ESPN.com has the video of Delmon Young throwing the bat, and it didn't appear "inadvertent" as I mentioned in the 4/27 entry. Whatever the price Young has to pay, it won't be enough. Get over yourself DY.
For at least a couple years now, pitcher Todd Jones has been writing a weekly column for The Sporting News Magazine. Jones rarely pulls punches and writes with an interesting, in the trenches, style. His latest article is no different, discussing the recent power surge and the credit that should go to the hitters. Check it out here or buy a copy at 7-11 on your way home!
As Delmon Young has demonstrated (inadvertently throwing a bat at a minor league umpire), everyone in sports just... needs... to... chill... out...
It's April and Jacque Jones is already getting booed by Cubs fans. Does this help or hurt the player? Are you a moron for booing your home team? The Commish has all the answers in the latest Hot Corner. Before Cubs fans start flooding my e-mail, I am not singling you out. I've seen White Sox fans boo Damaso Marte before he so much as threw a pitch in a game, only to escalate the razzing with each pitch. How can a player be successful in that kind of home environment? From Marte to Jack McDowell flipping the New York fans the bird, it seems that booing rarely helps the cause. TCO tells you why!
I was just getting ready to start my Chan Ho Park bashing by telling you what his last name spells backwards, and he goes and almost throws a complete game last night. He did still give up 4 runs, though. You know what? He still stinks. Seriously. Look up his stats since he left LA and signed a huge contract. It ain't pretty.
With ageless wonder Greg Maddux winning his fourth straight start Sunday, it's easy to start making suggestions of who will be the "next Maddux" but impossible to come up with a deserving pitcher. Here's one that comes close:
Stats after completing a season at age 26:
Maddux: 95-75, 3.345 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 5.85 K/9
Buehrle: 85-53, 3.632 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 5.37 K/9
Mark Buehrle's winning percentage is slightly better (.616 vs. .594) and his uncanny control gives him a lower WHIP than Maddux. In Maddux's favor is ERA and K rate, both of which contributed greatly to a quick 95 wins. It's unlikely that Buehrle will reach Maddux's victory total of 322 and counting, but his consistency, lack of arm trouble, and history of having a solid offense on his side should give him a shot at 250 - 300 wins.
Other pitchers are heralded for their natural talent or potential, but for all the Becketts, Burnetts, and Bensons, Buehrle's RESULTS outshine them all.
Yet another response to the entry from 4/19:
You fail to consider (at least out loud) in your slugfest article of 4/19 that one logical explanation for the early rise in scoring is that not only does the steroid ban impact hitters, but pitchers as well. It is widely believed (and supported by some of last year's suspensions) that many pitchers were juicing, so a clean season reduces the weapons they bring at the batters.
Also, to suggest that hitters are clean since steroids are out of the game (snort, chortle, smirk) is erroneous because Human Growth Hormone is not even being tested for and many inside accounts state that this is even more widely abused then steroids ever was.
So, Hawk "He Gone" Harrelson can stuff a cork in his yib-yab talking about tired Dominicans rolling baseballs and juicing the balls and whatever else might fall out of his addled brain. We are still feeling the effects of the steroid era and the players are still using performance enhancing drugs.
I agree that pitchers are/were as likely to "use" as hitters because steroids seem to have better success in speeding healing than helping put bat to ball. A relief pitcher with 90 appearances in a season (and likely a constant sore arm) surely would have the same motive as the outfielder who plays every day. In the meantime, try to catch a baseball game or three while hunting for station that will broadcast playoff hockey.
A reader responds to yesterday's entry:
I think your larger points about rampant scoring taking away from the game is dead on. Unfortunately, MLB loves the long ball. Which reminds me of the Simpsons where the MLB satellite that had been monitoring Bart crashes in Springfield and before the town can inspect the suspicious remains, Mark McGwire jumps out of a helicopter, hides the reams of evidence under his cap, and says something like, "Would you rather talk about conspiracies or watch me hit some dingers?!" At which point the crowd loses interest in the crime, and the plot, and chants, "Hit some Dingers!"
Ironic foreshadowing and an accurate statement on the philosophy of modern day major league baseball.
I'm glad you agree with me. If only the rest of the world would get on board, I could start getting a few things accomplished.
Regardless of your conspiracy theories on juiced balls and juiced players, it can't be denied that scoring is rampant in the early season of 2006. An AVERAGE of 10.25 runs are being scored per game. A few other stats on the scores:
-Double digit scores have been reached 10.8% of the time
-10 runs have been scored the same amount of times as 0 runs (16 each)
-13-run pools are useless now, with that mark being hit 7 times already
-All run totals from 0-16 have been accomplished more than once
Don't worry - despite games like last night's 13-12 contest in Houston, scoring is settling down. In the first week of the season, teams were averaging 5.26 runs/game, but in the past week, that number is down to 4.98.
10 runs per game doesn't sound like much (7-3, 6-4, etc.) until you realize that's the AVERAGE total, which means for every 3-1 contest, there's a 12-4 game offsetting it. I don't mind high totals, but what I enjoy more is good baseball. Pitchers getting rocked because hitters are spraying opposite field home runs as a result of smaller parks, etc. is not good baseball.
When a single run becomes less important, the game becomes less specialized and the need for role players (leadoff men, good bunters, contact hitters, fast runners, defensive players, etc.) takes a backseat to filling a roster with a softball league mentality.
I have nothing against those who can hit the long ball, but when that in itself is no longer a specialized talent, strategy is lessened, pitching becomes an afterthought, and the game is no longer exciting despite 13-12 scores.
Like the Home Run Derby, where the excitement wears off quickly once you realize all the participants possess similar skills and it's just a matter of which player gets hot, constant slugfests lose their luster and take the game away from the manager, half of the players, and ultimately the fans.
There is certainly no such thing as a "must win" series in April, but important series still exist even this early in the season. Such is the case beginning tonight in New York. The Mets, already with a 4 game lead over Atlanta, can put some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the division with a 3 game sweep. Atlanta can ill afford to fall too far behind too early - the roster isn't filled with as many veterans as in past years, and the pitching, especially middle relief, is not built for long term dominance. Slow and steady has been Atlanta's credo the past decade and a half, but it's tougher to remain steady while trying to play catch up so early in the season.
Maybe these kind of things are the reason for my high blood pressure, but the way people mess up the words of Take Me Out to the Ballgame drives me batty (get it, batty?)! For instance, "I don't care if I NEVER get back" is often replaced with "... EVER get back." What's that? YOU say "ever" instead of "never?" I thought you were better than that. Check out the wikipedia entry and refresh yourself with all the lyrics.
Cincinnati pitcher Bronson Arroyo entered the year with exactly ZERO career home runs in 55 ABs. Arroyo has just taken Cubs pitcher Glendon Rusch deep for the second time this year, and the ivy hasn't even had time to turn green in Wrigley. The first 6 Cincy hitters took Rusch to the warning track or deeper (Griffey and Dunn hit HRs) to start the game, so it's pretty obvious where the Cubs need to improve to keep themselves in the race. Elsewhere, Milwaukee and Colorado are making the TCO Season Preview look good with their solid play early on, but the World Series bound Phillies (according to The Commish) are a mere 1-6 are must pick it up quickly to avoid making The Commish look like a fool.
Normally, I don't like to talk about my fantasy team because everyone has the same issues (my guys always get hurt, why didn't Owner A offer ME that deal, etc.). This trend, however, is comical because apparently, my players simply don't stretch enough. Starting with the first game of the season, C.C. Sabathia pulled a stomach muscle (insert joke here), sending him (my #2 starter) to the DL for about a month. Then, a couple days later, I notice Chipper Jones (my starting 3B) sitting out the 2nd game of the season with what was described as a pulled muscle in his stomach (?). Meanwhile, that evening I picked up pitcher Horacio Ramirez to replace Sabathia's spot. Before Ramirez even got in a game for me, he strained his hamstring running the bases. The verdict? Yup, a stint on the DL. Wait, it's not over. Yesterday, cruising early in the game, San Fran pitcher Noah Lowry (my #3 starter) was suddenly taken out after recording just 5 outs (0 runs, 2 strikeouts). That's right, Lowry somehow pulled a muscle in his back. His status is still up in the air, but knowing my current luck, I'm already shopping for some more arms.
On the bright side, if you are a Cubs fan, for the right price I can pick up or trade for as many Houston and St. Louis pitchers as possible, practically guaranteeing you the division. I can put my electronic form of voodoo into action and your team just might see the playoffs. I have a PayPal account if you want to get started right away.
Last night's opener between the White Sox and Indians was a perfect example of why I picked Chicago over Cleveland to win the AL Central again this year: depth in pitching and versatility in the field. When the loooong rain delay ended, Brandon McCarthy stepped right in and acted as a second starter for the White Sox, while Rob Mackowiak acted as an able substitute for a gimpy Scott Podsednik. The result? A 3-3 tie turned into a 10-4 White Sox victory when Cleveland had little answer after Sabathia left with an injury. Who did The Commish pick to win the other divisions? Find out in TCO's 2006 Season Preview!