Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Top of the 1st
BASEBALL IS GETTING SO ODD, THAT I’M BEGINNING TO LOOK NORMAL
Hall of Famer Bob Feller marks the 70th anniversary of his big league debut today. I can’t imagine what he must be thinking. Baseball seems to be getting odder and more bizarre each day.
Not that I’m complaining mind you. I love it. First, it gives me plenty write about every day and secondly, it increases my opportunities for employment in baseball.
Back in the day, geniuses like Bill Veeck and Charles O. Finley were castigated for their ideas. Now, despite the buttoned down attitude of so many of the business running the game today, they would be lauded for their ability to think outside of the stadium. Although, I still think that while their fellow owners would be toasting Veeck and Finley with single malt scotch in private, they would still be ripping into them in public for all the “damage” they would be doing to the game’s sacred image.
I’ve been thinking about George Steinbrenner these past few days. A couple of days ago when the amazing Mariano Rivera notched his 400th career save, a trio of reporters waited patiently for George Steinbrenner to emerge from a stadium elevator to get a quote. But when Steinbrenner stepped from the elevator more than an hour after the final out, an overeager stadium security man shoved two reporters who attempted to get within earshot of the owner. Confronted after Steinbrenner was driven away from the stadium, the security man denied having shoved anyone.
In 34 seasons as principal owner, Steinbrenner has never been one to shy away from reporters. This season, however, stadium security personnel have tightened the circle around The Boss. There also was an incident in April in which security guards and New York City police officers shoved and attempted to prevent members of the media from speaking with Steinbrenner, who still offered a few words after questions were shouted at him.
Keith Olberman has known King George since Keith was a teenager. They have shared many of Keith’s life experiences. Recently Olberman saw Steinbrenner and George was introducing him to a colleague. George told the third party a number of stories about Olberman. Told him everything except Keith’s name, which he clearly couldn’t remember.
For 34 years, everybody has ripped Steinbrenner, just like Veeck and Finley, but each will leave the game better than he found it and each saw the future while the rest of baseball was looking askance.
So today we salute the odd – we salute the fact that Bobby Abreau has more walks than Barry B*nds.
We salute the fact that Joe Mauer, a catcher, leads the AL in batting.
We salute Phillies bullpen coach Ramon Hernandez who was the pitcher for both Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard the winners of the past two home run derbies at the All-Star Game.
We salute Dick Nen and Toby Harrah both of whom have last names that are palindromes. Mark Salas, Robb Nen, Eddie Kazak, Johnny Reder, Dave Otto, and
Truck Hannah, too. And don’t forget play-by-play guy Dewayne Staats.
We salute the odd only because it makes us feel normal.
Top of the 2nd
THE BRAVES ARE SWINGERS
The Braves have scored a total of 65 runs in their past five games, the highest five-game total since the Red Sox plated 66 runs over five games in June 1950. Atlanta is the first team since the 1930 Yankees to score 10 or more runs in five consecutive games. The Cubs also recorded a five-game streak in 1930.
Then there is the fact that Liberty Media’s bid to buy the Atlanta Braves is facing new opposition from pro-family advocates because Liberty owns On Command, which sells adult movies in hotel rooms across the nation. According to its Web site, On Command sells movies in about 890,000 rooms in 3,300 hotel properties.
Top of the 3rd
THE BUCK DOESN’T STOP HERE
Buck O’Neil, the 94-year-old Negro leagues veteran, became the oldest man to play in a professional game, a week after 83-year-old Jim Eriotes set the record in Sioux Falls, S.D. O’Neil came to bat twice in the Northern League All-Star Game in Kansas City, Mo. O’Neil walked on four pitches, including one that almost hit him in the head, to start the game. O’Neil ambled to first base, then took a lead off the bag as if he were going to stay in the game before being pulled for a pinch runner.
After the top of the inning, Kansas City T-Bones owner John Ehlert announced that a trade had been brokered to bring O’Neil to the T-Bones, allowing him to also lead off the bottom of the inning as well.
In his second at-bat, O’Neil took three balls – all of them high and greeted with a chorus of boos from the crowd – before swinging at a pitch and almost spinning off his feet. Possibly lost in the novelty of the inning, the umpire gave him two more balls before sending him down to first base with his second walk of the night.
O’Neil said the last time he had played in a game was 1955. Asked if he remembered who he was facing in that last at-bat, he replied: “I don’t remember yesterday and you ask me who the pitcher was in 1955?”
Top of the 4th
YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH?
A TV advertisement for a faith healer’s event showing Mets third baseman David Wright has been pulled from the air, the team said. The ad, which aired during the Mets’ broadcast Saturday, was made without the team’s permission and through the misuse of a press credential, the club said in a news release. The man who put together the ad was credentialed to do TV and radio reports and was not authorized to use the Mets’ logo in a commercial, a spokesman for the team said yesterday. Wright was approached at Shea Stadium and thought it was cleared by the organization.
In the ad, Wright invites the viewers to attend the “Salvation Miracles Revival Crusade” with Dr. Jaerock Lee at Madison Square Garden this month. “I believed that I was accommodating an agency which had been authorized by the Mets,” Wright said in the release. “Religion is purely a private matter and I would never endorse one religion over another. For anyone who was offended by the commercial please accept my sincerest apology.”
In the ad you can see footage of a man holding two crutches aloft, as if they were suddenly rendered needless by the Rev. Dr. Lee’s astonishing healing powers. And then an elderly woman walks across a stage, her abandoned wheelchair in the background.
If they really wanted to impress, they would have shown Mark Prior and Kerry Wood pitching.
Top of the 5th
IT’S THE BALM
Back in his days as a rodeo cowboy, Stan Johnston, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ head athletic trainer, mixed some items in his medicine chest and came up with a balm that helped heal the burns and blisters on his hands from riding bulls and roping steers. He kept the recipe, and now Stan’s Rodeo Ointment mends professional athletes.
Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe, whose blisters would cause him to throw blood-stained baseballs when he was with the Boston Red Sox, says the black, tarry goo solved his chronic problem. “It saved me from just having to make it through a game,” Lowe, 33, said. “Now talent can dictate a game again, not how long you can hold on and endure the pain.”
Johnston began using the substance on baseball players when he joined the Dodgers as a trainer in the team’s minor-league system in 1985. As players moved to other organizations, word spread. The Florida Marlins ordered the ointment to help pitcher Josh Beckett combat nagging blisters. Beckett, who was traded to the Red Sox before this season, has been on the disabled list nine times in his six-year career, mostly because of blisters. Beckett said he kept one tube with Red Sox trainers and another at home or the team’s hotel.
Johnston, who was a National League trainer at Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on Tuesday, has applied for a patent on his potion — a combination of Polymyxin B Sulfate, Bacitracin Zinc and Povidone Iodine. He says he is aiming to convince a pharmaceutical company to sell it as an over-the-counter medication. For now, he has it made by SportPharm, a pharmacy based in Torrance, Calif., that supplies sports teams. It costs $35 for a one-ounce tube.
Top of the 6th
THE INJECTOR WINS HR DERBY
Jose C*nsec* retired only one batter last night while giving up four runs in the first All-Star Game in the independent Golden Baseball League. But “The Injector” advanced to the two-man HR Derby final by hitting five homers to left field, including three shots that soared over the lights similar to the tape-measure blasts he was known for in his prime in the majors. C*nsec* then edged Scott Goodman of the San Diego Surf Dawgs 4-3 in the final, hitting one shot over the scoreboard to win the title and a $250 cash prize.
“I’m going to take these guys out and get them drunk,” motioning toward his teammates on the South team. “I’m going to buy about 400 gallons of beer.”
Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 7/19/2006
Happy birthday to the 1945 NL batting champ
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 7/19/2006
Who stole 558 career bases and was among the top 10 in steals 13 times between 1981-97 but he never led the league (though he did lead in triples four times)?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com
Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 7/18/06
Happy Birthday to the 1971 NL batting champ.
ROOT? JEER? – JOE TORRE
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 7/18/06
Name the three players who have hit 50 home runs in a season and fewer than 300 for a career.
Brady Anderson, Roger Maris and Hack Wilson
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
According to “Uncle John’s Extraordinary Book of Facts and Bizarre Information,” Chicago sportswriter Charles Seymour coined the term “southpaw” in the late 1890s, when most baseball parks were laid out so that pitchers would face west and batters would face east (so the sun wouldn’t shine in their eyes). That meant that left-handed pitchers threw with the arm that faced south.
Top of the 9th
Jon Lester allowed one hit over eight innings and Jonathan Papelbon retired the side in order in the ninth in the Red Sox’s 1-0 win over the Royals. It was only the fourth time in the past 20 years that a rookie starter and a rookie reliever earned the win and the save in a 1-0 victory. The others to do so were Gary Knotts and Franklyn German (2003 Tigers), Tony Armas and Scott Strickland (2000 Expos), and Erik Hanson and Mike Schooler (1988 Mariners).
Two of baseball’s best young southpaws, Francisco Liriano and Scott Kazmir, faced off in the Twins’ 8-1 victory over the Devil Rays. It was the first time in 80 years that two left-handers both 22 or younger and with at least 10 wins for the season went head to head. The last time: Babe Ruth (Red Sox) vs. Harry Harper (Senators) on Aug. 12, 1916.
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.