Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-20

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

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By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Top of the 1st
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

Here’s a 25-fact roster for you.

Speaking of baseball…

1. I know the Yankees were indecisive about Joba Chamberlain, but he’s been totally non-decisive as a starter getting no decisions in four starts. The Astros’ Shawn Chacon didn’t get a decision this year until his 10th start. Chamberlain reminds me a lot of Josh Beckett.
2. Cleveland should be called the Vampires, the Indians have a 7-15 record in day games, the fewest number of wins by any team in the majors; Florida, Houston, Colorado and Los Angeles each have eight. The Cubs are 24-12 in the daylight.
3. The Rockies have only one three-game series sweep this season. That was on April 7, 8, and 9 against the Braves. They were scheduled to play again on the 10th, but hell froze over – they were snowed out.
4. It doesn’t hurt that the Rays have made only 29 errors this season, the least in the majors.
5. The apple falls far from the tree – Prince Fielder , all 270 pounds of him, has now two inside-the-park homers and 10 stolen bases in his career. His dad, Cecil (240+ lbs.) had 319 career homers, all out of the park, and two career stolen bases, going 1,096 games before he stole his first.
6. Last week, Hideki Matsui of the Yankees celebrated his 34th birthday with a grand-slam. On Matsui’s 22nd and 24th birthdays in Japan he also homered.
7. Talk about dominance, the Padres’ Jake Peavy has a 12-1 career record against the Dodgers with a 2.21 career ERA against them.
8. Colorado starter Aaron Cook’s 10 victories this season is a career high. He is 4-1 at home with a 2.56 ERA and 6-2 on the road with a 3.86 ERA.
9. First Bartolo Colon, then Sidney Ponson, and soon Freddy Garcia. It’s not easy for a pitcher to collect unemployment insurance.
10. You know what Junior Griffey, Tom Seaver, Sparky Anderson, Bill James and Babe Ruth all have in common? The first name of George.
11. On Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful Celebrities, the only baseball player to make the list was A-Rod at #24.
12. Yankees have swept back-to-back series for the first time since sweeping the Pirates and Diamondbacks last season. Unfortunately for them, the Yanks are still in the AL.
13. When Kenny Rogers defeated the Giants in San Francisco this week it was his 27th different ballpark and the 38th major-league park in which he appeared. Among active starters, only Jamie Moyer (46), Randy Johnson (43) and Livan Hernandez (39) have appeared in more.
14. Jason Giambi and Chase Utley are tied for the major league lead in being hit by pitches this season with 11. Amongst active players Jason Kendall leads with 226, followed by Carlos Delgado (162), Jason Giambi (146), Derek Jeter (135), Alex Rodriguez (131), Gary Sheffield (130), Damion Easley (127), and David Eckstein (122).
15. The only current A.L. park the Cubs have not played in is Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum. The Cubs have never played the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but they did play the Boston Braves there in 1914 and 1915.
16. The Braves activated closer Mike Gonzalez for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 31, 2007 and Gonzalez promptly earned a save. Gonzalez has now converted each of his last 31 save opportunities, the longest current streak in the major leagues. The last save Gonzalez blew was on June 25, 2004 at Cincinnati.
17. Hard to believe the A’s are having such a successful season considering that their leadoff hitters rank last in the majors in batting average and on-base percentage and tied for the fourth fewest walks.
18. Here’s one that baseball writers will have a struggle with: Is Jim Thome a future Hall of Famer? Thome hit his 521st career home run on Tuesday, tying Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 16th on the all-time list.
19. With all the talk about the Cubs, people are missing a big story with the White Sox. The White Sox lead the major leagues with a 3.34 ERA and their starters lead the major leagues with 45 quality starts and rank second with a 3.63 ERA. Meanwhile their bullpen leads the American League with a 2.62 ERA. The last time Chicago led the AL and the major leagues in bullpen ERA was in 1991 (2.85).
20. Toronto has played in 29 one-run games the most in the AL but are only 11-18 in those games contests (5-11 on the road).
21. In his 19-year career, Robin Roberts started 609 games and completed 305 of them. He also gave up 505 home runs, the most in major league history.
22. In their rookie seasons, John Smoltz was 2-7 with a 5.48 ERA, Tom Glavine (7-17, 4.56), Greg Maddux (6-14, 5.61), and Randy Johnson was 7-13, with a 4.82.
23. Approaching the one year anniversary of Mike Hargrove’s abrupt resignation from the Seattle Mariners. He’s now coaching semi-pro ball in Liberal, Kansas (talk about oxymorons!). I wonder if John McLaren will join his staff.
24. Indians pitchers have surrendered seven grand slams, offered up by seven different pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Joe Borowski, Paul Byrd, Jorge Julio, Aaron Laffey, Edward Mujica and C.C. Sabathia.
25. Happy birthday Sunday to Jeff Idelson (formerly of Newton, MA) new president of the Hall of Fame.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Top of the 2nd
Carl Crawford’s second career grand slam was the big blow in a seven-run, seventh-inning rally that carried the Tampa Bay Rays to an 8-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs and a three-game sweep. The Cubs had been the only major league club that hadn’t lost more than two games in a row this season. At 43-29, the Rays have the third-best record in the majors behind the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. They’re 14 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history and have set a club record for victories before the All-Star break.

Joba Chamberlain got another no-decision but a career-high nine strikeouts in New York’s 2-1 win to sweep the San Diego Padres. Chamberlain gave up one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in his fourth start. He also helped prevent a run with his catcher’s skills, blocking home plate to make a tag as Adrian Gonzalez was thrown out at home plate twice in the first four innings. New York extended its longest winning streak of the season to seven and improved to seven games above .500 for the first time this year. The Padres have dropped five of six.

Jorge De La Rosa struck out a career-high 10 and Willy Taveras had three hits and scored twice, leading the Colorado Rockies to a 6-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians and a sweep of the three-game series. The Rockies’ 11th victory in the last 15 games moved them out of last place in the NL West for the first time since May 28. Colorado is tied for third with San Francisco, eight games behind first-place Arizona and a half game ahead of last-place San Diego in the West. Since falling to 18 games below .500 on June 2, Colorado’s starters are 8-3. Brian Fuentes pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save.

A grass-stained baseball was stuffed in the right pocket of Eric Stults pitched into the 7th inning in his season debut and Matt Kemp hit a two-run double, setting up a 7-4 victory and a three-game sweep of the basement dwelling Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers hadn’t won three in a row since their three-game sweep of the Reds in Los Angeles from May 19-21. Aaron Harang (3-10) became the NL’s second 10-game loser, joining San Francisco’s Barry Zito, who has lost 11.

Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run triple and reached base all four times he batted, Glen Perkins won for the first time in five starts and the Twins beat the Nationals 9-3 to finish a three-game sweep of Washington. The Nats lost their 45th game of the season, more than every other team in the majors except the Mariners.

Trailing 6-0, the White Sox scored six in the bottom of the 2nd and went on to a 13-8 victory and a three-game sweep of the Pirates. The White Sox scored 37 runs, had 44 hits and hit 10 homers in the three games. Pittsburgh is 1-8 this season in Chicago against the Cubs and Sox.

Kansas City Royals swept the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time since 2001, as Zach Greinke combined with two relievers on a two-hitter in a 4-1 victory. The Royals are now7-2 in interleague play, with road series wins at Florida and Arizona , despite an overall record of 31-42. The Royals won their fifth in a row and handed the Cardinals their first series sweep of three or more games of the season. The Cardinals had won eight straight series with one split since dropping two of three to the Pirates at home May 13-15. They absorbed their first sweep since Sept. 12-14 at Cincinnati, and their first at home since the Mets routed them 20-2 over three games to open the 2007 season.

The Baltimore Orioles scored a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros, completing a three-game sweep their first three-game sweep of an interleague foe since June 2005, at home against Houston. The Astros have been outscored 57-28 during an eight-game losing streak and has lost a franchise-record six straight interleague games and is 1-8 against the AL.The defeat was Houston’s 17th in 20 games.

Top of the 3rd
If you grab a one run lead over the Braves on the road, you can beat them. The Texas Rangers rallied twice to beat Atlanta 5-4, the Braves’ major league-record 22nd straight one-run loss on the road. Atlanta now has lost 22 straight one-run games on the road, a major league record according to Elias Sports Bureau. The previous mark was 21 by Kansas City during a stretch over the 2000-01 seasons. Atlanta hasn’t won a one-run game on the road since Aug. 10, 2007.

Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 for the Braves as his major league-leading batting average fell below .400 for the first time since April 12. He’s hitting .394.
Texas took two of three as the Braves were trying to capture back-to-back road series for the first time this season.

Top of the 4th
Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi apologized to Cincinnati counterpart Walt Jocketty over critical comments he made on a Toronto radio station about Reds outfielder Adam Dunn.

“It’s my fault, I take full responsibility for it,” Ricciardi told The Globe and Mail newspaper of Toronto on Thursday. “I tried to get Adam’s phone number from the Reds … and if he wants to talk to me, I’ll talk to him and apologize personally. But I apologize to him and the Reds. I need to be better than that. I let my guard down.”

Dunn responded angrily yesterday after learning that Ricciardi questioned Dunn’s passion for playing during the GM’s weekly call-in show on Toronto radio station The Fan 590 on Wednesday night.

“I know nothing about this clown. I have no idea who he is,” Dunn told reporters in Cincinnati early Thursday, before the Red played the Dodgers. “I don’t really care what one guy thinks, to be honest with you. If I’m a GM, I don’t know if I would go out of my way to kind of discredit a player.”

Ricciardi offered a brutally frank response to a caller wondering if the Blue Jays had any interest in trying to acquire Dunn, who is making $13 million in the final season of his contract.

“Let me ask you something. What do you know about Adam Dunn?” Ricciardi said to the caller. “He’s a lifetime .230, .240 hitter that strikes out a ton and hits home runs.

“Do you know that the guy really doesn’t like baseball all that much?” Ricciardi continued. “Do you know the guy doesn’t have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There’s a reason why you’re attracted to some players and there’s a reason why you’re not attracted to some players. I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here. …

“We’ve done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there’s a reason why we don’t want Adam Dunn. I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Top of the 5th
Bill Werber, the oldest living ex-major leaguer is celebrating 100th birthday.

“Babe Ruth hit a home run and I wanted to show them how fast I could run,” Werber said recently of being driven in by Ruth after drawing a walk in his first major league plate appearance in 1930 with the New York Yankees. “So I get into the dugout, and — finally — Babe got into the dugout. He patted me on the head and said, ‘Son, you don’t have to run like that when the Babe hits one.’ “

Werber, a career .271 hitter led the American League in stolen bases three times. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, the next-oldest ex-player is Tony Malinosky, 98, who played 35 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. It’s believed the oldest living former professional player is Millito Navarro, 102, the first Puerto Rican to play in the Negro Leagues.

As a collegian, he traveled briefly with the storied 1927 New York Yankees. He was teammates with Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove. He hit .370 in the 1940 World Series as the third baseman for the champion Cincinnati Reds, despite playing most of his career in pain after breaking his toe in 1934 by kicking a water cooler in anger.

He played for Hall of Fame managers Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, Joe Cronin and Bucky Harris, and locked horns in a contract dispute with Connie Mack. Werber was also the leadoff hitter in the first televised game in 1939.

Werber reads the newspaper daily and occasionally writes letters to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Werber has told Selig he doesn’t think women should sing the national anthem, that games today take too long and that he’s disgusted with the long hair on modern players.

“Mr. Selig always responds and always writes me a nice letter,” Werber said, “but he never says anything.”

I want to ask him about his days playing with Julio Franco.

Top of the 6th
This is an interesting site that shares baseball news from around the world:

Top of the 7th
Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm
(L) John Danks (4-4) vs. (L) Ted Lilly (7-5)
Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees, 7:05 pm
(R) Edinson Volquez (9-2) vs. (R) Mike Mussina (10-4)
St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox, 7:05 pm
(R) Kyle Lohse (8-2) vs. (R) Tim Wakefield (4-4)
LA Angels of Anaheim at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(R) Ervin Santana (8-3) vs. (R) Adam Eaton (2-4)
Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 pm
(R) Roy Halladay (8-6) vs. (L) Zach Duke (4-4)
Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays, 7:10 pm
(R) Roy Oswalt (5-7) vs. (R) Matt Garza (5-3)
Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves, 7:35 pm
(L) Erik Bedard (4-4) vs. (R) Jorge Campillo (2-1)
Texas Rangers at Washington Nationals, 7:35 pm
(R) Kevin Millwood (5-3) vs. (R) Tim Redding (6-3)
Baltimore Orioles at Milwaukee Brewers, 8:05 pm
(R) Radhames Liz (1-0) vs. (R) Jeff Suppan (4-4)
San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 pm
(R) Matt Cain (3-5) vs. (R) Luke Hochevar (4-5)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 pm
(L) Randy Johnson (4-4) vs. (R) Scott Baker (2-2)
Florida Marlins at Oakland Athletics, 10:05 pm
(L) Mark Hendrickson (7-5) vs. (R) Rich Harden (4-0)
Detroit Tigers at San Diego Padres, 10:05 pm
(R) Eddie Bonine (1-0) vs. (R) Greg Maddux (3-5)
Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10:40 pm
(L) Cliff Lee (10-1) vs. (L) Clayton Kershaw (0-1)

New York Mets at Colorado Rockies, 9:05 pm
(R) John Maine (6-5) vs. (R) Aaron Cook (10-3)

Top of the 8th
Minnesota’s .311 batting average with runners in scoring position is more than 20 points higher than the next closest team in the majors, the Chicago White Sox.

Top of the 9th
Thank you all for a great week. As always I appreciate all your comments and questions. Don’t hesitate to share Billy-Ball with your friends and encourage them to subscribe. If you see something worthy on Billy-Ball share it with a journalist or a blogger, it always help to have friends give you a little publicity.

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Have fun this weekend and give your kids a hug in person or virtually.

See you Monday.

Bottom of the 9th
Bill Chuck is the creator of 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.

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