Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-25

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

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By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top of the 1st
In the wonderful world of interleague play we are constantly pressed to find connections between the teams that are facing off against one another. It’s not sufficient to say that the interleague contests are just being played in National League parks to raise the ire of those, like Hank Steinbrenner, who feel that the senior circuit is mired in the 19th century. And its not enough like for those of us who feel that interdivisional play is more exciting and more impactful on postseason races. It just seems that once we get past the unnatural “natural” rivalries we must develop justifying labels for these games that are being played. This week it seems that the games have been scheduled to specifically meet the needs of newstalgists like yours truly.

1954 Revisited
For example, last night, for the first time since the 1954 World Series, the Giants played an official game in Cleveland. This is the San Francisco Giants versus the New York variety and this is Progressive Field instead of Municipal Stadium. This was game 77 for each of these clubs as opposed to Game 4 of the Series and last night there were 29,024 fans at Progressive Field compared to 78,102 at Municipal Stadium. Other than that it was really very dissimilar.

Quickly reminding you the Indians had won a then-record 111 games (in just a 154 game schedule) and had 23-game winners Early Wynn and Bob Lemon on the mound. The Giants had Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes. In the four game Giants sweep, Rhodes had the Giants’ only two home runs and seven of the team’s 20 RBIs. However, the Series will live forever because of the web gem of the Say Hey Kid to rob Vic Wertz deep in center field at the Polo Grounds.

Johnny Antonelli picked up the save for the Giants in Game 4 (according to “Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so grand) Finales,” Antonelli is the last and player to play for the New York and San Francisco Giants and the Boston and Milwaukee Braves) and last night Brian Wilson picked up the save in the Giants 3-2 win (not the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson).

1959 Revisited
The White Sox and Dodgers met last night for the third time ever during the regular season and second time in Los Angeles. That made me the only person who cares that the White Sox and Dodgers played in the 1959 World Series, won by Los Angeles in six games. The Sox swept a three-games series at U.S. Cellular Field in June of 2005, and took two of three games at Dodger Stadium in June of 2003. But in 1959, the Dodgers were the victors in the first Fall Classic played on the West Coast. The Dodgers defeated the White Sox in six games, becoming the first team to win a championship after finishing in seventh place the previous season. With two victories and two saves, Dodger reliever Larry Sherry earned Series MVP honors and reserve outfielder Chuck Essegian became the first player in World Series history to hit two pinch-hit home runs. All three games at the L.A. Coliseum drew more than 92,000 fans, and remain the three most-attended postseason games in MLB history. Last night at Dodger Stadium, 43,900 fans saw the White Sox top the Dodgers, 6-1. The fast working Mark Buehrle made this one a rapid affair. The game took just 2 hours, 5 minutes which meant that for a number of the late arriving, early departing Dodger fans, they saw about three batters.

1960 Revisited
In the first six games of the 1960 World Series, the Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 46-17 and out-hit them 78-42. But those numbers are as meaningful as the first 46 minutes of an NBA game, what really counts is who wins four games. And everybody knows it was the first ever Game 7 walkoff homer and it was hit by Bill Mazeroski over the left field ivy covered wall of Forbes Field as Yankees left fielder Yogi Berra looked up helplessly and the Pirates defeated the Yankees. Last night, Hall of Famer Mazeroski threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the first game these two teams have played in Pittsburgh in 48 years. In 1960, the Pirates scored six runs in the final two innings of Game 7 to win 10-9. They continued their hot-hitting last night defeating the Yanks, 12-5. The crowd of 38,867 was the third-largest since PNC Park opened in 2001. PNC has a capacity of 38,365. In 1960, the Pirates drew 36,683 to Forbes Field which had a capacity of 35,000.

2006, 1968 & 1934 Revisited
Mickey Lolich last night threw a ceremonial first pitch to Bill Freehan, as Detroit honored the Tigers’ 1968 championship team that beat St. Louis. The two teams were meeting for their seventh interleague series, their fifth at Detroit. The Cardinals were 6-14 all-time against the Tigers, and Detroit had swept the Cardinals in their past two interleague series (2007 & 2006). The Cardinals last regular season win over Detroit came on July 14, 2001, but that all ended last night as Kenny Rogers faced the St. Louis Cardinals last night for the first time since he beat them in Game Two of the World Series on October 22, 2006. Rogers that night blanked the Cardinals on two hits over eight innings of work, fanning five batters as the Tigers posted a 3-1 win. The Cardinals won the 2006 Series in five games. The Tigers won the Series in 1968 in seven games and in 1934, the Cards won in seven.

Last night, Rogers (5-5) gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings, giving up one more earned run than he had in his previous five starts as the Cards topped the Tigers, 8-4. The game drew 44,446 fans, the third-largest crowd in Comerica Park history. St. Louis won in Detroit during the regular season for the first time since July 14, 2001. The Cardinals were swept by the Tigers in the previous two interleague matchups.

Well, that’s the thrill this week in interleague play. Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune blogged about listening to Joe Torre talk about interleague play. “As far as appeal,” Torre said, “I think interleague play lost a lot after the 2000 World Series.” Torre added that his greatest concern was the inherent unfairness of interleague play, the competitive imbalance created when one division draws a stronger or weaker division in the other league. Plus, clubs in the same division aren’t even playing the same clubs on the interleague schedule, tilting the playing field further.

I’m with you Joe. The other issue is when teams like Colorado and Kansas City play each other, the baseball fan suicide hotline is always busy.

Top of the 2nd
Jason Varitek was in a 1-for-30 slump before driving in the go-ahead run for the Red Sox in the 8th inning last night as the Sox rallied for four in the 8th to top the Diamondbacks, 5-4. The Red Sox beat the Diamondbacks for the first time at Fenway after losing the other four meetings. The only team Boston hasn’t beaten there in the regular season is the Chicago Cubs perhaps because they haven’t played each other at Fenway, but that may be just an excuse. Brothers J.D. and Stephen Drew are a combined 0-for-16 in the series butthat might be because Stephen is slumping and J.D. is tired from having to play numerous successive games.

The Diamondbacks are just two games over .500 but still lead the NL West by four games.

Top of the 3rd
The Marlins may be fading, but who knows? I’ll tell you this the Rays certainly aren’t. Tampa Bay’s Dioner Navarro and Eric Hinske drew bases-loaded walks off Joe Nelson in the 8th and then Evan Longoria hit a two-run double in the 9th and the Rays beat the Florida Marlins, 6-4. The Rays improved to 3-25 when trailing after seven innings. Troy Percival walked four Marlins in the 9th but still managed his 18th save in 20 chances and No. 342 of his career, moving him past Rollie Fingers into ninth on the career list.

Percival gives us our quote of the day, “Good teams win ugly games.”

In this natural rivalry, of two contenders, Dolphin Stadium was 34% full with 12,352 fans in attendance.

Top of the 4th
Jerry Manuel was ejected from his second home game as interim New York Mets manager, upset with how plate umpire Brian Runge handled a disagreement with center fielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran also was thrown out after taking consecutive called strikes from Seattle Mariners knuckleballer R.A. Dickey leading off the 4th inning of New York’s 11-0 loss last night. R.A. Dickey, who was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA this season, threw seven shutout innings. It was the Mets worst home shutout loss since getting mauled by the Braves 16-0 in 1999. Richie Sexson, who had no RBIs in his last 14 games, had three in this game. Interim manager Jim Riggleman’s Mariners won consecutive road games for the first time since April 17-18 in Oakland.

In other news, Willie Randolph smiled for the first time in months.

Top of the 5th
Plate umpire Brian O’Nora was hit in the head by a shattered piece of Miguel Olivo’s broken maple bat last night, sending blood streaming down his face and forcing him out of a game between the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals. O’Nora was injured in the bottom of the second inning when Olivo’s bat snapped on a groundout to shortstop. With blood pouring down his face, O’Nora rushed to Kansas City’s dugout, where Jose Guillen quickly covered the umpire’s head with a towel.

O’Nora came out of the game and was treated by Kansas City trainer Nick Swartz. The Royals later announced that the umpire had a small cut on his forehead and was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for further evaluation.

The maple-bat issue is subject to collective bargaining, but baseball needs to deal with this immediately before something really horrible happens.

Blood is not maple syrup.

Top of the 6th
Is this the catch of the year or is it fake?

You make the call, but choose the latter.

Top of the 7th
Brewers (Jeff Suppan) at Braves (Jorge Campillo), 1:05
Yankees (Joba Chamberlain) at Pirates (Zach Duke), 7:05
Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson) at Red Sox (Tim Wakefield), 7:05
Giants (Barry Zito) at Indians (Jeremy Sowers), 7:05
Cardinals (Kyle Lohse) at Tigers (Armando Galarraga), 7:05
Reds (Aaron Harang) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay), 7:07
Angels (Ervin Santana) at Nationals (Tim Redding), 7:10
Mariners (Miguel Batista) at Mets (John Maine), 7:10
Rays (Jamie Shields) at Marlins (Ryan Tucker), 7:10
Orioles (Brian Burres) at Cubs (Ted Lilly), 8:05
Rangers (Scott Feldman) at Astros (Roy Oswalt), 8:05
Rockies (Aaron Cook) at Royals (Luke Hochevar), 8:10
Phillies (Kyle Kendrick) at A’s (Greg Smith), 10:05
Twins (Glen Perkins) at Padres (Greg Maddux), 10:05
White Sox (Gavin Floyd) at Dodgers (Eric Stults), 10:10

Top of the 8th
Yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first steal of home. Robinson stole home a major league record 19 times in his 10-year career.

Top of the 9th
Martin Fedun, 14 years old, plays for a travel team, and threw a no hitter on Saturday, as Montgomery Township defeated East Brunswick. It was really something — he had no idea it was happening until his father told him after the game.

He must be a lefty.

Now his father owes me a free hour of legal consultation.

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.

Autographed first editions are available by contacting, or order directly from Acta Sports, or from your favorite bookstore worldwide.

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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports,,, 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.