Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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The only spin here is on a curveball
Friday, June 02, 2006
Top of the 1st
Well, you have to hand it to Roger Clemens, he is clearly now the king of kings, the capo di capo. His ability to single-handedly hold five teams (Astros, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Brockton Rox) at bay as they awaited his end of May decision is unprecedented in the history of baseball and maybe in professional sports.
By the way, I’m not condemning him. I don’t see anything wrong with the way he handled the situation and if he puts his arm where he puts his money which has to be headed towards the direction of his mouth is placed (or something like that), we can experience this again next year.
We often see a “rent-a-player” (not to be confused with Renteria) spend a season with one club before moving on to another, well Roger just shortened the time span. Think about those guys that teams trade for in September in order to make the post-season, they are all short-termers as well. The difference here is that Roger made a conscious to shorten his season and perhaps increase his effectiveness for later in the year. If this works, maybe teams will sign players on a month to month basis and keep turning over their teams as the need necessitates, just like in fantasy baseball.
In the meantime, the process of signing Clemens became a spectacular road show. The Texas Rangers invited Roger to everything they could think of in order to make him feel at home. From Opening Day, to a commencement, to a bris. The Yankees were more subtle with Steinbrenner, Torre, and Cashman appealing to Yankee pride and cash, man. Then in what can only be viewed as the Bygones Tour. The Red Sox did everything but send Clemens the head of Dan Duquette on a silver platter as they tried to put the ugliness of their separation behind them. “That was certainly part of what we were trying to accomplish,” said Sox owner John Henry. The other thing they were trying to accomplish was avoiding the embarrassment of sending out a sacrificial lamb (Jane Pauley) in the number five slot in their rotation.
“Although we are disappointed that Roger Clemens will not be joining the Red Sox, we are glad that we went through the process and reconnected as an organization with Roger,” the Sox said in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck with Houston and in the National League. When Roger’s career does come to an end, we will welcome him to Fenway and we will forever consider him to be a legendary and beloved member of the Red Sox.” In other words, if the Astros fall from the race, beg them to trade you here because otherwise we’ll all be doing nothing in October.
So, what’s next for Clemenspalooza? Next Tuesday, Clemens will start for the Single A Lexington Legends and his son Koby, who has missed the last several weeks with a broken finger, will return to the minor league lineup as the third baseman.
Barring any setbacks, his Lexington appearance will be followed by one June 11 at Double-A Corpus Christi and another June 16 at Triple-A Round Rock, both teams owned by Nolan Ryan. Then after that, Clemens makes some appearances with Taylor Hicks and the “American Idol” runners-up before starting for the Astros, June 22 against the Twins.
At that point we get to enjoy Clemens and his circus a little bit more. I personally don’t mind the deal he signed ($22,000,022 pro-rated contract) nor do I care that he put all the franchises through a dog and pony show. I found it very entertaining. I don’t even care that he chose an easy commute (I-10 from his home in Katy, Texas, straight to downtown Houston, left on Texas, left on Crawford to Minute Maid Park). Hell, I don’t like to leave my house. My feeling towards those who think he was duplicitous when he said it was about winning and then he joined the Astros is that Houston has the same chance of reaching the promised land as the other three teams in contention. Plus, Clemens has always been duplicitous so why should anyone be bothered by it now?
There have always been loads of reasons to hold Clemens in disdain, but there have always been reasons to appreciate his talent and the entertainment that he brought to the game. So, at the point in the Clemenspalooza tour I’m taking the same attitude of Alan Stein, president and CEO of the Legends, who said he ordered a Legends’ jersey with Clemens’ size and his No. 22 on the off chance he wound up rehabbing in Lexington.
“This may be the mother of all rehabs,” Stein said. “It’s pretty dadgum exciting.”
Top of the 2nd
ONE MO INJURY FOR THE YANKEES
Gary Sheffield is back on sheff. Sheffield had been bothered by a wrist injury since an April collision with Toronto’s Shea Hillenbrand, and he aggravated it earlier this week.
Tests showed a torn ligament in the wrist, as well as a tendon that continues to dislocate. He will be placed in a splint and undergo physical therapy. “Surgery is not recommended at this time,” general manager Brian Cashman said during the game. “But if therapy doesn’t work, it isn’t out of the question. It’s a serious injury.” Sheffield was on the 15-day disabled list from May 6-23 with the same injury.
In spite of Sheffield’s inactivity, the Yanks have done pretty well and were, in fact, on the verge of completing a four game sweep of the Tigers, the team with the best record in baseball, carrying a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the 9th. That’s called “Mariano time.”
The only trouble is that Mariano Rivera hurt his back while getting dressed before the game against the Tigers. “He had one shoe on, and when he went to put the left shoe on, something spasmed,” manager Joe Torre said before the game. “It’s something new every day.” Without Rivera, the Yankees lost 7-6 when replacement closer Kyle Farnsworth allowed two runs.
“We do take Mo for granted,” Torre said. “That’s not taking anything away from Farnsy, but that’s not his job. He’s a setup man.” Farnsworth is 1-for-4 in save situations.
Rivera, said he hoped to be ready for Friday night’s series opener in Baltimore, but Torre wasn’t hopeful. “The way he’s walking around, I don’t think it is going to change too quickly,” he said. “He’s pretty uncomfortable.”
Top of the 3rd
THE BREWERS STOP HERE
The Pirates Jose Castillo was on his way to the clubhouse, celebrating not only a game-winning home run but a streak of six consecutive games with a homer when the umpires took away Castillo’s apparent homer and called both teams back onto the field, and the Pirates finished off a four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a bizarre 4-3 victory.
The Pirates trailed 3-2 entering the ninth, but Jeromy Burnitz doubled off Brewers closer Derrick Turnbow (2-2). One batter later, Castillo hit a long drive that bounced off the padding atop the right field wall and was first called a home run. “It was fun celebrating,” Burnitz said. “But once I saw their guys emphatically running in, I knew there was a chance we might have to replay it.”
After conferring behind second base, the umpires decided Castillo’s drive did not clear the wall and put him back at second — after some Pirates had headed to the clubhouse and fireworks were shot off. Brewers manager Ned Yost argued Castillo stopped at first and should have been put there, though Castillo was seen running the bases and touching home following the initial wave of confusion. “My argument was why did he get second base?” Yost said. “Nobody saw him stop at first.”
After things simmered down, Ryan Doumit then worked the count to 3-1 before grounding a ball down the right-field line, scoring Castillo easily and allowing the Pirates to celebrate a second time and sweep the Brewers.
The Pirates, trying to play catchup after losing 33 of their first 47, outscored Milwaukee 36-8 while sweeping the series. They had scored 63 runs while winning five of their previous seven, scoring 12 runs or more three times.
The Pirates had played 77 consecutive series of three or more games without sweeping their opponent, equaling the franchise mark set from 1950 to 1953. It was the longest streak in the majors since the Royals had a run of 99 series (three or more games) without a sweep that ended in 1998.
Top of the 4th
Barry Zito allowed four hits and nary a run over seven innings in the Oakland Athletics’ 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Frank Thomas hit his 460th career homer in the 2nd inning, while Mark Kotsay (100th of his career) and Dan Johnson also connected in the A’s second consecutive shutout victory after losing 10 of their previous 11 games.
There are a few neat things about this game. First of all, you could have parked at a meter, not at a lot because the game lasted a mere 117 minutes. Next, Zito faced Boof Bonser. How can you not root for someone named Boof Bonser?
Bonser (1-1), in 7 innings, yielded five hits and struck out five. In his 200th career start, Zito struck out five including the 1,000th strikeout of his career.
The Twins were inept offensively, failing to get a runner to third base in their seventh shutout loss of the season. Joe Mauer collected two of the Twins’ five hits, improving his average to .511 during his 11-game hitting streak.
Thomas has 46 career homers against Minnesota, more than any player except Reggie Jackson (51).
Neither team’s pitchers issued a walk in the A’s 4-0 win over the Twins on Thursday night. That in itself isn’t unusual; there were six other such games already this season. But what made this one rare was the home plate umpire, Jerry Crawford, who hadn’t been behind the plate for a walkless game since 1992 — a span of 408 games in which at least one batter drew a base on balls.
The last time Crawford umpired the plate in such a game, he had help from Cardinals starter Bob Tewksbury, who had nearly as many wins (16) as he had walks (20) in 1992.
Top of the 5th
MINOR LEAGUE HOME RUN LEADERS
Scott Seabol Albuquerque (Marlins) 3B 16 .349
Nelson Cruz Nashville (Brewers) OF 13 .288
Luke Scott Round Rock (Houston) OF 13 .265
Jon Knott Portland (Padres) OF 13 .229
Kevin Witt Durham (D-Rays) 3B 13 .306
Top of the 6th
JOHN DEWAN’S STAT OF THE WEEK
May 31, 2006
The lowest RBI total for a regular player during a season is 12 shared by two players. Enzo Hernandez had 12 RBI in his rookie season for the Padres in 1971, and the aptly nicknamed Goat Anderson managed just 12 ribbies for the Pirates during his ONLY season in major league baseball in 1907.
However, Enzo takes the title by having the fewest RBI with the most at bats. His RBI percentage (12 RBI in 549 at bats) is only 2.19% while Goat managed a resounding 2.91% in his 413 at bats. Goat had 80 walks which allowed him to surpass our 501 plate appearance qualification to make the list.
No regular has ever been below two percent in RBI percentage. Until maybe this year. Juan Pierre of the Cubs doubled his RBI total for the season this past weekend after going 45 consecutive games (over a month and a half!) without a ribbie. That brought him up to four RBI in all. His RBI percentage now stands at 1.88%. Here are the “leaders” for this season:
Name RBI AB RBI%
1 Juan Pierre, Cubs 4 213 1.88%
2 Cory Sullivan, Rockies 8 180 4.44%
3 Aaron Miles, Cardinals 6 125 4.80%
4 Ryan Freel, Reds 7 139 5.04%
5 Nate McLouth, Pirates 7 125 5.60%
(minimum 100 at bats)
Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 6/2/2006
Happy birthday to the man who unfairly symbolized Yankee ineptitude in the early `70’s.
HACK OR CEREAL
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 6/2/2006
Bob Uecker, who has been the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio play-by-play announcer since 1970, was a catcher for four teams in six major league seasons in the 1960s. He often speaks of his incompetence as a player; what was his lifetime batting average?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com
Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 6/2/06
This birthday boy was a Cubs catcher who fathered another Cubs catcher.
HELD RUNNY DAY – RANDY HUNDLEY
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 6/2/06
Who said: “Hello everybody, and welcome to Two Rivers Stadium”?
Former San Francisco Giants play-by-play broadcaster Hank Greenwald, after he was asked to shorten his pre-game talk at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
On Feb. 1, 1985, the Cardinals sent SS Jose Gonzales to the Giants in a package that included Dave LaPoint and Dave Green. After the swap, Gonzalez traded his old last name for his mother’s maiden name, thereby becoming Jose “Uribe.” Giants coach Rocky Bridges aptly noted, “Jose Uribe really is the player to be named later.”
Top of the 9th
JULIO FRANCO’S TEAMMATES
We’re tracking Julio Franco’s career year by year using his teammates as a frame of reference.
In 1985, with the Indians, Franco’s teammates included Andre Thornton, Neal Heaton, Vern Ruhle, and Tony Bernazard.
Have a great weekend everyone!
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.