Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-3-29

3/29/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Top of the 1st
MY BL-EGO’S BLOG
As Billy-Ball continues into its 8th season, I admit sometimes I feel like the late Rodney Dangerfield (no, not dead), “I don’t get no respect.” Today’s column was not supposed to be about the lack of love, I was simply going to share with you the news that Sports Media Challenge had announced the top 10 baseball blogs in the official Sports Blog Index. I thought by sharing the SBI, the first ever standard measurement to identify the top blogs across all sports and in each major sports category, I could be helpful in guiding you to where passionate fans go on the Internet and which blogs carry the most weight.

Then something evil took place – my ego snuck up on me and started whispering in my ear. “Why aren’t you on that list? Huh? What do you have to do? You’ve only been doing this since before anyone heard of the word `blog’? You’ve been quoted in major newspapers, magazines, web sites. You’ve got a book coming out. What is your problem? On the web nobody knows you’re short, fat and bald.”

Oh, I was not happy. Pride goeth before the fall and all that rot. “Stop that noise!” I shouted to Evil Ego-Man. My family looked at me, the house was relatively silent. They were now presuming short, fat, bald, and increasingly insane. I tried to focus on the column. “Passion and community are at the core of sports, which is why fans have embraced blogs,” said Sports Media Challenge President Kathleen Hessert. “Even Congress and Presidential candidates are using blogs to reach out to their constituencies. It’s been estimated that there’s a new blog created every minute and a recent report found that over 50 million Americans and over 30 percent of the total U.S. Internet population visited blogs in 2006. We go where the fans go and take you with us.”

“Big deal!” The voice hissed in my ear. I had now named it “Bl-Ego” my little Blog Ego. “You’ve been sharing news and passion for years, you’re no newbie.”

“Shut up!” I screeched.

My silent family looked aghast.

“It’s nothing,” I explained. “It’s just more Dice-K talk driving me crazy.”

“Baseball has always been romanticized in literature and is arguably the most heavily analyzed sport in our culture,” said SMC Director of New Media Strategy and Fan Engagement Dex Bustarde. “The result in the blogosphere is literally hundreds of blogs – many very well written – with loyal communities analyzing the sport beyond what mainstream media is normally willing to do.”

“You’ve got a loyal community,” Bl-Ego said in a fashion that had the stench of ridicule. “They have banded together to mock you. What are you going to do now, write a joke about that guy’s name?”

“They love me!” I stood up and shouted. My family started packing. “They don’t mock! They love! They are good, good people! And I love them too. Go to hell!” The name is funny, I thought.

I heard the car starting.
I returned to focus on the Sports Blog Index which will be updated monthly to ensure that the listings reflect those blogs that fans count on most for their online word of mouth. Following is this month’s top 10 baseball related blogs:
1. Athletics Nation (http://athleticsnation.com)
2. Baseball Musings (http://baseballmusings.com)
3. MetsBlog (http://metsblog.com)
4. Bleed Cubbie Blue (http://bleedcubbieblue.com)
5. Viva El Birdos (http://vivaelbirdos.com)
6. Lookout Landing (http://lookoutlanding.com)
7. USS Mariner (http://ussmariner.com)
8. Minor League Ball (http://minorleagueball.com)
9. MLB Trade Rumors (http://mlbtraderumors.com)
10. Baseball Analysts (http://baseballanalysts.com/)

“They love them and nobody loves you,” Bl-Ego addressed me in a sing-song voice worse than Sanjaya’s. “When you tell them the good sites, they’ll all desert you.”

“No, they won’t! If I tell them, they will vote for me!”

The pets leaped into the car before it backed out of the driveway.

Here’s the paragraph I’m looking for “We urge fans and media to send us a link to a sports blog they think should contend for a top 10 spot on the Index. We will put it on our Watch List and it will be added to our Buzz Manager search engine. Even if a blog focuses on one sport or team, please send them along because, as you see above with the baseball specific list, we will release a sport specific blog Index each month of the year. You may send these to tips@sportsmediachallenge.com.”

Write to them about Billy-Ball.com. I have to find out where my family went.

Top of the 2nd
PAIN, PAIN, GO AWAY
Dodgers outfielder Jason Repko underwent surgery yesterday to reattach two hamstring tendons to his pelvic bone. Repko was injured while chasing a fly ball in an exhibition game in Vero Beach, Fla., last Thursday, tearing the tendons. Repko, 26, hit .254 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 69 games for the Dodgers last season. He was on the disabled list for more than two months because of a severely sprained left ankle.

Cleveland Indians’ pitcher C.C. Sabathia bruised his forearm was when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Toronto leadoff hitter Reed Johnson, who hit Sabathia’s second pitch of the game. The ball smashed into the outside of Sabathia’s arm, above his wrist. X-rays were negative, and he’ll be re-evaluated today. It puts in doubt Sabathia’s scheduled start in the season opener next week at Chicago.

Top of the 3rd
WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN HEARTED?
Our song of the day goes out to Steve and Jenny Swindal who announced yesterday that they are (oxymoron alert!) amicably ending their marriage of 23 years. Jennifer is George Steinbrenner’s daughter. Steve, up until yesterday, appeared to be the heir apparent head of the New York Yankees. In June 2005, Steinbrenner said Swindal eventually would succeed him as head of the Yankees. Swindal currently is a Yankees general partner and chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises LLC.

It’s been a rough spring for Swindal who was arrested by St. Petersburg police at about 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 and charged with driving under the influence, a misdemeanor. Swindal pleaded not guilty on March 15, and a pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 5 at South County Traffic Court in St. Petersburg. Swindal was weaving and driving 61 mph in a 35 mph zone when he was pulled over

Steinbrenner, who lately has been dressing like Bruce Springsteen, said yesterday, “I’m the Boss. I continue to be the Boss,” in a statement issued by spokesman Howard Rubenstein. “I have no intention of retiring, and my family runs the Yankees with me.” Steinbrenner then had Rubenstein recite the lyrics to “Born to Run.”

Steinbrenner has four children. Son Harold Steinbrenner is executive vice president and treasurer of Yankee Global Enterprises LLC and Hank Steinbrenner is a senior vice president of the team. Felix Lopez, married to daughter Jessica Steinbrenner, is a team senior vice president.

Top of the 4th
PLEASE MAKE IT STOPUZAKA
We learn from Boston Herald scribe Tony Massarotti that Daisuke Matsuzaka’s favorite American sex symbol is Angelina Jolie because, in part, she has “a strength and poise that I find attractive.” (By the way Angelina, it turns out that I’m now an orphan and willing to be adopted.) He would most like to have a beer with Cy Young or Nolan Ryan (he knows Billy-Ball does not care for beer). He likes Jackie Chan movies and has seen, among other American films, “Lethal Weapon,” “Cliffhanger” and “When Harry Met Sally.” (Harry Met Sally? Dice-K is either showing his gay side or showing the power of his wife). He indicated that watching American films and television has helped with his English. We await to see if he starts talking like the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Top of the 5th
BLING, BLING,
On April 3, prior to the second home game of the regular season, the Cardinals will be presented with their World Series championship rings and may I say, it sounds fabulous. The ring’s top is slightly larger than a twist-off bottle cap’s, and it features 50 round diamonds. The four bases on a baseball diamond built of diamonds are four princess-cut stones. They glisten with a near-flawless clarity and are colorless.

The interlocking STL logo, the ring’s more striking feature, is made of 32 custom-cut rubies. When the Cardinals settled on a pigeon’s blood red for the color, an employee of Intergold Ltd. toted the preferred ruby around Myanmar’s ruby mines and searched for enough of the same color from the same mine to make all of the rings without variations. There are two carats of diamonds, two carats of rubies, and the entire ring is made of 14-karat gold.

One side of the ring features a bird’s-eye view of the new downtown ballpark, and it took more than 1 million passes of a laser to produce the Busch Stadium relief on each ring. Above the stadium are fireworks bursts to recreate the post-Game 5 celebration. McNeal said it was the first time fireworks had been featured on a championship ring. Its manufacturer declined to appraise the ring’s worth.

Top of the 6th
JUSTICE DELAYED, IS JUSTICE INDUCTED
Atlanta Braves 1995 World Series hero, David Justice, will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame on Friday, August 17, 2007, at the ninth annual Braves Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony. He will join Hank Aaron, Bill Bartholomay, Lew Burdette, Skip Caray, Del Crandall, Ralph Garr, Tommy Holmes, Ernie Johnson, Herman Long, Bill Lucas, Eddie Mathews, Dale Murphy, Kid Nichols, Phil Niekro, John Sain, Paul Snyder, Warren Spahn, Ted Turner, and Pete Van Wieren in the Braves Hall of Fame. The Braves will also honor select members of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves as part of a 50-year anniversary celebration since they won the World Series. Both will be present and recognized at the Braves game that evening versus the Arizona Diamondbacks

Top of the 7th
THEY CAME OUT KICKING AND TICKING
Nomar Garciaparra and his wife, Olympics soccer sweetie Mia Hamm, are the parents of twin daughters, born in California late Tuesday. “Both are healthy and over five pounds,” Dodgers spokesguy Josh Rawitch said. One shows great footwork while the other was tugging at her sweatbands.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
There are seven new managers this season headed by Lou Piniella and his Cubbies, Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez, Oakland’s Bob Geren, San Diego’s Bud Black, San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, Texas’ Ron Washington and Washington’s Manny Acta.

Top of the 9th
UGIE, UGIE, UGIE
Ugueth Urbina, a former pitcher with the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family’s ranch, the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office announced yesterday. Urbina, was also found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice into his own hands during a dispute over a gun on Oct. 16, 2005. The 32-year-old free agent was accused of joining a group of men in attacking and injuring workers with machetes and pouring gasoline on them at his family’s ranch, located about 25 miles south of Caracas.

Urbina repeatedly has denied involvement with the violence, saying he was sleeping at the time of the attack. The pitcher’s lawyer, Jose Luis Tamayo, has said that Urbina surprised the workers by showing up at his ranch that night while they were bathing in the pool without permission. Urbina spoke sharply to them, but later left and went to sleep, according to Tamayo.

Urbina, a two-time All-Star, last pitched in the major leagues with the Phillies in 2005. He’s 30th on the all-time saves list with 237. He had two saves in the 2003 World Series for the victorious Marlins.

Bye , bye Ugie, we hardly knew yougie.

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.