June 2009 Archives

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Our Million Dollar Arm friends Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are all growed up and finally ready for their second star turn: appearing in real live single-A games in sunny Manatee County, Florida! It's the dream of every young boy in Mumbai, to win a million-dollar television reality show in which they compete in a game they've never heard of just for the chance to compete athletically in front of trailer trash halfway around the world. It's all finally coming true:

Now, after a busy year crowded with TV show appearances, basic baseball instruction, fitness workouts, constant throwing and adjusting to a pro athlete's life in a new country, they are about to take the mound for the Bradenton Pirates of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

"It's going to be fun," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark said Tuesday the two pitchers are likely to see game action this week, although the Bradenton pitchers have been set back by several recent rainouts.

Rinku hinted that this moment was coming in his most recent blog, which has been pretty quiet for the past couple of months while the duo trained, pitched simulated games, made some friends and tried to figure out what all this bizarre talking machinery nonsense is about.

The blog silence will be forgiven if our boys can do well for the GCL Pirates, who will play a split squad doubleheader against the Tigers tomorrow. But really, we're all still waiting to find out what happened to Rinku's dad's truck.

(Courtesy of the WHYG,AVS Twitter feed)

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I still believe

Early end to the day again, kids. Headed out in the thunderstorms and rainclouds to watch my beloved Bombers take on the Beltre-less Mariners. Maybe I'll steal a media pass and go pants Geoff Baker in the press box. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

(Yankee Stadium marquee photo courtesy of Flickr user jdalton)

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At least that's what teammate Kevin Millar thinks. Via the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair, here's Millar:

"In this market, guys are very fortunate when they go through struggles, because it's not magnified by any means," Millar, who is hitting .185 over his last 21 games, told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick earlier this week. "You throw up a 1-for-10 in Philadelphia, New York or Boston, and it's the end of the world.

"I'm not saying any struggle is easy, because Vernon is definitely trying to cure his thing and get out of it. But you're definitely fortunate that you're in another country and you're playing for the Blue Jays and you've got three beat writers instead of 40."

Perhaps Kevin Millar is still not attuned to the power that the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin has to influence and sway public opinion among Toronto sports fans from his stool at the local watering hole his desk. He may be just one of three beat guys covering the Jays, but his sharp-tongued wit can sting the hardiest of athletes while his power rankings have left many a player in tears. Of laughter. At how lame they are.

But I'm still not sure if Millar was attacking Rios and Wells more or the tepid Toronto baseball media. Is he saying that the newspaper industry is failing so much that the columnists lack the time to devote to tearing Vernon Wells to shreds? Or is he saying that the Torontonians (Torontoese? Torontoers?) are too interested in hockey and The Tragically Hip records to pay attention to a fourth-place baseball team?

Maybe in the end, it's a good thing for the struggling Jays duo that Geoff Baker left for Seattle.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He's also reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Previous installments: Episode 1, Episode 2.

We didn't even get three episodes into The Pen and already people are claiming curse. Last week, the Philadelphia Daily News implied the three Phils relievers on the DL could be the result of a curse. I'm not quite sure how going on a reality show could curse a team; maybe reality shows can only be broadcast on television if producers desecrate an Indian burial ground first.

But there's more exciting Phillies bullpen news, and I'll cover this one here since I think there's a 0% chance a show on a network owned by Major League Baseball will: A fan at a Tampa Rays game says J.C. Romero attacked him for making a steroids comment; Romero could face battery charges in St. Petersburg.

It is a minor incident, of course. St. Petersburg police spokesman George Kajtsa: "Remember, this is a simple battery. No weapon was used. There were no injuries to the victim whatsoever, except as he says in the report he was embarrassed because it happened in front of other fans and his family." Perhaps the DA will charge Romero with intentional infliction of embarrassment.

All of this brings us to Episode No. 3 of The Pen, which basically follows the bullpen during the Phillies horrid 1-9 homestand earlier this month, as well as Brad Lidge's rehab assignment in Reading, Pa.

So: Yes, it's another ridiculously boring episode of The Pen. That makes three straight! It's weird: The only people likely to watch this show are Phillies fans and hardcore baseball fans, who probably already know (or at least have a general idea of) how the Phillies are doing this season. Yet the show is full of baseball highlights, which those people would have already seen.

The best parts of the show are the interactions between bullpen members, and the little things you learn about the players. For example, Scott Eyre is apparently an undercover FBI agent, probably going not-so-deep cover on J.C. Romero:

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Or maybe it means Full Blooded Italian. I'd suggest it's best to not leave your FBI hat around when you're an undercover agent, but -- as both Eyre and I can attest -- it's hard to concentrate with ADD. I'm always leaving my towel on the bed and getting yelled at by my girlfriend.

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Gobble gobble! Jeff Francouer's got a lucky pair of skivvies and after seven straight Atlanta wins while wearing them, he's ready to make his man-panties public to inspire the 35-40 Braves team to keep on winning. Of course, the drawers in question are Thanksgiving-themed "turkey underwear".

He's only worn them this season in must-win situations, such as last Monday's rainout makeup game against the Chicago Cubs, after the Braves lost back-to-back games at Boston. They beat the Cubs.

He wore them again Sunday for a home-series finale against the Red Sox, after the Braves lost the first two in the series. With rookie Tommy Hanson (flu symptoms) questionable entering Sunday's game, and Yunel Escobar and Nate McLouth out of the lineup, Francoeur pulled out the stops.

"I wore the turkey underwear," he announced before Sunday's game. Hanson then proceded to pitch six scoreless innings Sunday and the Braves beat the Red Sox, 2-1.

So many questions! Are they boxers? Are they briefs?

Francoeur said he had not worn the turkey briefs for back-to-back games all season, but will Tuesday (the Braves were off Monday, and he planned to ask his wife, Catie, to wash the underwear).

Hold on, Frenchy! Baseball's superstitious ways dictate that you are NEVER supposed to wash a lucky garment! Keep those skidmarks intact and wear the tarnished turkey trunks with pride.

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...despite the fact that I messed up the theme song intro once again. Oh well. Thanks to our pal Will Leitch for showing up and chit-chatting about Midwestern baseball intrigue and Woody Allen movies. Maybe next time we have Will as a guest, we'll talk about stuff he's interested in. Please listen now or face the consequences.

The song featured at the end of the podcast was a live performance of Alejandro Escovedo's "Always a Friend", which you can find at the Internet Archive. I'd link you directly to the specific concert but I forgot where I downloaded it from. Typical.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when nobody got hurt:

Brewers 10, Mets 6: Casey McGehee giveth, Casey McGehee taketh away. Just an inning after making a Luis Castillo-esque oopsie and dropping a pop-up that led to two runs, the Brewers third baseman collected his first career tetra tot. McGehee then retreated to the dugout for some high fives and fist bumps, yelled expletives into his helmet, and then appeared briefly for his Miller Park curtain call. Speaking of Castillo, Luis left five runners on base despite getting double-switched out of the game in the fourth.

Giants 10, Cardinals 0: Mark DeRosa was moved up to second in the lineup and went hitless again but the new Card shouldn't feel too bad. The entire St. Louis team flailed and flopped against Tim Lincecum tonight, with only Bert Pujols and Rick Ankiel reaching base. With eight strikeouts in a speedy 2 hour 6 minute game, that makes Timmy's third career shutout and his second in the last two weeks. At this rate, they'll be engraving his Cy Young Award sometime mid-August.

Cubs 3, Pirates 1: Rich Harden helped the Cubs continue their crushing domination against the Pirates at PNC Park while Milton Bradley smacked an RBI double as part of his "rehab the batting average, win back the fans" campaign. Harden collected a win for the first time since mid-May; he struck out nine Pirates while walking just one in seven innings. Zach Duke was the hard luck loser, also known as the dude who pitches a perfectly good game but earns no win because the batter in the three hole goes 0-for-4 with six men left on base.

Royals 4, Twins 2: Luke Hochevar outdueled Nick "Gasm" Blackburn with seven tidy scoreless innings but the most notable part of the game occurred when Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire desperately attempted to get tossed from the game while arguing what he thought should be a foul ball. Home plate ump Larry Vanover took the ribbing from Gardy with such a lack of interest that it almost seemed there would be no ejection. I can only imagine Gardy yelling out the most polite things and just begging to get sent off so he could 'fire up' his team; Vanover seemed to just want to get out of Kauffman Stadium fast enough to make it home in time for the 11:30 rerun of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Tonight's Questions

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Catch you all on the radio later tonight at 10PM EDT. Same WoW channel.

(Nationals Park panorama courtesy of Flickr user Laura Padgett)

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As if the rumor-mongering and chest-puffing from the likes of Tom Verducci and Jon Heyman weren't enough to drag the new MLB Tonight show into (gasp) Baseball Tonight territory, viewers of the nightly offering from the fledgling MLB Network will now be forced to swallow the frequent appearances of the cheery FOX elf mascot himself, Ken Rosenthal.

Via Maury Brown's informative Biz of Baseball blog:

MLB Network today announced that Ken Rosenthal has joined its roster of on-air talent. Rosenthal will join the cast of MLB Tonight beginning Tuesday, June 30 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Rosenthal, who will continue his reporting for FoxSports.com and MLB on Fox, joins Sports Illustrated senior writers Tom Verducci and Jon Heyman as Baseball Insiders on the MLB Network team.

"Ken brings a wealth of on-air reporting experience and insight into the game and we're excited to welcome him to MLB Network," said Tony Petitti, president and CEO of MLB Network. "As we grow as a network, it's important that we continue to bring fans the most up-to-date information from the best resources in the business."

We've had nothing but good things to say about the MLB Network so far, mostly because the nightly shows focus on the games and the commentators don't drone on endlessly about so-called 'controversial' topics like steroids or human cloning. But if the Rosenthal-ing of televised baseball continues, we may have answered this unfortunate question.

Okay, it's not exactly a streaker persay, but this portly gentleman who meandered onto the grass at Turner Field got his fifteen minutes of fame thanks to his slovenly frame:


And while we're on the topic, what's up with the MLB-enforced ban on TV networks focusing their camera lenses on these joyful criminals engaging in the friendliest of crimes? Their Joe-Buckian disgust and refusal will not dissuade fans from running onto the field, especially when we've got FlipCam-armed citizens to report on the hilarity via the YouTubes and content-starved bloggers transmitting them through the webosphere.

(via Deadspin and Red Sox Monster)

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Pity Darren Dreifort. No, really, if you have any spare pity, please seal it up in an envelope and send it out to the Dreifort Estate in Pacific Palisades, care of Darren Dreifort's surgery-riddled body:

A hip procedure last Wednesday in Beverly Hills was his 22nd surgery -- his 20th since he left Wichita State after being the second player taken in the 1993 amateur draft behind only a slugging high school shortstop from Miami named Alex Rodriguez.

A dark cloud has followed Dreifort, 37, into retirement. He has endured eight surgeries since his last game Aug. 16, 2004, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury at a time when he already was scheduled for three other postseason operations.

I guess that 5-year, $55 million contract he got from the Dodgers in 2001 (for which he pitched just 200 innings) can buy Darren a heckuva health insurance plan. Does he get a lollipop from the doctor after each visit too? Score! But I guess it's not all scalpels and sutures for the former pitcher, as Dreifort is due to be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame for his outstanding career at Wichita State that included the 1993 NCAA Player of the Year award and three College World Series appearances.

If Dreifort can hobble his way to Lubbock, TX for the induction ceremony, he'll join fellow inductees Joe Carter and Rafael Palmeiro. Wait, Palmeiro? Really? I guess there's no steroid taint for that particular hall of fame.

(we owe a 2-liter bottle of Coca Cola Classic to the BBTF Newsblog)

That's why Manny Ramirez' big minor league stint at Single-A Inland Empire was such huge news in Lake Elsinore, part of the burgeoning Temecula Valley out in Cali. If you lived in that awesome part of California that didn't border the Pacific Ocean, you'd get excited too about a rehabbing all star despite his nasty steroid smear. To wit, here's the video coverage of Manny's big first-pitch tater tot this weekend:


Lots of bobbleheads have implied that Manny somehow doesn't deserve to enjoy a minor league rehab stint before his 50-game suspension expires. It's as if these folks are lumping the minor leagues and the major leagues into one bucket, as if the importance of each is equal.

It's not. The owners and players both realize how valuable it is to have their big league players back in playing shape as soon as possible following the suspension. A fifty-game forced vacation is a fifty-game forced vacation for both the player and his team; there's no reason to punish everyone any longer just because one dude was dumb enough to dip into the wrong pile of pills. To imply that a team should suffer longer than the prescribed 50 games just to get the jerk back into playing condition is ridiculous. Allowing a player to rehab in the minors won't make the team any more or less 'vigilant' to control illicit drug use.

Besides, folks in Rancho Cucamonga need entertainment, too.

Video via Diamond Leung's outstanding Tumblr.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when she dropped her makeup and I found the bar:

Giants 7, Brewers 0: Ryan Sadowski's big league debut couldn't have gone any better even if it hadn't come on the same day he learned he was selected by President Obama to be the new ambassador to the People's Republic of Easter Island. Okay, that last part is a lie but he really did have himself a heckuva debut, Brownie. Sadowski pitched six scoreless innings, struck out seven Brewers, collected a hit, and would have gone further in the game had he not been bruised by a Ryan Braun liner. A line drive, not an old Catskills joke.

Phillies 5, Blue Jays 4: Hey, remember Brad Lidge? He's back, and driving Phillies fans' blood pressure through the roof again. Fella was called on to save his first game since his stint on the DL and promptly put the first two runners on base with a meager one-run lead. No matter, the Blue Jays played themselves out of the game with an Aaron Hill foul out, a pickoff, and the much-expected Vernon Wells groundout to end the game. HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, BLUE JAYS FANATICS?

Rays 5, Marlins 2: So much for the Marlins hot streak. The Fredi Gonzalez Express derailed on its way to St. Pete and the team took three casualties in the sweep. By that statement I mean to say that the Marlins got swept behind the hot run differential action of the Rays, not that anyone actually died in the figurative train wreck. Except 93-year-old Hattie McPloid, the Marlins #1 fan in Opa-Locka, F-L-A, whose lifeless body slumped over on her La-Z-Boy when Jorge Cantu struck out in the first with two men on. RIP HATTIE.

Mariners 4, Dodgers 2: If the Dodgerdogs are so good, then why did they just lose four of six to the ChiSox and the Marinerds? No matter, let us not bury the dead but rather praise the victors. Adrian Beltre, who is set to have shoulder surgery that will keep him restin' and rehabbin' for a coupla months, went out on top by singling home a run in the third inning. Good luck to you, soon-to-be Creampuff. In other news, David Aardsma saved his 15th game in 16 opportunities which means that he is in danger of having more relevance than merely being the first player alphabetically in MLB history.

Yankees 4, Mets 2: I realize that Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez has a control problem, but I didn't realize it was a growing problem. With his team down by one and the bases loaded, K-Rod managed to walk a 57-year-old relief pitcher making just his third career plate appearance to put his team in a deeper hole. Ye gods. Mariano Rivera's first career RBI was the cherry on top of the sundae that was his 500th career save and 110th career save of four outs or more.

Weekend Questions

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Another week enters the digital archives, folks. This upcoming weekend brings us the finale (finally) of interleague matchups, so you American League squads better make hay while the sun's still shining and keep racking up those wins over your weaker sisters. Walkoff Walk will go mostly quiet this weekend both in tribute to Michael Jackson and also because our poutine-eating brother Drew is kinda busy.

Be back here Monday. Same WoW channel.

the.winning.team.poster.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: The 1952 biopic The Winning Team, starring Ronald Reagan, Doris Day and Frank Lovejoy, written by Ted Sherdeman and Seeleg Lester & Merwin Gerard, directed by Lewis Seiler. These reviews usually contain spoilers.

History hasn't been kind to Ronald Reagan. Not as a president, mind you, but as an actor. He's not exactly looked upon by film buffs as a good actor; things like that happen when one of your most famous films is one where you raise a chimp in an attempt to solve the "nature versus nurture" debate.

So who better than a sub-par actor to star in The Winning Team, a 1952 biography of Grover Cleveland Alexander, one of the greatest Phillies pitchers of all time. The movie isn't perfectly true to life, but does follow the basic storyline of Alexander's life up to 1926. It, unfortunately, ends before this happens:

Roy H. Masonnof of St. Paul filed a $25,000 lawsuit against him in January 1930, charging him with being a "love pirate."

But no matter; the end of Alexander's life was troubled and probably not really fit for a Hollywood movie in 1952. The Winning Team, incidentally, gets my thumbs-up simply for making up a Hall of Fame plaque for Reagan as Alexander.

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Cute, eh?

The Winning Team loosely follows the life of Grover Cleveland Alexander -- aka Old Pete, Alex the Great, etc. -- from his days as a youngster working on a farm to his triumphant victory in the 1926 World Series. As we see early in the film, Alex was destined to be a ballplayer. When he worked for the phone company, he was already wearing one of those 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates painters' caps.

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Alex works for the phone company, but keeps blowing off work (and other commitments, including ones with his fiance) in order to play baseball, his true passion. He ends up pitching against a minor league club -- filling in for a man who's injured because he was kicked by a horse (really) -- tossing a complete game shutout against the professionals in a 1-0 victory. This, of course, causes the manager of the professional Galesburg club to take off his hat and swing at it with a bat.

Michael Jackson and baseball go together about as well as Rob Dibble and R&B music, but that doesn't mean the late King of Pop didn't have a connection to the national pastime. Therefore and hencewith, today's Classic TV bit is MJ performing "Billie Jean" on the opening night of his Victory Tour at Dodger Stadium back in December of 1984 in front of SCREAMING fans with huge hair.


Look! Andy Warhol! Kermit the Frog! Yoko Ono! Freakin' WEBSTER! Pedro Guerrero snorting lines backstage! Burt Hooton dancing with Bubbles the Chimp! It's a veritable who's who of the L.A. scene in the mid-1980s.

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It's a veritable M*A*S*H unit out there, people! Especially in the nurses' office at CitiField. You Mets are snake-bitten. Let's get right to it.

  • Jeff Bennett, Braves: After giving up a go-ahead, two-run single to A-Rod on Wednesday night, Bennett punched a door in the hallway just outside the dugout and broke the fifth metacarpal on his hand. Pretty normal for a caveman athlete, right? BUT THEN BENNETT PUSHED THE BONE BACK IN PLACE AND CAME OUT TO PITCH THE NEXT INNING. I may have a higher IQ than Bennett but I sit here in awe of the utter manliness of someone strong enough and dumb enough to do something like that. Fifteen day deel.

  • Adam Dunn, Nationals: Any time a baseball slugger is forced to sit out because of a wrist injury, I think about how much power goes through the wrists during a swing. I have enough trouble getting my girlish wrists to type up a liveglog, so I feel the big guy's pain. So does Joe Beimel.

  • Evan Longoria, Rays: Sure, he may lead the balloting for third base in the All Star Game voting results, but the little fella needs to be handled with kid gloves when his hamstring starts to burn a bit. His right hammy kept him out of the lineup last night but he should be good to go for the Rays huge intrastate weekend series vs Los Marlinos.

  • Josh Outman, Athletics: Dude's got a sprained left elbow, similar to an injury he had back in high school. The rookie pitcher is cruising with a 3-1 record and a tidy 3.48 ERA but methinks this smells of Dr. James Andrews territory. The A's have used the disabled list about as frequently as Jason Giambi uses the drive-thru board at Arby's.

  • Matt Lindstrom, Marlins: Another WBC casualty?!? Another sprained elbow? Another injury for Florida's closer, who missed part of spring training with an ouchie rotator cuff? Lindstrom has converted 14 of 16 save opportunities but that 6.52 ERA is as glaring as his 100 MPH fastball. Or his collection of 1960s Swedish art movies on 16mm film. Oh Ingmar Bergman, you card.

  • Brian Giles, Padres: Baseball's least valuable player is actually more valuable to his team while on the deel. Ol' Frankie Tansalot will miss at least a coupla weeks with a knee contusion. Let me get over my fear of heights and inch out forward on this wobbly tree limb: Brian Giles career is D-U-N done.

  • David Bush, Brewers: David and Bush missed his first start in his professional career yesterday and he'll probably miss his second and third and fourth and fifth. Bush suffered a micro-tear in his triceps and won't come back until after the All Star break. With Manny Parra already demoted to the minors, the Brewers rotation is beginning to look a bit Ueckeresque.

  • Carlos Beltran, Mets: Carlos will seek a second opinion on his balky knee since he trusts the Mets medical staff about as much as the state of South Cackalacky trusts its governor. RELEVANT TOPICAL HUMOR ALERT.

  • Ervin Santana, Angels: This guy's been hurt more this year than a hyper-emotional middle schooler with an acne problem. Dude's got tightness in his forearm, which can't be good for a pitcher but can be loosened up with some good ol' fashioned yo-yo action.

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox: I'd blame the WBC for this one, too, but I'd rather stick it to a combination of overuse during his Japanese career and Dice-K's obsession with Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii. That shit's addictive!

  • Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks: Scott Feldman did us all a great disservice, breaking Eric Byrnes' hand with a pitch and sending him to the DL for 4-to-8 weeks; with so much free time on his hands, Byrnes will be sure to pop up during nationally televised baseball games to irk us.
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Here's what happened in baseball last night when you crossed your heart you quit:

Reds 7, Blue Jays 5: You can do it, Votto! Joey V. bashed a tater tot as one of his four hits and three ribs in his best game ever in his home country. Rookie Blue Jay Brett Cecil was victimized to the tune of nine hits and five runs in just over three innings of work, but Shawn Camp took the L when he gave up Votto's tiebreaking tot.

Pirates 3, Indians 2: You know Cleveland's bullpen is bad, really really bad. With the game knotted at two in the ninth, reliever Matt Herges gave up singles to Jack Wilson and Eric Hinske before surrendering the walkoff hit to stud Andrew McCutchen. That wasted a perfectly good seven inning effort by starter Cliff Lee. Young Andrew extended his hitting streak to 13 with his 2-for-4, two RBI night.

Marlins 11, Orioles 3: Hanley Ramirez collected his third king dong of the year, tying the team record originally set by Bobby Bonilla and tied by Jeff Conine and Cody Ross. Other notable players with three grand slams on the year: Albert Pujols and that guy you see going into Denny's every Tuesday morning. O's starter Rich Hill got knocked around as part of the rich tradition of O's starters getting knocked around.

Rays 10, Phillies 4: That four spot the Phillies dropped in the top of the first didn't really hold up. Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine went four scoreless innings after that fateful first and the Rays hitters smacked the Phils pitching crew around for 10 runs with 8 big fat extra base hits. And hey, over 20,000 Tampa Bayfolk and St. Petersburgians decided that this game was worth their while.

Tonight's Questions

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Many gracious thanks to Sooze for her excellent liveglog today. It was a great Thursday thanks to you readers and commenters. Keep contributing the comments, folks. It's what keeps Walkoff Walk scratchin' and survivin'.

Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Thursday Liveglog With Sooze Yay

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It's that time again. You know, the time where I drink myself under the computer desk right before the 8th inning. To stop that from happening, I've positioned myself on my bed infront of the tv. No passing out, I promise. I'm way too pumped for this game.

Some guy named Mike Burns (put those dimples away this instant mister) is going to pitch from a major league mound for the first time in his life today because Dave Bush hurt himself. Since we're at Miller Park today (yay outdoor baseballs) we get to see Scott Baker take cuts, National League style. Good luck buddies!

Denard Span is back after his DL stint, but sadly, there will be no Nick Punto head-first dives into first base after a poorly executed bunt today. He's back in the Cities getting an x-ray. T-minus like 20 minutes til game time!
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • OMDQ goes in search of Wade Boggs at a Hannaford Supermarket in Nashua and ends up meeting the guy in the strangest of circumstances. No, not in the frozen pizza section. Bus Leagues Baseball.

  • Sheryl Crow reminisces about meeting Willie McGee when she was a college student back in nineteen-dickety-five. This was before the advent of television, of course, and Sheryl had never met an African-American before. I'm implying that they're both old, do you get it? Riverfront Times.

  • Tommy Craggs gives Tom Verducci the business and dregs up all of Verducci's old proclamations about the new, natural face of steroid-free baseball. Less than two years ago, it was Alex Rodriguez. That's some great reportin' there, boys. Deadspin.

  • Kara Kovalchik keeps score of the good stuff that goes down behind the scenes at the ballpark. Did you know a good beer vendor can make up to $200 a game by helping jamooks get drunk? Thanks, beer guy! mental floss.

  • Wezen-ball unearths a document from 1980 in which Commissioner Bowie Kuhn advocates for a "wild card DH". The concept is so outré I can't even begin to explain it to you; I'm glad the idea never happened. Tethering fans to their seats with wristbands, that's a concept I can get behind. wezen-ball.com.

  • Babbo pastry chef Gina DePalma brings us everything you've always wanted to know about speck but were afraid to ask. Serious Eats.
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  • Cubs at Tigers, 1:05PM EDT: It's so cold in the D. For the Cubs, that is. They stink on the road. The Teegers look for the sweep today behind a struggggggling Andres Galarraga. A freshly-shorn Magglio Ordonez looks to build on the two hits he had yesterday and force Leyland to play him every day.

  • Cardinals at Mets, 1:10PM EDT: Johan Santana versus Chris Carpenter is the matchup of the day, especially if you enjoy quality starts, Venezuelans and folks who went to high school with my brother-in-law. In Santana's only career start against the Cards last year, Albert Pujols smacked a solo tot but that was the only run allowed in a Johan complete game victory.

  • Twins at Brewers, 2:05PM EDT: This is the game that Sooze will glog for you. It is a rubber game and it is the Brewers pitcher Mike Burns' first career start. If you are stout of heart and strong of stomach, this game's for you. Will you accept the glog challenge that Sooze is laying down?

  • Royals at Astros, 2:05PM EDT: Brian Bannister and daytime games go together like freshly-cut basil and ripe tangy tomatoes. But don't go drizzling 15-year-old balsamic vinegar on Brian Bannister, he doesn't need the sweet, syrupy goodness to help him defeat the weak-hitting Astros. Banny's 15-5 during the day in his career and only 13-25 at night, and a win today will seal the sweep for KC. Brian Moehler still has a job, apparently.

  • Dodgers at White Sox, 2:05PM EDT: Ohmigod you guys, Manny Ramirez is coming back soon and what will the Dodgers do with Juan Pierre?!??????? Will they trade him to your favorite team??????! Doubtful! Just because Team A has a surplus of Position B doesn't mean they'll unload someone to Team C in exchange for Prospect D. Chad Billingsley goes for win #10 today and will insert Tab E into slot F if he wants to finish building his papercraft cow.

  • Padres at Mariners, 4:40PM EDT: I'm sure on the West Coast this is considered an afternoon game, but with our marked East Coast bias, this exists only in the evening spacetime continuum. And the evening time is for happy hour and/or doing laundry. I will ignore this game until I start my load of delicates.
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Tomorrow, Chicago area beat writers will take a break from giddily transcribing wacky Ozzie Guillen quotes and consuming smoked pork products to sit down and finally figure out what to do with all these roided up baseball superstars. Because, you see, baseball writers hold the key to the hall of fame and if baseball players want to be forever memorialized in Cooperstown, they had better kowtow to the writers every desire.

The Chicago chapter of the BBWAA is actually having a meeting to consider the creation of guidelines that will change the entrance requirements for the hall of fame. Sit back and think about this for a second: a small subset of the voting populace might decide to rewrite the enshrinement rules to reflect their own views of what a 'clean' baseball player is. Egos gone wild, indeed:

It's that kind of uncertainty that prompted Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander to ask the Chicago chapter if it could discuss the issue during this weekend's Cubs-White Sox series at U.S. Cellular Field.

"The guidelines used to be so simple: stats, longevity and star power. It's all been trumped by performance-enhancing drug use and drug use suspicion," Telander said Tuesday. "Part of me says it's not fair we have to make these determinations, but we do."

No, you don't. No, you don't. No, for the love of all that is holy, you DON'T! Just vote in players for being great and being popular and making baseball more awesome. Stop thinking that performance-enhancing drugs are somehow conceptually different than the amphetamines that your childhood heroes used to get them through the madcap 1960s. Stop thinking that you need to enforce a false veil of morality to protect the freaking children. And please, stop thinking that every player who used steroids is as despicable as Jose Canseco!

(Chicago BBWAA president Paul) Sullivan said he is not in favor of guidelines personally, fearing it would raise too many other questions. Cocaine was a problem in the 1980s, would the guidelines extend to those players? Dave Parker, one of the players implicated in the Pittsburgh drug trials, is currently on the Hall of Fame ballot. He received 81 votes this year.

But the idea is worth discussing, Sullivan said.

"It's possible we can't come to any decision. That's quite possible," Telander said. "But I'd sure like to try."

I'm bashing my head against the wall right now, just wishing I could ignore all this noise and wishing that baseball writers would finally get demoted to voting for the hall of sandwiches and that an independent pentavirate of George Will, Colin Powell, Fay Vincent, Joe Posnanski, and Darryl Strawberry could select the HOF members.

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In a rare episode of a baseball player being upfront, honest, and generally showing a great deal of candor, Cincinnati Red first baseman Joey Votto spoke out regarding his brief stay on the disabled list with an apparent stress disorder. It turns out that Votto had not fully reconciled with the fact that his father had passed away last August and it took a few days away from organized baseball with an ear infection to come to grips with it.

Bottom line, Joey was severely depressed and there was no amount of sporting life that could fix his sadness. Votto was taken out of a few games because of his respiratory infection but the doctors thought that there was something else deeper going on.

Via John Fay's Reds blog, here is Joey Votto in his own Canadian words with American spellings:

"I spoke to some doctors. They came to the conclusion I was dealing with obviously being depressed and anxiety and panic attacks. They were overwhelming to the point where I had to go to the hospital on two separate occasions. Once in San Diego and once - nobody had been told about - but I went to the hospital once in Cincinnati when the team was on the road.

"It was a very, very scary and crazy night. I had to call 911 at 3 or 4 in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever dealt with in my life. I went to the hospital that night.

"The days I was taken off the field were little, miniature versions of what I was dealing with by myself. Ever since I've been on the DL and even the little bit before the DL, I've been really struggling with this in my private life. I'd go on the field and try to do my best and play well. I had my spurts when I'd play well. But going out on the field . . . I couldn't do it anymore because I was so overwhelmed physically by the stuff I was dealing with off the field.

"It finally seeped its way into the game. I just had to put an end to it. I really couldn't be out there. It's difficult to explain what I was going through. I couldn't do it. I physically couldn't do my job. That's what I've gone through.

We have fun with players' emotions from time to time on Walkoff Walk and sometimes we needle a vulnerable guy for the sake of a laugh. But we defend it by saying, "Hey, it's part of being a public figure, deal with it." I make no apologies for the things we've implied about, say, Scott Rolen because really, the source of his problem was just being a hard-nosed ballplayer who didn't shy away from getting hurt. Also, he reads slowly.

Votto's different. Votto had an honest-to-goodness freakout that required medical attention. Votto's also different because he put all his cards on the table, face up, for everyone to see. He gave folks like me a chance to dig his grave, but for the most part, nobody did. Except the gossipy hens who can't stop clucking and implying that Votto is stressed out and therefore must be gay. That's got nothing to do with nothing.

I appreciate Votto's candor especially because revealing his problems to the public was not absolutely necessary. We baseball fans could have accepted his return at face value without the explanations, so maybe his public revelations served a therapeutic purpose as well. It doesn't work this way for every player in every situation. The entire world would be better off having Alex Rodriguez' life kept entirely private, if only so we could get more Jon & Kate coverage in the tabloids. While I salute Votto for opening up, I will not criticize any player who keeps his lips sealed on personal issues.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I asked myself is all hope lost:

Mets 11, Cardinals 0: Fernando Nieve and Nick Evans do not, in fact, make very much scratch. So while the better part of the Mets payroll is on the disabled list and/or noodling around in the minors, it's pitchers like Nieve and hitters like Evans doing the dirty work. Nieve went six shutout innings while Evans, whoever it is, clanged a two-run happy jack in the Mets rout. Brad Thompson does not get a frosty beverage for his poor outing.

Pirates 10, Indians 6: I don't care what Friend of WoW Jonah Keri tells you about Pavano and his BABIP, it's never a good idea to tempt the fantasy baseball gods with that dago. Fella got roughed up, allowing eleven hits to the Pirates and exiting in the fourth inning. Bucs rook Andrew McCutchen extended his hitting streak to twelve; kid has only had two hitless games since being called up June 4th.

Brewers 4, Twins 3: No Nickgasm last night, folks, as a wacky eighth inning play ruined Nick Blackburn's chances at his seventh win. With J.J. Hardy on first and two down, Blackburn gave up a long double to Jason Kendall, who advanced to third on a Brendan Harris throwing error and then scored the go-ahead run when Blackburn backed up Harris' oopsie with a throwing error of his own. Sloppy Nickgasms are fun for nobody.

Rays 7, Phillies 1: Nevermind those good feelings on the road Phillies fans. Not only did Cholly Manuel's team fail to bring the crowds again (750 fewer fans than the previous night) they failed to score anything but a Jayson Werth solo tater tot off Muppet starter Matt Garza. Pat Burrell hit a homer of his own for the first time since April, which is also the last time he hooked up with a chubby stripper named April.

Tonight's Questions

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That'll close the doors on another brisk Walkoff Walk day. Many thanks to Dan McQuade for another tip-top job with Cinema Varitek. Tonight on national TV, Yanks-Braves on ESPN2. Tomorrow, a glog with Sooze. Same WoW channel.

(Barackblehead picture courtesy of Flickr user 917press)

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Good news, everyone! The drought of afternoon baseball on Wednesday afternoons is just about ready to end. With schools letting out for summer vacay, the ad wizards in the MLB scheduling department wised up and decided to bring day games back to hump day, thus filling baseball parks across this great land with thousands of screaming sweaty schoolchildren.

So starting next week, there will be at least one baseball game each afternoon before 5PM on every single Wednesday until September 30th, save for the Wednesday after the All Star Game (OBAMA!) break. Next week alone will bring seven contests to choose from, a veritable garden of gilded leather delights.

That means that tomorrow's Thursday Afternoon Liveglog Club (at 2PM EDT, Twins/Brewers as presented by lovely lady Sooze) just might be the final time this year you'll get a glog not in its normal Wednesday timeslot. Enjoy it.

It's quite a relief we're getting the Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club back together. Our liveglog blazers were beginning to get a bit musty in storage.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He's also reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Previous installment: Episode 1.

Congratulations, ADD-riddled baseball fans! The Pen, which debuted with an hour-long episode last week, was shortened to a half-hour for its second episode. You can save your 6-OXO Extreme on Sunday nights now. The second episode also apparently included a separated at birth segment.

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Minor League Baseball teams need to be creative with their promotions, people. The Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island are no exception; last night, they transformed their franchise into the "Baracklyn Cyclones" to cash in on all the Obama fervor washing across the country. They didn't hold back one bit, giving out Obama bobbleheads, inviting the Obama Girl to throw out the first pitch, giving away free tickets to anyone named Barack or any plumber named Joe, and even handing out free Band-Aids to fans as part of a "universal health care" goof.

Oh, those cards in Minor League Baseball! So clever. So funny. No wonder Rick Chandler loved them so.

But not everyone was happy with the Baracklyn takeover in Keyspan Park. Via The Cajun Boy over at Gawker comes this email from a tipster who claims inside knowledge of the Brooklyn Cyclones team:

my husband tells me that, in response to the "gift" at tonight's brooklyn cyclones game, which was some sort of obama bobblehead doll with the moniker "baracklyn cyclones," over 200 angry, anti-obama season ticket holders canceled their subscriptions.

After attending a game in Coney Island last year, I'd be surprised to know there were that many season ticketholders in total, let alone those dumb enough to abandon a team because of a promotion that celebrated an otherwise popular President. This reminds me of the time I canceled my subscription to Highlights magazine when they printed that one "Goofus & Gallant" cartoon where Goofus endorsed aborting mixed-race babies.

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One of my favorite all time memories of baseball's annual All Star Game was the 1989 classic. That's the one where former President Ronald Reagan sat in the television booth with legendary announcer Vin Scully during the first inning to witness Bo Jackson's mammoth leadoff tater tot. If the clip was on YouTube, I'd embed it here but the ad wizards at MLB decided it would be smarter to keep video clips tightly locked up in a vault to prevent any new fans from enjoying them.

But I digress. This year's All Star Game will have its own star presidential power as the big kahuna himself, President Obama, is set to toss out the ceremonial first pitch in St. Louis. The lifelong ChiSox fan will become the first sitting (standing?) president to do the All Star duty since Gerald Ford:

After months of speculating which team would be the first to host President Obama for a first pitch, MLB and the White House announced that his first toss as sitting president will be thrown down the middle of all 30 teams at next month's All-Star Game in St. Louis -- if world activities allow him to, of course.

That's right, all you world powers, good and evil alike. You better be on your best behavior during the MLB All Star Game break or else Obama is going to have to skip out on the festivities to get presidential on your collective ass. You're on notice, North Korea. You too, Mother Nature. Don't be sending any silly hurricanes into the Gulf of Mexico and don't let any wildfires burn up California.

Otherwise, we'll be stuck with Biden.

Tonight's Questions

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C'est la vie, people. Enjoy your night and please check out some good ol' fashioned televised baseball. The season's not as long as you want it to be. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

(Johnny Evers picture courtesy of Flickr user John McNab)

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Hey everybody, Khalil Greene is back! With nearly all his marbles! And it's good to know that San Diego still cares about the fella a year since he left the Padres. Chris Jenkins of the Union-Tribune penned a nice love letter to the kid who set the Padre single season record for most homers by a shortstop a couple years back. What, you mean Ricky Gutierrez never hit 35 homers in a season?

Greene, who was traded over the winter to the Cardinals, missed 19 games while on the disabled list with social anxiety disorder. He returned from a minor league rehab assignment over the weekend to hit a home run in three straight starts while driving in five runs.

Moreover, the former Padres shortstop was playing third base seamlessly and flawlessly. There may have been a bit of "back-to-the-womb" psychology involved, since Greene started as a third baseman at Clemson, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the NCAA's top player.

"Back-to-the-womb"? Ew, I don't need that kind of imagery in my head, Chris Jenkins. Gross, dude. At least Khalil isn't self-flaggelating anymore. That's just creepy.

In other crazy baseball player news, Joey Votto is set to return to the Reds squadron after a stress-related stint on the DL just in time for their big trip up north to Canada. That's where he's from! But the USA still has their fingerprints all over him.

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We're just about forty percent done with the season so the teams in contention have mostly separated themselves from those out of contention. In an ideal world, the best players in baseball would still be playing their hearts out come September and October, so let me do my best to shift the rosters around a bit. Here's a list of four veteran players who deserve an upgrade; be forewarned that it's not an official prognostication because I am not taking contractual issues or desire to actually trade these folks into account. I'm merely playing God.

  • Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks: The middle infielder wears a lot of hats and not just because Arizona has changed their team colors twelve times in the past four years. Fella can play second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, peanut vendor, what have you. He's putting up very good numbers (.352 OBP, 21 XBH) for an otherwise poor-hitting D-Back team and, altho he wants to stay in Phoenix' hot hot heat and help the team contend, he's in the final year of his contract. He'd make a nice utility player for the Brewers, struggling to fill holes since Rickie Weeks went down for the year.

  • Matt Holliday, Athletics: Honestly, wouldn't you want to see what this kid can do in a normal situation in a neutral ballpark? Coors Field skewed his numbers positively for years while McAfee Coliseum and the poor A's lineup reversed the trend and skewed them back into the basement. He's not swinging and missing as much as his strikeout percentage has dropped 11% since last season but his line drive percentage is way down, and hence his power has diminished. Get this kid in, say, the Rogers Centre or Angel Stadium and you've got yourself an interesting experiment and a way for teams to evaluate this future free agent in a neutral park.

  • Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: His outstanding home run numbers have regressed a bit in the past two weeks but that's what you get when you throw a game in the hot hot Arlington heat against the hot hot Rangers hitters. Of course, Wandy's actually had great home numbers over the past few years with an ERA under 3.00 in Minute Maid Park and an ERA over 5.00 away from Houston. Still, this fly ball pitcher might fare better in a park that discourages tater tots, like Comerica or Busch.

  • Kerry Wood, Indians: It's just not fun to see Wood blow saves for a last place team. What's he got to lose? You can't get any lower than 'worst team in the AL'. Wood's lost weekend against the Cubbies was fun, but imagine how much more fun it would be to see Wood blowing saves for a contending team with bullpen needs, like the Cardinals or Rangers. Schadenfreude is better when the stakes are higher.

Any other players you want to see pack up their suitcases and move up in the standings?

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At this point, there are very few calamities that could befall the New York Mets that are outrageous enough to cause me to question their veracity. In other words, the Mets can't stop stepping in dogshit. The latest incident involves already-injured shortstop Jose Reyes, a firetruck, and some hot rear-ending action that the Mets tried oh-so-hard to keep under wraps. Seems that Reyes was being driven by team trainer Ray Ramirez to the hospital for a check-up when the emergency vehicle rammed into their car on the RFK Bridge. Nobody was hurt. I'm sure it was a mere fender bender, right?

The Newark Star Ledger's Matt Gelb reports:

The Mets said nothing about the accident until starting pitcher Tim Redding unknowingly spilled the beans after Monday's 6-4 win over St. Louis.

"I got here about 10 after 4 and a lot of things were going on," Redding said. "Apparently a lot of things were going on all over the city. Our shortstop and our trainer, who's been working his butt off to keep us on the field, got into an accident. Carlos was getting an MRI and being placed on the DL. And people were being moved, brought up and sent all over the place. So it was a whirlwind day."

What are the Mets and their clever P.R. team trying to hide? No matter, if you beat writers want to get the inside scoop on the dirt floating around the CitiField clubhouse, just go to Loose Lips McGee, aka Tim Redding.

(via the BBTF Newsblog)

The latest episode of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show is up and ready for your waiting ears, folks. Kris and I ended up having a pretty decent conversation about umpiring despite the fact that we got exactly one caller and he was a total horse's patoot. Also, I hope we never have to do another show without our pal Drew. He's the glue that holds the show together. Please to enjoy.

The song you'll enjoy at the end is "Plastination" by my pal John's band The Tokeleys.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when the preacher looked so baffled:

Braves 2, Cubs 0: Hey, it's not like Chicago didn't have their chances. The Cubbies collected ten hits and three walks yet failed to push a runner across home plate. Javy Vazquez was very good but not great but his relief crew picked up the slack, combining on the shutout. Andres Blanco went 2-for-4 for the Cubs but still stranded four runners.

Mets 6, Cardinals 4: Who needs Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado or Jose Reyes when you've got...uh...Daniel Murphy and Omir Santos? Yes, half the Mets team is hurt but manager Jerry Tranuel is said to be looking out for "the spirit of the team". I guess he means all the dead Mets like Bob Apodaca. Stars or not, the Mets can still win ball games when their starter (Tim Redding of all people!) goes seven innings and the team puts 18 men on base during said game. Also, it helps to not use Bobby Parnell in a late and close sitch.

Tonight's Questions

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  • WHY is the entire baseballblogosphere all agog about Steven Soderbergh losing the studio backing for his Moneyball movie? This is snoozy procedural Hollywood nooze, people.

  • HOW will Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols take to the Mets new digs in Flushing? He's got only one career tater against Mets starter Tim Redding but a fat 1.132 OPS.

  • ARE you going to listen live to three men talk about a book on the Internet tonight? The Walkoff Walk Furious Five starts at ten pee emm.

Seriously, Drew and Kris and I spent the past few weeks actually reading a book so we could discuss it, but in the end, we'll do our best to make it fun for you and not like your mom's book club where a bunch of ladies sit around clucking like hens and scarfing down artichoke dip. We'd be pleased as spiked punch to have you join us. In fact, we'll hip you to the official Furious Five call-in number if you want to dial us up between 10:00 and 10:30 to lend your opinion.

1-347-843-4807. Use it wisely. Back with more blogging tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

(Seattle baseball cage at dusk photo courtesy of Flickr user subsetsum)

After 25 years in the job, Donald Fehr is stepping down as head of the MLB Players Association. So sayeth ESPN. The man who learned his game from the great Marvin Miller and once successfully sued the MLB for $280 million in damages for being a bunch of colluding assholes is retiring, which leaves an enormous gaping hole at the top of the MLBPA in shaky financial times. General counsel Michael Weiner will take his place.

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Please join us in the podcastosphere for the first ever Walkoff Walk book club discussion, tonight at 10PM EDT. We'll be talking about the Bruce Weber tome As They See 'Em, an in-depth look at the world of umpiring, from the bottom ranks of the minor leagues all the way up to the top folks working the World Series. If you missed your chance to pull it out of your local library, the New York Times has the first chapter available to peruse.

Some of the topics we'll be discussing include the treatment of umpires by ownership, where umpires eat when they're on the road 180 days out of the year, and how many buckets of crab fries Eric Gregg could consume in one sitting.

Prior to the radio show, I'll be watching the Bob Costas interview special on MLB Network where the little fella sits down with some of baseball's most important umpires, including Steve Palermo, Bruce Froemming and Don Denkinger. Check it out at 7PM EDT if you're interested in getting a head start on the umpire chit-chat. Or if you're over the age of 30, from St. Louis, and want a chance to yell at your television.

Via Deadspin, the ultimate purveyor of human condition cinema, comes this gripping video clip that shows the depths of human suffering and the desperate displays of virility among male aficionados of sport. Or, in the words of the auteur who uploaded his opus to YouTube:

Some guy said something to the others guy. wife. and. things got heated.

Well said.


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The Nationals are having a tough time drumming up local support for their historically awful team so they're digging around at the bottom of the cookie box for any random crumb that might pique the taste of Washington fans. What did they find down there? BLOGGERS!

Washington invited the entire Nats blogosphere to hang out in the press box and participate in a press conference on Saturday night. Bloggers got the chance to interview stars like Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman and hurl hard-hitting questions at them like "Are you on Facebook?" Oh please friendster me, Willie Harris! You're the dreamiest!

Of course, Adam Dunn claims to have no idea what a blog is, let alone how to use one. Sez Adam:

"I'm not going to lie, I don't even know what a blog is...and I'm serious. Is it like Facebook?"

Knowing everything that's written out there about you, Adam, it's probably for the best that you've got no idea how to mash your ham-hocks on a computerator keyboard.

(Via Mr. Mottram Irrelevants Bros Inc and Bog Twitter but mysteriously not Nats 320)

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Former Red great and current ESPN Sunday Night Baseball color commentator Joe Morgan is old and confused, y'all. Fella turned 65 last year so we've got to understand that maybe, just maybe sometimes he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about when telling an amusing anecdote from 35 years ago. Last week, Morgan told a tale about walking to the mound from his position in the field to huddle up with pitcher Don Wilson, just one out away from a no-hitter. Morgan claims he told the guy to walk Hank Aaron in order to preserve the no-no. When research-minded bloggers checked the facts, it seems that Morgan wasn't even playing that day.

Last night during the Dodgers-Angels tilt, Morgan decided it was time to clear up the issue with a correction:

Jon [Miller], I want to correct something that I said last week -- you weren't here so you weren't involved -- but last week we were talking about Don Wilson pitching a no-hitter and I remember talking to him about Hank Aaron and saying it wouldn't be the worst thing if he walked him. And he said 'get away' and he went out and struck him out. Well it happened in the dugout, not on the field. I got it mixed up with an incident I had with Al Hollins, who in a similar situation was pitching with me at the Giants, so I had the two confused.

Well, either Morgan gave this advice before the inning started or Joe's really lost his marbles. What, are we supposed to believe that he meandered out to the mound in the middle of the inning to chit-chat with the pitcher? I don't think that's allowed.

But I ain't got no quarrels with Morgan's somewhat colorful recollection of baseball past, as long as he's not talking shit about Ernie Banks. In fact, I tune in to ESPN Sunday night games just so I can hear him claim (for the 382nd time) that Davey Concepcion was the greatest shortstop in the history of the game and once saved a basketful of puppies from a burning teepee, a dubious statement indeed, but that's part of the joy of Joe. He's a doddering old boob, we all know that now. Don't expect him to advocate or even comprehend newfangled stats like "OPS", just tune in because it's just like hearing your crazy uncle talk about that time in 1959 when he punched out ex-President Truman during a bar brawl in Chicago. It just didn't happen, Uncle Harry, no matter how many times you tell me with a can of Old Milwaukee in your hand.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when we cheated on every test:

Giants 3, Rangers 2: The Giants were part of the conversation, and then out of it, and then just as quickly back in it once again. What were we talking about? Oh yes, contention. After being shamefully wiped clean by the Angels last week, San Fran swept the Rangers on the backs of good pitching; Barry Zito's seven solid topped off a weekend in which Texas managed just seven runs in a sweet three game takedown. Our old friend Andruw Jones broke up Zito's no-hitter in the seventh with a two run tater tot. The Giants are the anti-Phillies, having won 11 of 13 series at home.

Mariners 3, Diamondbacks 2: It was a wild weekend of walkoffs, despite the absolutely discouraging lack of crustacean-friendly walkoff walks. No matter, Tony Clark's ninth inning error was hilarious enough to help Seattle win and reacquaint theyselves with the .500 mark for the first time since early May. Clark's oopsie came on the most ordinary of routine plays as he dropped a simple putout throw from third baseman Mark Reynolds with two outs and the winning run on third. Whoops. King Felix had another solid start while his ERA dipped under 2.75. Cy. Young. Just you wait.

Red Sox 6, Braves 5: The walkoff home run is perhaps the meatiest, manliest way to send the losers to the showers and the concessionaires to the cash out room. But sometimes, it is not the hulking beast or the lanky slugger whose moonshot causes the home crowd to cheer and reach for their car keys: from time to time, mere journeyman middle infielders have the power. In this case, it was Nick Green who popped the winning walkoff tot that eased the pain of Red Sox fans mourning the latest victim of disability, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Orioles 2, Phillies 1: Relax, Phillies fans. Half your team is either hurt or pooping their brains out, but at least Cole Hamels is fine. Fella pitched a gem to outshine all gems as Philadelphia finally won a home game against an American League oppon...wait, what? Only one run? Against Baltimore? What, did Cholly have Cat Stairs batting cleanup? He did? Is Ryan Howard still shitting out his insides? They've lost how many home games now? HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, PHILLIES FANS?

Tigers 3, Brewers 2: Who needs Magglio Ordonez when you've got Justin Verlander hurling seven superb innings or Brandon Inge notching all three ribs with one ding dong swing dong? Not Smoky Joe Leyland, thats fer sure.

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Despite claims that Scott Boras is all that is wrong (or right) with baseball, Boras certainly knows his way around a press release. Fighting for the rights of his clients is one thing, taking that fight to the airways is another. Boras responded to the recent benching (or running out of ideas according to Leyland) of Magglio Ordonez with a healthy does of skepticism.

"Take a look at what [Red Sox manager] Terry Francona is doing with David Ortiz," Boras told The Detroit News. "And this man has nowhere near the numbers of Magglio Ordonez in recent seasons. And Ortiz is coming off a bad year from the year before [2008].

"[Alex Rodriguez] in the month of June hit .137 in 2006. [Derek] Jeter, I believe, for two months hit under .200. They didn't bench him.

"Give me the compelling reasons for benching Magglio. You bench Magglio and you're going to have a problem -- a real problem -- justifying that to me."

Translated from snake oil to English: Boras claims the Tigers are benching Ordonez to avoid activating some automatic vesting options built into his contract not for poor play as Jim Leyland states. First, let's look at Magg's play: does he deserve a benching?

In a word: sure. His raw numbers for the year aren't terrible (.273/.376/.494) with only 2 home runs. Beyond that, his BB/K is about normal though his line drives are down and his ground balls are way, way up. Fewer fly balls and even fewer home runs on those fly balls mean he's basically a singles hitter stuck in the center of the lineup.

Over the last two weeks though, Magglio's become even worse. A .554 OPS with but one extra base hit. His contact numbers are cryptic and I'm not smart enough to make much sense of them. One thing stands out: Magglio's having a hard time with the fastball. The linear weights support it (whatever Poindexter!) but his spray chart does too! Almost everything is the other way! Magglio can't get around on anything, and his offense is suffering badly.

So he's not playing well. He's hardly the first 35 year old to slump. But does Boras have a point? Let's consider this from a business perspective. Thanks to Cot's Contracts, we take a closer look at Magglio's deal:

  • 2010 option guaranteed at $18M if Ordonez has: 135 starts or 540 PAs in 2009, or 270 starts or 1,080 PAs in 08-09
  • 2011 option guaranteed at $15M if Ordonez has: 135 starts or 540 PAs in 2010, or 270 starts or 1,080 PAs in 09-10

Magglio counted 623 PAs in 2008 to go with 242 in '09. He only needs 200 more PAs to vest 2010 or 125 more starts. Would the Tigers want to pay $18 million dollars for a man giving them replacement level performance this year? Absolutely not. Is this the first time a team would place such restrictions on playing time to save themselves a few bucks? Of course not.

The Tigers are currently in first place in the AL Central. If Magglio's play doesn't improve, they could plug nearly anyone into right field and get the production. The Tigers see potential playoff earnings compounding the $18 million dollar savings next year; their decision is simple.

As for Boras, he's really only doing his job. The past offseason showed a player like Ordonez would be in for a serious pay cut were he unleashed on the open market. In typical Boras style, he opted for a one-way line of communication laden with rhetoric and relativism. Jim Leyland is protecting his player but also trying to maintain his perception as baseball man rather than company stooge.

Magglio is a much better hitter than he's shown the last month, making it foolish to right him off so quickly. The Tigers need to do more than sit him down for a weekend here and there if they hope to save themselves $18 million bucks in 2010, the most Scott Boras or any of us should expect is a little respect for a franchise cornerstone.

Double Whiskey, Coke, No Ice to Matt_T for the heads up on the money quotes.

Roberto Clemente died for your sinsWhat happened last night in the baseball world while you were making Therese.

Cubs 8, Tribe 7 (10): Zantastic! The burning brides of the Cleveland bullpen strike again! 4 runs in the 8th innining, a game-tying Derrick Lee home run in the bottom of the nine, and finally an Alfonso Soriano-created run in the 10th sunk the Tribe. Derreck Lee hit 2 tats with other tots coming from Reed Johnson's pointy toes on the Cub side and Victor Martinez & Luis Valbuena on the racist nickname side. Cliff Lee's good start was squandered yet again by the Cleveland fire brigade. Khalil Greene knocked a feel-good tater tot in his first start since returning from the Anguished List. Trey Hillman opted to load the bases by pitching around Albert Pujols in the third inning, a move Chris Duncan took as a declaration of war. One tater tot later and this one was over before it began. The Cards hit three homers in the third inning alone to gain a game on Brewers.

Tigers 10, Brewers 4 (7): The Tigers and Brewers combined to hit 5 home runs in only 7 innings. Marcus Thames hit 2, Miguel Cabrera hit one and Magglio Ordonez sat on the bench looking glum. The Twins pecked away at Roy Oswalt, who picked a complete game despite giving up 5 runs and 10 hits. Delmon Young supplied two RBIs, nearly doubling his output for the season.

Braves 7, Red Sox 2: Nate McLouth greeted the struggling Dice-K with a home run to start the game and it only got worse from there for the struggling Matsuzaka. No matter how good an escape artist you think you are, throwing 39 strikes out of 67 pitches isn't a good idea. Garrett Anderson went 3-3 with 4 ribbies from his rightful home at designated hitter. Kenshin Kawakami was excellent, only surrendering two hits (both to Jason Bay, one of which went over the rinky-dink wall in left field. The Phillies lost their fourth straight while the Nats won their third in a row. THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS SHIFTED IN THE NL EAST.

Everybody Else: The streaking Angels won a tight game in front of a packed house of Angelinos. Jason Marquis won AGAIN to keep the Rockies hot. Oakland bright spot Josh Outman left the game in the second inning with arm owiness, the A's held on to beat the Padres. Interleague's goofy y'all.

newstretcher.JPGI know I'm only the weekend guy around here, but I'll be damned if I'd let real life come between our beloved readers and their Creampuffery. It's a Friday tradition, like coming to work two hours late and drunk. Or stealing office supplies from the local office supply store.

  • Every Blue Jays pitcher, Blue Jays: With Roy Halladay heading to the DL with a groin ouchy, that makes 4 of 2008's 5 starters on the Blue Jays shelf. Add current closer Scott Downs and former long-term Creampuff Casey Janssen and you've got yourself a Canadian catastrophe. On the plus side, the Jays physical trainer was added to the all-star team staff! No, really. He was.

  • Mike Hampton, Astros/Erik Bedard, Mariners: Two sides of the same brittle coin. Hampton's out with advanced muscle atrophy, Bedard's felled by diphtheria of the shoulder. That otta kill his trade value! The first signs of summer have arrived!

  • Dontrelle Willis, Tigers: Deep sigh.

  • Coco Crisp, Kyle Farnsworth, Royals: Crisp is out with a strained right rotator cuff, suffered in a brazen attempt to heave a baseball back toward the infield. No word on his return, the team expects him to trickle back towards the team not unlike a Coco Crisp relay attempt. Farnsworth suffered hand lacerations trying to separate his fighting dogs. Fighting dogs? Kyle Farnsworth will soon be appearing on our next listicle: What's Up Prisonpuff? Dudes That Got Traded for a Carton of Kools.

  • Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Mild strain of his righteous indignation. Raped by a wallaby's Wordpress account.

  • Jason Isringhausen, Rays: Torn elbow ligament. Out for the year and possibly forever. A trip to Birmingham at 37 isn't something to look forward to. Hmmm, 18 months of torturous rehab or quality trophy wife time? Here's hoping Izzie opts for leisureman over mopupman.

Weekend Questions

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  • WILL you enjoy all the nationally-televised games this weekend? Tigers-Cards on MLB Network tonight, Rays-Mets on FOX Saturday afternoon, White Sox-Reds on MLB Network Saturday night, Red Sox-Braves on TBS Sunday afternoon, and Dodgers-Angels on ESPN Sunday night. It's an abbondanza of TV baseball!

  • DO you realize that the aforementioned White Sox-Reds tilt is the Civil Rights Game, and that Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, Frank Robinson, Eric Davis, Harold Reynolds, Oscar Robertson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tony Perez, and Bob Gibson will be in attendance? Oh, to be a fly on Dusty Baker's dugout wall for a day!

  • HOW far has Yahoo columnist Tim Brown fallen from his rocking chair? To lionize the anonymous coward who leaked the Sosa news as a hero is an insult to the true heroes of the world.

  • HAVE you watched live baseball on your iPhone yet? I can't wait to go to a Yankees game and watch the Red Sox lose on my mobile device SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Please forgive our day off tomorrow but I have a prior commitment that will prevent me from posting. Drew "LTB" Fairservice will guide you through the weekend of interesting interleague action and I'll be back on Monday to fulfill your bloggin' needs. Get excited, people, because there WILL be a Furious Five Radio Show on Monday night with the triumphant return of co-host Kris Liakos. Same WoW channel.

(photograph courtesy of Flickr user Rich Anderson)

There is no amount of antipathy towards the Boston Red Sox or the sport of hockey that can prevent me from smiling at this video of Jason Bay meeting Bobby Orr in the oddest of places at the strangest of times:


Via Can't Stop the Bleeding and produced by the good folks at Sox and Dawgs.

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Thursdays are the new Wednesdays. I've finally accepted this fact. No official glog today so feel free to play around in the comments with your updates. Let's get right into the huge list of daytime playtimes:

  • Braves at Reds, 12:35PM EDT: Phenom Tommy Hanson packed his strikeout pitch along with a ham sandwich and a Yoo Hoo in a crumpled brown bag, so watch out, Reds batters. Especially the five of you on pace to strike out 90+ times this year. Didn't Dusty Baker teach you patience? Isn't patience the most important aspect in fishing?

  • Blue Jays at Phillies, 1:05PM EDT: The Phillies throw Joe Blanton to the wolves as they seek to avoid the broom at home against the Roy Halladay-less Blue Jays. Raul Ibanez was just put on the disabled list with an allergic reaction to the massive dosage of steroids so John Mayberry was called up to take his spot in the outfield. This game will probably be rained out and should prove to be impossible to reschedule.

  • Nationals at Yankees, 1:05PM EDT: The Nationals haven't won a series since April and have barely even had the opportunity to do so. Today, the only two things that stand in their way are Joba Chamberlain and the pouring rain. Hey, a two-game split is a moral victory for Manny Acta nowadays. If the game actually happens, look for rook pitcher Craig Stammen to baffle Yankee hitters and collect his first major league victory.

  • Pirates at Twins, 1:10PM EDT: Nick "Gasm" Blackburn takes the hill for his eighth afternoon start on the season. He's 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA during the day and 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA at night. Of course, this game is in the Metrodome so the only real difference between night and day is the amount of booze the chubby white gals have consumed by first pitch. The Pirates haven't won an interleague road series since 2003 but this is totally Pittsburgh's year, so expect the unexpected! Like an enormous T-Rex breaking through the roof of the baggiedome

  • White Sox at Cubs, 2:20PM EDT: Our hero of the working class Carlos Zambrano takes the mound with a tidy 0.86 ERA in his last three starts. Of course, he's only won a single game in that stretch thanks to the morose Cubbie offense. Really, who would have thought Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley, and Alfonso Soriano would all fall off a steep cliff in the same year? It must have something to do with the Zicam scare. They can't smell a strike.

  • Rays at Rockies, 3:10PM EDT: It's Raystober in Roxjunuary! Jesus I have no idea what month it is or who is playing well. At least I know a game between Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez proves to be an excellent duel of hard-throwing, hard luck pitchers, both of whom have never faced the opposing squadron. This will either be a tidy 2-1 game or a 27-22 slugfest.

  • Mariners at Padres, 3:35PM EDT: Josh Geer! Brandon Morrow! Major League Baseball requires that every game on the schedule be played even if both teams would rather just spend the day shopping in La Jolla!
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Larry Stone has been following the Brett Favre "will he or won't he just die already" story from a distance and can't help but notice the similarities between Favre's fading glory and that of Mr. Steve Carlton. It's especially interesting to note that, even at age 64, Steve Carlton would have a better passer rating than Favre and would require far less Vicodin. The Hot Stone League.

  • Matt Sussman calls out anonymous sources in the sports world (like the ones who finger steroid users or leak silly news) and he demands that they be unmasked, paraded through town squares in shackles, and then dipped in the watering hole in one of those old-fashioned dunking devices. The Layoff Beard.

  • Bobby Valentine has a blog and isn't afraid to use it to bore you. Before entertaining us with tales of his pals from Stamford, CT coming to visit him in Japan, he knocks down the rumours that the Nationals have contacted him about their not-quite-yet-vacated managerial job. Also, he posed for this awesome picture. On the Road with Bobby V.

  • Rany Jazayerli notices how well the Royals have done in interleague play and wonders if the franchise would have been better off switching leagues when they had the chance. Unfortunately, they'd be a shitty team in any league just as long as they keep paying Jose Guillen to play baseball. Rany on the Royals.

  • Did you realize that there have been enough MLBers who have lent their names and likenesses to video games over the years to form an entire starting lineup? You even have the 1980s computer game Earl Weaver Baseball to manage the virtual team and spew vulgarities at the virtual umpires. Wezen-ball.
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Baseball's fallen hero and champion of artificially-fit guidos everywhere Jose Canseco is going to take down Major League Baseball and the Players Association with the best tool he can possibly muster: THE COURTS, BITCHES. Jose is planning to team up with fellow fallen sluggers Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa to form the world's most despicable class-action lawsuit where they'll seek compensation for lost wages and...get ready...defamation of character.

"Because I used steroids and I came out with a book, I was kicked out of the game, but I have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame," Canseco said in a telephone interview.

"A lot of these players have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire and so forth. They're losing salaries, because obviously when you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, you get asked to do certain, you know, appearances and shows and so forth, which incorporates income. So there is a major income loss.

"Not even that, baseball blackballs you from their family, meaning you can't have a future proper reference from them, a job, no managerial jobs, no coaching jobs, nothing. They completely sever you."

Let me play judge for a second, despite having no legal education and just a minuscule understanding of the American legal system: Jose Canseco's planned lawsuit is full of horseshit. And if he and his buddies don't get thrown out of the court and slide along the sleek marble floors on their ridiculously oversized asses, then I request that Jose's lawyer includes this here website on the list of defendants. After all, we've had our fun with the despicable dago for our entire run.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when the big boys were all spoiling for a fight:

Reds 4, Braves 3: Javy Vazquez added seven to his league-leading strikeout total with his complete game performance but it wasn't enough to topple Micah Owings' three run tater tot. Good thing Owings contributed offensively because the top five Reds batters in the lineup went a combined 0-for-17. Come back, Joey Votto! You too, Shane.

Nationals 3, Yankees 2: Even the losers get lucky sometimes. Nats closer Mike MacDougal saved John Lannan's hide by inducing a ground ball double play off the bat of Robinson Cano to end the game. Lannan was shutting down hitters like he was the Health Department and the Yanks were roach-infested KFCs until Johnny Damon slammed a solo dong in the ninth. The Nats got their big O from an Adam Dunn tater tot and a two-run triple by Nick Johnson that Melky Cabrera completely whiffed on while diving.

Orioles 6, Mets 4: Wake up, Wieters fans! Your boy Matt finally clobbered his first ever happy jack and notched his first and second career RBI. Nick Markakis gave it up for Greeks everywhere and went 4-for-4. Note that this is the first time since Eisenhower was in office that a Baltimore baseball team and Washington baseball team have won on the same day. Not really, it just feels that way.

Cardinals 4, Tigers 3: Joel Zumaya's bases-loaded walk issued to Ryan Ludwick proved to be the game-winner for the Cards while Colby Rasmus earned his first career triple. Zumaya's seventh inning adventure featured three walks and a hit. That struck a bad chord with Tigers fans, no doubt.

Pirates 8, Twins 2: Andrew McCutchen hit his first big league homer while The Brothers LaRoche both went deep to become the first pair of Pirate siblings to go yard since Paul and Lloyd Waner back in nineteen-dickety-eight. That is if you don't count Pirates second baseman (basemen?) Boris and Lucas Hassenpfeffer, the Siamese twins joined at the hip, who went deep off Vic Lombardi back in 1947.

Tonight's Questions

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That'll do it for today, friends. Check back tomorrow; we hope to have video of Pat Burrell performing magic tricks with a series of gloves and groupies. Same Adult WoW channel.

Image courtesy of the SI Vault

Via the insane baseball-phobe PUNTE comes this haunting video an Independent League ballplayer Josh Womack practicing the dark arts to frighten away the wholesome:


Run away! He's a witch!

Seriously though, I haven't seen an athlete do amazing extracurricular things like that with a bat since Jose Offerman.

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Two games on the afternoon docket today but no liveglog. Let's get right into it. No time for sorries.

  • White Sox at Cubs, 2:20PM EDT: Two middle-of-the-road, middle-of-the-country teams get together for an middle-of-the-afternoon affair in the middle of the week in the middle of the season. Middling starters Ryan Dempster and John Danks hope to find the corners and avoid the middle of the strike zone lest opposing batters pop one into the middle of the ivy. Note: Reed Johnson's at-bat music used to be "The Middle". Note: that's a middling lie.

  • Angels at Giants, 3:45PM EDT: Tim Lincecum (6-1) and Matt Palmer (6-0) get together for the unlosingest pitching matchup of the day. The Giants seek to avoid the sweep in their first series since we talked about their playoff chances on the podcast. Whoops! Sorry, Bruce Bochy. Palmer had a cup of coffee with the Giants last year which means he still has rookie eligibility this year; he's the first thirty-something rookie in history to win his first six decisions, giving hope to old farts everywhere.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. Since he hasn't turned in one of those in a while, Dan will also be reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network.

I watch a lot of bad television. I watch Family Feud for an hour most nights, enjoy scanning the channels I'm not even sure really exist (ION Television? Totally fake.) for hilarious new infomercials after midnight and have sat through several different episodes of Peter Popoff Miracle Manna. I have a clip saved on my computer of Kevin Federline defeating John Cena in a wrestling match. I will watch ESPN Classic skateboarding just to see the old espn2 graphics. I've seen every episode of Pitchmen.

Point being: I like TV. I might like bad TV even more. As such, it is with no hesitation that I jump into the pool for MLB Network's first-ever reality series, The Pen. The things I do for you, the fans, I know. The show will follow around the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen from spring training to the All-Star Break, presumably teaching us what to do if you have, say, 50 games to sit out at work because you took a banned work drug. Ooh, and Mitch Williams narrates.

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Chien-Ming Wang might have the worst ERA ever ever ever but that doesn't preclude Nike from cashing in on his popularity. He's the King of Taiwan, people! Courtesy of Freshness Magazine (which I thought was a publication about vegetables) come the first images of the Nike x Chien-Ming Wang (王建民) - Air Max 1 Premium sneakers. They feature the number 40 (Wang's uniform number, not his ERA) under the tongue and other awesomeness:

On the tongue, you will find Wang's Chinese surname "王" in gold, traditional Chinese calligraphy form, implies the importance of his family but also its alternate definition - the King. All are designed on top of a translucent Nike Air Unit sole embedded with gold flicks, connote Wang's title among Taiwanese fans - The Beacon of Taiwan.

I'd be pretty nervous naming someone with an 0-4 record and a 14.34 ERA as the beacon of my entire country. But I'd also be pretty excited to wear shoes that looked like baseballs.

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Gentleman, start the gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments! One of the purest and most honest baseball players of the past twenty-five years has been fingered as a user of illegal substances! The New York Times reported that Sammy Sosa was one of the notorious 104 players who failed a drug test in 2003. This revelation gives sanctimonious beat writers a solid excuse to not give Sosa a Hall of Fame vote in 2013 and, even worse, gives the feds a chance to prosecute the living hell out of a guy who once proclaimed in front of Congress that he never took PEDs.

He was a great hitter and an ambassador for the game during a time when baseball needed it most. But my opinion on Sammy Sosa is not important, folks. Let's hear some reactions from around the league, because honestly, I'll never know what to think until I hear baseball managers and players opine on the matter when they'd rather be worrying about, you know, actual baseball games:

The always colorful Ozzie Guillen is saddened by the news and just wants to rip the Band-Aid right off in one fell swoop so it doesn't hurt so bad:

"And we should be over the hump, out of this situation. We got enough time to clean this thing. But We're not going to clean this thing, day by day, name by name, month by month. Whoever is out there, get the names out, deal with it, and baseball will continue to be the same. Some people will be upset, some people will be disappointed. They're not going to stop the game. That's the best thing for baseball. Every time you hear names. Now it's no surprise. When you hear somebody's name you say (sarcastically), 'that's a shocker?' "

Former Rangers teammate and current Angels reliever Darren Oliver isn't mincing words:

"Better him than me. He's the one who has to deal with it. It seems like if you are caught with this, you can kiss the Hall of Fame goodbye."

This just in: Darren Oliver has tested positive for Ensure. Oh well! No Hall of Fame for you, journeyman pitcher!

Fellow countryman Octavio Dotel doesn't want to be guilty by association, yet backs up Sammy with the classic Manny Ramirez defense:

"Yes, because he's one of our leaders in the Dominican," Dotel said. "But one thing I say - everyone makes mistakes. He didn't kill nobody. He did it, a little tough mistake. But life, you got to keep going. Nothing surprises me at this point, this time, about this kind of stuff."

And to end with a flourish, Meech at the The Fightins brings us the money quote from Sweet Lou Piniella:


Lou wouldn't know a steroid from a reefer? Neither would I, because I wasn't a fast-talking career gal in the 1930s.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when you were hiding inside, behind another door:

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 3: I guess that new reality show about the Phillies bullpen on MLB Network is totally distracting the relief crew. I guess Ryan Madson and the like are too busy chit-chatting on their Blackberries with their agents about movie deals and guest spots on "The Love Boat" to deal with actually, you know, protecting a lead. Madson walked in the tying run in the ninth for the blown save and Clay Condrey gave up the farm (and five runs) in the tenth for the loss. Get me out of here, I'm a celebrity, indeed!

Royals 5, Diamondbacks 0: Gil Meche does not care about your silly plastic device counting the number of pitches his arm has thrown. Just discard it, Royals pitching coach sir. It is worthless to you on a night when Gil "Guh" Meche goes the distance in his first Kansas City shutout and racks up a whopping 132 pitches spun. Ol' Noodle Arm struck out six and allowed but five baserunners, then doused his arm in a vat of chocolate soft serve after the game. With sprinkles, please!

Rangers 6, Astros 1: Former Ranger and current Astro Pudge "Ivan" Rodriguez clobbered a solo dong on the night that he tied Pudge "Carlton" Fisk for most games squatting behind a plate with the umpire smelling your neck musk in baseball history. It was in a losing cause, though, as Kevin Millwood went seven strong and Ian Kinsler took Houston starter Wandy "Pudge" Rodriguez out behind the pudgeshed with two tater tots.

Mets 6, Orioles 4: From the AP recap: "Baltimore first baseman Aubrey Huff muffed a seventh-inning pop down the right-field line that produced two unearned runs, and the Mets beat the bumbling Orioles 6-4 Tuesday night. Three Baltimore errors led to three tainted Mets runs, helping Mike Pelfrey earn his first win in more than five weeks." Muffs? Taints? Bumbling? You can't possibly find a sexier recap than that. Kudos, AP guy.

Tonight's Questions

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That'll about do it for today, kids. Let's all wish Kris a speedy return and excitedly wait for Interleague to be over for another year. Same WoW channel.

Photo of Iranian National Baseball team courtesy of the SF Gate

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Bullpen members are supposed to put out fires, not fan the flames and douse them with grain alcohol. Nobody told the Indians relief crew, though. Patrick at Knuckle Curve gets the scoop:

CLEVELAND, OH - Heartening news for Indians fans tonight, as word has just come down that the entire Indians relief corps has been placed under arrest for arson. The group was apprehended after a particularly egregious episode of firestarting behavior while on national television late Monday night, during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers were trailing by 4 runs in the top of the 8th inning, 12-8. As the score indicated, both teams were hitting the ball well. "We really felt like our guys were giving us a chance to win up there at the plate," said beleaguered Indians manager Eric Wedge. "You usually feel pretty comfortable with your chances to pick up a win when you put up 12 like that."

And yet somehow, Kerry Wood was only involved as an accessory. Who said satire was dead? Oh right, I did. Well I was only partly right.

Knuckle Curve Semi-Drop

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Manny Acta has made it to New York City, people, and if you can make it there, I've been told you can make it anywhere. Despite rumours that his job was in jeopardy, Acta accompanied his Nationals to Yankee Stadium for the start of a three game David vs. Goliath series. But that doesn't mean his job is safe, he's still sitting in the visitors clubhouse with the Sword of Damocles dangling over his head and an oversized pair of scissors in Ted Lerner's hands.

So, in support of Acta, here are five reasons the Nationals should give Acta some relief and guarantee his job for the rest of the year, 120 losses or not:

  1. He's not the one who signed Adam Dunn: Or any of the terrible fielding Nationals, for that matter. The club can hit but they just can't field worth a lick. Even the normally adept Nick Johnson is having a tough year and the team is preventing runs at about the same rate the club is drawing fans to the Red Porch. The Nats have already given Jim Bowden the heave-ho for his transgressions. It's time to either remove the acting tag from Mike Rizzo's GMing hat or to bring in a new dude to guide the ship a bit and take some heat off Acta.

  2. He reads Baseball Prospectus: And Squawking Baseball and many, many other sabermetrically-inclined baseball blogs. Sure, having a mathematical mind is no automatic guarantee that he'll be a good manager, but it can't hurt to have someone in charge of the team be actually forward-thinking instead of an absolute caveman. Maybe it's a shame that Acta can't really demonstrate his knowledge with a team full of negative WARPs, amirite?

  3. It would make Ken Rosenthal look silly: Of course, that's not too hard to do since Ken spouts his nonsense with such great frequency, it's almost impossible for baseball fans to take him seriously. But Rosenthal reported with certainty last weekend that Acta was to be fired and replaced by Jim Riggleman. It would be nice to see Rosenthal scramble and blame his sources for misinformation, but once again, he'll have egg on his face.

  4. He's not Bobby Valentine: Be careful what you wish for, Nationals fans (fan?). Despite the rumours linking Bobby V to Washington's eventual firing of Manny Acta, this is not necessarily an improvement. We're talking about a man who barely compiled a .500 winning percentage in fifteen years of managing and never once finished in first place, even in six years in a five-team National League East with a huge Mets payroll. Considered to be a polar opposite to Acta's patient ways, Bobby Valentine would prove to be nothing more than a hyper, overblown spotlight hog.

  5. He had the good sense to bat Corey Patterson sixth: Yes, the patron saint of WoWness is back up in the big leagues, and Manny Acta didn't bat him leadoff on Sunday. It's questionable, though, as to why an above average defender like Corey was playing right field with the atrocious Elijah Dukes in center.

So what do you think? Should Acta be told to hit the bricks or should they keep him around to earn his place in history?

I'm A Creampuff: Liakos Takes A Hiatus

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Hey, kids. Starting this little website with Rob has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Honestly. It has opened up all kinds of opportunities for me, both personally and professionally, that I never thought I'd have. I count our loyal and ever growing base of readers and collaborators as one of my greatest achievements. I was always a writer but thanks to Walkoff Walk, I can actually tell people that it's what I do.

However, it's a time consuming and draining enterprise. You wouldn't know it by looking at some of the stuff I turn in, but it's true. At the moment, I've reached a point where other parts of my life need the attention that I've devoted to WoW, so I'm taking a bit of a break.

We're gonna call it a hiatus because I'm definitely not quitting. I'll still pop up in the comments and I'll be at The Heist. Most importantly, at some point I'll probably just come back. And before you ask, this wasn't something that I came up with in an altered state at Bonnaroo. It's been building for a little while.

Telling you how much work the site takes must make me look like a real bum for putting it all on Rob. But I am absolutely sure the site will stay solid and even thrive without me around for a little while. Not a shred of doubt. I mean, you'll all still be reading, right? Okay, good.

So stay with me on the ol' Twitter, and I'll see you all again a little ways down the road. Same WoW channel.

After chiding the Pittsburgh Pirates ownership for trading Nate McLouth through song, this troubadour segued into a special Nate McLouth cover version of "Candle in the Wind":


"Goodbye, Nate McLouth, though I never knew you at all, you had the gold glove undeserved, but you sure could smack that ball..." Seriously though, is 'jagoff' a regional colloquialism specific to Western Pennsylvania?

(via Dejan Kovacevic's morning links which are just like Jimmy Dean's morning links except with less sodium)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when the buildings took a fall:

Brewers 14, Indians 12: The teams combined for six home runs at Seagull Field including Prince Fielder's game winning tetra tot in the eighth. The game took four hours and featured appearances by twelve pitchers which made this seem more like a Love Boat marathon on TV Land than a baseball game. Seriously, I think Isaac your bartender pitched the sixth inning with a daiquiri in one hand.

Angels 9, Giants 7: The Giants must have imported wind from Yankee Stadium for this affair as a whopping seven ding-dongs exited AT&T Park, including two by Pablo Sandoval in a losing cause. The Angels batted Barry Zito around as if he were some kind of cheap rubber dog toy while John Lackey was just good enough to strike out 10 Giants and nail down the win.

Artie Lange 101, Joe Buck 0: Hurry up before HBO has this clip removed.

If you missed the show last night or just want to hear me stutter for thirty minutes again, the latest episode of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show is totally online and ready to be enjoyed. Thanks again to special guest Jonah Keri who wants you to go see Transformers with him this summer.

The jaunty tune you hear at the end is a live performance of "Lord Only Knows" by Yonder Mountain String Band, available for download at the Internet Archive.

Tonight's Questions

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Kris is back tomorrow to regale us with tales from hipster music festivals and driving across the American South with 9 other people in a single R.V. Until then! We bid you! Adieu! Podcast tonight! Same WoW channel!

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Two weeks ago, Mr. Liakos implied that the Pirates players were insane for holding a seance in honor or recently departed teammate Nate McLouth. We got our information from ESPN, normally a bastion of honest reporting and never, ever, ever a source of chicanery in journalism.

Well, it turns out the ESPN folks were dead wrong about the candle, candle burning bright in McLouth's locker, so we'd like to offer up our mea culpa:

Relievers Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez are fuming over how they've been portrayed by ESPN and other media for supposedly setting up a candle and "shrine" to Nate McLouth.

"It's ridiculous. Blown way out of proportion," Burnett said. "I'm waiting for an apology."

Chavez said the candle was set up two weeks before McLouth was traded as a running joke about the players' daily card game of Pluck. As long as Chavez and Burnett kept winning, the candle stayed lit at their lockers.

"It had nothing to do with the trade," Chavez said. "It's a friendly thing we had going on, an inside joke."

Neither player was disciplined by the team and the candle and Pluck scoreboard remain at their lockers.

Walkoff Walk doesn't have a very big profile in the sportsblogosphere so we don't expect Chavez and Burnett to feel any sense of satisfaction from this apology, but still, we're sorry that we implied they had emotional detachment issues. Just as long as Chavez, Burnett, and the entire Pirates team are employing safe practices when dealing with candles, we regret any emotional distress we may have caused with our blog post.

In the future, we'll make sure any separation anxiety presuppositions involve Andruw Jones and only Andruw Jones.

(Via the Baseball Think Factory Newsblog)

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...is to drag out a bunch of hockey players and dress 'em up like baseballers. Allegedly the Pittsburgh Penguins did something amazing by winning Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals on the road in Detroit and now the entire city of Pittsburgh is absolutely agog. Agog enough to buy 5,000 walk-up tickets at yesterday's Pirates-Tigers affair and increase attendance by 25% just because the winning hockey team would be there with a big silver cup.

With the Lakers putting the Magic out of their misery last night in the NBA Finals, we can finally put these silly goal-oriented games to rest for a few months and turn our full attention back to a turn-based, clockless game that doesn't require ice or inflatable balls.

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Ozzie Guillen never holds back with his opinion and that's why he gets quoted on sports blogs. If I got paid for this job, I'd be forced to give 5% of my earnings back to Ozzie. It's almost as if he wants to proselytize and the only way he can get his opinions across is to run his mouth and imply that the bowels of Wrigley Field make him vomit. Which is exactly what he did before the ChiSox left Milwaukee:

I see the other day they asked [Joe] Crede about the rats [in Wrigley], at least I have something that people can read and write and listen to, but I never put the Cubs fans down, I've always admired the Cubs office, I always made my feelings known about Cubs players, about the manager, about Lou [Piniella] now, [general manager] Jim Hendry and the way I respect them, a lot, a lot, but Wrigley Field? I puke every time I go there. I'm just being honest.

"If the Cubs fans don't like the way I talk about Wrigley Field ... I don't say anything about their fans, but Wrigley Field? They have to respect my opinion because that's the way I feel. A lot of great people are working there, the clubhouse people working there - I wish they had a better clubhouse, but besides that, it's exciting when the game starts. Of course it's exciting because that's one of the best, it's always crowded. But besides that, it's terrible.''

"I'd rather have somebody say you hate the place you live, rather than the people who live in it,'' Guillen said. "I never say I hate the players, the organization or the Cubs uniforms, then it's something bad.

"Every time I walk to Wrigley Field, people treat me like a king. The people that work at Wrigley field, like the front office people, the security guards, the people who work there are very honest and treat me well. I just hate the building.''

When Guillen is finally forced to retire from managing (which I hope isn't for another 40 years), he should write a travelogue about America's assorted stadiums, hotels, and restaurants, so the average traveling Joe can find out which diners make Ozzie puke and which Days Inns merely make him dry heave. He'd be the Rick Steves of ballparks.

(We owe a Pepsi Throwback to Can't Stop the Bleeding)

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Within the course of one weekend, we saw some of the greatest pitchers of our generation destroyed by groin pulls, starved hysterical by tendinitis, and generally driven batty by Yankee bats. With definite injuries to Jake Peavy and Roy Halladay, and possible injuries to Johan Santana, we baseball fans might be missing out on some great performances by three dudes who have a combined four Cy Young Awards between them.

So, what exactly is happening to the aces of baseball? First, we lost Jake Peavy :

Peavy showed up at the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium Friday with a cast around his right ankle after it was discovered that the ankle tendinitis that has troubled him for the last three weeks was something more serious.

Peavy, who injured the ankle making an abrupt stop after rounding third base in a game against the Cubs on May 22, will wear the cast for a month, according to Padres general manager Kevin Towers.

Jake was 4-1 since that injury but it looks like the Padres won't be trading him any time soon. Nor will we be able to stop talking about the Padres trading Peavy or writing blog posts about the Padres trading Peavy or telling late night talk show jokes about the Padres trading Peavy.

Then, just as quickly, Cy Young himself tumbled from the heavens and struck Roy Halladay with a case of the ouchies:

Halladay came out of the Blue Jays' 7-3 loss to the Marlins on Friday after he felt something on his second pitch of the fourth inning. He tried one warm-up pitch and left the field with a strain to his right groin.

Halladay will not make his scheduled start next Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Doc's officially listed as day-to-day and should be ready to make a start next week against the Washington Nationals as long as Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston gives him the okay. But imagine how disappointed Toronto fans must be if even dumb Americans like me are rending garments and gnashing teeth. With a decent offense behind him, Roy had a chance to win close to 30 games this season and just one missed start can be devastating.

And while Johan Santana may not be headed to the D.L., that doesn't mean he's without medical maladies:

Although Santana insisted that he was not injured, he and Dan Warthen, the Mets' pitching coach, revealed that Santana, a left-hander, had been bothered by a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand since late May. He had a blister on his left big toe for about the same period and, about a month ago, felt soreness in his back.

The blisters explain why his fastballs weren't fast enough to prevent the Yankees from blasting Santana for his Worst. Start. Ever. The balky back would probably be enough for the Mets to rest their ace if they weren't devastated enough by injuries to their pitching staff.

What sort of insidious specter is haunting our favoritest, bestest pitchers? Are we doomed to live in a world when every game matchup features mediocre and unimpressive hurlers like Steve Trachsel and Livan Hernandez? If bad pitchers are hemming and hawing and getting smacked around on the mound, won't games drone on longer and longer? WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I never thought I'd miss you:

Rockies 7, Mariners 1: Not since the lusty days of Roxtember 2007 have the Rockies won this many Roxalicious games in a Roxrow. Jason Hammel's solid start helped Colorado notch their eleventh consecutive victory; it was the 10th time in the streak that the starter has earned a W. Jim Tracy's boys collected six doubles (including one by Hammel) and battered Mariners starter Jason Vargas like a fish, killing him for seven runs. Just one more win on Tuesday and the Rockies will finally be back at .500 on the year.

Yankees 15, Mets 0: The Yankees set a season high for runs scored and at the same time punished superstar southpaw Johan Santana with his worst career start. Johan got tagged for nine runs on nine hits in just three innings and his ERA jumped almost an entire run; the Yanks 15 runs were collected in just three different innings. After the game, Santana told reporters that lately he's been pitching with an ouchie back, a split fingernail, and blisters, pretty typical for a Mets creampuff.

Royals 7, Reds 1: Kansas City was Broomtown, USA this weekend as the Royals took three straight from Dusty's Ohio boys. Brian Bannister beat Johnny Cueto despite neither pitcher allowing an earned run; the five runs scored off Cueto were unearned thanks to Jerry Hairston's pair of errors. Outfielder Jay Bruce also made an oopsie when a fly ball bounced out of his glove for a two-run triple.

Giants 7, Athletics 1: San Fran got in on the sweeping action, too, behind Nate Schierholtz' inside-the-park feat of tater-tottage and Matt Cain's seventh straight "Tim Who?" performance. Cain's last loss was May 2nd; he's got nine wins now and a crazy 2.39 ERA with 68 Ks. Schierholtz' inside-the-parker came at the expense of adventurous outfielder Jack Cust; it was just the second inside-the-park feat ever by a Giant at AT&T Park, the first being Dustan Mohr back in '04. Don't look now but the Giants have the third best record in the NL. I SAID DON'T LOOK NOW YOU'LL RUIN IT.

Pirates 6, Tigers 3: Pittsburgh took rubber thanks to Dontrelle Willis' wacky wild walking ways as D-Train let in six runs on six hits and a whopping eight free passes. "You can't defend a walk," Willis said. Actually that's not true Mr. Train. Rule 3.43(g) of the MLB rulebook says that if a batter earns a base on balls, the opposing left fielder can get the batter-runner out if he challenges him to an impromptu game of "Battleship", to be conducted on second base. Youngest player goes first, no moving your destroyer allowed.

duelingdudes.jpgRather than simply quickly blurb a bunch of today's games, I'll instead create a fine listicle ranking the top three pitching match ups according to my own fickle and arbitrary criteria. Sounds like fun! Here we go.

  1. Boston @ Philadelphia: Dice K v. The Bastardo. ZOMG! Dice K is done! Ship him out, when does Smoltz get here? The temptation to believe Matsuzaka's days of high pitch counts and myriad walks have finally caught up with him is strong. While Dice-K hasn't pitched nearly as well as expected (it's hard to make up excuses for a 2.11 WHIP) most of his peripheral stats are right in line with his career numbers. In fact; his walks are actually down from his 2008 rate and his FIP is up less than a full run over last season (compared to his ERA which is 5 runs higher than 2008.) His current BABIP is an alarming .453 - a figure guaranteed to come down.

    Bastardo's been a revelation for the Phillies this season, winning his first two starts and fans of good pitching and better surnames. Bastardo features essentially a two-pitch arsenal with a change up sprinkled in for fun and flavor. He was hit a little harder last time out against the Dodgers, it remains to be seen if he can survive the Red Sox Gauntlet of Patience.

    The Sox and Phillies are two of the most popular teams in baseball with an active blogosphere and passionate fans. Dice K brings the star power while the Phils bring the WFCness. Good enough for third place Duel for today.

  2. Mariners @ Rockies: Brandon Morrow v. Jason Marquis. Ahh, the study in contrasts. The kid with the golden arm making the least of his talents versus a career junkballer making a late-career financially-fueled resurgence. Brandon Morrow is a big, strong, kid that touches triple digits with his fastball who spent most of last season as the Mariners closer. The team smartly recognized he was much more valuable in the rotation and began the process last season. Fast forward to the spring when Morrow decided he was more comfortable in the pen. Argh go the Marinerds. Suddenly, two weeks ago, Morrow decided he wanted to be a starter after all! A shocking injury to Erik Bedard presses Morrow into duty before he's fully stretched, putting him on a strict pitch count. Morrow hasn't pitched well this season at all, getting good innings out of the diabetic youngster is crucial to the M's rebuilding process.

    Jason Marquis: what can I say about him that hasn't been said about three cheese ranch. Right place, right time, surprising results. I teased Marquis in regards to his poor career numbers, but he's really pitched well this season. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs broke down his recent success, pointing to an increase in ground balls and missed bats as driving forces in his contract year success.

    This might not be as sexy a match up as established East Coast teams, but don't sell these two pitchers short. Good for second place on the list as a showcase for diversity as well as the red-hot Rockies.

  3. A's @ Giants: Outman v. Many Strikeouts Man Two of the hottest teams in baseball. An actual, legitimate rivalry between two light hitting teams sure to enhance the pitching bottom line. Walkoff Walk Object of Scorn Randy Johnson looks for his 301st career win against Josh Outman, he of 14 career starts. One lithe lefty versus a cagey old buzzard lefty.

    Outman comes in with a 4-0 mark on the season. His 4.17 FIP is very good with only a few red flags to speak of. A low BABIP may cause some of his numbers to creep up, but a manageable home run, walk, and line drive numbers should find Outman and his effective slider continuing to help the A's in their quest for futility in the AL West.

    Randy Johnson is old an broke Rob's heart. He's quite famous thanks to his pitching prowess and bird-like features. He still notches strikeouts with regularity but home runs, walks, and the damned kids on his lawn have reduced Johnson from top of the rotation stud to lingering old guy. He moves the needle in this Bay Area battle and that's good enough for my Duel of the Day! Go out and score a dozen on my credibility!

sadmets.jpgSure there were plenty of other games last night, many of which added to the thrilling and compelling tapestry of the game. But holyfuckingshitguys, Luis Castillo dropped a 140 foot pop up to cost his team the game! Check out Matt_T's tumblr for the screen cap.

Ordinarily the Mets bullpen doesn't need any help to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That said; imported closer and demonstrative Jesusfreak Frankie Rodriquez has been nearly untouchable during his first season in the National League. It took a brief mental lapse from a remorseful Luis Castillo to derail K-Rod's outing, handing him his first blown save of the year. Take it away, emotional second baseguy:

A few minutes later, Castillo sat alone in the visitor's clubhouse, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, his head resting on his hands. His eyes were reddening.

A three-time Gold Glove winner, Castillo called it a "routine fly ball."

"I feel bad. I feel so bad," he said following his fifth error of the season. "The ball was moving a little bit."

The Mets lot in life has taken such a negative turn they're now forced to look towards Gary Sheffield as the voice of reason and stability:

Sheffield was brought here to give the Mets an edge. Now he must help find a way to keep them off the ledge. It doesn't get any worse than this, but Sheffield said the Mets already have begun the healing process.

"The thing is you just have to keep fighting," Sheffield said of a team that hasn't had enough fight to close out the season the last two years.

"As a team, we have to lift Luis up in that situation because it can happen to anybody," he said.

In keeping with the bizarro world theme, let us all be reminded that the game winning run was scored by 6 foot, 3 inch, 220 pound Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira &mdash due to earn $20 million dollars this season &mdash scored from first base on the play! While teammate Alex Rodriquez slammed his bat in disgust, Mark Teixeira raced around the bases, covering more distance than Rodriquez's batted ball. High school coaches everywhere passed out in unison over their excitement while my eyes are already rolling back in my head awaiting Joe Buck's thorough Teixeira ball-washing this afternoon.

This truly was just one game in June of a long season. The Mets have far greater problems than the imagined mental burden of 2 unearned runs.

Holy Crap Update Courtesy of Matt's Twitter!!!

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Ignore any reports you read that include the words: "Canadian", "copycat", and "Carradine".

Image courtesy of Daylife

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, the fire won't start without a burning desire.

  • CAN Oakland rookie Vin Mazzaro out-Lincecum Tim Lincecum tonight in the city by the bay? Vin's working on a 13 1/3 scoreless inning streak to start out his big league career and the soft-hitting Giants are exactly the kind of team to extend it.

  • WILL the Rockies eight-game winning streak continue back at home against the Mariners? Seattle sends Jarrod Washburn up the dirt hill; he's winless since April 21st despite his 3.64 ERA over that span.

  • DO you hate the Subway Series as much as I do? It seems to exist solely for the benefit of the FOX network and the piss-poor NYC tabloid papers.

  • HOW glad is Danny Haren that his team gets to bat against the NL Central's worst team at preventing runs tonight? Haren leads the NL in ERA and yet only has a 4-4 record. Nice support, Eric Byrnes.

  • IS that dirty Bonnaroo nonsense simulcast on the Internets anywhere? I want to watch Springsteen from the good ol' country comfort of my living room.

That'll just about cover this whirlwind week, folks. The College World Series (ping!) officially starts tomorrow in Omaha and some of those games are on national television if you want to avoid the New York nonsense. You'll be in good hands this weekend as our buddy Drew "LTB" Fairservice returns to guide you through the interleague morass. I'll be back Monday, all rested, same WoW channel.

("Out At Home" painting by Fletcher Cransom, courtesy of the Boston Public Library)

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...because his typical slow pace of warming up between innings is slowing down baseball games, y'all. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon better stop dilly-dallying or MLB vice president of discipline Bob Watson is going to steal all his money. Paps was fined a cool grand for his latest infraction during Wednesday night's Yankees-Sox tilt when he took 50% longer than allowed to warm up before the ninth inning.

Even worse, his incessant dawdling might force the Sox to temporarily find a new closer.

As per a publication called the "Lynn Daily Item", which sounds a lot like my Aunt Lynn's email newsletter about her 25 cats:

According to the source, players are given warnings first, before receiving a fine of $1,000. The second fine is for $3,000, and the third is for $7,000, with the possibility of a suspension after that. Papelbon's fine was for $1,000.

According to another source, guidelines call for between-innings time, that is, the time from the third out of one half-inning to the first pitch of the next half-inning of two minutes and five seconds for local TV games, 2:25 for national TV games during the week, and 2:30 for national TV games on Saturdays and Sundays.

When Papelbon entered Wednesday's game it took 3:34 from the last out of the bottom of the eighth until he threw his first pitch in the top of the ninth.

Three minutes and thirty-four seconds? Jeez, that's a full minute longer than every single Ramones song ever recorded. Maybe the best solution to get lazy relief pitchers into the game quicker and shorten up those lengthy game times would be to bring back those awesome bullpen cars. And to have Angel Pagan drive 'em.

(via Extra Bases, picture via bunkosquad at Flickr)

This week's classic television bit takes us back to 1977 and north of the border to Toronto, where it's always sunny with a chance of Skoal showers. From the Canadian Broadcasting Company archives on YouTube, here's Blue Jays pitching coach Bob Miller describing his hilarious methods of spitting tobacco juice on an umpire's feet without getting caught, also known in today's parlance as "being a total jackass":


Sick. Luckily for Bob, he died in a car accident well before the cancer could plague his gums and throat. Don't chew tobacco, kids, or you might roll your Camaro.

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  • J.J. Putz, John Maine, Mets: It's never a smart move to overspend on a dude who's going to pitch, at most, 5% of the nearly 1500 innings a major league pitching staff needs over the course of a season. Nobody told Omar Minaya, though, because he did it on two dudes, one of whom is now borkened. Putz had bone spurs removed from his elbow; they're floating in formaldehyde in a mason jar on his credenza right now. Maine's on the deel just resting his weak shoulder. He's like veal.

  • Cesar Izturis, Orioles: Izturis is out with an appendix. Or rather, an appendix is out of Izturis. Easy Ceezy was rushed to the hospital last week after complaining of sharp tum-tum pains.The O's shortstop will be spending the next few weeks licking ice cream cones while he recovers from the surgery. Or wait, is licking ice cream cones what you do when you have your tonsils removed? I can never remember.

  • Eric Milton, Dodgers: The 59-year-old Milton, who had finally come back after recovering from Tommy John surgery, was placed on the DL with a balky back. Says skipper Joe Torre, "We just shut him down because of his history with the surgery and stuff." Yeah that 'stuff' can be really dangerous.

  • Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Stop voting for Josh Hamilton on your Home Run Derby ballots, people. He's not going to make a repeat performance after his recent abdominal surgery that will sideline him for four to six weeks. Heck, can you imagine how hard you'd have to swing a bat to tear an abdominal muscle? It seems as if regular folks like me only do stuff like that when we sneeze.

  • this seagull, some flock: Out with a sore wing, but it was all worth it to make Farnsworth lose a game.

  • Jorge Cantu, Marlins: Our favorite sassy senior needs his eldercare specialist to change up his cholesterol medications. That Vytorin was not only making his relatives look like foodstuffs, it was making Jorge fall down and go boom. Cantu will solve the dizzy spells by quitting the cholesterol drug during the season, which does nothing to solve his clogged arteries.

  • Brandon McCarthy, Rangers: Dude has a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade, the same ouchie that kept him out for a month in 2007. I have a revolutionary corrective surgical plan for Brandon in the offseason: have your entire shoulder blade removed and replaced with the Slap Chop. It can't be much worse.

  • Brad Lidge, Phillies: Out with infinite sadness.
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The Rays are hot for some pitching depth, y'all. With Scott Kazmir out with a quad strain and half the bullpen either hurt or named Jason Isringhausen, Joe Maddon's people are starting to do desperate things. Desperate enough to comb the entire Western Hemisphere for aged talent past its prime, and desperate enough to look at someone who wasn't even good enough for the pitching-shallow Orioles to hire this year: get excited people, it's Pedro time!

Pitcher Pedro Martinez worked out for a Rays employee in the Dominican Republic this week.

Martinez, 37, has not pitched in the Major Leagues since Sept. 25 last season and went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets in 2008. He has remained home in the Dominican Republic all year and pitched for the Dominican national team in the World Baseball Classic this spring.

The employee has a close relationship with Martinez and watched him throw lightly on the side. There is no news about whether the session was serious.

No news about whether the session was serious? What, was Pedro wearing comically oversized clown shoes and a red nose? Was he throwing with his left hand? But honestly, I'm delighted to hear that one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game is now reduced to auditioning for a bullpen spot with a fourth-place team in June. I'm also frightened by the possibility of Pedro becoming an elite closer and the Rays finally winning close games and moving up the standings to better reflect their league-best run differential.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I was underage in this funky bar:

Note: like yesterday, I am the guest writer for today's Morning Juice over at Big League Stew. Here's a sneak peak of the thrilling recaps but check out the Juice to read the brilliant comments:

Pirates 3, Braves 1: Manager Bobby Cox was ejected for the 144th time in his career after arguing a questionable out call in the bottom of the ninth inning. Old Bob was probably ticked off that his reliever Rafael Soriano had just given up the farm in the top half of the inning after a stellar eight-inning, one-run start by Javy Vazquez. Either that or he wanted to get out of the stadium before reporters asked him why he started a horse at cleanup.

Astros 2, Cubs 1 (13): Astros cornerman Geoff Blum collected his second walkoff hit in as many days. Hey Geoff, if you do it again today, someone'll make a clever "Mr. Walkoff" t-shirt with your caricature on it and the words "Geoff's In Blum!" on the back. Twenty years down the line, we'll all look back and laugh. Derrek Lee's game-tying tater tot in the ninth went for naught, except it made post-game traffic worse in Houston.

Rockies 5, Brewers 4: Something was cooking in Milwaukee and it wasn't the beer brats. Jim Tracy's Rockies swept the Brew Crew and have now won eight games in a row. Heck, they can actually smell the .500 mark now! Aaron Cook went six strong for his fifth win but nearly lost it when "reliever" Huston Street allowed a three-run ding-dong to Ryan Braun in the ninth.

Athletics 4, Twins 3: Dave Cameron had a point when he bemoaned the poor fielding trio of outfielders that Ron Gardenhire wheeled out behind Nick Blackburn. Blackburn cruised through seven shutout innings before right fielder Michael Cuddyer misplayed a Jack Hannahan liner, diving right past the ball that rolled all the way to the wall and let Hannahan reach with a triple. Thus began the rally that killed the Twins lead and Blackburn's would-be win.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the insurgency began and you missed it.


  • AREN'T you glad that 'Duk waited a bit longer than the rest of the madding crowds to post his problem with the Raul Ibanez story? As far as I'm concerned, it's the last (and best) word on the entire matter.

  • IF I can't figure out a way to explain the whole thing to my Gramma in 100 words or less, then is it really that big of a deal anyway?

  • WILL CitiField continue to play like a hitters park tonight when the Phils and Mets finish off their delightful midweek series? Give us all another back-n-forth one-run game, folks, and you've got one of the best series so far this year.

  • CAN the Cerulean Jays pick up the shortened sweep of the Fightin Ron Washingtons tonight in Arlington? And since when does it rain in Texas? Kevin Millwood versus Ricky Romero, y'all.

  • HOW obnoxious will Red Sox fans be if Yaz' grandson ever makes the bigs?

That'll do it for today. Many, many thanks to our friend Matt Sussman for a soaking wet but solid whiparound liveglog. Won't someone out there please hire the kid so he can finally shave off that layoff beard?

I'll be back tomorrow trying my darndest to cover Kris' usual Friday gigs and one more day of Morning Juice at the Stew. Please join me. Same WoW channel.

sussglog.jpgThe AL Central: Because Midwesterners Embrace Mediocrity The Best. If there's anything else that the Midwest does well, it's rain. It rains a lot. PLEASE STOP RAINING, CLOUDS! I've actually never had to handle a rain delayed baseball game. Unless you count that one time. But at least that one started!


Whenever this beauty becomes active, it'll be Edwin "Bagels" Jackson vs. Gavin "Lox" Floyd.

The Tigers are itchin' to actually win a series against the White Sox, which I've only seen in pictures at the bottom of Loch Ness. Detroit currently a four-game lead over the Minnesota Fraternals. Meanwhile, the Bleached Footwear are six and a half games back of first place, nestled snugly in third place.

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across. Today, a special collection of reactions to the Raul Ibanez steroid kerfuffle.

  • Meech was the first to break the news (at least to me) with his attack on the blogger at Midwest Sports Fans who did the investigative post. It's some righteous indignation, certainly, but I wouldn't expect an ardent Phillies fan to react any other way. The Fightins.

  • David Pinto responds to Ibanez' absolute denial of steroid use with his own rhetorical questions and takes umbrage at the generalization that all bloggers live in their parents' basements. It's true, Pinto has his own basement and sometimes blogs from Friendly's. Baseball Musings.

  • John Perricone thinks Ibanez doth protesteth too much. Remember, Perricone is one of the staunchest Barry Bonds defenders around and doesn't sink to the level of the steroid-crazed media. He just wants Ibanez to get off his high horse. Only Baseball Matters.

  • Joe Posnanski chimes in and defends both Raul Ibanez and the accusatory blogger Jerod Morris in the way that only Joe Posnanski can. Heck, I want to create my own blogging scandal just so Joe Posnanski gives me a shoutout. JoeBlog.

  • Finally, Geoff Baker chides Morris (and pretty much every single blogger ever) for not having any journalistic integrity and failing to gird himself for the absolute sh**storm he created. Baker begins by recounting the time he was a cub reporter and got Tim Johnson fired from the Blue Jays. Integrity! Geoff Baker's Mariners Blog.
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Eight afternoon affairs today, including one stupendous liveglog from Matt "Bingo Cards" Sussman at 2PM. Let's get right down to it:

  • 12:10PM EDT, Cardinals at Marlins: The early start will help the Cards get the heck out of Miami and flee for the Cleve for their weekend series with the Indians. Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu has been getting a case of the vapors and may not start today after leaving yesterday's game early. The team doctor thinks the dizzy spells are a side effect to medication he's taking for cholesterol issues. I am not making this up.

  • 1:10PM EDT, Pirates at Braves: How bad are things for the Pirates? Their ace pitcher Paul Maholm went seven straight starts without winning before last Saturday. He'll take to the mound today in hopes of splitting the four-game series for Pittsburgh. He'll face Javy Vazquez who has his own problems getting run support from the Braves offense. I expect this game to end with a score of 32-19.

  • 2:05PM EDT, Tigers at White Sox: Ding ding ding this is the game that the Suss will glog, let us rejoice and be glad. It's Ozzie versus Leyland, Edwin Jackson versus Gavin Floyd, and the Big Tilde versus The Big Dildo. Come back here at 2 and tell all your friends that we're building a comedy pyramid to honor the gods.

  • 2:05PM EDT, Rockies at Brewers: Sometimes, a team fires a manager mid-season and brings on a replacement guy who somehow inspires the team to go on a hot streak and play way over their heads. I can't imagine Jim Tracy is capable of that, so I'm saying that the Rockies recent winning ways are totally expected and they are finally playing up to their potential. Aaron Cook hasn't won consecutive starts since last July.

  • 2:05PM EDT, Cubs at Astros: Milton Bradley has one hit in his last thirteen at-bats. If you selected him in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft thinking he'd be a value pick, you were wrong. The Astros are sending the bloated corpse of Russ Ortiz out to the mound. What is this, 2002?

  • 3:35PM EDT, Twins at Athletics: Nick Blackburn is going to Nickgasm all over the A's lineup. He's 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts, and looks to help the Twins take three out of four from a previously hot hot hot Oakland team. Twins OF Denard Span has also been experiencing dizziness lately. SOMEONE CHECK HIS CHOLESTEROL MEDS, STAT.

  • 3:40PM EDT, Giants at Diamondbacks: It's Jonathan Sanchez versus Max Scherzer as San Francisco seeks out the series sweep in Arizona. With a 12-21 home record, the D-Backs just don't like staying in their own beds, they're adventurers! Give them a passport and a ticket outta town, Stephen Drew's loafers were made for walking!

  • 4:35PM EDT, Reds at Nationals: When their game ended around 1AM last night, there were just a handful of fans left in the stands at Nationals Park, but our favorite Nats blogger Screech's Best Friend was there to witness the proceedings. THE FINEST ASPECT OF THE TWO HOUR RAIN DELAY IS THE VALUE RECEIVED FOR SITTING CLOSE ENOUGH TO HEAR MANNY ACTA CUT A GASSER.
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Walkoff Walk is nothing if we're not a clearinghouse for meaningless statistics. Time for an update on Sports Illustrated scribe Selena Roberts book sales, or Value Over Replacement Attack Tome (VORAT). Here's the AP story with the sorry news, via the BBTF Newsblog:

Just a month after making headlines with its allegations that the New York Yankees star likely used steroids as far back as high school, Selena Roberts' "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" has vanished from best seller lists.

Published in early May by HarperCollins with an announced first printing of 150,000, "A-Rod" has sold just 16,000 copies so far, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 75 percent of industry sales. The book sold 11,000 in its first week, then quickly faded.

At the Rizzoli Bookstore in midtown Manhattan, "A-Rod" has sold two copies. Twenty-seven copies have sold at Posman Books, based in Grand Central Terminal, but none in the past two weeks.

Looks like Selena disclosed all the juiciest bits of her tale way too soon. Her smear job on A-Rod had its interesting parts, but they were either revealed months too soon (steroids in high school) or poorly researched and barely fact-checked (that tipping pitches nonsense). Of course, we could pin the lack of sales on the recession with folks not buying books for pleasure much anymore, or the fact that most mouth-breathing A-Rod critics can't actually read, but I'd be far happier picturing HarperCollins forcing Selena Roberts to write fluff books about famous Olympians to pay off her debts to the company.

Meanwhile, "The Yankee Years", the Tom Verducci rag where Joe Torre burns all his bridges and bitches about his former employers and co-workers, is sitting on the back of every guido's toilet in Staten Island.

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Hey, did you hear? The Mariners drafted a switch-hitting second baseman out of Baylor named Shaver Hansen and it turns out his dad is Stan "The Lariat" Hansen, a retired professional wrestler with the WWF! Naturally. Only a former pro wrestler would name his kid Shaver. It figures that something like this would go down while our resident fake sports expert Kris Liakos is off trekking through the mud at Bonnaroo. Let me muddle through this nonsense myself and figure this thing out.

Via the bastion of pro wrestling 'facts', aka Wikipedia:

Stan Hansen began his wrestling career in 1973 for his hometown promotion in Amarillo, Texas. He had initially taken up wrestling as a part-time job while trying for the Detroit Wheels, but he began wrestling full-time with the team's folding. Hansen first teamed with future partner Frank Goodish (who later became Bruiser Brody) in 1975 while in Leroy McGuirk's Tri-State territory.

He wrestled in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in the late 1970s, and achieved his first amount of infamy there by breaking Bruno Sammartino's neck; it was from this incident that both Hansen and promoters claimed enormous power for his Lariat move, although a botched bodyslam caused Bruno's broken neck.

Half the words in those paragraphs mean nothing to me. Really, it's like I'm reading German. Here's a video of Hansen and Sammartino sticking to the script and fake grappling:


Christ, it's like watching walruses mate.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I had no place for you to go:

Note: today and tomorrow I'll be the guest writer for Morning Juice over at Big League Stew. Here's a sneak peak of the thrilling recaps but check out the Juice to read the brilliant comments:

Pirates 3, Braves 2: Jeff Karstens nearly pitched a perfect game the last time Walkoff Walk did fill-in duty for the Juice. Last night, Karstens did his own fill-in duty, coming into the game in the second inning to replace Charlie Morton and his balky hamstring. Karstens picked up the W and was serviceable, especially considering he'd already lost two games in the past six days and was sentenced to the 'pen.

Mariners 4, Orioles 1: Two things you can be sure of when Felix Hernandez and the Mariners visit Camden Yards. One, the team will turn up their nose at Maryland crabs (miss U, Dungeness) and two, King Felix will win. Fella improved to 4-0 lifetime in Baltimore with seven tidy innings and some support from teammate Jose Lopez' pair of homers.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 5: Kevin Youkilis' fourth inning homer off reliever Phil Hughes proved to be the game-winner but Chien-Ming Wang took the loss. This game featured twelve extra-base hits including five home runs and yet folks are still whining about the dingers flying out of New Yankee Stadium. It's about time we tore down the Green Monster and extended left field onto I-90.

Phillies 5, Mets 4 (11): This one went to eleven. Seriously, it went eleven innings, and it ended at 11PM EDT. Also, eleven is the difference between the number of runners the Mets left on base (16) and the runners that the Phils stranded (5). Yes, Cole Hamels and the Phils relief corps put twenty gentleMets on base but only four scored. Chase Utley's homer in the eleventh was not of the walkoff varietal yet thousands of dejected Mets fans started their walk of shame back to their cars immediately after it cleared the fence.

Royals 9, Indians 0: Gil Meche needs to give his precious right arm a little bit more credit. Fella struck out 11 Indians batters over seven shutout innings despite claiming his prep work was sloppy and erratic, like a bleary-eyed line cook with a sangria hangover:

"I felt absolutely horrible warming up in the bullpen," Meche said. "It's weird. I just went out and tried to attack the (strike) zone and things fell in place."

Just keep going out there and preparing poorly, Gil. It seems to work for you.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, don't you take it too bad.

That's it for me this week. I'm about to hop in an RV and drive overnight to Manchester, TN for yet another Bonnaroo. They really sneak up on you. Play the "What Sets Is Kris Going To" game in the comments if you want. You're in the always capable hands of Rob and our other friends. In fact, I even see a Matt Sussman liveblog in your near future.

So until I come back dirty and farmer tanned on Monday, keep it locked. Same WoW Channel.

(Picture stolen from deleteyourself.)

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After Alex Rios got caught on video cursing out an autograph hound outside a charity event, Rios had no choice but to issue a public apology, saying "It was something I should never have done. It was a bad reaction from my side." All is well, right? Not in Blue Jay land. From Richard Griffin's latest mail bag at The Star:

Q: Hi Richard,

Can you please tell me what is happening with Alex Rios? First he is struggling then he embarrasses the fans and club by having an exchange with a fan. He has too much talent and I think brains to be caught up with the fans that help pay his salary. I can understand the frustrations but answer them back on the field with your play.

Bahama Tonn, Bahamas

A: I agree with you. That was an embarrassment that would not have happened with a mentor like Carlos Delgado still on the team for the young players, especially the Latin kids. Earlier in the day of the incident, Rios had struck out five times and was still stinging from the crowd reaction and the personal failure. But when you attend a charity event, you have to expect autograph seekers and interaction with fans, some of whom enjoy disrespecting players in ways that would not normally happen in normal social situations. But the Jays did not do enough.

Bahama Tonn (if there really is a Bahama Tonn) set up Griffin with a softball of a question but Richard fouled if off his foot, which is probably jammed right in his mouth right now. Implying that Alex Rios needs guidance from Carlos Delgado simply because of their shared Puerto Rican heritage is simply wrong and borders on racism. I've never had the opportunity to interview either Delgado or Rios so I can't be sure what either of their demeanor indicates, but I was taught in elementary school that any person from any race or any religion or any creed can be a total asshole. Not just the Latinos!

Rios can be criticized for his poor performance or his inability to drive in the runner from third with one out, but for Blue Jays fans and columnists to single Rios out for an outlying incident that just happened to be caught on tape is questionable. After all, Alex Rios didn't lose his temper because he was Puerto Rican and Alex Rios doesn't need to be sat down by a veteran Puerto Rican player to calm his nerves.

Alex Rios lashed out because he is an elite athlete who had a terrible day, just like the time I got caught on video berating a Starbucks barista for not properly foaming my soy milk on the day I lost the big-time Stevens account at the office. I obviously needed more guidance from an old Italian stereotype.

Manny Ramirez Hasn't Killed Anyone... Yet

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When you think moral relativism you usually think of Gilbert Harman. Amirite? Well move over Gilby, there's a new philosopher on the block. Suspended slugger Manny Ramirez is a fan of both that slippery ethical slope and the pop in. He surprised teammates pregame yesterday by stopping in to say hello. it was the first time he'd visited the locker room since his 50 game ban. And he spoke from on high. And it was good.

"I don't want to be a distraction for this team," Ramirez said. "What happened, happened. I spoke to (owner) Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I'm ready to move on.

"I didn't kill nobody, I didn't rape nobody, so that's it, I'm just going to come and play the game."

Boy do I have egg on my face. When the news of his steroid suspension broke I called everyone I knew saying that "Manny tested positive for PEDs, rape and homicide." I'm glad Manny is using relativism to feel better about his suspension but you know, even if he had raped someone he could have still come back and "played the game." Just look at the NBA Finals.

Manny also told the media that sometimes he calls up old teammates like James Loney "to say hi." Which I find very endearing and envious of. I want Manny to call me up and be like, "Hey man. Whatcha dooooooooiiiiin? Oh me, not nothing. I've been wicked good today mang, haven't committed any genocide. Wanna go get candy? Ok see you."

But he probably never will.

Do You Even Need A Reason To Fight AJ Pierzynski?

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Last night's Tigers/Whites Sox was a real good one. Paul Konerko's two run double in the 9th forced extra innings, but then Miguel Cabrera's 10th inning tater tot gave Detroit the 7-6 victory. Thrilling, right? Well, who cares about all that. There was a fight! And no one understands why it happened. Those are the best kind. Take it from noted peacemaker, AJ Pierzynski.

Tigers players have been extra protective of their pitcher and his "anxiety problems,'' so when Pierzynski said "Hey'' to Willis after making an out, it hit the fan.

"They thought there was something there, there was nothing there,'' Pierzynski said. "They were being protective of him. I said, 'Hey,' to [Willis] and they went crazy, I don't know. I said, 'Hey,' and then he said 'Hey,' and next thing I know the benches were empty and all hell was breaking loose. I don't have any problem with anyone on their team. "If anybody else would have said anything it probably wouldn't have been a good deal, but once again I'm in the middle of a crock of [crap], so whatever.''

Coincidentally the "Crock of Crap" is also what they call the French Onion Soup at TGIFridays. HEY NOW!

Pierzynski playing the "I don't know why everyone picks on me" card would be infuriating if it weren't so laughable. His brawl with Michael Barrett a couple years back took on must see status simply because every baseball fan in America wanted to see him get his lights turned out. Not to mention, "Hey" can be very inflammatory. Just the other day Rob said it to me in the WoW Cafeteria and I just frigging leveled him with my lunch tray. He had it coming. You just don't talk like that.

And what's with Joe Cowley, the Sun Times reporter that wrote this, putting anxiety disorder in quotes? You a doctor now Joe? I sure as hell doubt that, otherwise you'd jump the sinking ship of journalism and start your own private practice. Leave the diagnoses to the pros there, Quincy.

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Notice something missing from the first year player draft last night? Players! Every big time prospect was invited to attend the MLB Draft last night. High school outfielder Mike Trout out of Millville, NJ was the only one to accept and was eventually showered with praise from the gathered media storm inside the MLB Network studios. After sitting on his hands in the faux dugout of Studio 42 for two hours, Trout was finally selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim at pick number 25 and became the only player on the night lucky enough to shake hands with an actual vampire.

Immediately after the pick, Harold Reynolds singled Mike out and saluted him for being the only prospect brave enough to show up, despite the fact that many of the amateurs are still actively participating in the College World Series. In his words, when prompted by Victor Rojas for final thoughts from the first round:

"The moment I'll always remember was Mike Trout. That was the moment I'll always remember. The draft is for the kids. They need to be here."

But really, with the MLB Studios just a two hour drive up the New Jersey Turnpike, why is this a surprise? Was MLB footing the bill for prospects to attend the draft, flying in the top guys from all around the country? Doubtful. Maybe Harold Reynolds should personally invite the kids next year and put 'em up in the Royal Motel and take 'em out to the local Boston Market.

Yes, encouraging more players to show up for the draft will improve the drama during the show, but these are mostly high school kids with a non-existent Q-rating. The MLB Draft will never approach the televised excitement of the NBA or NFL amateur drafts only because amateur baseball, unlike college football or college basketball, is not a cash cow in this country. Besides, being drafted in baseball does not automatically thrust a player into the spotlight. It might be years before a drafted player makes it to the bigs, unlike football or basketball without their own minor league systems.

Even the most ardent baseball fans just aren't aware of the young'uns and won't need to be aware for years to come, so throwing the unknowns on cable TV won't necessarily make folks switch away from I Love the 70s on VH1. So kudos to Mike Trout for showing up in Secaucus, but it's going to be a while before we see you again on the telly. If at all.

It's been a rough few weeks since Giants closer Brian Wilson shut down his bizarrely awesome Twitter feed. We'll never know if Brian organized that '80s night at AT&T Park and pulled his Reebok pumps out of storage, or if he convinced Randy Johnson that white mocha frappucinos are truly the nectar of the gods.

But cheer up, fans of the bizarre! Brian Wilson is back in the spotlight with a dadgum reality TV show on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. The cleverly dubbed "Life of Brian" is a far better way to get a dose of relief pitcher wackiness with a touch of serial killer creepiness. Via Diamond Leung's Diamond Notes, we bring you clips:

Brian Talks about Visiting Shamu's Sister Shampoo at Sea World:


Five Things About Brian Wilson:


Brian Gets a Case of the Late Night Hotel Munchies:


Okay, now all that self-levitation nonsense is beginning to make some more sense. I can't imagine the Phillies bullpen reality show (premiering Sunday!) can even approach the kookiness of #38.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Lucky One

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I got loaded in a hearse:

Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Need a quick 'n' easy way to halt a five game losing streak? Send your most inexperienced pitcher to the mound against the Seattle Mariners for the second time in less than a week! The O's did just that as rookie Brad Bergesen hurled eight innings of five-hit, one-run, two-hour and nineteen minute ball, just a week after allowing just two runs in seven innings in Seattle. Tidy! Fellow rookie Nolan Reimold tallied a tater tot.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 3: If Jeremy Hermida clobbers a walkoff homer off Jason Motte to lead the Marlins to a win in front of a sparse crowd at Land Shark Stadium, did it really happen? Prior to the Hermidaheroics, Josh Johnson gave up three runs in seven while Chris Carpenter allowed three runs in his six innings, raising his ERA a half a run, all the way to 1.29. Marlins catcher John Baker had to leave the game after feeling the nasty side of an Albert Pujols backswing. Yeah, the bat part. Ouch.

Angels 4, Rays 3: Down one run and facing Angelheim closer Brian Fuentes, the Rays got the leadoff runner on base in the ninth on a Joe Dillon walk but couldn't bring him around. B.J. Upton struck out on a questionable strike and fussed over the call, leading to his ejection and Carl Crawford grounded into the game ending double play, preserving Jered Weaver's win, his sixth on the year. Ben Zobrist homered again. He's obviously high on Rays magic.

Mets 6, Phillies 5: I didn't watch this game but I didn't need to. You Phillies and Mets fans on Twitter kept me abreast of the goings on that included seven tater tots, three by the Mets and four off of Johan Santana, just the second time the ace has given up four dongs in one night. Johan made up for it with a game-tying ribbie dubble in the sixth; Ryan Church's seventh inning dong landed in the apple and proved to be the game wiener. Four homers off the best pitcher in the NL and you still lose: HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS PHILLIES FANS?

Red Sox 7, Yankees 0: Gack. Ick. Ooph.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you're on the clock

  • MIGHT the Xtreme Depression and the money-scrimping ways of baseball owners nix the million dollar dreams of Stephen Strasburg and his ilk?

  • WHO will the Mariners take with the second pick after Strasburg goes at number one? Hot UNC hitter Dustin Ackley is already checking out lofts in Belltown.

  • WILL Tommy Lasorda fall asleep face first into his manicotti tonight? He's one of the telegenic team reps in Studio 42 in Secaucus.

  • CAN you believe it's already time for the Mets and Phillies to scrap again? Johan Santana is ready to rumble and undefeated against the Phils in his career.

  • IS Matt Cain ready for his closeup? Fella goes for his eighth win of the year in Arizona, where former D-Back Randy Johnson will be honored with a touching video tribute tonight.

That's it for our coverage today. Please get home quickly and watch the MLB Draft on the MLB Network. If you can't watch, then check out some livebloggery goodness at some of our favorite places, like Big League Stew, Baseball Analysts, or The Biz of Baseball. I'd follow along with you but my condo association is electing new board members and I'm going to attend incognito.

We'll be back around in the morning to try and identify all these consarned kids on our lawn. Same WoW channel.

(Photo courtesy of MLB.com)

Series Of The Midweek: Yankees at Red Sox

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So the Sox have won five in a row against the Yankees thus far this year. But it isn't just media hype that "this is a different Yankee team" this time around. Teixeira hadn't had his A-Rod bounce in any of the previous five games. The Sabathia/Burnett monster is starting to rub the sleep and money out of its eyes and in a more ephemeral sense there is definitely a feeling of "momentum" in this Yankees team. Here are your pitching matchups.

  • Tonight: Burnett vs. Beckett
  • Tomorrow: WANG vs. Wakefield
  • Thursday: Sabathia vs. Penny

If Rob and I had a better sense of "the moment" we would have pitted Beckett vs. Burnett in our second friendly wager. They have history, they're more similar as pitchers and they're way more intense. Also, I wouldn't be losing.

The Yankees will definitely score 15 runs off of Wakefield tomorrow night. Luckily Wang is nowhere near out of the woods yet. It would have been fun to see him face off against Matsuzaka. Thursday is a long way away and I'll be at Bonnaroo.

There is no such thing as a critical series in June. Especially in the AL East. But you have to be looking forward to this one only because the Yankees won't have any pussy excuses. GO TEAM WITH THE FOURTH HIGHEST PAYROLL.

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Looks like all the irritated Phillies fans will get to see what kind of damage Ryan Madson can do with save opportunities. Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who has already amassed six blown saves in 2009, has been sent to the Creampuff list:

Right-hander Brad Lidge was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, retroactive to June 7, the Phillies announced today. To take his spot on the 25-man roster, the Phillies selected the contract of catcher Paul Bako from double-A Reading.

Lidge, 32, is 0-3 this season with 13 saves and a 7.27 ERA in 28 relief appearances. Opponents have hit .306 against him. In his last seven games, Lidge was 5-for-7 in save opportunities with a 1.42 ERA and a .182 opponents' batting average.

Is the balky knee the reason for Lidge's lack of success this year? After all, fella didn't blow a save at all last year. But he's always been the type of pitcher to walk guys and give up tater tots. Perhaps the problem is all in his head, sort of a social anxiety disorder that plagued Khalil Greene. Because yes, I am a certified psychologist with an absolute grip on human behaviors.

Which begs the question: HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, PHILLIES FANS?

The Tao Of Dusty Baker: June

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You kids have been good lately and I'd like to reward you with a pot of sweet meats. Specifically, it's time for The Tao Of Dusty Baker. The Reds' relative, but diminishing, success in the NL Central hasn't changed The Duster (huff huff) one bit. He still drops knowledge with the same bewitching mixture of obviousness, oldness and profundity. OUt of context quotes from Dusty via the inimitable John Fay. DIG IT BAKEHEADS:

  • "You scout ability and you scout character as well when you're trying to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. We have a lot of homegrown talent. We injected quality guys from the outside to go along with homegrown talent."

Translation: We have baseball players on our baseball team.

  • "I'm very happy here," Baker said. "I plan on being here for a while - if they'll have me for a while. Things change quickly. You've got to stay on top of your game, tighten up your game and keep it tight - without making your players tight."

Translation: There are times in a man's life when he faces uncertainty. Hell, Sartre might have said that's all he ever faces. But if Sartre was around today he'd say: 'Screw it. Keep em loose.'

  • "Well, it's not bad news. It's the best news it could be for bad news."

Translation: Relativity shouldn't even be a word. We should just accept it as reality.

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It's no secret that Chipper Jones loved hitting at the Mets old digs, even going so far to name his (unlucky) kid "Shea". Clever! No wonder, he slugged 19 tater tots at Shea Stadium, more than any other non-Atlanta park. Still, Chipper obviously never actually sat in the stands or tried to park anywhere except the players lot. That place was a dump!

Here's what our old pal Chipper Jones had to say about the Mets new joint, CitiField, during an interview on Sirius/XM Radio's Ripken Baseball program:

"It is the biggest park that I have ever played in in my life. It is a huge ballpark to center and right center and right field. You know, I actually feel sort of sorry for some of the guys out there because their power numbers are really going to take a hit; guys like David Wright, [Carlos] Beltran, [Carlos] Delgado. The days of them hitting 35, 40 homers -- they're over."

"(Last month during the Braves-Mets series) I juiced the ball just right of center field as hard as the good Lord can let me hit a ball, and it hit midways up the center-field wall for a double. And every time there was a long fly out or a double that hit off the wall or something, David Wright would run by me and go, 'Nice park.'"

First of all, Chipper, the good Lord isn't helping you hit the ball that far, that's done with the help of Jobu. But he's right about David Wright struggling at the new digs. NY Sports Dog dug up the stats, and it turns out the splits are quite telling. David's having a great year, ranking second in the National League in on-base percentage but he's hitting .271 with a .785 OPS at home against .413 with a 1.090 OPS on the road. He's slugging just .427 at home with only eight extra base hits as opposed to .567 with 14 extra base hits on the road.

Shea Stadium used to play as a pitchers park too, yet Wright slugged .555 there in his career and OPS'ed .958. There's just something about CitiField that leaves a bad taste in David Wright's mouth. Maybe he just needs to try the pork tacos.

(Via the good folks at BBTF Newsblog)

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For real, folks. Head over to our show page at BlogTalkRadio and listen up to our raucous show from last night. It's online, it's free, it's available at iTunes, it's your chance to hear Kris read aloud the definition of a Chicago Dog straight from Wikipedia, and it's your opportunity to learn how each of us votes for the All Star Game.

And yes, I endorse voting for Manny Ramirez over one of the current leaders in the NL outfield voting. So sue me.

The song featured at the end of the podcast is "How to Rent a Room" by the Silver Jews, available for free download over at the Free Music Archive.

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It's here! It's here! The 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft is finally here! Break out your scouting notebooks and fire up your Twitter feeds, the draft drops officially at 6PM EDT, and I'm here to break down ten of the top prospects for you. However, I'm learning as I write, so don't expect any insight or clever predictions. Unlike college football or college basketball, I don't consume any amateur baseball so my knowledge base is zero.

If you want professional analysis, go scurry behind the paywall at Keith Law's TWWL blog or skidoodle over to Baseball Prospectus. They're paid to know the business. I'm not paid to know nothing. It's a solid business plan!

Onto the strapping young men:

  1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State: Will absolutely, positively be drafted by the Nationals at #1. I know because dummy former Nats GM Jim Bowden told me so. Is a Scott Boras client. Even one time "greatest prospect ever" Ben McDonald thinks Strasburg is a can't miss despite the fact that UVa beat him up in the College World Series.

  2. Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats: Was drafted by the Nats out of Mizzou last year but failed to sign because, well, he's a Scott Boras client. Signed with the independent Fort Worth Cats which served as a stopover for other failed signees like Luke Hochevar and Max Scherzer. Fella was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA in May for the Cats, which is equivalent to going 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA if he was pitching against the Nationals lineup. Could end up a Mariner, forcing Geoff Baker to come up with clever crow puns for blog headlines.

  3. Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF, North Carolina: Supposedly the number one hitting prospect in the draft, which could also tempt the Mariners in the #2 slot. Led the ACC this year in OPS at 1.264. He's a Cackalacky boy through and through, and his dad John was drafted by the Red Sox back in 1979.

  4. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt: There is no such thing as a pitching prospect. That means that if you're gonna draft one pitcher, you better draft a bunch of pitchers. And never let them get worked out by Dusty Baker. Minor was drafted in 2005 by the Devil Rays but chose the four-year college life in the SEC instead. Do you blame him? Could end up with the Padres, or the Pirates, or pretty much any pitching-starved team.

  5. Zack Wheeler, RHP, HS (Georgia): I'm not going to go around naming high schools because (a) it doesn't matter and (b) there's a restraining order that prevents me from doing so. Wheeler threw a HS playoff no-hitter and was interviewed by Sky Andrecheck at Baseball Analysts and claims that the Pirates, the Orioles, the Giants, and Braves are interested in him. Frank Wren leaves no stone unturned in Georgia, y'all!

  6. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints: Has been drafted twice already, first as a high school grad by the Orioles in 2005 when he chose to attend Fresno State instead. The lusty Sierra Nevadas over the dirty streets of Balty-more? Yes, please. Was highly rated in last year's draft until injuring his shoulder and eventually dropped to the Pirates in the second round, then chose to play with the independent Saints. Could end up anywhere in the mid-first round this year which will prove to be a tidy increase in signing bonus, despite the Xtreme Depression.

  7. Michael Trout, OF, HS (New Jersey): He's from South Jersey so he runs in a different crowd and speaks with a different accent than me. Hit .500 in his senior year, has retained the same agent as Brett Myers, and his dad played for four years in the Twins organization under the tutelage of Charlie Manuel. What does this all mean? Nothing, except that he totally glides his dipthongs.

  8. Matthew Purke, LHP, HS (Texas): Was the cover boy on ESPN RISE Magazine, which purports to 'celebrate high school athletes'. If you thought teenagers were safe from being monetized by TWWL, you were downright mistaken. Speaking of cold hard cash, Purke wants Porcello-style money, so he'll probably fall to the bottom of the first round, perhaps to the Yankees?

  9. Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana University: At six-foot-five, he walked on to the IU basketball team under coach Tom Crean and got in terrific shape for baseball season. All those suicides really help out your plant leg as a pitcher, or something. I'm not a physiologist, people. Threw a complete game last month but tallied 141 pitches so he'll fit in great in the Reds system.

  10. A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame: Worked out with the Nats last Saturday. Is projected by some to go to the Cubs. Is an economic and versatile alternative to codfish. If he gets taken by the Diamondbacks, would start his minor league career with the South Bend Silver Hawks and keep dipping his pen in the college girl inkwell.

Last year, we liveglogged the undertakings for you. It was fun, and I learned a bunch about the players. Two players from that draft have already made the big leagues, Mark Schlereth's son Daniel as a reliever for the D-Backs and Gordon Beckham as a shortstop for the Fightin' Ozzies. This year with the draft moving to (almost) primetime on the MLB Network, we'll throw open the commenting doors to Tonight's Questions, but no liveglog.

In conclusion, I hope your preferred team consummates its financial relationship with its first draft pick in a tidy and efficient manner.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when no one posted your bail:

Marlins 4, Giants 0: On a day when I used the term 'pitching poor' to describe his team, young Florida starter Sean West kicked my teeth in and hurled eight scoreless innings in which he allowed but three baserunners. Fella even took a no-hitter into the seventh, then took a young lady out for malteds. Brett Carroll hit his first career ding-dong which prompted this note from the AP: "A fan with a glove caught Carroll's homer on the fly." This is newsworthy because Land Shark Stadium's outfield seats are usually as empty as Randy Johnson's heart.

White Sox 6, Tigers 1 (Game 2): The ChiSox took the nightcap of the doubleheader behind the pitching prowess of Jose Contreras and his first victory of 2009. Fella went eight scoreless frames in which he allowed but one hit. He outdueled Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman, making his first appearance in over a year after having a blood clot fixed in his arm. He gave up three homers, eight hits, and six runs in four innings and is considering taking another year off to rehab his sadness.

Yankees 5, Rays 3: Mariano Rivera will never die, he'll just return to his home planet one day and leave behind a time capsule that contains the secret to pitching. Here's a hint: throw the high hard one on an 0-and-2 count. It gets 'em every time, just like it got B.J. Upton to strike out swinging on the final pitch of this affair. The Yankees scored all five of their runs on homers for two reasons: (a) Yankee Stadium has a short right field fence (b) Yankees players are good at hitting homers.

Blue Jays 6, Rangers 3: I tried to warn you about Adam Lind. You wouldn't listen. Now here's your comeuppance. Fella clobbered two tater tots to lead the Jays to their first road win since May 10th. These guys just prefer to play in the friendly confines of Canadia Telecom Concern Terrordome, do you blame them? Somehow, Lyle Overbay hit safely in his 14th straight game and won the AL player of the week award.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I mean it.

Today has ended: Stay on the path of righteousness. Tomorrow: Same WoW Channel.

Twitter Calls Tony LaRussa Frivolous; We Agree

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Those geniuses at Twitter took a break from turning America's short attention span into a damned Nigerian diamond mine to say that Tony LaRussa's people are big fat liars and they definitely aren't settling his lawsuit. They go even further by calling into question the ethics behind filing such a dumb lawsuit. Just like I did. From the Twitter editorial blog.

Reports this week that Twitter has settled a law suit and officially agreed to pay legal fees for an impersonation complaint that was taken care of by our support staff in accordance with our Terms are erroneous. Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay.

With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous. Twitter's Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in a court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa's lawsuit.

Boom, rationalism. Twitter says what everyone knew. LaRussa told them to take the fake account out and they did. I'm no internet law scholar, but I don't know that there's any precedent in Twitter even having to do that. Him going to court with it was exactly what we called it: overmanaging. Good for Twitter not settling, now it's time for LaRussa just to pull the suit before going through the embarassment of having a judge throw it out for him.

Alone With Everybody: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 2:05, Tigers at White Sox: Berry berry big series. The White Sox are skidding again, having lost 5 of 7. Sitting 4.5 games behind the Tigers, they need to put the breaks on soon. If they don't at least take rubber in this three five (!) game tilt (today is a double header) Ozzie may be knocking out with the vodka bottle sooner than he thinks. The very shaky Armando Gallaraga goes for Detroit against Chicago's Clayton Richard. CAMP SNOOPY Y'ALL.

  • 2:15, Rockies at Cardinals: Big huge four game broom in play. The Cardinals pitching was keeping them near the top of the NL Central despite a weak offense. Things changed this weekend however as the Rockies scored 28 runs in the first 3 games of this series. DAMN COLORADO AIR M... oh oops. The Cards are at home. Prodigal son Jason Marquis goes for the Rockies, Brad "Shorts" Thompson goes for STL.
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Tomorrow night is the Draft for our friends in MLB. The Mets actually had you pretty high up on the board until you lost your amateur status by letting your friend hit you in the stomach with a metal bat for beer money. But if you're like most other baseball fans you'll still have your eye on the proceedings. See, thanks to the internet, and its specialization and range of coverage, you now think you're a damned expert when it comes to young talent. Even Theo Epstein has had enough of your big mouth.

The Internet allows fans to track how players are doing. And now that the Red Sox have three farm teams within easy driving distance of Boston - the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, Double-A Portland Sea Dogs and short-season Singl-A Lowell Spinners - fans can get in the car and go on scouting missions.

"Five or six years ago, the fan on the street wanted to tell you what superstar you should go trade for, using all your prospects," Epstein said. "And a couple of years ago, they started telling you what prospects you should promote from Double A to Triple A to the big leagues.

"Now," he said, "they want to tell you who to draft."

Holding on to young prospects in lieu of an over the hill big name can often be sound thinking. But just having more information doesn't necessarily make you smarter. Baseball fans with recent interest in the minor leagues and the amateur system are like people when they first start getting into wine. Just because you've heard of a certain exotic vintage doesn't make it good. And just because you've read about some kid on the internet that hit .588 at Wake Forest in his junior season doesn't make him the saving grace for your favorite team.

Take for example, the case of Gordon Beckham. Beckham was the White Sox' first round pick last season, and after just 59 pro games he'll be making his big league debut for the White Sox this evening three days ago. Chicago fans were clamoring to see him with the big club, and they got their wish. It all has left Ozzie Guillen wondering "Who the hell cares about Gordon Beckham?"

Manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't pulling many punches on Monday when the topic of the "golden child'' were brought up.

"The last thing we worry about is [Gordon] Beckham, and I don't know why people in Chicago fell in love with this kid,'' Guillen said in his pre-game media gathering. "He's a great player, he's going to be in the big leagues, he's going to be a big part of this organization pretty soon. But we don't have Beckham on our mind right now. I don't and I'm the one making the lineup. If we have Beckham here, we're in trouble.''

"I hope I can sleep [Wednesday night] and not think about it. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have some Vodka knock myself down,'' Guillen said, almost mocking the media hype surrounding the 22-year-old.

That attitude is actually one of the healthiest I've heard from Ozzie. Well except for the self-medication through alcohol.

Gordon Beckham aint saving the franchise. If they're calling up a minor leaguer before he reached certain organizational milestones, than Ozzie is right. It doesn't speak well for what's going on with the White Sox. It's hard to find fault in fans getting excited about players club but people need to temper their new found knowledge of names with some perspective.

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Hey, remember the glory days of the 1990s Braves? Remember Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine giving the opposition the old one-two-three punch on the rubber? Well with G.M. Frank "Birdman" Wren's sudden release of a rehabbing Glavine, those days are certainly over. Glavine's pissed, and he's thinking about how he can get back that tidy $1 million bonus he would have earned had he made the Braves roster. Hey, someone's gotta pay for the Flomax prescription:

Pitcher Tom Glavine is considering filing a grievance against the Atlanta Braves over his release Wednesday, as originally reported on FOX Saturday Baseball.

Glavine's agent, Gregg Clifton, has spoken with a labor attorney and the players' union about possibly filing the grievance, according to a major-league source.

Players cannot be released by their teams due to financial reasons, according to the collective-bargaining agreement. Glavine was set to receive a $1 million bonus once he made the major-league roster, another $1.25 million for 30 days on the roster and another $1.25 million for 90 days on the roster.

Glavine believes that by releasing him, the Braves freed up some cash to pay for newly acquired outfielder Nate McLouth, who was owed a bit over $1 million in prorated salary. Wren counters by saying that the team felt that going with young chap Tommy Hanson in the ML rotation was a sounder strategy.

Even Smoltz, currently working his way towards the Red Sox rotation, ripped the Braves for telling Glavine to hit the bricks.

"That's not how you treat people," Smoltz said after Boston's 10-5 victory over Detroit on Wednesday. "He didn't have a chance to fail at that level. ... That's not how you go about it. But they're in control. They make those decisions. They've made a lot of them lately."

No chance to fail at that level? Did you have a chance to glance at Tommy's stats from 2007 and 2008? It doesn't bode well for a 43-year-old coming off elbow and shoulder surgery. Still, this grievance is not about performance, it's about the money.

But whether or not Glavine and his agent can find a paper trail linking the funds in Wren's balance sheet, the chances of him winning a grievance are slim to nil. As a pinko liberal, I usually side with the worker over the corporation, but in this case, Wren has the upper hand. The Braves don't have to prove that their strategy of going with a younger pitcher was the best strategy. They're big boys. They can succeed or fail with whomever they want. How else would you explain Jeff Francouer?

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In baseball analysis, the battle between former big league players and stathead geeks who never played the game has been waged for years. The Joe Morgan versus Moneyball, Dusty Baker versus base-clogging, and Steve Phillips versus sanity debates barely skim the surface. The latest tussle is between the godfather of ESPN baseball bloggery Rob Neyer and ex-irascible Reds reliever, ex-ESPN analyst, and current color commentator for the miserable Washington Nationals, wacky Rob Dibble.

After Dibble called out home plate umpire Tim Timmons for calling questionable strikes in Randy Johnson's 300th victory, Neyer took to his blog to investigate. From the unfortunately-named blog Rob Neyer's Sweet Spot (seriously, I don't want to know anything about the taste of various Rob Neyer spots), here's Neyer discussing Dibble's role as TV color man:

Really, I just wanted an excuse to write about Rob Dibble. For years, I was less than a fan of his work at various networks. So you can imagine my shock, when I realized that I sort of like him in his current role with the Nationals. Yes, he's still a blowhard who believes that if you didn't play the game, you don't know anything about it. But he's got a good voice, he's quite a bit smarter than you probably think, and he's not been pulling his punches while the Nationals have become the biggest joke in the game.

Dibble was wrong about the pitch that preserved Randy Johnson's 300th win. But he's doing more right than I would have guessed.

That sounds pretty complimentary, no? Sure, Neyer starts the post out by correcting Dibble's critique of the umpire's inflated strike zone, but he backs up his point with facts: a pitch at Adam Dunn's knees is a strike, after all and Neyer links to the Pitch F/X graphics to prove it. Technology 1, Rob Dibble 0.

But the caveman that is Rob Dibble cannot comprehend such nerd-speak and lashes out on his Twitter feed, even getting in a shot at Neyer's colleague (and worldwide gourmand) Keith Law:

Its funny to have college drop out Rob Neyer transcribe MASN broadcasts, Hey Rob, I've got a leaky roof, can you come over and fix it? lol

The fact that Neyer and Keith Law have HOF votes proves writers should no longer have the right to vote....

That's funny, if Dibble had actually read Neyer's blog entry, he would have seen the link to Bugs N Cranks that shows someone else besides Neyer transcribed the broadcast. Also, the last time Rob Neyer was on a roof, it was to shout out that Mark Teahen was a golden god before diving head-first into Billy Beane's hot tub.

The coward Dibble has since deleted his tweets but the RSS feed persists:

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Once again, Rob Dibble has been trumped by technology.

(via Keith Law's Twitter)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when no one alerted you:

Blue Jays 4, Royals 0: Roy Halladay twirled a shutout and continued his campaign to earn his spot on the pitching mound in the first inning of the Midsummer Classic, all as his biggest rival watched from the opposing dugout. Zack Greinke, you had a nice run but Halladay's twelfth career shutout and 43rd career jeu complet proves that he's built to last. Fella even worked out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th by striking Miguel Olivo and eliminating Mitch Maier on a groundout. The Royals are now just a half a game better than the worst team in the AL.

Tigers 9, Angels 6: The Tigers bullpen finally met their match when it comes to screwing the pooch. The Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim now possess the single durst bullpen ERA in all of baseball and blew this rubber match in spectacular fashion. After the Angel offense took a one-run lead in the eighth, Jose Arredondo and Jason Bulger decided to give up walks and a Clete Thomas king dong to erase any bad feelings Tigers fans might have had about their own bullpen's failures. That's a kind move.

Athletics 3, Orioles 0: Eh, Vin Mazzaro. Eh Cumpari, ci vo sunari. Chi si sona? U friscalettu. E comu si sona u friscalettu? U friscalette, tipiti tipiti tam. The A's are the hottest team in baseball thanks to Mazzaro's seven and a third shutout innings and a tidy three-run rally in the first frame. The runs were scored on a bases-loaded walk, a bases-loaded HBP, and a bases-loaded groundout. Typical Oriole loss. That's a two hour and thirteen minute game and that's a sweep, people.

Giants 3, Marlins 2: There was a doubles party in Miami and everyone was invited, even Giants starter Tim Lincecum. Fella pitched into the eighth, earned the win, and joined five other teammates in smacking a lusty double. Lincecum survived an eighth inning tater tot by Father Chris Coghlan and had his soul saved by closer Brian Wilson. Smiles, everyone.

Mets 7, Nationals 0: Now we know why Omar Minaya was so hot-to-trot to sign Livan Hernandez. Fella won his seventh straight game against his former team, so Minaya has officially gotten his money's worth with his employment of the aging cheeseballer. Also, he needed a bridge partner who didn't mind cheating.

whalebaby.jpgEgads! They just keep playing baseball, don't they? Last night's games were a fine looking batch; I believe we'd look good side by side.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 2: Any chance these two teams could just keep playing? Andre Ethier sure does. Dude hit two homers including the game winner in the bottom of the 12th. Making Vin Scully work that much overtime just isn't fair. The Phils are still comfortably in first place thanks to the dominant pitching of John Lannan. A complete game with only an Elijah Dukes error-aided run. Adam Dunn homered to keep the dinger/win count in order. The Braves lost but Tommy Hanson's on the way!

Tigers 2, Angels 1: Raise your hand if you thought Edwin Jackson would ever amount to anything. Not so fast everyone who watches baseball. Jackson, once again, was superb in going the distance and walking only one batter. Jackon's more than doubled his career K/BB rate from 1.50 to an astounding 3.26 in 2009. He's a sensitive soul that just needed someone to believe in him. Lost in Jackson's brilliance was the return of Kelvim Escobar. Escobar pitching 5 innings, walking 4 but only surrendering two runs. Not bad for his first start since Sept 2007. The White Sox won behind Gavin Floyd's fourth consecutive decent outing. That should distract from his profound awfulness in the previous 4.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: Bonus baseball in the Queen City. Not THAT Queen City, the one by the river. The Reds put runners on the corners with only one out With thoughts of shrimp dancing through their heads, the Reds instead opted for the nearly-as-anticlimactic "walkoff fielder's choice." Youngish Matt Maloney made his big league debut in his home state and pitched pretty well against the big bad Cubbies. The Brewers have petitioned the National League for a move into the NL East. The Crew shut the Braves out for the second straight day, this time allowing 7 total hits. Two big veggie-eating home runs from the Prince were all it took. The Pirates bested the Astros in a game I watched two innings of. My observations: Nyjer Morgan's stirrups are a beautiful thing

Uh. And Another One. The Rays and Yankees played a pretty typical Yankee Stadium game of Base Warz with Mo Rivera taking the loss. The Oakland A's took exception to my Giants praise from yesterday so the Elephants wrestled the "Hottest Team in Baseball" title away with another drubbing of the OriLOLes. The Mariners kept Joe Mauer hitless in beating the Twins. I bet there's a relationship there...

And Today! Too much good pitching for me not to mention today's matchups as I head out to view the house I apparently bought. Matt_Tommy Hanson's big league debut comes against WoW favorite Manny Parra and the Brewers. Kid Presentable Rick Porcello takes on Joe Saunders in my Secret Duel of the Day. Roy Halladay pitches against cell-based lifeforms in the mismatch of the day. Timmy Timmy Timmy versus Ricky Ricky Ricky has a nice ring to it by the Bay. Joba looks to build on his strong outing during the week when he faces the Gecko and the Rays in New YoMOVE JOBA BACK TO DA PEN!! ESPN picked a good series to feature tonight, with Randy Wolf taking on Antonio "Bastardo of Metallica lyrics stuck in my head." Thanks kids. Have a good Sunday!

treebaby.pngWhat happened last night in baseball while you attempted to justify what you live for.

Dodgers 4, Phillies 3: Just when you think Brad Lidge is back on track after a shaky start to the season, he goes and blows one against the Dodgers. Not that he didn't have some help, mind you. Lidge got the first two outs in short order before a single and a walk made things interesting. Pedro Feliz booted a game-ending ground ball to load the bases for Andre Eithier, who doubled home the winning, unearned runs. Lost in all this booting was a solid effort by baseball's other septuagenarian Jamie Moyer. Is Moyer a Hall of Famer? If they build a Hall of Sticktoitiveness and Saggy Old Man Ass; he's a lock. The Mets won too! David Wright went 4 for 5 though the Mets should be punished for only scoring 1 run in regulation against Nationals pitching. Welcome to Atlanta Nate McLouth! Your new team sucks too. Two hits is all the Bravos could muster off secret ace Yovanni Gallardo. Nate went oh fer at the plate though he's still batting 1.000 in his former teammates' hearts.

Rangers 5, Red Sox 1: With trade winds and buyer beware warnings swirling around Sox starter Brad Penny, he went out and showed any potential trading partner exactly what they're getting. A greasy fifth starter that pounds the fastball and hopes for the best. That won't exactly cut it against the big dicked Rangers. Ian Kinsler delivered the decisive blow early on with a three run tot. Kevin Millwood pitched well at Fenway once again, he's 5-1 there for his career. A sad day for bloggers everywhere as Ichiro's hitting steak stalled at 27. The Twins outlasted the M's in an extra innings pitcher's duel eventually undone by errors and calamity. Mike Sweeney homered and I giggled like a little girl. More pitching in Detroit with the Angels coming out on top. Justin Verlander and Ervin Santana matched fastballs for 8 innings before the Angels broke though against Tigers' closer Fernando Rodney. Lots of 2-1 games last night.

Astros 9, PIrates 1: No fair! Picking on the grieving widows of the NL Central like that! The Astros used a 7 run sixth inning to blast the Pirates to pieces. Carlos Lee's tetra tot did most of the heavy lifting. Mike Hampton is very quietly 4-4, which is to say Mike Hampton has very quietly made at least 8 starts. He pitched 7 strong last night and chipped in a ribbie. Usually, you can assume a 2-1 game was a well-pitched affair. You obviously don't know much about the National League Central! The Big Crazy Z pitched 6.2 long innings, striking out 7 but walking 5. His opposite number Micah Owings pitched 6 full while walking only three. He didn't hit a home run so nobody cares. The Cubs move into a tie with the Reds for third place in the division. Scary.

Everywhere else: The slumping Blue Jays beat on Zack "The Zombie" Greinke unlike any team in 2009, tagging him for 7 runs including TWO dingers. The red hot Adam Lind took him deep the opposite way, helping raise Greinke's ERA to a pedestrian 1.55. Carl Pavano pitching a complete game shut out over the flailing White Sox. I'm officially afraid. Remember Matt Weiters? Me either. The poor young man's hitting .167 and is without an extra base hit since last weekend. Your fantasy team officially hates you. The hottest team in baseball? You San Francisco Giants. They've won 8 of their last 10 including three in a row. The Giants joined the Dodgers in the exclusive "NL West teams with winning records club." Members get to rub the Swinging Friars head for luck or throw poisonous snakes into the opposing dugout. Their choice.

Straight out of the official White House blog comes this educational video featuring Phillies slugger Ryan Howard visiting with Obama's head chef in charge Sam Kass. They talk about healthy eating a bit, then check out the White House garden as Ryan samples the veggies straight out of the ground:


Three things I learned about Ryan Howard from this video. Ryan Howard:

  • Is duly impressed by bees
  • Endorses the cheat day
  • Likes to fiddle with his World Series ring when being filmed. Yes, we see it, Ryan.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, drink it up


Good news, everyone. All forty tickets for the Heist were delivered to my doorstep yesterday. An email will go out next week looking for some more fundage from the stragglers and for some addresses so I can mail 'em to the honest folk who paid in advance. Get your McCutchen jerseys now, people!

Thus concludes another Walkoff Walk broadcast week. Please join our pal Drew for weekend coverage. Kris and I will be back on Monday to get you ready for the Amateur Draft. Same WoW channel.

Bernie Carbo For Casey Chevrolet - 1986

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YouTube user Adpocalypse describes the following Classic TV Friday video thusly: "An ad from 1987 or 1988 about the 1975 world series, on youtube in 2008.. I was told there wouldn't be any math." That's pretty accurate but I think the commercial is from 1986 due to the mention of 1987 Chevys in stock.

In any case, it's not the year that makes this video special, it's Bernie Carbo turning in what is quite possibly the single worst acting performance I've ever seen from an athlete. Time has kind of obscured Carbo's home run in favor of the hammier and more picturesque Fisk Home Run from that same game. But trust me, once you watch this commercial you'll never overlook Ol' Bernie again. Please to enjoy.

Pirates Players Hold Seance For Ghost Of Nate McLouth

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Well I'd say they're taking this well. Pirates players, in the aftermath of the Nate McLouth trade, are firing off angry missives at management, lamenting their lot in life and lighting candles and making cardboard cutouts of McLouth at the table where he used to play cards. I am not making this up.

On Thursday, at the clubhouse table where McLouth used to play cards with relievers Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez, a candle bearing McLouth's uniform No. 13 was lit, along with a photo of him in uniform, the Post-Gazette reported. "We'll miss him," Burnett said.

Other players were angrier.

"There ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to the report. "It's kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you've got to figure: How much longer till you sink?

Adam, there are 11 teams in the NL with better records than the Pirates. You've scored 8 more runs than you've allowed. I know we're only a third of the way through the season. I'm not saying you're sunk, but you're also not cruising to the barbados. What did this have to do with soldiers again? Stop mixing metaphors.

Then again, I haven't really understood this McLouth move from the start. Dude was locked up for a couple more years and so wasn't going to cost the Pirates a big chunk of change anytime soon. Shedding salary when you have lousy attendance, or getting something for a FA before he walks are understandable, but just giving up your (affordable) top player for prospects in the first week of June does reek of surrender. Keep burning that incense and donning those headwraps, Pittsburgh.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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One time as a child I fell off a brick wall and cracked my head open. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and gushing blood everywhere and my mom thought she was gonna have to take me to the hospital but then I heard the Ice Cream Man, immediately stopped crying, asked for a buck and went and bought a WWF Ice Cream Bar with blood all over my face. These wimps need the Ice Cream Man.

  • Jorge Campilllo, Braves: Hor-Camp is headed to the deel for the second time this season with arm trouble. Man, Glavine must have really looked horrible. Jorge, stop sticking your arm in the trash compactor.

  • Edinson Volquez, Reds: Uh oh. Here's another repeat Creampuff, and one that could have some major implications in the NL Central. He has tendinitis in hit throwing elbow and will cease all baseball activity for 7-10 days. Since I have no hard numbers about pitch counts or innings thrown compared to other pitchers I will not remind you that his manager is Dusty Baker. Not gonna do it.

  • Rafael Betancourt, Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, Indians: Betancourt has a severely sprained groin which sounds severely awful. Sizemore has elbow synovitis from "extending his elbow over and over again." TOO MUCH MACARENA. Cabrera's shoulder separated even though it had previously vowed to stay together for the kids. Ha. The Indians.

  • Scott Hairston, Padres: Hairston strained his left bicep. The most devastating part of the injury are the scores of women now stranded on Pacific Beach with no idea how to get to the gun show.

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Gaslamp Ball is one of the hardest working blogs in the baseballblogosphere as they actually take the time to transcribe radio interviews with big leaguers. Thank goodness, because then other bloggers like me can steal the details without wasting time actually listening to these horribly boring athletes blather on with softball-lobbing radio guys. Oh really? You want to give 110% and leave it out on the field?

The latest interviewee was ace pitcher Jake Peavy, and after decrying Twitter for letting folks report false Jake Peavy sightings at pharmacies, he's got something to say to all them bloggin' folks writing them blogs:

"There are plenty of blogs out there that are inaccurate as inaccurate gets from fans. Obviously those are brought to your attention by the people that look out for you."

Yes, obviously. Jake is probably still seething from the mild hoopla and brief uproar created by the pictures of him drinking Jager straight from the bottle were published on the web a few years back. It was a charity event, people! Drinking the Jager straight from the bottle helped autistic kids!

Peavy then played the "I have a family" card:

"I play a professional sport for a living, I got three kids and a family to take care of, I'm not on the internet, I can promise you that." "I don't have the time or the will to want to do anything that. I don't want to sit down on a daily basis and write a blog! I'm sorry"

Good for you Jake, nobody wants to read your inane blatherings about Travis Tritt and Jesus Christ anyway. He said there's a fake Jake Peavy Twitter account out there and he's waiting on the results of the Tony LaRussa lawsuit before he decides to pursue any legal action. Forget that noise, Jake, just hurry up and choose the team you want to be traded to so we can enjoy your beautiful pitching stylings in the playoffs, son.

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Congratulations, Randy. You just won your 300th game of your career and I'm sure you've earned the respect of enough portly sportswriters to nab a plaque in Cooperstown. You might even be the greatest pitcher of your generation and perhaps the best pitcher I'll ever see. But that doesn't mean I like you.

Folks, here's why yesterday's massive milestone won't change my opinion about the Big Unit:

  • His former teammates probably hate him, too: Mark Reynolds and Danny Haren played with Johnson last year on the D-Backs and had nothing bad to say about the guy but they also had nothing good to say either. The media folk tell us that Johnson is a solitary type which is not necessarily a despicable thing. I generally despise human beings too and try not to seek interaction with them, so I understand. But when thrown into a situation like a MLB clubhouse where you are shoulder-to-shoulder with the guy at the locker next to you, well, sometimes it pays off to be affable and friendly.

  • He's really tall: Life isn't fair, I get it. But at six foot ten, Randy Johnson is almost a foot and a half taller than me and every time I see him on television, the announcers banter about his height and I am reminded that I stopped growing at age thirteen. Not down there though, ladies. I meant my belly.

  • He did really well in the playoffs against my favorite team: At the tender age of 31, Johnson started Game 3 of the 1995 ALDS for the Mariners against my Yanks. Fella earned the win, going seven strong and mowing down ten with his hot hot heat. Two days later, he famously came on in relief in the ninth inning of the deciding Game Five, all tied up with two runners on and two out. He recorded three straight outs in the ninth, struck out the side in the tenth, and gave up a single run in the top half of the eleventh before the Mariners came back in the bottom half to walk off with a win. Fast forward to the 2001 World Series where he beat the Yankees three times (allowing only two runs in 17 IP) to help the D-Backs win it all.

  • His ghostly visage reminds me of my own mortality: I mean look at this demon. It's the last face any of us see before crossing the River Styx, I'm sure.

  • He did really poorly in the playoffs for my favorite team: In two playoff starts for the Yanks in 2005 and 2006, Johnson gave up 20 hits and let in 10 runs in just 13 innings, and sent me home crying from the ballpark at least once. How does it feel to make a 27-year-old cry, Randy? Huh? You feel like a big man now?

But hey, at least I don't hold a grudge or anything.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Genius

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I became a minor inconvenience:

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: For those of you who enjoyed Kris' liveglog and missed out on Drew's counterprogramming on the north side, well, you missed manchild Adam Lind go five-for-five and extend his hitting streak to 8. That's eight straight at-bats, not games. Pretty amazing stuff. Oh, Howie Kendrick plated the winning run when he scampered home on a double play in the ninth as Lyle Overbay's throw came up jusssssssst shy.

Pirates 11, Mets 6: Pittsburgh called up young Andrew McCutchen and the kid nabbed the broom and swept the Mets straight outta town. McCutchen's debut was good: 2-for-4, three runs, a stolen base and an RBI. Jason Jaramillo drove in four runs, too, whoever he is. Mike Pelfrey got roughed up and took the loss while Mets reliever J.J. Putz got a headstart away from the miasma that is the Mets team plane and flew to NYC to have his elbow examined. This is why we don't give big bucks to relievers, Omar.

Athletics 7, White Sox 0: In other sweep news and debut news, the ChiSox 2008 first round draftee Gordon Beckham got his first bittersweet taste of the bigs, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout at the hands of up-and-coming ace Brett Anderson. Fella lowered his ERA under 5.00 with seven shutout innings without a walk, while Jason Giambi tater-totted for the second day in a row. Streaks! This game lasted but 135 minutes, or about half the time it takes Ozzie Guillen to style his jheri curl.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Albert Pujols is a monster in human skin. Fella clanged a two-run ding-dong and a RBI double to support Chris Carpenter's complete game domination over Dusty's Boys. An eighth inning happy jack by Laynce Nix was Carp's only real mistake, except for the fact that he left his tuna salad sandwich out in his locker, and not in the team fridge. No matter, he used Miracle Whip which has so many preservatives that it could keep in the hot blazing sun of Death Valley for up to three weeks. Carp is now 4-0 with a 0.71 ERA. Jeez.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the Canterbury Tales will shoot to the top of the best seller list.

  • ANY chance with the seasons they're having that Hamels/Kershaw will actually be a pitchers' duel?

  • WILL Big Z be sedated for his start against Atlanta?

  • WHY did David Carradine feel the need to leave us? I can't really claim to be a Kung Fu fan, but he worked with Ashby and Tarantino in two films that I love. Dude had chops. Sad stuff.

  • WILL Chris Carpenter pitch a perfect game or get paralyzed against the Reds?

/Thursday. Tomorrow is Creampuff and all your other Friday Faves. It'll be good. Then again, what isn't good on a Friday? See you then, dudes and dames. Same WoW channel.

Thursday Afternoon Liveglog Club: Red Sox at Tigers

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Hey, kids. That there is a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS, one of the prettiest cars ol' GM ever made. Had some guts too. It's been a sad week up there in Detroit as the company's bankruptcy went official. With the Sox in town, and on the verge of a sweep, I figured having that at the top of the page every time you refresh will remind some of our Walkoff Walk Michiganders of better days.

As for me, I'm coming to you live from the White Horse Tavern in Allston. This isn't normally a place I frequent. Once the sun goes down it fills up with a bunch of BU steakheads that would probably be really into Ryan Braun's new clothing line. But for now it's fairly empty, the windows are open on a beautiful day, and the High Life is cold. Let's watch some baseball after the jump, aight?

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This didn't happen already? Oh well, now's as good a time as any. Sammy Sosa is retiring! Say it aint so. I thought he was just biding his time over the past two years waiting for the perfect opportunity to come back and hit 60 HRs.

Once the shock wears off, and you finally come to grips with the sad fact that your favorite team won't be signing Slammin' Sammy, your thoughts will probably turn to the Hall of Fame. Specifically whether or not Sosa will be part of the class of 2014. The way things are right now, the answer seems pretty obvious, and is well stated by our friend Duk at Big League Stew.

With 609 career home runs and three 60+ seasons Sosa indeed has the numbers for an induction bid. He's never been directly linked to PED use, though the robo-physique he sported in the late '90s/early '00s has always fueled plenty of doubt and suspicion. Oh, and there was that corked bat that he "accidentally" picked up in 2003.

Still, I can't see Sosa being voted into the Hall of Fame while Mark McGwire, who's been rejected by Hall voters three times already, sits in exile. Either both eventually get in or they don't, the Hall's doors remaining about as accessible as Big Mac and Sammy were in front of Congress back in 2005.

But that's the feeling now. In some ways, delaying his retirement by two years may actually help his chances for the hall. As more and more sluggers of his generation are implicated or outright caught using steroids, won't a notion of relativity have to set in? If, five years, from now we've learned that a huge majority of players were using to some degree, the fact that Sosa/McGwire et al, excelled above and beyond their peers holds more weight. McGwire has had to face the voters while PED use is still a scarlet letter. At the rate we're learning about baseball's drug issues, the landscape could look very different when Sammy lands on the ballot.

He might not know how to speak English in certain situations but maybe he's not as dumb as we think.

Dream Song 120: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Mets at Pirates: The Typhoid Marys of Queens, NY travel to the De-McLouthed Pirates. Would you pay money to watch Mike Pelfrey face Ross Ohlendorf? Of course you would, you'll do anything for companionship.

  • 12:37, Angels at Blue Jays: Rubber up north as crankypants John Lackey takes on the hilariously mustachioed Brian Tallet. If you would like to follow along in liveglog format, Weekend Editor and Blue Jays Freak, Drew the Barber has you covered over at Ghostrunner.

  • 1:05, Red Sox at Tigers: No sooner had the texts started circulating last night than Beckett lost the perfect game, then the no hitter. I have yet to hear from my Dad but I'm sure he blames me. I didn't say the magic words! NOT MY FAULT! If you would like to follow this broom closet game in liveglog format, I've got you covered here at Walkoff Walk. This is why Firefox has tabs, people.

  • 1:05, Rangers at Yankees: The Rangers got a solid start out of Scott Feldman last evening and the Yanks were held to a mere 6 hits. Brandon McCarthy goes for Texas today and I wouldn't bank on the same from him. Chien Ming Wang is back in the rotation for NYY. Could be a slugfest. Maybe we'll see Rob on TV getting trampled for a home run ball like a lady at Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving. Again.

  • 1:10, Indians at Twins: Fausto Carmona aint exactly making anyone forget about CC is he? 35 K and 38 BB. Eep. He goes for the Injuns and Scott Baker goes for the Twins. Rubber involved.

  • 2:05, A's at White Sox: SS Phenom and 2008 1st round draft pick, Gordon Beckham is expected to be brought out of the garage and make his major league debut today for Chicago. Not bad for a guy with a name like a TV Chef. Brett Anderson for the vistors, the unstoppable Mark Buerhle for the home team. Rubber

  • 4:08, Royals at Rays: What a stupid time for a game. Gil Meche faces James Shields.

  • 4:35, Giants at Nats: First half of a rain necessitated double header will see Randy Johnson trying to get that 300th win again. JUST DO IT ALREADY. John "Lanolin" Lannan pitches for DC.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Jonah Keri stirs up the Yankee lovers and haters in the baseballblogosphere with his defense of Jorge Posada's legacy (and then cedes to Jay Jaffe) in response to Rob Neyer's ideas about catcher of the decade. You're all wrong. The catcher of the aughts was absolutely the Three-Headed Molina Voltron. JonahKeri.com.

  • Kevin Armstrong takes a jaunt down memory lane and features the great Boston sportswriter cabal from the 1970s. Imagine a Boston Globe roster starring Ray Fitzgerald, Leigh Montville, Peter Gammons, Will McDonough, Bob Ryan, Dan Shaughnessy, and John Powers and then go fill your bird's cage with today's edition. Sports Illustrated.

  • Forget all this jibber-jabber about the McCutchens and Beckhams and Wieterses. The Marlins have an 18-year-old fella name Michael Stanton who is bashing up the FSL and who the Red Sox lusted after last year when they were trying to dump Manny. Icy-Hot Sensations.

  • I'd like to continue to thank Curtis Granderson for breaking up Josh Beckett's no-hitter. Please read his latest blog where he takes the time to appreciate his opponent Luke Scott. Big League Stew: The Grandstand.

  • Stacy Conradt provides us with all the neat trivia about Dodger Stadium in case one of us ever gets that phone call from Jeopardy and flown into Los Angeles to hobnob with Trebek and the gang. Did you know more folks buy wieners in Chavez Ravine than any other MLB park? mental_floss.

  • Lazer cat is gonna git you. Cats Are Always Doing Shit.
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Last night, Pittsburgh G.M. Neal Huntington hammered the final nail in the coffin that was the surprisingly good 2008 Pirates outfield, sending center fielder Nate McLouth to the outfield-hungry Braves for three prospects. McLouth's OPS has dipped a bit from last season but at .819, it's still a good deal higher than Braves regulars Garret Anderson's .668 or Jeff Francouer's .634 rate. The deal easily upgrades Atlanta's offense and keeps them in the discussion for the N.L. East race.

But is this deal a win-win situation? Instead of examining the prospects that the Pirates got in the deal (pitchers, Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez), let's look at the young man who instantly becomes the hottest prospect around and pushes Matt Wieters' name off the tip of our collective tongues: Andrew McCutchen. The young stud center fielder was hitting over .300 and slugging almost .500 for Triple-A Indianapolis this year, stole 10 bases, and accumulated five outfield assists in 49 games. That's a lot of tools! He's been part of the Pittsburgh plan since being drafted four years ago and forgoing his ticket to the University of Florida.

Most importantly, the money line says it's time:

We've also reached the point in the year where it's unlikely that McCutchen will be named a "Super Two" player. Since McCutchen played a few weeks the year in the minors, the Pirates would've controlled his rights the next six years after this one no matter what, but the 17% of players between two and three years of service time with the most service time also become "Super Two" players and get an extra year of arbitration. That could have cost the Pirates millions of dollars. Now that we're in late May, it's unlikely McCutchen will be one of those players.

Sounds like kismet! Perfect timing for the Pirates to make the McLouth trade, nab some tidy prospects, and free up a spot for McCutchen to spread his wings and fly! Everybody's happy, right?

By trading center fielder Nate McLouth, their best and most marketable player, to the Atlanta Braves, the Pirates have said they have no chance of winning this season, a stance that goes against what they had been saying.

It was a shocking and unexpected trade. McLouth, 27, was viewed as a cornerstone building block of the franchise. Not only does he lead the team in home runs and runs batted it, he led in both categories last season and won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence.

His trade is bound to have a pronounced negative impact on the clubhouse, much like last season when the team collapsed after the July trades of Xavier Nady and Jason Bay.

Oh, Bob Smizik, you codger. Clubhouse, schmubhouse. I'm sorry Huntington traded away all the convivial white outfielders. It's McCutchen time!

(Photo courtesy of Trev Star)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I never felt so wicked:

Rangers 4, Yankees 2: Our buddy Drew liveglogged this number over at The Score last night and, although the discussion turned from Eli Manning to Lorne Michaels to the Chicken Lady, he did a fab job of keeping folks updated and making insightful comments. Most notably was the stellar play of Rangers rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus who reached base thrice, stole two bases, scored a run, and made some tidy plays in the field. Also, I haven't seen winning pitcher Scott Feldman throw game this well since he bagged two ninth-graders at his bar mitzvah back in '96.

Red Sox 10, Tigers 5: Curtis Granderson does many things well, including writing a regular blog over at Big League Stew and breaking up no-hitters. Fella lined a single to right in the seventh inning to end Josh Beckett's bid for a no-no; one inning later, he tripled with the bases bloated to help the Tigers halve the Sox lead. Too little, too late though as Takashi Saito closed this number out with a scoreless ninth. J.D. Drew tater-totted.

Cubs 3, Braves 2 (11): Our national hero Chipper Jones did the heavy lifting in the seventh inning, tying up the game late for the second night in a row with a pinch-hit RBI single. Unfortunately, Jeff Francouer forgot to pack his magic cape and proved to be a pumpkin once again. Fella led off the ninth with a single but got thrown out attempting to steal second. Micah Hoffpauir's bloop RBI single in the top of the eleventh proved to be the game-winning hit and Jeff Bennett took the sadsack loss.

Rays 9, Royals 0: Yes, it is still a major accomplishment when a pitcher two-hits the Kansas City Royals. Jeff Niemann picked up the first complete game and first shutout of his career, blanking K.C. with nine K's and but one walk. And don't forget Ben Zobrist, who is slamming dongs like Bonds, y'all. Fella clobbered his tenth tater tot of the year in just 130 at-bats with his king dong in the fourth. He's got one homer for every five fly balls he hits. Yowza!

Athletics 5, White Sox 3: The A's used three solo tater tots to defeat Clayton Richard and the Fightin' Ozzies. Say hello to Josh Outman who improved to 3-0 on the year and dropped his ERA to 3.02 with six and two-thirds innings of two-run ball.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the answers to what comes next and how to like it.

  • WILL Randy Johnson get his 300th win? To put this into perspective, he has won 299 games. In other words, he only needs to win one more for 300. What I'm saying is if you laid his wins end to end it would reach from here to nowhere because wins are non-tangible.

  • CAN Arizona bounce back against the Dodgers after last night's heartbreaker?

  • WILL the Rangers atone for last night's drubbing versus the Yankees? There were some hard slides, brushbacks and warnings last night, making this your best bet for a brawl. Besides when your girlfriend gets home.

  • WILL the Rays take another one from the again hapless Royals?

  • DID you know that today is Martha Washington's birthday? She was a hip, hip, hip, lady.

Go forth in Wednesdayness. We'll back tomorrow with everything you want and nothing you need. Including me, liveglogging the Red Sox from a pub. Should be wild. Same WoW channel. You too, Baby Satan.

Drayton McLane: Paying To Lose

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It's no secret that the Astros overpay for mediocre results. Heck, Rob singled em out and outlined the exact ways they're wasting their money. Their manager is a dead man walking, their ace would like out and despite it all Houston owner Drayton McLane is sticking to his guns. That is, if you believe an "anonymous source" blowing smoke up Bruce Levine's ass.

According to one of the top executives and most respected men in baseball, the Astros are not in the mode to trade any of their players, most notably Roy Oswalt.

"The Astros owner, Drayton McLane, has always been steadfast on his direction of the Astros," the executive told me. "Mr. McLane will be more prone to adding to his team rather than trading his present players away." The executive added, "I read your blog and whoever told you Houston will continue moving Oswalt just wasn't correct."

The insider, who is one of the best-informed people in baseball, knows more about most of the team's intricacies than some people within those organizations.

This insider sounds pretty obnoxious. While I'd like to believe that McLane is a smarter businessman than burning money by sticking hard and fast to a broken organization (this is after all the brains behind religious vegetable night) he took this same tack last year. But the Astros aren't just bad this year, they're embarrassing at the plate.

Seriously. More prone to adding players?? At some point, "never give up" becomes "I have no idea what I'm doing."

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Last night, the Mets wasted another quality start by Johan Santana, scoring just one run off Pirates pitchers Zach Duke. Sure, Duke's an ace and one of the top pitchers in the National League Central, but in five of Johan's eleven starts, the Mets have been held to two runs or less. Santana, possibly the best pitcher in baseball, is not getting his much-deserved wins. Is this a case of an under-performing offense or just some big fat unluckiness for Santana? That's a hypothetical question. I don't have the answer, people.

Consider also the case of Danny Haren, who threw seven innings of two-hit ball for the Diamondbacks last night, only to see his 5-1 lead over the league-leading Dodgers evaporate in the hands of pen-mates Tony Pena and rookie Daniel Schlereth. Haren has made ten quality starts (at least 6 IP, no more than 3 ER) this year for the D-Backs and gotten wins in just four of them. Is he even more unlucky than Santana, or do the Diamondbacks have an equally bad offense and bullpen than the Mets? Another question I cannot answer.

But Baseball Prospectus kindly provides baseball fans with a tidy statistic that measures luck. It measures the difference, either positive or negative, between a pitcher's actual record and expected record. Expected wins and losses are calculated in comparison with the win-loss results that pitchers with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in a historic sense. So Haren's seven-inning, one-run outing is compared with a bunch of other seven-inning, one-run outings, most of which end in wins but some of which end in losses because J.J. Putz cannot hold a lead to save his cat's life.

Here are your unluckiest National League pitchers so far in 2009 (minimum 10 starts):

  1. Barry Zito, Giants - Expected Wins, 3.5 - Actual Wins, 1
  2. John Lannan, Nats - Expected Wins, 4.2 - Actual Wins, 2
  3. Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies - Expected Wins, 2.3 - Actual Wins, 0
  4. Doug Davis, D-Backs - Expected Wins, 3.5 - Actual Wins, 2
  5. Ian Snell, Pirates - Expected Wins, 3.2 - Actual Wins, 1

Wow, Danny Haren doesn't even make the top five but his teammate Doug Davis does. No wonder, three of those pitchers have sub-par offenses supporting them. The Giants score just 3.98 runs per game while the D-Backs get only 4.25 runs per game and the Pirates get 4.32. Washington actually is one of the top offenses in the N.L. at five runs per game but score two runs fewer per game when Lannan pitches, while the Rockies support De La Rosa with only 3.5 runs per start.

So what does this all mean? After all, those are five pitchers whose won-loss record wouldn't even be that spectacular had they gotten twice the run support and half the bullpen oopsies. In the end, Dan Haren's 4-4 record is completely misleading, Johan Santana probably wishes the Mets had signed a proper corner outfielder in the offseason, and Doug Davis is easily the unluckiest pitcher on that list because he got the big C (but beat it! Yay!).

Ichiro Keeps Hitting/Incredible Quote Streak Alive

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Even though I know how impossible it is, every 6th or 7th guy that "challenges" DiMaggio's streak makes me feel like "this is the one." But never have I been so sure as I am with Ichiro and his current 26 game tear.

Ichiro has confounded pretty much every expectation that's been put on him in his 9 year (that's it?) career, and that higher plane zen thought thing he has going on makes me think he'll be able to transcend the pressure that comes with chasing Joe D. Need more proof that the dude rolls on another level? Witness this incredible quote from last night's postgame.

So the question was how much the record means.

"Once I got this far, I wanted to achieve it," Ichiro said, according to his translator. "Now I wish that I would have asked my wife, Yumiko, and my dog, Ikkyu, to come to the game today. But at the same time, if you think about it, if I didn't invite them, it means that much to me as well."

Roughly, 26 games meant enough to wish his wife and, of course, dog were there. But it wasn't so important that he thought ahead enough to invite them. I hope that from now until the streak ends, Ichiro gives the exact same quote just adding a new family member/pet each time. And here's also hoping he's got 31 more of them. Kill yr idols.

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Hey guys did you know THAT TONY LARUSSA HAS A LAW DEGREE? Well just in case you forgot, the master of the lefty/righty matchup, the designated setup guy, and batting the pitcher 8th has engaged in more overkill by taking Twitter to court over an impostor Tweeter. You know Matlock, you can just tell them to take it down.

Anthony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, sued Twitter after an unknown Twitter user created an account at twitter.com/TonyLaRussa and pretended to post updates as La Russa. The fake Twitter page included La Russa's photo and a handful of vulgar and apparently Cardinals-related updates. One line of the "profile" suggested it was all a fake: "Bio Parodies are fun for everyone."

La Russa's complaint alleged that the fake Twitter page constituted trademark infringement and dilution, cybersquatting, and misappropriation of name and likeness. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, La Russa's attorney tried to contact Twitter before filing the lawsuit, but got no response. Hours after the lawsuit was filed, Twitter removed the fake La Russa page and its postings. According to the Superior Court docket, the case is still pending.

Looks like LaRussa and Kanye have another thing in common besides having sported a mullet. Is it strange that someone in their late middle agedness doesn't get Twitter? Of course not. Plenty of people of all ages don't get it. But AS A LAWYER DONT FORGET IM A LAWYER, LaRussa should have understood that sometimes mediation and counsel are the easiest way to solve a problem. Now you're just going to get picked on even worse than that benign fake Twitter would have. Tony, go ask your attorney what the FAIL meme is.

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Admit it, folks. If there was one team you'd expect to have a pandemic of swine flu, wouldn't you guess the Mets? In a (not so) stunning turn of creampuffery, a member of the team's traveling party has been stricken with a possible case of swine flu and sent home for an official diagnosis.

More importantly, they had to get that dude out of Pittsburgh and into strict quarantine, lest he create an outbreak that takes down the entire team:

A source said SNY producer Dan Barr began feeling ill Sunday night during the Mets' charter flight to Pittsburgh for the series that began Monday. He was sent home today.

Mets assistant GM John Ricco told reporters the club is confident that (Carlos) Beltran and John Maine, who also has been battling stomach illness, are safe from swine flu. Maine returned to the team today and felt good enough to perform off-day throwing drills after having to leave early from his start Sunday at Citi Field due to the stomach ailment.

"We've been told [swine flu] is not a type of illness that's transmitted through the air," Ricco said before the game with the Pirates. "It's more shaking hands, sneezing. So we're not too worried. The symptoms, we've been told, are marked generally by high fever, joint aches and fatigue. These symptoms are not consistent at all with what Carlos Beltran and John Maine have at the present time, but our players are being informed that this has happened. Right now, no one on our team is feeling any of that type of symptoms."

No worries, Mets fans. Looks like Beltran and Maine just have a case of the chocolate squirts and not the dastardly swine flu. But I'd like to ask assistant GM John Ricco why he thinks the flu can't be transmitted through the air. If I'm sitting on a plane and a dude behind me infected with the swine flu sneezes, the little sneeze particles will travel through the air, over my head, and onto my reheated bland chicken tetrazzini meal. Next thing you know, I've got a 103 degree fever and case of the chills worse than any Mets fan feels when J.J. Putz enters a game in the eighth inning.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when I got excited:

Braves 6, Cubs 5 (12): Jeff Francouer hasn't made many appearances in our little morning recap post over the past year or so. I can only imagine that he noticed his name's absence and decided to rectify the situation himself. Frenchy's two-run happy jack in the bottom of the ninth sent the game into extras and Cubs closer Kevin Gregg into fits as Gregg roooooned a perfectly good start by Randy Wells. Our pal Chipper Jones won the game with a walkoff RBI single in the 12th.

Blue Jays 6, Angels 4: Roy Halladay is not of this world despite what your silly paper birth certificates claim. Fella won his major-league-leading ninth game on the backs of fourteen, count em, fourteen strikeouts (his career high) including three K's of Gary Matthews Jr. and Torii Hunter Regular. Alex Rios tater-totted as is his wont.

Pirates 3, Mets 1: Hey Halladay, you want to lend some of those strikeouts to Zach Duke? Nah, nevermind, he don't need 'em. Duke went seven strong and outdueled Johan Santana despite not recording a single strikeout. The Mets offense throws about as much support to Santana as an old wicker chair would lend to your fat Aunt Bertha.

Athletics 5, White Sox 0: Bastardo? Who needs him! The A's got Vin Mazzaro, ya hear? My cugino Vincenzo pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just a smattering of baserunners and nary a run. Jack Cust (not Italian) lent a hand with a sassy solo tater tot.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you don't have to be quiet at my place.

That day done got done. No glog tomorrow, but I'll be doing one for you on Thursday so dryclean your blazer accordingly. Same WoW Channel. You too, Braves Hat Dale.
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When Brett Myers' hip shattered like a graham cracker it left a hole in the Philly rotation that only a real bastardo could fill. And luckily they had one. The "hottest pitcher in the organization," Antonio Bastardo, is coming up and making his MLB debut tonight. Most recently a middle reliever for the Lehigh Iron Pigs, ¡El Bastardo! will face off against Jake Peavy, a guy who the Phillies may or may not be coveting. Intrigue!

(Bastardo) the righthander features a low-90s fastball, slider and change-up. Despite a brief conversion to the bullpen earlier this season, which the team saw as a potential strategy to address lefthander J.C. Romero's 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the Phillies regard Bastardo as a starter.

"He's getting the chance to pitch in the big leagues," Manuel said. "Of course, his goal is to stay in the big leagues."

Well that and discovering the other half of his family tree. ¡Viva El Bastardo!

Doodled Baseball Diamond

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Shh... just take it all in.
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Those hardboiled muckrackers over at MLB.com broke another doozy this morning with the release of the rosters for the inaugural Hall Of Fame Classic.

For those of you saying, "Hey I thought they canceled that silly exhibition game between two unlucky teams randomly picked to play a meaningless game in the middle of a pennant race," don't worry. They did. This is a whole new game featuring dudes that have retired. Now you very same people are saying, "How can something be a classic in its inaugural year?" I don't have all the answers. Stop talking to your computer. Here's the list of names.

The star-studded roster for the Father's Day game at Doubleday Field includes 28 former Major League players, including Hall of Fame players Bob Feller, Ferguson Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson.

In addition to the five Hall of Fame players, the list of former players committed to appear at the game include, Fred Cambria, John Doherty, George Foster, Micah Franklin, Bobby Grich, Steve Grilli, Johnny Grubb, Jim Hannan, Jim Kaat, Jeff Kent, Steve Lyons, Joe Lahoud, Bill Lee, Kevin Maas, Mike Pagliarulo, Ron Robinson, Dennis Rasmussen, Steve Rogers, Rich Surhoff, Anthony Telford, Mike Timlin, Lee Smith and Jon Warden.

Huh? Is Mike Timlin really going to pitch to Brooks Robinson? He could throw a ball through Brooks Robinson. There is going to be skin everywhere. Don't they know that an ambulance can really mess up the infield grass? But hey at least they guaranteed Upstate Underdog's viewership by bringing in Jim Kaat.

In other "_aa_" news, Kevin Maas narrowly beat out both Phil Plantier and Matt Nokes for the spot that could only be filled by Kevin Maas, Phil Plantier or Matt Nokes.

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In an act that seems more like tossing chairs off the deck of a sinking Titanic than a sound business strategy, the sad, failing newspaper industry has decided to save some bucks by forcing their employees to take unpaid one week furloughs from their jobs. Baseball beat writers are not safe from these awkward vacations, even as the season is going on, which seems to be more like poor scheduling than cost-saving. The beat isn't disappearing for seven days at a time, though, because other folks have been filling in.

When these newspapermen go on furlough, they are not allowed to work at all. That means no writing, no Tweeting, no liveblogging, no answering emails, and especially no interviewing semi-nude baseball players in the clubhouse. Most of these guys have been keeping up with their teams, either watching on TV or attending games as civilians with the unwashed masses like you or me. Maybe that explains why I saw Dan Shaughnessy sitting four rows behind me at Yankee Stadium last month instead of the swank new press box.

The Gannett Company, one of the huge newspaper syndicates that puts out such quality publications as USA Today, the Oshkosh Northwestern, and the Hattiesburg American, has been taking away our favorite writers for a week at a time. First, we lost Lee Jeans model and Reds beat guy John Fay who issued this following solemn statement:

This is a measure to help the company through hard times. And I'm sure it's a hardship to people with families. But it beats laying people off. Everywhere we go, we hear about more people getting laid off. The beat writer from the San Diego paper, who is sitting right in front of me as I type, loses his job in July.

You're a real company guy, John, but folks getting laid off is just the next step in the natural progression. I hope it's not you. John came back a week later without a flourish and continued his excellent Reds coverage right away. Prodigious beat blogger Peter Abraham was a bit more forthcoming as to how he spent his summer vacation, devoting an entire blogpost to his week off in which I learned that Pete cleaned his condo and attended the same Bruce Springsteen concert as I did. And in fact, he attended the same Bruce Springsteen concert that Kris did last month up in Boston. It's a proven fact, you can't go to a Bruce Springsteen concert without running into Pete.

The latest victim is News Journal scribe and Phillies beat guy Scott Lauber. He's been blogging about the Phils since 2006, a veritable lifetime in the baseballblogosphere. I'd like to say I have no idea how to deal with one entire week away from baseball and this blog community which we have worked so hard to develop, but then I remember I just voluntarily spent nine days vacationing in Spain. So yeah, furloughs are good times to fill up with vino tinto and jamon iberico.

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Statistical revolutions have been hitting baseball with such frequency lately that it's almost hard for silly baseball bloggers like us to keep up with them. First, teams were supposed to follow the Billy Beane model and hoard players with fattened on base percentages. More recently, teams have been chided for the defensive abilities of their outfielders and infielders and told to improve defensive efficiency; the 2009 Mariners subscribed to that newsletter and the results are mixed as of yet. Let's make room for the new sabermetric craze that I hope will change the way teams value their players: an effective and easy way to measure baserunning.

Stats to measure baserunning are not new. Dan Fox, formerly of Baseball Prospectus and current advisor to the Pittsburgh Pirates, introduced Equivalent Baserunning Runs (EqBRR) a few years ago, based on earlier research published at The Hardball Times. EqBRR aims to measure how many runs a player contributes through good baserunning skills over what the average baserunner would do. It takes into account stolen base attempts, advancing on ground ball outs and flyouts, advancing on hits and taking the extra base successfully, and advancing on silly things like passed balls and errant throws. While a 90% success rate of stolen bases will earn you tidy credit, you can't assign the blame to Dale Sveum when you get tossed out at home plate: that counts as a big fat negative in EqBRR. Do something better than expected, you get an uptick.

Dan has a ton of great information at his blog, including a look at the top 50 and bottom 50 individual baserunning seasons in the last 50 years. Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines were pretty darn good. Todd Zeile, not so much. Here are your current EqBRR leaders:

  1. Carl Crawford
  2. Michael Bourn
  3. Chone Figgins
  4. Fred Lewis
  5. Vernon Wells

Fred Lewis is the most interesting name on the list because he's attempted just seven stolen bases and been caught thrice. But Lewis is the best in his league at getting to third base from first on singles and scoring from first on doubles; he's also above average in advancing on outs which makes him a hidden gem among baserunners.

But even more important than isolating the best baserunners in the big leagues would be to humiliate the real stinky ones. And perhaps it's unfair to look at the bottom of the EqBRR rankings because it isolates plodding first basemen and catchers with rickety knees. Nobody expects Carlos Lee to score from first on a long double or Bengie Molina to scamper down to third on a wild pitch that bounces right back to the catcher.

Instead, I want the official scorer at the ballparks to punish baseball players for making mental mistakes on the basepaths. He'd have to do double duty on errors, recording baserunning mistakes as well as defensive miscues. Wouldn't you want to know how many times Jose Reyes got doubled up at first base on a pop-up because he forgot there was just one out in the inning? Wouldn't it be interesting to see that Chipper Jones made an out because he shouldn't have been running to third base on a ground ball right back to the pitcher? Like fielding mistakes, these mental baserunning errors are subjective and not objective which is why the official scorer should be the one tallying the oopsies. Mental screw-ups like these committed by otherwise bright ballplayers cost their team runs.

In honor of Ruben Rivera's Single Worst Baserunning Mistake in Baseball History, I suggest we dub this statistic the RIVERA, or "Really, I'm Very Erratically Running Around".

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when it reached out to you:

Yankees 5, Indians 2: I'll say it now and it should come as no surprise to you. The Yankees would never have set the all-time streak for most consecutive games sans erreur if someone other than Mark Teixeira was the first baseman. Not Jason Giambi. Not Albert Pujols. Not Kevin Youkilis. Not even Don Mattingly could ever snag liners and scoop Jeter's balls outta the dirt in quite the same way Tex does. Joba Chamberlain's eight innings were his longest career outing and his diving snag in the fifth proved for once that pigs can fly.

Pirates 8, Mets 5: There is a new term for failure in the greater New York area. It's called "Putzing" and can be used in many situations, not just when Met "reliever" J.J. Putz comes on with a two-run lead and a runner on and gives up three straight singles to totally blow the lead. Try to use this new term in everyday situations! The next time you forget to pick up your kid at middle school, you can lighten the moment by slapping your head and saying, "I totally Putzed that one!"

Astros 4, Rockies 1: In this battle of National League basement-dwellers, the Astros used a dandy pitching performance by Roy Oswalt and a timely tater tot by Carlos Lee to topple the Rockies. Meanwhile, the ultimate NL basement dweller Washington Nationals squadron had an off day and spent their free time generally feeling sorry for themselves, and checking out a matinee showing of that new movie what them Toy Story folk done.

White Sox 6, Athletics 2: Jim Thome hit his 550th career ding-dong, leading the Fightin Ozzies to their fourth straight win and back to the .500 mark. In the AL Central, that's good enough for second place.

For real, people, if you want to know about chewing tobacco, Gouda cheese, or which book we're reading for the Walkoff Walk Summer Reading Club, go listen to the latest edition of the Furious Five podcast.

The snappy song featured at the end of the show is "Awake" by soul singer JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound available for download at Free Music Archive.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I've got legs but am totally clueless as how to use them.

Your day is done, but you still can have fun. Read a book or a periodical. Then join us back here tomorrow. Same WoW channel. You too, Guy Clark.

ichiro.jpgYou may find it hard to believe, but it's true: Ichiro is awesome. The uniquely beloved Mariner is currently tearing up the league amidst a 24 game hitting streak, in which he's hit 3 home runs and posted an OPS just under 1.000. During his hitting streak, Ichiro's added 60 points to his on base percentage and 160 points to that OPS. This all comes on the heels of leading Mariners blog USS Mariner wondering aloud if trading Ichiro may be in the franchise's best interests. The "trade Ichiro" whispers are growing slightly louder, causing the Quote Machine himself to cryptically (typically?) sound off:

"I haven't heard that, but what I think about it is that when things are not going well, many people have different ideas, and that's only natural," he says. "If a crow has thought it, it would surprise me. But since it's human beings, it does not surprise me."

For reasons unknown, casual Mariners fans love to lob criticisms towards the Face of the Franchise. The Mariners lowly 9-15 record during his streak isn't lost on the peanut gallery. Some of the lunatic fringe likely believe there to be a connection between the two. From complaints that he doesn't dive in the outfield to belief that he doesn't steal bases with enough frequency, it's obvious that all the rain in the Pacific Northwest finally turned local residents loopy.

That a leadoff hitter with 78 career home runs has been intentionally walked 6 times already this year (third-most in baseball) should be solid indication that Ichiro criticism is way off. He's already built a nearly 2 WAR season and provided endless entertainment to his adoring throngs. Rare is the slap hitting singles machine who's at bats keep you glued to the TV, just as it's rare to see a big league player deviate from the usual 5 tool mold.

Ichiro's complete unique approach makes him nearly impossible to pitch. While he often seems to willfully flip balls into shallow left field, attempts to bury fastballs inside can just as easily end up in the right field seats. One of baseball's best fielders and baserunners. Losing him would be akin to losing an awesome, witty, prodigious child to Mariners fans. A process they're all too familiar with in Seattle.

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Hey, you there! Yes you, fan of any of the top four teams in the National League East! I'm not sure if you noticed, but there's another team in your division that has allowed you to compile such a tidy intradivision record. It's true, folks, the Marlins (16-10), Braves (12-10), Mets (15-9), and Phillies (17-11) all have winning records in the NL East which means that, by rule, there must be a mysterious fifth team absorbing all those losses. Surprise! It's the Washington Nationals and their 5-25 record against their own division! Somehow, they've managed to go 8-11 versus everyone else, which begs the question, is it possible that the Nationals can avoid making sad history once their schedule evens out?

If the season ended today, not only would a lot of season ticket holders would be upset and confused, but the Nats will have tied the 2003 Detroit Tigers on the official list of worst winning percentages at a miserable .265. But imagine the Nats as two different beasts; winning just 16% of their divisional games and a whopping 42% of their games outside. They've got 35 games left against the NL East, 63 games left against the rest of the NL, plus three games apiece against each of the AL East teams. Assuming their performance against the AL East is similar to the NL East, and that the Nats record can be extrapolated from a small sample size by someone who came three credits shy of a math minor, here's how I predict their season to unfold:

  • 35 games vs NL East: 6 wins, 29 losses

  • 63 games vs NL Central & NL West: 27 wins, 36 losses

  • 15 games vs AL East: 3 wins, 12 losses

Add it all up and you've got 36 future wins to pair with 13 current wins. That's 49 wins overall, or exactly six wins more than the 2003 Detroit Tigers managed to squeeze together. That'll leave the Nats with a .302 winning percentage, miserable by every measure but enough to keep them out of the Pantheon of Loserdom. But at least Adam Dunn will have a better chance to make his own history and become the first player to collect more homers than his team has wins.

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File this one under "What's Your Point," "Shaky Theses," and "What Is With The Pathological Urge To Retroactively Absolve Chuck LaMar and Vince Naimoli For Past Mistakes." Marking the 10th Anniversary since Tampa's landmark decision to choose Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett (who doesn't remember where they were when they heard the news?), The St. Pete Times would like you all to believe that maybe, just maybe, it could turn out to be the right move.

Not for the Rays, of course, they haven't had Hamilton on their roster since 2006. But you know, DONT BE SO HARD ON THE OLD REGIME. You gotta read the whole thing to get a feel for how ridiculous it is, but here are some choice excerpts.

On the outside, he was noncommittal. Secretly, general manager Chuck LaMar was leaning toward Beckett.

This was early in the process, long before a decision would have to be made. LaMar wanted to keep it to himself because he did not want anyone else in the organization to be influenced by what the boss was thinking.

This is right after the lede. Chuck LaMar saying that he knew that Beckett was the right choice but didn't want to step on anyone's toes. Yeah, you wouldn't wanna overstep your bounds AS GENERAL MANAGER and make your thoughts known.

"(Hamilton) was not only a baseball player in every sense but he carried himself extremely well," said LaMar, now an assistant GM with the Phillies. "When you're making this kind of investment, you do the background check. And it showed he was anything but a problem. There was no hint you would ever have a problem with him."

Beckett, on the other hand, was different. Not a bad kid, just different.

He was cocky to the point of arrogant. He had no trouble explaining how good he was, and was not shy about tossing his name around with Roger Clemens or Nolan Ryan or any other hard-throwing Texan.

For years, the word around the Rays' offices was that owner Vince Naimoli was turned off by Beckett's attitude during a home visit. The teenager slouched on the couch and acted as if he would be doing the Rays a favor by allowing them to make him a millionaire.

Can you believe that!? This kid just compared himself to Nolan Ryan! What's next, is he going to tell us he feels healthy and believes in his stuff? Slouching? On the COUCH? I suppose next you're going to tell me this kid has a skateboard in his garage! That's it. Deal's off.

And of course, all of this is prefaced by the reiteration of what a solid kid Josh Hamilton was out of high school. Far be it from me to say anyone should be able to predict future trouble or substance abuse from a player, but going out of the way to juxtapose Hamilton's Beaver Cleaverness with Beckett's half smirk cockiness doesn't help to endorse the decision. It just reinforces that they were using subjective and meaningless criteria to make their pick. Throw stats/potential/team need out the window, Hamilton has better posture.

Josh Beckett or Josh Hamilton? For the past 10 years, the answer should have been Beckett. For the next 10 years, I'm not so sure.

The columnist that wrote this, John Romano, seems to be working from the assumption that in the 8 years between Hamilton being drafted and getting to the majors he was in some sort of suspended animation and that they won't count against his career. When asking the question "Was Josh Hamilton a better pick that Josh Beckett" you cannot remove ten years of on field performance and aging from the equation and say "Ok, the clock starts now." Just like every other piece of revisionist Tampa fluff we've read, it tries to magically erase 10-15 years of team, league and world history. It's inane.

At the end of the day, the story that Josh Hamilton turned out to be a great hitter. But he still lost, and despite what Romano thinks he can't get back, a huge chunk of his career. You can't just tack that onto the end. Both the Rays and Hamilton found success later on. Leave it at that and stop handing out needless pardons.

And don't ever cross a man with a crush on Josh Beckett.

Do You Have A Permit For That Uzi, Mr... Williams?

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Ted Williams name is in the news, and once again it's not a very good story. The Kid's unassailable record as a hitter has had to stand up to a lot of distraction, speculation and general unsavoriness in the year's since his death. This week's occasion to reconsider him is the theft of some memorabilia that was set to hit the auction block in NH this week.

A person swiped Ted Williams' hunting license and personal notes on local fishing holes during an auction preview in Swanzey on Thursday. The stolen items drew strong interest and could have brought up to $1,000 or more during yesterday's auction, according to auctioneer John Pappas. "Someone needed it badly before the sale," Pappas said after the auction.

Williams was an avid outdoorsman, making these kind of mementos as much apart of his non-baseball life as golf, the military and swearing during outtakes of commercials. One of the comments in the Union Leader article references the "surprise" people felt after the theft was discovered, mentioning the camaraderie and affection for Williams in the room. There were less than a dozen people in the room for that preview, creating a small group of suspects worthy of a dinner theatre mystery.

As far as resale, Auctioneer Pappas warned the thieves not to sell the stuff on Ebay, making him both a thoughtful crime victim and stater of the obvious. The last time I bought a fishing license it was from a Panama City Wal-Mart and was printed on receipt paper. I'll sell it to you for a nickel.

Entire League Exercises No Trade To White Sox Clause

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Why are the Chicago White Sox such an undesirable destination for this season's big name trade bait? By nearly all metrics, Chicago rates as a top tier baseball city. They have a nice park and devoted fans. They reached the playoffs last season, and while they're not exactly dazzling right now, you cannot count anyone out of the AL Central. Well, maybe besides the Royals. But after Jake Peavy but the kibosh on a proposed Pale Hose/Padres deak two weeks ago, the news that Roy Oswalt would also veto any deal to the Southside makes it seem like no matter how they try, the White Sox may just not be allowed to significantly improve their rotation. From Jose de Jesus Ortiz:

Oswalt isn't talking publicly about any trade speculation, but the (Houston) Chronicle has learned that Oswalt would invoke his no-trade clause if the White Sox attempted to acquire him.

Oswalt has a no-trade clause, and if he ever waived it to go play in Chicago it would be with the Cubs and not the White Sox.

So before folks continue to speculate on Oswalt, cross the White Sox off that list. Now, if the Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals call, I would expect him to say yes right away if the Astros approach him and ask him to do it to help the franchise rebuild for the future.

With that last paragraph namedropping the Cubs and Cards, one could speculate that the Peavy/Oswalt distaste for the White Sox is simple. They're both career National Leaguers uninterested in facing the deeper lineups and less familiar batters of the AL. Perhaps the club is just a victim of circumstance, being the most aggressive AL team in the market for pitching. Things could turn out different once they persue a pitcher from their own league, as they are thought to be doing with the Mariners and the clauseless Erik Bedard.

But then, Ozzie Guillen hasn't been the most popular player manager over the years. His numerous, and often petty, public feuds with players, managers and umpires must be one of the first things a player considers when thinking about playing for that club. No one likes working for a crazy boss. Right now Guillen is deflecting questions about his relationship with noted dick Orlando Cabrera. Neither side comes across as very likable, Cabrera loved calling up to the scorer to get errors transferred from his stats to his teammates', but it's not the first time Guillen has had to explain his past relationship with one of his own players. Who wants any part of that.

If the White Sox stay out of contention for the remainder of 2009, expect this to be part of the list of charges that accompanies Ozzie out the door to unemployment.

During Saturday's nationally televised tussle between the Cubs and Dodgers, 103-year-old interviewer extraordinaire Larry King won the chance to lead the Wrigley crowd in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Surprisingly, seven-time divorcée King crooned his way through the tune quite successfully:


Even better, King's Shatneresque pipes prevented him from being ejected from the park.

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when you put these fingerprints on my imagination:

Angels 9, Mariners 8: Overcoming a seven-run deficit to win a game in walkoff fashion may be exciting and thrilling and wonderful and joyous, but when the possibility for a walkoff walk is ruined RUINED by a silly game-winning single by Kendry Morales, well, that's just not going to earn a salute from me. Morales' bases-loaded hit capped off Seattle reliever David Aardsma's sad ninth inning in which he allowed two hits, four walks, and the deciding three runs. Next time, be a bit more selective, Kendry, and we'll send you two orders of Kris' special Key West chile-lime shrimp kabobs.

White Sox 7, Royals 4: Zack Greinke is fallible, people. Maybe it's too soon to blame the Sports Illustrated cover curse (but not too soon to blame it for the whole Lebron mess) but Greinke can sometimes give up the farm. Staked to a 4-1 lead after three, Greinke allowed the ChiSox come back to tie the contest before Royals relief rejects John Bale and Juan Cruz let in three ninth-inning runs that let Ozzie's boys sweep K.C. Greinke finished May a measly 3-2. Get ready for that All Star Game start, Roy.

Indians 5, Yankees 4: Jhonny Peralta's three RBI, including the game-winner, led the Indians to a Sunday win over New York that was just out of the reach of former Yankee Carl Pavano. With a tidy 4-1 lead in the eighth inning, manager Eric Wedge pulled Pavano despite a low pitch count. Three Cleveland relievers promptly blew the save and allowed the Yanks to tie it up. No matter because closer Kerry Wood worked out of a tight ninth inning jam to set up his mates for the walkoff win. Again, no shrimp was served.

Padres 5, Rockies 2: Adrian Gonzalez became the first MLBer to notch twenty tater tots as the Dads held off the sweep at the hand of the Jim Tracy Era Rox. Don't look now but Gonzalez is on pace to collect over 60 homers. Seriously, don't look now or you'll upset him. He doesn't like too much attention. That's why he plays in San Diego.

Braves 9, Diamondbacks 3: Rookie Kris Medlen earned his first career victory thanks to teammate Chipper Jones' ding-dong and 4 RBI. Chipper notched three hits despite the enormous painful bunions on his foot, but is shunning the idea of doing anything about it. "I've heard nightmares about the surgery," he said. "It's something that will go away with rest buy I'm not sure how much rest I'm going to get." Rest! The great healer. It actually helped me overcome chlamydia.