Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Detroit Tigers finally scored six runs today. Unfortunately, they blew the game anyway and lost to Tampa Bay. Not only did the loss bring their record to 3-25, but they lost on a base hit by Damon Easley, the player they cut even though they are still paying him $14 million this year. So...let's run through that one more time in case you missed it. The Tigers lost to have their record sink to 3 wins to 25 losses even though they scored six runs and to add insult, a player they are still paying $14 million beat them with a single. That's a tough day.

Oh...and the Tigers run explosion lifted their team batting average to .189.

I saw an article on in which the writer cast some doubt on whether or not Rafael Palmeiro would make it to the Hall of Fame. Geez! What is the writer nuts? Okay, Palmeiro has never excited anyone. There have been whispers that he was a mercenary type player who only cared about his stats. The argument is that he's never been the best first baseman in his league. Another argument is that he's only led the league in any category three times. But the arguments all fall flat. Just LOOK at the man's statistics:

- 1593 RBI - 27th All Time! That's more than Mickey Mantle, Harmen Killebrew, Rogers Hornsby, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams and many others...
- 498 Homers - That number will be pushed well over 500 before he is done.
- 1000+ extra base hits - That's more than Mark McGwire, Mickey Mantle and many others
- 2660 hits - If he plays two more seasons, he'll hit 3000.
- 140+ RBI in a season...TWICE! - Not many people have done that.
- 24th All Time in Total Bases - More than Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, Harold Baines, Roberto Clemente, etc.

Enough said. The man is a Hall of Famer.

I'm really tired of this argument that since this is an offensive era, then the standards for making the Hall of Fame should change. Baloney! You still have to hit the ball. There are still only a few players that are going to make these magic numbers. We just happen to have quite a few happening right now.

Roger Clemens tries again tomorrow for number 298. I'm going to be on Maalox until it's over. Mariano Rivera sure makes a difference in the Yankee bullpen, but this Acevedo is starting to fall apart. He's looked VERY hittable lately and blew another game for the Yanks today.

We have heard a lot about Derek Jeter's progress but nothing at all about Ken Griffey. Why is there no news of him? I sure hope he can come back and play well.

Pedro Martinez is still the best pitcher in baseball. The man is amazing.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Rocco Baldelli and Hank Blalock have had amazing Aprils in their first full years in the majors. Baldelli hit is first homerun yesterday and hit a triple today and is hitting around .360. He broke the record for rookie hits in April with 40. He never walks but he doesn't strike out that often either. And unlike Blalock, does not benefit from having great hitters around him. I have been following him and he is a tremendously exciting player.

Blalock, unlike Baldelli, has dealt with high expectations since he was the number one draft choice. He has settled down within that Texas lineup and is also hitting in the .360 range. When teams like Texas and Tampa struggle, it has to be exciting to follow new players. In Texas, they can also follow Mark Teixeira who is starting to hit now.

I have been thrilled so far with how many of my predictions are coming true. But I can't get too cocky about it since the season is a long one. The team that I believed in the most, the Chicago Cubs, look great and I don't see any reason why they shouldn't win that division.

The Red Sox must be thinking now that whenever they are behind, they are right where they want to be. Three come from behind wins against the Royals and tonight they came back from six runs down to tie the Twins before the Twins then erupted again and won the game. Even so, the Sox must never think they are out of any game.

It has not been a good season for former Oakland Athletic players. Jason Giambi is the only Yankee not hitting and is below the Mendoza Line. His brother is currently batting .134 for the Red Sox. And Jermaine Dye hurt his leg again and is on the disabled list. Weird. To complete the picture, Miguel Tejada is doing just as poorly and seems to be in a huge funk since the A's said they wouldn't try to sign him after the season.

Mendoza Line? You might not know what the Mendoza Line is about. Mario Mendoza played for parts of nine seasons in the major leagues from 1974 to 1982. He was a pretty slick fielding shortstop but it's hard to figure out how a player could play five of his nine years with a batting average below .200 and continue in the majors for that long?

Although Mario Mendoza batted .180 in 1975 and .185 in 1976, his two years of batting .198 established forever the now famous Mendoza Line. George Brett and/or Tom Paciorek are usually given credit for creating the line. It is said that every Sunday, Brett would search the stats in the paper to see who was hitting "below the Mendoza Line."

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I don't think I could be a major league manager. I was watching the Yankee/Seattle game and the Yankees are comfortably ahead 5-1 in the eigth inning. The Yankees bring in Jose Acevedo who I know they hope will fill the eigth inning role to lead into Rivera (who looked great tonight). The first batter, Brett Boone gets a meatball and hits it out. Of course the little prig flipped his bat. Okay. You threw a strike and he hit it. Acevedo then walks the next two batters. If I had a gun and was Joe Torre, I would have shot him. You know those two walks would score and they did.

I remember hearing some obscene statistic that over 50% of leadoff walks end up scoring. Right from our early days of little league, the coach is yelling, "Just let them hit the ball and let your fielders do the rest." Well, the guys I'm watching are making over a $1 million a year and can't "just let them hit the ball"?

The Red Sox and Royals played tonight and it was a great game for 8.5 innings. The high-flying Royals had their closer in the game and guess what? No, he didn't walk anyone but Royals closer (MacDougal) hit two batters and had a wild pitch. The pitcher that took MacDougal's place after all that hit another batter! When is the last time you saw three HBP in the same inning!? "Just let them hit the ball!"

Why does David Wells win every year and have one of the best winning percentages in the history of MLB and yet have a fairly high career ERA? You could make an argument that he has always played for good teams. But I counter that he keeps himself in the game and keeps his team in the game by throwing strikes. Wells has pitched five games so far this year and has given up ONE walk. One!! Oh, and he's 3-0.

Wells has averaged more than nine hits per nine innings in his career and yet he wins. The reason he wins is that he throws strikes. Tommy John was the same way. He didn't "THROW" a lot of strikes, but he sure never gave up many walks.

Let's take it one step further and compare the careers of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Here are two remarkably successful pitchers. But Maddux has won far more Cy Young awards and has a career ERA that is a half a run better than Glavine's. To me, the stuff is about even and the only difference is the amount of walks given up by Glavine. Maddux has averaged 1.92 walks per nine innings in his career. Glavine has averaged 3.01 walks per nine innings. That is one more walk a game. And the one walk scored fifty percent of the time!

The most amazing game ever pitched was Roger Clemen's first 20 strikeout game against the Mariners. Roger not only hit the catcher's target nearly every pitch, but he didn't walk a batter. That's remarkable.

I'll make one more argument for pitchers who throw strikes: Pretty much everyone in baseball agrees that Mariano Rivera is one of the best closers in the history of the game. Rivera's first full year was backing up then closer John Wettland. That was the year that Rivera recorded his best strikeout per nine inning ratio. Since he's been a closer, his strikeouts are down per nine innings but so are his walks. "Just let them hit the ball."

I lied because I'll make one more argument: Not only is it important to throw strikes, it's important to throw them early in the count. I watched with interest (and some concern) the inning that Chris Hammond pitched for the Yankees. The batters that he got out all started with strikes and pitcher's counts. The walks and the hits came because he could not get the first three pitches over for strikes.

Walks are a killer and I think all pitcher contracts should have a walk clause stating that every walk was going to cost the pitcher $100.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Oh man! Clemens lost his bid for win # 298. He gave up four runs in six innings and gave up three gopher balls. Brett Boone should get plunked the next time he faces Clemens and swinging from his ass while hitting his homer in the first. His bat flip and other actions, for a guy who only has one great year in MLB, are arrogant and he needs some humble pie. Contrast that with the Yankee players who get their cue from Joe Torre and NEVER dig it into their opponent's back. reports that Derek Jeter will be back May 13th and Mariano Rivera was activated tonight. Good news on both counts.

The Red Sox beat the Royals as Wakefield (the most valuable pitcher in baseball) won again. The Red Sox are a very good team and will be in the race all the way until the end. Their relief pitching is coming around too.

The Cincinnati Reds are a mess. There is no doubt in my mind that Manager Bob Boone needs to go. They have way too much talent to be playing as bad as they are. With players like Dunn and Kearns and Boone (the non-arrogant one). Sean Casey is healthy again and mashing the ball. Felipe Lopez is the next great shortstop. They should playing with zest and winning their share of games. They look like at least a .500 team to me. Axe the manager! The team is painting by numbers right now.

Interesting matchup as Dusty Baker faces his former charges. The Giants have lost a little steam and I still think their offense will be a problem over the long run. The Cubs look good on both sides of the ball and should be solid all year. They're in the midst of a good pitching duel as Kerry Wood is dueling Kurt Reuter.

The death watch continues in Detroit as the Tigers lost again. Their team batting average is "up" to .182. Yeesh...

Monday, April 28, 2003

Since the games are really light tonight, I want to talk about something that is inside me and that I want you to think about. I want you to think about it because it's a problem that has brought MLB players down and could put you down if you let it. I want to talk about alcohol abuse.

This subject is important to me because I have faced the problems caused by alchohol and substance abuse all my life. My father hit a tree one night after being with a gal he should have been with and probably drinking what he shouldn't have been drinking. My mom remarried and stayed married for 29 years to a man who never knew when to stop. The drinking finally led to meanness and incoherence and my mom suffered a great deal before, in her mid-seventies, she had the courage to divorce him.

My former mother in law was a great woman with a big heart that I could tell my soul to and knew she would protect that exposed soul. She battled drinking and went to rehab three times and failed. It wasn't until her liver shut down on her and she miraculously recovered, that she decided she better kick the thing once and for all.

I have seen friends and coworker's lives slide down to oblivion because of drinking. These were good people who had good jobs and families and it cost them everything. Some are still out there battling it.

Baseball isn't immune. In recent months former players, Doc Gooden and Darren Daulton, were arrested for drinking and driving. Both arrests weren't the first time for these men who had too much to drink. Baseball has several traveling programs that were started by ex-players who were alcoholics and wanted to save today's players. One such player was Darrell Porter, whose excellent book, "Snap Me Perfect," went to the heart of his problem. Porter ended up dying at 50 and it was suspected at the time that his drinking had something to do with it.

Bad things happen to good people and sometimes you end up trapped in an addiction before you know it. If, in a lucid moment, you took a hard look, you would know whether you were an alcoholic or not. And if you aren't sure, there are plenty of places on-line that will tell you if you want to know. But don't even take their word for it. Ask your doctor and if your doctor thinks you have a problem, then let him help you seek help. Most employers want to see you get well and will stand by you if you want to get help. I know I would if I was your friend, family member or employer.

There is so much to celebrate in life. There are sunrises and sandy beaches and mountains in the distance. There are lakes and flower beds and sunny days and yeah, once in a while, a pitcher throws a no-hitter. Think about where you are and think about what it will take to help you to someday celebrate once again.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

As could be predicted, the impossibly hot Giants, Royals and Yankees were all cooled off a bit today. There is no way that these teams are going to play .800 baseball this year. The six run blown lead by the Royals today will be a test of their new found success. Success depends a lot on the mental aspect of the team and its individuals. A game like that can really shake a team that isn't used to winning. We'll watch that one closely.

The Giants and the Yankees were stopped by unbelievable performances by top stars on their game. The Giants were no-hit by Kevin Millwood. The Yankees ran into Alex Rodriguez at his best as he went 5 for 5 with six RBI including a grand slam.

Millwood, who was given away by the Atlanta Braves in what had to be a cash saving measure, was brilliant. Millwood had one year of injury in 2001 that limited him to a 7-7 record. But that year was sandwiched around years where he won 17, 18 and 18 respectively. Why give up a pitcher like that? Today he displayed the kind of pitching that was very Brave-like by limiting the Giants to three walks and no hits. Without taking away from Millwood's performance, I am still not sure that these Giants will hit consistently. Besides Bonds, there isn't a single guy in that lineup who has a career of consistent production. All that said, you can't take away from what Millwood did today.

Alex Rodriguez is a guy who is going to erupt on you if you don't bring your best stuff to the mound. Jeff Weaver did not seem sharp and his good fastball wasn't there. There are a lot of teams where you can get away with less than your best stuff. But you are not going to get away with that in Texas. Between Gonzalez and Rodriguez and Palmeiro and Everett and now Blalock and Sierra, you have a lot of firepower. Don't bring your best and you're looking at a ten spot.

Rodriguez is one of those guys who seems to have the world figured out. He oozes this confidense that you can't miss. Jeter has the same thing. They don't swagger. They don't look arrogant. They just look comfortable in their surroundings. Even when A-Rod struck out to end the game the night before when the Yankees won their second game of the series, he didn't look like a guy who failed. He looked like a guy who would come back another day to beat you. And that's what he did today.

Speaking of guys who have that certain confidense, Pedro Martinez is pitching tonight on Sunday Night Baseball. He doesn't have the same velocity as consistently as a few years ago, but he just knows how to pitch better than anyone else I've ever watched. I have watched Martinez and Clemens a long time and Clemens has most of his career behind him now. Martinez will have to pitch as long as Clemens to be compared in the same sentence. But Clemens never looks comfortable. He is always twitching and fussing. His uniform always seems like his enemy and it never seems to sit on Clemens correctly. Martinez is in total control all the time. Tonight is another typical dominating night for Martinez. He always seems like he can put any pitch he throws anywhere he want to pitch it.

Pedro just struck out his tenth batter in six innings. Jon Williams just mentioned that it was hit 88th game with ten or more strikeouts. That seems awful low. Let's see...he's been involved in 264 starts and 88 out of 264 is one third of his starts. I guess that makes sense. It just seems like it would be more than that. But what seems even more unreal is what in the world were the Dodgers thinking when they let Pedro get away? The Expos were short on money. That's understandable. Sad, but understandable. But the Dodgers back when they were bringing 3 million people in the stands every year? Man, they blew it didn't they?