Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-12

6/12/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top of the 1st
A WINNING TEAM HAS A GOOD BENCH
Billy-Ball is lucky to have a great bench with yesterday John Shiffert leading off and today Jerry Malitz, Senior National Correspondent filling while I do my Donna Summer imitation (“On the Radio”). Billy-Ball, his ownself will return tomorrow with my regular Friday, “Speaking of Baseball…” column.

So now, without further abreu (no typo), here’s Jerry –

(A)Musings From the Cheap Seats
…Jerry Malitz

Yo Ho Ho Ho, A College Life For Me

As I was metroing to the new Nationals Stadium (nice but it’s no San Francisco, Baltimore or Pittsburgh) a few days ago to watch the Giants complete a four game road sweep of the Nats (trust me, it’s not really that impressive) I pored through the pages of the Baseball America Directory 2008. After staring at the cover for ten unsuccessful minutes trying to figure out who Eric Aybar is tumbling over on the Rangers (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bUP89db0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg) I went beyond the cover in search of arcane information. Imagine my glee, and the sudden movement away from me by other metro riders when I literally yelped with joy, when I found something totally unexpected. There on pages 287-309 by combing through the listing of every Division I college and university baseball program (291 by my count) I found but four Head Coaches – Why is it that the NHL, NBA and NFL all have head coaches but MLB has a manager? Every other level in baseball has a head coach. – with anything that might be considered non-trivial MLB experience.
I started to think, wow this is not an insignificant sample – I’ll leave that to the righteous political pollsters – this is the entire population of collegiate baseball head coaches! What gives? Why are ten year plus MLB veterans Vance Law (Brigham Young), Ed Sprague (Pacific University), Chad Kreuter (Southern Cal), and Tony Gwynn (San Diego State) it as far as this small fraternity goes? After giving this lots of thoughtful alternating head and butt scratching time, and trying to relive the fragmented parts of my own collegiate experience, I came up with the following options which helped drive them to their new careers.
Option A – Women: Isn’t that why most guys go to college in the first place? It’s nice to be surrounded by up to thousands of young, friendly, attractive women in a confined space on a daily basis. Come on, a show of hands please, no one is watching, admit it. Yeah, a degree and a good job, right.
Option B – Unlimited/Free Food: ARA Slater was my food salvation. I even worked in the cafeteria or I would have starved during college. As a coach you get free food from everywhere on campus. These four head coaches all tipped the scales at around 200 pounds during their playing days. Imagine what they can pack away now (hello Tony Gwynn)?
Option C – Free Tickets to Campus Sports that Really Count Like Football and Basketball: BYU and USC are big time programs. Pacific and San Diego State are up and comers. It must be nice to get comp’d with great seats and have so many days on one’s social calendar already taken care of. Oh yeah, when short of money they can scalp the tickets.
Option D – Free Tuition for all Family Members: Have you seen the cost of college these days? We are looking at about $40,000 a year. Vance Law has five kids and a wife. School for free is a sweet perk. It almost makes someone want to have as many kids as possible, and to stay married, to take advantage of this freebie.
Option E – Finishing up your Own Degree for Free: Law, Kreuter, Sprague and Gwynn are all college men. Chances are that when they were drafted they had not yet finished their own degree work. Who among us doesn’t have a better attention span now then when we went to college? It would be a snap to earn that degree now. Besides, professors might be more inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt at this stage of your life cycle.
Option F – Big Man on Campus: Maybe the students wouldn’t know you, unless of course you are Tony Gwynn, but imagine all the faculty and staff that could get to relive their own childhood dreams by sniffing your jock or buying you a drink (apologies to Vance Law on that count). Never having to walk into a bar anywhere near campus without knowing that someone will be there to buy you a drink for a story can give you a warm fuzzy feeling.
What did I leave out? I know, I know, they enjoy working with young ballplayers and teaching them the fundamentals that they won’t get in the minors or majors. I agree, and maybe that is why there are only four of these guys. So a tip of the hat to Vance Law, Ed Sprague, Chad Kreuter, and Tony Gwynn and please pass the pizza.

Thanking you, Jerry.

Top of the 2nd
WALKOFFS, LAST LICKS AND FINAL OUCH
Bases loaded, Phillies/Marlins 2-2 tie game, bottom of the 9th inning, the situation that books are written about.

On the mound, Philadelphia’s Tom Gordon. Up at the plate, the Marlins Dan Uggla has longed to be in that situation. About a week ago, he and Cody Ross were involved in a conversation about how neither had ever hit a game-ending homer in the majors. Ross got his Saturday night against Cincinnati, and now, Uggla knows the feeling as he hit his first career walk-off home run with his second career grand slam (both this season) and the Florida Marlins beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2. Uggla’s shot was the second walk-off grand slam in Marlins history. The other was Bobby Bonilla vs. the Rockies on Sept. 16, 1997.

The Marlins have now won 4 of their last 5 games overall and have won 4 straight and 8 of 10 against the NL East-leading Phillies.

The scene is now Denver, where the Giants and Rockies are locked in a shockingly scoreless duel in the bottom of the 9th. This time it’s the Rockies with the bases filled and nobody out. Fly ball to shallow center field and Garrett Atkins decides to stay on third and not test the arm of Aaron Rowand. Next up, Yorvit Torrealba who hits a fly ball to left fielder Fred Lewis.

“We had the bases loaded,” Atkins said. “We had to win it right there.”

Here comes the throw, the slide Atkins is out. Or is he? Giants catcher Bengie Molina dropped the ball trying to make a swipe tag, giving the Colorado Rockies a 1-0 win over San Francisco. Molina was charged with an error; Torrealba did not credit for a sacrifice fly.

It was the fifth 1-0 game in Coors Field history and the first since Aug. 1, 2006.

The Cubs leadoff hitter and leading home run hitter Alfonso Soriano could miss six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand after he was hit by a pitch last night from Atlanta’s Jeff Bennett. Soriano is hitting .285 with 14 homers and 40 RBI.

The Cubs beat the Braves, 7-2.

Top of the 3rd
HAVE I MENTIONED HOW GREAT MILTON BRADLEY IS?
Wow is a Milton Bradley of the Texas Rangers a great ballplayer? I mentioned that because Bradley stormed out of the Texas Rangers clubhouse after an 11-5 victory last night over Kansas City and ran up four flights of stairs looking for Royals television announcer Ryan Lefebvre. Bradley, who was the designated hitter, heard what he considered derogative remarks made by Lefebvre on a TV in the Rangers clubhouse.

General manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington were close behind and intercepted Bradley before he reached Lefebvre.

“I don’t want to get necessarily into the details,” Daniels said. “He was upset. Someone who doesn’t know him was passing judgment on TV. It was obvious he was hurt by the comments.”

Bradley never reached Lefebvre, although he was within about 20 feet of him in the TV booth before being led back down to the clubhouse. Upon returning to the clubhouse, Bradley screamed at teammates and broke down in tears.

“I’m tired of people bringing me down,” Bradley said. “It wears on you. I love you guys, all you guys. I’m strong, but I’m not that strong. All I want to do is play baseball and make a better life for my kid than I had.”

Several of Bradley’s teammates consoled him after he calmed down.

Lefebvre, who is the son of former major league manager Jim Lefebvre, said he met with Daniels and Washington about his on-the-air comments, but did not talk to Bradley. Lefebvre said the comments were intended to praise Josh Hamilton, who missed nearly four years of professional baseball with cocaine and alcohol additions, rather than tear down Bradley.

“It was a conversation about how Josh Hamilton has turned his life around and has been accountable for his mistakes,” Lefebvre told The Associated Press. “Right now, it seems like the baseball world and fans are rooting for him. … It doesn’t seem like Milton Bradley has done the same thing in his life.”

“We weren’t singling out Milton Bradley,” Lefebvre said. “We also spent a lot of time complimenting Milton Bradley, but that’s not what he heard when he was in the clubhouse.

“We weren’t tearing up Milton Bradley. I told [Washington and Daniels] this wasn’t a Milton Bradley rip session, but just based on the pictures we’ve seen in this series of him walking to the dugout all the way to right field, dropping his bat, making gestures to the fans in right field and above the dugout and taunting them. He’s the only person in baseball I know that does that type of stuff.”

Top of the 4th
YANKEES TO BE HOMELESS?
State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, whose committee investigates publicly funded projects, said that the Yankees now say that if they don’t get another $400 million in public financing the club might not be able to finish the stadium. Brodsky said Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., “told me that the Yankees have said they may not complete the stadium if this issue not resolved.”

Janel Patterson of the New York City Economic Development Corp. that is working with the Yankees said the project isn’t threatened. But she said the city is working to relieve an Internal Revenue Service regulation that prohibits more public debt to be incurred for the stadium. Brodsky says that IRS change also is being sought to help stadium and arena projects for the Mets and Nets.

“The city is working with the state in Washington to seek relief from the applicable IRS regulation, as this regulation has taken away a tool that would be useful for a number of important New York economic development projects, not just Yankee Stadium,” she said.

If the Stadium is not completed the Yankees will be forced to use their cars as lockers and play their games in playgrounds around the City.

Top of the 5th
JAY GIBB*NS
Buster Olney of ESPN writes about some of the players mentioned in the Mitchell Report who are looking for work (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3437067). As you know, I’m comfortable thinking about one of them in particular getting a job producing license plates, but I can’t help but be more forgiving of former Orioles outfielder Jay Gibb*ns who wrote this letter written to all 30 major league teams, seeking a minor league contract. Gibb*ns, who was named in the Mitchell report, has been without a job since Baltimore released him in March.

“Writing this letter is both painful and humiliating. It has been almost six weeks since my release from the Orioles and I am still unable to land any opportunity at a second chance to play the game that I love.

I am young, healthy and determined. I have acknowledged and apologized for the mistake that I made and writing this letter should be proof enough that I have indeed suffered for my mistake.

I have faith and hope that some team will give me the chance to prove that I can not only be a productive player but also be a stellar member of their organization. My faith in a second chance has inspired me to work harder than I have at any time in my life. My faith has gotten me through this most difficult period in my life.

All I need is a chance — any chance — anywhere. I am more than willing to begin the process of proving that I can and will be a productive major league player by playing in the minor leagues.

As you know, I have played seven seasons in the big leagues and have hit 20-plus homeruns in three seasons and have hit .277 in three seasons (2003, 2005 and 2006). At 31 years old, I have NO DOUBT that my best baseball is ahead of me.

I know that my agents at ACES have tried to land me an opportunity in the minor leagues but have been met with negative responses by each and every Organization. I am not blind to the fact that I have made a mistake and that mistake has raised doubt about my character and ability. It is important that you know that my indiscretions, while regretful, were made in an effort to heal a nagging wrist injury. I would encourage you to speak with anyone in this game, including players, coaches, front office etc. who know me. I am confident that everyone you speak with will vouch for my character.

I respectfully and humbly request that you grant me the chance to play for your organization.

I am so willing to prove myself as a player, and a person, that I will donate ALL of my minor league earnings to your Club’s charity. In the event that I earn the right to play at the major league level, I will gladly donate a significant sum to that same charity.
Once again, all I need is a chance and I will prove that I can be an extremely productive player and a great addition to your organization.

Please feel free to contact me directly [phone numbers redacted].

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jay Gibbons”

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Located on Main Street in the heart of picturesque Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the country’s most popular destinations and is surely the best-known sports shrine in the world. Standing as a three-story red brick building on Main Street in the center of Cooperstown, the Museum opened its doors for the first time on June 12, 1939.

In honor of their anniversary, the Hall of Fame is the site of the day: http://web.baseballhalloffame.org

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers, 1:05 pm
(L) Mark Buehrle (3-6) vs. (L) Kenny Rogers (4-4)
Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals, 2:10 pm
(R) Eric Hurley (0-0) vs. (R) Brian Bannister (5-6)
Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox, 6:05 pm
(R) Jeremy Guthrie (3-6) vs. (L) Jon Lester (4-3)
Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians, 7:05 pm
(R) Livan Hernandez (6-3) vs. (L) Aaron Laffey (3-3)
New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics, 10:05 pm
(L) Andy Pettitte (5-5) vs. (R) Joe Blanton (3-8)
NL
Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates, 12:35 pm
(R) Jason Bergmann (1-3) vs. (L) Tom Gorzelanny (4-5)
Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets, 1:10 pm
(R) Dan Haren (6-4) vs. (L) Johan Santana (7-4)
Milwaukee Brewers at Houston Astros, 2:05 pm
(R) Ben Sheets (6-1) vs. (R) Brian Moehler (3-2)
Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm
(R) Tim Hudson (7-4) vs. (R) Carlos Zambrano (8-2)
San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies, 3:05 pm
(L) Jonathan Sanchez (5-3) vs. (R) Greg Reynolds (1-3)
Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres, 3:35 pm
(R) Hiroki Kuroda (3-5) vs. (R) Jake Peavy (4-3)
Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Marlins, 7:10 pm
(L) Jamie Moyer (6-3) vs. (L) Scott Olsen (4-2)
St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds, 7:10 pm
(R) Joel Pineiro (2-3) vs. (R) Bronson Arroyo (4-5)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Big Papi is now a citizen (and not just of Red Sox Nation and the Dominican Republic). David Ortiz became a U.S. citizen yesterday with 220 other immigrants from 57 countries at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

During the 40-minute naturalization ceremony, Ortiz took the oath of citizenship and held a small flag as he read from a card the Pledge of Allegiance with the other new citizens. He sat in the front row with his wife, daughter and his young son, D’Angelo, who was wearing a suit nearly identical to his father’s.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, who administered the oath, spoke of the importance of the U.S. national anthem — noting that each night at Fenway Park everyone from hot dog vendors to Red Sox heroes are asked to take a minute to recite it.

“He is the personification of what a great citizen should be,” said Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who also attended the ceremony. “He’s the heart and soul of Red Sox Nation.”

Before Wednesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he didn’t know that Ortiz had become a citizen.

“Is that why he had his sport coat on?” Francona said.

Top of the 9th
ON THE RADIO
Jim Kaplan and I will be on the radio throughout the day today talking baseball and talking about our book. I hope you will be listening.

* 7:45a-7:55a ET–WGIR-AM (Manchester, NH). “Charlie Sherman” show, hosted by Charlie Sherman.
* 8:30a-8:50a ET–WVNJ-AM (Teaneck, NJ). “Sam Greenfield Show”, hosted by Sam Greenfield.
* 10:40a-10:50a ET–WHTK-AM (Rochester, NY). “John Dittulio Show”, hosted by John DiTullio.
* 5:25p-5:35p ET–WWTX-AM (New Castle, DE). “In the Zone” show, hosted by Rich Quinones.
* WSFN-AM (Las Vegas, NV). “Freelove & Olson Show”, hosted by Casey Freelove and Corey Olson (taped for play Saturday).
* WSCO-AM (Appleton, WI). “The Home Stretch” show, hosted by Justin Hull (taped for play tomorrow).

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports, http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427 or from your favorite bookstore worldwide.

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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.