I'm going to be out of town tonight and probably won't be able to update the website until late Tuesday or Wednesday Morning. Goodnight everybody, be good! (George Costanza)
With 2003 surprise Scott Podsednik struggling right now, I've been getting a lot of emails about him. Well, here's my take on him...
Podsednik is a career .270 (or somewhere in that neighborhood) hitter in the minor leagues. Last year he hit .314, I don't think anybody realistically thought he would have as good of a season this year as last. When I looked at the team I was hoping for a .270 AVG with about a .355 OBP. Right now, despite his struggles, he is pretty close to that right now. Remember, in all likelihood Pods is just a stop-gap for Dave Kryntzal or Tony Gwynn, Jr..
One thing that has concerned me a lot is how bad he has looked in the outfield lately. He misjudged four balls on this homestand, two on the ground in the gap and two high fly balls that he over ran and then came back to. I don't know if it's a situation where he's taking his offensive struggles out to the field with him or if he's just struggling all around. Podsednik has misjudged balls hit over his head in the past, but never at this rate.
MAN COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER SEX WITH HEN
"Now there is a hen, a rooster, and a chicken. The rooster has sex with the hen, so who has sex with the chicken?"-Frank Costanza
I received two emails asking me to comment on this. So this is for you Jeff in Houston and "Big Ben" in Whitefish Bay, WI.
"A 50-year-old Zambian man has hanged himself after his wife found him having sex with a hen, police said Friday.
The woman caught him in the act when she rushed into their house to investigate a noise."
Investigate the noise? I so want to know what that sounded like.
"He attempted to kill her but she managed to escape," a police spokesman said.
The man from the town of Chongwe, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Lusaka, killed himself after being admonished by other villagers.
The hen was slaughtered after the incident.
How romantic, it was almost like a Romeo and Juliet ending. Except with a hen and a man. And the guy committed suicide and the hen was slaughtered. Other than that it was exactly the same. Wow, what a story.
NCAA SOFTBALL ON ESPN
It's that time of year again. A time when UCLA, Stanford, USC and a bunch of other schools dominate the airwaves because of their women's softball teams. I never understood how women's softball works. Every game is 1-0 with like four hits between the two teams, but then every time somebody comes to bat they're hitting .500. It doesn't make any sense. I wonder if that big girl from UCLA is still in the tournament, she hit some serious bombs last year. Maybe Montreal could use her, I think they need a power bat in the lineup somewhere. Nevermind, they probably couldn't afford to sign her.
PADRES (26-21, 1st, 0 GB) AT BREWERS (24-21, 4th, 2 GB) PREVIEW
The San Diego Padres make their only visit to Miller Park this season. Some old faces like Mark Loretta and Jeff Cirillo return, as well as former TV broadcaster Matt Vasgersian. The Padres have taken over first-place in the NL West because of the faltering Dodgers.
C- Ramon Hernandez
Friday, 7:05 CDT
SD- Brian Lawrence (6-3, 4.80 ERA)
MIL-Doug Davis (3-3, 3.65 ERA)
Saturday, 6:05 CDT
SD- Dennis Tankersly (0-0, 6.00 ERA)
MIL-Wes Obermueller (2-1, 7.64 ERA)
Sunday, 1:05 CDT
SD- Ishmael Valdez (3-2, 5.32 ERA)
MIL- Victor Santos (2-1, 3.90 ERA)
I had to say something about this. Ramblin' Al Bethke, who has been brought to most people's attention for his staunch defense of Bud Selig and for his criticism of David Pinto, recently said this about last night's Brewers victory over the Dodgers...
"I'm still trying to get over Ben Grieve swinging...
...at a 2-0 pitch
...with the bases loaded
...at a pitch that may well have been Ball 3
I know he hit it at a phenomonal [sic] pace, and if it wasn't directly at the 1B, it would have won the game. I just can't see swinging at that pitch. Worst case, it's 2-1, and you're sitting on a hitter's count."
Why swing at a 2-0 pitch in that situation? Why not take a strike and be 2-1? I'll tell you why. HE'S A MAJOR LEAGUE HITTER! That is why. Hitting is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports, so perhaps that pitch was a bit out of the zone. Keep in mind that he did hit an absolute seed, and only because it was right at the first baseman did the run not score. With the bases loaded and a 2-0 count you know that the pitcher is trying to throw a strike. Grieve got the pitch he was looking for and smashed it. If he takes a strike now the count is 2-1 and you can't afford to sit on one pitch/one zone with two outs and the winning run on third. Would you take 3-1 because "if you take a pitch the count is still in your favor"?
People who have read this site in the past know how I feel about "SABR Quixotics". Just because you read Moneyball and read a Rob Neyer column here and there does not make you qualified to be a big league manager or general manager.
If you've never stepped in the box against a decent level of pitching you probably can't understand what it is like. It goes back to the difference between playing to win and playing to not lose. A hitter never goes up to the plate looking to walk (well not a good one). A walk can be the result of a good at-bat, but not the desire of one.
BREWERS 2, DODGERS 1
I'm writing this at about 10am, which can only mean one thing: It's get-away day at the ballpark today. Before I go to the stadium this morning, I thought I'd do a little review of last night's game.
Chris Capuano pitched well until he had tightness in his triceps which caused him to leave the game early. The bullpen pitched incredibly well. Mike Adams, Jeff Bennett, Brooks Kieschnick, Dan Kolb, Luis Vizcaino and Matt Kinney all held the Dodgers scoreless after Capuano left.
Last night was my first interaction with the 2004 Brewers. Sitting in the bullpen last night I noticed a much different energy amongst the club. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that they are playing good ball, but some of it I think could be that maybe they just have a bunch of good guys. I know it might not make a significant difference in the win/loss column, but it's nice to know that the team you like isn't made up of a bunch of jerks.
Sorry I was a little brief with the analysis, but waking up before noon is rough for me since I'm still acclimated to the whole west-coast time thing.
UPDATE ON "PITCHING TO CONTACT"
I wrote about pitching to contact yesterday (see Cincinatti's Pitching Philosophy). This one statement has brought up some questions.
"Even though the emphasis is on letting the batters put the ball into play, you can see that all the pitchers are still above the minimum of 4.5 K/9 in order that, unless you're named Mark Fidrych, is necessary to be effective."
Where did the figure 4.5 K/9 come from? I'll try to explain that right now.
This is from Bill James...
"If a pitcher's strikeout rate is less than 4.5 per
nine innings, you can pretty much write him off as
somebody who is going to have a real career."
The next part goes into a little more detail.
"Could there be an exception to the rule?...If there
were an exception to the rule it would probably be a
Kent Tekulve-type pitcher who threw underhanded or
low-sidearm and never walked anybody. Why is this
true? There are really two ways to explain it. One is
that batting average against a pitcher is inversely
related to his strikeout rate. If a pitcher's
strikeouts are low, the batting average against him
will be high.
Up to a certain point, a pitcher can contend with a
high batting average against him by doing other things
well--but only up to a point. Beyond that point, no
matter how well he does other things, he's going to
lose. That point, in modern baseball, is about 4.5
strikeouts per nine innings."
That is my bad for not explaining how I came to a conclusion, I should know better. Thanks to everybody for keeping me in check.
I'M AS JOBER AS A SUDGE?
A judge in Louisiana was kicked off the bench for repeatedly showing up hammered to court (full article here).
Repeatedly showing up drunk? showing up to court sloshed out of your skull ONCE isn't enough to get you removed from the bench? You have to do it more than once?!?!
"Doggett claimed that since he was re-elected after his alcoholism was made public, his constituents were aware of his problem and did not care.
But the high court said a judge can be disciplined for violating the code of office, "even if his constituency condones such behavior."
The courtroom can be kind of a boring place. I would bet that having a few (dozen) drinks would bring the excitement level up a bit. Of course the voters in this district didn't mind that their judge was drunk on the job, going to court must have been a party.
"District Judge Monty L. Doggett issued arrest warrants when he was too drunk to read them, was sometimes so intoxicated that court had to be canceled and once had to be carried out of his courtroom by deputies, the Louisiana Supreme Court said in its unanimous ruling Tuesday."
I don't even have to write a joke, this is funny enough on it's own.
Some of you may be aware of the battle between David Pinto at BaseballMusings.com and two other guys, Al Bethke of albethke.blogspot.com and some guy named Shawn. Some of you have written asking for my take on the situation, so here it is.
I think this whole thing is pretty stupid. Is it going to turn into a west coast vs. east coast rapper-like thing? It's one thing to challenge another writer's idea or question the validity of his statements, but quite another to criticize his entire site. If any of us wanted to, we could go through the thousands of baseball blogs and write about how bad they are, since like I'm fond of saying, "all it takes to get a blog is a computer and a pulse". The point is that any jackass can type what he thinks. Pinto's site has been top notch for years now, and like many of you, I was first introduced to the baseball blogosphere through his site. I still think it is one of the best out there, and maybe his writing has slipped a little recently, but that's how things go sometimes. Everybody has slumps. Sometimes they last a week, sometimes they last a few months (ask Derek Jeter), or sometimes they last a life-time (ask the Los Angeles Clippers).
Attack the idea, not the person. That is what it comes down to. I hope everybody agrees with me or else they are stupid and ugly.
DODGERS 5, BREWERS 3
Last night was my first time seeing the Brewers in person this season. Unfortunately they lost to the Dodgers. It's amazing what happens when a team has an automatic closer and virtually automatic set-up man. I knew if they didn't have the lead after seven they had a very slim chance of winning the game.
Watching KAZ ISHII pitch might be the most frustrating thing in the world. He works so slow, throws at least six pitches to every hitter, and when you're a fan of the other team it's even worse because he gets out of so many jams. He walked 6, gave up four hits in 4 2/3 IP and only allowed two runs to score. He threw 100 pitches in that 4 2/3. Unbelievable.
COREY HART made his MLB debut and struck out. He hit a long foul ball down the left-field line that just hooked foul. Then he got the loudest standing ovation after a foul-ball in MLB history.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (23-19) AT MILWAUKEE BREWERS (22-20)
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have lost nine of their last ten, are in Milwaukee for the final series of their nine-game road trip. They have looked like the LA Dodgers of 2003, scoring only 2.6 runs per game in their last ten. This will be my first look at the Brewers in person tonight, so I look forward to seeing them get 3 games over .500 for the first time this season.
C- Paul Lo Duca
LA- C Todd Hundley (back, 15-day DL); OF Dave Roberts (right hamstring, 15-day DL); RP Paul Shuey (right thumb, 15-day DL); OF Jayson Werth (strained oblique, 15-day DL)
Tuesday, 7:05 CDT
LA- Kaz Ishii (5-3, 3.88 ERA)
MIL-Victor Santos (2-0, 3.12 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:05 CDT
LA- Odalis Perez (2-3, 3.32 ERA)
MIL-Chris Capuano (1-2, 3.46 ERA)
Thursday, 12:05 CDT
LA- Jeff Weaver (3-5, 4.92 ERA)
MIL-Ben Sheets (4-3, 2.86 ERA)
How the teams stack up...
LA - 185 (24th)
MIL- 207 (17th)
LA - .331 (19th)
MIL- .331 (19th)
LA - .428 (13th)
MIL- .412 (20th)
LA - .759 (16th)
MIL- .743 (21st)
LA - 48 (13th)
MIL- 41 (22nd)
LA - 25 (12th)
MIL- 31 (6th)
LA - 182 (6th)
MIL- 209 (18th)
LA - 4.18 (13th)
MIL- 4.34 (16th)
LA - 282 (11th)
MIL- 290 (9th)
LA - 155 (23rd)
MIL- 143 (13th)
LA - 46 (12th)
MIL- 44 (9th)
CINCINNATI'S PITCHING PHILOSOPHY
BUSTER OLNEY of ESPN.com wrote this article about the Cincinnati Reds' philosophy of "pitching to contact".
The idea of "pitching to contact" is a good one. In general, it can be more efficient to get hitters out with two or three pitches than with five or six. And as my dad always said to me when I pitched "you can't get strike three without getting strike one and two first." It's a rather simplistic statement but actually makes a great deal of sense when you think about it. The theory of "pitching to contact" really sounds deceiving, because if done right the end result still has a lot of strikeouts. I always felt that it was more of a psychological trick to get pitchers to stop nibbling on the corners and to not be afraid to go after hitters. If you look at the 4 Reds pitchers with the most starts, you'll see what I mean.
Even though the emphasis is on letting the batters put the ball into play, you can see that all the pitchers are still above the minimum of 4.5 K/9 in order that, unless you're named Mark Fidrych, is necessary to be effective.
The Reds now find themselves in first place in the NL Central, but whether or not their starting pitching can hold up remains to be seen.
RICHIE SEXSON MAY BE OUT FOR THE YEAR
RICHIE SEXSON rushed back from his first injury to his left-shoulder and managed to hurt it again, which will now probably cost him the rest of the season (article here). In one part you have to respect a guy who is trying his hardest to get back on the field and help his team, but on the other hand it was quite ignorant of Sexson to try to come back in three weeks from an injury that some said should have originally cost him the entire season. There is always a fine line between toughness and ignorance.
I appologize for how much I have been slacking lately. The truth is that I have actually been quite busy since I returned home. Tomorrow I will return to my usual workload on ATG. Thank you for your patience.
THE DEMISE OF DEREK JETER?
Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote this article about Derek Jeter's lack of plate discipline. He notes that out of Jeter's 159 at-bats this season, 54 (about one-third) have been resolved in the first two pitches.
The demise of Jeter is something that I have been predicting for a year or two now. Well, demise is a strong word, more of a decline is what I predicted. Check out Derek Jeter's OPS over the past few seasons.
1996... .800, 10 HR
1997... .775, 10 HR
1998... .865, 19 HR
1999... .990, 24 HR
2000... .897, 15 HR
2001... .857, 21 HR
2002... .794, 18 HR
2003... .843, 10 HR
2004... .541, 3 HR (171 ABs)
Players rarely decline five or six consecutive seasons. When I look at Jeter's numbers since 1999 I see his OPS declining three seasons in a row, and then him improving a little in 2003, but still nowhere near his best season in 1999. Nobody could have predicted Jeter to be hitting under .200 in mid-May, but I felt strongly that he would have a "disappointing" season in many people's eyes. Whether or not Jeter hitting, say 15 HR with a .340 OBP and .430 SLG in 2004 is actually disappointing, given the trend he is on remains to be seen.
MILWAUKEE (21-19) AT PITTSBURGH (18-20) PREVIEW
The Milwaukee Brewers, who took two of three from the San Juan/Montreal Expos look to exercise their demons in beautiful PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. The Brewers have struggled since PNC opened a few years back, with a 9-20 record there. My hope for this series is at least a win of the series, and maybe the Crew can get a sweep.
C- Jason Kendall
SS-Jack Wilson (Brewer Killer)
Friday, 6:05 CDT
MIL- Ben Sheets (4-2, 2.90 ERA)
PIT- Josh Fogg (1-4, 7.75 ERA)
Saturday, 6:05 CDT
MIL- Wes Obermueller (2-1, 7.64 ERA)
PIT- Kip Wells (3-4, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday, 12:05 CDT
MIL- Doug Davis (3-3, 4.04 ERA)
PIT- Kris Benson (3-3, 4.62 ERA)
Milwaukee- Chris Capuano (15-day DL, left quadriceps), Ben Ford (15-day DL, right shoulder), Wes Helms (15-day DL, knee)
Pittsburgh-Freddy Sanchez (15-day DL, right ankle surgery), Randall Simon (15-day DL, left hamstring), J.J. Davis (15-day DL, finger)
How the teams stack up...MLB Rank in parenthasis
RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM A 2,400 MILE DRIVE HOME
I'm back, bitches.
I finally got home yesterday at about 9am on my drive from Santa Barbara, CA to Milwaukee, WI. Here are some completely random thoughts...
The first sign when you enter Missouri on I-40 East says "Attractions at the next exit" and there is nothing listed on the sign.
"PORN RUINS LIVES" is my favorite billboard in Missouri. It's somewhat ironic because Missouri has a ton of "adult" stores all along the highway.
Albuquerque is a beautiful city under the cover of darkness. It's kind of like an ugly girl...She can be absolutely beautiful with the lights off. When you drive up to Albuquerque from the west on I-40 the lights look magnificent in the night, but then when you wake up in the daytime there are junk-yards everywhere. It's like waking up to some girl the next morning and thinking "wow she was way hotter when I fell asleep". Albuquerque easily has the most junk-yards per-capita in the world.
Is it a requirement that every tow-truck driver in the world be absolutely crazy? I wonder if it's also a pre-requisite to have a maximum of 25 teeth and a mullet.
Another interesting billboard was "Last McDonalds in Texas". I wonder if that scares people into eating there. Whenever a sign in Texas tells me to do something I just imagine a posse of Josh Beckett, Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan wearing cowboy jeans, flannel shirts and cowboy hats all with huge chews of tobacco in their mouths coming after me if I don't comply.
"Don't Mess With Texas-No Littering $1000 Fine"
If you were knocked out and woke up in the rural areas of eastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas or Oklahoma you would have no way of distinguishing them. They all look the same.
My prediction of Jeromy Burnitz hitting 40 homeruns may come true.
When a billboard says "Good Coffee" in quotations like that, it makes me think that there's something up with the coffee. I don't understand the need for quotations on that unless it's filled with goat semen or something.
Contrary to my personal belief, the Texas Highway Patrol do not wear big belt buckles with the state of Texas on them.
The 1994 Ford Explorer is the worst automobile ever. Whenever I drive more than an hour in that thing the dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree. It totally gets into my head too. Every time I hear a little noise I think something is breaking inside the truck. Can you blame me though? That thing has broken down on my 3 of 5 times on long-distance trips.
Upon filling up at a gas station in Flagstaff, AZ, I saw so many mullets and cowboy hats that I didn't know what to do with myself.
Okay, that is all for this post. I should return with some actually baseball analysis now that I got this out of the way.
BREWERS DROP TWO IN A ROW TO THE BRAVES
The Brewers had an enormous walk-up crowd for Friday night's game but lost 2-0 in a well played game. Victor Santos pitched really well as did Horacio Ramirez. Luis Vizcaino gave up back-to-back jacks to JD Drew (Brewer Killer) and Chipper Jones, which ended up being the difference in the game.
Saturday night the Brewers lost 11-6 to Atlanta. This game was the antithesis of Friday night's well played, pitchers duel. Both starting pitchers, Matt Kinney (1-3) and Russ Ortiz were all over the place and didn't get past the second inning. The Braves bullpen kept the Brewers in check while the Milwaukee pen struggled a bit.
Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones had a nasty collision, which resulted in Giles being injured (more on that later). From the replay it looked like Jones never said anything, which would mean that the collision was his fault. The infielder is told to go after the ball until he hears the outfielder call him off. Jones never said anything but continued to pursuit the ball, which ran him right into Giles.
From viewing the collision, you could tell that Giles got completely smoked in the collision. His neck whipped back when he made contact with Jones and he flew completely back and landed on the ground. Giles ended up with a broken right collarbone, mild-concussion and a bruised right hand. He will be out six-to-eight weeks. Giles walked off the field under his own power. I thought to myself, 'what if this had happened in a soccer game'? You know a guy with a broken collarbone, mild-concussion and bruised right hand would roll around on the ground screaming in agony for a while, then be put onto a stretcher and placed into an ambulance. Hell, just the bruised hand would probably send the average soccer player into a Vince Carter-esque display. Anyway, major props to Marcus Giles for showing some toughness.
It seems like whenever the Brewers draw a few big crowds they lose. I remember a few years ago they were something like 1-15 when they had a crowd over forty-four thousand. I don't really have any evidence of this, so maybe it's just a perceptual thing with me.
I will be driving from Santa Barbara to Milwaukee starting tomorrow morning, so I won't be updating until Tuesday or Wednesday. Thanks a lot to everybody who reads, and have a nice couple of days.
ATLANTA (15-18) AT MILWAUKEE (18-16) PREVIEW
The Brewers are coming off of a sweep of Montreal. They have won 5 of their last 6 and look to take advantage of a struggling Atlanta Braves club. After years of predicting the demise of the Braves, this looks like it'll finally be the year the Braves don't win the NL East. The all-time series is at 30-13 in favor of Atlanta.
C- Johnny Estrada
1B- Adam LaRoche
2B- Marcus Giles
SS- Rafael Furcal
3B- Jesse Garcia
LF- Chipper Jones
CF- Andruw Jones
RF- JD Drew
Friday, 7:05 CDT
ATL- Horacio Ramirez (0-3, 2.75 ERA)
MIL- Victor Santos (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday, 6:05 CDT
ATL- Russ Ortiz (3-4, 4.42 ERA)
Sunday, 1:05 CDT
ATL- Jaret Wright (2-3, 3.38 ERA)
MIL- Ben Sheets (3-2, 3.24 ERA)
There was an article on ESPN.com today about changing the rules to prevent intentional walks. I don't think there should be any change to the rules. What do you think?
Thanks for the email Alex. I agree with you, I don't think you can change the rules. I have a solution for this problem, how about the Giants get a better hitter than JT Snow or Pedro Feliz hitting behind Bonds, then he wouldn't get walked as much. If Bonds had say a Richie Sexson (who they were pursuing in the off-season) he would still get walked, but definitely not as much.
Whats up man,
Have you seen that ESPN short thing on Sportscenter? "The Scout" or whatever it is called. Did you see when it turned into a blatant advertisement for Craftsman riding mowers?
Ha ha, yeah I did see that. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, ESPN has been running this thing called "The Scout" under the heading of an "ESPN Short" which makes me fear that there will be more of these. Anyway, it starts out where it's supposed to be kind of sad that this old scout can't find any new talent and stuff. He is at a field watching some pud throw 70 MPH fastballs and starts talking to a kid who is cutting the outfield grass. Eventually it turns into him wanting to bring the kid to the big leagues as the head groundskeeper (kind of the LeBron James of agriculture I suppose) and there is a line like "when I saw you driving that Craftsman mower, the way it handled so well in the outfield" or something to that nature. It was just ridiculous, it turned into a commercial. ESPN is such a joke now, but unfortunately there is no worthy competition at this time.
I love the website. Are you encouraged by the Brewers play so far this season? They started out playing some pretty tough teams and are still near .500. I think they might be able to finish .500 this season.
Kevin in Franklin, WI
Well right now the Brewers are at 18-16 after a sweep of Montreal. Yeah, Montreal sucks, but they did what a good team is supposed to do to a bad team, which is at the very least win the series. I still don't think the pitching will hold up long enough for them to finish .500, but they should be close. I hope they can do it though, the city and the fans deserve it.
Thanks for the emails, keep them coming.
CUBS 7, DODGERS 3 at Dodger Stadium
This is what you call a bad inning...
Aramis Ramirez single to center
Todd Hollandsworth walk, Ramirez to second.
Derrek Lee walk, Ramirez to third, Hollandsworth to second.
Ramon Martinez walk, Ramirez scores, Hollandsworth to third, Lee to second.
Paul Bako single, Hollandsworth scores, Lee to third, Martinez to second.
Carlos Zambrano fielders choice (1 out), Lee scores, Martinez to third, Bako to second.
Tom Goodwin single, Martinez scores, Bako to second.
***Jose Lima relieves Hideo Nomo.***
Jose Macias flys out (2 out).
Moises Alou doubles, Bako scores, Goodwin scores.
Aramis Ramirez strikes out looking (3 out).
Inning recap...10 men sent to the plate, 6 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks.
Well, on the bright side for the Dodgers JOSE LIMA pitched well in a mop up role (5 2/3 IP, 7 Hits, 1 BB, 3 K).
CARLOS freaking ZAMBRANO continued to look dominant on the hill. He threw 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (unearned) and struck out 11 while walking 2. His ERA sits now at 1.82. This from the guy who is supposed to be the Cubs' number 4 or 5 starter. MARK PRIOR is looking to comeback around June 1st is the word. The NL Central race between Houston and Chicago should be pretty intense, hopefully it doesn't get ruined by the wild-card.
MILTON BRADLEY had a particularly awful day. He struck out swinging in his first three at-bats. On his third at-bat he struck out to end the inning and let the bat go on the plate. Then he took his helmet off and set it down and removed his batting gloves and put them inside of the helmet. After that little display he proceeded to walk the ENTIRE WAY out to centerfield. I would describe his pace as "sauntering". In his fourth at-bat he rolled over to first-base and actually sprinted hard down the line and ran through the bag. He then ran all the way back to the dugout. I don't know if somebody said something to him about his actions his previous time at-bat, or if he took it upon himself to hustle but maybe it's a sign that Milton Bradley is at least trying to change.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT, PADRES 2, REDS 1 AT PETCO
In the heart of downtown San Diego, Petco Park is so nice that it almost makes you forget about the shameless corporate sponsor for a name. Downtown San Diego is actually really nice, I was a little thrown off by the bailbonds place nextdoor to the check cashing place, even at one point calling downtown SD a "ghetto in denial" but as I got close to the stadium I realized it is actually really nice. There are trolley's available to go to the stadium from the various parking structures but for whatever reason it was way to complicated to figure out, so the ten minute walk was made instead.
The park itself is really nice. I'm a big fan of the Western Metal Supply Company building in left field. I like the way the park plays too. The gaps are nice and deep, which is definitely a change of pace from the way most of the newer parks are being built. Despite how "impossible" it is to hit a homerun, BRIAN GILES managed to hit one in the first-inning. The air definitely got cool as the night progressed, but once it gets deeper into summer that air off the ocean shouldn't be as cold or heavy.
DAVE MILEY (yes, apparently he's the manager for the Reds) made a move that I completely disagreed with, even though it sort of worked out. Down 2 to 1 in the top of the 7th, Corey Lidle was leading off. Lidle had a really low pitch-count (in fact he only threw 85 pitches in 8 innings), but with OTSUKA (who lowered his ERA to 1.00 Wednesday night) and TREVOR HOFFMAN coming in, letting Lidle lead off against SCOTT LINEBRINK is foolish. There is a big difference in that situation between being ahead a run and being behind a run. As I voiced my disgust for Miley's decision to let Lidle hack, wouldn't you know that he lined a single to right-field. This goes back to my belief that just because a move works, doesn't mean it is the right one. The next batter hit into a double-play, so perhaps the Baseball Gods were trying to send a message to the Cincinnati manager.
Is anybody else amazed by Trevor Hoffman? The guy lives in the mid 80s now with his fastball and continues to blow Major League hitters away with it because of his changeup. He pretty much only throws a fastball/change combination, but it just makes hitters look ridiculous a lot of times.
In conclusion, Petco Park is nice and in the heart of downtown San Diego. Don't get tricked into thinking that it's 5 miles away from Tijuana like some people do, because the park really can be difficult to see sometimes.
I'm going to be really busy and out of town a lot over the next few days so I won't be updating Against the Grain until probably Friday morning. Have a good time until then.
BREWERS WIN ANOTHER THRILLER, 8-5 IN 14 INNINGS
The ESPN.com article after the game contains this...
"Sheets (3-3) gave up two earned runs and seven hits over eight innings in losing his third straight decision. He had one intentional walk and struck out four. Sheets hasn't won since April 20 despite an ERA of 3.34 over his last four starts."
Some writer who wanted to get home early had his work all done and was just waiting for that final out in the ninth to submit his work. Who could blame him? The Brewers were getting mowed down by LIVAN HERNANDEZ, and it was 5-0 heading into the bottom of nine. One problem for that writer, however. The Brewers didn't make that third out in the ninth until they scored 5 runs to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The Brewers ninth went like this...
Ginter fly out to center (1 out). Jenkins solo HR, 5-1 Expos. Overbay strikes out looking (2 outs). Helms walks. Grieve singles to right, Helms to second. (Biddle relieves Hernandez). Moeller singles to center, Helms scores, Grieve to second. 5-2 Expos. Kieschnick bats for Jeff Bennett. Kieschnick doubles, Grieve scores, Moeller to third. 5-3 Expos. Podsednik singles to center, Moeller and Kieschnick score, 5-5. (Bentz relieves Biddle). Counsell walks, Podsednik to second. (L Ayala relieves Bentz). Ginter strikes out looking.
An interesting fact is that the Brewers had the winning run on-base six innings in a row, starting with Podsednik in the ninth.
The game finally came to a close in the 14th. With one out Jenkins singled. Overbay extended his hitting streak to twelve games by singling Jenkins to third. WES HELMS just had to put the ball in play deep and he did that by hitting a towering shot to left-center for his 2nd homerun of the season and an 8-5 Brewers victory. The Crew is now sitting comfortably at .500 (16-16)
KEITH GINTER had a particularly awful night. He went 0-7 with 4 K's, three looking and saw his average drop to .235. He also made a crucial error that led to two runs in the sixth. Games this bad may stand out in a managers head, especially when it's a guy that is fighting for playing time that has it. From my own experience, I know that managers, coaches, fans or anybody watching a baseball game hate seeing a guy strikeout looking. It gives the impression that he's not trying or that he sucks really bad. I'm not saying that it's true or that it is right for people to perceive a player's actions as such, but that's just the reality of it all. NED YOST seems like a patient guy, so he might just brush it off as 'one of those days' for KG.
BEN SHEETS went 8 innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits, one walk and struck out four. His ERA is now sitting at 3.24, despite his mediocre record. JEFF BENNETT and his flat-brim (dude, that's cool when you're skateboarding, not when you're pitching in the Major Leagues) gave up a two-run jack to BRIAN SCHNEIDER in the top of the ninth to make it 5-0 Expos. DAN KOLB threw a shutout inning, and Luis Vizcaino struck out the side in a scoreless frame. MATT WISE, who was just called up, threw two shutout innings while striking out three. The win went to DAVE BURBA (3-0), who threw a shutout inning in the 14th.
A lot of people discount comeback wins as "just another win". While true, it only counts as one win, there is a psychological aspect to it that can help a team out. After all, these are humans playing the game, not robots. You can't tell me that blowing a 5-run lead in the ninth is "just another loss" or that having an exciting, improbable comeback victory is "just another win". I'm sorry, I'm not buying it.
Top prospect JJ HARDY will most likely miss the rest of the 2004 season because of a dislocated left-shoulder. This is the third time Hardy's left-shoulder has slipped out of place. He is going to get a second opinion before deciding to undergo surgery. This might set back some of the optimism surrounding the Brewers farm system. I think that people have forgotten that all prospects don't pan out. I'm not saying that JJ Hardy still won't be a solid player, but that the odds of Hardy, PRINCE FIELDER, RICKIE WEEKS, BEN HENDRICKSON, DAVE KRYNZLE, COREY HART, BRAD NELSON, MIKE JONES, JORGE DE LA ROSA (okay you get the idea) all paning out are very slim.
'NECKS IN KENTUCKY OPPOSE LAW BANNING JUNKED CARS IN THEIR LAWNS
Opponents have raised such a ruckus that Letcher County leaders appear to be backing away from the measure, which also would require people to cut noxious weeds like poison ivy and thistles from their yards.
Judge-Executive Carroll Smith said Friday the proposed ordinance has stalled midway through the legislative process and will likely not make it into law.
"We're trying to clean this place up and make it more presentable so that we can generate more tourism," Cleveland said. "If I came into Letcher County and there were junk cars everywhere, trash everywhere, why would I want to come back?"
Wait, hold on. Who wants to vacation in Letcher County, Kentucky in the first place? "Hey kids, where do you want to go this summer? Disneyland? Florida? No? Okay, how about Letcher County, Kentucky? Great, let's load up the RV"
"Why would I want to come back?" "Why would I want to go there in the first place" is the real question.
They're just so darned independent that they don't want anyone telling them what they can do on their property," Fleming said. "No matter where you go, you will find people with junk cars. The way they see it, it's their property and it's their car, and nobody should tell them they can't have it."
I understand people not wanting the government to get in their way and tell them what to do and stuff. But come on, if that rusted up 1986 Escort has been sitting in your lawn for the past twelve years, maybe it's time to get rid of it. If it hasn't started up since the Reagan administration, odds are it won't start up now.
Full article is here.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS (15-16) @ MONTREAL/SAN JUAN EXPOS (10-22)
The Montreal Expos have the worst record in the National League. The Brewers return for a six-game homestand vs. le Expos and the Atlanta Braves. It would be nice for the Brew Crew to win both of these series. Hopefully the day off won't stop Lyle Overbay from absolutely raking. He is 20 for his last 40 and is now second in the NL in RBI (31) and leads the NL in extra base hits with 21.
C- Brian Schneider
Tuesday, 7:05 CDT
MON-Livan Hernandez (2-2, 2.94)
MIL-Ben Sheets (3-2, 3.43)
Wednesday, 7:05 CDT
MON-Zach Day (2-3, 3.18)
MIL-Wes Obermueller (1-1, 8.28)
Thursday, 1:05 CDT
MON-Sunny Kim (2-0, 2.14)
MIL-Doug Davis (2-2, 4.75)
BYUNG-HYUN KIM OUT OF BOSTON ROTATION
BH Kim got roughed up by Cleveland yesterday, allowing 4 earned runs and 2 runs that were un-earned because he crossed up catcher Jason Varitek. The Boston fans let Kim hear what they thought of his performance the whole night as well. You may remember that last season while Kim was booed in a pre-game introductions after struggling on the mound and he flipped off the Boston crowd. Not a good play in any city, but especially in Boston. The Red Sox eventually kept him off of the roster for the ALCS last season. It's amazing how a guy with such electric stuff can struggle as a starter. Bronson Arroyo will take Kim's spot in the rotation.
I'm not going to bore everybody with my stratomatic team's problems, but I wanted to discuss the 'clutch hitting' rating in the game. Rob Neyer wrote this article a while back about how 'clutch' hitting doesn't exist, or at the very least cannot be proven (a very good read). Anyway, because I'm incredibly frustrated by my stratomatic team's performance (13-16, 1.5 out of first) I decided to do some research of my own regarding my team.
I wrote this in the form name then season average/clutch average and difference between the two in parenthesis. The information is from the past three seasons.
Bobby Abreu .289/.275 (-14) .308/.289 (-17) .300/.330 (+30)
Lance Berkman .331/.300 (-31) .292/.301 (+9) .288/.264 (-22)
Corey Koskie .276/.255 (-19) .267/.250 (-17) .292/.261 (-31)
Carlos Gullen n/a .259/.259 (Even).276/.266 (-10)
Bernie Williams .307/.251 (-56) .333/.337 (+4) .263/.244 (-19)
Craig Wilson .310/.305 (-5) .264/.245 (-19) .262/.236 (-26)
Matt LeCroy .425/.443 (+18) .260/.264 (+4) .287/.333 (+46)
Wes Helms .222/.226 (+4) .243/.217 (-36) .261/.219 (-42)
Ramon Vazquez n/a .274/.248 (-32) .261/.205 (-56)
Carlos Baerga n/a .286/.237 (-49) .343/.377 (+34)
So apparently Matt LeCroy is clutch as hell, while Bernie Williams figured out how to be clutch in 2002 but didn't know how to be in 2001 and 2003. Same with Lance Berkman. My favorite is Carlos Baerga, who was out of baseball for two seasons and was pretty weak in the 'clutch' in 2003 but all of a sudden figured out how to be clutch at the age of 87 or however old he is.
As for how this relates to Stratomatic, the game's manual describes the clutch hitting rating as...
Strat-O-Matic's exclusive clutch hitting formula measures the outcome of every baserunner that the batter affected during the year. This detailed approach provides a true measurement of the batter's clutch hitting ability. Our system is implemented with 2 outs and runners in scoring position because in real-life that is traditionally the most difficult time to "come through" with a base hit. If the batter fails, there are no more chances to drive in those runners. Most batters will see their average go down in the clutch -- both in real-life and with our system.
Breaking down a 500 at-bat season (or sometimes less than 200 at-bats) to 2 outs with runners in scoring position is an arbitrary division, just like batting average on Tuesdays or homeruns hit in the first game of the series. My team is loaded with OBP type guys (Abreu, Sweeney, Berkman, Koskie to name a few). So because a lot of them have low 'clutch' ratings my team is essentially being punished for hitting with runners on base. To quote A.W.E.S.O.M-O from South Park "lame".
HALL OF FAME DEBATE: GRIFFEY JR. VS. THE BIG HURT
With Ken Griffey, Jr. closing in on 500 homeruns I thought it would be fun to open up the debate on the Hall of Fame credentials for two of the most dominating players in the 1990s, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas. I will say that I don't think 500 HRs is an automatic ticket to Cooperstown anymore, because in the next 5 to 10 years there are going to be a ton of players to pass up that mark. Frank Thomas should get extra points in this debate because of his nickname, "The Big Hurt" is a very good one.
(All numbers up until the start of the 2004 season)
Ken Griffey Jr.
10 Gold Gloves
1997 AL MVP
4 AL Homerun titles
324 Career Win Shares
36 Win Shares (best season)
29.6 AVG Win Shares (best 5 consecutive seasons)
Black Ink = 26(AVG HOFer = 27)
Gray Ink = 153(AVG HOFer = 144)
Ken Griffey Jr., was a great players in the 1990s. The fact that his career has taken a nosedive in the past few years hurts him a lot in the Hall of Fame debate. If he would have started out injury plagued and then put together his best seasons afterwards he would have a much stronger case for the Hall in many other people's minds. His 10 Gold Gloves boost his stock immensely, in my opinion. With 4 Homerun titles and an MVP he has a strong case for the Hall, much stronger than most people probably realized.
1993, 1994 AL MVP
1997 Batting title
Lead league in OBP and OPS 4 times
347 Career Win Shares
39 Win Shares (best season)
29 AVG Win Shares (best 5 consecutive seasons)
Black Ink = 21 (AVG HOFer = 27)
Gray Ink = 189 (AVG HOFer = 144)
Frank Thomas is an OBP machine. His career OBP of .428 and career OPS of .996 are both 10th all-time in the history of baseball. He had some monster seasons in the 90's, hitting over .300 ten times in his career and posting OBPs above .400 nine times. Thomas seemed to have been on his way down at 31 but then had a few more good seasons. He really surprised people with his 2003 campaign as well.
Griffey Jr. vs. Frank Thomas
I have a feeling that the Hall of Fame is going to become very crowded in the next ten to fifteen years as people continue to evaluate players from the 90s and 00s the same way that they evaluated players from the 60s and 70s. Obviously what these two players do with the rest of their careers will have a big influence on their case for a Hall of Fame bid, but for the purpose of debate let's only take into account what they have done pre-2004. With that being said, which player has had a better career is a very intriguing debate. Does Griffey make up for his lower OPS because of his defense? That is basically the question when considering which player has the best case for the Hall of Fame.
SEATTLE IS HURTING
BILL BOVASI, GM of Seattle, went off on how minor league statistics are meaningless about a week ago has done his best job to run the Seattle Mariners into the ground. Don't forget that he tried to trade Carlos Guillen for Omar Vizquel in the off-season. The Mariners have lost Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez in the past 5 seasons. They lost Mike Cameron this off-season and essentially replaced him with Raul Ibanez (and by moving Randy Winn to center). I don't think Seattle is as bad as they have been playing, but expecting anything better than 84 wins or so is a stretch, this team just isn't that good.
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES FOR ANAHEIM
The Angels just finished up a 7-0 homestand and have won 9 in a row, but continue to lose players. Garrett Anderson and Brendan Donnelly were all ready on the DL, now Darrin Erstad and possibly Jose Guillen will be joining them as well. Erstad pulled his hamstring Saturday night and Guillen injured himself while sliding into second in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay. The Angels had a rash of injuries last season and are hoping that 2004 isn't a repeat of that, but so far it looks like it could be.
BREWERS 7, METS 5
DOUG DAVIS (2-2) out dueled TOM GLAVINE to end the Brewers' two game losing streak. Davis went 6 2/3 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs (all earned), 1 walk and 5 strike outs. Davis had been walking an awful lot of batters so far this year, so it was nice to see him have good control last night. If you're a poo-slinging lefty, you better be able to pound the zone, because throwing 83 mph fastballs to Major League hitters with 2-0 and 3-1 counts is just a recipe for disaster. BEN FORD came in to face one hitter and got the strike out, which was nice to see. DAVE BURBA pitched the final two innings and gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to make things interesting.
LYLE OVERBAY continues to be on a tear, he went 3-4 with a homerun, two doubles and a walk, driving in two. He is now hitting .336. KEITH GINTER hit his sixth homerun of the year, which leads the team. KG went 1-3 with two walks. SCOTT PODSEDNIK went 2-5 and stole his 16th base of the year. WES HELMS and CRAIG COUNSELL, who have both been slumping, had two hits each.
The Brewers will throw Adrian Hernandez this afternoon. Hopefully he continues the trend of "how the hell did that guy do so well" comments after relatively unknown guys start (Chris Saenz, Victor Santos).
NHL TO SHORTEN SCHEDULE?
The NHL is thinking about shortening it's regular season schedule by ten games. What this means is that instead of having a two week off season, the NHL might get about three or three and a half weeks off. When does training camp for the NHL start anyway? Mid-July? It sure seems that way.
MILWAUKEE AT NEW YORK PREVIEW
The Brewers and Mets enter this series each with records of 13-15. The Brewers have lost 5 of their last 6, so it would be nice if they could win this series in the big apple.
New York's probable starters
C- Mike Piazza
1B- Jason Phillips
2B- Danny Garcia
SS- Kaz Matsui
3B- Todd Zeile
LF- Shane Spencer
CF- Joe McEwing
RF- Karim Garcia
Friday, 6:05 EDT
MIL- Doug Davis (1-2, 5.14 ERA)
NYM- Tom Glavine (4-1, 1.85 ERA)
Saturday, 12:10 EDT
MIL- Adrian Hernandez (0-2, 10.03 ERA)
NYM- Tyler Yates (1-3, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday, 12:05 EDT
MIL- Victor Santos (1-3, 4.00 ERA)
NYM- Steve Trachsel (3-3, 3.79 ERA)
DAYTONA CUBS HAVE 'CUSTOM FUNERAL' GIVE AWAY PROMOTION
The Daytona Cubs of the Class-A Florida State League are giving away a custom funeral to a fan who wins an essay contest. Contestants simply have to describe their perfect burial services in two pages or less.
We had people who wanted to be buried with vats of beer," Papierniak said.
The contest runs through July 24 and will be judged by a four-person panel from the Cubs and Pinello Funeral Home.
Papierniak said the funeral with all the trimmings is currently valued at $5,000-$7,000. Even if the cost skyrockets, the prize has a lifetime warranty.
WTF? Giving away a "custom funeral" at a baseball game? Minor league promotions never cease to amaze me.
What do you think about MLB scaling back their Spider Man 2 promotion? I still don't think it's enough. They are still going to have the advertisements on the on-deck circle and on the plate and pitchers rubber before the game.
Thanks for the email Killa K. Wasn't there a guy in the Wu Tang Clan named Killa K? Maybe not. Anyway. This is a great public relations ploy by MLB. They say that they "scale back" the promotion, but they are still covering the plate, mound and on-deck circles with Spider Man 2 promotions. People won't complain now since the campaign was reduced, but I still think it's embarrassing. Notice how it was the STUDIO that reneged this deal, not MLB. Don't listen to the spin that MLB will put out there about "not wanting to upset their fans", it's not true. Rob Neyer wrote an article about the Spider Man 2 promotional campaign here.
I got two emails on this next topic so here they are...
Did you read Jim Caple's article on ESPN.com about hustling? Do you think this guy has ever played a baseball game in his life?
Jesse, Appleton [WI]
Did you read Jim Caple's article about hustling being overrated? Doesn't Caple need a punch in the face?
Kevin, Santa Barbara
Ha ha. Well, a punch in the face may be a bit extreme. And to answer your question, Jesse, no I don't think Caple has ever played a baseball game. At least not a real one at a moderately high level of competition. I'm not one of those guys who thinks "oh you never played the game so you don't know anything about it", but at times I think you can learn certain things about the game by playing that you can't learn just by reading or watching. With that said, I'm getting a little tired of the "hustling is overrated" argument. Obviously you would rather have a lazy guy that hits 40 homeruns over a hustling utility infielder that hits .240. You have to draw the line somewhere I think. There's a difference between running out a routine grounder at 85% and running it out at 50%. Maybe the difference between hustling will only make a difference a few times a year, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important. Just because something doesn't show up on a statsheet doesn't mean that it isn't valuable.
Thanks for the emails. Keep it up.
MOISES ALOU URINE-GATE PART 2
I talked about Moises Alou's home-remedy for preventing blisters on May 2nd, which for those of you who don't recall, Alou urinates on his hands to prevent blisters. It took a little while, but now people are talking about this. Alou is not very happy about it, saying:
"I don't want to talk about it...It's like saying what you do at home. When I go home, I don't want anybody to know what I do. What I do here, people see what I do here around the clubhouse and on the field. That's what should be printed."
Alou did say that his urine is "is just like water."
Sorry, but I can't let that quote go. Just like water? Are you freaking kidding me? When was the last time somebody boiled a pot of urine before cooking dinner? I don't ever recall being told "it's a hot one out there today, make sure you drink plenty of urine". When you're at a restaurant there is a reason why after the waiter asks "would you like something to drink?" you don't respond "yeah I'd like a tall cool glass of urine". It is meant to be flushed down a toilet or for R. Kelly to cover his sexual partners with, but definitely not for cleaning your hands with.
One more thing, does anybody else find it kind of ironic that Gary Miller broke this story? Click here to read his story about urinating on police officers in 1997.
Here is the full Alou article.
It's pretty funny. I was relatively young when Fay Vincent resigned as Commissioner of baseball on September 7th, 1992. I always had it in my head that Fay Vincent was a bad Commissioner, just because the media and Major League Baseball seemed to portray him that way. When I read Vincent's quote about the Spider Man 2 disgrace I decided to do some research...This is what former Commissioner Vincent said about the Spider Man 2 decision (read "MLB is having a sale" from yesterday for my take on the situation).
"I'm old-fashioned. I'm a romanticist. I think the bases should be protected from this. I feel the same way I do when I see jockeys wear ads: Maybe this is progress, but there's something in me that regrets it very much."
I seriously couldn't agree more. Some criticize comments like this saying "Vincent is so old he has no idea how young people think". Well, I'm in the all-important 18-34 male demographic, and I think that advertisements on the bases are absolutely embarrassing. I remembered Vincent's comments on whether or not Pete Rose should be re-instated, and like I said I looked up some of his past decisions on BaseballLibrary.com...here is what I found.
July 30, 1990: In a surprisingly harsh ruling, Commissioner Fay Vincent orders Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to resign as the club's general partner by August 20th and bans him from day-to-day operation of the team for life. The ruling is a result of Steinbrenner's $40,000 payment to confessed gambler Howie Spira for damaging information about since-traded Yankee star Dave Winfield.
Maybe suspending Steinbrenner for life was a bit harsh, but at least he was serious about keeping gamblers away from the game. I don't see how that can be thought of as a bad thing. Tough against gamblers, I'll propose that's reason #1 Bud Selig and his boys didn't want Vincent in office.
March 12, 1991: Commissioner Fay Vincent orders a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco in the Class A Appalachian and Northwest leagues and the rookie Pioneer and Gulf Coast leagues.
Smokleless tobacco is banned in all of the minor leagues now, but it's not enforced at all. It's also banned in college baseball and is rarely enforced.
April 10, 1991: Sixty-eight-year-old Minnie Minoso is denied a chance to appear in a professional game in his 6th consecutive decade by baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent. Minoso had been scheduled to suit up for the independent Miami Miracle of the Class A Florida State League in their April 13 game against the Ft. Lauderdale Yankees. Vincent refuses to allow Minoso to sign a contract, even for a single night.
Vincent wouldn't let Minnie Minoso make a mockery of the game. Good. Publicity stunts to draw people to the park are fine, but not when it involves the actual game itself. Have a "ladies night" or "golf umbrella night", not a "disgrace the game night".
June 24, 1992: Yankees P Steve Howe is permanently banned from baseball by Commissioner Fay Vincent after having pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to purchase a gram of cocaine. It is Howe's 7th ban from the game, as he becomes the 1st player ever permanently banned from baseball because of drugs.
7th time is a charm I suppose.
Overall Fay Vincent seemed to be a strong Commissioner. He wasn't afraid to ban people from the game (Steinbrenner, Steve Howe), and I'm guessing that scared a lot of people, especially the owners who are about as crooked of a bunch of people as you will find. So why was Fay Vincent forced out? Isn't the answer obvious? The man has integrity. He wanted to keep the game clean. He wasn't looking to make a quick buck, like all the owners and players are. Do you think Vincent would have supported Interleague play? the Wild-Card? The All-Star Game determining home-field advantage in the World Series? SPIDER MAN 2 LOGOS ON THE BASES?!?! Hell no.
Fans, media, and people in general like to think of the term "traditionalist" or "purist" as a bad thing. I never understood this. What is wrong with wanting to preserve the game? If not being a purist means selling out history, tradition and dignity in the name of cash at every possible moment, thanks, but no thanks. Fay Vincent is a purist. Bob Costas is a purist. I am a purist. We are a dying breed. As more purists go away, the more Major League Baseball will begin to look more like the WWF/NASCAR/XFL. Oh yeah, Don't forget to go see Spider Man 2. If you forgot when it is opening, just check the bases and pitching mound at any MLB park from June 11-June 13.
You may have noticed that I added the Haloscan feature to the blog, so now you can comment on each one of my posts. Please don't let this discourage the Emails, but if you have a quick-hit type thing that you want to say feel free to put it up on the site. Thanks.
MLB IS HAVING A SALE...EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!
Are you an advertiser who is looking to blaze the paths, not just follow them? Well I have the solution for you. Rather than blaze paths, or follow them, why not just slap your corporate logo all over the path? For a relatively low price you can put your logo between any two bases on any one of our 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums.
One thing I never understood is, we name stadiums after corporations, why not just name the teams themselves? Why name your team the "Dodgers" when they could be the "Starbucks"? What the hell is a Dodger, does anybody know? But everybody knows what a Starbucks is.
Have you ever noticed how plain baseball uniforms look? I mean, you have a name, a number and a team name and that's it. The average person looks and that and sees tradition, I look at it and see marketing opportunities. Imagine what your dot com company could do if its logo was placed right below "Ichiro" and right above "51". I have even a better idea. Let's just get rid of numbers all together. They're too difficult to keep track of. I suggest that each player is identified with a company. So for example, Derek Jeter might just have a Nike swoosh on his back, Barry Bonds a BALCO emblem, and Milton Bradley will have some sort of bail bonds company on his back. This is perfect.
I have this perfect vision for baseball. Here it is...
It's the bottom of the ninth inning, Game 7 of the 2010 Clear Channel Series. The San Diego Starbucks are tied with the Kansas City Starbucks (for the record 16 teams are named "Starbucks") at 19 (more runs=more revenue). With a runner on Phillips 66 (formerly known as second base), there is a base-hit up the middle that bounces just in-front of the News Corp. logo in centerfield. As the runner rounds McDonalds Brand New Egg McMuffin (formerly third base) the throw from the outfielder bounces and the catcher secures the ball against the NBC Must See TV logo on his chest-protector and reaches down to make the tag but the baserunner just gets his hand down on the Home Depot homeplate just in time to win the Clear Channel Series 20-19 in most dramatic fashion.
...Of course this was a satirical look at what Major League Baseball is heading towards. MLB announced today that from June 11-June 13 they will place advertisements for Spider Man 2 on the bases and pitching rubber before the game, and on the on-deck circle during games (ESPN.com story here).
Honestly, I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed that a sport that I love so much would do something so pathetic. I hate to sound like a demagogue, but IS ANYTHING SACRED? (haha, sorry). Why is this necessary? Anything for a dollar, unbelievable. The worst thing is that it's for Spider Man 2. I by no way condone this, but if it was something like Gatorade or Nike, at least those are major, sports-related corporations. But Spider Man 2? How far away are we from special MLB promotions for movies like "Waterworld" and "Gigli"?
I really don't know what to say about this anymore.
STUBBY CLAPP TRADED
I almost forgot about about Richard Keith Clapp. He was back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis in 2001, playing secondbase and leftfield. In 25 ABs that year he hit .200/.231/.280, but did have (as Bob Uecker's character Harry Doyle said about Roger Dorn in Major League) several "foul tips".
Clapp was sent from Cleveland to Toronto for a player to be named and cash. Clapp was assigned to Toronto's AA affiliate in New Hampshire.
Stubby Clapp is one of the few Canadian-born players to break in to the Major Leagues. Who cares about his ability though, his name is Stubby. How great is that?
BONDS SAYS HE'LL RETIRE AFTER '05
On the idea of retiring after 2005 Bonds said "I want to leave. I want to do something else." He also said that if he were a few homeruns away from Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 that he wouldn't come back. About whether or not he'd be tempted to come back to set the all-time HR record he said "Probably not...Don't need to".
Does anybody really believe that if Bonds finishes 2005 with 750 homeruns that he's not going to come back for '06 to set the all-time mark. He wants the record, and he won't retire until he gets it. By the way, it's not like he's slowing down at all as he approaches 40. He said that he would be open to the possibility of becoming a designated hitter in the American League.
"DH is fine for me," said Bonds.
With the Brewers' 6-2 win over Cincinnati last night, every team in the NL Central is at .500 or better. I know we're about a month into the season, but it's nice to see that this division won't be ripped on this season like it has been the past few years. So what divisions are the best in my opinion? I thought you'd never ask.
I thought of these rankings as far as best division top-to-bottom. That would explain why the AL West is number one...Texas will probably finish in last there, even though they are tied for first right now. I feel that Texas would probably be the best last-place team, and the elite of that division (Anaheim and Oakland) are two of the best teams in baseball.
I have a busy day today so I probably won't be able to blog until later tonight (about 5 pacific).
MIDDLE SCHOOL COACHES GIVE 13 YEAR-OLD 'CRY BABY' AWARD
Here is the full article.
"At the event, the boy watched as all of his Pleasantville Middle School teammates received trophies or certificates.
He was then called up to receive his award, and a coach told the crowd that the boy was being honored because "he begged to get in the game, and all he did was whine."
The trophy had a silver figure of a baby atop a pedestal engraved with the boy's name, which was spelled incorrectly. Family members said the teen — an honor roll student — was so embarrassed that he stayed home from school on the following Monday."
The kid stayed home? What a cry-baby! A very classy move by adults who were coaching this team, I'd like to add. The worst part is that they actually spelled the kid's name wrong on the trophy. I mean if he's going to win an award the least they could do is get their facts straight and spell the kid's name correctly. Somebody better get fired because of that mistake.
Personally, I like the idea of a "cry baby" award. Maybe don't give it to a thirteen year-old kid, but they should add this to the professional ranks. Here are my selections for "cry baby" awards in the past seasons in professional sports.
NFL- Terrell Owens
MLB- Pedro Martinez
MLS- 450-way Tie
NBA- Allen Iverson
Now to the front-office Cry Babies
NFL- Matt Millen (President/GM of the Detroit Lions)
MLB- John Henry (Boston Red Sox owner)
NBA- Danny Ainge (GM of the Boston Celtics)
4-MAN ROTATION? HOSS RADBURN WOULD LAUGH AT SUCH A THING
I first read on baseballmusings.com today about a story in the Denver Post that the Colorado Rockies are going to try going with a four-man rotation comprised of JOE KENNEDY, SHAWN ESTES, JASON JENNINGS, AND SCOTT ELARTON. They still plan on carrying 12 pitchers and are setting the pitch-counts for their starters between 85 and 90 pitches. Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said that he likes the idea of the four-man rotation, but feels that the pitch-counts are maybe too low. "I think you can go 100, 110 pitches," said Mazzone.
This reminded me of Hall of Famer CHARLEY "OLD HOSS" RADBURN. In 1884 he went 59-12 with a 1.38 ERA. He logged 678 2/3 Innings that season and pitched his teams final 27 games (winning 26 of them) to launch the Providence Grays into the World Series. That season Radburn threw 73 CGs. He went CG in every one of his 73 starts and also made two relief appearances. Providence utilized the two-man rotation, which saw Radburn start 73 games, CHARLIE SWEENEY start 24 and the rest of the staff combine for 17 starts. What would Old Hoss say about the FIVE MAN ROTATION? WWOHD? (What would Old Hoss do?)
Will somebody explain to me how the first-round series between Miami and New Orleans is still going on while two Semi-Finals series have all ready begun and a third will begin tonight? Why is the NBA first-round seven games anyway? Does anybody care about the first round of the NBA Playoffs? The NFL Draft had quadruple the ratings of the NBA Playoffs when the two went head-to-head two weekends ago. The NBA should go back to the five-game first round series for no other reason than to get the first round out of the way. Didn't the Miami/New Orleans series start in mid-February or does it just seem like that?
MILWAUKEE AT CINCINNATI PREVIEW
The Brewers (12-13, 3 GB), fresh off of their sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, travel to Cincinnati, which is another place the Crew has struggled in the past few seasons. Ken Griffey Jr. is hurt again. He had some tightness in his right-hamstring last night against Houston and was removed from the game and is now listed as day-to-day. Well at least the Reds did get a whole 23 games out of Junior so far in 2004. It's pretty much a rite of passage to spring for Griffey to get hurt it seems. Don't worry Reds fans, you have Jason Romano there to take his place.
Probable Starters for Cincinnati (13-12, 2 GB)
C- Javier Valentin
1B- Sean Casey
2B- D'Angelo Jiminez
SS- Barry Larkin
3B- Ryan Freel
LF- Adam Dunn
CF- Jason Romano
RF- Jacob Cruz
(Austin Kearns is on the DL with a broken forearm. Jason LaRue is on the DL with an injured finger. Ken Griffey Jr. is day-to-day with tightness in his hamstring)
Tuesday, 6:05pm CDT
MIL- Victor Santos (0-0, 9.00 ERA)
CIN- Jimmy Haynes (0-2, 8.25 ERA)
Wednesday, 6:05pm CDT
MIL- Ben Sheets (3-2, 3.25 ERA)
CIN- Jose Acevedo (2-2, 4.31 ERA)
Thursday, 6:05pm CDT
MIL- Wes Obermueller (1-1, 8.49 ERA)
CIN- Aaron Harang (2-1, 4.28 ERA)
Tonight's pitching matchup is probably the least desirable one of the year thus far. Wednesday we'll see if Ben Sheets can continue to pitch well and go for his sixth start in a row without walking a batter. Wes Obermueller is pretty much pitching for his spot in the rotation Thursday night....No Pressure
BRAVES COMMIT 7 ERRORS IN COLORADO
The Braves got pounded 13-4 by Colorado, but that's not the real story. The Atlanta infield contributed 7 errors, causing starter Horacio Ramirez to give up 8 runs, all of them unearned. Marcus Giles made two errors, shortstop Jesse Garcia made one error, but the real star of the day was third baseman Mark De Rosa who made 4 ERRORS!
Little league teams usually don't commit seven errors in a game. Mark De Rosa looked like a hockey goalie at thirdbase on Sunday. Unbelievable.
RICKEY HENDERSON BACK IN BASEBALL...AGAIN
The full article from ESPN.com can be found here.
RICKEY HENDERSON signed with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League on Sunday. Henderson played with Newark last season before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in July.
Henderson is the all-time leader in runs scored, stolen bases and walks (although Bonds is closing in on that one). Rickey Henderson was the greatest lead-off hitter in baseball history, but what he's doing now is just sad. I respect people that love the game and want to keep on playing, but this is a little too ridiculous. Come on Rickey, retire all ready so we can put you into Cooperstown in five years.
BREWERS GET SWEPT BY PIRATES
The Brewers lost Sunday 4-3 in 11 innings. This completed a sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Milwaukee entered the series at 6-2 on the homestand, but now finished it at 6-5 and now find themselves one-game below .500 and in last place in the NL Central.
Craig Wilson had the game-winning homerun Sunday in the top of the 11th and had a big series against the Brewers.
The Brewers now will travel to Cincy for three and then to New York to face the Mets. I think a legitamate goal for this road-trip would be to go .500.
MOISES ALOU AND WHY HE DOESN'T NEED BATTING GLOVES
I stumbled across this tid-bit of information on ESPN.com from a Gary Miller article...
"Alou says the secret to hitting without batting gloves is to harden your hands and prevent calluses. One of his methods might win someone the prize money on the TV show, "Fear Factor." He urinates on his hands. That's the honest truth. Alou said he isn't sure where he learned this distasteful folk medicine, but it wasn't from his famous father. And it works for Moises."
Dude would rather urinate on his own hands than wear batting gloves? Something is missing here. And you know that he doesn't just urinate on his hands and wash it off. He has to be allowing time for it to all soak in.
If you're an autograph seeker make sure to avoid Moises Alou. He could hit 90 homeruns this year and I'm not going near him. If you do have a Moises Alou autograph I suggest putting it in one of those biohazard things. You should handle that autograph like its the Hanta Virus.
HEE SEOP FREAKING CHOI
Hee Seop Choi wasn't the same after the concussion he suffered last season for the Cubs. Overall he had a decent year (.217/.350/.417), but it wasn't enough to keep him in the Windy City. This year Choi is off to an amazing start. He has 9 homeruns, is hitting .281/.410/.703. That's a 1.103 OPS for those of you scoring at home.
I remember seeing Choi bat in the Futures Game in Milwaukee back in 2002. Choi did not impress me at all. The one thing I really remember thinking was 'wow does this guy have a slow bat'. Generally, lefties tend to have slower bats just because they're used to facing righties and have just a little longer to wait for the pitch. This also can explain why lefties seem to struggle against left-handed pitching more so than righties vs. right-handed pitching.
Looking at Choi's splits though, he may still have that slow bat, which could explain why he's only had 21 at-bats vs. left handed pitching in his career entering this season (.048 AVG, but with 8 walks and a .333 OBP) . So far in 2004 he has had 3 at-bats vs. lefties.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR DOESN'T WANT TO BE A BOBBLEHEAD
The full article is here.
It is reported that California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger (and no him being the governor of California isn't the joke this time) is going to sue a bobblehead maker in Ohio for putting his likeness on one without his consent.
Apparently the bobblehead is "Clad in a suit and toting a hefty machine gun." No word on whether or not when the bobblehead enters a room it screams out "everybody out! there's no time!" like the Governator does in roughly 99% of his movies.
PIRATES 4, BREWERS 2
First off let me wish everybody a happy May. You know what May means in Wisconsin...The end of winter, which usually lasts until about late April. Now Wisconsin will have about a month of spring until it officially becomes summer sometime in early June...Anyway, lets get to the game.
Ben Sheets took the loss and is now 3-2. He had another fantastic outing though. 8 IP, 7 H, 3 R (all earned), 7 K, 0 BB, 0 HRA. Sheets hasn't walked a batter since walking three on opening day in St. Louis. So far in April he doesn't seem to be giving up an extraordinary amount of jacks either like he did last season. His ERA is at 3.25 right now and I'm definitely happy with that. Victor Santos did his best to ensure a demotion to the minors by giving up one run in one inning of work, keeping his ERA at 9.00.
Offensively, the Brewers were pretty much shutdown by Kris Benson. Benson went 7 2/3 IP, gave up 5 H, 1 R (earned) and walked 3 while striking out 7. Some days a pitcher just has everything working for him and Friday appeared to be one of those days for Benson. After a rough start, Lyle Overbay has been swinging the bat well. He went 2-3 with a walk last night. Ben Grieve went 1-2 with a walk. Big Wes Helms continues to struggle out of the gate, just like last season. He went 0-4 with two Ks last night and is hitting .214. Maybe it's time to get Keith Ginter more PT at third.
The game was played in a snappy 2 hours and 15 minutes. The Brewers will try to even up the series tonight when Oliver Perez faces off against Wes Obermueller.