Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-4-13

4/13/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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I’ll take mine with a schmear.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Top of the 1st
FINAGLE A RED SOX
Not trying to intentionally insult those of you who truly believe that Boston is “the Hub of the Universe,” truth be told when it comes to cuisine, Boston has very little to brag about. You can’t beat the chowdah, but nothing else truly comes to mind (baked beans you can find anywhere), although I would be wise to leave this topic to my sister-in-law Andrea Pyenson, who writes for the Boston Globe Food section.

I am a simple man with simple needs when it comes to food. Take for example, the bagel. I love a good bagel. It’s not right that I have to drive 200 miles to get one, but unfortunately that is the case. The best bagel produced locally is created by a small chain called Finagle A Bagel and it turns out, according to today’s Boston Globe, that the owners are Red Sox fans. ”We’re big, big fans,” said Finagle’s owner, Laura Trust who is also the Massachusetts-based company’s co-president with her husband, Alan Litchman.

The 20 store chain is currently selling a newly introduced Cocoa Bagel made with Dutch cocoa powder, liquid chocolate flavoring, chocolate chips, and a coating of crispy cereal. According to the article, the bagel isn’t meant specifically to honor new Sox and now injured centerfielder Coco Crisp, but to salute the team as a whole.

But I think that is simply lazy. Trust hasn’t made enough of an effort to come up with Red Sox themed food because I simply don’t see how a cocoa bagel represents Mike Timlin, who is as white as white can be, and some of the other Sox fan favorites.

Fortunately, Billy-Ball is here to help.

Finagle needs to offer:
The Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Bagel known as the Kevin Youkilis
The Big Ham Bagel known as the Curt Schilling
The Plain Bagel known as the Mike Timlin
The Fat Turkey Bagel known as the David Wells
The Orange Bagel known as the Matt Clement-ine
The Cubano known as the Mike Lowell
The Mexican Bagel known as the Nixon (because it gives you the “trots”)
The Half Bagel (shaped like a “C”) for Captain Jason Varitek
The Two Attached Bagels known as the Double Play (in honor of Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta)
The Pig Knuckle Bagel known as the Tim Wakefield
The Blistered Bagel known as the Josh Beckett
The Bagel To Go known as the Keith Foulke
The Dessert Bagel known as the Jonathan Papelbon-bon
The Frozen Dessert Bagel known as the J.T Snow-cone

Finally there are my two favorites:
The Over-Sized Poppy Bagel known as The Big Papi
The Bagel Without a Hole known as The Manny Being Manny

See you for lunch.

Top of the 2nd
UP BY THE BAY
It’s a long season with numerous opportunities to talk about pennant contenders, so let me give my “props” this morning to the Devil Rays. Yesterday, I wrote about Opening Day and how engaged the new ownership was and how the ballpark sold out. Last night, there were only 10, 717 fans at the park, but I have a feeling it is going to get more crowded.

As I watched the game against the Orioles last night I was first amazed that it was noisy. Tropicana Field is usually so quiet you can hear the orange juice drop. And, if the crowd is making noise, it’s usually for the visiting team. It was different last night.

The results were different as well. Casey Fossum pitched seven strong innings giving up just four hits, including one of Kevin Millar’s two homers on the night. But the game belonged to Jonny Gomes who hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 8th , leading the Devil Rays to a 7-4 victory.

“I’ve had that situation a million times in the streets and back home in the back yard,” Gomes said. “There are so many at-bats in a year, but there are just a few at-bats you’ll never forget for the rest of your life. Your first grand slam, you have in the bottom of the eighth and win the game. You never forget something like that.”

Despite the news that Tampa Bay placed third baseman Aubrey Huff on the disabled list Wednesday and could be sidelined four to six weeks, and shortstop Julio Lugo is on the disabled list with an abdominal strain and is expected to be out until at least April 19, and second baseman Jorge Cantu was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game last night with a bruised left foot, the Rays may be a lot of fun this year.

Top of the 3rd
NOT SO MUCH FUN
The other team in Florida this year is by far the runaway leader in baseball’s biggest disgrace of the year. The Florida Marlins are bad and are looking to get worse. The Marlins decimated their roster in what could only be described as an off-season yard sale leaving them with only two premier players: pitcher Dontrelle Willis and outfielder/third baseman Miguel Cabrera. The payroll was reduced from $60.4 million to $14.3 million and now rumors abound that the Fish will soon be trading these two stars as well.

Cabrera hit .323 with 33 home runs and 116 RBI last season and will turn 23 Tuesday and has a .310 average with 78 home runs in his first 410 games as a major leaguer. Willis is only 24, and last season had a 22-10 record and a 2.63 ERA, and he was second in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award. The 2003 Rookie of the Year has a 46-27 record in three seasons.

Yesterday, Cabrera hit his second homer of the season as the Fish lost to the Padres, 7-2. The afternoon game drew a crowd of 8,994, down from 31,308 for the home opener. Brian Moehler (0-2) allowed six runs, five earned, in 5 1/3 innings reducing his ERA to 13.50, but the staff’s ERA rose to 5.31.

Top of the 4th
PREMATURE CONGRATULATIONS
Tomorrow, Greg Maddux turns 40; he ended his thirties in style. Truly pitching, not to be confused with throwing, Maddux mixed pitches, locations and speeds and allowed just three hits and a run in six innings against Cincinnati even though the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field. Maddux finished with two walks and seven strikeouts and gave up just one run in the Cubs 4-1 victory.

It was win number 320 for Maddux and according to Elias, of the 15 300-game winners who began their careers since 1900, only three had more wins before turning 40 than Maddux: Walter Johnson (all 417 of his wins came before his 40th birthday), Christy Mathewson (all 373) and Grover Alexander (327 of 373). The only other post-1900 member of the 300-win club who had won even 290 games by his 40th birthday was Steve Carlton (313).

Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. left the game in the 4th because of stiffness in the back of his right knee, an injury he said is not serious. It occurred in batting practice when he was chasing fly balls.

Top of the 5th
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Gary Sheffield homered and drove in four runs in the New York Yankees’ 12-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Jason Giambi had a pair of RBI doubles, Derek Jeter scored three times and Sheffield finished with three hits.

Royals starter Jeremy Affeldt had a 3-0 1st inning lead, but in the bottom of the inning he walked his first two batters, to bring up Sheffield who smashed a vicious line drive that nearly nailed 60-year-old third base coach Larry Bowa, who quickly dove to the ground in foul territory just in time. Bowa turned to the crowd and shrugged his shoulders as Sheffield smiled from the edge of the batters’ box. “It was coming right at my head,” Bowa said. “He scares me. … I don’t know where to go.”

Sheffield drove the next pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run shot that tied the score. It was his 451st career homer.

Pedro Martinez avoided another beanball war as the New York Mets defeated the Washington Nationals, 3-1. Carlos Beltran went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI sacrifice fly for the Mets, whose 6-1 start is their best since they went 8-1 to begin the 1985 season. Carlos Delgado doubled home a run and David Wright went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple and a run scored to raise his average to .444. Billy Wagner got his second save.

The Mets, have baseball’s best record and have not had a better record than every other major league team anytime after the three-game mark since the morning of Aug. 3, 1988, when they were 64-41.

Top of the 6th
THE FIVE YOUNGEST PLAYERS ON OPENING DAY:
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 19 years, 360 days.
Fabio Castro, Rangers, 21 years, 73 days.
Joel Zumaya, Tigers, 21 years, 145 days.
Matt Cain, Giants, 21 years, 184 days.
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 21 years, 187 days.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 4/13/2006
On this date in 1993, he became the all-time saves leader
THE SMILE
And who did he pass?
JAR OFFENDER

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 4/13/2006
Since 1997, how many players have hit more than 55 homers in a season?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 4/12/06
Happy birthday, to this catcher born in Brooklyn.
DUAL CUPOLA

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 4/12/06
Before 1997, how many players hit more than 55 home runs in a season?
Five – Babe Ruth (twice), Roger Maris, Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that yesterday Wesleyan University rapped out 16 hits off of six Bates College pitchers in defeating the Bates Bobcats 14-2. I mention that because Wesleyan senior Jeff Maier hit an RBI double in the third inning to start a six-run rally. It was the 169th hit in his career, breaking Bill Robinson’s Cardinals career record set in 2003 (168). Maier finished with a pair of doubles while four Wesleyan pitchers combined on a six-hitter.

It’s nearly 10 years since 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium and turned Derek Jeter’s fly ball into a home run.

Top of the 9th
THE AXE, THE AXE, THE AXE
Lou Piniella said on Sunday that he wouldn’t mind getting back into managing in the major leagues but only with a contender. Do any of these spots fit the bill?

Who do you think the first manager who will be held responsible for their teams play?
Here are some candidates:
Toronto manager John Gibbons
Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker
Arizona manager Bob Melvin
Washington manager Frank Robinson

Who do you think?
Drop me a line at bill@billy-ball.com

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.