Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-4

6/4/2008
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

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Top of the 1st
CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT, I SAY IT’S A CURSE
Big Papi has a very big boo-boo. The doctor’s say that the extensor carpi ulnaris sheath in his left wrist is partially torn. I don’t care what they call it, I call it a curse. The Sox are cursed again.

Think about the season so far:
* They started the season in March with pitchers Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Mike Timlin all being placed on the DL.
* April saw starting third baseman Mike Lowell and uber-utility man Alex Cora go on the DL.
* Then back-up first baseman/DH Sean Casey was placed on 15-day disabled list.
* In May, Brandon Moss needed an emergency appendectomy and he went on the DL.
* By the middle of the month rookie sensation and starting pitcher Clay Buchholtz was placed on the DL with a broken fingernail.
* The month ended with their 8-0 starter Daisuke Matsuzaka placed on the DL with rotator cuff problems.
* And now, to start June, following an MRI, Ortiz’ wrist has been placed in a cast and placed on the DL for the fourth time in his career, but the first time since 2002 with Minnesota.

Oh sure, every team has physical problems, but with 10 players, 10 DL stints to major players, the Red Sox have proven to not be immune. But of all their losses, this one might hurt the most and may go on the longest.

I spoke to a number of medical people yesterday and they all told me this is just something you don’t see a lot in baseball; it’s more of a hockey player or golfer’s injury. In fact, when GM Theo Epstein was asked in a press conference yesterday who Ortiz’ injury could be compared to he was somewhat stumped, “The closest would be Schilling’s ankle, but that was a complete rupture, this is only a partial tear.” He also said that you can’t compare it to Nomar Garciaparra’s wrist injury because he split the tendon. Ortiz’ tendon is fine, it just keeps popping over the bone and he can hear it pop, and when it does, it hurts.

I asked a couple of members of the Red Sox hierarchy what caused the injury and as far as they could tell it was an awkward swing that Big Papi took. Now with all the thousands of swings that major leaguers have taken and really no other reports of an injury of this nature having occurred, are you going to tell me that this is not a curse?

“The integrity of the tendon hasn’t been comprised at all, so that’s why the doctors are pretty confident that if it’s immobilized in this hard cast for a period of time, that there’s a pretty significant chance that it’ll heal itself in that time period,” Epstein said as everybody was optimistic that Ortiz would not need season-ending surgery.

Ortiz said that his doctor told him, “70 to 80 percent of the people that have this, when they get a cast,” it normally goes back to normal. I don’t want to parse words but what’s your definition of “normal?” And for that matter, what’s your definition of “people?” Most people don’t make their living hitting 400-foot blasts into the stands by being able to snap their wrist as their bat explodes on a 95-mph fastball.

Ortiz was hitting just .252 in 54 games, but after a slow start had hit over .300 in May and his 8 homers tied Josh Hamilton as the AL May leader. He leads the team in homers (13) and RBIs (43).

So how do the Sox replace a guy whose 685 RBI since the beginning of the 2003 season are the most in baseball? Epstein said, “We’ve got Chris Carter, Brandon Moss and Jeff Bailey all tearing the cover off the ball in Triple A. Those guys deserve opportunities up here to show what they can do.” In addition, they can use Casey and Manny in the DH slot and have both Jacoby Ellsbury and Coco Crisp in the outfield, along with J.D. Drew, (when he’s healthy).

One move I cannot see happening is bringing in Barry B*nds. Think about the disruption to the clubhouse chemistry, this move would far outweigh any bat production. It would be like replacing Madame Curie with Dr. Doom.

No, this team is cursed, but not stupid.

What is this curse, I keep referring to?

It’s, “The Curse of Harry Frazee.” Now, you may ask aren’t I already referring to the “Curse of the Bambino” in which Red Sox owner sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in order to fund his Broadway musical “No, No, Nanette”? And hasn’t that already been broken by the Red Sox World Championship of 2004?

Yes, that curse has been broken, but there is another Frazee curse that continues to afflict the Boston Red Sox. The evidence requires a very simple chronology:
* In October 1915, the Red Sox won the World Championship, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 1.
* In October 1916, the Red Sox won the World Championship, defeating the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers), 4 games to 1.
* On November 1, 1916, Harry Frazee bought the Boston Red Sox from Joseph Lannin.
* In 1917, the Boston Red Sox finished in second place, nine games behind the Chicago White Sox.

The Red Sox have never won back-to-back World Championships ever since Frazee bought the team.

* In October 1918, the Red Sox won the World Championship, defeating the Chicago Cubs, 4 games to 2. But in 1919, they finished in 6th place.
* In October 2004, the Red Sox won the World Championship, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 4 games to 0. But in 2005, they were swept in three games, in the AL Division Series, by the Chicago White Sox.
* In October 2007, the Red Sox won the World Championship, defeating the Colorado Rockies, 4 games to 0.

And in 2008, Big Papi tore extensor carpi ulnaris sheath or as I call it “a curse.”

Top of the 2nd
THIS JUST IN…
According to to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Smoltz will have season-ending shoulder surgery that could also put the career of the 41-year-old Braves pitcher in doubt.

The Braves have called a media conference at 11:30 a.m. at Turner Field to be attended by Smoltz, general manager Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox. A Braves official confirmed surgery for Smoltz will be announced at the media conference.

Smoltz, the only pitcher in history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves, notched his 3,000th career strikeout earlier this season. After spending nearly five weeks on the disabled list with inflammation of the rotator cuff and biceps tendon in his throwing shoulder, he returned from the DL Monday night and blew a save against Florida in his first relief appearance in 44 months. He was charged with two runs, three hits and a blown save in the 9th inning Monday against Florida, but the Braves came back and won 7-5 on Yunel Escobar’s walk-off homer in the 10th.

Top of the 3rd
WE PLAY 9
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer and Mark DeRosa added a two-run shot to lead Chicago to a 9-6 victory against the San Diego Padres for their ninth consecutive victory last night.

Nine was good for one Chicago team and also good for the other as Nick Swisher, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez all homered against Royals starter Zack Greinke and the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals, 9-5.

Nine was good for one New York team as Pedro Martinez returned from the disabled list to make his second 2008 start and lead the New York Mets to a 9-6 victory against the San Francisco Giants. Martinez (1-0) went six innings, giving up seven hits, three runs, three walks and three strikeouts on 109 pitches. Petey even had a pair of singles and an RBI that helped his cause. The bad nine in this game was Barry Zito’s. His record fell to 1-9. He allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, walked five and struck out one.

Nine was not as good for the other New York team, the Yankees fell to the Blue Jays, 9-3. Joba Chamberlain made his over-hyped Yankee debut as a start and threw 62 (his uniform number) pitches. The only trouble is that it took Chamberlain only 2 1/3 innings into the game as he battled his control. Chamberlain needed 38 pitches to get out of the first inning of his first MLB start. Chamberlain earned his first career balk along the way. He walked three of the seven batters he faced, and four of those seven batters worked a full count against him. After an easy 1-2-3 second inning, Chamberlain, who ended the 2nd inning with 54 pitches, issued a one-out walk to Alex Rios to start the 3rd and Girardi yanked him. Chamberlain allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit and four walks, and struck out three while throwing just 32 of his 62 pitches for strikes. Toronto’s Roy Halladay (7-5) won his fourth straight decision and improved to 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in his last seven games. He allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.

Top of the 4th
HE’S #2
Randy Johnson passed Roger Cl*mens taking sole possession of second place on baseball’s career strikeout list last night, but the Brewers came away with a 7-1 victory. Johnson’s (4-2) 1st inning strikeout of Mike Cameron was the 4,673rd of his career, putting him in second place, far behind Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.

All-Time Strikeout Leaders
Nolan Ryan 5,714
Randy Johnson 4,680
Roger Clemens 4,672
Steve Carlton 4,136
Bert Blyleven 3,701

Top of the 5th
IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON AND ON…
Part of Interstate 395 near Camden Yards has been named Cal Ripken Way.
The designation required an act of Congress that was sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat. The rest of Maryland’s House of Representatives delegation co-sponsored the bill, as did Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Joe L. Barton of Texas, managers, respectively, of the Democratic and Republican congressional baseball teams.
The measure passed on Sept. 6, 2007, the 12th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-tying 2,130th consecutive game, and renamed the stretch of highway that runs from I-95 to Conway Street in front of the stadium.


“When travelers come to visit Baltimore,” Sarbanes said at the time, “they will not only be reminded of a terrific ballplayer whose name has become synonymous with the Orioles, but also a model American and the promise of doing things the ‘Ripken Way.'”



Ripken already has a city street named in his honor. When Ripken retired as a player Oct. 6, 2001, then-Mayor Martin O’Malley announced that Lee Street near the ballpark would be renamed Ripken Way.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Okay, I’m not into heckling, but you have to appreciate artists at work. Check out http://www.heckledepot.com/ which has video and lists like this:
All Time Top Heckles:
1. How’s your Japanese?
2. I’ve seen better arms on a snake!
3. You couldn’t save anything at WalMart!
4. You’ve got less hits than an Amish website!
5. Take off your coat, you’re inside!
6. You couldn’t throw a party!
7. You couldn’t pitch a tent!
8. I thought only horses slept standing up!
9. How can you eat with those hands?
10. I’m gonna break your cane and shoot your dog!
11. You’ve had fewer hits than Vanilla Ice!
12. Hey, Dracula, wake up your bat!
13. Do you want my autograph?
14. Come on Cinderella, get to the ball!

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics, 3:35 pm
(L) Nate Robertson (3-5) vs. (R) Justin Duchscherer (4-4)
LA Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners, 4:40 pm
(R) Jered Weaver (4-6) vs. (R) Carlos Silva (3-5)
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, 7:05 pm
(R) Jesse Litsch (7-1) vs. (R) Mike Mussina (8-4)
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox, 7:05 pm
(R) Edwin Jackson (3-4) vs. (R) Josh Beckett (5-4)
Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers, 8:05 pm
(L) Cliff Lee (8-1) vs. (R) Sidney Ponson (4-1)
Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 pm
(R) Daniel Cabrera (5-1) vs. (L) Glen Perkins (2-2)
Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(R) Luke Hochevar (3-5) vs. (L) John Danks (4-4)
NL
Florida Marlins at Atlanta Braves, 1:10 pm
(L) Mark Hendrickson (7-3) vs. (L) Tom Glavine (2-2)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers, 2:05 pm
(R) Micah Owings (6-3) vs. (L) Manny Parra (3-2)
Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers, 3:10 pm
(R) Aaron Cook (7-3) vs. (L) Clayton Kershaw (0-0)
New York Mets at San Francisco Giants, 3:45 pm
(R) John Maine (5-4) vs. (R) Matt Cain (2-3)
Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(R) Edinson Volquez (7-2) vs. (R) Brett Myers (3-6)
Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 pm
(R) Roy Oswalt (4-5) vs. (L) Zach Duke (2-4)
St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals, 7:10 pm
(R) Todd Wellemeyer (6-1) vs. (L) John Lannan (4-5)
Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres, 10:05 pm
(L) Ted Lilly (5-4) vs. (R) Greg Maddux (3-4)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
In last night’s Phillies 3-2 victory over the Reds, Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins stole his 23rd and 24th consecutive bases, dating to last season. It’s the longest streak in the majors.

Top of the 9th
TIME TO DRESS IN DRAG…AGAIN
The Washington Nationals will host the first of two Ladies Night Out and Home Run Happy Hour promotions tomorrow night when the Nationals take on the San Francisco Giants. The happy hour will take place at 5:00pm in the Rooftop Party Zone, located on top of Nationals Park Garage B and will include live entertainment, happy hour drink specials, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting, massages and manicures. Demonstrations and product samples will be offered by 20 exhibitors and guests will have the opportunity to meet Nationals players. The Savvy Girls of Summer will present and sign copies of their new book, It Takes More Than Balls, a female’s guide to understanding and enjoying the game of baseball.

Tickets may be purchased for $30 by visiting nationals.com/ladiesnight.

Bottom of the 9th
THERE’S ONLY 12 DAYS UNTIL FATHER’S DAY
Show Dad where his memories rank among the greatest baseball moments of all time

Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs: Baseball’s Grand (and not-so-grand) Finales
By Bill Chuck and Jim Kaplan, Foreword by Jon Miller

This Father’s Day, relive some of the most memorable finales in baseball history with dear ‘ol Dad by flipping through the pages of Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs. This book is the definitive collection of baseball’s grand–and not-so-grand–final acts, including:

The greatest postseason finishes of all-time
The last moments of the most distinguished old stadiums
Heroic (and not-so-heroic) endings to Hall of Fame careers
Boxscores and linescores for some of the greatest games ever played
A slew of career statistics, ballpark data, and photographs
$14.95, 213 pages, paperback.

Plus, buy just one copy and receive The Bill James Daily Match-ups for your favorite team delivered FREE to your email inbox every day between now and the All-Star break–a $30 value!

To take advantage of this optional special offer, mention the “Father’s Day Special” when calling (800) 397-2282 or enter the name of your favorite team under “Additional Comments” when checking out online. One team per book.
http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427

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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.