Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-10-24

10/24/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Top of the 1st
THE SMUDGE REPORT
The great thing about a travel day in baseball is that it gives us plenty of time to rehash whatever the current controversy might be brewing. Yesterday’s topic du jour was, “Name the smudge on Kenny Rogers pitching hand or was Kenny cheating?”

There are innumerable theories as to what the smudge is going on with Rogers who is pitching like Christy Mathewson or Whitey Ford. While I have your attention on Whitey, who celebrated his 78th birthday this past weekend (Happy B-Day, Whitey), you may or may not know that Whitey broke Babe Ruth’s record for most consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series (that was the only post-season at the time) of 29.2, by pitching 33.2 consecutive WS goose eggs. He broke it during the 1961 Series, the same year Maris broke Ruth’s single season home run record resulting in a bad year for the Babe.

After his career ended, Ford admitted to occasionally he and Yankee catcher Elston Howard would “doctor” the ball a little bit. This is not to imply the balls were ill, just that sometimes it needed a tad more mud on it. Whitey would sometimes use the diamond in his wedding ring to scrape the ball, but when that was detected (Jim Bouton wrote in “Ball Four” that an umpire one day walked to the mound and told Ford something to the effect of “Whitey, you need to go in the locker room and adjust your jock strap. And when you come out, it had better be without that ring.”), Howard’s sharpened buckle on his shinguard would effectively scuff the ball.

But yesterday, the topic was “Smudgegate” and in the first question asked to Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa yesterday, he responded, “I have a decision to make, and I decided that I was not going to be part of the BS where I was going to ask the umpire to go to the mound and undress the pitcher. Now, what was I going to do? I alerted him. I said, ‘I hope it gets fixed. If it doesn’t get fixed, then I’ll take the next step.’ ”

Of course nobody was satisfied to leave it at that, nor were they satisfied with Kenny Rogers explanation that “It was a big clump of dirt, and I wiped it off,” that caused the smudged because…La Russa added, “I did watch video of the other postseason games, so I had an idea of what it looked like.” You see La Russa had seen on his tapes exactly what ESPN had shown that Rogers has had something on his hand throughout the whole postseason.

Which leads us to a whole mess of conspiracy theories, some of which I am proud to pass along.

“You know, he has a terrible habit,” Tigers coach Andy Van Slyke reported, “of eating Tootsie Rolls. And he happened to sit next to a heater.”

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that Tigers closer Todd Jones thought it might be chocolate cake, “No,” Van Slyke said. “You can’t bring cake on the bench. You’ve got to eat something with a wrapper on it.”

Stark adds that Van Slyke was seen in the dugout in what appeared to be a long, between-innings chat with Rogers after the first inning Sunday. “But in truth, `I wasn’t involved in the conversation,’ Van Slyke quipped. `Just, when I shook Kenny’s hand, it took me 30 seconds to get unstuck.'”

“I’ve heard [pine tar] is used for the grip,” said former Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe.

Gaylord Perry, who was a master of Vaseline, responded to that, “I never used pine tar,” Perry said. “I’ve played with guys who used it and against guys who used it. A baseball is slick in cold weather, especially. A lot of pitchers used pine tar to get a better grip on the ball when it’s cold and slick. It’s been used for 100 years, as far as I know.”

John Heyman of SI.com spoke to a bullpen coach who said, “Pine tar, which has been around forever, has a cakiness to it, and it works in the cold. A lot of guys use pine tar, too, but I’m guessing Rogers doesn’t use it too much because he didn’t know how to hide it. With suntan lotion or shaving cream, you can put it anywhere because it blends in. You see David Wells wiping his forearms after every pitch. That’s either suntan lotion or shaving cream he’s applying to his hand.”

Then there was this exchange from the movie, “Major League”
Ricky Vaughn: “You put snot . . . on the ball?”
Eddie Harris: “I haven’t got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Someday you will too.”

I think Tim McCarver thought it was tobacco breath. After pointing out the stain, there was this exchange between Joe Buck and McCarver:
Joe Buck: “You can bet that this game is being closely monitored by everybody involved in this series, and that includes the entire Cardinal clubhouse. And I’m sure the question will be asked, ‘What’s on the base of the left thumb of Kenny Rogers?’ “
McCarver: Those of you who may not know, you can blow on your hands tonight. It’s cold enough.”

Fox Sports thinks the smudge was caused by Steve Lyons.

I may be mistaken but I think presidential spokesperson Tony Snow blamed the smudge on Bill Clinton. While President Bush insists that he never said that Rogers should “stay the course” with the smudge, but anybody who wanted him to wash it off was just “cutting and running.”

Yankee fans made it clear that A-Rod did it. Red Sox fans agreed.

Rogers refused to let people worship the hand, even those who claimed the stain was in the shape of the Virgin Mary.

Barry B*nds would have blamed it on steroids, but he doesn’t know what steroids are.

Virginia Senator George Allen said, “It was the mark of macaca,” and added “Hey, I just made up that word again.”

Well, all in all it was a pretty good off day. I just hope we have a Game 6 for no other reason to see what’s discussed on Friday.

Bottom of the 1st
RULE 8.02 OF THE OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES.
According to rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not:
(2) expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove;
(4) apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]
(5) deface the ball in any manner.
According to the penalties set forth in the Official Baseball Rules, “For violation of any part of Rules 8.02(a)(2) through (6): (a) The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically for 10 games.”

However, at the bottom of the ‘penalties’ section is the following disclaimer:
Rules 8.02(a)(2) through 8.02(a)(6) Comment: If a pitcher violates either Rule 8.02(a)(2) or Rule 8.02(a)(3) and, in the judgment of the umpire, the pitcher did not intend, by his act, to alter the characteristics of a pitched ball, then the umpire may, in his discretion, warn the pitcher in lieu of applying the penalty.

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
DET wins 4-0

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
St. Louis Cardinals vs. N.Y. Mets
STL wins 4-3

WORLD SERIES
STL vs. Detroit Tigers
Gm Date Site Time (TV)/Result
1 STL 7-2 @ Detroit WP – Reyes, LP – Verlander
2 DET 3-1 @ Detroit WP – Rogers, LP – Weaver
3 Tue. Oct. 24 @ STL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Bonderman vs. Carpenter
4 Wed. Oct. 25 @ STL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Robertson vs. Suppan
5 Thu. Oct. 26 @ STL 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Verlnder vs. Reyes
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
19 TO 21
John Shiffert is an outstanding writer and a good e-friend of Billy-Ball. He is Philadelphia baseball author/historian currently living in exile outside Atlanta. In addition to publishing the baseball history e-zine “19 to 21” for the past four years which I enjoy very much, he has written three baseball history books, “Baseball: 1862 to 2003”, “Baseball… Then and Now” and “”Base Ball in Philadelphia”. The latter book, published this month by McFarland and Company (http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?isbn=0-7864-2795-7) is the story of baseball in Philadelphia from 1831 to 1900.

To join his mailing list, write to John directly at JohnShiffert@mail.clayton.edu.

Top of the 4th
MOYER RETURNS
The Phillies and lefthander Jamie Moyer agreed on a two-year, $10.5 million contract extension plus incentives yesterday. Moyer went a combined 11-14 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts for Seattle and Philadelphia this past season. The 2006 season marked Moyer’s sixth straight year with at least 200 innings and his eighth in the last nine years.

Moyers will turn 44 on Nov. 18 and this guarantees that he’ll celebrate his 45th birthday in red pinstripes.

“Jamie was one of our more effective pitchers down the stretch,” said General Manager Pat Gillick. “He was an asset to our ballclub not just for his performance on the field, but also for his presence in the clubhouse.”

Bottom of the 4th
KRANITZ RETURNS
The Marlins have rehired Rick Kranitz as their pitching coach. This means that for the first time Dontrelle Willis will have the same pitching coach for two straight full seasons. Since May 2003, Dontrelle’s pitching coaches have been Brad Arnsberg, Wayne Rosenthal, Mark Wiley and Kranitz.

Top of the 5th
GLAVINE RETURNS?
Mets pitcher Tom Glavine could finish his career by pitching one more season with the Braves in 2007, according to the New York Daily News. “I have a lot of reasons why I want to be back here (in New York),” Glavine told the newspaper. “The only reason, really, that it’s even a question is my family. I think I’ve been pretty honest about that since last January. I haven’t really had an opportunity to sit down with my wife, talk to my kids and see where they’re at.”

The Mets have a team option on Glavine for 2007, but have pledged not to sign him against his will. His value won’t swing too much no matter which of the two teams he pitches for next season, which will be his last, provided he gets the 10 wins he needs to reach 300 for his career.

Top of the 6th
SARGE RETURNS?
Free agent outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. was extended a contract offer from the Rangers, but he chose to decline it and test the free agent market. “We’re going to exercise our right,” Matthews agent Scott Leventhal told the Dallas Morning News. “But that doesn’t mean that we’re closing any doors. We’re still going to take a long look at Texas… but players have to go through six full seasons to get a chance at free agency.”

In other words, “Texas is going to have pay through the nose if they have any dreams of keeping Mathews after the strong season he just had. Remember the Alamo!”

Top of the 7th
ON THIS DATE…
On October 24, 1972, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson died of heart disease at the age 53.

Hopefully tonight in St. Louis there will be a moment of silence in his memory.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Braves are the only team to play in a World Series while representing three different cities:
Boston Braves in 1914 and 1948
Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and ’58
Atlanta Braves in 1991, ’92, ’95, ’96 and ’99

Top of the 9th
JOHN DEWAN’S STAT OF THE WEEK(TM)
Who else has a chance at 700 home runs?

Barry Bonds has passed the 700 home run mark, and with 734 dingers he’s moving up on Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755. And now, having just ended the 2006 season, we have another player who has established equal odds to reach the 700 milestone. They may boo him in New York, but even after having “only” launched 35 long ones in 2006, Alex Rodriguez has established himself as a 50-50 chance to become the fourth player to hit 700 home runs.

Here is the list from the Bill James Handbook 2007:
700 Home Runs
(% Chance to Reach Milestone)
Player % Chance
Barry Bonds, Giants Done
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 50%
Albert Pujols, Cardinals 31%
Andruw Jones, Braves 27%
Manny Ramirez, Red Sox 19%
Adam Dunn, Reds 15%
David Ortiz, Red Sox 13%
Ken Griffey, Jr., Reds 12%
Ryan Howard, Phillies 6%
Vladimir Guerrero, Angels 6%

At the age of 30, A-Rod has 464 home runs. That’s the highest age-30 total of any player in history. . .by a wide margin. The player in second place at age 30 had 438–Ken Griffey Jr. Hank Aaron had 366.

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.