I have to cram the past week’s worth of thoughts into this one post, so that’s why it’s long. Thanks for reading, anyway.
First off, many of you who read a previous post know how badly I wanted Al
Leiter to retire. Well,
he did. And that makes me happy. The guy stayed in the game just long
enough to realize that he’s done everything he can. I know people are
gonna say, ‘well, without Leiter, Chacon, Small, and Wang we don’t make
the playoffs last year.’ I mean, did Leiter’s 4-5 record with a 5.49
ERA in 16 appearances – 10 starts – really get us to the playoffs? I
know Cashman literally didn’t have anyone to start that July 17th game
against the Red Sox until he picked up Leiter, but still – I don’t
think he was what pushed us into the playoffs, and I think we could’ve
done it without him. But this begs the question – how insane would it
be if both Leiter and The Rocket made their last professional
appearances in the World Baseball Classic? And how messed up is it that
The Rocket is still so good?
World Baseball Classic
Next, the World Baseball Classic. I only had a chance over break to
catch the March 13th, 2nd Round matchup between Cuba and Team Dominicana,
and part of the March 16th Mexico v. USA game. First, the Cuba and
Dominicana game was one of the best games I saw. I only watched till
about the 7th inning, but it had everything. Seriously, we had the
Cuban’s weird style of play, and mix that with the David Ortiz v. Cuba
matchup, (which I believe was actually a separate game.) I’m gonna
leave the WBC for a second and talk about the Perez’s.
Alright, we also had Odalis Perez
going 4.2 innings and only allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 3
– and you have to think the Dodgers are delighted to see that out of
him. Odalis has been one of the most up and down players these last few
years, but he turns only 29 in June, and so maybe it’s his year.
Remember, in 2002, Perez put up 222.1 IP, with 38 BB, 155 K’s, 21HR,
and an ERA of 3.00. You can look at the stats for the other years
yourself by clicking on the link above, but the bottom line is that
he’s gone on to pitch less innings while giving up the same amount of
hits and HR, a little more runs, and less K’s. We’ve been waiting for
him to bounce back and maybe it’s time. Be careful not to confuse
Odalis, who plays for the Dodgers, with Oliver Perez,
who plays for the Pirates. Oliver has had two years that couldn’t have
been more different. In 2004, he finally pulled it together and went
about 200 IP with 239 K’s and ERA of 2.98. He followed that up with
an injury-ridden 2005 where he went 103 IP – none of them really
healthy, I’ll grant him – and had an ERA of 5.85 with 87 K’s and 70
BB’s – about the same walks in half as many innings. Just more
So, back to Cuba v. Dominicana. My favorite part of this game was,
without a doubt, watching
David Ortiz jerk Cuba’s Jonder Martinez out
of the yard in the 5th inning. There is no way to describe this if you
haven’t seen it, but basically Jonder left one over the plate, and it
was gone before the bat was off Ortiz’s shoulder, I mean I was watching
at home and I still knew this blast was coming. Ortiz launched it over
everything in Right Field, and you could even see the fans leaning out
of the park trying to find where it landed. Anyway, instead of watching
the Home Run, Ortiz tosses his bat about 20 feet, turns around, glares at the catcher for about a
second, and then goes on his way. Priceless. Ariel Pestano, who was
basically sick of dealing with the pitcher’s inability to pitch, gets
up and starts hollering down Jonder. Where do you ever see a catcher
run down, scream at, and try to coach his pitcher after he gives up the
biggest shot in the world? As if this isn’t enough, the announcers
decided to add the ESPN Deportes call. And here we go again – "No no no
no no no no no!!!!" The whole call translates into something like,
‘that ball ain’t comin back, no no no no…’ Priceless. If anyone knows
where I can find this, please tell me.
As if this isn’t enough, earlier in the game we got to see Albert
Pujols score from first base. On a double through the gap? No. A ball
off the wall? No. A throwing error, from third to first. Talk
about sailing away. There was some additional technicality on the play
too, I have no idea really, but anytime I get to see a guy who plays
1st base score from first base on a ball fielded by the 3rd baseman,
that’s just incredible. Albert Pujols is a big dude, and he just sprinted 270 feet. Alright. Does everyone remember Ken Griffey Jr’s Winning Run?
It was the fifth game of the 1995 American League Wild Card
Playoffs. Down by one run in the bottom of the eleventh inning, the
Seattle Mariners, with Ken Griffey Jr. up to bat, were setting the
stage for the most exciting finish in a divisional series. Ken Griffey
Jr. smacked a single to center field to advance a runner to third base.
Then the American League batting champ stepped into the batter’s box
and drove a pitch deep to left field; one run scored easily to tie the
game. But wait! Here comes Ken Griffey Jr. rounding third. He’s going to try the impossible, scoring from first base. the throw to the plate is on its way. Ken Griffey Jr. hits the dirt. The throw is not in time! The Seattle Mariners advance to the American League Championship Series, thanks in part to Ken Griffey Jr.’s winning run!
This is from the inside cover of the Super Nintendo game, you guessed
it, "Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run." So what if the account of the play
which is the game’s namesake reads like… it’s
really boring. These
people made one of the greatest baseball games out of one play. There
are no other major leaguers featured in the game. All the names are
made up, except for Ken’s. It’s like, Ken Griffey Jr. Fantasy World.
Ken’s trade value is like, 130, and everyone else’s hovers around 70.
If you haven’t played this game, buy a Super Nintendo and then buy the
game. It’s 10 years old but… it isn’t going out of date.
Now, just a few words about the Mexico v. US game. I didn’t see much
of the game, only a few innings really, but I did see that Home Run,
errr Double. Anyone else who watched that part of the game live
probably sided with the announcers, as I did. Because they absolutely
tore up the umpires. Really, its sad. Say you saw nothing of the actual
play. All you saw was a ball in right field, about 20 feet away from
the wall. How, you ask, did it get there? It didn’t just land there.
And if it did, it wouldn’t be rolling towards the infield. Ok,
so it could’ve hit the wall. The wall in Angel Stadium is about 10 feet
tall. So, unless the wall is sloped upwards, there’s no way that ball
comes that far back. There, problem solved. And here’s another thing,
because I’ll grant that the umpires didn’t see exactly where the ball
landed, because they certainly didn’t see the ball anywhere else. If
Mexico is yelling at you that it was a Home Run, which would eliminate
them from the tournament, and the US is standing around watching…
then it’s a Home Run. Just like Barry Bonds, if I’m Roger Clemens and I
know Mario Valenzuela is trying to take credit for going deep on me
when he actually came up about 20 feet short, I’m gonna be pissed and
screaming at the top of my lungs. In any case, you only overturn a call
if you’re absolutely sure that you saw something that no one else did,
positive about it – 110%. I’m not gonna sit here and rip on
Davidson because it’s been done, and frankly, I’m sure the guy wasn’t
trying to incite something. My beef is with Selig, a man I usually
respect. If you’re all about this World Baseball Classic, why don’t you
go ahead and book the MLB Umpires? Apparently, he tried to do this but
these umps said they didn’t believe they would be getting paid enough
to do the games, so they declined the offer. Now, Selig has an issue
with the Umpire’s Union, not the individual crews, but in any case if
you’re Selig you make them ump the game. You pay them more
money, you do whatever you need, but you make it happen. The difference
between an MLB and Minor League Umpire isn’t huge, and maybe Selig
could’ve gotten away with it, but you don’t take that chance on your
first attempt. It’s also interesting to note that Davidson was a former
MLB Umpire. And he’ll stay that way now, because there’s no way he’s
gonna be allowed back after nearly starting WWIII.
Now I’m just gonna talk about a few things that happened on my
forced vacation in the last week. I’ll outline them all now: Dwight Gooden and Denny McLain,
Roy Halladay, Mark Mulder, Mark Prior, and A.J. Burnett.
Dwight Gooden and Denny McLain
probation, which was the result of his
DUI in August of 2005. Well, Gooden had a meeting with his parole
officer where he admitted to using the nose candy – that’s right, Gooden
is back on the blow. Rick James once said, "Cocaine… is a **** of a drug."
It appears he was right. The Super Freak himself was done in by
Cocaine, contrary to the initial reports that he ‘died of natural
causes’, because there’s no way someone like that just shuffles off
quietly in the middle of the night. In any case, most of that Mets team
is having trouble with Coke. It’s really too bad. I’m going to stay
away from Kevin Mitchell and Strawberry because I don’t want to be
typing all night, but I couldn’t help being reminded of Denny McLain
when I heard about Gooden. And when I’m reminded of Denny McLain, I
only think of two things: the ‘Beyond the Glory’ episode on him, and
the fact that he now works at a 7-11. This may seem insignificant at
first, but think carefully. McLain just finished serving his second
stint in the slam, this time for stealing from a meat-packing pension
fund. Remember that, when McLain won 31 games in 1968, he was draining an entire case of
Pepsi every day… How do you put the fox in charge of the hens like
that? No doubt McLain has a hose hooked up to the Big Gulp machine.
Roy Halladay and Mark Mulder
got extended through 2010, which is good news. He’s amazing. Next,
Mulder is gonna be a free agent next year. The Cardinals need to lock
him up for seven years. I am pretty sure Mulder is baseball’s
winningest pitcher over the last five years. I’ve heard Colon, but I
think Colon only has 84 wins to Mulder’s 88. Again, I have to cite MVP
Baseball 2004 and say that Mulder is amazing for my team. I like the
Cardinals and I like Mulder, a lot. Imagine if Mulder is let loose and
signs with the Red Sox or something? How can you like a pitcher that
plays for the enemy?
Mark Prior and A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett, like Dontrelle Willis,
has never been ‘ok’ in my book. Not sure why, I just get the feeling
he’s not a good guy. Mark Prior, on the other hand, I like a lot.
Anyway, Prior pitches for the poor, sorry Cubs who aren’t going
anywhere this year. As long as Dusty Baker lets them cry, they’re
stuck. Again, I could get really sidetracked here so I’m going to stop.
But my point is that Prior is a
great pitcher, when he’s healthy. I’ll
always be a fan. Collisions with players and balls don’t make someone
injury prone, but having your manager throw you out there for over 200
innings in your 2nd year in the majors, after throwing only 100 innings
your first year and despite the fact that you’re only 22, is a problem.
And it looks like he’s starting another season on the DL. Here’s the deal with Prior, when he’s healthy he’s on. It’s not like he’s ever had a really bad stretch, or one nagging injury that sidelines him five times a season, like… a blister. Kerry Wood has the same problem, except his is nagging, and you have to wonder if Baker is the cause. Zambrano is a flat-out freak, so he isn’t
going to hit that wall. Next, A.J. Burnett. Toronto’s hopes nearly got
torn apart when they saw Burnett go down the other day. In any case, he appears to be fine. But doesn’t that scare you to death, when your $11 million a year man goes down like that? At least they didn’t sign Blister Beckett.
That’s all for now. Thanks for waiting a whole week between posts. Recently this blog has gotten pretty popular – we’ve gotten people from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Croatia, UK, Canada, Israel, Honduras, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, Venezuela and some others I’m probably forgetting. The main point is that people are reading, which is important. I mentioned earlier that Kevin and I bought a website – http://www.baseballradioshow.com – that should be up in about a month, hopefully. The website will feature this blog as well as the radio show, which will likely be in a podcast form. We also hope to both contribute articles to the site, along with pictures and more. As I said earlier, if anyone is interested in contributing in any way, please contact me. Thanks again for reading, and leave comments and emails.
I had some formatting problems. Namely, all proper nouns received a return in front and behind them. This may have been a problem that resulted from the HTML in converting the post from a copied word document to the interface. Who knows, it’s working for now. Anyway, our neighbors to the North are Canadia, we’re the States, etc. For some reason, the formatting error does not apply to Barry Bonds’ name, but it did care about Jason*Bay.
First off, I try to stay out of all the mainstream blogging topics, thinking that we have all heard enough of them. Such a belief would preclude me from talking about Barry Bonds, and Canadia over the States. I have some thoughts on both, however, plus a special piece. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting lately, but tomorrow is the last day of classes before spring break. Then I’ll have more than enough time to watch baseball and write. Besides, it still tires me to simply walk from bed to computer.
I’m assuming everyone here has heard about the book. I have the SI article in front of me. Anyway, first off, is it true?
Apparently, the book is based on two years of research that includes hundreds of interviews, court documents and affidavits, and confidential memos from federal agents. The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, are investigative reporters – not a former MLB Player with a grudge named Jose Conseco. Besides… does the fact the Bonds has been pumped full of dope really come as a surprise? I will now precede, assuming that the allegations in Game of Shadows are true. Frankly, Bonds doesn’t have a lot of credibility on the issue anyway.
Why did he do it? The authors allege that Bonds was jealous at the attention Mark McGwire was getting. "They’re just letting him do it because he’s a white boy," he said about McGwire’s 1998 Home Run Race. According to Kimberly Bell, Bond’s mistress – despite the fact that he had just gotten remarried – Bonds also claimed Sammy Sosa was destined to fail because, as a matter of policy, "they’ll never let him win." Great. Is there any part of Barry-Land that this doesn’t fit into? Recall his claim that there are no statues honoring Blacks, despite the fact that his own godfather, Willie Mays, is enshrined directly in front of his ‘office,’ which due to a formatting error I can’t actually name. But get this, that year, Bonds hit .303, 37 HR, and made the All-Star Team. It was the fact that no one seemed to notice that apparently pushed him into roiding up. In 1993, Bonds had signed what was then the largest contract to date. Ready for this? $43.75 million over six years. He was on the way to the Hall, his legacy was intact, and he had a solid reputation. So, it seems that McGwire just set Bonds off – he had to be better, because he believed he was better. Was he gonna hit the weights really hard in the off-season? Watch hours of tape before game time? Work on his swing? Play winter ball? Heck no. Bonds wasn’t willing to put in the time to get ahead legitimately, and so he made the decision to pump himself full of drugs.
This is what matters. Had Bonds chosen to legally get ahead and smash The Babe’s record, people would worship him just as they worshiped McGwire. We would’ve put up with his delusions of racism and persecution, because he would be the best player of all time. Then again, without roids, does Bonds ever hit more than 40HR in a season, regardless of how hard he works? Impossible to tell, but consider this. Much has been said of the Jim Thome’s and Frank Thomas’ who, as they near the twilight of their careers, begin to hit more and more HR per at bat. I once heard a possible explanation for this; perhaps, as their legs age, these players simply don’t want to run out the double. This (unconsciously) translates into more HR, possible through the development of more of a "Home Run" Swing. In addition, experience makes it easier to sit on balls and rake the fastballs down the heart right out of the yard, as the hitter’s ‘eye’ sharpens. So, maybe Bond’s Home Run total continues to increase… but not double. Bonds doesn’t come anywhere near his present total, but he does it legally and he stays in the Hall, legacy intact.
Lastly, what’s Bond’s defense to this? He’s out of tricks. He can’t parade his little kid around, he can’t tell the media that they forced him to jump off the bridge, he can’t play the race card, he can’t say the IRS is after him, and he can’t blame it all on the mistress. So, he says, "I won’t even look at the book. There’s no reason to."
Are you freaking kidding me? Put yourself in this situation. You’re about to break Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record, and someone just wrote a book saying that you’re a cheater, an arrogant racist, and you don’t care about a single thing besides the record. Are you gonna, A) Tell your PR man to take care of it, B) Defer all questions to your team, C) Call your lawyer, tell him to sue everybody involved, and talk to every single reporter you can and tell them that these allegations are false and defamatory, or D) Let it slide. I’m going with C. Bonds chose D. Either he is so tired of it that he just doesn’t care – because he’s guilty – or he’s guilty. Not that anyone thought for half a second that Bonds isn’t chock full of Roids, but look at the guy’s comeback! I’m sick of Barry Bonds and his antics. This will probably be the last you hear of Bonds and his roids from me, but I will still make fun of what comes out of the dude’s mouth from time to time.
Canadia over The States
If anyone hasn’t read Mike Bauman’s article yet, they should do it now. It’s great. For example, "Much of the rest of American society underestimates Canad[i]a, viewing it as a vast, frequently frozen wilderness… Canad[i]a is a civilized, democratic nation."
I’m surprised the troops haven’t crossed the border yet. If Canadia going over the States at their own game isn’t enough to start a skirmish, nothing is. What Bauman said is correct – Canadia isn’t a real country anyway, so who cares? Take it over. I’m sick of their disrespect. Does anyone remember the Home Run Derby last year, when Jason*Bay represented Canadia? If I recall correctly, dude went 0 for 10. How does this happen?
Simple. I mean, this is what I think. Canadia has been getting ready for months now. The States have been in Spring Training, while the majority of the Canadian team has been on their own schedule. Actually, that’s probably 10% of the problem. 90% of the problem is Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter. I’m not sure if this bandwagon has formed yet, but I’ve never liked Willis. It’s not because his knee is on a collision course with his chin every time he releases, although that does bother me. I just don’t like his numbers, for some reason. He’s that guy, and you all know what I mean.
Second, Al Leiter. I haven’t liked this guy for two years. He’s abusing the game. Dude is nearly 41 years old. He’s been playing in the Majors almost as long as I’ve been alive. You’re not Rickey Henderson, so stop stealing teams’ money. Leiter’s ERA in 2004, with the Mets: 3.21. Last year? 6.13. That’s about double. So, if your contract runs out, you’re 40 years old, you got taken apart last year on the mound – wearing two different uniforms, mind you! – it’s time to hang up the cleats. I know it’s a tough choice, but you gotta make it. Your career ERA is at 3.80 right now, and if you play it right you can keep it under 4. Back on topic, my point is this – Willis gave up 3 runs and then Leiter came in and lit the mound on fire. He gave up 2 more of Willis’ runs, and then 2 more of his own. Canadia’s up, 7-0. Thanks for nothing.
Before I start, let me say that Rick and I share the same birthday, so it’s really tough for me to talk bad about him. That being said, Ankiel used to tear it up on the mound. I’ve done a little research, and my reconstruction of his career goes a little something like this:
Struck out 19.7 batters /9IP in his Senior Year of High School. Attended UofMiami and was the "Best Pitching Prospect" in 1999, when he made his MLB Debut. In 2000, as a 20-year-old Rookie, he pitched 175 innings, struck out 194, and had an ERA of 3.50. Then the train broke down. He suffered control problems in the postseason and the following year, did his thing somewhere in the minors for a few years, and got a Tommy John on July 16th, 2003 – three days before our birthday. Had a .76 ERA in six rehab starts in August of 2004. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. He makes three relief appearances for (The city with the big Arch – which due to formatting errors I am unable to name) in September of 2004, and everything is sunny. Then he goes to Coors, gives up five runs in 2.0IP, and basically decides to start playing Right Field instead. He said it was because, after 2004, he just couldn’t nail down his pitches. As in, he went 3 for 23 in batting practice during 2005 Spring Training. Thats a strikes out of total attempts ratio. So, instead of starting a Spring Training game, he went into La Russa’s office and told him he’d had enough of pitching. GM Walt Jocketty said, at the time, that he was "disappointed." Well, yeah. Your future Cy Young award winner just stepped off the rubber for good.
So, where does this leave us? Ankiel had 21 HR in 324 Minor League at bats last year, which is nuts. Apparently the dude is making real progress, and the Card’s "would hate to lose him." I find this hilarious, I really do. Guy comes up to the Majors in 2000 and has an insane year. Cards wouldn’t have wont the NL Central that year without him, (La Russa’s words, not mine.) Imagine if he shows up six, seven years later and starts burning through as an Outfielder… wouldn’t that be insane?
I have no idea if Rocket will be back this year, which is pretty wild. He knows, but he’s not telling anyone. Maybe after Son of Rocket took him deep, he decided he was off his game; then again, his last season was as close to inhuman as it gets. If he doesn’t come back, it’s because he want’s to spend more time with the family, not because he’s old and washed up. Or maybe it’s because he wants to go out on top. In any case, if Roger retires and Leiter doesn’t, something is wrong.
Thanks for reading. Make comments so I know you’re all still there. I’ll start covering more in-depth baseball issues throughout the next week, when I’m done with school.
You’re not gonna hear me talk much about the WBC, because frankly, who doesn’t know enough about it. I mean, it’s here that MLB.com pulls another marketing move out from it’s endless stream of tricks and floods us with information… remember when you would go to MLB.com and within about .2 seconds, your computer is screaming the MLB Fastcast Theme, and then all the sudden it’s Casey Stern with the MLB Fastcast… I mean, I am obsessed with baseball, but give me a minute to make up my mind about the video. And turn the volume down. Anyway, back to the WBC. I was talking with Kevin about it, and he told me that the only thing he is upset about is the fact that players can choose between playing for their home country or the country they consider their heritage, or whatever, I’m not sure how to say that correctly. In any case, I countered by saying that if they said everyone had to play for their country of origin, if you will, even less people would be ‘willing’ (as it seems,) to play. From this sprung an awesome idea. I recently saw that Baseball is being left out of the 2012 Olympics, (which means I won’t be watching them,) so why not this? Pit the WBC against the Olympics, and we can finally settle the debate about whether or not soccer is a more popular sport then Baseball. This plan will prove that, not only is Baseball far better than soccer, it’s better than any other sport that humans play on this planet. Track and Field, Swimming (which I don’t half mind,) and all those other things they do in the Olympics, like running for 22 miles only to get broadsided by some delusional priest. Although I must admit, seeing the look of shock and disbelief on that guy’s face as he tumbled down to the ground was priceless. In any case, this would, from a practical standpoint, allow players to compete while in mid-season form. No pulling pitchers because of pitch counts, we’d be playing for keeps. Just like when Ben Sheets nailed the world to a cross in the 2000 Olympics, allowing just one run in 22 innings. Think you’re gonna see him dominate like that while they’re still playing the WBC in March? Not a chance.
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