Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-7-9

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Monday, July 09, 2007

Top of the 1st
Like many of you, I took the last half of last week off and here I’m faced with baseball’s annual All-Star Break, the dullest portion of the baseball season. I personally feel that ever since interleague play, the All-Star Game has lost a lot of its luster since batters and pitchers of each league face each during the regular season.

The All-Star Game is an anathema to me as it produces so little news and so few stories that I have trouble filling space but as you will see today, I have figured out ways to make that happen that hopefully you will find interesting.

I did spend the weekend working for the Alliance for Climate Protection at the Live Earth concert at the Meadowlands. Working with the visionary Brian Reich over the past month on the website, has dramatically increased my awareness of all the little things we can do to make a difference to cool the planet.

Here’s one thing I’m doing this evening, I will save energy by not watching the Home Run Derby. This is just a waste of electricity that not only perpetuates, but glorifies baseball’s misguided obsession with the homer as the means to exhibit baseball talent, skills and interest. But you know what? While I’m in no mood for a rant, I will tell you if it weren’t for the owners and the commissioner’s simplistic view that the homer is baseball’s only drawing card, guys like B*nds and S*sa would have been appreciated and glorified for their natural skills.

Okay, let’s bring you up to date…

Top of the 2nd
The fans in Detroit got to see the two of the best teams in baseball this weekend and the hometowners had to be happy with the performance of their Tigers who swept the Red Sox. Gary Sheffield homered off Dice-K Matsuzaka, who gave up three homers for the first time in the major leagues. Sheffield added two doubles off the right-hander. Detroit have won five straight and 14 of 19, moving a game ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central. The Tigers beat Boston 9-2 in the series opener and 3-2 in 13 innings Saturday night after winning the last two games of a three-game series against the Indians. The Red Sox were a season-high 22 games over .500 on June 24, but have since lost eight of 13 overall and six in a row on the road but still hold a gynormous 10 game lead.

It was the first time the Tigers have swept the Red Sox at home since 1992. It was the sixth sweep for Detroit so far this season:
Baltimore: 8-4, 5-4 and 3-2, April 30-May 2.
At Kansas City: 6-3, 7-5 and 13-4, May 4-6.
St. Louis: 14-4, 8-7 and 6-3, May 18-20.
At Washington: 9-8, 15-1 and 8-4, June 18-20.
At Atlanta: 5-0, 2-1 and 5-0, June 22-24.
Boston: 9-2, 3-2 and 6-5, July 6-8.

The Tigers have a team batting average of .292 to lead the majors.

AL Central W L PCT GB Home Away DIV Streak
Detroit 52 34 .605 — 25-19 27-15 17-15 Won 5
Cleveland 52 36 .591 1 31-12 21-24 18-9 Lost 1
Minnesota 45 43 .511 8 22-20 23-23 14-17 Lost 2
Chicago WSox 39 47 .453 13 19-25 20-22 15-15 Won 2
Kansas City 38 50 .432 15 20-28 18-22 10-18 Won 2

AL East W L PCT GB Home Away DIV Streak
Boston 53 34 .609 — 28-14 25-20 19-9 Lost 3
Toronto 43 44 .494 10 26-19 17-25 16-14 Won 1
NY Yankees 42 43 .494 10 26-18 16-25 8-17 Won 1
Baltimore 38 49 .437 15 19-21 19-28 14-11 Lost 1
Tampa Bay 34 53 .391 19 19-24 15-29 8-14 Lost 2

Top of the 3rd
According to a Harris Poll, The New York Yankees are the most popular team in baseball, for the fifth consecutive season. In a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive from June 5-11, by region, the most popular teams were the Yankees in the East, Cardinals in the Midwest, Braves in the South and Seattle Mariners in the West.

The results:
1. New York Yankees
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Boston Red Sox
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Detroit Tigers
7. New York Mets
8. Seattle Mariners
9. Cincinnati Reds
10. Milwaukee Brewers
11. Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Houston Astros
T-13. Baltimore Orioles
T-13. Cleveland Indians
T-13. San Francisco Giants
T-16. Pittsburgh Pirates
T-16. Texas Rangers
18. Philadelphia Phillies
19. Oakland Athletics
20. Minnesota Twins
21. Chicago White Sox
22. Arizona Diamondbacks
T-23. Florida Marlins
T-23. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
25. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
26. San Diego Padres
27. Colorado Rockies
28. Kansas City Royals
29. Washington Nationals
30. Toronto Blue Jays

Top of the 4th
You can’t help but be impressed with the first-half the Mariners put together. With a steady combination of timely hitting, the surprising resignation of Mike Hargrove, and the great J.J. Putz as closer, the M’s are in a position to make a strong run for the post-season. Yesterday, they showed the A’s the spirit of the team.

More important than their 7-3 victory over Oakland, which enabled them to take 3 of 4 in the series, was the effort, no, the attitude of Jason Ellison who had four hits in the victory. Ellison and Ichiro had just scored on a three-run double by Raul Ibanez when a wild throw landed near Ichiro’s feet as he walked back to the dugout, his eyes on the field. Oakland pitcher Joe Blanton shoved Ichiro hard as he went after the ball and Ellison responded by charging into Blanton. “You’ve got to stand up for your teammates. Ichiro’s not going to say anything, obviously,” explained Ellison about his action that led to both dugouts emptying. Blanton said he was “just going after the ball” and that there were “a lot of guys just standing around.

“I hit somebody and I’m not even sure what happened after that,” he said. “It just kind of developed.”

“Thanks for having my back,” Ichiro told Ellison afterward.

“Any time, brother,” replied Ellison.

Bottom line is the Mariners are a season-high 13 games over .500, just 2