Saturday, July 19, 2003

Two former Yankees have participated in a tight ballgame tonight between the Blue Jays and the Red Sox. Old friend, Gasoline Juan Acevedo, was trying to save the ballgame for the Blue Jays and was doing great until he got two out in the ninth. First, Nomar singled and then stole second. Manny Ramirez then singled to the opposite field to bring in Nomar to tie the game.

Earlier in the evening, Ramiro Mendoza started the game for the Red Sox and had a rough five innings and was cuffed around for four runs. But it could have been worse and Mendoza did what experienced pitchers do; he kept the Red Sox in the game so that the Sox could eventually tie the score and force extra innings. Sometimes a good pitcher will show how good he is when he doesn't have his good stuff. Those pitchers will always give their team a chance to win.

The Red Sox just won in the tenth nearly the same way they tied the game in the ninth. Jeremy Giambi singled. Gabe Kapler pinch ran and stole second. He then ran to third on a bad throw by the Toronto catcher. Trot Nixon then singled. Ballgame.

Garciaparra's steal of second to make the run possible was surpassed in New York by Garciaparra's rival and friend, Derek Jeter. Jeter scored from first on a SINGLE! He was running on a three and two count when he took off for second. At the same time, Giambi singled up the middle. Jeter raced all the way around on the single. There aren't too many times when you'll see a bases clearing, 3 RBI single.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sometimes things in a baseball season sneak up on you. Take the Baltimore Orioles for example. Two of their everyday outfielders are hitting .349 and .346 (Matos and Mora respectively). Their other outfielder has 64 RBI (Gibbons) and they have two infielders with over 60 RBI (Conine and Bautista). Those are some pretty numbers!

And the Orioles have some pretty good pitching talent. Sidney Ponson is 12-5 with a good ERA and four complete games. Jason Johnson is 7-4 (3.82). Rick Helling pitched well tonight and Rodrigo Lopez pitched great his last time out and has regained last year's form. Closer Jorge Julio has twenty saves and has been set up well by Kerry Lightenberg.

The Orioles are now only seven games below .500 and only seem a few players short of being a very good team. And they are fun to watch as Matos and Mora not only hit but take turns showing up on highlight shows for their fielding.

The news for Junior Griffey was terrible. His ankle is shredded and he had season ending surgery today. I hope he doesn't give up because he sure was one of the most talented players ever. On a similar note, Rick Ankiel had Tommy John surgery and will be out eighteen months.

The Yankees have just gone ahead of the Indians 6-4 giving Clemens a passable chance to win number 302 tonight. Giambi and Matsui are again leading the way.

Meanwhile, Toronto defeated the Red Sox again, this time 4-1. The Blue Jays are such a flighty team. You can never tell which Blue Jay team will show up. I think Kielty will help a lot with his enthusiasm.

And one final note: An AP writer reported today that Yankee manager, Joe Torre, spoke to Alfonso Soriano today for spending too much time admiring his homers. This is just one more anecdote that shows how good a manager Joe Torre is. His rule is absolute but he is so respected and has absolutely the right perspective on almost every occasion. Soriano, to his credit, agreed to his manager and apologized for the grandstanding.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

A day after the Blue Jays and Twins traded outfielders (Shannon Stewart to the Twins and Bobby Kielty to the Blue Jays), both teams seem to have benefitted from the deal. Kielty went three for four for the Blue Jays as they beat the Red Sox and the Twins are winning for the first time in quite a while (though Stewart is hitless so far).

Ichiro Suzuki is two for three so far for the Mariners, though they are losing to the amazing Royals. Ichiro is having an amazing run is now up to .355. For the third year in a row he is well on his way to 200 hits and has a chance for 250 hits two years after hitting 240. Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that a foreign player is among the best there is in the game. The NBA is now going through the same quandry as so many of its new stars are from eastern Europe, China and other countries. But it's time for the Fan to give it up and simply say that Ichiro is amazing and one of the most exciting players in MLB.

Ichiro turns a ground ball into an exciting play. He is the best right fielder in baseball and there is nothing he can't do with the bat. I can't remember what expert said that Ichiro and Hideki Matsui (I believe the conversation was about Matsui at the time and was made by Joe Torre) are situational hitters and that is now rare in MLB. The comment was made that most hitters now take the same approach when hitting now matter what the situation. Suzuki and Matsui change their approach each at bat and that's why they succeed. Ichiro is simply terrific.

Ken Griffey Jr. hurt his leg again tonight in a very sad development. Reds fans booed him as he was leaving the field. Talk about a class act that doesn't deserve that kind of treatment. The Fan sincerely hopes that Junior has at least one more great season before the toll of his injuries take him out of the game.

Barry Bonds tried to soften his comments about Babe Ruth today as his mouth has created another controversy. His latest alleged quote is: "Babe Ruth is symbolic of baseball,'' Bonds said. ``If there is a record you want to go after, it's Babe Ruth. Because Babe Ruth is Mr. Baseball, right? ... He's considered the greatest baseball player, and if you want to compare yourself, you want to compare yourself to the greatest player.'' Nice try, Barry. For the full story see:

And finally, the widow of Oriole pitcher, Steve Bechler, is suing the makers of Xenadrine RFA-1 for $600 million dollars. Bechler died of heat exhaustion and an autopsy revealed large amounts of the supplement in his system. The money won't bring the pitcher back but perhaps if this supplement is allegedly unsafe, then a settlement should help to take it off the market. It will be interesting to see where this case goes. I would imagine an out of court settlement is in the future for Ms. Bechler.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

There were two big trades today in the Major Leagues as the contenders try to jockey for position. For once, both trade seemed to benefit all the teams involved.

The Yankees, who never feel they have enough, traded Jason Anderson and two other prospects for Armando Benitez. Benitez will setup for Rivera and gives them their first power setup man since Rivera filled that role for the team.

I saw Jason Anderson pitch twice and was quite impressed with him and his future. But as long as the Yankees are contending, they don't have time or the ability to look at the future and used the future to buy today. The Mets should be able to give Anderson the chance he needs. Watch Anderson in the future as I think he will be a star.

The Toronto Blue Jays needed to get rid of some salary and still attempt to stay in the race. In what I think is a brilliant move for both teams involved, the Blue Jays traded Shannon Stewart to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty. Stewart makes $6.2 million while Kielty costs $325,000. Stewart has a proven track record and a lifetime batting average of .301 and can hopefully pull the Twins out of their coma. Kielty was felt by many to have the potential to be the Twins best hitter but couldn't find a position.

I think all four teams helped themselves and accomplished what they set out to do.

And that's all from the Fan tonight as blogger is acting funky and only showing me one half line of edit space and I can't even see what I'm typing! At least this is the last day of the AllStar Break and we can get some baseball tomorrow.
Okay...The Fan is grudgingly happy. I boycotted most of the AllStar game and didn't watch the first six innings and only sporadically after that. But as I was playing on my computer and passing back and forth by Yahoo, I kept following the score. Then I watched the last three outs.

I am grudgingly happy because Clemens pitched and pitched well. I am grudgingly happy because Giambi hit a homer and then one of my favorite boxscore players, Hank Blalock won the game with a two run homer.

But I am only grudgingly happy because the National League should not lose home field advantage in the World Series because of an exhibition game. And I'm only grudgingly happy because fans didn't get to see Melvin Mora hit (for example) because the emphasis was on winning.

And I'm only grudgingly happy because the American League manager only pitched one pitcher for two innings, a pitcher from his rival Oakland A's. And I'm only grudgingly happy because that same manager played his two Angel players nearly the whole game. Granted, one ended up as the game MVP and had three hits. But if that was the Yankee manager playing his Yankee players the whole game, there would be blood in the columns of baseball writers everywhere.'s over and this post will mark the end of my grumbling about the game. And that grumbling is blunted somewhat by Hank Blalock telling the Fox broadcaster that he's only seen Eric Gagne on ESPN's "Sports Center." Take that you second rate and second class sports outfit!

Monday, July 14, 2003

There was some strange last minute doings at the AllStar game. Roger Clemens was added to the roster in a move that should have happened in the beginning. But to do so, Barry Zito, who had already traveled to Chicago, was pulled supposedly because he pitched Sunday. Zito seemed visibly upset and rightly so. You don't select a guy to the game and then not let him participate if there isn't an injury involved.

The entire selection process has been a mess and is typical of the Bud Selig era of baseball. The big flap over the tie last year (which is one of the few right decisions Selig has ever made) was a flap from the media and not the fans. We didn't care. We got to see our favorite players play an exhibition game. I don't want the outcome of the World Series decided by the AllStar game!

And if they didn't mess things up enough with changing format of who gets home field advantage, the selection process made far too many mistakes that have been reverberating around baseball since the selections were announced. MLB has been doing damage control ever since the selections were made.

Selig spends too much of his time listening to the media which has their own agenda and not enough time listening to the fans. Bret Boone, redeemed himself a bit in my book (which has mostly black marks around his name) by rightly blasting the commissioner ( Oh, by the way, have I already asked you how much Selig and Bill Gates are starting to look alike?

The Home Run Derby was very good this year considering the world's best sluggers weren't there. I still don't like the format where someone like Giambi can hit more total homeruns in the contest and not make the finals. Garrett Anderson hit less homeruns total than Giambi or Pujols and yet wins the final round. There is something screwy there.

Barry Bonds was reported to state that he wanted to wipe out Ruth since he now had the slugging percentage record that Ruth originally had and now he wants to wipe out the Babe's homer total. His quote in the AP story was:

"And if it does happen, the only number I care about is Babe Ruth's. Because as a left-handed hitter, I wiped him out. That's it. And in the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I'll take his home runs and that's it. Don't talk about him no more.'' (

No wonder Bonds has never been a fan favorite. You don't diss one of the biggest legends of history. That would be like Clinton stating that he had wiped out George Washington because he (Clinton) was one of the most popular presidents in history. I'm sure there have been better presidents than Washington, but you don't diss the legend. Bonds didn't play on the same playing field. Bonds didn't rescue baseball from the Black Sox Scandal. Bonds didn't play his first few years as a pitcher. Enjoy the records. Enjoy being one of the best players baseball has ever seen...but it would be better if you just kept your mouth shut.

Is the celebrity softball game that comes after the Home Run Derby the lamest event in sports? It has all the entertainment value of a curling event from the early days of ESPN. This is reality television that is just a step above "Beg, Borrow and Steal."

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Watching the Cubs/Braves game tonight on ESPN really illustrates the difference between a winning pitcher and a losing one. The Cubs pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, had "filthy" stuff and all he had to do is hit spots and blaze the ball as he is capable. Tonight, after his teammate, Tom Goodwin, had brilliantly stolen a run by stretching an error into two bases and then scoring from second on an infield hit, Zambrano walked the very first batter of the very next half inning and of course two runs scored.

Goodwin's heroics would normally spark a team and good pitchers don't let their teams down by letting the other team answer. What surprised me was that the Sunday Night Baseball announcers never mentioned the role the first batter walk had to do with the inning. Two innings later, Zambrano walked two more batters and before you knew what happened, it was 7-1. When you have first class stuff, all you have to do is throw strikes.

On the swing side of that story is pitchers like David Wells who have spectacular winning percentages but don't appear overwhelmingly stunning while doing it. The difference is the ability to stay ahead in the count so that you can keep batters off balance. Shane Reynolds appearance tonight for the Braves showed why he has been a winner. He got behind on some counts and then would throw strikes to allow the Cubs to get hits. But then he would get a ground ball double play or a pop up. Walks kill and they kill regularly.

Pitchers like Wells may give up eleven hits for every nine innings pitched while Zambrano only gives up eight hits per nine innings pitched. But Wells has won 61% of his games in his career while Zambrano has won only 39% of his games. The ability to throw strikes is the difference between winning and losing.