Rob Iracane: May 2008 Archives

manny.jpg

Many congratulations to Manny Ramirez, who hit his 500th career home run off Orioles pitcher Chad Bradford tonight. He's already earned an easy pass into the hall of fame but this accomplishment is a nice, easy round number that will make people remember him more for his amazing hitting skills than his wacky antics.

I find it hard to believe that Manny has never won an MVP award considering he's been one of the top American League run producers for nearly 14 years. Still, he won the Hank Aaron Award twice (1999 and 2004) and has two more World Series rings than his closest competitor in offensive production in the AL, Alex Rodriguez.

Kudos, Manny! Here's hoping that he celebrates by actually making the All Star Game this year.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (18)
horsebaby.jpg

Hey kids, get your dirty fingers out of the marmalade jar and tune in to find out:

  • CAN the Phillies take two of three from the Marlins (including the Sunday game of the week on TBS) and claim sole possession of first place?

  • DO the first place White Sox stand a ghost of a chance in winning over the hearts of the Chicago faithful if they continue to beat the first place Rays?

  • WHICH rotation will reign supreme in the Angels / Blue Jays series? McGowan, Marcum, Burnett or Weaver, Lackey, Garland?

  • WILL that fucking asshole in the dumptruck who clipped my car and sent me fishtailing into the median on Interstate 80 get his comeuppance?

Enjoy your weekend, watch some baseball, and tune in Saturday and Sunday to read some....something.

Today's classic TV post features this delightful filmstrip about the introduction of Little League baseball to the quiet village of Roslyn, New York. It's nearly fifteen minutes long but you get a good taste about the enthusiasm of an entire Long Island town about the sport of baseball.

Thanks to Ira Gallen of New York City, who is collecting a bunch of videos on YouTube for the baby boomer generation.


Just can't keep those mothers in the kitchen!

supermarket.jpg
  • 2:20, Rockies at Cubs: Hooray for Wrigley Field Friday afternoon games! The Cubs seek to continue their crushing dominance over the National League West as they go for win number five in a row over the hapless division. The Rockies are already in "lets play out the season and wait for Jesus to save our hides" mode, and they're throwing their best pitcher into the fire. Aaron Cook is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in his career against the Cubs but this will be his first time pitching in IvyTown USA. Hope the wind is blowing in, Aaron! The Cubs' pitcher of choice today is Ted Lilly, who is just slightly less shitty at home than he is on the road.
sad giants bear.jpg

On Tuesday morning, San Francisco sat 10 games behind NL West leading Arizona. After sweeping the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, they're now just 7 games behind. That's basic baseball math, people. That's simple subtraction, folks. No fancy abracadabra algebra or hocus pocus calculus hokum. Last night, Randy Winn came up in the ninth against reliever Chad Qualls and hit his second tater tot of the night to win the game for the Giants. Randy Johnson's semi-historic night took a back seat and his chance for the win was lost at the hands of the Diamondbacks bullpen.

Looking at the big picture, the question arises: what the heck is wrong with the National League West? Predicted by many to be the most competitive division in baseball, they've come out of the gate choking on the dry desert air. One-third of the way through the season and the five teams in the NL West have amassed a collective 60-90 record against the rest of baseball. That's .400 baseball! Teams like the Cubs (11-2) and the Phillies (12-6) are padding their resumes by making the most of their games against the West.

Arizona was riding high through April and most of May, playing on a pace to win well over 100 games. After this sweep? They're on pace to win less than 90. Excluding the hapless Nationals, the Giants, Padres and Rockies have the three worst records in the National League. Yuck!

What lies ahead for these teams' futures? Well Arizona will still most likely win the division. The Dodgers are in the middle of a rough road trip and fell one game under .500 with their loss last night to the Mets. Their wild card chances are on the rocks. The Padres, under the advisement of superstar sabermetrician Paul DePodesta, are in a rebuilding year. The Giants are turning out to be the surprise team in the majors, mostly because there are actually six teams with worse records. The Rockies? They just outright suck.

yarmulke.jpg

Hope you didn't have tickets for Opening Day of the Israel Baseball League because you'll really plotz when you hear the 2008 season just went into the crapper. What gives?

According to (league president Haim) Katz, the league's problems stemmed largely from a number of Israeli creditors who, he said, had not been paid by the IBL. "2008 is not happening, 2009 we're working on. Right now it's [nearly] the first of June, and there's no preparation. But there are many parties interested in reviving professional baseball [in Israel]."

Translation: there's no money and the league is worth bubkes. This all comes six months after the commissioner and most of the advisory board members (including Bud Selig's daughter and former Milwaukee Brewers owner Wendy Selig-Prieb and Yankees president Randy Levine) resigned because of "failure to manage capital and other resources in order to produce successful results". Translation: there's no money and the league is worth bubkes.

The league started last year with six teams that were populated with players selected by director of player development and former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. I guess he did a real cockamamie job of assembling the teams. Whatta klumnik!

Alex Brittel of the Jerusalem Post blames the low attendance on the fact that there were too many Americans on the rosters:

Throughout the season the announcements were mostly in English, the Hebrew section of the official Web site was poor quality and the fields were difficult to get to. Israelis had little affiliation with the teams made up of players from around the world, just not Israel.

Oy gevalt! What's Bet Shemesh Blue Sox manager Ron Blomberg gonna do now with all his free time?

Here's what happened in baseball when the monolith towered over me

Braves 8, Brewers 1: Oh noes Jorge Campillo gave up his first run as a starter! No worries, he also collected his first major league hit and drove in his first two runs; too bad he had to leave after five innings with a blister. Campillo racked up six strikeouts before allowing a tater tot to new Brewer Russell Branyan. Mark Teixeira hit a three run ding dong and drove in four and Chipper Jones had two hits to up his batting average to .420. Crazy stoner.

Blue Jays 12, Athletics 0: Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch is a wizard! Kill it! Kill the wizard! He's amassed a sixteen-inning scoreless streak and earned his seventh win of the year against just one loss. Rangers castoffs Kevin Mench, Rod Barajas and Brad Wilkerson were the offensive stars, combining for six RBI and six runs. The victory marked the 300th win of John Gibbons' managerial career; he celebrated by hunting down Shea Hillenbrand and punching him in the nose.

Pirates 7, Reds 2: Twenty-six year old rookie Phil Dumatrait is coming up so you better get this party started. Kid has the best start of his lifetime and possibly the best start by any Pirates pitcher this season, holding Cincy to one unearned run on two walks and two hits in seven innings. Wow! Nine strikeouts! Not bad for someone who was summarily waived by the Reds last year. Jason Bay had his team-leading 13th homer in the win.

I wish I could explain why a naked Swedish man is running around the bases in this video, or why I decided to post it on Walkoff Walk, or why I just switched to full screen high quality mode so I could get a better look at his ding-dong, but hurry up and watch this crazy video before YouTube wakes up and decides it violates their terms of use:

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

  • Jay Jaffe pens an excellent column about Marvin Miller's nose-thumbing of the hall of fame. I support Miller 100% and am glad that someone is speaking out against that awful place and the horrid people who run it. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Simon blames the Mets collapse on the curse of Julio Franco. Since Franco left, Jose Reyes' OPS has dropped 66 points and the average age of Mets position players went down 5 months. Simon on Sports.

  • Darren Rovell examines the 1989 Ken Griffey rookie card from Upper Deck. It's like the Honus Wagner baseball card of baseball cards.. Slate.

  • Enrico lets us know that New York City is good at re-writing history. Ladies and gentlefolk, your 2007 NL East Champion New York Mets! The 700 Level.

  • Beat writer Shannon Drayer gets lost in Harlem on her way to Yankee Stadium but that's not even the saddest part of the story. She covers the Mariners. KOMO News.

  • Jesse Spector does a good job assembling some raw numbers into a telling Relief Report. Shocker: Hideki Okajima has allowed 11 of 14 inherited runners to score. Touching Base.

  • Following up on Mark Cuban's piece on salary caps, Shawn thinks that salary floors would be even worse in baseball. I've always thought that shitty teams like the Royals need to spend more money to be competitive but this piece makes me rethink my original position. Squawking Baseball.

  • Forty-two different versions of "Harlem Nocturne". WFMU's Beware of the Blog.
goatsnow.jpg

After some boring speculation about where the NHL would play their next Winter Classic, Gary Bettman has finally decided that pitting two hockey teams against one another on some ice in Wrigley Field would be a fantastic idea. Sure, run with it. Seems as though the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing the Detroit Red Wings on New Years Day 2009 at the House That Gum Built.

I'm surprised that the game won't be played at Soldier Field instead. It's bigger and icier and holds many more insane Chicagoans. Wrigley being a baseball park, this brings up tons of questions. Will fans in the bleachers be allowed to boo Nikolai Khabibulin? Will some Chicago celeb like George Wendt sing "Hockey Monkey" during the second intermission? Heck, will they throw Ron Santo's out on the ice with skates on his hands just for laughs?

Chicago didn't earn the nickname "Second City" for nothing though: they weren't really the first choice of Senor Bettman:

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that the proposed game at Yankee Stadium isn't as likely to happen because of a "variety of issues," according to Newsday. "There are some winterization issues, because it is an older stadium," Bettman told reporters in a conference call. "... I don't know whether or not they can be resolved."

Translation: you'll get a hockey game in Yankee Stadium over George Steinbrenner's dead bloated body.

SadGuy.jpg

The Seattle Mariners season started last night. Major offseason acquisition Erik Bedard had his first impressive start against a quality team as he hurled seven quality innings of 2-hit, 3-walk, and 8-strikeout ball against the vaunted Boston Red Sox offense. Bedard threw 69 of his 109 pitches for strikes and got the win thanks to a solo ding-dong from Mariner shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

Get excited Mariners fans! Get excited because even though your team's record is 20-34, you can still win 128 games this season! Only if Bedard pitches every game like he did last night, Betancourt turns into the new A-Rod, and you dig up the corpse of Norm Charlton to steady a shaky bullpen.

Let's check in on emo Seattle beat writer and headline-creator extraordinaire Geoff Baker to see how he's celebrating:

"But the season doesn't start in June. If this was the final week of spring training, these M's would be poised and ready to live up to their hype as the season neared. But it's May 28. All they can do now is hope the newer hype about how bad they've really been so far enables them to catch teams off guard. To sneak up on opponents the way they did in 2007. To make this disaster of a 2008 season a little more palatable in the won-lost column. And to learn something going forward. Maybe give the folks running the show a little better idea of what needs to be fixed. Their timing would be the first thing on the repair list."

Oh Christ. I can actually hear the Elliott Smith album playing in the background of Baker's hip one-bedroom loft in Belltown.

Here's what happened in baseball while I laid my weary bones tonight:

Phillies 6, Rockies 1: Adam Eaton finally grabbed the brass ring in his eleventh start, earning his first dubya of the year behind the offensive antics of the Phillies. Eaton did his part by going six strong innings and even lowering his ERA below 5.00! Yes, it's at 4.99, but shit, that's totes sub-five-point-oh. Chase Utley made me forget about my Dan Uggla man-crush for a day and hit his major league leading 17th ding dong. Don't worry, Chase...I voted for you on six All-Star ballots so far. Keep on keepin' on.

Mets 7, Marlins 6 (12): Those New York Mets got my memo and supported their manager-under-fire with a stellar come-from-behind win over the first place Marlins. Met Endy Chavez tater-totted in the ninth to hand Kevin Gregg a blown save and send the game to extras. Marlin Alfredo Amanzega ding-donged in the top of the 12th to give Florida a lead, but it was Fernando Tatis' two-run double in the bottom of the inning that forced every single human being on the field to walk off in an orderly fashion. There were seven homers in the game, two of them credited to Cody Ross.

Brewers 1, Braves 0: A pitching duel between Jeff Suppan and Jo-Jo Reyes? I'm surprised but proud of the two fellas. So sorry to see that only one gentleman could go home a winner...and that gent was Suppan, thanks to some timely hitting by Rickie Weeks. Weeks' triple in the eighth off Blaine Boyer drove in J.J. Hardy and the Braves were handed their 392nd one-run road loss this season. Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres done got his fourth save. Whoopee!

Cubs 2, Dodgers 1 (10): After Alfonso Soriano walkoff-won the game in the bottom of the tenth, Chris Berman quoted Arte Johnson. Welcome to 1968, folks!

Holy crap, Corey Patterson was optioned to triple-A Louisville to make room for infielder Andy Phillips! I guess the Reds needed a backup first baseman to Joey Votto more than they needed a seventh outfielder/pinch runner. Holy moses smell the roses!

Here's a sampling of the comments on John Fay's report:

  • waynekrenchiki wrote: THANK YOU GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • puckhogg wrote: YESSSSSSSS there is a god
  • KevinFtMyers wrote: I want to hug Walt Jocketty.

Wow, it's like a holiday in Cincinnati today. Chili with spaghetti for everyone!

liveglog.jpg

Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook is making his first start off the disabled list against the first place Chicago White Sox. He'll face Gavin Floyd, one of the great success stories in the ChiSox rotation this year. Four out of five starters have an ERA under 3.52, led by Floyd at 2.93.

The real story with Chicago, however, is how a first place team can have so much goddamn drama. Manager Ozzie Guillen is feuding with shortstop Orlando Cabrera, conditioning coach Allen Thomas is feuding with reliever Octavio Dotel, and DH Jim Thome is feuding with pancakes.

Your liveglog begins after the jump.

mrmet.jpg

I hate Mets fans. Always have. I grew up a Yankees fan in North Jersey in the 1980s, and my best friend Dave always bragged about the Mets' big world championship in '86 as if it was the second coming of Yahweh. I had to suffer ten years until 1996 before I could feel that same joy, and you better believe I've spent the last twelve years shaming Dave as much as possible. But when Yankees bench coach Willie Randolph finally got his chance to manage a big league club, I regretted the fact that he'd lead my favorite team's crosstown rival, those hated New York Mets.

After 11 seasons as a coach for the Yanks, and exactly zero seasons managing any team at any level, Randolph got the job as Mets manager for the 2005 season. Quick career summary for Willie:

  • 2005: 83-79, 3rd place, first winning record for the Mets in 4 years
  • 2006: 97-64, 1st place, heartbreak loss to Cardinals in the NLCS
  • 2007: 88-74, 2nd place, historic collapse gives division to Phillies
  • 2008: 23-26, 4th place, 6.5 games behind Marlins on Memorial Day

Okay, the Mets missed the World Series by one game in '06 and missed the playoffs by one game in '07. Theywerethisclose to greatness in both years. There are two schools of thought on this: (1) Randolph should be lauded for the team's winning records and it was just bad luck that they missed the ultimate success by a hair or (2) Randolph was hired to influence the talent on the team and make vital managerial moves that would put the Mets over the top. If you subscribe to (1), then you are willing to forgive the past two years' shortcomings and wait out the 2008 season. If you are like certain Mets fans and Mets bloggers and you subscribe to (2), you are Salome calling for his head on a charger.

I'm really not sure which school of thought I subscribe to. I don't know enough about the game of baseball to comment on what goes on in the clubhouse or dugout or in the hearts of baseball players. I also don't know shit about psychology or team-building exercises or coaxing the best performance out of millionaire athletes, so I'm not going to opine about Willie Randolph's job future right now. He seems like a nice guy and he lives not too far from me, so I might run into him at the grocery store one day. Friendliness aside, though, I just don't know enough about managing a baseball team to

I do, however, have enough information in front of me to disparage the Mets GM, Omar Minaya. He's put together a team like an idiot contractor puts together a house: with chewing gum and cardboard tubes with a foundation of maple sugar oatmeal. With the Mets, fading superstar Pedro Martinez is the chewing gum, oft-injured Moises Alou and Marlon Anderson are the cardboard tubes, and overrated-yet-underperforming Jose Reyes is the gooey oatmeal foundation. This house will not stand. After trading away four of their best seven prospects in the Johan Santana trade, the farm system is in shambles too.

Maybe Minaya should be fired too. Either way, this is a money-making corporation that is putting up a beautiful new ballpark next year; they're not going to draw 4 million fans like the Yankees so the organization needs all the wins they can get. And maybe my buddy Dave will be happy again.

Here's what happened in baseball while driving with your eyes shut:

Mets 5, Marlins 3: Johan Santana pitched more like Johan Santana and less like Darren Dreifort as he went a solid seven innings to lead New York over Florida. Santana struck out hot-hitting Dan Uggla twice and scattered eight hits. The Mets closed to within 5.5 games of the first place Marlins so that's a mitzvah for Willie Randolph indeed.

Indians 8, White Sox 2: Cleveland had the bases loaded and led 7-2 in the seventh inning, but they were impatient as heck to get that eighth run. With Ben Francisco at the plate, they figured the best way to score would be to attempt the Vaunted Triple Steal. Great success....sorta. Jamey Carroll nearly got picked off and got caught in a rundown between first and second, which prompted David Dellucci to take off for home. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko threw towards home, but the ball hit dirt instead of catcher Toby Hall's glove. Dellucci, Carroll, and Grady Sizemore (who moved from second to third on the throw) were all awarded stolen bases.

Cubs 3, Dodgers 1: The Cubs looked good in front of a national television audience. Sean Gallagher must love the spotlight because he had possibly the best game of his life, going seven strong and allowing but one run. Heck, even Kerry Wood converted a save. The wheels came off the Dodgers' bus when third baseman Blake DeWitt made an oopsie that led to the three Chicago runs.

Brewers 3, Braves 2: With one out in the bottom of the ninth of a 2-2 game, Atlanta reliever Jeff Bennett let Milwaukee third baseman Bill Hall steal third base. Oops! Mike Cameron pounced on this opportunity and hit the walkoff sacrifice fly; the Braves lost another one-run game, and Matt_T's liveglog ended in sadness. Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres got the win.

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

  • Deadspin commenter extraordinaire and punny sports blogger in his own right Gourmet Spud gets word of a massive big name deal in baseball that has somehow escaped Christina Kahrl's transaction analysis over at Baseball Prospectus. Yes, J.P. Ricciardi was involved. Food Court Lunch.

  • Rich Lederer has compiled the matchups in the College World Series. Baseball Analysts.

  • And then Bryan Smith cherry-picks some of the best matchups and analyzes them. Baseball Prospectus: Unfiltered.

  • One More Dying Quail is happy that Jay Bruce is getting the big call-up to the Reds, but sad for one special reason. Bus Leagues Baseball.

  • Jbox left the 18-inning Padres-Reds game in the 17th inning, just before Adrian Gonzalez hit the walkoff ding dong. Gaslamp Ball

  • People in Wisconsin are friggin' gross and must get really bored when the Brewers are out of town. Also, they're bored when the Brewers are IN town. ZING! Obscure Store.

  • Camp Tiger Claw makes a guest appearance at Babes Love Baseball to talk up Ryan Braun and how stunningly intense his eyelashes are. Or something. Go read it. Babes Love Baseball.

  • CTC also won this nifty shirt in an eBay auction. Seriously. eBay.

Wild news out of Cincinnati today, via Reds uber-mensch beat writer John Fay: Scott Hatteberg was DFA'd to make room for Jay Bruce on the major league roster, which saves Corey Patterson's spot on Dusty's team. That's seven outfielders on the Reds.

elephant.jpg

The Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics have matching .373 team slugging percentages, but who cares if they're the 98-pound weaklings in the American League when their pitching staffs are about as deep as the rift between Frank Thomas and J.P. Ricciardi? They've got a chance to see who can win the most games by scoring the fewest runs as they meet for three games in Oakland starting tonight. The Blue Jays are coming off a four-game sweep of the hapless Royals and the A's were pretty much treading water until the Red Sox came to town and gave Oakland a sweep of their own.

There are enough storylines in this upcoming series to fill a Grimm collection, but the biggest deal here is that these are the two best pitching staffs in baseball. Let's cut the crap and get right to the matchups:

  • Tuesday: A.J. Burnett (R) vs Dana Eveland (L)
  • Wednesday: Roy Halladay (R) vs Greg Smith (L)
  • Thursday: Jesse Litsch (R) vs Rich Harden (R)

The series is in Oakland where Harden, Eveland, and Smith are a combined 6-1 with an ERA south of 3.00. Must be all that foul territory! Or something. Jack Cust is hot hot hot for the A's, having hit seven tater tots in May versus just one in April, raising his OPS almost 250 points in the process. No Blue Jay is really stroking it (besides Troy Glaus Scott Rolen, who needs something to do while on the DL) but Lyle Overbay leads all qualified Toronto batters with a .405 slugging percentage. Yecch!

And yes, Frank Thomas will face the team that pushed him out the door after a slow start blah blah blah. J.P. Ricciardi is a failure as a GM blah blah blah. Thomas has raised his OPS about 170 points since signing on with Oakland and is now slugging higher than any qualifying Toronto batter.

dusty3.jpg

Superstar Red prospect Jay Bruce will get the call-up today to the big club in Cincinnati for their evening contest against the Pirates. Bruce is a center fielder extraordinaire, having gotten on base at a .399 clip and having slugged a robust .625 at triple-A Louisville. Kid is fast, too, and will continue to learn to field his position well in the majors.

Alas, this spells the end of the road for Walkoff Walk hero Corey Patterson, who, according to my Reds beat reporter boyfriend John Fay, will most likely be the odd man out on the Reds roster. After going 0-for-8 in Sunday's 18-inning loss to the Padres, he's batting .201 and his speed is going to waste, having only reached first base via single or walk just 24 times. Sure, he had a decent isolated power rate with 8 doubles and 4 tater tots, but he was simply not a leadoff hitter.

Dusty Baker's Reds are in last place and sit seven full games behind the Cubs in a surprisingly competent National League Central. Still, with Jay Bruce coming up and Edinson Volquez putting up Johan Santana-esque numbers in a year when Johan Santana is putting up Darren Dreifort-esque numbers, fans in Cincinnati have something to look forward to (read: Dusty Baker getting fired in 2009).

The Angels won on a walkoff walk! You know what that means! Shrimp video! Thanks, Rick!

Here's what happened in baseball while doing the best things so conservatively:

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 3: What's gotten into Brandon Webb? Or more accurately, what got into the Braves offense, who collected 10 hits off the Arizona ace and knocked him out of the game after just four and a third innings, his shortest outing in over two years? Or even more importantly, who put the rainbow sprinkles on my vanilla ice cream? I WANTED M&M'S! Back to the action: Mark Teixeira, in his latest audition to move to New York City, had four RBI and two hits, including a double that drove in the first runs Brandon Webb has given up in the first inning all year. (NOT REALLY...THIS STAT IS UNTRUE).

Blue Jays 7, Royals 2: The city of Toronto welcomed the Royals to town by NOT celebrating Memorial Day and the Blue Jays added to their misery by NOT letting Kansas City win any of the four games. That's a sweep no matter how you count it. Actually, the Royals have lost TWO four-game series in a row. Two times four is eight, even in Ontario. The hapless Royals managed but four runs in the four games and allowed 23. The pitching hero of Monday was Shaun Marcum who actually won for the first time since Caesar crossed the Rubicon. (NOT REALLY...THIS STAT IS UNTRUE)

Brewers 4, Nationals 3 (11): Prince Fielder almost hit four home runs but instead settled for zero. What gives, Ned Yost?

"Prince just missed four homers. He almost had a four-homer day," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "You add up his outs, and ... it could have been 1,500 feet."
How in blog's name are you still employed, Yostypants? Whatever, because Prince scored the winning run on Gabe Kapler's pinch hit single in the top of the 11th. Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres picked up his second save of the four-game series. Hey, the Brewers didn't lose a series! Whee!
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Answer Man (ne David Brown) scores a fantastic interview with the best pitcher not yet in the Hall of Fame, Bert Blyleven. My fantasy team is named Ocean's Blyleven. I love Bert. Big League Stew.

  • Jamie Mottram seems to think that having a good closer is going to take the Orioles to the playoffs. It helps, but not as much as Daniel Cabrera actually having a pulse helps. Also, George Sherrill's hat brim thing is wild. Mr. Irrelevant.

  • Sports journalists are lazy, says John Brattain, because they don't take the time to educate themselves about the topics they are writing about. Brattain points to the Barry Bonds hullabaloo to prove his point. Point taken, man. Hardball Times.

  • Jay Jaffe gives the statistical lowdown for Mike Piazza's case for the HOF. Hit good no glove. Baseball Prospectus: Unfiltered.

  • This word association game will rule your life. Funny Farm.
salomontorres.jpg

The Milwaukee Brewers toppled the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 behind possibly the worst complete game 1-run performance in pitching history. Ben Sheets allowed 11 hits to the Bucs, including at least one each for all 9 starters, and was taxed for 123 pitches. Not very good for a pitcher coming off a triceps injury. This is the second complete game the oft-injured Sheets has thrown this year and I suppose manager Ned Yost has little confidence in his bullpen nowadays. After losing pitchers David Riske, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Choate, and Chris Capuano to injury this year, who could blame him? Hey, but what ever happened to closer Eric Gagne?

Until further notice, Milwaukee Brewers closer Eric Gagne has been shut down. Although that further notice could be as soon as today or as late as this weekend or maybe next week depending on how Gagne's stiff right shoulder feels today and what route team trainers and Dr. William Raasch decide is best. Gagne left the team Wednesday night to see Raasch today, but that wasn't decided until reporters were already out of the clubhouse and nearing time for the first pitch.

Oh boy. It's things like this that get a manager fired. So, Brewers blogger Anthony Witrado, who is going to take over the closer role now?

The Brewers will again go to a closer-by-committee situation, although Salomon Torres will get most of the chances, manager Ned Yost said.

Whee! WoW favorite Salomon Torres to the rescue!

Could things get any more depressing for the San Diego Padres and their fans? Not only do they have the worst record in baseball, and not only have they just put ace starter Jake Peavy on the disabled list, and not only did a construction accident near Petco Park hurt 12 people, and not only is Paul DePodesta's blog the most interesting thing about the entire organization, but now they have to deal with Albert Pujols' one-man wrecking crew taking out everyone in his path. To wit, via Awful Announcing:

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young and catcher Josh Bard were knocked out of Wednesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals by Albert Pujols within a span of two batters.

Pujols hit a line drive off his Young's face in the third inning, breaking the right-hander's nose. Young immediately fell on his backside and put his right hand up to his face. Blood was running down his face.

After a few minutes of sitting on the grass, Young walked off holding a bandage on his face with blood on the front of his jersey.

Pujols' shot ricocheted to the left side of the infield for a single and loaded the bases with one out. After Ryan Ludwick's grounder knocked in one run and advanced the runners, Troy Glaus lined a single to right field.

Aaron Miles and Pujols scored on the play. But right fielder Brian Giles' throw arrived at the plate at the same time as Pujols, who slid and caught Bard's left leg.

Here's the video, via FanIQ:

Well things couldn't possibly get worse for San Diego. At least the general manager isn't throwing the entire team (THAT HE ASSEMBLED) under the bus. Oh...

Here's what happened in baseball while I was right for the first time in my life:

Athletics 9, Rays 1: Dana Eveland was super-efficient, allowing just 5 baserunners in a 95-pitch complete game win over Tampa Bay that lasted just 2 hours and 6 minutes. Wait...two hours and six minutes? If I hadn't left so early for the Yankees game, I could have live-glogged this ENTIRE game. Damn. Jonny Gomes' eighth inning ding dong was the only thing preventing Eveland from earning the A's first complete game shutout of the year. Jack Cust tater-totted twice and Emil Brown collected his team-leading 35th RBI, good enough for 4th in the AL.

Marlins 3, Diamondbacks 1: Take back anything I have said about the Marlins. They are in it to win it, regardless of the opponent. Brandon Webb suffered his first loss of the season. Sure, he retired the first 12 gentlemen he faced, but after giving up a Luis Gonzalez triple in the fifth and allowing him to score on a Matt Treanor squeeze bunt, Webb had pie on his face. Cody Ross followed up with a home run, and it was smooth sailing for winner Ricky Nolasco after that point. Wacky stat from the AP recap: "Over the past five games, the Diamondbacks are 1-for-40 the first time through the order with 14 strikeouts." Stinkeroo.

Red Sox 6, Angels 3: Bartolo Colon is alive and well and living in....Boston? Get out! Colon made his gallant return to the mound in Fenway Park, throwing a serviceable five innings with four strikeouts and picking up a well-deserved win. Jacoby Ellsbury did the heavy lifting for the offense, going 3-for-4 with 3 runs and a ding dong and single-handedly moved the clubhouse piano across the street to Jake Ivory's for the late-night singalong.

Yankees 8, Orioles 0: We need instant replay in baseball for home runs immediately.

cubicle.jpg

Earlier today, I alerted you to the amazing and fascinating statistic that Phillies pitcher Tom Gordon has pitched in 45 different ballparks. Well hang on to your hats people BECAUSE THERE'S MORE:

At 45, Jamie Moyer will make it 46 ballparks. When the venerable lefty steps on the mound at Nationals Park on Wednesday, it will be the 46th mound he's toed in a career that began on June 16, 1986, and has entered its 22nd season.

Stop the goddamned presses, this is mind-bogglingly wild information! What could possibly make today any more insane?

Moyer doesn't have the highest total on the Phillies. That distinction goes to Rudy Seanez, who enters Wednesday's game with a chance to reach 47.

Holy Moses smell the roses! Pat Gillick has assembled a supergroup of old pitchers who have pitched in so many ballparks, they forget where they are from time to time. Or where they left their keys.

In other news, no glog today because I'm headed out early for the Yankees-Orioles game. Sorry!

Looks like Sports Illustrated is taking a break from regular old photographs and using inspiration from some of those newfangled comic books the kids are all agog about nowadays. Hey, what's that naughty man doing to Derek Jeter?

sicover2.jpg

Okay, that's an awesome rendering of an obvious fantasy world by DC Comics guy Mark Bagley. Remember folks, it might only be May 21st but that SI cover jinx works in mysterious ways.

gordon.jpg

I just tried to figure out how many different offices I've sat in over the course of my life, including relocations within one job. Turns out I've sat in at least ten different offices! That's a bunch of different beige colored walls to stare at and a bunch of different swivel chairs I warmed up with my tush.

Still, my number pales in comparison to Tom Gordon's. With his appearance last night at Nationals Park, Gordon has now appeared in games at 45 different ballparks in his twenty-one year career.

    With a list that includes two parks each in Arlington (Texas), Baltimore, Chicago (White Sox), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Toronto -- and the Tokyo Dome in Japan -- Gordon hasn't missed many.

Gordon pitched the eighth inning against the last-place Nationals and despite allowing a hit and a walk, allowed no runs and actually earned the win, thanks to Greg Dobbs' eighth inning RBI single. He's 40 years old and doesn't have many more pitches left in his arm. C'mon, stay one more year, Tom. You'll have the brand new CitiField to blow a game at!

Here's what happened in baseball while I heard the people who lived on the ceiling:

Phillies 1, Nationals 0: Cole Hamels and Jason Bergmann dueled for seven scoreless innings before retiring to the clubhouse for Pepsi and Nilla Wafers. They were tired, y'all! So the game was put into the able hands of their respective bullpens, but it was the Nationals bullpen that proved most distracted. Jon Rauch must have had his head in other places when he gave up a pinch-hit RBI single to Greg Dobbs in the eighth inning, the first Phillies run since gas cost like two dollar ninety-nine. Brad Lidge got the save despite allowing two walks and two stolen bases.

Tigers 12, Mariners 8: What would be the cure for what ailed the Detroit Tigers? What else, but the Seattle Mariners! Justin Verlander doubled his win total for the year, the offense hit four ding-dongs, and manager Jim Leyland smoked seventeen packs of cigarettes before the seventh inning stretch. Abbondanza! Tony Danza! Celebration all around in Detroit! The Big Tilde had a tater tot!

Marlins 3, Diamondbacks 2: I called this one wrong. Whoops! Former Diamondbacks prospect Dan Uggla hit the game-winning tater tot for the Marlins. Oh, that wild Rule 5 Draft strikes again! Micah Owings pitched well, amassing 10 strikeouts but it was that one home run that bit him in the ass. Mark Hendrickson pitched the minimum five innings required to earn the win, but reliever Kevin Gregg deserves the lions share of praise. He struck out three D-Backs in an inning and two-thirds to earn his eighth save.

Orioles 12, Yankees 2: PREPARE THE GNASHING OF TEETH AND RENDING OF GARMENTS. DEREK JETER HURT HIS LEFT HAND!

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

  • Dex heads out to the Big Apple for the National Sports Forum Executive Retreat and hears the keynote address by Tim Brosnan, Executive VP of Business at the MLB, aka the douchenozzle who tried to put Spiderman on the bases. Gaslamp Ball.

  • Pat notices that Pittsburgh closer Matt Capps is the only NL Central closer to keep both his shit together and the Pirates within reach of .500 so far this season. Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?.

  • Joe Posnanski was in attendance for Jon Lester's no-hitter at Fenway Park and puts together a remarkable piece in which he reflects on those moments when one simply 'knows' something is going to happen. Joe, where were you for ALCS Game 4 in 2004? JoeBlog.

  • I didn't realize it but wearing a black and orange San Francisco Giants cap is suddenly the hottest goddamn thing ever, regardless of what 'Duk says to the contrary. Big League Stew.

  • Tony Jackson notes that the Dodgers used three Asian pitchers from three different Asian countries to beat the Angels over the weekend. In related news, CTC had crab rangoon AND sushi last night for dinner. Inside the Dodgers.

  • Ryan Zimmerman's blog sucks. Ryan Zimmerman's blog, which sucks.
snakeeatingfish.jpg

It's a matchup of first place teams in mid-May, which means baseball bloggers like myself are giddy with playoff expectations! In reality, the Marlins have a far lesser chance of making the playoffs, both due to talent on their respective teams and competition in their respective divisions. The NL East is tight, with the Mets, Braves, and Phillies all within two games and all figuring out a way to get on top of Florida. The NL West race, however, is pretty much over, with only the Dodgers (five games back) challenging the Diamondbacks.

The Marlins were swept by the Reds and took just one game against the Royals this weekend, so they stagger into this series on a 1-5 clip. Arizona swept God's Rockies last week and took two of three from the hapless Tigers over the weekend so they're riding a 5-1 streak. Polar opposites!

Here are your pitching matchups:

  • Tuesday: Micah Owings (R) vs. Mark Hendrickson (L)
  • Wednesday: Dan Haren (R) vs. Ricky Nolasco (R)
  • Thursday: Brandon Webb (R) vs. Andrew Miller (L)

Owings has improved his numbers since last year. His walks are down, his strikeouts are up, and although his homers allowed is up a bit, Owings hits well enough at the dish to make up for a few extra tater tots. I bet the D-Backs take at least two of three in the series; they're OPSing .838 as a team against lefties.

Some people really dislike all the new-fangled corporate sponsorships and technological revolutions and safer, plastic beer bottles in the sport of baseball nowadays. So instead of heading down to Shea Stadium for a game between two teams that didn't exist before 1961, they dress up like fruitcakes and play old-timey baseball!



I hope everyone in this video tears an ACL, and, because there was no arthroscopic surgery back in nineteen-aught-five, has to be put down like Barbaro.

Full disclosure: I think Matt Rivera's article is well-written and actually, old-timey baseball is awesome and I am just jealous that I cannot participate, lacking the necessary hand-eye coordination and legs that work properly.

tvwall.jpg

Last night was a good night to have the MLB Extra Innings package. There were only eight games on the ol' schedule but all eight featured something worthwhile, from a no-hitter to a walkoff single to an inside-the-park homer. I don't have Extra Innings but I pretend to: I print out pictures of baseball games and tape them to my bedroom wall.

But hey, even if you were stuck with ESPN and nothing else, you'd have still seen the ninth inning of the no-hitter and the inside-the-park homer, followed by the (usually) engaging Baseball Tonight.

To wit:

  • Cub catcher Geovany Soto hit the inside-the-park homer in Houston after Astros CF Michael Bourn misplayed the shot off the wall. Cubs win 7-2.
  • Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester threw a real live no-hitter against the hapless Royals. Red Sox win 7-0.
  • Nats pitcher Tim Redding was the starting pitcher in both Phillies shutouts this year. Nats win 4-0.
  • Twins pitcher Bobby Korecky gets an extra innings single AND the win after a double switch eliminates the DH against the Rangers. Twins win 7-6.
  • Rockies second baseman Omar Quintanilla turns a wild double play to wipe out a Giants rally in the eight. Rockies win 4-3.
  • Rays rookie Evan Longoria hits a 13th inning ding dong to topple A's Frank Thomas' pair of ding dongs. Rays win 7-6.
  • Dodgers rookie Blake DeWitt collects a walkoff single in the ninth to send the suddenly hot Reds packing. Dodgers win 6-5.

Oh and the Padres got blown out by the Cardinals. They can't all be winners.

Here's what happened in baseball while I was slipping, sliding down Highway 31:

Red Sox 7, Royals 0: Jon Lester threw a ton of pitches tonight, 130 in all, but the Royals couldn't put any of those into play safely as Kansas City was no-hit. This was Lester's first ever no-hitter, first ever shutout, and heck...his first ever complete game. Kid will never need to buy another beer ever ever ever in the entire region of New England, but if I ever run into him in...say...Peoria, I'm making him buy his own consarn beer. Jason Varitek, who has now caught four no-hitters (selfish!) added a tater-tot.

Cubs 7, Astros 2: Oh hot damn, Lance Berkman lost his hitting streak. And heck, so did Hunter Pence. Heck, the heart of the Astros' lineup was not getting the job done against Ted Lilly and the Cubs relief corps. Chicago catcher Geovany Soto even hit one of them inside-the-park home runs (that replays proved should have been a regular home run but the higher-ups won't let us have instant replay in baseball, even though I've been arguing in favor of it for years hours). Things went so bad for Houston at home tonight, even old Jim Edmonds collected a web gem on that awkward hill in center field at Minute Maid Park.

Nationals 4, Phillies 0: Don't look now, but Tim Redding is 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA and a celebrity aunt. Redding and his Washington bullpen friends shut out Philadelphia for the second time this year, but Ryan Zimmerman provided the wild glovework at the hot corner to make sure Redding went home happy. Sure, the Phils put up seven hits and two walks but all nine runners were left stranded. Lastings Milledge had the big bases loaded double to provide the offense in this one. Bang, zoom!

Red Sox lefty Jon Lester's big accomplishment of the night was preventing the Royals from getting any hits with his nine-strikeout complete game shutout. That's a no-hitter! I am shocked, to say the least. My jinx didn't even work!

Yes, Lester's big story is that he beat non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a sort of cancer. But tonight, we salute him for mowing down the sorry Royals, including Jose Guillen, a TRUE clubhouse cancer.

lester.jpg


Addendum: According to NESN, Jason Varitek becomes the first player to ever catch 4 no hitters. -CTC
kidsjudo.jpg

Two unexpectedly successful American League teams will be battling it out for the next three days as the second place Tampa Bay Rays face off in Oakland against the second place Athletics. If you and I were as young as the kids on these rosters, we'd be able to stay up past 10:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time to watch the first two matchups. Yes, these two teams are among the youngest rosters in the majors and both teams are well into the early playoff races in their respective divisions.

Neither team is winning with smoke and mirrors, either. Both pitching staffs have been stingy, with the Rays giving up 4.0 runs per game and the A's giving up a microscopic 3.7 runs per game. Oakland needs the solid pitching, though, because their offense is struggling to put runs on the board. They've totaled just 11 runs in the past six games, going 1-5 in the process and ceding first place to the Angels.

Here are your pitching matchups:

  • Monday: James Shields (R) vs. Joe Blanton (R)
  • Tuesday: Scott Kazmir (L) vs. Greg Smith (L)
  • Wednesday: Andy Sonnanstine (R) vs. Dana Eveland (L)

That Wednesday game is at 3:35 EDT. Maybe I'll glog it.

kangaroofight.JPG

In last night's Mets-Yankees tussle on ESPN, the umpires conferenced to discuss a call on Carlos Delgado's line drive to left field that was initially (and correctly) ruled a home run. After a short chit-chat, home plate ump Bob Davidson incorrectly overruled the original call and deemed that the ball was foul, which prompted an incessantly irritating conversation between announcers Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

It also prompted a short and still irritating conversation between your Walkoff Walk bloggers, yours truly and Mr. Camp Tiger Claw, which I have replicated below, for your consideration:


Rob: can we blast instant replay
CTC: in baseball?
Rob: yes
CTC: i think they should have it for home runs
it's fucking stupid not to
Rob: BOO
Rob: i am against any rule that extends the length of games
even a proposed rule that awards me a hummer after every home run
CTC: that's totally insane
it would get use like once a month
at best
Rob: ha
i find that highly dubious
even if the managers werent allowed to challenge a call, THEYD STILL TRY TO
AND SLOW DOWN MY GAME
CTC: i find any logic against getting the score correct dubious
Rob: how about we make umpires into bionic superhumans instead
i vote for that
in theory, every call would be right
in practice, i'd rather have the umpires figure it out on their own
CTC: how about we go back to these gloves

Rob: well that's crazy
CTC: How about we take out the DH
Rob: whee
CTC: ..wait a second
Rob: like...actually take him out with a rifle?

...and scene. Commenters, what do you think about instant replay in baseball and/or superbionic umpirebots?

fatguy.jpg

Hey remember back in the early days of Walkoff Walk when I attacked Dale Murphy's son without any apparent reason? When I said he chose football over baseball because he was so ashamed of his failures at baseball that he gained a ton of weight and became a football player? And then all his friends attacked me the in comments? Yeah that was silly of me. Turns out he was drafted in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins! Go figure! What's going on with the rest of the Murphy clan?

One of Dale Murphy's other kids (he has eight...he's a Mormon) is trying out for the Atlanta Braves! Jake Murphy is a 6'4", 220 lb high school senior with a football scholarship offer from Brigham Young (he's a Mormon) and, according to Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton, "some skills." Nice underhanded compliment, Terry!

The Palm Beach Post caught up with Dale himself and found out he's a pretty mouthy former ballplayer nowadays:

"Barry Bonds is not the cause of the problem," said Murphy, "but he does give you the opportunity to talk about it. I was very opinionated about Barry. He made some decisions I think were wrong, and the main thing about major-league players is that young people take their lead when it comes to getting involved in that stuff." Murphy spends much of his time these days giving school speeches and running a foundation (iwontcheat.com) to raise awareness on the effects of steroid abuse and other bad choices for young people, such as academic cheating and prescription-drug abuse.

Sheesh. iwontcheat.com? I bet you $1000 he's a member of the Promise Keepers.

livan.jpg

When pro athletes end their careers, they sometimes choose to remain competitive on the golf course. John Perrotto, in his Every Given Sunday column at Baseball Prospectus, names a current pitcher who may someday end up on the Champions Tour with Rick Rhoden: (subscription req'd)

Twins right-hander Livan Hernandez wants to take a shot at becoming a professional golfer if his pitching career ever ends.

Hernandez allegedly has experience with the ol' woods and irons. His current teammate Joe Nathan played with Livan back in 2002, and remembers getting his "butt whipped" by Livan on the golf course. Oh! That's just like the time Livan got arrested back in 2003 for assault with a pitching wedge:

Police said Hernandez pushed Francisco Martinez, 65, to the ground during an argument outside a warehouse he rents from the man. The dispute escalated and police said Hernandez grabbed some golf clubs from the trunk of his car and tried to hit Martinez.

The charges were eventually dropped against Hernandez and he avoided jail time, having only to attend anger management courses and perform community service. His worst punishment? Being traded to the Expos just two months after the arrest.

rumor.jpg

As per a rumor by "Badger Blogger" posted on Tom Haudricourt's Brewers Blog, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost will be fired today. Haudricourt does not necessarily believe the rumor or even link to the blog in question but provides the following quotes:

   The blog said it could not "independently confirm" the information but said sources close to the Brewers' organization said Yost would be fired today and replaced by bench coach Ted Simmons.

   The blog said "in the midst of another horrid road trip and on the heels of a sweep by the Boston Red Sox," the decision had been made to replace Yost. It says switching to Simmons "will provide the direction and leadership this team has been so badly lacking."

After being swept by the Red Sox this weekend, the Brewers are in sole possession of last place in the NL Central. Yes, that's behind both Dusty Baker's Reds and the hapless Pirates. Firing someone for that indiscretion? Color me unsurprised.

Here's what happened in baseball while we stayed in by the telly:

Reds 6, Indians 4: Oh noes they got to Cliff Lee! Cincinnati completed the sweep of their lesser Ohio brethren behind another strong pitching start by Edinson Volquez. Volquez and Lee led their respective leagues in ERA prior to the game but both gentlemen saw their numbers skyrocket: Lee gave up 5 earned runs and his ERA went from 0.67 to 1.37 while Volquez allowed 2 earned runs for the first time ever ever ever and saw his ERA rise to 1.33. Unfortunately, the 24-year old Volquez was taxed with over 110 pitches for the third start in a row so expect his arm to fall off before season's end. Adam Dunn and Joey Votto contributed ding-dongs.

Red Sox 11, Brewers 7: Sorry Mr. Uecker but the Brew Crew just got swept and you didn't even get rezzies at Locke-Ober. What a waste of a weekend in Beantown! David Ortiz hit two tater tots to earn the title of Mr. Tater Tot on a day that both teams combined for eight tater tots. Ryan Braun's two tater tots were just not enough to make up for the awful pitching performances by starter Carlos Villanueva and reliever Mark DiFelice. DiFelice made his major league debut at age 31 by giving up Ortiz' second dong. Welcome to the show, old fart.

Diamondbacks 4, Tigers 0: Well Camp Tiger Claw called it and the National League West is just going to have to deal with it: Randy Johnson is still dealing, even without his punishing fastball. Old Randy went seven scoreless against the hapless Tigers, striking out five and walking just one. Chad Qualls and Brandon Lyon completed the shutout while Chris Young's double produced runs as prodigiously as Brian Eno produces annoying ambient albums.

Mariners 3, Padres 2: Hey, Seattle won a series! Maybe Geoff Baker and his pitchfork-wielding readers can come in off the ledge now. Sure, their victim was the extra hapless Padres, owners of the worst record in the majors but a win is a win is a win. Jose Lopez was the hero with his two-out two-run eighth inning double and Heath Bell was the dork who gave Lopez a meatball to hit. Speaking of meatballs, I could really go for some veal and ricotta meatballs right now. NOM!

Today's classic television post is a montage of the greatest work by one of the best baseball clowns in history. The San Diego Chicken was the first costumed mascot in baseball and we, as a society, are enriched by his antics.



Please stick around for the weekend as Camp Tiger Claw will be keeping us abreast of interleague action twice: once on Saturday and once again on Sunday.

chicken.jpg

Today is the first day of interleague play so let's take a look at a few interesting matchups. Next, the Athletics - Braves.

As long as the Braves can avoid getting into one-run games, they'll have a chance to take the series at home against a very light-hitting A's team. After all, this weekend matchup is at the Ted and they Braves are 14-4 at home.

This matchup features the two stingiest teams in the majors; both pitching squads are allowing under 4 runs per game and feature very able fielders. Both teams are in the top eight in defensive efficiency, a statistic that would make CTC's head explode. But lo, who will be the starting pitchers this weekend?

   Friday: Dana Eveland (L) vs. Charlie Morton (R)
   Saturday: Rich Harden (R) vs. Jair Jurrjens (R)
   Sunday: Justin Duchscherer (R) vs. Tim Hudson (R)

I must admit I have no idea who Charlie Morton is, but something tells me the fella in this video isn't the gent pitching tonight. Tim Hudson is facing his former team for the first time, but none of those dudes were ever his teammate anyway so it's no biggie. Also, Hudson's teammate Mark Kotsay will be going up against the team that traded him away in exchange for magic beans.

Most importantly, the winning team of this series will determine who wins Commenter of the Fortnight for Walkoff Walk, either Farthammer's A's or Matt_T's Braves.

UPDATE: I stole my information from Rototimes, and it was completely wrong. The Braves' rotation this weekend is Jurrjens, Hudson, and Jo-Jo Reyes. OOPSIE DOODLE

chicken.jpg

Today is the first day of interleague play so let's take a look at a few interesting matchups. Next, the Padres - Mariners.

This is one of those natural rivalries that meet twice a year, every year. San Diegans and Seattlites both bitch and complain about this fact, but really, who else would you choose as natural rivals? Until there's an American League team in Tijuana and a National League team in Vancouver, you two are stuck together, so deal with it. Here are your pitching matchups:

   Friday: Miguel Batista (R) vs Chris Young (R)
   Saturday: Erik Bedard (L) vs Randy Wolf (L)
   Sunday: Felix Hernandez (R) vs Shawn Estes (L)

This series also features the two teams with the worst records in their respective leagues. Neither team can hit well, with the Padres getting on base at a major league low .303 rate and the Mariners just ahead at .306. This is the baseball equivalent of deciding whether to watch How I Met Your Mother or Bones on a Monday night. You'd be better off shooting your television and then yourself.

Still, I'm interested in (a) seeing if Hernandez can regain his April magic and (b) if the entire Mariners organization collapses in sadness and despair before the All-Star break.

uecker.jpg

Today is the first day of interleague play so let's take a look at a few interesting matchups. First up, Brewers - Red Sox.

Remember the halcyon days of the late twentieth century, when the Milwaukee Brewers visiting the Boston Red Sox was merely just a normal occurrence, and not some new Bud Selig creation to appease fans and increase attendance? Yeah, so do I. No matter, Bob Uecker and the Brew Crew are on their way to Fenway tonight to face Terry Francona and the Sawks. Here are your pitching matchups:

   Friday: Jeff Suppan (R) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (R)
   Saturday: Dave Bush (R) vs. Tim Wakefield (R)
   Sunday: Carlos Villanueva (R) vs. Josh Beckett (R)

Boston's least favorite reliever from their 2007 World Championship team returns in Brewers form, Mr. Eric Gagne. He's back as the closer for Ned Yost's team but if Milwaukee is hanging onto a close lead late, don't expect Yost to feel entirely comfortable about calling for the shaky righthanded pitcher. Ten saves out of 15 opportunities is an awful rate for a reliever. Also awful, having to take a mental break.

As far as the starters go, Jeff Suppan is also returning to face his former team while Tim Wakefield was the last Red Sox starter to face the Brewers way back in 1997. Heck, he'll probably be the next Red Sox starter to face the Brewers when they come back for an interleague series in 2015.

Here's what happened in baseball while pop psychology kept us apart:

Astros 8, Giants 7: Lance "Stained" Berkman is MADE OF MAGIC AND APPLESAUCE. He ripped his league-leading 15th homer into Barry Bonds McCovey Cove, winning the game and sending San Fran reliever Vinnie Chulk to his room without fruit cup. That three-run tater tot was worth like 38 points in Camp Tiger Claw's fantasy league with Will Leitch and some hack comic. Tim Lincecum's ten-strikeout quality start was sullied. Astros lead off hitter Michael Bourn was 0-for-5.

Phillies 5, Braves 0: Walkoff Walk commenter extraordinaire Matt_T instant messaged me earlier in the day to say that Chipper Jones was scratched, and that he recommended placing a wager on the Phillies to win this game. WELL MATT I HAVE GOOD NEWS. I phoned my bookie and I got 500-1 odds that Cole Hamels would pitch his first career shutout against the depleted Atlanta lineup (Ruben Gotay! Omar Infante! Mark Kotsay!) AND IT HAPPENED AND IT ONLY TOOK 120 PITCHES. Sell high, Cole Hamels fantasy owners...that arm won't stay on forever. By the way, my wager was $0 so I made a total of $0.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 0 (6): Dudes and dudettes I cannot stay up all night to follow this game but let me just say that Brandon Webb is dealing at Chase Field. Six innings pitched, two hits, zero walks, zero runs, seven strikeouts, ten groundball outs and just 73 pitches. How can you not love this man? P.S. Stephen Drew is 4-for-4 and a homer shy of the cycle. Yowsa!

UPDATE: D-Backs win, 8-5. Brandon Webb is 9-0.

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

  • The Z-Meter follows the seasons of 25 prospects on their way through the minors and is named after former UVa standout and current Nat Ryan Zimmerman. Jay Bruce is about to break the goddamned Z-Meter. Bus Leagues Baseball.

  • Joe Sheehan and Bil Burke use good, nerdy analysis to figure out why power is down in the American League this year. NOTE: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH STEROIDS SO SHUT UP. Baseball Prospectus.

  • The only slump in Philadelphia worse than Ryan Howard's hitting slump is D-mac's winless streak in the Rock Paper Scissors City League. In my opinion, he should throw rock and then just punch the other guy in the groin. Philadelphia Will Do.

  • Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson is a great read for 99 out of 100 blog posts, but when he relates an anecdote that has anything to do with the movie Love, Actually, it actually makes me zzzzzzzzzzzz. Inside the Dodgers.

  • Scorcese dialogue or Josh Beckett postgame comment? Surviving Grady.
braun.jpg

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt is a gentleman and a scholar, and today he gives us the scoop of scoops in his blog: the Brewers are about to give young slugger Ryan Braun a payday, the good kind.

If you don't remember, Braun was the NL Rookie of the Year after slugging 34 tater tots in just 113 games last year. The team moved him from third base to left field because he played defense just like Brooks Robinson, except the polar opposite. Here's the deets from Mr. H:

The Milwaukee Brewers will announce this morning that leftfielder Ryan Braun has agreed to a seven-year contract extension that will be a record in terms of both length and money for the team and the industry. The Brewers have called a 10 a.m. press conference at Miller Park to make "a major baseball announcement." Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, was contacted en route to Milwaukee this morning but said he could reveal no details prior to the club's announcement.

Wait a minute...it's a record for the team AND the industry? You mean the industry of baseball? Braun is getting a bigger contract than A-Rod or Jeter or Johan? Okay maybe I'm just misreading that line. Still, it will be the biggest contract in Brewers history, the prior record holder being Jeff Suppan's measly $42 million deal.

So what do Tom's readers and commenters think about the deal? Here's commenter xc500mod's words of wisdom:

"thanks for getting that out to us Mr. Haudricourt. This is the first place i come for brewer info. I bet you hayseeds like this news."

Yep. Us hayseeds love it, man.

UPDATE: Anthony Witrado posts some figures for other recent signings as a comparison piece. Yay Milwaukee bloggers!

UPDATE 2: Mr. H sez it's 7 years, $45 million.

snoopylead.jpg

Not only is Corey Patterson not the worst leadoff hitter in the majors, he's not even the worst leadoff hitter in the NL Central. That honor belongs to the Houston Astros' own Michael Bourn. Bourn leads off and plays center field for manager Cecil Cooper's Astros; he's batting .187 and, with 14 whole walks on the season, is reaching base at just a .260 pace.

Our hero Patterson has raised his OBP by 30 points in the past week and is now getting on base at a still-pretty-bad .286 clip. He's not listed in the chart so ably-prepared by the folks at Crawfish Boxes because he hasn't reached enough plate appearances to be qualified. He's not leading off every game; Dusty Baker has been sittting him against left-handed pitching. Still, if he was on that chart, he'd be second to last! Hooray for Corey!

Glancing over the chart again, I notice Nate McLouth close to the top. While he is indeed having a very good year, he's no longer leading off for the Pirates. He's been moved down to second or third, and Freddy Sanchez has been moved up to the 1 spot. As of today, Sanchez' OBP is .282 which means that WoW favorite Corey Patterson is really just the third worst leadoff hitter in baseball! Everything's coming up Corey!

Here's what happened in baseball while bangin' like Charlie Watts:

Reds 7, Marlins 6 (10): Something wacky happened in a Reds game so you just knew I was going to tell you about it. Brandon Phillips led the Cincy offense to a 6-0 lead over Florida, giving Bronson Arroyo a chance to notch his third win after seven shutout innings. But, lo! What light from yonder bullpen breaks? It is Mike Lincoln and Francisco Cordero and they gave up 6 runs to send the game into extras! In the tenth, Johnny Cueto pinch ran for catcher David Ross and scored the winning run on rookie Paul Janish's single. Janish was just called up today to replace Jeff Keppinger and his borkened knee.

Indians 2, Athletics 0: Everything's coming up Ohio, especially for Cleveland's starters. C.C. Sabathia hurled a 5 hit shutout, extending the Indians starting rotation's streak to 43 and 1/3 scoreless innings. They're like five Orel Hershisers, except not quite as white. Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko provided the offense with solo ding dongs off A's pitcher Joe Blanton.

Dodgers 6, Brewers 4: A day after bringing Eric "Mental Break" Gagne back to the closer role to earn a save, manager Ned Yost takes his own mental break and rests Gagne in favor of Guillermo "We Have Forgiven You For All Your Steroid Eating" Mota. Well whoopsie-doodles all around because Mota gave up the game-winning two-run double to Juan Pierre, followed by an RBI groundout to Andruw "All I Want Are Fried Plantains" Jones. Also earning a nickname tonight, Takashi "Jonathan Broxton Will Never Take My Job" Saito.

liveglog.jpg

As much as I wanted to liveglog a Reds game, they just weren't playing this afternoon. Instead, I'll have to settle for the Red Sox and Orioles. Sigh! Jon Lester takes on Danny Cabrera today. Lester's strikeout numbers are down this season and his walk rate is up, which is never good for a pitcher.

Cabrera, on the other hand, is pitching out of his gourd mostly because he worked his walk rate down a bit. He's coming off a 1-run complete game victory over the weak-hitting Royals but Sox third baseman Mike Lowell is 10-for-14 lifetime with a ding dong in his career against Cabrera.

Follow me after the jump for your first regular season AL East liveglog!

Broken_heart_by_fabu.jpg

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has been stalking Andruw Jones like a jilted boyfriend since the preseason when we first reported on Jones' move to Los Angeles. Today, the AJC reprints an AP story about Jones' struggles with the Dodgers, and it just reeks of emo nonsense. Even manager Joe Torre is in on the melancholy bullshit:

    "This is the first time he's left the nest," the manager said. "He's been with an organization his whole life. He ventures out; he doesn't do very well."

Jesus, he's a big boy, Joe. I think Andruw can deal with playing baseball in a different place. Sure, he's hitting just .170 now (a full 70 points below his weight). But the Braves did go on road trips from time to time, even to the West Coast. Why is relocation so difficult for a professional baseball player? I'm sure Jones is man enough to not use that as an excuse. Or not:

"It's tough when you live in your own house, in your own bed for so many years," said Jones, who has kept his home in the Atlanta area. "It's been a tough change. My family's not here. You walk into a house you don't normally walk into. Some people take a long time to adjust."

Note to Andruw Jones' family: get off your ass and move to Los Angeles and support your goddamn husband/father/uncle whatever. He's bringing in the big bucks to keep you all in the lap of luxury. The least you can do is make him some goddamn fried plantains after a hard day's work at the ballpark.

dusty3.jpg

I've been beating a dead horse for a while, but my manfriend John Fay at the Cincinnati Enquirer has been keeping me up to date with the comings and goings of Corey Patterson, and I feel the need to pass the savings on to you, our customer. Here's what manager Dusty Baker had to say on Monday regarding moving our erstwhile leadoff man and center fielder down in the lineup:

"Yeah, what makes it kind of rough is you don't want to have three left-handers in a row," Baker said. "That's what I'm trying to stay away from. He's going to get going. Guys usually end where their (career) average is. . . we don't have a bunch of speed. You need speed, especially in close games."

Patterson was hitting .196 with five stolen bases in eight attempts at the time. After going 6-for-8 In the past two games, he's up to .236, but more importantly, his position in the depth chart just improved a bit.

In last night's 5-3 Reds victory over the Marlins, starting shortstop Jeff Keppinger broke his kneecap (OUCH), forcing Baker to re-adjust the defense. Right fielder Jerry Hairston Jr. moved to shortstop, center fielder Ryan Freel moved to right, and our hero Corey Patterson, who was sitting against left-handed starter Mark Hendrickson, entered the game in centerfield. If Ken Griffey gets his wish and moves back to Seattle, your starting Reds outfield will be Freel, Patterson and Adam Dunn until Jay Bruce gets his call-up from AAA Louisville.

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

  • Our good friend Suss-- recaps a recent Tigers game by referencing those old Burma Shave signs that nobody my age has ever seen. The Big Tilde.

  • Marlins fans are trying all sorts of math and mirrors to justify the team's hot start. Sabermetricians are trying all sorts of math and mirrors to discredit the team's hot start. Perhaps there is no reasonable explanation for the team's hot start. Except HGH. Fish Stripes.

  • David Pinto links to a Bill Conlin column analyzing Ryan Howard's slow start. Conlin relates a story about how Branch Rickey got Duke Snider to stop swinging at garbage pitches, and then Bill eats a big sandwich. Baseball Musings.

  • Forget the Marlins, Patrick Sullivan wants to know if the A's and the Rays can keep up their hot starts. Hint: yes, and unfortunately yes. Baseball Analysts.

  • The Cubs are interested in Jim Edmonds. Oh boy. Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.

  • Joe Posnanski published the entire Pat Jordan interview. JoeBlog

  • Tom Mylan made his own prosciutto. Grocery Guy.

The Case for Expansion

| | Comments (34)
youppi.jpg

With baseball attendance at an all-time high and the country totally not in any sort of economic recession, it's time to consider the third expansion of Major League Baseball in the past sixteen years. Yes, I realize that Bud Selig and his cronies were considering contracting the Twins and the Expos just six years ago, but that was a power play for public funds towards building new stadiums. Baseball teams were making money in 2002 and they're making a whole lot more now. So let's ride the wave of good fortune and add two more baseball clubs to the American League, bringing the number of teams in both leagues to an even 16.

Now that we've all decided that yes, it is indeed time to add two teams, we must figure out where they are to go. In the spirit of a May 2007 Baseball Prospectus column by Nate Silver that suggested relocation possibilities for the Florida Marlins (subscription req'd), let's do a countdown of the Top Ten Best Possible Expansion Cities for Baseball:

10. Las Vegas - Not enough year-round residents to support a team, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better destination for the jetsetting Red Sox Nation to visit for a road trip.
9. Buffalo - Was considered during the National League expansion back in 1993 but has since lost a good deal of its population. Also, winter lasts until July and starts in September.
8. Oklahoma City - Is deemed large enough to have a pro basketball team, but it may be too soon (and too dry) to support a baseball team. Also, the Rangers fanbase would flee and Tom Hicks won't be able to afford to overpay crappy pitchers.
7. San Antonio - Mark Twain once said that there were just four truly unique cities in the United States, while the rest were not much different from one another. His four were Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, and San Antonio. He was also a filthy liar who couldn't even sign his real name to his own work, so who would trust him to start a baseball team?
6. San Juan - It's well-enough populated with more people than the city of St. Louis, but they're twice as poor. Also, they couldn't even keep their own league together.
5. Columbus - Ohio needs another baseball team like I need a hole in my head. Anyone who isn't already an Indians fan or a Reds fan probably has much more interesting things going on in their lives than dealing with a third mediocre franchise.
4. Montreal - Don't blame the good people of Montreal for losing the Expos, blame owner Claude Brochu, and later Jeffrey Loria for doing everything in their power to drive away fans. Given the right situation (and a new stadium), a Montreal franchise could once again draw 2+ million fans (and bring back Youppi!)
3. New Jersey - There are almost 20,000,000 people living in the New York metropolitan area. That's more than Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver, Baltimore, Tampa and San Diego combined. Remember, New York once supported three baseball teams, and that was way back when people were shorter and lived near the water.

So here are the two cities that should get expansion franchises, along with a possible nickname:

2. Portland - The Portland Willamettes would not have a huge fanbase to work with, but they've actually got a stadium plan in the works and less rain than you think. They'd be a nice fit in the American League West.
1. Charlotte - I totally stole my #1 from Mr. Silver. I can't say this any better than he did:

"There is, to my mind, exactly one place that would clearly be viable for the 31st major league franchise, and that place is Charlotte, North Carolina. The South as a whole is underrepresented in the major leagues, which is what enables the Braves to control such a substantial TV audience. Charlotte is no metropolis, but it is conveniently located at the center of several mid-size markets, including the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/Raleigh-Durham corridor along I-40, and Columbia, South Carolina."

As long as the Charlotte team didn't combine the words "River" or "Mud" with either "Dog" or "Cat" as a mascot, I'll let them have a baseball team. Perhaps they should use the North Carolina state mammal as a mascot; the Charlotte Grey Squirrels would be a welcome addition to the American League East. After all, the Yankees and Red Sox need a new powderpuff team to beat up on now that the Rays have become competitive.

What cities did I miss? What would some possible mascot ideas be for the places I mentioned?

puma.jpg

Lance Berkman is the Big Puma and if you get in his way like Barry Zito did last night, he will pounce on you and bite your neck. Berkman went 3-for-4 with a two-run ding dong off Zito in leading his Astros to a 7-3 win over the Giants. He's actually hitting over .500 in the past 15 games, bringing the Houston Astros within 1.5 games of the first place Cubs. He's also gone and won his second Player of the Week award in the past three weeks. Lance Berkman is hitting so goddamned hot, he may have broken Bill James' thermometer:

Bill James, the statistical expert/author, has a "Who is hot?" statistic, which is expressed in degrees temperature. 72 degrees, or "room temperature," is normal. Each hitter starts the season at 72 degrees and degrees are added/subtracted based on each plate appearance. All major batting outcomes are assigned a certain number of positive and negative points.

Here is Bill James' current listing of hitters:

Lance Berkman 123°
Mike Lowell 98°
Clint Barmes 97°
Joey Votto 95°
Jason Bay 93°

Berkman is so hot, he's got people whispering about the Triple Crown. He leads the NL in RBI and is second in batting average (.393) behind Chipper Jones (.406) and is tied in ding dongs (13) with Chase Utley. More importantly than the Triple Crown, though: he may have already won the Walkoff Walk NL Player of the Month for May.

If you're wondering where the Big Puma moniker came from, turns out Berkman gave it to himself after disliking the nickname he earned from his teammates: Fat Elvis.

Here's what happened in baseball as your Pizza Hut was covered with daisies:

Reds 8, Marlins 7: This game was chock full of anachronisms: Corey Patterson reached base four times out of five, Ken Griffey made a two-run whoopsie-doodle as a high pop fly fell into and out of his glove, and the team with the worst record in the NL beat the team with the best record. Griffey's error helped the Marlins close to within one run in the eighth inning off closer Francisco Cordero, but Cordero sent Florida down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his sixth save in six chances.

Twins 7, Red Sox 3: Livan Hernandez isn't as bad as you think. He's 6-1 on the year, the Twins are 8-1 when he pitches, and he just beat the American League leading Boston Red Sox with his 35 MPH fastball. Hernandez didn't do it all by his lonesome: Marilyn Monroe's son Craig hit a two RBI double in the fifth to put the Twins ahead comfortably enough that they didn't need to bring in Joe Nathan to nearly blow another save. Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz hit his head on the dugout.

Nationals 10, Mets 4: Those wacky Washington Nationals made Nelson Figueroa look absolutely silly, as the peripatetic right-hander allowed five hits and five walks in five innings, leading to six Nats runs. Pitcher Odalis Perez was your fantasy glutton of the night, earning a win along with going 3-for-3 with 2 RBI at the plate. "HE HELPED HIS OWN CAUSE" is the worst baseball cliché ever. Reported attendance at the game was north of 45,000, but with temperatures below 50 degrees, I'd be surprised if there were more than 200 people at this game.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (10)
night game.jpgHey kids. Check out your local purveyors of fine televised baseball and find out:

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

padrepickins.jpg

Dex of Gaslamp Ball got a fantastic scoop from his connections with the San Diego Padres' front office. Turns out that former Dodgers general manager and current Special Assistant for Baseball Operations with the San Diego Padres Paul DePodesta has a blog, and he's not afraid to use it:

   "I began thinking about hosting a blog about a year ago, and back in January I took the first big step by starting an internal blog for employees of the Padres. The idea all along was to someday create an external blog to engage in a direct dialogue with our fans. Well, given the events of the past few weeks, that "someday" is now. We'll have to figure out the rules as we go since I won't be able to share everything, but I think it's important to open this avenue right now."

DePodesta was a disciple of Billy Beane with the Oakland A's and he played a significant role in that murder mystery novel Moneyball. (spoiler: it was Mark Teahen, in the conservatory, with the candlestick) He was later hired by the Dodgers to fill the G.M. role, but was let go within 20 months because Frank McCourt hates that fancy baseball math.

Walkoff Walk has been around long enough that we can welcome Mr. DePodesta to the baseballblogosphere and wish him the best of luck fending off rabid, commenting fans with knee-jerk reactions to seemingly wacky front office moves. Lucky for him, the San Diego faithful are pretty laid back; unlucky for him, the Padres have the worst record in baseball (but here come the Mariners!)

dusty2.jpg

Lost in the hoopla of all those wild, wacky rainouts yesterday was this wacky highlight from the Reds-Mets game in Flushing:

    "The basics: Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano started the (ninth) inning and faced catcher David Ross, hitting in the eighth spot. Ross lined out to right. The problem was Ross had been double-switched into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Bill Bray - slated to hit ninth - and would replace starting catcher Paul Bako, who had batted eighth the first six innings, defensively. Corey Patterson was inserted in the eighth inning to play centerfield and was supposed to hit eighth in place of reliever Jeremy Affeldt."

Translation: Dusty Baker's Reds batted out of order. Mets manager Willie Randolph spotted the error, presented his case to the umps, and was rewarded when Ross' fly out was stricken from the records and Patterson was charged with a putout to the catcher. So basically, Corey Patterson recorded an out without even setting foot in the batters box. Walkoff Walk's favorite target of derision is simply finding new ways to make outs every day! He's a Renaissance man of out-making! (Full disclosure: I like Corey Patterson and am rooting for him to do well, just not as a leadoff hitter)

Oddly enough, Ross was allowed to bat in his proper spot following this goof. He singled, but the Reds still lost 8-3.

Here's what happened in baseball as I laid down in a field of flame and heather:

Yankees 0, Detroit 0 (ppd. rain): I guess it rained in Detroit. Hm.

Blue Jays 0, Indians 0 (ppd. rain): Makes sense it would rain in Cleveland too. Michigan and Ohio are relatively close.

Braves 0, Pirates 0 (ppd. rain): Oh crap, I forgot how close Western Pennsylvania is to Ohio. Did ANYONE actually play baseball?

Let me know what I missed about Florida's seventh win in a row or the Astros come-from-behind victory after being no-hit for six or Brian Bannister's gem against the Orioles.

twins.JPG

After spending the day fêting your mother/grandmother/stepmother/surrogate mother/television, please enjoy tonight's nationally broadcast ESPN game featuring the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield takes the mound for the Sox while youngster Nick Blackburn will do his best to protect the Baggiedome from hot hitting Kevin Youkilis.

Tomorrow, get ready for some weekend recaps and prepare thyself for a week full of interleague previews.

That's a huge lie. We'll probably forget about that interleague stuff until Friday. Whoops!

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (12)
hamilton.jpg

Hey kids. Check out your local purveyors of fine televised baseball this weekend and find out:

  • WHICH hot AL West team will continue to notch the wins? Will it be Josh Hamilton (pictured, left) and his Texas Rangers, fresh off a sweep of the miserable Mariners or the Oakland Athletics, winners of four in a row?

  • WILL the Twinkies figure out a way to put some runs on the board against the hot pitching rotation of the Boston Red Sox? Hint: no.

  • CAN the Braves figure out a way to win more than four road games? It won't be too hard; they're going to Pittsburgh.

  • HOW awful is the timing that the Phillies are traveling to San Francisco just in time for Jimmy Rollins to make his triumphant return to shortstop? Awful enough that poor Eric Bruntlett's family won't get a chance to see the kid play.

  • WHY am I answering all my own rhetorical questions?

We owe an entire pallet-ful of Cokes to commenter star Farthammer for emailing us that awesome picture of Josh Hamilton wearing a Ron Washington t-shirt. Enjoy your weekend, watch some baseball, and tune in Saturday and Sunday to read some CTC recaps.

Breaking news: the San Diego Padres have released veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds after just 26 games. Edmonds was batting just .178 and was as slow as molasses in center field. Let the Chase Headley era commence!

(we owe a Coke to Gaslamp Ball)

In what has become a great Friday afternoon tradition at Walkoff Walk, I bring you this bit of classic television featuring Johnny Carson interviewing Bob Uecker. Let us pause for a moment and ponder exactly how Mr. Uecker, who played for just six seasons and batted .200, was ever considered a major television star. (Insert introspective pause here). Okay, well believe it or not, Bob Uecker spent five seasons playing the wacky dad in the TV show Mr. Belvedere, which was a mockumentary about a Polish vodka entrepreneur. He also made 64 (!) guest appearances on The Tonight Show, more than Joan Embery and Charles Nelson Reilly combined. Please to enjoy:



(via the Classic Television Showbiz blog)

doublethreat.jpg

If you thought Carlos Gomez' cycle earlier this week was good, wait until you read about what Colorado high school baseball player Jobi Wall did:

   "A senior right-hander, Wall struck out six batters and retired 15 in a row in a five-inning, 18-0 victory over Coal Ridge. At the plate, the left-handed hitter tripled, singled, doubled, then homered in only four innings.

    "I was kind of aware of it, then it happened," said Wall, who is 6-feet-6, 205 pounds and also plays shortstop when not pitching. "My teammates were very supportive. Everything went right and I got a lot of lucky bounces."

Wow! He pitched a perfect game and hit for the cycle in the same game. Not even Micah Owings could do that given a million chances. Also, Owings' arm would fall off after about 2,000 tries, so that would hinder him somewhat.

Wall is a senior at Faith Christian High School. Let's see...he goes to a school called "Faith Christian", plays baseball, and lives in Colorado. He must be a Cardinals fan!

Watch as Richie Sexson charges the mound after Kason Gabbard throws a pitch at his head, sparking a riotous brawl between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers:



Oh shit no, that pitch was nowheres near his head. And yet Sexson charged the mound, threw his helmet, and tackled Gabbard, probably sending the dainty pitcher back to the disabled list. Maybe all this renewed energy by the Mariners will fill the seats. Or...maybe not.

(via Bugs & Cranks)

Here's what happened in baseball as you let me take my chances:

Braves 5, Padres 4: Atlanta came within one pitch of shrimp video goodness but Matt Diaz decided a walkoff single would win more praises than a mere walkoff walk. Allow me to register my disagreement, Mr. Diaz! Anyway, the Braves got off the superschneid that was a nine-game losing streak in one-run games and beat the Dads down in Hotlanta for the sweep. That's eleven losses for San Diego's bullpen. Manny Acosta got the win but with six relievers picking up the pieces after Jo-Jo Reyes left with an ouchie, I'm going to award the win to Bobby Cox for not getting tossed.

Yankees 6, Indians 3: It took three games but the Yankees finally decided to bring out their ding dong bats against Cleveland pitching. Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Wilson Betemit, Robinson Cano, and Federico the hot dog guy all collected tater tots off Paul Byrd and the Indians relievers. Mike Mussina got the win but Ross Ohlendorf and Joba Chamberlain were pretty pretty good in relief. Can we get these guys a coupla holds? Don't look now but Hideki Matsui has a 17-game hitting streak. Seriously, stop looking.

Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 3: Eight is great for Arizona. Brandon Webb notched his 8th win in his eight starts as the Diamondbacks scored 8 runs behind Chris Young's 8th home run and the New Pornographers (who have eight members) performed in Tucson last year. Brett Myers, who has totally lost velocity on his fastball since my sister stalked him in Clearwater, took the loss, giving up seven runs on nine hits and three walks in just five innings. 7-9-3-5? THAT WON THE NEW JERSEY PICK 4 TONIGHT

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (5)
night game.jpgHey kids. Check out your local purveyors of fine televised baseball and find out:

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

mariner.jpg

The Seattle Mariners have fallen on hard times. Picked by many to contend in the American League West this season (not me...I picked them last) they're currently living in the basement, one game behind the godawful Texas Rangers. There's no single problem that stands out with this team, they basically suck at everything. Here's how they rank in the American League: 14th in on base percentage, 10th in slugging, 9th in ERA, 10th in fewest walks allowed. They're barely scoring 4 runs per game and playing a pretty crappy defense.

Worst of all, though...they can't get people to show up for home games. The once popular M's are just 8th in AL attendance, mostly surprising based on how beautiful Safeco Field is. I mean, cmon! They've got a train! And Dave Niehaus! Dave Niehaus loves trains!

On Tuesday night, they barely got 15,000 people, the lowest total in Safeco history. Club president Chuck Armstrong is non-plussed, though, and spins it thusly:

"No matter who we're playing, it seems like there's so much other stuff going on in May -- kids' soccer games, youth baseball, school getting out," Armstrong said. "It's been my experience that we draw better in April than we do during May."

Oh my, you are certainly the corporate spinmeister, Chuck. Next quote:

"Sometimes these things happen. Detroit has the exact same record as we do. I expect at the end we both will have better records. I hope we end in first place in the American League West."

The Tigers are on their way up the standings; yes, they're in last, but they're 3.5 games behind the first place Twins. The Mariners are seven and a half games behind both the Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Angels. At least manager John McLaren's job is safe. I hope he doesn't get that dreaded vote of confidence from Armstrong! Uh oh.

Via the inimitable Meech at Bugs & Cranks, I bring you the most horrific gut-wrenching video you will watch all day:


Oh the shame! Don't look at his face! That's the Reds mascot "Mr. Redlegs" having his head removed after tumbling from an ATV driven by some other dumb Reds mascot. Where have I seen Mr. Redlegs before, anyway? Oh yeah.

padreseat.jpg

Our friends at Gaslamp Ball don't have much else to do now that the Padres have the worst record in baseball (also, Greg Maddux will be stuck on 349 wins forever), so they've been scouring Craigslist to find the best deals for San Diegans looking to redecorate their swank downtown condos. Here's what they found:

   "This is a Seat from Petco Ballpark!!! In Great Condition!!! Take a look at the pictures this is no joke. A must have for any TRUE fan!!! Lucky for you I'm a A's Fan... Priced at $22750.00 OBO shoot me a Email with a number maybe we can make it happen..."

Only $22750.00? Wow, what a steal! Especially since it was marked down from $25000.00! That must be a really swank stadium seat. I bet it's the Stickley of stadium seats. Is it gold-plated? Does it come with season passes to Petco Park where you can bring the seat in and plop it down in the on-bat circle right on the field? Does it have built-in massage features like the Spinemelter 2000? I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE I WESTERN UNION THAT MAN MY $22750!

A somewhat related question: when Yankee Stadium is demolished and the city of New York sells off all those seats, how much will those cost? Using this Petco Park seat as a yardstick, by my estimation, they'll be $1.5 billion per pair.

Here is the man who has hit three ding dongs so far in this afternoon's Cubs-Reds game. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joey Votto:

votto.jpg

Watch out, he's Canadian!

Also, Votto is already on this awesome Wikipedia page. Timely!

liveglog.jpg

After a brief dalliance with American League teams last week, I'm back to the senior circuit today as the Cubs visit the Reds in the rubber game of the three game series. Veteran Cub pitcher Jon Lieber squares off against rookie sensation Edinson Volquez this afternoon, and I'll be telling you everything I learn from my trusty XM radio. Both pitchers have sub-2.00 ERAs. This is Lieber's first start since replacing Rich Hill in the rotation while Volquez has yet to give up more than one earned run in his six starts.

You want lineups? You can have them over at Yahoo!. Walkoff Walk 'favorite' Corey Patterson is leading off today, so it looks like the CPW is not quite dead yet! Whee! He's had four plate appearances against Lieber, all in a May 2005 Cubs-Phillies game; he hit a tater tot and walked twice. Slumping Cub left fielder Alfonso Soriano has the day off as Reed Johnson will be leading off today.

Follow me after the jump!

pinkbeard.jpg

Well, at least it's for a good cause. As per Maury Brown's Biz of Baseball blog, Nick Swisher and his White Sox teammates are gonna dye their facial hair pink:

   "It was announced today that Chicago White Sox players Nick Swisher, John Danks and Toby Hall will dye their facial hair pink in honor of Mother's Day and support of Breast Cancer awareness (today). Swisher, Danks and Hall also will make a donation to the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation (Chicago) on behalf of all White Sox players."

I'm already pretty much well aware of this 'breast cancer' thing, but I salute Swisher, Danks, and Hall for going to such a humiliating degree to promote cancer research. Seriously, guys. Scott Speizio didn't look stupid enough for you?

Credit goes to Home Run Derby for predicting this would happen and makin' some great Photoshop-renderings after reading a not-so-secretive item in Nick Swisher's blog.

adameaton.jpg

The Phillies lost the second game of their four-game series with the Diamondbacks out at Chase Field last night and things couldn't possibly go worse for Adam Eaton in the fourth inning. Reproduced from the play-by-play, for your enjoyment:

  - J. Upton walked
  - M. Reynolds doubled to deep right center, J. Upton to third
  - M. Montero walked
  - A. Ojeda flied out to center
  - R. Johnson walked, J. Upton scored, M. Reynolds to third, M. Montero to second
  - C. Young grounded into fielder's choice, M. Reynolds scored, M. Montero to third, R. Johnson out at second
  - S. Drew homered to deep right, C. Young and M. Montero scored
  - E. Byrnes flied out to right

Yes, Adam Eaton loaded the bases, got light-hitting Augie Ojeda to fly out, and then walked pitcher Randy Johnson to force in a run. That's the baseball equivalent of getting gum in your hair. After allowing another run on a fielder's choice, he gave up the three-run tater tot to Stephen Drew. That's the baseball equivalent of trying to get the gum out with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, thus making matters worse. The Phillies went on to lose the game 6-4 despite shortstop Eric Bruntlett's homer, double and 3 RBI.

To add insult to injury for the Phillies, Randy Johnson collected his 286th career win in this game, tying him on the all-time list with Phillie great Robin Roberts.

I think Adam Eaton should move to Australia.

Here's what happened in baseball as we carried our ladders down the street:

White Sox 7, Twins 1: Gavin Floyd, who was once a Philiie, camethisclose to pitching a no-hitter, going 8 and 1/3 innings before giving up a double to Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer. Floyd, the former Phillie, took a no-hitter into the eighth against Detroit last month, so expect the guy who was traded from Philadelphia to finally get his no-hitter sometime in June. Jermaine Dye hit a tater tot to support his teammate Floyd, who, if you hadn't already figured out, was formerly employed by the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club.

Marlins 3, Brewers 0: Scott Olsen, who was never a Phillie, camethisclose to a complete game, going 8 and 2/3 innings before loading the bases in ninth, prompting Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez to summon closer Kevin Gregg for the save. Kevin Gregg delivered, inducing Bill Hall to fly out. Olsen allowed just a double to Ryan Braun and a single to Prince Fielder but got in trouble in the ninth by walking two Brewers. Mike Jacobs provided the offense with a two-run ding dong in the third off loser Jeff Suppan.

Indians 5, Yankees 3: I attended this game and it gave me the red ass. David Dellucci, of all people, hit the game winning three-run ding dong off no-longer-superhuman Joba Chamberlain with two outs in the eighth. This was four innings after Andy Pettitte's only mistake pitch of the night that Jhonny Peralta deposited 400 feet away over the centerfield wall. Jesu Cristo! Quel dommage! Chamberlain, who will never be a Phillie, walked two gentlemen prior to the tater tot, which caused much malaise in the Stadium. Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona pitched like shit but the Yankees could never really take advantage, leaving nine men on base. Thanks for nothing, Melky! In other news, if Chief Wahoo taunts me in the comments, I will ban him from two websites.

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

  • FoWoW Jonah Keri examines the failure dynasties, aka the teams that have excelled at shitting the bed for an extended period of time. If he re-writes this in 3 years, expect the Mariners to be on the list. ESPN Page 2.

  • Derrick Goold notes that Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright hit a career-high pitch count last week and researches what happens to other hurlers after throwing 126 pitches. I call this "Dustyizing" pitchers. Bird Land.

  • It's your last goddamned chance to vote for the Worst GM poll! Brian Sabean! Ed Wade! Which one stinks more? Bucs Dugout.

  • Our own Camp Tiger Claw has climbed up to second place in the Player Pick Pool, riding Curtis Granderson to 20 points last week. Hack comic Mike Schmidt has tumbled to fourth place but it's still not the biggest shame of his career. Touching Base.

  • Los Angeles Daily News beat writer Tony Jackson loses his shit about Juan Pierre being actually good. I don't blame him one bit. Inside the Dodgers.

  • 'Duk assembled some of the best talent in the baseballblogosphere to remark on Roger Clemens' hall of fame chances. That guy who talks about brussels sprouts is the best. Big League Stew.

  • The best Photoshop I've seen in the past 33 days. Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.
bushbat.jpg

Pat over at Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? links us to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile of Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth. In case you haven't been paying attention (and why would you? The Pirates stink) McLouth is having a pretty darn good start to his season, leading all major league center fielders in OPS and tater tots. Most importantly, he's being patient at the plate, a quality he's embodied since playing wiffle ball with his paw at the age of four:

   "Nate would take pitches," the elder McLouth said. "Honestly, if he didn't like what I threw, he wouldn't even budge." This might best explain why nobody, not Nate McLouth's family, not his high school coach, not any of his professional instructors, including those currently with the Pirates, can lay claim to that patient, sweet-swinging style that has made him one of the more compelling story lines early in this Major League Baseball season. As Pirates hitting coach Don Long put it, "That approach he has, that's not something you teach."

Sounds like you're not doing your goddamned job, Don! Shouldn't you be trying to teach the hitters to take some consarned pitches every now and then and LEARN how to wait for the best pitch to hit? You're the HITTING COACH, not the "sit back and let the players' natural abilities take over" coach. Did my calculus teacher in high school say "That ability to integrate functions he has, that's not something you teach"? No, he didn't.

Take, for example, Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell. He used to hack away at every pitch he saw, striking out a total of 162 times against just 70 walks in 2001. Fast forward to 2007 where he struck out 120 times while collecting a whopping 114 walks, while raising his OPS+ from 110 to 127. In 2001, he saw 4.03 pitches per plate appearance; in 2007, he saw 4.22. Somebody had to teach him to take some pitches.

Maybe the Pirates should just hire Nate McLouth's pop and give every player those big red bats for a day or two.

dusty2.jpg

Get ready to clap your hands and say "Yeah!" because this might be the final Corey Patterson Watch ever. Over the past week, Patterson started just two games and his Reds have tumbled to a record of 13 wins and 20 losses. Manager Dusty Baker finally shook up the lineup, putting Ryan Freel and his .357 on base percentage in center field and the leadoff spot.

Instead of boring you with each game breakdown, I will summarize Corey's week (which included two pinch hit appearances and one defensive replacement) as such:

5 games, 10 at-bats, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 RBI, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 1 stolen base

Patterson's on base percentage is a super low .263 and his slugging percentage has dropped to .433. After 100 plate appearances so far this season, his EQA is just .237. He's just not hitting line drives and he's just not drawing walks.

The Reds actually have a decent team despite sitting eight games back at fifth place in the NL Central. Still, they have just a 7% chance of making the playoffs so Baker would be wrong to continue to give regular playing time to Patterson. Bring up Jay Bruce!

tatertots.jpg

Eric Gagne must think saves grow on trees because he is blowing through them like a spoiled teenage girl blows through Daddy's credit limit. Only in this case, Doug Melvin is Daddy and Daddy is turning a blind eye to his little girl's wasteful ways. From Tom Haudricourt's blog:

"I just spoke with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin via telephone and he told me there are no plans to remove Eric Gagne as the club's closer despite the veteran right-handers off-and-on struggles this season."

Those aren't off-and-on struggles, Tom. I'd call those off-and-really-off struggles. What's eating Eric Gagne, anyway? I dialed up David Pinto's Day-by-Day Database to find Gagne's numbers from two distinct time periods: his stint as the Texas Rangers closer in 2007 before becoming a Boston Red Sock, and his stint as both a Red Sock in 2007 and the Brewers closer in 2008:

  Eric Gagne from March 30, 2007 until July 31, 2007
  Eric Gagne from August 1, 2007 until May 4, 2008

Both time periods cover 33 1/3 innings pitched, although the former was across 34 games while the latter was across 36 games. His role changed, too. In the former period, he was the closer on a terrible team. In the latter period, he was a setup man on a playoff team followed by the closer on a potential division contender.

Here's the most interesting stat: his strikeout rate per nine innings actually went up from 7.8 K/9 as a Ranger to 10.5 K/9 as a Red Sock and Brewer. However, his walk rate went up too, from 3.2 BB/9 (bad) to 5.1 BB/9 (really bad). The strikeouts are great but if he can't get his walk ratio under 3, he's a liability as a closer.

Let's examine an even smaller sample size than the 33 1/3 innings pitched as the Rangers closer: the 14 2/3 innings pitched as the Brewers closer. Over those 14 2/3 innings, Gagne has allowed 4 ding dongs which translates to 2.45 homers allowed per nine innings. That's atrocious. The right hander allowed just .52 tater tots per nine innings all last year.

What does this all mean? I have no idea, except statistically, there's something wrong with Eric Gagne and something wrong with the Brewers bullpen. Salomon Torres to the rescue!

Here's what happened in baseball while taking this sinking boat and pointing it home:

Blue Jays 1, White Sox 0: Toronto completed a four-game sweep of potty-mouthed Ozzie Guillen and his light-hitting White Sox thanks to an excellent start by Dustin McGowan. If you're counting, and I know you are, that's nine straight quality starts by the Blue Jays rotation; they held Chicago to but 5 runs over the four-game series. Matt Stairs provided the only offense of the night with a seventh inning ding dong while B.J. Ryan survived some trouble to earn his fifth sa...wait a minute. "Some trouble"? Kid WALKED THE BASES LOADED. Who does he think he is, Eric Gagne?

Reds 5, Cubs 3: Ryan Dempster had a shitty first inning (three runs allowed) and it just didn't get better for him or the rest of his Cubs teammates. Heck, even Ken Griffey robbed Alfonso Soriano of an extra base hit with a diving catch, and he lost his best friend to cancer earlier in the day! Dempster wasn't actually charged with any earned runs thanks to errors by Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa that led to all five of the Reds runs. The Cubs made the game interesting in the ninth against Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who loaded the bases with one out but tagged Fontenot out trying to score on a wild pitch and induced Derrek Lee into grounding out to first. Suckers!

Angels 4, Royals 0: Brett Tomko and Ervin "Magic" Santana dueled all night long but in the end, it was the Kansas City bullpen that made all the difference. Santana pitched a complete game shutout and struck out nine Royals, while Tomko's seven shutout innings went to shit after a four-run Angel ninth capped by rookie third baseman Brandon Wood's tater tot. Santana is 6-0 now, and didn't allow more than one baserunner in any inning. But remember...it was only the Royals.

dodgersbaby.jpg

Ever wish that someone could come up with a baseball version of Baby Einstein, those annoyingly cloying DVD's that supposedly help boost babies' brain power but actually hinder their language skills? Yeah, me neither. Still, that didn't stop a company named Team Baby Entertainment from putting out DVD's like Dodgers Baby, for those ridiculous Dodgers fans who want to brainwash their offspring into rooting for some mediocre team:

   "You love your kids, you love your family, and you love your Los Angles Dodgers™! Now you can combine them all with this exciting new Team Baby Entertainment DVD. Dodgers™ BABY combines all the great things you love about the team, with all the things you want your young fans to learn -- numbers, letters, shapes, colors and more. Narrated by Alyssa Milano, and featuring original Team Baby Entertainment music, DODGERS™ BABY is the ideal way to raise tomorrow's fans today!"

Holy shit, it's narrated by Alyssa Milano, who has dated Barry Zito, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, and once did this? Does she give out tips for dressing slutty to improve one's chances to hook up with a professional athlete? Who in their right mind would want to teach their daughters such things? Oh...right.

sixth.jpg

If the season ended today, the Oakland A's would be the Wild Card representative for the American League, and if the season ended today, hundreds of thousands of season ticket holders across baseball would be pretty pissed off. So those A's have succeeded because of three things: starting pitching, Jack Cust overcoming polio, and more starting pitching. In fact, once ace Rich Harden returns from injury, manager Bob Geren may institute the six-man rotation.

Here's the current rotation in Oakland:

  Joe Blanton, 3.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
  Dana Eveland, 3.67, 1.28
  Chad Gaudin, 3.75, 1.19
  Greg Smith, 2.54, 1.03
  Justin Duchscherer, 2.40, 1.27

Add in Harden and you've got six guys with sub-4.00 ERA's. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is Greg Smith, who, before the season started, was expected to be a mediocre spot starter when someone (read: Rich Harden) got hurt. Smith came to Oakland from Arizona in the Danny Haren trade; five of his six starts have been quality starts and he's struck out 31 batters over 39 innings. It would be hard to bump him from the rotation, as it would be hard to bump any of the four others.

Thing is, the six-man rotation is a red herring. Teams have been talking about using it for years and yet it's never really happened. Why? Rany Jazayerli, in his 2002 article decrying the five-man rotation, used this quote from the great Earl Weaver:

"It is easier to find four starting pitchers than five."

Just like it's easier to find five starting pitchers than six. Starting pitchers are a finicky type. They get hurt, they break down, they lose focus. It's easy to move Justin Duchscherer to the bullpen when Rich Harden comes back. That's what baseball folks call a 'spot starter'. If anything happens in Oakland, it will be closer to a five-man rotation where Smith, Gaudin, and Eveland share the 4 and 5 positions in the rotation, thus keeping their young arms healthy.

Hey check out the awesome celebrity paparazzi photosnapshot I stole from this celebretard website via the fine Marlins blog Fishstripes:

aniston.jpg

Yes, it's Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson filming some movie (presumably about a dog who plays baseball called Air Bud Selig...zing!) at Dolphin Stadium née Pro Player Park née Joe Robbie Stadium (that's where the Marlins play). Color me unsurprised that the backdrop of this movie shows the Reds losing. OMIGOD I AM ON FIRE TODAY JUST LIKE MICHAEL MUSTO!

Update: Thanks to the super-awesome Meech from Bugs & Cranks, there is video evidence.

Here's what happened in baseball while giving you my Vincent to ride:

Astros 8, Brewers 6 (12): Hunter Pence hit the walkoff tater tot in extra innings and while he was circling the bases, his teammates brought out an enormous piece of plate glass for Pence to run through as he crossed home plate. What a celebration! Also, Eric Gagne blew his fifth save of the year by giving up a bases loaded game-tying walk to Lance Berkman, thus denying Ben Sheets a win. Relievin's hard, y'all!

Twins 7, Tigers 6: Jim Leyland, that asshole, promises massive sweeping Obama-like changes to the Tigers lineup tonight after suffering an inconsistent offense. Fine, tinker with the lineup all you want but your bullpen just blew a 6-0 lead to the Twins, capped by a two-run single by superstar catcher Joe Mauer. The real loser of the game was Tiger infielder extraordinaire Carlos Guillen who, with the Tigers up 6-3, let a two-out groundball roll between his sticky wickets. The Twins went on to score four more runs, sweep the series, and go out for malteds to celebrate.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 2: It is my duty to alert you to all occurrences of massively egregious game-losing errors along with (most) occurrences of massively fantastic game-winning tater tots. In this case, the error may have been egregious but I am not so ready to lay all the blame on first baseman Conor Jackson, whose throwing error led to three Mets runs in the ninth inning. See, Conor fielded a ground ball with two on and no outs, and threw it towards the general direction of second base...but it sailed over everyone's heads into left field. Oopsie! Neither starter in this acclaimed matchup figured in the decision.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: All in favor of the A's wearing their 1968 retro jerseys permanently for the remainder of the season, say "aye". The ayes totally have it! I'm feeling so Uni Watch right now, I think I might have squealed. Anyway, Jack Cust continues his reinvigoration by hitting the game winning ding dong. A's starter Greg Smith was super effective over his six innings but did not get the win. I am going to make an effort to mention Greg Smith every time he pitches because I want you to know him.

chipcaray.jpg

I don't need to tell you what happened in baseball yesterday. If you haven't already seen the highlights or read the recaps, shame on you!

However, there's a special game today that we'll all be lucky enough to see unless we spent our cable money on beer and loose women. Yes, the Mets and the Diamondbacks are on TBS today at 4PM EDT. Two of the most important pitchers who changed teams in the offseason will face off...no, not Kyle Lohse and Jeff Weaver. I'm talking Johan Santana and his wicked changeup versus Dan Haren and his propensity to give up ding dongs.

Please enjoy the dulcet tones of dullard Chip Caray and we'll meet back here tomorrow morning to discuss the action.

Here's a snapshot from Citizens Bank Park last night. It's the aftermath of Pedro Feliz' home run in the fourth inning. I'd have shared a photo of Pat Burrell's walkoff tater tot if I hadn't already left the game to attend a beer-and-cake party. Whoops!

felizhomer.jpg

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, WoWies.

Cust Like a Knife

| | Comments (21)
elephant.jpg

Jack Cust doesn't really have polio but the way sportswriters treat his fielding ability, you'd think his muscles atrophied every time he played left field instead of designated hitting. True, he committed a error in last night's A's-Angels game that was so ridiculously bad, Tom Emanski himself turned over in his grave. But just because he let an easy two-out fly ball pop in and out of his glove, doesn't mean he should be responsible for the five runs scored after the gaffe.

Hey, starting pitcher Justin Duchscherer, your left fielder just let you down with a silly error. I know you were all ready to head to the dugout for some sunflower seeds but you're still one out shy. How about instead of allowing four singles and a tater tot you hunker down and strike someone out? Maybe get Erick Aybar and his .323 career slugging percentage to pop out instead of hitting a three-run ding dong? I don't know, am I asking too much?

I suppose I am because after Cust made his oopsie, the A's lost their 4-0 lead and trailed 5-4. So Jack Cust did what he does best. No, not eat a handful of steroids. Jack hit a solo ding dong to lead off the top of the fifth which catalyzed the A's to score seven more runs. All-in-all, Cust went 4-for-4 with two walks, three runs and an RBI before being pulled for a pinch runner (and, I presume, a better fielder) in the eighth.

The A's and their fans can laugh about the Cust error now, having put 20 hits on the board (woo $4 seats!) and winning the game 15-8. Still, not everyone is satisfied.

Hey commenters, who's your least favorite player on your favorite team, and why?

Here's what happened in baseball while bleeding a trail through the lens:

Nationals 3, Pirates 2: Look out, second-worst team in the National League, because Washington is on a roll! No, not a delicious chewy Portuguese roll, but rather a four-game win streak spiked with clutch hitting and wrapped in effective pitching. So why is Nick Johnson squirming? No matter, the Nats topped the Pirates thanks to Austin Kearns' RBI single off reliever John Grabow in the eighth inning. Luis Ayala was in the right place at the right time and picked up a neat little win even though Odalis Perez put his heart and soul on the line to throw those seven innings of three-hit, two-run ball, man!

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0: For the third night in a row, the Red Sox failed to score before the eighth inning. Tonight, however, they failed to score during and/or after the eighth inning as well, so they lost. Toronto starter A.J. Burnett scattered ten baserunners in such a fashion where he didn't allow a single one to cross home plate whilst closer B.J. Ryan survived a wacky balk that was called after seemingly recording the final out of the game and picked up a save. Heck, he just matched his 2007 save number. Yes, that's three saves. Tim Wakefield kept the Sox in the game but a seventh inning ding dong by Alex Rios basically sealed the deal.

Phillies 3, Padres 2: Ryan Howard found his power bat tonight and used it to rip a tater tot to the right field seats (THOSE ARE SUPER CLOSE TO THE CRAB FRIES STAND) off reliever Joe Thatcher, breaking a 2-2 tie and sending the Phils to the locker room with a real live win. Those are the best kinds of wins! Howard also hit a RBI double off former Phillie Randy Wolf. Brad Lidge collected his seventh win in seven chances and has yet to be scored upon this season. (KNOCK ON WOOD PHILLIES FANS) In other Phillies news, I'm going to the game tonight against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park! Whee! Walkoff Walk road trip!

Indians 3, Mariners 2 (11): Emo Seattle beat writer Geoff Baker can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Richie Sexson hit a tenth inning home run and Baker can fend off his rabid anti-Sexson commenters for one day longer. Too bad J.J. Putz blew the consarn save. Indians second basegentleman Asdrubal Cabrera hit the walkoff single in the eleventh off Sean Green after Mark Lowe loaded the bases. In case you haven't been keeping track, that's 652 blown saves for the Mariners bullpen so far this year.

voter.jpg

April has come and gone which means the corporate entity known as Major League Baseball has opened the door on fan voting for the All Star Game. Online voting began earlier this week. Ushers are giving out ballots at stadiums all across the country. Heck, if you were at Camden Yards two weeks ago Boog Powell hisself would have given you a handful of ballots to wipe off your hands after eating his greasy sandwiches.

In that awful pseudo-press release on MLB.com, 'writer' Mark Newman describes the 'pressure' involved with fan voting as such:

    "If you stockpile the AL team with Manny Ramirez and those reigning world champs from up in Boston, then Yankee Universe is going to post unfriendly blogs about you. If you load it up with A-Rod and other Yankees, then welcome to the pinstripe people party. This is a decision that affects the future, because the NL has not won since 1996, and once again the league that wins the All-Star Game will have home-field advantage in the World Series this October."

Yes, folks. Vote wisely or else there will be a ton of vitriol on the Internet from Yankees fans. Oh wait, there already is a ton of vitriol on the Internet from Yankees fans.

Please, fans, listen to me: don't vote for your favorite All Stars right now! It's too soon! Teams have played only 16% of the season so far; it's absolutely ridiculous to vote and reward a player with just 100 plate appearances. They'll let you vote on MLB.com as late as July 2nd...that's over two months from today. Let the stars who are slumping (aka David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, and Ryan Howard) have their chance to make up some ground. And let the scrubs who are playing way over their heads (aka Nate McLouth, Fred Lewis, and Jeff Keppinger) have a chance to tumble back down to Earth.

Besides, Camp Tiger Claw and I haven't told you who to vote for just yet. We here at Walkoff Walk endorse the following players:

    Barry Bonds as a write-in vote for the NL outfield
    Frank Thomas as the sole representative for the Blue Jays
    Bengie Molina for having a smart blog

But seriously, wait until June 15th. Who else should we be voting for when the time comes?

April In Review

| | Comments (15)

trophy.jpgRemember Opening Day? That was a month ago already! Just like you, the season isn't as young as it once was. Also, your rent is due. With the turning of each calendar page, Rob and I will be discussing our picks for:


  • AL Pitcher Of The Month
  • NL Pitcher Of The Month
  • AL Position Player Of The Month
  • NL Position Player Of The Month
  • Biggest Surprise Of The Month

It's like the Oscar's but with more swearing, less dancing and the exact same amount of pills. Sometimes we can be a little harsh on the dudes that play our favorite game, but my lips are still chapped from all asskissing you're going to see after the jump. Let's get to it.

Note: This discussion took place last night before Cliff Lee gave up a home run in his start against the Mariners and before Josh Hamilton hit a 4-Run King Dong.

cliff.jpg

Indians pitcher Cliff Lee is slumping. Poor guy is stuck in a rut out of which he cannot escape. Sure, he won his fifth straight start in the month of April and is possibly the best left handed pitcher in the American League and still has a 0.96 ERA and a 16:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and gives up hits at the rate of one every other inning and might already be dating Megan Fox but DAMMIT HE GAVE UP A HOME RUN TO WLADIMIR BALENTIEN.

Yes, Cliff Lee's 27-inning scoreless streak ended last night in the seventh inning of an 8-3 Cleveland win over the hated Seattle Mariners. After giving up consecutive singles to Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson, Lee gave up a big fat ding dong to Balentien who was making his 2008 debut. Kid's played four games in his entire career! Lee's ERA increased three-fold after the three-run hit and manager Eric Wedge was quick to pull his starter. Actually, because he didn't record an out in the seventh inning, Cliff Lee's ERA is INFINITE over the last three batters he has faced. You can't get any higher than INFINITY!

Perhaps Rany Jazayerli was right all along. It's all a conspiracy, man!

Here's what happened in baseball while my head was on the bar:

Rangers 11, Royals 9: It was a battle of the aces! Brian Bannister! Kevin Millwood! Excuse my sarcasm! Bannister's high BABIP finally bit him in the tush as he spotted Texas a 7-0 lead after just two innings. Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, and somebody named Brandon Boggs all had ding-dongs off Bannister; Hamilton's homer came with the bases loaded which, around here, we call Una Slamma Granda. Not really. Millwood collected the win despite giving up five runs of his own and nearly blowing a 9-1 lead. Whoops! Hamilton leads the AL with 32 runs batted in.

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: Team Red won the color wars for the second day in the row and for the second day in a row, the color wars were scoreless by the seventh inning stretch. Let us take a moment to salute both the starting pitchers (Matsuzaka and McGowan) but also the fine fine defensive units in Toronto and Boston. No errors were made in the contest and Vernon Wells even threw out a runner at home. HOWEVER the second time he attempted to throw out a runner at home he was a split second late and Manny Ramirez scored the winning run on a walkoff single by Jason Varitek and everyone went out for chocolate milkshakes to celebrate a hard fought game except Blue Jays manager John Gibbons because he is a total blowhard.

Nationals 3, Braves 2 (12): The Braves scored one delightful run in the top of the twelfth and were probably quite proud of themselves for going ahead 2-1 being just three outs away from actually winning a one-run game for the first time since the days when Otis Nixon did lines off the dugout bench. Lines of sunflower seeds, of course. Anywho, Atlanta relievers Manny Acosta and Buddy Carlyle hate nostalgia so they completely screwed up the bottom of the inning. Acosta gave up a walk and a single and then let Wil Nieves' ridiculous bunt attempt go through his wickets, loading the bases. Ronnie Belliard walked in the tying run, bringing Bobby Cox out of the dugout to make the pitching change. Carlyle must have had a dinner date at Central Michel Richard so he gave up the winning hit to Felipe Lopez, and ran immediately into a waiting limo.

Giants 3, Rockies 2: Aaron Rowand and Jose Castillo provided the offense with their ding-dongs, Fred Lewis provided the defense with his fantastic diving catch, and manager Bruce Bochy provided the Mille-feuilles and Sauternes for the post-game le dessert as the Giants won their 13th game out of 29 April contests. Hey, they're in third place! Closer Brian Wilson notched his ninth save and became the first Giants pitcher to have that many April saves since Robb Nen did it in 1999. Look how happy he is! Aww, good for you, Brian. Lewis' great catch was off a sinking line drive by Willy Tavares in the 8th; he ended the inning and prevented Scott Podsednik from scoring.