Kris Liakos: April 2009 Archives

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News out of Tampa is that Alex Rodriguez could be back even sooner than you expected, Yankee fans! And don't lie to me... you're all really stoked. A-Rod pulled the oldest trick in the book. He took a page out of Joni Mitchell/Amy Grant/Counting Crows' playbook and was like "Listen you Dagos, you don't know what you've got till it's gone." You paved Yankee Stadium and put up a parking lot. Now the second best hitter in baseball is back and you're all gonna be like "Sorry we doubted you. Please come back! We're 4 games behind the Blue Jays!"

Dr. Marc Philippon watched the three-time AL MVP's on-field workout Wednesday at the Yankees minor league complex and said Rodriguez could return to the majors ahead of his May 15 target date.

"He's looking good. Looking awesome,'' Philippon said.

Rodriguez slid five times on a sliding mat for the second time, ran the bases and took 112 swings in regular batting practice.

Philippon said after watching Wednesday's session that "it's crystal clear'' that Rodriguez will be strong when he returns to the Yankees.

"Are we starting to get excited? Yes,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday night in Detroit before the series finale against the Tigers. "He's taken several steps this week and not had any setbacks.''

Did you read that? According to Dr. Marc Phillipon... WHO IS A DOCTOR, Rodriguez went from good to awesome within the span of a single sentence. That's progress with a capital prog. Not only is Rodriguez going to hit an assload of dingers in that new stadium, if MLB can approve his sliding mat, he'll steal a bunch of bases too.

But seriously, A-Rod is back soon. It's proven that you can come back from this injury if you're a good player. So I'm sure it won't be a problem for a great player. Now go trade him for a pitcher.

UPDATE: At least there's no newly-revealed steroid allegations or hilarious nicknames about Alex that might stoke the flames of discord. - Rob

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Early on in WoW history I declared my love for the Blue Jays blog over at the Toronto Star. It wasn't that it was very insightful or anything. It was just really weird. At some point I stopped reading any of them except Richard Griffin. He's the only one that shows up in my RSS feed. But that's fine because as far as totally insane Blue Jays coverage, he's all I need. Last winter I characterized his writing as fueled by cheap hooch and diminishing faculties. Well judging by the latest installment of his "Griff's Power Rankings" his light speed trip to dementia is progressing well. For those of you unfamiliar with the GRP, it's an arbitrary list of what he thinks are the best teams in baseball followed by a one liner. Which rarely has anything to do with the quality of the team. Let's go to the highlights!

(Last week's rankings in parentheses)

3-Marlins (1)

Congrats Dave Van Horne 40 years in radio

4-Blue Jays (9)

Like ranking Kriss Angel on most powerful men list

6-Yankees (5)

C.C. + A.J.= SNAFU + S.O.S.

14-Royals (16)

Zack Greinke, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser??? Who does not belong?

19-Padres (18)

Pads are like Robin Hood stealing wins from the rich with buddy Friar Suck.

21-Orioles (20)

Zaun struggling for playing time

The Marlins one has nothing to do with the team. The Blue Jays one is dated, creepy and makes no sense. The Yankees one is from a puzzle book for people that don't understand equations or acronyms. The Royals one seems like a question on an entrance exam for old age. The Padres one makes no sense and features a really gratuitous suck. The Orioles one may be my favorite though. GIVE ZAUN SOME PLAYING TIME AND THIS TEAM IS BACK IN THE THICK OF IT.

Griff's Power Rankings are one of my favorite reads of the week. Until I remember that he gets paid for this.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Across 110th Street

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Here's what happened in baseball last night, while pushers wouldn't let the junkie go free.

Tigers 4, Yankees 2: Magglio Ordonez hit a 3 run tater tot in the sixth that proved the difference in the evening. The Yankees made a comeback bid in the 9th that was foiled by a Jorge Posada double play ball. Justin Verlander struck out 9 over 7 scoreless innings. I should have picked The Tilde over Miguel Cabrera in the PPP.

Red Sox 3, Indians 1: This game flew by faster then the weirdos at this past weekend's Street Meet. It was all double plays and scoreless innings until the ninth when Kerry Wood gave up a 3 run Happy Jack to the insanely hot hitting Jason Bay. Think he's a little happier this year? Papelbon had his own hiccups in the ninth but was able to escape. The Red Sox have an 11 game winning streak.

Astros 4, Reds 1: Hunter Pence: Hero Dawg. That would be an OK cartoon. His two run double broke a 1-1 stalemate in the ninth. Roy Oswalt scattered 10 Dusties over 7, making his best start of the season... since the last time he faced this team.

Mets 7, Marlins 1: The Fish never had a chance in this one. The Mets tagged Anibal Sanchez for 6 runs in the first. He stayed in the game for 6 innings but the offense never dug out of the whole, seemingly baffled by John Maine. Omir Santos had a tot for the Mets. I saw him hit two homeruns in a Spring game this year but was told by various New York beat writers in the press box that he had no chance of making the team. Whoops.

Baseball Before Bedtime: Via Chicago

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Here's what the shit happened in baseball yesterday while I knew I'd make it back one of these days and turn on your TV to watch a man with a face like mine being chased down a busy street.

Cincinnati 8, Atlanta 2: Jay Bruce hit two home runs but the main reason that this is the lead story is because Rob and I are in some league over at the exceptional Razzball where we're supposed to pick the worst team possible. It's very clever and one of these days we'll update our roster. But anyway, some dude in that league, and I honestly can't remember which site he was from, drafted Micah Owings and I said that I thought it was a bad pick because I thought Owings was going to have a good year. He basically called me a retard and said I knew nothing about baseball. And he was right until last night. HOW YOU LIKE OWINGS' 1 ER ALLOWED AND 2 HITS IN 7IP, ANONYMOUS INTERNET DICK?

Blue Jays 4, White Sox 3: Roy Halladay pitched like a mere mortal, but Scott Rolen had the game winning single in the 8th to give Toronto rubber after opposing blowouts. I believe the pitch he hit was a "who gives a damn what I throw it's Scott Rolen, he's old" on the outside corner. That pitch hasn't been very effective lately.

Cubs 10, Cards 3: Baby Bears Dodge Dustpan on Fukudome's career high 5 RBI... OH HIS BIRTHDAY! WHEEE! See that's just another difference between the US and Japan. Here, on your birthday anything you accomplish is endowed with greater significance by virtue of it just being your birthday. Over there, someone draws you a picture of some sort of Demon Fish having sex with your family.

Rox 10, Dodgers 4: Colorado Crushers Sidestep Sweep and Clint Barmes uses a venison corked bat to hit his third tater tot of the season. I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me.

Angels 8, Mariners 0: Anaheim Avoids Broom Bristles with twin tater tots. Howie Kendrick donged along with Juan Rivera. They hit them off Jarrod Washburn who we should have drafted in the Razzball league. HE SUCKS.

Weekend Questions

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baby-lobster.jpg Hey kids, you tried to swim across the sea and you almost made it.

  • ARE there any games for me to go to this weekend in Boston?

  • IF the Marlins take, say, two out of three from The Phillies then Florida locks down the best April in MLB, right?

  • WILL that "other" rivalry put any more space between the Cubs and Cards?

  • CAN the Reds keep streaking in Atlanta? Volquez starts tonight and he's due for a good one after two consecutive stinkers.

  • WILL this weekend's series light a fire under the asses of either Minnesota or Cleveland? Nick Blackburn is making me look dumb.

  • CAN I put an asterik next to the term "first place Blue Jays" until they play someone from the division? I know, I know, they don't write the schedule but still. It's weird. They have the White Cocks this weekend.

  • WHO has the upper hand in Arizona? With Timmy going tonight, I'd like to say the Giants, but we all know the real answer is CHUCK CECIL!

  • DO you realize what your state's official rock song is? And was there a giant political battle of attrition over it like there was in Oklahoma? I just think it's interesting that there are some people that still find the Flaming Lips edgy. PLAY "GUY WHO GOT A HEADACHE..."

  • WILL the Tigers score any runs off of Zack Grienke tonight? No one's done it since last September.

That's it for us. I hope you have a great weekend. Drew (nee Lloyd) will be here this weekend doing what we do better than we do. You know the drill. So be well, enjoy what seems to be nice weather across the entire damned country and one last time, help out Sara, if you can.

We'll see you Monday. You know it, you love, you same WoW channel it. You too, Lobster Baby.

Since 1993: A Tribute To Rod Beck

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Ok, so this isn't technically "Classic Television" because: 1. It was never on TV and B. It's from last year. But that does absolutely nothing to distract from its epic awesomeness. In tribute to Rod Beck, here's a jangly twangy reverby song about the man, his moustache, his arm and his love of beer.

Please to enjoy.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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You know what hurts? I'll tell you what hurts. Getting smacked in the face with a shovel. THAT hurts. Once one of these ballplayers misses a game because he got smacked in the face with a shovel I'll stop calling these guys creampuffs, ninnies, nancies, fruits, flakes, fragile porcelain mice, and wimps. But not until then. Now, they are still all of the above.

  • Brian McCann, Braves: McCann had blurry vision all week that has now been corrected with a contact lense. I think he's been reading in the dark like his mom told him not to. AND eating cookies in bed.

  • Rocco Baldelli, Jed Lowrie Red Sox: Oh, Rocco. We just love you too damn much around here, esp now that you and I are Bros For Life. We're not going to say anything bad about your hamstring strain. We're just going to hold our breath until you get off the 15 day DL. I'll probably pass out after like 2 minutes, but whatever. Lowrie had wrist surgery and will be swinging a bat again in 6 weeks. He'll continue to be a swinger, sexually, throughout his entire rehab.

  • Marcus Thames, Tigers: This week's midsection sickie . He has a "severe" ribcage strain. I just did a google image search for "strained rib cage" cause I had this witty joke I was gonna make. It's all pictures of baseball players. I guess that's a good enough joke right there.

  • Andrew Miller, Jorge Cantu, Marlins: Guess what Miller has. Nope, not lice. Good guess though. Oblique strain! He's on the deel. Burke Badenhop replaces him on the roster instantly overtaking Kelly Johnson as the girliest named player in MLB. And that's saying something. My name is Kris. Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu has a minor wrist thing. In his abdomen. Wait, what?

  • Darren Oliver, Angels: Oliver is the sixth Angels pitcher to land on the deel already. And Kelvim Escobar had a setback. That's tough stuff. Where is Christopher Lloyd when you need him? No not because of that movie, but because I pay him to mow my lawn. And it needs mowing.

  • Doug Mientkiewicz, Dodgers: Florida State Seminole Doug Mientkiewicz had shoulder surgery and will be out until September. That's a long time to be without a lousy hitter and late inning defensive replacement. Tread lightly Dodger fans.

  • Ryan Doumit, Pirates: Doomy (that's what I call him) is out about 2 months with a broken wrist bone. Which is connected to the hand bone. Which is often connected to a High Life.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.

  • DID you know that Rob joined me this year in the New York Daily News Player Pick Pool? And that I'm killing him?

  • WHO will take rubber between the White Sox and O's? The O's are a game under .500 now and could be settling even lower starting riiiiight abooooouuut.... now.

  • ARE the pitiful Astros going to sweep those first place Dodgers? Not if Chad Blillingsley has anything to say about it! Which he probably does but I can't be bothered to ask him.

  • WILL KIng Felix start pitching like the Cy Young winner we picked him to be and grab rubber against Tampa?

  • CAN the Blue Jays maintain their tenuous grasp on first place against the recently unhittable Kevin Millwood and the Rangers.

  • ANY of my local peeps have an in at the IFF Boston? I reeeeeaaaallly wanna see the Luis Tiant movie Saturday night. Hook a blogger up, please.

That's almost it for today pals, but I do wanna say one more thing. Rarely do we get too personal on this site, but I'm gonna lift the veil a little bit and tell you about the medical plight of my good friend Sara Phillips. She's suffered from ulcerative colitis for her whole life and during Law School finals over this past winter at Michigan State was studying so intensely and stressfully that she was unable to monitor a flare up of her condition. Her immune system dropped to such a dangerously low level that an infection spread in her leg so rapidly that it had to be amputated.

Sara is a funny, smart and warm person that is always great to be around. And she loves Bob Dylan. My kinda girl. She had/has student health insurance through Michigan State, but that money was more or less gone the night her leg was amputated. All treatment and medication is now paid for out of pocket and she faces several more surgeries. Her parents have left their lives and jobs in Florida to move to Michigan and help Sara through this huge change in her life. They have used all of their savings paying a mortgage in Florida, rent in Michigan, and the medical bills that will not stop coming in anytime soon. Needless to say, they need help.

Her friends have set up a website where you can read more about her story, and if you have it, donate a couple of bucks to help her family pay for her continued treatment. She's a damn cool kid and her courage thus far has been inspriring. I'm not sure what else to say.

We'll see you all back here tomorrow for Friday Fun. It's gonna be wicked nice out but we'll still slave over a hot laptop for ya. Maybe there's WiFi in the park. Same WoW channel.

Yellow Beak: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Twins at Red Sox: Rain makeup from last night means that Tim Wakefield and Scott Baker the Touchdown Maker get to face off in the day part of a day-night doubleheader. Why a day-night doubleheader? Because these two games are the only time Minnesoter is scheduled to play in Fenway all season, which spells bad news for Olaf Anderssen out in Saugus.

  • 12:35, Marlins at Pirates: Ricky "The Neighborhood" Nolasco and the Marlins take on the unhittable Paul Maholm and the Screw You, We're Over .500 Pirates. I haven't been this excited for a matchup of Pirate and Fish since Captain Hook had sex with that Alligator. While Smee videotaped it.

  • 1:05, A's at Yankees: Oh yeah, afternoon ball at The House That Mark DeRosa Built. CC goes for the Yankees. Is he related to CeCe Peniston? How the hell did she never change her name for show business? Brett Anderson for the A's.

  • 2:00, Walkoff Walk Whiparound Liveglog Coverage: Rob will attempt to cover the end of the early games and the start of the late afternoon games, which could easily end in disaster.

  • 3:40, Rox at Snakes: Dan Haren a man who is single handedly out to prove that W-L need to be entirely struck from teh record books, goes for the homies and Jorge De La Rosa (Spanish for Jorge Of La Rosa) goes for the Roxtapril Roxkateers of Roxville. Rox. This game seems like there should be pico de gallo on it.

  • 3:45, Padres at Giants: Young Barry Zito now has an ERA of 10.00 and the Giants are already sinking. Ouch. The Bros have won 3 of their last 4 coming into this series to stay tight with the Trolley Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez is good, y'all.

The Manny Pacquiao Bobblehead Wants 55% Of Your Peanuts

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That there, kids, is a genuiiiine Manny Pacquiao bobblehead given out at last night's Dads/Giants game. Pacquiao also threw out the first pitch, ostensibly for the Giants' annual "Filipino Heritage Night," but it doesn't hurt that (now that it's actually happening) his upcoming fight with Ricky Hatton is one of the year's most highly anticipated bouts. I mean, it's not like Tedy Bruschi or the members of Hotdog were busy. Cross promotion is all the commotion.

HBO is pimping the fight with their always entertaining 24/7 series. My prediction for the fight? Hatton over Pacquiao in 5, then Pacquiao becomes the cleanup hitter for the Giants, with his bobblehead hitting sixth.

(Thanks commenter extraordianire Phillas for the pic. That's his bobble, y'all.)

Why Does Everyone Care So Much About The Moneyball Movie?

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Yesterdays news that Demetri Martin is playing Paul DePodesta in the film was treated as one's of the day's biggest stories. It's a Soderbergh movie, it's got Pitt in it*. It oughta be ok. I'm tired of hearing about it everyday, but I think I understand why I have to.

Moneyball showed your dad that RBIs were subjective and that AVG was highly fallible. It turned Joe Morgan into sports blogging's equivalent of the Star Wars Kid. Mainstream recognition of the novel in 2003 validated to a larger audience the already great work being done by any number of highly talented bloggers. It was integral in getting our section of the internet out there and opening up opportunites for our best writers. But it's that connection that the book has to the internet that makes the goddamned casting updates constant RSS fodder for hemming, hawing and assorted other rending of garments.

Perhaps the weight of expectation on this movie is that it will somehow keep advanced statistics out of, or forever welcome them into, the public consciousness based on its quality. But outside of whatever people call the fictional country us sports blog denizens inhabit these days, Moneyball will be discussed like every other film adaptation ever made. Critics will like it because of Soderbergh and Pitt. People that just read the book because they're sports fans will probably think it's ok, but not as good as the book. But around the online sports cabal it's going to be dissected like a fetal pig in biology course just in case it says it says something larger about our place in culture. Which it won't. I think I'll get a waiver and sit that one out.

*I'm Clooney

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, two trains leave Courthouse Square at 5:40 PM.

Class dismissed. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

(Rob's note: I'm going back to New Yankee Stadium tonight, wish me luck, and listen to my appearance on Dan Levy's On the DL Podcast)

(Flickr user heidigoseek provided the decor)

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Our friend John Branch from the New York Times' Bats, sheds some new light on a story that I've read about so many damned times, it's unbelivable to me that people still write about it. The Times did yet another piece on baseball's army of authenticators that install secret holograms on milestone balls and bats and basically put any fan that catches one in a chokehold then secrets them off to some subterranean memoribilia chamber. It's all stuff you've read about but Branch airs more of baseball's dirty laundry. Apparently baseball players are really attached to their pants.

At the Yankee Stadium opener last Thursday, authenticators collected the jerseys worn by the Yankees players. The team also wanted the pants to be authenticated, but players need to continue wearing them each day. (Apparently, it is fine to swap out jerseys on a daily basis, but don't mess with a player's pants.) So authenticators, using invisible ink and other marking techniques that they did not want to discuss, marked each player's pants. Some time, perhaps at the end of the season, the pants will be collected (for sale or auction), and officials will be able to ascertain that they were worn in the season opener.

Spectacular! You think you have what it takes to draw all over Nick Swishers trousers with a blacklight pen? I bet during the final examination at season's end those things are going to look like a crime scene. David Caruso is going to have to be called in to determine whether or not these were the pants Swisher wore on opening day or the ones he used to commit a string of hobo sex attacks.

Why is this news? Because it has the words "pants" in it. And that's always funny.

The Lesson As Always: The Red Sox Get Whatever They Want

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Yesterday, Rob excorciated some aspects of the exalted new Yankee Stadium, and frankly it was one of my favorite pieces he's written for this dadgum site. His comments about about unwavering devotion to a team clouding common sense or even one's appreciation for the actual game of baseball is something he and I have discussed. As you may have noticed, I'm a Red Sox fan. My peers aren't exactly a dispassionate bunch. They refer to themselves as a Nation, have a President and to that end I'm sure the rest of baseball wouldn't really object if they seceded.

Like any insanely one-sided relationship, Red Sox fans can see no wrong in the actions of their club. They love them unconditionally even when they're fleecing the very people that have helped to support them. As RSN has become a huge cottage industry, a financially struggling press even has to be called into question when reporting on the team. After all, this abomination is actually affilliated with The Boston Globe.

All this is to shed some light on a story about the Red Sox that continued last night, but is so under the radar here in Boston as to practically not exist. It's relationship to the city is small, but what it says about the organization's priorities should be important to its fans.

In a nutshell, the Red Sox have been grumbling for years about their Spring Training facility in Ft. Myers, City of Palms Park. The stadium, while not new, is still one of the best looking and well appropriated of any in Florida. It's amenities were good from every angle I saw, and that wasn't the Red Sox gripe. The major "problem" for the team was that it was a so called single site facility, without the back fields for minor league squads that most of the other parks in Florida have. The Red Sox minor league facilities are a couple of miles down the road. To remedy this inconvienience the Red Sox held the city of Ft. Myers ransom for a brand new stadium, and got their way.

Beginning last summer, the team found leverage in the city of Sarasota. Once the Reds announced plans to leave, Sarasota was staring at a 2010 Spring without a team and heavily courted the Sox. Ft. Myers, a city with the highest per capita foreclosure rate in the country and an unemployment rate 3 pts higher than the already high state average couldn't afford to lose the tourism revenue that comes with Spring. A couple of business owners I talked to in Winter Haven, former home of the Indians, estimated they could lose as much as 15-20% of their annual business by not having Spring Training this year. Surely Ft. Myers could have also used the $100 million in initial investment for this project, but were stuck between the Sox and a hard place.

Opposition is now moot. Public hearings on site selection started last night. After successfully quashing debate about what former Ft. Myers mayor Wilbur Smith called the most one-sided deal I've ever seen, dissent can now only be excercised about where to put this thing.

All around the state, abandoned Spring Training sites are scrambling to make up lost revenue, though minor league deals can't come close to replicating the cash generated by big clubs and their snowbird fans. And Sox brass will talk about the new stadium construction creating jobs in an underemployed area but well, we've already been over that. It's all nonsense. What the Red Sox did in Ft. Myers was nothing short of a stickup job, and they got away scot free.

Weekend Questions

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fish baby.jpg Hey kids, fists of rage.


That does it for us this week. We're back at 100% on Monday. Lloyd will take you through the weekend on his usual Magic Carpet Ride. You don't know what. You can find. Same WoW Channel. See you all Monday. You too, Fish Baby,

Andre The Giant Chokes Bob Uecker - 1988

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This one was a no brainer for me. You know how we love Bob Uecker around these parts, and I was quite the wrestling fan as a kid. Rob thinks wrestling is low class but any of you that listened to the podcast the other night heard him say that he puts arugula on his pizza so, you know, take that with a grain of salt.

In any case, he's sick today and not blogging so... ANDRE THE GIANT CHOKING BOB UECKER!

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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newstretcher.JPGDid you know it takes over one week to install a new DC IN on a laptop? Me either until this week! So I'm traveling, unfortunately without my computer. Creampuff is being brought to you this week from an internet "cafe" in New York where I just literally fed bills into the CPU like it was a vending machine. And there's no coffee anywhere. Good times. Stupid Creampuff'd laptops.

  • Yuniel Escobar, Braves: Escobar injured himself in the on deck circle by jumping up and down. And once again, another athlete is cut short in his prime by having ants in his pants. Tragic.

  • Melvin Mora, Alfredo Simon, Orioles: Mora hurt his hamstring and is out for about two weeks. The rookie, Simon could be out much longer with "degenerative issues" in his shoulder. Very vague, but I'm going to guess his elbow got caught up in either gambling, prostitution or reading With Leather. Zing!

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jed Lowrie, Red Sox: Matsuzaka has arm fatigue which is very problematic for me on two levels. One, he's a starter for my favorite team and two, now Rob gets to squawk about hopw bad the WBC is for pitchers. Blech. Lowrie has had wrist problems but will not need surgery, however doctors did need to use the jaws of life to remove his Livestrong bracelet.

  • Milton Bradley, Cubs: Milton has been unable to start thus far while nursing a groin injury, but he pinch hit last night. And was promptly ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Milton Bradley. A hero to frail hotheads across America, and one of my favorite players.

  • DeWayne Wise, White Sox: Across town, the DeWayne Wise leadoff experiment is probably over for now as he was put on the deel with a separated shoudler. He'll be gone almost two months. Bad news for him and for our t-shirt makers.

  • Kaz Matsui, Brian Moehler, Astros: Matsui was kept out of the lineup this week with a stiff back. But everyone say it with me now, "at least it wasn't an anal fissure like last year!" Moehler has a Grade 1 MCL sprain and won't be able to chip away at his 27.00 ERA anytime soon

  • Alex Gordon, Royals: Hey remember last week when Alex Gordon had "finally arrived" as an impact player? Well his hip couldn't handle all that success and he's having surgery to repair some torn cartlage. Cartilage of the future!

  • Matt Stairs, Phillies: Raped by a wallaby.

  • Vlad Guerrero, Angels: This quote is taken from the ESPN.com injuries page:

    "After the game [Wednesday], the chest muscle near the shoulder was bothering me more than the previous game," Guerrero said. "I did a little self-examination and thought it was more swollen than before. The trainers have me going back to L.A. to have it checked."

    I can't be the only one that read that and decided he's going back to LA to have a mammogram, right?

  • Xavier Nady, Yankees: Nady is on the deel with elbow problems but is having more tests done in the hopes avoiding surgery. I did the same thing once when I got stabbed. I went for a second opinion and the doctor was like, "Yeah dude, you definitely got stabbed." Turned out to be more of a waste of time and co-payments than anything else. Just have the surgery, X-Man.

  • Kenji Jojima, Mariners: The M's backstop injured his hammy and landed on the DL. Perfect opening for Jeff Clement, right? Nope. Dude is hitting .053 in AAA and the team actually has him fielding grounders at first. That can't be a good sign from a once can't miss sounding prospect. 37 year old Jamie Burke is your new Seattle catcher.

  • Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: Well that was a fun comeback, huh? Carpenter made two starts then tore an oblique muscle. For a Cardinals fan this has to be the equivalent of getting one of those really elaborate slot car tracks when you were a kid. You know, the ones that worked once and then never again.

  • Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays: According to the AP Jesse Litsch "broke the #1 rule of pitching. Trying to pitch through arm pain." This landed him on the DL with forearm pain. I always thought the #1 rule of pitching was "Don't turn around and throw a tomato into centerfield." Because, 1. the batter is in the other direction and B. a tomato is not a baseball.

(UPDATE: I'm pretty sure the old lady behind the counter here just got rickroll'd and let the whole song play. There was no music before or after.)

No Comprende

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Due to techinical difficulties, Walkoff Walk will not be seen for the rest of today. God Bless America.

The Fury Of Guitars And Sopranos: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:10, Marlins at Braves: Break out the broom Matilda, the Marlins are goddamned good. Anibal Sanchez, he of the 5 innings of scoreless baseball faces off against Kenshin Kawakami, he of the 6 ok innings. I am Lothar, Of The Hill People.

  • 12:35, Astros at Pirates: Cecil Cooper's Astros won on the same day I lit his chair on fire. Note to all Houston fans: If you give me money I'll go on a real spree and you'll win the World Series. I accept PayPal and coffee. Russ Ortiz vs. Jeff Karstens.

  • 1:05, Indians at Yankees: It's Lee vs. Sabathia in the Battle to see WHO IS THE BEST LEFTHANDER STARTING IN THIS GAME!!! The Indians won last night too after I lit Wedge's chair on fire. I guess baseball managers are no different from every one else in the world... just waiting around for their chance to make me look stupid. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: DMAC GON' GLOGGIT.

  • 2:20: Cardinals at Cubs: It's the most underrated rivalry in sports... wah wah... why does everyone hate the midwest... wah wah. I don't hate the midwest. In fact I love it. Favorite part of the country. I just hate the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright vs. Sean Marshall.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, if you don't get my letter you know that I'm in jail..


Tomorrow, a special Thursday Liveglog and other assorted dry goods. Same WoW Channel.

Kris Liakos Lights Your Seat On Fire: Managers In Trouble

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So last year my "who's gonna get fired" piece was some convoluted schtick about USC and how they like to hire former pro coaches. That was stupid, but I still got 2 out of 3 correct. For this year's edition I'm dispensing with the conceit and just marching straight into the following managers' offices and lighting their desk chairs on fire.

  • Cecil Cooper, Astros: You know what's a foolproof way to get your new Herman Miller Aeron turned into a white hot fireball? Get behind the Pirates in the standings. The Astros have scored an astounding 16 runs so far this year. That's 9 less THAN THE GIANTS. They've hit .171 with RISP. And their pitching is not good either. They're allowing 1.75 baserunners per inning. Apart from Oswalt and The Puma, there's no one even on this roster you could see "turning it around." Sorry, Cecil. /strikes match

  • Eric Wedge, Indians: So Cleveland should do better this season. we've all agreed on that. But if they don't, and they've looked awful thus far, I think Wedge is in trouble. Their 81-81 record last season belies how much they looked like underachievers. Following an offseason where they made some relatively well publicized moves, another .500 or below season has me charging at both Wedge and GM Mark Shapiro's plush seats with a Bic lighter and can of hair spray.

  • Bob Melvin, Snakes: Melvin probably gets a little more leeway because his team is young. No seriously, did you know that? The Diamonbacks are young. I only read it 35 times a day so I can't be totally sure if it's true but I think it may be. Brandon Webb has missed two starts now with a vague shoulder soreness. Davis and Garland have pitched well so far, but are league average pitchers and will be back there soon. If Webb's absence becomes prolonged and the bats don't pick up (27 runs scored, good for 24th in baseball) it's not hard to imagine the Diamondbacks hovering around third place for the season, in one of baseball's worst divisions. That doesn't do much for a manager and justifies the KENNY ROGERS ROAST JOB I'M DOING ON HIS SWIVEL CHAIR. BURN BABY BURN MUAAAHAHAHHAHA!

  • Manny Acta, Nationals: Since the Nationals don't even have a GM, just an "acting GM" Acta is probably safe until that position is filled. But this team looks like it may go 0-162. I'm going to take this barrel of fish and shoot it. Then light it on fire.

Self Portrait At Twenty Years: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: After yesterday's day for ducks, these two squads both pushed back their starters to keep the following guys on schedule. John Danks is off until Thursday for the White Sox and Rick Porcello got pushed back to Sunday so today it's Armando Gallaraga time for the Tigers. He's not too shabby. If it rains today God will join his son, Josh Beckett, with a 6 game suspension.

  • 2:10, Indians at Royals: Sidney Ponson makes his second start of the season. He pitched meh in his first start against the Yankees allowing 4 runs through 6, but Trey Hillman liked the "way he battled." That's also what I'd say about it if I had no business running a major league baseball team. Rollercoaster Aaron Laffey goes for the Indians to try and prevent a very embarassing trip to KC's dustpan.

  • 2:20, Rockies at Cubs: WoW Cy Young Pick Rich Harden takes the mound today as Aramis Ramirez and Geo Soto return to the Cubs lineup after ouchies. Could be a long day in Roxtapril. Fukudome is off to a hot start for the Cubs, while no one is really hot for the Rockies. They were one hit yesterday. But the most intriguing question, will Jason Marquis be welcomed back to Wrigley with cheers, jeers, or disinterested trips to the bathroom?

  • 3:35, Red Sox at A's: Man last night's game was a heartbreaker. If the Sox are gonna lose on a walkoff and I'm up until 2 in the morning listening on the radio, COULD YOU AT LEAST MAKE IT A WALK? Dice-K pitched lousy and now arm fatigue could land him on the deel. Today 42 year old Tim Wakefield goes for Boston and 21 year old Brett Anderson goes for Oakland. I see frm Anderson's B-R page that he was born in Midland, TX. I remember that town from Friday Night Lights. Brett Anderson is now Boobie Anderson.

  • 3:40, Cardinals at Snakes: Rubber in Phoenix. Arizona's 10th inning win on a hit by noted fruit Eric Byrnes was high drama. After scoring just 4 runs in their previous 3 games, Arizona would like to keep it going today but JOEL PINIERO STANDS IN THEIR WAY. Jon Garland pitches for the hometown team.

  • 4:08, Yankees at Rays: Andy Pettite takes on Andy Sonnanstine, andy I hate both of these teams. LAST PLACE BLUES, Y'ALL.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, listen to more Faron Young.

  • ARE you ready for the WoWF5 endorsed Series Of The Week? It's Marlins at Braves! GET PUMPED!

  • ARE the Red Sox going to continue their lousy start tonight in Oakland? The West Coast hasn't been very kind to the club from Boston in recent regular seasons, so maybe a few more people should have seen this coming.

  • HAS Max Scherzer had the best athletic career of any former Hogans Heroes cast member? Probably, watch him take on Chris "T Was A" Carpenter in AZ this evening. Or not, whatever.

  • IS Walkoff Walk's love unconditional? I guess we'll find out it Manny Parra has another crap start tonight against Dusty's Boys.

  • THINK we'll get to see Johnny Damon pitch tonight against the Rays?

Come back tomorrow. We'll have free stuff to give away. Just kidding. Come back anyway. Same WoW Channel.

Joe Garagiola Hosts Baseball Fun & Games - 1970something

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Hey kids, I have a special Classic TV Friday for you... on Tuesday! Why Tuesday? Well because the afternoon game got rained out and I have to do my taxes. It's got Bloopers, and rambly stories and all kinds of stuff they play on the Jumbotron when there's a rainout. But from the 70s, so it's funnier.

Please to enjoy, this oughta hold you over for awhile.

Marriage: Today's Afternoon Game

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babytigere.jpg 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: Rick Porcello, the sub drinking age righty phenom with the mushroom sounding last name makes his second career start today. His first one kind of sucked but you get a whole lot of mulligans when you're 20. John Danks goes for the White Sox. He's pretty good now, ain't he? This series is FOR THE SOUL of the AL Central. Be warned. Carlos Quentin homered twice for Detroit yesterday and if we weren't idiots we would have made him our choice for AL MVP. But we're idiots.

Who Are The Unsung Greats Of Broadcasting?

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On last night's Furious Five we took the sad opportunity of Harry the K's passing to discuss those announcers that have survived them. Rob asked if he was the last of the greats. To this I quickly said no because the All-Time Best (IMO), Vin Scully, is still with us and still doing games out in Los Angeles. But as the conversation turned to whether or not that Scully/Kalas/Buck/Allen/Harwell "gravitas" will pass when the last of them does was far more interesting.

Obviously styles have changed, as they do in any industry that has been around for nearly 100 years. We talked about the Remy/Orsillo team here in Boston. They may be more beloved by their fanbase than any other team out there but for the most part they're tremendous goofballs. I'm just fine with that because well, you've read my writing. But I'm hard pressed to assign "greatness" to any announcers whose most famous call involved a thrown slice of pizza.

Lloyd brought up Jerry Howarth, the Blue Jays radio play by play guy coming up on his 30th year in the booth. I haven't heard Howarth even though, and I'm a little embarassed to admit this, I still cruise around the AM dial at night as I'm going to bed trying to pick up the broadcasts from New York, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, etc. That makes me sound like I ride to the feed store on a John Deere when I wake up at 4 AM, but screw it. It's fun.

Rob didn't get to say much because he has to listen to Sterling and Waldman.

Like they knew I was writing this, Ernie Harwell is a guest on the Dan Patrick Show right now talking about Harry and Mark Fidrych who also passed yesterday. They just had Harwell pretend he was calling an at bat with Fidrych on the mound. That was really really good.

In any case, the point of this post is for you to tell us who we're missing. Who's good on radio/tv that doesn't get their due? Leave it in the comments, or if you're the shy type, email us. WHO ARE BASEBALL FANS SLEEPIN ON?

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One winner that Rob left out of his earlier post has to be Seattle's first place Mariners. Opening up the season on the road they went 5-2 including a 3 game sweep at Oakland. We liked to take some shots at Seattle fans and writers last year, but it could not have been easy following that team. They were out of it from the jump, and the negativity flowed through the entire organization.

But fresh blood at GM and Manager and a semblance of competitiveness has some people feeling their oats up there. Geoff Baker titled yesterday's post, "Cautious Optimism Brimming" which, for him, is the equivalent of sucking on a nitrous balloon and then shooting a huge sparkly rainbow out of his ears while singing showtunes.

Over the weekend, our boys at U.S.S. Mariner wondered how long it will take for the whole fanbase to jump back into the fray.

The first six games couldn't have gone much better for the M's. There's a pretty good chance they head into their first day off at 5-2, and look at adding Ichiro to a first place roster.

I'm curious to see how long it takes Seattle to get excited about this team. There was so much cynicism about the M's ownership, and expectations were low heading into the season. How long do they have to play well until people start to realize that they may have underestimated this group?

They realize it'll take more than a week, as does new Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik. It's a long haul, only a few games, long way to go etc, etc, ad nauseum.

But if I was an M's fan I'd be genuinely stoked about getting this season off on a such a positive note. Of course you can't win a pennant in one week, but you can set the tone and show people that this team is at least worth watching. Having your expectations exceeded is a great feeling for a sports fan, and Seattle baseball had less than none after that toxic 2008. That emotional turnaround alone will make their summer approximately 5,000,000 times better.

Manny Ramirez Loves Cleveland For Sentimental Reasons

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Even though Manny Ramirez had only one suitor all offseason, it didn't matter to him. He wanted to retire a Dodger! Remember, he told us that last year when he went there. You know unless the Yankees wanted him. But otherwise, for sure, he wants to retire a Dodger. Unless he can retire with the Indians. And bring along Jim Thome. Then he'll do that instead.

"I would like to play for Cleveland one more time, to go back where I started," said Ramirez, with the Dodgers playing their home opener Monday against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. "I have so many good memories there, why not?

Ramirez, 37, who spent the first 10 years of his career in the Indians organization, shared his sentiments this spring with Chicago White Sox DH Jim Thome.

"Manny was very sincere when he brought that up to me," Thome said. "Manny was saying how special that would be for us to both go back together. He was very passionate. Baseball's such a weird thing. You never know what's going to happen."

Good quotes, all of them. But nothing beats this final headscratcher.

"I love L.A. I really do. But the way the city responded to me, it reminded me a lot of how it was in Cleveland."

That quote is so crazy I'm not even going to attempt to deconstruct it. Well that, and because I think I know exactly what he's talking about. It may be that in making many of my own personal choices that I am very similar to Manny Ramirez. And I have no idea how that makes me feel.

Harry Kalas Taken To Hospital

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Not good news out of DC. Harry Kalas was found passed out in the Press Box and taken to the Hospital. No other details at this time, but Harry has had a series of health issues over the past year. We wish him the best, and hope that all is well.

UPDATE @ 2PM: As per Todd Zolecki, Harry Kalas has passed on. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Kalas family and to the entire Phillies family. It is a sad week around baseball.

The Late Singer: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 1:05, White Sox at Tigers: The Tigs are coming off a three game home sweep of the Rangers. They must have been drawing off the goodwill engendered by Mike Illitch giving out free advertisiting at Comerica Park. Mikey dude, give us a Walkoff Walk concession stand! Gavin Floyd faces Zach Miner.

  • 1:35, Astros at Pirates: Houston opens up a three game dealie in Pittsburgh. Normally this would seem a surefire pickmeup after losing 5 of your first 6, but it still seems to early to tell whether or not the Astros are actually much better than the Pirates. Brian Moehler got murdered in his first start, but has risen to make his second start. Zach "Morris Patty" Duke goes for the home opening Buccos.

  • 2:20, Rockies at Cubs: It's Roxtapril. Whoooooo! They're sending You Baldo to the hill to face Ted Lilly in the Cubs home opener. And just in time, Obscure Store and Reading Room brings you more dead goat news. Apparently someone hung a dead goat off of the Harry Caray statue outside the park. To any of our Chicago readers: go grab that thing, we'll make curry.

  • 3:05, Phillies at Nationals: It's the home opener for baseball's worst team and Chico Harlan's ambivalence is so thick you could stab it with a letter opener. And, lots of good tickets are still available! Sheesh. Moyer for the visitors and Cabrera for the unloved home team. In any case the Nats better watch out because the Phillies are traveling with some sort of angry wolf that is attacking other teams.

  • 4:05, Giants at Dodgers: An afternoon home opener in the Southern California sun? Yes, please. Randy Johnson goes for the Giants and has owned the Dodgers during his various stints in the senior circuit. Chad Billingsley will face a San Francisco lineup that's who we thought they were. 8 runs total in their 4 losses.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, your hometown misses you.

  • WILL the Angels or the Red Sox leave this weekend still under .500? I wasn't around yesterday so I didn't get a chance to talk about how sad, sad, sad and awful that Nick Adenhart thing was. So I'm saying it now.

  • WILL the Cubs/Crew series be a good one? Harden goes tonight and he's ur NL Cy Young pick. Let's hope he gets off to a good, and healthy, start.

  • CAN the Royals continue their winning ways? The Yankees are in town. Orioles, Royals, I think after this series New York plays the Washington Generals.

  • SOMETIMES in the morning are you petrified and can't move?
  • AWAKE but cannot open your eyes?

  • YOU know that Trolley Dodgers/Snakes is the series of the weekend, don't you?

Friends, I know some of you have your Easters and your Passovers this weekend. I wish wellness to you and your families. And as a sports loving nonbeliever, it's actually my biggest holiday of the year. It's Masters weekend! Per my tradition, I'll be at an undisclosed location miles away from my phone and computer tuned in and zoned out while watching some championship golf. Green jackets, green grass and green.

Lloyd got your weekend. Nobody does it better. Nobody does it even half as good as him. Baby, he's the best. See you Monday, pals. Same WoW channel.

(Stellar photo of Wrigley Foul Pole taken from Wallyg's flickrstream.)

Rock The Bronx - 1993

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Today's Classic TV could be summed up in one word: whatabunchofidiots. It starts off all sweet with Mel Allen doing his This Week In Baseball thing (sidenote: there may not be a single television show I miss more than TWIB) then unravels. Quickly. A band called Deficit fronted by "actor/rocker" Larry Romano rattles off a list of their favorite Yankees over a sub-Licensed To Ill shitriff.

"So here we are in 1993 the boys are back, baby. We've got Jimmy Key and Jimmy Abbott"

"Showalter at the helm, Boggs, Owen and Velarde around the horn."

No wonder they were so excited. What a team! You'll like this video but you'll be so much dumber for having watched it. Please to enjoy

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPG Will also not be seen today. I just got back to Boston last night. That was one hell of a homecoming party. I'm gonna find y'all a Classic TV Friday though.

The Great Figure: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • 12:35, Mets at Reds: The Mets bullpen was shaky but ultimately shut the door last night, ensuring that no matter what happens for the next 5 years I'll probably mention them every single time I talk about the team. Odalis Perez takes on Bronson Arroyo and his carpal tunnel syndrome in today's getaway game. Remember how hot Kim Basinger was?

  • 12:37, Tigers at Blue Jays: Both starting pitchers in this game are making their MLB debut. That's only happened 18 other times since 1901, so that's something. It's always special to have more than one first in the same day. Like smoking angel dust for the first time on the same day you go to jail for the first time.

  • 1:10. Mariners at Twins: Jarrod Washburn is still kicking his game and collecting them checks. He'll be facing Glen Perkins the man with the name that sounds like he should be featured on my other website. The Twins smacked the ball all over the place last night, and Washburn has given up a few dingers in his day. The Twins could easy take 3 our of 4 in this opening series.

  • 1:35, Yankees at Orioles: So did the Yankees fire Girardi yet? AJ Burnett makes his Yankee debut today will try and get his new employers off the schneid. Schneeeeiiiiiid. Ha. Say it. Schneid. Alfredo Simon goes for the Orioles and is easily my favorite way to prepare Simon, beating out Simon Piccata, Simon Marsala and Simon Cacciatore.

  • 1:35, Rays at Red Sox: The Tampa bullpen, which we're all expecting to regress this year, didn't last night. They held off a late Sox rally. Today is Garza vs. Matsuzaka, bringing the fragile peace that comes with a Garzaless Winter to an abrupt end. At least they're not dragging along that clown Johnny Gomes anymore.

  • 1:40, Pittsburgh at St. Louis: I watched a replay of the final round of the 1986 Masters last night. Greg Norman played awful under pressure, as was his wont. Then this morning I saw highlights of him in the Par 3 challenge. He's married to Chris Evert now and they both look like pieces of jerky. Sunscreen, people. I mention this because Chris Carpenter makes his first regular season start since 1986 for the Cardinals today. Norman choked again in '87 and Larry Mize won. He was a huge dork. He dressed ridiculous even for a golfer and during his post 3rd round interview talked about going back to his hotel and taking some muscle relaxers. I love the Masters so much.

  • 2:05, Indians at Rangers: The Indians got another lousy start in Texas last night and fixing shit falls into the trembling delicate hands of one Carl Pavano. Not all of the history is at Rogers Centre today. You know this actually the first time Pavano and Carpenter have pitched on the same day since 1901.

  • 2:05, Royals at White Sox: Davies vs. Jenks for all the frozen custard. Zack Greinke was stellar last night and even caused a little drama for your mama by drilling Carlos Quentin in the back with a fastball. Keep an eye on that one today. A brawl could really perk up your afternoon.

  • 3:35, Dodgers at Padres: Clayton Kershaw makes his 2009 debut and Kevin Correia goes for the Padres. The Dodgers can take 3 of 4 with a win today which can only mean one thing: Larry Mize will win the 2009 Masters.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, put em in the sky.

Bang up job today everyone, especially Mr. McQuade for that glogging Tour De Force. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Class dismissed.

Same WoW Channel.

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Don't people write letters to the editor anymore? From the Obscure Store and Reading Room comes this harrowing tail (lulz) of reader dissatisfaction at the Hillside Collegian newspaper in Michigan. After the sports department took a few poorly written swipes at the baseball team, the editor woke up to find a bunch of dead animals on his lawn. I didn't know Chipper Jones read that paper!

At about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning senior Nathanael Rea peered through his window at 242 N. West St. He grabbed his glasses.

"I thought they were shoveling snow," Rea said. "But they were using a shovel to carry the small dead animals."

Sunlight revealed a scene Hillsdale police patrolman Randy Casler said he's never witnessed: a slew of dead animals on the porch of 244 N. West St., including one and a half deer, several large rodents and a black goat with alleged gunshot wounds to the head and sternum. Under the goat, perpetrators placed a copy of the April 2 edition of The Collegian sports section. The main headline read "Lost in left field."

Here's the offending column. Sure, it reads more like an entry in a burn book than an actual editorial, but what else do you expect from a guy that can't tell the difference between snow and a deer corpse?

Still, Walkoff Walk would like to voice its disapproval of this gruesome scene. After spending a lot of time around sportswriters this Spring, I have to wonder about the efficacy of doing this. When it comes to most of the sportswriters I don't like, if I backed up my truck and dumped a bunch of carcasses on their lawn, they'd probably just eat them and send me a thank you card. I don't think it would get my point across.

Acid: Today's Afternoon games

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  • 12:10, Nats at Marlins: Jackie, get out the broom. It's in the hall closet behind your boots, your parka, your gloves and the snow shovel. The Marlins might need it for it's sweepability, suckas. They've amassed 20 runs in the past 2 games and today they get to face Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera didn't even have to sell his house after leaving Baltimore for DC. His commute is so easy he can just WALK. GET IT? BECAUSE HE HAS THE CONTROL OF 6 YEAR OLD AT A JONAS BROTHERS CONCERT.

  • 1:00, 40th Anniversary of Expos Debut: The Montreal Expos Twitter has not been contracted and will in fact be tweeting the play by play of the Expos first game in real time. After that on my Twitter page I'll be recapping the Battle of Little Bighorn.

  • 3:05, Braves at Phillies: The Braves rotation is mowing down Phillies hitters like a monkey in a banana factory. The Phillies hitters are getting plowed through like a vagrant in a garbage chute. Javy Vasquez gets his turn for the visiting Bravos and he'll have his dustpan at the ready. Bobby Cox "can't say enough good things" about Vasquez. Have you mentioned that he shines his taint with carnuba wax? That's attention to detail! D-Mac is going to glog this one for you all. I don't even know we do nice things like this for you ingrates. But we do.

  • 3:40, Rockies at Snakes: Today Arizona starter Doug Davis takes on an opponent even more sinister than the cancer he beat last year. Franklin Morales. Arizona done got blanked by You Baldo last night, just one day after hitting 5 home runs. How will they fare against Morales today? Well you didn't hear it from me, [whisper]but he's carrying a knife[/whisper]. So bet on stabbings and laughs!

Our Second Friendly Wager

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Remember last year when Rob and I bet on the Yankees/Red Sox series and I won and took it Rob like a month to pay up but then he finally did and took this amazing picture of himself in a Sox hat with the Youk sign? Of course you do. That was awesome. Well we're putting aside putting aside our biases and gamblin' again.

During Spring Training we were having one of our homer arguments and I said that Jon Lester would have a higher ERA+ than CC Sabathia for the 2009 season. And so the bet was made. Yes, I am wagering that the Red Sox #2 (maybe 3) starter will have a better number at the end of the year than the Yankees ace. Uh oh.

The stakes have been raised considerably this time around. Instead of just being photographed in the opposition's hat like last time, the loser of this bet will have to film himself singing Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" in the opposition's hat and upload it to YouTube.

It's on.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I put some whiskey into my whiskey, and I put some heartache into my heart.

  • WOULD Jair Jurrens get the same satisfaction beating Jamie Moyer as you would beating your father in something? OLD PEOPLE JOKEZ.

  • HOW awesome is it that the apartment building that President Obama grew up in could be designated an historic landmark soon? Pretty damned awesome, if you ask me. It aint exactly Mt. Vernon or the place JFK was born in.

  • WILL Nick Blackburn come strong out of the gate against the Mariners or will the CTC Curse cause his arm to catch on fire?

  • WILL Major League Tater Tot Leaders Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark continue their march towards 200 Home Runs against You Baldo and the Rockies.

  • CAN the Tigers show a little more fight and not sustain a second straight blowout in Toronto? Edwin Jackson is on the mound and he's Bob Gibson, you know.

  • DID you visit your local independent music purveyor today? New Live stuff from the Hold Steady, new Doves, new Sunset Rubdown, and most radically, new Thermals. I haven't spent this much money at the record store since I met a hooker there.

That'll do it. What games are you all watching tonight? Talk about em down here in the comments for those of us that are having a hard time finding any to watch. Sheesh.

Same WoW channel.

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And finally, the AL Central reveals it's last two teams. Some have complained that all the teams in this division are so similarly mediocre that it's impossible to pick a frontrunner, but uncertainty is exciting right? Spin the wheel, turn the bingo ball holder thing, see what comes out. Bear with me here, I'm trying to pump myself up.

Yes, it's the Tom Gamboa Memorial Classic, and Gil Meche and Mark Buehrle are your first game aces. Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs make their debut for the Royals. Just imagine the history that comes with putting on that uniform for the first time. GOOSEBUMPS.

Apparently Steve Phillips says some people are picking the Royals to win the division. If you wanna hear us joke about that listen to the podcast.

ROYALSWHITE SOX
Coco Crisp, CFDeWayne Wise, CF
David DeJesus, LFChris Getz, 2B
Mark Teahen, 2BCarlos Quentin, LF
Jose Guillen RFJim Thome, DH
Mike Jacobs, 1BJermaine Dye, RF
Billy Butler, DHPaul Konerko, 1B
Alex Gordon, 3BA.J. Pierzynski, C
Miguel Olivo, CAlexei Ramirez, SS
Mike Aviles, SSJosh Fields, 3B

Attention All White Cocks Fans!

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Via the highly followable Big League Stew Twitter comes what is unquestionably the funniest White Sox related blooper of 2009. Even funnier than hitting DeWayne Wise leadoff.

Put it on ice!

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Rays at Red Sox, 4:05PM

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After yesterday's rainout, these two teams finally open their 2009 season with a rematch of last year's ALCS. The Red Sox have won 3 of their last 4 against the Rays.

James Shields takes the mound for the AL Champs. Shields has had two good years but really pitched himself into the Ace role last season, striking out exactly 4 guys for each one he walked. He's not as famous as Scott Kazmir or as annoying as Matt Garza but he's their #1. Pat Burrell makes his Rays debut. Hide that World Series ring, buddy.

For the Red Sox it's the Josh Beckett. You can't spell Ambassador without Badass. Beckett looked good in camp, but more importantly looked healthy. NO JINX NO JINX.

There's still a 40% chance of rain this afternoon so keep your fingers crossed if you have a ticket.

RAYSRED SOX
BJ Upton, CFJacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LFDustin Pedroia, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3BDavid Ortiz, DH
Carlos Pena 1BKevin Youkilis, 1B
Pat Burrell, DHF.S.S.J.D. Drew, RF
Gabe Gross, RFJason Bay, LF
Dioner Navarro, CMike Lowell, 3B
Aki Iwamura, 2BJason Varitek, C
Jason Bartlett, SSJed Lowrie, SS

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, hold it right there.

Well that was a fun day. There was a tight one in Cincinnati, HR hitting contests in Arizona and Florida and a late emerging nail biter in Baltimore. And the Red Sox and Rays didn't even play yet.

Enjoy the basketball final as well. Go UNC, I guess. ACC pride? We'll check you out here tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Mariners at Twins, 8:10

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Today is the final opening day at the Metrodome. I went to a few games there when I spent a summer in Minneapolis. I appreciated the GA seating in the outfield. It gave me a great view of a Johan one hitter vs. the Mariners and allowed Randy Winn to definitely hear the mediocre insults I hurled at him. For no real reason. Anway, that storied rivalry picks back up tonight.

Felix Hernandez takes on Francisco Liriano in one of the most intriguing starter matchups of the day. With Ichiro out, Endy Chavez tops the order for the Mariners. That lineup also features the Mariner debuts of Mike Sweeney, Russell Branyan, and the return of Ken Griffey Jr. Amazingly, manager Don "Waka" Wakamatsu told Geoff Baker that the Mariners will probably use "between 120 and 130 lineups this year" and seemed proud of this fact. And who can blame him, what kind of baseball player thrives on continuity? Joe Crede makes his Twins debut.

MARINERSTWINS
Endy Chavez, LFDenard Span, CF
Franklin Guttierez, CFAlexi Casilla, 2B
Mike Sweeney, DHMichael Cuddyer, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3BJustin Morneau, 1B
Ken Griffey Jr., RFJason Kubel, DH
Jose Lopez, 2BJoe Crede, 3B
Russell Branyan, 1BDelmon Young, LF
Kenji Johjima, CMike Redmond, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SSNick Punto, SS
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The Tigers head up to Toronto ce soir luckily avoiding another snowout. They'll be starting Justin "Sporadic Feast" Verlander against The Incredible Doc Halladay. Gerald Laird, Josh Anderson and Adam Everett all make their Tiger debuts. Carlos Guillen has moved from SS, to 1B and now to DH. Next season he'll be the hitting coach.

For Toronto, 21 year old Travis Snider makes his first Opening Day start, sending legions of insane Blue Jays bloggers to the official team store. The Mayor of Detroit CAN KISS ALL THEIR ASSES.

TIGERSBLUE JAYS
Curtis Granderson, CFMarco Scutaro, SS
Placido Polanco, 2BAaron Hill, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RFAlex Rios, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1BVernon Wells, CFB
Carlos Guillen, DHAdam Lind, DH
Gerald Laird, CScott Rolen, 3B
Brandon Inge, 3BLyle Overbay, 1B
Adam Everett, SSRod Barajas, C
Josh Anderson, LFTravis Snider, LF

Opening Day Lineupstravaganza: Yankees at Orioles, 4:05

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The AL East kicks off this afternoon in Bodymore at the beautiful Camden Yards. With about 500 new stadiums built since Camden, it's gone from modeling itself after a classic park to actually becoming one. New York sends CC Sabathia to the mound. I think Yankee fans are excited about this fella. The Orioles will start de facto ace Jeremy Guthrie, the best pitcher on what has the potential to be a truly gruesome staff. Today marks the dawn of the Cody Ransom era at 3B for the Yankees. That's all fine and good but will he hit in October when the heat is on? Cesar Izturis and Ty Wigginton make their Oriole debuts.

Joe Biden throws out the first pitch, so the forecast is calling for overcast skies and lots of teeth. Onto the lineups:

YANKEESORIOLES
Derek Jeter, SSBrian Roberts, 2B
Johnny Damon, LFAdam Jones, CF
Mark Teixiera, 1BNick Markakis, RF
Hideki Matsui, DHMelvin Mora, 3B
Jorge Posada, CAubrey Huff, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2BTy WIgginton, DH
Xavier Nady, RFLuke Scott, LF
Cody Ransom, 3BGreg Zaun, C
Brett Gardner, CFCesar Izturis, SS

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Thanks to postponements in Chicago and Boston this is the only 2PM game in the AL. The first pitch will be thrown out by unemployed doofus George W. Bush. Don't worry, they're not chanting "ELVIS ANDRUUUUUUS," those are boos. Reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee takes the mound for the visiting Indians, while Kevin Millwood rolls out of bed to pitch for the Rangers.

Mark DeRosa makes his debut with the Indians, Elvis Andrus does the same for Texas. The hometown team also sends out Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis for their first ever Opening Day assignments. Travis Hafner returns from the Wilderness to hit cleanup for the Tribe. Could be the HIGHEST SCORING GAME OF THE SEASON SO FAR.

INDIANSRANGERS
Grady Sizemore, CFIan Kinsler, 2B
Mark DeRosa, 2BMichael Young, 3B
Victor Martinez, 1BJosh Hamilton, CF
Travis Hafner, DHNelson Cruz, RF
Jhonny Peralta, SSHank Blalock, DH
Shin Soo-Choo, RFMarlon Byrd, LF
Kelly Shoppach, CChris Davis, 1B
Ben Francisco, LFJarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2BElvis Andrus, SS

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Hey, kids remember last year's Prophecy of Mediocrity contest? Well Rob and I forgot until last night. Whoops! Part of the reason may be is that because last year's winner never emailed us to claim his prize. I hope nothing happened to him.

Anyway, the rules and the prizes are the same this year.

Send an email to our intern Darren (tips@walkoffwalk.com) with the following information:

1.Your real name or your commenter name, whichever your prefer.
2. The six teams you think will finish third in each MLB division in 2009.
3. The average number of wins (to the first decimal point) for all six 3rd place teams (this will be the tiebreaker).

Make sure you write "Contest Entry" in the subject of your email. You have from now until NOON on FRIDAY. Yes, since we forgot to post this you'll get an actual week of baseball games to cheat and help decide exactly who you think will finish in the middle of the road.

The winner will get a one of a kind winner's Walkoff Walk T-shirt specially designed for the contest, a post on WoW, and a random baseball card of my choosing from a giant trunk in my parents' house.

Good luck everybody. May the best at not picking the best win.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, the the trick is just not being caught.

  • WILL Gary Sheffield be a Met by Opening Day?

  • IF there was one guy that could describe a bleeding ulcer poetically, wouldn't it be Ichiro?

  • STILL on the fence about Sugar, that movie I talked about yesterday? Well Jose Rijo is in it. Does that change your mind?

  • HOW cool is it that WHDH in Boston isn't going carry Leno's snoozy schtick ? STAY STRONG CHANNEL 7!

  • DWIGHT Evans only the 20th best Red Sock??? Hope you enjoyed your last WoW link, MacPherson.

  • EVER wondered what different historical baseball moments would like from different camera angles? Yeah, I never have either but it's a cool idea, I guess. You can check it out as the MLB Network "re-creates" 6 classic moments starting tonight.

  • ARE signed up for Iracane's Twitter? There's a link up there top right. He's taking his first steps into New Yankee Stadium tonight and once he cleans the Cream Of Wheat out of his khakis he'll be tweeting and taking pictures of the festivities. Until he drinks half a Dogfish and passes out, that is.

We did it. We made it through our first offeseason together everybody. Yaaay. The season starts Sunday night with Philles/Braves and Rob will be here glogging it. I'm gonna rest up, maybe catch a little sun before I head back to rejoin the pale white natives of New England. And baseball. Before we all rejoin baseball. See you then, pals.

Same regular season WoW Channel.

(Picture of the Ebbets Field Knothole Gang from ebbets-field.com)

Today's Classic TV Friday takes us back to 1993. The Blue Jays had just won their second consecutive World Series under manager Cito Gaston (wow, remember him!?), this time in dramatic fashion on a walkoff home run by Joe Carter. This particular clip finds an angry and mulleted Todd Stottlemyre long distance berating the mayor of Philadelphia. It looks more like a pro wrestling promo than it does a baseball victory parade. The ending features Rickey Henderson spurring the crowd into a spontaneous chant of "Whoomp, There It Is!"

Yeah, this is a pretty great video.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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Whew that was one long Spring Training. Players were sick of camp when I spoke to them 3 weeks ago, but this past week every single thing they said was punctuated with "I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started."

So how was your slider working out there? Oh, pretty good, it was diving. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Do you think you guys have solved some of your bullpen problems? Yeah I think we made some smart acquisitions. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Are reporters allowed to have some of that Gatorade? Yeah go right ahead the cups are down on the right. I'm just ready to get out of here and get the season started.

Lots of dudes got hurt, both in camp and at the WBC, but there was more than enough time for them to rest up and heal afterwards. If guys got hurt two or three weeks ago, their teams have taken special care of them to make sure they'd be ready for Monday. While this super long Spring may have bored the bejeezus out of some guys, it may allow for some of the healthiest Opening Day rosters we've seen in years. Well, not including the following dummies who got hurt too late.

  • Brian Roberts, Orioles: Roberts' list of ailments is so long it looks like it's supposed to be for the whole team. Just in the past two weeks he's had a respiratory infection, back spasms and now the ubiquitous oblique strain. I'm not going to say he's fragile but I did see him riding around camp on a Hover Round.

  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Arroyo has fallen victim to that bane of all typists/stenographers/telegraph operators, carpal tunnel syndrome. Oh yeah it's probably not good for pitchers/guitar players either. He had a flare up last year, but didn't miss a start. Apparently this time it's especially nasty. Like the face melters he plays on his Ibanez.

  • Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers: The Tigers' rough camp continued as a controversial blood test showed Dontrelle Willis having an anxiety disorder and he was sent back to Detroit for further evaluation. Every two bit Grey's Anatomy watching hack in the blogosphere immediately cried "phony" but with psychiatric issues I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. Bonderman's problem is more simple. His shoulder burst into flames.

  • Scott Baker, Twins: Minnesota's Opening Day starter is no longer Minnesota's Opening Day starter. Baker is hitting the deel with shoulder stiffness. Take a cold shower! Lulz. Joe Crede and Justin Morneau also missed games this week. All these injuries problems will be solved next year when the Twins are playing outside in 10 degree weather.

  • Joey Devine, A's: The Oakland starter reliever has elbow problems, is hitting the deel and subsequently brings us our first Dr. Death sighting of 2009. Hello, James how was your winter?

  • Ben Grieve, Retired: Raped by a wallaby.

  • Cha Seung Baek, Padres: The Bros' #3 starter has a forearm strain severe enough to put him on the List. This gives the immortal Shawn Hill a shot in the rotation. Hey if you're trying to bounceback I imagine Petco is a pretty solid place to give it a shot. BELIEVE IN SHAWN HILL.

  • Jonathan Sanchez, Giants: Sanchez burned his finger this week while cooking rice and beans. No word on whether he threw his back out trying to carry that gigantic sterotype.

***BONUS POSSIBLE CREAMPUFF***

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'll walk into the sun.

  • DOES winning the Grapefruit league mean anything for the Yankees? Well, the last 4 years the AL East team with the best Spring record won the division so... no. That's just a stupid coincidence.

  • IS Francisco Liriano ready for the 2009 season? Well he better be, he's starting the opener now that Scott Baker is on the DL.

  • WHERE have you gone Tony Fossas? The LOOGY Era may be coming to a close as Don "Waka" Wakamatsu won't have a single lefty reliever in his Seattle bullpen.

  • DID I lose all my street cred mentioning Condoleeza Rice as Commish? I feel weird.

  • DO I at least still have more street cred than Steve Phillips? He wants to do MORE of those fake press conferences.

  • HOW awesome is Cito Gaston?

  • YOU gonna go check out Sugar? I was shown that trailer up there a few months ago and have been wanting to see it ever since.

That was one fast week. Tomorrow is Friday. We'll be here so will all the usual Friday stuff. See you then. Same WoW channel.

Umpires Are Bitchy; Hate Accountability

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Remember when umpires got their shorts in a knot a couple years back about QuesTec? It was a program that monitored strikes and probably used lasers or robots or satellites, but definitely used computers. The "humanity of calling a baseball game" was trotted out, as it is always is when umps feel like pouting because baseball dares to try and hold them accountable for their work.

One real complaint about QuesTec was that it was only installed in 1/3 of baseball stadiums, and thus could alter the way a guy called a game behind the plate could be altered if he cracked under the pressure of QuestTec's unblinking eye. Well this season that's been remedied, as QuesTec has been thrown out and replaced with Zone Evaluation. ZE is going to be in all 30 parks and the information is going to available to the public on ITunes (?), and guess what: The umpires are pissed about this thing too.

"It's an upgrade from where we were," (baseball's VP for umpiring Mike) Port said in a telephone interview. "The umpires, they don't want to miss a pitch any more than a batter wants to strike out. Where the Z.E. system will give us a lot of help is more data to help identify any trends: 'The last three plate jobs, you missed seven pitches that were down and in. Here's how one of the supervisors can help you adjust your head angle or your stance to have a better chance of getting those pitches.'"

Asked if umpires had such concern about the new arrangement that they might consider going on strike -- as early as opening day, which is Sunday --(ump union spokesman) McMorris again declined comment.

Whee! An ump strike! The last time they did that it purged a bunch of terrible umpires like Ken Kaiser from the league. I'd be more than happy to let them do it again, but even umpires can't be stupid enough to not have learned from that mistake. With QuesTec having been in place for a handful of years, and last year's introduction of Instant Replay the umpires must be used to technological oversight of their jobs. Any opposition to ZE by the union must simply be out of principal to slow down their eventual replacement by cyborgs. I for one, welcome Zone Evaluation and like any other advance in technology, look forward to its implementation in the bedroom.
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It's safe to say The New York Daily News is a tad obsessed with the steroid issue as we move into the 2009 season. This week they released their Five Point Plan to "rid baseball of their steroid scourge." Ah, yes. A War On Drugs. Those always work. Despite their ambitious yet impossible goal of eradicating PED's, step one of the program is one that we're definitely all for. Replacing Bud Selig. The News does a solid job of listing his failures and achievements but ignores the fact that his pedigree doomed his tenure before it started

Skyrocketing baseball revenue has insulated Selig from job instability throughout his entire reign as Commish. It's kept people from every seriously questioning the integrity of his position despite the fact that was was interim commissioner and owner that made himself king. That kind of move wouldn't fly on a Wisconsin town council, but has gone without serious challenge for the past 17 years. Replacing him with a non-owner would instantly add an element of transparency and fairness. It is a huge, inborn bias that promoted the financial expansion of the sport beyond anything else. The financial vulnerability of baseball is a major concern and provides an opening to move Selig out of his fiefdom.

The Daily News piece offers up a list of possible candidates (and you can vote on em!) but all but one their choices are fatally flawed.

He can be a nerd, like Bill James. He or she can be a romantic, like George Will or Doris Kearns Goodwin. He can be old, like Frank Robinson. He can be young, like Theo Epstein.

They also pose Bob Costas and Al Gore as choices. Costas, Will and Kearns Goodwin have no background in mediation. James has no background in mediation and is antisocial. Frank Robinson is a former player, thus branding him with the same kind of bias that Selig currently possesses, albeit from a player's standpoint.

"Fixing" whatever problem you want to address in baseball be it steroids, financial equity, competitive equity, etc. will require a measure of legislation. Not legislation on a government level, but within the sport. It's going to need a commissioner that can mediate the discussion and as much as it pains me aesthetically a former politician is the best person for the job. Gore doesn't immediately strike you as a "baseball guy" but that's a trait that's overrated for this job anyway. Bart Giammati, one of the games most celebrated commissioners was a university president.

But Al Gore isn't the right person either. He has a cause he's committed to and if he's as sincere as he appears, fixing baseball is a step down from saving Earth. His old boss, Bill Clinton is busy with causes as well.

Though I can't express my political disagreement strongly enough (and if you've been reading me for awhile you know I don't have to) the names that jump out as intriguing and realistic candidates are all former Bush cabinet members. The two best would be Tom Ridge and my choice, Condoleeza Rice. Both are publicly documented sports fans, but Rice has a background in mediation that spans every level from academic to global (I'm not sure those are "levels" but you get it). She would also possess a unique perspective on one of MLB's problems du jour, the lack of an African-American player pipeline to the league.

For a million reasons no one from that administration is popular, but among baseball fans even Condoleeza Rice is more popular than Bud Selig. And popularity isn't the issue here, anyway. Baseball needs someone who can go in and provide the structure to clean up the Old Owners Club that has run wild in baseball for the past 20 years. If there's anyone that knows how a network of cronies works it's Rice. And she can definitely use the good karma.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, cut the grass.


We done, yo. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel. 4 more days!

(Picture stoled from Flic Pic's flickr page. That outfielder kinda looks like a dog.)

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Hey, kids. I'm hear in the pressbox at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL for my last Spring Training game of 2009, and if the BBWAA has their say, my last ever time in a pressbox. Just kidding. They're nice to me, they think I'm homeless.

Marty Noble is here and he just told a pretty great story about the late Red Foley. Foley is a hero of mine having been both a baseball reporter and a country music star. Nice work if you can get it. When Foley would fly to Florida for Spring Training he would bring a pair of white shoes on the plane, and when the plane took off he'd switch his brown shoes for the white ones and wear them for the entirety of camp. When he got back on the plane to fly back to New York, he'd take off the white shoes for the brown ones. I'm not looking forward to putting my brown shoes back on.

In any case, we got baseball here today. Johan is going for the Mets, so that'll be fun. I'll take you through it. The stack of lineup sheets today had a Mets 1-9 featuring Dykstra, Strawberry, Hernandez and that twerp Gary Carter. I guess they were trying to April Fools us. Follow me post jump for the real lineups and my timestamped impressions of the action.

Note: Part of the reason I've been in Florida for Spring Training was to write a magazine feature on players acting like maniacs during camp. There were lots of old stories from the 70s and 80s but leads were few and far between for current guys. The angle of the piece ended up changing and as a result didn't end up making the magazine. I still like the story though, and am lucky to have a venue like WoW where it can still see the light of day. Please to enjoy.

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Spring Training in Florida has a rich history. Much of it even has to do with baseball. From the time the Cubs and Indians arrived in 1913, The Grapefruit League spent decades as a working vacation where ballplayers walked a razor's edge between getting in shape and getting bent. In a 2003 article for Slate, Mike Shropshire spoke about the old days noting the most prescient observation he ever made in Pompano Beach was that "The managers and coaches drank scotch. The position players drank vodka or CC and Seven. The pitchers favored a concoction of Everclear, 151 rum, and coffin polish."

Last week, I lit out for the backroads and backrooms of Florida in search of these stories from the people that saw them, and also to find some new ones. I visited Christy's Sundown Restaurant in Winter Haven, former spring home of the Red Sox, then Indians. Not even a mile from the park, the walls of Christy's entrance are lined with autographs from the likes of Dean Martin, Waylon Jennings, Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, Albert Belle and Mike Hargrove. You could smell that CC and seven before you even sat down. Legendary AP beat writer Dave O'Hara covered the Sox for over two decades and spent many hours in a Christy's bar overflowing with booze, broads and batters. When I asked him to describe that scene, he said "Well. When someone told me something newsworthy at the bar, I told them I wouldn't print it until they told me again the next day." He either didn't trust their judgment or couldn't understand the slurring.

But I wanted to know who was carrying the torch for those gin and gravy soaked titans of yore. In the golf courses, strip clubs, bars, pool halls... and strip clubs the answer was, quite simply, just me. Madison (last name not given or made up yet) at Rendezvous in Ft Myers said that ballplayers came in once in awhile but they were always well behaved. And it was far less frequent than it used to be. Same thing from the girls at Body Talk in Port St. Lucie, Mons Venus in Tampa and the Peek a Boo Lounge in Bradenton. And I'd like to think I'd be able to see through an exotic dancer's cover-up. Especially with a wad of twenties.

Off a lukewarm tip over a lukewarm Yuengling at the PGA Golf resort in Port St. Lucie, I was told to check out Duffy's, a sports bar right up the street from the Mets' Tradition Field. After talking to manager Bryan Bomar, I learned that Duffy's had just been your run of the mill watering hole until about 5 years ago. On a warm Spring Night in 2004, noted bum Karim Garcia was watering the bushes of the adjacent pizza place when the manager came out and told him to relieve himself elsewhere. Garcia punched the pizza man out, made the papers and all of a sudden Duffy's was "the place that the Mets players hung out." It was probably the most recent Player Gone Wild story I heard and It's been great for the bar. Fans flood Duffy's after each Spring game in the hopes of swallowing down a purple hooter with Ryan Church. As for Garcia, perhaps he should have been a little more studious in camp. He appeared in 85 games that season and then was out of baseball. He played twenty years too late. I mean, he still would have stunk in 1979 but his buffoonery would have been more accepted.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the entire culture of Spring Training had changed. "Guys come into camp now having trained all year. They don't really take a break. When Kent Hrbek used to drop to the ground for his first stretch of the Spring he'd moan and groan and be down there for a half hour." It's easy to see how a beer or twelve wouldn't really be much of a setback to that training regimen.

When I told a Boston Herald beat writer that I was out on the road trying to dig up the dirt he pretty much provided my thesis statement. "These guys are all business now. The contracts, the competition, there's too much at stake in camp." While Chili Davis never once touched a baseball in any offseason, Jacoby Ellsbury moved to Arizona to train at the API institute. Admirable. Savvy. But not old school.

It also wasn't lost on me that "back in the day", guys like me weren't driving around looking for drunken blind items to write about in a national magazine. These teams have PR mavens like any other corporation, and the players are well schooled in the power of negative press. Get drunk with a fan in 1989 and he'll buy your next round. Get drunk with a fan in 2009 and he'll take your picture on his phone and send it to Deadspin. The times are not exactly conducive to getting loose.

"I'm still from one of those first generations of ballplayers that came into camp ready to play. Ready to fight for my spot because I had spent the offseason training. The craziest thing I've done in the past couple years of spring training has been watching a Spongebob marathon with my kid," Mike Lowell told me.

Third basemen in Boston weren't always that smart. Sometimes guys, like the aforementioned Boggs, drank a staggering amount of beer and got pushed out of a moving car in front Christy's. According to Miss Pat Peavey, hostess and unofficial historian of the place, no one drank like Boggs and it was only with mild shock that she learned that he woke up the next morning and hit two home runs. She has one of the balls. Signed.

When I got in my car and pulled out of Christy's parking lot a gospel song came onto the local bluegrass station. "What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." Thinking back on my trip and the taming of Spring Training I figured you could add a couple more things to that list: $50 million contracts, and a scandal happy press.