Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-4-29

4/29/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Top of the 1st
THE FEEL GOOD STORY OF 2008
For many people the feel good story of the season thus far has been the warm and moving welcome given to Bill Buckner upon his return to Fenway on the Red Sox Opening Day. The brilliant management team of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino orchestrated a long and emotional walk from center field to the pitcher’s mound as Buck, on the day the Sox received their 2007 World Championship rings, was greeted with love and forgiveness by fans who had unfairly vilified him since 1986.

That is indeed a beautiful, warm feel good story. It’s nothing compared to the one that should happen shortly.

The time has come for Ken Griffey, Jr. to return to Seattle and all the cards are in place to make this happen.

When Ken Griffey Jr. joined his hometown Reds in 2000 from the Mariners, great things for him and his team seemed to be a pitch away. Jack McKeon had just been chosen NL Manager of the Year for leading the Cincinnati Reds to within one victory of the playoffs. General manager Jim Bowden was talking about champagne celebrations in the near future.

Since that time, Griffey has played for six managers, four general managers and two owners. Even worse is what happened to Junior himself.

After hitting 438 homers before his 31st birthday, which, if you are doing the math, was 72 more than Aaron at the same age, Junior hit just 63 over the next four years. It was not an adjustment to a new league that caused the problem it was a torn hamstring, a torn patella tendon, a dislocated shoulder, a torn ankle, another torn hamstring, a dislocated toe – enough tears to bring tears to your eyes.

But in spite of all this, Griffey is swings away from hitting the 600th home run of his career. Currently at 597, he will be the sixth player to reach the mark, and the only one to do so in the past 37 years without an asterisk embedded in his name like B*nds and S*sa. Griffey would honestly join the ranks of Aaron, Ruth and Mays.

So, why am I convinced that this deal should and will happen?

Let’s look first at the Mariners. The team is floundering in the bottom third in runs. They have the fourth lowest batting average. They exceed only Kansas City and Minnesota in On Base Percentage. Their DH, Jose Vidro is hitting .195. The M’s are just under .500 but the division is weak, there is plenty of time to make up the games they trail the A’s and Angels.

Let’s look at the Reds. They just fired general manager Wayne Krvisky and hired former GM of the St. Louis Cardinals Walt Jocketty. They have a new manager in Dusty Baker and will spend the season floundering under .500. They are not good enough this year to compete with the Cubs or the Brewers. But Jocketty is going to want to overhaul this team and their most important element to do this will be money. Griffey has a club option for 2009 at $16.5 million, with a $4 million buyout. Even though he’s the team’s marquee player and its biggest gate attraction, the team can justify this deal, but only this deal for Griffey.

It’s time for the future Hall of Famer to bring his MVP award, 10 Gold Gloves, and 13 All-Star selections back to Seattle.

And, whether the Reds and M’s opt to wait until Junior hits his 600th or do it before, they both know the trade is right for both clubs, for Ken Griffey, Jr. and for baseball.

It should happen.

Top of the 2nd
THE YANKEE FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
Here’s how the Yankees need to win these days. The Indians’ Aaron Laffey, making his season, debut took a no-hitter in the 6th inning last night. But in that fateful inning, trailing 2-0, the New Yawkahs had three infield singles, on single to the outfield, a hit batsman and two groundouts to first and a 4-2 lead. Hideki Matsui’s RBI double (those were the only five Yankee hits) in the 8th made it 5-2 and the Yankees bullpen mad that a final.

Mike Mussina picked up his 253rd win, tying Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell on the career list for 41st place. Mussina (3-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in five innings, just enough to tie Bert Blyleven for 12th place in AL wins ,and just enough to not become Barry Zito. Then came the key to the victory: Mussina was followed by Jonathan Albaladejo, Kyle Farnsworth, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, who worked the 9th for his eighth save in eight tries and the 451st of his career. New York’s bullpen held the Indians to one hit over the final four innings.

After 18 road games in April, the Yanks are finally heading home.

Top of the 3rd
THE CURSE OF B*NDS
Now the Giants will have a bad bullpen.

Barry Zito was demoted to the bullpen yesterday by the San Francisco Giants, who hope to salvage something from their $126 million, seven-year contract with the clueless pitcher. The lefty has lost his first six starts this season and has a 7.53 ERA. A three-time All-Star and San Francisco’s opening-day starter this season, Zito is only the third pitcher since 1956 to go 0-6 before May, joining Texas’ Dave Stewart (1984) and Detroit’s Mike Maroth (2003).

Top of the 4th
YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR TIE ON
Cool game in Chicago yesterday? You could say that, I’ll opt for cold and wet.

The game between the Orioles and the ChiSox at U.S. Cellular Field was delayed at the start with a 2-hour, 6-minute rain delay, the fans were probably very mixed on that call. But because this was the last time the Orioles and the White Sox would meet in Chicago this season every effort was made by the umps to get the game in.

But despite the horrible conditions for the players and the fans, the game went on. The White Sox took a 2-1 lead in the 7th on Paul Konerko’s one-out single off Chad Bradford, scoring Nick Swisher. He had reached on a leadoff walk, one of seven issued by Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera, who struggled with his footing on the wet mound.

Javier Vazquez, only had allowed only Aubrey Huff’s home run, but Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen brought in Bobby Jenks for the 9th, and Roberts laced his first pitch down the left-field line for a double. He then stole third on Jenks’ next pitch and scored on Melvin Mora’s single. It was Jenks’ third blown save in his past five appearances against the Orioles.

Fear not fair weather friends, the O’s took a lead in the 11th on Ramon Hernandez’s home run off Scott Linebrink but gave it back in the bottom of the inning when Juan Uribe homered off Orioles closer George Sherrill, who suffered his first blown save in 10 chances.

And now with the field a quagmire, it was pronounced over. The game was suspended with the game tied at 3 after the bottom of the 11th inning.

A winner or a make-up still hasn’t been decided.

Top of the 5th
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe writes about Manny and his 496 homers:
“He was smiling when he said it.

“I’m mad,” Manny Ram