Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-4-20

4/20/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Friday, April 20, 2007

Top of the 1st
KEEPING IT REAL
Tonight is the start of a three-game set between the Yankees and the homies in Boston and, as per usual, things are waaaaaay over the top in terms of hype. The first-place Sox are coming off a comeback win in Toronto in which Manny being Manny hit his first homer of the season and the second-place New Yawkahs are carrying the momentum of an incredibly unbelievable 9th inning comeback to complete a three game sweep of the Indians. Did I mention that A-Rod is on fire?

The Yankee bats going against Schilling, Beckett and Dice-K. The oversized town of Boston may actually implode from excitement come Sunday evening. But can I keep it real, dogs? It’s only April! These are only three games. That’s .018 of the schedule. And don’t tell me these games count more because they are against the Yankees and don’t tell me it’s just an early test. It’s frickin’ April and when you take two of three from New York in Boston and then next weekend lose two of three in New York, you are exactly where you started.

While I’m at keeping it real – A-Rod won’t hit 100 homers, you New York fans, and Sox fans, Beckett won’t win 30 games. Cardinal fans, your World Champs won’t end the season in the cellar. And Cub fans, your team won’t either. Pirate fans, your team will. Hey, I’m just keeping it real.

Mariner fans, Felix Hernandez will recover after a strain of the flexor-pronator, he does not need Tommy John surgery and he’ll be back next month. Phillies fans, Ryan Howard sprained a ligament, sprained it. He did not tear it. He is day-to-day and then will be fine. And, your team is not as awful as they appear. Nationals fans your team isn’t either…they’re worse. Hey, I’m just keeping it real.

Indian lovers, your team is a better than .500 club, same for you White Sox fans. Not the same for you Reds fans. This is as good as this team will be. Hey, you know what I’m doing; I’m just keeping it real.

Yes Atlanta, your Braves are back but what I said to Boston goes the same for you guys as you face the Mets; it’s just three games. It is especially true for you Mets fans. Keep it under control. And no, David Wright won’t hit in every game this season. And yes, Giants fans your team has every potential to stay in last place for the rest of the season. And no, San Franciscans you are not being paranoid. Everybody is rooting against you because of Barry B*nds. And yes, the only ones rooting for Barry B*nds to break Henry Aaron’s home run record are those who feel it is inevitable and want the B*nds stench to go away. Yes, I just kept it very real.

Brewers fans, it is indeed okay to get your hopes up, the NL Central is so very mediocre. But the AL West is only demi-ocre, that’s a half a step below mediocre. Speaking about getting your hopes up, the Orioles may not be the best last-place team this season after all, they may simply be a pretty good fourth-place team. And Royals fans if you don’t insist that your owners get off his fat wallet then your team will stay a demi-step above Triple A. Oh, and Tampa Bay, if this game were 90% outfielders instead of 90% pitching you would be a really good team. It isn’t. You aren’t. I am…keeping it real.

Hey Angel fans, your team will get healthy and they will play better. Hey Rangers fans, I may have been wrong picking you to finish first.
Oh, don’t feel left out A’s and Twins and Tigers and Dodgers (oh my!) fans. We are all so very proud of you. Your teams are doing oh so well and will probably continue to do well. Just not as well as you are doing. Houston, I think the chances are decreasing on a daily basis that Roger Clemens is coming back to you and Drayton McLane is probably doing all he can…to urge Clemens to retire or sign with some other team so he doesn’t have to pay any more money for a team that needs two Clemens in order to win the Central and do well in the post-season. I just got to, got to, got to keep it real.

And now that I’m finished writing this column…I will go back to imagining myself playing second base tonight at Fenway.

That’s me keeping it unreal.

Top of the 2nd
ARE YOU READY?
The Red Sox and the Yankees play each other 12 times between tonight and June 3. Andy Pettitte will open the series tonight against Curt Schilling. Right-hander Jeff Karstens will return from a minor league rehabilitation assignment and make his first start of the season tomorrow afternoon against Josh Beckett. Chase Wright will start for the second time in the major leagues Sunday night at Fenway against Dice-K. Four Yankee starters, Carl Pavano, Karstens, Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina have been on the DL with injuries.

In an NL East showdown, the Braves face the Mets this weekend at Shea. Tim Hudson will face Mike Pelfrey tonight, Chuck James will oppose Oliver Perez tomorrow and John Smoltz will start against Tom Glavine Sunday.

Top of the 3rd
IS A-ROD THIS SEASON’S BIG PAPI?
Picture this –

The Yankees are trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Bases empty.
Josh Phelps hits his first homer since May 27, 2005, for Tampa Bay against Seattle.

The Yankees are trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Bases empty.

Down to their last strike, Jorge Posada singles on a 2-2 pitch.

The Yankees are trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Runner on first.

Down to their last strike, Johnny Damon walks on a full count

The Yankees are trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Runners on first and second.

Derek Jeter singles to left,

The Yankees are trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Runners on first and second.

Down to their last strike, Bobby Abreu, on a 1-2 count, singles to left for his fourth hit.

The Yankees are trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Runners on first and second.

Up steps Alex Rodriguez. First pitch is wild.

The Yankees are trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Runners on second and third.

Do you intentionally walk the 0-4 A-Rod and pitch to Jason Giambi who homered for the second straight game?

The Indians elect to pitch to A-Rod.

Big mistake. A-Rod put Borowski’s next pitch over the centerfield fence.

Yankees 8 – Indians 6. Final.

Top of the 4th
ADIOS, GUS
A California-based sports agent, Gus Dominguez, 48, was found guilty last week of nearly two dozen federal charges, including conspiracy, smuggling, transporting and harboring because he smuggled five Cuban baseball players into the United States. Most of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years each in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 9. Dominguez helped organize two smuggling trips across the Florida Straits in 2004, one of which failed, federal prosecutors said. Among the group that made it were Osbek Castillo, a pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system, and Francisely Bueno, a pitcher in the Atlanta Braves’ organization.

All I asked for were a few cigars

Top of the 5th
WALKING WITH MR. THOME
A day after Mark Buehrle pitched his no-hitter, Javier Vazquez and four relievers combined on a five-hitter to defeat the Texas Rangers, 6-4. Jim Thome went 5-5 for the winners.

Wait, Billy-Ball another one of your stupid errors? I’m looking at the box score and it says Thome 0-0. That’s because Thome had five walks in five trips to the plate. Over the past two seasons (2005-2006), only Ryan Howard and Brian Giles had five walks in five plate appearances, compared to 37 players who had the more traditional 5-for-5 game during that time.

Top of the 6th
IN CASE YOU WERE CURIOUS
The company respiratory therapists know as Tyco Healthcare–covering such well known brands as Nellcor, Puritan Bennett, and Mallinckrodt–is almost Covidien Ltd., the $10 billion health care unit being spun off from Tyco International Ltd. The new name will go into effect once the company separates from parent company Tyco International. As you watch games from Fenway, you will see Covidien’s new logo on the Green Monster. According to a report in The Boston Globe, Covidien signed a multiyear deal estimated at seven figures in value to become a Boston Red Sox sponsor.

The company also will donate an undisclosed amount of money to The Jimmy Fund, the Red Sox Scholars, Community Athletic Programs, and Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury supported by the Red Sox Foundation . The deal comes as Covidien, currently Tyco’s healthcare unit, prepares to be spun out as an independent company with roughly 43,000 employees before the end of the second quarter.

I’m curious about this: Can you name the seven position players who are currently playing in their third decade?

Answer in the top of the 9th

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Nice match-up this afternoon in Wrigleyland and this evening at Fenway and at Shea.
Let’s see C.C. tonight and tomorrow we will see what you have done.
All of Aruba will be watching Sidney Ponson tonight, but nobody else.

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Cardinals Cubs 2:20 p.m. Looper (2-1) Lilly (1-1)
White Sox Tigers 7:05 p.m. Danks (0-2) Durbin (0-1)
Yankees Red Sox 7:05 p.m. Pettitte (1-0) Schilling (2-1)
Blue Jays Orioles 7:05 p.m. Burnett (1-1) Cabrera (1-1)
Nationals Marlins 7:05 p.m. Hill (1-2) Olsen (2-1)
Braves Mets 7:10 p.m. Hudson (2-0) Pelfrey (0-0)
Indians Devil Rays 7:10 p.m. Sabathia (3-0) Jackson (0-2)
Phillies Reds 7:10 p.m. Lieber (0-0) Lohse (1-0)
Astros Brewers 8:05 p.m. Albers (0-0) Sheets (1-2)
Athletics Rangers 8:05 p.m. Blanton (1-0) McCarthy (1-2)
Twins Royals 8:10 p.m. Ponson (1-1) Perez (0-2)
Padres Rockies 9:05 p.m. Young (1-1) Fogg (0-0)
Mariners Angels 10:05 p.m. Batista (1-1) Saunders (1-0)
D-Backs Giants 10:15 p.m. Davis (1-1) Ortiz (1-1)
Pirates Dodgers 10:40 p.m. Armas (0-1) Wolf (2-1)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
According to our good friend at Elias, Sean Henn (1-0) who picked up the victory in yesterday’s Yankee win by pitching one inning, following Chase Wright and Kei Igawa, Henn became the third Yankees rookie in three games to get his first major league win. That hadn’t happened since Norm Branch, Charlie Stanceu and Steve Peek did it from May 20-22, 1941.

Top of the 9th
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MRS. BALL
To my MVW (Most Valuable Wife) – you are the MVP (Most Valuable Person) in my life. Thank you for being a great mom and partner. And thank you in advance, for wiping the drool off my chin when I get really old (that won’t be for a couple a years, I hope).

I love you Maxie.

And I’m pretty fond of the rest of you out there in Billy-Ball-World.

Looking forward to seeing you on Monday and I hope I’ve added to your fun as much as you’ve added to mine.

Have a great weekend.

TRIVIA ANSWER
Can you name the seven position players who are currently playing in their third decade?
The seven position players in the majors who began their careers in 1989 or earlier, are: outfielder Steve Finley, who debuted in 1989, shortstop Omar Vizquel (1989), outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. (1989), second baseman Craig Biggio (1988), outfielder Gary Sheffield (1988), outfielder Barry B*nds (1986) and first baseman Julio Franco (1982).

Bottom of the 9th
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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.