Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-2-6

2/6/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Top of the 1st
COULD IT HAVE BEEN WORSE?
The only way last night’s Pittsburgh Steelers/Seattle Seahawks Super Bore could have been worse is if it were a Pittsburgh Pirates/Seattle Mariners World Series.

The good news? The end of XL is the official start of the baseball season.

Enjoy the success Pittsburghers, check out these numbers:
2005 2006
Team Record Payroll
Cardinals 100-62 $95 million
Astros *-89-73 $85 million
Brewers 81-81 $52 million
Cubs 79-83 $100 million
Reds 73-89 $60 million
Pirates 67-95 $47 million
*-Reached World Series

This just in…Larry Lucchino has explained the philosophical differences between him and Theo Epstein. Epstein wanted to make the numerous changes to the ballclub to help the Sox in this transition year. Lucchino wanted to make the numerous changes to the ballclub to sell more scorecards.

Speaking of Larry Lucchino – Congratulations to the new owners of the Washington Nationals. I just bring that sentence out once a year to get some air. Let’s hope the Nats don’t sign Sammy S*sa. A town with Cheney, Rove, and S*sa us very unappealing.

This is just one man’s opinion, but Andy Marte and Kelly Shopach will do more to help the Indians over the next few years than Coco Crisp will help the BoSox.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the A’s signings of Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley may make Oakland pre-season favorites in the AL West.

Nomar Garciaparra won’t be playing for Mexico next month because he is spending his time working with Dodgers hitting coach Eddie Murray, a former Gold Glove first baseman, on grounders and pop flies as he makes the transition to first base for L.A. I love that.

The Florida Marlins won’t win many games this season, but they will win them with class. New manager Joe Girardi has said he will allow his players to celebrate dramatic victories, but would prefer the revelry be contained to the clubhouse. ”I want players to be excited,” Girardi said. “But the key is you act like you’ve done it before, you’re not surprised by it, and it’s something you can do at any time. Go out and shake hands, but jump up and down in the clubhouse. Celebrate on our terms.”

Excuse me if I’m really sounding old school, but there has got to be another way for ballclubs to make money other than selling their stadium naming rights. San Francisco’s ballpark is changing its name to AT&T Park beginning in March. It will be the stadium’s third name since it opened in 2000.

For those of you waiting for the results from the Caribbean Series, Alex Cabrera’s 10th-inning RBI single with the bases loaded lifted the Caracas Lions (4-0) to a 4-3 victory Sunday against Mazatlan Venados (0-4) of Mexico as the Venezuelan club remained undefeated and moved one step closer to winning the tournament. In Maracay, Venezuela, Napoleon Calzado scored three runs and drove in two as the Licey Tigers (3-1) of the Dominican Republic won 9-2 against the Carolina Giants (1-3) of Puerto Rico. On Saturday night, Alex Gonzalez hit a three-run homer off Jorge Sosa in the top of the ninth inning, lifting the Lions to an 11-9 victory against the Tigers. “This homer is even more important than the one I hit for the Marlins in the World Series,” said Gonzalez, referring to his 12th-inning hit in Game 4 against the New York Yankees in 2003. That’s nice ;>>).

Between 12,000 and 15,000 tickets for the semifinals and final of the inaugural World Baseball Classic will go on sale Feb. 11 for games to be played March 18 and 20 at Petco Park

Unclear on the concept – Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder, from South Holland, Ill., will play in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands. Really.

The much ballyhooed World Baseball Classic I (my Roman numeral) begins shortly. Early favorites haves to be the USA, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Although there is always a chance for another upset by Hamas.

Top of the 2nd
KEY DATES
Feb. 1-20 Salary arbitration hearings.
Feb. 16 Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.
Feb. 21 Voluntary reporting date for other players.
Feb. 27 Hall of Fame Negro leagues and pre-Negro league selection committee vote.
Feb. 28 Mandatory reporting date.
March 2-11 Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players.
March 3-20 World Baseball Classic.
March 15 Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days.
March 29 Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2006 salary.
April 2 Opening Day, Indians at White Sox. Active rosters reduced to 25 players.
June 6-7 First-Year Player Draft.
July 11 All-Star Game at PNC Park, Pittsburgh.
July 30 Hall of Fame inductions, Cooperstown, N.Y.
July 31 Last day to trade a player without securing waivers.
Sept. 1 Active rosters expand to 40 players.
Oct. 3 Playoffs begin.
Oct. 10 League Championship Series begin.
Oct. 21 World Series begins.

Top of the 3rd
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY IN HOUSTON
Here’s the good, Astros fans are love their new radio play-by-play guy Dave Raymond. Knowledgeable, fun, and easy on the ears.

The Bad, the Astros (and all of baseball) is not nearly as much fun as we wait for Roger Clemens to return in June.

The Ugly, the Houston Astros filed an insurance claim on Jeff Bagwell’s contract, arguing that he is too hurt to play. Bagwell is guaranteed $17 million this season, but by filing the claim, the Astros can recoup $15.6 million if Bagwell retires or is deemed too disabled to play. Doctors who examined Bagwell earlier in the month told the team that his shoulder was still damaged and that the team could not expect him to be productive this season. Bagwell, however, has said he still intends to show up at spring training. The situation has caused a rift that Bagwell has said might be beyond repair.

Top of the 4th
CHECK YOUR MILK CARTONS
Jeff Weaver remains among the missing.

Could he be working out somewhere with Benjie Molina?

Top of the 5th
THE SUPER BOWL HALF-TIME SHOW
Football’s British Invasion continued last night. As you may recall, last year’s Super Bowl half-time extravaganza featured Paul McCartney, this year Mick Jagger and his mates entertained. I’m telling you now, I’m hoping next year to see either Herman’s Hermits or Freddy and the Dreamers.

Top of the 6th
THE SUPER BOWL ANNOUNCERS
John Madden was great…thirty years ago. Talk about a tired act! John, it’s time to get on that fabled bus of yours and ride into the sunset. At least we didn’t have to listen to the dulcet, yet saccharine platitudes of Jim Nantz.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 2/6/2006
Happy birthday to the Sultan
HE RUB BAT

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 2/6/2006
Who gave up Roger Maris’ 59th homer in 1961?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Peter Gammons wrote, `There cannot be a better, more thoughtful Internet journal than “Baseball Prospectus,” which has the invaluable and unique resource of Will Carroll’s “Under the Knife,” bookmarked by every front office and media member. “Hardball Times” is daily must-reading, as well as “Baseball Analysts” and the “Baseball Think Factory.” Now there are countless blogs, none better than David Pinto’s “Baseball Musings,” which also provide several significant tools.”

While I can’t deny that Billy-Ball is hurt that my neighbor, “The Commissioner” chooses not to mention yours truly, I am truly happy for Will Carroll, one of my faves.

Top of the 9th
IS BILLY-BALL BACK?
No, not really, I’m just in such a good baseball mood having seen Rico Petrocelli and Jim Lonborg speak at the Brockton Rox Hot Stove Banquet that I had to say hello.

I leave you today with this question: which helps baseball more, the WBC or the fact that Braves center fielder Andruw Jones and pitcher Tim Hudson put on hard hats, aprons and gloves, grabbed hammers this past Saturday and joined volunteers of Atlanta’s Habitat for Humanity to build several walls for a house that will go to a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Rita or Wilma.

Saturday’s effort was Phase III of Major League Baseball’s Hurricane Relief & Rebuilding Program. Named “The Local Build,” the program, partnered by MLB, its ten participating clubs — the Braves, Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners — and Habitat for Humanity International, began on Jan. 30 and set a goal of building 12 new homes in the upcoming year. Each home will cost approximately $45,000 and is to be funded from MLB’s initial $1 million donation to Habitat for Humanity last Oct. 4.

Have a great day everyone.

Bottom of the 9th
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Have a great day!

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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.