Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-2-5

2/5/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Happy Birthday, Henry Aaron

Monday, February 05, 2007

Top of the 1st
THE SEASON HAS BEGUN
Despite the fact that the thermometer outside of Billy-Ball international headquarters states that it is a frosty 9.8 degrees, somewhere in the distance I hear a ball thumping into a mitt. I can smell the faint odor of the oil that enveloped a glove so carefully being unwrapped after a winter of seasoning. I can feel baseball in the air.

When the whistle blew ending a shockingly mediocre Super Bowl, it marked the start of our season. Yes, I acknowledge the existence and excitement of March Madness, but that is simply the marching band that accompanies baseball each year. Yes, there are the postseasons of the NBA and the NHL, but they are simply reminders of the fact that we can still get snow in April as the baseball season unfolds.

Today though there is no better way to celebrate Hank Aaron’s 73rd birthday than by pointing out that in 10 very cold days the warmth of baseball returns as the pitchers and catchers report.

The season has begun….

Top of the 2nd
WILL IT BE THE GREATEST GAME OF THE YEAR?
Mark your calendars, Tigers fans, the best game of the year will be Saturday, April 7, at Kansas City. Oh something amazing will probably happen that day against the Royals, something that you will never see again.

How do I know? Its simple math, FSN will carry 134 Tigers games this season. Detroit’s Channel 2 will televise an additional 17. The Tigers will also play 10 games on national television – eight as the Fox Saturday game of the week, and twice more on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. That leaves only one game not being televised – you guessed it – Saturday, April 7, at Kansas City

Top of the 3rd
OH BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
Jason Giambi recently had a pipe burst in his Upper East Side condo, with the water flooding the apartment below. No, no folks the pipes were not pumped with steroids, “He let friends stay there and they left some French doors open, which let in the freezing-cold air. It was a mess,” a source said. “But he’s been more than a gentleman about it, taking pictures of and documenting the accident so his neighbor can be reimbursed.”

Top of the 4th
GETTING TO KNOW YOU, GETTING TO KNOW ABOUT YOU
Ryan Zimmerman, the Rookie of the Year third baseman for the Washington Nationals, is looking forward to playing for the Nationals’ new manager, Manny Acta. Ryan said he got to know Manny last year when he was the third-base coach of the Mets because he would talk to him a lot while he was stationed at third and the Mets were up.

Top of the 5th
ON BERNIE
George Vecsey’s brilliant lead in yesterday’s New York Times:
“It’s hard to look forward to a baseball season in which Barry Bonds has a job and Bernie Williams doesn’t. But at least it’s baseball, coming down the pike. That’s the consolation for the cold wave that has hit the Northeast as we hunker down for today’s Super Bowl.”

The New York Yankees have offered the former All-Star outfielder Bernie Williams a minor league contract and an invite to spring training. The 38-year-old Williams has been with the Yankees since 1991, but with the team’s plan to go with 12 pitchers, platoon at first base and move Jason Giambi to designated hitter, there is no spot on a 25-man roster for Williams at this point.
As for Bernie, he knows what’s coming and we can just hope the Yanks give him a great send off. “When you give a large chunk of your life to a team, it is hard. It’s not like I am a journeyman,” Williams said. “When you play this game for a long time, you take things for granted and think it won’t end. But the harsh reality of it is, it will.”

Bernie has lost the speed that he once possessed which makes him a liability moving laterally. He has never possessed a great arm, but now he no longer even has a mediocre arm. Bernie Williams is a classy guy and should end his career as a lifetime Yankee.

Let’s hope that happens…sooner than later.

Top of the 6th
CHASING UTLY
The Phillies great second baseman, Chase Utley has a no-trade clause in his new contract that states that he can designate nine teams per year that he can’t be dealt to. However, Utley has a clause that stipulates if the Phils give a more favorable no-trade clause to one of their players, they must also give it to him.

Between Ryan Howard at first, Utley at second and the Mets’ Jose Reyes at short and David Wright at third, I think we have the NL starting All-Star infield for many years to come.

Top of the 7th
DA BEARS
Murray Chass of the NY Times points out that the Bears have won more N.F.L. championships at Wrigley Field than the Cubs have won World Series. Each team has played at Wrigley five times for its sport’s championship, with the Bears winning four times and the Cubs none. When the Cubs won successive World Series in 1907 and 1908, Wrigley Field had not been built.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Don’t bring up nepotism in Milwaukee. The Brewers had the sons of three big time players on the roster last year. Tony Gwynn Jr., Prince Fielder (son of Cecil) and David Bell, son of Buddy, the Kansas City Royals manager and the grandson of former Reds outfielder Gus Bell (by the way, he’s still unsigned for this year, David, not the late, Gus).
Top of the 9th
WHY WE LIKE ERIC WEDGE
Here’s a quote from Eric Wedge on his Indians, “We’ve got the best player in the game (Sizemore), and the best hitter in the game (Travis Hafner). As long as the manager doesn’t screw up, we’ll be OK.”

Get well soon, Jane.

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.