June 2010 Archives

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, hang up the damn phone

And that's the end of our show. Just throw your garbage on the floor, A.J. Pierzynski will clean it up, that pig. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

fat-cat.jpgThe Chicago White Sox are, after their recent tear through the interleague schedule, improbably smack dab in the middle of the AL Central race. No team that starts both Juan Pierre and Omar Vizquel at the top of the same lineup can be taken too seriously; no matter how hilariously it is managed by Ozzie Guillen.

On the whole, the Sox rank as one of the most detestable teams in baseball, from Ozzie Guillen and Harriet Williams out front and weapons-grade douchebag A.J. Pierzynski pulling up the rear. The Sox bullpen is an interesting study as its staffed exclusively by surly, flame-throwing dollops of angry humanity.

The Padres pen might have a "cool" nickname and the requisite line of apparel, the White Sox pen is nothing to sneeze at - mostly because they'll eat and/or sit on you for doing so. Ozzie's usage pattern pretty much ensures that every half inning sees a bigger, harder throwing guy with an ugly disposition and even worse facial hair emerge from the pen. Consider this handy dandy chart displaying their strikeout prowess and great love of uncooked cookie dough.

Fat Guy Height Weight K per 9 Average Fastball (mph)
Bobby Jenks 6'4 275 10.86 94.7
J.J. Putz 6'5 250 10.73 93.9
Matt Thornton 6'6 235 12.791 95.9
Sergio Santos 6'3 240 11.1 95.8
Scott Linebrank 6'3 220 9.57 93.5
Tony Pena 6'2 230 6.27 94.2

Has Kenny Williams cracked some sort of fat guy pitching algorithm? Surely big dudes that throw hard and miss bats are in steady supply around baseball - guys like that get nothing but chances. Maybe there's something to this - load up the back-end of your pen with back-end loaded hurlers? Consider the relationship of Sox hurlers BMI to their K rate.

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Though Slothy Tony Pena ruins the relationship almost completely, it is easy to see that fatness = strikeouts. If strikeouts are the key to pitching victory, that must mean the ChiSox pen is one of the best in baseball?

Would you believe it, they are! Ozzie's rotund pen ranks second in baseball with a tidy xFIP of 3.67. Four of the above behemoths sport FIPs under 4. Converted shortstop (!) Sergio Santos, soon-to-be-a-wealthy-closer-again J.J. Putz, a certain blogger's secret boyfriend Matt Thornton, and tradebait hillbilly Bobby Jenks all break wills, bats, and buffets on the regular. The White Sox aren't likely to continue to challenge in the Central, but Crazy Ozzie has no worries when his starters carry a lead into the late innings.

1 - Laugh Out Loud.

Old Ed: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Phillies at Reds, 12:35: The Phils trot out their ace to try and snatch rubber. Aaron Harang goes for the Reds. K's are down and ERA is up for Harang, although 3 out of his last 4 starts have been Quality. Ryan Howard has 3 HR in 15 career ABs against him. Pencil another one in for today.

  • Tigers at Twins, 1:10: Andy Oliver vs. Kevin Slowey in another rubber match. Winner of this one leaves the series with the division lead. That'll make anyone's July 4 BBQ taste better. Except Joel Zumaya.

  • Astros at Brewers, 2:10: Wandy Rodriguez vs. Dave Bush. What are you having for lunch.

  • Snakes at Cards, 2:15: Broom in St. Louis. The Cards have snuck back into 1st by a half game continuing the forbidden dance of victory that seems destined to enchant the Middlewest for the rest of the summer. Barry Enwright vs. Jeff Suppan. Gotta love a dude named Barry. Always solid. Do we have any readers named Barry? Speak up!

  • Pirates at Cubs, 2:20: Chicago won last night! They're still just 3-8 on the year vs. the Bucs but could maybe grab some rubber. Brad "Don't Call Me Barry" Lincoln vs. Tom Gorzelanny.

  • 2 more games later in the day. 4 NL West teams. Check em out.
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Despite reports, rumours, and photoshops that indicated otherwise, Jeffrey Loria will not be hiring ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine to manage the Marlins for the second half of 2010. Instead, J-Lo will play the hand he was dealt, sticking with former New Orleans Zephyrs manager Edwin Rodriguez, because why not, amirite?

Ending a week of speculation, the Marlins decided to give Edwin Rodriguez - the interim manager they summoned to replace Fredi Gonzalez - the chance to continue leading the team for the remainder of the season. Loria told Rodriguez he was hired about 30 minutes before the game, told the team just before the first pitch, and the inspired Marlins went on to beat the New York Mets 7-6.

"It gives everybody peace of mind," left fielder Chris Coghlan said.

It doesn't give bloggers, peace of mind, Chrissy. Bobby Valentine is comedy gold for sports blogs! And with him ghettoized on ESPN's Baseball Tonight, a show that nobody with access to MLB Network should ever, ever watch, we're stuck waiting until another managerial job opens up before Bobby V. can rear his surgically-stretched face again.

Good for Edwin Rodriguez, though, the first Puerto Rican manager in the big leagues and certainly a dude who is appreciated by the Florida players. The whole announcement is extra special for Rodriguez with the Marlins playing the Mets in Puerto Rico this week. What a homecoming! It'd be like the the Tampa Bay Rays announcing a contract extension for Joe Maddon while playing a weekend series in the wine department of the Tribeca Whole Foods.

But what of Bobby Valentine? What caused Loria and team pres-o-dent David Samson to sour on the self-proclaimed inventor of wrap sandwiches? Was there a problem buying out Bobby V's contract with ESPN? Could the two parties not agree on money? Contract length? Or did something more sinister happen, like the composing of a paragraph entirely out of questions?

Perhaps Loria realized that he could save a few sheckels by staying with the in-house guy. After all, he'll need all the money to fight off the PETA lunatics.

The Oil Ball Game: Congressional Baseball Wrap-Up

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Yesterday, Nationals Park in Washington DC played host to some offensive explosions but on this day BP stood for "batting practice." And how! Hasn't that poor company suffered enough? Republican congressional baseball team captain Joe Barton sure thinks so. He's the dude that apologized to company chief Tony Heyward during congressional hearings. But hey, let's give Barton a break. He's really been preparing for this game! He can't decide what his favorite part of baseball is. Drilling a line drive or slick fielding.

(Billy) Shuster is only one of more than two dozen Republican lawmakers who've been practicing together every day at 7 a.m. for more than two months. Team captain Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) has made every practice. "We need dedication to get this trophy back," he told ITK, "so I've been out there every day."

"We'll start [Rep. John] Shimkus (R- Ill.) on the mound again this year," he said, "but there are a lot of players looking really good."

Also looking strong, Barton noted, are Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.).

Connie Mack is good at baseball? I'm floored. You may remember Duncan Hunter as the cuckoo former Republican Presidential candidate that wanted to build a 2,000 mile long border fence from the Pacific to the Gulf Of Mexico (there's that place again!). Presumably, he just wanted to hit some fungoes over it.

The Democrats won last year and were looking to repeat. Which is absolutely shocking when you read these quotes from their team captain.

"I'm looking for a win by maybe five points, which is what we had last year," Democrats' team captain Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) told ITK. Last summer Democrats beat the GOP 15-10.

Starting on the mound will be go-to pitcher, Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) (shown here warming up). "Baca's just such a consistent pitcher," said Doyle, "but what's great is that our back-up pitcher, [Rep.] Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) can strike people out, too.

"When you only play once a year, you're going to make some errors," said Doyle, "so we've got to hit a lot, make contact, and score points so that we can afford a few errors."

Sigh. Thank god there's no video of that dude throwing.

Despite an imperfect grasp on the terminology Doyle's last bit of strategy is actually sound not only for baseball but also for getting elected to office when you're a moron. It's been working for both teams for years.

So what happened in the game? The Republicans, including tiny third base coach Pete Sessions (FLAMENCO!) who had spent all afternoon poking Elena Kagan with a stick trying to get her to cry, got thumped 13-5. Game was knotted at 4-4 in the 6th inning, but in the top of the 7th (and final) inning the Dems really knocked the ol' tar ball around scoring 9 runs off Shimkus. Shiiiiiiiiiimkuuuuus! Shiiiiiiiiimkuuuuuusssss!

There's always next year, Joe Barton. If you're not locked up or expunged from your party, you crook.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you can't live in the fridge.

  • HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT GBV IS GONNA PLAY A SHOW IN OCTOBER??? Field trip.

  • CAN the Tigers extend their newly minted division lead against the Twins? Sorry, Sooze.

  • CAN the Pirates improve to 9-2 against the Cubs this season? LOU, YOUR BUTT IS ON FIRE.

  • YOU know where I bet there's some amazing ballpark food? At the Mets/Marlins series in San Juan. Marlins spanked em last night.

  • WILL Yankee announcers (and fans) show any restraint in licking their chops over Cliff Lee tonight in Seattle?
Have a good night. This sweltering Northeast heat is supposed to break. That'll be nice. We'll be back for you in the morning. Be ready when we honk. Same WoW channel.
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The Rays and Red Sox square off at Fenway tonight, and try to create a little breathing room at the top of the claustrophobic AL East. They won't be able to change all that muc as this is one of those interleague bookending nub series, but still. A minisweep for one team would have them feeling pretty good I imagine. As always, injuries are playing a key role in the division and there are quite a few of them between the top three teams. Let's have a look.

New York Yankees

  • Brett Gardner: He has a little bruise on his wrist and is day to day.

  • Mariano Rivera: Stuffed himself at dinner last night. Shouldn't have had that second helping of lima beans. Good to go for next game.

Tampa Bay Rays

Boston Red Sox

  • Josh Beckett: Out since May 19, the Sox nominal ace has made just 8 starts, half of them injury plagued stinkers. He's on track to begin rehab assignments in the next couple weeks and could possibly be ready to come back to the majors by July 31.

  • Dustin Pedroia: The team's hottest hitter over the past 3 weeks broke his foot on a foul ball in SF. He won't need surgery (laser or otherwise) but will still miss 6 weeks.

  • Jacoby Ellsbury: The opening day LF has missed almost the entire season with a rib injury and is acting all weird about it. He hasnt been with the team since June 9 and is staying in Arizona for the forseeable future. Either he hates immigrants or he's got something very contagious. Stay tuned.

  • Mike Cameron: Cameron is also suffering from an abdominal injury that will be with him all season. While he is currently playing he can do so in no more than 3 consecutive games at a time. That's called the Rocco Baldelli Memorial Creampuff Glass Ceiling, folks!

  • Clay Buchholz: Strained his hamstring in SF running to second base. Could miss next start, but may just get extra rest.

  • Jeremy Hermida: Also hurt his ribs. Finally swining a bat after missing more than month. Looking to start rehab assignments next week.

  • Victor Martinez: Caught a foul tip off the thumb in, sigh, SF and fractured it. He doesn't need surgery but is still headed to the deel.

What was it Drew said on a podcast about keeping players healthy being the new moneyball? Can the Red Sox please please please lead that charge? Please?

Lou Piniella Is Gonna Get Fired

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The Cubs are having a terrible, terrible season. And the recent success of the White Sox (though they've dropped 2 straight) has only put the mess over on the North Side into starker relief. Carlos Zambrano has had one of the strangest years in recent memory, first being demoted from #1 starter to the bullpen, and now being shelved for an indeterminate amount of time due to a hissy fit he threw in the dugout on Friday. He's on the restricted list and it sounds like they're hauling him off to the funny farm.

"Beginning Wednesday, Carlos will undergo a treatment program with mutually agreed upon doctors from the Players' Association and Major League Baseball," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Monday. "Basically, he will have to follow the treatment for his issues and be evaluated properly, and if the program is acted on properly in accordance to what the doctors they signify he needs to work on and improve on, and follow their directives, Carlos will not be reinstated any time until after the All-Star break."

Asked specifically what type of doctor Zambrano would see, Hendry declined to elaborate.

"We've obviously had a lot of transgressions with Carlos in the past so I think we all agreed that it was time to go and get help, then address the apologies later," Hendry said.

So there's your update from Hendry. Apparently, Kevin Millar is the only person that's spoken to Zambrano and, you'll never believe this, had a bunch of stuff to say. I won't blockquote any of it because then I'll have his voice inside my head. Seems like you can comment on the situation from everyone except Cubs' manager. You remember him, right? He used to be Lou Piniella.

Buzz Bissinger, who I used to really like until I started following him on Twitter, was basically advocating for the firing of Piniella last night. And unlike the benefits of constantly using the word "douchejuice", it's hard to disagree with him on this one. Fredi Gonzalez got canned in Miami after having a better record than the Cubs with a much lower payroll. Personnel issues and dissent may have done him in, and Piniella's got the mother of all those at the moment. Trey Hillman got fired in KC by a team with approximately 0 expectations, but nearly the same winning pct. There is no legitimate reason to keep Piniella on past July if the Cubs are still 10 games out and he continues to seemingly not care.

It's hard to imagine Piniella getting canned by anyone. He's a guy that seems like he's never had a boss in his life, no matter what his job was. But it's coming. Maybe it will come as a "resignation" but we'll all know. It'll be a bitter send off to a memorable managerial career, but it can't be any worse than having to sit through the rest of this stinker.



For those of you who want to be informed of Walkoff Walk updates in the Twittersphere but can't stand my inane blatherings, we've gone and created a new Twitter account that will only push out tweets when the blog is updated. That's it. No live-tweeting of Jerry Seinfeld in the broadcast booth. No photos of my fancy dinners. No commentary on lesser sports like soccer. Just the good stuff.

If you already follow @iracane, then there's no need to follow @Walkoff_Walk because you'll just be inundated with duplicate updates. And don't forget to follow the entire WoW crew for the rest of our bon mots.

Nota bene: do not attempt to follow @walkoffwalk sans underscore because that's just some dork who squatted on our blog name. How dare he! Or she!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, they have a name for that at Olive Garden.

Goodnight, you people. We're all into it. Even Baby Satan. Same WoW channel.

Drinking, Gambling and Snorking (sic) With Rick Dempsey

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Remember the Rick Dempsey Cruise Guy? We had a lot of fun with him and his video ended up getting picked up all over the blogosphere. Great pub, right? Well Cruise Guy didn't think so, and he pulled the video.

So imagine my delight when he upped the ante this afternoon by having Rick Dempsey 1983 World Series MVP do a promo himself. There's cocktails, there's a little gambling, there is the possibility he "may put on a show" and who knows what that would entail. But most importantly, once you all get to Bermuda... there will be Snorking. Make sure you're not drinking anything around the 00:50 mark. Oh, cruiseandlandtours. You are the most wonderful YouTube account of all time. Don't pull this gem from us, please.

If there's one thing in the world that could cheer up Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker, it's an interview with the jolly Cee-Lo lookalike Windell Middlebrooks, who you might recognize from his numerous TV spots. Yes, he portrays the sassy Miller High Life deliveryman who travels from posh spot to posh spot to 'reclaim' the low-end beer from folks he deems too fancy to consume said swill. I suppose Windell's character is like a chubby Robin Hood who robs piss beer from the rich to give to thirsty hipsters.

Anyway, good for Windell to give back to the community and raise some cash at Miller Park so that our war veterans can go to NASCAR races, or something. Good on Geoff Baker for zooming in so close to our hero's face, too.


(via Geoff Baker's Twilight Fan Blog Mariners Blog)

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Open up the brown-guys-don't-hustle file, Mabel: we've got ourselves another case of a minority player being accused of dogging it. In this case, Rays teammates Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton tussled in the dugout when Longoria allegedly gave Upton the business for not running full speed in the outfield:

B.J. Upton had to be restrained by teammates in the dugout after having a heated exchange with 3B Evan Longoria.

That came after Upton didn't run hard to chase down a ball hit into the gap that became a triple for Rusty Ryal in the top of the fifth. Gerardo Parra followed with a two-run homer.

It appeared Longoria initiated the confrontation by saying something and Upton reacted angrily, yelling and pointing his finger, and had to be restrained by Willy Aybar.

You can see the video here (as long as MLBAM hasn't pulled it) and yes, it's true: B.J. Upton is obviously not going full speed to pick up the baseball. Also true: Evan Longoria has a duck's ass haircut. But seriously, can we get some solid evidence of a white player being accused of not hustling so I can stop playing the race card? Would it kill Chase Utley to dog it down the first base line on an easy grounder just so Jimmy Rollins get up in his face in the dugout? Let's switch it up a bit so I don't feel guilty and write about this every time it happens!

Rays manager Joe Maddon took Longoria's side, saying that Upton "didn't run as hard as he could have" and that Longoria's action was "a great example of a player taking action for the good of the team." Thing is, this was not the first time Maddon has taken umbrage with Upton's "lack of hustle". From August 2008, when Maddon benched Upton for not running out a groundout:

"When it comes down to individual effort, it takes absolutely zero talent - zero, zero talent to try hard or play hard every day," Maddon said. "I'm OK with physical mistakes. We talked about the mental mistakes, I want them to cut down and we have cut down on them a lot. I'm accepting of all that. The part I'm not accepting of is the part you can control, which is your effort."

Two years later and Joe Maddon is still trying to get his players to hustle their buns. But really, who can take a guy seriously when he shows up for work in a hoodie?

Weekend Questions

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That wraps up yet another eventful week at Walkoff Walk. Hope you enjoyed your ride. Please collect all personal belongings and escort children firmly by the hand. WATCH OUT FOR THAT MOVING WALKWAY!

See you Monday, same WoW channel.



Pandemonium in the streets of Detroit. Go figure. The Tigers had just won the title and this poor Doug Llewllyn looking shmoe is having a little trouble covering things for a local affiliate. The time honored "sceaming at people while you think the station has already cut to another shot" occurs at 00:43.

Though I'm having trouble finding any background on this story, I'm 100% positive he gets murdered by the two gentlemen that make their way into the shot at the end. Oh, the 80s. Simpler times for celebratory abduction. Please to enjoy.

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Per Jon Heyman's snoozy Twitter, the Marlins have reached a tentative agreement with Bobby Valentine to make him their new manager. Thus the Marlins evolve from hiring managers with jockey names to one with a bookie name. Mercifully this ends the will he/won't he drama that Valentine has been perpetuating for himself over the past 3 years.

It will be interesting to see how much the Marlins pay him. An ego like that don't come cheap.

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Nowhere in America is civic pride tied so closely to a city's sports teams than the fine town of Chicago. But these are no fairweather bandwagoneers, no sir. Politicians, businessfolk, and religious leaders alike even claim allegiance to the Cubs, who have stunk for longer than your nana has been alive. West Addison and Old Style, amirite? Win or lose, Chicagoans love to hate and hate to love their Cubbies.

So when news came out that a major city's baseball team would be supporting that same city's gay pride parade, I wasn't really surprised to learn it'd be the Chicago Cubs. I was surprised, however, to learn who the Cubs representative on their big gay float would be:

Sunday's parade will be different, with the Chicago Cubs entering a float and a player from the NHL champion Blackhawks set to tote the Stanley Cup down North Halsted Street.

The Cubs' participation was encouraged by new owner Tom Ricketts, who wanted the Cubs to be seen as "good neighbors," a team spokesman said.

While players from this year's lineup won't be on the team's float -- they'll be busy playing the White Sox -- "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks will.

Wow! They're not pulling any stops! You simply cannot get a bigger and better representative for the Cubs than THE Ernie Banks. But the dude is nearly 80 years old...has someone sat him down and explained exactly what sort of parade he'd be participating in? I'm not saying Ernie Banks would be against the gays, but really, gay pride parades are not normally the most...uh...restrained affairs.

Either way, I'm thrilled that a MLB team (and a championship hockey team!) are embracing the alternative lifestyle community in the Second City. Professional sports have a reputation of being both closeted and homophobic, which is bad. This is a step in the right direction, though.

Tonight's Questions

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Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey, kids!

Back tomorrow with more.

Today's Afternoon Games

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There are many. One of which has already begun. Chat away.

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Barely one week after his name was bandied about as a possible Orioles manager, noted wrap sandwich inventor and current ESPN pseudo-analyst Bobby Valentine has withdrawn his name from the running. Why? Well, a better opportunity has opened up with his old pal Jeff Loria.

Hours after firing (Fredi) Gonzalez Wednesday morning, management made another quick move by reaching out to Bobby Valentine about possibly taking over

Loria is good friends with Valentine, who managed the Texas Rangers when Loria owned the club's Class AAA team in Oklahoma in 1989-92.

"The relationship Bobby and Jeffrey have had as friends is not relevant in terms of our managerial search in any way,' (team president David) Samson said.

I don't doubt that Samson truly believes that nonsense, but if so, he must truly not comprehend Loria's megalomaniacal ways. After all, he's the guy who fired NL Manager of the Year Joe Girardi, who then went on to win the World Series with his new employer. With recent Loria victim Fredi Gonzalez linked to the red hot Braves, perhaps the same thing will happen twice. Jeff Loria will do whatever he damn well pleases! He's so crazy that he'll pattern an entire ballpark's design after surrealism. With a flippin' fishtank behind home plate.

I digress. Bobby Valentine is a big name, yes, and will probably cost a pretty penny given his recent success in Japan. Now we know why Loria was saving all that scoreboard money! But that doesn't mean he'll be successful in Florida. Yes, the Marlins have a ton of young talent but they are also playing in a tightly-contested division. Doubtful that a man with a career .510 winning percentage and but two career playoff appearances can vault them out of fourth place.

At least there is one bright side to all this nonsense: Bobby's departure from the state of Connecticut can only lead to more karaoke catfights at his restaurant.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, these aren't usually song lyrics.

  • GOT your eye on the White Sox? They've won 12 of 13 and are making a legitimate run at salvaging their season. Ozzie lives again! They'll try for 9 in a row against the Braves?

  • WILL the Red Sox drop another game in Colorado? Chances are good with Roxbaldo Jimenez on the mound.

  • HOW bout that soccer game today? I saw the winning goal on my lunchbreak. Good timing.

  • WHY are the Dodgers having so much trouble in the 2010 Freeway Series?

  • HOW will Edwin Rodriguez fare in his first game as Marlins manager? They're playing Tampa.

  • WHY do Marlins managers always have jockey names?

  • WAS that racist?

  • WILL Barry Zito and the Giants enjoy the fruits of intraleague play against the Astros?
I saw Phish last night. I still like to check in on them and the old hippie diaspora every couple of years. They were great. But I was mostly a zombie today. Rob done good. Back tomorrow. I saw you with a ticket stub in your hand. Same WoW channel.


Okay, so maybe this female warbler (Kathy Anderson) ain't that bad looking and who knows what Avril even looks like nowadays, but I couldn't think up any good Alanis Morissette jokes. Isn't that ironic?

Be forewarned: this Roy Halladay tribute video courtesy of the good folks at Drunk Jays Fans may inspire sadness among Blue Jays and Phillies fans alike. After all, the Jays fans weep that their all-time greatest pitcher has left them while the Philly faithful weep that the same guy is basically throwing batting practice this month.

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San Francisco magazine has an excellent interview with Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum in this month's issue. Writer Steve Kettmann sat down with the Freak and chatted about his approach to pitching, his off-day activities, and, most importantly, how his new-found fame has affected his diet. Says Tim:

"You're used to walking out into public and you don't get seen. Then the next day you get seen, and you're like, 'What the heck?! This totally changes everything!' Because it's like, do I want to deal with that? I just want to be able to go to In-N-Out Burger and get my three cheeseburgers and my fries with a shake and just go in and get out. It's called In-N-Out. But I've had times where I walk in there and I can't get out. The second you do get noticed, it's like: Here we go."

Timmy might be having a tough time getting his In-N-Out fix (after all, they don't do sometimes might not have drive-thrus!) but there is no amount of clamoring fans that can stop Tim from chewing as many pieces of gum as he wants in the dugout. Bubblicious!

Go read the interview.

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As per Palm Beach Post beat-blogger Joe Capozzi, the Florida Marlins have relieved manager Fredi Gonzalez of his duties, effective today. The Marlins are currently 34-36 and sit 7.5 games behind the first place Braves. Also getting pink slipped: bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley, who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a Sherman tank. Someone named Edwin Rodriguez has been named interim manager; he's probably just keeping that seat warm for Bobby Valentine.

What's next for Fredi? Well, there'll be a tidy opening in the Braves dugout after this season and Gonzalez spent a number of years as a coach in Atlanta under Bobby Cox.

No public statement yet from Hanley Ramirez, who must be relieved now that he is free to lollygag to his heart's content.

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Multi-billionaire comedian Jerry Seinfeld must be bored now that his awful NBC show about awful people in awful marriages is on hiatus. The lifelong Mets devotee has decided it's time to ruin televised baseball, too. Tonight, the once-funny nudnik takes to the Mets broadcasting booth for a few innings to make some Angel Pagan jokes and, hopefully, shame Keith Hernandez on live television.

Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, must need to get her noodge husband out of the house because she was the one who contacted SNY, the Mets-owned TV network, to try and get Jerry a spot calling a game for a night. Sure, they said, how much worse can he be than that schlemiel Ron Darling, who will get the night off.

Jerry will pair up with old pal Keith Hernandez, who memorably guest-starred in an episode of "Seinfeld" where he played a man desperate to dye his grey moustache, or something. I bet Keith is going to come prepared with some cheesy shtick in an attempt to hold his own with Jerry, but in the end, we'll all be schvitzing uncomfortably at home. Stick to the analysis, Keith. We're not amused by you.

In other massive Jerry Seinfeld news, the comedian questioned the chutzpah of pop sensation and WoW favorite Lady Gaga. She and her pals crashed Seinfeld's empty CitiField luxury box after flipping the bird to photogs at a Mets game earlier this month. Seinfeld, sounding like an total nebbish on WFAN yesterday, was none too amused:

"This woman is a jerk. I hate her. I can't believe they put her in my box, which I paid for ... You give people the finger and you get upgraded? Is that the world we're living in now? It's pathetic. And why is she giving the finger? How old is the finger? How'd it even get to be the finger? Somewhere along the line somebody decided this is the bad finger."

"You take one 'A' off of that and you've got gag."

"I don't know what these young people think or how they promote their careers. I'm older, you know, I'm 56. I look at Lady Gaga the way Keith Hernandez watches these kids when they pull the pocket out, they wear the inside-out pocket. ... Do you think he could understand that? He can't understand that. That's a new game, that's kids."

And what's the deal with ballpark food?

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Hey kids, i wasn't able to log in for a while, so your TQ is extremely late. (Those aren't song lyrics, but they should be.)

Image via Library of Congress

The Pumpkin Report

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The passing of the Summer Solstice means we're now through the artisanal bread and into the pretentious cured meat & stinky cheese section of the baseball season. Who's still around to give hope to moribund franchises? Which flame outs sucked the life from the hungry fan bases looking for something to cling to? The clock on the season is about to strike midnight: who are the pumpkins and who are the princesses?

  • PRINCESS: Ubaldo Jimenez. Granted he isn't a princess of the Bob Gibson order1, but Yoo-baldo is a long-time stud finally come into his own. The walks are gone, the fastball dips and dives at a breakneck pace. He'll give up some home runs and he can't strand everyone forever, but he's a real threat to steal Timmy's trophy.

  • PUMPKIN: Dusty's Red Legs. And a damn shame it will be. The Reds have some excellent pieces, both for the present and the future. Unfortunately, giving significant plate appearances to both Miguel Cairo and Jonny Gomes while hoping Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo keep all their joints in order is not a recipe for sustained success. Carrying the offense can only further wear down the back of heroic leader Scott Roleln. Poor fella's back looks more and more like the spine of the most dog-eared copy of The Jungle in circulation.

  • PRINCESS: Alex Rios. So wait: you're telling me a two-time all star who catches everything with a track record of power and speed might be worth a damn? This princess is sure to outlast both his wacky manager and wily GM, so long as they keep him from swimming in the Chicago river.

  • PUMPKIN: The Mariners turnaround. It isn't that the Mariners are dreadful, it's that the Mariners were supposed to be good. The new black of well-run franchises, the Mariners seemed to mis-manage any chance they had of competing in the A.L. West. The offense so poor yet the great juggling pimp of the offseason sits on his hands. Cursory moves come too late to overcome mismanaged bullpens, ineffective starters and meddling pitching coaches. Now the only drama in the Mariners summer is: can Jack Z reverse-fleece some contending sheep with Cliff Lee?

  • PRINCESS: Listicles.

  • PUMPKIN: Hackneyed Food Metaphors.

  • PRINCESS: The San Diego Padres Pitch and Catch Attack While the Mariners pitching and defense approach isn't quite enough to overcome a pathetic offense; the Padres offer exceptional pitching and world-beating defense remedies the "Adrian Gonzalez and 11 guys named Who?" effect.

  • PUMPKIN: The Toronto Blue Jays worsening offense. Wacking dingers is all fine and good, but a wise man once said solo home runs will not break your back and the 2010 Blue Jays are determined to prove it true, seemingly by design. The Jays will keep Larzen busy until September, but their seat at the kids table is assured for at least one more year.

1 - Bob Gibson just beaned Pumpkin Baby because I called him a princess. Tough but fair Bob, tough but fair.

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We all go through awkward stages in our early teens but Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira experienced a very special kind of awkward when his childhood hero died. Teixeira loved Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain so very much that after Cobain jammed a shotgun barrel in his mouth, the young high school student decided to drop the "Mark" and change his name to "Kurt".

This all came to light in an interview with MLB Network's Harold Reynolds that aired last night. During a sitdown at the Secaucus studios, Reynolds lobbed softballs at Teixeira interspersed with video snippets of interviews with Mark's parents. Here's a transcript of the juicy part:

HR: What is this stuff about Kurt Teixeira?

MT: You know what? When I was a kid I was a big Nirvana fan. And, uh, Kurt Cobain unfortunately passed away when I think I was in eighth grade. And when you're twelve or thirteen years old and your favorite band isn't gonna make any more music, you take it pretty tough. So, uh, I went by an alias for a little while.

HR: Yeah your mom said...

Mark's mom (on video): Mark tried to change his name to Kurt when he was, uh, because he loved Kurt Cobain when he filled our forms he would put, he would sign "Kurt Teixeira", so we had Kurt Teixeira things coming to the house for a while. I'd go, "what is this?" and it was because he had this thing for Kurt Cobain.

HR: You had the mail coming to your house?

MT: I would fill out...anytime I'd fill anything out whether it was for comic books or CD clubs or anything I would write Kurt Teixeira just because I didn't know what I was doing. I was twelve years old and I was having fun with it.

No way, Mark, that's not a kid having fun. When I was twelve years old I used to sign up for mailing lists using the alias Arnold Ziffel because I ironically loved "Green Acres", now that was a kid having fun. What Mark went through was a bit closer to an emotionally-confused kid who just experienced his first taste of hero worship-gone-wrong and thinks his parents just don't understand, maaannn.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, they arrested that Swedish punk up the block who's always starting fires.

  • ARE any of your preferred MLB teams playing in this evening's three games?

  • ARE you following the College World Series? Even though I've been lax about writing about it (and um, everything lately) OH MY GOD THE NOLES ARE PLAYING HATED HATED HATED HATED DESPISED SCUMBAG RIVALS UF RIGHT THIS SECOND. LOSER GOES HOME. AHHHHHHH. GO NOLEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

  • EVEN if the "fatty melt" is years old by now, don't you think that Friendly's putting it on the menu is noteworthy just because of David Pinto's impending weight gain? DIP IT IN THE FRIBBLE, DAVEY.

That's it for today. I'm gonna go watch this FSU game and tear my hair out then cry when we inevitably lose and every idiot Gator fan I know that hasn't watched a game all year decides to ride my ass about it. Blech. Anyway, we'll see you manana, amigos. Lo mismo canal de WoW.

(Boylan's Cola to the fine folks at Classic Televeision Showbiz for the video.)

No One Invited Spike Owen To The Red Sox Reunion

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The Red Sox of Boston wrapped up a tidy 8-1 homestand with a sweep of the Dodgers last night. Each game had some exceptional moments. Saturday featured a walkoff laser from worldbeater Dustin Pedroia. That midget has a 10 game hitting streak, 8 of which have been multi-hit jobs. Yesterday's 2-0 win featured another gem of an outing from Clay Buchholz, a player I once doubted but was clearly very wrong about. Hey, it happens.

But it was Friday night's series opener that drew the most pub. A couple of notable faces were in the park. Most importantly, Rhianna was there. She's not only 50 times more listenable than Lady Gaga, but she also makes her look like Strega Nona. Dear Matt Kemp: Thanks for going 2 for 13 this weekend AND bringing her along. Come back anytime.

Then sitting up in the Green Monster seats was none other than old Bruce Banner himself, Roger Clemens. Apparently Clemens signed over 100 autographs. Must be nice to sign something other than court orders and affidavits for a change. He seemed to enjoy himself and I for one was happy to see him back. I don't understand the average fan's need to wish continued misery on an athlete they've never been closer than 500 feet to, but still feel wronged by. Que sera, Rocket. Take in as many games as you can before that Mindy McReady tape comes out.

And someone else was there toooo... oh yeah. Manny Ramirez. Nick Cafardo had a couple interesting tidbits about that guy in his recounting of the weekend.

Ramirez told Red Sox Spanish Beisbol Network play-by-play announcer Uri Berenguer Saturday that he regretted his trans gressions in Boston. "There's no reason I should have behaved that way in Boston,'' Ramirez told Berenguer in a 45-minute private conversation in Spanish.

Berenguer said that Ramirez no longer speaks of retirement, and said that the length of his career will be determined by a higher power. Berenguer said Ramirez has found God, reads the Bible on a daily basis, and quoted scriptures constantly during their conversation.

I felt almost 100% certain that Manny wouldn't pull us for the God loop. SO DISAPPOINTED. And feeling shame for his behavior? I don't even know who this guy is anymore. I always enjoyed Manny's irreverence for the way the game "was supposed to be played" because his success, and the team's success when he was playing well, was undeniable. His slacker style not only won games but immediately branded his detractors with a "back in my day" scarlet letter that let us know we didn't have to care about their opinions. And now he's going soft on us. Dude's a few short steps away from saying "hustle" on Baseball Tonight. Someone give this guy an elderly traveling secretary to assault. STAT.

Introducing: @kittyonthefield

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You may remember last week when I discussed the lack of cats on MLB fields this season. And you may also remember my voodoo attempt to get a cat on the field, STAT.

As the Walkoff Walk Vice President of Running Things Into the Ground as Quickly as Possible, there was only one possible next step: @kittyonthefield, the Twitter account that will update whenever a cat runs on the field.

No, it's not automated or anything, but I am confident that when a cat finally runs onto a field this year, I will be notified within seconds. (You guys should probably get my number.) Actually, what will probably happen is I will miss it, and the Twitter account will be a failure, but that's the price you pay for coming up with this idea.

However, let's pretend this doesn't fail fantastically. When a cat finally does run onto the field -- probably in 2013, with my luck -- @kittyonthefield will update with an onslaught of info, photos, videos, whatever. It will also update with classic cats on baseball fields videos, classic baseball-related cat trivia and whatever else involving cats and baseball I put up there.

I am actually doing research for this, because I do not do cat-related1 things half-assed. (They're just so cute! Little paws!) So if you are as interested in the intersection of cats and baseball as much as I am, you are in for a treat. Now would one of the cats who read this blog run out onto a field sometime soon?!

1 Or dog-related.

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When the Walkoff Walk crew heads to Pittsburgh for our annual field trip, we might not notice between the fifth and sixth inning that the racing pierogies will be missing an important member. The Pirates simply will not stand for dissent among costumed men and women running around their field, especially when one of the stuffed goodies takes to the FaceSpaces to criticize the organization:

Andrew Kurtz, 24, of New Brighton, one of the 18 men who take turns posing as pierogies in a crowd-pleasing race after the fifth inning of every game at PNC Park, was dismissed by the team Thursday because he posted disparaging remarks about the Pirates on his Facebook page.

Here's what the outspoken dumpling had to say on his Facebook wall:

"Coonelly extended the contracts of Russell and Huntington through the 2011 season. That means a 19-straight losing streak. Way to go Pirates."

Really, that's it? A weak dose of sarcasm gets a racing hot pocket fired? Jeez, at least that Philadelphia Eagles stadium worker who criticized the team on Facebook for letting a popular player sign with another team got his money's worth when he got let go for calling the Eagles "retarted" (sic). No passive-aggressiveness for that fella, no sir! He gets right to the point!

The boiled ethnic pastry race will go on without Kurtz. After all, kid was just a part-time racer and never did two consecutive races in the same costume. These races are more rigged than an postseason NBA game. But the Pirates have an interesting recent history of dismissing those employees who dared criticize the franchise. Last fall, Pirates beat writer John Perrotto was canned by Ogden Newspapers, a company owned by the same family that has controlling interest in the team.

Perrotto's entire oeuvre of contributions to the Pirates Report website was scrubbed clean. At least Kurtz can continue to post inane blather on his Facebook wall to his heart's content.

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First, she conquered the world of pop music. Then she devoured television, the news media, the Muppets, and our collective souls. But the final frontier for Lady Gaga was a sphere we never expected she'd dominate: baseball.

Yet today, Lady Gaga is the single biggest baseball fan in the entire galaxy. It wasn't enough for Gaga to show up at CitiField and offend the drooling masses with her middle fingers of doom. No, Gaga needed to enrich the hearts and minds of Yankee fans by making her underwear-clad presence known in the luxury boxes at The Stadium. Makes sense, she is the number one pop star in the universe and the Yankees are the number one sports team. Let the Mets have also-rans like this 82-year-old fossil.

But some questioned whether Lady Gaga was well-received by the World Champions, even claiming that she'd been permanently banned from the clubhouse because of Gaga being Gaga. Nay! All falsehoods! She, and other celebrities of her ilk, are more than welcome in the clubhouse after the game as long as said game was a home team win. So basically, celebrities have a 72% chance of gaining entrance to the inner Yankee sanctum.

Both general manager Brian Cashman and skipper Joe Girardi gave headnods towards Lady Gaga and other famous folk. After all, if a player like Curtis Granderson doesn't get nervous playing alongside super-celeb Derek Jeter on a regular basis, I think he can handle the occasional pop sensation.

In this case, Gaga was spotted getting close and personal with the league's best player in Robinson Cano. Hmm, perhaps Gaga is the new Yankee muse; is she 2010's version of Kate Hudson, who so memorably romanced Alex Rodriguez towards a World Championship?

"She can sing, I'll tell you that," Cano said.

That ain't too bad a romance, amirite? But it probably won't last. I have it on good authority that Lady Gaga is going on a whirlwind ballpark tour with the intention of hitting up 29 stadiums before the season is through. Sorry, Mariners fans. Gaga doesn't "do" the Pacific Northwest.

Weekend Questions

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  • DO you know where my remote is? I have like three of them, and I can't find any.

Sorry for the light day today, folks, I had some real life stuff to do. I'll try to get a post or two up in the next two days to make up for it. Enjoy the weekend!

wow.manny.testosterone.jpg Big scoop in the New York Times yesterday: Manny Ramirez attempted to get an exemption to take a banned drug to boost his testosterone levels! Yes, a guy who tested positive for hCG (and steroids, in 2003, also according to the Times) also attempted to make it legal for him to boost his testosterone levels. Who knew?

There are actually some interesting issues here besides just stupid annoying blogger snark1. In other absolutely unsurprising news, this time old, a bunch of baseball players applied for exemptions to take Adderall for ADD when baseball finally banned amphetamines in 20062. Baseball took heat for this from Congress in 2008.

The idea that politicians (and sports columnists) are suddenly telling professional athletes how to treat their own medical issues is kind of annoying3 but also completely unsurprising. But, of course, people without ADD or with borderline cases that might not require medication are almost certainly taking advantage of the rules in order to take speed.

So a lot of players are skirting the rules, and a handful of players have tested positive and served 50-game suspensions. Are there fewer players taking steroids now than there were before testing? Obviously. But is the game "clean"? No way. Athletes are always going to look for edges, drugs are one of the best ways to improve the level of one's play and drug tests are not that hard to beat.

But, eh. Another player is going to test positive in the future, the sports columnists will act as shocked as ever and, somewhere, a player with a small problem with organization will take Adderall and hit a walkoff homer. A walkoff walk? Eh, that's much less likely. You get a little jittery on the stuff.

1 Ha! Remember that word? Me neither.
2 If baseball players were really smart, they'd use their ADHD exemptions to get a prescription for Desoxyn. Yes, that would be absolutely 100 percent legal methamphetamine. Somebody should tell Walt and Jesse on Breaking Bad. (Cocaine is also a Schedule II drug, but you can't get it prescribed for home use; it's mainly used as a topical analgesic in certain eye and nasal surgery.) Still, would Desoxyn improve your average base stealer to Rickey Henderson levels? Eh, probably not. Ha ha, Rob thought I was going to write about cats all day and instead I'm sharing my weird knowledge about drugs. Eh, how many other baseball writers even know you can get legal meth? Maybe [slanderous accusation removed].
3 Like that jerk who wrote the headline to this post! Ugh, I hate that guy.

wow.chipper.jpg Yesterday, Chipper Jones got ready to make a big announcement to the media at 6 p.m. Everybody figured he'd just retire but... SWERVE! Turns out he's going to figure it out after the season and wants the focus to be on Bobby Cox's last season.

Still, it seems like Chipper's gone at the end of the year. The players are making fun of him already (or something). As such, I asked Braves fan, regular Walkoff Walk commenter and King of Memes Matt-T to write up a few thoughts on Chipper's retirement. It follows below.

Tuesday's rumors started to swirl that Chipper was meeting with Braves officials to discuss his future and was leaning towards retiring at the end of the season. It's not a huge surprise, as he's said in the past he'll retire when he's no longer contributing. OLE CHIP met with reporters yesterday to address the rumors saying

"Let's face it, we all know sort of which way I'm leaning, but I think it's best that we put this all behind us. Somehow the cork got taken out. Well I'm putting it back in right now. I don't want to hear any more talk about retirement until the end of the season." He later added, "I'm on a first-place ballclub, playing third and hitting third, which is exactly where I like to be. So I'm going to spend the rest of the summer concentrating on that, and trying to send Bobby off in the best way possible."

Those quotes are the typical Chipper, putting the team and his manager first. Sure, it's easy to laugh about the Hooters waitress and the nagging injuries, but I hope that doesn't take away from his stellar career. He's at worst the third best switch hitter in MLB history (behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray). Chipper has a career .306 average with 430 homers, 1,468 RBI and a .406 OBP.

But, more than the numbers, Chipper came to represent Atlanta. During the 1990s the team was known for it's pitching, but ever since his full season in 1995 Chipper has been in the lineup no matter who was pitching. Chipper has done everything he could to help the team: Moving to left field for two seasons, even restructuring his deal several times so that the team could sign other help.


I think that Chipper is comfortable with retiring now because the team has finally started winning without him in the lineup. He's praised his backups in the past few days, and with the success of Heyward, it makes it easier for Jones to walk away. He's played all 17 years for Bobby, and in away it would be perfect, the two old farts, riding off into the distance together, one last playoff run.

Jones started his career as a rookie on a playoff team, and maybe he'll end it with a rookie teammate on a playoff team. It would be a nice ending to the career of my favorite player of all time. And then he can retire to his ranch and shoot as many deer as he wants.

(BUY BUCK COMMANDER!)

You may have heard that, before the Phillies' 6-3 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday, Chase Utley placed bats and several other items in a strange shape on the floor of the clubhouse. The Phillies won, and so naturally it was definitely whatever the hell he did with the bats. (One can also buy a shirt about this already, of course, thanks to Fightins x Birdland.)

I hope you know where I'm going here. Earlier this week, I wrote about the fact that a single cat has not run onto a major league baseball field yet this season. And so, now I'm turning to my own brand of Utley-style voodoo.

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One might think I would use bats, but... I don't have any. One might think I would use something cat-related, also, but... I don't have anything! I don't play tennis (or sweep), either. Those rackets are from my parents; I borrowed them for costume for a bowling contest. My team dressed as 70s tennis players and won "Most Pimp Uniforms." That trophy is also included in this diagram, as is an empty bottle of Mike Schmidt 548 wine, definitely the worst wine I've ever had. If this doesn't put a cat on the field, I don't know what will.

Well, maybe this! Before last night's 7-1 win over the Yankees, there was a Darth Maul (?) bobblehead with a bottle and shot of rum next to Utley's locker. I don't have any Star Wars bobbleheads, nor do I have Jobu, but I was able to rig something up.

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Okay. I predict this will work so well, several games will be canceled this weekend due to being overrun by cats. It will be the cutest forfeits ever!

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While I'm here, why not post this, too? Chipper Jones will address the media in 10 minutes (at 6 p.m.) and hmmm why would he be getting ready to do that?

My guess: He's going to announce he would like to be called Larry from now on.

Update: Maybe something else! Chipper says he's leaning toward retirement at the end of the season, but won't talk about it again until after the season. Way to be a tease, Chipper!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, do you believe in Hell? Babylon greed for wealth/ Do you deceive yourself and let your ego swell?

I'll be back tomorrow, friends, with a bunch of posts after the USA destroys Slovenia -- more like Suck-venia! -- in the World Cup tomorrow morning. I don't even know where Rob is today and tomorrow, actually. I should edit the header and put a kitty photo in it.

Awesome 1910 advertisement via the Library of Congress

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Check out this email MLB sent out today, urging you to vote for the close races in the All-Star Game! Yes, there is a tight race at shortstop between Jimmy Rollins (a career high 187 OPS+) Hanley Ramirez (a mere 124 OPS+). Oh, right, Rollins has also been on the DL twice already and has only played in 12 games.

Look, I'm all for fans voting hilarious people into the All-Star Games -- I vote for Mike Schmidt at third base every year in the NL -- but should MLB really be advertising that its fans have put last year's runner-up for the NL MVP in a tie with a guy who has not really played this season?

In other news, be sure to vote for your favorite between Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward Jayson Werth and andRe Ethier.

A Hank's Root Beer to Phony Gwynn for the tip.

Mexico City Blues, 2nd Chorus: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Dodgers at Reds, 12:35: John Ely gets the start for the Dodgers. Like the Dodgers, Ely has come back to earth a bit in the past two weeks giving up 8 runs in 10 IP during his last two starts. He may not need to be lights out today, as the Dodgers have outscored the Reds 18-2 in the first two games of the series. Any Ely start is also an excuse to link to Joe Cowley's prom pic. Bronson Arroyo for the Reds.

  • Nats at Tigers, 1:10: Detroit breaks out the roomba tying to nab it's 8th win in 11 games. Leyland's squad is a mere 2 games back of the Gardy's Boys. WHO'S! MORE! GRIZZLED! The Nats are 5-9 for June and 3 of those wins came against The Pirates. Remember those heady May days when you weren't terrible. It's Luis Atilano vs. Jeremy Bonderman.

  • Roxtober Roxaholics at Twins, 1:10: Another potential sweep in this one... but the Twins will have to do it in a very uncomfortable way, if you get my drift ;) They have to face Ubaldo Jimenez and his sub 1.00 ERA. Francisco Liriano gets the start for the Twins making this the Castrol Protects Against Viscosity And Thermal Breakdown Presents The Walkoff Walk Pitching Matchup Of The Afternoon™! Castrol: Try It In Your Greek Yogurt, Yuppies!

  • A's at Cubs, 2:20: Dallas Braden has given up 13 ER in his last 3 starts and the A's have lost each of his last 6 starts and 8 of his last nine. SO MUCH FOR THE PERFECT GAME. HE IS NOT A RABBIT'S FOOT. Randy Wells goes for the Cubs. Did you know he used to be in BTO? The Cubs have lost each of his 4 starts. Something has to give! You should just watch soccer.

wow.bam.margera.jpg Over the weekend, noted skateboarder/reality TV show star/CKY member/West Chester, Pa., native Bam Margera was attacked by a 59-year-old woman with a baseball bat. TMZ even got photos!

AN INTERLUDE BEFORE YOU WORRY, PEOPLE. Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News reports Margera will still be able to make Jackass 3-D. MTV says he's already hopped on a plane to meet his co-stars once he was released from the hospital. Now, of course, this makes us wonder: Could this baseball bat attack be just a part of J3D? Oh, look, the Philadelphia Inquirer actually suggested this: "Or was it a stunt for his reality show that features inane behavior?" I bet the paper is just angry Jackass 3-D takes away from its own 3-D edition of the newspaper over the weekend. END INTERLUDE.

Gross also got some choice quotes from the alleged attacker, Elizabeth Ray:

  • "I'm innocent, and he's a 'Jackass' just like his movie."
  • "He uses racial slurs, uses the N-word with black in front of it."
  • "I did not hit him, nobody hit him."

Margera's just lucky it was a wooden bat1. Down south in Felton, Del., a man was attacked with an aluminum baseball bat during an argument over ownership of a kitten.

Sigh. Whether it's an argument over kittens or you just hate Bam Margera, keep the bats down, people.

1 An interesting thing about bat attacks I've noticed is, if someone is attacked with a wodden bat, media reports might not mention it was a wooden bat. (Wooden bats being the natural state of a baseball bat.) But aluminum bats will always be mentioned as aluminum. I assume if someone gets beaten with a wiffle ball bat or a fungo bat or a Mongo bat it will also get mentioned. Hopefully Kris can confirm.

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So, seventh inning, it's 6-2 but the Phillies kinda stink, so this one's far from over. What graphic do they put up on the screen? Baseball players named Chad! Obviously, I kinda love this, if only because Chad Billingsley reminds me of Peter Billingsley which reminds me of A Christmas Story, which I then kinda wanted to watch even though it's June. (Okay, so Chad Qualls reminds me of DJ Qualls, so it's not all good.)

It is interesting the Yankees have started a run on players named Chad. By 2020, the Yankees' roster will consist entirely of players named Chad, as part of a Neo-Murderers' Row that will dominate Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays. (The Orioles will be contracted in 2015.) Zombie Henry Chadwick will be the team's manager.

Incidentally, the Phillies, helped by Chase Utley's voodoo magic, held on to win, 6-3. Chad Durbin played no part in the win, except maybe moral support.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, deustchemark,

  • COULD you do your ol' pal Kris a big favor and come up with your own tonight's questions tonight? I need a nap before I go see The Tugboat tonight. Here are the games. The "strong" and "big" tags should work in the comments, too.

  • READ anything good in the webs today? Use those links as well. We don't share enough.
Rob is out of the picture tomorrow and Friday so it'll be me and DMac and all our other friends carrying you to the blessed weekend. See you in the eh emm. Same WoW channel.

Vanity Fair: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • Orioles at Giants, 3:45: Usually when there's only one PM game I don't do these, but I feel like it's good to highlight every game that Tim Lincecum starts. The end of May showed us he could actually do wrong with three consecutive starts that lasted 5.0, 4.2 and 5.2IP. This was after he hadn't gone less than 6 in any previous start. Throughout last month his walk totals were uncharacteristically high, netting 20 in 4 starts. He's back on track sorta, after two solid starts, including 8 innings of 2 run ball against the A's last week. Look for him to finally sweep the funk out for good when he faces an Oriole's team that is second to last in baseball in runs scored.

  • And hey, it was his birthday yesterday! Take it away hilariously obsessed girl with PowerPoint!


My Pre Dinner Protest At Fenway Park

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What you see there is my protest sign from yesterday's "Strike Out SB1070" protest on Landsdowne Street behind Fenway's Green Monster. No one really got it except one Red Sox security guard who seemed floored that I knew anything about baseball. Which is unfair but just as unfair as me assuming he knows nothing about civil rights. Which I of course, do. So we're even.

I saw flyers for the protest around my neighborhood only yesterday and decided to head on down as much for observation as for actual demonstration. With the news cycle having pretty much let go of SB1070 as a national topic of debate I figured attendance at the rally would be sparse and mostly overwhelmed by a sea of inebriated, testy Sox fans. When I rode up the far end of Landsdowne St. I thought my suspicions were mostly confirmed as I didn't see a single protester... till I got to the end of the block. The protest was actually directly between the Cask & Flagon and Game On, the flatpanel covered, soulless Hatfield & McCoy of Boston bars. Prime real estate for milling about pregame and cramming cheese fries down your maw.

And I was wrong about turnout. The Globe estimated about 200 protesters and we drew an even higher number of ruddy faced anonymous white dudes yelling nonsensical retorts then giving us the finger and scurrying off. When someone tells me to "get a job" as they stumble drunk into a bar at 6PM, I don't think they really mean that.

As that Globe article points out, most players are now mum on the immigration law issue. I don't much blame them, their union has already come out against it. And Snakes' managing partner Ken Kendrick, the original raison d'etre of a Diamondbacks boycott has said he personally opposes the law. So if I'm still going by my original reasoning, protesting this team doesn't make all that much sense anymore.

Which is fine, because that's not we were doing. The rally was to speak out against an unjust law that encourages racial profiling. Profiling a segment of the population that is highly integrated into the fabric of baseball, no less. And with it getting as much attention as it does outside a game (101 comments on that Globe article, the fact that there even is a Globe article), the ballpark makes an appropriate venue for reaching the most people. I'm glad I went. I'm glad 199 or so other people did and I'm glad not everyone's bias or inflated sense of self worth (But they're MYYYY tax dollars, Mommy!) stands in the way of social justice. I even had a couple Sox fans nod their heads in approval.

Afterward, everyone headed down to the State House to support the Student Immigration Movement that is camped out on the lawn. I wanted to march down there with the rest of the gang but the Celtics were on soon. I'd put convictions in front of rooting interests enough for one day.

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This Ken Rosensquirrel report floating around the baseball rumorsphere about Pirates manager John Russell getting canned may or may not be true, but in the end, does it really matter? See, I may not appreciate Rosenthal as the hard-working baseball reporter he is because (a) he is actually shorter than me and (b) he spends his Saturdays acting as third banana to Herrs Buck and McCarver. But sometimes he's right!

So when Buster Olney claims that his sources deny that report, who are we to believe? Both reporters are citing sources most likely within the Pirates organization. Either somebody in there is wildly off the mark or somebody is just trying to cover up the news to protect the organization. Or to protect Russell's feelings. Hey, feelings count, too, even in the corporate world of modern baseball.

Because the real issue here is John Russell's future employment being in jeopardy. Unfortunately, we as national baseball fans never had a chance to get to know Russell; his team spent too much time being losers and laughingstocks for us to pay attention to their actual strengths as hitters and pitchers. And, in turn, we never had a chance to evaluate or appreciate Russell as a manager. Did he never channel his inner Piniella and kick dirt on an ump's shoes? Did he never lose his mind and go all Ozzie on some poor beat blogger? Did he never get photographed with his hands down his drawers like Charlie Manuel? What did he ever do except hit his pitchers eighth for a couple of weeks?

These are the things that could have made us remember you, John. Forget turning the Pirates around, you were never hired to do that. You were a patsy all along, in the great tradition of the Jim Rigglemans of the world. And if you get fired, I can't really shed a tear because I never had a chance to embrace you, or, most of the time, memorize the name of the guy managing the Pirates. But hey, at least you outlasted Trey Hillman in both job length and anonymity. Congrats?

Finally! After weeks of waiting, there is an ugly item Phillies fans can all purchase to commemorate Roy Halladay's perfect game! And it's... a bat? Okay, sure, whatever.

I realize the (patriotic!) company's name is BigTimeBats.com, but since they also sell Blackhawks jerseys and replica New York Yankee tickets, maybe they could figure out a way to sell a more appropriate product for a perfect game?

Oh! Maybe this is one of the bats the Phillies have been using for the past month. That'd make sense, then.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, mob mentality.



  • HOW will Kris fare as he puts his money where his mouth is and ventures out to join the crowd protesting the Diamondbacks? Wish him luck and set Google Alerts for news stories involving a man in a Garfield t-shirt if you haven't done so already.

  • WILL you be watching the Sabathia/Halladay matchup this evening? Doesn't get much better than that on paper.

  • OR would you rather watch the other top-flight starters taking the hill this evening like David Price, Josh Johnson, Brett Cecil and Johan Santana?

  • ARE you surprised that the OriLOLes first basemen are hitting worse than some team's entire pitching staff? Boy, that's emasculating.

  • WOULD you ever commit a crime barefoot? This guy almost did and will be near impossible to identify if he actually puts shoes on.

Same WoW channel tomorrow.

The above video, of a cat running onto a baseball field, is from an Ole Miss/South Carolina game at Carolina Stadium earlier this season. Why am I using this collegiate baseball clip of a cat running onto a field? Because, as far as I know, there has not been one incident of a cat running onto the field in the majors yet this season.

There has yet to be one incident of a cute kitty on the field. And yet, we've had three two perfect games, a dude who vomited onto a little girl in the stands, a guy hitting a grand slam on his first pitch in the majors, a rookie pitcher already anointed by the Internet as the next Bob Gibson, Aubrey Huff and a person named Tony Gwynn hitting inside the park home runs and a future Hall of Famer falling asleep in the clubhouse.

I know, maybe the cats are just worried that if they run on the field they'll get tased. Perhaps. But, last year, cats were a veritable baseball tradition. A quick search shows cats at Wrigley Field, Citi Field and Kauffman Stadium last season.

I know it's a small sample size, but where are all the cats this year? And why are so-called sports "analysts" not reporting on this kitten outage? If home runs or triples or double plays suddenly crashed to zero, there would be more noise than a stadium full of vuvuzelas. (Topical humor!)

So what gives? Where is Jayson Stark telling us this is the latest we've gone into the season without a cat running onto a field in [x] years? Where is Rob Neyer telling us how hard blogging about cats running onto the field is? Where is Voros McCracken, telling us that cats really don't have any control over where they go once they're on the field? Huh?

A cat better run onto the field soon, or this is going to end up a pretty disappointing baseball season.

fuji.jpgYou're never going to guess who the top candidate is for the job in Baltimore. If you said Juan Samuel... you're an idiot. Like every other coaching vacancy of the past 5 years, the front runner here is Bobby Valentine. Because you see, he has experience.

"I made no secret of the fact that given the young makeup of our roster, we will probably place a high premium on experience," MacPhail said. "And preferably experience where they've shown some success and hopefully had some postseason success."

In that respect, Valentine would fit the bill. He posted a 1,117-1,072 record in Texas and New York, guiding the Mets to the World Series in 2000.

I guess when you're as lousy as Baltimore has been over the past decade everything is relative, but that's really pushing the limits of the phrase "some success" isn't it? A handful of games over .500 and one losing trip to the World Series? Bob Brenly actually won the World Series with Diamondbacks the next year, you know. No one is beating down his door. And he looks like a soft core porn director! Valentine had to fake a mustache like that when he got thrown out of a game an.....zzzzzzzzzzz. ADVANTAGE BRENLY.

The other candidate mentioned in this illuminating piece is Buck Showalter. Excited yet, O's fans? He's another guy with a record a few shakes over .500 who, like Valentine, had the benefit of playing his 5-4 homestands in New York City. Let's not forget that Baltimore hired the truly atrocious Lee Mazzilli just because he was an assistant in New York. And also because he had Joe Torre's recipe for baked ziti tattooed on his chest.

Despite MacPhail saying that Samuel will finish the year (hey, he'll get some experience) Valentine is predictably campaigning for the job. He went on the Michael Kay Radio Show (I think I'd rather listen to Sean Hannity or have a nail gun fired into my ear) and spewed this lolarious quote.

"I did go down there and I did talk with the owner [Peter Angelos] and the general manager [Andy MacPhail] and they have a whole lot of problems and they seem like they're really putting their heads together to try to solve them somehow, some way."

BY ANY MEANS NECCESSARY. The Orioles don't need a manager, they need Malcom X. Because this is the only thing that MacPhail seems to have come up with so far (emphasis mine, bold type in places where I smacked myself in the forehead):

"There are definitely pros and cons for an early timetable as opposed to late," MacPhail said.

"I said [previously it] could be days, could be weeks, could be months, could be years. I try to give myself the full spectrum. There are so many variables. I don't know how the process is going to unfold."

MacPhail officially dismissed Trembley on June 4 and called early talks with potential managerial candidates "interesting."

"It's educational. You get different perspectives," MacPhail said. "It's not a fun thing to go through, but like anything, there's some silver linings."

I will never ever get those 4 paragraphs of my life back. I can't believe the man that said those things is employed by a major league ballclub. Maybe it's an Andy MacPhail imposter being played by Kevin Kline. Or maybe I'm an even bigger idiot because I keep reading stories on MLB.com. Hey Baltimore, not too late to convert to being a Nats fan. Plenty of good seats still available.


What's more disturbing about this earthquake footage from last night's Blue Jays-Padres tilt at Petco Park: the fact that the crowd is seemingly cheering seismic activity from within the earth's crust, or the fact that Dick Enberg is so nonplussed by this occurrence that he doesn't even utter his signature phrase of surprise? What, a 5.9 magnitude groundswell isn't enough excitement for Dick?

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, do not be be the tiresome kind.

Alright, then. Come back tomorrow? I know I will. Same WoW channel.



Interleague series breed strange behavior in non-traditional rivalries, even in those that existed before Milwaukee switched leagues last decade. In this video, a lonely Texas fan professes his undying love for Rangers reliever Darren O'Day in Miller Park over and over again, much to the dismay of the lovely Brewers fans seated around him. Hearing this dude sing his horrid tune might actually be worse than those vuvuzelas.

I'm pretty sure this lout enjoys Darren O'Day because he is actually his long-lost cousin Charlie Day.

Pirates centerfielder and WoW favorite Andrew McCutchen celebrated the one-year anniversary of his call-up to to the Bucs by sitting down (or standing up? I have no idea what position he was in) for an interview with Baseball Prospectus' David Laurila. Cutch chats about the awe he still feels from being in the big leagues, his art, his writing, and most poignantly, the difficulties in changing Pirates fans perspectives about the team:

DL: Last night, I asked a random Pirates fan what he'd want to know about you, and he suggested that I ask what it's like playing in Pittsburgh and not winning, and if you'd rather be somewhere else. How would you answer him?

AM: I think that it should be more than just not winning. I think the question should be, "How does it feel to play in Pittsburgh, and wanting to win?--not "not winning." I believe that we look at things backwards here. I think we should look at "How do we win," not "How do we keep losing?" I believe that we should be more positive. We are positive--our team is positive--and I believe that the only way we can turn this around, to where the fans can actually believe in us, is if we actually win, so it's more than talking. It's more than just talking about it; you have to be about it as well.

Please to enjoy the entire interview.

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Sure, some might think it is un-American to criticize oil-drillin', oil-spillin' giant B.P. (read: it's not), but seriously: they're British. We are supposed to criticize the Brits even when they're not flooding our waters with dead dino juice. Haha, you have a queen. So why then are the White Sox and Cubs continuing to allow B.P. to sponsor the "Crosstown Classic", a faux contest between terrible teams (combined record: 53-66) for a silly trophy?

"We are extremely loyal to our sponsors," said Wally Hayward, executive vice president, chief sales and marketing officer for the Cubs. "We've had a relationship with Old Style for 60 years, with Anheuser Busch for 30 years and we agreed to put the Toyota sign in our bleachers way before they had their problems. We believe in the BP brand and we're going to be loyal to them during this difficult time."

Read: we still owe so many, many millions of dollars to Soriano, Zambrano and Ramirez that we'd damn well let the Ku Klux Klan sponsor Ernie Banks Day at this point.


Lady Gaga puts up her middle finger while the New York Mets play San Diego Padres at Citi Field in New York City on June 10, 2010.  UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

All pop sensation Lady Gaga wanted to do was spend a peaceful afternoon in pastoral Flushing, Queens taking in a baseball game between expansion teams. Buy her some peanuts and rhinestone underwear, amirite? Shame that the photogs who expected to snap boring shots of Jose Reyes legging out an infield single or Jerry Hairston Jr flashing his toothy smile instead turned their SLRs towards the fame monster seated among the hoity-toity, because Gaga's attitude turned sour.

Chances that Gaga ever comes back to CitiField are slim to nil; she's a Yankees fan, after all, and her public display of aggression seals the deal. She joins Chipper Jones in hating the joint; she joins Mets fans in getting pissed off while there.

And for those of you who claim ignorance about the WORLDWIDE POP SENSATION THAT IS THE GAGA, shame on you. Your act is as fake as Lady Gaga's penis.

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Thanks to AnswerDave for running off to sunny climes to get married because it gave the five of us here to contribute our smartass remarks to his regular morning rundown series. Kris finished up the week with a real humdinger today. Go read it, make a comment, then come back here and bring me a souvenir.

If, for some reason, you want to go back and read all five of our daily recaps, then please, by all means, go for it. I can only hope that 'Duk fixed our numerous factual errors by now. Thanks to him for inviting us, and congratulations to the hockey team 'Duk has chosen to spend his life following.

Tonight's Questions

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Hope you've enjoyed Walkoff Walk's week filling in for Answer Dave with the Juice over at Big League Stew. Here's 310toJoba's contribution from this morning. Tomorrow, Liakos will wreak havoc on the gathered masses yearning to spew dreck, so put on your protective gear and let's crash the comments.

Same Stew channel, same WoW channel.

Youth And Beauty: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Giants at Reds, 12:35: Rare is the game when San Francisco isn't the team with the advantage in starting pitching. Cincy sends the other, and thus far more productive, '09 first round phenom, Mike Leake to the mound. Kid's got a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts which includes no ER in his last 13IP and just 2ER in his last 26.1IP. He aint gonna mow down 14 dudes anytime soon (single game high is 6) but has been damned effective. The Giants counter with Todd Wellemeyer and have taken two out of the 3 games in the series.

  • Padres at Mets, 1:10 DOUBLE HEADER: First game sees Latos v. Santana, second gig has Garland v. Niese. You've got your eyes on those Mets right? 2 games out. I guess you can't collapse if you're not in it in the first place. But still, 4 in a row. Good on them.

  • Tigers at White Sox, 2:05: Kenny Williams is throwing in the towel on 2010 already, so the Tigers are probably all, "Why we even gotta play this then? I wanna go see the Banksy movie or somethin'." But alas, the string must be played out despite the dramatic squeals from Chicago's South Side. Them's the rules. Max Scherzer and his righteous 6.66 ERA take the mound for Detroit. John Danks for the Sox.

  • Cubs at Brewers, 2:10: Rubber at Miller Park, and the fight to stave off irrelevancy. Dempster v. Bush.

  • Astros at Rockies, 3:10: Colorado has been in position to take all three games in this series and keep pace with those white hot Dodgers (I don't care about the Russian psychic, GO BLUE!) but has seen their bullpen blow two straight. Now they're 5.5 out. Bullpens are annoying. Oswalt v. Chacin.

  • Angels at Oakland, 3:35: LA took the first two, then got pummeled 10-1 last night. That dropped them back to second in the division. Ervin Santana has gotten the W in five straight starts surrendering but 7 runs. He's got a career 1.50 ERA in 114IP against Oakland. A's starter Tim Cahill is running for governor of Massachusetts as an independent. Whoops. Trevor Cahill.

  • Braves at Snakes, 3:40: Atlanta can't take care of business like a real first place team. 4 games against those weak old D'Backs and they've dropped 2 of the first three. Tommy Hanson goes against Dontrelle Willis. National League Starting Pitching: The middle step between the AL and Celebrity Apprentice!
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In one of the more shocking revelations about the dysfunctional McCourt-era Los Angeles Dodgers, L.A. Times columnist Bill Shaikin reveals that Frank and Jaime McCourt paid a Russian spiritual healer six figures to send positive energy to the team over long distances. Process that for a second: a professional baseball team had a psychic on the payroll:

Vladimir Shpunt, 71, lived most of his life in Russia. He has three degrees in physics and a letter of reference from a Nobel Prize winner. He knows next to nothing about baseball. Yet the Dodgers hired him to, well, think blue. Frank and Jamie McCourt paid him to help the team win by sending positive energy over great distances. Shpunt says he is a scientist and a healer, not a magician. His method could not guarantee the Dodgers would win, he says, but it could make a difference.

The McCourts, currently embroiled in a nasty divorce that makes me hate both of them equally, kept the hire secret from even the team's top executive and probably even Lasorda. In statements through their respective spokespersons, they both claim that the other one hired Shpunt, who lives in Boston. Because yes, that makes perfect sense to pay six figures to a dude who lives 4,000 miles away to watch a sport he doesn't understand on television.

Heck, I absolutely despise the Dodgers, but I'll take half that to change my rooting interests, sit on my rump and send 'positive energy' as I watch the team on teevee.

The McCourts first encountered Shpunt in 2005, as Jamie was suffering an infection in her right eye and was referred to Shpunt by a mutual friend. She claims that he 'healed' her eye with his magic hands. I claim that her real doctor gave her antibiotics and it cleared up the pink eye, but what the hell do I know? Luckily, the McCourts decided to hire Shpunt as a long-distance healer and not as a member of the training staff.

Wasting franchise money on such hokum is certainly bad, but the McCourt's devotion to such mumbo-jumbo could have produced far worse results. At one point, Shpunt attempted to provide actual hands-on healing to one of the Dodgers' injured players and nearly threatened the career of one of their young hitters:

In 2005, Jamie referred outfielder Jayson Werth to him for treatment of a wrist injury, after Werth had told her of his interest in alternative medicine, according to Cohen and representatives for Frank and Jamie.

Werth had one in-person healing session and one distance healing session, apparently not successful. In 2008, as he emerged as a star with the Philadelphia Phillies, Werth said Dodgers doctors had misdiagnosed the injury and that he did not get proper treatment until he went to the Mayo Clinic on his own. He made no mention of Shpunt.

Atrocious. One can only shake their head and tut-tut the McCourts for throwing their dirty money away on such ridiculous faux-science, but to hear that they put a still-developing player in danger with SOMETHING THAT MAKES EVEN HOLISTIC HEALING SOUND GOOD, one wants to smack the troubled couple upside the head with a two-by-four. Shame on you, Frank and Jaime.

(via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, the only blog that could soften my hatred of the Dodgers)

Tonight's Furthermore

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Hey kids, Pickett never forgave Lee. Years later he said "That old man had my division slaughtered."

  • ANYONE paying attention to that three card monte on top of the AL West? Seems like everybody's got a shot. You know, except the Mariners and their revamped lineup.

  • STILL pitch crazy after last night? You will be hard pressed to find a better matchup this year than Johnson/Halladay.

  • DID you dig Drew's Juice this morning?

  • CAN Clay Buchholz and Boston take their third straight against those Stinky Indians? And will Justin Masterson cry and wave goodbye to the Red Sox bus as it pulls away?

  • ARE Toronto fans getting sick of looking at the Rays?

  • CAN you name two (of 3) teams that have won 8 of their last 10? Here's a hint. Two of them have Los Angeles in their name.

Stay cool. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel. J is over at Yahoo in the AM.

Tonight's Questions

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That'll do, pigs. Thanks to the good folks at Ted Williams Head for the horrifyingly funny Marco Scutaro tribute song. Yeesh. Enjoy sports tonight, as you should do every night. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Were you watching the exciting Dartmouth-Florida Atlantic College World Series tilt last week? No?! Well, then you missed a pretty exciting scene: Kyle Peterson and Eric Byrnes argued for a good three minutes over what the balk rule is.

Check the video above: I was only half-paying attention -- an excellent way to watch baseball, especially college baseball -- when suddenly I heard two grown men arguing like six-year-olds. Both of their voices were so high with anger I couldn't tell them apart. They were so intense I thought they were arguing over Israel/Palestine (this was an officially-sanctioned sport at my college).

But, no, it turns out they were arguing over the balk rule. Peterson -- or maybe it's Byrnes? -- has a tough time with geometry and angles here, too, I think, but whatever, math is hard.

Side note: According to the hilariously-titled LSU website Tiger Droppings, "Kyle Peterson is the tits! Dude knows his shit." So I'm going to trust him in this argument.

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Ozzie Guillen's son Ozney (Mama, there goes that name again!) was, by some accounts, a pretty well regarded lefty outfielder eligible for his first amateur draft this week. While "the family anticipated he could be drafted as high as the 10th round" he actually slipped all the way to the 22nd round where he was chosen by, surprise, the White Sox.

The Guillen family has done a spectacular job over the past year or two of acting unbecoming whenever they're in the spotlight. There was that whole Twitter fiasco from Oney which led to his resignation from the White Sox organization. So you're not really shocked that Ozzie and his kid are saying grating stuff about yesterday's draft slide are you?

A source said that Major League Baseball recommends that no player drafted after the 10th round receive a signing bonus of more than $125,000.

"I give my kid 50 grand just to go to school," the elder Guillen said. "I got 50 grand in my pocket to send my kid to go to Niketown or buy something. I don't need the money. But I respect scouts. I respect the scouts' opinion with all my heart.

"I think the 22nd round in high school doesn't mean anything," Ozzie Guillen said. "I think the White Sox did what I told them ... I don't need any favors or he doesn't need any favors. In the meanwhile, it's kind of hard. His expectations, not mine, were a little higher. He thought he was a little better player than what other people think."

Well, okay. Maybe only the part about the $50K was grating and the second part was kind of sad. But take heart, Oz. You can go to USF and get another chance to prove your mettle as a ballplayer as long as you don't gain 30 pounds of margarita muscle in Ybor City. It's not like there's some sort of conspiracy against you or anything.

OR IS THERE? Sun-Times beat writer Joe Cowley thinks Ozney's slide to the 22nd round is just part of the escalating "Cold War" between Ozzie Sr. and Ken Williams. But let's not forget that Joe Cowley looks like this so take everything with a grain of salt.

One of them has to go. It's time for White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to step in and decide which.

The struggle between general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen was cute at first. Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.

Guillen's youngest son, Ozney, was selected by the Sox in the 22nd round of the baseball amateur draft Tuesday.

Feel-good story? Try a slap in the face filled with conspiracy theory.

Don't think the Guillens have missed the fact that Williams' son, Kenneth Williams Jr., was selected in the sixth round of the 2008 draft in what ESPN's Baseball Draft Insider Keith Law described as "the worst pick of the day."

At least one of the Guillens -- tweeting brother Oney -- made it clear why he thought Ozney slid.

"And u told people to stay awya (sic) from him. U would," Oney Guillen tweeted Tuesday, obviously accusing members of the Sox organization of trying to sabotage Ozney's draft placement.

None of this smacks as much as friction and conspiracy as much as it does Cowley and other Sox writers digging up spicy quotes from Ozzie, which has to be the easiest task in American journalism, to jumpstart their coverage of a lousy team. And Oney is just bored or paranoid or drunk or all three. That guy is a real man of letters.

You wanna know how to do this? I begrudgingly point you to Jim Leyland whose son Patrick got taken in the 8th round this week by the Tigers.

Jim Leyland said he was "absolutely thrilled" and he "never pushed anybody" to select his son.

"He can stand on his own two feet," said Leyland, adding anyone who thinks his son was drafted as a favor would be "foolish."

The elder Leyland said he's not sure what his son will do. He said he told teams, including the Tigers, "if you like him, take him; if you don't, don't take him."

He also called this "a moment of truth" for his son.

"You're on your own, son," Leyland said. "Be a man now. Go out and see if you can play."

Next time Oney Guillen sits down to Tweet his monosyllabic sad sack drivel, I want Jim Leyland to burst into his room like the Kool-Aid man and smack his head.


...because the MLBAM lawyerin' folks will have cease-and-desisted this video off the YouTubes by lunchtime. Witness pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg strike with regularity, all the while wearing his red socks and white pants correctly.

He's a lucky guy, too: his next start is of the interleague varietal and comes against the Indians, the third easiest team to strike out and the second worst slugging team in the AL

(our hats are off to the Bros. Mottram)

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Walkoff Walk reader and beltway resident Matt DeTura finagled a ducat for last night's Stephen Strasburg debut. I asked him to reflect on his experience and he agreed. Yes, running a blog is easy and fun.

For the amount of hype, the crowd seemed strangely subdued. There was excitement, but early on, no electricity in the stands; more of a nervous energy than a celebratory atmosphere. Chalk it up to fair-weather DC - the Caps disappointed, the Wiz went all FINGA GUNZ, United is boring and the Skins fanbase has been abused so many times that their co-workers are starting to wonder if they should take it upon themselves to call the cops the next time they show up to the office with a black eye. Cynicism is in the water here. Cynicism and fluoride.

Still, if it was a dumb crowd, it was a sellout crowd clad mostly in Stras-37's - I think Mayor Fenty may have been exchanging them for votes - and they were THERE, at the park, for once. So that was nice, especially since the last time Nats Park sold out everybody was wearing red t-shirts too, only they all said "UTLEY" on the back. And that really sucked, because the beer lines take for-ev-er when you're stuck behind a five year old getting up on a stepstool to pay for his Miller Lites.

Of course, Strasburg was ungodly fucking filthy. He needs a new swear word to describe how good he looked. He looked ballstoasterfuckingly good.

The kid is a machine - works quick, no fistpumps, no demonstrations - but no fear, either, even when he had trouble finding the strike zone for the first two batters. (Hey, people, I know it's the first Nats game of the season for half of you but let's not boo the umps when the kid on the mound may just think it's directed at him in his MLB debut, kay?) When he settled down, he was firing 97-99 without blinking, touched 100 once, and broke ankles and spirits with offspeed shit that simply shouldn't be allowed. He got in trouble in the fourth and all he did the next three innings was settle in and strike out 8 of the next 9 batters. Simply put, it was the best pitching performance I've ever seen at any ballpark and this was his FIRST TIME OUT. I was giddy when I had to extend the K box on my scorecard to accommodate his tickmarks.

And the fans, bless their souls, got into it - the place was fired up from innings 5-6 and they were chanting his name in the 7th. While "STRAS-BURG" was plainly audible on syllables three and four, one and two were up for grabs between the folks yelling "STEPH-EN" and the ones blaspheming "JES-US." Of course, it was a night when - for the first time since a crazy July run in 2005 - the Nats looked like they're going to be contenders. Someday. Maybe. If that's not worth a few extra Hail Marys, I don't know what is.

Also in attendance last night, reader Jerkwheat, who left his Detroit Tigers cap at home:

What MDT said about the crowd early was true. A lot of "oh shit, is this gonna happen?" looks, but everyone was clearly ready to burst out. Once the StrasJesus got his first K, it was on. After about the 8th K, my whole section was high fiving strangers left and right. I've seen just about every big-time pitcher in person over the last 20 odd years. I've seen a no-hitter in the minors and one hitters in MLB. I've seen 10-15 strikeouts before. But, I've never really seen stuff as purely filthy as I saw from Strasburg. That curve. It's going to kill people. It's Mariano's cutter. It's Smoltz's slider. To have a 20 mph gap on pitches that move like they do between his heat and his breaking stuff? Delwyn Young has no fucking clue how he hit a homer tonight.

Not to sound all Mitch Albom-y and what not, but the real testament to the power of Strasburg for me was on the ride back out to Fairfax. Lots of little kids in #37 shirseys. An amount of youngsters interested in the Nats that I've never seen and I've been going to Nats games since 2005. He's what the franchise needs to get the kids excited. Everyone loves the strikeout pitcher. This is a big opportunity to create an actual homegrown fanbase.

Amazing debut.

Thanks, fellas.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are not a good team. Heck, I had irrationally lofty hopes for them this season when I opined they'd finish with 81 wins; having seen them play a few games this year, that has as much chance of happening as John Kruk fitting into a size XXL t-shirt. But although this year's Bucs are not especially talented as a whole, the top three hitters in their lineup last night against Stephen Strasburg are damn good.

Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Lastings Milledge (filling in for a concussed Ryan Doumit in the three-hole) are not the schlubs we've been led to believe populate the Pirates' batting order. McCutchen and Walker both have OPS averages above .850 while Milledge is among the hardest outfielders to strike out in the majors. Yet in the sixth inning last night, when nobody watching could have possibly imagined the young pitcher could possibly get better, Strasburg struck out those three hitters.

And then one inning later, he struck out three more, all swinging, including notorious fastball power hitter Garrett Jones and a guy who had already homered on Strasburg earlier in Delwyn Young. I nearly drove off the road when I heard this stunning inning on the radio.

So to downplay Strasburg's historically dominant performance from last night because it "was against a Triple-A team, harf harf harf" cheapens the historical significance of the night. Sure, Strasburg may never accumulate Hall of Fame credentials and sure, the Pirates might never pull themselves out of their endless run of misery. But that debut last night carries heavy importance...even against a team that might be the worst in the National League.

And if you're wondering, the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis currently sit just one game out of the Wild Card in the International League. I wonder how many of those fellas would have struck out against Strasburg.

Tonight's Questions

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  • WHERE will you be enjoying Stephen Strasburg's debut tonight? I'll be at my condo association meeting, watching the game on my iPhone.

  • WHICH Pirates hitter will sit dead red on a Stephen Strasburg fastball tonight and deposit it into the Red Porch? Money line says Andrew McCutchen but don't rule out Garrett Jones.

  • WHO will have the best pitching line tonight, Strasburg or the other young studs scheduled to pitch?

  • SERIOUSLY, could Armando Galarraga get another taste of perfection tonight? He gets to face another AL Central weak sister.

  • DOES it really matter at this point if Pete Rose's bat was corked? I say yes, it's always fun to pile on that cad.

Hope you've got enough ground beef in the fridge, Mary, because we're having Strasburgers for dinner tonight. I don't mean to be so contrarian but, as an official 2010 Pirates supporter, I'm probably rooting for the Bucs to upset the apple cart a bit tonight. I'm sure Washington will understand.

Game time is 7PM EDT and you can watch it on MLB Network, the MLB At-Bat app for iPhone, or MASN, if you live within the magical beltway. Not so fast, residents of Strasburg, VA.

See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

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Chances are that your favorite team had a first round draft pick yesterday (unless you support the Mariners, who traded their first round pick away for Cliff Lee and a basket of muffins). Chances are even better that someone who blogs about your favorite team has a strong opinion on said draft pick, whether favorable or unfavorable.

Heck, there's never a better time to get excited about a 19-year-old than draft day; once the dust settles, we'll all wring our hands about contracts and agents and potential and upside and Mark Prior.

To that end, let's take a gander at how some of the smarter writers (and others) around the baseball blogosphere are reacting to the chosen ones among their teams of preference:

Jamie Mottram on Bryce Harper, Nationals, #1: "Harper mostly played catcher this season for Southern Nevada, but he also saw time at third base and in the outfield. Once he signs his monster deal (hopefully in advance of August 15) it's to the low minors he'll go, where he'll work on playing right field. Watch out, Roger Bernadina."

Pat Lackey on Jameson Taillon, Pirates, #2: "Almost everyone seems to agree that Taillon has more talent than everyone in this draft not named Bryce Harper. I've seen other people say that the Pirates should draft Pomeranz or Sale because they're college pitchers and the Pirates need rotation help now. Any GM that uses that logic with the second overall pick should change his name to Dave Littlefield."

Rany Jazayerli on Christian Colon, Royals, #4: "Yeah, that wasn't expected. I really like Colon, but I just hope the Royals took him because they wanted him, not for financial reasons. Again: the Royals - or really any team drafting from this point on - should take the player they want. They don't sign? Bonus!"

Greg Prince on Matt Harvey, Mets, #7: "I wish him well. I wish to see him on the Mets before too long. Until then, Matt Harvey -- RHP, UNC -- is just a name to me, no more guaranteed of success than any of his first-pick Met predecessors. This young man could be Darryl Strawberry or Doc Gooden or Mike Pelfrey. Or he could be Steve Chilcott or Kirk Presley or Ryan Jaroncyk."

Lisa Gray on Delino DeShields, Jr., Astros, #8: "Oh - I forgot - his father played major league ball. Like that matters. People think that baseball players are like race horses or something. You think it matters? Remember our supplemental 1st rounder a couple years back - Eli Iorg? THAT worked out REAL good, dint it? (...) I hear that scouts think he gonna move to second base. Wonderful to have this basestealer who hits some singles playing second. AS THE FIRST ROUND PICK!!!"

Andrew Stoeten on Deck McGuire, Blue Jays, #11: "Projects to be an innings guy, says Gammons, but not a frontline guy. A safe pick. Not entirely surprising, but when you're a casual fan you never really want your team's first draft pick to have such a low upside. MLB.com has a shitty scouting report on McGuire-- I mean, maybe it's accurate, but an autoplaying video? Fuck you."

Al Yellon on Hayden Simpson, Cubs, #16: "You can disagree with the pick; disagree with Tim Wilken's reasons for picking him; argue about whether the Cubs are being cheap or not. But when you giggle and guffaw like 12-year-olds over someone defacing Simpson's Wikipedia page (which I assume has been fixed and I will not repost here), insulting him and his family, that's where I draw the line. Real human beings with real feelings are involved. Families of Cubs minor leaguers, and I presume possible draft picks, read this site."

Bud Selig on Kolbrin Vitek, Red Sox, #20: "I haven't had a good bowl of Kolbrin Vitek since that barnstorming tour through Yugoslavia in '75. Sixto Lezcano caught dysentery, ho ho."

el duque on Cito Culver, Yankees, #32: "Good grief, Yankee blogs are good-hearted data-grabbers, but they have an Argentina-sized blindspot when it comes to the draft. Nobody knows nuthin. A video of some kid's swing not a scouting report. Still... Rochester! Raised on the mother's milk of Genny Cream! This we know: Great baseball name. Cito Culver. It follows up last year's great name, Slade Heathcott. Maybe the Yankees are assembling a team of Dickens characters."

Take a dose of irrational exuberance, add in a sprinkling of pessimistic clamoring, mix in a dollop of Internet vandalism, puree, and you've got the post-draft baseball blogosphere. Hey that's the same recipe for Martha Stewart's lemon squares!

(photo via Sean Keane and Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Happy Strasmas/Stantukah

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After months of hearing him spoken of in hushed tones by Bob Ley today is the day that major league baseball fans finally get to see Stephen Strasburg take to a major league mound. Did you know that? Of course you did! There's over 1,000 stories with the kids name in it on Google News and this is unquestionably the biggest day in DC baseball since the Expos had their reassignment surgery and set up shop there in 2005. Aside from construction of a stadium (and who ultimately fails at that, anyway) the whole relocation has generated as much excitement and positive energy as a wet mop. And that's using Montreal baseball as a reference point.

So it's no wonder that some of the most enthusiastic Strassexuals of the day are the people at MLB itself. Under the headline "Strasburg's Debut Up There With The Biggest" John Schlegel nearly blows out the P,H, E, N, O and M keys on his computer before proactively dropping Strasburg into the history books.

No doubt, when the Nationals' 21-year-old pitching phenom steps to the mound in front of a packed house at Nationals Park to make one of the most heralded debuts in years, it will be a big deal, and then some. It's a debut that in terms of attention-wrenching anticipation ranks with those of Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989, Mark Prior in 2002 ... and Mauer, whose promise was recognized well beyond the Twin Cities, just as Strasburg's is outside the Beltway.

There was the ultimate debut, by Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947, and others that resonated through time like Joe Nuxhall's with the Reds at age 15 -- or 60 years before he'd retire from broadcasting Reds games -- and those of sure-fire greats like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. More recently, future stars like Dwight Gooden and Pudge Rodriguez came in young and with a lot of fanfare.

Indeed, many of today's superstars' arrivals were celebrated, but to different degrees.

Starting pitchers like Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum and David Price have entered the Major Leagues within a short time after being drafted, arriving with some serious hype of their own, albeit none quite rivaling Strasburg's on a national level.

And while it's easy to make fun of the unmeasured enthusiasm and concurrent rewriting of history books, the most expensive draft signing of all-time pretty much empirically dictates that this is the biggest debut ever. So I guess what I'm saying is, fine. Hyperbolize to your heart's content Washington and the rest of the baseball world, cause pretty soon the buzz'll wear off and you'll just have another Tim Lincecum on your hands. Zzzzz.

Also making his debut tonight is power hitting Marlins OF Mike Stanton. Expectations for him are "sky high". I'm still waiting to hear back from NASA on whether or not those expectations are greater or less than stratospheric. Oh wait. STRASospheric. High five!

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Hurray, it's draft time in the majors! It's that special time of year when teams get together in Secaucus, NJ and take shots in the dark predicting which 18-year-old pitcher won't have every single ligament in his arm blow up by age 24. Strikingly, this year's draft is happening but one day before the the big league debuts of two much-heralded young studs: Mike Stanton and Stephen Strasburg. Nooo, not that Mike Stanton.

But enough about tomorrow, let's learn a little bit about the guys of tomorrow-er who will get drafted today!

  • At 7PM tonight, you can tune into the MLB Network to watch the first round of the MLB First Year Player draft. And since we were all well-behaved kiddies over the past year, Herr Selig has graciously added the supplemental round to the broadcast. WHEE SUPPLEMENTS!

  • The other forty-nine rounds will not be televised. They would, however, get better ratings than a Marlins game.

  • More amateur players will be onsite in beautiful downtown Secaucus than last year, when only South Jersey kid Mike Trout showed up.

  • I actually know less about this year's crop of lithe high schoolers than I did last year, if that's possible. I couldn't pick a single one of these kids out of a lineup if I had a gun to my head...

  • ...with the sole exception of Bryce Harper, who has graced the cover of national sport-y publications and Mottram-penned websites alike, and will be taken first by the Washington Nationals with the first pick. Jim Bowden guarantees it.

  • Nearly every team-specific blog worth their salt has posted draft previews that either predict who their favorite team will choose or rightfully professed cluelessness.

  • Despite not having an actual trading floor, NASDAQ invited fat Tommy Lasorda and other MLB Draft representatives to "ring" the "opening bell" today. The index is down half a percentage point today. Correlation? I say so.

  • Bud Selig will trip over his tongue pronouncing the simplest of names. If we are lucky, he will also trip on the stairs in his $9,300 Italian loafers.

  • Wanna feel old? Delino DeShields Junior will be drafted tonight.

  • Although most of the action will be taking place in Secaucus, the good folks at the MLB Network will have live look-ins to at least 22 of the 30 teams' war rooms. That means there's a decent chance we'll see Theo Epstein get pantsed by Bill James.

  • FoWoW 'Duk will be conducting a livechat at Big League Stew with some know-it-alls: Kendall Rogers, who covers college baseball for Rivals and Steve Henson, who stalks high school baseball players for a living. Nice work if you can get it.

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I covered Phillies all weekend, and Friday night I was fortunate enough to get a copy of that day's giveaway, The Phillie Phanatic's Galapagos Islands Adventure. In this book, written by Tom Burgoyne (the Phanatic's "best friend") and illustrated by Len Epstein, the Phanatic travels to his home islands to meet an entire species of Phanatics. (They're endemic to the Galapagos, you see? Actually, this is pretty clever.)

The Galapagos Phanatics have also built a gold statue of the Phillie Phanatic, which the Bible has taught us is a good strategy which cannot lead to any possible unforeseen side effects.

But my favorite part of the book is the panel above, the one I've exempted above. While the Phanatic loves the Phillies, he's clearly a lonely man... thing. He's clearly a lonely Phanatic. It must be fun to get paid to attend every Phillies game, but when you're the only one of your kind around every night, you wrestle with demons.

The Phillie Phanatic's Galapagos Islands Adventure is one of the most heartbreaking children's books ever published.

Via Ryan Parker's RyanParkerSongs.com comes this John Fogerty-inspired ditty about Drew's favorite third baseman, Scott Rolen. Including Dusty Baker? Pure genius.


It's good, but gets a little predictable during the bridge when they mention sassy line-dancer Bronson Arroyo. Also, it's nothing when compared to the as-of-yet-unwritten "Papa Was Scott Rolen's Stone". Now that's a tune I can dance to.

(we owe a pallet of Cherry Coke to OMG Reds)

Rob Wrote the Juice at Big League Stew

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Hey kids, don't forget that every morning this week we're doing the early AM shift at Big League Stew. Here's Rob's recap of yesterday's action. Dig it.

While Mike Meech can't seem to get an actual mention by name in any media outlet, apparently some Phillies fan bloggers stay anonymous in the media by choice! Who are these people, and how do their egos allow it?

Yes, the Zoo With Roy dude was on ESPN First Take yesterday, and I watched it so I could capture his interview. All you need to know about this show is this: Michael Bivins from Bel Biv Devoe was by far my favorite analyst on yesterday's program.

My cable cut out near the end of the interview, because that is the kind of luck I have. But most of the interview is in the video above, and you can enjoy the incredible Hard Copy-esque face-in-the-shadows technique ESPN used to prevent retaliation against the ZWR dude for his snitchin'. Also, the interview's kind of funny.

Regional Weekend: Don't Die Twice

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omaha.jpgIt's Regional Weekend in the 2010 NCAA Postseason Baseball Tourney, there was already a bunch of action yesterday. Some of the more intriguing stuff:

  • Perennial powerhouse Rice got straight up blanked by Zach Osbourne of Lousiana-Lafayette. (Insert tired Ozzy related nickname here) threw a CG 5 hitter dodging in and out of jams. ULL needed the gem as they squeaked by 1-1. Rice gets Rider today in an elimination game.

  • The Citadel whomped up on Virginia Tech behind a couple well-timed tots and will take on South Carolina in one of college sports most storied intrastate rivalries. Not really. But it still illustrates the big guy/little guy upset possibilities that are way more frequent in college baseball (and hockey) than basketball or football.

  • Despite trailing 2-1 all the way through the fifth inning (postseason Nole baseball!) The Seminoles Of Florida State tossed Central Connecticut 11-3, leading to today's showdown with Oregon. The Ducks dumped UConn 5-3 in weirdo fashion. They scored 3 runs in the ninth by leading off the inning with four straight bunts. If you watch enough college innings over the next couple weeks you will see some wild baseball stuff. Guaranteed.

  • And just a half hour after Florida State takes on Oregon, Florida plays Oregon State. I believe in symmetry. The Gators topped Bethune Cookman 7-3 at home before downing some El Indio. The Beavers beat Florida Atlantic 6-4.

  • Garrett Wittels extended his hitting streak to 55 games. Good news! But, his Florida International squad got peeslammed 17-3 by Texas A&M. The Aggies get the Miami Hurricanes today at 4. UM beat Dartmouth 12-8. That's a funny matchup. I love college baseball.
So yeah, plenty of good games today. Who knows, maybe there's a bar in your town that'll be playing the games or you even live by one of the stadiums. For all of you WoWies near Norwich, CT do me a favor and go out to support the Noles. I'll mail you a baseball card.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, It has always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.

  • CAN the Braves win their 10th game in a row? And one month ago did you think that this series with the Dodgers would be the marquee one of the weekend?

  • DID you know there's porn on the MLB.com message boards? MLB probably doesn't want you to since news of them cracking down is leaking at 4PM on a Friday. Sounds like a job for Matsui. Or Tim Kurkjian and his 14 inch love chisel.

  • WILL the Reds or the Cardinals leave the weekend ahead in the airtight NL Central?

  • CAN the Red Sox avenge early season struggles against the lowly Orioles? Now with 50% more Juan Samuel! Boston needs to keep pace with the equally hot Rays and Yankees.

  • CAN the Twins handle the A's and preserve their 2.5 game cushion over Detroit?

  • SEEING any good megashows or going to any festivals this summer? The season is upon us.

Couple programming notes to send you off with. Answer Man Dave Brown from Big League Stew is on his honeymoon all next week. Your friends from WoW will be taking turns covering for him in his Morning Juice column. Yes, the five WoWies each get a run at it, and if you remember our past gigs over there, it'll be worth it for the comments alone. Join Rob as he kicks it off Monday morning.

And I'll be back here tomorrow morning with those College World Series previews I promised you, so you'll have some light brunch reading. Be well and have a blissed out weekend. Same WoW channel.

Larry Granillo has spent the 2010 season undergoing the arduous task of measuring the time it takes for a home run hitter to circulate the basepaths. Some folks like rookie phenom Jason Heyward put their head down and hustle their buns around the basepaths in 19 seconds. Other folks like veteran marshmallow man David Ortiz take their pretty-ass time and end up clocking in over 30 seconds. Me? I'd trip over second base and break both ankles and then cross home plate in a wheelchair 20 minutes later.

But it took a low-A minor leaguer in the Rangers organization named Engel Beltre to do the unpossible and go over the vaunted one-minute mark in his dance around the bases, and all it took was an ill-timed basebrawl to make it happen:


Head over to Larry's House of Wezen-Ball and Tater Trot Trackers to get the full story. It's a doozy, as they say in Bakersfield.

(video courtesy of Sports With Pep)

A TV commercial for a radio show? Why not. How else are we to bask in the glory of Bob McCown and his haircut that's more Canadian than a goddamned maple leaf? Rickey can't act but I bet you already knew that. Laugh along then tune into the Bob McCown show which I'm betting is still on the air somewhere because talk radio guys have longer half lives than plutonium. Please to enjoy.


Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I was cutting off all my hair.

  • DOES Lou Pinella follow current events? I doubt it, considering he apparently planned a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico for his off day today. I hear there may or may not be a giant oil spill in that area.

  • WHAT should I be watching tonight instead of baseball? There's like three games on the teevee. Chris Capuano's big league return? Yeah, okay.

  • ARE you surprised that Bud Selig isn't overturning Jim Joyce's call to give Galarraga the perfect game?

  • HOW amazing is this story about reporter Alanna Rizzo getting hit by an overthrown ball during Rockies' batting practice?

  • WHY doesn't that article do a better job answering the many questions I now have about the situation? Who threw the ball? Why didn't anybody yell a warning? Did she fall down the dugout steps further adding to the hilarity? Would a male reporter have made the play? I DEMAND KNOWLEDGE!

That's all for today. Same WoW channel on the morrow.

There are several. Chit-chat about them at your discretion.

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Leave it to poor Ken Griffey, Jr. to have the most poignant night of his career slide down below the fold of the sports page because some jerk made a bad call. Yes, even in failure, Jim Joyce's perfect mistake outshines the retirement of one of the most beloved players in baseball history. Griffey called it a career last night after 20+ years of smacking home runs with aplomb, making highlight-worthy catches in center, and million-dollar smiles, but also 20+ years of dealing with depressed Seattlites, miserable Cincinnatians, and far too much Lou Piniella.

Griffey may have been a natural talent but he was also a natural at getting broken. Endless trips to the DL in the second act of his career meant that certain milestones got delayed and that trip to the World Series was always out of reach. Along with Ted Williams (note: I had a dumb) and Ernie Banks, Griffey reigns among the top ten players to never reach the Fall Classic. Ken spent the 1990s being awesome; we fans spent the 2000s waiting for Ken to get that awesomeness back.

Griffey stood by as fellow second generation star Barry Bonds grabbed the spotlight with his power and disdain for the media. Bonds broke all the home run records. Bonds made the World Series. Bonds had an entire ESPN reporter assigned to follow his every move. Meanwhile, writers always claimed to love Griffey and his playful ways, but they loved spilling their sanctimony-stained ink about Bonds more. You get more readers with scandal, no matter how artificial and meaningless it is.

Even Mariners fans dumped on Griffey in his final days. A fading star brought to the team to sell more t-shirts and popcorn, he failed to hit a home run in the first two months of the season and was singled out as a scapegoat for a poorly-constructed, miserable team. Respect? Ken Griffey deserved it by the bushelful but got it in mere trickles at the end.

Still, Ken Griffey, Jr. finishes his career many steps ahead of Bonds and with every benefit of our doubts: he will be a first-ballot HOFer and will be lauded forever as one of the greatest outfielders in the modern era. And we at Walkoff Walk will always be true fans if only for that time Kris interviewed Ken's mom. So long, Ken, and thanks for all the memories.

One of my favorite players in baseball is Troy Tulowitzki. He's a frequent subject of mine as I'm deeply enamoured with his five tool-goodness and can't cry enough over spilled milk. (Even if I now know I'm better off without the milk anyway.) Tulowitzki might be one of my favorite players but he doesn't strike me as the kind of dude I'd like to want to spend much time with. I'm sure he's quite unpleasant in that "professional baseball player who makes millions and is good at everything" kind of way.

Credit where it is due — Troy wants to help the childrens. Helping children is hard for most people, so a lazy gimmick is often the best way to go. Tulo and friends solution: grow a mullet for charity! Please to enjoy a wide variety of Colorado Rockies offering their takes on the shortstop's ape drape.


Mullets and trucker hats never stop being funny, do they? Short on top and long in back? THAT JUST AIN'T RIGHT! Tulowitzki plans to grow the mullet as long as people continue to donate, so kick in a few bucks for The Children's Hospital of Denver & Colorado Special Olympics if you delight in the non-stop hilariousness of a once-popular hairstyle. Donate $25 to receive a special Mullet hat! That is a gift that never stops giving — the laffs!

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Are you effing kidding me? Armando Galarraga, a pitcher who wears the Spring Training-esque No. 58 for the Detroit Tigers, just threw the third perfect game of the season. This is a complete guess, but with confidence I can say that this is the highest number worn by a pitcher who has thrown a perfect game1.

Austin Jackson made an incredible catch in left center for the first out of the ninth. Jason Donald, sent over to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade, made the last out, a very nice play by Miguel Cabrera.

Wait, what?

Let's be clear: This was a perfect game. And if umpire Jim Joyce is not fired tomorrow, Major League Baseball is a fucking joke. (My mom called me to express this point right after it happened, only without the profanity.)

On the plus side, at least we'll have instant replay in all of baseball soon. Because that was a perfect game, and some stupid umpire blew a hell of an easy call.

1I actually looked up a couple numbers, and now I am super confident I am correct.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'm free after 11.

  • WILL the Blue Jays fall (again) to the Rays and be the odd AL East team out (again) if the Red Sox and Yankees win their respective tilts?

  • IS it obvious when I'm just trying to bait Drew?

  • DID YOU ENJOY DMAC'S GLOG TODAY? How could you not have? Check out this wonderful piece he wrote for the Philly Weekly. He's as good at writing about drinking as I am at drinking.

  • WHO grabs rubber in the exciting Reds/Cards series?

  • WILL the Giants and Rockies combine for more than 4 runs? They haven't done it in either game so far this series.

  • ARE you headed to the Dodgers game on Friday? Get there early, our pals at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy say the first 20,000 fans are getting the above Loney/Blake poster. Outtasite!

Tonight I am off to the first of back to back evenings with The National, because I am a white guy in my late 20s. To be fair, I've been doing it since my early 20s, and I never cease to be excited. But hey, baseball games have been extra good the past week or so, haven't they? So you'll have a fun night, too. Till tomorrow, you Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. Same WoW channel.

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Hello! And welcome to another edition of Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club. Once again, we'll be covering the Phillies (sorry). They take on the Braves today in Atlanta (hence the Gone with the Wind parody poster above -- c'mon, did I really need to explain that?).

A little bit of background on today's game: The Phillies have lost 50 of 51 (Doc's perfect game the only win) to drop out of first place in the National League East, scoring only seven runs during that stretch (all unearned). The Braves, meanwhile, are 19-0 in their last six.

Join me after the jump for livebloggy goodness.

Because whether or not catcher Mark Fleury of the Reds' single-A affiliate in Dayton can finish the whopping four-pound Fifth Third Burger, he is certainly going to have dire gastrointestinal distress. As a guest in the West Michigan Whitecaps' visitors clubhouse, Fleury attempted to consume the bloated burger just a half hour prior to game time. Good idea!

So, what exactly is in this foodstuff? Starting with a sesame seed bun the size of Joey Votto's head, the behemoth is constructed thusly:

The bun is then topped with five, yes five, one-third pound hamburger patties, a cup of chili, five slices of American cheese, a mound of salsa, a few spoons full of nacho cheese and some tortilla chips. The burger is then finished off with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Adding your own jalapenos, ketchup or mustard is optional.

Via OMG Reds, here's the video of Mark tackling the hefty nom:


Head over to OMG Reds to watch the stunning conclusion to Fleury's attempt to make the competitive eating circuit. (SPOILER: in the words of a Dragons player in the background of the third video, he "didn't finish that shit")

Beat writers everywhere scoff at this weakness in eating burgers.

For the second time in a week, Rays manager Joe Maddon has been ejected from a baseball game, this time for standing up against the Umpire Joe West campaign to speed up games. Joe Maddon likes his baseball like he likes his lovemaking: slow and with tons of unnecessary pitching changes!

During the controversial ninth inning, home plate ump Angel Hernandez did not grant a timeout to Rays slugger Carlos Pena batting with runners on the corners and his team down. He so desperately needed to adjust his cup but nay, Hernandez wanted the game to continue at a medium pace. Joe took umbrage, argued with Hernandez, and got tossed from the game. Maddon then headed up the baseline to argue with third base ump Joe West, compared notes on the latest vintage of Rhone wines, discussed the passing of Louise Bourgeois, kicked some dirt, and went to sulk in his office.

Courtesy of the good people at TampaBay.com, here's Overmanagin' Joe chatting up the beat boys during the postgame:


Maddon's solution to speeding up the game?

"Make commercials less long."

Eloquent! And probably impossible. See, Joe, these "commercials" are "sponsored" by "companies" that want to pay MLB to "advertise" their "erectile dysfunction pills" which then goes to pay your salary! Sorta directly, actually! One could say Joe Maddon's collection of fine Tuscan wines was built on boner juice dollars.

Instead, let's put an end to the constant ballet of relief pitchers dancing about the mound and the endless adjustment of sluggers' wristbands that eat up our precious minutes. Support Country Joe West in his mission to speed up games by abusing his umpiric powers! Reject Joe Maddon in his quixotic attempt to cut down the number of cell phone commercials during ballgames! Free markets now!

In the end, Maddon's feces-throwing act was not in vain as Kevin Gregg, the opposing pitcher, was also tossed out of the game for arguing balls 'n' strikes and the Rays came back to win. And then the TV folks went to commercial. WIN FOR CAPITALISM.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, drier times and timed dryers.

  • CAN the first place Braves widen their division lead against the Phils?

  • CAN the Reds bounce back from last night's big loss and get back on top of the division against the Cards? They're tied!

  • DID all of you people clamoring for Walkoff Balk coverage forget this old post?

  • WILL the Yankees be the next beneficiary of the mess that is the Orioles?

  • AFTER a week in the digital ether, you got an opinion on the two new Arcade Fire tracks?

  • CAN Nick Blackburn turn in his sixth consecutive start of at least 7IP and can the Twins help him get his concurrent sixth straight win? Against the Mariners, probably.

Well that was a content rich day, wasn't it? Maybe we'll keep it up for tomorrow and start a streak of our own. Same WoW channel. You too, Nico.

College Baseball Cram Session 2010

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The first time I wrote about college baseball here I went through great pains to explain my affinity for college baseball to you. Not this time. WOOHOOO GO NOLES.

The Noles' Atlantic Coast Conference is tied for most teams in the tourney (8) with the PAC-10 and the SEC. Yes, that's 8 of 10 PAC-10 schools in the final 64.. The state of Florida is tied with California and Texas for most teams (6). Unfortunately, leading that pack from Florida are the loathesome and irredeemable shitbird Gators. They're the third overall seed in the tournament, despite not winning their conference tournament. They get to host their regional and sleep in their comfy, stupid beds. The Seminoles, whose overall record was only 2 games worse than UF, and who WON their conference tourney have to travel up to Connecticut, CONNECTICUT!, to play their regional. The lesson as always: The Gators, their fans and all their cronies are scum.

Other storylines include Arizona State nabbing the first seed after an abrupt preseason coaching change/non-scandal and FIU's Garret Whittels taking his historic chase of the all-time record hitting streak to a National (sorta) stage.

Regionals start Friday and I'll be back around with previews then. Until then, don't forget that you're probably banned from your nearest campus, and Woohoo College World Series!

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While doing radio for yesterday's tilt between the Yankees and Indians, color commentator Suzyn Waldman prefaced her reciting of the out-of-town scoreboard by bemoaning the sad state of the schedule. See, yesterday was a special holiday in these United States: Memorial Day. It's a chance for all Americans to honor the war dead by eating ground and grilled meat products, drinking Belgian beer, and sitting in traffic while cursing at foreign drivers. For Ms. Waldman, however, Memorial Day needs to be a day for baseball.

Suzyn's problems with the day's schedule? Only ten of fourteen American League teams were in action and one of those games was taking place in Toronto, which isn't even in America! She and her partner John Sterling cited the halcyon days of the 1950s, as they are prone to do when reciting showtune lyrics, and remembered that every team used to play doubleheaders on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Whether or not their sense of recollection was accurate, John and Suzy have a point: these three days are national holidays and deserve to have a full afternoon schedule of baseball action. These are days that most baseball fans are free from the shackles of quotidian work and sit far enough outside the indoctrinated weekend to make the idea of a day at the ballpark seem like Christmas in May.

Here, taste these cherry-picked numbers:

  • Atlanta drew 42,543 yesterday against a season average of 28,891
  • Pittsburgh drew 20,235 against 17,264
  • Houston drew 34,704 against 26,403
  • Kansas City drew 24,651 against 19,898
  • San Fran drew 42,625 against 35,709
  • St Louis drew 40,782 against 39,516
  • Los Angeles drew 45,325 against 43,779

Sure, some places that hate America had a dip in attendance yesterday, and sure, our summer season that will increase attendance league-wide is just getting underway. Get ready for crowded loge levels, people! But the fact remains: folks like to come to the ballpark on holidays. Wouldn't the idle Chicago White Sox have benefited from a day game yesterday?

I remember making a habit of going to Yankee Stadium in the late 90s each Fourth of July to see the Bombers beat the Orioles. It was a rite of summertime! Granted, the opportunity to simply walk up to the Stadium and buy tickets on gameday has disappeared from the Bronx now, but there are at least 25 other parks where that chance still exists.

So do the right thing, Katy Feeney, and focus on holiday baseball in 2011. Singleheaders, doubleheaders, what have you; schedule the games and the people will show up.

oriole.jpegSweet Mary Mother of Ripken are the Orioles ever bad! A weekend sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays (who worsened themselves 53 home runs in May) brings the OrioLOLes record to a whopping 15 wins against 36 defeats, worst in baseball. 6-21 on the road, 6-17 within their own division. Here we are on June 1st and the Orioles have won fewer games (15) than games they're out of first place (18.5 back of baseball's best Rays.)

Even the 2009 Orioles—losers of 98 games at season's end—weren't this bad. Over the last few seasons the Orioles actually boasted a moderately frightening offense, offset by terrible pitching and defense. Things looked better heading into 2010, as the litany of hot young arms slated to take over the rotation would finally give the Orioles the run prevention they desperately need.

The road to fourth place riches is a bumpy one, and everything that could go wrong for the Orioles almost certainly has. The offense is anemic, with linchpin Nick Markakis unable to carry the load alone. Found money Ty Wigginton continues clouting dingers, but the absence of WoW favorite Brian Roberts coupled with poor play from former All Star Adam Jones and former non-corpse Miguel Tejada spells doom for the O's O. Ex-consensus savior Matt Wieters struggles to get on base and hit for power, though he's become quite adept at leaving sob-filled messages on Bryce Harper's voicemail.

Projected ace Brian Matusz forgot how to miss bats. Free agent workhorse Kevin Millwood can't buy a break with all of Angelos's money. Young starters like Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen came to camp with high expectations, only to toil in AAA for much of the early season, either fighting ineffectiveness or service time issues. The bullpen stands in taters; the free agent closer hits the DL after some awful outings. His exciting replacement joins him mere weeks after earning the role.

Yup, things are bad in Baltimore. Even worse than (obligatory Wire reference). Manager Dave Trembley spends his nights irrigating the disgusting blisters on his backside, unfortunate by-products of too many nights atop a red hot seat. It's a mess. If only there was one simple & succinct way to describe the state of the Orioles. One tangible example of everything they've done wrong and everything going wrong for this star-crossed franchise...

COREY PATTERSON GAME LOG

Date Tm Opp PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB BATTING ORDER POSITION
May 12 BAL SEA 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
May 13 BAL SEA 4 4 1 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
May 14 BAL CLE 5 4 2 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
May 15 BAL CLE 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
May 16 BAL CLE 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1
May 17 BAL KCR 5 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 1
May 18 BAL KCR 5 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 2 0 1
May 19 BAL @ TEX 5 5 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 1
May 20 BAL @ TEX 6 5 1 1 1 0 0 2 1 2 0 1
May 21 BAL @ WSN 5 5 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1
May 22 BAL @ WSN 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
May 23 BAL @ WSN 5 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1
May 25 BAL OAK 4 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
May 26 BAL OAK 4 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1
May 27 BAL OAK 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 1
May 28 BAL @ TOR 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
May 30 BAL @ TOR 4 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1
BAL 78 68 11 18 3 0 2 5 8 20 5 !
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2010.

Here's the best video I was able to find of the last out of Roy Halladay's perfect game. Sure, the dude's reaction is pretty funny, but I was also happy to see that Billy the Marlin applauded Halladay's feat right after it happened. What a nice guy.