Rob Iracane: September 2008 Archives

To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. Famed Joe Beimel fan Troy from West Virginia puts together a ten-minute video opus reviewing the Dodgers playoff roster and being generally awesome:


Thanks, Troy.

semiglog.jpg

Consider this post to serve as your landing point to discuss the one game playoff between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. I'll be on and off as the night progresses to share my awful witticisms, but I will not be true-glogging until the Brewers-Phillies tilt tomorrow afternoon. But hey, I made an amusing Photoshop to accompany this, so cut me some slack, Jack.

The game is on TBS and the live boxscore is at Yahoo. John Danks! Nick Blackburn! Playoff baseball is sorta happening in semiglog format!

7:43PM: Joe Mauer's lead in the batting race is 4 points. If he goes 0-for-5 tonight, Dustin Pedroia will earn the AL batting title and a severe increase in my ire. I love me some Joe Mauer.

7:53PM: Nice to hear Harold Reynolds being paid to talk about baseball again. Look out, Dick Stockton! He's trying to hug you!

7:58PM: Reynolds makes the case for Gardenhire to win the AL Manager of the Year award. Hal obviously didn't read CTC's latest Tavern Talking Points.

8:03PM: If we are forced to watch these Holiday Inn Express ads that are slowly eroding Philip Baker Hall's street cred throughout the entire playoff run, I am going to Polsky Punch myself in the face.

8:08PM: Major political news that means absolutely nothing to the outcome of this game: Gwen Ifill broke her ankle, y'all! But she's still gonna do her best to let Sarah Palin humiliate herself on Thursday night, so no worries.

8:13PM: On second thought, Governor Palin may say one or two intelligent things on Thursday night which will cause the entire mediasphere to laud her gumption. Hey, isn't it unfair that the location of this game was decided by coinflip? Shouldn't MLB decide it based on the season series betwixt the two teams (won by Minny)?

8:18PM: Sure, nobody's reading, but I'm getting some serious practice time in for the real playoffs, starting tomorrow at 3PM on www.walkoffwalk.com! John Danks is working very hard this inning. How's that Chicago bullpen, kids?

8:23PM: This is the part of the semiglog where I jinx John Danks, who has yet to allow a hit on any of his 50 pitches over three innings.

8:28PM: Really, Timothy Hutton? Really? You're still coasting on that Oscar for Ordinary People from 28 years ago? I hope your new TBS show THAT SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED fails miserably, despite how much I loved Beautiful Girls.

8:33PM: I also don't like the T-Mobile family plan commercial where the teen daughter wants to get with a mustachioed suitor and the dad wants to bang some lady at his kid's soccer game. Way to humiliate the American Family, major cellular phone company!

8:38PM: It's quite refreshing to semiglog a game that y'all are watching anyway. Having to talk about actual game details is such a drag. Still, huge check-swing strikeout of Thome by Nick Blackburn right there.

8:43PM: One hour in and we've got a scoreless game in the fifth inning. That's my kinda game. And despite the irritating run of commercials, I couldn't be happier with two-thirds of the announcing crew. I'm looking at you, Ron Darling.

8:48PM: I'm sorry, but how long has Ken Griffey had that Johnny-Damonesque noodle arm? Sheesh, the dude is just begging to be DH-ified at this point.

8:49PM: And of course on the very next play, Griff throws out Cuddyer trying to tag up at home plate. Kudos, sir.

8:57PM: Anyone out there want to write a playoff preview for the Angels? We got nothing.

9:05PM: Gotta be duly impressed with Mr. John Danks tonight. Who thought the kid could make this happen on just three days' rest? Six shutout innings against the third highest scoring team in the AL? They'll take it.

9:08PM: Hal Reynolds just mentioned Kenny Rogers allowing the walkoff walk for the Mets back in the 1999 playoffs without saying the words "walkoff walk". Thanks for nothing, Hal.

9:14PM: Joey Mauer is now 0-for-3 and down to .328 on the year. He's but two points ahead of Pedroia. Christ on a pogo stick, John Danks is DEALING.

9:19PM: Jim Thome's solo ding-dong puts the ChiSox up 1-0.

9:24PM: If you're not rooting for Ken Griffey to make it back to the playoffs for just the third time in his storied career, then you're just not rooting for Ken Griffey to make it back to the playoffs for just the third time in his storied career.

9:29PM: "The "blackout" gimmick in the stands is actually pretty cool looking."
Yes, if you are a Raiders fan. Oh, I just zinged Honeynut Ichiros! Zing!

9:34PM: Say what you will about Delmon Young making that catch to prevent the White Sox from scoring and keep the Twins in the game, but Delmon Young just made a catch to prevent the White Sox from scoring and kept the Twins in the game. DAMMIT DAD! JUST LET YOUR WHORE DAUGHTER CALL THE MUSTACHIOED BOY!

9:39PM: My laundry is done and needs to be folded. This is why I am merely semi-glogging.

9:46PM: Joe Nathan in the eighth? It's as if the Twins' season were on the line or something!

9:53PM: Bobby Jenks is in to attempt to close this fucker out for the White Sox. I put his chances of success at 85%.

9:58PM: Brian Anderson's web gem wins it for the White Sox. Good for them. Best of luck with the Rays. Thanks for joining me on this semiglog, Honeynut Ichiros and the gang.

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

  • Geoff Decker awards ESPN's Keith Law with the prognostication award for picking four of the six division winners correctly. Mike Greenberg brings up the rear. Zing! Where I Stand.

  • Doug Glanville pens a letter to Padres rookie Will Venable. Letter gets misplaced and ends up published in major newspaper. News at 11. New York Times.

  • Some background on the Albuquerque Isotopes and the fellas who created the mascot name back in 1990 for the Simpsons. L.A. Daily News.

  • Vegas Watch interviews MGM Mirage's sportsbook guy and learns that the casino will lose their shirts if the Rays win it all. In other words, don't count on the Rays to win. Vegas Watch.

  • The New York Sun is folding. The entire organization, not just the actual newsprint on paper product they put out. All newspapers fold. Here's one last huzzah. New York Sun.

  • Nuns gone wild. If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Copycats.
comeback.JPG

Pitchers Brad Lidge and Cliff Lee won the Comeback Player of the Year awards for their respective leagues today as voted on by a bunch of MLB.com beat writers. Lidge converted every single save opportunity he got on his plate, keeping the Phillies on track for a division title. Lee led the American League in wins, is favored to win the Cy Young award, and most improbably, he actually made Steve Phillips look smart. But Lee really earned this award because of his miserable season a year ago:

Lee won 46 games from 2004-06, but a strained abdominal muscle kept him on the sidelines during Spring Training last year, and he fought an uphill battle the rest of the way in a frustrating 2007 that also included a stint in the Minor Leagues.

Fella got hurt, worked his way back into the Major League rotation, and spent a season owning the Royals and Tigers. Sounds like a comeback to me. What about Lidge?

Lidge was traded by Houston to the Phillies last November after going 5-3 with 19 saves and a 3.36 ERA for the Astros in 2007.

OMIGOD WHAT A MASSIVE HUMAN INTEREST STORY. THAT GENTLEMAN OVERCAME TRUE EMOTIONAL HARDSHIPS TO SUCCEED. Please...Lidge went from saving 75% of his opportunities to saving 100%. That's not a comeback, that's a ridiculously great improvement in closing skills by an above-average closer. Wait, are the writers giving him this award because he gave that massive NLCS home run to Albert Pujols three years ago? C'mon guys! What about Gabe Kapler coming back from teaching high school to man the Brewers outfield?!?

boileddinner.JPG

Throw out the pitching rotations, the lineup permutations, the season records, and the opinions of fanboys. The only way to figure out who is going to win in the playoffs is gambling with local foodstuffs:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a bet with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for the divisional baseball playoff series that starts Wednesday. Barrett is putting Usinger sausages on the line against Philadelphia's famous cheese steaks.

That's an easy one, but what about the other mayors of the other towns that will be hosting playoff baseball? There's only one way to answer that question in the sportsblogosphere: a listicle with totally made-up information!

What'd I miss?

youppi.jpg

So I did what any normal baseball blogger would do on the final weekend of the regular season, just as the final playoff matchups were getting set and walkoff walks were going down: I went to Montreal. Yes, just as the Mets were falling face-first into their frittatas I went to a place that Major League Baseball disgracefully disowned four years ago in favor of this place.

But despite the absence of Youppi, Montreal folks still enjoy their baseball. My girlfriend and I popped back into our hotel room on Saturday just in time to catch the end of Johan Santana's gem to keep the Mets alive followed by both the beginning of the Phillies' win over the Nats and the Twins heartbreaking loss to the Royals. Three baseball games on a Saturday afternoon? It must be great to have no broadcast obligations to local teams!

True, Olympic Stadium still stands empty and talk about a minor league team coming to Montreal can't even make it out of the message board phase, but baseball fans still live in Montreal. Heck, bring a Major League team back via expansion and they'd still draw 2 million fans.

Other evidence that baseball is still alive in Montreal: I saw a guy wearing an Expos t-shirt on the Metro. What more do you need?

blackout.jpg

Alexei Ramirez may not have enough juice to beat Evan Longoria for the American League Rookie of the Year but the kid's fourth tetra tot of the season was juicy enough to keep the Chicago White Sox season alive. Detroit's Gary Glover came into the game in the fifth with the bases bloated and promptly coughed up the king dong to Ramirez, who celebrated by giving manager Ozzie Guillen what the kids are calling "high fives". Ramirez' fourth graham slam tied Albert Belle's eleven-year-old rookie record and helped his team tie a franchise record (12) for most quadro-pops in a season. Also, I just set a record for most euphemisms for 'grand slam' in a single paragraph.

So what now? The White Sox are going to host that one-game playoff with the Twins for the AL Central crown and the right to play the Rays in the ALDS. John Danks will pitch for Chicago while the Twins will send out Ozzie's favorite pitcher Nick Blackburn. As hosts, the Sox have the right to employ novelty ideas like 'blackouts':

"We will have 40,000 black rally towels, and hopefully, 40,000 fans using them in support of the team," said White Sox vice president and chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer of the unique support system. "Hopefully, it will be pretty darn intimidating, and the Twins can see how it's done Chicago style."

Oh, great. That concept worked out so well for the Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend. Ladies and gentlefolks, I present your 2008 AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins.

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

  • Former White Sox Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle is making furniture out of bats and balls. Yes, Ron Kittle is Baseball Jesus. WSBT.com.

  • Jonah Keri doesn't mince words in defending Albert Pujols for MVP. He also thought I was Rob Neyer when I instant-messaged him for Montreal advice this morning. ESPN Page 2.

  • Bob Keisser does a terrific column on Baseball Analyst's own Rich Lederer, whose father was the famous Dodgers beat writer George Lederer. No mention of Bert Blyleven? Huh? Long Beach Press Telegram.

  • Derrick Goold points out that the Cardinals are the only visiting team to clinch a World Series victory twice at Yankee Stadium. Does it even count if it happened 40+ years ago? Bird Land.

  • Rinku and Dinesh were blessed by Lord Ganesha. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Joe Posnanski reflects on being a sportswriter in a town full of losers. Wait, when did he move to Losertown, Montana? Joe Posnanski.

  • Dominoes made of dominoes. ick...Collegehumor.com. Yuck.

  • The debut video from CTC's buddy's record label Cotter Records. YouTube.
marlinstatt.jpg

Second year Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez knows his role. Perhaps he's being paid a sizable allowance by Phillies and Brewers ownership for what he's about to undertake this weekend, but we're not in a position to toss accusations around like that. A year after his last place Florida team won two out of three games over the final weekend of the season against a collapsing Mets team, he's ready to do it all again:

"We're going to jump from the frying pan right into the fire and be in a significant series - 'spoiler' or whatever you want to call it," Gonzalez said Wednesday before the Marlins played the Washington Nationals.

In explaining why he was putting some young Marlins prospects in the lineup Wednesday against Washington, Gonzalez noted that, "If everything stays the same, we're getting ready to go play a real significant series in New York."

That's right, just a few days after being eliminated from the playoff race and putting in his September call-ups to futz around with the lowly Nationals, Fredi is penciling in his powerful and cost-effective starters to face the Mets on yet another crucial final weekend.

And yes, we are on the verge of converting to a 24-hour Mets counter-fandom blog.

sadmets.jpg

New York Post blogger Brian Costello is on the road in Philadelphia covering the Phillies because Mets fans are just like a group of mini-Nixons: they need to know all the dirt about everyone on their enemies list. And yet the Mets season will most likely end like Nixon's presidency, in a hasty helicopter-aided departure forced by self-hatred.

After the Braves pounced on the Phillies 10-4 last night, Mr. Costello wandered into the visitors clubhouse to interview Chipper Jones about his big pinch-hit homer. What he encountered was a group of Braves players dressed in their post-game best gathered around a big-screen TV watching the end of the nationally televised Mets-Cubs tussle:

As Derrek Lee singled in the go-ahead run the Braves exploded, cheering on the Cubs. It happened again when Aramis Ramirez homered and a few members of the team and traveling party began singing "Meet the Mets." Others mocked the Kevin James video shown at Shea Stadium where he screams "Let's Go Mets."

Oh good, it's not just me. Antagonism of the Mets is universal. Hatred of Kevin James too. Nobody believed that your character in "The King of Queens" could pull such hot tail like that fake wife of yours, James. And that movie Hitch? I didn't even see it and I want my $8 back.

coreyshirt.jpg

Our favorite Reds beat writer John Fay tells a sordid tale of broken hearts and broken bats, this time involving some sordid rumors about Walkoff Walk whipping boy Corey Patterson and Dusty Baker's 28-year-old daughter, Natosha. Seems that Dusty isn't too happy about these tall tales, and after even Houston Astros players were asking him about it, he took to the mike to let the folks know that this was just a huge barrel of hogwash:

"She hasn't even been to Cincinnati," Baker said. "This is so far out of line. It's hurtful to my wife and daughter. How can people stoop that low? I don't know who started it. But I've been hearing from fans, players, announcers."

"There's been a lot of gossip about me," Baker said. "But this is the worst."

Yikes, even Dusty Baker, who supported Patterson enough to slot him in the leadoff spot for the first few months of the year despite his sub-.300 OBP can't stand the idea that his own daughter would date such a poor hitter. Besides, I'm sure there has been far worse gossip going around about Dusty Baker in the past, like the time the rumor was spread that he was engaged in a sordid threesome with Lauren Conrad and Bat Boy.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Expos fans.

Red Sox 5, Indians 4: The Sox battered Cleveland pitcher Fausto Carmona for four first inning runs before sending out former Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd to cough up the lead. No matter, someone named Jeff Bailey tripled in the eighth and broke a tie when scoring on a Mark Kotsay double. Just another ho-hum day in the life of mild-mannered Jefford Hamilton Woo-Woo Bailey IV!!!

Rays 11, Orioles 6: Despite the Sox win, the Rays magic number falls to one. Some Orioles pitcher named Randor Bierd allowed two bases loaded walks in the eighth inning. Weaksauce.

Twins 3, White Sox 2: Oh, those razor-slim late September margins! MVP candidate Joe Mauer picked up a pair of RBI on a pair of fielders choices, while three Twins relievers recorded holds leading towards Joey Nathan's 39th save. White Sox now lead by just one-half of a game. Eek!

Braves 10, Phillies 4: So Brett Myers got battered around like a pound of delicious cod at a fish 'n' chips shop. Big uh-ohs and bigger question marks in Philadelphia. Chipper Jones hit his 408th career ding-dong and it was of the pinch-hit variety. Julian Tavarez almost got into it with Shane Victorino and I have no idea why.

Cubs 9, Mets 6: For three consecutive innings, the Metropolitans had a runner on third base with no outs down by one run and scored just one run. Thanks to reliever Jeff Samardzjia who walked Ramon Martinze with the bases loaded, they finally tied it up in the eighth. Heck, those are some juicy opportunities, man! They say when opportunity knocks, you'd better answer the door with a goddamn claw hammer because opportunity will rob you blind. Derrek Lee's tenth inning RBI double off a tired Luis Ayala won it for Chicago.

Brewers 4, Pirates 2: Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres closed out a CC Sabathia win on short rest, and all Dale Sveum can do is high-five Baby Jesus in his head. Such kismet! Prince Fielder picked up another RBI and waddled around to score twice. Milwaukee is now tied with New York for the wild card.

In other news, Arizona and L.A. continue to bore us out west.

emptyseats.jpg

Baseball business blogger Maury Brown breaks bad news regarding the Washington Nationals new ballpark: they've managed to burst the new ballpark bubble. The Nats are about to have the worst attendance in the Camden Yards Era, a free-wheelin', money-dealin', stadium-buildin' boom that started with Orioles Park back in 1992.

58,158 fans is all that separates attendance at Nationals Park from the worst first-year attendance of all the stadiums which opened in the last 17 years, the Reds' Great American Ball Park that opened in 2003. That year, the Reds had paid attendance of 2,355,259. With two games left to play in Nationals Park, the Nats have drawn an anemic 2,297,101. In their last four games, three of which were played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (...) the Nationals have averaged 26,585. That same average in their two remaining games against the Marlins would not be enough to keep Nationals Park from becoming the worst attended new ballpark opening since 1991.

Yes, the Nationals have a weakass offense, terrible TV ratings, a stinkeroo outfield, and terrible parking problems to go along with the worst record in the National League. But it's a shiny new baseball park in the middle of a huge population center! People showed up to see the Pirates lose 100 games in the first year of PNC Park. Folks showed up to see the Marlins lose 98 games their first year of existence. And for some reason, people still go to Rangers games with a fourteen-year-old stadium. Why weren't folks coming to see the Nats new chili-laden ballpark?

I'd point to those goody-two-shoes legislators in Congress for the real problems with attendance. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan figured this one out back in May:

Then Jack Abramoff tried to buy off all of Washington. New lobbying laws soon followed, and now the maximum gift given to a lawmaker cannot exceed $50. Which means all the Presidential tickets - $325 for single-game ones, $335 on Saturday and $400 for the front row - that should have gone from lobbyist to Congressman to hard-working staffer no longer exist, and the market won't get any hotter unless the Nationals do, too.

The Nationals never got hotter. Instead, they got colder than a polar bear's taint, and thus allowed bloggers like us to point and laugh at their futility. Worst of all, things won't get better before they get much, much more futile in D.C. Until owner Stan Kasten either lowers ticket prices or raises salary, Washingtonians will continue to shun baseball for better entertainment options.

sadmets.jpg

Baseball is a nutty game. A team can outscore its opponents by a significant margin across a 162-game season, yet miss the playoffs because of a fruity bullpen. Or a team can coast through mediocrity for six months and somehow end up hoisting a cheesy trophy in October. There's little doubt that the Mets fell into that first category last year: their offensive output topped that of their opponents and yet fell face-first into a bucket of dung in September. Will it happen again in 2008? Perhaps. This year's model has a top of the line starting pitcher, three arguably good MVP-type hitters, and the third best defense in the NL, yet you can't swing a dead cat in Flushing without hitting a Mets doubter.

That is, unless you swing the cat in the owner's box at Shea. La Famiglia Wilpon has given Mets GM Omar Minaya both a vote of confidence and a four-year contract extension that validates the vote. As per ESPN's Buster Olney:

The deal is all but done, but it is not known when the extension will be formally announced.

You may be thinking to yourself, "Self, this is the dumbest thing I've heard since I read about that possible Valley Girl remake." A four year extension to a G.M. whose team has inspired nothing but agita amongst fan and glee amongst sportsbloggers? Still, hear me out for a second. I've said some not nice things about Omar in the past, but in the four months since I wrote that attack piece, the Mets have gone 61-44. Maybe I didn't agree with giving up the farm to trade for Johan Santana, but had the Mets bullpen and offense kept up their end of the deal, Johan would be a lock for the Cy Young Award right now. Sometimes teams just get the short end of the ol' luck stick.

So I must admit: I don't know enough about the Mets farm system or mission statement or organizational philosophy to criticize Omar Minaya or Mets ownership for hanging onto the dude for four more years. The Mets have played extremely well under Minaya's eye. So they've been on the short end of some miserable collapses. Who needs shiny trophies anyway when your new ballpark is gonna have a Shake Shack?

caesar.jpg

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. Despite winning last night, the Yankees have been eliminated from playoff contention. Despite having one of the eight best records in the majors, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs. Despite having the second best road record in the AL, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs. And despite being written off by every hackjob of a baseball writer every single month this year, the Yankees kindly waited until there were five days left in the season to give up the ghost.

Was 2008 a disappointment and a huge letdown to Yankees fans? No doubt, we're used to something a little bit more. Do the Yankees players feel like they underperformed? Probably, but they need not blame themselves on an individual basis. Regardless of what anyone tells you, the Yankees did not fall short because Robinson Cano waited until September to start hitting. The Yankees didn't fall short because Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy pitched like Langston Hughes and Ethel Kennedy. And no, the Yankees didn't fall short because Alex Rodriguez played like a human MVP instead of a supernatural MVP as we are used to.

Nope, the Yankees fell on their collective face as a team. They played well against the Bostons and the Tampa Bays of the world, but always seemed to play down to competition against the Baltimores and Cincinnatis. They never collected that big August winning streak that pushed them towards the postseason over the past 14 years. Worst of all, this guy showed up in 2008 which never seems to coincide with Yankee success.

Make no mistake, I'm not eulogizing the Yankee dynasty. I'll leave that to the blowhard bloggers and lunatic Lupicas of the world. They still might win 91 games this year, more than they won in their 2000 championship season and one shy of the 1996 team. They've got one of the best bullpens in baseball coming back next year and they'll hopefully collect a couple choice free agents. Besides, with the ability to spend $200 million a year on salaries in the last American major sport that retains a whiff of free-spending ownership, they'll continue to field contenders, like it or not.

New York will play out the regular season with pride. Getting Mike Mussina to that magical round number of wins and letting Alex Rodriguez swing away for a home run crown is nice, but we Yankee fans will still clutch our pillows imagining what could have been, had a few July games turned out differently. I'll actually wish good luck to the Red Sox and Rays, members of the winningest division in the Wild Card era. They outshone my favorite team.

Still: My heart is in the coffin there with my team, and I must pause till it come back to me.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Marlins fans.

Twins 9, White Sox 3: Javy Vazquez flopped harder than Paul Simon's The Capeman, getting knocked around for five runs in four innings and giving up a ding dong and triple to Jason Kubel. Koobs added another dong in the seventh, going back-to-back with Delmon Young. Twinkies are now but 1.5 games out of first

Braves 3, Phillies 2: Casey Kotchman's solo ding-dong pushed Atlanta to three runs, just enough to record the Braves third win against the Phils this year and only their second one-run road victory. Starter Cole Hamels wasn't very effective and threw a ball away that led to an unearned run. Losing this game wouldn't be so painful if it wasn't to Mike Hampton's corpse.

Mets 6, Cubs 2: The New York Metros pick up a game on the Phillies thanks to a strong eight-inning stint from Johan Santana and some Metsian bullpen woes from Cub Chad Gaudin. Jose Reyes' bases-bloated triple was the nail in this game's coffin; Luis Ayala picked up a save, his ninth in fifteen opportunities.

Brewers some, Pirates less: Messy defensive errors by Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan led to two unearned runs that led to a ninth inning tie game that led to a Prince Fielder walkoff tater tot. Brewers stay within a game of the Wild Card. CC Sabathia takes the mound on three days rest for the second time in a row today because the Brewers rotation is a veritable M*A*S*H unit.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1: Nineteen-game winner Mike Mussina picked up his end of the deal, combining with a handful of relievers to strike out 14 Blue Jays. Whifferoni!

Red Sox 5, Indians 4: Too bad it was all for naught as the Red Sox clinch a postseason invitation and eliminate the Yanks from October fun. More on this later, kids.

In other news, the Rays swept a doubleheader with the O's thanks to a six run eighth inning in the nightcap. The Diamondbacks did themselves no favors in losing to the Cards and the Dodgers' magic number is three after their big win.

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

  • The Oakland Athletics are seeking a new mascot for the 2009 season. What is it exactly that Stomper the Elephant does at A's games that would require applicants to submit a cover letter for this position? Deadspin.

  • Tom Tango gets down to the nitty-gritty and figgers out that Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections did better at predicting MLB teams' records than any other source. A generic 81-81 prediction outscored every single major media member. Inside the Book.

  • Joe Posnanski compares Sarah Palin to Dustin Pedroia. Not because they're both scrappy underdogs that appeal to the Average Joe, but because they both manage to irritate the crap outta me. JoeBlog.

  • Roger Ebert enters Carl Everett territory and denounces actual science in favor of ridiculous Biblical nonsense. A lifetime's worth of idolizing Mr. Ebert just went into the shitter. (EDIT: He zinged us good.) RogerEbert.com.

  • Jay Jaffe pens the damning-est criticism of the Yankees relocation across the street. If you are not a subscriber to Baseball Prospectus, now is the time to sign up. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Nick Friedell tracks down Rays super-fan Dick Vitale and snags an interview. Dick estimates he's spent $250,000 on Rays tickets in ten years, or about the equivalent of what the Rays are losing every game by their miserable fanbase. Big League Stew.

  • Another reason girls are dumb. Cake Wrecks.

  • Rinku and Dinesh ate a huge salmon and almost lost $57. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • WHO'S CLOONEY? Walkoff Walk.
pedromidget.jpg

Baseball fans tend to root for local teams because it's usually easier to support a team that plays its games within a thirty-mile radius of their homes. It makes traveling to the games just that much easier! Fans also tend to root for players who look like them, which explains why I'm such a huge Andy Pettitte fan (c'mon! the similarity is uncanny!)

Pity the Latino Red Sox fans in and around the Hub in that case. After all, the team that won the World Series in 2004 is a notably lighter shade of pale four years later:

But (Felipe) Gomez, a 37-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, feels that the current team isn't the same as it was just a few years ago - or even a few months ago. With no Pedro Martínez and no Manny Ramírez, with Julio Lugo on the disabled list and possibly headed for the bench whenever he does return, Gomez and other Latino fans see a team that looks a lot less like them.

"We feel like we've lost something personal in our team," Gomez said recently, cutting hair at the Fernandez Barbershop in Jamaica Plain, where many Latino Sox players come to get haircuts. "It's a big community, the Latinos. It makes us feel proud to at least have representation."

Also gone are fan favorites Julian Tavarez, Wily Mo Pena, and Orlando Cabrera, so you can tell how upset our Latin American amigos really are.

Boston Globe writer Keith O'Brien brings up the ghost of racism past when he later mentions the fact that the Sox were the last MLB team to integrate, and then notes that African-American players are becoming harder and harder to find in the league. Still, he doesn't throw the Red Sox under the bus for the team's current makeup, and rightfully so. But I understand why the Latino fans are so sad, and they should be compensated by the Red Sox with a symbolic gesture, like signing this guy for the playoff roster.

Who Wants to Win the AL Central?

| | Comments (11)
millionaire.jpg

With a combined record of 6 and 10 over the last week and a day, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have been coasting towards the finish line on empty. (Stay out of Atlanta!) Heck, I'd be almost inclined to grant the division title to the Indians at this point, what with their recent winning streak and in gratitude for keeping the Yankees playoff hopes alive for one more day.

The two teams start a vital three-game series tonight in the Baggiedome with the ChiSox up 2.5 games; win all three and Chicago takes the division title despite having won just one game out of six in Minneapolis in 2008 so far.

Tonight, Ozzie Guillen is sending sadsack Javy Vazquez out to pitch against Scott Baker. Ozzie had some kind words for Javy as inspiration:

"What you see is what you get," Guillen said. "Javy is going to be Javy. I just want him to be aggressive, throw the ball over the plate and knock somebody on their ass. That's a big three games for us."

"You have to be mean. Go out there and show them we show up to play, show up to kick your guys' asses. And believe me, that will take care of itself."

Translation: If this dude doesn't hit Justin Morneau in the head with a fastball I'm going to pull him after three innings and send in the corpse of Hoyt Wilhelm. The matchups for the rest of the series:

    Wednesday: Mark Buehrle vs Nick Blackburn
    Thursday: Gavin Floyd vs Kevin Slowey

None of these games are on national television because ESPN would rather show us the Cubs ride out their season over the hapless Mets on Wednesday night. Thanks for nothing!

LotteGiants.jpg

To me, nothing says hilarious quite like Korean variety shows doing skits at baseball games. But perhaps my sense of humor doesn't quite jive with yours; after all, I still can't stop laughing at this video. What a card!

Anyway, some comedy show in Korea showed up at a professional baseball game and what ensued wasn't exactly hilarity:

The "One night-two days" crew from the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) visited a Lotte Giants-Doosan Bears game, a duel for No. 2 spot, at Sajik Stadium in Busan Friday, and its cast performed during cleaning time, which usually takes about two or three minutes after the fifth inning.

However, the performance lasted 10 minutes and players who usually warm up during the short span had to stay in the dugouts.

The game was a scoreless tie after five innings. However, the Giants starting pitcher gave up the farm in the top of the sixth and the Bears starter did the same in the bottom of the inning. They claimed that the longer break between innings affected their rhythm and flow. I really have no sympathy for them. After all, visiting pitchers get this nonsense all the time after the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, especially when they wheel out Ronan Tynan to yodel "God Bless America".

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a completely unrelated episode of "One Night Two Days":


(A palletful of Coca Colas to BBTF Primer)

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Blue Jays fans.

Indians 4, Red Sox 3: Down one in the ninth, noted panty-remover Jed Lowrie whiffed with the tying and winning runs on base to keep the Yankees alive in the playoff race. Josh Beckett was mediocre enough to lose his tenth decision.

Rays 4, Orioles 2: The Rays big win increases their lead over the Sox to 2.5 and drops their magic number to four. Both teams went hitless over the first four innings, as Rays young stud David Price and Orioles young...umm...person Brian Bass matched poor controls head-on.

Phillies 6, Braves 2: With a four-run eighth inning, the Phillies gave notice to all relief pitchers: we're going to hammer your asses into the ground. Or something. Someone named Jeff Bennett was the victim du jour on this go-around. Thanks to Pat Burrell, The Fightins' homered in their 18th straight contest, a club record.

Cubs 9, Mets 5: Starter Jason Marquis hit a tetra tot in his big homecoming game to put the Cubbies up 6-2 in the fourth. The Mets never recovered. They fall 3 back of the Phillies, who now have a magic number of 4. Meanwhile, the Cubs have managed to win 95 games and manager Lou Piniella is habla-ing something I don't understand.

In other news, the Diamondbacks picked up a half game to stay on the right page. OOPS I BORKENED THE WEBSITE

I'm going to make this quick: when matching your faithful Walkoff Walk bloggers to actors from the modern Oceans Eleven films, which one of us is George Clooney?

Is it Rob Iracane, the quick-witted suave Italian with a sharp tongue and a smile that melted the hearts of a thousand girls?

Or is it Camp Tiger Claw, the tall, dashing well-spoken Greek whose hirsuteness could make any dame's eyelids go a-flutter?

Or is it Lloyd the Barber, the quiet but charming Canadian with style and grace that makes strippers all over Toronto repent and quit the pole?

Vote below in the comments and let us know which one fits the part best, and which ones of us match up better with lesser Oceans Eleven-eers, like Brad Pitt or Carl Reiner.

In other words, WHO'S CLOONEY?

fivedolla.jpg

After filing what was perceived to be the grievance to end all grievances related to the MLB Amateur Draft, Scott Boras merely pocketed his agent's share of an extra $300,000 signing bonus for his client Pedro Alvarez and proceeded to piss off at least two baseball teams, countless fans, and one sad little boy named Eric Hosmer. The Pirates and Alvarez got together behind closed doors and worked out a new contract that appeased Herr Boras, granting Alvarez the highest signing bonus among drafted players and giving the kid an option year somewhere down the line.

Also, he's put right onto the 40 man roster which will prevent the Pirates from, you know, actually grooming him to become a big-leaguer in low-A ball.

It was not immediately clear which side instigated the new talks, when they began or whether they occurred with the blessing of Major League Baseball and its players' union. But one source indicated that a signed contract between the Pirates and Alvarez likely will quash a related grievance filed by the union against commissioner Bud Selig's office, offering a sign that all concerned have been duly informed of this development.

That grievance, filed Aug. 27, alleged that MLB violated its labor pact with the union by approving the verbal agreement reached between the Pirates and Alvarez minutes after the midnight Aug. 15 deadline.

No telling whether or not the Players Union will pull their grievance now, mostly because Boras dragged Eric Hosmer's contract with the Royals into this whole mess. Technically, this whole nonsense could change the way Bud Selig and the baseball owners control the Amateur Draft. If they are willing to bend deadlines, who is to say what other nefarious deeds they might do in order to keep signing bonuses down among recent high school and college graduates?

(Many grateful thanks and Sprites to the good folks at Bucs Dugout)

yankee stadium.jpg

Ever spend ten hours at a ballpark? No, not to sell peanuts or sweep up the mens room or drink yourself silly enough that you pass out in the stairwell. I mean, have you ever showed up at the final game of a historic stadium six and a half hours before the game starts on the promise of walking the field? No? Well let me tell you just how exciting it can be!

My girl and I got to Yankee Stadium yesterday at approximately 1:45PM EDT so we could hop on line to see Monument Park one last time. The Yankee organization was kind enough to offer the fans the opportunity to walk around the warning track and the dirt behind home plate after leaving the monuments, so we were eager to check that out. The Stadium opened at 1 but when we got there, they closed the gates so they could process the fans who had already entered.

By the time we finally made it inside at 3PM, the line stretched from the entrance to the monuments behind the left field stands on the lower level all the way up the ramps past the main and loge levels to the upper deck. The line then circled the entire ballpark to right field where it went back down the ramps to the loge level, back towards home plate, down the ramps to the main level, and back towards right field once again. To sum up: that was the Bronx equivalent of a Soviet bread line. (TIMELY!) So instead of waiting on line, we grabbed some cheesesteaks and plopped down in our seats to watch batting practice. Joba was throwing baseballs into the seats! Swoon!

I don't blame the Yankee organization for miserably falling on their faces in planning this pre-game delight. After all, you can hardly imagine figuring out how to move 50,000 fans through a garden about the size of a typical Staten Island backyard. A family we sat next to arrived at 12:30PM and didn't make it out of Monument Park until 5PM, missing their opportunity to walk the field as well.

The rest of the day was quite impressive. Former stars were trotted out. Willie Randolph slid into second when introduced and seemed to pull a hamstring. Mickey Mantle's son David and Billy Martin's son Billy Jr. were there and looked so much like their fathers, the bat boys started wheeling out a bar cart. Famed Stadium announcer and nonagenarian Bob Sheppard couldn't make it but still announced the starting lineup via tape and bid farewell to his 'office' of 50+ years with a Jack Buck-esque poem after the eighth inning. My girl's favorite player Jose Molina hit the final tater tot in the Stadium's history. Players and grounds crew picked up enough dirt from the infield and pitchers mound to build a million Chinese pyramids.

And after Derek Jeter did a perfectly Jeterian sendoff to the fans (audio here) once the game was doneskis, the players and coaches did a lap around the field. From our seats in the loge in right field, we could absolutely see Alex Rodriguez and Jose Molina make eye contact with us while waving. I've never felt so connected with millionaires before in my life.

And yes, we got free car magnets.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, A's fans.

Brewers 8, Reds 1: Milwaukee stays in the picture, thanks to a mish-mash bullpen effort that stymied the Redlegs' offense. Also, Prince Fielder tater-totted.

Braves 7, Mets 6: Blah blah blah Mets bullpen blah blah blah blown late lead blah blah blah still one and a half up in the Wild Card standings.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2: Philly moves ahead 1.5 games in the NL East as Jamie Moyer improved to 11-1 lifetime against the Marlins. Old dude doing well in Miami? Go figure.

Also, the Twins and White Sox won while the Diamondbacks picked up a game on the Dodgers.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (15)
weoutofmeet.jpg

Hey kids, have it your weigh.

  • CAN Tampa Bay recover from last night's bullpen collapse and get back on message against the Twinkies? A win tonight and losses by Chicago, New York, and Toronto will clinch at least a Wild Card spot for their first time ever.

  • WILL Brett Myers get his record back to .500 and lead the Phils to a win over the streaking Marlins? Josh Johnson is 5-1 with a 3.30 ERA, so watch out now.

  • DO the Red Sox have enough gumption to take on both A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay this weekend? They better not feel too complacent because neither the Blue Jays nor the Yankees are officially eliminated.

  • WE got any meet back there? I'm starving.

  • DID you know that the Padres and Nationals have equally horrendous 58-95 records? They meet this weekend in Warshington to decide once and for all who gets to give wet willies and purple nurples to the Mariners.

  • COULD the Royals play spoilers? Nah.

  • ARE you gonna watch the Yankees game on Sunday night? I'll be there with bells on, touring the field.

Welp, that wraps up another week at Walkoff Walk. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and thanks for promising to come around and visit our cousin Lloyd the Barber this weekend. He'll entertain you this weekend with recaps, previews, and potpourri. Enjoy the penultimate weekend of the regular season!

(We stole that photo from Flubby's The Sugar Sheet)

vedder.jpg

Baseball and rock music go together like cinnamon and applesauce. They're both so American and so goddamn entertaining, and despite the existence of Nickelback and the Washington Nationals, the best will always outshine the rest.

That's why two of our greatest rock musicians have taken the time to pen some new tunes about the sport we love. First, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder wrote a song about the Chicago Cubs at the request of Cubs legend Ernie Banks:

The track features lines like "Our heroes wear pinstripes / pinstripes in blue / give us a chance to feel like heroes too." It was recorded last month during Cubs fan Vedder's solo concert at Auditorium Theatre, according to Billboard.com.

The tune is called "Someday We'll Go All the Way", and Mouthpiece Sports has an actual clip. I heard that the B-side of this 45 is gonna have that old Pearl Jam ditty "Greg Maddux Behind a Counter in a Small Town".

Super awesome guitarist and singer Nils Lofgren is also getting on the baseball tribute song train, penning a tune about the soon-to-be-turned-into-a-parking-lot Yankee Stadium. It's available as a free MP3 download on Nils' homepage:

Hello everyone. Nils Lofgren here. I wanted to give you some history on this new song, "Yankee Stadium."

My fabulous wife Amy (a Jersey girl), remains a life-long Yankee fan with a great, emotional history of experience in Yankee Stadium from childhood to present. Her concept and the song's chorus; "everyone is beautiful in Yankee Stadium," was born from those memories and experiences. She's been asking me to write this song for a while and here it is.

Eek, Nils, I love Yankee Stadium and all, but having sat in the upper deck once or twice, I can assure you: not everyone is beautiful in that dump.

Also, not every song about baseball is good.

(Thanks to BBTF, to whom we now owe an entire Coca-Cola distributorship)

devilray.JPG

So the Rays and the Twins tussled at the Tropicana Dome last night and Evan Longoria did his best to lift his team: he hit three home runs and collected four RBI. Thanks to Dan Wheeler's miserable failure out of the Rays bullpen, though, the Rays ended up losing to the Twins and now sit just 1.5 games ahead of the second place Red Sox.

Kid sorta made history too:

Thursday's three blasts moves Longoria in front of the Cubs' Geovany Soto for top billing in rookie home runs, and makes him just the second Rays player all-time to hit three home runs in a single game. He joins teammate Jonny Gomes -- also a rookie at the time -- who went deep three times on July 23, 2005, against Kansas City.

Fella's got 25 homers on the year and, despite missing over a month due to a wrist ouchie, he's the odds-on favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Here's his competition:

HITTERS
Evan Longoria (TBR, 3B) - .353 OBP, .544 SLG, 25 HR, 7 SB
Mike Aviles - (KCR, SS) - ..352 OBP, .467 SLG, 24 2B, 7 SB
Alexei Ramirez - (CWS, 2B) - .318 OBP, .477 SLG, 18 HR, 12 SB
---
PITCHERS
Armando Galarraga (DET, SP) - 163 IP, 3.58 ERA, 116 K, 58 BB
Joba Chamberlain (NYY, SP) - 96 IP, 2.53 ERA, 111 K, 37 BB
Brad Ziegler (OAK, RP) - 55 IP, 0.82 ERA, 27 K, 21 BB

Okay, Longoria is going to win unanimously. I don't know why I bothered listing all those stats. Does anyone think otherwise? Who would you vote for?

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Nationals fans.

Dodgers 4, Pirates 3 (12): Craig Hansen walks the bases loaded in the twelfth and James Loney drives in the winning run. This all could have been over in the tenth with a walkoff walk had Nyjer Morgan not gotten thrown out at the plate and Luis Cruz drawn a walk. Woulda coulda shoulda.

Cubs 7, Brewers 6 (12): Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres gave up the farm in the ninth, allowing four runs, blowing the save, and sending the game to extras. Rookie sensation Geovany Soto's three run tater tot was the crushing blow off Torres and Derrek Lee struck down the day's second opportunity for a walkoff walk with his game winning RBI. Cubs magic number for the NL Central is now two.

Mets 7, Nationals 2: Johan Santana came through with another gem and finally, both his bullpen and offense supported him with a win. Jerry Tranuel used three relievers, which is less than normal: the Mets lead the majors with 3.4 pitching changes per game. Johan went seven strong and struck out eight Nats. Catcher Brian Schneider totted twice. Mets move to 1.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the Wild Card race.

Phillies 4, Braves 3: Pat Burrell ding donged and Brad Lidge got his 38th save in 38 tries. That's perfection! Cole Hamels earned his fifth win in his last six decisions. Phillies stay 0.5 games up in the NL East. In related news, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" premiered last night and it was great.

Twins 11, Rays 8: Dan Wheeler blew the game by giving up four runs in the ninth, sparked by Alexi Casilla's two run tater tot. Dan Wheeler used to play for the Mets. It all makes sense.

Other Thursday night action saw the White Sox lose to trim their lead over the Twins to 1.5, the Marlins stay in the picture, and the Diamondbacks topple Tim Lincecum to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

liveglog.jpg

One of my favorite mashups from the early 2000s was that Freelance Hellraiser song that married Christina Aguilera to the Strokes. "A Stroke of Genie-us". Oh, zing, Freelance. You punned me good.

Well, consider my second liveglog mashup to be absolutely nothing like that song. Instead of writhing teen starlets and hipster guitar riffs, you're going to get a dose of Zack Greinke mixed with a dollop of Craig Counsell. It's what you've always wanted! It's Christmas and Arbor Day all mashed up into one!

I'm going to take you on an XM Radio-driven tour of the four afternoon games, so aptly previewed by my associate Camp Tiger Claw:

   Dodgers (79-73) @ Pirates (64-88), 12:35pm
   Mariners (57-94) @ Royals (68-84), 2:10pm
   Brewers (84-68) @ Cubs (91-59), 2:20pm
   Angels (92-59) @ Athletics (71-80), 3:35pm

Also, I'm going to slip some links in the glog, thus mashing up a mashup glog with our regularly scheduled Linkpunch. Could I possibly confuse you anymore? No, didn't think so. ENOUGH! ONTO THE GLOG!

fivedolla.jpg

Forbes Magazine is back doing what it does best (besides being completely incapable of predicting the stock market): making enormous listicles! They've assembled their annual Forbes 400 rankings, stapled it together, and mailed it out to hundreds of dentists offices. I'll make things easier for you, pal. I've pared it down to six baseball owners who made the cut.

Here's your mini-listicle:

Yes, baseball ownership is a old white guys club, just like the Elks Club down the street from me except with less High Life and more Chivas. Still, of all these dudes, only Steinbrenner really made his fortune from owning a baseball team. Pohlad made his money in banking, Lerner cashed in via real estate, Ilitch founded the company that gave us these commercials, McLane made his fortune selling his own cosmetics line on QVC, and Hicks made his money the old-fashioned way: merging Dr. Pepper and 7-Up.

Some chucklehead sitting in the bleachers caught a home run at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. He celebrated by doing what any one of us would do: the cabbage patch. I know, I was there watching him from the right field loge section and silently judging him. Then, through a wild act of kismet, the dude caught another tater tot on Wednesday night in almost the exact same spot. The YES Network took note:


The great Yankee blog NYY Stadium Insider put the video together and we will be sending them a caseful of Diet Cherry Cokes.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Blue Jays fans.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: Raise your hand if, back in June, you thought people would be mentioning the words "Ryan", "Howard", and "MVP" in the same sentence without using the word "former". Okay hands down. Fella picked up another RBI to support rookie J.A. Happ's six scoreless innings, while fatso Matt Stairs collected his first ding-dong as a Phillie. In batting race news, Chipper Jones had a hit to stay 11 points ahead of Albert Pujols. Big whoop.

Mets 9, Nationals 7: The Mets stay a half a game behind Philly despite cycling through seven relievers to earn a nailbiting win over a stinkeroo team. Luis Ayala got a one-out 'save' by striking out someone named Roger Bernadina to end the game after Pedro Feliciano nearly gave up the farm. Carlos Beltran donged from both sides of the plate.

Brewers 6, Cubs 2: Milwaukee won the game but lost Ben Sheets to apparent forearm tightness after just two innings of work. New manager Dale Sveum (haha I can't get used to that) emptied the chamber and used seven relievers to hold back the Cubs and keep the Brew Crew a game behind the Mets. Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres notched his 28th save.

Marlins 14, Astros 2: Florida stays in the race and moves one game closer to Houston in the Wild Card standings behind two taters from Hanley Ramirez. They'll need to carry on without him, though, as Ramirez left with a shoulder ouchie and is now day-to-day. Ricky Nolasco pitched well despite allowing two solo dongs to Hunter Pence.

Rays 10, Red Sox 3: David Ortiz' pair of homers wasn't enough as Tim Wakefield knuckled under pressure. Wait, that's his job. Perhaps he didn't knuckle enough under pressure. I have no idea, I didn't watch the game. Tampa's up three in the loss column.

Elsewhere, the White Sox and Twins both lost to continue the misery of the AL Central, while Arizona picked up a game on L.A.

goats2009.jpg Rob: hey CTC, the 2009 schedule is out!
CTC: I saw that.
Rob: isn't it early?
CTC: Well they got a new delivery boy.
He's foreign. Real hard worker.
Rob: I guess this gives fans of teams out of contention something to look forward to.
amirite, Orioles fans?
CTC: I guess.
I wouldn't know.
Rob: zing.
CTC: Anyway, you know what's not early?
Opening Day.
Rob: thank god!
maybe the weather will actually be nice this year when I go to Opening Day at New New Yankee Stadium...when is that?
CTC: Um. Lemme look here...
Rob: April 16th
CTC: Yeah!
Rob: the final home opener among the 30 MLB teams
save the best for last, eh?
CTC: Well, they want to make sure all of the bribery trials are over before first pitch.
That would look bad for NYC.
The Sox make their first visit to the Park in May.
One of those two game series we despise so much.
Rob: awful
not enough time for Dustin Pedroia to get down to FAO Schwartz and dance on the huge piano
CTC: ASK JEFF FRANCIS WHO I AM
Rob: any good interleague series of note? I see Phillies at Yankees in May
CTC: Dodgers-Angels could be a natural rivalry that's a WS rematch.
Rob: i see Rays at Mets in June
CTC: I wouldn't put money on it, but it's possible.
The Metrodome's final Opening Day is April 6.
Plenty of parking for your snowmobile.
Rob: they play the Mariners. Hope they bring extra blankets for the moose.
CTC: April in Minneapolis is like August on Pluto.
Rob: i see Toronto returning to Philly in June
CTC: By that time JP Riccardi should be building a contender with the Brockton Rox.
Rob: also, when i do the drop-down menu on the MLB website, it lists a team called the "Devil Rays"
that's gonna cost someone a few million dollars
CTC: Any parks you'd like to go to that you still haven't seen?
Rob: i would like to go to San Francisco to see Corporate Telecommunications Park
CTC: That is a lovely park.
I've never been to Skydome.
Rob: ROGERS CENTRE
CTC: I want to go there and pay my tributes to the Wrestlemania VI Tragedy
Rob: i dont know what that is
i also dont want to know
CTC: Oh well you see The Ultimate Warrior was taking On Hul... oh. Ok.
Anyway should we talk about some other teams that our readers care about?
Rob: no, screw them
CTC: Fine with me.

With the news that the Florida Marlins minor league affiliate may be moving to New Orleans, I thought it would be a good time to figure out which teams are moving their AAA operations. So I made a handy-dandy map:

minorleaguerelocations.jpg

To clear that up:

Okay, that cleared nothing up. The Triple-A seasons ended last night and the wheelin' and dealin' will all become official tomorrow. Possible destinations for the Jays include Las Vegas, Richmond, Tucson, or Saskatoon.

marlinstatt.jpg

While you were too busy watching the Phillies overtake the slumping Mets and too distracted by managerial firings and displaced Astros-Cubs series in Milwaukee and too bored as heck about the Dodgers finally putting the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, the Florida Marlins have gone and made themselves relevant again. Thanks to the pitching prowess of their starting rotation, the Fishies have won six straight, and now sit just five games behind the Wild Card leading Mets.

During the winning streak, Marlins starters are 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA, 29 hits (one homer), nine walks and 34 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. Opponents are 29 for their past 135 against them (.215). The rotation ERA is down to 4.76, the lowest it's been since May 22 (4.69).

A rotation with Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad and Anibal Sanchez may not sound dangerously delicious, but with Johnson and Sanchez making late debuts because of recovery from surgeries, their arms are fresh. Only Olsen and Nolasco have been starting all season-long. Florida has two series left with the Mets and Phillies so they may have a chance to Control Their Own Destiny. They'll need to leapfrog the Cardinals, Astros and Brewers to even have a chance to topple the Mets/Phillies cabal, but your job as a Walkoff Walk reader is to suspend disbelief and allow us to write crazy shit.

Ok nevermind, the Marlins are screwed. But hey, it's fun to imagine the thunderous fan support similar to the 2007 Rockies run being replicated in Miami!

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

  • Pat tries to figure out the future of the Pirates payroll and links the progression of the team to the Brewers. Wait, THOSE Brewers? Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke.

  • Parody may be dead, but Grant does his best to resurrect it with this faux conversation with a Giants fan from the all-too-recent past. Wait a minute...he made a time machine...out of a DeLorean? McCovey Chronicles.

  • Pat Jordan provides an excellent profile of sadsack Barry Zito. Now featuring an interactive graphic! NYT Play Magazine.

  • Jon Bois reflects on a childhood spent with Nick Markakis. His dad works at Lockheed. True Story. Mouthpiece Sports.

  • Our own Camp Tiger Claw is dropping like a lead balloon in the Player Pick Pool but at least he's doing it with grace. Touching Base.

  • Buy this Marlins scrunchie. Fishstripes.

  • Consume these Mariner cupcakes. USS Mariner.

  • EepyBird's sticky note experiment. Vimeo.
idea-lightbulb.jpg

As per Matt Cerrone of Mets Blog Presented by GEICO who read Ken Davidoff's column in Newsday who spoke with an anonymous source who is "informed of the team's thinking", the Mets will not pursue soon-to-be free agent and new single-season saves record holder Francisco Rodriguez this offseason. Translation: Mets no wantee K-Rod for bigtime money.

Instead, they will seek to "be creative" in figuring out exactly who is going to come into close game in the late innings while shitty nu-metal music is blasting from the P.A. at Citi Field. To wit:

If Luis Ayala can close all the way through the playoffs without incident, then he seems a cinch to return as a free agent. Among Ayala, the emerging Brian Stokes, youngster Bobby Parnell, whom scouts from other teams have regarded as a potential late-inning reliever, and other low-budget choices, the Mets -- who have reminded people that Rivera once was a closer waiting for a chance -- hope to find an answer.

Eek, you call that 'creative'? I call that scrambling. I call that wishful thinking. I call bullshit on this 'rumor'. Heck, I love the idea of re-building from within, but what if the team's best prospects are now wearing Twins uniforms?

This 'source' claims that the Mets do not want to invest in pitchers, especially after getting saddled with Billy Wagner's salary next season and having broken the proverbial bank with Johan Santana's record contract. But hey, what are the Mets if they're not an organization that throws a ton of money at their problems? Can you see any other G.M. driving a dumptruck full of money up to Rodriguez' house this December besides Omar Minaya? No! The Mets will have a huge cash infusion from selling old junk and selling luxury boxes to cash-rich firms like Lehman Bros or Merrill Lynch or AIG. What else would they possibly do with all that dough? Rebuild their farm systems? Ha!

kennyrogers.jpg

After getting absolutely slammed in the Tigers 11-7 loss to the ChiSox on Sunday, it seems as if Kenny Rogers' tenure in Detroit is over. Manager Jim Leyland is going to run through the remainder of 2008 with some other gentlemen in the rotation, including recent call-up Dontrelle Willis and his jaunty hat.

Rogers is 1-7 with a 9.00 ERA over his last nine starts. He's also the oldest known human being in the American League and his aged stone face is slowly eroding due to the extreme weather in the Northern climes of Michigan.

Leyland said on Monday that he's "shutting down" Rogers for the rest of the season. Had Rogers taken his regular turn, there was time remaining for him to make two more starts, but those will now be made by someone else.

As Leyland was quoted saying about the way Rogers threw Sunday night against the White Sox: "His equipment isn't quite what it was."

Rogers' contract is up after this season and his career is probably over. He'll retire with 219 career wins against 156 losses, five Gold Glove awards, and an ill-begotten World Series ring with the Yanks in '96, a postseason where he threw seven innings, allowed fifteen hits, and let in eleven runs. If there's a Hall of Fame for People Rob Iracane Hates, he's a surefire unanimous first ballot fella. Good riddance, sir!

(BBTF brings us news and gets the Cokes)

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Rockies fans.

Yankees 4, White Sox 2: Mariano Rivera recorded his third save in three days, his 36th save on the year, and his 479th career save, pushing him ahead of Lee Smith for the second most saves all time. YES announcer Michael Kay, upon noticing Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa in the stands at The Stadium, posited that LaRussa's innovations with the closer role in the 1980s effectively "made" Mariano Rivera. No, Mr. Kay. Nobody "made" Mariano Rivera. He was born unto this world by a supernatural power and molded out of titanium and magic. Derek Jeter went hitless, saving his record-breaking performance for tonight, when I will be in attendance.

Indians 3, Twins 1: There will be no movement atop the AL Central standings, as Cleveland's stellar September callup Scott Lewis spun his second gem: 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K. Shin-Soo Choo continued his good hitting for the Indians with a two-run tater tot, his seventh in the last 24 games. Justin Morneau went 0-for-4.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: The NY Mets lost a half game in their already teeny lead over the Phils thanks to some good pitchin' by Nat John Lannan and some bad pitchin' by...who else...the Mets bullpen. Lannan allowed but one run over seven strong in which he struck out David Wright and Carlos Delgado twice each. Wright left four gentlemen on base in the contest. Meanwhile, Duaner Sanchez gave up a three-run ding-dong to Elijah Dukes in the seventh, pretty much putting this little dalliance out of reach. New York now leads the East by a mere half game.

Cubs 6, Astros 1: Ted Lilly no-hit the Astros for six innings and hung on to finish the job despite one measly, piddling hit by Mark Loretta in the seventh. Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run taters in the sixth. Houston falls back to two and a half behind the idle Phillies and not-so-idle Brewers.

In other news, the Red Sox romped over the Rays to pull into a virtual tie for first while the Diamondbacks won on an Adam Dunn tater to remain 4.5 behind the Dodgers.

yostandmelvin.jpg

Holy crap Ned Yost was fired!

    Third-base coach Dale Sveum will become interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Holy crap Dale Sveum is going to try and get the Brewers into the playoffs! I realize the Brewers were on the skids in September but this is crazytown, USA. But hey, I knew this rumor would come true eventually. Holy crap!

UPDATE #1: Brewers Blog is getting absolutely hammered by Milwaukeeans and baseball bloggers alike seeking out some information. Tom Haudricourt must be losing his mind right now because he posted two items with similar titles just one minute apart: "Firing probably came from the top" and "This probably came from the top. Tom, do you think this firing came from the top?

UPDATE #2: The purveyors of this clever website are probably rejoicing at the news.

UPDATE #3: Don't count the Brewers out, folks. Replacing a manager in the middle of the season will typically bring the team a temporary bounce, and might push the Brewers to win a couple more games. I have zero statistical evidence to back this up. I am just making this up. Don't believe a word I say. Ever.

UPDATE #4: Does Yost have to come to Miller Park and clean out his office today? If so, maybe he can catch the end of the Cubs-Astros game, where Ted Lilly is no-hitting the Astros through five and one-third six innings.

UPDATE #5: Screw the Yostliveglogging, the Brewers home scorer just awarded an error to Aramis Ramirez on a play that most likely would have been ruled a hit if Ted Lilly weren't twirling a no-no.

UPDATE #6: Ted Lilly gives up a base hit to Mark Loretta, ending a FIFTEEN inning hitless streak for the Astros.

september.jpg

On September 1st, Americans (and Canadians!) celebrated their 24 hours of freedom from the crushing quotidian working life imposed by corporate overlords by grilling frozen hamburgers and drinking saccharine margaritas made with cheap tequila. Yes, it was Labor Day, and the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their 80-57 record, good enough for first place in the NL Wild Card standings by a hefty five-and-a-half game margin over the fading Philadelphia Phillies. Maybe, just maybe, the Brewers would finally drink from the chalice of postseason goodness for the first time since nineteen-dickety-two!

Or maybe they'd just be victims of the September Swoon. After getting swept in four games in Philadelphia this weekend, Milwaukee is tied for the wild card lead with the Phils and just two games ahead of the surprisingly decent Astros. They've complied a miserable 3-10 record in September, and outfielder Ryan Braun is unhappy with their latest failure:

"This series was a complete and total disaster," said Braun, who conceded the NL Central title to the Chicago Cubs. "It couldn't have gone any worse. They couldn't have played any better. We couldn't have played any worse. We can only go in one direction from here. It's not going to get worse."

He then mused about the fact that Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter and the Cubs big victory came at the Brewers home park:

"They're probably drinking champagne and having a beer shower right now in our locker room while we sulk about what happened here," Braun said. "It's ironic, where we're at as a team and how we feel at the end of this series and see them celebrating a no-hitter on our field.

No, Alanis. That's not ironic. Actually, the fact that you called your series with Philadelphia a "complete and total disaster" while your rival team was playing in your own ballpark because of a real life disaster...that's a little bit closer to irony.

millerpark.jpg

That nasty Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on Houston families and businesses over the weekend, but fans of the Houston Astros have bigger problems to deal with: their preferred baseball squadron has been forcefully relocated to a rival's ballpark! The Astros had a chance to pick up a game on the woeful Brewers, swept away in four games at Philly, but instead go no-hit by Carlos Zambrano and now sit two games out in the race.

The 'stros play one more 'home' game in 'Milwaukee' today but don't expect the Houston 'fans' to enjoy any of it:

These are two critical games, for which, whatever advantage a team may or may not have, could greatly alter the play off landscape for a division and a league. A Monday double header in Houston would have brought as meager as a crowd as this is predicted to bring in Milwaukee, but they would have been fans who were trying to forget the ill effects of a hurricane that had just rocked their world. They would have been cheering for the only thing that's worth cheering for in Houston at this time.

Um, isn't there a weeklong curfew in Houston right now? Isn't the power out all over town? Don't the city officials and police have more important things to worry about than a silly baseball game when millions dollars of damage has been incurred all over the gulf coast? How many rhetorical questions can I ask? Baseball is a business (crazy, I know!) and Herr Selig did the best he could to maintain the progression of a season, basically opening up a couch in his apartment and letting the Astros crash for a couple nights. It's not Bud's fault that the Astros thanked him for his hospitality by shitting the sofabed.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Padres fans.

Braves 7, Mets 4: The screenplay for the film version of the 2008 Mets bullpen's story is hackneyed and contains way too many forced twists and turns. Predictability is way better when things always go well, like a silly, sappy Disney cartoon where the princess always outsmarts the villain. The Mets bullpen, however, is like a bad Guy Ritchie movie where a five-run ninth inning outburst by the Braves offense is akin to the antihero getting taken out by an errant bullet. You saw it coming from miles away, so you groan. Luis Ayala was the victim this time, his second blown save as a Met.

Phillies 7, Brewers 3 (game one); Phillies 6. Brewers 1 (game two): So the Phillies picked up a game and a half in the division race and two in the wild card race thanks to winning both halves of a day-night dubbleheader. In the first, Ryan Howard tied it up in the sixth with his 44th tater tot and Pat Burrell got the go-ahead RBI with a single in the eighth. Starter Country Joe Blanton was satisfactorily mediocre once again, and was rewarded after the game with twelve racks of bison ribs. In the second, Burrell ding-donged while Brett Myers twirled a complete game winner in which his only mistake was a Prince Fielder solo tot. Four game sweep: D-U-N done.

Yankees 8, Rays 4: Edwin Jackson couldn't stand the heat and was pushed out of the kitchen by newcomer David Price. Alex Rodriguez' king dong and Jason Giambi's two run tater were enough to hand Jackson his eleventh loss, despite Price making his big-league debut with style and grace. Hey, giving up Derek Jeter's 1269th career hit at The Stadium (a homer that tied Gehrig's record) is a fucking privilege.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: So the Red Sox pick up a game on the Rays to pull them within one game of the division leader pending a three-game tussle in St. Pete starting tonight. Still, both teams have all but wrapped up playoff dancecards so this is all just parrying for home field advantage. THIS TIME IT COUNTS, RIGHT BUD SELIG? Jon Lester outdueled Roy Halladay while David Ortiz somehow legged out a triple. Good for him.

Orioles 7, Twins 3: The Twins gave up five ding-dongs and were absolutely shut down by rookie starter Radhames Liz. They took two of three from Baltimore, though, and get to face the Indians next, against whom they have compiled a tidy 10-5 record on the year.

Oh and the White Sox won twice, pushing the Twins back 1.5 games.

Rob Iracane Never Welches on Bets

| | Comments (11)

Hey, remember back in August when Camp Tiger Claw and I bet on the outcome of the final Red Sox/Yankees series in The Stadium? Yeah, me too. Here ya go, jerkfaces:

robredsox.jpg

Sorry it took so long to take this picture, but you have to understand how difficult it is to find a Red Sox hat in this area. After searching high and low throughout Northern NJ and Connecticut, we ended up at the Modells in Stamford where they had an enormous floor display full of Red Sox memorabilia. Trouble was, all the hats were behind the long checkout counter at the front of the store. Imagine how embarrassed I was to ask to try on one of the hats only to whip out that awful sign and have my girlfriend snap a photo. So, uh, go Red Sox, I guess.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (12)
squidbaby.jpg

Hey kiddies, blame it on the rain.

  • HOW will the Cubs and Astros keep themselves busy if that Turner Field thing doesn't pan out? I've got Travel Connect Four and some crosswords.

  • COULD the Blue Jays really pull this shit off and beat the Red Sox this weekend? It's Peptember on Bloor Street!

  • WILL the Phillies continue to make things uncomfortable for Bob Uecker and his Brewers? Cole Hamels faces Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra in a must-win for both teams.

  • IS that thing a Squid Baby or an Octopus Baby? Either way, I want to grill it and serve it with some cannellini beans and broccoli rabe.

  • MIGHT Brandon Webb finally locate his sinker and win his 20th game?

  • WHO will be our next bigtime guest writer, following in the footsteps of the great Will Carroll? Call me, Geoff Baker and/or John Fay.

Tune in to your nationally and locally televised baseball games this weekend, friends, and come back to read Lloyd the Barber celebrate his birthday weekend by posting the scores and previews. Tonight: Yankees/Rays on ESPN at 7PM. Happy Birthday Lloyd!

(Thanks to commenter UTFLW for locating that awesome pic)

Today's classic TV post takes us back to the halcyon days of 1970, when a dude high on hallucinogenics could simply meander out of Dick Cavett's audience to shake Mickey Mantle's hand in the middle of an interview. Also appearing as guests with the Commerce Comet: the Chairman of the Board Whitey Ford and the world's shortest folk rocker Paul Simon. Please to enjoy:

There are two other parts to this show; you can see them at Kliph Nesteroff's Classic Television Showbiz blog. It's just Paul Simon blathering on about how much he hates Art Garfunkel, so don't get too excited.

mrmet.jpg

The Mets are getting tired of punting season after season in baseball, so they've decided to invest some cash in punting soccer balls. (Now that's a hacky sportsblog lede). The MLS wants to expand to 18 teams and they've always wanted to add a second New York/New Jersey team, so why not Queens? The Mets have the money, so why not blow it all on a soccer team? It's kismet!

The Mets would most likely build another new stadium for the soccer team, where they would also host other events, like concerts or Grito de Dolores parties. Cash money!

Here's the club's executive vice president of spending money on things other than overpriced relief pitchers, David Howard, in an interview with Bloomberg News:

"Our vision is not to be just a successful baseball team, but to be a world-class sports and media entertainment company. We're a lot closer to that goal than we were five years ago. We're not resting. Before even Citi Field is completed, we're looking to see what might be next for us. There's a lot of opportunity and potential."

There is also a ton of opportunity and potential in something called a 'farm system', Mets guy. How about reinvesting that cash in rebuilding the team from the ground floor, since they gave up all that talent for Johan Santana? Leave the soccer for the teams who really have zero financial interest in running a baseball team.

pigrace.jpg

Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Walkoff Walk in 2008 so that we may bring you short and mildly amusing recaps about games that made a goddamn difference in the race for the postseason. Sorry, Braves fans.

Phillies 6, Brewers 3: I watched the first few innings of this important game with wild-card implications on some website that was showing a live feed of Japanese TV. When Ryan Howard hit his first inning two-run ding-dong, the Japanese announcers took a break from their language to shout "IT'S GONE" and "HOME RUN" in English, as if it was the single greatest home run in baseball history. Moral: baseball is more fun in Japanese. The Phillies close to within 3 of the idle Mets and 3 of the Brewers.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 2: Of course, after about an hour of the Phillies game, whoever was illegally transmitting that contest switched to the Chicago-St. Louis game so as to show Kosuke Fukudome and his band of merry Cubbies attempt to step on the Cardinals' collective face and push 'em outta playoff contention. Of course, this was eventually pre-empted by Angels-Mariners so as to show Ichiro...being Ichiro.

Astros 6, Pirates 0: Somehow, the Astros just keep on keepin' on despite the utter incompetence of General Manager Ed Wade. This time, Roy Oswalt put his balls on the line and absolutely positively shut down the weak Pirates lineup for his second straight complete game shutout. Fella even retired 20 straight at one point and needed just 90 pitches to finish the contest. The game was over in 129 minutes, or 37 whole minutes shorter than the latest Spike Lee joint. 'Stros pick up a game on Milwaukee.

Royals 3, Twins 2 (10): Oh, that Minnesota bullpen. Embarking on another 10 game road trip could not possibly be good for the Twinkies, and to leave home on this sour note will make even the happiest-go-luckiest fan let loose with an audible sigh. Dennys Reyes gave up the game-winning hit to Rutgers' own David DeJesus, of all people.

Blue Jays 6, White Sox 4: Scoreless after seven, this one exploded into real live baseball in the eighth. The Jays put up a six-spot in the top half and the Sox dropped four in the bottom. Adam Lind left eight (8!) runners on base. The Sox remain 1 game ahead of the Twins. (oops!)

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

  • EJ Fagan says what everyone has been thinking forever: the BBWAA award system is broken. It's sad that the BBWAA can collectively be so daft. MVN.com.

  • Jonah Keri expounds on the most devastating injuries that have derailed the playoff hopes of baseball teams. Any column that namedrops Gary DiSarcina is a good one. ESPN Page 2.

  • Maury Brown makes some suggestions for fixing the flailing Nationals franchise. Dude, don't help them out. It's more fun to watch them strugggggggggle. Biz of Baseball.

  • GEICO's Matt Cerrone shits all over The 700 Level's Dan Levy and jinxes his team. MetsBlog brought to you by GEICO.

  • Look! Another fucking listicle! Just what the sportsblogosphere needs! Simon on Sports.

  • Rinku nearly cut himself making pork ribs. Again. Will these boys ever learn? The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Our first Walkoff Walk Pants Party might take place this winter in...Milwaukee? Brewers Blog.

  • Some chucklehead swallowed a big gulp of Thompsons Water Seal. The comments here are hilarious. FFToday Forums.
baseballtea.jpg

As if ruining the landscape of American rock 'n' roll with Oasis wasn't bad enough, now those wacky British folks have figured out that our national pastime of 'base-ball' is, in fact, a British creation. It seems some dweebs at the Surrey History Centre (that's the British -re, not the American -er, so you know it's classy) dug up a new manuscript that they consider evidence that the sport Albert Pujols plays should be enjoyed over tea and crumpets, not hot dogs and Miller Lite:

A diary entry which talks about a game played in Guildford, Surrey in 1755 has been verified as authentic by the Surrey History Centre.

The handwritten entry was discovered in the diary of lawyer William Bray and documents a game with friends on Easter Monday of that year when he was still a teenager.

So? Big whoop. Baseball started in the United States in the late eighteenth century. This is historical fact. Whatever game they played in England was probably closer to cricket than what we consider baseball today. So they used the word "base" and married it to the word "ball". Whatever reference to that word doesn't matter, because the British smell funny and have horrid teeth. Race Relations Thursday!

Julian Pooley, the manager of Surrey History Centre, was able to verify that the document was genuine because he is an expert on Bray and is responsible for a vast array of diaries written by the solicitor and local historian between 1756 and 1832.

Sounds like someone is telling fibs to increase his own notoriety and renown. Alright, Pooley, we know you forged those diaries. Own up. We know you Brits will do anything to denigrate America's favorite sport. After all, isn't it strange that the 2012 London Olympics will be the first ones in 24 years without baseball?

755.JPG

Well, allegedly. A supervisor and a server at Turner Field's 755 Club restaurant are filing discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying they were passed over for promotions at the swank, Aramark-run club:

In her complaint, (Johnnie) Anderson, 46, claims she was passed over for a promotion because of her age and because she is black. A manager told her "he wanted to change the look of the club and hire a white male," Anderson wrote in a letter accompanying her complaint. It is addressed to Braves legend Hank Aaron.

Why did she write to Hank Aaron? Because as the news article says, "The 755 Club is named after Hank Aaron's former record for home runs." Oh zing, Atlanta Journal Constitution. Way to knock a man while he's down.

Hey, with eighteen and a half games separating themselves from the playoff race, the 755 Club is the only thing Braves fans have got going for them anymore. Hank Aaron, please put on your investigative hat and your investigative pants and find out what's gone sour in your club. Walkoff Walk will not stand for explicit racism and sexism in the workplace! Although we are about to fire our intern Darren for constantly screwing up our coffee orders. Idiocy will not be tolerated!

(We owe a Diet Coke with Lemon to Matt_T)

angel.jpg

The MLB playoffs are still 19 days away but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim decided to get on board the playoff train a little bit before it leaves the station. No AL West team has ever clinched the division this early, not even the 114-win 2001 Seattle Mariners (thanks to a 102-win season from the 2001 A's).

Don't worry about the Angels getting bored, though, they brought some crosswords and Travel Connect Four to keep themselves busy. Heck, with their upcoming schedule (six vs Texas, three vs Oakland, and a hearty eight vs lowly Seattle) they're everyone's favorite to clinch the vaunted homefield advantage come playoff time.

The Angels got the job done yesterday with a 4-2 home win over the Yanks and waited patiently to clinch with Seattle's 8-7 win over Texas. Some of the fans stayed around in Anaheim to get sprayed with carbonated adult beverages, though. Got beer stains? A little club soda will get that out.

What does the future hold for the Angels? Well, on a team built on starting and relief pitching, a couple well-placed tater tots by Mark Teixeira or Vlad Guerrero will put them in good position to advance in the postseason. Just be careful with all this time off. They don't want to get sunburnt in the wrong places.

liveglog.jpg

There are five games going on this afternoon and I just couldn't choose which one to follow. So I said to myself, "Self, instead of doing a shitty job covering one of these games for the Liveglog Club, you should do an extra-shitty job covering all five of them!" I've got to figure out a way to silence that voice in my head. It's always getting me into jams.

I will do my best to catch you up in what happened during the beginning of the A's-Tigers game and the Brewers-Reds contest. But mostly I'll just be making Bob Uecker jokes. As for the Yankees game, well, I'll mind my P's and Q's this time and try my hardest not to curse out Rex Hudler and/or our commenters.

CTC gave y'all a good rundown of what's what, but to recap:

    Athletics (66-78) @ Tigers (70-75), 1:05pm
    Reds (66-79) @ Brewers (82-63), 2:05pm
    Yankees (77-68) @ Angels (87-57), 3:35pm
    D'backs (71-73) @ Giants (64-80), 3:45pm
    Marlins (73-72) @ Phillies (79-66), 4:05pm

This is either the greatest idea in the history of glogging or we may end creating an enormous black hole with the collision of so many particles of glog. SUPERCOLLIDER after the jump:

wrist.jpg

In the Red Sox 7-2 win over the hapless Rangers on Sunday, big bopper David Ortiz hit his first tater tot in twenty games, his longest power outage in quite some time. Yeah, that wrist injury is still killing him and making his once powerful whipping swing quite tentative. He's might still have that clicking problem in his wrist that may be affecting him more mentally than physically. The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin got the important Papi quotes:

"Yup, been a while," Ortiz said, of hitting a home run. "I've just had zero luck. Swinging like [expletive]. My hand is not OK. It's still bothering me once in a while, but we're winning so I don't pay attention to it. I keep on trying."

What was the expletive, Ms. Benjamin? This is wildly important information to baseball bloggers! Was it 'shit'? Was it 'hell'? Was it one of those silly non-curse words you hear on "Donna Reed" reruns, like 'fiddlesticks'? The baseballblogosphere wants to know!

More importantly, as Amalie points out, Ortiz has been productive during his mini-power outage. Kid's got just one homer, but ten doubles and eighteen walks for a .899 OPS, which is actually higher than the .876 OPS he recorded during the season's first 70 games. And since the Red Sox trail Texas by just 27 runs in the race to be the highest-scoring team in the American League, nobody in Boston is complaining about Big Papi's wonky wrist. They've got bigger problems to deal with.

scaredtwinsfans.jpg

Ever go to a baseball game with your kid, sit real close to the dugout, and collect a neat souvenir from a player who broke his bat fouling a ball off on a wicked cutter? Yeah, me neither. But actually, very few fans have picked up any of these broken bats since July 2nd, because the Major League Baseball Safety and Health Advisory Committee rounded up all the shards for Very Important Scientific Research:

Since July 2nd, MLB Authenticators have collected every bat that has broken during Major League games. To date, more than 1,700 broken bats have been collected for analysis. The Committee has compiled relevant information for each broken bat, including its manufacturer, the model, its dimensions, the situation of the game when it was broken, the area in which the bat fragments landed, and video footage from MLB.com of each broken bat incident.

Yes, the Safety and Health Advisory Committee hired some nerds from the US Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory to figure out exactly why baseball bats have been exploding with such frequency as to cause multiple injuries. The latest press release basically says: "Hey, we're still figuring this shit out. Give us some time." David Kretschmann is the HNIC for the FPL and has this to say:

Much of the speculation on broken bats this year has centered on bats made of maple. But Kretschmann said it was too simplistic to ban maple bats. "It's a much more complicated problem than that," he said. "The species itself is not necessarily the root of the problem. There are lots of factors involved, including the limitations on bat size and handle size."

Kretschmann said players were using bats of such shape and length that it's like swinging a toothpick with a brick at the end of it. "If you hit a ball going 95 mph with that, it will shatter because the brick is hanging out there," he said. "It's an impression I have had over the years in that the dimensions and shapes of bats have gone to the extreme end."

Sounds like Dave's got it all figured out and he sounds like a man with a plan in that egghead of his. But put that guy in front of the MLB Players Association and they'd laugh his ass out of that meeting faster than Troy Tulowitzki could smash his bat. Troy will give you that maple toothpick when you take it out of his cold, dead hands, nerd!

Baseball Before Bedtime: Bones

| | Comments (7)
dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball while waiting for the sun to go down:

Braves 5, Rockies 4 (10): Save the shrimp for the jambalaya, gramma. A walkoff balk is nice but it ain't our blog's name. Still, it's nice for the Braves to make waves after such a disappointingly unlucky 2008 season. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the tenth, Rockies reliever Taylor Buchholz balked, sending Kelly Johnson home with the winning run. Taylor, next time intentionally walk the batter to at least give us the hope for a WoW. Thanks.

Mets 10, Nationals 8: Carlos Delgado is doing everything in his power to steal MVP votes from Albert Pujols. Heck, this whole Pujols surgery nonsense may just be a rumor planted by Carlos himself! Fella connected for two ding-dongs and picked up his 103rd RBI. NL MVP may be a stretch but I'm willing to name him Most Valuable Carlos. Eat shit, Beltran. You too, Mencia.

Indians 6, Orioles 1: Hey, remember Travis Hafner? Yeah, me neither. Either way, he's back from his silly stint as a minor league folk hero, all ready to help Cleveland with their push towards a .500 record. Good for him.

Marlins 10, Phillies 8: On Baseball Tonight, John Kruk said that Charlie Manuel should never have let Kyle Kendrick take eight days of rest between starts and that Kendrick got so hammered tonight because his excessive rest prevented him from keeping his slider down. I disagree, Kruk. Here's why: Kyle Kendrick is not a good pitcher and the Marlins have good home run hitters and Citizens Bank Park is a hitter's park. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on the guy, after all, he doesn't even get final cut on his own dumb opinions.

Rays 5, Red Sox 4: The Rayspocalypse will not be televised. Except in Boston, where they saw someone named Dan Johnson spoil their garden parties. Kid hit a solo jimmyjack off Jon Papelbon to tie the game in the ninth; a Dioner Navarro RBI double put the Rays ahead, and Troy Percival saved it in the bottom of the inning. This all happened after Jason Bay rewrote his own tribute song with a go-ahead two run ding-dong in the eighth.

Athletics 3, Tigers 2: Emil Brown hit the game-winning sac fly. Neat.

Astros 9, Pirates 3: Forget it Jake, it's Pittsburgh.

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

  • Doug Glanville reflects on his big league debut and ponders the idea of 'arriving'. His minor league manager seems like a real peach! NY Times.

  • Phony Gwynn chooses which teams he'll latch onto now that his Padres have been eliminated from the 2008, 2009, and 2010 playoffs. Really, Phony? The Rays? Sigh. And Here Come the Pretzels.

  • Jeff Passan reflects on the tenth anniversary of the Summer of McGwire and Sosa. Shame on all the other sportswriters out there who produced sappy story after sappy story in '98 and yet now claim they knew what was going on all along. Yahoo! Sports.

  • Rinku and Dinesh have a chilled-out day eating burgers and watching Predator with JB sir's sister. The Million Dollar Arm Blog

  • Thoughts and prayers to Reds beat blogger John Fay who underwent an angioplasty last week. Yeah, covering Dusty Baker will give ANYONE a heart attack. Cincinnati Enquirer

  • Put rocks in your drinks. Real rocks. Zing. Boing Boing Gadgets.

fightingmonkeys.jpg

From time to time, Camp Tiger Claw and I discuss baseball like calm, thoughtful intellectuals. This is not one of those times. This is one of those chats where we just throw feces at each other like monkeys.

Please enjoy our conversation, prompted by Geoff Baker's column today regarding Nate Silver's PECOTA system for predicting individual player performance and whether or not it can be used to predict a team's record.

CTC: Geoff Baker dusted off all the PECOTA's
Rob: whee
I WAS RIGHT I WAS WRIGHT
CTC: they effed up the AL Central as bad as everybody else
Rob: indeed
but you have to understand
rosters change
they do a far better job on individual projections
"And yes, they came close to nailing the M's offensive numbers, predicting a .323 (.318 actual) on-base percentage and a .399 (.392 actual) slugging percentage"
CTC: the updated ones from the end of april suck too
Rob: PECOTA can't predict a bullpen being terribly mismanaged
or Atlanta losing EVERY SINGLE ONE RUN ROAD GAME
it just doesnt work that way
PECOTA can't predict every single yankees pitcher getting hurt...ALTHOUGH EVERYONE ELSE COULD
zing
CTC: well, then so what
what is a team PECOTA good for then
Rob: for getting closer than every single other system
CTC: they're mostly all off by double digits
Rob: which is less than any other predictatron
CTC: pssh
Rob: its true
CTC: it looks exactly as fallible as anything else
Rob: nobody effing predicted the Rays to win 100 games
CTC: so what it's "less wrong"
so what
Rob: that's the goal of sabermetrics
to get less and less wrong every year
until they're right
which will never happen
CTC: zzzzzzz
Rob: because humans are faulty creatures
CTC: interesting
but ultimately
zzzzzzz
Rob: haha indeed
they actually did far better last year
oh well
CTC: so it's as random as anything else
they hit a patch of luck last year
Rob: LESS random
haha no
CTC: that makes no sense
Rob: they hit a patch of BAD luck this year
CTC: something is either random or not random
there aren't degrees of randomness
Rob: right
then i wouldn't call it random
it's not random
CTC: it's useless
these predictions are so far off
Rob: its far from useless
it predicts individual performance quite well
CTC: fine then
i'm saying the team predictions are useless
Rob: i am not going to say you are wrong, but i find them useful
CTC: you forgot to put up canseco
Rob: i know
because you started fighting with me
haahahha
CTC: I WIN
CLASPS HANDS
SHAKES THEM IN AIR
ON ALTERNATING SIDES OF HEAD
Rob: Geoff Baker was totally wrong though
CTC: i think that's totally viable
Rob: if he had took the time to see WHO WAS ON THE TEAM he'd have known too
CTC: at the beginning of the year you went against all my yankee negativity with PECOTA projects this and that for them
Rob: haha
CTC: so persuasively that i ranked them way higher than i initially wanted to
Rob: dont blame me bitch!
if you had listened to me, you'd have put the Mariners last
CTC: right
Rob: and the Rays in second
CTC: two totally different outcomes
based on the same system
RANDOM
Rob: it's not random
the yankees were hurt by injuries
to the starting rotation
POINT COUNTERPOINT
CTC: they scored 200 LESS RUNS THAN LAST YEAR
Rob: you're the dummy who listened to a Yankees fan when making an AL East prediction
haha
CTC: That also didn't help
Rob: indeed
PECOTA fucked that up
PECOTA fucked up Cano
CTC: can we go back and use this conversation as a point/counterpoint
it's stayed pretty much on track
CTC: just take out most of my 715 "fucks"
Rob: and i'll take out all the good points you made
to make me appear wiser

josecansecost.JPG

If losing his house to foreclosure or being named the Historical Creampuff wasn't shame enough for the former svelte slugger in 2008, then having his name removed from honorary street signs in Miami-Dade County will make Jose Canseco one sad fella.

The street runs ten blocks long through West Miami, past Coral Park High School, where Canseco attended but (duh, of course) didn't graduate.

So why does the county want to pull down the signs?

(County Commissioner Joe) Martinez said it wasn't the brawl in the bar on the beach. It wasn't the public dust-ups with his ex-wife. It wasn't even Canseco's prancing around in a leopard print Speedo on VH1's The Surreal Life.

It was the steroids, said Martinez, a former county cop.

Jose Canseco did steroids? Man, I hadn't heard anything about that. What a cad! Strike his name from street signs immediately! Note to other city/town/county/state gubmints: don't name streets after living people while they still have a chance to make you regret your decisions.

And yes, there really is a Jose Canseco Street. Judging from the photos from the street view feature on Google Maps, I've seen this neighborhood before, and perhaps you have too, on a little television show called Cops.

(Of course, put us down for another 20 Cokes on our BBTF Newsblog tab)

coreyshirt.jpg

Thousands of Reds fans are weeping in their chili-drenched spaghetti right now. Walkoff Walk's favorite whipping boy Corey Patterson returned to the #1 lineup spot for the Redlegs last night, his first time leading off for Cincy since July 29th.

Once the Reds brought up stud rookie Chris Dickerson in August to man left field and lead off, Corey was pushed down to his rightful spot in the seven hole. Contrary to popular opinion, our t-shirt failed to sway Dusty Baker's mind. Instead, it was Dickerson's patience and speed helped him earn the leadoff spot for twenty-one straight games.

Dickerson's got a wonky ankle, so our boy Corey was slotted into the leadoff spot for the thirty-first time this year. The reactions on John Fay's beat blog at the Enquirer were not pretty:

YCityJim: Are you freakin' kiddin' me? A corpse would be better in the leadoff spot.

Calred: No, it won't. A corpse has a chance of walking or getting hit.

cherrybomber: What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Oh Calred, you card. Your joke warms the cockles of my funnybone. Want a Deadspin commenting invite? No? Well I wasn't going to give you one anyway.

Of course, Patterson popped out in his first at-bat of the game but his RBI single in the ninth tied the game for the Reds. Fella went 1-for-5 with an RBI. I still think he has value as a Major League Baseball player; he plays good outfield defense, has good speed as a pinch-runner, and has occasional pop despite his wildly horrid inability to draw a base-on-balls. Heck, if Tony Pena Jr. has a job, why can't Corey?

dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball as we turned forever, you and me:

Phillies 8, Marlins 6: Jeez, Joe Blanton chugged out yet another unimpressive start (5 IP, 4 ER, 97 pitches) and still picked up his second win against zero losses with the Phils. What a stinker! I suppose it helps when Joe's offense backs him with eight hits, three of the extry-base varietal. Anibal Sanchez couldn't finish the second inning despite allowing five runs on five hits.

Red Sox 3, Rays 0: By the time Jason Bay hit a solo ding-dong in the bottom of the first, everyone in Fenway's record 456th consecutive sellout crowd could go home because the game's scoring was D-U-N done. Still, they hung around to see Jon Lester hurl 7 and 2/3 solid innings. He got in trouble in the eighth but Jon Papelbon came in to strike out Rocco Baldelli, Rocco's fourth K on the night. Golden Sombrero, indeed.

Orioles 14, Indians 3: The O's hit four homers including a king dong by slugger Aubrey Huff. A seven-run sixth and a five-run eighth is no way to go through life, Indians pitching staff.

Tigers 14, Athletics 8: What an ugly game. Screw it, I'm going to bed.

fenwayred.jpg

Ignore the recent three-game slide or the two consecutive series losses, the Tampa Bay Rays are no longer a silly little joke in Vince Naimoli's toybox, they're a Real Live Baseball Team with Real Live Playoff Aspirations. They're set for a three-game tussle at Fenway Park that starts tonight that will help decide which team wins the division and which team will (probably) face the Angels as the AL Wild Card representative. Just one and a half games separate the two teams.

The two teams have split their twelve head-to-head matchups in aught-eight with each team winning their six home contests. Don't expect the Sox to roll just because these games are in Fenway, however. Expect them to roll because Red Sox Nation transcends continents and cultures.

Your pitching matchups:

   Monday: RHP Edwin Jackson vs LHP Jon Lester
   Tuesday: LHP Scott Kazmir vs RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
   Wednesday: RHP Andy Sonnanstine vs RHP Josh Beckett (ESPN)

Lester faced the Rays twice this year, giving up 2 runs in 12.1 innings for two of his thirteen wins, while Jackson's three starts against the Sox have resulted in an 0-2 record with a 5.82 ERA.

Tonight's game would have probably been on ESPN, had that pesky football season not started with all that Monday Night Football nonsense. Still, I'm sure New England-area sports fans will be watching NESN tonight since football has nothing more to offer them. Thanks for nothing, football!

clementebridge.jpg

Fear not, Yankees fans, Indians fans, A's fans, Braves fans, Cardinals fans, and Twins fans: your team may have fallen well short of expectations in 2008, but the Pittsburgh Pirates will always be there to soften the blow. Thanks to a ten-run fourth inning by the Giants yesterday, the Pirates lost their 82nd game on the year. Misery might love company, but with their 16th consecutive losing season, the Pirates are now in a league shared only with the 1933-1948 Philadelphia Phillies.

That's a real shitty league, y'all, and some real shitty company.

Pat of the Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke blog reflects on the weak streak of reek:

How do you properly couch another losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates? The last time the Pirates had a winning season, I was seven years old. Seven! I'm in my second year of graduate school now. Second grade was a looong time ago. Somewhere in the depths of my memories, I remember going to class the day after the Francisco Cabrera game and asking a friend who was a year younger than me if he saw that the Pirates lost again the night before. He had and seemed upset about it, so in all of my endlessly optimistic seven-year-old wisdom I told him that we'd get to the World Series next year. This was the only logical conclusion for me because to that point in my life, I'd really only known good, playoff caliber Pirate teams. I couldn't have possibly fathomed a world in which sixteen years down the road, I'd still be waiting for next year.

Oh god, don't make me cry for little seven-year-old Pittsburgh Pat. That poor fella has barely even had his first taste of a Pitts-burgher and he's already committed himself to sixteen years of disappointment. Hey fella, cheer up. Your team's got a bright future with a load of young talent and some forward-thinking folks in the front office. And your All Star center fielder is doing so we....oh, ouch.

stretcher.JPG

We asked the original ouchie reporter himself, Will Carroll, author of the "Under the Knife" column at Baseball Prospectus and fantasy football injury dude at SI.com to write a piece for us. He agreed. We're still kinda shocked. Please to enjoy:

So I was sitting in a bar with Tiger Claw, Iracane, and our usual bevy of models fetching us drinks and cigars when Iracane tossed out another of his annoying "let's debate this in a bar" questions. "Who's the historical creampuff?" he asked, his head tilted up as if he was talking to the ceiling fan more than Claw or me.

"It depends," I responded, "on how you define it. Is it the guy who spent the most time on the DL? Is it the guy who ended up losing the most because of an injury? Is it ..."

"Quit pontificating, Carroll. Nobody likes it when you do that." Tiger Claw was right. Drunk, rambling, and disheveled, but right. There was no need to use Clintonian definitions here. A creampuff is a creampuff, even an historical creampuff. Immediately, I started tap-tap-tapping on my iPhone and came up with some candidates:

Mike Hampton - Way too easy. Hampton has gone from being one of the most athletic pitchers in the game to an easy joke in the space of a couple years. He signed a big contract in Colorado and like so many guys who signed there, he just fell apart. He escaped, but his body didn't and pieces of it have been falling off since. The way that Hampton declined, especially paired up with his ludicrous contract, makes you wonder if he's pulling a Pavano and cashing his checks while avoiding that pesky "throw every fifth day" part of his deal. It doesn't seem like it, since Hampton keeps coming back and keeps coming back despite injuries to virtually every part of his anatomy, save the Snyders. At least Pavano got a roll in the hay with Alyssa Milano for his trouble. bartman.jpg

Moises Alou - Alou can't win this because Iracane would never shake his hand. Even with a Costco size bottle of Purell beside him, Iracane's still weirded out by the whole pissing on his hands thing. That's too bad, because Alou looks like a war veteran in the locker room. His ankle - one of the worst injuries ever and sadly not on YouTube, so instead, watch this and pretend - is swollen and purple. Yes, purple. It's an odd shade and if I was one of those guys who spent too much time watching "Trading Spaces" I could probably give you the accurate color. Ok, it's Premium Sumptuous Purple at the Lowe's. His shoulders have scars that go over scars. His hamstrings and calves have had so many strains that if you opened him up, it's either be a big wad of scar or Terminator-style machinery. On those brief occasions when he's healthy, even at this advance age, he can hit. Alou could probably take a couple years off, play with the kids, paint his bedroom to match his ankle, then roll out of bed one morning and go three for five with a double off Greg Maddux Jr.

Albert Pujols - Leitch is going to crap when he sees this. Heck, I'd put Pujols on the list just to see Leitch spitting like Buzz Bissinger, but the fact is that Pujols has never been healthy. He's blown out his elbow, suffered through the same plantar fasciitis that cost Mark McGwire two years of his career, and put up huge numbers just the same. Huge? Sure, he's had an historic first few years in the league, but if he'd been healthy, what could he have done? He's never had surgery to correct things and maybe that's kept him from having a Sosa in '98, Bonds in '01, or Adam Duritz in '95 kind of run. If he'd just been healthy or not so scared of a scalpel, maybe Pujols would have put up a season that would have made everyone get all Cal Ripken weepy and saved baseball from the Mitchell Report. fidrych.jpg

Mark Fidrych - If a dude stood on the mound and talked to the ball today, I think they'd gently remove him from the mound, cut to an ad for Effexor, and then take him to the showers where they'd all beat him with sanitary socks filled with gravel. Of course, that would have been a good thing to do to Ralph Houk, the manager that sent a 21 year old rookie out for 250 innings in just 29 starts. While we don't have pitch counts for these games, he only had three starts where he faced less that 25 batters. He also had 24 complete games, including five that went into extra innings. His arm turned to mush the way his head already had and he didn't have as many starts in the rest of his career as he did complete games in that magical '76. It had to be worth it for the Tigers since they finished ... oh, thirteen games under .500. Maybe it wasn't and maybe Houk is still calling Fidrych a creampuff.

Sandy Koufax - I'm not sure if a guy who slathered his arm in capsacin before starts can be a creampuff. Koufax would use the substance, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, so much that he needed new uniform tops since the clubbie couldn't get near it without his eyes burning. By the time his shoulder gave way, Koufax was the poster boy for "what if" baseball nuts, especially if you made the mistake of invoking his name around a Jew. Face it, Shawn Green or Ian Kinsler aren't going to work their way into many trivia answers. The story goes that if Koufax had been playing a few years later, we'd call it "Sandy Koufax surgery" instead of Tommy John surgery, but Koufax didn't stick around, did he? You might also want to re-read this paragraph, because it was his shoulder (likely a labrum) that caused Koufax to hang it up. Koufax did later have Tommy John surgery, but it was due to a golf injury. Golf injury? Unless you're Tiger Woods and win a tournament on a broken leg, there's no such thing as a golf injury that doesn't involve me calling you soft. cansecogoldglove.jpg

But the "winner" is Jose Canseco. Sure, it might be the first time "Canseco" and "winner" have been in the same sentence since baseball writers stopped ignoring his track marks, but there's no question the guy is a creampuff. It's bad enough to bounce a ball off your head and into the stands. It's bad enough to convince your manager you can pitch, then go out and blow out your elbow on a knuckleball. What makes Canseco the ultimate creampuff isn't even his chronic case of craniorectopathy, it's the medical condition that caused him to not seal the deal when he had the chance with Madonna. Sure, the Kaballah thing is a bit creepy now and she's a bit too muscled for Tiger Claw's taste - he likes women curvy and compliant - but Canseco was hooking up with her back when she was looking like this. (Holy crap, what is Arli$$ doing in the video?!) In his book, he mentions that shrinking his balls with steroids made his cock look bigger, but he fails to mention that besides backne, tiny balls, and rage, the other side effect of steroids is impotence. He must hate Alex Rodriguez for being able to get it in places he had to pass on. Wow, that picture of Jessica Canseco makes me a little E.D., but at least I can, Jose, you frakking creampuff. At least I can.

dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball as you gave her some old chat:

Padres 10, Brewers 1: It's the little things that keep Ned Yost and his boys feeling good. Sure, they got held to just seven runs in a four-game weekend split with the apathetic Padres, but Gabe Kapler's eighth inning solo tot was worth more than one run today: it broke up Chris Young's perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout. Heck, the only thing he didn't break was Young's nose. That's Pujols' job.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: After a crazy wacky adventure that nearly forced the Cubs to bring broadcaster Ron Santo in as a temp manager, Lupin Ella's team wasthisclose to picking up a game on the Brew Crew and dropping their magic number to 15. Shame, that Kerry Wood's circus of miscues and blown save in the ninth killed that hope. Chicargo has lost seven of eight and is causing folks from Lincoln Park to Logan Square to shit actual bricks. Construction material shortage solved!

Blue Jays 1, Rays 0: David Purcey did not have mercy and the foundering Rays got swept by the upstart Jays. Yes, after eight straight wins, the Blue Jays found third place in a way that nobody thought they would. Remember our third place contest? Twenty-three of you are very happy now.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 2: Paul Byrd threw six and two-thirds scoreless innings. Paul Byrd has four straight wins. Paul Byrd has won eight of nine overall. Paul Byrd got a standing ovation from Arlington fans when departing. Paul Byrd has made the words "pall" and "bird" lose all meaning.

Tigers 7, Twins 5: What can I say about the Twins that wouldn't sound like absolute gloating from a person whose favorite team just fell to fourth place? Nothing. Positively nothing.

Giants 11, Pirates 6: Hey, remember when Jeff Karstens had that one really good game? Yeah, me neither. Giving up ten runs in an inning to a stinky-poo offense will kill off most good feelings that Pirates fans had for their rebuilding team.

wrist.jpg

As per original ouchie reporter Will Carroll via WCSR in Chicago, White Sox outfielder and possible MVP candidate Carlos Quentin borkened his wrist and is out for the season:

    "I have been unable to confirm the specifics, but there is more going on than I was led to believe yesterday. Just last evening, I spoke with a trusted source who told me that he expected Quentin to be back in the lineup today...Now, that is no longer the case. Quentin returned from scans on his injured arm with a cast or brace and an announcement is expected before game time with more details."

Thanks, Will. This is a sad day for White Sox fans and supporters of talented hitters like Quentin. Twins fans, be nice.

hollywood.jpg

The two teams may be riding a big fat wave of mediocrity, but the best team between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks will be granted a golden ticket to the playoffs anyway. They face off for three delightful games this weekend. Throw out the .500 records, the aged L.A. pitching staff, the tired Arizona bats, and the tertiary distractions that jerks like us focus on, this series has deep meaning.

So far in 2008, the Snakebacks hold a slim 8-7 edge over the Didgeridoos in their season series. After last Friday's loss to Arizoner, L.A. looked beat, riding an eight-game losing streak with a fat four and a half game deficit. They've since won five in a row. They've got that vaunted momentum that might possibly perhaps push them towards the playoffs. They've got Rocktember in Los Angeles! Things haven't rocked this hard in the City of Angels since L.A. Guns played twelve straight nights at Whisky A Go Go in '87.

Your pitching matchups will be as follows:

    Friday: Dan Haren vs Derek Lowe (ESPN)
    Saturday: Brandon Webb vs Chad Billingsley (FOX)
    Sunday: Randy Johnson vs Greg Maddux

Wait a minute...Jamie Moyer is facing Pedro Martinez on Saturday, while Randy Johnson faces Greg Maddux on Sunday? At what point did we step in Marty McFly's DeLorean and fly back to 1999?

hurricane.jpg

Forget football and forget the MARNA Indoor Nudist Swim, the two biggest things that are happening this weekend on the East Coast are Hurricane Hanna and the Phillies-Mets series. What's the common denominator? Both events feature a lot of bluster and the possibility of destruction for structures built on poor foundations.

Okay, that's unfair, the Mets bullpen has actually been performing quite well lately. They've not given up a run in its last fifteen innings and haven't even blown a game in almost a whole week! Heck, the team is 21-9 since Billy Wagner went on the disabled list. I'm not implying that Wagner was the cancer in the Mets bullpen all along, but what if he wa....oh screw it, I am totally implying that Wagner was the cancer in the Mets bullpen all along. But hey, Billy might be back on Tuesday so the Mets better get their punches in this weekend.

Your pitching matchups this weekend:

    Friday: Brett Myers vs Mike Pelfrey
    Saturday: Jamie Moyer vs Pedro Martinez (FOX)
    Sunday: Cole Hamels vs Johan Santana (ESPN)

Oh man, this thing is SO on. It's cheesesteaks versus empanadas, South Philly versus Queens, asshole fans versus asshole fans, Manuel versus Tranuel. Hope nobody loses power this weekend, because your television sets are gonna need some of that electricity to work. Stock up on flashlight batteries, buy some cans of pinto beans, and board up your windows. Unless the Mets sweep the Phillies, this thing won't even be over on Monday.

dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball when your desire has been found:

Rays 7, Yankees 5: Just a solo tater tot in the ninth inning A-Rod? Didn't you realize your team needed a three-run jack? Pfft. Scott Kazmir showed his guile by allowing but one hit (albeit five walks) to the Yanks over six innings. The Rays bullpen withered like a daisy during an atomic blast but the Yanks' five-run ninth came up two runs shy.

Blue Jays 9, Twins 0: Who was worse off last night? The Twins shitty offense against a dominant Jesse Litsch or the silly conventioneers in St. Paul who had to put up with this nonsense? Either/or, I say. The only real winner last night was Travis Snider, who hit his first big league ding-dong. Kudos!

Padres 5, Brewers 2: Holy shit, don't print those playoff tickets yet, Uecker. You could save 0.00025% of a Brazilian rainforest by holding off a few days on that. Shawn T. Estes was dealing sixes and fives when all the Brew Crew wanted were face cards and aces, allowing just 1 run over six innings. Jeff Suppan (who went 5-0 in August) ate dogshit by giving up Will Venable's first major league homer among his five runs allowed in five innings.

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

  • Brewers fans once again get to participate in a lottery for tickets to all three rounds of the playoffs. Maybe this year they'll actually make it. Brewers Blog.

  • Marc Hulet rates the top fifteen prospects for the crappy teams out in the NL West. Don't look now, but the Giants are set to wreak some havoc come 2010. Whee, 81 wins! Baseball Analysts.

  • But for now, the Giants are satisfied having 36-year-old rookies hit their first career tater tots. The Splash.

  • The Mariners have resigned themselves to being in rebuilding mode. First point of order: fix the leaky turlets in the left field loge section. USS Mariner.

  • Major League Baseball is making the same amount of money showing games online last year that they made from showing games on FOX in 2006. How much longer until Tim McCarver is fully digitized, a la Max Headroom? Squawking Baseball.

  • Gerald Cosloy tracks down a picture of the Joba impersonator who got all them free bagels. The similarity is eerie. Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Out of respect to the professional football season starting tonight, I give to you some of the best football songs ever recorded. WFMU's Beware of the Blog.
Broken_heart_by_fabu.jpg

What a long, depressing year it's been for Dodgers outfielder Andruw Jones. First, his old hometown newspaper printed a piece in the preseason saying that Andruw missed Atlanta like a hausfrau on a diet misses cake. Then he starts the first month and a half of the season hitting .167 with just two ding-dongs and 7 RBI. The AJC throws more salt in the wound with another piece about how Andruw misses his family and plantains.

To add injury to sadness, he's then sidelined for a coupla months with torn knee cartilage, only to be replaced in the outfield by Manny Ramirez when he comes back from a rehab stint in Vegas where he actually played first base for the first time in his life.

So what's a guy to do? How about write off the entire year like the sad little emo boy that he is? Does that work?

"If the team needed me and I was the only one who could be out there, I would wrap it up and play," said Jones, who cut short the first of his two rehab assignments to step in for an injured Juan Pierre in early July. "In this situation, we have other guys who have been getting the job done. I'll try not to be in their way."

Yes, Andruw. The fun has been over for quite a long time.

(Once again, we steal all our material from the BBTF Newsblog)

orangeseats.jpg

Walkoff Walk commenter Matt_T called it and the Baseball Think Factory Newsblog confirmed it. The Braves/Marlins game was seen by fewer people than the number of folks who read our blog yesterday. Yes, a professional baseball game between two non-contending (albeit talented) teams was outdrawn by some dope live-glogging a Mets-Brewers game he was listening to on the radio.

Sure, it was 91 degrees and 99% humidity under the glaring sun in a stadium built for football in a city where there are approximately 25,700 better things to do on a Wednesday afternoon, but still...

Hanley Ramirez homered and doubled to lead the Florida Marlins past the Atlanta Braves 5-3 Wednesday in front of an incredibly sparse crowd of just 600 fans.

Fewer than 600 people were in Dolphin Stadium's bright orange and aqua seats for the first pitch, leaving most of them to reflect the afternoon sun. While the official attendance, based on tickets sold, was 11,211, the ballpark was so quiet that home-plate chatter could be heard.

In fact, the attendance at Dolphin Stadium was lower than the pageviews for this sissy The Hills liveblog. You and I probably saw more than 600 people going about our regular everyday lives yesterday, working and shopping and commuting. And heck, I don't even live in the Big City like some of you do. In fact, don't MLB stadiums employ well over 600 people per game to sell peanuts, clean bathrooms, and take tickets? (Oh who am I kidding, nobody ever cleans those turlets) So that means there might have been more people being paid to be at that game (employees, media, actual baseball players) than those paying to be at that game.

At that point, shouldn't the Marlins just forfeit and take everyone out for an emparedado cubano?

(Picture stolen from ESPN.com, credit to the AP)

dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball while you lost a lot of sleep trying to understand:

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 3: This Adam Dunn trade paid off well tonight as the big fella laced a walkoff RBI dubble that plated Conor Jackson. The Cards bullpen got tagged with its league-leading 29th loss, but hey, that's what happens when you employ Ron Villone.

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Don't call it a winning streak. Yes, we realize the Pirates have now won two in a row after losing eleven straight, but don't get all cute on us, Pirates beat writers. Sure you'd like to inject some humor into your otherwise tiresome recaps, but there are better ways. Call Dusty Baker a goofball or bemoan the front office for trading Jason Bay, but don't make a goofy 'winning streak' joke.

Yankees 8, Rays 4: Instant replay got its cherry popped tonight after a two-run tater tot by Alex Rodriguez was called into question by the umps. They went to their little umpire room, watched the video, told some inappropriate jokes, and then returned to the field with good news: it was a fair ball and A-Rod became a real boy.

Nationals 9, Phillies 7: Chad Durbin giveth, Chad Durbin taketh away. Like a selfish girlfriend who won't go out dancing on a Saturday night, Durbin got the Phils' hopes up going 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA in the first three months of the year. Since then, he's blown five saves and lost three games raising his ERA over half a run. Tonight's line: five hits, four runs, and a tater tot to Ryan Zimmerman in just two-thirds of an inning to waste Ryan Howard's two ding-dongs.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 4 (11): You let John McDonald beat you with the glove, okay, that's expected. You let John McDonald beat you with the bat, shame on you.

liveglog.jpg

The Brewers will host the Mets today in hopes of avoiding a sweep, and they'll throw out their best right-handed-hitting lineup to counter southpaw starter Oliver Perez. Chubby first baseman Prince Fielder gets the day off after blowing donkey balls over the past six contests in which Milwaukee faced five lefties.

For the Mets, Oliver Perez is hot hot hot since the All Star break, going just 3-2 because of a sadsack Mets bullpen but doing it all with a tidy 2.95 ERA and 2.38 K:BB ratio. The last time Perez faced the Brewers, however, he got knocked around like a shantytown in a tornado, giving up a double and a homer to today's center fielder, Gabe Kapler.

Your glog, my glog, our glog starts after the jump:

duh.jpg

Los Angeles Times 'columnist' TJ Simers wrote a column calling Dodgers GM Ned Colletti "baseball's best general manager", and I'm not sure if he's serious or if this is all a big ruse. Hey, my reading comprehension skills may not be above a fourth-grade level, but one would think I would able to distinguish serious sportswriting from mere parody. Well, one would be wrong.

Simers begins by describing his brief sit-down with Colletti:

Sat down with Ned Colletti before Tuesday's Dodgers game to discuss the details of his acceptance speech once he's officially named Major League Baseball's executive of the year.

"Huh?" said Colletti, and now you know why he needs a speech writer.

It's over, of course, the Dodgers playing minor league outfits now, and a lock to win the division title on the strength of Colletti's wizardry-- Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

Well, the Manny trade was quite the coup, but the team is just 15-16 since Ramirez showed up, despite his 10 tater tots and 41 RBI. What gives, TJ? The Dodgers are a lock to win the division title? Is this all false praise? I can't figure out your tone! Give me some more clues!

Desperate times, desperate measures and Colletti improved the Dodgers without it costing the owner a penny. That makes him the best GM in baseball in the minds of most owners.

This could be sarcasm, or it could be true, since baseball owners are notorious chuckleheads.

"Do you think there are other teams out there saying, 'Ned's desperate, let's help Ned out?' " Colletti said, while proving the point, I guess, that he's just smarter than all the other GMs in somehow stealing Ramirez and Blake.

Casey Blake is 35, hits about league average, has grounded into eight double plays in just 137 at bats, and has the fielding ability of a three legged poodle. This was not a 'steal', which is yet another thing Casey Blake cannot do.

No doubt, he fooled them all. Oldest trick in the book, too, luring your opponents to sleep, which explains why early on he signed Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre -- everyone figuring the Dodgers were finished with such a cast of misfits.

This is either the dumbest column ever written or the worst parody ever penned. My head just exploded deciding between the two, which means my reading comprehension skills have now descended to a Rex Hudler-esque level.

bangthedrum.jpg

Rocker Todd Rundgren, who somehow has been earning enough money to keep making music for over 40 years, has a baseball-playing son. Rex Rundgren, an infielder for the Dodgers' Triple A team in Vegas, is batting .198, which is actually way higher than his dad's hit song success rate of about .002.

Not to say that Todd Rundgren has been a miserable failure in the music biz, but he's resorted to joining The Cars to pay the bills while his only two 'hits' have been burned into our collective brain by muzak pumped into Target stores and wacky radio morning shows for years. And now, they're being pumped into ballparks:

And when Rex comes to the plate in the parks of the Pacific Coast League, he's a Todd Rundgren fan all over again.

He's often greeted by a walk-up-tailored sample of "Hello, It's Me," or his father's most recognizable novelty tune, "Bang on the Drum All Day." And that song in particular, Rex says, is pretty much the only one his teammates recognize.

"Bang on the Drum All Day" is the bane of my existence. If I could find a way to delete it from the American music book, I would do it. The fact that "Drum" is a hit and "Rock N Roll Pussy" isn't a hit is a real shame. Even Rundgren himself seems reluctant to connect himself to the song:

"It's great to be known for a particular song," said Rundgren, who was decked out for Tuesday morning's game in a black suit and sneakers, a 51s hat and green-tinted sunglasses.

"When you have a song that kind of finds its way into the collective conscience and (people) don't even remember where it came from, like 'Happy Birthday,' (it makes me) feel like I've contributed something to the culture."

Keep distancing yourself from the song, Todd. We'll always know it was you.

dogbedtime.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball while you've been crying all the time:

Phillies 4, Nationals 0: Put the seven-game winning streak to sleep and chalk up another shutout for the weak-hitting Washingtonians; this one comes at the hands of Cole Hamels and his band of merry bullpeneers. John Lannan was heroic despite the loss, giving up just a coupla runs in the third on RBI singles by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Heroism gets you nothing in baseball except a clunky Roberto Clemente Award plaque to hang in your billiards room.

Red Sox 14, Orioles 2: Jon Lester picked up his 13th win despite throwing a whopping 99 pitches over five tough innings. Fella walked four Oriole batters but no matter, HE GOT FOURTEEN RUNS OF SUPPORT FROM HIS MATES. The Red Sox featured wee Dustin Pedroia in ManRam's old cleanup spot and DustPeds didn't disappoint, collecting five RBI on a two-run dubble and a three-run tater tot. David Ortiz added deux deux-run deux-baggers of his own.

Pirates 3, Reds 2: A meaningless September game between fifth- and sixth-place teams? Fuck you, the Pirates just broke a 3728-game losing streak behind the strong pitching of Ian Snell. Isn't that important enough for you? The announced attendance in Cincinnati was 18,000-something, but only about 32 people showed up, probably because everyone else was still hungover from this dumb Brady Bunch event.

Blue Jays 7, Twins 5: Don't look now, but it seems like Jose Bautista remembered how to hit a baseball. No seriously, don't look, Jose hates attention. That's why he feels comfortable in Toronto. Guy picked up four hits including a ding-dong, and he now has seven hits in his last three games. Lyle Overbay was the decider, hitting a go-ahead two run dong in the sixth. Camp Tiger Claw's favorite player Brad Wilkerson was activated off the DL.

Indians 9, White Sox 3: Hey, remember Victor Martinez? He's back, in POG form.

Yankees 7, Rays 2: The second best road team in the AL beat the best home team in the AL. This proves my hypothesis: sometimes things happen in baseball.

Braves 16, Marlins 14: Fifteen pitchers saw action; nine gave up runs. Somehow, Braves pitcher Julian Tavarez was not one of the nine.

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

  • There's a blog out there that collects awesome pictures of terrible parties. For some reason, they featured a picture of our own Lloyd the Barber last week. Sorry I Missed Your Party.

  • The Answer Man interviewed future hall of famer and current sighing broadcaster Ron Santo. Ron waits until the end to play the diabetes card. Big League Stew.

  • JB Sir videotaped Rinku and Dinesh going about their household chores and sent the video back to their families in Mumbai. I'm sure their families will be happy to see their sons and brothers vacuuming in America. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Curtis Granderson makes an appearance at Genesee Valley Auto Mall in Flint Township. The Flint Township News.

  • The yet-as-unnamed Bowling Green, KY team will be moving from the South Atlantic League to the Midwest League starting in 2010. Hopefully, they'll be making the move as Cave Shrimp. BBTF Newsblog.

  • Josh Beckett's dumb elbow inspires more hemming and hawing than any elbow in recent memory. WEEI.

  • A spider sitting on a frog sitting on a turtle. Darren Hoyt
thrownunderbus.jpg

Many prognosticators thought that the Blue Jays and not the Rays would be the team to challenge the recent Yankees-Red Sox domination of the AL East. Many prognosticators are usually wrong. Sure, the Jays have a winning record and might even topple the Yankees to overtake third place, but with just 4.3 runs scored per game, their offense has simply been abysmal.

So Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi has got to figure out how to put together a better hitting team for 2009 (assuming he's still around to put it together). Just don't expect him to start throwing money around at free agent sluggers, because according to J.P., they're all Cheaty McCheatersons:

But many teams, Toronto included, are increasingly leery about buying sprees. The post-steroid era in baseball has skewed the stats of older stars. Asked how much faith he has in the free-agent market, which most recently brought the club the disappointing Thomas, Ricciardi said, "A lot less now."

"Look at the offensive numbers this year. It's like, bizarro. There's a lot of guys whose numbers have been good in the past, but they're not as good this year. So I think until we get to the point where we've seen those guys play another year or so, get a little bit of a track record, saying, 'OK, this is what those guys really are.'

"You can fill in the blanks. I'm not going to say the words. There's been a lot of false numbers in the past."

Yes, J.P. Let's fill in the blanks. You signed and/or traded for the following players to improve the Blue Jays offense for 2008: David Eckstein and Scott Rolen. What exactly were you expecting from these two? Haven't you ever heard of steep career decline due to age? Heck, did Eckstein ever reach career numbers good enough to experience a decline? Weren't you supposed to be one of them Moneyball fellas with a good knowledge of sabermetrics? Are you really going to throw the players you hand-selected by accusing them of being steroid users?

Or does this all go back to Ricciardi's problem with Frank Thomas?

(We owe some of that Diet Coke with Splenda to the BBTF Newsblog)

tandembike.jpg

Despite our government-mandated three-day break from baseball bloggin', stuff happened over the weekend in baseball. First and foremost, our weekend fella Lloyd the Barber did yeoman's work covering for our lazy asses, even with his embarrassing guest appearance on a sports blog devoted to man abs. Yikes.

In actual baseball news, yesterday's Labor Day action saw two gentleman accomplishing a nifty feat, as both Adrian Beltre of the M's and Stephen Drew of the D-backs hit for the cycle. They became the first fellas to ride the tandem cycle on the same day since Bobby Veach and George Burns did it way back in 1920, well before anyone ever thought people would play professional baseball in Phoenix. Was Arizona even a state?

In news that is more near and dear to our hearts, Saturday night featured not one but TWO walkoff walks. First, at approximately 10:30 PM EDT, the Mets gave up the goods to the Marlins. Then just before midnight, Elijah Dukes collected the game winning walk to lead the Nats over the Braves. That's two shrimp videos in one amazing night. Thanks, baseball!

baseballbed.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball while you let the loose lips kiss you clean:

Marlins 4, Braves 3: Oh, a pox on your house, Braves reliever Mike Gonzalez! With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, Gonzalez just couldn't bring himself to throw balls outside the strike zone, instead giving up the game winning sac fly to John Baker the Sac Fly Maker. We coulda had a Three Shrimp Holiday Weekend! Mike Hampton collected his fourth straight quality start but lost his second in a row.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 4: Adam Jones, Kevin Millar and Juan Castro tater-totted off Sox starter Paul Byrd but they were all solo jobs. Heck, Paul Byrd friggin loves solo jobs. He even wrote a book about being addicted to giving himself solo jobs. So those three runs were no big deal; the Sox offense provided him with an ample smattering of runs. And then Byrd finished in his Sox.

Mets 4, Brewers 2: The only person alive who makes the Mets bullpen look competent, Eric Gagne, gave up a game-winning ding-dong to Carlos Delgado in the eighth. If Brewers fans weren't pissed enough after CC Sabathia's non-no-hitter, they should be really ticked off knowing that Ben Sheets left this affair with a tight groin. Hey Ben, Paul Byrd can help you out with that.

Yankees 13, Tigers 9: Thirty hits, twenty-two runs, thirteen walks, four errors, eleven pitchers, twenty-two men left on base, two hundred twenty-six minutes, three hundred ninety-five pitches thrown, and two teams who will be spending their month of October re-staining their backyard decks.