Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-7-25

7/25/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…

Subscribe to Billy-Ball – it’s free – www.billy-ball.com

The only spin here is on my screwball

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Top of the 1st
IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
You could have knocked me over with a feather I was so shocked to find there was a betting scandal in the NBA, that NFL has players who are displaying asocial behavior, there’s a drug scandal in the Tour de France, and someone in L’affair de B*nds is appearing naked in Playboy. The next thing you’re going to tell me is that there are priests doing the naughty with altar boys and a conservative Republican senator from Louisiana has been visiting a DC House of the Rising Sun.

Read on…and then use some eye wash to clean the slime.

It’s a jungle out there – NBA
Commissioner David Stern yesterday blamed a “rogue, isolated criminal” that has devastated the league and threatened the credibility of every referee. A subdued Stern said he felt betrayed by former referee Tim Donaghy (no relation to Jack Donaghy of “30 Rock”) the target of an FBI investigation for allegedly betting on games, including some he officiated, over the last two seasons. Stern said he believed no other officials or players would be implicated in the betting scandal.

“I feel betrayed by what happened on behalf of the sport, regardless of how protective I’ve been,” he said. “This is not something that is anything other than an act of betrayal of what we know in sports as a sacred trust.”

Besides allegedly placing his own wagers, investigators also are examining whether Donaghy provided inside information to others, including referees’ schedules, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

“Not only aren’t they permitted to either gamble or provide information to people,” Stern said, “they may not even provide other than to their immediate family the details of their travel schedules or the games they are going to work.”

“I can tell you that this is the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA,” said Stern.

“I’ll only invoke the earlier reference to the CIA, the FBI and people who get away with doing dastardly things,” he said. “If you’re intent upon engaging in criminal activity, and if you are acting alone in many cases without the knowledge of even your family, it’s possible. Our history is replete with examples of that. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that you could go undetected.”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig agreed that Donaghy was a dastard and unsure whether he will attend NBA games in the future but did suggest Stern assemble a commission to investigate the problem. Selig suggested that former United States Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd head the blue ribbon panel.

It’s a jungle out there – Michael Vick
“This sort of behavior is really horrific,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said about his star quarterback Michael Vick who was indicted last week of conducting a dogfighting operation. “But these are charges. We have to let the legal process play out.”
Blank said he would encourage Vick, indicted on federal charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation, to put his career on hold while the case is pending.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a news conference said, “Let me make it very clear that the National Football League is very disappointed that Michael put himself in this position,” Goodell said. “In no way do we think that dogfighting or anything related to dogfighting is acceptable. (At this point he did a Daffy Duck imitation saying) We think it’s despicable, frankly.”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig agreed that Vick was a horrificker and unsure whether he will attend NFL games (or dogfights for that matter) in the future but did suggest Goodell assemble a commission to investigate the problem. Selig suggested that former United States Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, Jr. head the blue ribbon panel.

It’s a jungle out there – Tour d* France
Alexander Vinok*urov, the Kazakh cyclist once considered a favorite to win the Tour de France, tested positive for the presence of foreign blood cells after the first of two recent stage victories and, along with his entire Astana team, withdrew from the Tour. The failed test was the third doping issue to arise in this year’s Tour.

At a news conference Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, said the riders “are playing Russian roulette” by continuing to try to sneak doping practices past cycling officials. He called for an overhaul of the system of testing riders, which is overseen not by the Tour but by the International Cycling Union.

“The system doesn’t work,” Prudhomme angrily said. “A system that doesn’t defend the world’s most popular cycling race is a failure, and it can’t carry on.”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig agreed that Vinok*urov was a Kazaklist and unsure whether he will attend the Tour de Fr*nce (or Tour de Milwaukee) in the future but did suggest Prudhomme assemble a commission to investigate the problem. Selig suggested that former United States Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole head the blue ribbon panel.

It’s a jungle out there – Barry B*nds
In an interview with Bob Costas on HBO’s “Costas Now,” chemist Patrick Arnold, the inventor of the stealth steroid THG, was asked whether it was plausible that Bonds thought he was using flaxseed oil, as Bonds testified before the BALCO grand jury in 2003.

“No. No, not in the least,” Arnold told Costas. “‘The clear’ was THG dissolved in the same stuff that’s used for that nontoxic antifreeze.

“Tasted horrible. I guess it’s possible that Barry had never tasted flaxseed oil and said, ‘Well, I guess this is flaxseed oil.’ But it’s pretty hard to believe.”

It’s a jungle out there – Sh*ffield
As for Gary Sh*ffield, who told HBO’s “Real Sports” that he didn’t believe that “the cream” and “the clear,” are anabolic steroids, despite the fact that they are anabolic steroids, (Sh*ffield’s argument was that steroids are “something you stick in the butt,” and that neither drug was taken by injection), “That’s an ignorant statement,” Arnold says. “That’s some sort of weird rationalization. No, he took steroids. This is a bona fide anabolic steroid. Victor called it the clear. I don’t know if he ever explained to me exactly why he called it the clear. I always assumed it was because you, your urine test is clear.”

It’s a jungle out there – Michael Rains
“I’ll outmaneuver them at every turn,” B*nds’ lawyer Michael Rains told The New York Daily News Saturday after it was reported that the government would extend the federal grand jury investigating Barry for perjury and tax evasion. “I’ve kicked their ass in private, I’ll continue to kick their ass in public.”

It’s a jungle out there – Kimberly Bell
Daniel Horowitz, the attorney for B*nds’ former mistress, Kimberly Bell said, “If I were Michael Rains, I would talk tough in the press and I’d be talking deal to the government with no indictment. If the government indicts, after this much time, then you know they’ve got a good case,” Horowitz told The News yesterday. “And that means Barry’s in a no-win situation. He’s going to have to make a deal down the line. He might as well make his deal now, before he’s indicted.”

Bell will appear nude in the November issue of Playboy

It’s a jungle out there – Bud Selig
Baseball commissioner will try to be there when Giants outfielder Barry B*nds breaks Hank Aaron’s career home-run record, saying B*nds was “innocent until proven guilty.”
“Throughout this season, I have watched Barry B*nds’ pursuit of the home-run record. Now that he is on the verge of tying the record, the time has come to announce that I will make every attempt to attend the record-setting moment,” Selig said in a statement.

“Out of respect for the tradition of this game, the magnitude of the record, and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, I will attend Barry B*nds’ next games to observe his potential tying and breaking of the home run record, subject to my commitments to the Hall of Fame this weekend.”

Selig also pointed out that he may not be able to make it to many games next week since he has to go shopping at Costco to get cookies for the Hall of Fame celebration, get a haircut, and keep a dental appointment. Selig reassured the reporters that the dental appointment was for a regularly scheduled cleaning and he never misses that. Selig, who used to own the Brewers, has been friends for years with Aaron, and really likes Sue, his dental hygienist.

Selig did have one question for the assembled reporters, “Has anyone seen former United States Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell?”

It’s a jungle out there.

To hear the Snoop Dog remix of the “Monk” theme, “It’s a Jungle Out There” visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RzewOwlBVs&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwowee%2Ewordpress%2Ecom%2F

Top of the 2nd
PLAYING THE FIELD
It was indeed a great baseball game in Cleveland last night as the Red Sox defeated the Indians, 1-0. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched seven brilliant shutout innings to outduel C.C. Sabathia, denying Cleveland’s ace his 14th win, as the Sawx won their fifth straight. The best 8th and 9th inning combi in baseball, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon completed the shutout.

The difference in the game were the several nice defensive plays to back Matsuzaka and the three soft bloop singles with the third being misplayed by Indians left fielder Ben Francisco. Describing Mike Lowell’s pop that dropped for an RBI single, Francisco said, “It was a big swing, you kind of freeze on those sometimes,” Francisco said. “It’s a play you’d like to make but I came up short.”

When we look ahead to the post-season, where these two teams may meet again, it will be plays like these that might determine the winner. Perhaps, the most overlooked, misunderstood factor in the game is fielding. In John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible, he introduced a new way to quantify defensive contributions called the Plus/Minus System. The book covered every 2005 defensive player other than pitchers and catchers using Plus/Minus and a variety of other defensive metrics.

The Bill James Handbook 2007 published the Plus/Minus leaderboards for the 2006 season (adding pitchers for the first time) and the 2008 version will publish the Plus/Minus leader boards for the 2007 season.

I asked John’s to provide me with a sample of how the four Red Sox shortstops over the last four years compare:

Played for
Red Sox
In P/M this year P/M 2005-2007
2004 Orlando Cabrera -6 -11
2005 Edgar Renteria -7 -12
2006 Alex Gonzalez +4 +7
2007 Julio Lugo 0 -12

Played for
Red Sox P/M Innings PM PM
In that year that year this year 2005-2007
2003 Nomar Garciaparra +14 1365 n/a -2
2004 Orlando Cabrera +9 491 -3 -8
2004 Pokey Reese +16 508 n/a n/a
2004 Nomar Garciaparra -12 311 n/a -2
2005 Edgar Renteria -9 1293 -9 -14
2006 Alex Gonzalez +4 966 +2 +5
2006 Alex Cora +4 434 +3 +15
2007 Julio Lugo 0 696 0 -12
Minimum 300 fielding innings at SS in Boston year

I highly recommend this book. You will find it enjoyable, fascinating, and aggravating as your preconceived notions are either supported or refuted.

John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible and The Bill James Handbook 2007 are published by ACTA Sports which will also be publishing “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales” by Bill Chuck and Jim Kaplan available in all book stores, February, 2008.

ACTA books are available through the Amazon portal on Billy-Ball.com and may soon be purchase directly through the Billy-Ball-Mall.

Top of the 3rd
BIGGIO CALLING IT A CAREER
After a 20-year career in which he stayed with one franchise, played multiple positions at an All-Star level and joined the 3,000-hit club, Craig Biggio said yesterday that he will retire at the end of this season.

“There are a lot of guys that have the game taken away from them by injury,” he said. “For me to be able to walk away now, on top, on my own accord, I’m very happy with that. I’m in a good place.

“I think I’ve done everything that I was supposed to do on a baseball field. I have nothing to be disappointed about.”

Then, just a few hours later, Biggio capped a six-run 6th inning with a tiebreaking grand slam that led the Houston Astros over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-4.

Following the game he renounced his retirement plans. He didn’t really but it would have been cool.

Top of the 4th
Only a handful of players in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 121-year history produced statistics to rival Paul Waner’s, yet the club never got around to retiring his No. 11. They corrected that long-standing oversight on Saturday by making him the sixth former Pirates player whose uniform number will not be worn again. Waner joins a short list of former Pittsburgh players that previously included only Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor and Bill Mazeroski.

Top of the 5th
SONG OF THE DAY
“Levon” was a popular 1971 song, recorded by the cloying Elton John with music written by him and lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. When Livan Hernandez pitched for the Florida Marlins, the public address system would play the song as he would take the mound in the top of the 1st.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks are putting out feelers for Hernandez. The Mets, the Braves, and Mariners are known to be interested in the right hander. Hernandez won last night for the first time in 10 starts. Hernandez went seven innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Florida Marlins 9-3 for their fourth victory in a row.

Hernandez, who is “32” years old, is 6-6 with a 4.59 ERA and is the half-brother of Mets pitcher Orlando Hernandez.

Top of the 6th
MAYBE THEY SHOULD JUST FLIP THE CARDS
A potential buyer is extending its tender offer for baseball card manufacturer Topps as two hedge funds hold their breaths. On Monday, rival card maker the Upper Deck Co. announced it will extend its offer until this Friday. The company has offered $10.75 per share for Topps.

Last year, hedge fund firms Crescendo Partners and Pembridge Capital waged a shareholders revolt at Topps, eventually gaining three seats on the company’s board. While the funds’ board representatives pushed for an auction of Topps, the board instead decided to pursue a deal with former Disney head Michael Eisner, who led a group offering $9.75 per share for the company.

Last month, Topps announced it would postpone its shareholders meeting and review the offer from Upper Deck. On July 9, however, the board unanimously recommended shareholders reject the tender offer from Upper Deck. Topps instead wants to continue discussions with the new bidder to see if it can sweeten the deal. Currently, a potential merger with Upper Deck would involve antitrust regulatory risk. Also, Topps would have to pay a substantial break-up fee to Eisner’s group.

New York-based Crescendo owns about 6.6% of Topps. Pembridge, which is also based in New York, holds considerably less of the company. Both firms, however, have been critical of the way the board has handled the sale.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays, 12:37 pm
(R) Carlos Silva (8-10) vs. (R) Jesse Litsch (2-4)
Oakland Athletics at LA Angels of Anaheim, 3:35 pm
(R) Joe Blanton (8-7) vs. (R) John Lackey (12-6)
Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians, 7:05 pm
(R) Josh Beckett (13-3) vs. (R) Fausto Carmona (12-4)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(R) Andrew Sonnanstine (1-5) vs. (L) Erik Bedard (9-4)
New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 pm
(R) Mike Mussina (4-7) vs. (R) Gil Meche (7-6)
Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(L) Kenny Rogers (3-2) vs. (R) Jose Contreras (5-12)
Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers, 8:35 pm
(R) Miguel Batista (10-7) vs. (R) Brandon McCarthy (4-7)
NL
San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies, 3:05 pm
(R) Justin Germano (6-4) vs. (R) Aaron Cook (6-6)
Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(L) Matt Chico (4-6) vs. (L) Cole Hamels (11-5)
Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(L) Tom Gorzelanny (9-5) vs. (L) Tom Glavine (8-6)
Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds, 7:10 pm
(R) Jeff Suppan (8-8) vs. (R) Kyle Lohse (5-12)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros, 8:05 pm
(R) Derek Lowe (8-9) vs. (R) Matt Albers (2-4)
Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:10 pm
(L) Ted Lilly (10-4) vs. (R) Adam Wainwright (9-7)
Florida Marlins at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(L) Scott Olsen (8-7) vs. (R) Brandon Webb (8-8)
Atlanta Braves at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(L) Chuck James (8-7) vs. (L) Noah Lowry (10-7)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Since the All-Star break, Ryan Garko has been baseball’s leading batter hitting .529.
Since the All-Star break, Albert Pujols, Hideki Masui and Ryan Howard have each hit 6 homers.
Since the All-Star break, Bobby Abreu has driven in 18 runs.
Since the All-Star break, Alex Rodriguez has scored 16 times.
Since the All-Star break, Eric Byrnes has stolen 9 bases.
Since the All-Star break, Mark Reynolds has struck out 17 times.

Top of the 9th
DO YOU CARE?
Do you care about Yahoo?
Do you care about Ask.com?
Do you care about Google?

Bottom of the 9th
SUPPORT-BILLY-BALL-WORLD
* Support Billy-Ball via PayPal (WWW.BILLY-BALL.COM) or Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/paypage/PBANN9XCMMFSH. The donations are anonymous to protect those of you who are too embarrassed to be seen giving to such a seedy enterprise.
* Your Amazon purchases support Billy-Ball – www.billy-ball.com

Have a great day!

Do you want to snail mail?
Billy-Ball
258 Harvard Street, #145
Brookline, MA 02446

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.