Kris Liakos: September 2008 Archives

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, one witness.
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  • WHO will win and mercifully put an end to the AL Central blahpocalypse?
Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and the last of our playoff previews. Same WoW time, new playoffy WoW channel.

"Nicely Done, Salomon"

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Brewers fans are certainly savoring their first postseason appearance in 26 years. 14,188 people turned out for a team sendoff at the Summerfest grounds, right there on the lake. What is usually home to snoozy crap like Brett Michaels or the BoDeans came alive when WoW favorite Salomon Torres strutted up to the mic in a robin's egg blue suit and grabbed the crowd like a sausage. Please to enjoy.

Tonight's Questions

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baby-lobster.jpgHey kids, you can save the Koala or you can save the leaf.

  • WHEN are they gonna get this game in?

  • WHO will win it when they do?

  • EVER have dreams like this?

Think we'll have any answers tomorrow? Think we've ever had any to begin with? Oh how I long for the security of being carried around in a giant pot.

See you tomorrow with more previews and other assorted assortments.

Boston Red Sox Playoff Preview: Me

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. But not this one. There was no way I was letting anyone else take the Red Sox. So here's Kris "CTC" Liakos of the mildly unhated Walkoff Walk.

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The Red Sox have won an average of 93.1 games over the past 7 years. In the seven years prior to that, they won an average of 86 games. All that is to say, what was once a decent team has upped their year in and year out performance to a much higher level, and while the playoffs aren't expected every year, it sure is tougher to take when they don't get there.

But this year was a relative cruise toward October. Since Boston had been making the postseason with some frequency without winning their division for a dozen or so years, it's hard to summon any righteous indignation about not winning the division, and "if we don't win it, I hope the Rays do" has become a phrase just as overused here as anywhere else in the United States of Baseball.

But if you're under the impression that I'm not freaking out about the playoffs, you're sorely mistaken and the only reason I haven't pissed my jeans is because the Brewers thought of it first and I'm no copycat.

A couple weeks back I was high high high on this team's chances to repeat. I felt like Ortiz was coming around at the right time, Bay was filling in respectably for Manny and the entire right side of the infield was getting MVP consideration.

Since then injuries, and the soft underbelly they revealed, have me seriously questioning their ability to go the distance. Josh Beckett's oblique strain is an injury that is rarely seen in public without the word "nagging." That leaves the rotation, after Jon Lester, pretty light. At first glance Matsuzaka's numbers are great, but once you look more closely at his WHIP, and more importantly, watch him pitch every game hanging off a ledge by his fingernails, he does little to inspire confidence. Tim Wakefield is impossible to predict and Paul Byrd gets hit harder than one of John Bonham's floor toms.

Injuries in the lineup to JD Drew and Mike Lowell have allowed weaknesses to appear form other places. Jed Lowrie has redefined the rookie wall and Mark Kotsay may still be the gosh darned nicest guy in the game but hasn't been hitting anything. In a situation where even a playing Mike Lowell may be limited to DH, there is a huge burden on many guys that may not be a-list players.

The bullpen has been marginally better down the stretch, and this team still won 95 games. I like their chances against the Angels because, well, the Angels are overrated. But after that. Color me a pessimist. I'm not sure what color that would be, but when you figure it out feel free to color me in it. Paint, crayon whatever.

Why do I sound so terminally negative? Things haven't chaged all that much for a lifelong Sox fan. It takes more than 7 years.

Lament: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Tigers at White Sox: Zzz. Nothing at stake here.

POANED. I JUST POANED YOU. This is a super rad make up prelude to a one game playoff. As if that wasn't cool enough, the two starters today, Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd, were once traded for each other. Apparently Garcia and Guillen are good friends and some think that may dim the starter's intensity a little. I think that's unlikely. Just like the Marlins capitalized on their chance to get one last good punch on a division rival, I expect the Tigers to do the same.

Add that to the fact to the Tigers need only 181 runs today to make my 1000 run prediction come true, and the White Sox could very well go home losers today, leaving us all with a hole in our heart, unfilled by a one game playoff. It will be right next to the one that renders you unable to commit to someone leaving you perpetually alone.

Unfortunately, we don't have the resources at our disposal to glog this one today, so please make this thread a free for all once it gets going. Bring your funny.

Chicago Cubs Playoff Preview: Kevin Kaduk

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. We start it off with one of our closest baseball buddies, Kevin Kaduk of the juggernaut that is Big League Stew.

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Ladies and gentlemen of Walkoff Walk, if I were to preview the Cubs' World Series chances here in a few words, it would be with the simple text I received from a Brewers fan after his trip to Wrigley earlier this season.

"You son of a bitch. Even your shitty players are good."

Very succinct, yes, considering it targets guys like Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot.

In fact, I'd challenge anyone to find 11 better words to describe the '08 Cubs.

But since I don't think that Rob and CTC want me to email this in like they do their day jobs -- hey, those guys post more on WoW than a Twittering twelve-year-old on Rockstar Energy drink -- allow me to expound on the first five things that come to mind regarding the glorious month that awaits Lou Piniella and His Merry Band of 100-Year Drought Breakers:

1) There is no such thing as The Billy Goat Curse: Oh, I'm sure Jeannie Z. and Joe B. will try to convince you otherwise on no less than 300 occasions during FOX's coverage, but the truth is that everyone with a brain here in Wrigleyville moved past that garbage once Lou came in and shot us a look that said, "Do I look like the type of guy who'd participate in such nonsense? You cut that crap right now or I'll give this job right back to Dusty Baker."

(Actually, I think the look said, "What did you just say? The Purse of the Moat? Ah, hell, what time is dinner?" but I don't think Lou would have approved even if he had heard correctly. Anyway, the Curse is gone. Please join me in plugging your ears and humming any time it is brought up.)

2) "It's Gonna Happen" is NOT the official team slogan: You've probably seen this infernal sign a few times through the year. Hell, Sports Illustrated keeps insisting on putting it in the pages of its magazine and even though I chastised one of their editors at the All-Star Game for doing so, it again turned up in the pages of that boring Gary Smith bleachers piece. But to set the record straight one more time: No self-respecting Cubs fan likes that slogan even a little bit. It was made up by that clown who charged Randy Myers back in '95. It failed in Boston and has now somehow survived almost two seasons at Wrigley Field, pissing me off any time I see it with its grammatical carelessness. If I ever meet that guy, I'm GONNA punch him.

3) The players are the main story, not the fans: I realize that sounds weird from someone who cashed a few checks from writing a book about being a Cubs fan, but as the postseason wears on, I'm hoping that the guys on the field get their fair share of credit for putting together one helluva season in the face of injuries to star players, a subpar season from Derrek Lee and the pressure of high expectations. Oh, we're sure to hear all about the 99-year-old women who were born the day of the last Cubs' title win and about the couple who traded two of their children for a pair to Game Three, but in the end it will be the players who achieve this feat, not the collective nobility and perseverance of our fan base.

4) A National League win in the All-Star Game would've been nice: I know that we're jumping to a lot of conclusions here in Chicago about the World Series, but the best record in the National League -- only the Phillies scare me more than a little bit -- should be enough for us to look a little ahead. That said, wouldn't it have been cool to see Wrigley Field glowing on the first pitch of a World Series? Instead, thanks to the AL win at Yankee Stadium, we're likely going to have to suffer through two games at the drab Trop before kicking off the party back here in the Chi. The only salvation? Opening up at Fenway.

5) In a way, it feels like the Cubs season starts on Wednesday. In my quarter-century or so of following the Cubs, I can safely say I've never been through an easier season this one. The Cubs have held a share of first place since May 11 and a postseason appearance always seemed inevitable. Even when they tanked a bit in September, I never got all that worried, because this season was always about what was going to happen in October. The Cubs now have the best team on the field in my lifetime and it's time for them to prove it. The biggest challenge of '08 is finally here.

Am I nervous? Oh, hell yes, it's the Cubs.

But they've got the guns to do it.

But they're not GONNA do it.

They WILL do it.

My Worst Fears Confirmed: Man Pees For Brewers

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So here's the first YouTube of some dude peeing his pants for the Brewers. This is not a euphemism. You've been warned.

We Still Won't Call It A Collapse

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Congratulations to the Brewers of Milwaukee, obtainers of the NL Wild Card. After playing baseball like a bunch of actual employees from the Miller Factory to begin the month of September, the Brewers rebounded just well enough down the stretch to earn their first playoff berth since 1982. The year of my birth.

Before we get to the Mets, let's not discount what a remarkable few weeks it's been for The Crew. With the exception of a couple weeks when they were within striking distance of the Cubs, they've pretty much been playing for the Wild Card all season. They started Sepetember 3-11 before their manager got fired with 12 regular season games left. Their interim hire, Dale Sveum was met with snickers and more than a little derision, yet here they are. 7-5 under Sveum and in the playoffs. That sealed the deal because... oh fine let's talk about the Mets.

After the Mets fired Willie Randolph, they received that coveted new manager "bounce" that the Brewers did, but it appears they just did it too early. No amount of Manuel/Delgado magic could make up for the universally maligned bullpen, the injuries to John Maine and the professional death of Pedro Martinez. This team went 4-6 in their last ten. Not good, to be sure. But hardly the epic collapse that the bloodthirsty masses will be labeling it this morning.

It was just horrible timing for a minor downturn.

Update: I had totally forgotten about this, until reading Big League Stew this morning. I expect some horrifying pictures to be making their way out of Milwaukee anytime now.

Late Start

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It's playoff week. We've got all kinds of treats lined up for these next couple weeks, and we'll hit the ground running in an hour or so. We've got previews, recaps and possibly even some homemade moonshine that I distilled in the tank of my toilet. To tide you over for the next 60, here's a picture taken IN PERSON of last night's final regular season walkoff walk. Esteemed friend of WoW, Tuffy , was there and sends along this picture postcard.

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Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, try and find your place in the sun.

  • ARE we going to get any games in on the East Coast? I went out for lunch and there is still water squishing around in my shoes.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Indians/White Sox series? They're Lewis vs. Danks, Jackson vs. Vasquez and Lee vs. Buehrlehehe

  • DO you know the matchups for the Royals/Twins series? They're Davies vs. Liriano, Meche vs. Perkins and Duckworth vs. Baker.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Marlins/Mets series? They're Volstand vs. Pelfrey, TBD (who's that?) vs. Nolasco and Santana vs. Olsen.

  • DO you know the matchups for the Nats/Phillies series? They're Balester vs. Blanton, Lannan vs. Moyer and Perez vs. Hamels.

  • DO you know the matchups in the Cubs/Brewers series? They're Dempster vs. Suppan, Lilly vs. Bush and Marquis vs. Sabathia.

  • ARE you ready for the last weekend of the regular season!? Wheeee!

Great work out there this week, folks. You make this whole thing run. We'll be back Monday with our first batch of playoff previews. If you have a team playing musical chairs for those last three spots this weekend, I wish you luck. But I only mean it for a couple of you.

Until then, check back all weekend, this car aint stopping. I'm gonna bail out and Lloyd is gonna jump into the drivers seat while we're still moving. We'll see you soon. Go baseball.

Site News: Good News For People Who Like Sellouts

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Well it's a big damn day for the entire WoW family. A couple weeks ago ESPN The Mag approached us about chronicling our favorite, most shrimptastic walkoff walks of the season. We gladly obliged. It'll be in the new issue of the mag out Monday, but here for your Friday afternoon pleasure is the eeeeelectronic copy.

Whee!

And, yes. There's my real name. Go crazy.

Yankee Beat Writers Just Want You To Be Honest, Honey

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Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News reported on some Media/Manager tensions that came to a head in the Yankees locker room last night. Mariano Rivera returned to NYC to get an MRI on what was eventually revealed to be a sore shoulder. Prior to the news being leaked, Feinsand remarks that Joe Girardi flat out lied to beat writers about what was going on. He was not happy about this.

"There's nothing alarming. I'm not concerned about it," Girardi said. "He told me his whole body was cranky because he had thrown three days in a row. This is nothing new."

Roughly two hours later, I was one of several writers who spoke with Brian Cashman on the phone, and he told me that Rivera had gone back to New York because of a bothersome shoulder. Hmm. That's not what we heard before the game.

Either way, once we told Girardi that Cashman had spilled the beans, it would have made sense for the manager to come clean and say what he knows. That didn't happen. Instead, he stuck by the "cranky body" story, insulting our intelligence.

I know that most fans don't give a hoot about how the media is treated, and that's fine with me. But if we're not given a chance to report accurately on the team, then it's you, the readers, that are cheated. It's going to be hard to take anything Girardi says seriously for a while, and that's a bad thing for both him and us.

Girardi did make a ton of defensive comments later in the night saying that if reporters didn't like the way he handled news about injuries, "You all can stare at me all you want, but that's all I can do." Ah, the old staring contest torture. I believe they're using that at Guantanamo right now to get info.

I would suggest that Feinsand never get a job covering the Patriots if this sort of thing upsets him. For now, it seems like missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years has everyone on edge in that clubhouse. Both team and media. It's very easy to get used to a certain way of life in 13 years, especially dealing with Joe Torre. The fact that he's out in LA getting ready for his 14th consecutive postseason probably isn't helping the short fuses of Girardi and those covering him. Don't worry guys, a vacation is coming.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Are Hurt On Teams That Matter

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So this weekend is shaping up to be total mess with a tie in the AL Central and that Philly/Mets/Crew boondoggle in the NL. It would be kind of pointless for me to do the usual focusless rundown of wimps, whiners and weenies. So instead I'll just be pointing out the Marys from teams that have either clinched a playoff spot or are in the hunt this weekend.

Boston Red Sox

  • Mike Lowell: Lowell took batting practice yesterday, and says he's ready to return tonight against the Yankees. While he'll probably just DH, inserting his bat back into the lineup will mitigate some of the struggles that players like Jed Lowrie and Mark Kotsay are having. But Lowell looked to be in excruciating pain the last time he was on the field so I still have to imagine his contributions for October are tentative at best.

  • JD Drew: Drew received an epidural this week which I thought was something only pregnant ladies got. He was in serted into the starting lineup for the first time since August 17. He's also a day to day proposition.

Tampa Bay Rays:

  • Carl Crawford: Any blogger that continues to call the Rays a "feel good story" should be fined. That being said, there sure have been lots of sunshine and rainbows for the team, but Carl Crawford's 2008 has certainly not been one of the highlights. He had one of the poorest seasons of his career production wise, and then had surgery on his hand in August. He was not cleared to take batting practice and is unlikely to play in the divisional round. Crawford is as close to "Mr. Ray" as anyone that's ever played for them, so it's a real bummer he won't be out on the field when they finally get to the postseason.

Minnesota Twins

  • Kevin Slowey: Slowey took a line drive off of the wrist in last night's start. X-rays came back negative, but did reveal a deep bruise. Ah, who need's their wrist to pitch anyway? Suck it up.

Chicago White Sox:

  • Carlos Quentin: It still appears a longshot that Quentin will be activated for the divisional round, but this week he took on a "heavy workload" in the cage and his wrist responded well. If he does get back on the field, it totally changes the way the White Sox chances are viewed in any series.

Los Angeles Angels:

  • Howie Kendrick, Chone Figgins: Kendrick returned from the DL this week, playing a few innings in two separate contests. The club will have a close eye on his exploding hammy. Figgins also returned this week after elbow problems.

  • Joe Saunders: GAAAAH! SAUNDERS IS BACK AFTER PASSING A KIDNEY STONE. GAAAH!!

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies:

  • No siginficant injuries.

Chicago Cubs

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Ben Sheets: Sheets is "up in the air" for his start this week which sounds like it would be against the rules. That's why they lowered the mound, right? Wait and see.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Nomar Garciaparra: Is on the Dodgers.

  • Jeff Kent: Kent is struggling to do anything but hit while rehabbing a knee injury. That would be fine if he played in the AL, but in the NL it could keep him off the playoff roster.

  • Rafael Furcal: Furcal was activated off the DL this week. He hadn't played since Cinco De Mayo, with back problems.

Steve Balboni, The Next Big Thing- 1980

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Today's Classic TV Friday post is a profile on former Yankee slugger and the pride of Brockton, MA, Steve Balboni. No, it's not a "where are they now" bit showing Balboni creating his own line of BBQ sauce or coach a high school team in the Falkland Islands, it's a profile of him when he was still in the minors with the Nashville Sounds. Enjoy an interview with a young man full of promise, that kind of, I guess, maybe, got fulfilled!

Baseball's Tenuous Battle for Important Stuff: 3 Days To Go

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Padres fans.

Mets 7, Cubs 6: Last night New York was in the business of erasing deficits with their offense, instead of their bullpen. Down by 3 runs after 6, the Mets got into the Cubs bullpen touching up Chad Gaudin, Neil Cotts and Kevin Hart. The Deathblow came from Carlos Beltran, a walkoff single that scored Jose Reyes.

Brewers 5, Pirates 1 (10): But the NL Wild Card race remains knotted up. The bases were juiced in the bottom of the ninth, there were two balls on Ryan Braun (va va voom) and I had that dadgum shrimp ready to roll. But having no sense of the moment Braun decided to jack a King Dong instead. Yawn.

Twins 7, White Sox 6 (10): Another extra inning affair and another walkoff hit for the home team. After Carlos Gomez and Denard Span joined forces to tie the game in the 8th, Alexei Casilla knocked home the game winning single in the bottom of the tenth. Look at those names. The Twins are becoming downright Marlinesque with their succes with young, non-famous and affordable players. The White Sox lead in the division is down to 1 0 in the loss column.

St Louis 12, Arizona 3: The Snakes playoff hopes were extinguished in a hail of runs. Albert Pujols drove in 4 and had his 35th tater tot of the year to tie Ryan Ludwick for the team lead... until Ludwick came up next and also hit a funny bone. With the Arizona loss, The Los Angeles Dodgers (aka Joe Torre Presents the 2003 Red Sox) secured a playoff berth. Take that, Hank Steinbrenner.

Tonight's Questions

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fish toddler.jpgHey kids, forget it.

  • WILL the Twins complete the sweep? and take possession of first place in the AL Central? It's the biggest regular season game of the year.

  • DOES Pedro have anything left in the tank? Tonight is his biggest start ever as a Met.

  • ARE you sick of my hyperbole?

  • WILL the Brewers break out the dustpan for the Pirates?
Stop by tomorrow for all the answers and your familiar Friday favorites. Same WoW time, Same WoW channel. You too, Travelin' Fish Toddler.

The Last Evening: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05 Rays at Tigers: I sit here writing this afternoon preview, looking at how ridiculous my preseason predictions were. The Rays' AL East magic number is 1, and the Tigers, the Tigers that I so lustfully praised before seeing them play, sit a full game BEHIND THE ROYALS in last place. Wowza. Tampa sends Scott Kazmir out to face that Gallaraga dude, and by the end of your work day you could be living in a world where the Tampa Bay Rays hold a division title. Strange days, man.

  • 2:15, Snakes at Cardinals: I often make fun of players' facial hair. It's always atrocious, but still... Doug Davis... that thing on your chin is a travesty. It's an affront to all that is good in the world. It looks like the skid mark in grandpa's drawers. Fix it and then go to the mound to take on Joel Pineiro (not doing his chin any favors, either) and the Cardinals. A St. Louis win would clinch playoffs for the Dodgers.

  • Now Till Eternity, Me: Doing my Uncle Jesse thing.
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If you're a Mets fan, you'll have someone else to curse this weekend besides your bullpen. God. Seems the Fat Man (that's what I call him) plans on doing some Noah's Ark shit all over the eastern seaboard this weekend and the NL Wild Card race could be the worse off for it.

Much of the East Coast is expected to get heavy rain over the next few days, and that could complicate pivotal games involving the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, two teams that with the Milwaukee Brewers are in the National League playoff hunt.

If the Mets' game Friday is rained out, that would require a double-header either Saturday or Sunday. According to the New York Times, the Mets have used up their quota of day-night doubleheaders. That means the Mets would have to play a doubleheader back-to-back.

Hey Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I love you, but stop hyphenating doubleheader. It makes you look like an ass. Between this mess with the Wild Card and that White Sox/Twins series, the midwest hasn't been this exciting since the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpg Hey kids, just to clarify from yesterday: I love France but I hate anyone from Spain.

Then stop by tomorrow for stuff. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. Still not in HD.

Investigation Into Who Leaked George Brett Tape About Leaking

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Remember when we posted that video of George Brett talking about diarrhea? That was funny, huh? Yeah I thought so too. Haha. Poop.

Oh wait, there's news about it?

Well look at that. Time Warner is trying to find out who the prankster is that let this outtake escape from the bowels of their video library.

Porter told us that the original footage was shot for Metro Sports as part of some typical spring-training coverage in which players or coaches are miked up for future programs. Brett serves as a Royals instructor during spring training.

But Porter said the particular footage that found its way to YouTube was never meant to be aired.

"It was never shown by us, and it shouldn't have been shown anywhere," he said. "For that, we apologize. We apologize to George Brett and to the Royals."

Porter said he is not sure how the footage got out of the Metro Sports archives.

"The matter is still under investigation by us," Porter said. "We are still trying to determine the person or persons responsible.

Didn't they watch the tape? We know who's responsible. It's the chef! The one that brought George all those crab legs! Anyway, the video is gone now, but one of you intrepid WoWies have gotta be able to find a rogue copy somewhere out there in the tubes. Make me proud.

Falling Stars: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, A's at Rangers: No liveglog today.

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It's Good To Be On The Road Back Home: AL Home Field Battle

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With the Yankee Deathstar finally exploding yesterday (is that a correct metaphor? I don't like Star Wars.) some less glitzy, but still important playoff jockeying was overlooked. With the Tampa Bay sweep and the Angelschoking away a 4 run lead to the woeful Ms, there was a 1.5 game swing in the race for home field advantage.

The Angels still hold the American League's best record at 97-60, but instead of a three-game advantage over the Rays, their closest pursers, the edge is two games with five to play.

Think home-field advantage isn't important? The Angels went 1-5 in Tropicana Field this season, and the Rays have the best home record (57-24) in baseball. They are 38-38 on the road.

"It became our next goal after we made the playoffs," Manager Mike Scioscia said of home-field advantage. "And we're going to have to earn it."

We've already noted what a tough year it's been for teams on the road, and that's true in St. Pete more than anyplace else. In my opinion, travel and the wear and tear associated with it in the new Amphetamine prohibition era have more to do with road woes than any fan or ballpark advantages for the home team. That's something that can be mitigated with more leisurely playoff scheduling, so I'm interested to see if much of the home and away disparity goes away come postseason.

But just to be on the safe side, I'm sure the Angels would rather sing this than this.

Tonight's Questions

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sharkdog.jpgHey kids, do you get as mad as I do when people pick on France?

  • WHO you got in White Sox/Twins series? A White Sox sweep would allow us to finally stop wondering if the Twins are going to get over the hump.

  • ARE you disappointed that Rich Harden's start got pushed back to Thursday? Would have been a good matchup against Johan.

  • WE don't have to talk about the Yankees anymore since the stadium is closed, right?

  • WILL Milwaukee capitalize on a trip to Pittsburgh, or keep sucking?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Sharkdog.
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In the annals of our nation's justice system there are trials that serve as benchmarks for entire eras of our history. There's Brown v. Board of Education, Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, and a bunch of other ones I don't know because I was smart enough to avoid law school.

Well, get ready to add another one to the list because Paul Russo v. Steve promises to shake jurisprudence to its very core.

Yankee fan Paul Russo says he is the rightful owner of the ball smacked by Jose Molina over the left-center field fence during the historic final game.

"I was a part of history, and it's making me sick," said Russo, 31, of Manhattan. The soaring shot landed on the netting that covers the seats in front of the famed Monument Park.

Another fan, identified only as Steve, grabbed the ball through the netting, but he let it go and it bounced down into Russo's hands.

When security guards told Russo to give them the ball, he thought they were going to help him get the valuable piece of history authenticated by the Yanks. Instead, they gave it to "Steve."

The article says that Russo, a schoolteacher, is unsure whether or not he'll pursue legal action. We all know that he is definitely freaking going to. I mean, there is precedent for this kind of stuff. What a country! Hey Paul, if you need a lawyer, I found a guy.

Unfortunately, You Haven't Heard The Last Of Gary Sheffield

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Everyone's favorite malcontent and 42 year MLB veteran, Gary Sheffield is stiiiiiill yapping about his dustup with Fausto Carmona. Much like the angry drunk at the bar you're praying won't make eye contact with you, Sheffield is no longer just mad at Carmona. He now is vowing revenge on the nameless Indians players he believes he attacked him from behind. Sigh.

"When you get into brawls -- when somebody's back is toward you -- you pull each other apart. That is what you're supposed to do. But when guys take cheap shots, I take that personal.

"When I find out who they are, they are going to have to deal with me."

In what form?

"Don't worry. You'll see. I'm not one of those guys to sit there and talk about what I'm going to do. I'm just going to do what I'm going to do."

Unfortunately for Gary the Terminator, the Tigers don't face the Indians again until May 1, 2009. So that's a lot of time for him to stew and get even angrier. It's also plenty of time for people to forget that any of this even happened so when Sheffield steps to the plate in Cleveland next year, wielding a mace instead of a bat, people will have no idea why.

For now, I'd urge all civilians to steer clear of Gary until he is finally able to vent his frustrations. Something tells me his offseason is going to look a lot like this.

Tonight's Questions

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penguinbaby.jpgHey kids, sweatpants.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Penguin Baby.

Drive On Driver: Cubs at Mets

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As always, in these final days of the baseball season, the league is but a collection of a few epically important series. We'll be taking a look at them as they come up. First up, the Cubs travel to Shea for 4 games against the Mets.

We made it clear the other day we were not calling the Mets recent difficulties a "collapse." They haven't really held a formidable lead during this stretch run, and if anything have just been trading punches with the Phillies. Let's also remember that the Phillies had the good fortune to get Milwaukee right as that Red Dwarf was imploding in on itself. So the Cubs come to town while the Mets are, yes, struggling but leading the Wild Card and well within striking distance of the division lead.

For their part, the Cubs have a magic number of 1 to secure homefield for the entire playoffs, and plan on playing a relatively normal lineup for a team cruising into the playoffs. Sweet Lou points not only to the integrity of the wild card chase, but also a basic need to get more looks at players before setting the playoff roster. In any case, it should be one of the most entertaining series of the stretch run.

Your starters:

  • Tonight: J. Marquis vs. J. Niese
  • Tomorrow: R. Harden vs. J. Santana*
  • Wednesday: C. Zambrano vs. O. Perez
  • Thursday: T. Lilly vs. P. Martinez

*word

Being Young And Green: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 1:10, Marlins at Reds: A make up game, rescheduled from May 15. When the Marlins were in first place. Ouch. Ricky Nolasco gets the start for the Fish, getting ready to wrap up a stellar Junior year in the bigs. Since his much discussed CG, Nolasco has stayed strong going at least 7IP in 4 of 5 starts.

Also, he inspired one of my all-time favorite WoW comments. From Freetzy:

"Nolasco sounds like a NYC neighborhood that used to be full of crack dens but is now full of breastfeeding moms and restaurants with excellent charcuterie."

Torii Hunter Picks Up Where Don Herbert Left Off

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Reading this morning's LA Times, I stumbled across another Torii Hunter character piece. You know I love these. He makes Mr. Rogers look like the Bad Lieutenant. It's always a great way to shake off those Monday morning doldrums. Let the healing light of Torii Hunter fill your soul.

Anyway, this latest piece enumerates just how successful Hunter's teams have been over the years. Five of his last seven teams have won their division, and only once in the last eight years has he been on a team with a losing record. Fun facts. We all know that one player doesn't make a team a winner, but he has seen so much success you think he'd have a pretty idea of what it takes right? Well, you'd be wrong.

You want to know why?

"Chemistry," said Hunter, who says he feels the same positive vibes in the Angels clubhouse that he felt with the Twins. "Once you get your chemistry together you know how to play together. Once you get that chemistry, everything just flows."

"That's one thing about this ballclub that I love. We're laughing and joking, watching TV together, listening to music together. We don't have too many different cliques. Everybody's kind of together, cracking jokes with each other. And that's kind of cool."

Duly noted. The key to a successful ball club is jokes and television. If only I had known this in 2001, my roommates and our bong would have tried out for the Devil Rays. I guess the quote isn't entirely surprising since Hunter spent his whole career prior to this season with the Twins. That's the team that explains losing streaks by claiming they're trying too hard.

Give manager Mike Scoscia credit. Later in the article he says that "clubhouse chemistry is second to on-field chemistry" which I think translates to: "It's not the plasma TV, dummy."

Perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on Hunter either. Since the Angels clinched the division back in April, maybe there really has been a lot of time for bonding.

Astros Players: Grow Up Or Get Lost

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This story came from today's Houston Chronicle and I just wanted to make a quick comment on it before we headed out for the weekend.

Just in case Bud Selig doesn't know he's a despised figure to the Astros, a few of the players were wearing black T-shirts today expressing their feeling about the commissioner's actions.

"We survived Ike," the back of the shirt read in red lettering atop a drawing of the radar impression of the eye of the storm.

On the front, it read: "Bud killed us," over a drawing of the commissioner.

First things first. The Astros had an outside chance, at best, of getting to the playoffs before the Cubs series. More importantly, for these guys to continue whining about this in such a public fashion, while so many of their fans are without basic human necessities is appalling. It's more than being out of touch. It's being self-centered to an almost pathological degree. Not to mention the good old fashioned disregard for the fact that they were an absolutely crap baseball team for 3/4 the year.

I wish Shawn Chacon had choked all of you.

George Brett Is A Sharer; Unable To Control Bowels

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This has been in lots of places today, but frankly, it's an instant classic and I don't want Walkoff Walk to be on the wrong side of history when future scholars study this video. It's George Brett enumerating in super graphic detail each time he's crapped in his own pants as an adult. Again, the guy has an eye for detail, so try and not be eating while you watch this. I'd tell you to enjoy, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate.

Rock And Hawk: Today's Afternoon Game

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2:20, Cardinals at Cubs: Z makes his first post no hitter start today, against Adam Wainwright and the Cards. The Cubbies magic number is down to 2, so potentially it could be a champagne weekend for them. Chicago is winding down the season having scored 50 more runs than any other NL team and giving up the second least. Everyone is mostly healthy and they're getting production from every spot. CAN YOU TELL I'M GETTING EXCITED FOR THE PLAYOFFS??

TO BE! A WINNER! Starting Lineup- 1988

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Today's Classic TV Friday brings us a commerical for Starting Lineup. I still have most of mine above my bedroom door, dames love em. I'm also pretty sure one of my buddies stole my Robert Parish one in 2nd grade. Enjoy, and please catalog all Starting Lineup figures you had in the comments below.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGGather round children, for What's Up Creampuff is getting as old and creaky as the milquetoasts it chronicles. After today's installment there will be but one more time I can parade these invalids through the Walkoff Walk town square in an orgy of mocking, riducule and hyperlinks to newspaper stories. So savor this one kids. Savor the sweet, sweet pain.

  • Daniel Cabrera, Orioles: The O's big righty is getting shut down with a strain in his elbow. Kid was due to be the next big thing but struggled with his control so much, that people kind of gave up. Well they left too soon because this year he... oh. His WHIP actually went up while his K/9IP went down. Still had a more productive year than Erik Bedard.

  • Mike Lowell, Red Sox: Lowell's torn hip thing pulled him out of the lineup for the last game in Tampa. He woke up feeling worse yesterday but still traveled with the team to Toronto. The doctor's think he'll be able to play through it. But let's keep in mind, this is his doctor.

  • Jeff Francis, Taylor Buchholz, Rockies: How poorly did Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd mishandle his talent this year. Granted, the NL West was asstrocious, but O'Dowd made Ed Wade look like a pessimist by not dealing anyone this year. Not that Francis or Buchholz were discussed as going anywhere, but I needed to get that off my chest. Francis and Buchholz are both being shut down.

  • Shutdown, The Band: Still tough guys. No creampuffs here.

  • Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: Nomar took a spill and sprained his knee. Things look ok, and he should be ready this weekend, but I have to put him in Creampuff no matter what. It's in my contract.

  • Ben Sheets, Brewers: The Crew is unsure of Sheets' availability which translates to: "If we lose all of our games until his next start, he's out for the year. If we win them all he'll pitch all 9." So my guess is medically, he's fine, but stay tuned.

  • Damion Easley, Mets: This one is kind of sad. Easley tore his quad and is pessimistic about his chances to return this year. He's been in the league for FIFTEEN YEARS without playing in a postseason game, the longest active streak of its kind. So if the Mets make it but he's on the bench, he'll be in Frowntown.

  • Carl Pavano, Yankees: Pavano left the game last weekend to a chorus of boos, but is apparently on track to make his start today. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Erik Patterson, A's: Patterson, a member of WoW's Royal Family, is out for the rest of the season with a strained right hamstring that he injured on the basepaths. He probably did it after taking a base on balls.

  • Rick Ankiel, Cardinals: Ankiel is having hernia surgery today. In his honor, please watch this. 2:37 FTW.

  • Shaun Marcum, Blue Jays: Marcum has some sort of mystery arm ailment that could potentially put next year in jeopardy. THE CURSE OF CTC IS REAL.

Tonight's Questions

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nightgame2.jpgHey kids, she's right behind you.

  • CAN Johan and the Mets salvage the split in DC?

  • WHAT about Javy and the White Sox in the Bronx?

  • WILL the Rays use this three game series in Tampa to push the Twins into irrelevance?

  • IS Tim Lincecum going to continue his Cy Young campaign whilst knocking Arizona even further behind LA.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

The Walkoff Walk Interview: Helene Sovern

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Not familiar with Helene Sovern? I wasn't either until this morning. She was the focus of this piece by Tampa Bay's News 10. According to them, Helene (whom they call a Rays fan) made it to last night's Red Sox/Rays game despite having surgery earlier in the day "after a sharp piece of medal (sic) was found lodged in her throat."

The short piece admired her pluck for still heading to the game fresh out of the hosptial, but I thought it was terrible reporting. I had so many unanswered questions. So, I did what any pseudonymous journalist would do. I looked up her number and called her. Helene could not possibly have been sweeter, and I'm glad she's feeling better. What follows is our conversation. Yes, it's real.

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Camp Tiger Claw: So Helene. How are you feeling?

Helene Sovern: I'm feeling better now. Just a little sore still.

CTC: So I'm calling from Boston, that's how I heard about the story. You were there rooting for the Rays last night, right?

HS: Well I lived in Boston for about 10 years. Actually. I gotta tell you. I wanted to root for them since I live in Tampa. My husband's a Yankees fan. But when the Red Sox came out I just had to root for them. Once you're a Sox fan you can't change it.

CTC: Well I'm glad to hear that. So what happened. I guess the biggest problem I had with the channel 10 story is that they didn't tell me what got stuck in your throat. I'm curious.

HS: So my husband and I had some guests in town from New York. And he was grilling. I bit into a pork chop and all of a sudden it felt like I swallowed a razor blade.

CTC: Jesus.

HS: Yeah. So my husband tried to give me the heimlich and that didn't work so he told me to go to the Emergency Room. But I hate the Emergency Room. I don't trust them to actually do anything.

CTC: And who knows how long you'll be in there.

HS: Right! So I just said, I'm going to sleep and if I die, I die.

CTC: Ha.

HS: Well the next morning I woke up and it was still there. So luckily my ear nose and throat doctor took me in the next day. And he scoped me out. Looked all over and said, "There's a small black thing sticking out at the base of your tongue."

CTC: Eek.

HS: So he tried to get it out, but I kept gagging. He said I had to go to the hospital so they could put me under and take it out. When I came to, they'd removed it.

CTC: What was it?

HS: It was a one inch long metal bristle from a grill brush. It embedded itself in my tongue.

CTC: (jumps up and down while on phone) MY GOD. HELENE. THAT IS HORRIFYING. I HAVE GOOSEBUMPS.

HS: Haha. Yeah it was. But I really wanted to go to the game, so I headed right there.

-------------

According to Channel 10, Helene still had her hospital bracelet on when she got to the stadium. I'll also tell you this. Helene works blue and has a good sense of humor. She told me a couple of zingers about having a throat injury that she didn't want me to repeat online. I promised I wouldn't, because she also said I had to send her this article to show her family.

Get well soon!

Natural Music: Today's Afternoon Games

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liveglog.jpgHey kids. Don't forget to join DJ Robbie I today at 3 for your Thursday Afternoon Liveglog Mashup. The Street Team implores you.

  • 12:35, Dodgers at Pirates: The Pirates put up 15 runs last night, which probably means they'll be all tuckered out for the rest of the regular season. The Dodgers' magic number remains at 8 with 10 games left. They'll trot out Clayton Kershaw, a guy who's had one of the most interesting season's around. Guy came out of spring with more hype than The Black Kids and at times he's looked as mediocre as them. He takes on Sad Paul Maholm.

  • 2:20, Brewers at Cubs: Rubber at Wrigley. For as bad as the past few weeks have been for Milwaukee, they're still only a half game out in the Wild Card. If they can avoid being mowed down by Rich Harden. Dave Bush takes the mound for the Brewers. I'm still not making a Harden/Bush joke no matter how much you whine about it.

  • 3:35 Angels at Oakland: The Angels infield is baaaaanged up. Add Chone Figgins to the questionable Howie Kendrick and IT'S A VERITABLE MASH UNIT. Joe Saunders, who goes for Anaheim, has been regressing to the mean. The Angels are 3-3 in his last 6 starts as his ERA has risen half a run. The A's send Josh "Dammit, He Was" Outman to the hill.

  • 2:10, Mariners at Royals:

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Carlos Quentin & Chone Figgins, Two Sides Of The Same Creampuff

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A couple injury updates rode the news gurney into my consciousness this morning. They regard two of the most important players on the White Sox and Angels, and there's good news and bad news, respectively. Hey, I'm pretty good at this doctor thing. Someone give me some nitrous and a scalpel.

First, the good news. Joe Cowley at the Sun Times is reporting that Carlos Quentin's progress from a fractured wrist is better than expected and he will actually rejoin the team this weekend. They expect him to take batting practice with the team. No guarantee he'll be back before the end of the season, but Chicago fans may want to hold their breath. Which is hard to do when you're chain eating hot dogs.

Now for the bad news, Chone Figgins he of the Angels and oft used phrase "catalyst," is making no progress trying to return from an elbow injury. Carl Pavano hit him with a fastball on Sept 8th, and Figgins says the soreness is not going away. He's returning to SoCal from Oakland for an MRI. The Pavano detail just makes things worse. Why couldn't he just injure himself and leave peacefully? Why'd he have to take down someone from a contender? It's like a single engine plane crashing into a house. AIM FOR THE FIELD.

Tonight's Questions

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lobsterbabyjr.jpgHey kids, you're nobody till somebody kidnaps you.

  • WHY did the White Sox decide to start Clayton Richard instead of Lance Broadway in the Bronx? GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. Oh yeah, Phil Hughes is back.

  • WILL the Mets drop their third straight to the Nats? I have a buffalo nickel on it that says yes. I don't think it's legal tender, though.

  • WILL the Brewers full body dry heave continue? It's going national, so even those in Poughkeepsie will feel your pain, cheeseheads.

  • HEY, who's the new kid?

  • WHO rubberizes in St. Pete? Wake has always been good at the Trop.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Tavern Talking Points #3: Heads Should Roll In AL Central

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Too dumb to come up with your own ideas and take sides in a bar argument? Let WoW's Tavern Talking Points do it for you.

Our boy 'Duk at BLS wrote a fantastically exasperated piece last night describing how all of us baseball fans feel about that miserable AL Central race. He made the prescient analogy that the teams about the teams being two fighters clutching and grabbing until one can deliver a haymaker in their series next week. I agree that this whole thing has been as exciting as a John Ruiz fight.

He makes a point of praising Guillen and Gardy as "good motivators" saying that's part of the reason they've taken advantage of lousy Cleveland and Detroit seasons. This is where I'd beg to differ and say that whichever one of these teams loses the division should fire their manager. This is the worst display of "getting the job done" since 5 minutes ago when I was too lazy to look up the last time a division race stunk this much. In situations this aesthetically atrocious, someone must be held accountable.

I predicted before the season that Ozzie would be canned by the All-Star break, and that turned out like most of predictions: laughably incorrect. But that was my error. Kenny Williams has made strong moves in the past two seasons to strengthen the club. They're certainly not the youngest team, but they have enough talent to have put this division away long ago.

Chances have come and gone for the Twins, and for once in my life I'm reluctant to blame everything on the GOP. Weeks before the now infamous road trip, we were wondering whether or not Minnesota would ever get over the hump. They choked repeatedly, spending one day in first. No one should feel good about capitalizing on poor seasons by the Tigers and Tribe. They should feel bad for having a big league club that so easily wilts under pressure. For Gardenhire, it's also a matter of mismanaging a bullpen.

So come on Kenny Williams and Bill Smith. Let's make this AL Central race a deathwatch. It's been depressing enough, and this will only put it over the top.

Hop On Pop: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 3:05 Padres at Rockies:

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    Rob has decided not to Liveglog this game today because it is so lousy. To make it up to all of you, tomorrow he's gonna do another Liveglog Mashup, frantically chronicling all 4 afternoon games. That was fun last time. So adjust your calendars accordingly, and don't worry about rushing to pick up your blazer at the drycleaners.

Baseball's Tenuous Battle for Important Stuff: 12 Days To Go

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Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Cardinals fans.

Nats 1, Mets 0: Oh, this is a shame. Mike Pelfrey and Odalis Perez both pitched 7 strong innings, but Cristian Guzman's 5th inning ground rule double was the difference. Bright side for the Mets: at least the bullpen didn't blow it.

Phillies 8, Braves 7: And this evened the East. The Fightins were down 7-4 heading into the 7th, then Ryan Howard happened. Philly scored 2 in the 8th powered by a Howard triple then 2 more in the 8th when he tater totted. Brad Lidge notched his 37th save of the year.

Cleveland 12, Minnesota 9 (11): This one went back and forth more times than the jury at your last aggravated assault trial. Justin Morneau and Delmon Young teamed to give the Twins the lead in the top of the 8th. Grady Sizemore tied it in the bottom half with solo ding dong. This game went to eleven where Vic Martinez hit the game winning 3 run funny bone. The Twins bullpen is terminal.

White Sox 6, Yankees 2: In which the Sox take a 2.5 game lead in the Central. Another strong outing from Gavin Floyd and RBI from 5 different batters will do that for ya.

Elsewhere: The Rays top Boston in a pitchers duel... CC can't stop the Crew's freefall... Dodger Blue still good for a 4.5 game lead.

Tonight's Questions

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babysnail.JPGHey kids, who the hell gave me decaf?

  • WHICH NL Wild Card Co-leader has the tougher road assignment: The Phils in Atlanta or the Brewers in Chicago?

  • CAN Josh Beckett lead the Red Sox back to first place?

  • ARE you ready to call that NL West yet? Will you if the Dodgers gain a game tonight?

  • CAN snails live in the ocean?

  • WILL Frank Liriano put the Twins back in the win column against Cleveland?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

And You Thought You Got Excited When Your Team Won

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You don't get nearly excited as fans of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a team in Japan's pacific league. When they win, the bleachers climax all over the outfield. It's so sexy, I never want to see a Japanese person again.

The team plays their games at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, a fact that I could not possibly make up.

Movin' On Up With Taylor Teagarden

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A leader is starting to emerge in the Ranger catcher debacle. With Salty on the DL and Gerald Laird sobbing, Taylor Teagarden has stepped up big time. He's got 13 hits in 12 games. Ten of them for extra bases, including 6 funny bones. Our boy David Pinto is projecting Teagarden at catcher for next season saying that with him, "Michael Young and Ian Kinsler in the middle infield and Josh Hamilton in center, the Rangers are looking very strong up the middle for 2009."

Last night was Tea's biggest in the bigs .He had 5 RBI including a King Dong. It was special for not only him, but also Texas fan Glenn "Wheezy" Wistman. You see that grand slam won Wistman some cash.

Glenn Listman was daydreaming Monday afternoon, wondering what it might be like to win $25,000 on a FSNSW Rangers broadcast.

"I was thinking how funny it would be if Taylor Teagarden hit the grand slam because he's so hot right now," said Listman, 44, who is a defensive driving instructor in Haslet. "I felt good when I saw him in the lineup."

Teagarden's grand slam in the Sonic Slam inning earned Listman, who sent in his name with the nickname of Wheezy, the big check. He said he'll probably pay bills and maybe use some of it to go on a vacation.

"I'm not a lucky guy, but I went to a Corpus Christi game and caught my first ever foul ball three weeks ago," Listman said. "I can tell you, I'm going to buy some lottery tickets and strike while the iron is hot."

WHEEZY! Forget the bills and the vacation, Wheeze. I like the lottery idea best. In fact, you should probably put all $25K on scratchoffs and watch that money grow. You can take two vacations! LET IT RIDE WHEEZY! LET IT RIDE!

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, it's bed of my truck but if the cops show up, I'm a just a landscaper.

  • CAN the Dodgers beat up on the Pirates and come get closer to finally euthanizing the 2008 NL West?

  • WILL the Sox and Rays match the drama of last week's series? Matsuzaka takes on Kazmir in the opener.

  • WILL the Mets bullpen do the job against Washington? Pedro is starting so you know they'll be needed.

  • WHAT will happen in the Central? I gave you all relevant details earlier.
Stay tough and stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Weary AL Central Combatants Drag Tired Asses Around America

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The playoff picture in the AL is solidifying faster than the super glue that accidentally fused your thumb and index finger together this weekend when you were trying to fix the sunglasses you sat on. We know the Angels are in. The AL east teams are battling for first, but either of those teams has a 6 game Wild Card cushion. That leaves the spot at the top of the Central the last available playoff spot. Both the White Sox and the Twins are on the road all week. What's it looking like out there?

Chicago has a 1.5 game lead on Minnesota and tonight they start a 4 game series in the Bronx. The Yankees have won two in a row, and in this series will be getting starts from rookie Alfredo Aceves and the reanimated corpse of Phil Hughes. Stay away from him Alfredo, he's contagious. Hughes takes on Lance Broadway in what I'm dubbing, "The Biggest Comedy Matchup Of Wednesday." After that, Chicago heads to KC for a 3 game weekend series against those mighty Royals.

Minnesota begins the week at the Jake. The Indians have lost 3 in a row but will trot out Cliff Lee for the series finale on Thursday. After that the Twins will head to Tampa. The Rays are always tough at home but their series against the Sox this season have become hugely draining affairs leaving them vulnerable to whomever is next.

So who has the big advantage in this whole bildungsroman? As always, the Royals.

From A Gas Station Outside Providence: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Cubs and Astros at Miller Park: I think we've thoroughly covered last night's game don't you? Today's game will be the last Wisconsin based make up, and the third game of the series is being put on hold to be played only if the standings require it. Ted Lilly makes the start for Chicago against Brian Moehler who I swear I've written about 67 times on this site. If any of us cared (writers or readers) I'd go back and look it up. But who are we kidding? We're too busy picking the stromboli out of our teeth from lunch.

    The Astros error yesterday was only their 62 of the year. That's 13 better than the 2nd best fielding team, the Mets.
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This morning the New York Daily News reported that US Rep. Charles Rangel has been lobbying the IRS for more tax free bonds for the construction of the new Yankee Stadium and has since received increased donations from a Yankee affiliated law firm. It's not the sexiest of stories but it provides a peek behind the curtain at the often infuriating public subsidization of new stadiums.

The city and the Yankees secretly crafted a letter Rep. Charles Rangel used to lobby the IRS for tax changes that would save the team $66 million, the Daily News has learned.

They did this at the same time Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the team's law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, raised almost $25,000 for Rangel, records show.

The law firm's political action committee also donated an additional $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in this election cycle. Rangel is chairman of the DCCC's board of directors and a key fund-raiser for House Democrats. Yankees President Randy Levine is senior counsel at Akin Gump.

The Rangel letter was just one weapon in the Yankees' ongoing battle to get more tax-exempt financing for the new stadium rising in the Bronx. Last year, the team got $942 million in tax-free bonds through a city agency, but the team wants $350 million more.

The Daily News piece is pretty in depth, but the blog friendly gist is as follows. In the mid 80's the IRS put a cap on the amount of tax free bonds that could be obtained for the construction of a new sports stadium. The Yankees had already successfully lobbied the IRS once to relax these restrictions and saved themselves $181 million in tax costs. Stadium costs have gone over, and now they're looking for an additional $350 in tax free bonds, which would save them $66 million more.

The letters from Rangel to the IRS were drafted by someone in the mayor's office and then forwarded to the Yankees for review. The Yankees then sent them along to the office of the Democratic rep where they were presumably rubber stamped them and sent along. Since 2000, the total amount of money raised by both Yankee officials and Akin Gump sits around $45,000.

The IRS rejected the Rangel letter, requesting a direct letter from the city instead. So the return on the Yankee investment in Rangel seems to be about as effective as their investment in Carl Pavano.

(I tip my fedora with the piece of paper that says "press" in it to BBTF.)

EMOTION

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Hurricane IKE May Relocate Cubs/Stros To Atlanta's TURNER Field

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So the uber dangerous Ike continues to stomp toward Texas. The AJC reports the suddenly meaningful Cubs/Stros game could move to Turner field. They may be avoiding a natural disaster, but they're running head long into a mechanical one.

Again, stay safe everybody.

America, Meet Troy From West Virginia Is Back

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We usually try to abstain from posting more than one video in the same day. But this could not wait. I'd like to introduce you all to Troy From West Virginia. Troy is a huge Dodgers fan with huge sideburns. He has a cork board at work where he has pictures of the entire Dodgers roster, stationed positionally. Please make sure you're not drinking anything at the 2:24 mark.

Get ready to do the hibbity dibbity, and you can say you knew know Troy before he was a star.



(Update: Alas, we did not discover Troy. He got some play for his video about Joe Beimel earlier this year.)

2008 Roy Of The Year: Oswalt vs. Halladay

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For awhile I was trying to fight the overwhelming tide of Cliff Lee for Cy Young talk. I'd been enamored all season with Roy Halladay's no guff, 9 inning, 2.5 hour spinning and thought people were mostly swayed by Lee's gaudy win loss record. But alas, even I have been swayed by Lee's across the board dominance and dream season. And now with a resurgent Roy Oswalt leading the Astros to pissing distance of the Wild Card, Doc may not even be the best Roy of 2008.

Let's take a closer look and see who gets the nod: Harry Leroy Halladay or um... Roy Oswalt. Roll those beautiful stats!

Roy Halladay
224 IP
1.05 WHIP
154 ERA +
193 K
35 BB

Trump Card: 8 CG

Roy Oswalt
190 IP
1.18 WHIP
120 ERA+
148 K
43 BB

Trump Card: Since All-Star break he's 8-1 having allowed 16 ER in 69 IP. Currently has 32.1 inning scoreless streak.

While Oswalt has been white hot as of late, the Roy of the Year must take into account an entire season's body of work. I'm going to give the nod to Halladay. Here to present the award is Roy Scheider! Oh no, really? Oops. RIP Seaquest Dude.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGWhat is it that I like so much about the Fall? Well, I live in New England, and for it's burtal Winters and muddy crappy Springs, the area is rewarded with an Autumn that is the most beautiful time to be anywhere. No area matches up to a season so well. Also, it's the arrival of baseball's postseason. And since I'm not an Orioles fan, that gets me excited! All of these things add up to making fall my favorite season hands down. If any of the following bitchsticks need me to push them around in their iron lungs to see the foliage, I'd be obliged.

  • Paul Konerko, White Sox: Paulie sprained his MCL and is day to day and stuff like that. Psst. Paul. If you come back sooner than expected.... mail me your pills.

  • Brandon Phillips, Reds: Brandon Phillips had his own Bill Brasky moment No he didn't eat a homeless person on a dare, but he did break his index finger while driving in the winning run against the Brewers. The bit of heroics landed has led the Reds to shut down his season. But, in a year where highlights were few for this club, I'm sure it was worth it. TO BILL BRASKY!

  • Jim Johnson, Orioles: Johnson has what is being referred to as an "impingement" in his right shoulder. To me this sounds like a legal term so perhaps they should subpoena the thing out of his shoulder then file a restraining order. In any case, he's being shut down.

  • Gabe Kapler, Brewers: Mr. Kotter tore an undisclosed muscle in his right shoulder. I'm guessing it was due to a court ordered impingement. His season is over. The big question on everyone's mind is will he retire again and go back to mana.....zzzzzzzz

  • Fred Lewis, Giants: Grandpa Munster is missing the rest of the season because he's having a bunion removed from his foot. Wow that's nasty. But maybe you could use this as an opportunity to broach the subject with your wife so she'll do the same.

  • Troy Glaus: Um... Tootie from the Facts of Life? Anyway, Glaus has tendinitis in his shoulder making this the week of the shoulder. You know what that means! The 10th caller at 1-800-WALK-OFF wins a cider braised pork shoulder!

Tonight's Questions

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seahorse baby.jpgHey kids, stay fresh.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel. You too, Seahorse Baby.

Hurricane Ike Bears Down On Texas

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In our world that means the Cubs/Astros series is in jeopardy. In the real world it means that a very scary and powerful storm is going to make landfall on the Texas coast, and have repercussions for a huge area around it.

Our thoughts go out to anyone about to be affected by this.

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Race Relations Thursday rolls on here at Walkoff Walk. And what would a discussion of sensitivity and amalgamation be without some input from political correctness mastermind, Ozzie Guillen? Bubkus, that's what. So hot off the pages of the Sporting News, I give you Ozzie's inside take on the racial dynamic of a modern MLB clubhouse.

SN: Is there a cultural divide between Latino players and American players that is harmful in some way?

GUILLEN: You don't pick your teammates. You will see the Latinos here, the Asians here, the white guys here, the African American guys here. That's normal. I don't expect (Juan) Uribe and (Paul) Konerko to go and have dinner. ... I think Latinos are more loud than anybody else. Sometimes the American guys are like, "Shut the (expletive) up, we'll kick you out." But I've never seen any racist problems since I've been here, never seen any player say they were offended by somebody.

I know the White Sox have a lot of older ballplayers on their roster but I didn't know Don Rickles was one of them. "Hey hockey puck, if you're so Spanish how come you aren't from Spain?" I'm sure if someone was offended they'd go straight to Ozzie and tell him about it. That faggot sure knows from offensive dialogue!

In all seriousness, the interview is a great read and vintage Ozzie. I especially enjoy his Libertarian take on immigration and look forward to seeing it pop up in the presidential debates.

I'm a citizen of the best country of the world, but I didn't want to lose my citizenship in Venezuela. It turns out you don't lose your citizenship when you are an American citizen. ... It took a long time, maybe three years, for my wife to convince me to start applying for the papers. I say if the United States want Ozzie Guillen, they should give me the (expletive) passport without papers because I pay my taxes, don't do any illegal things, I was clean, I invest lot of money in this country, I spend a lot, I make a lot of people happy.

You sure do, Ozzie. You sure do.

(Coke oweage: BBTF)

Gin: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 1:10, Royals at Twins:Last night, Minnesota stayed just a game back in the Central. A remarkable feat considering the tumult of the past month or so. Brandon Duckworth gets the start for KC and Francisco Liriano goes for the Identicals. Since his return on August 3, Liriano has allowed just 10 ER in 43 innings. He's conquered the wildness that plagued him in his first big league stint this season, and has surrendered just 2 walks in his last 20 IP. Alexei Cassila has gotten his swing back slapping 8 hits in the past 4 games. The maligned bullpen has pitched 4 scoreless innings in the series. Things could get tough again when they head out on another 10 game road trip after today.

    As for the Royals, well I think the last line of today's titular poem sums things up mighty well for their fans.

Hey Reuters, Is Your Refrigerator Running?

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Justin Speier 1, Reuters 0.

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(We owe a coke to Halos Heaven.)

Baseball Before Bedtime: She Loves Jesus

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Here's what happened in baseball while you traveled through shadows.

Angels 4, Yankees 2: We have our first playoff team of 2008. The Angels clinched the AL West behind 2 RBI from Rob Quinlan and a throwing error from Xavier Nady. Francisco Rodriguez had notched his 56th save, putting him one behind Bobby Thigpen's record. My friend Ryan from third grade has the same birthday as Bobby Thigpen. He told me this while trading cards once in the early 90s.

Mets 13, Nats 10: David Wright funny boned for the 28th time, and the Mets took this slugfest to send Washington out of town in a dustpan. Cristian Guzman had 5 RBI in the losing effort. New York opened up its NL East lead to 3.5 because...

Marlins 7, Phillies 3: ...Ricky Nolasco struck out and 8 and led the Fish to victory. Luis Gonzalez hit a ding dong, giving him an MLB record of 78 consecutive seasons with 8 or more HRs. Brett Myers stunk out the joint.

White Sox 6, Toronto 5: Roy Halladay got touched up for 5 ER in 6 IP and the Blue Jays win streak was snapped at 10. AJ Pierzynski had 3 RBI and Mark "The Barber" Buerhle gave up just one run in 7 IP. The White Sox stayed one game ahead of the Twins, who beat KC 7-1.

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, I was just testing you.

  • WILL the Mets fully exorcise their Nationals demons with the 2 game sweep?

  • ARE you believing in a Blue Jays playoff appearance? If so, you're an idiot or a foreigner, but they have a chance to sweep the White Sox.

  • WHO grabs rubber at Fenway?

  • DID the Twins stop trying? That seems to be the only explanation for last night's win against KC. They'll try to not give a shit again with Kevin Slowey on the mound.

  • ARE the Cubs going to lose again?

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Regression And Depression In Southeast Wisconsin

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The top of the NL Central has been melting faster than the polar ice caps in recent weeks. Chicago's troubles have been playing out nationally since the only thing people like talking about better than the Cubs is the Cubs as lovable losers.

A more recent, but just as precipitous decline is being exhibited by the 2nd place, and Wild Card leading Brewers. They've lost 7 of nine going and are about to embark on a 10 game road trip that starts in Philadelphia. That's where the Phillies live and they're only 3 games back for that coveted WC. But I'm sure people in Milwaukee are handling it fine. I've been there many times. They're laid back folk. Uh oh.

Is there any hope of the Brewers ending this horrible skid and making it to the playoff or is their offense irreparably broken?

The collapse of the offense has been absolutely stunning. During the nine games, the Brewers have scored just 24 runs while batting .216 as a team. Without Ray Durham's pinch three-run homer in the seventh inning, the Brewers would have scored just one run tonight off one of the worst pitching staffs in the league.

They are on the verge of a historic collapse. They had a 4 1/2 game lead in the wild card race with 20 games to go. If they blow that and don't make the playoffs, it will be about as sad as it gets.

Hmm. So maybe they aren't taking it so well, but are they overreacting? After Philadelphia, the Brewers travel to Chicago and then Cincinnati. The Phillies are playing better than them, and Chicago and Cincinnati have owned them as of late. On the plus side, the Philly and Chicago series are the kind of high risk, high reward matchups that could cement the Crew's playoff chances if their bats wake up. Then we could stop all this wringing of plump, ghostly white hands.

From On Being Fired Again: Today's Afternoon Games

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liveglog.jpgIt's a special Liveglog Wednesday. DJ Robbie I will be on the left and right mouse buttons spinning a very special Liveglog Mashup for all of you. Starting at 3 he's gonna be taking a spin around his XM dial bringing you live game action and jokes from all over baseball. Take your Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog Club Blazer off. Wave it 'round your head like a helicopter.

  • 1:05, A's at Tigers: Armando Gallaraga takes the hill for Detroit. Yahoo deftly points out that he has become the lone bright spot on the team. That is sad. Well not really. Eat shit, Leyland. The A's trot out Sean Gallagher, destined to spend the rest of his career as the guy that got traded for Rich Harden, now that Harden has found away to quintuple his productivity by only getting injured once a year.

  • 2:05, Reds at Brewers: The NL Central is collapsing from the top down and it's making for some compelling baseball watching. We'll discuss this more later, but today Bronson Arroyo takes on CC Sabathia. Huge game for Milwaukee.

  • 3:35, Snakes at Giants: Our afternoon is also graced with one of the teams trapped in that NL West struggle. Throw out the records and you have yourself a good old fashioned (insert cliche). The Giants have one hand on the broom closet. 2008: Year Of the Spoiler.

  • 3:35, Yankees at Angels: Rubber in Anaheim as the Angels' magic number remains at two. Andy Pettite takes on Dustin Moseley. I'm more concerned with whether or not this poet shows up again.

  • 4:05, Marlins at Phillies: Stacks of rubber at CBP and puddles of puke in the lot. Ricky Nolasco, he of the stellar season and Brett Myers, he of everyone hating him, will duel as the now 2.5 game back Phils look to stay tight. Myers was solid in his last start saying "I always knew I could do it." But no one wanted you to.

  • 4:40, Texas at Seattle:

Doesn't Count

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Walkoff Balks are for suckers.

Tonight's Questions

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sharkbaby.jpgHey kids, every night could be your last when you sleep on a moving freight train.

  • ARE the Red Sox going to take over first place in the AL East? Not if they can't play.

  • HOW much would continuing the Cubs' slide make up for the Cardinals' disappointing second half?

  • WILL the Angels clinch the division tonight? Their magic number is down to two.

  • IS it safe to go back in the water? Yes. Shark Baby is still teething.

  • CAN the Mets block out last season's tragic collapse against Washington, a team that had a big part in said collapse? I hope not! Beat it, Mets fans.

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and Rob's liveglog. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Twins Bullpen Breaks Down Worse Than Margot Kidder

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Too bad the Metrodome doesn't have a retractable roof. The bullpen stinks. Lulz.

The dapper and knowledgeable La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has traced a direct line between the Twins' late season collapse and the utter permeability of the relief corps.

The bullpen crisis is unprecedented in (Pitching Coach Rick) Anderson's tenure. Twins relievers have ranked no worse than fifth in the AL in ERA since he took over the pitchers when Ron Gardenhire was hired as manager in 2002. The Twins led the league with a 2.91 bullpen ERA in 2006 and were fifth last year at 3.80.

As of Monday, the Twins bullpen ERA of 4.07 ranked ninth in the league -- including a 4.76 ERA since Aug. 1. While the relievers' home ERA is a sparkling 2.48, it is 5.74 on the road. Part of the problem stems from a season-ending elbow injury suffered by top setup man Pat Neshek in early May.

The Twins suffered four walk-off losses during their recently completed 14-game road trip. And they have lost five games this season during which they have led by three or more runs in the seventh inning or later. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins lost a total of five games in that manner from 2003 to 2007.

Joe Nathan blew three saves during the recent road trip -- and he is one of the best closers in the game. Nathan had blown only three of his first 38 save opportunities this year.

That home/road ERA split doesn't tell a fully accurate story. As you can see in this month by month breakdown of the bullpen ERA, it actually dipped in August when they were on their GOP road trip. It's popped back up again at home in September. Don't worry thought Minnesota fans. You're not out of it yet because your pitching coach has it allllll figured out.

"To me, the reason for the inconsistency is that they are all trying too hard," Anderson said.
See? Situation under control.

How Could You Not: Today's Afternoon Game

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  • 2:05, Blue Jays at White Sox: Due to last night's rain out (refunds available from Jerry Reinsdorf's proctologist) these two boffo squads will play two games today. The first falls squarely in our afternoon game wheelhouse. AJ Burnett faces off against the mercurial Javy Vasquez. Actually, he's easy to predict. He looks good against bad offenses and bad against good ones. Pretty simple. The Jays have won 8 in a row scoring an average of 6 runs a game in those contests. Could be a tough day for Vasquez. In two pieces of positive Sox news, Paul Konerko has homered in three straight and Paul Konerko is still alive.

    And hey, Weekend Sommelier Lloyd be gloggin' it at Ghostrunner On First. Please to enjoy.

Tonight's Questions

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bostonstatehouse.JPGHey kids, if you're not sweating you're not really being chased.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Don't You Know Who I Am? A Very Important Drunk.

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Here's a fun tidbit from yesterday's Cubs/Reds tilt in Cincinnati. Because hey, most other Cub related things haven't exactly been a picnic over the past couple weeks. It seems that one Chicago fan, Rafael Rosario, may have been taking his favorite squad's recent troubles harder than most. He got cut off at the beer stand and made an unfortunate decision.

According to court records, when a concession employee working the View Level at Great American Ball Park refused to serve alcohol to 26-year-old Rafael Rosario, the Cubs fan asked two more times.

When Cincinnati police asked to see Rosario's ID, he tensed up and claimed he was a federal agent and the officer had no right to see his ID, NewsChannel5 sister station WCPO-TV reported.

Records show Rosario is employed by the Transportation Safety Administration at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Police said he gave them an Illinois state driver's license, not a federal ID. Police noted Rosario, who was wearing a red Cubs shirt and blue Cubs hat, refused to cooperate with officers and had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. Rosario was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated, and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

This explains everything. He's a security checkpoint person at the airport. No wonder he was so loaded. He was probably on his way to work.

Tony Pena Is Not Pena-tention

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Our friend Geoff Baker helped pile on the Yankees this morning with some interesting Mariners clubhouse info. Whilst pointing out A-Rod's struggles visiting Seattle this season, he pointed out the the pickoff play that snared both A-Rod and Jeter yesterday. But the rub here is actually that the play wasn't entirely Rodriguez's fault. A stunning admission from a media member. To wit, it was Tona Pena's fault. No surprise there.

The low point for A-Rod came in the third inning when first baseman Bryan LaHair sneaked in behind him, and Ryan Feierabend fired over a pickoff throw to catch Rodriguez off base. Rodriguez got in a rundown, and eventually Derek Jeter, the runner on second, had to commit to third, and thrown out to end the threat.

It was a nifty play, one that Feierabend and LaHair have perfected over the years in the minor leagues. Feierabend called it a "backdoor pick" and said the key is not an inattentive runner, but an inattentive first-base coach.

"If you have a coach at first base not paying attention and more worried about the hitter, you're going to catch a lot of guys at first base,'' Feierabend said.

For the record, the Yankees' first-base coach is Tony Pena, former KC Royals manager.

Poor Tony. Seems like a nice guy, but was an overrated ballplayer for most of his career, flash in the pan manager and now, a liability as first base coach. At least he can always hang his hat on the fact that he raised a successful major league ballplayer as a son. And that's the ultimate coaching job. OPS + is like a golf score right?

Weekend Questions

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fish baby.jpgHey kids, go there. Your friends are there. You like your friends.

  • WHAT else is going on besides those two series that Iracane hipped us to?

  • CAN Toronto keep playing mid-standings spoiler? They've got those front runnin' Rays in town this weekend, mere steps away from WoW's weekend HQ.

  • WILL CC and the Brewers stay comfortably in control of the Wild Card? San Diego is stopping by, so probably.

  • WHERE the hell is my raincoat?

  • CAN Minnesota bounce back from their pathetic road trip against the Tigers? Chicago begins the post-Quentin era against the Angels.

If I missed anything, you know what to do. Yell at me below. I hope you all have a solid weekend. Lloyd's taking it from here with in depth analysis and tunes you can savor over the morning paper. We gonna get more shrimp? I wouldn't bet against it.

We'll see you back here Monday. Until then, take good care. You too, Fish Baby.

Hal Bodley & Vince Naimoli: Someone Get The Hook

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One of the more annoying aspects of Tampa's miracle turnaround is the media's insistence on trying to send some of the credit back to the assorted boobs and incompetents that used to run the team. I already tore Chuck LaMar apart for his "hey what about me" cred grab. This week's guilty party is cranky old MLB doofus, Hal Bodley. Come along with me and marvel at the gall Bodley displays in praising former penny pinching owner, Vince Naimoli.

The first time I met Vince Naimoli was in August 1992 at a crowded Tampa International Airport coffee shop. The millionaire entrepreneur had just signed a $115 million deal with owner Bob Lurie to buy the San Francisco Giants and move them to St. Petersburg.

Naimoli was giddy and in a hurry that night. He talked about growing up in Paterson, N.J., and being a passionate baseball fan: "It was always the New York Giants."

Naimoli's enthusiasm quickly waned when he had the rug pulled out from under him a few weeks later. The National League put the Lurie-Naimoli deal on hold, deciding to consider offers from other investors who would keep the Giants in San Francisco.

Is he serious? This is the lede? This is supposed to endear this creep to us? Poor guy "had the rug pulled out from him" because he couldn't uproot an entrenched fanbase. It's too bad it was only a rug and not a second story patio.

As I follow the Tampa Bay Rays' unbelievable Cinderella ride this summer, the mind always wanders back to that night with Naimoli in 1992. For me that's where the Rays' marvelous season began.

I guess technically, but for most rational people it begins when Naimoli finally released his icy grip on the team and ceded control to Stu Sternberg. Bodley asserts that's Naimoli once "pumped money into the payroll" by signing Canseco, Boggs, Vaughn et al. The actual payroll still hovered somewhere around the modest $50M mark and the whole time he made specious claims that the team was losing money.

The bottom line is that while the old Naimoli/LaMar regime was in power, it was never good to be a Rays fan. They watched Arizona enter the league at the same time, and eventually claim a world series, while their team never moved one inch past expansion status. When they left, success arrived.

Yes, Vince Naimoli brought baseball to Tampa. What did he do with it after that? Nothing.

Kill The Umpire- 1950

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This week's Classic TV Friday brings us the trailer for the 1950 William Bendix flick, Kill The Umpire. Bendix was a batboy for the Yankees in 20s and would later play The Babe in the The Babe Ruth Story, which I remember as a pretty lousy film even when I was 8. Pride Of The Yankees it was not.

This one actually looks pretty entertaining, though. Anyone seen it?

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGHslllsssssssssssss... ouch. Oh man. Shit. Hslllsssssssssssss... Ow. Man. Dammit. Hslllsssssssssssss... Hslllsssssssssssss. Shit. Get away. Get away. Ouch. Hslllsssssssssssss. Stubbed my toe. Hslllsssssssssssss.

  • Jered Weaver, Angels: Jered Weaver is making it on the Freak Injury of the Year ballot after cutting his hand open on the bench. "I went to push to get up and gripped where the staples in the upholstery come together, and it just got me." Ouch. Reminds me of that one time I got stung on the ass by a bee because I sat on it.

  • Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles: Guthrie has been scratched from his next start due to arm fatigue. Too much Wii/Guitar Hero/masturbation for him! Now with the Tired Arm Joke Generator, you too can write a sports blog!

  • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youkilis has been battling back spasms all week and a is a game time decision tonight in Texas. The downtime has allowed Tim Naehring to settle comfortably into his new apartment in Youk's goatee.

  • Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Cubs: Shh. Harden's troubles are a secret. The Cubs were hoping no one would notice his start being pushed back. Zambrano had an MRI which revealed some inflammation and he promptly received a dose of cortisone. AND SUNSHINE.

  • Carlos Quentin, Ken Griffey, White Sox: Quentin has forearm stiffness and Griff has back stiffness. Now with the Erection Joke Generator, you too can write a sports blog!

  • Jesus Flores, Nats: The Washington cather got messed up good by Chutley. Chase Utley: environmentalist and cannonballing asshole.

Watch on Monday for a very very special edition of Creampuff from a guest author who writes much better than I do!

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, speak into the mic.

  • HOW will WoW favorite Shawn T. Estes fare in his first start in 3 months?

  • ARE the Yanks gon' sweep the Rays?

  • WILL the Twins end their government mandated road trip on a happy note in Toronto? I hope the stench has left the Twin Cities by the time they get home.
Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers and your familiar Friday favorites. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

GET UP AND DANCE

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THIS KID IMPLORES YOU.

Reincarnation: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Pirates at Reds: I haven't been to a county fair in a long time. Something about the combination of all that junk food and those carnival rides just seems like a recipe for a stomachache, no? I always had a soft spot for the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Zipper though. Maybe sometime this Fall. Oh what, you wanted me to talk about this game? Fat chance. Tom Gorzelanny takes on Josh Fogg.

  • 1:05, Angels at Tigers: Ervin "Magic Carlos" Santana takes on Kenny "I Was On Waivers But No Wants Me" Rogers in the battle for rubber and little else. Santana is on quite a run. Can you imagine if the Angels had a healthy Kelvim Escobar all year? That could have been a staff of epic proportions. Alas, they'll just have to be happy with their 90 or so wins.

Jason Giambi Uses Oldest Excuse In Book

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Jason Giambi came to the park yesterday looking like Rocky Balboa after 10 rounds with Drago. His right eye had a deep gash framed in grotesque purples and greens. You hate to see someone messed up like that, and "how'd it happen" is always the first question. So Jason, how'd it happen?

"I would like to have something to tell you, something like a fight or anything else," Giambi said. "But it was nothing like that. I walked into the bathroom door at the hotel and split it open."

The cut resembled a gash a boxer would get during a fight, but didn't keep Giambi out of the lineup.

"There was so much blood the maid probably was wondering where the body was hid," said Giambi

Sheesh. Other than "I fell down the stairs" is there a lamer coverup excuse? My first guess would have been that Giambi is getting punched in the face by his girlfriend, but this sounds like it was a pretty heavy blow. Something inflicted by someone with heft, and possibly some "augmented" strength. Anybody seen this guy lately?

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgHey kids, I know who stole that small charcoal grill off of your deck.

  • CAN the Twins get to AJ Burnett and keep pace with the White Sox?

  • WHO claims rubber in the Capital?

  • WILL the Dodgers make it 5 in a row and continue to drag things out in the NL West?

  • WILL the Rays fall to the Yankees again? It's another chance to see Carl Pavano, recently removed from the federal endangered species list!

Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Raiding The Texas Catcher Stash

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September is not just the magical time for call ups. It's also a time when a mild injury can give you the rest of the year off if you play for a lousy team. It's a Fall tradition like apple cider, the start of football, and college kids returning to absolutely destroy the city of Boston. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is getting his autumnal sabbatical on with a sore right forearm.

After the Rangers received Salty from the Braves in the Teixeira trade, it was well known that along with Gerald Laird, they were now sitting on two valuable young catchers. They've managed to hold to both of them, but that may soon be over. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News says Laird is none too happy to still be platooning after Saltalamacchia's injury. This time with unfortunately named olympian Taylor Teagarden.

"I'm real disappointed. It looks like I'm only going to get half the games. What can I say? I'll do the best I can. But they have to decide this off-season. I'm kind of tired of this stuff. I feel like they owe it to all of us to make a decision. I just want some clarity. If they're going to go with one of them, then give me a chance to go somewhere else.

"I don't want to be doing this the next couple of years. I feel honestly like this was may be my last month as a Ranger. I feel almost like my time here is almost over. I love it here, but I want a chance to play everyday. I'm not saying I want to be traded. I just don't want to deal with this situation again. I just want to know going into camp if I'm going to have a chance to play everyday.''

To clarify. He's not asking to be traded. But you better frickin' trade him. Gerald Laird refuses to be your doormat. Don't go breaking his heart.

One of the three will certainly go, but I'm not well versed enough in their comparative values to guess which one and where to for how much. I do know that the two aging monoliths of the AL East would be excited to take someone off his haunches in Arlington.

Flee On Your Donkey: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:05, White Sox at Indians: No one wants to win the AL Central. It's official. The White Sox have lost two in a row to Cleveland, and the Twins lost at Toronto. Won't someone think of the children? Things are shaping up to make the White Sox/Twins series starting on 9/23 the biggest tilt of the year. But for today, I'm sure Ozzie's crew would love to avoid the broom closet as Javy Vasquez takes on Jeremy Sowers. And hey, how about those Indians! A late charge towards competency so that everyone keeps their job. Sounds like my last office. Catch the fever!

  • 1:10 Braves at Marlins: After last night's 30 run barnburner, the South will early rise again. Jorge Campillo takes on Chris Volstad. If they score 30 again, everyone gets a free Miami Sub courtesy of Iracane.

  • 1:35, Orioles at Red Sox: The Sox also batted around heartily last evening. Everytime Dustin Pedroia came up there were chants of "MVP" which seemed a tad (very) overwrought, but then the Munchkin drove in 5, so what the hell do I know. I bow to your wisdom, Sully. Lance "Blisters" Cormier takes on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

  • 2:05, Mets at Brewers: New York looks to pull out the dustpan in impressive fashion against Milwaukee. The Crew was streaking into Shea. Not only that, they had won 8 of 9, which is really impressive when you're naked. Oliver Perez has won 4 of his last 5 decisions takes that grain of salt to the mound against Dave Bush and Rob gon' glog it.

  • 2:05, Mariners at Rangers: Felix Hernandez takes on Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton! Also some other stuff happens. Dustin Nippert goes for Tayhoss.

  • 3:05, Giants at Rockies: Colorado sits just 5 games out and would like nothing more than to drink from the healing bristles of a San Fran sweep. Barry Zito faces Aaron Cook. No wonder Zito has had a rough year. HE'S BEEN PITCHING IN JEANS.

  • 3:40, Cards at Snakes: There's rubber at stake as Kyle Lohse takes on Doug Davis. Look at the chin pubes on these two. The Cards are now 5.5 out of the Wild Card and my only regret is that they hung on this long. Welp, time for a team wide bender!

Tonight's Questions

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lobsterbaby2.JPGHey kids, get it while you can.


Then stop by tomorrow for all the answers. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

Horrifying September Call Up Gorestravaganza

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You're done with lunch, right? Good. Let me introduce you to Cubs catching call up, Koyie Hill. Yes, his first name is pretty disturbing but that's nothing compared to the medical tribulations he endured last fall in his home wood shop. Oh yeah, you know where this is going.

The 29-year-old catcher, who played for the Cubs last year and was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Monday morning, had his right thumb and three fingers on his right hand sewn back on after nearly losing them completely in a table saw accident.

Not only did Hill make a complete comeback, he also retained his sense of humor.

"You had to learn how to give high-fives all over again," he said.

The accident occurred last Oct. 16 when Hill, an aspiring architect, was making a window frame for his house. The table saw he was using got stuck in the wood and managed to cut through his thumb, his pinkie, ring finger and middle finger, leaving him bloodied and in severe pain. Hill was taken to an emergency room, and a hand specialist was called upon to reattach the fingers.

So after I read that, I passed out. When I came to, I continued reading to learn that Hill considers his hand "custom made." Then I passed out again before I could read why. Then I read why.

"Catching is easy," Hill said. "Thank God it wasn't my left hand. They added enough bones to my middle finger to where it moves some. They had me hold a ball in my left hand to see where my finger was placed so when they sewed it back on it was fixed in a position. So you could say it was actually built for playing baseball now, which is something a baseball player always wanted."

Word on the street that the added bones in his finger came from the "Wood/Prior Scope Shavins" jar at the Lincoln Park Hospital. So anyway, best of luck to Hill. If he has a successful September at the plate I'm going to kidnap Jason Varitek and slam his hand in a car door.

Doug Melvin Sees Things As They Should Be, And Asks Why Not

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By now you've all heard/seen the brouhaha over CC Sabathia's near no hitter, blemished only by his own mistake fielding from the mound. There are only two opinions to have here. Not "it was a hit" or "it was an error." They're actually "I don't give a damn it happened 3 days ago and is an ultimately meaningless individual achievement" or "I care."

Brewers GM Doug Melvin cares. He cares deeply. He cares to the point that he sat in his thinking chair all weekend, waving away his wife with a grunt each time she offered him a glass of iced tea. Then he came up with the following totally ridiculous utopian scenario.

Doug Melvin said he thought a committee should decide scoring decisions like the one that may have cost Sabathia a no-hitter in the Brewers' 7-0 victory over the Pirates on Sunday. One official scorer is used in all baseball games until the World Series, where a three-person panel reviews scoring plays.

"There could be possible reviews to see if there's a better way of doing it where there's not all the pressure put on one individual," Melvin said Monday.

He suggested a three-member panel consisting of an official scorer and two writers.

And they could be on top of a mountain and wear velvet robes and have engravings of the play in question brought to them by a sherpa. Melvin claims he thought of this a long time ago and not just because of the Sabathia situation. I don't believe him at all.

Here are some other ideas from "Doug Melvin's Things That Could Be Think Tank."

  • There could be dogs that tell you the day's weather when you wake up in the morning. Those would be better than the dogs we have now.

  • There could be a couch that is inflated with beer, or soda if you don't drink, with a straw built into the armrest. When the couch was empty and you were sitting on the floor you would know it was time to buy more beer (or soda).

  • Fruit could have screwtops so you could just pour out the juice.

  • Inventors could take The Jetsons more seriously.
© 2008 Doug Melvin's Things That Could Be Think Tank