Saturday, April 26, 2003

This is the greatest time in this history of being a fan of MLB. Do you want to follow your team 162 games a season? You can go to and choose the option. For $80 a year, you can watch almost every game every day of the baseball season. I am watching the Yankee/Texas game right now in the background.

Or if you want to relive your childhood when the game filled your imagination on AM Radio, then choose the live radio option. Then during or after the game, you can go to any search engine's sports page and look at the game's box score with up to date statistics. You can click on the player's name in the box score to get that player's stats for this year or his career.

Or if you prefer, you can get a MLB subscription from your cable or satellite provider and watch all of your team's games in crystal clear digital signals. Then watch Baseball Tonight on ESPN for the highlights of every game as they are happening or after the game is over.

Hmm...maybe I shouldn't be watching. I haven't watched a Yankee game all year and as soon as I start, Texas scores four runs to tie the game and then the next half inning, throw out Posada at home to end the Yankee half. Am I a jinx?

Baseball fans, pinch yourselves because there has never been a better time to be a fan...flagrant or otherwise.

Friday, April 25, 2003

The Flagrant Fan is happy and impressed so far with his Yankees. The one fear is that they are peaking early instead of late and that's what happened last year. They started well and then the pitching broke down with drastic results in the Angels series. But this also feels a little like 1998 when they had the dominating year and you kept expecting them to cool off and they never did. Anyway, it's going to be scary at least until Clemens gets his 300th win. Once that happens, I'll settle down and accept whatever happens.

As mentioned before, I've been a MLB fan for 40 years and in 40 years, I've never seen anything like the start by the Detroit Tigers. Can you imagine how depressing it would be if your top hitter was batting .205. Let that sink in: The Detroit Tigers leading hitter after 20+ games is Bobby Higginson with a batting average of .205. The entire team for 2003 is hitting .177. That means that the Tigers get 18 hits for ever 102 at bats. The Tigers on-base percentage is .246. They have more strikeouts as a team than hits. They have hit seven homers in 20 games. And when they finally get on base, they can't stay there as they have tried to steal 11 times and have been caught 8! Their only batter with more than one homerun so far is Eric Munson and he is batting .158.

You have to feel big time for the Detroit Tiger fans. This is the worst nightmare one can imagine. What is especially tough is that the team is being led by a manager and coaching staff that is the cream of the Tigers great years. I have to hope the Tigers turn it around at least to respectability. No one can root for a team to be this bad.

Speaking of bad, why do the Expos have to play in Montreal at all? Hey, if only 5,000 fans are going to show up for a game, why not just bite the bullet and move the team to Puerto Rico. The Expos are a good young team who deserve loyal fans to root for them. The Expos had a hard blow this week though when young pitcher, Tony Armas Jr. went on the disabled list.

I wonder who is going to win the Chuck Finley stakes? Finley had a great second half last season and it's hard to figure out why he is where he is just collecting dust. My guess would be that he will sign with the Cardinals but that he could end up in Boston. He would be a big help to that team.

One thing lost in the Yankee loss last night was the two hit, no run ball pitched by Sterling Hitchcock over the last three innings. Hitchcock could still be a very useful pitcher in the course of the year. The Yankee starters are off to a great start but aren't exactly young. You can never have too many pitching options.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Thursday is the Flagrant Fan's day off. Have a great night and we'll see you tomorrow. Roger Clemens = 297. Go old man!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Adam Eaton outdueled Kerry Wood today to beat a very good Chicago Cubs team 2-0. Wood pitched great too, giving up only two runs in seven innings while striking out eleven. Eaton was just better tonight as he went seven innings also, giving up no runs while striking out twelve.

Adam Eaton broke on the scene for San Diego in the second half of 2000 and went 7-4. He was off to an 8-5 start in 2001 when his elbow gave out and that was it for the next season and a half. Eaton had what is now commonly known as Tommy John surgery.

Tommy John was the first to have Tommy John surgery...obviously. John started his career in 1963 with the Indians and then the Dodgers and had a fairly promising career going when after eleven years, he too felt something pop in his left elbow and had to shut it down. He was offered a radical new surgery by Frank Jobe where a tendon from the forearm is transplanted to the elbow to replace the ligament. John came back to pitch for fourteen more years!! and won 164 of his 288 wins AFTER the surgery. Hey! Why isn't Tommy John with 288 wins in the Hall of Fame?

The Sporting News claims that seventy-five current major leaguers had their careers saved by the procedure including Mariano Rivera, Matt Morris and Billy Koch. Most throw harder after the surgery and the Sporting News claims that Billy Koch could throw 108 MPH after the transplant and rehabilitation ( It really is amazing. Especially when you know people on the other side of the surgery.

Burt Barker was one of the best college pitchers of his time and outgunned many pitchers that went on to play pro ball. An elbow injury ended that dream for him just as WWII schrapnel ended his father's promising career (Yankee Minor Leagues). Burt has gone on to become one of the top Maine high school basketball coaches and is a school principal. Both of those are terrific accomplishments and important in the overall scheme of things. But you still have to wonder what Tommy John surgery could have done for Burt and what he could have done if he was a generation later.

I doubt Adam Eaton is going to give back his good fortune at having his injury in these days and times nor should he. Congratulations, Adam Eaton on your comeback and for being another success story to today's sports medicine.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Twenty-four year old Juan-Carlos Covarrubias-Serrano probably never knew that his few beers at a baseball game were going to forever affect his life. He was probably a regular fan just like you and me who went to the ballpark for the fun and the excitement. He got a little drunk, and in his stupor remembered that Carl Everett was a badass and has gotten away with it all his life. Everett has been a spoiled punk for all of his baseball career. He has disrespected umpires, players on the other team, his own players, his own managers, his team's top leadership and most of all the fans. His act was seen in Boston and it was one of the worst exhibits of player actions ever seen. His actions were shameful to his team, his sport and his family.

Juan-Carlos did a real stupid thing. He took that modern symbol of technology, the cell phone (probably each American's most prized possession), and threw it. What are the odds that a drunk man in the second deck would perfectly hit his target? Juan-Carlos tempted the odds and hit the target...the back of Carl Everett's head. The first irony of this story is that the weapon used, the cell phone, followed a story from a few days before where a fan tackled an umpire guessed it...US Cellular Field in Chicago.

Who knows what happened. Maybe he had a fight with a girl on the phone and threw her and it away. Maybe he got a busy signal on a call and in frustration threw the phone. Hey, I've slammed mine down in anger for that reason before. Or maybe he wanted to plunk Everett. What a fluke that he was successful and finds himself in the position he is now. It was stupid. It was dangerous. But how many of us have this little scary, guilty feeling inside because of the time we drank eleven beers and drove home. Nothing happened. In my case, it was my first date with what would be my wife of 21 years. I was lucky not to hit anything and end up where Juan-Carlos is.

But I'm sure that someone else got caught or went off the road or god-forbid, even hit someone at about the same time that I pulled that stunt somewhere back in 1975. Juan-Carlos defied the incredible odds by finding his target. He also defied the odds of pulling his stupid trick a few days after the Chicago incident when the national eye was already blinking rapidly about the need to punish unruly fans more adequately. Juan-Carlos is one son-of-a-gun in trouble.

The fans in the stands rightly pointed him out. I have no problem with that. Carl Everett, the badass, wants to press charges. I have no problem with that. Sometimes in life, you have to pay for your mistakes whether you are sorry for them or not. That other fan that tried to tackle the umpire in Chicago is sorry too, but that doesn't end the consequences. It's too bad that these two young men have performed a tarnishing act in their lives.

What is the second irony of this whole story? And what perfectly tells us what is wrong with the elitism of successful athletes? The same man who said he would press charges was upset when he was hit by the phone. Carl Everett threw the phone back over the fence. The phone hit Daniel Sugayan, an Oakland Athletic staffer. Sugayan declined to press charges.

Monday, April 21, 2003

The Red Sox should do away with the Patriot's Day game. What is Patriot's day? It isn't about New England's football team. The holiday celebrates the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the rides of Paul Revere and Henry Dawes on April 19, 1775. Hey, what other baseball site will give you real history?

Anyway, Massachusetts and Maine are the only two states that celebrate this particular holiday. Why you ask? Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820 when it entered the union as its own state. Now you have history AND geography. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriot's Day and for many years, the Red Sox have played a game at some rediculous time like 10a.m.

In some ways, it's charming because the kids are off from school and can go see a game (at $45 a pop) and then have the rest of the day with the family. But the early time always means that the Red Sox will rest at least one of their stars. Garciaparra was that start today and the Red Sox got whacked by the Blue Jays. In a scene right out of The Natural, Toronto's Chris Woodward homered just as an F-15 fighter jet was flying over to start the marathon down the street.

Okay. the game and its start time are quaint, but if the Sox lose the wildcard by one game, blame it on Patriot's Day.

The Yankees, Royals and Giants have all started really strong, but one of the most surprising teams is the Colorado Rockies. At 12-7, they are still in waving distance of the Giants and are right in the hunt for the wildcard. It has become hip to believe that the Rockies will never be able to contend because of their ballpark and the atmosphere. But they have learned that power pitching and speed in the outfield helps enormously and they are playing well. They need to play better on the road and that is the other criticism of the team and where it plays. Statistics seem to bear it out too.

Larry Walker is amazing. Helton is great but Walker has been doing it a long time. If he could have stayed healthy in his career, there is no telling what he could have done. Even so he has 337 lifetime homers and 806 extra base hits in his career. His career average is .317, his career on-base average is close to .400 and he is a career slugger of .575. Listen to this streak of years he's put together from 1997 to 2002: .366, .363, .379 (he flirted with .400 all year along with Gwynn), .309 (an off year with terrible injuries), .350 and .338.

Walker has only played one year without extended time in recovery. In that remarkable year, it shows what he could have done if healthy his whole career. In that year, he .366 in 153 games with 208 hits with 99 of them of the extra base variety (46 doubles, 4 triples and 49 homeruns!). He scored 143 runs while driving in 130! Remarkable.

It will be interesting to see how he is ranked once he is finished. He is 37 so his time is running out. He has been a truly special player who probably won't have enough stats to make the Hall of Fame. And the best thing about him? He seems like one of those guys that it would be fun to go to a bar with.

The Fan will watch and see how long the Rockies stay in contention.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

The suddenly pitching poor Atlanta Braves did what good teams (and lucky teams) always seem to do--They came up with a miracle in Shane Reynolds. It is easy to wonder what the Astros were thinking when they let him go, but I don't believe they were wrong. Reynolds was coming off an injury, his fastball was down in the low 80's and he was a fly ball pitcher for a team who plays home games in a field where fly balls are homeruns. No, the Astros did what was best for them although two straight losses to the Brewers would tend to make you wonder.

The miracle is that nobody else signed him. The Mets had a chance as Art Howe and Reynolds go back a long way. But it didn't happen. But where were the other teams? A guy who knows how to pitch (no matter what his velocity) would have worked for the Tigers, the Royals, the Giants and any other team that plays in pitchers parks. The Braves got him. And just when you would think they were down for the count and that this would be the year they would fade into the back regions of their division, he pitches two straight games without giving up an earned run and the Braves are on a roll. A funny game, this Major League Baseball.

Sammy Sosa was fortunate and it was good to see him glare at the pitcher after getting beaned in the ear by a pitch. Anyone who lived through the Tony Conigliaro days cringes whenever someone gets beaned. Speaking of such things, I wonder where the former Red Sox pitcher is that got nailed by that line drive a few years ago. I was watching that game too and that was one of the most sickening things I've ever seen. I don't have a strong stomach and tend to get worked up on such things. I'm glad I missed the Jason Kendell broken leg of a few years ago. Yuck.

Baseball Tonight was totally messed up by yet another Stanley Cup overtime game. I hate this time of year and can't wait until hockey is over. But there are so many teams playing in the Stanley Cup that the playoffs go forever. There is no doubt in my mind that 70% of Baseball Tonight telecasts will be delayed or lost altogether by the overtime hockey games. What a waste. Why do these hockey teams have to work so stinking hard to play their whole regulation game and maybe score a goal or two. What an exercise in futility. I think all hockey games should start out sudden death. That way, the first team that scores...wins. Then Baseball Tonight would never be lost again. At least the NBA is smart enough to have three point scoring events: the free throw, the two point shot and the three point shot. It sure prevents the overtime games.

What little the show was on was stunning from Bobby Valentine's extraordinarily sharp criticisms of umpire Joe Brinkman. That kind of REAL insider information has always seemed to be taboo. It gives Baseball Tonight even more credibility and raises its stature. It will be interesting to see how Valentine's comments play out with the league. If his comments concerning Brinkman are true, then baseball should take notices. There is a fine line where umpires have to run the game but remember that they are NOT the game. Some umpires provoke the players and that should never EVER happen.