Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-9-15

9/15/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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26 days until the start of the World Series

Friday, September 15, 2006

Top of the 1st
THE MAGIC AND THE MYTH
There are magic numbers in baseball and there are also numbers that are simply myths. DiMaggio’s 56 is magic, so is Maris’ 61 but the Boston Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin has brought up a number that is simply a myth.

Gordon Edes in the Boston Globe reports that Timlin who will turn 41 during spring training next season (March 10) said he would like to pitch in 2007, “I want to get to 1,000 games,” Timlin said. “Forty-six to go.” (now 45 after his appearance last night).

Timlin has 954 appearances, and would like to become the 11th pitcher in modern baseball history to appear in 1,000 games. Jesse Orosco, who pitched until he was 46, holds the big-league record with 1,252 appearances. Dennis Eckersley, who ended his career with the Red Sox was third on that list with 1,071 until former Sox lefthander Mike Stanton, who had 78 appearances for Washington and San Francisco entering play last night, blew by him and was at 1,105.

Well, Mike, who really cares what you want. I would like to go to the mailbox today and see a check in my name for $10,000 but that’s not going to happen either. Timlin should be hoping he starts pitching well enough to be deserving of an invitation to spring training next season. Since coming off the disabled list June 13, Timlin has an ERA of 6.16.

Timlin’s strikeouts per nine innings are at a career low, 4.13 (6.61 last season), as he has whiffed just 27 batters compared with 59 last season. And the sinkerballer isn’t getting the ground balls he used to: He has recorded 80 ground ball outs to 83 fly ball outs, a ratio of 0.96, compared with 363 ground balls and 235 fly balls in his previous three seasons with the Sox, a 1.54 ratio. He has also given up seven home runs this season compared with two last year.

What enables Timlin to even consider that he deserves the mythical magic number of 1000? This self-absorption is simply irritating. Sometimes circumstances prevent the achievement of a round number.

Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff each ended their careers with 493 homers. Andres Gallaraga and Al Kaline each had 399 and Dale Murphy had 398. Bert Blyleven wouldn’t be sitting by the phone disappointed each year that he is not selected to the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t ended his career with “just” 287 wins.

I bet Billy Pierce would have loved one more strikeout so that he could have ended his career with 2,000 and not 1,999. And I think Mickey Vernon would have liked five more hits so that he didn’t end with 2, 495.

I know for a fact that it always irked Henry Aaron that he ended up tied with the Babe with 2,174 runs scored. Stan Musial scored 1,949 and I’m sure he would have loved to hit 2,000.

But most of those numbers meant something. For Timlin reaching his goal will only be proof that a slightly better than average middle reliever can appear in a lot of games if he stays around long enough.

Timlin’s true magic number is 3,023,894, that’s the number of dollars he is making this season and if he cares so much about hitting the 1,000 game mark he should accept the league minimum with incentives next season in the hope that he achieves his goal.

Top of the 2nd
REAL MAGIC NUMBERS
The Yankees magic number to eliminate the Blue Jays is 4 and the red Sox is 6.
The Tigers magic number to eliminate the White Sox is 14 and the Twins is 16
The A’s magic number to eliminate the Mariners is 3, the Rangers is 7, and the Angels is 12.
The Mets magic number to eliminate the Phils is 1.
The Cardinals magic number to eliminate the Brewers is 6 and the Reds and the Astros is 12.
The Dodgers magic number to eliminate the Rockies is 8, the D-Backs is 9, the Giants is 14, and the Padres is 17.

Top of the 3rd
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WIN TO HAVE FUN
The annual road hazing ritual of dressing up the rookies in wacky clothing on the way to the airport happened to fall on Delmon Young’s 21st birthday. Before the game yesterday, before he knew he, and the other Devil Ray rookies, would leave Yankee Stadium dressed in something a little less orthodox than a suit and tie.

When the Tampa Bay rookies — a group that included rookie manager Joe Maddon, rookie bench coach Bill Evers and rookie trainer Paul Harker — arrived back inside the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, they found their clothes missing and replaced by different outfits.

Maddon and Evers got off light with slacks, shirts and coats that would have made NBC’s Earl look fashionable, while 13 rookie players weren’t so lucky — they were suited in drag.

Among the more fashionable were Ruddy Lugo and Edwin Jackson, who were dressed to look like Tinkerbell. Juan Salas had on a French maid’s outfit, Delmon Young dressed like a nurse, James Shields a police woman complete with handcuffs and Ben Zobrist a preppie school girl.

Among the more amusing comments heard was that of Jason Hammel, who wore a short dress decorated with the likeness of a $100 bill. When the right-hander slipped into the dress, he said: “Does anyone want to zip me up?”

Top of the 4th
HIT THE SWITCH
Lance Berkman has reached 40 homers for the second time in his career. He and Mickey Mantle, who did it four times, are the only switch-hitters to hit 40 homers twice.

Top of the 5th
MEDICAL REPORTS (NOT MINE)
Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins are relieved, yet mystified over the rookie left-hander’s latest test results. “The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said yesterday. “He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage … Now we have to find out why he’s having pain.”

Ryan said the Twins will take an ultra-conservative approach with Liriano, who made only 28 pitches Wednesday against Oakland in his first start in more than a month — then walked off the mound, saying he heard a pop in his elbow. Liriano is done for the season, even if the Twins make the playoffs.

A degenerative hip condition afflicting Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen is not believed to be career-ending but will require surgery in upcoming weeks. Either today or Saturday, Isringhausen will try to determine his availability for the rest of this season by performing a bullpen session prior to a game against the San Francisco Giants. Feedback probably will determine if he waits until next month for the procedure or cuts short his year to seek immediate help.

“I don’t want to quit on my team,” said Isringhausen, who owns 249 career saves, including 33 in 43 opportunities this season. “I like being part of it. I want to end up as part of it. But my hips don’t lie.”

The Braves are running an insurance scam with Chipper Jones. The third baseman was placed on the 15-day disabled list last night so their insurance company will pay a portion of his $13.6 million salary. Jones hasn’t played since sustaining another strain to his oblique muscle on his left side Sept. 3. The move was made retroactive to Sept. 4. General manager John Schuerholz insisted the 1999 NL MVP could return early next week.

The Red Sox are preparing for a weekend against the Yankees without Manny Ramirez, who missed a fourth consecutive game with a sore right knee. However, there is a chance that the Boston slugger might not return on Monday, or any day after that. The Boston Globe is reporting that Red Sox manager Terry Francona met behind closed doors with the left fielder later in the day on Thursday, and Francona said “there’s a chance” that Ramirez, who has been diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in his right knee, will not play for the rest of the season.”As much as we don’t want to hear it, rest is probably what he needs,” Francona told the Boston Globe.

Ramirez reportedly missed one game earlier this month to dispute the official scorer’s decision that Pluto was no longer a planet.

Finally, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is recovering from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Prior to having the surgery, Rummy asked for a second opinion and was told “he was an assh*le too.”

Top of the 6th
LUIS IS GONZO
The Arizona Diamondbacks told left fielder Luis Gonzalez, 39, perhaps the most popular player in the nine-year history of the franchise that they will not bring him back next season. The club had not been expected to exercise its $10 million option on Gonzalez for 2007. But Gonzalez had said he would be open to discussing a new deal that would allow him to return for a ninth season in Arizona.

“Obviously, this is a very difficult day for the organization,” general manager Josh Byrnes said during a news conference yesterday. “Gonzo’s done about everything you can in this market as a player and as a person.

“Change isn’t easy, but we feel very good about the cast that will continue to wear the uniform.”

Byrnes, managing partner Jeff Moorad and assistant general manager Peter Woodfork informed Gonzalez and his representatives of the club’s decision during a breakfast meeting. Moorad used to be Gonzalez’s agent, and he negotiated the player’s current contract.

Byrnes said Eric Byrnes, who has played center field this year, would become the team’s everyday left fielder next season. Chris Young, who was recently promoted from Triple-A Tucson, will take over in center. Another rookie, Carlos Quentin, is penciled in for right field.

“I want to stay here,” Gonzalez said this week. “There’s no secret about that. I don’t have any control over it.”

The Diamondbacks acquired Gonzalez from Detroit after their debut season in 1998, and he went on to become the franchise leader in every major batting category. Gonzalez also produced the most memorable moment in team history — the bloop single off New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 7 that drove in the winning run in the 2001 World Series.

Top of the 7th
HARD TO BE PREFECT
Freddy Garcia of the Chicago White Sox set down the first 23 Angels batters before allowing a line-drive single to Adam Kennedy with two out in the bottom of the 8th
as the ChiSox defeated the Angels 9-0. Garcia (14-9) had three strikeouts in eight innings and Neal Cotts pitched the ninth to complete the one-hit shutout.

At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Ben Sheets gave up a base hit to Chris Duffy leading off the seventh, ending his bid for a perfect game in a 2-1 Milwaukee win. Sheets (5-6) allowed two hits and a run, while striking out 10, in eight innings, and Francisco Cordero pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save.

It was only the second time in the last 15 years that two pitchers carried perfectos to the seventh inning on the same day. Shawn Estes and Odalis Perez did it in 2002.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Separated by just a half-game in the National League West Division, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres open a crucial four-game series tonight. David Wells (0-0, 4.89 ERA), whom San Diego acquired from the Boston Red Sox on August 31, starts for the Padres. After a sharp debut against the Cincinnati Reds on September 3, the lefthander surrendered four runs and seven hits in five innings at San Francisco on Saturday. The Dodgers counter with Greg Maddux (12-13, 4.38), who has been solid since he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. The righthander is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA as a Dodger, but has lost his last two starts. In those two starts, against the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets, Maddux has a 7.59 ERA in 10 2/3 innings.
Maddux has had success against the Padres in his career, going 23-15 with a 3.07 ERA in 43 starts.

Top of the 9th
STILL TRYING
I’m still trying to get back to Billy-Ball full-time but unfortunately the knee is still problematic. All your words of encouragement and support are greatly appreciated.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Go Rox!

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.