Tagged: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Weekend in Review

So the bad thing about Sunday is that it’s usually day games. By the time I got home from work, all the games – with the exception of Yankees-Mets – were over. So here are a few various items, from both yesterday and today.

Marlins v. Devil Rays
When the Marlins lost to the Devil Rays again last night, 4-3, they blew their fourth game in a row after leading in the ninth inning. The only other MLB team to accomplish that feat? The 2002 Devil Rays. How special. In fact, the Battle for Florida Supremacy, as we’ve taken to calling the series, was so important that D-Rays manager Joe Maddon was "out of town" for the first two games, leaving his bench coach in charge. But in all seriousness, the Rays got a fantastic game out of Scott Kazmir tonight, to take the series 3-0. Looks like we found the best team in Florida, right? Right? Loser heads to Las Vegas, right? Anyway, Kazmir struck out 11 Marlins, going 8 innings, walking one, and allowing just 4 hits and no runs. Funny, because I just wrote about how Kazmir seemed to be back on track, and more importantly, for real this year.

Cubs v. White Sox
So the Cubs beat the White Sox in game 3 of that big Chicago v. Chicago thing. Uh, that pretty much means no repeat. I know the Cubs have been getting attention for being bad lately, but I don’t think people are aware of exactly how bad they are. One of the worst teams in the league, the Pirates, are in the same division and have 14 wins. The Cubs have 18, and one more loss. And it will get much worse before Lee returns. So basically, if the Cubs played the Pirates in a 4-game set, they’d be likely to lose at least two, if not three, games. Anyway, regarding yesterday’s Throw Down by Michael Barrett upon A.J., a few notes. First, A.J. is known as the biggest a-hole in baseball. I mean, this was something people knew years ago. Here’s a list, basically, of why the world should thank Barrett for punching A.J, from Sporlitics. And let me explain to you, exactly, whyBarrett_1_2

Barrett was so upset after A.J. knocked him around sliding into home. He didn’t just train Barrett. He trained him when there was no play at home. And after that, he got up, pounded the plate, and stared down Barrett. Barrett then gave A.J. a quick hug before coldcocking him. As you can see to your right, A.J. never saw it coming. But, Barrett hugged A.J. so they could have a quick chat – what did he say? "I didn’t even have the f*cking ball, b*tch."

I also want to make sure everyone saw the video on YouTube. Actually, MLB already managed to get it taken down – dang, that was fast! Look, I get the whole anti-copyright thing, and it’s cool – I don’t like it, but I can see that if you let people start posting plays on YouTube, it will eventually weaken the fan’s appreciation for the sport, right? Wait… whatever. It’s not about that, right? It’s about something bigger – the principle, right? Look, if you’re going to interfere with the free market that YouTube provides and supports, then you need to provide a better or at least equal service. Which you don’t. If I wrote Bud Selig and asked him if I could post a video from a baseball game on YouTube, would he respond? And would he grant me expressed permission if he did? Alright.

Reds v. Tigers
I was able to attend the first game of this series, which was the only game of the Tiger’s last 10 that we lost. My luck, right. The Tigers won last night on a Felipe Lopez throwing error, and won this afternoon as well – 1-0. Good job. You don’t see a lot of 1-0 games from two clubs which are both in the top 5 of all MLB teams in HR – Detroit at #2, Cincinnati at #4. Anyway, Nate Robertson pitched 7.1 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and striking out 7, but walking 5. Obviously, he wasn’t lights out – but he was pretty good. Especially considering what Nate Robertson usually is. And, again, the Tigers are one game above the White Sox in the AL Central.

Albert Pujols
Albert hit another home run today. In related news, the sun came up this morning. Albert’s HR contributed to the St. Louis Albert Pujol’s 10-3 thrashing of the Royals.

Matt Cain
Cain one-hit the A’s on Sunday, also allowing just 3 walks. Matt who? The Giants are now 23-21, which means they can pretty much start printing playoff tickets right now. That is, as soon as they overcome the first place, 25-19, Rockies.

The Twins, my pre-season pick for the surprise bad team of the year, remain bad. They lost to Milwaukee today, and are now 19-25, good for 4th place and 10.5 games back from the AL Central Division-leading Tigers.

Mark’s War
The Citizen Soldiers of the Kansas City Royals are in dire need of a victory. They’re on a 9-game losing streak. Coming up? A 4-game set with the Tigers, and a pair of 3-game sets with the Yankees and A’s on the road, where the Royals are 2-20 this year. In other words, PFC Mark – who returned to the team after being gunned down on Saturday night, trying to score from 1st base – and Captain Bell will trot an impressive 19 game losing streak onto the battlefield when they arrive in Seattle on June 2nd. They will have won 5 games in all of May – three by one run, one by two runs, and one by three runs.

That’s about all for today. Again, didn’t get to do much baseball stuff today, so that’s why we have the short post. I have tomorrow off, but then I have to work 36 hours, in 5 days of 6 days, with only Thursday off. And of course, they wanted me to come in on Thursday too. After that, I’ll be heading to the Tigers-Yankees game on May 31st, and then it’s down to Cincinnati, where BHGM will be on vacation for about 3 or 4 days. If anyone is interesting in posting some guest writings here, contact me at reid@yankeesmvp.com. Check out the liveblog from last night, and lets see some comments too, people.


Kazmir, Cubs, C. Duffy, and College Baseball  Lying

Didn’t have the time to punch out a post last night and so tonight, with a light day in baseball, we’re going to cover two nights at once. Lucky treat. On the slate from last night: Scott Kazmir learns to throw – kinda, the Tigers have the best record in MLB, the Cubs are getting balls thrown at them, and Barry Bonds is forced to dodge bullets at the plate. As for tonight: Chris "The Liar" Duffy is bent that the Pirates sent him down to Triple-A. Meanwhile, the Reds are back to their old M.O. – losing games, a minor leaguer attempted to convince an umpire that he was hit by a pitch, while the Angels hand the Blue Jays a game.

Scott Kazmir learns to aim – well, at least he’s better at getting away with not doing so.
Now, Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays has always – since his 2004 MLB Debut – had ‘good stuff.’ One problem, he can’t exactly tell that good stuff where to go. So he walks guys, a lot. In his first full season last year, he walked 100 batters while striking out 174 batters in 186 innings. He also had a 3.77 ERA and went 10-9 on a Devil Rays team. Anyway, Kazmir had a hot start last year, but he started off slow this year – and now he’s back. He’s 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA, 56 K’s and 20 BB’s. Despite the fact that he has given up 20 walks – still 3/5 off the pace he was running last year – his WHIP is a respectable 1.375. Not amazing, but pretty good. Especially when Randall is trotting out his shiny 2.00 WHIP in the last seven games or something.

When you have 4 wins in your last 19 games, people are gonna chuck stuff at you
Turns out, Life Without Lee is just as impossible as Cub fans thought it would be. That is, they can’t score runs, and their pitching is still unruly. But on Tuesday, things reached a new low. The Cubs won, 4-0, but that didn’t stop a "drunk woman" at Wrigley from slinging a ball at the struggling – I mean, bad – Jacque Jones. The ball missed and Jones escaped without harm. Here’s the thing, though. Jones is acting like it’s an isolated incident, and he "won’t let one incident ruin what I came here to do." But understand this – maybe most of Chicago won’t throw a baseball at your head. But most of Chicago is pissed that, while the team’s offense, pitching, defense, and baserunning are all in the tank, you’re being paid $16 million over three years for harming the team in three of those areas. You have a .264 avg, a .967 fielding percentage, and you just got doubled off that night and couldn’t even think of a post-game excuse for why. Here’s the deal; the Cubs are just bad this year. Again. We’ve talked about why, most recently on Tuesday.

Turns out, cheating doesn’t win you any friends.
Barry Bonds got nailed on Tuesday night, as we all know by now. I’ll forget, for a second, that it took Russ Springer five tries until he finally was able to hit Bonds. As I said last night, you might not like the guy, but that doesn’t mean you can cheer when a
pitcher intentionally hits him. The pitch that ended up hitting Bonds
was not that far from his head – see above for video. I’m the
last guy to stick up for Bonds, and fans can boo him if they don’t like
him. But it is not ok for a player to throw at Barry Bonds because he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason. Especially when you know – as Russ no doubt did – how it would be interpreted by the fans. That
is, with cheers. Retaliation is ok, to a point. But to throw a baseball at a guy because you don’t
like him – that’s assault, not sport.

The Tigers have the best record in MLB
Alright, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it 500 times – I knew the Tigers would be good, but I didn’t think they’d be this good. 27-13? The best record in MLB, 40 games into the season? 4, maybe. But 40? How? Well, tomorrow is my day off, so we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what’s going right for the Tigers. And then I’ll be attending the Tigers-Reds game tonight with Soifer and Kevin. But, for a look at a team where everything is going wrong…

Chris Duffy thinks his .194 average is too good for AAA
Well, besides the fact that .200 is the Mendoza Line which, by definition, is when it becomes not ok to be in the Major Leagues, Duffy might just be in the right here. But the Pirates disagree, and placed him in the Restricted List after Duffy decided not to report to AAA ball upon his demotion. Recall that Duffy single-handedly lost a game for the Pirates earlier this year, and not accidentally. That is to say, he told a fib, and he got in trouble for it. Of course, the kicker will come if Duffy announces that he is commencing Operation Shutdown because, hey, he’s never had to compete for an MLB job before, and if there’s competition, someone better let him know. If there’s competition, they should just eliminate him right now because he ain’t never hit in April or May and he never will. Next to the Royals and Cubs, no team has ever made losing this much fun. Ever.

Good, someone found the real Reds.
I was getting worried there for a moment. I thought the Reds might have been a legit good team. I still maintain that they’re not the "3rd worst team in baseball" as SI claims; far from it. The Reds might still be 4-6 in their last 10, just 2 games back of first, and have a 24-17 record – but the writing is on the wall. Well, let me have Bronson Arroyo, who lost to the aforementioned Pirates 7-2 last night, explain it to you:

I felt like I was embarrassed to get behind 4-1 early
in a game like that. It’s not a secret. They don’t
have a bunch of All-Stars in that lineup… I was embarrassed to be beaten by
those guys. That’s not to say you can’t be beat on any given day, but I
thought it was a horse (****) outing, especially against a team like
that. I mean, they are one of the weakest teams in baseball…
This can’t
happen, period. If I can’t stand on the mound and feel comfortable
against that lineup, then something’s wrong with me.

Bronson… you do know that pitchers have to bat in the NL, correct? Strap on the elbow protector next time you step up to the plate against the Pirates next time. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Last night, the Reds finally went over on the Pirates to snap their 5-game losing streak. But, it didn’t start well. The Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first, (sound familiar, Texas? Minnesota?) only to watch the Reds slowly chip away at that lead as the game wore on. Final score, 9-8, Reds. The AP’s Alan Robinson had this to say about the win: "The Cincinnati Reds seemed out of this one early… Then maybe they realized who they were playing." Basically, if you lose to the Pirates, someone is going to get after you for it.

You have to see this – "Unbelievable!"
Your team is down one run, in the third inning. You don’t know how else to get on base, so you think that maybe getting hit by a pitch is your best bet. Problem is, the ball has to actually hit you before you get that free base. And if the ump tells you that it didn’t hit you – while the fans confirm as much – you don’t have the right to threaten him. You’ve got to love College Baseball. It doesn’t look like Mr. Walker has much of anything under control here. Maybe the Cubs will draft him in the first round.

The Angels just handed a game to the Jays
The Angels had this game won. Bottom of the 9th, no outs, 4-4, Chone Figgins on 3rd base. You can’t lose, can you? Actually, you can, and they did. The Angels managed to get themselves out of that inning without scoring a run, and then the Jays came back to score 3 in the top of the 10th to pretty much seal the victory. I’m not going to watch the rest of the game, but I’m assuming the Jays will win. Of course, that’s what happens when you miss two chances with speedy guys on 3rd and less than 2 outs in the late innings. That also happens when you give the opposing team 5 outs in one inning, which happened when, A) the Angels 1B forgot to pick up the ball when he went to toss it to the pitcher covering the bag, who then collided with him and nearly knocked him down, and B) Vlad catches a routine pop up, but not really, as it rolls out of his glove. The entire night, the Angels gave the Jays every chance they could to win the game. You can’t do that if you want to win baseball games. Then again, the Angels haven’t been doing much of that lately, so it looks like we’re straight. UPDATE: Another ball just flew by Vlad in right field, allowing another run to score for the Jays, 8-4.

Thanks for reading. Sorry about the posting mix up last night. Devin – it’s good to see that you’ve finally got a blog. You’re one of the more frequent readers here on BHGM so that’s always a nice thing to see. I’ll check it out tomorrow. Your comment is reasonable – that Posada isn’t exactly over performing as he isn’t putting up mind-blowing numbers. I’m just saying that he won’t be able to keep that pace up for a whole year, because he hasn’t done so in the past, and he’s only gotten older. He won’t go into a major slump for the rest of the year, he just won’t produce at the level he’s doing so now. See you guys tomorrow.

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?

Maroth, Dusty Baker v. BB, and Marlins

Tonight we’re gonna focus on Maroths (un)earned run, Dusty Baker wanting to do away with the Base on Balls, why the Cubs and Marlins are sad, upcoming games I’ll be attending, and tonight’s Yankees game.

Maroth came off the ERA leader board today, just as everyone was starting to cash in on him. He allowed 9 hits, giving up 4 runs and 3 walks while striking out 2 in 6 innings against the Angels today. Typical Mike Maroth, really. Now, I obviously didn’t see the game, but one of the runs scored when Chone Figgins stole third and continued home on Brandon Inge’s fielding error. For the rest of the inning, we had a ground out to short, a ground out to third, two walks, and then a fly out to right. So, in order for a run to be termed ‘unearned,’ a reconstruction of the inning without the error would have showed that the run hadn’t scored if the error hadn’t been committed. I’m going to assume that the scorer decided Figgins would have scored on the ground out to short. But still, isn’t a run scored on an error the definition of an unearned run? Scoring can be pretty interesting sometimes, huh. In any case, the Tigers finished the game with 2 hits, 5 walks, 8 K’s, and 2 errors. And no runs. John Lackey pitched the 8 solid innings for the Angels, accounting for the 8 K’s and 5 walks, as well as 1 hit.

It’s possible that the above game is the only case where Dusty Baker is right about any in-game tactic. A couple weeks ago Baker said,

I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you
get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy
who walks and can’t run, most of the time they’re clogging up the bases
for somebody who can run.

Oh, alright. Well, like I said, this could be the only case where Baker is actually right. If you get 5 walks and only manage one hit in that time,  those walks are basically no help to you. Of course, that’s the only tiny part of Baker’s statement that’s correct, and even that’s a one in a million shot. The day Baker made the above statement, the Cubs had just lost to the Cardinals 4-1. In the second inning of that game, the bases were "clogged" after two singles and one of those annoying walks, with Aramis Ramirez up. Ramirez grounded out but managed to knock in the Cub’s only run on the play. The Cubs had 6 hits and 4 walks through the whole game, yet only mustered that one run. See, it’s not that walks are useless, it’s that Dusty Baker is probably the worst in-game manager in the league, and he can’t take advantage of walks. He can’t honestly believe that walks are worthless. He’s gotta be saying that to prove to everyone that he really is "old school," or whatever.

In related news, the Florida Marlins won a game today against… the Cubs. Final score, 7-5. The Cubs and Marlins are two of the saddest teams in the league, but for different reasons. The Marlins are sad because they simply can’t produce anything, and when they do make a play, you’re surprised that they actually pulled it off. But, as much I rag on the Marlins, it’s not their fault. They’re not underachieving. It’s Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins’ owner, who should be held 100% responsible for the disaster that is the 2006 Marlins. Of course, it’s easy to argue that after 2005, when the Marlins were widely predicted as taking the NL East but didn’t come anywhere near the top for the entire season, that he decided to break up the team that wasn’t working and start over. And I guess that works. It’d be more believable if they had brought in just one quality veteran to help rebuild, but oh well. As for the Cubs, they’re sad because every day you look at the box score and you’re disappointed. It never adds up. For example, the Cubs drew 6 of those darned walks today against the Marlins, but managed only 4 hits and struck out 9 times. See, that should never happen. You just can’t see that many pitches and not put up more production, it’s just not possible. And 9 strikeouts? Lord. Look at some Cubs box scores for the next week, and I promise you that you’ll find at least one thing every day that just doesn’t add up.

Padres_028Additionally, it’s official – Kevin and I, along with another friend of ours, Matt Soifer, will be attending the May 16th Tigers game against the Twins at 7.05pm. This is the first Tiger’s home game after the three of us get back from our respective institutes of higher education. We’ll likely be at the section you see on your right. We’ll also be in Section 103, Row G, in the Bleachers – sorry, the Pepsi Bleachers – on Wednesday, May 31st… for the Yankees; those tickets have already been purchased. We’ll probably make it to another Yankee game and a few games other games between the Yanks and aforementioned Twins.

Albert Pujols is currently the best baseball player in the game. More on him later in the week, or next week.

I’m currently watching the Yankees – Devil Rays game. First off, I’m getting really tired of hearing every broadcaster tell me about how dangerous Gary Sheffield is, and how hard he hits foul balls down the third base line. Now Jeter just singled to juice the bases. We’re down by 2, bottom of the 10th, 2 outs, Gary Sheffield up. 0-1. Sheffield takes 3 time outs, and they meet at the mound. 1-1. 2-1… Sheff grounds right to Wiggington at third, who bobbles it. I yell. Wiggington recovers, throws to 1st. The throw looks high… but it’s not. Game over. No big deal, really. You’re not gonna beat the Devil Rays, Royals, Mariners, etc, every time. And it was an extra inning loss, it’s not like we were never in it.

I was watching Law and Order earlier. Basically the cops busted into this place and found about 60 guns sitting around on the table. What do the inhabitants say? "I understand all those guns laying around doesn’t look good." No, they really don’t.

Well now I’m upset. No comments, from 10a Tuesday until now. That’s probably the worst performance I’ve ever seen. I mean, I don’t know what else to say. Are you freaking kidding me? I’ll be back tomorrow, as usual.

“This is our year!”

The Tigers are 3-0 atop the AL Central. Additionally, B.J. Ryan got booed in Rogers Center, which makes no sense, (and which I actually won’t be talking about.) The Rangers are collapsing, Chris Duffy is a liar, Jimmy Rollins is done, Eric Gagne is done, the Devil Rays are still bad, and Pedro got slapped around. We’ve got other things to discuss as well. Fun evening! This makes up for all the lame posts of the last few days, I hope.

First things first – I’ve decided this has to stop. There are a lot of you out there reading, but not a lot of you are out there making comments. For those of you MLBloggers out there, comments are a great way to get your blog read – just write your website address at the bottom of the post. Some people think this is a bad thing to do, because you might end up stealing other people’s readers… I don’t mind. No one would be reading my stuff if it hadn’t made it around the MLBlogs community, so feel free to post your own plugs. Anyway, make comments telling me I’m an idiot. Ask me what I think about something – this is how the entire Indian’s Overview got started. Most MLBloggers out here are a little shy about calling out their readers for not posting comments, with the notable exception of the Bleeding Pinstripes – and now I’m going to start taking after him. I’m obviously not afraid to take any shots at players, and I’m not afraid to bust you guys up either. I’m not trying to sound like Mark Newman here, but there are a lot of great blogs out there. Now that the season has started, it’s nearly impossible to keep your name up top the Recently Updated list. So, post your thoughts and your blog’s address in a comment. I’ll even let you pick the post. Besides, we will all learn more from each other than from me alone. So, lets get to the real business of baseball…

Detroit Tigers – It’s our year!
Tigerregal_800x600I’ve told you all before – all across Michigan, it’s the same thing every year at the beginning of the season. The Tigers win the opener, and for the next 32 hours or so, the whole state is chanting, "restore the roar!" Kids are walking around telling each other that the Tigers are undefeated this year, and that they’re in 1st place. We win another game, and it gets even worse. Even the Tiger’s homepage is joining in on the action tonight, with the headline, "Tigers look to extend undefeated streak." People don’t do this because they think it’s true – they do it because they know that after the first games of the season, they won’t even be able to brag about as much as a winning record. That said, is this year different? The Tigers beat the Royals in a short 2-game set earlier, which isn’t much of an accomplishment. However, considering that the Tigers lost to a college team a few years ago, it’s a start.

However, could this be the real thing? Legitimate changes have been made to the team. Cancers like Carlos Pena, Jason Johnson, and Franklyn German – guys that settled for mediocrity – were removed. Spring Training was a sort of experimental drug therapy, as Jim Leyland picked out all the players that deserved to make the team – as opposed to those who fit into the depth chart, regardless of their desire to play or win. That said, it would be logical to see a changed team emerge from Spring Training. The Tigers outscored the Royals 17-4, so they didn’t just beat them – they creamed them. The Royals might not be the best team in the league, but a bad team with an anemic offense can’t score 17 runs in 18 innings regardless of how bad the pitching is. Therefore, we can conclude that the Tigers must be doing something different this year. On top of this, the Tigers are up 9-3 on the Rangers right now in the bottom of the 8th. The Tigers will win this game, and then they’re 3-0 – the only undefeated team in the AL, and one of only 3 in the entire league, (Milwaukee and St. Louis.) This has to mean something. If these were 2-1, 6-5, 5-3 victories, I wouldn’t be saying a word. And it’s not a big deal to score a lot of runs against the Royals, or against the Ranger’s R.A. Dickey in Ameriquest Field. But again – it doesn’t matter how bad the pitching is, if you’re a bad hitter you still can’t hit them.

In Game 2 against the Royals, Bonderman went 6.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run, and striking out 8 while walking none. In Game 1, Rogers went 6 innings, gave up 3 hits and 1 run, struck out 5 and walked none. Make no mistake – this isn’t because Cluck – last year’s pitching coach, but no more – was bad. It’s because the Royals stink. But, the Tigers have made 0 errors this season. Anyone who watched them last year knows this must’ve taken a miracle. Can someone tell me why I can view more team stats in the MVP 2004 video game standings then I can from MLB.com standings? I want to be able to see how many errors a team has committed by looking at the standings page, or any other page, for that matter. Thanks. In any case, everyone is underestimating the Tigers this year, except those of us extremely familiar with the team. Which don’t seem to be many. I told a fellow sportswriter (as I like to call myself; this guy actually writes for the school paper,) that if the Tigers got into the playoffs this year, I’d be mildly surprised, but I wouldn’t lose my faith in the Universe. However, if you asked me what our chances were any of the past 13 years, I’d tell you zero. The Tigers don’t surprise people. They don’t suddenly go from really bad to really good for no reason. But this time, the reason is Jim Leyland and while it’s not likely, I wouldn’t be 100% shocked if the Tigers at least made a run for a spot. If the White Sox come crashing down to Earth, as I believe they will, and the Indians underachieve again, the Tigers suddenly look very good. I’m pretty confident that the Twins won’t do anything this year, and I’ll bet my life on the Royals not coming within 15 games of the division leader for the next three years. See the Tiger’s team overview for a more organized look.

That said, time for some in-game coverage. I’ve been following the game on Gameday, you see.  I have one question – who the heck is Jordan Tata? He somehow managed to hold the Rangers to two hits over 3 innings in his major league debut. He was going great until inning 2.2 of his stint – aka, the bottom of the 9th. He struck out Kevin Mench, gave up a hit to Adrian Brown, then walked Rod Barajas and Ian Kinsler before he got bailed out by Fernando Rodney, who struck out Brad Wilkerson. Michael Young is up, 2 outs, 2-2 count. Then he hits a base-clearing double, new score, 10-6. Next time, Rodney can avoid giving Young a ball down the heart. Tex flies out, game over.

Texas is freaking out
I met a relative of the Ranger’s starting pitcher for this game, R.A. Dickey, at a Tiger’s game last year. That whole family must be in tears right now. Dickey gave up 6 bombs and 7 runs in 3.1 innings. He struck out only one, and walked another. And this is your #4 starter? If you’re the Rangers, you’re kicking yourself right now. Adam Eaton is on the DL with that bum finger, as are chair-thrower Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson – two guys that will probably do the team more good by continuing to sit out. That means that your rotation goes Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kameron Loe, Dickey, and John Koronka. Loe was a reliever last year, and had an ERA of 3.42. He took a 3-hit shutout into the 7th against Boston last night. Other than Loe – who is completely unproven – and Millwood, the rotation is in total collapse mode, just four games into the season. There are no words to describe how amazing that is, which is surprising because nobody thought it could get worse than it was in years past. But this is just terrible. The Padilla Flotilla is barely afloat with a 4.71 ERA after last season, and this other guy – Koronka – has a 7.47 ERA in 15.2 MLB innings. This brings up possibly the best question to be asked all year:
You’re set offensively. But you could score 10 runs a game, and with the pitching you’ve got you’ll barely break .500. How do you not turn over Soriano to the team that will give you the best pitcher you can get? You don’t need anything else but pitching. Not another struggling outfielder, but a proven starting pitcher. Not some pitching prospects – but a proven, MLB-ready starting pitcher. Especially for a guy you gave up Alex Rodriguez for. And don’t say they had to dump his salary, even though they did – remember, they signed him in the first place. If they decided it was too much dough, they shouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Additionally, Michael Young is a natural 2B forced into short when Soriano arrived. Rookie Ian Kinsler is a natural SS, forced in 2B because Young is already there. Young is the worst defensive SS in the league… am I missing something? I’m pretty sure that GM Jon Daniels should be indicted for all this. That is, if owner Tom Hicks doesn’t have him assassinated first.

Pirates centerfielder Chris Duffy is a liar
Anyone watching the Pirates Red’s game? Bottom of the 8th, and Masher Adam Dunn hits one between Left and Center. Pirates centerfielder Chris Duffy knew he wasn’t gonna be able to get to the ball in time, so he dove for it – and clearly trapped the ball. I mean, clearly. I literally knew it would be a trap before he even started his dive. Anyway, it was clear as day on MLB.TV as well. Then, Duffy did what any self-respecting outfielder in his situation would do – jumped up and fired the ball back to the field. Wait, no he didn’t. Before he had even completed the dive, he held up the ball that had bounced into his mitt, then got up and trotted towards the dugout, with the rest of the team following. You could tell they all knew they were lying, because I’d never seen a team make it into the dugout any quicker – it was like they were taking fire from the crowd, which they nearly were. Of course, they’re doing this because it makes it that much harder for the umps to overturn the call when they have to re-deploy the teams to the field. In this case, with the whole crowd booing, it took them about a minute to decide that they screwed up. So, they gave Dunn a single. One problem, when Duffy trapped that ball, the Pirates stopped playing defense. The Red’s had a guy on 1st and 3rd, and the guy on 3rd scored. That means that the Reds are now up 6-5 in the bottom of the 8th. Of course, this pisses off Pirates Manager Jim Tracy. He argues, he gets tossed. Play continues, with the next Red grounding out, inning over – for real this time. Then, who comes up to bat first? None other than Chris Duffy. Duffy runs the count to 1-2 on Red’s closer Dave Weathers, who then throws one in the dirt. What does Duffy do? Starts to toss his bat and says the pitch hit him. Are you freaking kidding me? His pants were practically aflame right there in the batters box. You think the ump is gonna cut you a break after you just tried to pull the covers over his eyes? Not a chance. Home Plate didn’t even check the ball for dirt. Play continues, Duffy strikes out, as does the next Pirate, and the next grounds out. Red’s win. Cheaters never prosper, Chris.

Jimmy Rollins fails
It’s about time… I couldn’t say this while the streak was going on for fear of interfering, but now I’m free. This whole talk of a hit streak was ridiculous. In the cold weather and in the form he was in, expecting that thing to live any longer than five games was pure stupidity. Besides, no one cares about a 2-season hit streak, because they just don’t. It means nothing. Thanks for the favor St. Louis – I owe you one.

Eric Gagne goes down again
No way. Is this guy ever gonna pitch again? Gagne went from that insane 90-some save streak – broken up when Alex Cora dove and missed that ball, something I’ll always remember – to walking around with a semi-bionic right arm. I don’t even know how many surgeries the guy has had now. Yet another NL West curse? Not too many details either – sounds pretty sketchy. Meanwhile, Derrick Turnbow is walking around pulling old-school Gagne – 97mph fastballs, followed by an 80mph changeup. Yeah right.

Mark Hendrickson shuts out the O’s
Hendrickson pitches for the Rays. He has a career ERA of 5.12… and somehow has pulled off one other shutout in his career. Guess lightening strikes twice after all. The Devil Ray’s team slogan this year is, "We come to Play." Not to win. But we really want you to come to watch. The Rays and Tropicana Field are the most pitiful thing in the AL, and I don’t care about ‘the youth movement.’ The O’s have Camden Yards going for them, and frankly they aren’t that bad. The Royals have a water fountain in Centerfield. The Mariners have Team Japan. Texas has offense. The Rays, however, have a crappy stadium, a ho-hum rivalry with the Red Sox, and no organizational plan. Whenever a guy goes on the DL, (as Julio Lugo just did today,) the media asks if they’re gonna call up B.J. Upton. Someone in the Rays organization flips a coin, and then Upton is either ‘still working in AAA’ or ‘still working on switching positions and improving defensively in AAA.’ Next thing you know, Upton is on the bench at Tropicana Field. Blink twice, and suddenly he’s back down in AAA, at least that’s how it went in 2004. In 2005, the Ray’s figured that until Upton can raise his fielding percentage above .905, he isn’t going anywhere near the Major Leagues. Good idea. Bad planning. A young player is a lot like a huge tanker – you can’t just stop, turn around, and head another way without considerable effort and waste.

Pedro got slapped around, cont.
As I said in my post earlier today, Pedro got slapped around today, because that’s what happens when you only throw 7 innings in Spring Training. Although the Met’s beat writer won’t admit it:

Martinez watched the decisive runs score from inside the clubhouse. He
had departed after allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits, five
walks, one intentional, and, for the first time in his career, three
hit batsmen. He also struck out six. And if his problematic toe was an
issue, it wasn’t obvious. Martinez threw 96 pitches.

Uh, how about the fact that he threw 42 balls and 54 strikes? How about the fact that he allowed 9 guys on base through some sort of walk? Maybe I’m just dumb, and this guy was being sarcastic. Maybe what he was trying to say was, ‘his problematic toe wasn’t an issue, but every other part of his body was.’ And what are you thinking leaving the dude out there for 96 pitches? That seems kinda stupid.

Thats all for tonight. Remember, leave some thoughts.

What’s with the Red Sox and Devil Rays?

Qmh5pgxbI’m at my wit’s end here. I don’t understand the whole Red Sox – Devil Ray ‘rivalry’ talk that’s cropping up these days. Just because they threw a couple pitches at each other’s skulls last year, (and I wrote about that too,) and now they’re fighting each other in Spring Training doesn’t mean their rivals, does it? In any case, you’ve got to hand it to the D-Rays; this was probably the best thing they could do to provide their team with some good PR. Don’t scare people by being a good baseball team, scare them by beating them up, great idea. Your team isn’t going anywhere in the batters box or on the mound, so why not step into the ring and throw a few punches?

You may recall that after the Red Sox and Devil Rays got into it last year, the Ray’s manager at the time, Lou Pinella, said that "We didn’t throw at guy’s heads, but if we’re thrown at, we’re gonna defend ourselves." Then, Curt Schilling fired back, saying that some of the Rays had told him that Lou told them to throw at guy’s heads, and that he’s the reason they’re a lock to lose 100 games every year. Pinella shot back at Schilling, saying that he’s forgotten more baseball than Schilling will ever know. That’s incredible. I said it then, and I’ll say it again – the Devil Rays aren’t a team of fiery competitors, they’re a band of unknowns. I don’t think they have to worry about the Red Sox insulting their dignity.

This fight was even better. Apparently, Julian Tavarez was covering home when Joey Gathright slid in. Gathright said,

I slid in and then he was standing on my arm — I can show you marks. I was trying
to get up. I couldn’t get up, because he was putting more pressure on
it. I was like, ‘Get off my arm,’ but he wouldn’t move, so I tried to
get up and push his knee back, and I was getting up. He swung at me,
and that’s when it all started.

Alright, sounds good. Tavarez had this to say:

You have to defend yourself, man. I don’t have a twin
brother out there. He was like, ‘Hey man,’ I tried to get out [of the
way] and I wasn’t going to let him throw a punch at me right away. You
ever hear that whoever gets the first punch gets the win? That’s what
happened. That’s how it goes.

Are you freaking kidding me? First, you basically just told us that you punched him for saying ‘hey
man.’ And I don’t have a twin brother out there? Maybe not, but you have at least 25 teammates out there. And if you get wronged, they stick up for you. So, let me try to understand what happened here. You thought that after Gathright slid into home, he was gonna fight you. As Gathright helped himself up off the ground, you performed a pre-emptive strike on his face with your right fist. After that, you punched him again in the head.

With the Yankees picking up Kyle Farnsworth, you’ve just added fuel to the fire. On top of the usual cast of characters, you have two of the biggest fist-throwers in the league. Fantastic. I can’t wait to see them go at it. What if the Sox and Yanks fight again this year, and the bullpen’s empty… and then Farnsworth tackles Tavarez on his way out of the pen? How mad would that be?

Check out my NL East Overview; apparently it was snuck into the cover story. I’m reading from the MLBlogs homepage, and I get to, "what do you think?" and the word you is linked. I think, hmm, is this some new messageboard? I’m curious. So I click on it and end up on my own website. Cool!

Also, check out the new MLBlogsosphere blog, it’s that new messageboard.

Those D-Rays and Red Sox

I think this whole upstart Red Sox/Devil Rays rivalry is ridiculous. For starters, you’ve got Lance Carter, who, while he was a 2003 All-Star, did not have his picture on ESPN.com until midway through the 2004 season. This is a fact. This guy is throwing the ball at guy’s heads. Whether this was his intent, we’ll talk about later. And you’ve got a bench-clearing scuffle, because that’s all it1100706901_5904_1 was. (I wish Pedro was still on the Sox, because I would’ve watched a D-Ray game if I thought there was a 1 in 5,000,000 chance I could see Lou Piniella rush him, a la Don Zimmer. I think Lou’s got it in him. Then again, he’ll go after Schilling instead.) But then, you’ve got Lou sticking up for Lance, saying, "We didn’t throw at guy’s heads, but if we’re thrown at, we’ll defend ourselves." Then, you’ve got Schilling calling Lou Piniella an "idiot" who doesn’t know how to play the game, and mentioning that the Rays players were saying that Lou is the reason they’re a lock to lose 100 games a year and that he makes them throw at guys. Then, you’ve got Lou firing back that he’s forgotten more baseball than Schilling will ever know, and he’s disappointed in Schilling and is sure none of his guys would ever say that.

Here’s the bottom line. The Devil Rays aren’t a team of fiery competitors. They’re not the 1986 Mets, they don’t have a Kevin Mitchell running around dragging guys around the infield. The Devil Rays are one of the worst teams in baseball. They’re a team of unknowns. And they don’t have a deep bullpen of relievers with pinpoint, Greg Maddux-like control. From time to time, the ball is gonna sail away from them. Now, I’m not saying Lance v. Ortiz was an accident. However, is it really that unlikely that Carter might’ve aimed for Ortiz’s forearm, and missed by a few inches? Here’s the other thing. Boston doesn’t need to throw at Devil Rays. They’re not gonna lose the division because Devil Ray hitters come a little inside on Arroyo’s dish. On the same token, Devil Ray pitchers don’t need to defend themselves, from anything. As has been mentioned, they can’t even defend themselves correctly. So lets move on.

By the way, Devil Ray pitchers hit 3 Blue Jays the following Tuesday after the Boston Series.