Kris Liakos: May 2010 Archives

Hair Poem: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • White Sox at Indians, 12:05: Tug of rubber between Buerhle and Westbrook (teehee). Westbrook has given up 7ER in in 11IP against the Sox so far this year. Paul Konerko is second in the major leagues in HR, despite only hitting one in his last ten games. I say he goes deep today. Dog's Eye View will be singing the National Anthem.

  • Rangers at Royals, 2:10: Texas looks to sweep the two game quickie. Scott Feldman takes the hill for hte visitors against Luke Ho Shaver. Vladdy is white hot with 4 HR and 8 RBI in his last 5 games. Dude's OPS is hovering near 1.000 and his tits are feeling way better than last year when he injured one. Fastball will be singing the National Anthem.

  • Tigers at Mariners, 3:40: The Mariners snapped out of their offensive funk a little last night while Milton Bradley snapped out of his mental funk. Dude totted and drove in the go ahead run off Justin Verlander. Today it's Bonderman vs. Vargas in the quickie conclusion. Oh, last night Bradley also ran into the dugout to hug people during a pitching change. I <3 U TOO MILTY. New Radicals will be singing the National Anthem.

How? Well through the magic of Round Robin Dinner, silly!

I found the following video while DEEP in the depths of YouTube surfing last night, and it's amazing. This gentleman has to be the worst reader of copy in the history of advertising. And that's saying something. God bless him... and that intro music.

See you. Baseball fans. On the cruise.

The other funny thing about this is that I met Rick Dempsey at Spring Training once and he told me a story about how he and some teammates were "fishing" out on Biscayne Bay and "accidentally" ran their boat aground. DON'T LET HIM DRIVE, ROYAL CARIBBEAN!

Tonight's Questions

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Cigarete_man.gif Hey kids, cherchez la femme.

Goodnight. See you bright and early. Same WoW channel. You too, Cigarette Man.

Well, it's been a year since Tom Hicks decided he want to sell the Rangers and nearly 6 months since he decided who he wanted to sell them to, and yesterday the team took the unusual step of filing for bankruptcy to expedite the sale. Unusual, but not unheard of. Five Eight other teams from the four major sports have filed for bankruptcy protection before. And by "four major sports" I mean "mostly hockey".

How does this affect the day to day business in the Arlington front office? According to Bud Selig, it's gonna keep that continuity. Of course it will. And oh, yeah. More loans too.

"This agreement assures an orderly process to expeditiously transfer Rangers ownership to the Greenberg-(Nolan) Ryan group, and it protects the franchise's baseball operations," Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, said in a statement.

The league will also loan the Rangers money so that the team "continues to meet all of its obligations while the sale is being completed."

A bankruptcy court judge in the Northern District of Texas will now hear the case, which includes the possibility of his agreeing to consider alternative bids for the team.

The positive vibes and happy news were handed down to the players yesterday. Michael Young sat down for this PR piece story to recount the heartwarming yarn of players being told they were still getting their per diem despite the bankruptcy filing. Then they all jumped in the air and clicked their heels while tossing their tattered Newsies caps aloft.

Young said that players naturally had questions regarding their paychecks.

"That was at the top of the list of some questions," Young said. "That was actually the first thing that they told us. They knew the players were thinking about that. They said, 'You're going to get our per diem,' 'You're going to get your paychecks on time,' and 'Don't worry about it.'

"After a huge sigh of relief, the meeting went on."

Phew. What would the players have done had the Rangers forced them to play for no money? Probably come down off the acid and realize they're part of a union that has baseline threadcount requirement for hotel linens enforceable by strike. They can't be that daft. But you know, even if they were worried thank goodness Young gave us a candid and surprising look into the psyche of the ballplayer.

"It's not a distraction for us at all. Our job is to go out there and play baseball."

Now there's a cliché that will never run out of currency.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you'll be happier when I'm gone.

  • HAVE you been keeping up on your Morning Cup Of Joe? Yes, the carnage continues.

  • CAN little old Boston take those bigmouthed first place Tampa baseball elitists down a few pegs?

  • WHEN are the Reds gonna play some REAL teams? Pittsburgh is in town this week. Remember kids, that's the 2010 Walkoff Walk PNC Park Heist in Pittsburgh! Saturday, August 7th!

  • ARE the Angels on the upswing after winning three straight or can the Blue Jays use them to stay ahead of the Sawx?

  • WHAT is there left to say about Bob Dylan on this, his 69th birthday? We've already embedded about 10,000 of his videos on this website. Pretty sure we've all ranked our favorite albums in the comments. He's the man, forever. Heeeeeypeeeeey BeeeeeEERTHdeeeeey, dude.

We'll see you here tomorrow, where it's our 69th birthday everyday. Same WoW channel.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, I've thawed.

So enjoy your interleague weekend. There's a whole host of interesting series that I didn't touch on. This is the time of year when we put aside or differences and really try and understand the freaks and weirdos that watch most of their games played in the other league. It's not just a baseball game... it's research. We'll see you nuts on Monday. Same WoW channel.

Tonight's Questions

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penguinbaby.jpg Hey kids, we're climbing a ladder.

  • WILL you be watching any of the series finales tonight or are you too busy setting up your house for your Return Of Interleague BBQ Soirees?

  • IF you're not doing any of those things around 9 PM, then you oughta join us for the latest (and 25th!!!!!) installment of The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show. Just follow this link and you'll be set. Along with hitting up all the newsy news we'll be waxing nostalgic about baseball cards. See you then.

Bye, dudes and dames. Same WoW channel. You too, Penguin Baby.

Get A Load of THIS Guy

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I've attacked Sun-Times White Sox reporter/blogger Joe Cowley before. But I also use him as a link for a lot of White Sox stories, so I gotta keep him in my Google Reader. I opened it last night and came across his new "feature", Morning Cup Of Joe, which you see above. That's the whole thing. Um. Wow. Not only did he play dress up for his horse's ass headshot, but said picture is bigger than the actual copy.

"Go, to the park? Hell, no." Interesting quote from a man described thusly on the sidebar just a handful of pixels away: "Joe Cowley covers the White Sox for the Chicago Sun-Times." Covering them from his rumpus room, apparently.


Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, hydrate.

  • WHAT do you think of that clip from the new baseball talk show starring Rob and I? I think we're both naturals on camera.

  • ARE you pumped for more stubby two game series? A whole bunch start tonight.

  • WHICH WoW commenter is actually Tyrone R. Squires?

Bang. Done for today. We'll get back to you. Tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

That's a headscratcher headline, I know. But it is really the only thesis statement I can draw from this Forbes article I just read. According to sports business writer Tom Van Riper (excellent name btw) The Indians' (and for that matter the Browns') lousy attendance, stingy spending and ultimately franchise devaluation are directly affected by playing in the same town as LeBron. Majorly affected to the point that TVR kinda just brushes past on-field performance.

Already playing in baseball's third-smallest market, the Indians have discovered that sharing their limited stage with a larger than life star means permanent understudy status, as they play before sparse crowds on a limited budget.

With local fans jamming Quicken Loans arena this spring for the NBA playoffs, Progressive Field, the Indians home that averaged over 40,000 fans nightly from 1996 to 2000, has drawn fewer than 15,000 per game so far this season, last in Major League Baseball and less than what the Cavs averaged this year in a building less than half the size.

The Indians seem well on their way to their sixth losing record in nine years, but the poor attendance isn't due only to that. The 2007 club, which won 96 games and narrowly missed the World Series, ranked 21st of baseball's 30 teams in attendance at just over 28,000 per game.

The real LeBron victims are the Indians, a once-resurgent franchise that is back to resembling the bumbling bunch that was spoofed in the 1989 movie Major League. It's a long way from the heady days of the 1990s, when the Indians routinely filled a new ballpark and appeared in two World Series.

Yes, the Indians are a long way from the "heady 90's." But so is everyone else on earth because IT'S 2009 2010. And also, because their team is a long way from being anywhere near as good. Let's not forget that about $50M of that "limited budget" has been given to Jake Westbrook and Travis Hafner. By the time Van Riper uses the Indians successful 2007 campaign as a barometer for winning's impact on attendance he's already contradicted himself in the preceding sentence. Losing seasons in 6 out of 9 years. THAT'S what drives attendance. To pack a baseball stadium every night you have to prove your team's worth to lots of casual fans. Being a losing team for the better part of a decade brands your team as a bad value for a night's entertainment. The occasional single season blip cannot turn the tide. Sample size.

So where does this tenuous at best, and gonzo at worst, kind of correlation come from? Well, from the bedrock of all good financial reporting: laughable anecdotal quotes. He talks to a PIRATES exec from the late 80's (yes, I'm aware they were good then, but still) on Mario Lemieux's impact on the baseball team.

"We never wanted to say it, but we knew darn well it was affecting us," Mullin says of going up against Lemieux during his Pirate years.

The Pirates are the last team you'd want involved to try and prove this shared spotlight theory. Ben Roethlisberger could sexually assault Sidney Crosby until both their teams had to fold and the Pirates would still draw 700 people a night. In a beautiful park.

Progressive Field won't be full again until Indians management (lookin at you Shapiro. Sell that house before the Cleveland economy has a post-James meltdown) figures out a way to get a winning team on the field. And they feel as far away as ever. The only way LeBron leaving town is going to help is if he takes a bunch of lousy baseball players with him.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I am not Ruth Buzzy standing here.

  • WHICH Stubby Series finale will you be watching?

  • YOU familiar with Iraq's national baseball team? They're pretty new at all this so don't bet on them unless you're prepared to take a Baath.

  • ARE you sad that Ryan Freel retired? Duk calls him a "blog all-star" but it seems all we ever did is slam the guy. Happy trails, Nutcase. Go study Steve Lyons and figure out why he's not homeless yet.

Alright, now. I'm gonna head out to hoepfully watch the Red Sox salvage a shred of their dignity. Despite last night's heartbreaker (which I didn't even watch) the beauty of a two game series (I guess) is that a win tonight neutralizes everything. Though when you're 8.5 games out you need more than neutralization.

Anyway, we'll see you back here tomorrow. Same WoW Channel. You too, Thunder Shin.

Without You: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Brewers at Reds, 12:35: So, yeah. First place Reds. 8-1 in their last 9 games. They're on such a roll that even Homer Bailey (today's starter) pitched a CG shutout last time out, albeit against the Pirates. Former WoW Favorite Manny Parra makes his first start of the year moving from the bullpen.

  • Twins at Blue Jays, 12:37: Minnesota took the first game of this series 8-3, but today run up against Shaun Marcum. He's like a Phoenix. Rising from Arizona. His WHIP is under one, he's striking out a handful of guys each game, and has been getting sporadic run support. Then again, Justin Morneau has 3 hits in 5 lifetime at bats against him. And two of them were ding dongs. And he's got 3 in last two games. WHO WILL GIVE?

  • White Sox at Tigers, 1:05: Rick Porcello makes what I believe to be his 20th afternoon start of the year. What's the opposite of a vampire? He's that. The Tigers lit him up for 5 in 5 in his first appearance againt them this year. Freddy Garcia goes for the White Sox, he of the 179 career IP against Detroit. Magglio Ordonez alone has faced him 45 times. The Tigers are two games back of the Twins.

  • Snakes at Fish, 1:10: The Marlins dropped last night's game 5-1 (WAY TO SUPPORT THE IMMIGRANTS) . The Snakes have been hitting up a storm lately, but nobody makes a fool outta Josh Johnson. I bet he strikes out ten guys today.

  • Indians at Rays, 1:10: Tampa is still rolling. They've currently racked up three in a row and it's not like the Indians are gonna do anything to stop them. Especially with David Price on the hill. IN 7 starts he's gone less than 6IP only once and has yet to give up more than 3ER. The Indians counter with David Huff who has given up 15 runs in his last 16IP. And his last name is Huff. GO CAVS!!!11!!

Feelin' Citi: Your Mets Futility Roundup

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According to Andy Martino of the NYDN Mets Blog yesterday's pregame had more emotion and drama than a locker room full of 15 year old field hockey girls. The Mets beat the also crappy Braves 3-2 but the biggest upset of the day was that Jerry Manuel spent the afternoon in a closed door meeting with Mets brass and didn't get fired. What the hell were they doing in there, then?

It was an interesting and memorable scene this afternoon in the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field. After Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya and John Ricco closed the door to Jerry Manuel's office, a crowd of reporters retreated to the other end of the room, and settled in to stare at the white brick wall that separated us from team brass.

A half hour passed. Manuel emerged from the room, froze and smiled when he saw an opportunity to shout to us, "I've got a uniform on." Then he walked into the coaches' lounge to retrieve Dan Warthen, Randy Niemann and trainer Ray Ramirez.

Perhaps Rod Barajas captured the mood of the clubhouse best when he said: "I didn't know there was a meeting...I knew the owner was here."

Awwwwwkward. Manuel may have avoided the chair yesterday but he's as much of a dead man walking as anyone else in baseball. Let us not forget that Manuel is about a career .500 skipper, but he's a couple ticks below that in NY. He entered the job interimererlyly following the last round of Babysitter's Club Managerial Peepee with Willie Randolph. If it weren't for the generous benefit of the doubt given to him for all the injuries the Mets sustained last year, he probably wouldn't have even begun this season as manager. Borrowed time dude.

And over at the New York Times Blog (which gave me a disgusted and condescending look after surfing to it from the Daily News) they're keeping track of another little bits of Mets history. It seems that barring injury (a huge caveat) or some sort of sustained but unforseen bout of plate selectivity David Wright and Jason Bay could both break the single season team K record. The record (156) is, hilariously, held by Dave Kingman. I would have put a tenner on Burnitz.

The Mets have played 38 games, or 24 percent of their season. Rounding up to one-quarter, Wright is on pace to strike out 204 times, obliterating his personal worst of 140 set last season (eighth on the team's all-time strikeout list). Wright is tied for the major league lead in strikeouts with 51 and leads the National League with 28 walks. With 40 strikeouts, Bay is on pace to whiff 160 times, just two shy of his personal worst.

The team is currently 21st in baseball with a .321 OBP, which is good for last in the division and 18th (2nd to last in the division) in runs scored with 170, 4 more than the Nationals. 350 whiffs from the heart of the order isn't going to improve these rankings. Los Mets have a lineup with all of key components healthy, yet is still being pushed around the bases by the mellifluous Rod Barajas.

The money! It does nothing! Although they do have the same record as the Red Sox.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I wish there was some hip way of telling you this, baby, but, ah... you're one with and part of an ever-expanding, loving, joyful, glorious, and harmonious universe.

  • WAS I on vacation last week too? No, my computer just wasn't working. BUT IT IS NOW, SO LOOKOUT SUCKERS.

  • WILL either the Sox or Yankees sweep their two game series that starts tonight?

  • CAN the Mets or Braves use their two game series to vault to or above .500?

  • CAN the Marlins build on their 4 game winning streak against the D-Backs? Will there be more protestors than fans?

  • WHAT is your favorite Dennis Hopper role? Today is his birthday. Easy Rider is the common answer but dude was also in Blue Velvet, Cool Hand Luke (one of my alltime favorites) and The Trip (one of my alltime favorite cult classics). Truly a treasure. And not feeling so well these days. Happy birthday and best wishes, dude.

  • CAN the Angels pull nearly even with the first place Rangers in their two game series? Derek Holland makes his second start of the year tonight.

  • WHY are there so many of these crappy two game series this week? Cause interleague starts this weekend and I guess everyone needs the extra day to breathe into a paper bag so they don't hyperventilate over the excitement.

Tonight, be well. You'll need yourself tomorrow. Same WoW Channel.

Boom, Bitch: The Dodgers Have Won 9 of 10

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Is May for lovers? Do people say that*? Hell if I know, but the Dodgers began the month at 10-14 in the NL West's cellar. And to make matters worse on May 7, owner Frank McCourt was forced to dole out a cool 637K to his ex wife every month. And she sucks. But lo and behold, just a couple days after the Ides, Frank's boys are getting lucky on the field. 7 in a row, 9 of ten and 11-3 overall for the month. This weekend's sweep happened all over the first place Padres, bringing LA to within 2 games of the lead. So what happened?

Like a handful of the modified belt sanders I watched race this weekend, some teams just get off to slow starts. And for the Dodgers that was particularly true of their starting pitching. Our old friend Tony Jackson works over at ESPN Los Angeles these days (<3 u Tony) and has, thankfully, done the math that I'm too lazy to.

The quartet of Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and rookie John Ely having gone a combined 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA thus far in May. The bullpen, meanwhile, has allowed two earned runs in 17 2/3 innings during the winning streak, a collective ERA of 1.02.

The team also put up a heap of runs against Arizona last week, but scored only 9 in this series and won yesterday's game on just two hits. Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal are both out, but Russell Martin has stepped into the breach, with a game winning RBI that extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

So what's at stake for the Dodgers as they try to stay hot this week during a pair of two game (boo) series against the Lastros and Pads (again)? With a volatile owner's suite, a shaky and oft criticized GM, a manager that is both old and pretty well accomplished already and the most mercurial star in the league, continued trouble could have sent this club into a severe panic mode. Rob and I had joked about Torre getting the axe earlier in the season, and while that wasn't going to happen, seeing the now 70 year old manager cite "personal reasons" for leaving the club while they hung below .500 all year wouldn't have been surprising. Seeing Ned Colletti engineer an alimony fueled fire sale at the trade deadline could also have been epic.

One half of one month does not a season make, and with the exception of Billingsley, there isn't a guy in that hot rotation who has proven that he can stay consistent over an entire season. But here in May the Dodgers have, for now, pulled their 2010 season out of the pyre, and I am glad to have them. Who really wants the Padres to win anything?

* probably not, but I found out it's Mediterranean Month whilst researching the delicious lentil salad that I'm eating.

Atlanta Braves NL West Title Clubhouse Party- 1982

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It's official. The "NL West Clubhouse Celebration Video" is now my favorite Classic TV Friday subgenre. Where once it brought us the insane fireball that was a lone, shrieking Will Clark during the '87 Giants' party, today it brings us drunken surrealism of the highest order.

It's 1982, I'm about 4 months old sitting in a high chair with strained carrots in my nose, but the Atlanta Braves have just won the division. These are the halcyon early days of TBS, 6 years into Ted Turner's ownership of the team (a genius acquisition that you can read about here). Turner was the face of the team more than just about any player during that era, and it's no surprise that he's the first guy interviewed. He was a likable, southern George Steinbrenner that smiled once in awhile. Once he lets out his greeting "AH WE LIIIIVE?" and then is accosted by the San Diego chicken one can only speculate on the number of bottles popped that day. And all this happens within the first minute of this epic ride. Watch it all, you won't regret it. So many epic quotes. You'll be primed for the weekend. I may watch this every Friday.

Classic Scene: Today's Afternoon Games

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fish bowl.jpg

Full slate of afternooners today. On with em.

  • Reds at Pirates, 12:35: In which Homer Bailey continues the struggle to be viewed as a good major league pitcher with each start. While Homes has gone more than 6 in any outing this year, he turned in a quality start against STL on 5/1... only to be shelled by Chicago in his following turn. But the Reds look for the sweep and their 12th win in 16 games. A streak that's gone a ways towards cooling Dusty's seat. Zach Duke (also coming off a great start against STL) goes for the Bucs.

  • Yankees at Tigers, 1:05: Double dip, thanks rain. The spectacular Phil Hughes can be scored upon by no mortal. Despite putting 30 runners on base in 32IP, only 6 of them have crossed home plate. He takes on Jeremy Bonderman in the first game. The second game sees Javy Vasquez take on Rick Porcello in an ERA matchup that looks more like opposing point guard PPGs. The Tigs took the first game of this 4 game set.

  • Braves at Brewers, 1:10: Atlanta has snapped out of their hitting funk up in Milwaukee (Algonquin for the good land) and have their hands on the broom. Both teams have identical 15-18 records and a love of good books. Lowe vs. Gallardo.

  • Nats at Mets, 1:10: Rubber in Queens between two more teams with identical records. The Nats are probably more of a surprise to the rest of the country, but round these Met bashing parts, that posi start has been the bigger surprise. Chris Stammen takes on the fallen back to earth Mike Pelfrey.

  • White Sox at Twins, 1:10: It's the final game of a Two Game Series, "The Only Series Length Officially Unedorsed By Walkoff Walk™." The White Sox won the first game 5-2 and today look to "sweep." The Twins are holding a 2.5 game lead in the division. John Danks takes on Mr. Reliable Carl Pavano. No, I'm serious. Dude has gone at least 7 innings in 4 of 6 starts, going 6 in one other. INNINGS EATER.

  • Blue Jays at Red Sox: The Sox look for their second series sweep in as many weeks. This one would allow them to jump Toronto into third place. Celebrate good times, come on! Shaun Marcum continues on the road back from the CTC Curse against Tim Wakefield, a man who will be starting for the Red Sox when I turn 45. Good thing this is an afternoon game because MY BAND FRENCH COPS IS PLAYING AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES ON LANDSDOWNE STREET DIRECTLY NEXT DOOR AT 930. ADMISSION IS FREE.

  • Marlins at Cubs, 2:20: Lord the Cubs are up and down. They're currently mired in their 27th hitting slump of the young season and have lost 4 in a row. The broomin Fish could get to .500 with a win. That 4 way tie that Iracane predicted isn't really gonna happen is it?? Volstad Defender Of The Universe takes on Carlos Silva.

  • Phillies at Rockies 3:05. Double trouble. Roy Halladay, protagonist of this new Baseball Project tune takes on the scuttling Aaron Cook in game one and Jamie Moyer, who must even be sick of hearing about himself, takes on the scuttling Jason Hammel in game two. In fact the whole Rockies team is in trouble as of late. Lots of injuries, lots of errors and lousy pitching. They've lost 3 of 4 including the first game of this series. WHERE ARE YOU, LORD? IS IT ROXTOBER YET?

Tom Hicks' Debt Becomes Key Player In AL West Race

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One kinda big story that continues to fly under the radar is the potential sale of the Texas Rangers. We covered it here in December primarily because Nolan Ryan had intimated that if the sale went through to Dennis Gilbert, the man believed to be the likely new owner, Ryan would have left the Rangers and that woulda been a big fat L for the team. Five months have passed, and while there is a new likely new guy, the sale still appears light years away due to the debt amassed by current "owner" (perhaps the only one in baseball who could give Jeff Loria a run for his money in an anti-popularity contest), Tom Hicks. Things are getting so bad that, wait for it, MLB may have to seize control of the Rangers. Oof.

You see, Hicks agreed in January to sell the team led by a lawyer named Chuck Greenberg, a guy endorsed by Ryan, for around $500M but the Hicks Sports Group has amassed over $525M in debt and its creditors, led by a hedge fund, think Hicks could get more than he's getting from Greenberg. And baseball is the only one that can block their block. Get it?

Both MLB and Hicks are believed to strongly favor Greenberg's roughly $500 million offer, the latter due to Ryan's involvement and the former because Greenberg has agreed to buy a huge tract of land surrounding Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, owned by Hicks, and not by HSG. But Monarch Alternative Capital, which holds about $100 million of the $525 million in defaulted debt, and about 40 other creditors are seeking to block that deal, which they call the cheapest of three bids for the team.

MLB believes that it can deprive the bondholders of their right to block the sale, as their contracts are with HSG. The creditors would doubtless dispute that contention in court; in the meantime, MLB is trying to act as a mediator between the two sides.

The article goes on to state that "baseball has been helping the Rangers meet their payroll " to the tune of about $16M. And with the Rangers leading a still tight AL West, that in its current iteration they have to think they can win, a little deadline spending may in order this summer. Not likely if MLB takes the team on as a business concern. Remember the Expos death rattle?

The Rangers also have what is considered to be some of the best top to bottom organizational talent (as I found out from the first paragraph of this Keith Law article not hidden behind the Insider paywall) and need solid organizational leadership to foster its growth.

All this could turn into a potential nightmare ending to what has to be one of the most optimistic times in the team's history. So remember kids, don't get credit cards!

CIA Dope Calypso: Today's Afternoon Games

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  • Blue Jays at Indians, 12:05: The Indians are falling like a rock. Anyone read the Plain Dealer Comment of the Day lately? Me either, but I have a feeling it was written on a bridge. What's the worst all-time winning pct for a manager with at least 3 years of games? Manny Acta's gonna be damn close isn't he? Brandon Morrow takes on Fausto!.
  • Mets at Reds, 12:35: Rubs in Cincy. The Mets had five solo homers last night including the go ahead 9th inning shot from the most fun name to say in MLB, Rod Barajas. Today the Reds trot out Johnny Cueto a man who's flirted with 30 HR allowed in each of his first two seasons. Ma, get the Heinz. Tots-a-poppin.

  • Orioles at Yankees, 1:05: The Yankees have the broom out illustrating a key difference between them and the Red Sox thus far in 2010. They can sweep baseball's worst team instead of being swept by them. That and defense win championships. David Hernandez takes on Zombie Undead Andy Petitte.

  • Twins at Tigers, 1:10: Minnesota's got the dustpan and can really get an early handle on the AL Central. Detroit starter Rick Porcello's ERA is around 8, and it aint like he had one terrible early start and is climbing his way back. Dude has given up at least 5 runs in each of his last 3 starts. Kevin Slowey goes for Minnesota. He's 3-0 career against DET despite having a 6.20 ERA. LAUGHABLE.

  • Rangers at A's, 3:35: First Place Texas (more on them later) could drop a half game back of Oakland if they lose the rubber match of this series today. Vlad Guerrero had a ding dong and 5 RBI in last night's loss. Colby Lewis makes the start for the Rangers fresh off a CG shutout against the Mariners. Trevor Cahill is on the mound for the A's who're 3-7 in their last ten.

My Awesome Bill James Story From Last Night

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So last night I was at Fenway covering the game for some freelance stuff. As is usually the case I spent a few innings outside the press box once I had finished transcribing my work. I got a hot dog and was headed to watch some at bats from on top of the Monster. As I walked behind the third base grandstands I saw Bill James by himself in the standing room only area. I stopped and stood next to him like an obvious creep.

As James snuck a peek at my press credential to try and determine who the person that was about to annoy him worked for, the game was tied 1-1 in the 8th. JD Drew, probably my favorite Sox player, was at bat with Kevin Youkilis on first. Drew worked the count full and fouled off 3 straight pitches. I was about to turn to James and say my big line: "I think he's got him here."

Instead, he turned to me and said "I think he's got him here."

And then I said, "I was about to say that to you!"

And then Drew knocked a ball to right center to jumpstart a big inning and help the Red Sox take the lead and Bill James and I laughed and slapped each other on the back as the crowd went animal crackers.

It was wicked cool. The end.

Bad Water, Worse Baseball

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It didn't take a half hour for the Standells jokes to start. On Saturday afternoon, on what was the finest day of weather the city has seen this year, Boston Police cruised down Centre St. in my Jamaica Plain neighborhood announcing that our water was unsafe to imbibe, cook with, or brush our teeth with. They rolled slowly down the balmy and packed weekend streets speaking calmly through a bullhorn. It was like a combination of "Summer In The City" and Don DeLillo. Coffee, gone. Restaurants, crippled. Boiling for use to eliminate potential parasites was less than appealing when the temperature hit 85 yesterday.

Showering has been fine. We're using backup reserves from Chestnut Hill Reservoir. It's basically like pond water, although its proximity to BC makes me think I smell a little Natty Ice in it. But in general, an inconvenience of this magnitude (and that's what anyone should call it unless someone dies) is all encompassing. I didn't even know that a car bomb had been discovered in Times Square until this morning.

And it isn't even the worst thing that happened this weekend since the Red Sox got swept by the Orioles.

Add Kevin Youkilis to the injury pile, along with 3 outfielders. Snuff out any rotational optimism after Dice-K got shelled in his return (and then Wakefield got slammed trying to relieve him). The Red Sox leave April with a losing record for the first time since 1996. That year they "rebounded" to go 85-77 but still finished 7 games back. And in 2010, that record will leave you even further out. You karmic or religious types could speculate that our plague of unclean water was either a result of, or punishment for their putrid play. But they didn't even have the decency to be around for it. They were getting pantsed in Baltimore.

Even Dan Shaughnessy was out of town, which seems unfair. He was in Cleveland covering the Celtics (another one of my favorite teams for whom I am not particularly optimistic regarding the coming week, Go Bruins) and writing about how much he loves that city, particularly its "cab drivers who speak English and know their way around town." As opposed to our drivers here in Boston who only speak Klingon and are constantly driving into the ocean. How come he didn't have to be here to suffer with the rest of us? Why does circumstance have such a lousy sense of justice?

Today it is somehow both 80 degrees and grey/drizzly and I still can't go to the cafe for an iced tea. That bottled stuff is swill. Luckily, The Red Sox start a 3 game set with the also suffering and just swept Angels. Clay Buchholz, one of two bright spots for the team at the moment**, is on the mound and if the Sox don't snap out of it I might cry. At least then I could use my tears to brush my teeth.

*Look at that roster.
**FSSJD Drew being the other. 3 HR in the Baltimore series

(Photo stolen from Pat Greenhouse of the Boston Globe)