September 2009 Archives

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (11)

Hey kids, she'll be my mirror


Everyone play nice in the comment section while Weekday Daddy goes to the big boy baseball game. Be back here tomorrow, same WoW channel.

fish_011.gif

As per Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, the Cleveland Indians have informed Eric Wedge and his cast of merry coaches that they will not be retained for the 2010 season. They'll be shown the door after the Indians finish their awful season that may or may not end up in last place behind the miasmic Royals.

The Indians have a home doubleheader today with the White Sox and will then head to Fenway for a four-game set with the Red Sox. Perhaps Wedge and his staff were given a brief farewell tour as a sign of respect from Mark Shapiro and the higher-ups in the Cleveland organization. Most likely, though, it was a simple housecleaning that did not allow the team to find a replacement for a mere six game stretch.

Don't cry for Wedge, he'll still get paid over a million dollars next year to watch re-runs of "Mama's Family" and probably join fellow ex-manager Clint Hurdle on the airwaves, watching his former team improve vastly in his absence.

But most importantly, Liakos totally called this firing, which brings his preseason predictions to a perfect four-outta-four. Kudos, Kris!

Hardcore Dodgers fans and YouTube sensation Troy from West Virginia has moved on from his obsession with Joe Beimel since Beimel is merely a former Dodgers reliever. Hit the bricks, buddy! Now, with the Dodgers recently visiting nearby Pittsburgh, Troy took the opportunity to stalk a brand new Dodgers reliever:


Gross! Maybe Troy is just upset we didn't ask him to do the Dodgers preview this year.

(via Diamond Notes)

adamlindsharpdressedman.JPG

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox who clinched their Wild Card playoff berth last night by losing their fifth consecutive game! Whee! Adding injury to insult, Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon plunked Blue Jays dreamboat Adam Lind on the elbow in the ninth inning.

Sounds pretty typical for a Papelbon appearance, right? Well considering the fact that Lind had already clobbered three home runs into the dark Boston night and was seeking to tie the big league record with number four, it was a pretty dastardly move, but Lind seemed pretty forgiving after the game:

"It was going to be fun. The crowd was back in the game," he said. "It's always fun facing Papelbon. He's one of the best in the game. I was going to go out there and try to put the head of the bat on the ball."

Wow, what a genuinely nice fella. And powerful! Lind now has 35 homers on the year and a stout .932 OPS, easily the brightest spot on a worsening Jays offense. But still, to miss a chance to etch his name in history surely will disappoint Lind over the off-season. Which led me to wonder, how often have players hit three tater tots in a game only to be plunked trying for tater #4?

Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I found every instance of a player hitting at least 3 homers and getting at least 1 HBP in a single game since 1954:

  1. Dmitri Young (DET) April 4, 2005, 3 HR, 1 HBP
  2. Mike Cameron (SEA) May 2, 2002, 4 HR, 1 HBP
  3. Albert Belle (BAL) July 25, 1999, 3 HR, 1 HBP
  4. Cliff Johnson (NYY) June 30, 1977, 3 HR, 1 HBP
  5. Don Baylor (BAL) July 2, 1975, 3 HR, 1 HBP
  6. Bill Freehan (DET) August 9, 1971, 3 HR, 1 HBP
  7. Willie McCovey (SF) September 22, 1963, 3 HR, 1 HBP

In this list, Cameron, Belle, Baylor, and McCovey were hit by a pitch at a point in the game after they had hit three home runs (in Cameron's case, it was after four!). I'd have to do far more research to determine the intent of the pitchers during those plate appearances, but the fact remains: counting Adam Lind, four players since 1954 have lost their chance to hit a fourth home run because of a HBP while one lost his chance to break the all time record and hit his fifth.

In a 2005 game against the Royals, Dmitri Young was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, between his second and third home run of the game, so that doesn't count.

Mike Cameron is the unusual case here. In that game against the White Sox, Cameron hit two homers in the Mariners' 10-run first inning, then hit his third in the third inning and his record-tying fourth in the fifth inning. Sox reliever Mike Porzio then grazed Cameron with a 1-1 pitch in the seventh inning. Cameron had one more chance in the ninth to set the all time record with five tots, but lined out.

Albert Belle hit his third home run in the Orioles game against Anaheim in the ninth inning; it tied the game and sent it to extra innings. He was hit by Shigetoshi Hasegawa in the 11th which helped set up the walkoff hit by Cal Ripken.

Cliff Johnson was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance and actually hit his second and third homers in an 8-run eighth inning by the Yanks against the Jays.

All three of Baylor's home runs came before the fourth inning in his game against the Tigers. He then fouled out in the fifth, was hit by Bob Reynolds in the seventh, and walked in the ninth with his team up 13-5.

Bill Freehan was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance.

Against the Mets, Willie McCovey hit three homers by the fourth inning; in his next plate appearance he was hit by a Grover Powell pitch.

So Jonathan Papelbon joins a not-so-illustrious list of pitchers that includes Mike Porzio, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Bob Reynolds, and Grover Powell. If Papelbon really did intend to hit Lind in the ninth inning last night, he deserves our scorn. If not, then perhaps the Boston reliever should control his pitches a little better. Either way, I genuinely don't like Jonathan Papelbon and just spent an hour trying to put his failures into historical perspective.

(Adam Lind photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Oktoberfest Party Boy #4: The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim

| | Comments (3)
oktoberfest.jpg

The original Oktoberfest in 1810 celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and featured a big horse race. This year, baseball's Oktoberfest celebrates the eight teams that were skilled enough to keep playing deep into October and, if they're lucky, finish the year with a trophy, a platter of sausages, and an imperial pint of Hofbräu. Next up, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as penned by Kris Liakos.

You mighta read Ol' Robbie lamenting the fact that we don't know any Angels fans. It's true. I've been to about a dozen games at the Big A, and have always found the company of Angels fans to be pleasant. They're a knowledgeable sort, not easily risible and proud of their team through most ups and downs. They seem to be developing a bit of a complex regarding the Red Sox, my favored squad, but when I was out there last summer for a Sox/Angels series, everyone was gracious and still had a good sense of humor. More than I can say for myself or John Lackey, last fall.

But to know enough about the team to provide you with a useful playoff preview I decided I needed to go one of the aforementioned knowledgeable Angels followers. Unfortunately I found this Bill Dwyre column from the LA Times instead. But what the hell, it's late and no one else is gonna write this thing. We'll use Bill's bullet points about "what the Red Sox will come to town and face." To wit:

    A smiling, articulate leader in center fielder Torii Hunter, whose glass is always half full and whose bat can hit for average and power.

It's true, Torii is one of the nicer players I've had the pleasure of meeting and everyone in America loves him. Sure he's having a nice season, but I never though opposing teams would have to account for his smiley optimism come crunch time. I have so much to learn.

    An at-bat artist in right fielder Bobby Abreu, who also hits for average and power, but does neither until he has worn out the opposing pitcher while awaiting the exact pitch he wants. Abreu at the plate is like your wife, picking out carpet color for your living room.

Speaking of carpets it's pretty clear that Dwyre wrote this column after huffing some Scotch Guard. I have no idea what that last sentence means. It's true that Abreu is having a solid season, especially for his bargain basement one year deal. He's posting a higher OBP than he did in either of two full seasons with the Yankees, but Dwyre's "making the pitcher work" theory is kind of stale. His MLB rank in pitches per plate appearance is slipping. Assuming he gets plenty of time off now that the Angels have clinched, he'll also tally the fewest Total Bases of his career.

    A first baseman in Kendry Morales, who has hit so well, and with such power, that he has Angels fans struggling to remember that Teixeira guy.

Psst... Bill. Mark Teixeira is the guy that's going to finish 2nd in the MVP voting. Still, Dwyre is correct if he's trying to say that the falloff in production at 1B after the loss of Teixeira is much much smaller than anyone was expecting during the offseason.

    A legendary power hitter in Vlad Guerrero, who is not listening to those who say he is in the twilight of a long and distinguished career.

He can ignore it all he wants but that doesn't make any less true. I tried that with the restraining order my ex filed against me. I DON'T RECOMMEND IT, VLAD.

    A reserve outfielder in Gary Matthews Jr., who has a big contract and a desire to be a regular again, to the point where he will most likely depart the Angels after the season, but who has gone out of his way to not poison a clubhouse with his personal unhappiness in the midst of a successful season.

Well that's gotta be the weirdest compliment I've ever read. The displeasure he expressed all the way back in spring never really reared its head in the clubhouse, and both times I was around the team this season he was quiet, but didn't seem particularly angry or distant from his teammates. So chin up Gary, someone is real proud of you for acting like an adult!

It will be interesting to say how much, if any, playing time Matthews gets in the playoffs. For the money they're paying him it would be nice if he could contribute some pop in even just a pinch hit situation, but with only 4 HRs this season in 302 ABs, his name won't exactly be jumping off the lineup card at Mike Scioscia.

    And a starting pitching rotation of John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana that gives (Mike) Scioscia all the choices a manager could ask for when creating bullpen tactics for a playoff series.

Bullpen tactics, eh? With the 11th ranked bullpen ERA in the AL, the 11th ranked LOB% in the AL, and what is likely going to be the worst relief crew in the playoffs, his best bullpen tactic might be to have those 5 starters throw as many pitches as humanly possible.

Besides all of this I'm curious to see, and Dwyre doesn't mention this, is whether or not memories of last year's epic failed squeeze play will be fresh in Scioscia's mind and affect any of the decisions he makes this year. If you were to ask him that in a press conference you'd probably get socked in the nose before a litany of "that was last year" lines came from the Coach, but still it's something I wonder about.

But by all means, go forth to the playoffs intrepid Angels fans. If you weren't playing the Red Sox I'd probably be pulling for you a little. If you pull off what will be an upset regardless of regular season records, I'll go out of my way to not poison the atmosphere in my apartment. It's the least I can do.

Tonight's Navel-Gazing Questions

| | Comments (35)
comericatigersraindelay.jpg

Hey kids, though I am poor I am free

Tonight: the Twins and Tigers tussle in the second part of a day-nighter out in Comerica Park. Justin Verlander will try to stop Minnesota from knotting the AL Central up in a tie. Joe Mauer will be catching again today, allegedly telling Coach Gardenhire, "I got this." The game in on MLB Network at 7PM.

Also on tap tonight: Tim Hudson versus Josh Johnson in the Braves-Marlins tussle at 7PM and Chris Narveson-Jason Marquis in the Brewers-Rockies game at 8:40PM. Both games have absolute importance. You will follow them closely. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Whew! Wasn't that an exciting way to waste spend three hours at work? I think so. The Twins topped the Tigers, 3-2, in 10 innings, moving Minnesota to only a game back of Detroit in the standings.

If things weren't bad enough for Tigers fans, they also have to listen to every stupid blogger who thinks he's a stand-up comedian write jokes about the bad Detroit economy. (Hey, with all that government cash coming in, do you think Washington's loss to the Lions on Sunday was a planned payback?)

Unfortunately for the Tigers fans reading this site, I'm also a stupid blogger who thinks he's a stand-up comedian. So let's make fun of the ads running behind home plate during today's Twins-Tigers game?

wow.det1.michlottery.jpg

What should you do when you have a bad economy? Why, of course, run ads promising a million dollar payout in the lottery, the form of gambling with the worst possible odds that's not-so-coincidentally run by the government.

But wait, there's more!

Hey, thanks for the rain last night, Mother Nature. Now we get our chance to liveglog the super-important Tigers-Twins game at Comerica Park during the workday. It'd be a businessperson's special except that everyone in Detroit is unemployed, except for the peanut vendors. Liveglog starts at high noon:



bullfella.jpg

As if being a post-modern painter and raising wallaroos wasn't enough to keep shortstop Omar Vizquel occupied in the offseason, it seems that multiple Gold Glove winner will be pursuing a far more dangerous hobby this winter: bullfighting.

The Texas Rangers infielder, who last winter searched for anacondas, plans to try bullfighting when he goes home to Venezuela this winter.

"Just go and learn the basics and stuff," Vizquel said. "It's one of my things on the to-do list. There's a lot of things still to do."

There are few players who can match Vizquel's offseason pursuits. Among the other adventures he hopes for: parachuting, flying in an F-16 jet and attending all three Triple Crown horse races.

Now there's a man in search of breathtaking adventure! Plummeting thousands of feet with nothing but a ripcord and fabric between you and a quick death! Soaring above the clouds and reaching Mach 1 in a dogfighter! Braving the drunken, Western Maryland redneck crowds in the infield at the Preakness! All life-endangering undertakings indeed.

We'll have a proper Oktoberfest: Party Boy column to celebrate the Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim's third consecutive AL West division championship, but until that gets cobbled together, here's a little celebration video:


Of course, this is an unusual celebration since the Angels didn't stay in the clubhouse; they actually trotted out to the right-centerfield wall to honor their fallen teammate Nick Adenhart. This was truly a touching moment and I probably would have wept a little bit while watching if it wasn't for a garrulous Rex Hudler yapping his fat mouth all the while. (hear more of that babillard here)

Rex, there's a time to be a color commentator and there's a time to shut the fuck up. This would be the latter. You remind me of the jackass who, during a moment of silence to honor our veterans, yells at other people to remove their hats. It's a moment of silence, not a moment of chiding.

But oddest of all was the fact that the Angels were spraying champagne as they walked out to honor Adenhart, who was killed by a drunk driver. If that doesn't send mixed signals, then this image surely will. Jeez.

turnerfieldcow.jpg

Hey Chipper Jones, pull your October traveling outfit out of your cedar closet, it's time to get ready for a hasty Braves playoff run! Thanks to the pitching stylings of Jair Jurrjens, the Braves topped the Marlins 4-0 last night. The squad in Atlanta has won a whopping 15 of their last 17 games, part of a surging September 17-8 record that has seen them close down the gap in two different National League races. They're within four games of the division-leading Phillies and only two games behind the Wild Card-leading Rockies.

Can they do it? I don't know, two games is still a huge gap to close with just six games to go, especially when the Braves don't have a face-to-face showdown with Jim Tracy's kids. But with two games against the fading Marlins and four games against the historically bad Nationals, there's no reason to give up hope.

Critics point to the interleague schedule as part of the reason the Braves' record suffered at certain points of the year. Blah, we've heard the complaint about the great inequities in the game over and over again and nothing seems to work. Atlanta played nine games against the Yankees and Red Sox and won just three of them. But then again, the Rockies faced off against first place teams in Detroit and Anaheim, while also facing tough teams like Tampa and Seattle.

And of course, the Rockies haven't had a whopping 14 games against the lowly Nationals with three to go like the Braves do. The MLB schedule is as unbalanced as Milton Bradley's neurochemistry, but like Milton Bradley's neurochemistry, we're stuck with it.

But sheesh, imagine if the Braves hadn't wasted all those plate appearances on Jeff Francoeur.

(Turner Field cow photo courtesy of Flickr user Justin Fain)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (16)

Hey kids, you can't roast a lamb without first shearing its fur


  • IF the Tigers end up choking their division lead to the Twins, will they all be forced to wear these hilarious t-shirts? Nick "Gasm" Blackburn vs Rick "Gasm" Porcello tonight at 7PM on MLB Network.

  • HAS there ever been a more wildly inappropriate yet completely appropriate news headline than this gem?

  • WITH the Rockies idle tonight, can the Braves get rid of that pesky 1/2 game and close within 2 games of the NL Wild Card lead? Jair Jurrjens and his 2.70 ERA take on the Marlins to get that job done.

  • WHICH night of their four-game set with the Rangers will the Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim clinch the division? Their magic number is 2, and whenever it happens, expect a snide and snarky Oktoberfest piece by yours truly.

  • COULD the Phillies blow a five game lead with seven to play? Nah, it's impossible...right?

Thanks again to The Colonel and Diamond Leung for contributing their thoughts on their respective playoff teams today. If you or anyone you know has any information leading to the discovery of a single human being in the blogosphere who cares enough about the Angels to pen a short and interesting piece, lemme know.

Have a good night, dear reader, and please forgive the continued absence of the podcast. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

oktoberfest.jpg

The original Oktoberfest in 1810 celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and featured a big horse race. This year, baseball's Oktoberfest celebrates the eight teams that were skilled enough to keep playing deep into October and, if they're lucky, finish the year with a trophy, a platter of sausages, and an imperial pint of Hofbräu. Next up, the Los Angeles Dodgers, as penned by Diamond Leung.

Jose Lima at this time last year was the proud owner of the only Dodgers postseason victory in the past 20 years.

That it was Lima who won was more than just a trivia answer. It summed up an era of October futility for a franchise that strived for so much more.

And it's still relevant as evidence that, well, you simply never know who'll show up come playoff time.

That doesn't change the fact that Dodgers should have acquired Cliff Lee at the trading deadline.

General manager Ned Colletti said he came close, but it should have gotten done. Throw in some extra cash if you have to, throw in an extra prospect if you must.

Because when you have the National League's best record, you shouldn't be going into the playoffs looking like an underdog.

Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw have had fine seasons, but one doesn't have playoff experience and the other is 21 years old. Hiroki Kuroda starred last year, winning his two outings.

But who knew Chad Billingsley could possibly fall off the map?

Not Joe Torre, but time and time again, he's warned that the Dodgers needed more pitching because you can never have enough. The Dodgers got him Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla. OK, but what they needed was a reigning Cy Young award winner.

Lee doesn't have playoff experience, either He's been very good this season, but has struggled of late with the Phillies. But yes, the difference between Lee and Garland/Padilla was still worth whatever you price you had to pay.

Once again, you have the league's best record. Cash in your chips. Don't simply hope for another Lima-like win.

Is it possible that Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp could slug their way to a World Series title? Absolutely. But would it have been more likely with Lee in the fold?

Their chances in the crapshoot that is the playoffs would surely have been better with such a trump card.

(Diamond Leung is our link to West Coast baseball and has one of the best baseball Tumblrs around)

fastforward.jpg

If you're anything like Times of Trenton columnist Mark Eckel, you didn't watch a lick of baseball over the weekend and you darn well won't be watching any of that regular season nonsense during its last week. Regular season games are for losers and Canadians, right Mark?

Is there anyway to fast forward through the rest of the Major League Baseball season and just get to the playoffs?

For the first time in a long time there isn't a thrilling race to take you to the last weekend of the season.

If you want to get excited about the American League Central Division and Detroit and Minnesota, where the winner gets a chance to get swept by the Yankees, go ahead have a good time. I'll save my excitement for other things.

Other things Mark Eckel is saving his excitement for:

  • Jay Leno's upcoming interview with Matthew McConaughey
  • Pizza Day in the Times of Trenton cafeteria
  • the new Maroon 5 record

Well with that repertoire of excitement on Eckel's plate, I can't argue with his lack of passion for a division race where the top two teams, separated by two games, will play each other four times in the next four days. Justin Verlander versus Joe Mauer? Sounds snoozy!

Even more importantly, if the Twins stay in the race until the weekend, the final three baseball games in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome might have meaning! Imagine, if you will, The Mexicutioner striking out Joe Mauer on Sunday to end the Twins' last hope for the playoffs, and then the entire Baggiedome gets evacuated and imploded immediately afterwards. Drama!

And since the short, five-game format of the Division Series can be easily turned by a couple tidy pitching performances, I think Eckel's hubris-filled assumption that the Yankees will sweep either of the flyover teams is not only bad in a baseball sense, it's embarrassing to Yankees fans everywhere. Dude, the Yankees have gone 0-4 in playoff series since that sonofabitch Dave Roberts swiped second base back in 2004. There is no such thing as a sure thing.

So, what did Mr. Eckel think of the National League races before the weekend started?

The wild-card race, which almost always comes right down to the end, sees Colorado with a five-game lead over both San Francisco and Atlanta going into last night's play.

All that's left is the actual seeding, and even that's not a big deal because it's either going to be the Dodgers vs. Phillies and Cardinals vs. Rockies, or the Dodgers vs. Cardinals and Phillies vs. Rockies.

Well, Atlanta reeled off five straight wins and closed the gap to 2.5 games (just 2 in the loss column) since Mr. Eckel tippy-tapped this column out on his word processor, so we can use the magical tool known as "hindsight" to call him a boob. The Braves have a seven-game homestand with the Marlins and Nationals; with six wins in the last week, the Rockies would need to win 4 of 6 against the Brewers and Dodgers to avoid the dreaded one-game playoff.

So don't start dicking around seeding yet, Mr. Eckel. The Twins and Tigers will play their games in front of a national audience the next three nights (Monday and Tuesday on MLB Network, Wednesday on ESPN) and then I'll liveglog the Thursday afternoon game if it has meaning. And if all eight of the playoff seeds have been decided by Thursday, I'll allow you to groove to that Maroon 5 snoozer all you want.

yukiohatayama.jpg

When the Group of 20 conference comes a-callin' to your town, you expect to see some crazy stuff, but not just the wacky and colorful protesters. Board up the Starbucks, Ma! G-20 protesters a-comin!

For the latest international hoedown in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh, some foreign leaders took advantage of all the cultural gems that Western Pennsyltucky had to offer. New Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, a lifelong baseball fan, toed the rubber at PNC Park on Saturday night and fulfilled the dreams of a million young Japanese fans: throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for a 96-loss team in front of approximately 72 fans.

But hey, check out the leg kick on that 62-year-old prime minister! He's like Juan Marichal with a touch of Eastern intrigue.

oktoberfest.jpg

The original Oktoberfest in 1810 celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and featured a big horse race. This year, baseball's Oktoberfest celebrates the eight teams that were skilled enough to keep playing deep into October and, if they're lucky, finish the year with a trophy, a platter of sausages, and an imperial pint of Hofbräu. Next up, the St. Louis Cardinals, as penned by The Colonel.

Well, well well. Look here. The St. Louis Cardinals are the NL Central champs. This comes as a surprise/disappointment to some of you, but it was actually a remarkable journey to get to this point. Just look at the Opening Day roster. The starting third baseman was Brian Barden. Someone named "Chris Duncan" was starting in left field. David "Mister" Freese was the Cards third baseman representative on the All-Star ballot.

The roster has changed. Julio Lugo has had a slight rejuvenation going against Houston Astro and Washington National pitching. Mark DeRosa has stabilized the hot corner, and Matt Holliday has provided another impact bat AND mortgaged the farm system. In addition to these additions, Grapefruit League Batting Champion Khalil Greene has been relegated to pinch hitter status and Brendan Ryan has delivered Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Ryan's defensive coming-of-age has coincided with the emergence of Joel Pineiro. I admit that at the beginning of the season I was not looking forward to having Pineiro in the starting rotation. I figured Todd Wellemeyer would have built on his 2008 in which he posted a 3.99 ERA. I obviously didn't factor in Wellemeyer and Pineiro finding a mysterious skull from the South China Seas à la Vice Versa.

Pineiro revitalized his career with the help of Dave Duncan and his philosophy of the sinking fastball. Pineiro is currently sporting a 3.24 ERA thanks to all those ground balls. His progress, along with the woodworking pitching duo (You see, a wainwright is a wagon maker and a carpenter is a carpenter) give the team a formidable arsenal going into the playoffs.

This being the seventh time the Cardinals have made the playoffs since 2000, it's easy to take this accomplishment for granted. But the fan base is far from that of the Braves fans in the 90s (Sorry, matt_t). The team isn't taking their playoff entry down to deadline. The organization's top prospects were traded away this year to lose in the first round. The organization is going for broke and the Greatest Fans in Baseball.™

Oh, and Pujols, bitches.

secondbase.jpgIt wasn't long ago that second base was home to slap-hitting wussies known more for their ability to bunt, steal, and execute than any useful offensive skills. Players like Ryne Sandberg and Joseph Pulitzer stood out because they were exceptions to the Jose Lind rule.

Like Texas, everything is bigger in the American League East, though you're likely to put you on death row for jaywalking inside Camden Yards. Over the past week, AL East second sackers have accomplished a wide variety of feats. Brian Roberts set a big league record for doubles in a season by a switch hitter with 55, meaning the rarefied air of 60 is still within his grasp. In the very same game, Aaron Hill knocked his 33 home run of the year before knocking in the game-winning run with a double of his own in the 11th. Hill added his 34 a few days later, putting him within shouting distance of the American League record for second baseman (39).

Reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia knocked his 45 double of the season off some kid named Zack Grienke. Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano has 46 doubles of his own to go with his 24 home runs, his most recent driving in the decisive run in a 3-0 Yankees win.

Very quietly in Tampa, Rays defacto second baseman and all around SABR-stud Ben Zobrist sports a season OBP right around .400 and OPS near .920. His excellent (if slightly overrated) defense combines with those gaudy offensive numbers to make Zobrist one of the most valuable players in all of baseball this season.

In other words, unless the pivot on your team has a name that starts with "Ch" and ends with "dozens of South Jersey girls defiled on a weekly basis", the second basemen of the American League East are better than the second basemen of your fair city. They are all stars, in fact. Bright, shining stars.

How bright? Five of the top 8 second basemen in baseball (according to Fangraphs) ply their trade in the division that nuance forgot. 5 true 5 tool studs that are changing the way we think about the what it means to be a middle infielder. It would be a shame if the cacophony of noise surrounding this blustery division swept away 5 truly excellent players all having damn fine seasons.

Image stolen from Save Second Base. Support their fight against breast cancer here

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (37)

Hey kids, you live and learn. At any rate, you live.


I'm headed out to Yankee Stadium to see the big pitching matchup of Jon Lester and CC Sabathia, truly an occasion of Walkoff Walk kismet because of my bet with Catshirt. Of course, Joe Girardi had to mess with the Yankees rotation and push Sabathia back a day which means I'm stuck witnessing a Joba Chamberlain start in person for the sixth time this year.

The bet still stands, even though Sabathia's turn won't come until tomorrow. In ERA+, Lester leads 142 to 135; with a bad start by the Sox ace tonight in a pitchers park, I'll have a fighting chance.

Enjoy your weekend, all, and get excited to see some Weekend Daddy Drew Fairservice brilliance and some more Oktoberfest playoff posts. Speaking of which, if anyone out there is an Angels fan or knows an Angels fan, lemme know. See you Monday, same WoW channel.

(video via mnftiu.cc)

tim gunn.jpg

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is so tired, people. Just because they're the two best teams in baseball, both currently and historically, doesn't mean that the local newsrags need to keep hyping up their rivalry with silly incidents that mean nothing in the grand scheme of baseball fandom.

Yankees fans hate Red Sox fans, and vice versa, and with a series between the two teams looming this weekend (and possibly in October!), it's time once again to dredge up these two-bit stories.

The latest comes from Baldwinsville, New York, where an elementary school teacher and Red Sox fan named Peter Addabbo told one of his 9-year-old students was a fashion disaster:

Van Buren Elementary fourth-grader Nathan Johns thought his teacher was kidding Wednesday when he instructed him to go to the bathroom and turn his Yankees T-shirt inside out.

The blue shirt read "New York No. 52" on the front and "Sabathia" for the New York Yankees' pitcher CC Sabathia, on the back.

Nate complied, and said he was later told to wear it that way until dismissal. At lunch, Nate said the fifth-graders made fun of him because he wearing his shirt inside out. "It was such a horrible day." Nate said. "I don't ever want anything like to happen again."

Poor tyke! His teacher paints the classroom walls with Red Sox paraphernalia and yet the lad cannot go against the grain and support his own favorite squadron? For shame, Mr. Addabbo.

Also due a bit of shaming: Johns' parents, who claim their son's First Amendment rights were violated. Funny, I don't recall seeing an item in our Constitution's Bill of Rights that implied a right to little white boys to bear cheap CC Sabathia shirseys. Perhaps it's buried next to the part that guarantees the right to bring hilarious signs to Pittsburgh.

(thanks to reader Upstate Underdog for the tip)

Omar Vizquel Is An Excellent Storyteller - 1995

|

This week Classic TV Friday brings us back to 1995. Cleveland was apparently throwing a parade for the Indians losing the World Series. Any excuse to build a float, I guess. This gem of a story comes from excellent painter and maybe future HOFer Omar Vizquel. It chronicles one of his shopping adventures in Atlanta, and judging by the shirt he has on in the video, dude had a flair for flair back in the mid nineties.

Omar is a WoW favorite and this one is an instant classic. Please to enjoy.

junglepuff.jpgLots of Creampuffs get shut down for the year with varying levels of actual or imagined malady. The injury reports tend to leak out in a less than upfront manner at this time of year, as the swollen roster can take the hits a lot better than these Creampuffs.

I tried to narrow it down to men of importance this week. Unfortunately, the interesting and/or impactful people are all absconded deep in FORTRESS PITTSBURGH so I had to write about baseball players instead.

  • Bobby Jenks, White Sox: The girthiest closer in the American League is out for the year with some sort of leg injury common to fat people. Jenks was spotted in the clubhouse wearing a walking boot usually used to support the ankle or leg, here used to smuggle fudge into the bullpen.

  • Junichi Tazawa, Red Sox: The Japanese Red Sock of least importance was placed on the 60 Day DL with a strained groin Monday. 60 day DL for a groin strain?? Sounds serious. THEY MUST BE HOLDING HIS GROIN MUSCLES TOGETHER WITH CHOPSTICKS. Or they needed to clear a spot on the 40 man roster in September. A baseball-mad nation eventually turns its eyes to you Junichi, just as soon as they've found out what Ichiro thinks about Metal Gear Solid 4.

  • Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays: The surprising contract year shortstop figures to be done for the annum with planter fasciiatis. Or "a tear in the plantar fascia in his right heel." Either the infernal Fieldturf is killing Marco Scutaro or he secretly plays in the NBA. Have you ever seen him and Manu Ginobili in the same room? Italian last names yet hailing from South America? The same elaborate yet lazy alibi for a secret two sport star. Marco Scutaro will work your pitch count as he takes you to the hole.

  • Chipper Jones, Braves: First the groin and now the back. Ol' Chip is wearing down. Too much time in the dear stand, I reckon.

  • Nolan Reimold, Orioles: Rookie of the Year darkhorse rides a pale horse into the offseason after Achilles Tendon surgery. Another disappointment for Orioles fans and players. Reimold should recover in time for Opening Day next where he will join teammates Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Matt Weiters, and Adam Jones in futilely pursuing personal goals and accolades.

  • Bruce Chen, Royals: If you have Bruce Chen on your fantasy team, you deserve the worst the world has to offer. Your team can only be in last place of an AL Central Keeper league and your life could charitably be described as shambolic. Seek help now. On a cheerier note: Bruce Chen pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009? Dayton Moore should apply everything I said before to his tenure. You'd have to sign three Zack Greinke's to cover up the mess he made.

  • Numerous Wallabies, Sydney Rapists: Sand-raped by a vengeful God. The wallabies are on notice.
That is about it. Sorry Scott Hairston, you moved from one pitcher's park to another and put up worse numbers. Nobody cares about your ouchy hips.
nationalspark.jpg

I spent so much time cobbling together that horrible Photoshop of the Nationals 2009 season that I really have nothing much to say about their far-from-impressive feat of losing 100 games for the second season in a row. But the mere fact that, with their loss to the Dodgers last night, the Nats have become the first National League team since the '73-'74 Padres to 'accomplish' said 'feat' is all the juice you need this morning to satisfy your deep-seated desires for schadenfreude.

(background photo courtesy of Flickr user afagen)

bobbyvstamford.jpg

Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine has a bar in his hometown of Stamford, CT and, because my girlfriend lives in Stamford, I've walked by the place a number of times. We've never gone in because, frankly, if I wanted a crappy sports bar with bad jalapeno poppers and crazy crap on the walls, there's a perfectly good Applebee's down the road in Norwalk.

But my absence is not stopping Bobby V's from hosting weekly Wednesday karaoke nights, and it's not stopping the local gals from causing quite a ruckus when they don't like the singer:

More than a New York woman's ego was wounded when six women beat her up over a bad karaoke performance in Stamford, police said.

The 25-year-old woman from Port Chester, New York, was singing at Bobby Valentine's Restaurant on Wednesday night when six women made some derogatory comments about the victim's inability to sing, police said. What she was singing, we have no idea.

The group is accused of punching and kicking the singer, chipping her tooth and bruising her, and pulling her hair. The victim went to Stamford Hospital to be treated.

This was probably just a big misunderstanding because those girls obviously only wanted some wrap sandwiches.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (15)
kittywithmillerlite.jpg

Hey kids, what's with all the reaping and sowing?

  • BEFORE your regularly scheduled rostrum of sitcoms begins tonight, won't you check out Justin Verlander as he tries to complete the Tiger sweep over the Indians? The contest is on MLB Network at 7PM.

  • DO you realize that Bronson Arroyo is compiling a twelve game streak of quality starts in which his ERA has dropped from above 5.00 to below 4.00? Fella has 14 wins now for a hot Reds team that's threatening the Brew Crew for third place.

  • WILL Felix Hernandez take advantage of the worsening Blue Jays offense to shore up his Cy Young Award credentials? Zack Greinke is shaking in his boots.

  • HOW much would you demand from a young player if you were in the outfield stands and caught his first ever home run ball? Don't you think $10,000 is a bit much?

  • DO you want to participate in a Walkoff Walk Fantasy Basketball League? Good news, I'm not involved so there is zero chance for chicanery or hi-jinks. Please email Drew at lloyd at walkoff walk dot com if you want a slice of that.

Tomorrow is Friday. You know what that means. Same WoW channel.

(photo purrrr-loined from I Can Has Cheezburger)

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

  • Our pals Rinku and Dinesh are raising money to send home to their families in India by selling autographed baseballs and signed glossy photos. Just buy two $50 baseballs and you can buy Rinku's dad an entire new fleet of trucks. Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • There is a Yankees fan blog devoted to the hilarious and cringe-worthy radio calls of Mr. John Sterling. The YouTube videos contained within are must-see-TV. Beyond the Box Score.

  • On the heels of Prince Fielder becoming the single-season RBI and walk king in Milwaukee, our new pal Larry posted the comprehensive list of franchise records set in 2009 or on the verge of being set. Naturally, the only Mets record set this year was for "combined team melancholy". Wezen-ball.

  • Doug Glanville dismisses on-base percentage as a useful statistic for evaluating leadoff hitters and then Rob Neyer points out Glanville's career OBP of .315 and then Rob Iracane includes it in his silly Thursday linkdump. Rob Neyer's Sweet Spot.

  • Joe Posnanski did a live-chat-commenty-type-thinger at Deadspin. It was great. You missed it. Deadspin.

  • Eric Ripert has a smoked salmon & caviar dish on his menu that looks like a cooter. My hilarious Twitter feed.


Some fat guy with a fishing rod "cast" out the ceremonial first pitch at Rogers Centre last week in front of the gathered dozens in the stands. Blue Jays fever! Catch it!

In related news, a NASCAR driver will fart out the first pitch at an upcoming Braves game.

(via Stoeten at Drunk Jays Fans)

How In The Hell Does Eric Wedge Still Have A Job?

| | Comments (3)
eric_wedge_autograph.jpg

Much much earlier in this season (back when I was still writing about baseball) I made my second annual predictions about which managers would be fired during the season. I missed Clint Hurdle, like I think many of us did, but with Cecil Cooper getting the axe this week, 3 out of my 4 tomato cans have gone down. Which begs the question: Why haven't the 61-90 Cleveland Indians made Eric Wedge one of our nation's myriad unemployed?

Mired in a ten game losing streak, Cleveland management can't argue it's too late in the season. Cooper got his walking papers two days ago. And the current issue losing streak isn't even the issue. They haven't been closer than ten games out in the division since June. And they were lousy last year! But Wedge is seemingly immune to any of it. In this Cleveland Plain Dealer blog post by Starting Blocks (that can't be his real name) we hear that wins and losses should actually have nothing to do with whether Wedge keeps his job.

The few wins in the last several weeks have been inconsequential, and the many recent losses mostly impact what the record books will show for the 2009 Cleveland Indians.

A decision, for instance, on the managerial future of Eric Wedge shouldn't hinge on whether the Indians lose 20 or lose 25 of their last 30 games. It's been all about the young guys learning how to play in the big leagues.

I'm not totally sure what Mr. Blocks means by this, but I think it's that since Wedge and the Indians are so far out of contention they play lots of youngsters, so wins and losses aren't Wedge's fault. That's the kind of logic that keeps you living in Cleveland.

What a lot of this boils down to is that, like in any "FIRE THAT BUM" story in baseball, is that only a share of the blame rests on the manager but someone has to be held accountable. In this case, with all the optimism and the decent amount of money spent by The Indians this winter once Wedge is gone, people are going to have to take a cold hard look at Mark Shapiro. Just like I've been since we started this site. And you know what happens then. He gets fired too. So if there's been any pressure from ownership to fire Wedge before this point, one would have to think that Shapiro has been standing in measured opposition trying to make his last couple house payments. And I think that may be the answer to this post title.

the-closer.jpg Part of being a "smart" sports fan in the 21st century is being able to separate what's frustrating from what really hurts a team. A Ryan Howard strikeout is frustrating, sure, but strikeouts are part of his game. And when his game is a career .959 OPS (141 OPS+), you can ignore the strikeouts (which are really only slightly more damaging than groundouts or line drive outs or going out of the basepath or putting too much pine tar on your bat, anyway).

But frustrating plays certainly detract from your enjoyment of the game as a fan, or at least make it more, well, frustrating. Last season, the Phillies' enjoyed a near-perfect season from their bullpen, with Brad Lidge converting all 41 of his save opportunities and closing out seven more games in the postseason. It seemed like the Phillies cruised to the World Series title last year, and that's not just because they went 11-3 in October. They also had a bullpen that didn't blow any games. Last year's postseason was extra fun for Phillies fans because there were no close calls, no walkoff homers (or walks) for the other team, no repeat of Mitch Williams.

This year, of course, is another story. The Phillies will still win their third straight division title, but it hasn't been as much fun this time around. Last night, Brad Lidge blew his 11th save of the year, giving up 2 runs in the ninth as the Marlins beat the Phillies. A year after going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA (225 ERA+), Lidge is 0-8 (!) with a 7.48 ERA (57 ERA+). Before last night's blown one, Lidge had three straight saves -- giving up at least a run in each. His last 1-2-3 save was at the Baker Bowl (Aug. 30, actually).

For Phillies fans, the ninth inning has become the time to pace back and forth, the time to move your Phillies hat around the room in the hopes it has some magical effect on the game, the time to sacrifice a goat in order to turn Brad Lidge into a pitcher who can manage to get out of an inning without giving the other team the win. Personally, I've been locking myself in the bathroom and following the game on MLB.com. It's just easier that way.

I fully expect someone to put out a paper eventually arguing that relief pitching success is almost completely random. Conventional wisdom was Brad Lidge's career was finished after he gave up a game-winning homer to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS. He went out and had a perfect season and closed out the World Series, and only after that can he not finish a game. The Chicago White Sox won the Series in 2005 after a successful season partially due to great relief seasons by guys like Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte and Neil Cotts. David Price (22 at the time) shut the door on Boston in last year's ALCS. Jose Mesa saved 321 career games.

That closing games might just be one of life's great mysteries is no comfort to Phils fans. They'll have to keep covering their eyes every time Lidge (or Ryan Madson, who has six blown saves this year) comes into the game. It's more frustrating than when Ryan Howard swings at one of those sliders in the dirt.

bobbycoxejection.jpg

Yesterday's speculation proved to have at least a shred of truth inside, but it turns out to be a bittersweet truth for Braves manager Bobby Cox. Fella is hanging up his angry pants after next season but will stay on for at least five years with the Atlanta organization as a consultant. He'll get the satisfaction of spewing his wisdom collected over dozens upon dozens of years in the game without having the pain of actually interacting with Nate McLouth. Win-win!

So, will next year be a Bobby Cox Retirement Tour around the majors or do the Braves have a fighting chance to send off their crusty old cap'n with a playoff push? If you believe in the young, strikeout-y pitching staff headed by the likes of Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, the answer is yes. If you have little faith in the creaky, powerless offense headed by a soon-to-be-retiring Chipper Jones, the answer is no. The key to the 2009 Atlanta Braves will be finding a corner outfielder who can hit which was the same exact key to the 2008 Braves, yet all they ended up with was Garret Anderson. It's Bobby's last year, Frank Wren. Get the man a hitter.

Cox will retire fourth on the all-time managerial wins list but will probably be overtaken by Joe Torre as long as Torre's prostate holds out. The top eight inactive managers on that list are all in the Hall of Fame and there's nothing to keep Cox from joining them. He only has that one World Series win but then again, Joe McCarthy, Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda never had to deal with a pesky Divisional Series.

Baseball will miss Bobby Cox, but perhaps there is no other single person happier that Bobby will be staying with the Braves in that consulting position for the next five years is Pamela Cox.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (34)
mdtlasordasexytime.jpg

Hey kids, it's not a crime if you say it in rhyme

We're closing up shop early today but that doesn't mean you can't live-comment the 3:30PM Yankees-Angels tilt with me below. Our deepest thanks go to WoW reader MDT for taking the time out of his busy day to do some investigative journalism at the National Portrait Gallery. Go read his MMA blog.

Back tomorrow, same WoW channel.

FoldingWalker.jpgWhen the A's released tarnished slugger Jason Giambi towards the end of August, many tall foreheads and assorted baseball watchers left the big lefty for dead. The stench of performance enhancing steroids hung over the former Giambino and his precipitous offensive drop-off.

While many clucked their tongues and derided the Dan O'Dowd's insurance acquisition as a waste of time, a select group of elite thinkers could see good(ish) things in Giambi's future. That is right; three members of the Walkoff Walk editorial team predicted, with alarming prescience, the resurgence of Jason Giambi: designated walker.

During the August 24th edition of the Walkoff Walk Furious Five Podcast, Rob, Dmac, and myself discussed the potential role for Giambi with the Rockies. Here is a sampling of our quotes on the matter:

  • All that's going to happen is they're going to bring in the lefty reliever and he's going to walk

  • ...is he going to produce any value or is he just going to walk a lot?

  • If he's going to come in and he's going to draw a walk, that's okay especially in the National League.

  • There is always that threat...he can still run into a fastball and then you're behind

And what has Jason Giambi done since joining the Rockies? He's walked. Walked like a retiree before the mall opens. The once lavishly paid slugger has only made 3 starts in September but so far has 7 walks in 22 plate appearances at the big league level, 4 in his 9 pinch hit chances. That is good for a .591 on base percentage and a 31.8% BB rate. He even notched tater tots in back-to-back games this weekend, raising his Rockies' OPS to an alarming 1.458.

Even more alarming? That we idiots three called it. We could see value in Giambi's ability to convert 50% of his pinch hit chances with a modicum of success. I predict we'll each be fielding numerous calls from big league front office's looking to gain the edge of our baseball acumen flying under their respective flags. Don't expect us to come running though. Like Jason Giambi, we'll just walk.

bobby_valentine_burger.jpg

Because Dave Winfield obviously isn't pulling his weight on the Baseball Tonight set, the eggheads at ESPN have decided to spice up their MLB coverage with an old friend, the recently unemployed Bobby Valentine. Valentine resigned as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines despite the 100,000 signatures of delusional Japanese folks and is most likely looking for a top job back in the USA. So he'll probably use ESPN as a springboard à la Bob Brenly and Buck Showalter, right?

Valentine, who pulled no punches in front of the camera, has already proven he has TV chops (sources said "The Baseball Network" also showed interest in him), but still wants to manage.

Hey Bob Raissman, what the heck is "The Baseball Network"? My cable system gets the MLB Network but not "The Baseball Network". Way to have your finger on the pulse of sports media, bucko. Bob continues:

If he comes to ESPN, it may be under circumstances similar to those in 2003. That's when ESPN put a "protection" clause in Bobby V.'s contact.

Back then, ESPN suits set a precedent for hiring a manager-in-waiting. As part of the three-year offer negotiated with Valentine, network executives insisted that Valentine pay a monetary penalty if he bolted for a manager's job.

That's funny, because as a subscriber to ESPN's bevy of cable channels, I'd pay good money to keep this bloviating blowhard off of my airwaves and into the role as Mets manager. But with a rostrum of "analysts" that includes the moronic Steve Phillips and the confused John Kruk, I expect nothing less from ESPN than to hire this self-promoting, delusional butthead.

But heck, I haven't watched a lick of ESPN's Baseball Tonight all season long, thanks to the fine job done by the MLB Network. I'd rather have 6+ hours of live coverage without any coverage of lesser sports than the abysmal 'analysis' on ESPN. But if the rumour of the MLB Network pursuing Valentine is true, that's a real shame. After all, they have a perfectly good rostrum of on-air personalities, plus Ken Rosenthal.

(we owe a pallet of Cherry Coke to Big League Stew)

bobbycoxangry.jpg

Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox' contract expires at the end of this season, and if you believe what you read on these Internets, he's so fed up with team G.M. Frank Wren that he ain't coming back for 2010. Seems as though Cox and Wren get along about as poorly as a fox and a hound and I'm not talking about those cute Disney characters. I mean that Frank Wren has been chasing Bobby Cox' scent around the forest for the past six months so he can tear him limb from limb. Too graphic a metaphor? You decide.

The AJC's Mark Bradley reports:

Bobby Cox responded this morning to a Yahoo! Sports report of discord between him and Braves GM Frank Wren. Said Cox, speaking via iPhone from New York: "Everything is fine. Frank has been outstanding ... I couldn't believe it when I [learned of the report]."

Gordon Edes reported Tuesday that Cox had been so angry over the handling of John Smoltz's departure and the failure to be included in personnel discussions he packed his bag and had to be talked out of leaving spring training by a Braves coach. Asked if that had indeed happened, Cox said, "No."

But it took our own Matt_T to ask the important question:

Bobby has an iphone?

Seriously, Matt, why isn't this fact the crux of the news item? A senior citizen carrying around an iPhone is shocking indeed! I can't imagine Cox operating the tiny on-screen keyboard with his haggard old fingers nor could I picture him cruising the App Store for new software that tells him how to further mishandle his bullpen.

But if the reports are true and the Braves will announce Cox' future plans after their current road trip ends, well, I sure hope it's not the end of the road for ol' Bobby. Baseball needs its wrinkled old codgers, especially those who have embraced new technologies. Except Jim Leyland, he's stuck in the past, he can go.

lasorda2.jpg


The National Portrait gallery added a huge (60''x50'') painting of Tommy Lasorda yesterday, honoring the man the LA Times referred to as "perhaps baseball's most beloved goodwill ambassador." Now I like the guy, even if my partner may not, but as always happens when our lovable baseball curmudgeons transcent the sport and land on a national stage, there are some giggle inducing details and quotes.

The Lasorda painting, measuring 60 inches by 50 inches, was put on display next to Andy Warhol's portrait of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and across from Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey's iconic image of President Obama.

"The intent of the collection is to be representative of people who uniquely shaped the American experience," said Mallory Walker, chairman of the National Portrait Gallery Commission.

Brandon Fortune, curator of painting and sculpture, added that the gallery looked to "collect figures that have resonance with today's audience . . . someone who is popular with millions of Americans."

This is where I was going to make a joke about his Slim Fast commercials' resonance with millions of fat Americans, but the shrill, dunderheaded Dodgers exec did it for me. Except she was serious!

"Tommy is larger than life," McCourt said. "Now, we're going to be reminded of it."

Noting that Lasorda's fame extended beyond baseball, McCourt recalled when she first met him, her reaction was: "It's the Slim-Fast guy."

I can't believe that woman has a major role with a first place team. Here's one more picture of the picture, showing the painting's place next to Warhol's famous Kennedy portrait.

lasordapainting.jpg

Lasorda revealed himself as a bit of a fatalist after the proceedings. When asked what was next for him, he said, "Heaven." Is Tommy planning something? Can we get a 24/7 watch on him in case he wants to do something drastic. TOMMY DONT GO YET YOU'RE TOO YOUNG!
oktoberfest.jpg

The original Oktoberfest in 1810 celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and featured a big horse race. This year, baseball's Oktoberfest celebrates the eight teams that were skilled enough to keep playing deep into October and, if they're lucky, finish the year with a trophy, a platter of sausages, and an imperial pint of Hofbräu. First up, the New York Yankees.

Last night, the Yankees finally won a game in Anaheim but it was a Texas Rangers' loss earlier in the night that clinched at least a Wild Card entry. It's a nice reward for the team that suffered through a painful, year-long absence from the postseason. Derek Jeter likens the disappointing 2008 season to being a naughty boy:

"It's almost like you're a kid and your parents don't let you go out to play," Jeter said. "You're watching everyone outside the window because you're in trouble. That's what it felt like. Now we're off punishment and you can go back out there.

But despite the gold-embossed invitation to the playoffs, Derek and his pals aren't ready to relax and enjoy it:

"Our goal is always to win the division. You've got to clinch a spot, but our goal coming into the season was always to win the East. If we continue to play well, we've got a chance to do that. We've acknowledged the fact that we're in the postseason, but you don't celebrate yet."

The Yankees' magic number to clinch the AL East is six; with the Red Sox coming to Yankee Stadium this weekend, the race could be over as early as Sunday. But remember, these are the Yankees; even a division title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs will still prove to be disappointing to the jamooks without a World Series title.

Expectations in the postseason are always artificially high for super-successful teams in the regular season, not just the Yankees. Remember the 116-win Mariners from 2001? Remember the 111-win Indians of 1954? Remember the 104-win Braves back in 1993? Their fans expected a title and didn't get it because the short form of the playoffs are a crapshoot. But take the combined disappointment from those three teams and you still can't expect to impress a spoiled Yankee fan when their team falls short.

It's unfair and it's the reason people hate Yankees fans. Heck, it's the reason I hate Yankees fans too and I'm part of the problem. But maybe this year, Yankees fans will temper their expectations and appreciate the gift of postseason play.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (7)
babyburger.jpg

Hey kids, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong

If your favorite team is playing a meaningless game tonight and you'd like to see Chad Gaudin thrown into the lion's den, check out the Yankees-Angels tilt on the MLB Network at 10PM EDT. Otherwise, the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest is on TCM at 8PM as the network higlights Bernard Herrmann-scored films this month.

Either way we'll see you tomorrow, same WoW channel. You too, Burger Baby.

moneybaby.jpg

As if having a backlog of creditors (including Shawon Dunston!) banging on the door at Wrigley Field asking for money wasn't bad enough for the Cubs ownership, it seems as if the IRS may have the last word on their upcoming sale. Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell, who probably hates angry black folks as much as everyone in Chicago, is trying to avoid paying over $300 million in taxes by forming a leveraged partnership with the Ricketts family and retaining a small percentage of ownership.

This is nothing new; we knew about the possible tax dodge back in November of last year. But losing $300 million in tax revenue is not something the IRS takes lightly, so those nerds may bust out the slide rules and law books to figure out a way to challenge the faux 'partnership'.

I'll let menschy Wall Street Journal bizniss columnist Allan Sloan explain:

Now Zell is trying to get around the problem he created when he converted Tribune from a standard C corporation to an S corporation to avoid taxes. Firms making that switch owe corporate gains taxes if within 10 years of the change they sell assets, such as the Cubs, in which they had "built-in gains."

Hence Zell's nonsale sale of the Cubs, which would work like this. The Ricketts family, founders of Ameritrade (now TD Ameritrade), would put $150 million of cash into a partnership that would also borrow up to $698 million. Tribune would put the Cubs, Wrigley Field and related assets into the partnership.

Tribune would emerge with $740 million of cash and 5 percent of the partnership, while the Ricketts family would have 95 percent and operating control. Call me naive, but it sure seems to me that when you start with 100 percent and full control and end up with 5 percent, $740 million and no control, you've sold 95 percent.

Sounds like a scam to me, but I doubt Sam Zell has a better option. He overpaid for an unprofitable business in a dying medium and now wants to escape with some sheckels still in his grubby mitts. It's almost surprising that the Cubs have been competitive while operating as a tax shelter for a newspaper company the past two years. It probably doesn't surprise the IRS since Zell tried this once before. Last year, he unloaded 97% of the New York Newsday paper to Cablevision and waltzed away with 650 million untaxed simoleons. C'mon Zell, share with the rest of us. We need our Obamacare!

(via waxpaperbeercup and ShareBro Flubby)

twitterbird.jpg

Good news for fans of baseball playoff games on basic cable and social media alike: the TBS studio team will be live-tweeting their biting commentary and brilliant analysis during the postseason this October. Haven't you always wanted to know the most intimate thoughts of Dennis Eckersley and Craig Sager? I know I have, by golly.

So which TBS employee has the most followers so far?

Well the NBA guys like Sager and Johnson have a step up on the naif baseball folks because they joined way back in April and had their Twitter handles splashed across the screen during the painful 6-month-long NBA playoffs. So let's take them out of the equation. For now, Eckersley is way ahead of his compatriots because (a) he joined in August (b) Red Sox fans will follow anyone with a shred of a connection to the team and (c) he's the most likely to melt down and curse on Twitter.

That leaves Caray, Darling, Martinez, Ripken and Wells. Which one of these dudes will collect the most followers by the time the playoff coverage on TBS finishes? Who is going to spew the best witticisms and write the most interesting tweets? I've got my money on David Wells who has never shied away from being a bloviating blowhard.

601bradleyorange.jpg

If someone polled Kris, Drew and me about our most favoritest players in baseball and then collated our selections to rank the players on one overall list, I doubt Milton Bradley would finish in the top ten. But there is perhaps no other athlete who best fits into the mission statement of Walkoff Walk. Milton Bradley is both talented and yet fails to live up to expectations; Milton is equal parts tragedy and comedy; Milton is the perennial creampuff who bleeds human condition all over the field.

So with the Cubs season winding down into misery for the 101st consecutive season, the biggest story in town is the mercurial Milton Bradley, suspended for calling out the team and the fans and deep dish pizza and Ditka and everything Chicagoans hold dear to the media. Forgive the amount of coverage here at WoW, but since the papers are doing whatever is in their best interest by pushing the story, we will too. The latest development had the Long Beach Press-Telegram interviewing Milton's mother, Charlena Rector:

"Apparently, he talked about all the negativity surrounding the team - and that included the fans. Well, he was only telling the truth. Why should he be suspended for telling the truth?

"He told me, `You can feel the hatred in this city.' Every time Milton has made an out with the Cubs this season he gets booed. He's had a lot of terrible things said to him when he's been out there in the outfield at Wrigley Field. This season has been a nightmare for him."

The Chicago Tribune also interviewed Ms. Rector who claimed that Milton's three-year-old son faced racial slurs along with his father and accused the Cubs fans of being racist.

I criticized Milton yesterday for not playing up to his potential but really, why should a player in his position be suspended for speaking his mind? It's unprecedented, and the MLB Players Association agrees. They're probably going to file a grievance to get Bradley reinstated. And why not? Bradley was not making up stories and telling lies when he spoke to the newspaper. There is negativity in every big league city and it's only magnified in Chicago.

Add in the harassment Bradley suffered and he becomes a sympathetic figure who does everything in his power to annoy and irritate you, and replace that sympathy with disappointment. He is the poster boy for the duality of man and will find his way onto the pages of Walkoff Walk as long as his career continues to simultaneously impress and depress us.

(we owe a six pack of Coke Zero to Diamond Notes)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (5)
chisoxfireworkds.jpg

Hey kids, the White Sox really like their fireworks

  • EVER wish there was a way to organize an alternate baseball lexicon? The Rogue's Baseball Index is exactly the type of etymological enterprise our readers love. Our own Drew was a happy contributor.

  • HAS Orlando Hudson lost his job? Ronnie Belliard brings the noise, brings the funk.

  • CAN Tim Wakefield win his first game since July? I will continue to ask this question until he gets the job done, but it shan't be hard against the Royals.

  • WHEN will the Cardinals clinch? Beat the Astros tonight and their magic number drops to at least three.

  • WHO will take home the title of Champion in the Walkoff Walk Inaugural Fantasy Baseball League? Jerkwheat's team "The Big Tilde" plays my squad "Cantu's Sassy Seniors" this week for the crown.

No podcast tonight, so your assignment is to head over to the Rogue's Baseball Index and fill it up with all your Walkoff Walk favorites. Tetra tot, human condition, what have you. Be back here tomorrow, same WoW channel.

fish_011.gif

As per Joe Hamrahi of Baseball Daily Digest on the Twittersphere:

The Houston Astros have fired Cecil Cooper. 3B coach Dave Clark will take over as manager on an interim basis through the rest of 09.

Coop lasted much longer than we expected this season, despite his heady predictions and the wishful thinking of beat writers.

Sheesh, it's been a rough weekend for Cooper. First, Prince Fielder breaks his Milwaukee Brewers single season RBI record and then he gets fired. So Cooper is jobless and yet Ed Wade continues to wield his parachute of doom. Seems unfair to me.

The good people at Consumerist love three things: protecting the interests of the American consumer, baseball, and nitrate-filled meaty concessions wrapped in doughy buns. But when writer Alex Chasick drove up to Camden Yards on Sunday for the Orioles-Red Sox tilt, he was sold a less-than-stellar hot dog and decided to complain. First, the sad excuse for a wiener:

sadhotdog.jpg

That is HORRENDOUS. So Alex did what any smart consumer would do and complained via text message:

Fortunately, a sign near our seats informed us that if we needed assistance, we could text "Orioles Issue Location" to a number and someone from the Orioles would respond. So we did.

The message they sent read, "Orioles really bad hot dog can I get a new one in sec 77 row G". The only response they got was a canned message eight minutes later saying their complaint was received, so they texted back, "Orioles no one ever brought me a replacement hot dog in sec 77."

Hm, I don't get it. Instead of returning to the concession stand and complaining about the withered wiener, the guy fires off a text message into the ether and expects a quick response. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I frequently am) but don't pro sports teams have those nifty text message thingies to report security problems, and not for shriveled sausages?

Technology is great; the next time I'm in Camden Yards for a Yankees-Orioles tilt, I'll have a grand old time getting my fellow Yankee fans ejected from the park for the crime of general jamookery. But if someone sells me a faulty frankfurter, I'm not going to sit around and wait for a replacement, I'll just throw the bad one at Melvin Mora.

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. To say that Mariano Rivera's had a successful career would be, for the first time in Yankee history, an understatement. The long time closer was victimized by a walkoff homer on Friday night for only the 5th time in his career! The list of players to take him deep is hardly illustrious (it features two current Blue Jays!) but a sure-fire Hall of Famer added his name to the tally in Seattle.

The internet's favorite mancrush Ichiro hit the first pitch he saw from the great accumulator of saves deep into the right field bleachers. Did the great Mo Rivera leave a fat cutter up and over the plate? Never! Ichiro did what Ichiro does, he beat a good pitcher by hitting a pitcher's pitch.

Let's use our faithful strikezone plot to examine all the pitches thrown by Mariano Rivera in the fateful ninth inning. The first two batters struck out before Mike Sweeny doubled and our hero jacked the first pitch he saw. Please to enjoy, click to enlarge:

luckybestwash.JPG

Yup, that is a Rivera special cutter 6 inches off the inside of the plate. Ichiro, who some believe "cheats" by hedging out of the box towards first base, found it right inside his wacky wheelhouse. It wasn't a "bad pitch" in as much as it was identical to every other pitch Rivera has thrown in his big league career: it was a cutter between 92 and 93 miles per hour with about 4 inches of break. Ho hum. Mariano Rivera's average break chart looks like a game of pin the tail on the donkey played unblindfolded by Ms. Rutledge's enriched geometery class. Boring.

This outing showcases Rivera's rare ability to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. Ichiro hit a pitch that most people can't, which is what makes Rivera successful and Ichiro a damn legend. Those in the know insist the Japanese dynamo has the power to knock 20 home runs a season were he so inclined. I think Mariano Rivera would tend to agree, especially on fastballs everyone in the stadium knows are coming.

Pitch F/X data via the good people at Brooks Baseball.

joanmiro.JPG

Let's play a little guessing game. Who spoke the following statement in an interview with the New York Times and what was he/she talking about?

I went to Barcelona to see the Miró Foundation and I thought his palette would be the most appropriate, which would be a great homage to Spain. There's nothing wrong with retro, but it's time to move ahead into the 21st century. I could have chosen an Art Deco design, but that's looking back. There will be paintings, sculptures and colored lights.

No, it's not accomplished artist Omar Vizquel talking about his modernist influences. And no, it's not Chipper Jones talking about how he decorated his new hunting lodge. That's Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria discussing the new Marlins stadium being constructed in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. Yes, the new home to the Florida Marlins is going to be a surrealistic jumble of shapes, colors, and Ross Gload.

Loria later added:

We'll pay homage to the Orange Bowl. We're sensitive to the history of the site, the Dolphins, Miami. We see ourselves as the Americas Team.

That's a bizarre statement. How does paying homage to the Orange Bowl jive with Joan Miró's surrealistic Catalan murals and paintings? And what does it mean to be "the Americas Team"? Is he just spouting buzzwords to make himself sound smarter?

Because when I think of baseball stadia being funded by taxpayers dollars that will feature (a) pools and a beach area (b) an homage to the old Orange Bowl and (c) Dan Uggla, I immediately think of Joan Miró. Now that I think of it, Billy the Anthropomorphic Marlin is actually totally Dadaesque.

But in reality, this is just another opportunity for Loria to flaunt his feathers for his latest pet project. No, it's not going to be public art no matter how much of the public's money you use to fund it. No, the new park is not going to create jobs and serve the community no matter how many outdoor sculptures you put in center field. Jeffrey Loria may be trying to emulate Lorenzo de Medici and create a South Florida renaissance, but in reality, he's more like a scheming, conniving Cardinal Richelieu, albeit a Cardinal Richelieu who killed off the Expos.

(via Rob Neyer's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Spot)

sad giants bear.jpg

One of the San Francisco Giants most prized prospects has been arrested in the Dominican Republic for the murder of a man in a bar, which is a less serious offense than murder of a man in a church or a ice cream parlor. Angel Villalona, 19, turned himself in Sunday and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of killing the 25-year-old victim. Villalona was signed out of the Dominican at age 16 with a team record $2.1 million signing bonus, or twice the amount the Giants would have needed to sign Barry Bonds this year and contend for the NL West title.

Hey, look on the bright side, Giants fans. With a few years of good behavior, the first baseman Villalona should be out of prison and completely out of shape in time for his age 36 season at which point he'll still be a better option everyday than Travis Ishikawa.

Besides, the Giants are pretty used to having accused murderers in their infield:

(Juan) Uribe and a bodyguard are suspected of shooting and wounding a Dominican farmer and a captain in the Italian Navy with a pistol and a shotgun when the pair walked too close to Uribe's jeep around midnight Friday, authorities said.

That's from 2006, and Uribe was eventually cleared of those charges. But really, the lesson learned from that incident was "STAY AWAY FROM JUAN URIBE'S JEEP". The lesson learned from this incident? Stay away from San Francisco infielders, even though the only active murderer in the Giants infield is Edgar Renteria, who absolutely kills rallies on a nightly basis with his 67 OPS+.

Jim Hendry Sunk Milton Bradley's Battleship

|
duncecap.jpg

Despite five months full of disappointing offensive production from his brand new free agent outfielder, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry waited until the second-to-last weekend of the year to cut bait on Milton Bradley. The stormy slugger has been suspended for the rest of the regular season.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the interview Bradley gave to the Daily Herald in which his only crime was to say exactly what every Chicago fan has been thinking their entire lives:

"It's just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everything is just bashing you. You got out there and you play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It's just negativity.

"And you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here, because it's negative. It's what it is."

Asked whether he was talking about the fans, the media or even the Cubs organization, he replied: "It's everything. It's everybody."

Burn! So to Milton, the reason his slugging percentage was a miasmic .397 this season, over a 150 point drop from 2008 to 2009, was the poor working environment? Sorry, fella, but there's only so far you can disperse the blame in a situation like this. I don't doubt that the Cubs organization, lacking a vocal figurehead in ownership, operate like a rudderless ship, dispensing contracts and statements and punishments with little to no thought. But that's no excuse for not hitting tater tots.

Sluggers have been playing in poor environments for years and still bashing homers despite organizational discord, dysfunctional clubhouses, and even massive regional racism. Just ask Reggie Jackson. But the faceless corporation that is the Chicago Cubs cannot absorb an emo player like Bradley and keep him happy, productive, and out of the media spotlight. SOMEONE has to take responsibility for the signing.

Therefore, Jim Hendry deserves the biggest slice of the blame pie in this situation. Despite all evidence that pointed to a player with a history of physical and mental distress, Hendry signed Bradley to a 3-year $30 million albatross of a contract to play in one of the two most intense media markets in front of the single most desperate and insane fanbases. Three years and thirty million to play in San Fran would have been smart. Three years and thirty million to play in Florida would have been solid. But three years and thirty million to work in a town with more than enough beat writers to create news from crazy comments? Bad move. Even when Milton gets misquoted.

Just Matty Being Manny

| | Comments (7)

hollidaycanbrodia.jpg Last year we all marveled and raved over the incredible impact Manny Ramirez made on the Dodgers, and with good reason. The Modern Savant tore the National League up from the time he arrived until the time his Dodgers were ousted at the hands of the Matt Stairs and the Phillies. With much less fan fare, Matt Holliday has come to St Louis and put up very comparable numbers. To wit:

Matt Holliday - 50 games: 216 PA , 68 Hits, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 49 RBI, .354/.407/.651 &mdash 1.058 OPS

Manny Ramirez - 53 games: 229 PA, 74 Hits, 14 2B, 0 3B, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .396/.489/.743 &mdash 1.232

Holliday is putting up incredible numbers even after a brief cooling period over the last couple weeks. That Manny was able to sustain his incredible 1.200 OPS pace is testament to the incredible strength of his stretch run.

In the aftermath of Holliday's dramatic (as dramatic as any game versus the 2009 Cubs can be) walkoff homer in last night's game, I started to wonder if Holliday might get any MVP consideration. His numbers aren't as good as Manny's but still very, very strong. After all, Manny Ramirez finished fouth in NL MVP voting last year. Will Holliday get anywhere near that consideration? No. No he will not.

Despite the copious information available to us, I don't think there is a stat to quantify Manny's value to the Dodgers last year. He bolstered a team desperate for offense (this was pre-Matt Kemp breakout) and served as the talisman for an &mdash at times &mdash lethargic fanbase. Matt Holliday is an excellent baseball player who provides an invaluable service: Pujolsproofing.

That Albert Pujols is the runaway favorite for NL MVP will (and should) invalidate any case for Matt Holliday to pick up a few pity votes here and there. That doesn't mean he won't, but when a player's real value is serving as an offensive enabler for tot junkie Pujols, you can't consider him the most valuable player on his own team. Invaluable yes. Most valuable no.

Just yesterday, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote an excellent piece on the folly of labeling Matt Holliday a creation of Coors Field. That he put up strong numbers an American League pitcher's park and superlative numbers in National League pitcher's park. Holliday is going to make some fanbase very happy this offseason as well as being the early favorite for Scott Boras's Most Valuable Contributor to his new Gulfstream fund.

AP photo courtesy of Daylife

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (12)
morneauballface.jpg

Hey kids, girls made of glass are broken so fast and no one cares

  • ISN'T Justin Morneau always taking it off the cheek or is it just me?

  • DO you have a free afternoon tomorrow and are you within an hour's drive of Citi Field? I have a spare ticket for the Mets-Nats game and would love to share it with you. I get to hold the popcorn box.

  • IS it just me or do you get the feeling that Minnesota fans are more excited about the Twins-Tigers weekend series than Detroit fans? Just askin'.

  • DON'T you feel bad for the Braves? They have the third best record in the NL since the All Star break but the two better teams are the ones they're chasing, the Rockies and tonight's Hotlanta opponent, the Phillies. Oh, play something hilarious for Brad Lidge, Mr. Kaminski!

  • CAN the Dodgers move to 30 games above .500 for the first time since 1985, or since Tommy Lasorda was just a lecherous old man and not a creepy octogenarian pervert who haunts my nightmares and has one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel?

Unless you have your head up Brian Roberts' ass, you are well aware that the regular season is winding down. Savor it. Within two weeks, there will only be eight teams playing ball. Heed my words, Padres fans. You may think the games are not worth watching, but you'll miss them come November.

Tomorrow night: Angels/Rangers on MLB Network. Sunday afternoon: Angels/Rangers on TBS. Sunday night: Cubs/Cardinals on ESPN. Have a little faith in baseball. Back Monday, same WoW channel.



Part of the Miller Lite All Star series of commercials from the late 1970s and early 1980s, this 60 second spot packs enough hilarity into a quick commercial to make me double over in laughter. Ha, it's a celebrity softball game between "Less Filling" and "Tastes Great". So clever.

Rodney Dangerfield's relief appearance for the "Less Filling" team foretells Eric Gagne's stint as a Red Sox. But really, it's pretty obvious the "Less Filling" team was juicing anyway. I won't spoil the surprise ending except to say that it doesn't involve Billy Martin behind the wheel of a truck on Christmas Day.

(as featured on The Sporting Blog way back when in July by Dan Steinberg)

legostretcher.jpg

With the expanded rosters, there's very little need for teams to use the disabled list anymore. Everyone's carrying like 5 catchers and 83 relievers, so they've got depth coming out of their ears. But that's not stopping our favorite stars from getting hurt and being out for the remaining couple weeks of the season! No sir, creampuffery never rests, and we'll never stop having fun at their expense.

Besides, we have to keep you informed since it's fantasy baseball playoff season! In the Walkoff Walk league, the semifinal matchups feature commenters Jerkwheat and Chief Wahoo going head-to-head, while my own team faces The Colonel's tough squadron. Time for me to finally bench Milton Bradley!

Onto the VERITABLE M*A*S*H UNIT:

  • Gavin Floyd: The White Sox starter left Wednesday's game early with a hip ouchie and will probably be shelved for the rest of 2009. It's not like the White Sox have a ghost of a chance, right Ozzie?

  • Roy Oswalt: It's operation shutdown, Roy my boy. Fella has had back pain since August and won't toe the rubber anymore this year. Unless you're talking about the ribbed rubber mat in his shower at home. Roy's number one concern is shower safety. His number two concern is striking out Derrek Lee (15 times!)

  • Lance Berkman: It's a tough year to be an Astros fan! Or an Astros player's back! Fat Elvis hurt his back lifting weights and missed a couple games this week. Get a spotter, buddy. It's not like Ed Wade is doing anything useful in the G.M.'s office, he can help.

  • Jarrod Washburn: The Tigers starter hurt his knee giving up a million home runs this week and will probably miss his weekend start. To add insult to injury for Deeeetroit fans, the Tigers organization was fully aware of his swollen, painful knee when they acquired him from Seattle in July. Ouch.

  • Andy Pettitte: Sometimes, Obama's plan for preventative care is best. The veteran lefty missed a start this week to rest an achy shoulder.

  • Mike Hampton: This porcelain doll is shattered. Some folks feel bad for him. I can't disagree. He's going to miss all of next season after rotator cuff surgery. What could have been! He's such a schlimazel. Oy.

  • Billy Wagner: Raped by a wallaby with an egg-shaped penis.

  • Alfonso Soriano: Fella went under the knife for the first time ever to fix his ouchie knee, but was relieved to be anesthetized. Fonzie said he liked hallucinating unicorns and rainbows while the doctors scraped the bloody mess inside his kneespot.

  • Justin Morneau: Broke his back carrying his ill-begotten 2006 AL MVP award.

  • Chipper Jones: Ol' Chip hurt his groin swinging a bat which only lends more credence to the prediction that he'll retire after next year. He missed last night's game which, coincidentally, the Braves won. Maybe Ken Rosensquirrel was right!
peterabrahamhypnotizinggaze.jpg

Original Yankees beat blogger and devoted Bruce Springsteen fan Peter Abraham is leaving the New York scene at the Journal News and heading up north to cover the...Red Sox? With the Boston Globe? Sounds like a heel turn to me!

We've had our fun before at Peter's expense (and since he can't take a joke, we heard directly from him) but proper respect must be paid to the man who was the first Yankees beat writer to dip his toe into the baseballblogosphere, way back in the prehistoric times of 2006. His style of writing was honest and direct and simple. There was never any flowery prose and he rarely injected his own opinion. Why would he? He was never a Yankees fan and he pretty much hates Alex Rodriguez.

Abraham's success can be directly linked to three things: being first, having access, and being blunt. Anyone could have sunk his or her teeth into the enormous pie full of Yankees fans hungry for access, but Pete was number one. Want to know what's going down in the Yankees clubhouse? Don't wait for tomorrow's newspaper or even for a snarky post-game blog update from NY Times scribe Tyler Kepner. Abraham would update his blog after every Derek Jeter cliché response and every Joe Girardi fart. There were Yankee blogs before Peter Abraham but none of them had that direct access to the comings and goings of the team.

Where will the Yankee fans out there still hungry for their bloggy coverage turn? Which name will ascend to the top of the Yankee beat blog heap?

  • Tyler Kepner, New York Times: The cleverly-named Bats blog is thoughtful and insightful, but it still follows the New York Times style of blogging. It's not immediate and it's not quick. Plus, you have to sift through all the Mets news.

  • Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News: Blogging the Bombers also features Anthony McCarron; the coverage is impeccable and the writing is intelligent. But it's another blog that doesn't post the lineups and doesn't get updated during the game. I crave immediacy!

  • Joel Sherman, New York Post: Yankees Blog reads like the Post itself and is written for people like your dad. It's basically the equivalent of reading a tabloid paper on your laptop except you can't wrap your halibut in it later.

  • Erik Boland, Newsday: The underdog emerges as the favorite! Despite it's cringe-inducing name, E-Boland and the Bombers keeps the Yankee fan informed with lineups, breaking news, and Cover it Live gameglogs. It's what a blog should be.

Outside of the newspaper's sphere, there's always Alex Belth's thoughtful Bronx Banter Blog on SNY, Ben Kabak's River Ave Blues on the YES Network, and the independent Sliding Into Home and Was Watching. And if the Journal News is smart, they'll hire an experienced and passionate blogger to fill Peter Abraham's shoes and keep their Yankees coverage afloat, i.e. me.

So Abraham heads to the Boston Globe (which sounds like a great place to work) to join such illustrious names as Nick Cafardo, Amalie Benjamin, Adam Kilgore and Tony Massarotti. More importantly, our own Kris Liakos will have a new buddy when he heads to the park representing ESPN the Magazine! Kris, give my love to Pete.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (20)
charliedaynightmancometh.jpg

Hey kids, you gotta pay the troll toll to get into this boy's hole

Sad news today as Zack Greinke had to leave the Royals/Tigers game early because he got walloped on his arm by a comebacker. But! Good news that the Royals are cruising towards victory and ensuring that the Twins/Tigers series this weekend has some juice. Rest up tonight because tomorrow brings Friday Favorites.

(photo from The Nightman Cometh via Flickr user gluetree)

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

  • Joe Posnanski fisks a Ken Rosenthal piece on MVPs by pointing out the difference between objectivity and subjectivity, and does a far more intelligent, thoughtful, and funny job that a bunch of sitcom writers could ever do. JoeBlog.

  • Sky Andrecheck decides that baseball needs a better system of tiebreakers to decide playoff spots. As long as home-field advantage exists, there can never be a completely fair way to figure these things out, but at least it's not the ridiculously stupid college football overtime method of tiebreaking. Baseball Analysts.

  • Baseball Prospectus Radio gets the interview of the century. Instead of having one of their own eggheads conduct it, they just get Rays players Gabe Kapler and Fernando Perez to interview one another. This is a must-listen, so download it to your Diamond Rio if you don't have the time right now. Baseball Prospectus Radio.

  • Kurt penned the ultimate history of Corey Patterson, also known as the Patron Saint of Walkoff Walk. Back in 1998, the Cubs passed on drafting CC Sabathia, J.D. Drew, Brad Lidge, and Carlos Pena to take Patterson. I suppose it was only fitting that a player the Cubs expected to become "the next Willie Mays" could only end up being a running joke on a childish weblog. GoatRiders of the Apocalypse.

  • Going off an analogy that compares Afghanistan to an ESPN Zone, Eric examines the Americanization of the Afghans and ponders a future where baseball gets a foothold in the mysterious country. Hey, if lamb qorma can catch on in the U.S., then baseball can take off in Afghanistan. Pitchers & Poets.

  • Padres reliever Heath Bell got in shape and lost 25 pounds in the offseason by playing his 11-year-old daughter's Wii Fit. In related news, Rich "El Guapo" Garces gained 25 pounds over the winter on his empanada-only diet. Wall Street Journal.

  • Wrigley Drunk reverts to its original form but not before it takes the time to review Kevin Kaduk's book Wrigleyworld. Miller Park Drunk.

  • John Klima, author of a new book about Willie Mays and the Negro Leagues, describes how (and why) the Yankees passed on the Say Hey Kid. New York Times.

  • Christoph Niemann visualizes insomnia through some clever and funny illustrations. Abstract City.
hoegaarden.jpg

Only two games today? For shame! It's a perfectly miserable day outside on the East Coast!

  • Royals at Tigers, 1:05PM: The Twins are going to need a miracle if they're going to catch the Tigers in the AL Central race. Lucky for them, Zack Greinke poops miracles! The Kansas City ace will try to help his team win the rubber match this afternoon in a game that will be aired nationally by the MLB Network. Detroit counters with a struggling Edwin Jackson and some good feelings left over from last night.

  • Brewers at Cubs, 2:20PM: The Brewers may be playing out the season for the sake of selling some more Ryan Braun jerseys and bratwurst sandwiches, but that's not stopping rookie sensation Alcides Escobar from making his mark at short. Fella went 4 for 5 with three RBI in Milwaukee's win last night and is batting a tidy .312 in 25 games since being called up in August. A devastated J.J. Hardy (.225 batting average in '09) was last seen chugging from the octabong in the tailgates at Miller Park.
burrellcrawford.jpg

Prior to Wednesday night's Rays 4-2 loss against the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay lifer Carl Crawford angrily confronted designated hitter Pat Burrell, who is in his first disappointing season with the Rays, in the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards. Carl must have been channeling years of bad feelings and antagonism from Phillies fans when he went off on the veteran hitter who forgot how to hit.

Here's what went down:

A teammate then stepped in front of Crawford, trying to calm the situation. Crawford was ushered into a side room.

Manager Joe Maddon said he met with both players after confrontation and cleared the air.

"Everything's good," Maddon said.

Oh, okay, everything's good says noted "players' manager" Joe Maddon. But if the angry words must be kept secret from us, it must have been some pretty awful words shouted to an otherwise smug and quiet Burrell. But what exactly did Crawford say?

My My Mike Scioscia Face My Mike Scioscia Face

| | Comments (3)

Hey now. Anyone see the fantastic back and forth contest in Boston last eve? Neither side could hold a lead and the tit (snicker) for tat was as exciting a game as I've seen this season.

The Sox engineered a come back in the bottom of the 9th. Exciting for this here fan... even though it NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

Brian Fuentes caught the terribly overmatched (by a 91 MPH fastball) Nick Green looking at a 3rd strike dead over the middle for the last strike... and the ump called it a ball.

Look at Mike Scioscia's face!

sciosciaface1.jpg

Look at the Amica pitch zone! That giant white dot over the heart of the plate is the last pitch!

amicastrikezone.jpg

Look at Mike Scioscia making the same face 10 seconds later!

sciosciaface2.jpg

They wuz robbed. But I'll take it.



Two weeks after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell decided to make a brave step onto the field at Comerica Park and give his farewell address to the thousands of Tigers fans in attendance and the millions of fans at home. If you were watching the MLB Network at 8PM last night, you were lucky enough to witness Ernie's speech in full.

Always a class act, Harwell thanked the Tigers organization, thanked the Tigers fans, and thanked the entire state of Michigan, perhaps the first time someone's said something nice about Michigan since the French started trading fur with the Chippewa on the Detroit River.

The fans at Comerica welcomed Harwell for his farewell speech by interrupting him several times to clap and shout "Woo". Even Lou Gehrig's farewell speech was interrupted by "Woo". What instinct among human beings causes us to shout "Woo" anytime a public figure pauses during their oration? Can't we just let a man speechify without interruption?

There are about 20 different videos of the speech on YouTube and, believe it or not, that's the best quality version. Yes, even with the jackass wearing the Dontrelle Willis jersey leaning into the shot. If you would rather enjoy a crisp, clear, non-embeddable video, head on over to MLB.com. Maybe someday the ad wizards at MLBAM will learn how social media works and allow us to embed videos of legends giving their farewell speeches to stadiums full of teary-eyed Midwesterners!

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (16)

jarrypark.jpg

Hey kids, use it or lose it

  • WILL the sparks and fists fly again tonight in the Bronx? Neither Brian Tallet nor Chad Gaudin have much to lose. Except all the awful facial hair.

  • SHOULD we reconsider the Giants as wild card favorites if win again tonight to complete the sweep? They'll only be 1.5 games back, so I'm a little early in my favoritism. Matt Cain goes for the Gigantes, Bret Michaels for the Rocks.

  • IS it okay to not be made of Cuban linx and still appreciate Raekwon's long-awaited follow up? I'm white, Canadian, and born in the 70s. I'm his key demographic.

  • DO you miss the good people of Fire Joe Morgan? They took over Deadspin today and gave that old shop a much-needed injection of life. And "sports discussion", so long as no Red Sox were needled in the process. Note to self: buy stock in Fremulon Insurance.

  • WHATEVER it is you do that allows you to read baseball and human condition blogs while making food metaphors all day, it is certainly not a job your grandfather could have applied for.

  • DOES the release of Bartolo Colon portend doom for Livan Hernandez? The other, big, fat, ageless guy starts tonight for the Nats against the Mighty Phils. Brave Prediction: Jimmy Rollins hits 12 home runs to become the Phifth Phillie with thirty Big Phlys. Records were made to be broken.

That'll do it kids. Thanks for swinging by the glog were the talk of Pavement surpassed the belittling of even Rick Ankiel. Remember folks: defense really, really matters. Doubly so if you prefix it with a #numbersign.



Join the gang at 2PM for an impromptu liveglog of a semi-meaningful mid-September afternoon National League interdivisional game! Woo!

liveglog.jpg
  • Indians at Twins, 1:10PM: Time was, a Nick Blackburn afternoon start would be prime fodder for this here website to break out the Nickgasm tag. But with a 1-7 record and a 7.36 ERA in his last eleven starts, it seems that our man Nick is all out of gasm. Cleveland counters with Aaron Laffey.

  • Marlins at Cardinals, 2:15PM: Josh Johnson and Joel Pineiro go head-to-head in a battle of second tier Cy Young candidates. Neither pitcher has been victimized much by tater tots in 2009, which pretty much ensures that St. Louis and Florida will combine for 12 home runs today. Whaddya say to a liveglog, fellas and dollfaces?

  • Pirates at Dodgers, 3:10PM: The Dodgers need starting pitchers, y'all. When Hiroki Kuroda got bonked in the head with a line drive last month and went down with a concussion, it was a real downer for the already weakened rotation. No matter, Kuroda's back! And better than ever! He's back! Last week, Kuroda went 8 strong and beat the Giants; he'll look to take advantage of another light-hitting lineup today against Kevin Hart and the Pirates.

  • Diamondbacks at Padres, 3:35PM: Mark Reynolds' 42nd tater tot on the year came off struggling Padres closer Heath Bell in the ninth inning of last night's 4-2 D'Backs win. Arizona looks for the sweep today which would put the two teams into a tie for last place in the NL West, aka the shitbird seat. Don't sleep on Padres starter Edward Mujica (3.33 ERA) making his second start this season after spending most of it in the pen.

Jason Bay: The Walkoff Walk Interview

| | Comments (2)
jbaysong.jpg

I had the chance to speak with Jason Bay in the Red Sox clubhouse last night while reporting on something else, and after getting the quotes I needed I just had to ask him about the world famous Jason Bay Song (unfortunately no longer viewable) that we posted here last year. Talking to reporters that cover the Sox on a daily basis you often hear what a great interview Bay is. He'll engage with a reporter and give you more than boilerplate and cliche. Even so, I expected him to say that he hadn't heard the song and for that to be the end of it. But it wasn't! So of course, I sat down for more questions

Yes, I interviewed one of the best hitters in the league and all I asked him about was this stupid video. Please to enjoy!

-----------------------------------

Kris Liakos: So I run a website called Walkoff Walk and last year we ran a video in which a young female fan had written and recorded a tribute to you set to the melody of "Yesterday." It's a total earworm and I hear it in my head every time an announcer says your name.

Jason Bay: Oh wow. I actually saw that.

KL: No way! That's when you were with the Pirates. It was a slow news day so I was just kicking around YouTube looking for baseball stuff and I found that and put it up on Walkoff Walk.

JB: Yeah, that's the site my wife found it on. She showed it to me. It was really... something.

KL: I know! She had another one about Brian Roberts and I saw that she got on TV with him and he was telling her how much he liked it. No one ever contacted you to do that?

JB: Nope. I was reading the comments on YouTube under the video and you could tell she was really really serious about it, though.

KL: Yeah, man. We tried to get her to write us a song about Corey Patterson because we're always talking about how we don't think he should be a leadoff hitter. She said she wasn't sure if she could do it or not but thanked us for listening.

JB: You can't just pull that stuff out of the air. She needed to be inspired. That stuff comes from inspiration.

KL: So true.

zitoblow.jpg

Barry Zito brought his curveball and his powersnot to the park last night and helped the Giants move within 2.5 games of the Wild Card leading Rockies. Zito went seven strong innings and mowed down nine Rockies hitters via strikeout, his season high.

The San Fran offense scored early and often, putting up a three-spot and four-spot in the first and third innings, eventually chasing Rockies starter Ubaldo Jiménez from the game. The 26 runs that the Giants have scored in their past 3 games is exactly how many runs they scored in their previous nine.

To add to the bouquet of good news, the Giants clinched the season series against Colorado, 10-7, so if the teams tie at the end of the year, the one-game playoff will be at AT&T Park. And Randy Johnson is coming back from injury to shore up the San Fran pitching staff. His fresh, young 57-year-old arm is quite a boon!

Still, all of this will be for naught unless the Giants can complete the sweep tonight (10:15PM EDT, ESPN) behind Matt Cain. A sweep moves them to 1.5 games back, while a loss and a 3.5 game deficit seems insurmountable.

(screencap by Walkoff Walk reader extraordinaire Phillas)

jessecarlsonforeheadnugget.jpg

Jesse Carlson did what any good relief pitcher should do to protect his teammates. After fellow Blue Jay Aaron Hill got plunked in the back, Carlson threw a fastball so far behind Jorge Posada that the dude in the on-deck circle had to duck. After Posada walked and scored on a Brett Gardner double, the Yankee catcher nudged Carlson who was backing up for a throw to home, and one of the biggest brawls in recent memory exploded. To wit:


Aren't you glad I embedded the TSN clip instead of the YES Network? I spared you the inane blatherings of Michael Kay.

In the end, Carlson was the lucky recipient of a big fat welt on his forehead and Yankees manager Joe Girardi got a black eye seemingly from Blue Jay infielder John McDonald. Jesse, a little friendly advice: you're supposed to cover the face in a fight, no matter how horrifically ugly you are.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (13)
gigantesmural.jpg

Hey kids, fight tooth and nail but watch the hair

FIN.

(Mission District Gigantes mural photo courtesy of Flickr user wallyg)

beerthrower.jpg

Some mysterious Cubs fan named Chad, who can drink two Old Styles at once, bought the Brewers blog Miller Park Drunk and has changed it to a more Chicago-friendly blog called Wrigley North Drunk. The price? Fifty bucks, a 12 pack of Milwaukee's Best and the issue of Playboy with Sable from WWF. Sounds reasonable.

kenrosensquirrel.jpg

The 2009 Atlanta Braves will always be remembered as a team that was built on a strong foundation of starting pitching and destroyed with a bulldozer driven by manager Bobby Cox. At least that's what FOX sideline princess Ken Rosenthal would have you think. See, the Braves offense was about as productive as a neutered four-point buck this season and Rosensquirrel fingers Bobby as the culprit in a column entitled, "You can blame Cox for Atlanta's shortcomings".

Yes, Ken Rosenthal used the word "shortcomings":

Perhaps the better question is: Did Cox push too hard with his team's two best sluggers, catcher Brian McCann and third baseman Chipper Jones?

The evidence suggests yes.

The Braves' chances of reaching the postseason all but ended when they went 1-6 between Sept. 2 and 9. McCann was 1-for-25 during that stretch, Jones 2-for-20 with two walks.

It's not as if Cox lacked quality alternatives for both players -- he had Omar Infante and Martin Prado for Jones, David Ross for Martin. It's just that, like most managers, he sticks with the players he trusts most -- and the relievers he trusts most, too.

If I was a baseball manager and my general manager had given me two productive bats and a collection of has-beens and never-will-bes to work with, I'm not sure I'd have the spine to bench my two best players no matter how badly they were slumping.

Sure, Bobby Cox is the captain of the U.S.S Animatronic Cow and like all good captains should go down with his ship. But it's not fair for Rosenthal to call him out for not handling his offense well; Cox had barely a shred of offense to work with!

Also, notice that Rosenthal suggests playing David Ross instead of "Martin" and not "McCann". Martin is the stud catcher in Los Angeles. Chalk that one up to a mental error. Still, play Ken Rosenthal off, Matthew Kaminski.

Kris, Drew, and I had ourselves a good old-fashioned Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show last night. It was good enough that I am ordering you to skip your normal trip to Arby's and asking you to have Suzie from the secretary pool order you a ham-and-swiss on rye. You'll be spending your lunch break at your desk listening to our podcast.

We chit-chatted about Ichiro and Wild Card races and even made baseless steroid accusations against Manny Ramirez and Carol Channing. Here, I'll even embed the listening device so you don't even have to click through to another page:


For once, the intro music was played to completion and yet my Warren Zevon selection of the week was faulty. You'll have to go out and find your own copy of Zevon covering "That's Amore".

asianbackpainlady.jpg

R.I.P. 2009 Minnesota Twins. They had many, many chances to snag the American League Central crown from the middling Detroit Tigers but could never really master the .500 mark with much aplomb. Despite employing the frontrunner in the AL MVP race in Joe Mauer, the Twins could not endure a miserable run of starting pitching from mid-July to late August that saw their team ERA skyrocket by over half a run. A thirty-game streak with a 6.25 ERA will bury any team.

So as of today, they're not mathematically eliminated from any race, but with the creampuff news from yesterday, they're all but buried. Here's Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal III with the report from the Twin Cities:

First baseman Justin Morneau has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and is done for the rest of the season. He'll need three months to recover

Joe Crede is likely done for the rest of the season. He felt soreness in his back and legs while tyring to DH yesterday and...well, it's just not going to happen for him.

Justin Huber pulled an oblique muscle during batting practice and was scratched from the lineup.

Jeez, it's a veritable M*A*S*H unit up there in Minneapolis! I'd make a "year of the oblique" joke but I'm not really sure who Justin Huber is. For Justin Morneau and Joe Crede, though, I know those guys all too well. So do Twins devotees who watched Morneau hit a miasmic .205 since the All Star Break and Crede lose 100 points off his OPS since early June. Heck, it's a good thing that Mauer has been carrying this team on his back all season long because neither Crede's back nor Morneau's back is strong enough to carry the gang.

Says Morneau of the injury:

"I said, 'Is there anything I can do to make this go quicker?' And [the doctor] said, 'Well, just let Mother Nature take over'. It's just kind of one of those things that you let run its course."

Yes, Justin. Just let Mother Nature take over and hand you over to the grim spectre of death. It's rare for such a young man to accept his imminent demise with such ease. Tell Patrick Swayze we said hello.

toriihunter.jpg

Since 1996, the Angels are 78-63 against the Yankees. The opposite of a small sample size, this stat courtesy of the LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna is a way too large sample size. A stat that has no bearing on the teams currently. Sensing this in his article about a possible psychological advantage LA may hold over the Bombers, he gives us a more useful 32-17 in their last 49.

DiGiovanna posits that after being ousted by LA in 2002 and 2005, they'd rather face almost anyone else in the playoffs. So of course, the Angels players agree with this, right? No? Gasp!

Do the Angels have some kind of mental hold on the Yankees?

"No," third baseman Chone Figgins said. "They've slugged it out and beat us. It's always a battle against them, and we've had our share of success, but I don't think it's because we're in their heads.

"We run the bases aggressively and we put pressure on you, but because it's New York . . . that stuff doesn't show up in Kansas City and Seattle. It shows up more because it's New York, and you're not expected to have a good record against the Yankees."

Said Manager Mike Scioscia: "By no means have we dominated those guys. We've competed well against them, but they're tough."

I totally expected Torii Hunter to say "Of course we own those fools. They're all flakier than an almond croissant and are incapable of beating us." Baseball being a game of matchups™ and all, there is something to be said for a team having sustained success against another team... but not that much when it comes to the playoffs. The playoff format is a mandatory small sample size that throws head to head records out the window. Consider the Yankees starting this season 0-8 versus Boston before almost reversing course to go 7-1 over the next 8. What do those numbers tell you for the playoffs? Nothing.

But still I salute Mike DiGiovanna for trying to coax a possibly inflammatory comment out of Torii Hunter. That is, after all, part of his job. Just hope he wasn't expecting to unearth too much.

Tonight's Podcast Questions

| | Comments (10)

Hey kids, it's a living.


That'll do, little piggies. See you later tonight for the podcast (look! we embedded the player above!), otherwise we'll be back live tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

dykstra.jpg

It's true, Walkoff Walk has earned over $100 in ad sales in the seven months since we added (EDIT: THINGS THAT MAKE US MONEY)! Every click gets us closer to hiring Murray Chass. Not only is that enough to cover seven months of InterWeb hosting, we have enough cash left over to buy some of that frivolous fraudster Lenny Dykstra's many exciting assets. It's true! He's bankrupt, we're not. To wit:

The bankrupt ex-ballplayer is auctioning off memorabilia from across his storied 12-year career - including his diamond and gold 1986 World Series championship ring.

The bidders are unlikely to include the nearly two dozen businesses and individuals who charge the hardnosed player known as Nails bilked them of millions of dollars.

Also up for auction: Dykstra's home run ball from Wrigley Field's first ever night game, his 1986 replica World Series trophy, and a surgically-removed tumor from his jawbone.

But wait, why is Dykstra suddenly bankrupt? Do you mean Lenny Dykstra wasn't really a stock market whiz and that he was basically just running a cheap Ponzi scheme? And now he's been barred from his former multi-million dollar mansion because he was stealing fancy items from within to sell and repay his debts? I knew you were full of crap all along, Dykstra profile writer Ben McGrath. Now I don't feel bad one bit about canceling my New Yorker subscription.

doucheyjohnhenryguitar.jpg

Hey, did you hear that rumbling noise? It's Red Sox owner John Henry crashing his Mercedes through the front window of the blogosphere. The man who stopped Tweeting once his failed jokes proved to be a curse for his team has been hired by NESN to put his thoughts to Windows Notepad. Take it away, dude with a lecherous-looking headshot:

As some of you know, this summer, I began Tweeting after Jack Welch convinced me that it could be entertaining and fun -- for me, not for my readers!

Cripes, flagrant namedropping's a helluva way to start off your new blog, John.

But I quickly found out that having a sense of humor on Twitter produces quite an effect. Perhaps people don't generally expect a baseball owner to have a sense of humor. It's almost certainly of paramount importance to have a sense of humor, though, over the course of the seasons. Tom Werner and I manage to laugh about certain things on a daily basis. When you lose 60 games a year, you need comedy. And Tom's had a magnificent career in comedy.

First off, it is widely accepted that any attempt at sarcasm or humor on Twitter be followed by a separate Tweet consisting solely of the winky-face. You know, this guy:

;)

Oh! Someone must be kidding about something! Hilarious.

Secondly, leave the humor to the unemployed bloggers with miserable lives who spend hours and hours thinking up hilarious rejoinders and bon mots in our garden-level apartments and suburban condos. We have nothing but time to create the funny; you, John Henry, have a massively rich baseball team, a teenage bride, and Maroon 5 records to keep your idle mind busy.

Blog all you want, but we've got a monopoly on funny.

(via the inimitable BBTF Newsblog)

card.jpg

Ichiro Suzuki gets a lot of hits. Ichiro gets so many hits that the eggheads at STATS, Inc. have to invent new records just to categorize all those hits. Ichiro is such a prodigious hitmaker that Berry Gordy wants to sign him to a lifetime deal with Motown Records. In fact, Ichiro gets so many hits that he just set the big league record for most consecutive seasons with 200 hits; he's done the deed every year he's played American ball since he windsurfed across the Pacific in 2001.

But although this feat is unique and remarkable, the tiny Texas tots who came to Arlington Stadium to get Ichiro's autograph this weekend had no clue what record the Mariners leadoff hitter was about to break:

Asked they'd ever heard of Mariners leadoff man Ichiro, they shouted "Yeah!" in unison. They repeated the "Yeah!" when asked whether they think he's a great player and once again when asked if they know he's trying to break a record.

But ask them to identify what that record is, and everyone stops cold.

"Two thousand hits!" one of them finally proclaimed, to a general nodding of heads.

Told that Ichiro had reached that milestone last week, another shouted out "Three thousand!" and then another, "Four thousand!" until one of the adults near the back of the mob actually gets it partly right.

Besides the fact that children are idiots and should never be the measuring stick for the collective knowledge of baseball fans, it's true that America has not been granting Ichiro the Lady Gagaesque level of attention he deserves. Sorry, Geoff Baker, but we've been too busy following Derek Jeter's quest for individual glory to notice anything your Mariners are doing! It's not because Ichiro is Japanese, it's because he plays in Seattle.

After all, the M's haven't smelled the playoffs since Ichiro's first season. Past the fascinating personality and infield singles of your leadoff hitter, we're just not noticing a single thing the Mariners are doing. Heck, 95% of baseball fans wouldn't even know Felix Hernandez (15 wins, 2.52 ERA, 23 years young) if they tripped over him.

Send Ichiro to New York or Los Angeles and he'll get enough headlines to satisfy your bloodthirst for attention. Kids everywhere, not just in the Pacific Northwest, will shower Ichiro with love and buy his jerseys. ESPN will lead off every episode of SportsCenter with Ichiro highlights and TMZ will report every rumour about his love life. Or, even better, send him to Texas so he can teach those ignorant young whipper-snappers some salty language.

Curse Lifted On Matt Stairs

| | Comments (5)

mattstairsslam.jpg When we last left our hero Matt Stairs, he was mired in a slump that was almost two months long. Stairs hadn't had a hit since the Walkoff Walk heist; clearly, this was the work of someone from this very site.

Well, take your Virgin Mary statues out of your windows: Matt Stairs broke his 0-for-30 slump with a grand slam Thursday night against the Nationals, then added a double against the Mets yesterday. He's on a veritable hot streak! Grab room on the Matt Stairs bandwagon before it's too late.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:

"It means I won't get shut out the rest of the year," Stairs joked before Friday's game against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. "I still had confidence. I knew I could still hit. But it definitely takes the monkey off the back a bit."

Stairs tried not to put pressure on himself during the slump, but he couldn't help but think about it.

"You try to say, 'This is the day,'" Stairs said. "But when it's not, you start thinking, 'Maybe I can get hit by a pitch.' A lot of things go through your mind. You start hoping that they start hanging pitches. The only thing is that you start losing your aggressiveness a little bit. You don't want to make an easy out or a bad out, because you've done that so many times in a row.

Well, now Stairs is 2 for his last 4 and is well on the way to winning the MVP. It makes sense Stairs was able to break his streak against the Nationals; they are, after all, Canadian defectors. And did he broke his streak on 9/10. All the pieces fit!1

Anyway, good job to whoever broke the curse.2 I owe you a cookie.

1 I mean, I guess the one minor hole in this theory is Stairs hotbed Fredericton, Canada isn't Montreal. Whatever. If the Phoenix Coyotes move to Hamilton (Ontario, not New Jersey), I will be so pissed in the name of the United States of America, and I'm not even quite sure what sport the Coyotes play.

2 I can only conclude the two recent walkoff walks are part of this good fortune. Keep up the good work!

trannyrays.jpg

'Duk was right. The dog days of September mean it's high time that bored veteran players on teams wayyyyy out of postseason contention start hazing rookies. September call-ups aren't the only ones to be victimized, either, as lithe lefty David Price (third from right) is seen doing his best Serena Williams impression. To review the outfits, from left to right: tranny, tranny, hot mess, fierce, fierce, tranny and Fernando Perez on the end looks like Prince. (whoops that got cut off)

It was 57-year-old veteran catcher Gregg Zaun who took a break from reviewing movies and buying steroids for his friends to dress the dudes up like ladies:

Zaun bought the outfits at a drag shop in Chicago last year when he was with the Jays, but the team opted for a different theme of hazing. Having invested $1,500, Zaun hung on to the stuff, and last week had his wife ship it out so the Rays could be styling.

Yes, it's quite obvious that Zaun 'hung on to the stuff' because of the financial implications and not because he has any bizarre personal fetishes. Nope, not at all.

You can't keep a good shrimp down. After a 2 month lay off, we have our second walkoff walk of the week. The glorious Padres grind out a single, a sacrifice, one intentional and two no-way-did-I-just-issue-free-passes-to-Padres old fashioned walks and keep the wildcard race alive for another day. In a cruel twist of fate, I wasn't awake to post it as it happened. Here's your hangover cure.



The NL West: Where Men are Men and Shrimp is Plentiful!
garfield.jpgWhile some of the Deep South's finest red headed creatures spent their summer cheating death and being great, the Braves Tommy Hanson had to settle for mere greatness. The rookie pitcher started well and only improved as the summer progressed.

How good is Tommy Hanson? Consider he's gone at least 5 innings in every single one of his big league starts, save one, a 2+ hour rain delay prematurely ended his day. August saw Hanson's strikeouts creep up while his walks eased down. Over the past 30 days the big Brave struck out over 10 batters per 9 innings while walking fewer than 2 per 9. Add in plenty of ground balls and you've got yourself a ROY candidate.

Whispers of the Braves being slightly asset rich but cash poor could allow the team to move higher priced talent like Javy Vasquez or decline the option on Tim Hudson thanks to excellent cheap, young, pitching like Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. Perhaps they could acquire a bat to bolster their moribund offense.

Even if Hanson can't wrestle Rookie of the Year honors away from J.A. Happ or some other pitcher with a modicum of run support, Braves fans have to be over the moon with the look of their future ace. Though he may look like Roy Halladay, his batted ball profile is a little more of the traditional four pitcher power guy. Either way, Braves fans are making plans and looking toward a Hanson future.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (8)
tiltshiftfenway.jpg

Hey kids, ideas without action cost a dollar per brainwave.

Busy this weekend? No? Good. Get ready for some nationally televised games with meaning, folks. Tonight at 10PM it's Dodgers-Giants on the MLB Network, then a Dodgers-Giants tomorrow night at 9PM on the MLB Network and once again for the sake of completeness: Dodgers-Giants on Sunday at 4PM on TBS. That's enough baseball with teeth to satisfy your bloodthirst. Football is for fascists.

Drew has some stuff planned for you tomorrow; the rest of us will be back on Monday. Same WoW channel.

(tilt-shift photo of Fenway via Flickr user B-Tal)

Michael Jordan's Minor League Bus - 1995

| | Comments (10)

Not only is today the eighth anniversary of Bob Dylan's "Love & Theft" it's also the day that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of my lifetime, gets inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame here in Massachusetts.

In honor of that honor, today's Classic TV Friday brings us an old ESPN feature about the luxury bus that MJ bought for the team to travel in when he was playing for the Birmingham Barons in 1994. The video is a real hoot and I'm not sure what dates it more: the players swooning over the mini TVs now featured prominently on every Fung Wah Bus, or Barons manager Terry Francona with hair.

Please to enjoy, and congrats Michael.

creampuffshirt.jpgA few weeks have passed since our last look at the Creampuffs. The season winds down and the creampuffery heats up. We can only hope none of these injuries are serious enough to keep our heroes from the hunting, fishing, and college football watching they've planned for to the offseason.

  • Cristian Guzman, Nationals: Guzman missed three games this week with bunions on this foot. Some might consider the Nationals a bunion on the foot of baseball, though they get to wear super fancy shoes to offset their pain. Others would say bunions are painful as hell and The Gooze is a real champ for only ducking out of three contests.

  • Carlos Pena, Rays: Carlos Pena will miss the rest of the season with two broken fingers, one shy of his True Outcomes. Too bad Carlos misses out on the chance to finish the season with more home runs than singles, that is just an awesome enough non-feat to piss off any number of crotchety traditionalists.

  • Matt Holliday, Cardinals: The finest deadline acquisition this year left Wednesday's game with a sore left knee. If you listen carefully in the Midwest, you can hear two sounds: one is the sound of Cardinals fans gathering their breath to boo every time Albert Pujols is walked for the duration of Holliday's downtime. The other is the sound of Mark DeRosa realizing he will be counted on to contribute while being semi-puffed himself.

  • Jarrod Washburn, Tigers: Washburn missed a start last weekend with a persistent case of "Dear God, what have we done? Can we send him back??? Damn you Zduriencikkkkkkkkkkk!" He recovered in time to make a middling start against the Royals last night. Consider it a flare up.

  • Tim Lincecum, Giants: Raped by 1000 wallabies making Dazed & Confused references.

  • Adam Jones, Orioles: Jones will miss the rest of the year with a severe ankle sprain. Adam Jones emerged as the lone bright spot for the OriLOLes this season, making his stupid/accidental injury that much tougher to take for Boog Powell's friends. Compared to our next guy, this is the definition of Creampuffery.

  • Chad Qualls, Snakes: This is nearly two weeks old but yeeszus God is it brutal. Full marks to Qualls for chilling on the ground with his wits about him after dislocating his damn kneecap. I'd have choked to death on my own tears before the trainer's shoe touched grass. Creampuff? Not so much.
batistakennyg.jpg

Last year, we learned that Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista learned how to play the soprano sax and met Kenny G during spring training in Arizona.

"He played for me," Batista said. "It was my favorite song, 'Alone.' Now, I feel like I've had everything. I've talked pitching with Sandy Koufax, had Kenny G play for me. Maybe if I could have an interview with God, then I'd be served. I'd be complete."

Koufax, Kenny G, and God. The triumvirate. Last night, Kenny G played the National Anthem at Safeco Field so the men had their big emotional reunion prior to the game. It is our duty at Walkoff Walk to alert you to every occurrence when these two gents get together. See you in 2010, fellas.

(via Pro Ball NW fka Bleeding Blue and Teal)

oldyaz.jpg

Hey, did you know Carl Yastrzemski did enough steroids in his career to kill an entire herd of cattle? Of course not, because it's not true. Statistical aberrations abound in players from every era, not just Brady Anderson. These statistical aberrations lead some analysts to publish sweeping accusations against myriads of players that may just be tongue-in-cheek lists with ulterior motives.

To wit, Dugout Central's Bill Wellman examines Yaz with the idea that if Player X performed on Level Y for Z years and then went up to Level W for a period of T years, then Q.E.D. he obviously had an I.V. of stanzolol connected directly to his pancreas. A sample:

The history we all learned is that Yaz chose to lift weights during the winter of 1966-67, and that his decision to work out was enough to cause a 175% increase in home runs. That could be true. If Yaz had been using steroids, one might expect swift increases in power hitting from other Red Sox, too, once they saw how well they worked for Yaz. But we did see that: Ken Harrelson came to Boston and went from 12 home runs in 1967 to 35 home runs in 1968, and Rico Petrocelli then went from 12 home runs in 1968 to 40 home runs in 1969. Both Harrelson and Petrocelli then endured swift, somewhat abnormal declines that ended their careers at ages 29 and 33. Yaz endured a similar precipitous drop from 1970 to 1972, a decline blamed upon injury, but a decline that left him somehow at almost exactly his 1961-66 level as a power hitter. He continued his career at, more or less, an arc appropriate to his pre-1967 career for another decade before retiring at age 43.

Did Yaz juice? I don't know. I certainly have no proof. But I'll say this: both his career arc and the career arcs of a couple of his teammates look as if steroids might have been involved, and steroids were certainly available to athletes in the 1960's. Players in the Steroid Age have been accused of juicing on far less circumstantial evidence, and few players from before the Steroid Age ever boosted their power hitting in a single winter the way Yaz did.

I read most of the piece and I cannot tell if it was meant to be a parable about the recent witch hunts for juicers or an outright attack on the character of our favorite past players. I can tell, however, that Yaz probably drank a lot of soda pop and maybe popped some greenies and could have even snorted some Sanka to get going, but if that sort of thing led to a Triple Crown title, it's all worth it.

(via BBTF Newsblog and Can't Stop the Bleeding)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (16)
reallifelobsterbaby.jpg

Hey kids, I've been thinking it's time we brought back the Hey kids bit

  • SHOULD baseball have a salary cap? the debate continues, and I am pleased as punch that WoWies are smart and mature enough to carry on an intelligent discussion in one post, then make dick jokes in another.

  • IS Citi FIeld killing the Mets? Gerry Fraley thinks so, probably because it was built on an ancient Indian parking lot.

  • MIGHT Ken Macha get shitcanned at the end of this season? There are at least three good reasons to do so.

  • DO you like the NL East? You're in luck, all five teams are in action tonight, while very few other teams will join them.

  • ARE you ready for some football? Who are we kidding, there are no important baseball games being played tonight, so please to enjoy the return of fascist NFL to our airwaves. Steelers and Titans on NBC at 8. Bring the popcorn.

Get a good night's rest tonight. The weekend beckons and it portends a good deal of fun matchups, important matchups even. See you tomorrow for the Friday funfest. You too, Drew Fairservice's real life Lobster Baby. Same WoW channel.

moneybaby.jpg

MLB Commish Bud Selig sat down with Ken Rosenthal today to discuss MLB economics, and spoke of the disparity between high spending clubs and low spending clubs. Six of the top nine payrolls in MLB are currently in line to make the postseason. Why is this bad? I'm not quite sure, and neither is Bud.

After all, Selig's former team, the Brewers, did a helluva job in the down economy selling tickets and concessions. Sure, the team faded out of the division race in early August, but Milwaukee ownership saw another big year in attendance. Yes, they are a small market team. Yes, they mysteriously employ Ken Macha to make decisions. But they are financially smart as a company in the business of selling baseball.

Look past the softball questions that Rosenthal lobs and Selig fouls into the bleachers, there's a real gem of a quote in here about revenue sharing and competitive balance:

I know how badly (owners) want to win. I remember how badly I wanted to win (as owner of the Brewers). I went through all those temper tantrums and everything else. But I really think for the most part that in the last decade we've proven that if the sport's best interests transcends your own, we'll all do better. We just have to continue that.

Past the hilarious image of ol' Bud throwing a temper tantrum in his lofty Milwaukee car dealership office, note that he seems to be hinting to the fact that the 30 individual owners and corporations are better off when everyone cooperates to make cash. Not the players. Not the umpires. Not the fans or heck, not even the TV networks. Make no mistake about it: as "Commissioner for Life", Bud's only interest is making himself and his cronies wealthier beyond Marge Schott's wildest Nazi-fueled dreams.

Not that there's anything wrong with a little capitalism. I gladly throw dollars of money and hours of my time at my beloved Yankees and I don't expect anything in return except a World Series title every single year. But I want everyone to share in baseball's wealth. Owners, players, fans, peanut vendors, Joe Maddon's hairstylist, everyone. I don't want owners colluding to stick it to the players and bring in some dumb salary cap that will ruin competitiveness in baseball.

When you hear some of the dopey owners talk about a salary cap, they're not trying to correct the disparity in the standings. They're trying to keep players salaries down. And if you bring in a salary cap to baseball, you'll end up with a salary floor where rebuilding teams are forced to spend money in a stupid manner, and that is bad business for baseball.

So, Bud, when the collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2011 season, I hope by that point you will have reached the point in life when old folks get soft and start giving away their most prized possessions. If we're lucky, you'll make sure that every person employed by MLB makes out like a bandit as much as you have.

runningbaby.jpg
  • Twins at Blue Jays, 12:37PM: If you're a Brett Cecil fan, put your cheering hat on. Today marks Cecil's last start of the season since Toronto has deemed it wise to limit his innings and rest the young fella. But J.P., the Blue Jays tenuous six game lead over last place Baltimore hangs in the balance. Don't you want to put your best foot forward?

  • Tigers at Royals, 2:10PM: Zack Greinke looks to add to his Cy Young resu...wait, Lenny who? Kansas City called up Lenny DiNardo, whose name sounds like he's a driver for the Gotham Bus Company, to give Greinke an extra day of rest. Deeeetroit has lost two in a row to the Royals but still leads the division by 5.5 games, because Minnesota and Chicago gave up a while ago.

  • Reds at Rockies, 3:10PM: We can bemoan the absence of drama in the NL Wild Card race or we can celebrate the re-energized intrigue in the NL West division race. Glass half empty, or glass half full? Either way, the Rockies are hot hot hot and just 2.5 games behind the division-leading Dodgers. After three close wins over Dusty's Reds, the Rockies send Jose Contreras to the mound for the sweep. This game will be aired on the MLB Network because they want you to feel the excitement.
jack white.jpg

Neal Rubin, columnist for the Detroit News, sure knows how to whet our appetites for celebrity gossip. In his op-ed piece today, Neal hips us to a youth baseball field in suburban Detroit that was recently gifted a huge sum of money by a mysterious celebrity! Who could it be now?

You want to tell the story of the ball field, you have to mention the famous guy.

He's the one who wrote the checks, nearly $170,000 worth. But until now he wouldn't even let the Clark Park people mention his name, and he won't talk about what he did, because he doesn't want to be the star this time.

He grew up in southwest Detroit and he played ball at Clark Park. He knows who's been holding things together all these years -- the volunteers like Deb Sumner, and of course, Coach Mo. But the kids who scampered all summer across that sweet red clay infield can thank the boy Coach Mo knew as Jack Gillis, and music fans know as Jack White.

Oh, Jack White! No, not that Jack White or this Jack White, it's the rock 'n' roll Jack White of the new hit group The Dead Weather, formerly of the Raconteurs, formerly of the White Stripes, that rock group with his sister/wife.

At one point, White wanted to host a benefit concert for the field but instead decided to make a then-anonymous donation to the park he used to play on as a kid. This is just like the time Rod Stewart wired 30,000 pounds and ten coked-out supermodels to the Highgate Cricket Club back in '85.

shrimpshirt.jpg

It's a good thing Drew Fairservice is a vampire and stays up late because without his nocturnal ways, we'd have had quite a gap in reporting last night's shrimpworthy walkoff walk by Mark Reynolds. That marks the sixth walkoff walk on the season and the third that involved Joe Torre's Dodgers. Here's your list:

  • James Loney, April 16th: The Dodgers topple the Giants in a West Coast affair that, coincidentally, Drew was liveglogging for The Score.

  • Russell Martin, May 1st: A second straight Dodgers walkoff walk as Martin checks his swing against reliever Duaner Sanchez and the Padres' tumble towards last place begins. The walkoff walk was the game's only run.

  • Shane Victorino, May 2nd: Just 18 hours later, Phillies center fielder Victorino watched Mets pitcher Sean Green's fastball soar by him outside the strike zone with the bases bloated. The Dodgers would have another chance later that night but Andre Ethier singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

  • Carlos Beltran, May 12th: The Mets would get their own walkoff walk ten days later when Beltran did it against the Braves, just three days after Drew wrote a sweet ode to Beltran.

  • Jake Fox, July 3rd: Finally, I got my chance to post the shrimp video because the Cubs did it...and they were playing an afternoon game. The Cubs topped the Brewers after Mike DeFelice intentionally walked Geo Soto to load the bases and issued the walkoff walk to Fox.

  • Mark Reynolds, September 9th: How can we explain a two-month gap between shrimp? Yesterday was 9/9/09 so of course, we'd expect nothing less than a walkoff walk from Mr. Three True Outcomes himself. That's three Dodgers games ending with a running crustacean this year which explains why I'm sleeping during most WoWs.

Of course, for each of these six fantastic events, there have been countless walkoff walks that didn't happen because some schmuck decided it was better to win a game on a sacrifice fly, or a line drive single, or a silly HBP. And don't even remind me of the time Paul Bako robbed an insane group of WoWies of the chance to get the shrimp video on the Jumbotron at Citizens Bank Park. I'm still not over that yet.

Jim Riggleman Thinks Baseball Is For Pampered Fatties

| | Comments (1)
hammockGuy.jpg

Good news, Lunchbox. Do you mind if I call you Lunchbox? Okay, good. You don't have to be a stud to be on a major league club. Namely, the Washington Nationals. As long as you don't whine about things like "fatigue" or "injuries" or "my fat hurts." See, INTERIM manager Jim Riggleman thinks baseball is wicked easy and if guys are tired it's because they're whiners. Anyone can play this game as long as they suck it up like so much fettucine alfredo.

The entirety of his comments is definitely worth reading, but I'll just pull out the highlights. Because we all know if you were willing to put any work into anything you wouldn't look like that. To wit, Slim Whitman:

"I never like to use that word 'fatigued' or 'tired,'' he said. "I think it gets way over used in baseball. We're not running up and down the court, we're not playing football with equipment on in 100 degree temperature. It's a baseball game; it's not a physically taxing sport.

You just go hard and some mental struggles take place because you're having some bad days or whatever; I use those to give a bench player some at bats, not because I think you're physically fatigued. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

My feeling is you ought to be ashamed of yourself if you get physically tired of playing baseball because it shouldn't be that physically taxing. I could point to Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, Jr. and I think they would be on my side in that argument, but I don't expect everybody to be like that. I think guys need off days so that the other players can also stay sharp, so I won't concede to the fatigue factor."

Obviously, I'm poking a little fun but Riggleman's comments sound like they have merit to me. With a starter on the field for a little over half a game and with no contact, baseball is relatively speaking, not very physically taxing. That is not to discount the strain of a 162 game season, but I'm apt to believe Riggleman when he says most of that is mental. No problem if it is... but it probably is.

Now, these also sound like the comments of a guy that will keeping that interim title. Players don't take too kindly to being told they have mental problems, and in an age where dealing with clubhouse personalities has become a manager's primary role, Riggleman isn't likey to have that many suitors. And his 543-682 record won't help either. COME ON DUDE MANAGING ISN'T THAT HARD.

Ball four to Reynolds and the Snakes win! Snake must never kill shrimp!!!!!!! Stretch those pods son, it's been a while.



This makes three Dodger-related shrimps in 2009! Shrimp of ill omen? I think not.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (4)


That's all. If you're participating in the big Walkoff Walk Fantasy Football draft tonight, we'll see you there. If you are just finding out about said beast, I am sorry that we didn't make enough room for everyone. If you don't know me by now, you will never never never know me. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Brewers! Cardinals! No Corey Patterson, but we'll have to go on with our lives somehow, some way. Please to enjoy the Cover It Live glog, starting at 2PM sharp:


liveglog.jpg

Not many of these regular season Wednesdays left, so let's pick one of these four daytime games to liveglog:

  • Rangers at Indians, 12:05PM: Scott Feldman will make you a believer one of these days. Hopefully before he gets shut down for shoulder soreness. Fella with a 15-4 record and a tidy 3.62 ERA looks for his eighth straight road W today against the hapless Tribe. Fausto Carmona will try to avoid his third loss to Texas this year.

  • Cubs at Pirates, 12:35PM: Hey, did you hear? The Pirates are in the midst of their 382nd consecutive losing season! But nobody expected them to contend this year, unlike Cubs supporters who foresaw a World Series berth. So despite the fact that the Cubs are about to sweep the Pirates, who's laughing now? Hm?

  • Cardinals at Brewers, 2:05PM: If Ken Macha is going to go through the trouble of slotting Corey Patterson in the leadoff spot, I might as well liveglog the game for you. Corey Watch is on, y'all! And if Macha has a moment of clarity, we'll still have Adam Wainwright's budding Cy Young campaign to enjoy for the afternoon.

  • Padres at Giants, 3:45PM: Your window of opportunity is closing fast enough to crush those little fingers of yours, Giants fans. Now three games back in the wild card, San Fran needs to win this rubber match with the help from curveball crazy Barry Zito. Still, the team could win today, tomorrow and ever after and it won't make a darn difference with righteous righty Tim Lincecum out with a strained back.
forties.jpg

With just under four weeks left to go on the season, three true outcomes fella Adam Dunn has hit 35 home runs for a miserable Nationals team. But Adam Dunn is nothing if not consistent. In fact, Joe Morgan would be proud of his consistency. Adam Dunn is so consistent, he's about to collect exactly 40 homers for the fifth consecutive season. Not 41, not 42, but the tidy round number of 40. It's as if Dunn is a robot programmed to hit 40 home runs and then shut down à la Derek Bell.

Look, the statistics don't lie.

Reader Chris N. of Washington, D.C. Chicago wrote in to tell us of this statistical freakshow and I've kindly reproduced his passionate latter below, without a shred of permission, so I don't have to work very hard on this blog entry:

Think of it. Despite thousands of variables including a mid-season trade to a team that made him play in front of a swimming pool, having J.P. Riccardi go all J.P. Riccardi on him, and accepting the Nationals small pox blanket of a contract - Dunn has never wavered from what must be a profound subconscious need to hit exactly 40 home runs. A thousand butterflies have flapped two thousand wings, and still A.D.* is on pace for 40.

*I'm speculating here that Dunn's friends call him 'A.D.'

Still not sold on this story? Concerned it may not have "legs?" Well, what happens if, with a week left in the season, Dunn accidentally hits his 40th home run ahead of schedule? Yes, Adam Dunn is strong enough, and (according to Riccardi at least) ambivalent enough about baseball to accidentally hit a home run.

Will Jim Riggleman** have the fortitude to hold Dunn out for the sake of this streak? Will Dunn himself be forced to decide between playing hard or taking an On the Waterfront-style dive?***

**I had to look that up

***but unlike On the Waterfront, Dunn taking a dive would actually assure his greatness

If the decision is left up to Dunn, this would be my counsel:

"Look A.D., do you want to hit 42 home runs for a team that isn't going anywhere in meaningless late-season games against pitchers who should be in the minors...OR do you want to continue to be the author of the mind-bending statistical anomaly that is your only chance at baseball immortality?"

Thanks, Chris!

nineninenine.jpg

Oh yeah. It's 9/9/09, a good day for people like me who like to cross their eyes when they look at stuff. There are other people like that, right? Anyway, last year on 8/8/08 I paid tribute to Yogi, Yaz and Bo. It was one of my favorite pieces and it came out well because I had genuine affection for all three players.

This year we'll be paying tribute to one guy I love (Williams) one semi-tragic hero I find endlessly interesting, and one guy whose shining moment eclipses the rest of his Hall Of Fame career. So here are those 3 guys, back to front.

Bill Mazeroski: Last year was Yaz, this year it's Maz. One of the most impressive defensive infielders of his era, the 2001 Hall Of Fame inductee made 7 All-Star Teams and won 6 Gold Gloves. In 2163 GP he collected 2016 hits and was always a tough strikeout.

But it was the 1960 postseason in which he made his name. He slugged .640 in 7 playoff games that year including his Walkoff Ding Dong in game 7 against the Yankees, the first and only until Joe Carter did it again in 1992. It was one of two championships for Maz, who also played on the 1971 championship team with Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.

Roger Maris: Maris is another guy, who for better or worse is known primarily for one thing, his 61 Home Runs in 1961. It was a monumental achievement forever tainted by the fact that we have to listen to Billy Crystal talk about it. Most people know the story. Maris and Mantle are neck and neck in the home race all through the summer. Everyone is rooting for Mantle until he gets hurt and the stress of the spotlight causes Maris' hair to turn into a flattop.

The years have made it seem like nobody appreciated what Maris that year since the whole country was full of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle worshipers. Whatever the prevailing sentiment was at the time, Maris was still awarded the MVP, his second straight. It's hard to ignore 366 TB, no matter how you feel about a guy.

While he would never again reach those lofty heights, the rest of Maris' career, both in New York and St. Louis, was respectable. Although to me his subsequent home run dropoff screams STEROIDS. Look at those numbers! His head grew! Maris retired to Gainesville (bad) where he ran a beer distributorship (good) until he passed away in 1985.

Ted WIlliams: There is absolutely nothing I can say about Ted Williams that could contribute to the conversation about him in any meaningful way. Aside from Ruth, there has never been a more discussed and dissected ballplayer. Partly because, aside from Ruth, there was never a better hitter. But Williams' life and career, both in baseball and in the Service, has come to serve as a symbol of Wartime, Post-War, and then War-again America in the middle of last century. His status as "the real life John Wayne" is now repeated to the point of cliche but serves to help illustrate his legacy. When you investigated that era's phony heroes like Wayne you found out there wasn't much there. Frauds mostly. In a life of tough, and sometimes incorrect decisions Williams was never a fraud. But for me, more that anything, it's the numbers.

The numbers are insane. A career OPS of 1.116 fleshes out his 521 HRs, all while playing a total of 495 games from 1950 through 1955. Williams was only 32 in 1950, and had arguably his best season in 1949. To celebrate 9/9/09 today, do me a favor and just look at these stats. Compare them against Gehrig, DiMaggio, Felix Jose or whomever. Numbers transcending sentimentalism and sensationalism show us the real reason for a player's legacy, and it's no wonder that WIlliams' is still so large.

Tonight's Quiz Questions

| | Comments (4)
Hey kids, Let's Freak.

Instead of a normal Tonight's Questions, I decided to make you all a quiz involving tonight's starting pitchers. Good luck!



See you tomorrow, Geniuses. Same WoW Channel.
Creepy-Hamels-2.jpg

Cole Hamels and his super-hot wife Heidi (of Survivor fame!) have no children...yet. Heidi's due to pop one out this winter, but that's not stopping Mr. and Mrs. Hamels from abducting two random children to fool around with in bed in a magazine advertisement for their fancy-schmancy condo building in Philly. Words fail. The only thing I feel from these ads reproduced by Philebrity are massive douche chills.

(via the 700 Level)

coreyshirt.jpg

Corey Patterson has value. Corey definitely deserves to be a fully-employed Major League Baseball player with all the accompanying benefits. He is a speedy runner with a good glove and has some pop. However, if we've forced one idea down your gullet here at Walkoff Walk more than any other, it's "DO NOT HIT COREY PATTERSON LEADOFF". We even sell a friggin T-shirt that allows the hipster baseball fan to spread the word to other hipster baseball fans.

Brewers manager Ken Macha, however, is not a hipster baseball fan who has seen this T-shirt out in the open. Fella slotted new Brewers outfielder Corey Patterson into the leadoff spot yesterday against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals. The results will not surprise you: Corey went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and the Brewers were shutout with just one hit to show for their 'efforts'.

But Christ, Ken, why would you bat this man in the leadoff position? Corey Patterson has a miasmic lifetime on-base percentage of .290 despite clobbering over 100 home runs in his career. Yes, Corey has power and yes, Corey has speed. But my goodness, very few players with Corey's skill set have been so damn poor at reaching first base.

In fact, Corey Patterson has the fourth lowest on-base percentage among players with over 100 home runs in their career, lower than Steve Balboni, lower than Juan Uribe, and lower than Granny Hamner. Granny Hamner, Ken! If you want to score runs you must put some damned basecloggers at the top of your lineup so Prince Fielder can see some damn pitches to hit.

And then he can go nuclear.



I have no idea what's going on in this video, except that some cheerleaders are dancing around with some Furries and then some guy gets a trophy in the shape of an oversized baseball. And really, what more do you need to know?

UPDATE: I have just been informed this video features Chinese baseball and not Japanese baseball. I am stunned and shocked at my spreading of such blatant disinformation.

(via Diamond Leung's Diamond Notes)

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. While you were guzzling your final summer ales and weeping gently into your white linen pants for the final time in 2009, two of baseball's best pitchers went out and pitched absolute masterpieces. Not only did the former teammates take divergent paths to pitching's near apex, they use quite different approaches in travelling there. Any time two aces throw two one-hitters in the same weekend, we at Walkoff Walk are obliged to take a look.

On the surface, these two games are quite similar. The lines of domination are drawn like so:

Carpenter: 9.0 IP,1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K, 99 pitches, 11 groundballs, .548 WPA

Halladay: 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K, 111 pitches, 10 groundballs, .282 WPA

Pretty remarkable on both counts. Carpenter was more efficient (astoundingly so) and gets the WPA bump due to the game's tight score. Halladay received an early two run cushion against the best team in baseball but was just as impressive. Even more so if you acknowledge the team he bested did not send a pitcher to bat nor did it break baseball's number one, most important edict. That said, the Brewers feature an impressive lineup and holding them to one hit is no mean feat. How did they do it? Find out after the jump!

andrewmccutchen.jpg

Congratulations, Pirates fans! Your favorite team continues to set new records in the field of misery and absolutely rewrite the book on how to build a failure of a franchise. Never before in the history of American professional sports (or hockey!) has a team finished seventeen consecutive seasons with a losing record...until now!

With a 4-2 loss to the Cubs on America's day of rest from hard labor, the Pirates lost their 83rd game of the year and clinched their seventeenth straight season with a stinkeroo record. They broke a tie with the 1933-1948 Phillies and now stand alone at the top of the heap.

But our favorite sad blogger Pat from WHYG,AVS? has put things into the proper perspective for pitiful Pittsburgh Pirates proponents: falling down makes the getting up that much better:

The common perception is that sports are all about winning. That if your team didn't win, you had a bad year and that there's nothing positive to be taken from it. I think that's hopelessly misguided. Sports are about everything that happens before your team wins, which is what gives value to the championship when it's celebrated.

This picture is beautiful because of all of the heartbreak we watched these two men endure together on their way to having it taken. And this one still makes my heart skip a beat because of the way this one made my heart sink. After years of watching the Penguins and Steelers fall short and sharing in the frustration and pain and heartbreak with my friends and family, I knew what winning meant to them and to me.

Think about it: for most of Pat's life, his team hasn't just been a loser, it's been the definition of losers. The Pirates are in the Parthenon of piss-poor performance yet Pat continues to not only follow the team, he devotes a huge percentage of his life to writing about 'em. Perhaps the fans of some other miserable teams like the Orioles or Mets should take a cue from Pat and have a little faith in the team they follow. At least none of those teams have such a poor streak under their belts (although the Orioles with 13 consecutive losing seasons have a good chance of tying, if not breaking, this record).

I've been a Yankee fan my whole life; the team has provided me unmatched joy that I could never repay, even with every $10 I spend on shitty Cuban sandwiches without pickles or mustard at Yankee Stadium (seriously, how can you serve a Cuban sandwich without pickles or mustard?) But from the year I was born until the year I turned 18, there were no World Series titles, there were but two playoff appearances, and I watched my favorite player retire early with a bad back. I'm not saying I suffered in the 80s, but I do vividly remember spending the summer of 1986 at Jewish day camp full of Mets fans. Yecch.

If the Pirates fans want a more recent example of bad teams turned good, look no further than the Rays, who stockpiled young, cheap talent during ten straight losing season (and nine in last place) before making a run at the World Series. Pirates GM Neal Huntington espouses the same ideals: lose a lot of games, gain a lot of talent; Pittsburgh may not win the pennant in the next few years but I'd be surprised to see them not contend in 2010.

So, unless you're a Royals fan, keep your chin up and realize that sometimes it takes seventeen years of suckiness before you can celebrate something special.

(Photo courtesy of Trev Star)

Captain and TennilleYou wouldn't know it by reading this here webpagesite, but Derek Jeter is putting together an incredible year. Rob, the paragon of editorial standards that he is, remains reluctant to flout Jeter's greatness out of fear of turning off every thinking baseball fan from beyond the Tri-state area. Unfortunately for all who love to hate Jeter, we must give him his due: the man is putting together a terrific year.

Jeter's 2009 numbers are indeed sparkling. The Yankee Captaion could finish with an on base percentage over .400 for only the fourth time in his career while playing around league-average shortstop and scoring bunches of runs for the league's best offense. Not bad for a 35 year old who's traveled from overrated and underrated so fast it would make his head spin, were he not so unflappable and professional in his approach.

That his numbers pale in comparison to Joe Mauer in every conceivable way matters not to this growing horde of Jeter supporters, some who use the "lifetime achievement" crutch as a means to reward the often jilted Jeter. Thankfully Rob Neyer of ESPN wants to end that talk here and now:

Baseball's different, though. Award voting is (or should be) mostly objective, with little room for sentiment. Just give the thing to the best player, you know? More to the point, baseball has a Lifetime Achievement Award: it's called the Hall of Fame, and Derek Jeter will be there one day.

Just give the things to the best guys. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are both enjoying wonderful seasons that rank among their very best. Neither of them really are the best guys this year.

It is true, Jeter is having a wonderful season. That he's rebounded in the field to appease the angry SABR meance and their long-running vendetta helps to improve his case. That his team will make the post season means next to nothing when you realize two of his teammates are also frequently mentioned in the MVP discussion.

Despite the growing media uproar, Derek Jeter will not win the MVP in 2009. He will get his lifetime achievement upon induction to Cooperstown, where a long career of near-constant success, tens of millions of dollars, more beautiful women than a mere mortal could even imagine, a fawning fanbase, all the Gatorade he could possibly drink, and a legacy Jesus would envy finally reach their true zenith: a bronze bust in upstate New York.

dirtyfist.jpg

Editor's Note: I forgot we were supposed to be closed today. Bonus post! Fight unfair labor practices here and abroad (start with your food)! Have a good day off.

Ichiro Suzuki, man of 1,000 tagged WoW articles is now a man of 2,000 MLB hits. Ichiro smacked a double off of A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez, making him the second fastest player to reach the milestone. Former Philly A, Al Simmons was the fastest. In true Geoff Baker style we're reminded that Simmons died alone and destitute in the ">lede of the game story.

C'mon! This is a joyous occasion! We need levity. What was going on in the dugout after the hit?

In the dugout later, after Jose Lopez drove him home with a single, his teammates mobbed him with congratulations. Ken Griffey Jr. took the historic ball, which will be shipped to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and according to Ichiro, wrote "some ridiculous things" on it.

Griffey told reporters his scribbling was a play on words with the first name of A's pitcher Gonzalez and a Geo Metro car.

"So, I signed it, 'Got a hit off a Geo Metro 09/06/09' " Griffey quipped.

You may see that as cheap and dated wordplay, but I see it as Griffey getting nostalgic for his past since he and the Metro* both had their heydays in the early 90s. But I digress.

As Baker notes, Ichiro's health has been tested this season but it seems to us that 3,000 hits and the Hall are likely and assured, repsectively. Unlike some of the other "lock" numbers associated with induction, 3,000 will probably escape the subjective steroidal invalidation by sportswriters. Not that I care anyway, but anyone that believes people who say steroids helps players heal from injury faster along with making them stronger (ie: doctors) could cast a suspicious eye on a longevity based number like hit total. But again, I don't really care. I am undoubtedly going to Ichiro's induction. That's gonna be one good speech.

Lost in all of the day's pageantry is one of my favorite quotes of the entire season. It's courtesy of a certain Seatlle rookie who's name we've all been enjoying. Join me everyone, and make sure you're not drinking anything.

"There was a little thing on my finger, but that didn't affect me,'' said Fister, downplaying the problem.
JESUS, MAN! QUIT DOWNPLAYING IT AND WASH THAT OFF.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (11)


  • IS Corey Patterson back in the big leagues? YES!

  • ARE there really only two races worth following anymore? Down three in the AL Wild Card, Texas heads to Baltmore while Boston goes to Chicago; the Giants hit Milwaukee while Colorado hosts the D-Backs.

  • WHERE can I get one of these awesome hats?

  • WHY haven't I done the Linkpunch in two weeks? I don't know, maybe because it'd end up being all Posnanski links.

Congratulations, America! There are no New York teams playing in nationally televised games this weekend! Tomorrow night on MLB Network, check out the Tigers and Rays. On Sunday afternoon, sink your teeth into some Sox-Sox action on TBS. Then, on Sunday night, the Dodgers and Padres will tussle on ESPN. It's only you asshole Canucks that are stuck with the Yankees on TV.

We're off Monday and that means no podcast (sorry, all five of you listeners!). So have a good Labor Day weekend and try to not to piss off your designated driver. He's got your keys, dummy. See you next Tuesday, same WoW channel.

(video courtesy of ShareBro Skeets)



It's a long clip, but it's the day before a long weekend and you're not doing any work. So spend the next fifteen minutes listening to legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell talk about his experience as a Marine during the World War II era and you'll appreciate one of the bravest men to ever grace the broadcast booth just that much more.

No, Ernie doesn't say anything about the Japs playing pepper.

matt.stairs.in.happier.times.jpg Things had been going pretty well for Matt Stairs. Last October, he hit his first ever postseason homer at the most opportune time, helping the Phillies reach the World Series. Then there was the offseason, where he presumably coached some hockey and didn't pay for beers any time he met a Phillies fan. Early on this year, Stairs was on fire. As recently as June 6 he had slash stats of .324/.500/.618. That was good for an OPS+ of a billion. Or, y'know, maybe less.

Stairs had some Walkoff Walk-related heroics, too. No, he didn't have a walkoff walk, but he did homer in the Phillies 5-run rally in the ninth at the Citizens Bank Park Heist. "CAT STAIRS," everyone screamed, and my girlfriend was all, "Why the hell are they talking about my cat?"

Believe it or not, Matt Stairs has not had a hit since that home run on July 11. He's on an 0-for-27 streak after a pinch-hit strikeout last night. He's gone almost two months without a hit! He's not getting a ton of playing time, but that's still an incredible hitless streak. I say it rivals Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak.

Stairs says it's the worst slump of his career. He also said, "I'm just an old guy hitting a door with a bat," so maybe we shouldn't listen to him too much.

Supposedly, Stairs has a hitch in in swing, but is having problems correcting it with the limited at-bats. Please. I think we all know that somehow the fine people at the Walkoff Walk Citizens Bank Heist accidentally cursed him after his homer in the bottom of the ninth on July 11. Whatever one of you did -- I'm looking your way, Kris Liakos -- please correct it as soon as possible.

droopy.jpg

Jonathan Papelbon has been fined once again for failing to keep Red Sox games at a medium pace. Fella has now slapped with an infraction between five or seven times for taking too long to deliver a pitch.

The exact amount of the combined fines is unknown but is believed to contain a whopping four zeroes. As opposed to the bleachers at Fenway Park, which contains hundreds of zeroes. Zing.

"What am I supposed to do it about, you know?" Papelbon said. "Ain't nothing I can do about it. I'll make an adjustment and move on. That's it. It's not going to affect my pitching. That's for sure."

Wait, so you're not going to do anything about it but you're going to make an adjustment? Well, which one is it? Either nothing, or something? My Lord, you speak not goodly or clearish.

But really, on a night when Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum dueled in a gem of a game that took two hours and ten minutes it's not surprising to know that an AL East pitcher is getting singled out for being a slowpoke. AL East games are not something to be enjoyed in a casual setting. They are massive morasses of molasses that demand your attention for up to five hours. They are a commitment, and Jonathan Papelbon is only part of the problem.

A-Rod Mounts a Lady Mountie

| | Comments (1)
ladymountie.JPG

There's nothing more comical than watching Alex Rodriguez attempt to field a pop fly in foul territory. It's almost like his fielding Kryptonite! Sure, it's actually easier for the shortstop to field those balls than it is for the third baseman since the shortstop can get a better angle, but A-Rod's misadventures always lead him to wacky situations. Like accidentally humping a Lady Cop in Canadia.

Go see the revealing photos at Big League Stew since I was too lazy to screencap it last night.

Tonight's Question

| | Comments (7)


  • ARE you going to watch the Giants and Phillies tussle on the MLB Network at 7PM EDT? Tim Lincecum faces Pedro Martinez, Jim Kaat and Bob Costas have the call, and it's not like any other pro sport has an important game happening tonight.

Support your favorite baseball league, folks. See you tomorrow for Friday faves, same WoW channel.

math.jpg

Sean Forman over at Baseball Reference has developed a neat, new feature that will allow bloggers like myself (and half of you who are reading this) to embed B-R.com stats into our high-falutin' writin'. It's a free service and all they want us to do in return is include an attribution link. Sounds like a plan.

To demonstrate, I'll post a statistical comparison of two pitchers that is being very closely watched by the proprietors of this blog.

First, CC Sabathia:

Year Tm Lg W L ERA IP ERA+
2009 NYY AL 16 7 3.48 199.1 129
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/3/2009.

Next, Jon Lester:

Year Tm Lg W L ERA IP ERA+
2009 BOS AL 11 7 3.58 173.2 133
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/3/2009.

So, despite having an ERA a full tenth of a point below Lester's, Sabathia's ERA+ is not quite as good because Lester pitches half his games in a freakin' bandbox, while Sabathia dominates in a home park that comes out to be perfectly average for scoring. With one month to go before the season ends, both pitchers will have five or six more opportunities to rectify the difference and put my man on top.

fernandoperez.jpg

Columbia grad, New Jersey native, recent Rays call-up and Walkoff Walk favorite Fernando Perez penned an essay for Poetry Magazine, and that is all you need to know. I'll step aside and let Fernando throw the eloquence and imagery at you so hard it'll make your human condition spin:

In earning my stripes as a professional baseball player I've been through many cities and have stared out of hotel windows all over the Americas. Ball players are mercenaries, taking assignments indiscriminately.

Throughout the minor leagues you'll find yourself slouched on a bus, watching small towns roll by matter-of-factly like stock market tickers, on your back in a new nondescript room, or "shopping for images" (Allen Ginsberg) in a Wal-Mart, hunched over a cart in no rush.

A pro ball player who can track down warning track fly balls AND quote Allen Ginsberg? Color me smitten. Fernando, let this be an open invitation to add to your resume by submitting a guest piece at Walkoff Walk. Curtis Granderson might smack more tater tots than you but in the blogosphere, he's the Dan Brown to your Cormac McCarthy. Read more.

(via Rays beat writer Marc Lancaster on Twitter)

snowmanbaseball.jpg

A few games populate the schedule on this gorgeous getaway Thursday. Nary a hurricane in sight, so play on, gents!

  • Indians at Tigers, 1:05PM: Detroit is nothing but a paper tiger! Why else would they be starting Nate Robertson, a fella who hasn't posted a winning season since 2004 (when the team had a losing record) and a dude who manager Jim Leyland hopes can throw at least 80 MPH. What the what? Lucky him, though, it's only the Indians. Dee-troit goes for the sweep.

  • Brewers at Cardinals, 2:15PM: John Smoltz looks for his third straight stellar start for St. Lou and will do it against the miasmic Brew Crew. Hey, this National League thing is pretty easy, just ask Brad Penny. Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra toes the rubber for the Fightin' Ueckers.

  • White Sox at Cubs, 2:20PM: Interleague? In September? What the what? No big deal, both of these teams are about as far out of their respective playoff races as a one-legged man in a half-marathon. At least the weather in Chicago is nice today. Drink away, boys.

  • Mets at Rockies, 3:10PM: Colorado starter Jason Marquis looks to tie his career high in wins with his 15th today while the Mets are just busy looking for excuses to wear hilariously enormous hats. Jason Giambi was the pinch-hitting star last night for the Rox and most likely celebrated by swimming nude in a tank-ful of Coors Light.
bradpenny.jpg

Last night, new Giants pitcher Brad Penny walked belly-first into the lions' den and, contrary to the predictions of his former employer, emerged victorious. Penny shut down the National League's best offense in one of baseball's most famous band box, holding the Phillies to but five hits in 8 shutout innings in Citizens Bank Park as the Giants topped the WFC's 4-0.

Penny had been cut loose by the Red Sox after posting a miserable 5.61 ERA in twenty-four sub-par starts but found employment with another Wild Card contender right quick. So whaddya think of your new guy, Skip?

"Some things are hard to explain," (Giants manager Bruce) Bochy said of Penny's Boston collapse, "and that's one of them."

I disagree. There are certain points to explain why things have changed for Penny, and here's one: defense, baby, defense.

Although one game is far too small a sample size to judge Penny's defensive support, the difference between his two employers in 2009 is marked. In terms of UZR, the Giants are 3rd in baseball while the Red Sox are 23rd. Narrowing it down to UZR among the outfielders, the Giants are 2nd while the the Red Sox are the third worst team in baseball. The difference doesn't come from errors or assists, it comes exclusively from range. See, Giants players like Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, and Fred Lewis are far more likely to turn that line drive into an out than J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jason Bay.

But who knows, in the end, Penny's got a ways to go before his strikeout rate reaches its previous levels and may never blow that speedball by 'em again. The change of defensive scenery might not do enough for Penny's success. Still, that single start last night was enough to justify Brian Sabean's waiver move and help the Giants get closer to a playoff spot.

schillingcongress.jpg

Curt Schilling is going to run for the Senate, y'all! The ex-Diamondbacks pitcher must consider himself to be equally as beloved in the state of Massachusetts as the late Ted Kennedy, because Schill has thrown his size 9.5" hat into the upcoming race to replace Ted. Schilling's qualifications for public office include: being an opinionated public figure and a flair for the dramatic.

He's not officially in the race, but he isn't denying it either. To wit:

"I've got a lot on my plate," says Schilling. "Right now, I'm not even going to speculate on it."

But, Schilling admits he would need to make a decision pretty quickly.

"I think for the first time in a long time, it will take the right candidate," Schilling said of a Republican beating a Democrat for the Senate seat.

So, why would Schilling possibly want to run for the Senate in the state of Massachusetts? His two biggest areas of support among his constituents are Red Sox fans and neo-conservatives. Red Sox fans have pretty much turned on him and would probably vote for Billy Buckner over Curt at this point, while you have a better chance of finding an uneaten Twinkie in Schilling's pantry than finding a conservative voter in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

(via Brad Puffer at NECN)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (3)


That's a wrap. Go forth and multiply. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

busterposey.jpg

Memorize that visage, San Fran fans. Former Florida State Seminole catcher Buster Posey is going to win you over whether you like it or not, and if you're Bengie Molina, you might not like it so much. Since Molina has been a creampuff for a week, Posey is being overnighted to the East Coast for tonight's Giants tilt with the Phillies and might get the starting nod tomorrow. Take it away, beat blogger Andrew Baggarly:

Now it's clear why Posey wasn't in the lineup for Triple-A Fresno last night. GM Brian Sabean had said repeatedly that he didn't plan to promote Posey this season, but the Giants are in a dire situation as Bengie Molina takes his time coming back from a strained upper right quad.

No doubt the Giants are frustrated that Molina has missed seven consecutive games, including last weekend's huge three-game series against the Rockies. Molina also told me last night that he wanted to rest his leg one more day and hopefully return on Thursday.

A free agent after this season, Molina hasn't been shy about pining for an extension and expressing dissatisfaction at the lack of dialogue from the team.

Backstop intrigue! Molina is about to get Pipp'd. But can Buster hit? Sure, in the past month and a half with Triple A Fresno, Posey posted a .902 OPS including 14 extra base hits in just 131 at-bats. He also threw out 45% of runners in his past two seasons of minor league action, so he's got an arm.

If he starts tonight, he'll be catching new Giant pitcher Brad Penny, but if he gets his first start tomorrow, he'll catch Tim freakin' Lincecum. Which would you want in your first start?

(Posey pic via Flickr user Dinur)





I could watch this clip all day. It has everything: A game disrupted by a miniature plane flying around Dodger Stadium (a mini Fan Man!), Vin Scully actually announcing the disruption of a game by a radio-control aircraft (á la the cat at the Royals-Mariners game last month), the crowd cheering the plane's every twist and turn, the Diamondbacks' Augie Ojeda ripping the plane into pieces once it hits the railing of the D-Backs dugout and Dodgers fans booing after the plane is ripped apart.

I also really enjoyed Scully's compliment of Ojeda's destruction of the RC plane at the end.

It's a good idea to destroy it. That would become a very bad habit here in the ballpark, let's face it. It's tough enough with beach balls, but something like that could really be destructive.

Is Scully suggesting that beach balls, too, are destructive, just not as destructive as radio-controlled aircraft? If ol' Vin wants to see a really destructive airplane on a baseball field, he should watch this video:






Now that's a plane that could do some damage at a ballgame. I think Dodgers' CF Matt Kemp has the right idea:

"That was tight -- I liked that. That stayed in the air for a cool two or three minutes."

I'd say it's more ill than tight, but Kemp is the major leaguer, he probably knows better.

Video via The Fightins

nycunderwater.jpg

No liveglog today. I am nothing if I'm not cruel and direct.

  • Pirates at Reds, 12:35PM: Hey, remember when I pimped the Pirates after their big series win against the Phils? Well they've gone and lost six straight games to the Brewers and Reds and are now 5.5 games "ahead" in the race for last place. Tanking to get a better draft pick, or just terrible play against terrible teams? I'm not making excuses and neither is Zach Duke, 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA against the Redlegs this year.

  • White Sox at Twins, 1:10PM: Hey, remember when Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game? Well, he's gone and lost four straight decisions in seven starts since that fateful July afternoon and has seen his ERA balloon by more than half a run. So maybe the Twins can complete the sweep today and move just a bit closer to catching those Tigers. Or maybe both these teams will finish the year at 81 wins and 81 losses and be completely un-memorable.

  • Astros at Cubs, 2:20PM: Speaking of Midwest mediocrity...

  • Royals at Athletics, 3:35PM: Hey everybody, Jose Guillen is back in the Royals lineup after a month missed with an ouchie knee! He'll be the DH! Aren't you all super excited! What a crazy way to spice up a vital, late season matchup!

  • Nationals at Padres, 3:35PM: The Padres had a winning August, their first winning month since Bip Roberts roamed left field at Jack Murphy Stadium. Well it hasn't really been that long but it's just hilarious to mention Bip Roberts in the same sentence as Padres success. The Dads go for the sweep over Warshington a day after the Nats were eliminated from the NL East race. I'm surprised it took until September for that to go down.
davidwrightnoggin.jpg

I almost wish some other big league player had been the first to sport the new, more protective helmet because it's not really fair to make fun of someone who was recently injured.

But damn, seeing baseball players wear those ridiculously large helmets is going to take some getting used to. I just can't help but think they're are comical in size and appearance, not unlike Rangers pitcher Warner Madrigal.

(screencap purloined from Fightins blogger and Philly T-shirt magnate Meech)

texandroberts.jpg

In last night's loss to the hated Yankees, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts collected his 49th double of the season, leaving him just one double shy of becoming only the fourth player in MLB history to knock 50 doubles in three different seasons. But September holds more intrigue for the 31-year-old from North Cackalacky. With just eleven more two-baggers, Roberts will become the first player in 73 years to reach 60 doubles, and even has an outside chance to break Red Sox outfielder Earl Webb's single season record of 67 set back in nineteen dickety three.

Roberts has always been a doubles machine because he's got just enough power and a ton of speed; he has also played his entire career in a ballpark with fences placed short enough to bounce one over and far enough to not hit a ton of homers. Camden Yards is not specifically a doubles park but it fits Roberts to a tee.

So keep swinging for the fences, B-Rob, but not too hard. And if you deposit a ball in the outfield gap, slow up a bit just before you reach second base so you're never tempted to turn a double into a triple. It's not like you'll be costing the Orioles an important win.

(photo courtesy of Flickr user Keith Allison)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (22)
pizzaslicebaby.jpg

This wraps up another Walkoff Walk broadcast day. Please return to your pods and recommence your evening of feeding on baseball. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel. You too, Pizza Slice Baby.

newstretcher.JPG

Hey, everybody, Tim Hudson's back just in time for the stretch run! He'll take the mound for the Braves tonight in Miami as they attempt to bury the Marlins and make up ground in the Wild Card standings. Hudson is recovering from Tommy John surgery and, despite making six rehab starts in the minors, is still a little shaky. You would be too if you were away from your chosen profession for 13 months. Here's Tim in his own words, thanks to Carroll Rogers of the AJC:

"Do I think I'm going to be in midseason form and everything?" Hudson said. "I hope. But realistically, probably not. But I definitely feel a lot like I normally would coming out of spring training."

If he needs reassurance, and perhaps some calming down, Chipper Jones will be just a few feet to his right in the bottom of the first tonight:

"I know he's really geeked up to pitch," Chipper Jones said last night. "Let's hope he's not too geeked up because he's not a 97, 98 mph guy. He's a finesse guy that has overpowering stuff. And he needs to have his location and his movement. And if he has that, he'll be fine."

Hudson will face the Marlins' Anibal Sanchez, whose own injury problems have limited him to just 25 starts over the last three seasons. Fella's labrum has been shredded up worse the the Velveeta in Chipper Jones' fridge. It's delicious on baked beans, y'all! So with these two creampuffs on the mound, we can expect either a pitchers duel that lasts into the eighth inning, or two ambulance trips to Coral Gables Hospital. Either way.

In other medical miracle news, Aaron Boone was called up by the Astros just mere months after undergoing open heart surgery. He had a bicuspid valve repaired, whatever that means, but rumours that Ed Wade had traded Boone's aorta to the Royals in exchange for Yuniesky Betacourt's esophageal sphincter proved to be unfounded.

No Liakos, but Drew and I did a pretty damn good Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show last night between the two of us and a bottle of rum. We chatted about the NL Wild Card chances, how Scott Kazmir might end up becoming Victor Zambrano, and Starship Troopers. Listen here, or go download at iTunes:


The tune at the end is Warren Zevon's cover of the Van Morrison song "Into the Mystic", available for download at the Internet Archive.

1997-jim-thome-indians.jpg

Hey, remember when current Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was the hitting coach for the 1997 Indians? Yeah, me neither! But he was in charge of two future Hall of Famers who, as of last night, have finally been reunited after nine years apart. Jim Thome was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he'll reunite with Manny Ramirez.

The two guys have combined for over 1100 homers in their career; this year, Thome's got 23 tater tots while Manny has 15 in about half a season's worth of plate appearances. I have no idea how Thome will be used in the Dodgers lineup; after all, the fella uses a first basemen's glove about as well as an elephant uses a harpsichord. But if Joe Torre chooses to use Thome as a super pinch-hitter in the mold of a West Coast Matt Stairs, he should have many opportunities to enter the game in the fifth inning to replace a tired Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers also plucked veteran starter Jon Garland from the Diamondbacks; Garland spent a couple years with Thome on the White Sox so it's quite clear that Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti is doing his best to make ol' Jim as comfy as possible in his new digs.

So hopefully, the Dodgers will be able to build on twelve-year-old nostalgia and maybe even encourage Casey Candaele to come out of retirement. But hey, there are other players still active from the 1997 Indians: shortstop Omar Vizquel, left fielder Brian Giles (barely), starter Bartolo Colon, reliever David Weathers, and the curse of Jose Mesa that hangs over the entire Cleveland metropolitan area.

(Photo stolen from the SI Vault. Shh, don't tell)

hairstonoops.jpg

Then you come deal with me, fella. Jerry Hairston may have made the seventh inning error that broke up Andy Pettitte's bid for a perfect game after 20 straight outs, but it was Andy Pettitte who broke up Andy Pettitte's bid for a no-hitter immediately afterwards and Andy Pettitte who broke up Andy Pettitte's bid for a shutout by giving up a tater tot to Melvin Mora in the eighth inning. Human beings are frail and fallible, that is the nature of us as a beast.

In fact, Alex Rodriguez' injured hip requires him to sit out once a week, so that's why Hairston was at third in the first place. But while A-Rod may have been able to field Adam Jones' hot-shot grounder that went through Hairston's wickets, who can tell if A-Rod would have handled Matt Wieters slow roller in the sixth that Jerry fielded with such aplomb?

So let this be a warning to any jamook Yankees fan who deigns to direct even the mildest of boos at Jerry Hairston Jr: I will hunt you down and waggle my finger in your face with such utter determination you'll never want to be a rude dude ever again.