Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-6-16

6/16/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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This Sunday, have a happy Father’s Day!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Top of the 1st
THIS AND THAT
John Wetteland was removed as the Washington Nationals’ bullpen coach yesterday and offered another job with the team because of what Manager Frank Robinson said were “philosophy differences.” It appears that Robinson, like John Start Mill is a radical empiricist who holds that all human knowledge, including even mathematics and logic, is derived by generalization from sensory experience. Wetteland, on the other hand, supports the viewpoints of Immanuel Kant that the possibility of human knowledge presupposes the active participation of the human mind.

San Diego fired Dave Magadan as its hitting coach. Their philosophy was simple, we have the worst team batting average in the N.L. and we can’t fire all the hitters, so Magadan has to go.

Boston sent mediocre right-hander David Riske to the Chicago White Sox for mediocre left-hander Javier Lopez, who had been pitching in the minors, in a trade of relievers. But there’s more to this story of two pitchers who are changing their Sox. Riske will take the place of rookie right-hander Sean Tracey who the White Sox optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. ChiSox manager Ozzie Guillen said the demotion had nothing to do with the pitcher’s outing against Texas on Wednesday night. Guillen yelled at Tracey in the White Sox dugout, apparently because Tracey failed to hit Texas’ Hank Blalock in retaliation for the two times Rangers starter Vicente Padilla drilled Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski during the game. Tracey faced only Blalock before Guillen removed him from the game. TV cameras caught Guillen in the dugout throwing down a water bottle in disgust and shouting at Tracey, who was so upset that he pulled his uniform top over his head.

New York Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson was suspended five games by the commissioner’s office yesterday for intentionally throwing at Eduardo Perez of the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. Johnson threw way inside to Perez after both benches had been warned by umpires when Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and Cleveland starter Jason Johnson exchanged words after Posada was hit by a pitch. Johnson is expected to appeal the penalty, allowing him to make his next scheduled start Monday in Philadelphia.

New York manager Joe Torre was suspended for one game and since there is no appeal process available for Torre, who will serve his suspension tonight in Washington. Bench coach Lee Mazzilli will manage the Yankees while Torre will watch with his uniform top over his head.

Dodgers manager Grady Little said former Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list for the first time this season in about a week, will back up second baseman Jeff Kent and shortstop Rafael Furcal. Fantasy managers are beside themselves trying to figure out the ramifications.

As expected, Dodgers closer Eric Gagne was placed on the 15- day DL, retroactive to last Wednesday. It seems he missed his physical therapist.

Last night, Dodgers starting pitcher Chad Billingsley was hit by a pitch in his first time major league at bat. The last major-league pitcher to get hit with a pitch in his first career plate appearance was Pittsburgh’s Brett Gideon in August 1987. In Gideon’s only other at bat in 29 major league games, he singled and drove home two runs. Last night, in Billingsley next at bat, he hit a two-run single. How about that? (That was my Mel Allen imitation).

The S.I. curse lives! David Ortiz is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and last night “Big Papi” hit a big pop-up that was headed to the stands for a homer. Unfortunately, Ortiz’ drive hit a speaker at the Metrodome and dropped for a single. First base coach Bill Haselman, consoled the frustrated Ortiz by reminding him that if they catch the ball off the speaker, you’re out. Holy cow! (That was my Harry Carey imitation).

Winning or losing, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are an exciting team and should build their fan base. They are still overcoming the illogic of previous owner Vince Naimoli who urged ushers to ask noisy fans to quiet down.

Speaking of the Rays, tonight’s starting pitcher is James Shields who spends his offseasons in Las Vegas, where he and first cousin Aaron Rowand are workout buddies.
In his fourth major-league start, Shields (2-0) will get the chance today to pitch against the Phillies’ center fielder. The Rays will play their first game today at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004. Tampa Bay is 6-22 when playing at a ballpark for the first time. After today, there will be four ballparks the Rays have yet to lose in: Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Dodger Stadium, the new Busch Stadium and RFK Stadium in Washington. The Rays play their first game in Washington on June 30.

If the Angels do trade Ervin Santana to Tampa Bay for outfielder Carl Crawford, as rumored, I want to go on record as saying that next season, the Rays make the playoffs.

As we wait for Roger Clemens to complete his minor league roadshow, note that the most wins ever by a pitcher who made his first appearance of the season after June 1 came from 22-year-old Dwight Gooden, who went 15-7 for the 1987 New York Mets.

The Mets’ Carlos Delgado had 16 RBI and Carlos Beltran had 15 RBI on their 10 game road trip. In the past 10 years only two other teammates each had 15-plus RBI on a single road trip: Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock for Texas in 2004; Tony Batista and Raul Mondesi for Toronto in 2000. Meanwhile, Florida’s Miguel Cabrera hasn’t had an RBI in 13 straight games.

Here’s another Roger nugget – Clemens was the best pitcher for Team USA at the World Baseball Championships in March. He started twice, went 82/3 innings with seven hits allowed, 10 strikeouts and no walks. His ERA (2.08) and walks and hits to innings pitched ratio (0.81) were both better than the national team’s other starters, San Diego’s Jake Peavy (3.38, 0.88) and Florida’s Dontrelle Willis (12.71, 2.82).

I was thinking about Juan Pierre who set a career mark with four stolen bases yesterday in the Chicago Cubs in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros. Pierre has 24 stolen bases. Pierre has been a leadoff albatross who, in spite of the fact that he has hit in 21 of his last 28 games, and reached safely in 25 of those games, has a batting average of .245 and has an on-base percentage of .290. Maybe the Cubs should try to get Corey Patterson from the Orioles, who’s hitting .289, with 27 stolen bases, and an OBP of .337.

Bill Gates plans to withdraw from day-to-day duties at Microsoft, so he can focus on his charitable foundation while others run the company he co-founded and guided to industry dominance and vast personal wealth. I would like remind Mr. Gates, as he looks at various non-profits, that Billy-Ball has never made a profit, but uses Microsoft Word every day.

Top of the 2nd
SWEPT
David Wright hit a three-run homer and the Mets won their eighth straight game, sweeping the fading Phillies, 5-4. Wright has hit a home run in three consecutive games and is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak. He .335 average ranks fifth in the National League. Steve Trachsel pitched six effective innings and the NL East-leading Mets (42-23) extended their lead to 9