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Monday, June 01, 2009
Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 2: The game story headlines give credit for the win to the Sox shaking up their lineup -- Pedroia hit leadoff and Ellsbury dropped to eighth -- but Ellsbury actually got on base more than Pedroia did in this game and wasn't on base for either of Kevin Youkilis' home runs. Hey, why don't we give Kevin Youkilis the credit for the win? Or maybe Jon Lester (6 IP 3 H, 1 ER, 12K)? The lineup shakeup seems fairly insignificant to me here.
Mets 3, Marlins 2: John Maine pitches six shutout innings and then left the game because he was barfing. Pansy. He shoulda just rubbed some dirt on it and toughed it out. No I don't know where she should have rubbed the dirt. My mom once taught me that there is a pressure point related to nausea is on the back of your hand, right at the webbing between your thumb and your index finger, so maybe that would have helped. I tried that once, but that treatment must not be rated for hangover-related nausea.
Phillies 4, Nationals 2: Jamie Moyer wins his 250th. Guys who don't have as many career wins as Jamie Moyer: Juan Marichal, Three-Finger Brown, Whitey Ford, Luis Tiant, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Sandy Koufax. If you look at it from one direction, it's proof positive that win-totals aren't all that important when it comes to rating a pitcher, because Moyer isn't as good as any of those guys were. But it's not meaningless, and Moyer has certainly been a lot more useful in his career than anyone ever would have thought he'd be. Hall of Fame discussions are always something of a chore. Moyer is a lock for the Hall of Very Good, though, and in many ways I like HoVG players more than Hall of Famers.
Twins 3, Rays 2: Matt Garza says hello to his old team for the first time since the trade. And he pitched well (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER), but Nick Blackburn pitched a little better (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER). Twins' reliever Jose Mijares caught a ball that smacked off of one of those catwalks up near the roof in Tropicana. Fun and all, but I have no idea how we ever allowed that stadium into Major League Baseball. Given that no one in St. Pete seems to want the Rays to build a new one anyplace, can we commission a study to see whether that can't simply take a can opener to that joint and retrofit it with some sort of retractable roof? A new park would cost hundreds of millions. Could some unique fix to the old one really be that expensive?
Astros 2, Pirates 1: Mike Hampton wins. The AP game story says this: "[Hampton] became only the second pitcher to win eight in a row against the Pirates since 1954, improving to 12-3 lifetime against Pittsburgh." Which is pretty meaningless considering that before the two starts he's had against Pittsburgh this season, he hadn't faced them since 2003. And to get to that eight-win total, you have to count two wins in 2000, when the Pirates were giving nearly 200 at bats to Luis Sojo, and Mike Hampton still had some of his original ligaments. It's kind of like saying that I haven't lost at four square since 1985 after teaching my daughter how to play it over the weekend. Technically true, but utterly meaningless.
Tigers 3, Orioles 0: I promised some Baltimore fans that I'd start saying more nice things about the Orioles. Maybe I'll start tomorrow, because Edwin Jackson (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 7K) didn't do much to showcase their charms yesterday. The Matt Wieters debut weekend ends thusly: 2-11, 2B, 3B and three strikeouts. The extra base hits are nice, but he's not exactly bringing his "Z Game" yet.
White Sox 7, Royals 4: Greinke's outing wasn't bad for mere mortals (7 IP, 8 H, 4R, 3 ER, 7K, 0 BB), but compared to the way he's been pitching it was a shellacking. He still shoulda gotten the win, however, some suspect defense, hibernating bats and three runs from the bullpen killed it for him. The Royals have dropped 16 of 21 games, which means it's pretty safe to say that the little Cinderella story they were trying to put together is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Brewers 5, Reds 2: What a letdown: Yovani Gallardo vs. Micah Owings, and neither of them go deep. Look guys: you two represent the best chance at us getting rid of the DH. You have to hit, and hit with authority if we're going to convince anyone that pitchers batting is fun to watch. Trevor Hoffman is 13 for 13 in save opportunities. And while this one was a three-run affair, six of those saves came in one-run games and another three in two run games, there haven't been a ton of cheapies here.
A's 5, Rangers 4: Adam Kennedy hit two homers, including what ended up being the game winner in the ninth. After not making the Rays out of spring training and then starting the year in Sacramento, Kennedy is at .390/.462/.622 in 93 plate appearances. I'd say he's in the running along with Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones for comeback player of the year award, but whereas those other two at least once arguably rocked their peers and put suckas in fear, Kennedy was never any good in the first place. So no, I won't call it a comeback.
Padres 5, Rockies 2: 20 homers for Adrian Gonzales. Fifteen of them have come on the road. There's been talk about the Padres needing to trade Gonzales. And I can totally see that. The biggest problem is that most of the contenders this year have no need for a first baseman. Sure, maybe the Sox could use him to replace David Ortiz, but beyond that the contender who could use him the most is the Rangers. My guess is that San Diego keeps Gonzales, but man, could you imagine him hitting in Texas? UPDATE: When I wrote this last night I (a) had forgotten that AG had once been with Texas; and (b) hadn't seen that Posnanski had asked the same damn question about the current version of Gonzales hitting in the Ballpark at Arlington. So, like, whatevers.
Giants 5, Cardinals 3: Rich Aurilia hit a homer in the 7th to put the Giants ahead to stay. In other news, Rich Aurilia is still alive. From the game story: "La Russa batted his pitcher eighth in all three games of the series and has done so every game since May 18. The team is 8-5 during that stretch." On a related note, I haven't had oatmeal for breakfast since early February, and I have not been hit by a bus during that stretch.
Indians 5, Yankees 4: Pavano deserved the win, but didn't get it thanks to the always-reliable Cleveland bullpen. The Tribe will take the win, though. They're probably less satisfied with having to put Grady Sizemore on the DL before the game and the fact that Victor Martinez whacked the hell out of his knee on Saturday night keeping him out of the lineup.
Braves 9, Diamondbacks 3: The Braves lineup, which has been on a saltpeter diet recently, sprung to life against Max Scherzer, rattling out fifteen hits. Chipper Jones was 3-4 with 4 RBI and he and Johnson and Escobar combined to go 9-15, scoring seven of the Braves' nine runs. Also, Kris Medlen offered his first effective start of the season, giving up one run and striking out nine over six innings.
Angels 9, Mariners 8: Seattle had leads of 6-0 and 8-1 before woofing this one away. Which was only fair, seeing as the Angels did the same favor for them on Saturday night. Ichiro has now hit in 24 straight and has his average up to .354.
Dodgers 8, Cubs 2: Sean Marshall was as hittable last night as Eric Milton was a couple of years ago (4.1 IP, 8 H. 8 R), and Eric Milton was pretty decent once again (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). I watched this one on TV, and though I know how much some people hate night games in Wrigley, the park looks absolutely gorgeous as the sun is going down and the day fades into night.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:05am
I know this has happened a lot lately, but today is yet another day where genuine shystering takes precedence over ShysterBalling, and I'm going to be in court all morning and possibly into the afternoon. I give it 80% odds that my whole day is going to shot, so this may be the last you hear of me until tomorrow.
Sorry, but like anyone else, I gots to pay the bills.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:00am
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday. It's probably been two or three years since I'd had a day in court as contentious as yesterday. There were something like seven lawyers involved. People arguing back and forth. Objections on top of objections and, to top it off, a judge who isn't the biggest fan of my case. One of the lawyers opposite me was a former boss, so that was fun too. All of that is the sort of thing that makes for a long, long day, so by the time I got back from court the part of my brain that produces wit, snark, and opinion was working off of a backup generator. Punting the rest of the day was probably the best move under such circumstances.
When I got home I pitched a wiffle ball to ShysterBoy, drank wine, and watched a pretty bitchin' Star Trek episode. As of 10:30 or so I was back to full speed, so I was able to get down to business. This kind of business:
Yankees 5, Indians 2: In going so deep into the game, Joba Chamberlain finally becomes the eighth inning pitcher everyone seems to want him to be. If he wants to keep the critics happy after Mariano finally retires, he is going to have to go to complete games. And this one makes eighteen straight games without an error for the Yankees. So who's gonna be the first guy to draw everyone's fire by identifying all of the balls where Jeter didn't get close enough to even risk an error, let alone threaten a competent play? Rob Neyer? Tom Tango? John Dewan? James Click? Mike Emeigh? Onion?
Pirates 8, Mets 5: New York's bullpen flashes back to 2008 and blows a 5-0 lead. Andy LaRoche continues his good hitting -- his line for May was .330/411/.457 -- going 2-4 with a triple and three RBI.
Astros 4, Rockies 1: Why didn't anyone inform me that Miguel Tejada was batting .353? Don't we have a communications protocol around here? I can't be expected to make sound command decisions if my crew is hiding things from me. Look, I trust you all as officers. You're all fine men and women. But if I continue having to find this sort of thing out myself we're just going to go a "report everything" regime in which I take all discretion out of your hands. I hope it doesn't come to that. Now carry on.
Marlins 7, Brewers 4: Jorge Julio came in in the sixth inning with a can of kerosene in one hand and a match in the other, and then Ken Macha sprayed the conflagration with hairspray when he brought Todd Coffey in.
White Sox 6, A's 2: That's four in a row for Chicago, and 10 of 13 overall. Gavin Floyd pitched well enough to win (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8K) but his teammates scored too late to allow him to claim the W. I imagine that it is exactly that sort of disrespect that is causing all of these pitchers to refuse trades to the White Sox. I could go into brutal detail regarding how bad the A's are playing these days, but commenter APBA Guy does such a better job of it than I do, that I suppose I should leave it to him.
Reds 5, Cardinals 3: A win is nice, but losing Edinson Volquez in the second inning due to numbness in his right hand and/or a reaggravation of his back injury (unclear from early reports) is not good at all.
The Orioles Game: Paul Blair goes 3-4 and both Frank Robinson and Merv Rettemund drive in two as Baltimore wins Game 5 and thus take the 1970 World Series from the Cincinnati Reds. The real hero of this game was probably Mike Cuellar, though, who gutted out a complete game, giving up three runs and atoning for his short, ineffective outing in Game 2. Still, the story of the series had to be Brooks Robinson's play at the hot corner. He's a once in a lifetime talent down there, folks, and this is coming from a guy who watches Clete Boyer play whenever he gets the chance. Wait, what's the problem? In yesterday's comments, you guys said you wanted good stories about the Orioles irrespective of whether anything good happened in the previous night's game. Isn't this what you were talking about?
Orioles 1, Mariners 0: Fine. Rich Hill shut out the Mariners for 7, giving up only two hits and Jim Johnson and George Sherrill handled the other two innings to seal the deal. The Orioles would probably like to play the Mariners all the time, as they have won nine of eleven against them.
Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: Hiroki Kuroda is back after missing almost two months with an oblique strain. I hate those. I much prefer my strains to be perpendicular nor parallel. Anyway, he gave up two runs and three hits in five innings, but got nothing from his offense by way of support. The L.A. bullpen threw five wild pitches, which is always fun.
Phillies 5, Padres 3: Adrian Gonzalez (hey, I can spell it right!) hit his 21st, but it wasn't enough as Joe Blanton was in rare, effective form. OK, he's won three in a row, and his last start was really impressive, but I'm not prepared to take him out of the liability column just yet.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:35am
I find this:
California table grapes are joining peanuts and popcorn at AT&T Park as part of an effort to offer healthy food choices at San Francisco Giants baseball games. Jim Howard, vice president of the Table Grape Commission, says pre-washed, de-stemmed Thompson seedless, red flame and other varieties have been at concession stands for about two weeks and sales are "so far, so good."
Less weird than this:
On Aug. 2, the first 20,000 fans at AT&T park will receive a free "Grapes from California" T-shirt designed by Giants player Pablo Sandoval.
How does that sort of thing go down? Do the grape growers and the Giants say "we need a t-shirt; someone call Sandoval up here?" Does Sandoval have a shirt-design business already? Maybe he wields some sort of power with the Table Grape Commission that we can't possibly hope to understand. So many questions.
On a related note, does anyone remember this? I have to think there's some relationship here.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:02am
Things I wrote this morning as my mind reeled after learning that the new lean-and-mean General Motors will have fewer total workers than GM employed in the town of my birth less than 30 years ago:
I plan on posting all afternoon, but if there is any delay, it's because I'm busy exploring the concept of large-scale urban agriculture in Genesee County, Michigan.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:15pm
Tiger Stadium's extended pain and suffering is about to end:
What remains of historic Tiger Stadium will be demolished after the city rejected a US$33.4-million proposal by a non-profit group to preserve and renovate the old ballpark. The Economic Development Corp. board voted 7-1 to authorize the complete demolition of the stadium. Detroit Economic Growth Corp. vice-president Waymon Guillebeaux said the stadium will be levelled as soon as a contract is negotiated with a contractor.
Anyone who has taken a drive through Detroit since, oh, 1967 will find that last quote rich indeed, but really, this is the right decision.
Tiger Stadium was as noble and beautiful as a building can be. Rather then be allowed to rust, rot and decay, it should have been somberly imploded on September 28th 1999, with Ernie Harwell, Al Kaline and Willie Horton pushing the detonator while Aretha Franklin sang "Amazing Grace." It was not imploded, however. It was abused. Billy Crystal was allowed to dump paint on it and pretend it was Yankee Stadium. It was used for Bud Bowl 2006. It was the subject of a photo essay in the Detroit Free Press showing weeds and other non-perfectly-cut, emerald green vegetation growing all over the grounds and even in the stands. Worst of all, it was left there, in plain view of tens of thousands cars passing it each day on I-75, to fall victim to entropy and neglect.
If there is anyone beyond the The Economic Development Corp. who has say in this matter, I implore them to act swiftly, act decisively and act mercifully and allow the wrecking balls to do their work. Because while it's too late to give that noble building the noble death it deserved, we can end its, and our, misery.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:50pm
Bill Simmons has a theory on David Ortiz. I think it makes more sense than the PED-withdrawal thing people have been muttering about:
How many Latin players have been exposed for lying about their ages in the past few years? Hell, one of Papi's best friends -- Tejada -- was found to have cut two years off his birth certificate when he was 17, er, 19 … you get the point. Watching Papi flounder now, I'd believe he's really 36 or 37 (not 33) before I'd believe PEDs are responsible. In a recent game in Minnesota, he couldn't catch up to an 89 mph fastball. Repeat: 89 mph!
I still won't rule out some weird injury, and whether he's truly injured or not, I bet he spends a loooong stretch on the DL this year if for no other reason than they need to do something with him.
But it could easily be age. A lot of guys simply fall off a cliff at a certain age, and perhaps Ortiz finally just made it to the cliff.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:10pm
The Nationals have fired pitching coach Randy St. Claire. He's being a total pro about it:
"That's life," St. Claire said. "I've been in this game for 31 years. I've been fired before. But it's a tough one... I would have liked to be around when the organization takes off."
When I got laid off from the law firm last year I said much the same thing. The guy who laid me off then intimated that it was exactly that kind of laid back attitude that made it easier for them to lay me off in the first place.
Which is yet another example of why baseball > law firms.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:35pm
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Reader YankeefanLen wrote me yesterday afternoon with the following observation: "It strikes me that this 3 game series- Yankees v. Rangers, Tigers v. Sox, could be a portent to the first round playoffs. Tigers have division lead and would have to play BoSox, who would be, of course,wild card, and from all I see, Rangers and Tigers should hold on to West and Central." Lots of baseball to go, but yeah, I could see that happening. So Let's see how the division series are playing out:
Yankees 12, Rangers 3: Jorge Posada's throwing error broke the team errorless streak, but given what he did at the plate (3-4, HR, 4 RBI), I don't think his teammates mind all that much.
Red Sox 5, Tigers 1: Crap, this means that we're going to have a Boston-New York ALCS, doesn't it? If so, I give the Yankees the edge, because the Red Sox' closer is shaky. Papelbon came into the game and gave up three straight singles to load the bases, then struck out the side to preserve the win. John Rocker used to do that kind of thing, and it's the reason why I'm bald and jumpy and everything. The Sox beat up Porcello a bit over 4.1 innings, and since he's, like, 13 years-old and on a no-doubt strictly-enforced pitch count, making him work is the key to beating him.
Pirates 3, Mets 1: Zach Duke beats Johan Santana, with the former failing to strike out a single Met and the latter striking out only three Pirates. Guess that means that everyone was just suffering from a case of the feebles.
Blue Jays 6, Angels 4: Ah, there's where all of the strikeouts went. Halladay (CG, 7 H, 4 R, 14K) was hording them all.
Braves 6, Cubs 5: Atlanta sent Jordan Schafer down to Gwinnett before the game. Jeff Francoeur, obviously thinking "there but for the grace of God go I," responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie up a game the Braves trailed 5-0 in the eighth. He walked once, too! That kind of killed it for Randy Wells, who took a no-hitter into the seventh. Chipper Jones' RBI single in the 12th definitely killed it for the Cubs.
Rays 6, Royals 2: Andy Sonnanstine lowers his ERA to 7.16 and Matt Joyce goes 3-4 with a double, a homer and four RBI. Kyle Davies walked six guys and threw 114 pitches in 5.2 IP for the Royals. Guess he's not into that whole, you know, brevity thing.
Nationals 10, Giants 6: Tim Lincecum strikes out the 500th batter in his brief career, but then sits down and watches his bullpen give up six runs in the eighth. Ron Villone gets the win, which inspired me to look at his career stats for a moment. I knew he was a journeyman, but I didn't know that Washington was his 12th team. Mike Morgan, much celebrated for his nomadic ways, "only" pitched for 12 teams himself. Have left arm, will travel, eh Ron?
Athletics 5, White Sox 0: Mazzaro, Breslow & Ziegler -- which sounds like a personal injury law firm -- combine to shut out Chicago. Colon, Gobble, Carrasco & Whisler -- which kind of sounds like onomatopoeia from a French children's book about farms or something -- were not as impressive.
Astros 3, Rockies 2: Miguel Tejada goes 4-6 with three RBI including the game-winning home run in extra innings. Apparently he did not hear me when I said earlier in the day that he was playing over his head and that his current level of production was not sustainable. It's as if he's doing this just to make me look ridiculous. And a man in my position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous. Now you get the hell out of here. And just know it if you want to try any rough stuff that I ain't no band leader. Yeah, I heard that story.
Mariners 8, Orioles 2: Erik Bedard (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7K) was very considerate to put together a nice performance at home against the Orioles so as to make everyone forget, even if for only a couple of hours, about just how badly the Mariners were fleeced in the Adam Jones deal.
Phillies 10, Padres 5: Raul Ibanez (3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI) may be reaping the rewards now, but there will be hell to pay when it is found out that his 2009 production is the result of his clandestinely stealing the life force of some younger, unknown ballplayer in the course of his dark, twisted effort to attain immortality. Yeah, I dropped a Fistandantilus reference. I don't care. I'm old now, and my kids will soon think I'm a dork anyway, so why should I pretend not to be?
Marlins 10, Brewers 3: Manny Parra was lifted after throwing exactly 100 pitches. Given that the dude gave up ten runs on eleven hits in that time, I'm going to assume that it wasn't a forced pitch-count thing. For a guy with a bum groin, Hanley Ramirez is hitting damn well. Three for five both Monday night and last night.
Twins 4, Indians 3: Joe Mauer (3-3, HR, BB 3 RBI) is not bad. And as if Cleveland's season needs to get any worse, Asdrubal Cabrera left the game with shoulder injury.
Cardinals 5, Reds 2: Nick Stavinoha comes through again, hitting a two-run double to put the Redbirds ahead for good in the sixth. He's been driving in a lot of runs since his callup in mid-May. After the game he had this to say: "Memphis is a nice place and all. but I like it a little better here."
Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5: Danny Haren (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 7K -- and 3-3 at the plate!) deserved much better than the no-decision he got thanks to the Tony Pena and Dan Schlereth-led bullpen implosion. As for the Dodgers, they are now halfway through Manny' suspension and, really, haven't missed him a bit. When he comes back it will be as if they went out and acquired a big bat at the trade deadline without having to give up anything in return.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:47am
Josh at Jorge Says No! interviewed Garry Templeton recently, and the results are here. Templeton, who is managing the Long Beach Armada in the Golden League, holds forth on the quality of independent league lineups, talks about the most exciting play in baseball (sorry Jaffe, but he disagrees with you on what play that is, and I'm going with Templeton on this one), and provides you with the thing you wanted most in this world: a Hideki Irabu update.
Great work, Josh.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:41am