The Week That Was in Baseball: March 3-9, 2008
Will Barry Bonds Kick Cooperstown in the Asterisk? As Low as Noah Lowry Can Get
Will Daddy Daisuke Return to Japan? Early Warning Signs From Spring Training

Asterisky Business
The Hall of Fame announced this week that if they ever receive the ball Barry Bonds hit to break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record last summer, they would display it for the masses—asterisk and all. As you’ll recall (or as you read in our 2007 Yearly Reader update), the ball was ultimately purchased by fashion designer Marc Ecko, who gave the general public three options in deciding its fate. Roughly half of those that responded online wanted the ball sent to Cooperstown—with a big, black asterisk branded upon it. (The two options that lost were to send it to Cooperstown without the asterisk—or to shoot it off into outer space.) Officials at the Hall of Fame insist they would show the ball from an “impartial” point of view, to let visitors judge the presence of the asterisk for themselves. Bonds stated last year that he would boycott the Hall if the ball was displayed with the asterisk.

Japan Can Wait
When the schedule makers set up the first regular season game of the year between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s in Japan, they were no doubt envisioning the prospect of former Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka taking the mound for the Red Sox. That may be in doubt now, not because of injury—but because Matsuzaka’s wife is pregnant with their second child, and her due date is March 19—one week before the Red Sox-A’s opener. It obviously wouldn’t be wise for a very pregnant Tomoyo Matsuzaka to take a 15-hour flight from the East Coast to the Far East, so she’ll stay behind in the States—and so might Dad. Here’s hoping Daisuke has his priorities straight.

Lousy Lowry Days
Noah Lowry of the San Francisco Giants pitched bad enough to tie a National League record on Monday—except that spring training statistics don’t get counted in the record book. Lowry walked nine batters, threw two wild pitches and tossed one errantly past first base attempting to pick off a runner in the one-plus innings he pitched against Texas. Seven of his nine walks came in the first inning, which would have tied a NL record. (The all-time mark took place in the AL 99 years ago when Washington’s Bill Gray walked eight in one inning.) It was later determined that Lowry’s struggles were the result of tendonitis, which will require surgery and force the 14-game winner of a year ago to miss the first month of the regular season.

To All the Rockie Fans Who Hate Us
In June 2005, This Great Game submitted is first opinion piece when Eric Gouldsberry decreed that the Colorado Rockies would never win a World Series. Now read what happened when Gouldsberry walked through his valley of the shadow of death—otherwise known as Denver—last October, when the Rockies were on the rampage to the Fall Classic.

Wounded of the Week
Is it us, or does it seem like when we look back on history you never hear of major leaguers suffering so many injuries during spring training? The preseason epidemic continued this past week, with the following players making the medical hit list: Boston pitcher Josh Beckett (back; day-to-day), Los Angeles third baseman Andy LaRoche (thumb; out two months), San Diego outfielder Jim Edmonds (calf; out three weeks) New York Met outfielder Moises Alou (hernia, out up to six weeks), the aforementioned Noah Lowry and—oh, what a surprise this is—Atlanta pitcher Mike Hampton, removed from last Friday’s outing with a groin problem.

In honor of the Chicago Cubs' 100th anniversary of their last World Series title, This Great Game is counting down the 40 years between 1909 and 2007 in which the Cubs came nearest to winning another. Our Tragical History Tour of Wrigleyville continues this week with:

34. 1913 88 Wins, 65 Losses
Third Place, 13.5 Games Back
The Cubs continued their downward slide following their heyday of the late 1900s that gave them their last World Series triumph; only a strong finish would make their final record look good after playing .500 ball for much of the year. Part of that slide was the creation of controversial owner Charles Murphy, who released player-manager Frank Chance before the season and, after naming Johnny Evers as Chance’s replacement, had to trade shortstop Joe Tinker because he refused to play under Evers. (The Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance combination may have been historically poetic, but the ill relationship between Tinker and Evers made it far from harmonious.) Vic Saier, Chance’s replacement at first base, clubbed 14 homers and 21 triples after notching just three homers playing full-time over the previous two seasons; Larry Cheney won 21 games for an inexperienced yet effective rotation.


Fortunately, They're Just Fake At-Bats
In the Seattle Mariners’ first 11 games of spring training, Ichiro Suzuki went a collective 0-for-17 at the plate.

Unfortunately, They're Just Fake Wins
Who has the best spring training record at the end of this past weekend? Your Tampa Bay Rays (7-2), who apparently are taking exhibition games more seriously than others. New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi is the latest to complain about the Rays’ over-aggressiveness on the field after Tampa Bay’s Elliot Johnson bowled over and broke the right wrist of Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli in a collision at home plate on Saturday. “I don’t understand it,” said Girardi of the collision, “During the season, I’m all for it. In spring training, I don’t believe in it.”

The Yearly Reader: 2007
Check out This Great Game’s 2007 update to the Yearly Reader section. Entitled “Bow if You Will, Spit if You Wish,” the 2007 page takes a detailed look at Barry Bonds’ overtaking of Hank Aaron’s home run record and the controversial path he took to get there. Also dissected is the sudden late-season rise of the Colorado Rockies, and how they may have finally conquered the mile-high atmosphere of Coors Field. Along with the 2007 page is our news-and-notes “It Happened In...” pop-up, our “Leaders & Numbers” review of the most productive players during the season, and a pop-up of the final 2007 standings. Enjoy these latest additions, and please read responsibly.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.