Rob Iracane: May 2009 Archives

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (27)
joanjettmiketyson.jpg

Hey kids, pour down center

  • IS Nolan Ryan suited to become a minority owner of the Texas Rangers? A white guy as a minority? I didn't realize there were that many Hispanics in Dallas.

  • DOES Joe Maddon strike you as the kind of boob who believes in ghostststs? He strikes me as more of an Egon Spengler than a Peter Venkman.

  • WILL Clint Hurdle survive through the weekend? The Rox are playing the hot hot Padres, so I wouldn't be surprised to see bench coach Jim Tracy promoted by Monday. (UPDATE: whoops)

  • CAN the Phillies continue to pad their record with yet another three game series with the Nationals? It's a tough June ahead with a West Coast trip, a Mets series, and then 15 straight games against the AL East.

  • AREN'T you glad that the scoreboard widget on the right works again? You never realize how much you use something as simple as that until it's gone.

  • WHO introduced Mike Tyson and Joan Jett?

Thus ends another solid and hilarious week at Walkoff Walk. We couldn't have done it without the excellent commenters. Well, we could have but that's like eating a burger with no ketchup, mayo, mustard, and pickles. You're our pickles, folks. Hang out and welcome Blue Jays fan Drew the Barber this weekend; Kris and I will be back on Monday with fun stuff and a new podcast. Same WoW channel.

Back in the mid-eighties, Trivial Pursuit was all the rage amongst baby boomers who wanted nothing more than to have some memories jogged from their 1960s era childhoods. Over 20 million of the board games were sold in the first year of production which made the game popular enough to be included in this 30-second advertisement for Miller Lite, featuring former Oriole Boog Powell, former Yankee Sparky Lyle, and six-time Stanley Cup champion for the Montreal Canadiens Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion:


Like Bob Uecker in the United States, Boom-Boom always played the butt of the jokes in Canadian Miller Lite ads. Sometimes even en Francais pour nos amis Quebecoises!

arodjjwalker.jpg

See? I told you Alex Rodriguez has mad street cred. Fella met up with 1970s TV star Jimmie J.J. Walker at the Cavs-Magic playoff game last night. Dy-no-mite! Also on hand, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and Concussion McGee.

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night when the message coming from my eyes said leave it alone:

Orioles 5, Tigers 1: Luke Scott slammed two tater tots, collected four RBI, and generally teased every single contending team in need of a decent-hitting outfielder. I'm looking at you, Braves. Also, rookie David Hernandez made the Tigers look downright silly in his big league debut, allowing nine runners in six innings but stranding eight of 'em. Fellow rookie Nolan Reimold ding-donged for the third straight game and celebrated afterward with a delicious crab sundae. Forget it, Jake. It's Baltymore.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1: Randy Wolf and Randy Wells were feeling especially randy in their little pitchers duel for seven innings; Wells allowing two runs and Wolf getting pulled after giving up a solo tot to pinch hitter Bobby Scales in the eighth. The two Dodger runs were of the manufactured varietal as Juan Pierre scored on Rafael Furcal's bunt single after stealing second base in the first; Furcal scored on Casey Blake's groundout in the third. With Jonathan Broxton unavailable due to a heady Wednesday workload, Ramon Troncoso was sent to close the game out in the ninth but got into a ton of trouble. He loaded the bases with one out but got Scales and Jake Fox to strike out to end the threat.

Diamondbacks 5, Braves 2: The Atlanta Braves, ladies and gentlemen! Baseball's cure for a losing streak. The D-Backs notched four runs in the fourth after Braves second bagger Kelly Johnson's throwing error and backed Danny Haren for his fourth win on the year. Haren has 71 K's on the year against just 9 walks, including zero free passes in three straight games. He's the anti-Daniel Cabrera.

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

  • Dave Allen puts together some fancy charts using some of that Pitch F/X data to verify Milton Bradley's claims that the umpires are purposely calling wide strikes against him in retaliation for Bradley's anti-ump comments. Bradley's hypothesis is shot down, but the data actually shows that Lou Piniella stole my wallet. Baseball Analysts.

  • Ever want to see what a baseball beat writer's desk looked like up in one of them press boxes? WONDER NO MORE! Dejan Kovacevic snapped a picture of his cinnamon dolce latte and Cracker Jacks. PBC Blog.

  • Right now, I'm reading Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by former New Yorker scribe Dan Baum, but as soon as I return that to the liberry, I'm picking up Death at the Ballpark, a comprehensive study of game-related fatalities, 1862-2007. Morbidly delicious! Can't Stop the Bleeding.

  • Dave Cameron pimps out Russell Branyan, coming soon to a hitting-starved team near you. Full disclosure: I was at the Stadium the night Russ blasted his first ding-dong as a member of the Indians AND he's on my fantasy team. Fangraphs.

  • Alexei Ramirez is getting sued for $20 million by Dominican talent scouts. I've seen the lawsuit and it holds no water. Seriously, I tried to use it to get a drink out of the courtroom water cooler and the whole thing disintegrated. Sportsress of Blogitude.

  • The organizers of the National Spelling Bee decided to tart up the sample sentences this year with a bit of humour. Oh, those cards! DC Sports Bog.

  • KEYBOARD GATO.

Manny Ramirez accepts a "Free Manny" shirt from famed impersonator Jose Velasquez, who found Manny driving out of Dodger Stadium:


Via the super awesome Diamond Notes Tumblr blog repped by the super awesome Diamond Leung.

mannyandjuan.jpg

With voting for the MLB All Star Game well underway, it's time for the baseballblogosphere to start touting their favorite players in an attempt to convince readers to use their online votes for good instead of evil. Don't bother wasting your time. Ichiro is going to be a starting outfielder for the AL no matter how many times you vote for Magglio Ordonez. But now that the massively popular Manny Ramirez has been smacked with a 50-game suspension, the question arises: should the tainted slugger still be eligible to start in the All Star Game?

Manny will still be serving his suspension when the voting results are announced but will have finished the fifty game forced vacation by the time Albert Pujols welcomes Derek Jeter to St. Louis in mid-July. Enter the Vote for Manny website into the baseballblogosphere. At first glance, it seems to be a way for a fan to support Manny and jab a stick into Herr Selig's eye, but once you read the fine print, it seems that the website exists as a form of social protest against the All Star format:

I do not want to see Manny in the All Star Game. Are we clear on this? I started the "Vote For Manny" site to illustrate the joke that the voting, the "this time it counts"/World Series home field advantage rule, the mandatory representation, the still-soft PED rules...has become. I want to see the best players selected, not the most popular.

Groan. Sometimes, folks want to see aging stars like Cal Ripken play in the All Star Game despite their fading stats. And with TV ratings fading quickly, the ad wizards who run baseball want to see Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter starting in the game no matter how great a season Joey Votto or Jason Bartlett are having. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Selig himself wanted Manny to play in the game. Talk about a human interest story!

A couple days later, some Dodgers fan decided that the Vote for Manny crusade was despicable and started his own hype site for Manny's replacement, Vote for Pierre:

This is not a joke. If someone can make a Vote for Manny website, urging people to vote for a cheater, then this is the anti-Vote for Manny website.

Juan Pierre is one of the hardest working players in baseball. He kept his mouth shut when the Dodgers traded for Manny Roidmirez, and now that he got his starting job back, he has been lights out. Juan is deserving of being in the All-Star Game, not Manny.

Sure, Juan Pierre is enjoying a great 20-game streak, but that's all it is, a spurt of offense from a fourth outfielder who has struggled for a few years. Juan Pierre is probably a great person and a hard worker but he's no star. To tout him as an All Star is merely a spurious reaction to Manny's steroid suspension. It's soapboxing and preening and a downright silly way to deal with the complicated world of PEDs. I might vote for Manny, I might not, but his little steroid suspension won't be a factor that leads to my decision. The Vote for Pierre page actually makes the Vote for Manny page look like a well-thought-out exercise in social protest.

Besides, both sites are hurting the "Vote for School Lunch" campaign. School Lunch is OPSing over 1.000 and VORPing over 40!

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night when I got an electric shock from you:

Reds 6, Astros 1: Feasting on the NL Central be damned, the Reds are a springtime force to be reckoned with. The Fightin' Dustys swept the stinkeroo Astros right out of Cincinnati behind Jay Bruce's twin tater tots and Bronson Arroyo's five-hitter. They're six games over .500 and just a game and a half out of first now. Fear not, worrywarts: Arroyo's complete game cost his arm only 92 pitches and lowered his ERA over 60 points.

Marlins 6, Phillies 2: If you can only manage one run in five inning off a fella named Burke Badenhop, it's time to reevaluate things. The Phillies fell victim to the Burkester tonight as the top three hitters in the lineup combined to go 1-for-11 in the game; Carlos Ruiz' solo dong was the only blemish for Badenhop. Brett Myers got smacked around, allowing homers to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross and he eventually left the game with right hip inflammation. A little club soda will get that out.

Mets 7, Nats 4: Johan Santana notched 11 strikeouts in six innings against a very strikeoutable team but was pulled before he could amass any dominance. Those 120 pitches will do that to a guy. The Mets pen struck out four more Nats in the final three frames and manager Jerry Manuel actually struck out Adam Dunn during his post-game presser. This just in: Mr. Met just struck out racing President Abraham Lincoln, who has a 59-inch strike zone.

Orioles 12, Blue Jays 10 (11): In a game where Roy Halladay had a tidy five-run lead after seven innings, nobody expected Jesse Carlson to give it all away in the eighth or for rookie Nolan Reimold to walk off with the winning three-run tater tot in the eleventh after the O's had fallen behind by two. That's nine L's in a row for Cito and the boys. Please let this helpful listicle from Drunk Jays Fans guide you in your psychological evaluation of the fragile mental state of the typical Blue Jay fan.



For a nice play-by-play of the passionate tantrum, head to Big League Stew.

Too often, American pop culture recognizes its past stars at the worst time possible: immediately after they die. Admit it, you hadn't thought twice about Dom DeLuise's comedy oeuvre for years before he kicked the bucket a few weeks ago. Well, legendary comedian Jonathan Winters is still roaming this mortal coil, albeit not acting or performing standup anymore at age 84. In that case, let's celebrate this short television bit from 1964 in which Winters pokes fun at the body language of a major league pitcher:


Winters was huge in the 1960s and 70s with his comedy albums and appearances on the The Tonight Show. His best film work came as the bumbling truck driver in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a movie whose name would have sounded ridiculous with three or five Mads.

wietersbobble.jpg

What a strange coincidence! On the same night the Orioles attracted the fewest fans in the 18-year history of Camden Yards, Baltimore GM Andy MacPhail announced that young Triple-A phenom Matt Wieters would be promoted to the big leagues this weekend. That's just in time for the O's home series against the Tigers and the big Chick-Fil-A plush cow giveaway on Saturday. The young catcher tore up Triple-A Norfolk and is totally going to put asses in those seats, especially if team owner Peter Angelos deigns to visit the park this weekend. Get it? Because he's an ass?

But really, the move that so many Bawlmer folk wanted back on Opening Day was put off a couple months so Angelos could save a few sheckels:

Though the team has never admitted as much, it has been widely speculated that Wieters was kept in the minor leagues over the first two months of the season so that he would not earn enough service time to become a "super-two" -- a player who accrues enough playing time to be eligible by major league rules for salary arbitration after his second season as opposed to his third.

Other teams have employed this same strategy, most recently the 2008 Rays who held eventual Rookie of the Year winner Evan Longoria back a couple weeks. But in the end, the Rays were able to fill in his time at third base with a capable substitute as Willy Aybar OPS'ed .870 before Longoria was called up. The Orioles have essentially wasted 46 games worth of garbage at-bats on the catcher position, scoring an AL East low 223 runs.

So hit the bricks, backup catcher Chad Moeller and go back to Toronto, primary catcher Gregg Zaun. It's Wieters Time!

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night when I told you I would stay:

Twins 5, Red Sox 2: My archnemesis Justin Morneau hit the deciding three run ding dong that topped off the only scoring inning the Twinkies had against Jon Lester tonight. Nick Blackburn was a bit more productive, striking out seven Soxes in seven innings for a three-star Nickgasm. Boston DH David Ortiz failed to homer and therefore didn't talk to the media after the game.

Phillies 5, Marlins 3: Country Joe Blanton whiffed eleven Florida Marlins during the game and then hit up Salty Ned's Fish Bake Restaurant and Dry Cleaners after the game, where he ate a marlin, a swordfish, and half a rack of baby back shark ribs. Nom! The Phillies bullpen nearly had another monumental meltdown as Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre let in three ninth-inning runs while recording but one out; this time, however, Brad Lidge put out the fire instead of casually tossing kerosene and marshmallows on it.

Orioles 7, Blue Jays 2: The Jays offensive woes continue thanks to the swift thinking of the Orioles front office. Last night would have been Adam Eaton's spot in the rotation but he got kicked to the curb in favor of rookie Jason Berken. Fella gave up two runs in five innings and notched his first big league win thanks to a few O's tater tots. This was all in front of the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history, but they had a good excuse: there's a new penguin at the aquarium!!! Crowds should improve once the Wieters ship docks this weekend.

Reds 6, Astros 4: Looks like Joey Votto is fully recovered from his inner ear infection and was finally allowed to play a full game with the other kiddies. Dude smacked a two-run dong in the seventh to carry the Fightin' Dustys over the 'Stros, preventing Roy Oswalt from winning his 24th career game against the Redlegs against just one loss. Said Dusty Baker, "He was good tonight, but he wasn't as good as he usually is. We got to him." Way to state the facts, Dusty.

Royals 6, Tigers 1: Zack Greinke earned his fifth complete game and eighth win on the year. He is made of magic.

valleygirl.jpg

I hope you fantasy owners out there didn't do anything stupid like trade Brandon Inge for Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson a few weeks ago, because it looks like Jackson has come down with a totally untubular illness:

The Republic reports that Conor Jackson appears to have found the cause of what's been ailing him. "Jackson said he was told after seeing an infectious-disease doctor this week that he had valley fever that led to pneumonia." Ouch. Hard to think of a more debilitating double-whammy.

For the uninitiated, valley fever is a fungal disease caused by spores in the soil. When the earth is disturbed, these spores can travel through the air and be inhaled. It's most common across the Southwest - in 2007, it affected about one person per thousand in Maricopa County, but that's only cases severe enough to be reported. By some estimates, one Arizonan in three has had it at some point, though few seek any kind of medical attention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "The course of the disease is highly variable. It can take from six months to a year to fully recover, and fatigue and joint aches can last even longer. The severity of the disease depends on several factors, including your overall health and the number of fungus spores you inhale."

My goodness, he's going to be on the disabled list for how long? This is a totally new level of creampuffery.

Also, if one in three Arizonans is suffering from Valley Fever, that partially explains the Diamondbacks inability to score runs. It's not a contagious disease, though, so folks can feel safe to continue high-fiving every single Diamondback except Eric Byrnes. Wear your rubber gloves in that case; hand herpes is no joking matter.

test-pattern.jpg

Hey did you hear? Just a few months after the lowest-rated World Series since Philo Farnsworth patented the boob tube, television executives are scrambling because ratings are way down for baseball regular season games, too. Viewership for the Fox Saturday Game of the Week is off 9% since last season and 23% since 2000. Of course, you should ignore the fact that these ratings actually measure percentage of US households tuned into the sport and not total viewers.

Otherwise, that would actually imply that fewer people are watching baseball nowadays, which is just ridiculous. Ratings are down for every televised sports program that existed 30 years ago because of the explosion of cable and the proliferation of pogo stick jumping record attempts. People just have more choices, y'all!

But I digress. So does Bud Selig, who should be spending more time worrying about replacing foul poles with giant lasers that shoot off into infinity. Instead, he's putting on his television executive hat and solving that problem over there:

Fox Sports spokesman Lou D'Ermilio confirmed network executives will head to Milwaukee next week to strategize with Commissioner Bud Selig about reversing the downward trends. "The purpose of the meeting is to find a way to boost the ratings for the All-Star Game and the World Series," he said. Plans include showing baseball movies on Sunday afternoons on Fox's sister channel FX, and promotional ads with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

"Well, Marge, I wasn't going to watch the MLB All Star Game but that FX channel showed that movie with the baseball-playing dog last Sunday and they had some funny commercials with Joe Buck and some old man with Alzheimers and an awful dyejob, so I reckon I'm gonna check this All Star thing out."

Get excited, baseball fans in the greater Washington, D.C. area: organ music has returned to Nationals Park. As per Screech's best friend, the tinkly tunes returned during the latest homestand:

Sure enough, that organ is real. Team President Stan Kasten telling us Our Washington Nationals are "experimenting" with the idea and are testing fan response to see if organ music will become a staple at Nationals Park.

Despite the crude imagery elicited from the idea of Stan Kasten experimenting with his organ, I say good for the Nationals and good for the Nationals fans. I can't imagine a baseball park without the smooth sounds of a live electric organ belting out standards like "Mood Indigo", "On the Sunny Side of the Street" or "Back That Azz Up". Canned music is the pits.

Now only if they could figure out how to proofread their giveaways, the Nats would be on the right track. Speaking of the right track, here's some of legendary jazz organist Jimmy Smith's oeuvre for your listening pleasure:

slump.jpg

Sometimes people make dumb predictions. If we had $5 for each silly prognostication we've dropped here at Walkoff Walk, we could afford our own expansion franchise in Oregon called the Portland IBUs who played in a stadium stocked to the brim with microbrews and hormone-free beef burgers topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

Earlier this year, I took a ton of abuse for questioning Roy Halladay's ability to win 20 games with a worsening Blue Jays offense, especially after Toronto shocked the world with a nearly perfect month of April that kept them atop the tough AL East. Well, don't be so fast to flip the fin into the failed forecasting fishbowl for this one yet: it ain't April anymore and the Jays' seven game sucking streak has me finally drinking from the cup of righteousness.

As recently as May 18th, the Bloojaze led the majors with 234 runs scored. After the seven game losing streak in which they've scored just eleven runs, they've been surpassed by four teams, including three in their own division. They're certainly getting their hits, but falling flat on their face in those certain situations that actually lead to winning games:

Toronto now is hitting just .138 (8-for-58) with runners in scoring position during the slide. The Blue Jays have also stranded 40 runners in scoring position while dropping seven straight.

"Nothing much you can do," (Cito) Gaston said. "You can juggle the lineup upside down if you want to. Some people [like to] switch the lineup around, but I'm not much for that. You've just got to keep grinding it out until something breaks, you catch a break or you make your own break."

Looks like the trouble is Vernon Wells. Fella finally had a run batted in yesterday but that was the sole run plated by the Jays against an otherwise stinkeroo Orioles team. Vernon has been having some trouble with his pull-hittin' ways:

Vernon Wells, the much maligned star of Sunday's loss, has exactly zero hits to the opposite field this year. Zero. Nil. On balls hit up the middle, his OPS is .533. That is some extreme shit.

Drew was pretty pragmatic about the Jays woes and presented some interesting stats about the team's cleanup hitter that might interest manager Cito Gaston. The fellas at Drunk Jays Fans, however, aren't taking the slump so well, accompanying their latest podcast with "I Know It's Over" by The Smiths and "End of the Line" by the Traveling Wilburys. Sounds like it's time for emo Geoff Baker to come back to Toronto

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night when the whole world was out there just trying to score:

Brewers 1, Cardinals 0 (10): Will Chris Carpenter ever give up an earned run this season? Does it matter when his team can't score any runs of their own? Carp and Brewers hurler Yovani Gallardo carried matching no-hitters through the sixth inning; both left the game after eight scoreless innings and neither factored into the decision. Bill Hall produced the game's first and last run on a walkoff hit in the tenth off Kyle McClellan. This is like showing up late to your Memorial Day BBQ and only being able to enjoy a slice of Aunt Mabel's famous strawberry rhubarb pie.

Yankees 11, Rangers 1: Alex Rodriguez showed the Rangers fans exactly what he could do off the juice, going 5-for-5 with 4 ribs and raising his batting average 70 fat points. The entire Yankees offense feasted on Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison's rotting corpse with each starter notching a hit. A-Rod's performance reminded me of the BBQ where I picked up a half rack of smoky ribs in each hand and gorged myself as if I were some sort of power-eating caveperson.

Indians 11, Rays 10: Being down by ten runs is no way to enjoy a Memorial Day. So the Indians made an emergency trip to the gas station for a 24-pack of Miller Lite, swung by the Piggly Wiggly for some hot dog buns and some Hebrew National franks, and dropped a seven-spot in the ninth inning to topple Joe Maddon and his stunned Rays. "Relievers" Dale Thayer, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, and eventual loser Jason Isringhausen blew it in the final inning. Interesting note as per the AP: "It was the largest blown lead in Rays history. Tampa Bay had twice led games 10-2 before losing 20-11 each time--to the New York Yankees in 2005 and Cleveland in 1999."

Athletics 6, Mariners 1: The A's backed Brett Anderson's good start with decent offense but the real story of the game was Jason Giambi's boner. With Matt Holliday on first, Giambi trotted down towards first on what he thought was ball four, sending Holliday ambling down towards second base. Problem was, that was just ball three and Holliday ended up getting caught in a rundown leading to his demise on the basepaths. Giambi's real boner actually happened during the post-game BBQ when he knocked over a platter of Orlando Cabrera's special jerk wings.

Padres 9, Diamondbacks 7 (10): The Pads took their tenth contest in a row, this time coming from down six runs late to top a struggling D-Backs pen. Chase Headley's two-run tater tot in the tenth was the deciding factor but the San Diego relief crew deserves a fat pat on the back: they've given up but one run in the past 33 innings, y'all! Manager Bud Black wasn't around at the end of the game after he was tossed during the sixth arguing a force-out play. That's like being stuck puking your guts up in the woods while your buddies are all enjoying grilled pineapple on top of vanilla ice cream.

duelingdudes.jpg

Ever since Herr Selig instituted the concept of the AL and the NL actually playing regular season games against one another (shocking, I know!), purists have decried the concept as soiling the pants of the game. Enough of their antediluvian ways, the people want Rockies-Tigers series in late May! Today marks the official start of interleague play and the unofficial start of summer, and the combination of those two events can only mean one thing: it's time for a lazy listicle on a free-for-all Friday!

Let's rank all fourteen (hit the bricks, Cubs and Padres) of the interleague series based on the following criteria: (1) historical importance (2) records of the teams involved and (3) my whims.

  • 1. Angels at Dodgers: It's the best team in baseball playing host to their poorly named little brother from just down Interstate 5. Anaheim has less of a right to stake a claim to L.A. as other suburbs like Placentia, La Puente, or Yorba freakin' Linda. I expect the Dodgers to smack the Los Angeles right off the Angels uniforms.

  • 2. Mets at Red Sox: This one has teeth. Literally, these two second place teams have been sharpening their canines and grinding their molars in preparation for this weekend, despite both teams headed in opposite directions. Watch out for the sweep: the Sox are vicious at home and the Mets...well, they're the Mets.

  • 3. Royals at Cardinals: They play each other every year but rarely does this series involve two second place teams with winning records. But without ace Zack Greinke taking the mound this weekend, Albert Pujols has a clear shot to bust up every single letter in that silly Big Mac Land sign.

  • 4. Phillies at Yankees: I've got a wager on this series with the proprietors at The 700 Level, where I wrote a guest piece today. If the Yanks win, they take me to a game at CBP and if the Phils win, I host them at the Stadium. It's a lose-lose situation for me since tickets in Philly are priced lower than the apples sold at the farmers market inside Yankee Stadium.

  • 5. Indians at Reds: Despite the mediocre records of the teams involved, people in Ohio have nothing better to do with their lives in May so expect a modicum of interest from folks looking for some good drunken fan brawls.

  • 6. Blue Jays at Braves: Pretty much any series where Roy Halladay gets to face people who are not used to seeing him is worth a look. Doc makes his first career start tonight in front of the Chick-Fil-A crowd. I'm thinking he'll notch 15 K's...against Jeff Francouer alone.

  • 7. Giants at Mariners: Randy Johnson faces his old team in an attempt to notch win #299 on his career. Well, nobody on that team save Ken Griffey was there in the nineties, but the fans have been sitting on their hands for the past eight years waiting for something interesting to happen.

  • 8. Rays at Marlins: Luckily for the attendance-starved Marlins, they'll be the beneficiary of over three dozen Rays fans making the trek from St. Petersburg with their ridiculous blue hair and cowbells. That will double the attendance at Land Shark Stadium. The season attendance.

  • 9. Rangers at Astros: Like Ohio, there's nothing else really interesting happening in Texas during the month of May. But despite the Astros stinkeroo ways, the Rangers are actually good! In first place, even! Josh Hamilton should return from injury this weekend because he left his car keys in Houston and really needs them back.

  • 10. Brewers at Twins: It's the last time the Brewers will ever ever ever play in the Metrodome, unless they sign Brett Favre in the offseason and go up against the Vikings this fall.

  • 11. Rockies at Tigers: Back in the day, a Colorado-Detroit series was the cat's pajamas...in hockey.

  • 12. Pirates at White Sox: The Brothers La Roche are foaming at the mouth at the thoughts of putting up a 20-spot on the pitching poor ChiSox.

  • 13. Orioles at Nationals: The Brother Mottram are foaming at the mouth at the thoughts of beltway baseball finally having a shred of meaning.

  • 14. Diamondbacks at Athletics: Wow, a less interesting series than the Orioles and Nationals? Shame on you, general manager Josh Byrnes.

Which of these series interest you the most, WoWies?

asahigirl.jpg

Here in the United States, the sanctity of marriage is being attacked by the gay scourge, but over in Japan, it seems like nobody wants to get married at all. They even have a word, Konkatsu, to describe the fact that young people are more interested in video games and self-abuse than getting hitched. That's why the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have created a clever ruse to play the role of matchmaker and bring together some lonely guys and gals.

The Ham Fighters will sell 100 special tickets behind home plate to fifty single young ladies and fifty single young men, similar to one of those speed-dating things at bars your mom keeps surreptitiously signing you up for. The demand among the ladies has been unexpectedly high and those tickets are already sold out. However, only 10 dudes have bought tickets because Japanese men are notoriously shy and fear contact with women unless there's a plate glass window between them and an exchange of yen.

Here's the deets on the promotion:

Male fans will be given a recognizable symbol to attach to their clothes. Female fans will receive a card with a matching symbol. The couple will be assigned randomly with the male mark on their clothes matching the female mark on their card.

Seat changes will occur between innings to add on to the excitement.

The seats will be placed behind home plate and fans might need courage to participate as there is the possibility they will be shown on television.

If a couple that meets at the game ends up getting married the plan is to invite them for the ceremonial first pitch to have their first appearance as a wife and husband on the field.

That sounds needlessly complicated when compared to the courting ritual among American baseball fans, typically involving a liquor-fueled hate-f**k between a male Red Sox fan and a female Yankees fan.

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night as I guess you scared me too:

Nationals 5, Pirates 4: Not every game means something in the hunt for the playoffs, but every game means something in the microcosm of itself. When Washington collects four straight singles off Tom Gorzelanny to regain the lead and the bedraggled Nats bullpen earns just its second victory in seventeen decisions, the meaning can be grokked from the relief felt by manager Manny Acta. Which I assume was palpable.

Rockies 9, Braves 0: Aaron Cook provided a bit of joy for his sadsack manager, too, spinning a complete game shutout against the Fightin' Chippers in which he induced 20 ground ball outs and allowed but four hits. No word on the palpability of relief on Clint Hurdle's ugly mug since his team is still mired in the muck. Todd Helton jacked a fourth-inning tetra tot off former M*A*S*H actor Jamie Farr.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1: I could say "I told you so" to all the fans of the worsening Blue Jays offense but that'd be just cruel. Sure, the Fightin' Scutaros managed just five runs in three games against the Red Sox and are now a mere 4-5 against AL East competition, but it'd be simply cruel of me to gloat about being right for once in my life. It's not all peaches and cream for your faithful blogger as Jon Lester pitched out of so many jams last night you should just call him Smuckers.

Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 3: The Snakes took three of four in the Battle of the Last Two Teams to Beat the Yankees in the World Series and Tear My Heart Out of My Chest, this one thanks to Mark Reynolds timely tater tottage. Fish captain Fredi Gonzalez put his foot down and decided that he could not use any of his veteran relievers after a grueling 13-inning nightcap the previous day; thus reliever Cristhian Martinez took the loss in his debut.

Cardinals 3, Cubs 1: Sweep alert! The Cards took all three in the series, scoring only eight runs but using a stout starting corps to allow just two Cubbies to cross home plate. Last night the starter of record was Adam Wainwright who camethisclose to nailing the complete game. Bearded Ryan Franklin recorded the final out for the cheapie save. Albert Pujols hit a ding-dong that knocked out the letter "I" in the Big Mac Land sign in this nationally televised affair.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (18)


Hey kids, it's all right where you left it.

  • WILL tonight's debut of Braves rookie hurler Kris Medlen make us all forget about the other folks named Kris in our lives, like Liakos, Kristofferson, and Kross?

  • CAN the Blue Jays salvage the final game of the series at Fenway and avoid being swept for the first time all year? No worries, Jays fans...Jon Lester's going tonight so your worsening offense should unworsen for a night.

  • IS the third game of the Giants-Padres series destined to end in a 2-1 San Diego win for a third time in a row? With Tim Lincecum pitching, the Dads will be lucky to score one run, let alone two.

  • WHEN will the Houston Astros hitters remove their craniums from their aniums and provide Roy Oswalt with some run support? Dude should have more than one win on the year by now.

  • WOULD you ever want to have a wedding music video as awesome and as douche-chilly as the one above? Lip-dubbing to Queen? Sure!

That's going to end your business day here at Walkoff Walk. Thanks to our buddy D-Mac for another great liveglog featuring a special surprise ending! Tune in tomorrow for your Friday Favorites and a special sendoff for the Memorial Day Weekend ahead. Not so fast, Canadians. Same WoW channel.

2009.0423.liveglog.costerules.jpg
  • 12:35PM EDT, Phillies at Reds: Phils manager Charlie Manuel hopes that struggling starter Joe Blanton will return to form in this rubber match. Newsflash, Cholly: being tubby and giving up a ton of runs is Country Joe's typical form. You caught lightning in a bottle last year. Time to cut bait. Our pal Dan McQuade is going to liveglog this number for you, so I hope you didn't bring your liveglog blazer to the cleaners after last night's affair.

  • 1:05PM EDT, Rangers at Tigers: The Teegers are going for the sweep at home and their six straight win; if they pull that off they'll stake a claim to the third best record in the AL. Edwin Jackson takes the mound for Detroit while ace Kevin Millwood tries to help Texas maintain their shockingly stout AL West lead. Tigers DH Wilkin Ramirez made his debut last night and tater-totted, the first Detroit player to homer in his debut since Joe Dumars dropkicked a basketball through the goalies' leg back in '87.

  • 2:05PM EDT, Twins at White Sox: The mild-hitting Fightin' Ozzies look to sweep the similarly mediocre Twinkies as two middling pitchers battle it out in a very average American city. Nick Blackburn hasn't induced a Nickgasm all month while Bartolo Colon hopes to get more than one run of support. Somethin's gotta give. Or not.

  • 2:10PM EDT, Indians at Royals: Zack Greinke will pack his seven wins and 0.60 ERA into his knapsack and hike down from his mountain retreat toward the renovated Kauffman Stadium to take on...Carl Pavano? Sounds like an easy-peasy road towards win number eight, Zack Attack. Make it count, son. Check the insert in your Playbill because Kerry Wood will most definitely not be appearing in this affair.

  • 4:08PM EDT, Athletics at Rays: Check out the mugs on today's starters. Dallas Braden's headshot seems to indicate a false confidence while Matt Garza's headshot belies the Muppet within. These two chuckleheads have their tasks: for Braden, it's to help the last place A's take three of four from the defending champs. For Garza, it's to clean up Scott Kazmir's mess again and help the Rays right their ship. Oh no, I just used a sports cliche! Nobody tell Visser.
fish_011.gif

Jon Heyman gets the breaking news:

The White Sox have reached agreement with the Padres on a trade for Jake Peavy but are awaiting Peavy's approval now, SI.com has learned.

Peavy has full no-trade power and the trade will be entirely his call. The sides are expecting a fairly quick decision by Peavy.

And Kevin Kaduk takes it a step further:

Chicago's package is said to include pitchers Clayton Richard(notes) and Aaron Poreda and the deal is still contingent upon Peavy waiving his no-trade clause. Though it would appear Peavy is fed up with losing in San Diego and is said to prefer playing in the Midwest, the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that Peavy may have some reservations in playing for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

And all we do here at Walkoff Walk is write the alliterative blogpost titles and slap on an animated dolphin GIF. THAT'S WHY WE GET PAID THE BIG BUCKS.

Who Can Save the Mets Soul?

| | Comments (4)
mrmet.jpg

Having scored just six runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the hot, hot Dodgers, the Mets have now lost four in a row and are working their way down the NL East standings. Is the sweep to the best team in baseball just a blip in the radar for Johan Santana and the Mets or does it forebode something far worse? A day off today provides too short a respite as they head to Boston on Friday to face a Red Sox team with an equally imposing home record (15-4) as the Dodgers (17-3). Worst of all, shortstop star Jose Reyes went down with another calf ouchie last night and the Mets are already scrambling for a temporary replacement.

Who out there can save the soul of the Metropolitans?

If you were to believe the madding crowd of Mets fans, it's Triple-A stud outfielder Fernando Martinez. Via the cleverly named Mets Merized Online:

From the looks of things the timing may be right for a new direction. I believe we need to have some consistency in at least one of the corner spots. This mish-mash, pot luck strategy that we currently employ at the corners is not working.

I suggest we take a long hard look at Fernando Martinez. Out top prospect was expected to crack our lineup at some point this season anyway, so I say lets accelerate those plans a little.

F-Mart might be just the thing this team needs right now.

Currently, Martinez leads the (Buffalo) Bisons in every statistical category. He is batting .289 with 7 homers and 24 RBI's. He leads the league in doubles with 13, and his 71 total bases rank sixth. His .511 slugging percentage shows his power potential, and his current gap power would play extremely well in CitiField.

With Ryan Church carefully treading every base to stay out of Jerry Manuel's doghouse, the naif Daniel Murphy filling in for Carlos Delgado at first base, and Gary Sheffield...well, Gary Sheffield is actually hitting decently, but none of these guys are everyday players. The Mets are simply filling out two important corner outfield spots with replacement level talent (I stole that line from Drew).

It can only serve Fernando best to play every day; if he'd be punished with a reserve role, his toolsy talents will stop getting toolsier. So if Omar Minaya does decide to promote the young Martinez, he'd better be prepared to make the bold move and play the 20-year-old on a regular basis. But knowing the offensive free agent signings that Minaya made in the offseason to improve their lineup (read: none), I doubt this bold move can happen.

Via the good folks at Big League Stew, we bring you Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready's rendition of the National Anthem prior to last night's Mariners game. Jimi Hendrix would approve:


If only my New York Yankees could be so creative with the anthem performance of each game instead of digging up the 35-year-old audiotape of late opera singer Robert Merrill's otherwise great performance. It gets old. So does Kate Smith's "God Bless America". New York is the greatest city in the world with the best arts scene around...recruit someone to do it live!

sexynun.JPG

CBS Sports personality Lesley Visser does not care for our blog title and wishes we would rise above our silly clichés in the game of baseball. Visser penned a bloggy screed for CBS decrying the ubiquitous usage of the term "walk-off" (which in the accepted style of the baseballblogosphere is written as one word, sans hyphen) in the news reports and broadcaster calls when a game ends with a run scored instead of an out recorded. Here's her thesis:

It's a joyful moment burdened by a terrible name. It's a cascade of emotions for the winning players and their fans, yet it's described in the most negative way. Johnny Damon, after a home run giving the Yankees their third straight come-from-behind win over the Twins, gets a pie in the face and here's how it's portrayed.

Is there any more of a buzz kill? Should a face full of whipped cream and gleeful celebration be defined in terms of the losers?

Well, Ms. Visser, sometimes a baseball fan's pure joy comes not only from the success of their favorite team but from the conquest of the fallen opponent. Had the opponent not failed, what celebration would there be to enjoy? For every Joe Carter there is a Mitch Williams; for every Andruw Jones there is a Kenny Rogers. Without the loser slowly sneaking back to the dugout with his head sunk low, how could a 'win' even exist?

When did this happen anyway? No surprise, it goes back to a pitcher. Back in 1988, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Lowell Cohn quoted Oakland reliever Dennis Eckersley describing a game-ending hit, when the pitcher slumps his shoulders and the team walks off the field. He called it a "walk-off piece."

The term is now ubiquitous -- a "walk-off hit", a "walk-off walk". What's next, a walk-off balk?

Well actually, the walkoff balk happened last year. And when it predictably happens to Mike Pelfrey and the Mets this year, that term will be used with aplomb. Prepare yourself now, Lesley.

My good friend, Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, disagrees with me. "It's brief and it's descriptive," he said. "It captures the image of the players walking off the field."

But who cares what they're doing? I might be alone in this, but it drives me crazy.

I know that feeling. I like to put Nutella in my oatmeal. I might be alone in that, too.

I want the greatness of the moment -- in print, on radio, over the Internet and on TV. I want clever twittering and merry voice mails. I don't want a cliché. Think how we tune out clichés. When a boss goes into "push the needle", "get our ducks in a row" or the ever-annoying "it's not rocket science", don't you glaze over? When someone wants to run an idea "up the flagpole" or needs the "big ask", isn't that debilitating?

The English language is often tortured, used in ways that detract from the moment. Baseball is supposed to be the glory of the times, the shot heard round the world and the boys of summer. I don't want a festive moment reduced to a sorry stroll from the mound.

See, this is the sort of sad professorial moaning that makes me sick. It's one thing for an English teacher to criticize poor usage, or poor grammar, or poor spelling. Those things are unacceptable in writing on any level! Even sports blogs! But I cringe when an old entrenched journalist bemoans new terms that enter the vernacular, cliche or not. That just reeks of pseudo-intellectualism and highbrow snootiness.

Shakespeare himself would have his hat set spinning if he knew writers today were spitting on invented words and phrases that had become commonplace among regular folk. The word 'walkoff' is not up for discussion.

blownsave.jpg

The 2009 Cleveland Indians season is not exactly turning out as some of us had planned. They've got the worst record in the American League and have not seen the expected bullpen improvement they so dearly wanted. Kerry Wood woofed another game last night, his second blown save of '09 to go along with Jensen Lewis' four muffs, two from Rafael Betancourt, and one oopsie from Vinnie Chulk. I haven't seen a bullpen this ineffective since...well...since the 2008 Cleveland Indians.

Starter Cliff Lee and the offense built a 5-2 lead through eight innings after which Eric Wedge put out the signal for Wood. After inducing a Jose Guillen groundout, Wood allowed back to back solo dongs to Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen. He walked Miguel Olivo, a rare and difficult task given the OBA-challenged Olivo's season total of one walk prior to that appearance, before giving up a game-tying triple to Rutgers grad David DeJesus. The smart thing to do at this point would have been to walk the bases loaded and either (a) get the inning-ending double play or (b) walk in the winning run and bring shrimp to a hungry world. Instead, Willie Bloomquist drove in the deciding run with a simple sac-fly to right and the Royals celebration was on.

"He's the guy you were going to," said Wedge, after Wood's second blown save of the year. "That's the reason he's here. A three-run lead in the ninth inning is the best situation for any closer."

I can't really blame Wedge for pulling Cliff Lee out of a game in which he had cruised through eight innings, throwing 101 pitches, 65 for strikes. After all, thanks to the recent losing ways of the Cleveland Indians, closer Kerry Wood hadn't had a save opportunity since May 1st. Fella needs to get in a close-and-late game just to keep the blood pumping through the veins. Of course, in the end, the only blood pumping last night was through the forehead veins of Indians fans.

lopezlasorda.jpg

Mario Lopez was all set to throw out the first pitch at the Dodgers game last night until he realized he had no idea what baseball was and the last time he attempted to 'toss the pill' it was something completely different. So he did exactly what any red-blooded American dancing queen would do and got some instructive help from an elderly, lecherous dago.

Now I was no superstar when I played Little League as a lad but if I was ever granted the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a ballgame, I'd rather just go out there and wing it...directly at Tommy Lasorda's head so he can go ass-over-tea-kettle and do the All Star tumble again.

(via Diamond Leung's Diamond Notes Tumblr)

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night as a tear fell from her mother's eye:

Tigers 4, Rangers 0: That $39 million is finally paying off, Dave Dombrowski! Dontrelle Willis and four relievers combined to one-hit the otherwise power-hitting Texas squadron and the Tigers took the first game of the series between two first place teams. Willis went six and a third, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out five. Looks like the Zoloft is working.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: It's CC Sabathia's life, it's now or never. He's not gonna live forever. He just wants to live while he's alive. Also, A-Rod tater-totted for the fourth straight game while his old pal Mark Teixeira collected two dongs. Either A-Rod is better protection in the lineup than Hideki Matsui or someone secretly poured some steroids on Texy's Cocoa Puffs.

Braves 8, Rockies 1: Todd Helton finally collected his 2,000th career hit but it was all for naught as Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens scattered three hits and three walks over seven innings and got some run support from Casey Kotchman. The Kotch enjoyed his new spot in the 2 slot of the lineup with two doubles and three RBI and celebrated after the game with a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich, extra spicy please. Yunny Escobar is your new leadoff hitter, Braves fans.

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: In the series where I have no idea whom to root for, Tim Wakefield shut down the Jays enough over eight innings to make up for the fact that David Ortiz still can't hit. Papi returned to the lineup after his lost weekend and went hitless but the aged Wakefield fooled Aaron Hill and the Gang with his loopy knuckleball, allowing just five hits to the worsening Jays offense. Kevin Millar collected a solo dong, continuing the Red Sox starters affinity for allowing homers this year.

Cardinals 3, Cubs 0: Yeah, St. Louis had fallen out of first over the past couple of weeks but Joel Pineiro cares not to be the guy to extend a losing streak. Dude pitched a three-hit shutout over Sweet Lou's kids, retiring 23 of his last 24 batters faced and topping the night off by striking out Alfonso Soriano. Not like that's such a difficult task. Yadier Molina hit cleanup for the Cards in this affair, joining brother Bengie Molina who hit cleanup for the Giants and brother Jose who cleaned up the sunflower seeds in the Yankees bullpen.

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

  • Cliff Corcoran reviews all the tender, young pitchers that the Pittsburgh Pirates have inherited from big brother New York Yankees, including Ross Ohlendorf who mysteriously leads the NL in wins with five. Bronx Banter.

  • In the history of the world, only the peanut butter and chocolate marriage can top the new merging of pitch F/X data with home run distance, kindly provided by Jeremy Greenhouse. Notably, fat hitters will stroke a low 3-0 pitch farther than any other situation. Baseball Analysts.

  • Pat does the heavy lifting for us and explains the similarity scores between a fading David Ortiz and other historical players. Interestingly, his most similar player is Lance Berkman and the #8 guy is Carlos Lee. Tough nuts, Astros fans. Knuckle Curve.

  • Our pal Matt Sussman lost his day job and did what any good, hard-working American that got pink-slipped should do...start a brand new blog with a punny name! The Layoff Beard.

  • Michael Tyznik wants to redesign the American dollar to make it easier for blind folks to use the currency. Also, he wants to get rid of the penny so he's my hero. Dollar ReDe$ign Project.

  • When I was in Barcelona, I learned that cordero means lamb in Spanish. I had no choice but to enjoy some of Sally's rack of Wil Cordero while I enjoyed my quail stuffed with duck's liver at this romantic restaurant. Time Out Barcelona.
lostweekend.jpg

Red Sox big boppin' DH David Ortiz is having a rough year, friends. Fella hasn't hit a home run all season and is currently being out-slugged (by a factor of almost 50%) by lightweight teammate Nick Green. You knew things had gotten bad for Big Papi when manager Tito Francona decided to give him a three-day furlough during the team's recent road-trip to Seattle, instead using Rocco Baldelli (0-for-11 with 7 Ks) as the designated hitter. So how'd you spend your three days off, Papi?

"I just relaxed a little," Ortiz said after sitting out the last three Red Sox games against the Seattle Mariners, including yesterday's 3-2 loss at Safeco Field. "We'll see. It was a little out of normal (not playing in three straight games), but I feel good. I feel good. I feel these days off, I did some things where I had to think about them and then an hour later, go ahead and try to do them, you know? Practice it. I feel good."

Throughout the Lost Weekend, Ortiz kept a low profile in the clubhouse, spending most of the time before games in the trainer's room. Yesterday, he got a deep tissue massage from massage therapist Russell Nua while some teammates stretched and the pitchers practiced bunting in anticipation of interleague play.

Later on Saturday night, David sampled the lamb saddle and smoked halibut rillette at Spring Hill restaurant, then washed it all down with some late harvest riesling viognier dessert wine, afterwards taking in progressive house DJ Sharam of Deep Dish at Trinity. Sunday morning, he rose early to get down to Pike Place Market in time to chat up the fishmongers and get the freshest Copper River salmon to ship back to Boston.

So really, Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, you call that a "Lost Weekend"? I think not. This was a lost weekend.

scorecard.jpg

Todd Helton is the best hitter in the relatively short history of the Colorado Rockies franchise, currently sitting on top of the all-time Rockie list with 1,999 hits. Hey, that's one hit shy of a very round number! In last night's game against the Braves, though, Todd went 0-fer in his shot to collect number 2000 until his at-bat in the ninth inning, when he laced a grounder past Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar and reached first base safely. The official scorer at the Ted, however, called it an error:

"I have never seen that ball ruled an error," Helton said. "I received 40 text messages saying it was a hit."

Official scorer Jack Wilkinson disagreed, leaving Helton's entrance into the 2,000-hit club in limbo. Manager Clint Hurdle will meet with Wilkinson today before the game to argue his case. So it's possible Helton will become the 255th player in the big leagues to reach the milestone -- 18 hours after he swung the bat.

"A hit's a hit," Helton said.

"You want a hit like that to be clean," Hurdle said. "But that was a smoked ball at the shortstop's feet. He holds his ground, and he either picks it or he doesn't. There's no error there for me. He either picks it and turns a double play, or it gets by him and it's a hit. That's all it is, but we'll move on. It was a poor call by the official scorer."

You can watch the replay video at MLB.com and not embedded here at Walkoff Walk because MLB Advanced Media doesn't understand the concept of the marketability of embedded viral videos and how they can help an already established media company earn new fans or improve the fan experience for existing ones.

But I digress. If Todd Helton ends up getting his 2,000th career hit because his manager (seen here attempting to rustle out an earwig) had a sit-down with an official scorer (who seemingly wasn't trying to screw Helton and actually made an unfavorable call towards his hometown shortstop), then I refuse to honor his round-numbered milestone-y accomplishment with a dolphin animated GIF post. I am sure Helton realizes the gravity of this threat.

The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Podcast Episode 1.8 is now archived at BlogTalkRadio (and allegedly at iTunes although I have no idea how to find it) for your listening enjoyment. Last night's topics included Juan Pierre's possible All-Star bid, Steve Phillips' asinine commentary during the Mets-Giants tilt, and this horrendous German pop-swing song.

The song played at the end of the podcast is a live version of "Gwen, Now and Then" by the Broken West, courtesy of KEXP at the Free Music Archive.

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you were boring baby when you're straight :

Rockies 5, Braves 1: Jason Marquis is like the baseball version of that guy in high school who you never think will make it big but then shows up at the ten-year reunion wearing cheap leather pants and escorting a 45-year-old stripper, because that is totally success in his own style, man. Marquis was drafted by the Braves and came up through the Atlanta system but then dicked around on other shitty NL teams for a while before returning to the Ted last night to outduel the heck out of Derek Lowe. Didja know the Braves have only won six games at home this year?

Rays 13, Athletics 4: Overmanagin' Joe Maddon decided against batting his pitcher last night and just went with the straight DH method. Seems to have worked as Tampa collected a symmetric nine hits and nine walks and humiliated Oakland starter Sean Gallagher. Jason Bartlett had five RBI, a triple, and a caramel sundae after the game to celebrate. B.J. Upton went 0-for-3 to drop his batting average to an anemic .183. Get that checked out, Beej.

Pirates 12, Nationals 7: The Pirates smacked around the Nats bullpen real good-like to earn a win in an otherwise sloppy game. Ross Ohlendorf picked up the win despite giving up five runs in five innings, all three attempted stolen bases were gunned down, and the Nats committed four errors, two by Cristian Guzman. But hey, it's not all bad news, Nats fans! Guzman had his first walk of the year after over 125 plate appearances! Okay, nevermind, it is all bad news, Nats fans.

Yankees 7, Twins 6: Another one-run win for the Yankees did not come in a wild, walkoff-y way but still provided a modicum of drama. Reliever Phil Coke notched his first career save thanks to some sexy glovework by Mark Teixeira, who saves just as many runs with his mitt as he produces with his bat as per Yankees radio announcer John Sterling. That's a slight exaggeration by Sterling, and not an actual complete effing lie.

Dodgers 3, Mets 2 (11): Ryan Church nearly scored the go-ahead run for the Mets in the top of the 11th but missed third base and was called out. The Mets then committed their fourth and fifth errors of the game in the bottom half of the inning leading to the walkoff win by the Dodgers. To sum up Church's boner, here's WoW reader Metschick's tweet from last night via our pals at the 700 Level: "Just like a guy, skips third base intent on scoring."

yipyips.jpg

In last night's ESPN Sunday game of the week, New York starter Mike Pelfrey pitched six solid innings of six-hit ball, but somehow managed to commit three balks. Two of the balks led directly to the Giants' two runs; that was all San Fran needed as they toppled the Mets 2-0 behind the competent pitching of face of the franchise Matt Cain (on Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Day...ouch, sorry Matt Cain.)

Pelfrey blames the first balk on poor footing on the mound, and the final two balks on mental mistakes. He nearly caused a fourth balk after being pulled from the game: he punched the water cooler upon returning to the dugout and shrieked in pain, causing reliever Ken Takahashi to fall off the mound thinking there was a schoolgirl in distress somewhere in the stadium.

Mike, in his own words:

"For some reason mentally, I didn't want to come set," Pelfrey explained. "It's really, really weird. I knew that I was doing it. I tried to think about something else so I wouldn't do it. It didn't turn out that way... I think I had the yips... My mind kept telling me to pick the guy off... Maybe on national TV I like making a fool out of myself."

Don't worry, Mike, about your temporary case of the yips. This is not the sort of concern the New York tabloids would ever beat incessantly into the ground. And hey, even if your wacky balk problems continue and you can't stop futzing around on the mound, you can either take the Rick Ankiel approach or just subscribe to the Yips-Be-Gone newsletter.

robshrimp.jpg

After nine days of touring the cities and countryside of Spain, I can report that there truly is very little baseball in Spain. When getting ready each morning, we popped on the TV and saw a ton of soccer highlights, the German version of American Idol, and way too much coverage of this nonsense, but surprisingly, no daily rollcall of web gems and tater tots. Shocking, I know! Despite the lack of baseball, there is a good deal of shrimp among the bounty of food and wine as evidenced by that snapshot from a great tapas-crawl we had in Madrid. Over the week or so we spent hopping around Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, and Barcelona, we ate enough food and drank enough Rioja and Cava to make your head spin.

In fact, my head is still spinning. We had jamon iberico, queso manchego, churros and porras; calamares y polpo gallega; deep-fried small green peppers and pigs' ears; lamb, beef and pork; quail, pheasant and partridge; we ate delicious fishes off a bundt-cake size pile of anchovies, tasted mussels and sardines and razor clams from a can, and enjoyed the single best bite-sized nom of my entire life: a hunk of blood sausage wrapped in a thin slice of potato, deep fried and served atop a slice of bread topped with a fried quails egg.

Although I temporarily replaced my baseball addiction with an obsession to eat every specie of mammal, bird, and fishy, I didn't take a week off from checking the Yankees score each morning. Other than their good run, the Mets walkoff walk win, and Jon Lester's ballooning ERA, I pretty much missed out on my daily baseball fix. Still, I was able to steal my girlfriend's Euro-enabled Blackberry to read up on the goings-on at Walkoff Walk and could not have been happier with what I saw. It's truly a testament to the passion of our readership, not just the dedication of our pals D-Mac and Drew, that something Kris and I created sixteen months ago could be so capably handled while I was away and while Kris was finishing up his stint as Bob the Builder. Thanks again to our readers, commenters, Furious Five guest Jonah Keri and especially Dan McQuade for holding down the fort.

tapasorgasmica.jpg

Hey kids, everything you can imagine is real.

Yep, I'm headed to Spain for a little vacation but Walkoff Walk will be thriving next week in my absence. First up, the weekend ahead, where Drew will make you swoon with his tidy game previews and recaps. Then on Monday and Tuesday, our pal Dan McQuade will grab the reins and entertain you. Finally, my life partner Kris returns on Wednesday to elevate the level of discourse on this here website to its classic dickjokery and affability. Same WoW channel.

I'll see you all again on Monday the 18th. Let's see how long I can go offline and not read email or check my RSS feeds or update my fantasy teams. I hope, by that point in time, no more of our favorite sluggers will get unwanted vacations, no more players slide headfirst into walls, and the Yankees offense has figured out how to drive in a man from third with fewer than two outs. Adios, chulos!

(Photo credit: dabasse on Flickr)

hinch.jpg

In what has been deemed a peculiar hire by the Arizona Diamondbacks, 34-year-old A.J. Hinch is packing his brown bag lunch right now and filling his briefcase with paperwork as he prepares for his first day at his new job: Major League Baseball manager. After kicking Bob Melvin to the curb, young stud general manager Josh Byrnes obviously wanted to bring in some more young stud talent to lead a team with a flailing offense and an injured ace. But Hinch has exactly zero experience as a manager at any level, having retired from baseball less than five years ago. What gives?

Well, Hinch fits into two interesting criteria. He was a catcher, and he went to Stanford. Nearly half of all current managers, including World Series winners like Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia, were catchers during their MLB careers, and even crusty old Jim Leyland was a catcher although he never reached the bigtime. Face it, catchers are total nerds, always thinking about hitting, squatting, calling pitches, adjusting the infielders, crude insults to spew at opposing batters, and clever ruses to trick umpires into calling a strike on a curveball that dropped way out of the zone. Add in the bookish Stanford education and you've got yourself a veritable Renaissance Man of baseball-thinkery.

Of course, sometimes it just pays for a manager to be dumb so he can relate to his players better. Certain current managers seem to completely ignore any sense of academia or facts and rely on instinct and the capacity to get the most out of a player's ability. Just because Hinch is a young up-and-comer and knows the ins and outs of the entire Arizona system (he was the manager of the minor league ops) doesn't make him a true leader of men. Still, if he can figure out the intricacies of the double switch and if he can utilize his bullpen with efficiency, Hinch can help the D-Backs realize their potential. Just as long as he gets a leftfielder who can hit, that is.

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we were packing our bags:

White Sox 6, Tigers 0: Mark Buehrle finally got enough distance between himself and the T-Rex to pitch eight innings of one-hit ball. Fella even had a bit of a perfect game going for six innings until Placido Polanco broke it up with a seventh inning double. A.J. Pierzynski and Jayson Nix bopped tater tots for the ChiSox.

Reds 6, Brewers 5: Playing without team-leading hitter Joey Votto, Reds pitcher Micah Owings did his best to play the role of hitter and pitcher, earning a win and knocking a tie-breaking triple. Votto and some other dudes are out with the flu. No confirmation from John Fay but I totally think it's the swine flu, which they caught from their clubhouse towel boy Marco who just went on a gay cruise to Puerto Vallarta.

Indians 3, Red Sox 1: Oh wait, the Red Sox scored twelve runs in the sixth inning, tying a modern major league record. So the Sox won 13-3 in front of my friend Derik, seated in the Green Monster seats and my friend Jaime, chilling in the State Street Paviliion. My friends like to party all the time. Kevin Youkilis sat out his third straight game, earning me zero more points in that stupid Player Pick Pool I never should have entered. Pfft.

Mets 7, Phillies 5: Old man Jamie Moyer gave up three huge Met homers and seven fat runs in just over two innings. He really put his team in a hole they couldn't claw their way out of. Ryan Howard tried, he hit a ding-dong with two ribs. Jayson Werth tried, he went 4-for-4 with a dong. But in the end, Francisco Rodriguez shut down the Phils for his second straight save and sent Charlie Manuel et al on their way back down I-95 with a goodie bag full of sadness.

Also, Bob Melvin got shit-canned. Kris sorta predicted it but he really threw some crap at the wall to see what stuck. Tough break, Melvin. Your name stuck.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (23)
manny.jpg

Hey kids, you're never too far from a Starbucks.

That's all for today. I hope to not crow any more about the Manny suspension because, frankly, it's not the sort of thing that will end well for anyone. Innocent people besides Manny will suffer because of this nonsense, while some very sanctimonious assholes will profit from their soapbox blather. Let's just play ball, amirite? Tomorrow, same WoW channel and a special announcement for the upcoming week of WoW.

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

  • David Steele recounts being fired from his Bawlmer Sun beat writer gig during a game while in the press box. Newspapers are a dying medium but real people are suffering the brunt of it. Real Clear Sports.

  • Doug Glanville weighs in on the pitch-tipping controversy surrounding his ex-teammate Alex Rodriguez. Says Doug, "A more likely scenario for how he may have been tipping pitches: he was sending signals to his own team, something that could easily be stolen by a sage opponent." Sounds good to me! I'll buy it. New York Times.

  • Scott Allen takes a trip down memory lane and busts out a great listicle of nine famous baseball vendors. What, no love for the smartass vendor who once shamed me when I didn't catch his poorly-tossed bag of salt peanuts? Mental Floss.

  • Sky Andrecheck has an awesome name and uses his powers to examine the scoreless inning streaks of Zack Greinke and Don Drysdale. His findings will surprise you! Unless you've already read it! Baseball Analysts.

  • Diamond Leung examines the delicate tango between the Dodgers and reliever Joe Beimel during the past offseason. Although wacky Troy from West Virgina interrupted the dance and stepped on some toes, the non-signing really came down to dollar signs. Diamond Notes.

  • HG wonders how some of the best sports blogs around (plus The Big Lead) came up with their blog names. He even allowed your WoW editors to participate in the exercise. You Been Blinded.

  • Inside the Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat meme. Know Your Meme.
mannyshrugs.JPG

Manny Ramirez suspended fifty games for positive drug test.

Ramirez is expected to attribute the test results to medication received from a doctor for a personal medical issue, according to a source familiar with matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

With the suspension taking effect with tonight's game at Dodger Stadium, Ramirez will not be eligible to return to the team until July 3.

Okay, WoWies. Do your work and come up with a better headline using alliteration.

UPDATE: The Yahoo! fantasy sports server is currently getting slammed by tons of Manny owners scraping the waiver wires for scrub OFs and by me trying to propose trades for the fella.

liveglog.jpg
  • 12:10PM EDT, Braves at Marlins: The Braves offense finally got some juice last night. Can they retain the juiciness today and finally give Jair Jurrjens some delicious run support? Chipper and the gang have supplied young Jair with just 2.67 runs per start. Maybe it's time to bench young Jordan Schafer, who earned his first golden sombrero last night and is now on pace for 246 strikeouts.

  • 1:40PM EDT, Pirates at Cardinals: The Pirates are 7-2 outside of their own division! But just 5-13 against NL Central opponents! This is a recipe for disaster! Because they play half their games against their own division! Their only hope is that Cards starter Todd Wellemeyer poops the bed again against the La Roche Bros and Co. like he did in April! Rick Ankiel will be in the lineup today but with that concussion still ringing in his noggin, he might need someone to point him towards centerfield!

  • 2:10PM EDT, Mariners at Royals: Believe it or not, a mid-May Mariners-Royals series means something. I never thought those words could ever be true, but they are, and our pal Matt Sussman is going to liveglog it for you. Jarrod Washburn attempts to even up a two-game series when he takes on sabermetric darling Brian Bannister in renovated Kauffman Stadium. Come back at two o'clock and enjoy the punny delight that is a Suss liveglog.

  • 3:10PM EDT, Giants at Rockies: Former face of the franchise Matt Cain got smacked around by the Rockies last week in San Fran, allowing three tater tots and four walks. Think he'll fare better out at Coors Field? Jason Marquis owns a 1.71 career ERA against the Giants in seven career starts but has never faced them in Coors. Something's gotta give, maybe!

  • 3:35PM EDT, Rangers at Athletics: Holy crapola, the Rangers are a first place team! They've notched five wins in a row and passed the fading Mariners thanks to some timely hitting and actual good starting pitching. Brandon McCarthy takes the hill today with his mediocre 4.67 ERA and fantastic 6.6 runs per game of support. Oakland has lost four in a row and sits mired in last place, so they're bringing Bob Welch out of retirement to start today.

  • 3:35PM EDT, Diamondbacks at Padres: Both these teams are 12-16 but only one of them has Danny Haren and a tidy 1.47 ERA on the payroll. After starting the season 0-3 with no love from his offense, fella has reeled off three straight well-deserved wins. His 6.71 K/BB ratio is delightful and things are looking up for the dude today, pitching in a park in which he has never lost.


Via AJ at Deadspin comes this video of a Yankees fan getting seriously upset (read: massively wasted) and executing the Bruce Lee flying karate kick at the Stadium last weekend. Perhaps he was indignant at some jamook wearing a green Yankees hat or something.

Good thing we published this today! How else would you have seen it? It's only been on every major sports blog this week.

Here is what the blogosphere is saying about the Dodgers modern-day record of 13 straight home wins to open up a season: kearnshudson.jpg

  • Dodger Thoughts: We know that a 13-game home winning streak against teams with records mostly .500 and below is no guarantee of invincibility. (...) We know that for the most part, the Dodgers haven't been squeaking by their competition; they've been pounding them, outscoring them by nearly two runs per game. (...) We know that this number doesn't mean everything. But it means something.

  • True Blue LA: But everything unraveled for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth. The Dodgers' at bats went as such: Single, lineout, walk, walk, single, walk, double, walk, single, groundout, groundout. By that time they were up 9-1 and would coast to a 10-3 win.

  • Baseball Musings: So can you win a division in April? The Dodgers are 13 games over .500 at home, 8-8 on the road. If they play .500 ball the rest of the season at home and go 41-40 away from Chavez Ravine, they'll finish 88-74. That's not enough to ensure a division title, but would have won the NL West in 2008. The Dodgers have built a nice foundation on which to win the division.

  • Big League Stew: Some enlightening background about the record the Dodgers broke: The 1911 Tigers, led by Tyrus Raymond Cobb himself, went 51-25 at home but were 38-40 on the road and finished 13 1/2 games out of first place in the AL. Peachy. It would be pretty difficult for the Dodgers to finish that far out of first in the NL West, where the NAFTA agreement will prohibit more than one team finishing over .500 this season. The Dodgers would need to play without a center fielder every day for at least half the season to finish under .500 in that division. Torre probably won't take Matt Kemp out for that long.

  • McCovey Chronicles: How Good Are the Dodgers? Trick question: There is no good in the Dodgers. Their hearts are black; the souls of fans and players alike are corroded and crumbling, carried granule by granule away by a dark, howling wind to parts unknown and unspeakable. It's a bad situation all around.

  • Federal Baseball: The Washington Nationals were there when the San Francisco Giants' left fielder hit his historic home run at home in AT&T Park. They were there in NY to sweep the New York Mets in the last week of their epic '07 collapse. And tonight, in Dodger Stadium, the Washington Nationals were there for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they cruised to their 13th straight victory at home to start the season.

  • Kim Kardashian: "What should I wear 2 the Dodger game tonight? They made me my own jersey, so do I wear jeans or leggings? Sneakers or diva it up w heels?"
blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we werestepping on our own toes:

Mets 1, Phillies 0: Possibly the best game I've seen in a while that featured exactly zero earned runs allowed by two veteran pitchers, in this case Johan Santana (10 Ks over 7 IP) and Chan Ho Park (5 Ks over 6 IP). Santana came out ahead, picking up the win when Carlos Delgado lumbered around the bases to score on a Pedro Feliz throwing error in the seventh. Fernando Tatis broke his bat on the game-winning play; the ball rolled slowly towards third base while the barrel of the bat sailed towards Jimmy Rollins, who nearly fielded it. Now that would have been a web gem.

Braves 8, Marlins 6: Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu did almost everything in his power to help the Fish win the game. Fella clobbered two doubles and a tater tot off Derek Lowe, driving in five runs but coming up short against the Braves bullpen. The offensively-challenged Braves finally found a cure for their scoring woes, tallying eight runs off 2006 Marlins draft pick Graham Taylor, who makes a delicious cracker. Lowe takes an ugly win, allowing six runs in five innings and collecting just six groundball outs.

Indians 9, Red Sox 2: Carl Pavano is coming around, people! Hide your daughters! Fella had his third quality start of the season to go along with his three horrendous heartburn-inducing starts that left him with a scar-inducing 16.71 ERA. No matter, Carl shut down the Youkilis-less Sox while Mark DeRosa's tater tot and Vic Martinez' four RBI clobbered Justin Masterson.

Royals 9, Mariners 1: In other bizarro ex-Yankee pitcher success stories (see Weaver, Jeff), Sidney Ponson's fat ass earned his first victory of the year by working around eight hits over seven innings. Mark Teahen homered and had three RBI but the highlight of the game was courtesy of the Royals defense. Outfielder Mitch Maier recorded an assist by doubling up Russell Branyan tagging up at home. His throw reached catcher Miguel Olivo in such a manner that Olivo swung his body around to tag Branyan at the last second....right in Branyan's face. Russell took umbrage. And then took a seat, because the Mariners have now lost three in a row.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 2: Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 with a tater tot. The Pirates had no answer for such a dominant individual performance and surrendered their weapons after just five innings. They took a bus to the hotel and watched "Reno 911" in the LaRoches' room.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (15)
breakfastofchampions.JPG

Hey kids, I know not if it's dark out side or light

See you all tomorrow, same WoW channel. Bring your liveglog blazers just in case we get a special liveglogger guest.

The three commissioners of the three biggest American sports, plus Gary Bettman, met today in New York City to discuss such topics as sharing best practices, maximizing fan value in a recession, and the best way to ingest human babies blood without making a mess.

On Wednesday morning, the four commissioners of the major North American professional sports leagues assembled atop the Mandarin Oriental hotel next to Central Park: Bud Selig of Major League Baseball, David Stern of the National Basketball Association, Roger Goodell of the National Football League and Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League. The Wall Street Journal conducted the gathering, and distributed programs that read on the cover for business leaders in the crowd: "A discussion on The Future of Sports with The Comissioners." (sic)

"Comissioners"? Hey, I thought the Wall Street Journal was one of the only newspapers surviving in the Xtreme Depression. It must be because they saved a few sheckels by firing every single copy editor on the staff.

Of course, one of the biggest topics on the day was the future of newspapers in sports. Put a bunch of frightened media types in a room with the three most powerful men in sports (plus Gary Bettman!) and you've got yourself a one-note song:

Stern, dean of the four commissioners after a quarter-century at the NBA's helm, said: "The handwriting is not on the wall, it's set in mud. Nevertheless, you can see by age and demographic, whether cable or Internet, the news is being consumed by consumers and we just have to adapt to that. Newspapers have to adapt or they won't survive."

The moderator (Sam Walker, sports editor of the Journal) asked if fans can get "credible coverage" going forward. Goodell noted that his management team had just met with Associated Press Sports Editors before the recent NFL Draft and discussed this same issue.

"There's a lot to be said for independence of sports journalism," Goodell said. "That doesn't mean we couldn't distribute content they create on boston.com, for example. It isn't any way filtered by the NFL; it goes directly on the site. Our industries have been good for each other. We've helped the paper business but certainly the paper business has helped us. I think of (late Boston sports columnist and TV analyst) Will McDonough and what he did to help the NFL. That would be greatly missed."

Translation: adapt to the digital age and fold your talents into MLB.com, NBA.com and NFL.com (and NHL.com!) or hit the bricks, newspaper dudes.

Fifth member of the pentavirate Colonel Sanders was notably missing from the group, probably to put the secret chemical in his new Kentucky Grilled Chicken to make you crave it fortnightly.

robertoalomar.jpg

Looks like that Robbie Alomar AIDS bombshell was just a dud. Or maybe not, because although his ex-girlfriend withdrew her $15 million civil suit, he might still have the HIV. Or rickets. Or swine flu. Or any one of the innumerable diseases that plague mankind. No telling whether the yeast infection rumor or the raped-by-Mexican-men rumors were true or not:

Alomar and (Ilya) Dall, a competitive arm wrestler and spa owner, broke up last October. Dall reportedly lives in a $5 million, Queens, N.Y., home purchased by a trust set up by Alomar.

The settlement was reached as attorneys for Alomar, a 12-time All-Star, and Dall were scheduled to appear Friday for an initial conference in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Dall could not be reached, and her attorney Anthony Piacentini declined comment when reached by ESPN.com.

"The complaint was withdrawn, which means the lawsuit was withdrawn with prejudice," Charles Bach, who represents Alomar, told ESPN.com. "That speaks for itself. It is over."

Awesome?

chipperfish.jpg

Braves rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer is a strikeout machine! I guess his batting eye is suffering from HGH withdrawal or something because he's leading the NL with 34 strikeouts in just 103 plate appearances. At this rate, he'll break the all-time single season record with over 230 strikeouts and completely shame his ancestors.

But don't worry about that happening, because Ol' Chip is on the case and playing the role of mentor:

Strikeout-plagued rookie Jordan Schafer spent nearly two hours Tuesday working with third baseman Chipper Jones, who had noticed several flaws in Schafer's swing in recent weeks.

Schafer has been playing with a sore left wrist since hearing a pop on a swing in an April 10 game against Washington. He said the wrist has improved some in the past week, since he stopped taking extra batting practice. He also insisted it wasn't the reason for his recent struggles.

Jones and hitting coach Terry Pendleton said that compensating for hand or wrist injuries can cause a player to compensate and get in bad habits with his swing. Both of them believed that's probably happened with Schafer, at least to some degree.

Jones' coaching and influence totally worked last night. Schafer only struck out once against Mets starter Livan Hernandez, instead of his usual rate of 2.5 whiffs per game. After the game, Chipper and Jordan went down to the shooting range where the kid missed every single target.

Last night at the Yanks-Sox tilt, Boston Globe scribe Dan Shaughnessy was sitting four rows behind me out in the right field mezzanine. I knew it was him because (1) nobody else wears a perm with such confidence and (2) the Globe is going tits up so they can't afford to put him in the press box no more. He still pooped out a semi-recycled column about the Yanks-Sox rivalry, but the fans in my section left him alone, most likely because he's relatively anonymous if you're not from Boston or have never read the Sports Guy. And Yankees fans don't read.

One D-list celebrity who didn't go unrecognized at a baseball game was Guy Fieri. Well, sort of. Turns out FSN in Kansas City was totally fooled by a Guy Fieri impersonator and even conducted a FOUR MINUTE LONG mid-game interview with the fraud:


You know, there are other douchebags in the world with bleached blond spiked hair and a dopey goatee besides Guy Fieri. And it totally wasn't him, as per the real Guy Fieri's Twitter. This is totally like that time Erin Andrews thought she was interviewing a Muppet but it turned out to be Matt Garza.

(We owe a case of 2-liter Diet Cokes to our pal AJD at Deadspin)

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you wereall strung out on heroin on the outskirts of town:

Red Sox 7, Yankees 3: Late night last night, kiddies! The Sox and the Yanks played another near-four-hour game and I sat through it, including the rainy part of the game after the fifth inning. Joba Chamberlain was shaky in the first, allowing the first five hitters of the game to reach including Jason Bay's three-run tater tot. Fella calmed down after that, recording a career-high twelve strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Josh Beckett was shaky all game long but only made one big oopsie, a Johnny Damon homer that CAME DIRECTLY AT ME, AGAIN. Well, two seats to the left of me. No jamooks this time but it was still out of my grasp. Beckett allowed 11 baserunners over 6 but the Sox Eastern intrigue bullpen of Hideki Okajima and Takashi Saito was perfect over three. We hit the bricks with our dollar store umbrellas and my jeans are still soaking wet. But hey, at least nobody told us it was okay to leave early.

Other stuff happened too, but I'm out of the loop. I hung out with FoWoW Jonah Keri at the game and he kept checking for the Expos score. Poor, sorry Montrealers...

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (21)

Hey kids, I am large, I contain multitudes.


That'll do it for today. No liveglog tomorrow because the powers that be have decided to make Tuesday your getaway day and schedule day games today to end a bunch queer two-game series. Same WoW channel, we'll be here.

Dom DeLuise at Sea World video courtesy of Classic Television Showbiz blog.

fishchipsnewspaper.jpg

Did you hear the big news? If you're a member of the Mets, then the answer is no, because the team has removed every tabloid newspaper from the home clubhouse at CitiField. The cheesiest tabloid of them all, the New York Post, thinks the Mets are spineless cowards who can't handle a little criticism:

The newspapers were a staple of the Mets' clubhouse for decades at Shea Stadium, but a source said team management didn't want the players exposed to the "bad vibes" from the tabloids after back-to-back September collapses.

The only newspaper now provided in the clubhouse is USA Today, whose coverage of the Mets is very limited.

Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz confirmed the removal of the tabloids, but claimed it was because the club "didn't want to play favorites among the New York newspapers."

Right, because baseball players don't watch television or read blogs or follow Twitter feeds or interact with sad fans ever. The only way the Mets players can ever gauge public opinion about their performances or lack thereof is the newspaper! The bastion of influence in Queens! Newspapers are important creatures and deserve to be preserved, whether in paper or digital format, but the New York Post is wrong for thinking its shoddy journalistic approach to covering sports is the reason newspapers are getting swept out of the clubhouse.

whistlestop.jpg
  • 12:35PM EDT, Astros at Nationals: Roy Oswalt looks to get some friggin run support and notch his first win of the year out in Washington today, where he sports a 0.55 ERA in four career appearances. He'll wield his fastball to face down Ryan Zimmerman, carrying a tidy 22-game hitting streak into this businessperson's special. A getaway game on a Tuesday? Thanks, MLB scheduling wizards!

  • 12:37PM EDT, Indians at Blue Jays: Toronto bloggers are absolutely agog over the debut of lithe lefty Brett Cecil this afternoon at the Massive Telecom Dome. The 22-year-old Cecil got the call up to the big time to replace fellow lithe lefty Ricky Romero (strained oblique) in the starting rotation. Might be a bit too soon to celebrate, Blue Jay fans. Cecil was 0-3 with a 8.31 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas, and rookie Indian slugger Matt LaPorta eats lithe lefties for breakfast.

  • 2:20PM EDT, Giants at Cubs: Reigning Cy Young winner and snaggletoothed video game pitchman Tim Lincecum looks to erect an enormous concrete wall and stop the rallying Cubs, winners of four in a row. Lincecum has great career numbers against the Cubs...well, Lincecum has great career numbers against everyone, even the 1939 Yankees, who he never faced. Following in the footsteps of fellow E! reality star Denise Richards colon it's complicated's knockout performance, Kim Kardashian's enormous ass will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch.

  • 4:08PM EDT, Orioles at Rays: Matt Garza, whose real claim to fame is his similarity in appearance to a Muppet, will try and hold back the O's today lest the boys from Baltimore pass Tampa in the standings. Quel horreur! Last to first to last again, who would have thought? Koji Uehara makes his first appearance since taking a line drive to the chest. Ouch!

  • 4:40PM EDT, Rangers at Mariners: The Rangers were able to nip at King Felix' heels last night, eventually tagging the ace for six runs over six innings. Today, they'll try and hit Erik Bedard early and then coast on the pitching stylings of one Vicente Padilla, he of the 7.42 ERA. Ken Griffey missed the game yesterday with an inflamed colon. Don Wakamatsu will personally get some ice water and aloe and try to cool that thing down so Griff can play the role of designated Padilla smasher.
angryfans.jpg

Last night, the drip-drops were coming down with regularity in the Bronx, making the chances that a game between the Red Sox and the Yankees seem nearly impossible because of terrible weather. Some folks got some bad advice and left the ballpark mere minutes before a first pitch time of 9:20 PM was announced. They turned into quite an army of angry, soaking wet rats:

With rain falling for hours and no start time announced until shortly before 9 p.m., hordes of fans began leaving the Stadium and heading home - some who said they had been advised that the game had been called by Yankee employees who walked the concourse holding pinstriped "How may I help you?" signs.

When a 9:20 p.m. start time was eventually announced over the public address system, a crowd on the sidewalk outside Gate 6 tried to get back into the Stadium, only to have the employees working the turnstiles promptly close the doors in their faces. Panicked fans began racing up and down the sidewalk, trying to find a way back into the ballpark, while others remained at Gate 6 either pleading or demanding to be let back in.

The Daily News photogs got some pretty good pictures including the one linked here, and were even threatened by Yankee security personnel to stop documenting what become a near-riot. One person was arrested for fighting with a cop. Several folks got back into the Stadium at Gate 4 but security put the kibosh on that pretty quickly.

What's the lesson to be learned here? Baseball teams will do everything in their power to get a game in regardless of the weather and they sometimes leave fans in the dark as to what their true intentions will be. Indeed, it's nice to keep a stadium-ful of folks spending money on concessions and alcohol for a couple hours while you wait for Sam Champion to tell you to hit the bricks. But as a fan, under no circumstances should you trust a part-time security guard for actual information when nothing has been officially announced over the P.A. system. If you're really in that much of a rush to get on the Major Deegan, it's your funeral.

(Picture credit: Robert Sabo, NY Daily News)

Courtesy of our friends at the 700 Level, it's Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel sliding face-first into the outfield wall at New Busch Stadium.


Fella should be okay. He was never unconscious and the X-rays were negative. Kudos to the 700 Level for embedding the video of America's sweetheart Ankiel in a sober, informative manner. Were that Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, I can only imagine the video would have been set to "Yakety Sax".

official MLB video thanks to Big League Stew

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when you wanted your adobe slabs:

Royals 3, White Sox 0: Zack Greinke became the majors first six-game winner with a complete game shutout performance against Ozzie Guillen's band of merry outpatients. Greinke's ERA drops to a league-low 0.40 while his strikeout total rises to a league-high 54. Fella is striking out more than one batter per inning which is a recipe for certain success. Over 21,000 fans attended the game, which is some sort of record for a Royals game in May when the rodeo is also in town and giving out free cases of frozen Bubba Burgers.

Phillies 6, Cardinals 1: Looks like Country Joe Blanton can cross his name off this sorry list. Fella went six strong, allowing just one run to drop his ERA to a still-horrendous 6.84. Kyle Lohse took the loss, giving up all six Philly runs in the form of a two-run Jayson Werth ding-dong and a Ryan Howard tetra tot.

Twins 7, Tigers 2: A little bit of Mauer power works behind the plate when the Mauer power in the batters box is flailing about. Joe Mauer went 0-for-5 with four gents left on base but no matter, he called a heckuva game for Frenchy Liriano, who also removed his name from the loser list. Again, this is not the 2006 edition of Liriano but it was a good one. Dude struck out nine Tigers and retired nine others on fly balls, leaving just four outs on the ground. His opponent Edwin Jackson failed miserably, allowing five runs in the seventh inning. That dude is A-OK through the first six innings, but the Tigers have allowed a total of 10 runs in the seventh innings of his last two starts. Stinkeroo!

Brewers 7, Pirates 4: The Pirates inability to beat the Brew Crew continues. Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the eighth behind starter Paul Maholm, the Pittsburgh bullpen found a way to blow it all. The intercostal with the mostal, Ryan Braun, came off the bench to tie the game in the eighth and then Rickie Weeks slammed a three-run happy jack to win it all for the Crew in the ninth. Closer Matt Capps didn't, and took the loss. Fewer than 9,000 Pittsburghians showed up because the friggin Penguins were playing some sort of winter sport.

The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Podcast Episode 1.6 is now archived at BlogTalkRadio for your listening enjoyment. Kris recommends enjoying the show with a nice dry Riesling, possibly an '06 from Alsace. The topics discussed tonight included an unsung Kurt Suzuki, the MVP candidacy of Aaron Hill, Drew's magic ability to witness walkoff walks, authentic shawarma and poutine, and the tragedy that occurs when old media fires their beat writers.

The song played at the end is Justin Townes Earle's live rendition of "They Killed John Henry", courtesy of KEXP at the Free Music Archive.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (15)
02-01+Perfect+storm.jpg

Hey kids, I won't forget to put roses on your grave

That'll do, pigs. Please tune in tonight for the ol' radio show. It promises to be another delightful romp and maybe we'll even talk about actual current events. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

loser.jpg

April was a tough month, y'all, especially for down-rotation starters on struggling teams. Some very interesting names spent the entire month without a victory, and a handful of them will be on the mound tonight searching for their first win on the year. Note, of course, that wins and losses are no way to measure how well a pitcher is doing. But tell that to their statistically-ignorant moms and dads who are having trouble bragging about their son's performance in the major leagues. Not everybody's kid can be as awesome as Tim Lincecum, after all.

Here are your choices:

  • Joe Blanton, Phillies: Fella went 4-0 down the stretch after being traded to the Phils and helped them win the World Series blah blah blah. Well get over your ginormous 2008 hangover already, Country Joe, because your 8.41 ERA after four winless starts is embarrassing Harry Kalas' gold-throated ghost. He'll try to notch a win tonight in St. Louis. Albert Pujols is salivating.

  • Francisco Liriano, Twins: Hey, remember 2006? Yeah so does Francisco Liriano, which is why he cried himself to sleep every night in April after going 0-4 with a 6.04 ERA in five starts. Dude is not inducing ground balls as much since he's pretty much abandoned his slider after recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball has lost some speed, but Frenchy'll face the free-swinging Tigers tonight. I expect a perfect game with 26 strikeouts.

  • John Lannan, Nationals: This dude has been at least league-average over five winless starts. He can pretty much blame that big fat zero on the big fat zeroes who make up the Nationals offense. Over those five starts, his team scored a whopping twelve runs. In fact, he threw seven scoreless innings against the Braves a week ago but the team ended up losing the game 1-0. No matter, he's up against fellow big loser Brian Moehler and the Astros tonight, so I'd expect at least a quality start.

  • Brett Anderson, Athletics: Who? Oh yeah, Brett Anderson, who has had at least two decent starts but with a 5.01 ERA, will struggle to ever win a game with the league's worst slugging offense behind him. Tonight, they face the Angels, who possess the league's worst bullpen. Q.E.D the A's will come from behind to win but our man Brett won't get any credit. Sorry, Moms Anderson!

  • Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies: After a terrible first start, De La Rosa has strung together three straight good ones, including five innings of hot scoreless action against the bigtime Dodgers and two quality starts. With a 3.57 ERA, it's only a matter of time before the Rockies offense decides to provide him with some old time Coors Field run support. That won't happen tonight in spacious Petco Park against his winless counterpart Kevin Correia.

So if I was forced at gunpoint to pick some winners tonight among this collection of losers, I'd take John Lannan and Kevin Correia, only because their teams will be facing poorer opponents. But if I was an actual betting man, I'd abandon this group of chuckleheads and put down an exacta on King Felix Hernandez versus the Rangers and S.I. cover boy Zack Greinke against the ChiSox.

sushi-baby.jpg

The walkoff walk is a perfect baseball occurrence. It's not so frequent that it happens on a weekly basis, losing its uniqueness and ruining the specialness of the event. It's also not a thrice-in-a-lifetime sort of deal like an unassisted triple play, or a Phillies World Championship. No, the walkoff walk will show up about seven or eight times a baseball season to delight you, when you least expect it, and sometimes, it comes in bunches.

Take this past weekend. I woke up early Saturday morning to catch a flight to Cleveland when I popped open this here website to find, thanks to our awesome weekend editor Drew, our favorite treadmill-running shrimp, the official YouTube video of the walkoff walk. The Dodgers had won on a walkoff walk on Friday night! This was already the second WoW of the season in baseball, and oddly, the second WoW for the Dodgers team. Believe it or not, the Dodgers had a chance for a third walkoff walk on Saturday night but stupid Andre Ethier decided it'd be more exciting to hit a bases-loaded RBI single than see some shrimp.

No matter, the Phillies' Shane Victorino picked up the slack on Saturday and drew the second walkoff walk of the weekend as documented here, again by our pal Drew. This time, thanks to our good relationship with the Philly baseballblogosphere, I was alerted immediately via text message, email, phone call, and bat signal. It happened between courses at the wedding dinner I was attending; needless to say, the overall reaction at the table could best be described as "nonplussed" and "concerned for the safety of someone who had one too many gin-and-tonics".

Last night, the Mariners had a chance to make it a three-for-three weekend. But Jose Lopez let us down, knocking another bases-loaded walkoff RBI single off 'reliever' Dana Eveland in the bottom of the 15th. I guess Eveland, who had just started and pitched five innings on Friday night, just wanted to throw strikes and go home. Kind of like how I felt yesterday morning when I woke up in Cleveland with a hangover.

Weekend Questions

| | Comments (30)
royalssexcrimes.jpg

Hey kids, 'no' most certainly does not mean 'yes'.

It's Friday, go do Friday things. Then come back here this weekend to be entertained by our Canadian friend Drew fka Lloyd the Barber. Thanks to our guests this week, Sooze with her sassy livegloggery and D-Mac with his popular new Cinema Varitek feature.

Wear your swine flu masks, folks, and keep those mitts clean. Thanks for joining us all week long!

(Kiss Cam photo courtesy of Flickr user robertjosiah)

eastcoastbias.jpg

It's about time that Walkoff Walk talked about baseball games on the East Coast, y'all. Enough of the constant Kansas City and Arizona coverage, that's what I say! Two big weekend series get underway tonight on the East Coast. Well, one game is on the left bank of the Delaware River while the other takes place on the North Shore of Lake Ontario, but geography was never a strong suit for the folks who make up baseball divisions. How else would you explain the Atlanta Braves playing in the N.L. West for so long?

I digress. The new pouty and perennial rivalry that is the Mets and Phillies rears its ugly head tonight at Citizens Bank Park with the Phillies treading water above the .500 mark and the Metropolitans tearing themselves apart at 9-12, four and a half games behind the first place Marlins. Things have gotten so bad for the Mets that their best bloggers are taking on Geoff Baker-like emo posts. The Mets are already driving their fans crazy with insane bullpen performance and questionable managerial moves and it's only May 1st.

Not like things are much better for the Phillies, despite their winning April record. Their pitching staff has allowed an amazing 40 tater tots over the first 20 games, with a league-worst 5.72 ERA. Their starters are stinkeroo, posting FIPs in the high fives and low sixes. Even Cole Hamels and his very good K/BB ratio of 3.75 can't catch a break, allowing too many homers and enduring too many ouchies. Expect another tater-fest at CBP tonight when Mike Pelfrey and Chan Ho Park assume their respective positions.

Meanwhile, things certainly have changed in the A.L. East since that heady preseason day when I opined that the Blue Jays and Orioles should merge their best parts and create a Voltron-esque superpower that could battle the Rays-Red Sox-Yankees triumvirate. First, the Blue Jays have played good baseball! They've beat up on every single A.L. team except the Mariners (who they didn't play) and the Royals (who they lost three of four games to) and, of course, the four other Easterly teams who they've yet to lock horns with. Yes, tonight's game against the Orioles is the first intra-division matchup for our northern friends. Not that tonight's game looks bleak for Toronto: Baltimore's run prevention is questionable at best, and they've got Roy Halladay going up against Mark Hendrickson, whose most famous sports moment was being on this poster.

Mets @ Phillies, 7:05PM

Orioles @ Blue Jays, 7:07PM

blackout.jpg

Here's what happened in baseball last night, when we threw the garbage cans through the storefront window:

Rays 13, Red Sox 0: It doesn't get any more lopsided than this, people. 2008 ALCS MVP Matt Garza flirted with a no-hitter for a bit, but the no-hitter was actually married and hiding its wedding ring. 2007 ALCS MVP Josh Beckett flirted with a quality start, but then the third inning happened and everything went to pot. Garza didn't end up allowing a baserunner until Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff infield single in the seventh; Josh Becket ended up allowing many, many baserunners, most of which ended up scoring. Evan Longoria fell a triple shy of the cycle and notched four RBI.

Marlins 8, Cubs 2 (10): Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu hit a 7th inning tater tot and bashed a bases bloated dubble in the 10th, part of a six-run assault that broke an extry-inning tie wide open. But the crux of this game was Cub reliever Carlos Marmol fielded Cameron Maybin's sac bunt attempt and threw it somewhere near Albuquerque as Ross G. Load circled third and scored the tying run. Oh, and the Marlins first run in the tenth was scored on Ryan Theriot's error. Oopsies!

Yankees 7, Angels 4: Melky Cabrera and Ramiro Pena provided the big hits in the bottom of the eighth, while the Angels' mistakes were enough to keep them from winning the game. Chone Figgins and Mike Napoli were both caught stealing while Bobby Abreu's misplay of a Derek Jeter single led to an extra run in the fourth. But hey, with those caught stealings, the Angels only left three runners on base. Strategery!