Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-8-27

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Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Goodbye, Alberto Gonzales

Monday, August 27, 2007

Top of the 1st
As you know from previous columns of mine, I’m a big fan of Bob Ryan, Boston Globe columnist and carnivore. Yesterday, Bob wrote about how on June 7, 1950, the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Browns, 20-4 and how on the next day, they beat the Browns, 29-4. Now while this is an amazing feat is it likely to be repeated? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens to the White Sox this season. But today is the 31st anniversary of a game between the New York Yankees and the California Angels that featured starting pitchers Catfish Hunter and Frank Tanana and what they did I don’t think will ever happen again.

It was a Friday night in California during this Bicentennial season and the Yankees were on their way to a first place finish led by Billy Martin. This was indeed the Bronx Zoo. Graig Nettles led the team with 32 homers and Mickey Rivers and Thurman Munson both finished the season with .300+ averages and Chris Chambliss wasn’t too far off the mark.

The Angels were well under .500 and going nowhere under the leadership of Dick Williams and, by this time, Norm Sherry. This wasn’t a particularly good team with Bobby Bonds leading the team in homers with 10. Overall, the Angels only finished with 63. Bonds’ .265 batting average was the best of all the regulars, closely followed by second baseman Jerry Remy’s .263.

The Yankees star this season was Ed Figueroa but Catfish was of course the ace. Hunter had five straight 20+ win seasons but this season he would finish 17-15. Sparky Lyle was the Yankee star in the pen.

Tanana was having the best season of his career going 19-10 and having the best season of any Angel pitcher, including their ace, Nolan Ryan. Dik Drago led this team with a measly six saves.

This game was a rematch of the match-up between these two pitchers on August 23. In that game Hunter was hit hard for six runs and reliever Ron Guidry banged for two more before the Yankees rallied for eight runs of their own in the 8th inning to tie the game up. The Angles scored three times in 11th to win 11-8.

Let’s get to the ball game of August 27th; Tanana started off strong in the 1st striking out Mickey Rivers, Roy White and Thurman Munson. Hunter responded by getting Dave Collins on a fly ball and then striking out Remy and Bruce Bochte.

Chris Chambliss singled in the 2nd but there were fly outs by Lou Pinella, Graig Nettles and Willie Randolph. In the bottom half of the inning, Tony Solaita flew out to center and Dan Briggs and Terry Humphrey struck out.

In the 3rd Tanana struck out Fran Healey, Fred “Chicken” Stanley, and Mickey Rivers. In the Angels half, Bob Jones led off with a double, Ron Jackson fouled out to Munson, Dave Chalk bounced back to Catfish who got Jones at third, Dave Collins singled sending Chalk to third and after Collins stole second, Hunter got Remy on a fly to left.

The score was nothing-nothing end of three.

Pinella singled in the 4th but advanced no further. In the bottom of the inning, the Angels continued to pick at Catfish with Briggs and Humphrey getting two out singles and Jones getting hit by a pitch. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Ron Jackson flew out to center.

The score was nothing-nothing end of four.

The Yanks went down in order in the 5th while Dave Collins singled and stole second in the bottom of the inning, but did not score.

The score was nothing-nothing end of five.

In the 6th, Mickey Rivers singled with one down, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout but Munson flew out to center stranding Mick the Quick. Tony Solaita led off with a walk, was bunted to second but that’s where he remained.

The score was nothing-nothing end of six.

The Yankees put together a threat in the 7th with Pinella, on the eve of his 33rd birthday, singling and Chambliss reaching on a Ron Jackson error that sent Lou to third. Tanana hunkered down and struck out Nettles and Randolph before loading the bases on a walk to Fran Healey and then got Fred Stanley on a bouncer back to the mound. In the Angels half of the inning, Mario Guerrero, who had come in for Dave Chalk at short in the top of the inning, singled, but he advanced no farther. Chalk had left the game as his father, visiting from Texas, suffered a fatal heart attack in the stands while watching the game.

The score was nothing-nothing end of seven.

In the 8th, White reached on a Guerrero error, forced at second by Munson who was picked off by Tanana. Tony Solaita drew a walk off of Hunter but was quickly erased on a 3-6-3 double play.

The score was nothing-nothing end of eight.

Each team got a single in the 9th off starters Tanana and Hunter and we moved to the 10th, zero – zero.

Tanana came out to pitch the 10th gave up a single, but held the Yanks scoreless. Hunter came out to pitch the 10th, gave up a double and an intentional walk, but held the Angels scoreless. No score after 10.

In the 11th Remy committed an error but Tanana retired the side. Humphrey led off for the Angels with a single and with two outs Mario Guerrero singled but was thrown at second, trying to advance. No score through 11.

But there was Tanana again on the hill in the 12th and the Yanks went down 1-2-3 for the first time since the 3rd inning. Hunter had won a three-hit, 11 inning, 1-0 shutout of the Red Sox that May but Hunter came out for the 12th as well and encountered problems. Remy singled but was thrown out stealing. Bochte had an infield single was safe stealing but Tony Solaita flew out to end the inning.

To start the 13th Frank Tanana returned to the mound and after a leadoff single by Rivers and sacrifice, an intentional walk, Chris Chambliss took a called third strike to end the 13th with the Yankees once again held scoreless. Catfish returned and he retired the side 1-2-3 something he hadn’t done since the 2nd inning.

After 13 innings the game was scoreless and finally the two starting pitchers were done for the night. Frank Tanana tossed 13 innings giving up 7 hits, walking 2, striking out 13. Hunter also tossed 13 innings giving up 11 hits, walking 4, striking out 8.

The Yankees managed to score five times in the 15th to win this game, 5-0 in what I believe will be the last time two starting pitchers will match up for 13 innings.

Take that, Bob Ryan.

Top of the 2nd
Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls we have a great week of baseball ahead of us. There are 18 teams are within seven games of a division or wild-card lead, including 11 teams in the National League.

The only division leaders with a lead bigger than three games are the New York Mets, who lead the NL East by six games after last night’s loss to David Wells and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Red Sox, following their sweep of the White Sox, with a 7 1/2-game cushion on the New York Yankees in the American League East.

This week is comprised of great match-ups

Red Sox versus Yankees – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
The Sox have had the luxury to line up their stars for this series, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling scheduled to pitch, and know they can afford to lose two of three and still maintain a comfortable lead going into September.

Before the Yanks play the Sox, they first have to try to gain a split in their four-game set against the Tigers. Mike Mussina (8-9, 5.22), who has given up 14 runs in his last two starts, both losses will face Justin Verlander (13-5, 3.94). Verlander beat Mussina and the Yankees in New York on Aug. 16, but was thumped by the Indians in his last start.

Angels visit the Mariners –
“We’re ready to take the Angels on,” said manager John McLaren, who admitted he was disappointed that the M’s finished the road trip with a 4-3 record after winning four of the first five in Minnesota and Texas. “It’s not do or die by any means, but anyone knows what’s at stake,” McLaren said. “Every game is huge when you’re playing teams in front of you. We’re ready to play.”

By losing for the second consecutive night to the Rangers, the Mariners ensured that only a sweep of the Angels will allow them to take over first place. They are two games behind Los Angeles and have two-game lead over the Yankees for the wild card.

“It’s going to be a great series,” Mariners’ outfielder Jose Guillen, another former Angel, told the Seattle Times. “It’s going to be pretty feisty. There’s going to be lot of intensity there. They want to win and we want to win. It’s going to be pretty interesting.

“We have to make sure we play hard and play smart, because that’s a team [the Angels] that plays pretty smart.”

“We’ve got to be taking the extra base, because every run is going to be very important in each of these three games,” he said. “The Angels always run the bases hard, always take the extra base, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

M’s RHP Miguel Batista (13-9, 4.57) vs. RHP John Lackey (15-8, 3.34).
M’s RHP Jeff Weaver (6-10, 5.51) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (5-12, 6.03).
M’s RHP Felix Hernandez (10-6, 3.90) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.96).

The Mariners then insert themselves into the AL Central and make up one of their snowed out games in Cleveland on Thursday; M’s LHP Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 6.67) vs. LHP Aaron Laffey (2-1, 4.76).

The Angels have won eight of their 12 games with the Mariners and are batting .308 with 14 home runs against them. Vladimir Guerrero is 21 for 44 (.477) in those games with four home runs and 13 runs batted in, and Orlando Cabrera is 20 for 50 (.400).

The Angels have won 21 of their last 34 games at Safeco Field.

But Ichiro Suziki and Co. won the last series, winning two of three games July 30-Aug. 1. The Angels were 53-35 prior to the break and are 23-19 since.

The Tigers have one more with the Yanks before they take on the Royals. Gary Sheffield will miss his sixth consecutive game today, and he still doesn’t know when the pain in his right shoulder will be subside enough for him to be able to play.

The Mariners will play the Angels one more time, a four-game series in Anaheim on Sept. 20-23.

Mets visit the Phillies –
Ryan Howard ended a season-high 11-game homerless drought in yesaterday’s Phillies’ 14-2 rout of the Padres. Howard had three hits, three runs and four RBIs, but the big contribution was his 34th home run, a three-run shot to left field. He added an RBI single as the Phillies ended a four-game losing streak.

Winning one game out of three in a disappointing showing against the San Diego Padres, the Phillies play the first of four games against the New York Mets tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils are 5-6 against the Mets this season. The Mets won three of four in Philadelphia from June 29 to July 1. The Phillies, the NL’s highest-scoring team, are 2-34 when they score three or fewer runs and 65-28 when they score four or more. The Mets and Phillies have had winning records in the same season just six times: 2006, 2005, 2001, 1986, 1976 and 1975. Only twice (1986 and 2006) have they finished one-two in the NL East, and the races weren’t close. The Mets won by 211/2 games in 1986 and 12 last season.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley may be back on the field as soon as Monday, according to the USA Today. He has missed the last month with a broken right hand.

Mets visit the Braves –
On this current road trip, Braves have won series openers — in Cincinnati and St. Louis — and come away with nothing more. The Braves had hoped for more like 5-2 than 2-5.

The Braves have lost four out of five series since beating the Mets Aug. 10-12 and more than doubled their NL East deficit from 3 1/2 games to 7. The Braves played yesterday without the Joneses as Andruw Jones got a day off to rest his knee, shoulder and elbow. Chipper Jones needed time off to rest a groin injury he aggravated Saturday night.

Brewers versus the Cubs – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano should return from his strained right quadriceps for the team’s’ big series against the Brewers. “He’s going to play unless he slips coming off the airplane,” manager Lou Piniella told “He’s ready to go. He’s worked hard, and we could wait another week, but he’s not going to get any better.”

The Brewers were 14 games over .500 on July 2 and once had an 8 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. But as the Brewers have slipped the Cubs have stormed back, and Chicago can further demoralize the struggling Brewers with a series victory this week. It sets up nicely for the Cubs. They’ll throw their three best pitchers – Rich Hill, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly – in the series.

Ben Sheets, out since July 25 with an injured right ring finger, should be ready to go this week. He’s 10-4 with a 3.39 ERA. The Brewers have lost 21 of 30 but after the Cubs at Wrigley Field, they play 18 consecutive games against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Houston, who are 40 games below .500.

Just to let you know the Cardinals, who are still below .500, but have moved to within two games of the Cubs, play Houston.

Diamondbacks play Padres –
The Diamondbacks play the second-place Padres seven times in the next 10 days. They have 18 games against other division opponents and host a series against the Cardinals. The only breather is a series against the Pirates.

They have issues at third base, where Chad Tracy is injured and Mark Reynolds has become a strikeout machine, having whiffed 97 times in 262 at bats.

The Padres have won five of seven to trim two games off the Diamondbacks lead and their offense has come to life, scoring 47 runs during those seven games.

Padres play the Dodgers –
The Padres are having their best hitting month in August. Adrian Gonzalez, a left-handed batter has a .323 average in August after hitting .247 for July and .231 in June.

Nomar is on the disabled list because of a left calf strain, and is eligible to be activated before the weekend. He has resumed most baseball activities but has yet to test his calf by running.

Diamondbacks play the Rockies –
The Rockies swept a three-game series from the Nationals which was a good idea since they just had dropped three of four to Pittsburgh. Twenty-five of their remaining 32 games — 16 at home and 16 on the road — are against NL West opponents. The Rockies have six games left with the Padres and six with Arizona, where Colorado starts a three- game series Friday.

Top of the 3rd
Truth in reporting prevents this article from asking “how good are the Red Sox?” The Chicago White Sox are simply the worst team in the AL, despite holding the second worst record (56-74, Tampa Bay is 51-79) and they seem to be simply mailing it in during what I must presume are Ozzie Guillen’s final days as Sox manager.

Here’s how bad they were during the Red Sox four-game sweep – the Red Sox outscored Chicago 46-7 in the series. Boston scored at least 10 runs in each game, only the fourth time that has happened in a four-game series since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It’s the first time it has happened in the American League in 85 years. The St. Louis Browns did it in 1920 and 1922, and the Colorado Rockies in 1996. Boston’s run total in the series was the most for the franchise since it scored the same amount against the Browns in 1949.

If that doesn’t express how really bad the White Sox are, but this will: yesterday Julian Tavarez picked up his first win since June 20 at Atlanta. Newbie Drew hit his first home run since that game on June 20 and Bobby Kielty homered for the first time since last Sept. 19, when he was with Oakland.

Top of the 4th
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s bat is going to the Hall of Fame, complete with the outdated “Atlanta Braves” inscription under his name and the number 18, which the Texas Rangers catcher no longer wears, written on the end.

Eric Nadel’s scorecard, scribbled all over in blue and red ink and pencil, is also going to Cooperstown. So is manager Ron Washington’s lineup card, filled with inexperienced hitters, and the ball Wes Littleton used to earn a save with a 27-run lead.

When Rangers PR director Gregg Elkin asked Saltalamacchia for his black Louisville Slugger, the rookie asked why.

“I was like, what do you really want it for?” Saltalamacchia said. “You mean the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, is that what you’re talking about?”

Nope, the one in Cooperstown, N.Y., wants to display the items. That’s how off-the-charts unbelievable this late August game between two noncontenders was.

Nadel, who is in his 29th year calling Rangers baseball, was incredulous as he described the final innings. He was aware the modern-era, major league record was 29 runs, and the all-time record was 36, but there is an important distinction.

“Prior to 1900,” Nadel said, “a foul ball was not a strike. That’s how these teams were able to amass these 30 runs so frequently prior to 1900.”

For every sports journalist in the building, it was a scoring nightmare, something Nadel realized when the Hall of Fame came calling.

“I’m a little embarrassed because I’m incredibly messy and my scorecard from a game like that is a complete disaster,” Nadel said. “But I guess that’ll give people a feeling of what it’s like to keep track of a game like that while it’s going on, and the blobs of ink will show just how crazy it was.

“As the years go by, it’s a memory that’s not going to fade very fast.”

Top of the 5th
Scott Boras is getting ready for negotiating with the Tigers on behalf of Pudge Rodriguez who has a $13 million option for 2008 and on behalf of Kenny Rogers, Detroit’s 42-year-old left-hander, who is under contract through this season.

Rogers has said if he signs with any team for next season, it will be the Tigers. As for Pudge, the Tigers, however, could buy him out for $3 million and make him a free agent.

“He’s an anomaly,” Boras said of Rogers, who turns 43 on Nov. 10. “He has a lot more baseball in him and a desire to play it.”

Rodriguez turns 36 on Nov. 30. He was batting .300 on June 15, but has hit .250 since with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 176 at-bats. His on-base percentage has dropped from .312 to .288 and his slugging percentage has decreased from .478 to .426.

“He’s an All-Star catcher at the top of his game,” Boras said. He added that he “always thought this would be a five-year deal” when Rodriguez signed on with the Tigers in February of 2004. The contract was for four years and $40 million with a $13 million option for 2008.

Top of the 6th
For the eighth time in the 11-year history of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, the Charleston RiverDogs have set a Charleston professional baseball attendance record for a single season. The old mark of 267,908, which was set in 2006, was broken Thursday evening when 4,341 fans clicked the turnstiles at The Joe to push the season attendance to 269,785 with four home games left to play.

In 65 openings of the gates this season, the RiverDogs are averaging 4,151 fans per game. The RiverDogs started the year on the right foot, as 8,426 fans packed Riley Park on opening day to set a new pro baseball single-game record for the City of Charleston. On July 3, 7,931 showed up to witness an early Independence Day fireworks display. The Joe has housed more than 6,000 fans seven times this season.

Top of the 7th
Game Time Team Name Record

2:05 p.m. ET TB Edwin Jackson (4-12, 5.49)
CWS Jose Contreras (6-16, 6.18)

7:05 p.m. ET NYY Mike Mussina (8-9, 5.22)
DET Justin Verlander (13-5, 3.94)

7:05 p.m. ET NYM Brian Lawrence (1-1, 5.57)
PHI J.D. Durbin (5-3, 5.44)

7:05 p.m. ET ATL Lance Cormier (0-4, 9.00)
FLA Scott Olsen (9-11, 5.39)

7:05 p.m. ET MIN Carlos Silva (10-12, 4.10)

7:05 p.m. ET Undecided
CLE Paul Byrd (12-5, 4.61)

10:05 p.m. ET TOR A.J. Burnett (7-7, 3.85)
OAK Esteban Loaiza (1-0, 1.17)

10:05 p.m. ET ANA John Lackey (15-8, 3.34)
SEA Miguel Batista (13-9, 4.57)

10:05 p.m. ET ARZ Livan Hernandez (9-8, 4.96)
SD Jake Peavy (14-5, 2.21)

10:10 p.m. ET WAS Mike Bacsik (5-7, 4.61)
LA Derek Lowe (10-11, 3.47)

10:15 p.m. ET COL Josh Fogg (7-9, 5.27)
SF Barry Zito (9-11, 4.74)

Game Time Team Name Record

7:05 p.m. ET TB Jason Hammel (1-4, 7.43)
BAL Daniel Cabrera (9-13, 5.10)

7:05 p.m. ET MIN Boof Bonser (6-10, 4.76)
CLE Jake Westbrook (4-7, 4.40)

7:05 p.m. ET BOS Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-10, 3.76)
NYY Andy Pettitte (11-7, 3.69)

7:05 p.m. ET NYM Tom Glavine (11-6, 4.32)
PHI Undecided

7:05 p.m. ET ATL Buddy Carlyle (7-5, 5.00)
FLA Rick Vanden Hurk (4-4, 6.95)

8:05 p.m. ET MLW Jeff Suppan (8-11, 4.85)
CHC Rich Hill (7-7, 3.67)

8:05 p.m. ET STL Braden Looper (10-10, 4.90)
HOU Woody Williams (8-12, 4.84)

8:10 p.m. ET DET Nate Robertson (7-10, 4.80)
KC Brian Bannister (10-7, 3.28)

8:35 p.m. ET CWS Gavin Floyd (1-2, 7.36)
TEX Kason Gabbard (6-1, 3.65)

8:35 p.m. ET CIN Bronson Arroyo (7-13, 4.55)
PIT Paul Maholm (10-14, 4.39)

10:05 p.m. ET TOR Jesse Litsch (5-6, 3.44)
OAK Chad Gaudin (10-9, 4.12)

10:05 p.m. ET ANA Ervin Santana (5-12, 6.03)
SEA Jeff Weaver (6-10, 5.51)

10:05 p.m. ET ARZ Brandon Webb (14-8, 2.63)
SD Justin Germano (6-7, 4.24)

10:10 p.m. ET WAS Jason Bergmann (2-5, 4.56)
LA Chad Billingsley (8-4, 3.48)

10:15 p.m. ET COL Franklin Morales (0-1, 4.82)
SF Matt Cain (6-13, 3.67)

Game Time Team Name Record

3:10 p.m. ET WAS Shawn Hill (3-3, 2.31)
LA Brad Penny (14-4, 2.65)

3:35 p.m. ET TOR Roy Halladay (14-6, 3.86)
OAK Lenny DiNardo (8-7, 3.57)

3:35 p.m. ET COL Jeff Francis (13-6, 4.32)
SF Noah Lowry (14-7, 3.59)

4:35 p.m. ET ANA Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.96)
SEA Felix Hernandez (10-6, 3.90)

7:05 p.m. ET TB James Shields (10-8, 4.09)
BAL Steve Trachsel (6-8, 4.61)

7:05 p.m. ET MIN Johan Santana (14-9, 2.97)
CLE C.C. Sabathia (14-7, 3.38)

7:05 p.m. ET BOS Josh Beckett (16-5, 3.21)
NYY Roger Clemens (5-5, 4.34)

7:05 p.m. ET NYM Oliver Perez (12-8, 3.34)
PHI Jamie Moyer (11-10, 5.16)

7:05 p.m. ET CIN Aaron Harang (13-3, 3.68)
PIT Ian Snell (8-10, 3.93)

7:05 p.m. ET ATL John Smoltz (12-6, 3.01)
FLA Dontrelle Willis (8-13, 4.96)

8:05 p.m. ET MLW Claudio Vargas (10-4, 5.13)
CHC Carlos Zambrano (14-10, 3.95)

8:05 p.m. ET STL Kip Wells (6-14, 5.41)
HOU Roy Oswalt (13-6, 3.33)

8:10 p.m. ET DET Andrew Miller (5-4, 4.97)
KC Zack Greinke (5-5, 4.25)

8:35 p.m. ET CWS Jon Garland (8-10, 4.90)
TEX Kameron Loe (6-10, 5.53)

10:05 p.m. ET ARZ Micah Owings (6-7, 4.69)
SD Greg Maddux (10-9, 3.90)

Thursday August 30
Game Time Team Name Record

1:05 p.m. ET BOS Curt Schilling (8-5, 4.11)
NYY Chien-Ming Wang (15-6, 3.95)

1:05 p.m. ET NYM Orlando Hernandez (9-4, 3.07)
PHI Kyle Lohse (7-12, 4.47)

2:05 p.m. ET STL Joel Pineiro (4-2, 4.50)
HOU Matt Albers (3-6, 5.71)

2:10 p.m. ET DET Jeremy Bonderman (10-7, 4.87)
KC Kyle Davies (5-11, 6.10)

7:05 p.m. ET TB Scott Kazmir (10-8, 3.64)
BAL Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.46)

7:05 p.m. ET MIN Undecided
CLE Aaron Laffey (2-1, 4.76)

7:05 p.m. ET CIN Matt Belisle (7-8, 5.39)
PIT Matt Morris (8-8, 4.40)

7:05 p.m. ET SEA Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 6.67)
Cleveland Aaron Laffey (2-1, 4.76).

8:05 p.m. ET MLW Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 4.86)
CHC Ted Lilly (13-7, 3.85)

8:35 p.m. ET CWS John Danks (6-12, 5.51)
TEX Kevin Millwood (8-11, 5.31)

10:05 p.m. ET ARZ Doug Davis (11-11, 4.09)
SD Undecided

Top of the 8th
The Royals purchased the contract of Billy Buckner from Triple-A Omaha prior to Friday’s game. Buckner’s one of the Royals’ top pitching prospects and will work in relief. He had a 9-7 record with a 3.78 ERA working as a starter for Omaha this season.

Hope there are no grounders back to the mound.

Top of the 9th
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Finally, happy birthday to my terrific father-in-law, Jack, and my wonderful Aunt Muriel!

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports,,, 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.