Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-4-7

4/7/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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A hairball is nothing like a curveball.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Top of the 1st
PET TEAMS
As you watch your favorite batters flail at pitches out of the strike zone and foul off pitches you know they should cream and you get frustrated at your favorite pitchers who are missing the strike zone and or getting too much of the strike zone, you need to remember it’s really early in the season and timing is still not there. I only speak from experience. It’s early in the Billy-Ball season and it will take a couple of weeks to find our rhythm and find the daily stories that make baseball so wonderful.

In the meantime, it’s been awhile since I told you about Mookie, Wilson, and Allie. They are my “pet team.” Mookie is an 8-year old Wheaton Terrier, Wilson is a six-year old long-haired cat, and Allie is three-old, fat cat. While sometimes it does feel a little bit like a circus in this household, invariably it has been more the results of the humans than of the menagerie.

Like me, all the pets love food and we all have our cuisine eccentricities (my focus du jour). For those of you who might be planning to have me over for dinner, I am an “aquarium”; meaning I eat only fish and vegetables and fruit and just about every carbo imaginable with the exception of Bernie.

Mook and I are the only males in this household (although we’ve both been “fixed” in spite of the fact that we both insisted that nothing was “broken”) and there is quite a bit of male bonding between us. For example, we both love pizza. Being a native New Yorker, I am very selective about the pizza I eat. In this pizza-wasteland known as “Boston” I find it very difficult to find even marginally decent pizza to eat. Mookie is less choosy. He will eat any pizza he finds on any sidewalk and enjoy it immensely.

Unlike many doggies, Mook doesn’t immediately eat his food as its poured into his bowl, sometimes he won’t have his first meal of the day until evening (although he is always up for a treat). Wilson has her own set of quirks. Besides being a “freak-a-zoid” with six claws on each of her front paws, when it comes to food she’s a snacker. She rarely will sit and eat a huge meal preferring to eat a little bit of dry food when she is in the mood. The biggest problem is that these moods can, and do, occur at any time during a 24-hour period. It doesn’t matter whether it is day or night, she wants food when the mood strikes her.

That is why she taught herself how to turn on my alarm clock.

Yes, my cat knows how to operate the buttons on my alarm clock that will turn on the radio, the CD player, anything she wants to hear. If I try to ignore her, she will scratch at the books on my night table. When I attempt to swat her away from the night table, she will simply leap to the bookcase over our bed and start knocking books on my head until I get out of bed and feed her. I do get up at that point not just for my safety and my desire to resume my sleep, but out of respect to her persistence.

As I’m writing this column, just like every morning when I write Billy-Ball, Mookie is on my right either on the chair or on the floor and Allie is on my left, on the desk, between the monitor and the printer. If Allie could talk and you asked her what her philosophy of food was she would sum it up in three words, “give me food.” The cat loves to eat and like me she is…how can I say it politely…fat.

Allie is interested in cat food at anytime of the day and believes that she is insulting me if she leaves any in the bowl. She is a member of the clean plate club. She is also more than happy to clean anyone else’s plate as well. Yet, when I put food out and both cats are waiting, she will always show deference to her older sister and let Wilson eat first. Allie also, by the by, is incredibly close to Mookie. Whenever we come back from a walk, she will run from where ever she is, talking all the while, and rub up against Mook, purring with delight.

Mookie and Wilson were named for the wonderful Mets’ outfielder Mookie Wilson. Mookie was once asked why he got married in a ballpark he responded, “My wife wanted a big diamond.” And when asked by Billy-Ball, his ownself, about people naming their pets after him, he told me that he gets a least a letter a week with somebody naming their dog, rabbit or snake after him and it makes him feel so wonderful because a pet is such an important part of the family and it shares in the love and he is so flattered to be included in this fashion.

Allie is named after the pitcher Allie Reynolds, the Yankee pitcher who in 1951 won the Hickock Belt as the top professional athlete of the year, and in 1952 was second in the AL MVP voting, recording 20 wins and six saves, and leading the AL in both ERA (2.06) and shutouts (6). We named her Allie because the kids liked the name and because Mrs. Ball drew the line and wouldn’t let the new kitten be named “Buckner”

Go to www.billy-ball.com and click on the Pet Teams link to see pictures of our family of pets. Also, if you send me pictures of your pets (bill@billy-ball.com), I will post them on the Pet Teams page.

Top of the 2nd
ROLLINS ROLLIN’ NO MORE
It was fun while it lasted. Jimmy Rollins hitting streak ended at 38-games last night as the Cardinals defeated the Phillies, 4-2. “I said I’d trade a hit for a win,” Rollins said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Rollins flied out to right field (1st inning), left field (5th) and center field (7th), and was retired trying to bunt for a single in the 3rd. Rollins was the fifth batter due up in the 9th, but Jason Isringhausen retired the side in order.

Rollins’ season-ending 36-game hitting streak was the ninth-longest over one season in big league history, and the longest in the majors since 1987, when Paul Molitor hit safely in 39 consecutive games. The 38-game streak is the eighth-longest overall. Rollins batted .378 (64-for-169) during his 38-game hitting streak, which began Aug. 23 of last season. One major-league player had a higher batting average over that period than Rollins (minimum: 125 plate appearances): Indians catcher Victor Martinez (.384).

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is now 0-3 and hadn’t started 0-3 since losing the first three games in Arizona in 2000. The Phillies’ last 0-3 start at home came in 1982 with one loss to the New York Mets and two against Montreal.

Top of the 3rd
WILL THE NATIONALS SUE PEDRO?
The California Supreme Court ruled ruled 6-1 against a lawsuit by Jose Avila, a student at Rio Honda Community College, who was struck by a pitch in a 2001 game against Citrus Community College. Both schools are in Southern California.

According to his lawsuit, Avila’s helmet was broken and he suffered pain and dizziness from the beaning consequently he sued both schools, the manager, the maker of his helmet and others. But in a decision this week, the court ruled against him “For better or worse, being intentionally thrown at is a fundamental part and inherent risk of the sport of baseball,” the court wrote. “It is not the function of tort law to police such conduct.”
“Being intentionally hit is likewise an inherent risk of the sport, so accepted by custom that a pitch intentionally thrown at a batter has its own terminology: ‘brushback,’ ‘beanball,’ ‘chin music.'”

The judges concluded their opinion by quoting a Hall of Fame player: “In the possibly apocryphal words of New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over,’ but this means that for Avila’s complaint against Citrus College, it’s over.”

This brings me to Jose Guillen of the Nationals who charged right out of the box at Pedro Martinez after getting hit by a pitch for the second time by the Mets starter. Guillen didn’t reach him and the Nationals fell short as well, losing to the Mets, 10-5.

The Carlos homered for New York with Beltran going deep and riving home four runs while Carlos Delgado also connected to help Martinez win his first start of the season.

Top of the 4th
GAGNE WITH A SCALPEL
Dodgers closer Eric Gagne will have surgery today to remove a nerve from his pitching elbow, his second arm operation in less than a year, leaving his season in doubt. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. Ralph Gambardella of the team’s medical staff at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. It’s the same nerve that was moved during an operation last June.

The Dodgers acquired proven closer Danys Baez from Tampa Bay during the offseason to give the Dodgers some security in case something like this happened. Both Gagne and Baez are eligible for free-agency after the season.

In other injury news, Giants starter Noah Lowry left in the 2nd inning with a strained muscle in his lower back. Lowry, who signed a new four-year contract on Sunday, was the only member of the Giants rotation not to miss a start last year.

Ben Sheet, the hard-throwing Milwaukee Brewers ace struck out five in 2 2/3 innings in his rehabilitation start for Double-A Huntsville last night. Sheets, rehabbing a strained muscle in his upper back, allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits against the Mississippi Braves, walking none.

Top of the 5th
INTERESTING SPRING FOR JOHN FLAHERTY
John Flaherty had been the Yankees back up catcher the last three seasons but was released following the season. Flaherty signed on to replace Doug Mirabelli as backup catcher to Jason Varitek and the Red Sox. But after a couple of weeks trying to catch Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball, Flaherty decided that his 14 big league career was over before he set a record for passed balls.

Flaherty, most recently had a two-day audition as a SportsNet New York Mets studio analyst, and as a result was hired by the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network.
“Someone in the Yankee organization – high up in the organization – saw John working on the Mets station and wasn’t real happy,” one source said.

Alan Nero, Flaherty’s agent, said Flaherty also drew interest from the Madison Square Garden Network and ESPN. No reports as to whether Al Jezeera was interested.

Top of the 6th
THEOCRACY
Of the 61 players who began camp with the Red Sox this spring, 31 (51%) were new to the organization since the end of last season…53 of the 61 (87%) players had been acquired since Theo Epstein was first named General Manager on November 25, 2002… the 8 players who were in the organization prior to Theo’s appointment in 2002: RHP Manny Delcarmen, RHP Edgar Martinez, RHP Tim Wakefield, C Jason Varitek, INF Kevin Youkilis, OF Brandon Moss, OF Trot Nixon and OF Manny Ramirez.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 4/7/2006
On this date in1969, this Dodgers pitcher was credited with the first official save.
LIBEL RINGS

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 4/7/2006
Who were the first brothers to each pitch no-hitters?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 4/6/06
On this date in 1977, the Seattle Mariners made their debut losing to this pitcher and the Angels, 7-0.
AN ANT FAN ARK – Frank Tanana

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 4/6/06
Who hit the only walk-off home run in Reds Opening Day history?
Joe Randa, whose solo homer in the 9th inning capped a three-run rally and lifted the Reds to an improbable 7-6 win over the Mets in last season’s opener.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Facing a team that scored 25 runs in its first two games, Mark Hendrickson pitched a three-hit complete-game shutout to lead the Tampa Bay Devil Rays over the Baltimore Orioles, 2-0. It was the first complete game shutout for the Devil Rays since Jorge Sosa on Sept. 4, 2003. That streak of 349 consecutive games without an individual recording a shutout was the second-longest for any team in American League history. The Brewers (when they were in the AL) had a streak of 386 straight games, from 1994 to 1996.

Top of the 9th
GLAD TO BE BACK
Not a bad first week, huh? It’s just good to have baseball back and a pleasure to be with all of you. Any story ideas, suggestions for the site, etc., etc., etc. will be greatly appreciated and of course I would love to hear from you – just drop a line to bill@billy-ball.com. I can’t wait to see your pets.

Have a great weekend!

Bottom of the 9th
VISIT-BILLY-BALL-WORLD
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t_scott_brandon@msn.com and D. Bruce Brown bbrown8870@aol.com and you are always encouraged to get their e-mailings.

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.