Tagged: St. Louis Cardinals

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.

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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
Albertpujols
–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?

Good thing I started Jeff Suppan tonight

It’s a good thing I started Jeff Suppan in my fantasy pay league tonight. Suppan managed to earn negative points for me. Rarely do you see this happen. Maybe four or five times a year. Most of the time, some nut will go out and blow a save by giving up a 2-run bomb, and you’ll get a -2.50 or something. Well, Suppan went ahead and clobbered all those guys. Dude posted a -8.50. To put this in perspective, a perfect game with 8 K’s is worth 41 points. Suppan gave up 8 runs, 8 hits, and 3 walks, while striking out 1 guy in 2 innings. Dude threw 49 pitches. All this against the Pirates. Are you kidding me?

What’s going on with Barry Bonds lately? I hear he can’t hit and he’s going to retire, but I honestly don’t know because I haven’t been following it. Well, someone posted a little article in that same fantasy league tonight.

Barrybondsperjury_3

Randy is one upset dude. He is also in 8th place in a 10-team league. Of course, the "League News" coming out of this league is kind of ridiculous.

Coconococo_1

And so the world continues to turn.

"Pitching has kept Rangers in the Mix." Is this a joke? Mix for what? Are the Mariners and Rangers competing for a separate playoff spot than the rest of the league? Since the beginning of the season, when their pitching – rotation and otherwise – was a 12-car pileup, the Rangers have made the following additions: Rick Bauer was added to the rotation. R.A. Dickey was sent down to AAA for more work. It wasn’t too long ago that I was ragging on the Rangers for their pitching. Find it here, but here’s the recap: 4/5 of your rotation would be hard pressed for a starting spot on most of the other teams in MLB. The Padilla Flotilla will have his good outings every once in a while, but for the most part that ship is constantly taking on water. The aforementioned article even starts out with:

The Rangers were three pitches away from taking a four-game winning streak into their day off on Monday in Seattle.

Unfortunately, there are no "mulligans" in baseball. Vicente Padilla
did give up three home runs in three pitches on Saturday afternoon…

Texas_rangers
Exactly. The Flotilla was looking good until he ran aground, like he always will. Do I want the Rangers to do well? Sure. I like the Rangers, and I want to see them succeed. But they’re just like a 14-year-old kid – you’ve got to let them make their own mistakes, otherwise they’ll never learn. So I’m not gonna sit here and try to lecture Jon Daniels on how to run a baseball team. But for the seventh time, I’m gonna ask why the Alfonso Soriano deal went down. It benefited nobody. I don’t want to talk about it, but I’ll just say again – if you need pitching, you trade for pitching. Not struggling outfielders.

One more quick note: last year, everyone was talking about the decrease in run production. This year, no one’s saying a word, but I thought the bats were going crazy so far this year and that pitching is failing everywhere. So, I took a closer look and, in fact, it isn’t my imagination. On April 17, 2005, the run total in MLB was 1653, or 55.1 runs per team. As of April 17th, 2006 – and excluding the rest of the tonight’s games – the run total was at 1960, or 65.33 runs per team. That’s a full 10 runs per team, which ends up being a little less than one run per game for each team, which adds up to a little less than two extra runs per game. Why? Who knows. Probably doesn’t mean a thing, but it’s pretty interesting huh? Especially since everyone was telling me that runs had decreased last year because of steroid testing, a theory I never subscribed to. I don’t think that we can blame the Rangers and Jeff Suppan for this entire increase, either.

Felipe_with_live_llama
Craziest thing ever? I love alpacas. The commercial is about fourteen times worse. We’ve got a couple standing there, telling us about how much they love Alpacas, how much fun it is, and how much better Alpacas are than cattle or horses. First, know this – Alpacas are some of the ugliest animals in the world. They’re a dead-ringer for the Llama, which is the most hideous organism on the planet. You can see two Llamas on your left, but you’ll need to click on the picture if you really want to do it justice. In fact, the I Love Alpacas commercial just got added to the short list of best commercials of all time:

  1. The push lawn mower that can cut down a forest of Redwoods. You have to see this commercial to believe it. According to the ad, this thing can cut down anything. They show this mower cutting down a giant forest of small trees. With a push lawn mower, not a ride-on. And, you get a free 90-day trial before you have to buy it, and you can return it for free, no matter what the reason. Say you clear your whole backyard, but there’s just one 30ft tree that’s too stubborn for the Tree Mower. Return it, no cost.
  2. The Motorized awning that will protect you from any weather, regardless of how severe.
    "Son, we’re eating outside tonight."
    "But Dad, there’s a Hurricane out there!"
    "I don’t care, we’ve got a motorized awning, turn it on!"
    We’ve invented invincible, motorized roofs. Now we can all have our very own Minute Maid Park in our backyards.
  3. Any commercial that has guys getting knocked over or clothes lined. Terry Tate, office linebacker. The FSN Northwest Mariners commercial, where guys imitate running into Kenjo Johjima and flipping over.

That’s about all for tonight. Sorry I couldn’t talk about some of the baseball games – it just wasn’t that kind of night. In other words, the Yankees lost to the Jays and the Tigers are losing to the A’s. I’ll be back tomorrow night.

A good day of Baseball – Yanks, Tigers, Cards

St10018I’m watching the Yankees game. I’m actually multi-tasking between the game and the Taxes, but I can tell you this much – the Royals are really bad. Every time I looked at the game, they were screwing something up. Swinging at pitches in the dirt, chopping at pitches waaaay outside, turning on pitches tight and inside, spinning on pitches way up in the zone, and staring at pitches right down the heart. They’re walking after grounders, drifting under fly balls and coming up short, Newly recruited Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek said earlier that they
won’t settle for being a bad team this year, but if they are they’ll be
battling it all season. Looks like Mark and the boys are in for a heck
of a battle. That said, it’s tough to really analyze these games. I’ve said many times before that a bad MLB team is still an MLB team, but I’m going to take this chance to call myself out. See, there are a few exceptions to this rule. In 2004, the Diamondbacks weren’t an MLB Team. The last few versions of the Royals don’t appear to be an MLB team either. The 2006 Marlins are not MLB material. I may hate the NL West, but I’m not gonna say the 2005 Padres weren’t an MLB team because they were – they were just really bad. That said, don’t tell Geoff at Bleeding Pinstripes, but I don’t think this series means a whole lot. Sure – you have to win these games, and I can’t stress how important that is. However, winning them doesn’t mean you’re all set, it just means that you didn’t screw yourself by losing them. But I don’t think it’s fair to expect the Yanks to blow out the Royals every time with our offense while we shut them down with our pitching. Then again, it doesn’t matter what I think. The Yankees swept the Royals and outscored them 30-15. The 30 is good, the 15 isn’t. You shouldn’t have a team ERA of 5 against the Royals, even if it’s only 3 games. I really don’t want to talk much more about the Royals, so I’m going to move off that… Giambi just homered again. If anyone doubted it before, they can stop – The Man is back. 7 RBI’s in this series? Furthermore, I have to echo BPS’ thought that this Yankee lineup will run pitchers down. These guys work every AB for everything it’s worth, whether they’re hot or not. Finally, I just saw Damon take a swing and lose his bat. 2nd funniest body language I’ve ever seen in a post-bat rip situation. He did almost a full 360 on his swing, with the bat flying out of his grip at about the 160 mark. As he completed his roll, his head followed the bat helicoptering towards the seats, he ducked, hopped up and down like he was standing on hot coals, then looked towards the dugout with a ‘please help’ look on his face. My favorite bat loss was a couple years back, when old guy Julio Franco chucked a bat into the seats. The look on his face said it all, basically, ‘I hate this. I’m so old I can’t even hold my own stick.’

Tqrcdqh7_1
The Tigers got decimated today. Not good. Right after I said that at least the Sox didn’t get us on any blow outs, we go ahead and get (rhymes with laughed) on. Loss, 13-9. Reason one: Justin Verlander. I said after his victory at Arlington last week that I was impressed but not convinced by his performance. Verlander went 2.2IP, gave up 7 hits, 7ER, 1BB, and 0K’s… not good. Here’s the thing – we still managed 9 runs off the ‘good pitching’ of the White Sox. Sox starter Jon Garland gave up 7 runs in 5 innings, but that was pretty much the end of the pain train for Ozzie. McCarthy came in for 3 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs and earning the Hold. Oh yeah, the big H. Does this stat have any value whatsoever? It’s almost like it was invented just so the setup man wouldn’t feel left out. Weird. But it was the Tigers bullpen that just exploded. After Verlander gave up 7 runs, Leyland sent out Jason Grilli to plug the hole – 2.1IP, 5H, 3ER. Next up was Bobby Seay, who I’ve never heard of. 1.2IP, 2ER. Ok, throw in Chris Spurling – 2H, 1ER, 1BB, 1K – .1IP. Great. Finally Jamie Walker comes out and goes 2.0IP, giving up 3H, 0BB, and 0ER. I’ve been a huge fan of Walker for the last year, but if he wants to be taken seriously they have to stop showing the ‘Smoke on the Walker’ thing when he comes out of the ‘pen. It’s ridiculous. Shelton also let loose with an insane 7th bomb of the year. He now has the league lead. He can hit homers, and he did it last year… but I don’t think he’ll end the season in the top 10.

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Now I’m watching the end of the Cardinals v. Brewers came. The vastly underrated Carlos Lee launched a Jason Isringhausen strike into the left field seats to put them up 4-3 in the top of the 11th. I’ve said this for as long as I can remember and I’ll continue to say it, even if though it’s no longer unique – not that it ever was. Izzy is not an amazing, lights-out closer. He just isn’t. He’s got above-average stuff and above-average nerves, but he’s not Mariano Rivera. He’s not gonna come inside and saw your lumber. He’s just not that guy. He works because the Cardinals are a good team in a bad league and a below-average division. That said, his slow start this year is probably not going to be the story of his season. Then again, the same could’ve been said about Danny Graves and Danny Kolb last year, but who knows. The two of them were even more sub-par than Izzy. Now Derrick Turnbow is coming up to close out the game for Milwaukee. This kid is lights out. He’s got a huge flock on his head but he throws insane heat for a guy that no one really knew about until last year. Turnbow, who is 28, saved 39 of 43 games last year with a 1.74 ERA. One thing – the guys in the booth just noted that the Angels, when they released Turnbow, had two guys that could throw a combined 200 mph with Bobby Jenks and Turnbow. One thing, guys – addition is cumulative; velocity is not. Just a small note. Turnbow walked Aaron Miles on 4 pitches, and Jason Marquis pinch hit (yes!) and laid down a nice bunt to advance Miles to 2nd. Spiezio flied out to center – 2 outs, man on 2nd with Skip Shumaker up. Skip swings at a pitch in the dirt, game over.

I’m watching the Giants v. Astros game right now but, being an NL game and involving the Giants, I really don’t care about it. So far, the only highlights are the broadcasters showing a shot of the crowd and scribbling out all the guys on their cell phones, and watching Ray Durham collide – no, lightly bump – Vizquel, I think. The guys were going for the same pop up and ended up walking into each other, but then something totally unexpected happened – Ray Durham tumbled to the ground, and it looked like he was laughing as well. In any case, expect some more thoughts at night, the usual time. The usual time is about midnight.

Game Day

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Sorry for my lack of posting during opening day. I’m as disappointed in myself as you are. But here’s the thing – I had 6 hours of class, an hour or so of baseball toss, and on top of that I did a real bang-up job on some papers. Let me hit on a few things, very very briefly. Don’t come to expect anything this short.

1) Anyone see Pujol’s second shot of the day against Phillies reliever Aaron Fultz? One of the biggest shots I’ve ever seen. I would say it hasn’t landed yet, but I saw it land in the upper deck of left field, and I saw the crowd dodge the ball. It looked more like an incoming meteorite. Incredible. You’ve got to be real strong to yank a ball out like that.
1b) How mad was that 8-spot the Cards posted in the 4th inning? I believe there was a stretch there where they got 17 straight hits without recording an out. Something like that.

2) Detroit one it’s opener behind the strong performances of Kenny Rogers and Chris Shelton. I called Shelton as one of the game’s rising stars midway through last season and he’s proving me right. Dude hit a huge line-drive homer to left, then came up and ripped the same pitcher to right in his next AB. That’s huge. Then, Fernando Rodney – who I called would be the closer if Jones went down a few months ago – came in and shut it down for the save. I know a win against the Royals isn’t a big deal, but those familiar with the Tigers saw a much different team out there today. Much different. This team was playing to win. They weren’t playing to avoid making fools out of themselves, they were playing to win the game. Any true Tigers fan knows what I’m talking about.

3) Where did Derrick Turnbow come from? First, the guy is roosting a whole flock up in his hair. I don’t care. He’s gonna have a huge year this year. 97, 98 mph heat, followed up by an 80 mph offspeed pitch low and away? Someone could’ve held up a huge sign in center field telling Jose Castillo exactly what Turnbow was about to throw at him and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

On that note, Opening Day can be a lot like Spring Training, but worse. Opening Week can be the same way. Opening Day means nothing statistically, it’s just one game and that’s why we play 162 of them. Shelton isn’t gonna hit 324 homers, obviously.

Have a nice night. I’m hitting the sheets – out.

Sidney Ponson and the Cards

Sid7Big Guy Sidney Ponson is gonna be starting at #5 for the Cardinals this year. How wild is that? Ponson is currently 29 years old. To recap the last few years of his career: Baltimore: 4.09 ERA in 2002, 3.77 in part of 2003. San Fran: 3.71 for 10 remaining games of 2003. Now, follow me here because this is where it gets tricky. Back to Baltimore, 5.30 ERA in 2004. Then we really hit the ceiling with a 6.21 ERA in 2005. Why? How does this happen? I’ve always believed that off-field problems contribute significantly to performance on-field, which is why I talk about off-field problems so much.

Last year, Ponson had some trouble acquiring a visa to get back into the States. This was likely because he spent 11 days in jail after starting a fight on an Arubian beach – meaning, he punched a Judge. Back to the states, and this is where it (again) gets confusing. On Jan. 21 of 2005, he was pulled over for a DUI. However, he never told the team, who actually found out from the media in March. As it happened, news of the DUI broke the day after Ponson reported to camp with a swollen hand. Apparently he was dining with a friend when a random dude started, basically, heckling him. "Words never hurt," Ponson said, "but he touched me and then I had to draw the line." Ponson then ‘defended himself’ from the guy and that was that. Ponson said he did nothing wrong, but that when he does he’s the first to admit it. However, the next day the DUI story breaks, the club is upset because he never told them, and his response is:

I got [the DUI] because I didn’t blow in the thing. I
wasn’t drunk. The thing is going to go to court and my lawyer said to
be quiet. You have one beer and you can be over the limit. That doesn’t
mean I’m drunk. You guys are making such a big deal out of everything.

First, lets get the facts straight. Ponson is 255 lbs. The next time a 255-pounder blows .08 after one beer will be the first time. Other than that, I’m not even sure what Ponson is trying to say. Did he just have one beer? Was he not drunk? Was he drunk, but can’t say it because of pending legal action? In any case, two public altercations and one DUI got Ponson sent from #2 to #4 in the rotation, and it was a good thing too, as Ponson’s ERA was almost as big as he was. Cheap shot.

Back to the baseball. What does this mean for the Cards? Basically, it depends on whether Ponson can overcome whatever has been ailing him the last two years. Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder are obviously gonna be the workhorses this year. Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis will pitch in with their circa-4.00 ERA’s. Marquis scared the (heck) out of me last year with his string of terrible starts, but for the most part he’s reliable. Ponson in the 5 spot? He’s got a 3.60 ERA over 15 IP this Spring, which basically tells you nothing. But it does tell you that he’s not collapsing on the mound, and La Russa must have seen something he liked; I haven’t had the chance to personally see Ponson this year. If he does what he did prior to 2004, he’ll work out great as a #5. Plus, if the pen ever needs a rest coming off of a Suppan-Marquis roll, he can do it. The thing with big guys is that they eat up innings, and Ponson is no exception. And then after Ponson you have Carpenter and Mulder, so the pen should be fine.

I would like to briefly note that Carpenter has pitched T1_carpenter16 innings so far this Spring. 8 hits
(all singles) allowed, 1 walk, 13 K’s, no runs allowed, earned or otherwise. Talk about lights out. Either this guy has been facing all AA-er’s, or he’s pumped for another amazing season. Obviously, the Cards are going to be taking the NL Central again. The Cubs are gonna cry about it, the Red’s don’t know they’re in the Central, the Pirates don’t know they’re in MLB, and the Brewer’s aren’t quite there yet. The Astro’s… eh. They keep getting older. This is why everyone is proclaiming the demise of the NL – the Central is a collection of predictable and slow-moving teams and the East is too fiery for it’s own good, (minus the sellout Marlins.) If you’re asking about the NL West, I’ll direct you to carefully read this. Turns out, the NL West is no longer a part of Major League Baseball.

That’s all for now. I woke up at 7 this morning, got back from class at 11.30, wrote this, and now I’m off for more labs. I’ll be done at 8, I have a draft at 8.30, and then I’ll be back. Like I said earlier, school means class, work, and baseball. What a shame…