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Thursday, October 18, 2007
Top of the 1st
A FEW QUID FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Thursdays have become my favorite day of the week because that when I get to read and enjoy the Billy-Ball opener like you. As you know, if it’s Thursday, it means it’s our weekly column from our Senior National Correspondent, Jerry Malitz. Although, with this week’s entry perhaps I should consider changing his title to Billy-Ball Senior International Correspondent. Enjoy as Jerry truly brings us the world of baseball…
(A)Musings From the Cheap Seats
A FEW QUID FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
By Jerry Malitz
Here I am in London, England and I am working very hard to come up with a baseball angle for this column. I know this much, the Rockies have forgotten how to lose and are awaiting with kid-like confidence and enthusiasm for the winner of the Junior League’s offering of either the anxious Red Sox or the unflappable Indians.
What is making this task even more difficult is that this week is a most intense week in English sports. Upon arrival on Saturday I was thrust into a doubleheader that made pub owners cry with joy. England was playing in a crucial EuroCup (football) qualifier against Estonia (no, not the country from the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup movie) and right on the heels of that England was to play the host country France in the World Cup semifinal for the Rugby championships. Into this emotional maelstrom I tried to get a sense of what London sports fans thought of the Major League playoffs. In one word the answer is a big fat NOTHING.
My first obstacle to overcome was when I asked some well lubricated pub patrons who they thought would win the baseball games. Of course consumption of some strong English pints of suds got my own memory fuzzy right off the bat, but I do hazily recall a few details. My question was met with quizzical looks. How was I to know that a contest between two teams was not called a game? It took a couple of sweaty beer laden English arms around my shoulders and screams in my ears during down times from the two games that were being televised back-to-back to learn that what we call games they call fixtures. Fixtures? Look up the word fixtures and see what you get. Even horse races are called fixtures and not races. What is up with that?
Once I overcame that barrier I had to explain who the participants were. Until I said it out loud I didn’t realize that we had one series between states and another series between cities. I got nowhere with questions about Colorado and Arizona. I might of as well been talking about the new season of network television shows in the U.S. (They would never have believed that a commercial for an auto insurance company is now a comedy series called Cavemen.) At least I got a better response when I asked about Cleveland versus Boston or as they were so lovingly called “those bloody traitors.” Bear in mind that a country that has a door in Westminster Abbey that they all remember so affectionately as the oldest door in England (about 1,000 years old) has a very good memory when it comes to perceived treasonous crimes against the British Crown that happened a mere 230 odd years ago.
I thought if team names didn’t resonate with them perhaps a reference to a star player might do the trick. I tried Big Papi. From that line of inquiry I learned that they do have bagels in London; big ones with poppy seeds. Clearly baseball was going to have to take a back seat to soccer, or as it is called in London and elsewhere, football; and rugby which is more like American football than soccer. Follow me on that? None of this really mattered as England swept their two big sporting events on Saturday as fans of both sports celebrated in true English fashion, with singing (Americans chant, the rest of the world sings), hoisting pints of beer, and wearing the national jerseys of their teams (how many of you have U.S. team jerseys from the 2006 World Baseball Classic?). It was all quite a spectacle.
I had to face the facts that U.S. baseball would not get any respect from the casual English fan but I knew where it was bound to be valued, among the many English bookies that seem to dot their urban landscape. Perhaps the biggest of English bookies is Ladbrokes. They appear to have betting parlors in all the major London train stations (my respect for the English is growing every day) to help commuters start and end their day with a potential bang. At Ladbrokes you can of course bet on the football matches, the rugby finals (England’s opponent South Africa beat the English lads 36-0 in an earlier qualifying match so they are 1-3 favorites), all the different horse race tracks, the Grand Prix of Snooker, which has this town all aflutter, and items such as who will score the first goal in a game, penalty minutes, odds on at what minute mark of the game will rugby legend Johny Wilkinson first tie his shoes (well almost), and virtually anything of any substance during the fixture, but I could not find anything posted on baseball. I am just glad that this is not cricket season as that would have been a humiliation I could not have taken. All an inquiry got me was they could look into it for me. Snooker baseball isn’t.
Due to this situation I find myself in a bit of a quandary. Do I search high and low for English baseball fans, do I buy the M.L. baseball package so I can watch the games in the bright light of my laptop monitor in my lonely hotel room, or do I adopt all English teams for the week and join the fans in the pubs across town singing, chanting, hoisting pints (Did I mention that they have no container laws in London? People often roam the streets and the tubes with beer in hand. I know, I was speechless when I first leaned this as well.), while wearing the colors of the national team? Tally-Ho and cheers. I have a few quid on the outcome so let’s go Johny.
Visit http://billy-ball.com/AMusings.htm and see the archive of Jerry Malitz
– it has pictures!
Top of the 2nd
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Thurs., Oct. 11 @ARI COL 5, ARI 1
W: J. Francis (2-0) L: B. Webb (1-1)
2 Fri., Oct. 12 @ARI COL 3, ARI 2
W: M. Corpas (1-0) L: J. Valverde (0-1)
3 Sun., Oct. 14 @COL COL 4, ARI 1
W: J. Fogg (2-0) L: L. Hernandez (1-1) S: M. Corpas (4)
4 Mon,. Oct. 15 @COL COL 6, ARI 4
W: M. Herges (1-0) L: M. Owings (0-1) S: M. Corpas (5)
Rockies win series 4-0
AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Fri., Oct. 12 @BOS BOS 10, CLE 3
W: J. Beckett (2-0) L: C. Sabathia (1-1)
2 Sat., Oct. 13 @BOS CLE 13, BOS 6
W: T. Mastny (1-0) L: E. Gagne (0-1)
3 Mon., Oct. 15 @CLE CLE 4, BOS 2
W: J. Westbrook (1-1) L: D. Matsuzaka (0-1)
Tues., Oct. 16 @CLE CLE 7, BOS 3
W: P. Byrd (2-0) L: T. Wakefield (0-1)
* 5 Thurs., Oct. 18 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: J. Beckett (1-0, 0.00) CLE: C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40)
* 6 Sat., Oct. 20 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* 7 Sun., Oct. 21 @BOS TBD (FOX)
Indians lead 3-1
* if necessary
Gm Date Site Time (TV)
1 Wed., Oct. 24 AL hosts FOX
2 Thurs., Oct. 25 AL hosts FOX
3 Sat., Oct. 27 Colorado FOX
4 Sun., Oct. 28 Colorado FOX
* 5 Mon., Oct. 29 Colorado FOX
* 6 Wed., Oct. 31 AL hosts FOX
* 7 Thurs., Nov. 1 AL hosts FOX
Top of the 3rd
THE ROCKTOBER REPORT
Due to the incredible demand for the largest ticketed event in Colorado sports history, the Rockies yesterday announced a change to the policy for purchasing 2007 World Series tickets for games at Coors Field. All tickets available for Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) of this year’s World Series will only be sold online at www.coloradorockies.com beginning Monday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. MT.
More details at www.RockyMountainNews.com.
The Rockies’ 21-1 stretch is the best one-loss run in modern Denver professional sports history. In 1974-75, the ABA Denver Nuggets went 19-1 over a 20-game stretch in the regular season, which had been the previous best run. The best Broncos run was an 18-1 stretch in 1997-98, including the playoffs. The NBA Nuggets went 16-1over their best stretch in 2004-05, and the NHL Avalanche went 12-1 in their best one-loss run.
WILL THE TIME OFF BE HARDER ON ROCKIES PITCHERS OR HITTERS?
“Fielders,” suggested Brad Hawpe.
“The toughest thing is going to be making sure we keep our legs strong,” the right fielder said. “We can go out there and practice and do sprints and stuff, but it’s not like standing on your feet and playing through the 4 1/2-hour games we’ve been playing in the playoffs.”
Todd Helton celebrated the Rockies’ 6-4 clincher Monday night with 5-year-old daughter Tierney atop his shoulders, passing her off to general manager Dan O’Dowd so he could hold the trophy the Rockies received as NL champions.
“Now she thinks after every game we come in here and jump around and pour beer on each other,” Helton said.
Top of the 4th
INDIANS vs. RED SOX – REGULAR SEASON
2007 Record: 2-5
Current Streak: L1
2007 at Jacobs Field: 1-3
2007 in Fenway Park: 1-2
All-Time Record: 1008-938 (.518)
All-Time in CLE: 540-430 (.557)
All-Time in JF: 33-33 (.500)
All-Time in BOS: 468-508 (.480)
INDIANS vs. RED SOX – POSTSEASON
Current Streak: W3
2007 in Jacobs Field: 2-0
2007 in Fenway Park: 1-1
All-Time vs. BOS Postseason: 11-5
All-Time in Jacobs Field: 7-2
All-Time in Boston:4-3
INDIANS POSTSEASON AT A GLANCE
In Division Series: 18-13
In ALCS: 13-9
In World Series: 14-16
Game 1: 5-11
Game 2: 11-5
Game 3: 9-7
Game 4: 8-6
Game 5: 4-6
Game 6: 5-2
Game 7: 1-1
Facing Elimination: 5-7
Vs. East: 25-20
Vs. Central: —
Vs. West: 4-2
Vs. NL: 14-16
Mon: 5-3 Tues: 7-6 Wed: 6-7 Thurs: 6-5 Fri: 6-3 Sat: 7-8 Sun: 6-7
vs. LHP: 11-17
vs. RHP: 34-21
When scoring first: 29-12
Come from Behind Wins: 19
When leading after 7: 36-2
When leading after 8: 36-2
When trailing after 7: 4-33
When trailing after 8: 0-33
When tied after 7: 4-3
When tied after 8: 8-3
When outhit opp.: 27-5
When outhit by opp: 12-29
Equal hits: 5-4
When scoring 4 or more: 31-12
When scoring 3 or less: 13-26
With 5 or less hits: 7-12
With 6-9 hits: 17-21
With 10 or more hits: 20-5
Longest Win streak: 4G, 10/9-
Longest Losing streak: 4G,
Top of the 5th
Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp got their start in the Indians organization whileTrot Nixon is a former member of the Red Sox. Rafael Betancourt, now a lights-out reliever for Cleveland, got his start with the Red Sox, in the minors, as an infielder.
Boston pitching coach John Farrell was Cleveland’s director of player development for five years and was a teammate of Boston manager Terry Francona in 1988 with the Indians.
Indians manager Eric Wedge played only 39 games in the majors – 30 were with the Boston Red Sox and the other nine were with the Colorado Rockies.
Top of the 6th
RED SOX TRAVEL
Have you ever wondered how come there are so many Red Sox fans in games around the country? Well, there’s no question that the BoSox are becoming America’s Team but another reason you may see the fans at different venues is because the Sox are flying them there, and making plenty of money in the process.
Red Sox Destinations is a team owned travel agency that sets up excursions to ballparks. In 2006, Destinations ran eight trips, six to road games and two to series at Fenway Park, and attracted a total of 800 fans. In 2007, they offered 11 packages, six on the road and five at home. Sales increased to 3,000 travel packages, with further expansion likely in 2008.
These aren’t just tickets, this just concluded season had a $900 per person trip to San Diego’s Petco Field, excluding airfare. For this fans got tickets for all three games in the club section of the stadium, a private tour of the park, a game-used baseball, a replica Red Sox jersey with choice of player and home or away, hotel reservations and a private reception with Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis.
The trip to Arizona this year included a VIP pass to the swimming pool just beyond Chase Field’s outfield fence and fans watched the game from the pool with full catering at poolside.
Bottom of the 6th
IT’S A LONG, LONG TIME FROM APRIL TO NOVEMBER
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the average post-season game this year is running three hours and 21 minutes, a full 22 minutes longer than post-season games did in 1987. Five games have lasted more than four hours, including the five-hour, 14-minute Saturday night game between the Indians and the Red Sox.
Top of the 7th
This post-season, C.C. Sabathia is 1-1. In two starts, one against the Yankees in the divisional series and the other in Game 1 against Boston, Sabathia has a 10.61 ERA. He has walked 11 batters and hit one in 9 1/3 postseason innings. During the regular season, he put together the second-best strikeouts-to-walks ratio — 5.65 strikeouts for each walk — of any lefty in American League history. Randy Johnson, then with Arizona, ranks first for a single season at 6.59:1. Sabathia was 11-4 with a 3.13 ERA in Jacobs Field this season; 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA on the road. He’s pitched 250 1/3 innings so far this season. In his entire career, he’s worked more than 197 innings in a season only once, when he pitched 210 in 2002.
Beckett is 2-0 with a 1.20 earned run average in the playoffs and is 4-2 with a 1.87 E.R.A. for his career in the postseason. The last time Josh Beckett pitched in a postseason series in which his team (the Marlins) trailed 3-1, he threw a shutout (against the Cubs).
Top of the 8th
DID YOU HEAR?
Did you hear the inspirational words of Manny Ramirez?
“Why should we panic?” he said yesterday in a rare clubhouse interview. “We’ve got a great team.”
And then, this: “If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”
Top of the 9th
IN LEGAL NEWS…
A federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling Tuesday that lets a fantasy baseball company use players’ names and statistics without paying a licensing fee.
In a 2-1 decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that CBC Distribution and Marketing Inc. doesn’t have to pay the players, even though it profits by using their names and statistics. The Major League Baseball Players Association had argued that companies like CBC are essentially stealing money from players, who charge big fees to endorse things like tennis shoes and soft drinks. The ruling could have a broad impact on the fantasy league industry, which generates more than $1.5 billion annually from millions of participants. If CBC had lost, The MLBPA would have gained monopoly rights over publicly available statistics and other information that is used as fodder for fantasy leagues across the country, said CBC attorney Rudy Telscher.
Telscher said the facts and figures are public information. “When you’re using mass information, it’s protected under the First Amendment,” he said.
The court found that fantasy leagues’ broad use of statistics isn’t the same as faking an endorsement.
“… the fantasy baseball games depend on the inclusion of all players and thus cannot create a false impression that some particular player with ‘star power’ is endorsing CBC’s products,” said the ruling written by judges Morris Arnold and James Loken.
MLB’s record in court sends a message that “statistics are in the public domain,” Greg Ambrosius, editor of Fantasy Sports Magazine told USA Today.
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.