Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-4-5

4/5/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Top of the 1st
DEAR POP,
Well Pop, you would have been 98 today and even though you’ve been gone for over three years now we talk about you and think about you especially this time of the year. I know you always felt better when baseball season started and even though the weather has been miserable around here, baseball is in full swing.

Your Mets are doing well. I know, I know, you were always convinced the Mets would tease you to a certain point and then break your heart, but remember 1969? And ’86? They didn’t let you down then.

Hey, they finally have a genuine star third baseman. David Wright is the real deal and bears no resemblance to Cliff Cook or Hot Rod Kanehl. The Mets defeated the Cards last night 10-0 to complete an opening three game sweep. Either the Mets are good or the Cards aren’t because only one other defending World Series champion started the next season 0-3 while scoring as few as two runs in its first three games; in 1914 when you were five years old, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, who had beaten the New York Giants four games to one the previous October, dropped their first three games. They lost 8-2 and 4-0 to the Yankees, and then lost 1-0 to the Red Sox. However, the A’s went 99-50 the rest of the way and won the American League pennant.

The steroid mess is still hanging over baseball although most people don’t think about it very much unless they are talking about Barry B*nds (no, I’m still not writing his name). Now it’s so much more than steroids. It’s HGH and all sorts of chemical supplements designed to avoid detection. Everybody is brought under question whenever they do well. It really does seem that biggest abusers were relief pitchers. You know those guys who were throwing in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s then all of a sudden these guys are breaking 100 mph like they are Bob Feller or Nolan Ryan.

Remember how excited we were for Hank Aaron when he hit #715? Well, B*nds will break Aaron’s record this season and people are depressed, mixed, or oblivious. I don’t think anybody is really happy about the outcome. It looks like Bud Selig won’t show up when B*nds breaks the record. We hated the fact that Bowie Kuhn snubbed Hank when he broke the Babe’s record, so I guess until we can truly prove B*nds is a cheater then it would be hypocritical for us to not condemn Selig as well. Meanwhile, last night, B*nds hit his 735th homer in the 1st inning of the Giants’ 5-3 loss to the Padres

Speaking about Kuhn, he died a few weeks ago, but I doubt you’ll see him in your neighborhood. You know who else died? Lew Burdette. You remember him from the Milwaukee Braves don’t you? He was the MVP of the ’57 Series when they beat the Yankees.

Yeah, the Yanks are still spending money and still lead the world in payroll, but the Red Sox are catching up. They are spending plenty of money. They spent over $100 million in order to sign this pitcher from Japan and this town is going nuts over him and he hasn’t even thrown a pitch that counts yet. This is nothing like when the Giants signed Masanori Murakami; this is a major international event, Dice-K (that’s how is name is pronounced although considering you mispronounced “Seinfeld” who the hell knows how you have said his name) is on the covers of magazines and all over the television.

Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken are going to the Hall this year. It must make you feel good to see a couple of bald guys inducted. As you always said, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”

Washington is still first in war, but now last in peace and last in the National League. The players are now as bad at their game as the people in the White House are at theirs. You predicted this, but you would never have imagined it would be this bad.

On a brighter note, Maxie is doing great and you would be so proud of the girls. Elizabeth is really doing well at MSNBC.com and will be closing on a condo in Seattle next week, a day after her birthday. I know its 3,000 miles away but she loves it there and has great friends. Jennifer is a stellar student and a stellar athlete. She is simply a star and is on her way to being a star in high school next year. As Mom would say, she is “simply smashing.” Don’t forget to give Mom our best if you can get a word in edgewise.

I have to go, I still have Billy-Ball to write. Yes, I’m still writing it and my readers are better than ever. They e-mail, they send me stuff, they are terrific and I love writing for them. In addition, if it weren’t for Billy-Ball I would never have had the opportunity to write a book. I’m writing it with my good friend Jim Kaplan, and it’s called, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finale)” and it will be published by ACTA Sports, later this year.

Anyhow, the point of this letter is to tell you that none of this would have been possible if you hadn’t shared with me your love and passion for baseball. It brings me great pleasure and I know that always made you feel good.

Happy birthday, Pop. we love you and I’ll write you again next year.

Billy

Top of the 2nd
I’VE GOT MY MLB
Major League Baseball reached a long-term agreement with iN Demand yesterday, meaning baseball fans across the country will now have access to out-of-market games without having to purchase DirecTV. M.L.B. and InDemand , a consortium that is owned by the cable weasels Comcast, Time Warner and Cox, agreed last night to restore Extra Innings swiftly to their systems as a free preview through sometime next week, after which it will cost a discounted $159 for a short period. InDemand will make the package available today to other cable operators like Cablevision and Charter, who must make individual deals.

The Dish Network, DirecTV’s satellite rival, has not made a deal. “No one is locked out,” said Tim Brosnan, an executive vice president of M.L.B. But Dish said in a statement that baseball’s terms were too costly and that it was not optimistic that it could reach a fair deal. The crucial part of the negotiations for baseball was InDemand’s agreement to carry the MLB Channel, which is to make its debut in 2009 (“The Billy-Ball Show”?).

M.L.B. will receive an average of $100 million a year through 2013 for the Extra Innings rights from DirecTV and cable operators. The size of their yearly payments will be reduced if Dish negotiates its own deal. Baseball will benefit further from its majority share of the estimated $120 million in annual gross (their word not mine) subscriber fees that the channel will generate.

“Our chief goal throughout the process was to ensure that fans would have access to as many baseball games and as much baseball coverage as possible,” said Bob DuPuy, MLB’s president and chief operating officer. “With this agreement, the MLB Channel will launch with an unprecedented platform.”

DuPuy is French for “smarmy.”

Top of the 3rd
TRANS FATS ARE THE LEAST OF THE MARINER’S PROBLEMS
Any thoughts of a Mariners sweep of the A’s quickly ended last night when Miguel Batista gave up five runs in the 2nd inning. Batista surrendered 10 hits, eight runs, two balks, two walks and hit a batter in just just 4 2/3 innings, not exactly what the Mariners had in mind when they acquired a man touted as a reliable innings-eater.

And speaking about eating, Safeco Field is the latest major venue to move toward eliminating the artery-clogging artificial trans fats. Centerplate Inc., which handles concessions and catering at the ballpark, says artificial trans fats are all but gone from about 80 percent of all the food sold at Safeco, from the upper deck to the Diamond Club.

However, the fabulous Ivar’s and Kidd Valley restaurants, which are operated by the same company, have eliminated man-made trans fats from the regular eateries in the chains but haven’t had the same luck replacing the trans-fatty oils in their ballpark fryers.

“It smokes more; it turns brown quicker,” good Friend of Billy-Ball and Ivar’s President Bob Donegan said of the replacement oils the company has tried. “It scorches the food quicker, and it can’t be cleaned up by filtering the way our regular oil could.” Donegan said he hopes to find a solution soon.

Now as I have explained before I am Billy-Ball not Will-Power and one of the reasons is when it when it comes to the fabulous fish, garlic fries and other items from Ivar’s and Kidd Valley’s five Safeco locations I say throw caution to the wind – that food is soooooooo worth it!

Top of the 4th
RIPKEN PITCHES TOO
Cal Ripken, Jr. is scheduled to return to QVC TV tonight at 10 PM (ET). In conjunction with sports memorabilia manufacturer IronClad Authentics, LLC, Ripken offers shoppers signed baseballs, jerseys, trading cards and limited-edition collectibles in anticipation of his July 29 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cal Ripken, Jr. memorabilia, as well as other baseball collectibles, are available through QVC at 800.345.1515 or http://www.QVC.com while supplies last. Then I presume he will start signing anything he can get his hands on.

Top of the 5th
THE B*NDS CALENDAR
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle shares this brilliant insight:
“We can already give you the days on which he (B*nds) won’t hit record No. 756: April 9 through 17, April 23 through 29, May 10 through 20, May 24, May 28 through June 7, June 14 through 21, June 28, July 2 through 12, July 16 through 22, July 30 through Aug. 5, Aug. 13 through 20, Aug. 30 through Sept. 6, Sept. 13 through 19, and any day after Sept. 26. These dates cover the days in which the Giants either do not play at home, or at all, and you may rest assured that he will not be wasting 756 on people who might boo him.”

Ratto adds, “His knees will act up right around July 3, and depending on the All-Star Game voting, he will either be back on the 9th or the 13th. He will also have an undisclosed muscle pull (undisclosed because Major League Baseball now controls all medical information about the players, a development the players will rue in good time) early in August that might cost him the Dodgers and Padres road series, but he will try to come back in time for the softer and gooier Nationals and Pirates.”

Top of the 6th
DOING THE MATH
Ratto helps us with the math as to when Barry B*nds is going to hit his momentous 22nd home run of the season. But here’s what the numbers say, using his season averages after 2001, when he hit 73 homers, and excluding 2005, when he was injured. This does not take into account the possibility he will be indicted and suspended or that some pitcher will throw at his knees and make contact.

GAMES PLAYED
137.5
He appeared in no fewer than 130 in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.
AT-BATS
383.3
Walks limit his number of at-bats despite playing in nearly 85 percent of the games.
HOME RUNS
40.5
He hit 45 or more each season during the 02-04 stretch, but hit only 26 last year while dealing with sore legs.
AT-BATS PER HOMER
9.46
During our sample seasons, Bonds hit one home run every 9.46 at-bats. At that pace, he would need 209 at-bats to hit the record-breaker.
AT-BATS PER GAME
2.79
At that pace, Bonds would need 75 games played to reach 209 at-bats.
PERCENT OF TEAM GAMES
84.9
At that pace, Bonds’ 75th game played would be the Giants’ 89th game, which is their first after the All-Star break.
RECORD HOMER
July 13 at AT&T against the Dodgers in a 7:15 p.m. game on FSN

Top of the 7th
TODAY’S PROBABLE PITCHERS

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Cubs Reds 12:35 p.m. Marquis (0-0) Lohse (0-0)
Blue Jays Tigers 1:05 p.m. Chacin (0-0) Verlander (0-0)
Indians White Sox 2:05 p.m. Sowers (0-0) Buehrle (0-0)
Red Sox Royals 2:10 p.m. Matsuzaka (0-0) Greinke (0-0)
Braves Phillies 3:05 p.m. James (0-0) Eaton (0-0)
D-Backs Nationals 7:05 p.m. Gonzalez (0-0) Bergmann (0-0)
Devil Rays Yankees 7:05 p.m. Seo (0-0) Pettitte (0-0)
Athletics Angels 10:05 p.m. Gaudin (0-0) Saunders (0-0)
Padres Giants 10:15 p.m. Hensley (0-0) Morris (0-0)

Faster than a speeding bullet!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
LOOK! Up on the mound!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s DAISUKE MATSUZAKA!
Yes, it’s Daisuke Matsuzaka, strange visitor from another country who came to MLB
with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men!
Daisuke Matsuzaka! Who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands;
And who, disguised as Dice-K,
Mild-mannered pitcher for the pretty good Boston Red Sox,
fights a never-ending battle for TRUTH, JUSTICE and the JAPANESE-AMERICAN WAY!
And now the exciting opening episode in THE ADVENTURES OF MATSUZAKA!!!

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Cardinals are 3-11 in their last 14 regular-season games. In between last year’s end and this year’s start, they were 12-4 in the playoffs.

Top of the 9th
PICTURE THIS
Will someone please translate for me?
http://todayspictures.slate.com/ballgames/2.html

Thanks for the tip E-Man.

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.