Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-6-13

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Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on a curveball

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Top of the 1st
I recently saw one of those commercials for the TV ratings system, called the TV Parental Guidelines and it got me thinking. First off, you know how dangerous thinking is, particularly from a wild-card like me, but there I was thinking and wondering, “what is baseball rated?” Now, I’m not being facetious (okay, maybe a little) but what would you rate televised baseball? And, would you rate the in-person experience any differently?

TV-Y is the first level on the rating scale. These are programs designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 – 6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children.

I’m not sure TV Y is what we are looking for here. For one thing, whenever they show those little kids at a ballgame, they are either sleeping or the parents have purchased enough souvenirs to prop up the economy of most third-world nations.

TV-Y7 – These programs are designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children.

Some programs designated TV-Y7 may contain some mild curse words such as “damn” and “hell”. So don’t be surprised if you ask your 8-year if he liked the ballgame and he responds, “I did, but that damn mascot scared the hell out of me!”

TV-Y7-FV – For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in this category.

Be prepared when your child is in tears over a collision at the plate and he doesn’t understand why the “monster” (the catcher) stopped the “nice man” (the runner) from going home.

TV-G – Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.

A good example of this type of show would be “Watching Paint Dry” but would eliminate just about any show that airs in the evening hours, including televised sports.

TV-PG – Parental Guidance Suggested- Now we are getting closer to baseball. This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following:
* Moderate violence – “Did you see the way he smacked that ball?”
* Some sexual situations – “Rick Benson’s wife, Anna, is at the game tonight.”
* Infrequent coarse language – “The batter has two balls on him.”
* Some suggestive dialogue – “The biggest question is `Will the Reds score tonight’?”

TV-14 – Parents Strongly Cautioned – If we play by these rules, here’s where I think baseball and professional sports should be rated. This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watching unattended. This program contains one or more of the following:
* Intense violence – football,
* Intense sexual situations – okay, football again,
* Strong coarse language – It’s time to discuss lip reading. Reputedly, it was Curt Schilling who is credited with starting the tradition of covering his face when speaking on the mound to his catcher. It seems to have begun in the 1993 World Series when catcher Darren Daulton suggested it. The purpose of this was to prevent spying eyes, on the field, or through the television lens, from reading the pitchers lips and getting an insight on strategy. Lip reading has become the bane of many parents existence as in this new high-def world. There is no misinterpreting the word of Schilling, or any pitcher, as they surrender an extra base hit and on replay we clearly see the pitcher mouth the word “Fu…dge!” Certainly in sparsely attended or quiet ballparks you can hear “Fu…dge” used quite frequently on the field, but more frequently off the field. Fenway fans are particularly vocal that the “Yankees su…nk!” Then again that’s less dangerous than Yankee Stadium fans who feel obliged to provide their least favorite players replacement batteries for their flashlights.
* Intensely suggestive dialogue – For example, Woody Allen, in his 1972 feature film Play It Again, Sam (Rated: PG), has just awakened in bed with Diane Keaton, and the following dialogue ensues:
She: What were you thinking about while we were doing it?
He: Willie Mays.
She: Do you always think of baseball players when you’re making love?
He: It keeps me going.
She: I wondered why you kept yelling, “Slide!”

TV-MA – Mature Audience Only – These programs are specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following:
* Graphic violence – Football
* Explicit sexual activity – Football
* Crude indecent language – “Two and Half Men” or maybe that’s just poor writing.

By the way, if you think I’m being on rough on sports with this rating, let me elaborate. First of all, while I have no trouble allowing a child to watch sports at any age, there are those who do. There are those people who are afraid of “language.” My parents taught me that the only bad words are the words that hurt people, meaning the derogatory words that many use to describe a race, religion or lifestyle. On the other hand, we should have an expectation that grown men, in pressure situations or relaxed situations or any situation they choose, will use obscenities as part of their vernacular. If you are uncomfortable with your child seeing, or hearing, the “Fu…dge!” word used by grown men or women, then I think you should reconsider professional sporting events as an option for your child to view or attend. Chances are you should keep your child away from most movies because even those that are rated G have parents attending who say to one another, “If I have to see one more fu…dging Pixar film, I’m going to fu…dging kill myself!”

Then again be very careful what you hear when attending a house of worship. I understanding there is a lot of coveting and smoting going on.

Top of the 2nd
Jose Contreras won his 15th straight decision last night absolutely dominating the Texas Rangers leading the Chicago White Sox to an 8-3 victory. Contreras struck out a career-high 11 without a walk and allowed three runs and six hits and threw 75 of his 108 pitches for strikes over eight innings. The Rangers scored all their runs in a four-batter span in the 5th inning.

Contreras (7-0), who hasn’t lost in the regular season since last Aug. 15, and tied the franchise record for consecutive wins set by LaMarr Hoyt (1983-84) and Wilson Alvarez (1993-94). Contreras’ streak is also the longest in the majors since Minnesota lefty Johan Santana won 17 decisions in a row from July 2004 to April 2005.

The White Sox won on the road for only the sixth time in 16 games, and are 15-14 overall away from Chicago. The World Champs had the best road record in the majors last season (52-29).

The Dodgers have been perhaps the most aggressive team pursuing Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano.

The Devil Rays are getting increasingly intrigued by the offers from the Angels, Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox and Rockies for left fielder Carl Crawford.

The Twins are shopping pitcher Kyle Lohse, who was demoted to the minors last month. Lohse is back with the Twins, but he is out of the rotation and in their bullpen until Ryan can find a taker. Lohse, who went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts at Class AAA Rochester after going 2-4 with an 8.92 ERA in eight starts with the Twins, is earning $3.95 million.

The Cardinals and Braves are both looking at first basemen/outfielders such as the Pirates’ Craig Wilson and Orioles’ Jeff Conine and Kevin Millar. They each go to bed saying a special prayer that these rumors come to pass.

“He’s retired. It’s a moot point,” Detroit Tigers closer Todd Jones said. “He didn’t test positive, but because he said he did, they’re going to suspend him?
“It’s kind of like giving a speeding ticket to a guy that got killed in a car wreck,” he said.

Top of the 3rd
Grady Sizemore is a Cleveland Indians sex symbol. “Mrs. Sizemore” shirts are worn by many of the city’s female (and male) fans and his bobbleheads are collector items. USA Today ran a feature on the “Sizemore Girls” and “Grady’s Ladies” two fan clubs hopelessly devoted to the Indians outfielder.

Last week, one of the founders of Grady’s Ladies was murdered by her boyfriend in Toledo. Michelle Mielecki was shot seven times and the boyfriend, Andrew Brown, then turned the gun on himself. Both were 21 and students at the University of Toledo.

A Cleveland television station said there may have been a link between Mielecki’s passion for Sizemore and the Indians and a jealous rage of the boyfriend, but Mielecki’s father denounced that report. And several outlets said Mielecki was planning to end her relationship with Brown, which could have triggered his explosion.

Top of the 4th
The love of baseball in Norway, Iowa will be soon on display in a new movie entitled, “The Final Season,” starring Sean Astin, Eliza Dushku, Tom Arnold, Powers Boothe, Tyler Hoechlin and Ian Michael Kintzle and directed by David Mickey Evans.

Norway is a town with a population of approximately 586. The1990 team, lead by Coach Jim Van Scoyoc, won its 19th State Championship in 23 years only to find at the end of the season, the powers that be, planned to merge Norway into a larger school, depriving it of its opportunity to win its 20th state championship. Because of petty jealousies, Van Scoyoc is fired and replaced with his 24-year-old, one-season assistant coach, Kent Stock, in a move designed to insure the team’s failure. You can figure out the rest for yourselves.

Former Norway player and Major League pitcher Mike Boddicker was eager to see his 14-year-old son, James, make his acting debut in “The Final Season.” Boddicker got the NCAA to approve James’ unpaid participation, but that created a problem because the Screen Actors Guild requires that all actors be paid. Sean Astin, the “Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings” star who plays Norway coach Kent Stock, volunteered to make a few phone calls and thanks to Astin’s efforts a last-minute deal was worked out in which James’ “payment” became a donation to SAG’s pension fund.

Boddicker told Astin if he pulled the deal off, Astin would get to wear Boddicker’s World Series and All-Star rings. True to his word, Boddicker sought out Astin who was ecstatic to become the Lord of the Baseball Rings, even if only for a few minutes.

They should make a movie about that.

Top of the 5th
To be listed among the batting leaders you must have a minimum of 3.1 plate appearances per game played. Nomar Garciaparra had a 12-game hitting streak broken Sunday, but his batting average is .358 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 44 games. He is the NL’s leading hitter, but because he missed the season’s first 17 games due to a strained muscle in his right side, he’s has 173 official at bats, 18 walks, and one sac fly giving him 192 plate appearances just 3 shy of being eligible to be listed among the league leaders.

Top of the 6th
Brad Penny is a thoroughbred race horse owner. His stable is made up of four horses, three of which he owns in partnership with several others, including prominent owner-breeder John Harris. ”I’ve always wanted horses, and I finally got a contract making a little money,” said Penny, whose salary is $4.5 million this season.

Penny’s most recent success on the track came May 5, when Excess Temptations won by 3-1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park. He had plenty of company in the winner’s circle, including his parents, trainer Howard Zucker, actor Jason Biggs (”American Pie”) and fellow Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, who happily cashed a winning ticket.

”Half the time I can’t watch I’m so nervous, so I just wait until that last stretch when Howard says, ‘OK, he’s all right, now look up,”’ Penny said.

He bought a one-third share of Excess Temptations for $50,000. The horse has earned $116,772 in three victories.

Penny’s other horses are Drastic Tactics, in the money each time she has run for the pitcher; Golden Playgirl, a 3-year-old filly yet to race; and Synnin and Grinnin, a 2-year-old that Penny bought at auction for $105,000 and is about a month away from making her racing debut in his silks, which resemble hunting camouflage. ”Even if they lose, I don’t care,” he said. ”When they’re done, I’ll take them to my ranch and they can stay there. I just love the horses. I just love animals.”

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 6/13/2006
On this date, these two pitchers each won their 300th game –

On this date in 1948, the New York Yankees retired babe Ruth’s number. They have retired every numbered jersey from 1 to 10 except for two active numbers. What numbers are still active?
Send your answers to

Bottom of the 7th
Happy birthday to Don’s son who was not as successful as his old man.

Who gave up Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series?
Pat Darcy of the Cincinnati Reds.

Top of the 8th
In 1960, Cubs owner Phillip K. Wrigley traded his manager, Charlie Grimm, to the Cubs’ flagship station, WGN, for radio announcer Lou Boudreau. At the end of the season, Wrigley traded Boudreau back to WGN for Grimm. Instead of reappointing Grimm as manager, Wrigley eliminated the position and installed a “College of Coaches,” of which Grimm was one.

Top of the 9th
We’re tracking Julio Franco’s career, year by year, using his teammates as a frame of reference.

In 1992, with the Rangers, Franco’s teammates included Jose Canseco, Dickie Thon, Jose Guzman, and Kenny Rogers.

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports,,, 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.