Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-6-8

6/8/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Top of the 1st
EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
It was the 8th inning of Curt Schilling’s near no-hitter yesterday when my buddy Josh Touster called. While no Felix Unger, Josh is a gifted photographer (baseball a specialty), and he understood when I said I couldn’t talk at that moment. He also understood when right after the game I was in a flurry of activities that our conversation would have to be put off again. He did squeeze something in before he signed off. He said, “Nine innings, 27 outs; it just couldn’t be more perfect. Anything less, simply doesn’t work.”

Of course, Josh was right. Being a photographer, he saw the big picture. That’s what separates the rest of us from the people really know how to take pictures. We see the same thing a photographer sees but they see the photograph.

I think that is a lot like how a baseball fan sees the game. We see the beauty, the simplicity, the magic – we see the intricacies, the subtleties, and the complexities. We see the freedom of game without time constraints, yet we also see the metaphorical “clock” running out. We see athleticism and the unleashing of roar power. We see both strength and fragility. We see the patterns of the game and the unique possibilities of every pitch. We see the present, look to the future, and treasure the past.

I have so many more weaknesses than I have strengths, but on the plus side, I can always claim to be a baseball fan. That’s a good thing. That’s why I’m no phased when reading the vitriol spewed by Alessandra Stanley, who clearly hates her job reviewing television for the New York Times. Today, she wrote, “Baseball inspires some writers to absurd heights of pretension and religious metaphor.”

Rejoice in the fact that you too are a baseball fan and that you can see the perfection of 90 feet; the challenge of 60 feet and 6 inches; the beauty of 9 innings; and that you can appreciate the agony and the joy of the 27th out.

Have a great weekend.

Top of the 2nd
IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR BASEBALL
Lots of great baseball yesterday – here are some quickies:
* As you already know, Curt Schilling pitched the game of his career losing a no-hitter with two down in the 9th in the Red Sox, 1-0 win over Oakland. The Sox run came on a 1st inning homer from David Ortiz who had his biggest surprise in the 9th inning, when he first realized that Schilling was pitching a no-hitter. “How many people were here in the stadium?” said Alex Cora, who caught the final out. “Thirty [thousand]-something, plus 25 [Athletics], plus 24 [Red Sox]. He was the only guy not watching the game.” I think that you can mark that down as David being Manny.
* At least the Sox hung on to win in the 9th which is more than the Los Angeles Dodgers can say. Russell Branyan drew a bases-loaded walk with one out in the 9th to complete a five-run rally as the Padres staggered the Dodgers 6-5 to finish a three-game sweep. The Padres trailed 5-1 and had only four hits going into the 9th but got five hits and tied the game against Jonathan Broxton (2-2) before making their first out. The Padres have won their five straight and won for the 10th time in 12 games.
* Losing a five run 9th inning lead is even more than the Houston Astros can say, they only lost a three run lead. Troy Tulowitzki singled home the winning run to cap a three-run Rockies rally in the 9th that led Colorado over the Houston Astros, 7-6.
* Rich Hill and the Chicago Cubs won for the fourth time in five games as they defeated Atlanta, 2-1. Hill matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, giving up three hits in eight innings. Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 13 tries.
* Joe Torre picked up his 2,000th managerial victory, 10-3, against the Chicago White Sox. He was helped by a tie-breaking, eighth-inning, two-run double by Abreu, who is batting .480 in June. “I usually give lineup cards out,” Torre said in his office after the game. “I keep this one.”
* Curtis Granderson had two triples and three RBI, and Gary Sheffield homered to ignite a six-run 3rd to lift the Tigers past the simply awful Texas Rangers, 11-4. Sammy Sosa was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and is now 7-of-48 with 16 strikeouts since hitting his 598th homer on May 22.
* The Mets, enduring their longest losing streak of the season, dropped their fourth consecutive game last night, a 6-3 defeat in 10 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea. The Mets were swept in a series for the first time this season as Billy Wagner allowed a tying home run to Pat Burrell in the 9th. The Mets scored all their runs in the 6th when Carlos Delgado, David Wright and Paul Lo Duca hit successive home runs off Cole Hamels, the Phillies’ starter. It was the first time the Mets had three consecutive home runs since April 17, 1989, also against the Phillies. Those home runs were hit by Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Hernandez.
* Fausto Carmona won his seventh consecutive decision as Cleveland improved to 21-7 at home as the Indians defeated the Royals, 6-3. Carmona (7-1) has a 2.77 earned run average in nine starts since April 13
* And in the big one, Jason Bay led off the 9th inning with a tiebreaking, opposite-field homer off Chad Cordero, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Nationals, 3-2.

Top of the 3rd
AAH, TO BE A PITCHER, AAH TO BE A LEFTY
Left-handed pitcher David Price of Vanderbilt, was the No. 1pick in the draft yesterday, taken by Tampa Bay. Seven of the 30 players chosen in the first round were left-handed pitchers, and 10 more were righties. Five players in the first round were represented by Scott Boras.

Price, according to a scouting report on mlb.com, has a fastball that reaches 95 miles an hour to go with a good slider and a change of pace that is above average. He is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound college junior who will turn 22 on Aug. 26.

The San Francisco Giants were the only team with three first-round picks and used all three on high school players.

The draft began in 1965 and the first player ever drafted was Rick Monday out of Arizona State University by the Athletics. In 1966 the Mets selected Steve Chilcott as the No. 1 overall selection, he never played in the majors. The second choice, Reggie Jackson, went on to a Hall of Fame career.

Some other first overall picks that did succeeded were Ken Griffey Jr. by the Mariners in 1987, Chipper Jones by the Braves in 1990 and Alex Rodriguez by the Mariners in 1993.

Mike Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round in 1988 by the Dodgers. This could not even happen now as the draft has been limited to 50 rounds

Top of the 4th
WILL DICE-K?
In anticipation of Daisuke Matsuzaka versus Randy Johnson this weekend in Arizona, I can tell you that ever since Nippon Professional Baseball began interleague play in 2005 Dice-K has batted every time he started in a Central League park.

In ’05 he was 1-for-10 at the plate (.100) and in ’06 he was 3-for-9 with 1 homer and 3 RBIs (.333). He hit his home run against former major leaguer Darwin Cubillan (he appeared in 56 games for Toronto, Texas, Montreal and Baltimore) of Hanshin (scoring two) on June 9, 2006, against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium during a complete game in which he also struck out 14 batters.

He hit an RBI double against the Yokohama BayStars on May 19, 2006 which resulted in his for third RBI in 2006.

He had a .211 career average in Japan.

Top of the 5th

A SPELLING LESSON FOR HENRY
Hank Aaron attended a news conference yesterday in Milwaukee at the spot where his 755th and final home run landed in 1976.

“I don’t have any thoughts about Barry. I don’t even know how to spell his name,” Aaron said briskly, then added a laugh.

Henry that would be “Capital B” “asterisk”, “n”, “d”, “s”.

Top of the 6th
GOING, GOING…
A plan approved by city economic development officials calls for Tiger Stadium l to be razed by September 2008, with most of the historic baseball diamond preserved. Seats and other stadium memorabilia will be sold off.

The plan gives a nonprofit group called The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy until late July to find a feasible approach — complete with financing — to preserve part of the stadium. The nonprofit is trying to find a way to save Tiger Stadium’s main entrance behind home plate.

The site would be used as a mixed-use site for retail and residential project, with new construction to begin in April 2009. Parts of the baseball diamond — the infield and most of the outfield — will become a public field.

“Detroit’s really got a unique opportunity,” said Jeff Wattrick, head of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which grew out of the Greater Corktown Development Corp. “You look at what’s happened to so many of the older ballparks and nothing is left of them and that’s just a waste. And after so much effort and debate, hats off to the mayor and the city development people for listening.”

The sale of the seats and other memorabilia could take place this fall. The seats will be sold in pairs for $247 a pair; other memorabilia has not yet been selected or priced.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
New York Mets at Detroit Tigers, 7:05 pm
(R) Jorge Sosa (5-1) vs. (R) Chad Durbin (5-1)
Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees, 7:05 pm
(L) Tom Gorzelanny (6-3) vs. (L) Andy Pettitte (3-4)
Colorado Rockies at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(L) Jeff Francis (5-4) vs. (R) Steve Trachsel (4-4)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Florida Marlins, 7:05 pm
(L) JP Howell (1-0) vs. (R) Byung-Hyun Kim (3-2)
Cleveland Indians at Cincinnati Reds, 7:10 pm
(L) Cliff Lee (2-3) vs. (R) Homer Bailey (0-0)
Washington Nationals at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 pm
(R) Jason Simontacchi (2-4) vs. (R) Carlos Silva (3-6)
Philadelphia Phillies at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 pm
(R) Freddy Garcia (1-4) vs. (R) Scott Elarton (1-2)
LA Angels of Anaheim at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:10 pm
(R) Bartolo Colon (5-2) vs. (R) Kip Wells (2-10)
Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(R) Chris Sampson (5-5) vs. (L) John Danks (3-5)
Milwaukee Brewers at Texas Rangers, 8:35 pm
(L) Chris Capuano (5-4) vs. (R) Robinson Tejeda (4-6)
Boston Red Sox at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(R) Josh Beckett (8-0) vs. (L) Doug Davis (4-6)
Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres, 10:05 pm
(R) Miguel Batista (6-4) vs. (R) Justin Germano (4-0)
Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(R) Chad Gaudin (6-1) vs. (R) Tim Lincecum (2-0)
Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10:40 pm
(R) Dustin McGowan (2-2) vs. (R) Brad Penny (7-1)
NL
Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves, 7:35 pm
(L) Sean Marshall (1-2) vs. (R) Lance Cormier (0-1)
As of June 7, 2007, at 04:22 PM ET
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Alex Rodriguez, hit a grand slam in the 9th inning yesterday for his 22nd home run. In the 9th inning this season, Rodriguez is batting .529 (9 for 17) with 6 homers and 16 runs batted in.

Top of the 9th
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND
Good luck to Coach Vito and the Blast, to Coach Jim and the Falcons, and to Coach Tony and Sopranos.

Thank you all for everything this week – your support, your e-mails, and your encouragement.

I’ll see you on Monday.

Good luck and have fun.

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.