May 29, 2005
Enough already about the lack of hitting and the poor on-base percentage of the Angels. And with the reigning league MVP on the disabled list, the local newspapers have turned to writing glowing articles about Scot Shields, even if Angel fans have been well aware of Shields's stellar work for the past 3 seasons. I guess that's what happens when you pitch in Anaheim.
Which is why it's high time to salute the real backbone of the current Los Angeles Red team, the starting pitchers.
The First Link
Alfonso "Chico" Carrasquel Colon, who died of a heart attack on Thursday at the age of 77, was not only the first Latin American ballplayer to start in a major league all-star game, he was the first in a string of slick-fielding shortstops who emerged from his home country of Venezuela.
From Carrasquel to Luis Aparicio to Davey Concepcion to Ozzie Guillen to Omar Vizquel to Cesar Izturis, this remarkable collection of men has accumulated 25 Gold Gloves at the shortstop position, and Izturis figures to add to that total after garnering his first Gold Glove in 2004 at the age of 24.
Considered a national treasure in his native land, Carrasquel's passing was to be observed by two days of mourning in Venezuela. And when the games resume thereafter, the next great defensive shortstop, now maybe all of 14 or 15 years of age, will continue to hone his skills in the hope of adding his link to the chain started by Chico Carrasquel over 50 years ago.
May 27, 2005
One of the best (and worst) things about Dodger Stadium is the fans. Aside from the video tape evidence of the tail lights of the car leaving when Kirk Gibson hit his famous moonshot in 1988, I have to say most Dodger fans really are passionate and into the game.
The traditions and chants throughout the game are great, though I could deal with less 'waves' being started from the bleachers.
But this year, it seems the coolest chant is when Mr. Korea -- Hee Seop Choi -- comes to bat and his name caroms through Chavez Ravine. And what most fans don't know is that Hee Seop has another diehard rooting section: the saber-heads.
The book Moneyball made them famous, in the form of Bill Beane. But fantasy baseball players and just stat-centric baseball fans really do care about data like on base percentage and slugging percentage. Well, Hee Seop is a giant-killer from that perspective....
And now he even has a website/blog devoted to him.
May 26, 2005
This is the point during a baseball season when we’re beginning to see which teams are going to survive and those that are preparing to throw in the towel. When people stop saying, “they’ll fold” to “they could win their division”.
Prime examples are the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East and the San Diego Padres in the National League West. Although the Orioles just got a dose of bad news regarding their All-Star catcher, Javy Lopez, I believe they have the pitching, offense and bench depth to hold off the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The same can be said for the Padres who have one of the best young pitching staffs in baseball, a potent offense, solid bullpen and a steady hand at the helm in manager, Bruce Bochy.
I do believe that both of these teams will win their division, however, it’s not going to be easy and both races will go down to the wire. The Orioles will have to hold off the Red Sox and the Yankees not to mention the surprising Toronto Blue Jays, while the Padres will have to hold off the Arizona Diamondbacks and perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers.
United L.A. (of Anaheim)
It's still way too early to panic. Come on! Who are the Dodgers chasing, anyway? The D-backs? Last year, didn't D-backs mean "dead on their-backs"? The Padres? Okay, maybe it's wise to worry about the Padres. As for the Angels, well, a little hitting would help.
If only we could put these two teams together, petition MLB to make up one United L.A. team. Of course, the players union wouldn't like it, but do we really care what they think? This would be one way to give the Dodgers some healthy starting pitching while providing the Angels with something that resembles an offense. If NetFlix and Wal-Mart can work together, this merger couldn't be impossible.
May 24, 2005
Battle for Southern California
After the Dodgers salvaged a win in the last game of the Freeway Series against the Angels -- nevermind where their from -- it's kind of interesting to look at where the three SoCal teams (the aformentioned two plus the San Diego Padres) sit in the standings.
The long and the short of it, is they are all doing very well -- and because of the wildcard system, we could see all three in the playoffs if they keep winning. Despite the Dodgers' recent slide, all three have winning records.
The Angels are in first-place in the American League West by 1.5 games -- and the way Oakland looks leaves the Halos with a real good shot of seeing post-season action.
The two NL West teams -- the Padres and Dodgers -- are a little less comfortable. The reason? Arizona. The revamped Diamondbacks have one of the best records in baseball and look like a real challenger for the full season. Still, both San Diego and Los Angeles have shown flashes of brilliance and if they can sustain that, watch out D-backs!
May 23, 2005
The answer is... Jake Woods, Matt Wise, Francisco Cordero, Vinnie Chulk and Lance Carter. The question was, "On Sunday, which five relief pitchers threw as many or more pitches out of the strike zone as did Derek Lowe in his 79-pitch, 65-strikes stroll through the Angels' lineup?" That's right, Lowe threw only 14 pitches out of the strike zone in 7 innings of work. The Angels, not known for taking pitches, did not receive a single walk all day, not that one was being offered, as the three Dodger pitchers threw only 20 balls out of 104 total pitches.
May 22, 2005
I'll Beat You With 2 Hands Behind My Back
The Battle of Chavez Ravine continues later today, and the Angels will be minus Vlad Guerrero and might as well give Garret Anderson another day off since he's never hit Derek Lowe in the past. Let's see if the team from Anaheim with the P.O. box in L.A. uses this lineup on Sunday... (with their career marks versus Lowe)
May 19, 2005
It's not like I think that Barry Bonds is skipping out on this season intentionally -- or that he's hooked up to an IV as a scam to get out of playing...
But the cynic in me can't help but think about the antagonism and antipathy he'd be experiencing this year if he were to play.
May 17, 2005
Roger Rocks On!
Wherever the Fountain of Youth is that Roger Clemens drank from, can I please get a glass, no, make that a gallon, of that water? Can you believe this guy? He RETIRED at the end of '03 only to be talked out of retirement by his good friend, and fellow Houston Astro pitcher, Andy Petitte. Pitching for the resurgent Astros, he won his unprecedented 7th Cy Young Award with 18 wins, a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts and almost pitched the 'Stros into the World Series. Delaying retirement yet again, with a record $18,000,000 one year contract, Clemens is back on the mound for Astros this season and it looks like he's determined to win his 8th Cy Young. Consider this line from his recent outing against the Giants; 8IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 10SO, he also LOWERED his LEAGUE LEADING ERA to 1.11 and won his 331st game!!!! 331 VICTORIES, Clemens is the only human walking this earth with that many wins, recently passing Steve Carlton with his 330th. Ya gotta be freaking kidding me! Is this guy for real? No 42 year old is supposed to be doing what he's doing, heck, no 32 year old IS doing it. There are some that say (Jose Canseco) that Roger is on the Juice, I don't buy it. Clemens' workouts are legendary and he's a genetic freak of nature that comes along once or twice a century. I don't care that the guy is making more money this season then some small countries entire GDP. I don't care that the Astros are awful and have no chance in the NL Central. I don't care that rumors of steroid use swirl around him. I don't care that the big jerk plunked Mike Piazza's dome with a 97mph fastball and then followed that up by hurling broken bat in his direction. I will be watching each game Clemens starts this season because I know that I'm watching one of the best pitchers of my the game has EVER seen and opportunities like this will probably happen once in my lifetime.
Today's not a bad day to head to the ballpark.
Not only will it cost you just $2 for a ticket to the upper desk, but one of this year's most dominant pitchers, Dontrelle Willis, takes the mound against the Dodgers tonight at Chavez Ravine.
This year his E.R.A. is an unbelievable 1.08 and his record is 7-0. He goes for his eighth win tonight.
Willis is one of the best stories out there. Besides this ESPN Insider story detailing this year's performance, Willis is just one of three African-American starting pitchers in the big leagues.
In a story in the archives of the Miami Herald, journalist Clark Spencer talks about how in little leagues, Willis was the only pitcher who didn't have training specialists and on-call doctors the wealthier kids could afford.
One caveat: Willis has been dominant in the early part of the past few seasons but seems to always run out of gas as he hits the early summer. May 17 may be a little too early for his struggles, but it is something to keep an eye on if you do head up to the stadium for the 7:10 p.m. start.
May 16, 2005
The Man Who Is L.A. Baseball
Dodger fans would be forgiven if they said, "What took so long for you to notice?" Vin Scully received another honor of sorts on Friday with the news that he had been named as the best announcer in the history of baseball in a new book by Curt Smith entitled Voices of Summer. At 77, Scully is still in love with the game, and for that we should be thankful, because without him, the Dodger announcers seem like, well, a bunch of old men.
You know you're in trouble when Charley Steiner is the baby of the rest of the crew at age 55. With the pairing of Steiner and Rick Monday, the game takes on a monotone than is surpassed only by the blather that one must endure when Monday teams up with Al Downing. After an inning's worth of these fellows, I find myself waiting with great anticipation for the next Scully-voiced Farmer John ad.
Braves Keep Rolling Along
Let me begin by making perfectly clear, I am an Atlanta Braves fan. So it goes without saying that I really enjoyed this past weekend where the Brave took two out of three from the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. In fact, I was at Sunday's game with wife and 9 month old daughter, Kaleigh, who attended her first, of what will be many, major league baseball games. She wore her Dodger outfit only because my wife thought it was cute and I haven't been shopping at the Braves on-line store yet.
I've heard it all before, how can I be a Braves fan and root for a team with all those division titles and yet only one World Series title? I root for the Braves because I've been a fan since 1977, I've been thru some pretty lousy seasons and the alternative is to root for the Cubs (my wife is from Chicago) . But you know what, I'm willing to bet that 99% of the major league teams would sacrifice just about anything to equal the Braves' success, the exception being the Yankees.