Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-7-3

7/3/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Top of the 1st
THE LAST TIME – SPECIAL MILWAUKEE EDITION
“Well this could be the last time
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know. Oh no. Oh no.”
Mick Jagger/Keith Richards – Rolling Stones, 1965

* The last time the Brewers finished at .500 (81-81) was in 2005 – on May 16 that year the Everybody Loves Raymond series finale aired on CBS.
* The last time the Brewers finished below .400 (56-106) was in 2002 – that baseball season saw the Anaheim Angels defeat the San Francisco Giants in a seven-game Series. It was the first time two wild card teams met for the title.
* The last time the Brewers played in the American League was in 1997. In 1998 they switched from the AL Central to the NL Central. In 1997, their record was 78-83 (.484) and a hit single that year was “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly.
* The Brewers’ last game at County Stadium was on September 28, 2000. Also on that day, jury selection was delayed in former Playmate Anna Nicole Smith’s inheritance dispute with the son of her late billionaire husband because the judge was concerned that Smith’s win in a separate federal bankruptcy case that awarded Smith almost $450 million in a Los Angeles court could have tainted the jury. The last Sausage Race winner was the Bratwurst.
* The last time the Brewers finished above .500 (92-70 – .568) was in 1992 – that was the year that U.S. voters elected Arkansas governor William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton, 46, to the presidency.
* The last active member of the Milwaukee Braves, Phil Niekro, played his last game on September 27, 1987, as a member of the Atlanta Braves. On July 17 of that year, The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 2,500 mark for the first time, at 2,510.04.
* The last time the Brewers finished first was in 1982 when Buck Rodgers, then Harvey Kuenn’s team led the AL East. The cost of a first-class stamp was 20 cents.
* The last time the Brewers made it to the World Series was in 1982. The team known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” lost in seven games in the World Series to the Cardinals. That year Michael Jackson released Thriller, which became the biggest-selling album in history.
* The last Brewer to lead the league in homers was Gorman Thomas in 1982. Thomas hit 39 that season to tie Reggie Jackson of the Angels. He hit his 39th off of Dennis Martinez of the Orioles on September 26, 1982. That weekend, the highest grossing film was “Amityville II: The Possession”; second was “E.T.”
* The last Milwaukee Brewers pitcher to lead the league in wins was Pete Vukovich. In 1981 his 14 wins tied him with Dennis Martinez (BAL), Steve McCatty (OAK), and Jack Morris (DET). Paris Hilton was born on February 17, 1981.
* The last time the Seattle Pilots played was on October 2, 1969; the next season they were the Milwaukee Brewers. Two popular movies from that year were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and Easy Rider starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson.
* The Braves’ last game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium was on September 12, 1965. On that date, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his 21-year old daughter, Candace Bergen, were the “mystery guests” on the TV game show “What’s My Line?”
* The last Milwaukee Brave to lead the league in homers was Hank Aaron, who hit 44 in 1963. President Kennedy was assassinated in November of that year.
* The last Milwaukee pitcher to lead the league in ERA was the Braves’ Warren Spahn whose 3.02 led the National League in 1961. MAD Magazine pointed out on its March 1961 cover, that 1961 was the first “upside-up” year–i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down. The previous one was 1881 and the next will be 6009.
* The last Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins was Warren Spahn in 1961. Spahnie’s 21 wins tied him with former Braves pitcher Joey Jay of the Reds. In April that year, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space when he orbited the earth.
* The last time a member of the Milwaukee Braves led the league in hitting was in 1959, when Henry Aaron hit .355. February 3, 1959 was “The Day the Music Died” as the chartered plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed in an Iowa snowstorm.
* The last time the Braves made it to the World Series was in 1958. They lost the Series in seven games to the Yankees. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.
* The last time the Braves won the World Series was in 1957. They won the Series in seven games over the Yankees. On March 10 of that year, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was born.
* On September 23, 1957, Henry Aaron hit an 11th inning two-run walk-off homer off St. Louis’ Billy Muffett that clinched the National League championship for the Milwaukee Braves at County Stadium. The next day, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Arkansas to provide safe passage into Central High School for the Little Rock Nine.
* Last night, Roger Clemens became the first major leaguer to win 350 games since Hall of Famer Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves accomplished the feat by beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on September 29, 1963. Yankees manager Joe Torre was Spahn’s catcher in that game. On July 1 of that year, ZIP codes were introduced in the U.S.

Top of the 2nd
DON’T MESS WITH THE BASEBALL GODS
As you know my only religion is baseball and the only gods I believe in are the baseball gods and they, like all gods, are really cruel…look what they did to the A-Rods (note the plural).

I guess the story begins with those pictures of Alex Rodriguez with some busty blonde a Las Vegas stripper at a strip club and hotel in Toronto, but they are other stories to probably pull from. But the precipitating incident (or perhaps it was retribution) occurred at the Stadium on Sunday regarding the tank top worn by Alex Rodriguez’s wife. A front-page photograph yesterday in the New York Post showed the back of the tank top with the obscenity printed in Old English lettering between the shoulder blades. The first letter of the first word is visible; the three other letters are intentionally blurred. The second word is ‘You.’ The paper’s headline read: “F-Rod.” Yankees GM Brian Cashman talked to both Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez and acknowledged that the team has a policy prohibiting profane language on clothing and banners in Yankee Stadium.

The story then continues last night in the Yankees 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins in which Roger Clemens picked up his 350th win pitching eight brilliant innings of two-hit ball. Rodriguez got his 80th RBI on a 1st inning grounder, then left in the 6th after he tripped over first baseman Justin Morneau’s ankle while beating out a potential double play. He remained in the game and advanced to second, but told third base coach Larry Bowa he wouldn’t be able to score on a single.

Torre then pulled Rodriguez, who was limping slightly in the clubhouse after the game. His leg was wrapped and he was scheduled for tests today. He said he didn’t know how bad the injury was.

“We’re going to sleep on it and see how it feels in the morning. Right now it’s just a little sore, tender,” Rodriguez said. The last time Rodriguez was on the disabled list was in July 2000 with Seattle, because of a right knee strain.

All from messing with the baseball gods.

Top of the 3rd
FIRE MCLAREN
This one is a no-brainer – fire the new Mariners manager, John McLaren. He manages one game and in one game manages to end of Seattle’s eight-game winning streak. The M’s dropped a 3-2 decision in 11 innings to the Kansas City Royals. McLaren pulled starter Felix Hernandez after eight innings and only 92 pitches, he said, because the humid weather had sapped him of any remaining energy. King Felix gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings. He struck out five and allowed only one walk for the sixth time in seven starts.

McLaren did seem to make a rookie mistake with his rookie reliever Brandon Morrow (3-2) in the 11th. David DeJesus led off with a double and then Morrow walked Esteban German, Mark Teahen laid down a sacrifice that moved the runners to second and third. Emil Brown was the next batter with first base open and instead of purely intentionally walking Brown, McLaren was too cute for his own good.

“We were trying to make him swing at bad pitches,” McLaren said of Brown, who has 31 runs batted in — second best on the Royals — but had struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth. “Throw splits in the dirt. Like he struck out before. It just didn’t work out. We gave him too good a pitch to hit and he hit it.”

Brown hit a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored David DeJesus from third with the winning run. The questionable strategy was made worse because Morrow had no idea he was supposed to be throwing Brown unhittable pitches. Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima had called for a split-fingered fastball in the dirt. Instead, the young Morrow shook him off and fired a fastball that Brown got around on.

“Nobody told me that,” Morrow said of the pitch strategy. “He [Johjima] called for the split and I shook for the fastball. If they had told me we were trying to get him to chase something, then, I don’t know. I don’t want to say I would have done it differently.”

Morrow said he was merely trying to attack the right-handed hitter with his best pitch. The Mariners had southpaw Ryan Rowland-Smith waiting to come in to face left-hander Alex Gordon had Brown been walked to load the bases.
“I thought they wanted me to try to get him out,” Morrow said. “They decided to go righty-righty so I went after him.”

Hmmm.

Top of the 4th
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
Hall of Fame major league baseball player Nolan Ryan will be visiting Japan this month to make a sales pitch for beef from the United States. Ryan will be taking part in the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s campaign to promote U.S. beef, which is currently trickling into Japan at 10 percent of volumes recorded before Tokyo in 2003 imposed a ban when a U.S. case of mad cow disease was found.

As part of the campaign, the 60-year-old Ryan will be throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a game on July 18 between the Orix Buffaloes and Chiba Lotte Marines, now managed by Bobby Valentine.

I might point out that the international meat industry generates roughly 18% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions–even more than transportation–according to a report last year from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Much of that comes from the nitrous oxide in manure and the methane that is, as the New York Times delicately put it, “the natural result of bovine digestion.” Methane has a warming effect that is 23 times as great as that of carbon, while nitrous oxide is 296 times as great.

Top of the 5th
FINALLY THE RAYS
Eric Hinske had a bases-loaded triple and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double as Boston gained a split in their four-game set with the Texas Rangers in a 7-3 victory. The Sox had scored only eight runs in their previous four games.

The Red Sox host Tampa Bay and play the D-Rays for the first time this season and will play them pretty much every day for the rest of the season.

Top of the 6th
THAT’S A RELIEF
Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers has been removed from Wisconsin’s list of its largest tax delinquents. The state Department of Revenue had listed Roland G. Fingers of Las Vegas as one of its top 100 delinquent taxpayers in July 2006. He owed about $1.4 million in income taxes, including $1.1 million in interest, according to court records.

Two of three cases filed against Fingers have been satisfied, according to documents filed in Dane County Circuit Court. The court does not specify how those cases were settled, including whether Fingers paid and how much he might have paid. The only way someone can be removed from the list is for them to agree to pay in installments, petition for a compromise or file for bankruptcy. The third case against Fingers was for more than $58,000. Court records showed that case still pending Monday.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Brewers Pirates 4:05 p.m. Capuano (5-5) Youman (0-0)
Cubs Nationals 7:05 p.m. Zambrano (9-6) Redding (0-0)
Indians Tigers 7:05 p.m. Byrd (7-3) Robertson (4-6)
Twins Yankees 7:05 p.m. Silva (6-8) Wang (7-4)
Devil Rays Red Sox 7:05 p.m. Kazmir (5-4) Matsuzaka (9-5)
Giants Reds 7:10 p.m. Zito (6-8) Harang (8-2)
Mets Rockies 8:05 p.m. Vargas (0-0) Cook (4-5)
Phillies Astros 8:05 p.m. Eaton (7-5) Oswalt (7-5)
D-Backs Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Johnson (4-3) Wellemeyer (2-1)
Mariners Royals 8:10 p.m. Feierabend (1-2) De La Rosa (5-9)
Orioles White Sox 8:11 p.m. Cabrera (6-8) Vazquez (4-5)
Angels Rangers 8:35 p.m. Santana (5-8) Millwood (4-7)
Marlins Padres 10:05 p.m. Olsen (6-6) Maddux (7-4)
Blue Jays Athletics 10:05 p.m. Litsch (1-2) Blanton (7-4)
Braves Dodgers 10:10 p.m. Davies (3-7) Wolf (9-6)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Cubs Nationals 12:05 p.m. Hill (5-5) Chico (3-5)
Twins Yankees 1:05 p.m. Santana (9-6) Mussina (4-5)
Devil Rays Red Sox 1:05 p.m. Jackson (1-8) Wakefield (8-8)
Giants Reds 1:15 p.m. Cain (2-9) Belisle (5-5)
Phillies Astros 2:05 p.m. Hamels (9-4) Sampson (6-5)
Brewers Pirates 4:05 p.m. Vargas (6-1) Snell (6-5)
Blue Jays Athletics 4:05 p.m. McGowan (4-4) Kennedy (2-6)
Orioles White Sox 7:05 p.m. Guthrie (4-2) Contreras (5-9)
Indians Tigers 7:05 p.m. Westbrook (1-3) Rogers (2-0)
D-Backs Cardinals 7:15 p.m. Hernandez (5-5) Thompson (6-3)
Mets Rockies 8:05 p.m. Maine (9-4) Fogg (3-6)
Mariners Royals 8:10 p.m. Washburn (7-6) Bannister (5-4)
Angels Rangers 8:35 p.m. Weaver (6-4) Wright (1-2)
Marlins Padres 9:05 p.m. Johnson (0-3) Young (8-3)
Braves Dodgers 9:10 p.m. James (7-7) Hendrickson (2-3)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Julio Lugo, back in the lineup after being benched the previous three games, went 0-for-2 for the Sox last night with two walks and is hitless his last 33 at-bats, dropping his average to .189. The “did you know” of the day is that Don Zimmer, a not-in-uniform coach for the Devil Rays was the original third baseman for the 1962 New York Mets, and he began that experience with an 0-for-34 before ending his experience 4 for 52, a .077 average. Zimmer was traded by the Mets on May 7, 1962 to the Cincinnati Reds for Bob Miller and Cliff Cook.

Bonus – Rays bench coach Bill Evers was born in New York City on Jan. 29, 1954 . . . in the backseat of a taxi cab.

Top of the 9th
THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK!
Billy-Ball will take his fun and games and vitriol on the road for a few days and will be back next week causing more fun and more trouble. Before I go I would like to wish a happy birthday to my wonderful sister-in-law Andrea Pyenson whose birthday is tomorrow. You can see some of Andrea’s writing often in the Boston Globe Food section. Have a great day and a wonderful year.

We should all also wish George Steinbrenner a happy 77th birthday tomorrow. Whether you hate him or despise him, George deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for resurrecting the Yankees franchise and investing in his team and the game.

Have a happy and healthy July 4.

Take care of yourself and take care of your planet.

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.