August 2010 Archives

Who Is The Best Greek Baseball Player Of All-Time?

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Mike Moustakas is a phyllo eating manbeast. The Royals farmhand went nuts for AAA Omaha last night going 4 for 6 with 3 funny bones and 11 RBI. Tiropita! Overall this season he has 34 of those ding dongs which has helped propel him to a 1.010 OPS. It's just too bad the big league club is so chock full of talent that he can't get his shot yet. What are they waiting for, a Greek economic rebound?

While my people have a storied history of inventing and perfecting just about everything, MLB has never really been our domain. I'm sure this isn't all-inclusive, but this Wikipedia page lists 14 major leaguers. Not exactly a murderer's row but still has a couple noteworthy names on it. It's true that I pitched a no hitter in Little League but I never made it past high school and am probably the best Greek Finder Of Outre Baseball YouTube Videos. So who then is the best Greek player of all-time? I'll rank em, 5-1.

  • 5. Nick Markakis: Perhaps I should have just done a Top 4. But still, he's one of the best players on his team. Even if it is the Orioles.

  • 4. Milt Pappas: Actually shortened his name from Pappastediodis, career 110 ERA+ two All-Star teams.

  • 3. Gus Triandos: Made 4 All-Star teams, received an MVP vote in 4 separate seasons, as a catcher often led the league in passed balls and as a runner in times caught stealing.

  • 2. Eric Karros: 1992 RoY, finished 5th in MVP voting in 1995, 284 career HRs.

  • 1. Tino Martinez: GREEK MOTHER, finished 2nd in MVP voting in 1997, 2 All-Star teams, 339 career HRs.

So there you go. The best Greek major leaguer ever had the last name Martinez. We invented Democracy.

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Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is a witch. He can see the future, and it's grim for Red Sox fans. Do you have tickets for any remaining Red Sox games at Fenway Park? Might as well shred them unless you're planning on rooting for the visiting team. Dan Shaughnessy has eulogized the Red Sox with such a sense of certitude that I'd be surprised to see any of the Red Sox players show up for their game tonight in Baltimore. Why play? Season's over, boys:

We can all stop now. We can stop scoreboard watching, and doing math tricks, and harboring silly hope that there's a big surge ahead that will thrust the Red Sox into the 2010 playoffs.

Better to cease with the torment now and accept the obvious. The Sox are not going to be in the hunt in October. The Boston baseball season is going to end Sunday, Oct. 3, at Fenway Park. When Game No. 162 is over, the Yankees will leave town and start their American League Division Series. The Sox will scatter to the four winds.

My gosh, is that man a dour dollop of despair or what? I'd call his death declaration a blanket statement but it's more like a grave blanket statement, amirite? Shaughnessy continues by questioning why anyone would have ever been so dumb to root for this team and expect good things. It's almost (but not quite) an admission that his entire season's worth of Sox columns amounted to nothing more than a tax write-off of spilled ink and wasted bits and bytes.

Shaughnessy even went so far as to call a 2-1 series loss to the Rays as "a lost weekend". A winning record on their upcoming trip to the West Coast is all but unimaginable. Yet Shaughnessy promises a three-game sweep over the Orioles despite the Red Sox' .500 record against the team in 2010. What gives, Dan? One day you are burying Johnny Damon for not returning to Boston and less than a week later you are burying the team you wanted him to come back to. Pick a side!

It's almost enough to make me want to root for the Yankees or Rays or both to collapse and have the Red Sox surge back into a playoff position, only so we can see what nonsense Shaughnessy and his band of miserable Hub columnists might write to explain "why Terry Francona deserves manager of the year" or "how the Sox overcame injury to contend". Perhaps it's my own contrary juices boiling, because why would a Yankees fan ever root for the Red Sox? Maybe in the end, it's not the Sox I despise so much but the bandwagonesque attitudes of their most vocal critics. I spit on your eulogy, Dan Shaughnessy.

Fat-Sox.JPGOnce you get past the initial weirdness and divisive nature of the White Sox acquiring Manny Ramirez; it's hard to think the offensive upgrade should bolster their somewhat slim playoff hopes. Harriet Williams may just have waited too long to pull the trigger as their once-vaunted bullpen is suddenly a huge question mark.

When last we checked in with the Sox 'pen, they were striking out batters en masse and holding together the surprise of the season's first half. Fast-forward to today and they're leaking oil and coughing up leads left and right. The formidable setup tandem of J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton both landed on the disabled list last week. Briefly excellent fill-in Erick Threets seemed to finally be healthy and pitching well, which of course means he needs Tommy John surgery and misses the next full year of baseball.

Obese walking punchline Bobby Jenks avoided the disabled list after a slight injury, opting to struggle worse than the waistband of his XXXXL underoos, even blowing a three run lead last night! Jenks, who spent much of the season trying to give his job away, is safe for another two weeks thanks to the dearth of viable options remaining with all their body parts in tact. Nearly all the remaining bullpen arms are rookies, including young lefty Chris Sale - picked by the Sox mere weeks ago in the June amateur entry draft!

While the injuries and subsequent bullpen chaining calamity hugely affects their performance, I think the dearth of fat guys is what's really getting the White Sox down. Thanks to the power of the internet (namely the great Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs) and the ingenuity of nerds the world over, we now see just how fast baseball's relievers really are.

This incredible document lists nearly all eligible relievers by their Body Mass Index; in addition to showing the bullpen's BMI z-score, or standard deviations above the median weight. Turns out the fattest bullpen in baseball is also one of the best, with the bulbous Dodgers pen weighing (massing?) at more than two full deviations above the norm fatness.

The notoriously chunky White Sox check in second with the best bullpen in baseball (The Fathers) sliding in 11th. Can we conclude that fat pitchers are better pitchers? Of course we can(n't)! There must be a connection between bullpen quality of obesity, beyond the constant sitting and snacking. Please to enjoy the list of fat guys, with full credit going out to Twittermeister Mark Hedjuk. Reveal in the knowledge that dangerously unhealthy weight problems haven't stopped these guys become top-flight athletes and millionaires. Living the dream!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, it just keeps growing.

  • DID any playoff pictures become clearer over the weekend? Well, the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Giants didn't do themselves any favors, but at least San Francisco is still within two of the wild card.

  • BUT wouldn't they feel better if they were chasing a team without Roy Halladay? He's starting against the Dodgers tonight.

  • WILL Manny Ramirez make a big splash in his first game with the White Sox?

  • WHAT are you, stupid? Like he was going to report to his new team right away. He's skipping today because he probably has to come back to Boston to get his hair done or down to the Dominican Republic to ride some waterslide first. My prediction for his impact in the AL Central race is BUBKIS. White Sox play the Indians.

  • WHICH also ran will make the best spoiler in the deadlocked AL East race? Oakland (in New York) or Toronto (in Tampa)? With six games separating them from any other Wild Card team the Yankees and Rays are reeeeaallly gonna have to screw something up to miss out on the postseason (fingers crossed).

  • DID you hear that Rinku got promoted? Happy day!

  • IS Boeing delaying the Dreamliner just to piss off Paul Beletiere and the fine folks at Cruise Planners News? I say yes.
Go home and do some laundry. You smell like a hamper full of kitchen rags. See you tomorrow, same WoW Channel.

While Tony La Russa is busy restoring honor with the Tea Party idiots and his team is dropping five of seven to the lowly Pirates and Nationals, FIRST PLACE REDS manager Dusty Baker is a dancing fool in the Reds dugout.1


Dusty Baker. Riverdance. Live it, love it, catch that Reds fever. He's good, but he's no Riverdance Kitteh.

This was great, but I need more more more! People of MLB Network, I implore you: please provide us with maximum Dusty coverage this September/October!

1technically this video is from June, but c'mon, you just know Dusty is still kicking up his heels. Five game lead!

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The honeymoon in Chavez Ravine, as they say, is over. I'd say the writing is on the wall, but for some time, the writing has actually been removed from the left field wall: Manny Ramirez is leaving Los Angeles after leading the team to the promised LCS for two straight seasons and heading eastbound and down to the second place White Sox. I'd like to call this a trade, but with no players heading west, it's a complete and total salary dump. It's four point three million dollars that the McCourts can put towards some more useful expense, like phrenology.

Along with general manager Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen, Manny fills out the third slot in the South Side triumvirate of crazy minorities; he replaces owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who could never truly approach the level of "what's he going to do next?" questioning. All Reinsdorf ever did on that dumb White Sox reality show on MLB Network was share a bowl of matzoh ball soup with Bud Selig. Boring. Manny is here now to up the wackiness and sell some grills.

Odd, isn't it, that on the same weekend the Manny Ramirez trade to Chicago was getting the final touch-ups and signatures that Jim Thome, the former White Sock spurned by Kenny and Ozzie who signed instead with the division-rival Twins, was pulled from two games with a bad back. Thome's been nothing short of magnificent for the first place Twins this year. But it is not outside the realm of possibility that Manny, at DH in a tidy hitters park in Chicago, makes up for five Thome-less months in just four short weeks.

Because after choosing not to sign Thome, the White Sox instead have marched out a series of crappy DHs that rivaled anything the weak-hitting Royals could produce. When "Mendoza Line" Mark Kotsay is getting the plurality of DH at-bats for your favorite team, you begin wishing that American League pitchers would just start hitting again. Manny needs the designated hitter position as much as the DH needs Manny. It just makes sense.

Manny Ramirez brings no guarantees in his carry-on luggage from L.A. and the White Sox make no promises to their fans. They're four and a half games behind the Twins and possess but a mere 8.6% chance to make the playoffs. Fortunately for the ChiSox, they have three remaining games left against the Twins. Unfortunately for the ChiSox, they have seven remaining games against the Red Sox. Fortunately for the ChiSox, they have thirteen remaining games against the Royals, Tigers, and Indians. Unfortunately for the ChiSox, the frogurt is also cursed.

Conclusion: all I want to see is a close race in the AL Central, and Manny at DH in Chicago might make that happen.

Get Ready To Get Sick Of Conan O'Brien

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What'd you say, fanboy? That's impossible? It's not. Back when TBS signed your beloved ginger yukmaster to a contract (thus ending your hunger strike, TAKE THAT NBC) you probably weren't even thinking of how the Superstation was going to beat you over the head with Conan previews during the Divisional series and ALCS. Just like DMac prophesized for George Lopez, if you watch enough of this year's playoffs O'Brien's goofy mug will be burned in your retinas faster than you can say "Frank Caliendo." Did you hear that he has big hair? Cause he does!

Two promos have already been rolled out for the show's November launch and surely there are some baseball themed ones in the pipeline. Apart from baseball I never see a second of TBS programming, and I suspect I'm not alone. It's hard to blame the station for inundating scores of baseball only viewers with promos for the admittedly limited amount of original programming they produce. Despite their nearly guaranteed exclusion from the postseason, I still look forward to O'Brien dusting off his oft dormant Red Sox fandom, a la Michael Chiklis and Robert Redford. Zzzzz. Even though they look alike, Doris Kearns Goodwin is ten times the Boston fan Conan is. You'd never see her in a loathesome Flyers jersey.

Yes folks, now that Chip Caray is gone from your October, the only people fisting you 6 weeks from now will be Conan O'Brien and the TBS marketing department. Let's see if you're sick of him before his show even starts.

Weekend Questions

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That'll wrap up this week like a tidy string on a pretty paper package. By the way, the Rays claimed former Rockies OF Brad Hawpe, who is notable for this. Maybe before Monday we'll find out more about the Manny Ramirez waiver process that has been keeping us all inter...zzzzzz.

Happy Katrina anniversary, folks. See you next week, same WoW channel.

Today's Classic TV bit requires a little history lesson before we get to the video. Let's wind the time machine back to 1987, when men were men and boys were playing with Go-Bots. That particular baseball season was notable not just for Paul Molitor's 39-game hitting streak, but also for a huge power surge across the entire sport.

For six straight seasons prior to '87, only one player hit more than 40 home runs in a season (Tony Armas hit 43 in 1984). But in 1987, four players broke the 40 mark, and two nearly hit 50. Andre Dawson and then-rookie Mark McGwire led their respective leagues with 49. All in all, there were a whopping 4,458 home runs hit in 1987, a staggering 17% increase over the previous season and TWICE as many as had been hit just eleven years earlier. Baseball players didn't reach that level again until 1996.

So yeah, there was probably a little something extra in the ball that year. Whether the change was intentionally made to increase home runs or not, it certainly provided Johnny Carson with a chance to do a quick and hilarious skit on "The Tonight Show":


Hey, thanks to that YouTube user for uploading that video. But for God's sake, man, ADJUST THE DAMN TRACKING ON YOUR VCR!

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This is obviously not Strasburg's arm

The gods of baseball must not want baseball in Washington to succeed, ever. News outta D.C. today is that super scintillating sensational Stephen Strasburg, the rookie pitcher whose sheer dominance of batters wowed crowds and sold shirts with aplomb, will need Tommy John surgery. That means he'll miss the rest of 2010, probably all of 2011, and may never pitch again if the Mayans were right about that whole 2012 mumbo jumbo.

During a conference call with Nats GM Mike Rizzo, the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore learned that Strasburg had a second MRI on his throwing arm and it revealed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, the sexiest of arm ligaments. He'll seek a second opinion, but unless that opinion is rendered by Dr. Rob Dibble, chances are Strassy will go under the knife sooner rather than later.

Sad news, indeed. While I feel a sense of schadenfreude towards the franchise, I can't help but feel sadness for the Nats fans, for all fans of good baseball, and most importantly, for Strasburg. The sport needs more talented and charming young fellows like him.

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Hint: they don't like it. At least not on their home pitch...err....field. Yes, the world's most popular sport is coming back to Petco Park, only this time, it's in the midst of a pennant race.

"Asinine," closer Heath Bell said, and that was before he learned the pitcher's mound would be scraped off and rebuilt so the infield could be sodded for the Sept. 14 friendly between famed Mexican club Chivas of Guadalajara and its Major League Soccer spin-off, Chivas USA. Tickets for the "ChivaClasico" go on sale Saturday and start at $20.

"Let's see, they held a concert during Comic-Con and killed the grass in left (field)," Bell said. "OK, so let's go to a soccer match. We're in a pennant race. Much of the nation will probably be seeing us for the first time. Shouldn't we be trying to put our best foot forward?

"They're not worried about the field looking good. They're just trying to make a profit. Very interesting ... I'm sure Luke (Yoder) and his (grounds) crew will make it right, but we have the best pitching staff in the major leagues and that mound is our office. It should not be messed with at this time of the season."

The Padres, owners of the best record in the National League and the title of best team story in 2010, surely do not want to see their well-maintained grounds torn up just before the home stretch towards October begins. Coincidentally, it's the field they most want to preserve; if they keep the best league record on October 1st, they'll get home-field advantage.

Perhaps the players' concerns are not so much about the quality of the grounds but rather superstitious in nature. For years, the Padres shared a stadium with the Chargers and the grounds crew spent every September removing and rebuilding the mound to support two different sports. Heath Bell, citing a little bit of Dallas Braden-inspired territorial markings, just doesn't want to see his mound disappear and reappear. It'll mess with his mojo!

But soccer games can't possibly be as bad as the aforementioned Comic Con convention, where stages were dragged through the outfield and left burnt swaths of grass last month. I can only wonder if the same thing will happen in September at Yankee Stadium, when Jay-Z and Eminem will play two concerts in two nights. The stage for those shows is planned for center field and there is even going to be seating across the entire outfield. If you hear about Curtis Granderson tripping over strange plants growing in the left field gap in late September, don't be surprised.

(via the cool dudes at Gaslamp Ball)

Washerwife: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Astros at Philles, 1:05: I don't imagine many people have their eyes fully open at a 1 o'clock Thursday game in Philly. Like if you asked people what they had for breakfast 70% of respondents would say "beer" and the other 30% would say "weed." I love that town. Longest Tenured Astro Wandy Rodriguez takes on Kyle Kendrick as Houston goes for the HILARIOUS 4 game sweep.

  • Dodgers at Brewers, 2:10: The Dodgers got a broom but no one really cares anymore do they? It's ovah. This has been the lousiest season I can remember as a fan. Started okay then losses piled up and I had to pay way more attention to the loathesome owners then I ever cared to. Burn the whole thing down and start over, please. Thank God we still have Vin. Here's that awesome old Brewers song.



Via the Zell Pinstripes Blog comes this catty bleachers fight between two lovely young ladies, one of whom may have slept with the other one's boyfriend. Or not! Maybe that gal threw the icy, sudsy beer to cool down her friend and prevent heat stroke. I'm not Judge Judy, I don't know the real story.

If you haven't been watching this season of the basic cable reality cooking game show "Top Chef", based this season in Washington, D.C., then you haven't been watching a Washington D.C.-based reality cooking game show on basic cable. No worries, that's why I'm here with a DVR, an iPhone camera, and too much free time.

With the number of cheftestants on the show whittled down to a mere six, it was finally time for the producers to take the group to Nationals Park for an elimination challenge. Before a game this April, the six folks tested their mettle at perhaps the toughest test yet: cookin' up fine dining versions of ballpark food, 'vending' them before a Nationals game in a concession stand, and suffering the slings and arrows of the judges, including Padma Lakshmi looking completely out of place in a Nats jersey.

Lucky for Nats players Adam Dunn, John Lannan, and former Nat Matt Capps, they were able to taste all the culinary creations and do their best to render their opinions on the dishes. Unfortunately, Dunn has about as good a grasp on the English language as he does on playing outfield defense. The level of his critiques ranged from the adolescent jokes about risotto balls to the simpleton remarks about flavor. Effectively: "Yum, that tastes good" or "Eww, yucky".

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The highlight of the episode for Dunn and his cohorts, however, was the shot where Capps fed Adam. You can see in the photo above the results of the choo-choo train going into the tunnel. Yum-o, amirite? After the jump, I've tastefully arranged poorly-captured photographs of each of the six concessions. See if you can guess which dish won and which dish lost and tell me which of those foodstuffs you'd pay $8.50 for at a ballpark.

Tonight's Questions

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Seriously, people: AIDS. Tomorrow: same WoW channel.

To The Sad Moon: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Royals at Tigers, 1:05: Did I say a huge game with tons of implications? I met amputations. Detroit has taken the first two games of this series by a combined 21-4. They'll send Armando Galarraga to the mound against Sean O'Sullivan...SOS... how appropriate.

  • Mariners at Red Sox, 1:35: This is the first half of a double header and I'm almost positive it won't be played. The Monday night game was the only 3 hours it hasn't been raining since Sunday in Boston. I just saw an ark floating down the street with two kinds of every hipster, rich mom and Latin person. Jamaica Plain will renew itself! David Pauley and Josh Beckett "will" "start" the first game and King Felix and King Lester go in the second game.

  • Braves at Rockies, 3:10: Dude. Braves. DON'T GET SWEPT! I don't know if I can speak for the rest of the WoW Corporate Office but I've been pretty happy to see this Atlanta team leading the NL East for most of the year. But they've dropped two straight in Colorado. Luckily for them Philly has also lost two straight but that 2.5 game lead is pretty slim. After this they have the Marlins, a team they're only 5-4 against. Jair Jurrens takes on Esmil "Smile" Rogers.

  • >Rays at Angels, 3:35: Even though they lost 9 of 10 this year to Boston, the Angels continue to screw the Sox. They got pushed around by Tampa last night to lose two straight. The unrecognizable please send me back to the NL Danny Haren gets the start today. He's made 6 for LA so far, and the team has lost 5. He gave up 7 runs in his last start. Jon Niemann goes for Tampa.
  • Reds at Giants, 3:45: NOT a good series for the Cincinnati Redshrimp thus far. They've alllowed 27 runs in two games to a San Francisco team that hadn't scored double digits in back to back home games since 1973! SF is tied with the Phillies for the Wild Card and the Reds are still 2.5 up on STL but damn. This is embarrassing. Bailey v. Bumgarner. BUMGAAAAAAAARNER!!!

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As far as I can tell, the only real food allergy that I have is a mild case of lactose intolerance. No problem, though, I just need to take a pill before I devour a vanilla cone so I don't get a case of gas wicked enough to clear out the entire ice cream parlor. I'd be one sad tomato if I was born with the curse of peanut allergies, forced to spend my life avoiding Reeses Pieces and carrying epinephrine pens around with utmost vigilance.

Which is why I sympathize with young Cubs fans who cannot attend baseball games because their peanut allergies are so acute. Lucky for them, the Cubs are trying to change things up at Wrigley:

John Rudnicki is getting a special present for his eighth birthday: a trip to Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs game, complete with a seat in a skybox, hot dogs, lemonade ... and no peanuts. The Wilmette boy is so severely allergic to the nuts that he's been to Wrigley only once before, despite being a hard-core Cubs fan.

But on Monday, the Cubs for the first time are setting aside a skybox for fans in which peanuts won't be served or allowed.

For those with severe, life-threatening peanut allergies such as John, the news is as welcome as an Aramis Ramirez home run or a Carlos Marmol late-inning strikeout.

And, unfortunately, as rare.

Also unfortunate: this one, singular game that the Cubs have graciously set aside the nut-free box is a Monday night tilt against the lowly Pirates. Despite having the worst record in baseball, the Bucs are one of several teams the Cubs have struggled to beat in 2010, winning just three of twelve head-to-head contests. And after the dust settles (joke intended), I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a game between these two NL Central basement dwellers makes these kids allergic to baseball.

(photo stolen from Goruck Summer)

Dodgers owners Frank and Jaime McCourt hate each other with the fire of a thousand If only the McCourt divorce proceedings could go as smoothly as the Tiger Woods separation! But no, Frank had to go and forge documents that implied that in the case of a split, he'd retain ownership of the Dodgers and Jaime would retain ownership of her self-aggrandizing attitude. Jaime demanded that the document be thrown out and have the team considered partially hers, too.

Meanwhile, the team that has successfully made the playoffs for two years running sits in fourth place, a whopping twelve games behind the division-leading Padres. The McCourts made some deadline deals to shore up the starting rotation and bench but, in the end, they're nothing more than an aging .500 team with a crusty old manager teetering towards retirement. The trial to determine ownership of the team starts next Monday and will, undoubtedly, keep stunting the franchise's growth until the dust settles sometime around spring training in 2015.

So Dodgers fans have gotten together and done what every like-minded group of activists in America have done since time immemorial: started a website, sold some t-shirts, and put up a nifty roadside banner! Via the sassy real estate folk at Curbed LA comes this photographic evidence of the SellDodgers.com banner taken in Topanga which reads "Dodgers Fans Want a Divorce NOW!":

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Cute, but that's thirty to forty miles away from Dodger Stadium. I think those folks need to raise some more sheckels and buy themselves a huge billboard on the 101 leading into Chavez Ravine. Economies of scale, people! Go buy some t-shirts!

(we owe a case of Cherry Coke to #HEIST attendee The Starter Wife)

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I've been fined by Mother Nature

  • READY to see the Selig Statue? There. Thrilling.

  • A string ensemble? Really?

  • IS this really Rocco Baldelli's Twitter? I want to believe he likes Phish.

  • WHAT is a more compelling reason to watch the Cardinals/Pirates tonight: To see Adam Wainwright make a serious case for NL Cy Young over Roy Halladay or to see Albert Pujols' rather legitimate shot at a Triple Crown take shape. Couldn't have happened to a more self-righteous fan base!

  • AND will either of those things matter to the pious, custard guzzling fans of St. Lou if they finish behind the Reds?

  • CAN the Blue Jays improve to 7-4 against the Yankees?

  • WILL the rain allow the Mariners and Red Sox to play? Johnny Damon isn't going back to Boston. Okay, fine. Coulda been fun.

  • WILL American Airlines change their tune on charging extra for coach seats now that they've felt the wrath of Cruise Planners News? Don't miss 3:00 where Paul says he hopes to see plans for a new Chinese light rail service "come to tuition." <3<3<3
See your smiling faces tomorrow. Same WoW channel.
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Major League Baseball's current home run leader Jose Bautista (who is a total showboating showboater and, I guess, a Yankee killer now) spoke with Toronto's Globe and Mail to refute rumors that he was on the steroids:

"I haven't heard it once," Bautista responded evenly when asked for his reaction to the unfounded allegations. "Nobody's said anything to me, and I don't see why they should. Baseball has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you want to call them."

Bautista, who has already eclipsed his career high in homers with 40 this year because he's playing for a team that eschews any offensive skill set whatsoever except swinging for the damn fences, has avoided all the childish nonsense and name-calling in the Bleacher Reports and Big Leads of the blogosphere. Even accusations that claim to have some basis in fact are irritating. This is just pure, empty speculation about a player performing over his head as if the aberration was something nefarious. Bollocks!

But what sayeth David Pinto, prolific baseball blogger and consumer of Fribbles over at Baseball Musings?

I'm glad people are asking questions and wondering about this. Bautista's season should raise every red flag there is about PEDs. His career slugging percentage coming into this season was .400 in 1754 at bats. He's slugging .600 this season. Slugging percentage is a measure of distance around the bases per at bat, so he's increased that distance by 50%. Secondly, he's not a young player entering his prime, he's coming to the end of that prime. He's at the age that as an outfielder who is a poor hitter, he could easily lose his job as a major league player.

If I were running MLB drug testing, however, I'd spring a lot of random tests on him just to make sure.

Some heady finger-pointing in those sentences! Uh, I'm pretty sure that's not how the process works. "Springing" faux-random tests on selected players probably violates the collective bargaining agreement. Besides, the obvious reason Bautista is doing so well this season is that he stole Aaron Hill's 2009 mojo through some elaborate voodoo ritual.

UPDATE: As per sports injury expert Will Carroll, MLB does indeed have a provision that allows teams to accelerate testing on a dubious individual. Also, Bautista has probably been tested twice already this year.

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Good thing Rob Dibble has been doing tons of sweaty Bikram Yoga of late. Dummy needs to be super-flexible to allow his leg to swing so far upwards and insert his big dumb foot into his big fat mouth. "Doctor" Dibble now claims that Nats phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg's latest injury is merely a flesh wound and that Strassy's just a total sissy for not pitching through the pain.

After all, Dibble's teammates and Dibble himself have played through pain in their lives, why can't the kids these days do the same? Courtesy of the Bog's Dan Steinberg, the master of the Dibble transcription, here's just a tiny sampling of Rob Dibble's seemingly bottomless idiocy from yesterday's First Pitch show on MLB Network Radio (XM channel 175):

"I mean, excuse me. There's guys I played with that had screws holding their elbows together. Chris Sabo played two weeks on a broken ankle. I put a steel plate in my wrist so I could be back in five weeks instead of three months. So, this is your choice. You can either suck it up and be a man at 22 making $2 million a year [with] a $15 million contract, or every time you get an ache and pain you can go out of the game and say I'm gonna let down the other 24 guys right here and possibly end up forfeiting the game."

"What Mike Rizzo and Jim Riggleman do, that's totally different," Dibble said. "They have to think of the long-term ramifications of what they're doing right now with this kid's career. As far as this kid? Stop crying, go out there and pitch. Period."

You hear that, Stephen Strasburg? Rob Dibble wants you to stop crying and wincing in pain! Be more like Chris Sabo: play through injury but wear dorky protective goggles while doing so, I guess.

But for every "tough" guy who played through pain and succeeded, there are those who have had their careers stunted or halted by the mishandling of injuries. For every dopey Rob Dibble there is a sadsack Mark Prior. Just because Dibble (who never pitched more than 100 innings in a season and survived only half a season after age 30) was "successful" doesn't justify his idiotic behavior. Dibble's mistakes could have led to his own early retirement. So why does he encourage younger players to make behave in such a dangerous manner?

Steinz has so, so much more of Dibble's nonsensical remarks at the Bog. Do pop in for a visit. Just make sure you don't cry or wince in pain or Dibble will call you a mary.

It's Bud Selig Statue Day!

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Are kids in Milwaukee back in school yet? Well if they are GET EM OUT! Today is the unveiling of Commissioner For Life Bud Selig's statue outside of Miller Park. The statue is about 7 feet tall giving it the exact same size and mobility of Andrew Bogut. So how's our newly deified King Tut doing so far this season, anyway?

As the sorry steroid saga rounds into its new indict-y phase, MLB as an active league is managing to stay mostly out of the fray. Public hand wringing stays primarily focused on ex-players. No one says a damned thing about Alex Rodriguez or any of the other current guys who've been caught. And as we all saw yesterday, team revenue continues to be strong for even the little guys.

The two primary bugaboos are oldies. Length of games remains a problem, despite there being a renewed focus on taming it in the league office. Just the other day whilst covering a game I was peeking over an MLB official's shoulder as he critiqued the pace of the Blue Jays/Red Sox game. Without giving too much away... John Buck may want to hustle in and out of the dugout a little more quickly. Big Brother doesn't like your moseying.

Somewhat related to the game length issue is the increasing focus on umpires in the wake of instant replay debate and that whole Armando Galarraga thing. Their every move is being watched, critiqued and noted for posterity at each game as well. The league is doing its diligence when it comes to these issues, it's the action towards remedy that remains lacking.

In that way, Year 19 of El Jefe's reign is much the same as years one through eighteen. And that makes a giant bronze statue a truly perfect token of the man. I'm looking forward to nonchalantly putting a piece of gum on it.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey lids, stay on your jars.

  • HOW awesome is Vin Scully? At this point in my life, having seen the game as a fan and also in the clubhouse, he's just my very favorite dude. Check out the joke he made in yesterday's press conference saying he'd be returning in 2011.

  • WHO will be calling Manny Ramirez's home games> Looks like soon it won't be Vin anymore.

  • IS it raining everywhere on the East Coast or just here in New England? Either way only the Red Sox (FISTER LACKEY) are likely to be affected in the AL East/AL Wild Card. New York is in Toronto and the Rays are in sunny Anaheim.

  • WILL the Braves lose anymore ground to the Phillies? Not likely with Tim Hudson on the hill. Possible since the Phillies take on a Houston team they swept in their only earlier series, but not likely. Hudson is on fire.

  • HOW crazy is that thing about the miners in Chile? MUCHO CRAZY.
Thank you and goodnight. We're the Walkoff Walkers and we'll be here forever. Including tomorrow. Same WoW channel. You too, Dead Western.

The Tao of Sabean

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brian_sabean.jpgDespite my desperate pleas and their own best efforts, the San Francisco Giants are still in the race for the National League Wild Card. Sitting just twos game behind the Phillies and nominally tied with the Cardinals, the Giants have a legit shot1 at sneaking into the playoffs.

That would be the thought process of a rational man, anyway. The Go Go Padres are light years away in the division, sitting six games up without showing any hints at falter. The Giants, like most teams, will pay lip service to the division title being the "real goal" but scooping the Bud Bowl must be their true focus.

Turns out San Francisco has an odd definition of lip service. Instead of worrying less about the Padres, the Giants decided to worry MORE about the Padres. So much worry, in fact, that they entered a waiver claim on Marlins outfielder Cody Ross to keep the Fathers from claiming him to replace injured starter Thin Tony Gwynn.

Whoops, turns out the Marlins are more than happy to let Ross walk, considering he enters his final year of arbitration in 2011. That pay day should top the $6 million dollar mark, a number the Giants get to chew on while deciding what to do with the small army of popless outfielders currently on their 25 man roster.

Perhaps the Giants are preparing for a post-Huff reality and loading themselves up with options. Or, more likely, Brian Sabean gropes around in desperation while his team seemingly excels in spite of his interference. The wacky machinations of the Giants front office continues to confound their fans and Giants watchers alike. With Aaron Rowand's unwieldy contract on the books for two more years, the Giants better get creative in a hurry. I hear a good, old-fashioned San Francisco Lip Service really gets the juices flowing.

1 - I don't really think they have a legitimate shot. The returns of Utley and Howard might be enough to secure the division, let alone the Wild Card.

Sabean image courtesy of Silicon Angle dot com.

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Put your green visors on and pull out the adding machine, folks. The Pittsburgh Pirates' financial statements have been leaked to the media, and they ain't pretty. Wait a minute, the miserable, basement-dwelling Pirates are making millions in profits?!? Nix that: the financial statements are quite pretty after all!

So the big revelation in the documents, as analyzed brilliantly by Maury Brown at Biz of Baseball, is that team owner Bob Coonelly Nutting and his fellow shareholders made approximately $15 million in profits in both 2007 and 2008, instead of the $5 million or so that Coonelly Nutting had earlier admitted. Although that is a significant difference in funds, that $10 million is not the difference between an eighteenth consecutive year of losing or an empty 82-80 record and third place finish.

What would critics rather have the Pirates do? Spend that extra $10 million on the team on a crummy pool of free agents like Russell Branyan and Randy Wolf? The Pirates would have struggled to win a handful of extra games! Would Pirates fans sleep better if the team behaved more like the Mets, who mortgage the future, overspend in the present, have their owner's finances tied up in a pyramid scheme, and STILL put out a losing product?

Instead, the Pirates have recently spent over $20 million a year on player development, a higher rate than some wealthier teams. General manager Neal Huntington is building a team from the ground up; he's opted to start from scratch because of what he inherited from his predecessors. And remember, Huntington has yet to celebrate his third anniversary of getting the job, so we can't really evaluate his reign of terror over PNC Park for a couple of years.

Losing sucks, we get it. But MLB owners are rational businesspeople, owning franchises in the single most financially successful sport in the history of humanity. They are running businesses, not gambling on the win-loss record of their team! Sure, winning teams make money in baseball but losing teams make money, too, because the MLB owners got together and decided to share their revenue with one another to preserve the competitive balance in the sport.

Yes, there is competitive balance in the sport. That's what allowed the Rays to win a pennant on a budget payroll and that's what will allow the Pirates to contend for a pennant in the next couple years, thanks to following the Rays model of buying low and selling high. The Pirates didn't spend 18 straight years losing because they didn't pay for players; the team was driven into the dumpsters by some bad luck and some piss-poor management of personnel. Huntington is spending a ton of cash in the amateur draft and on international signings now; it's a gamble to spend so much on prospects but still a helluva lot cheaper and smarter than dropping $37 million on a free agent closer.

Full disclosure: I am not a true lifelong Pirates fan, I'm just getting my ass on board the bandwagon as early as possible. The organization may not win a pennant under its current regime but I guarantee this much: the generation-long Pirates string of losing seasons will end before the Mayan calendar expires in 2012 and the entire world gets sucked into the Sun, mark my words.

Weekend Questions

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Hey, kids don't let it get dicey.

  • WHO on earth would destroy a Jackie Robinson statue? And WHY were Nats officials trying to cover it up? This is a pretty egregious crime and depending on the circumstances is a borderline hate crime. Can we find the idiot Nats fan that did this, please? We'll only have to interview like 20 people.

  • DOES Carlos Beltran owning a restaurant make you more or less likely to eat there? He joined up because he loved the place, yet is immediately talking about changing the menu. What could possibly go wrong?

  • WHAT is the most consequential series of the weekend? I'm going with with Giants at Cards. Respecitvely they're 1 and 2 games behind the Phillies for the wild card, and tomorrow's matchup is Linecum/Carpenter.

  • DO you always want gum whenever you hear Tie Your Mother Down? Vigorsol!

  • WILL the Rays and Yankees flip flop in the standings again? New York has the Mariners in town and Tampa is still in Oakland where they lost last night.
Have a good weekend, my people. Go forth and see sports or shows or both. Stay vigilant. Until later, same WoW channel.

Tyson Gillies, a prospect in the Phillies farm system, has been arrested in Pinellas County, Florida for cocaine possession. Gillies was part of the Cliff Lee deal with the Mariners; file this as yet another reason there was no good reason for Ruben Amaro to make that trade.

Gillies was released on $2,000 bail and now faces the shame of never having listened to Mike Schmidt:


Joke stolen from the inimitable ArkansasFred

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Timing, they say, is everything, especially in the semi-hilarious baseball blogosphere. Which is why the appearance of two noteworthy news items about gambling at the Baseball Think Factory's Baseball Primer Newsblog today gave me a frisson of delight.

First, Las Vegas mayor-for-life Oscar Goodman leaked a story that his city has been designated an American League city and that talks about building a covered baseball stadium are "serious". Then I see that our old pal John Fay is reporting that the Reds have been given clearance by MLB to honor Pete Rose at a game on the 25th anniversary of Rose breaking Ty Cobb's hit record. What a coincidence!

Whether a team in Las Vegas would come as a result of expansion or relocating a desperate-to-move franchise (cough cough Athletics), the idea of a professional American sport in a town built on the lost paychecks of doughy suckers is a bit unsettling. It's a gambling city! Tie in the fact that the corporate decision makers at MLB are warming on bringing convicted and admitted gambler Pete Rose back into the fold and I smell a trend.

Think about it: with slot parlors, OTB dives, Indian casinos, and Mississippi River gambling boats popping up everywhere, the U-S-of-A is caving in to the cravings of people who desperately want to throw their money away. Gambling in all forms is being legalized at a fast rate in states that are running out of revenue.

So it's no surprise that our national pastime is reconsidering associating itself with Sin City. The greater Las Vegas metropolitan area is the sixth fastest-growing area in the country and has entered the top 30 overall as of 2009. It's a bigger market than Milwaukee and, within 10 years, could be bigger than Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Cincinnati.

Still, I dismissed Vegas as being too small when I ranked the top ten most likely destinations for expansion, and thinking about the town in the Xtreme Depression, there's just not going to be any public money for a stadium. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country, the town is broke, so it's going to take a wealthy group of investors to build a new park.

And the only rich folk in Vegas are casino folk. So perhaps the MLB ownership cabal is going to have to warm up to letting casino owners run a baseball team before Vegas ever gets a big league team. Maybe they can hire Pete Rose as a consultant. And, even juicier, as a manager.

Robert Urich Had Excellent Control - 1979

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Yeah, so this is a pretty loose definition of "baseball video" but screw it. Here are the three reasons why I posted it:

1. Classic TV Friday Doesn't play by your rules.

B. Robert Urich went to Florida State.

iii. You get to see Daisy Duke dropped in a dunk tank.

Deal with it. Watch it. Wish you were born 30 years earlier. Please to enjoy.

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Say, remember last week when the staid, spoiled-by-success Cardinals were in the middle of putting a royal hurting on the upstart darlings in the NL Central, the lovable Reds? After St. Louis swept Cincy in a three game set on the road, the Cards regained first place and all seemed on script again. Ho-hum. Behind the front-line pitching of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, hearts and minds across the editorial offices of Walkoff Walk thought that the Cards would retain ownership of the division; this would be the nail in the coffin for the Reds 2010 playoff chances.

But rise up, my Dusty Baker acolytes, for lo the winter has passed! (in just a week, too). The Cards have dropped four in a row to the lowly Brewers and lowlier Cubs while the Reds have resurged with five in a row over the Marlins and Diamondbacks. Head-to-head losses mean nothing, I suppose, when two division rivals part ways and one decides to make an ill-advised trade. Now, the Reds have a palpable three game lead over St. Lou and the Reds ownership cabal has decided to reward the toothpick-chewing face of the franchise with a possible multi-year extension.

As per Sam's Choice jeans model John Fay:

The Reds have offered Dusty Baker a contract extension.

"We just got the proposal a few days ago," Baker said. "We're still evaluating it."

Baker wouldn't say if it's a one-year or multi-year extension.

"I've got to look at where were going," he said, "and what I want to do."

Well hot shit, we're in the third and final year of Dusty's contract and how convenient for him, the Reds are finally posting a winning record! The good timing means that Dusty (and his other multiple personalities) can cash in on success. Is it Dusty's convivial, players-first leadership skills that have made the difference between this year's model and its previous, piss-poor incarnations? Is it general manager Walt Jocketty's commitment to young talent? Is it Joey Votto's magic Canadian heritage? Who knows! The Reds are darn good.

Back to Dusty: he may not have any discernible skills when it comes to X's and O's, but really, does ANY baseball manager have those? We as fans and analysts should just be happy when a guy does no harm in his manager pants, and kudos to New Dusty, who seemingly hasn't killed any careers yet. So we salute Dusty Baker and encourage him to seize the extension, if only so we have a perennial reason to talk about the Redlegs. And toothpicks.

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  • Tigers at Yanks, 1:05: Hoooowhee. Expect some fireworks today. Miguel Cabrera got beaned, Brett Gardner tried to break up a DP with what the Tigers called a dirty slide but Detroit didn't do all that much in the way of retaliation. But postgame Jim Leyland muttered some trademark profanities and today could be, in the words of Warner Wolf, AN ALL OUT WAR. Porcello v. Hughes.

  • Nats at Braves, 1:05: How healthy is new Braves acquisition Derrek Lee? So healthy that he won't be with the team today. He's resting his back and is just going to wait until the Braves swing through Chicago and pick him up. "Honey, the Braves are in the driveway honking!" Anyway, it's John Lannan v. Derek Lowe with a broom.

  • Padres at Cubs, 2:20: One time years ago, I saw Against Me! at Common Grounds in Gainesville. During the show the girl in front of me squatted and peed in her beer cup. Then she threw it at the band. I wonder if she ever goes to Cubs games? San Diego goes for the 4 game sweep with Mat Latos on the mound. He went to my high school. Carlos "Tons Of Fun" Zambrano goes for the Pisscups.

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The astute hirsute Mariners blogosphere had a lot of fun with Mike "Hugs" Sweeney's role as the Mariners designated white-guy hugger over the past few years. Sure, he was hurt often and produced marginally at best; but once that big bear got his claws on ya, it was all over but the crying.

Fast-forward to this stretch drive, the Phillies found themselves down one large first baseman. Ruben Amaro sought out the best replacement for Ryan Howard he could: Mike Sweeney, Designated Hugger.

You could point to his tidy .624 OPS as a Phillie and say "Mike Sweeney has done close to nothing of substance since moving east." To you I say: bull roar.

Look at the smile on that man's face. Look at the joy as he lives out Meech's dream by embracing Dom Brown after Brown's moonshot dislodged a piece of the International Space Station. You can talk all you want, you can't put a price on joy.

Thanks to Gameday for being so lovable and screenshotable.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, currency.


That's it for us today. Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson are also pitching tonight, so there's that. Robot Frempkins loves you and just wants you to be happy. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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The NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, lacking a strong presence at first base since Troy Glaus decided to return back down to earth and stop hitting sometime around July, are on the verge of acquiring veteran first baseman Derrek Lee from the Cubs in a trade, so sayeth USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Lee, a former Gold Glove winner, has hit for some power this season but has been on the verge of the creampuff list of late. He has a bulging disk in his back (ouch!) and received an epidural shot just this week, after which he missed three straight games. Sounds like one of his kids stepped on a crack, amirite?

Lee has said that he always wanted to play under Bobby Cox, and, with the Braves skipper retiring at the end of this season, it's his last chance. It's all of our last chances, actually, so if any of you want a chance to play under Bobby Cox, give Frank Wren a phone call ASAP. Otherwise you'll be stuck playing croquet on the front lawn of Shady Acres Retirement Home with Bobby next year.

Glaus will either ride the pine or hit the DL, and not move back to third base to take over for an injured Chipper Jones. Fella's knees just won't allow it. Plus Martin Prado and Omar Infante are All Stars, so there.

Sometimes you just have to stare in disbelief and copy the embed tag. Artmorphs, the YouTube user who brought you All Time Lakers Centers ArtMorph, is back with his own patented brand of racial profiling, creepy God complex and cheesy synth music. Today's test cadavers are Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuko, Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matzusaka. I'd say "Please To Enjoy" but by the time you get to the (SPOILER ALERT) animation at the end, enjoying all of this becomes kind of difficult. Just try and keep it together, man.

Not To Keep: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Rangers at Rays, 1:10: Rays have made it look easy against the West leaders, scoring 16 runs in taking the first two games of the series. Derek Holland will try to block the broom closet for the Rangers and James Shields goes for Tampa. The Rangers tagged him for 10 hits and 6 runs in their last matchup.

  • Brewers at Cardinals, 2:20: Milwaukee took the first game of the series and St. Louis is now 2 games back of the Reds. Luckily for the Cards it's Adam Wainwright's turn in the rotation. Were he not in the same league as a certain Roy Halladay, he'd be getting quite a bit of Cy Young consideration. He's riding a 16 inning scoreless streak and has only given up 1 run in his last 22. His last start against Milwaukee was a 1 run CG. Cards will have to really try to lose their 4th straight. Randy Wolf "Band" for The Beers.

  • Padres at Cubs, 2:20: A three game win streak has extended San Diego's lead in the West to 5 games. The Cubs are so bad that USA Today put down the Infographs for a second and dedicated a whole column to theories on their sustained awfulness. The Pads start Clayton Richard and the Cubs start Casey Coleman, a man who hasn't pitched more than 3 innings in a game all season. Let's just go ahead and make that 4 straight for San Diego.

  • Jays at A's, 3:30: Rzepczynski vs. Gonzalez with rubber. Yes, have some.

Jose Canseco Run From Home; Hits Home Run

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It was another rollercoaster week in the life of former MVP and human punching bag Jose Canseco. First off, Hose had been renting a place in LA. It was just a little love nest, a launching pad for an impending career in showbusiness, perhaps. A place to while away the hours until his ship came in. Well, it appears that ship took too long cause Hose skipped two months rent and got evicted. Oof.

It's quite a fall from Sports Hero to Good Times Episode, but if there's one sure way for our man to get back on his feet, it's by hitting some dingers! Hose signed on with with the Laredo Broncos of the independent league. It was a pretty humdrum run of the mill minor league publicity stunt until last night, when Hose hit a tater tot!

  • Jose Canseco, who just signed an independent minor league contract with the Laredo Broncos of the the United League, homered in his debut on Monday night.

    Although Canseco did not start, he pinch-hit in the sixth inning and smacked the third pitch of the at-bat to left-center field.

    "My first step was getting back into the game, in whatever way, shape and form," said the 46-year-old. "I don't know how I'll perform physically, since I'm 46 and haven't played at this level in a long time. We'll see what happens."

    Oh don't be soy coy, Hose. You know you'd go boom. How'd you like to be the guy that gave up that ding dong? He's even more pathetic than the next person who rents Canseco an apartment. Or writes yet another blog post about him. Wait a second.

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    Adding injury to idiocy, it seems that Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez broke his thumb in the midst of walloping his father-in-law during a clubhouse confrontation. He had surgery yesterday and his season, along with that of the sub-.500 Mets, is presumably doneskis. The team, seemingly in a snit, announced that they would not pay K-Rod while he recovered from his injury and will not guarantee the remainder of his deal.

    But the Mets have already punished Frankie Rodriguez for his little fracas with his chick's dad. They suspended him for two games, surely a small punishment for an alleged crime that was allegedly witnessed by many people. To take further action and dock the guy's paycheck because, oops, he broke his thumb in the melee is punishing Frankie twice (and a bit excessively) for one crime!

    Rodriguez' contract, no matter how bloated it is and how irresponsible the Mets were to pay a guy who throws 75 innings a year that much dough, is guaranteed. Such is the nature of baseball deals. What the Mets are trying to do is dig into the rulebooks and legalese to void the remainder of his 2010 money and his entire 2011 deal. Perhaps it's an effort by owner Fred Wilpon to correct one of his own huge mistakes, sort of a clearing of the slate. Hey, we're overpaying this guy but we can void his contract because he got hurt beating up a middle-aged man! Let's do it, he seems to be thinking.

    But the players union will be having having none of this, no sir! New union head Michael Weiner is going to file a grievance tout de suite, and they'll probably win. Perhaps, in the future, the Mets should do a full psychological evaluation of any free agents they sign. If something seems amiss, they can put in a "void the contract if you punch a family member" clause. Otherwise, the team has gotta pay up.

    I don't know how I feel about the entire situation. I dislike Fred Wilpon and I dislike the Mets so my opinions on them are always biased, and I think what K-Rod allegedly did is quite despicable. Still, what the Mets are trying to do here just doesn't sound very kosher.

    UPDATE: Via Jonah Keri, here's someone that disagrees with me.

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    This MLB draft news calls for Money Baby: noted cheapskate Frank McCourt spent some cash! And not just a pittance, either. McCourt's Dodgers gave first round pick Zach Lee a five million dollar signing bonus, a team record. The imposing righthander made more than twice as much as bonus baby Clayton Kershaw did just four years ago.

    But really, why is this big news? Take it away, Dilbeck:

    Most teams considered Lee unsignable after the dual-sport star expressed interest in playing quarterback at Louisiana State. Lee reported to LSU and had been in camp with the football team.

    When reports circulated it would take $5 million to sign the right-handed pitcher, teams backed off and the 6-foot-4 Lee fell to the Dodgers with the 28th pick.

    Many suspected the Dodgers selected Lee because they had no intention of actually spending first-round money on a draft pick while owners Frank and Jamie McCourt were going through their mega divorce.

    True, many did suspect that nefarious idea, including your faithful McCourt-hating blogger. So I must apologize in this case: Frank McCourt is a hero for throwing his hard-earned dollars at this young star-in-the-making and saving him from the violent, ugly, and irrational sport of college football. Crowning a champion based on the whims of sportswriters and tortilla chip companies? That's just silly!

    But at least McCourt saved LSU football coach Les Miles from making a tough decision on his QB depth chart. Just pick the guy who's still there, amirite? Shame that McCourt couldn't save Miles from making ill-fated predictions back in June. Oh well. Forget it, Les. It's Baton Rouge.



    Via The Brothers Mottram comes this trailer for the upcoming motion picture oddly titled How Do You Know?, starring Owen Wilson as a Nationals relief pitcher and, somewhat more bizarrely, Reese Witherspoon as a professional softball player.

    If you think that title is a stinker, the studio actually changed it from Everything You've Got, another phrase I don't want to speak aloud at a movie theater box office. Director James L. Brooks may make cinematic magic from time to time, but consider the list of his recent output: Spanglish. As Good As It Gets. I'll Do Anything. Would it kill him to get a little descriptive in the naming of these films?

    Still, I'll gladly see this movie before I ever see Marley & Me, that awful Owen Wilson movie where he sacrifices a golden retriever in the middle of a Marlins game.

    phanatic.statue.jpgThe San Francisco Giants roll into Philadelphia for the exact kind of series1 Bud Selig imagined when he dreamed up the Wild Card. What would ordinarily be a snoozy trip east for the Giants is instead a Very Meaning Series! The Phils and Giants will battle for the chance to make an early playoff exit at either the hands of the unstoppable Padres killing machine or Dusty's Old-Timey Street-Fighting Funky Bunch.

    The Phillies come in as one of the hottest teams in the National League, winners of 15 of their last 20. Things can only improve with best player and all-world cyborg Chase Utley returning to the lineup this week after an extended stay on the deel. Though Ryan Howard is still a ways from returning, the reintroduction of Utley can only help a surging team.

    The Giants made their own lineup addition this week, picking up misanthropic outfielder Jose Guillen and quickly installing him as the everyday right fielder. Somehow I don't think they'll have the same impact. The Giants built on last season's surprise success with a strange cast of misfits and scrap heap finds; each one more bizarre than the last.

    Which is why the Phillies must send a clear message to the Giants during this pivotal series: this doesn't work. Build your core, don't attempt to mirror the outcast archetype of the city you play in. Defense matters, not playing two of Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, and Jose Guillen in the same outfield at the same time while Past a Diving Sandoval mans the hot corner. (To his credit, Huff provides decent defense in left and at first base.)

    Convivial bath-bros as they might be, the Giants fear of youth is troubling. Even their young guys are old! Upstart career minor leaguer Andres Torres is leading the Giants charge with a career season at the ripe old age of 32, with nearly 75% of his career at bats coming in the last two years.

    The Giants need to do better by their strong pitching staff by building a sustainable future around them. The Phillies must slap the retread-loving wrist of Brian Sabean lest his team of weirdos lurch into the playoffs. The non-stop parade of faded stars by the bay will never end! The Kung Fu Panda will be unceremoniously shipped out of town in exchange for the corpse of Edwin Encarnacion. The Giants will sign Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa, and Aaron Rowand to long-term contractUh, whoops. Nevermind.

    1 - This is not in any way what Bud had in mind. They don't charge double for the teevee rights in August, do they?

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    Giants slugger Aubrey Huff hasn't always been a topless lady lovin', all-around affable guy and total prankster. Nope, it took an intervention from a "dripping wet, buck naked" Pat Burrell back when they were teammates at the University of Miami to bust Huff out of his shell.

    Here's Andrew Baggarly reporting for the San Jose Mercury News

    "After two weeks at Miami, I wanted to go home," Huff said. "So my mom flies out, trying to convince me to stay. I was living with two seniors and they ragged me, too. I just didn't understand all this baseball ragging nonsense. She's in my room one night and I'm sitting on my bed and she's telling me to give it another two weeks.

    "Anyway, there's a knock on the door, and before I can even get off the bed, Pat comes barging in with a six-pack in his hand, dripping wet, buck naked.

    "So I jumped up and shut the door. Coming from Texas, these things didn't happen. I said, 'See what I'm dealing with here, mom?'

    "She just started laughing and said, 'Actually, Aubrey, that's pretty darn funny.'

    "I thought, 'My God, if my mom can laugh at this, why can't I?' "

    Wow, that sounds like something Pat O'Brien would be into! "You, me, Betsy, my mom, a six pack, we'll go crazy!"

    That nude, wet encounter changed Aubrey Huff for life. To wit:

    Back in spring training, he couldn't stop staring at teammate Nate Schierholtz's washboard abs.

    I wonder if his abs tapered down to a sexy "V" shape! No wonder Huff is always self-pleasuring on the road.

    (we owe a sixer of Coke Zero to the cats at Baseball Think Factory)

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, trying to look small is the hardest of them all.

    • WHAT is the pitching matchup of the night? Duh, it's Cliff Lee vs. David Price in what also happens to be the series of the week. I think I speak for the whole WoW editorial staff when I say "Go Rangers."

    • WHY does the dude in that video get knocked down by a fly ball? Who is he, Jacoby Ellsbury?

    • CAN the Dodgers salvage the four game split in Atlanta or will they fall to just a single game over .500? Wha happund?

    Peel Slowey And See (With Bonus Concert Review)

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    Kevin Slowey got yankered after 7 innings of no hit ball on Sunday. Predictably, everyone booed. Who doesn't want the chance to hold onto a no-hit ticket stub? But the Twins had bigger concerns for Slowey who had thrown 106 pitches after missing his last start with elbow soreness. Jovial, Busch swilling lawn gnome Ron Gardenhire sympathized with the disappointed fans. For a second.

    "I'd be booing, too," Gardenhire said. "I want to see a no-hitter myself, but I also know that I'm responsible for this young man's arm, and we were going to protect him no matter what."

    Clearly the right decision was made, which is a little bit surprising. But what's really surprising is that everyone is agreeing on it. Even the fans in a newspaper poll are overwhelmingly in favor of the move. There is no surer way for a baseball fan (or writer) to lose all touch with common sense than to introduce the HISTORY bugaboo into the equation. Perhaps they watched the game and noticed he didn't exacly have devastating stuff. Maybe with the rash of no hitters this season, people are just more laissez-faire about the whole thing. Who knows. In any case, a pitchers' health was put before a milestone and no one complained about it or raged against pitch counts. Happy Day.

    In somewhat related news I checked in with The Baseball Project over the weekend at Wilco's Solid Sound festival and am happy to report that their song "Harvey Haddix" has been updated. The song lists every pitcher to throw a perfect game in its chorus and includes all of the 2010 gems INCLUDING Armando Gallaraga's ump smudged one. Also whenenver they sing Jim Bunning's name it is promptly followed by the word "asshole." Co-Leader Steve Wynn told me how much he hated having to have Bunning in one of his tunes. We feel you, man. New record out later in the year, do go see them.

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    A mensch-y judge in Brooklyn has temporarily ordered the Mets to quit meddling in religious rules while a lawsuit brought by one of the vendors at CitiField is still pending in federal court.

    "I cannot get involved in (a dispute) over rabbinical law," Brooklyn Judge Jack Weinstein said with a smile during a hearing Friday.

    Kosher Sports, which has a 10-year contract to sell franks and other good at the stadium, sued the Mets after being told they couldn't operate on Friday nights and Saturdays.

    The Mets say the company can't be kosher if they're operating during the Sabbath, when many religious Jews don't work.

    Not sure what the Mets' angle is here; perhaps some of their customers were complaining that a catering company that claims to keep kosher was vending their noshes during the Sabbath observation. But since Kosher Sports sells wieners to both Jews and goyim alike, Judge Weinstein is allowing them to continue peddling their kosher cuisine until the dispute is resolved.

    There's nothing quite like a foot-long kosher hot dog slathered with brown mustard and tangy sauerkraut at a baseball game. Why team owner Fred Wilpon and Aramark, the gigantic food service conglomerate with control over all foodstuffs at Citi Field, need to put the kibosh on kosher goodies, I have no idea.

    Perhaps the Mets should stop worrying about folks just trying to get by selling knishes and be a little more interested in their employees who seemingly don't work on weekends: the team's offense scored but two runs in this weekend's series loss to the rival Phillies. Whatta bunch of shmendriks.

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    Under fire from points all over the baseball mediasphere, baseball commentator and accused misogynist Rob Dibble took to his personal blog at MASN Sports in an attempt to clear up his good name. Dibble, who accused a couple of female fans of yapping about shopping while he provided 'color commentary' for a recent Nats game, did his best to explain how he really feels about the ladies.

    I'm not sure why Dibble needs to tell us that his mother, wife, and daughter (who, bizarrely, still wears a Coco Crisp Red Sox jersey) like the sport and are knowledgeable about the sport. How does that pertain here? It's like someone being accused of racism mentioning that he's got black friends.

    Before Dibble even begins to apologize, he spouts off about how wonderful the sport of baseball is. Great, Rob, I agree! Baseball does transcend race, sex, and economic status! Then how does Dibble think he can encourage new fans to appreciate the sport when he spends five minutes insulting half of the audience? Dibble must have known he was wrong at the time, too, because his partner, Bob Carpenter, warned him to tread carefully.

    Buried at the end of Dibble's staccato musings is his feeble attempt at an apology:

    The other night I made an off-handed comment, the meaning of which may have been misconstrued beyond what was said. If any fan of this great game took offense, then he or she should know that this was neither my intention nor my history in the game.

    Translated: Rob Dibble is sorry that you didn't get his joke and, if you took offense, you're just wrong. This is not an apology. This is a man who refuses to admit that what he said was offensive and made it seem that every woman who attended a baseball game and dared to talk was merely a chatty hausfrau. This is a man hiding behind the "greatness of baseball" when he knows that he prejudged people based on gender.

    People with attitude's like Dibble's are the reason that there are so few women executives in the game, why there are so few women general managers, why there are so few women umpires, and heck, why there are approximately zero professional female baseball players. Instead, girls are forced to play a bastardized modified version of the sport at a young age and never really given the chance to succeed in a sport that they are more than capable of playing.

    But I'm going off an a tangent. Rob Dibble may not specifically be the problem in the arena of women in baseball. I still think Dibble need not be fired for one offhanded, misogynistic remark, but rather for his hard-headed, dumb jock demeanor and his refusal to admit that folks who never played baseball can still speak intelligently about it. He's got a backwards way of looking at the game, and his anti-female comments are merely one bit of evidence of his bad attitude.

    Weekend Questions

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    • DO you want to read a guest piece I did at Looking Glass Magazine? Of course you do.

    • ANOTHER weekend, another Mets-Phillies series? I got my popcorn ready.

    • WHICH cuisine will reign supreme when Northern California and Southern California square off for the NL West this weekend? The Padres pack up their fish tacos to head up I-5 and challenge the Giants and their cha cha bowls at AT&T Park.

    • SOMEWHAT RELATED, isn't it cute that Napa and Huntington Beach are tussling in the regional semis for the right to represent California in the Little League World Series? Their game is on ESPN2 at 5PM today.

    The week has ended which means we release you from your shackles and you can go run and play. Be back here Monday. Same WoW channel.

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    News out of the Twitterverse has Royals outfielder/DH Jose Guillen on a plane towards the West Coast, where he'll join up with his new team, the second place San Francisco Giants. The Giants will send the Royals some cash and a player to be named later, but really, they could send a polite thank-you note and the Royals would be totally cool just to have Guillen out of their sights. He's not a very nice person.

    This move leaves the Giants with at least 37 designated hitters on their 40-man-roster, a pretty high number for a National League team. But I'm sure their weekend opponent, the first place Padres, will smile when they witness an outfield with Guillen and Pat Burrell manning the corners. With Aubrey Huff at first and Pablo Sandoval at third, it's almost as if San Fran is praying their opponents hit every ball up the middle.



    Kris is on vacation today so it's my big chance to do some lazyblogging and dip into the great video treasure trove of retro baseball clips on the YouTubes. I closed my eyes, reached in, and pulled out user gregnugget's home movies from the Mets home opener way back when in 1980, when the Mets had a scrappy new owner by the name of Freddy Wilpon. Imagine that thirty years ago, parking at Shea Stadium was just $2.50 per game, and $1.25 if you got in before 11AM.

    Look closely and you'll see Mets manager Joe Torre accept a good luck wreath from Bill Shea, the man most responsible for bringing National League baseball back to New York City almost 20 years earlier. Look even closer and you'll see some greaseball from Ronkonkoma pass out from drinking too much Meister Brau in the bleachers.

    Fire Rob Dibble

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    Rob Dibble, who has been a target of our derision several times around here, is a misogynist. Via Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Bog, here's some of Dibble's blathering nonsense from Wednesday night's Nats game:

    "Those ladies right behind there, they haven't stopped talking the whole game," Rob Dibble said in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's Nats broadcast. "They have some conversation going on. Right here," he said, circling the offenders. "There must be a sale tomorrow going on here or something....Their husbands are going man, don't bring your wife next time."

    Get it? It's funny because women don't like sports, and so when they accidentally wind up at a baseball stadium and deign to open their mouths, they have to be talking about something that women are interested in. Like sales. Probably on clothes or shoes or maybe makeup, though that wasn't specified.

    "All right Bob, now they're back there, they're eating ice cream and talking at the same time," Dibble noted in the top of the eighth.

    There's more, much more, far too much more at the Bog so head over and get your fill of misogyny. But come back here when you're done. We'll wait.

    Dibble committed the sin of rending his opinion of someone without knowing all the facts. Sure, these gals could have been a couple of chatty hausfraus yapping about "Jersey Shore" but they could also have been discussing Adam Dunn's defensive liabilities. Dibble didn't know. He just doesn't like women at the ballpark.

    But while that auditory nonsense is offensive enough to warrant censure from womens groups everywhere, it's his inability to actually speak intelligently about baseball that is why folks want him off the Nats broadcasts. Dan Steinberg knows that Rob Dibble has no grasp of the strike zone. GQ Magazine rated Dibs as one of the five worst broadcasters in the sport. And Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment knew the score back in April when he FJM'ed a horribly "written" blogpost by Dibs.

    Rob Dibble is both aggressive and stupid, a bad combination for someone whose job description includes educating the viewer about the sport. He's arrogant and seemingly proud of his ignorance when it comes to statistical analysis. Dibble's disdain for stats is evident every time he praises a team for succeeding due to "chemistry". He's an "old school" guy without the charm; he's a homer without a successful team to cheerlead.

    Lucky for me, the only time I am exposed to Dibble's hardheadedness is when the MLB Network cuts into a MASN broadcast. For my friends in the DMV, though, who just want to watch Stephen Strasburg light up the night on their teevees, the mute button must be their only source of comfort.

    UPDATE: Even Orioles bloggers are shaming Rob Dibble.

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    Onetime Walkoff Walk interviewee, frequent Walkoff Walk contributor, avid hunter, sometime prankster, and, oh yes, one of the greatest third baseman to ever play the sport Chipper Jones has an ouchie in his knee-spot. Take it away, Atlanta Journal Constitution substitute blogger Carroll Rogers:

    An MRI showed Jones has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, his agent BB Abbott said Thursday morning. Abbott said he received a text message from Jones, saying the ligament was torn. Jones had been examined by Dr. Marvin Royster, Braves orthopedist who read the MRI.

    "He said it was stretched out pretty bad," Abbott said. "That it was torn and needed to be fixed."

    No word yet as to whether Jones will have season-ending knee surgery because he's going to seek a second opinion right away. Yeah, I'm no doctor but I'm pretty sure when the doctor takes a magnetic image of the inside of your knee and all you see is what appears to be frayed knots, stale jerky and tobacco juice, I think you're going to need someone to fix that with medical science. It's just like 1994 when Chipper tore the same ACL in the same knee and required the same surgery, killing what would have been his rookie season.

    Chipper was planning on retiring at the end of the 2010 season; if he sticks to that idea, we, as baseball fans, may have seen the last of a guy who rivals HOFer Eddie Mathews as the greatest infielder in Braves history. Say it ain't so! Jones was in the middle of a down season for him but an above average season for a corner infielder in his late 30s. He was a veteran dude leading a first place team towards their first division title in five years and he won't be happy cheerleading from the sidelines as the Braves make a pennant push.

    So we implore you, Chipper: find whatever backwoods medical clinic you can, have Billy Wagner drive you there in the back of his Ford F-150, and get that knee patched back together with needle and thread. Moonshine instead of anesthesia. Whatever it takes!

    Modern Declaration: Today's Afternoon Games

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    • Rockies at Mets, 12:10: Nothing to see here. Move along. The Mets are 3-6 thus far in August. They're under .500. It looks like Jerry Tranuel may be leaving through the same door he came in: an overly dramatic one in late summer. Meanwhile the Rockies are a shade above lukewarm and are 5 games back in the Wild Card. Jason Hammel takes on Avid Golfer Johan Santana.

    • Red Sox at Blue Jays, 12:37: The Blue Jays followed up their best weekend of the season by getting trounced in the first two games of this series. Heart Attack John Lackey goes for the Sox against Brad Mills. Kid has only made two starts all season. One was good, one was not so good. But what do you expect from a guy that also has to manage the Astros?

    • Snakes at Beers, 2:10: Randy Lopez v. Rodrigo Wolf as Arizona looks for the four game sweep. It will be a refreshing change of pace for their broom, which is usually just used to attack Mexican people.

    • Cubs at Giants, 3:45: Like most pitchers on the Giants, Face Of The Franchise Matt Cain is having another nice year for himself. He has a career 2.41 ERA against the Cubs and a 2.48 ERA this year at home. Looks like another tough day for The Lou Piniella Reality Retirement Tour. Randy Wells goes for Chicago.
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    Last night, beleaguered Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was arrested for getting physical and aggressive with his father-in-law and faces charges of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Via the Daily News, here's what we know so far:

    Rodriguez and his wife's father brawled in a tunnel just outside the Mets clubhouse in the moments following the team's 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

    The father-in-law suffered facial abrasions and a head injury and was taken by ambulance to Flushing Hospital shortly after the altercation, police said.

    It was not immediately clear what sparked the fight between the 28-year-old relief pitcher and his 53-year-old father-in-law, police said.

    Reasons unclear? Motives unknown? Lack of details? That is where we, the uneducated and ill-informed blogger comes in! Let's throw out a list of possible reasons why Frankie Rodriguez punched his father-in-law in the head. Speculation!

    Ooh, I sense a pattern! No matter what caused the tiff, maybe someone should tell Frankie to relax, amirite? Eighties reference! High five.

    Assault allegations be damned, K-Rod is actually having a very good year: his strikeouts are up, his walk rate is down, and he's given up just three home runs on the year. His K/BB rate is the highest it's been since 2006. Sure, the Mets are barely a .500 team but it's no fault of their (albeit overpaid) closer. Maybe if Jerry Tranuel would use K-Rod in important game situations outside the normal ninth-inning save scenarios, he wouldn't be losing his shit on his poor father-in-law. And maybe the Mets wouldn't be blowing eighth inning leads quite as much.

    15%: Today's Afternoon Games

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    • Cards at Reds, 12:35: This is must gotta watch baseball TV no? Wainwright v. Arroyo, night after the huge scuttlebutt, TIED IN THE STANDINGS?? Game o' the week!

    • Tampa at Detroit, 1:05: Tampa tamed the Tigers last night with an 8-0 victory. And also with a chair. Wait that's a lion tamer. They're pretty much the same right? In any case I'm dropping that chair and running like the wind. WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH AIRLINE FOOD. Garza v. Verlander.

    • Braves at Astros, 2:05: LIKE A FIRE IN A TOY FACTORY. Atlanta won last night with a dramatic 9th inning. Today non-savior Tommy Hanson takes on LONGEST TENURED ASTRO (FOR REAL) Wandy Rodriguez.

    • Royals at Angels, 3:35: Uber non-savior Zack Greinke v. Jered Weaver. Are you a frog man?

    • A's at Mariners, 3:40: Everyone in the AL West is 5-5 in their last ten. That's weird. Dallas Braden v. Luke French "Cops".

    Former Giants Exec To Run Small VT Town; Eight Moose DFA'd

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    We've all been there. Vacationing in an idyllic locale with your sweetheart. Over a hearty breakfast on your last day, you decide you don't want to go back to Hometown X... you want to stay and become town manager! Well how many of us actually follow through? Former Giants Assistant GM Ralph Nelson is the only one I know of.

    The town of St. Johnsbury has hired a former Major League Baseball executive as its interim town manager.

    The Caledonian Record says Ralph Nelson decided to apply for the vacant position because he was vacationing in the area and he was bored with retirement.

    The previous manager quit last month after less than three months on the job.

    Nelson and his wife discovered St. Johnsbury a visit to the dog chapel created by the late Stephen Huneck.

    If this doesn't have "KELSEY GRAMMER SITCOM" written all over it then pecan crusted chicken doesn't make me hungry. Without even getting near what a "dog chapel" is, it's still pretty interesting to unpack the career of Mr. Nelson. After that Giants gig he became baseball's VP for umpiring and was responsible for consolidating the previously segregated NL and AL umps into a single unit. The whole thing is featured prominently in As They See 'Em, our first (and only) WoW Book Club selection. To wit:

    According to Ralph Nelson the problem of reining in the arrogant and independent umpires was on the agenda at the annual general managers' meeting every year during the 1980s. The concern wasn't about their field work, Nelson told me. Complaints from club management, he said, were only minimally about the umpires' calls or their ability to make them rather they were about "image, work ethic, hustle, and most frequently, attitude.

    In a 1995 letter to NL President Leonard Coleman, Nelson wrote of the "umpires lack of trust and respect for leadership" and of an exisiting public perception that "the industry lacks control over it's (sic) own umpires."

    Hear that St. Johnsbury Fire Department?? Your salad days of union backed golf tournaments and syrup orgies are a thing of the past. Ralph Nelson is here and he's just itching to bust up some complacency.

    Did any Reds player think that the Cardinals would simply let Brandon Phillips taunting words go unchallenged? Nay! The Cards are not "little bitches", especially not catcher Yadier Molina. When Phillips strode to the plate last night and gave Molina a gentle tap on the shinguards with his maple bat, Molina exploded and ignited a bench-clearing brawl:


    Hurry up and watch this illegally-posted video before it gets the hook.

    The best part: only Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker got ejected! That doesn't preclude a bevy of suspensions from the big boys in Herr Selig's office, especially for Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, seen above karate-kicking anyone and everyone in his way. That includes Cards starter Chris Carpenter, who is pressed up against the backstop and seemingly in danger of getting bent over backwards and snapped in half.

    Although we all love watching crazy brawls like this, the real heroes are the players who try and make peace. In this case, former Cardinal and current Redleg Scott Rolen does his best to pull bodies apart and talk some sense into his teammates. Alas, he didn't do enough because the fight just kept on going. Lucky that Joey Votto finally pulled Cueto out of the pile, or else the Cardinals would be a veritable MASH unit of karate-kick-induced injuries.

    Interestingly, yesterday's big brawl coincided with the debut of #HEIST attendee and master musician Ed Klingenberger's "St. Louis" song, part of his 30 Clubs in 30 Songs series that we've been enjoying so much. It's a slow, twangy tune about Tony LaRussa's angry manager face and it's my favorite of the series so far. Write another verse, Ed!

    Listen to Ed's St. Louis song

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, I am powering up... TO MOVE THAT THING!

    That's enough outta you, Phil. Unless you get a reality show as a verbose airline passenger looking for love among 50 eligible ladies. Then we'll be all ears. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.
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    After five-and-a-half seasons of ignoring their past incarnations in a feeble attempt to make history of their own, the last place Washington Nationals will tonight unveil a Magical Ring of Honor at Nationals Park listing the Hall of Fame players who have been somehow connected to the team. Since the Nats were born out of the forced relocation of the Montreal Expos, both of the franchise's HOFers, Gary Carter and the recently-inducted Andre Dawson, now have their names emblazoned on the 100-level facade.

    They're joined by former players of both iterations the Washington Senators, the Negro League's Homestead Grays, and the Minnesota Twins. Because I'll be dead in my grave before I ever recognize Harmon Killebrew as anything but a Twin. Heck, he only played two full seasons in Warshington anyway.

    But! After I've spent a few years complaining that the Nats have been sweeping away any reference to their past, I shouldn't really be too upset that they are going way overboard on this. Eighteen names with room for eight more! Someday you'll see current Nats catcher Ivan Rodriguez' name up there, I guarantee it.

    My question: what about the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams? Williams, who compiled a 219-264 record in three years managing in Washington in the late 1960s, will not be honored in Nationals Park. Why, I ask? After all, his 86-76 record in 1969 won him the Manager of the Year award. Is it not significant that the greatest hitter in the history of baseball once did so poorly as a manager that the team had to be relocated to Texas (where Williams led the team to a 54-100 record before getting canned)? So what if he's not in Cooperstown for his managerial aplomb: think of all the Red Sox fans the team could lure with the promise of their favorite legend's name hanging over a chili dog vendor!

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    50 year old Jerseyite James Falzon was attending a 2007 Mets game in typical fashion: accompanied by his son, dad, nephew and some lukewarm enthusiasm. All that changed when Luis Castillo stepped to the plate, broke his bat and then jacked up Falzon's face. Careful with that link if you don't like gore.

    Dude's injuries were pretty extensive and someone should probably be responsible for helping him pay the bills. But if you had any doubt that he had some internal injuries in that mashed up head, let his lawsuit assuage those fears. Falzon is basically suing everyone that was in the stadium that day.

    The ugly 2007 encounter during a Mets-Braves game turned Falzon into a bloody mess, with injuries that included multiple facial fractures and left him with pins in his jaw and metal plates in his face.

    Falzon's suit also targets the bat's manufacturer, the Mets, Major League Baseball and even Ramon Castro - the beefy backup catcher who loaned Castillo his lumber for the seventh inning at-bat. It seeks an undisclosed sum of money.

    The suit takes issue with maple bats like the one used by Castillo, saying they put fans and ballplayers in harm's way because they break more easily than bats made of ash. And it blames villainous ex-Giants slugger Barry Bonds for their rise in popularity among hitters, thanks to his record-setting 73-home run season in 2001.

    I'm surprised Bonds wasn't sued for being a trendsetter. You gotta think that Castillo and Castro will be freed from any liability and that a settlement will most likely be reached between Falzon, the Mets and possibly the bat maker. Then again, Castro did plead no contest to rape one time, so maybe if Falzon holds out he'll crack. NO PUN INTENDED.

    Obviously, we are never going to stop talking about the #HEIST as long as it keeps making news. Especially when one attendee, New York City's own Phil Catelinet, was witness to the most exciting news item of the day. Yes, Phil was on the JetBlue flight home from Pittsburgh in which disgruntled flight attendant Steven Slater lost his shit at an unruly passenger and deplaned via the inflatable emergency slide, essentially ending his 20-year career of serving mini pretzel bags and pointing towards exits.

    Phil reported on the incident in his personal blog, leading off the piece with two of my favorite things, field trips and game shows:

    I was in Pittsburgh this weekend for Walkoff Walk's annual HEIST meetup -- more on that later -- and I flew back this morning. JetBlue flight 1052 was really uneventful, barely more than an hour. I'm glad I had time to watch all of "The Price is Right" before we landed. I was afraid I'd miss the end of the Showcase Showdown.

    Phil then described how he heard Slater unleash his curse-filled tirade over the PA, and how he actually shared a train from the airport with the dude. Phil's witness to this event and detailed blog post got him calls from producers all over the NYC media world and I even caught him on CNN American Morning today.

    Here's Phil's quote to the New York Daily News:

    "I wish we could all quit our jobs like that," said passenger Phil Catelinet, 36, of Brooklyn, who was on the flight and the AirTrain.

    "He seemed kind of happy about it. He was like, 'I just quit my job.' "

    I hope your boss didn't see that article, Phil!

    Phil made other news, too, having the most complete set of online photos from the #HEIST, including the only known photo of Joe Maddon's cousin doing the YMCA. Thanks, Phil!

    UPDATE: Here's Phil on the CBS Early Show:


    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, I'm under the truck.

    • DID you get to read all the cool stuff people wrote about the Heist? That video up there is the insano radio call from the walkoff tot. I had forgotten they played this over the stadium PA until I heard the shrieks of "OH MY GOD." Anyway, the trip was once again a highlight of my summer and I feel happy to have spent it with those that came. See you next year.

    • WHO is Mike Minor? He's the pitcher making his MLB debut with the Braves tonight.

    • WHO is Carlos Zambrano? He's the kooky Venezuelan hothead making his first start in more than a month for the Cubs.

    • CAN Tampa steer out of their tailspin against Detroit?

    • WOULD you like the Tailspin theme song stuck in your head for the rest of the night? Click here.

    See you tomorrow, same WoW channel. GIMME THEM PEANUTS OLD MAN.

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    Waka Wakamatsu, indeed. Perhaps a victim of his own 2009 success, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu got axed after leading his team to 42-70 record on the year. Them high expectations can be a killer. So is the perception that Wakamatsu "lost the clubhouse" and also that he had a role in leaking Ken Griffey's snooze news, precipitating his unceremonious departure earlier in the season.

    You know, they used to catch alot of those captive orcas up near Seattle. Happy trails, Don. May you live a long life and helm many more rebuilding projects.

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    Folks, it seems like it's impossible to plan a Walkoff Walk Field Trip without having the home team stage a remarkable comeback and win the game in a walkoff (see: last year) On Saturday night, the Pirates beat the Rockies 8-7 in 10 innings thanks to a tidy, game-ending three-run tater tot by rookie slugger Pedro Alvarez. One needs only to look at the win expectancy graph to see just how hugely improbable Alvarez' homer was. The rest of the game was a bit of a slog but oh, that ending!

    But Saturday night was about more than baseball: it was also an anthropological exploration of what happens when you take 40 awesome people from all over the country, drop them into three rows at PNC Park, and observe the interactions between them and the native Pittsburghers. Imagine it as sort of a Survivor: Western Pennsylvania where the rewards are kielbasas and pierogies. To that end, I've collected a few cultural observations about the local folk.

    White Pittsburghers get excited about even the stalest party music. During one particular Rockies pitching change, the PA system pumped in the irritating 2000 hit "Who Let the Dogs Out" and white folks all over the park stood up and started to dance with such vigor, you'd have thought the tune was laced with Caribbean voodoo. Folks were seemingly in a trance, a la Weekend at Bernie's 2. Also, I'm pretty sure it was the extended "Dogs" remix because the song felt like it lasted 18 minutes.

    Later, when the Village People's obscure classic "YMCA" blared between innings, nearly every single human within earshot of downtown Pittsburgh stood up to clap their hands on the downbeat just waiting to throw their arms up and spell out letters in time with a song about men sleeping with other men. Fans in New York get excited when the groundskeeping crew rakes the field and does the YMCA dance, but the crowd participation level pales in comparison with that of Pittsburgh folk.

    Western Pennsylvanians like fireworks. No no, wait, they don't "like" fireworks, they LOVE fireworks. Perhaps "love" isn't even strong enough a word to describe how Western Pennsylvanians feel about pretty explosions in the sky. According to the group ticket rep I spoke with back in February, there are only a handful of Pirates games that are guaranteed sell-outs each season. Saturday night was one of those games because there were fireworks.

    To their defense, this was one of the finest displays of fireworks I'd ever witnessed in my life, fine enough that 30,000+ people sat through a four-hour baseball game, a 15 minute interlude, and at least 15 minutes of a really quite boring George Thorogood concert. Ironically enough, George Thorogood's PA system was neither thorough nor good. But oh, those fireworks! They were shot from the field, shot from the river, shot from the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and shot off the tops of at least one downtown skyscraper. And the show went late, not ending until just before 1AM.

    But most of all, people in Pittsburgh are very gracious and excellent hosts. Sure, perhaps the American-flag-clad-dad sitting down the row from us was not pleased with our shrimp-chanting antics, but otherwise, we #HEIST attendees felt more than welcome everywhere we went. Cheers to our waitress at Finnigan's Wake bar who managed separate checks for 30+ people with aplomb during the pregame, and then welcomed us back once we departed the park mid-Thorogood. Even better was the kind old man standing on the concourse who graciously donated his bag of peanuts to Kris.

    Attendees, please share your memories and/or photos of the #HEIST in the comment section.

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    If you are not among the 40 or so folks headed westward (or eastward, for some folks!) to Pittsburgh this weekend, then I pity you. Not because you won't have a chance to party with some of the coolest cats this side of the baseballblogosphere, but rather, because you'll suffer from an inundation of #HEIST-talk around these parts.

    Tomorrow night at 7PM, the Walkoff Walk Field Trip will land at PNC Park for the second annual #HEIST. We'll be making everyone else in Section 103, rows P, Q, and R feel just a bit uncomfortable with our eloquent conversation style. But then they'll warm to our antics and hopefully join us in a chant for shrimp if the game is tied up late. (remember: we were one batter away from a walkoff walk last year)

    So if you can't make it, please follow the #HEIST hashtag on Twitter and hopefully, the attendees will post some fun photos and videos of the big weekend. Some folks are already on a plane heading to the 'Burgh while others have driven cross-country from Los Angeles just to attend! Seriously, it's that much fun. We've got folks coming from at least twelve different states (plus D.C.) and from at least one foreign country.

    If you live in Pittsburgh and, for some reason, neglected to join in on the #HEIST ticket bonanza, please join us for our pregame party at Finnigans Wake bar at 4PM to drink some I.C. Light and watch some Yankees-Red Sox action. You'll know us by the catshirts.

    Sorry, Fangraphs. Hit the bricks, SABR. The real party is happening in Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh Hosts The First World Series Night Game - 1971

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    In honor of tomorrow's #HEIST I searched YouTube for happy Pirates memories. This did not take very long. But the one I found is Classic TV Friday material all the way. It's the pregame for Game 4 of the 1971 World Series, aka the first ever WS night game. It includes some of my favorite things: funky intro music, funky Joe Garagiola suits, Curt Gowdy, Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Can you imagine how many days of school/work you'd miss nowadays if they still had the playoff games during the day? Remember this video next time you complain about Fox keeping you up until midnight you provincial doofus. Please to enjoy.

    What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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    • Martin Prado, Braves: The All-Star 2B broke his pinky and will be out about two weeks. The broken pinky is a hilarious injury because even though it's just that little bitty finger they make you wear a huge cast that covers most of your hand and forearm. I saw a dude at a party the other night who had a huge American flag cast on his arm all cause of a broken pinky. It was probably meant to be ironic.

    • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youk is going to miss the rest of the season after today's thumb surgery. Dude wasn't even on the epic MASH list that the Sox put together at the end of June. At least they didn't trade Mike Lowell yet! Lord, I hope they don't get swept in the Bronx this weekend.

    • Carlos Silva, Cubs: An accelerated heartbeat forced Silva off the mound last Sunday. The sped up ticker was accompanied by shortness of breath. Medical condition or just too excited that the guy from Train was going to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"? Carlos pumps "Drops Of Jupiter" before each start.

    • Orlando Cabrera, Reds: Cabrera is on the deel after hurting his oblique during a swing. Everyone else on the DL is said to be upset and worried he'll disrupt their chemistry.

    • Aaron Cook, Rockies: Heist participants Colorado put Cook on the DL with a sprained Big Piggy. Cook blames the ouchie for recent inffectiveness. If he weren't such a self centered dick he would have cut it off, then. Boo this man.

    • Austin Kearns, Yankees: Raped by a wallaby.

    • Brian Moehler, Astros: Moehler was in the midst of rehabbing a strained groin this week when he TORE it. Most ineffective trainer in baseball? Worst rehabber of the year? Did it sound like a torn piece of paper or more like popping bubble wrap? So many questions.

    • Carlos Gomez, Brewers: Gomez took a scary fast ball to the head but CT scans were clear. THEY DIDN'T SHOW ANYTHING! HAR HAR! Gomez is mad the Cubs players didn't show more concern. Don't take it personal, Carlos. They were just wishing it had been them.

    horsesass.jpgHaving fun at the expense of Chicago Sun-Times White Sox clown Joe Cowley isn't just fun; it's by design. Cowley is setup as the "brash, no holds barred" columnist who creates strawmen and controversy for the sake of doing so. It's a tired trope but hey, look how jaunty a hat he gets to wear!

    Cowley often wears respectable journalist pants while covering the Sox, but his Inside the White Sox blog is a window into madness. Unencumbered by the need to make sense or the guidance of the editing process, Cowley goes nuts with no regard for layouts or life.

    Yesterday's entry — ever so provocatively titled "Is Mark Kotsay's Time as the DH Winding Down?" — looks like Joe Cowley is cross-posting from his kid sister's Myspace. Love the gigantic, dated picture of Mark Kotsay in a Red Sox hat, love the layout which allows for two words per sentence to the right of the cherry picked photo. Who doesn't love a 400 work diatribe featuring a sum total of zero paragraph breaks?

    The content of the piece centers around the White Sox insane ability to lead their division while running out Mark Kotsay and Juan Pierre as their designated hitters more often than not. Will the Sox call on prospective manager and all-around gentleman Carlos Delgado? Hard to tell from within the haze of Ozzisms and Cowley's filter-free style.

    Reading through the archives of Cowley's madness, it apparent that "readability" isn't high among his list of priorities. Too busy being brash, shaking up the establishment, I can only imagine. He's a newshound with priorities, man. He's got stories to break and uncredited images to steal. Keep fighting the good fight Cowley.

    Tonight's Question

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    Hey kids, I asked this lady what her name was.

    Okay, night night. Tomorrow all your Friday favorites. Same WoW channel

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    Wake your mother and let the llamas out, the Arbitron midseason baseball radio ratings are out! It'd take a Nate Silver to figure out just how accurate these ratings are; I can't imagine extrapolating an entire market based solely on the listening diaries of a handful of yokels and truck drivers. I'd hate to be employed in an profession that depends on the possibly-inaccurate entertainment choices of Americans, especially the ones in flyover states, for a dying industry like broadcast radio.

    But still, there are some telling figures within. To wit:

    • On the average, 441,000 people in the New York area are listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman call a Yankees game, versus just 368,500 for the lesser Mets games.

    • Over 250,000 people listen to Cubs games while just over 100,000 listen to the White Sox. Once Ozzie Guillen gets fired and joins the radio broadcast booth, though, those numbers will flip-flop.

    • Despite having a market smaller than either San Francisco, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, the Detroit Tigers get a ton of radio listeners, at nearly 200,000 per game. Not bad for a third-place team; maybe everyone thinks Ernie Harwell is still alive.

    • The Angels have a radio audience that is, on average, two-thirds larger than that of the Dodgers. Probably because Angels fans can't afford televisions? I dunno.

    • Most importantly: during Reds games, a whopping TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT of men between the ages of 25 and 54 in the greater Cincinnati area are listening to baseball on the radio.

    Imagine that: one out of every four adult men are listening to Dusty's first-place Redlegs instead of some other radio dreck, like traffic on the twos or some silly, fake Top 40 stunt. With a population of just over 2.2 million, having 116,000 listeners on average is pretty impressive and it's twice the listening rate of the Yankees.

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    Last night, I fell asleep following the auction process of a corporation in federal bankruptcy court on Twitter. File that under things I thought I'd never say. Just past midnight central time, the Nolan Ryan-Chuck Greenberg cabal topped the Mark Cuban-Jim Crane team by a final score of $581.2 million to $561.2 million. Their prize? The first place Texas Rangers and two pallets worth of Ron Washington t-shirts.

    Of course, that final number is far higher than Ryan and Greenberg originally offered for the team this past winter, a sweetheart deal favored by Tom Hicks and the suits at MLB, but not so much by the creditors who were owed millions of dollars by the bankrupted Hicks. Cuban and Crane challenged this in court and ended up giving the world the gift of an auction in which the drama got so heated, the opposing lawyers were cursing each other out in the hallways. Rawr!

    But did Cuban help Yankees slugger get a tidy bonus on the day he smacked his 600th career homer? Here's how the winning bid breaks down:

    The winning bid includes $385 million in cash and the assumption of $208 million in debt that the club holds. That price does not include any land around Rangers Ballpark.

    Greenberg's group reached an agreement back on Jan. 23 to purchase the team from current owner Tom Hicks for $575 million, but that included $70 million for the land and that was not included in Wednesday's auction.

    So, do the math: 385 + 208 - (575 - 70) = 88. That's $88 million extra the Greenberg-Ryan team ended up paying to Tom Hicks, cash that will go directly to Hicks' creditors because he filed for bankruptcy. Alex Rodriguez is owed over $20 million from the Rangers and is the number one creditor for the team; I'm not exactly sure how much better A-Rod's financial position is today because of the contentious auction, but it couldn't have gotten worse.

    He can thank Cuban and Crane for tossing their hat into the ring and driving the cash price up a bit. Don't be fooled: Cuban was more than prepared to own a baseball team and was not participating here just to play the role of spoiler. Shame that MLB and Herr Selig would never have let this happen, even if Cuban and Crane had bid eleventy billion dollars.

    Disclaimer: I have no idea how any of this works and this could all be 100% incorrect

    Tonight's Questions

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    baby-lobster.jpg Hey kids, quit trippin'.

    • NOW that Alex Rodriguez has hit his 600th home run, wha...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • WILL there be more profane unpleasantness in tonight's Indians/Sox tilt?

    • IS J.A Happ the new ace of the Astros? He gets the start for that suddenly red hot squad in St. Louis.

    • NOW that the Gulf Of Mexico is like all back to 100% normal and shit nope no more worries happy days are here again, can I go back to worrying about Lindsay Lohan?

    • WHICH Garfield shirt should I wear on Saturday? I have so many.

    Tomorrow we're back on the same #HEIST channel. You too, Lobster Baby.

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    Dig up the garden, gramma: there are FIVE afternoon games to be followed today. Here's a quickly-thrown-together listicle that serves to review the action, or inaction if you are expecting milestone home runs:

    • Reds at Pirates, 12:35: Lots of baseballs got thrown at folks last night, starting with a beanball off Mike Leake's arm that felled WoW favorite Andrew McCutchen. Looks like Cutch's neck bruise wasn't too bad because he's in today's lineup. Johnny Cueto looks to stay undefeated on the road in PNC today and win the series for the Redlegs.

    • Blue Jays at Yankees, 1:05: Can Shaun Marcum continue the tidy pitching skillz of Toronto's young studs in the Bronx? I witnessed Ricky "Roma" Romero dominate with wormballs and lazy flies last night; the righty Marcum is more likely to strike dudes out today. Especially A-Rod, who will never ever again hit a homer, ever, never.

    • Brewers at Cubs, 2:30: Remember when Manny Parra was a WoW favorite? Well he stinks now. So do both of these teams. The Cubs haven't won a game since I left for vacation.

    • Giants at Rockies, 3:10: We'll see the Rockies on Saturday night at the #HEIST.

    • Royals at A's, 3:35: The Royals aren't very good.
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    Hooray! The big day is finally here! It's like Christmas morning, Armistice Day, and Purim all mixed into one! It's the day Nolan Ryan's, Mark Cuban's, and Jeff Beck's (never mind, Jeff Beck is out) bids for Tom Hicks' bankrupt Texas Rangers finally come to light! Alex Rodriguez may never hit his 600th home run but if he plays his cards right, he'll get his $20 million and his pound of flesh from that coward Hicks once this dang team finally gets dang sold.

    By the time you read these words, two important things will have happened. First, Mark Cuban's bid amount for the team will have been revealed in federal bankruptcy court, and second, Nolan Ryan will have swallowed enough Advil to tranquilize a bucking bronco. But don't expect the third, most desired result to come out of today's auction: naming a new owner for the first place Texas freakin' Rangers. Because even if Cuban's group has the highest bid, they still might lose:

    Should Greenberg-Ryan win, MLB has promised the court it will approve, or reject, the deal before the group's financing expires Aug. 12. The league process entails passage by its ownership committee and then its executive council, and finally by team owners voting 75 percent in favor, said MLB president Bob DuPuy.

    If Greenberg-Ryan loses, it is awarded a "break-up" fee covering expenses, capped at $13 million.

    If Cuban-Crane snares the franchise, the league has promised to expedite the approval process but wouldn't be tied down to a particular date. A $15 million deposit holds the successful bid.

    A league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that MLB intends to work with the winning bidder, although it has the option of choosing the second-highest bid.

    The MLB ownership cabal headed by Herr Selig can do as it pleases and no fancy federal bankruptcy court auctioneer can say otherwise. And as a fan, I'm not sure whether to despise their snooty, clubby ways or to cheer them for maintaining the status quo on the most successful sport in American history. After all, it's the ownership cabal that has kept the bankrupt Rangers afloat with their deep, deep coffers during these trying times.

    Still, as fans of upending the status quo, we must root for Mark Cuban to get his dirty hands all over a big league baseball team. The Rangers might never win a playoff series under Cuban but be assured that he will make the team and the ballpark more fan-friendly. And even better, he'll ruin the day for at least one former soap opera star.



    That there (as long as it hasn't been taken down yet) is footage of the Red Sox and Indians engaging in a spirited debate around the Fenway mound last evening. While the whole thing was insitgated by some beanball action, the argument really got heated when Josh Beckett and Shelley Duncan went nose to nose. My sources tell me they were arguing the merits of famed director Luis Bunuel's first French period vs. his second French Period. Duncan thinks the latter was too lighthearted, but what can Beckett say? Sometimes he just craves whimsy.

    Sox manager Terry Francona also freaked out like a crazy maniac (too much Green Tea!) and looked like he wanted to pound Indians third base coach Steve Smith. But sitting at the bar watching this edition of Winstrol Theatre, it was plain even to Bob, the old guy next to me who works most nights and said he barely gets to watch games, that this was just another naked motivational ploy.

    "Just trying to put a fire under their asses", said Bob. I nodded in agreement. Everyone knows this.

    So why in the hell would it work? Or better yet, if it does work why don't players just realize it themselves? Here's Bill Hall after last night's game:

    "Things like this will spark a team, obviously it pulls a team together,'' Hall said. "It shows that we care about what's going on with this season.

    "There's a lot of superstars in this room, and for a team to come together and go out and show that this is a team and we're not going to let you push us around*, that's obviously something that can flip a switch and turn things around, and hopefully it does for us.''

    Guhhhhh. ME, YOU AND OLD BOB ALREADY KNOW THIS. Why does Francona have to push his blood pressure to Don Zimmer levels to make it sink in? Motivate yourself, Red Sox! Go pick a fight with a bunch of fans leaving the Cask & Flagon. Go whoop ass on those crust punks that hang out by the Harvard Square T Station. Quit doing it during games when guys can get ejected/suspended/hit in the head by a fastball and you're already 7 games out in the division. Wake up, Dummies.

    *especially if you're the freakin' INDIANS



    Ah, the halcyon days of the mid-twentieth century, when cigarette companies could recruit pro athletes, medical doctors, or even the Flintstones to sell their nicotine sticks. Here's a commercial of former Dodgers great Preacher Roe, a four-time All Star pitcher who compiled a tidy 22-3 record in 1951, throwing his support behind Camel cigarettes. He must love Camels, he's got two packs in his lunchpail!

    Smoker or not, Roe lived to the ripe old age of 92 before succumbing to colon cancer, which once again proves my hypothesis that you can only evade the Big C for so long before it bites you in the ass.

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    Manny Ramirez has appeared in just 61 games this season, creampuffing his way back and forth to the disabled list with the frequency you'd expect from a 38-year-old Los Angeleno with a standing Tuesday night reservation at Chateau Marmont. So it comes as no surprise that the worsening Dodgers, in the middle of a franchise-crippling divorce case between the two most selfish human beings on planet Earth, have decided to shelve the Mannywood sign in left field of Dodger Stadium in favor of some more lucrative advertising signs.

    So sayeth DILBECK:

    It disappeared because -- surprise, surprise -- the Dodgers could make a buck. Or, at least, a better buck. The "Mannywood" banner has been replaced with signs sold to John Hancock and 790 KABC.

    The Dodgers, however, are still selling Mannywood seats -- two tickets and two T-shirts for $99. The Dodgers said the banner space had been for sale all season, but they only recently found someone to put their John Hancock on it.

    The John Hancock banner reads, "the future is yours," which I guess you could argue is still a plea to Manny.

    That newspaperman's wry sense of humor and all-too-frequent usage of single-sentence paragraphs are disheartening. Time for me to pull down my "DILBECKWOOD" poster from above my bed.



    According to the video title this is how "Americans" dance at baseball games. Unlike the ones in Spain who do it with roses in their mouth or the ones in Italy that do it in handcuffs.

    Send this to anyone you know that went to Harvard.

    Tonight's Questions

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    Hey kids, making things safer for people on vacation is a good thing.

    • DOES our friend Paul ever watch his Cruise Planners News episodes once he uploads them? This one has his famous stiff as starch delivery AND tons of technical difficulty. Rick Dempsey update at 2:52.

    • WE'RE all pretty sure that the atrocious Jake Westbrook is going to be an ace with St. Louis right? Those dopes are always rehabbing lousy arms. He starts tonight vs. the Astros.

    • WILL the Dodgers have any shot at the division once their series with the Padres is over?
    I'm the big spoon, baseball is the little spoon. We'll see you tomorrow. Same WoW channel. Happy #HEIST Week!

    Dear overweight-and-underemployed readers of this here website: former Mets star Darryl Strawberry is taking after former teammate-cum-restaurateur Howard Johnson and is opening his eponymous memorabilia-laden and casual eatery/sports bar/house of fat and calories in Queens, NY this Thursday. Lucky you, he's still searching for staffing help! C'mon, you've always wanted a chance to bus greasy, booze-puddled tables in a restaurant with Kevin Elster's autographed underwear hanging from the wall.

    Notably missing from the debut menu are chocolate-covered strawberries, but they ain't missing from the YouTubes:


    Don't Lose Touch With Reality, Rangers Fans

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    Because Reuters and their crack team of Tell It Like It Is headline writers are on the case. So what if you've got baseball's largest division lead by a mile? Take a good hard look in the mirror and see what your team truly is. BANKRUPT AND LED BY A HAS BEEN. Thanks a lot, Reuters. Like it isn't hard enough living in Texas in the summer.

    And if you haven't read the article (it's just a screencap, quit trying to fold it over to read the rest), bankruptcy court proposed allowing (then rejected) the Nolan Ryan Prospective Ownership Group Express to make a new bid on the team. The move would have canceled the impending auction for the club. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is planning to take a break from being the human equivalent of an ignored car alarm on a busy street and make a bid for the team. Most importantly, stonewalling the auction would have prevented me from bidding on Oddibe McDowell's Pez dispenser collection. It is now scheduled for Wednesday. Phew.

    Even with sensational storylines like A-Rod filing objections to the bankruptcy, all of this amounts to nothing more than billable hours for the lawyers. Baseball is going to see to it that Nolan Ryan's boys own this team, barring God himself making a bid. And even then MLB would try to bury Him in the courts.

    As you have no doubt heard (and quickly dismissed), WoW favorite1 Rocco Baldelli began the long, slow road back to major league health benefits in late July. Rocco re-signed with original club in Tampa after serving as a minor league hitting instructor and all around swell guy.

    In addition to scaring many of the Rays bonus babies into investing in long-term T-Bills, Rocco took swings in the cage and readied himself for an unlikely comeback. With the Rays offense struggling and Creampuffs falling left and right, the stage was set for Rocco to make his triumphant return to the low minors.

    Recall the halcyon days of 2008, the original Raysopaclypse. Our hero Rocco, returning from mysterious illness later diagnosed as "cells no worky too good" cloaked in a beard of some acclaim. 2010 Rehab Rocco comes complete with a new gimmick in the facial hair arena, as seen below:

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    In keeping with the proud tradition of wholesome fun and desperate marketing, Rocco's current employers the Charlotte Sea Crabs are running Rocco Baldelli Mustache Night on August 4th. Never let the lure of a supernova big leaguer running through town go uncapitalized! The Sea Crabs plan to award a free hat & ticket to Saturday's game to all fans with a "naturally-grown moustache." The team is staging moustache contests across three categories, celebrating the filmography of Tom Selleck and featuring the music of Frank Zappa (!) as between inning entertainment.

    I applaud the good people with the Stone Crabs for their Minor Enterprise and, of course, Rocco Baldelli for sticking with the game he loves. Giving up on the only thing you're even known can't be easy, here's hoping we see Rocco in the playoffs once again.

    1 - Views may not reflect those of Walkoff Walk

    Image courtesy of Minor League Baseball Dot Com

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    Whether White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is speaking the truth or pulling nonsense out of his patoot, he certainly has raised the ire of MLB once again with controversial statements that speak directly to racial inequality in baseball. In 2007, Guillen questioned why the steroids probe went after Latin players when BALCO, the investigation's big target, was based in California and not somewhere like the Dominican Republic.

    This time, Ozzie wants to know why Asian players get better perks than Latin players, little bonuses like translators and free video store memberships. Guillen contends that Asian players are given the team-employed translators immediately upon being signed while young Latino players are hustled into the minor leagues and given nothing more than team-issued underwear and a complete twelve season DVD box set of "Green Acres" with which to learn-a-da-language.

    The Associated Press reports Ozzie's fiery rant prior to yesterday's White Sox-A's contest:

    Guillen, who is from Venezuela, said when he went to see his son, Oney, in Class-A, the team had a translator for a Korean prospect who "made more money than the players."

    "And we had 17 Latinos and you know who the interpreter was? Oney. Why is that? Because we have Latino coaches? Because here he is? Why? I don't have the answer," Guillen said. "We're in the United States, we don't have to bring any coaches that speak Spanish to help anybody. You choose to come to this country and you better speak English.

    While Ozzie makes salient points that Latino players are not exactly welcomed with red carpets in America, he is missing the boat by comparing the Latino's struggle with that of the Asian ballplayer. It's actually quite convenient that Oney was able to translate for seventeen of his teammates and it's quite remarkable that 17 foreign players all spoke the same language.

    Think about the ethnic makeup of baseball players: a whopping 27 percent of MLBers are Latino while just 2.3 percent are from Asia. And we must divide that tiny number up a bit further to account for the varying home languages spoken by these players: Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean just to name three.

    Of course baseball teams need to hire translators for Asian players because there are so few of them! And there are even fewer coaches, scouts, managers, executives, and peanut vendors who speak Asian languages, compared to the abundance of Spanish-speaking folk in the game today. Ozzie should be celebrating the ethnic diversity in baseball and cheering the way the sport has crossed oceans in its appeal, not playing the race card about PED investigations.

    More on Ozzie's son Oney, who fizzled out of baseball after spending half of 2008 in the Sally League: a year earlier, he was a teammate of one Po-Yu Lin with the Appalachian League's Bristol White Sox, who indeed employed a translator named Steve Xiu. Xiu is currently employed by the Detroit Tigers as a translator for pitcher Fu-Te Ni.

    But Ozzie Guillen missed one important fact when discussing the racial divide in baseball: Oney's teammate Po-Yu Lin, like his countryman Fu-Te Ni, is Taiwanese, not Korean. Yeah, I know Ozzie, they all look alike to me, too.