Rob Iracane: June 2008 Archives

Erudite Philadelphia blogger Dan McQuade sends us photographs of those horrid MLB-embossed Lady Liberty statues that are terrorizing New York City. I've been disturbed by photographs on the Internet many, many times but nothing has burned my retina quite like this Minnesota Twins-themed Statue of Liberty:


Christ, what are those two guys doing down there? Shaking hands directly over Lady Liberty's bush? That's perverted.

Photographs by Vernon Balanza. (link updated...whoops!)

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Boston Red Sox pitcher David Aardsma was excited to come home to the Houston area to pitch in the weekend interleague series between the Sox and the Astros. Aardsma grew up in the area and even was the closer on the 2003 College World Series champion Rice University team.

To top it all off, his pop Dave was set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night. Dave's an executive with Waste Management (the actual waste company, not the mob) who have sponsored the Astros Play Green initiative this season.

Of course, David Aardsma decides he'd like to catch the ceremonial first pitch thrown out by his dad, and who can blame him? Turns out the Astros put the kibosh on it because they didn't want an opposing player on the field for pre-game ceremonies. A compromise was made and Aardsma stood next to his dad as he threw out the first pitch. He pitched one inning in relief during the game and allowed two runs, probably because he was still so devastated that he couldn't play catch with Daddy.

In other Red Sox news, Manny Ramirez shoved the traveling secretary and the team's Latin and black players got some mailed threats. Just another day in Red Sox Nation, y'all!

The White Sox toppled the Cubs last night 5-1 to complete a three-game weekend sweep but the real action happened Saturday. Here's Cubs reliever Kerry Wood expressing his emotions in the best way he knows how, thanks to the inimitable Hugging Harold Reynolds blog:


Kerry was obviously disappointed that U.S. Cellular Field's concession stands ran out of garden burgers and registered his complaints thusly. Smart.

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Here's what happened in baseball while I heard you proclaim "I hate Winnipeg"

Marlins 4, Diamondbacks 3: Walkoff! Wow! Sassy senior Jorge Cantu provided the game-winning RBI single after teammate Hanley Ramirez's tater tot tied the game at 3 in the ninth inning. Former Red Sock Brandon Lyon blew his first save since April 6th by allowing two runs while recording but one out. Poor Danny Haren had a Quality Start and it all went to shit. Arizona has amassed a 13-25 record since their last trip to Miami started back in May and now lead the NL West with a wildly mediocre 41-41 record.

Blue Jays 1, Braves 0: A.J. Burnett was the talented Toronto starter of the day, throwing seven shutout innings and tallying eleven strikeouts over a depleted Atlanta lineup. Chipper Jones missed another game and could end up in the next installment of What's Up Creampuff. Jo-Jo Reyes was the hard luck loser, giving up just one run on an Alex Rios RBI dubble in the sixth. Sucks, dude.

Angels 1, Dodgers 0: I don't get it. The Dodgers got no-hit on Saturday and won, then got three hits on Sunday and lost. Hey Joe Torre, STOP LETTING YOUR PLAYERS BE SUCCESSFUL. John Lackey was made of magic as he allowed just five baserunners over 8 2/3 innings, and then took a seat to let Frankie Rodriguez pick up his league-leading 32nd save. Shit, he's gonna break the all-time single season record at this rate! Hey, Mike Scioscia, how's that six-run per game potential you crowed about?

The Sunday Morning Post

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televangelist2.jpg SOME OF LAST NIGHT:

Dodgers 1, Angels 0: Jered Weaver may be the unluckiest boy in California as he's given the heave-ho in favor of a pinch hitter after six no-hit innings against the Dodgers. Weaver and reliever Jose Arrendondo combined for an eight-inning no-hitter. Had Weaver stayed in the game for the eight innings and allowed no hits, he still wouldn't have been invited to the year-end No-Hitter Luncheon; it ain't official unless it goes nine. Stupid Angels offense ruining history.

Diamondbacks 6, Marlins 2: Brandon Webb finally got back on the party train, winning his 12th game of the season and his first since June 6th. Fella struck out eight Marlins and punished one water bottle after being removed in the seventh inning by hurling it into a trash can. Now that's some John McCain-style passion that they like down in Arizoner! Rarrrghh!

SOME OF TODAY:

Yankees at Mets: It's your TBS game of the day and it's on at 1PM.

Cubs at White Sox: It's your ESPN game of the night and it's on at 8PM.

Please to enjoy.

Weekend Questions

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It's Will Leitch's last day at Deadspin, the wildly popular sports blog. I owe a lot to the man who, a couple years ago, hired me as Deadspin's commenting intern because he couldn't keep up with the onslaught of pending commenters. Most of all, I owe Will gratitude because he inspired me to start Walkoff Walk with my pal Camp Tiger Claw.

When I first started blogging eight years ago, I had a simple personal website that entertained family and friends. Inspired by the online writing of Rob Neyer, I actually considered starting a baseball blog back then called "Diamond Log" but the idea never left the dark hollows of my brain.

Fast forward to 2008 and, thanks to the support and inspiration of Will and many other sports bloggers, Walkoff Walk is up and running. We've got passionately smart and funny readers and commenters, and I think some of the best baseball blogging around.

So enjoy your slow walk into the sunset, Mr. Leitch, and tune into your local purveyors of televised baseball to find out:

  • WILL A.J. Daulerio give us the same good treatment that Will Leitch did?

  • CAN the Cardinals topple the seemingly unbeatable Royals in the battle for the hearts of minds of Missourians?

  • DOES Robert Weintraub stand a snowball's chance in hell of continuing his series of old-timey baseb....zzzzzzzzz

  • SHOULD I just vote for Ryan Ludwick anyway?

See you tomorrow, folks.

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With the All Star Game just around the corner and online voting ending July 1st, we here at Walkoff Walk figured it was time to tell you folks how to vote. First up, we'll discuss our choices for the National League All Stars. Here's our last minute guide, presented in not-at-all-convenient chat form:


CTC: Hi Rob Iracane
Rob: good afternoon Camp Tiger Claw
CTC: How was your lunch?
Rob: /suspends disbelief
it was delicious.
CTC: Good
NL Catcher
Rob: I vote for Brian McCann
he's good
and productive.
CTC: This may be the deepest position in either league
That Molina in San Francisco is playing well.
Rob: he's a favorite of ours
CTC: Geo Soto was hot as shit early in the season.
Rob: do you vote for him?
CTC: Oh no. Sorry I got distracted.
Rob: by his gentemanly good looks?
CTC: I vote for McCann
Rob: NL first baseman
CTC: Lance Berkman
Rob: i like Fat Elvis too
CTC: Don't say Pujols or I'll quit the blog.
Rob: he's got star power!
ha
CTC: Ok good.
Rob: he's earned it
CTC: I'm really interested in this idea of yours about who has ea...zzzzzzzzzzz
Rob: wake up gramma! its time to vote for NL Second Baseman
aka Chase Utley
CTC: Yeah
No brainer.
Who doesn't like Chase Utley?>
Rob: he's the best player in the league three years running
im not sure, but if i find him, i'll punch him in the nose
CTC: 3B
This is a tough one.
Rob: you probably know my vote already
CTC: Wait. Let me look.
Kevin Kouzmanoff?
Rob: close! Chipper Jones
CTC: Yeah, I go with Chipper too, but he JUUUST edges out Ryan Braun.
Rob: Ryan Braun will make a lovely backup
NL Shortstop?
CTC: Hanley\
Without the backslash
That's not an html command or anything.
Rob: Hanley Ramirez should be a bigger star
even if he fields worse than Jeter
CTC: I don't think he cares.
Rob: good on him then
CTC: I think he likes South Florida.
Rob: who wouldn't?
CTC: I think he likes being in an organization with other young guys.
Rob: who wouldn't?
CTC: I didn't like being in South Florida
Coconut Creek High represent!
Rob: but you were not rich and sexy
we have assembled a good infield, built on agreements
NL Left fielder of choice.
I like Pat Burrell this year
CTC: I was going to answer this with:
Burrell?
But you preemptively affirmed my doubts.
Rob: gotta love those contract year studs
CTC: Carlos Lee has 17 Ding Dongs again
Rob: too bad he's wallowing in Cecil Cooper's mire
CTC: He should choke somebody and get out of there.
Rob: i dont even know he'll make the roster in a deep NL outfield
ha
centerfield
CTC: Wait.
Oh you mean on the All-Star team
Rob: yeah
CTC: Yeah i don't think he will either.
Rob: who you like in center?
CTC: Nate McLouth
I love rookie All-Stars
Rob: i must disagree and vote for Carlos Beltran
CTC: Because you're a dummy.
Rob: because i am a Mets apologist
he's got speed, defense, and a bat
McLouth is but a flash in the pan
CTC: Every single one of McLouth's offensive numbers is better.
THIS IS NOT A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Rob: except career!
ha
CTC: My lord.
RF
Rob: you're gonna hate me
Brian Giles
the position is just so shallow in the NL
CTC: It is... but... Giles?
Rob: okay you talked me out of it
CTC: Can Carlos Lee play RF for a night?
Rob: KOSUKE FUKUDOME!
CTC: FUKUDOME!
There's absolutely no way he doesn't get in.
Japanese people have computers on their toilets. They're constantly voting.
Rob: what about Ryan Ludwick?
CTC: I thought he was a LF.
Rob: i guess he plays all over
my bad
CTC: No Rob... our bad.
He's gotta be on this team somwhere.
Even though I hate Cardinals.
I'm gonna stick him in RF over FUKUDOME!
Rob: thats your decision i guess!
after all, we can vote for any three outfielders we want, regardless of position
WRITE IN BARRY BONDS

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With the All Star Game just around the corner and online voting ending July 1st, we here at Walkoff Walk figured it was time to tell you folks how to vote. First up, we'll discuss our choices for the American League All Stars. Here's our last minute guide, presented in not-at-all-convenient chat form:


Rob: hello Camp Tiger Claw
CTC: Hi.
Rob: let us pick some names out and advise our readers who they should vote for in this All Star Game thing
last minute!
CTC: ok
You think any of our readers are gonna go to a game this weekend?
Rob: no but that's why Baby Jesus invented the Internet
you can vote up to 25 times
CTC: Really?
On the internet
Rob: ferreals
CTC: I'm looking at my internet right now.
I don't see anything about the all-star.
Rob: head over to www.mlb.com after we're done
first up:
AL catcher
I say Joe Mauer
CTC: I also say Joe Mauer
Rob: good
CTC: and let me say something else
It pisses me off when I get emails from the Red Sox that say "GO VOTE FOR JASON VARITEK! HE'S SECOND IN THE VOTING!"
No, jerks.
He doesn't deserve it.
Rob: thats a shame
CTC: How could that be good for the team to have undeserving players in the All-Star game.
Rob: next up
AL first baseman
i say Jason Giambi
total homer pick
CTC: I think you can say Giambi or I think you can say...
Kevin Youkilis
total homer pick
Rob: also worthy
first basemen kinda suck in the AL
CTC: Justin Morneau has 62 RBI.
Rob: i hate him though, so he's disqualified
next up
AL 2nd baseman
CTC: Wait wait.
Oh nevermind.
I'm gonna say Ian Kinsler
Rob: i'm going with Brian Roberts
because he can actually play the position
CTC: Hmm.
Rob: both are very productive at hte plate, but only Roberts can field
kinsler is an outfielder in 2nd baseman's clothing
CTC: And Roberts has that cool music video about him.
Ok, Third Base
Rob: Alex Rodriguez is King AwesomePants
CTC: True but I'm going with Adrian Beltre.
Rob: you're a funny guy
CTC: Just kidding, It's A-Rodz.
Rob: haha
how about AL shortstop? talk about an extremely shallow talent pool to pick from
but I vote for Derek Jeter every year so who cares?
CTC: Yeah
'weak weak sauce
Rob: Jeter is still the best AND the dreamiest
CTC: How come you're not picking someone who can play the position?
Rob: ZING
okay left field in the AL
i always vote for Manny Ramirez
CTC: Yup.
Rob: he's the Clown Prince of Offense
CTC: Damon has great numbers this year.
Rob: indeed
CTC: But he's a dope.
Rob: and his foot has an ouchie.
CTC: Our buddy Jose Guillen has played pretty well out in KC.
But he's a dope.
Rob: who do you like in AL centerfield?
CTC: My two time player of the month.
Josh Hamilton
Who also has an ouchie.
But i'd still vote for him.
Rob: my vote now goes to Grady Sizemore
because he's been better for longer
CTC: Huh?
Rob: i dont know that Josh Hamilton has earned it yet
CTC: That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard you say.
Rob: thanks
CTC: WHEN WILL JOSH HAMILTON BE A TRUE RANGER?
Rob: when he punches out his GM
CTC: Ha.
RF
Rob: i like that Magglio Ordonez
CTC: I'd love to say J.D Drew...
Rob: he's quietly become the best outfielder over the past few years in the AL
CTC: But it's Milton Bradley
Rob: that lunatic
CTC: He's sluggin .621
And he cried.
Rob: hasnt earned it yet
CTC: Stop saying that.
Rob: Ordonez is a star!
CTC: It's the All-Star game not a Playstation from your parents.
Rob: i'd rather vote for guys who are true stars
CTC: I wanna get the hottest players in there.
Rob: players shouldn't be rewarded for merely three months of heat
CTC: Incorrect.
Rob: gimme the Tilde!
CTC: You just want Jerkwheat to like you.
We'll be back later with the NL?
Rob: as soon as we vote for the DH
CTC: Oh yeah.
Rob: aka David Ortiz
hurt or not hurt
CTC: Not this year man.
No.
Stop doing that.
Rob: wow!
who you got? Hideki Matsui? I wouldnt argue with that
he's a star!
CTC: I do.
Rob: this is a strange universe we live in, indeed
CTC: He possesses that rarest of qualities in a DH.
He doesn't swing like an idiot.
Rob: you're hurting Jose Vidro's feelings
CTC: You know I love Ortiz, but he still hasn't found his groove this year.
I was going to say Jose Vidro as a joke.
Rob: zing!
CTC: But I did that earlier with Adrian Beltre.
Mariner's Fever!
Catch it!
Rob: yeah so we'll be back later with the NL
those lesser creatures
CTC: The ones that live in the middle of the country somewhere.
Rob: /fin

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Hey, remember 1992? Johnny Carson signed off, "November Rain" topped the charts, and Cito Gaston's Blue Jays toppled Bobby Cox' Braves in the World Series. Hope you like nostalgia because Gaston and Cox are going to be staring across the diamond at one another again. For three days. This weekend. In a mostly meaningless interleague series. Because they're both sub-.500 teams.

But before he managed the Braves, Bobby Cox was the manager of Toronto and once hired Cito Gaston as a hitting coach. So this series has special special meaning. Perhaps Cox will punch out Gaston's wife for old times' sake. Or perhaps Gaston will bring in Dave Winfield to pinch hit against Charlie Liebrandt. I don't know how these things work.

Here are your pitching matchups:

   Friday: Jair Jurrjens (R) vs Dustin McGowan (R)
   Saturday: Tim Hudson (R) vs John Parrish (L)
   Sunday: Jo-Jo Reyes (L) vs A.J. Burnett (R)

The games will be held in Toronto, so Cox can feel free to use ailing superstar Chipper Jones in the DH role. The Braves are dealing with other injuries, though, including losing backup shortstop Omar Infante in Wednesday's liveglog. That leaves them shorthanded at third base, shortstop, center field, left field, and cultural sensitivity.

Since re-hiring Gaston, the Blue Jays are 3-3 but have scored 6.2 runs per game. Recently called-up left fielder Adam Lind has provided the spark at the bottom of the lineup, hitting .357 with two tater tots and four RBI in the past week. J.P. Ricciardi probably thinks he likes baseball very much and that he plays with passion.

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Here's what happened in baseball while I told you that we were just good friends

Blue Jays 7, Reds 1: Super-scintillating sensation Edinson Volquez finally got his comeuppance at the hands of the Newly! Improved! Blue Jays. Volquez was tagged for seven runs on six hits and three walks over four and a third innings; his own throwing error to recently-activated-from-the-DL shortstop Jerry Hairston led to two unearned runs. Still, even with an emo Scott Rolen tater tot allowed, Volquez' ERA is a tidy 2.08. Not bad, Ed.

Twins 4, Padres 3: Minnesota overcame its second 3-0 deficit in two days to complete the sweep of lowly San Diego. The Twinkies are hot hot hot, having won nine straight (sorry Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Padres) and remain just a half game behind division-leading Chicargo. Justin Morneau had the big bat as evident by his two-run ding dong that got the Twins on the board in the fourth and his RBI single added as an afterthought in the fifth. A GAME-TYING AFTERTHOUGHT. Morneau is best-remembered for (WILDLY UNDESERVEDLY) winning the 2006 AL MVP.

Yankees 3, Pirates 1 (PPD, rain): Who are the ad wizards who never let the Yankees play afternoon games on getaway days? Eff you, Pittsburgh. That Primanti sandwich tastes like cow asshole.

Astros 7, Rangers 2: Houston choked out Texas. ZING! CHACON JOKE

The Hold Steady: Choking on their own fame and dead on arrival. Fuck. -CTC

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

  • The good folks at Hugging Harold Reynolds asked me to participate in their Iron Ref competition. So I did. Go vote for me. Hugging Harold Reynolds.

  • Phony Gwynn is none-too-happy with his San Diego Padres' offense, so he creates a list of suggestions how Bud Black can improve it. He forgot: "Use more steroids." And Here Come the Pretzels.

  • Rob suggests that the Cubs abandon their new 'tradition' of having hack celebrities sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and instead have Cub great Ron Santo do it every game. Rob is both smart and has a great name. Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.

  • The Brewers are thinking about changing up their approach to grooming starters on their single A team, having relievers start the game and the starters come in for the fourth. Up is down and black is white, but can you imagine a game started by Eric Gagne? Do not want. MLB.com.

  • Hanley Ramirez is a man of many hats. His latest job has him watering the infield at Dolphins Stadium. I wonder if the groundskeepers do the YMCA there. Sun-Sentinel Blogs.

  • Turn your browser into a bizarro-world TV set. Boing Boing.
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It's a hot time for the beat writers and bloggers at the Houston Chronicle, as the wildest story in all of baseball just happened to the Astros organization. Yes, pitcher Shawn Chacon attacked general managed Ed Wade and got kicked off the team. Blogger Jose de Jesus Ortiz nails the big get: an interview with Houston Astros CEO Drayton McLane.

McLane's first point is valid. You cannot have anarchy on a professional baseball team. These things are businesses and should be run as such. Physical violence should never be the means necessary to get one's point across. Sure, Chacon was upset about his inevitable demotion to the bullpen and wanted to show up management, but perhaps his move should have been a Gandhi-like nonviolent protest instead of a full-out choking.

Still, I think McLane is giving way too much credit to Ed Wade:

"If you shoved a policeman down or any other public servant, can you imagine shoving a principal in a school? It was in full view of several players. Players pulled Chacon and restrained him. There's absolutely no way. You can't defy authority. Even if he disagreed with what they wanted him to do, he should have had the courage to sit down and talk to him."

Ed Wade is an authority figure? Excuse me? Ed Wade, the man who got run out of Philadelphia on a rail? Ed Wade, the man who once got stuck in a tree while parachuting? Ed Wade, the skinny pencil-pushing dweeb who was the runner-up in the recent Worst GM Poll at Bucs Dugout? Please. He's just another employee in a poorly-run organization whose own manager has received zero confidence from his players. Yes, dumping Chacon was the right move, but don't compare Ed Wade to a policeman. That's disrespectful.

On a related note, don't you think the Phillies should pick up Chacon? They need starting pitchers, and the fans would absolutely love him for what he did to Wade. Just sayin'.

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News out of Los Angeles is that prolific right-handed relief pitcher Scott Proctor is headed to the disabled list with an elbow injury. Seems as though Proctor was originally going to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas but after some prodding by manager Joe Torre, Proctor admitted he had an ouchie on his pitching arm. Sounds a little suspect to me! What gives, Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson?

"I know it sounds like he just did that to keep from going to the minor leagues," Torre said. "But I checked with (trainer) Stan (Conte), and I think he had the same conversation with (Proctor) late last night." Torre went on to say that Proctor isn't the type of pitcher to admit -- either to his manager or to himself -- that he is hurt. "Scotty is that guy who figures that even in spite of it, he can go out and get people out," Torre said. Torre said Proctor was even willing to accept the option and go to Vegas and pitch hurt, but that club officials weren't going to allow him to do that.

What is it with professional baseball players not wanting to go to Las Vegas? First, Marcus Giles signed a minor league deal to play for the 51's and even started driving to Vegas before he turned around at the last minute. Now, the Proctor thing. Next thing you know, Andre Ethier will refuse assignment to Las Vegas because the restaurant scene is stagnant.

As for Mr. Proctor, the Fifth Outfielder blog took a sabermetric look at Scott's numerous appearances. They figured out that among the top ten pitchers in relief innings over the past three seasons, Proctor had the highest ERA and the only negative Win Probability Added. Basically: he reduced his team's chances of winning when entering the game.

(We owe a Coke to Baseball Musings)

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Here's what happened in baseball while learning lines in the rain

Giants 4, Indians 1: Barry Zito threw 6 and 2/3 innings of 4-hit ball to lead San Francisco to a series win in Cleveland against the hapless Indians. With the Royals win over the Rockies, the Indians move to last place in the AL Central, but they're still third to last place in my heart. Jose Castillo's tater tot led the Giants while Brian Wilson collected his NL-leading 21st save.

Royals 4, Rockies 2: Luke Hochevar had his longest and bestest outing of his season, lasting 8 solid innings and holding the Rox to two runs on seven hits with just 95 pitches. The Royals offense scored four runs on eight hits, but don't tell Joe Posnanski that they walked exactly zero times. Brad Hawpe's seventh inning solo ding-dong was just not enough to topple the Royals; Joakim Soria picked up his 21st save.

Nationals 5, Angels 4: Scot Shields failed the Angels by giving up two untimely singles in the ninth inning. Jesus Flores provided the walkoff hit after Elijah Dukes led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a Lastings Milledge groundout. The Angels had tied up the game in the 8th on a Howie Kendrick sac fly but failed to hold off the streaking Nats...they've now won one in a row! Aaron Boone collected his 1000th hit, joining his grandfather Ray, his father Bob, his brother Bret, and his uncle Pat at that milestone.

As per Baseball Musings, Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon has been suspended for choking out general manager Ed Wade.

"He started yelling and cussing," Chacon said of Wade. "I'm sitting there and I said to him very calmly, 'Ed, you need to stop yelling me. Then I stood up and said 'you better stop yelling at me.' I stood up. He continued and was basically yelling and stuff and was like, 'You need to (expletive) look in the mirror.' So at that point I lost my cool and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him because at that point I wanted to beat his (butt). Words were exchanged."

Thousands of Phillies fans think "Why didn't we try that?"

Yes I Am a Soxapologist

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Much hoopla has been made over my suggestion that multiple nationally-televised Red Sox games were actually good for fans. Our pal 'Duk at Big League Stew linked the story, questioned my sanity, and declared "Thank god for Extra Innings." Well then.

I'm a die-hard, dyed in the wool Yankees fan but I would never shy away from an opportunity to salute the Red Sox organization. They're just so well run nowadays! Heck, I've got many friends who are fans of Boston (more than I have of Yankees fan friends) but they're all rational and wonderful people. None of them are crazy "Tahhmmy from Quinzee" types.

I stand by my opinion, but I'd also like to point out the fact that I once considered starting a blog called "The Sports Apologist". Obviously this never got off the ground or even materialized outside of my own noggin, but the concept would be as such: I would have taken the least popular opinions in the sportsblogosphere and defend them in a clever and/or amusing way.

I tend to do that sometimes with my Walkoff Walk pieces, like with my Omar Minaya defense or even my Willie Randolph defense. Heck, I hate the Mets, but I sure would like to see justice served for every individual who isn't really doing that bad of a job.

Hopefully I won't ever sink so low to become merely a contrarian, but if I do, please call me out on it. So I won't hesitate now to implore our entire readership to watch tonight's Red Sox-Diamondbacks matchup, as old timers Randy Johnson and Tim Wakefield face off on ESPN2 at 7PM. Please to enjoy.

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It's intraleague madness here at Walkoff Walk as the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Look out, Bobby Cox! The Brewers are going for the sweep! Major League Baseball has blessed us with just one afternoon game today, so we're stuck with Jorge Campillo (who beat the Brewers last month) versus Jeff Suppan, he of the hefty 5.70 road ERA. Oh crap, if this is a Brewers road game, I won't be able to enjoy the dulcet tones of Mr. Bob Uecker.

Chipper Jones is out yet again so I won't be updating you on the .400 watch.

The great Tom Haudricourt has the lineups and analysis at his Brewers Blog but stay here for all your mildly snarky comments. After the jump, of course.

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Last night, Seattle knuckleballer R.A. Dickey made just his second start of the year and shut down the New York Metropolitans for seven innings, lowering his ERA a full run in the process. After telephoning fellow brethren Tim Wakefield before the game for some tips, kid allowed just seven baserunners and struck out five; he got Trot Nixon to strike out swinging twice. Granted, this was a Mets lineup that saw a tired David Wright sitting in favor of Fernando Tatis and had just Jose Reyes as the only fella under 30, but for a knuckleballer to be so effective for seven innings on the road is certainly laudable.

Mets starter Oliver Perez wasn't so skilled. He gave up tater tots to Kenji Johjima and Raul Ibanez among the five runs he allowed through five innings. Heck, even Richie Sexson had his first extry-base hit since May 24. THAT WAS A MONTH AGO. The Mariners ended up winning 11-0 and extended their winning streak to a hearty 'two'.

Here's local nut-slash-Mets manager Jerry Manuel on last night's loss, in which he was ejected for arguing balls n' strikes. (thanks to MetsBlog)

"We might have some tough decisions to make...We can't continue to go play good, don't play good, and not find a consistent formula. We have to find a consistent formula at some point, and we have not found that yet. So, we've got to do what we can. It could mean some tough decisions...Could be lineup changes, could be rotation changes, could be all types of changes, we have to do what we have to do to get this team on track. We have such great fans, and they're just waiting, they're waiting, they're waiting, they're waiting, they're waiting for us to do well, just hoping we do well and we're not giving them anything and that's not fair to them."

Really, Jerry, I think batting Trot Nixon in the five hole ain't gonna be the lineup change that is going to lead to more offensive production. Actually, the production last night was quite offensive. Kudos.

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

  • Rich Rys contributes a poignant column about domestic abuse in baseball. Although he forgets to include sassy senior Jorge Cantu, he remembers to name the patron saint of linkpunching, Wil Cordero. Deadspin.

  • David Laurila interviews New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski, who played baseball on scholarship at Memphis and was merely a walk-on to the football team. If it wasn't for his horse, he wouldn't have spent that year at college. Baseball Prospectus: Unfiltered.

  • dak recognizes the importance of the Dusty Baker/Corey Patterson relationship and is quick to point out the problems that lie within. Fire Joe Morgan.

  • Mariners fan and blogger Dave reprints some telling remarks about Seattle players made by anonymous coaches. In other news, Arthur Rhodes now legally owns Richie Sexson. U.S.S. Mariner.

  • Joe Posnanski ends up backstage at a Death Cab concert. That's all I have to say about that. JoeBlog.

  • Yes, Phillies fans are still on the nitrous. The 700 Level.

  • Straight females are not the only ones lusting after Troy Tulowitzki and naming him their 'future husband'. Jock Talk Blog.

Walkoff Walk commenter extraordinaire Matt_T sent us a great video of that enormous racist cow in Atlanta but Deadspin beat us to the publish button this morning. So instead of a tomahawk-choppin' cow, I bring you Cat Who Watches Baseball on Television, part one in a series of "Bob Saget Presents Walkoff Walk's Funniest Home Videos".


Hey, the cat is watching the College World Series. Maybe the cat IS Matt_T!

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ESPN baseball 'analyst' Joe Morgan is notorious for gallimaufries and assorted verbal miscues when talking about players during games. He'll misquote people, incorrectly recite stats, or worst of all, sully the career of one of baseball's all-time greats:

    But then Morgan did something completely bizarre: In the fifth inning, when Eric Patterson hit a two-run homer into the wire basket that overhangs the right field wall, Morgan referred to the basket as "Banks Boulevard," and then went on to talk about how many Ernie Banks homers ended up in the Wrigley bleacher baskets back in the day -- the implication being, of course, that many of Ernie's 512 career homers were cheapies, and that he would have hit considerably fewer without the help of those right- and left-field baskets.

Blogger Dan Epstein took umbrage at this statement and did the necessary research. Turns out the wire basket wasn't installed at Wrigley until May 1970, just over a year before Banks retired. It was installed, of course, to prevent the bleacher bums from falling over. Ernie hit only 7 homers in Chicago over that span, including his 500th that traveled deep into the bleachers, which certainly did not benefit from the basket.

Cubs blogs everywhere are up in arms over this denigration and some are even threatening a boycott over ESPN until Joe Morgan apologizes.

Folks, the day Joe Morgan apologizes is the day Joe Morgan admits he's wrong. That would require him to actually have a brain that processes binary information and produce an reasonable opinion. Not happening. It's just not consistent with his history of foibles.

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The great cabal of national television networks that broadcast baseball across the airwaves and coaxial cables have conspired over the past few days to cram Red Sox games down our collective throat. And you know what? I feel fine. Here's the list:

    Saturday: Cardinals at Red Sox (FOX)
    Sunday: Cardinals at Red Sox (TBS)
    Monday: Diamondbacks at Red Sox (ESPN)
    Tuesday: null
    Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Red Sox (ESPN)

Hey, even as a Yankee fan, I think this is a good thing. Every Red Sox game, home or away, is guaranteed to be a near sell-out, and interleague games heighten the uniqueness of the matchup. Add in the fact that both of the NL teams are playoff contenders and you've got the recipe for fan interest. Sorry Indians fans, sorry Astros fans, and sorry to fans of every other team working their way out of playoff contention: you'll have to follow your team in some other manner.

Do you feel tired by the incessant praise given to the Red Sox? So do I, but that's why I've stopped watching SportsCenter on a regular basis. Still, the team is so well-assembled and it performs on such a high level that it's almost impossible not to give them their due respect. And if you hate the team so much, why wouldn't you want to watch to see them possibly lose?

Last night was the first chance I got to sit down and watch the entirety of one of these contests, and boy was I rewarded. Pitchers Dan Haren and Josh Beckett went head-to-head in one of the more memorable pitching matchups of the year. Haren has been absolutely sick in June, winning five games with an ERA under 2.00; last night he threw 98 pitches over seven brutal but scoreless innings. For a game that was scoreless for six innings, every single at-bat put the weight of the world on Haren's shoulders.

Still, the facedown of the night came when Tony Pena faced Manny Ramirez with two on and two out; Ramirez lined a rocket towards left field but third baseman Mark Reynolds had his glove in the right place to make a great catch. Former Boston pitcher Brandon Lyon put the Sox down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 15th straight converted save.

So take your chance tomorrow night and tune into ESPN to see oldsters Randy Johnson and Tim Wakefield face off. If Steve Phillips is doing the color commentary, though, I wouldn't blame you for putting the TV on mute.

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Here's what happened in baseball while your lightnin' bolts were a-glowin'

Mariners 5, Mets 2: An entire nine-inning game can sometimes be boiled down to one play, a moment where fortunes turn in such a way that one team's chance of victory is made. For the Mariners tonight, it was an error by David Wright that led to pitcher Felix Hernandez' second inning king dong off Mets ace Johan Santana so aptly illustrated in this blog post. However, Felix Hernandez left the game with an ouchie in the fifth inning when Carlos Beltran slid into his ankle while covering home plate, so aptly illustrated in this blog post. Arthur Rhodes saved the game by striking out Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley.

Brewers 4, Braves 1: Ben Sheets does not have the same road woes as the Braves. The Brewers ace moved to 6-0 on the road this season by throwing a complete game four-hitter tonight against the Atlanta nine. He allowed just one run to score off a double-play ground out in the fourth inning. The soon-to-be-free-agent Sheets struck out seven and walked none while Mike Cameron's two-run ding-dong in the second inning off Jo-Jo Reyes proved to be all the offense the Fighting Ned Yosts needed.

Angels 3, Nationals 2: John Lackey has thrown just 60 innings this season but had he tallied just 16 more, he would have just displaced Justin Duchscherer as the AL leader in ERA. After allowing just one earned run in eight innings against the hapless Nats, Lackey is down to a miniscule 1.65 ERA. Francisco Rodriguez saved yet another game for those road warrior Angels.

Diamondbacks 2, Red Sox 1: Lots of crazy shit happened in this nationally televised game. First basegentleman Kevin Youkilis took a baseball off the face while warming up before the fifth inning and was replaced by outfielder Brandon Moss. With two outs and two on in the eighth inning and Arizona leading 2-1, third baseman Mark Reynolds snagged a Manny Ramirez line drive that was hit so hard, his red Diamondbacks hat popped off his head. AZ Snakepit needed an overflow game post for the excess comments. IT WAS NUTS I TELLS YA! Dan Haren got a well-deserved win.

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Perhaps you recall that earlier this year, the Israel Baseball League was on the brink of disaster after financial problems caused most of the board members to resign en masse. Well that was a real shande far di goyim because the league is working towards paying back salaries and crossing off debts.

Yes, the Israeli Baseball League is back and the first game will tentatively be July 27th.

Nobody ever accused Dan Rootenberg of lacking persistence. The former IBL player and the league's newest president is bringing back baseball to the West Bank, thanks to some last minute financial backing from a group of Boston businessmen.

"While it is important to acknowledge, correct and learn from the mistakes that happened in year one, at the same time, we cannot lose sight of the incredible accomplishments that were attained," said Rootenberg. "The goal of having a three-week season this summer is to keep the momentum going, build on the fan base that was created last summer ... and bring back the high level of talent," he said. "We hope that all of this will lay the groundwork for a 45-game season in 2009 and beyond."

L'chaim! A three-week season! I bet Dan Duquette feels like a real schnook now!

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Seattle sportsblogger Seth Kolloen got the assignment to write about the singles scene at Safeco Field, the home of the last place Mariners. Kolloen decides to write it as a goof piece, but comes off painting a pretty depressing portrait of a Seattle fan who has fallen on hard times, Richie Sexson-style.

The Mariners -- who also live in the basement and rarely score -- are just as unattractive to women. At least that's what I conclude from the looks of Safeco Field's Hit It Here Cafe on a couple of recent nights.

This bar, I'd been told, had turned into one of Seattle's best places to find attractive women who are receptive to the art of flirting. Or, to put it another way, a big drunken party. The Seattle P-I assigned me to write a story about this swingin' singles scene. But I'd missed it.

Seth brings his flirty friend Sophia to test out the theory, but the bar was practically empty, so they end up actually watching the game. The next night, he takes his friend Mark, a "flirty actor and singer with no shame." Mark strikes out and they end up watching the Stanley Cup playoffs with the kitchen help.

Call me crazy, but wouldn't it be easier to find a date in Seattle hanging out at coffeeshops and Citizen Dick shows?

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Fresh on the heels of calling Jose Reyes a lady and pimping himself as a gangster, new Mets manager Jerry Manuel has once again put his foot in his mouth. Yesterday, he criticized the Shea Stadium crowd's booing of craptacular reliever Aaron Heilman, and then thought up a perfectly reasonable metaphor for the treatment. The Mets fans are simply animal manure:

Asked how the struggling Heilman was holding up under constant booing at Shea this year, Manuel said: "It's very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium. It's fertile ground for a team's growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer."

Cut the crap and get to the point, Jerry. Mets fans are shit. Absolute pure shit. We all know this. We salute your honesty. Manuel then tried to backpedal:

"Fertilizer is a good thing," Manuel said before the Mets' afternoon contest against the Rockies. "It's a good thing. You get the greatest results - get the most beautiful plants - when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That's what we have the opportunity to do."

There is nothing fertile at all about Shea Stadium. The only things that grow there are antipathy and hatred towards the Mets, and enormous rats that are the size of horses.

George Carlin (1937 - 2008)

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George Carlin died and to spare you all the maudlin bullshit and take advantage of one of his most famous routines (that happens to be relevant to a baseball website), here's a YouTube:


Heaven is just another place for your stuff.

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Here's what happened in baseball while lying in bed for a week now

Angels 3 games, Phillies 0 games: Oh, those Angels really love the road. They went into Citizens Bank Park and held the hot-hitting, tater-tot takin' Phillies to just five runs in three games. Shit, those gymnasts next door hit with a higher average with runners on base than the Phillies this weekend. Francisco Rodriguez saved two of the contests to increase his league-leading tally to 30. The Phillies have now lost four straight series since sweeping Atla....HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?

Reds 2 games, Yankees 1 game: After being absolutely shut down on Friday and Saturday by young studs Edinson Volquez and Daryl Thompson, the Yankees offense finally figured out a way to cobble together four runs off Johnny Cueto and the Reds bullpen. Andy Pettitte picked up his eighth win by getting himself into and out of trouble for most of his six innings of work on Sunday. Ken Griffey ding-donged off Kyle Farnsworth AND THAT WAS MAYBE POSSIBLE HIS LAST EVER GAME AT YANKEE STADIUM, YOU GUYS. Well, at least until next month's All Star Game, or at least until he's traded to the light-hitting Rays.

Athletics 2 games, Marlins 1 game: Was this a World Series preview? Perhaps, especially if Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki continues to hit like a shofuso on fire. Kid contributed six hits, a tater tot, and eight RBIs for the A's this weekend, and even caught the new American League leader in ERA on Sunday, Mr. Justin Duchscherer (8-4, 1.99 ERA). Notable milestone reached this weekend: Marlin Luis Gonzalez collected his 583rd career double yesterday tying him with Robin Yount for 16th place on the career list.

It's the Red Sox and the Cardinals and it just started. Enjoy.

The Saturday Lunchtime Post

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What a night of baseball! Four extry-inning games! Four walkoff wins! A dislocated index finger bone that went through the skin! Cincinnati Red Jolbert Cabrera became the FOURTH Reds shortstop to hit the disabled list this season, joining Jeff Keppinger (broken knee), Alex Gonzalez (compression fracture), and Jerry Hairston Jr. (fractured thumb). Paul Janish will start today at shortstop. Hey Paul, look out for falling safes.

In other news, the Rays and Yankees failed to capitalize on the Red Sox' loss to the Cardinals, the Blue Jays failed to score for new manager Cito Gaston in a run in a 12-inning 1-0 loss to the Pirates, Elijah Dukes had five hits including the game-winner in a 14-inning Nationals victory over the Rangers, Kurt Suzuki was made of magic and had the game-winning RBI in an 11-inning Oakland win over the Marlins, and Joe Borowski blew a save for Cleveland but won the game because he was in the right place at the right time.

Your FOX game of the week feature either the Boston Camp Tiger Claws hosting the St. Louis Will Leitches or the Los Angeles Didgeridoos versus the Cleveland Offensive Native American Stereotypes at 3:55PM EDT. Please to enjoy!

Weekend Questions

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

  • WILL the Angels road prowess continue as their super starting rotation faces the Phillies powerful lineup at Citizens Bank Park?

  • DO the recent new hires in Seattle, New York, and Toronto have what it takes to win on the road this weekend?

  • CAN the Reds figure out how to score some consarned runs against a depleted Yankees pitching staff?

  • HOW did I ever do this alone today? Come back, CTC!

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

Comic geniuses Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz along with guest host Corbin Bernsen and total comic hack Kevin Nealon bring us a delightful parody from Saturday Night Live. They're taking on the syndicated sports talker George Michael's Sports Machine as if it were hosted by pedant George Will. Yes, I just explained a comedy sketch. Sorry. Here:


Note: New Jersey's own The Smithereens were the musical guest on that episode.

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2:20PM - White Sox at Cubs: It's yet another World Series Preview but this is perhaps the unlikeliest of likelihoods. The Chicargo White Sox and the Chicargo Cubs are both first place teams; they haven't both been in first this late in a season for five years! The White Sox will send John Danks to the mound with his 2.90 ERA while the Cubbies counter with Ted Lilly. Expect to see Jim Thome playing first base today as Paul Konerko is on the D.L. with a strained left oblique. Don't expect to see any Wizard Cat defensive plays at first base, though: the big lug hasn't played in the field since last season. Says Ozzie Guillen: ''He'll prepare. I'm going to let him know that I don't want him doing anything at first base. Just catch the ball when they throw it to you. If they hit a ground ball and you miss it, blame it on me.''

Looks like Nick Swisher is your first basegentleman today.

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Looks like Shea Hillenbrand always wins in the end. As per John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is gonna get his walking papers served today by that Canadian wireless company that runs the team nowadays.

Smell ya later!

UPDATE: Holy crap they hired Cito Gaston.

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Hope that I don't need to mention Camp Tiger Claw this week after his crazy New York week of baseball games, rock concerts, and drinking binges. Creampuff is his baby but I'm takin' over today. Be gentle!

  • Moises Alou, Mets (strained calf): The eternal godfather and king of getting hurt actually just got off the disabled list last Tuesday and even started against the Diamondbacks. Moises got a single, but then the rains came down in Shea and the game was delayed for an hour. When play resumed, Alou was on the bench and three days later was back on the DL for the 8953th time in his career.

  • Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees (torn tendon): The Wanger was running the bases for the first time in years during a Yankee romp over the Astros down in Houston, but he pulled up lame while scoring his first career run. Turns out he messed up his Lisfranc real bad and he'll miss at least ten weeks. Wang is the second Yankee pitcher to introduce the word "Lisfranc" into the Bronx patois this season; Brian Bruney is due to return soon from his own foot ouchie.

  • Paul Konerko, White Sox (strained oblique): He's the anti-Moises Alou as this will be Paul Konerko's first ever trip to the DL. Poor fella hurt himself in a bad way while taking swings during batting practice. I know the fans love 'em but don't try for so many tater tots, Paul! Who's gonna play first in Wrigley this weekend? Thome? Yipes!

  • Brad Penny, Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers (sore shoulders): Oh shit, it's a double punch in the gut for manager Joe Torre as he loses half of his top-notch rotation for a little bit. Kuroda will probably only miss one start but he'll be replaced by Chan Ho Park, and that's not good for anyone, except maybe the Park family. Penny's pain may be more problematic; he's 0-7 in his last eight starts but still expects to miss just one start.

  • Carlos Zambrano, Cubs: (shoulder discomfort): That sound you hear is Cubs fans everywhere sounding their barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world. Big Z is down but not yet out, although he'll miss his next start.

  • Willie Randolph (DOA): Willie got whacked.
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Milwaukee Brewers reliever Eric Gagne has had a tough 2008 full of performance problems, mental instability and injury issues alike. Gagne is on the disabled list right now and Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres has taken his place as Brewers closer.

How's Salomon doing? Since Gagne went on the DL on May 21st, Torres has appeared in eleven games and saved all nine of his opportunities. He's allowed eight hits and three walks in thirteen innings and gave up one run in a non-save sitch against the Astros. Not bad!

That's all well and good, but let's head over to Baseball Prospectus and noodle around with their nerdy stat reports. They have a stat called "Win Expectation over Replacement, Lineup-adjusted", or WXRL, that is explained well by Derek Jacques in this primer:

Win Expectation breaks down each game situation--inning, score, number of outs, number of runners on base, and which bases they're on--that occurs in the major leagues, all to measure how the transition from one situation to another alters a team's chance of winning the game.

So basically, a relief pitcher is rated on how difficult the situation is when he enters the game and how much he contributes to his team's chances to win the game. Come into the ninth inning with two outs, the bases empty and a three-run lead and pick up a save? That's good. Come into the ninth inning with a one-run lead, no outs and the bases loaded and pick up a save? That's great. WXRL measures that.

Our friend Salomon Torres is sixth in the NL with a 2.479 WXRL, so he's worth about 2.5 wins over a replacement level pitcher. Not bad! For comparison purposes, Brad Lidge is first in the NL with a 3.577 WXRL and Eric Gagne is dead last on the Brewers with a -0.575 WXRL. Gagne is half a win worse than a replacement pitcher, so Ned Yost would be better off picking a fan from the crowd than putting Gagne in the bullpen when he returns from injury. Hey, at least Yost is making the right move with the closer role.

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The 2008 season has been a tough one for the visitors. Home teams are enjoying an almost unprecedented advantage over the road teams this year, whether its because of jet lag and Circadian rhythms or separation anxiety or just plain sucking wind in unfamiliar places. The Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs have all won at least 28 games in their quirky home ballparks, but that's not that special: 26 of the 30 teams in baseball have winning home records this year. Only the Royals, Giants, Mariners, and Nationals have losing home records and, save for the Giants, they are all-around awful teams this year anyway.

So who are the teams getting the wins on the road, and why? Let's take a look at the five peripatetic and possibly playoff-bound parties:

  • Los Angeles Angels (21-12): The Angels are in first place in the AL West thanks to a wicked strong starting rotation. Their top three pitchers (Jon Garland, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana) have combined to go 14-3 on the road, while the entire staff boasts a 3.46 ERA away from Angel Stadium. Notable road series wins include 2 of 3 from the White Sox, Red Sox, and A's and an early season sweep of the Twins. Big test on the road comes this weekend as they head to homer-happy Citizens Bank Park to face the Phillies.

  • St. Louis Cardinals (19-15): St. Louis' lineup on the road is slightly outperforming its home prowess, with a .766 OPS away from Busch Stadium. New outfield star Ryan Ludwick has a huge 1.144 OPS on the road including 12 ding-dongs, versus just 4 ding-dongs at home. This may all be just a paper tiger though, as the Cardinals have just one road series against a winning team, when they lost 3 of 4 to the Brewers at Miller Park. Expect the Cardinals' shortcomings to be exposed this weekend at Fenway Park.

  • Philadelphia Phillies (20-17): The Phillies possess a bold .798 OPS at home but don't slack too much on the road with a .787 OPS away from Philadelphia. Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard have 22 road tater tots against just 13 home dongs. Old fart Jamie Moyer has a 4-1 record on the road with a 2.76 ERA, almost half his 5.32 home ERA. Notable road series wins include a sweep in Atlanta, but after hosting the Angels this weekend, they'll head to Oakland and Texas for tough interleague series.

  • Oakland Athletics (17-16): Oakland hits a little better and pitches a little worse on the road, but they were 9-5 on the road in a tough April that saw them travel to Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles in a three week span. Only time will tell if they hang on to their good road record but they'll only leave their division 4 times for the rest of the season for away games.

  • New York Yankees (19-18): The Yankees are the opposite of the Athletics; they pitch a little better and hit a little worse away from the Bronx. Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Chien-Ming Wang are a combined 15-3 and Mariano Rivera has 12 of his 20 saves on the road. The Yanks took 2 of 3 in Oakland and Chicago and are a respectable 3-3 in the Tropicana Dome this year. New York has just two road trips left this season where they leave their time zone.
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Here's what happened in baseball while you took an apartment in Washington Heights

Brewers 8, Blue Jays 7: Dave Bush was workin' it against his former team, throwing a perfect game through five and a no-hitter through seven. With his team up 8-0 in the eighth, the man for whom he was traded back in aught-five, Lyle Overbay, broke up the no-hitter with a triple. Bush lost his shutout bid when Alex Rios knocked in Overbay but finished the eighth still up 8-1. It all went to shit in the ninth, however, as the Brewers bullpen gave up six more runs before Salomon Torres came on to record the final out. Prince Fielder inside-the-park tater totted when Rios was too goddamned lazy to retrieve a baseball stuck between the outfield wall and the warning track.

Royals 4, Cardinals 1: Kansas City improved to 7-2 in interleague play with a sweep over their Midwestern aw-shucks rivals in St. Louis. Starter Zack Greinke got his shit together long enough to hold St. Louis to strike out seven Cardinals in seven innings of one-run ball. Joakim Soria earned his 18th save in 19 tries. That doesn't help the hapless Royals as much as it helps my fantasy team.

Rays 8, Cubs 3: The Cubs must have felt super happy about scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 3-1 lead in the Trop but then Carlos Marmol came in and effed it all up. Marmol relieved starter Sean Gallagher in the seventh and loaded the bases with two walks and a HBP. Marmol forced in a run with another HBP to Akinori Iwamura, and Lou Piniella had seen enough. Sweet Lou brought in Scott Eyre who promptly gave up the eventual game-winning king dong to Carl Crawford. The bullpen ended up surrendering seven runs in the fateful seventh and done got swept by the Rays. AL East represent! Except the Blue Jays!

Tonight's Questions

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night game.jpgIt's a short schedule tonight but that doesn't mean it has to be slow:

  • WILL the Cubs salvage a game in their "World Series preview series" with the Rays?

  • DOES Shawn Chacon have what it takes to shut down the streaking Orioles and end the Astros' seven game losing streak?

  • CAN you name every member of the 500 home run club?

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

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

  • Newsday blogger Bob Glauber once saw Don Zimmer naked. That's nothing, I once saw Yogi Berra taking a schvitz. Bob Blog.

  • Tom Haudricourt breaks the sad news that Julian Tavarez has been DFA'd by Milwaukee after going 0-1 with a 8.59 ERA in 7 1/3 innings. Guess he just missed his buddy Manny Ramirez. Brewers Blog.

  • Tony Jackson relates some tale about someone from West Virginia getting kicked out of Great American Ballpark. I don't get it. Inside the Dodgers.

  • Sometimes, when words fail you, it's best to relate a narrative using pictures or pictograms. DMZ does it well to describe the Mariners awfulness. U.S.S. Mariner.

  • Marc Hulet rewards our patience and looks at the rookie hitters. Baseball Analysts.

  • Some people hate grammatical and spelling mistakes. Some people like to eat at nice restaurants. Some people fit both categories. Washington Post.
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Okay, perhaps those weren't the Blue Jays general manager's exact words but it certainly fits the spirit of his tete-a-tete with a caller on a Toronto radio show. The caller suggested the Blue Jays acquire Adam Dunn, who is currently employed by the Cincinnati Dustys and ranked seventh among NL outfielders this year with a .909 OPS. Why a general manager of a MLB team would ever stoop so low to take calls from dunderheaded listeners to a sports talk radio show is beyond my comprehension, but here was J.P.'s heated and seemingly irrational response:

"Do you know the guy doesn't really like baseball that much?" Ricciardi said to the caller. "Do you know the guy doesn't have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player?

"There's a reason why you're attracted to some players and there's a reason why you're not attracted to some players. I don't think you'd be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here ...

"We've done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there's a reason why we don't want Adam Dunn. I don't want to get into specifics."

Jesus Christ, why don't the Blue Jays want Adam Dunn? Do they have inside information about Dunn's secret sex dungeon? Do his stats not translate well with the current Canadian dollar exchange rate? Does he clog the bases too much?

J.P. then said "He's a lifetime .230, .240 hitter that strikes out a ton and hits home runs."

"Yes, he hits home runs, which none of the Toronto Blue Jays are doing," the caller replied.

Zing! Plus one to the random caller to some random Toronto sports radio show!

(We owe a Coke to Bucs Dugout which is odd because this has nothing to do with the Pirates)

(And here's audio on Redleg Nation, thanks to Big League Stew)

As per Geoff Baker's emo-blog, dirty mouth John McLaren has been fired as manager of the Seattle Mariners. Smell ya later. Jim Riggleman becomes the interim manager.

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Put your pants on, friend. There's a heckuva lotta afternoon affairs to tend to!

Dodgers (Eric Stults) at Reds (Aaron Harang), 12:35: Dodgers seek a rare sweep with that guy from all the Cameron Crowe films. Maybe the Reds will score more than one run today.

Padres (Josh Banks) at Yankees (Joba Chamberlain), 1:05: Yankees go for the jugular with a man who is finally allowed to throw 100 pitches in a game. Padres counter with someone named Josh Banks.

Nationals (Shawn Hill) at Twins (Glen Perkins), 1:10: Minnesoter goes for the easy sweep and attempt to get back above .500. Nationals just trying to field nine warm bodies at this point. Well, eight warm bodies and Aaron Boone's corpse.

Pirates (Phil Dumatrait) at White Sox (Gavin Floyd), 2:05: Jesus, are there any afternoon games where teams AREN'T going for a sweep? The Chisox have been absolutely pummeling the Bucs and with Floyd on the mound, it won't end here.

Braves (Charlie Morton) at Rangers (Scott Feldman), 2:05: Ah, a rubber game! Charlie Morton's second major league start might be tough against the offensive-minded Rangers. Winner gets a .500 record.

Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett) at Brewers (David Bush), 2:05: Milwaukee seeks its sweep against Burnett, who wishes he was facing the Brewers in a Cub uniform instead.

Royals (Zack Greinke) at Cardinals (Brad Thompson), 2:15: The Cardinals have lost two straight one-run, low-scoring games to the Royals, and attempt to end the streak against Greinke, who has a 7.04 career ERA against the Redbirds.

A's (Greg Smith) at Diamondbacks (Doug Davis), 3:40: One more rubber game as each team has blown out the other over the past two days. That sounds filthy. Doug Davis had cancer, y'all.

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The Cincinnati Reds are hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in an intraleague matchup this week and have been held to one run in the first two games, both losses. Dodgers starters Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley have both held the Reds lineup at bay with wins of 6-1 and 3-1 respectively. Our friend and Reds beat writer John Fay has all the pertinent Dusty Baker quotes to fully explain the power outage:

"It's disheartening to score one run," Baker said. "It's hard to win with one, unless you get a shutout."

Oh man, Dusty nailed that one. It's so true! You really can't win games when scoring one run! Unless you shut the other fellers out! Dusty Baker Wisdom!

John, tell us more about the Reds latest slump.

The Reds are hitting .179 on the homestand and have scored a total of 17 runs in the eight games. The Reds had only one fewer hits (sic) than the Dodgers. But the Reds were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers were 3-for-8. The Reds are 3-for-46 (.065) with RISP on the homestand.

Oh man, what's Dusty gonna say about that?

"We got plenty of hits," Baker said. "This last week we haven't been hitting with runners in scoring position and runners on base. That's the name of the game."

That really is the name of the game. Hittingwithrunnersinscoringpositionandrunnersonbaseball. Oh, it's also hard to score runs when your leadoff hitter goes 1-for-5 and has a .226 OBP.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you were the boy in the corduroy pants

Tigers 7, Giants 2: Look out, here come the Tigers! No, seriously, they're going to maul you with their claws and/or teeth.

Orioles 2, Astros 1: Look out, those Astros sure hate the American League East! No, seriously, they'd rather not play any more teams from that division.

Rays 5, Cubs 4: Look out, the Rays are unstoppable at home! No, seriously, the white trash in that dump likes to bring cowbells to the game.

Braves 5, Rangers 2: Look out, the Braves have a new closer! No, seriously, Mike Gonzalez is back, in Brave form.

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It's a businessperson's special today at Citizens Bank Park but Wednesdays are alway special for businesspeoples here at Walkoff Walk. That's right, I'll be liveglogging the Phillies-Red Sox rubber match today. Cole Hamels shut down Boston on Monday night but the Sox came back against Jamie Moyer last night behind the pitching prowess of Jon Lester.

Your matchup today is Kyle Kendrick against rookie Justin Masterson. Masterson has had five starts so far this season and has gone at least 6 innings in all five. He's 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA, but most impressively, has 27 K's in 31 innings pitched. Kendrick has picked up six wins this year but has only 31 K's against 24 walks in 75 innings pitched. He's benefited well from the strong Phillies lineup and the astoundingly good bullpen. Neither pitcher has faced the opposing team before, so this should prove to be an interesting day.

Manny Ramirez is out of the lineup today, so that's one less bat for Kendrick to worry about.

Check out the lineups then hop over that jump down there at 1PM and follow along:

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Taking a gander at the Baseball Prospectus postseason odds report (subscription req'd) shows the following teams at 50% or higher in terms of their chances to reach the playoffs:

    Cubs: 91%
    Red Sox: 85%
    White Sox: 76%
    Phillies: 75%
    Athletics: 73%
    Rays: 69%
    Diamondbacks: 62%

Knock the White Sox off that list and you've got six teams who are in the middle of playing one another, thanks to the wonders of interleague action. No, I'm not referring to the Indians-Rockies matchup. Instead, the Red Sox-Phillies series, Athletics-Diamondbacks series, and Rays-Cubs series have all been called World Series previews by various sources, including Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels:

"We can compete with them any day of the week. Hopefully, we're destined to play them in the World Series."

That's a reasonable guess, Cole. But which permutation or combination of those six teams would be most likely to meet in the Fall Classic? Cubs-Red Sox? Phillies-A's? Rays-Diamondbacks? Who knows? What do you all think?

FYI, the Mariners currently have a 0.01307% chance of making the playoffs. And yes, that's absurdly higher than I thought.

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Sportsbloggers and media types alike have been piling on Omar Minaya after his late-night, West Coast firing of Mets manager Willie Randolph, and why shouldn't they? Minaya's presser yesterday was an awkward and lugubrious P.R. nightmare and he did nothing to exonerate his actions from the night before.

But still, he indirectly attacked the media and blamed them for creating an atmosphere of uncertainty; they basically pushed him to make the move. From Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog:

"He said, most managers get fired at lunch, in the morning or after the game, but because he works in a market with so much media and sources, he felt he needed to tell him the minute he made the decision, "And that's why it was done last night," because he didn't want a third party to tell Randolph first."

Plain and simple: Minaya made the decision the night before, spread the information through the Mets organization the next day, and the media forced his hand to fire Willie Randolph immediately after the game. Minaya's saving grace was that he was able to prevent Willie Randolph from learning about his dismissal while in uniform from an outside source!

Heck, two hours before Randolph's last game as manager, the rumors had begun bubbling up. Will Carroll learned that pitching coach Rick Peterson was to be fired from a 'source', he contacted another source in the Mets' organization who denied the rumor, and he was forced to rescind the news even though the entire Mets organization minus the coaching staff knew it was true.

He fired Randolph at the team hotel at approximately 11PM PDT and the email went out to the media at about midnight. The newspaper guys were all up in arms because Omar made the firing after the local papers had already gone to print. No offense, newspaper guys, but Omar Minaya owes you nothing. There's a 24-hour news cycle nowadays (as hack as that sounds) so we're so so sorry the stupid New York Post had to wait another day to print their hack headline. Yes the firing was handled improperly, but no, it wasn't because they did it at 3AM EDT.

I don't like Omar Minaya's methodology to building a team and I don't think he was right to fire Willie Randolph. Still, I don't think hiring Willie or firing Willie was entirely his choice. Owner Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff (the COO) were enthusiastic to hire a minority manager, the first in New York baseball history. They celebrate the diversity of the team and their fans, and are dedicating the front rotunda of the new CitiField to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.

But the Wilpons most likely reached their end when Randolph played the race card in an newspaper interview as the reason he was being criticized as manager. I don't believe that this was 100% Minaya's decision. No one does, regardless of how much he protested during his press conference.

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Here's what happened in baseball while that stain on my notebook said nothing to me

Red Sox 3, Phillies 0: Jon Lester's magical mystery tour continued in the city of cheesesteaks and heartaches as he struck out five Phillie batters in his seven shutout innings. Kid's 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA now; a little more run support and he'd have 10 wins by now. Hey Messrs. Utley, Burrell, Rollins, and Howard: you won't score many runs without hitting tater tots. Coco Crisp's two-run ding-dong proved to be the deciding hit. The Sox swiped six bases in seven attempts off catcher Carlos Ruiz, who also went 0-for-3 with a GIDP and four left on base.

Rays 3, Cubs 2: The Cubs scored a run off a passed ball by recently activated Rays closer Troy Percival but could not tie the game when Reed Johnson's two-out squeeze attempt with Kosuke Fukudome on third fell short and Johnson was thrown out on the bunt. The Rays held on for a 3-2 win over the bestest team in all the land. Neal Cotts gave up a ding-dong to Evan Longoria and was handed the loss while Grant Balfour collected four outs in relief of Scott Kazmir and picked up the win.

Brewers 7, Blue Jays 0: Prince Fielder, Russell Branyan, and Ryan Braun all hit 400+ foot taters to lead the Brew Crew over Dustin McGowan and the last place Blue Jays. Don't look now but Ryan Braun has 20 homers on the year and is inching his way up the All-Star vote count (fourth place behind Soriano, Fukudome, and Griffey). Manny Parra went seven shutout innings for the rejuvenated Milwaukee team...hey, maybe Fielder is sharing some tofuburgers with the rest of the boys.

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

  • Joe Posnanski explodes the mythos behind the 1919 Chicago Black Sox incident and points to a Philadelphia newspaper in 1920 as the reason the scandal hit the big time. Read all the way through to see Joe's opinion on Shoeless Joe's hall-of-fame credentials. JoeBlog.

  • Marc Hulet checks in on the rookie pitchers in both leagues. What, no love for Joba? Baseball Analysts.

  • Ricky Nolasco is getting overworked. Good thing he's never been on the DL with a dead arm or anything. Oh.... FishStripes.

  • Robinson Cano is made of magic. Vegas Watch.

  • Padres pitcher Chris Young is still recovering from that baseball-to-face injury. Kid can't smell or taste the delicious fish tacos at Petco. Gaslamp Ball.

  • Maury Brown assembles a veritable murderer's row of bloggers to report on the state of the game. Hey look! Friends of WoW Kevin Kaduk and Jonah Keri! Biz of Baseball.

  • Video evidence of the torrential downpours at that R.E.M. concert I skipped. Idolator.

Lost in all of this Willie Randolph hemming and hawing is the recent arrival in the Mets outfield: youngster Trot Nixon! He'll replace the ancient right-fielder Moises Alou on the ol' depth chart. Late Friday night, GM Omar Minaya obtained the young prospect from the Diamondbacks triple-A club in Tucson in exchange for cash and/or players to be named later. Kid went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 walks in his Met debut Sunday but then had a sad 0-for-4 outing.

Wait a minute...this is the same Trot Nixon from the Red Sox? The same washed-up 34-year-old who slugged .336 last year for the Indians? The same guy who inspired this treacle?


Farewell and adieu to your season, Mets fans.

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Ever since skipper Mike Hargrove up and left the Seattle Mariners last July, the M's have taken a turn for the worse. The team was on an eight-game winning streak to push their record to 45-33, but Hargrove felt his dedication to the game could not match what he expected from the players, so he left. Since then, Seattle has gone 67-87, fired their GM and hitting coach, and caused one beat writer to question the existence of God.

But shed no tears for Hargrove because he's landed on his feet in a familiar place, managing a team he once played for: the Liberal Bee Jays, a semi-pro team in Liberal, Kansas. The Bee Jays play in the Jayhawk Conference, a summer league in the illustrious Sunflower State. How's their season going?

"After blowing late leads Saturday and Sunday at Hays (Kan.), the Bee Jays are 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Jayhawk League, not what their manager envisioned as the months rolled by and he came to some conclusions after his abrupt end to last season."

Make your own jokes, folks.

(We owe a Coke to David Pinto at Baseball Musings)

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Well that was a great win by the New York Metropolitans over the AL West's best team in that team's own ballpark. Manager Willie Randolph and his coaches could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the win over the Angels could bring them another game closer to .500 and another day of job security. I bet Willie and his staff went out to Morton's for some ribeyes and a couple bottles of old vine zinfandel just to relax and plan out the next day's strategy.

But, uh, Randolph and his coaches done got fired. Omar Minaya pulled the trigger at midnight local time, sending Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson, and first base coach Tom Nieto to the unemployment line. Bench coach Jerry Manuel takes over as manager and Dan Warthen becomes the new pitching coach.

This is progress? This is the team I predicted would finish first? Shame on me for thinking the Mets were so well-assembled for a playoff run and then criticizing Omar Minaya for assembling such a team. I'm a hypocritical baseball blogger!

Still, I stand by my earlier defense of Willie. He led the team to three winning seasons in a row andcamethisclose to taking the Mets to the World Series. I have no idea how well he energizes the team or deals with players behind the scenes, but he's still just a sacrificial goat in this case.

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Here's what happened in baseball while the taxi light shone so bright

Phillies 8, Red Sox 2: Cole Hamels emerged victorious on a night when tater tots were flying out of the yard with great frequency. Revitalized slugger Ryan Howard had two of the tots as a side dish for his husky triple, while shortstop Jimmy Rollins collected his 28th career leadoff homer in the first.The Red Sox hit back to back solo ding-dongs in the fifth by Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew but Hamels' six other innings pitched were scoreless.

You know, Ryan Howard is tied for second in the NL with 19 homers and tied for first in RBIs with 63. Poor Pat Burrell has no RBI opportunities anymore because RyHo is knocking in all the runners and then clogging them with his girth. Since May 9th, when his batting average was .167 and his OPS was a measly .608, Howard has 11 tater tots, 41 RBI, and has raised his OPS almost 200 points.

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As per the peripatetic Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus, New York Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has been shown the door. I believe the door led out of Angel Stadium since the Mets are currently visiting Anaheim. Will says it cannot be confirmed but we here at Walkoff Walk feel that if we mark something as a wild internet rumor, we can say anything we want.

Anyway, I have no inside information as to how the Mets organization works or how well/poorly Rick Peterson was as a pitching coach. Still, I feel bad for the guy and hope whomever engineered such a shoddily-assembled pitching staff will truly receive the brunt of the punishment.

UPDATE: It's not true, sez Mr. Carroll. His sources were about as reliable as a drunken retarded squirrel.

SECOND UPDATE: Oh it was true. The entire staff got shitcanned.

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Well, the Mariners higher-ups reached their breaking point and the latest victim was not manager John McLaren but G.M. Bill Bavasi. Associate G.M. Lee Pelekoudas will step up to temporarily become the head honcho. The folks at U.S.S. Mariner have nothing but good words to say about Bavasi on his way out the door:

"Obviously, we've had our disagreements with Bill on roster construction and how to build a team, but as we've said repeatedly, he's a really good person and it was our pleasure to host him at several USSM events in the past few years. I enjoyed all my conversations with him, and in the sense of having a good person to talk baseball with, I will miss him. But this is the right move for the organization."

That's a nice way to send the man off, especially a week after blasting him in that Baseball Analysts guest piece last week. It's been a tough year for Bill, losing his job just two months after losing his dad, Buzz. At least Bill lasted a full two years longer than the chuckleheads who ran the Fire Bill Bavasi blog.

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Well if you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Seattle Mariners, you are severely and sorely mistaken. The worst team in the American League just finished up a three game series against the worst team in the National League by scoring just 10 runs and losing all three contests. The Mariners now sit 17.5 games out of first place in the AL West and their .348 "winning" percentage puts them on pace to lose 106 games. Hey, let's turn that inside out and give them a .652 losing percentage. That makes more sense! That's a hearty, robust number.

Let's turn to team beat writer and emo-blogger Geoff Baker for his thoughts on where the team might be headed:

"But I find it hard to believe that (CEO Howard) Lincoln is not at the breaking point after the M's were swept by a team that came in as the worst in the National League. He had to have heard the boos that filled the stadium when the last out of the M's 6-2 loss was made. This is a town that has extreme antipathy for their product. Management can't ignore that much longer."

"So now we'll wait and see if John McLaren survives, if Bill Bavasi survives, if Richie Sexson survives. It could get interesting."

Wait a minute...those sentences seem to be devoid of emotion and just present the facts in a rational manner. Why, it's not Geoff Baker at all but someone named Larry Stone! Geoff Baker hasn't blogged since Friday, when superstar M's closer J.J. Putz went on the disabled list Friday for the second time this season. Putz has a hyperextended pitching elbow, but with a two-day absence from blogging, I'm afraid Geoff Baker might have finally taken the plunge from the Space Needle.

Hey, remember when Robin Ventura put on the Mike Piazza jersey and a fake moustache and slid across the tarp during a Mets rain delay a few years back? No? Well I have no video evidence to share with you, so please to enjoy several Rangers doing the same thing Saturday night at Shea:


It's great to see a player like Josh Hamilton have so much fun as a professional baseball player. Sure, Milton Bradley slid too, but he had such a bad attitude about it.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you twined with your mingles of raven black hair

Cardinals 7, Phillies 6 (10): Welp, that 20-2 pounding on Friday night stunned St. Louis but not as much as having their catcher, Yadier Molina, be taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck brace. Molina got his big hurt in the ninth when he got knocked the fug out by pinch runner Eric Bruntlett, but hey, he made the tag and got the out to preserve the tie game, and then collapsed. The Cardinals won the game in extry innings, thanks to two Phillies' errors at first base in the inning, first on Chase Utley and the second on reliever Tom Gordon.

Tigers 5, Dodgers 4: Do you hear that, American League Central? That's the pitter-pat of tiger footprints, coming from (way) behind you to attempt a big maul. Detroit won its sixth game in a row and swept L.A. despite the Dodgers' four-run ninth inning rally. Nate Robertson threw six shutout innings with a nice 45-minute rain delay break in between, wherein Nate retreated to the clubhouse for some Guitar Hero with Joel Zumaya. Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge tater-totted.

Pirates 5, Orioles 4 (10): Well, the Pirates blew three leads this weekend but only lost two games. Matt Capps, previously the only faultless NL Central closer, blew two leads this weekend including the two-run ninth inning lead in this contest (thanks to a two run ding-dong by Brian Roberts), but still earned the win when Adam LaRoche singled in the game winning run in the top of the 10th. Flat brimmed dorkface George Sherrill took the loss. This was Pittsburgh's first interleague win since last June.

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I'm totally out of the loop so why bother explaining what happened in baseball yesterday when all I know is that Derek Jeter hit the game-winning tater tot in Houston last night. So, go read the recaps yourself if you're still interested.

Onto today! Put on your happy faces and turn on FOX. You're either getting the Reds-Red Sox game (featuring superstar hurler Edinson Volquez), the Phillies-Cardinals romp (starring the rejuvenated Kyle Lohse) or the Dodgers-Tigers matchup (with the major league debut of Detroit starter Eddie Bonine). It's a win-win situation! Except for the two teams that lose!

CTC went to the REM concert last night in Boston and emailed me the setlist; I'm dragging my girlfriend to the REM concert at Jones Beach later tonight. Enjoy your Saturday evenings, y'all.

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It'd be almost unfair to preview a shitty interleague series like mediocre Pirates/Orioles matchup and ignore the big National League throwdown between two 40-win teams. The division-leading Phillies head west to face the surprisingly proficient Cardinals for the first time this season.

Here are your pitching matchups:

   Friday: Kyle Kendrick vs Todd Wellemeyer
   Saturday: Adam Eaton vs Kyle Lohse
   Sunday: Brett Myers vs Matt Mitchell Boggs

Who would have thought that Kyle Lohse would be a solid number three starter behind Adam Wainwright and Todd Wellemeyer? The Cardinals have a deep pitching staff that's getting it done without mirrors; Lohse, Wainwright and Wellemeyer are among the top 20 NL starters in VORP, while Braden Looper just shut out the Reds.

The Phillies strength lies in their bullpen. Brad Lidge is poifect in save opportunities this season and has been set up well by the likes of Tom Gordon, Chad Durbin, and J.C. Romero.

Hey, if the Phillies are on the road, that means we can crash Shane Victorino and Kyle Kendrick's apartment! House party!!

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Back in May, we took a look at the interleague series between the Mariners and Padres, two teams that were at the bottom of their respective leagues, both in records and statistics. Seattle won that series two games to one, but ever since, the two teams have gone in opposite directions. San Diego is 14-9 and Seattle is 6-15 since the first battle for supreme awfulness. The Padres are actually in the NL West discussion again, just 6.5 behind division-leading Arizona while Seattle's season is over; they're 16.5 games behind in last place.

That brings us to this weekend's series between the Mariners (24-42) and the Nationals (26-42) at Safeco Field, which we are dubbing the NEW Battle for Supreme Awfulness. Neither team can hit. Neither team can pitch. Neither team can do the hokey-pokey without falling over. Seattle manager and potty mouth John McLaren is on the hot seat while Washington manager Manny Acta is getting into fights with his players.

Still, the commissioner's office says the teams have to play the season out, so here are the pitching matchups:

   Friday: Shawn Hill (R) vs R.A. Dickey (R)
   Saturday: Tyler Clippard (R) vs Erik Bedard (L)
   Sunday: Tim Redding (R) vs Jarrod Washburn (L)

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is filling in for struggling Kenny G fan Miguel Batista. Dickey is 1-9 in his past 16 starts with a 7.87 ERA. His only win was as a Texas Ranger....over Seattle. Wake me up when this series is over.

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Today is the first day of the second go-around of interleague play so let's take a look at a few interesting matchups. First, the Marlins - Rays.

Earlier this season, these two Floridian teams were in first place in their respective divisions. They've both since fallen to second, but that's not bad for the teams with the lowest payrolls in the majors. The Rays have been led by a fantastic young rotation of starting pitchers, while the Marlins hit tater tots as if they were going out of style: they lead the NL in homers.

Still, both teams are at the very bottom of the attendance standings, but I'm not here to attack the folks in Florida for not showing up. Heck, who in their right mind wants to go see a baseball game in a scorching hot football stadium? It's a shame that the Marlins don't have some sort of cozy baseball park with a retractable roof, not unlike Miller Park. Or really, it's a shame Jeff Loria hasn't fully extorted 100% of stadium funding from the public. Same goes for Tropicana Field. It's a concrete gymnasium, not a baseball park.

Either way, here are your pitching matchups:

   Friday: Ryan Tucker (R) vs Andy Sonnanstine (R)
   Saturday: Mark Hendrickson (L) vs Matt Garza (R)
   Sunday: Ricky Nolasco (R) vs Edwin Jackson (R)

Also of note, Marlin first baseman and sassy senior Jorge Cantu returns to St. Petersburg for the first time since leaving the Devil Rays. He played for Tampa for four years, which is why we really never heard of him.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you danced and drank and screwed

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4 (10): Pity poor Billy Wagner! Wait, no, let's ditch the pity party and pile on the poop patrol in the Metsblogosphere. Sheadenfreude is the best schadenfreude of all. Wagner blew his third straight save opportunity by letting in the tying two runs in the ninth inning, wasting a stellar start by METS SAVIOR Johan Santana.

Phillies 3, Marlins 0: Jamie Moyer nearly made it through six innings of no-hit ball before opposing pitcher Scott Olsen lined a ball off Chase Utley's glove. Sigh. Olsen was just making up for his goat moment earlier, when his fifth inning wild pitch brought in Jimmy Rollins from third base. Catcher Matt Treanor's throwing error after fetching the wild pitch allowed Shane Victorino to score, and the Phillies prevented the sweep.

Royals 6, Rangers 5: Kansas City tallied two two-run tater tots to topple the Texas team that tends to tater tot from time to time. Rookie shortstop Mike Aviles collected his first ding-dong and is hitting well enough over the past week to bury Tony Pena Jr. on the depth chart. The Royals won despite walkin exactly zero times, a fact that I'm sure will garner a 1500 word blog entry from Joe Posnanski. Frank Francisco's wild pitch in the eighth scored pinch runner Pena; total nut job Jose Guillen sac-flied in the go-ahead run. ITS NICE THAT JOSH HAMILTON GOT HIS SHIT IN GEAR TOO BAD JOSE GUILLEN CAN'T.

Tigers 2, White Sox 1: Miguel Cabrera walkoff homered and then ate a big sandwich, possibly with mortadella, provolone, and sweet roasted red peppers.

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

  • Jonah Keri is a crazed sportswriter who somehow thinks he can attack Derek Jeter and somehow escape my roving, blog-reading eye. Sure, he makes a solid hypothesis and backs it up with factual evidence such as isolated power and points out age-based regression, but...wait, what was my point? NY Sun.

  • David Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog pens a fantastic critique of the Seattle organization, seeking to find out 'where it all went wrong'. Richie Sexson figures to be a main topic in this column. Baseball Analysts.

  • The Gaslamp Ball folks dig up some not-so-nice things about the Brothers Giles. I'm not really sure if any of this is true, but considering Marcus' reputation, I wouldn't doubt any of it. Gaslamp Ball.

  • Meech finally discovers the lowest point in Phillies history, in video form. You know, they imploded Veterans Stadium simply because this video was filmed there. The Fightins'.

  • What in God's name will happen to The Big Tilde dot com if the Tigers trade The Big Tilde? No matter, they just swept the White Sox. Detroit revolution! The Big Tilde.

  • Our own Camp Tiger Claw went on a date with Jonah Keri and Doug Flutie's brother last night and got into a shouting match with Ramon Hernandez. All in a day's work! Jonah Keri.
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No, I'm not talking about John Rocker. The radically religious folks who run Chick-Fil-A have worked out a deal with the folks who run Turner Field to introduce a new advertising mascot, a 40-foot tall, seven-and-a-half ton mechanical cow that will actually do the ridiculously racist tomahawk chop. The ugly ungulate will wear a sign that reads "Du Tha Chop. Eat Tha Chikin" and even sport a Braves hat. I think I just regurgitated my cud.

In what is obviously a marketing scramble in response to McDonald's new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, the Atlanta metro area Chick-Fil-A franchises have pooled their pickle money to purchase the huge bovine. A New Orleans area company that specializes in building Mardi Gras floats designed the creature, which was built in pieces in Valencia, Spain and shipped to New Orleans for assembly.

It'll be hoisted above Turner Field before the next homestand and terrorize Braves fans for the next five years. Chick-Fil-A even has food stands at the ballpark now (which are, of course, closed on Sundays). Jeff Francouer must be thrilled, but smart folks still choose burgers. Screw you, cows.

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Baseball has never really had much of a home-field advantage, especially when compared to the other major professional sports. In football, a loud endzone crowd can influence an opposing team's offense and cause false start penalties. In basketball, fans can have their collective voices reverberate off ceilings and cause distress to foul shooters. Even in hockey, fans can sneak into the control booth and turn off the freezers, thus melting the ice and causing general havoc.

But what of humble baseball? Historically, home teams usually win about 51% of games, barely an advantage at all. This season, however, everything's been turned on its ear: home teams are winning a whopping 57.5% of the games. According to Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto (subscription req'd), that's the highest home team winning percentage since 1931, when it was 58.2%.

The Red Sox lead the way with 26 home wins out of 33 games. That's almost a 79% success rate! Oakland's winning record is based mostly on the fact that they've played ten fewer games on the road than at home, where they are 21-16. The pitching staff has only given up 24 ding-dongs in 345 innings in the cavernous McAfee Coliseum. That's a real home-field advantage, especially for a team whose strength is not a reliance on tater tots.

Perhaps Oakland's location in the Pacific time zone helps too. According to the good people at Scientific American magazine, jet lag causes a slight disadvantage to visiting teams:

"So, let's say the New York Mets have to travel cross-country--and, so, through three time zones--for a four-game series against the Giants in San Francisco. According to the new research, the Mets would have a three-hour disadvantage, or 60 percent chance of losing the first game; their odds of winning would rise from 40 to 48 percent by the second day, and the Giant's advantage--at least the one based on circadian clocks--would dwindle to 51 percent by the third day. If there was a fourth game in the series, the teams would be equal in terms of their body clocks."

Flying across three time zones screws up one's Circadian rhythms, causing sleep deprivation and slows down players' cognitive and motor-skill abilities. Basically, if you don't get a good night's sleep, you won't be able to react to a 95 MPH heater from Tim Lincecum. Actually, most of the weak Mets team wouldn't be able to react to a 95 MPH heater from Tim Lincecum in Shea Stadium either.

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Here's what happened in baseball with 15 nickels of cocaine tied up in a sack

Marlins 6, Phillies 2: Yes, Cole Hamels was dominant, collecting 13 strikeouts and allowing just 3 hits, but two of those hits were tater tots by sassy senior Jorge Cantu, so don't shed no tears for Young King Cole. Tom Gordon pissed the game away for the Phils by loading the bases in the ninth before giving up the walkoff king dong to Dan Uggla. Kevin Gregg picked up the win despite blowing his fourth save when Chase Utley beat out an RBI infield single in the top half of the ninth.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 3 (13): Lucky for Billy Wagner! His blown save will not hurt the Mets tonight. Wagner gave up the game-tying three run ding dong to Mark Reynolds mere seconds after Reynolds claimed he got hit in the foot by an errant breaking ball. Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson said no, the at-bat continued, and Reynolds sent the game into extra innings. Carlos Beltran got Wagner off the hook by sending an Edgar Gonzalez pitch deeeeeeep over the right field fence at Shea in the 13th. That's a walkoff!

Tigers 5, White Sox 1: Justin Verlander pitched a four-hit complete game victory over the AL Central leading White Sox and brought the Tigers to the brink of a sweep. Heck, this was just Verlander's third win on the season but he might be the ace of the staff with Bonderman on the DL, Dontrelle in Lakeland, and Kenny Rogers with his hamfists directly up his ass. Still time for the Tigers to turn this season around, ya know, especially when the rest of the AL Central has the offensive efficiency of a bunch of dead retarded squirrels.

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Oh good, we'll be treated to a fine pitching matchup today as the Rays send Scott Kazmir to the hill to face John Lackey of the Angels. Both ace pitchers spent some time on the DL to start the season but have come out of their cocoons throwing pretty. Kazmir is 6-1 with a microscopic 1.40 ERA while John Lackey is 2-1 with 25 K's against just 6 walks.

The AL crème de la crème have split the first two games of the series, with the Rays romping all over Joe Saunders 13-4 on Monday and Jered Weaver shutting down the Rays offense 6-1 last night.

Let's keep it fair, gentlemen, and throw some strikes. The more batters who swing at your junk, the faster this game will move, and the more innings I can glog. Follow me after the jump:

I haven't played very many video games since the early 1990's, so stuff like this just blows my mind. Here's the cinematic trailer for the new Nintendo Wii game "Mario Super Sluggers" or something:


If memory serves me right, Nintendo Corp owns the Mariners. Perhaps new Seattle hitting coach Lee Elia is featured as a foul-mouthed Easter Egg in the game. And here's a video with actual gameplay that doesn't go very far to clearing up exactly why this is considered a 'baseball' video game.

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The most talked-about calf in St. Louis these days isn't tomorrow night's veal marsala at Giovanni's on the Hill. No, it belongs on the left leg of Albert Pujols. The Cardinals all-star first baseman strained his left calf while running out a grounder in the seventh inning of a 7-2 win over the Reds. He aggravated an injury that he suffered last Tuesday in a game against the Nats.

Poor kid had to be helped off the field by his teammates! Pujols contributed a tater tot in the win, but Cards fans everywhere worry for the future. Says GM John Mozeliak: "Based on what I saw - and I'm not a doctor - it was pretty bad." Oh you're not a doctor? Thanks for clearing that up.

Pujols is likely headed to the disabled list where he'll join ten St. Louis pitchers recuperating their various ouchies:

  • Adam Wainwright: Sprained right middle finger
  • Kelvin Jiménez: Bruised right hand
  • Joel Piñeiro: Right groin strain (kid's got two groins? hot)
  • Jason Isringhausen: Sucks
  • Brad Thompson: Right elbow inflammation
  • Chris Carpenter: Recovery from right elbow surgery
  • Matt Clement: Recovery from sprained goatee
  • Mark Mulder: SARS
  • Tyler Johnson: Left rotator surgery
  • Josh Kinney: West Nile virus

Hey, at least he'll have his choice of gents to throw him batting practice.

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Here's what happened in baseball after I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse

Orioles 10, Red Sox 6: Oh my oh my I was just wondering what was eating Hideki Okajima but the good folks in the AP sports bureau solved that mystery for me. The Ori-LOLs own his sorry ass!

    "Okajima has allowed eight earned runs in 5 1-3 innings against Baltimore, an ERA of 13.50. In his other games, he's given up just one run in 22 2-3 innings, an ERA of 0.40."

Well shit. That explains how Okie let in a two-run Aubrey Huff single in the seventh inning that knotted the game at six. After Tito brought in Manny Delcarmen, Kevin Millar put the O's ahead with a sac fly. And that flat-brimmed sonofoabitch George Sherill pitched the ninth in a non-save opportunity.

Indians 1, Twins 0: It's about time the Indians offense provided C.C. Sabathia with some consarned run support! Yes, the big mound on the mound needed just one run from his mates in recording his seventh career shutout. Aw never mind the pomp and circumstance, it was just the Twins. Hey, Josh Barfield is back at second base for the Indians! That'll help the offense! Yecch.

Nationals 7, Pirates 6: Lastings Milledge cannot be contained. And if you try to contain him, he will unleash a two-run ninth inning ding-dong off the only solid closer in the NL Central to help his team score 7 runs for the first time since May. Yes, Matt Capps blew his first save opportunity in 16 tries by allowing the game-winner. Ryan Doumit's stellar night of two doubles and two tater tots was ruined.

Astros 6, Brewers 1: Roy Oswalt remembered how to pitch well and Lance Berkman rewarded his teammates efforts with his 19th tater tot of the season. More importantly, only one of Julian Tavarez' four runs allowed were earned, but the error was his. HOW IS THAT NOT EARNED?

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

  • Adam Rubin gets to the heart of the matter with the Mets organization and lays the blame directly on Omar Minaya. I agree; Willie Randolph has been handed a team with a farm system in shambles. NY Daily News.

  • The Brewers are going to be ponying up almost $100 in free giveaways per game to fans! All they want in return is a 30,000 person focus group on how to make the bullpen not suck so much. Here's a hint: have Gagne murdered. Brewers Blog.

  • Joe Posnanski pens the best and most succinctly amazing piece about Junior Griffey. JoeBlog.

  • Meech thinks that Adam Eaton cannot dress himself properly. I disagree. He dresses fine for someone with an IQ of 40. The Fightins'.

  • Enrico wants a Schmitter. Bad. The 700 Level.

  • Derek Jacques questions the sanity of the headline writers at MLB.com. If that iPhone thing works out, I will never question anything MLB.com does. The Weblog that Derek Built.

  • Ronny Paulino is persona non gratis among the Pirates pitching staff. Also persona non gratis among the Pirates pitching staff is anyone with pitching talent. Bucs Dugout.

  • Go listen to the new Hold Steady album. Commenter Taco Time for Mom & Dad implores you. Brooklyn Vegan.
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Congratulations to Walkoff Walk commenter Matt_T for making the 5000th comment in Walkoff Walk history! Although if you take away my comments and CTC's comments, that was probably just the 85th comment. Still, we've been blogging for just about four months now and it feels good to hit a major milestone.

In case you were interested, the first ever comment on WoW was back in February and the 1000th comment was on opening day.

Thanks again to all the commenters!

Via the good folks at Squawking Baseball comes this fantastic video from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday:


Yes, MLB.com will be providing real-time video highlights of baseball games on the new iPhone. Yes, MLB.com did something forward-thinking with technology instead of locking it up behind a archaic paywall. Yes, you can now watch Julio Lugo ground into a double play while on line at the grocery store.

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Our favorite emo Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker was kind enough to transcribe a good portion of the pregame remarks by new Seattle hitting coach Lee Elia. After blathering on about treating his players like shit (and abusing his wife and children), Lee reflects on organizational change by giving the writers his secret for making a delicious and easy breakfast:

    "In everything in life, sometimes change is better,'' he said. "Sometimes you make an omelette in a baggie and put it in boiling water and it comes out just as juicy and even better than if you fry it.''

Jesus Christ, Lee! Boiling those Ziploc baggies is toxic. The Ziploc people do not recommend using their bags in boiling water because the baggies are made of a polyethylene plastic that softens at about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so that plastic would surely melt. There's no real scientific proof that there are carcinogens in the plastic baggies but I'll be goddamned if I'm going to test that hypothesis by having a cheddar and melted plastic omelet.

Wait a minute....holy crap, Lee Elia is trying to kill his wife and children by giving them cancerous omelets!

(We owe a six pack of Cokes to the folks at U.S.S. Mariner)

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Here's what happened in baseball when I got free from the middleman

Giants 3, Nationals 2: Don't give up on the National League West so fast, dear readers! A day after the Pads completed a four-game sweep over the Mets, the Giants did the same nasty thing to the Nats. Heck, things have gotten so bad for the poor-hitting Washington team that they were shut down by the once-struggling face of the Giants franchise. San Francisco actually has a seven game road winning streak now, and has closed to within 5.5 games of NL West leading Arizona. Just don't let Sabean think this team can actually contend, mmkay?

Reds 9, Marlins 4: Ken Griffey led the Reds tater tot attack with his 600th career dong, a fact that did not pass this blogger by. Paul Bako had his first career multi-homer game and superstar Edinson Volquez picked up the W despite allowing five walks in six innings. Reds shortstop Jerry Hairston Jr. left the game after fracturing his thumb on a stolen base attempt. He'll join other Reds shortstops Jeff Keppinger and Alex Gonzalez on the DL. In other words, watch your fucking back, Barry Larkin.

Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2: New Mariners hitting coach Lee Elia is already making hay with the depressed Seattle lineup! Ten whole hits in ten innings! Three whole runs out of fourteen baserunners! The winnings run scored on a safety squeeze in the tenth by Yankee/Cardinal/Met castoff Miguel Cairo! World's biggest Kenny G fan Miguel Batista blew a seventh-inning 2-1 Mariners lead, allowing the tying RBI single by fresh-off-the-DL Vernon Wells.

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Congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. and his fans for reaching a vaunted round-numbered milestone. Kid hit career tater tot number 600 tonight off Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins. Make no mistake about it: Ken Griffey Jr. was and is a superior baseball talent and a first ballot hall-of-famer.

Griffey hasn't driven in 100 RBI in nine years or slugged over .600 in ten years but he also hasn't played for any good teams in twelve years. It's not his fault the Seattle and Cincinnati organizations are/were so poorly run. Still, he's got ten Gold Glove Awards, seven Silver Sluggers, thirteen All-Star appearances, and one bright shiny American League MVP award. (It probably should have been two. Juan Gonzalez? Really?)

Most of all, we'll remember Griffey for being an entertainer, able to climb centerfield walls to record outs on would-be ding-dongs and willing to give up his jock to a fan or pay his debts in pennies.

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Sure, the Seattle Mariners have the worst record in baseball. And sure, they have the worst on-base percentage in the American League. And yeah, they are second-to-last in runs scored, hits, RBIs, batting average and slugging percentage. And of course, they're doing all this with a $117 million payroll. But did that really mean the higher-ups had to fire the hitting coach, Jeff Pentland, who was the only remaining coach from the Mike Hargrove regime? Well, yes, unless you are emo Seattle beat writer Geoff Baker:

    "As you may have heard, Jeff Pentland has been fired as hitting coach of the Mariners. To me, this is akin to firing the first officer aboard the Titanic for not spotting the iceberg before the captain plowed into it. Or, perhaps the ship's cook for giving the first officer a touch of food poisoning that led him to go for a glass of water before not spotting the iceberg that was rammed."

Or perhaps, the man who is actually paid money to help professional hitters get over slumps using some sort of motivational and instructional approach. Baker may think that Pentland is merely a sacrificial lamb, but really the team is simply on the verge of exploding the entire franchise and dumping salaries left and right. Too bad they have only two trade-worthy players: Ichiro and Erik Bedard. So! Sayonara, assistant to the traveling secretary. Peace out, peanut vendor. See ya later, Mariner Moose.

At least Geoff Baker and I agree on one thing: the new hitting coach, 70-year-old traveling salesman Lee Elia, is the worst possible fucking thing that could ever happen to any team ever.

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The Florida Marlins are having trouble drawing fans, even while they sit just 2.5 games out of the N.L. Wild Card at an unexpected 34-28 record. They're hitting, they're pitching, they're fielding, but they just can't draw fans at home. Just 12,444 fans turned out yesterday to see Corey Patterson hit a meaningless solo tater tot in the ninth inning as the Marlins romped 9-2 over the Reds. But the night before, the team drew 25,289 folks to witness the berth of a new delicious mascot. Witness Li'l Billy:

    "With a video spoof of Austin Powers as introduction, the Marlins unveiled the latest addition in their "eight-figure" marketing arsenal at Saturday night's game at Dolphin Stadium: Lil' Billy. The mini-Billy the Marlin mascot looks about half the size of the original Billy, but wears a 1/3 on his jersey. He was introduced between innings and the two big-billed fish danced together."

Wow, Jeff Loria! That's the best you could come up with? That'll really keep the asses in the seats. Forget the 99 degree weather with 99 percent humidity, because I WANT TO SEE THE SMALLER FISH MASCOT! HERE, TAKE ALL MY TAX DOLLARS FOR YOUR NEW STADIUM, MR. LORIA! You know i wasn't planning on going to the game until they added that smaller version of the already existing mascot. But now... I'VE GOT MARLINS FEVER!

(we owe a Coke to Fish Stripes)

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Legendary sportscaster Jim McKay passed away last week. Sports fans everywhere remember his work calling several Olympics and hosting the Wide World of Sports on ABC, but Maryland residents remember the Loyola College alum for his work at the behest of his adopted state, including his minority ownership in the Baltimore Orioles.

Way back in the halcyon days of 1993, McKay joined a group that included ambulance-chaser Peter Angelos, tennis star Pam Shriver, novelist Tom Clancy, Diner director Barry Levinson and some black dude to purchase the Orioles from owner Eli Jacobs, who was selling the team to recover from personal bankruptcy. Fast forward fifteen years and it is the Orioles success as a team that has been bankrupted. Zing!

After Angelos' group defeated Bill DeWitt's bid to purchase the team, McKay was quoted as such:

"Our reason was we love the Orioles, and we thought local ownership was vital. The most frequent thing we hear from fans when we go to games is not 'Congratulations,' but 'Thank you.' "

After McKay's passing, I can only guess that Angelos will assume control over McKay's small percentage ownership in the team and devour his corpse.

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Here's what happened in baseball when I kept drinking and pouring till I felt the floor

Padres 8, Mets 6: As we sat down for dinner at the local watering hole that was showing this game on the TV's behind the bar, I told my girlfriend that although the Padres were down 6-4 in the seventh inning, the Mets would surely blow the lead. Tony Clark's eighth inning pinch-hit ding-dong proved me to be the second smartest person in the bar, second only to the man who sent back the soup with the fingernail floating in it. Billy Wagner blew his third save of the year by allowing Clark's first 2008 tater tot. Starter Pedro Martinez allowed ten hits in five innings and the Mets suffered a four game sweep to fall 7.5 games behind the division-leading Phillies.

Phillies 6, Braves 3: Those Phillies were the beneficiaries of the shaky Braves bullpen this weekend and completed a three-game sweep thanks to some piss-poor ninth inning work by Blaine Boyer. Ryan Howard's two RBI double was the crushing blow off Boyer which allowed Brad Lidge to come in and record his 17th save. Chipper Jones and his .420 batting average were sorely missed in Atlanta's lineup.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: J.D. Drew's tater tot helped rookie Justin Masterson record his third win on the season. Drew's sixth inning dong off reliever Sean "Not the Jew" Green put Boston ahead for good and sent Seattle reeling to their 15th loss in 17 games.

Athletics 7, Angels 3 (12): Mark Ellis' walkoff tater quad (grand dong? tetra tot?) allowed Oakland to salvage the final game of a tough, tough AL West throwdown series. The scrappy second basemen ripped Chris Bootcheck's first pitch off the left-field foul pole (fair pole? ding-dong decider?) but still gets the stinkeye from us here at Walkoff Walk. TAKE SOME GODDAMNED PITCHES! WE COULD HAVE HAD THE SHRIMP VIDEO!

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It's another sunny and brutally hot Sunday in the Northeast United States so I can't even imagine how harsh the conditions are in Atlanta or Miami. Here's what's happening in the national pastime today:

- Florida leads Cincinnati 9-2 in the ninth inning and Griffey failed in his weekend quest to hit #600. Corey Patterson tater-totted!
- The Phillies and Braves are knotted at 3 at the seventh inning stretch and the game is on TBS, folks.
- Rookie Justin Masterson pitched a gem for the Bosox who lead the M's 2-1 in the seventh.
- Roy Halladay notched a win for the Blue Jays who ended a four-game skid 5-4 over the Orioles.
- My Yankees are beating the Royals behind good outings from Joba Chamberlain and Dan "I'm not Don Geiss" Giese.

Your ESPN game of the night features the Cubs and Dodgers, so go enjoy that, folks.

Your 2008 MLB Draft Update

| | Comments (9)
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    Here are some of the highlights from the first and later rounds of yesterday's draft:

  • The White Sox selected their own GM's son in the sixth round. Wichita State outfielder Kenny Williams Jr. is the son of Ken Williams. No telling what PECOTA thinks of the kid or what Williams thinks of the dumb computer.

  • Twenty-one college players were selected in the first round, a record. I blame Billy Beane and his book about money and balls.

  • Only one high school pitcher was taken in the first round, Gerrit Cole, by the Yankees. That's thinking outside the box, Cash!

  • The Red Sox took three players from the greater Northeast region in the last three rounds last night, including a catcher from Yale and a kid from Rhode Island. Tawmmy from Quinzee was not available for comment.

  • The Royals drafted John Lamb, who missed this past college season after a car accident left him with a hairline fracture in his elbow. No, no, you're doing it all wrong, kid! You're supposed to suffer a massive career-ending injury after being drafted by the Royals!

  • In more nepotism news, the Tigers drafted Alex Avila, son of Detroit assistant GM Al Avila.

  • I never want to hear the word 'toolsy' again unless it's referring to guys at the Jersey Shore.

The second day of drafty goodness starts right now, so head over to MLB.com to follow it because I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than glog another day of that.

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Yet another plot twist in the conspiracy between a high school pitcher and catcher to bean an umpire emerges as the Los Angeles Dodgers have drafted the pitcher's older brother, shortstop Ethan Martin. In case you've forgotten, Martin was called out on strikes during the fourth inning of a high school championship game in Georgia, argued the call with the umpire, and threw his batting helmet in disgust. The next inning, catcher Matt Hill ducked out of the way of Ethan's brother Cody's fastball, thus beaning home plate umpire Jeff Scott directly in the mask.

While Ethan Martin wasn't directly involved in the incident and cannot be punished for it, the connection is possible and the evidence is on YouTube. Perhaps Cody thought up a clever way to get revenge on his brother's behalf or maybe the idea was Ethan's all along. Or even crazier, perhaps Matt Hill was acting alone and called for the fastball with the full intention of ducking out of the way. No matter what, we can't judge these kids for their transgressions because we just don't have the authority, the proper perspective, or even all the pertinent information.

Still, don't you find it amusing that Martin was drafted by the Dodgers? None of this would have happened if the catcher hadn't intentionally dodged that pitch.

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Here's what happened in baseball when it was pushing you out into the arms of 1994

Phillies 5, Reds 0: Cole Hamels owns the Reds. Kid picked up his second career win against the Cincinnati Dustys, this time with a complete game 3-hit shutout effort in which hecamethisclose to allowing Ken Griffey's 600th career home run. Didn't happen. Wasn't to be. No dice. Jimmy Rollins reached first in the third inning when shortstop Paul Janish couldn't handle a pop fly, but Rollins was benched because the guy put his head down and didn't hustle his buns down the line. No problems, Eric Bruntlett picked up the slack.

Red Sox 7, Rays 1: Tampa Bay continues its downward spiral towards mediocrity and the Red Sox continue their ascent to the best record in the American League, but the real good stuff is happening between pitches. To wit: Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis got into a shouting match in the Sox dugout and had to be separated by trainers, James Shields hit Coco Crisp with a pitch prompting Crisp to charge the mound and throw some punches and both were ejected, Jonny Gomes piled on the rumble and beat up Coco Crisp and was ejected, and the dumb game started an hour earlier because of the dumb Celtics. In actual game action, Manny Ramirez tater-totted.

Pirates 4, Astros 3: I wish I could write as well as the fella from the AP who put this together:

Paul Maholm pitched eight strong innings, Jason Michaels hit a three-run homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Houston Astros 4-3 on Thursday night. Jason Bay added a run-scoring triple to break a 3-3 tie in the fifth, helping Pittsburgh beat Houston for the second consecutive night. The game was played in a crisp 2 hours, 24 minutes.

Man, that says just about everything that needs to be said. Crisp, indeed.

Braves 7, Marlins 5: Hey, the Braves held on to a lead! Kudos! Chipper Jones hit his 400th career ding-dong and collected four hits overall to raise his batting average to a robust .418, which is 18 whole points above the magic line. Jair Jurrjens had a pretty shitty outing but the Braves pen pitched three entire scoreless innings. That might be a record streak for them so far this season.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (12)
night game.jpg I hope you're ready to be disappointed, sports fans!

    WILL you please go back and read my entire draft recap? I worked very hard.
  • CAN CC Sabathia, Tim Redding, Jose Contreras, and Kevin Millwood all match Cole Hamels and pitch shutouts so my fantasy team lowers its ERA a bit?

  • ARE Braves fans prepared for another bullpen meltdown against the Marlins?

  • WHATEVER will I do tonight with no Yankees game on TV?

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

HOLY SHIT JASON GIAMBI WALKOFF HOMER!

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Is it drafty in here or is it just my hypersensitivity to cold air? Either way, let's get this 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft off on the right foot. Full disclosure: I have no idea what I'm talking about. I have done zero research and know next to nothing about the players who will be selected today. I don't know the state of each team's farm system, I lack any knowledge about the individual teams' needs, and I certainly know nothing about the 20-80 scale of rating teenagers' tools.

I'll basically be learning as I go with the XM broadcast crew and possibly making things up. So take this glog with a grain of salt, and if you want intelligent coverage, go to Baseball Analysts or Baseball Prospectus. They're professionals and they're paid to know stuff. I'm an amateur and I attempt to entertain you for free.

Thanks to my partner in blogging, Camp Tiger Claw, for feeding me information as the draft happens.

Our snarky and/or glib bullshit starts after the jump:

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This year marks the first time that MLB's amateur draft is being televised, which totally makes sense because we'll all be home at 2PM EDT to watch high school kids' names read aloud. But the real benefit to the viewer is the chance to see some of their favorite former major leaguers sit with the higher-ups and 'represent' their former teams. Here are some highlights:

   • Dodgers: Maury Wills
   • Giants: Felipe Alou, J.T. Snow
   • Mariners: Harold Reynolds
   • Padres: Dave Winfield
   • Reds: Ken Griffey Sr.
   • Rockies: Vinny Castilla
   • Tigers: Al Kaline, Willie Horton
   • Twins: Tony Oliva

Holy crap, the Tigers got Willie Horton out of prison on a furlough! Watch out, Erin Andrews! Oh...wrong Willie Horton. My bad.

Hey, Harold Reynolds is going to be back on ESPN for the first time in almost two years. Watch out, Erin Andrews!

Also, Tony Oliva is Cuban. Watch out, Erin Andrews!

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If you want to read some ridiculous baseball commentary without any shred of insight, join us later today at 2PM EDT as I will be liveglogging the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft. As usual, I'll be listening to the XM Radio baseball channel, featuring coverage by former Mets GM Jim Duquette and hosts Holden Kushner and Grant Paulsen.

I'll try to cover the entire first round which features 30 picks, each with a 5 minute time limit. Using simple math off the top of my head, the first round should last 27 hours.

Common knowledge says that Tampa Bay is deciding between two players with their top pick: FSU catcher Buster Posey and Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham. Word has it that the Rays will take Beckham because Posey's price-tag is too steep. There's also Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, but his agent is Scott Boras, so that will most likely be the Pirates problem. We'll see what happens at 2PM!

(UPDATE: I'm glogging over here, folks)

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As per super beat writer extraordinaire John Fay of the super newspaper extraordinaire Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds outfielder Ryan Freel strained his hamstring in last night's contest in Philadelphia and is headed to the DL. Who might replace him on the active roster, John?

Freel being out probably mean Corey Patterson will be back. With Ken Griffey Jr. hurting, the Reds need an outfielder. Patterson on the roster. I know that won't be a popular choice. But there aren't any alternatives. Norris Hopper still can't thorw. Chris Dickerson is on the roster, but he's hitting .253 with 44 strikeouts in 154 at-bats.

This is the second best Corey-related news I've heard all week.

In other news, when asked about the latest Reds call-up, 5-foot-6 pitcher Danny Ferrera, Dusty Baker had this to say:

"He looks like the bat boy," Dusty Baker said. "But it's a great story. You've either got to be above the speed limit to be successful or under it."

Just don't be exactly at the speed limit or you're fucked.


Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp struck out swinging to end the eighth inning last night but Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba dropped the pitch. Torrealba tagged Kemp out, Kemp took umbrage with the manner in which he was tagged, and a brawl erupted.

The Dodgers ended up losing the game, their ninth loss in the past twelve games. Think this brawl will spark them to go on some crazy winning streak and catch the slumping Diamondbacks? Yeah, me neither.

Thanks to Meech for his help on this story.

Walkoff Walk's number one Braves fan Matt_T alerts us to this press release from MLB.com about a news conference the Atlanta Braves have scheduled for this morning:

John Smoltz has said that he'll be content if he never throws another pitch. Now, just two days after he attempted to alleviate stress on his shoulder with a move to the bullpen, the Braves veteran pitcher finds this to be a more defined possibility.

The Braves have scheduled an 11:30 a.m. ET news conference at Turner Field and at that time, they are expected to discuss Smoltz's future. There has been talk that he will need to undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

Oh my stars and garters, is John Smoltz retiring? Somebody put on ESPNEWS at 11:30 this morning and let us know!

I'm so sorry I criticized your blown save yesterday, Mr. Smoltz! Please don't retire!

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In one of those West Coast-type games that you most likely slept through, Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez made just his second start of the 2008 season in front of real live actual Mets fans in San Francisco. He was successful, throwing six whole innings and allowing just three runs. That's one of them quality starts. Heck, Pedro even added two hits and an RBI with the ol' wooden bat. His opponent last night, however, did not fare so well. Take it, San Jose Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly:

    The Giants' season is taking on a familiar pattern: Two steps forward, one plunge off a 30-story building. On a blustery Tuesday night, they might as well have fallen from a Manhattan skyscraper. Barry Zito, Vinnie Chulk and some shaky glovework contributed to an eight-run fifth inning - the largest by a Giants opponent in more than two years - as the New York Mets took a 9-6 victory at AT&T Park.

   Pedro Martinez, who pitched for the first time since April 1, tossed six innings and even lined two hits to earn the win. He and Zito once met in a charged playoff atmosphere, but Martinez is trying to work his way back from a hamstring injury and Zito is just trying to find his way out of a fog.

Zito ended up allowing six runs on seven hits and five walks and the Giants' infield defense was about effective as a bunch of retarded squirrels, committing three errors. Even The Most Prodigious Defensive Shortstop in the History of Baseball© Omar Vizquel bobbled a would-be double play that led to a run.

After leaving the game in the seventh, Pedro was greeted by thunderous cheers from the hundreds of displaced Mets fans who invaded AT&T Park. That's just rubbing salt on the wounds for the thousands of disappointed Giants fans.

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Here's what happened in baseball where three pitchers made their first starts of 2008

Joba Chamberlain: Chubbycheeks averaged 95 MPH on his fastball but he couldn't exactly locate it too well. Sure, he struck out three Jays in 2 1/3 innings but also walked four gentlemen and only threw first pitch strikes to 6 of 12 batters. Joba even balked! Quel horreur! No decision.

Radhames Liz: Not bad! Kid struck out Justin Morneau, Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, and Alexi Casilla. Liz breezed through five innings of shutout ball before getting lifted in the sixth after giving up two consecutive RBI doubles. Hey, shit happens but you had the Best 2008 Pitching Debut of the Night. Win!

Tom Mastny: What a stinker. One and a third innings pitched and he gave up tater tots to Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley. The six-foot-six righty also walked three gentleman and comes away from this game having increased his ERA from 10.80 to 21.00. Yipes! This is what you get for signing Jake Westbrook to a long term deal, Indians fans. Loss.

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

  • Duk questions the record for home runs in a single season by a second baseman. Is it 42? Is it 43? Will Chase Utley break it anyway? Big League Stew.

  • Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is something something Toronto something King of the Hill something something. Food Court Lunch.

  • Byron speaks on behalf of Cubs fans everywhere and uses a clever literary device to express his displeasure with such a late and close game. Glad to see Cubs fans focusing on something besides their inevitable disappointment. GoatRiders of the Apocalypse.

  • Someone named Tom threw out the first pitch at Petco Park with his feet. Because he has no arms. Quick, somebody alert Dean Kamen. Gaslamp Ball.

  • POSTGAME AUDIO FROM SALOMON TORRES! Brewers Blog.

  • Rudy Seanez will beat your ass with his martial arts and/or changeup. The 700 Level.

  • An interactive database of the top 20 music videos from every week between 1980 and 1998. God, I miss 1991. Grabb.it TV.
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For a team that has blown five of thirteen saves this season and lost fourteen of sixteen one-run games, you'd hope they had some young stud to bring up from the triple-A farm team. You know, some fireballer with a wicked curveball that makes hitters look foolish, or some crafty sidearmer with a submarine delivery that brings sluggers to their knees.

Or, if the team was the Atlanta Braves, they just pull some old fart off the disabled list and hope he can regain his superior closing form from 4 years ago. Yes, John Smoltz is back! In bullpen form! Manager Bobby Cox says that Smoltz will split the closer duty with Rafael Soriano and Manny Acosta, which is a pretty great idea that more managers should utilize.

But the question we're all asking is: what song will provide the entrance music when Smoltz is summoned from the pen?

"At this point it could be Barney for all I care," Smoltz said Monday after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. "As long as those [bullpen] doors open when I push on them."

That's good to hear a professional baseball player cares more about actual pitching performance than some silly song played over the stadium sound system. If only Brad Lidge could feel the same way.

Oh by the way, his first night as a closer was a miserable failure.

(via Baseball Musings)

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What do we make of the wrist injury to David Ortiz? What do we know about the wrist injury to David Ortiz? What happens to the Red Sox without David Ortiz? These are the questions Red Sox fans and normal, human baseball fans alike are asking this morning in the wake of a supposed torn ligament in Big Papi's wrist that will sideline him at least a month. Says Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald:

    "According to a source, Ortiz' wrist will be immobilized for roughly the next month to determine whether the injury can heal on its own. If it cannot, the Red Sox and Ortiz very well may face a harsh reality: Season-ending surgery. 'Surgery is very unlikely,' manager Terry Francona said, 'but he will be placed on the disabled list, (in a) soft cast.'"

There's a possibility the ligament is torn, and if it doesn't show improvement, Ortiz will have the surgery. That's shades of 2001 for Red Sox fans, when Nomar Garciaparra went under the knife and, after healing, effectively went from a batting champion to a soccer player's husband. Shit.

You all know I'm a Yankees fan and if I had to pick a Red Sox player to root for, it'd be Manny Ramirez. Still, David Ortiz is a true ambassador and spokesperson for the game. People who didn't like baseball very much were turned on to the game by Ortiz. I'm a baseball fan before I'm a Yankees fan, so I am hoping beyond hope that Big Papi comes back soon and in full strength. Although I suppose this whole situation really screws up that Babe Ruth nonsense for the MLB corporation.

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Here's what happened in baseball when you put a hurtin' on me

Phillies 5, Reds 4: My oh my did the tater tots fly tonight in Philadelphia. Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion ding-donged for the visiting Reds and Chris Coste, Pedro Feliz, and major-league leader Chase Utley homered for the home team. That's Utley's fifth game in a row and the seventh game of eight with a ding dong. That's a lot of ding dongs for someone who endorses Tastykakes! Kyle Kendrick 'earned' the win despite raising his ERA to a fat, round 5.00 with the four runs allowed in five innings. Brad Lidge has now saved fourteen straight for the first place Phils.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 3: Winning games without David Ortiz is hard, y'all! Mike Lowell's eighth inning single brought in Manny Ramirez for the go-ahead run, but Hideki Okajima blew his fifth save in the bottom of the inning, giving up four runs on four hits and a walk. Yipes! Adam Jones had the big bases-loaded double over Jacoby Ellsbury's leaping try in left field. Sheesh, rookie...Manny Ramirez would have caught that ball, high-fived a fan in the stands, and completed the Sunday New York Times crossword on the way down. George Sherrill converted his 18th save in 20 chances.

Braves 7, Marlins 5 (10): This game had more blown saves than a busload of Kyle Farnsworths. Well really, the game only had three, but they all stunk worse than a busload of Rich Garceses. John Smoltz had a less-than-triumphant return to the closer role and proceeded to give up a two-out, two-run single to Jeremy Hermida. Whoops! Handed a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the inning, Marlins closer Kevin Gregg threw a wild pitch that allowed Jeff Francouer to score. The game went to extras where Yunel Escobar ended the insanity and walkoff tater-totted off Logan Kensing. No saves were awarded.

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You might think we here at Walkoff Walk have an East Coast bias, and you'd actually be wrong. Think I'm crazy? Just look at all the horrendously sad Mariners and Padres posts we've done over the past few weeks!

Still, the National League East has proven to be a fascinating division so far this season so we're going to plant our lips firmly on their collective tush. Save for the horrendously bad Washington Nationals team, the surprising Marlins have added to a nice four-team race for first. Starting tonight, the third place Braves will host the second place Marlins in a four game series at the Ted.

Here are your pitching matchups:

     Monday: Scott Olsen (L) vs Jo-Jo Reyes (L)
     Tuesday: Burke Badenhop (R) vs Jorge Campillo (R)
     Wednesday: Mark Hendrickson (L) vs Tom Glavine (L)
     Thursday: Ricky Nolasco (R) vs Jair Jurrjens (R)

The Braves are 22-7 at home, one of the three best records in the majors alongside the Cubs and Red Sox. The Fish on the road? Ehhh, not bad at 13-12, and they're also 3-2 versus the Braves so far this season. If Glavine doesn't get strike calls when he works the corners, I fully expect him and catcher Brian McCann to conspire and boink the ump in the head.

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Southpaw Shawn Estes, protagonist of Walkoff Walk's favorite comeback story of the early season, is going to have to make another comeback. After busting his ass for two years in the Padres minor league system to recover from Tommy John surgery, he's going back on the disabled list with a borkened thumb.

It was a bittersweet moment for Mr. Estes who had just collected his 100th career victory against the Cubs two weeks earlier. He 'celebrated' a Padres win over the Giants by tripping on the stairs between the visiting clubhouse and dugout at AT&T Park, breaking his left thumb.

Here's Shawn in his own, sad, self-deprecating words:

"I kind of feel I'm going to wake up at some point and say, 'That was a pretty realistic dream,' " said Estes, his badly swollen left thumb in a splint. "I've been through a lot the last couple of years. I'm very disappointed, borderline depressed. I'll have to stay as far away from the Golden Gate (Bridge) as I can for the next couple of days."

Some more words of advice, Shawn, if you want to keep yourself cheered up: stay away from Scott Rolen, Kenji Johjima, and the entire Washington Nationals organization.

In happier news, Paul DePodesta's first experiment in his reign with the Padres starts tonight as Korean righthander Cha Seung Baek gets thrown into the fire against the NL-West-killing (14-2 record) Cubbies. Yipes.

May in Review

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Remember Opening Day? That was two months 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, Camp Tiger Claw 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

May was a crazy month! Who among us thought the Florida Marlins or the Tampa Bay Rays would be in first, or that the Tigers and Yankees would be in second-to-last place, or that Hillary Clinton would still be in the Democratic race? Not me!

There were a ton of great National League hitters this month and a few hitters in the American League who weren't all that shabby. As for pitchers, you'll be surprised about who we pick and who we nearly picked.

Okay, shut up Rob, let's get right to the picks.

After the jump, of course...

Here's what happened in baseball when you felt weak without me

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: It's been a long-ass time since B.J. Ryan blew a save. Over a year to be exact, but he did miss most of 2007 because he stunk with a borkened elbow that required Tommy John surgery. Anyway, with a 3-2 lead, kid had runners on second and third and one out, so he intentionally walked Mike Napoli to load the bases. After getting Juan Rivera to strike out, Ryan hit Howie Kendrick with a pitch to force in the tying run. With Ryan's control seemingly absent, I was all ready to post the shrimp video when he merely gave up a walkoff single to Maicer Izturis. Game, set, match and the Angels took two of three from the reeling Blue Jays.

Athletics 13, Rangers 8: Oh, that vaunted Texas Rangers offense was feeling so good about theyselves after dropping a five-spot off A's starter Greg Smith in the bottom of the sixth, taking an 8-4 lead. But then! Alack and alas! Rangers reliever Jamey Wright relieved Scott Feldman (whose bar mitzvah I went to ten years ago...he had karaoke!) and Wright promptly gave the game away to the suddenly power-hitting A's. Jack Cust and Mark Ellis both homered as the first eight batters of the inning reached safely. Oy!

Phillies 7, Marlins 5: Uncle Cholly made all the right moves in the big Phillies win including sending up slugger Geoff Jenkins to pinch hit for little So Taguchi in the sixth inning: Jenkins hit the game-tying two-run ding-dong and Jamie Moyer stayed in the game long enough to earn his 236th career win. THAT'S AS MANY AS WHITEY FORD AND HE WAS A TRUE YANKEE. Pat Burrell had the go-ahead double in the seventh and Chase Utley hit his league-leading 20th tater tot. Mike Jacobs' two home runs went for naught, not only in the game but also because my girlfriend had him benched on her fantasy team. Whoops!

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Hey pal, if you want to see two teams battle it out for first place, check out TBS today at 1:35 EDT as they bring us the Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies playing their rubber game at Citzens Bank Park. Your pitching matchup is young stud southpaw Andrew Miller taking on someone old enough to be his great-grandfather, old crafty southpaw Jamie Moyer. Winner gets to say they were in first place in the National League East at the end of June 1st. And you can take that one to the bank.

Your Sunday morning moment of "OUCH" comes direct from Meech of TheFightins.com. Please to enjoy Marlins catcher Matt Treanor taking a curveball off his nuts:


Actually, why would anyone enjoy that video? Especially Matt's volleyball-playing wife Misty. I'm sure her dreams of makin' superstar athlete babies have been...uh...shattered.