Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-4-25

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Top of the 1st
Today’s Billy-Ball opening column is the indulgence of a person having a bully pulpit, so if the nature of this piece is offensive to you in that I am using this opportunity to write to my World, not directly about baseball, I apologize. But today, I want to write about baseball fan who I knew, all too briefly.

You know how they say when you marry someone you don’t just marry that person, but you marry their family as well? That, of course, was true for me and Mrs. Ball as well. But, in addition to marrying Maxie’s family I got a whole new set of friends. And she is indeed to close to them. I remember two things happened after I asked Max to marry me, after she said “yes” (“your honor I swear there was no coercion involved.”), the second thing was her asking if she could still go on her summer weekend away with her friend Amy.

Amy, a remarkable woman in her own right, and Max have been close friends since camp (please I beg you, don’t get me or any of the other husbands started on “the camp girls”). Soon after I got to know Amy, Max told me about her mother. Harriet was a beautiful woman, a model in fact, who before she was 40 was stricken with MS.

According to various websites, multiple sclerosis, often referred to as `MS’, is considered to be an autoimmune disease that mistakenly attacks the central nervous system. Most people who have multiple sclerosis can expect to live to a normal, or nearly normal, age. Only a minority of sufferers actually develop any serious disability as a result of having the disease. Typically multiple sclerosis is first diagnosed in people between the ages of twenty and forty five, although there have been cases of very young children and very old people also developing the disorder. MS is a debilitating disease which often causes people to steadily encounter more problems with day to day life as the time goes on. The early symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary greatly, anywhere from eye sight problems to slurred speech to pins and needles. Multiple sclerosis symptoms vary greatly between sufferers but characteristically, the symptoms tend to occur then go away and then come back again.

Over time some people may develop paralysis or severe motor disabilities. Harriet was one of those people. When I met Harriet, she was in a nursing home, the youngest person there by about twenty years. When she first entered a nursing home she probably was the youngest by thirty years. Times were very different then.

Harriet was confined to wheelchair and her speech was so mangled it was always difficult to understand her. That didn’t bother me, it gave me more time to talk. It didn’t bother her either, Harriet loved to hear about the Red Sox and loved to laugh. I tried to help in both categories. It was a pleasure; she was a pleasure.

Fifteen years ago, Harriet passed away suffering from the pneumonia that was too strong for her weakened MS body. A day or two before she passed, we saw her in the hospital, too weak to talk, she still had the strength to laugh. She enjoyed her life and loved her daughter to the end.

In the years since Harriet was afflicted, as public awareness and understanding of this disease has increased, so has the understanding and the means of treating MS. To support these efforts, the Red Sox sponsors a Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Read-A-Thon. The David Wright Foundation, a charitable, tax exempt organization founded in 2005 by David Wright of the New York Mets, sole purpose and mission is to provide financial support and raise awareness for those in need and to financially support other charitable organizations. The foundation pays special attention to Multiple Sclerosis and children’s causes. Last year, Tigers’ pitcher and Roberto Clemente Award nominee Mike Maroth organized and was the public face for a fundraiser to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Michigan, trying to help fund the effort to tackle the disease that affects his father.

In addition, this year, like every year Max and her friends form a team and participate in the MS Walk in Marblehead in order to raise awareness and funds to support those who have MS and to help find ways of treating and curing MS. This year, on the 15th anniversary of her death, we are all making a particularly strong effort to raise money in her memory.

If you would like to make a tax-deductable contribution:

1. On-line:

2. Or you can write a check payable to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and mail it directly to Kathryn Spencer c/o National MS Society, Central New England Chapter, 101A First Avenue, Suite 6, Waltham, MA 02451-4990. Please make sure to note “Team Harriet” on the check.

Thank you for indulging me in this moment of reflection and solicitation.

Billy-Ball and baseball follows.

Top of the 2nd
Great game at Shea last night. Colorado’s Aaron Cook and Orlando Hernandez went mano a mano for seven innings and the result was goose eggs all around. Then the relievers took over.

Rockies rookie Troy Tulowitzki broke the scoreless tie with a two-out RBI triple in the 10th off Mets’ closer Billy Wagner. Rockies closer Brian Fuentes retired his first two batters in the bottom half of the 10th and was one strike from his fifth save when Damion Easley hit his fourth career pinch-hit homer. It was the first home run by a Mets pinch-hitter this season.

It stayed 1-1 until the bottom of the 12th when Shawn Green lead off with a walk from Ryan Speier. He advanced on Jose Valentin’s sacrifice and moved to third on a balk when Speier stopped in the middle of his delivery. After pinch-hitter David Newhan struck out, Jose Reyes was intentionally walked, and Endy Chavez came to the plate. Chavez dragged a beautiful bunt to the right side. Speier tried to shovel the ball to first, but the speedy Chavez beat it out easily and raised his arms as he crossed the bag.

Top of the 3rd
When David Wells and Randy Johnson faced off against each other last night, their combined age was 86. It showed.

David Wells outlasted fellow 43-year-old Randy Johnson, leading the San Diego Padres over Arizona 10-5. Six months after back surgery, Johnson (0-1) gave up six runs and six hits in five innings against San Diego, his first start for the Diamondbacks since 2004. The Big Unit allowed two home runs and two doubles. He walked four, two intentionally, hit two batters and struck out seven. Wells gave up five runs in five innings.

Arizona (10-11) lost its fifth straight and dropped below .500 for the first time since April 4. The Diamondbacks are 4-0 against Washington and 6-11 against everyone else, including 4-10 against the NL West.

Top of the 4th
First, Dontrelle Willis delivered Monday night, pitching 6.2 innings as the Marlins defeated the Braves and Dontrelle became the first four game winner. Then, Natalee Willis delivered last evening giving birth to a 6-pound, 6-ounce girl.

Adrianna Rose and her mother were doing fine, the team said.

Top of the 5th
Someday, baseball historians are going to look back on the 1997 Seattle Mariners and see on this one team, three first-ballot Hall of Famers and no World Series title.

Randy Johnson, we’ve already addressed.

Ken Griffey Jr., hit his 564th career home run last night as the Reds defeated the Cardinals, 10-3. Griffey entered the game last night with no homers and seven RBI in 51 at-bats, and was limited to one pinch-hit appearance the last four games due to diverticulitis, an inflammation of the colon. He grounded out and walked his first two at-bats before hitting a two-run shot in the fifth, which gave him sole possession of 10th place on the all-time home run list, and knocked Reggie Jackson out of the top 10 for the first time since June 17, 1985. According to our friends at Elias on that date, the top 10 was:
Hank Aaron 755
Babe Ruth 714
Willie Mays 660
Frank Robinson 586
Harmon Killebrew 573
Mickey Mantle 536
Jimmie Foxx 534
Ted Williams 521
Ernie Banks 512
Eddie Mathews 512

On June 18, 1985, Reggie hit his 512th to move into a tie for ninth place. He hit number 513 on June 20 to take sole possession of ninth place and he had been in the top 10 until Tuesday night.

The Cardinals are now 1-7 at home this season and the game was summed up nicely by Tony LaRussa who said, “What did we do worse today, hit or pitch?”

The third HOFer is Alex Rodriguez, who had a tough night also going -3 ending his 23-game hitting streak as the Yanks lost to the Jays, 6-4. The Yankees went 0-5 on a trip that began with three losses at Boston, their longest losing streak since a six-game slide from May 28 to June 3, 2005.

Meanwhile, the Mariners were rained out last night in Texas and had their sixth game of the season postponed. Maybe they can make these games up while the other teams are playing in the post-season.

Top of the 6th
Billy-Ball has more than once mentioned the brilliance of David Halberstam, so the news of his death is truly felt in this library.

Like Halberstam, Bob Ryan is a gifted writer, who was friends with Halberstam, and his homage to Halberstam in today’s Boston Globe is better, by leaps and bounds, than anything I could attempt to write.

If you want to sample Halberstam, I loved “October 1964”. It was enlightening and inspirational.

Top of the 7th
Good matchup at Wrigley today.
And another good one in Florida.
The game to watch tonight is Jake Peavy against Brandon Webb.

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Rockies Mets 1:10 p.m. Fogg (0-1) Pelfrey (0-1)
Brewers Cubs 2:20 p.m. Sheets (1-2) Lilly (1-2)
Braves Marlins 7:05 p.m. Hudson (3-0) Olsen (2-1)
Red Sox Orioles 7:05 p.m. Schilling (2-1) Cabrera (1-1)
Astros Pirates 7:05 p.m. Albers (0-0) Duke (1-2)
Rangers Indians 7:05 p.m. Padilla (0-3) Sabathia (3-0)
Blue Jays Yankees 7:05 p.m. Burnett (1-1) Pettitte (1-0)
Nationals Phillies 7:05 p.m. Patterson (0-3) Lieber (0-0)
Reds Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Arroyo (0-2) Looper (3-1)
Royals Twins 8:10 p.m. Perez (1-2) Ponson (1-2)
Tigers White Sox 8:11 p.m. Durbin (0-1) Danks (0-2)
Padres D-Backs 9:40 p.m. Peavy (3-0) Webb (1-1)
Mariners Athletics 10:05 p.m. Washburn (0-2) Blanton (2-0)
Devil Rays Angels 10:05 p.m. Jackson (0-2) Lackey (2-2)
Giants Dodgers 10:10 p.m. Lowry (1-2) Wolf (3-1)

Top of the 8th
When Dave Roberts singled in the 1st inning of the Giants 5-3 victory over the Dodgers, it was his first hit in four games. He went hitless in 10 at-bats in the previous three. When he homered in the 5th it ended a streak of 398 at-bats without a homer. According to our friends at Elias, the only active non-pitchers with longer current droughts are Jason Tyner (who has never hit a home run in 1,091 career at-bats) and Jason Kendall (none in last 484 at-bats).

Top of the 9th
Last but not least, or should I say last in the AL East – the New York Yankees.

The Devil Rays 6-4 win over the Yankees dropped New York into last place in the American League East with an 8-11 record. According to our friends at Elias, the Yankees have been alone in last place this many games into a season only once previously in Joe Torre’s reign (which began in 1996). They were also 8-11, in last place in the East, through the games of April 21, 1997. (That was the only season the Yankees did not finish in first place in the division under Torre.)

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports,,, 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.