Rob Iracane: March 2008 Archives

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Sorry, fans of the Pirates, Astros, Nationals, and Braves. We just ran out of space on our blog today to post your lineups. Actually, I retract the apology to the Braves and Nats; y'all played last night! Click here if you want to see all the lineup posts that CTC posted today. He did yeoman's work while I was sitting in the rain. One last lineup, via the box score on MLB.com. I give you the Angels of California:

3B - Chone Figgins
DH - Gary Matthews
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
LF - Garret Anderson
CF - Torii Hunter
1B - Casey Kotchman
2B - Howie Kendrick
C - Mike Napoli
SS - Cesar Izturis

The Angels have enough outfielders in that lineup to fill...well...two outfields. Why did they sign Torii Hunter one year after throwing $50 million at Gary Matthews? I'm perplexed. Jered Weaver gets the nod at starting pitcher because of the injury to John Lackey; I like Weaver...he's good enough to be a #1 guy anyway.

Insert Joe Torre Joke Here

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I stole the Dodgers lineup from MLB.com so I won't even bother mentioning the mouthpiece who wrote it.

Rafael Furcal - SS
Andre Ethier - LF
Matt Kemp - RF
Jeff Kent - 2B
Andruw Jones - CF
Russell Martin - C
James Loney - 1B
Blake DeWitt - 3B
Brad Penny - P

I don't know who Blake DeWitt is but I'm sure Torre would rather be penciling Nomar Garciaparra or Andy La Roche in that slot. In better news for Dodgers fans: Juan Pierre is not in your Opening Day lineup. Andre Ethier won the left field job. Good job, Joe! You made the right decision! We miss you!

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Okay, it's not Nolan Ryan, but instead old codger T.R. Sullivan who presents the Texas Rangers Opening Day lineup:

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Hank Blalock
DH Milton Bradley
LF David Murphy
RF Marlon Byrd
C Gerald Laird
1B Ben Broussard

SP Kevin Millwood

Milton Bradley is crazy enough to make some noise in the heart of that lineup with Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock...they'll either be hitting home runs or striking out a ton. Today? I'm going to guess striking out a ton, as they face new Seattle Mariners ace Erik Bedard.

Oh this game is underway already? Good for them.

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Twins blogger Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press provides us with Minnesota's Opening Day lineup. Hey, is Kelsie a lady's name or a man's name?

1. Carlos Gomez, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Craig Monroe, DH
7. Mike Lamb, 3B
8. Brendan Harris, 2B
9. Adam Everett, SS

Livan Hernandez, SP

I have nothing to add to this lineup, except quotes from Fargo:

"Oh for Pete's sake, he's fleeing the interview! He's fleeing the interview!"

"You know, it's proven that second-hand smoke is, uh, carcin-... uh, you know, cancer related."

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I just got back from the Yankees Opening Day festivities that were rained out and boy, are my arms tired. Looks like it's raining everywhere across the country, which is God's way of telling us not to play baseball until April. It's even raining in St. Louis, says Denver Post blogger Troy Renck. Troy, what about the Rockies' lineup against the Cardinals?

1. CF Willy Taveras
2. SS Troy Tulowitzki
3. 1B Todd Helton
4. LF Matt Holliday
5. 3B Garrett Atkins
6. RF Brad Hawpe
7. C Yorvit Torrealba
8. 2B Jayson Nix
9. LHP Jeff Francis

Hey, that's quite a spread. Here's hoping the rain lets up so you kids can have yourselves a game. Unlike the Yankees, who are forcing me to drag my sorry ass back to the Bronx tomorrow night.

dusty.jpgMy buddy John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer gives us Dusty Baker's Opening Day lineup for his new team, the Cincinnati Reds:

Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javier Valentin C
Aaron Harang P

Okay, so I have to give Dusty credit for including young talent like Keppinger, Phillips, and Encarnacion, but really, did he have a choice? No. He had a choice in center field and he chose the washed-up Patterson to lead off. Yes, Corey had a .316 OBP last season. This is a sham; Marge Schott is spinning in her grave right now.
brewers_mb.gifTom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides us with the Brewers Opening Day lineup:

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
1B Prince Fielder
LF Ryan Braun
3B Bill Hall
RF Corey Hart
SS J.J. Hardy
RHP Ben Sheets
C Jason Kendall

Tony Gwynn Jr. is young and has a famous name but he's not very good. Mike Cameron is actually the Brewers everyday center fielder but he's suspended to start the season because of his stimulant-related oopsie. Mike, you're a great defensive center fielder and we know you had that little collision problem, but just stick to Red Bull like the Red Sox did in Japan for all your stimulating needs.
cards.jpgThanks to Derrick Goold of the St Louis Post Dispatch for providing the Opening Day lineup for the St Louis Cardinals:

Skip Schumaker, LF
Ryan Ludwick, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Troy Glaus, 3B
Rick Ankiel, CF
Yadier Molina, C
Cesar Izturis, SS
Adam Wainwright, RHP
Aaron Miles, 2B

Yes, that is Aaron Miles batting ninth, which implements La Russa's strategy of having "two" leadoff batters in the lineup. Moving the pitcher up to the eighth position will provide more protection for leadoff batter and rookie sensation Skip Schumaker, who had a great spring.
San_diego_padres_logo.jpgThe hosers at MLB.com give us the Padres' Opening Day lineup:

Brian Giles - RF
Tad Iguchi - 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B
Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
Scott Hairston - CF
Khalil Greene - SS
Josh Bard - C
Paul McAnulty - LF
Jake Peavy - P

Hairston will be the regular left fielder once Jim Edmonds gets healthy, but perhaps this Paul McAnulty kid will make a splash. Iguichi, Kouzmanoff and Gonzalez is an excellent name for a law firm.
sfgiants.jpgJohn Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle gives us a peek at the Giants' Opening Day lineup: Dave Roberts - LF
Rich Aurilia - 1B
Randy Winn - RF
Bengie Molina - C
Ray Durham - 2B
Aaron Rowand - CF
Jose Castillo - 3B
Brian Bocock - SS
Barry Zito - P

So the Giants have gone from the greatest hitter of our generation frightening pitchers in the third or fourth slot of the lineup for years to....Bengie Molina batting cleanup. This is a shame, but hey! They've got Bocock!

Hooray for Opening Day!

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The real live baseball season is finally upon us because today is OPENING DAY! Today is the day we can pretend that those Red Sox - A's games in Japan never happened. Today is the day we can pretend that Ryan Zimmerman didn't really hit a walkoff home run last night to lead the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves in the inaugural game at Nationals Park. Today is the day we can pretend that Pres-o-dent Bush didn't get heartily and lustily booed before, during, and after throwing out the inaugural pitch. Today is the day we can pretend all those preseason games didn't happen, especially when everybody leaves way before the seventh inning stretch. Yeah, we can even pretend that all the loud obnoxious blathering idiots surrounding our national pastime never really existed.

Why do we let ourselves live in such a world of make-believe? Because on Opening Day, every team and every player and every stadium urinal start out fresh. Anything can happen, even in the urinals. Every team's fans have hope today, well, except the Orioles fans. Sorry.

I'm lucky enough to be going to see the Yankees and the Blue Jays kick off the AL East season today; all the stars will be there: Lyle Overbay! Marco Scutaro! Buck Coats! My associate Camp Tiger Claw (who did an amazing job on Friday by the by) will take you through the rest of the day. I leave you with my 2008 season predictions:

  • Sleeper team (AL): Watch out for the Royals. Really.
  • Sleeper team (NL): The Cardinals will surprise you. Ferreals.
  • World Series loser: Those Diamondbacks are all growed up now.
  • World Series winner: The Yankees, because I am a total homer.
  • Most disappointing: The Mets won't win 90 games, regardless of what I said earlier. Mark it down.

Dear commenters, what are your team-related predictions?

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Welp, we received a total of thirty-one entries in the First Annual Prophecy of Mediocrity contest; adding in our two sets of picks brings the sum to 33 contestants for this challenge. Yes, we are having a contest to predict the six teams that will finish in third place, because winning a division is boring.

Are you interested in entering? Tough shit, it's too late. If you DID enter and forgot to submit a tiebreaker, it's not too late for that. Just email Darren. Speaking of which, our intern Darren tabulated the results, created a spreadsheet, and ran the numbers so let's see who picked whom:

  • The most popular teams were the Blue Jays (23 votes), Rangers (21), White Sox (18), Braves (18), Phillies (14), Rockies (14), and Reds (13). Of these teams, I'd be least surprised to see the Braves break the mold and finish higher than third.

  • The least popular teams were the Yankees, Orioles, Indians, Angels, Mets, and Nationals, all receiving zero votes, probably because these teams are expected to finish either first or last. Of these teams, I would be least surprised to see the Mets finish third.

  • One dummy picked the Red Sox (me) and one awesome entrant picked the Giants (someone whose strategy was picking all of last year's last place teams).

  • The most wide open division in baseball according to our readers is the NL Central. The votes went thusly: Reds (13), Brewers (5), Astros (5), Cardinals (5), Cubs (3), and Pirates (2). My vote was for the Pirates, but I am now more inclined to see the Cards shock and awe with a third-place finish.

  • The least wide open division is the AL East. Votes: Blue Jays (23), Rays (9), Red Sox (1), Yankees (0), Orioles (0).

  • The only two entrants who submitted the same six teams were Matt_T and GHABB,Y; no surprise that Braves fan Matt_T chose the Phillies. They have different tiebreakers

  • The average tiebreaker guess (average number of wins for all third place teams) was 72.75, only because three people didn't submit a guess and I marked them down for zero. Removing these lollygaggers gives us 80.03. Most people picked 82, because it is a nice round number.

Well, that's it for now. We'll revisit this again at midseason and see who is in the lead, aka the person most likely to win a Walkoff Walk t-shirt.

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Hey Orioles fans! Yeah, all one of you. I have good news! Looks like Andy MacPhail isn't going to trade Brian Roberts after all. Instead of losing 100 games, the Orioles will now only lose 95! Congratulations, Peter Angelos. This is the second greatest accomplishment of your career, right after all those enormous mesothelioma settlements.

The Cubs had been interested and offered a nice package of prospects. Chicago could desperately use a real leadoff-type guy and Roberts fits that mold. They just signed Blue Jay detritus Reed Johnson but if they pencil him and his .300 OBP in the #1 slot, I will personally punch Lou Piniella in the throat. I have a blog so I am an expert: the Cubs should bat Kosuke Fukudome leadoff. He's fast, he has a good eye, he walks a ton, and he can hit. Well, he could do all those things in Japan. Nobody knows how that will translate, just like nobody knows how to translate "dirty water vienna beef hot dog with neon green relish" into Japanese.

So what's the holdup on this trade anyway, Andy?

"We continue to talk," he said. "I think with each passing hour at this point, it's less and less likely. I just think it's less likely the further we get this close into it, the greater likelihood that we're going to start with what we have."

Translation: throw in another pitching prospect and you've got yourself a deal, Zell.

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The venerable publication Sports Illustrated has made its picks for the 2008 baseball season, and I am going to take this opportunity to point and laugh.

Hmmm, the Reds finishing second? I guess they're believers of the ol' Dusty bounce. I believe in the Dusty bounce, too except it involves pitchers' arms falling off and bouncing off the mound.

Uhh, the Mariners finishing second? Geoff Baker's readers would disagree.

Other than those two, I think they've done a pretty good job ranking the teams. I haven't had a chance to read all the previews, mostly because my eyeballs are about to pop out of my head. I assume, however, that they will make several other predictions that will eventually prove to be entirely off-base. Ha! A baseball pun!

Here are the division winners and playoff participants that I copied and pasted from the Brewers blog guy:

NL Central: Cubs
NL East: Mets
NL West: Rockies
Wild Card: Diamondbacks

AL Central: Tigers
AL East: Yankees
AL West: Angels
Wild Card: Red Sox

Playoffs:
NL: Cubs over Diamondbacks; Rockies over Mets
AL: Tigers over Red Sox; Yankees over Angels

Pennant:
NL: Cubs over Rockies
AL: TIgers over Yankees

World Series: Tigers over Cubs

That actually looks perfectly fine to me, actually, except that this means the Tigers will certainly not win the World Series. They got the vote of confidence curse, which is almost as bad as the cover curse. Speaking of which, I believe the cover of the baseball preview issue will feature Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Upton, so watch out kids.

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Live from Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida, it's your final Grapefruit League Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog, featuring the Houston Astros hosting the Cleveland Indians. Earlier today, the Oakland A's defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-1 in Tokyo, Japan as oft-injured Rich Harden decided to not be injured today and pitched six solid innings to lead his team. Also, Emil Brown hit a home run.

But this afternoon, it's Roy Oswalt versus C.C. Sabathia, so you know these teams aren't effing around. It's the Astros' final spring game in Florida and the Indians' second to last, so let's send them off with a terribly prepared liveglog, after the ol' jump:

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The president of the Baseball hall of fame was forced to resign yesterday, due to "(a failure) to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility" in the best interests of the organization. Yes, Dale Petroskey was a terrible businessman; he probably traded away Babe Ruth's mitt and Ty Cobb's cap in exchange for POGs or something. I've never been to Cooperstown so maybe that was the reason Petroskey was let go: in his nine years of leadership, he failed to entice Rob Iracane to visit. Perhaps this is one reason why I stayed away, Dale:

The Hall of Fame president (Dale Petroskey) canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham" because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger," said Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under President Reagan.

That was 2003, of course, back when the war was totally cool and everyone dug it and the mission was totally accomplished. Today? Fuck you and your bully pulpit, Dale. That's a cowardly way to protect your buddies' interests, and we know you're friends with only the best folks.

Vice president Jeff Idelson takes over as president and you already know my problems with him.

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Sometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Phil Birnbaum offered a bet against anyone who believed that there was some statistical evidence to the idea that you can predict 'clutch hitting'. He didn't get much of a response, probably because anyone who actually believes in 'clutch hitting' doesn't actually understand statistics enough to know it doesn't exist: Sabermetric Research

  • Blue Jays blogger Stoeten actually liveblogged a sports talk radio show, and he actually kept score to see if the radio guy or the callers were being bigger idiots. I like this idea, except I would never listen to sports talk radio if you put a gun to my head: Drunk Jays Fans

  • Our buddy 'duk catches wind of Wayne Gretzky wearing a Royals uniform, in some sort of sick exchange for the time George Brett went to a Phoenix Coyotes game. This makes no sense to me. It's as if they both lost the bet. No, there are no pictures of this, so if anyone finds one, tell 'em: Big League Stew

  • Our old friend Kyle Blanks is rated as one of the top 100 prospects. Yeah, it's #93 but it's just an honor to be named: MLB Rumors

  • Reds beat reporter John Fay spots Danny Graves in a Twins uniform. Yes, Danny Graves is back, in Twins form! Also, that is the least flattering picture of any beat writer in the history of beat writing, John. Who thought it was a good idea to take a full-length body shot and have it on every one of your blog posts? Thank God I've been reading your work in my Google Reader and the picture does not show up. Because yeah, you shore do write purty, but the photo? Do not want: Reds Insider

That's it for today, kiddies. Tomorrow, there will be a liveglog but I'll be damned if I'm waking up at 6AM to follow actual real live regular season baseball.

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Hey, remember in 2005 when Devil Rays infielder Jorge Cantu surprised everyone and hit all those home runs and had all those doubles? And then remember 2006 and 2007 when Cantu couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with the broad side of another barn and was subsequently traded to the Reds and then summarily released? Well, Cantu is back, this time with the Marlins, and he is tearin' up spring training thanks to an offseason program that involved underwater yoga:

"We have our own techniques," trainer Dennis Fay said of the Texas Sports Medicine facility in Houston. "We use water exercises, breathing-underwater drills, extreme yoga. We work on a player's bat speed with a series of chains. The chains are on a handle, and they swing the chains to build up their speed."

Oh, excuse me, I misspoke. It's underwater extreme yoga. What the heck does that mean anyway? The downward facing doggypaddle? Ba ha ha! (insert yoga/swimming comedy pyramid here)

Cantu is indeed hitting well this spring. He's got a .706 slugging percentage, what with eight of his 22 hits being doubles, and looks to become the Marlins starting third baseman now that Florida has cut Jose Castillo loose. Still, former Marlins third baseman and baseball's latest chubby tycoon Miguel Cabrera is a tough act to follow and 50 at-bats against all different grades of pitchers is no way to truly evaluate talent. Perhaps if the Marlins installed one of these in their training room, Cantu will continue to mash.

(We once again owe a Coke to Baseball Musings)

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Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley has a serious drinking problem. No, not the Tony La Russa slash Mickey Mantle slash Bob Welch slash David Wells variety. Instead, Trembley has a hankering for a more Methodist-acceptable beverage:

Anybody who has ever played for Orioles manager Dave Trembley knows the perfect way to his heart - buy him his favorite diet soda. So when he arrived in the manager's office in the visiting clubhouse at Port St. Lucie earlier this spring, he was not surprised to see a bottle of his favorite diet beverage waiting for him, along with a nice note. It was a gift from New York Mets pitcher and former Oriole John Maine, whom Trembley managed at Double-A Bowie.

Sure, it's just soda, but be careful, Dave. Studies have found that the aspartame in certain diet sodas can cause brain damage in rats. Also, the caffeine makes them nervous and worry about the mortgage payments on their nests and why their daughters are running around with that unemployed red squirrel from the bad side of the glen. Other studies show that switching from regular soda to diet soda may actually lead to weight gain, presumably because the artificial sweeteners trigger something in your brain that gives you an unavoidable urge to ingest whole pies.

I guess Trembley shouldn't worry too much about all that; the O's are so awful he'll be switching to scotch on the rocks by mid-May. You would too if this guy was your Opening Day pitcher.

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Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals (and fans of True American Grit) were sad to see shortstop David Eckstein move across the border to the Blue Jays during the offseason. However would the team replace such a scrappy little feller? With absolute shit, of course! Yes, new Cardinals shortstop Cesar Izturis is having a Not Very Good Spring Training:

Izturis continued to perk up his pedestrian spring with a two-out RBI single and two runs scored Saturday in the Cardinals' exhibition victory against Minnesota. His average this spring is .174, and he has eight hits, one more than the seven errors in 16 games. For most of March, his total hits have been chasing his total errors, at one time falling two behind. The hits only recently caught up.

Hey, Izzy got another hit on Sunday and his average is all the way up to .184! But cripes, he's only one error shy of his entire 2007 total. In sixteen games. Pity the poor Cardinals; it's a shame they don't have anyone else halfway capable of playing the position. Oh wait, they do:

Contrast that with Brendan Ryan's offensive pep, his .366 on-base percentage and his thriving in the No. 9 -- as well as anyone, really -- and it would seem that the second-year infielder is making a push to foil the veteran Izturis' comeback as an everyday player.

Too bad La Russa is sticking with his guns and will most likely pencil Izturis into the Cardinals' opening day lineup. I realize that I am not a baseball 'scout' and I don't 'know a lot about baseball' and I might not ever 'watch Cardinals games during the regular season' and I certainly can't 'evaluate talent' but c'mon Tony, just because the team threw three million dollars at Izturis doesn't mean you actually have to play him. Yes, he was once an All-Star and once won a Gold Glove, but (a) he's also had Tommy John surgery since then and (2) those awards have idiots voting for them. Roll the dice, Tony. You're going to struggle to be a .500 team no matter what, so why not let the guy who can actually get on base be your ninth place hitter?

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Welp, looks like the ol' dispute is over because the game is happening today, albeit an hour later than it was scheduled. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was scratched so the Red Sox will go with David Aardsma, while the Blue Jays will start someone named Brian Tallet.

Follow me after the jump for the ol' liveglog:

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I am sorry to inform my liveglog readers that there will be no Wednesday Afternoon Liveglog today. There is only one afternoon game on XM and it's the Red Sox-Blue Jays at noon. I have a lunch date. Don't worry...once the regular season commences, EVERY single game will be broadcast on XM. I think part of the reason is that some of these games aren't even broadcast on traditional radio; XM just rebroadcasts their signal anyway, which is why we've been so luck to hear Dave Niehaus

In exchange for disappointing all four of you, I would like to offer you an opportunity to vote for which game I will liveglog on Wednesday April 2nd, the first regular season liveglog. Please choose from the following three games and vote in the comment section:

  1. Royals at Tigers, 1:05PM
  2. Brewers at Cubs, 2:20PM
  3. Red Sox at A's, 3:35PM

There are many Red Sox fans who read this blog. Don't stuff the ballot box!

UPDATE: I lied, I don't have a lunch date but the Red Sox aren't playing today because they're on strike. So either way, no liveglog. Sorry.

UPDATE: The A's have now voted to boycott the Japan trip as well. This Red Sox / Blue Jays game is pretty much not gonna happen, but that's not stopping the Sox announcers from chit chattin with us.

UPDATE: The Red Sox players are waiting in the clubhouse now; they will probably come out soon and sign autographs for the kids. After all, this is their last game in Florida for the spring.

UPDATE: I am liveglogging a non-game that I wasn't going to liveglog anyway.

UPDATE: The game is ON! First pitch at 1:10PM. Now I suppose I must liveglog this nonsense...

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Barry Bonds is in the news again and there is no bigger pariah in baseball whose last name doesn't rhyme with Blemens than Barry. Seems as if the MLB Players Association is investigating why free agent Bonds isn't getting any offers. MLBPA head Donald Fehr is even throwing around the C-bomb. No, not that one, I meant 'collusion'. So, as expected, his detractors are being quite vocal. San Francisco Chronicle blogger "The Betting Fool" snidely lists the reasons Bonds isn't being signed:

  • Too old? Check?
  • Too much money and a hard-ass agent who will want more than his client is worth? Check.
  • Is mostly worthless in the field? Check.
  • Is mostly poison in the clubhouse? Depends which one, but mostly a check.
  • Possible impending trial on perjury charges? Double check!

Sour grapes, I suppose, but if my team's last viable offensive player had been cast out of the clubhouse like a trollop, then I'd be pretty sour myself. Sorry Giants fans, you're nothing without Barry.

My favorite part of the blog entry is the photo caption: "Barry tends to draw a crowd, which can be a major distraction for other teammates." You know what else tends to draw a crowd? A SUCCESSFUL TEAM THAT WINS GAMES!

My colleague analyzed Bonds' unemployment last month and I think we both came to the conclusion that a handful of American League teams should offer the guy a few million bucks to, you know, make their lineup more gooder. Tampa? Seattle? Kansas City? Want to compete? Here's your chance.

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Felipe Alou is a fantastic source of sexual innuendo:

"He doesn't play ball, he plays with the ball," said former San Francisco manager-turned-special assistant Felipe Alou, who meant it as a compliment about (shortstop Brian) Bocock's defensive timing and good hands.

The kid's name is Bocock and he plays with the ball. He also "has soft hands, a quick release and poise beyond his years". Teammate Tim Lincecum had no comment. I have a five-year old boy's sense of humor. I should probably give it back.

(Thanks, David Pinto of Baseball Musings. I owe you a Coke.)

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The new hotness in corporate-speak is 'going green'. If I have to read another announcement about Company A or Organization B 'going green', I am going to tear my beautiful brown hair out. My idea of 'going green' is swallowing a spoonful of green food dye and then peeing emerald. It's just too late for our planet to make up for past environmental mistakes and I fully believe we'll all be destroyed by a super-typhoon-tornado-cane next August. However, this announcement by Japanese baseball in which they will shorten games to reduce carbon emissions actually makes me happy:

Japanese professional baseball players have vowed to shorten playing time per game as part of the national pastime's contribution to the fight against global warming. They will aim to cut playing time by six percent, or 12 minutes, from the average of three hours and 18 minutes per game, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioners' office said.

"When a professional baseball game is staged, a huge amount of carbon dioxides, a cause of global warming, is discharged because it requires use of energy to move players and spectators, supply electricity for lighting and other purposes and dispose of food and drink waste," NPB said in a statement.

Yes, baseball games are too long on both sides of the Pacific, but am I to believe that global warming is caused by four hour April games between the Yankees and the Orioles? If so, then I am all for 'going green' in Major League Baseball, just so I don't have to sit through four painful hours of listening to Michael Kay. Hey umpires, please enforce Rule 8.04 or else the goddamn polar bears will become extinct.

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Hey Walkoff Walkers, I missed you guys today. I spent my Monday guest-bloggerating at The 700 Level, thanks to an invite from my good friend Enrico. I even did two baseball posts, so please to enjoy:

Sorry, I didn't bring back any crab fries or roast pork Italians.

Burn Down Dodgertown

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Tonight, the Los Angeles Dodgers play their very last game ever at Dodgertown, their spring training center in Vero Beach, Florida for the past sixty years. There is a lot of hemming and hawing and rendering of garments and gnashing of teeth about the move, but honestly? I could care less.

Vero Beach was firmly rooted in the South, the old South, the Jim Crow South. Even after the Dodgers broke the color barrier with Mr. Jackie Robinson, Vero Beach stayed deeply segregated. Maury Wills couldn't find a place in town that would give a black man a hair cut so he had to get Johnny Roseboro to shave his head with electric shears. Racism forced Maury Wills to trust a set of electric shears in the hands of a man who was once clunked over the head with a bat by Juan Marichal. Ouch.

So where are the Dodgers headed? Seems that owner Frank McCourt decided to invest $80 million to build a new training facility in Glendale, Arizona so their California fans would have a shorter trip to see the team play spring training games. Um, Frank...you can't even get your fans to stay for nine full innings during regular season games at Chavez Ravine. Do you really think they'll drive four hours deeper into the desert to see ballgames that don't even count?

So when the game is over tonight, turn off the lights and set the place on fire. Because if you leave Dodgertown standing, it will only get sullied by a far, far worse team.

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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

The National League West is the polar opposite of the National League Central. The top four teams here are all competitive and deserve consideration for the division title. I wouldn't be surprised if those top four teams all finished with a winning record, just like I wouldn't be surprised to see five of six NL Central teams drown in Lake Michigan.

You've got some of the top pitchers in the majors here, with former Cy Young winners Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Brandon Webb, and Barry Zito all earning paychecks from NL West teams. Young arms like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Dan Haren could each be future Cy Young winners.

There aren't many huge sluggers in this division. With Barry Bonds gone, the best hitters include Matt Holliday, Chris Young, and Adrian Gonzalez, not exactly household names...yet.

Perhaps the biggest new arrival in the NL West is Dodgers' manager Joe Torre. Although he won't have Derek 'Dreamboat' Jeter's bats to fondle anymore, he inherits one of the best pitching staffs in baseball to comfort him.

So let's get previewin'! Follow me after the jump:

In which Bennett Cerf, Debbie Reynolds, and two people I don't know try to figure out the identities of Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider and Giants pitcher Sal Maglie.

One observation: note the raucous laughter after the idea of a baseball team playing in Queens is ideated. Queens, indeed! Also, both these guys played for the Dodgers and Giants at some point in their careers. Maglie eventually ended up a Yankee and Snider played one year for the Mets.

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

(once again, a Coke to the Classic Television Showbiz Blog)

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Manager Joe Torre and his Los Angeles Dodgers are in China for some exhibition games with the San Diego Padres and he brought along a bunch of non-roster players because the Chinese won't know the goddamn difference. Also: Nomar would break into tiny little pieces on a 16 hour flight.

Two of the no-names, onetime top prospect Greg Miller and former Phillie who is in no way related to their first baseman Kevin Howard decided to immerse themselves in the Chinese culture immediately:

(Others) clung to what was familiar. Left-hander Greg Miller and infielder Kevin Howard, two of the many non-roster players on this trip, laughed how their first meal in China on Thursday night was at McDonald's. "I came all this way to go to McDonald's," Miller said.

Full disclosure: when I was in Lake Como, Italy, I may have stopped into the McDonald's for a Diet Coke, so I can't really jump on these guys' backs for not sampling the local cuisine. Besides, they serve Coxcomb McNuggets and the Big Mac is made of goat penis over there, so it's an adventure.

Meanwhile, Padres closer Trevor Hoffman and a gigantic cartoonish Friar terrorized the countryside from atop the Great Wall. Sez Hoff:

"Look at the view. Take a look. It's unbelievable, isn't it? I think I'd feel pretty safe on this wall in the day when Mongolia was coming after 'em."

Deep, Trevor. Very deep.

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Last month, my colleague Camp Tiger Claw questioned the sanity of the Red Sox' dependency on their chosen backup catcher, and vice versa. Well, the Red Sox - Doug Mirabelli relationship has hit a valley once again as the team has gone and released his knuckleball-catching ass.

Mirabelli was an awful hitter but he excelled at catching Tim Wakefield because he could actually get down and block knuckleballs, unlike Varitek, who excels at hitting .260 and being gritty. The Sox traded him to the Padres last year two years ago, but after his replacement Josh Bard had more passed balls than Portia De Rossi, they sheepishly brought Mirabelli back. He changed into his uniform in a police car! You can't beat that for a human interest story!

Mirabelli was placed on unconditional waivers, so if nobody picks him up (why would they?) he could be back on the Sox later this season. Forgive the quick and dirty analogy, but Red Sox:Carrie::Mirabelli:Mr. Big. Yes, I watched Sex and the City. So did you, so shut up.

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Much has been made in the baseballblogosphere about Dusty Baker's ignorance about statistics and hardheaded reliance on good ol' fashioned instinct when it comes to player evaluation. Well, I wanted to see this firsthand so I've been reading the notes column for the Reds in the Cincinnati Enquirer for a couple weeks. It's so true. Either Dusty Baker's mind is made of magic or he is just so stubborn and lazy that he refuses to learn anything about the kids on his team. To wit:

Reliever Bill Bray made his debut Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the first time Reds manager Dusty Baker really saw him throw. "I didn't want to be swayed one way or the other until I see the full Bray," he said. "I probably won't see the true Bray yet, anyway."

Okay well that kinda makes sense: Bray had been missing time with a sore shoulder and an appendectomy, so I can't blame Dusty too much here. Another:

Baker said he didn't spend a lot of time reading reports on players like rookie right-hander Johnny Cueto before spring training began. "I read, but I scanned," Baker said. "I didn't want to be persuaded one way or the other, so I didn't really study ... I'm not distrusting of reports; it's just I trust my own eyes more."

Hey, I trust my eyes too, but there's only so far that they can take me. Same for you Dusty. The Reds organization employs people known as 'scouts' who take the time to 'evaluate' players both on other teams and on your team. They write up 'reports' that sometimes contain valuable 'statistics' that can tell you important things about rookies like Cueto. Study, Dusty! Hey, 'study' is an anagram for 'Dusty'. What a strange coincidence.

In other news, Dusty and his boy Darren (now twelve) went fishing off the dock behind Baker's condo and caught some sheepshead, which he took to a local restaurant to have the proprietor cook up. Um, isn't this a health code violation?

grapefruit.jpgSo we're jumping into a Red Sox-Twins game that has already gone four and a half innings. The Red Sox lead the Twins 6 to 3. Clay Buchholz started and pitched well through 3 innings for Boston, while Francisco Liriano started for the Twins and gave up a couple runs in a couple innings. Joe Mauer just hit a solo dinger for the Twins and has two hits on the game. Let's start the late liveglog! (after the jump...oops)

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Yes, I am liveglogging two games today. No, don't get your hopes up because the liveglog will only last two hours. I'll be covering the tail end of the Red Sox v. Twins matchup at 3PM and the start of the White Sox v. Rockies matchup at 4PM. To ease up the workload, I'm going to have our intern Darren instant-messaging me some funny one-liners during the game.

Come back here at 3PM and I'll do my best to entertain you with hourlong slices of meaningless games!

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In Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles, Campbell Scott's character Steve Dunne plays a transportation engineer for the city of Seattle. As a 14-year-old nerd, I thought I had found my future career, even with Steve's utter failings at getting that monorail project...ahem...off the ground. (Damn you, Mayor Tom Skerritt!) Fast-forward sixteen years and I'm just a dumb baseball blogger, but I still am fascinated by transportation and traffic engineering. So when I read this incredibly meticulous analysis of the parking situation at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' new ballpark, my first reaction was: "People go to Devil Rays' games?"

My second reaction, however, was: "This will all be for naught if the Devil Rays don't start winning some games." There's been Major League Baseball in Tampa St. Petersburg for ten seasons and this team has yet to win more than 70 games. If this new stadium is indeed built, will they really need to find 14,000 parking spots in downtown St. Pete when they're barely drawing 17,000 fans per game? Granted, a lot of the blame goes to Tropicana Field, a cavernous warehouse that should only be used for rodeos and motocross. But if the Devil Rays were winning, people would still show up; people only started going back to that dump Fenway when the Red Sox started contending again.

Here's some of the St. Petersburg Times blogger's analysis:

The Rays are assuming, using 2005 parking and tickets sales, a rate of 2.9 people per car. In that scenario, the team believes it only needs around 12,000 spots. The "available" spaces are within 3/4 a mile of the proposed new stadium and inlcude 2,000 spaces at Tropicana Field. The analysis assumes those spaces will only be used for near-sellout games and ticket holders would use a shuttle to reach the field.

At their current level of success, they'd only need half those parking spots. Also, if I ever make it to St. Pete for a game, I'll punch the elderly if I have to take a shuttle to the ballpark.

I do endorse the new stadium design and think it will help the Devil Rays franchise contend. Still, this is the year they better hit that 80-win plateau. There's been a lot of chatter that Tampa Bay could overtake the Blue Jays for third place this season, but I'll take that one step further: the Devil Rays will challenge the Red Sox for second place. Yes, even with Troy Percival as the closer.

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Everyone's favorite telekinetically-capable center fielder Ichiro Suzuki is having a very terrible run in spring training (I know because I live-glogged it). The Mariners number one hitter in 2007 is 0-for-21 so far in the Cactus League, but don't worry, because he's having fun with it:

"Part of me said, 'Go through, so it can be a hit,' " Ichiro said through an interpreter. "But the other part of me said, 'Make this an out so the streak can continue.' "

Always the competitor, Ichiro is basically trying to top his 0-for-22 streak back in the summer of aught-five. I salute him for striving to suck just a little harder, but I don't get it: Hitless streaks that long are for terrible players like Richie Sexson, not a guy like Ichiro who has amassed nearly 1500 hits in his first seven seasons with the M's. He continues:

"To tell you the truth, some of this is kind of fun," Ichiro said. "To be in a situation this early in Spring Training and have this kind of a bit of intense environment is something that I couldn't experience before. Basically, it's a situation where I need to battle within myself, mentally. That's something that I haven't experienced at this time of year, and I get to experience that right now, and that is great for me. Once I get a hit it might actually make me sad that this experience isn't going to be here any more. But at the same time, I understand I need results."

Translation: "I'm old and I've lost a step, so I either have to figure out a new way to beat out infield grounders or keep making crazy quotes and hopefully get paid by ESPN to analyze baseball. Hey, they hired Emmitt Smith and he can't speak English either."

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They're playing baseball in caves out in Joplin, Missouri, and attorney and local nut David Riesenmy is to blame. Riesenmy and former major league pitcher Steve Luebber have taken a fifteen acre underground facility once used for paintball and transformed it into the "Cave of Dreams Baseball Center". It's 65 degrees and dry all year round, as opposed to normal Missouri weather, which fluctuates between 'shitty' and 'shittier'. Local kids can practice all sorts of skills:

The center includes two long batting tunnels with pitching machines, a soft-toss cage, two clay pitcher's mounds and two portable mounds, and open areas for practicing other skills.

Sounds good for the winter time, but what about during the spring and summer when kids just want to play outside? Other good uses for the Cave of Dreams during the summer season:

  • Storing all that Red Sox wine so it ages properly into a delicate swill.
  • Off day retreat and hibernation station for Cubs
  • Bat storage for the Kansas City Royals (ed note: get it? bat? haw haw!)
  • Opportunity for Kyle Farnsworth to turn it into a modern day Lascaux.
  • Teaching Jim Thome the difference between stalactites and stalagmites.

Or just turn it back into a paintball center. Those flyover states really eat that shit up.

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Former Phillies reliever Mitch Williams is very protective of his 10 year old daughter, enough to curse out a female ref at a CYO game and possibly get banned from future contests. I guess those fifth grade girls in Catholic Youth Organization basketball games in Medford, NJ can get pretty physical, because Mitch was getting pissed about all the non-calls on his daughter:

"I'm emotional when it comes to my kids. What I saw happening was completely unfair."

Translation: "those f***ing bitches are hand-checking my little girl!" You call that an apology, Mitch? How about a little penitence here? Maybe a tiny mea culpa? Ron Martin, who heads the referee organization, isn't accepting Mitch's apology:

"(If Williams) is going to appear at any games next year, we will not officiate them. If he enters the gym in the middle of a game, we will stop officiating. A lot of people challenge calls, but when someone hits on one of the magic words, we can't tolerate that stuff."

Well how the fuck is Wild Thing gonna sell his salsa now?

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The Boston Globe's own Dan Shaughnessy has a blog, and he's not afraid to use it. Baseball beat writers like Dan must be absolutely stoked that they have blogs now where they can relay obviously inconsequential anecdotes and wacky stories that they normally can only use sparingly, perhaps just once a week in their columns. Also stoked: bloggers like me and CTC who can recycle these inconsequential anecdotes and wacky stories for the enjoyment of our 72 readers. Oops I just broke down the fourth wall!

Dan gives us these two gems from the Red Sox only healthy pitcher (ironic!) Jon Lester's start against the hapless Mets:

In two random, unrelated events, a Japanese newspaper reporter arrived late for the game because his windshield was shattered by what he said was a low-flying pelican. Then a foul ball shattered the computer screen of Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal while he was downstairs interviewing Lester.

Pelicans normally divebomb the water to scoop up delicious fish, so our Japanese reporter friend must have had some takeout sushi on his passenger seat. Note to self: when traveling in Port St. Lucie, keep spicy yellowtail rolls in the glove compartment.

Dan doesn't tell us off whose bat that otherwise stray foul ball that destroyed McDonald's computer came, so I'm going to have to assume Joe Morgan was taking some hacks for the Sox since he hates computers so much. Reading McDonald's last blog post is like reading all those MySpace pages from those dead kids, except much sadder. RIP JOEY MAC'S LAPPY!!!1!

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This morning, the lady on NPR told me that this past weekend's switch to daylight saving time causes problems for Monday morning drivers. It seems that the loss of an hour early Sunday morning carries over to Monday morning, as commuters wake up an hour earlier than usual. They are more weary and sleepy on the roads, and historically, traffic accidents are increased 7% each Monday after the switch forward to DST. This got me thinking...what other accidents or mistakes can be blamed on this wacky convention of clock-advancing?

  • Perhaps Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels was sleepwalking yesterday when he signed tub o' lard Sidney Ponson. Either that or the Rangers' pitching staff is worn pretty thin. Get it? Thin?
  • Indians pitchers Jeremy Sowers and Rick Bauer must have needed an extra pot of coffee yesterday because they BOTH gave up a homerun to weak-hitting Nationals' shortstop Cristian Guzman. Guzman hitting two taters in one game is about as rare as Ponson passing up a Smörgåsbord. Get it? Because he's fat?
  • The Red Sox and Cubs' management must be still adjusting to the time switch because they're considering swapping OF Coco Crisp for SP Jason Marquis. The Cubs have a fine outfield already, with Soriano, Pie and Fukudome, while the Red Sox really shouldn't be shopping their best defensive outfielder when the other three ain't exactly green lights on the injury front. Also: who would ever want Jason Marquis?

So be careful on the roads today, commuters. Mostly because Tony LaRussa still has a drivers license, but also because folks is sleepy.

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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

I hate the National League Central Division. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I actually admire most of these teams and would root for them to beat most of the teams in the N.L. West or N.L. East. Rather, I hate this division because these teams suck and there are six of them.

Last year, the Brewers led the division until soon after the all-star break, when they gave way to the Cubs. The Cubs proceeded to get swept out of the playoffs by the Diamondbacks. Nothing else interesting happened.

So, is it possible for all six teams to lose 80+ games this season? No? So I have to pick a division champion? Well let's cut the crap and get right to it.

In which a blindfolded Steve Allen tries to guess Roy Campanella's identity from the sound of his deep voice. Yes, that is the concept behind the classic TV show "What's My Line".


A few observations:

  • Check out the wicked part in host John Charles Daly's hair. It looks like he's got a line of grout in there.
  • Roy Campanella was the NL MVP that year: 41 homers and 141 RBI as a catcher. He was MVP in '51 and '55, too...as was crosstown rival and fellow catcher Yogi Berra. Mike Piazza eats goat poop compared to these two.
  • I keep waiting for the lady to ask whether he's a Negro or not. You have to know this is going through her mind.

Have a nice weekend, all 63 of you!

(we owe a Coke to the Classic Television Showbiz blog)

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Earlier this week, I accused Noah Lowry of becoming the next Rick Ankiel after walking twelve gentlemen in his first 3 spring innings (not to mention the two wild pitches). Welp, I'd like to offer an official apology and mea culpa to Mr. Lowry because it seems as if he had an ouchie in his left arm.

Lowry was diagnosed with exertional compartmental syndrome in his forearm and will undergo surgery today on said arm. His control issues stemmed from fatigue in that weird place between your thumb and your wrist. It's basically the hand taint: it t'ain't the thumb and it t'ain't t he wrist.

Lowry will probably end up missing the first month of the season, so he'll be back in May to still go unnoticed by San Francisco baseball fans. So what exactly is this exertional compartmental syndrome anyway? Is it like carpal tunnel?

In layman's terms, throwing causes compression in Lowry's forearm compartment, resulting in a pressure buildup that squeezes a nerve which weakens Lowry's hand. Dr. Gordon Brody will perform Lowry's surgery, which is expected to be a mild procedure, by making a small incision and releasing the fascia -- akin to slicing a sausage casing -- around the forearm muscles.

See? No big deal. He's just having the casing sliced off of his sausa....holy crap, the blood just flowed out of my head. I'm feeling dizzy. Hold on one second.

...

Alright, I'm okay now. Hey Noah, wanna speed up the healing process? I hear HGH works wonders.

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Todd Wellemeyer is the very definition of a journeyman pitcher, having bounced around from Chicago to Florida to Kansas City to, most recently, St. Louis. If he could just throw some more goddamn strikes and stop walking every other batter he faced, he might be a serviceable pitcher on a decent team, but right now, he's got the control of a high school junior girl at a keg party. He tosses more balls than...well...a high school junior girl at a keg party. Sez Baseball Prospectus:

"His best chance would seem to be one inning at a time, not seven. Becoming the next Kyle Farnsworth is a best-case scenario."

Ouch, Baseball Prospectors! Anyway, they're wrong: Wellemeyer's best-case scenario is to become Colonel mother-effing Sanders:

"Always wanted to be a Colonel," Wellemeyer said. "There's no other Colonel I'd rather be." Last year, Wellemeyer, a native of Louisville, Ky., received a certificate from the Governor of the state welcoming him as a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Think a British knighthood, bluegrass-style.

Uhh...I'm thinking 'British knighthood, bluegrass-style' and the only thing on my mind is poor dental care. I'm glad you're proud of your Kentucky heritage, Todd. I, too, am proud of my state's heritage, and will soon be getting my official membership into the Honorable Order of New Jersey Springsteen Fans.

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I have made my argument at least once before but let me reiterate it once again: the Baseball hall of fame is a gigantic sham. The latest reason for my antipathy is this whole asterisk-being-branded-on-Barry-Bonds'-historic-home-run-ball business. Says MLB.com:

(hall of fame vice president Jeff) Idelson has discussed acquiring the ball from Marc Ecko, the hip-hop clothing mogul who purchased it at auction last September for $752,467. When Ecko relinquishes the ball to Cooperstown, Idelson said that it will be displayed with the asterisk that was affixed to it. The red mark reflects the wishes of respondents to an Internet poll who wanted some acknowledgement of Bonds' alleged steroid use.
"The asterisk doesn't implicate Barry," Idelson said. "It's purely a part of the story of how it ended up in Cooperstown. You let the visitor determine how they feel and make their own value judgment. We would never suggest how they value or judge things."

Allow me to re-jigger that quote using a touchstone of American literature:

"The scarlet letter doesn't implicate Prynne," Idelson said. "It's purely a part of the story of how she ended up with a baby out of wedlock. You let the villager determine how they feel and make their own value judgment. We would never suggest how they value or judge things."

See what I did there? Barry Bonds is Hester Prynne! He's not necessarily the most innocent of characters, but for people to focus all their blame on one human being and tarnish someone's reputation with a physical red mark, we're forgetting that there are serious allegations against society as whole in this matter. (Yes, even against baseball officials and the press.) Folks, steroid, HGH, and amphetamine uses were absolutely a part of the culture of baseball for YEARS. This wasn't isolated. Everyone, from Bud Selig all the way down to the peanut vendors, is an accomplice....perhaps we should just brand Selig on the forehead with an asterisk....or a dollar sign.

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With the news that oft-injured Moises Alou will miss four to six weeks with a groin injury that requires (ooph) hernia surgery (ouch), the Mets are Officially Shorthanded in the Outfield. If you'll follow me to the Mets' depth chart, you'll notice little teeny inversely-colored first aid symbols next to ALL FOUR LEFTFIELDERS:

  • Moises Alou: groin
  • Endy Chavez: ankle
  • Marlon Anderson: sternum
  • Ben J. Johnson: anonymity

Also hurting: starting center fielder Carlos Beltran, right fielder Ryan Church, and Omar Minaya's ego. Omar is currently considering (a) going back in time and un-trading Lastings Milledge or (b) signing an over-the-hill veteran outfielder. Oh, hey, too bad Dusty Baker is collecting them like Beanie Babies.

I like Moises Alou. He's part of a great baseball family and, when he's healthy, he can rake. And even though he's had a recent history of missing significant chunks of playing time due to torn ACL's and labrums and calves and quads, he has magic urine. And hey, his hurt groin is perfectly placed next to the source.

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According to Mariners' beat writer Kirby Arnold, today's matchup between the Angels and Mariners is no ordinary spring training game:

"After what (the Angels) did to the Mariners last year -- dominating the season series 13-6 and finishing six games ahead in the American League West standings -- it's no surprise the M's want to send an early message. (Mariners manager John) McLaren's lineup today will be filled with regulars -- only third baseman Adrian Beltre (death in the family) and designated hitter Jose Vidro (sore elbow) -- won't play. Among the Mariners' pitchers will be opening-day starter Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow and closer J.J. Putz.

We'll be getting underway any minute now as soon as XM 176 stops playing commercials. Check it out after this irritatingly placed jump:

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Tune back in here at 3PM as I will be liveglogging the Anaheim Angels - Seattle Mariners matchup, live from Peoria, Arizona. No, I am not actually in Peoria, or else I'd be dining on In-N-Out burgers right now with Evan Grant.

Yes, I am doing this again. No, I am not insane.

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North County Times staff writer and probable In-N-Out Burger aficionado Dan Hayes is covering the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona; today he gives us this gem about first-base prospect Kyle Blanks, all six-foot-six and 270 pounds of him:

"Kyle Blanks has spent most of camp wearing cornrows and a do-rag. So when manager Bud Black saw a picture of Blanks' letting his hair down he asked to see it live. On Tuesday morning, Blanks accommodated his manager with his afro in all its glory complete with a 1970s era leisure suit."

Blanks was dressing up as part of a team-building exercise that has the players giving individual presentations. His topics? Tony Clark's basketball career, and baseball players from New Mexico. Hm. I didn't realize the Albuquerque Isotopes wore enormous afros and leisure suits.

Frustratingly, no picture accompanies the notes column because that would have been way too entertaining for the reader. If anyone out there in Padres-blog-land (Gas Lamp Ball, I'm looking at you) has a picture of Blanks, send it our way.

MASSIVE UPDATE: Gas Lamp Ball gets the job done.

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The Cincinnati Reds have lost Jay Bruce and Jerry Gil, two outfielders I've never heard of, to injury in the past week so like any terribly managed, hyper reactive team would do, they signed two aging veterans to minor league deals. And not just any aging veterans:

"The Cincinnati Reds on Monday signed both Corey Patterson and Jerry Hairston Jr. to minor-league contracts. Both players played for (Dusty) Baker when he managed the Cubs. Now they get a shot to make his Reds team."

It's a reunion of the 2005 Cubs team! Todd Hollandsworth is waiting anxiously by his phone, Dusty. Glendon Rusch needs work! Jody Gerut is bored as heck! Give 'em a jingle!

Patterson's on-base percentage with the Orioles last year was .314; Jerry Hairston was even better (read: worse) with a measly .249 OBP for the Texas Rangers. These are true Dusty Baker style players: they are gentlemanly enough not to clog the bases. They're polite enough to return to the dugout after their at-bats, probably to refresh Dusty's toothpick.

True story: after a Red Sox-Orioles game last year, I went out to dinner with my friends on Newbury Street and saw Patterson and fellow Oriole outfielder Jay Payton waiting by the bar in the restaurant. This is the least interesting Gawker Stalker story in the history of forever.

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Maybe he's just upset about not being the face of the franchise, but Giants pitcher Noah Lowry has had two very bad outings to begin his Spring. Says blogger The Sporting Green:

"Noah Lowry's out in the second inning of today's game after walking nine batters and throwing a few more balls off the screen behind home plate. Two spring outings, two control disasters."

That's two and a third innings pitched in two starts with 12 walks, 6 runs, 1 strikeout, 2 wild pitches, an ERA over 23, but only 2 hits. Hey, Giants fans, don't worry! He only gave up two hits! And if you wait seven years and give the kid some HGH, you'll finally have a starting leftfielder to replace Barry Bonds.

Our own Camp Tiger Claw suffered some control problems, too, at the tender age of 10. He threw a no-hitter but walked seven Little Leaguers in the process. He was like a miniature AJ Burnett, except without the repeated elbow surgeries, fingernail injuries, and douchebag rock bands.

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Commenter Matt T sends along this delicious nugget about Jeff Francoeur re-upping with the Braves for another one-year contract:

Francoeur spoke to the AJC while picking up a Chick-fil-A sandwich on his way to meet teammates John Smoltz and Tom Glavine for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

Goddamnit I am so jealous! we don't have any Chick-fil-A's up here in North Jersey. Maybe because, you know, we're heathens who like to eat fast food on Sundays. Eat mor chikn? I'd love to, wacky cows, but your nutjob Southern Baptist founder doesn't seem to like New Jersey Catholics!

I could care less about the golfing with Tiger Woods thing. Who in their right mind wants to play golf with Tiger Woods? How about afterwards I play one-on-one with Dirk Nowitzki and then try to chase down an antelope with a cheetah? If I had the opportunity, I'd try playing Tiger Woods in RBI Baseball on the NES...something where I at least stand a chance.

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Camp Tiger Claw and I have had a baseball blog for one month, which, in Internet time is like seven years. Therefore, we are considered 'experts'. At least Matt Sussman and Tuffy of the BC Sports Treehouse Fort radio show think so, as your Walkoff Walk editors will be the guests on tonight's show.

Yes, one guy with a real name and one guy with an alias will interview one guy with a real name and one guy with an alias. Only on Internet radio, kids! We'll be previewing the American League East division, otherwise known as The Battle to Finish in Third Place Behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Tune in at 8PM EST. You can even join in a chatroom or something and proposition Tuffy for sex, I think.

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The National League wild card race will probably be as close this season as it was last season; the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, Mets, Braves and Phillies all have a chance to win 90 games. So Padres manager Bud Black isn't taking any chances in case there is a tie at the end of the year like there was in 2007. He's holding coin-tossing practice:

"Toward the end of a recent media session, Black pulled out a quarter and told general manager Kevin Towers to practice. Black then began flipping the coin, with Towers calling heads all four times. The first two were tails; the latter two were tails. Last season, Towers called heads for all but one coin toss to determine the site of potential one-game, tiebreaker playoffs. The one time he called tails resulted in the Padres going to Denver, where they lost to the Rockies in a one-game playoff."

Um, Bud...you realize that a coin toss is a discrete-time stochastic process that cannot be predicted and more importantly cannot be practiced. Worst of all, Bud, you're stuck in the Monte Carlo fallacy. The probability of an event in a random sequence is not dependent on preceding events! I think I still have my college probability textbook at home if you'd like to peruse it sometime. (full disclosure: there are doodles of naked chicks in the margins)

Perhaps Major League Baseball should get rid of the coin-toss completely and replace it with Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now that's a contest that requires some practice and skill.