Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-4-14

4/14/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Top of the 1st
ALL I DON’T KNOW ABOUT COACHES…BRIEFLY
I’ll be honest with you; I really have no idea what coaches do. Fifty years ago, when Don Larsen pitched the Perfect Game, he switched to a no-windup delivery. I asked him if pitching coach Johnny Sain had taught him that and Larsen replied, “Nope I learned it myself. Sain just told me not to mess up.”

Now I’m sure that things are different today. Pitching coaches probably review video tape with their pitchers, suggest hair conditioners and work on Soduko puzzles with them; I clearly have no idea. They often go out and speak to a pitcher during a game and tell them to throw strikes, settle down, and “get this guy.” Most pitching coaches were either pitchers or catchers. This is what they talked about during mound conferences. Pitching coaches seem to keep track of the number of pitches thrown and spit seeds with the manager in the dugout during a game.

I know that first base coaches collect the assortment of armor that batters wear when they reach first or second base and remind the runner how many outs there are. On every close play, they yell “Safe.” Close is if the runner is out by less than a yard. They also seem to clap their hands a lot. I think they are bored most of the game.

Third base coaches are the ones who provide a physical form of semaphore that enable the batter to know what the manager wants them to do. Very rarely are there any surprises, which mean they could basically hold up hand written signs indicating the suggested action. They seem to get yelled at a lot for having slow runners thrown out at the plate by fielders with good arms. Everybody laughs at them when they nearly get hit by foul line drives.

Bullpen coaches answer the phone and wave when the relief pitcher is ready. Sometimes, they grow tomatoes in the bullpen.

Bench coaches are very important, they are the manager’s right hand man, yet invariably they seem to stand or sit on the manager’s left. I don’t know why. The bench coach seems to be the only one who talks to the manager during a game. Like the managers they seem to have very brief conversations and barely move their lips when they talk. I don’t know why. They spend the entire game hoping the manager will get thrown out so that they could be the manager. They spend the entire season hoping the manager gets fired so that they could be the manager.

There you have it. I told you it would be brief.

Top of the 2nd
IT’S A LITTLE STRANGE
I find it a little strange (although not suspicious) who’s hitting and who’s not. In yesterday’s White Sox 13-9 victory of the Tigers, the two teams set Comerica Park records for hits (38 – the Tigers had 21 in a losing cause) and extra-base hits (15). Chris Shelton hit his seventh home run of the season, in a losing cause and he set an American League record for most home runs by a player over his team’s first 10 games of a season (the Tigers have played nine). The White Sox’ Jim Thome homered for the fourth straight game and has hit six home runs in the nine games played by the White Sox. Travis Hafner has hit six homers in the nine games played by the Indians, but none yesterday in the Tribe’s 9-5 loss to the Mariners.

Chase Utley hit his first two homers of the season, giving the Philadelphia Phillies a 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. Jeff Francoeur hit his first two homers of the season in a losing cause.

Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Carlos Delgado all homered for the Mets in their 13-4 victory over Washington. According to Elias, it marked the first time in the Mets’ 7,004-game history that the third, fourth, fifth and sixth hitters in their starting lineup had all connected in the same game.

The Giants and the Astros split a doubleheader. In the second game Astros victory, Lance Berkman, who has homered in five of his last seven games, hit a two-run shot batting left-handed and added a solo homer batting righty. It was the first time in his career he homered from both sides.

On the other hand, Manny Ramirez didn’t homer in the Red Sox 8-6 loss to the Blue Jays. Manny is not being Manny as he is still looking for his first extra-base hit of the season. Through eight games and 28 at-bats, he has just six singles and has grounded into three double plays.

And Barry B*nds did not homer again. This is the longest he has gone into a season when healthy without a homer since 1998, when he didn’t hit one out until San Francisco’s 13th game. He is 3-for-16 (.188) with one RBI.

Okay maybe it is a little suspicious.

Top of the 3rd
TIME TO RE-THINK THE PLANS
The Dodgers were planning to send Cody Ross to the minors after yesterday’s game. Center fielder Kenny Lofton (calf) is ready to come off the disabled list, and manager Grady Little said the logical move was to send Ross to Triple-A. However, there are two problems, one – Ross is out of options and must pass through waivers if the Dodgers try to demote him. Two- Ross had a monster game yesterday.
Ross started yesterday only because J.D. Drew got the afternoon off after playing the night before, and went on to drive in seven runs by hitting a grand slam and a three-run homer in successive at-bats and the Dodgers defeated the Pirates, 13-5.

“Normally it’s day by day, but, seriously, it’s minute by minute around here,” Ross said. “I have no clue. I haven’t had one person say anything remotely close to what’s going on.” Ross is now 6-12 on the season.

Ross became one of the few major leaguers in history to hit grand slams for each of his first two career homers. His only previous homer was a grand slam for the Tigers on Sept. 2, 2003, against the Indians and according to Elias, the only other active major leaguer to begin his career by hitting grand slams for each of his first two homers was Craig Counsell for the Marlins in 1997-98.

The last Dodgers player to hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in the same game was Darryl Strawberry, who did it against San Diego on Aug. 21, 1991.

Top of the 4th
GOTCHA!
CNN reported yesterday that the federal government is investigating whether Barry B*nds committed perjury during his grand jury testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case in 2003. Multiple sources told CNN that a federal grand jury has been hearing evidence for more than a month about whether Bonds perjured himself during his Dec. 4, 2003, testimony.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last night that B*nds’ personal surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury later this month. Investigators are reportedly interested in Ting, who treated the knee injury that sidelined B*nds for much of the 2005 season, because he visited BALCO with B*nds. The Chronicle’s sources told the newspaper that federal investigators believed B*nds was lying because documents seized in government raids included documentation of the slugger’s drug use.
A number of professional athletes were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their truthful testimony. They were also told that they would be prosecuted if it was later discovered they had lied.

Top of the 5th
LOCO FOR COCO
The Boston Red Sox signed newly acquired outfielder Coco Crisp to a $15.5 million, three-year contract extension. Crisp was already signed for this year at $2.75 million. The extension contains a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $3.5 million in 2007, $4.75 million in 2008 and $5.75 million in 2009. The deal contains an $8 million team option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout and contains salary escalator provisions. Before the extension, Crisp’s contact was set to expire at the end of the year, but he would have been eligible for arbitration through 2009, which would have kept him in Boston until then.

Crisp is on the disabled list with a broken finger, has yet to play a home game for the Sox, and has yet to drive home a run.

Top of the 6th
WHAT IS THIS, THE NO FUN LEAGUE?
The NFL is very much a militaristic operation when it comes to how their players should look and act, but I always felt that MLB was a little more flexible. Baseball’s hierarchy have sent letters of warning to Cubs Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jacque Jones telling them to take references to the late Kirby Puckett off their hats.

Jones, a former Twin, had the small initials “KP” on his hat. “I knew about the rule, but (Puckett) meant a lot to the game,” said Jones, who called MLB’s enforcement director Bob Watson to protest but has not heard back.

Hairston-whose father Jerry was a close friend of Puckett’s when he was with the White Sox-did not know about the rule, “but I’m real disappointed. I knew Kirby since I was 10, he’s a Chicago native. He was my hero.”

Baseball has a rule about altering uniforms unless an entire team does it. I’m surprised that in the 2004 post-season that MLB didn’t force all the red Sox to play with bloody socks.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 4/14/2006
Happy 40th birthday to his Cubs pitcher
MAD GRUDGE X

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 4/14/2006
Entering this season, who is the all-time home run leader after his 40th birthday?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 4/14/06
On this date in 1993, he became the all-time saves leader
THE SMILE/ JAR OFFENDER – Lee Smith got his 358th save, passing Jeff Reardon of the Cincinnati Reds

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 4/14/06
Since 1997, how many players have hit more than 55 in a season?
Six – Barry B*nds, Sammy Sosa (three times), Mark McGwire (twice), Ken Griffey Jr.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Over their eight games so far this season, the Mets, who are 7-1, have outscored their opponents 53-27 and trailed for just two of their 73 innings.

Top of the 9th
NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON’T
I told you if this week went well, I would take next week off and I wasn’t kidding. Thanks to everyone for making this a terrific week. Next week the Balls head out to Seattle to see Elizabeth and enjoy some delicious Ivar’s seafood. Since I don’t have a laptop, there will be no Billy-Ball. In the future, if you would like me to write Billy-Ball on vacation please send me a laptop and I will give it strong consideration.

Stay well and I will try to check e-mails.

Bottom of the 9th
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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.