Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-5-26

5/26/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Happy birthday Travis Lee

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Top of the 1st
HEADING TOWARD MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
The quarter pole is a good time to clean out the recesses of my mind:
The New York Mets have been in first place all season long and may be good enough to go wire-to-wire. The second base slot is a disaster, but the rest of the infield has been great and may get better as the season moves along. They just completed a 35 game stretch that may have been their toughest of the season and went 19-16. The NL East will be a good three team race.

Chase Utley is my favorite Phillie. He is hitting .328 with 9 homers and plays a strong second base.

What’s wrong with Andy Pettitte?

The Twins are toast.

Red Sox fans should not be too smug with their first place standing. The Yanks have had enormous injuries and they continue with Jorge Posada tearing a hamstring tendon and yet they are just a game out of first. Even without a win from A.J. Burnett, the Blue Jays are just 2.5 games out. The Sox will be a much better club when Coco Crisp returns, the only trouble is that Coco can’t pitch and right now Josh Beckett is the only truly reliable start since Curt Schilling has been somewhat shaky. This race could change depending on Roger Clemens decision in the next ten days.

Think about what Pedro Martinez’ record would be with the Mets without so many blown saves over the last season plus.

Albert Pujols. `Nuff said.

Don’t feel sorry for the Kansas City Royals. George Steinbrenner gives them luxury tax money and who knows what they do with it; they certainly have not spent it on their ballclub. According to the New York Times, the Royals received $64.5 million last year from Major League Baseball — $30 million in revenue sharing, and $34.5 million in media money (from national television contracts, cable, radio, Internet and the sale of merchandise). Often no player in the Royals starting lineup is under the age of 28.They are a disgrace and embarrassment to baseball and the memory of Ewing Kauffman.

Then there are the Detroit Tigers who have been taught how to win by Jim Leyland. Granted they have had a marshmallow schedule to this point but they have taken advantage of it and own the best record in baseball. Their play has been nothing short of amazing. “Jim Leyland is more paranoid by a long way than I am,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said earlier in the week of the Detroit skipper — in the immediate aftermath of the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of Kansas City. “He can’t sleep, he can’t eat. All he can do is smoke. “I heard him say (Monday) that he was scared of the four-game series against Kansas City — and he meant it.”

Albert Pujols is on pace to break both single-season home run records and Hack Wilson’s major league record 191 RBI, set with the 1930 Chicago Cubs.

What is wrong with the AL West?

Let’s hear it for Jim Thome.

Kevin Youkilis has 31 walks this season. I guess those in the know were right on the “Moneyball.” He’s also perfect in the field in 331 chances.

Could we discuss for a moment how great Ichiro is? He started off miserably and now he is up to .314 with 15 stolen bases. Last year was his worst as a major leaguer – he only had 206 hits. He also has a rifle for an arm.

Why do they keep hitting Reed Johnson of the Jays? He leads the AL with 8 HBP. Rickie Weeks and David Eckstein have each been hit 8 times to lead the NL.

Don’t expect Dontrelle Willis to be going anywhere until the trading deadline and maybe not even then. The Marlins don’t have to get rid of him or Miguel Cabrera although they are both arbitration eligible and the two of them by themselves will double the Florida payroll.

Garrett Atkins of the Rockies has already hit into 13 DPs.

Speaking of the Fish, Hanley Ramirez is going to be huge star for them. The rookie is hitting .335. His double play partner, Dan Uggla is hitting .315 and showing a little pop.

How did the NL West get so good?

Jonathan Papelbon. Lights out.

Have you noticed that there are more complete games and more shutouts this year?

When will the fans start noticing the absence of “greenies”? July or August?

Anybody notice the season that Nomar is putting together for the Dodgers?

Is Randy Johnson done or will I write this and then he’ll reel off six wins in a row?

More next week.

Top of the 2nd
ASTROS CAN’T STEAL A WIN
Houston stole seven bases, the most by any team in the majors in nearly four years, but that’s not really what made Frank Robinson cry. Nor did he weep over Washington’s 8-5 victory. What got to Robby was that he had to pull catcher Matt LeCroy mid-inning to save him and the team from further embarrassment. After three batters in the 7th inning, with the tying run on base and shortly after LeCroy had committed his second error by throwing a ball into center field, Robinson pulled him for emergency catcher Robert Fick. “I feel for him,” Robinson said. “And I hope the fans understand. And I just appreciate him hanging in there as long as he did.”

“If my daddy was managing this team, I’m sure he would have done the same thing.” – said LeCroy, about his non-supportive father.

The Astros, whose club record is eight stolen bases, last stole seven on April 13, 1999, at San Francisco. Florida was the last team in the majors to steal that many, on May 27, 2002, against the New York Mets. That was the longest span in the major leagues without a seven-steal game by one team since there were none from May 1969 to August 1974. There were 21 such games from 1995 to 2002.

Top of the 3rd
THE CHALLENGED ROYALS
After blowing a 6-0 1st inning lead to lose to the Tigers yesterday, 13-8, the Royals have now dropped 13 straight. Here are the relevant standings:

2006 Royals 10-35
1962 Mets 12-33
2006 Brockton Rox 1-0.

Top of the 4th
O THOSE M’S
The Orioles blanked the Mariners, 2-0. It was the sixth time this season that Seattle was shut out, and all six of those games have been at home. Only two other teams in American League history suffered six home shutouts in one season before June: the 1914 Red Sox (six) and 1984 Yankees (eight).

Top of the 5th
I LOVE THIS
On this date in 1933, Indians third baseman Joe Sewell struck out twice facing lefthander Pat Caraway of the White Sox. It is the last time he struck out that season, whiffing only three times in 353 at-bats.

Top of the 6th
GREAT LAST LICK MOMENT
On this date in 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pirates pitched 12 perfect innings against Milwaukee, only to lose it in the 13th when Felix Mantilla reached base on an error. A sacrifice and an intentional walk to Hank Aaron. Joe Adcock then hits one out of the park but Aaron leaves the field, and Adcock passes him on the basepaths. Both are called out as Mantilla scores. It’s often forgotten that Lew Burdette went all the way for the 1-0 win, scattering 12 hits.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 5/26/2006
Happy birthday to this former Braves, Giants and Tigers outfielder whose nickname was Doody.
LAND REVERSAL

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 5/26/2006
Who surrendered Barry B*nds 714th homer?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 5/25/06
Happy birthday to a man who can count to 56
NOT MUCH OF JONES – JOHN MONTEFUSCO – “THE COUNT”

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 5/25/06
Who surrendered Hank Aaron’s 714th homer?
Jack Billingham

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that the Dodgers Brad Penny has allowed only two homers in 58.1 innings this season? Carlos Silva of the Twins has allowed 15 in 50 innings and his teammate Brad Radke has allowed 14 in 55.2 innings.

Top of the 9th
HAVE A GREAT LONG WEEKEND EVERYONE
It’s Memorial Day on Monday, here in the States, and for me that means sleeping late and sleeping late. I know some of you will be watching the Indy 300 (shortened this year because of the high price of gas), I won’t but I can assure you there will be no tears if a car breaks down on the track.

Thank you all for your support this week and every week for Billy-Ball – its hard work but somebody has to be lucky enough to do it – I’m just glad it’s me.

See you Tuesday.

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.