The Week That Was in Baseball: August 25-31, 2008
Baseball Dives into the Age of Video Hindsight Hold Your Bladder, Yankee Fans
Tampa Bay Rays: Today .500, Tomorrow the World? Goodbye, Jay Mariotti


Live From New York, It's Instant Replay!
Baseball, or, more pointedly, Commissioner Bud Selig, finally caved in and allowed instant replay to be used in Major League Baseball for the very first time, making the game the last of the four major sports leagues in America to take advantage of video review (the National Football League was the first to use it in 1986). It is widely known that replay will be restricted to what Selig describes as “boundary calls”—whether a ball is fair or foul, interfered with, or below or above that yellow line on the outfield wall. Any such disputed calls will be reviewed by the umpiring crew with the help of a flat-panel monitor near the dugout and a small, centrally-located war room of sorts located on the fifth floor of a former Manhattan baking factory that will monitor every baseball game taking place. The replay procedures began this past Thursday, but by the end of the weekend things were pretty quiet, with no plays as yet to be reviewed.

This Week's Tampa Bay Ray Milestone
For the first time in their 11-year history, the Tampa Bay Rays will have a winning season. This was officially assured on Friday when the Rays won their 82nd game of the year, defeating Baltimore at St. Petersburg, 14-3. Now only if their fan base would catch up; while the Rays own the best record in the AL, they also have the league’s worst attendance. Three mid-week games against the Toronto Blue Jays netted a total number of 40,195 fans. Not for each game, but for the entire series.

Preaching to the South Side
Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama talked a little baseball as the Democratic National Convention stirred up in Denver, and the Chicago-based Senator revealed that he sides with the Chicago White Sox over the Cubs. Talking with ESPN’s Stuart Scott, Obama labeled Cub fans as “fair-weather fans” and “beautiful people” who drink while proclaiming the White Sox experience as “real baseball.” Obviously there’s not enough liberals for Obama to alienate on the North Side.

Seeing Red and Loving It
Houston pitching ace Roy Oswalt is now 22-1 lifetime against Cincinnati, after he yet again defeated the Reds on Wednesday, 4-1. Oswalt has double-digit success against only two other teams, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates—with 11 wins each.

All For Nothing
The Los Angeles Dodgers collected 13 hits and three walks at Philadelphia on Monday and couldn’t forge a single run, losing 5-0 to the Phillies. Only twice has a major league team been shutout with more hits: The 1913 New York Giants and 1928 Cleveland Indians each had 14 while getting blanked.

From Uggla to Ugly
Dan Uggla of the Florida Marlins earned his way to the All-Star Game with a terrific first half, hitting .286 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs in 81 games. But since his embarrassing performance at the Mid-Summer Classic, when he committed three errors and bombed at the plate, he hasn’t been the same. In 39 games after the break, Uggla is hitting just .206 with five homers and 16 RBIs—and has committed as many errors (six) as he did before the break.

Twenty is Plenty
Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves hit his 20th homer of the season on Saturday, making him one of only two big leaguers to collect at least 20 in each of his first 14 seasons. (Jones’ 1993 taste of the majors technically doesn’t count since he was a late call-up and logged only three at-bats.) The 36-year old third baseman joins former Brave Eddie Mathews, who smacked at least 23 every year from 1952-65.

Wounded of the Week
The Boston Red Sox may make it to the postseason, but there’s a good chance they’ll be bandaged and bloodied if they do. This past week, the defending world champions had to make room in their medical ward for two star players—outfielder J.D. Drew and pitcher Josh Beckett—known as much for their knack for injury as their personal success. Also making this week’s roll call of pain is New York Met pitcher John Maine, Oakland’s Frank Thomas (again), Los Angeles of Anaheim second baseman Howie Kendrick and Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla.

Now Playing on TGG
Check out Ed Attanasio’s entertaining chat with one-game-wonder Stefan Wever in TGG's latest installment of the They Were There section. Also new this week, in our Opinion section, is Eric Gouldsberry's look at baseball's infatuation with bronze statues.


There's No Peeing During the Seventh-Inning Strech!
During Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankee game at New York, 29-year old Brad Campeau-Lampion was ejected from Yankee Stadium when he allegedly refused to stay put in his seat during the seventh-inning playing of God Bless America so he could to go to the bathroom. When he protested to a couple of stadium NYPD cops, they were said to twist his arm around and roughly escorted him out on the street. Although there actually is a stadium policy that forbids fans from basically moving during the song, the official police report said that had nothing to do with Campeau-Lampion’s ouster, stating that he was drunk and verbally abusive. The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come to Campeau-Lampion’s rescue and likely argue to the Yankees that when you gotta go, you gotta go.

For the Rich Bums
If you’re rushing down to the front of the bleachers to catch a home run ball at the new Yankee Stadium next year, you might be stopped by security (hopefully not the same as those mentioned above) and asked to produce a ticket. That’s because while many bleacher seats at the new Stadium will remain at the current $12 value, the seats right behind the outfield walls in left and right field will be priced as high as $100. It’s the first time we’ve ever heard of a bleacher seat fetching triple-digit prices for a simple regular season game. 

Don't Watch Your Step on the Way Out
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had to pinch himself this past week to make sure it was really happening; Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti, whose poison pen has been aimed on a consistent basis at Guillen, left the paper in hopes of pursuing a position spewing his opinionated venom on the Internet. Apparently, Mariotti’s former co-workers were just as happy to see him go as Guillen. Chris De Luca of the Sun-Times wrote: “Not once in the last eight years can I recall seeing Mariotti in the Cubs’ or Sox’ clubhouse. With a press credential that allowed him access to every major sporting event and every major figure, he hasn’t broken a single story in that time...He called his colleagues soft, forgetting we’re the ones who had to face his targets on a daily basis. We were the ones who had to deal with the anger that he was too cowardly to face himself.” Sun-Times editor Michael Cooke added, “We wish Jay well and will miss him—not personally, of course—but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days.”

Chasing Thigpen
Francisco Rodriguez continues to collect saves at the same rate most of us collect junk mail. With three more saves this past week, the Los Angeles of Anaheim closer needs just five more to break Bobby Thigpen’s 18-year old season record. Rodriguez’s 53 saves to date already has tied Mariano Rivera for the second most in AL history. He’s got all of September left, folks.

Lost In Translation?
Someone needs to tell San Diego pitcher Cha Seung Baek—either using English or a translator—that his home field of Petco Park is a pitcher’s park. In ten career appearances there, he’s 0-7 with a 5.94 ERA. Away from San Diego, Baek is 14-10 with a 4.68 ERA.

He Said What?
“Imagine being able to throw something on the field and not be ejected.” —Chicago Cub manager Lou Piniella, opining about instant replay and wondering if a review would be called using a NFL-style approach of tossing a flag on the field.

One-Run Blues
The Atlanta Braves stretched their agonizing, record-breaking run of consecutive one-run losses on the road to 28 when they lost in extra innings at Washington on Saturday, 10-9. The Braves’ last one-run victory away from Atlanta came on August 9, 2007 when they tipped the Mets at New York, 7-6.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
If San Diego’s Brian Giles or St. Louis’ Yadier Molina, both of whom end this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 11 games, have any aspirations of eclipsing Joltin’ Joe’s seemingly untouchable record, they wouldn’t get there at this point until the end of April next season. Good luck, gentleman.

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