Rob Iracane: July 2008 Archives

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

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Lost in all the Manny mess and the Maddux miasma is the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers STILL need a friggin' shortstop. Rumors have been floating around for the past month but nothing has happened since July 1st. Well, except, of course, Nomar Garciaparra becoming the starting shortstop for the team and then getting hurt, forcing the Dodgers to go with...sigh...Royals castoff Angel Berroa.

So let's throw some names against the wall and see which ones cause Ned Colletti to make a crazy trade:

  • Jack Wilson (PIT) - Pirates wanted too much
  • Brian Roberts (BAL) - not even a shortstop, and there's no chance
  • Michael Young (TEX) - why would the Rangers even deal him?
  • Adam Everett (MIN) - THE TWINS NEED HIM
  • Cal Ripken (BAL) - Holiday Inn Express won't budge
  • Snuffy Stirnweiss (NYY) - killed in 1958 when his train plummeted into Newark Bay
  • Brian Bocock (SFG) - giggle giggle snort!
  • John MacDonald (TOR) - who?
  • David Eckstein (TOR) - perfect fit on a mediocre team of veterans
  • Marco Scutaro (TOR) - cripes, how many shortstops does J.P. Ricciardi have?
  • Tomas Perez (HOU) - he still plays? For the Round Rock Express?

So I guess they'll be stuck getting David Eckstein from the Blue Jays. He's a gamer!

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Our friend at the New York Daily News Jesse Spector finally worked up the nerve to approach New York Yankees Detroit Tigers reliever Kyle Farnsworth for an interview. Of course, he did it the morning before Farnsworth was traded, so this convo between these two otherwise disparate gents is mostly worthless, except for the extreme awkwardness within:

1. If you could trade places for one day with anyone in baseball, who would it be?
Kyle Farnsworth: No idea. Go to the next one.

2. Who's your favorite athlete to watch in another sport?
KF: Hmm. I have no idea. Next one.

...

4. What is one thing people need to stop talking about?
KF: Uhh...I have no idea. I'll try to think of something.

Awkward! Okay, okay, I edited that for maximum hilarity, but really, could there possibly be a worse time to interview Kyle Farnsworth, especially when he turned on the tears just hours later?

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The Seattle Mariners got on the trading train today and sent reliever Arthur Rhodes down to Florida. Here's recently injured Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com:

    "According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, on ESPN Radio, the Marlins have acquired LHP Arthur Rhodes in exchange for 22-year-old RHP Gaby Hernandez. If you recall, Hernandez was traded to the Marlins by the Mets in 2005 for Paul Lo Duca."

Left handed relievers don't grow on trees, people, so it's no big deal that Rhodes was (a) out of baseball last year and (b) once really pissed off about Cory Lidle eating Graham Slam ice cream. Marlins win big time.

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Baseball Musings' own David Pinto is, not unlike the rest of the baseballblogosphere, furiously liveblogging the deadline day trade rumors and whatnot. Actually, David updates his site about 25 times a day and he's one of the best and most prolific reporters on the web. But unlike the rest of us pecking away at our keyboards from our cubicles or home offices, he's sitting at his local Friendly's restaurant:

    "With my home DSL down, I'm taking advantage of free WiFi at the Longmeadow Friendly's. Many thanks to the folks at Friendly's for not charging like Starbucks. If anyone reads this in the Longmeadow area and wants to come by to talk baseball, feel free to join me."

David, try the Strawberry Fribble with a side of Marvelous and Magnificent Sundae featuring M&Ms. Whatever you do, stay away from the Supermelts. SUPERMELTS ARE MADE FROM PEOPLE

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The Dodgers have finally poked their gamer noses above the .500 mark with a 4-0 win over the rival Giants, their first time with a winning record since May. Still, Ned Collletti wants more more more veteran performance from his team, so he's got his eye on San Diego Padres pitcher Greg Maddux. As per Tony Jackson, the move may hinge on finances:

The Dodgers are said to have some interest in Maddux, but acquiring him probably would make the Dodgers responsible for the remainder of Maddux's $10 million salary, which would come to about $3.3 million. Thus, a trade could depend on owner Frank McCourt's willingness to add to his payroll. But such a deal probably wouldn't require the Dodgers to give up a frontline big-league player or prospect because of the Padres' eagerness to unload Maddux.

Los Angeles has some good starters already: Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda, and Clayton Kershaw, with Jason Johnson as a spot starter for injured Brad Penny. One can never have enough pitchers, though, especially with Joe Torre's notorious bad luck with starting pitchers.

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Speculation around the league is that the Marlins will send first baseman Mike Jacobs to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Walkoff Walk favorite Bengie Molina. Henry Schulman at the San Fran Chronicle thinks otherwise:

In Florida, Marlins' first baseman Mike Jacobs was lifted in the sixth inning, fanning speculation he would be part of a deal for Molina. Molina, however, played the entire game Wednesday and is not believed to be going anywhere.

Getting Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox would certainly be a boon for the Marlins, but getting one of the best catchers in baseball for Jacobs would be a real difference maker, what with Matt Treanor's injury problems.

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As per Walkoff Walk commenter Donkey Time, smarmy baseball apparition Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Chicago White Sox have reached a deal to acquire Ken Griffey Jr. from the Cincinnati Reds. The teams are waiting on Griffey to decide if he really wants to play for the emotionally abusive Ozzie Guillen. MORE DETAILS AS THEY COME IN.

UPDATE ONE: CTC interviewed Ken Griffey's mom back in June. This has nothing to do with anything, we just feel it didn't get enough publicity at the time.

UPDATE TWO: Wait, don't the White Sox already have three capable outfielders, one capable first baseman, and a capable DH? What will Griffey do on this team? The laundry?

UPDATE THREE: And yet Griff's teammate Adam Dunn sits by the phone, biding his time with the jumble. He leads the majors in tater tots, people!

UPDATE FOUR: White Sox to send Nick Masset and Danny Richar. They may also be sending Nick Swisher to Oakland for Huston Street. Whoops! Congratulations to your 2008 AL Central winners, the Minnesoter Twins!

UPDATE FIVE: Griffey approved the deal. Now we're just waiting for the commish to approve the trade. Also, Marty Brennaman is staying on the sixth floor of the Mayflower Hotel in Warshington D.C. if any of his stalkers want to find him.

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Here's what happened in baseball while overjoyed in this world:

Phillies 8, Nationals 5: Chase Utley's second homer in as many nights can mean just one thing: he has risen from the dead and will eat the brains of anyone who gets in his way. Yes, that means you, Tim Redding. The Phillies' offensive octet opened the door for Jamie Moyer to accumulate his 240th career win. Pat Burrell threw out Jesus Flores at second base in the sixth and was double-switched in favor of Jayson Werth in the seventh for defensive purposes. Wait, what?

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Josh Johnson's first win in two years can mean just one thing: he has risen from the dead and will eat the brains of anyone who gets in his way. Yes, that means you, David Wright (0-for-4, 1K). Johnson was one of the three stellar young arms on first year manager Joe Girardi's 2006 Florida team that ended up losing significant time to arm injuries (Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco being the others). In other words, watch the eff out, Joba Chamberlain. The Mets' loss pushes them a half game out of first in the NL East and just one game ahead of Manny Ramirez' future employer, the aforementioned Marlins.

Cardinals 7, Braves 2: Chris Carpenter's first four innings pitched in fifteen months can mean just one thing: he has risen from the dead and will eat the brains of anyone who gets in his way. Yes, that means you, entire Braves "offense". Casey Kotchman went 0-for-5 with four gentlemen left out in the pasture in his Atlanta debut while the rest of the Braves team could only amass two runs on eleven hits. HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE TH...you get the point. Carp didn't get the decision, but the pride of Manchester, N.H. could care less...he's healthy! Mazel tov!

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I have no real source for this but who cares. Camp Tiger Claw says that Buster Olney says that the Yankees traded for Detroit catcher Pudge Rodriguez.

UPDATE: Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble are playing Pudge highlight clips on XM 175 - MLB Home Plate.

UPDATE TWO: Kevin Kennedy says this is a great trade for the Yankees. This can only mean: it's a horrid trade.

UPDATE THREE: THE YANKEES GOT RID OF KYLE FARNSWORTH! This means Brandon Inge will have to catch for the Tigers EVERYDAY now.

UPDATE FOUR: The Yankees acquired someone named Pudge and yet Peter Abraham was nowhere near his computer.

UPDATE FIVE: Rob Dibble doesn't think the Yankees are done trading and that they'll probably pick up a pitcher. A Yankee fan calls in a says, "Great show." I turned off my radio. Also, MLB.com has a story up.

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Hey, remember when Oakland was in playoff contention? Right before the All Star break, when they were just a couple games out of first? Yeah, those days are long gone. Since July 11th, the A's are just 2-11 and have fallen into third place in the AL West, thirteen whole games behind the Angels. As for the Royals, they haven't been in playoff contention since the Achille Lauro hijacking, so a potential sweep over Oakland would be absolutely terrific for their huge sportsblogger fanbase.

Oakland will send new kid Sean Gallagher out to prevent said sweep. He's seeking his second AL win in his fourth start. The Royals will counter with Joe Posnanski's favorite pitcher Brian Bannister, whose ERA has ballooned to 5.40 after finally admitting he cannot, in fact, read or write.

Does this game mean anything for the playoff push? Probably not. Is it worth glogging? Any professional baseball game is worth writing pithy remarks about. Enough with the chit-chat, let's get glogging! After the jump, natch.

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Former ESPNet Sportszone movie reviewer and tertiary Mitchell Report character Gregg Zaun is pleased with the way he has performed as member of the Toronto Blue Jays and is ready to move on if traded. He's sad about losing playing time to Rod Barajas and would like to move on to a contender.

That's all news to Toronto general manager and Adam Dunn detractor J.P. Ricciardi who can't even get rid of Zaun for two quarters on the dollar:

"We're aware that Zaunie is unhappy," Ricciardi told MLB.com. "We wish he wouldn't go through the media with it. We wish he would come to us, especially knowing we have a good relationship. Unfortunately, right now, there are no takers for him. If there are, we'll definitely oblige him.

"I think we've been a little bit more proactive than maybe Zaunie thinks. Part of making a trade is someone has to want you. Right now, there's no one that has expressed an interest in him. That's where we're at."

Um, I don't like Gregg Zaun very much and think he's below average for even a backup catcher in the majors. But damn, he can still catch a fastball. And he knows how to put on the catchers gear. And he can kinda sorta hit. That's gotta be worth something. Teams like the Yankees, Mets, and Marlins could use a new catcher and there are not many of 'em on the ol' trading block. You mean to tell me that NOBODY wants a 37-year-old catcher who spent time on the DL this year with a throwing arm injury? Oh.

(We owe a Coca Cola Classic to Fifth Outfielder)

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Minnesota Twins infielder Adam Everett has had a rough relationship with the team in 2008, and things just got more awkward over the past week. Adam started off the year as the starting shortstop, amassing a horrific-even-for-a-good-fielding-shortstop-which-he-is-not .589 OPS. Kid was put on the 15 day DL in May with a shoulder ouchie and hasn't played since.

So now, what's the haps, Minneapolis Star Tribune's national baseball reporter Joe Christensen?

The Twins placed second baseman Alexi Casilla on the disabled list tonight after he was diagnosed with a torn tendon in his right thumb. To replace him on the roster they activated Adam Everett from the DL.

Yes, there were reports earlier that the Twins had designated Everett for assignment. They actually gave him a contemplative outright assignment form, and he had three days to decide whether to accept it. Tonight, they called to tell him they needed him back.

What, pray tell, is a 'contemplative outright assignment form'? What makes it 'contemplative'? Is it a pamphlet with meditation suggestions? Is it a purchase form for the bestseller Zen and the Art of Baseball Mitt Maintenance? Did they tell Adam to go sit in the corner and think about what he's done? WAS ADAM EVERETT IN A TIMEOUT?

No matter, the Twins are up shit's creek sans Casilla now, so of course they had to come crawling on their knees and beg Adam Everett to come back. Heck, I bet Ron Gardenhire downed half a bottle of Pinot Grigio, wiped his tears away, picked up the phone, and yet couldn't bring himself to dial the last number, so he sent Joe Mauer over to charm Adam into coming back. Those sideburns will do it every time!

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File this one under "Things That Happened While I Was Commuting" and/or "Things That Sportscenter Deemed Worthy of Taking a Back Seat to Brett Favre News". Yes, the team with the best record in baseball just got bester:

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Tuesday that Atlanta Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira is headed to the Los Angeles Angels for Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steven Marek.

We all know Tex is a super player today, offensively and defensively. He'll help the Angels' lineup tremendously. Sure, he's most likely walking back to Baltimore after the season is up, but giving up an average first baseman and a pitching prospect is a decent price to pay.

As for Kotchman, I said earlier today that Casey Kotchman started off the year hitting well (OPS of .999 as of May 1st but has regressed of late, bringing his OPS under .800. The Angels win this trade for now, but at age 25, Kotchman has some future potential, especially when clever Phillies fans nickname him "Krotchman". Zing.

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

  • Rich Lederer wants us to get excited about Rockies hurler Ubaldo Jimenez. I'm trying, Rich, but I think I used up all my excitement on Bert Blyleven. Baseball Analysts.

  • Buzz Bissinger struggles with the concept of economics and would love to see the USA fall into a major depression, just so those fat cats get what's comin' to 'em. Squawking Baseball.

  • Rinku and Dinesh have had some great celebrity run-ins while training in the USA, including having met 'the best pitcher in Major League'. No, not Charlie Sheen. They met Rendy (sic) Johnson! Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Buck O'Neal? The copy editors in Kansas City must be on strike. Big League Stew.

  • Goose Gossage hates hippies, hugging, holistic healing, and George Brett. Well, the last one's eminently hateable, so good for him. Machochip.

  • Why pound cake is called pound cake. Cookthink.
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With just over 48 hours left before the trading deadline renders baseball teams nearly impotent to swap players without all that dreaded waiver malarkey, contending teams are scrambling to snatch up the big get of 2008: Atlanta Braves first basegentleman Mark Teixeira. Atlanta GM Frank Wren recently put his prize possession on the trading block after the Braves have pretty much crippled themselves out of contention. Heck, the Braves have more injured players than a MASH unit, so why not trade a productive first baseman on the brink of his inevitable career decline?

So who is going to pony up and win the Tex Sweepstakes?

  • Los Angeles Angels: Casey Kotchman started off the year hot hot hot but is OPS'ing just .695 since May 1st. The Angels have an enormous lead in the West but are having trouble scoring runs on a regular basis, despite what Mike Scioscia says. They should make the trade but they won't because Tex isn't scrappy enough.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Supposedly the frontrunner to get Mark, the D-Backs are trying to avoid trading young stud Conor Jackson. Arizona would be a lot better off trading Chad Tracy and a coupla prospects, but they still need to figure out a way to solve the Alex Romero/Chris Burke platoon in right field. Yuck.

  • Tampa Bay Rays: Does anyone else get the feeling that the Rays think they are just a bunch of smug artists, creating their craft below the poverty line and sticking it to the man? No? Just me? Okay. Well their offense would be seriously upgraded penciling Tex into the first base slot, pushing Carlos Pena to DH and sending Cliff Floyd to the unemployment line. But these precious small-marketers feel their team's success is built on chemistry, so they probably won't make the move. Hey Tampa, you know what else was built on chemistry? Napalm.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Tex is not enough of a gamer. No deal.

  • Boston Red Sox: Think about the possibilities! The Sox could move Kevin Youkilis to left field and trade Manny Ramirez! Still, I think Boston is only being bandied about in these trade talks is to push the price up for other teams. Kinda like the time I won Billy Martin's set of scotch glasses on eBay for $4995.00 after George Steinbrenner made a bunch of fake bids to jack the price up.

So yeah, Mark Teixeira will be a Baltimore Oriole by day's end because he's homesick.

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Pawtucket Red Sox reliever Lincoln Holdzkom has the control of a hyperglycemic toddler in a roomful of rock candy. The 26-year-old righty has twice lost a PawSox game on a wild pitch, but his latest transgression actually came on a strikeout. A walkoff strikeout. To two-time World Series winner Timo Perez:

    Toledo's Freddy Guzman scored from third on a wild pitch by Pawtucket reliever Lincoln Holdzkom with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning. And here's the crazy part: The wild pitch was a curveball that the Hens' Timo Perez swung at and missed for Toledo's 17th strikeout of the game. By the time PawSox catcher Dusty Brown retrieved the wild pitch, Guzman had scored and Perez narrowly beat Brown's throw to first.

Wow, I thought a walkoff walk was bad, but a walkoff wild-pitch-on-third-strike-to-former-major-leaguer-named-Timo? Baseball players are always inventing new ways to fuck up. What's next? The walkoff-bad-throw-back-to-pitcher-by-catcher-with-the-yips? The walkoff-extra-ball-thrown-onto-field-by-fan-thus-confusing-Manny?

Heck, I didn't even know Timoniel M. Perez was still alive. Or that he won the Triple-A All Star Game MVP award last year! But yes, it's true, he won the World Series with the ChiSox in '05 and the Cards in '06. So to recap: Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Ernie Banks, Ted Williams: zero World Series rings. Timo Perez: two World Series rings.

(We owe a Diet Coke to Ian at Sox and Dawgs, who also linked us to video evidence of the WoK)

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Here's what happened in baseball in the fields out behind the dynamo:

Indians 5, Tigers 0: Ol' HGH-usin', Jesus-praisin', pornography-lovin' Paul Byrd finally got his shit in gear just in time to shut out Detroit for eight innings. Hey, now the Indians are only fourteen games back! Thanks, Paul Byrd! Kelly Shoppach and Asdrubal Cabrera tater-totted off sad-sack loser Kenny Rogers. Could there possibly be a matchup of two pitchers I dislike less than these two chumps? Signs point to no, unless Orel Hershiser un-retires and Curt Schilling comes back from the dead.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 1: A.J. Burnett, who absolutely won't be traded, J.P. Ricciardi swears, gave up zero earned runs in seven innings, striking out 10 and picking up his career-high-matchin' twelfth win. No, no, believe me...he won't be traded. Stop calling Mr. Ricciardi immediately. You're wasting your rollover minutes. He will not be traded, ferreals. Matt Stairs, whom Ricciardi would absolutely trade if he got a better offer than "a box of Entenmann's cookies and a carton of goat milk", hit a two-run ding-dong.

Cardinals 12, Braves 3: If Atlanta's season hadn't ended this past weekend, it sure would have been over after this clusterfuck. Rookie hurler Charlie Morton was tagged for eight runs in three and two-thirds innings of 'pitching' in which he gave up 4 farts walks and 7 hits. Joe Mather singled, doubled, and totted to lead the Cardinal offense while Braden Looper was effective and mildly efficient, not unlike a low-budget Japanese sedan. Someone named Nick Stavinoha exists.

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

  • Arizona fans need something fun and cheery to lift their spirits ever since their midseason plummet started well before midseason. Hence, Top Ten Moments in Diamondbacks History. AZ Snakepit.

  • Answer Man David Brown interviews Texas Rangers star Milton Bradley. Hey, it turns out he's never read The Fountainhead! I can go back to being a Milton Bradley fan! Big League Stew.

  • Politicobaseballblogger Nate Silver analyzes the trend towards smaller ballparks and the subsequent decrease in seating capacity. Remember when Municipal Stadium sat 74,000 fans? No? Why? Because they never sold more than 5000 tickets? Baseball Prospectus.

  • The Yankees are having a record number of new alumni attend Old Timers Day this year. Holy shit, Wayne Tolleson is still alive? MLB.com.

  • Jonah Keri loves Mondays, disagrees with Bob Geldof. JonahKeri.com.

  • Roger Ebert reflects on his departure from "At the Movies". RogerEbert.com.
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Our pals over at the Stew linked us to an nifty trade rumor today, via Danny Knobler at CBS Sportsline:

   "Hot trade rumor of the day: White Sox send Juan Uribe to the Red Sox, freeing up salary room to deal for Brian Roberts and paving the way to send Orlando Cabrera to the Dodgers."

Wow! That really is some massive trade speculation there, involving four teams, three major players, the Gettys, and the Quebecois rebel factions! The paperwork involved in such a dealing would make even swap-happy Ken Williams cower in fear, unless, of course, the White Sox were desperate to get rid of someone. Could it be...Orlando Cabrera?

According to reports, shortstop Orlando Cabrera is upset with manager Ozzie Guillen over a perceived lack of support. The argument, Cabrera says, is rooted in the fact that Guillen publicly frowned upon two calls that Cabrera made to the official scorer earlier in the season after fielding errors were assigned to him.

Oh, right, that little public tiff back in May. Anyone who has followed Cabrera's career know that he's a good-fielding middle infielder with a serviceable bat. Yet consider the number of teams he's played for in his career: he spent the first few years of his career in Montreal before the Red Sox came calling in 2004. Cabrera came to Boston as part of the trade that sent Nomar to the Cubbies, but was not signed for '05 despite helping the Sox win the World Series. He spent the next three seasons in Anaheim before being sent to Chicago in exchange for starter Jon Garland.

If he's traded now, the Dodgers would become, mind-bogglingly, his fifth team in five years. He's seen the inside of more locker room showers than your sister! I'm just speculatin' here, and please forgive my coarse language, but it sounds like Orlando is a terrible teammate and a real horse's patoot. What gives with this guy?

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While listening to the Tigers-Royals game yesterday to see if Armando Galarraga could keep his perfect game going (he couldn't), I heard an interesting announcement. Seems the Kansas City Royals have an interesting promotion scheduled for Saturday: Dan Quisenberry Bobblehead Day.

Now Dan Quisenberry was one of the best relievers of the 1980s, amassing 244 career saves. Quiz had a wicked submarine delivery that baffled hitters; he didn't have a dominant heater but he fooled batters with his sinker and his bushy moustache. He was a fan favorite and signed a career contract with KC in 1983, only to be released in 1988 after being demoted to mop-up duty (damn you, Steve Farr!). After retiring from baseball, Dan became a poet and published a coupla books of poems.

So what's the problem? Well, don't you think it's a little...weird...to have a bobblehead day for someone who died of brain cancer?

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Here's what happened in baseball as you understood what a seagull is:

Brewers 3, Cardinals 0: So this whole CC Sabathia trade is working out pretty pretty well for Milwaukee. Kid threw his third straight complete game victory, hurling a three-hitter over St. Louis and striking out seven. Tony LaRussa's righty-stacked lineup was ineffective; his 3-4-5 hitters (Pujols, Glaus, Molina) combined to go 0-for-10, and only one Card reached scoring position. Hey, sounds like my high school days! Haw haw. Ryan Braun and J.J. Hardy tater-totted for the Brew Crew who have now collected ding-dongs in 19 straight games. FRANCHISE RECORD. Milwaukee remains one game behind the Cubbies but move two games ahead of the Cards for the Wild Card.

Braves 9, Marlins 4: Is it worth winning the occasional battle when you're losing the bigger war? Yes, Atlanta's roster of walking wounded is worsening as both Chipper Jones (strained hammy) and Tim Hudson (tender elbow) left the game with ouchies. Gregor Blanco and Yunel Escobar each picked up 3 RBI to hassle Florida starter Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco is now 0-3 against the Braves this season and 10-3 against the rest of baseball. Florida's 4-run ninth inning explosion against reliever Buddy Carlyle was too little, too late, not unlike our attempt to buy the Cubs.

Blue Jays 2, Orioles 1 (susp): Rain ruined the Orioles' 25th anniversary celebration of their last World Championship team AND a night of throwback unis for both teams AND of course a tidy pitchers duel between cyclist Jeremy Guthrie and A.J. Burnett. Screw it, they'll finish today. Twenty-two members of that 1983 O's team showed up for the ceremonies, including that smarmy asshole Jim Palmer. WHAT, NO LENN SAKATA?

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Two major transactions ruled the baseball world this offseason: the Mets wiping their farm system out to acquire superstar pitcher Johan Santana from the Twins and Rob Iracane drafting Johan Santana with his first round pick (sixth overall) in fantasy baseball. Yes, nobody cares about my fantasy team but screw you, this is my blog and I'll force you to read my incontinent whines as long as I want to.

First, let's look at the real world. Santana has a middling 8-7 record after 21 starts in the Mets' first 100 games, but his numbers are far better: his 3.05 ERA is more than a run below league average and his 120 strikeouts are more than three times his 38 walks allowed. Granted, his numbers are not as good as they were in his last five years with the Twins, and he's giving up an inordinate number of tater tots for playing in such a cavernous pitchers park, but c'mon, Mets offense/defense/bullpen! You're wasting a stud pitcher!

The team has scored but 12 runs in Johan's seven losses; in only two of those games did Santana allow more than three earned runs (four runs to the Brewers, four runs to the Angels). This dude should have been an All Star with those numbers! This dude should have 12 wins by now! This dude should be carrying my fantasy team!

No worries, though. I'm in second place in my league thanks to young studs such as Joakim Soria, Jacoby Ellsbury, and...uh...Jason Kendall. Wait a minute...how the heck am I in second place with Jason Kendall? And Huston Street?

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Former Indians assistant GM and self-confessed sabremetrician Neal Huntington hit the bigtime last year when he took the head GM position of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Woo, Western Pennsylvania! Anyway, the Pirates are stagnating in last place of the NL Central, a full 13 games behind the Cubbies and going nowhere fast.

Still, they have a talented outfield, a decent bullpen, and a shortstop who can pat his head and rub his tummy at the same time, so every slightly-above-average team is foaming at their mouths for a chance to make a trade with the Pirates.

So what is Neal waiting for? Time to blow up this mediocre team and acquire some prospects and start rebuilding for 2010! Wait...the Pirates haven't had a winning season since the early 90s...time to start building for 2012! Here are your candidates for prom queen:

  • Damaso Marte, RP: Allegedly, twelve teams have inquired with Neal about the lefthanded veteran Marte, who sports a decent 3.55 ERA and decent splits against both lefties and righties. Still, he's got a fat 6.52 ERA away from Pittsburgh so any new team should be careful to coddle him on the road with some swank room service and perhaps a teddy bear. My best guess: he'll become a Met, with the Rays lurking as a dark horse.
  • John Grabow, RP: This lefty reliever is seen as a poor man's Marte, who is really just a poor man's Billy Wagner, who's just a poor excuse for a 'closer'. Perhaps the loser in the Damaso Marte sweepstakes will go for Grabow. My best guess: the Rays will nab him, with the Red Sox waiting in the wings.
  • Jack Wilson, SS: The scrappy veteran shortstop wouldn't normally be the belle of the ball, but with shortstop depth in the majors at an all-time low, desperate teams like the Dodgers (currently employing Nomar Garciaparra) and Tigers could really use his meager .688 OPS at the position. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because his price is too high (allegedly the Pirates want Matt Kemp in return)
  • Xavier Nady, RF: Nady's tidy .907 OPS could improve nearly any team's corner outfield positions. Sure, he's playing way over his head but he's cheap and he's easy, not unlike a Belgrade hooker on Saint Vitus' Day. He'd make a good seventh slot hitter for one of the contenders and pick up some timely RBI. My best guess: the Mets will welcome him back to fill Moises Alou's crippled shoes.
  • Jason Bay, LF: What're you, nuts? At least give Pirate fans reason to come to the consarn games. Well, he'd fetch a pretty penny...too bad Omar Minaya blew up the Mets farm system last year. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because his price is too high
  • Freddy Sanchez, 2B: The team should have pushed this chip to the middle of the table when its value was high, like when he won the batting title in 2006, not now as his OPS sits under .600. Yuck! Ain't nobody want him now. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because he can't hit no more.

Other possible candidates to be traded: Jason Michaels, Roberto Clemente's ashes, and a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card.

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Here's what happened in baseball as you couldn't hide the dead man's ghost:

Phillies 8, Mets 6: I see how this works now...let Billy Wagner sit with a close lead in the ninth inning because of a sore shoulder and let the rest of the bullpen come out, one by one, and shit all over the mound. The New York Mets bullpen tore another page out of the Johan Santana career win book by allowing six ninth-inning runs and ruuuuining a 5-2 Mets lead. So Taguchi and Jimmy Rollins each provided two-run dubbles in that fateful inning and Brad Lidge allowed one meaningless run in the ninth for his 22nd save in 22 chances. HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, METS FANS? Oh wait, no Mets fans read this blog.

Marlins 4, Braves 0: The Braves got VanderHurked, and they got VanderHurked good. Young stud Rick VanderHurk and his three reliever friends allowed but one hit in nine innings. Chipper Jones got the lone Atlanta hit on the night in the sixth inning off reliever Joe Nelson who I hope was reprimanded properly for his transgression. Mike Jacobs' three run ding-dong provided all the necessary offense for the tater tot tallyin' Marlins. Bobby Cox sat this one out because of the naughty things he said on Sunday.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 3: Kyle Lohse' four perfect innings and seven strikeouts all went into the shitter as Bill Hall's solo ding-dong sailed over the fence in the ninth to put the Brewers ahead. Well really, Lohse had no chance to win after he gave up a run in the seventh and the two tying runs in the eighth. Salomon Torres saved it all in the ninth, delaying the Brewers need for a new reliever somewhat. Ryan Ludwick's first inning tater tot was allegedly the longest homer in New Busch Stadium's history but check here for actual distance.

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

  • 'Duk tells us all about A-Rod's new deal with William Morris Agency and then questions why all baseball players receive such meager endorsement deals. Except Derek Jeter, that dude makes mad cash selling Fords.

  • It's free preview week at Baseball Prospectus. Since I steal so much of my material and ideas from them, the least I can do is send you there to poke around. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Rinku and Dinesh met a Korean dude named Joey, played some catch, and ate a delicious Italian meal prepared by JB sir. Rinku used a plastic knife so he wouldn't cut his fucking finger again. Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Good news for Salomon Torres' sausage-loving daughters: the Brewers games can now be heard in Spanish on ESPN Deportes Radio. Brewers Blog.

  • Don't show this handy-dandy diagram to Prince Fielder. Serious Eats.

  • The San Diego Chicken's greatest bits. Gaslamp Ball.
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Padres veteran outfielder Brian Giles really enjoys playing in sunny San Diego. The 37-year-old Southern California native loves to tan, and back when he played in Pittsburgh, Giles spent more time in a tanning bed than A-Rod spends in Madonna's bed (TOPICAL REFERENCE! ZING!). Anyway, Giles hurt his thigh last month when slamming into the wall at Yankee Stadium and came away with a nasty, tan-ruining purple bruise:

    Giles injured the hamstring at Yankee Stadium on June 19. He downplayed the injury, even as the back of his thigh became discolored. Said outfielder Scott Hairston: "First time I've seen a purple leg. I've never seen anything like that before." Hairston laughed and jokingly added, "His beautiful tan was altered. I'm sure that hurt him more than anything."

Oh Brian, you're so vain. You probably think this blog is about you. Well, I guess it is, but we're pointing out your vanity for our own entertainment and comparing you to a spoiled rich housewife who has ample time to tan and get her hair frosted with Jason Kendall.

Heck, if the leg was really hurt that badly, Giles should have had Greg Maddux tinkle on it.

(We owe a six-pack of Mexican Coke to Gaslamp Ball)

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Baltimore pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and at least seven other Orioles players are doing Mother Nature a favor as they've been riding bicycles to work at Camden Yards this season. Heck, Eutaw Street has become a veritable Chengdu lately.

Guthrie's been commuting via bike since his days at Triple A Buffalo and during his short stints with the Cleveland Indians, and he's hip to the advantage:

"There are some side benefits," Guthrie said. "It's the overall idea of being outside and exercising instead of driving. I hate cars, I hate driving, I hate doing something I don't have to do. For me to drive downtown is a waste of gas; it's a waste of my time. I can ride faster than I can drive."

That's the spirit, Jeremy! And what a better place to be riding a bike around than scenic downtown Baltimore! Baltimore Sun writer Roch Kubakto adds:

Traveling on two wheels instead of four also is healthier, as long as you don't end up under a moving bus, as Brady Anderson once did while in-line skating.

This is the first I'm hearing of the Brady-Anderson-being-thrown-under-a-bus anecdote. A little Googling reveals some details on that story. Weird...I thought the only time Anderson was thrown under a bus was when Jim Palmer accused him of using steroids.

(We owe a Coke to Eamonn Brennan at Die Fanhaus)

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Here's what happened in baseball as we danced, danced, danced, danced, danced to the radio:

Braves 4, Marlins 0: Atlanta pitcher Jorge Campillo brought the junk and the Marlins weren't biting. Jorge and two of his bullpen compatriots held Florida to two hits and zero runs in a tidy 2 hour and 24 minute affair in Miamah. The Marlins may lead the NL in tater tots but couldn't find their swings tonight against ol' slowpoke Campillo. Mark Teixeira had an RBI double and was traded after the game to the Yakult Swallows. THIS IS UNTRUE

Padres 6, Reds 4: Francisco Cordero picked a bad time to blow his sixth save. Actually, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever said. There are no good times to blow a save. Unless the two teams involved are completely out of the playoff picture, I suppose. Anywho, up 4-3 in the ninth, FranCord gave up a leadoff walk to Scott Hairston and a single to Edgar Gonzalez before retiring Brian Giles on a groundball that...oops...let in the tying run. Kevin Kouzmanoff broke the tie with a two-run dubble and the rest was history, aka Trevor Hoffman's 542nd career save despite loading the bases with zero outs. KEEP 'EM ON THE EDGE OF THEIR SEATS

Rays 4, Athletics 0: Tampa Bay pitcher Scott Kazmir brought the heat and the Athletics were swinging. Scott and two of his bullpen compatriots held Oakland to two hits and zero runs in a tidy 2 hour and 49 minute affair in St. Pete. The Athletics may be last in the AL in slugging percentage but that shouldn't lessen the praise for ol' fastballs Kazmir. Willy Aybar had a solo ding-dong and was traded after the game to the Daikyo Dolphins. THIS IS UNTRUE

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, have you embraced the new hot fashions yet?

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

The good folks over at Mottram Incorporated shared a great video of a gentleman at an Orioles game attempting to catch a foul ball with the bridge of his nose:


Full disclosure: my Little League career ended at age 12 when I attempted to catch a shallow pop fly and the ball hit me directly in the left eye. I'd run in to catch it from left field but when I looked up to find the ball, I couldn't see it because it blended in with the overcast white sky. The ball knocked me out and I ended up with a black eye, thus ending my Little League days with a career .220 OPS.

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As per commenter Matt_T, the Braves are shown in high-definition on Comcast cable networks in Atlanta on channel 755. Why is that significant? Hank Aaron ended his storied career with 755 tater tots.

The Yankees are shown in high definition on Cablevision cable networks in New York on channel 715. Why is that significant? Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's storied record with his 715th career ding-dong.

Are the San Francisco Giants games' high definition broadcast shown on channel 762? Or channel 660?

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Hey, remember when Manny Ramirez shoved Jack McCormick, the sixty-something Boston Red Sox traveling secretary? Yeah, me neither, we barely covered it, instead focusing on superstar Red Sox hurler David Aardsma's daddy issues. Welp, it turns out the Red Sox brass are pisssssssssed at Manny:

   According to former WBZ sports director Bob Lobel, Manny Ramirez was fined a six-figure amount for his June altercation with Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick -- and he wasn't happy about it. "Manny was fined six figures to go to a charity," Lobel said this morning on sports radio WEEI. "That got [Manny's] attention ... he became a petulant child by being punished. No matter what the crime was, pushing an employee, that was the issue ... he acted out [after they fined him]. They got his attention. He doesn't like to be punished in any way, shape, or form... "

I don't know who this Bob Lobel character is, but he shore got hisself a scoop! A six figure fine for shoving a sextegenarian! Six figures could buy a whole lotta grills on eBay. Six figures will even put a hurtin' on Manny's $20 million annual earnings! Six figures are enough to bu...oh wait a minute, the fine was only in the $10,000-$15,000 range, as per the Boston Globe's Gordon Edes. Perhaps Mr. Lobel was counting the figures after the decimal point. And then subtracting one. And then carrying the denominator under the integral sign and dividing by e. Math is hard.

Lobel then went on to imply that Manny's taking three strikes looking from Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of a July 6th Yankees win "was a big [expletive] to the Red Sox after the fine." Okay, just so we're all in agreement...radio hosts are all full of shit, yes? Good.

(we owe another Coke to Baseball Musings)

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Before hastily leaving the Walkoff Walk offices on Friday, I posed the question: "(Which) team will we no longer be considering for the playoffs after this weekend: Yankees, A's, Braves, Marlins, Rangers, or the Brewers?" Your answers included: "All of them", "Rangers, duh", and of course "Why are you leaving so early?"

Well, the weekend's up and the Yankees, Marlins, and Brewers (Ray Durham!) are still very much alive, but what of the rest?

  • Atlanta Braves (46-52, 6.5 GB): The Braves lost two of three to the lowly Washington Nationals, usually a sign of the apocalypse, especially considering that the series took place in Atlanta. The Braves are in fourth place in the tight NL East and are tied for sixth in the Wild Card standings with...wait for it...the Houston Astros. They've still got the best pitching staff in the National League, so I'm not ready to call the season for Bobby Cox.

  • Oakland Athletics (51-47, 9 GB): With just two games to play before the All Star break, Oakland sat 4 games behind the division-leading Angels. Coming off a 9-2 victory by new A's pitcher Sean Gallagher, Oakland lost those two games to the Angels, falling six behind. Combine a sweep at the hands of the Yankees with an Angels sweep over the road-weary Red Sox and the A's are now 9 games out. With Joe Blanton and Rich Harden out the door and closer Huston Street and second baseman Mark Ellis supposedly on the trading block, this season could be doneskis. Still, they're just 5 games out in the Wild Card race so I'll give them a temporary reprieve.

  • Texas Rangers (51-48, 9.5 GB): Well, they're only a half game behind the A's, but their pitching is the durst. After losing two of three to the Twinkies, the Texas Rangers are DONE. Eat it, Passan!

Other teams who can begin planning trips to Costa Rica for October: Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals, Indians, Mariners, Nationals, Reds, Astros, Pirates, Rockies, Giants, and Padres. Of course, if any of those twelve teams (plus the Rangers) make the playoffs, you can each individually reserve the right to force-feed me my green Yankees hat.

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Here's what happened in baseball as we got wet with the jet set:

Marlins 3, Phillies 2 (11): Sassy senior Jorge Cantu did do the Marlins a great service when he came to bat with none out and the bases juiced. He singled, giving Florida their ninth walkoff win and a series victory of the division-leading Phillies, and giving Scott Olsen a good reason to put Cantu in a headlock. Celebrate, young Marlins, because the schedule doesn't get any easier.

Royals 8, White Sox 7: Oh Chicago White Sox, your retro 1980s unis didn't serve you well this weekend. You just lost two of three to the hapless Royals! Esteban German's two-run dubble in the eighth, his third hit of the day, was the attention getter, but new third-slot hitter David DeJesus cannot be overlooked with his two hits and three RBI. Joakim Soria, code name The Mexicutioner, notched his 26th save. Bueno!

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5: Oh my stars and garters there is a first-place tie in the NL West and both teams are two games under .500. LA toppled 'Zona in two of three weekend affairs, thanks to a wild five-run ninth off D-Back closer Brandon Lyon. That's a BLOWN SAVE, sir...his fifth on the year and third in his last seven opportunities. Something tells me the Lyon doesn't sleep tonight. See what I did there? Hire me, New York Post headline writing division! Anyway, Matt Kemp's double and Andre Ethier's triple were the big run-scoring plays for the Dodger dogs; Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton tallied his second save since closer Takashi Saito done got creampuffed.

Site News You Can't Use

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I'm headed to D.C. for the weekend and CTC is out in LA so this may be the last you are hearing from us until Monday morning. If so, here's a question to ponder: which team will we no longer be considering for the playoffs after this weekend: Yankees, A's, Braves, Marlins, Rangers, or the Brewers?

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No, we're not at the halfway point of the season right now, despite all these weaksauce newspaper columnists assigning 'midseason grades' to teams and players. Heck, the Red Sox have played 97 games already and that's nearly 60% of the 162 games proscribed to them by Herr Selig.

So as we approach the three-fifths mark of the season, we also approach the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Let's take a look at which teams might be a little confused about whether they are buyers or sellers.

  • Atlanta Braves (45-50, 6.5 GB): The Braves have been one of the unluckiest teams in the first three-fifths, losing a ton of one-run affairs and even more road games while amassing enough injured players to fill a MASH unit. Still, they have such a good young rotation to replace the Mike Hamptons and John Smoltzes; they just need their offense to maintain or improve their 4.5 runs per game average. If they choose to sell, expect Mark Teixeira to pack his handbags and his gladrags. If they opt to buy, they'll need a good hitting outfielder like the Royals' David DeJesus.

  • Florida Marlins (50-45, 1.5 GB): They're not even supposed to be here! Yeah, nobody thought the young Marlins would get their shit in gear for the 2008 season but yet they sit atop the NL with 135 homers. The pitching and defense have been shaky at best and, with too many games left against the Mets and Phillies, I see them being sellers. Reliever Kevin Gregg would earn a nice ransom from bullpen-starved teams like the Tigers.

  • Texas Rangers (50-46, 7.5 GB): General manager Jon Daniels denies the reports that he and team president Nolan Ryan are a-fightin' and a-feudin' about whether to buy or sell. Still, with a league-high 5.10 ERA and a whopping 968 hits allowed in just 96 games, this team has no chance to contend in 2008. If those reports are true, Daniels should step up and ship out Milton Bradley, despite the fact that he's leading the league in on-base percentage AND slugging percentage. You could get a boatload of pitching prospects for the fella, but perhaps Nolan Ryan knows the old saw: there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. Either that or Ryan is just waiting to put Daniels in a headlock and pummel him senseless.

  • Oakland Athletics (51-44, 6 GB): Just when you think they're out, they pull you back in. No, I don't get what's going on and I don't know if they're going to catch the Angels and no I don't know if they're even trying.

I don't think we're any closer to determining what strategies these teams will adopt prior to July 31st, but we know one thing: the market is bullish on tall dudes.

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Francisco Liriano is doing quite well down at Triple-A Rochester, winning his last seven decisions and sporting a tidy 2.73 ERA and 9.6 strikeouts per inning over his last nine starts. Heck, he even had a 26 2/3 inning scoreless streak that ended last night. The former phenom seems ready to be called up, eh? Not so fast, say the Twins:

"The Twins, winners of 21 of their past 28 games, say they currently do not have room for Liriano in their starting rotation, which consists of right-handers Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Livan Hernandez along with lefty Glen Perkins."

Wait...what? Livan Hernandez is suddenly a better option than Francisco Liriano? The same Livan Hernandez who is 3-4 with a 7.28 ERA since mid-May? The same Livan Hernandez who gives out hits like they're candy (93 hits in his last 55 innings) and tater tots like they're...well...tater tots? Can I write an entire paragraph with only questions?

Liriano's agent, Greg Genske, asked the player's union to file a grievance on behalf of the pitcher. Genske claims the Twins are merely trying to avoid giving Liriano major league service time which would prevent him from qualifying for salary arbitration after this season and delay his free agency.

Twins general manager Bill Smith, however, thinks the team is doing just peachy and promises they'll bring him up sometime before the season ends. Heck, the Twins are just 1.5 games behind the White Sox and their offense is actually above average in the American League for the first time in a while. Still, you have to know that Liriano's 97 MPH fastball and wicked slider are better than Livan's 67 MPH fastball and wicked...uh...durability.

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Here's what happened in baseball as we were a walking disaster:

Mets 10, Reds 8: How does a baseball game feature two blown saves and yet neither of them belonged to Billy Wagner? In fact, Mr. W pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save after the Mets tagged Reds closer Francisco Cordero for four runs in the top half of the inning. David Wright's two-run tater tot was the big blow; he had 4 RBI while Carlos Delgado and Fernando Tatis added 3 each. The Mets blew three leads for starter Johan Santana and yet sit in first place now after the big win.

Cardinals 4, Padres 3: Four solo ding-dongs propelled the Cards to a big win over starter Jake Peavy (who allowed all four tots and most certainly will not be winning the Cy Young this year). The Cardinals had exactly zero runners in scoring position all night but Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel, and Joe Mather drove themselves in pretty well. Heck, St. Louis had more solos in this game than a typical Rush concert.

Tigers 6, Orioles 5: So Detroit is starting off on the right foot, what with permanent malcontent Gary Sheffield hitting a ding-dong and teammates Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge adding dongs of their own. Garrett Olson took the loss while Kenny Rogers picked up his seventh win on the year, despite allowing 11 of the Orioles' 14 hits. Hey, they can't all be gems. Okay, so none of them really are gems.

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As per the 700 Level, the Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement to acquire RHP Joe Blanton from the Oakland A's in exchange for three minor leaguers. Despite his 14-10 record last year with a decent 3.95 ERA, he's regressed to a 4.96 ERA in 2008 and doesn't fit in with the Oakland plan, I suppose.

He's allowed 12 tater tots in 127 innings this season so there's hope that Citizens Bank Park won't eat him alive, despite its much smaller footprint than McAfee Coliseum. The Phillies defense is not on par with the Athletics so I can't see him improving significantly without pushing his strikeout levels up and his walk levels down.

Most importantly, what the heck does this mean about the A's plans for 2008? Are they selling to win now or selling to win later? Damn you to hell, Billy Beane!

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Holy crap, as if the Richie Sexson deal wasn't enough to get you excited today, then get ready for Tony Clark's homecoming trade that sends him back to Phoenix.

    Under his contract with the Padres, Clark would have received $500,000 from the Padres if traded, but he waived that clause in order to complete the trade.

Now that's desperation to get out of San Diego! "Hey, current team that is under-performing. I'll give you $500,000 to trade me to a team that is also under-performing, but less so." (note: those are not Tony Clark's actual words)

This sets up Arizona with the 36-year-old, six-foot-seven first baseman with one tater tot in 88 at-bats on the season. PERFECT! Oh hey wait, I remember that one tater tot.

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Get ready to boogie down in the Bronx on Saturday, folks...Richie Sexson is coming to town!

   The Yankees will only have to pay Sexson the prorated minimum of $390,000 from his $14 million salary with the Mariners. Seattle is eating the remainder of the nearly $6 million Sexson is owed for the season.

Oh yes, Seattle...eat it up. Nom nom nom how good does that $6 million chunk of change taste? Do you need some crushed red pepper on that to spice it up a bit? Perhaps some fine Washington Pinot Noir to wash it down?

Why does this work? Imagine every team has a big jigsaw puzzle and each team needs a certain number of pieces to finish their puzzle. Richie Sexson's piece was oddly shaped and didnt fit anywhere in the Seatle puzzle, mostly because they needed SO many pieces. Now imagine the Yankees could get that piece for REALLY cheap because it's so odd. And look! It fits nicely in their puzzle.

And yes, my prognostications came true. Stick it, MLB Trade Rumors dot com!

I watched part of the Triple-A All Star Game last night on ESPN2 and it was quite the exciting contest. Future Pittsburgh Pirates outfield star Andrew McCutchen broke open a scoreless tie in the seventh with an RBI infield single for the International League. The Pacific Coast League came back with six runs in the ninth and held on to win the contest 6-5, despite a two-run tater tot by Pawtucket Red Sock Chris Carter that drove in Pawtucket Red Sock Joe Thurston.

But the real highlights of the night involved MLB.com's senior writer Jonathan Mayo being real awkward as the 'sideline' reporter. You may recall Mayo as Camp Tiger Claw's competition in the NY Daily News Player Pick Pool and the author of some puff piece on Roger Clemens.

Please enjoy my trio of videos

Jake the Diamond Dog is smarter and more capable of doing simple tasks than Jonathan Papelbon


Jonathan Mayo rides a carousel


And to tie it all together, Mayo interviews Jake and engages the dog in a most awkward high five.


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Last night, Bob Costas hosted a baseball-themed episode of his Costas Now town hall meeting-style show live on HBO. Among the topics discussed were the dearth of black baseballers, the hall of fame candidacy of alleged steroid users and Pete Rose, and the economic divide between rich teams and poor teams. Numerous ballplayers, both current and legendary, dotted the audience and panel discussions but none shone brighter than the greatest living ballplayer himself, Willie Mays.

The show started at 9PM but it went off HBO at 10:30, just as Mays and Hank Aaron were getting into the groove answering questions. Luckily, a live video feed went up at HBO.com so Costas could continue peppering the heroes with questions. Mays and, to a lesser extent, Aaron provided the audience with 40 more minutes of fantastic reminiscing and forward-thinking opinions about current issues. At age 77, Mays is at the perfect point in his golden years. Still young enough to tell an anecdote that keeps me engaged and fascinated, and just old enough to remind me of my own grandfather.

Mays and Aaron were both asked (by audience member and actor Robert Wuhl) if they had ever taken any performance-enhancing drugs in their careers, specifically about something called "red juice" (allegedly amphetamines). Aaron pointedly answered no and denied ever seeing anyone take anything; he joked that they weren't getting paid enough to afford anything like that. He then went off on a tangent about players drinking too much back in his day, but that was off point. Mays had a far more interesting answer. No, he said, he never needed to take anything, referring to his "32 inch waist and 189 pound body" that he kept for 20 years. He did admit to seeing a doctor and asking for vitamins, stating a need to "keep going", and when the doctor produced something for him to drink, he didn't ask what was in there. Was Willie Mays juicing? Probably not. Does it matter? Definitely not. Willie and the audience laughed the matter off.

Mays simply stole the show while talking about the racism he encountered, about how many more homers he'd have hit if he played in the Phillies new stadium, about all the tater tots he knocked out during his two year stint in the Army and why they should count in the record books, and about playing the full nine innings in eleven of his 24 All Star Game appearances, all for the love of baseball. You'll have to check the website to see when this will be re-aired or if it can be viewed online. Trust me, it's worth it.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, bloggin's hard, y'all.

  • WILL you all get sore at me for closing up shop early today?

  • HOW will we spend the only night of the season without televised baseball competition?

  • DO you want to go out for some steamed hams?

So tune in tomorrow where we'll forget the All Star Game ever happened and start talking some real good second half baseball stuff.

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Perhaps you are familiar with the Yankee Stadium 'tradition' of the grounds crew dancing to the YMCA while they rake the field between innings. Well last night during the All Star Game, the Yankees had a major surprise and had the real live Village People lead the crowd after the sixth inning.

Personally, I think calling the grounds crew's performance a 'tradition' is an insult to the word 'tradition'. Grouping that nonsense together with real traditions like 'playing Sinatra after a win' and 'wearing pinstripes' and 'embracing asshole comedians' is ridiculous. Enough already, we get it, the grounds crew knows how to spin around and put their arms up while they rake the goddamn field. Just stop already. You've seen it once, you've seen it a million times.

Still, when the Village People were announced last night as a special guest, I got excited! After all, this was a real surprise! Everyone already knew the hall-of-famers were gonna show up, everyone knew Yogi would throw out the first pitch, and everyone knew Steinbrenner was going to be wheeled around the Stadium on a gurney. BUT NOBODY KNEW THE FUCKING VILLAGE PEOPLE WERE GOING TO BE THERE. Well, almost all the Village People, save for the dead biker dude.

Photo by BenYankee

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Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan has uncovered one of the secrets of the locker room and he was good enough to share it with us, the reader. Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki knows how to say naughty words in English and uses them to soil the reputationpants of National League All Stars on a yearly basis:

   "Every year, after the AL manager addresses his team, Ichiro bursts from his locker, a bundle of kinetic energy, and proceeds, in English, to disparage the National League with an H-bomb of F-bombs, stunning first-timers who had no idea Ichiro speaks the queen's language fluently and making returnees happy that they had played well enough to see the pep talk again."

Whoa, whoa, slow down there Jeff...an H-bomb reference when talking about Ichiro Suzuki? I know it was 60 years ago and I know it was an A-bomb, but perhaps you could have chosen a different bon mot in your lede? And later on he quotes Miguel Tejada who wonders if Kosuke Fukudome will do the same thing for the National League. Migs, just because they're both Japanese doesn't mean they are both sick, perverted men who like to collect schoolgirl panties. Only one of them is.

Potentially tasteless jokes aside, I take severe pleasure in knowing that Ichiro is a foul-mouthed sonofabitch who does not shy away from busting down walls between cultures and breaking the ice between veterans and rookies. Passan claims that Ichiro's blue pep talks have helped the AL win all seven (make that eight) All Star Games he has participated in. I just wonder, does Ichiro call Billy Wagner a cunt every year, or is that just me?

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Full disclosure: I left the Bronx last night after nine innings, and I still didn't get to bed until 2AM. I'm not good with 'staying up late on school nights' or 'watching extra innings of an exhibition game' so right now I am an odd combination of 'excited at having seen an historic affair' and 'sleepy mcpeepies'. Forgive me if this passage fails to make sense at any point.

First off, Camp Tiger Claw did yeoman's work last night on our glog. Wait no, yeomen stink. He did the work of a king. Nobody said he had to stay up past midnight to chit-chat about extra innings, but he did it anyway. He's checking himself into rehab for the rest of the week just to recover from the extreme pain and suffering of a 15-inning glog.

Secondly, the atmosphere at the Stadium last night was electric and historic and wonderful, but the thing I can take with me is how much everyone was actually paying attention to the game. There were tense moments late in the game where the building actually fell silent; that'd be a no-no in a playoff situation, but I really think that the collection of Yankee fans and 'other' fans were appropriately cognizant of what they were seeing: an exhibition of the best players in baseball. All that silence went out the window when Mariano Rivera came in, however. Yankees fans like Yankees players, or something.

That entire pre-game happening was touching and well-done. Seeing George Steinbrenner be driven under my right field loge seats was inspiring, despite the bloated and doughy look to his face. Poor old tyrant! Yogi Berra and Willie Mays got the biggest cheers of the night...my dad was especially thrilled to see his boyhood idol Mays standing alone as the only HOF centerfielder on the field.

The pitching was awesome last night. With the exceptions of Billy Wagner and Edinson Volquez, there were very few hard hit balls. I salute every fella who pitched in extra innings (even though I wasn't there to see it) but the guys who pitched earlier were absolutely amazing. Ben Sheets, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Dempster, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera...these guys were masterful.

Yes, the fans did a good deal of booing last night. Jonathan Papelbon and Billy Wagner got the brunt of the harassment from the stands (including me), but Manny Ramirez, JD Drew, and Jason Varitek got their share too. Heck, people were calling for the guy who caught Drew's home run ball to throw it back. It's all super-confusing, especially when I caught myself simultaneously clapping and booing when Papelbon struck out David Wright to end the top of the eighth. Just so you know, I exclusively booed Papelbon, Wagner, and Wright. Also, Bud Selig. That guy's an ass.

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Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez is on pace to set the all time record for saves in a season, but more importantly, he's looking to set a record for salary earned by a closer. Kid is putting himself on the auction block at the end of the season, opting for free agency instead of the $34 million contract the Angels offered him last winter. That's a mere bag of shells, folks. Says Frankie:

"I'm going to go out there and explore the market," Rodriguez said. "They had six years. They didn't get anything done with me. If I wait six years, why not wait another 2 1/2 months?"

Good on you, sir. Which team do you think would pony up the dollars for his services anyway? Which teams have ample payrolls and will need a closer next year? I'd guess the Cubs or the Brewers or the Cardinals or heck, the entire NL Central since the whole division stinks at closing games.

But what about the rest of the 2008 season, Frankie?

"They're still paying me to do my job," Rodriguez said. "I still have to get my job done, and whatever happens, happens."

That's why I call him "Lunchpail Rodriguez". Show up, get the job done, pump your fist, and go home to watch Carson on the Tonight Show.

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While yours truly heads out to The Stadium for the All Star Game tonight to boo Billy Wagner and cheer Derek Jeter, my associate Camp Tiger Claw will keep the home fires burning with his very own liveglog, tonight at 8PM.

So tune your teevees to FOX, set your laptops out on the coffee table, pop open a bottle of your favorite beer and head over to dubya dubya dubya dot walkoff walk dot com for some of the most entertaining All Star Game livegloggery on the Internet.

I'll do my best to pipe in with some mobile commenting from the Bronx, so if you want to join in as a commenter, follow this handy-dandy link.

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So Josh Hamilton ended up going out with a fizzle in the finals of the Home Run Derby and Monsieur Morneau walked away with the hardware. It happens. Does it matter? No. Mr. Hamilton provided the viewers with so many fantastic memories of his 500 foot ding dongs that smacked off the walls at the world's most famous baseball park. He turned an entire nation on to his might with his historic tater tots, and Morneau will forever remain a footnote in history; the mere answer to a trivia question.

Hey remember that All Star Game back in 1999 at Fenway Park? Remember Mark McGwire hitting all those dingers over the Green Monster? Remember that time he put one over I-90 into the parking lot? Remember who won that contest? It wasn't McGwire, it was Ken Griffey Jr. But McGwire's moonshots have stood the test of time, at least in my mind.

Same thing with Hamilton's ding-dongs. Heck, he broke a record for most homers in the first round of a derby. That alone should put him at the forefront of the top derby moments ever. HE CAME SUPER CLOSE TO PUTTING ONE OUT OF YANKEE STADIUM. He almost hit the $1,000,000 sign! HE ALMOST HIT RICK REILLY IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD WHICH WOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY KILLED HIM. Heck, I'm pretty sure he's in the running now to be Barack Obama's running mate in November. Except he's probably a Republican, so maybe not.

As for Reilly, his "It's a lousy night to be an atheist!" exclamation was perhaps the oddest thing to hear in Home Run Derby history. No Rick, it's never lousy to be an atheist. Atheists are never victims of an angry deity and they never feel Catholic guilt. Fine, ESPN, you hired the jerk to be an online writer. We're not going to argue with that; he's got a sappy style that appeals to idiots. But keep that asshole off the television, okay?

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Buried in a non-newsy item about the Braves' travel plans to the All Star Game in New York City, beat writer David O'Brien writes this:

    Chipper was in the visitor's clubhouse, packed and ready to limo it to the airport to board a charter flight along with Brian McCann, McCann's wife Ashley, and Braves trainer Jeff "Bubba" Porter, who was picked to serve as NL trainer.

Of all the trainers on all the teams in the National League, manager Clint Hurdle grabbed Jeff Porter? The Braves trainer? Heck, the Braves 40-man roster page has more red crosses on it than an episode of M*A*S*H. Here's the list of the currently disabled:

  • Omar Infante (SS) - Strained left hamstring
  • Manny Acosta (RP) - Strained right hamstring
  • Rafael Soriano (RP) - Strained Virginia hamstring
  • Tom Glavine (SP) - Gout and alzheimers
  • Matt Diaz (LF) - Torn ligament
  • John Smoltz (SP) - Shoulder surgery
  • Mike Hampton (SP) - Wallaby rape

Perhaps Hurdle has devised a scheme wherein he brings in Porter to 'tend' to the NL All Stars with his 'special' methods of 'medicine', wink wink nudge nudge. Then, with all the National League's best players on the DL, Hurdle and his Rockies can ascend from 8.5 games back in the West and once again bring the power of Baby Jesus to the playoffs!

Either that or Clint just tends to hang out with folks named Bubba.

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We had so many comments I decided to create an overflow post for the semis and finals. This is where all that will happen. Your semifinalists are Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Justin Morneau, and Lance Berkman.

9:57PM: Here's Lance Berkman. You are a mere child compared to Josh Hamilton. A fat, fat child.

10:00PM: Berkman knocks out a few dongs to put his total at somewhere in the teens. Good, but not Hamiltonian enough.

10:03PM: Justin Morneau once played hockey! And is Canadian! His people sew maple leaves on their lame backpacks when they go to Europe so they are not confused with ugly Americans. Dear Italy, please punch out people with maple leaves on their backpacks. Signed, Rob. Reggie Jackson is snooze-worthy as a guest but gladdens me because we are spared the Bermanian nonsense.

10:06PM: I know we're not allowed to say no Twins in the home run derby finals. but...no Twins in the home run derby finals, Justin. Slow it down there. Also, SHUT UP AND DIE, RICK REILLY.

10:08PM: Seriously, I mean it. Oh well, Lance Berkman has been eliminated by Monsieur Morneau. Here comes Ryan Braun. Win one for kosher bakeries everywhere, sir! I WANT CRISPY NORMAL SIZED HOT BAGELS. Oops, commercial break.

10:12PM: John Kruk was a .300 hitter? Or did Karl Ravech mean he was a 300 lb hitter? I'm not quite sure. Here's Ryan Braun now, ferreals.

10:14PM: Josh Hamilton proves there is a God? Huh? No Rick Reilly, its a great night to be an atheist, because if there was a God, you wouldn't be on television. You dumb hack.

10:16PM: Rick Reilly: worst TV commentator in Home Run Derby history or worst commentator in sports history? Ryan Braun looks too skinny to be hitting all these tater tots. Skinny, but strong.

10:18PM: You know why Josh Hamilton is a great story? Because he can hit 500 foot homers while putting up with the incessant line of questions by the media types. Leave the man alone with his club soda at the corner booth of Mortons, you vultures. Also, Ryan Braun is 4 homers shy of sending that Canuck home.

10:20PM: And Ryan Braun is eliminated. Holy crap. Justin Morneau versus Josh Hamilton. Evil versus good. For the title.

10:22PM: Somewhere, Babes Love Baseball blogger Sooze is getting all worked up about this Morneau character. Let's see what Josh Hamilton can do to warm up here for the finals.

10:24PM: The semifinals for Mr. Hamilton are like the calm before the storm. This is not unsimilar to that time in college when I ran home because I was about to shit my pants, but then lost control right before I reached my front steps.

10:26PM: Time for another commercial break, brought to you by Lucky Strike. So easy on the draw!

10:28PM: How does this thing work now? I realize that both gents start at zero, but who goes first?

10:32PM: Okay I have no idea how this contest works and I don't care who is going to win what. All I know is that we got $50 from MLB.com to give away for posting a link about their contest but now I'm pissed I have to sit through this.

10:34PM: Fans as a whole are awesome. Individual fans totally suck. Enough already watching this nonsense so some schlub could win a few sheckels or a shitty car. ON WITH THE TATERS

10:36PM: Here's Monsieur Morneau, who makes an out on his first three swings. Whoops! That's not gonna topple the mighty Hammy.

10:38PM: A ground ball? Really Justin? Really? Well, I'm sure you'll be happy crying yourself to sleep while snuggling with your ILL-BEGOTTEN MVP AWARD. He has three dongs in his first ten swings.

10:40PM: JUSTIN MORNEAU WEARS A NUMBER ON HIS BACK THAT HONORS A HOCKEY GOALIE? SIGH. Kid Canada finishes with five measly tater dongs.

10:41PM: Oh cripes, another commercial break. Brought to you by the good people at Miller.

10:45PM: Yes John Kruk, someday Josh Hamilton could be a Yankee. Sounds delish! He taters on his second swing. DEEP.

10:47PM: Has anything ever in history been as assuredly definite as Hamilton winning this thing? As in...if he loses, will the Morneau RickRoll be the worst thing that ever happened to me?

10:49PM: Berman just used the word "doinker," which is strange, because I invented that word to describe the time I shi....oh, nevermind. CMON, JOSH!

10:51PM: HOLY CRAP FOR THE LOVE OF GLOG I HAVE NEVER NEEDED ANYTHING AS BADLY AS I NEEDED THIS

10:52PM: Oh dammit a Twin won the home run derby, thus proving my point: the home run derby is a sham. Sigh. Nobody likes you, Justin Morneau. Not even Erin Andrews, who is now interviewing the 'runner-up' Josh Hamilton.

10:54PM: Thanks for joining us on our home run derby liveglog, folks! I take back everything negative I said about Monsieur Morneau. He's a great hitter and a class act, through and through. But I swear, if I ever encounter him in Italy and he's wearing a maple leaf on his backpack, I'm gonna shit my pants. GOOD NIGHT EVERYONE!

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Welcome to our readers, commenters, family and friends. It's our first ever liveglog in primetime and one of the first times I'll be writing about something on television instead of my handy-dandy XM Radio. I'm still pretty new at this whole thing, so I appreciate as many comments as possible. If you've never commented before, please sign up. We'd love to hear from you and keep you hanging around.

Still, I refuse to pretend that this is your only place to read a liveglog about this Home Run Derby nonsense, so if you get bored of my incessant use of the terms "tater tot" or "ding-dong" or "Justin Morneau hatred", please check out one of the following purveyors of livegloggery:

But if you love me as much as I love you, you'll stay here at Walkoff Walk. Here goes nothing!

7:55PM: Hey did anyone watch the Baseball Tonight pre-game nonsense? What did I miss?

8:00PM: Hey Three Doors Down, irrelevance called and they want you back immediately. Let's move it along, Poor Imitation of a Poor Imitation of an Already Shitty Bon Jovi.

8:04PM: Sorry, I thought I signed up to liveglog a Home Run Derby, not a concert by a band nobody really cared about in 1999 when they were popular. I have rational hatred for a musical act!

8:07PM: Holy shit Yankee Stadium has become anthropomorphized and is talking to me. No, I will not hit it into your black. You dirty, dirty boy. Hey, Chris Berman has become anthropomorphized and is being broadcast over the P.A. Bob Sheppard must be spinning in his grave.

8:10PM: Boo! Justin Morneau! Boo! He once played hockey? Irrational boo! Hey, Josh Hamilton got a lot of cheers. Good for him. I like how the eight players are lined up along the front of the home plate circle thingy. Works well. HOLY SHIT RICK REILLY! KILL IT! KILL IT NOW!

8:12PM: Yeah I think Chase Utley said "Boo? Fuck you!" during the intros. Chase, I speak for all Yankees fans when I say "We love anyone who hurts the Mets as bad as you, fella." They weren't booing you, they were saying "Doooooooo good, Chase!"

8:14PM: Chris Berman and Joe Morgan agree with me. Chase Utley will win this thing. Anyone else got any picks? Anyone wanna bet on when this thing ends? Over/under 10:30PM?

8:16PM: Notorious Jew-hater and half-Puerto Rican Reggie Jackson is set to toss out the ceremonial first pitch to...DREAMBOAT DEREK JETER! Swoon. Good work, Senor Octobre. The fans love them some Derek Jeter. WHO DOESN'T? /glares at Morneau. Hey it's Erin Andrews interviewing the original dreamboat. SENSORY OVERLOAD

8:18PM: Dan Uggla leads off after the first commercial, Metschick. C'mon back and watch your NL East enemies do good.

8:20PM: I can't wait to get me some of that Baseball Network goodness. Hopefully they'll end the Baseball Tonight monopoly over live, in-game highlights. Sorry, Gammons, but it's the only way to escape the John Kruk/Steve Phillips cabal.

8:22PM: Erin Andrews says something about underprivileged kids getting some money or something if something happens. All I know is that a kid wearing a Brewers helmet looks a lot like Urkel.

8:24PM: Danny Uggla puts his two first pitches over the wall. Nice way to break the ice, sir. I'd like for this to be the year one of them kids shagging flies in the outfield takes a flyball off their eye socket and shatters their orbital bone. Danny's got 4 tater tots in 7 tries so far. LOOK OUT FOR TOTS

8:26PM: Dan Uggla's kid is simply adorable. Guess his boys can swim well. Hey, Mike Gallego is still employed! Good on him.

8:28PM: The greatest thing Dan Uggla could have done was murder Rick Reilly with one of them gold balls. Still, lacking that accomplishment, he nailed six tater tots in his appearance. He might advance!

8:30PM: Here comes lefty Grady Sizemore. He's half-black! Or something! He nails a ding-dong with his first two swings. Nicely done, centerfielder of some reknown.

8:32PM: Who the fuck just exclaimed "Holy cow, who needs steroids?" after Sizemore put one in the upper deck? What goddamned hack asked that ridiculous question? WAS THAT RICK REILLY

8:34PM: Senor Sizemore is doing very, very well. If he played for the Yankees, we'd push Jeter out of a plane and call Grady our boyfriend, no questions asked. Sizemore just hit one of the longest homers I've ever seen and Joe Morgan says that "he forced that swing." Fuck you, Morgan.

8:36PM: Hey Mark Shapiro, we'll send you Melky Cabrera and the remains of Phil Hughes plus $10,000,000 for Grady Sizemore. Deal? Grady ends up with six ding dongs, tied with Danny Uggla. COMMERCIAL BREAK

8:40PM: I like the Ben Sheets pick to start the ASG. I like the Cliff Lee one too even if Roy Halladay eats pieces of shit like him for breakfast. Hey, it's Evan Longoria! He might get zero tater tots.

8:42PM: And of course Evan proves me wrong by hitting his second swing out of the park. Whatever, dude. Throw me a bone, kid. You're like 7 years my junior.

8:44PM: After two of Longoria's tater dongs hit the upper deck in left (a DiMaggioan feat, indeed) Joe Morgan exclaims "Those are upper deck shots." ARE THEY JOE? REALLY? Longoria finishes with three measly tater tots in his HR Derby debut. Not bad.

8:46PM: Full disclosure: I had tickets to the 'celebrity softball game' and passed. I hung out by the pool instead. I do not regret this choice. Here's Chase "Senor Tasty Kakes" Utley.

8:48PM: Utley is making me nervous by hitting exactly zero homers with his first three swings, but he puts the fourth one out, despite "overswinging". Shut up already, Morgan. Your repetition is irritating.

8:50PM: Chase Utley gets booed for not hitting taters and some dumb kid gets cheered for making a lucky catch. Yep, these are my compatriots.

8:52PM: Utley puts out his first two gold balls to finish with five. Behind Uggla and Sizemore but ahead of Longoria. I don't feel too dumb. At least I don't feel Joe Morgan dumb.

8:56PM: Oh the George Brett pine-tar incident. I remember it well, because it happened the same day I shit my pants at preschool. My parents call that the "pants tar incident".

8:58PM: I made that story up. I shit my pants in '82. Anyway, here's Fat Elvis, aka Lance Berkman. That sonofabitch switch hitter is hitting lefty AS OPPOSED TO WHAT I READ ON THE INTERNET TODAY. I hope he gets negative zero dongs.

9:02PM: Are we sure Miguel Tejada is 34 years old? After Fat Elvis hit an upper deck tot, Tejada giggled like a 12 year old girl who just learned what 'fellatio' means. BTW I still haven't learned that word. Berkman is simply abusing the gold balls. WHAT A GREAT CATCH BY THE KID IN THE BLACK!

9:04PM: Lance Berkman nails 8 tater tots and earns my respect. He punished the ball worse than the time I got punished for shitting my pants in kindergarten. Interested in playing first base for New York (AL), sir?

9:06PM: I stole this from Suss:


He stole it from The Sports Hernia. Good work, gents.

9:08PM: Instead of talking about Justin Morneau while he bats, I will give a dissertation on John McCain's ideas about economic growth in 2008 and beyond, from a globalization perspective with a focus on supply-side.

9:10PM: Aw, forget it, I have no idea what I'm talking about with economics OR baseball. Let's talk about LOLcats! Justin Morneau is doing well so far. Rudy Giuliani looks like shit, but that's no different than NINE YEARS AGO WHEN HE WAS RELEVANT. Get bent, jacko.

9:12PM: Monsieur Morneau ends up with eight dongs, tied with Fat Elvis, and I am shamed by his prodigious output. HEY THANKS FOR REMINDING ME OF THE 2006 AL MVP VOTE, BERMAN.

9:14PM: I'm going to the game tomorrow night so you'll be able to enjoy the dulcet liveglogging tones of Camp Tiger Claw. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take though. This shit is sensory overload. Here's Ryan Braun.

9:16PM: On a related note, my local kosher bakery just closed. Where am I supposed to get good bagels now? I mean the real kind of bagels, that are boiled and baked and are nice and crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside and actually have a fucking hole in them and aren't just shitty rolls.

9:18PM: Ryan Braun's agent had some troubles with the first few pitches but he seems to be setting the kid up well now. Braun's got four taters in his first 11 swings.

9:20PM: FYI I almost never see upper deck ding-dongs in left field at Yankee Stadium. This is absolutely an awesome spectacle of manliness. In fact, I'm actually getting some extra testosterone from watching this. NO MORE SHITTIN MY PANTS NOW, MA!

9:22PM: Hey Ryan Braun, I think you'd look good in pinstripes. No, not those ridiculous Brewer pinstripes, I mean real natural dark blue pinstripes. Lemme know.

9:24PM: I can't wait to not watch the Olympics!

9:27PM: Josh Hamilton's pitcher is Craig Counsell's great grandfather? Huh? He puts his first swing to good use and knocks a dong to deep right center. Good work. COULDA BEEN A CRACKHEAD

9:29PM: Well, it's official. Josh Hamilton is MADE OF MAGIC. Five hundred and two feet to the back wall of the bleachers? Walkoff Walk salutes you, good sir.

9:31PM: I wasn't rooting for Hamilton before because I am a sarcastic prick. Well, I'm still a sarcastic prick but now I'm cheering loudly for the fella. HIT ONE OFF THE UTZ SIGN, SIR. I LOVE JALAPENO CHEDDAR POTATA CHIPS.

9:33PM: What's in the briefcase that Edinson Volquez just gave to Mr. Hamilton? Some sort of magic potions or lotions? Some sort of miracle power cure? That ump just called Hamilton's wall shot "an out" and got booed worse than the time I shit my pants on the schoolbus home in fourth grade.

9:35PM: Hitting homeruns is a "new way to get high." Go fuck yourself, Rick Reilly. Chris Berman makes a Hunts Point vegetable market reference despite the fact that the market closed. Jesus, Hamilton has been absolutely magical.

9:38PM: Milton Bradley has poor depth perception, He just got silly excited about a 295 foot out. No matter, Hamilton has SIXTEEN dongs in 24 swings. Amazing!

9:40PM: I just gasped like a schoolgirl. Twice. Once when Hamilton put one to the back of the black and once when those cops choked out the kid who caught it. OMIGOD UPPER UPPER DECK. FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN FEET.

9:42PM: I hope nobody has plans tonight. Hamilton might keep this thing rolling until midnight. Oh David Ortiz, you big dummy. Sit down.

9:44PM: Wait a minute...I love Josh. Why did I give up my tickets to this Home Run Derby? I mean, I'm grateful to be sharing this with you, the reader, but shit. This is spellbinding. Can we just have Hamilton hit all night? Tell everyone else to go home? Do we really need to see anyone else?

9:46PM: Hamilton just took a break to have some purple stuff. No, he wasn't 'tussin. No, it wasn't purple drank. Please hit 30, Mr. Hamilton.

9:48PM: Joe Morgan's voice is what I want to hear in my head when I'm having relations and I don't want to let the flood gates open. He just makes me sad and angry. Chris Berman, however, would render me permanently impotent. GOLD BALL TIME!

9:50PM: Everyone's dream is to hit 28 tater tots at Yankee Stadium and then smell Erin Andrews' pretty, well-conditioned hair. Twenty-eight ding dongs. That's some good swingin'.

I CREATED AN NEW POST FOR THE SEMIS AND FINALS, Y'ALL.

Red Sox closer and dancing white person Jonathan Papelbon made some waves at the pre-All Star game interview session by openly questioning the certitude that the AL's manager Terry Francona would finger Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of the ASG. Here's video proof from our pal 'Duk at Big League Stew:


Whoops! It's not 'cut and dry' that Francona will go with the best closer in the history of baseball? Really, Jonny Paps? Really?

I guess he saw the error of his ways after the media session was over; he pulled aside a Boston beat writer to make some additional comments. As reported by Gordon Edes at the Boston Globe:

Papelbon took the reporter's tape recorder, held it to his mouth like a microphone, and said: "This is Jonathan Papelbon, closer of the Boston Red Sox. Mariano Rivera will be closing the 2008 All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium. "I'm making a statement right now, saying I don't want it, I want him to have it. I said all that earlier, but that's the way I feel about it.''

That's better, friendo. I can't see a reason not to bring in Rivera in the ninth inning, regardless of the score or the team ahead. Rivera is one of those Yankees that most fans enjoy and respect despite their own team allegiance. Just like Jose Molina. Nobody hates the Molinas.

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Buried in the Emil Brown alleged sexual assault case is the fact that his accuser, Jennifer Haigh, is a former stripper. As recently as January 2008, Haigh was working at Diamond Joe's topless bar in North Kansas City. She also worked at a strip club named Pure in late 2007. Here's Brown's attorney Greg Leyh defending his client, from the Kansas City Daily Record:

    Leyh, of the Gladstone firm Leyh & Leyh, denied any wrongdoing on Brown's part. He also denied that Brown entered a contract with Haigh. "There's no assault," he said. "There are no criminal charges and no basis for criminal charges. "This is called extortion," Leyh added. "This is an ex-stripper who's trying to extort somebody that she thinks is a target. That's all it is."

So maybe Emil Brown is really a stand-up guy who just likes to invite strippers to his house for his own personal enjoyment, allegedly not unlike former Kansas City Chiefs footballers Mike Bragg, Greg Wesley, Ryan Sims, Dante Hall and Craphonso Thorpe. According to Jennifer's testimony, she and her stripper friends had frequented the houses of said players, and one of her friends dated Bragg. Allegedly.

I attempted to read the 150+ page deposition given by Ms. Haigh, but halfway throu....zzzzzzzzzz.

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Hey remember way back in March when we wrote up li'l previews for the six divisions and made wild predictions about the standings? Yeah, we were about as good at prognosticating as Jose Vidro is at hitting. MARINERS ZING! But hey, who among you really thought the Cardinals would be in second and the Indians in dead last? Not us. And who among you really thought Obama would beat Hillary despite losing primaries in New York, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio? Not us.

Here are our predictions, followed by their actual standings so far:

AL CENTRAL (CTC)
   1. Detroit Tigers (actually in 3rd, off by two)
   2. Cleveland Indians (actually in 5th, off by three)
   3. Kansas City Royals (actually in 4th, off by one)
   4. Chicago White Sox (actually in 1st, off by three)
   5. Minnesota Twins (actually in 2nd, off by three)
These picks were off by an average of 2.4 places in the standings.

NL EAST (Rob)
   1. New York Mets (actually in 2nd, off by one)
   2. Atlanta Braves (actually in 4th, off by two)
   3. Philadelphia Philles (actually in 1st, off by two)
   4. Florida Marlins (actually in 3rd, off by one)
   5. Washington Nationals (DIRECT HIT)
These picks were off by an average of 1.2 places in the standings.

AL WEST (CTC)
   1. LA Angels (DIRECT HIT)
   2. Seattle Mariners (actually in 4th, off by two)
   3. Texas Rangers (DIRECT HIT)
   4. Oakland Athletics (actually in 2nd, off by two)
These picks were off by an average of 1 place in the standings.

NL CENTRAL (Rob)
   1. Chicago Cubs (DIRECT HIT)
   2. Milwaukee Brewers (actually in 3rd, off by one)
   3. Cincinnati Reds (actually in 4th, off by one)
   4. Houston Astros (actually in 6th, off by two)
   5. Pittsburgh Pirates (DIRECT HIT)
   6. St. Louis Cardinals (actually in 2nd, off by four)
These picks were off by an average of 1.333 places in the standings.

NL WEST (Rob)
   1. Arizona Diamondbacks (DIRECT HIT)
   2. LA Dodgers (DIRECT HIT)
   3. Colorado Rockies (actually in 4th, off by one)
   4. San Diego Padres (actually in 5th, off by one)
   5. San Fran Giants (actually in 3rd, off by two)
These picks were off by an average of 0.8 places in the standings.

AL EAST (CTC)
   1. Boston Red Sox (DIRECT HIT)
   2. New York Yankees (actually in 3rd, off by one)
   3. Toronto Blue Jays (actually in 4th, off by one)
   4. Tampa Bay Rays (actually in 2nd, off by two)
   5. Baltimore Orioles (DIRECT HIT)
These picks were off by an average of 0.8 places in the standings.

Well it looks like we pretty much nailed the AL East and NL West and fell flat on our faces in the AL Central. The season is just 60% done, however, so maybe those Indians will still rally!

As for our Prophesy of Mediocrity Contest, reader Sally is in the lead with three correct picks of the six third-place teams. She tabbed the Rangers, Marlins and Giants using the strategy of "picking last year's last place teams". For leading this contest at the All Star break, Sally gets to accompany me to the All Star Game tomorrow night! Lucky gal!

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Tonight is the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium and I'll be live-glogging it here at Walkoff Walk while I keep ESPN on mute. Heck, they'll have 20 consarn cameras and some of that super slow-motion replay nonsense, so why do I need to listen to Chris Berman, Steve Phillips, and Joe Morgan blathering on incessantly? So cancel your dinner plans, put the kids in their cages, and set the DVR for No Reservations. Be here at 8PM, good readers, and follow along as I make snide remarks about the families of professional baseball players!

Here are your participants:

  • Lance Berkman (22 ding-dongs) - The switch-hitting Fat Elvis will allegedly be hitting from the right side of the plate to preserve his power stroke. I expect an early exit, followed by a trip to Mike's Deli for a meatball sub.
  • Ryan Braun (22) - Braun's agent (and former Mariners prospect) Nez Balelo will be his BP pitcher for the contest. Wait a minute...the baseball player is a Jew and the agent is named Nez? Braun will be out after Round 1.
  • Josh Hamilton (20) - This lefty slugger is going to simply abuse The Stadium's short porch. Why? Because he once won a Little League Home Run Derby, and presumably he wasn't jacked up on coke back then either. He'll make the finals.
  • Evan Longoria (16) - Kid's got just 16 career homers but with a sweet swing and opposite field power, he'll notch some decent tater tots. Still, he'll be out early.
  • Justin Morneau (14) - This left-handed schlub was asked at the last minute to participate in the Derby only after Jason Giambi politely declined an invitation. Yes, Morneau is only here because a non-All Star said no. He'll make the semis and then fizzle late like the Twins do every year.
  • Grady Sizemore (22) - He's the best centerfielder in the majors and his good eye and power swing will send him to the semi-finals.
  • Dan Uggla (23) - Dan's just happy to be here.
  • Chase Utley (25) - Mr. Tastykakes is going to start out slow and then heat up to win this event, because that's what Phillies do.

In other ding-dong news, we send congratulations to reader Piazza3931 who won our Pick Three Players Who Will Hit Many Home Runs contest. He (she?) chose Carlos Beltran, Ryan Howard, and Adam Dunn who combined for 32 ding-dongs since June 11th. Howard led all players with 13 tater tots in that span while Beltran's 9 and Dunn's 10 made them solid picks. Shame on reader Bill J for picking Pujols, Manny and Soriano who combined for 5 measly homers. Here's the final tally.

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Here's what happened in baseball as the first 'half' ended:

Brewers 3, Reds 2: Good thing Milwaukee traded for CC Sabathia otherwise they'd have been swept by the Reds. Big Boy tater-totted in his complete game victory over Cincinnati while striking out nine Reds. Heck, he sent all three ninth inning batters down via K (granted it was Corey Patterson, David Ross and Joey Votto). Craig Counsell's walkoff sac fly won it for the Brew Crew, and then he was carded at the after party at Victor's. Jerry Hairston Jr. got hurt again, extending the 2008 Curse of Reds Shortstops.

Indians 5, Rays 2: I kept telling you but nobody ever listens to me. The Rays' downfall would come on the road, and it did. The lowly Cleveland Indians completed a four-game sweep and handed Tampa Bay its seventh loss in a row. Shit, the Rays haven't won in Cleveland since Justice Roberts' reign of terror began Hey the Red Sox are in first place at the All Star break! WHO KNEW! Jhonny Peralta's three RBI toppled Rays ace Scott Kazmir and reliever Tom Mastny collected his first win of the year.

Giants 4, Cubs 2: You can have your Rich Hardens and your Carlos Zambranos, Cubs fans, but you'll never get any Tim Lincecums no matter how many Matt Murtons you put out on the market. Mr. Lincecum struck out nine Cubs in eight innings strong while adding an RBI triple for good measure. He out-dueled the previously-undefeated-at-home Ryan Dempster who has never beaten the mighty Giants. Ray Durham had a two-RBI single and then beat up a vagrant after the game. Just kidding. He clothed the poor and healed the sick.

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The Rangers lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Angels last night 11-10 in eleven innings. Texas had staged a pretty decent comeback after being down 10-4 in the fourth inning, thanks to tater tots by Marlon Byrd and Max Ramirez and some stellar shutout bullpennery by Eddie Guardado, C.J. Wilson, and Frank Francisco. Texas skipper (and Josh Hamilton favorite) Ron Washington was ejected in the seventh for arguing that Chris Davis' RBI double should have been a home run, and bench coach Art Howe took over.

Reliever Jamey Wright allowed the go-ahead run to the Angels in the top of the 11th, but the Rangers had a chance to score in the home half. Brandon Boggs led off with a walk and catcher Max Ramirez attempted a sac bunt. Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez fumbled the ball, though, and Texas was set up with runners on first and second with no outs and HOTTEST HITTER IN THE LEAGUE Ian Kinsler coming up.

So what does Grandpa Art Howe do? He has Kinsler attempt a bunt, which of course is popped up to the pitcher for the first out. Ramon Vazquez struck out and Michael Young grounded out to end the game. I think it's ridiculous to play for the tie down one run at home with the hottest hitter in baseball at the dish, but Walkoff Walk friend Evan Grant sees it both ways:

If Kinsler swings away, there is a better-than-zero chance of a double-play grounder and also the chance that while he gets the tying run to third base, maybe the winning run doesn't get into scoring position. And the Rangers were trying to win the game in the 11th. They really didn't have enough pitching to go much further.

Good point, but how do you weigh the chances of a GIDP against the chances that Kinsler will be unable to bunt against a 99 MPH throwing K-Rod?

Now that we've voted for the final members of each All Star team, we can head over to Vegas Watch and vote on who you think should be recalled from the All Star Game. What, no Billy Wagner? [Vegas Watch]

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Our good friends in Philadelphia breathed a sigh of relief when superstar slugger Ryan Howard knocked out two tater tots in the Phillies' big 4-1 win over the Cardinals yesterday. He's now leading the majors in homers (and strikeouts) and leading the NL in RBI (and errors by a first baseman). Says Enrico of The 700 Level:

    After yesterday's win, a friend of mine told me about the pleasure he got from telling off his buddies who earlier in the season were calling for Howard to be traded. I like to think I never abandoned Ryan when he was mired in struggles. Sure, I made a few jokes here and there about "how many strikeouts will RyHo get tonight?" But I had faith the former MVP would find his stroke. And he has.

You have good faith in your favorite team's star players, friend. Ryan Howard has been one of the top hitting first basemen in baseball over the past three years. Even better, he just seems like a nice fella the way the media portrays him. Aw, his mom gives him an allowance still. How precious!

Kid's got 156 ding-dongs over his 503 game career; project him out to a 16 year career and he'll notch over 650 homers. The problem arises however: can we really project him out that far? Check out RyHo's Baseball-Reference page and look at his similar batters. Sure, there's no Dave Kingman (thankfully) but there is:

  • Norm Cash (925)
  • Cecil Fielder (909)
  • ...
  • Mo Vaughn (884)

Norm Cash had a very good 19 year career in the offensively-challenged 1960's and ended up with 377 career homers. Not bad, especially with a career OPS of .862. However, Cecil Fielder and Mo Vaughn experienced an enormous amount of success early in their careers and then fell off miserably after age 32. Perhaps Fielder's career was stunted by Gamblor and perhaps Mo Vaughn's career was stunted by Krispy Kremes, but the fact remains: Ryan Howard is a larger-than-average, power-hitting, poor-fielding first baseman who strikes out about 1.3 times per game.

For the most part, Howard has been quite popular in Philadelphia, what with his MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. But general manager Pat Gillick was reluctant to give him a big payday with an extended contract and perhaps this is why. I like the big fella and I want to see him break out of the career mold set so poorly by Vaughn and Fielder; only time will tell.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you were thinking like a cannonball shooting out a cannon:

Indians 13, Rays 2: I told you Tampa Bay would struggle on the road! You didn't listen, but I was right. The Rays have now lost four in a row since they packed their Travelpro luggage and started jetting about the country. Ben Francisco, David Dellucci, Casey Blake and Shin Soo Choo provided the tater tots for the Cleve while Aaron Laffey notched his fifth win with six solid. Andy Sonnanstine was victimized for five singles and four extra-base hits and ate his fourth loss. It tasted like sardine ice cream.

Pirates 4, Yankees 2: Well Joe Girardi, I told you not to take that layover in Pittsburgh on the way to Toronto but you insisted on making up that rainout. Well you've made your bed and now you'll have to shit in it as Paul Maholm was nasty over eight innings and Nate McLouth ding-donged the game winner off Jose Veras. Mike Mussina pitched well and even added the first 2008 hit by a Yankee pitcher, but what does it matter when your offense and defense's collective minds are already in the halycon city of Toronto?

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: Adam Lind walkoff single Toronto sweep George Sherrill blown save Jeremy Guthrie wasted start Vernon Wells DL 22,279 attendance blah blah blah. No other night games have ended by the time my eyelids got too heavy to finish this whole recap dealie. The American League East basement will have to do, y'all! Hey look, House Hunters! Zzzzz

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (17)
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Hey kids, check out your local purveyors of televised baseball to find out:

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.

  • With the Padres' season effectively over, the folks at Gaslamp Ball are undertaking the time-tested tradition of assembling a fictional All Star team using characters from baseball movies. Go vote for the chimp. Gaslamp Ball.

  • Ken Mandel gets down to the nitty gritty reporting and finds out which Phillies pitchers are dropping the punctuation from their names. Hint: none. MLB.com.

  • Wille the Groundskeeper is ticked off that his unobstructed view of the Capitol dome has been rendered partially-obstructed by a big red tent. I guess Nationals fans are finding new ways to not look at the Nationals lose ballgames. Half Street Blues.

  • The folks at Cardinals Diaspora are grieving the possible end of Mark Mulder's career while reacting critically to the terrible two year option that St. Louis picked up on the guy. In the accompanying picture, it looks like he is turning into the Michelin Man. Cardinals Diaspora.

  • Kurt puts his nose to the ol' grindstone and compares the pitching rotations of the National League contenders. What, no love for the Mets? GoatRiders of the Apocalypse.

  • Julia Nunes covered R.E.M. with some funny-looking chick. YouTube.

Massive news out of Oakland today as the Seattle Mariners have released first baseman Richie Sexson.

The move was announced by Lee Pelekoudas, the team's vice president and general manager. "We felt that at this time it was in the best interest of the ballclub, and in Richie's best interest, to make this move" Pelekoudas said in a statement released by the team. Sexson, 33, was hitting .218 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 74 games this season.

Sexson is still owed the remainder of the $14 million he was s'posed to earn in the final year of his $50 million contract.

So, does any team need a tall, good-fielding first baseman who gets on base a lot and has the same power output as a triple A battery? Richie Sexson needs work, y'all.

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With Shea Stadium set to be imploded/dismantled/burned to the ground after this season is through, Mets fans all over the greater Long Island area are foaming at the mouth for the next great ballpark to arise from the ashes. Citi Field is going to look like Ebbets Field and feel like Camden Yards, but most notably, it's gonna taste like heaven:

While we've all known for awhile that Danny Meyer had a deal cooking with the new Mets stadium, Citi Field, the Union Square Hospitality Group just released the most detailed line up of the offerings to date. In addition to the rumored Shake Shack and Blue Smoke the new stadium will also have a yet-to-be-named taqueria featuring "authentic" tacos and Pop Fries, USHG's new fry stand concept (think the East Village's Pomme Frites).

Flushing, Queens is a pretty far trip from my home base in Jersey, and yet even with my hatred of the Mets, I guarantee I will make the three-train trip to this place just to eat my way through the concourses. Shake Shack's original location is in New York City's own Madison Square Park and features some of the most delicious and fresh hamburgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, and hand-spun milkshakes in the world. Blue Smoke is an urban BBQ joint and I can imagine they'll be pumping out Memphis-style pork ribs by the rack. And 'authentic' tacos? Sounds delish!

Also, I would love to watch Carlos Beltran strike out while downing some pommes frites with some saffron-infused mayo.

No telling what kind of local beer they'll be serving at the park, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some Brooklyner Weisse beer from the good folks at Brooklyn Brewery. Full disclosure: this beer made my pee smell funny last weekend.

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A day after giving up a career high seven walks and six runs in just four innings, Cincinnati Reds ace Aaron Harang is due to have an MRI on his throwing arm today, and Dusty Baker is absolutely perplexed.

Says Dusty:

    "He didn't say anything. There were some balls in one inning in the 90s, then the next inning they'd be in the mid-80's. I don't know. This is puzzling. This has gone on quite a while. I just don't have an answer."

Well Dusty, let's revisit Harang's year, shall we? Prior to May 25th, Harang was 2-6 with a 3.50 ERA. He was pitching well for a crappy team. On May 25th, the Reds played that 18-inning game in San Diego and Dusty sent Aaron in for FOUR innings and SIXTY-THREE pitches on just TWO days rest. In the eight starts since that game (which the Reds lost, natch) Harang is 1-5 with a 7.31 ERA.

Kid had been the best pitcher in Cincinnati for the past couple years, going 32-17 with an ERA of 3.75. I'm not saying that the Dusty Baker hire is the reason that Harang has seen his ERA increase by over a run this year, but I'm not ruling it out either. Harang had missed last Saturday's start against Washington due to soreness in his elbow and yet Baker saw it fit to keep him in the game for 108 pitches.

Harang has been an extremely durable pitcher in his short career, averaging nearly 108 pitches across his 33 starts last season. But obviously, something's amiss now, and perhaps the best idea would have been to send him for an MRI before taxing the arm for 108 pitches. Baseball Prospectus measures "Pitcher Abuse Points" (subscription req'd) and four of the 25 most abused NL pitchers are Reds. Aaron Harang is number seven on the list. Granted, PAPs don't necessarily indicate that a pitcher's arm is in danger, but it's not at all surprising to see 80% of the Reds rotation at the top of this list.

So Dusty, next time a pitcher complains about arm soreness, send him down the hall to the nurse's office and at least get the kid a lolly.

Thanks to erudite reader Mike L. for sending this gem our way.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you said 'hello' to never:

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 0: Something tells me that Arizona has tumbled into some sort of purgatory that will keep them hovering one game above and one game below .500 for the remainder of the season. Hey the Yankees were in that fateful boat too and then Jason Giambi grew a moustache! Anywho, John Lannan pitched a gem for Warshington, going six scoreless innings against a lineup sans Eric Byrnes and sans Justin Upton. Jesus Flores had a three-run pinch-hit tater-tot. Full of hyphen-y goodness!

Tigers 8, Indians 6: Miguel Cabrera's walkoff two-run ding-dong off Jensen Lewis was the difference maker but let's really stick the blame on Rafael Betancourt. The Indians reliever gave up three runs in the ill-fated seventh inning, ruining an actual effective outing from Paul Byrd. Detroit actually came back from a six run deficit in this one. Tiger rightfielder Matt Joyce was a perfectly cromulent hitter in the five hole, falling a triple short of the cycle and knocking in three runs. Crazy blogger Todd Jones pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a lucky win, his fourth on the year.

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 8: Balty-more's six-run sixth was not enough to topple Toronto's seven-run fourth inning as the two least interesting AL East teams battled it out for fourth place. Both starters were charged with seven runs but A.J. Burnett somehow eked out a win, despite going just 5 and a third innings and allowing seven hits and three walks. Vernon Wells left the game in the seventh with a leg injury and was replac...oh who cares. The Yankees won, the Rays lost, and the Red Sox won. There's your AL East recap.

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Get ready for complete and utter homerism, folks. I'm live-glogging the New York Yankees for the first time this season as they face the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx. The Yanks are 6-5 against the Rays this season and look to move one game closer to first place with a win today.

Your starters today are Sid Ponson (5-1, 4.19 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (5-6, 4.08 ERA). Sir Sidney took his only loss this year in Tampa but he picked up his only two 2007 wins against the Devil Rays. It's basically the same light-hitting team, except without a Devil and with better defense. Jackson, however, is making his fourth start against the Yankees this season. He's 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA and has struck out 13 Yanks in 18 innings. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez tater-totted off Jackson last year and are OPS'ing over 1.000 against the righty. Get yer lineups over here.

Enough of the intros, let's get glogging! It's Free Moustache Day at The Stadium! There's a jump down there!

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I think I just threw up in my mouth. The Boston Red Sox have taken this Red Sox Nation lark a little bit too far now. First, the team incorporated the 'nation' concept and solicited $250 memberships from Sox fans. Then, they elected this goofball to be their fucking president. Now, they're expanding upon the republican concept of an aggregation of states and electing governors:

The Boston Red Sox today announced the selection of the first-ever Governors of Red Sox Nation. One Governor was chosen from each of the six New England states. An outgrowth of the Red Sox Nation "Five-Point Plan" announced this past spring, the Governors program will aim to provide unique access for some of the most loyal Red Sox fans and collect valuable feedback from a diverse collection of Red Sox Nation citizens and members.

Well congratu-fucking-lations, Red Sox fans. You've fallen for the oldest marketing ploy in the books. The Nation received over 800 applications from the six states for the position of 'governor' and are now opening the competition up to the remaining 46 states (and Warshington D.C. too!) Good job becoming the world's dopiest focus group. Sorry, Red Sox fans, but the Red Sox corporation isn't as interested in your fandom and support as it is in your pocketbooks and kidneys in case Manny Ramirez needs one.

How much further will this go? Will the states soon be electing senators? Will congressional districts be created and gerrymandered to elect representatives? When will a third branch of gub'mint in Red Sox Nation be added to judge the constitutionality of laws like "Red Sox citizens must cheer for Kevin Millar in his first at-bat and then boo him in subsequent at-bats"? THIS IS ALL SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL!

Screw it, I think I'm going to apply to become Red Sox Nation's governor of New Jersey. Instead of filing out a proper application, though, I'm going to send in taint pics. Perhaps even my own taint.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you watched this amazing video:

Yankees 5, Rays 0: Andy Pettitte's eight strong shutout innings topped Scott Kazmir's nine strikeouts over five innings while Derek Jeter's defense was absolutely Jeterian. Pettitte also picked up his 1,500th strikeout as a Yankee and Jeter added two RBI. Tampa falls to 19-20 on the road. Heck, those silly Devil Rays had better learn to win ballgames outside of the St. Petersburg Terrordome if they really want to impress this fella; they've got 42 road games remaining against just 31 home games. Yes, this was like the Super Bowl for Yankees fans.

Red Sox 6, Twins 5: Manny Ramirez' two-run ding-dong over the Green Monster tied the game in the eighth; Kevin Youkilis followed with a double and Brandon Moss finished with the game winning RBI single. Twins starter Nick Blackburn's solid six inning nickgasm went to shit when reliever Matt Guerrier gave up four runs in that fateful eighth. Nick Punto's leadoff double (nickgasm!) in the ninth off Jon Papelbon went for naught. Minny loses its second one-run game in a row and things haven't been this bad in Minneapolis since Chuckles bit the dust.

Mets 7, Giants 0: Everybody off the Tim Lincecum train. Kid gave up tater tots to Carloses Delgado and Beltran in a loss to the Mets. New York outhit San Fran 14-3.

Cardinals 2, Phillies 0: And now the Mets are just 1.5 games behind Philly for first place, thanks to the solo ding-dong power of Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.

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Massive trade news: the Oakland Athletics bolstered their playoff chances by acquiring Corey Patterson's little brother Eric from the Cubs. They gave up pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin and also received pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton, and someone named Josh Donaldson.

Eric Patterson is a speedy little outfield guy who hit .237 with 1 home run, 7 runs batted in and 2 stolen bases in 13 games in Chicago this season. Expect the A's to demote center fielder Carlos Gonzalez to double A Midland in favor of SOMEBODY RELATED TO COREY PATTERSON.

(We owe a Coke to the Hardball fellas)

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

  • Adrian Gonzalez has way too much aw-shucks humility to compete in the Home Run Derby. Even worse, his kid brother and teammate Edgar won't be at Yankee Stadium to cheer on his big bro because he has to spend time with his wife. Gaslamp Ball.

  • The gang at U.S.S. Mariner are kinda bored with the Mariners season so they decided to post odds for the Seattle GM search. What, no odds for Steve Phillips? U.S.S. Mariner.

  • Fifth Outfielder gets their hands on a Ned Colletti interview and dissects it. Actually, 'tears Colletti a new asshole' would be a more apt metaphor. Fifth Outfielder.

  • Nobody had as big a laugh about the Mariners using a backup catcher to pitch the 15th inning than this guy. I mean, NOBODY. Futon Report.

  • Joe Sheehan analyzes the CC Sabathia trade and deems that it was a worthy one, even if the Brewers only improve by two or three wins. I agree, if only because Miller Park will see a 10% increase in attendance and a 85% increase in cheese fries consumption. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Fun stuff to put in your garden: the undead. Boing Boing Gadgets.
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Like matter and anti-matter, humidifiers and de-humidifiers, and dog food and rat poison, sabermetricians and traditionally-minded baseball folk can sometimes produce dangerous results when mixed. Exceptions can sometimes be made, like when you're trying to kill your girlfriend's chihuahua, or when Baseball Think Factory picks up a Walkoff Walk piece and stathead Voros McCracken posts a comment on the item:

In my old age, I try and give the benefit of the doubt in most cases. But, like Cam Bonifay, there just aren't any excuses for Chuck LaMar. The first four years in the history of Devil Rays baseball were among the most clueless and inept I've ever seen. That these years are so obviously critical to getting the franchise off on the right foot with its potential fans makes it doubly so.

Oh brilliant, McCracken agrees with our own Camp Tiger Claw! Voros is credited with inventing DIPS, a system of statistics that measure a pitcher's performance independently from the crappy fielders who play behind him. For example, DIPS could effectively measure Andy Pettitte's value without taking into account Derek Jeter's total lack of range to his left side. McCracken eventually landed a cushy consulting job with the Red Sox and now maintains his own blog.

Camp Tiger Claw, on the other hand, is a self-described thick-skulled believer in baseball tradition and tends to lean on jokes. He shuns fancy statistics, partly because he believes they are overtly snooty and partly because he doesn't understand 'math'. But he's no Joe Morgan, and he's no cretin; CTC totally digs on OPS. Still, he wrote a great critical piece on former Tampa Bay GM LaMar. Glad to see that the baseballblogosphere agrees on at least one thing: Chuck LaMar was not good.

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Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal was having the April of his life before injuring his back in May. He was getting on base at a .448 clip and he socked five tater tots in just 32 games. Kid was supposed to come back near the All Star break, but lower back surgery put that return date off until September.

In the 57 games since Furcal's back hit the skids, Joe Torre has used an unhealthy combination of Angel Berroa, Chin-Lung Hu, Luis Maza, and yes, Nomar Garciaparra at short. All those fellas mixed up would give anyone a case of the heartburn. Nomar at short plus Jeff Kent at second base would pretty much open up the middle of the infield for an explosion of ground ball singles, aka Derek Lowe Syndrome.

So what is wacky general manager Ned Colletti to do? He already decided not to give up outfielder Matt Kemp in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes. Fair move. Now Neddy needs a shortstop, so he's going after the obvious solutions to his problem: Jack Wilson or David Eckstein.

Wilson is the longest tenured Pittsburgh Pirate and has never been much of a 'professional hitter'. No matter, he's got a stellar glove and he's quite popular amongst the Yinzer faithful. Sorry Ned, he's probably staying put.

As for Eckstein, his Blue Jay team is quite ready to dump him. They're looking for a longer term solution at shortstop who can actually, you know, hit and you know, field. Fella's gonna be a free agent at the end of the season anyway so the Jays won't suffer if they don't get rid of him right away. Try again, Ned.

It's a seller's market, for sure. If Ned makes no trades and if something completely expected happens (i.e. Nomar getting hurt), Colletti will be that much more desperate. I think Maury Wills is available.

(We owe a Coke to Bucs Dugout)

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Here's what happened in baseball while you walked to a town that all of us burn:

Red Sox 1, Twins 0: Yes, Boston won the game on Manny Ramirez' eighth inning RBI single up the middle but Minnesota won something far more important: the hearts and minds of a national viewing audience. We were treated to some fantastic pitching by Scott Baker and some amazing defensive plays by right fielder Denard Span and center fielder-slash-Mets castoff Carlos Gomez. True, they were not Wizard Cat-worthy, but it's nice to see a team keep their pitcher happy with some delightful glovework. Daisuke Matsuzaka got the hard-luck no-decision despite his season high 7 and 1/3 shutout innings tallied.

Pirates 10, Astros 7: Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit continued their assault on the airspace above PNC Park. Their ding-dongs off Royals castoff Runelvys Hernandez powered Pittsburgh to a tidy win over hapless Houston. The Pirates' 10 runs in the first four innings were more runs than they scored all weekend in a sweep at the hands of the mighty Brewers. Ed Wade's super-awesome offseason acquisition Hernandez allowed all 10 runs in 4 innings of work, raising his ERA to a tidy 10.29.

Mets 10, Phillies 7 9: Super-awesome All Star reliever Billy Wagner actually saved a game, despite allowing the first two runners to reach via a double and a walk. Okay I shouldn't write these recaps before the game ends. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and down 0-2 in the count, pinch hitter Pedro Feliz grounded a single up the middle that scored Shane Victorino; Eric Bruntlett scored on Carlos Beltran's throwing error. Wagner got Jayson Werth to fly out to end the game though. After being down 10-1, the Phillies scored the final eight runs of the game but fell just short, prompting me to ask: "HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, PHILLIES FANS?"

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The good folks at subscription-only Sports Business Journal posted TV ratings numbers for each baseball team today, but superstar D.C. sports bogger Dan Steinberg was kind enough to report that the Washington Nationals are dead last in the ratings game:

"More to the point, the lowest average household numbers, aside from the Nats, watch the Royals (28,000), Orioles (33,000) and Pirates (34,000). To repeat, the Nationals' number was 9,000, less than a third of the viewership in next-to-last Kansas City. The lowest average ratings, aside from the Nats, are found watching the Angels (1.24), Rangers (1.49) and Dodgers (1.57). To repeat, the Nationals' number was 0.39."

The viewers are down 43% from last season. Yes, the team's outfield is historically awful and the team has seen a ton of injuries to their best players, but only 9,000 households per game? Do people just watch 227 re-runs over and over again in DC? Add "television ratings" to the list of things in which the Washington Nationals rank dead list. Here's a sample:

In comparison, approximately 325,000 households watch Yankees games and 233,000 households watch Red Sox games. The Sox number would be far higher if the Nielsen company actually counted people watching in bars/taverns/pubs/Southie boarding houses.

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The entire baseballblogosphere is up in arms over the American League players' selection of Jason Varitek to the All Star team, but really, it's just an unfortunate result of a poor voting system. Joe Mauer received 554 player votes while Varitek got just 159 votes; since Mauer was already elected in by the fans, the second place catcher automatically makes the team. Varitek is having an historically awful year at the plate but I can assure you that most players (even Varitek hisself, I bet) are smart enough to realize that A.J. Pierzynski is more deserving of a nod here.

Still, the selection of Billy Wagner to the National League squad is a far more egregious misstep. Do you think the man with SIX blown saves this season will get into the game? Sure, the Mets needed a representative to the game, but why not take the NL's fifth best ERA in Johan Santana? Why not take the second best third baseman in David Wright? Why not take the best all-around centerfielder in Carlos Beltran? Why not take the saddest mascot ever in Mr. Met?

In terms of Baseball Prospectus' stat WXRL (win expectancy added over replacement level) that rates relief pitchers, Wagner sits at 50th place in the National League. He's behind Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoeneweis on his own team, and at 0.715, he's more than three wins behind league leader Brad Lidge. Wagner has blown six games in 2008 but because of his team's good fortune, he's lost only one game.

Wagner's strikeout-to-walk ratio is very good at 41:8 but he's allowed four tater tots that have each led to a blown save. He usually comes into the game at the start of an inning but in other certain situations, he's inherited five runners and allowed three of them to score. Yuck.

So don't expect NL manager Clint Hurdle to motion for Wagner in the bottom of the ninth with a lead. I'm sure he'll want to preserve his Rockies' chance of having home field advantage in the 2008 World Series.

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According to this All Star report from Sports Illustrated, the two starting pitchers in the All Star Game will be Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb. Now, don't misunderstand my intentions here: Lee and Webb are great pitchers who deserve their moment under the lights in Yankee Stadium. I endorsed their election to the team and will be glad to cheer for them next Tuesday night.

Still, are these really the two best pitchers in their respective leagues, or are they merely being rewarded for a super-hot start to the season? Let's take a look at their stats split at a completely meaningless date:

Lee, before May 12: 6-0, 0.67 ERA

Lee, since May 12: 5-1, 3.72 ERA

Webb, before May 1: 5-0. 1.80 ERA

Webb, since May 1: 6-4, 4.21 ERA

Perhaps Cliff Lee has not fallen off as much as I'd thought. He's 11-1 for a last place team, so that should count for something. But in the National League, maybe another one-loss pitchers should have earned himself a starting nod. San Francisco stud Tim Lincecum is 10-1 with a 2.49 ERA and leads the league in strikeouts with 122. He's the best pitcher in baseball and his team is just 26-43 on days he doesn't pitch. Lincecum may be young but he's earned more than just a roster spot; he should be starting this game.

And yes, I am a total Yankees homer who wants to see Mariano Rivera start the game. Sue me.

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Here's what happened in baseball while you were kept grounded, sad and cursed:

Rangers 11, Orioles 10: The Rangers bullpen were handed a tidy six-run lead after a top o' the eighth Texas explosion but did everything in their power to make this an exciting contest. Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson allowed three Oriole tater tots as Baltimore moved within one run before Wilson struck out Brian Roberts to end the game. Kevin Millwood somehow earned a win despite allowing five runs in five innings.

Braves 7, Astros 6 (17): This one actually lasted longer than the Nadal-Federer five hour five set classic. Heck, Bobby Cox done got ejected in the fifth and this contest still went twelve more innings without the Braves manager. Houston had a lead but closer Jose Valverde blew it in the eighth when he allowed a two-run single to Yunel Escobar. The teams then played eight straight scoreless innings before Mark Teixeira finally hit a walkoff bases-bloated single in the seventeenth. What, no walkoff walk? Dickhead.

Tigers 2, Mariners 1 (15): The Mariners had no chance once manager Jim Riggleman was forced to use backup catcher Jamie Burke as his seventh pitcher of the day during the top of the fifteenth inning. Miguel Cabrera's double set up the winning sac fly by Marcus Thames and Jim Leyland was lucky enough to have lunatic Todd Jones to save the game in the bottom half. Willie Bloomquist, Ichiro Suzuki, and Adrian Beltre also volunteered to pitch once the Mariners' bullpen had worn thin. Where the heck was Norm Charlton?

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With the All Star rosters being announced today at 2PM on TBS, I figured this was my last chance to stick my chest out and list which pitchers I would put in the All Star game. Yes, I am violating both my gentleman's agreement with CTC to not blog this holiday weekend and my own antipathy towards weekend blogging, but here goes:

I'll name twelve pitchers per league but I won't reserve specific slots for relievers or starters.

American League:

  1. Cliff Lee (11-1 record, 2.26 ERA) - he's fallen off a bit but still the #1 guy
  2. John Danks (5-4, 2.50)- no flashy record but great numbers
  3. Roy Halladay (10-6, 2.88) - six complete games and best K:BB ratio
  4. Justin Duchscherer (9-5, 1.96) - simply unhittable
  5. Jon Lester (7-3, 3.21) - need a Red Sock pitcher
  6. Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.83) - need a Mariner player
  7. Joe Saunders (12-4, 3.04) - AL wins leader
  8. Mike Mussina (11-6, 3.64) - does crosswords and is sarcastic
  9. Mariano Rivera (23 saves) - zero blown saves
  10. Francisco Rodriguez (34 saves) - record-breaking pace for saves
  11. Joe Nathan (24 saves) - saves really close games
  12. Joakim Soria (23 saves) - need a Royal

National League:

  1. Tim Lincecum (10-1, 2.49) - best pitcher in baseball
  2. Edinson Volquez (10-3, 2.24) - only reason to watch Reds games
  3. Ben Sheets (10-2, 2.77) - high strikeouts, low walks
  4. Dan Haren (8-5, 2.83) - surpassed Webb as best D-back
  5. Cole Hamels (9-5, 3.22) - hope his arm don't fall off
  6. Carlos Zambrano (9-3, 2.96) - strikeouts are down but so are tater tots
  7. Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.19) - carrying a hurt pitching staff in ATL
  8. Aaron Cook (11-5, 3.38) - need a Rockie
  9. Johan Santana (7-7, 2.96) - can't blame him for his shitty team
  10. Brandon Webb (12-4, 3.43) - gaudy win total
  11. Brad Lidge (19 saves) - he's Senor Shutdown this year
  12. Brian Wilson (24 saves) - has saved 61% of Giants wins

So there you have it. No Kerry Wood, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, or Braden Looper. No Cliff Floyd, Vicente Padilla, Andy Sonnanstine, Scott Kazmir, George Sherrill, or Jonathan Papelbon. So sue me.

Holiday Weekend Questions

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

  • WHICH American League East team won't lose ground to the streaking Rays, the Yankees or the Red Sox?

  • CAN the Cardinals build on their good 22-17 record against their own division and make up a two-and-a-half game deficit as they host the Cubs?

  • WILL Oakland's pitching staff carry the team when they head to Chicago for a four-game set with the red hot White Sox?

  • MIGHT the Giants finally start winning some home games against the Dodgers and pull closer to the NL West 'leading' Diamondbacks?

  • IF the Phillies sweep the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, will Matt Cerrone break another toe?

  • DO you really think you can make it all weekend without reading this Will Carroll-recommended piece on Tim Lincecum in Sports Illustrated?

Then meet us back here on Monday morning for the answers to these questions and other questions you never thought of asking. Enjoy your Independence Day weekend!

Thanks again to Vernon Balanza for taking such great pictures of Lady Liberty

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Rookie pitcher Clayton Kershaw was all the talk of the baseballblogosphere this spring. Baseball Prospectus touted him as the #1 prospect in the Dodgers organization, and still has him ranked the #5 prospect in all of baseball. So Kershaw was called up to the big leagues in May and started his first game against the Cardinals, a quality start that earned him a no-decision as the game was decided in extra innings. Since then, the 20-year-old has been pretty average and has compiled an 0-2 record in 8 starts with a 4.42 ERA, just about league average.

But with starter Hiroki Kuroda coming of the DL this week, the Dodgers sent Kershaw back to double-A Jacksonville, where he was so successful in late 2007 and early 2008. Kershaw isn't too happy with getting sent back to the Jax Suns, as per Tony Jackson:

"Any way you spin it, I'm getting sent down. They can say they didn't have enough room, but they (brought) me up when they didn't have enough room, because all those (pitchers) were healthy then."

That's a nice way of saying "GODDAMNIT. JACKSONVILLE? You couldn't send me to Triple-A Las Vegas??" In order to illustrate what a Jacksonville Suns game is like, please watch this video. Done? Anyone in the right state of mind would rather be sent to Vegas than Jacksonville. Well, except Marcus Giles.

June in Review

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Remember Opening Day? That was three 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

June was fun. In the American League Central, the Detroit Tigers fought their way back into contention while the Cleveland Indians fell behind the Kansas City Royals for last place. Over in the East, the Red Sox and Rays continue to battle it out for first place with the Yankees and Orioles barely staying afloat over .500. Out West, the Angels and A's pitching staffs continue to dominate while the Mariners fired half their staff and yet continue to pay Jose Vidro to play baseball.

In the Senior Circuit, no team was hotter than the...uhh....well no team was really hot, thanks to interleague play. The NL got their asses handed to them on a platter by the AL teams, especially the East-leading Phillies. In the West, Arizona plummeted to a .500 record but hang onto a good-sized lead because the rest of their division eats it way harder.

Enough already. Let's peep these picks, after the jump...

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Here's what happened in baseball while you hit the ground running:

Marlins 4, Nationals 2: Alfredo Amezaga was amazing after an hour and a half rain delay. His two run tater tot propelled the Marlins to a series win over the Nationals and allowed Ricky Nolasco to earn his ninth win of the season. Reliever Charlie Manning took the loss in relief of Odalis Perez; Nolasco allowed just two runs on a two RBI single by Paul Lo Duca in the second and otherwise escaped unscathed.

Orioles 5, Royals 2: Daniel Cabrera needed no relief today until well after the game ended and he had consumed an entire five dollar foot long sub. Rolaids to the rescue for that cold cut concoction! Seriously folks, DanCabs pitched a complete game seven hitter to shut down the hapless Royals on 105 pitches. In the world of 'complete games', this rates about a C+, what with his wild pitch and balk. Snoozers! Aubrey Huff had a two-run ding dong in this affair.

Phillies 7, Braves 3: The Phils collected six extra base hits off Atlanta pitching and rolled to their first series win since Eisenhower rolled out the interstate system (or so). Adam Eaton was terrifically average in picking up his third win of the season, hurling five innings of five-hit, five-walk baseball. The Phillies bullpen was much better, giving up just a Chipper Jones home run in four innings of relief. Jones went 1-for-4, dipping his batting average to a Tony Gwynnesque .391.

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Oh goodness it's a late afternoon liveglog, unless you are a west coaster, where it is time for a post-lunch A's-Angels game. Hey, is it true that there is almost no humidity in Northern California? I'm literally soaked today in hot and humid New Jersey, but I hear good things about Marin County and the like.

Today, Dana Eveland looks to win the short series for the A's and he'll oppose southpaw Joey Saunders of the Angels. Your lineups can be found here. Wes Bankston done got called up from Triple-A Sacramento to replace Eric Chavez on Oakland's 25 man roster, and he'll get the start today at first base. I may be mistaken, but this seems to be his major league debut.

Rory Markas and Terry Smith are your home team announcers today on XM radio channel 181.

Let's glog! After le jump...

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The folks at the wildly popular sports blog U.S.S. Mariner have been sweeping up the souls of the eternally damned for the past few weeks as their beloved M's have taken up residence in the AL basement. Cheery, right?

Their latest victim of fingerpointing is Mr. Richie Sexson, who changed his batting stance to be more open last month. Former hitting coach Jeff Pentland was the one to make the suggestion that Sexson open his stance up, so don't go attacking Lee Elia for this one:

Sexson, up to May 26th: .200/.277/.413

Sexson, open-stanced since: .282/.384/.296
Or, if you're into OPS, that's .690 vs .680

Sexson actually tater-totted last night in a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays, but before that shot, he hadn't hit one out since May 24. In fact, he only had one extra base hit during that span, a double on June 24. Sexson had a total of 5 RBI during June and can no longer be considered a power hitter with a slugging percentage under .390 and fewer extra base hits than Yuniesky Betancourt.

Still, he's got value. He's a high OBP, good fielding first baseman. If Seattle were to DFA him like all the rumors have been pointing to, his ginormous salary would still be on the Mariners' books. There are many teams who would take a high OBP, good fielding first baseman as a bench player, especially at the prorated league minimum. Heck, the Yankees have no defensive replacement for late innings at first base. Giambi is the best fielding first baseman on the team, and I'd rather have minimum-salary-Sexson coming off the bench than the porous defense of Wilson Betemit.

Plus with the much-maligned Sexson on the much-hated Yankee team, bloggers heads might explode. That's a win-win.

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The New York Mets have been the walking wounded this season (especially their pitching staff which has allowed the the fourth most walks in the NL...zing!) but nothing could prepare the Shea-denfreude-filled baseball blogosphere for the latest Mets injury. Yes, the Mets best blogger stubbed his toe:

   According to a source close to MetsBlog.com, Matt Cerrone injured his toe while getting ready for work this morning and took himself to the emergency room for x-rays. Cerrone, who has previously been bothered by knee problems and peanut butter, is expected to miss at least several hours of posting on MetsBlog.

Looks like Matt's co-blogger Ted Berg has a good sense of humor about the affair. Ha! Peanut butter! But in an update to the post, Ted reveals that Matt went in for x-rays and it turns out Cerrone, who is on the payroll for the Mets' cable channel SNY, broke his metatarsal and will require crutches and a boot. Cerrone will join Moises Alou (strained left calf), Trot Nixon (inadequacy), Matt Wise (shoulder hurties), Angel Pagan (emotional distress), and Orlando Hernandez (wallaby rape) on the disabled list.

Seriously folks, Matt Cerrone is a great, prolific blogger and we here at Walkoff Walk wish him a quick and painless recovery. Just borrow some 'relaxatives' from Josh Hamilton.

The Ogden Raptors, a rookie league affiliate of the Dodgers, done got into a brawl with the Idaho Falls Chukars after the very first batter of the game. Here's your YouTubular proof of what happened after a simple hit batsman:


Yes, that's the Idaho Falls Chukars, affiliated with the Kansas City Royals and formerly known as the Idaho Falls Russets. A chukar is a consarned pheasant, which is far less impressive than their previous tater-tot nickname.

(via Tony Jackson)

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Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is a favorite target of us and practically any other funny and smart baseball blog, and for good reason. He's got a Type A personality but seemingly makes the worst possible moves in late and close situations. Heck, he even lets his team bat out of order. Still, he's been a successful manager for most of his career, and even finds a way to win games where he makes the worst moves. Take last night's contest against the Pirates, via Patrick Sullivan at Baseball Analysts, down 3-2 in the eighth and two runners on with no outs:

- Manager Dusty Baker put a bunt on with (Joey) Votto at the plate.
- Votto offered and fouled off a (Damaso) Marte pitch. He offered and missed the next. He fouled off an 0-2 pitch and then struck out on Marte's fourth pitch to him.
- (Edwin) Encarnacion came to the plate and battled through an impressive at-bat, only to strike out on the eighth Marte pitch he saw.
- With two outs and (Jay) Bruce set to come to the plate, Baker sent the reigning #1 Baseball America prospect back to the dugout in favor of...wait for it...Javier Valentin. "It couldn't possibly be the Javier Valentin with the .222/.275/.286 line," you say? It was. I watched it live. Valentin grounded out to end the inning.

The Reds put the first two runners on via a walk and single and failed to score. The sac bunt would have been a great idea if Joey Votto actually had 'bunt' in his skill set. True, he has a propensity to GIDP but let the kid swing away. He's got homer power!

Perhaps the end justifies the means, though, because Alberta Griffey's son Ken hit a pinch hit walkoff two-run tater tot, much to the surprise of Darren Baker.

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Here's what happened in baseball when I didn't think I'd find you perfect in so many ways"

Marlins 6, Nationals 5 (10): Walkoff wildness continues for the Nats, only this time they're on the shit end of the stick. Hanley Ramirez' ding-dong tied the game in the ninth and Josh Willingham's third career tater tot pushed the Marlins to the win. Jon Rauch ate the loss and it tasted quite bitter with a hint of tartness.

Blue Jays 2, Mariners 0: Sorry Seattle. You're not beating up on the little sisters of the poor anymore. After sweeping a weekend interleague series with the Padres, the Mariners got a handful of Halladay and it tasted like dirt with a hint of hay. Roy Halladay notched his tenth career shutout as Rod Barajas and Vernon Wells provided the run-scoring plays. R.A. Dickey was the hard luck loser, but don't feel bad for him, he's gonna play Xbox with the Mariner Moose to get over it.

Diamondbacks 6, Brewers 3: Former University of Virginia third baseman Mark Reynolds powered Arizona back to one game over .500 and Doug Davis improved his record to 3-3 with the win. Most importantly, Eric Byrnes strained his left hamstring just one week after coming off the DL with a strained right hamstring. Sucker.