Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-3-26

3/26/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Monday, March 26, 2007

Top of the 1st
THE ENLIGHTENED BRACKETOLOGIST
So, how are you doing in your NCAA office pool?

Personally, I prefer to be wrong just in baseball, so I just watch and enjoy March Madness without making incorrect picks in advance. That is not to say I don’t enjoy the process. There is something innately enjoyable and enticing about using the bracket system to determine winners which is why I highly recommend a new book, “The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything”, Edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir (Bloomsbury USA, 224 pages, Hardcover, $15.95).

“The Bracketologist” uses the same structure as the NCAA to produce winners of wide assortment of debates ranging from Film Deaths, Magical Sports Numbers, Cooking Tools, to Yiddish Phrases. Each of the 101 subjects begins with 32 contenders; each bracket narrows the field down to 16, then eight, then the final four, then the championship, and then an undisputed winner as determined by an expert in the field.

Bracket winners have call-outs by the experts explaining the reason for the victory. For example, Neil Amdur starts with 32 different Fruits and ends up stating that the winner amongst all these tasty delights is the peach, which edges out the apple in the finals. Amdur writes, “The apple says tradition, safety, and goodness. But wash a ripe peach and its color radiates. Take a bite and you begin a walk on the wild side that borders on the sensuous as the juice drips off your lips. You can’t wait for the next bite, and it tastes even sweeter, even sexier. The apple can compete against anyone. But when the peach performs, it is all over.”

It will probably come as no surprise to you that Joe DiMaggio/Marilyn Monroe, in Selena Roberts eyes, edges out Andre Agassi/Steffi Graf as the number one Celebrity Sports Couple, but you may be bewildered by the selection by Scott Mowbray, the executive editor of Time who chose Neilson Crispy Crunch in the Candy Bar category.

Bracketology is clearly catching on judging by a recently received e-mail blast from John Kerry who wrote, “March Madness is here. Only this time it’s not just a chance to follow your favorite team through the NCAA brackets — it’s time to fill out your first bracket of 2007 to decide which great Democrats the johnkerry.com community will rally behind this spring.” Kerry would be my winner in the category, Politicians Who Look Like Lincoln.

“The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything”, is fun and funny and, if you keep it in perspective, can be a controversial and enjoyable game to play with your friends. I just would hate to learn of any major arguments caused by the selection of “The Way We Were” as the top Chick Flick. Invariably we make picks based on our perceptions of things and when the upset occurs we are told, “That’s why they play the game on the field, not on paper.” Well this game, the game of making opinion a sport, is played on paper and worth playing, worth reading, worth buying.

Top of the 2nd
WATCHING WALKER
The players union is closely watching the Padres’ handling of second baseman Todd Walker because San Diego must decide by tomorrow if it’s going to keep Walker, guaranteeing his $3.9 million salary that was decided in arbitration. If he, or any other player, is released by tomorrow, the Padres will be responsible for only 25 percent of Walker’s salary.

The union vows to file a grievance if he’s released. Players union researchers have found that only one other player was released after winning in arbitration, that being the Mariners Brian Hunter who was released near the end of camp in 2000.

Top of the 3rd
M’S FOR OPENERS
Felix Hernandez reported to camp 20 pounds lighter and with a renewed sense of purpose. He was rewarded by being named the Mariners Opening Day starter on April 2 against the A’s at Safeco Field. “This kid came into camp with a great attitude, in great shape and he’s thrown the ball real well all spring,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “He never came in and talked to me about it, but I know he wanted this. I think he has earned it.”

Hernandez, who turns 21 on April 8, will be the Mariners’ youngest opening-day starter. He’s more than half the age of two others – Gaylord Perry, who was 44 in 1983, and Jamie Moyer, who was 42 in 2006.

Top of the 4th
YANKEES HAVE A BROKEN WANG
Chien-Ming Wang’s hamstring injury will land him on the disabled list to start the season. “Very, very sad,” Wang said. “I hope it gets better and I go back to New York.”
Wang said he felt a pop in his hamstring while running sprints last Friday. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said Wang would stay behind in Tampa when the team breaks camp in a week. “I don’t look for him to touch our major league roster until sometime in late April,” Cashman said. “I would eliminate the first two and a half or three weeks of the season.”

Wang went 19-6 with a 3.63 earned run average last season and won his start in the division series against the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees’ only playoff victory. The injury to Wang, who turns 27 this month, highlights the fragile nature of the Yankees’ rotation.
Pettitte, who turns 35 in June, made 35 starts for Houston last season but considered retirement last winter because of elbow problems. Mussina, 38, has not pitched 200 innings since 2003 and missed time with elbow trouble in two of the last three seasons. Kei Igawa, who has never pitched in the majors, and Carl Pavano, who might be the Opening Day starter pitching on 643 days’ rest.

Top of the 5th
DO THE TIGERS HAVE A PRAYER?
Three members of the Detroit Tigers are featured in a new high-definition video entitled “The Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition.” Manager Jim Leyland and players Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Sean Casey talk about their Catholic faith and its effect on their lives and careers in the video. The film sells for $19.95 and is available at www.catholicexchange.com.

Top of the 6th
DICE-K MANIA
Billy-Ball is already sick of the hype regarding the Red Sox Japanese import. I expect to see this sign soon:

Kosher for Passover
Chicken Soup with Matzoh-saka Balls

Top of the 7th
KNOW YOUR BALLPARKS?
These ballparks are the homes of which teams?
a) PNC Park
b) Citizens Bank Park
c) Chase Field

Answers in the top of 9th

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Reds starting pitchers ranked sixth in the National League in ERA (4.58) in 2006. It was their highest ranking in the NL since 1999, when they finished fourth.

Top of the 9th
KNOW YOUR BALLPARKS? – ANSWERS
PNC Park (Pirates), Citizens Bank Park (Phillies) and Chase Field (Diamondbacks)

How’d you do?

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.