The puns are a-poppin' because it's a perpetual pit of patheticness in Kansas City. David Glass and the Royals have decided that general manager Dayton Moore is doing such a rip-roaringly good job of guiding the U.S.S. Willie Bloomquist that they've locked him up for A WHOPPING FOUR YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION that will take us all the way out to 2014, or about the same year Billy Butler finally has his breakout season.
Thank goodness they kept their guy, because I heard the other teams were just knocking down Glass' door to steal the genius Dayton Moore away from the KC organization. Who else would be wise enough to acquire the $13 million man with a .267 OBP known as Yuniesky Betancourt in a trade? Who else would have the foresight to throw a few cool million at Mike Jacobs when they have Kila Ka'aihue cooling his heels in Triple-A? Who else would sign a bunch of free-agent relievers for a team with a rotation that consists of Zack Greinke and four schmucks?
The move confirms owner David Glass' belief that Moore has the organization pointed in the right direction despite this season's disappointing play. The Royals carried a 50-80 record into Monday's series opener against the A's at the Oakland Coliseum.
Get your laundry done by 10:00PM tonight, you dirty boys and girls. Kris Liakos returns to the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show tonight along with me and Drew "LtB" Fairservice. Our topics tonight include the super-tight NL Wild Card race, the baffling Scott Kazmir trade, and movies that are so bad they're good. I'm talking Police Academy 4 bad.
Tune in live at 10PM EDT or just download it through iTunes onto your portable music playin' device. Or put on your aluminum foil hat and adjust your braces because we're going to transmit this thing over the ether one day.
One afternoon game is an outlier but two is a trend. In that case, we fill time with daytime game previews and hope for the best.
Rays at Tigers, 1:05PM: Tampa looks to split a four game series with Jim Leyland's boys but Jarrod Washburn has other plans. No, seriously, Jarrod's got reservations at the Morton's in Detroit and will pitch lights out against the Rays so he can get his mitts on that bone-in ribeye with a side of creamed spinach that much quicker. After all, the lefty is 12-3 with a 2.59 ERA lifetime against the Rays. James Shields will do his best to ruin Jarrod's best laid-plans. He must be a vegan.
Pirates at Reds, 1:10PM: Fans are already filling the lower bowl at Great American Ball Park for today's main event as Whitey McCutchen makes his heralded big league debut. Kip Wells strolls to the hill to face his former employer and fill in for Aaron Harang, whose season ended with an emergency appendectomy last week. Emergency appendectomy? Sounds like a cheap excuse for wallaby rape to this blogger.
Ernie Harwell retired from the Tigers broadcast booth in 2002 but, surprisingly, did not shrivel up and die within 18 months. Nope, instead, he's writing up a storm for the Detroit Free Press and advocating the return of pepper.
I remember newsreels of the St. Louis Cardinals playing pepper before their 1934 World Series games against the Tigers. The Cards were acrobatic, adding all kinds of tricks and gimmicks to their games. Fans loved to watch. And the players also seemed to derive a lot of enjoyment.
Why did pepper disappear? The main reason is that ballclubs began to schedule such structured practice regimes before their games that there was hardly time left to squeeze in a game of pepper. Also, the modern players now can relax before each game in a luxurious clubhouse with their own café -- something more tempting than another kind of pregame exercise.
Ah, the halcyon days of 1934, when baseball clowns would entertain the masses with their acrobatic tomfoolery and when Dominicans had to use separate water fountains! None of this modern day nonsense of La-Z-Boy recliners in the clubhouse and big screen television sets with Atari games and something called a "latte". No wonder the young whippersnappers aren't playing pepper before the game anymore; they're too busy fooling around on laptop computerators, dialing up newfangled statistics like VORP and WARP and GORP!
Danny's little brother Andrew has already been putting on quite the show for the big league club and, despite losing three more games this weekend at Miller Park to extend their losing streak to 21 games in Bob Uecker's house, the future looks pretty darn bright. Especially against the Reds in a double dip today. Dusty's handing the ball to Kip freakin' Wells, who hasn't won a start in over two years.
Pittsburgh initially wanted to send Daniel to participate with Team USA in the IBAF World Cup, an event that sounds totally made up but is, in fact, real. However, with so many young arms with innings limits on the MLB squad, the Pirates decided it'd be best to give Danny a taste of the big leagues and send prospect Brad Lincoln to Regensburg, Germany for Team USA's first round matchups. It's all for the best; Brad Lincoln always wanted to see the Walhalla Temple anyway. And Dan McCutchen always wanted to strike out Wladimir Balentien, which he'll get the opportunity to do today at 1PM.
Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.
National League Wild Card: The Rockies flew too close to the sun. Just a few days after we thought they'd be battling the Dodgers for the NL West title, Colorado landed in San Francisco and proceeded to have their wings melted by Edgar Renteria et al. The Giants swept the Rox and moved into a tie for the Wild Card lead, 3.5 games ahead of the Marlins and Braves with five weeks to go. Matt Cain had an atypical mediocre performance yesterday and did not factor in the decision, but Renteria's late tetra tot pushed the Giants towards the win. We could let San Fran and the Fightin' Jim Tracies play out the rest of the sked against one another, but we'll settle for a three-game tilt in a couple weeks back in the city by the bay.
American League Wild Card: Hey, thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays for helping make this race that much more uninteresting. Cito's boys rolled over and played dead in a three-game tilt with Wild Card leader Boston this weekend including a SIX INNING SHUTOUT AT THE HANDS OF WASHED UP RECOVERING MASTURBATER PAUL BYRD. Toronto fans, you made fun of me when I called the Blue Jays offense "worsening" but you all owe me an apology after yesterday's game. Paul freakin' Byrd! The Sox maintain a 3.5 game lead over Texas and a 5.5 game lead over Tampa.
CAN Mark Buehrle finally beat CC Sabathia in a head-to-head matchup after failing to earn a win in the past 10 meetings? Well technically, there are two whole teams involved, too. These dudes aren't gladiators.
You'll also be able to enjoy the Yankees-White Sox on TBS on Sunday and the Phillies and Braves on ESPN on Sunday night. Otherwise, I'm off for a weekend of playing racquetball, noodling around with Madden '10 on Wii, and stuffing my face with food like this. See you Monday, same WoW channel.
Some folks might think that Chipper Jones was being a bit insensitive to the plight of the illegal aliens that he rounds up on his Double Dime Ranch and hands over to the border patrol, but I disagree. To wit, here's a quote from Chipper on the radio:
People say that it's mean to call the border patrol, but who else are you gonna call? I mean, I'm not gonna spend my whole offseason driving illegals back...
Exactly, Chipper! Because really, consider his options. What was he supposed to do, murder them in cold blood? Hire them to clear brush on the ranch? Encourage Bobby Cox to name them as batboys? No, Ol' Chip does the right thing and phones the authorities.
Some people make the border patrol out to be some sort of Gestapo, but they're people just like you and me, albeit people armed to the teeth and charged with building a huge fence to keep brown folks out, but again, people nonetheless.
From all the way back in 1944 comes this screwball cartoon "Batty Baseball" from legendary Warner Bros/MGM animator Tex Avery. Avery was well-known for creating the character Daffy Duck, who he modeled off one of his friends with a crystal meth addiction.
Although it uses some pretty cheesy sight gags and puns, "Batty Baseball" had enough prurience and violence to make it enjoyable and completely inappropriate for overprotective parents to show their kids nowadays. So I wholeheartedly approve.
In two years, you might only see one of those dudes up there still roaming the outfield at PNC Park, but that guy might end up your NL MVP the same year the Pirates overtake five teams to win their division. Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run in yesterday's 3-2 Pirates win over the Phillies that helped Pittsburgh win an inspirational series against the World F'in Champions. McCutchen is a surefire Rookie of the Year candidate: .361 OBP, .486 SLG, and 15 SB with some sensational glove love in center.
Garrett Jones hit his 15th homer of the season in the eighth inning, a two-run shot that put the Pirates ahead. Actually, all 15 of the shots have come in the past two months. That makes one tater tot for every 14 plate appearances for Jones, a McGwire-esque rate for a guy that might not even be around in two years. See, the Pirates have a plan and it's young guys like McCutchen and Indianapolis' Jose Tabata that will be doing the heavy lifting in the next couple years. Seventeen consecutive losing seasons is a tough row to hoe, but if smart management could help the Rays, it can help the Pirates.
Coming up next for the Pirates: the Brewers, who just got swept by the Reds. Pittsburgh has no chance of finishing the year above .500, but third place in the division is actually within reach with a hot September thanks to Milwaukee woes. But in any case, the Pirates beat the Phillies! Maybe in two years, we'll see a shift of power in Pennsylvania hardball shift westward. For now, the Pirates can celebrate a simple series win and keep re-building.
Thanks to those of you who joined in the fun during the liveglog today. Tell your friends! We take on all willing participants, even Cubs fans. See you tomorrow for your usual Friday faves. You too, squid baby. Same WoW channel.
The higher-ups at MLB have deigned to give us a whopping six afternoon games today to make up for yesterday's short schedule. In that case, I'll do a WHIPAROUND liveglog between 2PM EDT and 5PM EDT. Why whiparound? Because the Yankees are playing and I am going to whip my laptop around the room if A.J. Burnett gives up the farm.
Rangers at Yankees, 1:05PM: The aforementioned Burnett is struggling, y'all, but he won't have Jorge Posada to argue with on the mound today. Backup catcher and all-around dreamboat Jose Molina will squat behind the plate; the Rangers counter with the battery combo of Dustin Nippert (making his first career start in NYC) and Taylor Teagarden. Who ya got?
Mets at Marlins, 1:10PM: The parade of injuries continues for the Mets, folks. Things have gotten so bad that Tim Redding (1-4, 6.10 ERA) is like their #2 starter now. Florida is looking for the home sweep that will propel them back into the Wild Card conversation while the Mets are just looking to get Wilson Valdez some quality at-bats.
Reds at Brewers, 2:05PM: As if things couldn't get any worse for Milwaukeeans, the Brew Crew takes the field today to avoid a sweep at the hands of the lowly Reds. The Fightin' Dustys have been riding the hot bat and sexy glove of Scott Rolen who actually stole third base last night. Give it back, Scott! They need that thing today.
Astros at Cardinals, 2:15PM: It took Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle all the way until August 26th to eulogize the Astros. Dude, we did that five months ago! Anyway, burgeoning NL Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter looks to put the screws to Houston today. I expect no less than a two-hit shutout.
Nationals at Cubs, 2:20PM: Milton Bradley and the Cubbies look to avoid another Rodney King-esque beatdown at the hands of the Fightin' Adamdunns. Bradley is 5-for-8 with two dongs so far in the series and is finally doing his part to help the Cubs fight for fourth place in the NL Wild Card race.
Dodgers at Rockies, 3:10PM: Vicente Padilla makes his Dodger debut in Denver, dudes. This couldn't possibly go awry.
Friend of Walkoff Walk Larry Granillo from the delightful blog Wezen Ball was the guest writer today at Baseball Analysts, and penned a heavily-researched piece on the history of walkoffs. (Shh! Nobody tell Lesley Visser!) Read it if you have ten good minutes to spare, but if you want to learn a quick nugget, here's a quick portion of his intro:
But the home run is not the only way to earn a walk-off victory. For our purposes, we'll use the most liberal definition of a walk-off victory (WoV), which is "a run-scoring event in the bottom half of the last inning of the game that gives the home team a winning margin." This means that any event that causes a run (or runs) to cross the plate can be considered a "walk-off". Base hits, ground-rule doubles, bases loaded walks, steals of home, sacrifice flies, passed balls, wild pitches, errors, balks, and even interference can all lead to a WoV.
I thought it'd be interesting, then, to do a study of these non-home run walk-off events. When you start looking at the data, you find that there are a lot of questions that can be asked: if Ruth, Mantle, Robinson, et al are the leaders for home runs, who are the leaders for the other categories? Is it a certain type of hitter? And what kind of situation leads to the most WoV's? Are there any seasons where the WoV was abnormally frequent?
Most importantly, we learn that the all time leader in walkoff walks (between 1954 and 2008) is 1960's outfielder Ron Swoboda, who showed patience under fire a whopping four times. Other players who have accomplished the shrimptastic event three times: Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada, Gorman Thomas, and Darrell Porter. Royals pitcher John Wyatt must have been the Kenny Rogers of his day because he gave up a whopping five walkoff walks in his career. Yow!
Still, it's truly an act of kismet that the man who has recorded the most walkoff walks in history spent most of his career as a Met.
Famed songwriter of "Listen to What the Man Said" Paul McCartney took in a Yankees game last night with "Kids in the Hall" producer Lorne Michaels and Prizzi's Honor star Jack Nicholson. Paul took the opportunity to debut a new toupee...looking sharp, Macca! Also, note that Jack Nicholson is defying all sense of good taste and wearing a Tinky-Winky purple shirt. I can only hope that bright purple is not a fashion trend or else my girlfriend will make me wear it.
OR would you rather watch the Pirates take Cole Hamels and the Phillies out behind the woodshed? It's your prerogative.
We're about to hit a major milestone here at Walkoff Walk. Within the next week, we'll have hosted our 500,000th visitor! And only 485,000 of them have been spambots! But of course, we're not concerned about huge numbers here anyway. We just want a couple hundred devoted readers to ingest our words and not walk away with a bad taste in their collective mouth. So, thank you, especially those of you who reload on the page and click on certain things that lead to cash to cover hosting fees.
Consider the video above to be your amuse bouche for the day. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.
It's a very special day for fans of baseball and fans of new media! Courtesy of the Bronx Banter Blog we learn that on this date in 2002, the first video streaming coverage of a major league baseball game takes place on the internet. Approximately 30,000 fans visit MLB.com to see the Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3. In honor of this much-celebrated anniversary, there will be no liveglog today.
I'm kidding of course. There's no liveglog today because the games suck. Kidding, Tigers fans, kidding. But! I promise some hot whiparound coverage tomorrow. Here's the crap today:
Indians at Royals, 2:10PM: What are the chances that Luke Hochevar replicates Zack Greinke's record-setting 15 K performance today against Cleveland? Higher than you think, mostly because it's the same group of buffoons swinging at the high hard one. Still, even if Hochevar strikes out 27 batters, he'll probably still end up allowing 4 homers and the Royals will lose. Someone named David Huff starts for the Indians.
Tigers at Angels. 3:35PM: Edwin Jackson threw a complete game four-hitter against the Angels back in June. He'll look to build on that success today as the Tigers seek a sweep in Anaheim for the first time since nineteen dickety three. Hey, Detroit now has a larger lead in the AL Central than the Angels do in the AL West. My, how the pendulum is swinging back the other way!
On the heels of last night's stellar 15 strikeout performance (which wasn't even his best performance of the season), it's time for the newspaper-writin' voters to collude and ensure that Zack Greinke wins the AL Cy Young Award. Even if he spends September losing to the middling Twins and brooding and being all emo, this small market employee has shown mastery in 2009. He deserves the award based not just on merit but also on sympathies. Plus it would help Joe Posnanski sell books.
Zack's closest rivals have faded of late despite their presence on contending teams. Detroit's Justin Verlander went 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA in August. Boston's Josh Beckett has given up a whopping 10 home runs in his last three starts and seen his ERA increase by half a run. Seattle's Felix Hernandez lost to the Indians. Also fading despite his presence on a fourth place team: Roy Halladay, who faced only AL East rivals in August and posted a mediocre 4.50 ERA.
Greinke himself has earned only two wins since July 1st, but let's take a step back and realize that he's gotten just 30 runs of support from the Royals in ten starts, and that includes a twelve-run assault on the Oakland pitching staff. Give 1968 Bob Gibson just three runs of support a game and even he won't notch 20 wins. Zack has 197 strikeouts against 39 walks in 181 innings. This is really good, and his outstanding performance just does not show up in his middling 12-8 record.
But most importantly, a Cy Young win would provide an extra level of insurance that one day, Zack Greinke may be able to pull a Johnny Damon and escape the miasma that is Kansas City. He's tied to the town until 2012 after signing a four year, $38 million contract in January but will only be 29 when that deal expires, the same age as CC Sabathia when he got his "eff you money" deal with the Yankees.
With each Cy Young Award in his trophy case, Greinke's price goes up geometrically. And with every dollar that Greinke's price goes up, the Royals get played out of the picture a little itty bit more. Not that I have a problem with Kansas Citizens or Royals fans, but really, don't those fans want to see great players like Greinke succeed?
(picture purloined from Josh at With Leather, who dropped this awesome line today: "Most guys go five innings and they start looking into the dugout like some 9-year-old that got lost in a mall")
So the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided that yes, there will be some exciting division races this September. After seeing their lead dwindle over the last month, Los Angeles went headfirst into the den of thieves in Denver and promptly lost an extra-innings affair last night to reduce their NL West lead to two games. This film is on.
But don't think you're safe, Yankees/Angels/Phillies/Cardinals fans. I hear footsteps coming from every which direction, especially in the historical sense. Teams have blown far bigger leads far later in the season, so you better start getting modest and toning down your crazy magic number countdowns.
For history's sake, here then are the top five biggest late August-slash-September collapses in baseball history that were not committed by a Mets team. Because even we at Walkoff Walk will give a dead horse a proper burial from time to time:
1964 Philadelphia Phillies: Just two weeks before the season ended, the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead over the second place Cardinals. They then lost 10 straight games without the help of Brad Lidge (he hadn't even been born yet!) while the Cardinals and Reds ended up tying for first place. At least the Phillies didn't go and do something silly like print up World Series tickets.
1995 California Angels: I stole this one from Nate Silver's 2007 SI piece because frankly, I don't even remember the Angels being this good in '95. In the first year of Bud Selig's nefarious Wild Card invention, California held a 9.5 game division lead over the Rangers and a 12 game wild card lead over the Yanks as late as August 20th. A series of fortuitously awful bad luck colluded to make the Angels (and Rangers, as it were) miss the playoffs: the Yankees and Mariners each went 26-13 to finish the year while the Angels stumbled towards the finish line dragging a 12-26 record behind their bloated corpse. To add insult to injury, the M's topped the Angels in a one game playoff for the division title and Gary DiSarcina was deported back to Sicily.
1978 Boston Red Sox: Midway through August, the Sox had a tidy 9-game lead over the Yanks until New York rolled into town and treated Fenway Park like a toilet. Which is pretty much how 20,000 fans treat that joint on a nightly basis, but that's a story for a different day. The Yankees swept the Red Sox in a four game weekend series and used that as a springboard to take the division lead in September. Boston reeled off an eight-game winning streak to close out the year and force a one-game playoff, which, although it ended disappointingly, led to increased t-shirt sales.
1969 Chicago Cubs: Long considered the granddaddy of collapses, the '69 Cubs played September as if every single one of them were running on Ron Santo's post-2001 legs. The team went 8-17 after a black cat played Ron Santo out of the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium. You'd think something as cliche as a black freakin' cat wouldn't kill a group of pro ballplayers, but the Cubs' nine game division lead turned into an eight game deficit and the Mets went on to win the '69 series and become the greatest franchise in sports history.
1951 Brooklyn Dodgers: Sure, we all remember Bobby Thomson's famous tater tot heard 'round the world, but do you realize that on August 9th, the Dodgers came off a sweep over the Giants and held a 15 game lead in the loss column over their crosstown rivals? No matter, New York ran off a 16 game winning streak and whittled the Brooklyn lead to five games, after which Dodgers manager Charley Dressen was so disheartened, he lost his mind and had Don Newcombe executed for treason. More in-depth info here.
So be careful and always keep an eye on that rearview mirror, kids. You never know what motley crew of freaks is gaining on you and could be breathing down your neck in an instant.
DID you realize the Rockies are but three games behind the Dodgers as they start a three game tilt in Denver tonight? They were like 26 games back or something just two weeks ago.
SHOULD I even bother watching television until December, when this amazing television series smacks us all across the collective jaw with a broken pool cue?
Hey, remember when Walkoff Walk commenters used to congregate here at night and chit-chat about chicks and shit like that before everyone started re-tweeting each other's witticisms on the Twitter? Yeah, those days were fun. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.
"Absolutely, but I believe that's not up to me anymore. I've had my best years in San Francisco, I've had the most fun throughout my career in San Francisco. There's no doubt all my accomplishments, my passion and my heart was left in San Francisco."
Things that were not left in San Francisco by Jeff Kent:
Speaking of which, Kent addressed that incident back in 2002, when he claimed he broke his wrist while washing his truck but reports indicated that it had broken while falling off his motorcycle doing wheelies. Does he have any regrets about it?
"No I don't. I don't think anybody knows the real story. That's what's so comical to me ... It was spring training. Players don't get paid, the games don't mean anything. And that was one of my better years, too."
Late last night in Denver (note: anything after 11PM is considered late for me), Ryan "Steven" Spilborghs gave the Giants the red ass with his walkoff grand slam in the fourteenth inning. After GIDP'ing in the 10th with a runner in scoring position and misplaying an eventual Edgar Renteria triple that sparked a three run rally in the top half of the 14th, Spilborghs made amends by smacking a Merkin Valdez fastball deep into the Colorado night, putting the Rockies up four games in the Wild Card race over San Fran.
But despite the wacky undertakings of the fourteenth inning, we can put on our hindsight glasses and isolate a high leverage moment earlier in the game (read: when I was still awake). With his team up 1-0 in the fifth inning, Giants starter Barry Zito opened up the bottom of the inning by walking the leadoff hitter Ian Stewart, already Zito's third walk of the game. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba reached on a Juan Uribe error; Zito then recorded two outs on a Jason Marquis sac bunt and a Dexter Fowler grounder that got Stewart out at home.
Instead of ending the threat, Zito walked Clint Barmes on eight pitches despite putting him in the hole with an 0-2.count. With the bases loaded, Todd Helton watched three fastballs fly way over the strike zone and one slider dip away and the Rockies tied the game at one on the bases-loaded walk. The fifth inning saw Zito throw 27 pitches and just 14 of them for strikes. Look, I even generated one of them fanciful graphs that Drew uses all the time:
Look at all that green! Stop dancing around the zone, Barry! Walks'll kill ya!
Granted, this situation called for caution. Throwing meatballs at Todd Helton (5-for-16 career against Zito) will only get you sauced, so it's possible Zito made a smart move by not leaving anything down the pipeline and giving up four runs instead of one. Still, Clint Barmes (2-for-15 career against Zito) was the man who should have ended the inning, especially once Barry got ahead 0-2. Zito pitched one more inning and finished with the lopsided line score of 6 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 4 strikeouts and a whopping six walks.
Zito's walks rate has dropped from a ghastly 5.1 per nine innings last season to a more human 3.6 per nine innings this season. Still, if he had culled this rate by just one walk last night, Spilborghs would never have had a chance to play hero.
If you missed the Furious Five Radio Show last night, it's embedded below and available for download at iTunes (just search for Walkoff Walk). During the show, our guest D-Mac advocated crimes such as illegally downloading video games and making illegal wagers on the circus.
Please to enjoy:
We also talked about baseball, I swear.
The song at the end of the podcast is "Don't Mess With My Popeye's" as recorded by Fats Domino, available for download at WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Yes, I've already forgotten my vow to end every podcast with a Warren Zevon tune.
A Monday with two afternoon games? Aren't we the lucky boys and girls today!
Phillies at Mets, 1:05PM: Cliff Lee is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.82 ERA in his short National League career. Could win number five be set up any better than a getaway game in Citi Field against the hapless Mets? Methinks the Phils won't need any unassisted triple play goodness to win this series 3 games to 1. Converted reliever Bobby Parnell will look to give New York's taxed bullpen some innings after yesterday's starter Ollie Perez couldn't even get out of the first yesterday.
Brewers at Nationals, 4:35PM: The Brew Crew is supposed to be in a long stretch of games against poor opponents that would provide them with fodder for easy wins. With a loss to the Nats today, though, they'll find themselves four games under .500 and 6-10 in their last three weeks against the losertastic Astros, Padres, Nats, and Pirates. Kudos to the Milwaukee ownership for discounting tickets and encouraging superb attendance this year, but man, your team stinks.
John Danks gave up chewing tobacco and then went out and held the Orioles to one run over six innings. Maybe there isn't exactly a causal connection between the antecedent and the consequent in that course of events, but whoever said I needed to prove causality died of oral cancer, so stick it.
"I think it's something that it probably didn't help, but I'm over a month now without a dip, and it was something I wanted to do even before the finger problem," Danks said. "But definitely it's a battle for me to quit, but I feel like I'm past the worst, and it really is a big accomplishment for me to be able to quit."
In his preview for MLB.com, Jesse Temple suggests that "tobacco use can be known to have a hand in circulatory problems."
Wait a minute, does that mean that mechanically grinding shredded leaves of tobacco between my molars and cheeks to release nicotine into my entire circulatory system might actually be harmful to my health? I AM SO SURPRISED AT THIS PRESUMPTION AND DEMAND TO SEE PROOF. Oh, okay then.
I still firmly believe the head honchos at MLB need to ban chewing tobacco and dipping tobacco and deep-fried tobacco or whatever the kids are bringing to Turner Field nowadays. Dip and chaw are just as unhealthy as smoking cigs, and it's far more disturbing for the home viewer to watch David Ortiz spit out fetid black tobacco in HDTV than mere sunflower seeds.
Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.
American League Wild Card race: Truly this is a three horse race between the Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays. With the Yankees and Angels asserting their division dominance over the weekend, these three second-tier teams must focus on the wild card. The Rays took two of three from the Rangers over the weekend but Scott Feldman's short shutout yesterday kept Texas two games up on Tampa and still one behind Boston, who lost two of three to New York. Chicago and Seattle are both 7 and a half games out in this race and must focus on the AL Central race and the Sounders, respectively.
National League Wild Card race: The top four teams in the race paired off and battled this weekend; Colorado topped San Fran two games to one and Atlanta beat Florida by the same margin. This leaves the Rox three games up on the Giants with the Braves four back and the Marlins five back. Tim Lincecum dominated the Rox for five hitless innings yesterday before coming apart at the seams in the seventh, allowing a two-run tater tot to Seth Smith. Bruce Bochy's boys will line up again today against the Rockies to try and earn the series split and close within two games of the lead. Brian McCann led the Braves with 5 RBI yesterday to win the rubber match against Florida.
Mere moments after committing an error that led to a run and making one misplay that led to the tying run reaching base, Phillies second baseman Eric Bruntlett made history by converting just the fifteenth unassisted triple play in MLB history. It was also a 'walkoff' unassisted triple play. Evidence:
The best part about it? Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur was the victim of the historic feat and added to his FAILcoeur meme credentials.
There are three people in the world who say "Oh, my!" when they are surprised about something. CBS Sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, my 86-year-old grandmother, and Phillies' color commentator Sarge Matthews when he witnesses a coldcock knockdown in the Citi Field stands:
In Matthews' defense, my reaction to seeing that stunning punch was, "Heavens to Betsy!" and "Well darn my socks!". That belligerent Phillies fan sure struck a chord for Philadelphia domination, and he sure struck that dude's face.
Okay, spoiler alert: there's really no mystery and not a shred of murder intrigue here. A hopeful Mexican immigrant perished in the extreme Texas heat and just happened to drop dead on Chipper Jones' massive 10,000-acre ranch. After a ranch foreman stumbled upon the dead 22-year-old on the 83rd straight day of 100+ degree heat in South Texas, Chipper's dad Larry Senior phoned the police first and his son second.
But still, when the headline in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reads "Body found on Chipper Jones' ranch," there is a 100% chance that Walkoff Walk is going to jump to conclusions and assume Chipper finally crossed over from hunting deer with a bow-and-arrow to hunting humans with said device.
The ranch is nestled in the heart of the "Golden Triangle", a South Texas hunter's paradise... In 2004, the ranch was opened to a limited number of sportsmen for exceptional hunting and recreational opportunities...The Double Dime has a fully automated skeet range, a rifle range, and stocked tanks for fishing.
Yeah that sounds like a relaxing place to hang out.
If the top moment for fans so far this season at Citi Field has been Billy Wagner entering the game in the eighth inning of an eventual Mets loss that propelled the team to 14.5 games out of first place all while the opening riff of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blared over the P.A., then that is a sad statement about the Mets' 2009. Perhaps they should knock down Citi Field and just rebuild Shea.
And if I were Billy Wagner, I'd have changed my entrance tune when I became a Met in deference to the rival closer across town who just happens to be the best and classiest guy in the business. But I doubt Billy Wagner knows what "a deference" is.
Chipper Jones and Mets fans have always had a love-hate relationship. Chipper loved to visit old Shea Stadium and smack some taters (so much that he named his kid Shea yadda yadda yadd), and Mets fans hated when Chip and the Braves smacked their rear ends in the division race every year.
Well now, the Mets play in CitiField and Shea Stadium is nothing more than blacktop and bad memories. So, what does Chipper feel now about the cold reception he gets from the Mets faithful? Jack Curry of the New York Times investigates:
"I just feel like they know that, over the years, I'm a pretty good dude," Jones said. "I'm not out to hurt anybody's feelings or anything like that. My job is to come out and beat the Mets 18 times a year."
I kind of wish that was in my job description, too. Sounds fun. And easy!
What about when the Mets fans boo you, Chip?
"Now I kind of smile," Jones said. "Ten years ago, I would've fuzzed up."
"I think if I were to come here and ever get cheered, you might see a young man have a premature heart attack," Jones said.
Ol' Chip, the only way you'll ever get cheered at CitiField is if you put on your camo gear, set Mike Lupica loose in the outfield, and hunt him like the cowardly animal he is. Heck, I'd pay 200 bucks to see that. Someone give that idea to the Wilpons. That'll help raise some fundage.
If I bet you $1000 to dash across the Camden Yards outfield, touch the Southwest Airlines ad on the left-centerfield wall, and hustle your buns back before the cops nabbed your criminally-trespassing ass, do you think you could do me a favor and scare the crap out of Juan Rivera on the way? Okay, thanks.
A day after the schedule-makers in the MLB offices granted us just one afternoon game, they've deigned to reward us with two today. Wow. Thanks, schedule-makers. You couldn't move up the Arizona-Philadelphia affair to 1PM so the Diamondbacks could get an earlier post-game flight to Houston? No businessperson's special in Toronto for the Red Sox-Blue Jays tilt?
Giants at Reds, 12:35PM: Last night, the Giants recorded their 20th shutout of the year. At this pace, they'll set the San Francisco franchise record for most blankings in a season which, if you think about it, is really a remarkable stat. For a Giants team in 2009 to hold more squads scoreless than all those awesome pre-expansion 1960s teams with Juan Marichal? Stunning. They'll probably get another one today with Matt Cain taking the mound against the hapless Reds.
Mariners at Tigers, 1:05PM: If, back in April, you thought this mid-week series would be such a delight and so important in the playoff push, I'll send you a cookie. Jarrod Washburn climbs the hill today against his former employer to try and help Dee-troit take the rubber match. Aussie southpaw Ryan Rowland-Smith looks to build on a five-inning, one-run start he recorded last year against the Tigers. Expect to see Bill Hall make his Mariner debut at third base to replace Adrian Beltre and his damaged jimmy.
Willy Taveras was cut loose by the Rockies after a disappointing 2008 season and immediately snapped up by the Reds to for a tidy $6.25 million contract. After Corey Patterson left Cincy, Dusty Baker obviously needed an unproductive center fielder who doesn't hustle or hit his weight to fill his place. Taveras fits the role to a T. He's also Dominican and enjoys his salsa music a bit too much. Just ask Reds beat writer Hal McCoy:
Taveras doesn't get on base. When he does he doesn't steal when it is needed. He was brought in to be a leadoff hitter and couldn't do it and is now batting second. And he is below average in the field. What can Taveras do? He has a nice stereo set in the clubhouse that plays loud, headache-inducing salsa music.
And holy cahooties. Taveras just hit a ground ball to the mound and trotted toward first base. Didn't run. Jogged. Stopped before he got to the bag. Manager Dusty Baker immediately yanked him from the lineup, replacing him with Laynce Nix.
The Reds later announced that Taveras has a strained right quadriceps muscle. I don't question the injury, but it was awfully convenient.
As far as I'm concerned, and many other fans are concerned, Taveras can rot on the bench the rest of the season. I've seen nothing to merit the millions the Reds have flushed down the toilet when they brought this guy in.
Taveras' on-base percentages over the past three years: .367 in 2007 (good!) .308 in 2008 (uhh) .273 in 2009 (holy crap). He's never approached league average in OPS and has made 11 errors to go along with his 13 outfield assists over the past two seasons. UZR rates him as merely average over the past three seasons.
Maybe the Reds signed Willy because fella stole 68 bases at a 90% clip last season. But for a leadoff hitter who draws a walk about three times a month, the potential for him to steal a base are about the same as the chances we go a day without poking fun at the Mets.
But worst of all, Taveras' salsa music is just too loud for the 92-year-old McCoy's tender eardrums. Holy cahooties, indeed.
Courtesy of reader phillas comes this screencap of last night's Yankees-A's tilt out in Oakland. I'm thrilled that the camera caught me in the stands meeting up with my girlfriend and her dad, a diehard A's fan. We got along great even though my Yanks toppled his team 3-2 behind yet another Mark Teixeira tater tot.
And if you're wondering why I don't have more hilarious content for you today, it's because I locked myself in my pantry last night until I finished writing this guest piece at Baseball Analysts.
Ever since general manager extraordinaire Jim Bowden got shitcanned by the Washington Nationals, the team has been a rudderless ship floating haphazardly through the morass of Adam Dunn base-clogging, poor pitching, and children frightened by Screech. Or has it? Interim G.M. Mike Rizzo oversaw the Nyjer Morgan trade, witnessed an actual eight-game winning streak, and was the figurehead who got the praise when the team signed top draft pick Stephen Strasburg at the last minute. Sounds like a good enough resume to keep the job.
The Nationals appear to have chosen Diamondbacks executive Jerry DiPoto as their new general manager.
DiPoto has told friends in Arizona that he plans to accept the job, which opened when Jim Bowden resigned under pressure this spring. Mike Rizzo has been serving as acting general manager, and Rizzo was one of three final candidates for the job, along with DiPoto and Red Sox assistant Jed Hoyer, according to sources.
"[DiPoto] will be a heck of a pick, but what hasn't [Rizzo] done to earn the opportunity to stay?" said one National League executive who knows both men.
Not enough Jersey credibility, anonymous executive! My paisan DiPoto from Toms River, Jersey is in charge now! Fella spent eight years in the majors, pitching for the Indians just before they started playing well, and then the Mets and Rockies before becoming a scout for the Red Sox. He was a candidate for the Mariners GM job last year but can't be too disappointed inheriting an even worse team in the Nationals. Hey, get them to 70 wins within two years and it's a total success!
New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon lost hundreds of millions of dollars when Bernie Madoff's super-awesome investment firm proved to be nothing more than a bundle of twenties stuffed in a shoebox underneath Bernie's twenty-four carat gold bed. But there was no way that Wilpon's empty pockets could possibly affect the Mets in a negative way, right? Via Metsblog presented by Verizon:
According to Baseball America, the Mets spent the least amount of money on top draft picks of any team in the major leagues, totaling $1.9 million on seven players.
In terms of team's from the NL East, the Nationals spent the most, followed by the Marlins, Braves, Phillies and Mets.
Oh, whoops. Looks like the cupboard is bare, fellas. Wilpon couldn't scrape together a few more sheckels from underneath his couch cushions to reward his newest class of young Mets? To put their spending in perspective, their crosstown rival Yankees spent $4.7 million on their top eight players. The Mets should be positively printing money what with their brand new palatial Dodgers Hall of Fame stadium, but instead, they've been cautious with their cash, failing to make a deadline deal and cutting costs by not maintaining their physical plant.
In all fairness (yeah when are we ever fair to the Mets?), the Mets didn't have a true first round draft pick because they traded it away to the Dodgers for some magic beans. They drafted local boy Steven Matz at the end of the second round and locked him down for just under $900,000 which is totally first round money.
Jamie Moyer played the role of long reliever last night to near perfection. After starter Pedro Martinez was pulled from the game due to a pesky hourlong rain delay in the fourth, Uncle Cholly called on his newest bullpen dude to take over dominating the light-hitting Diamondbacks. Old Man Moyer ended up finishing the game, throwing six innings, striking out five, and allowing but two hits (the same number of hits he himself collected at the plate).
But hey, Green Man's appearance can only mean one thing: less than one month until a new "Sunny"! The dudes on the MLB Network were confused by this creature when they showed the highlights of Carlos Ruiz' tater tot; Greg Amsinger thought it was co-host Mitch Williams. Matt Vasgersian called him "Super Sloppy Double Dare Guy". Way to be completely outside the sphere of pop culture, Matt!
UPDATE: Via Glenn Howerton and ajc308 comes this vidcap of the nonsense that ensued in the MLB Network studios:
And I'm spent. Thanks for joining Walkoff Walk today in our adventures around the baseballblogosphere. I still mean what I said in last night's podcast, that I hate sports blogs, but I do not hate our readers/commenters one bit. You guys are the lifeblood of WoW. You too, Whiskey Cat. You deserve a massage.
Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers are totally partying like it's 1999, y'all! We don't usually post the wholphin for backup catcher trades, but today, Texas made a trade with intrastate rival team the Houston Astros to bring catcher Ivan Rodriguez back into the fold. Pudge was last seen in a Texas uni back in 2001 and was a member of the team during the go-go nineties, when the Rangers made their only three playoff appearances (and lost all three to the Yankees...foreshadowing?!?)
Rodriguez will back up Taylor Teagarden, who has started while Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been on the disabled list.
The Rangers are responsible for a prorated part of the $1.5 million, one-year contract, which includes $1.5 million in incentives, that Rodriguez signed with the Astros in March, according to the Dallas Morning News.
There is a phenomenon in the animal world, particularly among dogs and elephants (of all things) where when they know they are going to die, they run away.
It is as though they want to spare others the trauma of seeing them die, so they just amble off to find a place to do it peacefully and quietly.
For a dog it might be a patch of woods or near an abandoned building. For an elephant it's probably anywhere south of the monkey cages.
For the Cubs? It was San Diego. If you can't do it in Pissburgh where nobody will notice, you do it in San Diego where next to nobody will.
It's sad, as Andy points out, since the Cubs and Cardinals were tied for first place in the NL Central just ten games ago and now sit a full six games behind St. Louis. It's not an epic collapse like the 1969 season when the Cubs blew an 8.5 game August lead to finish 8 games behind the Miracle Mets, and it's not like the time Ron Santo was leading diabetes by 5 games at age sixty and ended up having both legs amputated. But still, it's Chicago and it's a collapse, so we break out our schadenfreude hats.
The Twins are thinking so far outside the box signing international amateurs that they've hopped the pond and are about to throw $800,000 at a 16-year-old German kid named Max Kepler-Rozycki. He's a 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder that some scouts are calling the next Shawn Green, except with a foreskin.
But the reason the Twins are betting long on a kid who is still two years away from his high school graduation is another pair of attributes scouts talk about, both inherited from his parents, former Berlin ballet stars. The first is genetics. Two athletes usually beget talented kids. The left-handed Max is so naturally coordinated he can hit a golf ball 250 yards--right-handed.
The Twins, really, are renting the intensity, passion and ambition that drive European high culture in a heady place like Berlin and hoping to convert those qualities into base hits.
That might be the worst sentence ever written in the English language. "Renting the intensity"? What's the hourly rate on ambition? And what is the conversion rate for passion to base hits? Is that like converting Fahrenheit to Celsius?
Obviously, the Twins are looking to exploit a burgeoning German market that is desperate to embrace the American pastime and spend their Euros on Justin Morneau jerseys instead of currywurst sandwiches and shitty electronic house music. And okay, maybe Max never actually took ballet lessons but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do a lazy Photoshop.
Sometime just before the stroke of midnight, when San Diego State superstar stud Stephen Strasburg was about to turn into a pumpkin, the Washington Nationals pushed forth an offer decent enough to make Scott Boras fold like a cheap prayer mat. Yep, Strasburg's a Nat:
As was everyone's prediction, the 21-year-old righty from San Diego State inked the richest deal in MLB amateur draft history, nabbing $15.1 million over four years.
Wait, that's it? Just $15 million for the kid who has never issued more than two walks in a single start? Only $15 million for a guy who went 13-1 with a microscopic 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched last season? Merely $15 million for a guy whose agent initially asked for $50 million over six years? Strasburg got scammed!
Yeah, $15 million is a new record, surpassing Mark Prior's first contract by 50%. And yes, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect and you have to take risk into account and Strasburg may never even set foot on the mound at Nationals Park in an actual MLB game (which, if you think about it, sounds good to me).
But this low price seems to be either a result of teams controlling costs in the Xtreme Depression, a result of dumb Rob Dibble's stupid blatherings, or, more likely, an effort by Scott Boras to get the deal done at any price and prevent embarrassment for him and his client. I predicted a $20 million deal for Strasburg. Obviously, the Nats saved that extra $5 million to hire a new scoreboard operator.
That prompts two questions: who had more to lose if this deal didn't get done, Boras or Nats owner Stan Kasten? And if the two parties spent the last 60 days with their dicks in their hand and didn't consummate the deal until the last five minutes before the deadline to get the deal done, why not make the deadline for signing five minutes after the draft is over?
Last night, Wrigleyworld author Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew fame joined me and Drew on the ol' podcast. We learned that Drew's one-track mind is so narrowly focused on the Blue Jays that he wrote to the team about lowering the outfield walls in the Rogers Centre so he can lean over and stroke Vernon Wells' luscious locks.
Other topics of discussion included Derek Jeter's shortstop hits record and why it's the greatest record in the history of humankind, and banning beer at baseball stadiums on a permanent basis.
The awesome live Warren Zevon tune at the end was his cover of the Leonard Cohen song "First We Take Manhattan", recorded at Cleveland's Empire Concert Club in January 1992 and available for download at the Internet Archive. In fact, from this point forward, every WoW radio show will end with a Zevon tune. Objections?
Hooray, it's deadline day for #1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals to come to terms! It's like Christmas morning, except without presents under the tree or any joy and excitement whatsoever. Let's put it this way: either Strasburg signs a zillion dollar contract and folks start bemoaning agent Scott Boras' greedy ways, or Strasburg doesn't sign, the Nats lose their rights to the stud pitcher and folks start bemoaning agent Scott Boras' greedy ways. Or the kid just goes to Japan. Either way.
The Nats have already made a record-setting offer to Strasburg, somewhere north of the $10.5 million that Mark Prior got way back in 2001, probably around $15 million. But word on the streets is that Boras and Strasburg want to blow that offer out of the water, more than $20 million, or about 4 million of Joe D's Mr. Coffee rebate coupons.
The sticking point probably isn't even the money, or the contract length. It's about a baseball team trying to please their paying fans and a sports agent trying very hard to please his paying clients. Yes, it's not just about the Nats fans and Stephen Strasburg. This extends to ALL baseball fans and ALL of Boras' clients. You see, if the Nats get Strasburg for a reasonable price, Herr Selig and his cabal of owners will claim victory. If Boras breaks the bank, his appeal will skyrocket to future clients.
Both parties are going to bend but only one is going to break. The deadline is in 10 and a half hours. I'd warn you to get ready for fun and excitement, but this one's probably going to end in a fizzle. Not unlike the typical Nats season come June.
Because during yesterday's Red Sox-Rangers tilt, he managed to snag two foul balls off the bat of Josh Hamilton in the same at-bat, just three pitches apart. The probability of something like this happening? About 1-in-250,000, but the chances drop when fans are wearing their Jeff Francoeur endorsed Rawlings mitts.
Mets third baseman David Wright doesn't remember his former teammate Ryan Church's struggles coming back from a concussion last year. Of course not, because Wright got beaned by a 94 MPH Matt Cain heater and is now suffering through his own concussion-like symptoms now. Fella doesn't even recognize the names in yesterday's Mets lineup, probably because they're all third-stringers, has-beens, and never-will-bes.
But when Church suffered through his concussions last year, the team was not cautious to allow Church to heal completely. They brought him back too soon from two (2!) different concussions and Church's production suffered as a result. They're being more careful with Wright this year, placing him on the 15 day D.L. and probably keeping him out for the rest of the year. It's easy this year, you see, because the Mets are like 38 games out of first place.
But no worries, future victims of Matt Cain's 94 MPH head-seeking fastball! The nerdy scientists have invented a new kind of helmet that can withstand up to 100 MPH of speedy hardcore pitch action without any negative effects, like concussions or memory loss that prevents you from remembering the last time the Mets had their shit together. And the players are absolutely enthused about the new helmet style, right, Frenchie?
"No, I am absolutely not wearing that," Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said with a laugh after seeing a prototype, as if he were being asked to put a pumpkin on his head. "I could care less what they say, I'm not wearing it. There's got to be a way to have a more protective helmet without all that padding. It's brutal. We're going to look like a bunch of clowns out there."
Okay, so I cherry-picked a quote from a story that was published days before Wright got plunked to make Francoeur look silly. But at least David Wright's own quote foreshadowed his noggin's untimely demise:
"If it provides more protection, then I'm all for it," said Mets third baseman David Wright, who last week dodged a Brad Thompson fastball traveling on a frightening vector toward his head. "I'm not worried about style or looking good out there. I'm worried about keeping my melon protected."
We can only hope that Major League Baseball forces its players to wear this new-fangled helmet as soon as possible, if only to protect other folks' melons from splattering their juicy goodness all over home plate.
Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings ever so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.
American League Wild Card: Texas closer Frank Francisco carried around the fate of the Rangers in his pocket like so many nickels and dimes. On Friday night, big fella single-handedly opened the floodgates and let in six Red Sox runs in the ninth to blow the save and give up the game, pushing Texas back to 1.5 back in the race. On Sunday afternoon, Frankie shut down Ellsbury, Pedroia, and V-Mart for the save and the rubber game win that thrusted the Rangers into the Wild Card lead by a mere 0.5 games. Fifty-two-year-old Gregg Zaun smacked a tetra tot yesterday that helped Tampa take the last two of three against Toronto and keep pace, 3.5 games behind Texas.
National League Wild Card: The Marlins took two of three from the Wild Card leading Rockies this weekend and now sit just 2 games out. Meanwhile, the Giants can concuss all the Mets superstars they want but if they don't actually win some games against losing teams like New York, they won't make up ground. Chicago picked up a game and a half by toppling the Pirates and are now tied with the Braves, 3.5 games out.
Thank goodness for the Wild Card, bitches, because the division races are beginning to resemble your sister on junior prom night: a sure thing. Besides the White Sox, no second place teams are within 4 games of first place. I'd give credit to Bud Selig for instituting the six-division system that gave birth to the Wild Card, but then I'd have to ignore all his many, many career missteps and mistakes. Like this fashion faux pas. I digress. Wild Card, bitches.
That's a wrap on the second week of August, folks, and what a week it was for people getting hit by foreign objects. Just ask Rick Porcello, Shane Victorino, or Adrian Beltre. Be careful out there, you never know what's around the next corner.
Your nationally televised weekend games include a trio of FOX games tomorrow at 4PM: Giants at Mets, Indians at Twins, and Phillies at Braves. Then, tune in at 8PM for Red Sox at Rangers on MLB Network, and once again on Sunday afternoon at 2PM on TBS. Finally, the Phillies and Braves will tussle again on ESPN at 8PM Sunday night. Stop all your complaining about East Coast bias. The Rangers are totally in Mexico or something.
Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio never met a coffee maker he didn't like. Obviously, because he did about 392 different commercials for Mr. Coffee including the one above in 1978. Did you know that Joltin' Joe was singlehandedly responsible for giving out those $5 rebate coupons and it was legally required that all pretty girls give him a smooch in gratitude for his charitable ways? Look at all those cackling hausfraus sucking down the java like it was the nectar of the baseball gods!
Other interesting fact: if you serve me from a Mr. Coffee machine, I will bash you over the head with the glass carafe.
Our pal Drew leads off this week's edition of "What's Up, Creampuff" because he went to a bachelor party last weekend and recapped it on Ghostrunner with the following excerpt:
Fast forward XXXX hours: I awake in the hallway of our hotel. On the 16th floor. A room attendant stands over me.
"Where is your room?" He asks sweetly.
Obviously, Drew was lying prone in a hotel hallway because he was raped by a wallaby. END MARSUPIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT NOW. I'll let the man himself run down your other 'puffs:
It is true. I was a victim of sans-consent pouch sex. And I'm not even half the Creampuff of most of these dudes. Two weeks worth!
Justin Upton, Snakes: One of the best young players in baseball, felled by the most common and benign sounding injury of the year. THE Justin Upton is down with an oblique but figures to make his triumphant return after two weeks. Mark Reynolds tater tear during Upton's absence also made a Creampuff out of the "lineup protection" school of thought.
Scott Schoeneweis, Snakes: Sadly, Schoeneweis is suffering from depression stemming from the death of his young wife. Tragic stuff, I'll choose to recall a much headier time in Scott's life. During his excellent 2005 season with the Blue Jays, I sat behind the bullpen and observed Schoenweis strut past a seated starter who chose to spend the game in the bullpen. Schoeneweis performed a strange, exaggerated walk; paused; and farted directly in the face of his teammate. Hurry back Scott.
Rocco Baldelli, Red Sox: Not a bad year for Rocco, all things considered. Only his second trip to the deel in '09. His Socks are 3-5 without him, a true indication of Rocco's worth. Shockingly, it isn't Rocco's cells or plasma that have him sitting out, it is a bruised ankle suffered fouling a ball of his foot in batting practice. That is the true Creampuff we know and love.
Gary Sheffield, Mets: Sheffield missed 6 games with an aggravated hamstring injury. How can one tell if any of Gary's parts are more aggravated than the rest. He came back only to be hit on the arm. Gary is now day-to-day with teeth ground to mush.
Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriquez, Yankees: Posada took numerous foul tips and errant throws to his stubby, misshapen fingers. Alex Rodriquez took a pitch in his giant elbow pad. Posada will only miss one game while A-Rod will miss two. The lesson here: don't be a catcher.
Evan Meek, Pirates: Meek is out with an oh-bleek. The right hander experienced discomfort for several days after sustaining the injury. If the pain doesn't subside he will travel to Whoville for a visit with rhyming injury specialist Dr. James Seuss.
Jack Wilson, Mariners: The M's shortstop of the future the time being left Wednesday's game after suffering an injury attempting to make a diving catch. He's day-to-day for now but is expected to make a speedy recovery, buoyed by the news that he's not Adrian Beltre.
Rich Aurilia, Giants: Just days after returning from a crushing case of "you aren't good Rich" the Giants veteran is sent to the DL once again. This time he's caught "nope you still suck old man." The official cause of forced retirement is left ankle tendinitis but the roster manipulation says otherwise. Aurilia complained of "being achy" though he's confident he'll "be activated when...eligible." Don't hold on to hope too tightly Rich, you're liable to strain a oblique.
The dastardly Wrigley fella who threw a beer at Shane Victorino has turned himself in and will face charges of battery. Johnny Macchione, a 21-year-old suburban Chicago resident, will be charged with a misdemeanor and faced the press after leaving court last night. Hey, he's all contrite, unlike that villain Michael Vick!
The transcript for you folks still using Netscape Navigator 1.2:
"It was a big mistake. I'd like to apologize to Shane Victorino," Macchione said after bonding out of a police lockup tonight, referring to the Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder he doused Wednesday night. "It really is nothing against him. It was a mistake like I said.
"The Chicago Cubs -- I'm sorry I disgraced you, the fans of the Cubs, myself, my family. And that's all. The courts will handle itself."
Uh, Johnny, a 'mistake' is when you stand up to cheer and accidentally knock your precariously-perched beer onto the field below you. But throwing a beer onto a poor, innocent Hawaiian athlete? That's just your drunk ass being criminally dumb.
Pity creampuff'd Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre! Just a few days after returning from rehabbing his injured shoulder, fella is headed back to the DL with a cringe-inducing injury. Kaz Matsui sympathizes:
Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre might miss the rest of the season after taking a hard one-hopper to his groin off the bat of a White Sox player Thursday night.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said the Gold Glove third baseman is out indefinitely, and might need surgery because of bleeding in a testicle. Beltre does not wear a protective cup because he says it's uncomfortable.
Yes, wearing a cup is uncomfortable. But wearing a cup 162 times a year for 20 straight years cannot possibly compare to the discomfort caused WHEN YOU TAKE A LINE DRIVE TO THE POUCH.
Still, kudos to Beltre for actually staying in the game after the injury and playing all 14 frames with a fractured nut. Protect your goody bag, kids.
DID I just meld the normal Thursday linkpunch and Tonight's Questions? Yes!
There are only three games on the sked tonight; if you've got MLB Network, you can catch the Astros-Marlins jam at 7PM. Otherwise, we'll see you tomorrow with all your Friday favorites. Same WoW channel.
Things is about to get litigious in the Shane Victorino golden showers incident from last night. As per ESPN:
The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino have filed complaints with the Chicago Police Department over the beer-throwing incident on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, according to Cubs chairman Crane Kenney.
The Cubs will work with the CPD in pursuing the individual who threw the beer and will press charges. The Cubs are utilizing all of their resources, including video tape of the incident.
Good move, Cubs. That jerkoff committed a flagrant crime and deserves to be penalized to the fullest extent of the law. I hope he's banned from Wrigley Field for life and forced to launder Shane Victorino's undergarments for the next five seasons.
In light of the incident, our pal 'Duk wants Wrigley Field to get to the root of the problem, get rid of beer sales and host some dry games for a while:
However, I need to stress that I'm not calling for a Wrigleyville Prohibition simply based on this one incident. It comes after a series of events including Bobby Howry being challenged to a fight on the mound, Jacque Jones'(notes) head turned into a target for a baseball and more trash showers from the bleachers than I can count. Philly fans wondering why Chicago fans haven't been affixed with a similar troublemaker stereotype have every right to ponder because you can basically fill an entire rap sheet with Wrigley Field transgressions from the past decade.
Great point, 'Duk. But I say take it a step further and give every baseball fan a taste of what it's like to have a dry game: once a season, beer should be banned at every single ballpark on the same day. It'll be Prohibition Day, and folks'll dress up in the style of the 1920's with bowler hats and tailcoats and flapper skirts, curse out that cad Hoover, and dance the Charleston during the seventh inning stretch. Just don't make it the same day as the next Walkoff Walk Field Trip.
I may never get the "Prohibition Day" movement rolling, but at least I accomplished something today. Thanks to my incessant tweeting, I'm pretty sure Braves organist Matthew Kaminski will be playing "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer On the Wall" when Victorino comes to bat at Turner Field tomorrow night:
All games are Eastern Daylight Time, except the Pirates/Rockies tilt which is occurring in an alternate dimension where space and time have ceased to exist:
Rangers at Indians, 12:05PM: Cleveland has a tidy 14-7 record since July 21st. Maybe if they'd played baseball at such a high level since April, my prediction that they'd win the Central wouldn't look so ridiculous. The Rangers need to win this rubber game to stay close in the Wild Card race and do so by asking Scott "Don't Call Me Josh" Feldman to throw a gem.
Royals at Twins, 1:10PM: The Twins rotation is so bad this month that they had to trade for Carl Pavano to be their ace. Carl pitched a short shutout over the Tigers last week in his Twinkie debut; without Pavano, Minnesoter starters are 3-6 with a 6.99 ERA this month. Hey Gardy, I heard Sid Ponson is available if you need an anchor in that rotation.
Tigers at Red Sox, 1:35PM: Which is more of a crime: that the Red Sox are about to complete a season sweep of the Tigers or that the two teams only faced each other seven times this year? Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander will try to prevent the Tiger oh-fer while Clay Buchholz looks for his first win in a month.
Padres at Brewers, 2:05PM: Things have gotten so bad for the Brew Crew that yesterday has been dubbed "Black Wednesday" thanks to the dismissal of hitting coach Bill Castro, the demotion of shortstop J.J. Hardy and the outright release of third baseman Bill Hall. If the Padres complete the sweep today, look for Bernie Brewer to be forced to enter AA. Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra looks for his fifth win since the All Star break.
At least that's what Sam Mellinger thinks. In a column today where he pretty much blames the strike of '94 for ruining the once-successful Royals franchise (and incorrectly makes the argument that a salary cap would have helped out the team), Mellinger says this:
Persistent losing appears to have changed that. (David Glass) is now operating like successful team owners, by committing more money, by hiring the best people he can and letting them run the baseball team.
But the Royals are no longer viewed as an industrywide joke; the punchlines mostly stopping when Moore was hired and baseball insiders started noticing a renewed commitment to scouting and player development.
The Royals spent more on last year's draft picks than any team in baseball history. This year's big-league payroll, $70.6 million on opening day, was a club record.
Their focus on rebuilding the organization from the inside is a reflection of that, too. A record $11 million on last year's draft picks is the clearest recognition that the Royals must get back to the days when their farm system produced (George) Brett, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Cone, Willie Wilson, Dan Quisenberry and more.
Yes, that is exactly the best way to resurrect a team that has suffered through one of the losingest decades in history, by throwing more money at the problem. This comes on the heels of years of Royals fans complaining about said salary cap and how their small-market team cannot compete with the big boys in New York and Boston.
Well, the 2008 Rays invalidated that argument. You can succeed with a low payroll team if you run it wisely from the ground floor up, which is exactly what the Royals didn't do. Not only did the team cut the major league payroll after the strike, they cut the funding for signing draft picks and forced their minor league teams to sew their own uniforms.
But now, hey, David Glass isn't going to slash prices anymore, he's going to spend his way to a better franchise! So, put away your Royals joke book. That one about a Jew, a nun, and Hal McRae walking into a bar just doesn't make me laugh anymore.
During yesterday afternoon's Giants-Dodgers tilt, Tim Lincecum was cruising through eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball and entered the final frame having thrown 103 pitches. Tim has topped 120 pitches only twice this season so if he got into any trouble in the ninth, I wouldn't have been surprised to see him pulled in favor of closer Brian Wilson.
Thanks to a blown call by umpire Gary Darling, though, Lincecum did get in trouble. With one out, Darling called Rafael Furcal safe at first on an apparent infield single. Lincecum was visibly irked and could be seen muttering expletives into his glove on the mound. Fella ended up allowing a 415 foot fly out to deep center field by Russell Martin that went so deep, it allowed Furcal to tag up to second base.
This was certainly time for Giants manager Bruce Bochy to pull Lincecum; he had reached 116 pitches, was flummoxed by a bad call, and nearly gave up the farm on a long fly.
But Bruce Bochy was nowhere to be found. The big Frenchman had been ejected in the first inning for arguing what he thought was a bad call by first base umpire Gary Darling on a pickoff attempt of Manny Ramirez. But replay showed that Manny slid under the tag and Bochy was basically arguing for arguments sake; it's almost like he wanted to watch Lincecum's start from a comfy chair in the clubhouse.
No matter, bench coach Ron Wotus knows the score and would take over control of the game for San Fran. And he did. Right until he got ejected too, for arguing an incorrect call in the ninth inning, this one on that infield single by Furcal that proved to be Lincecum's breaking point. Third base coach Tim Flannery took over at that point and deserves the blame for not pulling Lincecum after the kid gave up the long fly out.
Tim Lincecum is a good kid and a real talented pitcher, but sometimes, even the Freak needs to be pulled in favor of the team's chosen closer, especially when Tim's pitch count starts entering abuse territory. Yes, Brian Wilson has blown a game a month this season but he's also recorded 28 saves and had a fresh arm with a tidy fastball. Surely, my tut-tut hindsight is aided somewhat by the fact that Lincecum gave up the game-tying single to Andre Ethier four pitches after the Martin fly out, but I'm not here to fix history.
I'm here to tell Bruce Bochy to keep his charges in line and know when to keep the starter in and when to pull him. And I'm here to tell Ron Wotus to take a chill pill and realize that baseball coaches do not have little red flags that allow them to call for instant replay. Sometimes, it's better to send Dave Righetti out to the mound to calm your flustered ace.
Just as Pedro Martinez was escaping a jam as the Phillies cruised to a 12-3 fifth inning lead, some jamook in Chicago decided that throwing his beer at center fielder Shane Victorino as he tried to field a fly ball would be just hilarious. It wasn't. It was dangerous, stupid, and downright criminal. I hope said jamook is banned from Wrigley Field for life and arrested for 'assault with a watery Old Style'.
I have to apologize, though, for my haste in Tweeting a picture of this poor pudgy chap, whom ESPN fingered for tossing the beer:
Turns out he wasn't the perp. My boys in Philly were watching on Comcast and said it was some skinny dude in the front row who committed the grave violation of the Fan Code. Sorry, Chubs!
If it's a Wednesday, it's time for a liveglog! That is, unless I flake out and leave you hanging. Today, I will give you Whiparound Coverage from 3PM EDT to 5PM EDT. Why whiparound? Because my XM radio dial is broken and cannot stay on one station for longer than 7 minutes at a time. Since it's hot hot hot out, stow away the blazer and put on your Official Liveglog polo shirts. Here is your daytime schedule:
Blue Jays at Yankees, 1:05PM: You might not be able to afford A.J. Burnett anymore, Toronto, but who cares when you're paying Ricky Romero mere pennies on the dollar? Both gents are 10-5 and both gents have nearly equal ERAs (Burnett 3.67, Romero 3.66). This isn't just a rubber match of teams: it's a rubber match of dudes with equal records, one lefty, one righty, one grizzled, one bright-eyed, one with horrendous tattoos covering 93% of his body, and one whose name reminds me of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Athletics at Orioles, 1:35PM: Oakland rookie starter Vin Mazzaro ended a 0-8 streak with a 7.72 ERA in 10 starts by beating the Royals last week. He'll try to keep up his new winning streak by toppling the offensively slumping Orioles. This is far easier than it sounds.
Rays at Angels, 3:35PM: Looks like former Angels closer and former Rays closer Troy Percival is hanging up his spikes for good, y'all. Fella is 8th on the all time closer list with 358 saves and was quite the cog in the Rayspocalypse last year. The Angels will tribute him in today's game by lowballing a contract offer then pushing him out the door.
Mets at Diamondbacks, 3:40PM: With a Diamonbacks win today, they will sweep the Mets and actually have a better record than the sadsack NL East team I actually predicted would trade for Roy Halladay and win the division two weeks ago. Shame on me. Get ready for a ton of walks at the hands of Oliver Perez.
Dodgers at Giants, 3:45PM: If we didn't have so much consarn East Coast bias here at Walkoff Walk, I might have gotten more excited about this series. The Dodgers are on the verge of sweeping their most hated rivals but not if Tim Lincecum has any say in the matter. Actually, it doesn't matter what Lincecum says. He just needs to pitch well.
Perhaps it was destined to be this way for the old crafty pitcher, back in the same building he started his career, finally facing the grim specter of death in the form of a cherub-faced general manager. Youth is so oppressive and Jamie Moyer knows it.
The 46-year-old veteran was told yesterday that he'd no longer be welcome in the Phillies starting rotation now that the team had hired Pedro Martinez, not just another old dude but an old dude with three Cy Young awards in his china cabinet. Moyer feels that he was promised by ownership that he'd be a starter for the entirety of the 2009 season and he was careful but curt with his words of rebuttal:
"I'm really not happy with this decision that the Phillies have made," Moyer said. "I will take what they've asked me to do, but I'm not real excited about the decision that's been made."
"I feel like I've been misled," Moyer said. "I'm a little disheartened a little bit because I know this past winter when I was negotiating with the Phillies, this was a sore thumb, if you will, about this potentially happening. Ruben, you can't promise anything in this game, but I really felt that Ruben kind of parlayed to me that this type of situation would not happen.
"I actually even had some conversation with David [Montgomery], and them reassuring me this type of situation won't happen. Again, I'm a little disheartened by the way it's happened, how it's happened."
Montgomery, the team president, and Amaro were not in Chicago to respond to Moyer's sad soliloquy. And really, they'd be better off handling something like this in private. It's better to deal with the elderly on a man-to-man level, behind closed doors so as not to excite them too much and cause some sort of stroke or heart failure.
But seriously, folks, ageism is real, even when a 46-year-old pitcher (Moyer) loses a job to a 58-year-old pitcher (Pedro). Nowadays in this recession that Lehman Brothers caused, jobs are hard to come by and it seems that once an old dude loses his job, it's curtains. Moyer's lucky that he still has part-time work and retains all his benefits, especially the ones that pay for home delivery of diabetes testing supplies. After all, if he had gotten fired outright, what contending team out there would be desperate enough for starting pitchers to take on such an old fart?
There was a bench-clearing un-brawl at Fenway Park last night, y'all! You can't call this a brawl, especially a day after we posted the epic 1984 Braves-Padres brawl. Compared to that epic battle, the Red Sox-Tigers tussle was more like the Paris Peace Accords.
Still, it's early and there was no Baseball Before Bedtime. So we give you the YouTube video:
After Kevin Youkilis got plunked in retaliation by Rick Porcello, Youk charged the mound, threw his helmet, and attempted to tackle Porcello. What happened next is confusing to me. Did Youkilis complete the tackle or did Porcello strongarm Youkilis on the way down and get credit for the takedown?
Either way, Youkilis is obviously in need of some intimacy and wanted to roll around on the ground with a friend. You can't blame him for that.
Gossip hausfrau Cindy Adams is employed by the New York Post to write...well...I'm not really sure what she does is considered writing. It's more like regurgitating nonsense onto a printed page, so sure, let's call her a gossip-mongering old bag. Anyway, because Alex Rodriguez is a high-profile New York celeb dating a high-profile Hollywood celeb who couldn't act her way out of pickle barrel, Cindy Adams simply must write about the couple.
Now, having seen Alex up close, I can tell you exactly about his face. Never having shared a urinal with him, I cannot tell you about his other varying parts. I am now told, however--and reliably so--that there are reasons he scores big in RBIs.
You dirty old lady! Not only did you make me lose my lunch, but you mixed metaphors and failed your double entendre. Sad old lady made me sad.
Yes, I understand that J.P. Ricciardi did not, in fact, get nothing in return when he traded outfielder Alexis Rios to the White Sox. Yes, I realize that this fancy "salary relief" term means a whole lot more in the Xtreme Depression and that this frees up tens of millions of dollars that J.P. can spend elsewhere. But really, Rios had actual real live value: $60 million over the last five years alone despite just $5 million this year as per Fangraphs. And so what if Rios is having a bad year? His BABIP is down this year, a career low .294. Slumps happen, even summer-long slumps, even summer-long slumps smack dab in the middle of his prime. What made Ricciardi pull the plug now?
Besides, you can't build a team on a foundation of money, honey. You need to invest those loonies and toonies in both a farm system and smart free agent signings nowadays. Yes, Ricciardi got salary relief, nearly $60 million of it over four years, which is enough to secure a smattering of middle relievers and aging corner outfielders for a couple of years. But that won't buy championships, not in the A.L. East. A small market team in that division has no choice but to emulate the Rays plan of success: (1) fail for many years and snag high draft picks (2) ... (3) profit. I think J.P. skipped steps 1 and 2 and just started stealing underwear from my dresser drawers.
But the fact remains: Ricciardi's hand was forced because Rios' talents could not fully shine when an even larger bag of waste was blocking up the dollar flow. Blue Jays CF Vernon Wells is owed almost $100 million before 2014, at which point he'll be 35 and have a mailbox clogged with AARP junk mail. In a move reminiscent of Sophie's Choice, J.P. was stuck choosing between the two big OF contracts and ended up giving up the more attractive one. If Wells wasn't around, Rios could rotate into center. But Wells will be around, jingling the pocket change from his Albert Belle-esque contract without the Albert Belle-esque production.
So, while some Scott Podsednik fans might disagree, I must say that this deal was a win for the White Sox and another transaction loss for Ricciardi and the Jays. Sometimes a salary dump is more like a talent dump; at least now all you Blue Jays fans can finally agree with me that the Jays offense is "worsening".
Twenty-five years ago, the San Diego Padres won the National League pennant and their success can obviously be traced to a long, dragging, hilarious mid-August brawl with the Braves that was interrupted a few times to actually play baseball. Team unity through mass violence! Hey, it worked for the Ottoman Empire!
The North County Times in San Diego printed the article to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brawl that pretty much started when Braves pitcher Pascual Perez plunked the Padres' Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the game. Padres manager Dick Williams decided to have Ed Whitson hold off retaliation until Perez came up , but Perez kept dancing out of the way and Whitson and two other Pads pitchers whiffed in Perez' subsequent at-bats.
It wasn't until the eighth inning (Perez' fourth plate appearance) when Craig Lefferts finally nailed Perez on the elbow before the brawl really got underway.
Some more highlights:
"(Bob) Horner tackled (Champ) Summers with the unsolicited help of two fans who leaped out of the stands."
"On his way back to the Padres' dugout, (Kurt) Bevacqua was pelted in the head by a mug of beer tossed from the crowd. He hurdled atop the dugout to attack the perpetrator but slipped while throwing a punch and fell into the seats."
"Whitson was icing his arm in the clubhouse, watching the game on TV. But when (Donnie) Moore hit (Graig) Nettles, he put on the first pair of pants he could find and returned shirtless to the dugout, where he was threatened by an unruly fan armed with a bat. Another fan raced onto the field to try to steal third base ---- literally ---- but was tackled by (Chris) Chambliss and (Jerry) Royster."
In the end, there were three bench-clearing brawls and thirteen ejections of players and managers. The action even carried over into the stands as five fans were ejected and a hot dog vendor spilled his dirty wiener water all over a shirtless Ed Whitson:
Sorry to get you all excited with the downright sexiest picture we've ever posted at Walkoff Walk. But I have good news! The ENTIRE BRAWL is on YouTube and was collected by Gaslamp Ball. If you want to enjoy the best part of the brawl but don't have a spare 28 minutes that it would take you to consume all four parts of the video, just hit play on the YouTube flick embedded below and skip to the 6:30 mark to see a certain pudgy future HOFer bodyslam a Brave:
Then head over to Gaslamp Ball during your lunch break to experience the joy that comes from watching grown men grapple. Especially a shirtless Ed Whitson. Rawr!
Rockies 11, Cubs 5: Troy Tulowitzki cycled, you guys! But technically, the final leg of his cycle was an ill-begotten triple. See, Alfonso Soriano booted Troy's liner in left field and Ryan Theriot muffed the relay throw. The official scorer technically should have called it a double and an error, but then he would have been run out of Denver on a rail.
Marlins 8, Astros 6: If Florida wants to keep making up ground on the first place Phillies, a midweek series with the Houston Astros has potential to be quite fruitful. In fact, Marlins catcher John Baker drove in two RBI and was a phone guest on the MLB Network in which he compared the win over Houston to a bowl of cherries, mostly because he tried to bite into Cecil Cooper's juicy head but broke his front teeth on the pit-like skull. What was my point? Oh yes, John Baker's phone interview with the MLB Network guys was interrupted by call waiting.
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4: Hit the bricks Alex Rios, J.P. Ricciardi can do this thing alone. Or with the help of five and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief from an otherwise-beleaguered Jays bullpen. After Cito Gaston was shown the door for arguing balls 'n' strikes, his bench coach Brian Butterfield handled the pen with aplomb. Matchups! Jesse Carlson against Jorge Posada? Twelve-pitch strikeout. Brandon League against Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez? Strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. Closer Jason Frasor? A tidy eleven inning scoreless streak.
Athletics 9, Orioles 1: Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez loves the hot hot August heat. Fella hasn't allowed a run in 12 and 2/3 innings of August work as he handled the O's over six innings of seven-hit ball that included five K's against just one BB. Mark Ellis went 5-for-5 in the eight hole and collected four RBI. It's little gifts like these that keep A's fans content. The game ended when Jeff Gray caught a liner and threw to Cliff Pennington at second to double off Melvin Mora. I only know who one of those three people are.
Red Sox 6, Tigers 5: Jon Papelbon came on in the eighth to snuff out a Tigers rally and sent the Deeeetroit hitters down one, two, three in the ninth to save the Sox effort and seal off the six game losing streak. Boston's back, baby! The Tigers ESPN curse continues; they've now lost 392 consecutive nationally-televised weekday non-playoff games when the humidity is between 60% and 70%.
Some quick, end-of-the-day announcements and whatnot to satiate your needs: (1) there will be no podcast again tonight so that we all can recover from the 82 hours we spent watching the Red Sox and Yankees over the weekend. (2) Dan McQuade is, without a doubt, the greatest guest-blogger in the history of forever and I wish someone out there would pay him to blog regularly. (3) Keep those tips coming, I promise I use them, really, I do.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we get back on this bucking bronco we call baseball-blogging and maybe post some of our own licking-whipped-cream-off-of-skanks photos. Same WoW channel.
Matthew Kaminski has perhaps the peachiest job in baseball: as the Turner Field organist, he gets to sit above the action during 81 Braves games a year and personally pick out songs to play as opposing batters come to the plate. Kaminski's a jazz organist with broad tastes in pop music and an ear that lets him learn a tune after just a couple listens, so don't be surprised when he breaks out the latest Lady Gaga number when Ryan Garko steps to the dish.
Kaminski usually chooses the tunes he plays based on wordplay involving the players names but sometimes just goes for the cheap joke, like when he serenaded Mark Teixeira with Radiohead's "Creep". That's just poor taste, Matty. What'd Teixeira ever do to you, except, you know, lead the American League in tater tots a year after leaving the Braves?
Clever! But maybe Kaminski needs some help thinking up some tunes he can noodle around with for some American League players he might encounter next season during interleague. Perhaps "Feels Good" for the White Sox' Jim Thome or "Wig in a Box" for the Tigers' Brandon Inge.
Nationals Park is the perfect ballpark for a perfectly awful team in a perfectly backwards town. For every nicety like the Red Porch, there is an accompanying mistake like the parking garage that blocks the view of the Capitol. For every clever bit of entertainment like the Presidents Race, there is an accompanying bit of nightmare fuel. Sure, the Nats have a tidy eight-game winning streak but it's only a matter of time before the stadium built on an ancient Indian burial ground consumes its own.
In fact, the park has already started taking prisoners on opposing teams. Its first victim? Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young who got stuck in quite a pickle over the weekend:
He struck out three times and flied out to end the game, but Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young's night was about to get worse on Saturday. For 30 minutes after the game, he was locked inside the bathroom adjacent to the visitors' dugout and ballpark personnel had to pry open the door so he could get out.
That story stinks almost as much as Chris Young's .194 batting average or .655 OPS. And yes, it is most definitely Warshington Nationals Day here at Walkoff Walk.
Hey, did you hear? The Washington Nationals are the hottest team in baseball! They're riding an eight-game winning streak on the heels of a weekend sweep over the stumbling Diamondbacks; sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman continue to smack tater tots and knock in runs. Heck, they even had two starting pitchers notch their first career wins over the weekend. New Nats manager Jim Riggleman must have subscribed to the Obama-mania newsletter because he has totally wiped away special interests and brought a real winning attitude to Washington.
Except, well, the Nats still have the worst record in baseball, still sit twenty-two and a half games out of first place, are still on pace to lose 105 games this year, and still won't send me any coupons for the Red Porch. But you wouldn't know any of that from reading the latest, super-optimistic AP recap:
Elijah Dukes drove in three runs, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and the surprising Washington Nationals won their eighth straight with a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
The Nationals' eight-game run is the second longest in their five seasons in the nation's capital. They won 10 straight from June 2-12, 2005.
That's cute. The story even made the Top AP Headlines RSS feed that I check out in order to know what fat hausfraus in Missouri are reading. But if your average hausfrau read that piece, they'd have no idea that the Nats are 40-72 and about as successful this season as a neutered dog humping a hassock. Statistically, it's not that outrageous to have a terrible team win so many consecutive games especially when their opponents have a combined .450 winning percentage.
So, is this big-league bump due to the recent change at the helm of the USS Screech? Manny Acta had nearly the same lineup in his charge and couldn't even string together four straight W's, let alone eight. Does old school Jim Riggleman make a baseball player perform at a higher level than the sabermetrically-inclined Manny Acta? Mark Grace thinks so:
"All due respect to Manny [Acta], I don't know what kind of job he did here, but I know Jim and I know what he brings to the table," Grace said. "He can get players to play at a higher level than they are used to playing. He is tough, but he is fair. He is honest.
"He is not afraid to tell you [how he feels]. A lot of managers just tell you what you want to hear. Jim is not like that. Sometimes, you have to hear some things you don't want to hear and Jim is not afraid to go that way."
That's all well and good, Gracie, but, as Deadspin showed us this weekend, the Jim Riggleman Era of Good Feelings does not mean that every Nationals employee is succeeding. Check out this brain-melting video of the Nats left field ballgirl watching herself make a huge oopsie on what she thought was a foul ball:
I hope Riggleman tore her a new one after watching that nonchalant reaction to such utter oopsie-ness. And I doubt she was able to participate in any of the hot double creampie action.
Note: Baseball Before Bedtime will no longer be seen on Monday mornings so that we may bring you a quick, post-weekend update on the division and wild card races. Thus, Monday Morning Movement Memo will document which way your favorite team is headed, organized by race.
National League East: Why bother even posting about the division race when the Phillies are running away with the title? Well, perhaps because the Phils just got swept by the Marlins and saw their division lead cut down from a hearty seven games to a tentative four games. Maybe if Jayson Werth didn't spend so much time checking out silly slapfights and Shane Victorino wasn't being so mouthy, they and the rest of the team would have a bit more focus. Atlanta swept the Dodgers in three games over the weekend and sit just 0.5 behind the second place Marlins.
National League Central: Chicago and St. Louis sat tied, within mere percentage points of one another, atop the division on Thursday but had quite different fortunes starting on Friday. The Cubbies dropped two of three to the Rockies while the Cards overwhelmed the poor Pirates behind the starting trio of Carpenter, Pineiro and Wainwright. Albert Pujols collected his NL leading 100th RBI on Friday while Skip Schumaker's first career pinch-hit homer yesterday carried the Cards to a five-run eighth and the big sweep. Chicago goes for a four game split with the Rox today as Tom Gorzelanny tries to shake off his sad Pirates upbringing and move to 2-0 as a Cub.
American League Wild Card: The threesome atop the AL consolation prize race tightened a bit with the Red Sox lost weekend. Texas took two of three from the Angels while Tampa topped Seattle just once to fall off the pace a bit; the Sox and Rangers are now tied with Tampa a couple games back. Texas would probably be doing a lot better if anti-Christian bloggers weren't bringing down a true disciple of Jesus with mean old photographs.
National League Wild Card: Now THIS is a race that fans of parity can sink their dull teeth into! Thanks to big weekends from the Marlins and Braves, there are currently three teams (Marlins, Braves and Cubs) within 3.5 games of the wild card leading Rockies and Giants. That's quite the fearsome fivesome hovering between .500 and .550! Adorable!
American League East: If you consumed even a minute of ESPN this weekend, you know the story. New York won four of four to increase their division lead to a MLB-highest 6.5 games. Yes, that means the Yankees have a larger lead than that of the Phillies or Dodgers.
In other races, the Dodgers' lead has been trimmed to 5.5 games over the Giants and Rockies in the NL West, the Tigers are hanging on to a 3 game lead over the ChiSox in the AL Central, and the Angels maintain a 3.5 game cushion over the Rangers in the AL West.