Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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Happy birthday, Miguel Tejada!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Top of the 1st
So, gray-haired, paunchy, 29-year old Taylor Hicks is the American Idol. To me that’s no surprise. For those of us with 13-year old daughters watching Idol wannabes from January to June standard fare, as it appears to be for a large segment of the American viewing public. Make fun if you like, but Idol has much of the combination of a group event plus one-on-one competition that makes baseball so exciting every game. Okay, maybe I’m rationalizing my commitment to the show a little too strongly, but it really is good television.
Taylor Hicks is fun comfort food who does his job knowing how to please his audience. Kind of like a pitcher who knows how to pitch to each team and to each batter and simply knows how to win. He may not be the flashiest, with the fastball in the upper 90’s or the curve that drops off the table, he simply knows how to pitch. He may not go through histrionics on the mound, play to the photographers or reporters, but by the time he’s pitched another complete game, he has a win next to his name. Taylor Hicks is Greg Maddux in his prime. At the end of watching a Maddux game you were absolutely satisfied.
But one of Idols real weaknesses is that it has this need to keep appealing to Baby Boomers. Instead of focusing on the current competition that these wannabes will be facing, they wheel out usetobes to perform. Last night’s embarrasees included Al Jarreau, Meat Loaf, and Dionne Warwick each of whom needed an inhaler to sustain a note and received a complimentary American Idol Drool Cup on their way back to the home.
Not unlike Greg Maddux, his ownself, yesterday. The Marlins beat up Maddux and the Cubs pretty badly yesterday, 9-4. After going 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA in April, the four-time Cy Young winner fell to 0-4 with a 7.81 ERA this May. The last time Maddux went through a full month without a victory was September 2001. Maddux gave up six runs and eight hits in six innings. After giving up five runs in the fifth and falling behind 6-3, he clubbed the cooler. The saddest note he sung was when he said, “I threw the ball where I wanted to and they still hit it.”
He should call Randy Johnson and talk about life “back in the day.” Johnson faced the Red Sox last night and in five innings he allowed nine hits and five runs. It was the sixth time in eight starts that he allowed at least five runs as his ERA rose from 5.62 to 5.89. Remarkably, he was the winning pitcher in the Yankees 8-6 win as the atrocious Matt Clement pitched 4.1 and gave up 8 runs. His ERA is 6.31. If this were Idol, he would be voted off, but the pitching thin Red Sox have no one to replace him.
Interestingly, last night after his Idol performance, asked backstage if he had any advice for contestants, Meat Loaf replied: “If you want to do this, you’re gonna go up and down, and up and down, and people are going to love you and hate you … Just stick with it,” he said. This is not too dissimilar to the way Yankee manager described Johnson’s performance, “Good, bad, good bad,” was Torre’s take. “Sometimes it looked like he was relaxed and just let the ball fly and then at other times he looked like he was trying to make too good of a pitch.”
Consistency is the name of the game in performing on stage and on the mound, the good ones, like Taylor Hicks and Greg Maddux, have that (or had that) and it’s no surprise when they win.
Top of the 2nd
Has anyone noticed what the Angels have been doing? Really what they haven’t been doing; that is winning. Jeff Weaver (2-7) won for the first time in more than a month as the Angels defeated the Rangers, 8-5. I don’t find Weaver and his 6.99 ERA that much of a surprise, what is really surprising is that Los Angeles has the second-worst record in the AL, better than only Kansas City, but the Angels have won two in a row for the first time since April 24. They had not won a series since April 24-26 against Detroit. They scored 15 runs in the two victories over Texas, after totaling just 13 during their preceding six-game losing streak.
In spite of their 19-28 record, the Halos are only 4.5 games behind the first place Rangers in the AL West, this year’s NL West. The San Diego Padres won the NL West last season with an 82-80 record. All five teams in the division presently have winning records.
Top of the 3rd
Aaron Sele worked seven shutout innings, Jeff Kent and Rafael Furcal had three hits each, and the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-1, for their seventh straight victory. The win enabled the Dodgers to sweep a six-game homestand for the first time since May 1994, when they accomplished the feat against Houston and San Diego. The Dodgers have won 11 of 12 at home and raised their record to 15-3 since a five-game losing streak The Dodgers have won their last six series, marking the first time they’ve done so in nearly two years.
dropped them a season-high five games below .500. They’re now a season-high seven games over .500 and trail the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks by a half-game.
Meanwhile, the Tigers, with two home runs from Omar Infante, beat Kansas City 6-3 to hand the Royals their 12th straight loss. Brandon Inge also homered and Ivan Rodriguez had three hits for the Tigers, who lead the majors with a 32-14 record and the AL with 39 road homers. Detroit has won 12 of its last 13 and has a major league-best 19 road victories. Starting pitchers are 27-12 for the Tigers through 46 games; Detroit’s starters won as many as 27 of the team’s first 46 games only one other time in the last 95 seasons (28-8 at this juncture in 1984).
The hapless Royals dropped to 10-34 and in their 12-game skid, their second double-digit losing streak already this year, the Royals have been outscored 87-41. Doug Mientkiewicz made an error for the Royals and the only significance is that the Royals are 1-19 when they make an error. Their 9-15 when they don’t make an error is not that impressive either.
Top of the 4th
C.C Sabathia threw a six-hitter, Casey Blake homered twice and the Cleveland Indians buried the Miserable Twins, 11-0. Sabathia, coming off a three-hitter Friday against Pittsburgh, pitched his third career shutout and first since Sept. 6, 2004, at Seattle. Sabathia (4-1) pitched his second consecutive complete game, struck out eight and retired 14 straight batters during one stretch. Since coming off the disabled list May 2, the left-hander is 4-1 with an 0.91 ERA. He has fanned 27 in his last three starts.
The Twins are now 20-26, 11.5 games behind the Tigers. Yes, the Detroit Tigers.
Top of the 5th
METS ACQUIRE JULIO FRANCO’S OLDER BROTHER
The Mets traded reliever Jorge Julio to the Diamondbacks for Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Hernandez was struggling in his first season in the National League. He was just 2-4 with a 6.11 ERA in nine starts for the West-leading Diamondbacks, and was not pitching with a set turn.
“I need to pitch every five days,” Hernandez said. “In New York, I’ll pitch every five days.” Just like he did when he was with the Yankees when he was in the same rotation with Bullet Bob Turley.
Top of the 6th
BASEBALL TERMINOLOGY – SAVE
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
– (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
– (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
– (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.
Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 5/25/2006
Happy birthday to a man who can count to 56
NOT MUCH OF JONES
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 5/25/2006
Who surrendered Hank Aaron’s 714th homer?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com
Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 5/24/06
On this date, Joe McCarthy was replaced by this man
KILL BY DICE – BILL DICKEY
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 5/24/06
Who surrendered Babe Ruth’s 714th homer?
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Marlins pitcher Brian Moehler went 0-for-2 yesterday, making him 0-for-19 this season and 3-for-86 in his career.
Top of the 9th
LET’S HEAR IT FOR ADAM WAINWRIGHT
Adam Wainwright made his first major league appearance yesterday coming in from the bullpen to pick up the win as the Cardinals defeated the Giants, 10-4. Will he be thinking about that today or will he be thinking about about the home home run he hit in his first major league at-bat? Only two other relief pitchers have ever homered in their first major league at-bat and earned a victory in the same game. Hoyt Wilhelm did it for the 1952 New York Giants, as did John Montefusco for the San Francisco Giants in 1974.
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.