Craig Biggio set the record last night for most times being hit by a pitch in a career. Yawn. I'm hardly impressed because pitchers have not been throwing at him throughout his career and it's not some crazy statistical anomaly that has caused this record. Biggio has simply leaned into (or "unavoided") a few hundred pitches over his career and has been awarded first base as result.
I certainly don't fault him for it - if you can get away with something right in front of the ump's eyes and he's not going to do anything about it, then by all means, take advantage of the situation (Reggie Miller made a career out of that belief). Most players aren't willing to take all that punishment for the occasional extra base, which is why people respect Biggio. Personally, I am not as impressed because of the armor hitters are allowed to wear now, but for what it's worth, I'd still be diving out of the way, trying to get a single on the next pitch.
Julio Franco, one night after hitting a grand slam, legged out a triple. What were you doing when you were 46?
I had a mini-vacation at home with the kids (which will likely evolve into a future Foul Territory), but for now, let's get back to the baseball! In the past week, the Rangers have gone from contenders to pretenders, dropping 7.5 games back of the Angels while having a heck of a time trying to defeat them head-to-head. Texas still has three more games against Anaheim (LA) this week, and the All-Star break is still a couple weeks away, but Texas cannot afford to fall much farther with the pitching staff they have. Kenny Rogers didn't help matters much by breaking a bone in his non-pitching hand out of frustration (of a game he won!). The Rangers can still outslug anyone, but they have to regroup now to make sure they have a chance to do that come September.
For those of you living outside of San Diego and without the Extra Innings baseball package, you are missing a star in the making in Jake Peavy, starting pitcher for the Padres. Last night, the Padres finally stretched him out a little, and Peavy responded by throwing 8 innings of 2-hit ball while striking out 13. The 120+ pitches Peavy threw should not cause concern because he hardly labored, never threw over to first (to my recollection), and looked more efficient in his delivery.
How do you know when it's just your year? In the case of the Chicago White Sox, it's when you lose a starter to the DL (Orlando Hernandez), you have to bring up minor leaguer Brandon McCarthy, but his start is against the struggling Jose Lima. Sure enough, an 11-8 victory was the result for the streaking Sox.
Straying from baseball for just a day, there is a great article about Robert Horry and his so-called "clutch performances" on Slate.com. The author, Felix Gillette, offers some interesting facts and explains why the public's perception of a situation is not always the reality. Read it here.
No matter how much I try to follow the game of baseball, there is always a stat which I find utterly surprising. In this case, I was looking back at Jim Edmonds' career numbers and, before I looked, my personal (and obviously incorrect) thought was that Edmonds is a guy with a great glove and a decent bat who shows flashes of greatness but gets banged up a little too often to put together a nice string of numbers over the years.
I was wrong. In the last five years with the Cardinals, Jim Edmonds has AVERAGED the following numbers: .298 BA, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 102 R, and 6 SB. That's a lot more power than I anticipated as well as a lot more offensive production in general. Needless to say, after reviewing these numbers, I quickly traded struggling pitcher Jason Schmidt from my fantasy team and acquired Edmonds. If the St. Louis outfielder can just put up his average stats the rest of the year, I'll be a happy man.
As a guy who has not been kind to Chan Ho Park in the past, I would love nothing more than to give him credit for his 7-1 record and apparent resurgence this year. However, his accompanying 5.15 ERA won't let me do so, because that tells me any pitcher thrown on the mound most of those days would have gotten the win. I know Texas is a hitter's park, so I'm not expecting a 2.90 ERA (although Kenny Rogers is doing his best Bob Gibson impression with the club). When Park gets his ERA below 5.00 and is still winning games, I will be the first to congratulate him on finally earning some of his salary.
Most of you heard the comments Carl Everett made to MAXIM Magazine in the July issue by now. Since this is a baseball website, I will avoid stating my opinion on Everett's anti-gay stance and will instead focus on the quote in which Everett said that "...99 percent of baseball fans have no idea what they're watching." 99 percent? Please, Carl, think before you speak, especially when the people you are ripping on are paying your salary. While it's a paying customer's choice to cheer on his team or follow the Pizza Race on the JumboTron, having been at the White Sox game just last night, I can attest that MANY (not just 1 percent) of the fans were quite aware of the game and its intricacies.
Specifically, when left fielder Scott Podsednik make a nice defensive play cutting the ball off in the left field corner before reaching the wall, thereby holding the hitter to a single, the crowd was louder only for the four home runs the Sox hit last night. We get it Carl. Some more than others, but we get it. It's baseball, it's only as complicated as you make it, and we get it. If a fan wants to stay a casual fan and not want to know the name of the setup man, that's okay - he'll still know to cheer when his team scores runs. Even my wife knows what's going on when Iguchi makes an out because he's bunting Podsednik over to second. She knows not to boo at situations like that and she also knows that booing is quite acceptable when a grown man making millions of dollars grabs his crotch after hitting a home run. I don't advise you to get in an IQ contest with the average fan, Carl. You will likely find yourself in second place in that two man race.
While watching Jake Peavy strikeout 10 batters last night, I also got the pleasure of watching how nasty Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney's stuff is. His fastball hits the mid 90s while his changeup clocks in at the low 80s, and Rodney is just coming off a stint on the DL. Most interesting about Rodney, however, is his getup. Sporting a hat more crooked than a heavyweight boxing council along with a beard that makes his chin Jay Leno-like in appearance, Fernando is one goofy looking character.
Living in Chicago, I watch a lot of White Sox games and have to suffer through former player/current broadcaster Darrin (DJ) Jackson's mouthfuls of description he offers every night. Jackson used to be overly silent (and was frequently ridiculed by partner Hawk Harrelson) but now has reversed the trend and tends to overexplain his point. Not meant to be a DJ bashing paragraph, Jackson is MUCH better now than he was just a couple years ago. My point is that watching last night's Detroit broadcast with color commentator Rod Allen made me realize what Jackson could be. Allen, like Jackson, is a former player who lacked stardom but managed to stick around baseball for quite a long time.
The difference in the booth, however, is that Allen doesn't try to be something he's not; Allen is a loose talker who obviously knows the game and offers some witty dialogue between pitches. If you can put up with the "dudn'ts" and other non-professional terms, Allen is a fresh listen to the ears. Among my favorites moments last night was Allen's suggestion that Fernando Rodney must blow dry his beard prior to the game to make it stick out like it does. Allen was able to keep the broadcast fun without losing sight of the game.
Jackson, while getting better, still sounds like he is trying to mimic a broadcaster rather than just being one. Becoming more versatile as a color man OR play by play man, Jackson's rap is no longer sophomoric, but he still sounds like he's doing his best Hawk Harrelson impression.
My suggestion: send DJ some tapes of Rod Allen and remind him that he's in the booth because he played the game and can relate, not because he sounds like a broadcaster.
Time saving tip of the day:
As your friendly neighborhood Commish, let me save you the time reading ANY article that begins with either "Can Willis win 30?" or "Can Derrek Lee finish 1st in the Triple Crown stats?" The answer to both questions is NO and NO. No need to read further. You're welcome.
With one month to go before the All-Star Game (July 12), fans are beginning to vote with their minds and not with their hearts, as injured players such as Nomar Garciaparra have lost their leads. In the A.L., the only controversial starter right now is Tino Martinez, but Mark Teixeira is gaining fast. In the N.L., Derrek Lee is slowly closing the gap on Albert Pujols for the starting first base spot. The rest of the infield is not quite as black and white as the A.L. voting, but while some undeserving players currently hold top spots, there are no clear cut leaders proving it on the field.
One name that does deserve more credit is Chicago catcher Michael Barrett. Look up the stats and think twice before penciling in Piazza as the starter. Beltran, Edmonds, and Abreu currently hold the top three outfield spots, but any of the top five are deserving (including Cabrera and Griffey). For the latest All-Star updates, go to MLB.com.
The Red Sox come into Chicago to play in Wrigley Field for the first time in history (the 1918 World Series was held in Comiskey Park because it could hold more fans). While you stew over that utterly meaningless bit of trivia, check out the latest Foul Territory for a short escape from baseball. If you are a parent or thinking of becoming one, it's a must read!
For all of you fans of the great Harold Baines out there, you may have heard that he got hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice yesterday. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Baines walked off on his on power and was in the dugout, coaching his heart out as always (as the White Sox bench coach). Unfortunately, the blow to the head might delay Baines' comeback bid; a bid that I am suggesting, not him. I figure he should be ready to go shortly after the All-Star Break when Frank Thomas gets hurt again and Carl Everett gets suspended for flipping out about something. Baines should be able to step in to the DH spot without missing a beat.
For those of you out there that care about the All-Star Game (I have major issues with it, which will be addressed in a month or so), I received a tip from a Cubs fan that Clint Barmes broke his collarbone falling down his stairs while carrying groceries and will be out a few months. This is important to the Cubs fan because he believes that the door is now open for Neifi Perez to start the All-Star Game. My question to this Cubs fan is why did you have to push Clint so hard down the stairs? Perez still could have been named a reserve in the game, even though no one outside of a 2 mile radius of Wrigley wants to watch Perez in an All-Star Game.
The end of the world is coming: the Royals swept the Yankees! In the Senior Circuit, I received this email from an optimistic Cubs fan:
Okay, I know that things looked pretty bleak for the Cubs a week ago: Prior dropped with broken bone with Wood already on DL, a team a handful of games under .500, a bullpen struggling to not blow every chance and an offense struggling to put up more then 1 or 2 runs a game. BUT what a difference a week makes!!!
The Cubs have won 7 straight and are now 4 games above .500. They are also 5.5 games behind the division leading Cardinals and 1 game out of the Wild Card. Remember the Cubs still have 14 games against the Redbirds this year, so 5.5 games in early June is not huge margin. The bats are Blazing! Ramirez, Perez and the rest of the crew has finally shown up to support Derrek! The Cubs have posted at least 10 hits in their last 7 games and are averaging almost 7 runs per game over that time. The bullpen has come around and been lights out of late acting like a real major league pen. Rusch, Zambrano, Maddux have continued to be solid and the farmhands (Mitre and Koronka) have made a couple capable starts behind some solid offense.
I'm not saying we should be talking series, or even playoffs, but this is certainly reason to be feeling better about your club. So, pick your heads off the bar Cubs fans; the Northsiders have given us some reasons to be proud.
In what is becoming an increasingly overused cliche in baseball, Jermaine Dye paraphrased the old "you know you're going to win 60 and lose 60, it's what you do with the rest of the games that matter" quote after hitting his game winning home run in the ninth, sending the White Sox to a league best record of 35 - 17.
What does that quote really mean? It might be true (although if I'm playing, I'm trying to win 110 games and demolish everyone in my way), but it doesn't really MEAN anything. You try to win 162 games. It's not like all but 42 games are predetermined. Dye also referenced the importance of winning one-run games. Those are no more important than winning two-run games. In fact, if you play poorly, you can turn that two-run game victory into a one-run game victory and make it look like you REALLY know how to win the close ones.