August 2009 Archives

Tonight's Questions

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There are no national TV games on tonight (thanks, football!) but no matter, you've probably got the MLB Network and you've definitely got the Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show dropping at 10PM EDT. Otherwise, we'll see you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

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The puns are a-poppin' because it's a perpetual pit of patheticness in Kansas City. David Glass and the Royals have decided that general manager Dayton Moore is doing such a rip-roaringly good job of guiding the U.S.S. Willie Bloomquist that they've locked him up for A WHOPPING FOUR YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION that will take us all the way out to 2014, or about the same year Billy Butler finally has his breakout season.

Thank goodness they kept their guy, because I heard the other teams were just knocking down Glass' door to steal the genius Dayton Moore away from the KC organization. Who else would be wise enough to acquire the $13 million man with a .267 OBP known as Yuniesky Betancourt in a trade? Who else would have the foresight to throw a few cool million at Mike Jacobs when they have Kila Ka'aihue cooling his heels in Triple-A? Who else would sign a bunch of free-agent relievers for a team with a rotation that consists of Zack Greinke and four schmucks?

Here's Bob Dutton, who broke the story:

The move confirms owner David Glass' belief that Moore has the organization pointed in the right direction despite this season's disappointing play. The Royals carried a 50-80 record into Monday's series opener against the A's at the Oakland Coliseum.

Hopefully, Glass will continue to make all the right moves to keep the Royals from EVER having a winning season EVER again, like re-signing Kyle Fursworth. But we shouldn't laugh. The Royals are a serious ballclub now.

(via MLB Trade Rumours)

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Get your laundry done by 10:00PM tonight, you dirty boys and girls. Kris Liakos returns to the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show tonight along with me and Drew "LtB" Fairservice. Our topics tonight include the super-tight NL Wild Card race, the baffling Scott Kazmir trade, and movies that are so bad they're good. I'm talking Police Academy 4 bad.

Tune in live at 10PM EDT or just download it through iTunes onto your portable music playin' device. Or put on your aluminum foil hat and adjust your braces because we're going to transmit this thing over the ether one day.

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One afternoon game is an outlier but two is a trend. In that case, we fill time with daytime game previews and hope for the best.

  • Rays at Tigers, 1:05PM: Tampa looks to split a four game series with Jim Leyland's boys but Jarrod Washburn has other plans. No, seriously, Jarrod's got reservations at the Morton's in Detroit and will pitch lights out against the Rays so he can get his mitts on that bone-in ribeye with a side of creamed spinach that much quicker. After all, the lefty is 12-3 with a 2.59 ERA lifetime against the Rays. James Shields will do his best to ruin Jarrod's best laid-plans. He must be a vegan.

  • Pirates at Reds, 1:10PM: Fans are already filling the lower bowl at Great American Ball Park for today's main event as Whitey McCutchen makes his heralded big league debut. Kip Wells strolls to the hill to face his former employer and fill in for Aaron Harang, whose season ended with an emergency appendectomy last week. Emergency appendectomy? Sounds like a cheap excuse for wallaby rape to this blogger.
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Ernie Harwell retired from the Tigers broadcast booth in 2002 but, surprisingly, did not shrivel up and die within 18 months. Nope, instead, he's writing up a storm for the Detroit Free Press and advocating the return of pepper.

I remember newsreels of the St. Louis Cardinals playing pepper before their 1934 World Series games against the Tigers. The Cards were acrobatic, adding all kinds of tricks and gimmicks to their games. Fans loved to watch. And the players also seemed to derive a lot of enjoyment.

Why did pepper disappear? The main reason is that ballclubs began to schedule such structured practice regimes before their games that there was hardly time left to squeeze in a game of pepper. Also, the modern players now can relax before each game in a luxurious clubhouse with their own café -- something more tempting than another kind of pregame exercise.

Ah, the halcyon days of 1934, when baseball clowns would entertain the masses with their acrobatic tomfoolery and when Dominicans had to use separate water fountains! None of this modern day nonsense of La-Z-Boy recliners in the clubhouse and big screen television sets with Atari games and something called a "latte". No wonder the young whippersnappers aren't playing pepper before the game anymore; they're too busy fooling around on laptop computerators, dialing up newfangled statistics like VORP and WARP and GORP!

Also, get off my lawn you butthole surfers.

(via Rob Neyer's Sweet Sweetback Baadasssss Spot)

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The Brothers McCutchen are finally being reunited! Teammates earlier this year on the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, Andrew was called up earlier this summer to play centerfield for the Pirates while Daniel will take the mound for his first big league start today against Cincinnati. The former Yankee draft pick had a tidy 7-1 record with a 2.29 ERA in his last 10 starts in Triple-A and posted impressive numbers with 110 strikeouts against just 26 walks in 142 innings pitched. He's still considered a 'prospect' despite the fact that he is almost 27.

Danny's little brother Andrew has already been putting on quite the show for the big league club and, despite losing three more games this weekend at Miller Park to extend their losing streak to 21 games in Bob Uecker's house, the future looks pretty darn bright. Especially against the Reds in a double dip today. Dusty's handing the ball to Kip freakin' Wells, who hasn't won a start in over two years.

Pittsburgh initially wanted to send Daniel to participate with Team USA in the IBAF World Cup, an event that sounds totally made up but is, in fact, real. However, with so many young arms with innings limits on the MLB squad, the Pirates decided it'd be best to give Danny a taste of the big leagues and send prospect Brad Lincoln to Regensburg, Germany for Team USA's first round matchups. It's all for the best; Brad Lincoln always wanted to see the Walhalla Temple anyway. And Dan McCutchen always wanted to strike out Wladimir Balentien, which he'll get the opportunity to do today at 1PM.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.

National League Wild Card: The Rockies flew too close to the sun. Just a few days after we thought they'd be battling the Dodgers for the NL West title, Colorado landed in San Francisco and proceeded to have their wings melted by Edgar Renteria et al. The Giants swept the Rox and moved into a tie for the Wild Card lead, 3.5 games ahead of the Marlins and Braves with five weeks to go. Matt Cain had an atypical mediocre performance yesterday and did not factor in the decision, but Renteria's late tetra tot pushed the Giants towards the win. We could let San Fran and the Fightin' Jim Tracies play out the rest of the sked against one another, but we'll settle for a three-game tilt in a couple weeks back in the city by the bay.

American League Wild Card: Hey, thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays for helping make this race that much more uninteresting. Cito's boys rolled over and played dead in a three-game tilt with Wild Card leader Boston this weekend including a SIX INNING SHUTOUT AT THE HANDS OF WASHED UP RECOVERING MASTURBATER PAUL BYRD. Toronto fans, you made fun of me when I called the Blue Jays offense "worsening" but you all owe me an apology after yesterday's game. Paul freakin' Byrd! The Sox maintain a 3.5 game lead over Texas and a 5.5 game lead over Tampa.

giantrock.JPGWhen the Rockies and Giants take the field at AT&T Park today, it will be the seventh time in less than 10 days the two wild card front runners have locked horns. Each one a close game with three runs the greatest margin for victory. The seven game mini-series featured two separate Tiny Tim v. You-bald-O pitching match ups straight from the inside of my dream-addled skull. After taking 3 of 4 in Colorado, placing the Wild Card in an early depth grip, the Giants won the first two of the return series back in SF.

Not only would a Giants win today give the light-hitting G-men a 4-3 edge in this recent set of tilts, the Giants will pull right up alongside the Rockies in the footrace for the Wild Card lead. With only three tete-a-tete games remaining, both teams need every opportunity to gain the upper hand if they can.

Games and series like this speak to something discussed over my way recently, expanding the playoffs further. I'm against it, as series like these Giants/Rockies games are very much "the playoffs." The Giants took 2 of 3 from the Diamondbacks mid-week to stay within shouting distance of the Boulders, increasing the leverage of this weekends battle simultaneously. Every game between now and the middle of September when the meet again serves the very same purpose. It's great, and what Bud had in mind when he gifted us the Wild Card in exchange for his mortal soul.

On top of the playoff implications, these games are great to watch. Two evenly matched teams playing tight baseball games in the cutesy way that is NL ball at its best. A pitching and defense rich team powered by a lovable fat man facing a deep team full of fundamentalists. It's what baseball's all about. Why not let them just go head-to-head for the rest of the month? Give the Dodgers the bye they think they've earned while letting the Padres and Snakes battle for which team survives the ultimate contraction I've got planned. Everybody wins!!

kazmir.jpgWord of Scott Kazmir moving from the Rays to the Angels grew from rumored to suspected to official last night, with two young minor leaguers and a Player to Be Named Later. A strange move for a team in the heat of a playoff race, even stranger considering Scott Kazmir's perception around baseball.

Kazmir spent the last few years as the Rays oft-injured ace, serving as the Opening Day starter in 2006 & 2007. As the key piece in the trade often used as exhibit 1A in the ongoing case "The People versus the Mets Braintrust." Obviously trading away a valuable young (cheap) option for player like Victor Zambrano is regrettable, but one nagging question remains: what, exactly, does Scott Kazmir offer?

Of his 5 full major league season, Kazmir posted one good year. One full, good year. His 2007 season featured 13 wins, 239 strikeouts and over 200 innings pitched. 2007 represents the last time Kazmir made more than 30 starts, and the last season his stuff could still be considered "electric."

After pitching his heart out for a terrible Rays team, everything went south for Kazmir. He missed the start of the 2008 season with injury, only to return with something missing. Namely, the zip on his pitches. During the Rays dash to the World Series, each Kazmir start became a endless slough of high pitch counts and bases on balls.

A few injury shortened years, a contact growing more and more exorbitant for the Rays' blood, the allure of potential and suddenly Kazmir isn't the guy traded for Victor Zambrano, he IS Victor Zambrano. A quickly aging arm with control and injury troubles who a deep-pocketed contender hopes will string together a few strong starts down the stretch. The Rays hope they can turn the same trick while quietly sliding a minor league talent in for a former ace without noticing much drop-off.

Diet Cokes to Daylife for the image and Rays Index for the link

Weekend Questions

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You'll also be able to enjoy the Yankees-White Sox on TBS on Sunday and the Phillies and Braves on ESPN on Sunday night. Otherwise, I'm off for a weekend of playing racquetball, noodling around with Madden '10 on Wii, and stuffing my face with food like this. See you Monday, same WoW channel.

(Minute Maid Park panorama via Flickr user B. Tse)

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Some folks might think that Chipper Jones was being a bit insensitive to the plight of the illegal aliens that he rounds up on his Double Dime Ranch and hands over to the border patrol, but I disagree. To wit, here's a quote from Chipper on the radio:

People say that it's mean to call the border patrol, but who else are you gonna call? I mean, I'm not gonna spend my whole offseason driving illegals back...

Exactly, Chipper! Because really, consider his options. What was he supposed to do, murder them in cold blood? Hire them to clear brush on the ranch? Encourage Bobby Cox to name them as batboys? No, Ol' Chip does the right thing and phones the authorities.

Some people make the border patrol out to be some sort of Gestapo, but they're people just like you and me, albeit people armed to the teeth and charged with building a huge fence to keep brown folks out, but again, people nonetheless.

(via Daulerio at ESPN Deadspin)



From all the way back in 1944 comes this screwball cartoon "Batty Baseball" from legendary Warner Bros/MGM animator Tex Avery. Avery was well-known for creating the character Daffy Duck, who he modeled off one of his friends with a crystal meth addiction.

Although it uses some pretty cheesy sight gags and puns, "Batty Baseball" had enough prurience and violence to make it enjoyable and completely inappropriate for overprotective parents to show their kids nowadays. So I wholeheartedly approve.

(via Bronx Banter blog)

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In two years, you might only see one of those dudes up there still roaming the outfield at PNC Park, but that guy might end up your NL MVP the same year the Pirates overtake five teams to win their division. Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run in yesterday's 3-2 Pirates win over the Phillies that helped Pittsburgh win an inspirational series against the World F'in Champions. McCutchen is a surefire Rookie of the Year candidate: .361 OBP, .486 SLG, and 15 SB with some sensational glove love in center.

Garrett Jones hit his 15th homer of the season in the eighth inning, a two-run shot that put the Pirates ahead. Actually, all 15 of the shots have come in the past two months. That makes one tater tot for every 14 plate appearances for Jones, a McGwire-esque rate for a guy that might not even be around in two years. See, the Pirates have a plan and it's young guys like McCutchen and Indianapolis' Jose Tabata that will be doing the heavy lifting in the next couple years. Seventeen consecutive losing seasons is a tough row to hoe, but if smart management could help the Rays, it can help the Pirates.

Coming up next for the Pirates: the Brewers, who just got swept by the Reds. Pittsburgh has no chance of finishing the year above .500, but third place in the division is actually within reach with a hot September thanks to Milwaukee woes. But in any case, the Pirates beat the Phillies! Maybe in two years, we'll see a shift of power in Pennsylvania hardball shift westward. For now, the Pirates can celebrate a simple series win and keep re-building.

(Photo by Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

Tonight's Questions

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  • CAN the White Sox escape from Fenway with a win? Find out yourself if you have MLB Network and a free night.

  • WILL the Braves suffer the indignity of being swept at home by the Padres? Javy Vazquez refuses to comply.

  • FISTER? I don't even know her.

  • DO you know anyone pictured on this blog? I sure hope I don't.

Thanks to those of you who joined in the fun during the liveglog today. Tell your friends! We take on all willing participants, even Cubs fans. See you tomorrow for your usual Friday faves. You too, squid baby. Same WoW channel.



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The higher-ups at MLB have deigned to give us a whopping six afternoon games today to make up for yesterday's short schedule. In that case, I'll do a WHIPAROUND liveglog between 2PM EDT and 5PM EDT. Why whiparound? Because the Yankees are playing and I am going to whip my laptop around the room if A.J. Burnett gives up the farm.

  • Rangers at Yankees, 1:05PM: The aforementioned Burnett is struggling, y'all, but he won't have Jorge Posada to argue with on the mound today. Backup catcher and all-around dreamboat Jose Molina will squat behind the plate; the Rangers counter with the battery combo of Dustin Nippert (making his first career start in NYC) and Taylor Teagarden. Who ya got?

  • Mets at Marlins, 1:10PM: The parade of injuries continues for the Mets, folks. Things have gotten so bad that Tim Redding (1-4, 6.10 ERA) is like their #2 starter now. Florida is looking for the home sweep that will propel them back into the Wild Card conversation while the Mets are just looking to get Wilson Valdez some quality at-bats.

  • Reds at Brewers, 2:05PM: As if things couldn't get any worse for Milwaukeeans, the Brew Crew takes the field today to avoid a sweep at the hands of the lowly Reds. The Fightin' Dustys have been riding the hot bat and sexy glove of Scott Rolen who actually stole third base last night. Give it back, Scott! They need that thing today.

  • Astros at Cardinals, 2:15PM: It took Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle all the way until August 26th to eulogize the Astros. Dude, we did that five months ago! Anyway, burgeoning NL Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter looks to put the screws to Houston today. I expect no less than a two-hit shutout.

  • Nationals at Cubs, 2:20PM: Milton Bradley and the Cubbies look to avoid another Rodney King-esque beatdown at the hands of the Fightin' Adamdunns. Bradley is 5-for-8 with two dongs so far in the series and is finally doing his part to help the Cubs fight for fourth place in the NL Wild Card race.

  • Dodgers at Rockies, 3:10PM: Vicente Padilla makes his Dodger debut in Denver, dudes. This couldn't possibly go awry.
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Friend of Walkoff Walk Larry Granillo from the delightful blog Wezen Ball was the guest writer today at Baseball Analysts, and penned a heavily-researched piece on the history of walkoffs. (Shh! Nobody tell Lesley Visser!) Read it if you have ten good minutes to spare, but if you want to learn a quick nugget, here's a quick portion of his intro:

But the home run is not the only way to earn a walk-off victory. For our purposes, we'll use the most liberal definition of a walk-off victory (WoV), which is "a run-scoring event in the bottom half of the last inning of the game that gives the home team a winning margin." This means that any event that causes a run (or runs) to cross the plate can be considered a "walk-off". Base hits, ground-rule doubles, bases loaded walks, steals of home, sacrifice flies, passed balls, wild pitches, errors, balks, and even interference can all lead to a WoV.

I thought it'd be interesting, then, to do a study of these non-home run walk-off events. When you start looking at the data, you find that there are a lot of questions that can be asked: if Ruth, Mantle, Robinson, et al are the leaders for home runs, who are the leaders for the other categories? Is it a certain type of hitter? And what kind of situation leads to the most WoV's? Are there any seasons where the WoV was abnormally frequent?

Most importantly, we learn that the all time leader in walkoff walks (between 1954 and 2008) is 1960's outfielder Ron Swoboda, who showed patience under fire a whopping four times. Other players who have accomplished the shrimptastic event three times: Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada, Gorman Thomas, and Darrell Porter. Royals pitcher John Wyatt must have been the Kenny Rogers of his day because he gave up a whopping five walkoff walks in his career. Yow!

Still, it's truly an act of kismet that the man who has recorded the most walkoff walks in history spent most of his career as a Met.

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Famed songwriter of "Listen to What the Man Said" Paul McCartney took in a Yankees game last night with "Kids in the Hall" producer Lorne Michaels and Prizzi's Honor star Jack Nicholson. Paul took the opportunity to debut a new toupee...looking sharp, Macca! Also, note that Jack Nicholson is defying all sense of good taste and wearing a Tinky-Winky purple shirt. I can only hope that bright purple is not a fashion trend or else my girlfriend will make me wear it.

Oh, the Yankees won the game last night and the trio above even sat through some actual rain. Kudos to them!

Tonight's Questions

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We're about to hit a major milestone here at Walkoff Walk. Within the next week, we'll have hosted our 500,000th visitor! And only 485,000 of them have been spambots! But of course, we're not concerned about huge numbers here anyway. We just want a couple hundred devoted readers to ingest our words and not walk away with a bad taste in their collective mouth. So, thank you, especially those of you who reload on the page and click on certain things that lead to cash to cover hosting fees.

Consider the video above to be your amuse bouche for the day. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.



Ozzie Guillen must have been in the stands at Dodger Stadium last week. How else to explain the presence of an inflatable slump-buster being bopped around by the Chavez Ravine chuckleheads?

(video courtesy of Diamond Notes, which is our West Coast source for hilarity)

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It's a very special day for fans of baseball and fans of new media! Courtesy of the Bronx Banter Blog we learn that on this date in 2002, the first video streaming coverage of a major league baseball game takes place on the internet. Approximately 30,000 fans visit MLB.com to see the Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3. In honor of this much-celebrated anniversary, there will be no liveglog today.

I'm kidding of course. There's no liveglog today because the games suck. Kidding, Tigers fans, kidding. But! I promise some hot whiparound coverage tomorrow. Here's the crap today:

  • Indians at Royals, 2:10PM: What are the chances that Luke Hochevar replicates Zack Greinke's record-setting 15 K performance today against Cleveland? Higher than you think, mostly because it's the same group of buffoons swinging at the high hard one. Still, even if Hochevar strikes out 27 batters, he'll probably still end up allowing 4 homers and the Royals will lose. Someone named David Huff starts for the Indians.

  • Tigers at Angels. 3:35PM: Edwin Jackson threw a complete game four-hitter against the Angels back in June. He'll look to build on that success today as the Tigers seek a sweep in Anaheim for the first time since nineteen dickety three. Hey, Detroit now has a larger lead in the AL Central than the Angels do in the AL West. My, how the pendulum is swinging back the other way!
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On the heels of last night's stellar 15 strikeout performance (which wasn't even his best performance of the season), it's time for the newspaper-writin' voters to collude and ensure that Zack Greinke wins the AL Cy Young Award. Even if he spends September losing to the middling Twins and brooding and being all emo, this small market employee has shown mastery in 2009. He deserves the award based not just on merit but also on sympathies. Plus it would help Joe Posnanski sell books.

Zack's closest rivals have faded of late despite their presence on contending teams. Detroit's Justin Verlander went 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA in August. Boston's Josh Beckett has given up a whopping 10 home runs in his last three starts and seen his ERA increase by half a run. Seattle's Felix Hernandez lost to the Indians. Also fading despite his presence on a fourth place team: Roy Halladay, who faced only AL East rivals in August and posted a mediocre 4.50 ERA.

Greinke himself has earned only two wins since July 1st, but let's take a step back and realize that he's gotten just 30 runs of support from the Royals in ten starts, and that includes a twelve-run assault on the Oakland pitching staff. Give 1968 Bob Gibson just three runs of support a game and even he won't notch 20 wins. Zack has 197 strikeouts against 39 walks in 181 innings. This is really good, and his outstanding performance just does not show up in his middling 12-8 record.

But most importantly, a Cy Young win would provide an extra level of insurance that one day, Zack Greinke may be able to pull a Johnny Damon and escape the miasma that is Kansas City. He's tied to the town until 2012 after signing a four year, $38 million contract in January but will only be 29 when that deal expires, the same age as CC Sabathia when he got his "eff you money" deal with the Yankees.

With each Cy Young Award in his trophy case, Greinke's price goes up geometrically. And with every dollar that Greinke's price goes up, the Royals get played out of the picture a little itty bit more. Not that I have a problem with Kansas Citizens or Royals fans, but really, don't those fans want to see great players like Greinke succeed?

(picture purloined from Josh at With Leather, who dropped this awesome line today: "Most guys go five innings and they start looking into the dugout like some 9-year-old that got lost in a mall")

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So the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided that yes, there will be some exciting division races this September. After seeing their lead dwindle over the last month, Los Angeles went headfirst into the den of thieves in Denver and promptly lost an extra-innings affair last night to reduce their NL West lead to two games. This film is on.

But don't think you're safe, Yankees/Angels/Phillies/Cardinals fans. I hear footsteps coming from every which direction, especially in the historical sense. Teams have blown far bigger leads far later in the season, so you better start getting modest and toning down your crazy magic number countdowns.

For history's sake, here then are the top five biggest late August-slash-September collapses in baseball history that were not committed by a Mets team. Because even we at Walkoff Walk will give a dead horse a proper burial from time to time:

  • 1964 Philadelphia Phillies: Just two weeks before the season ended, the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead over the second place Cardinals. They then lost 10 straight games without the help of Brad Lidge (he hadn't even been born yet!) while the Cardinals and Reds ended up tying for first place. At least the Phillies didn't go and do something silly like print up World Series tickets.

  • 1995 California Angels: I stole this one from Nate Silver's 2007 SI piece because frankly, I don't even remember the Angels being this good in '95. In the first year of Bud Selig's nefarious Wild Card invention, California held a 9.5 game division lead over the Rangers and a 12 game wild card lead over the Yanks as late as August 20th. A series of fortuitously awful bad luck colluded to make the Angels (and Rangers, as it were) miss the playoffs: the Yankees and Mariners each went 26-13 to finish the year while the Angels stumbled towards the finish line dragging a 12-26 record behind their bloated corpse. To add insult to injury, the M's topped the Angels in a one game playoff for the division title and Gary DiSarcina was deported back to Sicily.

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  • 1978 Boston Red Sox: Midway through August, the Sox had a tidy 9-game lead over the Yanks until New York rolled into town and treated Fenway Park like a toilet. Which is pretty much how 20,000 fans treat that joint on a nightly basis, but that's a story for a different day. The Yankees swept the Red Sox in a four game weekend series and used that as a springboard to take the division lead in September. Boston reeled off an eight-game winning streak to close out the year and force a one-game playoff, which, although it ended disappointingly, led to increased t-shirt sales.

  • 1969 Chicago Cubs: Long considered the granddaddy of collapses, the '69 Cubs played September as if every single one of them were running on Ron Santo's post-2001 legs. The team went 8-17 after a black cat played Ron Santo out of the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium. You'd think something as cliche as a black freakin' cat wouldn't kill a group of pro ballplayers, but the Cubs' nine game division lead turned into an eight game deficit and the Mets went on to win the '69 series and become the greatest franchise in sports history.

  • 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers: Sure, we all remember Bobby Thomson's famous tater tot heard 'round the world, but do you realize that on August 9th, the Dodgers came off a sweep over the Giants and held a 15 game lead in the loss column over their crosstown rivals? No matter, New York ran off a 16 game winning streak and whittled the Brooklyn lead to five games, after which Dodgers manager Charley Dressen was so disheartened, he lost his mind and had Don Newcombe executed for treason. More in-depth info here.

So be careful and always keep an eye on that rearview mirror, kids. You never know what motley crew of freaks is gaining on you and could be breathing down your neck in an instant.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey, remember when Walkoff Walk commenters used to congregate here at night and chit-chat about chicks and shit like that before everyone started re-tweeting each other's witticisms on the Twitter? Yeah, those days were fun. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

(Giants-Dodgers brawl photo courtesy of Flickr user artolog)

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...but when he dives headfirst into the photographers' pit trying to grab their delicious picnic baskets and has to be restrained by a teammate, I don't really have to say anything.

(David Zalubowski's AP photo purloined from Big Shots)

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Probably because they're all a pile of smoldering ash. But really, Jeff Kent must have forgotten all the nonsense he caused in San Francisco because he wants to go into the Hall of Fame with a Giants cap etched onto his head for perpetuity.

"Absolutely, but I believe that's not up to me anymore. I've had my best years in San Francisco, I've had the most fun throughout my career in San Francisco. There's no doubt all my accomplishments, my passion and my heart was left in San Francisco."

Things that were not left in San Francisco by Jeff Kent:

Speaking of which, Kent addressed that incident back in 2002, when he claimed he broke his wrist while washing his truck but reports indicated that it had broken while falling off his motorcycle doing wheelies. Does he have any regrets about it?

"No I don't. I don't think anybody knows the real story. That's what's so comical to me ... It was spring training. Players don't get paid, the games don't mean anything. And that was one of my better years, too."

I've never broken my wrist before but I can't imagine it inspires comedy. I guess he was referring to his hilariously awful lie. Or his embarrassment towards the steroid era but not that awful moustache.

(quotes courtesy of Andrew Baggarly's excellent Extra Baggs blog)

Late last night in Denver (note: anything after 11PM is considered late for me), Ryan "Steven" Spilborghs gave the Giants the red ass with his walkoff grand slam in the fourteenth inning. After GIDP'ing in the 10th with a runner in scoring position and misplaying an eventual Edgar Renteria triple that sparked a three run rally in the top half of the 14th, Spilborghs made amends by smacking a Merkin Valdez fastball deep into the Colorado night, putting the Rockies up four games in the Wild Card race over San Fran.

But despite the wacky undertakings of the fourteenth inning, we can put on our hindsight glasses and isolate a high leverage moment earlier in the game (read: when I was still awake). With his team up 1-0 in the fifth inning, Giants starter Barry Zito opened up the bottom of the inning by walking the leadoff hitter Ian Stewart, already Zito's third walk of the game. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba reached on a Juan Uribe error; Zito then recorded two outs on a Jason Marquis sac bunt and a Dexter Fowler grounder that got Stewart out at home.

Instead of ending the threat, Zito walked Clint Barmes on eight pitches despite putting him in the hole with an 0-2.count. With the bases loaded, Todd Helton watched three fastballs fly way over the strike zone and one slider dip away and the Rockies tied the game at one on the bases-loaded walk. The fifth inning saw Zito throw 27 pitches and just 14 of them for strikes. Look, I even generated one of them fanciful graphs that Drew uses all the time:

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Look at all that green! Stop dancing around the zone, Barry! Walks'll kill ya!

Granted, this situation called for caution. Throwing meatballs at Todd Helton (5-for-16 career against Zito) will only get you sauced, so it's possible Zito made a smart move by not leaving anything down the pipeline and giving up four runs instead of one. Still, Clint Barmes (2-for-15 career against Zito) was the man who should have ended the inning, especially once Barry got ahead 0-2. Zito pitched one more inning and finished with the lopsided line score of 6 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 4 strikeouts and a whopping six walks.

Zito's walks rate has dropped from a ghastly 5.1 per nine innings last season to a more human 3.6 per nine innings this season. Still, if he had culled this rate by just one walk last night, Spilborghs would never have had a chance to play hero.

(advanced graphics courtesy of Brooks Baseball)

If you missed the Furious Five Radio Show last night, it's embedded below and available for download at iTunes (just search for Walkoff Walk). During the show, our guest D-Mac advocated crimes such as illegally downloading video games and making illegal wagers on the circus.

Please to enjoy:


We also talked about baseball, I swear.

The song at the end of the podcast is "Don't Mess With My Popeye's" as recorded by Fats Domino, available for download at WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Yes, I've already forgotten my vow to end every podcast with a Warren Zevon tune.

Tonight's Questions

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Short day today, youse guys. If you have a spare ten minutes, please go back and read Drew's latest Kicking and Screaming. Otherwise, we'll "see" you on the "radio" tonight. Same WoW channel.

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A Monday with two afternoon games? Aren't we the lucky boys and girls today!

  • Phillies at Mets, 1:05PM: Cliff Lee is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.82 ERA in his short National League career. Could win number five be set up any better than a getaway game in Citi Field against the hapless Mets? Methinks the Phils won't need any unassisted triple play goodness to win this series 3 games to 1. Converted reliever Bobby Parnell will look to give New York's taxed bullpen some innings after yesterday's starter Ollie Perez couldn't even get out of the first yesterday.

  • Brewers at Nationals, 4:35PM: The Brew Crew is supposed to be in a long stretch of games against poor opponents that would provide them with fodder for easy wins. With a loss to the Nats today, though, they'll find themselves four games under .500 and 6-10 in their last three weeks against the losertastic Astros, Padres, Nats, and Pirates. Kudos to the Milwaukee ownership for discounting tickets and encouraging superb attendance this year, but man, your team stinks.

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. John Smoltz is the subject today, who made his triumphant return to the National League Sunday. Smoltz struggled through 8 starts in Boston until the former Cy Young winner was jettisoned following a particularly stinky outing against the Yankee juggernaut. That must be it, right? Close the book on his illustrious career, the old guy's lost it. Not so fast, Smoltz is far from done! While his traditional numbers are Julian Tavarez-ugly, his peripheral numbers were strong, in fact many of his secondary stats bare a striking resemblance to the Jered Weaver as pointed out by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.

Seeing how all the other, smarter writers have already chimed in on Smoltz and his 'comeback', I'll use John Smoltz's last two outings to demonstrate the value of spin measurements in Pitch F/x. The lasers used to track the location, speed, and position of each pitch event can be used for so much more! In addition to tracking your websurfing habits and eyes whenever a group of comely young co-eds pass by, the Pitch f/x science wagon is able to detail the spin direction and angle of each pitch. How? I couldn't even begin to tell you. Why? It really makes differentiating between pitches a breeze! Check out John Smoltz's mean 4 pitch mix after the jump!

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John Danks gave up chewing tobacco and then went out and held the Orioles to one run over six innings. Maybe there isn't exactly a causal connection between the antecedent and the consequent in that course of events, but whoever said I needed to prove causality died of oral cancer, so stick it.

Danks gave up his chaw addiction when he started suffering some circulation problems in his pitching hand about a month ago.

"I think it's something that it probably didn't help, but I'm over a month now without a dip, and it was something I wanted to do even before the finger problem," Danks said. "But definitely it's a battle for me to quit, but I feel like I'm past the worst, and it really is a big accomplishment for me to be able to quit."

In his preview for MLB.com, Jesse Temple suggests that "tobacco use can be known to have a hand in circulatory problems."

Wait a minute, does that mean that mechanically grinding shredded leaves of tobacco between my molars and cheeks to release nicotine into my entire circulatory system might actually be harmful to my health? I AM SO SURPRISED AT THIS PRESUMPTION AND DEMAND TO SEE PROOF. Oh, okay then.

I still firmly believe the head honchos at MLB need to ban chewing tobacco and dipping tobacco and deep-fried tobacco or whatever the kids are bringing to Turner Field nowadays. Dip and chaw are just as unhealthy as smoking cigs, and it's far more disturbing for the home viewer to watch David Ortiz spit out fetid black tobacco in HDTV than mere sunflower seeds.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.

American League Wild Card race: Truly this is a three horse race between the Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays. With the Yankees and Angels asserting their division dominance over the weekend, these three second-tier teams must focus on the wild card. The Rays took two of three from the Rangers over the weekend but Scott Feldman's short shutout yesterday kept Texas two games up on Tampa and still one behind Boston, who lost two of three to New York. Chicago and Seattle are both 7 and a half games out in this race and must focus on the AL Central race and the Sounders, respectively.

National League Wild Card race: The top four teams in the race paired off and battled this weekend; Colorado topped San Fran two games to one and Atlanta beat Florida by the same margin. This leaves the Rox three games up on the Giants with the Braves four back and the Marlins five back. Tim Lincecum dominated the Rox for five hitless innings yesterday before coming apart at the seams in the seventh, allowing a two-run tater tot to Seth Smith. Bruce Bochy's boys will line up again today against the Rockies to try and earn the series split and close within two games of the lead. Brian McCann led the Braves with 5 RBI yesterday to win the rubber match against Florida.

Mere moments after committing an error that led to a run and making one misplay that led to the tying run reaching base, Phillies second baseman Eric Bruntlett made history by converting just the fifteenth unassisted triple play in MLB history. It was also a 'walkoff' unassisted triple play. Evidence:


The best part about it? Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur was the victim of the historic feat and added to his FAILcoeur meme credentials.

UPDATE: Meech's video is far nicer and in sexy high definition:


Stolen with care from The Fightins.

There are three people in the world who say "Oh, my!" when they are surprised about something. CBS Sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, my 86-year-old grandmother, and Phillies' color commentator Sarge Matthews when he witnesses a coldcock knockdown in the Citi Field stands:


In Matthews' defense, my reaction to seeing that stunning punch was, "Heavens to Betsy!" and "Well darn my socks!". That belligerent Phillies fan sure struck a chord for Philadelphia domination, and he sure struck that dude's face.

Thanks for the tip, The 700 Level blogger Matt P.

angrymonkey.jpgNo matter how hard the baseball world tries to ignore the California Angels, they demand our attention. No matter how badly they start the year, no matter how overwhelming a tragedy they face, the Angels just keep coming. We've reached the point where we should concede this team is benefiting from divine interventions, concede they're a pious force to be reckoned with. Let's join together for 50 Hail Marys, hand the Halos the pennant, and move on to breakfast.

The Angels continue to defy expectations, defy math, defy logic, and defy physics, biology, and philosophy too. The "how do the Angels do it" topic grew quite hot around the nerdier ends of the blogosphere this week, with predictably hilarious results. Angels die-hards dismiss the numerical mumbo-jumbo as just that, demanding the SABRnerds wake up and take a look around the real world. The nerd herd scramble and shuffle their pages, eventually pointing out the Angels aren't quite as lucky as it seems. Jeff Passan suggests the Angels owe a deep measure of their success to keeping a strong core intact, augmenting it with the odd free agent or trade. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle.

Watching the Angels play can be a maddening experience. When your team beats them, it seems logical and inevitable. When they beat your team, you scratch your head and shout at the incompetent fools wearing your colors. There is no third scenario here because no single human alive actually likes the Angels. It's science.

The Angels run and run, putting pressure on the defense, goading you into errors. This works wonders against bad defensive teams, but doesn't seem to work so well in the playoffs where the good teams tend to hang out. As a team they perform frighteningly well in the clutch, which if you believe to be a repeatable skill gives weight to Passan's continuity theory. A group of players who thrive in high leverage situations stay together to continue overachieving together. It warms the heart while defying the odds. Impressive.

So the Angels keep on winning, they keep on running (26 steals for Bobby Abreu! He must wear special issue lead shoes into the field) and now they're scoring at a tidy league-leading clip. So tidy is the Angels offence, they could field an entire starting lineup of regulars with batting averages above or slightly below the .300 mark. The pitching staff is pretty weak behind Lackey & Weaver so the Angels better keep scoring runs.

The defenders of the faith get mighty defensive over the club's lack of respect, demanding all non-believers bow and genuflect before the mighty Scioscia while turning up their noses at the thought of the Toronto Blue Jays being a "better" team (which, by third order wins and third order wins only, they are. Suck it, rally monkey.) They make a good case for the little guy if you conveniently look past the $113 million dollar payroll, keeping them in Hunters, Abreus, and Fuentii while big money busts like Gary Mathews and Justin Speier brood in the background.

In the end, the Angels win baseball games. All day long we could go back and forth debating whether the math checks out versus the vagaries of a game played by humans. If I were an Angels fans, I'd be much more concerned with the paucity of pitching than aspersions cast by the cognoscenti.

newstretcher.JPGMore weekend Creampuff madness! A light week for those light in the loafers. Nary a contused testicle among them. Loafers indeed. Back in the Mick's day, you couldn't swing a hooker on Quaaludes without knocking over at least three guys playing through testicular torsion. Pantywaists.

  • David Wright, Mets: Yikes. The Mets just might set Wright down for the rest of the year after taking a fastball to the helmet. Head injuries are scary, stay away dreamboat.

  • Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgesr: Double yikes. Neck braces aren't cool. Can't they move the mound farther back or something? Kuroda is progressing well after his concussion, showing few if any signs of post-concussion problems. I wouldn't fault Hiroki one bit if he quit baseball to spend 23 hours a day in his room.

  • Jason Kubel, Fransisco Liriano, Twins: Kubel banged a ball off his knee while Franky Liriano's arm is pooped from carrying the weight of Minnesotans hopes and dreams since Johan left. Liriano is on the DL to rest his weary appendage while Kubel should take a couple days to contemplate shaving. Vote no, go full Klosterman!

  • All the Reds, Reds: Dusty borkened them all. Hide yer Vottos!

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers: The loss of the Rangers starting catcher paved the way for Ivan Rodriquez's triumphant return to Texas. Like Jesus, but with more steroids. Salty is out with recurring numbness in his right hand, likely caused from signing his mile-long name too many times. THAT'S A LOT OF LETTERS, AMIRITE?

  • Jorge Cantu, Marlins: Jorge is out with stiffness in his neck, caused by the generous helping of scorn we've sent his way over the past two seasons. Our scorn followed him into the pool and held Jorge's head under water for a really, really long time. He kicked and thrashed, straining his neck in the process. He weaseled away because he's so sassy and also greasy. Jorge is day-to-day.

  • DeWayne Wise, White Sox: Wise injured his shoulder the only way he knows how: saving something perfect. This time he dove in front of A.J. Piezynski's fist as the caustic catcher swung wildly at old people on the street. Wise didn't want to see A.J.'s perfect streak of 15 minutes without doing something obnoxious come to an end. "Not on my watch" Wise said while laying prone on the concrete. Pierzynski then stole his watch and walked away. Jerk.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, no surrender.

  • WILL the Red Sox success at home be enough to keep them from getting embarrassed by the Yankees again this weekend? Sabathia/Beckett on Sunday.

  • DO you miss the halcyon days of 2007-2008 when a late August Phils/Mets series had high drama and high stakes? Seems like only yesterday.

  • WHAT will the NL Wild Card standings look like after the Rockies/Giants series?

  • ARE you going to watch any of that televised Little League ball this weekend?

  • ANY quibbles with Pfork's Top 500 Songs of the Decade?

  • ANY chance Scott Spezio makes it back to the bigs? Stranger things have happened I suppose, and baseball IS looking for a new redemption story since Josh Hamilton did those Jaegerbombs.

Birthday shoutout to John Wetteland, pictured above with his wife. Oh, ZING.

End of the week. Waning weeks of summer (though you can't tell from the heat). Grab your honey and go fool around at the beach. Drew will be here all weekend to help you get the sand out of your crevices. Same WoW Channel.

TJ Simers Breaks The Ice With A Jackhammer

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We've had plenty of fun at the expense of oft-tarded LA Times writer TJ Simers. He likes to quote stir the pot unquote which usually just makes him look like a hacky antagonist. Well today, I'm tipping my cap to Simers. He's still being a hacky antagonist, but in today's column about Vicente Padilla, our boy Teej turned it to 11 and flat our harassed the new Dodger hurler. It bordered on self parody and I lollercoastered. To wit:

As introductions go, it was just like meeting Gary Sheffield again -- telling Padilla, "Word is you are a head case."

Better to say it to his face than behind his back, while also giving him a chance to set the record straight from his point of view.

But he just glared, visions of Milton Bradley dancing in my head, while Dodgers interpreter Kenji Nimura repeated the question to Padilla in Spanish -- also adding, "This is the man I told you about."

The problem child, finally speaking in response through Nimura, said, "If I caused so much trouble, I wouldn't be here."

"If that wasn't the case," I explained, "you wouldn't be here."

Another glare and Padilla said, "If you say so. What can I say?"

I thought he might explain why a baseball team wanting to win as badly as any other baseball team would just dump him, but every time I asked, he danced. Obviously, accountability is not one of his strengths.

"You asked me five times already," Padilla said through the interpreter, while making it clear he didn't like "the aggressive questions."

"This is the man I told you about." Classic. With LA's division lead now a mere 3.5 games, it's comforting to know that the most important thing for Simers is still getting out of his cushy office chair to go down and badger the new guy. The rest of the column takes potshots at Kenny Lofton, Randy Wolf and of course, Manny. Vintage crotchety vitriol from TJ.

Fittingly it's capped by Ramirez saying the most thoughtful thing in the whole piece. "Give the guy a break. We need pitching."

Way to stick it to the crazy old man.



Southern California Chevy dealers sure knew how to sell cars back in 1978. SEX APPEAL! Steve Garvey was the classic stud: women wanted to be with him, and men wanted to punch him in the nose.

I can only imagine how many women Steve impregnated in the backseat of that swank Camaro.

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Okay, spoiler alert: there's really no mystery and not a shred of murder intrigue here. A hopeful Mexican immigrant perished in the extreme Texas heat and just happened to drop dead on Chipper Jones' massive 10,000-acre ranch. After a ranch foreman stumbled upon the dead 22-year-old on the 83rd straight day of 100+ degree heat in South Texas, Chipper's dad Larry Senior phoned the police first and his son second.

But still, when the headline in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reads "Body found on Chipper Jones' ranch," there is a 100% chance that Walkoff Walk is going to jump to conclusions and assume Chipper finally crossed over from hunting deer with a bow-and-arrow to hunting humans with said device.

After all, the Double Dime Ranch is no peaceful resort:

The ranch is nestled in the heart of the "Golden Triangle", a South Texas hunter's paradise... In 2004, the ranch was opened to a limited number of sportsmen for exceptional hunting and recreational opportunities...The Double Dime has a fully automated skeet range, a rifle range, and stocked tanks for fishing.

Yeah that sounds like a relaxing place to hang out.

Enter Old Man

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If the top moment for fans so far this season at Citi Field has been Billy Wagner entering the game in the eighth inning of an eventual Mets loss that propelled the team to 14.5 games out of first place all while the opening riff of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blared over the P.A., then that is a sad statement about the Mets' 2009. Perhaps they should knock down Citi Field and just rebuild Shea.

And if I were Billy Wagner, I'd have changed my entrance tune when I became a Met in deference to the rival closer across town who just happens to be the best and classiest guy in the business. But I doubt Billy Wagner knows what "a deference" is.

Tonight's Questions

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Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.


Tomorrow is Friday, you ain't got s**t to do, some come back over here and we'll throw Friday Favorites at you so fast it'll make Hal McCoy's dentures spin. Same WoW channel.

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Chipper Jones and Mets fans have always had a love-hate relationship. Chipper loved to visit old Shea Stadium and smack some taters (so much that he named his kid Shea yadda yadda yadd), and Mets fans hated when Chip and the Braves smacked their rear ends in the division race every year.

Well now, the Mets play in CitiField and Shea Stadium is nothing more than blacktop and bad memories. So, what does Chipper feel now about the cold reception he gets from the Mets faithful? Jack Curry of the New York Times investigates:

"I just feel like they know that, over the years, I'm a pretty good dude," Jones said. "I'm not out to hurt anybody's feelings or anything like that. My job is to come out and beat the Mets 18 times a year."

I kind of wish that was in my job description, too. Sounds fun. And easy!

What about when the Mets fans boo you, Chip?

"Now I kind of smile," Jones said. "Ten years ago, I would've fuzzed up."

"I think if I were to come here and ever get cheered, you might see a young man have a premature heart attack," Jones said.

Ol' Chip, the only way you'll ever get cheered at CitiField is if you put on your camo gear, set Mike Lupica loose in the outfield, and hunt him like the cowardly animal he is. Heck, I'd pay 200 bucks to see that. Someone give that idea to the Wilpons. That'll help raise some fundage.



If I bet you $1000 to dash across the Camden Yards outfield, touch the Southwest Airlines ad on the left-centerfield wall, and hustle your buns back before the cops nabbed your criminally-trespassing ass, do you think you could do me a favor and scare the crap out of Juan Rivera on the way? Okay, thanks.

Video link courtesy of Mottram Paradise and this salacious linkdump.

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A day after the schedule-makers in the MLB offices granted us just one afternoon game, they've deigned to reward us with two today. Wow. Thanks, schedule-makers. You couldn't move up the Arizona-Philadelphia affair to 1PM so the Diamondbacks could get an earlier post-game flight to Houston? No businessperson's special in Toronto for the Red Sox-Blue Jays tilt?

  • Giants at Reds, 12:35PM: Last night, the Giants recorded their 20th shutout of the year. At this pace, they'll set the San Francisco franchise record for most blankings in a season which, if you think about it, is really a remarkable stat. For a Giants team in 2009 to hold more squads scoreless than all those awesome pre-expansion 1960s teams with Juan Marichal? Stunning. They'll probably get another one today with Matt Cain taking the mound against the hapless Reds.

  • Mariners at Tigers, 1:05PM: If, back in April, you thought this mid-week series would be such a delight and so important in the playoff push, I'll send you a cookie. Jarrod Washburn climbs the hill today against his former employer to try and help Dee-troit take the rubber match. Aussie southpaw Ryan Rowland-Smith looks to build on a five-inning, one-run start he recorded last year against the Tigers. Expect to see Bill Hall make his Mariner debut at third base to replace Adrian Beltre and his damaged jimmy.
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Willy Taveras was cut loose by the Rockies after a disappointing 2008 season and immediately snapped up by the Reds to for a tidy $6.25 million contract. After Corey Patterson left Cincy, Dusty Baker obviously needed an unproductive center fielder who doesn't hustle or hit his weight to fill his place. Taveras fits the role to a T. He's also Dominican and enjoys his salsa music a bit too much. Just ask Reds beat writer Hal McCoy:

Taveras doesn't get on base. When he does he doesn't steal when it is needed. He was brought in to be a leadoff hitter and couldn't do it and is now batting second. And he is below average in the field. What can Taveras do? He has a nice stereo set in the clubhouse that plays loud, headache-inducing salsa music.

And holy cahooties. Taveras just hit a ground ball to the mound and trotted toward first base. Didn't run. Jogged. Stopped before he got to the bag. Manager Dusty Baker immediately yanked him from the lineup, replacing him with Laynce Nix.

The Reds later announced that Taveras has a strained right quadriceps muscle. I don't question the injury, but it was awfully convenient.

As far as I'm concerned, and many other fans are concerned, Taveras can rot on the bench the rest of the season. I've seen nothing to merit the millions the Reds have flushed down the toilet when they brought this guy in.

Taveras' on-base percentages over the past three years: .367 in 2007 (good!) .308 in 2008 (uhh) .273 in 2009 (holy crap). He's never approached league average in OPS and has made 11 errors to go along with his 13 outfield assists over the past two seasons. UZR rates him as merely average over the past three seasons.

Maybe the Reds signed Willy because fella stole 68 bases at a 90% clip last season. But for a leadoff hitter who draws a walk about three times a month, the potential for him to steal a base are about the same as the chances we go a day without poking fun at the Mets.

But worst of all, Taveras' salsa music is just too loud for the 92-year-old McCoy's tender eardrums. Holy cahooties, indeed.

(via OMGReds.com, the only Reds blog worth reading)

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Courtesy of reader phillas comes this screencap of last night's Yankees-A's tilt out in Oakland. I'm thrilled that the camera caught me in the stands meeting up with my girlfriend and her dad, a diehard A's fan. We got along great even though my Yanks toppled his team 3-2 behind yet another Mark Teixeira tater tot.

And if you're wondering why I don't have more hilarious content for you today, it's because I locked myself in my pantry last night until I finished writing this guest piece at Baseball Analysts.

Tonight's Questions

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Wednesday has been wrapped up neatly with a tidy bow. Thanks for stopping by and glogging along to the ChiSox and Royals. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.


Contreras vs. Greinke. Get ready...

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UPDATE (8/20/09, 9:45AM) : KNOBLER WUZ WRONG.

Ever since general manager extraordinaire Jim Bowden got shitcanned by the Washington Nationals, the team has been a rudderless ship floating haphazardly through the morass of Adam Dunn base-clogging, poor pitching, and children frightened by Screech. Or has it? Interim G.M. Mike Rizzo oversaw the Nyjer Morgan trade, witnessed an actual eight-game winning streak, and was the figurehead who got the praise when the team signed top draft pick Stephen Strasburg at the last minute. Sounds like a good enough resume to keep the job.

I guess the answer is no. Rizzo is out, so who's the new kid in town, CBS Sports blogger Danny Knobler?

The Nationals appear to have chosen Diamondbacks executive Jerry DiPoto as their new general manager.

DiPoto has told friends in Arizona that he plans to accept the job, which opened when Jim Bowden resigned under pressure this spring. Mike Rizzo has been serving as acting general manager, and Rizzo was one of three final candidates for the job, along with DiPoto and Red Sox assistant Jed Hoyer, according to sources.

"[DiPoto] will be a heck of a pick, but what hasn't [Rizzo] done to earn the opportunity to stay?" said one National League executive who knows both men.

Not enough Jersey credibility, anonymous executive! My paisan DiPoto from Toms River, Jersey is in charge now! Fella spent eight years in the majors, pitching for the Indians just before they started playing well, and then the Mets and Rockies before becoming a scout for the Red Sox. He was a candidate for the Mariners GM job last year but can't be too disappointed inheriting an even worse team in the Nationals. Hey, get them to 70 wins within two years and it's a total success!

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New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon lost hundreds of millions of dollars when Bernie Madoff's super-awesome investment firm proved to be nothing more than a bundle of twenties stuffed in a shoebox underneath Bernie's twenty-four carat gold bed. But there was no way that Wilpon's empty pockets could possibly affect the Mets in a negative way, right? Via Metsblog presented by Verizon:

According to Baseball America, the Mets spent the least amount of money on top draft picks of any team in the major leagues, totaling $1.9 million on seven players.

In terms of team's from the NL East, the Nationals spent the most, followed by the Marlins, Braves, Phillies and Mets.

Oh, whoops. Looks like the cupboard is bare, fellas. Wilpon couldn't scrape together a few more sheckels from underneath his couch cushions to reward his newest class of young Mets? To put their spending in perspective, their crosstown rival Yankees spent $4.7 million on their top eight players. The Mets should be positively printing money what with their brand new palatial Dodgers Hall of Fame stadium, but instead, they've been cautious with their cash, failing to make a deadline deal and cutting costs by not maintaining their physical plant.

In all fairness (yeah when are we ever fair to the Mets?), the Mets didn't have a true first round draft pick because they traded it away to the Dodgers for some magic beans. They drafted local boy Steven Matz at the end of the second round and locked him down for just under $900,000 which is totally first round money.

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Jamie Moyer played the role of long reliever last night to near perfection. After starter Pedro Martinez was pulled from the game due to a pesky hourlong rain delay in the fourth, Uncle Cholly called on his newest bullpen dude to take over dominating the light-hitting Diamondbacks. Old Man Moyer ended up finishing the game, throwing six innings, striking out five, and allowing but two hits (the same number of hits he himself collected at the plate).

But hey, Green Man's appearance can only mean one thing: less than one month until a new "Sunny"! The dudes on the MLB Network were confused by this creature when they showed the highlights of Carlos Ruiz' tater tot; Greg Amsinger thought it was co-host Mitch Williams. Matt Vasgersian called him "Super Sloppy Double Dare Guy". Way to be completely outside the sphere of pop culture, Matt!

UPDATE: Via Glenn Howerton and ajc308 comes this vidcap of the nonsense that ensued in the MLB Network studios:


(screencap purloined from the good people at The 700 Level)

Tonight's Questions

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And I'm spent. Thanks for joining Walkoff Walk today in our adventures around the baseballblogosphere. I still mean what I said in last night's podcast, that I hate sports blogs, but I do not hate our readers/commenters one bit. You guys are the lifeblood of WoW. You too, Whiskey Cat. You deserve a massage.

Come back tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers are totally partying like it's 1999, y'all! We don't usually post the wholphin for backup catcher trades, but today, Texas made a trade with intrastate rival team the Houston Astros to bring catcher Ivan Rodriguez back into the fold. Pudge was last seen in a Texas uni back in 2001 and was a member of the team during the go-go nineties, when the Rangers made their only three playoff appearances (and lost all three to the Yankees...foreshadowing?!?)

Rodriguez will back up Taylor Teagarden, who has started while Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been on the disabled list.

The Rangers are responsible for a prorated part of the $1.5 million, one-year contract, which includes $1.5 million in incentives, that Rodriguez signed with the Astros in March, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Ed Wade, you've done it again!

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On the heels of last night's epic Kevin Gregg collapse that saw the Cubs blow a 1-0 ninth inning lead with two outs only to lose 4-1 on a Kyle Blanks walkoff dong, Andy Dolan at Desipio.com has come up with the perfect metaphor to describe the recent Cubs collapse:

There is a phenomenon in the animal world, particularly among dogs and elephants (of all things) where when they know they are going to die, they run away.

It is as though they want to spare others the trauma of seeing them die, so they just amble off to find a place to do it peacefully and quietly.

For a dog it might be a patch of woods or near an abandoned building. For an elephant it's probably anywhere south of the monkey cages.

For the Cubs? It was San Diego. If you can't do it in Pissburgh where nobody will notice, you do it in San Diego where next to nobody will.

It's sad, as Andy points out, since the Cubs and Cardinals were tied for first place in the NL Central just ten games ago and now sit a full six games behind St. Louis. It's not an epic collapse like the 1969 season when the Cubs blew an 8.5 game August lead to finish 8 games behind the Miracle Mets, and it's not like the time Ron Santo was leading diabetes by 5 games at age sixty and ended up having both legs amputated. But still, it's Chicago and it's a collapse, so we break out our schadenfreude hats.

I'm just confused about all the antipathy towards Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. What's the big deal about going 1-3 with three blown saves and an 11.25 ERA in the course of just two-and-a-half weeks? Oh...

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The Twins are thinking so far outside the box signing international amateurs that they've hopped the pond and are about to throw $800,000 at a 16-year-old German kid named Max Kepler-Rozycki. He's a 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder that some scouts are calling the next Shawn Green, except with a foreskin.

But the reason the Twins are betting long on a kid who is still two years away from his high school graduation is another pair of attributes scouts talk about, both inherited from his parents, former Berlin ballet stars. The first is genetics. Two athletes usually beget talented kids. The left-handed Max is so naturally coordinated he can hit a golf ball 250 yards--right-handed.

The Twins, really, are renting the intensity, passion and ambition that drive European high culture in a heady place like Berlin and hoping to convert those qualities into base hits.

That might be the worst sentence ever written in the English language. "Renting the intensity"? What's the hourly rate on ambition? And what is the conversion rate for passion to base hits? Is that like converting Fahrenheit to Celsius?

Obviously, the Twins are looking to exploit a burgeoning German market that is desperate to embrace the American pastime and spend their Euros on Justin Morneau jerseys instead of currywurst sandwiches and shitty electronic house music. And okay, maybe Max never actually took ballet lessons but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do a lazy Photoshop.

(via BBTF Newsblog)

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Sometime just before the stroke of midnight, when San Diego State superstar stud Stephen Strasburg was about to turn into a pumpkin, the Washington Nationals pushed forth an offer decent enough to make Scott Boras fold like a cheap prayer mat. Yep, Strasburg's a Nat:

As was everyone's prediction, the 21-year-old righty from San Diego State inked the richest deal in MLB amateur draft history, nabbing $15.1 million over four years.

Wait, that's it? Just $15 million for the kid who has never issued more than two walks in a single start? Only $15 million for a guy who went 13-1 with a microscopic 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched last season? Merely $15 million for a guy whose agent initially asked for $50 million over six years? Strasburg got scammed!

Yeah, $15 million is a new record, surpassing Mark Prior's first contract by 50%. And yes, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect and you have to take risk into account and Strasburg may never even set foot on the mound at Nationals Park in an actual MLB game (which, if you think about it, sounds good to me).

But this low price seems to be either a result of teams controlling costs in the Xtreme Depression, a result of dumb Rob Dibble's stupid blatherings, or, more likely, an effort by Scott Boras to get the deal done at any price and prevent embarrassment for him and his client. I predicted a $20 million deal for Strasburg. Obviously, the Nats saved that extra $5 million to hire a new scoreboard operator.

That prompts two questions: who had more to lose if this deal didn't get done, Boras or Nats owner Stan Kasten? And if the two parties spent the last 60 days with their dicks in their hand and didn't consummate the deal until the last five minutes before the deadline to get the deal done, why not make the deadline for signing five minutes after the draft is over?

(I stole that awesome pencil sketch from jpangan3 on Flickr)

Last night, Wrigleyworld author Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew fame joined me and Drew on the ol' podcast. We learned that Drew's one-track mind is so narrowly focused on the Blue Jays that he wrote to the team about lowering the outfield walls in the Rogers Centre so he can lean over and stroke Vernon Wells' luscious locks.

Other topics of discussion included Derek Jeter's shortstop hits record and why it's the greatest record in the history of humankind, and banning beer at baseball stadiums on a permanent basis.

Check out the latest episode of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show in all its delicious entirety over at Blog Talk Radio. Or, use this nifty embedded player that I just figured out how to use:


The awesome live Warren Zevon tune at the end was his cover of the Leonard Cohen song "First We Take Manhattan", recorded at Cleveland's Empire Concert Club in January 1992 and available for download at the Internet Archive. In fact, from this point forward, every WoW radio show will end with a Zevon tune. Objections?

Tonight's Questions

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That wraps up the broadcast Monday, folks. Please join us later tonight on the podcasts and we'll recap the whole ball of wax tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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Hooray, it's deadline day for #1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals to come to terms! It's like Christmas morning, except without presents under the tree or any joy and excitement whatsoever. Let's put it this way: either Strasburg signs a zillion dollar contract and folks start bemoaning agent Scott Boras' greedy ways, or Strasburg doesn't sign, the Nats lose their rights to the stud pitcher and folks start bemoaning agent Scott Boras' greedy ways. Or the kid just goes to Japan. Either way.

The Nats have already made a record-setting offer to Strasburg, somewhere north of the $10.5 million that Mark Prior got way back in 2001, probably around $15 million. But word on the streets is that Boras and Strasburg want to blow that offer out of the water, more than $20 million, or about 4 million of Joe D's Mr. Coffee rebate coupons.

The sticking point probably isn't even the money, or the contract length. It's about a baseball team trying to please their paying fans and a sports agent trying very hard to please his paying clients. Yes, it's not just about the Nats fans and Stephen Strasburg. This extends to ALL baseball fans and ALL of Boras' clients. You see, if the Nats get Strasburg for a reasonable price, Herr Selig and his cabal of owners will claim victory. If Boras breaks the bank, his appeal will skyrocket to future clients.

Both parties are going to bend but only one is going to break. The deadline is in 10 and a half hours. I'd warn you to get ready for fun and excitement, but this one's probably going to end in a fizzle. Not unlike the typical Nats season come June.

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. We've looked a hangers and sliders and the like, but today we're looking at the heat. No more messing around with the pesky off-speed stuff, today is the straight goods. Just how straight are those goods anyway?

The four seam fastball is a staple pitch of 99% of all big league pitchers. As it is generally straight, it is best if thrown hard. The harder the better. TV radar guns light up with juiced numbers showing your friendly neighbourhood fireballer hitting triple digits. That doesn't make it a better pitch, but it sure makes for some fun. Not all major league pitchers touch the century mark, but nearly all have to throw the fastball at one time or another.

After the jump you'll see "analysis" of two of baseball fastball darlings: Justin Verlander and Neftali Feliz with something of a control in Adam Wainwright. Wainwright's fastball ranks as one of least effective pitches in baseball though he's one of the best pitchers in the National League. Neftali Feliz has only been in the majors for a few weeks but he is making believers of anyone who watches. His fastball is consistently clocked above 100 to go with a devastating slider. Verlander pounded the Red Sox into submission in his last start, touching 100 on the tough-to-impress Pitch F/X gun in addition to the collected scouts and analysts. He threw his fastball nearly 65% of the time to great success, and you'll see why after the jump!

This Kid Must Love Josh Hamilton's Balls

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Because during yesterday's Red Sox-Rangers tilt, he managed to snag two foul balls off the bat of Josh Hamilton in the same at-bat, just three pitches apart. The probability of something like this happening? About 1-in-250,000, but the chances drop when fans are wearing their Jeff Francoeur endorsed Rawlings mitts.

(via Homage Clothing and ShareBro Skeets.)

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Mets third baseman David Wright doesn't remember his former teammate Ryan Church's struggles coming back from a concussion last year. Of course not, because Wright got beaned by a 94 MPH Matt Cain heater and is now suffering through his own concussion-like symptoms now. Fella doesn't even recognize the names in yesterday's Mets lineup, probably because they're all third-stringers, has-beens, and never-will-bes.

But when Church suffered through his concussions last year, the team was not cautious to allow Church to heal completely. They brought him back too soon from two (2!) different concussions and Church's production suffered as a result. They're being more careful with Wright this year, placing him on the 15 day D.L. and probably keeping him out for the rest of the year. It's easy this year, you see, because the Mets are like 38 games out of first place.

But no worries, future victims of Matt Cain's 94 MPH head-seeking fastball! The nerdy scientists have invented a new kind of helmet that can withstand up to 100 MPH of speedy hardcore pitch action without any negative effects, like concussions or memory loss that prevents you from remembering the last time the Mets had their shit together. And the players are absolutely enthused about the new helmet style, right, Frenchie?

"No, I am absolutely not wearing that," Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said with a laugh after seeing a prototype, as if he were being asked to put a pumpkin on his head. "I could care less what they say, I'm not wearing it. There's got to be a way to have a more protective helmet without all that padding. It's brutal. We're going to look like a bunch of clowns out there."

Okay, so I cherry-picked a quote from a story that was published days before Wright got plunked to make Francoeur look silly. But at least David Wright's own quote foreshadowed his noggin's untimely demise:

"If it provides more protection, then I'm all for it," said Mets third baseman David Wright, who last week dodged a Brad Thompson fastball traveling on a frightening vector toward his head. "I'm not worried about style or looking good out there. I'm worried about keeping my melon protected."

We can only hope that Major League Baseball forces its players to wear this new-fangled helmet as soon as possible, if only to protect other folks' melons from splattering their juicy goodness all over home plate.

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.

  • American League Wild Card: Texas closer Frank Francisco carried around the fate of the Rangers in his pocket like so many nickels and dimes. On Friday night, big fella single-handedly opened the floodgates and let in six Red Sox runs in the ninth to blow the save and give up the game, pushing Texas back to 1.5 back in the race. On Sunday afternoon, Frankie shut down Ellsbury, Pedroia, and V-Mart for the save and the rubber game win that thrusted the Rangers into the Wild Card lead by a mere 0.5 games. Fifty-two-year-old Gregg Zaun smacked a tetra tot yesterday that helped Tampa take the last two of three against Toronto and keep pace, 3.5 games behind Texas.

  • National League Wild Card: The Marlins took two of three from the Wild Card leading Rockies this weekend and now sit just 2 games out. Meanwhile, the Giants can concuss all the Mets superstars they want but if they don't actually win some games against losing teams like New York, they won't make up ground. Chicago picked up a game and a half by toppling the Pirates and are now tied with the Braves, 3.5 games out.

Thank goodness for the Wild Card, bitches, because the division races are beginning to resemble your sister on junior prom night: a sure thing. Besides the White Sox, no second place teams are within 4 games of first place. I'd give credit to Bud Selig for instituting the six-division system that gave birth to the Wild Card, but then I'd have to ignore all his many, many career missteps and mistakes. Like this fashion faux pas. I digress. Wild Card, bitches.

All in the Family

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A pretty cool news item came out of a seemingly innocent rehab start made by Tim Hudson this week. Teammates Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann, who through Spring Training, the World Baseball Classic, and the regular season likely take in 200+ games a year, sat in the front row of their teammate's start for AAA Gwinnett. It's admirable that they take care of each other and want to support their ailing friend.

While I'm not quite sure of this is the blogging equivalent, we at Walkoff Walk would be remiss were we not to give a shout out to our friend, commenter, twitter master, tumblrer, tipster, Heist-attender, and all around good guy Matt_T from Atlanta. Matt came home last night to find his home badly damaged in a fire.

I can't even image what that might feel like, but I know it wouldn't be good. All our thoughts are with our friend Matt (who's okay, we understand) and hopefully he can get back on his feet in no time. I'm sure we've all got some Braves merchandise, Mastadon tshirts, and Hold Steady records kicking around to help rebuild your collection. Chin chin, friend.

Turner Field image courtesy of Catalyst Space

basewars.jpgTry as I might, I can't shake the good-natured ignorance of exploding things that travel great distances. No, I'm not talking about the Mets current West Coast swing, I'm referencing the glorious Hit Tracker Online site and their Golden Sledgehammer list.

Some interesting names populate the list, currently topped by Nelson Cruz of the Rangers. Albert Pujols and his chuckle stick sit 4th in a virtual tie with the injured Torii Hunter and Toronto's Lyle Overbay. Lyle Overbay? The mild-mannered first baseman with the slick glove and splits so unsightly he's platooned? Overbay only has 12 dingers but his spray chart shows most are hit to centerfield.

The Golden Sledgehammer ranks sluggers based on the average standard distance of their home runs. What is standard distance, you ask? Allow the good people at Hit Tracker to inform and entertain:

The estimated distance in feet the home run would have traveled if it flew uninterrupted all the way down to field level, and if the home run had been hit with no wind, in 70 degree air at sea level. Standard distance factors out the influence of wind, temperature and altitude

For an avowed nerd like myself, this is cat nip. This is the US Weekly of baseball stat nerding. Considering all the revolutionary technology headed for the baseball world, this type of "reporting" will only improve. Just as the baseball world buzzedwithasmallB over Justin Verlander touching 100 on the real (not TV underlined) radar gun at Fenway this week, big massive home runs with crazy bat speeds gets the geek blood racing like only a flight of stairs can.

What will all this mean for the future? Will a long drive baseball tour sprout up, touring the county fairs of the nation with over-sized roid monkeys pounding dingers into corn fields two towns over? Hardly. Hit Tracker is just like all over modern baseball tool: a good and fair way to evaluate two events in context.

There is one other place you'll see many of these same names together: the bottom of the contact rate leaderboard. Aside from E.T. Pujols (86.3%) and Overbay (81.6%) these sluggers all contact fewer than 70% of the pitches they swing for (Overbay, with only 12 home runs, had better be putting the ball in play.) And that is quite all right.

We discussed strikeout bias a few weeks ago, nothing's changed since. If you'd like to employ Nelson Cruz or Mark Reynolds and ask them to be a doll and move the runner over, you be my guest. If it was me, I'd be sitting in the dugout furious trying to remember which sign means "hit it a mile."

Weekend Questions

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That's a wrap on the second week of August, folks, and what a week it was for people getting hit by foreign objects. Just ask Rick Porcello, Shane Victorino, or Adrian Beltre. Be careful out there, you never know what's around the next corner.

Your nationally televised weekend games include a trio of FOX games tomorrow at 4PM: Giants at Mets, Indians at Twins, and Phillies at Braves. Then, tune in at 8PM for Red Sox at Rangers on MLB Network, and once again on Sunday afternoon at 2PM on TBS. Finally, the Phillies and Braves will tussle again on ESPN at 8PM Sunday night. Stop all your complaining about East Coast bias. The Rangers are totally in Mexico or something.

See you all again on Monday. Same WoW channel.

(Progressive Field sunset photo courtesy of Flickr user fusionpanda)



Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio never met a coffee maker he didn't like. Obviously, because he did about 392 different commercials for Mr. Coffee including the one above in 1978. Did you know that Joltin' Joe was singlehandedly responsible for giving out those $5 rebate coupons and it was legally required that all pretty girls give him a smooch in gratitude for his charitable ways? Look at all those cackling hausfraus sucking down the java like it was the nectar of the baseball gods!

Other interesting fact: if you serve me from a Mr. Coffee machine, I will bash you over the head with the glass carafe.

creampuffshirt.jpgOur pal Drew leads off this week's edition of "What's Up, Creampuff" because he went to a bachelor party last weekend and recapped it on Ghostrunner with the following excerpt:

Fast forward XXXX hours: I awake in the hallway of our hotel. On the 16th floor. A room attendant stands over me.

"Where is your room?" He asks sweetly.

Obviously, Drew was lying prone in a hotel hallway because he was raped by a wallaby. END MARSUPIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT NOW. I'll let the man himself run down your other 'puffs:



It is true. I was a victim of sans-consent pouch sex. And I'm not even half the Creampuff of most of these dudes. Two weeks worth!

  • Justin Upton, Snakes: One of the best young players in baseball, felled by the most common and benign sounding injury of the year. THE Justin Upton is down with an oblique but figures to make his triumphant return after two weeks. Mark Reynolds tater tear during Upton's absence also made a Creampuff out of the "lineup protection" school of thought.

  • Scott Schoeneweis, Snakes: Sadly, Schoeneweis is suffering from depression stemming from the death of his young wife. Tragic stuff, I'll choose to recall a much headier time in Scott's life. During his excellent 2005 season with the Blue Jays, I sat behind the bullpen and observed Schoenweis strut past a seated starter who chose to spend the game in the bullpen. Schoeneweis performed a strange, exaggerated walk; paused; and farted directly in the face of his teammate. Hurry back Scott.

  • Rocco Baldelli, Red Sox: Not a bad year for Rocco, all things considered. Only his second trip to the deel in '09. His Socks are 3-5 without him, a true indication of Rocco's worth. Shockingly, it isn't Rocco's cells or plasma that have him sitting out, it is a bruised ankle suffered fouling a ball of his foot in batting practice. That is the true Creampuff we know and love.

  • Gary Sheffield, Mets: Sheffield missed 6 games with an aggravated hamstring injury. How can one tell if any of Gary's parts are more aggravated than the rest. He came back only to be hit on the arm. Gary is now day-to-day with teeth ground to mush.

  • Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriquez, Yankees: Posada took numerous foul tips and errant throws to his stubby, misshapen fingers. Alex Rodriquez took a pitch in his giant elbow pad. Posada will only miss one game while A-Rod will miss two. The lesson here: don't be a catcher.

  • Evan Meek, Pirates: Meek is out with an oh-bleek. The right hander experienced discomfort for several days after sustaining the injury. If the pain doesn't subside he will travel to Whoville for a visit with rhyming injury specialist Dr. James Seuss.

  • Jack Wilson, Mariners: The M's shortstop of the future the time being left Wednesday's game after suffering an injury attempting to make a diving catch. He's day-to-day for now but is expected to make a speedy recovery, buoyed by the news that he's not Adrian Beltre.

  • Rich Aurilia, Giants: Just days after returning from a crushing case of "you aren't good Rich" the Giants veteran is sent to the DL once again. This time he's caught "nope you still suck old man." The official cause of forced retirement is left ankle tendinitis but the roster manipulation says otherwise. Aurilia complained of "being achy" though he's confident he'll "be activated when...eligible." Don't hold on to hope too tightly Rich, you're liable to strain a oblique.

The dastardly Wrigley fella who threw a beer at Shane Victorino has turned himself in and will face charges of battery. Johnny Macchione, a 21-year-old suburban Chicago resident, will be charged with a misdemeanor and faced the press after leaving court last night. Hey, he's all contrite, unlike that villain Michael Vick!

 

The transcript for you folks still using Netscape Navigator 1.2:

"It was a big mistake. I'd like to apologize to Shane Victorino," Macchione said after bonding out of a police lockup tonight, referring to the Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder he doused Wednesday night. "It really is nothing against him. It was a mistake like I said.

"The Chicago Cubs -- I'm sorry I disgraced you, the fans of the Cubs, myself, my family. And that's all. The courts will handle itself."

Uh, Johnny, a 'mistake' is when you stand up to cheer and accidentally knock your precariously-perched beer onto the field below you. But throwing a beer onto a poor, innocent Hawaiian athlete? That's just your drunk ass being criminally dumb.

(via the good people at Deadspin)

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Pity creampuff'd Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre! Just a few days after returning from rehabbing his injured shoulder, fella is headed back to the DL with a cringe-inducing injury. Kaz Matsui sympathizes:

Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre might miss the rest of the season after taking a hard one-hopper to his groin off the bat of a White Sox player Thursday night.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said the Gold Glove third baseman is out indefinitely, and might need surgery because of bleeding in a testicle. Beltre does not wear a protective cup because he says it's uncomfortable.

Yes, wearing a cup is uncomfortable. But wearing a cup 162 times a year for 20 straight years cannot possibly compare to the discomfort caused WHEN YOU TAKE A LINE DRIVE TO THE POUCH.

Still, kudos to Beltre for actually staying in the game after the injury and playing all 14 frames with a fractured nut. Protect your goody bag, kids.

Tonight's Questions

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There are only three games on the sked tonight; if you've got MLB Network, you can catch the Astros-Marlins jam at 7PM. Otherwise, we'll see you tomorrow with all your Friday favorites. Same WoW channel.

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Things is about to get litigious in the Shane Victorino golden showers incident from last night. As per ESPN:

The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino have filed complaints with the Chicago Police Department over the beer-throwing incident on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, according to Cubs chairman Crane Kenney.

The Cubs will work with the CPD in pursuing the individual who threw the beer and will press charges. The Cubs are utilizing all of their resources, including video tape of the incident.

Good move, Cubs. That jerkoff committed a flagrant crime and deserves to be penalized to the fullest extent of the law. I hope he's banned from Wrigley Field for life and forced to launder Shane Victorino's undergarments for the next five seasons.

In light of the incident, our pal 'Duk wants Wrigley Field to get to the root of the problem, get rid of beer sales and host some dry games for a while:

However, I need to stress that I'm not calling for a Wrigleyville Prohibition simply based on this one incident. It comes after a series of events including Bobby Howry being challenged to a fight on the mound, Jacque Jones'(notes) head turned into a target for a baseball and more trash showers from the bleachers than I can count. Philly fans wondering why Chicago fans haven't been affixed with a similar troublemaker stereotype have every right to ponder because you can basically fill an entire rap sheet with Wrigley Field transgressions from the past decade.

Great point, 'Duk. But I say take it a step further and give every baseball fan a taste of what it's like to have a dry game: once a season, beer should be banned at every single ballpark on the same day. It'll be Prohibition Day, and folks'll dress up in the style of the 1920's with bowler hats and tailcoats and flapper skirts, curse out that cad Hoover, and dance the Charleston during the seventh inning stretch. Just don't make it the same day as the next Walkoff Walk Field Trip.

I may never get the "Prohibition Day" movement rolling, but at least I accomplished something today. Thanks to my incessant tweeting, I'm pretty sure Braves organist Matthew Kaminski will be playing "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer On the Wall" when Victorino comes to bat at Turner Field tomorrow night:

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All games are Eastern Daylight Time, except the Pirates/Rockies tilt which is occurring in an alternate dimension where space and time have ceased to exist:

  • Rangers at Indians, 12:05PM: Cleveland has a tidy 14-7 record since July 21st. Maybe if they'd played baseball at such a high level since April, my prediction that they'd win the Central wouldn't look so ridiculous. The Rangers need to win this rubber game to stay close in the Wild Card race and do so by asking Scott "Don't Call Me Josh" Feldman to throw a gem.

  • Royals at Twins, 1:10PM: The Twins rotation is so bad this month that they had to trade for Carl Pavano to be their ace. Carl pitched a short shutout over the Tigers last week in his Twinkie debut; without Pavano, Minnesoter starters are 3-6 with a 6.99 ERA this month. Hey Gardy, I heard Sid Ponson is available if you need an anchor in that rotation.

  • Tigers at Red Sox, 1:35PM: Which is more of a crime: that the Red Sox are about to complete a season sweep of the Tigers or that the two teams only faced each other seven times this year? Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander will try to prevent the Tiger oh-fer while Clay Buchholz looks for his first win in a month.

  • Padres at Brewers, 2:05PM: Things have gotten so bad for the Brew Crew that yesterday has been dubbed "Black Wednesday" thanks to the dismissal of hitting coach Bill Castro, the demotion of shortstop J.J. Hardy and the outright release of third baseman Bill Hall. If the Padres complete the sweep today, look for Bernie Brewer to be forced to enter AA. Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra looks for his fifth win since the All Star break.

  • Phillies at Cubs, 2:20PM: If you or anyone you know can identify this jamook who threw a beer at Shane Victorino, please contact your local authorities and let them know that you recognized a dude on the Internet. I'm sure they'll be thrilled. Cliff Lee takes the mound looking for the Philly sweep.

  • Pirates at Rockies, 3:10PM: I'm pretty sure this game isn't even being televised.
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At least that's what Sam Mellinger thinks. In a column today where he pretty much blames the strike of '94 for ruining the once-successful Royals franchise (and incorrectly makes the argument that a salary cap would have helped out the team), Mellinger says this:

Persistent losing appears to have changed that. (David Glass) is now operating like successful team owners, by committing more money, by hiring the best people he can and letting them run the baseball team.

But the Royals are no longer viewed as an industrywide joke; the punchlines mostly stopping when Moore was hired and baseball insiders started noticing a renewed commitment to scouting and player development.

You hear that, chuckleheads? The Royals aren't going to suffer your endless punchlines and knock-knock jokes anymore. They're a serious organization now and will no longer make stupid free-agent signings or ridiculously bad trades. SO STOP MAKING FUN. You too, Yuniesky Betancat.

Mellinger continues:

The Royals spent more on last year's draft picks than any team in baseball history. This year's big-league payroll, $70.6 million on opening day, was a club record.

Their focus on rebuilding the organization from the inside is a reflection of that, too. A record $11 million on last year's draft picks is the clearest recognition that the Royals must get back to the days when their farm system produced (George) Brett, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Cone, Willie Wilson, Dan Quisenberry and more.

Yes, that is exactly the best way to resurrect a team that has suffered through one of the losingest decades in history, by throwing more money at the problem. This comes on the heels of years of Royals fans complaining about said salary cap and how their small-market team cannot compete with the big boys in New York and Boston.

Well, the 2008 Rays invalidated that argument. You can succeed with a low payroll team if you run it wisely from the ground floor up, which is exactly what the Royals didn't do. Not only did the team cut the major league payroll after the strike, they cut the funding for signing draft picks and forced their minor league teams to sew their own uniforms.

But now, hey, David Glass isn't going to slash prices anymore, he's going to spend his way to a better franchise! So, put away your Royals joke book. That one about a Jew, a nun, and Hal McRae walking into a bar just doesn't make me laugh anymore.

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During yesterday afternoon's Giants-Dodgers tilt, Tim Lincecum was cruising through eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball and entered the final frame having thrown 103 pitches. Tim has topped 120 pitches only twice this season so if he got into any trouble in the ninth, I wouldn't have been surprised to see him pulled in favor of closer Brian Wilson.

Thanks to a blown call by umpire Gary Darling, though, Lincecum did get in trouble. With one out, Darling called Rafael Furcal safe at first on an apparent infield single. Lincecum was visibly irked and could be seen muttering expletives into his glove on the mound. Fella ended up allowing a 415 foot fly out to deep center field by Russell Martin that went so deep, it allowed Furcal to tag up to second base.

This was certainly time for Giants manager Bruce Bochy to pull Lincecum; he had reached 116 pitches, was flummoxed by a bad call, and nearly gave up the farm on a long fly.

But Bruce Bochy was nowhere to be found. The big Frenchman had been ejected in the first inning for arguing what he thought was a bad call by first base umpire Gary Darling on a pickoff attempt of Manny Ramirez. But replay showed that Manny slid under the tag and Bochy was basically arguing for arguments sake; it's almost like he wanted to watch Lincecum's start from a comfy chair in the clubhouse.

No matter, bench coach Ron Wotus knows the score and would take over control of the game for San Fran. And he did. Right until he got ejected too, for arguing an incorrect call in the ninth inning, this one on that infield single by Furcal that proved to be Lincecum's breaking point. Third base coach Tim Flannery took over at that point and deserves the blame for not pulling Lincecum after the kid gave up the long fly out.

Tim Lincecum is a good kid and a real talented pitcher, but sometimes, even the Freak needs to be pulled in favor of the team's chosen closer, especially when Tim's pitch count starts entering abuse territory. Yes, Brian Wilson has blown a game a month this season but he's also recorded 28 saves and had a fresh arm with a tidy fastball. Surely, my tut-tut hindsight is aided somewhat by the fact that Lincecum gave up the game-tying single to Andre Ethier four pitches after the Martin fly out, but I'm not here to fix history.

I'm here to tell Bruce Bochy to keep his charges in line and know when to keep the starter in and when to pull him. And I'm here to tell Ron Wotus to take a chill pill and realize that baseball coaches do not have little red flags that allow them to call for instant replay. Sometimes, it's better to send Dave Righetti out to the mound to calm your flustered ace.

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Just as Pedro Martinez was escaping a jam as the Phillies cruised to a 12-3 fifth inning lead, some jamook in Chicago decided that throwing his beer at center fielder Shane Victorino as he tried to field a fly ball would be just hilarious. It wasn't. It was dangerous, stupid, and downright criminal. I hope said jamook is banned from Wrigley Field for life and arrested for 'assault with a watery Old Style'.

I have to apologize, though, for my haste in Tweeting a picture of this poor pudgy chap, whom ESPN fingered for tossing the beer: chubbybitch.jpg

Turns out he wasn't the perp. My boys in Philly were watching on Comcast and said it was some skinny dude in the front row who committed the grave violation of the Fan Code. Sorry, Chubs!

UPDATE: Here is your perp, courtesy of Chicago Now:

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Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, bang yr heads.

  • ANY chance we'll talk about Pedro's first start here tomorrow? Former Boston hero, pitched for New York now lands in Philly. Nah, that doesn't sound like something we'd be interested in.

  • WILL Josh Beckett and the Youki-less Sox keep it crucial against the Tigers?

  • ANYONE staying up for the White Sox/M's? Buehrle/Hernandez would have been a marquis match up a couple weeks back but Mark has been pissing the sheets since his perfect game.

  • HOW come John Walsh never thought of murdering people to boost ratings of America's Most Wanted? The Brazillians are truly innovators.

  • WHAT will the impact be like if it is revealed that Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera and Ichiro all used st....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • IS anyone else thinking that the NL Wild Card race may be the most exciting thing to follow next month? The Rockies lead it by 1 game at the moment and look to bounce back against the Bucs tonight.

  • WHY is this taxi parked in front of Rob Iracane's townhouse?

You all have wonderful hair. See you tomorrow. Same WoW Channel.



Willie Harris Exists Outside Of Your Concern; Friend List

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It's more than cliche that athletes/artists/politicians and anyone else whose primary life function exists in the public eye say they "don't pay attention" to public reaction to said life function. In some instances it's a survival instinct, in others it's a PR move and in others it's a flat out lie.

The one thing that doesn't change from rote quote to rote quote is that you never hear someone pull the "I don't pay attention" card when times are good. Mostly because journalists don't ask the question then. But, Willie Harris of the uberlousy Nats went out of his way this week to tell Dan Steinberg not only does he not care about the bad things fans say, but he also doesn't care about the good stuff.

"We love their support, don't care what they think," he said. "You've got to be like that. If you care about what someone thinks about you, you ain't gonna last long. If every time somebody's talking about you bad, and you care, that'll eat you alive. Right or wrong?"

Snoozy stuff. But Steinberg seems to be quite taken with what Harris says next. It's not even that he lacks the want to engage in public opinion but he lacks the means. Horror of horrors... Willie doesn't use a computer!

(Harris) was saying he doesn't go on the computer, period, full stop. He said he uses the clubhouse computer to leave tickets for friends, but that's it. What about e-mail, I asked.

"I don't have e-mail," he said. "For what? I've got a cell phone. If somebody wants to talk to me, they call."

Uh, Facebook?

"Hell no man," he said. "None of that stuff interests me."

See, this isn't some locker room cliche about not reading the newspapers, this is a full-on modern media blackout. Just the same, I tried to tell him some of the good stuff that's out there; that last year, for example, Webby Nats fans were fond of playing Chuck Norris type games with his name, the whole "Superman wears Willie Harris underwear" kind of thing.

"That was last year, though," he said. "Last year was good. Last year's gone. I'm hitting .230. It's ridiculous.

He doesn't get to read Nats based Chuck Norris humor? Why even get up in the morning? I bet he hasn't even seen the flying toaster screensaver where the toasters have a little "W" on side. Natroll'd!

So few athletes have engaged in the internet in any meaningful way that it strikes me as a wonderful move for a guy not to even own one. I see no upside. What jock has done anything good with technology? Shaq? He's an exception. Dude has been digital for 15 years.

No computer, Willie Harris? Bravo. I'm gonna head back to the woods with you.

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If it's a Wednesday, it's time for a liveglog! That is, unless I flake out and leave you hanging. Today, I will give you Whiparound Coverage from 3PM EDT to 5PM EDT. Why whiparound? Because my XM radio dial is broken and cannot stay on one station for longer than 7 minutes at a time. Since it's hot hot hot out, stow away the blazer and put on your Official Liveglog polo shirts. Here is your daytime schedule:

  • Blue Jays at Yankees, 1:05PM: You might not be able to afford A.J. Burnett anymore, Toronto, but who cares when you're paying Ricky Romero mere pennies on the dollar? Both gents are 10-5 and both gents have nearly equal ERAs (Burnett 3.67, Romero 3.66). This isn't just a rubber match of teams: it's a rubber match of dudes with equal records, one lefty, one righty, one grizzled, one bright-eyed, one with horrendous tattoos covering 93% of his body, and one whose name reminds me of Glengarry Glen Ross.

  • Athletics at Orioles, 1:35PM: Oakland rookie starter Vin Mazzaro ended a 0-8 streak with a 7.72 ERA in 10 starts by beating the Royals last week. He'll try to keep up his new winning streak by toppling the offensively slumping Orioles. This is far easier than it sounds.

  • Rays at Angels, 3:35PM: Looks like former Angels closer and former Rays closer Troy Percival is hanging up his spikes for good, y'all. Fella is 8th on the all time closer list with 358 saves and was quite the cog in the Rayspocalypse last year. The Angels will tribute him in today's game by lowballing a contract offer then pushing him out the door.

  • Mets at Diamondbacks, 3:40PM: With a Diamonbacks win today, they will sweep the Mets and actually have a better record than the sadsack NL East team I actually predicted would trade for Roy Halladay and win the division two weeks ago. Shame on me. Get ready for a ton of walks at the hands of Oliver Perez.

  • Dodgers at Giants, 3:45PM: If we didn't have so much consarn East Coast bias here at Walkoff Walk, I might have gotten more excited about this series. The Dodgers are on the verge of sweeping their most hated rivals but not if Tim Lincecum has any say in the matter. Actually, it doesn't matter what Lincecum says. He just needs to pitch well.
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Perhaps it was destined to be this way for the old crafty pitcher, back in the same building he started his career, finally facing the grim specter of death in the form of a cherub-faced general manager. Youth is so oppressive and Jamie Moyer knows it.

The 46-year-old veteran was told yesterday that he'd no longer be welcome in the Phillies starting rotation now that the team had hired Pedro Martinez, not just another old dude but an old dude with three Cy Young awards in his china cabinet. Moyer feels that he was promised by ownership that he'd be a starter for the entirety of the 2009 season and he was careful but curt with his words of rebuttal:

"I'm really not happy with this decision that the Phillies have made," Moyer said. "I will take what they've asked me to do, but I'm not real excited about the decision that's been made."

"I feel like I've been misled," Moyer said. "I'm a little disheartened a little bit because I know this past winter when I was negotiating with the Phillies, this was a sore thumb, if you will, about this potentially happening. Ruben, you can't promise anything in this game, but I really felt that Ruben kind of parlayed to me that this type of situation would not happen.

"I actually even had some conversation with David [Montgomery], and them reassuring me this type of situation won't happen. Again, I'm a little disheartened by the way it's happened, how it's happened."

Montgomery, the team president, and Amaro were not in Chicago to respond to Moyer's sad soliloquy. And really, they'd be better off handling something like this in private. It's better to deal with the elderly on a man-to-man level, behind closed doors so as not to excite them too much and cause some sort of stroke or heart failure.

But seriously, folks, ageism is real, even when a 46-year-old pitcher (Moyer) loses a job to a 58-year-old pitcher (Pedro). Nowadays in this recession that Lehman Brothers caused, jobs are hard to come by and it seems that once an old dude loses his job, it's curtains. Moyer's lucky that he still has part-time work and retains all his benefits, especially the ones that pay for home delivery of diabetes testing supplies. After all, if he had gotten fired outright, what contending team out there would be desperate enough for starting pitchers to take on such an old fart?

There was a bench-clearing un-brawl at Fenway Park last night, y'all! You can't call this a brawl, especially a day after we posted the epic 1984 Braves-Padres brawl. Compared to that epic battle, the Red Sox-Tigers tussle was more like the Paris Peace Accords.

Still, it's early and there was no Baseball Before Bedtime. So we give you the YouTube video:


After Kevin Youkilis got plunked in retaliation by Rick Porcello, Youk charged the mound, threw his helmet, and attempted to tackle Porcello. What happened next is confusing to me. Did Youkilis complete the tackle or did Porcello strongarm Youkilis on the way down and get credit for the takedown?

Either way, Youkilis is obviously in need of some intimacy and wanted to roll around on the ground with a friend. You can't blame him for that.

Tonight's Questions

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I'm closing up shop early to head to the Bronx for the Yankees-Jays tilt. Please join Drew for his liveglog and then come back here to speculate on the size of Adam Lind's testicles. Same WoW channel.

(video link courtesy of Big League Stew Twitter)

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Gossip hausfrau Cindy Adams is employed by the New York Post to write...well...I'm not really sure what she does is considered writing. It's more like regurgitating nonsense onto a printed page, so sure, let's call her a gossip-mongering old bag. Anyway, because Alex Rodriguez is a high-profile New York celeb dating a high-profile Hollywood celeb who couldn't act her way out of pickle barrel, Cindy Adams simply must write about the couple.

But I don't recall the chapter in Journalism 101 where gossipy dowagers must speculate about the size of their subjects' genitalia. Cindy did just that after talking to one of her sources who sidled up to A-Rod in the powder room of an NYC resto:

Now, having seen Alex up close, I can tell you exactly about his face. Never having shared a urinal with him, I cannot tell you about his other varying parts. I am now told, however--and reliably so--that there are reasons he scores big in RBIs.

You dirty old lady! Not only did you make me lose my lunch, but you mixed metaphors and failed your double entendre. Sad old lady made me sad.

(via Gawker)

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Yes, I understand that J.P. Ricciardi did not, in fact, get nothing in return when he traded outfielder Alexis Rios to the White Sox. Yes, I realize that this fancy "salary relief" term means a whole lot more in the Xtreme Depression and that this frees up tens of millions of dollars that J.P. can spend elsewhere. But really, Rios had actual real live value: $60 million over the last five years alone despite just $5 million this year as per Fangraphs. And so what if Rios is having a bad year? His BABIP is down this year, a career low .294. Slumps happen, even summer-long slumps, even summer-long slumps smack dab in the middle of his prime. What made Ricciardi pull the plug now?

Besides, you can't build a team on a foundation of money, honey. You need to invest those loonies and toonies in both a farm system and smart free agent signings nowadays. Yes, Ricciardi got salary relief, nearly $60 million of it over four years, which is enough to secure a smattering of middle relievers and aging corner outfielders for a couple of years. But that won't buy championships, not in the A.L. East. A small market team in that division has no choice but to emulate the Rays plan of success: (1) fail for many years and snag high draft picks (2) ... (3) profit. I think J.P. skipped steps 1 and 2 and just started stealing underwear from my dresser drawers.

But the fact remains: Ricciardi's hand was forced because Rios' talents could not fully shine when an even larger bag of waste was blocking up the dollar flow. Blue Jays CF Vernon Wells is owed almost $100 million before 2014, at which point he'll be 35 and have a mailbox clogged with AARP junk mail. In a move reminiscent of Sophie's Choice, J.P. was stuck choosing between the two big OF contracts and ended up giving up the more attractive one. If Wells wasn't around, Rios could rotate into center. But Wells will be around, jingling the pocket change from his Albert Belle-esque contract without the Albert Belle-esque production.

So, while some Scott Podsednik fans might disagree, I must say that this deal was a win for the White Sox and another transaction loss for Ricciardi and the Jays. Sometimes a salary dump is more like a talent dump; at least now all you Blue Jays fans can finally agree with me that the Jays offense is "worsening".

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Twenty-five years ago, the San Diego Padres won the National League pennant and their success can obviously be traced to a long, dragging, hilarious mid-August brawl with the Braves that was interrupted a few times to actually play baseball. Team unity through mass violence! Hey, it worked for the Ottoman Empire!

The North County Times in San Diego printed the article to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brawl that pretty much started when Braves pitcher Pascual Perez plunked the Padres' Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the game. Padres manager Dick Williams decided to have Ed Whitson hold off retaliation until Perez came up , but Perez kept dancing out of the way and Whitson and two other Pads pitchers whiffed in Perez' subsequent at-bats.

It wasn't until the eighth inning (Perez' fourth plate appearance) when Craig Lefferts finally nailed Perez on the elbow before the brawl really got underway.

Some more highlights:

  • "(Bob) Horner tackled (Champ) Summers with the unsolicited help of two fans who leaped out of the stands."
  • "On his way back to the Padres' dugout, (Kurt) Bevacqua was pelted in the head by a mug of beer tossed from the crowd. He hurdled atop the dugout to attack the perpetrator but slipped while throwing a punch and fell into the seats."
  • "Whitson was icing his arm in the clubhouse, watching the game on TV. But when (Donnie) Moore hit (Graig) Nettles, he put on the first pair of pants he could find and returned shirtless to the dugout, where he was threatened by an unruly fan armed with a bat. Another fan raced onto the field to try to steal third base ---- literally ---- but was tackled by (Chris) Chambliss and (Jerry) Royster."

In the end, there were three bench-clearing brawls and thirteen ejections of players and managers. The action even carried over into the stands as five fans were ejected and a hot dog vendor spilled his dirty wiener water all over a shirtless Ed Whitson:

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Sorry to get you all excited with the downright sexiest picture we've ever posted at Walkoff Walk. But I have good news! The ENTIRE BRAWL is on YouTube and was collected by Gaslamp Ball. If you want to enjoy the best part of the brawl but don't have a spare 28 minutes that it would take you to consume all four parts of the video, just hit play on the YouTube flick embedded below and skip to the 6:30 mark to see a certain pudgy future HOFer bodyslam a Brave:


Then head over to Gaslamp Ball during your lunch break to experience the joy that comes from watching grown men grapple. Especially a shirtless Ed Whitson. Rawr!

(Thanks to Gaslamp Ball and Brian Hiro at the North County Times)

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Here's what happened in baseball last night when blackness was a virtue:

Rockies 11, Cubs 5: Troy Tulowitzki cycled, you guys! But technically, the final leg of his cycle was an ill-begotten triple. See, Alfonso Soriano booted Troy's liner in left field and Ryan Theriot muffed the relay throw. The official scorer technically should have called it a double and an error, but then he would have been run out of Denver on a rail.

Marlins 8, Astros 6: If Florida wants to keep making up ground on the first place Phillies, a midweek series with the Houston Astros has potential to be quite fruitful. In fact, Marlins catcher John Baker drove in two RBI and was a phone guest on the MLB Network in which he compared the win over Houston to a bowl of cherries, mostly because he tried to bite into Cecil Cooper's juicy head but broke his front teeth on the pit-like skull. What was my point? Oh yes, John Baker's phone interview with the MLB Network guys was interrupted by call waiting.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4: Hit the bricks Alex Rios, J.P. Ricciardi can do this thing alone. Or with the help of five and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief from an otherwise-beleaguered Jays bullpen. After Cito Gaston was shown the door for arguing balls 'n' strikes, his bench coach Brian Butterfield handled the pen with aplomb. Matchups! Jesse Carlson against Jorge Posada? Twelve-pitch strikeout. Brandon League against Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez? Strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. Closer Jason Frasor? A tidy eleven inning scoreless streak.

Athletics 9, Orioles 1: Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez loves the hot hot August heat. Fella hasn't allowed a run in 12 and 2/3 innings of August work as he handled the O's over six innings of seven-hit ball that included five K's against just one BB. Mark Ellis went 5-for-5 in the eight hole and collected four RBI. It's little gifts like these that keep A's fans content. The game ended when Jeff Gray caught a liner and threw to Cliff Pennington at second to double off Melvin Mora. I only know who one of those three people are.

Red Sox 6, Tigers 5: Jon Papelbon came on in the eighth to snuff out a Tigers rally and sent the Deeeetroit hitters down one, two, three in the ninth to save the Sox effort and seal off the six game losing streak. Boston's back, baby! The Tigers ESPN curse continues; they've now lost 392 consecutive nationally-televised weekday non-playoff games when the humidity is between 60% and 70%.

Tonight's Questions

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Some quick, end-of-the-day announcements and whatnot to satiate your needs: (1) there will be no podcast again tonight so that we all can recover from the 82 hours we spent watching the Red Sox and Yankees over the weekend. (2) Dan McQuade is, without a doubt, the greatest guest-blogger in the history of forever and I wish someone out there would pay him to blog regularly. (3) Keep those tips coming, I promise I use them, really, I do.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we get back on this bucking bronco we call baseball-blogging and maybe post some of our own licking-whipped-cream-off-of-skanks photos. Same WoW channel.

(Nifty AT&T Park photograph courtesy of dpup on Flickr)

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Matthew Kaminski has perhaps the peachiest job in baseball: as the Turner Field organist, he gets to sit above the action during 81 Braves games a year and personally pick out songs to play as opposing batters come to the plate. Kaminski's a jazz organist with broad tastes in pop music and an ear that lets him learn a tune after just a couple listens, so don't be surprised when he breaks out the latest Lady Gaga number when Ryan Garko steps to the dish.

Since the former Braves organist hit the bricks in 2004, Atlanta had crappy canned music piped in for four straight seasons but hired Kaminski for the 2009 campaign. He's received rave reviews from all sorts of folks including visiting beat writers and was profiled by Carroll Rogers in the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Kaminski usually chooses the tunes he plays based on wordplay involving the players names but sometimes just goes for the cheap joke, like when he serenaded Mark Teixeira with Radiohead's "Creep". That's just poor taste, Matty. What'd Teixeira ever do to you, except, you know, lead the American League in tater tots a year after leaving the Braves?

Even better, Kaminski has a Twitter account where he takes suggestions from fans:

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Clever! But maybe Kaminski needs some help thinking up some tunes he can noodle around with for some American League players he might encounter next season during interleague. Perhaps "Feels Good" for the White Sox' Jim Thome or "Wig in a Box" for the Tigers' Brandon Inge.

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Nationals Park is the perfect ballpark for a perfectly awful team in a perfectly backwards town. For every nicety like the Red Porch, there is an accompanying mistake like the parking garage that blocks the view of the Capitol. For every clever bit of entertainment like the Presidents Race, there is an accompanying bit of nightmare fuel. Sure, the Nats have a tidy eight-game winning streak but it's only a matter of time before the stadium built on an ancient Indian burial ground consumes its own.

In fact, the park has already started taking prisoners on opposing teams. Its first victim? Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young who got stuck in quite a pickle over the weekend:

He struck out three times and flied out to end the game, but Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young's night was about to get worse on Saturday. For 30 minutes after the game, he was locked inside the bathroom adjacent to the visitors' dugout and ballpark personnel had to pry open the door so he could get out.

That story stinks almost as much as Chris Young's .194 batting average or .655 OPS. And yes, it is most definitely Warshington Nationals Day here at Walkoff Walk.

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Hey, did you hear? The Washington Nationals are the hottest team in baseball! They're riding an eight-game winning streak on the heels of a weekend sweep over the stumbling Diamondbacks; sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman continue to smack tater tots and knock in runs. Heck, they even had two starting pitchers notch their first career wins over the weekend. New Nats manager Jim Riggleman must have subscribed to the Obama-mania newsletter because he has totally wiped away special interests and brought a real winning attitude to Washington.

Except, well, the Nats still have the worst record in baseball, still sit twenty-two and a half games out of first place, are still on pace to lose 105 games this year, and still won't send me any coupons for the Red Porch. But you wouldn't know any of that from reading the latest, super-optimistic AP recap:

Elijah Dukes drove in three runs, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and the surprising Washington Nationals won their eighth straight with a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

The Nationals' eight-game run is the second longest in their five seasons in the nation's capital. They won 10 straight from June 2-12, 2005.

That's cute. The story even made the Top AP Headlines RSS feed that I check out in order to know what fat hausfraus in Missouri are reading. But if your average hausfrau read that piece, they'd have no idea that the Nats are 40-72 and about as successful this season as a neutered dog humping a hassock. Statistically, it's not that outrageous to have a terrible team win so many consecutive games especially when their opponents have a combined .450 winning percentage.

So, is this big-league bump due to the recent change at the helm of the USS Screech? Manny Acta had nearly the same lineup in his charge and couldn't even string together four straight W's, let alone eight. Does old school Jim Riggleman make a baseball player perform at a higher level than the sabermetrically-inclined Manny Acta? Mark Grace thinks so:

"All due respect to Manny [Acta], I don't know what kind of job he did here, but I know Jim and I know what he brings to the table," Grace said. "He can get players to play at a higher level than they are used to playing. He is tough, but he is fair. He is honest.

"He is not afraid to tell you [how he feels]. A lot of managers just tell you what you want to hear. Jim is not like that. Sometimes, you have to hear some things you don't want to hear and Jim is not afraid to go that way."

That's all well and good, Gracie, but, as Deadspin showed us this weekend, the Jim Riggleman Era of Good Feelings does not mean that every Nationals employee is succeeding. Check out this brain-melting video of the Nats left field ballgirl watching herself make a huge oopsie on what she thought was a foul ball:


I hope Riggleman tore her a new one after watching that nonchalant reaction to such utter oopsie-ness. And I doubt she was able to participate in any of the hot double creampie action.

Monday Morning Movement Memo

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.

  • National League East: Why bother even posting about the division race when the Phillies are running away with the title? Well, perhaps because the Phils just got swept by the Marlins and saw their division lead cut down from a hearty seven games to a tentative four games. Maybe if Jayson Werth didn't spend so much time checking out silly slapfights and Shane Victorino wasn't being so mouthy, they and the rest of the team would have a bit more focus. Atlanta swept the Dodgers in three games over the weekend and sit just 0.5 behind the second place Marlins.

  • National League Central: Chicago and St. Louis sat tied, within mere percentage points of one another, atop the division on Thursday but had quite different fortunes starting on Friday. The Cubbies dropped two of three to the Rockies while the Cards overwhelmed the poor Pirates behind the starting trio of Carpenter, Pineiro and Wainwright. Albert Pujols collected his NL leading 100th RBI on Friday while Skip Schumaker's first career pinch-hit homer yesterday carried the Cards to a five-run eighth and the big sweep. Chicago goes for a four game split with the Rox today as Tom Gorzelanny tries to shake off his sad Pirates upbringing and move to 2-0 as a Cub.

  • American League Wild Card: The threesome atop the AL consolation prize race tightened a bit with the Red Sox lost weekend. Texas took two of three from the Angels while Tampa topped Seattle just once to fall off the pace a bit; the Sox and Rangers are now tied with Tampa a couple games back. Texas would probably be doing a lot better if anti-Christian bloggers weren't bringing down a true disciple of Jesus with mean old photographs.

  • National League Wild Card: Now THIS is a race that fans of parity can sink their dull teeth into! Thanks to big weekends from the Marlins and Braves, there are currently three teams (Marlins, Braves and Cubs) within 3.5 games of the wild card leading Rockies and Giants. That's quite the fearsome fivesome hovering between .500 and .550! Adorable!

  • American League East: If you consumed even a minute of ESPN this weekend, you know the story. New York won four of four to increase their division lead to a MLB-highest 6.5 games. Yes, that means the Yankees have a larger lead than that of the Phillies or Dodgers.

In other races, the Dodgers' lead has been trimmed to 5.5 games over the Giants and Rockies in the NL West, the Tigers are hanging on to a 3 game lead over the ChiSox in the AL Central, and the Angels maintain a 3.5 game cushion over the Rangers in the AL West.

Weekend Questions

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I wish I had some sort of amazing final thoughts on baseball to share with youse before my week is up, but... I don't. So instead I'm going to type up these Weekend Questions and head to the bar!

Thanks to Rob for letting me do yeoman work this week, and thanks to all of you for commenting. I will be back reviewing baseball movies next week, something I do not need to get up early in the morning to do. Hooray!

2003 Phillies program scan by jjway2006; off the top of my head, the players pictured are (clockwise from bottom right): Todd Pratt, Tyler Houston, some dude (Nick Punto, perhaps?), Ricky Ledee, Jason Michaels and the Pie Man himself, Tomas Perez. Note: I could be wrong.

Here's an ad for Tengen's RBI Baseball. I don't know if the company was sued for this ad, but it's clearly false advertising; I've played the ever-frustrating RBI Baseball, and it's nothing like this.

I really dig the cheesy synthesizer on the announcer's voice. It makes him almost impossible to hear! Maybe this is why Blades of Steel, Tecmo Bowl and its sequel were my NES sports games of choice.

Don't Tase Me, Gio (Gonzalez)!

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Rob asked me to post the video of the A's fan getting tased and I am more than happy to oblige. I was holding in this "Don't tase me, bro!" joke all week and finally I have a chance to use it.

superaids.jpg I was going to write a serious post about what Topps' exclusive deal with major league baseball means for the baseball card industry, but then I came across this reaction from a blog of the Riverfront Times, St. Louis' alt-weekly:

File under ridiculous douchebag bull----: Major League Baseball and Topps have reached an agreement to make Topps the only licensed maker of baseball cards.

I'm not going to try and be balanced or fair about this. This is f---ing bullshit. Of all the shitty things MLB has done over the years - and they are legion - this one just may take the cake. Licensing only one company to make baseball cards? Really? In what alternate universe is this a good idea? [...]

And [Topps CEO Michael] Eisner, my mother always taught me it's wrong to wish ill on another human being. Thus, I shall refrain from saying I would pay good money to see you fall into a giant vat of government-created SuperAIDS.

Yes! Government-created SuperAIDS! That's totally what the head of a corporation attempting to make a profit deserves for cutting a deal with major league baseball.

My buddy RJ noted this line of his blog entry: "Baseball card collecting is one of the few somewhat pure pursuits left; it may not be the Norman Rockwell-esque endeavor the 1950s would have us believe, but it's close." It is most certainly not, even before MLB's deal with Topps. I mean, c'mon, baseball card collecting is one of those well-marketed pursuits that is clearly attempting to pretend to be pure; I thought even the people who bought into it knew this, deep down.

But, then again, at least this guy isn't falling for Eisner's BS. Every other paper just let him give his quote about how this business decision is just really "for the children" and about redirecting the market toward kids. Um, maybe, but I think what Topps is really interested in is making money, hence the exclusive deal attempting to force its competitors out of the market.

An NBC New York writer has an okay take on the situation, but for the best take on the whole deal, check out njpanick's comment from yesterday. Who knew exclusive deals cost more than nonexclusive ones?

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About a year ago I wondered aloud to my girlfriend if a cat would fetch a ball. She laughed at the idea. Naturally, I immediately got to work attempting to teach Sarah's cat (Captain Walker, aka Cat Stairs) to fetch a ball.

It was surprisingly easy. Walker almost immediately started chasing after whatever little ball I'd throw, and would bring it back in her mouth for me to toss again. She loves fetching her ball. Hold a ball in the air and she's immediately at attention; if she hasn't chased a ball across the room recently she does this little meow, or sometimes she'll just open her mouth and not make any sound. It's just so cute.

Ahem. Anyway: Yes, I was right, and my girlfriend was wrong, maybe the only time in the relationship where this was the case. Of course, now little Walker will paw Sarah and me in the middle of the night, holding a ball in her mouth. (Sometimes we'll wake up and there will be three or four balls all on the bed.) Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Point is, I had this all planned out: I was going to film Cat Stairs chasing after a little foam baseball and post it on the site this week. It'd have everything a blogger needs for a good post: a cat (the Internet loves 'em!), having someone else do all the real work for you (in this case, the cat), et cetera. Last Christmas I bought a little Phillies shirt for Walker from a boutique. All I had to do was get the shirt on her, dress up Sarah's wall like an outfield fence with green construction paper and -- voilĂ ! -- instant Internet gold.

I'm writing this today to let you know I failed, people. Cat Stairs was not ready to put on the Phillies shirt; the above photo is as close as we got to putting it on her. Clearly, she knows better than us: She doesn't want to get called up too early and mess up her career when she doesn't get enough at-bats with the big league squad.

For now, Cat Stairs is a Lehigh Valley Iron Pig. If she ever finally gets that big league uniform on, Walkoff Walk will be the first to report it.

What? Hey, Rob said I could post anything I wanted this week.

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What happened in baseball yesterday when you were slicing up eyeballs

Yankees 13, Red Sox 6. OMGOMGOMGYANKSSOXYANKSSOX!!! And now we have a whole weekend of wall-to-wall coverage from ESPN to look forward to. Anyway, yesterday the Yankees broke the Curse of the Bambino II, ending their eight-game losing streak this year against the Bosox when Muhammad Ali (honored pregame) hit two three-run homers. I think that's what happened.

Angels 9, White Sox 5. "Oh boy, it's going to be exciting," said Bobby Abreu, and who are we to doubt! He and three others (Erick Aybar, Vlad Guerrero and Jeff Mathis) homered yesterday for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a cool 4.5 games up in the AL West.

Dodgers 5, Braves 4. Andre Ethier -- he of the yoga sessions at Dodger Stadium -- hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. It's Ethier's fifth walkoff hit of the year, meaning all that yoga must be delivering good karma, or something. The Dodgers still have the best record in baseball (67-42).

Padres 8, Mets 3. Clayton Richard, who came over from the White Sox in the deal for Jake Peavy, won his first game for his new team and got his first major league RBI to boot. Adrian Gonzalez also homered. It was just late May the Mets were 27-20 and first in the NL East. They're now an astonishing 11 games back and have 104% of their opening day roster on the disabled list.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6. The D-Backs have won seven of eight, which can happen when you play the Mets and Pirates in back-to-back series. (To be fair, they also have a win against the Phillies in this streak.) It was just early April that the D-Backs were in first in the AL West, for one day, after the first game of the season. They have really been awful since then and are like 100 million games back.

Tonight's Questions

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Hope you enjoyed the liveblog and the kitty. Back tomorrow!

Photo of Chief Meyers and Chief Bender at the 1911 World Series

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Background image by pvsbond; entire image is under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

My rule is: If there's a Phillies game on and I have nothing better to do, I might as well liveblog it for Walkoff Walk. Today, my liveblogging serves a dual purpose, as it not only wastes my time but also gets me off the hook for any other blog posts today.

I'm in luck, too: Today's game should be a pretty good matchup, as Aaron Cook (10-3, 3.88 ERA, 116 ERA+ for the fourth consecutive year) takes on Cliff Lee (8-9, 3.02 ERA, 149 ERA+ overall; 1-0, 1.00 ERA, 430 ERA+ with the Phillies). Plus, the great Paul Bako (.116 BA, 16 OPS+) is catching today for the Phillies.

I'm going to try to talk (er, write) baseball today and not just make fun of the announcers. We'll see how long this lasts. After the jump, as usual.

jaaaaaayhapppedro.jpg Last night, Pedro Martinez drew the largest crowd in Reading Phillies history (just 47 fans shy of 10,000) with his 11-strikeout performance. It was definitely the most exciting thing to happen in Berks County in months. Years, maybe!

Meanwhile, down the road (actually, I-176 and I-76) in Philadelphia, J.A. Happ was striking out 10 batters himself in a complete-game shutout.

With the acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies' rotation is crowded and everyone has an opinion on who should head to the bullpen. Rodrigo Lopez has already been sent there despite posting a 3.62 ERA in starts this year. Lee, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton are definites in the rotation. Happ should be, too, you'd think; even though he's a rookie his workload this year is almost in line with what he's done in the minors. He also has two complete-game shutouts.

But Jamie Moyer can't really be sent to the bullpen, and Pedro Martinez was signed to be a hired gun in the rotation come August and September. Martinez hasn't been fantastic in the minors -- he's having trouble pitching from the stretch -- but he's struck out a ton and could be more than serviceable in the majors.

So what to do? Send the kid to the 'pen? Here's the simple answer I don't know if anyone has said yet: Rosters expand on Sept. 1. Jamie Moyer just needs to get an "injury" and stick it out on the DL, dispensing wisdom to the younger players and spinning yarns about baseball lore; he can come off it when rosters expand.

Pretty simple, right? Sounds like an excellent plan to me. A quick Google search makes me believe Moyer hasn't been on the DL since 1989, which is pretty incredible, so the Moyer would probably also set the record for most time in-between trips to the disabled list. Everybody wins!

You Can't Spell Robert Pollard Without Ro(g)er (C)l(emens)

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Yesterday while easing myself back into blogging like an old man into a warm bath, I decided to plop down in front of the MLB Network. Have you heard of this? It's awesome. It's a channel about baseball. They were showing Roger Clemens 20K performance against the Tigers. Highlights were the imposing Greenwell/Vaughn/Canseco troika in the middle of the lineup, Nomar in his first full month in the bigs(!), realizing that Ernie Harwell was overrated and the reminder that The Rocket was born in Dayton, Ohio.

I'm sure there was a time in my life that I knew that. I loved Rog growing up, although I can't say he was ever more than my 3rd or 4th favorite Red Sock. Still that was the kind of stuff you knew about your team's ace as a 10 year old. In any case, I'd forgotten it and now when I hear Dayton, Ohio I think Robert Pollard. The Fading Captain is one of my all time favorite dudes and his long and prolific career holds some similarities to the long and prolific career of Mr. Clemens. Both are distinguished and prolific. Both have detractors that say they hung on too long.

Robert Pollard

Over 1,000 songs registered as author on BMI.

Prematurely grey.

Plays for the Boston Spaceships.

Blimps Go 90.

Roger Clemens

4,672 strikeouts

Prematurely blonde.

Played for the Boston Red Sox.

Could probably still hit 90.


The one major difference is that I still give a damn what Robert Pollard does.

Last night, Zack Grrrrreinke (Matt T. suggested Kyle Fursworth; I was also thinking Yuniesky Betancat) ran out onto the field at Kauffman Stadium during the top of the fifth inning.

In the above clip, the PBP guy actually announces the cat's run through the field; he also mentions that the cat is showing its teeth and recaps an "hilarious" blooper where a grounds crew member is scratched and bitten.

He also suggests the cat ran onto the field because someone brought it to the game, instead of the more likely scenario that the cat lives at the stadium. (Veterans Stadium had a family of cats living in it.)

Also amusing: The reactions of the Royals players.

"It jumped from the stands into our bullpen," said Mariners' reliever Shawn Kelley said. "We thought it was going to attack [pitching coach] John [Wetteland] so we had to divert it away from him. It scaled an eight-foot wall, it really did. We were just concerned with saving John. We thought he was in trouble. He was cornered."

Who knew a cat could even comprehend the size of an eight-foot wall, let alone scale it. But whatever. Cats are so cute when they run! I could watch this clip all day. I might, actually.

What happened in baseball last night while you were causing hysteria, on on the stereo

Brewers 4, Dodgers 1. Prince Fielder didn't attempt to storm into any clubhouses after Milwaukee won the series in Los Angeles. There was a hit batsmen in this game, but it was Craig Counsell, who got an RBI for his effort. Or, I guess, his lack of effort in getting out of the way.

White Sox 6, Angels 2. Every couple of months, you look up and there's Jim Thome, still with a ridiculous amount of homers. Big Jim now has 561 career ding dongs after clubbing two more last night. He has 20, including 7 in his last 21 games. That's one homer every three games, in case you're really horrible at math. Sox are a game back in the Central; Angels are still 4.5 up in the West.

Nationals 5, Marlins 4. The Nats won their fourth straight game of the year, a season high. They've improved to 36-72 and have an outside shot of catching Kansas City for the second worst record in baseball; they're only 6 games back in the loss column. To me, this is as exciting as any pennant race.

Phillies 7, Rockies 0. Plunk Chutley! Chase Utley was hit for the 100th time in his career in the bottom of the fifth; by comparison, Manny Ramirez just got his 100th career HBP and Scott Rolen has only been hit 110 times. Could Utley make a run for the all-time record? He'd have to play a long time, and then there would be the rumors that he used performance enhancers (i.e., ibuprofen, Vioxx, etc.); it's probably not worth it. That's two games in a row Utley's been hit by a pitch. Oh, and J.A. Happ pitched a complete game shutout and struck out 10.

Rays 6, Red Sox 4. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver's favorite player from last year's playoffs, David Price, went 6 innings, but the Rays really helped themselves with four home runs from Jason Bartlett, Pat Burrell, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. (That's one homer each, not four.) The Rays have 132 homers this year, good for fourth in all of baseball.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I couldn't bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled.

Walkoff Walk Beach Week continues tomorrow with DMac, Drew and myself. Fly like Christ. Same WoW channel.

I'm Back. And So Is Jon Lester.

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What better way to celebrate my return to Walkoff Walk than by revisiting this year's wager? I mean, really. When I went on hiatus back at the beginning of June, who would have ever thought I'd return two months later with all my clothes on and Jon Lester having a better ERA+ than CC Sabathia? Well believe the second half of it, cause I'm winning the bet.

Lester be rocking a 124 and CC has a 112. And if he doesn't turn things around the gap could widen. Sabathia has surrendered 13 runs over 19 innings in his last 3 starts.

Ignoring the soul crushing end result, Lester threw a gem last night in Tampa. He was scoreless through six before being pulled after hitting the first batter of the 7th, a victim of a high pitch count. Up to that point Lester's pitch location was pretty flawless. He appears to be finding a quote unquote groove.

So in summation: It's good to be back and Rob should start warming up his voice.

liveglog.jpgRob really wanted to do a vacation liveglog, there are only so Guido Beach quotes one can take. Instead we'll tackle Albert Pujols engineering the Schaudenfraude Express right into Citifield!

How about some lineups?

Cardinals
  1. J. Lugo ss
  2. M. DeRosa 3b
  3. A. Pujols 1b
  4. M. Holliday lf
  5. R. Ludwick rf
  6. R. Ankiel cf
  7. Y. Molina c
  8. J. Thurston 2b
  9. K. Lohse p
Mets
  1. A. Pagan cf
  2. A. Cora 2b
  3. D. Wright 3b
  4. G. Sheffield lf
  5. D. Murphy 1b
  6. J. Francoeur rf
  7. B. Schneider c
  8. A. Berroa ss
  9. J. Niese p

Thoughts on the lineups? The Cards hit the pitcher ninth today, how avant garde. The Mets let Jeff Francoeur continue to hit. How novel. Frenchy has knocked three tater tots in the last few weeks, though he's hitting a sad little .204 over that stretch.

Today's starters are mighty Kyle Lohse and young Jon Niese. What's going to happen? Find out after the jump!

Trio: Today's Afternoon Games

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Forget what you're doing this afternoon, there's baseball on! Three games, summarized below. Fun times, eh?

Cardinals at Mets, 12:10 p.m. The Cardinals attempt to build on last night's come-from-behind win, which kept them in a virtual tie for first in the NL Central. Kyle Lohse goes for St. Louis against Jonathon Niese, who was born in 1986 and has started four games this year for the injury-depleted Metropolitans.

Drew will be liveglogging this one for you. Yay!

Giants at Astros, 2:05 p.m. San Francisco routed Houston, 8-1, yesterday, to remain a half-game back of Colorado in the NL Wild Card race. The Astros fell to a game below .500 but I think still has people believing they're a WC team. Joe Martinez, hit in the head with a line drive in April, returns to the big leagues today after posting a 2.93 ERA in the minors in five starts. Houston counters with Brian Moehler.

Braves at Padres, 3:35 p.m. Atlanta moved a game above .500 with a 9-2 win yesterday over San Diego. The Braves run Tommy Hanson out today; the Padres counter with Chad Gaudin, who has quite the facial hair in his headshot.

3strikesyrout.jpgLast night Evan Longoria struck out 4 times. Four! Terrible. Joe Morgan must be rolling over in his booth. How dare he selfishly hack away while his team is behind...what's that? Evan Longoria hit both the game-tying AND game-winning home runs last night? When asked about it post-game, Longoria offered a resounding "meh"

I guess when you hit homers, people don't remember that you struck out four times

This is well trod ground, but strikeouts are no longer such a big deal. Longoria laughed it off during a post game interview, but he speaks the truth. If you were to peruse the list of main strikeout offenders you'd find some of the best players in baseball. The top four Kmen in baseball combine for 102 home runs with an average OPS of .902. Would you like those fine fellows on your team? I assume you would. Keep looking down the list and you'll see some of the best all-around players in baseball. Justin Upton, Evan Longoria, Matt Kemp, David Wright, Jayson Werth all post big numbers in spite of their strikeout proclivity.

Mark Reynolds, owner of the single season strikeout record, leads the way again this season with 146. That's a lot, but he's also hit 7 home runs in his last 8 games. Add his 20 steals in this year and you have a valuable player with a gaudy stat line.

We must all be in this together. If the local slugger strikes out in a key situation, we will not boo. We will applaud his attempt to earn his check the right way, by socking some dingers! We can band together to support our Three True Outcome brothers in their time of need, the numerous times they walk back to the dugout with their head held low. Solidarity K!

crazystairs.jpg It was just three years ago that the Mets were one win away from the National League pennant. Now they're the funniest team in the league, especially if you happen to be a fan of one of their rivals. They've missed the playoffs the past two years despite leading the NL East in September, and this season has been lost for quite a while now.

So, naturally, here's some more news for the Mets: Jose Reyes is probably done for the rest of the year, Adam Rubin reports, though I suppose Rubin could just be after Reyes' shortstop job. (Rimshot.)

And, of course, there's Luis Castillo's injury last night, where he fell down the dugout stairs and sprained his ankle. X-rays were negative, but he had to leave the game in the seventh. That link goes to MLB.com, which somehow has a video highlight of Castillo's fall down the steps. Such a useful website!

So what's next for the Mets? I fully expect David Wright to be injured while watching G-Force (he watches it nightly), perhaps while putting on his 3D glasses. Johan Santana should probably avoid any and all sharp objects. Also I guess they'll play out the season and fire Omar Minaya at the end of it, or something.

What happened in baseball last night while you were burned out by battles you thought you'd won

Diamondbacks 6, Pirates 0. Yusmeiro Petit took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a single to Ronny Cedeno; he ended up throwing eight innings of one-hit ball. Ryan Roberts hit a pair of homers for the D-Backs. Zach Duke took the loss to drop to 9-10. As usual, it is easier to toss no-hit ball when the game is being simmed in Triple Play Baseball '97.

Rays 4, Red Sox 2. Evan Longoria hit his second homer of the night with two outs in the bottom of the 13th. I really can't top the commentary of Yahoo! Sports user "jpimpsalot89" (maybe not work-safe) on the AP recap, so I won't even try. There is also big drama among Yankees and Red Sox fans on the Yahoo! comment threads; someone made a racist remark, someone threatened to sue! Everyone is 14.

Nationals 6, Marlins 4. Adam Dunn may not be able to field anymore, but he can still hit the ball a mile. Big Donkey hit a 2-run homer to cap a 6-run eighth inning for the Nats; Washington won its third straight to improve to... 35-72. Yikes.

Cardinals 12, Mets 7. Albert Pujols homered in the eighth to start a rally, then capped it with a grand slam in the top of the 10th as the Cardinals handed the Mets yet another frustrating loss. Frustrating for Mets fans, of course; for everyone else it's quite hilarious.

Rockies 8, Phillies 3. Yeah, the Fightins got smoked, ending my personal CBP winning streak (it was at 8). More on this game later, but it was a snoozer for a Phils fan. Garrett Atkins had 4 RBI and also hit a bomb of a homer to left field.

Dodgers 17, Brewers 4. Dodgers won big. Manny Ramirez had a homer and a two-run double. Whatever. After the game Prince Fielder attempted to go into the Dodgers' clubhouse to go after Guillermo Mota, who hit him earlier. But, somehow, he was held back. Tonight's game is going to be fun!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey, two days down!

Sorry for the delay this afternoon, I had some other things to take care of. I'm headed to the Phillies game tonight, so expect an hilarious report of annoying fan antics. Back tomorrow!

Photo via Boston Public Library

radiowaves.png A friend suggested I post an excerpt from Darren Daulton's If They Only Knew every day this week. Good idea, friend!

So here's what Mr. Daulton thinks about the radio and other forms of communication (p. 81).

When you are listening to your radio, how are you able to turn the dial and go from hearing a station in Los Angeles to one in New York? Energy is everywhere; in televisions, radios, microwaves, gamma, beta and theta rays; all kinds. You get my point. We are literally inundated with different kinds of energy waves. These waves are how information and communication travel instantaneously. Do I need to say anymore than the World Wide Web?

No, Dutch. No you don't. Anything else to add:

Have you ever seen a Hologram? All of creation is holographic, meaning that if you took a thiny part of the whole Universe it would indeed contain the same amount of information and energy as the whole. In essence it doesn't matter where you are; you are still everywhere and in everything.

This is known as Daulton's corrollary to Bell's theorem.

3strikesyrout.jpg There was a good story in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday about the various expensive promotions baseball teams have used, including an Andre Ethier-led Yoga class at Dodger Stadium.

There are a ton of different expensive promotions, from a Phillies Caribbean cruise held in January to a chance to be a groundskeeper for the Detroit Tigers for $1,200. You get to pay to work!

Dodgers president Dennis Mannion says the events sometimes make the team more than it would in tickets to a game. He'd know, because including the Ethier-led yoga session -- meant to attract women -- the Dodgers have also offered fans a chance to take batting practice at the stadium and a chance to go fishing with Brent Leach and James McDonald.

I look forward to more promotions with the players in the coming months. Go whale-watching with Casey Blake. Go to the movies with Matt Kemp. Discuss baseball theory with Joe Torre. Shoot up with Manny Ramirez. Face off against Clayton Kershaw in a hot dog-eating contest. And, for a few grand, Jonathan Broxton will give up an absolute bomb of a homer to you.

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A short mention of Zooperstar Ichiroach yesterday led to an outpouring of love in the comments for said Zooperstars. If you're not familiar with these athlete parody mascots, your life is about to get better when you visit their website.

They're all there: Alex Frogriguez, Dick Flytale, Mackerel Jordan, Shark McGwire, Donovan McCrabb, Centipete Rose, Elephant Presley (for some reason), Monkey Mantle, Clammy Sosa, Harry Canary, Nolan Rhino, Stallion Iverson, Ichiroach, Nomar Garciaparrot, Roger Clamens and, like, a ton more. This page says that Manatee Ramirez and Barack Ollama are coming soon.

Last night, I was thinking that for too long, Cooperstown's doors have been closed to the Zooperstars, due to their obvious steroid use. Hell, so have the doors of Canton, Springfield and Toronto, as well as Wildwood, New Jersey (home of the National Marbles Hall of Fame).

As such, this is a call to all the Zooperstars fans: Write your senators and your representatives. Call your local television stations. It's time the Zooperstars take their rightful place in the Hall.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Auto-Tune

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What happened in baseball last night while you were paving the way for you cats to get paid today

Tigers 6, Orioles 5. All hail Clete Thomas! He hit his first walkoff homer at any level and then managed to give a pretty good quote about it too. No stupid sports cliches! "When I was rounding first and realized it had gone out, I didn't know how to react. It feels better than you even think it will--and that's something you always dream of doing." It is what it is. Justin Verlander gave up 5 runs in the top of the first and then shut out the Orioles for the next 7 innings.

Athletics 3, Rangers 2. How often do you see a walkoff triple? I have no idea. Maybe every night, since it happened last night: Rajai Davis' three-bagger plated 2 runs as the A's scored three times in the ninth off C.J. Wilson. Oakland's now only 19 games back in the AL West.

Astros 4, Giants 3. After taking three of four from the Phillies over the weekend, the Giants apparently celebrated by losing to Walkoff Walk favorite squad Houston. Geoff Blum and Kaz Matsui homered, making you sit up and say, "Whoa! Geoff Blum and Kaz Matsui are still in the league?" Matt Cain took the loss.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 5. Trevor Hoffman got Manny Ramirez to fly out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to end this one. Afterwards, everyone got together and enjoyed their favorite steroid cocktails and had a good laugh about the game, since they're mostly millionaires.

Tonight's Questions

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Hope youse enjoyed your Monday edition of Walkoff Walk. I'm back tomorrow with more.

Photo by Sister72 used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license

spaceinvadersshea.jpg In the last month or so, no one has noticed anything the Mets have done except for hilarious rants by the GM at press conferences. But not all is lost! NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino recently went up to space and took with him the Shea Stadium home plate, SPACE.com reports.

"We're allowed to take up items that are from organizations that are important to us," Massimino told SPACE.com. "The Mets are great. They're tearing down their old stadium. What better way to represent a stadium or a ball field than home plate?"

Massimino, 46, is set to present the plate, returned from its 5.2 million-mile trip to space, Friday evening at a Mets game where he will throw the first pitch. [Editor's Note: He did this, apparently.]

"I'm a big baseball fan, I'm from New York, and the Mets were my favorite team growing up," Massimino said.

Newsday adds this quote from Massimino: "Getting to take a Mets home plate into space makes all the hard work it took to be an astronaut worth it." Really? I thought it was the whole going into space part of it that made all the hard work worth it.

We're in luck, too: Next week, a foul pole from Riverfront Stadium will be sent to the bottom of the Mid-Atlantic Trench.

Darren Daulton's Movie Guide

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iftheyonlyknew.jpg You may remember, a few years back, the Darren Daulton book If They Only Knew, which talked about his, uhm, interesting ideas on existence.

I own this book, and I've read it several times. It's amazing; he even does the "add up the number of letters in words in order to prove something about 9/11" trick. But my favorite part is the chapter titled, "Manifesting in the 4th Dimension Multi-Dimensional Universe." It begins with this paragraph:

Have you ever seen the movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton? The movie is about a normal guy that finds out there are three others that are identical to him. The concept of the movie is reality except we are unaware of ourselves in these other dimensions.

If you can answer "yes" to Daulton's question, you will know that his summary of the film is a bit lacking. And by "a bit lacking," I mean "entirely incorrect." I quote the plot summary of the movie from IMDb: "A man who never has enough time for the things he wants to do is offered the opportunity to have himself duplicated."

I would love to see Darren Daulton's summary of The Matrix.

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep

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beep.baseball.jpg No, that headline doesn't mean robots have completed their takeover of baseball. Actually, the 2009 World Series of Beep Baseball was recently played. Beep baseball, originally invented by telecommunications employees in the 1960s, is a way for the blind to play the game. Previously, the blind were only able to participate in baseball as umpires.

The first paragraph of the National Beep Baseball Association's guide to the game succinctly explains how it's played:

Spectators who witness today's style of beep baseball are generally delighted. They see blind athletes dive onto the ground to stop a beeping ball and run full speed toward the sound of a buzzing base to score a run. They see desire, determination, teamwork and in many cases skilled performances of sightless players having fun in the midst of extreme competition. They also witness an occasional injury. Beep baseball is not a game for those who are concerned about a scraped elbow. Safety precautions are high priorities, but due to the nature of the game, some injuries do occur. Players know this and fully accept the injury risks for the sake of playing a sport they love.

Desire, determination, teamwork. That's about it. Oh, and the baseball also beeps, there are only two bases (which also beep) and only five times in the sport's history have fly balls been caught in the air. There are sighted spotters, and an out is recorded if a player reaches the ball before a player reaches the base. There are only six fielders.

The game seems pretty cool; next year's World Series is in Rochester, Minn. The West Coast Dawgs beat the Taiwan Home Run for this year's title. Every spectator was, of course, generally delighted.

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. Last week we looked at the system and its ability to determine balls and strikes. This week we'll look at every batter's dream: the hanging slider.

We've all heard of the dreaded hanging slider. We've all seen a pitcher unleash a spinner at the exact wrong moment and we've all watched pitchers react the same way to it. Generally they respond by: a) Jerking their head around to follow the intense trajectory or b) hanging their head, knowing the ball's fate long before it lands. When a pitch uncorks a hanger, all of us watching on TV know it, the pitcher knows it, and the batter knows it too.

To hang a pitch isn't a death sentence in and of itself. A poorly executed pitch in a good location is escapable. A well-executed pitch in a poor location can go either way, the pitcher gets away with it or the batter makes a good swing at the right time. Sometimes a bad pitch in a bad spot is missed, often resulting in a series of desultory curse words and assorted bat punching.

The focus of this week's Kicking and Screaming is the man that threw one of the most famous hanging sliders of all time, Brad Lidge. The slider that Lidge served to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS is currently the subject of a popular HBO drama. Pujols hit it a mile in and Lidge needed two years to recover (so they say or I assume.) Last year Brad Lidge bounced back with a perfect year, saving every game presented to him and earning himself a World Series ring. 2009 hasn't been quite as smooth with Lidge spending time on the DL and struggling through much of the early season. Since returning from the injured list Lidge as pitched better, a few bad outings overshadowing some solid relief pitching. After the jump we'll look at his slider and why location matters just as much as tight spin and big break.

Mr.Burns.baseball.jpg Steroids have been used in baseball for decades; for years now, the American public has been wondering: When will a politician weigh in on the issue? America's pols aren't accustomed to grandstanding on issues that don't really effect them, so for a while they have remained silent.

But the bravest of politicians, one John McCain, decided yesterday he needed to finally take a stand:

In response to the revelation, McCain sent a message on his Twitter account that read, "David Ortiz tested positive for steroids, 'where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?'"

McCain says the situation in baseball makes him sick. Even more bothersome, he says, is the idea that someone in a laboratory somewhere is trying to develop a substance that tests can't detect. The Arizona Republican spoke to CNN's "State of the Union" for its Sunday broadcast.

Yes, ol' John McCain, who was ringside when boxer Jimmy Garcia was killed during a bout in 1995, is sick because baseball players are doing things to their bodies to make them better baseball players. (He still likes boxing.) And he gets even sicker when he thinks about someone doing that great American tradition of helping rich people possibly break the law, or at least the rules.

I guess now is as good a time as any to point out that when John McCain was 10 years old, black people were still banned from major league baseball. Ha ha, John McCain is old. And sick!

Monday Morning Movement Memo

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winbyanose.jpg Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings (unless Dan McQuade accidentally writes it anyway) so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.

American League East: The Yankees dropped three of four to the White Sox, including a 10-run defeat on Saturday, and now the Red Sox are only a half-game back. The Sox swept Baltimore over the weekend, which is so easy it almost shouldn't count. Tampa Bay, plus-75 in run differential, is still six games back.

American League Central: The Tigers hold a 1.5-game lead over the White Sox and a three-game advantage over the Twins, which is about the same as a month ago. But did you know Kansas City is minus-114 in run differential? Even Cleveland has passed the Royals for fourth in the division. Even Washington has passed them in run differential. Yikes, KC. Yikes.

American League West: The Angels continue to hold an edge over Texas, now at four games. Seattle has fallen out of the race, Oakland is doing so poorly there's a new article about how Billy Beane should be fired for "writing" Moneyball every 15 seconds. Anaheim, incidentally, has won five straight.

AL Wild Card: Boston, who led the AL East until recently, would still be playoff-bound if the season ended today; the Red Sox are 2.5 games up on the Rangers. Of course, if the season ended today, that would mean some sort of national or world tragedy, and there probably wouldn't be playoffs this year; we still have 2 months left.

National League East: The Phillies are just 6-5 in their last 11 games but still lead the East by five games thanks to a superb 20-7 July. The Marlins took two of three from the Cubs over the weekend; the Braves are seven back after dropping two of three to the Dodgers. The Mets also play baseball in the National League East.

National League Central: Only a half-game separates the Cubs from the Cardinals; four more games separate the Chicago National League club and the Brewers and Astros. St. Louis took two of three from Houston over the weekend, making Rob Iracane's vacation even more relaxing.

National Least West: It's still all Dodgers, people. Manny & Co. are seven games up on both the Rockies and Giants. Maybe the players on Colorado and San Francisco should have taken more steroids.

NL Wild Card: That aforementioned NL West duo is tied for first in the so-called "Wild" Card standings; the Cubs are two back and the Marlins three. I expect a much wilder month of August in this portion of the standings. Yes, that's right: By September, the Pirates will be in first. Okay, maybe not.

What happened in baseball last night while you waiting a lonely lifetime.

Marlins 3, Cubs 2. "Boom!" wrote the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds. Dan Uggla and Cody Ross homered off Chicago closer Kevin Gregg in the bottom of the ninth for the win. The Marlins, five back in the NL East, are still -8 in run differential despite being five games over .500.

Red Sox 18, Orioles 10. New acquisition Victor Martinez went 5-for-6 with 4 RBI and Boston pounded out 23 hits in the win. The Patriots scored the opening touchdown, but the Ravens came back with a touchdown in the third. A missed extra point galvanized New England, though, as the Pats scored another touchdown in the fourth. I guess they got two safeties afterward, too, or else this doesn't work.

Nationals 5, Pirates 3. This game wasn't actually played; MLB just simmed it in Baseball Stars.

Giants 7, Phillies 3. Good thing for the Phillies they got Cliff Lee, or else they might've been swept by the Giants. San Francisco took three of four from the Fightin' Phils, beating Cole Hamels on the strength of a rally started by a Barry Zito single with two down in the fourth. Freddy Sanchez went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI in his first game with the Giants.

Royals 4, Rays 1. James Shields didn't give up a hit until the eighth inning, but the floodgates opened after that. John Buck got the first hit, Alex Gordon stole home and the Royals finally took a game in this epic TB-KC series.

Monday Morning Movement Memo will still be seen today! But I wrote this up before I remembered that Mondays were different, so you get two morning update posts today. Lucky you!

fat-cat.jpgThis past offseason I penned a piece here on Walkoff Walk highlighting some fine young left-handed pitchers figuring to feature prominently in some mid-level teams successes. It turned out to be slightly prophetic as nearly all the players are making significant strides and contributions. The future is certainly bright for this collection of arms.

The future is now for the Yankees and White Sox and their match up this afternoon highlights a pair of southpaws who are much richer, plumper, and more successful than their lithe counterparts. Mark Buehrle and CC Sabathia are scheduled to do battle in the middle of America, each representing a high payroll contender in prime playoff position.

Mark Buehrle, fresh off 15 innings of untouchable brilliance, will take the hill for the second place Pale Hose. Buehrle is having another fine season, notching 11 wins while putting up the same consistent peripherals he always does. A FIP around 4, tones of ground balls, few strikeouts and fewer walks. His career numbers against the Yankees are quite poor though he is yet to face the Bronx Bombers this season.

The Sox are only 1.5 games behind the division leading Tigers with their focus squarely on this season. Having just traded two of their lithe lefties Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard to the Padres for reluctant American Leaguer Jake Peavy

Big giant pinstripe enthusiast CC Sabathia is putting together a comparable season to Buehrle though with a different brand of fanfair. The differences between this year and last likely serve as a clear warning to Jake Peavy: the AL is different. Though Sabathia is an experienced American Leaguer, his numbers are markedly different from 2008 to 2009. He's dropped nearly 2 full strikeouts per nine innings with a slight uptick in his walk rate. To his credit, his numbers at the homer-happy Yankee Stadium show he's not only surviving, he's doing quite well, thank you very much. A vet of the AL Central wars, Sabathia dominates at U.S. Cellular; posting a 7-1 record with a microscopic 1.04 WHIP.

The other big difference between these two husky lefties and their lithe counterparts: price. Each man is scheduled to earn $14 million bucks this season, with Sabathia leaping to 23 per next year. League minimum earning bonus babies are good business and good fun, but sometimes you need to send a big, fat, rich guy to do your dirty work. Consider me excited.

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Saturday night was a special night for the Oakland A's and their dozens of fans. The A's retired local hero and recently minted Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson's number 24 in front of a sell out crowd, only their fourth of the season. While it wasn't the (fun-spongingly) humble and earnest number Rickey delivered in Cooperstown (full text and video links here) it did include some excellent self-deprecating humour.

First Rickey extended a gracious thank you to the great fans of Oakland for agreeing to lay down their arms 3 hours a night and enjoy one of the most exciting players of all time:

Most of all ... thanks to you, the fans. This is not just my day. This is you, the fans' day. ... You have shouted out, 'Run, Rickey. Run.' I need your help. Say it one more time.

After the crowd quickly and loudly indulged one final "Run Rickey, Run" chant, Ricky Henderson put on his comedy cap and took a few good natured jabs at his own persona:

"Rickey has tears in his eyes. Rickey has love in his heart for you," Henderson said. "Rickey is so very, very, very humbled."

Amazing. Many former teammates including Bob Welch, Dave Stewart, and Jesse Barfield, a former Blue Jays player and Yankee teammate of Rickey's hilariously wearing two jerseys at once in a lame attempt to remind fans why he was on the field, were all on hand to acknowledge the former A's great.

And great he was. I don't think anyone needs to be reminded of Rickey's greatness, but for posterity's sake I will note that Rickey's career on base percentage is over .400, his career OPS is more than .800, he stole a million bases and ended up with a .386 career wOBA. Career numbers made even more impressive if you're able to ignore the three years too many he hung around at the end while remembering he sustained these numbers over 20+ seasons.

So congrats to you Rickey Henderson, congratulations on making the transition from universally loathed me-first weirdo to transcendent baseball talent and good-natured eccentric. Here's hoping you're on hand in Cooperstown when a very similar player finally gets his call.

Image courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

newstretcher.JPGOne day late but these Dudes are getting Creampuffed all the same. If you plan on taking two long weeks away from baseball, you don't let the weekend stop you.

  • Erik Bedard, Mariners: We should just face facts and change this feature to "What's Up, Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt in Addition to Erik Bedard." Bedard came back off the list, made one aborted start, and jumped back onto the list. His shoulder is the culprit but the real casualty is his flagging trade value. Free agency may just fray his labrum even further.

  • Nate Schierhotlz, Giants: Another week, another wall banger on the Creampuff list. Schierholtz crashed into a chainlink outfield fence, bruising his hip causing internal bleeding! That must just be a fancy way of saying bad bruise, but I think he should retire anyway. Ruptured spleens can only be around the corner.

  • Ian Kinsler, Rangers: The studly second sacker is day-to-day with strained hamstrings suffered earlier this week. Based on the Ranger's financial strife, I think he may have strained his purse strings! AMIRITE?

  • Jeff Suppan, Brewers: The Year of the Oblique strikes again! This time the Brewers Opening Day starter feels the wrath of side pain. The Brewers are on the periphery of the Wild Card and NL Central races so losing Suppan can only help their case.

  • Brett Gardner, Yankees: The Yankees are one of the oldest and slowest teams in baseball, so being known as "the fastest Yankee" is akin to being "the most trusted Mets beat writer" or "assistant to the head meter-reader in Phenom Phenh. With Brett Gardner out with a broken thumb, the position is up for grabs! I predict a 3 heat run off between Hideki Matsui and Yogi Berra, the winner gets to keep the other's mountainous porn collection.

  • Scott Rolen, Reds: Raped in the cab of a dump truck by a Wallaby.

  • LaTroy Hawkins, Astros: SHINGLES. Hawkins isn't the only Astropuff but he's certainly the only one with shingles. No wonder Roy Halladay vetoed a trade to the state of Texas; it's the pitcher illness epicenter of the United States. Nobody wants to see their ace go down with Typhoid.