Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-3-27

3/27/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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On this date in 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted Florida – he saw Julio Franco having a catch.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Top of the 1st
ROCKET POWER
How you doing Mr. Clemens? My name is Billy-Ball and I’m curious which got your heart racing faster, when the Red Sox announced that would be ace Jonathan Paplebon has moved to fill the gaping hole in the Sox bullpen, leaving a gaping hole in the starting rotation, or when the Yankees announced that Chien Ming Wang popped a hammy leaving a starting rotation already filled with major question marks even more questionable?

Just like the presidential election season has started earlier than ever, you have to presume the Roger Clemens wooing season is now in full swing. Both AL East rivals have got to be ramping up the pressure to try to get Clemens as part of their rotation beginning in late May or early June. And, despite huge financial expenditures by the Cubs, the presence of the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, and the up and coming Milwaukee Brewers, the NL Central is very much up for grabs and Houston Astros could desperately use the return of The Rocket.

The Yankees are the best two teams on paper in the AL East, but the Yanks need an ace, or at least a king, Clemens is that guy. The Sox are beset with question marks, as far as I’m concerned, and the biggest way to move them off the mark is with Clemens. A rotation of Clemens, Schilling, Beckett, and Dice-K would clearly minimize any other perceived weaknesses on this ballclub.

Has Yankees GM Brian Cashman made any inquires? “They know we’re interested,” Cashman said. We’ve heard nothing recently from the Sox Theo Epstein, but to be honest, the only person you ever get Sox news is Senator Schilling, and the last thing he wants is to be in both Matsuzaka and Clemens shadows. As for the Astros, if they get off to a slow start, they are out of the Clemens sweepstakes, Roger wants to go to the Series and he wants to be the force that drives the team in that direction.

Andy Pettitte said that Clemens text messaged him earlier last week when the Rocket heard that he had back spasms. Clemens was busting Pettitte for getting old. Clemens is 44, going on 38 but still can be the difference between the post-season and October golf.

Top of the 2nd
DICE-K MANIA
Billy-Ball is already sick of the hype regarding the Red Sox Japanese import. I expect to see this sign soon:

Matsuzaka Your Baby
Dice-Karrots

Top of the 3rd
LAW AND DIS-ORDER
About 10 St. Louis police officers are being investigated by internal affairs for allegedly using World Series tickets that had been seized from scalpers. The tickets should have been packaged and stored as evidence immediately after they were seized but investigators said the officers gave about 30 tickets to friends and then, after the tickets were used, placed them into evidence.

The department’s vice-narcotics unit undercover detectives seized more than 100 tickets from scalpers, and those tickets were to be packaged as evidence for possible use in court. Since tickets are no longer torn when entering Busch Stadium and are electronically scanned, tickets can be used to gain entry to the stadium and later placed into evidence. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce explained, “It’s one of those weird deals where it’s concerning but I’m not sure it fits into a crime category,” Joyce said. There was no theft involved because the tickets were not stolen; the tickets were not damaged, so there was no tampering with evidence, she said.

Top of the 4th
AN INCOMPARABLE BRUCE BROWN LIST
All-Time Team of Hall of Famers/All-Stars who have been the Cover Subjects of Sports Illustrated’s Annual Baseball Preview Issue

1b – ROD CAREW (1978)
2b – JOE MORGAN (1976)
3b – MIKE SCHMIDT (1981)
SS – CAL RIPKEN (1995)
C – YOGI BERRA (1984)
LF – TED WILLIAMS (1990)
CF – WILLIE MAYS (1959)
RF – KIRBY PUCKETT (1992)
DH – GEORGE BRETT (1981)
PH – WADE BOGGS (1986)
PR – LOU BROCK (1968)

Pitching
LH – SANDY KOUFAX (1964)
LH – STEVE CARLTON (1973)

Top of the 5th
THERE’S ALWAYS ARENA FOOTBALL
Sixty million consumers would lose access to baseball’s television package of out-of-market games if the sport is allowed to strike an exclusive deal with DirecTV, according to Sen. John Kerry, “When you’ve got 75 million people who currently have the option of doing something and you reduce it to 15 million, you’ve got to ask are the terms of this deal fair and does it work for the fan and for the sport itself?”

Today there will be a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, and I suggest that you do as I did and contact each member of this committee – http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=About.Members

Top of the 6th
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Manny Ramirez expects to leave the Red Sox when his contract is up. “I got two years left, and that’s it. That’s the end of the story. I’m going to move on. I’m going to play, probably somewhere else,” Ramirez said. — Boston Herald

Top of the 7th
FROM WALK-OFF TO SEND-DOWN
The last two years, Clint Barmes has been the Opening Day shortstop for the Rockies, and in 2005 he became the first rookie in major league history to hit a game-ending home run on Opening Day. This Opening Day he’ll be playing for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

No one said this sport was easy.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Tony Masarotti reports that the Red Sox are 56-14 in the 70 regular-season appearances by closer Jonathan Papelbon since the end of the 2005 season.

Top of the 9th
BUT IS HE SPAYED OR NEUTERED?
When the A’s Bobby Crosby was a kid, he used to fake illness to stay home from school (already my hero) so he could watch “The Price Is Right” (no longer my hero).
“I love it,” said Crosby, “I’ve been watching it since I was 6.”

Crosby’s brother, Blake, got him tickets to the CBS show during the offseason, but he couldn’t get on, and he was disappointed. A week later, however, Crosby was at a charity event that host Bob Barker also attended, and Barker bought a bat that Crosby had signed, paying $700 during the charity auction.

“Coolest thing ever,” Crosby said, beaming. “I thought, ‘I could die right now.’ ”

He ended up talking to Barker for a while, and Barker suggested that Crosby come watch the show as his guest. Crosby, his fianc