The Week That Was in Baseball: May 25-31, 2009
A Vote For Sonia Beyond the Big Unit, Who's the Next 300-Game Winner?
The Cubs: Getting Their Anger Quenched on Gatorade
Pettitte (W), Rivera (SV)

We'd Vote For Sonia
Any person that has experience pounding common sense into baseball’s powers-that-be gets our vote for the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor, who as a judge in early 1995 ordered owners and players to end baseball’s crippling work stoppage—one that eliminated one third of the 1994 season, the entire 1994 postseason, and ultimately reduced the 1995 season from 162 games to 144—was nominated by President Obama to replace David Souter on the nation’s highest court. Sotomayor, who was born two blocks from old Yankee Stadium, is said to be a huge baseball fan.

Maybe Free Refills Weren't Being Allowed
Any publicity is good publicity, so the folks at Gatorade will likely be happy—and, if its agency has any sense of humor, will try to take advantage of—the abuse its drink dispenser took on two different occasions this past week in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout at Wrigley Field. On Monday, Ryan Dempster took out his frustrations on the Gatorade machine when he returned to the dugout after a particularly ugly inning in the Cubs’ 10-8 loss to the Pirates, offering a few choice punches that undid the top of the dispenser. But the real damage came two days later when Carlos Zambrano took a bat to the apparatus to cap off his high-profile meltdown (resulting in a six-game suspension) after his attempt to tag out the Pirates’ Nyler Morgan at home following a wild pitch was ruled safe. The Cubs, fearful that the Gatorade dispenser will become the instant target of any future tirade from one of their own, has had the machine removed from the dugout.

Flawless Fielding
As of the end of this past weekend, the New York Yankees have not committed an error in 17 games—tying the major league record set by the Red Sox in 2006.

League vs. League
The results of the season’s first taste of interleague play over the Memorial Day weekend came off as a broken record, in sync with the recent past. The American League won 23 of 42 games over National League opponents, not exactly a mandate but certainly proof that the Junior Circuit once again is taking the reins of ownership in the battle over which league is best. The extended interleague season will commence on June 12 and last through June 28. The AL has outpaced the NL in interleague play every year since 2003.

Mondo Combo
Andy Pettitte took the win, Mariano Rivera the save this past Friday when the Yankees prevailed at Cleveland, 3-1. It was the 58th time that Rivera has closed out for Pettitte, breaking the all-time record previously held by Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley, saving for Bob Welch from 1988-94.

Who Forgot to Switch on the Marquee?
Hey, all of you kids in Kansas City, wake up. Zack Greinke’s announced as your starter this last Tuesday for a home game against Detroit and only 16,000 show up to renovated Kauffman Stadium? For those who bothered, Greinke rewarded them—firing his fifth complete game of the year in a 6-1 Royal victory. As of that day, only six other pitchers had as many as two complete games.

With Greinke’s latest gem, he became just the third pitcher in modern baseball history to have an ERA of less than 1.00 (he was at 0.84) after his first ten starts of the year. Hoyt Wilhelm was at 0.83 in 1959 after his first ten games, and Juan Marichal was at 0.89 in 1966.

More Bad News at the Gate
Last week, we remarked on the number of record-low turnouts at major league ballparks so far this spring. The Baltimore Orioles eclipsed their earlier nadir this past Tuesday, drawing 10,130 fans to Camden Yards for a 7-2 win over Toronto.

The Sonnanstine Killer
Tampa Bay starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine is hoping, praying that the Cleveland Indians don’t trade Ben Francisco this season. The Rays have no more games scheduled against the Indians this year, and that’s just fine with Sonnanstine, who’s done with Francisco—owner of eight hits, including five homers—in just nine career at-bats against him.

Tommorow's All-Stars, Today?
This past week saw much-anticipated season debuts for two highly prized major league prospects—with mixed results. In Baltimore, catcher Matt Wieters got his first official big league experience under his belt, going hitless in his first game on Friday against Detroit before breaking out with a double and triple the next day. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay pitcher David Price, held back in the minors despite some impressive late-season output with the Rays last year, finally got the call at the top with a shaky start (two runs on four hits and five walks in three-plus innings) on Monday against the Indians, regrouping for a more effective outing on Saturday with 5.2 innings and 11 strikeouts against the Twins for his first major league win.

Still Seeing Red in Cincy—And Still Loving It
If it’s the Houston Astros in Cincinnati, it’s Lance Berkman getting hot. In a three-game series at Great American Ballpark this past week, Berkman again became a thorn in the Reds’ side, improving his career totals at Cincinnati to a .362 average with 30 home runs, 84 RBIs, 70 runs scored and 50 walks in just 69 games. Calculate that out over a full-season equivalent of 162 games, and you have a guy slamming 70 homers with 197 RBIs. The Astros would love to see some of that output from Berkman at home, where he’s hitting just .167 so far in 2009.

He Said What?
The Cubs’ Milton Bradley on teammate Carlos Zambrano’s tirade after home plate umpire ruled Zambrano missed a tag at home plate on Pittsburgh’s Nyler Morgan this past Wednesday at Chicago: “That was pretty impressive. It was on a Bradley level.”

And What Did He Say?
“I’m tired of watching him.” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo on pitcher Daniel Cabrera, designated for assignment after an awful start that has been emblematic of his frustrated career.

Zero Tolerance: It May Happen
TGG’s Eric Gouldsberry writes in our Opinion section about how MLB can forge a zero tolerance policy on steroids in baseball—and possibly weaken or even break the player’s union at the same time. Read it here and give us your thoughts.

Who, If Anyone, is Next For 300 Wins?
When Greg Maddux won his 300th game in 2004, headlines blared that he'd be the last to reach that milestone. But when Tom Glavine also did it three years later, the same headlines reappeared. Now Randy Johnson enters the week sitting on 299, and there’s more of the same news being made that the Big Unit, now pitching for San Francisco, will be the last of the 300-game winners. This time, definitely.

Is there another rush to judgment in progress? The common argument against any future pitcher reaching 300 wins is that his chances are relatively limited due to pitch counts and five-man rotations. Only the latter point carries some weight—pitchers today start an average of two-to-three games less then their brethren of 20 or 30 years ago—so while it makes the road to 300 a little bit more windy, it doesn’t leave it as an impossibility; if you’re that good, with health and a little luck, 300 wins isn’t completely out of reach.

We don’t see a 300-game winner emerging on the horizon, at least for the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen again. Tim Hudson looked to be the best hope for the current veteran crop, but his extended time on the shelf has all but eliminated his shot. Roy Halladay has 139 wins at age 32, but even if he wins 20 a year every season until he turns 40, he’ll still end up shy of 300. CC Sabathia, with 121 wins at age 28, has the best shot at it so long as he remains healthy and sharp; he only needs to average 15 wins a year through age 40 to make it. So check back with us in 2021 for an update on the topic.

Anything—Anything—For Instant Cash
Jose Canseco’s ultimate fighting career lasted about 77 seconds—though it might go longer if the money for future ring activity is good—after getting pummeled by Hong Man Choi, a 7’2”, 330-pound Korean kickboxer. Just to get their aggressions out, we fully expect that Bud Selig, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Magglio Ordonez and other folks Canseco has barked about over the years will want to get a DVD copy of his latest stunt and watch it over, and over and over again.

Just Short, Once Again
Ryan Zimmerman’s quest to conquer the rights to another long streak—this one for most consecutive games reaching base safely, either via a hit, walk or getting hit by a pitch—came to an end thanks to the New York Mets and, of all people, pitcher Livan Hernandez, who kept the Washington third baseman completely off base in the Mets’ 6-1 win over the Nationals this past Tuesday. As with his 30-game hitting streak of a few weeks back, Zimmerman’s 43-game run of reaching base ended just shy of the franchise record; Rusty Staub owns the mark at 46 games from 1969-70. Meanwhile, the cryogenically frozen ghost of Ted Williams hardly broke a sweat as Zimmerman came well short of the Splendid Splinter’s all-time mark of 84 straight games reaching base.

Pitchers Gone Wild
When Boston back-up catcher George Kottras doesn’t have knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound to catch, it’s usually considered something of a night off for him. So imagine his surprise this past Wednesday when he had to run every which way behind home plate chasing down a modern major league record-tying six wild pitches thrown by Red Sox pitchers—none of them named Wakefield. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the main culprit, going wild on four of the errant tosses in the Red Sox’ 4-2 loss at Minnesota. Five other teams have thrown wild six times in a major league game since 1900, the latest occurrence by the California Angels in 1991.

A Long Overdue Solo Act
In that Red Sox loss to the Twins, Jason Bay hit a solo home run, which broke a string of 11 straight blasts, one short of a major league record, hit with at least one runner on base.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
A familiar face to this installment, Ichiro Suzuki, shows himself and ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 24 games. Suzuki, in fact, is just one game shy of the all-time Seattle record set by—surprise!—Suzuki, in 2007. Japan’s ultimate hitting machine is hitting .406 during the streak, but has scored only ten runs—a side effect of the offensively absent-minded Mariners, who finally on Sunday scored more than six runs in a game since Suzuki’s streak began (and still lost).

This Week's Challenger to Ted Williams
Ryan Zimmerman’s 30-game hit streak may have ended a few weeks ago, but the 24-year old Washington third baseman continues active on an even longer, extensive run: Most consecutive games reaching base. Zimmerman has made it safely to base via a hit or walk in 42 straight games. For the many who’re asking this next question, here’s your answer: Ted Williams owns the all-time record at 84 straight games.

Wounded of the Week
Stress seems to be the buzzword of the week at the MLB Home for the Disabled. Khalil Greene, in his first year at St. Louis after a terrible 2008 campaign for San Diego—which ended early when he broke his hand in anger over his 100th strikeout—has now been given 15 days of rest to deal with what was officially termed as a social anxiety disorder. Meanwhile in Cincinnati, the Reds were less forthcoming on the details surrounding the DL listing of second-year first baseman Joey Votto, only to say he was dealing with stress related to recent ear infection issues that have been plaguing him.

Also being seated on the Ouch Couch this week is Tampa Bay second baseman Akinori Iwamura, out for the season after having his ACL torn trying to turn a double play; his sidekick on defense, shortstop Jason Bartlett, for 15 days with a sprained right ankle; AL all-stars Grady Sizemore (elbow) and Carlos Quentin (foot), each for 15 days; the Mets’ Ryan Church (hammy) and Jose Reyes (calf), the latter of whom has been painfully trying to avoid the DL for weeks; and Philadelphia starting pitcher Brett Myers, out with the popular torn labrum injury for at least three months.

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