Tagged: San Diego Padres

First half NL Cy Young Winner: Jake Peavy

Sure, we’re not to the All Star Break quite yet, but we’re halfway through. Over the next couple of days, we’re going to take a look at the best
players in each league thus far.

Jake Peavy (9-2): 105 IP, 113 K’s, 2.14 ERA.

Jake Peavy has been a great pitcher for quite some time now. As a matter of
fact, if it weren’t for his 2006 hiccup, many would probably regard him as the
greatest pitcher in the game. After all, Peavy finished 2004 with a 2.27 ERA,
and ’05 with a 2.88 ERA and 216 K’s in 203 IP. However, pitching for a
less-than-stellar Padres team, he went just 28-13 combined. In 2006, he had an
‘off’ year. Most of his stats were identical, except that he gave up
significantly more hits, resulting in a 4.09 ERA.

In 16 games so far, Peavy has gone 9-2. He leads the NL in strikeouts with
113 – that’s 9.69K/9IP, and batters are hitting a meager .216 off him. However,
his most remarkable statistical improvement – and there have been many – has been his ability to keep those balls that are
put in play on the ground. Previously, Peavy had been a slight fly-out pitcher,
hovering around a G/F of 1.20. This year, his G/F ratio is at 1.49. The result
is 1 HR allowed and 10 double plays. In comparison, he forced 10 and 13 DP’s in
all of 2005 and 2006, while allowing 18 and 23 HR, respectively. While 1.49 is
generally the line between a ground ball and fly out pitcher, it is an
‘increase’ over his career average and shows that Peavy has changed something on
his pitches, resulting in fewer HR and more DP’s. That provides evidence that
his performance this year has not been due to mere chance, but rather to a
marked change. Of course, the debate of a pitcher’s control over a batted ball
is one for another blog entirely.

The reality is that Peavy is having a season nearly identical to that of his
2005 campaign, but while giving up fewer walks. This, along with the G/F ratio,
again shows that he is not having a string of lucky starts. As such, Peavy wins
out and takes away the Ballhouse’s first half NL Cy Young Award.

The competition wasn’t easy, and Peavy wasn’t the original choice here. But
after some discussion, Kevin and I decided that he deserved it. The two other
finalists were teammate Chris Young and LA Dodger Brad Penny. However, the fine
folks at ESPN, in all their wisdom, provided us with some pretty compelling
stats that shifted the voting in Peavy’s favor. One of them is a Bill James
innovation called the "Game Score." Peavy’s AGS, (Average Game Score,) was 63.1,
while Young’s was 60.7, and Penny’s was 59.9. Interestingly enough, this showed
that the Ballhouse’s initial picks of the top three NL pitchers were correct.
The next highest regular NL starter was Cub Rich Hill, with 58.6.   

We’ll be continuing our first half awards with our AL/NL MVP and AL/NL Rookie
of the Year later this week.


Let’s talk NL… exciting?

Quick note: you can now access the site at http://www.bihgm.com, (starting later on Saturday.) When you type in this address, you will automatically be directed here. Still waiting for all you regular readers, (and any others,) to leave your comment. So far, the reader inventory has racked up one new reader, Devovsky. Appreciate the kind words, man. Keep reading and keep leaving comments. Jason, you didn’t miss a whole lot the other night. And Kellia, thanks for being our alert reader of the day. You’re right. Ben Sheets does, indeed, pitch for the Brewers, not the Pirates. For some reason, I can’t get that into my head. Geoff – I was going to do a comparative analysis of Ferocious Lion replacements, but I’m going to save that for a few days. But, I will say I’m hearing that the Phillies GM is "expecting a call" from Brian Cashman. Anyway, we continue the call to all readers – leave a comment on this post if you’ve never done so, or, if you’re that against an MLB account, (and I can’t see why,) use the new chat box on the left sidebar. Tonight we’re going to talk about the National League. I don’t like the National League at all. It is, overall, boring. I mean, it certainly has it’s advantages. What would baseball be without Albert Pujols? You’ve also got more of a thinking game when you enter in the hitting pitcher. But in the end, the teams are worse, and the league is obviously worse for it.

Phillies v. Reds
Ever hear of Cole Hamels? Supposed to be the savior of the Phillies, and he made his MLB Debut tonight. He’s invincible, they say. Basically, the first five innings are empty, with the exception of a 2-run home run by the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. And Hamels has a no hitter right until 2 outs in the 5th, when the Reds’ Felipe Lopez breaks it up with a hit into right center. Interestingly, that new centerfielder (in for Rowand) tried to pass it off as a trap at first, but then realized that as he was doing so, Lopez was still running. Another fun time was had when the Phillies’ David Bell was up to the plate and the broadcasters noted that Royals Manager Buddy Bell was his father. They talked about how David is probably pretty proud of the Royals recent success, (three straight wins, prior to tonight’s loss to the Orioles,) but that he probably tells his Dad, "Look, I love you Dad, but please don’t trade for me." After sharing a good laugh, one of them says, "Aww, we’re just kidding, all you Royals fans out there." Seriously? First, you’re assuming that there are Royals fans out there, and that they really do exist. Next, you’re thinking that of all those Royals fans – figure there are a couple thousand in the whole country – are tuning in to the Reds v. Phillies game on Friday night. And, as if that wasn’t enough, you’re assuming that they don’t already know how terrible their team is. Judging by the Chad Carroll loyalty sale, I’m thinking they already know. So remember, assumptions are dangerous. In the bottom of the 6th, after the Phillies yanked Cole Hamels for a pinch hitter (who struck out) in the top of the 6th, Ryan Madsen is pitching to Austin Kearns. First, know that Hamels left his MLB Debut with a 2-0 lead, after allowing only one hit in five innings. Knowing that, Kearns absolutely rips Madsen out of the yard. Remember the Aaron Boone 2003 ALCS Game 7 Home Run off Tim Wakefield? Of course you do. It was exactly like that home run, right down the left field line, except that it went about 150 feet further. So now it’s 2-1, Phillies. Adam Dunn comes up, strikes out, and sits down. Next up, Edwin Encarnacion, who takes Madsen deep for another homer. Just like that, poof. Hamels, who left on top of his game, ends up losing his first win. By the way, the Hamels guy has nasty stuff. Check him out. Phillies beat Reds, 8-4.

Brewers v. Mets
When I saw that Lima Time was holding the Brewers to zero runs, (while my man Dave Bush had given up three,) I was surprised. The Phillies v. Reds game was getting boring, so I switched. Anyway, it’s 3-1 Mets in the bottom of the 5th, with the Brewers up. Here’s how it goes down. First, Damian Miller grounds out. Then Brady Clark gets hit by a pitch. Dave Bush sacrifices Clark to 2nd, then Rickie Weeks walks. So now it’s men on 1st and 2nd with two outs, not a huge jam for Lima. But you know the story of Lima, so you know it’s going to get bad, you just have no idea how bad. Bill Hall singles to left field. Now the bases are juiced, two outs, and it’s all on Lima’s shoulders. The game could go three ways now; either Lima reaches back and gets Geoff Jenkins out, he gets lucky and Jenkins gets himself out, or Lima buckles and the Brewers bust the game wide open. We’re going to go with option number three, and so did Lima. First he pitched Geoff three straight balls. And then Geoff hits a double all the way back to the center field wall – a base clearing double. Now it’s 4-3 Brewers, and Chad Bradford is in for Lima. The broadcasters provide a helpful, "And this call to the bullpen provided by Goodyear, who reminds you that it’s no longer Lima Time." Then Carlos Lee – All-Time Great – singles to center, scoring Jenkins. 5-3, Bradford replaced by Darren Oliver, Prince Fielder up. Fielder homers, knocking in Lee. Brewers up, 7-3. Then Corey "I’m… not so good" Koskie pops out. By the way, in 2004 Koskie was with the Twins. In 2005 it was the Blue Jays. Go Brewers, 6 runs in one inning.   

Rickie Weeks made another simple defensive error later in the game. Trying to get a Web Gem, with a runner on 1st and a ground ball straight to him, he grabs the ball, jumps up and tucks his legs, (???) and makes a terrible throw to 2nd. There was really no play at 2nd, but who cares? Rickie – next time I’m going to have to direct you to 1st base on that kind of play. And don’t try to earn a Web Gem when you’ve made 11 errors already – more than anyone else in the league. Later in the inning, Carlos Lee (in left field) tried to make one of those sliding catches in foul territory, but collided with the tarp and missed the catch. He was ok, thankfully. But think. The game is at Miller Park, and Lee hit the tarp. You know that tarp is there to stop the rain, right? Apparently the fact that Miller Park has a roof doesn’t really matter. As a matter of fact, MLB rules dictate that all parks must have a tarp, just in case. Brewers beat Mets, 9-6.

Dodgers v. Giants
Boring. I mean, what can I say, I tried to watch some NL ball, but around the bottom of the sixth I was so bored that I decided I’d rather… do something else while I attempt to unpack from school. Anyway, here are my thoughts on this game – Brad Penny is a wimp. As the announcers said, this guy is a 100-pitch guy, and when he’s done his 100 pitches, he’s gone. He was even accused of "needing to have that wounded warrior attitude," by one of the broadcasters. In other words, "everything’s against me, I guess I’m just going to have to show them." Anyway, after every pitch, Penny picked one of the following motions: 1) Flailing off the mound, 2) Stretching shoulders and back out, 3) Limping around the mound, 4) Putting his hands on his knees and resting, 5) Rolling eyes, poor body language-type move. And, as the broadcasters also pointed out, no one on his team seemed to care. And the charade didn’t end when Penny reached the dugout. When he arrived, he grimaced as he sat down and reached for a hot cushion, then with a real monster of a grimace. Back to the broadcasters, who said, "that’s not a happy boy face there." Yet people continued to ignore him, while the broadcasters continued to accuse him of "trying to find ways out of the ballgame before the seventh." Listen, I’ll tell you when I know Brad Penny is hurt. In the 2004 season, just a few games after Penny was acquired from the Marlins, he threw a pitch and just went down. He was screaming, grabbing his elbow, running around the mound, the whole deal.  The Dodger trainer runs out, but the Dodgers have never been known for their superior managing skills, certainly not at BHGM. So the trainer tells Penny, "hey, try throwing another pitch." And of course, Penny gets about halfway through his delivery before he’s felled. Did this guy work with NASA before the Dodgers hired him? "That rocket looks a little off… let’s shoot it up again, see if it’s still works…" No, bad idea. So after seeing the Giants roll around the field, I turned that off.

The New Chat Box
The observant among you will have noticed that yet another feature has been added to the BHGM sidebar. This has got to be among my favorites, along with the BHGM Search. I encourage you to try out both. The search is a valuable tool if you’re reading along, and you don’t know what I’m talking about. Just type in, "Dusty Baker clogging bases," and you’ll find out what I mean when I talk about that. Of course, I hope to have the "What you missed in BHGM" post up sometime soon, and that’s going to be detailing all of those obscure references we have here. It should be great. Anyway, the chat – the idea is that, for those of you who still don’t want to leave a comment, you can talk amongst yourselves in that little chat box. All you have to do is enter your name, (no email or URL is necessary, although it’s always welcome,) and a message. For example, "You’re wrong about the Royals, they’re not that bad." That’s the kind of thing that will earn you a full-post ripping here, for being wrong. Anyway, try it out. If no one uses it, I’ll just take it down.

Did someone whisper into the Padres’ ear?
Alright, it’s time to put an end to this. The Padres have won 12 of their last 13. This is just weird. I mean, they’re on fire. Remember last year when the Pirates won 10 straight? Maybe it was in 2004. Either way, no one panicked because hey, they’re still the Pirates. But I’m freaking out right now. In the NL West, winning 12 of 13 can put you up for a long time. Like, the rest of the year. Arizona and Colorado both lost tonight, and now the Padres are suddenly tied for first with the Rockies. They could then continue at a .500 clip for the next 125 games or so, and easily win the division. Again, I refer you to my NL West Solutions, which, according to Geoff, don’t take 15 minutes.

Pirates v. Marlins
In another Battle of the Titans, the Pirates beat the Marlins. By a score of 12-9. Those 12 runs are big for that team, which is second to last in runs scored with 144 – which, for all you math whizzes our there, means that exactly 1/12 of their season run total came tonight. ‘First place’ in that category goes to, you guessed it, the Royals, with 126.  Right now, the Royals are on pace to lose 112 games and score 619 runs. Can’t think about it.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And leave comments, and check out the chat box.

Finals Edition: Abnormal Psychology

As you regular readers know, I have finals right now. I just had my first one at 3p today, and I finish at 5p on Wednesday. So until then, we won’t be seeing much. Pretty much, I have a few posts that I have in draft form that I work on throughout the day, (I started this one on Friday.) But I had the idea of trying to write one post based on each of my finals. Today we have Abnormal Psychology, which for those of you who don’t know, is basically mental disorders class. Next, we have Chemistry. Not sure how I’ll work anything baseball into that one… in fact, I’m pretty sure it will be impossible. There’s really not much you can do to tie ethylenediaminetetraacetato to Major League Baseball. Heck, even this one is a real stretch. After that comes Calculus, and then Biology. Those last two should be fun. And I’m just gonna skip the Body Building and Development one, it would be too easy. Not a real class anyway.

Abnormal Psychology
Does Barry Bonds fit the criteria for "Schizotypal Personality Disorder?" Schizotypal Personality Disorder is defined as,

A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive and perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following…

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. There are nine such traits, of which Bonds must fit five to qualify. I’ve selected some that may be possible – ideas of reference, unusual perceptual experiences including bodily illusions, odd thinking and speech, suspiciousness or paranoid ideation, inappropriate or constricted affect, and lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives. Well that’s six. But does he really have Schizotypal Personality Disorder? No. He has Delusional Disorder, Persecutory subtype*. Think about it, delusions of persecution? "The IRS is after me. The mistress is after me. The media is after me. The reporters are after me. Congress is after me." You know what, Barry? Don’t cheat on your taxes, your wife, or your job, and you’ll be ok.
(* – Might not be correct.)

Albert Pujols is good. No, he’s really, really, good.
Albert Pujols was recognized by Congress for being good. That’s correct. Pujols, the first baseman for the St. Louis Albert Pujols, (formerly the Cardinals,) was honored by Congress
today for "receiving 18 of 32 first-place votes to capture the MVP
Title." I’m talking about the Nation’s Congress. Well, actually, The
Committee on Government Reform, but it’s the same thing. After it honored Albert, it proceeded
to honor one of his citizens – Chris Carpenter – for posting "a 21-5
record while also achieving career highs in E.R.A., strikeouts, innings
pitched, completed games and shutouts." Furthermore, because they were
so busy honoring Albert and Chris, the Congress missed attending the
groundbreaking of the National’s new stadium. "Some of us have passed up
the opportunity to be there to conduct the people’s business," chairman
Tom Davis said. I mean, there’s no way. Albert Pujols is amazing. Dude
has got a lot of pop in his bat. But to receive congressional
recognition? Perhaps a little over the top, no?

The Cubs ruined another pitcher, and his name isn’t Wood or Prior.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, (news from Larry "The Magician" Rothschild is that Mark has ‘contracted’ food poisoning, which will further slow his ‘recovery’ from a phantom injury,) it did. Seems the Cubs released one of their 2002 First Round draft picks in January, but no one took notice until now. He was the typical "promising right-hander" and received an $875,000 signing bonus. His name was Matt Clanton. You’ve probably never heard of him. Why not? In three seasons, he made just two appearances. But it goes deeper – a lot deeper. Apparently Clanton had – surprise – a very injury-riddled ‘career’. So much so, in fact, that he was "verbally abused" by the front office. He claims that the Cubs accused him of faking injury, called him a "piece of s—," and that GM Jim Hendry told him, "This organization is not a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. You shut the f— up." Clanton maintains that he was injured and unable to perform, and that the Cubs were just pissed because they had invested in a first-round pick and gotten less than nothing in return.
But wait, slow down. The Cubs accused Clanton of faking injuries? Well, I’m not gonna name names here, but I think there are some other candidates for ‘faking injuries’ on the Cubs staff. Think ‘trees’ and ‘before.’

But anyway, it gets better. Clanton quit on his team in his senior year of high school. Also, in Clanton’s last game as a collegiate player – in the playoffs and with the season on the line – "things got interesting," in the fourth inning, according to his coach. Interesting because Clanton, who had started, was nowhere to be seen. He was seen, however, in the bullpen, taking off his cleats and saying he was done pitching. After the game, his coach confronted him and was told that he was "unwilling to jeopardize his arm or his future for this team." After hearing "a hundred times" that everyone else was selfish, the coach informed Matt that he was selfish. Matt responded by telling the coach that "you’re f—ing selfish." I have to side with the coach on that one. After this incident, Matt’s coach received calls from "about a dozen teams" asking what happened. "Those teams basically withdrew his name from the draft," he said. Obviously, the Cubs were not one of those dozen teams. But that wasn’t the first time the Cubs had wasted a first round pick on a player that was "removed from the draft" by most of the other teams.

In 1999, the Cubs used their first round pick to draft Ben Christensen. While playing for Wichita State University, Ben deliberately threw at an opposing batter. Not the batter in the box, but the batter in the on-deck circle. While Christensen was warming up, he threw a 91mph ‘practice pitch’ that ‘sailed’ 25ft away from the target. The throw "shattered" Anthony Molina’s face, knocking him unconscious and fracturing five bones, while leaving a 1-inch gash above his left eye. Molina was permanently blinded in his left eye, ending his baseball career. So why did Ben do it? He believed that Molina was timing his pitches. Did he apologize? No – he said he was just trying to brush Molina back. Did his pitching coach apologize? No. His pitching coach said, "If the on-deck hitter is standing too close to home plate, you brush him back. I teach that." Nevermind that the game hadn’t even started yet. Christensen finished his college career with a 21-1 record and received a $1 million signing bonus from the Cubs, who’s scouting director at the time was – Jim Hendry. Christensen was last seen with the Mariners in 2004. I don’t think he’s ever been past the AA level; in fact, he may be out of the game entirely. Good choice, Jim.

Just in case you’re wondering if the Cubs have a pattern of making bad first round picks, this should help you decide. I looked through the Cubs first round draft picks, all the way to 1970. You want to know how many players I had heard of, besides Christensen and Clanton? Four. Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Corey Patterson, and Jon Garland. Needless to say, only zero of those players are still with the team. What? Kerry and Mark still play? Right. More on the Cubs in a few minutes.

What would a day at BHGM be if we didn’t make fun of the Royals?
Well, kind of boring. That said, PFC Grudzielanek’s Royals did go on a 2-game winning streak, beating the Twins 1-0 on Thursday and the White Sox 5-4 on Friday. Of course, they dropped Saturday’s game 2-9. But you have to give the squad some credit, because they’re still ‘battling’ it. But as big of news as that is, it’s not our story tonight. Rather, one lifelong fan is "saying never." 34-year-old Chad Carroll has sold his loyalty to the Royals on eBay. That’s right. For $278.47, ‘magdawg69’ was able to purchase the sports fan loyalty of Chad Carroll.

I did 25 years. That’s enough time. I’m paroled. I’m gone. I’ve been released on good behavior… I don’t see it getting any better in my lifetime. People tell me never to say never. Well, I’m saying never… I can’t be seduced back. There’s no way.

Seriously? Could I have asked for a better quote? This guy has been following the Royals for 25 years, and now he’s so sick of it that he refusing to follow them anymore. And think about it; he’s 34 years old, and he doesn’t see it getting any better in his lifetime. Dude’s going to be around for about another 50 years, and he thinks that when he’s finished, the Royals will still be fighting Mark’s War. Can you imagine Geoff auctioning off his loyalty to the Yankees? Uh, no way. First we’ve turned the Royal’s Season into a military campaign, and now being a fan is a lot like going to jail. I guess I can see how ‘being a Royals fan’ and ‘spending 25 years in the hole’ could be confused with each other. Just add that to the list of things that the Royals will never live down. Recall that it was just yesterday that we bashed on the Royal’s slogan, "Your team, your town." Funny because I talked about how bad it would make someone feel to realize the Royals are "their team," and how they would consider moving to St. Louis because of it. Or, just auction off "your team" on eBay. Either one works.

Back to the Cubs.
I’m watching the Cubs v. Padres game right now. Only because Sean Marshall had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning. Oh yeah, and because the Cubs are hilarious. That’s why I follow them. There’s no telling when Dusty will do something outrageous, or when the players themselves will pull a crack stunt. In the past few years, we’ve had Kyle Farnsworth tackle Paul Wilson, LaTroy Hawkins trying to fight umpire Tim Tschida, Scott Eyre taking out Derrek Lee, and Dusty Baker doing Dusty Baker-type things. Anyway, there’s a ton more, but we’d be here all day. Needless to say, the "What you missed" post, which is still in progress, has it’s own section devoted to the Cubs. For those of you who don’t know, the "What you missed" post will be recapping all of the obscure references we make on BHGM – from Mark’s War, to Operation Shutdown, to Chris Duffy is a Liar, to Denny McLain works at 7-11, to superstitions, to Rick James. It’s all there. It’s also taking a long time to write. Back to the Cubs. I’m sitting here watching the game, and what do I hear, circa behind home plate?

Where’s Derrek Lee!? Where’s Sammy Sosa!? Where’s Vance Law!?

Apparently, there was a Cubs fan in the crowd who had just had enough. I guess 95-some years of losing will do that to a guy. Whenever you’re looking for Vance Law, you’re in trouble. Needless to say, the Cubbies gave up a 10th inning bomb to lose the game. Surprised? Well, they were playing the Padres, who have now won eight in a row. Like I’ve said a million times before – I don’t care if the Padres win 162 games in a row, I’m still not down with a franchise that got into the playoffs with an 82-80 record, after a "hot finish" no less.

That about does it for today. I might get something out tomorrow, maybe not.

Nats owner news, Royals, Mariners, and big news

We all know the Nationals have a new owner now. What we didn’t know is that this makes them a better baseball team. Well, at least ESPN’s Tim Kurkijan thinks so. Actually, don’t read that article. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m serious. I’ve never read anything so BS in my life. Here are some quality excerpts:

Our long Nationals nightmare is over…now the team can start moving forward… The Nationals can begin to operate like a realmajor league team… The team has struggled this year, and attendance is down slightly, mainly because it was a rudderless team that
hasn’t gotten the support it needs from MLB, or the city… The first year and one month of existence for the Nationals was just practice. Now, the franchise officially begins… All the Nats needed was an owner. And now, finally, they have one.

No. The Nationals nightmare is not ever, and the team still isn’t going anywhere. The reason they’ve been so bad this season is not because they didn’t have an owner, it’s because they’re a flat-out bad team. The players don’t put up good enough numbers to win games. Don’t try to tell me that they went out there last year under the impression that they were playing 162 exhibition games. This team stinks, no two ways about it. If having an owner makes you a championship-caliber team, there would be (theoretically) 30 teams with .500 records at the end of the year. Tim also cites RFK stadium as being a "significant disadvantage" for the Nationals. Why is that? When the Nationals come up to bat, do they push the fences back 20 feet, only to move them back in when the opposing team steps up to the plate? Do you really think the Nationals are gonna go and set the world on fire now that they’ve got an owner? Heck no. Sure, firing Jim Bowden will make your team better, no doubt. But again, too little too late. Remember, call your shot in the Jim Bowden firing pool – so far, Jason has dibs on June 19th.

The Royals are still bad, and now they’re "your team"
The Nationals still have a shot at saving this season, but the Royals do not. By the way, they lost again last night. They’re now 5-20. As I said before, but how can you be that bad? Imagine taking the field five times and walking away with one win. The Royals also have a new slogan – "Your team. Your town." Of all the bad baseball slogans, that’s probably the worst. First off, that doesn’t tell me anything. Second – if I lived in Kansas City, that’s exactly the kind of thing that would make me want to move to, say, St. Louis. I’m guessing the average K.C. citizen had these thoughts upon seeing that slogan:

Just because I live in K.C., I have to be associated with the Royals? What will my friends think of me? Will I still be able to get a job? Will I be able to take out a loan? Rent a car? Vote?

Hearing that the Kansas City Royals are "your team" has got to feel a lot like getting hit in the forehead with a ton of bricks; pain so severe and hideous that you just black out. And of course, whenever I mention the Royals I need to mention PFC Mark Grudzielanek. Whatever General is heading up Mark’s War needs to develop a new battle plan. The current strategy isn’t working. Reports from the front indicate that the army is retreating, blowing up every bridge behind them, and that soldiers are deserting en masse. Doesn’t look good. If you don’t know why I continue to refer to the Royal’s season as a military campaign, wait until the "What you missed" post, coming up tonight or tomorrow. Or hunt the reference down here.

Everyday Eddie out of the closing role; Mariners still bad
Well, you didn’t need a crystal ball to see this coming. The Mariners have finally put Eddie out his misery, removing him from the closer role. Who’s the new closer? The best arm in the game, closer-by-committee. If you don’t know what this is, see Dusty Baker’s explanation. I’ll say the same thing here as I did when someone drafted Eddie as the #86 pick in my pay league draft this year – two picks in front of Thome, no less: "You can’t go wrong with Everyday Eddie. Wait… that was 2002." His career stats are misleading as well. For example, in 2004 he had just a 2.78 ERA. However, he blew 7 saves out of 25 total opportunities. If you’re the Mariners and you’re struggling to stay one step ahead of the Royals, you really can’t afford those kinds of losses. Then again, if you’re going to run an organization based on sound logic like that, you wouldn’t give a guy like Adrian Beltre $64 million for 5 years. Beltre’s 2004 fluke with the Dodgers was probably the most standout anomaly in the world. Of course, 2004 was Adrian’s contract year, so after he went wild he jumped ship and signed with Seattle. For the following statistical analysis, we’re going to look at Beltre’s stats for 2004 compared to his average stats from 1999-2003 and 2005, when he played full-time. I present the following visual aid:
Beltrebust2_2 Note that the difference between the slugging and batting averages is diluted because of the scale; they are .443/.629 and .265/.334. As shown, Seattle is probably very angry with Adrian. Now, Adrian didn’t just fall from the sky in 2004. LA had been waiting for him to develop for some time. But after he went wild in 2004, did they try to re-sign him? I’ll give you a hint – the Dodgers are in the NL West. Remember the old 7-man batting order trick? Anyway, you’re probably asking – how can I jump on Seattle for signing him, yet jump on LA for not trying to sign him? Well, that’s a good point. But if you’re the Dodgers and you think you’ve got the sell-high candidate of the century and you’re convinced that he had a fluke of a year, so you don’t want to give him the money that you know he doesn’t deserve, you don’t just let him walk away. You test out the market and see if you can move him. If you think you can, you resign him and flip him away. If you didn’t think he had a fluke of a year, you shell out the cash to better your team. Beltre is currently hitting .202 in Seattle, with 1 HR and 6 RBI in 104 AB’s.

Tigers lose; Leyland’s clothing at fault
Remember when I talked about superstitions? I said that although Steve Finley’s magic bag doesn’t make him a better hitter, he thinks it does, so it does. Looks like Jim Leyland just developed a real good superstition. One that’s gonna make him a really popular guy whenever the Tigers are winning. Leyland had been wearing the same clothes since the Tigers began their 6-game winning streak. However, when the Tigers played the Angels today at home, Leyland had to change because he "looked like a hobo," and the team is about to go on a road trip. Well, the Tigers lost this afternoon, 7-2. Good job, skip. The team is now 19-10. So we’re still above .500, which is Detroit’s benchmark for success. If the Tigers had won today, it would have been their first 7-game winning streak since 1993. I was in elementary school then.

Quick notes
Jose Contreras has won 13 straight… I have nothing. San Diego is currently on a four-game win streak, dating back to last Sunday’s miracle win over the Dodgers. I suggest you read that, because it’s unbelievable. Let’s just say the World’s Worst Offense came back from being down 5-0 in the bottom of the 9th. On a related note, of the six division leaders, the two worst records belong to – guess – the AL and NL West. No way. Texas and Colorado both have 16 wins and 12 losses. If another 82-80 team goes to the playoffs, it’s Game Over. BPS agrees, as we’ll see soon. Check out the solution to this problem that I wrote a few days ago. By the way, that’s probably the 80th time I’ve made a post saying that the Padres and NL West are bad.

Comments and Notes
BHGM got some serious run on BPS today. Thanks Geoff.

I sauntered over to our boy Reid’s blog a few days back
and read one of his many posts bashing the Padres and the NL West [found here]. The BPS had consistently come down
pretty hard on the Pads and their whole miserable, rotting, wasteland
division. And you have to understand, Reid is the type of dude who asks
for his readers to throw him some questions, and then he proceeds to
hammer out an elaborate discourse on whatever it is they come back
with. Why? Because, as I commented on his blog a few days ago, he is
the Original Dedicated Baseball Monster. The ODBM. My question to him
(just to see what he would do with it) was what MLB can do about
wretched, barely-.500 teams like the Pads from ever making the playoffs again. Take a look
at what the kid wrote.
Great stuff. I have no idea how long it took him, but I know these
things don’t take fifteen minutes. The ODBM, a dedicated monster.

I would have paraphrased that (and I did take out a few words), but then you wouldn’t be getting the full effect. It took me about an hour and a half. But that’s really not that bad, because I spent the rest of the day – no joke – in class, from 8a-3.30p. Made that post at 5.45p. See how it goes? As for the next 5 days at BHGM, leading up to May 10th, when I go home – we’ll either be seeing a lot of posts or a little. I’m not sure how hard I’ll be studying for finals, (one on Saturday, Monday, and two on Wednesday.) However, the "What you missed" post is on it’s way. BHGM has picked up a lot of new readers in the past couple weeks, and they’re probably pretty confused when they read things like the account of Mark’s War found above. I’ve already made the list and I’m currently writing it out. It might even get out tonight. It should be good for a lot of laughs. As for the comments – your June 19th bid has been recorded, Jason. Thanks for the submission. If anyone else wants to enter the BHGM "Call Jim Bowden’s Shot in the Unemployment Line" Contest, drop me an email or leave a comment anywhere. There will be a prize. I haven’t decided what yet. See you guys later tonight.

Red Sox/Yankees, Pujols, and NL West Solutions

We’ve got a whole bunch of things to cover at BHGM today. Basically, it wasn’t a busy day for me on the school front. So this is what you get. Doug Mirabelli, Minor League Umpires, Albert Pujols is good, the Royals/Marlins/Pirates are not, and finally – how do we prevent a repeat of the 2005 Padres making the playoffs? But first – don’t miss the game tonight. That’s right, the Cardinals and Reds are duking it out for first place in the NL Central. Must see. Wait, that is happening, but so are the Yankees-Red Sox. Let’s make bets on how many punches Kyle Farnsworth gets in on Julian Tavarez. Oh yeah, and Sox Fan? Here’s a little reminder:

Not again…
Apparently the Rangers are in 1st place of the AL West… it looks like we now have two non-divisions – both coincidentally located in the Western third of the country.  Interesting, because we just talked about the Padres going over on the Dodgers in stunning fashion last night. My response to Geoff’s comment is a little long, so I’ve moved it to the end of the post. But basically, know this – the Rangers and Padres have no business being at the top of any division now.

The Great Doug Mirabelli returns to beantown.
The Red Sox reacquired Doug Mirabelli. I guess it is kind of difficult to catch one of those dancing knuckleballs. I told you so? …Duh. They couldn’t have said it in a more powerful way – "man, we effed up." Mirabelli could probably demand five million a year and he’d get it. Of course, the best part is that the Yankees tried to acquire Mirabelli first – just to keep the Sox from getting to him first. Good stuff.

Minor League Umpires still not working
In other news, Minor League umpires are on strike. Now, I’m all for minor league umpires making more money and being happier. But hey – you watch baseball games for a living. Also, why should MLB pay you more money? There’s already stiff enough competition for umpiring, and so it’s economically a bad decision. And besides, what are you going to point to as your body of work? Possibly screwing up the World Baseball Classic with a few blown calls?

Albert Pujols is good
–And finally, the NL seems to have caught on to this guy, ‘Albert Pujols.’ Maybe you’ve heard of him. He’s supposed to be pretty good. Now, lately the entire NL has been plodding along blindly, much like 2004’s LaTroy Hawkins. This is a story that bears repeating:

In 2004, LaTroy Hawkins – then the Cub’s ‘closer’ – was brought into the game to protect a one-run lead against the Cardinals, better known as Albert Pujols. As it happened, Pujols had already hit two Home Runs that night, and was by all means a Triple Crown contender. And now, LaTroy has allowed two of Pujol’s citizens on base, and Pujols is up. LaTroy pitches him a fat one, and Albert goes yard. After handing the St. Louis Albert Pujol’s a 10-8 victory, Hawkin’s began to fight Umpire Tim Tschida, for a still-unknown reason. Why? He didn’t give up Pujol’s third jack of the game, much less tell you to pitch to the triple crown contender. Sit down, LaTroy.

Back to Albert. This is how the entire NL has been playing Albert – until last night. Finally the Washington Nationals – of all teams, the Nationals! – realized that this Albert guy must have a little pop in his bat. In other words, he’s swinging a big stick. He’ll jerk it out of the yard. He’s really strong. So, Nationals got together, brainstormed, and decided to walk Albert. Four times yesterday. Which means his firestorming days in the NL are effectively finished, unless Walt can come up with someone besides Jim Edmonds to protect him. Surprising that the Cubs didn’t figure out that it was better to let Pujols "clog" the bases than clear them.

There are some very bad teams playing this game
The Royals are really bad, but unless you haven’t looked at the standings in seven years you know this. In fact, they’re what you would call
–"the worst," with their 5 wins, and 17 losses. Now that the team is officially having "a bad season," the Mark Grudzielanek War has begun. The Marlins are the
–"second-worst," with a lowly 6 wins. The Pirates have 7. The still owner-less Nationals have 8. My favorite team, the Padres, have a
–comparatively enormous, (nearly twice as many as the Royals) 9 wins, as do the Twins. On the other hand, the Devil Rays and Reds – pretty much synonyms for "really bad" recently – have done a fairly decent job of not embarrassing themselves. The Reds have been the most remarkable, and actually have the best record in the League right now – good for you. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Rays are still in last place. They’re 11-14, and that’s probably the strongest whiff they’ll get of .500 until Opening Day 2007. But still – keep it up the good work, guys! If it takes the mirage of a rivalry with the Red Sox to get you fired up enough to win, you do what you have to do. Last night the Rays beat the Red Sox on a miracle from Scott Kazmir. I say miracle because, c’mon, how many times will a guy that walks 100 batters in 186IP, (last year,) go 7 innings and only walk one dude? He also struck out 10. Nice.

Padres_3No one wants to see a .500 team make the playoffs again.
I can’t get enough of last night’s Padres-Dodgers game. Check out the details here.
–I can’t describe in words how ridiculous the entire NL West is. I
–mean… I can, but not until the end of this post. The Padres scored
–more runs in the bottom of the 9th and 10th innings, (6), than they had
–done the entire previous week. Seriously, how bad can you be?
–And to think that this is essentially the same team that won the NL
–West last year? No way. Geoff left a very insightful comment to said post. Basically, Geoff says he begins to doubt the division system when teams like the 2005 Padres make it to the playoffs. Well, obviously. Of course, you can see my whole NL West hate-mongering right here; it’s probably my 2nd favorite post behind the Greatest Play of All Time. Anyway, Geoff says that teams like the Padres make the playoffs when you start allowing more teams in. And he asks me for a solution. Here are my ideas for a fix. If you want to get to the only plausible idea, just go ahead and skip to number 5.

1) My favorite, and the one I think would be most viable, is also the simplest. Probation. According to the NCAA, some guys gave some other guys – who happened to play for the University of Michigan Basketball team, specifically, the "Fab Five" – some cash. Well, about 11 years after the fact, the NCAA intervened with a, "hold it right there ,you cant do that!" Does anyone remember the National Title game against North Carolina in 1993, when UM’s Chris Webber called a timeout he didn’t have which probably cost them the game, as they were behind 2 points with 11 seconds left at the time? Well, you probably do. According to the NCAA, you must be imagining things, because that game never happened. The records have been deleted. "What," one of Webber’s teammates responded, "I was there. Sure it happened." No it didn’t. But let me get back to the point. Not only did the NCAA use the Memory Eraser for seven years, they also put Michigan on probation in 2003. Critical step. Imagine if a couple guys who happened to play for your team 10 years ago screwed up, and because of that, you’re out of the postseason. Even if you run the table and go undefeated. Do the same thing to the entire NL West. You don’t get into the playoffs with an 82-80 record, and if you do, you don’t get to go back for a long time. Nor do your associates, (the people that let you get there, by way of their own *******.)

2) Kind of an extension to #1. If you remove the NL West’s playoff spot, you have an odd team out come October. Now, we can’t just give them a bye. So, transfer the NL West’s forfeited playoff spot to the AL East (Toronto,) or Central. Heck, you might even be able to give it to the NL East. Make it fair.

3) Institute a BCS-like system in the NL West. I’m guessing that the combination of playing most of your games against bad teams, losing about half of them, outscoring your opponents by 42 runs all season, and having an expected win-loss record of 76-86 would keep you out of the playoffs.

4) Nevermind, because we all know Bud will never make such a rational decision. It’s not ok for guys to run around with crack slipping out of their pockets, (1980’s Mets,) but I’ll be darned if I keep a team that was micrometers from slipping below .500 out of the playoffs.

5) A serious solution. So maybe all the previous ideas were too wild to be accepted. Hey, people called Copernicus crazy in his time too. Turns out he was right about that whole "sun in the center" idea after all. Anyway, the only solution is to turn the whole thing into a wild-card type race. Here’s how it will work; four playoff spots will be given out per league, with no more than two going to each division. Best four records win! This plan is entirely foolproof – entirely. It allows no more winners per division than the wild card does, but it’s also a fail-safe against teams like the 2005 Padres. Again, as long as Selig is at the helm this is unlikely to happen, (especially with the whole non-scandal steroids issue,) and especially until someone raises a stink about it. I’ve done that just about every single day here. Maybe one day someone will hear me.

That’s all for today. Might be back with a Red Sox – Yankees recap. PS: If whoever runs RxSN Baseball is reading this, can you fire me an e-mail?

I don’t like the Padres or the Dodgers, but I can’t pass this up

Alright, here’s the setup. Bottom of the 9th, the Padres are down 5-0. I’m tuned in because I wanted to see Trevor Hoffman pitch in the top of 9th, (which he did – when else is he gonna get any work in?) And here’s how the Bottom of the 9th goes:

  • Dodgers send Lance Carter to the mound to pitch.
  • Mike Cameron singles.
  • Brian Giles rips a liner to right field. Mike Cameron advances to third.
  • Mike Piazza walks. Bases are now "clogged," Cameron on 3rd, Giles on 2nd, Piazza on 1st.
  • Danys Baez replaces Lance Carter on the mound for LA. Carter’s Line: 2H, 1BB. And it’ll get worse.
  • Mark Bellhorn singles on a grounder to right. Cameron scores; Giles to 3rd, Piazza at 2nd.
  • Khalil Green walks. Giles scores, Piazza at 3rd, Bellhorn at 2nd, Green on 1st.
  • Eric Young pinch hits for Trevor Hoffman. Eric Young walks. Piazza scores, Bellhorn to 3rd, Green to 2nd, Young on 1st.
  • Josh Barfield hits a sac fly to center. Bellhorn scores, Green to 3rd, Young remains on 1st.
  • Eric Young steals 2nd.
  • Geoff Blum hits a sac fly to right. Green scores.
  • Pitcher Change: Tim Hamulack replaces Danys Baez.
        Baez’s line: 0.2IP, 1H, 2BB, 2ER.
        Carter’s new line: 0IP, 2H, 1BB, 3ER. 1 Blown Save.
        New Score: 5-5.
  • Doug Mirabelli pinch hits for Dave Roberts and strikes out, end of inning.

So, to recap. In one half inning, the Dodgers went from sending out former All-Star (but only because you need to send at least one player from every team, in his case, the D-Rays,) to close out a 5-0 lead to heading into the 10th, with the score tied 5-5. Now, here’s something interesting. We all know the Padres are probably my least favorite team. #29, actually. I’ll let you guess at #30. Anyway, in the 6 days and 5 games prior to today’s game, (and including today’s game, with the exception of the 9th inning,) do you know how many runs the Padres had scored? Five. In other words, their run total in the bottom of the 9th today was the same amount of runs that they had scored all week. In other words, you give up five runs to the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th, that’s bad news. But it isn’t too hard to do. You give it up to the Padres, you have serious issues. And that’s where this Dodger’s team is. If this isn’t solid evidence that the NL West is the biggest joke in all of sports, I’m not sure what else you need. Oh yeah, this right here.

I’ll update live-blogging style when the game ends, but I’m going to predict a Dodgers win, even though we’re in the bottom of the 10th now with the Padres up. Because, as previously mentioned, at the current pace the Padres won’t score another run for 9 more innings.

Update: Bottom of the 10th, 5-5.
Oh man. If you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Let me explain.

  • Dodgers send Tim Hamulack back to the mound.
  • Mike Cameron strikes out.
  • Brian Giles walks on five pitches.
  • Mike Piazza walks on six pitches.
  • Mark Bellhorn comes to the plate, ready to do his usual strikeout. And we’re off to a good start with a called strike in the lower inside part of the plate. But wait! Tim Hamulack has other plans! He feeds Bellhorn 3 straight balls, each at least one foot off the plate. Just when it looks like the Dodgers might walk 9 guys in one game, Bellhorn singles to left! Giles comes around to score! The Padres win!… for the first time since last Sunday! Yay!
    Hamulack’s Line: .2IP, 1ER, 2BB. 1 Loss.

Big day if you’re a Padres fan. That is, if those kind of people really do exist; I’ve only heard rumors, never actually seen one. Finally, thanks to Deadspin for the link to the Washington Nationals story. In case you’re looking for a follow-up on that… still no word on an owner yet.

David Wright stays, C. Young, Rocket, and Chi Sox

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David Wright won’t be traded
Good news. Turns out, David Wright won’t be traded after all. I know, you thought the "next Jeter" (which he isn’t,) was as good as gone, right? Again, maybe I’m the one living under the rock, but I had no idea that such a rumor was circulating. Apparently the Marlins were going to trade Dontrelle Willis to the Mets for our man David Wright. Why? Well, forget for a second that Marlin’s owner Jeffrey Loria says the rumor was "the invention of some irresponsible reporter," and "never happened." Frankly, I’m inclined to believe him, but lets pretend that someone in either organization wanted this trade to go down. If so, they’re the greatest Saboteur this side of Scott Eyre. Think about it. The money-starved Marlins trade away one of the best pitching values in exchange for a power-hitting 3rd baseman. The Mets get to replace Victor Zambrano in the rotation with Willis, thereby nullifying every aspect of the infamous Scott Kazmir trade, and further enraging their fans. Miguel "Runs like a Bus" Cabrera gets to head back out to the outfield to make room for Wright… no, I’m sorry. Nothing about this trade discussion that "never happened" makes any sense at all. The Marlins trade away the future and bedrock of their franchise for the future and "next Jeter" of the Met’s franchise. No way. Never. I’d give up Jason Schmidt for Ryan Vogelsong before I do Willis-Wright from either side of the table, and that really happened.

Chris Young
More good news – I’m even more scared now than I was yesterday. Now I’m terrified. See, Young has some pain in his pitching thumb. When I first heard this a few days ago, my first reaction was a ‘not good but probably temporary.’ But I’ll admit, I was scared he would turn around and pull a small-scale Kip Wells on me. From what I gathered, there was not only pain but a slight loss of control in the thumb, which made me suspect a circulation problem. Apparently I was right, as Young is now going on medication to correct the "decreased blood flow" to his thumb. All this after jamming a finger? That’s no good. I’m currently searching for a replacement for Young for my pay league Fantasy Team. If the medication doesn’t work, Young will take a trip to the DL. I’m gonna go way out on a medical limb and suggest that he’s taking something like Coumadin, a sort of blood thinner. I’m no doctor, but I thought it’d be fun to take a stab. In any case, the medication is obviously not a long term solution to the problem. If it’s serious enough that it doesn’t fix itself, Young will probably get an extended DL stint. Something more minor, (C’mon, who hasn’t jammed their finger like 10 times playing ball?) and he’ll do a couple weeks.

Rick Monday
I want to talk about Rick Monday’s 30-year anniversary of the Flag Saving. However, my writing style precludes such discussion. It’s hard to offer an opinion on situations like these without offending or alienating someone. Obviously I’m the first guy to take a shot at someone’s actions if they do something stupid, but I’m not here to bash people’s personal views and beliefs, regardless of whether or not I agree. That said – Monday was a stand-up guy for what he did. Even more, he describes it as somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction. Good to know that Monday, a former member of the Marine Reserves at the time, had his head in the right place.

The Rocket
And how about the Rocket Race? Is he coming back? I’m 100% positive that even he doesn’t know yet. Think about it – would there be anything more un-Rocket-like to keep the media hype going when he knows it’s unwarranted? If he knew he wasn’t coming back, he would’ve told us a long time ago. If he knew he was coming back, he wouldn’t be saying things like, "It’s very flattering [but] it would be a mental challenge [to come back]." We also have some other variables to consider. For example, why did Rocket take a short term contract last year in Houston? It wasn’t because that was all they would give him, it was because that was all he wanted. He knew then that he wasn’t sure whether he’d be back in 2006. Furthermore, recall that Rocket retired once already, but returned to active duty for Houston, saying that being close to his family was a primary reason. Meanwhile, the Rangers, Yankees, and Red Sox are currently the front-runners for bringing him back. That said, why would he sign with the Yankees or Red Sox? I’m also assuming Clemens doesn’t want his time to go to waste, so why would he go back to Texas? I’ll bet good money that if Rocket does come back, he’ll be back in Houston. I won’t hazard a guess as to whether or not he’ll be back, but I would say he’s more likely to stay in retirement, but not by much. 45/55 maybe?

Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen labeled Mark Buehrle as ‘underrated’ after going 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last 3 starts. Guillen claims that, "every day he has done the same thing for three years and nobody talks about him. The only time they talk about him was last year when he threw like a one-hour game." Uh, that’s not true. Sure, Buehrle is the most underrated pitcher in the game. It’s been that way for the last two years, which is why he’s been a member of four of my last five fantasy teams over the last three years. Frankly, I was convinced that would change after all the attention he would get from the World Series, but it hasn’t. Buehrle has always been one of my favorite pitchers because he’s fun to watch (quick) and he’s downright consistent. I suppose the only other time people were talking about him last year was when he snapped his 48 (or something) consecutive 6 inning start streak by intentionally beaning a batter, (I plan on talking about the League’s phantom beaning rules in a subsequent post). In fact, on April 30th, 2005, I said, "Mark Buehrle is the most underrated pitcher in the
Big Leagues. He has amazing control and makes batters look foolish when
he’s on." And no, Ozzie, that wasn’t the only time they talked about him last year. I’m sick of Ozzie Guillen lying and exaggerating, but I’m even sicker of everyone subscribing to his worldview. It’s tired, it’s old, he’s an *ss, and I don’t like him. Does it work? Getting on your players for playing bad baseball works, a little. Swearing at kids for asking for an autograph, or swearing at the media for asking a question, or swearing at the general public for doing whatever they do – that doesn’t win baseball games.

Carl Everett
Turns out, Chicago wasn’t big enough for two A-Holes, (three if you count Frank, which I’m not willing to do.) So, one of them had to go. GM Ken Williams opted to send off Carl "Fan is short for fanatic – he’s crazy about something he doesn’t know
about. And it’s proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea
what they’re watching" Everett instead of Guillen. And yes, Carl Everett did say this. Then again, he also believes that we should implode Wrigley, and that if "everybody in the world" got on steroids, we’d still lose more kids to a war than steroids. Anyway, getting run out of town didn’t sit too well with Everett, who claims that the White Sox lack leadership with him gone and will finish third in the AL Central because of it. He now plays for the Mariners, and claims that Ken Williams broke up the White Sox chemistry. When asked before Monday’s game against the White Sox if he would say hello to his "buds," Everett launched the following shot:

What buds? All my buds got traded. They’ve still got some cool people
– Jermaine (Dye) and I are still cool. But I’m not here to talk about

Nice class, Carl. When asked about this, Guillen replied, "He didn’t mention me. He mentioned Kenny. Ask Kenny." Luckily, ‘Kenny’ Williams was able to douse the flames by saying he had not and likely would not talk to Carl. Good to hear that they’re taking steps to prevent another Frank Thomas-like disaster in Chi-Town.

Jason isn’t gonna let you forget that Brandon Phillips did win the NL Player of the Week. And as for Julien, hailing from France, I can’t agree with you more, and I encourage you guys to check out his comment. Not surprising that you ended up here googling for "baseball athletically." Keep the comments coming guys. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much game coverage until at least Thursday. Finals are coming. I also remade the sidebar over the last couple of days, check it out.