Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-7-23

7/23/2008
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, July 23, 2008

Top of the 1st
YOU WANNA BET?
How many times when you were a kid did a disagreement ultimately include the phrase, “You wanna bet?” Invariably, as a kid, a bet would revolve in different recollection of facts as in:

“I’m telling you Mays had more .300 seasons than Mantle!”

“Oh no, he didn’t!”

“You wanna bet?”

Then came the discussion of money. It would start with a million dollars and quickly work it’s way down to a dollar, a quarter, or, as most of the time in my case, “a gentlemen’s bet.”

I never really liked betting when I was a kid because first of all I didn’t want to lose a million dollars and second of all, nobody ever paid a million dollars if you won. Those bets didn’t bother me as much as the bets involving winning or losing a dollar.

First of all, I hated losing a dollar. Hated it. A dollar didn’t mean as much to me as to what a dollar could get – egg creams, slices of pizza, comic books, and packs of baseball cards. Would I bet a pack of baseball cards? I don’t think so! Way too valuable. Buying a pack of baseball cards was enough of a gamble – would you get Henry Aaron or Wayne Terwilliger?

Then winning didn’t feel so good to me either. I had no real interest in taking money from my friends; my interest then (and now) was in being right. That is the real pleasure. That is a level of satisfaction that cannot be measured in egg creams and pizzas, but is just as delicious and significantly less fattening.

So, with a shake of the hand, or a twist of the pinky (“pinky bets” were always legally binding) I would make a gentlemen’s bet. Sometimes, I would bet two gentlemen I didn’t care, as it was now all about the information and no longer would I be haunted with the torture of possibly losing filthy lucre.

I’ve remained that way about betting into adulthood (aging immaturity is a better description). Occasionally I’ll play poker and enjoy it, but more often I’m content to have the game end and just hang out. I love going to a casino and playing blackjack, but only if the stakes are low. But, one thing I have never done, and most likely never do, is bet on baseball.

This is no Pete Rose kind of morality and I have no condemnation for those who do gamble. It’s just that I enjoy the games and moments in baseball so much that it would be like ruining a good slice of pizza by putting ham and pineapple on it (What is it with you people?!?). I just find that there is enough anxiety watching a good ballgame as it is without the pressure of having money riding on it.

There is an aspect of gambling that has always intrigued me however. I would love to be “the house” because correct me if I’m wrong, the house always wins. But, I’m not talking about being a bookie, that again gets me too mixed up with the money and losing and losing (please note, if you haven’t noticed losing is way more painful to me than winning is pleasurable). I want to be the guy who suggests to the bookie bets that could be offered.

I looked it up and apparently these are called “proposition bets.” The proposition is a special bet that is most popular when it comes to things like who will win the coin toss in the Super Bowl but is also used apparently in everyday sports betting. Propositions can range from what team will score first, if runs will be scored early or even individual player propositions.

So here are 15 proposition wagers that I think would be interesting this season (I’ll let someone who knows what they are doing figure out the odds):
1. Who will finish with a higher winning percentage, the top team in the NL West or the worst team in AL East?
2. Who will finish with more strikeouts, the leading pitcher or the leading batter?
3. Who will have more stolen bases, the leading individual or the team with the least SBs?
4. Will the Yankees make the post-season?
5. Will the Pirates finish at .500 or better?
6. Will Manny be suspended at any point this season?
7. Will K-Rod break Bobby Thigpen’s saves record?
8. Which Chicago team will finish with the better record?
9. Which New York team will finish with the better record?
10. Will the Angels lose more games on the road than the Mariners win?
11. Will the Red Sox win 60 games at home?
12. Will Chipper Jones end up with a higher batting average than the winning percentage of the worst team in baseball?
13. Who will get more votes for the Hall of Fame, Jim Rice or Bert Blyleven?
14. Will there be more than one 20 game winner this season?
15. Will any pitcher lose more than 19 games?

So there you go, that should keep you busy for a while. Go place your bets and make sure winner sends me a cut. Consider that we have a gentleman’s agreement on that.

As for Mantle and Mays, I think they each ended with ten .300 seasons…and no, I don’t wanna bet.

Top of the 2nd
D-BACKS SAY “RAUCH”, MET’S SAY “OUCH”
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a major move for their ailing bullpen by acquiring reliever Jon Rauch from the Washington Nationals for top infield prospect Emilio Bonifacio. Rauch was 4-2 with 17 saves in 22 chances and a 2.98 ERA for the Nationals. He struck out 44 and walked seven. The 29-year-old has been filling in as the closer most of the season for the injured Chad Cordero.

The D-Backs last night made it two in a row over the Cubs with a 9-2 victory with Rauch pitching a scoreless 9th. Arizona is now back to .500 (50-50). With Los Angeles losing 10-1 at Colorado, the Diamondbacks have a one-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. The Cubs, still with the NL’s best record at 58-42, are just one game up on Milwaukee in the NL Central after the Brewers won at St. Louis 4-3.

But the story is the Mets who really could have used Rauch last night as the Phillies partied like it was 2007. With the Mets having a 5-2 lead going into the 9th and closer Billy Wagner unavailable because of shoulder pain, Duaner Sanchez came on to retire no one. Six times the Phillies scored, their most in the 9th inning since 2005, and they came away with an 8-6 victory. Mets starter Johan Santana got another no decision for his efforts and now has just one win in his last nine starts. Philadelphia improved to 4-39 this season when trailing entering the 9th inning. Meanwhile, New York drops to 46-3 when taking a lead into the 9th.

Somewhere Willie Randolph is smiling.

Top of the 3rd
NEW REDS HALL OF FAMERS
This past Saturday night, the Reds enshrined the following in their Hall of Fame:
Barry Larkin, shortstop for 19 seasons, 1986-2004, all with the Reds. 1995 NL Most Valuable Player; 12-time All-Star; nine-time Silver Slugger award winner; three-time Gold glove winner. He hit 33 homers and stole 36 bases in 1996; hit .300 nine times and had a career batting average of .295. The Reds first drafted Larkin out of high school in the second round in 1982, but he opted to attend the University of Michigan. The Reds took him with the fourth pick in 1985.

Cesar Geronimo, outfielder, for 15 seasons nine with the Reds. He won consecutive Gold Gloves in 1974, ’75, ’76 and ’77. He played in eight postseason series with the Reds. He had his best offensive season in 1976, batting .307 in the eighth spot in the order. He was second in the NL in triples with 11 in 1976.

Joey Jay, starting pitcher for 12 big league seasons, 5+ with the Reds. He was a National League All-Star in 1961 but did not participate. He won 21 games in back-to-back seasons in 1961 and ’62, leading the NL in wins and shutouts (4) in 1961. He was the winning pitcher in the only game the Reds won vs. the Yankees in the 1961 World Series. He allowed only two runs in a complete-game effort.

Garry Herrmann, front-office executive and was the club’s chief executive officer and general manager from 1902-27. Under his leadership, the Reds won the franchise’s first World Series in 1919, finished second in the National League three times and third four times.

In current news:
Jeff Keppinger hit a run-scoring double with one out in the 11th inning last night, sending the Reds to a 4-3 victory over the Padres.

Top of the 4th
THE DODGERS AT THE LIBRARY
“Play Ball! Images of Dodger Blue, 1958-1988” is currently on display at the Los Angeles Central Library through Nov. 9. The display consists of archival photos from the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the library’s Security Pacific National Bank collection, which includes photos from the publishing days of the Valley Times and Hollywood Citizen News.

Some of the pictures still have editor’s “crop marks,” illustrating how photo editing and page makeup were done before computers and digital cameras. The curator, David Davis, said, “Since 1958, the Dodgers have been a vital, integral part of the social fabric of Los Angeles.” He added that the exhibit is a historical snapshot of the team’s first 30 years in L.A., images of Walter O’Malley’s move from Brooklyn, World Series wins at the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, the presence of such players and managers as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Walter Alston, Tom Lasorda, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Steve Garvey and Fernando Valenzuela, and broadcaster Vin Scully.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours.

In current news:
Monday night the Dodgers defeated the Rockies, 16-10. Last night the Rockies prevailed, 10-1. The last time the Dodgers allowed at least 10 runs in back-to-back games against the same team was September 2-3, 2005 — also at Colorado.

Top of the 5th
NEW INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Three icons of New England baseball, Jim Rice, Joe Morgan and Ben Mondor, were inducted into the International League Hall of Fame before Sunday’s game at McCoy Stadium.

Rice was the sixth and last player to win the league’s Triple Crown when he hit .337 with 25 home runs and 103 RBI in 1974 – the same year he was voted the Most Valuable Player.

Morgan is the only man to win the I.L.’s MVP Award (1964 with Atlanta) and Manager of the Year Awards (1973 with Charleston and 1977 with Pawtucket). He won a Governors’ Cup while playing for Atlanta and a pennant with Charleston. Morgan won 845 games as an I.L. manager, including a franchise-record 601 with Pawtucket.

Mondor purchased the bankrupt Triple-A franchise in Pawtucket prior to the 1977 season and is generally credited with saving minor league baseball in the city. Mondor, who was voted the 1999 Minor League Executive of the Year, helped raise attendance from 70,354 in 1977 to a franchise-record 688,421 In 2005.

The I.L. Hall had been dormant since 1964 and was revived this year.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Every team hopes to find its franchise player, but who are the all-time cornerstones for each club?

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 3 on the 7 p.m. ET edition and continuing throughout the month, “Baseball Tonight” will name the three greatest players in the history of each franchise.

A panel of ESPN experts will rank the top three players for each franchise, with ESPN the Magazine senior writer and “Baseball Tonight” panelist Tim Kurkjian providing historical perspective on each of the 30 players named a team’s all-time best.

But SportsNation needs your help. Voters will also take part in the debate by voting for each franchise’s all-time greatest player. In addition, during several broadcasts throughout the month, they’ll be looking for your e-mails in special “Chatter Up” segments.

Special guests, including some of those named all-time franchise greats, will also appear on various editions of “Baseball Tonight” throughout the month.

Here’s the site – voting is now open: http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/story?page=bbtnfranchisegreats

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays, 12:40 pm
(L) Greg Smith (5-8) vs. (R) James Shields (8-6)
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees, 1:05 pm
(L) Glen Perkins (7-2) vs. (R) Mike Mussina (12-6)
Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox, 2:05 pm
(R) Kevin Millwood (6-6) vs. (L) Clayton Richard (0-0)
Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals, 2:10 pm
(R) Armando Galarraga (7-4) vs. (R) Zack Greinke (7-6)
Cleveland Indians at LA Angels of Anaheim, 3:35 pm
(L) Aaron Laffey (5-6) vs. (R) John Lackey (7-2)
Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners, 4:40 pm
(R) Clay Buchholz (2-5) vs. (R) Felix Hernandez (7-6)
Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(R) A.J. Burnett (10-9) vs. (R) Jeremy Guthrie (6-7)

NL
San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds, 12:35 pm
(R) Greg Maddux (3-8) vs. (R) Bronson Arroyo (8-7)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros, 2:05 pm
(R) Ian Snell (3-8) vs. (R) Brian Moehler (5-4)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, 3:05 pm
(R) Hiroki Kuroda (5-6) vs. (L) Glendon Rusch (3-3)
Atlanta Braves at Florida Marlins, 7:10 pm
(R) Tim Hudson (10-7) vs. (R) Ricky Nolasco (10-5)
Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(R) Brett Myers (3-9) vs. (R) John Maine (8-7)
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:15 pm
(L) CC Sabathia (3-0) vs. (R) Braden Looper (9-7)
Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(L) Ted Lilly (9-6) vs. (L) Doug Davis (3-4)
Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(R) Collin Balester (1-2) vs. (R) Kevin Correia (1-5)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Here’s an ASG leftover, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria was the first rookie to drive in a run in the Mid-Summer Classic since the Yankees’ Tom Tresh in 1962.

Top of the 9th
BASEBALL IS TOO EASY FOR THIS GUY
Brad Ziegler, Oakland’s rookie submarine-style reliever, established an American League record for the longest scoreless streak at the start of a career by throwing two more scoreless innings. Ziegler has now pitched 231/3 scoreless innings to begin his career, passing Boo Ferriss’ 22 innings in 1945 for the Red Sox. Only George McQuillan of the 1907 Phillies had a better start, with 25 scoreless innings. Ziegler is closing in on the A’s longest scoreless streak by a relief pitcher, Rick Honeycutt’s 241/3 innings, June 25-Sept. 14, 1995.

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.