Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-5-2

5/2/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Top of the 1st
BOO WHO?
They booed him unmercifully last night. Oh, the first time up it was a mix, but that fact that it was a mix was pretty amazing unto itself. He had been their guy. He was the man. He was their hero.

If you had asked any of them, not too long ago, if they would ever boo him, the response would have been an incredulous, “Boo who?!? Not me, I would never boo him!” But parenthetically the phrase that had been omitted was “unless he plays for our rivals, because they are the enemy.”

There he was last night in the uniform of the hated, the despised, the despicable. So they booed, they jeered, they taunted. They don’t like any of “them” but they especially don’t like him because he was one of “us” and now he is one of “them.” He had been the object of their affection, perhaps more than any of the other players on the team, but they say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; apparently it’s nothing like a fan scorned.

He was Saddam, Osama, and Dr. Evil all rolled into one last night and with each at bat the vilification grew. “Brutal,” said one of his cohorts of the cold reception that the player received. “It was disappointing. He did a lot of great things for this team.”

But these fans are less concerned with what he had done, as they were with “what have you done for me lately?’ You see these fans aren’t fickle. They are loyal. They are true to their colors. Each and every one of these fans who tossed barbs would turn down the extra millions that were offered them. Each one would stick with their boss in spite of the fact that another company would woo them with perks and benefits for them and their family. They true to their team even if their team wasn’t as true to them.

But not this guy. “He’s a bum.” “He’s Judas.” “He sucks.” The voices from the stands said each of those things and they should know right? Forget the fact that he had expressed on several occasions that he never wanted to leave the organization, or that he said over the weekend about how excited he was to return to the place where he had such fond memories.

The feelings apparently weren’t mutual.

“You know they’re booing a uniform now,” another player in the same boat said. “They don’t boo bad players. They boo good players.”

“I was real disappointed by it, kind of embarrassing,” his new manager said. “You don’t boo him, he’s a class act. That’s OK. We’ll give him a standing ovation .”

Yesterday, I asked former Red Sox great Rico Petrocelli how he felt about booing, “I only boo when a player doesn’t hustle.” I’m the same way; I boo when I feel someone cheats or dishonors the game.

And so I boo those fans in Cleveland who booed Jim Thome upon his return last night in a Chicago White Sox uniform. He brought pride to the Indians, way more than those fans did or ever will.

To those sore losers, and to those in another ballpark who might have responded the same fashion, you acted like crybabies last night and to you I say, “Boo-hoo.”

Top of the 2nd
MIRABELLI MAGIC
There is always something unusual about every Red Sox Yankee game. It is never ordinary. This game was waited for with great anticipation, not because it was the first game of the rivalry this season, but because it was the return of Johnny Damon in a New York uniform.

But that wasn’t the first storyline of the night. This wasn’t a night about subtraction and the return of a hero as the enemy. This was a night about addition, the return of a player to his rightful place…behind the plate catching the bedeviling knuckleball of Tim Wakefield.

And like everything that occurs in Red Sox Nation, this had a flair for the dramatic.

Yesterday afternoon, the Sox announced that they had traded the beleagured catcher Josh, Josh Bard, no longer hot pitching prospect Cla Meredith and $100,000 to San Diego for Doug Mirabelli who they had traded away in December for second baseman Mark Loretta. By doing that, in essence, the Sox also reacquired a confident Tim Wakefield and made the Padres look foolish (although I doubt that that was their intent).

Now the Padres were in San Francisco last night, not exactly around the corner. Yet their was Mirabelli on the runway at Boston’s Logan Airport at 6:48 p.m. as the Sox were warming up on the field in preparation for their 7:05 start. Yes, the Sox had a helicopter ready to bring him into Boston, but they opted instead for a police escort as Mirabelli changed from his civvies into a uni in the car. As he walked through the clubhouse, he was handed his equipment and headed out to the field to catch Tim Wakefield’s first pitch which was mysteriously delayed to 7:13.

After all is said and done though the big story of the night wasn’t Johnny Damon’s return (he went 0-4) or Doug Mirabelli’s return (although the team look much more relaxed with him behind the plate). The big story, as it so often is, was Big Papi, David Ortiz, whose three-run homer off of former Sox, lefty specialist Mike Myers, iced the 7-3 Red Sox win.

Can’t wait to see what happens tonight.

Top of the 3rd
IN OTHER ACTION
Scott Podsednik had four hits and matched a club record with four steals as the White Sox defeated the Indians, 8-6 winning their fourth straight and improved to 18-7. Chicago has won eight straight and 10 of 11 in Cleveland. It was Guillen’s 200th win as White Sox manager. He’s 117-70 since the start of last season. The Indians’ Victor Martinez extended his streak of reaching base to 41 straight games with a walk.

Tim Hudson threw the second one-hitter of his career, leading the Atlanta Braves past the Rockies, 2-0. His other one-hitter came nearly six years ago while he was pitching for Oakland. Hudson shut out the Chicago White Sox 3-0 on Aug. 28, 2000. Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings’ single with two outs in the 3rd inning was the only Colorado hit. The game was played in only 2 hours, 7 minutes.

Bronso Arroyo stayed unbeaten in Cincinnati by pitching a four-hitter for the second complete game of his career, and the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1. Theo is working on a deal to get him back now. The victory left Cincinnati (18-8) in sole possession of first place in the NL Central, a game ahead of the defending champion Cardinals.

Top of the 4th
ON THE LIDGE
Astros reliever Brad Lidge is 0-1 with a 6.39 earned-run average and two blown saves in 10 chances. The more telling numbers were that he had allowed 21 runners and three homers in 12-2/3 innings. A year ago, Lidge permitted 84 runners and five homers in 70-2/3 innings.

Top of the 5th
C.C. RIGHTER
C.C. Sabathia will be making his first start in 28 days, coming off the disabled list to face the Chicago White Sox tonight at Jacobs Field. Sabathia started the season opener against Chicago on April 2 at U.S. Cellular Field. He left after 37 pitches because of a strained right oblique muscle and hasn’t taken a turn in the rotation since.

Top of the 6th
NEW FEATURE
Check out my new Separated @ Birth feature
http://billy-ball.com/SEPARATEDBIRTH.htm

Send your Separated @ Birth suggestions to Bill@billy-ball.com

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 5/2/2006
This Hall of Fame 2nd baseman played 25 seasons in the major leagues – a 20th century record for position players.
LICENSED IDOL

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 5/2/2006
Who was “The Hawk” back in the 1960s?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 5/1/06
Fourteen years ago today, he stole his 1,000th career base.
SKINNY OR CHEERED? – RICKEY HENDERSON

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 5/1/06
What is MLB’s Jackie Robinson Award?
The Rookie of the Year Award.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Frank Robinson of the Washington Nationals is the only Hall of Famer currently managing in the major leagues. He and Joe Torre of the New York Yankees are the only current managers who won Most Valuable Player awards.

Top of the 9th
ZITO – NY BOUND?
Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito would be interested in signing with either the Yankees or Mets. The Yankees’ Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon said Zito would thrive in the city. If Zito opts for the Angels, he could ride to work from his Van Nuys home with manager Mike Scioscia, whose daily journey starts in Thousand Oaks, if he opts for the Yankees, he’ll take the subway with Joe Torre.
Last night, Zito combined with two relievers on a six-hitter, and the Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels, 1-0. Zito’s ERA dropped from 5.93 to 4.63.

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.