Saturday, April 30, 2011




That was one of the ugliest, craziest games I have EVER seen. Giants defense allowed 9 walks, 3 hit batsmen, and an error...and two hits. Giants offense got 8 hits, was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and got their runs on a solo homer by Eli Whiteside and a pinch-hit bases-loaded walk by Aubrey Huff.

The Giants were doubled off on second base on a 1-4 putout. Yeah, I don't know how to describe it. Brian Wilson recorded a save while giving up two walks and a HBP. Seriously, if you can find a way to watch this game, I recommend doing so. Especially if you're not invested in either the Giants or Nationals. Then you can be free to just laugh and laugh. Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson were effectively wild, but check out that ump's strike zone above. Just ludicrous.

The Giants hottest hitters right now are Aaron Rowand, Eli Whiteside, and Mike Fontenot. Posey snapped his slump today and picked up two hits. You know who's not hitting well right now? Mike Tejada.

Oh, and Pablo Sandoval joins Andres Torres, Barry Zito, and Mark DeRosa on the DL with a broken bone in his right hand. Not...not good. Still, the Giants have managed to win three out of five games on this road trip thus far, so one can only imagine what this team is capable of when they have an offense.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 3: Ricky Romero, Yankee Killer

On the whole, the night went way better than you would think from this picture. 
I am not about to look this up, but it seems to me Ricky Romero has pitched some pretty great games against the New York Yankees, and if we assume that that impression is accurate, then we can add last night's solid outing to that list of things that might have happened. Two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts? I will take that literally every time. And the way he worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fifth, forcing a weak Teixeira pop-up to short and getting Alex Rodriguez to ground into a 6-4-3 double, that was roughly as tremendous as it was improbable. He was also nearly murdered (well, man-slaughtered, I guess) by a Teixeira liner but made the grab. Casey Janssen got into trouble with walks to Gardner and Teixeira in the seventh, but struck out A-Rod to end the inning, so all was immediately forgiven. Did I love it when Octavio "Don't Ask" Dotel walked two more in the eighth? Of course not, no, but he did strike out Jeter in a key at-bat before Jon Rauch came in and got the final four outs on eight pitches. That I loved.  

And perhaps you noticed that Jose Bautista belted his league-leading ninth home run last night, curling it around the pole in left in such a way that it afforded the haters just enough time to will it foul before their hateful hopes were dashed against the shores of the extent to which Baustista rakes? That's something I noticed. I also noticed that, for the second game in a row, Bautista made a baserunning error that produced a run. That is when you know everything is clicking. Here's what happened this time: with Rajai Davis on third (he'd stolen it like it wasn't even a thing that was hard to do), and Rivera batting, Bautista took off from first early, just basically screwing up the old ohshitthrowittosecond--nowaitshitthrowithome play that the Blue Jays are apparently sticking with.  But Yankee reliever David Robertson botched the throw, Bautista was safe, and Davis scored easily. When Rivera singled to left, Bautista pushed his luck further by trying to score. The throw totally beat him, but he managed to evade the tag with either the best or worst slide I have ever seen (I am still trying to come to terms with it). May I add that Bautista is currently rocking a .372/.542/.795/1.337 with 9 home runs, 28 walks, and 25 runs scored, and may I further add that every one of those numbers is league-leading? May I, haters? Oh, thank you for allowing me to point that out. It is most gracious of you. 

Also, let's hear it for J. P. Arencibia, who hit his fourth home run of the season last night, and who is totally going to be the starting catcher for years. He is going to be at least fine. Good for him, good for us. Everybody wins.

Finally, Robinson Cano scares the hell out of me. It is indecent that he hits the ball that hard and plays second base. Indecent.



Friday, April 29, 2011

Well, That Sucked

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Center fielder Aaron Rowand #33 (R) of the San Francisco Giants drops a ball hit Wilson Ramos #3 of the Washington Nationals (not pictured) after colliding with teammate Cody Ross #13 (R) during the second inning at Nationals Park...

The Giants are officially MIRED in a team-wide slump. It's really, really, really bad. Tim Lincecum pitched a hell of a game, going seven strong and getting better the entire time. Here is how his three earned runs came about:

- Cody Ross runs into Aaron Rowand (above), knocking a caught fly ball (on an 0-2 count) out of Rowand's glove, ending with a runner at second (SCORED A HIT!). The next batter, "Laynce" Nix, somehow gets his bat on an incredible breaking ball (on an 0-2 count) and knocks a dinger.
- Second base ump blows a call, allowing Nats baserunner to be safe on second when replays show he was caught stealing by Posey. The Nats pitcher somehow gets his bat on a pitch above his head (on an 0-2 count) and tomahawks a base hit into right, scoring the runner.

Still though, the frustration watching the Nationals offense Padres it up all evening, it was even more frustrating watching the entire Giants offense look like it's the first time any of them have held a bat before. The Nationals starter, Jason "Who?" Marquis looked like the second coming of right-handed Sandy Koufax or the Latino(?) Bob Gibson against these anemic mopesters, tossing a 96-pitch, complete-game shutout.

The Giants bats need to wake up in a hurry. Here's how they're looking:

Rowand, CF402001o.296
Sanchez, F, 2B3010001.284
Huff, A, 1B4000022.202
Posey, B, C3000011.250
Sandoval, P, 3B3000001.313
Burrell, LF3000021.253
Tejada, SS3010001.214
Ross, C, RF3010001.207


Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2: Corey Patterson Dropped an RBI Bunt Single To Win It in The Ninth, No Big Deal

Bautista hit by a fastball from Pedro Strop, hater.
Had Adam Lind not crushed a two-run shot to right, had Brandon Morrow not gone six strong, had the bullpen not shut the door the rest of the way, had Jose Bautista not kept things even with a diving catch down the right field line in the eighth, in fact had but one of these awesome things not happened, Corey Patterson would not have been in a position to bring the go-ahead run across in the top of the ninth with a bunt single on a safety squeeze. But they totally did happen, and so Patterson dropped one down like it was scarcely a thing. If you enjoy such small ballery, you should totally watch the highlights, and, while you're there, why not also have a look at the weirdest play ever?

Here's what happened: bases loaded, two out in the top of the ninth, ground ball to Adrian Beltre at third. Beltre is awesome, so this ought to be it for the inning, right? But the ball kicks off the heel of his glove for his first error of the season, which is in and of itself a strange thing. But it got much stranger a moment later when Jose Bautista, who is so awesome that he can't help but be awesome even when he is mistaken, breaks for third after he apparently (and, again, mistakenly) thinks the base is open. It is not: there is totally a baserunner there. It's Corey Patterson. But Bautista, I guess, was so focused on Beltre's inattention and off-the-bagness that he was like I have such an awesome idea and just took off. He realizes his mistake before he gets to third, but he's way way way off second, so he draws a throw from Beltre, but the throw gets away from second and dribbles into the outfield, allowing Patterson to score. What?

But all of that zaniness has been overshadowed, at least among the Blue Jays blognoscenti, by the post-game demotion of Travis Snider to Triple-A Las Vegas. I am not as perturbed by this as many, because Snider has been not just horribly unproductive thus far (.181/.276/.264) -- he's also been taking awful, off-balance, truly wretched swings over, around, and through breaking balls with alarming regularity. Like, as bad as that slash line is, he's looked worse, if you can believe it. He's only 23, and thus far from a lost cause, but the idea was that this year he'd be given a full season with the big club to figure it out. This is what has angered many of my blogging betters. But I don't really care, because I don't want to watch this guy out there just sucking every day. I really don't. Does this make me short-sighted and wrong? Possibly. But fuck it.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Aaron Rowand Drives in Three Runs, Steals Home, Summons Plague of Locusts

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 16:  Aaron Rowand #33 of the San Francisco Giants high fives teammate Pat Burrell #5 in the dugout after scores a sixth inning run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on April 16, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Obviously one of my favorite things to do here is vent my frustrations at the Giants' vexing center fielder, Aaron Rowand. But today, as the Allegheny River burst into flame and the sky began to bleed, he was the hero, picking up three RsBI, snapping the Giants' 0-for-17 with RISP for the series, and stealing home on a double-steal when the spectacularly-bearded Josh Doumit winged the ball into center field.

There were two other heroes in today's game. One of them was Ryan Vogelsong, returning to the Giants, who drafted him in 2000, pitching against the Pirates, to whom he was traded lo those many years ago for erstwhile ace Jason Schmidt, and making his first major-league start in eight years, filling in for the injured Barry Zito. Vogelsong had one problem inning, gave up a pair of runs to the Bucs, and needed a hundred pitches through five and two-thirds, but he also struck out eight, matching his career-high, and outpacing Zito's season total to date. He looked good tossing to backup backstop Eli Whiteside, so god only knows what kind of game he could throw when Buster Posey is completing the battery.

The other hero for the Giants was the Pirates' defense. Lordy, did they look terrible. four errors on the day, two by Lyle (clank) Overbay (clank clank). It's nice to see someone OPPOSITE the Giants Brooks Conrad-ing it up this season.

Other news: Mark DeRosa's wrist is still made of spun sugar and delicate wishes. He's back on the DL and Emmanuel Burriss is up from Fresno. Burriss was really raking it in AAA, but didn't look very impressive today, getting a gift infield single and booting a ball. The thing that really makes this bad news is that although backup shortstop Mike Fontenot had his first two hits off a right-handed pitcher this season, Mike Tejada got a meaningless pinch-hit single, which probably proves to Bruce Bochy that he's a gritty veteran gamer with true gamey grit back in his swing, and will start every game for the next three weeks.

The Giants head to our nation's capital, where they will all be asked to present their birth certificates. TOPICAL HUMOR~



Rangers 7, Blue Jays 6: Do Not Blame Jo-Jo For This

What it do, Yorvit Torrealba. What it do.
At first glance, you'd think there were just the two ways to go on this one: either that disastrous, six-run third inning is Jo-Jo's fault, or it's E5's. In an utterly unshocking turn of events, E5 committed yet another egregious Edwin Encarnacion (yes, I am still on that), allowing Yorvit Torrealba to reach, and opening the door to, well, a six-run inning, like I say. So you could totally pin this on E5 were you so inclined, and I would get that. On the other hand, you could suggest that sure, those are technically unearned runs, but eventually Jo-Jo has got to shut the door, right? It's not awesome to have to get four outs in an inning, but it happens all the time without getting pounded for six runs, right?

But I am here to argue that any ill feelings you have towards either E5 or Jo-Jo coming out of last night's game are misplaced and, ultimately, cowardly. They say more about you than they do about either of these deeply troubling athletes. We know, we know that E5 can't reliably make the throw to first. Let's not ask him to. Further, we know that Jo-Jo Reyes needs all the support he can possibly be given to have even the slightest hope out there. So let's especially not put E5 out there on Jo-Jo nights. It's not fair to E5; it's not fair to Jo-Jo; and it's not fair to me.

Let's hear it, though, for the Blue Jays' bats that pounded out fourteen hits and made a game of it, and for the bullpen that allowed only a single run the rest of the way. Juan Rivera went three for four with a home run, which in and of itself is hard to hate, except that I hate him. Also on the subject of haters, and specifically Jose Bautista's on-going struggle against them: knocked in a pair with a double. Eat it. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Really Enjoying the Week Off," Claims Giants Offense

Hey Michael: you're bad and you should feel bad.

The 2011 Giants are doing their best impression of the 2009 Giants, but with more recognizable names. The good news is that they're doing so awfully so QUICKLY, as this game sped right along. I'm watching Aaron Rowand strike out on three pitches, I look up and see the Canadiens give up a goal, I look down and I'm watching Aaron Rowand strike out on FOUR pitches this time. Way to work the count, A-Row. Honestly, if you get a chance to watch Rowand in a Giants game this year, you'll see him swing and miss at a slider down and away on an 0-2 count. Also, he'll step in and ask the umpire to start him with two strikes, because he's just THAT DAMN GOOD. Just kidding, he's horrible. He's like Roger Cedeno in Major League, except substitute "slider" for "curveball" and substitute "funny, entertaining, and ultimately triumphant" with "Aaron Rowand."

Looking even worse than Rowand is Michael Tejada , who got a hit...after he whiffed on a pitch during a hit-and-run and got Cody Ross thrown out at second. Cody Ross was looking absolutely craptastic since coming off the DL, but today got two bloop singles and a walk, so whatever. Giants are reaching base all over the place (except Tejada and the suddenly-slumping Posey), but no one's bringing them home.

I guess the real good news is that Madison "Sadison Bummedgarner" Bumgarner looked great tonight, giving up one fluky run in six innings or whatever. The Giants offense is 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position thus far in Pittsburgh. That...that's not good. The 1-0 lead was starting to feel insurmountable even before the Pirates added an insurance run off the bullpen. The Giants lost today to a sub-par team and it wasn't nearly as close as the final 2-0 score would seem. The Giants start Ryan Vogelsong tomorrow as they go for the series win. It's not torture this season; it's just irritating.

Darren Ford: History's Greatest Monster

The above .gif is from last year, but the sentiment is the same. Following a brutal three-game sweep at home by Ted Turner's contemptible Braves, the Giants were looking like crud against the lowly Pirates and their Roy Halladay clone, whatshisname. They managed to tie the game on a couple of sac flies and wiggle out of a couple of jams, but the offense was nonexistent for most of the game, as is fitting with a team that is insisting on batting Aaron Rowand in the leadoff spot, and Michael Tejada in any spot.

BUT THEN the Giants got a huge Pirates misplay in the top of the tenth to get their leadoff batter standing on second. BUT THEN Freddy Sanchez induced a fielder's choice to eliminate said runner at third. BUT THEN Darren "Vroom" Ford -- he of the baserunning and outfield heroics, but without a major-league hit -- went first-to-third when the Pirates' pitcher bounced a pickoff throw into right field. And on another 4-3 putout, Ford broke for home, and it wasn't close.

Darren Ford: can't hit a lick, but the most exciting man in baseball on the basepaths. Big, much-needed win for the Giants yesterday, but they need their bats to wake up and their pitchers to settle down.

Blue Jays 10, Rangers 3: Adam Lind is Your Worst Nightmare

This man comes to the plate to "Country Grammar." In 2011.
We would all agree, would we not, that five-run firsts are totally the best kind? I can only imagine the agony of Rangers fans (like our own dear Chinballs), though, as they watched starter Matt Harrison give up a single, bunt single, walk, RBI single, RBI walk, visit to the mound, RBI walk, run-scoring double play, and yet another RBI single before the line-out that ended the inning. That is just about the shittiest inning.

Unless you are a Blue Jay, that is, or a Blue Jay enthusiast. Then you are confronted with a choice: did Harrison not have anything last night, or did the Toronto Blue Jays just severely know what they were doing? I for one have chosen to take the latter view. Adam Lind was particularly severe, knocking in five runs on a single and oh yeah two home runs that's right he DID hit two home runs last night now that you mention it that's true. It was one of those nights where everybody hit, except Mike McCoy, but that's cool, Mike McCoy, nobody blames you for being only what God made you in His wisdom. The haters looked on in horror as Jose Bautista went one for three with two walks and scored a run, and maybe the lead story at right now is about how Jose Bautista is the most feared hitter in baseball; I don't know, you'd have to go see for yourself, probably. 

It would be shabby of me not to mention a fine outing by Jesse Litsch, and another solid performance by the bullpen, which, aside from that singularly epic collapse that will haunt both my dreams and half-waking nightmares forever, has been a pleasant surprise so far.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blue Jays 6, Rangers 4: Kyle Drabek: Thrower of Smoke

Oh yeah right, Corey Patterson
You might well recall that as recently as yesterday I noted (complained about, almost) the Blue Jays' utter inability to get men on base for Jose Bautista. Over the course of eleven consecutive plate appearances in which, much to the chagrin of haters, Bautista reached base safely, not once did he bat with a man on base. This frustrating trend continued last night, except not really, in that the reason Bautista came to the plate with the bases empty in the fifth was that Corey Patterson had just hit a three-run home run, the first of three the Blue Jays hit that inning. Bautista, naturally, hit the second (a high, majestic drive, as Jerry Howarth was right to point out), and Juan Rivera, of all people, hit an opposite-field shot later in the bat-around inning. This changes everything, in that Rivera looks like he's starting to come out of it, and yet nothing, in that I still hate him.

The other story on the night is of course Kyle Drabek's continued insistence on smoke, and, more specifically, the throwing of it. Three runs over six innings from the rookie starter? Yeah, I will take that literally every time. He's 2-0 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings. He is awesome.


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Curious Case of Mark Wohlers

Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Braves machine of the 1990's may not recognize the name "Mark Wohlers" right off the bat.

Those of you who consider yourselves Bravos faithful, on the other hand, can only shake their heads at the mere mention.

First, a bit of background. Mark was a young fireballer out of Holyoke, Massachusetts, signed fresh out of high school by the Braves in 1988. He spent three years in the minors honing his craft: relief pitching.

Now, not every young pitcher dreams about eating up late innings, waiting on the closer to get loose. But Wohlers thrived, in no small part because he was surrounded by (and you can argue with me on this, but you'll never convince me otherwise) the best pitching staff ever assembled by mortal men. Wohlers was a fantastic setup man from his callup in 1991 until he was promoted to closer in 1995. He showed he was a puppy with big paws just a month after his major league debut when he pitched two innings between starter Kent Mercker and closer Alejandro Peña, combining for a no-hitter against the Padres.

Wohlers earned his keep with just a handful of pitches: an average slider and a good split-finger fastball.

Oh, and the fastest fastball in the league, regularly crossing the 100 MPH mark, and reaching 103 MPH in a spring training game in 1995.

Mark's position in the Braves roster of pitchers was a unique one. Surrounded by control and finesse, Wohlers was the quintessential power pitcher: who cares if it's right down the middle as long as it's too fast to hit?

Fast forward to the 1996 World Series. Mark made his first All-Star team as a closer, using his skills to their maximum potential. His 39 saves (combined with his 100 strikeouts) proved he was just as valuable to the team as Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, and the rest. He helped the Braves make it back to the Fall Classic, facing the resurgent New York Yankees. The significance of the South's premiere team facing the "Yankees" was not lost on the news media, resulting in more than a handful of headlines intimating that the South would rise again after the World Championship run the previous year.

Game 4 rolls around. The Braves won the first pair in New York by a combined 15-1, but Game 3 in Atlanta went to the Yanks 5-2.

The Braves lead after the seventh, 6-3. The eighth begins, and the beloved Bobby Cox decides to put his best late-game pitcher in to preserve the score. Wohlers comes in to cover two innings.

An inauspicious start as journeyman Charlie Hayes and walking-endorsement-of-clean-living Darryl Strawberry both reach on singles. Hayes advances to third due to a bad play on Mariano Duncan's hit by Pacman Rafael Belliard. Jim Leyritz comes to bat, and here is where things get a little bit fuzzy.

Six pitches later and Leyritz sends one over the left field fence, accomplishing three things: scoring three runs, tying the game, and shattering the confidence of what had been one of the most dominant closers over the past three years.

Wohlers muddled through the ninth, but he was pulled at the end of regulation baseball. Once-great starter Steve Avery came in to mop up in the tenth and promptly gave up three wallks and a single, giving the Yanks a one-run lead. Brad Clontz, who none of you will ever hear of outside of this article, then gave up a fly ball dropped by poster-child-for-wasted-potential Ryan Klesko to cement the win for New York.

The Braves lost the next two games, and have yet to win another World Series game.

Back to Mark Wohlers, after the horrid end of the season in '96, 1997 was a minor hiccup. He doubled his walk ratio (a harbinger of things to come), but still recorded 33 saves.

1998. Mark Wohlers, previously a reliable flamethrowing closer, forgets something. Something important. Namely, how to throw a fastball for a strike.

It has many names. The Yips. Dartitis. Steve Blass Disease. But what it boils down to is an inability to do what once came as naturally as breathing.

It has happened before. Not just to the aforementioned Steve Blass, who couldn't perform in 1973, but to many pitchers. Kevin Saucier. Clay Kirby. Randy Jones. Sam Mitiello.

It happened after. Rick Ankiel, perhaps the most famous of the recent sufferers, transitioned to an outfielder once he came to terms with his malady.

Mark walked 33 batters in 21.1 innings. Such a performance led to Triple-A Richmond, where he walked 36 batters in 12.1 innings.

Finally, the Braves put Wohlers on the disabled list. Everyone knew why. Nothing was physically wrong with him. But they had to put something down on the form. They finally decided on the three harshest words ever uttered in baseball history: inability to pitch.

Wohlers stuck around for a few years, bouncing around the league to the Reds, the Yankees, and the Indians. But he was never the same after that fateful day in Atlanta in 1996.

Wildly Out of Control
The Baseball Cube
Baseball Reference
Wikipedia, because I'm a horrible person

Rays 2, Blue Jays 0: Oh Come On

In a shocking turn, home plate umpire Mike Everitt reveals himself to be a hater.
Ricky Romero struck out ten, and allowed only two runs over seven innings, both coming off of a first-inning home run to the kind of amazing Ben Zobrist. It was, however, not nearly enough, because everybody except Jose Bautista stinks, at least at the moment. Bautista came close to tying Lyle Overbay's (seriously, Lyle Overbay's) club record of reaching base in twelve straight plate appearances, and in every single one of those plate appearances, Bautista came up with nobody on base.

This is stupid and has to stop.

I am not going to get into a thing where I assign a rating to each and every Blue Jays game or anything, but I would like to give yesterday's offensive performance a rating, and the rating I would like to give yesterday's offensive performance is James Shields' butt.

A butt: I has one.

Nationals 10-10, 2/16th of our way to Mighty Decent

(JFK got involved with a bat 4 Horsemen style in the Racing of the Presidents the other week)

Nats have now played 20 games, and pitter-pattered their way thru a weekend series against the Pirates. Jayson Werth has sucked thus far and most of the commentary has been, "He always tweaks things, he's adjusting, he's a hard worker, etc etc." This makes me think UH OH, considering the Washington Redskins/Wizards historic tradition of high-priced free agents. Of course we knew that UH OH would eventually come on his 19-year contract, but I guess I wanted 2 or 3 years of glory to usher in the drug-addled reign of The Ultimate Harper.
Anyways, Jordan Zimmermann has been pleasantly nice, pitching has really saved this team thus far, as I think only six of their position players actually carry bats into the batter's box. The rest just walk up and say, "Ump, I'm gonna pop out to 3rd," and save themselves the wear and tear on their body.
It sucks rooting for a team like this, in a sport like this. You'd like to be relevant or at least a move or two away from relevancy. As it stands, I am rooting for them to be mediocre to put us in position to be better if other things go well. It's like rooting for your family to not be poor, yet being fully aware of how these things work, so you go, "I can get my kids into a better college than I went to as the first person in my family to go to college, and then they hopefully will not fuck up and make good money at that level so that their kids could maybe go to private school and an even better college, and eventually in like four generations, if everything goes perfectly, nobody fucks up or dies or ruins something with cocaine addiction, we'll not be a fucking doomed ass poor family." This is being a baseball fan from about 25 cities in a nutshell.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Rays 6, Blue Jays 4: Morrow Returns; Bautista Owns

OK, yeah, the Blue Jays lost. The Rays' David Price, who continues to be excellent at pitching --and who, it has seriously been reported, was heard to remark during batting practice Friday afternoon, "These guys have Juan Rivera?" -- made it into the ninth, and it took him only 102 pitches to do it. The Blue Jays' nifty little comeback in the bottom of the ninth was probably cut short, in part, by a bad call, as replays made it quite clear that Travis Snider beat the throw on that bunt with two on and nobody out. None of that is great, but I went into the game expecting to lose to David Price, and we did, so I am not going to dwell on any of that.

Instead, I am going to focus on Brandon Morrow's first start of the season. He looked good! Yes, there was the two-run homer he gave up in the first to Johnny Damon (a player with whom my problem never has been), which was not an inspiring beginning, but in the end Morrow pitched into the sixth, allowed three runs, and struck out ten. He only walked two, but both times it was Sam Fuld on really close pitches, and both times Fuld came around to score on home runs. Morrow threw way too many pitches, too, but that's an inescapable part of his deal. 

I would also like to draw your attention to Jose Bautista, who went 3-3 with two home runs and a walk. Bautista, who owns, has now reached base in ten consecutive plate appearances, and is closing in on the club record of twelve, held improbably enough by Lyle Overbay of all people. Bautista is leading the league in home runs (7), batting average (.371), OBP (.506), and haters silenced (all of them). Also he is second in slugging (.774) and OPS (1.281). If you do not love him, it is because of emotional problems that you have.


Sacramento River Cats vs Tuscon Padres, a live blog.

I'm sitting by the right field fair pole above the Cats bullpen. A little cool tonight, but no rain. I'm using a new Android blogger app, so we'll see how this works. Best $7 night out you're going to find.

WOOOO Jemile Weeks leadoff homer. Oh hey, my friend's ex-husband and the fat whore he left her for are sitting 20 feet away. Awkward. 2 run single by Adrian Cardenas and it's 3-0 with 2 down in the 1st. Hahaha Bobby Kielty's useless ass plays for Tuscon. 1st ends an Tuscon's Will Inman has thrown 51 pitches. Lol.

Tuscon scored once in the 4th while I was getting garlic fries. Pads score one more in the 6th. Anthony Recker hits a solo bomb in the bottom of the inning.

7th inning stretch time and at Raley Field that means one thing: time for the groundskeepers to dance. The thing I love most about minor league baseball is that no one takes themselves too seriously.

Oh hey, A's righty Michael Wuertz is making a rehab appearance!

In the 8th the Padres get runners on 1st and 3rd. Runner on 3rd get caught in run down an Jemile runs him down all the way from second. Noice.

Cats go on to win 4-2. Yeah! Cue the fireworks show!
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Saturday, April 23, 2011


I am breaking my silence to openly speculate that umpires have made a solemn vow to fuck over a Tigers pitcher whenever he has a perfect game or a no-hitter going. Why would they do such a thing? Who knows? These are strange and terrible times and like Heath Ledger's famous character, Patrick Verona aka The Jokesman in the Oscar winning classic 10 Things I Hate About You, some men just want to watch the world burn.

How Al Davis killed the Oakland Coliseum's Character

Baseball has been an important part of my life since I was a kid. My mom married my step dad when I was 4, and soon afterward I began making trips to Oakland to watch the A's play. You see, his parents took him and his two brothers to Oakland to watch the A's play when he was young, and that is what sports are really all about, ya know? I have never once referred to him as my step dad, and I see no reason why a blog post should be the start of that. He's simply dad, and I'm simply a dude who has two dads. From day one he treated my sister and I like we were his own children, and part of that means instilling values. I was taught from a young age that the Oakland Coliseum was a sacred place. Baseball history happened there, and when I was there I was to appreciate the fact that I was watching a game take place in a venue with historical significance. Fair enough. Any time we were driving down 880 and I could see the lights off in the distance, man, my heart would start beating louder and louder. This may be partly due to the fact that my parents fed me inordinate amounts of artery clogging foods as a child, but that is another blog post for another day. As we would make our way through the strange sights, sounds and smells of peoples tailgate parties I would walk faster and faster until we got to the gate. I knew that going to a baseball game was important to my dad, so that made it important to me. When the games weren't televised we'd go sit on the back patio and listen to Chris Codirolli give up tape measure home runs on a crappy radio with a coat hanger antenna. When there were no games on he'd tell me about taking the bus with his mom and brothers and cheering on some absolutely horrible teams. He told me about the 70's teams and how they became competitive almost overnight. As I got older and found myself in Dutch with my dad more often than not, no matter how pissed either of us were at the other, once the clock hit 7:05 PM we'd find ourselves on the couch, watching the A's. That is what baseball means to me. That is what the Oakland Coliseum means to my dad and I. And that is what made Opening Night this season all the more heartbreaking for my dad.

My dad has always been a hardworking, salt of the Earth kind of guy. He used to build swimming pools and became well known as one of the premiere pool plumbers in Nor Cal, so he was constantly in demand. The bummer of that was that pool building season is also baseball season. As the years went by and he went from being a father of 2 to being a father of 5, the trips to Oakland became less and less frequent. And then, they eventually stopped all together. I understood this, and was by no means upset. He was working 10-14 hour days so he could lay by and store for winter, which meant 3-4 months of no work. I got that. We still had the radio and TV, so we could still bond over baseball. Eventually he'd go on to own his own pool construction company which would eat away even more of his free time. Now I'm a 33 year old with a family of my own and dad is an old guy who still does his best to make ends meet. My family is doing fine financially, so I decided to take dad to Opening Night this year as a way of trying to get him excited about the best young pitching staff in baseball. We had some nice conversation on the way there, and we both realized that the last time he went to a game was when he took me out of school early so we could go see Todd Van Poppel's major league debut. Neither of us could believe it had been that long. We had a big laugh at how I had convinced him to buy up all the T-VanPee rookie cards he could find back when he owned a baseball card shop. That, along with my BUY endorsement of Harold Miner and Todd Day are part of the reason he no longer runs a brick and mortar card shop (although he still makes a killing on eBay). I thought that this would be great, it would be just like old times. I was in no way, shape or form prepared for what he would tell me on the way home. You see, while the Coliseum is still mostly the same now as it was back when dad was a kid, there is one HUGE difference: Mount Davis. The concrete and glass eyesore that the owner of my equally beloved Raiders insisted the city build him so he could move the team back here in '95. See for yourself.

Pre-Mount Davis. Notice the awesome view of the Oakland Hills? See how many people are in the seats? And then we have the AFTER photo

Yeah, it's really not the same place. I've been going there so often that I've grown numb to Mount Davis. My dad, on the other hand, hadn't experienced it first hand. I got us seats on the first baseline and after making our way through the crowded concourse we found our seats and sat down right as Dave Stewart threw out the first pitch (forkball in the dirt, in case you were wondering). We sat down and dad had this horrified look on his face. It was the sort of look you'd imagine a caveman would have if he were thawed out and had to watch an episode of Glee. "What in the FUCK is that?" he said, pointing to Al Davis' personal monument to his small, shriveled penis. "That's Mount Davis, Pop. You've seen it before, right?" Except he hadn't seen it before. He hadn't been there since '91. "Where are the Hills? Where's the breeze? What in the HELL IS THAT?" Dad pulled himself together and we managed to enjoy the game, even though the A's played horribly. We cut out after the 7th and headed home. "I gotta be honest with you, Mike. I don't feel any bond with that place any more. All my childhood memories there, all my memories of your childhood there, it's almost like all that stuff happened at a place that no longer exists." I wanted to argue, but he was right.

Mount Davis isn't the cause for the lack of fan support in Oakland. The economy is bad now, but it's pretty much always been bad in Oakland. All you see leading up to the Coliseum are old, run down factories and warehouses. Relics of commerce that picked up its roots and moved elsewhere. The neighborhood isn't the safest place in the world. There's been some horrible teams over the last 20 years or so. Mount Davis alone isn't the sole reason people don't go there anymore, but it was the one thing that pushed the franchise off the edge of the cliff. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was the same as Mr. Burns trying to block out the sun from Springfield. There are still some diehards who go to as many games as possibly. I myself plan on taking my 5 year old daughter to a couple games this year. Hell, I might even take the whole family to the 4th of July game and fireworks show this year. But those of us who are willing to make the drive, willing to sit in traffic, willing to pay $15 to park, willing to risk getting shanked in the parking lot, we're a dying breed. I never thought I'd say this, but when the A's leave Oakland (notice I didn't say 'if') I won't hold it against them. The Baseball Experience at the Oakland Coliseum has died, and Al Davis is the man holding the murder weapon.

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Sub Replacement Starter

Or, Jack Hananhan-lite, if you will. I really don't know what else to say about the guy. He's never gotten on base at a decent rate, but he always had a little bit of pop and played gold glove defense. Now he's swinging at sliders in the dirt that START OUT outside of the strikezone, grounding into double plays and is doing a spot-on Jose Offerman impersonation at third. He's far from the only A struggling, but he's certainly the one that they have no replacement for. Eric Chavez has apparently found the Fountain of Youth (steroids) and a good way of masking the Fountain of Youth in his urine stream and is playing really well for the Yankees. Failed prospect Andy Laroche is currently the alleged utility man while actual utility man Adam Rosales is on the 60 day DL, and has been even worse than Kouz in the field. AAA Sacramento has no legit hot corner prospects. So the A's are faced with the prospect of going into battle night in and night out with the rare MLB starter who has negative value to his team. There is nothing worse than watching a pitching staff go out and do their job only to watch the inept offense fail to score a single run, and that's what we A's fans have been going through so far. I have a bad feeling we're a week or 2 away from Billy Beane remembering he's a GM long enough for him to turn off the soccer game and declare the A's not fit to compete and use it as an excuse to start trading his usable pieces for minor league journeymen with high OBP. An early May Oakland Fire Sale might be enough to kill my interest in the rest of the season.

Blue Jays 6, Rays 4 (F/11): John McDonald is Your Home Run Hero

Wait, wait, is that . . . Chris Woodward?.
John McDonald, an all-glove super-sub with a career slugging percentage of .330, is the kind of undersized, scrappy, hustling player that broadcasters and writers won't ever shut up about for even a second until eventually you almost start to dislike the guy through absolutely no fault of his own. I am a huge fan of Blue Jays' play-by-play man Jerry Howarth, but he absolutely will not stop about John McDonald, and it's too much: "John McDonald practices at game speed! John McDonald does the little things! John McDonald plays the game the right way! John McDonald is eating a package of salted nuts!" I like John McDonald fine. And I am probably second-to-none in my appreciation of Jerry Howarth. But on this subject, I seriously want him to stop talking.

But now he never, ever will, not after last night's walkoff home run in the eleventh to win a pretty great game. Let it first be said that Jo-Jo delivered: four runs over seven innings is not a "quality start" in accordance with that (perfectly useful) statistic, but it is totally A Quality Start out of Jo-Jo Reyes. Through eight, the score was even at Tampa Bay 4, Jose Bautista 4 (Haters: 0). Bautista homered, tripled, and doubled in his first three plate appearances, scoring each time, and came up in the eighth needing a single for the cycle. Alas, he walked on four pitches, and came in to score on an E5 double to tie it. Bautista got another crack at the cycle in the tenth, but again walked. Alas.  

You will perhaps recall that I hate Juan Rivera, but to his credit he singled in the bottom of the eleventh. This changes nothing between us, but credit where credit is due. It was indeed strange to see Chris Woodward come in to pinch run -- in 2011, in a baseball game -- but this is not to suggest that it was not a welcome sight. Stranger and more welcome still was John McDonald's high fly to deep left that fell into a jubilant Blue Jays bullpen to end the game. Buck Martinez, our reasonably competent television play-by-play guy, pretty much had a stroke on air, which is sad, but also beautifully communicated the excitement of this entirely unexpected turn of events.

It is hard to have any worries or cares after a game like that, but I am nevertheless concerned that Juan Rivera and Travis Snider are hitting .283 if you add them together. Other than that, no complaints; this was awesome.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 2: Brett Cecil Down, Chris Woodward Up!

Sweet circle change, bro.
After last night's 6-2 comedown against the Yankees, I was all set to start this post by being all, "I don't want to be an alarmist or anything but is it too soon to be really worried about Brett Cecil?" And then I find out that he'd actually been sent to the minors. This is being described as a surprise move, and you can forilla gorilla number me among the surprisèd. Cecil had a really solid 2010, and I figured he was our number three guy for the foreseeable future. Maybe he will be once he gets straightened out, but for now, this is just weird. That makes Cecil and Litsch demoted in the last week, and yet somehow Jo-Jo Reyes remains. At a certain point you just have to embrace the mystery, and I know it's only three weeks into the season, but I am just going to ahead and embrace it now (preemptively, really, before it deepens further).

No less mysterious is the call-up of Chris Woodward, who I recalled with probably disproportionate fondness here. As I said there, I have watched a lot of shitty baseball in my time, and Chris Woodward was certainly the starting shortstop for a good deal of it, but Chris Woodward is a player with whom my problem never was. I welcome his return to the fold, even if I do not entirely understand it.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011



Eat it, Rockies


Troy Tulowitzki entered the series against the Giants batting .364. He is currently batting .323 after going 0 for 8 in the first two games. He demonstrated a knack for sulking, refusing to run on a passed-ball third strike, staring at Buster Posey and taking his batting gloves off determinedly while waiting at home plate to be tagged out. I hope he and Albert Pujols are thrown into the same slump-pit to rot for the rest of 2011.

The Rockies are suddenly figuring out that their best-record-in-baseball, haven't-lost-consecutive-games hot start looks a lot less impressive when you're not playing the Diamondbacks, Mets, or Cubs any more. By contrast, the Giants are suddenly figuring out that they are THE DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPIONS, that their offense is light-years better than it was in the first half of 2010, and coincidentally, clubhouse manager Mike Murphy just found a big box in the attic marked "SWAGGER" that he meant to take down after the team returned from the Cactus League. Better late than never, Murph!

Historically, the Giants avoid the sweep today. Matt Cain is pitching, Sandoval injured himself at BP an hour ago, and Cody Ross returns. It's going to be a fun one. Let's play...just the one. Travel day tomorrow. Two would be silly.