The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: June 4-10, 2012
Odds and Nods From the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft High Desert Drama in Arizona
How Many Mariners Does it Take to Throw a No-Hitter? Pedro Borbon, R.I.P.

Become a fan of This Great Game on Facebook. We’re embracing this opportunity to invite TGG followers and those of baseball in general to share their insights, queries and good knowledge with TGG’s powers-that-be, Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio.

Our goal with this page is to bring value to all who wish to become our fans, even correspondents to our continued mission of providing an enriched and unique perspective to our comprehensive catalog of baseball history, past, present and future.

Want to sound off on current events? Have good trivia you want to share? Roaming about the country on a ballpark tour? Need advice on that baseball book you’re trying to sell? Got something of interest we could share within the main site, such as our Weekly Comebacker? Have any praise or criticisms of TGG? We want to hear from you. It’s your soapbox, too.

Outguessing the Mayans: TGG's 2012 Baseball Picks
Our annual, fearless preview of the 2012 major league season, with TGG’s
Ed Attanasio and Eric Gouldsberry releasing their picks for who will arrive, thrive, dive and cry. Check it out and see if you agree!

How Daddy Drafted Me Into Baseball
This week’s amateur baseball draft lacked the juicy top choice that Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper recently gave us, but it once again proved that once you got into the later rounds—there were 40 of them, with a total of 1,238 players chosen—the nepotism factor will take over.

The Houston Astros made Carlos Correa, a 17-year-old shortstop from Puerto Rico, the number one pick overall; he’s only the third Latino to be selected first, and if he’s as good as the previous two—Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Gonzalez—the Astros are in good shape for the future.

The legacies soon followed. Ryan Ripken, son of Cal Ripken Jr., was taken in the 20th round; Rustin Sveum was picked in the 39th round by the Chicago Cubs—managed by his father, Dale Sveum; same thing in Milwaukee, where the Brewers picked manager Ron Roenicke’s son Lance in the 25th round, and in St. Louis, where Mike Matheny’s son Tate was selected in the 23rd round. (Not to be outdone, the Cardinals also picked the sons of Cardinal coaches Jose Oquendo and Mike Aldrete). And in Cleveland, Nick Hamilton, offspring of Indian radio voice Tim Hamilton, was taken in the 35th round.

The best name in the draft: Stryker Trahan, taken in first round by Arizona.

Patience is a Virtue
Baseball fans can get excited all they want over the amateur draft, but it serves to mention that most of these players will not become all-star material overnight. In fact, just getting to the major league level is hardly a guarantee, even for first-round picks.

We looked back at the previous three drafts and checked out the progress of all first-round selections. Of the 30 players taken in the initial round a year ago (not including supplemental picks), none have yet to make it to a major league roster. In fact, only one of those players—pitcher Trevor Bauer, taken by Arizona—is currently at the Triple-A level. Three others have only made it as far as AA, 11 are at the Class-A+ level, nine are in the lower A leagues and two are still trying to promote themselves from extended spring training, a notch below the rookie leagues. (One first-round draft pick opted for college.) None of the other 1,470 players chosen last year have made it to the majors, either.

Going back one more year to 2010, we find only three first-rounders currently in the bigs: Bryce Harper, Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale. Even after two years, only three other picks have ascended as far as Triple-A; 14 players are still slaving in the Class A leagues. From 2009, eight players picked in the first round have made the big-league grade (including Strasburg, Mike Trout and Dustin Ackley); Of the other 22, only six are as high as Triple-A.

Headed for Burnout?
With their first pick of the 2012 MLB draft, the San Diego Padres selected pitcher Max Fried.

In the Heat of the Plight
The Arizona Diamondbacks won the NL West title last year, and so expectations for 2012 were based on that out-of-nowhere performance. But now that the Diamondbacks appeared to have fallen back to Earth, struggling just to return to the .500 mark, a bit of public frustration has set in at the top. This past week, Arizona owner Ken Kendrick took out his anger on two players in particular: The underachieving Justin Upton and still-injured shortstop Stephen Drew, who’s been slow to return to action since severely injuring his right ankle almost a year ago. 

Speaking on a Phoenix sports talk station, Kendrick criticized Upton for not being the player he “has been in the past” and lambasted Drew by saying that “Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than on going out and supporting the team that’s paying his salary.” Upton, who some saw as a possible MVP candidate this season, is hitting just .249 with just five homers in 52 games after belting 31 a year ago; Drew just began active rehab at Triple-A Reno.

Upton actually agreed with Kendrick’s critique, saying that Kendrick “has every reason to be frustrated.” Drew’s agent—let us guess, Scott Boras?—was less kind in his response, finding no sense in Kendrick’s assertion that Drew is focused on the big money beyond his Arizona contract (that could expire this season if a mutual $10 million clause is not enacted for 2013) when he’s struggling so hard just to get into game shape.

A Stark View of Replay
While we continue to lobby from our little soapbox for the TGG Method of comprehensive video replay, we hear from ESPN’s Jayson Stark this past week that baseball decided to forgo a slightly expanded version of the current replay process (which would have added fair/foul and catch/trap fly balls to the eligibility list) because MLB is seeking a more expansive version of replay that’s right down our alley of thought—where officials upstairs (or, as Stark reports, in some replay “war room” back in New York) can quickly review close calls the moment after they happen. What’s delaying any replay expansion, according to Stark, is that the umpires’ union hasn’t totally signed on yet—and also because baseball is still scratching its head over what happens to the runner when an initial “dead-ball” call—say, a fair ball down the line ruled foul—is overturned.

C’mon, guys, is it really that difficult? Any such judgment should come down to two simple words: Common sense. If Carlos Beltran’s foul ball past third base had been overturned by replay and ended Johan Santana’s no-hitter the other week, it is reasonable to assume that it would have been a double, so give him the ground-rule version of the two-bagger. If a player traps a ball initially ruled a catch, give the batter what he normally would get in that situation: A single. Any runners ahead of the batter would move the same amount of bases as rewarded on overturn by the replay crew. And so on. Just do it, gang.

Pedro Brobon, 1946-2012
When you think of the great Cincinnati teams of the 1970s, Pedro Borbon is hardly the first name to come to mind. But he was a critical component to the Reds’ pitching staff at the height of the Big Red Machine’s reign, preserving and often saving leads given to him by star players Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and George Foster. From 1972-77, Borbon was a rock out of the bullpen—consistently logging some 125 innings a year, winning 52 games, losing 27, saving 70 and producing a 3.02 ERA. In the postseason, the Dominican right-hander owned a 1-1 record, three saves and a 2.42 ERA.

Outside of the numbers, Borbon was remembered for his nasty inclusion in the infamous brawl started between Rose and the Mets’ Bud Harrelson in the 1973 NLCS, sucker-punching Buzz Capra and, after discovering afterward that he was somehow wearing Capra’s cap, chewed it into three pieces; for his attempted comeback as a 48-year-old replacement player in 1995 while players and owners continued to snarl at one another over the crippling strike that started the year before; and for being part of a throwaway joke in the classic 1980 comedy Airplane!, in which emergency pilot Robert Hays discovers that the talkative thoughts in his head have an echo—and, mimicking a public address announcer, says: “Pinch-hitting for Pedro Borbon…Manny Mota-Mota-Mota…”

Borbon died of cancer this past week at the age of 65 in Pharr, Texas.

Altitude Love-Sickness at Sea Level
The Colorado Rockies continue to prove, even with the humidor in place, that there’s no place like Coors Field. The Blake Street Bombers are hitting .285 at home but just .227 on the road, and have nearly double the amount of home runs and runs scored as they have chalked up away from home, at sea level. As for the team’s pitching, its 5.14 ERA is the majors’ worst—and it only fares a little better on the road, at 4.69. (The Cleveland Indians have the majors’ worst road mark at 5.50. Why? Part of the blame falls on former Rockie Ubaldo Jimenez, who sports a 7.34 ERA away from Cleveland.)

Is Parity Here?
The Tampa Bay Rays' 34-25 record to end the week is the worst by a league leader on June 10 since 1959.

Got Melk? Okay, Got Some Runs?
Melky Cabrera, hitting a major league-leading .364 for the Giants, sat out the entire three-game series against the Rangers at San Francisco this past weekend after pulling a hamstring at San Diego on Thursday. How did the Giants do in his absence? They were shut out twice in three games, the first two times this year they've been blanked.

Wounded of the Week
There was plenty of room to spare on the Ouch Couch as players hitting the disabled list were far and few between this past week. Among the unlucky ones were Texas starting pitcher Derek Holland (shoulder fatigue brought on by flu-like symptoms), Detroit catcher Alex Avila (hamstring), yet another Philadelphia Phillie (Freddy Galvis, trying to keep second base warm until Chase Utley returns from his injury), and wild Washington closer Henry Rodriguez (finger).

We’re also happy to report that good health has returned to former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, who suffered a mild heart attack but was released from the hospital after a very short stay there. “The doctors confirmed I do bleed Dodger Blue,” the 84-year-old Lasorda said in a statement.

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

A Day-by-Day Review of the Week
Monday, June 4
Leading 2-1 in the fifth inning at San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs appear ready to escape a bases-loaded jam as the Giants’ Brandon Crawford hits a double-play grounder with one out—but shortstop Starlin Castro, after making the putout at second, does not attempt a throw to first thinking that he’s made the final out. A run scores to tie the game, and the Giants later add a go-ahead tally to defeat the Cubs, 3-2, and sweep a four-game series from last-place Chicago.

The offensively-challenged A’s erupt for eight second-inning runs off Texas starter Scott Feldman, and rookie Jarrod Parker takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Oakland goes on to romp the Rangers, 12-1. Parker has now thrown 19 straight scoreless innings.

The Colorado Rockies become the last team in the majors to win by shutout this year as they blank the Diamondbacks at Arizona, 4-0. Rookie Christian Friedrich goes seven innings for the Rockies and improves his season record to 4-1.

Tuesday, June 5
Satisfaction finally comes to Cub starter Ryan Dempster, the beneficiary of a 10-0 rout of the Brewers at Milwaukee that is his first win in has last 19 starts. Dempster tosses seven shutout innings (lowering his ERA to 2.59) while his teammates blast three home runs after giving him only 26 runs of support in his previous nine starts in 2012.

Dempster’s win officially leaves Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee as the majors’ current hard-luck guy on the mound. Lee loses a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning when he allows a two-run double to the Dodgers’ Elian Herrera, and Los Angeles holds on for a 2-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. Despite 12 strikeouts on the night and a respectable 2.92 ERA for the season, Lee drops to 0-3 in nine starts.

In an exciting back-and-forth affair, the Washington Nationals edge the New York Mets in 12 innings, 7-6, on a walk-off Bryce Harper single, after the Mets had taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning. If Harper’s the hero, Ian Desmond gets strong honorable mention; he brings in the go-ahead run three times from the eighth inning on, the first player to do that since Art Shamsky did it with three home runs for Cincinnati in 1966.

Wednesday, June 6
The Rangers, continuing their West Coast funk, are shut out for the first time all year as Oakland starter Bartolo Colon fires eight innings of five-hit ball for a 2-0 win.

Thursday, June 7
Cincinnati reliever Aroldis Chapman, brought on to preserve a 4-4 tie in the tenth inning against Pittsburgh, gives up his first earned run of the year on back-to-back doubles by Clint Barmes and Mike McKenry—both batting under .200—to give the Bucs a 5-4 win over the Reds at Great American Ballpark.  Chapman had entered the game having allowed one unearned run on just seven hits and nine walks in 29 innings.

R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball continues to baffle opponents, as he runs his string of consecutive scoreless innings thrown to 24.2 with a 3-1 win at Washington, his major league-leading ninth victory of the year. Closer Frank Francisco gives up the lone National run in the ninth inning.

Lance Lynn matches Dickey with his ninth win of the year as the St. Louis Cardinals sail at Houston, 14-2. David Freese leads the offensive charge with hits two homers (one a grand slam) and six RBIs, continuing to show that his postseason splurge of last year was no fluke; he’s currently on pace to hit 34 homers and knock in 112 runs.

Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz, off to a dreadful start with one of baseball’s worst ERAs among starting pitchers—and yet the recipient of generous run support that gave him a 5-2 record—shuts out Baltimore on four hits and a walk at Boston, 7-0. It’s the Red Sox’ first home win against the Orioles in eight tries.

Friday, June 8
Kevin Millwood throws six no-hit innings for the Mariners at Seattle against Los Angeles, but leaves before the seventh due to a groin injury; over the next three innings, five Mariner relievers will combine to finish the job and silence the Dodgers on zilch hits, 1-0. It’s the tenth no-hitter achieved by multiple pitchers and ties the record for the most pitchers involved in one, sharing the mark with six pitchers for Houston in another interleague battle in 2003 at New York against the Yankees. For the 37-year-old Millwood, it’s the second no-hitter he’s been involved in; he performed one all by himself in 2003 against San Francisco while playing for the Phillies.

A week after throwing his own no-hitter, the Mets’ Johan Santana bombs in his follow-up against the Yankees. He allows a season-high six runs on seven hits in five innings before being pulled; on the other side, Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda flirts with a no-no of his own before losing it in the sixth. He has to leave after seven innings because of a bruised toe suffered on a comebacker. The Yankees roll at the new Stadium, 9-1.

Boston fans entering Fenway Park to get a glimpse of young Washington stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper get their money’s worth. Strasburg throws six sharp innings and strikes out 13 Red Sox; Harper collects three hits, including a double and his sixth homer, as the Nationals roll to a 7-4 victory.

Saturday, June 9
In his first major league action since undergoing Tommy John surgery a year earlier, Daisuke Matsuzaka gives up four runs on five hits in five innings, all the offense the Nationals need to win their second straight game at Boston, 4-2. Gio Gonzalez gets the win to improve to 8-2 on the year.

For the second time in two weeks, the Colorado Rockies hit five solo home runs—and lose. As with a loss in Cincinnati on May 27, the five homers account for all five runs Colorado will score against Los Angeles of Anaheim at Coors Field, but the Angels bunch up to easily outlast the Rockies, 11-5. Jeff Francis, the once-and-current Rockie making his first start after a year with Kansas City (and a third of 2012 in the Reds’ farm system), is shelled for eight runs in three-plus innings.

Sunday, June 10
The Houston Astros win their first road series of the year by taking two of three from the White Sox at Chicago with a 11-9 slugfast. Seven home runs are hit in the game, four by the Astros; Phil Humber takes the loss for the White Sox and is now 1-4 with a 7.69 ERA since throwing a perfect game on April 21.

The Arizona Diamondbacks finish off a three-game sweep of the Oakland A's and are now 5-0 since owner Ken Kendrick made comments critical of star players Justin Upton and Stephen Drew. The winning streak also brings them back to the .500 mark for the first time in five weeks.

League vs. League
As extended interleague play began this past weekend, the American League chalked up a slim 22-20 record against its National League brethren to up its total advantage in interleague action this season to 46-38. The AL has collectively won in head-to-head battles against the NL every year since 2003.

It's About Time
Hard to believe, but San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain finally moved his career record above the .500 mark for the first time since 2007 by getting credit for the Giants’ 8-3 win at San Diego on Thursday. Cain is now 76-75 with a sparkling 3.30 ERA over eight years of pitching.

No Dark Sarcasm in the Friendly Confines
Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters performed The Wall at Wrigley Field this past weekend. Was it ivied?

Choke Artists
The San Diego Padres are hitting .151 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

This Week's Challanger to Joe DiMaggio
Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 18 games. The 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .342 during his run.

TGG Goes to CafePress
We’ve always gotten raves for how we look at This Great Game, and now you can own a piece of the brand. We’ve opened a page at the popular CafePress site, with apparel, mugs, clocks and other items dressed in the TGG brand now available. We don’t just throw the logo and be done with it, adding in some fun baseball trivia. We even have a boy brief for the ladies that says on the backside: “If baseball is on your mind at this point, we’re just what you need.” Now you can show the world that you’re a baseball expert...and you’ll look good, too. Check it out now!

Now Playing at TGG
Here it is! Our annual, fearless preview of the upcoming major league season is live, with TGG’s Ed Attanasio and Eric Gouldsberry releasing their picks for who will arrive, thrive, dive and cry in 2012. Check it out and see if you agree!