July 2010 Archives

palm_smash_bat.jpgBat attack roundups are two things: frequently hilarious and Kris' personal baby. He rants and raves all around the WoW offices, demanding the mentally unstable take out their frustrations with baseball implements rather than the pedestrian ice picks and pool cues of yesteryear.

Once in while, a story comes across the Walkoff Wire that — even in the absence of the Bat Attack Godfather — must be told.

Decades of trucker hats, poorly-grown mustaches, and white people's disco has my irony detector in need of calibration. Still, the story of a teenage American soccer player attacked and beaten with a baseball bat in Denmark strikes me as slightly odd. From, for the first time in WoW history, the Copenhagen Post Online:

An American teenager playing in the Dana Cup football tournament in town of Hjørring suffered a broken nose last night when he was attacked with a baseball bat by unknown assailants.

Nordjykse Media reports that the young man was with a group of other football players in the town when the unprovoked attack occurred shortly after midnight.

Aside from the health of the unfortunate victim of this senseless attack, the most pressing question from this story: where the hell in Denmark did someone find a baseball bat?

Denmark doesn't have a domestic baseball league, though they do have a softball baseball forbund. There is no Danish contingent at the ongoing World Junior Baseball Championships, though baseball powerhouses France and the Czech Republic threw down in Thunder Bay.

I'm struggling to think of a comparable stateside analogy. Rinku and Dinesh felled by cricket bats? Dysentery? Grant Balfour hitting the DL after a fan throws a boomarang out of the crowd? Landon Donovan missing time after a vicious purse-swinging incident?

Get well soon, unnamed American teenager. May your Danish assailants face the full force of the law, American-style.

Man Getting Hit By Baseball!

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Might be a slow day around these parts. For now, enjoy this clip of a little kid hitting a man with a batted ball.

Tonight's Questions

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This is my favorite video maybe ever. Typical Wednesday night after church!

More tomorrow!

Baseball Lede of the Year

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So, how excited were Phillies fans for Domonic Brown's start last night? Let's ask Jerry Reimenschneider of PhillyBurbs.com!

PHILADELPHIA - It was only Dan Baker announcing Dom Brown to the South Philly masses.

It might as well have been God introducing Moses to the Israelites.

Hmm. Didn't the Israelites already know Moses when he came down from the mount?

A Cherry Coke Zero to The 700 Level, and a few other people, I think

fish_011.gif Sorry, I couldn't come up with a suitable synonym for Philadelphia that begins with an R. But you get your animated wholphin .gif! Jayson Stark tweets Oswalt will okay the deal. But wait! Ken Rosenthal tweets the deal is not done, yet it likely will be soon. How can we settle this? Okay, now a ton of people are saying it's done, so it's time for the wholphin .gif and random exclamations of joy/sadness/Cliff Lee's name on Twitter.

Randy Miller tweets "long-time baseball scribe Ed Price" says the three players going to Houston in the deal are pitchers J.A. Happ (lefty) and Vance Worley (righty) and outfielder Anthony Gose.

Oswalt is 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA (and a 120 ERA+) this season, a definite upgrade for the Phillies rotation. Now all Phillies fans need to do is get a fan club called The O-Faces and a third straight pennant is sure to happen!

Update: Deal's done, per MLB Network. Players going to the Astros are Happ, Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar.

wow.jimbunning.jpg Relatively new, highly annoying politics website Politico makes its writers wake up at, like, 3 a.m. in order to "win the morning" and get all the links from Matt Drudge or whatever. (No news organization cares about interesting or factual or useful stories anymore. It's all about pageviews.)

Anyway, here's one of their important political stories today: Jim Bunning thinks Stephen Strasburg is a wimp!

Why? Well, Strasburg missed his recent start and is, indeed, going to get a little break, and by God Jim Bunning never missed any starts, in fact sometimes he'd start all three games of a tripleheader and throw 750 pitches then come back in relief the next day. (That's why he gave up over 500 homers in his career.)

"Five-hundred twenty starts, I never refused the ball," Bunning, a Kentucky senator who hurled a perfect game in 1964 and struck out 2,855 batters in his Major League career, told POLITICO. "What a joke!"

Bunning had taken an interest in Strasburg, who like the Kentucky senator is a fire-ball hurling right-hander. The senator has seen the Nationals ace four times and was at the ballpark Tuesday night, he said.

But he clearly didn't like what he saw - or rather didn't see - when the youngster didn't take the mound. "My arm!" Bunning sarcastically cried as he pretended to clutch his shoulder in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

One missed start out of five games he's attended and suddenly he goes from the "top one percentile" to the 50th percentile. For missing a start! Geeze, it's not like Strasburg used the senators' only elevator. Now somebody find me an example of Bunning being scratched from a start, and be happy he isn't your favorite team's pitching coach.

wolphin.photo.jpg As reported by pretty much everyone, but let's just link Jayson Stark's tweet, a deal is in place between the Phillies and Astros which would send Roy Oswalt (and maybe cash to the notoriously stingy Phils) to Philadelphia for prospects (maybe J.A. Happ, Vance Worley and a few other guys). All that Oswalt has to do is agree to it and he's a member of the Phillies.

(If you're wondering, because the deal isn't finalized, this gets a still photograph of a wholphin instead of the animated .gif. I'll update the post or do a new one if it goes through and you will get some animated goodness, okay?)

As Ken Rosenthal points out: Why, exactly, did the Phillies trade Cliff Lee? A good point, I guess, or at least a better one when it's not coming from some boorish caller on a sports talk radio show or from the annoying dude next to you at the bar. This is all anyone in Philadelphia has been able to talk about for the last few months, especially whenever a Phillies pitcher gives up more than two runs.

I'm hearing Ed Wade consummated this deal while stuck in a tree.

chief.wahoo.disgusted.gif Big news from Cleveland! No, they didn't trade away another amazing pitcher; they only have average-to-good ones left.

What actually happened was: A fan (sadly, not our own Rob Iracane) wearing a Miami Heat Lebron James jersey was escorted from the stands after taunting Indians fans. A little confusing, but, eh, okay. When I was in Chicago plenty of Cubs fans were making Stanley Cup taunts, which I responded to with, "What the hell is the Stanley Cup?"

Anyway! FanHouse reports: "When police arrived to escort the fan out of the stands, the crowd cheered. Several Indians fans threw verbal barbs at the fan and his girlfriend, others threw a more liquid form of insult." The article doesn't contain any info regarding what the dude did to be ejected other than being obnoxious and wearing a Miami Heat jersey.

Obviously, this isn't much of a story, and the fan might've been vomiting on suburban police officers or whatever first. Or maybe the cops just moved him to another section. But maybe not. And aren't you allowed to root -- even annoyingly -- for the other team when at a baseball game? (Or, in this case, root for a basketball team who just signed a star player from a different basketball team at a baseball game.)

Plenty of people attend games as a fan of the opposing teams, act loud and obnoxious and then are shocked -- shocked! -- when they get punched or have a beer tossed at them. (At $7 each, the beer thing is kinda shocking.) Then they go home, say, "Ahh, [team] fans are the worst, look what happened to me," when in reality they brought it on themselves. That doesn't mean it's right to punch obnoxious opposing team's fans, but I understand why it happens.

Crowdsourcing is a pretty horrible trend, but not when you have a harem of talented commenters like we have here at Walkoff Walk. So I wonder: Have you ever seen fans ejected just for being a loud fan of the other team? (Not that it's what happened here, but it has to have happened, right.) And, actually, going to an Indians game and having to hear taunts about Lebron the whole game would be incredibly obnoxious. What's the worst fan you have ever sat next to? And, obviously, alcohol is involved. Isn't ending beer sales after the seventh inning just one of those stupid fake "fixes" for the problem that just make us feel better and the company maybe not quite so legally liable but doesn't actually do anything? Comment, or don't.

Tonight's Questions

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My favorite independent baseball team, the Camden Riversharks, are apparently in their 10th year! Somebody made this video to celebrate their 10 seasons, cleverly titled "sharks tribute video.wmv." Unfortunately, whoever made it set it to Billy Joel.

  • DID you really think the Yankees were particularly snakebit against pitchers making their big league debut? Rob Neyer doesn't think so. Key part: "I mean, seriously ... We're going to draw some grand conclusions based on 66 innings? On seven innings per season? You can. I won't." You tell 'em, Rob!
  • DID you know Jim Leyland was suspended? MLB says it was for an incident Monday where Leyland exhibited "inappropriate and aggressive conduct during the bottom of the third inning." From that description, it sounds like Leyland was drunk.
  • WHAT is your favorite sentence in this FanHouse -- official motto: "Don't confuse us with Bleacher Report, please!" -- article about not believing the hype about the baseball trade deadline? (Yes, that's actually an article. It's also about not believing the hype about Dez Bryant not carrying Roy Williams' pads at Dallas Cowboys training camp. Go look for yourself, I'm not making this up.) Anyway, my favorite part is this sentence: "Check any baseball encyclopedia and you'll see trades dated during any month of the year."
  • HAVE you read the "very important" Baseball Prospectus article on fielding today? Pfft. Who can afford a subscription? (I think Rob can. Rob, let me know if the article's any good when you get back!

I will be missing some or all of Dom Brown's major league debut tonight. Can you guess why in the comments? First person to guess correctly wins... I dunno, something baseball-related I find in my apartment. Yes, this is clearly the contest of the century!

Wholphin! Let the Domonic Brown Era begin! The Phillies just placed Shane Victorino on the disabled list and called up their top prospect from AAA Lehigh Valley.

Victorino strained his abdominal while making a catch last night and is the fifth Phillies position starter to head to the disabled list this year. (The others: Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz.) Dom Brown hit .327/.391/.589 for AA Reading and the IronPigs this year. If you prefer stupid stats, he had the game-winning RBI in the Futures Game this year.

It's expected Jayson Werth will move to center field and Brown will immediately be inserted in right. Brown will ear No. 9, according to something I read on Twitter. (It must be right!) If his at-bat music is not Das Racist's "Who's That? Broooooooown," someone is really dropping the ball.

With Chris Coghlan's insane pie-throwing injury in the news, it seems like everyone wants to talk to AJ Burnett about it. Check out what Wallace Matthews wrote about Burnett:

The Yankees right-hander, generally credited with reviving the practice of smashing a postgame pie -- or actually, in his case, a towel covered with whipped cream simulating a pie -- into the face of a teammate who gets a walk-off hit[.]

Yes, "generally credited"... incorrectly. Everyone should know that Tomas (Pie Man) Perez brought back the practice in the early 2000s while with the Phillies. Of course, he may have just been copying off someone else, but I only care about accuracy when it suits me.

The above video, via The Fightins (currently down), shows the history of Perez's pie tosses. The best part is a young-ish Brett Myers in a half-shirt as one of the players getting Perez back after Perez's own walkoff hit.

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Epic edgebro Brian Wilson is, once again, putting together an excellent season closing games in the cool, marine-soaked darkness of San Francisco. Sky-high strikeout rates matched only by his sky-high histrionics in honor of passed, ill, or out-of-town family members.

Wilson decided walking the path of true change wasn't enough to satisfy his individualistic urges; offbeat footwear is the only source of true rebellion left. Wilson took the mound on Tuesday night wearing the orange beauties seen at right; mowing down the teal bedecked Fish (around a Dan Uggla home run). While I have long been under the impression that art deco was all the range in South Beach, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez disagrees:

"We saw that yesterday," Rodriguez said. "We asked (the umps) about his shoes. A little bit too bright, too flashy. We asked if there was any rule about that he said the rule is more intended for the sleeves and there's no rule for the shoes.

There's rules for jewelry and all kinds of things. Shoes like that are a little bit too much. I think there should be a rule. They should be consistent. There's a rule for the uniform and there should be a rule for the shoes.

Turns out Mr. Rodriguez is quite the taskmaster. No pies! No flashy shoes! But wait, pies are okay, but no jumping! Sure, Wilson's shoes are ugly and inadvisable; but that does that mean they give him an unfair advantage? The Marlins have offended us all with the vast sea of orange seats for years, what makes shoes so different?

AP Image gentle borrowed from Daylife

moon.athletics.png Sometime in college, a Yankees fan friend of mine was rooting on the Mets in the playoffs. His reasoning: The Yankees were already eliminated, so he'd cheer for the other New York team. "If there were another baseball team in Philadelphia," he asked me, "wouldn't you cheer for them after the Phillies were eliminated?" I replied that, no, I would root for the other baseball team instead of the horrible Phillies. (Oh, how the franchise's outlook has changed since 2002!)

As you may have heard, San Jose's mayor wants a ballot question in November that would ask whether the team could build a new stadium on city-owned land. (Bud Selig is now asking him to delay the question because MLB is not ready and said MLB would foot some of the bill for a special election next year.) As you may remember (but probably not), I detailed last year the journey the A's would take: To San Jose, then Portland, then the moon and finally back to Philadelphia in 2113.

Apparently that's not soon enough for some people! J.T. Ramsay -- wasn't this that fake author? -- has started a petition, Bring Your A's Game, to bring the A's back to Philadelphia. This will undoubtedly work better than the petition to vote Pat Burrell into the All-Star Game after he was released by the Rays, though I guess that's not a good comparison.

Personally, I'd rather see the A's in Camden, or maybe Atlantic City (note: definitely Atlantic City). Look, there are plenty of valid reasons why this idea is a non-starter: Philadelphia doesn't have the population base for another pro sports team, the Phillies ownership would completely prevent this from happening, Citizens Bank Park had some half-empty games as recently as early 2008 (back-to-back pennants are the ultimate aphrodisiac), the Phillies are good now, etc. But, hey, do you know what your typical Facebook petition group is like? Drug test all poor people, deport Barack Obama, Bring an English Premier League team to the United States (?). This is way better than anything else I've ever seen since they opened Facebook to the masses.

And, hey, two baseball teams in town would mean more jobs available for Philadelphia-area baseball writers...

garfield.mondays.jpg April Fools! Major League Baseball announced yesterday the 2011 season will start on Friday, April 1. Get ready for a barrage of newspaper columns decrying the change in tradition. According to Elias, this is the first time a majority of teams start the season on a Friday since 1905.

The season's earlier start is so the playoffs end a little earlier. The season will end on a Wednesday (instead of the traditional Sunday). Ending on Sept. 28, the playoffs will start the 30th or Oct. 1; the World Series will begin Wednesday, Oct. 19. No baseball in November!

There are a bunch of quotes in this USA Today story about the change, most of them boring PR speak. But check out this insanely weird defensive quote from the head of Fox Sports!

Said Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, which broadcasts the World Series: "I think the commissioner is sensitive to getting the postseason over in October. But I've been in cities where the weather is awful in mid-October, and beautiful the first of November. So if we're playing Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 28, and it's snowed out, don't blame baseball."

Strange, right? "Sure, here's a quote for your article about the change: It's not going to mean anything! And one day players will be eaten by arctic wolves during a World Series game!" I am going to blame Ed Goren for everything bad that happens in the baseball playoffs this year (but mainly for McCarver and Buck, which he is actually to blame for).

Tonight's Questions

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Yes, Matt Garza threw the fifth no-hitter in the majors this year last night, and the first in Rays history. Search "matt garza no hitter" on YouTube and there are scores of videos of people filming their television set with their iPhone or Flip or whatever. Fortunately, there's also the above video, which is of better quality. Watch it before MLB Advanced Media takes it down! (When they do, here's the link to MLB.com.)

Judging from baseball's recent history, all of this is a sham; the pitchers are all on some sort of super pitching drug that baseball isn't testing for yet. But for now, it's been a pretty fun season even with the lower home run totals.



What is left for the pious ballplayer to do, after tearing up his knee during a post-walkoff celebration, than appeal to a higher authority? Aside from taking personal responsibility, I guess nothing.

Everyone's favorite crusader Chris Coghlan jacked up his knee attempting to pie the face of teammate Wes Helms after the Marlins 15th consecutive victory in their final at bat1, earning himself a cool 6-8 week stint on the disabled list.

Way to go Cogz, you've ruined it for the rest of us. We're soon to return to an age of firm handshakes and gentle slaps on the back to commemorate dramatic victories. A return to a bygone era when players were gentlemen and either high on greenies or drunk.

Post-game, the Marlins took the perfectly reactionary and predictable action to BAN shaving cream facials after walkoff victories. Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have already stung the eyes and filled the nostrils.

1 - Figure may not be accurate.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'm keepin' my head in the clouds and it's not so tragic if I don't look down

  • DON'T you just love the faux stories that are actually spam that pop up on Google News? I do, because they lead to awesome wording like this: "Baseball scores that are too high propel the MLB to request random testing in the minor leagues."
  • WHAT should you do if you a baseball tournament game is rained out? How about just awarding the trophy to the Long Island team, because that's what happened. I don't know anything else about this story because of the Newsday paywall, unfortunately.
  • DO you want to see the Phillies sex-for-tickets woman wrestle one of Tiger Woods' mistresses? What if I told you Screech was refereeing the bout? It's Thursday in Jersey; how it's not a cross-promotion for the season premiere of Jersey Shore I don't know.
  • HOW drunk do you think I got at the Phillies game today? Pfft, like I can afford stadium beer prices.

Oh, but wait! I wrote that last question before I actually went to the game, but it wasn't posted until 4:45 p.m. thanks to the magic of the Internet (i.e., Drew posting it). Yes, I pulled a MItch Albom! Somebody ought to give me a couple awards now.

I won't be attending a baseball game tomorrow, so look for more accurate content on Tuesday.

Photo of a very proud Fresno State baseball team fan by Frank Bonilla used under a a Creative Commons license

Sad Tiger.jpgLike nearly everything Bud Selig touches, interleague and re-alignment has both proponents and shortcomings. While upping the number of Red Sox-Yankees pitch count orgies to pummel our senses on a national scale (this is a good thing, I assure you), the unbalanced schedule sports a body count stacked up a mile high.

This past weekend, AL Central division contenders the Detroit Tigers and near basement dwellers the Toronto Blue Jays (both of whom have 50 victories this year, btw) battled in an enjoyable series that, sadly, featured the deaths of 3 separate Tigers and injuries to at least a dozen more. As per the whims of Herr Selig, this is the only time the Blue Jays travel down the 401 to play their formerly hated rivals from The D.

It really is a shame that two such regional opponents are reduced to a single home series apiece. They even have their very own "house divided" backstories!

...(due to the relative proximity) Families planned vacations around Tigers-Jays contests.

A rivalry that extended across two borders often divided households in Windsor, where mom and dad might root for the Tigers, and the kids for the Blue Jays.

Personally speaking, I love watching my team (the Jays) playing a historical rival wearing their classic unis in their awesome ballpark.

The border battle isn't the only collateral damage from the battle for Joe Buck's heart. The Phillies and Pirates face off but once a year, an intrastate battle whose ticket boon is surely missed all around Pirates HQ. And what of the poor Milwaukee Brewers, forsaking their former AL East foes to toil in relative obscurity, strangers in their own land on occasion.

What other regional cat fights were torn asunder and left for dead in the great reckoning of 1994? Why can't Bud Selig arrange the divisions to keep the age-old Braves/Giants divisional blood feud alive?

wow.sharkbaby.jpg Are all my posts at Walkoff Walk today going to be animal-related? Maybe! Over the weekend, a University of North Florida1 baseball player was bitten by a shark. Take it away, Take it away, news4jax.com!

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- A local college pitcher whose job it is to pound the strike zone found himself in the strike zone Friday afternoon at Jacksonville Beach.

Okay, let's move to the Florida Times-Union's record of events for the rest of this post.

Twenty-year-old Clayton Schultz was surfing and was bitten by a "powerful fish." It's unclear if it was a shark -- there are plenty of powerful fish in the sea -- but like every other media outlet, Walkoff Walk is just going to take the scare word and run with it. Our baseball players are under attack from a barrage of sharks!

Schultz needed over 300 stitches to repair the bite on his foot. I'd say this sharks-attacking-ballplayers trend will hit the majors by next week. Obviously Carlos Zambrano will be the first player bitten. Sorry, Big Z!

1 This school is abbreviated UNF, a backronym for sex sounds. Who wouldn't want to go there, shark attacks or no?

After months of waiting, there was finally a kitty on the field this season!

Unfortunately, it happened in the minor leagues, which is why I'm only getting around to it a week after. Like Cat Stairs, it wasn't ready for the big leagues.

The cat ran onto the field during the Wilmington Blue Rocks-Myrtle Beach Pelicans game in South Carolina. Scared as it was, it then totally was scared more by team mascot Rally Shark, which is apparently a shark that calls for rallies. It's a good thing the kitty didn't meet Deuce, the real life yellow lab who delivers balls to the umpire.

Of particular note is the minorleaguebaseball.com headline for the game recap, "Wayward Cat Can't Help Birds in Opener. Maybe if the mascot was the Rally Cat, Myrtle Beach, you'd have come back to win. But don't try to get kitty on the field-inspired rallies with a shark surrogate.

Still, for having a kitty on the field this year, Myrtle Beach takes the lead in the first annual Walkoff Walk Minor League Organization of the Year contest. This is an award I just made up and will probably forget to hand out at the end of the year. The current leader in the major league edition of the award is San Diego, for its bail bonds advertisment.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, you can't drink thick porridge if you want to keep your mustache clean

That'll jusssssst about wrap up a quiet week here at Walkoff Walk. But fear not: I'm going on vacation again next week and have once again asked Dan McQuade to guest edit Walkoff Walk in my absence. He kindly agreed and plans to melt your face off with kitties on the field, poignant John Kruk anecdotes, and assorted drug references that I'd never get in the first place.

See you Monday, same WoW channel. Well, not me, I'll be somewhere way off the AT&T 3G maps.

Albert Belle: One Crazy Guy

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Today's Classic TV Friday is a violent one. Are you in anguish over your job/love life/the heatwave? Get some vicarious catharsis through Albert Belle as he beats up people all over the 90s.

The first video finds our permanently disgruntled hero straight laying out Brewers 2B Fernando Vina with a full barreled forearm shiver. The collision is definitely in the basepath, but one doubts that Belle would have hesitated to throw a clothesline or possibly a DDT had Vina been even a couple feet away. Boom.


Our second video is appropriately titled "Albert Belle vs. Royals." I like it because it contains the magically mellifluous phrase "lookin' for a piece of Pichardo," which sounds like something Anthony Bourdain would do on a tour of Mexico City. I also like it because Belle chases down a backpedaling Hippolito and literally runs him over before pounding Mike Macfarlane's head like he was trying to open a coconut.


I think we all feel better now, don't we? Thanks, Albert!

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Deeply mired in a prolonged offensive slide, the slumping Phillies relieved long-serving hitting instructor Milt Thompson of his duties. With the first-place Braves disappearing further and further into the distance, the Phillies hope to rejuvenate their struggling offense by bringing back former hitting coach Gregg Gross.

Much has been made of the Phillies offense during a trying 2010 season. Trade rumors swirl around the team, though the most discussed target is offensive cog Jayson Werth. While Werth's production is down of late, his 2010 lines look nearly identical to the numbers he put up in 2009. Very rich, very large man and baseball philosophy lightning rod Ryan Howard is putting up his usual huge numbers, better in some categories. Yet the Phillies aren't scoring, especially here in July. What gives?

Oh right, their best player hasn't played since June 28th. No matter how many RBI Ryan Howard racks up, he simply isn't as valuable or productive as Chase Utley.

Even if you throw out the differences defensively (which you shouldn't), Chase Utley is the most important player in the Phils lineup. Ryan Howard is really good at driving in runs, at driving the million or so baserunners set out before him safely home. But Chase drives the ship. His steadfast refusal to make outs does nothing but put his team in a position to win.

The Phillies, after so many years of health and good fortune, are going through a tough time. The desperation of this move and perceived desperation on the trade market show a GM unsure of how to proceed, despite the benevolent oversight of one Stand Pat Gillick. The Phillies don't have to time to wait for Chutley's adamantium to heal, despite that realistically being the only thing they actually need.

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Bud Selig must be sick and tired of baseballers using the wonders of medical science to rejuvenate their tired old bodies after various ouchies. First, players lost old-fashioned steroids like stanzolol. Then they lost their precious greenies. Now, say good-bye to the product of recombinant DNA technology, the wonderful and magical HGH, because Selig ordered testing to begin in the minor leagues.

Effective last night, the doctors and nurses contracted out by MLB will be jamming their needles into the arms of random minor league players during surprise HGH tests.

And you know, it's really time baseball tightened the screws on these drug-addled players. Because if you believe the loudmouth arm of the mass media, baseball is seemingly the only professional sport in America that has a steroid crisis. Yeah, there are no steroids in football. Meanwhile baseball players have run rampant with all the illegal drugs they're using. I heard Jerry Hairston, Jr. is mainlining crocodile semen into his endocrine system thrice daily so he can play six different positions. These violations must end!

But alack and alas, this will not affect your favorite big league players...yet. Because the minor league folks are not members of the players union, Herr Selig did not need to get the a-ok from the MLBPA. He could make this decision unilaterally, like he did earlier in the day when he ordered his pastrami on rye extra lean with only a schmear of mustard. We'll have to wait and see when the cabal of owners can lean on the MLBPA just hard enough to force them to agree to this waste of perfectly good needles.

Think about this for a second: to test for HGH with current technology, testers need blood, not urine like in other 'roid tests. Taking a whiz is something baseball players do every day so it's no big whoop to donate some of their lemonade to the higher-ups. But what of blood? Some folks (read: me) pass out and get woozy when they have blood drawn from their arms; I can't imagine a player who makes his living with his two (or one) arms is going to be very happy having a needle jammed into his money-maker once or twice a year.

And these tests haven't even shown that they work properly yet! Experts in their white lab coats claim that the test can produce false positives, meaning that an innocent athlete could get punished for not taking something that probably isn't even such a bad thing. Bizarre.

So, perhaps this test will need to be improved before we ever see it in the bigs. Hopefully, Selig and his multi-millionaire cronies in ownership will focus on other important things first, like expanding instant replay or banning Kevin Millar from television.

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  • Rockies at Marlins, 12:10: Josh Johnson will show the Colorado contingent what a real Cy Young candidate looks like. Fella hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start since April 5th; he's looking for his eighteenth straight quality start and is inching up the league leaders in K's. Oh, did I mention the 15-inning scoreless streak? I could heap more praise on young Josh but I don't want to stress his back.

  • Nationals at Reds, 12:35: Returning Redlegs hero Edinson Volquez will make his second start since Tommy John surgery against someone who's old enough to remember Tommy John before Tommy John surgery. Livan Hernandez just wants to get the heck outta Cincy and back to D.C., where they know what to do with their chili. This one's on MLB Network for those of you who are unemployed or well-enough employed to have cable TV in your office.

  • Blue Jays at Tigers, 1:05: Not sure why the Tigers aren't holding this crazy promotion during this weekend's Blue Jays series in Detroit. Seems like a great way to stick it to the visiting team. Vernon Wells is 5-for-7 in his career against Justin Verlander. This is vital information.

  • Padres at Braves, 1:05: DIVISION LEADERS RUBBER. After today, the next time these two teams meet will either be in the playoffs or in Matt_T's copy of Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball for the Super Nintendo. Braves starter Tim Hudson has never lost to San Diego. Padres starter Clayton Richard has never seen The Royal Tenenbaums. Something's gotta give.

  • Phillies at Cardinals, 2:10: I've been thinking about a way to fix the struggling Phillies for the past few days and I think I've got the answer. Forget bringing over a starting pitcher and screw the whole trade Jayson Werth idea. The real solution? Trade Raul Ibanez to the Mets for Jeff Francoeur. One troubled asset for another. Rivals helpin' rivals. So easy and so hilarious!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the stars are gone.

  • DID Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez hurt writer Paul Morosi's feelings by calling him a "dope?" Eh, guy probably had it coming.

  • WILL you be watching Stephen Strasburg get no run support from his teammates against the Reds tonight? That's pretty much the only intriguing game on tonight in a limited slate.

  • HAVE you converted to the Church of Inception yet? Seriously, do it. I finally saw it last night and have already committed to naming my firstborn son "Christopher Nolan Cobb (last name redacted)".

That's all for today. More tomorrow.

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Umpire Adrian Johnson is not a man who will dilly nor dally with his decision-making. In last night's heated Dodgers-Giants game, Johnson, manning home plate with an iron fist, tossed enough Los Angeles personnel to clear up enough room in the dugout for Fat Old Tom Lasorda. And believe this: having given the heave-ho to both manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer after Clayton Kershaw hit a Giants batter despite both benches being clearly warned, thus leaving hitting coach Don Mattingly to lead the team, perhaps the Dodgers would have been better off with Lasorda. Because Mattingly made quite the faux pas.

The game was knotted at five in the ninth and the Giants had runners on second and third. Mattingly had brought in closer Jonathan Broxton despite Torre's wishes to give him a rest after a tough Sunday. He ambled out to the mound for a bit of a chat with Broxton after intentionally walking Aubrey Huff to load the bases. Mattingly then turned and took a few steps toward the dugout before turning again and repositioning first baseman James Loney.

But Giants manager Bruce Bochy knew this was a no-no and realized that the time Mattingly spent chit-chatting with Loney actually constituted a second trip to the mound. A few years back, Bochy, then managing the Padres, pulled the same stunt with Dodgers manager Grady Little, causing Little to pull Brad Penny against his wishes. This time, he tipped off home plate ump Johnson, who discussed the matter with the rest of the crew and decided that yes, Broxton needed to be replaced.

Whoops.

This meant that Mattingly needed to bring in struggling George Sherrill, who was granted just eight warm-up pitches and promptly gave up the game-winning two-run double to Torres. Game over. Mattingly probably screwed this one up, although Rob Neyer investigates what he deems to be a hazy rule that could have forced Mattingly to be ejected, too. Lasorda never would have made that mistake, though, because he'd have been too busy devouring a meatball parm sandwich to even make the first trip out to chat with his closer. That's Hall-of-Fame managing right there.

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Leave it to the psychedelic shamans running MLB.com's space roster of the third eye to turn Lou Piniella's "retirement" into the first eulogy I've ever read for a living person. While we've been talking about Sweet Lou's end (heh heh) being nigh for weeks now baseball acted like Kennedy had just been shot.

If no one saw this bit of face saving coming, then the MLB house organ did an absolutely miraculous job rounding up some of the best on the spot quotes I've ever read. But to be fair, I think they may have just told everyone that Lou died. To wit:

"Lou was ultra-competitive in every game," said (Mike) Scioscia. "He had a high expectation for what he would bring as a player, and he had a high expectation for what a team should do on a daily basis.

The funniest part about these quotes being in the past tense is that the Cubs STILL HAVE TO PLAY 67 MORE GAMES WITH HIM AS MANAGER. That mopey mug is gonna be riding the pine the rest of the Summer because nobody is man enough to just cut the cord. Must be some part of that baseball code. So just remember Chicago fans: Lou had high expectations for his teams... but for the rest of 2010 we're just gonna coast. See you next Spring.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," said (Joe) Torre, 70. "I'm not sure how much I want to work after this year. And that's what I have to figure out for myself with the help of my family. Because my family only really wants what I want because they don't want to have to hang around me if I'm miserable. Again, I'm not of a mind at this point in time to think I'm going to be doing this anywhere else."

OF COURSE Joe Torre took the opportunity to make Piniella's fantasy death all about him. "Hey Joe, did you hear Lou Piniella is [airquotes] retiring?" "Yes, I did. Let me relay to you this clever thing I like to say about my family that probably contains some truth about the emotional rollercoaster of neglect I've put them on." Blech. Who's next?

"We're certainly going to miss a pioneer," said Texas manager Ron Washington.

Who can ever forget those days in Seattle when Lou would sit on the bench loading a musket rifle and wearing a coonskin cap? Speaking of Seattle, didn't Lou see Ken Griffey Jr. read the writing on the wall this season and just bow out immediately? Student surpasses the teacher on that one. What say you, Joe Girardi?

"He's had great teams in both leagues. I was talking a little bit today about the bullpen he had with the Reds in 1990. They were called the Nasty Boys. They were filthy."

What is this a book report? Good statement of fact, Joe. But I think your thesis is lacking. "Remember that time you had the Nasty Boys? That was awesome."

Really, my whole point here is just to bring you what may the GREATEST DUSTY BAKER QUOTE OF ALL TIME. And I'm a guy that used to create entire posts translating his ephemeral wisdom. Here you go, folks. The master is here.

"There's a time for us all. I'm a little bit surprised he announced it now. Everybody will step down sooner or later. In life, you're born, you live, reproduce if you're lucky enough and then die. It's pretty simple."

Pretty simple??? More like pretty heavy, Coach Reaper. We're all gonna die, but we might have sex first. That's Dusty's motto and now it's mine. I love that man.

So happy trails, Lou Piniella... a few months from now. As Alex Rodriguez said about you, "He loved winning as much as breathing." If I've learned anything from MLB.com it's that you've stopped doing both.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, today we are all Frempkins.

Goodnight. I'm gonna go jam in my neighbor's kitchen. He has drums in there. Same WoW channel.
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Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose teams have not won a pennant in twenty years, is finally giving up the dream of going back to the World Series and will retire at the end of the year. Somehow after surviving ten (10!) years in Seattle and five years in St. Petersburg without losing his will to live, Lou took a job with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2007 season. Two division titles, two playoff disappointments, and one gigantic Chicago-media-induced headache later, Piniella has finally decided to hang up his manager pants and (presumably) return to the broadcast booth where Steve Lyons can accuse him of stealing his wallet again.

R.I.P. Lou Piniella's managerial career. You brought hope to so many teams only to leave them wishing they'd hired Jim Riggleman at a steep discount.

Good morning, WoWies. Please rise and salute the flag during this rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". Try not to titter:


That caterwauling you hear in the video is former Dodgers manager and current Dodgers saggy mascot Tommy Lasorda, special guest at Tommy Lasorda Bobblehead Night hosted by his former team, the Albuquerque Isotopes. Of course back in the 1970s, when Tom was the manager of the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate, they were called the Albuquerque Dukes. Also back then, the only Italian food our Fat Friend could find in New Mexico was Chef Boyardee in a can. Seriously: Tommy Lasorda kept Chef Boyardee locked up in his turlet.

(via DILBECK)

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'm not ever sure where you are.

  • REMEMBER when the Rangers had the best home record in the AL? Well now, it belongs to the Tigers and they're hosting Texas.

  • WILL Boston's 10 game road trip (starting tonight in Oakland) spell the end for their shaky season?

  • CAN the Dodgers end their 4 game losing streak with a win against Madison Bumgarner and their hated rivals from San Fran. BUUUUUUMGAAAAAARNEEEERRRR!!!

  • CAN the Reds hold onto their slimmest of division leads whilst in Washington? Second place Cards are in Philly this week.

  • IF you made money selling cruises to people would you lead off this week's episode of Cruise Planners News with a story of some woman getting killed by a stray bullet on a Carnival ship? No you wouldn't. Cause you don't have the guts that our man Paul up there does. Nothing gets in the way of a story. Okay, so I'm a little obsessed.

That's all for today. We'll probably be back tomorrow. That's kinda the way it's gone for like two and a half years now. Same WoW channel.
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The AL Central gets a hard time; both here at Walkoff Walk and around the greater Internet weblogiverse. While not short on parity-driven entertainment value, a first half Central trend continues right on into the post-Break dog days: this is the division nobody wants.

Looking at the standings from day to day, one can only assume the 2010 AL CENTRAL CHAMPS banner is made from hogweed and Lilith Fair tickets. The Twins rode a hot start, holding the pole position right into July. A sudden swoon and the resurgent Tigers shot to the lead. The white hot White Sox jumped on Ozzie's crazy train and went into the All Star break with the division lead in hand.

Since play resumed after the Bud bowl in Anaheim, each of the front runners had their turn to wilt in the heat. The ChiSox remain in first place, though they're bound and determined to give it away. Losing three of four to the previously ice-cold Twins; Sunday's heartbreaking loss was most shocking of all. The vaunted Chicago bullpen coughed up the lead with a four-run ninth, the winning run crossing after a bizarre throwing error by found money uberstud Alex Rios.

The Tigers, meanwhile, went out of their own to let opportunity pass them by after suffering a four game sweep at the hands of the Indians and major league débutante Jeanmar Gomez. The Indians! A team whose number one tradable asset is Stadium Mustard. The Indians; a team so bad they're behind the Royals in the standings. The Tribe is quite content to play the spoiler, sporting a .500 record within the division while getting mowed down in every other instance, interleague included.

The handsome bi-product of three teams duking it out to see who'll be last to lose the division title is the fine theatre created. Another single-game playoff to determine the lucky winner of being schmaltzed to death in Bronx or cowbelled to hell in Tampa is certainly a possibility. The battle to get there won't be pretty, and the real loser will be those of us who feigned interest all along.

The Milwaukee Brewers Don't Have A Friend In The World

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That Ken Macha is one protective mama bear. Following a weekend where his batters padded their league leading HBP numbers and Prince Fielder's head got tossed at, the skipper complained to huge umpire Bruce Froemming that his guys are just getting plunked too much. While often mistaken for dugout wallpaper or a particularly silent breed of grandpa, Macha sounded more like a seething Charles Bronson when pressed on the issue.

"I cannot read intentions. I don't know," Macha said. "But you just put the evidence out there. That's not my decision to make. We've got two guys that have been hit an inordinate amount of times [Rickie Weeks and Fielder]. That's a basic fact.

"I try to treat the game with respect. If appropriate action is taken ... then so be it. If appropriate action is not taken, then I'm probably handling the situation as a manager," Macha said.

Fielder, who was hit twice in all this weekend, has had a target on him ever since his elaborate home run celebrations last season. After breaking the hopelessly outdated "baseball code" Fielder inspired even jovial players like Torii Hunter to say, "It's all TV, acting, until someone gets hit with a pitch in the chin." Ouch. Fielder was restrained after being hit by Braves pitcher Jonny Venters on Saturday, and Venters was promptly tossed. The rotund slugger says he's tired of "always being the one filmed." I have no idea what that means.

After the tumultous Saturday (which, aside from Venters getting the boot, also saw Bobby Cox extend his ejection record to 156!!), two Braves players were hit on Sunday, yet no Brewers were tossed. You don't see the Milwaukee manager complaining to Bob Watson about that one.

There's an obvious amount of gamesmanship in all of this for Macha. His team is 10 games out in the division and an obvious quick PR fix for that would be to fire the oft mute manager with the .480 winning percentage. No matter what Bob Melvin says. And even if he does stay on through this season there's a chance he could lose Fielder in a trade. The choice for the manager seems pretty simple. Go out silently or go out sticking up for your most visible player and playing against type. Even if it makes you sound a little whiny.

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Despite all the less-than-kind things we've said about Goose Gossage here in the past, and despite the fact that he once called Yankees fans "dumb motherf**ers", I must say that meeting the Goose in person was nothing but a delight. They say that time heals all wounds; I suppose the same can be said for a couple of Coronas in a swank Stadium suite and a tiny dose of star-struck celebrity-meeting awe.

What was I supposed to do, tell Mr. Gossage that I think he's no Dan Quisenberry?

Because it's true: I've argued against his Hall of Fame credentials in the past and, when it comes to WAR, he's borderline at best, but I'll be damned if I was going to actually say anything so crass to his face. So what if he signs every baseball with his Hall of Fame induction year? The man earned it. ("It" being the adoration of burger-chompin' beat writers and hackneyed columnists, I guess).

And so it's no big deal if he's on the record criticizing one of my favorite pitchers for something so silly as excessive celebration. It was Old Timers Day! A day when we should be respecting our elders, not sassing them for their out-of-touch opinions. Or goofy trademark facial hair.

I also met David Cone and he was so charming, he could have stolen my fiancée if he wanted. Or me. Dreamy!

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metspig.jpgMets manager Jerry Manuel gets a hard time all over the blogosphere, not just in this specifically anti-Mets corner. Jerry does bizarre things, Jerry makes bizzare decisions. The return of superstar Carlos Beltran to the Mets mix means things are now more than messy, as it means Manuel has many mistakes to make.

Somehow, improbably, Manuel sent out a decent lineup last night to start the Mets second half. He hit statnerd poster boy Angel Pagan leadoff, slotted David Wright in third and cleaned up with the returning Beltran. Lefty Ike Davis and right-handed Jason Bay round out the meat of the Mets order.

Unfortunately for Mets fans everywhere, the Mets ran into two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, fresh off a whole wack of rest. Timmy threw a whole pile of strikes, missed more than his share of bats, only walked one and basically shut the Mets down en route to a six-hit shutout.

Expect nothing good to come of this. Angel Pagan came to the plate in a key spot in the fifth inning only to pop out and snuff out a mini-rally. Carlos Beltran was caught stealing, which nearly never happens. Beltran quickly and clearly shed light into his flawed thought process after singling in his first game back:

"I guess when you drink too many coffees and too much sugar before the game, it makes you do crazy things,"

While Jerry avoided saying anything crazy in the papers, you know the old gears are turning and he's ready to pop in lineup sparkplug/crappy baseball player Jeff Francoeur at a moment's notice. Already pledging to rotate Pagan, Beltran, and Frenchie through right and center fields, it won't take much for Manuel to go completely nuts and play Jeffy for six straight nights, admiring his gumption after striking out on three pitches once again.

The return of permapuff Jose Reyes should give Mets fans a reprieve from the Alex Cora - Number Two Hitter Experience, though Jerry's known to throw slap hitters among the trees without any rhyme or reason. My fondness for Beltran aside, the Walkoff Walk Stylebook decrees we must find joy in Mets failings. So here's to the continued struggles of Jose's brittle bones. Get in there and play us some jazz, Jerry!



Some memorabilia pig (I'd tell you his name but his YouTube handle is simply "SHAMEONGARYCARTER") brought his young son to the MLB All Star FanFest this weekend and tried to get some 8 x 10 glossies autographed by Gary Carter. Unfortunately, that practice is strictly verboten: Gary was only signing baseball cards. This anonymous goon raises a stink and eventually gets tossed from the event for being a total horse's ass. Imagine that, using your kid, who probably has no idea who Gary Carter even is, as a pawn to get some merch signed so you can flip it on eBay. Pathetic.

Even worse: this guy's dumb YouTube video made me sympathize with Gary freakin Carter.

(via Vin Scully is My Homeboy)

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In a move that seems to indicate the Braves are ready, willing, and able to win RIGHT NOW, Atlanta has shipped shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes across the border to Canada. In exchange, Toronto sends back two prospects and power-hitting shortstop Alex Gonzalez, in the midst of a career year at age 32. Fella's got pop and a tidy glove, but not much in the on-base department. But I guess old Frank Wren wanted some more power in his lineup and more leather on the field.

With one of the deepest rotations in baseball, young Reyes was expendable to the Braves; he will provide a nice little experiment for Toronto GM Alex Anthopolous. But really, isn't it peculiar that Frank Bird would cut ties with a 4 WAR shortstop in his mid twenties to get an aged, whiff-prone guy who's been feasting on the homer-happy mantra of the free-swinging Blue Jays?

UPDATE: Mark Bradley of the AJC just penned perhaps the worst introduction paragraph in sportswriting history. I just vomited everywhere.

It wasn't just that Yunel Escobar was slow to learn English. He was slower to learn how to be a professional. How many times do you have to be told to hustle -- the concept of which should be the same in every language -- before it's clear you just don't care to do it?

Just file that under 'H' for "Hustle, lack of in brown people".

Courtesy of our pals at The 700 Level, here's a video from the old Veterans Stadium in Philly of a young lad who is desperate to retrieve himself a baseball. Watch as the ball bounds down the third base foul line, caroms off the wall, and then gets chased by the kid as he explodes from the stands. It's really something:



Based on the greasy hairstyle on that ballgirl, I'd guesstimate this video dates from circa 1993. But I could be wrong; South Jersey girls wore that hair for way longer than it was in style.

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Last night, the National League finally got their filthy paws on the coveted homefield advantage with a win over the American League. For the first time since Bud Selig instituted the "THIS ONE COUNTS" policy, the Senior Circuit won the All Star Game behind some tidy pitching and some poor American League baserunning. If it weren't for Hong-Chih Kuo (who I mistakenly called Hong Kong Kuo last night, sorry dude) throwing away a baseball, the NL pitchers probably would have shutout the AL. Their final pitching line: 9 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 8K, and 0 ER. Solid.

As for the baserunning mistakes, blame pinch-runner Elvis Andrus for running past second base and getting tagged out in the sixth inning on an attempted steal; blame David Ortiz for being too bottom-heavy to reach second in the ninth inning on a outfield pop fly that landed for a hit. And yes, I am still waiting for Joe Girardi to send one of the most clutch hitters in baseball to the plate to pinch hit. Alex Rodriguez was the only AL position player to not make it into the game despite having a chance to bat as the tying run. Whazzat?

But more important: Kris and I talked to a bunch of people on the telephone for three solid hours with only seven uncomfortable silences and four breaks to play the Furious Five theme song.

We'd like to thank the following fine, talented folks for phoning in and making with the ha-has:

And of course our boys Drew, Dan Mcquade, and 310toJoba. Capital work! And you can listen to it all if you missed it last night. Because as much as this was supposed to be alternative color commentary about the All Star Game action, it turned out to be a bunch of funny folks talking about baseball, music, jazz hands, food, and explosive diarrhea. Please to enjoy:

(note: listen to the second episode from the top first, then the top one)

Listen to internet radio with Walkoff Walk on Blog Talk Radio

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Thought we were kidding last night? We weren't. Tonight at 8PM, Kris, Drew and I will do a LIVE podcast where we provide our own color commentary for the 2010 MLB All Star Game. We are breaking many, many rules to bring you this Glogcast, so to rid ourselves of some of the legal responsibility, we'll bring in those special guests to spread the blame around.

So please tune in to our Glogcast at Blog Talk Radio. Tonight at 8PM, lasting for three hours. We're really seriously doing this. Yeah, I'm as shocked as you are. Seriously.

THIS IS THE NEW SHOW LINK

UPDATE: You can talk about us in a chit-chat window after the jump:

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Because premature reports of his death sadden me. Although it's true he's suffered a massive heart attack and is in a Tampa hospital, so we'll keep this page updated if any other news comes out.

UPDATE: he's gone. RIP, Big Steinz. You were a hero to some, an enemy to most, and a crazy sonofabitch to all.

Anaheim stadium... cough cough... ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM is one of the oldest working parks in the big show. This is a league where retrofuturistic Camden Yards is fast becoming ancient (10th oldest!). But with all the renovations it's undergone over the years, It's funny to think I saw Jim Abbott vs. Roger Clemens in Anaheim with my Grandpa when I was 7. In the same park as tonight's All-Star game. Even that happened 23 or so years after the park opened.

The stadium hosted its first ASG in 1967 (IMPOSSIBLE DREAM), the year after it opened. One of the heroes that day was Philadelphia Phillies 3B Dick Allen. Allen, he of a career 156 OPS+ and 351 tater tots sent one deep to right center.



I don't think anyone wants to know what the woman at 00:44 is yelling.

But Allen wasn't just a prolific hitter. Dude also had soul. And that counts for a lot with the WoW staff, since none of us do. Allen had a music career as the lead singer of Rich Allen & The Ebonistics. Here's their most popular tune, "Echoes Of November"



To me, that's quite righteous. Dick's voice quivers and falters, but it quivers and falters in all the right places. Maybe you need something with a little more oh, Je ne sais caliente? Then you need a little piece of what's climbing the Brazillian Pop Charts. Because one of the hottest selling singles of the year down there is Ana Bolan's COVER OF ECHOES OF NOVEMBER. Her interpretation is way dramatic, and the video is way disorienting. I need to find a way to start shoehorning this into WoW special occasions like the shrimp.



Not only is that a sick tune, but it leads to my favorite line in Dick Allen's whole wikipedia page.

Brazilian pop star Ana Volans rerecorded Echoes of November. Her CD rendition of Echoes of November is selling briskly in Brazil. The CD's jacket contains a dedication to Dick Allen and his Hall of Fame candidacy. The influence of 200-million Brazilian music fans on the National Baseball Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans is yet unknown.

Viva La All-Star Game! Viva Anaheim! DICK ALLEN WAS BADASS!

Walkoff Walk Tuesday Evening All-Star Game Glogcast™

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So tomorrow night is the All-Star game. Remember two summers ago I had to glog it in two parts because we crashed the server during that 5 hour game. This year we're taking all the typing out of it as Rob and I host the first ever Walkoff Walk Tuesday Evening All-Star Game Glogcast™. Along with fellow WoWies DMac, Drew and Justin we'll also be hosting a cavalcade of friends while we watch the game live. It'll be by turns funny, sad, boring and tipsy. Hopefully not too much boring. Just put us on in the corner of the room. You know we'll be better than Buck and McCarver.

Scheduled to appear:

Join us! We'll drop the link on you in the morning. It'll be a fiiiiiine time.

Tonight is the Home Run Derby. So uh... enjoy that. We'll give a prize to anyone in this comment section who can correctly guess the first Southern California city (besides Anaheim) that cloying landmonster Chris Berman namedrops during the telecast. Good luck! See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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Who's that team leading the AL Central going into the All-Star break? Why, it's the Chicago White Sox, taking a vacation right in the middle of an 8 game winning streak. That tear is only their second longest of the season. Looks like best buddies and baseball GENIUSES Ozzie and Kenny knew what they were doing the whole time.

Chicago entered June 8.5 games out, and things were so bad GM Williams had already branded the team as sellers in the trade market. Since then they've gone 27-10, including 9 out of 10 in July. This, kids, is a turnaround. April and May are distant nightmares, like Morning Cup Of Joe.

With the season ending injury to Jake Peavy last week, Chicago is said to be looking to add an arm. Rumors have them interested in Roy Oswalt, but it's been said that Oswalt isn't interested in them. Can't blame him for not wanting to look even more washed up by switching to the AL. Unless the Rangers tank over the next couple weeks and need to dump Cliff Lee, look for the White Sox to hold pretty true to their current rotation. Despite any hysterical pleas for change.

For another summer, Chicago belongs to the White Sox. FIRE LOU PINIELLA.

buster.jpgThe travails of Florida State Seminole and Giants Catcher of the Future Buster Posey held the attention of prospect types for some time. His treatment at the hands of Brian Sabean — a man some people believe wouldn't even have a job had the Seattle Mariners drafted the skinny local kid as God intended — frustrated both Giants fans and fans of good baseball. Rather than promote the mashing youngster, the Giants opted to re-sign Bengie Molina and hand the back-up job to renowned country crooner Eli Whiteside. Eyes rolled and shouts of "Free Buster!" rang out across the interwebs.

Fast forward to today and, to Sabean's credit, Molina was shipped out for bullpen depth to the COTF basecamp in Texas. While Sabean and Giants manager Bruce Bochy haven't completely caved on their steadfast belief that young Buster needs to learn how to better handle a pitching staff, the Buster Posey: Starting Catcher era is well under way by the bay.

Sure, Posey still makes starts at first base; a bizarre concession to his otherworldly bat that still lets Bochy and Sabean keep their "old school/dumb guy" cred. Buster Posey 's response to his new-found freedom? Complete domination.

The All Star break finds Posey knocking the crap out of the ball to the tune of a .959 OPS, 1.578 in July! Posey just finished an incredible streak of road games, hitting 6 home runs in his past 11 games, driving in 15 over that stretch. Chief among Posey's impressive attributes is his ability to go the other way with power. Of Posey's 7 dingers, 4 went out to the wrong side of center field.

Posey is now, like his COTF brother Carlos Santana (whose numbers are nearly as good if not better), comfortably slotted into the middle of the Giants lineup. Of course this homer-happy barrage; his 54.5% home run per fly ball rate in July is, to borrow a scouting term, a smidge high. But Buster Posey continues to prove he is ready to hit at the major league level. His ability to call a good game wasn't likely to improve much in the hyperbole soaked Pacific Coast League; so on the job training will have to do.

Bob Sheppard, 1910-2010

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  • Marco Scutaro
  • Mike LaValliere
  • Scott Hatteberg
  • Benny Agbayani
  • Pete Incaviglia
  • Tony Graffanino
  • John Jaha
  • Shigetoshi Hasegawa
  • Hiram Bocachica
  • Fernando Vina
  • Mickey Tettleton
  • Erubiel Durazo
  • Mickey Morandini
  • Tadahito Iguchi
  • Frank Catalanotto
  • Guillermo Quiroz
  • Mike Gallego
  • Gary Disarcina
  • Carlos Baerga
  • Chuck Knoblauch
  • Mark McLemore

Go ahead. Say them aloud in your best Bob Sheppard voice and you'll see what I mean.

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Our stylin' friend John Fay at the Cincinnati.com Reds blog just tipped us off to one of the wilder baseball stories of the summer. It seems that Reds draft pick Chad Rogers was bitten on the foot by a shark while surfing. Bitchin!

Kid's a pitcher and the"5 foot bull shark" just nabbed his foot for 60 stitches. Shouldn't be nearly as bad as the impending doom waiting for his rotator cuff when he makes the bigs. And if that does happen, he seems to have a pretty good on his shoulders.

Despite his injuries, Rogers said he's ready to get back in the water.

"If I get bit again, though, I'll probably stay out for sure," he said. "I'm not testing my luck that much."

That is unassailable athlete logic. Get well soon Roy Scheider!

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This story was brought to you in lieu of your regularly scheduled Weekend Questions. Because it's way cooler. Here are tonight's games. Go stumbling into the weekend. It's nap time. See you Monday with more details on the Walkoff Walk Tuesday Evening All-Star Game Glogcast™. Cool. Same WoW Channel.

Oh, yeah. And Joel Sherman is now reporting that Cliff Lee is going to Texas. Whoops!

Frankly, I could care less about you Cleveland people. But for you diehard, lifelong residents and sports fans, this may actually brighten your hyperbolically lousy day. I've stumbled onto the motherload of clips from what appears to be some sort of DIY regional sports/comedy show that appeared on Sportsnetwork in Ohio. Tom Lyons & Tony Hall had a press pass and silly questions for players. They also spent a lot of time in the seats talking to the common man. That's how you get this first video which features BOTH Brook Jacoby and some casual racism from a Foot Locker employee at 1:05.



It's like a cross between This Week And Baseball and MST3K and it's pretty great. There are a ton of these and I'll post more after the jump for you to peruse and learn about Cory Snyder's favorite foods. ENJOY.

What's Up Creampuff: Major Dudes That Got Hurt

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Serious week for Creampuffin. But a wonderful week for the Puffin. Yeah, a huge colony of those kinda penguiny bird things in England was having serious population problems, but now it looks like they recovered. Awesome! Hopefully the following group of lynchpins limping into the All-Star break can do the same. BOOM, HOMONYM SYNERGY.

  • Kevin Millwood, Orioles: Kevin hit the deel with a forearm strain. According to MLB.com he did so begrudgingly. Hey Kevtone, that's the same way Pete Angelos signs your checks every week.

  • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Hurt ankle. (passes out). FALSE ALARM. He played the next night in Tampa. Thank gosh.

  • Carlos Quentin, Jake Peavy, White Sox: Fresh off winning Player Of The Week, Q-tone twisted his knee and missed all week. Loosk like he's back today. News is not as smooth for Jake Peavy. Peevtone detached a muscle in his back. That's a pretty illustrative injury and one that'll keep him out for the rest of the year. Maybe they can get Cliff Lee from the Yankees at the trade deadline.

  • Shin Soo-Choo, Indians: Choo has been one of the best hitters in the AL over the past two seasons, but he hurt his thumb and was placed on the DL. Original thought was that he'd need surgery and be out for the season. New thought says no surgery, shorter downtime. Fun fact: Chootone's son is named "Alan.".

  • Justin Morneau, Twins: Morneau got his big, beige, Canadian bell wrung trying to break up a double play in Toronto. Now dude's got a concussion and is feeling "loopy". Which is good news for Twins fans. At least he isn't feeling Lupe Caballero.

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Last night, Jayson Werth collided with a fan while reaching into the stands for a foul ball. He responded in the only logical way: By cursing out the dude, and by proxy his kid and the entire section. Look how horrified everyone is! This is instantly in my top 10 favorite Phillies plays of all time.

Because it was a dad and his son and not a 23-year-old drunk idiot Werth cursed out, people care about this too much, especially before noon. Because it (kinda) involves a kid, people care about this way too much. Look, I found someone calling for a public apology. I'm thinking it will be two days until we get our first over-the-top critique of Werth's f-bomb from a newspaper columnist. I know things have the potential to get annoying, but let's be happy this wasn't Milton Bradley. He yells at a crowd like this, there would be Congressional hearings.

Still, we could have avoided all this annoyance if Werth had just acted a little more like Ichiro, who shrugged off hitting a girl and kind of apologized even. Then the extremely excited girl got a boatload of merchandise! It's not really news that a 36-year-old Japanese man is more polite than a 31-year-old American bro, though.

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With the New York Post's Joel Sherman reporting that the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Mister Cliff Lee, aka The Best Pitcher in All of Baseball, from the Seattle Mariners, it's time we at Walkoff Walk squirted out a quick listicle enumerating all the possible places Lee might end up.

Because after all, there's no way Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik would do something so stupid as to shift the entire balance of power in the league by sending Lee to the team with the best record in baseball, right? RIGHT? C'mon Jack, even I'd be embarrassed as a Yankees fan to have this wild trade pair up Lee and former Indians teammate CC Sabathia, especially in these already trying times for Clevelanders.

To wit, here are the teams still alive in the hunt for Lee, in no particular order:

  • Yankees: Because it's not good enough that three-fifths of the rotation is on the All Star roster. Really, they don't need Cliff Lee. But hey, he's a strikeout guy who never walks anyone, and he's a lefty, and he proved in World Series Game One last year that he can go on the road, hop on a subway, and make any team look like a bunch of schmucks. Brian Cashman is said to be offering catcher Jesus Montero, their number one prospect who can rake but has the catcher skills of a Mike Piazza. However, the Yankees aren't special in their lust for Lee; EVERY team wants this guy!

  • Phillies: Like the Phillies, they feel real bad about how they treated their summer 2009 crush and are sending him bouquets of pink roses weekly at this point. GM Ruben Amaro put his rep on the line when he brought in Roy Halladay and sent Lee away, but facing a shortage in capable starters this year, Amaro wants Lee back. They'd probably have to part ways with Meech's best buddy Domonic Brown, a stud outfielder who is killing his way through all levels of the minors. And even with Cliff Lee on the team, they'd still have to figure out a way to correct their worsening offense.

  • Reds: Unlike the Reds, who are seemingly making magic in every facet of the game in 2010. Good starters, good defense, good offense, good relievers, and a great manager. Cliff Lee, however, would provide the team with that One Guy Who Can Anchor a Rotation and tip the division in their favor from the pitcher-laden Cardinals. Do the Reds have enough MLB-ready prospects to deal? Well they can send first baseman Yonder Alonso since he's pretty much blocked at the big league level by All Star Joey Votto. But maybe Jackie Z. wants a little bit more in return.

  • Twins: And the Twins have a little bit more to send, which is why they are among the front-runners in this horse race. Rumours have catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Aaron Hicks in the discussion. If the Twins can snag Lee, he'll move from one pitcher-friendly AL park to another. Also, he'll pal around with Carl Pavano and maybe even grow a moustache so they can be twins. Get it?

  • Rangers: The Rangers would love to get it. They might not have a penny to spend on extending Lee's contract past the 2010 season, they might not have an owner, and they might not have a pitcher-friendly ballpark, but they do have Justin Smoak. Smoak is not exactly killing it in 2010 but he's just a lad and needs a bit more refining. Plus the Rangers are in talks to include Money Baby in any Cliff Lee deal.

  • Mets: Haha, just kidding. The Mets have no money and no prospects.

  • Mariners: Wait, what? I thought the Mariners were trying to dump Lee to get a boatload of prospects? Well yes, but Lee himself intimates that the team passed up a golden opportunity to lock him down for years to come. Shame that Jack Z. turned down the idea in the spring because the only memory that Seattle fans will have of the time Cliff Lee played for their team is a month on the DL, two-and-a-half months of dazzling pitching, and endless trade rumours.

So, where will Lee end up? I've got $20 on the Miami Heat.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, oil me.

  • WILL the Phillies have better luck against first place Cincinnati than they did against the first place Braves?

  • WHO takes rubber in the Twins/Jays series?

  • WHAT does Rob do during all these late west coast Yankee games? I'm not even allowed to call him after 8. They're in Seattle through Saturday.

  • WHAT are you doing for the All-Star Game? WRONG ANSWER. You're going to spend it with Rob, myself and a whole cavalcade of guests as we host our first ever Walkoff Walk Tuesday Evening All-Star Game Glogcast™. It's gonna be like one of those old Tonight Show episodes or a Dean Martin Roast. We'll watch the game, make jokes as they happen and have lots of friends call in that are much funnier than us. It's gonna be a special, special night. Okay, maybe only one special. But still, be there. We'll let you know the guests on Monday.

Que sera, y'all. Just let it happen. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel. You too, Zangief.

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Here's some afternoon baseball to enjoy while you listen to the new Schooly D track:

  • Pirates at Astros, 2:05PM EDT: Can you believe the Pirates have gone a measly 0-5 this season against the equally awful Astros? Yet they have a 7-2 record against the Cubs. Quite the dichotomy! The Bucs will attempt to avoid 0-6 but they'll face Roy Oswalt, so let's not get our hopes up. But DO get your hopes up for the PNC #HEIST, happening in just four weeks and two days!

  • Angels at White Sox, 2:05PM EDT: Holy crap, did you see the clip of White Sox starter Jake Peavy having his freakin' shoulder muscle separate from the rest of his body mid-pitch? He's probably done for the year which means that Ozzie Guillen is going to need to come up with a substitute starter for the first time all season. Sorry, Oz, but Orlando Hernandez is taken.

  • Giants at Brewers, 2:10PM EDT: San Fran looks for the unprecedented four-game walloping of the Brew Crew in Milwaukee behind the groovy stylings of Barry Zito. Before this series, the Giants offense was about as productive as a neutered yak on Valium, but thanks to Buster Posey's 4-for-4 night with two taters and six ribs, they're showing signs of life. WoW favorite Manny Parra attempts to stave off hypothermia for the ice cold Brewers.

  • Cardinals at Rockies, 3:10PM EDT: How badly can the Cardinals bullpen screw this game up? After two straight nights of miasmic attempts at closing out a win, they probably won't have a chance to preserve a lead today anyway. Ubaldo Jimenez toes the rubber for the Rox. But hey, just in case the Cards ever have a future lead to preserve, they went ahead and signed bullpen savior Mike MacDougal.


Remember that crazy game last month at Citizens Bank Park when a freak storm rolled through town and caused a hellish rain delay that wasn't exactly a hurricane or tornado? Well there's at least one more great video from that day (yes, this was shot during an afternoon game) and it shows some wacky stuff flying around the concourses at CBP.

Imagine if this weather event had happened during last year's HEIST? You'd have seen hundreds of empty plastic beer bottles spilling out from the 200 level and the rain would have soaked the GARFIELD right off Kris' cat-shirt.

(via our man Meech.One)

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Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects (and former reality TV stars from India) Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are going Hollywood. Sony Pictures signed a deal with the pair and (JB Sir, I'm sure) to make a feature length movie about their rise from cricket-playing and truck-driving in their native India to the star-studded fields of Single-A baseball in the armpit of Florida. It'll be the feel-gupta movie of next summer, says Roger Ebert.

The boys, last seen rubbing elbows with President Obama, are already excited to cast their own roles. As per Bob Nightengale of the USA Today:

"I hope some good American actor plays me," Singh says. "You know, somebody like 'Rambo.' That's the guy (Sylvester Stallone) I want."

Says Patel: "I need a short guy. A guy like Tom Cruise. That would be perfect."

Well that's settled, nice and tidy. Hit the bricks, Kal Penn, you're not needed here. Of course, the only question that remains is: in the scene where Rinku and Dinesh visit the lavish Southern California home of a disgraced baseball superstar, who will play Barry Bonds?

In other Rinku & Dinesh news, the boys are actually coming along nicely in their second season with the Gulf Coast League Pirates. Rinku has pitched five innings and struck out five batters, while Dinesh has whiffed three hitters in only 1.2 IP. They are striking with frequency!

Tonight's Questions

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We're just one month away from the #HEIST, so I hope everyone has booked their hotel rooms and entered the contact information for all the Pittsburgh area hospitals and jails into their cellphones. If you decide, on a whim, between now and August 7th that you've changed your mind and want to join us for the Pirates-Rockies game at PNC Park, email me and I'll put you on our waiting list.

See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

supercake.jpgNot just because his gleaming white visage makes him impervious to criticism; every team needs a guy like Brett Gardner because Brett Gardner is really good. His contributions are innumerable and, in my view, his skill set isn't that rare. The question remains: why aren't the outfields of the world lousy with patient fly-catchers like Brett Gardner?

Brett Gardner is, unlike nearly every New York Yankee in existence, somehow underrated. Many Yankee fans took a dim view of Gardner's lack of power, deeming the corner outfield spots as key offensive spots where homers are mashed and fly balls are casually picked off the warning track to keep the batter from stretching his lazy fly into a triple. Slap hitters like Brett Gardner are best squeezed into the dreaded fourth outfielder role, spelling their more dong-happy brethren when they need a break from all the tater trotting.

As it turns out, Brett Gardner is a damn fine baseball player. His admirable walk rates & rampant base thievery pair with his outfield excellence to create quite the valuable dude. Not because of scrap or grit as his dirty uniform might suggest, because of his ability to do three things really well.

As I asked above: why shouldn't every team have a guy like this? What team wouldn't benefit from having a guy who does what he does well? Is it a matter of coaching, discouraging speedy guys from taking good at bats by insisting they slap at the ball and bunt at their first convenience. Is the promise of a dozen home runs worth more than oodles of runs prevented and bags swiped?

Not all teams are like the Yankees, as you well know. Fielding the first infielder to clout 600 career home runs along with a second baseman with 16 home runs and 4+ WAR at the all star break is a luxury few can afford. But the case of the steady gloveman taking a backseat to the streaky out-maker is a very common one, even occurring in Queens right now! More teams stand to benefit from not only playing but developing this type of talent. Rather than shoe-horning players into pre-determined roles; let a valuable player flex whatever muscles he's got to squeeze.

AP image courtesy of Daylife

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Did you know Dmitri "Da Meat Hook" Young was a career .292 hitter? Probably not. Did you know dude liked to dabble quite a bit in drink and smoke? Probably did. His relatively peaceful post MLB life as an Frontier League bench coach in Michigan hit a bump in the road on Monday when dude got pinched with some weed at a rural airport. Bummer.

Young was released on $100 bail, which tells me this was a pretty minor offense. Heck, here in Massachusetts he probably wouldn't have been arrested at all. Decriminalized! But his current employers seem to think the ordeal may be even more innocent than just trying to tuck a few j's into his hair and get on a puddle jumper. They're insinuating that Dmitri may have had the weed for... his diabetes? Here's his boss, Oakland County Cruisers CEO Rob Hillard.

"With 13 seasons of Major League Baseball and six more years in the minors, Dmitri Young has had more than his share of bumps and bruises -- to his knees and back -- as well as his well-documented fight with late-life (Type II) diabetes," Hilliard said. "While we believe Dmitri could have exercised better judgment in this situation, we have been speaking with his physician and are beginning to have a clearer understanding of the circumstances surrounding his health.

"What we are certain about is Dmitri's positive impact on our players, their approach to the game and their commitment to competing."

Cool boss! The only research on treating diabetes with marijuana I found was from from the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis on their website letfreedomgrow.com. I think they're biased. BUT I'LL STILL BELIEVE EM.

Mostly, it's neat to see this organization standing up for Young, a guy who has made more comebacks than the mustache. There's a certain amount of leeway in baseball for a guy to make mistakes. Look at Ron Washington and every member of the Mets in the 80s. Sometimes that lets lousy guys get away with murder, but in Young's case it looks like it'll just let this minor offense slide, no many how many hand wringing columns get typed up about it in the Freep. Good on that. Go Cruisers!

No word yet on how any of this affects his awesome looking kid.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, the water is in puddingstone so it's cold as hell.

  • CAN CC Sabathia win his 7th straight start while the Sox and Rays continue beating each other up? LEMME HEAR YA SAY FELIX DUBROOOOOOONT!

  • WHAT will you bid on at the Rangers' bankruptcy auction? I'm hoping they dust off the ol' rubberband ball that is actually made up of Dean Palmer's tendons. And yes, this Chapter 11 thing is still dragging on in Texas.

  • WHAT will you drink on a hot day in San Francisco now that they've banned all sweetened soft drinks? BEEEEEEEEEER. Easiest Tonight's Question ever. I should be the Surgeon General.

  • CAN the Reds stay on top in the Central with another win again the Mets? Gotta do it against Johan.

  • WHAT about Detroit? They've got it easier against Baltimore, but their lead over Minny is slimmer. Speaking of which, they play the Blue Jays who lit up starter Carl Pavano in their last meeting back in May.
Go goodly and stuff. See you Foomorrow. Same WoW Channel.


  • Here's some belated America-lovin' for the Independence holiday spectacular that has passed us by and left us hot and parched in a puddle of sweat, courtesy of Reds pitcher Bronson "I'm Not Brandon" Arroyo. Seriously, if you're not already standing up and saluting the miniature American flag in your pencil holder, you will be halfway through this video. That is, unless you've already went to the video page and clicked the little soccer ball button under the video. Ahh, much better.

    (courtesy of the Votto Voters at OMG Reds)

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    He's leading the NL in homers, is just one percentage point away from slugging .600, and has overcome melancholy and infinite sadness with honor and frankness, but Joey Votto is not a National League All Star...yet, at least. Votto was not chosen to participate in the All Star Game by either the fans, the players, NL skipper Charlie Manuel, or Bud Selig, whose powers as commissioner include both sekritly altering All Star rosters and turning ballparks into sand.

    Sure, Votto has been among the top five first basemen in the Senior Circuit since the birth of Walkoff Walk, but that alone is not enough to guarantee the guy a spot on the All Star roster. See, the mere fact that Votto plays a crowded position is reason enough that the kid is going to have to either learn to accept disappointment or change positions. Heck, Votto is a righty in the field; how hard could it be to move across the field and play third base?

    Ryan Howard. Albert Pujols. Adrian Gonzalez. None of them can match Votto's production in 2010 but this conglomerated gathering of ballplayers should never be about which player has been successful for three months. And even if Votto has been more valuable than Howard for three years running, he plays in Cincinnati and not a city that has been to two straight World Series. Harsh, but true. Ryan Howard is an All Star. Joey Votto is a homely Canadian.

    Still, he's a homey Canadian currently leading the second-chance voting contest at MLB.com, so there's that. And with the voting power of both Mountie Nation and Red Sox Nation behind him, he's a lock.

    Still, there are other players having a nice little season who might deserve to be an All Star and then there's Omar Infante. Who really got screwed the most by not making the team?

    Hey, remember last year's giant baseball player magnet/"So Show Me What I'm Lookin' For" All-Star Game ad? You might think that would be the weirdest advertisement for an exhibition of baseball's best players (and Tim Wakefield) you'd ever see. You might be wrong, however, because holy crap what is with the 2010 MLB All-Star Game ad?!?!

    Below, an extended (nearly shot-for-shot!) critique of the commercial.

    Independence Questions

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    Hey kids, I'm making Dr. Pepper Ribs!

    • WHAT are you doing on this, the most smoke filled, of federal holidays?

    • WILL Lou Piniella make it out of this weekend employed? The Cubs lost to the Reds last night and are getting crushed 10-0 as I type this. I know I'm beating the Fire Lou drum pretty hard, but this is getting ridiculous.

    • WHO has the toughest weekend at the top of that bunched up AL Central? Gotta be the White Sox heading to Arlington, where the Rangers have the best home record in the AL.

    • DID you know that Mat Latos, a starter in tonight's Astros/Padres tilt went to my alma mater, the lovely Coconut Creek High School? Of course you didn't, I just found out myself the other day.

    • WERE any of you surprised that I stopped writing about college baseball the instant FSU dropped from the CWS? Of course you weren't. I'm a total homer. Whatever, congrats Gamecocks.

    I hope you all to have fun this weekend. Enjoy the weather if it's nice where you are.

    One more thing. When you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes.

    Same WoW channel.

    POSTSCRIPT: Don't let your weekend pass without reading this interview with our own Drew Fairservice over at Fangraphs. Watch him expound on things like his "hit the ball hard" theory and somehow work in a Tulo reference even though he's talking about the Jays. Generally, see him be smarter than us. As usual.

    Well, here's a cool one. I started off by searching for Vin Scully because I love him and want him to be an extra Grandpa. Little did I know I also wanted to see Bo Jackson be totally awesome. After we see a clip of Bo covering 2 miles to make a catch in center he drives a Rick Reuschel meatball to the deepest part of Anaheim Stadium. Yes, the Rick Reuschel finished 8th in the Cy voting that year.

    And the whole thing is (kinda) narrated by newly minted ex-Prez, Ronald Reagan. Classic TV Friday: It's a time machine, baby.

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    The last place Arizona Diamondbacks have decided that now would be a great time to shake up middle management in the organization, firing doe-eyed young general manager Josh Byrnes, 40, and his cherub-faced sidekick, manager A.J. Hinch, 36. They'll be replaced by club VP for player personnel Jerry DiPoto, 42, and bench manager Kirk Gibson, 53. Byrnes, previously an underling to boy genius Theo Epstein in Boston, should land on his feet with ease in some advisory position with another forward-thinking team. Hinch, I'm not so sure about. He's the guy we knew nothing about when he was hired and barely had a year under his belt in the big boy seat before he was asked to leave. Politely, I'm sure.

    The D-Backs, considered by some to be preseason contenders, sit a whopping 15 games behind first place San Diego (yeah, still feels weird to say that). Besides Edwin Jackson's slog of a no-hitter last week, it's been a sadsack season in the southwest, and I'm positive that our support of the D-Backs boycott is indirectly responsible. More directly responsible? Brandon Webb.

    Webb, who is earning $8.5 million in 2010, has a grand total of one start in the past two seasons because of shoulder ouchies. From 2006 to 2008, fella won one Cy Young Award and finished as runner-up in two other votes. Webb went 56-25 over that span with his sinkerball inducing groundouts like a man on fire. But without his number one starter presence on the mound the past two years, the Diamondbacks have had to rely on the wild pitching stylings of recently acquired Dontrelle Willis and the offensive contributions of people like recently dismissed player Eric Byrnes. They've failed. So yeah, maybe Josh Byrnes deserved to get fired, giving so much money to his cousin Eric. Nepotism sucks.

    As for new manager Kirk Gibson, we all love the guy for being gritty and wearing his stubble so proudly. Tigers fans, Dodgers fans, and people who hate Dennis Eckersley alike can testify to his heroism, but will he be a good manager? Who the heck knows? This isn't rocket science, it's managing a baseball team, perhaps the simplest job in all of professional sports besides TV analyst. Good managers land with good teams and sit back and let things play out. Bad managers get hired by the Pirates. Sure, we at Walkoff Walk will root for Kirk Gibson to succeed, but c'mon, the team he just inherited is made up of folks dumb enough to get stuck in a bathroom.

    Today, we salute Bud Selig and the rest of the MLB ad wizards for doing what they've done best: separating baseball fans from their hard-earned dollarinos. They've devised a brilliant new scheme to empty the wallets of the sports most ardent and devoted followers while pretending to give them a helpful service:

    MLB.com is offering you the opportunity now to buy tickets at the face value price for your favorite team. Postseason Ticket Reservations is a new feature intended to broaden potential access to these valuable seats, ensuring you that if your team plays in a game you reserve, you get to buy a face-value ticket and go to the game.

    Translation? Spend $10, $15, or $20 now per game for the LDS, LCS, or World Series and you'll reserve yourself a ticket for one of your favorite team's home games in the playoff. Add in a one dollar processing fee and Herr Selig will set aside a seat in the upper deck for you and your sweetheart. But what if your favorite team fails to make the postseason? Will your mini-deposit be refunded? No! And what if you end up with Game 5 tickets but the series ends in four, will you get a refund? Heck no!

    For MLB to call this money grab a 'feature' is shameful. Even for them to describe it as 'investing in futures' tricks even the savviest fan into thinking he/she is playing right along with the team as it tries to win their division. Ridiculous! There are still 17 teams within six games of first place of their respective divisions; at least nine of these fanbases will spend October farting into their couch cushions and not cheering on their team at the ballpark. So why charge them $11-$26 now to reserve seats for games that will never happen?

    Granted, the fee is a small price to pay if one's favorite team does make the playoffs, especially for those folks who can't afford season tickets or afford to wait in line outside the stadium box office. And in the end, this will be cheaper than paging through the StubHub listings come October (which is yet another disgusting money grab by MLB). But for this reservation system to be such a blatant scam is embarrassing. C'mon, Bud, refund at least half of the fee for the Mets fans.

    Most shameful of all is that MLB.com's Mark Newman quoted a player and manager in his puff piece, but couldn't find any actual living people to say something nice about it.

    "I never could stand losing," Hall of Famer Ty Cobb once said. "Second place didn't interest me. I had a fire in my belly."

    "What are we out at the park for, except to win?" asked Leo Durocher, who won two World Series as a player and another as a manager.

    Allegedly, Durocher also said, "Nice guys finish last because they don't spend $90 plus $6 in transaction fees to reserve playoff tickets." Use the money quote, Mark.

    UPDATE: One cannot reserve Yankees playoff tickets through this system, but if you click through to the other teams, it tells you recent activity and if someone has actually reserved playoff tickets. The oddest part: someone has reserved Orioles playoff tickets but no delusional Chicago fan has reserved Cubs playoff tickets.