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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I've been swamped with work (and about 80 comments I have yet to read for that Jeter thing), so it may just be some quicker hits today. Here's a quick one:
The Indians are in the early stages of what general manager Mark Shapiro referred to as a "reloading" period, and the reload will extend to the managerial position and the coaching staff.
In any event, no matter how Shapiro characterizes it, he is now the next one on the chopping block.
People here have suspected that I take a perverse, masochistic pleasure in baiting Yankee and Red Sox fanboys over at NBC.
Well, you're absolutely, 100% right about that.
Someone give me a heads up when the intervention is going to be held. It's a busy week for me.
Twins 3, Tigers 2; Tigers 6, Twins 5: Porcello and Blackburn were each tough in game one, but Verlander wasn't matched by Duensing in Game 2, putting his team in a 5-0 hole. A seriously long day for these two teams, and despite all of the drama, now they're back (back) where they started, here they go 'round again. Day after day they get up and they'll say, they have to do it again. Two more times.
Marlins 5, Braves 4: A three run homer from Matt Diaz to tie it up in the 6th had me dancing the dance of joy, but the Braves just couldn't get over. When Chipper hit into that double play in the ninth all the air came out of the room. They can't win every damn game, even if it seems like they can lately. The Rockies have to lose once in a while.
Rockies 7, Brewers 5: Crap, they didn't lose. At first I was all prepared to write this one up as a 5-2 Rockies win last night when all of a sudden Kendall hit that three-run homer off Street. Jason effin' Kendall. WATFO? But then Chris Iannetta does it his own self? Mercy. Oh well, I still have that NL East pipe dream I was harboring for a couple of hours yesterday . . .
Phillies 7, Astros 4: Double crap. I suppose it was too much to ask the Astros to lay the smackdown on the defending champs. The Phillies' magic number is now one.
Reds 7, Cardinals 2: Jay Bruce hit two home runs. Homer Bailey pitched well. Joey Votto blasted one. This is sort of how Cincinnati drew it up in 2008 or so. Better late than never, I suppose. And the hot finish is likely enough to keep Reds' fans warm over the winter.
Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 7: Take that, Jay Bruce: Adam Lind hit three home runs. Take that Adam Lind: Papelbon plunked Lind on the elbow his last time up. Classy as ever, Jonathan. The Red Sox clinched the wild card when the Rangers lost later in the evening (see below), but they really can't be happy with this last week. Five straight losses. A circa late-July, early-August Clay Buchholz performance. Anaheim won't lose to Boston in the first round forever, you know, and this year is looking pretty ripe for a change of pace.
Cubs 6, Pirates 0: I know he had the shutout going, but I'd like to think that at least a small part of the reason Lou Piniella left Dempster in there to finish the game was to show John Russell that the home crowd will give a pitcher a standing ovation even after the ballgame is over.
Rays 3, Orioles 1: Twelve straight losses for the O's. There hasn't been this much carnage in Baltimore since Junior Bunk opened fire in the squad room at the end of season six.
Nationals 4, Mets 3: Break up the Nats, who have won two in a row. They count as wins, even if they come at the expense of the Mets.
Yankees 4, Royals 3: The Cardinals clinched and have gone on a big slide. The Yankees clinched and haven't lost since. This has to be a good sign, right? Let us consult some teams who entered the playoffs on a hot streak: 2005, 2006 and 2007 Yankees, what say you? Hmmm, they're not answering. Maybe we should talk to some teams who stumbled to the end of the regular season: 2005 White Sox, 2006 Cardinals and 2007 Red Sox, wasn't it a nightmare entering the playoffs with no momentum?
Angels 5, Rangers 2: Good night Rangers. All the more depressing for Rangers fans to have it happen against a second string Angels lineup and a spot starter. At the beginning of the season I picked the Rangers to win the west. Based on everyone else's picks, I was pretty much alone in thinking they'd do anything. Well, they did a lot, and they have nothing to be ashamed of. There's a good foundation here and a good future. They will be back.
Padres 3, Dodgers 1: I suppose they'll clinch eventually, but in the meantime, losing a lot of games to the Padres and Pirates of the world can't feel too nice. And really, between St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Philly, is there any NL team that wants to at least act like they have a shot in the postseason? Poor effort down the stretch, division leaders, really poor effort.
Giants 8, Diamondbacks 4: Those two home runs by Bengie Molina probably bought him another million in contract negotiations with Brian Sabean (but not any sane GM the Giants could hire or who works for another team). Probably bought Buster Posey another month in AAA or on the pine, too. Bruce Bochy: "We don't know what's going to happen and Bengie doesn't know what's going to happen. I do know he's done a great job here. We wouldn't be in this position ... without Bengie." What position is that, Bruce? Outside of the playoffs looking in despite a superior pitching staff by virtue of you having black holes every where you look on offense?
Mariners 6, Athletics 4: Did we see our last ever Ken Griffey, Jr. home run in this one? If so, the circumstances -- a three-run job against a kid who was a year old when Junior debuted, at home, that essentially put the game away -- is a fine way to go out. 628.
White Sox vs. Indians: Postponed: They could cancel it outright, but then they'd deprive the Indians of the dozens of dollars they stand to make in beer and hot dog sales during the makeup game later today.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I got a threshold, here. I got a threshold for the bad karma my team can experience. Now, right now, I'm a race car, right, and the Rockies got me in the red. And I'm just sayin', I'm just sayin' that it's dangerous to have a race car in the red. That's all. I could blow:
Photos taken by The Denver Post and a spectator in the right-field stands at Coors Field during Sunday's dramatic 4-3 victory over the Cardinals reveal that second baseman Clint Barmes bobbled the final popup, with one picture showing the baseball on the outfield grass. Barmes rolled on the grass, jumped to his feet and fired to first to double off Albert Pujols to end the game.
Click through for the pics. The third one down in the most damning.
Albert Pujols' baserunning mistakes notwithstanding, unless things break just right this week, this whole play shall forever be known as the play that jobbed the Braves out of the damn wild card.
(Thanks to readers puck and salvo for the heads up)
For anyone who cares, I will be watching the final episode of Season 2 of "The Wire" tonight (I just watched Frank Sobotka walk towards the Greeks waiting for him under the bridge so I'm pretty sure I know what's going to happen there, but please, no spoilers for the finale). One question, though: How is it that in every single scene in every single episode, Sobotka has a three-day beard? Never clean shaven, never one day's growth. It's always the same. Dude is totally not the guy who uses a precision trimmer to cultivate that as a look, so it must be that all action in the second season takes place every third day. The only guys I've ever seen pull that kind of thing off are starting pitchers who only shave after starts, and that's only because I only see them every fifth day by design. Anyway:
And in hindsight, yes, Ziggy would totally have been the guy to steal the Ripken statue. Good call whoever it was who said that a couple of weeks ago.
UPDATE: Holy Schnikes! I just read that the actor who played Sobotka was born in 1966, which makes him my age when he was filming "The Wire." There are days I wake up, look in the mirror, and wonder what the hell happened to me. Whether it's natural world-weary ugliness or simply a fabulous acting job by the guy, I now know that it could always be worse.
Angels 11, Rangers 0: The Angels clinch the West, and in a fit of wrongheadedness so comically tragic that it strains credulity, they soak the jersey of a victim of a fatal drunk driving accident with beer and champagne in celebration (photo here). Here's hoping that someone in Angels' management was passing out cab vouchers last night.
Tigers vs. Twins, POSTPONED: I usually put rainouts last, but this rainout was more significant than most of the actual games that were played last night. Not sure whether a doubleheader today gives either team a big advantage. The Twins have a better bullpen, but the Tigers are going with two starters -- Porcello and Verlander -- who will make their own bullpen less important by comparison. All I know is that if I was in Detroit tomorrow I'd probably be skipping work. Heck, the wine I ordered when I was out in California last week is getting delivered today, so I may skip work anyway.
Pirates 11, Dodgers 1: John Russell lifted Zach Duke with one out to go for a complete game. Russell's explanation: that he wanted to give Duke a standing ovation as he left the mound. Sorry John, this ain't basketball and I ain't buyin' it. My guess: Russell is in a fantasy league in which CGs are a stat and the guy he's battling for first place owns Duke. It'll be a scandal if people can ever prove it. Like the Pete Rose thing, but boring. As for the rest of the game: Andy LaRoche homered twice, doubled twice and singled, driving in six runs. Some genius once told me that homers were rally killers. They're also cycle killers, so your failure was two-fold, Mr. LaRoche. So, L.A.? Is this how you're gonna bring it against Philly or Atlanta or whoever you get next week? Good luck with that.
Braves 4, Marlins 0: I don't know if the Rockies are going to cooperate and lose two or three games before Sunday, but if they do, ain't nobody gonna want to face the Braves in the playoffs. Based on some stuff I read yesterday, there are still some people who don't quite appreciate how awesome Jair Jurrjens is ("middle of the rotation starter?"). I wouldn't trade the dude -- who shut the Marlins out over seven -- if the money for Fielder was dead even.
Astros 8, Phillies 2: Well, I suppose it's possible that the Braves AND Rockies could make the playoffs. Such a collapse would be damn nigh historic as far as collapses go, but as I sit here this morning anything seems possible. I thought the 1987 Blue Jays had the division wrapped up too.
Rays 7, Orioles 6: If the Rays were to move from St. Pete after building a new stadium in Tampa or Branden or Riverview or something, could they change their name to the East Bay Rays? Because that would be cool.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5: This one was called in the seventh inning because of rain and the mercy rule and the fact that three-fourths of the Red Sox roster is having spasms of some kind this week. Michael Bowden gave up seven runs on seven hits and a walk in a spot start for Beckett. In this he was like the substitute teacher who would just put on the "Free To Be You and Me" video, read her Better Homes and Gardens magazine and let the class run amok the entire period. Not that we all didn't stop when Rosey Grier sang "It's alright to cry," some of us because we were touched, others because we couldn't believe our frickin' eyes. Man, being born in the 70s sucked.
White Sox 6, Indians 1: It blows my mind that, despite how nightmarish a season it has been for the Royals, they could once again finish out of the cellar and ahead of a team everyone thought would go to the playoffs when camp broke. But here are the Indians, losing again and letting this race go down to the wire.
Yankees 8, Royals 2: Not that Kansas City is going to go down without a fight. Luke Hochevar, pitched a three hit shutout a couple of starts ago, got shelled for eight runs on 12 hits in six innings. Atta boy, Lukey, always keep 'em guessing! This performance, by the way, came against a Yankee lineup containing such luminaries as Brett Gardner, Eric Hinkse, Shelley Duncan, Juan Miranda, and Frank Cervelli.
Nationals 2, Mets 1: Helen Keller once said "The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” She went on to say that the second most pathetic person in the world is any Mets fan who hasn't jumped ship before now.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The USA Today has a story about just how gosh darn nice the new ballpark in Minnesota is shaping up to be. And I'm sure it will be great. But you can never tell how things are truly going to play. With that in mind, I went searching for an article -- any article -- from the last time the Twins opened a new ballpark. I don't have a link because this ain't on the common interwebs, but here are some choice quotes from an April 26, 1982 Toronto Globe and Mail article about the debut of the Metrodome:
For the 4,000 fans sitting in the right-field bleachers of Minnesota's new domed stadium, baseball is an eight-man game. That's because the seats jut out in such a way the right fielder disappears if he is anywhere near the fence. But that's one of the few bad things in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, named for the former U.S. vice-president and senator from Minnesota. The early days of the season provided a shakedown for the $52-million structure and if anything didn't work, it was soon corrected.
The USA Today article talks about all of the glitches and inefficiencies of the old place. I wonder when, exactly, they stopped correcting them?
The stadium has the world's largest retractable seating system. When folded back, the seats form a 47-foot wall in right and centre field, protected by a seven-foot fence for baseball. When the football Vikings move in, the system comes out from the wall, providing 7,600 choice sideline seats in addition to the 54,711 baseball seats that are available.
The whole bit about the seating and convertability was played up as a positive in the article. No mention of the baggy. Industrial design has improved dramatically since 1982, but every time a new park opens, I wonder if there will be some unexpected delight. I think they're going to have a big fire pit on an outfield part deck at the new place. Maybe Joe Mauer will launch one into the flames and get a snappy new nickname or something. Like "third degree burn" or "The arsonist."
The Twins drew 52,279 for their home opener with Seattle Mariners, the largest crowd to see a sports event in Minnesota. The team hopes to pass the record season total of 1,483,547 set in 1979. But the second day the Twins were down to 5,213. "The people came here for the opening of the baseball season just to check on their football seats," suggested one critic.
For the record, the Twins drew 921,186 in 1982. Of course, losing 102 games will do that to you. 858,000 in 1983. After that they were never under a million again. Since 1983, they've finished above that record attendance 18 of 26 seasons.
The temperature outside on opening day was - 7 Celsius, while inside it was a balmy 21. "Games are being cancelled all over the country," said executive vice-president Clark Griffith, pointing to the scoreboard where all out of town games were marked 'ppd'. "We could have never opened here if we didn't have the dome. It would have been too cold."
Contrast this with Joe Nathan's quote in the USA Today story: "Although the weather will be unpredictable, the Twins can't wait to move. 'The weather is no big deal,' Twins closer Joe Nathan says. 'It doesn't get any colder here than it does in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago or New York in April.'"
The stadium also houses 115 private, glass-enclosed boxes that are operated by the Vikings. They seat up to 12 people each. The boxes include heating, air conditioning, an ice maker, refrigerator, wet bar, microwave oven and closed-circuit television. All you need is $30,000 a year.
Renting a 12-person suite in Target Field for 81 games will cost roughly $2,000-$4,000 a game, depending on whether it's a premium opponent or not. More if you actually want food. I'm guessing there's a discount for getting one for the whole season, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it will cost more than $30K.
But while wet-bar facilities are available, even the $30,000-a-year patrons are not allowed to bring their own liquor into the building. They can buy liquor from the stadium authority at somewhat inflated prices. "They're asking $18 a bottle for most of their liquor," Griffith said. "And if you want a good bottle of Scotch, it will cost $30." But will people pay that kind of money? "Of course not," Griffith said. "They'll sneak their own bottles in." Griffith isn't much of a fan of the reserved boxes. "Who needs the glass in an indoor stadium?" he asked. "It's like watching a game on television."
I like the cut of young Griffith's jib, but I can see why he had some financial troubles before selling the team. Dude: you're supposed to charge for everything and make it sound so exclusive that everyone will want to give you their money. I'll cut Griffith some slack here, though. The Reagan years really weren't humming yet when he gave these quotes and people weren't yet hip to the glories of conspicuous consumption.
But the $30,000 crowd has another perk. Patrons in the private boxes will be allowed to smoke.
Funny how none of today's gleaming new ballparks offer such a "perk." I thought they had everything.
Concessions are expensive. Draught beer costs up to $2.75; soft drinks go up to $1.25; popcorn to $1.75; hot dogs to $1.60. Tickets are expensive, too. Bleacher seats sell for $4, double the price in Toronto, and all other seats are $8.
And I'm sure there were lots of people complaining about it then too. If I had more time to dig around on LEXIS today I'm sure I could find the 1982 press release from whatever consumer group it is who puts out that "study" every year complaining that "a family of four can't buy tickets, hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, beers, big foam fingers, jerseys, pennants, commemorative plates, and bullpen cars for less than $17."
When the Jays played two exhibition games there before the start of the season, John Mayberry reached the upper deck with fly balls three times during one batting practice shift. "It feels good," he said. "A pitcher could have a heart attack here," Seattle veteran Gaylord Perry said, and others agree . . . Minnesota pitching coach Johnny Podres: "This is like pitching in a shooting gallery. There's going to be some four-hour games here.
It was the homer dome, but really, it's played a lot straighter than expected for most of its history. Indeed, in the past couple of years it has looked like a pitchers' park in a lot of ways.
Oh well, just having fun here. Keep this page bookmarked, as we'll revisit this in 2036.
Time Magazine named The Huffington Post one of the best blogs of 2009 and it was recently ranked "the most powerful blog in the world."
I'm assuming it's not for its sports coverage.
If you can get past the media/ad-speak, you'll hear a tale of big market success making for some very happy television networks:
Boasting a murderers’ row of big-market clubs--along with the Yankees and a pair of Los Angeles-area contenders, no less than six of the playoff-bound MLB franchises represent top 10 DMAs--the promise of a deep run to the Fall Classic has Turner Sports practicing its home run trot. (Waiting on deck with its fingers crossed for a great World Series matchup
Wait, I thought "Hass avocados" were simply a variety of avocados, not a brand. Do Granny Smith apples buy ad time? How about Cavendish bananas?
I guess I'm not the only baseball writer who struggles to fit a day job in with the writing:
Buster Olney (1:31 PM)