On the subject of…Rhymes, Beachy, Schilling, Damon, Dunn, McDonald, Sir Bam-Bam, and more

Will Rhymes thinking of one-liners?

  • Will Rhymes was not in the Rays lineup last night in their 5-3 loss to the Red (Hot) Sox last night after passing out Wednesday night after getting hit by a pitch.  Rhymes fortunately is okay and even retained his sense of humor when the paramedics checked on him on the field and following their routine and asked him his name, “I told them I was Batman just to mess with them,” said Rhymes.
  • On the subject of the Red Sox (18-20), they are the only team in either the AL East or the NL East below the .500 mark.
  • Things are just Beachy for the first-place Atlanta Braves as Brandon Beachy tossed a five-hit shutout in the 7-0 win over the Marlins. Beachy lowered his league leading ERA from 1.60 to 1.33. The last Brave to win the ERA crown was Greg Maddux who led the NL with a 2.22 ERA in 1998. Maddux also won 1993-95. Tip of the hat to those you who can remember that the last Brave pitcher not named Greg Maddux to win the ERA crown was the not as memorable Buzz Capra who had a 2.28 in 1974.
  • Since Billy-Ball.com ripped into the batting ineptitude of the  Mariners, Seattle has had to find a new way to lose. They did. Yesterday they led the Indians 4-0 heading to the bottom of the 7th and 5-4 heading to the bottom of the 11th. They lost 6-5 on Carlos Santana‘s walkoff single. The Mariners have now lost four straight (BTW: the Tribe has won four straight), are 1-6 on their current 10-game road trip, have won one out of their last 13 road games, three of their last 10 games and six of their last 20 overall.
  • Travis Hafner took a pitch off his hand, the 80th time he’s been hit by a pitch, a Cleveland record. The Billy-Ball.com newsroom checked it out and found that other active players with 80 HBP are Prince Fielder (big target) and Josh Willingham (big surprise). Two of the retired players with 80 HBP are Shawn Green and Aaron Boone.
  • And speaking of hits, Indians left fielder Johnny Damon picked up his 2732 career hit to tie Tony Perez for 55th place on the all-time career hits list. Damon is a fun stats guy dream (I consider myself a “fun stats guy” as opposed to a “nerdy stats guy”), Damon and Omar Vizquel are the only active players with 2700+ hits, 400+ doubles and 400+ steals. There are only 13 players all-time who have those numbers and nine are Hall-of-Famers (Craig Biggio and Barry B*nds are not in Cooperstown).
  • Have you noticed how the Giants have been hitting better lately? They are still averaging just 3.71 runs a game even after beating the Cardinals last night, 7-5. I think it’s because Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens (born in Curacao) has been conferred the status of Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (knighthood) from Beatrix, queen of the Netherlands. So he is either Sir Meulens, Sir Hensley, or Sir Bam Bam if you want to call him by his nickname.
  • On the subject of Meulens old teams, the Yankees have lost four of five after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Jays last night. Like nine of the 14 American League clubs, the Yankees are 5-5 in their last 10 games. You can blame a Yankee hitting slump, poor pitching, or too many injuries, but don’t discount their fielding woes. Fielding you ask? Aren’t the Yankees tied with the Red Sox and Mariners for the fewest errors in the AL with 16? Yes, they are. However, errors only reflect that the Yankees are cleanly fielding the balls that they get to. If you look at Rtot, which is the total number of runs above or below average players are worth based on the plays made, you can see that the Mariners are +2, the Red Sox are +15, and the Yankees are -18. That’s a 33 run differential between the Yankees and the Red Sox and worth paying attention to.
  • Speaking about the Blue Jays, they sent Adam Lind to the minors and called up utilityman Yan Gomes. Born in Sao Paolo, Gomes is the first Brazilian in the majors.
  • Which one of these is Curt Schilling?

    Talking about things worth paying attention to, Boston newspapers are filled with articles about the Curt Schilling hypocrisy with his video game company, 38 Studios. As the Boston Herald wrote this morning, 38 Studios stopped paying its workers this week as they wrote an overdue $1.1 million loan payment check to Rhode Island that would’ve bounced if the state hadn’t handed it back. Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory pointed out, “Schilling spent no small amount of time in his career preaching the Republican mantra of smaller government and personal responsibility…. Smaller government? Call me crazy, but I’m betting that wasn’t exactly what Schilling was extolling when he sat behind closed doors on Wednesday pleading with the members of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. to put more public money behind his fantasy video game venture.” Globe business columnist Steven Syre added in his column, “Schilling is a self-described conservative with a disdain for big government, which he considers intrusive and overbearing. He is a big believer in people helping themselves and solving their own problems….Now Schilling is back with his hand out at a time when Rhode Island is dealing with double-digit unemployment and an economy so bad that many of its communities are in grave financial trouble. State officials are facing bigger problems than Schilling’s 38 Studios.”

  • Politics and baseball are also clashing in Chicago where the Chicago Tribune reports that the Ricketts family who own the Chicago Cubs are moving away from the fallout from the proposed incendiary plan to the Ricketts Super Pac to attack President Barack Obama. As the family is seeking Chicago funding to refurbish Wrigley Field Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said, “As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year’s presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has,” Tom Ricketts said in the statement. “I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, blasted the proposed political attack . The Cubs lost 8-7 to the Phils yesterday as Philadelphia won its fifth straight and have taken six of seven to move over .500 for the first time since April 5th when they were 1-0. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th straight save and Roy Halladay won for the first time since April 16.
  • Speaking about things that haven’t occurred in a long time, the Twins beat the Tigers yesterday, 4-3, and now have their first two-game winning streak since April 11-12. We’re not talking 10 games here folks, but the Twins nonetheless are streaking. The Twins have only won 12 games all season but are 5-6 since Brian Dozier was promoted from Class AAA Rochester on May 7. Dozier is hitting .298 and has had five multi-hit games in the 11 games.
  • The Angels are now 2-1 in games that Albert Pujols has homered after losing to the White Sox yesterday, 6-1. Folks seem to be paying attention to the fact that Adam Dunn struck out two more times, increasing his major league-worst total to 59, and that his May 11 game was the only one out of his 39 games that he did not whiff. While I’m sure the White Sox would prefer fewer strikeouts from Dunn, they are certainly not complaining about the fact that Dunn has 12 homers already, one more than last season. Granted, Dunn has the smallest strikeout to At Bat ratio in the majors at 2.339 but his .246

    The unhappy Brett Lawrie

    average is a vast improvement over his .159 last season and better than his career .243 average.

  • Brett Lawrie is accepting his four-game suspension for bouncing his helmet in anger off an umpire. It’s a good thing that Jose Bautista is hitting again. In his last seven games, Bautista is hitting .333 and has hit five of his 10 homers and is off the interstate hitting .207.
  • Let’s give a little love to David Wright who, in yesterday’s Mets 9-4 win over the Reds, went 2-2 with two doubles, had three walks, three runs socred, one stolen base and raised his major league-leading average to .411. He also leads the majors with a .513 OBP and has a 1.134 OPS. Each of the last three seasons Wright has struck out in over 20% of his plate appearance, this season he’s down to 13.8%. BTW: the Reds love New York so much they are playing there twice. as tonight they start three game set with the Yankees.  It’s the first time a team has played both New York clubs on the same road trip since the hideous interleague play began in 1997.
  • Two of the greatest of the greats enshrined in Cooperstown have birthdays today: Brooks Robinson turns 75 today and Reggie Jackson celebrates his 66th birthday today. And yes, for one season they were teammates. In 1976, they both played for the Orioles along with a third Hall-of-Famer, Jim Palmer. The team finished 88-74, good for second place in the AL East, 10.5 games behind the Yankees. The Big Red Machine won it all that year with their three Famers:  Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Joe Morgan, They also had Pete Rose, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Dave Concepcion and seven pitchers who won at least 11 games. No team has ever had as many pitchers who won 11+ games.
  • Speaking about guys who deserve some love, let’s give it up for James McDonald of the Pirates. While Buc fans may be talking about the two homers hit by Andrew McCutchen, everybody should be talking about McDonald’s growth on the mound. He took a no-hitter into the 6th in the Pirates 5-3 win last night and struck out a career-high 11 Nationals in 5.2 innings. McDonald is now 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA, a 1.013 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. He has struck out 25.9% of all the batters he’s faced.
  • In case you are curious, Stephen Strasburg is striking out 29.3% of the batters he’s facing this season. You know, Strasburg lost his first game this week after it was found that he had gotten some Icy Hot in a spot that he wished he hadn’t. Which brings me to a story from Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo‘s new book, The Baseball Hall of Shame – The Best of Blooperstown. The book is what I call a “waiting room book” which is a nicer way than when I described my book, Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs, as a “bathroom book.” The point is both books are great when you have a few minutes to kill. Baseball Hall of Shame is filled with great anecdotes including the one about how David Ortiz when he was the Twins DH would ravage teammates Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie‘s clothes when they were in the field. Big Papi used to like to cut the toes off their socks in their lockers so when they put them on after the game their feet would go right through them. Koskie retaliated by smearing peanut butter in Ortiz’s underwear when the big guy was in the shower. Ortiz got even by lubricating Koskie’s underwear with Icy Hot before a road trip. They continued their hijinks even after Ortiz joined the Red Sox. One time in the Metrodome, Ortiz went from the visitor’s clubhouse into the Twins locker room and filled the only street shoes that Koskie had brought to the ballpark with juice and peanut butter. Get the book, it’s fun and I heartily recommend it.