The Week That Was in Baseball: April 21-27, 2008
The Cubs, 10,000 Wins High at 5,000 Feet Making Nice With Rockie Fans
John Smoltz, 3,000 Strikeouts High Should 9-12 Get You Fired as a General Manager?


Ten Thousand and Counting
A night after This Great Game’s presence was felt at Coors Field, the Chicago Cubs came in and tipped the Rockies in ten innings, 8-7, for the franchise’s 10,000th career victory (and our selection as Game of the Week, above). Only the New York-San Francisco Giants, at 10,195, have more. Next on the list to surpass 10,000: The Los Angeles Dodgers, who’ll likely get there sometime in mid-2009.

Fit to be Tied
Ironically, the Colorado Rockies began the day in which the Cubs would win game number 10,000 with 1,124 franchise wins—exactly the same amount as the Florida Marlins, who began play along with Colorado in 1993.

Bowling for 3,000
On Tuesday against Washington, Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz became the 16th player in major league history to reach 3,000 career strikeouts. Four other pitchers above 3,000—Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez—are as yet not retired and still adding to their totals. In fact, only one 3,000-plus pitcher—Walter Johnson—played before 1959. Next on the active list is 39-year old Mike Mussina, who has 2,673.

It's All For a Good Cause
It seems somewhat amazing that a David Ortiz jersey buried in concrete at the new Yankee Stadium would fetch a full 50% auction value as the (likely) last ball hit over the fence by current-day home run king Barry Bonds. The Ortiz jersey sold for $175,000 this past week, but it should be explained that the money paid for it was going to charity—in this case, the Jimmy Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to cancer treatment—as opposed to someone’s pocket for profit, as the Bonds ball was.

Eat Your Heart Out, Joan Rivers
In Los Angeles, a city where plastic surgery is rule over exception, it only seems fitting that 46-year old Dodger Stadium is slated to receive a facelift. The existing ballpark structure will remain virtually untouched, but it will be surrounded by what’s new: A series of shops, restaurants, parking structures and a Dodger museum that will aim to bring in the less hardcore fan. This may not be the most ideal development for the purists among us, but it’s a far better alternative to the rumor that had circulated for the last ten years that Dodger Stadium—which will become the third oldest ballpark in the majors in 2009—was to be abandoned in favor of a new facility.

Overwork or Overprotection?
A Sunday online column by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan on major league pitch counts revealed a telling stat over how managers have become sensitive—perhaps overly so—in determining how long a starting pitcher will be allowed to last: In 1998, there were 212 instances of a starter throwing at least 125 pitches in a game. In 2007, there were only 14 such instances.

Wounded of the Week
It was a relatively safe week to be a major leaguer, with few players going on the disabled list. The few big names on this week's roster include the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra (again), Cleveland pitcher Jake Westbrook (again), Baltimore starting pitcher Adam Loewen and young San Francisco starting pitcher Kevin Correia.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Texas' Michael Young and Colorado's Garrett Atkins, both of whom had absolutely solid weeks at the plate, each finished this past week having hit safely in 12 straight games—the longest current streak in the majors.


My Night at Coors Field
Six months after stopping through Denver between flights and earning the wrath of locals for earlier stating the Colorado Rockies would never win a World Series, I returned to the Mile High City for an actual visit—and my first ever journey into Coors Field. 

The natives were less restless at my presence, in part because I left my This Great Game cap in my suitcase. Actually, Rockie fans at the ballpark and the surrounding, gentrified district known as LODO (hip-speak for Lower Downtown) were very friendly, regardless of their alcohol levels. All of this, even as the Rockies blew their third straight late-inning lead and lost to Philadelphia, 8-6. The ballpark sound system may have been blaring “We’re Not Going to Take It” before the Rockies’ last chance before the bottom of the ninth (an odd choice for a rally anthem), but the fans seemed more relatively philosophical about the Coors Field state of mind—that no lead is safe, runs happen early, late and often, and if the losses mount, there’s always hundreds of restaurants, pubs and breweries to repair to afterward to keep the night from being a total loss. (It certainly wasn’t a total loss for the male fans, who witnessed a well-endowed woman down to her bra and pants running out onto the field late in the game.) 

If you’re a baseball fan and planning a stop in Denver, I highly recommend a stay at a hotel that’s walking distance from Coors Field as well as the surrounding pre-game and post-game scene. The whole experience won’t change my mind about the Rockies—they’ll still never win a World Series—but at least Rockie fans will always have LODO. —Eric

In our annual picks for the major league season, we felt pretty good about Cincinnati’s chances. So apparently did Red owner Bob Castellini, who was not happy with his team’s 9-12 start and, this past week, fired general manager Wayne Krivsky. Castellini has earned a reputation for forging a high turnover since taking over as Lord of the Reds two years ago; under his short reign, there have been three managers and three general managers. Granted, there’s going to be some impatience for an organization that hasn’t had a winning season in seven years, but you got to wonder what led to a GM’s firing after a 9-12 start for a team not exactly to be confused for the New York Yankees. Some believe that since former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty was hired as a special assistant to Castellini during the offseason, Kriviky couldn’t help but look over his shoulder. Sure enough, Jocketty was named as Krivsky’s replacement.

All for Naught
This was not supposed to be in the script for Seattle outfielder Mike Morse, who hit .492 with a major-league high 32 hits in spring training for the Mariners. The 26-year old veteran part-timer, who made the Seattle roster in part because of his terrific camp showing, dislocated his left shoulder attempting a diving catch—leading to surgery that will end his 2008 season.

Is There an Open Roster Spot on the Bad News Bears?
Dan Johnson, the closest thing to an everyday first baseman for Oakland last year, was released on April 17 after logging just a single hitless at-bat. Tampa Bay immediately picked him up and, a week later without even one game appearance, let him go as well.

He Said What?
Commissioner Bud Selig, reverting to classic Seligspeak as he responded to an Associated Press question about the recently re-worked steroid drug policy that won’t punish past offenders: “I don’t think there is amnesty because I think that whatever they’re doing, they’re doing something as a result of what they did.”

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