Rob Iracane: May 2010 Archives


The Phillies inability to score runs against the Mets (or, let's face it, just about any team) has caused one fan blogger to go on an ill-advised hunger strike. Mike Meech, of the popular fan blog The Fightins and a close friend of Walkoff Walk, has vowed since early Wednesday to not ingest a single foodstuff until his Phillies score another run. And after getting shut out three times in a row for the just the second time in history against the Mets, his outlook looks grim.

In a series of events that would make Tim Kurkjian spontaneously combust out of dorky glee, the Phillies have become the first defending league champ to get shut out in a three-game series. They've only scored three runs in their last five games and even that three-run mini outburst came in the ninth inning of an 8-3 Sunday loss to the Red Sox. Merely an afterthought.

Since Rockies manager Jim Tracy accuse the Phillies of stealing signs back on May 12th, the Phillies have scored just 3.85 runs per game. That's 50 runs in 13 games, compared to 177 in their previous 33 contests, which corresponds to a whopping 5.36 runs per game. Coincidence? I have no idea.

Meech is headed down to the Jersey Shore this weekend and desperately needs the Phillies to score so he can put the kibosh on this wacky stunt, lest he miss out on his chance to enjoy the popular South Jersey pizza joint Mack and Manco's (motto: fattening sunburnt Philadelphians since 1956). The situation is dire, too. This is a before photo of our man Meech and here's an after picture. Yeah, it's pretty serious.

Rickie Weeks is a patient fellow! Kid walked THRICE today including the game-winning bases-loaded walk in the tenth inning that helped the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Houston Astros by the score of 4-3. With a full count and two outs and following pinch-hitter Randy Wolf (thanks to a depleted Brewers bench), Weeks drew ball four from a beleaguered Matt Lindstrom who had already blew the save in the ninth.

Just like that, we've got ourselves yet ANOTHER shrimp sighting in the 2010 season. Keep 'em coming, relief pitchers with control issues!


This one's for all the oil-covered shrimp down there in the Gulf.



Courtesy of the good people at Tauntr, we give you the above video in which a smart Cubs fan uses his plastic cup of beer for more than simply drinking to forget his miserable existence as a Cubs fan. Please to enjoy.

During yesterday afternoon's White Sox-Indians game, Chicago starter Mark Buehrle was called for two balks by first base ump Joe West. Manager Ozzie Guillen was ejected for arguing the first balk; Buehrle was ejected after he tossed his glove to the ground out of frustration from the second balk. Balk balk balk! What are we, in a chicken coop?

Via Chris Littman at The Sporting Blog, here's a video of the events:


Granted, nobody really likes Country Joe West as an umpire. He's been around so long and probably violated the nature of the entire spirit of Umpiring when he called out the Yankees and Red Sox for taking their sweet-ass time playing baseball games. The balks he called on Buehrle were indeed questionable. They are not black-and-white, instead they are judgment calls and therefore we can question West's judgment on them until the cows come home but it's not going to get robot umpires on the field anytime soon.

But when Buehrle tossed his glove in frustration he committed an act so heinous that it definitely deserved the heave-ho: he showed up an ump. Yes, it was bloated old Joe West and everyone, from Ozzie Guillen to dumb Hawk Harrelson sides with Buehrle on the matter but the fact remains: YOU CANNOT SHOW UP AN UMPIRE. Just a simple toss of the mitt is enough to do it, too.

Perhaps Buehrle's intentions were pure and honest and was simply just frustrated with his inability to avoid balk calls when attempting pickoff moves, like fellow southpaw Andy Pettitte does so well. But that shouldn't matter to West; the act of tossing a glove, or a helmet, or a bat, or throwing the ball into the stands is improper conduct and deserves ejection.

Now, Buehrle is one of the more beloved folks in the sport and it's almost odd that West tossed a guy who is notable for pitching really fast games. Everyone loves Buehrle! But what if a less beloved player, like Hanley Ramirez, threw his glove in frustration? Would the outcry be the same? Dare I play the race card yet another time? Because what if an African-American player like MILTON BRADLEY had tossed his glove in frustration? Would we have been so quick to defend him?

The answer: probably not. Even people who hate the White Sox (read: me) love Mark Buehrle. And even people who love Milton Bradley (read: me) want him to just play nice when he's out there on the field. Respect needs to be paid in both directions on the field; umpires should not be vocally criticizing ballplayers and ballplayers should never, ever be showing up an umpire by spiking their gear. So perhaps this needn't be a racial thing, instead, it's a tiny tear in the fabric that holds the player-umpire relationship together.

Or maybe Joe West is just an asshole.

rinkudineshkalpenn.jpg

Earlier this week, our intrepid Indian pitching heroes Rinku and Dinesh did something that very few professional baseball players are ever privy to do: they met actor Kal Penn in front of a Washington D.C.-area Whole Foods!

Yes, that Kal Penn, star of the hilarious Harold & Kumar stoner movie series. Remember that time they tried to go to White Castle but they ran into Neil Patrick Harris? That's Kris Liakos' favorite scene in a movie, ever.

This was just the conclusion to a wild, wacky and long weekend for the duo, on a break from their extended spring training in Pirate City. On Sunday, they arrived in D.C. for a delicious Indian meal and then hit the town for a post-meal walk:

After dinner, we getting lost going hotel and we walking at White House by accident. We thinking first that this hotel, but Lisa maam telling us White House where President Obama living. this very big house, so we thinking President Obama very rich, but JB sir telling us he not getting keeping house when he not president anymore.

Foreshadowing! Sounds like JB Sir is ready to evict Barry and he'll be supporting Palin/Schilling in 2012.

rinkudineshobama.jpg

The next day, Rinku and Dinesh attended a gala affair at that very same place in honor of the White House's Heritage Month. Over 150 luminaries, diplomats, and celebs from Asia and the Pacific Islands were invited to attend. And yes, they met President Barack Obama and even brought him a customized Pirates jersey.

Shame that the Secret Service had to confiscate the jersey at the gate and destroy it immediately because it was a security threat (read: they didn't want the President to catch any of that loser Pirates mojo).

Rinku and Dinesh also met Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Representative Mike Honda (D - CA), and, later that night, international soccer sooper-star Ronaldinho. I wonder if Congresscritter Mike getting Rinku's dad a new truck, perhaps a nice Ridgeline.

Finally, they had breakfast with Kal Penn yesterday morning and discussed his current film project, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, that will begin filming next month. I can only hope that Penn offered them cameo roles as wacky, pot-smoking cricket players.



To help get you psyched up for the big #HEIST in August, we've been posting videos from the good folks at PNC Park. Above, please enjoy a short clip of the Pirates rally train which looks like it came straight out of the 1970s. Pretty sweet, but can someone explain how said train runs when baseballs are the only fuel it's fed?

Also posted today: the official Octavio Dotel entrance video with soundtrack from Jose Lima's reggaeton band.

cuyahogaonfire.jpg

Leave it to two writers from Cleveland to produce perhaps the most complete conversation about being wrong in the sporting-sphere. Kathryn Schulz, author of the forthcoming tome Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error interviewed blog-friendly columnist Joe Posnanski and it wasn't difficult for JoePos to spill the beans on the many times he's been wrong.

Posnanski's self-deprecating humor and willingness to admit his missteps make it an amusing interview, but the anecdote about "I Pounded Pos" shirts at the end makes it essential for fans of Schadenfreude.

601bradleyorange.jpg

Pity Milton Bradley. For a soul so troubled his entire career to end up playing in the most miserable baseball city in the league seems like nothing but bad mojo. Back on May 4th, Mariners skipper Don "Waka" Wakamatsu, sensing that Milton was emotionally coming apart at the seams, pulled him from the game. Bradley immediately packed up his gear, left the clubhouse, and sped home.

Since that point, Bradley was put on the team's restricted list as he tried to sort through his emotional distress. He sought counseling for suicidal thoughts, and although he's returning to the Mariners now, he'll continue to get the professional help he needs and so many others shun (cough cough Papelbon cough).

Bradley sat down with Mariners beat writer and fellow sad-sack Geoff Baker for a one-on-one interview in which Bradley revealed what happened the night he hightailed it outta Safeco:

"I got home and my heart was pounding," Bradley said. "It was just one thing after another that night. I couldn't get it to stop. I felt like I'd been down this road before, where everything keeps happening and leads to something else and you can't control it. I just wanted it to stop."

For the first time, Bradley knew that wishing his problems away wasn't going to solve anything. He needed to get away from baseball and find a professional to confide in about the anxiety that tightened his chest and crept into his voice with alarming frequency.

"When you start feeling that the only way you can end it is to kill yourself, that's not a healthy feeling," Bradley said. "So, I needed to get away, to step back for a bit. There are too many people I care about in this world to let things go down that road."

It's a great interview and we must salute Geoff Baker for being perhaps the only journo around who could properly commiserate with an emotionally disturbed star. But my favorite nugget from the hourlong chit-chat was this:

One of his fondest memories as a ballplayer comes from the 2008 All-Star Game, when Bradley met Derek Jeter. Soon after, out on the field for the Home Run Derby, he felt his cellphone vibrating in his pocket.

"I answer it and it's Jeter," he said. "He was calling and personally inviting me to this party he was having afterward. He's like 'So, you going to come?'

"That was cool," Bradley said. "I mean, he might have been calling everybody, but he made me feel like the most special person in the world."

See? Derek Jeter is made of so much magic that he can make even Milton Bradley smile.

joselima.jpg

You're looking at a photo of the late Jose Lima taken just three days ago at Dodger Stadium. The former pitcher was in L.A. to watch the Dodgers play an interleague series against Detroit, which means exactly what you're thinking: watching the Tigers play baseball killed Jose Lima.

Lima, who spent thirteen charismatically awesome years in the bigs, passed away this weekend after going into full cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena. He was 37.

Among those mourning the all-too-soon loss of Lima is Mark Teahen, whose at-bat walk-up music is a song by Jose Lima's reggaeton band.

To honor Jose, we give you Jose Lima singing "Sweet Home Alabama", because what else would you expect?

Whomever held the Flip camera for this rollicking fistfight in the bleachers at the Cell in Chicago. Seriously, this rivals Néstor Almendros' best work.


(thanks to Weed Against Speed over at Sportress of Blogitude and Zoner Sports)

tommylasordagoestohell.jpg

The above painting illustrates something we're all looking forward to. A recently expired Tommy Lasorda kneeling before the Lord, being judged, and being expelled to hell. It's part of LASORDAPALOOZA. The Pomona Public Library is holding the event to honor Tommy Lasorda, as sponsored by the Baseball Reliquary, and it can only mean that the apocalypse is nigh:

The displays offer a candid look at Lasorda's career, including highlights such as his World Series championships as Dodgers manager and his many charitable endeavors, and lowlights such as his estrangement from his gay son, his highly public rifts with former players, and his penchant for self-promotion.

The displays incorporate artworks, artifacts, photographs, and a variety of documents which provide unique insights into the storied career of this Los Angeles Dodgers legend and one of baseball's greatest goodwill ambassadors.

I...I'm having trouble processing all of this. The enormous painting in the National Portrait Gallery was one thing but this? Is it parody? Please let it be parody! How can we, as aesthetes, be honoring such a deplorable figure!

Mock him! Mock this man lest he think the entire event is just another stop along his lifetime achievement path towards immortality!

(courtesy of the LA Daily News and Deadspin)

I know you've got at least 45 free minutes today at some point, friend. It's a Friday and you're either unemployed or underemployed. What better way to while away the minutes than to listen to the Walkoff Walk Furious Five radio show.

It was our silver anniversary podcats and it was a doozy! Tune in to hear me finally reveal my true opinion of noteworthy Mariners fanbloggers, to hear Kris reminisce about buying baseball cards in liquor stores, and to hear Drew be the voice of reason as I try to race-bait the entire baseball press corps.


Topics covered include:

Please to enjoy. Or at least attempt to enjoy.

Putting together a weekly roundup of the 140-charactered musings of baseball players is really not as easy a task as one would assume. Simply put: professional athletes are REALLY BORING. Granted, most players aren't even on the Twittersphere. I estimate that under 10% of active rosters are made up of Twooters; chances are that the guys who tweet are the ones with more interesting personalities.

But really, scrolling through page after page of links to press releases, inspirational quotes, and Dirk Hayhurst's inanity makes it really hard to find the real gems. Thank goodness for our go-to guys like Chris Coghlan who are always good for an unintentionally hilarious utterance on a weekly basis. Did anyone really expect a guy whose handle is "Cogz4Christ" to be able to spell "Mecca" correctly?


Brett Anderson fancies himself baseball's own Roger Ebert. Unlike Dan Haren, however, Anderson is mesmerized by the power of film and cannot turn away when his favorite movie comes on. Seriously, he won't even leave the house.


Don't tell Matt Antonelli, but on my recent trip to the West Coast, I walked by no fewer than three In 'N' Out restaurants and not once did I go inside to get me some animal-style vittles. Perhaps he's referring to beat writers when he tells us this.


Hey, Ben Zobrist, that's what she said. Literally, I think he and his wife share a Twitter account.


Scott Boras' best bud, that dastardly coward Jon Heyman, dares to throw our favorite tweeting manager under the bus. Yes, Jon, Ozzie does already know everything, like where to stay when visiting Minneapolis.


When he's not racing cars, throwing gas, or being generally straight-edge (whatever that means), C.J. Wilson is doing the same quotidian tasks that you or I or greaseballs on TV would do because we must.


New Blue Jay Fred Lewis posted a link to some drivel on Bleacher Report but let's not bury him for it. We can all agree with the thesis statement of that piece: Brian Sabean is a horse's patoot. Lord know's Fred agrees.


Ugh, Ian Stewart, people who tweet about where they're eating and what fine wine they are drinking are irritating.


astronautgarrettreismanyankees.jpg

Astronaut Garrett Reisman (earlier) is a yooge Yankees fan. And why not? He and I went to the same high school! So to make sure that the entire country can get their fix of Yankees games this week, he rocketed up into outer space and fixed up the teevee satellites.

I'm only half kidding. Between this past Monday night and next Sunday night, we will be witness to six out of seven Yankees games on national TV. (ESPN, MLBN, ESPN, MLBN, none, FOX, and ESPN). It's as if the cable companies are trying to tell us that the Yankees (and their opponents: the Sox, Rays and Mets) are successful and/or popular! Who knew?

Reisman and I share a common friend. She was kind enough to give me a framed photograph of the new and old Yankee Stadia that Garrett took from the space shuttle on his last jaunt to the cosmos, which I have proudly hung in my kitchen, albeit upside-down. Because I have far better aesthetics than whoever decided which way was up on this crazy planet.

(via Daily Intel)

zachdukeintimidator.jpg

In the lunatic crab-fry-fueled bandbox they call Citizens Bank last night, Zach Duke outdueled Roy Halladay. Chew on that for a bit. Despite lasting but six innings, Duke still kept the league's best offense at bay with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits allowed in giving up one run. Halladay, no schlub himself, went the distance but got knocked around a bit more, giving up three key doubles.

In his first seven starts of the year, Roy notched six tidy wins and was on pace to finish with 30 wins given a 34-start season. But with a no-decision against the Rockies and last night's loss to the Pirates, the man everyone wants to go to the zoo with might only win 24 or 25. Quelle horreur!

We as baseball fans talk about unbreakable records and unreachable feats a lot; will anyone ever hit .400 again? Will any hitter break Joe D's consecutive game streak? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. There are, statistically speaking, ways of determining the probability of these feats, but of all these accomplishments, I especially want to see a 30-win pitcher. Sure, wins are not the best way to evaluate an individual's performance, but wouldn't that be cool anyway?

Think about it: a pitcher will only get, at most, 35 starts in a season nowadays. To win thirty games would take not only a dominating pitcher but a cooperative team behind him. And it seemed like the stars aligned this year for Halladay to be the dude to reach this magical plateau: a horse of a pitcher joining a team with a powerful offense and above average defense in a lesser league.

But no, Roy had to run headfirst into the befuddling Pirates, who can go from winning a series against the Dodgers to getting pummeled by the lowly Brewers, and from getting swept by the Astros to toppling the great bearded pitcher. Credit Duke, credit timely hitting from the Pirates, but most of all, credit the cruel mistress we call 'bad luck'. The biggest and best pitcher in the world sometimes cannot get the three runs he needs from his offense and our greatest hopes fall by the wayside.

hanleyramirezleans.jpg

In what can be perceived as a cleverly-timed footnote to my piece on minorities being accused of not hustling, Marlins shortstop (and Dominican native) Hanley Ramirez accidentally booted a ball into left field and merely jogged after it as two opposing players scored.

Watch the video here.

Hanley was later benched by Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez, either for not showing proper hustle on the play or for having an ouchie on his ankle. He'd fouled a ball off his ankle the prior inning and seemed to show a bit of a limp on his way back to the dugout.

Now, to defend Hanley with the excuse that, "Hey, he was hurt, he couldn't chase that baseball down" would be facile and inconsistent. Racial differences be damned, baseball players need to run after loose balls. And when a manager of Gonzalez' stature decides to bench a player, it's his decision and his decision alone. Just listen to him discuss the benching, where he basically throws Hanley under the bus with one hand while defending teammate Cody Ross:

"There's 24 guys out there that are busting their butts. (Cody) Ross got hit with a ball 95 mph and he stayed in the game making diving plays and battling, got two hits and an RBI. There are some injuries there, but we expect an effort from 25 guys on this team and when that doesn't happen, we have got to do something."

If anything, Gonzalez is singling Hanley out because he's a superstar making a ton of scratch. Fredi knows that if the team's best and most well-paid player is lollygagging, it'll breed discontent in the clubhouse among the po' folks like Ross.

But perhaps we're missing the real nefarious cause of Ramirez' troubles: cricket! Prior to the game, the Marlins welcomed the New Zealand cricket team on the field for batting practice and Hanley made like Rinku and Dinesh and picked up the ol' cricket bat to take some swings.


Cricket: the enemy of hustling!

sprinkler.jpg

Talk about multitasking! On a dare, a high school baseball player in Big Stone Gap, VA lined up along the foul line with his teammates during the playing of the National Anthem, unzipped his pantaloons, took out his John Thomas, and whizzed on the field.

To top it all off, kid tinkled in public on a dare that didn't even involve money. Heck, kids today will do anything for free. Back in my day, I used to make big bucks doing crazy stuff like drinking a bottle of ketchup, or streaking nude across the auditorium during eighth grade graduation, or selling my urine to my buddy who smoked all that weed.

"We want to make this very clear, this kid did nothing that he considered unpatriotic," Wise County Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry said. "It was a stupid mistake; he has accepted responsibility. And that, coupled with the fact that he has had a very good record in the past - he's going to pay for it, but we don't have to behead him, we don't have to crucify him."

Perry would not say what the punishment entailed, citing student privacy. He also declined to name the boy.

Lucky this kid didn't attempt this at excessively patriotic Yankee Stadium where you can be ejected for simply leaving your seat during "God Bless America". Of course, being forbidden from leaving your seat during that song could cause one to simply tinkle on your seat. Don't blame me, I thought I had a going problem but it turned out to be a growing problem.

(via Obscure Store and Reading Room)



In St. Petersburg, the security guards need no Taser to subdue the shirtless louts who wander onto the field to create a nuisance. Perhaps it's actually more painful to be tackled by four underemployed dopes than to be zapped by one cowardly cop, but ask the average Padres player and they'll opt for tasering every single danged time.

(we owe a Coke to Cork Gaines at Rays Index)

hapybirthday.jpg

Really, I tried my darn-tootinest to follow baseball while I was out carousing my way through wine country and San Francisco, but I was not prepared to wake up this morning, jet-lagged and all, to find out that the Cincinnati Reds have assumed first place in the National League Central. I thought the strangest thing that happened last week was Corey Patterson signing a big league deal with the Orioles and fueling a team-wide offensive rebirth, yet the Fightin' Dustys went and took two of three from the Cardinals this weekend to take the division lead. What kind of crazy sport is this anyway?

Also crazy: while I was away, our own Dmac seriously brought the entire baseballblogosphere to its knees with his laser rocket wit completely out of the kindness of his Philadelphian heart. For this, I thank him profusely and will be looking forward to "hiring" him again later this summer when I spend a week in Amish country raising a barn. Kris and I throw buckets of gratitude at Drew and 310toJoba as well.

Thanks also to West Coast WoW commenters (WCWoWCs?) Farthammer and Phillas for meeting up with me at AT&T Park for a real gem of a baseball game Thursday afternoon. (Two hours! So tidy!) Perhaps the real highlights of the game were the foodstuffs we consumed: a half pound kielbasa and a cha cha bowl before departing the park to a place that sold beer with slices of watermelon. It's like a little slice of summertime with every malty sip!

And no, I didn't bring any souvenirs back for any of you. Instead, please accept this simple salumi cone as a token of my gratitude for your readership.

Break out the shrimp video, people: the Tigers have beaten Boston on Ramon Santiago's walkoff walk issued by Red Sock reliever Ramon Ramirez. Talk about a Ramon Party! Heck, it's the Ramoniest walkoff walk in baseball history! Enjoy the video:




About next week: I'm headed out San Francisco way for a bit, but our pal Dan McQuade will corral the WoW writers and keep the content flowing from Monday to Friday. I'll be meeting up with a couple of our West Coaster WoWies on Thursday afternoon for a businessman's special at AT&T Park, so be sure and follow me on Twitter for some live commentary and photo fun.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. See you in ten days, same WoW channel.

  • DO you like nostalgic batting helmets, short shorts, and tube socks? This is the five-minute movie for you, no doubt.

Courtesy of Rich Lederer over at Baseball Analysts comes this neat, short film about a 1970s era game of Wiffleball. It's like The Sandlot met up with Dazed and Confused, got high, and had a drug baby.

Please to enjoy Wiffleball '79, directed by Perry Jenkins and Travis Kurtz and featuring both copyrighted music (that I'm sure were not obtained properly...unless this is fair use?) and original tunes by Mike Northern.


(thanks again to those crazy analysts of base-ball)

brandonphillips.jpg

In a Tuesday tilt against the Mets, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips disappointed his team and his manager when he failed to bust his butt out of the batters box on what he presumed was his second home run of the game. After taking a John Maine pitch deep, Phillips lowered his head and began his tater trot; unfortunately, the ball stayed in the park and he ended up with just a double.

Craig Calcaterra's headline on the incident? "Brandon Phillps' lack of hustle costs him a triple". Also according to Craig, his "lack of hustle" cost the Reds the game, since the team lost by just one run and the hitter after Phillips came through with a long sac fly. Funny, I feel like the few feet that Phillips' hit fell short cost the Reds the game, not Phillips' apparent lack of hustle.

That story led me to posit this: when we read about players who display a "lack of hustle", chances are that player is a minority. This is just a hypothesis, though, and I need some hard evidence to back it up.

Here, then, is an incomplete list of black or Latino players whose names show up in game stories, op-ed columns, and assorted player quotes when one searches Google for the phrase "lack of hustle" and the word "baseball" (takes deep breath):

Elijah Dukes, Julio Lugo, B.J. Upton, Jose Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Jimmy Rollins, Benito Santiago, Willy Taveras, Matt Kemp, Milton Bradley, Derek Bell, Albert Belle, Fernando Martinez, Alex Rios, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Edwin Encarnacion, Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, and Andruw Jones.

That's a whopping twenty-one different minority players, most of recent vintage, and all were called out for an apparent "lack of hustle". I could go on, but B.J. Upton's name showed up so many times I began to feel bad for him.

So, how many white players showed up in the search results? One. That's it, just one. David Wright, and the item was on a silly fantasy news website, hardly a bastion of hard-hitting journalism. This was not a case of cherry-picking results to prove my point; no, I searched long and hard to find exceptions! Twenty-one black or Latino players were called out for "lack of hustle" by a writer and/or manager, versus just one white player. This is not a coincidence.

Are we to believe that David Wright is the only white player in the majors who had problems hustling? Has Adam Dunn never lollygagged? Did Cal Ripken run out every single infield grounder? Doubtful. Yet we never hear of managers or columnists calling out white guys for "lack of hustle".

Still, there is no reason to call out any single writer for leaning too hard on this simple, cliched phraseology. Nor is there any evidence that points to any single writer being a closet racist. Still, the evidence is vast: whenever the phrase "lack of hustle" is used, chances are the player is black or Latino. This is disturbing!

Besides, how are we to quantifiably measure "hustle", a quality that is merely subjective? To an old-timer, watching Brandon Phillips admire what he thought was a home run is "lack of hustle". To another, it was a mental lapse and lack of judgment. Phillips may not have busted his ass out of the box after the hit but he sure clobbered the heck out of that baseball. To say that the Reds lost the game because Phillips didn't properly "hustle" seems like a stretch, at best.

Brandon Phillips is human, and when he erred, he showed it. I was not inside Brandon's head when he smashed that baseball, but does anyone really think he thought, "Darn, I'm tired! Let me just trot a bit here so as not to exert too much energy!" No, he didn't run it out; perhaps it was half hubris and half misjudgment. But to attack his character with that horrid phrase smacks of prejudice.

"Hustle" is just as bad a measure of a player's character as it is a measure of his skill-set. If we, as baseball fans, constantly resurrect the ghost of Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle, every time the topic of hustle comes up, we are automatically discrediting the concept. Sure, Pete Rose was said to display hustle with his 'grit' and 'gumption' and 'moxie', but he also took a giant shit on the sanctity of the game, admitted it, and was banned from baseball for life. Perhaps he "hustled" when he played the game, but Pete Rose also "hustled" when he was rushing to place bets on his own damn team.

I say we do away with evaluating players based on something so unmeasurable and irrelevant as "hustle". Instead, let us look at ability, and character, and something we don't see on the playing field during game day: work ethic. Let us shed forever the phrase "lack of hustle" when talking about any player, regardless of race. It's pointless.

bobbycockscake.jpg

Longtime Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was honored on Capitol Hill yesterday prior to his Braves getting whomped by Livan Hernandez and the Nats; some Congressional staffer thought it would be funny to "accidentally" misspell his last name on the celebratory cake. The offices of Senator Johnny Isakson (R, Ga) are trying to blame the bakery but c'mon, the 11-year-old boy inside of me doesn't believe it. Also, he's thirsty and wants water.

Watson said she informed a Braves spokesperson of what happened. She wasn't sure if Cox ever was told.

And what happened to those pieces of cake that were cut out?

"We smeared the icing so you couldn't make out what it said," she said.

(photo swiped from the Jeff Schultz blog)

Less than a year after making the tender speech below in front of thousands of Tigers fans and millions of baseball fans across America, legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell died Tuesday at home at the age of 92. Please re-watch the video below if you've seen it before; if it's your first time, get a hankie ready.


Harwell had a charming, distinct Southern voice that could convert anyone into a Tigers supporter, he was a songwriter and a poet, he was an author and spun some of the most memorable imagery to the radio listener. But our mere tribute cannot even begin to honor the man; you must now go to the Detroit blog Roar of the Tigers to see the great tribute that Samara Pearlstein illustrated in honor of Ernie.

Finally, here is a passage from the Song of Solomon, from which both Ernie Harwell and "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz loved to quote when the beginning of the baseball season rolled around every year:

My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land;

Farewell, Ernie. You will be missed.

philliesfantasedbro.jpg

During the Phillies-Cardinals tilt last night, this young feller above chose the risk many consider but few take when he hopped over the wall and ran about the outfield. According to witnesses on the Tweetosphere, he didn't even get a chance to disrobe and urinate on second base before he was summarily tasered by an angry cop.

I'd feign shock that the police were allowed to use such devices on a mere streaker but then I recall the time last year when that old dude got tased at the A's game. Precedent: set. Video below:


(photo via TSNProducerTim and The 700 Level and the Stew and what the hey, The Fightins)

Because we are not afraid to be service-y and get you excited for August's HEIST in Pittsburgh (send me your money!), here is yet another PNC Park video board intro to the Pirates' popular mid-inning promotion that is the hot dog shoot (previously):


Covenant Church of Pittsburgh Ensemble, you've just won yourselves the entire day.

sexytrexy.jpg

While engaged in a recent discussion about the career credentials of longtime White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, the possibility arose that we might one day see Buehrle end up enshrined in Cooperstown. Why not, I said, he's got an interesting résumé: a ledger full of wins, a perfect game, a World Series ring, not to mention that time Buehrle once fought off a tyrannosaurus rex with his meaty fists of fury. Besides, it's the Hall of Fame, and Mark Buehrle is famous. The mere fact that folks are having discussions about his candidacy should be enough to get him in. I call that the "Jim Rice Rule".

But after doing a bit of research at Baseball-Reference.com, one learns that Buehrle's most similar pitcher over the course of his entire career is one Tom Browning. This similarity score, as calculated by Sean Forman based off Bill James' writings, only takes into account the most basic of stats (accumulation of wins, losses, ERA, strikeouts, etc) so let's investigate this comparison a bit more:

  • Both pitchers are lefties just a bit over six feet tall.

  • Both received Cy Young votes in only one year of their careers.

  • Both spent their careers playing for a flyover team and both won a single World Series ring.

  • Both threw a perfect game despite not being high strikeout pitchers.

It turns out Browning never made a big splash in the Hall of Fame election pool because he battled injuries late in his career, including that time in 1994 when he actually broke his freaking arm throwing a pitch. He retired a year later at age 35 after a brief comeback attempt with the Royals, but we can actually peg his career downfall to age 31, when he began to miss time with ouchies.

Prior to his age 31 season, Browning was 93-61 in his career for the Reds with an ERA+ of 103 and recorded twice as many strikeouts as walks. After that age 31 season, he was 30-29 and had a far worse ERA+ of 86; his strikeout number fell while his walk rate rose.

Mark Buehrle turned 31 in March and, including his second half slump that followed his magical perfect game last season, has since been down in the dumps. Prior to this season, he was 135-97 for the ChiSox with a boffo ERA+ of 122 and more than 2.5 times as many K's as BBs. This year? Not even including yesterday's flop in the Bronx, Buehrle sports an ERA+ of 93 and is not getting guys out with his cutter anymore.

PECOTA does no favors for Buehrle's future, either. It projects him to be at best a 2 WAR pitcher for a few years and then drop off into the replacement level chasm that swallowed up teammate Freddy Garcia in aught-seven. So, with Buehrle's contract due to expire after the 2011, the day might soon come when we are no longer privy to his fast-paced stylings and charming presence on the White Sox.

But don't let this comparison piece serve to bury Buehrle before his time is up. Unlike Browning, Buehrle has not yet shown any health issues. Will Carroll continually gives him the green light in his annual health risk roundup. After all, Buehrle's a hearty fellow who has never failed to reach 200 innings in a season. Perhaps a move to the NL to his beloved hometown Cardinals would be in order come 2012.

Recent struggles aside, can Buehrle revert to form and get back to being an all-consuming consumer of innings? Can he once again assert his husky stature on the mound and confuse batters with his tidy pace and mystifying cutter? Perhaps, but his chances of making the Hall of Fame one day won't improve if he can't get off the schneid. Watch out for that T-rex, big fella.



I am not sure who I am supposed to dislike in this video. Is it the 40,000+ fans engaging in what the narrator deems the first time he's ever seen The Wave at legendary Wrigley Field? Or is it the narrator himself who declares this to be the worst day in baseball history? Or is it Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans who unleashes a profanity-filled tirade at all parties involved and ends up insulting the entire baseball-going population of the North Side in the process? Or is the British, who call this demonstration "The Mexican Wave" in their gawky slang?

(via the good gentlefolks at Drunk Jays Fans)