Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-7-14

7/14/2008
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

Monday, July 14, 2008

Top of the 1st
WHY I’M ROOTING FOR THE NL IN THE ALL-STAR GAME (AND YOU SHOULD TOO!)
November 2, 2008
“Hello everyone, this is Joe Buck along with Tim McCarver and this is it! The bottom of the 9th inning, Game 7 in what may very well be the greatest World Series finale ever. The score is an amazing 13-13 in a very cold and very windy night at Wrigley Field.”

“They call the wind Mariah”

“That’s true Tim. Two teams battling it out, one, the Boston Red Sox, who broke a curse and now wants to lay claim to the title of “Dynasty.” The other, the Chicago Cubs, trying to break the curse that has bedeviled them for 100 years. Oh my!”

” `My Fair Lady.'”

“Good point, Tim. The Chicago Cubs have come back in this Series after trailing three games to one. They have come back in this game after trailing 8-2, 10-7, and 13-11. The two teams have combined for an incredible nine homers and 27 hits. Every time the Red Sox have had this game in their grasp, something amazing has happened. Perhaps the most incredible moment, in spite of all the homers, came in the bottom of the 7th inning after Ernie Banks led this crowd in a singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” A fly ball off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome was drifting foul down the left field line and into the stands and then the wind took hold of it and the ball flew back into fair territory and bounced off the head of Manny Ramirez and dropped into fair territory for a game tying double. It was the reverse of the curse of Steve Bartman.”

“D’oh!”

“That is it in a nutshell, Tim. Now as Tim Wakefield, the eighth Red Sox pitcher, and third Sox starting pitcher to be used in this game, prepares for his second inning of relief, up to the plate steps Geovany Soto. And wouldn’t you know it, they are playing the theme to `Rocky’ here at Wrigley Field”

“I could go for some rocky road ice cream around now, Joe.”

“Why don’t you do that, Tim? Why don’t you do that?”
This is the World Series we need and one way to help us get it is by the NL winning an All-Star Game that counts. We have to simply accept the fact that as a league, the American is dominant. AL teams are inherently stronger at the plate than their NL rivals because of the DH anomaly. While both leagues have excellent pitchers, the AL staffs seem to be deeper. And the proof is that the American League has taken 11 of the last 16 World Series. The AL has won 10 straight All-Star Games, if we give a mulligan to the tie year. And, of course, the AL has by far dominated interleague play.

When we look at recent World Series, we have not seen total AL dominance but we have seen one-sided contests. The Selig development of the All-Star Game counting is a decision that has displeased just about everyone with the exception of the folks at Fox who cover both the All-Star Game and Series, “I’m not a big fan of the home-field advantage thing. I don’t think most players are,” the Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine said in a recent AP article. “I just think that in an effort to continue the goodwill that was going on between the players and the owners, this is something that we agreed to do because Fox really wanted it. So it was kind of an olive branch thing.” Mike Lowell of the Sox agrees, “If it means so much to win the All-Star game, then you should just have your best nine players play all nine innings,” he said.

Theoretically, home team advantage exists in the Series, but it hasn’t since the All-Star Game counted. In 2002, the home team won five of seven games and in 2001, the home teams were 7-0, and in the last five years AL teams have gone 8-2 in Games 1 and 2 of the Series in their own ballpark. But while there are those who claim that getting that 2-0 start in games may be the biggest home field advantage, I just don’t think home field advantage impacted the Marlins or the Cardinals when they each won or made a difference when the Sox (White or Red) won. I just think that the vastly superior team has won in each Series and not because of home field advantage. They won because they were superior home AND away. The fact that there have been but three losses by the winners in the last five years has made for some lousy World Series.

On the other hand, we do need to acknowledge the power of the home field historically. Even though the home team has produced only three of the last five champions (all since the All-Star determiner), home field advantage has produced 18 of the last 22 championships and home teams have won the last eight Game 7s in the World Series.

If there is such a huge value to the home field, then it should be given to the team that has the best regular season record. This would have meant in the last five years, when all the AL teams had the home field because of the ASG, under this formula, the only year that it might have made a difference was in 2004 when the Cardinals would have started off at home against the Red Sox, but I personally don’t think anything was going to stop the Red Sox that year. Last year, Boston had the best record and they won; in 2006, the superior Cardinals beat Detroit, even though the Tigers had the best record. In 2005, the White Sox won with the best record, and the Marlins beat the Yanks in 2003 overcoming the best record and home field advantage.

But the likelihood is not good for any change to All-Star Game gimmick in the near future. It’s part of the labor contract through 2011 and this logically does not appear to be an issue that will produce labor strife in the future. Particularly, with the current costs associated with travel. Locations for those opening games are narrowed starting the moment the ASG is complete and plans are made for hotels and flights well in advance.

So, we have to deal with the hand that we have been dealt and I would love a good World Series this year. So, while I would like to see Mariano Rivera get the save at this final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, I’m rooting for the National League and hoping for a great World Series this season. And I think you should too, it’s the smart thing to do.

“Get Smart stars Steve Carrell.”

Good point, Tim.

Top of the 2nd
SWEEPS
The New York Mets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 7-0 defeat of the Colorado Rockies at Shea Stadium. The shutout was the Mets’ fourth in six games, and the bullpen’s scoreless-innings streak reached 19. The Rockies did have seven hits, the first time since last Monday that a Mets opponent had more than three. Mike Pelfrey (8-6) worked eight strong innings and over his last eight starts, Pelfrey has gone 5-0 and has given up less than three runs six times.

Jhonny Peralta drove in three runs and the Cleveland Indians beat Scott Kazmir and Tampa Bay 5-2 yesterday to complete a three game sweep and gave the Rays their season-worst seventh straight loss. The Indians entered the series having lost 10 straight, their worst streak since 1979, but outscored the Rays 31-8 to extend their home winning streak over Tampa Bay to 13. The Rays have not won in Cleveland since Sept. 29, 2005, and dropped 18 of the last 20 meetings overall.

Top of the 3rd
THE BALCO MEMORIAL HOME RUN DERBY
The Balco Memorial takes place tonight at the Stadium and there almost was a very interesting participant – Ichiro.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Ichiro was approached by MLB officials about participating but turned it down because of his tight hamstring. “It was discussed,” M’s interim GM Lee Pelekoudas said. “I think it would have been nice for him to participate if he wanted to. You watch him in batting practice and he puts on a show.”
Manager Jim Riggleman agreed,
”I think he would have won the thing,” he said.

That would have made it worth watching.

The participants will be Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, who has 14 home runs and will represent the American League along with Josh Hamilton (21) of the Texas Rangers, Evan Longoria (16) of the Tampa Bay Rays and Grady Sizemore (23) of the Cleveland Indians.

The National League will be led by Lance Berkman (22) of the Houston Astros, Ryan Braun (23) of the Milwaukee Brewers, Dan Uggla (23) of the Florida Marlins and Chase Utley (25) of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Morneau is the only repeat offender from last year’s event.

Top of the 4th
CC DOES IT ALL
CC Sabathia homered in his first National League complete game to help Milwaukee avoid a sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds as Milwaukee improved to 20-10 in one-run games on the year. Sabathia improved to 2-0 in his first two starts with the Brewers, striking out nine in the complete game victory. Sabathia now has four complete games on the year and he lowered his ERA with Milwaukee to 2.40. Sabathia hit a solo home run in the third inning, his second of the year and third of his career. Sabathia became the third pitcher in major league history to homer in both leagues in a season. The others were Earl Wilson in 1970 (Tigers and Padres) and Jim Tobin in 1945 (Tigers and Braves).

A crowd of 42,108 was the Brewers’ fourth consecutive sellout and 20th overall.

Top of the 5th
REMEMBERING BOBBY MURCER by Harvey Frommer
Bobby Murcer became a Yankee just after the glory times of the franchise, 1949-64, and I followed his baseball exploits along with millions of others. There was always a pleasing presence about the man.

It was a stunner when he was traded on October 21, 1974 to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Bonds, Barry’s dad. That was where I entered the story.

The summer of 1975 I was traveling about with the Philadelphia Phillies (The Mets had informed the League Office that they could not host me) writing my first book – A Baseball Century: the First Hundred Years of the National league.

It was a very interesting experience going from city to city and interviewing players, managers, coaches, owners. I used a big boom box tape recorder and an even bigger briefcase to store my tapes, credentials, media guide and notes. I truly was a “beginning author.”

I arrived at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and interviewed the long-time owner of the Giants Horace Stoneham and his long-time publicist Garry Schumacher and other Giants.

Then I came upon Bobby Murcer. He was not a part of the National League story, not a part of the subject matter of the book I was writing and was so honed in on.

But I decided to talk to him anyway and get some of his thoughts. Affable, smiling, a bit out of uniform in the garb of the Giants, Murcer was a pleasure to be with.

I thanked him for his time and continued on in my relentless pace interviewing in the locker room and on the field. I must have stopped for a snack or something and came back to where I thought I had put my tape recorder and tapes.

They were not around. Weeks of work