April 2010 Archives

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, let's talk about lying.


  • WHAT is the best series of the weekend? Gotta be Mets/Phillies and I'm not just saying that because 96% of our readership roots for the Phils.

  • WHAT about in the Junior Circuit? Rangers/M's could be interesting since Cliff Lee makes his debut tonight (and I'm not just saying that because 96% of our readership roots for the Phils) and also because not a single team has yet to distinguish themselves in the AL West. All four teams are separated by a game and a half. The Angels are in Detroit and the A's are in Toronto.

  • CAN Tampa take full advantage of getting the struggling (go figure) Royals at home?

  • WILL the stellar-at-home Padres extend their NL west lead against the Brewers?

  • BORED in Boston without the Red Sox in town? Come see me in Freedom Cops at The Hallway in JP. I'll give you a High Life.

One more bit of site news before we leave you for the weekend: we're leaving you for the weekend. Summer weekends are just too damn nice to make someone sit inside and write about baseball. And most of you folks are out living your offline lives anyway. So starting this weekend, Walkoff Walk becomes a M-F operation, barring major news and, of course, shrimp. You need us more when you're at work. We're just fine with that. Hats off to J, who's done a fine job filling in the big weekend shoes that Drew left. He'll still be contributing, don't you worry.

And we'll see you back here Monday morning. Same WoW channel.

The Keys To AJ Burnett's Jeep

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Regular readers may know that I have a particular affinity (i.e., disdain) for Keys to the Game-style segments at the start of sports broadcasts. They rarely contain any actual "keys" to the game or any actual scouting reports.

So, then, thanks much to Rob for spotting the above report on AJ Burnett last night! An instant classic. It is wonderful that the only actual stat up there is Win-Loss record, one that tells us almost as little about AJ Burnett as a pitcher as the fact he loves yard work.

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Bud Selig's Super Special Offseason Panel of Everyone But Players and Umpires had some ideas about improving the All Star Game, and the higher-ups at MLB have listened! Starting this summer in Anaheim, the following four progressive changes will be made to the Midseason Classic:

  • Starting pitchers who pitch the prior Sunday will be dismissed from the team and replaced

  • If a player gets injured mid-game, the manager can replace him with any designated positional player

  • The designated hitter rule will be used in every game, not just those in AL cities

  • Roster expansion! Teams will now carry 21 position players and 13 pitchers, up one from last year

The first two get a big fat "meh" out of me, so let's focus on the last two instead. Carrying the DH rule over to National League parks during an exhibition game may seem like an inconsequential change right now, but what does that move portend for the future? Perhaps this is just the first step to introducing the DH to every World Series game, or to take it one step further, maybe this means that the DH rule may soon be used during the regular season in the National League.

I'm ready now to have both leagues use the same darn rules, and letting NL teams utilize the DH not only increases the job prospects for aging stars like your Barry Bondses and Carlos Delgadi, but it might level the playing field that has recently made the AL the far more dominant league. Having the DH available in an All Star Game won't force the managers to pinch hit for pitchers constantly but it might foretell a sea change in the entire game.

As for roster expansion, the advantage I see to having more players qualify for the All Star Game is a cheapening of the honor. Why is that an advantage? Because if certain baseball writers consider expanded rosters to cheapen an All Star appearance, perhaps they won't use appearances (or lack thereof) as a crutch anymore when evaluating a player's Hall of Fame qualifications.

It makes no sense for a writer to use All Star Game votes when considering a players' entry into Cooperstown; we fans are the ones who vote players in or keep them out, and we don't always use the best statistical measures to evaluate those votes. Nor should we! It's a fun exhibition and we should want to choose our favorite players. Baseball writers shouldn't lean on those votes for Hall of Fame-worthiness, and with All Star Game rosters a full six players larger than they were just a few years ago, maybe they won't anymore.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, she's conventional.

  • HAVE you been surprised at Justin Duchscherer's 3 consecutive impressive starts. He suffered through so many injuries and had such a lousy first start, that I kind of have. He takes on the equally dealing Ricky Romero and the Blue Jays.

  • WILL the annoyingly effective Matt Garza and his Rays continue to roll against KC?

  • WILL the Pirates play like the team with the better record against The Dodgers? Because they are.

  • HOW do you feel when you find yourself agreeing with Ozzie Guillen? High, right?

  • DOES anyone have a frontline report from the Diamondbacks protest in Denver, or planning on being at the upcoming ones in Chicago? I'm interested to hear just how much shit the protesters are taking from Joe Baseballfan,. That's his real name.

  • CAN the Yankees salvage rubber from the hapless O's?

Happy birthday to Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys. Hey now. Tomorrow is Friday already. Creampuff and Classic TV and stuff like that. Well, not really. Mostly just that exact stuff. Okay, bye.

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Kansas City Royals star and reigning American League Cy Young winner Zack Greinke just completed a stellar month of April in which he held hitters to a .239 batting average, struck out 27 dudes in 31 innings, and posted a tidy 2.56 ERA. Only problem? Fella's winless because both his run support (three runs per game) and bullpen support (relievers' ERA in Zack's starts is over 15.00) is non-existent.

Meanwhile, across the great divide, San Francisco Giants stud and reigning National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum outdid his counterpart by holding hitters to a .181 average, striking out 43 guys in 35 innings, and delivering a microscopic 1.27 ERA. Thanks to unusually high run support (six runs per game) and, until yesterday, typical bullpen help, Lincecum finished the month with four wins against zero losses.

Now, small sample sizes aside, it's fair to say both of these guys are performing at the top of their games. Both do well in striking out many, walking few, and minimizing tater tots. But what chance does Greinke have to repeat his Cy Young win in 2010 if his Royals teammates continue to piss on his pitchers mound every five days? After both guys won top honors last year with win totals in the teens, displaying a sea change among voters away from traditional stats and towards sabermetric stats, could 2010 be the first year a starting pitcher wins the Cy Young with a losing record?

In a word: probablynotthatseemshighlyunlikely. Greinke's numbers, while typical for an ace, have fallen somewhat since last year. His home run rate has doubled from 0.43 per 9 to 0.85 per 9 while his K rate has fallen by almost two per nine innings. Hitters are making more contact at pitches in and out of the strike zone this year. His odds of winning games 1-0 or 2-1 this year are slimmer. Chances are we'll be debating Frenchy Liriano, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez at the end of the season for top AL honors. Only time will tell if Greinke can keep his name in the discussion.

Tonight's Question

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Seriously, even the Mets fans are shocked that the number one most hated team in the Americas isn't the Yanks. Shouldn't we be focusing our pity on the Cleve and not our disdain? I, for one, am beginning to focus my negative energy away from the Mets onto the Dodgers, mostly because the McCourts are scumbags and Ned Colletti is a total jackass.

Putting hatred aside, let's all enjoy this evening's slate of games, including a nationally-televised Twins-Tigers romp on ESPN. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Beacons: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Padres at Marlins, 12:10: Your (tied for) first place Pahds and your scrappy still scoreboardless Fish battle for the rubs. Correia v. Robertson. Both parties have agreed to dismiss their court cases and have their disputes settled HERE. In OUR forum.

  • Pirates at Brewers, 1:10: Even with their 7-4 win last night the Pirates have still been outscored 56-11 by the Brewers this season. In five games. You're telling me they couldn't use Rinku and/or Dinesh right now? Pat Maholm "Boy" v. Chris "Starvin" Narveson. The Peopllllllleeee's COURT.

  • Dodgers at Mets. 1:10: Your first place Mets (/shuts down blog) swept yesterday's double dip and boy are those Dodgers reeling. "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," says Jeff Francouer (/burns down blog and vows to never write about baseball again). Joe Ely is pitching for the Dodgers? I love "Me And Billy The Kid!" I saw him with Guy Clark once! I saw him with Guy Clark once! Oh. John Ely.

  • Mariners at Royals, 2:10: Rubbin is racing in KC. Ryan Rowland-Smith takes on Gil Meche, who has been just abysmal thus far. 12 BB to 7 K and 19 H in 12 IP. Ouch. Who does he think he is, Jake Westbrook? Ichiro has 9 hits in 14 career Abs against Meche, so you know he'll have plenty of opportunities to get stranded in scoring position today.

  • Nationals at Cubs, 2:20: More rubs in Chicago since the feisty Nats snapped the Cubbies' 6 game winning streak last night. Did you know the Washington Nationals lead baseball in stolen bases? They lead something! What happens if they hang around until the All-Star break? Luis Atilando v. Ryan Dempster. And hey, look. The Cubs shot down an anti-SB1070 scoreboard message.

  • Boycott The Diamondbacks at Rockies, 3:10: Kris Benson vs. Greg Smith with rubber on the line. Protests in the lot.

  • Phillies at Giants, 3:45: Cole Hamels against Tim Lincecum in the big name matchup of the day. In case you were unaware, Lincecum is pitching even better so far this season than he ever has. His WHIP is under 1 and he's struck out 32 vs. 6 BB. Hamels, not so much. He's already given up 7 tater tots and more hits than innings pitched. Phils have lost 4 of 5.

As per Hardball Talk's Aaron Gleeman's many, many sources, the higher-ups at MLB advanced media are cracking down on their columnist's usage of Twitter. Allegedly, the beat writers within the iron curtain on MLB.com are being told that they are to tweet ONLY about baseball-related topics, while some players who tweet are being tut-tutted for their more controversial tweets.

Granted, not every MLB.com beat writer is as interesting as Blue Jays beat guy Jordan Bastian. Some of them are real snoozes with terrible taste in culture and nobody will care that they're getting muzzled. But really, Twitter is not supposed to be just a vehicle for press releases and play-by-play. MLB should be encouraging their writers to punch up their feeds with the occasional joke or thought or music recommendation just as long as the missives are not offensive.

Part of this may be a reaction to the Mike Bacsik affair in which the former big league pitcher and current squawk radio host saluted the proud Latino population of San Antonio, or, more recently, A's pitcher Brad Ziegler gettin' all political up in Twitter:


Ziegler was expressing his thoughts on the boycott of the Diamondbacks by opponents of Arizona's wacky new immigration law, and he's welcome to his opinion, no matter how non-committal it is. Ziegler seems to be avoiding the controversy well by not taking sides, and after all, the whole ordeal is technically baseball-related anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing what Ziegler says next but I can only imagine it won't be anything political.

Worst of all, this throws the proverbial wrench into our newest feature, This Tweet In Baseball, which draws his humor from idiotic comments spewed out by players and, on the rare occasion, beat writers. If these folks are being watched closely by Big Brother Bud, will we ever get to read nonsensical blatherings like this ever again?

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, those were the beginnings of thinking.

  • BORED in New York? They're playing two up in Queens.

  • WHO will emerge victorious in the first Twins/Tigers tilt since Game 163? Hard to bet against Liriano so far.

  • WILL the Sox and Jays play a slightly less maddening game? No mas, 25 runs.

  • CAN the Cubs win their 6th straight game and move above .500? Both they and the opposing Nationals are 10-10. THINK OUTSIDE THE BUN.

  • WILL the Seattle One Eyed Undertakers continue to blow their futile offensive horn against Zark Groonky and the Royals?

What'd I miss? Lots of stuff! Great night for baseball. Catch some if you can. Complain about it here if you want. Or tell us what you're having for dinner. Whatever. See you tomooooorrrrooowww. Same WoW Channel.

Supporting The Diamondbacks Boycott

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This week on Edge Of Sports Dave Zirin laid out his case for boycotting the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wake of Arizona's passage of SB-1070. Zirin says that this will be the last column he writes concerning the Diamondbacks for the foreseeable future. While I don't think that I'll be taking that route (covering 29 of 30 teams doesn't seem like it would allow a site like ours to do its best work), Rob and I support the financial boycott of the team and its owners and would like to urge any of our readers interested in social justice and the civil rights of all people to do the same.

There is a direct causal relationship between the team and this legislation. As stated in the Zirin piece, Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks and his family have contributed over $250,000 to the Republican party in 2010 and over $1M in total. This makes them one of the largest financial supporters in Arizona of the party sponsoring this legislation. Team founder and former owner Jerry Colangelo also has a history of supporting conservative religious and political causes that infringe on personal liberty, and some of that money had to come from running the Snakes. I understand the argument that if this caught on and actually affected the bottom line of the team it would be the lower level employees that felt it first, and that Ken Kendrick wouldn't have to start eating frozen dinners. Let's be honest, there isn't going to be a groundswell of that kind of support from most sports fans. But as sports fans who also happen to, you know, engage in the outside world and don't subscribe to the notion that THEY MUST BE SEPARATE!, the financial boycott is a viable way of being heard.

If you're unfamiliar with this issue the video embed above of a Democracy Now! interview with US Rep Raul Grijalva from Arizona is a good place to start. Noting the terrible precedent this legislation can set even he's calling for a targeted economic boycott of his own state. In these days of the Tea Party it is little surprise that he's receiving death threats.

No sport's success is as inextricably linked to the Latin people as baseball's. Without the influx of talent from Latin countries over the past 40 years the game would not be played at even close to the level it is today. It's a shame that Diamondbacks ownership sees fit to profit from that, while playing a role in the denial of basic human freedoms.

Rinku & Dinesh Return From India; Think The Pirates Suck

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Of course he posed in front of a truck.

After spending the offseason back in India, WoW HoFers Rinku Bhramdeen Singh and Dinesh Patel are back in Pirate City, FL enjoying metro Sarasota-Venice's finest chain restaurants, Snooty the Manatee and hey, some pitching! They were treated like kings at home all winter but still seem stoked be back. I guess it's true what they say about taking the boy out of Bradenton.

Our families going crazy when they seeing all the videos and the articles they doing in USA. Dinesh's mom seeing video he pitching and she very worried he hurting his arm. We explaining many rules of the baseball and showing many things we seeing in the USA.

they are happy to see us living in very good place Pirates City, and we getting good chance here.

Many fans sending us emails during off season, but we not having internet in our villages, so we not getting your emails until we getting back today.

We both very happy to be back playing baseball. In India, no one playing the baseball, so we only throwing a little for three months. We feeling rested and we excited to joining team again here.

That seems kind of strange doesn't it? Two young ballplayers going THREE WHOLE MONTHS... without internet. And yeah, the throwing thing. It seems that almost every guy I've ever talked to spends his entire offseason doing baseball related activity. But if there's one thing that we've been convinced of in the two years following R&D, it's that despite our initial skepticism, their handlers have pretty regularly done what's best for them. Except for the ribs incident.

  • The looming problem for the boys seems to be their growing awareness that they play for The Pirates. And while that's never been a good thing, their 2010 futility in the face of what was some mild preseason optimism has made this rough start even rougher. And Dinesh has noticed.

    I pitching pretty good. We watching Pirates losing very bad this week. We not liking this - Pirates our team.

    Poor bastard.

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    The World F'in Champion New York F'in Yankees visited the F'in White House yesterday, as is the custom for a team that wins the World F'in Series. Just this past weekend, I was in Washington D.C. and a bit disoriented, so I asked a man on the street, "How does one get to the White House?" He replied, "Face an overmatched Phillies team that has only one good starting pitcher, a shaky closer, and a lefty-stacked lineup". Zing to you, stranger.

    Our gracious leader Barack Obama, a dyed-in-the-wool White Sox supporter, was indeed a gentleman and did not do something nefarious like Gillooly-ing Mariano Rivera's knee. Instead, he saluted the special individuals on the team, specifically Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi, for their superior play and charitable work off the field.

    But alas! No mention of Steroid Sweetheart Alex Rodriguez! Quel shockeur! Leave it to 'Duk to put it all in proper perspective:

    But Obama also didn't mention players like CC Sabathia, Andy Pettite, A.J. Burnett or the not-in-attendance Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and they all played instrumental roles in the Yankees' 27th World Series title, too. Heck, he didn't even mention George Steinbrenner by name or say anything about Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio. If you listen to the speech, it's obvious that the president was running off a tightly-written script and not running down a checklist of great names from the Bronx.

    Yanks beat writer "Handsome" Mark Feinsand was in the house and shared this nugget.

    There were some light-hearted moments as well. As the President posed for a photo with the World Series trophy, Jean Afterman - the Yankees' assistant GM - barked out, "Let him hold it; he may not get a chance again."

    The room roared with laughter, but Obama came back with a quick reply. "And you wonder why the other teams don't root for you," Obama said with a smile.

    Asked about Obama's anti-Yankee remark, Jeter joked, "He better be careful. There are a lot of Yankee fans that vote."

    It's true, Yankees fans do vote, but mostly it's to ensure that Kevin Youkilis never starts an All-Star game again.

    Discount the Nationals bullpen as horrible and ineffective if you will, but this is a team on the move. But growth doesn't come without a price, and tonight the price is SHRIMP.

    Brian Bruney walked two in the home half of the tenth inning in frozen Chicago, with the important free passes issued to a betoqued Aramis Ramirez with the bases loaded. 2010 is now, officially, under way. What you came for:



    It should be noted that scoring this video with the "Go Cubs Go" theme would send me such on a seafood eating frenzy, your rabbi might faint.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, the ripples continue until they reach the shore.



    Because we have to. Because we love you. See you here tomorrow, same WoW channel. You too, Fish Baby.

    wow.haskins.jpg When you work at the Baseball Hall of Fame, you must get to see your fair share of celebrities. Baseball is the national pastime, after all, and its Hall of Fame is considered hallowed ground. Sure, Cooperstown, N.Y., isn't near anything1, but it's the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hate everything and I thought that place was amazing.

    Apparently not, though, because the Hall of Fame's communications director wrote as if Jesus (or at least
    Ivan de Jesus) showed up at the HOF when a visitor from Bayside High showed up:

    The man with the Boston Red Sox hat was walking up the Museum's grand staircase alone, wearing that awestruck look of most Hall of Fame visitors. He asked for directions to the new Hank Aaron exhibit, then broke into a smile.

    "Thanks! This is great. By the way, I played Mr. Belding on 'Saved by the Bell.' I'm Dennis Haskins."

    This is amazing. I can only imagine Dennis Haskins reminds the staff of every museum he visits he played Mr. Belding. Maybe he also brings this up at bars2. Then again, I do hear about him more often than, say, Lisa Turtle3.

    There's nothing wrong with getting excited to meet Mr. Belding. I plan on doing it myself in Reading on June 23. But does one have to pen heroic epics about the guy?

    Soon, Haskins' time ran short. He stopped in the Museum Store before slipping back out onto Main Street. And with that, he was gone.

    I can't tell if this is about Mr. Belding or Brigadoon.

    1 Except the Cardiff Giant, on display at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown. Also in town: The dude from 3rd Bass.
    2 Maybe? Pfft. You know he brings this up at bars.
    3 Lark Voorhies played Wanya's girlfriend in the music video for Boyz II Men's "On Bended Knee." I'm not sure; that might have been her last acting role.

    Incidentally, this got me thinking: Who has had the least successful career, post-Saved by the Bell. Then I realized this is easy: The answer's Dustin Diamond. But let's rank them anyway!

    1. Zack (Mark Paul Gosselaar): A major role in NYPD Blue, he was on that TNT judge show that was okay, and honestly Dead Man on Campus had some good jokes. This one is pretty obvious, though the stupid hat I saw a photo of him in while researching this list made me want to put Slater in the top spot out of spite.
    2. Slater (Mario Lopez): Un-fucking-fortunately, he's had a somewhat successful career as a host of crappy entertainment, plus he was runner-up on Dancing with the Stars. Maybe he should be No. 1? He's the host of Extra, though, and you wouldn't put Mark McGrath No. 1 on a list of members of Sugar Ray.
    3. Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen): Several failed TV projects, a largely unsuccessful stint on Beverly Hills 90210 and a lot of terrible plastic surgery (conjecture). Oh, Kelly. What happened?
    4. Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley): Showgirls, and nothing else. Oh, and apparently her face is frozen in this position?
    5. Lisa (Voorhies): Uh, that Boyz II Men video? She was in a couple of sitcoms for an episode or two and a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode. But at least she wasn't...
    6. Screech (Dustin Diamond): Obviously he's had more work than some of the people above, but.. I mean, he went back to Saved by the Bell: The New Class. And his other work: Dustin Diamond Teaches Chess, Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling (he finished fourth; Dennis Rodman won), Celebrity Fit Club, et cetera. Worst of all, he released a sex tape.

    I don't know where Mr. Belding fits on this list, nor do I know where to put Stacey Carosi (Leah Remini)! According to her Wikipedia page, Tori (Leanna Creel) is a wedding photographer who got gay married in California in 2008. Neat!

    Let Lou Piniella Tell You About His Box

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    Box, box, boxy box box. Like a diamond, the word "box" is simply constructed and clear yet contains many individual facets and meanings that reveal it's true beauty and versatility. Other than it's traditional "container" or geometric references, this Merriam-Webster definition lists like 6 other meanings.

    Nowhere is "box" pounded harder than in corporate nothingspeak when someone making a non-traditional choice is said to be "thinking outside the box." In fact if you hear someone saying "thinking outside the box" they are using a term so tired and devoid of punch that they're squarely in the center of said box. With the Cubs having won three in a row since Lou Piniella moved struggling ace Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen, the skipper's disdain for coming up with ideas whilst inside of a a rigid, typically rectangular container with or without a cover is being praised far and wide. Well, mostly he rambled on about it this weekend himself.

    "I think you better think out of the box here at times," Piniella said.

    "I think [thinking] out of the box is a good thing," Piniella said. "Look, things change. Sometimes you leave Spring Training one way, and all of a sudden something happens and you have to adjust to it, whether it's pitching, whether it's position players, whether it's the bench.

    "Things change, and they never stay the same for 162 games," he said. "Unless you're awfully good and awfully deep, you better think outside the box sometimes. If you don't, you'll get beat up."

    "My job description is to win baseball games, as many as I can, and at the same time to do what's best for the baseball team. That's all I'm doing and that's all I'm trying to do. You better be able to think outside of the box."

    That's from an MLB.com article titled, "Piniella proving to think outside the box" which is about the most in-box headline possible since Smilin' Lou said it 76 times in the piece. Gordon Wittemeyer of the Sun-Times used the same quotes and titled his piece "Leaping outside the box" which I take to mean that Piniella's ideas are so radically anti-box that simply thinking outside of it won't do. He must propel himself skyward using only the force of his own groundbreaking thoughts, like a Phoenix rising from Arizona. It is also a lame title.

    At least Wittemeyer has the good sense to note that Zambrano has only pitched one inning during the Cubs' recent streak. So while all of this contrarian nonsense may be good bulletin board material for the next managers meeting at Fox & Obel, it hasn't really contributed to the club's success other than it may have kept Zambrano from blowing another start.

    Vagina.

    clooney!.jpegEverybody knows relievers are weird dudes. They spend inordinate amounts of time hanging out, entertaining themselves and creating deviant ways to offend everyone outside their hermetic community. Their job security is nil, their roles and responsibilities change with the weather. Guys are great one week, awful the next. The bullpens of the world overflow of miscreants, castoffs, jagoffs, and miscastreants.

    To be thought of as "the best reliever in baseball" doesn't really mean too much unless you have the fancy saves to lean on. It doesn't matter who does the high leverage heavy lifting, whoever shakes the catcher's hand at the end of the game gets the credit. Which is a shame; because Matt Thornton has only 9 career saves and is the best reliever in baseball.

    Playing second fiddle to Big Bobby Jenks on the second favorite team in America's Second City is far from a glamorous job. I'd hazard a guess that many of you reading this sentence right now have, at best, a hazy understanding of who Matt Thornton might be. I'll let Jeremy Greenhouse of The Hardball Times introduce the powerful lefty:

    A common mistake made by baseball fans is to call a pitcher unhittable when that pitcher is not Matt Thornton. His stuff is the best in baseball, and today, he demonstrated why his fastball is truly unhittable.

    While Greenhouse raved about Thornton just a few days into the season, three weeks have passed and Thornton's been nothing short of insane. He throws that "unhittable" fastball 90% of the time yet he induces swinging strikes (whiffs) a whopping 17% of the time. Throwing a four seam fastball. Almost exclusively.

    He throws that fastball at 95 while his slider sneaks in unfairly at 83. Mean, just mean. So far in 2010 his FIP (fielding independent pitching) checks in at 0.49. Less than one half of one run per 9 innings! Granted, he's only pitched 10 total innings, so take that number with a grain of salt, but watching him absolutely destroy hitters is a real treat.

    Saturday night, Ozzy left Thornton in to pitch 2 and 1/3 innings in a tight game versus the Mariners. He faced 7 batters; he struck out 5 of them. His strike out per walk rate of 8 is stellar until you realize both batters were issued their free passes intentionally1. Left handed hitters shouldn't even bother, right handed hitters are simply overmatched. He's an electric arm with pinpoint control at the top of his game. Watching hitters flail away at Thornton's offerings is the most fun you can have at U.S. Cellular without having to fill out a police report.

    For right now, there isn't a better bullpen beast than Matt Thornton. He's the perfect mix of eye-popping both on paper and in the flesh. Somebody will hit him hard this season, but it won't happen too often. If you're a bigger fan of your local nine than you are stuff that's awesome, your tendency might be to go for a drink or hit the head when he emerges from the bullpen late in a game. Feel free to embrace this reality, as your chosen side ain't getting nothing done for the next 3-6 batters.

    Hat tip to Fangraphs and Joe Lefkowitz's database thingy for the nitty gritty nerdy.

    1Ozzie, seriously, what are you thinking? Your boy here is untouchable. Pitching around Jhonny Peralta and Matt LaPorta to get the matchup in your favor is nearly as inexcusable as the absence of full blown insanity from your twitterfeed. Let him fire away.

    Former MLB pitcher Mike Bascik decided to take spice up the Internets tonight. During his career as a pitcher Bascik earned the dubious honor of giving up Barry Bonds record-breaking 756th career homer. Now that he's moved into broadcasting at a sports radio station in Texas, Bascik apparently wants to be just as memorable. The former hurler apparently had some choice thoughts about the San Anotonio / Dallas basketball game that he felt compelled to share with the world on Twitter, a site that advertises itself as providing readers with a way to get "short, timely messages" from the folks you follow and care to read. After this, that's certainly one way of putting it.



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    Well... that certainly escalated quickly. Again, it may not be him at all, but umm, holy shit.



    (Coke Zero to Yahoo's David Brown for bringing it my attention on Twitter, of all places)

    It's been quite the weekend for retrospective pieces on some of the landmark WoW personalities. Yesterday we had Chipper Jones. Today it's the indefatigable homerism of the Los Angeles Dodgers' most dedicated out-of-state fan, Troy from West Virginia. No stranger to the glories that the World Wide Web offers to those courageous enough to post videos of themselves on Youtube, Troy (now with a sweet beard) is back at it again in his latest video, a tribute to the 2010 LA Dodgers.



    It's... it's mesmerizing. But perhaps the strangest part of all of this is the fact that Rob, who had pointed out the new video earlier that day, actually saw him at the Nationals game yesterday. Make of that what you will.

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    Here's what you may have missed from yesterday's action while vital parts fall from his systems and dissolve in Scottish rain.

    Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jayson Werth showed that he doesn't need his beard to be productive at the plate. Dude hit two homers in the game, including the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning to give the Fightins a victory over the Snakes. Raul Ibanez also awoke from a deep slumber to hit his first homer of the year.

    Giants 2, Cardinals 0 : Umm, what? This game turned into quite the pitchers' duel as both starters went eight innings. However, SMALL SAMPLE SIZE Zito got the better of last year's Cy Young candidate, scattering three hits and striking out 10 (!) Cardinals enroute to his 3rd victory on the year. Better late than never on that massive contract, I suppose.

    Rays 9, Blue Jays 3: Ricky Romero continued the trend of strong pitching from the Jays' rotation while doing his best Brett Cecil impersonation and then some to limit the Rays to two runs in seven innings. The Jays bullpen was also quite happy to continue its own recent trend. Unfortunately for Jays fans this involves a horrible inability to throw strikes and overall gut-wrenching pitching performances. The team from Canada entered the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead only to see the Rays score seven runs in the bottom of the frame. Scott Downs and Casey Janssen took most of the lumps as Kevin Greggggg likely looked on with ironic amusement. Raypril hasn't ended just yet, apparently.

    Twins 9, Royals 7: Both of the Twins major long-term commitments showed they were worth the money in this game. Joe Mauer had five hits and Justin Morneau hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh as the Twins overcame a 5-1 deficit against their division rivals to win in twelve innings. It's not all bad for the Royals though, as Jose Guillen continues to swing a steroid-fueled ridiculously hot bat. I'm sure general manager Dayton Moore will find a way to minimize his value on the trade market sooner or later.

    White Sox 5, Mariners 3: Apparently yesterday was "AL Central Comeback Day" as the White Sox also got key hits to catalyze their victory over the scuffling Mariners. The Pale Hosiery entered the bottom of the ninth down by a run before benefiting from a game-tying tater off the bat of Paul Konerko. The resurgent Alex Rios then scorned the concept of extra innings and his own decline by hitting a walkoff two-run homer to guarantee victory.

    Generic roundup: The Nationals and Dodgers also played extra innings yesterday but the smart folks left the snoozefest early. Either way, the Dodgers won in the thirteenth. Andy Pettitte continues to drink from the Fountain of Youth as the Yankees rolled over the Angels by a score of 7-1. The Tigers won despite Dontrelle Willis having to leave the game early due to being raped by a wallaby illness. Ted Lilly won his season debut with the Cubs in a turn of events that will give manager Lou Pinella further validation in his inexplicable decision to move Carlos Zambrano to the 'pen. Brian Matusz pitched well, but the Red Sox overcame the hapless Orioles in a slugfest that saw both teams hit a combined five homers. Well hey, look at that, the Mets won again.

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    Quite the falloff from last Saturday's games which had a lot of impressive names taking the hill and ended up with Ubaldo Jiminez throwing a no-hitter. But we've just gotta keep on keepin' on.

    Scuffling Teams And A Surprise: The Dodgers aren't exactly off to a rousing start in 2010, a set of circumstances further compounded by the recently creampuffed Manny Ramirez. They send Clayton Kershaw to the bump to take on the Nationals. Elsewhere the Padres, leaders in the NL West turn to Wade The White to "duel" against Cincinnati and Johnny Cueto. And then your early tilts are rounded out by a Braves/Mets matchup at 1:10PM.

    FOX-y Lady: Only two games to pick from for the National broadcast today at 4:10PM. Joel Pineiro shut down the Yankees in a start earlier in the year and looks to do so again. Meanwhile, Joba Chamberlain, fresh off blowing last night's game will be spending the day away from the ballpark to highjack a Red Bull truck. In the other game, the M's and White Sox go head-to-head in a matchup that pits Doug Fister against former Seattle-ite and current drunken gadabout Freddy Garcia. Overwrought story lines: engage!

    "When I was born, the world was a far simple place. It was all just cops and robbers.": The Marlins play a double-header against the Rockies today with the first game starting at 5:05PM. Brett Cecil scorned the notion of "Raypril" yesterday and Ricky Romero looks to follow suit. The OrioLOLes already proved to be good for whatever ailed Jon Lester. They still only have two wins on the season; Brian Matusz owns both of them and he's taking the hill today. Joe Mauer is going to take a break from being awesome to lead the Twins against Luke Hochevar and the Royals. Dontrelle Willis looks to avenge the Rangers dramatic victory in yesterday's game. He will probably fail. And in the late game at 9:05PM, Wainwright and the Red Birds take on SMALL SAMPLE SIZE Zito.

    Full listing of games.

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    That's right folks. On this date, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy two, a favorite of this site, the ever-awesome Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones was born in DeLand, Florida. Allegedly his first reported action was outing the Mexican cleaning lady at the hospital as an illegal immigrant. All in attendance agreed it was most adorable.

    In 1990, OL CHIP reached the age of legal majority in the United States on the same day that the Hubble Telescope was launched. Coincidence? Hardly. NASA knew it had to get up there quickly with an adult Chipper now in the game. That same year, young Larry was selected first overall by the Atlanta Braves. From there, the rest, they say, is history.

    Chipper is now a virile 38 years old, and he's off to a good start in 2010. Many adjectives could be used to describe the fellow. "MVP," "World Champion," "teacher of men," and "not-so-closet racist" immediately come to mind. When all is said and done, will "Hall Of Famer" be on that list?

    Thanks to matt_t (naturally) for pointing out Chipper's day of birth.

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    So... did anybody else notice this in the baseball blogosphere? Oh, probably, but I'm not bothering to check it. Hey, guys, what's up! Check this out: The Florida Marlins' Jorge Cantu, currently rocking a 20-game hitting streak, is part of the Black Hole at at least one Raiders game a year!

    "I'm a big Raiders fan, even though they're not that good,'' Cantu said. "But I'm a big, big loyal fan. I sit in the Black Hole [section] every single year to watch them play. I wear my skeleton mask and everything.''

    Can you spot Jorge Cantu in the photo above? I just stole it from Wikipedia user BrokenSphere and added that text, so... no, you probably can't.

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    This afternoon, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 20-0. They outscored the Pirates 36-1 in the three-game series.

    The Pirates have the worst run differential in baseball. But what makes it even better is the Pirates already had the worst run differential in baseball coming into the game. Now they have the worst run differential by 22!

    Previous RDMs: Twins (May 2009), Phillies (July 2009).

    Whomever thought it was a good idea to set up a professional baseball player with a Twitter account deserves our praise and our scorn. We get an equal amount of laughs and groans from this 140-character missives; let's dive headfirst into the miasma and see what the players and other personalities around the baseballtweetosphere have been chatting about lately.

    Of course, it's not only baseball players who struggle with the concept of Twitter. Instantly updating your status without proofreading first can get broadcasters and former general managers in trouble, too. Here's the man who salted the fields of the Reds and the Nationals for years to come, XM Radio's own Jim Bowden, congratulating a certain Cleveland Indian slugger for his big week:


    White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen is just like you or me! Even a fancy man like Oz has to sit around his condo waiting for the awful cable company to show up between the hours of 8AM and 3PM, and then spend the entire time twooting about how much he hates Comcast.


    Former big league slugger and best-selling author Jose Canseco has been notoriously outspoken in the Tweet-o-sphere but this past week, Jose really went off the reservation. Seriously, if you don't follow Jose, take a gander at the brain droppings of a demented man with a 65 I.Q. It's like taking a peek into the mind of insanity:


    Official recording secretary of the Marlins God Squad Chris Coghlan and his buddies were wowed and totally awed by the big city of Houston. Even the taxis are bigger in Texas! All praises be to our lord and savior Jesus the taxi driver!


    Speaking of big cities, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson had an off-day in NYC after getting walloped by the Yanks so he decided to do what any yokel or Midwestern hausfrau would:


    Washington Nationals mascot and nightmare fuel inducer Screech the Eagle is having a birthday party this weekend at Nats Park and is hosting ten of his closest mascot friends to celebrate! Of course, just like in elementary school, sometimes the loser kid in the class doesn't get invited:


    Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu may have gotten off to a slow start but at least he (or whoever has been hired to compose his tweets) is funny and self-deprecating about the whole sitch. He's like the Venezuelan baseball player version of Jerry Steinfeld:


    And finally, here is your official David Price Sphinxian riddle of the week:


    Morning: Today's Afternoon Game

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    • Royals at Blue Jays, 12:37: The Birds have one hand on the broom closet today against the Royals. They've ostensibly got their work cut out for them against Smilin' Zack Greinke, although he has yet to deliver any transcendent stuff in 3 starts this season. He's given up 20 hits in 17 IP and an uncharacteristic 6 BB and 2HR. Small sample size, but the Blue Jays have hit the most ding dongs in all of baseball. Gonna need his K game. Vernon Wells is still hot as a bastard totting again last night.

    EdBerger's 30 Clubs In 30 Songs: Arizona & Atlanta

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    You may know Ed Klingenberger as commenter extraordinaire EdBerger. But he's not just a witty baseball fan, he's also an eclectic and supremely talented musician fluent in many styles of batshit RnR. His new project is so ambitious and utterly WoWian that I had to ask him if we could link it here.

    Ed is writing, performing and recording a song for each of the 30 major league ballclubs. I know, right? First up was Arizona. The Snakes' song gets its slither on with some hazy guitar and progged out time changes. It's like going to Chase Field with Robert Fripp.

    ARIZONA by Ed Klingenberger

    Then yesterday, he rolled out his tune for the Braves. It's in the style of Atlanta heavy bros Mastodon and is the perfect thing to blast out of your headphones and freak out people on the MARTA.

    ATLANTA by Ed Klingenberger

    We'll be linking to Ed's team themed boom tunes each time he drops one, but I urge you to peruse the back catalog over at Ed Makes Things if you're feeling freaky.

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    The Cleveland Indians are just one of the many MLB teams suffering from low attendance numbers early in the 2010 campaign but a twenty-first century initiative may help boost the turnstile numbers. They've gone and built the "Tribe Social Deck" out by the bleachers at Progressive Field and have begun inviting local bloggers and Twitter superusers to sit, free-of-charge, and promote the team through the magic of the Internet. There is advertorial power in them there tubes!

    As per Sports Business Daily:

    The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians' roots within social media channels. The free section, part of the Time Warner Cable-sponsored bleacher area and outfitted with wireless Internet access and a TV, is currently being used on an invitation-only basis.

    What does this all mean? As the best parts of the burgeoning baseball blogosphere get closer to the mainstream media-occupied press box, yet another part is being courted by the teams themselves. The super-fan-blogger with a massive following on the Internet is worth his weight in Cheetos, and if a mid-level team like the Indians can harness this energy for their own good, then they'd be stupid not to do it.

    Scott from the Cleveland sports blog Waiting For Next Year was invited to watch the Indians home opener from the Tribe Social Deck and shared his mostly positive experience, but noted some important drawbacks:

    One complaint that may be heard from others that attended the Social Deck is the lack of mobile connectivity. While this may not be a problem in subsequent games due to attendance figures, the home opener provided next to zero mobile signal, making use of social media relatively difficult. Long term, the team plans on providing exclusive Wi-Fi access to the 10 individuals on the deck - something that they will be able to do through Time Warner via their sponsorship of the area.

    Great job, Cleveland. You promote a blogger box with all sorts of access and then you ghettoize some nerds on a deck without actually activating the Wi-Fi. On Opening Day, no less. But what else can one expect from a terrible communications company like Time Warner Cable?

    (via Senor Calcaterra's Hardball Talk Concern)

    rays-full-zip-hoodie.jpg I think we can all agree that baseball would be better if managers didn't wear uniforms1 and all dressed like Connie Mack.

    Major League Baseball doesn't allow managers to wear three-piece suits anymore, and now it won't even let them wear hoodies! Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon can no longer wear the pullover hoodie he usually wears on cold days.

    Was he aping too much of Bill Belichick's style? No, Maddon explains: It's all about MLB not understanding the youth of today.

    "All I know is that it's a comfortable piece of clothing, I think it's attractive, if you're looking for younger fan, I think those are the people that really are attracted to something like that, too. Listen, I will state my case because I think I can, but I will follow the rules, too."

    Maddon added that when he first wore the hoodie. the quality wasn't so hot. "The quality has been raised, it's more of a shiny kind of material now that I know presents well," he told the AP. "I've seen them on TV, it presents really well."

    Yes, major league baseball will allow players2 to wear batting helmets that look like they've been used to clean up bong resin3 on off days, but they won't let managers wear hoodies on TV that present really well. We all know that MLB just hates the kiddies and their hoodies and their hippity-hop. Fight the power, Joe!

    1 I doubt we can all agree on this. But I already wrote my first sentence, and found that photo of Connie Mack, and I'm not going back to change it. But coaches and managers wearing uniforms: Stupid. I will not relent on this. Except player-managers, of course.
    2 Such as Jorge Posada, the future Hall of Famer who just went out to the mound five times as I was writing this footnote.
    3 Happy 4/20, everyone!

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    Time flies when you're having good baseball. Did you realize that we fans can already register our opinions for the Midseason Classic at MLB.com? Yes,just two weeks into the regular season, All Star Game voting is LIVE and ready for you to lend your support to that guy who has seven home runs or some fella with good fortune and a lucky bat.

    But why should we reward players having a hot start? Or, for that matter, why should we even reward players who had a good 2009 season? Why even bother looking at stats, whether they be basic, McCarverian statistics or more advanced ones that require a semester of differential equations to comprehend? Screw stats!

    Our advice this year: vote for your favorite players. Ignore the stats, and not just the first two weeks or two months or however long has elapsed by the time you get around to registering your allotted 25 electronic ballots. Ignore past performances, future possibilities, and extended stays on the disabled list. Even retirements! If you love someone who just recently hung up his spikes, write his name in anyway!

    Do you love to see David Ortiz lolling around in the A.L. dugout, spitting sunflower seeds at Derek Jeter and being generally affable? Then throw your votes at him, slow start be damned! Wonder how Nyjer Morgan would dazzle the crowd in Anaheim this summer? Then round up your D.C. area pals to stuff those ballot boxes. It's that simple. Wanna be a smartass? Tick off Mike Jacobs at first base in the N.L. Imagine the sad Mets meme possibilities!

    So, dear reader, we implore you to take joy into account when voting for All Stars. It makes no sense to vote for Ichiro year in and year out just because conventional wisdom dictates it. Dude's had his run so let's bring in some new favorites. I think Eric Patterson is ready for his closeup.

    (thanks to Tango for the heads up)

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    Sure, it's still early in the long haul that is a baseball season, but your Boston Red Sox have but four wins against eight losses and possess the fourth worst record in the majors. They have lost three straight home games against their rival Rays, have suffered a poor start from their spiritual power leader and lithe young ace, both of their centerfielders are creampuff'd, and they have forced the Curly Haired Boyfriend to gnash his teeth far earlier than usual. Times are tough in the Hub.

    But alas and alack for us Yankees and Rays fans: this is the smallest of sample sizes and we have a seemingly interminable road ahead that will allow the Sox' most slump-y of pieces to regain their normal career arc. Jon Lester will throw 1-2-3 innings. David Ortiz will smack tater tots. J.D. Drew will either collect RBI or get leprosy and lose a limb.

    Today is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts; this means that state employees get the day off to make a nuisance of themselves along the Boston Marathon course and cross their fingers that the old tired Red Sox don't get swept in four by the young and vibrant Rays. But even if the Sox fall again, chances are they will rise. After all, they do get 18 games against the Orioles.

    In related news, this happened over the weekend. AL EAST UNITY!

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    Yesterday may or may not have been one of the craziest days in baseball history. At the very least it can claim that title so far for the year 2010. Here's what you have missed while thinking that this could last us all a lifetime.

    Rockies 4, Braves 0: Ubaldo Jiminez throws the first no-hitter in Rockies history and he took the AJ Burnett path to get their by walking 6 guys in nine innings on 129 pitches... but it still counts! Ubaldo was still throwing absolute gas in the late innings, hitting 98mph on the gun even in the ninth. More like Ubald-no-no, amirite?!

    Mets 2, Cardinals 1: It's hard to believe something could actually trump a no-hitter, but this game certainly tried its darndest. It took twenty innings to decide the winner of what started out as a regular season baseball game and ended up becoming a test of endurance and a competition between two teams to see who could try to lose faster so that everybody could go home. Luckily for the Mets Tony LaRussa is the worst manager in baseball. The Cardinals had the bases loaded with a chance to win the game, three times (in the 10th, 12th, and 14th), but each time we were denied delicious shrimp. MOTHER$#&!@*. In the 12th and 14th, LaRussa left the pitcher in to bat with the bases loaded. Oh, and by the way the pitcher was hitting in the cleanup spot after what I can only imagine was a double switch that pulled Matt Holliday out of the lineup. The Cardinals used two position players to pitch with one of them, Joe Mather, taking the loss. Mike Pelfrey earned his first career save. Isn't the NL just adorable?

    Athletics 4, Orioles 2: While the Astros might be getting a lot of attention for their early-season struggles, it's important to note that the lowly Orioles still only have one win on the season in what can only be described as an attempt to make the Blue Jays feel better about themselves by securing a veritable stranglehold on last place in the AL East. The A's secured a walkoff victory on Ryan Sweeney's two-run single in the ninth. Wayward O's closer Mike Gonzalez was nowhere near the scene of the crime, so it fell on Jim Johnson to blow the game.

    Rays 3, Red Sox 1: The Rays had a busy day yesterday because they had to finish their Friday contest against the Red Sox, which was suspended due to rain. Pat Burrell clubbed a two-run homer in the 12th inning to give the Rays a victory. Then the team from Tampa held off a Red Sox rally to win the second game of the double-header 6-5. The Rays are now tied with the Yankees atop the East. Bill Simmons renunciation of sabermetrics and Theo's "defense first" offseason plan will hit the internetz in 3...2...

    Giants 9, Dodgers 0: Tim Lincecum's early-season dominance cannot be stopped. The lithe righty did it all in his six innings of work, striking out seven and driving in three runs to support his own cause. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was battered around by a Giants lineup that once again forgot it was the anemic Giants' lineup. Look at that, a normal baseball game!

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Roy Oswalt threw seven shutout innings and the Astros' bullpened weathered a late Cubs rally to secure the team's second win. There was almost shrimp in the Pittsburgh game, but Garrett Jones saw fit to end the game with his bat to give the Pirates a walkoff win of their own. Break up the Nationals! They shutout the Brewers 8-0 yesterday. The Yankees beat the Rangers as A-Rod hit his first homer of 2010. He picked a good time to do it, as there were two very special people in attendance. The Mariners bested Justin Verlander to win 4-2.

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    I know of at least one brave soul who embarked on a most noble quest this morning. Hopefully this Saturday finds the rest of you equally well and only mildly hungover. Let's see what's on the teevee, shall we?

    Early Call: Only a few games in the one o'clock timeslot today and just like last week, you should prepare to be wholly underwhelmed. Roy Oswalt's healthy attitude takes the hill against Tom Gorzelanny in an effort to get the Astros only their second win in the 2010 season. Early forecast in Houston calls for a lack of run support and infinite sadness. The Jays are still partying like it's April 2009 and send lefty Brian Tallet (now sans moustache? Sad face.) to the bump to take on the scuffling Angels. Mmmm Pythagorean record justice. And you've got Royals/Twins, Yankees/Rangers, and Brewers/Nationals rounding out your late lunch.

    Big Names Abound The Late Afternoon: Tim Lincecum, Johan Santana and Jake "Where Did It All Go Wrong" Peavy are all starting at 4:10PM today, and depending on where you live, you'll get to see one of them on FOX. Guess which one I'm hoping for! Elsewhere Jeremy Guthrie looks to give up less than 3 homers per inning against the AL West leading A's. The latter part of that sentence felt very odd to say.

    "You're a funny guy, Sully, I like you...": After a stellar first two starts, Ubaldo Jiminez takes his show on the road to square off against the Braves. Ricky Nolasco and Jamie Moyer (LULZ OLD JOKES) oppose each other in the middle game of what what must sadly be called the Phillies first real challenge of a series in 2010. Tampa Bay and Boston are battling in Boston. Justin Verlander is taking the hill against the Mariners looking to shake off a slow April start and Jerkwheat's shower of tears.

    Full listing of games here.

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    Just the other day we saw Hank Aaron complaining about the kids on his lawn with their moving pictures and their home run balls. It turns out the Home Run King has quite a bit more on his mind. Namely, Aaron is depressed about the inherent irony of Jackie Robinson Day, which was just celebrated around all of Major League Baseball, because there's not that many African Americans in baseball anymore, you see.

    "Every single day, even when I watch the Atlanta Braves, I say to myself, 'It's a shame that they have a coach and a player. That's all,' " said Aaron, referring to Terry Pendleton and Jason Heyward, respectively, as the only African-Americans involved with the former team of baseball's legitimate home run king.

    Aaron has a legitimate point, of course, because the numbers don't lie: only 71 African Americans on Opening Day rosters in both leagues this year.

    The Aaron quote above comes from this Terence Moore Fanhouse article, which is more than a littler over-the-top as the author spends an equal amount of time pointing out the fact that he's friends with Hank Aaron as he does actually trying to make his point. And his point is that Major League Baseball is run by a bunch of hypocrites who say they're trying to improve African American participation in the game, but doing very little to follow through with substantive action. While it might be easy to dismiss this Moore piece for its melodrama and overwrought rhetorical devices... I found myself agreeing him. Mostly because of facts like this:

    They also mention after a sigh that they really are trying to bring African-Americans back to the game with their 21-year-old Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program. On MLB.com, for instance, it boasts that the game has given more than $30 million to the RBI program since its inception.

    (snip)

    As for the truth, that's a bunt compared to a home run, especially when you contrast what baseball has done collectively during that stretch to build academies in Latin American and other foreign countries. The low-revenue San Diego Padres spent $8 million alone for a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.

    At the most basic level, this doesn't exactly make MLB look very good, and it also lends a lot of credence to Torii Hunter's remarks about "impostors," which, to be sure, are still utterly crazy and poorly-worded, but definitely contain a great deal of truth.

    Thoughts on the issue, WoWies? I do believe this qualifies as my first writing on the human condition. Huzzah!

    Via our pal Meech at The Fightins from a coupla months back come these two clips from "The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola". Joe hosted the show as a pregame for the Monday Night Baseball series on ABC in the 1970s; this episode pitted Brewers legend Kurt Bevacqua and the late great Johnny Oates, then of the Phillies, in a bubblegum-blowing contest.

    The good people at Bazooka spent all season finding two worthy competitors, going from clubhouse to clubhouse and challenging players to blow their best. This was not the first time they put up a whopping $1000 for the winner of such a silly contest: be sure to check out former champ Andy Messersmith's fantastic afro in the video below. The end of the video features two retro commercials, so skip those unless you have a hankering for nostalgia.


    The actual contest is embedded below. I'd ask you to get excited for the stunning conclusion but watching this is about as exciting as watching grass grow.


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    Being a highfalutin baseball blog artist like me has its benefits. When the good people at Major League Baseball Advanced Media decide they need to carpet bomb the electronic world with press releases, you better believe one makes its way into my inbox! As such, I'm up to date on all the latest happenings in Secaucus, New Jersey: home of the MLB Network.

    That this glorious television network is unavailable in the country I call home, no matter which service provider I choose, is immaterial. I get the latest and greatest info from MLB Network and recoil with jealous revulsion after each new and exciting feature.

    Tonight at 5:30, the suits at MLBN are determined to find out just how deeply your obsession runs. How low you're willing to sink, in relative terms. MLBN has cameras stationed in 13 current ballparks, with plans to install their sentient robot watchers in all 30 by the end of the year. Tonight marks the debut of their new show: Batting Practice. I'll let them explain:

    ...a 30-minute show featuring live footage from ballparks around Major League Baseball. MLB Network's Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds will host the debut program on Friday, April 16 at 5:30 p.m. ET and take viewers inside batting practice to watch and analyze position players warming up in batting cages and on the field. The show will also include live interviews on Ballpark Cam with players, managers, coaches and announcers.

    A show about batting practice could be the most divisive television program of all time. Personally, I ran the full gamut in about 5 seconds flat. From giddy excitement to shameful self-loathing at my former giddy excitement. The legitimate guilt I felt over getting excited for something so strangely specific was tempered only by a strong desire to watch Prince Fielder take batting practice. ZOMG! That one almost killed Bernie Brewer!

    Watching live batting practice is fun, with the free baseballs and chorus of ooohs and aahhhs. Watching a straight feed from the stadium, free of inane chatter, could be oddly hypnotic and even soothing. The chatter of H.R. and friends coupled with a bland interview might render this unwatchable. Mic up some pitchers shagging flies and the chances of hearing the words "So I bring them both back to the hotel room" on the MLB Network go up one thousand percent.

    One possible way to make it appointment TV: gambling! Provide us a window into the seedy world of professional athlete prop bets. I need to know Aubrey Huff bet Mark DeRosa 1500 buck he could hit "BAL" on the AT&T out-of-town scoreboard. Did bookmaker extraordinaire Nick Swisher just offer 7-2 that Alex Rodriguez can't hit five straight onto the hitter's backdrop? Now THAT I'd pay to watch.

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    I kid, of course, no matter how high Kyle Kendrick's ERA gets (well over 17 now after his disastrous start against Warshington), his performance could never make a chubby young gent like the one pictured to the left blow chunks all over an innocent young girl. No, the only thing that could make him do such an illicit act is his pure unabated douchiness.

    The story begins when Capt. Michael Vangelo, an Easton, PA cop, and his two daughters planned a lovely family outing for Wednesday night's Phillies game versus the Nationals. The family outing turned dark, however, when some unsavory characters seated behind the Vangelos started acting up, perhaps as a result of intoxication from imbibing alcoholic beverages. Quel horreur!

    As per NBC Philadelphia:

    I had beer thrown on me and water and then one individual started spitting at the back of my daughter's chair and he actually spit on my 11-year-old daughter," Vangelo said.

    Vangelo went to report the men to ushers, who promptly ejected them from the game. The man says everything seemed fine until another fan got involved.

    That fan -- identified by police as Matthew Clemens -- was sitting with another, unrelated group of fans who were also disciplined for acting out when he allegedly did what Vangelo describes as the "most disgusting thing" he's ever seen.

    Clemens, 21, positioned himself behind the 11-year-old's chair, stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited on the girl and her father, police said.

    "He leaned forward, he projectile vomited all over me and my daughter," Vangelo said with a look of hurt splashed across his face.

    A look of hurt wasn't the only thing splashed across his face, amirite? The story has a happy ending, though:

    After all the disruptions and vile acts, the 11-year-old was able to come out of the game with a smile, her father said. A nearby fan caught a foul ball and gave it to the girl.

    I hope Capt. Vangelo wiped that ball down before they got home.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Tune in to the MLB Network tonight at 7PM to see a special pregame ceremony honoring Robinson, one of the greatest baseball players of all time and a truly brave human. Jackie's widow Rachael will be there, and if we're lucky, so will Bill Clinton. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

    Unlike the beer-and-brat lovers in sunny Milwaukee, the Dodger Stadium parking lot in Chavez Ravine is not a happy-go-lucky spot for casual carousing by baseball lovers. Instead, it is a dark place where tailgating is banned, traffic is constantly snarled, and fights between fans break out at the drop of a hat.

    In this amateur video posted to the popular Internet video site "You Tube", witness one such fan get pummeled by stadium security as some fellow Dodgers folks shout obscenities at the guards. The fan refuses to be ejected from the lot and gets kicked, punched, and grabbed until his flip flops fly off.

    WARNING! Contains graphic violence and language, and the harsh realities of the horrible urban decay called "Los Angeles"


    Stay tuned until the end, when one of the gathered masses shouts the line that amateur security guards and professional policemen dread to hear, "It's going on YouTube!"

    (via L.A. Now and the handsome Matt P.)

    Orpheus Plays The Bronx: Today's Afternoon Games

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    • Rangers at Indians, 12:05: It's David Huff vs. someone named M. Harrison. Come strapped in case the M stands for "Marvin". I guess you'll need a gun if the M stands for "George" too because he'll be a zombie.

    • Red Sox at Twins, 1:10: Hey Minnesota. Nice park. But are you ever gonna play a goddamned night game in it? The Red Sox have been in the 6th inning everyday when I've gotten off work this week. "Oh the cold weather won't affect anything, that's a myth... blah blah." TURN THE LIGHTS ON AND PLAY A NIGHT GAME IF IT'S SO BALMY THEN. Wakefield vs. Liriano.

    • Houston at St. Louis, 1:40: The Astros are stiiiiilllll looking for their first win of the season, and will trot out the excellently named Bud Norris to try and get the job done. A loss today would match their franchise worst 0-9 start in 1983. Back when Mike Scott was a still a ladykiller. Catch Brad Mills fever! Cardinals send out Kyle Lohse.

    • Brewers at Cubs, 2:20: Jesus Jeff Suppan returns from the deel to face Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs. Fukudome has quietly put together a first week and a half, going 10 for 24 with a tidy .773 OPS. Zambrano turned in a decent performance in his last start lowering his ERA 40 points to 11.

    • Nationals at Philles, 3:05: Is there a more fun TV station name to say outloud than MASN? Try it. The Phillies have been a juggernaut thus far scoring runs by the handful. The Nationals try and stop them with Scott Olsen and Philly counters with J.A. "Is Mighty" Happ. Tune in Phillies fans, it's more fun than doing your taxes.

    • Mets at Rockies, 3:20: Mike Pelfrey against Jorge De La Rosa. SMELL IT.

    The MLB season rolls on, but where would we be without the random musings of MLB's most loquacious players in the Tweetosphere? Let's take a look at some of these droll, 140-character missives and maybe have a little fun at the expense of talented millionaires:

    Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm made headlines with his recent defensive mastery. Unfortunately, the gents at the WWL couldn't pronounce his name properly when reviewing his Web Gem:


    Meanwhile, Rangers starter and crunchy bro C.J. Wilson missed his scheduled start last night because of a little case of food poisoning. Good job by Ron Washington to not let Wilson pitch; the last thing the grounds crew needs is to clean up diarrhea on the mound, right Chan Ho?


    Oakland A's submariner Brad Ziegler and a select group of his bros hit up the finest Japanese cuisine in the central business district of Seattle. Nothing beats corporate hibachi! And don't fret, poor Tyson Ross didn't have to empty his pocketbook for all those teriyaki shrimps.


    John Baker is totally in awe of the twenty-first century. Technology is moving forward at such a speedy rate now that almost every day, something new and exciting happens. Oh, modern life, will you ever cease to amaze John Baker?


    Stud Rays pitcher David Price is wise beyond his years. He's like the ancient Sphinx, challenging his followers with riddles so they can use their minds to solve his enigmatic riddles. Friend, see if you can solve the riddle of the Southpaw Sphinx! (and click here for the dumb answer)


    Indians pitcher David Huff has a hankering for sushi, a filthy mind, and abrasively curt comic timing. He's like the Dane Cook of rookie pitchers, except talented.


    Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu may be new to Twitter but he's already got this whole micro-blogging social media thing down. Not only does he entertain and excite his followers by Tweeting what he's eating, he also does it bilingually. El Come Dulce, indeed!


    Finally, our favorite curmudgeonly old fart Tommy Lasorda isn't letting the early baseball season interfere with his lucrative speaking schedule, and it's no surprise. I hear the SWAT people put out a great spread of antipasto and cheap red wine. Thatsa spicy curveball! Youknowwhaddahemeans?


    Scott Stapp, who I know I'm supposed to hate but couldn't figure out why until Wikipedia told me he was in that horrible band Creed, is a huge Marlins fan. Stapp did the entire world a favor below as he rewrote one of his terrible songs, "You Will Soar", to honor the Fightin' Lorias.

    If memory serves me right, Creed was one of those Christian 'rock' bands who refused to pigeonhole themselves as such, but still wrote simplistic three-chord songs about getting lifted up to heaven after the reckoning. Marlins player, Jesus freak, and recurring star of This Tweet in Baseball Chris Coghlan must be enthused.

    The poor quality video is embedded below. Please to...enjoy?


    And if that isn't enough to shatter your eardrums and make you lose all faith in humanity, watch Stapp 'sing' the National Anthem before the Marlins home opener earlier this week:


    (thanks for the link, Matt_T)

    Tonight's Quick Question

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    • IS there anything in the world better than a comely young lass, assorted meat products, and the inside of Miller Park?

    Didn't think so. Lots of good stuff happened today; B.J. Upton hit two tater tots to support David Price's win over the Orioles, Kosuke Fukudome completed a four-run, 8th inning Cubs rally with the game-winning RBI single over the Brewers, and new Angels closer Fernando Rodney recorded a 1-2-3 save against the bottom of the Yankees lineup.

    Get ready for more baseball tonight in your local viewing area, and then come back here tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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    • Angels at Yankees: 1:05: The Yankees have been knocking the ball around pretty good, and today will face Joel Pineiro, a man who knows from getting knocked around. In the AL, anyway. Not that his counterpart, Javier Vasquez had the most sparkling of season debuts giving up 8 in 5.2 against Tampa. Expect another long afternoon in the Bronx. Bonus prediction! Also expect lots of fat guys in the stands.

    • Royals at Tigers, 1:05: Rubba dub in Detroit. Rick Porcello makes his second afternoon start of the season. Kyle Davies goes for KC. Cats are tied atop the NL Central with the Twins at 6-2. You're already watching a pennant race, kids.

    • Red Sox at Twins, 1:10: And here are those aforementioned Twins hosting the Sox for game two of this series. Apparently opening a new stadium was so exciting they needed a day off to recover. Turnstile rash can be a real bear. John Lackey takes on Kevin Slowey. It's Lackey's second consecutive start as a sort of "stopper" following lackluster starts by Jon Lester. Like every other pitcher in baseball, Lackey has a tough time getting Joe Mauer out. Ol' Sideburn Sally is 9-fer-20 lifetime against him with 2 HR.

    Other games of note: Rays at Orioles (1:35), Brewers at Cubs (2:20), and Pirates at Giants (3:45). Do with those what you will.

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    While the national unemployment rate miserably hovers around the ten percent mark in this Xtremest of Depressions, one name stands out among the huddled masses yearning to make bank: professional hitter Jermaine Dye. The thirty-six-year-old Dye clobbered 27 ding-dongs last year as a White Sock and has amassed 325 homers in his 14 year career. His career OPS+ of 111 is no joke and heck, he even won a Gold Glove back during the Clinton administration.

    But now, Dye can not obtain gainful employment. He could not agree on a contract with the power-hungry Nationals and his former teammates are desperate to see him back in the game. Dye openly campaigned for a job with the worsening offense out in Seattle, but was dismissed. Even Dye's former manager Ozzie Guillen chimed in on Jermaine's lack of prospects while figuring out where to grab a bite to eat.

    And now, most outspoken infielder and elderly gadabout Orlando Hudson has taken it upon himself to connect the Dye dots to racism. Via Yahoo's Jeff Passan:

    "You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson said Monday. "Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can't get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You've got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can't get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job. ...

    "We both know what it is. You'll get it right. You'll figure it out. I'm not gonna say it because then I'll be in [trouble]."

    Calling out owners for being racist is a polarizing subject that not many pro athletes dare touch on, so kudos to Hudson for even broaching the topic. Is he right? Like the existence of collusion, it's not something we can prove easily; what we can prove is this: Jermaine Dye has old person skills and no team really needs someone who is all power and nothing else. Heck, even Corey Patterson can at least play above-average defense.

    Even Dye's best skill took a downward turn last season: he slugged an abominably low .297 after the All Star break and collected a career-low 19 doubles for the year.

    That doesn't excuse MLB from keeping dudes like Kenny Lofton, Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas from getting work in their later years. These wildly-popular African-American players had serviceable skills well into their 40s but couldn't find a good-paying job. Shame that Dye's prospects have shriveled up before he even turned 37 but maybe his employment problems don't stem from racism, but rather a limited skill set.

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    If you tuned into the very start of the Podcast last night (instead of watching Lost like a dork or napping like me) you heard a few minutes of electric play by play as Rob and Drew followed along with Ricky Romero's no hit bid against the White Sox. Alex Rios, a former Blue Jay that has been an object of much derision in Toronto over the last couple seasons and at the very least a topic for spirited discussion elsewhere, stepped to the plate with one down in the 8th. He launched a two run ding dong to deepest darkest left, and there went Romero's no-no.

    Now back to that derision. Rios has taken the high road when it comes to the scrutiny he took in Toronto, much of it asinine. But that was probably the smartest thing for a guy to do after he signs a $69M contract extension and his numbers promptly take a small dive. Of course, none of it went unnoticed by Rios' manager Ozzie Guillen who, pregame yesterday, threatened to beat up a child to support his player. Remember this?

    In the video, a kid is trying to get an autograph, and then an adult starts yelling stuff at Rios when he apparently refused.

    "If you put yourself in Alex Rios' shoes, that kid is lucky it wasn't Ozzie,'' Guillen said. "I would beat the [crap] out of him and the guys. Because the way they approached him to go to that point, is not the way to approach a human being. They were making fun of him.

    "I swear to God, I'll be in jail right now. Because the people surrounding him were harassing him and I don't think they approached him the right way. They forgot. I saw the YouTube with his wife next to him. People think they can do whatever they want with celebrities, 'Oh, us poor people, whoever makes money or whoever a celebrity is.' That's not right.''

    Alright, then. For his part, Rios was quoted in that same story continuing to say things like "It wasn't my choice to leave here, they [waived] me, but it's all good. It's part of the game. It keeps the game exciting," and as for the boos said "I don't mind it. I had it many times here, so I'm kind of used to it.'' Even last night after the game, Rios said he had mixed emotions about his tot because Romero is a friend.

    We can take Rios at face value and believe that the home run would have felt good (or not even that good, since the White Sox still lost) against any other team, and we can also discount the true weight of how much he should even mean to us given the disproportionately loud voice that the Jays Internet Diaspora carries. There are certainly guys who have done less to earn their money over the past two years and escaped much of the heat. But it's way more fun to buy into Rios vs. the Boo Birds and the age old revenge fantasy it conjures.

    And it's also fun to imagine Ozzie Guillen in jail.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, the tongue is a sword.

    Yes, by clicking that link tonight at 9 you will be treated to the sweet music of Rob, Drew and me discussing 4 baseball topics and 1 non baeball topic in the fashion that we've been doing for well over a year now. Also we encourage you to call to either chime in or discuss something completely off topic until we hang up on you. The number is, as always, (347) 843-4807. Do join us. Same WoW frequency. You too, RZA.

    wow.liveglog.arod.jpg Today, Alex Rodriguez gets his World Series championship ring.

    A-Rod has been one of the best players in the game for a while now. But after signing that $252 million deal with Texas in 2001, he became a hated man. Mainly because of the money? Definitely.

    Of course, there's a lot to dislike about A-Rod. Steroids (or at least being dumb enough to get caught), I guess, and he's a Yankee. But he's been pretty reviled for a three-time MVP and a guy who apparently wears Lucky Brand instead of Ed Hardy (see photo). And as recently as a year ago people were saying the Yankees needed a guy more like Scott Brosius than Rodriguez. Stupid people, of course, but people nonetheless.

    So: Today, A-Rod gets his World Series ring, something a lot of people said he'd never get, and maybe he can throw a pie in the face of all the Yankee fans who've hated him since he joined the team. It would be nice to say.

    That being said, this day is going to suck. I hate the Yankees, I'm in a bad mood and I am short on sleep. Come hate with me on a special CoverItLive live game chat (sorry, Kris!) after the jump.

    TODAY'S AFTERNOON GLOG

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    liveglog.jpgI just wrote a whole afternoon preview post with stats and jokes and the whole thing got erased. Thanks for autosaving a big page of NOTHING, Movable Type. Anyway, DMac is glogging the Angels/Yankees game at 1:05. BE HERE!! Blazers optional.

    The Naturals, a Royals minor league affiliate located in the armpit of Arkansas, tries to do the right thing for homeless canines by endorsing the "Iams Adoptable Pet of the Game". They parade a dog from a local animal shelter on the field between innings and hope that some broad in the stands oohs and aahs enough to adopt it. During a recent promotion, one of these pups got loose from his handler and decided to return to the field so he could let everyone in the park know just how he felt about the team:


    Whoops! In related news, here's some gal showing the world just how obedient her dog is:


    (via Flubby's The Sugar Sheet and Big League Stew)

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    The giant left field scoreboard that helpfully takes up a bunch of empty space at (I'll give you five seconds to come up with the name of the place... time's up) Sun Life stadium has been hilariously referred to as The Teal Monster. But so far this season it's name has been Mudd. You see, the thing done broke. And no one wants to pony up the cash to fix it.

    The left field National League and American League out of town scoreboards and starting lineup displays are no more at Sun Life Stadium. The two main panels are covered with massive advertisements for the MLB Network. A dorky picture of Billy the Marlin holding up a glove and an ad for the Marlins Community Foundation occupy the spaces where the lineups used to be posted.

    Dating back to last season several bulbs were either malfunctioning or broken. Stadium and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross deemed it too expensive to fix. As lame duck tenants, the Marlins certainly aren't going to put so much as a dime into a facility they will vacate after the 2011 season.

    Now what you're probably thinking is, "Well I guess that makes sense, why should Loria put that money into the stadium that he shares with another team when he's leaving anyway." You're probably thinking that because you're a dummy. Or a Republican.

    THE MARLINS ARE THE ONLY TEAM PLAYING IN THAT STADIUM RIGHT NOW AND FANS SHOULD HAVE A COOL OUT OF TOWN SCOREBOARD AND JEFFREY LORIA IS A QUIZILLIONAIRE. FIX IT, SCROOGE MCDUCK.

    What a bum. Who wants to bet they play the second half of this year with the electricity, water and cable shut off? Heading to the park? Bring a pee bucket! Wouldn't hiring a few guys to twist in some new lightbulbs fulfill Loria's destiny as The Great Job Creator?

    First Marlins fans have to deal with the indignity of MLB monitoring the front office so they don't get fleeced, now they can't even comfortably follow the out of town teams that don't have frigid, soulless owners. This is always one of the signs you're supposed to look for in a toxic relationship. When the abusive partner cuts you off from your social circle. It's happening, Fish fans.

    If the scoreboard stays broken due to Loria's crippling neglect we here at Walkoff Walk will hold a fundraiser to get the following scrolling billboard erected at historic Sun Life stadium.

    JEFFREY LORIA
    IS A SLUMLORD CROOK


    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, needs more berries.

    • WHO will have the homiest opening? Toronto, Seattle, or San Diego? I'm not sure, the girls in those towns always seemed cute to me. Oh, HOMIEST.

    • WILL Barry Zito turn in another solid start even though he's not pitching against the Astros?

    • WHAT do Stephen Strasburg, Arolidis Chapman, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have in common? They all play sports! Yeah I thought it was going to be more compelling than that, too.

    • IS your preferred team in this new college baseball Top 25? Mine is ranked 7th which means they're in perfect position to once again enter the postseason highly ranked and then be bounced early. I love consistency.

    I can fight ten cops! Same WoW channel.
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    • Royals at Tigers, 1:05: The Tigers are off to a 5-1 start and have the good fortune of playing the Royals for the second time in this young season. Max Scherzer, who pitched 6 innings of one hit ball against KC (in what turned out to be Detroit's only loss) gets another crack today. Luke Ho Shaver starts for the Royals.

    • Brewers at Cubs, 2:20: Laverne and Shirley must have put in some overtime at the Old Style factory this weekend getting ready for today's Wrigley home opener. I'd say there are a lot of Cubs fans playing hooky today, but the late Lee Elia reminds us that none of them have jobs anyway. The woeful Cubs offense will at least get to take its cracks against Doug Davis, reminding me of the old joke about the abused child a judge he wanted to go live with Doug Davis because he can't beat anyone. Ryan Dempster on the hill for Chicago.

    • Rangers at Indians, 3:05: Fausto Carmona may need to take a few pointers from Faust on making a deal to win today's game. In 8 starts against Texas, dude has allowed 62 baserunners and 27 ER in 40 IP. ANd the rangers took rubber from Seattle over the weekend with 18 runs in that 3 game series. Rich Harden needs to be more efficient in his second Rangers start after walking 5 through 3.2 his first time out this year. Every inning counts with that guy.

    • Nationals at Phillies, 3:05: Fresh off a weekend of slapping around the hapless Astros, Washington comes to town looking like the '27 Yankees in comparison. They took 2 out of 3 from the Mets over the weekend and handed Philly their only loss, a 6-5 squeaker last Thursday. Riggleman? No, Rigglemania. It'll be Jason Marquis vs. Whole Camels. Ryan Zimmerman out for a second consecutive game with a creampuffed hammy. I'd expect lots of people in Philly to be playing hooky for the home opener, but well, you know.

    • Red Sox at Twins, 4:10: It's the regular season debut of Target Field and all it's various foodstuffs. It's 57 and sunny today in the Twin Cities making the weather just about as nice as anywhere outdoor baseball is playing today. So pour that down your pop hole, naysayers. Jon Lester takes on former Sox farmhand and Yankee legend, Carl Pavano.

    • Astros at Cardinals, 4:15: The bottom feeding Astros are in town for the Cards home opener, which is like when major college football teams schedule tiny 1-AA schools for their homecoming games. Wandy Rodriguez takes the hill for the visitors against Adam Wainwright. Barring anything unusual, like the Astros scoring a run, The Best Fans In Baseball™ should be cramming multiple chili dogs through grins.

    Veteran pitcher Chan Ho Park had a - como si dice? ah yes - shitty Yankees debut last Sunday night in Fenway Park (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, blown save), but he followed it up with some quality relief innings against the Sox on Wednesday (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, win). So how to explain such a disparity when he faced the exact same team twice? Huh?

    For some answers, we turn to the post-game interview he pooped out for the beat writers in the clubhouse:


    Oh, it all makes sense now. I believe this is what the kids are calling an "overshare" nowadays.

    (via Can't Stop the Indie Rock Bleeding among others)

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    Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly was in situ for perhaps the most important event of an otherwise splendid sports weekend: a group interview with baseball's most hated home run king Barry Bonds. Bonds reunited with fellow teammates from the 2000 NL West champion Giants at AT&T Park yesterday and the beat writers were granted a whopping 6 and a half minutes to spend with the deposed slugger. The entire interview transcript is online, but let's focus on the three biggest revelations.

    Q: Been swinging a bat?

    A: Actually, I went down to Florida to work out with Ryan Howard during the wintertime and coached him a little bit and he's doing very, very well and hasn't said one thing about me yet. (Laughs.) But I love him and I'm glad he's doing well.

    Interesting, Bonds worked with one of the most high-profile sluggers in the biz over the winter and we're not finding out about it until today? Why wasn't Meech following RyHo around with a Flip cam and a enormous oversized butterfly net all December long? But most importantly, one can surely sense Bonds' Dangerfieldian frustration that Howard had not given him any credit (until now) for a fast start in 2010 (3 HR, 1.462 OPS).

    Later in the interview, when prodded if a job in coaching is in his future, Bonds says that "God gave me a gift and it's nice to let someone else see what God has given to me". So let it be known that Ryan Howard's early season success is an immaculate blessing from above.

    Q: What was your reaction to Mark McGwire's steroid admission? (ESPN's Colleen Dominguez wins the question of the day award.)

    A: I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire. I'm proud of him. I have a great relationship through our entire life and career and I'm proud of what he did and I'm happy for him.

    Hear that? It's the sound of a million ham-fisted sports columnists pounding away at a million mustard-stained laptops writing "THEN WHY WON'T YOU ADMIT YOU USED STEROIDS TOO, YOU JACKANAPE" a million times over. Seriously, can we, as a species, separate ourselves from the idea that our artificially-enhanced sports heroes need to make the big steroid admission and produce a teary-eyed apology? It's just embarrassing for all parties involved. Especially the parties who demand an apology and then criticize it for not being authentic enough.

    I, too, am proud of McGwire, but not for his steroid admission, but rather because his role as hitting coach has inspired Yadier Molina to hit a whopping two home runs in the first week of the season.

    In somewhat related news: Marvin Benard admits steroid use OMG!

    Q: The Players' Association is preparing a collusion case against MLB. To what extent do you plan to be a part of that case?

    A: You know what, I'm sorry brother, this is the first time I heard about this. First time. I'm sorry, brother. I'd help you out but I can't.

    This is the nugget I'm most excited about. Don't take my enthusiasm to mean that I think Bonds is lying, but he has most likely shaken his fist at collusion and he is DEFINITELY going to be the star witness of that court case. Can you imagine! Barry Bonds sitting on the witness stand, pointing at Bill Neukom, Brian Sabean and Bud Selig at the defendant's table, and shouting, "Them! It's because of them I had no job!"

    And then Zombie Johnnie Cochrane produces a batting helmet that just doesn't fit on Bonds' head, and then Ben Matlock fingers Jeff Loria as the real murderer, and then Columbo comes in and says, "Just one more thing...," and then Lionel Hutz gives out a business card that expands into a sponge. Okay, so maybe my understanding of MLBPA collusion grievances is somewhat less-than-stellar but you get my point: Barry Bonds is going to bust open some heads in front of the arbitration panel. Objection? Overruled.

    Bonds also doled out some snoozy answers to pointless questions; my only complaint is that nobody asked him if he felt the need to pop Jeff Kent right in the kisser.

    At Rob's behest I'm going to continue with some LOLMLB throughout the season. This is not a weekly/scheduled feature by any stretch of the imagination, but if there are a bunch of good images that lend themselves to bold white textual modifications, it's only fair to capitalize on the low-hanging fruit, right? And boy did the first week of the season ever deliver when it comes to being easily-mockable. Commence waste of bandwidth!

    Even the best play of the young season isn't immune to my immaturity.

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    CHIPPER IS VERY EXCITED!

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    It didn't take long into the 2010 campaign for folks to see how full of FAIL the Royals are as a team.

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    "And I will always...love you."

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    Evan Longoria, the best bargain in baseball, is also an expert at childhood games.

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    Is there anything Joe Mauer can't do? What a dreamboat!

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    Impede Prince Fielder's path at your own risk.

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    Yours in the comments!

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    Holy cow did you see Mickelson's two eagles yesterday? FIGJAM! Oh, right, baseball blog. Here's what you missed while you regretted leaving your mind.

    Yankees 10, Rays 0: On the backs of three ridiculous defensive plays by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano, CC Sabathia took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before a Kelly Shoppach single broke it up prompting two different WoWies to make the exact same joke within mere hours of each other. The real winner in this game last night? Michael Kay.

    Braves 7, Giants 2: As predicted yesterday the Giants lost their first game of the season. Jason Heyward had the best game of his young career, going 3-3 with two walks and hitting his second career homer in the process. The state of Georgia has a lot going for it right now.

    Pirates 6, Diamondbacks 3: Color me surprised. The normally feastly Dan Haren was battered around by our new Pirates overlords. Zach Duke was impressive on the mound and the Diamondbacks didn't even get on the board until this absolute moonshot (!!!) by Mark Reynolds in the 7th frame. Duke is now 2-0 on the season so fire up the Cy Young chatter!

    Red Sox 8, Royals 3: Boston clubbed five homers in this game including 2 by the reanimated corpse of Jason Varitek. Josh Beckett looked a lot better than in Game 1 of the season; facing the Royals will do that for you, I hear. On the other hand, Zack Greinke was positively not himself, allowing half of Boston's runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. The lowest point for Greinke was surrendering homers to Varitek and Jeremy Hermida on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning. Yeesh.

    Marlins 7, Dodgers 6 / Angels 4, Oakland 3: Couple of wild finishes in these two games. The Marlins scored three runs in the ninth to walkoff against the Dodgers, who had to deal with another terrible performance from Vincente Padilla to start the game. Jorge Cantu provided the clinching blow with a sac fly. Meanwhile the other LA team had a better go of it with the newly-acquired Hideki Matsui driving in three runs including the game winner with one out in the ninth.

    Elsewhere! It took 14 innings but the Padres beat the Rockies. Ryan Howard is a very good hitter. Dana Eveland showed off the power of his own girlish name in shutting down the Orioles. Jeremy Bonderman looked pretty darn sharp in a Tigers win. The Mets lost to the NationaLOLs. Minnesota squeaked by the White Sox. Homers abounded in a Cubs win over the Reds.

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    A lot of my fifth starter friends are making their debuts today. Let's just jump right into it!

    Post Lunch Lethargy:The early afternoon games are wholly underwhelming. Carlos Zambrano trots his 54.00 ERA out to the mound against Aaron "BRAINS" Harang. When this is what qualifies as a marquee matchup for the early games, you know something is up. Elsewhere, it's Mitch Talbot/Jeremy Bonderman, Scott Baker/Freddy Garcia and John Lannan/Oliver Perez. Zzzzzz.

    The Return of FOX: That's right folks, depending on where you live, McCarver and Buck may be back to assaulting your eardrums and sense of sanity. At 3:10PM (Note: Sweet time!), the lucky kids might be able to pay homage to King Felix as he makes his second start of the season against the Rangers. Or if you live in the Middle East Midwest, the recently extended Yovani Gallardo is trotting to the hill for his second closeup. Most of us though will get the aforementioned Buck and McCarver calling the Yankees/Rays tilt. CC Sabathia is also undertaking start number two on the year while the Rays turn to their fifth starter, Wade Davis. Surely we can all be forgiven for turning to The Masters today, right?

    Step Back and Here Comes the Nighttime: Everybody is invited to watch Dan Haren make it look easy against the Pirates. Your matchup of the day is Zack Greinke against Josh Beckett at 7:10PM. Josh Johnson looks to improve after a bad first start. His counterpart, Vincente Padilla is simply looking to be less full of FAIL than last time out. Dana Eveland shows off his girl's name against the Orioles. In your last game of the day Todd Wellemeyer looks to keep the Giants record a perfect 5-0 in a matchup against the Braves and will likely fail. This 10:05PM game has the best chance of us getting to see shrimp based on nothing but my own filthy desires and the fact that these two offenses are full of meh.

    Full listing of games and times for your easy reference. Converse among yourselves hither.

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    Remember when Scott Boras and Pat Sajak were visible during an Angels playoff game last year? Now noted former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara sat directly behind home plate at the Astros-Phillies game last night. The second-most hated president with the name of Bush is actually visible during every pitch.

    Weekend Questions

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    Hey kids, you cannot run forever.



    Have a good weeeeeeeekend. I'm gonna watch a lot of golf but first I'm trying to decide whether or not to drive 2.5 hours to go see the Noho Wools tonight. That probably means I'll do it. Anyway, Joba's got you all weekend. We'll see you Monday. Same WoW channel. GO TIGER!

    (Photo of Miguel Cabrera and Andy Van Slyke stolen from Let's Play Two.)

    What's Up Creampuff: Guys Who Got Hurt Pt. 1

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    I wonder what my therapist thinks about me turning Friday into a day for pain. Between Creampuff and the Bat Attack Roundup there's something about today that makes me revel in the ouchies. Actually, my therapist is probably more concerned with the fact that I just stopped going a few months ago and still owe him some money. On with the Marys.

    • Chipper Jones, Braves: OL' CHIP strained his oblique swinging yesterday. Seems like no big deal, and he should only miss a couple games. But this is like the 20 trillionth time it's happened to Lar, giving Fonzie O'Brien enough pause to write "Uh-O" in his headline like a pooping toddler.

    • Felix Pie, Orioles: Felix has a minor rotator cuff strain and will miss a couple games. Snoozy, but also notable for not involving his testicles.

    • Brian Sanches, Marlins: Pulled his hamstring leading to this diagnosis from Dr. Fredi Gonzalez:"Usually when it's higher up, it can be more severe than in the middle of the hamstring, or lower," Gonzalez said. Thanks, dude. I wouldn't trust Fredi Gonzalez to pour me a dose of Dimetapp.

    • Orlando Hudson, Twins: Hudson left last nights game but apparently "feels fine after being kneed in the head." That's the same way I'd describe Minnesota taxpayers after seeing how pretty Target Field is.

    • Luis Castillo, Mets: "Castillo, who tweaked his left hand diving into first base on an infield hit Thursday, will not play Friday, but that's due to his calf and not his hand bothering him, the Newark Star-Ledger reports." Meet the Mets!

    • Jeff Niemann, Rays: Done got smoked in the arm by a line drive. Joe Maddon recommends an ice pack and a 2004 Argentinian Malbec.

    • Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers: Just days after his opening day walkoff hit, Salty hits the DL with back pain. Sweet! No finer reward for a job well done than a paid vacation. Enjoy crouching everyday in the Texas heat, Teagarden. Sucker.

    • Aaron Hill, Blue Jays: Hill is out with a tight hamstring. The Blue Jays are replacing him in the lineup with DH Mervin Wells, the heretofore unknown twin brother of Vernon Wells. They're identical except for a mustache and a pair of cheap looking glasses.

    Wild Orphan: Today's Afternoon Games

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    • Indians at Tigers, 1:05: Golden Child Rick Porcello (heeeey, Joey Buttafucco ova eah) makes his season debut. Rick is from Morristown, NJ and so Italian that he sleeps under a blanket of capicola, thus making him the Tigers' own version of Rob Iracane. Porcello is 3-0 in 4 starts against the Indians, allowing but 5 runs in 25 innings. David "Let's Go" Huff "Some Gas" gets the start for the Tigs.

    • Blue Jays at Orioles, 3:05: Brandon Morrow makes his first start as a Blue Jay. Vernon Wells will try and prolong his hot start. PUT YOUR CAP ON BACKWARDS AND HIT THE WAREHOUSE. The Orioles just dropped two of three to the Rays, despite only being outscored by a single run. Brad Bergesen starts for the O's.

    • Padres at Rockies, 4:10: You guys can finally exhale. Clayton Richard and Jorge De La Rosa make their season debuts. Both of these clubs dropped 2 of 3 in their opening series. Please note that Heath Bell is attempting to tag the Padres with the "Why Not Us?" mantra. Well Heath, where would you like us to start?

    • Braves at Giants, 4:35: Arguably the two teams with the most first week hype in the NL. The Braves are 2-1 and riding the wave of excitement that's been brought by Heyward and Hanson (hoo?). The Giants are 3-0 and have gotten stellar pitching thus far. Today they trot out 4th starter Jonathan Sanchez, he of the 2009 no-hitter. This is the one to watch! Unless you're watching The Masters.

    Back in the 1960s, the Dodgers decided to embrace their new home by staging charity baseball games against famous Hollywood celebrities led by crooner and notorious sot Dean Martin. The event continues to this day, but they switched to softball and moved in the fences once marys like Rob Schneider and Carlos Mencia started participating.

    This one, I believe, is the 1965 edition, since Yogi Berra appears in a Mets uniform. Hey, we're all allowed to make little mistakes in life, right? The short clip features such silver screen stars as Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, and you can also see Phyllis Diller french-kissing Dodgers manager Walter Alston in the dugout.


    After the game, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale paired off with Nancy Sinatra and Annette Funicello in Drysdale's Cadillac for some canoodling, while famed midget and Gold Diggers of 1933 star Billy Barty hid in the glovebox.

    Below, here's a clip from an earlier game where the Dodgers couldn't even be bothered to show up so they sent the sportswriters in their place. That's like being promised a Frank Sinatra concert and getting an Andy Williams concert instead. Yecch.


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    Paul Nemeth is many things: a White Sox fan, an emergency room doctor, a father, and most importantly, someone who doesn't appreciate folks knocking boots in a mens room stall on Opening Day:

    On Monday, Nemeth's son had to go, and his father took him to the nearest restroom. They stood in line for the first urinal next to a row of stalls. As they waited, Nemeth said, he noticed noises coming from the last stall. A man's legs -- clad in blue jeans and sneakers -- were sticking out from under the stall door.

    "The toes were pointing up," said Nemeth. "The legs were shaking and quivering. From a visual standpoint, all you had to see was the legs quivering to know something was going on."

    As a trained physician, he had an idea what was happening in there, but he worried it might have been something else.

    "It was bizarre. It caught the attention of a lot of people. I tried to turn my boy's attention away from it, then I thought, 'Is someone having a seizure?'

    "So I kicked the door, just to get a reaction. I just wanted to make sure nobody was dying in there. That's when I heard a woman's voice yell, 'HEY, STOP!' Something was going on and I had interrupted."

    The column is too unintentionally hilarious to comment on every bit of it, so please, go read it and have a field day. The headline itself is too sublime: "Sexual hijinks in Sox Park bathroom taint Opening Day". Taint! Bad word choice, writer John Kass!

    Kass also seems to think that the Sox will now have undercover cops stationed outside every single mens room in the ballpark to ensure this doesn't happen again. Because, you know, there's nothing else going on in Chicago that needs police manpower.

    I will say this much: if I was a proud father bringing my young son to the can at a baseball game and heard this nonsense, my first reaction would be "Okay, kid, let's get out of here and find a different bathroom," not "It sounds like someone's having a very sexy seizure in there! I ought to bang on the door and announce my profession as a doctor and then write a nasty letter to the team and then alert all the newspapers later!"

    (awesomely Photoshopped image by our own DMac; link via Craig Calcaterra)

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    Former home run king Hank Aaron, last seen around these parts taking a backseat to everybody's awesome grandpa Willie Mays, has gone on the record saying that the damn kids today spend much too much effort swatting home runs and not enough time focusing on the fundamentals, you see?

    In an interview with the AP to promote his participation in Atlanta's upcoming Arthritis Walk, Aaron opened up on the bad habits of today's young players:

    "I don't think they understand the role of what they need to be doing. I'm not saying all of them, but I think some players need to understand that they're never going to hit 50 home runs or 45 home runs [a year]. They've got to learn how to hit the ball to the opposite field and do the little things to help their ballclub win championships."

    Aaron didn't directly address the hovering hullabaloo that is HGH and PEDs and whatnot, but by using the sooper-sekrit codeword "shortcut", he makes his anti-McGwirean stance known:

    "No one can tell me that you can consistently hit 60 and 70 homers, because the league is not made that way. This is the big leagues and every team has the best players they can. If you hit 30 home runs, that's fine, but don't think that you will hit 70 home runs because there is no shortcut. Eventually, things are going to catch up with you."

    C'mon, Hank, we know what you're getting at. You're not pissed players are trying to hit too many taters, you're ticked off they're taking "shortcuts" to do it. But that's presuming the players back in Hank's era weren't taking shortcuts too, shortcuts like greenies and uppers and goofballs and pick-me-ups. Players will ALWAYS look for shortcuts; if you told Pat Burrell he could legally avoid second base and just run directly from first to third straight over the pitcher's mound, he'd do it.

    Besides, who is Hank Aaron to tell me that players can't consistently hit 60 homers? The game is far different today than during his heyday. Parks are smaller, the strike zone shrunk, and the increased steroid testing did nothing to stunt home run rates. Players hit about 30-40% more homers now than they did when Aaron played, so maybe it is possible for someone to consistently hit 60 home runs a season; after all, Aaron average 40+ homers for his career had a nice run with 35 or more homers hit per year! (whoops)

    Hammerin' Hank is (almost) the most beloved figure in the game and probably deserves to be free of criticism for his ideas. He's a diplomat, a leader, a teacher, and a gentleman; I just wish he would be cool about the way the game has changed in 40 years and get off the "get off my lawn" soapbox.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, embrace disgrace.

    • WHICH future HoFer will have the better start tonight? Brian Matusz against the Rays or Tommy Hanson against the Cubs? Tampa and Atlanta both have brooms.

    • CAN the much maligned (around here) Indians actually win the season's first series?

    • WHAT do you think about Brewers beat writer Tom Hardricourt's taste in food as exhibited by that video up there? What about the fact that he looks like a roadie for Widespread Panic? Stay loose, Tommy.

    • IS there anyway in hell I won't be at The Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA this summer? Nels Cline demonstrating an interactive guitar pedal exhibit? You'll need a firehose to keep me away.

    What's the dee-yee-yeal with gornuts? We'll see you tomorrow for Creampuff, Classic TV, and all your other Friday favorites. It's almost the weekend, skinny. Same WoW channel.

    Today's Afternoon Games

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    There's a ton of afternoon baseball today! Do your part to lower America's productivity and watch them today instead of working.

    Cardinals at Reds, 12:35 p.m. Brad Penny makes his first start for St. Louis, while the Reds counter with Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is totally going to hit a homer today. Shit. Would you believe a double?

    Dodgers at Pirates, 12:35 p.m. The Pirates are 2-0! The Pirates are 2-0! The last time the Pirates were 2-0, the economy sucked and George W. Bush was president. Okay, so that was only 2007, so let's not print playoff tickets just yet. Ronny Cedeno had a walkoff single last night with the bases loaded. Clearly, he hates this website.

    Blue Jays at Rangers, 2:05 p.m. Oh, look, famous Twitter user str8edgeracer is pitching for the Rangers today. Toronto counters with Ricky Romero, who will be pitching drunk.

    Tigers at Royals, 2:10 p.m. Dontrelle Willis (look how fat he looks in his headshot!) makes his first start of the season against Brian Barrister, constant subject of Joe Posnanski blog posts. Expect a 15-13 game.

    Mariners at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. The Athletics also had a walkoff win last night, when Kurt Suzuki doubled home Kevin Kouzmanoff from first. If the bases had been loaded, Suzuki probably would have taken the four balls, unlike that jerk Cedeno.

    Phillies at Nationals, 4:35 p.m. Ryan Howard, currently on pace for 162 home runs, and the Phils send noted barista Kyle Kendrick to the mound against Craig Stammen. The Phillies lead the league in run differential two games into the season, but they have played the Nationals twice.

    Opening Day has come and gone, but we can still relive our favorite baseball players' Tweets in the latest edition of This Tweet in Baseball. Please join me in poking fun at people whose job description certainly does not include social media and/or using spelling and grammar properly:

    Texas Rangers middle reliever C.J. Wilson wonders why the good people at Twitter took away his 'verified status', making Twitter users worldwide wonder if, indeed, this is the real C.J. Wilson. Here's a hint: if he's talking about weird health foods and silly extreme sports, you know you've got the right guy. Either way: verified status is for closers, C.J.


    Padres slugger Matt Antonelli feels the same way I do about former Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, whose spent the past few days trolling the stands and broadcast booths at Fenway Park. Dude looks like someone's nana.


    Marlins sophomore outfielder Chris Coghlan spent the past week getting his Twitter sheep to vote on a new song to play over the PA as he strolls up to the plate to ground out. In a real dick move, he ended up keeping the same one from last year, but the auditioning process was nevertheless quite stringent:


    Although Big Papi cannot keep his language safe for children's ears when responding to a-hole reporters in the clubhouse, he keeps it clean when dictating his Tweets and Facebook updates to his personal assistant. David Ortiz is a real team player, hyping the success of his team over his own individual failure to actually collect a hit:


    Royals star Billy Butler got a bad haircut so he asked his wife to clean it up with a Flowbee. She really screwed it up, so if you see him walking around looking like it's his first day at Parris Island, you'll know why.


    Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda also wanted to neaten up his 'do for Opening Week, but he went to his favorite dago barber in Midtown New York. I do have to agree with Tom, though: Italian barbers are the best. Where else can you get your quiff trimmed, place a bet on a few horse races, and page through the latest issues of Penthouse and Hustler, all in one place?


    Marlins catcher John Baker was also in NYC for the week and was very disappointed to find out that his favorite Broadway show was canceled due to an electrical fire down the block. No worries, John took a romantic carriage ride through Central Park with Jorge Cantu instead.


    Finally, I know it's not politically correct to poke fun at someone whose first language is not English. I realize that having a laugh at Ozzie Guillen's expense because he made a tiny spelling mistake on a Tweet is probably quite infantile of me. And yes, I get it: I'm just cherry-picking a silly slip-up from an otherwise smart manager to make me look funny. So be it, I couldn't help but laugh:


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    Is there anything we bloggers love more than a misspelling on a professional athlete's uniform? No way, we jump on meaningless mistakes like this with fervor, especially when they happen to baseball's favorite punchline of a team. Well, if the "Natinals" letter stitcher got canned last year, he found a new job across the country.

    The latest victim of the dreaded sartorial gaffe? The Giants' infielder Eugenio Velez, whose road jersey incorrectly read S-A-N F-R-A-N-C-I-C-S-O during the Giants' 10-4 win over the struggling Astros. San Fran-cic-so? That place doesn't exist! I doubt anyone noticed; his was the only one of 25 players to have letters transposed on the front of his shirt, and half of the population in the greater Houston area can't read above a fifth grade level anyway

    "No, no, I didn't know," he told The Associated Press by cell phone from the team bus on the way to the airport. "That's the first I've heard."

    "Increible!" the Dominican backup said in Spanish.

    Wait, the AP spelled 'incredible' wrong.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, use it or freeze it.

    .

    I hope you all have a wonderful evening. Unless you're one of the people in the above video setting a world record in a Hideki Matsui snuggie. Then I just hope that one day you find both the peace and companionship that you are clearly in dire need of. Bon soir, baby. Same WoW channel.

    One thing I learned while watching a bunch of baseball games over the past two days is some people in this fine country don't yet have Xfinity! They're stuck with boring old Comcast.

    Xfinity, for those of you who have not yet been xfinitized, is simply Comcast's new brand name for its phone, TV and internet services. (Yes, it's a particularly hilarious name.)

    And apparently Cole Hamels is shilling for Xfinity now in an ad filmed in some sort of all-white baseball abyss. Hamels is already in fine form this season. Last year, he would only have hit one of those plates.

    Muerte De Antoñito El Camborio: Today's Afternoon Games

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    • Rockies at Brewers, 1:10 PM: Rubber in Milwaukee with Aaron Cook taking the hill for the visitors and Doug Davis defending the house. Old Guy punchline Jim Edmonds could make people stop snickering. He's 9 for 16 in his career against Cook with 3 ding dongs. Miller vs. Coors, who ya got? Pete Coors is a facist.

    • Giants at Astros, 2:05 PM: No longer the FACE OF THE FRANCHISE, Matt Cain is still an above average third starter and looks to continue the SF rotation's solid start. Lincecum and Zito powered the team through the first two games and pass the broom to Cain like a baton. Slackjawed yokel simpleton Brett Myers takes the hill for Houston.

    wow.polanco.gianthead.jpg Things went pretty well on Opening Day for the Phillies on Monday. They won 11-1, Roy Halladay went 7 innings and struck out 9, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer and even Rule 5 pick David Herndon closed out the game with a scoreless inning in his first major league appearance. Jayson Stark wrote about Halladay, of course, but he also wrote about off-season acquisition Placido Polanco.

    Polanco (right, head made even more monstrous for my own amusement) had a pretty good first day, too; he went 3-for-5 with 6 RBI and a run scored. His grand slam in the top of the 7th inning made it 11-1. But get this: Polanco had a negative WPA for the game. (Fangraphs has him at -.027, while Baseball-Reference has him at -.029.)

    So how'd this happen? First, a quick primer: WPA, which became kind of trendy last season, stands for Win Probability Added. You know those fancy live win expectancy graphs on Fangraphs? Well, each play adds or subtracts from a team's chances (in percentage) of winning a game. So each player gets either a positive or negative WPA after each plate appearance. Add up all those plays for one player, and you get a guy's WPA for a game. (WPA is one of the simplest advanced stats, I think, unless I completely screwed this up. In which case it's the most complicated!)

    Polanco's WPA was negative on Monday because he didn't do much when the game was close. He flied out to foul territory in right field in the first and grounded out with a runner on in the third. By the time he came to the plate in the fourth, the Phillies were up 4-1 and were already almost at 90 percent likely to win the game. When he capped the Phillies' five-run fourth with a sacrifice fly, Polanco actually recorded negative WPA for the play. When he hit his slam in the 7th, the Phils were already 99 percent likely to win.

    Does this mean Polanco's day was worthless for the Phils? Of course not. Not that the Nationals were going to come back anyway, but a 10-run lead certainly made it more likely that Roy Halladay would get the rest of the day off after seven innings. And getting 6 RBI in the first game with a new club has to do wonders for Polanco's confidence (+1.029 Confidence Added!).

    But I do think looking at WPA can teach us a lot about how strange this game is. With one swing, Ryan Howard accumulated more WPA than Polanco could get all game, even though the Phillies new third baseman hit a slam later in this one. What can we take from this? Situations matter. Luck matters. And sometimes 6 RBI might not be as impressive as 2 RBI, in a way.

    Wake Up And Catch Meat

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    Via the friendly, yet mildly psychotic folks at With Leather comes your 6:30 wake up call. It's a between inning promo from PNC Park (home of The Heist). It involves shooting hot dogs and catching meat and is sure to spoil whatever breakfast you may attempt to eat. PIRATES FANS, HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, memories and drinks don't mix too well.

    • WILL Jon Lester and AJ Burnett fare a little better than their staff "aces" did on Sunday night? And WILL the second game of this Yanks/Sox series be nearly as exciting as the first?

    • WILL the Rays begin their not under the radar under the radar 2010 campaign against the perennial doormat but not expected to be the doormat this year Orioles?

    • CAN Barry Zito continue on the upward trajectory he started with last year's semi-bounceback season? Faint praise, as it would have been hard for him to get much worse, but we'll see. Maybe that old salt Lincecum and his two Cy Youngs are finally rubbing off on the headstrong youngster.

    • WANT to read a sportswriter that makes Dave Barry look like Richard Pryor? Look no further than beat writer Henry Schulman's new blog. Hope you've had enough time to warm up your tomato throwing arm.

    • DO you think the Twins are going to lose all their games on purpose until they get to open Target Field? That would be sentimental and sweet but also kind of dumb. Just like Twins fans. ZING. They've got Joe Saunders in game two of their series with the Angels tonight.

    • DO you think a Jason Heyward jersey would look good underneath a leather jacket? Only one man knows for sure: Arthur Fonzarelli O'Brien.

    • HOW will Edwin Jackson fare in his first start as a Diamondback against the Padres? And WILL Florida State Seminole Stephen Drew have another inside the park home run?

    • DID The Colonel know what he was getting into when he started that beatwriter/food contest thing? Who knows, but he sounds exhausted now that it's over. Meech won. No surprise there. Philly knows their fat people.

    Well that's it for us. This is the only thing I've written all day but there should be enough in there to insult a good portion of our readers. My work here is done. Afternoon games tomorrow, but no Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club just yet. You've got another week to get your blazers drycleaned.

    Happy 73rd Birthday, Merle Haggard!

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    Baseball without food is like square dancing without the Allemande Left. Sure, you can do it, but you'll undoubtedly get that aching feeling that something very important is missing. No worries, we here at Walkoff Walk want nothing more than to help you fill your bellies while you attend your favorite ballparks in 2010. Even better, we want to tell you what new stuff is cookin' and where you can come 'n' git it.

    Last year, we barely even skimmed the culinary surface of stadiumfoodeatery. Thanks to the savvy gourmands we call "commenters," we had a great discussion about provolone and beer and whatnot to fill in the cracks. Lucky for us, Scoreboard Gourmet has been on the ballpark concession beat for long enough now that we can enjoy tasty bites here and head over there for the full buffet.

    Relax, doddering traditionalists. Nobody is taking your precious hot dogs and peanuts away from the concourses. Enough of your caterwauling about what "real" baseball fans do and do not eat. Baseball is not about staid devotion to the same boring tradition for tradition's sake; it's about expansion! Expansion of leagues, expansion of tastes, and expansion of bellies. How else can you explain these many new delicacies that MLB teams are newly offering?

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    Out at CitiField, the Mets and Esca chef Dave Pasternack have introduced a Crab-Cake Sandwich (photo source) to the Catch of the Day stand. Some other new items include Peking Duck Bun, Lasagna Bolognese and an entire stand devoted to gluten-free pudding. Of course.

    Down I-95 in Philly, the fans got the chance to vote for a signature hot dog at Citizens Bank Park for the 2010 season. The candidates included The South Philly, an all-beef frank topped with broccoli rabe, spicy roasted peppers and sharp provolone on an Italian roll, The Olde Philadelphia topped with pepper hash, dill pickle and yellow mustard on a poppy-seed roll, and The Citizens Bank Park Summer Hot Dog, topped with cucumbers, pickled onion salsa and ancho pepper sauce on a pretzel roll. Be careful, Philadelphians. You don't have such a great track record with heated hot dog situations.

    As so thoroughly dissed by the culinarily-immature Paul Daugherty, the Reds are introducing sushi rolls to the slack-jawed yokels at the Great American Ball Park. Note well that Cincinnatians are now allowed to consume actual raw sushi at baseball parks; only smoked salmon and shitty California rolls will be sold. With today's flash-freezing technology, delicious raw sushi can be flown in anywhere. But I suppose I wouldn't trust Midwesterners to transport said fish from the loading docks outside Dusty Baker's office either.

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    Out in Pittsburgh, the fans prefer to indulge on - how do I say this without sounding cruel - heftier concessions, such as the Victory Knot pretzel. The behemoth is accompanied by three different dipping sauces - chipotle honey mustard, sweet cinnamon cream and beer cheese - and is served in an actual pizza box. It weighs approximately as much as your neighbor's Yorkie and contains enough carbs to power a small studio apartment for a week. Don't fret, Pittsburgh is not the only place you can snag the Big F**king Pretzel. Fans in Chicago, Arizona, and Washington can also go wayyy off their diets with the doughy delight.

    And if you're at Nationals Park and want a bit more protein to accompany your carbohydrates, try the Chicken and Waffles, one of many new concessions introduced by the Nats in 2010. Chicken and waffles is one of those magical culinary marriages like chocolate and peanut butter, or sardines and whole grain mustard, but this one has quite an interesting backstory. Some nutritional anthropologists trace its origin to the Jazz Age of the 1930s while other go even further to the eighteenth century, when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. Either way, fried chicken + waffles + cayenne syrup = NOM.

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    And then there's Target Field. The new open-air ballpark in Minneapolis had its unofficial debut this past weekend and it's the food that's getting all the raves, not Justin Morneau's new no-iron cotton Dockers. Some of the classic Minnesota State Fair selections include barbecued Turkey Legs, pork-chops-on-a-stick, walleye-on-a-spike, and veggie kabobs. You can get wild rice soup, hamburgers stuffed with braised short rib and smoked gouda cheese, or Tony Oliva's authentic Cuban sandwiches.

    If your idea of haute ballpark cuisine is more gastropub and taqueria than broiled meat on sticks, then the two new Traci des Jardins restaurants attached to AT&T Park are for you. In the spot that once housed the upscale Acme Chophouse comes two new San Fran ballpark restos: Public House, with its modern twist on ballpark fare and Mijita, a proper taqueria. Public House also features twenty-four locally-sourced beers on tap while Mijita will have tasting flights among the 60 different tequilas behind the bar.

    And with a lineup that features Aubrey Huff batting cleanup, Giants fans will need all the tequila flights they can get their hands on.

    Special thanks again to Sara Pepitone at Scoreboard Gourmet. Please add her to your RSS readers and follow her on Twitter!

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    Opening Day is officially in the books now with the home teams winning seven games and dropping six. The San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves are riding high in first place; the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers are "slumping" in last. Here's some things I noticed from Our Favorite Sport's first day:

    • Batting in the five spot, new Milwaukee outfielder and old fart Jim Edmonds went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in three plate appearances with runners in scoring position. This was one of several reasons the gents on the MLB Network spent a good three minutes talking about why Brewers manager Ken Macha is on the hot seat. Someone get Catshirt on the phone.

    • With the bases loaded, one out and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia kept us from enjoying the shrimp on Opening Day by lofting a lazy fly ball over a drawn-in outfield to win the game. The game's loser, Jason Frasor, walks approximately four batters per nine innings, so Jarrod deserves our scorn for not being a bit more patient.

    • I'd like to see you try to throw a baseball while wearing Kevlar body armor underneath a gaudy red jacket, smartass.

    • Jason Heyward (seen above killing a baseball) has deposited a tidy sum of goodwill into his personal account with a debut game that included said a tater tot and four RBI. Heyward could (and possibly will) finish the year with a less-than-spectacular slugging percentage and more strikeouts than most Braves fans want, but he's already earned the respect and adulation of many an Atlanta supporter already.

    • Speaking of the Braves, Bobby Cox, the team's longtime manager due to retire at the end of the season, was honored before Atlanta's game with the Cubs. After receiving a resounding standing ovation, he posed for photos with opposing skipper Lou Piniella and the game's umpiring crew. That'd be like O.J. Simpson and Fred Goldman posing for a post-trial picture with Judge Lance Ito, which, now that I reconsider that famewhore Ito, very well could have happened.

    • New Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco quietly collected six RBI, becoming just the 14th MLBer to drive in at least that many runs on Opening Day. As per stud commenter NJPAnick, the all-time Opening Day record is seven RBI, held by Brant Alyea (1970) and WoW patron saint Corey Patterson (2003). That's some heady company, Plassy.

    • Mark Buehrle is a man among boys. He probably clinched the 2010 American League Gold Glove Award for pitchers in one fell swoop. (via Dmac)

    • Finally, and most importantly, the 2010 PNC Heist tickets arrived via the good people at FedEx. If you reserved tickets for the event and haven't paid me yet, I will hunt you down and hold your lawn ornaments hostage until you do.

    So what was your favoritest part about Opening Day?

    Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Your Late Games

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    Been quite a day so far. 29 taters in all. Notably: 2 from Pujols, 2 from Garrett Jones, 1 from Jason Heyward in his first AB, 1 from Ryan Howard, 1 from Vernon Wells (it's an on year!) and 1 from Mark DeRosa who I made fun of earlier.

    I'm gonna switch to the NCAA game, but I want to leave you with your lineups for Mariners at A's and Twins at Angels. Both those games are starting up now. I bid good evening to all you West Coast WoWies and those of you just staying up till the last light of Opening Day has faded. Thanks for spending it with us, and we'll see you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

    Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Giants at Astros, 7:05

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    Hours after Zack Grienke looked pretty good against the Tigers (though KC is currently blowing it), last year's other Cy takes the mound leading punchless Giants against the loveless Astros. The punchless comment refers to last year's Grande squad, since they've ostensibly turned a new page with Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa at the 4-5 providing protection to Obesibear or whatever it is the clever kids are calling Pablo Sandoval these days. Huff is hoping a move to the AL will help him channel the halcyon days of 2008 when he played way over his head. A move to Detroit last year certainly didn't.

    Rickety Roy Oswalt is braving age and a failing body to make his club record8th consecutive Opening Day start for the Astros. If he has trouble staying healthy again this year, it could be nearing the end for the best pitcher in franchise history (his overall numbers are much better than Nolan Ryan's in an Astros uni) and one of the best overall of our generation. Hey, it's Opening Day, why is Liakos reflecting on the totally hypothetical end of Roy Oswalt's career instead of the long winding road of a new season?THE TOMMY MANZELLA ERA STARTS NOW.

    HUGEALDRINS
    Aaron Rowand, CFKaz Matsui, 2B
    Edgar Renteria, SSHunter Pence, RF
    Pablo Sandoval 3BCarlos Lee, LF
    Aubrey Huff 1BGeoff Blum, 1B
    Mark DeRosa, 2BPedro Feliz, 3B
    Benji Molina, CJ.R. Towles, C
    John Bowker, RFTommy Manzella, SS
    Juan Uribe, LFKelly Johnson, 2B
    Tim Lincecum, PRoy Oswalt, P
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    You may think the importance of this game lies somewhere between the season debut of ace Dan Haren and what may be the start of Adrian Gonzalez' curtain call as a Padre. But you'd be wrong. No, today is all about DICK ENBERG returning to the booth to call baseball games once again. Oh, my! Enberg is staying classy by doing the play-by-play on Channel 4 in San Diego. There will be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and (Jon) garlands of fresh herbs. I don't know how to put this but he's kind of a big deal. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Great Odin's raven!

    Moving to sunny San Diego in the twilight of his career to live out his days announcing pitching changes and scoring decisions...you'd do the same damn thing if you were 82 years old. Just watch out for earthquakes, Dick!

    Oh, this game started an hour ago.

    DADSSNAKES
    Tony Gwynn, CFConor Jackson, LF
    David Eckstein, 2BStephen Drew, SS
    Adrian Gonzalez, 1BJustin Upton, RF
    Kyle Blanks, LFAdam LaRoche, 1B
    Chase Headley, 3BMark Reynolds, 3B
    Will Venable, RFMiguel Montero, C
    Nick Hundley, CChris Young, CF
    Everth Cabrera, SSKelly Johnson, 2B
    Jon Garland, PDanny Haren, P

    chipper.jpg

    Most of the talk surrounding this game has to do with only one of the two teams: The Braves. On the one hand you have Bobby Cox undertaking the first game of his last official season as manager of the team. On the other hand, the baseball world is positively agog over the arrival of Jason Heyward, the guy that folks are nearly unanimous in picking as their NL Rookie of the Year.

    If Heyward doesn't have at least three hits in this game (And he already has a homer! Whee!), look for much wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially from resident Braves fan / Internet extraordinaire / Southern gentleman, matt_t, who I've heard is actually at Turner Field and having quite the time.

    Last but not least there's Derek Lowe, who many thought wouldn't even be a Brave come today, yet here he is starting Game Numero Uno. Drama! Brittle egos! Statements!

    Oh, and the Cubs hardly did anything this winter and still face the same expectations from a fanbase that will always fall back on the same excuse for the consistent failures of the franchise.

    ACCURSED GOATSHEYWARDS
    Ryan Theriot, SSMelky Cabrera, LF
    Kosuke Fukudome, RFMartin Prado, 2B
    Derek Lee, 1BCHIPPER, 3B
    Aramis Ramirez, 3BBrian McCann, C
    Marlon Byrd, CFTroy Glaus, 1B
    Alfonso Soriano, LFYunel Escobar, SS
    Mike Fontenot, 2BJason Heyward !!!11!, RF
    Geovanny Soto, CNate McClouth, CF
    Carlos Zambrano, PDerek Lowe, P

    Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Tigers at Royals, 4:05PM

    | | Comments (8)
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    Best pitching matchup of the day. Justin Verlander, last year's 3rd place Al Cy Young vote getter takes on reigning AL Cy Winner, and the game's most universally liked player Zack Greinke. Other excitement in Kansas City comes from the debuts of Rick Ankiel, Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall. The Royals are bringing in more people on the downside of their career than Celebrity Apprentice.

    The Tigers are your WoW pick to win the AL Central. Rob also picked Jim Leyland to die and subsequently win manager of the year. Bold. Your move, Sports Illustrated. Whatever happens today, the AL Central is going to be one close race and if the Tigers are gonna make my prediction come true, a good start will be essential. No one wants to play 163 games again. What do you think, Asshole Jim?

    "I think we have a competitive club," said Leyland. "Are we going to win anything? I don't know."

    Keep smilin', kid.

    TIGERSROYALS
    Austin Jackson, CFDavid DeJesus, RF
    Johnny Damon, LFScotty Pods, LF
    Magglio Ordonez, RFBilly Butler, 1B
    Miguel Cabrera, 1BRick Ankiel, CF
    Carlos Guillen, DHJose Guillen, DH
    Brandon Inge, 3BWillie Bloomquist, 3B
    Gerald Laird, CYuniesky Betancat, SS
    Scott Sizemore, 2BJason Kendall, C
    Adam Everett, SSChris Getz, 2B

    brewerslide.jpg

    It's a very memorable day in Milwaukee! Today marks the first time in baseball history that two teams have started their season with a game featuring pitchers named Yovani and Ubaldo. That is, unless you count 1914's Federal League opener between the Baltimore Terrapins and Brooklyn Tip-Tops that used starting pitchers named Yovani "Twelve Fingered" McGillicuddy and Ubaldo "Happy" Finneran. But nobody ever counts the Federal League.

    If the Brewers really do end up losing 90+ games in 2010, you can always look back to today's Opening Day lineup, see the names "Gregg Zaun" and "Jim Edmonds" and wonder why, oh why, did a team so set on contending employ gentlemen who haven't been relevant since the 1990s.

    Okay, that was just wrong of me. Gregg Zaun has never been relevant.

    By the way, this game started an hour ago but you probably didn't notice. Nor did the thousands upon thousands of drunken Wisconsinites in the stands at Miller Park wondering why the Brewers' mascot no longer slides into an ginormous mug of beer.

    ROXUECKERS
    Carlos Gonzalez, CFRickie Weeks, 2B
    Seth Smith, LFCarlos Gomez, CF
    Todd Helton, 1BRyan Braun, LF
    Troy Tulowitty, SSPrince Fielder, 1B
    Brad Hawpe, RFJim Freakin' Edmonds, RF
    Chris Iannetta, CCasey McGehee, 3B
    Ian Stewart, 3BGregg Zaun, C
    Clint Barmes, 2BAlcides Escobar, SS
    Ubaldo Jimenez, PYovani Gallardo, P

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    Smarcum returns! I won't say anything nice about him for fear it will cause him to get injured again. I will, however, never stop griping about how badly Hogan got jobbed at WM6. Which reminds me, if you don't swing by Deadspin as much as you used to, their Dead Wrestler Of The Week feature is absolute appointment reading. But I digress.

    Marcum's return and his whole season as the #1 (or 1a depending on your thoughts about Ricky Romero) starter provides interest for the the worsening Toronto fanbase. And though there are no shortage of storylines in Texas, Scott Feldman's ascension as 30th round pick cum nondescript bullpen guy cum Opening Day starter is a fun one for Rangers fans too. Ian Kinsler is too 'puff to play, Adam Lind is flush with new dough and rebirth happens where you find it, not where you will it. Who's to say it can't happen today in Arlington? Alright, besides Blue Jay fans.

    ("Photo" stolen from Lil Rob's MySpace page. Of course it is.)

    JAYSRANGERS
    Jose Bautista, RFJulio Borbon, CF
    Aaron Hill, 2BMichael Young, 3B
    Adam Lind, DHJosh Hamilton, LF
    Vernon Wells, CFVlad Guerrero, DH
    Lyle Overbay, 1BNelson Cruz, RF
    John Buck, CChris Davis, 1B
    Eddie Encarnacion, 3BJarrod Saltalamacchia, C
    An Alex Gonzalez SSAndres Blanco, 2B
    Travis Snider, LFElvis Andrus, SS

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    I find it mildly hilarious that Jake Westbrook, perhaps the player I pilloried most during our first year of existence, is the first opening day starter I get to talk about. He makes his faminey return to the mound after missing almost all of the last TWO seasons and pocketing $22M for it. And thus the Indians enter once more into the breach, doing so without a whole lot of fan enthusiasm and veering dangerously close to the aura of the old Cleveland Stadium/Major League days.

    This White Sox team is intriguing. I picked them to finish third, but don't be too surprised if Buerhle/Peavy/Danks/Floyd carries them higher than that. We've been known to be wrong around here before. Also, you know, Ozzie and stuff. That's always interesting. On Dasher, on Dancer, on AL Central and the gaping hole left by Lance Broadway!

    TRIBEOZYMANDIAS
    Asdrubal Cabrera, SSJuan Pierre, LF
    Grady Sizemore, CFGordon Beckham, 2B
    Shin Soo Choo, RFCarlos Quentin, RF
    Travis Hafner, DHPaul Konerko, 1B
    Jhonny Peralta, 3BMark Kotsay, DH
    Matt LaPorta, 1BAlex Rios, CF
    Mark Grudzielanek, 2BA.J. Pierzynski, C
    Lou Marson, CMark Teahen, 3B
    Michael Brantley, LFAlexei Ramirez, SS

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    That delicious-looking treat over there is a Primanti Bros "cheesesteakburger" thing, a seemingly-scrumptious sounding sandwich served all over Pittsburgh, including the concession stands at PNC Park. I've had one of these creatures in my life, and let me tell you, it's utter garbage. You'd think that piling french fries and cole slaw on a typical cheeseburger would make one exclaim, "NOM," no? Well you'd be wrong. It tastes like what I'd imagine licking onions off hot pavement tastes like.

    But no matter, it's the dawning of a new day in Pittsburgh and those Pirates fans need not rely on their questionable cuisine choices to lift their spirits anymore. Andrew McCutchen is in the Opening Day lineup for the first time ever and a .500 record is not outside the realm of possibility!

    And if the .500 record is impossible, then at least Pirates fans secluded in the left field bleachers can just chuck their terrible sandwiches at Manny Ramirez. Win-win!

    Here are your lineups for today's Pittsburghian game:

    DODGERSBUCS
    Rafael Furcal, SSAki Iwamura, 2B
    Russell Martin, CAndrew McCutchen, CF
    Andre Ethier, RFGarrett Jones, RF
    Manny Ramirez, LFRyan Doumit, C
    Matt Kemp, CFLastings Milledge, LF
    James Loney, 1BJeff Clement, 1B
    Casey Blake, 3BAndy LaRoche, 3B
    Blake DeWitt, 2BZach Duke, P
    Vicente Padilla, PRonny Cedeno, SS

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    Don't blame Jerry Tranuel for filling out his lineup card with so many questionable decisions. It's not his fault Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are sidelined with ouchies or that Tommie Agee retired 35 years ago! So what if the Mets Opening Day lineup ended up being a sad meme on Twitter yesterday? He had to slot Jeff Francoeur somewhere! Might as well be sixth, smack between Daniel Murphy and one of the Mets many terrible catchers.

    Also of note: this is a really good pitching matchup in something that can very easily be considered a pitchers park! So really, does Jerry Tranuel need (or even expect) to score more than a handful of runs? No! You win 2-1, you lose 2-1, these things all even out in the end.

    Here are your lineups for today's very third game:

    UPDATE: I had faulty information. This new lineup fix should be right, and if it's not, blame Brian Costa.

    FISHFAIL
    Cogz4Christ RFAngel Pagan CF Alex Cora, SS
    Cameron Maybin CFLuis Castillo 2B
    Hanley Ramirez SSDavid Wright 3B
    Sassy Senior 3BJason Bay LF Mike Jacobs, 1B
    Danny Uggla 2BDaniel Murphy 1B Jason Bay, LF
    Cody Ross LFJeff Francoeur RF Gary Matthews, CF
    John Baker CHenry Blanco C Jeff Francoeur, RF
    Gaby Sanchez SSAlex Cora SS Rod Barajas, C
    Josh Johnson PJohan Santana P

    markmcgwireteaches.jpg

    Hey guys, did you know that the Cardinals' biggest signing of the offseason was not, in fact, the tens of millions of dollars they threw at Matt Holliday, but rather the tens of thousands of dollars they threw at Mark McGwire? Yes, the man who once injected some drugs in his body that may or may not have helped him hit 500-foot home runs is now advising younger hitters how to hit a baseball the opposite way.

    Do hitting coaches really matter? I have no idea! And yet the AP finds it necessary to lead off their coverage with Big Mac instead of, you know, ACTUAL COMPETITIVE BASEBALL BEING PLAYED IN CINCINNATI FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SIX MONTHS.

    Here are your lineups for today's very next game:

    CARDSDUSTYS
    Skip Schumaker, 2BChris Dickerson, CF
    Brendan Ryan, SSOrlando Cabrera, SS
    Albert Pujols, 1BJoey Votto, 1B
    Matt Holliday, LFBrandon Phillips, 2B
    Colby Rasmus, CFScott Rolen, 3B
    Ryan Ludwick, RFJay Bruce, RF
    Yadier Molina, CLaynce Nix, LF
    David Freese, 3BRamon Hernandez, C
    Chris Carpenter, RHPAaron Harang, RHP

    obamaphils.jpg

    Remember when the very first game of the year was played in Cincinnati? Well, even ignoring the ESPN Sunday Night East Coast Bias Clash of Resplendence, the defending World F'ing Runners Up and the Struggling Strasburgs face off five minutes before the opening pitch out in Ohio. Way to steal Zombie Marge Schott's thunder, President Obama.

    Yes, the second most exciting part about this game (after Meech and his minions make their drunken way down Interstate 95 to harass the locals on the Red Porch) is Barack Obama throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Will he bounce the pitch? Or will he connect with 46-year-old Ivan Rodriguez with a 46 MPH strike? TUNE IN TO FIND OUT.

    Here are your lineups for today's very first game:

    PHILSNATS
    Jimmy Rollins, SSNyjer Morgan, CF
    Placido Polanco, 3BWillie Harris, RF
    Chase Utley, 2BRyan Zimmerman, 3B
    Ryan Howard, 1BAdam Dunn, 1B
    Jayson Werth, RFJosh Willingham, LF
    Raul Ibanez, LFAdam Kennedy, 2B
    Shane Victorino, CFIvan Rodriguez, C
    Carlos Ruiz, CIan Desmond, SS
    Roy Halladay, PJohn Lannan, P

    420tocenter.welcomeback.jpg

    It has been 151 days since Shane Victorino grounded to second and ended the 2009 baseball season. Tonight, major league baseball returns! Loyal Walkoff Walk reader/lousy Braves fan Matt T. bugged me yesterday about liveglogging tonight's Yankees-Red Sox tilt. Since I'm a sadist, I decided to liveblog the inevitable five-hour snoozefest the two most popular teams in baseball always put on. I also made the above graphic in celebration of baseball's return.

    But we all know the real question: How long will it take for someone to say something hilarious on Baseball Tonight this season? Guess what: Not one minute into the first episode, Bobby Valentine compared the start of baseball season with: Easter! As in, they're both "the start of something new."

    And, of course, there's the other question: How long until Baseball Tonight has hilariously weird guests? About fifteen minutes into the show!

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    Yes, that's Dr. Dre, Lebron James and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine. They were all shilling Dre's new headphone line. This whole episode of BBTN has been a big shill, with Karl Ravech saying the one thing Red Sox fans love to do is "log on to ESPNBoston.com."

    After the jump, let's quit complaining and get into our first regular season baseball action of the year. Game starts at 8:05 p.m.

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    Here it is, folks, the perfect cap to a day spent avoiding relatives and finding ways to sneak more pieces of candy into your maw. And really, wouldn't it be difficult to find a better way to kickoff the 2010 season than with a Yankees/Red Sox tilt? Oh hai, East Coast bias, I didn't hear you come in. In fairness, the hype surrounding this game has been palpable not only because the matchup involves one of the biggest rivalries in modern sports, but also because it means omgomgomg baseball is back! Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious (almost) summer by a Josh Beckett fastball.1

    Despite being two of the best teams in baseball last season, both rosters have been significantly reworked from the previous year. Gone are Jason Bay, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Entering the fray for the first time are John Lackey, Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees also re-added two players all too familiar with the rivalry in Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez. How will these new pieces be deployed in Game 1? To the lineups!


    YANKEESRED SOX
    Derek Jeter, SSJacoby Ellsbury, LF
    Nick Johnson, DHDustin Pedroia, 2B
    Mark Teixeira, 1BVictor Martinez, C
    Alex Rodriguez, 3BKevin Youkilis, 1B
    Robinson Cano, 2BDavid Ortiz, DH
    Jorge Posada, CAdrian Beltre, 3B
    Curtis Granderson, CF JD Drew, RF
    Nick Swisher, RF Mike Cameron, CF
    Brett Gardner, LFMarco Scutaro, SS

    Dmac is coming back to glog it for you (a new post will appear above). Baseball! The rest of the gang will be back tomorrow with the rest of Opening Day Lineupstravaganza.

    1 Now if that asshat drops a curveball in for a first pitch strike I will have even more reason to hate him.

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

    Consider my recycling this post for 2010 a message in its own right: I am creatively famine-stricken in the worst way. But making fun of the have-nots is the true spirit of Easter, so gather round and ready your best F-words. Only one repeat name from last year, but it's worth it. Who wears the scarlett "FAIL" for 2010?

    Always remember: Pedro Astacio died for your sins.



    National League Central
    Chicago Cubs - Carlos Zambrano: Post-Feast Guilt Famine
    St Louis Cardinals - Chris Carpenter: Reconstructed Feast
    Houston Astros - Roy Oswalt: Flagging Feast
    Milwaukee Brewers - Yovani Gallardo: Future Feast
    Cincinnati Reds - Aaron Harang: Progressive Famine
    Pittsburgh Pirates - Zach Duke: Famine
    American League Central
    Chicago White Sox - Mark Buehrle: Chinese Buffet
    Kansas City Royals - Zack Greinke: Full Blown Feast
    Detroit Tigers - Justin Verlander: Feast
    Minnesota Twins - Scott Baker: Fish Feast on a Stick
    Cleveland Indians - Jake Westbrook: Write a Folk Song and Emigrate-level Famine.
    National League East
    New York Mets - Johan Santana: Feast
    Atlanta Braves - Derek Lowe: Famineast
    Philadelphia Phillies - Roy Halladay: Feast of Maximum Occupancy
    Florida Marlins - Josh Johnson: Feast
    Washington Nationals - John Lannan: Place-holding Famine
    American League East
    New York Yankees - CC Sabathia: Fast Cat Feast
    Boston Red Sox - Josh Beckett: Feast
    Tampa Bay Rays - James Shields: Futile Feast
    Toronto Blue Jays - Shaun Marcum: Falloff Famine
    Baltimore Orioles - Kevin Millwood: Famine
    National League West
    San Francisco Giants - Tim Lincecum: Mr. Feastastic
    Los Angeles Dodgers - Vincente Padilla: Fail
    Arizona Diamondbacks - Dan Haren: Feast to Set Your Watch By
    Colorado Rockies - Ubaldo Jimenez: Feast.
    San Diego Padres - Jon Garland: Forgettable Famine
    American League West
    LA Angels - Jered Weaver Floppy Feast
    Seattle Mariners - Felix Hernandez: Kingly Feast
    Texas Rangers - Scott Feldman: More like Fam-man, amirite?
    Oakland A's - Ben Sheets: Feastential or Ligament Famine?
    BillSimmonslobsterdog.jpg

    That rumbling you felt earlier may or may not have been the earth spinning off its axis with the news that Bill Simmons, a noted anti-sabermetrics guy who had actually placed an embargo on writing about baseball for three years because he felt that advanced stats had made everything too complicated, has "seen the light." It's an Easter miracle! Or we can just chalk this up to the general euphoria surrounding the arrival of the baseball season!1!!1!

    Anyway, in the interest of full-disclosure, I will say the following thing: this is the first thing I've read by Bill Simmons since at least the year 2007. It's nothing personal, I was just never all that into his work, mostly because of the fact that he so often writes about the NBA, the professional league I care the least about. In fact, the only reason I heard about this most recent article is because some friends asked me if I had read it. Based on the way they were talking, it seemed they were of the opinion that this was some watershed moment for the sports world. Fine, I took the bait and decided to check it out.

    And I... I can't believe I'm saying this: Bill Simmons gets it. Mostly. The general motive behind Simmons "conversion" is nicely summed up by the following 'graph:

    Little did I know, the ball was rolling for me. I spent March reading and surfing sabermetrics for mostly selfish reasons ("I want this column to be better," "I want an edge for fantasy purposes," "I'm bored"), but also because the advanced formulas weren't nearly as intimidating as I had expected. Full disclosure: I, um ... I-I kinda like them. I even understand why stat junkies take it so personally whenever a mainstream guy spouts out an uninformed baseball opinion. It's too easy to be informed these days (Ed.: Emphasis mine, naturally). Takes a lot less time than you might think.

    What's even better is that Simmons preceded this entire paragraph by talking about how researching advanced statistics allowed for him develop an even greater appreciation for the greatness of one of his favorite players (Freddie Lynn). You mean the Sports Guy finally grasped the fact that sabermetric nerds like me aren't trying to make the game an emotionless realm of numbers? That we care about the game as much as any other fan and are simply looking to gain a better appreciation for what true greatness is in the modern context? GTFO!

    Simmons then targets his layperson audience and attempts to teach them some advanced stats they ought to know. It's a nice gesture, and I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is where Simmons, having emerged from the tomb on the third day, trips over his own sandal and falls flat on his face. I won't go into each of the seven he lists in depth, and I urge you to read the article linked above if you haven't already done so. However, I will go so far as to point out my main gripe with Simmons' list: it's filled with far too many things that come off like backhanded compliments and it is also full of navel gazing on the part of the auteur. Case in point: Simmons trying to explain OPS+. He makes it way too complicated, and then gets up in arms at OPS+ for being way too complicated. Fuck the heck?

    Love the concept, don't love the execution. Right now, everything plays off the number 100. If you have a 100 OPS-plus, you're average. From there, your OPS-plus increases by two points for every percentage point you're better than everyone else that season. When Albert Pujols led the National League in 2009 with a 188 OPS-plus, that meant he was 44 percent better than average (100 + 88 / 2) before correcting for park factors. That's already too complicated for someone like my father. He's out right there. If your stat is complicated AND hard to relate to, that's a deadly combo.

    (snip)

    Door No. 1: Albert Pujols led the NL with a 188 OPS-plus in 2009.

    Door No. 2: Albert Pujols' OPS-plus was 44 percent better than that of the average 2009 National Leaguer (first in the NL).

    We lose my dad with Door No. 1. We keep him with Door No. 2.

    That brings up something I first mentioned at last month's Sloan Conference: In my opinion, the biggest challenge for sabermetricians (not just in baseball, but in every sport) is making their numbers more accessable to all types of sports fans.

    Oh goodness, Bill. On the one hand, I appreciate his efforts to attain a better grasp on the stats as a whole; he consistently tries to find out how they're calculated. Good on him. On the other hand, perhaps Simmons is getting a little too overzealous and missing the point. If you know an OPS+ of 100 is average, and you tell someone who knows that information that Albert Pujols led the league with a 188 OPS+, said person will undoubtedly draw the following conclusion: Albert Pujols is really friggin' good at baseball. Simply knowing that 188 is greater than 100 (and significantly so) conveys this information. Behind Simmons' "Door Number Two" is just further clarification of this detail. Again, it's admirable that he wants to go all the way with his newfound obsession, but he comes off as being condescending and too in depth when there's no need to be.

    At the risk of severely damaging what little credibility I have as a nerd in the online baseball community I'm going to say the following: I have no idea how some of these statistics are calculated. UZR and WAR (two other stats on Simmons list)? Not a clue. I've never even seen the formula for UZR. But I know what the numbers "mean" and I'm happy to leave it at that. Looking at a leaderboard on Fangraphs and seeing Death To Flying Things crushing the competition in UZR is good enough for my purposes. Would I be better served knowing the ins and outs of the UZR formula? I'm not so sure I would.

    There are much smarter people out there who organize the data, and we should be happy to reap the benefits without all the work. In other words, despite what Simmons thinks, the numbers are already plenty accessible for the casual wanna-be nerd simply because of the vast number of sites that offer them at any given time for free. A simple definition (with appropriate frames of reference, like 100 being average for OPS+) often suffices for a lot of these metrics.

    Does this most recent column give Simmons any weight in the sabermetric community? A look at some of his subsequent writings to see how he does, will be necessary. Hopefully we're not looking at just another case of an ESPN-er trying something new and ultimately missing the point because Simmons does have a very big audience and the chance to expand the average fan's cognizance of the baseball world. So, yeah, welcome aboard, Bill, I suppose. Everybody on? Good, great, grand, wonderful. No yelling on the bus!

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    Teams breaking camp is as sure a sign as any that the baseball season is starting. Huzzah! We made it! That was a close one, but we got through it just the same. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back and grab your jerseys/shirseys, you've earned it.

    One last bit of housekeeping that most teams partake of before leaving their Spring Training homes is the fabled "Fifth Starter Announcement." To be sure, I'm fully in agreement with the rest of the WoW crew when they say that the "Fifth Starter Competition" is just a media creation bent on trying to make you care about an otherwise meaningless decision. But hey, backs of the rotation are people too, and it's still the end of Spring Training (!!!!) so we're allowed to celebrate anything and everything related the national pastime as Game 1 draws ever closer. So without further ado, here are the "winners." Adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly. Actually don't.

    The National League
    New York Mets - Oliver Perez lolololol
    Atlanta Braves - Kenshin Kawakami (????)
    Philadelphia Phillies - Kyle Kendrick
    Florida Marlins - Nate Robertson
    Washington Nationals - Scott Olsen or Garrett Mock
    The American League
    New York Yankees - Phil Hughes
    Boston Red Sox - Clay Buchholz
    Tampa Bay Rays - Wade Davis
    Toronto Blue Jays - Dana Eveland
    Baltimore Orioles - David Hernandez

    Chicago Cubs - Tom Gorzelanny
    St Louis Cardinals - Jamie Garcia
    Houston Astros - Felipe Paulino
    Milwaukee Brewers - Manny Parra or Chris Narveson
    Cincinnati Reds - Mike Leake
    Pittsburgh Pirates - Daniel McCutchen

    Chicago White Sox - Freddy Garcia
    Kansas City Royals - Kyle Davies
    Detroit Tigers - Dontrelle Willis
    Minnesota Twins - Francisco Liriano
    Cleveland Indians - David Huff

    San Francisco Giants - Todd Wellemeyer
    Los Angeles Dodgers - Charlie Haeger
    Arizona Diamondbacks - Kris Benson
    Colorado Rockies - Jason Hammel
    San Diego Padres - Mat(t) Latos

    LA Angels - Joel Pineiro (????)
    Seattle Mariners - Ian Snell (????)
    Texas Rangers - Matt Harrison
    Oakland A's - Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill


    Well, um, look at all of that. That's a ton of inexperience and more than enough thoroughly underwhelming career performances to go around. Even the Pirates would hesitate to bring some of these guys on board their roster. Just kidding, the Pirates have no shame in such matters. A few of the decisions have yet to be made so I simply listed the candidates if known, or used the ever-trusty multiple question marks. There's also the chance I got one of the above wrong as I was scouring the Internet and Tweetscape looking for reputable sources. Feel free to correct me in the comments as needed, or, you can just let me wallow in personal shame at the fact I spent time looking up teams' fifth starters. The joke is most definitely on me.

    To me the most interesting names are all located in one division: the AL Central. Liriano, Willis, and Garcia were all darn good pitchers in days of yore, well above the normal ability level of the typical fifth starter. If these guys (and it's far more likely with the first two based on age alone) can rekindle some 2005 or 2006 magic, their team's rotations will be verrrrry interesting. Also, how sad is it that Mike Leake doesn't even have a B-R page?

    Weekend Affirmation

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    • BASEBALL is back on Sunday, and so are you.

    This isn't a cop out post. I'm just so excited that it seems futile to say anything else. We'll have our traditional Opening Day festivities on Monday. Separate posts and full lineups for each game. Come on up for the rising. We'll see you then. Same Regular Season WoW Channel.



    Former Royals reliever par excellence Dan Quisenberry, whose posthumously-published portfolio of poetry is still available for purchase, starred in this Sports Illustrated commercial back in 1986, at the height of his intimidating career. Quiz was one of the top closers of the 1980s (and perhaps all time) yet did not receive the Hall of Fame love from writers that his contemporaries such as Bruce Sutter or (ugh) Goose Gossage did.

    A shame, indeed, but nobody can take away the badassery Quiz displayed in this TV ad. And oh, that moustache!

    (video link via Eric N. of Pitchers & Poets)

    What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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    Despite a decent amount of inclement New England weather this Winter, I stayed relatively injury free. Couple stubbed toes here, a few hangovers there. I also have a bit of chronic lower back pain developing which I attribute to work and I probably should get one of those rad looking lifting belts. But I'll tell you what. I look like Jack Friggin Lalanne next to the following Hummel Figurines.

    • CHIPPER Jones, Braves: We already made note of this yesterday in TQ but ol' Dave O'Brien at the AJC caught sight of the ingrown toenail that was so severe it kept him out of a game this week. I'm surprised he didn't take a couple rounds of duckshot and just shoot it off. He's a ballplayer, dammit!

    • Koji Uehara, Orioles: The Japanese ambassador to Baltimore hasn't thrown off of a mound in a couple weeks and thus, will start the season on the deel. Koji has a relatively long injury history compared to his time of service. Starting the season on the 15 day really shows that you've arrived as a Creampuff, though.

    • Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Missed a couple games with a sore arm. Descriptive. This is why Creampuff is harder to do in camp, obviously, because guys miss games with nebulous injuries that they would just play through in the regular season. If this was a game in July, Ellsbury would just be making weak throws to the cutoff man, sore arm or not.

    • Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Astros: Baseball's other ace named Roy has a body that is seizing up like the engine on an '83 Oldsmobile. Hamstring tightness, chronic back problems, and a mysterious muscle pain on his left side. All of these things will contribute to... Oswalt starting Opening Day. Okay, then. Berkman had surgery in March that's left his knee "cranky, sore and swollen, like walking around on Urban Meyer. He will miss the opener.

    • Alex Gordon, Royals: Gordon has been dealing with a thumb ouchie for bout all of camp and will start the season on the deel. Progressing well, but still an auspicious way to begin a season for a guy trying to bounce back from an injury riddled 2009.

    • Jeff Suppan, Brewers: Suppan has landed on the DL, with cervical disc pain, aka a sore neck. This was caused by either vigorous headbanging at a MercyMe show or nodding vigorously in agreement to a speaker at a Tea Party rally.

    • Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Joe Blanton, Phillies: Neither Lidge nor Romero have fully recovered from offseason surgery, and Blanton has an oblique strain that could keep him out for as long as 6 weeks. Didn't even know Cuntry Joe had obliques.

    • Fred Lewis, Giants: Lewis has a strained ribcage that will likely start his season on the DL assuming the Giants keep him at all. Root for the DL Fred!! Don't get traded, San Francisco is lovely in the summer!

    • Cliff Lee, Mariners: Lee threw with no discomfort blah blah Curt Shilling yapping blah blah. Why do I feel like I'm gonna get sick of talking about Cliff Lee soon? What did he do to deserve it?

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, it's sacrilicious

    That's it for today. Unlike the banks under the auspices of the Federal Reserve and your local post office, we'll be open for business tomorrow with Creampuff, Classic TV, and maybe another fun item. Same WoW channel.

    jimmy.parkway.jpg Meech of The Fightins (in the finals of The Phield!) alerted all of us to a great promotion taking place on April 13: Jimmy Rollins is attempting to break the world record for longest batted ball.

    There are no equipment restrictions for this Guinness World Record, so J-Roll will probably be using one of those Mongo bats.

    Baseball All-Star and World Series champion Jimmy Rollins will be knocking baseballs over Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Red Bull Ball Park Cranks on Tuesday, April 13th. Clear your lunch hour because we're not just talking home runs here...Rollins is aiming beyond the typical stadium distance and looking to hit a massive 550-foot bomb -- or the distance of almost two football fields.

    Not stopping there, Rollins will also attempt to break the current Guinness World Record for 'Longest Batted Ball', which currently stands at 576 feet. The record is for the greatest distance one individual can hit a batted baseball in a legal manner with no restriction on equipment.

    One may remember one ex-Phillies player, Bobby Abreu, possibly wrecking his swing in the 2005 Home Run Derby. Could this happen to J-Roll in this contest? Of course not: Rollins (career OPS+ 97) doesn't really have a swing to wreck.

    This contest is sponsored by Red Bull. Coincidentally, another former member of the Phillies, Pat Burrell, is sponsored by Red Bull and vodka.

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    It's the most wonderful time of the year! When baseball writers and bloggers everywhere pretend they have some sort of inside scoop or analytical advantage over the average fan and attempt to wow folks with virtually impossible-to-predict prognostications! And we're no different! We've already taken you through our divisional previews, but now we'd like to foist our playoff and award predictions upon you, kind reader. Please feel free to criticize our outlandish guesses and to share your own outlandish guesses in the comment section.

    I just copied that entire paragraph from last year's predictions compendium but be confident: these prognostications are all Brand Spanking New, except for the one where we forecast the Yankees will win the AL East and the Red Sox, the wild card. We could use that, or swap it up, every year and it wouldn't be out of place. Thanks, competitive financial advantage!

    Also, we could explain our choices for the postseason awards (like we did last year) but really, there is no more difficult task than projecting not only the performances of individuals but the whims of sportswriters. One year they're rewarding Justin Morneau for coming up to bat with tons of runners on base and the next they're giving awards to pitchers with historically low win totals. So screw it! We're just randomly throwing darts at a Bud Selig photograph like the rest of ya. You really need me to explain why we think Albert Pujols will win MVP?

    So, have at it. In the comments, tell us teams that will be better than most people think, or teams that will shit the bed, or player most likely to get suspended for assaulting a racing sausage with a bat. Whatever floats your boat!



    Division Winners & Wildcards
    ALNL
    East Yankees Phillies
    Central Tigers Cardinals
    West Mariners Rockies
    Wild Cards Red Sox Braves
    -
    Playoff Results
    ALNL
    Division Series Yankees over Tigers
    Red Sox over Mariners
    Cardinals over Phillies
    Braves over Rockies
    LCS Yankees over Red Sox Braves over Cardinals
    World Series Yankees over Braves in 4
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    Postseason Awards
    ALNL
    Manager of the Year Jim Leyland, DET (posthumous) Dusty Baker, CIN
    Cy Young Award Felix Hernandez, SEA Dan Haren, ARI
    Most Valuable Player Mark Teixeira, NYY Albert Pujols, STL
    Rookie of the Year Wade Davis, TAM Jason Heyward, ATL

    After the jump, check out our predictions for each team's record and a link to the written previews for each division. You'll want to bookmark this page so you can come back in September and guffaw at our many missteps. (yet another sentence I copied and pasted!)

    Bob Watson Can't Get Monsterous Length Under Control

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    I feel your pain, brother. Blessing and a curse, blessing and a curse.

    Bob Watson, the man charged with the futile job of trying to shorten the average length of ballgames, has taken the tried and true "complaining to the media because I have been charged with a futile job" route of conducting his futile job. The headline of today's article in Business Week should be: Bob Watson To Yankees And Red Sox: Jeeeez Guys, Come Onnnnn

    "We've created a monster," Watson said in a telephone interview. "Will we ever get this under control? I don't know."

    Slow games have exasperated the game's hierarchy since at least 2000, when Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson was hired to stop excessive fidgeting and fussing, among other things. He left in 2002 to manage the Montreal Expos, and Watson, a former Yankees general manager, took over.

    One key is time between pitches, Watson said. The official rule -- 8.04 for those keeping score at home -- says pitchers have 12 seconds when there are no runners on base, according to MLB spokesman Pat Courtney. Last year's average was 27 seconds, according to Stats LLC.

    "My dream for 2010 is to have a pace of 25 seconds per pitch," Watson said.

    So Bwats (that's what I call him) a man whose job is to enforce the rules of the game, and I'm sure handsomely compensated for it, has a DREAM of getting pitchers to throw at a pace that is more than double the stated rule. That's uh, nice work if you can get it.

    Now I'm not suggesting that the umps call a ball on every single pitcher that takes more than the allotted 12 seconds (the article claims this was done "15 to 20 times last season" as if we have no way of tracking these things), that seems a drastic measure leading to total chaos and 2 dead umpires a month. But Watson has been in charge of this for 8 years now and the average time of a ballgame has dropped by a meager 6 minutes in that span.

    Time for some revolutionary thinking if you're serious about getting this done then, eh Bwats?

    Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a 14-member Special Commission, which met for the first time in January to discuss the issue, along with other baseball matters. Possible steps include stricter enforcement of rules, curbing excessive pitcher's mound conferences and not allowing batters to step out of the box during an at-bat, Watson said.

    Seriously? Is this an Onion article? Are they pulling my leg cause it's April Fool's Day? That's what The Commission™ has come up with? YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO THOSE THINGS FOR 8 YEARS.

    When it comes right down to it, Watson's job title should be Chief Complainer. He's specifically down on closers and their darned rock n' roll, citing Trevor Hoffman, and more hilariously Jonathan Papelbon, for taking too long to get to the mound and pitch.

    "Do you have any idea what Papelbon's time is?" Watson said. "It's 4:30 or 4:40. So that's why he's fined. Why would people want to watch him take forever to throw his pitches? It doesn't make any sense."

    You may agree with him on this point, even if you don't share his anachronistic incredulousness. But here's the difference between you and him: IT'S HIS JOB TO FIX IT. There's a rule there. It says pitchers have 2 minutes and 25 seconds. They've fined Papelbon the pocket changeish sum of $9,000 for his infractions. No wonder whining to Business Week has become Watson's latest form of recourse.

    So, here's my magic bullet for Bwats: Give up, duder. You've proven to be less effective in this given task than perhaps anyone in the history of tasks. That's a long time. People have been doing tasks for at least 50 years. And you know, all this is assuming that MLB has even made a good faith effort to reduce game length and isn't just paying lip service to something that nebulous "fans" (and more accurately snoozy sportswriters) are upset about. But they wouldn't do that, would they?