May 2010 Archives

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...AND ROY FREAKING HALLADAY JUST THREW A PERFECT GAME. 27 up, 27 down. Eleven strikeouts, the third highest total in perfect game history.1 115 pitches. Wow.

So uhh, any Philadelphia fans still miss Cliff Lee?

1That's according to the suit on MLB Network right now. Koufax had the highest total, and then Randy Johnson in 2004 had the second highest total, apparently.


The Phillies inability to score runs against the Mets (or, let's face it, just about any team) has caused one fan blogger to go on an ill-advised hunger strike. Mike Meech, of the popular fan blog The Fightins and a close friend of Walkoff Walk, has vowed since early Wednesday to not ingest a single foodstuff until his Phillies score another run. And after getting shut out three times in a row for the just the second time in history against the Mets, his outlook looks grim.

In a series of events that would make Tim Kurkjian spontaneously combust out of dorky glee, the Phillies have become the first defending league champ to get shut out in a three-game series. They've only scored three runs in their last five games and even that three-run mini outburst came in the ninth inning of an 8-3 Sunday loss to the Red Sox. Merely an afterthought.

Since Rockies manager Jim Tracy accuse the Phillies of stealing signs back on May 12th, the Phillies have scored just 3.85 runs per game. That's 50 runs in 13 games, compared to 177 in their previous 33 contests, which corresponds to a whopping 5.36 runs per game. Coincidence? I have no idea.

Meech is headed down to the Jersey Shore this weekend and desperately needs the Phillies to score so he can put the kibosh on this wacky stunt, lest he miss out on his chance to enjoy the popular South Jersey pizza joint Mack and Manco's (motto: fattening sunburnt Philadelphians since 1956). The situation is dire, too. This is a before photo of our man Meech and here's an after picture. Yeah, it's pretty serious.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you got me so hypnotized the way your body rollin' round and round

Yes, folks, today we had our first afternoon walkoff walk of the season. I also .gif'd it. Thanks, Rickie Weeks!

Rickie Weeks is a patient fellow! Kid walked THRICE today including the game-winning bases-loaded walk in the tenth inning that helped the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Houston Astros by the score of 4-3. With a full count and two outs and following pinch-hitter Randy Wolf (thanks to a depleted Brewers bench), Weeks drew ball four from a beleaguered Matt Lindstrom who had already blew the save in the ninth.

Just like that, we've got ourselves yet ANOTHER shrimp sighting in the 2010 season. Keep 'em coming, relief pitchers with control issues!


This one's for all the oil-covered shrimp down there in the Gulf.



Courtesy of the good people at Tauntr, we give you the above video in which a smart Cubs fan uses his plastic cup of beer for more than simply drinking to forget his miserable existence as a Cubs fan. Please to enjoy.

During yesterday afternoon's White Sox-Indians game, Chicago starter Mark Buehrle was called for two balks by first base ump Joe West. Manager Ozzie Guillen was ejected for arguing the first balk; Buehrle was ejected after he tossed his glove to the ground out of frustration from the second balk. Balk balk balk! What are we, in a chicken coop?

Via Chris Littman at The Sporting Blog, here's a video of the events:


Granted, nobody really likes Country Joe West as an umpire. He's been around so long and probably violated the nature of the entire spirit of Umpiring when he called out the Yankees and Red Sox for taking their sweet-ass time playing baseball games. The balks he called on Buehrle were indeed questionable. They are not black-and-white, instead they are judgment calls and therefore we can question West's judgment on them until the cows come home but it's not going to get robot umpires on the field anytime soon.

But when Buehrle tossed his glove in frustration he committed an act so heinous that it definitely deserved the heave-ho: he showed up an ump. Yes, it was bloated old Joe West and everyone, from Ozzie Guillen to dumb Hawk Harrelson sides with Buehrle on the matter but the fact remains: YOU CANNOT SHOW UP AN UMPIRE. Just a simple toss of the mitt is enough to do it, too.

Perhaps Buehrle's intentions were pure and honest and was simply just frustrated with his inability to avoid balk calls when attempting pickoff moves, like fellow southpaw Andy Pettitte does so well. But that shouldn't matter to West; the act of tossing a glove, or a helmet, or a bat, or throwing the ball into the stands is improper conduct and deserves ejection.

Now, Buehrle is one of the more beloved folks in the sport and it's almost odd that West tossed a guy who is notable for pitching really fast games. Everyone loves Buehrle! But what if a less beloved player, like Hanley Ramirez, threw his glove in frustration? Would the outcry be the same? Dare I play the race card yet another time? Because what if an African-American player like MILTON BRADLEY had tossed his glove in frustration? Would we have been so quick to defend him?

The answer: probably not. Even people who hate the White Sox (read: me) love Mark Buehrle. And even people who love Milton Bradley (read: me) want him to just play nice when he's out there on the field. Respect needs to be paid in both directions on the field; umpires should not be vocally criticizing ballplayers and ballplayers should never, ever be showing up an umpire by spiking their gear. So perhaps this needn't be a racial thing, instead, it's a tiny tear in the fabric that holds the player-umpire relationship together.

Or maybe Joe West is just an asshole.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, mind heist.

  • SHOULD Sean Rodriguez be proud of the fact that he's the first Rays infielder to actually be stung by a sting ray?

  • ARE you surprised that the 2010 season is on pace to break the record set in 2009 for batters striking out? David Wright is certainly doing his part!

  • IS Roy Oswalt going to further polish his ERA for the trade market tonight against the hapless Brewers?

  • WHY us is Jason Kendall playing nearly every day? Might it be to potentially set a record? I wouldn't put it past the Royals.

  • WILL the Nationals be able to best the ever-awesome and still undefeated Tim Lincecum in their matchup against him tonight on the West Coast?

That's all kids, same WoW channel tomorrow.

Hair Poem: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • White Sox at Indians, 12:05: Tug of rubber between Buerhle and Westbrook (teehee). Westbrook has given up 7ER in in 11IP against the Sox so far this year. Paul Konerko is second in the major leagues in HR, despite only hitting one in his last ten games. I say he goes deep today. Dog's Eye View will be singing the National Anthem.

  • Rangers at Royals, 2:10: Texas looks to sweep the two game quickie. Scott Feldman takes the hill for hte visitors against Luke Ho Shaver. Vladdy is white hot with 4 HR and 8 RBI in his last 5 games. Dude's OPS is hovering near 1.000 and his tits are feeling way better than last year when he injured one. Fastball will be singing the National Anthem.

  • Tigers at Mariners, 3:40: The Mariners snapped out of their offensive funk a little last night while Milton Bradley snapped out of his mental funk. Dude totted and drove in the go ahead run off Justin Verlander. Today it's Bonderman vs. Vargas in the quickie conclusion. Oh, last night Bradley also ran into the dugout to hug people during a pitching change. I <3 U TOO MILTY. New Radicals will be singing the National Anthem.


When interleague play rolls around every year, plenty of hilarious sportswriters and Internet pundits will make the amazing, incredibly original joke that many of the interleague "rivalries" aren't really rivalries at all! The construction will go something like, "Bla bla bla interleague play is horrible just look the Rays are playing the Astros what kind of rivalry is that baseball tradition bla bla bla," only less funny.

Well, look at this: One of these so-called "non-rivalry" interleague series (Padres-Mariners) produced a bet between two gentlemen people, one a fan of each team. And the loser had to make the above video, perhaps the best baseball rap so far this season. Making it even better: I think part of the rap is about the girl he lost the bet to, so about half this song is pretty nonsensical.

This is amazing. I declare Padres-Mariners a rivalry as classic as Red Sox-Yankees immediately.

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Earlier this week, our intrepid Indian pitching heroes Rinku and Dinesh did something that very few professional baseball players are ever privy to do: they met actor Kal Penn in front of a Washington D.C.-area Whole Foods!

Yes, that Kal Penn, star of the hilarious Harold & Kumar stoner movie series. Remember that time they tried to go to White Castle but they ran into Neil Patrick Harris? That's Kris Liakos' favorite scene in a movie, ever.

This was just the conclusion to a wild, wacky and long weekend for the duo, on a break from their extended spring training in Pirate City. On Sunday, they arrived in D.C. for a delicious Indian meal and then hit the town for a post-meal walk:

After dinner, we getting lost going hotel and we walking at White House by accident. We thinking first that this hotel, but Lisa maam telling us White House where President Obama living. this very big house, so we thinking President Obama very rich, but JB sir telling us he not getting keeping house when he not president anymore.

Foreshadowing! Sounds like JB Sir is ready to evict Barry and he'll be supporting Palin/Schilling in 2012.

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The next day, Rinku and Dinesh attended a gala affair at that very same place in honor of the White House's Heritage Month. Over 150 luminaries, diplomats, and celebs from Asia and the Pacific Islands were invited to attend. And yes, they met President Barack Obama and even brought him a customized Pirates jersey.

Shame that the Secret Service had to confiscate the jersey at the gate and destroy it immediately because it was a security threat (read: they didn't want the President to catch any of that loser Pirates mojo).

Rinku and Dinesh also met Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Representative Mike Honda (D - CA), and, later that night, international soccer sooper-star Ronaldinho. I wonder if Congresscritter Mike getting Rinku's dad a new truck, perhaps a nice Ridgeline.

Finally, they had breakfast with Kal Penn yesterday morning and discussed his current film project, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, that will begin filming next month. I can only hope that Penn offered them cameo roles as wacky, pot-smoking cricket players.

How? Well through the magic of Round Robin Dinner, silly!

I found the following video while DEEP in the depths of YouTube surfing last night, and it's amazing. This gentleman has to be the worst reader of copy in the history of advertising. And that's saying something. God bless him... and that intro music.

See you. Baseball fans. On the cruise.



The other funny thing about this is that I met Rick Dempsey at Spring Training once and he told me a story about how he and some teammates were "fishing" out on Biscayne Bay and "accidentally" ran their boat aground. DON'T LET HIM DRIVE, ROYAL CARIBBEAN!

Tonight's Questions

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Cigarete_man.gif Hey kids, cherchez la femme.


Goodnight. See you bright and early. Same WoW channel. You too, Cigarette Man.


To help get you psyched up for the big #HEIST in August, we've been posting videos from the good folks at PNC Park. Above, please enjoy a short clip of the Pirates rally train which looks like it came straight out of the 1970s. Pretty sweet, but can someone explain how said train runs when baseballs are the only fuel it's fed?

Also posted today: the official Octavio Dotel entrance video with soundtrack from Jose Lima's reggaeton band.

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Well, it's been a year since Tom Hicks decided he want to sell the Rangers and nearly 6 months since he decided who he wanted to sell them to, and yesterday the team took the unusual step of filing for bankruptcy to expedite the sale. Unusual, but not unheard of. Five Eight other teams from the four major sports have filed for bankruptcy protection before. And by "four major sports" I mean "mostly hockey".

How does this affect the day to day business in the Arlington front office? According to Bud Selig, it's gonna keep that continuity. Of course it will. And oh, yeah. More loans too.

"This agreement assures an orderly process to expeditiously transfer Rangers ownership to the Greenberg-(Nolan) Ryan group, and it protects the franchise's baseball operations," Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, said in a statement.

The league will also loan the Rangers money so that the team "continues to meet all of its obligations while the sale is being completed."

A bankruptcy court judge in the Northern District of Texas will now hear the case, which includes the possibility of his agreeing to consider alternative bids for the team.

The positive vibes and happy news were handed down to the players yesterday. Michael Young sat down for this PR piece mlb.com story to recount the heartwarming yarn of players being told they were still getting their per diem despite the bankruptcy filing. Then they all jumped in the air and clicked their heels while tossing their tattered Newsies caps aloft.

Young said that players naturally had questions regarding their paychecks.

"That was at the top of the list of some questions," Young said. "That was actually the first thing that they told us. They knew the players were thinking about that. They said, 'You're going to get our per diem,' 'You're going to get your paychecks on time,' and 'Don't worry about it.'

"After a huge sigh of relief, the meeting went on."

Phew. What would the players have done had the Rangers forced them to play for no money? Probably come down off the acid and realize they're part of a union that has baseline threadcount requirement for hotel linens enforceable by strike. They can't be that daft. But you know, even if they were worried thank goodness Young gave us a candid and surprising look into the psyche of the ballplayer.

"It's not a distraction for us at all. Our job is to go out there and play baseball."

Now there's a cliché that will never run out of currency.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you'll be happier when I'm gone.

  • HAVE you been keeping up on your Morning Cup Of Joe? Yes, the carnage continues.

  • CAN little old Boston take those bigmouthed first place Tampa baseball elitists down a few pegs?

  • WHEN are the Reds gonna play some REAL teams? Pittsburgh is in town this week. Remember kids, that's the 2010 Walkoff Walk PNC Park Heist in Pittsburgh! Saturday, August 7th!

  • ARE the Angels on the upswing after winning three straight or can the Blue Jays use them to stay ahead of the Sawx?

  • WHAT is there left to say about Bob Dylan on this, his 69th birthday? We've already embedded about 10,000 of his videos on this website. Pretty sure we've all ranked our favorite albums in the comments. He's the man, forever. Heeeeeypeeeeey BeeeeeEERTHdeeeeey, dude.

We'll see you here tomorrow, where it's our 69th birthday everyday. Same WoW channel.

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Leave it to two writers from Cleveland to produce perhaps the most complete conversation about being wrong in the sporting-sphere. Kathryn Schulz, author of the forthcoming tome Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error interviewed blog-friendly columnist Joe Posnanski and it wasn't difficult for JoePos to spill the beans on the many times he's been wrong.

Posnanski's self-deprecating humor and willingness to admit his missteps make it an amusing interview, but the anecdote about "I Pounded Pos" shirts at the end makes it essential for fans of Schadenfreude.

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Pity Milton Bradley. For a soul so troubled his entire career to end up playing in the most miserable baseball city in the league seems like nothing but bad mojo. Back on May 4th, Mariners skipper Don "Waka" Wakamatsu, sensing that Milton was emotionally coming apart at the seams, pulled him from the game. Bradley immediately packed up his gear, left the clubhouse, and sped home.

Since that point, Bradley was put on the team's restricted list as he tried to sort through his emotional distress. He sought counseling for suicidal thoughts, and although he's returning to the Mariners now, he'll continue to get the professional help he needs and so many others shun (cough cough Papelbon cough).

Bradley sat down with Mariners beat writer and fellow sad-sack Geoff Baker for a one-on-one interview in which Bradley revealed what happened the night he hightailed it outta Safeco:

"I got home and my heart was pounding," Bradley said. "It was just one thing after another that night. I couldn't get it to stop. I felt like I'd been down this road before, where everything keeps happening and leads to something else and you can't control it. I just wanted it to stop."

For the first time, Bradley knew that wishing his problems away wasn't going to solve anything. He needed to get away from baseball and find a professional to confide in about the anxiety that tightened his chest and crept into his voice with alarming frequency.

"When you start feeling that the only way you can end it is to kill yourself, that's not a healthy feeling," Bradley said. "So, I needed to get away, to step back for a bit. There are too many people I care about in this world to let things go down that road."

It's a great interview and we must salute Geoff Baker for being perhaps the only journo around who could properly commiserate with an emotionally disturbed star. But my favorite nugget from the hourlong chit-chat was this:

One of his fondest memories as a ballplayer comes from the 2008 All-Star Game, when Bradley met Derek Jeter. Soon after, out on the field for the Home Run Derby, he felt his cellphone vibrating in his pocket.

"I answer it and it's Jeter," he said. "He was calling and personally inviting me to this party he was having afterward. He's like 'So, you going to come?'

"That was cool," Bradley said. "I mean, he might have been calling everybody, but he made me feel like the most special person in the world."

See? Derek Jeter is made of so much magic that he can make even Milton Bradley smile.

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You're looking at a photo of the late Jose Lima taken just three days ago at Dodger Stadium. The former pitcher was in L.A. to watch the Dodgers play an interleague series against Detroit, which means exactly what you're thinking: watching the Tigers play baseball killed Jose Lima.

Lima, who spent thirteen charismatically awesome years in the bigs, passed away this weekend after going into full cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena. He was 37.

Among those mourning the all-too-soon loss of Lima is Mark Teahen, whose at-bat walk-up music is a song by Jose Lima's reggaeton band.

To honor Jose, we give you Jose Lima singing "Sweet Home Alabama", because what else would you expect?

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, I've thawed.

So enjoy your interleague weekend. There's a whole host of interesting series that I didn't touch on. This is the time of year when we put aside or differences and really try and understand the freaks and weirdos that watch most of their games played in the other league. It's not just a baseball game... it's research. We'll see you nuts on Monday. Same WoW channel.

Whomever held the Flip camera for this rollicking fistfight in the bleachers at the Cell in Chicago. Seriously, this rivals Néstor Almendros' best work.


(thanks to Weed Against Speed over at Sportress of Blogitude and Zoner Sports)

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The above painting illustrates something we're all looking forward to. A recently expired Tommy Lasorda kneeling before the Lord, being judged, and being expelled to hell. It's part of LASORDAPALOOZA. The Pomona Public Library is holding the event to honor Tommy Lasorda, as sponsored by the Baseball Reliquary, and it can only mean that the apocalypse is nigh:

The displays offer a candid look at Lasorda's career, including highlights such as his World Series championships as Dodgers manager and his many charitable endeavors, and lowlights such as his estrangement from his gay son, his highly public rifts with former players, and his penchant for self-promotion.

The displays incorporate artworks, artifacts, photographs, and a variety of documents which provide unique insights into the storied career of this Los Angeles Dodgers legend and one of baseball's greatest goodwill ambassadors.

I...I'm having trouble processing all of this. The enormous painting in the National Portrait Gallery was one thing but this? Is it parody? Please let it be parody! How can we, as aesthetes, be honoring such a deplorable figure!

Mock him! Mock this man lest he think the entire event is just another stop along his lifetime achievement path towards immortality!

(courtesy of the LA Daily News and Deadspin)

I know you've got at least 45 free minutes today at some point, friend. It's a Friday and you're either unemployed or underemployed. What better way to while away the minutes than to listen to the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show.

It was our silver anniversary podcats and it was a doozy! Tune in to hear me finally reveal my true opinion of noteworthy Mariners fanbloggers, to hear Kris reminisce about buying baseball cards in liquor stores, and to hear Drew be the voice of reason as I try to race-bait the entire baseball press corps.


Topics covered include:

Please to enjoy. Or at least attempt to enjoy.

Tonight's Questions

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penguinbaby.jpg Hey kids, we're climbing a ladder.

  • WILL you be watching any of the series finales tonight or are you too busy setting up your house for your Return Of Interleague BBQ Soirees?

  • IF you're not doing any of those things around 9 PM, then you oughta join us for the latest (and 25th!!!!!) installment of The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show. Just follow this link and you'll be set. Along with hitting up all the newsy news we'll be waxing nostalgic about baseball cards. See you then.

Bye, dudes and dames. Same WoW channel. You too, Penguin Baby.

Get A Load of THIS Guy

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I've attacked Sun-Times White Sox reporter/blogger Joe Cowley before. But I also use him as a link for a lot of White Sox stories, so I gotta keep him in my Google Reader. I opened it last night and came across his new "feature", Morning Cup Of Joe, which you see above. That's the whole thing. Um. Wow. Not only did he play dress up for his horse's ass headshot, but said picture is bigger than the actual copy.

"Go, to the park? Hell, no." Interesting quote from a man described thusly on the sidebar just a handful of pixels away: "Joe Cowley covers the White Sox for the Chicago Sun-Times." Covering them from his rumpus room, apparently.

JOE COWLEY, YOU ARE TRIPPING DUDE.

Putting together a weekly roundup of the 140-charactered musings of baseball players is really not as easy a task as one would assume. Simply put: professional athletes are REALLY BORING. Granted, most players aren't even on the Twittersphere. I estimate that under 10% of active rosters are made up of Twooters; chances are that the guys who tweet are the ones with more interesting personalities.

But really, scrolling through page after page of links to press releases, inspirational quotes, and Dirk Hayhurst's inanity makes it really hard to find the real gems. Thank goodness for our go-to guys like Chris Coghlan who are always good for an unintentionally hilarious utterance on a weekly basis. Did anyone really expect a guy whose handle is "Cogz4Christ" to be able to spell "Mecca" correctly?


Brett Anderson fancies himself baseball's own Roger Ebert. Unlike Dan Haren, however, Anderson is mesmerized by the power of film and cannot turn away when his favorite movie comes on. Seriously, he won't even leave the house.


Don't tell Matt Antonelli, but on my recent trip to the West Coast, I walked by no fewer than three In 'N' Out restaurants and not once did I go inside to get me some animal-style vittles. Perhaps he's referring to beat writers when he tells us this.


Hey, Ben Zobrist, that's what she said. Literally, I think he and his wife share a Twitter account.


Scott Boras' best bud, that dastardly coward Jon Heyman, dares to throw our favorite tweeting manager under the bus. Yes, Jon, Ozzie does already know everything, like where to stay when visiting Minneapolis.


When he's not racing cars, throwing gas, or being generally straight-edge (whatever that means), C.J. Wilson is doing the same quotidian tasks that you or I or greaseballs on TV would do because we must.


New Blue Jay Fred Lewis posted a link to some drivel on Bleacher Report but let's not bury him for it. We can all agree with the thesis statement of that piece: Brian Sabean is a horse's patoot. Lord know's Fred agrees.


Ugh, Ian Stewart, people who tweet about where they're eating and what fine wine they are drinking are irritating.


Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, hydrate.

  • WHAT do you think of that clip from the new baseball talk show starring Rob and I? I think we're both naturals on camera.

  • ARE you pumped for more stubby two game series? A whole bunch start tonight.

  • WHICH WoW commenter is actually Tyrone R. Squires?


Bang. Done for today. We'll get back to you. Tomorrow. Same WoW channel.
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Astronaut Garrett Reisman (earlier) is a yooge Yankees fan. And why not? He and I went to the same high school! So to make sure that the entire country can get their fix of Yankees games this week, he rocketed up into outer space and fixed up the teevee satellites.

I'm only half kidding. Between this past Monday night and next Sunday night, we will be witness to six out of seven Yankees games on national TV. (ESPN, MLBN, ESPN, MLBN, none, FOX, and ESPN). It's as if the cable companies are trying to tell us that the Yankees (and their opponents: the Sox, Rays and Mets) are successful and/or popular! Who knew?

Reisman and I share a common friend. She was kind enough to give me a framed photograph of the new and old Yankee Stadia that Garrett took from the space shuttle on his last jaunt to the cosmos, which I have proudly hung in my kitchen, albeit upside-down. Because I have far better aesthetics than whoever decided which way was up on this crazy planet.

(via Daily Intel)

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That's a headscratcher headline, I know. But it is really the only thesis statement I can draw from this Forbes article I just read. According to sports business writer Tom Van Riper (excellent name btw) The Indians' (and for that matter the Browns') lousy attendance, stingy spending and ultimately franchise devaluation are directly affected by playing in the same town as LeBron. Majorly affected to the point that TVR kinda just brushes past on-field performance.

Already playing in baseball's third-smallest market, the Indians have discovered that sharing their limited stage with a larger than life star means permanent understudy status, as they play before sparse crowds on a limited budget.

With local fans jamming Quicken Loans arena this spring for the NBA playoffs, Progressive Field, the Indians home that averaged over 40,000 fans nightly from 1996 to 2000, has drawn fewer than 15,000 per game so far this season, last in Major League Baseball and less than what the Cavs averaged this year in a building less than half the size.

The Indians seem well on their way to their sixth losing record in nine years, but the poor attendance isn't due only to that. The 2007 club, which won 96 games and narrowly missed the World Series, ranked 21st of baseball's 30 teams in attendance at just over 28,000 per game.

The real LeBron victims are the Indians, a once-resurgent franchise that is back to resembling the bumbling bunch that was spoofed in the 1989 movie Major League. It's a long way from the heady days of the 1990s, when the Indians routinely filled a new ballpark and appeared in two World Series.

Yes, the Indians are a long way from the "heady 90's." But so is everyone else on earth because IT'S 2009 2010. And also, because their team is a long way from being anywhere near as good. Let's not forget that about $50M of that "limited budget" has been given to Jake Westbrook and Travis Hafner. By the time Van Riper uses the Indians successful 2007 campaign as a barometer for winning's impact on attendance he's already contradicted himself in the preceding sentence. Losing seasons in 6 out of 9 years. THAT'S what drives attendance. To pack a baseball stadium every night you have to prove your team's worth to lots of casual fans. Being a losing team for the better part of a decade brands your team as a bad value for a night's entertainment. The occasional single season blip cannot turn the tide. Sample size.

So where does this tenuous at best, and gonzo at worst, kind of correlation come from? Well, from the bedrock of all good financial reporting: laughable anecdotal quotes. He talks to a PIRATES exec from the late 80's (yes, I'm aware they were good then, but still) on Mario Lemieux's impact on the baseball team.

"We never wanted to say it, but we knew darn well it was affecting us," Mullin says of going up against Lemieux during his Pirate years.

The Pirates are the last team you'd want involved to try and prove this shared spotlight theory. Ben Roethlisberger could sexually assault Sidney Crosby until both their teams had to fold and the Pirates would still draw 700 people a night. In a beautiful park.

Progressive Field won't be full again until Indians management (lookin at you Shapiro. Sell that house before the Cleveland economy has a post-James meltdown) figures out a way to get a winning team on the field. And they feel as far away as ever. The only way LeBron leaving town is going to help is if he takes a bunch of lousy baseball players with him.

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In the lunatic crab-fry-fueled bandbox they call Citizens Bank last night, Zach Duke outdueled Roy Halladay. Chew on that for a bit. Despite lasting but six innings, Duke still kept the league's best offense at bay with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits allowed in giving up one run. Halladay, no schlub himself, went the distance but got knocked around a bit more, giving up three key doubles.

In his first seven starts of the year, Roy notched six tidy wins and was on pace to finish with 30 wins given a 34-start season. But with a no-decision against the Rockies and last night's loss to the Pirates, the man everyone wants to go to the zoo with might only win 24 or 25. Quelle horreur!

We as baseball fans talk about unbreakable records and unreachable feats a lot; will anyone ever hit .400 again? Will any hitter break Joe D's consecutive game streak? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. There are, statistically speaking, ways of determining the probability of these feats, but of all these accomplishments, I especially want to see a 30-win pitcher. Sure, wins are not the best way to evaluate an individual's performance, but wouldn't that be cool anyway?

Think about it: a pitcher will only get, at most, 35 starts in a season nowadays. To win thirty games would take not only a dominating pitcher but a cooperative team behind him. And it seemed like the stars aligned this year for Halladay to be the dude to reach this magical plateau: a horse of a pitcher joining a team with a powerful offense and above average defense in a lesser league.

But no, Roy had to run headfirst into the befuddling Pirates, who can go from winning a series against the Dodgers to getting pummeled by the lowly Brewers, and from getting swept by the Astros to toppling the great bearded pitcher. Credit Duke, credit timely hitting from the Pirates, but most of all, credit the cruel mistress we call 'bad luck'. The biggest and best pitcher in the world sometimes cannot get the three runs he needs from his offense and our greatest hopes fall by the wayside.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I am not Ruth Buzzy standing here.

  • WHICH Stubby Series finale will you be watching?

  • YOU familiar with Iraq's national baseball team? They're pretty new at all this so don't bet on them unless you're prepared to take a Baath.

  • ARE you sad that Ryan Freel retired? Duk calls him a "blog all-star" but it seems all we ever did is slam the guy. Happy trails, Nutcase. Go study Steve Lyons and figure out why he's not homeless yet.

Alright, now. I'm gonna head out to hoepfully watch the Red Sox salvage a shred of their dignity. Despite last night's heartbreaker (which I didn't even watch) the beauty of a two game series (I guess) is that a win tonight neutralizes everything. Though when you're 8.5 games out you need more than neutralization.

Anyway, we'll see you back here tomorrow. Same WoW Channel. You too, Thunder Shin.

Without You: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Brewers at Reds, 12:35: So, yeah. First place Reds. 8-1 in their last 9 games. They're on such a roll that even Homer Bailey (today's starter) pitched a CG shutout last time out, albeit against the Pirates. Former WoW Favorite Manny Parra makes his first start of the year moving from the bullpen.

  • Twins at Blue Jays, 12:37: Minnesota took the first game of this series 8-3, but today run up against Shaun Marcum. He's like a Phoenix. Rising from Arizona. His WHIP is under one, he's striking out a handful of guys each game, and has been getting sporadic run support. Then again, Justin Morneau has 3 hits in 5 lifetime at bats against him. And two of them were ding dongs. And he's got 3 in last two games. WHO WILL GIVE?

  • White Sox at Tigers, 1:05: Rick Porcello makes what I believe to be his 20th afternoon start of the year. What's the opposite of a vampire? He's that. The Tigers lit him up for 5 in 5 in his first appearance againt them this year. Freddy Garcia goes for the White Sox, he of the 179 career IP against Detroit. Magglio Ordonez alone has faced him 45 times. The Tigers are two games back of the Twins.

  • Snakes at Fish, 1:10: The Marlins dropped last night's game 5-1 (WAY TO SUPPORT THE IMMIGRANTS) . The Snakes have been hitting up a storm lately, but nobody makes a fool outta Josh Johnson. I bet he strikes out ten guys today.

  • Indians at Rays, 1:10: Tampa is still rolling. They've currently racked up three in a row and it's not like the Indians are gonna do anything to stop them. Especially with David Price on the hill. IN 7 starts he's gone less than 6IP only once and has yet to give up more than 3ER. The Indians counter with David Huff who has given up 15 runs in his last 16IP. And his last name is Huff. GO CAVS!!!11!!

Feelin' Citi: Your Mets Futility Roundup

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According to Andy Martino of the NYDN Mets Blog yesterday's pregame had more emotion and drama than a locker room full of 15 year old field hockey girls. The Mets beat the also crappy Braves 3-2 but the biggest upset of the day was that Jerry Manuel spent the afternoon in a closed door meeting with Mets brass and didn't get fired. What the hell were they doing in there, then?

It was an interesting and memorable scene this afternoon in the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field. After Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya and John Ricco closed the door to Jerry Manuel's office, a crowd of reporters retreated to the other end of the room, and settled in to stare at the white brick wall that separated us from team brass.

A half hour passed. Manuel emerged from the room, froze and smiled when he saw an opportunity to shout to us, "I've got a uniform on." Then he walked into the coaches' lounge to retrieve Dan Warthen, Randy Niemann and trainer Ray Ramirez.

Perhaps Rod Barajas captured the mood of the clubhouse best when he said: "I didn't know there was a meeting...I knew the owner was here."

Awwwwwkward. Manuel may have avoided the chair yesterday but he's as much of a dead man walking as anyone else in baseball. Let us not forget that Manuel is about a career .500 skipper, but he's a couple ticks below that in NY. He entered the job interimererlyly following the last round of Babysitter's Club Managerial Peepee with Willie Randolph. If it weren't for the generous benefit of the doubt given to him for all the injuries the Mets sustained last year, he probably wouldn't have even begun this season as manager. Borrowed time dude.

And over at the New York Times Blog (which gave me a disgusted and condescending look after surfing to it from the Daily News) they're keeping track of another little bits of Mets history. It seems that barring injury (a huge caveat) or some sort of sustained but unforseen bout of plate selectivity David Wright and Jason Bay could both break the single season team K record. The record (156) is, hilariously, held by Dave Kingman. I would have put a tenner on Burnitz.

The Mets have played 38 games, or 24 percent of their season. Rounding up to one-quarter, Wright is on pace to strike out 204 times, obliterating his personal worst of 140 set last season (eighth on the team's all-time strikeout list). Wright is tied for the major league lead in strikeouts with 51 and leads the National League with 28 walks. With 40 strikeouts, Bay is on pace to whiff 160 times, just two shy of his personal worst.

The team is currently 21st in baseball with a .321 OBP, which is good for last in the division and 18th (2nd to last in the division) in runs scored with 170, 4 more than the Nationals. 350 whiffs from the heart of the order isn't going to improve these rankings. Los Mets have a lineup with all of key components healthy, yet is still being pushed around the bases by the mellifluous Rod Barajas.

The money! It does nothing! Although they do have the same record as the Red Sox.

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In what can be perceived as a cleverly-timed footnote to my piece on minorities being accused of not hustling, Marlins shortstop (and Dominican native) Hanley Ramirez accidentally booted a ball into left field and merely jogged after it as two opposing players scored.

Watch the video here.

Hanley was later benched by Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez, either for not showing proper hustle on the play or for having an ouchie on his ankle. He'd fouled a ball off his ankle the prior inning and seemed to show a bit of a limp on his way back to the dugout.

Now, to defend Hanley with the excuse that, "Hey, he was hurt, he couldn't chase that baseball down" would be facile and inconsistent. Racial differences be damned, baseball players need to run after loose balls. And when a manager of Gonzalez' stature decides to bench a player, it's his decision and his decision alone. Just listen to him discuss the benching, where he basically throws Hanley under the bus with one hand while defending teammate Cody Ross:

"There's 24 guys out there that are busting their butts. (Cody) Ross got hit with a ball 95 mph and he stayed in the game making diving plays and battling, got two hits and an RBI. There are some injuries there, but we expect an effort from 25 guys on this team and when that doesn't happen, we have got to do something."

If anything, Gonzalez is singling Hanley out because he's a superstar making a ton of scratch. Fredi knows that if the team's best and most well-paid player is lollygagging, it'll breed discontent in the clubhouse among the po' folks like Ross.

But perhaps we're missing the real nefarious cause of Ramirez' troubles: cricket! Prior to the game, the Marlins welcomed the New Zealand cricket team on the field for batting practice and Hanley made like Rinku and Dinesh and picked up the ol' cricket bat to take some swings.


Cricket: the enemy of hustling!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I wish there was some hip way of telling you this, baby, but, ah... you're one with and part of an ever-expanding, loving, joyful, glorious, and harmonious universe.

  • WAS I on vacation last week too? No, my computer just wasn't working. BUT IT IS NOW, SO LOOKOUT SUCKERS.

  • WILL either the Sox or Yankees sweep their two game series that starts tonight?

  • CAN the Mets or Braves use their two game series to vault to or above .500?

  • CAN the Marlins build on their 4 game winning streak against the D-Backs? Will there be more protestors than fans?

  • WHAT is your favorite Dennis Hopper role? Today is his birthday. Easy Rider is the common answer but dude was also in Blue Velvet, Cool Hand Luke (one of my alltime favorites) and The Trip (one of my alltime favorite cult classics). Truly a treasure. And not feeling so well these days. Happy birthday and best wishes, dude.

  • CAN the Angels pull nearly even with the first place Rangers in their two game series? Derek Holland makes his second start of the year tonight.

  • WHY are there so many of these crappy two game series this week? Cause interleague starts this weekend and I guess everyone needs the extra day to breathe into a paper bag so they don't hyperventilate over the excitement.

Tonight, be well. You'll need yourself tomorrow. Same WoW Channel.

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Talk about multitasking! On a dare, a high school baseball player in Big Stone Gap, VA lined up along the foul line with his teammates during the playing of the National Anthem, unzipped his pantaloons, took out his John Thomas, and whizzed on the field.

To top it all off, kid tinkled in public on a dare that didn't even involve money. Heck, kids today will do anything for free. Back in my day, I used to make big bucks doing crazy stuff like drinking a bottle of ketchup, or streaking nude across the auditorium during eighth grade graduation, or selling my urine to my buddy who smoked all that weed.

"We want to make this very clear, this kid did nothing that he considered unpatriotic," Wise County Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry said. "It was a stupid mistake; he has accepted responsibility. And that, coupled with the fact that he has had a very good record in the past - he's going to pay for it, but we don't have to behead him, we don't have to crucify him."

Perry would not say what the punishment entailed, citing student privacy. He also declined to name the boy.

Lucky this kid didn't attempt this at excessively patriotic Yankee Stadium where you can be ejected for simply leaving your seat during "God Bless America". Of course, being forbidden from leaving your seat during that song could cause one to simply tinkle on your seat. Don't blame me, I thought I had a going problem but it turned out to be a growing problem.

(via Obscure Store and Reading Room)



In St. Petersburg, the security guards need no Taser to subdue the shirtless louts who wander onto the field to create a nuisance. Perhaps it's actually more painful to be tackled by four underemployed dopes than to be zapped by one cowardly cop, but ask the average Padres player and they'll opt for tasering every single danged time.

(we owe a Coke to Cork Gaines at Rays Index)

Boom, Bitch: The Dodgers Have Won 9 of 10

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Is May for lovers? Do people say that*? Hell if I know, but the Dodgers began the month at 10-14 in the NL West's cellar. And to make matters worse on May 7, owner Frank McCourt was forced to dole out a cool 637K to his ex wife every month. And she sucks. But lo and behold, just a couple days after the Ides, Frank's boys are getting lucky on the field. 7 in a row, 9 of ten and 11-3 overall for the month. This weekend's sweep happened all over the first place Padres, bringing LA to within 2 games of the lead. So what happened?

Like a handful of the modified belt sanders I watched race this weekend, some teams just get off to slow starts. And for the Dodgers that was particularly true of their starting pitching. Our old friend Tony Jackson works over at ESPN Los Angeles these days (<3 u Tony) and has, thankfully, done the math that I'm too lazy to.

The quartet of Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and rookie John Ely having gone a combined 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA thus far in May. The bullpen, meanwhile, has allowed two earned runs in 17 2/3 innings during the winning streak, a collective ERA of 1.02.

The team also put up a heap of runs against Arizona last week, but scored only 9 in this series and won yesterday's game on just two hits. Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal are both out, but Russell Martin has stepped into the breach, with a game winning RBI that extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

So what's at stake for the Dodgers as they try to stay hot this week during a pair of two game (boo) series against the Lastros and Pads (again)? With a volatile owner's suite, a shaky and oft criticized GM, a manager that is both old and pretty well accomplished already and the most mercurial star in the league, continued trouble could have sent this club into a severe panic mode. Rob and I had joked about Torre getting the axe earlier in the season, and while that wasn't going to happen, seeing the now 70 year old manager cite "personal reasons" for leaving the club while they hung below .500 all year wouldn't have been surprising. Seeing Ned Colletti engineer an alimony fueled fire sale at the trade deadline could also have been epic.

One half of one month does not a season make, and with the exception of Billingsley, there isn't a guy in that hot rotation who has proven that he can stay consistent over an entire season. But here in May the Dodgers have, for now, pulled their 2010 season out of the pyre, and I am glad to have them. Who really wants the Padres to win anything?

* probably not, but I found out it's Mediterranean Month whilst researching the delicious lentil salad that I'm eating.

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Really, I tried my darn-tootinest to follow baseball while I was out carousing my way through wine country and San Francisco, but I was not prepared to wake up this morning, jet-lagged and all, to find out that the Cincinnati Reds have assumed first place in the National League Central. I thought the strangest thing that happened last week was Corey Patterson signing a big league deal with the Orioles and fueling a team-wide offensive rebirth, yet the Fightin' Dustys went and took two of three from the Cardinals this weekend to take the division lead. What kind of crazy sport is this anyway?

Also crazy: while I was away, our own Dmac seriously brought the entire baseballblogosphere to its knees with his laser rocket wit completely out of the kindness of his Philadelphian heart. For this, I thank him profusely and will be looking forward to "hiring" him again later this summer when I spend a week in Amish country raising a barn. Kris and I throw buckets of gratitude at Drew and 310toJoba as well.

Thanks also to West Coast WoW commenters (WCWoWCs?) Farthammer and Phillas for meeting up with me at AT&T Park for a real gem of a baseball game Thursday afternoon. (Two hours! So tidy!) Perhaps the real highlights of the game were the foodstuffs we consumed: a half pound kielbasa and a cha cha bowl before departing the park to a place that sold beer with slices of watermelon. It's like a little slice of summertime with every malty sip!

And no, I didn't bring any souvenirs back for any of you. Instead, please accept this simple salumi cone as a token of my gratitude for your readership.

Break out the shrimp video, people: the Tigers have beaten Boston on Ramon Santiago's walkoff walk issued by Red Sock reliever Ramon Ramirez. Talk about a Ramon Party! Heck, it's the Ramoniest walkoff walk in baseball history! Enjoy the video:


Weekend Question

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  • DID you enjoy my week at the helm of Walkoff Walk? Be honest.

Sorry for the nonexistent afternoon here today, but I hope you enjoyed my week in charge of Walkoff Walk. I'm always happy to get the chance to BS about baseball on the Internet even if I had to set my alarm earlier than usual. Thanks as usual to Rob for having me and to 310, Drew and Kris for helping out. Rob will be back Monday.

I will also drop some news. Coming in... oh, let's say, July: Cat Stairs: The Comic Strip. It's going to rule.

Photo by Nurse Kate; Creative Commons license

Atlanta Braves NL West Title Clubhouse Party- 1982

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It's official. The "NL West Clubhouse Celebration Video" is now my favorite Classic TV Friday subgenre. Where once it brought us the insane fireball that was a lone, shrieking Will Clark during the '87 Giants' party, today it brings us drunken surrealism of the highest order.

It's 1982, I'm about 4 months old sitting in a high chair with strained carrots in my nose, but the Atlanta Braves have just won the division. These are the halcyon early days of TBS, 6 years into Ted Turner's ownership of the team (a genius acquisition that you can read about here). Turner was the face of the team more than just about any player during that era, and it's no surprise that he's the first guy interviewed. He was a likable, southern George Steinbrenner that smiled once in awhile. Once he lets out his greeting "AH WE LIIIIVE?" and then is accosted by the San Diego chicken one can only speculate on the number of bottles popped that day. And all this happens within the first minute of this epic ride. Watch it all, you won't regret it. So many epic quotes. You'll be primed for the weekend. I may watch this every Friday.

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This is Hanley Ramirez doing Walkoff Walk-caliber commentary on the Phillies' alleged sign stealing last night during the Mets-Marlins game. According to Twitter, they were made by Dan Uggla and John Baker. Good work, guys.

wow.babygotback.jpg So, this is an old story, but it got sent to me today and so that works for me. It's a piece at Slate riffing off last month's Roy Halladay cover story in Sports Illustrated; in the SI piece, Tom Verducci writes that scouts liked Halladay because he had a curved ass. Apparently, it's baseball adage that flat butted kids don't succeed in the majors.

The Slate piece looks deeper into it. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein says, absolutely, scouts are biased against prospects with flat butts. "Pujols has a tremendous rump, and it serves him well," he says. Why didn't we get ass-shape analysis after the Ryan Howard contract signing?

The best quote, though, comes from Buck Showalter. Here's what he once said on Baseball Tonight:

"You don't see a lot of good power hitters or good pitchers that generate arm speed that don't have a good, high butt on them," Showalter said on ESPN's Baseball Tonight. And who, according to Showalter, best exemplifies high-buttedness? Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee. "I don't want to say he's got a perfect butt, but when I look at it I say, Wow."

The image of Buck Showalter going around looking at players' asses and saying "Wow" will haunt me for the rest of the day.

Thanks to commenter njpanick

wow.justinbeiber.jpg We all had a good laugh when Nick Johnson (now injured, naturally) started using Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" as his at-bat music. But did you know there are other major leaguers who use stupid pop songs too?

That's right: When Twitter mega-sensation Justin Bieber made an appearance at a White Sox game last week, Mark Teahen used Bieber's song "Baby" as his at-bat music. (Normally, Teahen uses a reggaeton song recorded by Jose Lima (!) or "Barbie Girl.")

The Associated Press article also notes that players other than Johnson have used "Party in the USA", but I guess we didn't hear about them because they're not members of the Yankees. And it also gets a quote from Justin Bieber's publicist about Teahen!

When Teahen used the song again, Bieber "was sitting up in box, and we all got excited. He was very honored," the singer's publicist, Melissa Victor, wrote in an e-mail.

To her knowledge, Teahen was the first player to use a Bieber tune, but if others did, "that would be cool."

If I needed at-bat music, I'd use "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It'd throw everyone off.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, will you be a stranger when I get back?

  • DO you consider this tub trumpet version of "Sandstorm" to be better than the original? For that matter, what the heck is a "tub trumpet"?

  • WILL Blue Jays fans be even more inclined to hate the city of Philadelphia after the awesome Zoo With Roy printed this t-shirt today?

  • WHEN will the Marlins be promoting OF prospect Mike Stanton? I'm not sure what they're waiting for, the dude just hit a 500 foot homer. Even Brian Sabean thinks that's impressive.

  • WHY did someone else feel the need to write a glowing piece about the Rays rotation that fails to substantively mention the team's defense? WHAT MUST I DO TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND, TIM BROWN?!

  • IS Rob having a good time at the game with phillas and Farthammer? I suggest you keep checking his Twitter to find out.

  • WHICH of the two measly games on tonight will you be watching? I'm leaning towards Mets/Marlins because it's Johan Santana facing off against Josh Johnson.

Thus concludes another day with Dmac helming the ship. Took me a lot of effort to convince him to take a break and let me handle the TQ this evening. Come back tomorrow to see him continuing to feed the beast. Same WoW channel.

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The Rangers backstop, who is currently working on a rehab stint in Oklahoma City, has been afflicted by what can best be called "Rube Baker Syndrome." A Major League II reference on a baseball blog? Who'd a thunk it! Why that particular character, you ask? Well, let's consider Salty's problem in more detailed FAIL.

RedHawks catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be back in the major leagues if he didn't have a problem throwing the ball - not to an infielder, but back to his pitcher. In Salty's last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

"He's just got to keep playing until he gets it right," RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "I don't know what else to do. It's a shame. It's definitely what's keeping him here. He's blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He's just got to figure it out. It's a shame."

This is pretty unbelievable. As the article goes on to note, Saltalamacchia is doing everything else perfectly fine. He's hitting over .350 and apparently his throws to second are satisfactory. This is so utterly bizarre. And it certainly makes me feel better about all those times I made a friend have to stretch for an errant girly throw of mine whilst playing catch. Luckily for Saltalamacchia, the movie tells us this is an easy problem to fix. Get that boy some centerfold models, stat!

Thanks to matt_t for the tip

I know we've all seen this scene from The Naked Gun, but whatever: I came across it on YouTube and had to post it. (Plus, I'm feeling lazy today.) Is there a better baseball parody ever made?

Well, okay, the blooper scene is also awesome.

Hey, it's Dick Enberg, now the San Diego Padres' announcer!

If you happened to be watching the second game of the Yankees/Tigers double-header you were treated to two very special guest appearances. In between innings, Jay-Z and Eminem visited with a bunch of broadcast crews to announce a pair of shows the two are performing together at Comerica Park (September 2) and then again at Yankee Stadium (September 13). That's definitely a big deal because Eminem just had his song debut at number one and Jay-Z is well... still making music!1

The video you're about to see is from the pair's encounter with Yankees play-by-play guys Michael Kay and Ken Singleton. It's a doozy.





This video makes several things glaringly obvious:

  • Michael Kay is very white, but not as white as Ken Singleton... who is actually black.
  • At 2:10 starts an interesting train of discussion because Kay asks both guys if they'd rather be baseball players than rappers. Because that's standard conversation fodder for any good interviewer, you see. "Hey, you're really accomplished at something, but wouldn't you rather do something else?"
  • Creepy fat lurker at 3:11!
  • At 7:40 Jay-Z attempts to explain who is opening each show. Michael Kay doesn't get it but soooo doesn't want to seem uncool.
  • 9:28 demonstrates the awful quality of Michael Kay's jokes. In other news, the YESMichaelKay twitter was on fire during this whole thing.


1"UNH... MOTHA%&$#@...UNH!" Repeat.

wow.loading.jpg Maybe my favorite features on MLB.com are the articles ostensibly written by MLB's marketing department. You may remember the "it's that time of year" article from last Christmas about the Yankees' World Series win and the number 27 and a ton of World Series-themed crap you could buy.

Well, the same author has returned with, "Lower price makes MLB.TV a true value." It sure does!

Now that this Major League Baseball season is more than a month old, it is time to start paying closer attention to the standings and the stats -- and time to make sure you are enjoying the full benefits of available technology as a fan. MLB.com just dropped the price for MLB.TV Premium to $109.95 per year and basic MLB.TV to $89.95 per year, making this an ideal time to sign up and experience live out-of-market streaming.

This is as good as press release-speak. Be sure to get the full benefits of available technology, fans!

Just listen to longtime Red Sox fan Scott Preston, who emailed MLB.com Monday night from his home in Wellington, New Zealand: "This is my fourth year with MLB.TV and it's almost as good as a girlfriend. I have other sports leagues' online packages but MLB.TV is easily the best -- for the price, accessibility, reliability and ease-of-use. I upgraded to the Premium option this season to be able to watch Red Sox games in HD, and coupled with a Mini Mac, big-screen and four-way split-screen, it has pretty much ensured I never get anything else done."

Okay, let's be clear here: MLB.TV is, by far, the best online package of any sports league. It's been that way for a long time. But this is the lamest effing quote I've ever read. Is that how they talk in New Zealand? Do they just shill for whatever you ask them to? And, please, everyone: Don't tell Major League Baseball's official website that one of its products is "almost as good as a girlfriend."

We constantly hear from fans who use At Bat with their iPhones or iPod Touch devices in locations ranging from inside the ballpark, to the office, to the beach, to driving to the store. Some people use that device to follow one game while they watch another on TV and/or the PC/Mac or laptop. You can watch or you can just listen.

When they drive to the store?! Isn't that a little dangerous?

That is a separate app from the one installed by fans on the iPhone and iPod Touch devices. It was first demo'd by MLB.com on stage at the Apple event over the winter unveiling of the iPad, and at that time Apple chief Steve Jobs described it as "Awesome."

Awesome!

We've seen it all so far, it seems. Yet, every day is new and you never know what will happen next. There is much more live Major League Baseball to watch on a multitude of devices, and a drop in the annual MLB.TV subscription just added yet another reason to be part of it.

Yes, we have seen it all so far.

I took random bits and pieces of this article, but it actually weighs in at 1,618 words. Now go buy MLB.TV, I guess.

Image via Mactropolis

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Right?

Be sure to check out the dude's website, which appears to have been created in 1996.

wow.taser.jpg Baseball Prospectus posted a neat (and free!) article yesterday by Tim Kester, who played in the minor leagues for 13 years and also played several seasons of winter ball in Latin America.

He writes about his experiences in winter ball, and passes along this fascinating tale:

Most people know that baseball players like to play practical jokes on each other, especially on long road trips where there is a lot of downtime. One day on a long bus trip, a Venezuelan player fell asleep with his mouth open, usually a bad idea with a group of baseball players. In Venezuela, where most players carry guns for personal protection, it is the worst idea ever. One of the Venezuelan players thought it would be funny to take the bullets out of his revolver and put it into the sleeping guy's mouth with the hammer cocked back. As the entire team gathered around, they woke him up.... To top it off, a second after he opened his eyes the guy holding the gun pulled the trigger and the hammer on the empty gun went 'click.'

Oh, those wacky winter leagues! Although this sounds like a pretty fun practical joke, I think if I were a ballplayer I'd spend my winters sleeping safely in my house.

via Tommy Bennett

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The New York Post reported yesterday that -- surprise! -- Lenny Dykstra needs money. (The paper was able to put a dollar sign in the headline -- i.e., "De$perate Dykstra" -- so you know the editors were excited.)

For $3200, one can get an autographed framed montage of Dykstra. Additionally, whoever buys it will get a call from Lenny Dykstra himself! Here's the best part of the story:

Dykstra's initial reply to questions about the sale was "F--- you." He later suggested, "The Post should buy the stuff."

Eh. That might be what I'd say if the New York Post called me up for a story, too.

Tonight's Questions

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Ahh, memories of youth...

We are more than halfway done the week. Go see Kris' band if you're in Boston tonight. Either way, come back tomorrow.

Photo by RLHyde licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

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I dunno, guys, I might DOUBT IT!! Halladay did give up two singles to start the game.

wow.sleeplessinseattle.jpg Well! It appears the tale of Ken Griffey's alleged clubhouse nap just won't end.

Last night, after winning his first game of the season, Cliff Lee wouldn't speak to the press until the reporter who broke the story left. That'd be Larry LaRue of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., who stands by his report.

Mike Sweeney, yesterday, told FOXSports.com that "nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies."

Meanwhile, a source told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian that, in a players-only meeting, Griffey cried over the incident. Man, he falls asleep during games and he cries when retelling it? He really is old.

Whatever the facts of the whole story, the Mariners are using a time-honored tactic for a team in turmoil: Band together against the media! As The Office's Michael Scott once said, "Sometimes what brings the kids together is hating the lunch lady."

Editor's Note: The Photoshop at right is maybe my laziest one ever. I barely even cut out Ken Griffey Jr. even close to correctly, and the fonts don't match, blah blah blah. I believe it's time for a nap. Kris, can you wake me up in time for another post later in the day? Or at least don't anonymously tell Big League Stew I was sleeping on the job.

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What, not Chico's?

This is (by far) the best advertisement at any baseball stadium this season. I mean, look at the cute stock model the company has answering phones!

Classic Scene: Today's Afternoon Games

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Full slate of afternooners today. On with em.

  • Reds at Pirates, 12:35: In which Homer Bailey continues the struggle to be viewed as a good major league pitcher with each start. While Homes has gone more than 6 in any outing this year, he turned in a quality start against STL on 5/1... only to be shelled by Chicago in his following turn. But the Reds look for the sweep and their 12th win in 16 games. A streak that's gone a ways towards cooling Dusty's seat. Zach Duke (also coming off a great start against STL) goes for the Bucs.

  • Yankees at Tigers, 1:05: Double dip, thanks rain. The spectacular Phil Hughes can be scored upon by no mortal. Despite putting 30 runners on base in 32IP, only 6 of them have crossed home plate. He takes on Jeremy Bonderman in the first game. The second game sees Javy Vasquez take on Rick Porcello in an ERA matchup that looks more like opposing point guard PPGs. The Tigs took the first game of this 4 game set.

  • Braves at Brewers, 1:10: Atlanta has snapped out of their hitting funk up in Milwaukee (Algonquin for the good land) and have their hands on the broom. Both teams have identical 15-18 records and a love of good books. Lowe vs. Gallardo.

  • Nats at Mets, 1:10: Rubber in Queens between two more teams with identical records. The Nats are probably more of a surprise to the rest of the country, but round these Met bashing parts, that posi start has been the bigger surprise. Chris Stammen takes on the fallen back to earth Mike Pelfrey.

  • White Sox at Twins, 1:10: It's the final game of a Two Game Series, "The Only Series Length Officially Unedorsed By Walkoff Walk™." The White Sox won the first game 5-2 and today look to "sweep." The Twins are holding a 2.5 game lead in the division. John Danks takes on Mr. Reliable Carl Pavano. No, I'm serious. Dude has gone at least 7 innings in 4 of 6 starts, going 6 in one other. INNINGS EATER.

  • Blue Jays at Red Sox: The Sox look for their second series sweep in as many weeks. This one would allow them to jump Toronto into third place. Celebrate good times, come on! Shaun Marcum continues on the road back from the CTC Curse against Tim Wakefield, a man who will be starting for the Red Sox when I turn 45. Good thing this is an afternoon game because MY BAND FRENCH COPS IS PLAYING AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES ON LANDSDOWNE STREET DIRECTLY NEXT DOOR AT 930. ADMISSION IS FREE.

  • Marlins at Cubs, 2:20: Lord the Cubs are up and down. They're currently mired in their 27th hitting slump of the young season and have lost 4 in a row. The broomin Fish could get to .500 with a win. That 4 way tie that Iracane predicted isn't really gonna happen is it?? Volstad Defender Of The Universe takes on Carlos Silva.

  • Phillies at Rockies 3:05. Double trouble. Roy Halladay, protagonist of this new Baseball Project tune takes on the scuttling Aaron Cook in game one and Jamie Moyer, who must even be sick of hearing about himself, takes on the scuttling Jason Hammel in game two. In fact the whole Rockies team is in trouble as of late. Lots of injuries, lots of errors and lousy pitching. They've lost 3 of 4 including the first game of this series. WHERE ARE YOU, LORD? IS IT ROXTOBER YET?

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If you haven't seen Ken Burns'1 Baseball, you really should. Seriously. Go rent it now. Or it runs on MLB Network sometime, too. Baseball is a fantastic history of the game, one of the best pieces of media ever done about the sport. The 18 1/2 hours just fly by.

But, of course, it can't just be left alone. No. The Tenth Inning will air this fall on PBS. That's kind of exciting, of course, unless Ken Burns goes all crazy bananas about steroids and causes me to throw my shoe through my television.

Tenth is filled with heartfelt observations from die-hard fans and observers, including Boston writer Mike Barnicle, who recalls his then-11-year-old son's "tears as big as hubcaps" following the Sox's 2003 playoff loss to the Yanks. [...]

Novick says they reached out to players tied to steroid allegations. None would talk. But former Sox star Pedro Martinez-- a Dominican among an early wave of foreign-born players initially hired as cheaper alternatives to higher-paid U.S.-born peers -- speaks at length about his start. Obsessive fans, including historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and sportscaster Bob Costas, also are featured.

Okay, a long interview with Pedro Martinez means this thing's already going to be watchable. But, uhm, Mike Barnicle and Doris Kearns Goodwin? Are we sure this isn't a secret documentary about plagiarists? What, Stephen Ambrose wasn't available? (Oh, right, he died in 2002. He wasn't.)

1 Jesus-style possessive intentional.

wow.phillies.stealingsigns.jpg Here's a fun story: In 1898, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Philadelphia Phillies at the old Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds (Baker Bowl) when Reds' infielder Tommy Corcoran, coaching third base, tripped over a wire in the ground. He yanked it up... and followed it all the way to Phillies reserve catcher Morgan Murphy, who was sitting with a pair of opera glasses and a telegraph machine. It was, by far, the greatest attempt at sign stealing in baseball history.

The Phillies went 78-71 that season, but perhaps the Phillies of recent years have channeled their inner Morgan Murphy to better records. Once again, the Phillies have been accused of stealing signs.

This is a common theme in recent years. The Mets accused the Phillies in 2007. You may remember the Yankees accused the Phillies of stealing signs last World Series. Charlie Manuel said the Phillies didn't have the Yankees' signs but were trying to get them. The Mets accused the Phillies of stealing signs earlier this season when the Fightins scored 10 runs off Johan Santana.

The latest accusation is right out of the 1898 playbook: Bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was caught looking in at Rockies' catcher Miguel Olivo with a pair of binoculars (aka opera glasses), while Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone (aka telegraph machine) in the dugout.

Let's be clear: This is awesome. Awesomely cheating, of course, but also awesomely blatant. I am hoping the Phillies will soon hire one of those airplanes with a message behind it to fly over Citizens Bank Park and relay the signs to the hitters. Or maybe the Phanatic can get involved! That'd be great.

via Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra, who apparently believes that stealing signs is perfectly okay as long as it's not done with electronic equipment

griffey.simpsons.jpg Big news! Yesterday afternoon, Ken Griffey Jr. spoke to Iraqi teenagers in Baltimore and didn't fall asleep once while doing it! Congratulations, Ken!

Griffey's in Baltimore for the M's-O's series, obviously, and talked for about a half hour with eight Iraqi teens and their coaches who are in the United States as part of a trip organized by the (deep breath) U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs SportsUnited Office1.

It's actually a really cute story -- the kids started a baseball team because their teacher is a big fan, and they didn't know Ken Griffey Jr.'s name -- and you should probably go read it if you're in need of a cute story this morning. (That, or go look at pictures of kittens.) It's one of those stories that makes Griffey seem like one of the classiest ballplayers of recent vintage.

But back to Griffey's naptime: Yesterday, Junior said parts of the sleep story were not accurate, but he didn't really say what parts of it were inaccurate. He and manager Don Wakamatsu both said he was available to pinch hit.

To me, the whole story seems silly: If the manager wanted Ken Griffey to pinch hit, and he were asleep, he would have gotten somebody to take him up. it's not like Griffey had left the ballpark or was in the upper deck leading the wave. Sure, a groggy Griffey might not be the best pinch hitter, but maybe his nap would rejuvenate him into his first homer of the season!

Honestly, if I were a Mariners fan, I wouldn't lose any sleep over this. (ZING!)

1 Ugh, I hate United. City all the way!

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In his ESPN article about Kelly Johnson's hot start, Doug Glanville (the pride of the University of Pennsylvania!) lets us know how things really work in the big leagues. Take it away, Doug!

Let's keep it real: There are not many places hotter than Arizona in the summer.

I appreciate Glanville's attempt at real-keepin', but I disagree. How about right on the equator at any time? Or the Earth, 4.3 billion years ago? Or how about the surface of the sun?

via my friend Mike

Tonight's Questions

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David Wright's nine consecutive strikeouts made at least one Mets fan put his head into his hands.

Come back tomorrow for more hot posting action from yours truly.

wow.southkorea.png Once again, the United States has been embarrassed. While Joe West can merely complain about the Yankees and Red Sox playing yet another five-hour classic, new rules in South Korea have shortened baseball games by 14 minutes so far this season.

Games this year are averaging 3:04, down from 3:18 last year. (The Korea Times reports games last 2:52 in Japan and 3:13 in MLB.) Before the season, the Korean Baseball Organization instituted new rules, including a 12-second limit on how long pitchers could hold the ball with no runners on base. There have been 28 warnings this year but no extra balls added to any counts.

Oh, yeah, and the strike zone was widened and "the time spent maintaining the field within a game" was cut down. Of course, as The Korea Times notes:

Overall playing time, however, is expected to take a little bit longer as the season proceeds and the competition intensifies, the KBO predicted.

Is it going to be the same in MLB, too? Uh oh. The last series of the season between the Yankees and Red Sox is never going to end.

People_Start_Pollution_-_1971_Ad.jpg Some of the news that was fit to print (at least online): The high winds this weekend caused all the trash around Citi Field to blow onto the field. Apparently, the fans just throw their garbage everywhere.

This, of course, happens at every stadium, but what is incredible is the Mets' front office reaction to it. Take it away, New York Times:

Dave Howard, the Mets' executive vice president for business operations, said the team had no plans to add more trash cans or extra workers to the 18-member crew to deal with the litter.

"It's sort of good now that there is debris to be blown out there," Howard said. "It shows people are spending some money and buying food and drink and enjoying themselves."

Howard says there are hundreds of wastebaskets around the stadium. "But, typically, when people go to their seats, they just drop it on the floor, which is sort of a baseball tradition," he added.

The Mets' front office is maybe my favorite in baseball, non-Ed Wade division. Never before did I think I could hear the positives of trash blowing all over the field. Even how everybody throws their trash on the ground is turned into a baseball tradition, like pretending Abner Doubleday invented the sport or running onto the field and getting tased.

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Note to all burgeoning baseball prospects: Unless you're a pitcher, don't sign with the San Francisco Giants. The bewildering front office continues its history of head-scratching decisions with their ongoing refusal to call Buster Posey up from the minor leagues.

No matter how badly Posey works over the studly arms of the Pacific Coast League, Bruce Bochy and zen master Brian Sabean steadfastly refuse to give Buster the call. Why, you may ask? Because the minor leagues suck, of course.

"Triple-A baseball isn't very good," Sabean said. "I'm going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues."

GET YOUR FRESNO GRIZZLIES TICKETS NOW!! While killing the credibility of his minor league product is all well and good, Sabean and Bochy are completely willing to both bury Posey further down the depth chart by elevating replacement level backup catcher Eli Whiteside to power mashing middle of the order threat. Whiteside hit fifth during the Giants last game in New York, something of a surprise given his meager power numbers, both at the major and minor league levels. But guess what? Those numbers don't matter either!

We all know Whiteside is swinging a hot bat lately. So do you discount the minor league track record?

"Yeah, you do," Bochy said. "Some guys figure it out later and improve and make adjustments. Whitey started making adjustments in Fresno last year and he really started swinging the bat with authority and driving the ball.... He looks very comfortable at the plate, he uses the whole field and he's got nice balance up there."

You got that? Nobody can pitch in the minor leagues, so achievement there means squat! Except when you go from hitting terribly to hitting poorly, than it is cause for excitement! And reason for promotion. Got it?

Image courtesy of Cynthia Kobel

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As first reported (then retracted) by The Fightins and later expanded upon by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, there's a chance the Phillies' series against Toronto on June 25-27 could be moved from The Stadium That Will Forever Be Referred to as the SkyDome1.

The reason: The G-20 summit is scheduled for the 26th and 27th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, about two minutes from the (sigh) Rogers Centre. Our own Drew Fairservice rightly notes the bigger concern is Toronto being turned into a police state during the summit2, but I'm sure the game being moved would get more attention.

The obvious idea is to move the games to Philadelphia, where the teams are guaranteed three sellouts. (ARAMARK would love this; they do the food service for both stadiums.) They could even trot out Joe Carter, and the Philly fans could boo him, and we'd all have a good laugh. That would, of course, give the Phillies 84 home games, so what they should really do is move the game to Montreal. (A commenter on Blue Jay Hunter noted both Detroit and Buffalo's AAA stadium are free that weekend.)

Will they find a way to play the series in Toronto? Probably. (Editor's Note: Incorrect! See update below.) Maybe the G20 attendees can meet in one of the restaurants overlooking the field! But even though the Jays are actually playing quite well right now, it's been a rough couple of months for our friendly baseball fans to the north3. If anything can go wrong for them, it will, so expect Halladay to throw a perfect game at Citizens Bank Park next month.

Update: The series will be moved to Philadelphia, according to various reports. Eighty-four home games for the Phillies it is! The Jays will bat last and the DH will be used.

1 Average attendance this season: 600. (Actually 15,207, second-lowest in the league ahead of Cleveland.) Attendance for Wrestlemania VI (Main event: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior, title for title): 67,678.
2 Well, for Toronto residents. Man, Walkoff Walk is slowly turning into the most awesome political site on the Internet, too. I'm going to have to pen a column calling for legalizing steroids in baseball soon.
3 Those who are paying attention, at least.

wow.fergie.jenkins.jpg Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins recently made an appearance at a luncheon for the Gary Southshore RailCats, a Northern League club. Guess what he talked about? That's right: He said baseball players today were in much better shape than when he played, that the advanced use of scouting, videotape and steroids made the players thousands of times more talented and that he might not make it in the big leagues today.

Just kidding! He said today's players were a bunch of wimps: "In my era, we knocked people on their butt. We enjoyed the game, we played hard, we played fair. Now it's hard to pitch inside." Yeah! How dare today's players not throw 90-mile per hour fastballs right at players' bodies.

Actually, for an ex-player Jenkins isn't really all that over-the-top; I'm not really criticizing him or anything. And what he said about Carlos Zambrano was much funnier!

"The guy I thought was going to be a winner was Carlos Zambrano," Jenkins said. "But he just can't get it together." The reason, Jenkins speculated, was Zambrano's offseason weight loss.

"Zambrano was always a guy who was pretty big. (Now) his fastball is like my changeup. He doesn't have the same movement. I think he took away a big part of his ability by (dropping 30 pounds)."

You hear that, Zambrano! Get out of the weight room and hit that buffet!

It's a little-known fact that if John Kruk were skinny, he never would even have made the big leagues.

wow.kengriffey.lunesta.jpg While covering the Phillie Phanatic's birthday last month -- I was actually covering the Phillies, but let's be clear what the real attraction was -- I was treated to an appearance by the Zooperstars.

While the Zooperstars and other Philadelphia-area mascots were celebrating the Phanatic's b-day, suddenly Ken Giraffey Jr. had a heart attack or something and suddenly fell on to the ground and began to deflate. They attempted to revive him with a bicycle pump, but to no avail. The Phanatic, though, gave Ken Giraffey mouth-to-mouth and saved the day1.

I bring up this story because maybe somebody could have given Ken Griffey Jr. mouth-to-mouth, or at least woke him up, when he apparently slept through a pinch-hit opportunity last week.

The News Tribiune of Tacoma, Wash., reports that Griffey sometimes retires to the clubhouse to text friends and watch the TV broadcast during games.When he was not called up to pinch-hit the other night at what seemed like an opportune time, manager Don Wakamatsu didn't have an answer. But two Mariners' players did!

"He was asleep in the clubhouse," one player said. "He'd gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn't come back. I went back in about the seventh inning - and he was in his chair, sound asleep."

The other player, who knows Griffey a little better, tried to rationalize. "He doesn't sleep well at night, he's away from his family, he's comfortable in the clubhouse," he said. "They could have awakened him.

To be fair, the Seattle weather would tire me out, too. Then again, if 47-year-old Jamie Moyer can pitch a complete-game two-hitter, I think 40-year-old Ken Griffey can get through a game without passing out.

1 If I were one to be offended by things, I would think this skit is the most offensive thing I'd ever seen. They may as well have had the Phanatic doing lines of coke.

Tonight's Questions

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Is this above clip from Simon Birch the best on-screen death in movie history? It's certainly possible.

Slow-ish start to the week, but I'll have more tomorrow. Come back, please!

Fragile Debacles, Revived!

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boy-who-saved-baseball.jpg It's pretty easy to make fun of those articles from Bleacher Report or Examiner.com one comes across when searching Google News. Then join in with me! Today's special comes from Bleacher Report and contains the awesome headline, "Braden Delivers Perfectly to Revive Baseball of Fragile Debacles."

It's a shameless sport that seems to wilt rather than expose positive innovations, such as legit sluggers or aggressive base runners. But instead it consists of shams, boldly juicing their bodies without producing in a pure and artistic fashion. It was just over a year ago, when frequent drug busts revealed con artists from a disturbing list.

You heard the man: Steroid users are just not as artistic as their natural counterparts. Also, when's the last time a major leaguer has been involved in a drug bust? Sure, Manny tested positive around this time last year, but he wasn't caught moving kilos of coke across the boarder.

All of us felt betrayed and deceived for glancing at overpaid shams, oblivious pitchers and outfielders paralyze America's Pastime, a competitive game our great grandfathers and grandpas endeared before corruption elicited collateral damage. In a game with many misconceptions, baseball is still in a state of uncertainty and needs an antidote to distant from the agonizing, destructive facets that overridden the way the masses recognize the game.

Our fathers and grandfathers enjoyed the game the way it was meant to be played: With little to no minorities and the Yankees controlling the Kansas City A's as a virtual farm club! I believe that is one of baseball's many misconceptions. no?

For years now, a league of performance-enhancing users and cheaters with no morals damaged pride, anonymity which tarnished marvel. So in a league focused on propaganda rather than entertaining the principles of rectitude, suddenly it observes a pleasant landscape. And now, we can finally embrace a remarkable moment in baseball and reverse from all the negatives.

The principles of rectitude sounds like something a girl I take home from the bar wants to do. I guess I could embrace that remarkable moment as well.

Of course, all of this is maybe rendered moot since Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game about nine months ago. Why did that perfect game not save us from all the cheaters but this one did? A question for the ages.

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What you see above is a copy of the standings (via ESPN) from Friday afternoon. All 5 teams in the American League East entered play on Friday afternoon coming off wins, 4 of the teams riding win streaks of 4 or more. The Red Sox and Yankees played head-to-head, meaning one of their streaks ended Friday. The Jays and Rays, however, both won on Friday night meaning three of the teams in The Best Division In Baseball then rode 5 game winning streaks.

Predictably, the division is stacked. The Rays own oodles of buzz as the best team in baseball, with their lofty run differential, tidy defense, and ability to lay down for skinny gangsters from Stockton, CA. The Yankee juggernaut rolls on while the Red Sox operate on a plane of existence all their own. Much of the discussion over the weekend surrounded the BoSox woes and how on Earth would they catch the two juggernauts above them? Good question, but one thing: they trail three teams in their division.

Nobody in their right mind expects the Toronto Blue Jays to continue winning games at a .580 clip. That the Jays are doing so in the first place is something of a worsening miracle. Canada's team pulled this very trick last year, beating down the weak sisters of the American League for the first few months, patiently waiting for the Yankees and Rays to come to down and destroy their hopes and dreams.

Take hope, Beantowners. The Red Sox might scuffle now, but a quick run through the middle of the country and they'll be fine, trust me. They'll run roughshod over the A.L. Central horror show and find themselves riding a tidy winning streak. A nice West Coast trip, smacking around teams who will all finish within three games of .500 and each other by the end of the season.

The unfortunate side of this dominant division: it is also baseball's least competitive. Home to baseball's worst record (your 2010 OriLOLes!) the two frontrunners are already rendering this race over. The Red Sox —still shoe-ins to win at least 85 games— have less than a 5% chance of winning the Wild Card, according to Coolstandings.com. Rhetorical question time: is this competitive imbalance good for baseball? The universe at large? Should we break up these juggernauts in the name of all that is just or let these savages battle among themselves until the end of time and revenue sharing?

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Last week: Bobby Cocks. And now, the corresponding female body part.

via The Fightins, of course

wow.braden.headshots.jpg Remember back in 2001 when noted loudmouth Curt Schilling lost his perfect game? With five outs to go, the Padres' Ben Davis -- pride of Malvern Prep! -- bunted for a bloop single. The Diamondbacks spent the rest of the game cursing out Davis, Bob Brenly called the move "chicken" and if Curt Schilling had a blog at the time you know we'd be getting a 20,000-word entry out of it.

Well, well! Yesterday, before we all tuned in to Dallas Braden's perfect game1, Evan Longoria attempted a bunt single in the fifth. Since Braden completed the perfect game, nobody cares. And Joe Maddon would have been down with it even with two outs in the ninth!

"Great, absolutely," Maddon said. "We're trying to score runs there, we're not just trying to permit him to go into the record books. Our intent is to win the game and if (Longoria) gets it down who knows what could have happened. So that's another of those unwritten rules that I'm not a subscriber to. If you want to prohibit it, just play your third baseman in. Both sides have the ability to do whatever they want. I believe if you're trying to beat the other team and that's your best way to do it then you do it."

Longoria's bunt rolled foul, and he eventually struck out. And now Dallas Braden has a perfect game and Curt Schilling doesn't.

1 I watched the eighth and ninth. You guys?

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What a start to the week! In what has to be the most improbable perfect game since Len Barker, the Oakland Athletics' Dallas Braden just pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Here is the story everyone is going to go with: He hugged his grandmother afterward. The bigger story: The on-field mics picked up Braden telling her afterward, "Let's go eat!" He also called his uniform a "costume" in the postgame interview.

Congratulations, Dallas! Per the collective bargaining agreement, he now gets to kick A-Rod in the balls.

Update, 7:30 p.m.: Both A-Rod and Dallas Braden's grandmother have weighed in! A-Rod says, "No more about him, please." (He also said "good for him," but that won't get any attention.)

Braden's grandmom says, "Stick it, A-Rod."



About next week: I'm headed out San Francisco way for a bit, but our pal Dan McQuade will corral the WoW writers and keep the content flowing from Monday to Friday. I'll be meeting up with a couple of our West Coaster WoWies on Thursday afternoon for a businessman's special at AT&T Park, so be sure and follow me on Twitter for some live commentary and photo fun.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. See you in ten days, same WoW channel.

  • DO you like nostalgic batting helmets, short shorts, and tube socks? This is the five-minute movie for you, no doubt.

Courtesy of Rich Lederer over at Baseball Analysts comes this neat, short film about a 1970s era game of Wiffleball. It's like The Sandlot met up with Dazed and Confused, got high, and had a drug baby.

Please to enjoy Wiffleball '79, directed by Perry Jenkins and Travis Kurtz and featuring both copyrighted music (that I'm sure were not obtained properly...unless this is fair use?) and original tunes by Mike Northern.


(thanks again to those crazy analysts of base-ball)

reds.empty.jpgQuickly, dirtily, unscientifically, I'm going to make a statement: attendance is down in baseball. In some cities, like Cleveland, Baltimore, and Toronto, this is absolutely true. Anecdotally it seems true in at least a dozen other stadiums around the league. Beat writers flock to Twitter to proclaim "tonight's crowd is lowest in Stadium X's history" on a near-nightly basis. Poor attendance at major league baseball games is certainly a bad thing — especially if you own a professional baseball team or professional parking lot staffed by professional parking lot pointing-at-guys — but how about we all agree to stop using sparsely attended baseball games as indictments of residents and fans from entire regions of the country.

The next time YOUR CITY in the great state of YOUR STATE is deemed a "bad sports town" or "bush league" or "crippled by sweeping unemployment" let's try to resist the urge to use nearly-empty baseball stadia as proof the city is unfit for baseball or human occupation.

Consider the three cities listed above, among the stragglers in average attendance in 2010. No fancy pants ball parks, recent successes, nor Red Sox Nation invasions can fill the buildings early in the season. "But why?" the columns wail. How could the good people of Metropolis turn their back on the local nine? Why have real baseball fans eschewed a night at the old ball yard?

Most families aren't going to baseball games or NBA games or any such expensive outing. They're priced and corporate-cultured out in a tough economic time. Additionally, families now have a laundry list of classes, recitals, ultimate frisbee tournaments in far-flung suburbs and about a million others things to do on a Tuesday night in April beside watch Jake fucking Westbrook pitch to Lyle Overbay.

Expect to see more bros getting tazed than iced at the ballpark in the coming months; as clubs look to provide the whitewashed, sterile environment most likely to appeal to Mr. & Mrs. Helicopterparent's most paranoid instincts. Little Ethan and Abigail can't be withing vomitshot of drunken louts1 cursing loudly and carrying on.

1 - Keep them the hell away from Pittsburgh in August.

sadgirl.JPGHeroes come in an all shapes and sizes. Sometimes heroes organize their community to assist flood victims, sometimes they make the world better for their children and children everywhere. Sometimes they mount protests against unjust laws which contravene the spirit and ethos of a nation.

Other times: they take aim at publicly traded entertainment conglomerates for their misguided programming selections.

That's enough East Coast Bias for SF Chronicle Giants beat guy Henry Schulman, fuckyouverymuch ESPN. He isn't watching again until Tim Lincecum and his Giants get some screen time.

That's not true or fair. He, like most people, is just sick of the Mets. While, yes, the New York Mets skirt the "perverse joke" line on an all-to regular basis; they've somehow made their way on to the national broadcast schedule three weeks in a row. I know! The nerve!

Schulman acknowledges the pricey TV deal ESPN pays helps fund all clubs, even those teams needing to the World Series and World Cup in the same year to have a shot at usurping the Yankees/Red Sox TV hegemony. Then why the boycott? You'll teach them, fan-they-aren't-targeting-anyway.

Call me cynical, but announcing this tidy boycott on the website of San Francisco's leading newspaper wouldn't be a blatant attempt at baiting the downtrodden left coasters looking to bash the cruel daddies from the east? The 700-odd comments I refuse to read surely feature balanced back-and-forth points discussing the finer points of mass marketing and the value of early prime time ad spots. Almost for sure.

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In a Tuesday tilt against the Mets, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips disappointed his team and his manager when he failed to bust his butt out of the batters box on what he presumed was his second home run of the game. After taking a John Maine pitch deep, Phillips lowered his head and began his tater trot; unfortunately, the ball stayed in the park and he ended up with just a double.

Craig Calcaterra's headline on the incident? "Brandon Phillps' lack of hustle costs him a triple". Also according to Craig, his "lack of hustle" cost the Reds the game, since the team lost by just one run and the hitter after Phillips came through with a long sac fly. Funny, I feel like the few feet that Phillips' hit fell short cost the Reds the game, not Phillips' apparent lack of hustle.

That story led me to posit this: when we read about players who display a "lack of hustle", chances are that player is a minority. This is just a hypothesis, though, and I need some hard evidence to back it up.

Here, then, is an incomplete list of black or Latino players whose names show up in game stories, op-ed columns, and assorted player quotes when one searches Google for the phrase "lack of hustle" and the word "baseball" (takes deep breath):

Elijah Dukes, Julio Lugo, B.J. Upton, Jose Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Jimmy Rollins, Benito Santiago, Willy Taveras, Matt Kemp, Milton Bradley, Derek Bell, Albert Belle, Fernando Martinez, Alex Rios, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Edwin Encarnacion, Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, and Andruw Jones.

That's a whopping twenty-one different minority players, most of recent vintage, and all were called out for an apparent "lack of hustle". I could go on, but B.J. Upton's name showed up so many times I began to feel bad for him.

So, how many white players showed up in the search results? One. That's it, just one. David Wright, and the item was on a silly fantasy news website, hardly a bastion of hard-hitting journalism. This was not a case of cherry-picking results to prove my point; no, I searched long and hard to find exceptions! Twenty-one black or Latino players were called out for "lack of hustle" by a writer and/or manager, versus just one white player. This is not a coincidence.

Are we to believe that David Wright is the only white player in the majors who had problems hustling? Has Adam Dunn never lollygagged? Did Cal Ripken run out every single infield grounder? Doubtful. Yet we never hear of managers or columnists calling out white guys for "lack of hustle".

Still, there is no reason to call out any single writer for leaning too hard on this simple, cliched phraseology. Nor is there any evidence that points to any single writer being a closet racist. Still, the evidence is vast: whenever the phrase "lack of hustle" is used, chances are the player is black or Latino. This is disturbing!

Besides, how are we to quantifiably measure "hustle", a quality that is merely subjective? To an old-timer, watching Brandon Phillips admire what he thought was a home run is "lack of hustle". To another, it was a mental lapse and lack of judgment. Phillips may not have busted his ass out of the box after the hit but he sure clobbered the heck out of that baseball. To say that the Reds lost the game because Phillips didn't properly "hustle" seems like a stretch, at best.

Brandon Phillips is human, and when he erred, he showed it. I was not inside Brandon's head when he smashed that baseball, but does anyone really think he thought, "Darn, I'm tired! Let me just trot a bit here so as not to exert too much energy!" No, he didn't run it out; perhaps it was half hubris and half misjudgment. But to attack his character with that horrid phrase smacks of prejudice.

"Hustle" is just as bad a measure of a player's character as it is a measure of his skill-set. If we, as baseball fans, constantly resurrect the ghost of Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle, every time the topic of hustle comes up, we are automatically discrediting the concept. Sure, Pete Rose was said to display hustle with his 'grit' and 'gumption' and 'moxie', but he also took a giant shit on the sanctity of the game, admitted it, and was banned from baseball for life. Perhaps he "hustled" when he played the game, but Pete Rose also "hustled" when he was rushing to place bets on his own damn team.

I say we do away with evaluating players based on something so unmeasurable and irrelevant as "hustle". Instead, let us look at ability, and character, and something we don't see on the playing field during game day: work ethic. Let us shed forever the phrase "lack of hustle" when talking about any player, regardless of race. It's pointless.

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How does that old saying go? Raypril showers bring May regressions spurred by peripheral statistics? I'm sure I've messed that up somehow. Either way, unless you've decided to ignore April baseball altogether, you're likely aware that the Tampa Bay Rays are partying like it's 2008 and are off to a fast start. They're atop the AL East at the moment and there's no shortage of glowing pieces being penned about the reason for the Rays success. Like this one!

The Rays' 19-7 record is built on pitching, and lots of it. Tampa came into the week with the best team earned run average in the American League at 2.97, and the starting pitching has been particularly dominant with a collective 2.63 ERA.

(snip)

The Rays' run differential is plus-70. For a bit of perspective, only three AL teams had a greater run differential than that for the entire 2009 season -- the Angels, the Yankees and the Red Sox -- and none of the three are particularly close to the Rays this year. In fact, the Angels and Red Sox both have actually allowed more runs than they've scored.

Wow, that is mighty impressive. But what Hickey, the author of that Fanhouse piece, fails to mention even once in his article is defense. FOR SHAME I SAY!

Now, you may be wondering why it would be necessary to mention that. Well for one, while the Rays may be leading all of MLB in ERA, they also sport the worst ERA/FIP differential in all of baseball to boot. The gap is over a run. In short, their starters aren't this good, but rather they're being boosted by some ridiculously good play behind them. Is it any coincidence that the Rays also lead the league in defense according to UZR? Doubt it!

Defense: it's the new hotness. Allowing average pitchers to overachieve since nineteen dickety two.

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Longtime Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was honored on Capitol Hill yesterday prior to his Braves getting whomped by Livan Hernandez and the Nats; some Congressional staffer thought it would be funny to "accidentally" misspell his last name on the celebratory cake. The offices of Senator Johnny Isakson (R, Ga) are trying to blame the bakery but c'mon, the 11-year-old boy inside of me doesn't believe it. Also, he's thirsty and wants water.

Watson said she informed a Braves spokesperson of what happened. She wasn't sure if Cox ever was told.

And what happened to those pieces of cake that were cut out?

"We smeared the icing so you couldn't make out what it said," she said.

(photo swiped from the Jeff Schultz blog)

Tom Hicks' Debt Becomes Key Player In AL West Race

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One kinda big story that continues to fly under the radar is the potential sale of the Texas Rangers. We covered it here in December primarily because Nolan Ryan had intimated that if the sale went through to Dennis Gilbert, the man believed to be the likely new owner, Ryan would have left the Rangers and that woulda been a big fat L for the team. Five months have passed, and while there is a new likely new guy, the sale still appears light years away due to the debt amassed by current "owner" (perhaps the only one in baseball who could give Jeff Loria a run for his money in an anti-popularity contest), Tom Hicks. Things are getting so bad that, wait for it, MLB may have to seize control of the Rangers. Oof.

You see, Hicks agreed in January to sell the team led by a lawyer named Chuck Greenberg, a guy endorsed by Ryan, for around $500M but the Hicks Sports Group has amassed over $525M in debt and its creditors, led by a hedge fund, think Hicks could get more than he's getting from Greenberg. And baseball is the only one that can block their block. Get it?

Both MLB and Hicks are believed to strongly favor Greenberg's roughly $500 million offer, the latter due to Ryan's involvement and the former because Greenberg has agreed to buy a huge tract of land surrounding Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, owned by Hicks, and not by HSG. But Monarch Alternative Capital, which holds about $100 million of the $525 million in defaulted debt, and about 40 other creditors are seeking to block that deal, which they call the cheapest of three bids for the team.

MLB believes that it can deprive the bondholders of their right to block the sale, as their contracts are with HSG. The creditors would doubtless dispute that contention in court; in the meantime, MLB is trying to act as a mediator between the two sides.

The article goes on to state that "baseball has been helping the Rangers meet their payroll " to the tune of about $16M. And with the Rangers leading a still tight AL West, that in its current iteration they have to think they can win, a little deadline spending may in order this summer. Not likely if MLB takes the team on as a business concern. Remember the Expos death rattle?

The Rangers also have what is considered to be some of the best top to bottom organizational talent (as I found out from the first paragraph of this Keith Law article not hidden behind the Insider paywall) and need solid organizational leadership to foster its growth.

All this could turn into a potential nightmare ending to what has to be one of the most optimistic times in the team's history. So remember kids, don't get credit cards!

CIA Dope Calypso: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Blue Jays at Indians, 12:05: The Indians are falling like a rock. Anyone read the Plain Dealer Comment of the Day lately? Me either, but I have a feeling it was written on a bridge. What's the worst all-time winning pct for a manager with at least 3 years of games? Manny Acta's gonna be damn close isn't he? Brandon Morrow takes on Fausto!.
  • Mets at Reds, 12:35: Rubs in Cincy. The Mets had five solo homers last night including the go ahead 9th inning shot from the most fun name to say in MLB, Rod Barajas. Today the Reds trot out Johnny Cueto a man who's flirted with 30 HR allowed in each of his first two seasons. Ma, get the Heinz. Tots-a-poppin.

  • Orioles at Yankees, 1:05: The Yankees have the broom out illustrating a key difference between them and the Red Sox thus far in 2010. They can sweep baseball's worst team instead of being swept by them. That and defense win championships. David Hernandez takes on Zombie Undead Andy Petitte.

  • Twins at Tigers, 1:10: Minnesota's got the dustpan and can really get an early handle on the AL Central. Detroit starter Rick Porcello's ERA is around 8, and it aint like he had one terrible early start and is climbing his way back. Dude has given up at least 5 runs in each of his last 3 starts. Kevin Slowey goes for Minnesota. He's 3-0 career against DET despite having a 6.20 ERA. LAUGHABLE.

  • Rangers at A's, 3:35: First Place Texas (more on them later) could drop a half game back of Oakland if they lose the rubber match of this series today. Vlad Guerrero had a ding dong and 5 RBI in last night's loss. Colby Lewis makes the start for the Rangers fresh off a CG shutout against the Mariners. Trevor Cahill is on the mound for the A's who're 3-7 in their last ten.

Less than a year after making the tender speech below in front of thousands of Tigers fans and millions of baseball fans across America, legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell died Tuesday at home at the age of 92. Please re-watch the video below if you've seen it before; if it's your first time, get a hankie ready.


Harwell had a charming, distinct Southern voice that could convert anyone into a Tigers supporter, he was a songwriter and a poet, he was an author and spun some of the most memorable imagery to the radio listener. But our mere tribute cannot even begin to honor the man; you must now go to the Detroit blog Roar of the Tigers to see the great tribute that Samara Pearlstein illustrated in honor of Ernie.

Finally, here is a passage from the Song of Solomon, from which both Ernie Harwell and "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz loved to quote when the beginning of the baseball season rolled around every year:

My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land;

Farewell, Ernie. You will be missed.

My Awesome Bill James Story From Last Night

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So last night I was at Fenway covering the game for some freelance stuff. As is usually the case I spent a few innings outside the press box once I had finished transcribing my work. I got a hot dog and was headed to watch some at bats from on top of the Monster. As I walked behind the third base grandstands I saw Bill James by himself in the standing room only area. I stopped and stood next to him like an obvious creep.

As James snuck a peek at my press credential to try and determine who the person that was about to annoy him worked for, the game was tied 1-1 in the 8th. JD Drew, probably my favorite Sox player, was at bat with Kevin Youkilis on first. Drew worked the count full and fouled off 3 straight pitches. I was about to turn to James and say my big line: "I think he's got him here."

Instead, he turned to me and said "I think he's got him here."

And then I said, "I was about to say that to you!"

And then Drew knocked a ball to right center to jumpstart a big inning and help the Red Sox take the lead and Bill James and I laughed and slapped each other on the back as the crowd went animal crackers.

It was wicked cool. The end.

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Some might argue that the month of April already has it's owner, but, in all fairness to "Raypril," some individual hitters had themselves quite the opening month in 2010. I won't even mention the youngster Austin Jackson, who is leading all of the major leagues in hitting, because of some extreme mitigating circumstances in that particular case.1 Rather, we're here to consider Paul Konerko and Andre Ethier, both of whom are off to rousing starts in 2010, and what their early season performance reminds us about when it comes to the nature of the baseball season. Let's consider their numbers to date.

Konerko: .296 BA, 12HR, 24 RBI, .709 SLG, 215 OPS+

Ethier: .365BA, 9HR, 26RBI, .729 SLG, 207 OPS+

It is worth nothing that many of these stats lead their respective leagues. For example, both men lead their home leagues in HR, SLG and OPS. Ethier, who Tommy Lasorda refers to as his "adopted Mexican Grandson"2 also leads the NL in BA and RBI. As WoWies, we should all be extremely happy that the King Of The Walkoff Walks is enjoying some hearty early season success.3 The numbers above don't lie, both dudes are off to a monstrous start, but in reality, it's still just a little over a month of data.

Obviously some regression to the mean should be expected, and the ZiPS projection system, which attempts to predict performance come the end of the season, has both guys coming back to earth. Shocking! You mean to tell me that Paul Konerko won't hit 11 homers a month to finish with over 70 come the end of the year? Get out of here!

In truth, the numbers to start off the season in April and early May are only that... a start. These two players are a prime example of that. While Ethier may end up cracking the Top 5 on an MVP ballot this season, and Konerko might return to his supremely productive self from the early 2000s, there's still far too much time left in the season to be throwing around weighty and senseless statements about teams/players before we've even been given the chance to see substantive performances from a lot of folks.4 While things may look bad in Boston and great in San Diego, in the long run, we all know all too well how come September there are still meaningful games to be played for a lot of these teams, and that division leaders in April are by no means a fixture. Just ask the Mets!

So do your best to ignore the Doomsday talk on Twitter and the rest of the Internet. You can save the hand-wringing for July.

1He is hitting .521 (!) on balls in play. This number also leads the league. STILL MISS U AJAX, FORTHCOMING REGRESSION AND ALL!

2 False.

3I'm doubly happy because I own both hitters in the Walkoff Walk Fantasy Baseball League. And I'm in first place.*

4 However, you are allowed, nay encouraged, to say that David Ortiz is finished and that Javier Vazquez is the worst pitcher ever.

*Yo dawg I heard you liked footnotes so we just put a footnote in your footnote so you can annotate while you annotate: I know nobody cares about anybody's fantasy teams. Sorry!

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During the Phillies-Cardinals tilt last night, this young feller above chose the risk many consider but few take when he hopped over the wall and ran about the outfield. According to witnesses on the Tweetosphere, he didn't even get a chance to disrobe and urinate on second base before he was summarily tasered by an angry cop.

I'd feign shock that the police were allowed to use such devices on a mere streaker but then I recall the time last year when that old dude got tased at the A's game. Precedent: set. Video below:


(photo via TSNProducerTim and The 700 Level and the Stew and what the hey, The Fightins)

Because we are not afraid to be service-y and get you excited for August's HEIST in Pittsburgh (send me your money!), here is yet another PNC Park video board intro to the Pirates' popular mid-inning promotion that is the hot dog shoot (previously):


Covenant Church of Pittsburgh Ensemble, you've just won yourselves the entire day.

Bad Water, Worse Baseball

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It didn't take a half hour for the Standells jokes to start. On Saturday afternoon, on what was the finest day of weather the city has seen this year, Boston Police cruised down Centre St. in my Jamaica Plain neighborhood announcing that our water was unsafe to imbibe, cook with, or brush our teeth with. They rolled slowly down the balmy and packed weekend streets speaking calmly through a bullhorn. It was like a combination of "Summer In The City" and Don DeLillo. Coffee, gone. Restaurants, crippled. Boiling for use to eliminate potential parasites was less than appealing when the temperature hit 85 yesterday.

Showering has been fine. We're using backup reserves from Chestnut Hill Reservoir. It's basically like pond water, although its proximity to BC makes me think I smell a little Natty Ice in it. But in general, an inconvenience of this magnitude (and that's what anyone should call it unless someone dies) is all encompassing. I didn't even know that a car bomb had been discovered in Times Square until this morning.

And it isn't even the worst thing that happened this weekend since the Red Sox got swept by the Orioles.

Add Kevin Youkilis to the injury pile, along with 3 outfielders. Snuff out any rotational optimism after Dice-K got shelled in his return (and then Wakefield got slammed trying to relieve him). The Red Sox leave April with a losing record for the first time since 1996. That year they "rebounded" to go 85-77 but still finished 7 games back. And in 2010, that record will leave you even further out. You karmic or religious types could speculate that our plague of unclean water was either a result of, or punishment for their putrid play. But they didn't even have the decency to be around for it. They were getting pantsed in Baltimore.

Even Dan Shaughnessy was out of town, which seems unfair. He was in Cleveland covering the Celtics (another one of my favorite teams for whom I am not particularly optimistic regarding the coming week, Go Bruins) and writing about how much he loves that city, particularly its "cab drivers who speak English and know their way around town." As opposed to our drivers here in Boston who only speak Klingon and are constantly driving into the ocean. How come he didn't have to be here to suffer with the rest of us? Why does circumstance have such a lousy sense of justice?

Today it is somehow both 80 degrees and grey/drizzly and I still can't go to the cafe for an iced tea. That bottled stuff is swill. Luckily, The Red Sox start a 3 game set with the also suffering and just swept Angels. Clay Buchholz, one of two bright spots for the team at the moment**, is on the mound and if the Sox don't snap out of it I might cry. At least then I could use my tears to brush my teeth.

*Look at that roster.
**FSSJD Drew being the other. 3 HR in the Baltimore series

(Photo stolen from Pat Greenhouse of the Boston Globe)

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While engaged in a recent discussion about the career credentials of longtime White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, the possibility arose that we might one day see Buehrle end up enshrined in Cooperstown. Why not, I said, he's got an interesting résumé: a ledger full of wins, a perfect game, a World Series ring, not to mention that time Buehrle once fought off a tyrannosaurus rex with his meaty fists of fury. Besides, it's the Hall of Fame, and Mark Buehrle is famous. The mere fact that folks are having discussions about his candidacy should be enough to get him in. I call that the "Jim Rice Rule".

But after doing a bit of research at Baseball-Reference.com, one learns that Buehrle's most similar pitcher over the course of his entire career is one Tom Browning. This similarity score, as calculated by Sean Forman based off Bill James' writings, only takes into account the most basic of stats (accumulation of wins, losses, ERA, strikeouts, etc) so let's investigate this comparison a bit more:

  • Both pitchers are lefties just a bit over six feet tall.

  • Both received Cy Young votes in only one year of their careers.

  • Both spent their careers playing for a flyover team and both won a single World Series ring.

  • Both threw a perfect game despite not being high strikeout pitchers.

It turns out Browning never made a big splash in the Hall of Fame election pool because he battled injuries late in his career, including that time in 1994 when he actually broke his freaking arm throwing a pitch. He retired a year later at age 35 after a brief comeback attempt with the Royals, but we can actually peg his career downfall to age 31, when he began to miss time with ouchies.

Prior to his age 31 season, Browning was 93-61 in his career for the Reds with an ERA+ of 103 and recorded twice as many strikeouts as walks. After that age 31 season, he was 30-29 and had a far worse ERA+ of 86; his strikeout number fell while his walk rate rose.

Mark Buehrle turned 31 in March and, including his second half slump that followed his magical perfect game last season, has since been down in the dumps. Prior to this season, he was 135-97 for the ChiSox with a boffo ERA+ of 122 and more than 2.5 times as many K's as BBs. This year? Not even including yesterday's flop in the Bronx, Buehrle sports an ERA+ of 93 and is not getting guys out with his cutter anymore.

PECOTA does no favors for Buehrle's future, either. It projects him to be at best a 2 WAR pitcher for a few years and then drop off into the replacement level chasm that swallowed up teammate Freddy Garcia in aught-seven. So, with Buehrle's contract due to expire after the 2011, the day might soon come when we are no longer privy to his fast-paced stylings and charming presence on the White Sox.

But don't let this comparison piece serve to bury Buehrle before his time is up. Unlike Browning, Buehrle has not yet shown any health issues. Will Carroll continually gives him the green light in his annual health risk roundup. After all, Buehrle's a hearty fellow who has never failed to reach 200 innings in a season. Perhaps a move to the NL to his beloved hometown Cardinals would be in order come 2012.

Recent struggles aside, can Buehrle revert to form and get back to being an all-consuming consumer of innings? Can he once again assert his husky stature on the mound and confuse batters with his tidy pace and mystifying cutter? Perhaps, but his chances of making the Hall of Fame one day won't improve if he can't get off the schneid. Watch out for that T-rex, big fella.



I am not sure who I am supposed to dislike in this video. Is it the 40,000+ fans engaging in what the narrator deems the first time he's ever seen The Wave at legendary Wrigley Field? Or is it the narrator himself who declares this to be the worst day in baseball history? Or is it Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans who unleashes a profanity-filled tirade at all parties involved and ends up insulting the entire baseball-going population of the North Side in the process? Or is the British, who call this demonstration "The Mexican Wave" in their gawky slang?

(via the good gentlefolks at Drunk Jays Fans)