Oh, Now You Tell Us
Moises Alou, who in the 2003 NLCS was waiting to catch the high pop foul ball that was instead snagged by the infamous Steve Bartman at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, now says that he never had a chance to catch the ball even if Bartman hadn’t interfered. You gotta wonder what Bartman, still likely on the witness protection program in Chicago, is thinking. Something like: “Gee, Moises, you had to wait over four years to tell me what I already knew?! Thanks, brother.” Our question is: If you’re right now, Moises, why did you pound your glove to the ground in anger after not making the catch and, after the game, make the statement that you were “100 per cent” certain you would have caught it had it not been for Bartman?
The Chicago Cubs unveiled a statue of Ernie Banks on Opening Day at Wrigley Field this past week, and it was immediately noticed that Banks’ famous “Let’s Play Two” motto chiseled into the statue’s base did not include the apostrophe, leading writers and editors across the country to roll their eyes in amazement. This isn’t the first time a famed baseball statue has erred; at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a sculpture of Babe Ruth has him holding a left-handed glove, suggesting he threw and hit right-handedwhen most of us knew he was a lefty.
No one has been more of an activist against the majors’ new base coaching rules than Los Angeles Dodger third base coach Larry Bowa. Earlier in Spring Training, Bowa publicly vowed to not wear a batting helmet in defiance of a new rule requiring its use, and on Tuesday against San Francisco, he was ejected by third base umpire Ed Montague for refusing to stay within the perimeter of the coaches’ boxanother new law. Upon getting the thumb, Bowa went ballistic and charged Montague. It didn’t take long for baseball to punish Bowa, leveling a fine and three-game suspension. That didn’t quiet Bowa, who complained that MLB’s discipline officeand particularly its head man, former major leaguer Bob Watsonwas out to get him. “You’ve got guys who tested positive for steroids and admitted they took themno suspensions,” Bowa said, “They’re still playing.”
Who's Your Weatherman?
The Giants and Dodgers scratched their respective starters, Tim Lincecum and Chad Billingsley, moments before Wednesday’s game at Dodger Stadium because they feared that a heavy band of rain aimed directly at the Los Angeles area would likely force a rain delay or postponement. But after three innings in relatively dry conditions, both Lincecum and Billingsley were rushed through bullpen warm-ups and brought into the game…and then it started to rain. After a 90-minute delay, Lincecum returned to the moundBillingsley did notand pitched three more innings to earn the win as the Giants hung on for a 2-1 victory.
The Yankee Killer
Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays has hit safely in 23 consecutive games against the New York Yankees, the longest by any major leaguer against the Yankees since Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer ran up a 31-game streak from 1935-36 for the Detroit Tigers. During his streak, Rios is hitting .384.
The Kings of 1-0
There is another current streak that is more preferable to the Yankees: By beating Toronto at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, they have now won 11 straight Opening Day games, a major league record.
Who's Chris Carpenter?
Over their first six games of the 2008 regular season, starting pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals have a combined ERA of 0.96. This mirrors an impressive start Cardinal starters had at the beginning of 2007 after Chris Carpenter went down with a season-ending injury, all before reality set in and the rotation began to misfire.
Now Playing: This Great Game Predicts 2008
TGG sages Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio reveal their annual picks for the upcoming major league season. Always fun to do and entertaining to read, check out the fearless forecast here.
Dollars and Nonsense
The Florida Marlins, under the notoriously cheap leadership of Jeffrey Loria, could have their entire roster traded for Alex Rodriguezand their payroll would still increase. In a survey of Opening Day baseball salaries by the Associated Press, Rodriguez’s $28 million in wages for 2008 is higher than the combined total of the Marlins ($21.8 million). Also higher-priced than the Marlins is another Yankee, Jason Giambi ($23 million). Florida’s relatively miniscule payroll is half that of Tampa Bay, the next lowest while, once again, the Yankees are far and away the most expensive team ($209 million) on the field. Detroit jumped to second with $138 million. Overall, the average major leaguer is making over $3 million for the first time everand more than half are making at least $1 million.
Red Hawk Down
Boston Red Sox fans share no love for Alex Rodriguez, and apparently neither do the birds that make their home at Fenway Park. During a ballpark tour on Thursday, a 13-year old girl was attacked by a red-tailed hawk which was apparently later told that the victim was not Alex Rodriguez, but Alexa Rodriguez. This Omen II-like moment did not seriously harm the poor girl, who survived shaken with a few cuts to her scalp. The hawk was removed by state wildlife officials.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
The New York Mets’ David Wright, who finished the 2007 season having hit safely in 17 straight games, collected hits in his first three games this year before going hitless at Atlanta on Saturday, ending his streak at 20 games.
This Week's Challenger to Jeff Novitsky
Currently unemployed by the majors, Barry Bonds was likely less zoned in on Opening Day action as he was the perjury trial of Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas, who, like Bonds, was accused of lying before prosecutors during her grand jury testimony in the BALCO hearings four years ago. If Bonds was keeping tabs on the Thomas trial to see what his future may bring, it ended up looking very, very ominous. The prosecuting team did its job well, IRS agent/steroids-buster Jeff Novitsky was robotically faultless under cross examination, and when Thomas was given a guilty verdict, she explodedloudly taking out her frustration on both jurors and prosecutors. Track coach Trevor Graham, also accused of perjury related to BALCO, is next on the block in Maythen it’s Bonds’ turn.
Does Any Part of My Name Rhyme With Boo?
Aubrey Huff of the Baltimore Orioles is feeling the downside of unregulated speech on Internet radio. Last November, the 31-year old infielder went on Sirius’ Bubba the Love Sponge program and called Baltimore a "horses#%t" town." He eventually came around to apologize to the people of the city he now plays for, but Oriole fans remain hardened in their reaction. During the Oriole home opener Monday against Tampa Bay, Huff was loudly booed whenever he became the center of attention on the field.
Wounded of the Week
Given the fragility of major league players over the past few years, the opening week of the 2008 season was predictably tough on numerous ballplayers, with many headed to the disabled list. Among those placed on the shelf were two top-line closers (Seattle’s J.J. Putz and Washington’s Chad Cordero), and Pedro Martinezwho after missing almost all of 2007 suffered a hamstring injury in his first start on Tuesday against Florida; he’s out until May. Then there’s Mike Hampton. The 35-year old veteran pitcher, who might as well call the disabled list homehe’s been on it for nearly three years straightwas minutes away from making his first regular season appearance since 2005 for the Atlanta Braves when he felt discomfort just below his left shoulder. Turns out he strained a pectoral muscle and will be out 15 more days. Finally, the bizarre casualty of the week occurred at Yankee Stadium when Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro, coming off the field at the end of the second inning on Friday, slipped going down the dugout stepsand badly sliced two of his fingers from a nearby protective netting he was trying to use to catch his own fall with. Navarro, who’s on the DL for 15 days as a result, said the cuts were so grisly that he nearly threw up.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.