Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-10-19

10/19/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Happy birthday, Sandy Alomar

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Top of the 1st
SEVENTH HEAVEN
I love Game 7.

Just the thought of a Game 7 gets my heart racing and my artificial knee flexing and extending.

There is a beauty to knowing that through the playing of the game, a winner will be determined…tonight.

Unlike hockey and soccer, with their pitiful shootouts, the game will determine the winner, not some inane gimmick.

Unlike football and basketball, the tempo of the game, the determination of tonight’s game will be determined by the action on the field, not by a clock.

We have a Game 7 tonight between the St. Cardinals, winners of a meager 83 games during the regular season and the New York Mets, who tonight will have Oliver Twist on the mound to determine who will face the Tigers Saturday night in Game 1 of the World Series.

Jeff Suppan goes for the Cardinals tonight. Suppan has been there and done that. Suppan, beat Houston’s Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS and tossed eight shutout innings of three-hit ball Saturday night against the Mets. Suppan, was the team’s second-most reliable starter with 12 victories (right after Chris Carpenter who the Mets beat last night), and had a 2.34 ERA after the All-Star break.

The question was who would pitch for the depleted Mets. This is the game that Mets planned all season long for Pedro Martinez to start. But Pedro has already had rotator cuff surgery this month and will be lucky if he makes an appearance next season. This was the game that the Mets acquired Orlando Hernandez to pitch, but “El Duque” tore a calf muscle before he even had a taste of post-season action this year. This would be a game that the Mets would want the veteran Steve Trachsel to pitch, but Trachsel was clobbered in his only start against the Cardinals and had he been a horse after he received a liner off his thigh, he would have been put down on the field.

So manager Willie Randolph was left with his choice of Olivers – Oliver Perez, Darren Oliver, Oliver Hardy or Oliver North.

When asked his choice and why, Randolph responded, “Oliver Perez is pitching, and because I like him,” the manager said.

You might recall that in Charles Dickens’s classic “Oliver Twist” he wrote of an orphan who runs away from the orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor. The orphanage in this case was the Pittsburgh Pirates locker room (known for serving their players gruel). Perez was acquired from Pittsburgh at the July 31 trade deadline and became only the second major league pitcher to finish 10 games under .500 and start a postseason game. In case you don’t know, the lefty went 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA this year. And, he’ll be pitching on only three days’ rest. The 25-year-old won Game 4 Sunday night when he lasted 5 2-3 innings, giving up five runs and nine hits with one walk in his first outing since Oct. 1. But the Mets bats came alive and they won 12-5 against Anthony Reyes and the Cards bullpen.

But wait there’s more…

Amongst major league pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this past season, Perez’ ERA ranked 136th out of 137; his winning percentage ranked 137th out of 137, and his wins put him in a tie with five others a, ranking 132nd, out of 137, the equivalent of finishing last.

In spite of this, the Mets have confidence, “This is the ultimate test,” Mets third baseman David Wright said. “I’m very confident with him. He’s got electric stuff. If he goes out there and can control it, that’s what he needs to do.”

Here’s what you need to know: NLCS Game 7’s, the home team has won five of the seven games (2003 Marlins, 1991 Braves won on the road). The past 11 home teams that won Game 6 of an LCS or World Series to stave off elimination have won Game 7, too. The last time a home team dropped Game 7 after winning Game 6 was the 1975 World Series, when Boston lost to Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine. On the other hand, no team in major league history has won more Game 7s than the Cardinals, who are 9-4 in those instances.

Here’s a NLCS Game 7 history as compiled by ESPN.com
2004 Cards 5, Astros 2 Jeff Suppan beats Roger Clemens; Scott Rolen key HR
2003 Marlins 9, Cubs 6 Josh Beckett comes up huge in relief; Kerry Wood hits HR, loses
1996 Braves 15, Cards 0 Caps rally from 3-1 deficit; most lopsided Game 7 ever
1992 Braves 3, Pirates 2 Braves get three runs in 9th, win on Francisco Cabrera two-run, two-out single
1991 Braves 4, Pirates 0 John Smoltz with the shutout
1988 Dodgers 6, Mets 0 Orel Hershiser shuts out Mets en route to winning World Series title
1987 Cards 6, Giants 0 Current Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo unlikely hero with a home run
“Game 7 starts right now,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said minutes after New York’s 4-2 victory last night. “They are getting ready to have the experience of a lifetime if you’re in professional sports. It’s an experience you’ll never forget. It will be one of the most enjoyable things, especially if you do it right as far as getting ready and doing the best that you can. You’ll never forget it. I’d prefer our club to not go through it, obviously, but it’s magical. So I’m sure we’ll be ready,” he added.

“This is what you dream,” said Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. “This is what it’s all about.”

Neither team can afford another loss until spring time.

I love Game 7.

Top of the 2nd
POST-SEASON SCHEDULE AND RESULTS
AL DIVISION SERIES
Oakland Athletics vs. Minnesota Twins
OAK wins 3-0

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
DET wins 3-1
NL DIVISION SERIES

St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres
STL wins 3-1

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
NYM wins 3-0

AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
Gm Date Site Time (TV)/Result
1 DET, 5-1 @ OAK WP Robertson – LP Zito
2 DET, 8-5 @ OAK WP Verlander – LP Loaiza
3 DET, 3-0 @ DET WP Rogers – LP Harden
4 DET, 6-3 @ DET WP Ledzema – LP Street

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
St. Louis Cardinals vs. N.Y. Mets
Gm Date Site Time (TV)/Result
1 NY, 2-0 @ NYM WP Glavine – LP Weaver
2 STL, 9-6 @ NYM WP Kinney – LP Wagner
3 STL, 5-0 @ STL WP Suppan – LP Trachsel
4 NY, 12-5 @ STL WP Perez – LP Thomson
5 STL, 4-2 @ STL WP Weaver – LP Glavine
6 NY, 4-2 @ NYM WP Maine – LP Carpenter
7 Thu. Oct. 19 @ NYM 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Suppan vs. Perez

WORLD SERIES
TBD vs. Detroit Tigers
Gm Date Site Time (TV)/Result
1 Sat. Oct. 21 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
2 Sun. Oct. 22 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3 Tue. Oct. 24 @ NL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
4 Wed. Oct. 25 @ NL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
5* Thu. Oct. 26 @ NL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
6* Sat. Oct. 28 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
7* Sun. Oct. 29 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
* – If necessary

All games can be heard on ESPN Radio

Top of the 3rd
ONE INNING AT A TIME
In last night’s 4-2 Mets’ victory, they won the 1st inning and as a result won the game.

St. Louis had runners at second and third with one out in the 1st, before John Maine struck out Jim Edmonds on three pitches and then loaded the bases by hitting Juan Encarnacion. Lo Duca saved a run with a backhand stop of a pitch in the dirt on a 1-2 pitch to Scott Rolen, who then flied out.

The electric Jose Reyes led off the Mets’ half of the 1st with a home run. Only four other players ever homered to lead off the first inning of a postseason game in which their club faced elimination. Craig Biggio did it in for the Astros in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS, and three did it in the World Series: Phil Rizzuto (1942 Yankees, Game 5), Pete Rose (1972 Reds, Game 5) and Davey Lopes (1978 Dodgers, Game 6). Reyes joined Rose as the only players to do it in a winning effort.

The Cards were 0-for-5 with three strikeouts with runners in scoring position in the first three innings only scoring with two outs in the 9th off the very scary Billy Wagner.

Top of the 4th
RINGOLSBY ON 1984
Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News said about the World Series being in Detroit: “It’s great to hear Detroit city officials are proclaiming Detroit is the most prepared city in the United States to handle an event such as the World Series.

“That is a major step from 1984, the last time the Tigers were in the World Series, and when there was a riot that accompanied the Tigers beating San Diego for the title.
“It didn’t do much for the city’s image that nearly 1,000 media members found themselves trapped in Tiger Stadium hours after the game ended because of the unrest in the streets outside.

“Tom Monaghan, who owned the team at the time and also owned Domino’s Pizza, came to the rescue when he had a helicopter land on second base and deliver pizzas to the stranded media.”

Top of the 5th
BYOT
The Detroit Tigers will not hand out rally towels for at least the first two games of the World Series at Comerica Park, team officials said. The hanky-sized towels are a popular playoff accessory that fans whirl in the air to cheer on their team. Tiger fans who already own one are welcome to bring them for World Series games. If the series goes seven games, which means games six and seven would be back at Comerica, there could be rally towels handed out.

Fans attending the opening games in Detroit will get some sort of World Series souvenir, but the in-park giveaway for the World Series is determined by Major League Baseball. this means it will be something with some sponsor’s name all over it.

I suggest a beach ball with the name Billy-Ball.com emblazoned and then everyone can see Billy-Ball’s flying all over the ballpark

Top of the 6th
TIGERS TOP 10
The 10 key deals the Tigers did, or didn’t make in assembling the 2006 Tigers include these:
1. Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago and (minor league infielder) Juan Gonzalez: The Tigers sought San Francisco Giants free-agent shortstop Rich Aurilia, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. The Tigers somehow convinced Seattle to make this deal.
2. Pudge Rodriguez, free-agent catcher: He sat on the free-agent market for long weeks during the 2003-04 offseason, because of Rodriguez’s chronic back problems. The Tigers put together a creative four-year deal that contained escape clauses if Rodriguez were to miss substantial playing time.
3. Placido Polanco for Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez:, Polanco was made expendable by the arrival in Philadelphia of Chase Utley while Urbina is in prison in Venezuela, charged with murder.
4. Magglio Ordonez, free-agent outfielder: This deal nearly came unraveled at the 11th hour in February 2005 because Ordonez, the Chicago White Sox slugger, had similar Pudge-like escape clauses in his contract. After Ordonez’s agent, Scott Boras, threatened to sue the MLBPA, the union relented.
5. Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones, free-agent pitchers: The Tigers invested plenty: $16 million for Rogers, $11 million for Jones, in these two old guys.
6. Carl Pavano, free-agent pitcher: The Tigers were all but holding a blank check for Pavano when the Marlins right-hander hit the free-agent market in the autumn of 2004. Pavano, though, opted for the Yankees. Guess who’s happy?
7. Nate Robertson, Gary Knotts and Rob Henkel for Mark Redman: The jewel proved to be Robertson, a tough, steady left-hander who became a prime-time starter for the Tigers and for manager Jim Leyland’s staff.
8. Alfonso Soriano for Cameron Maybin: This was a deal that never had a prayer of being made as the Tigers sought desperately to find a billboard hitter ahead of July’s trade deadline. Maybin, who was the Tigers’ No. 1 draft choice in 2005, is viewed as a franchise-caliber center fielder who could be in Detroit within two years.
9. Juan Gonzalez, Tigers trade acquisition and long-term contract target: Then-Tigers GM Randy Smith pulled off his most daring high-wire trade when he got Gonzalez, pitcher Danny Patterson and catcher Gregg Zaun from the Rangers for Justin Thompson, Gabe Kapler, Francisco Cordero, Frank Catalanotto, Bill Haselman and minor leaguer Alan Webb. Immediately after trading for him, the Tigers tried to tie up Gonzalez with an eight-year, $148.5 million deal that would have run through 2008 at $18.5 million per season. Fortunately for the Tigers, Gonzalez turned down this lavish contract.
10. Jeremy Bonderman, Franklyn German and Carlos Pena for Jeff Weaver: This was Dombrowski’s signature trade in the weeks after he assumed GM duties in 2002.
The Tigers traded their acknowledged ace, Weaver, to the Yankees in a three-way deal that brought three young, talented players to Detroit. Bonderman is one of the league’s top power-pitchers and has factored in two huge playoff victories.

Research for this report comes from the Detroit News.

Top of the 7th
ON THIS DATE…
On October 19, 1986, the Boston Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the World Series with 9-3 rout of the New York Mets. The Red Sox had 18 hits, and battered Dwight Gooden for six runs in five innings.

How did that Series end?

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1901, Reds outfielder Sam Crawford set a single-season Major League record when he hit 12 inside-the-park home runs.

Top of the 9th
THE NUTTY BUDDY
In case you missed it featured on “Countdown with Keith Olberman” last night, you have to check out the Nutty Buddy (http://thenuttybuddy.com/). Designed by former major leaguer Mark Littell, the Nutty Buddy is a revolutionary athletic cup for superior protection of your most valuable assets.

The site explains, “The Nutty Buddy provides complete protection so you can play hard and protect the family jewels!”

When you visit the site, make sure you check out the video with Littell and Chris Sabo and the names of the three sizes of the Nutty Buddy.

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.