Thursday, June 30, 2005

Biggio Sets Hits Record

Craig Biggio has passed Don Baylor to set a new record for being hit by a pitch with number 268 coming from BK Kim, although I doubt Baylor had the same protection Biggio has on his arm. You could probably fire a cannonball at Biggio and he would have no problems putting that heavily armoured appendage in front of it.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for guys like Biggio who get the job done any way they can, especially at the top of the order, but some of the armour these guys wear is a tad excessive. How long will it be till someone comes to the plate wearing hockey goalie pads?

Monday, June 27, 2005

27th June Round Up

MLB - Well Interleague play is back again and hooray for Colorado who swept the mighty Royals in a game that wouldn't be possible if not for this 'innovation'....It must be a bad time to be a Giants fan, not only being swept by your bay area rivals but seriously, how can anyone give up 16 runs to Oakland?....whats up with Andruw Jones? Looks like he's stopped wondering why his parents don't like the letter 'e' and is absolutely raking it right now and boy do The Braves need it with their injuries....It must be tough when you can only hit .275 with 19 HR and 66 RBI but somehow Manny has managed to keep his spot in the Boston lineup when most teams would be sending him down to AAA. Honestly, who was it who started the whole Manny is struggling thing anyway? One things for sure, those people who doubted him are quiet now....Yankees avoid being swept by The Mets thanks to Braden Looper once again showing he is not a closer. Allows to many hits (especially to lefties), doesn't strike out enough guys despite having some serious gas and lefties are hitting .322 against him. It was also nice to see A-Rod score a clutch run so I guess thats him done for the year....Great to see Prior pitch 6 strong innings. You have to wonder if we'll get to see what he truly is capable of considering all the injuries he's had so far in his career....I don't care how many fans are going to these games, I still hate Interleague play and want it to suffer the same fate as Bambi's mum.....

Minor League Baseball - What happened to Kevin Barker? He used to be a top prospect but he's now 29 and on a tare down in Syracuse.....In Birmingham, Chris Young continues to spank it for The Barons with two home runs against Carolina and with Bobby Jenks earning his 17th save (why on Earth did Anaheim let him go?) you have to like the direction The White Sox organisation is going....Ryan Zimmerman is doing alright, with a streak of 8-13 with 2 HR and 6 RBI he has quickly been moved up to AA after just a month in The Nationals organisation....How's Delmon doing? Only leading the Southern League in most offensive catergories....

Japanese Baseball - Always nice to see a rookie do well, no matter what league and with the help of Tomoya Satozaki and Benny Agbayani (yes he is still alive), Yasutomo Kubo got a shut out win against The Orix Buffaloes as Chiba Lotte Marines continue to set the pace atop the Pacific Division....It must be great to play at the Yahoo Dome, at least it was for Keizaburo Tanoue who held The Nippon Ham Fighters to one run in a 5-1 Hawk win....Eagles 16 Lions 9 in 10 innings with a combined 33 hits over 5 hours 29 minutes. I hope the Japanese have comfy chairs.....

Friday, June 24, 2005

10 Reasons The Yankees Won't Make the Playoffs

10. Defence up the middle or lack thereof - I won't start the whole 'is Jeter really a Gold Glove calibre shortstop' argument but I will ask what they expect from Cano, Posada and Bernie 'I remember when this were nowt but fields' Williams?

9. Tony Womack - They had a servicable platoon at second last year but decided to splash the cash on the Moth Man. Womack has been consistently useless at a number of defensive positions in his career so you'd think he was brought in to be the sparkplug at the top of the order. In a nutshell, what does he do?

8. The payroll - Even if you believe the Yankees have bottomless pockets they have too much dead wood with high price tags that will be extremely difficult to move so you wonder how much flexibility they have to make moves at the deadline?

7. A-Rod - He's a feckin' jinx who lacks the cajones to deliver in the clutch.

6. The bullpen - Its like like that first car you ever bought, its only a matter of time till the wheels fall off and you have to take it to the scrap yard. If not for River, Mets fans would be laughing at you.

5. Yankees suck - Sorry, couldn't help myself.

4. They've given too many good teams a generous head start - New York will catch Baltimore (sorry Orioles fans but its true) but the Red Sox are starting to get into gear and have that 4.5 game lead already. Face it Yankee fans, the division is gone. As for the Wildcard, The Twins are a better team and play in a weaker division.

3. The Yankees live on the long ball and homeruns have never been a reliable source of wins. Expect your boys to keep being streaky unless they get some speed at the top of the order or, to put it another way, remember how they managed to be so unstoppable in the late 90's.

2. Brian Cashman - Yankee Stadium is built for lefty sluggers but The Yankees are structured around righty sluggers. You need lefty pitching to counter this threat and the pen has only one lefty and he's almost old enough to be a ballboy in San Francisco. What is Cashman's plan other than to spend a lot of money?

1. Aura and Mystique are on holiday - They hang out with Roger Clemens on those days he can't be bothered to turn up for games and cheer on his team mates.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What Do We Tell Our Kids?

I love baseball.
I love everything about it.
I love holding the ball and feeling the stitches beneath my fingertips. Throwing it and feeling it return to nestle in my glove to be thrown again.
Baseball is like a living religion whose lore and legend is unveiling before us as we remember the lows of 1919 and the Black Sox scandal and the way a gargoyle faced mountain of a man rose out of that turmoil to make it stronger than ever before.
We remember how The Travelling Man carved his legend in anonymity and under the veil of persecution and how a fiercely competitive former army man broke through those chains to clear the way for anyone who can carry a glove to be able to play on the same field no matter what their background was.
More recently we remember a time when baseball wasn’t played and while the guardians of baseball squabbled, the followers started to doubt it until 1998 when two giants put on a powerful display that had never been seen before, once again bringing baseball back to the hearts of the masses but now more doubt has been placed upon those two apparent saviours.
Ballplayers are bigger and faster than ever before but now we find our innocence has been almost completely washed away and we are left to ask if the gods of this religion of baseball have been cast out of heaven and crashed down to Earth naked, vulnerable and fallible like a mere mortal?
Right now we are living in the era of Barry Bonds, a man who is dominating the game like no one has since The Sultan of Swat tiptoed around the bases in New York but on the horizon looms the dark cloud of BALCO which is threatening to rain heavily upon The Garden of Eden amid fears that some have eaten the forbidden fruit.
No one can defend the use of steroids but it seems almost assumed that whenever someone jacks it to the upper deck that they must be on steroids. Flax seed oil is getting more credit than a genuine legend on his path to immortality based on an assumption or a leaked document that has no chance of ever being verified in terms of credibility. I’ve even heard that Barry Bonds’ all time walk record is down to ‘roids even though he has never failed to gain 100 walks in a season in which he has played at least 109 games. Granted his status at the top of that category is more down to Rickey’s (Henderson) hiatus from The Bigs (he still looms large somewhere out there) but can’t we give Bonds some credit?
Major League Baseball has been decidedly backwards in terms of coming to grips with the drug issue and even now the rules are exceedingly limp when compared to any other sport but what rules there are have not been proven to have been broken by Bonds, Sheffield or any other name people feel needs to be dragged through the mud so how can we pile all this hyperbole on these guys? Can’t we just accept that some players truly are great? Don’t we want to worship these people the way we worshipped their forebears? Have we become so cynical?
Some people will think that I’m na├»ve (in fact I know of a few people who do) in my views on this issue but I’m not totally oblivious to the fact that Bonds has exploded into a place that no one else has ever gone to in the last few years after looking like he was starting to count down the years at the end of his career. I have noticed that a guy like Jason Giambi, who actually has admitted to prior transgressions, has gone from being a muscle bound slugger to a slightly large strikeout accumulator and that his physique and the actual change of that physique bares a striking resemblance to that of a few other sluggers who aren’t slugging so much these days. I do know that when Mark McGwire admitted to taking ‘supplements’ what he meant was he was taking things that weren’t classified as steroids at the time. There is plenty of fuel to light the fire of suspicion and I guess some are more willing to strike the match and watch it burn than I but I’d much rather curse MLB for not having a drugs testing policy until now and lament the loss of Ken Caminiti who might have been able to get the help he obviously needed when he was playing. I curse the fact that we are questioning the achievements of a whole generation of great ballplayers because the commissioners office was so short sighted and has left us under a huge cloud of doubt.
So what do we do? Do we believe Jose Canseco and dismiss a whole bunch of players including one who started to fill ballparks all over America for the first time since the debacle of ‘94? Do we assume that when Dave Roberts hits his career high 5th homer of the year that he must be on the juice? Or can we allow ourselves to just go to the ball park and sit in the bleachers with our dog and our beer and just cheer these guys on and marvel at what they are able to achieve when they put a piece of rounded timber in their hand whilst someone shoots a 100mph projectile at them? Can we allow ourselves to deify these guys until they have actually been proven to be little more than the man behind the curtain trying to be something that they’re not?
Baseball has so many great stories in its history that get told from one generation to the next so what will our generation tell the next? Will you tell your children, “Oh you shoulda seen him” or will you say, “He was great but never caught?” Can’t we at least try to see a half full glass?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Slow News Day

Not a whole lot seems to be going on these days in terms of big news (why can't an aeroplane land on Roger Clemens?) so I'll start this all off with some quickies.

Around MLB : Yes, yes Derek Lee is up there in all the triple crown catergories but all those people who are wondering why he's not leading the All Star voting seem to be oblivious to the fact that Pujols is right up his proverbial ass in all those catergories and would you trade Pujols for Lee?......That Jake Peavy is a bit good. I hate to be smug (well not really but anyway) but I did mention him as a Cy winner back in March....Oakland scored 6 runs today!! That Bobby Kielty has hit out in the name of gingers everywhere.....Well done Aaron Hill. First long ball of a promising career.

In the Minors : Austin Kearns is waiting in Louisville for Junior Griffey to tweak another hamstring. He hit a game winning single to lift The Bats over the Carolina Knights 3-2.....We like J.J. Davis. He hit a game winning 2 run dinger off R. A. Dickey (yes he with no cartilage in his elbow and that 'thang' pitch) to cap a 3-4 game for New Orleans. He must be scratching his head as to how the Nat's have managed to stay atop the NL East because he should be in the bigs.....Halo's top draft pick Jered Weaver made his debut Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (is that the greatest name for a team you've ever heard?) and went three innings allowing one run on three singles, two walks whilst striking out four....How's Delmon doing? Well Mr Young hit two dingers including a grand slam to take his Southern League leading totals to 16 HR and 59 RBI.

Made in Japan (I couldn't resist a cheesy link like that) : The newly introduced interleague play has proven to be a hit with the fans but The Swallows probably didn't like it on the 18th after The Lions took the boots to them, belting 5 long balls in an 11-1 win. Elsewhere The Baystars shook off a 4-0 first inning defecit to earn a 6-4 victory for Kato.....I might need to find myself a more up to date source for my info here....It seems that the labour dispute is still making life difficult for Japans baseball authorities with MLB and MLBPA giving them until June 30th to decide if they want to participate. Apparently the Nippon Players Association wants a November tournament instead of the proposed March as they don't want their Spring training disrupted. Just goes to show that no matter where you go baseball is always baseball.

Beisbol Cubano : It would appear that the Cuban Olympic Committee is none to happy with the suggestion that baseball be dropped from the Olympic program. Apparently it would be "For us and for millions of fans in our country, removing baseball from the Olympic Games is a very serious and significant issue, it would be an attack on the sporting movement." It would appear the only team in the world who play slower than The Yankees want to defend their title.