Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-7-26

7/26/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top of the 1st
HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN BASEBALL COLUMN
People ask me all the time “how do you come with ideas for your column?” Well, it really isn’t that difficult; I just give the readers what they want. You see it’s a little like making yogurt. If you were to attempt to make yogurt at home, you would need an active (living) yogurt culture as a “starter.”

Here are some “starter” items that occurred in baseball on Wednesday, July 25, 2007, any of which would be fodder for a complete column. See how you do and if you want, you can send me (bill@billy-ball.com) your 250-400 word “column” and I’ll tell you how I think you did.

99
After numbers that end in double zero, ninety-nine is clearly the number that fascinates fans the most. The hottest buzz-ado is about Alex Rodriguez and Tommy Glavine. Here’s how one newspaper described A-Rod’s 499th career homer. “With one powerful swing, Alex Rodriguez moved himself to the precipice of the history books.” Now, here’s how the New York Times’ Ben Schpigel wrote about Tom Glavine’s 299th win, “Baseball immortality is one start away after Glavine pitched six innings in the Mets’ 6-3 victory last night, their third consecutive win, against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. It was not his best start, nor was it his worst, but this is not the time to quibble about the details.”

Each of the stories have loads to write about:
* Alex Rodriguez faces Jorge De La Rosa today, and just over two years ago Rodriguez connected off De La Rosa, then with Milwaukee, for his 400th career home run.
* Rodriguez, turns 32 on Friday and could become the first player to hit 500 homers before turning 32. The youngest player to do it was Jimmie Foxx, who was 32 years, 338 days old when he reached the mark in 1940.
* Frank Thomas has 503 homers
* Andres Gallaraga and Al Kaline each finished with 399 homers.
* Glavine has made 21 starts this season.
* Glavine’s first win on Aug. 22, 1987 was also against the Pirates.
* Glavine’s 200th win was on July 30, 2000.
* Lefty Grove and Early Wynn both finished with 300 wins.
* It took Early Wynn eight tries to win #300.

Now try this topic:
BACK-TO-BACK
The Indians defeated the Red Sox last night, 1-0. The Red Sox defeated the Indians 1-0 the night before. Back-to-back 1-0 games are sure to attract attention. I did: the Indians hadn’t followed a 1-0 loss with a 1-0 win since April 17-18, 1942.

COINCIDENCE
The winning pitcher last night for Cleveland was Fausto Carmona. Coincidentally, Carmona was tried as a closer last year and he was facing the Red Sox for the first time since blowing consecutive save chances in Boston last season, two outings three nights apart that all but finished the Indians’ experiment with him ending games.

Not good enough? How about this – winning pitcher Fausta Carmona’s record is now 13-4. Losing pitcher Josh Beckett is now 13-4.

One more – by defeating the Twins last night, Toronto and Minnesota have identical 51-50 records.

CONFLUENCE
Baseball fans clearly seem to be fascinated with a confluence of events. For example, the Mariner’s J.J. Putz had a perfect record in 29 save situations this year and a team record of 31 consecutive save opportunities converted since last season and, when he entered the game last night, the Mariners had lost five straight games. Putz two streaks are over but the M’s losing streak is now at six and counting because Rangers infielder Ramon Vazquez put a Putz fastball over the right-field wall and Seattle loss to Texas, 7-6.

SWEEPS
The Mariners were swept in the four-game series in Texas. This is more interesting than losing the last two to one team and the next two to another. A “sweep” is fascinating to people.

The Blue Jays scored a 13-1 victory over the Twins to complete a three-game sweep. It’s the fourth time this season the Twins have been swept.

STREAKS
Toronto (51-50) has won a season-high five in a row to move over .500 for the first time since June 27, when it was 39-38. Minnesota (51-50) lost its fourth consecutive game, matching a season worst. Toronto starters are 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA in the past five games. It’s the first time since June 8-13, 2003, that Toronto has received five consecutive wins from its starting pitchers.

Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy allowed three runs in five innings and still hasn’t won since May 20 at Houston.

BATTERS WHO DON’T HIT
Guerrero, who won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break, is homerless in 97 at-bats over his last 24 games which not surprisingly is the longest drought of his big league career. The Angels have two home runs in their last 18 games, and are 10-15 since Guerrero’s last home run on June 23. The eight-time All-Star averaged 36.2 homers over the previous nine seasons, and has 14 this year.

PITCHERS WHO HIT
Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook went 3-for-4 during his 10-2 complete-game victory over San Diego. We love it when pitchers can hit because we basically look at them as just players who can throw. We get amazed when they are able to pick up a ball that dribbles to the mound and then it throw it to get the runner out. Cook entered this season on an 0-31 streak; that would have qualified him for the streak category. His career average of .111 entering this season made him a proponent for those who believe in the DH. But, the fact that he has 10 hits in 38 at-bats this season for a .263 now makes him a great argument for the elimination of the DH because pitchers who hit are fun.

EXTREMES
Baseball fans love to see extremes. You can be assured that there will be much buzz today about Aaron Cook’s victory against the Padres because in his complete game he threw just 74 pitches. That’s a Rockies franchise record for fewest in a complete game. The previous franchise low for a complete game was 88 pitches by Darren Oliver in eight innings Aug. 31, 2003, in a road loss to the Dodgers. The previous low in a complete game in the majors this season was 91 in a nine-inning game by Cincinnati’s Matt Belisle on April 28 at Pittsburgh and 79 in eight innings by Minnesota’s Scott Baker in a loss July 1 at Detroit.

In the 1st, Cook gave up hits to the first three batters and was down 2-0 before getting Khalil Greene to ground into a double play. He finished the inning with 13 pitches and threw 10 in the 4th, but he went through the other seven innings with single-figure pitch counts and needed only 35 pitches in the final five innings. Cook threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 31 batters he faced, threw sinkers with 63 pitches and missed the strike zone 19 times.

Cook’s 74 pitches were the fewest by a major leaguer in a nine-inning game since Carlos Silva threw 74 pitches for Minnesota on May 20, 2005.

Toronto outscored Minnesota 26-5 in their series is okay but the fact that the Blue Jays tied a franchise record with an 11-run 6th inning yesterday is column stuff. Toronto last scored 11 runs in an inning on April 26, 1995, against Oakland.

Extremely good? Sure. Extremely interesting? Okay. Extremely odd? Of course, that’s what makes a baseball story.

STANDINGS
The standings always are good fodder. Take a look Red Sox fans, are those Yankees creeping up on you? Cub fans, it could happen, couldn’t it? Arizona is turning up the heat, not the humidity.

When in doubt, when you have nothing else to write about there is always one topic that always does the job:

BARRYB*NDS

Have fun and don’t forget to write.

Top of the 2nd
CURT BEING CURT IS AN OXYMORON
Curt Schilling says as far as he’s concerned, Mark McGw*re and Barry B*nds admitted to using steroids when they failed to defend themselves against doping accusations.

“If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn’t sue their ass off, am I not admitting that there’s some legitimacy to it?” the Senator told Bob Costas on the HBO show “Costas Now.”

When told of Schilling’s comments, Bonds – who sat out last night’s 2-1 Giants win over the Braves – said, “Don’t worry, my day will come,” and added that Costas is a “midget who knows (nothing) about baseball.”

“I mean, I’m a huge Mark McGw*re fan,” Schilling says. “But I just always thought it was very simple: If you did something and someone asks you if you did it and you didn’t do it, you say ‘no.’ Any other answer than ‘no’ is some form of ‘yes,’ isn’t it?”

Schilling also refers to the allegations against Bonds that he gave his former mistress, Kimberly Bell, undeclared cash from memorabilia sales, accusations that are part of the government’s perjury and tax-evasion investigation.
“If I wrote a book about Bob Costas and in that book I wrote about Bob Costas’ girlfriend being on the road, and Bob Costas giving that girlfriend card show money and I outlined your daily steroid regimen, I’ve got to believe your first line of defense is to sue my (butt) off,” Schilling says.

“Jose Cans*co admitted he cheated his entire career,” Schilling says. “Everything he ever did should be wiped clean. I think his MVP should go back and should go to the runner-up.” About Palm*iro, Schilling says, “The year he tested positive, nothing he did that year should count, which I think would take away 3,000 hits for him.” And while he downplayed the extent of steroid use before Congress, Schilling says he believes there is plenty of doping in the game.

“Obviously, guys are still getting caught, which shows me that even with all of the safety nets in place, people are still doing it,” he says. “My understanding is that steroids and HGH, one of the main benefits of them is regeneration. If I can show up Sept.1 and feel April fresh, I’ve got a huge advantage, not just that day but on everybody. And I think that’s why a lot of pitchers have been caught.”

Top of the 3rd
LINEBRINK TO THE BREWERS
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from the San Diego Padres for minor league pitchers right-hander Will Inman, a third-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft; left-hander Steve Garrison, a 10th-round pick in the same draft; and 25-year-old left-hander Joe Thatcher.

The Brewers have gone 13-13 since June 23, and their offense has struggled since the All-Star break. Linebrink has been a setup man for the Padres, going 3-3 with a 3.80 earned run average in 44 games this season. Last year, he led the Padres’ bullpen with seven wins and 68 strikeouts. He also led the NL with 36 holds.

Former closer Derrick Turnbow, who is now a setup man, leads the Brewers staff with 49 appearances. Milwaukee’s bullpen leads the NL in saves and is sixth in earned run average.

Thatcher was 1-0 with a 0.55 ERA in 14 relief appearances at Double-A Huntsville, and 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 24 appearances for Triple-A Nashville. Garrison was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 20 starts at Class A. Inman, 20, was 1-5 with a 5.45 ERA in eight starts for Huntsville.

Thatcher will join the team in Houston today.

“Thatcher is the one guy we hope will help us,” Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. “It’s an acquisition similar to the one we made last year when we got Cla Meredith. He hasn’t had a chance yet, but has a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio and gets left-handers and right-handers out.

Top of the 4th
TAXING NEWS
The New York Daily News reports that Yankee traveling secretary Dave Szen is under investigation by the IRS for allegedly failing to declare income derived from his job as the executive in charge of the team’s travel and hotel accommodations. Szen was the Yankees’ media relations director in 1982, and after working for the Mariners, returned to the Yankees in the 1990s as traveling secretary.

“We understand that the government is investigating personal tax issues regarding David Szen,” Yankees spokesperson Howard Rubenstein said in a statement released by the team last night. “The Yankees have cooperated with that inquiry. David Szen has requested and has been granted administrative leave.”

Top of the 5th
EVAN GRANT
I recently asked Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News if there were any signs of the Texas Rangers trading Sammy S*sa this season?

“There are currently no signs of trade interest in Sosa. But, as this is being written, there is still a week left to go before the deadline. A lot can happen. A little losing streak, an injury, a slump can change a team’s mind quickly.

The Rangers best chance to trade him would be to a club that needs some extra right-handed help against lefties. Sosa had a two-run double and a three-run homer against lefty Horacio Ramirez on Monday and entered Tuesday’s doubleheader hitting .338 against lefties for the season. He was scheduled to start both games of the doubleheader since Seattle was throwing a pair of lefties and he’s liable to start Saturday against Kansas City lefty Odalis Perez. A big week for Sosa could have some of those teams in need of right-handed bats (Minnesota comes to mind) revisiting the possibility of trading for Sosa.”

I also asked him what the odds were of Sammy making the Hall of Fame, and would he vote for him:

” I’m a little torn. I didn’t vote for Mark McGwire last year and basically it was because of his involvement in the steroid scandal. But, McGwire was never proven guilty of anything, and right now I’m leaning on the side of innocent until proven guilty. Here’s the thing, though: Just because he hasn’t been proven guilty, doesn’t mean it’s not coming. I think we need to wait another year or two before declaring the statute of limitations expired. I kind of feel the same way about Sosa. I don’t know that I’d vote for him on the first ballot, but I probably would eventually.

For me, the thing working in Sammy’s favor is that after all of the steroid stuff, he worked his way back into the game and his comeback has been most honorable. Add in that his numbers across the board are better than McGwire’s and I’ll have a tougher decision when Sosa’s name appears on the ballot for the first time than I did with McGwire.”

Top of the 6th
STANDINGS
AMERICAN LEAGUE
American League East
Team W L Pct. GB Home Road East Cent. West L10 Strk
Boston 61 40 .604 – 34-19 27-21 21-11 15-11 13-12 6-4 L 1
N.Y. Yankees 54 46 .540 6