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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Top of the 1st
DOES ANYBODY REALLY CARE?
The NHL season is finally over. The NBA season is finally over. NFL football camps are in pre-pre-season mode. MLB is in full swing and we are on the verge of the first day of summer. And yet, the College World Series is still going on and on and on.
How could this be happening? Who is paying attention? Why is the CWS so late?
It certainly can’t be of interest to many students. Classes finished about a month ago and a quarter of the students graduated weeks ago. Some of those former students have already been fired from their first jobs. Many colleges are getting ready to register kids for a second summer session. So, who is watching these games?
Well, there are the family members of the players. There are a few alums that are making sure that the money that they gave to the athletic department is well-spent. There is the die-hard college baseball fan (I don’t think I really know any unless I count Burt, but he probably doesn’t care anymore since his son the Hefty Lefty graduated). And then there are those who were in a coma for March Madness and are pretending that they can relive what they missed. I haven’t noticed any articles in the Wall St. Journal, however, about work being lost because worker bees are spending too much time on their jobs figuring out and them following their NCAA Baseball pools. In fact, to my knowledge the event is drowning in a sea of indifference.
The last few days, I have noticed one team that I decided I’m rooting for and that’s the team from the University of California, Irvine. How can you not root for a team whose nickname is the Anteaters? You also have to love a team that performs a variety of hat and sound effects in the dugout during games (check out the funny video with Zac Robinson aka “The Whammer” the dugout captain, found at http://ucirvinesports.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/ucir-m-basebl-body.html).
Why the Anteaters you ask, okay I was curious. Fortunately, on the school’s website is a history of “Zot” the Anteater, the school’s mascot. 1965 marked the birth of the brand new UC campus in Irvine and the administration decided to let the students choose the animal that would represent UCI. Students were to submit their candidates, and the favorites would be voted on in a campus-wide election.
According to the article from the Santa Ana Register, Schuyler Hadley Basset III, a student, wasn’t thrilled with the proposed Roadrunner, Unicorn, or Golden Bison. Inspired by the Johnny Hart comic strip, “B.C.,” he felt the Anteater had the originality and the irreverence suitable for the ideal mascot.
According to the article, “A water polo game against San Luis Obispo took place just before the mascot election. The first athletic event on the campus, 900 of the 1,500 students attended. The anteater-inspired water polo players brought their own cheerleaders, who passed roll-out party favors to the crowd and yelled “Give `em a tongue!” Shortly thereafter, students voted 56 percent to adopt the anteater.”
So, how are our Anteaters doing? Well, thank you. UC Irvine won in their final at-bat for the third time in four games, defeating Arizona State 8-7 in 10 innings last night in an elimination game at the eight-team College World Series. After beating Texas in the regionals, Wichita State in a Super Regional and Big West Conference rival Cal State Fullerton and Pac-10 champion Arizona State in the CWS, the Anteaters must defeat the defending national champion Oregon State Beavers today and again Thursday to win their bracket and reach the best-of-three championship round that starts Saturday.
UC Irvine became the first team in the 61-year history of the CWS to win extra-inning games on consecutive days. The Anteaters beat Cal State Fullerton 5-4 in 13 innings on Monday in the longest in CWS history, 5-hour, 40-minute game.
“The 2007 UC Irvine Anteaters don’t want to take their uniforms off,” coach Dave Serrano said. “It’s going to take someone to do something special to eliminate us from this.”
There are other teams remaining in the College World Series and the few of you who care already know who they are. For the rest of us, just knowing the Anteaters are there is sufficient.
Top of the 2nd
SOME MIGHTY PITCHING
* Josh Beckett pitched six scoreless innings in his 10th win, leading the Boston Red Sox past the Atlanta Braves, 4-0. “No. 10 has always been a win that’s kind of elusive for me,” said Beckett, whose career high for wins was 16 a year ago. “It usually takes me two or three starts. This time it took two.” Beckett left the game after a 48-minute rain delay.
* Brad Penny is one of three nine-game winners in the National League as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-1. Penny (9-1) allowed one run on six hits over seven innings to win his fourth straight decision. He walked one, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.12, second best in the NL. Penny, who has not lost in six starts, joined Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels and Jake Peavy as the only nine-game winners in the National League. His last defeat came May 18 at the Los Angeles Angels.
* Jake Peavy allowed three runs in six innings but picked up his ninth win as the Padres defeated the Orioles, 12-6. Peavy passed Hamels for the league lead in strikeouts with 107. Despite allowing three or more earned runs for the third time in four starts, Peavy maintained his NL lead as his ERA moved from 1.82 to 1.98. Peavy hasn’t allowed a home run in 75 innings, the top current mark in the majors.
* Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins defeated the New York Mets, 9-0. Santana pitched a four-hitter for his first shutout in nearly two years. Santana (7-6) needed only 92 pitches to toss his fourth career shutout and first since Aug. 12, 2005, at Oakland. Santana walked none and retired 15 of his final 16 batters in his sixth complete game and first since May 17, 2006, at Detroit. His only strikeout was Paul Lo Duca for the first out in the 9th. In 157 career starts, Santana has never failed to strike out a batter. He led the AL in strikeouts each of the last three seasons. Santana also doubled for his first career extra-base hit. He finished 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
* Ben Sheets allowed only six hits in a 6-2 complete game victory over San Francisco. It was his 13th career complete game. Sheets (8-3) has allowed three runs or less in 12 straight starts and went the distance for the second time this season. Prince “The Franchise” rookie Tim Lincecum could not stop the Giants’ losing streak which is now six.
Top of the 3rd
SOME MIGHTY CONCERNS
Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jason Schmidt will have shoulder surgery in Los Angeles today and his return date is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling was sent back to Boston to get an MRI exam on his right shoulder. Schilling has endured a string of injuries during his 17-year career, including shoulder problems that required surgery after the 1999 season.
Top of the 4th
JUNIOR KEEPS ROLLING
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 19th homer of the season in Cincinnati’s 5-2 victory over Oakland. It was his seventh homer in his last 12 games and the 582nd of his career. He also now has
1,652 career RBIs which ties him with Tony Perez for 18th place on the all-time list, and it was his 500th RBI in eight seasons with the Reds.
Griffey makes his first return to Seattle this weekend since leaving the Mariners after the 1999 season.
Top of the 5th
YANKEES GET CHINESE TO GO
The New York Yankees signed a pair of Chinese players, Kai Liu, a 19-year-old left-handed pitcher, and Zhenwang Zhang, a 19-year-old catcher, the first players from China signed by major league teams with the approval of the country’s baseball association.
Liu has played for Guangdong Province in China’s six-team league and has been chosen for the national team. Zhang played for the Tianjin Lions, winning league titles in 2002, 2005 and 2006, and appeared in one game at last year’s World Baseball Classic but did not have any at-bats.
They will be introduced at a Yankee Stadium news conference on July 6 and then will report to the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.
Top of the 6th
Pirates’ pitcher Ian Snell missed his pitching turn last week but insists that that he didn’t burn a finger on his pitching hand while cooking chicken, he did it while cleaning the stove. He is adamant because he doesn’t want to be added to the ever entertaining list of freak baseball injuries.
“You know how you are cleaning the stove and your finger touches a burner? I got a little bit of a blister and everyone is making a big deal out of it,” Snell said.
“People have done worse than I did.”
Thank you Ian for that segue…
* The Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz. burned his chest after ironing his shirt while he was still wearing it.
* Sammy S*sa once missed a game when he was with the Cubs after injuring his back while sneezing (after taking steroids).
* Clint Barmes, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, broke his collarbone carrying deer meat.
* Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki went on the disabled list in 2003 with badly bruised ribs, after he tripped while carrying luggage up stairs.
* Rickey Henderson missed several August games after he got frostbite from sleeping on an ice pack.
Top of the 7th
Florida Marlins at Chicago White Sox, 2:05 pm
(R) Sergio Mitre (2-3) vs. (R) Jon Garland (4-4)
Cincinnati Reds at Oakland Athletics, 3:35 pm
(R) Matt Belisle (5-5) vs. (R) Danny Haren (8-2)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Arizona Diamondbacks, 3:40 pm
(R) James Shields (6-1) vs. (R) Micah Owings (4-1)
Philadelphia Phillies at Cleveland Indians, 7:05 pm
(R) Jon Lieber (3-5) vs. (L) CC Sabathia (9-2)
Detroit Tigers at Washington Nationals, 7:05 pm
(R) Jeremy Bonderman (7-0) vs. (L) Mike Bacsik (1-4)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Toronto Blue Jays, 7:07 pm
(L) Hong-Chih Kuo (1-1) vs. (R) Roy Halladay (7-2)
Minnesota Twins at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(R) Scott Baker (1-2) vs. (L) Oliver Perez (7-5)
Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves, 7:35 pm
(R) Julian Tavarez (4-4) vs. (R) Buddy Carlyle (1-1)
Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:10 pm
(R) Gil Meche (4-6) vs. (R) Todd Wellemeyer (2-0)
Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers, 8:35 pm
(R) Jason Marquis (5-3) vs. (R) Kameron Loe (2-6)
New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies, 9:05 pm
(L) Andy Pettitte (4-4) vs. (L) Jeff Francis (6-5)
Houston Astros at LA Angels of Anaheim, 10:05 pm
(L) Wandy Rodriguez (4-6) vs. (R) Ervin Santana (5-7)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners, 10:05 pm
(L) Paul Maholm (3-9) vs. (R) Jeff Weaver (0-6)
Baltimore Orioles at San Diego Padres, 10:05 pm
(R) Jeremy Guthrie (3-1) vs. (R) Justin Germano (5-0)
San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers, 2:05 pm
(L) Barry Zito (6-7) vs. (R) Claudio Vargas (5-1)
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Since being no-hit by Justin Verlander on June 12, the Brewers have won six of their last seven and have the best mark at home in the NL at 24-12.
Top of the 9th
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
When Chad Allen hit a walkoff homer off Masato Hanada (0-1), his first home run in Japan, leading off the 10th inning as Orix rallied from an early 5-0 deficit to beat Tokyo Yakult, the headline read: “Allen’s sayonara home run lifts Orix”
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.