Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-2-28

2/28/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Top of the 1st
YOU’RE THE TOPPS
A prankster at Topps inserted images of Yankee great Mickey Mantle and President Bush in the background of Derek Jeter’s 2007 cards, the company said. A uniformed Mantle is shown handling a bat in the dugout, while behind Jeter, walking through the lower box seats, is a waving President Bush.

“Someone was having a little fun between the final proofing and the printing process,” said Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi. “We first saw the card only after it was printed and, honestly, could not do anything but laugh.”

The card already is selling on eBay, where collectors last night were bidding upwards of $45.00. But that’s nothing compared to the bidding on these cards:

* The Barry B*nds card which shows BALCO lab workers in the on-deck circle and Floyd Landis biking around the basepaths.
* The Man-Child Ramirez card which shows all the Red Sox, but no Man-Child.
* The Carl Pavano card shot at the doctor’s office.
* The Roger Clemens flip card which shows him playing, then retired, then playing, then retired., then playing, then….
* The Alex Rodriguez card that has Dr. Phil in the dugout.
* The Pittsburgh Pirates team card which list all their golf dates for October.
* The Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett cards in an aquarium fish tank (check out the 2007 Twins commercials – http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/min/fan_forum/commercials_2007.jsp)
* The Curt Schilling card that has a close-up of Curt surrounded by microphones and the rest of the U.S. Senate in the background.
* The Julio Franco card which has his nurse wiping away the drool.
* The Derek Lowe card with his wives and girlfriends with their husbands and boyfriends.
* The Gil Meche card which shows him laughing all the way to the Bank of Kansas City.

Good luck with the card – if you have any other suggestions – e-mail me at bill@billy-ball.com

Top of the 2nd
NO VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SANTO
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Committee for Baseball Veterans announced balloting results Tuesday for its 2007 election of players, managers, executives and umpires. Former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo led all candidates on the Player Ballot with 57 votes, totaling 69.5 percent of all ballots cast. Umpire Doug Harvey led all Composite Ballot nominees with 52 votes, 64.2 percent of the tally. However, neither achieved the minimum 75 percent required for election.

It appears that it would be easier for Barack Obama to get invited to dinner at Rush Limbaugh’s than for Ron Santo to make it into the Hall.

Top of the 3rd
ESPN – SUNDAYS
ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” will now be permitted to broadcast each MLB team up to five times this season, one more than the maximum of four from last year.

And you know what that means – five chances to not see the Royals or the Pirates.

Top of the 4th
HERE THEY COME AGAIN
Catch them if you can –
Major-league catchers who batted .300 while playing at least 100 games behind the plate in 2006:
Player Games Avg.
Joe Mauer, Minn. 120 .347
Brian McCann, Atl. 124 .333
Paul Lo Duca, NYM 118 .318
Victor Martinez, Cle. 133 .316
Ronny Paulino, Pitt. 124 .310
Michael Barrett, Cubs 102 .307
Johnny Estrada, Ariz. 108 .302
Ivan Rodriguez, Det. 123 .300

Top of the 5th
GEOCHELONE GIGANTEA
Shea Hillenbrand, who signed a one-year, $6.5-million deal Dec. 26 with the Angels and has averaged 18 homers and 82 runs batted in over the last five seasons, has an 8-year-old Aldabra tortoise that he keeps on the property of his expansive home in the shadow of the San Tan Mountains outside of Phoenix. The tortoise, which the Los Angeles Times reported was a birthday gift from Hillenbrand’s wife, Jessica, weighs 100 pounds. Full grown, it will be 4 1/2 feet wide, 3 1/2 feet tall and weigh 700 pounds. A native of the Aldabras, four coral islands in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar, it could live for as many as 100 years.

The tortoise’s name is:
a) Scoop
b) El Guapo
c) Molina
d) Ricciardi

See the answer in the Top of the 9th

Top of the 6th
START THINKING NUMBERS
Red Sox new starting pitcher Jonathan Papelbon averaged 17.4 pitches thrown in each of his 59 relief appearances last season.

Top of the 7th
TREAT HIM LIKE ROYALTY
This off-season, Gil Meche signed a five-year, $55 million deal with the Kansas City Royals. Meche is 55-44 for his career and whose 84 walks last season ranked third in the American League.

“People have their own opinions,” said Meche, who was 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA for Seattle in 2006. “I’m fortunate to get what I’ve got. It is just one of those things where you want to go out there and basically repay the team, giving them everything you’ve got as far as effort throughout the season and a five-year deal.”

“I expect him to do well,” manager Buddy Bell said. “I just want him to be Gil Meche.” The Royals will never succeed unless they raise their standards higher than that.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Dodger starting pitcher Randy Wolf is a career .193 hitter with 19 doubles and four home runs in 353 at-bats, not bad for a pitcher. His best season with the bat was 2004, when he hit .267 with three home runs, including two in one game.

Top of the 9th
HILLENBRAND’S TORTOISE IS NAMED:
a) Scoop

Hillenbrand grew up in Mesa, Ariz., with an affection for animals, but his wife Jessica, whose father is a veterinarian at the Phoenix Zoo, helped turn that into a passion. His ranch-style home, which sits on a 1.2-acre lot, looks unremarkable, but since buying the house in 2003 they’ve turned the backyard into a virtual petting zoo, with some 55 animals.

He also has Dixie, Daisy and Riley, a trio of miniature horses, Vacita, an aging dwarf cow with a deformed leg, and her sidekick, Lance, a small goat who shadows the shaggy-haired beast, three rescued rabbits and a seven-month-old wallaby, a native of Australia named Josiah,

Bottom of the 9th
VISIT-BILLY-BALL-WORLD
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Have a great day!

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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.