings of his last two starts. Stinkeroo!

Brewers 7, Pirates 4: The Pirates inability to beat the Brew Crew continues. Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the eighth behind starter Paul Maholm, the Pittsburgh bullpen found a way to blow it all. The intercostal with the mostal, Ryan Braun, came off the bench to tie the game in the eighth and then Rickie Weeks slammed a three-run happy jack to win it all for the Crew in the ninth. Closer Matt Capps didn't, and took the loss. Fewer than 9,000 Pittsburghians showed up because the friggin Penguins were playing some sort of winter sport.

The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Podcast Episode 1.6 is now archived at BlogTalkRadio for your listening enjoyment. Kris recommends enjoying the show with a nice dry Riesling, possibly an '06 from Alsace. The topics discussed tonight included an unsung Kurt Suzuki, the MVP candidacy of Aaron Hill, Drew's magic ability to witness walkoff walks, authentic shawarma and poutine, and the tragedy that occurs when old media fires their beat writers.

The song played at the end is Justin Townes Earle's live rendition of "They Killed John Henry", courtesy of KEXP at the Free Music Archive.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I won't forget to put roses on your grave

That'll do, pigs. Please tune in tonight for the ol' radio show. It promises to be another delightful romp and maybe we'll even talk about actual current events. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

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April was a tough month, y'all, especially for down-rotation starters on struggling teams. Some very interesting names spent the entire month without a victory, and a handful of them will be on the mound tonight searching for their first win on the year. Note, of course, that wins and losses are no way to measure how well a pitcher is doing. But tell that to their statistically-ignorant moms and dads who are having trouble bragging about their son's performance in the major leagues. Not everybody's kid can be as awesome as Tim Lincecum, after all.

Here are your choices:

  • Joe Blanton, Phillies: Fella went 4-0 down the stretch after being traded to the Phils and helped them win the World Series blah blah blah. Well get over your ginormous 2008 hangover already, Country Joe, because your 8.41 ERA after four winless starts is embarrassing Harry Kalas' gold-throated ghost. He'll try to notch a win tonight in St. Louis. Albert Pujols is salivating.

  • Francisco Liriano, Twins: Hey, remember 2006? Yeah so does Francisco Liriano, which is why he cried himself to sleep every night in April after going 0-4 with a 6.04 ERA in five starts. Dude is not inducing ground balls as much since he's pretty much abandoned his slider after recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball has lost some speed, but Frenchy'll face the free-swinging Tigers tonight. I expect a perfect game with 26 strikeouts.

  • John Lannan, Nationals: This dude has been at least league-average over five winless starts. He can pretty much blame that big fat zero on the big fat zeroes who make up the Nationals offense. Over those five starts, his team scored a whopping twelve runs. In fact, he threw seven scoreless innings against the Braves a week ago but the team ended up losing the game 1-0. No matter, he's up against fellow big loser Brian Moehler and the Astros tonight, so I'd expect at least a quality start.

  • Brett Anderson, Athletics: Who? Oh yeah, Brett Anderson, who has had at least two decent starts but with a 5.01 ERA, will struggle to ever win a game with the league's worst slugging offense behind him. Tonight, they face the Angels, who possess the league's worst bullpen. Q.E.D the A's will come from behind to win but our man Brett won't get any credit. Sorry, Moms Anderson!

  • Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies: After a terrible first start, De La Rosa has strung together three straight good ones, including five innings of hot scoreless action against the bigtime Dodgers and two quality starts. With a 3.57 ERA, it's only a matter of time before the Rockies offense decides to provide him with some old time Coors Field run support. That won't happen tonight in spacious Petco Park against his winless counterpart Kevin Correia.

So if I was forced at gunpoint to pick some winners tonight among this collection of losers, I'd take John Lannan and Kevin Correia, only because their teams will be facing poorer opponents. But if I was an actual betting man, I'd abandon this group of chuckleheads and put down an exacta on King Felix Hernandez versus the Rangers and S.I. cover boy Zack Greinke against the ChiSox.

francisfarmer.jpgKen Griffey returning to Seattle provided a lot of column inches and a lot of sold merchandise for the good people of the Emerald City. He got his ovations, the players got their clubhouse go-between, the front office got their old poster boy back. Everyone wins!

Unfortunately, signing a free agent and placing him on the active roster isn't quite like the serving as ceremonial starter of the Masters: you expect the man to make a contribution. Sadly, Griffey has not made any sort of contribution to the Mariners hot start. Ken Griffey Junior's current line is pretty rough: .190/.338/.317. An OPS of .655, or about what the Mariners got from designated hitter-come-punchline Jose Vidro in 2008. Offensively, he's at or below replacement level, something I'm not comfortable saying about the sweetest swing I've ever seen. Griffy's 2 home runs on the season tell part of the story, his swing information does the rest. Less contact, fewer line drives, more ground balls, more infield pop ups (juuusst missed it), and most telling of all, more fastballs faced. Opposing pitchers just don't believe he can get around on the hard stuff because Griffey doesn't give them any reason to believe it.

It's hard to watch one of the greatest players of his generation serve as little more than a mascot. In addition to being part of a strict platoon (Griffey doesn't start against right handed pitching), he's part of a DH platoon at that. The former web-gem-in-waiting spent a grand total of 23 innings in the field thus far. Exactly zero since Ichiro's return from the DL. New manager Don Wakamatsu is dedicated to defense, obviously at Griffey's expense.

I don't think it's all bad for Ken Griffey. If this is his victory lap around the league, he couldn't have picked a better team to do it with. The Mariners have a real shot in the wide-open west, if Griffey can inject some good tidings to both sides of the clubhouse with the (very) occasional long ball than I'm all for it. In the end, I hope this provides one of the best ever with a suitable coda to an incredible career, without trampling too much on his ultimate legacy.

Good old Mordecai Peter Centennial "3 Finger" Brown. Had some mangled digits from a tractor accident, but was still one of the marquee pitchers of the deadball era. He was even on the Cubs the last time they won the World Series. Neat guy. Now thanks to the video editing/flipbook making skills of YouTube user TenAleTilt, you can watch him throw in all his glory. Well a few seconds of his glory anyway.

Now if we can just find one of Ty Cobb punching out some minorities and pushing a baby stroller down a flight of stairs we'll really get a feel for the old days! Please to enjoy.



(We owe a Coke to Tim Marchman.)

Tony Jackson and Jerry Remy: Come Back Soon

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Couple of notes from over the weekend that have hampered my enjoyment of the game we cover. First off was the news on Friday that one of my very favorite beat writers, Tony Jackson who covered the Dodgers for the LA Daily News, was getting laid off due to the budget cuts that are decimating every newsroom in the country. In order to make sure we read as many writers as we can each day, Rob and I set up separate RSS feeds when we started the blog. His contains beat writers for all the NL teams, mine the AL teams. When we want info on a particular story from the other league we trade the links. Jackson's no nonsense style and ability to decipher what were the real stories that affected the team made his writing stand out, and soon I was reading him every day on my own. It was just something I did as someone who follows the Dodgers, not even as an aspiring sportswriter. Dude was damn good, and clearly he'll be missed by many Dodger fans. Here's hoping he pops back up somewhere posthaste.

Secondly, I listen to most of my Red Sox game on the radio, because I'm too cheap for cable. But when I'm around a TV for a game I enjoy the goofy charm of Remy and Orsillo. So when I turned on the game Thursday night from Tampa and was greeted by the decidedly not dulcet tones of Buck Martinez I was worried. Remy had been sick during Spring Training and now is back in Boston tending to a relapse of sorts. He (or someone) explained the absence on his Twitter. Apparently he's recovering from a bout of Pneumonia which he says he came back too quickly from. Translated: he was still smoking a pack a day of Pall Malls in the hospital. Come on, Jerry. Take better care of yourself.

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The walkoff walk is a perfect baseball occurrence. It's not so frequent that it happens on a weekly basis, losing its uniqueness and ruining the specialness of the event. It's also not a thrice-in-a-lifetime sort of deal like an unassisted triple play, or a Phillies World Championship. No, the walkoff walk will show up about seven or eight times a baseball season to delight you, when you least expect it, and sometimes, it comes in bunches.

Take this past weekend. I woke up early Saturday morning to catch a flight to Cleveland when I popped open this here website to find, thanks to our awesome weekend editor Drew, our favorite treadmill-running shrimp, the official YouTube video of the walkoff walk. The Dodgers had won on a walkoff walk on Friday night! This was already the second WoW of the season in baseball, and oddly, the second WoW for the Dodgers team. Believe it or not, the Dodgers had a chance for a third walkoff walk on Saturday night but stupid Andre Ethier decided it'd be more exciting to hit a bases-loaded RBI single than see some shrimp.

No matter, the Phillies' Shane Victorino picked up the slack on Saturday and drew the second walkoff walk of the weekend as documented here, again by our pal Drew. This time, thanks to our good relationship with the Philly baseballblogosphere, I was alerted immediately via text message, email, phone call, and bat signal. It happened between courses at the wedding dinner I was attending; needless to say, the overall reaction at the table could best be described as "nonplussed" and "concerned for the safety of someone who had one too many gin-and-tonics".

Last night, the Mariners had a chance to make it a three-for-three weekend. But Jose Lopez let us down, knocking another bases-loaded walkoff RBI single off 'reliever' Dana Eveland in the bottom of the 15th. I guess Eveland, who had just started and pitched five innings on Friday night, just wanted to throw strikes and go home. Kind of like how I felt yesterday morning when I woke up in Cleveland with a hangover.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Pale Blue Eyes

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Here's what happened yesterday in baseball while I thought of you as everything I've had but couldn't keep.

Reds 5, Pirates 0: Johnny Cueto was masterful in 8 innings of shutout, 9K ball. The Reds blanked the Pirates twice in this series. Arthur "Fender" Rhodes finished the gig with his 10th consecutive scoreless appearance. The Reds pulled even with the Cubs for second place in the division. STOP THE SEASON NOW SO WE CAN BE RIGHT.

Rays 5, Red Sox 3: Tampa Bay took 3 of 4 from the Sox in convincing fashion. Yesterday's win featured Carl Crawford tying the all time MLB mark with 6 SBs. He said he didn't know what the record was, but had he known he definitely would have tried to break it. Refreshingly honest, Carl. Boston's Silver Lining was Kevin Youkilis who continues to be putting up the best numbers in baseball for someone not named Albert Pujols.

Giants 1, Rockies 0: Barry Zito went 7 scoreless allowing only 3 baserunners. But the Rockies staff matched him through 9, and it was Rich Aurillia's pinch hit game winning RBI in the 10th that put the San Fran over the top. Zito has now allowed but 3 runs in his last three starts, going 20.1 IP. That oughta sell some jeans.

Royals 7, Twins 5: Scott Baker had a no hitter going into the 7th, but the Royals broke it and subsequently scored 5 runs. Whoops. Try scattering em next time, Scotty. Jose Guillen led the charge with 4 RBI and a Happy Jack. I take it all back, dude's worth every penny. Now I take that back.

Houston 7, Atlanta 5: Popular score yesterday. Michael Bourn had 3 hits including the go ahead rib in the 7th. His average is now a gaudy (for him) .301. Good on him. The game featured 12 total pitchers, one of whom was Russ Ortiz. That just seems noteworthy.

Thumbnail image for shrimpbaby.jpgAnother day blessed with shrimp! Looking around the league will tell us what happened last night while we were saved from one more day of shrimpless misery.

Philles 6, Mets 5: I don't know if you noticed, but the Mets bullpen is much improved in 2009. As a staff they rank second in FIP, tied for fifth best in K/BB while surrendering home runs one of the lowest rates in the league. Guess how much that stuff matters when Shane Victorino steps in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning? A single, a pitch hits Matt Stairs in the foot, and back-to-back walks send them to the seafood buffet happy. The Mets hit consecutive tater tots with Raul Ibanez countering for the mighty Phils. The Nationals finally snapped their 5 year losing streak with a victory over the first place Cardinals. Shairon Martis pitched a hell of a game, going the distance without walking a single batter. The start time for tomorrow's rubber match may move back to accomodate the jersey retirement ceremony for Martis, having pitched only the 4th complete game since 2006.

A's 3, Mariners 2: The American League West is quickly becoming the division nobody wants. The Mariners squandered a good pitching performance by Jarrod Washburn in what experts call "a horrible waste of scarce natural resources." Jason Giambi knocked in two of the runs with a double in the sixth inning and a single in the eighth. The Texas Rangers heard two teams from the west were involved in a tight, well-played pitching contest so they stepped in to remedy the situation. Only one home run (slow night) but six doubles paced the Rangers behind a good start from Brandon McCarthy. The Angels beat the Yankees because Brian Cashman forget innings 6 through 8 count just the same as the rest.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: Very, very, nearly our second WoW of the day. Andre Ethier faced a full count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning, but mistakenly chose to drive an inside pitch off the right field wall rather than trying to make us all happy. I assume Ethier's moved on from seafood to something with a little more cache like Swedish-Indonesian fusion. The Padres aren't good at scoring runs. The Giants aren't either, which is why they were nearly shut out by Jason Marquis in a loss to the Rockies. Feeling my scorn yesterday surely motivated Marquis to go the distance, only giving up a home run to Pablo Sandoval in the ninth inning. The poor Rockies are last in the NL West but sport a positive run differential. Surely a factoid to steel them after the Dodgers clinch this division in early June.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 4: Aaron Hill giveth and Aaron HIl taketh away. The man who's positive contributions in 2009 rank behind only Raul Ibanez booted a straight-forward double play ball in the 10th inning allowing the Orioles to score a go-ahead run. This didn't sit will with Aaron Hill so he lead off the 10th with a home run to tie the game. One inning later, with a running standing on second base, Hill singled to center to cash Rod Barajas with the winning run. The Jays walked off for the 4th time this season, the OriLOLs lost their fifth straight game and currently have the worst run differential in baseball. Worsening. The Red Sox stopped worsening for one night against the Rays soft, supple back of the rotation. Tim Wakefield hardly baffled the hard-hitting Rays but he and the Sox 'pen held the line. The Rays bullpen, such a source of strength last season, coughed up 4 runs and issued 4 free passes. No team that employs Scott Kazmir should be cavalier about their bullpen innings.

Elsewhere: The Riot hit The Dinger for the second day in a row, the Duel of the Day materialized in the form of Dan Haren's 11 strikeouts, the Royals overcame three unearned runs to beat the Twins in extra innings. Good stuff, more later!

Year of the Oblique? No sir, this is the year of the SHRIMP! Shane Victorino watches ball four low and we're having shrimp two nights in a row. Get yours!

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Apologies for the light schedule this morning, after some bumbling around ye olde Barbershoppe, there's still time to look at this afternoon's games.

Fox Trot: Any minute now, depending on your corner of the continent, you will either watch sworn enemies from Flushing and Philadelphia battle for distant second place in the NL East. The more midwestern among us can feast on the Indians/Tigers tilt, possibly featuring the big league debut of Matt "From the Window to the Wall" LaPorta. Aaron Laffey versus Zach Miner could be a Central duel for years to come. In fact, I shall anoint it today's Duel of the Day! No chance does that come back to haunt me. Finally, the Braves and Astros will offer viewers a glimpse into the elaborate joke network sports can become when broadcast schedules are decided over Pinochle games and Glenlivet. The Giants and Rockies engaged in a soggy pitchers duel last night so we will reward them with an afternoon game in sunny San Fransisco. Click here for a live weather look-in.

Night Train's Runnin': Can the Rays stay on track against the suddenly slumping Red Sox? Who will free themselves from the Tough Luck Express in Milwaukee: Braden Looper or Dan Haren? I'm betting on a derailment. Can the Royals edge the Twins behind the erudite moundwork of Mr. Brian Bannister? How many bases will the Dodgers steal from Chris Young? For every base Manny steals, the denizens of Mannywood get to throw an armrest at their in-seat server.

old-doghouse.jpgIf you are any kind of baseball fan, you know of Mark Hendrickson. There are two main reasons for his notoriety:

  1. Mark Hendrickson played four seasons in the NBA. He made his most notable contribution to the basketball landscape by offering his head as a convenient landing area for basketballs in a rather famous Michael Jordan poster.
  2. The journeyman's played for so many teams; your local nine is bound to be one of them.

Last night, Mark Hendrickson did what he always does: he went out there and sucked. Hendrickson pitched 5 innings, surrendering 4 runs on 9 hits & 2 walks. Pretty normal, mediocre stuff.

Normal until you realize those five innings helped push Mark Hendrickson over 1000 innings pitched in his career, into the upper troposphere of mediocre baseball players. Mark Hendrickson is now the proud owner of career ERA still comfortably over 5 or the 6th highest ERA of all time for pitchers with 1000 IP or more.

The saddest part of Mark Hendrickson's career dirge is he's not that bad. His career FIP is respectable 4.57, good enough to be a fifth starter on most big league teams. It's also lower than many pitchers with vastly superior career W-L or ERA numbers such as Jason Marquis or former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen. Yet neither of these fine fellows must face the indignity of such distinctions (though Jason Marquis deserves some sort of prize for his 14 win, 6.02 ERA/5.90 FIP season in 2006. Make checks payable to Albert Pujols plz).

How could this have happened? How could an athlete of such incredible pedigree that he played two different sports professionally be so bad at one of them? Playing on bad teams doesn't help, neither do his obvious physical gifts (being very tall) that allow him shot after shot when others would have been left on the scrap heap. I say good for you Mark, keep grindin and keep serving it up. Two pensions are better than one my friend.

For the second time this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers win via Walkoff Walk!!! An incredibly well-pitched game ends in the worst possible way for Jake Peavy, but the best possible way for those of us that love shrimp! Silent J-ussel Martin doesn't bite on a high, hard fastball to end the ball game. 1-0 Dodgers.

Shake your delicious tail:

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, 'no' most certainly does not mean 'yes'.

It's Friday, go do Friday things. Then come back here this weekend to be entertained by our Canadian friend Drew fka Lloyd the Barber. Thanks to our guests this week, Sooze with her sassy livegloggery and D-Mac with his popular new Cinema Varitek feature.

Wear your swine flu masks, folks, and keep those mitts clean. Thanks for joining us all week long!

(Kiss Cam photo courtesy of Flickr user robertjosiah)

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It's about time that Walkoff Walk talked about baseball games on the East Coast, y'all. Enough of the constant Kansas City and Arizona coverage, that's what I say! Two big weekend series get underway tonight on the East Coast. Well, one game is on the left bank of the Delaware River while the other takes place on the North Shore of Lake Ontario, but geography was never a strong suit for the folks who make up baseball divisions. How else would you explain the Atlanta Braves playing in the N.L. West for so long?

I digress. The new pouty and perennial rivalry that is the Mets and Phillies rears its ugly head tonight at Citizens Bank Park with the Phillies treading water above the .500 mark and the Metropolitans tearing themselves apart at 9-12, four and a half games behind the first place Marlins. Things have gotten so bad for the Mets that their best bloggers are taking on Geoff Baker-like emo posts. The Mets are already driving their fans crazy with insane bullpen performance and questionable managerial moves and it's only May 1st.

Not like things are much better for the Phillies, despite their winning April record. Their pitching staff has allowed an amazing 40 tater tots over the first 20 games, with a league-worst 5.72 ERA. Their starters are stinkeroo, posting FIPs in the high fives and low sixes. Even Cole Hamels and his very good K/BB ratio of 3.75 can't catch a break, allowing too many homers and enduring too many ouchies. Expect another tater-fest at CBP tonight when Mike Pelfrey and Chan Ho Park assume their respective positions.

Meanwhile, things certainly have changed in the A.L. East since that heady preseason day when I opined that the Blue Jays and Orioles should merge their best parts and create a Voltron-esque superpower that could battle the Rays-Red Sox-Yankees triumvirate. First, the Blue Jays have played good baseball! They've beat up on every single A.L. team except the Mariners (who they didn't play) and the Royals (who they lost three of four games to) and, of course, the four other Easterly teams who they've yet to lock horns with. Yes, tonight's game against the Orioles is the first intra-division matchup for our northern friends. Not that tonight's game looks bleak for Toronto: Baltimore's run prevention is questionable at best, and they've got Roy Halladay going up against Mark Hendrickson, whose most famous sports moment was being on this poster.

Mets @ Phillies, 7:05PM

Orioles @ Blue Jays, 7:07PM

Yogi Berra For Miller Lite - 1987

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You know we love our old beer commercials around here. Classic TV Friday pretty much lives for them and this week we got a real humdinger. It's the lovable Yogi Berra dropping his homespun wisdom all over this 30 second spot.

On a partially related note, I was listening to an old Berra interview on this awesome 2 CD set I just got of NPR's best baseball stories (pick one up if you can find it) and he talks about how he'd try to distract guys coming up to the plate by chatting it up with them. He'd always ask noted fisherman Ted Williams if he'd caught any big ones lately to which Williams would invariably respond "You dumb dago, I'm up here to hit not talking about fishing." I need to find some good Ted Williams stuff for next week. Anyway, please to enjoy Yogi. I know I do.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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newstretcher.JPGSo I'm a carpenter now when I'm not blogging for you nice folks. Lifting giant set pieces over my head, using table saws, bandsaws, hammers, nail guns etc. Yesterday was my fourth day and had miraculously avoided any injuries. Then I got sent to pick up some stuff at Home Depot... AND SLICED OPEN MY HAND ON A PIECE OF PLYWOOD. There was blood all over Home Depot. Only I could work for a week in a wood shop and sustain my only injury at the store. I'm such a creampuff.

  • Koji Uehara,Orioles: Koge got hit in the sternum with a line drive and is listed as day to day. Can we blame this on the Year Of The Abdomen Injury? I know it's higher up, but a thorax is a thorax.

  • Travis Hafner, Indians: Hafner, on the comeback trail after a shoulder injury limited him to 57 games last year, is back on the DL with an ouchie in the same shoulder. Sounds like terrible news right? Apparently Indians manager Eric Wedge is high because he says, "We don't think it's anything serious." Ok, buddy.

  • Jose Valverde, Astros: Here's a gross one for you. Ho-Valve has some hematomas in his leg that need to be drained. If I was in the OR for this one, I'd save the fluid in a Dixie Cup and sell it on Ebay.

  • Brad Lidge, Phillies: Lidge has some pain in his right knee that has kept him sidelined this week. Todd Zolecki says a trip to the DL "is not imminent" which really isn't that comforting. What would you say if I said I hadn't seen Evil Dead 2 yet? You'd think I wanted to right?

  • Nate McLouth, Pirates: Oh, bleak. Not really he's supposed to be back today.

  • Augie Ojeda, Diamondbacks: Raped by a wallaby.

  • BJ Ryan, Blue Jays: Not only is Beej on the deel, he's getting straight shutdown. Who do the Blue Jays think they are with all these pitching injuries, The Angels?

washingtonnatinals.jpgHold on to something secure, I'm about to blow your mind. The Washington Nationals are a bad baseball team. I know! Taking on the first-place St Louis Cardinals in front of 18 000 brave masochists with me watching from home, the Nats miraculously found themselves embroiled in quite a battle. Back and forth they went, a home run by Albert Pujols was matched by discount, in-house brand Ryan Zimmerman until the ninth inning arrived with the game tied at 4. The Nats survived 5 walks and 4 wild pitches from starter Daniel Cabrera, surely an omen of a karmic correction to come.

The top of the ninth inning began with new (old) pitcher Julian Tavarez facing the prodigious Pujols. Handsome Jules Tavarez coaxes a ground ball out of Pujols on the first pitch; bullet dodged. Slugger Ryan Ludwick fouls off a few tough pitches before earning a tough walk. You hate to see relievers issue free passes, but you hope they'll work through it. Unless you're the Nationals, of course. If you're the Nats you understand all manner of shit is due to hit the fan. Here we go, in numerical order of atrocity :

  1. America's Boyfriend Rick Ankiel slashes a ball towards the left field corner. Adam Dunn gives a game effort, chasing the ball a long way only to come just short. At this point I'll note that a game effort from Adam Dunn comes in just behind an average effort from an average outfielder. Ludwick scores, 5-4 Cards
  2. Career minor league Joe Thurston works another walk. Thurston drops his bat and sprints to first base in a most Ecksteinian fashion. More portents of doom! Two on and the wife asks "why the hell did he run to first like that?" Trouble in the Beltway, my dear. You just wait.
  3. Jason LaRue is hit SQUARE IN THE CHEST by the fourth pitch of his at bat. At this point Santana Moss complained to his agent that of the 1044 receiving yards he tallied in 2008, not one pass hit him as squarely between the numbers as Tavarez's pitch to LaRue. Bases Bloated
  4. Rookie Tyler Greene, playing in his first ever big league game, steps in to face Tavarez (just short of 800 career appearances) with the bases loaded in a one run game. Greene chops a weak bouncer down the third base line. ZImmerman charges, realizing his only play his to first if he can barehand the ball. Which he can't. The ball slips off his fingertips - everybody's safe. 6-4 Cardinals, ball still in play.
  5. Everyone but Hustlin' Joe Thurston that is. Seeing the ball get past Zimmerman, Thurston turns at third and chugs for home! Cristian Guzman dashes over from sorta covering third base, grabs the ball in foul territory and heaves a strike to the plate; beating Thurston by a good 6 feet. Jesus Flores, in his haste to make an easy play difficult, muffs the catch allowing Thurston to slide in safely to plate the second run from a ball hit 70 feet. 7-4 Cards, runners on the corners, Acta on suicide watch.
  6. Having seen enough of Tavarez's pock-marked visage, Manny Acta calls Joel Hanrahan from the bullpen. The erstwhile closer's had a rough go this season, sporting a FIP over 7. Good thing Fielding Independent Pitching doesn't count runs cashed by balks, as that is what Hanrahan promptly does. 8-4 Cards, runner on second, fans on the way home.
  7. Rookie Tyler Greene decides to up his fantasy value by stealing third base.
  8. Pinch hitter Brian Barden hits a sac fly to Austin Kearns in right field. 9-4 Cardinals, nobody on, this ship has sailed.

A fly ball mercifully ends the inning but not before the Cardinals manage to sneak in another infield hit for good measure. The damage on both the scoreboard and the psyche of a diminishing fanbase was already long done. 5 runs (3 unearned) turned a close game into a mind-bending laugher in one half inning.

The Nationals suffered their 16th loss of the season in a most spectacular way. There are sure to be many, many more losses this year, likely in more dramatic ways. That is what makes this loss so much more tragic: it somehow seemed inevitable despite being so unusual.

Image courtesy Comcast via D.C. Sports Bog

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we threw the garbage cans through the storefront window:

Rays 13, Red Sox 0: It doesn't get any more lopsided than this, people. 2008 ALCS MVP Matt Garza flirted with a no-hitter for a bit, but the no-hitter was actually married and hiding its wedding ring. 2007 ALCS MVP Josh Beckett flirted with a quality start, but then the third inning happened and everything went to pot. Garza didn't end up allowing a baserunner until Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff infield single in the seventh; Josh Becket ended up allowing many, many baserunners, most of which ended up scoring. Evan Longoria fell a triple shy of the cycle and notched four RBI.

Marlins 8, Cubs 2 (10): Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu hit a 7th inning tater tot and bashed a bases bloated dubble in the 10th, part of a six-run assault that broke an extry-inning tie wide open. But the crux of this game was Cub reliever Carlos Marmol fielded Cameron Maybin's sac bunt attempt and threw it somewhere near Albuquerque as Ross G. Load circled third and scored the tying run. Oh, and the Marlins first run in the tenth was scored on Ryan Theriot's error. Oopsies!

Yankees 7, Angels 4: Melky Cabrera and Ramiro Pena provided the big hits in the bottom of the eighth, while the Angels' mistakes were enough to keep them from winning the game. Chone Figgins and Mike Napoli were both caught stealing while Bobby Abreu's misplay of a Derek Jeter single led to an extra run in the fourth. But hey, with those caught stealings, the Angels only left three runners on base. Strategery!