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Thursday, October 01, 2009
This is starting to get bizarre:
The intrigue about “Ballgate” continued this morning when a Cincinnati Reds clubhouse attendant who is in charge of rubbing up the baseballs, stopped by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s office to tell his side of the story as to how the balls used in the game seemed so slick to Cardinals starter John Smoltz.
I'm assuming from context that this was a conversation that happened while the reporter was in La Russa's office, so we should probably take it at face value. Which doesn't help, really, because it leaves us with, what, the theory that Bronson Arroyo stole the mud balls, replaced them with slick balls, and then outfitted himself with pine tar to take advantage? Why, so he could finally win his 15th game? To get revenge on John Smoltz for snubbing him in an autograph line in 1992?
I have this image of La Russa going on like Queeq with the strawberries.
(Thanks to reader Jim U for the heads up)
Varitek’s pitch calling ability is the stuff of myth, legend, and outright fiction. And as of right now, he can’t do ANYTHING. Can’t hit, can’t throw, can’t block pitches, can’t run. If I forgot something, just assume that he can’t do it. There’s an argument to be made that he is the worst player in the majors who still gets regular playing time. And he’ll make the postseason roster because, hey, he’s the CAPTAIN.
-- Jeff Berardi, in the Quote of the Day thread. Please, no one make a great comment in this thread. I think that if you have a comment of the day in a "Comment of the Day" thread you go back in time or the universe collapses in on itself or something.
The mound is too steep. The balls weren't properly rubbed. The other guys are cheating. Just another day in St. Louis:
[Dave] Duncan, who said the umpires told him the baseballs indeed were rubbed up, said Arroyo was able to deal with the issue because "I'm sure he had pine tar on his cap. He didn't have any problem getting a grip. Balls like that can generate a lot more movement than a slick ball that hasn't been rubbed up."
There's a picture of Arroyo's cap there which shows some sort of darkening under the lid, but it's not particularly clear what it is. Now that it's been raised as an issue, you can bet that the cap is long freakin' gone. Of course, we would know for sure if it was covered in pine tar if the Cardinals had asked the umps to inspect it during the game, but they didn't. Duncan's excuse for not asking for an inspection was telling: he refused, saying that such a thing would be "gamesmanship."
Please. Catching someone you strongly suspect to be cheating during a game is not gamesmanship. It's the absolute right thing to do. It's only gamesmanship if you don't really believe he's cheating and you want to mess with the guy's head.
Of course, complaining about the quality of the balls and alleging that the other side was cheating isn't gamesmanship either. It's just pathetic.
I experienced my first symptoms of playoff fever this morning. I'm going to try to rest and take fluids, but I don't think I can fight it off much longer . . .
I'm sure my playoff fever will subside somewhat when I see Dice-K throw over to first base seven times, come set, step off the rubber, step back on, come set, and throw back over to first base seven more times while playing the Angels.
We all had a lot of fun with the Derek Jeter thing yesterday, but I think today brought the absolute best comment ever:
Who of any of you have the right to call the number one hitter ,an all
If this was one of you doing a parody, please, don't tell me. I want to believe . . .
Lincecum and Cain should just kiss already:
SN: If you could take from both of you to build some kind of four-pitch robo-ace, which pitches of each of yours would you want to have?
I feel kind of dirty after reading that, don't you?
(link via BTF)
If you would have told me that either (a) the tough future Hall of Famer John Smoltz; or (b) the flaky Bronson Arroyo would be whining about the quality of the baseballs in a given game, I would have guessed (b) in a heartbeat. Shows you what I know:
Starter John Smoltz and manager Tony La Russa expressed irritation with what they felt were unusually slick baseballs, and Smoltz also took exception to a third-inning stolen base by Reds rookie Drew Stubbs.
That quote about "the other guy" is what transforms this from a simple whine to a really, really pathetic whine. John: thank you so much for your pre-2009 career and all you did for the Braves and their fans. Now kindly STFU, retire and/or just go away someplace for a while, OK?
(thanks to J.C. Bradbury for the heads up)
I actually wouldn't mind if he's behind the plate for Josh Beckett's Game 2 start -- Varitek's presence is of apparent importance to the pitcher, and that's worth something. I just don't want to see him digging in to the batter's box for a meaningful late-inning at-bat. Heck, I'd rather see the suddenly available Eric Wedge get a few swings.
-- Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, lamenting the state of the Varitek.
(thanks to MooseinOhio for the link)
Tigers 7, Twins 2: I've seen a lot of "well, whaddaya expect, Pavano sucks" comments floating around the internet since last night's loss, but it's all from New York people who can't get his time in Gotham out of their heads. Sure, he got knocked around last night, but before that he had owned the Tigers this season, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA. It wasn't his night, no, but the outcome wasn't preordained. Give Detroit the credit for doing what had to be done. And it is all but done, no? Three games back with four games to play? Sorry, Twinkies, I think it's over.
Marlins 5, Braves 4: Speaking of over. Sixteen freakin' strikeouts by Ricky Nolasco. Sixteen! If only the Braves had listened to Mike Schmidt. But they could have won! A dramatic comeback in the ninth, only to be short-circuited by Matt Diaz's total brain lock at third base with the bases loaded in the ninth. Either run home or don't go, Matt. At least there's dignity in being gunned down at home. Dying at third base is an empty death.
Phillies 10, Astros 3: And now we're talking really over. As in the NL East race, which the Phillies have now clinched. Brade Lidge was brought in to pitch the last out of the ninth with a seven run lead. I'd call that "baby steps" but to do so would be an insult to babies everywhere. This is more like it.
Rockies 10, Brewers 6: And really, given how they're playing (i.e. not on fire, but better than L.A., St. Louis and Philly) they kind of have to be your NL favorites, no?
Reds 6, Cardinals 1: I'm supposed to be writing a preview of whichever NLDS the Cards are a part of, and as I sit here right now, I can't picture doing it without using the word "stanky."
Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 0: Even stankier, though to be fair, the Sox trotted out a AA lineup the day after clinching the wild card. Still, thank goodness Pouliot is writing the Anaheim-Boston preview, because I wouldn't know what to say. Let's all tip out hats to Roy Halladay, who probably had more annoying crap to deal with this season than any other superstar. He plays for an imploding organization who left him dangling in the breeze for over a month, and then when it didn't happen, he got to read all kinds of stuff talking about how he'll never be more valuable, and just wait for the decline, and all of that. Screw that, he said, and went and shut down the Sox (CG SHO, 3 H). Again, sure, it was almost all second stringers, but dominant is dominant.
Indians 5, White Sox 1; White Sox 1, Indians 0: Eric Wedge bids adieu to Progressive Field with the split of the doubleheader. I basically got fired nearly a year ago, so I know from playing out the string in October. Contrary to the gloomy game recaps, my guess is that he rather enjoyed the day. Sure, it will weigh on him later, but once you hear the rumors about the axe coming down, it's something of a relief to actually have it happen. In other news, I heard a rumor that Shapiro had a line on a new manager. I can't mention any names until the deal is official, but I think it will be as soon as the candidate gets off the other line with that guy who is interested in a set of white walls.
Rays 5, Orioles 3: "You're saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it? I'm just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I'm probably just his secretary. I'm just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King. I've been a murder police for ten years. If you're going to lie to me, you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don't you ever lie to me like I'm Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!" In other news, I'm done thinking of new ways to describe the Orioles' suckitude. Here on out, it's only "Homicide" quotes.
Pirates 4, Cubs 0; Pirates 8, Cubs 2: Charlie Morton throws a four-hit shutout in the first game. Donnie Veal got in another third of an inning in the second. Nice job getting him some work, Russell. The Pirates need only split their remaining four to avoid 100 losses. I'm kind of rooting for them.
Nationals 7, Mets 4: Justin Maxwell came in as a pinch runner, hung around for a plate appearance and hit a walkoff grand slam on K-Rod's 37th pitch of the game. Jerry Manuel after the game: "We're just not a good team right now." You don't say, doc?
Royals 4, Yankees 3: Derek Jeter led off the first with a homer, which I'm pretty sure makes him a felon or a fraud or a war criminal of some kind. Joba Chamberlain was booed off the field following 3+ lackluster innings. He's 0-4 with 8.42 ERA in his last eight starts, and at this point I don't see the Yankees putting much if any trust in him in the postseason. I think he was jerked around a bit in the second half, but really, at some point you gotta pitch regardless of how the bosses are doin' you.
Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Clayton Richard tosses a one-hitter over seven and then the bullpen closes the door. Torre: "We certainly don't want to finish the season on a bum note because momentum-wise it doesn't help you in the postseason." Sorry Joe, the bum note has already been played. All that's left to determine is how long you all sustain it. Pirates and Padres. Wow.
Angels 5, Rangers 0: One-hitters were apparently all the rage out west last night. In this one, it was Matt Palmer and four other relievers who did the trick. And it was a leadoff single in the first inning! And Palmer was basically just a spot starter, taking Weaver's place so that the Angels could set up the playoff rotation.
Mariners 7, Athletics 0: OK, so maybe 629 was Griffey's last homer. Although at this rate he may convince someone to give him a job next year. Oh, and Brandon Morrow gave up one hit over eight innings. There's a lot of talk in the game story about how this helps the Mariners figure out the rotation next year because, boy howdy, how great is it to have a second strong starter after Hernandez. That talk, however, doesn't really acknowledge that one start does not a strong starter make, especially when it comes on September 30th against Oakland.
Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Giants are now officially eliminated. Brad Penny threw a complete game. Based on how he looked in the middle of the season in Boston -- sweaty and tired mostly -- I would have bet the lives of my children that he wouldn't make it past a seventh inning for the rest of his days. Throw him in with Zambrano as a guy who either (a) needs to improve his conditioning; or (b) always, always always pitch in 62 degree weather. Brad: have your agent call Mr. Sabean and get a deal done right now.