Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-4-24

4/24/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top of the 1st
DISCOVERY IS THE FIRST STEP
I had put in at least six hours on Saturday and on Sunday, researching and writing the book. The Yankees/Red Sox and Braves and Mets were on the radio, on my television, coming from the computer. Then I went to the late game Sunday evening at Fenway.

By the time I got home, I was tired, but wired. It took me until after one to get to sleep. Then I was up around 5:30 Monday morning, researching back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers and banging out Billy-Ball. While the words were slow, the typos came fast and furious. I had trouble throughout the day getting back to the keyboard. I was so tired, so cranky, so simply not in the mood. I also was a little scared – was I tormented from restless leg syndrome and I didn’t know it?

Then it dawned on me. I was suffering from “letdown.” Yes, my friends, I had to admit it, “Hi, my name is Billy-Ball and I’m a letdownaholic.”

Are there support groups for people suffering from letdown?

Do I suffer from letdown all the time, or had I simply binged this past weekend and then felt the Monday letdown?

Is this normal? Am I the only one? Am I?

So many questions, so few answers, so this morning I started looking for answers. I Googled the news for “letdown” and it was all over the place. Right there in the headline of Boris’ obit, “Letdown followed Yeltsin’s takedown of Soviet regime.”

In economic news, “The questions now before us concern world and domestic stock funds. Are the world funds setting up for a letdown after all the recent enthusiasm investors have shown for them?”

In car reviews like in describing the 2007 BMW 130i M Sport, “Even more impressive is the steering–it’s accurate and linear, and it communicates exactly what the little BMW is doing at all times. The only letdown is the lack of a limited-slip differential.” Oh my, will I start suffering from limited-slip differential, and will I know it if I have it?

It happens in tennis, “Even with the Williams sisters back on the team, this weekend’s U.S. Fed Cup matchup is a letdown.” And this is against Belgium, no less!

In the National Lacrosse League, “Roughnecks Head Coach Jeff Dowling, who doesn’t know yet if he’ll return next season, had this to say about his team’s performance, “We played well in spurts,” Dowling told the Calgary Sun. “But every facet of our game was a major letdown at different points of the game.”

The problem is global – check out this Malaysian field hockey news, “Datuk Taha from Gemencheh, were another letdown despite having shown some promise in the previous years and with an artificial pitch at their school. They will be relegated to Division Two after losing all eight matches.”

But locally, the problem was pervasive, but even sadder were the denials. Here’s what the AP wrote, “Frank Thomas hit his 490th homer, a go-ahead, two-run drive off Tim Wakefield in the sixth inning that led Toronto to a 7-3 victory Monday night over a Red Sox team that lacked the power and passion that produced a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

“It just seemed like it was a lethargic day,” Boston’s Doug Mirabelli said. “There wasn’t the energy that we’ve had.”

Boston reliever Mike Timlin disagreed that the 7-6 win over the Yankees on Sunday night contributed to a letdown.

“To me, that’s just an excuse,” he said. “We just got beat.”

Sure Mike, sure.

Phil O’Neill, staff reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported this pre-game, “Manager Terry Francona said there would be no letdown on Boston’s part. “Admittedly, there was a lot of electricity in the ballpark, but you can’t let yourself get too caught up in it. The games all mean the same in the standings.”

Sure Terry, sure.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, must be one of us. Here’s what he said in today’s Boston Globe, “Gibbons said his players ate up the Fenway atmosphere, and those in the Blue Jays room acknowledged the Red Sox might have been feeling a little bit of a letdown after beating New York three in a row. Whatever the reason, they’ll take it.”

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe clearly has been there, “It’s not pro football, where every Sunday means something and every game could have ramifications on winning a division or making the playoffs. There’s no crying in baseball, but it’s OK to admit that you suffered a letdown after wiping the floor with the New York Yankees over the previous three games.”

Nick, talk to me,

“The emotion of those games is through the roof for players, management, manager, coaches, you name it. They build themselves into a frenzy and the release is three wins. Euphoria. After you beat the Yankees in April, you’re telling your buddy you’re going to win it all. You feel great.”

Tell me more, Nick, more…”You can’t pull that emotion out of your back pocket every day.

You’re human.

Then comes the hangover.

Toronto came to town last night, and all of a sudden the electric atmosphere around the ballpark was flickering. The spark of the previous three games was gone. Doesn’t mean it won’t come back tonight or in Baltimore tomorrow night or in New York over the weekend. But you could feel it as early as 3:30 p.m., when the clubhouse opened to the media. Something was missing.”

He even found a “brother” in the clubhouse, “”It was a lethargic day,” said a very frank Doug Mirabelli, who went 2 for 3. “It didn’t feel like we had the energy we had against New York. It didn’t seem like we had anything going. Sometimes you don’t have it every single day. A little blah today.”

And this is how Cafardo testified at the end of his piece, “Meanwhile in Tampa Bay, the Yankees were tripping over themselves again. Alex Rodriguez hit two more homers and they still lost, 10-8. The Orioles, who swept the Blue Jays over the weekend, took it on the chin against the Oakland A’s. Other teams didn’t have “it,” either.

Take a deep breath and repeat: “We suffered a letdown.” It’s not that hard to admit.”

I admit it. I, too, suffered a letdown.

I write this column with two hopes, one, that discovery is the first step to recovery. The second, and equally important, I write this to help any of you who are reading this can realize that if you are a letdownaholic, you are not alone. We are in this together. We will fight this and there will be no letdown.

Bottom of the 1st
YOU CAN HELP LETDOWNAHOLICS
Remember when you make a purchase from Amazon.com, enter through the Amazon portal on www.billy-ball.com. The money raised through this effort will lift the spirits of a letdownaholic somewhere.

Top of the 2nd
TIGERS GROWL
The Tigers bats woke up last night as they put together 12 hits in a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Curtis Granderson had three hits, including a leadoff home run for the Tigers, while Magglio Ordonez added two doubles and a single. Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez each had two singles and two RBIs. Gary Sheffield went 2-4 to boost his average to .143.

Jered Weaver (0-2) threw 70 pitches in 1 2/3 innings and retired only five of the 14 batters he faced in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He was charged with seven runs, five earned and seven hits.

In case you missed it, older brother Jeff Weaver faced the Angels on Sunday and gave up three runs and seven hits over three innings against his former team. Weaver actually lowered his ERA from 15.75 to 13.91 with this effort.

Top of the 3rd
STOP HITTING, A-ROD
Billy-Ball has a theory: Yankee pitchers, over the past few years have gotten used to the fact that Alex Rodriguez has not performed well in the clutch, consequently they had to pitch extra hard in order to win. This season A-Rod is hitting everything and the Yankee pitchers are simply too relaxed.

Take last night in Tampa Bay, the Yanks, having lost three straight in Boston, were thought to be ready to take out their frustrations on the D-Rays. Last night, A-Rod tied the major league record for home runs in April, hitting his 13th and 14th in a 10-8 loss to the Devil Rays. A-Rod, went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .400, He also had three RBI and four runs scored. He has an 18 game hitting streak this season and has hit in 23 in a row dating to last September. His second homer of the night gave him 34 RBI and tied the mark for homers in April set by Albert Pujols in 2006 and broke the AL mark of 13 held by Ken Griffey Jr.

On the other hand, the Yankees team ERA is now 4.67 and their bullpen appears to be fried already even before they record their first save of the season.

The Yankees appear to be pressing the panic button by bringing up their start prospect Phillip Hughes to start on Thursday. My bet is that Brian Cashman is suffering speeddialiosis after repeatedly calling Roger Clemens’ agents.

Rodriguez is on pace for 126 home runs and 306 runs batted in. The Yankees are on pace for 90 losses.

Top of the 4th
BUEHRLE IS NO VANDY
Mark Buehrle started for the White Sox at Kansas City in his first appearance since throwing a no-hitter against the Rangers. Buehrle allowed five hits in seven innings, leading the Chicago White Sox over the Kansas City Royals 7-4 Esteban German ended Buehrle’s no-hit bid with a two-out double in the 2nd. According to our friends at Elias, none of the last 37 pitchers to throw a no-hitter got through the first three innings of their next outing without allowing a hit.

The last pitcher to do so was Mike Scott, who threw a no-hitter against the Giants on Sept. 25, 1986 and took another no-hit bid vs. San Francisco to the seventh inning seven days later. Will Clark got the hit that spoiled Scott’s shot at history.

Top of the 5th
THE SONG OF THE DAY
We are sending this shout out to Bronx resident Frank Martinez. Frank, Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light” is dedicated to you.

It seems that Friday night at Shea Stadium, in the 8th inning Frank shined a high-powered flashlight on Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson and shortstop Edgar Renteria, who complained to umpire Paul Emmel. Martinez was ejected and arrested and charged with interference with a sporting event and reckless endangerment in Queens Criminal Court. Frank pled, “Not Guilty ” and his lawyer said his client was using a simple flashlight in a misguided bid to fire up Mets fans. Martinez faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Martinez’s brother and sister-in-law said they were surprised to hear about his arrest. “Is he crazy?” asked Minerva Martinez, 49, to Newsday. “That don’t sound right.”

“Blinded by the light.
Revved up like a deuce,
another runner in the night.”

That don’t sound right either.

Top of the 6th
TRIPLE PLAY
Ecause I was suffering from letdown yesterday, I didn’t give props to the Philadelphia Phillies who pulled off the first triple play in the major leagues this season when they turned the Reds’ David Ross grounder into a 5-4-3 triple play in the 5th inning at Great American Ball Park.
Josh Hamilton was on second and Edwin Encarnacion was on first when Ross came up to face Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. He hit a groundball to Phillies third baseman Abraham Nunez, who stepped on the bag to force out Hamilton and then threw to second baseman Chase Utley. Utley touched the bag for the second out and his relay to first beat Ross.

“The triple play was just what the doctor ordered,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Actually Charlie, the win last night over the Astros in which the Phillies, pounded out 20 hits (Chris Sampson allowed 14 hits in four innings for the Astros) and won their third straight following a 4-11 start, was really good. But what the doctor ordered, Charlie, was Zoloft. Make sure you take it.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Mariners Rangers 2:05 p.m. Washburn (0-2) Padilla (0-3)
Athletics Orioles 3:05 p.m. Braden (0-0) Guthrie (1-0)
Tigers Angels 3:35 p.m. Bonderman (0-0) Escobar (1-1)
Braves Marlins 7:05 p.m. Redman (0-3) Vanden Hurk (0-1)
Astros Pirates 7:05 p.m. Williams (0-2) Maholm (0-2)
Blue Jays Red Sox 7:05 p.m. Halladay (2-0) Tavarez (0-1)
Nationals Phillies 7:05 p.m. Bergmann (0-1) Moyer (2-1)
Rockies Mets 7:10 p.m. Cook (0-1) Hernandez (2-1)
Yankees Devil Rays 7:10 p.m. Wang (0-0) Kazmir (1-1)
Brewers Cubs 8:05 p.m. Suppan (2-2) Hill (3-0)
White Sox Royals 8:10 p.m. Vazquez (2-0) Bannister (0-0)
Reds Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Harang (2-0) Wells (1-3)
Indians Twins 8:10 p.m. Carmona (0-1) Santana (3-1)
Padres D-Backs 9:40 p.m. Wells (0-1) Johnson (0-0)
Giants Dodgers 10:10 p.m. Morris (2-0) Lowe (2-2)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Matt Holliday is one hot hitter. He had three hits in the Rockies 6-1 loss at Shea Stadium last night, his third straight three-hit game. Holliday is now hitting an even .400.

Top of the 9th
WHO’S NOT
Braves outfielder Ryan Langerhans is 2-for-31 (.065) at the plate this season, but manager Bobby Cox doesn’t want to give up on him. “You stay longer with good defensive players. He’s great,” Cox said. “He’s so good defensively it’s hard to take him out.”

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.