Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-9-6

9/6/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball…Good luck Jen, on the start of your high school career.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Top of the 1st
GIVE ME A BREAK
If there is any team that needs a managerial switch it’s the Chicago White Sox whose team has sunk from a 2005 World Series championship to last place in the American League Central, but according to a WMVP-AM report Tuesday night that the Sox plan to give Ozzie Guillen an extension at the end of the season that lasts longer than the 2009 team option on his current deal.

“People want me to ask for another contract and make sure people know about it,” said Guillen, whose current contract is guaranteed through 2008.

“I’m not that type of person. I go about my business. I have one more year with an option, and I expect them to pick up my contract. I don’t expect anything different. But [general manager] Kenny Williams never mentioned anything to me.”

Guillen added Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also hasn’t discussed an extension with him, although Reinsdorf and Williams expressed their support in separate interviews last week despite the fact that the Sox are on their way to their worst record since they were 69-92 and finished 29 1/2 games out of first place in 1989.

The collapse of the Sox is dramatic but seems to fit a pattern. Their opponents in the 2005 Series, the Houston Astros, have already fired their manager Phil Garner and general manager Tim Purpura a couple of weeks ago. Last year’s champs, the Cardinals, failed yesterday to go two games above .500 for the first time all season and their opponents, the Tigers, have been fading as fast as Lindsay Lohan’s chances of starring in an after-school special.

Of course, Tiger manager Jim Leyland can handle this decline. Remember his 1998 Marlins had perhaps the quickest fall for any defending World Series champion. Ownership put on a fire sale after winning the 1997 title, taking the payroll from $47.8 million to $33.4 million to $15.2 million in two years.

The 2004 champion Red Sox lead the world this year, but last year failed to make the post-season, finishing third. The 2003 Marlins recovered to win the championship but finished third in the NL East in 2004 and 2005, fourth in 2006, and will finish behind the Nationals this year.

The 2002 champion Angels finished 8 games under .500 in their defense year while their opponents in that Series, the Giants won 100 games the following year before being eliminated in the post-season by Florida.

For a variety of reasons repeating as league champions is no easy feat. The last time a team from the AL appeared in the World Series in successive years was the 1998-2001 run of the New York Yankees. In the National League, the Braves went back-to-back in 1995 and 1996.

The last repeating World Champions were the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Yankees. This decade has seen seven different champions. The 1990’s saw six different champs (with one year in which no Series was played) and the 1980’s saw nine different champs.

The bottom line is that in this age of parity and free agency we really can’t expect teams to return to their levels of greatness in successive years. On the other hand, the performance of Guillen and White Sox GM Kenny Williams has been miserable, certainly not worthy of a contract extension.

Top of the 2nd
POST-HASTE
As we hurry to the end of the season, we rush to judgment:

Vernon Wells, who has been missing in action with his bat for much of the season, hit a two-run 9th inning home run to deep center field against Boston reliever Hideki Okajima to give Toronto a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox. After a Troy Glaus home run in the 8th off of Manny Delcarmen tied the score at 4, Wells hit his 16th homer of the season, but just the third in his past 40 games. Wells had been 0-for-14 entering the game, but was 3-for-5 last night. The Sox took two of three and lessened the Jays already slim playoff chances. Curt Schilling proved once again that he is, at best, a six inning pitcher.

Those were the playoff chances of the Mariners you saw drift away in the 7th inning in Yankee Stadium the past two nights. Sparked by two Alex Rodriguez homers, the Yankees scored eight runs in the 7th inning after surrendering seven in the same frame the night before, en route to 10-2 victory. M’s starter Jarrod Washburn brought a 2-1 lead into the 7th before the 11-man Seattle bullpen imploded. The Mariners have dropped 11 of 12.

Victor Martinez had two hits and two RBI and Fausto Carmona (15-8) allowed two runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings as the surging Indians beat Minnesota 6-2 for their seventh consecutive win over the defending division champs. The AL Central leaders have won 11 of their last 12 games with six of those victories against the Twins.

Timo Perez drove in Brandon Inge from second with the winning single in the 11th inning, as the Tigers beat the White Sox, 2-1. Kenny Rogers gave up one run in five innings in his return to the rotation. The Tigers bullpen pitched six scoreless innings of two-hit relief.

Mark Ellis hit a three-run homer, leading the Oakland Athletics to a 6-2 victory over Los Angeles

Brandon Phillips broke the Reds’ single-season record for homers by a second baseman hitting a two-run shot during a 7-0 victory that ended the New York Mets’ five-game winning streak. Phillips’ 28th homer off John Maine (14-9) surpassed Hall of Famer Joe Morgan’s previous club mark. Morgan hit 27 homers in 1976, when the Big Red Machine won its second consecutive World Series title. The Reds should be happy to win consecutive games.

If the Phillies are playing golf this October they will be scuffling in part because of their shocking loss last night to the Atlanta Braves, 9-8. The Phillies squandered leads of 5-0 and 8-2, giving up four runs in the 8th before Matt Diaz hit a two-out, three-run double in the 9th inning for the victory. Brett Myers (3-6) retired the first two hitters in the 9th but Jeff Francoeur and Martin Prado hustled to beat out infield hits, and Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases. That brought up Diaz who went the opposite way with a liner that eluded Chris Robertson’s lunging attempt and stuck at the base of the wall as they bases cleared.

Ted Lilly allowed six hits and a pair of runs in 6 2/3 solid innings as the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-2 after dropping the first two games of the series. Lilly is now 8-1 in 15 starts following a Chicago loss.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each hit a three-run homer, and the Brewers connected five times in all to beat Houston, 14-2. Fielder hit his NL-leading 41st home run and has 102 RBI. Braun hit his 28th and Hart hit his 20th. Braun’s 28 homers ties the franchise rookie record set by Fielder a year ago. Hart became the fifth player in Brewers history to hit at least 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season. The others are Tommy Harper (1970), Robin Yount (1980), Jeromy Burnitz (1997) and Marquis Grissom (1999).

Mark Mulder’s first start in more than a year was not was he was hoping for as he and the Cardinals fell to Pittsburgh, 8-2. The left-hander who won 16 games in 2005 — but was 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in an injury-plagued 2006 — lasted four innings and gave up six runs on eight hits.

Up for grabs was first place in the National League West, plus the same tiebreaker advantage that a year ago gave San Diego its second consecutive NL West title, but Arizona scored eight earned runs off ace Jake Peavy, starting on only three days rest, and defeated the Padres, 9-6. Arizona scored one more run against Peavy than he had allowed in his previous eight games combined, and the D-Backs raised his ERA from a majors-best 2.10 to 2.43. Peavy (16-6) allowed a career-high eight earned runs for the fourth time. By winning the season series for the sixth time in nine years, Arizona gained the first tiebreaker advantage. “I picked a bad night to have a bad night,” Peavy said.

Rookie right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez became the 449th pitcher to give up a home run to Barry B*nds in Colorado’s 5-3 loss to the Giants. B*nds had asked the pitcher his name and then Shrek became offended when he thought he was remarking that he was follicly challenged and responded by homer.

Top of the 3rd
THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER
The humiliation of the Baltimore Orioles continues non-stop in a fashion unseen since Hillary found out about Monica and Bill looked forward to coming to work and seeing the kindly Republicans. Last night, Carlos Pena homered twice, including a grand slam, and drove in a team-record seven runs as the Devil Rays hammered the pitiful Orioles 17-2.

The Orioles have lost 13 of 15. Including the 30-3 loss on August 22 to Texas, Baltimore has allowed eight or more runs in 10 of its last 15 games. Five times the opponent scored 10 or more runs. The Devil Rays’ 17 runs was their most since they scored 19 on May 20, 2006, at the New York Yankees. Tampa Bay also had 22 hits, its most since pounding out a franchise-record 24 on June 24, 2004, at Toronto. Tampa Bay has scored 118 runs over the past 13 games, the eighth most for a 13-day stretch since World War II. Pena has 11 homers over his last 17 games.

The Orioles are pitching so poorly that even Manny Ramirez considered playing for the Red Sox, Baltimore’s next opponent, but opted to spend the weekend at home instead.

Top of the 4th
AH, TO BE YOUNG
Arizona center fielder Chris Young, with 28 homers and 24 steals, is the first rookie in NL history to have a 20-20 season. It has happened seven times in the AL, most recently by Kansas City’s Carlos Beltran in 1999.

Top of the 5th
WATCHING RYAN
Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, last year’s MVP has 37 homers and 113 RBI. He’s also struck out 169 times after whiffing 181 times last season. Adam Dunn holds major-league record striking out 195 times in 2004. Dunn who struck out 194 times last season only has gone down swinging 152 this year thus far.

Top of the 6th
I’M TOM CRUISE!
Okay, maybe I’m not Tom Cruise, but it turns out that Bill Henry isn’t Bill Henry either.

The 83-year-old Bill Henry used to spend many a day at The 19th Hole lounge at the golf course in Lakeland, Florida golf course telling stories about his 16 seasons pitching in the majors, his appearance in the 1961 World Series with the Cincinnati Reds, and his 1960 All-Star selection. But it turns out the Lakeland man was not just in a bad lie off the fairway. A week after his death following a heart attack in turns out that the Bill Henry who played major-league ball and stunned someone had claimed his accomplishments for decades. The 79-year-old learned of the impostor after The Associated Press distributed a short obituary.

The Lakeland man’s family isn’t sure when the deception began. His widow, Elizabeth Jean Henry, said the couple met more than two decades ago in Michigan. His third wife, she said she never met her husband’s two children, who are both dead. Elizabeth Henry said he didn’t have any memorabilia aside from a few baseball cards — no rings, no trophies, no photos, but talked a good game nonetheless.

By the way, I will be selling memorabilia from my starring role in “Mission Impossible III” right after my next couch-jumping appearance on Oprah.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
The fabulous Jill “Angelina” Albiani brought to my attention the great fun her family has had playing MLB Fantasy Survivor. The game is simple – Pick one team every day who you think will win its game. If your team wins, your streak continues. If you team loses, your streak ends and you can start a new one the next day. Your goal is to break the 1916 Giants’ 26-game winning streak record and to put together the longest winning streak of the 2007 season. The eligible participant with the longest streak at the end of the season (27 games or more) will win season tickets to the team of his/her choice in 2008. If no one reaches 27, the person with the top streak will win two tickets to the 2008 All-Star Game.

Not surprisingly, I’m going with Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox over the Orioles today.

Here’s where you can play: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/fantasy/index.jsp

AL
Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers, 1:05 pm
(L) Mark Buehrle (9-9) vs. (R) Chad Durbin (8-6)
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(R) Tim Wakefield (16-10) vs. (L) Garrett Olson (1-3)
Cleveland Indians at LA Angels of Anaheim, 10:05 pm
(R) Paul Byrd (14-5) vs. (R) Kelvim Escobar (15-7)

NL
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals, 2:10 pm
(R) Bryan Bullington (0-0) vs. (L) Mike Maroth (0-4)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm
(R) Derek Lowe (11-12) vs. (R) Jason Marquis (11-8)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Phillies’ J.D. Durbin is the only pitcher to have a shutout and a save this season? He shut out the Padres on July 22 and had a save against the Marlins on Aug. 7.

Top of the 9th
I WASN’T INVITED EITHER
If Ian Kennedy has to postpone his wedding, at Westborough Country Club in Kirkwood, Mo., on Oct. 6, it’s because the rookie pitcher might be in the middle of a playoff series with the New York Yankees. The 22-year-old right-hander, engaged to Southern California basketball player Allison Jaskowiak, made his major league debut Saturday, beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. With Roger Clemens injured and Mike Mussina struggling, Kennedy could figure into postseason plans.

About 200-250 people are expected for the church wedding and reception. Because Kennedy plays baseball and his fiancee is on a college basketball team, finding common time off for the wedding was difficult. Before scheduling the event, the pitcher checked early this year with Mark Newman, the Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations.

“He said this year would be better than any year,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do if I do play in the playoffs. I guess I’ll have to worry about it when it happens.”

After pitching at Class-A Staten Island last year, he was a combined 12-3 with a 1.91 ERA this year at Class-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. A 5-foot-11 shooting guard and forward, Jaskowiak started 21 games for USC last season, averaging 3.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 24.8 minutes.

Yankees manager Joe Torre wasn’t aware of the potential conflict.

“I didn’t get one of the invitations,” he said. “We just hope his prospective wife is very understanding.”

Joe, I didn’t get an invitation either but the wedding is at the Westborough Country Club in Kirkwood, Mo. That’s the Westborough Country Club in Kirkwood, Mo., October 6.

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.