Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-4-15

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

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Top of the 1st
First of all let me apologize for the rushed Billy-Ball yesterday. I tried to squeeze out an edition in less than hour following P/T and before traveling to watch soccer (way to go Blast!) and it was a mess. Of course you do realize that when I wrote “Tommy Glavine now has 349 career wins, five behind Roger Cl*mens. Yesterday was the 90th time he’s won a start in which he allowed no runs, the same as Clemens. That’s tied for second-most in the past 50 years behind Nolan Ryan’s 97,” I was referring to Greg Maddux. I had Glavine on my mind because after pulling a hamstring, he is hoping to avoid the DL for the first time in his 21-year career.

What I really wanted to tell you about yesterday was the 2:11 rain delay at Fenway on Saturday. Mrs. Ball and I were sitting there only keeping from freezing thanks to the warm generosity of Alex and Oliver Bok trying to stay warm and trying to hear ourselves thinking above the blasting music of Fenway which discourages any conversation. They clearly must use the amps from “This is Spinal Tap” that go to 11.

We watched the first part of the rain delay with wonderment as the weather was more clement than inclement. It was nothing much more than a drizzle. You start killing time by asking questions to each other that really needn’t be asked but insist on being answered, such as “Which of the catching Molina brothers has the most career stolen bases?”

For those curious, Bengie, in 979 career games, has three. Yadier, in 416 games, has four. And Jose, the speed demon, in 412 games, has nine.

But all this talk of catchers got me thinking about the former catcher Rick Dempsey, who played from 1969 to 1992, with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Milwaukee Brewers. Now it wasn’t the 20 stolen bases he had in career that I was remembering, nor was it his 1983 World Series MVP. It was his antics during rain delays.

Dempsey felt that if the fans stayed during the rain, they deserved to be entertained. What Dempsey would do would be take off his cleats, stuff a few towels under his jersey and…well, here’s how his former manager Earl Weaver described it, ”He did an exaggerated Babe Ruth home-run trot around the bases and slid into the huge puddle at home plate, spraying water almost to the stands. Rick rose, tipped his cap, and held it up as he minced into the dugout. Those fans responded the way an audience does when it has seen a brilliant pantomimist perform. Rick Dempsey is that, and a good man to have on your ball club.”

Dempsey’s view of the tarp (which has a huge advertisement on it now at Fenway) was that it was nothing more than a giant Slip n’ Slide. Weaver attributed Dempsey’s ability to his parents George T. Dempsey, a vaudevillian, and June Archer, who starred in the Broadway show, ”Song of Norway” in the late 1940’s. But Dempsey said his parents gave up show biz soon after he was born in 1949.

By the by, George Vecsey of the New York Times back in 1982, wrote a column about Weaver and Dempsey in which he described a 1980 dugout tantrum between the two in which Dempsey was tossing bats, Weaver was tossing bats, Dempsey stomping on one shinguard, Weaver stomping on the other.

”The thing that gets me is, Earl says I made a base-running mistake,” Dempsey told Vescey. ”What happened was, I moved to second on a bad throw and Larry Harlow decided to go back to second. I got off the base because I figured they’d rather have Larry on base than me. And Earl yelled at me. Besides, right after Earl took me out of the game, I tore off my uniform and was taking a shower in my shoes and my underwear. You should have seen that part of the fight.”

Dempsey performed his rain dance a number of times sometimes wearing his underpants over his uniform, making fun of teammate Jim Palmer’s advertisements for Jockey brand briefs and once in a September 1982 game at Milwaukee when he wore a Robin Yount jersey and mimicked hitting a home run before circling the bases. He then often led the crowd in a rendition of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Has anyone tried this since? Well, during the second of two rain delays in the White Sox 6-4 victory over Toronto in 4 1/2 innings in April of 2006, the White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle entertained the rain-soaked masses by walking out to the field and gliding across the tarp on his stomach after taking a running start from right-center. He followed that graceful move with another dive toward home plate as the rain poured down.

How did that work out?

In an e-mailed response to, general manager Ken Williams wrote, “He needs to find another hobby.”

And yet, after recovering from the wet and the cold and my ears stopped ringing, I keep thinking how baseball needs more Rick Dempsey and less advertising on the tarp.

Top of the 2nd
Alex Rodriguez tied Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 15th place on the all time HR list, with 521 as the Yankees topped the Rays, 8-7.

Manny Ramirez tied Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 24th place on the all time HR list, with 493 as the BoSox topped the Tribe, 6-4.

Top of the 3rd
For the fifth time in his career, Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday was chosen as the National League Player of the Week. Holliday hit safely in all six games the Rockies played last week, leading the NL with a .480 average and 10 RBI. He also had an .880 slugging percentage and .519 on-base percentage.

For the fourth time in his career, Seattle Mariners left fielder Raul Iba