Saturday, June 14, 2003

Much to my relief, amazement and joy, Roger Clemens finally won his 300th game (along with obtaining his 4000th strikeout) in grand style by striking out ten hitters against a great hitting team and holding the Cardinals to two runs. The relief pitchers did their job as did the Yankee hitters and it's finally over. Congratulations Roger. I know it was your personal victory and was an accomplishment performed from your hard work over the years. But it was my victory too as I have watched at least two hundred of those victories. You are one of the best ever and I am honored that I was able to watch you.

My prediction is that now that this milestone is finally met, the Yankees will go on a tear and today brought that out as they mauled the Cardinals' best pitcher and exploded for thirteen runs. Giambi is officially hot and is up to 17 homers and 46 RBI. Matsui is hot as well and is up to 44 RBI. Sierra has produced in his few games and Andy Petitte threw well today. Look out American League, the Yanks are past walking the tightrope and will be stridently walking your way soon.

In two of the best matchups in this interleague weekend, the Braves and Mariners have split two games in what is the battle of this year's two best teams. And the Cubs and Blue Jays have split two games as two of the better teams in the majors squared off. Mark Prior won again today and has looked really sharp his last two games.

Carlos Delgado and Adam Dunn both hit their MLB leading 22nd homers tonight. Dunn was involved in a major brawl last night against the Phillies after getting brushed back twice. It seems that the Phillies weren't too happy that Dunn crashed into Philly catcher, Mike Lieberthal with the Reds winning the game at the time 10-0. I understand that to degree, but as Tim McGarver aptly pointed out recently, these days, a 10-0 lead isn't safe and you have to score all the runs you can. Dunn is a football mentality anyway and a big man. I'm sure he was just playing hard. To his credit, Lieberthal didn't think it was a bad play on Dunn's part. I'm sure you will see lots of suspensions from that game.

It was quite ironic last night. I wanted to record my feelings for the Clemens milestone and was looking forward to writing my post. But I changed the hub on my network yesterday and couldn't get the network to recognize the cable from Road Runner. Finally, I went to bed giving up on it for the night. My wife got it working while I was sleeping. How is that for a good woman huh?

The Red Sox just came back to tie the Astros 2-2 in another great interleague matchup. The Red Sox are amazing in that they never give up and their hitters just expect to pull the games out at the end. You don't beat the Red Sox, they just run out of outs. Ramirez and Garciaparra are both up to .325

The Dodgers have won five straight and are now just two and a half games behind the Giants in the NL West. Ashby even won a game for them. They have great pitching and the league's best closer. I had thought for a while that the Giants were going to run away with it, but I no longer believe that.

It's a real shame that the Cubs have lost Sammy Sosa for seven games right after his coming back from injury. June has always been Sosa's get hot month and the season is getting to be a wash for him. His Pepsi commercial buddy, Junior Griffey, continues to pound the ball since his return which makes this fan a very happy guy.

I just filled out my AllStar ballot. I'll fill you in tomorrow!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Joe Torre must have given a good speech last night because the Yankees came from behind and won tonight for the first time all year. In a spectacularly poor statistic, they were 0-20 in games where they were behind after the sixth inning. That doesn't show a lot of fire and vinegar. But tonight was different and the same pitchers who made them look terrible last night in that six pitcher no hitter were spanked for the loss and blown save tonight.

Across town, the Mets fired General Manager Steve Phillips a half a year after they fired Bobby Valentine. It's hard to know how much blame to assign to a GM when a team fails. He just couldn't seem to catch these older players correctly. Robbie Alomar seemed like the best second baseman that ever lived until he became a Met. Now he doesn't seem any better than Horace Clarke. Jeremy Burnitz hit dozens of homers for the lowly Brewers and was one of the league's premier power hitters until he became a Met. Last year, he looked like Rich Gedman after he got all fouled up by the Charlie Lau swing.

It's hard to know which side of the career Tom Glavine was on. Was there a reason why Atlanta let him walk? Did they know something Phillips didn't? The statistics don't show any slippage in Glavine's performance from 2001 to 2002. He was typically great. Who would figure that this year he would be injured so often and so ineffective because of it.

It was easy to see that Piazza was slipping year to year. Every year his stats came down bit by bit. He will rank, if he moves to first or elsewhere, as the best hitting catcher ever. But his best years are gone. That wasn't Phillips fault. Mo Vaughan was his fault. Mo had slowed down by the time he hit Anaheim and then lost a year to injury. It is much easier for pitchers to miss that much time than it is for hitters. Mo was short for Molasses and that's how slow his swing was with the Mets.

The Mets just seemed off the last couple of years and every thing they tried just seemed to fall apart on them. I guess you can blame the GM or the manager before him. But I guess my blame would fall with the players. But I guess you can't fire a whole team.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Two no-hitters are underway tonight. The Yankees have been no-hit through six by four different Astros pitchers. Oswalt started, but had to leave early with a leg injury. A few years ago, the major leagues reconsidered what was a no-hitter and combined and short inning no hitters no longer count. I don't agree with that at all. Whether it's a team that does it or just one pitcher, a no hitter is a no hitter.

In the San Francisco/Chicago White Sox game, terrific rookie pitcher, Jesse Foppert, has no hit the White Sox through four innings while striking out six. Whether the no hitter stands or not, the White Sox are moribund and I believe that the Sox need to make a change at manager. He's had a long tenure there and things are getting worse instead of better. The players don't seem to have any fire and that is the manager's responsibility.

Coco Crisp has had a tough start for the Indians as he's gone 1 for 9 in his first two games. Mets rookie, Jose Reyas, went 2 for 4 in his first MLB game. He's 0 for 1 so far tonight.

Oops. The White Sox got a hit on Foppert, but only one and the Giants are up 8-0. Bonds hit another homer and is starting to catch fire. His is up to 17 homers and 39 RBI. Don't count out another 50 homer season.

Pedro Martinez pitched three innings of shutout ball in his first outing back from his injury. John Burkett has pitched very well in relief and that is a good sign for the Red Sox as they are up big over the Cardinals.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

One of my favorite players in all of baseball went on the disabled list today. I've watched Ellis Burks since he broke in with the Red Sox as a hard swinging centerfielder. He could hit, throw, run and has been a solid player for a long time. I always thought his knees would end his career, but his career threatening injury is to his elbow as a pinched nerve is causing the muscles in his hand to atrophy.

Burks has 351 career homers and over 1200 runs scored and RBI during stints in Boston, Colorado, San Francisco and now Cleveland. He always seemed like a class act and his "act" was real as he has been credited with great leadership skills everywhere he has gone. The Fan knows he's been around a long time when players reach the end of their career and the Fan remembers the beginning. Age isn't any fun.

Burks was replaced on the Indian's roster with one of the great names in baseball history: Coco Crisp. Coco is currently 0 for 4 in his first game up. It looks like I have a new player to keep track of in the box scores!

Well...part of me feels vindicated and part of me feels badly tonight. Juan Acevado was released by the Yankees just three days after blowing Clemens bid for 300. The very next day, his throwing error gave the Cubs some extra runs that decided the game in the end. I feel bad because I hoped he would be released and now he is. It's not as bad as wishing someone dead, but it's close. I'm sure he'll end up somewhere and resume his career.

The Mets brought up their next great player (supposedly) tonight in the person of Jose Reyas. He'll play shortstop for two weeks while Ray Sanchez heals. He batted last in the Mets/Rangers game tonight and singled in his first major league at bat. How cool is that! Way to go, Jose, and welcome to MLB!

Monday, June 09, 2003

It's another one of those blah Monday's when virtually all of MLB has the night off. The only game scheduled is a late game between the Phillies and the Angels. The Phillies beat Oakland in two games of their double-header yesterday while the Seattle Mariners won both games of their double-header against the Mets. That's a four game swing in the standings and seems to state rather convincingly that Seattle is going wire to wire in the AL West.

Interleague play is where the Athletics have started their runs in recent years. Their great pitching led them to the best interleague record in the majors. But they are only 5-5 in their last ten interleague games while Seattle has had a 9-1 run. In fact, Seattle is one of only two teams in the entire American League that has a winning record in the last ten games of interleague play. The Angels are the other at 7-3. Oakland is now a half a game behind the Yankees for the wildcard as well.

I don't know if it is a sign of parity or just plain mediocrity, but nobody in the American League East or Central had a better than .500 record. It's like all the teams are just spinning around in some kind of crazy orbit waiting for something to break out.

The top division during interleague play has been the National League Central. Four teams (including Milwaukee!) are above .500 in the last ten games and the Astros are as hot as the Mariners with a 9-1 run. It's funny how the Astros look great and then terrible...then great...then terrible. I guess it's the old cliche' where they will be as good as their pitching takes them. Since they have a potentially great starting staff and arguably the best bullpen, pitching could take them a long way. The NL Central race is going to be a good one to watch all year, especially if Sammy Sosa ever gets going.

Speaking of the NL Central, I don't know if the Yankees are just that bad now, but the Cubs look really tough. Their pitchers aren't afraid of anything and they can bring it game after game after game.

Okay, I've been avoiding this topic, but a true fan has to admit that the Atlanta Braves are one amazing franchise. How in the world do you dismantle the best bullpen in the league from last year, ignore signing Glavine and Millwood and still end up tied for the best record in MLB? Every year us Braves haters wait like buzzards for them to fall as all empires must but they don't and won't. They even won the battle of the cable teams. In the early days of cable, you could watch every Braves game on TBS, every Cubs game on WGN and every Mets game on WOR. The Braves are the only one left. They are an amazing organization and as a fan, you have to give it to them.

It's time for me to look at my favorite players to check on a daily basis:
- Sean Burroughs of the Padres is hitting .409 in his last seven days and is now up to .293 for the season. Not much for power, but that will come in time.
- (sigh) Pat Burrell is still stuck in a terrible slump and only hit .176 for the week which leaves his season average below the Mendoza line at .199. Ugh!
- (more sighs) Shane Spencer has wore out his attempt to start in Cleveland and only played in two games the last seven days and went 1 for 8. His season average is down to .226.
- Ken Griffey hit .308 the last week and has his average up to .277. His Slugging percentage is up over .600 and his OPS is over 1.000! Yeah!
- Adam Dunn is beginning to look a lot like Dave Kingman with 20 homers for the season and a .211 batting average.
- Rocco Baldelli only hit .263 for the week which brought him down to .329 for the year. But he still has 80 hits already!
- The Devil Rays' other phenem, Jason Tyner, hit .500 for the week and is hitting .394 in limited action.
- My man, Hank Blalock chugs along, hitting .360 for the week with 7 more RBI (40 total) and is hitting .353 for the year.
- His young teammate, Mark Teixeira, hit .294 for the week and is up to .244.

Don't ask me why I am so interested in those players above. I don't know other than that some were old favorites and some just captured my imagination along the way.

Ugh! Road Runner went down last night for one of the few times in years of my memory. My apologies as I was unable to post. I'll see you folks tonight.