The 400th Home Run: Something to Yawn About
Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hit his 400th career home run this past week, the 45th player in major league history to reach that milestone. Reaching the 400 mark used to be a big dealsome even considered it a benchmark to achieving Hall of Fame statusbut in today’s steroid-induced, ballpark-shrunk world of baseball, it’s become almost commonplace. Of the 45 players in the 400 Club, 23 of them have played in the 1990sand that figure will likely grow to nearly 30 if projections hold true on players like Andruw Jones, Carlos Lee, Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Lance Berkman. Those players will also be part of the club that played in the 2000s, which could very well surpass the total amassed in the 1990s. Let’s face it, folks: 400 is the new 300.
We're Awaiting the Third Version of Events
Philadelphia pitcher Brett Myers had his rehab assignment from a hip injury delayed because of a beat-up eyebut the multiple details as to how it happened made a lot of press this past week. At first, Myers called into the Phillies and said that his left eye had become severely swollen after being hit there from his four-year old son playing catch. Five minutes later, he called back and gave a second, more detailed explanation in which he stumbled out of the back seat of his SUV after slipping on his kids’ toys. (It always seems to come back to the kids, doesn’t it?) This also happened after he had come home after a “few beers” and that it was the family babysitter who was driving the SUV with himself, his wife and a few other family friends going along for the ride. We’re crossing our fingers that this story doesn’t change again.
The Thunder From Down Under
The buzz in Arizona this past week has come from the new Diamondback from the Outback: Australian-born Trent Oeltjen (pronounced ul-chen), who homered in three of his first four games and then promptly followed that up with a 4-for-4 (which included a double and triple) Wednesday against the New York Mets. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the rookie slugger is that he didn’t strike out until his 31st at-bat, Friday against Los Angeles.
Feeling Blue Jay Gray
It was nice while it was lasted for the Toronto Blue Jays, whose fast start probably merited nothing more than some out-of-town press and the home game version of the AL East race. It took the Jays just 41 games to win their first 27 of the yearand a torturous 70 to win their second 27. Out of contention and out of sight, the Jays dealt away a revived (.320) Scott Rolen, tried to unload ace Roy Halladayand when that didn’t work, they put underachieving Alex Rios and the $61 million they owe him on waivers; the Chicago White Sox took the bait, Rios and the contract. Toronto has Halladay for another year, but it’s likely we’ll all be hearing his name again at next year’s trading deadline, if not sooner.
One Day He'll Reach the Seventh-Inning Stretch
The Netherlands’ own Rick VandenHurk, now in his third year with the Florida Marlins, has started 27 major league gamesand has never gone more than six innings in any one of them. His career ERA is 6.49.
An Emptying Citi?
Life hasn’t been too sweet at either of the two new New York ballparks this year. The Yankees endured a public relations headache when their ridiculously overpriced Legends Suites near home plate remained largely empty. And now the Mets, struggling with an awful, injury-plagued year on the field, are tackling potential ennui from their fan base for the season’s final two months by offering discounts on most tickets up to 50% for half of their remaining games. As with those who already paid in full for the Legends seats at Yankee Stadium, the people most frustrated with the price slashing at Citi Field will likely be season ticket holders who can’t ask for a discounted refund.
With Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki and Baltimore’s Felix Pie each hitting for the cycle this past week, the majors have now witnessed seven such instances this seasonthe most in any year since 1933, when a record eight were performed.
A wretched stretch of pitching doesn’t seem to be affecting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Jared Weaver in the win-loss column. On June 14, Weaver’s record stood at 7-2 with a season ERA of 2.08 after tossing a two-hit shutout over San Diego. In his 11 starts since, he’s produced an awful 7.07 ERAyet is 5-2 during that time. The secret to Weaver’s success is, as you might expect, the support from his offense; in his lucky run of the last two months, the Angels have averaged nearly ten runs per start.
Tanned, Rested and Ready?
Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list on Saturday and had a very nice daya home run, single, walk, HBP and stolen base in five trips to the plate during the Rangers’ 7-2 thumping of Boston in Arlington. The Rangers are hoping that the time off refreshed Kinsler’s hitting for the long haul; since May 12, when Kinsler’s was hearing early MVP talk for his hot start, to late July when a bad hamstring finally placed him on the shelf, he batted just .198.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
With a pinch-hit Sunday on Sunday at Seattle, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano was able to stretch his hitting streak to 14 gamesthe longest active run in the majors as of the end of this past weekend. Cano is hitting .431 during his streak with seven doubles and two homers among his 25 hits.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.
Almost 89 years to the day that the New York Yankees’ Carl Mays threw his fatal pitch at Cleveland’s Ray Chapman’s head, a number of ugly incidents reminded us that major league baseball can still be a dangerous game. At New York’s Citi Field, just eight miles from the spot at the old Polo Grounds where Chapman was killed by Mays’ beanball, the Mets’ David Wrightthe only star hitter on the team untouched by injury this yearwas nailed square in the head by a 94-MPH fastball from the San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain; Wright left the field under his own power but was later diagnosed with a concussion. Later in Phoenix, Los Angeles pitcher Hiroki Kuroda also suffered a concussion when a line drive off the bat of the Diamondbacks’ Rusty Ryal deflected off his head, above his right ear, and into the stands for a ground rule double. And in Texas, the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler was hit on the helmet by Boston’s Fernando Cabrera, but the impact wasn’t as severe and Kinsler stayed in the game.
Best at Short
It’s been a bad year for Luis Aparicio. The Hall of Fame shortstop who played from 1956-73 lost a hold of one record earlier this year when Omar Vizquel became the all-time hit leader among Venezuelan natives. On Sunday, Aparacio’s status as the hit king among shortstops ended when Derek Jeter surpassed him with his 2,674th hit while playing at the position. Jeter’s 2,688 overall hits leave him 33 shy of Lou Gehrig’s mark for the most by a New York Yankee.
Thank God For Where You Live
Who got it worse this week: Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino, doused by a cup of beer from a bleacher bum behind Wrigley Field’s outfield wall, or U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan, pelted by some 30 cupssome of them reportedly containing various bodily fluidssetting up a corner kick during the Americans’ World Cup qualifier at Mexico City? (On a possible related note, Donovan contacted the swine flu while in Mexico.)
Lost in Wisconsin
Last year at this time, the Milwaukee Brewers were surging after the mid-season acquisition of CC Sabathia gave them a major boost. There’s been no big-name transfersand thus, no upswingsthis year for the Brewers, so they’ve taken it out on who’s left. They surprisingly demoted J.J. Hardy, a former All-Star who’s been struggling all season, to the minors, fired pitching coach Bill Castro and released outfielder-third baseman Bill Hall, who has increasingly flopped (.233 average, roughly one strikeout per three at-bats) since signing a four-year deal on the heels of a terrific 35-homer campaign in 2006. Maybe had the Brewers dealt for Matt Holliday, who has appeared to spark divisional rival St. Louis to the top of the leaderboard…
We'll Take Baltimore
The Oakland A’s have been pretty dismal of late, but don’t tell that to the Baltimore Orioles. Since 1999, the A’s are 65-28 against the O’s, and even though Oakland has played some pretty good baseball during this time, the team is 14-5 against Baltimore since 2007, when the A’s plunged indefinitely below the .500 mark. Maybe the A’s can get a chance to play the Orioles more often and petition to move to the AL East…Or, come to think about it (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays), maybe they’ll ask the Orioles to move west.
Not Clowning Around
There are baseball legaciesthe Griffeys, the Fielders, the Boonesand then there’s the Bozo legacy. Trevor Bell, a 22-year old rookie pitcher for the Angels, is the grandson of Bob Bell, better known in entertainment circles as Bozo the Clown, whose 25-year run on Chicago’s WGN ended in 1984 when the station’s other clown performers, the Cubs, started winning. If Angel teammates put Bell through the rookie hazing ritual and force him to dress up as a clown, he might take it as a compliment.
There's a Deep Drive to the 30-Yard Line
We hadn’t quite seen this in a long time, if ever; a night after the Oakland Raiders made use of the Coliseum for an exhibition football game, the A’s came out for a Friday contest against the Chicago White Soxand didn’t bother to erase the football markings from the night before. Perhaps Oakland owner Lou Wolff ordered the lines to stay exposed to illustrate his displeasure of sharing a stadium with a NFL team.
Check it Out, Elias
Adam Kennedy of the Oakland A’s on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox: 5-for-5but with no runs scored and no RBIs. Chicago easily beat up on Oakland, 8-1.
Wounded of the Week
Mental issues seem to be the rage in baseball this year, with numerous players headed to the disabled list due to stress, social disorders and bouts of depression. The most sobering such instance occurred this past week when Arizona reliever Scott Schoeneweis, who hasn’t pitched well at all since the death of his wife three months ago, was given 15 days off to deal with what has been confirmed as clincial depression.
Lightening the mood considerably, Adrian Beltre (“severely contused right testicle”) was placed on the shelf after taking a ground ball where it counts this past week. Beltre is one of the very few players in the majors who doesn’t wear a protective cup; he maybe rethinking that policy.
Last and far from least, we wish a speedy recovery for TGG’s own Ed Attanasio, who suffered a mild stroke last week. Ed is fine, outside of developing a British accent and having a constant erectionwhich might be difficult when wearing a protective cup as well.