Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-5-14

5/14/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top of the 1st
YOU MAY LEAVE
Today on Billy-Ball we shall discuss acceptable reasons for leaving a ballgame early.

Now, for those you who thought I would either have a huge blank here similar to the look on Manny Ramirez’s face when confronted with a long division problem, you are mistaken. If you thought I would type the word “never”, while I admit there was a time that I may have written that, I cannot honestly say that at this wiser juncture in my life.

You may leave, for example, if you have chosen to take your single-digit aged child to the ballpark and you have plied the kid with popcorn, crackerjacks, cotton candy, hot dogs, peanuts, soda, and ice cream throughout the game and the child is threatening, or actually, retching, you may leave; with my blessing.

If the child is an infant who does not stop crying, you may leave; with my blessing.

If you must wake up early the morning following a night game, and by early we mean before 5:15 when Billy-Ball wakes up to write his column, and you must drive a distance in excess of the length of a normal baseball game (just under three hours), you may leave, but only if you state your intentions early in the ballgame. Under those circumstances, you may leave, with my blessings.

If you are seriously ill, appendicitis ill, you may leave, with my blessings. This one is indeed a tricky one. I remember a very warm Sunday afternoon in July at Shea Stadium. I was seriously hung-over. It was a typical game in which horns were blowing, planes were flying over and over and over the ballpark, the fans were shouting “Let’s Go Mets” as if their lives depended on it. Did I mention how warm it was? Did I mention the planes? Did I mention that I did not leave? No, my friends, it is not acceptable to leave under those circumstances or because you feel fluish.

It is also not acceptable to leave because the game in which your date, who started singing camp songs as soon as the “Banner” ended and only started repeated songs in the bottom of the 8th inning, starts asking when can we go home in the bottom of the 10th. Leaving at that point is unacceptable. Homicide is permissible however.

Leaving because of traffic in the parking lot is a sin punishable by a flat tire, in said parking lot. I don’t care how many celebrity sightings you have on a daily basis Los Angeles, the 7th inning stretch is the time to get up and stretch and not get up and leave.

Leaving because public transportation will stop running at certain time, is only allowed if you plan to either go to the Mayor’s office, or the Tourist Bureau, and firmly state why your town should not be listed as a world-class city.

You see baseball is not tied to a clock, like say soccer. Even then, you don’t leave a mediocre game, that your daughter’s team is winning 4-0, and she is comfortably resting the second half, and you try to treat it like the exciting, but heartbreaking, game Vito’s girls would lose, 1-0. With some things you find reasons to stay, like a mediocre party with lousy food and self-congratulatory speeches. You don’t leave because you paid $100 for your ticket and there still is an open bar. Geez, I had a helluva weekend.

But you don’t leave a baseball game early because your team is too far ahead, or too far behind. There is no such thing. You don’t leave because no matter how many games you’ve seen, the next pitch may bring something different, something you’ve never seen before. A great play, a great hit, a great comeback. You don’t leave a baseball game early because anything might happen, and often enough something does.

Something can always happen. There may be one more food your kid hasn’t tried. There may be one more camp song that hasn’t been sung. There may be one plane that changes its flight plane and doesn’t fly over the ballpark and the others may follow. There may be one gate that suddenly opens and your drive from the parking lot is easy. And, your team may score six times in the bottom of the 9th and win 6-5 just like the Sox did at Fenway yesterday.

There are a few thousand Baltimore Orioles in the Olde Towne of Boston for whom I feel sorry for today. Watching your team blow a lead like that is painful but ultimately forgettable. The people that I really feel sorry for are the Red Sox fans who left early and did not see their team rally to victory. Now that is excruciatingly painful and not soon forgotten. They may now leave.

Top of the 2nd
A CUST-SEE
Billy-Ball loves Jack Cust of the Athletics. Cust homered for the fourth straight day and hit his sixth in seven games since joining Oakland, hopefully fans stayed to see the five-run 9th capped by Cust’s three-run drive that gave the Athletics a 10-7 victory over Cleveland. Fernando Cabrera served the walk-off after Milton Bradley tied the game with a two-run shot off Joe Borowski. Cust has six home runs in 26 at-bats this season (4.3 AB/HR) after hitting only five homers in 144 previous at-bats in the majors (one every 28.8 ABs).

The A’s have won seven straight home series against the Indians and taken 15 of 21 games from them at the Coliseum over the past five seasons.

Top of the 3rd
RANGERS ON CRUZ CONTROL
Nelson Cruz hit his first homer of the season with one out in the 9th inning yesterday to give the Texas Rangers a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Cruz, who started the day with a .190 average, homered off an 0-1 slider from Scot Shields (0-2) into the Texas bullpen. The Rangers beat the Angels for the first time this year after five straight losses. Los Angeles has won 37 of their last 53 meetings. Closer Eric Gagne tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his first win since June 10, 2005.

Top of the 4th
IT’S GETTING LATE EARLY THIS YEAR
It’s a little early to be thinking magic numbers, but with the Yankees 2-1 loss to the Mariners yesterday, they are now 8 games behind the Red Sox. Even with the Brewers loss to the Mets yesterday they still hold a 7 game edge over the Cubs and Astros and 9 over the Cardinals.

According to our friends at Elias, 36 games into the season, Boston leads the AL East by eight games over second-place Baltimore (.474) and third-place New York (.472). Only one other time in their history were the Red Sox in first place by such a large margin so few games into a season. In 1995, the year of its last division title, Boston led by an identical margin through 34 games.

The Sox and Yanks each have 126 games to go and let’s just say to win the East it will take 98 victories. To reach that the Sox need to go 73-53 the rest of the way, a .579 percentage, and the Yanks need to go 81-45 the rest of the way, .642 percentage, to tie the Sox.

Figuring it will take 90 wins to emerge victorious in the NL Central, the Brewers need to go 65-60 the rest of the way and defending World Champion Cardinals need to go 75-52 the rest of the way, to tie the Brewers

Top of the 5th
NATE ROBERTSON’S RECORD
Nate Robertson, pitching tonight at Fenway, shares the major league record for the shortest start. Robertson was ejected by umpire Tim McClelland on July 8, 2005, after one pitch, thrown behind Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays. Robertson explains, “It was just a situation where we sometimes send messages to each other. It was probably more my fault in that deal. Before sending a message or making a statement I should have waited a little longer in the game. There were no warnings in the game and I didn’t even hit anybody. It was just a deal where the umpire made a judgment call after my first pitch and I was out. It wasn’t headhunting or anything like that. It was below the waist.”

The Devil Rays’ Scott Kazmir hit Placido Polanco with his first pitch in the top half of the inning, Robertson threw his first pitch behind Carl Crawford, apparently in retaliation.

Top of the 6th
THE CYCLE
Hitting for the cycle is always an exciting feat, but it must be thrilling for a rookie only four days removed from Triple-A Fresno. Giants rookie Fred Lewis became just 22nd player in MLB history to hit for the cycle by accomplishing the feat against the Rockies. Lewis was 5-for-6 with a double, triple, a three-run home run and had four RBIs.

Lewis hit for the cycle in his 16th MLB game. That’s the earliest into a career a player has hit for the cycle since the Twins’ Gary Ward (1980) did it in his 14th game.

“This was my Mothers Day gift to mom,” the San Francisco rookie said following the Giants 15-2 victory.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Gorzelanny might thrill us,
But I’d still pick Dontrelle Willis.

Wake me up for you go-go
On the mound tonight is Dice-K Matsou-so-so

Oh, say can you see,
Tom Glavine or Jason Marquis?

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Angels Rangers 2:05 p.m. Weaver (1-3) Millwood (2-3)
Braves Nationals 7:05 p.m. Smoltz (5-1) Bergmann (0-3)
Tigers Red Sox 7:05 p.m. Robertson (3-2) Matsuzaka (4-2)
Marlins Pirates 7:05 p.m. Willis (5-2) Gorzelanny (4-2)
Brewers Phillies 7:05 p.m. Bush (3-3) Moyer (4-2)
Orioles Blue Jays 7:07 p.m. Bedard (3-2) Ohka (2-4)
Cubs Mets 7:10 p.m. Marquis (5-1) Glavine (4-1)
Reds Padres 10:05 p.m. Belisle (3-2) Maddux (2-2)
Royals Athletics 10:05 p.m. Meche (3-1) Haren (3-2)
Cardinals Dodgers 10:10 p.m. Thompson (1-0) Tomko (1-3)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Dodgers defeated Cincinnati 10-5 by scoring five times in the 8th. The Reds are now 0-6 this year in games that tied at the end of the 7th inning.

Top of the 9th
DESTINATION: TAMPA
Roger Clemens likely will make his first minor league start for the New York Yankees on Friday at Class-A Tampa. Yankees manager Joe Torre said before Sunday’s game in Seattle that Clemens will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Tampa. If all goes well, will probably make his first start on Friday against Fort Myers.

Clemens would be in line to pitch next at Double-A Trenton, against Portland on May 23, then could pitch at Triple-A Scranton against Toledo on May 28. That would put him on track to make his return to the Yankees on June 2 at Boston’s Fenway Park.

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.