Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-3

6/3/2008
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

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Top of the 1st
THE BATTLES FOR BASEBALL SUPREMACY
There is more to baseball than meets the bat. Don’t just look at the standings, check out battles that float under the radar.
(Data in this column is prior to action on 6/2/08)

THE BATTLE OF JOE
Girardi versus Torre so far is a study in mediocrity a lot like that “Joe versus the Volcano” movie. As of this date, it’s the NY at 28-28 over LA, 27-29. Get back Joe Joe.

THE BATTLE OF THE LAST YEAR STADIUMS
Aaah, parity. The Yanks and Mets are just so Joe-Joe. The Yankee Stadiums are 28-28 while the Shea Stadiums are 28-27. At least with a record like that the Mets don’t have to worry about an end of the season collapse.

THE TODDLIN’ TOWN VS. THE SECOND CITY
Both Chicago teams are in first place in their Central Divisions but the White Sox are struggling at 30-26, while the Cubs are flourishing 36-21. The last time the Cubs had the best record in baseball was in 1908. What a difference a century makes.

THE BATTLE OF THE BRAVES AND THE ROAD
The Braves are 22-7 at home, but 7-21 away from Atlanta. Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic book, “The Road” is more upbeat than this team’s story.

THE BATTLE FOR THE ALAMO
You have to be surprised with the success of the Astros (30-28), no, you have to be surprised with the success of the Rangers (29-29). It’s amazing what passes for success these days.

L.A. OF L.A. VS. L.A. OF ANAHEIM
The Dodgers are 27-29 in second place in the horrible NL West while the Angels are in first, 34-24, in the not so bad AL West. In addition, Angel fans are better getting out of the ballpark onto the Freeway than their counterparts.

THE BATTLE TO SIT ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY
Those Oakland A’s are surprising everyone at 30-27 while the Giants are surprising no one at 24-33. I can’t help but feel badly for the guy who rents kayaks in McCovey Cove these days.

BUDWEISER VS. MILLER
The St. Louis Cardinals are 34-24 while the Milwaukee Brewers are 29-28. Let’s celebrate with a Dos Equis.

THE BATTLE FOR FLORIDA
Tampa Bay is an exciting 35-22 and the Marlins are an exciting 35-24. The Rays are doing so well in their first season minus the “Devil” that the Toronto is considering dropping the “Blue” from their name. On a bluer battle, Tampa Bay is 28th in the majors averaging 18,418 fans a game while the Marlins are 30th, and last, averaging 14,520 fins a game.

CHIPPER JONES VS. .400
In 1941, Ted Williams hit .406, he is baseball’s last .400 hitter. Chipper Jones is hitting .405. Oh, if he could only freeze this moment in time.

THE “U-TURN” HOMER BATTLE
So far Phillies second sacker Chase Utley leads Marlins second sacker Dan Uggla, 20-16. Bob Uecker is jealous.

BERKMAN & HAMILTON VS. THE TRIPLE CROWN
Houston’s Lance Berkman is second in the NL in hitting at .385, second in homers with 17, and third in RBI with 47. Meanwhile, Texas’ Josh Hamilton is third in the AL inbatting at .328, first in homers with 15, and first in RBI with 63. Who, if either, will win the Triple Crown? I bet on Big Brown.

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Hitting their weight?
Nick Swisher is hitting .201 weighing in at 215 lbs.
Paul Konerko is hitting .205 and weighs 220.
Rickie Weeks is hitting .207 while weighing 213.
Ryan Howard is hitting .208 weighing in at 256 lbs.
Jim Thome is hitting .212 weighing a hefty 255.
Daric Barton is hitting .213 weighing 224.
These guys either have to diet or start hitting.

BATTLE TO BE THE BIGGEST LOSER
The Mariners are 21-36 while the Rockies are 20-37. This is like watching Fred Thompson versus Bill Richardson.

THE ERRORS OF THEIR WAYS
Bill Hall, Jorge Cantu and Julio Lugo have an on-going going battle with fielding. Each has committed 12 errors this season, but not a lot of typos.

THE WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES BATTLE
The Oakland A’s Jack Cust leads the majors having received 41 walks. On the other hand, NY Mets pitcher, Oliver Perez has issued 41 walks. Who will win this one? I’ll take a free pass on that one.

TAKE A WHIFF OF THIS BATTLE
The Reds pitcher Edinson Vasquez has struck out 83 batters, while the Phillies Ryan Howard has struck out 78 times. Kewl.

THE UPTON BROTHERS BATTLE
Arizona’s Justin is hitting .275, with 8 homers, 27 RBI, one stolen base, and has struck out 66 times. Tampa Bay’s B.J. is hitting .305, with 3 homers, 34 RBI, 17 stolen bases, and has struck out 47 times. If I had had a boy I was considering naming him Upton so that people would call him Up Chuck.

THE BATTLE OF DREWING INSIDE THE LINES
Arizona’s Stephen Drew in 52 games (out of the team’s 57 games) is hitting .269, with 7 homers, 21 RBI, two stolen bases, and has struck out 34 times. Boston’s J.D. (short for Nancy) Drew has managed to play 46 games (out of the team’s 59 games) hitting .289, with 5 homers, 25 RBI, one stolen base, and has struck out 37 times. Neither has me drewling.

THE BATTLE FOR WASHINGTON
The Seattle Washingtons are 21-36 while the Washington D.C’s are 34-24. I put my George Washington on the Texas Rangers (29-29), led by Ron Washington, to have the best record of the three.

And finally…
JAY BRUCE VS. REALITY
Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce celebrated his first week in the majors hitting.591 (13-for-22) with a pair of two-hit games, two three-hit games and a four-hit game, two stolen bases and six RBI. His first big league homer was an extra innings walk-off winner. Homer number two just helped his team sweep the Braves and the Reds now have a 5-1 record since Bruce was promoted from Triple-A Louisville.

This battle is a no-brainer, reality loses, Jay Bruce Wayne is Batman!

Top of the 2nd
ZAMBRANO DOES IT ALL
Coming off a 130-pitch effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Carlos Zambrano (8-1) pitched five innings giving up three runs and five hits, walked four and struck out two as the Cubbies picked up their eighth straight win, 7-6 over the San Diego Padres.

Zambrano hit a standup RBI triple that tied the game in the 4th, his third career triple, and raised his average to .366.

The best team in baseball, the Cubs (37-21) held on to win the opener of a seven-game swing through San Diego and Los Angeles. They were coming off a 7-0 stretch at Wrigley Field, their first unbeaten homestand of at least six games since 1970. It’s their first eight-game winning streak since 2001, when they won 12 straight between May 19-June 2.

After playing 17 of 23 at Wrigley, the Cubs began a stretch in which they play 23 of 32 on the road, where they have lost five straight series.

Top of the 3rd
STOP! IN THE NAME OF LAW
Major League Baseball has struck out in its attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to intercede in a fantasy baseball dispute. The justices yesterday said they won’t take up MLB’s challenge, backed by the National Football League Players Association, of prior court rulings favoring a fantasy league company. MLB’s Internet media arm, later joined by the pro-baseball players’ union, had claimed that C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing–a Missouri company that sells fantasy sports products via the Web, e-mail, regular mail, and phone–was using baseball players’ names and statistics without a license, thereby violating the players’ rights to publicity under state intellectual property laws. (A right to publicity, of course, is a person’s right to control and profit from the commercial use of his name and likeness.)

The original lawsuit actually came from C.B.C. The company sued MLB after the pro baseball association began providing fantasy baseball games on its own Web site. MLB offered C.B.C. a license only to promote MLB’s products, not to continue selling its own fantasy baseball games. Fearing a lawsuit from MLB if it continued business as usual, C.B.C. filed its own suit.

C.B.C. won at the district court level and again last year at the appeals court level, which held that the company’s “first amendment rights in offering its fantasy baseball products supersede the players’ rights of publicity.”

Top of the 4th
SEVEN IS LUCKY FOR BLAKE
Casey Blake hit two homers, a bases-loaded double and had a career-high seven RBIs, the most by an American League player this season, but Cleveland still needed a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 7th from Ben Francisco, before David Dellucci added another two-run shot, for a 13-9 victory over the Texas Rangers. Josh Hamilton, the AL player of the month for May to become the first player to win the monthly award in April and May in the same season, homered in his third straight game for Texas. The two-run shot was his AL-best 16th and increased his majors-leading RBI total to 65 in his 58 games.

Top of the 5th
BIG PAPI HURT
Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn ECU tendon sheath in his left wrist. After hitting just .198 in April, Ortiz hit .318 in May with 8 homers. Surgery is unlikely, but Ortiz will be out around/at least a month.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Jim Leyland on Jason Grilli, Sean Casey, players looking the mirror, and divisionary tactics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zrWhro9DHo

Lots of bleeps. Lots.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, 7:05 pm
(R) Roy Halladay (6-5) vs. (R) Joba Chamberlain (1-2)
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox, 7:05 pm
(R) Matt Garza (4-1) vs. (R) Justin Masterson (1-0)
Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers, 8:05 pm
(R) Brian Slocum (0-0) vs. (L) A.J. Murray (1-0)
Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 pm
(R) Radhames Liz (0-0) vs. (R) Kevin Slowey (2-4)
Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(R) Zack Greinke (5-2) vs. (R) Gavin Floyd (5-3)
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics, 10:05 pm
(L) Dontrelle Willis (0-0) vs. (L) Dana Eveland (4-4)
LA Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 pm
(L) Joe Saunders (8-2) vs. (L) Erik Bedard (4-3)

NL
Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(R) Aaron Harang (2-7) vs. (R) Adam Eaton (1-3)
Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 pm
(L) Wandy Rodriguez (1-1) vs. (L) Phil Dumatrait (2-2)
St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals, 7:10 pm
(R) Kyle Lohse (5-2) vs. (L) Odalis Perez (2-4)
Florida Marlins at Atlanta Braves, 7:10 pm
(R) Burke Badenhop (1-3) vs. (R) Jorge Campillo (2-0)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers, 8:05 pm
(L) Randy Johnson (4-1) vs. (R) Seth McClung (2-2)
Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres, 10:05 pm
(R) Jason Marquis (2-3) vs. (L) Wilfredo Ledezma (0-2)
Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10:10 pm
(L) Jeff Francis (1-5) vs. (R) Brad Penny (5-6)
New York Mets at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(R) Pedro Martinez (0-0) vs. (L) Barry Zito (1-8)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
In the “I wouldn’t pay to see this team play category,” tickets are priced as low as $4 as the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies the next couple of nights at Dodger Stadium. Reserve level seats that are usually $16 will be available for $4; lower reserve level seats that usually cost $20 will be available for $6; infield reserve seats that are usually $28 will be available for $9, and field level seats that are usually $50 can be had for $17.

In addition, the chances are really excellent you can see the home team win; the Dodgers beat the Rockies last night, 8-2.

Top of the 9th
QUESTION & ANSWER OF THE DAY
Today’s question:
Who is the slowest player in the majors?

I’m talking running the bases, not Manny being Manny.

Yesterday’s answer to the question “Is Omar Vizquel a future Hall-of-Famer?”
John Shawe Williams summed up you responses when he wrote, “Yeah, Omar Vizquel deserves to be in the Hall of Fame…about as much as Garry Templeton does.”

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.