Not So Chipper These Days
Could this be the beginning of the end for Chipper Jones? The 37-year old third baseman, a likely future Hall-of-Famer, is barely hitting above .200 since the end of July, and has smacked just one home run over the last month. This from a guy who, with the exception of an injury-plagued 2004 campaign in which he hit .248, has always hit at or above .300including a .364 figure last year that won him the NL batting title. Jones himself is frustrated, and says that if things don’t improve in 2010, he’ll step down from the game and turn his back on $26 million owed to him through 2012.
Okay Mr. Boras, Now Sit Down and Shut Up
When a slumping Magglio Ordonez was punished with a loss of everyday play earlier in the year, his agentthe one and only Scott Borashit the airwaves and claimed the Tigers were purposely sitting Ordonez so that he would miss out on an incentive clause that would have automatically kicked in an $18 million guarantee from the Tigers for 2010. Ordonez, whose rough first half could be attributed to many thingsWorld Baseball Classic participation, his wife’s struggle with cancer, his controversially flattering comments on Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavezhas lost the pop in his bat, with just seven homers on the year. But he’s been smoking the ball about of late, hitting .364 since the beginning of August to earn him more playing time and allowing him to reach his contractual milestone of plate appearances for his big payday in 2010. Consider it a generous act by the Tigers, who are deep in the red thanks to a huge payroll and declined attendance in recession-ravaged Detroit.
"Meltdown" Milton Strikes Again
There’s bad vibes in the center of Milton Bradley’s universebut then again, what else is new? The often ill-tempered Bradley had an especially caustic weekone which ended by getting suspended for the remainder of the season by the Cubs. On Friday, he unilaterally took himself out of Thursday’s game at Chicago against Milwaukee, walking slowly off the field by his lonesome after knocking out a single; afterward, he engaged the media in a tense interview in which he said he’d left the game because of knee inflammation, angrily spicing every answer and non-answer with the phrase, “What else you got?” Before taking himself out of the lineup for Saturday’s game, Bradley expressed his unhappiness playing for the Cubs, adding that perhaps there’s a reason the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 100 years. Then again, there’s likely a reason that Bradley has played on seven teams in ten years; unless the Cubs’ threshold of tolerance is extreme, it might become eight teams in 11 if they can find a way to deal him off to anyone willing to pay the remainder of his three-year, $30 million contract.
Stats Without Bats
A week earlier, the Texas Rangers turned some heads when they won three straight games at Cleveland with double-digit scores. Perhaps they could have bottled some of that offense for this past week; in five straight losses from Sunday through Friday, the Rangers scored a grand total of one run. Worse, the Rangers’ anemic output all came at home, where offense has historically been generated at a high rate. The Rangers, who have played much of the year without Josh Hamilton and have absorbed extended injuries to Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, have now been shutout 11 times this season.
Sure Looks Like Home to Us
The Rangers’ PR department put the word out to fans coming to Rangers Ballpark at Arlington to wear red while rooting on the team for its critical weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, declaring it “Red Out Weekend.” Question: What psychological good does wearing red do when your opponent plays at home to sellout crowds also draped in red apparel?
My Advisor Made Me Do It
Shawon Dunston is arguing in writing that the Chicago Cubs, one of his former employers, should not be granted bankruptcy protection. Why? Because if the Cubs’ current parent company, Tribune Co., goes into Chapter 11, he’ll be denied college tuition money of up to $10,000. Not that Dunston plans to go to college, but the tuition funds were part of his original contract with the Cubs and he claims he’s entitled to them, just in case. Or so insists his financial advisor, who told Dunston to write the letter. Dunston himself laughs off the letter, saying that, if anything, he owes the Cubs for the chance to flourish during his time there.
It Ain't About the K
Arizona slugger Mark Reynolds, who last year became the first major leaguer to strike out over 200 times, has done it again this yearand at upload time was one shy of the 204 whiffs from 2008. Reynolds has been excused for his excessive swinging and missing in 2009, given that he's smacked 42 home runs, will likely knock in 100 runs and has stolen 24 bases (never mind that his batting averageand most certainly his fielding percentagecan improve). And what does Reynolds have to say about his dubious place in the record book? "I don't care about the strikeouts," he says. Apparently neither does anyone else, according to a recent TGG Opinion piece.
Eight is Not Enough
The Cincinnati Reds lost for the first time this season in a game in which they had the lead after eight innings; they had been 57-0 in such instances. Florida tallied four times in the top of the ninth off closer Francisco Cordero to snap another streak of nine games in which the Marlins had failed to win at Great American Ballpark.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Victor Martinez of the Boston Red Sox makes the grade for the second straight week as the major leaguer with the longest active hitting streak; even after taking the early part of the week off to attend to "personal matters" in Cleveland (unfortunately for the Indians, it did not involve a return to their roster), Martinez maintained his focus and extended his run to 19 games, setting a career high.
Take the TGG All-Time Hit Quiz
How well do you know your knowledge when it comes to baseball’s all-time hit leaders? Here’s 22 questions that will test your trivia know-how.
Brace Yourselves for 2010
Also of interest will be the Chicago White Sox’ visit to Washington on June 18-20, where President Barack Obama might take time off from White House duty to watch his favorite baseball team (and no, it’s not the Nationals); and the return of outdoor baseball in Minneapolis, where the Twins will christen Target Field against the Red Sox on April 12a day when the average high temperature in the Twin Cities is 55 degrees.
The 2010 regular season schedule was released this past week, and perhaps the most intriguing face-off to be found will take place at Boston on June 25-27, when the Los Angeles Dodgersand ex-Red Sock Manny Ramirezcome to town. Assuming he’s not, hurt, traded or suspended, it will be the first time Ramirez would be at Fenway Park since his caustic final days in Boston that provoked his 2008 trade to the Dodgersalthough there’s a chance the two teams could meet in this year’s World Series.
Show Us Your Genes
In the aftermath of a scam in which the Cleveland Indians paid a $750,000 bonus to a 17-year old Dominican prospectonly to find out he was a 20-year old with a different namethere are now calls for MLB to perform DNA tests on international free agents to make sure they are who they really claim to be. In reading up on Wally Branyan, the 20-year old whose agents initially claimed was 17-year old Jose Ozoria, we must ask: Why are the Indians still allowing him to be in the organization? If you’re cheated like this, just retrieve the money and give the louse a one-way ticket back to Santo Domingo.
Lonny Frey, 1910-2009
Frey was the second oldest living ex-major leaguer; Tony Malinosky, who played 35 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937, turns 100 on October 5, and is one of 20 ex-players still alive who played during the 1930s. None of them had played earlier than Frey, who debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1933.
This week saw the passing of former All-Star infielder Lonny Frey, who died in Idaho at the age of 99. Frey played 14 years in the majors and was a prime supporting component of the back-to-back NL pennant-winning Cincinnati Reds of 1939-40, leading the NL with 22 steals in 1940. But October was never kind to Frey; in three separate trips to the World Series, Frey was a combined 0-for-20 at the plate.
Sultan of Some Swat
Last week, we broke out an all-time hit leader quiz that includes something of a stumper in regards to the hit king of the 109-year old Philadelphia-Kansas City-Oakland A’s. Well, another bit of A’s trivia was created this past week that more than a few down the line may have a hard time figuring out: Your new all-time home run leader among A’s players at second base is…Mark Ellis. With a whopping 79 homers in eight years, Ellis supplanted another boomer of A’s past, Dick Green (78 long balls at second in a 12-year career).
A Life on the Fritz
Fun article in the New York Times this past week about former Yankee pitcher Fritz Peterson, who’s releasing a book recalling his years with the Yankees entitled Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven. Peterson, who’s battling prostate cancer for a second time, is upbeat and jocular in the Times interview, saying his book may infuriate his ex-teammates but, citing his Christian faith, responds, “That’s okay. I hope they get serious with the Lord.” A 12-year veteran who played the bulk of his career with the Yankees in between dynasties during the dark decade of CBS ownership, Peterson is best remembered for swapping wives with teammate Mike Kekich. The former Ms. Kekich is still with the current Mr. Peterson, but she’s none too happy about the book, in which Peterson refers to her only as “my new wife.”
The hot-hitting Juan Uribe (.318, nine home runs and 25 RBIs since August 11), being paid $1 million by the San Francisco Giants, recently received his bi-monthly paycheck and was startled to see it was nine times the expected amountthen realized he had accidentally been given the check for Giant shortstop Edgar Renteria, having the worst year of his career with a .250 average and five homers. The irony is obvious.
A Little Less Dominant Looking
Pedro Martinez lost for the first time this season after winning five for the Philadelphia Phillies, giving him 100 career losses. This leaves Bob Caruthers (218-99) as the only major league pitcher with more than 200 winsand less than 100 losses.
Here I Am, To Save the Day
Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers has six game-winning, walk-off hits this season, four of which have been home runs. His two-run shot in the bottom of the 13th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 win, was his latest successful send-off.
The Tampa Bay Rays scored as many runs (eight) in the first five innings of Monday’s victory at Baltimore than they had in their previous eight games combined, all of which ended in losses. The Rays’ 8-4 win over the Orioles ended an 11-game losing streak, the longest by any major league team this season.
Wounded of the Week
With a few weeks left to the regular season, we’re at the stage where you’re likely to see the last of any player who’s been given admittance to the 15-day disabled list. The lineup includes Houston ace pitcher Roy Oswalt, Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano, Oakland starting pitchers Brett Tomko and Vin Mazzaro, and Minnesota slugger Justin Morneaualthough Morneau might make it back to the field should his back heal, and should the Twins make the playoffs. Another player recently done for the year may also not be seen in 2010and beyond: Houston pitcher Mike Hampton, who reportedly will miss an entire season for the third time in his career after undergoing shoulder surgery.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.