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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Cecil Cooper may soon be on double secret probation or something:
Astros manager Cecil Cooper received a call Tuesday from baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson, who will review Cooper’s conduct after he was ejected Saturday by plate umpire Mike DiMuro.
Maybe I'm just blowing a couple of long-ago, isolated, videotaped incidents out of proportion, but didn't it used to be pretty routine for managers to kick dirt during an argument with the ump? I'm not saying doing so is a good thing -- it's really disrespectful when you think about it -- but I don't recall it being a matter of special discipline.
I'm going to blame Pete Rose for making this a bigger deal than it used to be. If he doesn't cross the line and shove Dave Pallone, I think we'd have much more exciting manager-umpire arguments these days.
I got somethin’ for you! This watch I got here was first purchased by your great-granddaddy. It was bought during the First World War in a little general store in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was bought by private Doughboy Erine Coolidge the day he set sail for Paris . . .
Albert Pujols could show off a new watch and a lower back bruise Monday. He was proud of the first and understanding of the second.
I find it astounding that Albert Pujols has only been named Player of the Week nine times in nine years. As La Russa says in the article, he could have been named 19 times. I also find it odd that they give gold watches for Player of the Week awards, but as I sit and think about it, I'm not sure what else they could give.
Loving cup? No one gives out loving cups anymore.
From the New York Post:
Interesting (but not exactly surprising) sight this morning at Citi Field: The Mets New York Mets have struggling left-hander Oliver Perez on the mound throwing live batting practice to several of their top hitters, including David Wright and Ryan Church Ryan Church
Given that he essentially threw BP to the Nationals, Cardinals and Reds already this year, it seems like overkill to me.
The Nationals probably know that they'll hear it from their fans if they fail to draft and sign Stephen Strasburg. From the sounds of it, they'll probably hear it from their players too:
The Nationals have the first pick in the June draft, so Strasburg can be theirs. All they have to do is take him -- and then pay the price.
The way the Nats will blow the Strasburg thing is if they think it's about money. But contrary to what a good friend of mine says, this time, it's not about the money, stupid. It's about credibility. Can the Nats prove to their fanbase that they're worth the financial and emotional investment? Can they prove to their own players and other players around the league that they're a credible bidder for their services? Strasburg could end up getting injured or being a bust or both, and if that happens, it will certainly hurt. But nowhere near as much as not bringing him into the fold would hurt this team.
Bad morning with several phony work emergencies, so I only got four jabs in over at NBC:
There's a sandwich in my immediate future. Then back to the grind.
Yankees 11, Tigers 0: The motto of the Yankees' bullpen after seeing the Tigers' bullpen in action: "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Speaking of bullpens, Phil Hughes started and threw six shutout innings which, if I understand New York thinking, means that we should all now be agitating for him to be sent to the bullpen too, right?
White Sox 2, Mariners 1: This one was done in 1 hour, 52 minutes. It's almost as if these guys knew they had to play two last night and wanted to get the first one out of the way early. Makes you wonder what's in the mind of the players in those ugly four hour Yankees-Red Sox games.
Mariners 9, White Sox 1: This one wasn't terribly long either (2:32), though the game didn't end soon enough for White Sox batters who had to face King Felix (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K) and White Sox pitchers who had to face Yuniesky Betancourt (4-5, HR, 5 RBI).
Phillies 7, Nationals 1: Cole Hamels must have gotten a hold of that taboo tiki from the Brady Bunch Hawaii episode, because nothing is going right for him. He was nailed with a line drive his last time out. Last night he was absolutely cruising, allowing four hits and two walks through 4 1/3 scoreless innings, when he tripped while trying to field a bunt in the fifth. Looks like a sprained ankle. As for the Nationals, hey, at least no one blew a save in this one.
Indians 9, Red Sox 8: And thus endeth the winning streak. After some seriously shaky pitching from both starters, things remained more or less quiet before Mark DeRosa's homer in the seventh tied it up and Javier Lopez's error in the ninth allowed DeRosa to score the winning run. Papelbon had pitched in three of the previous four games and thus wasn't available, or else you'd have to figure that he would have been in there over Lopez. Oh, and my Tony Sipp crush continues, as the Indians' rookie reliever strikes out three guys over the seventh and eighth innings.
Braves 2, Cardinals 1: I'm not sure what was more unlikely here: that the Braves staged a rally (such as it was) with two outs, or that the rally was sustained by a Jeff Francoeur walk.
Astros 8, Reds 3: Wandy Rodriguez continues to string some really nice starts together, this time giving up one run on five hits in seven innings. Nice support from Zombie-Rod, who hit a homer and an RBI double.
Angels 7, Orioles 5: Joe Saunders allowed ten hits but only two earned runs. Under union rules, I am therefore obligated to say that he "scattered" them. Adam Eaton, on the other hand, turned back into a pumpkin following his inexplicably good last start. Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 15 games. I'd like to see him exceed 56, simply because I'd like to see someone write a song with multiple rhymes for "Markakis."
Marlins 7, Mets 4: In losing seven straight after winning seven straight, the Marlins reminded me of those streaky 1987 Brewers who opened the season with a 13-game winning streak that was quickly followed with a 12-game losing streak. Sue me. I'm old. Anyway, Jorge Cantu put an end to the losing by homering twice and driving in five, but if the Fish remain half as interesting as the 1987 Brewers were, it should be a fun season. At least as long as no one else pretends to be the 1987 Tigers or Blue Jays.
Rangers 5, A's 4: The A's lost Nomar, Mark Ellis, and Brett Anderson to injuries over the course of the game. Maybe Hamels gave the tiki to them.
Twins 4, Rays 3: For Minnesota the win was nice, but seeing Francisco Liriano pitch relatively well (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) was probably nicer.
Brewers 6, Pirates 5: For all of Ryan Braun's pregame bluster, no one got plunked, and Braun let his bat do the talking after things got underway (2-4, 2B 2 RBI).
Blue Jays 8, Royals 1: Worse than Gil Meche not being particularly effective was the reason why: lower back stiffness which caused him to leave the game in the fourth. To the extent the "Royals are frisky" talk still has any life to it is based on an assumption that Gil Meche will be a solid number two starter all year. If he's gone, forget it.
Padres 4, Rockies 3: Luis Rodriguez had a pinch hit single in the ninth to seal it.
Cubs 11, Diamondbacks 3: Carlos Zambrano was only a triple short of the cycle and, oh yeah, he pitched a little too (7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER). Geovany Soto, who is hitting only .119 and who allowed five stolen bases on Monday, sat in favor of Koyie Hill.
Dodgers 5, Giants 3: The Giants played really poorly -- they walked nine guys and played bad defense, yet somehow still found themselves tied with L.A. entering the ninth inning. Then Manny hit a double and scored what would prove to be the winning run when Andre Ethier doubled two batters later. Matt Kemp added some whipped cream an RBI triple.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Darren Rovell is not impressed with last week's strories about attendance being down 7%:
Last week, when the Associated Press wrote that Major League Baseball's average attendance for the first two weeks was off 6.9 percent from last year, many news outlets just reported the number. Well, I just did the math and it's not even half as bad.
He explains, of course, and it's pretty darn straightforward. Some charts too.
(at this point is there any doubt that this link came courtesy of Pete Toms?)
From yesterday's New York Times, a walk around Busch III, which greatly impressed George Vecsey. This had me nodding in approval:
The playing field has avoided the intentionally quirky corners and gimmicks of many newer ballparks.
A quirky corner like the Mets have in right makes the same amount of sense in that park's location that a hitching post makes in front of my downtown office building.
One other fun thing mentioned that, if I ever knew it, I had forgotten, and that's that there exists a Mark McGwire statue to match the other immortal Cardinals' statues, except it sits under wraps in an attic somewhere. The rationale seems rather silly, though: the statues are only for Cardinals who have been elected to the Hall of Fame or have had their numbers retired by the club. The club only retires the numbers of Hall of Famers, Ken Boyer excepted. Since McGwire isn't going to be elected to the Hall of Fame anytime soon, the statue remains in limbo.
I've said it before, but the Hall of Fame wields way too much friggin' influence. Or, rather, those around baseball allow it to. The Cardinals have the power to honor anyone they want. If Giants' fans gave Barry Bonds a standing ovation last night, you can bet your bippy that Cardinals fans would be happy to have Mark McGwire honored as well. Who cares if a handful of sanctimonious writers have declared a vendetta against him? He brought an immense amount of joy to the people of St. Louis and an immense amount of money to the owners of the Cards. He should have his day in Busch Stadium and his statue should take its place alongside the other Cardinals' immortals.
In December, the Red Sox agreed to a 30-year deal with Lee County to keep their spring training facility in Fort Myers. As part of the deal, the county agreed to build a new spring training complex. Now, it seems, that the FBI is interested in, well, something relating to that process:
Florida's Lee County turned over e-mails that included terms related to the building of a new spring training facility for the Red Sox to the FBI at the agency's request. The team said it has no connection to the inquiry, despite the apparent inclusion of a member of its minor league operations staff among the search terms specified by the FBI.
Who knows? This is the kind of environment in which kickbacks are born -- and the FBI absolutely loves to investigate local government officials in connection with this kind of thing -- but there really aren't enough details here to allow us to do much more than gawk and say "hmm, interesting." For their part, Ballpark Digest finds Lee County, Florida's land bids to be, well, curious.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Eric Wedge is looking for leadership among his players:
Manager Eric Wedge is looking for leaders. He says they have to come from the Indians' position players and they better not take too long to get here . . .
I love stuff like this. What, exactly, does he want? Why can't either the manager or the writer provide an example of what this clubhouse leader is supposed to be doing? The only time you ever hear anything concrete about a clubhouse leader is either when (a) guys are fighting about which music is played on the clubhouse boom box; or (b) when a guy is being described as the leader following some excellent play on his part, in which case he is said to be "leading by example." Name me one clubhouse leader whose primary attribute isn't that he's playing well. More generally, show me one team who has a solid, respected and previously-identified clubhouse leader that is playing awful baseball.
It all smells like retrospective hogwash to me.