Monthly archives: March 2007
[ Day Nine of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
The Big Boys have arrived in Atlanta for the last three games of the year in college basketball.
They need little introduction, but I will still introduce them because you come to this blog for witty intros to overhyped sporting events. You're all champing at the bit aren't you.
Game 1 will supposedly tip off at 3:07 pm PT in Atlanta between the East Region Champion and #2 seed Georgetown and the South Region Champion and #1 seed Ohio State. This game will be big. Literally. There are big guys playing in this game. Greg Oden and Roy (don't call me Julius) Hibbert are large men. Greg Oden may look like he's 35, but when he talks, he definitely sounds like he's 18.
In the Griddle's contest, if Ohio State wins, then the entries "it goes up to 65", "maligNED and beLITTLEd", and ToyCannon are eliminated.
If Georgetown wins, Suffering Bruin, Dodgergabe, sonic death monkey, and Trojan Ron all go down.
Game 2 should be starting around 5:47 pm PT between the West Region Champion and #2 seed UCLA and the Midwest Region Champion and #1 seed Florida. Oh, and Florida won last year. The Gators are doing their best to somehow make UCLA look like a sentimental underdog that people want to root for. That's really hard to do and is a credit to Billy Donovan and his fine upstanding group of young scholar-athletes. Nevertheless, a UCLA victory would be, in my opinion, a bit of a surprise as I picture Lee Humphrey raining down threes as he gets open as the Bruins try to double team Noah and Horford.
The only thing you can count on is Jim Nantz trying to be inoffensive and then wondering how sanctimonious Billy Packer be. How many more years will CBS inflict Billy Packer on America? I'm guessing that will be as long as Packer wants to stay.
I picture this scene when Packer dies.
There are just seven people who can win. Trojan Ron is the current leader by one point over Suffering Bruin. Sonic death monkey is presently in 13th place and would make the biggest leap if Ohio State beats UCLA on Monday. He would beat Trojan Ron by one point in that scenario.
If all the picks were weighted evenly, Suffering Bruin would be the leader with 50 correct out of the first 60 games.
And remember back to the early rounds when Monterey Chris ruled the roost and we were thinking of building a series of churches in his honor? He's tied for 66th and he proved to be the latest in a string of false gods that I've worshiped.
As easy as 1-2-3
Last night at the Freeway Series (exhibition variety) game between the Angels and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, I finally got to see in person, one of baseball's rarer events, the triple play.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Angels reliever Chris Resop walked Olmedo Saenz to lead off and Adam Godwin ran for him. (Godwin did not bring up Stalin or Hitler to Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman I believe.) Andy LaRoche followed with another walk. And who was coming up? Why, it was Brady Clark! Whom I still had to adjust to being on the Dodgers. It was Clark's first at bat as a Dodger.
And on a 2-2 count, the runners were going, but Clark lined the ball right at Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who was already shading to second for the double play. Kendrick just jogged to second to double off Godwin and threw over to Kotchman at first to complete the triple play as LaRoche made a game, but ultimately futile jog back to first.
And there it was in my scorebook "43 TP". For the Dodgers, it was no runs, no hits, no errors, and none left.
The odd thing about the triple play is that sort of happened in slow motion. Clark didn't seem to hit the ball very hard. Kendrick didn't seem to run to second fast nor was in a particular hurry to throw out LaRoche at first. It just sort of happened.
The crowd didn't react much at all. The players don't really have a way to celebrate such a play. The triple play is not as satisfying it seems as the ground ball double play, which is one of baseball's most aesthetically pleasing plays. Just look at the drawing on Kurt Bevacqua's baseball card from 1976 over at Cardboard Gods. That is artistry.
The triple play is just one of those things that happens. It's a big thing. It's the ultimate rally killer. But ultimately, it's not a lot of fun to watch. Crossing it off my list of baseball feats to see in person, is sort of like being a birder who just needed to see a duck to complete his life list.
What's left on my baseball life list to see in person:
What passes as big news regarding the Pirates
The Pirates sent former All-Star Dan Kolb to their minor league camp and decided not to put Jose Hernandez on the big league roster.
And former Pirate manager Bill Virdon and Chuck Tanner are angry that next year, the Pirates spring training stadium, McKechnie Field in Bradenton, will have lights. Virdon and Tanner have voluntarily decided to have electricity removed from their homes I hear. And they won't use gasoline-powered cars, but rather travel around in horse-drawn buggies. Or rickshaws.
Tigers lose Rogers for half the year, Guillen extended
Kenny Rogers, who originally went on the DL with a "tired arm", turned out to have a blood clot in his left shoulder and will miss at least half the season after surgery.
Chad Durbin is expected to take Rogers' spot in the rotation.
Carlos Guillen received a 4-year, $48 million extension to his contract today in other Tigers news.
Just what is it that you can eat?
Baseball stadiums and their Representatives
The New York Times and CQ Press matched up each major league park with its House Representative and discovered, not surprisingly, that all but three of them are represented by Democrats. The exceptions are Toronto (for obvious reasons), Cincinnati, and Texas. As the article points out, baseball stadiums are almost all in cities (especially downtowns) and they are almost all in Democratic areas (which tend to be the big cities.)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has AT&T Park in her district and Rahm Emanuel has Wrigley Field.
However, unlike those slackers at CQ and the New York Times, I go the extra mile. Rogers Centre in Toronto is in the constituency of Olivia Chow, a member of the New Democratic Party.
Angels extend Shields
Los Angeles Angels reliever Scot Shields received a three-year, $14 million contract extension Thursday. Shields has the first and second most appearances in a season by an Angels pitcher, pitching in 78 games in 2005 and 74 in 2006. Shields is three short of the Angels record for relief wins with 31. Dave LaRoche holds that record.
Marlins give two career minor leaguers a shot
The Florida Marlins finalized their 25-man roster and it contains two players who have toiled for quite a while in the minors while only being able to sip at a tall cup of coffee in the big, although they have seemingly enjoyed unlimited ventis in the minors.
One guy who made the team is 36-year old Jason Wood, who played his first game in the majors back on April 1, 1998 for Oakland. Wood entered that game to take over at shortstop in the ninth after Shane Mack had batted for Rafael Bournigal. Wood got one at bat for Oakland, on April 5, 1998, and struck out against Jeff Nelson of the Yankees.
Wood soon went back to the minors and was dealt in July to the Tigers for Bip Roberts. The Tigers made him a September callup and on September 7, 1998, Wood went 2 for 3 against Mike Sirotka of the White Sox. He was the Tigers DH and left for pinch hitter Luis Gonzalez.
In 1999 Wood played in a handful of games for the Tigers and batted .159 and then it was off to AAA. He played for the Pirates AAA team in Nashville for two seasons and then moved over to the Marlins AAA teams in Calgary and then Albuquerque. None of his AAA stats were overwhelming. Nevertheless, the Marlins brought Wood up in September and he got 6 hits in 13 at bats. Wood got his first major league hit in nearly seven seasons with a pinch single against Brett Myers of the Phillies on September 9, 2006.
The other journeyman joining the Marlins is a little younger, 32-year old Lee Gardner, who has pitched a few games for Tampa Bay.
Not a surprise out of Surprise
The Texas Rangers will put Eric Gagne on the disabled list to start the season.
Have a fun year, Mariners fans
From the Seattle Times:
Yep, a 36-year old infielder, who hasn't played organized ball since 2004, with a career OPS of .599 (an OPS+ of 60! and that exclamantion point means shock, not "60 factorial")
And with the return of Russ Ortiz, it seems like baseball teams are recycling bad ideas and players like Hollywood enjoyed making "Police Academy" films.
The whole article about who is going to be on the Mariners 25-man roster would make me want to flee from Seattle up to Canada and seek asylum from Bill Bavasi.
Where in the world?
Ken has added a very easy way for HTML challenged clods like me to put up photos.
So where was this photo taken?
I added a better view of the mysterious wildlife.
Japan's Central League preview
Not that it's written by me, nor would I know enough, but the Kyodo News Service has a preview of the upcoming season for Japan's Central League which starts play Friday (Thursday in most of the U.S.)
The Chunichi Dragons of Nagoya are trying to become the first team to repeat as champ since the Yakult Swallows in 1992 and 1993. The Dragons return the CL's top hitter for average in Kosuke Fukudome (.351) and the home run and RBI leader in Tyrone Woods (47, 144). Chunichi has one of the CL's top pitchers in Kenshin Kawakami (17-7, 2.51).
The Hanshin Tigers (of Nishinomiya) and the Yomiuri Giants (of Tokyo) are both considered contenders and likely to finish in the top three, which would be good enough to make the playoffs under the CL's new expanded playoff system that mirrors the one used by the Pacific League. The second place team meets the third place team in a best of three with the winner facing the first place team in a best of five. Unlike last year, the first place team will no longer receive a one game advantage.
The Pacific League started play last weekend and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks won three of their first four and defending Japan Series champion Fukuoka Nippon Ham Fighters started off 1-1-2.
Also, the owners finally decided to immediately end the "kibo-waku" system which allowed amateur players designate a team that they wished to negotiate with or vice versa (a team could pick a player prior to the draft and forfeit a pick.)
Marlins settle on a center fielder
And they were De-Azaled!
OK, that really doesn't work well. But the Florida Marlins named Alejandro De Aza, a 22-year old who has never played above AA as their opening day center fielder. De Aza beat out Alex Sanchez, who was released.
De Aza was originally signed by the Dodgers and then taken by Florida in the 2004 Rule 5 minor league draft.
Law & Order: Caracas
In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. Except in Venezuela where I think it works differently.
Ugueth Urbina was sentenced to 14 years in jail today by a judge in Caracas for the attempted murder of five people on his family's ranch. The Venezuelan Attorney General's office said that Urbina was also guilty of "illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice into his own hands during a dispute over a gun."
The linked article notes, with no hint of irony, that Urbina is a "free agent."
Walker ponders grievance against Padres
"Hey, Todd, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
Recently released Todd Walker is actually pondering whether or not to file a grievance against the San Diego Padres for releasing him during spring training, so they would only be on the hook for $987,500 of his $3.95 million salary that he got in an arbitration hearing.
Padres GM Kevin Towers insists that Walker was released for baseball reasons, not in retaliation for winning his arbitration hearing.
He hit it into the next county!
Jay Gibbons of the Orioles is hoping to stay injury-free this year after hurting his knee last year running into an outfield wall. David Ginsburg of the Associated Press describes it this way.
"I can't run into a wall. That derailed my whole season," said Gibbons, shaking his head as he recalled the mishap in Los Angeles that put him on the disabled list with injuries to his neck and right knee. Gibbons was playing right field for the Baltimore Orioles when he collided with the wall while chasing a fly ball on May 26.
Hmm... May 26.... May 26 .... Just where were the Orioles playing on May 26, 2006?
Well played, Mr. Moreno. Well played.
This post is going over as well as one I made about John Wetteland being named bullpen coach of the Nationals. That joke bombed. Oh well. Seemed funny at the time.
Senate hearings on Extra Innings - The five minute version
Or maybe I can summarize it in even less time!
John Kerry starts off welcoming the witnesses and throws in two Yogi Berra quotes. And also says:
"I am concerned when fans lose access to their favorite team; or, as we will discover today, they are forced to change their TV service just to see games. That is wrong. That is a sign that the system is not working."
Norm Larker, 1930-2007
Norm Larker, a first baseman and sometime outfielder, for the Dodgers, Astros, Braves, and Giants, for six seasons from 1958-63, passed away in Long Beach on March 12.
I had somehow missed Larker's passing until I noticed Rich Lederer mentioning it on Baseball Analysts today.
Larker didn't make it to the majors until he was 27 with the Dodgers in their first year in L.A. He finished second in the NL in batting average behind Dick Groat with a .323 average in 1960, but slumped in 1961 and the Dodgers had him share first base responsibilities with Gil Hodges. Both Hodges and Larker were taken in the NL expansion draft in the offseason and the job was given to a much younger Ron Fairly.
Because of his big ears, Larker was often, presumably affectionately, as "Dumbo."
Get ready for some exciting Senate testimony!
At 10 am ET/7 am PT (and don't bring up Arizona or Hawai'i), it will be time to be glued to your computer so you can listen to the streaming audio from the hearings from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
The hearing is titled: Exclusive Sports Programming: Examining Competition and Consumer Choice and it will be held in the Russell Senate Office Building room 253. That's where I testified about the New York Times' excessive use of periods in the spelling of UCLA. Strangely, there were no Senators present at that time.
Scheduled to testify in front of likely just two senators, John Kerry and Arlen Specter, will be:
The end result of this will likely be nothing. But if you want to listen, you can stop by CaptiolHearings.org for streaming audio.
Kerry is making claims that 60 million people could lose access to their favorite team, although that would assume that there are 60 million people who really want the ability to be able to listen to the dulcet tones of Michael Kay telling how you aren't as smart as he is or Keith Hernandez telling you that he was a really great player or Mark Grace saying something that would get him fired if he worked for a team that people knew existed or Jim Palmer trying to make us believe the Orioles are a relevant team. Some people might even miss watching the Devil Rays on TV.
The Ups and many Downs of Duaner Sanchez
After missing the final months and the postseason last year with a separated shoulder suffered in a taxi accident in Miami, Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez will be out until midseason now with a fracture in his right shoulder. In between, Sanchez had been sent home from Mets camp for a day when manager Willie Randolph didn't think he was being serious about his rehab and had shown up overweight.
In other transactions:
The Padres are going to release second baseman Todd Walker, about a month after Walker won his arbitration case.
The Marlins acquired reliever Jorge Julio from Arizona in exchange for Yusmeiro Petit, who was, for a while, an "untouchable" prospect for the Mets. Apparently, Petit can now be touched.
Toby Hall will likely miss all season for the White Sox after tearing his right labrum.
This one goes up to 13
Toward the end of this story on MLB.com, comes news that the Orioles are leaning toward carrying 13 pitchers this season.
And then there are pitchers who are disappointed that they are being sent to the minors anyway. How bad do you have to be to not make a 13-man pitching staff. Especially a pitching staff that consists of 13 Orioles pitchers?
Sendy Rleal was sent to the minors on rehab assignment. That will apparently involve Orioles broadcasters as well who will try to figure out which language starts words with an "Rl" sound.
DirecTV offers up extras with Extra Innings for a few extra bucks
DirecTV says it will offer a few extras to Extra Inning subscribers.
For $39 extra (the basic package will cost $160), subscribers will get:
Coming to a DVD player near you
Or possibly a DVD player at your church, it's "Champions of Faith", featuring religious testimonials from the likes of Mike Piazza, Jeff Suppan, and Mike Sweeney. If I'm not mistaken, all of the three are Catholic and most of the others in the linked story are Catholic too.
The press release/story is from "The Christian Post." There is some helpful information in it.
Contained in the video is inspirational, uplifting music from famed singer, Bob Dylan, who had a powerful conversion in his life late in his singing career. He is known as one of the greatest songwriters in history.
Oh, that Bob Dylan.
[ Miscellanea for the Final Four and contest scenarios ]
The Final Four this year consists of four schools who have all won a national championship before: Florida, Ohio State, and Georgetown have one title apiece and UCLA has 11. All the schools have also lost in the championship game. Florida has lost once, UCLA has lost twice, Ohio State has lost three times as has Georgetown The last Final Four that had four schools that had already won it all was back in 1998 when North Carolina, Utah, Kentucky, and Stanford made it to San Antonio.
The matchup between UCLA and Florida in the semifinals is a rematch of the championship game from last year. The only other time that happened was in 1990 and 1991 when UNLV and Duke did it. Cincinnati beat Ohio State in two straight finals in 1961 and 1962.
It's the first time the combination of seeds in the Final Four are 1, 1, 2, and 2.
Unrelated things I've come across while leafing through the NCAA Final Four Record Book.
As for the Griddle's contest, there were 106 entries and now there are just seven entries eligible to win:
There's a holiday for me tomorrow, so I will try to get back in the business of posting baseball content.
[ Day Eight of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
The Select Six becomes the Final Four today and then we wait around until Saturday.
Again just two games on the agenda:
11:40 AM PT - #3 Oregon vs #1 Florida in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis - The Ducks are the only team not seeded first or second to make it this far. And the Ducks have been hot lately, winning nine straight. They will unleash their four guard attack with lots of three point attempts against the defending champion Gators. Some people think that Joakim Noah is the most hated man in college basketball. Apparently, people have short memories and have forgotten J.J. Redick. And just think about what Christian Laettner would have had heaped upon him if he played just a few years later?
Remember. An Oregon win makes me take a one-week trip to that state. Travel agents are standing by.
2:05 PM PT - #2 Georgetown vs #1 North Carolina in the East Regional in East Rutherford - I will miss a good chunk of this game. So I will leave you to ponder things like this. Or maybe this. Expect CBS to show lots and lots and lots of highlights of Michael Jordan and James Worthy. And Patrick Ewing. And Patrick Ewing, Jr. And John Thompson III, who something like John Thompson, Jr. Just don't expect Fred Brown to show up and cheer for the Hoyas.
As for the contest, it is explained in excrutiating detail here.
And for your viewing pleasure, the ending of yesterday's Division II championship. The announcers are Ian Eagle and Dan Bonner. Unless Viacom gets upset:
[ Fun with scenarios? ]
Sitting down with some paper and the scenario generator on the Yahoo NCAA tournament contest, I worked out who would win if any of the 32 possible ways for the last five games to be played shake out.
Then there are a bunch of people who can win if all five games go exactly to their predictions.
If your entry isn't on the list, we have some lovely parting gifts for you.
Metaphors can hurt
In this case, they hurt my sensibility.
In this article from the Motley Fool site about the DirecTV deal, there are way too many baseball metaphors used. One was funny. Two were cute. Three were annoying. When the count reached four, I tried to gouge out my eyes.
But as Jacobson touched first base, convinced he had legged out a hit for his subscribers, Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, called a hearty "steeeerike." According to DuPuy, iN Demand's supposed home run offer had actually landed well inside the outfield, completely missing the requirements for carrying The Baseball Channel and sharing rights fees for "Extra Innings." An in-your-face argument quickly ensued at home plate. Jacobson huffed, "By rejecting this matching offer, Major League Baseball has proven it never intended for iN Demand to have a fair and equal opportunity to bid for Extra Innings." DuPuy retorted that the March 31 deadline for completion of a cable-baseball deal stands. There'll simply be no, um, extra innings.
Ed Bailey, 1931-2007
Ed Bailey, a catcher mainly for the Reds and Giants over 14 seasons, passed away in Knoxville, Tennesee Friday.
Bailey made the NL All-Star team three times with the Reds and then, for reasons not entirely clear, was traded to the Giants early in 1961 for Bob Schmidt and Don Blasingame. Schmidt and Blasingame were both terrible for the Reds, who still ended up winning the pennant in 1961, despite receiving very little offense from its catcher. Bailey did play on the pennant-winning Giants team in 1962, but went 1 for 14 in the World Series.
[ Day Seven of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
The Elite Eight gets pared down to a Select Six.
No more worries about which games is being shown on CBS anymore.
The agenda is brief, but power-packed. Times PT.
jkm1927 and Trojan Ron are tied for the lead in the contest with 79 points and three people are just one point back. Wins in this round are worth eight points.
If Ohio State and Kansas win, mikewyz moves into the lead.
Angels lose Figgins for up to 6 weeks
Chone Figgins, who thought he had just one broken finger, turned out to have two, and the Angels third baseman will now miss 5-6 weeks of the season.
Figgins has a broken middle finger and index finger on his right hand. Maicer Izturis and Robb Quinlan will get the bulk of the time and Erick Aybar will head west with the team out of spring training.
It was Opening Day in one place
Across the pond, Japan's Pacific League had its opening day, and the Seibu Lions and Orix Buffaloes won their openers over the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Rakuten Golden Eagles respectively.
The third game, between the last two Japan Series champs, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Chiba Lotte Marines, ended in a 4-4 tie after rain halted play in the seventh. Julio Zuleta supplied all the offense for the Fighters with a sixth inning grand slam.
This year, both the Central and Pacific Leagues will have their top three teams play in a two-tiered playoff called The Climax Series. However, the head of the players association, Yakult Swallows player Shinya Miyamoto, is threatening to ask the players to boycott the Climax Series if changes to the draft system aren't made. There would be no plans to disrupt the Japan Series. The linked story explains it better than I can.
Umpires agree to wear mikes
In exchange for wearing microphones during ESPN and Fox broadcasts and agreeing to umpire the 2009 World Baseball Classic, the umpires union (the World Umpires Association) was able to get Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox reinstated.
Hallion and Hickox had resigned in 1999 during the umpires ill-fated power play to force MLB to give them a better deal.
ESPN and Fox will not air the umpires comments live.
[ Day Six of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
And now we're down to twelve, which really needs an alliterative nickname, please submit suggestions below.
Tonight's agenda (all times PT)
4:10 pm - #5 Butler vs #1 Florida in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis - As much as I hate the Gators, I can at least be happy that they have to spend a weekend in the Mound City. I'm sure that Joakim Noah is off soaking up the sights at the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame.
4:27 pm - #6 Vanderbilt vs #2 Georgetown in the East Regional in East Rutherford - Vanderbilt got its start thanks to Cornelius Vanderbilt making a killing in steamboats and railroads and generally robber baronhood. Georgetown was founded because the Pope thought it would be a good idea. For those scoring at home, it was Pius VI.
6:40 pm - #7 UNLV vs #3 Oregon in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis - If this game is on your TV screen, either you live in Nevada or Oregon or you are streaming the webcast to your set. The Mountain West champs take on the Pac-10 champs. Note to Vegas fans, you can gamble on those riverboats.
6:57 pm - #5 USC vs #1 North Carolina in the East Regional in East Rutherford - The Trojans try to put two teams from the same city in the Elite Eight for the first time since Villanova and Temple did it in 1988 (they both lost in their regional finals.) It also happened in 1971 when Penn faced Villanova in the East Region Final and Villanova won.
In the Griddle's contest, Suffering Bruin leads jkm1927 by 3 points 70-67.
If the higher seeds win tonight, jkm1927 and Trojan Ron (who again picked against the Trojans) would be tied for first. The entry "purple humidor" could make a move to the top if Butler can upset Florida.
If the higher seeds win out and the final comes down to Florida versus North Carolina, the winner would be the entry "Fatwa on Florida."
Selig wins Executive of the Year
Tragic turn of events at Cricket World Cup
After Pakistan was shocked in its opening match of the Cricket World Cup by Ireland in Montego Bay, Jamaica back on March 17, Pakistan's coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room.
And now Jamaican police say that Woolmer was murdered. The police have no suspects and no one has been arrested although the Pakistan team was interviewed.
Despite Woolmer's death, the competition has gone on.
[ Day Five of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
It's the first day of the regional semifinals with games in the West and South regions set for play.
Monterey Chris doggedly maintains a 1 point lead over Suffering Bruin in the Griddle's NCAA tournament contest. And the esteemed Mr. Chris of Monterey has the potential to pick up four victories tonight.
The agenda (all times PT):
4:10 PM - #4 Southern Illinois vs #1 Kansas in the West Region in San Jose. Salukis have an advantage in that their mascot is a real animal. There is no bird called a jayhawk.
4:27 PM - #3 Texas A&M vs #2 Memphis in the South Region in San Antonio. The Aggies are home to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. The Tigers were the favorite pick of James Carville this year.
6:40 PM - #3 Pittsburgh vs #2 UCLA in the West Region in San Jose. A matchup between two schools whose campuses I have visited! The Cathedral of Learning takes on Royce Hall in a battle of iconic buildings.
6:57 PM - #5 Tennessee vs #1 Ohio State in the South Region in San Antonio. I was thinking. How many times have these schools met each other in football? The answer, just once, in the 1996 Florida Citrus Bowl. Tennessee won 20-14. Ohio State has won all three meetings on the hardwood, including a 68-66 win back on January 13.
If you wish to compare yourself to others who entered Yahoo's contest, 85.9% of all entries picked Ohio State to make it to the Elite 8. Florida was tabbed by 83.3%
Butler received support from only 1.7% of all entries to make the Elite Eight. USC and UNLV only were named on 2.8%
McCann signs up for six more years, La Russa goes .093
Thanks to stolenmonkey86 (note not his real name, he really prefers to be called Monterey Chris.)
We promise to stop the bribery ... next year
Following up on this post from yesterday about corruption in Japanese baseball's draft (a post that omitted Monterey Chris' name), comes news that NPB voted to abolish the kibo-waku draft plan.
But not until next year.
Until then, let the under-the-table payments flourish!
Can't get no relief
The new closer for the Boston Red Sox will likely Julian Tavarez. Or until Mike Timlin gets healthy.
Tavarez had one save last year. It came on May 28 against Tampa Bay.
Here is the Retrosheet play-by-play for the ninth of that game:
Now that is some high quality relieving!
A loud cheer erupts from the San Francisco area!
INdemand 'matches' DirecTV offer for Extra Innings
Or at least they say they are going to, according to a wire service report.
IN Demand said Wednesday it will offer to match the terms of DirecTV's $700 million, seven-year deal with Major League Baseball on behalf its owners, who are affiliates of the companies that own Time Warner, Comcast and Cox cable systems.
Bob DuPuy of MLB withheld comment as did Chase Carey. Chase Carey's mustache also had no comment.
Thanks to bhsportsguy for the tip.
Headline has been altered to add quotation marks around "matches"
Update - It appears that MLB is less than impressed with the offer
It's their funeral
From the bottom of this story in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Ortiz excels: Look for the Giants to announce any day that Russ Ortiz has won a rotation spot, a formality given how he has thrown. Ortiz not only became the first Giants starter to work into the fifth inning, he went six, allowing two solo home runs. One was a wind-aided cheapie by Nelson Cruz, the other a legitimate shot to center by Ian Kinsler.
Look for Russ to crank up the music loud in the Giants clubhouse on the day he starts and tell everybody that it's "Ortiz Time!"
Japanese draft and bribery scandal widens
Last week, news broke of the Seibu Lions team bribing amateur players to get them to sign with the team in what is now a legal way to circumvent the draft in Japanese baseball.
The system is called "kibo-waku" and it allowed a player or a team to negotiate a contract ahead of time with the provision that the team would then forfeit its pick in the first round of the draft. While this may seem like a good way to give players more freedom of choice, it turns out that the system is rife with bribery. Japanese amateur baseball now opposes it and it is expected that NPB will abolish the system.
In this Yomiuri Shimbun piece, the corruption in the system is described.
Last June, Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine spoke of his outrage of being informed by scouts that a particular pitcher would require 8 million dollars to sign. Valentine then met with reporters and lashed out. He started by reminding everyone that the 12 teams pledged to play by the rules, which Valentine praised.
Universities and high schools are all mixed up in this too. It's like taking the worse of U.S. college sports recruiting and tossing Scott Boras into the mix to create a way of distributing talent.
Marty Martinez, 1941-2007
Marty Martinez, who played seven seasons in the majors as a utility infielder and served as manager of the Seattle Mariners for one game in 1986, passed away last week.
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times wrote a remembrance of Martinez and his long career in baseball. As a scout, Martinez signed Edgar Martinez and Omar Vizquel among others.
In the linked story, Stone gets the date wrong of Martinez's lone game as a manager. It was actually on May 8, 1986.
The ballpark formerly not known well as Ameriquest ...
Will now be called Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The original name was the Ballpark in Arlington. Then Ameriquest Field in Arlington. And now Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
From the AP story
The parent company of the subprime lender, ACC Capital Holdings Corp., announced last week that it was slashing its work force for the second time in less than a year. The company cited the "very challenging nonprime market" for the cuts.
There will be a quiz later.
Much, much later.
Wells reveals he has diabetes
In a probably not unexpected development, San Diego pitcher David Wells announced today that he has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Wells is trying to avoid any worsening of his condition by changing his diet. And cutting back on his alcohol consumption.
Will we end up seeing a skinny David Wells by the end of the year?
From the Griddle's Helsinki bureau
In honor of the recent elections in Finland (you mean you weren't paying attention?), I thought it would be fun to take a look at pesäpallo, the Finnish version of baseball. Finns now call it pesis, which I prefer since I don't have to figure out how to type anymore diacritical marks.
The game is played with 12 to a side, although only 9 players are out in the field at any one time. The offense has three DHs available, called jokers in the game. The jokers aren't fixed in the batting order and the manager can use them at his discretion. The rules are relatively complex, although I think they're easier to understand than cricket. The pitcher stands near the batter and tosses the ball in the air and the batter tries to hit it as far as he can. The defense can catch it on the fly for an out or try to throw him out at first. However, the batter doesn't have to run the first two times he hits the ball.
The really weird thing is that the bases aren't in a nice square like baseball, but in a zigzag of sorts. It's usually 20 meters from home to first. Then 32 meters from first to second. Then 36 meters from second to third. And finally 38 meters from third to home. All runners are retired on force plays, sort of.
When I was on vacation with my dad in 1994 we were in Helsinki on a Sunday afternoon. There is pretty much nothing to do in Helsinki on a Sunday afternoon. We had already taken a bus tour of the city. We had walked around. We had been travelling through Europe for two weeks. So we turned on the TV and they were showing highlights of pesis for about an hour.
We came to the same conclusion. We had no idea what the hell these people were doing.
I think it can best be summed up this way:
That's from here.
Finnish would be a lot easier to understand if it didn't have 15 different noun cases.
Thanks to joejoejoe for the suggestion.
[ First weekend done. Contest update ]
48 games done in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and I know that I sure can't win my own contest! I sit in a seven-way tie for 85th, along with league commissioner bhsportsguy. The two of us need to get together and employ more Jack Molinas-like tactics.
The leader is still Monterey Chris with 55 points with Suffering Bruin hot on his tail one point back. Three people are three points off the lead. The next round of games are worth four points each.
Monterey Chris tabbed 14 of the Sweet 16. However, one miss was a team in the Elite Eight (Washington State) and the other was a national runnerup guess in Wisconsin. So, it's going to be hard for him to keep the lead.
Suffering Bruin tabbed 14 of the Sweet 16 as well. His two misses were teams he picked to win one more game (Texas and Wisconsin), but he's got his Final Four intact. This puts him in a spot, as professional gamblers like to say, where he's more likely to win.
It looks pretty likely that the contest will come down to the championship game barring a team like Butler or UNLV making it to the final. North Carolina seems to have very little support from the leaders. Ohio State and Florida are the more popular choices. If either of them go down before the Final Four, the contest will really open up.
Thursday's games will be from the West and South.
In San Jose, #1 Kansas plays #4 Southern Illinois at 4:10 pm PT with #2 UCLA playing #3 Pitt afterwards.
In San Anonio, #2 Memphis plays #3 Texas A&M at 4:27 pm PT (check your watch to make it sure it truly starts at 27 minutes past the hour) and #1 Ohio State plays #5 Tennessee after.
The Sweet Sixteen features:
California and Tennessee are the only states represented by more than one school.
There are just
UCLA and North Carolina both have played in the Final Four 16 times, although the NCAA only credits UCLA with 15 appearances as the 1980 trip was vacated.
Kansas has 12 Final Four trips, Ohio State has nine, Georgetown and UNLV have four, Florida has three, Memphis has two (both as Memphis State) as does USC, Oregon and Pittsburgh have one Final Four appearance each.
It is possible that there could be four first-time Final Four participants. I believe that has not happened since 1959 when Cal, West Virginia, Louisville, and Cincinnati all made their Final Four debuts. I could be wrong about this.
[ Day Four of the NCAA Tournament ]
Saturday seemed like an exciting day in the NCAA basketball tournament. I had to work. So I didn't see much except the end of the Butler-Maryland tilt and the end of the UCLA-Indiana UFC bout.
Again I will state that my 8th grade team at De La Salle School of Granada Hills scored more points in its game against Guardian Angel of Pacoima than UCLA and Indiana did. That game back in 1979 ended, I'm pretty sure 57-56 with 6 minute quarters. Ultimately, we missed the playoffs when we lost the tiebreaker rematch with Guardian Angel as their coach had to managed to figure out a way to beat our full court press. We would have played a zone defense, but our coach wasn't an Allstate agent. Interestingly, the team that won the league (we tied for second) was the only one that played a man-to-man defense. We couldn't score against them. That was Santa Rosa of San Fernando.
So now that you are thoroughly bored by tales of CYO basketball, on to today's agenda. Again all times PT
In the Griddle's contest, Monterey Chris (continuing his shameless plugs) leads with 43 points, just one ahead of Suffering Bruin and two ahead of jkm1927 and the mysterious "bobsbrother." And he had to list his Final Four in print in a newspaper.
Art Lopatka, 1919-2007
Art Lopatka, who pitched in just eight major league games passed away at age 87 on March 10 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Why is this obituary significant? Lopatka had his career cut short, according to his son in the article, when he hurt his hand after Del Ennis hit with a line drive in batting practice. Lopatka would later sue the Phillies for failing to treat his injury correctly and asked for $250,000, a pretty astounding amount for 1948. The Phillies settled out of court.
Lopatka then went on to a long and apparently quite fruitful career in business and also ran the Chicago Hornets franchise in 1949 in the All-American Football Conference.
[ Day Three of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
Tip of the hat to contest leader Monterey Chris, who tabbed 29 of 32 first round winners. Wins in the second round are worth double, so the leader will likely fluctuate throughout the next couple of days. I'm starting the day tied for 94th and ahead of people who just guessed, flipped a coin, or chose teams on the basis of whichever one had a stronger mascot.
Today's agenda, all times are PT, and the second games of the day in each city just have approximate start times.
A baseball Einstein passes away
Charles Einstein, who cowrote two of Willie Mays' biographies, Born to Play Ball and My Life In and Out of Baseball, passed away on March 7 in Michigan City, Indiana.
In addition to a long writing career for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Einstein also wrote for the TV series "Lou Grant." Einstein also edited the four volume Fireside Book of Baseball.
He was the son of comedian Harry Einstein, aka "Parkyakarkus", and was the half-brother of Albert Brooks, Dave Einstein (aka Super Dave Osborne), and Clifford Einstein, who is chairman of the board of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
One, but not done?
ESPN.com profiles Adam Greenberg whose major league career (with the Cubs) so far consists of one plate appearance and one pitch, a 92 mph fastball from Florida pitcher Valerio de los Santos. The pitch hit Greenberg in the back of the head.
Greenberg would suffer from severe headaches and vertigo which hampered his comeback chances with the Cubs and Dodgers organizations. Greenberg now is in the Royals organization.
De Los Santos has been out of the majors since 2005 as he says he has had nightmares about the pitch.
There is a companion piece about Fred Van Dusen of the 1955 Phillies who is the only other player whose only time in the majors consists of one plate appearance in which he was hit by a pitch. Van Dusen wasn't hurt by the pitch however.
Five other players have an HBP in their only plate appearance in the majors, although they have played in the field or pitched:
Rheinecker is still active, although he is an AL pitcher.
Place your bets, except on Bill Gullickson
Murray Chass of the New York Times wonders why if Pete Rose bet on the Reds every night to win when he was manager, he apparently didn't bet when Bill Gullickson started.
According to the Dowd report, which included a diary of bets that Rose made on Reds games and many others it listed bets on 390 games over all, 52 of them involving the Reds, in a three-month period in 1987 Rose developed a consistency of not betting on certain contests.
Gullickon's game log with the Reds in 1987 (via Retrosheet).
You can continue discussion of the NCAA tournament at the thread below.
[ Day Two of the NCAA Tournament Open Thread ]
Back to work today, so you will have to carry on without me for long stretches of the day.
Five people lead the contest with 15 of 16 correct choices.
Here's the agenda, the times listed are in PT and remember that the times listed for the second games of each doubleheader are approximate.
Passings (Bowie Kuhn, Helen Dedeaux)
Bowie Kuhn, the fifth Commissioner of Baseball, passed away in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida at the age of 80.
Kuhn presided over one of the most turbulent periods of baseball history, 1969-1984. There will be no shortage of retrospectives of his career in the coming days.
Also, Helen Dedeaux, the widow of longtime USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux passed away Saturday at age 92. The Dedeauxs had been married for 66 years until Rod's passing early last year.
You can continue discussing the NCAA tournament at the thread below.
[ Day One of the NCAA Tournament open thread ]
I consider the Opening Round game between Niagara and Florida A&M to be Day Zero.
You've had enough to read about all the doings today, but I'll just lay out the schedule for today, all teams PT. Why PT? Because that's where I am and I'm off work today and that's when I'm watching. Sadly, I'll be back on the job Friday and Saturday too.
In chronological order:
No, no, no! This can't be happening!
When will this nightmare end?
Just like MacArthur coming back to the Philippines
I'm sure the cheering could be heard all the way from Tucson to the South Side of Chicago.
All four of Podsednik's at-bats Wednesday were significant, but the best sign tied into his particular role for the 2007 season came late in the game. Podsednik tried to bunt the ball on two consecutive pitches and was successful on the second attempt, producing his third hit.
Pete Rose admits to betting on Reds 'every night'
On ESPN Radio today, Pete Rose admitted betting on baseball "every night".
"I bet on my team every night. I didn't bet on my team four nights a week. I was wrong," Rose said.
Pete can join the NCAA Tournament Pool, but there's not much payout for him.
Matthews issues statement
He seems ... sorry? Regretful? Ambivalent? Defensive?
I don't condone the use of illegal drugs. I support Mr. Moreno's strong stand against them. I have never taken HGH -- during the 2004 season or any other time. Nobody has accused me of doing so, and no law enforcement authority has said I am a target of any investigation for doing so.
I'd still let him sign up for the NCAA tournament contest. (Right now at 61 entries).
Rick Camp loses appeal
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Rick Camp, along with former Georgia state representative Robin Williams (who is presumably not an actor), and a third guy whom apparetnly isn't evenly remotely famous so his name is not mentioned here, lost an appeal in Federal Court in Atlanta today on charges of conspiring to steal more than $2 million from a mental health agency in East Georgia.
According to the AP story linked above, Camp will be facing a 37 month prison sentence. He had been working as a lobbyist after leaving baseball.
Another former Braves pitcher, Pat Jarvis, was sentenced to 15 months in prison back in 1999 for receiving up to $200,000 in kickbacks while serving as sheriff of DeKalb County, Georgia.
Camp's conviction makes him ineligible to compete in the Griddle's NCAA Tournament Contest.
[ Opening Round Open Thread ]
Now, I hope that all the Niagara fans and all the Florida A&M fans will chat together amiably here. I don't want to have to police things.
Yes, today is the day of the game that gives one of the little guys a chance to say that they won an NCAA tournament game. Of course it's sort of like when the NHL expanded in 1967 and put all the expansion teams in one division and then one of them would automatically make the Stanley Cup Final.
What do I know about Niagara? Well, for starters, it's a Catholic university in Niagara Falls, New York. The basketball team lost six of its first seven games because of several players were missing because of suspsensions. But the team rallied to finish 22-11 and beat Siena to win the MAAC.
What do I know about Florida A&M. I know that the A&M stands for "Agricultural & Mechanical." (The "A&M" in Texas A&M and Texas A&M Corpus Christi doesn't stand for anything anymore.) FAMU, as the school also styles itself, won the MEAC with a 21-13 record and beat Delaware State in the final. The Rattlers are probably best known for their marching band, The Marching "100", which actually has over 360 people in it. It's performed at Super Bowls and also was the official U.S. representative to the parade that the French held celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
'Sakura' in the new Nats park?
The plans for the new park for the Nationals in DC will feature cherry trees. The trees will not be in play but rather be placed beyond the left field bleachers.
This may be the most famous plant life in a park in that part of the country since the Orioles raised tomatoes in the bullpen at Memorial Stadium.
[ ] Picking Time
After running a contest for the Pac-10 tournament, it's time to move up to the big leagues. It's time for a contest the pick entire the NCAA tournament.
And instead of doing it myself, I've left the work to Yahoo. Commenter bhsportsguy set up our first private group, which can hold up to 250 entries. If need be, there is a back up.
You can find the link at Yahoo Sports (it's rather obvious). You want to join a private group, 94308. The password is "griddle". (case sensitive)
With more teams in the field, the stakes have gotten higher.
Scott Long over at The Juice blog has sponsored a contest before and he'll be letting you know about the previous winners and Scott will definitely have more opinions on the matter.
And now, thanks to my noncorporate sponsor, ToyCannon, there is a chance of an actual prize for the winner!
So, in addition to earning my unending respect and admiration, you can also help my clear bookshelf space! I have read all three books and they are all very good.
An end run around DirecTV?
Maury Brown in his Business of Baseball blog relates a Sports Business Journal about how Comcast may try to buy MLB.TV subscriptions in bulk and sell them at a discount to their subscribers to keep them from going to DirecTV.
MLBAM seems to not like this.
But just who is in charge of DirecTV, is it Chase Carey or his mustache?
I've made peace with the whole deal. I'm not getting DirecTV. I won't be getting MLB.TV either. I'll just watch my local teams and then just listen in to out of town games. I can live with out the dulcet tones of Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane on Devil Rays broadcasts.
Meanwhile, no installation required or southern exposure needed to join the Griddle's NCAA tournament contest.
How do you solve a problem like Gary?
Matthews, through his agent, apologized for being a distraction.
Speaking of distractions ...
Don't forget the Griddle's NCAA tournament contest. Win valuable prizes, such as my admiration!
[ Open thread ]
You can chat here about the NCAA basketball tournament. I'll likely run a contest (with the help of bhsportsguy) that will have a prize worth a sum somewhere between $0 and $0. But I promise to put the winner's name on the sidebar!
When there's no baseball news in New York...
The New York Times can always find time to write up a weepy feature about the Brooklyn Dodgers.
How many of these does the paper have canned and ready to go? I think Dave Anderson and George Vescey can just bring them up with a macro that was put into their computers.
And from this I can segue into a plug for a talk that a coworker and I will be giving on baseball literature and baseball history at the Central Libary of the Los Angeles Public Library on Thursday, April 5 at 12:15 pm. If you're in Downtown L.A., swing on by and feel free to heckle. Perhaps you can try to frighten me by wearing a Frank Robinson mask. Not that I think anyone makes Frank Robinson masks.
I'll be talking about baseball books, highlighting what I consider to be some of the best ones in my opinion. My coworker, Glen Creason of the History Department, will be having a talk about historic Los Angeles baseball stadiums. I believe I am designated to act all weepy over the demise of Gilmore Field.
Trojan Ron and Vishal both finished with 7 points and Trojan Ron won the tiebreaker by having both teams in the final.
D4P and Tom Meagher finished with 6 points.
Thanks for playing. I'll send Trojan Ron his valuable prize.
Pac-10 tournament: Day 4
Although it's just been four days, it seems like it's been more like 96 hours (more precisely 90 hours) at Staples Center for me. And now it's almost time for the championship game (tipoff should be 3:10 pm PT) and the right for one team to automatically go to the NCAA championship game and then engage in a semantic battle with UCLA over who was the "Pac-10 champion."
Today's game will match up the Ducks of Oregon (25-7), the #4 seed, and the Trojans of Southern California (23-10), the #3 seed. This is a rematch of the 2003 final, which Oregon won 74-56. That year Oregon was the #5 seed and USC was the #7 seed.
The Ducks have cruised in their first two games, easily dispatching Arizona (69-50) and Cal (81-63). Tajuan Porter has made 11 of 16 three point shots and scored 45 points in the first two games. Porter is three three-pointers short of teammate Chamberlain Oguchi's record for most three pointers in a Pac-10 tournament. The Ducks shot 62.5% from the field against the Bears.
USC had a bad first half in its opener against Stanford, but then rallied for an 83-79 overtime win, and then avenged two regular season losses with a 70-61 win over Washington State. Gabe Pruitt has hit 10 of 13 three pointers in the first two games and was 6 of 7 against the Cougars.
USC beat Oregon both times in the regular season. The Trojans handed Oregon their first loss of the season after a 13-0 start with an 84-82 win in Eugene on January 4. USC led 84-81 when Aaron Brooks was fouled on a three-point attempt with one second left. Brooks, one of the best free throw shooters in the conference, made the first, then missed the second, and had to deliberately miss the third to give Oregon a chance at a putback which didn't happen.
The Trojans beat Oregon again in Los Angeles on February 3 by a 71-68 margin. The Trojans led throughout and the Ducks made a late comeback to make the score close. That was during a stretch when the Ducks lost 6 of 8 games. But the Ducks have won their last five.
This will be the 100th time that USC and Oregon have played each other in basketball. USC leads the series 58-41. Surprisingly, for teams that have played each other in football as early as 1915, the two teams did not play each other in basketball until 1957. By comparison, Oregon has played intrastate rival Oregon State 327 times. USC has played UCLA in basketball 223 times.
The hotly contested Griddle contest is down to just two contestants:
Here are the updated scores. Vishal would also end up with 7 points if Oregon wins, the same as Trojan Ron, but since Trojan Ron has picked both teams in the final, he gets the tiebreaker edge.
Money builds strength!
The Seibu Lions are in trouble as an amateur team in Japan, called Tokyo Gas, has admitted that a Seibu scout paid one of its players.
In a press conference, Tokyo Gas team managers said the family
You know, I'm feeling very weak and I think I need something to help me build up my physical strength.
It's down to the end in the Griddle's contest
The quest for the $5 Amazon.com gift card (or something like that) is, like the Pac-10 tournament, down to two contestants.
1) Trojan Ron
If Oregon wins tomorrow, Trojan Ron wins with 7 points. Vishal would also have 7 points, but Trojan Ron gets the tiebreaker edge by having both finalists right.
If USC wins tomorrow, Tom Meagher wins with 7 points.
There could be 3 or 4 others who finish with 6 points.
Pac-10 tournament: Day 3
After plopping myself down in my seat at Staples Center at 12:20 pm, I finally got home at 11:40 pm. I felt sorry for the PA announcer, who was misidentifying players and was a bit tongue-tied at the end of the day. Probably didn't help him that the final game was between Washington and Washington State to further make it hard. And he referred to Washington State as "the Huskies" in the introductions, although he corrected himself.
But it's easier now with just two games tonight.
The first semifinal tips off at 6:20 pm PT between #4 seed Oregon (24-7) and #8 Cal (16-16).
The Ducks pounded Arizona by a surprisingly easy 69-50 margin. The Ducks made 11 of 20 three-pointers and Tajuan Porter made 5 of 6 from long distance. Porter led the Pac-10 in three-pointers made. Aaron Brooks scored 16 points and Arizona missed a whole lot of shots (21 of 60 from the field.)
Cal stunned #1 seed UCLA, 76-69 in overtime. The Bears had a 12-point lead at halftime, frittered it away in the second half, only to come back thanks to some clutch baskets by Ayinde Ubaka, who scored 29 points. The Bears made 8 three pointers and were second in the Pac-10 in that category with 223, behind Oregon's 279.
So it seems likely that this semifinal will be decided on the perimeter. The two teams split their earlier games this year. Cal beat Oregon last year in the semifinals, 91-87 in 2 OTs. Oregon beat Cal in a first round game in 2002, 87-82.
The second semifinal matches #2 seed Washington State (25-6) and #3 seed USC (22-10). The Cougars won both games over the Trojans this year in exciting fashion. Wazzu won in Los Angeles on December 30, rallying from a double-digit deficit to pull out a 58-55 win. The two teams met again last Saturday and the Cougars won 88-86 in 2 OTs.
Washington State beat intrastate rival Washington 74-64 and USC beat the other private school in the Pac-10, Stanford, 83-79 in overtime. Both teams won their games at the free throw line, each of them making 23 free throws to clinch their wins. Taylor Rochestie lead Wazzu with 20 points and Nick Young led USC with 26 points.
Wazzu has won the most games in a season since 1916-17. That team went 25-1 and was awarded a retroactive mythical national championship. The only team to beat Washington State that year was Cal in Berkeley by the score of 28-20. That team played just eight home games and 18 road games. The Cougars won 26 games in 1940-41 when they were the NCAA 2nd place team. That was also the last time the Cougars won a conference title.
USC won its only matchup against Wazzu in the Pac-10 tournament, 17 years ago in Tempe. USC won 85-68 in a 7-10 matchup.
As for the all-important Griddle contest, here are the updated scores.
I believe this is how the contest will shake out:
If the final is USC vs. Oregon and Oregon wins, the winner would be ... wait for it ... Trojan Ron.
If the final is Washington State vs. Oregon the winner would be Vishal, no matter who won the championship.
If Cal makes it to the final against USC and USC wins, I have a three-way tie to sort out and I've decided that Tom Meagher would win the tiebreaker over the two guys because he had more teams correct in the quarterfinals.
If Cal makes it to the final against USC and Cal wins, there would be a tie between D4P and Trojan Ron and there is no real good tiebreaker I could use, so I'd likely just give them both the prize mainly so D4P wouldn't bother me for the rest of my life.
If Cal makes it to the final against Washington State, and Washington State wins, Philip Michaels win. He would be tied with Vishal, but win the "picking the right champion" tiebreaker.
If Cal makes it to the final against Washington State, and Cal wins, then Vishal wins.
I will doublecheck, but since Vishal is the only person to have a chance to have both finalists correct, he is in good position to pull off the win. He's missed just one game and everybody missed that one as nobody picked UCLA to lose its first game.
Another note: On Wednesday, I remarked that the cover to the program featured five players: Jeff Pendergraph of ASU, Aaron Brooks of Oregon, Ayinde Ubaka of Cal, Nick Young of USC, and Derick Low of Washington State. Obviously, with the exception of Pendergraph, whose team was doomed from the start, there is no Pac-10 Tournament program jinx!
So Cubs fans, do you feel lucky and do you need a new sofa?
A furniture store in Libertyville, Ill. will let all items purchased between March 30 and April 29 be free (presumably you have to save the receipts) if the Cubs end up winning the World Series this year.
The link relates earlier promotions like this. A furniture store in Los Angeles did something similar last December, but over a shorter time period, and only for a win by UCLA over USC in football.
It's a furniture thing, you wouldn't understand.
Braves add All-Star to replace Hampton
With Mike Hampton out for a couple more months with an injury to his side, the Braves added another All-Star pitcher to replace him.
Unfortunately, this All-Star is Mark Redman.
Gene Oliver, 1935-2007
Gene Oliver, a backup catcher and first baseman in the majors for 10 seasons, as well as a beloved figure at Cubs fantasy camps and in his native Quad Cities area, passed away Saturday at the age of 71.
In his career, Oliver was once traded for Lew Burdette and another time for Bob Uecker.
Thanks to Chyll Will for the tip.
'Extra Innings' Does Not Equal Free Baseball
Pardon me while I tiptoe onto The Griddle in the midst of Bob's Pac-10 stupor to tell you that, 18 minutes after I opened this file, MLB and DirecTV were to officially announce their Extra Innings exclusivity deal, Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball lets us know.
Larry Stewart of the Los Angeles Times had more on the deal this morning:
Robert Jacobson, president and chief executive of In Demand, said the proposed MLB deal "is stunning in its disregard for baseball fans." ... Commissioner Bud Selig, attending spring training games in Phoenix over the weekend, told reporters the controversy over the deal is "ridiculous."
Day 2 of the Pac-10 tournament
It's going to be a very long day for me at Staples Center. The first game tips off at 12:20 pm PT between #4 seed Oregon (23-7) and #5 Arizona (20-9). The teams split their two games this year with each team winning on the road. Both teams have been considered Final Four contenders at times this year. But both hit hard times as the season rolled on. Arizona's defensive struggles and lack of depth hurt them. As for Oregon, a favorable home schedule early got them off to a good start and then they fell and fell hard. The Ducks managed to beat UCLA once and Washington State twice, but lost to Washington twice also. That is if you interpret the word "twice" in the previous sentence to mean "once." Kids today and their crazy talk.
The second game should start around 2:50 pm PT between #1 UCLA (26-4) and #8 Cal (15-16). The Bruins beat the Bears twice this year. UCLA beat Cal in the final last year. This year the Bruins shouldn't have too much trouble against a banged-up Cal team that doesn't have much going for it other than jacking up three point attempts. Cal did have a 34-2 run at one point Oregon State Wednesday night in its opening round game.
After that, Staples Center gets cleared out and I go forage for food and then head back in.
The third game starts at 6:20 and matches #3 USC (21-10) and #6 Stanford (18-11). The Trojans and Cardinal split their season series with each team winning at home. Both teams are coming in on a downward trend. The Cardinal have lost three of their last four and the Trojans lost their last two games. This game will eliminate a lot of the contestants in the Griddle contest. It's a tough game to handicap. The Trojans will be slight favorites as they are playing closer to home and are healthier.
The final game will start around 8:45 and matches #2 Washington State (24-6) and #7 Washington (19-12). The Huskies scrapped out a win over Arizona State Wednesday night and will try to avenge two regular season losses to the Cougars. The Cougars won by 28 in Pullman and by 4 in Seattle. Outside of conference play, the Huskies have no notable wins. Both teams played Gonzaga early in the year. The Huskies lost to the Zags by 20 and the Cougars won by 10. UW was playing in Spokane, but Wazzu was hosting Gonzaga in Pullman.
And now updated picks. Incorrect entries are in
There were no changes in the scoring rules.
Hampton gets hurt again
Braves pitcher Mike Hampton, trying to come back from reconstructive elbow surgery, now will miss the start of the regular season, after hurting his side and possibly breaking a rib, while taking batting practice.
Hampton hasn't pitched since August 19, 2005.
John Vukovich, 1947-2007
John Vukovich, who despite a career .161 batting average, played in parts of 10 seasons and on two World Series champs, and then served as a longtime coach (and interim manager) for the Phillies, passed away at age 59 today from the effects of a brain tumor.
Vukovich was on the 1975 Reds, but was traded to the Phillies in August. In 1980, Vukovich was joined on the squad by an unrelated player with the same surname, George Vukovich. The Cy Young Award winner for the Brewers was Pete Vuckovich.
Vukovich hit just six home runs in his career, but four of them were against a fairly august group: Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Mickey Lolich, and Sparky Lyle. Vukovich's homer against Koosman was a game-ending homer.
Time to tip off at Staples
The contest is closed!
Please tell me if you think I entered something incorrectly. The points total will change as I update it at the end of each day. It probably won't change online very quickly as I'm not all that motivated. The formatting may make it look like I cut off a "St." from "Washington". Examine your choice there closely to make sure I entered it right.
It will be a four-day basketball marathon for me. I'll likely not care who is playing come Saturday. But I'll do it anyway.
Of the 33 entries:
Someone just like me!
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports misses the World Baseball Classic this spring.
I guess it's just Jeff and I who are feeling wistful for a good Italy vs. Australia baseball game.
Still time for the Pac-10 tournament contest. It's up to 33 entries!
Eisner looks to get back into baseball in a way
Formey Disney Studios head Michael Eisner (and sort of, kind of owner of the then Anaheim Angels) could be getting back into baseball. But not with a team, instead he and his investment firm are trying to buy Topps, Inc.
Topps' board of directors is opposed to the buyout. And it's not that they don't like Eisner. They just want more money per share.
If Eisner really wants to score points with the makers of Bazooka bubble gum, he should show up at the next stockholders meeting wearing an eyepatch.
Still time to enter the Pac-10 tournament contest. Entries close at 5 pm PT Wednesday. There are presently 31 entries.
Spring training anecdotes, trivia, minutiae
Don't forget: The Pac-10 tournament contest is still open. There are 22 entries, although xeifrank and
El Lay Dave supplied a nicer looking bracket!
Additional rules for the Pac-10 Tournament contest: People who have turned in identical brackets were asked to send me their guess for the final score. That tiebreaker will work this way:
A person who picks the champion will have priority over someone with an equal score who has no teams left in the final. That is only the case in a tie. If you get a lot of points early and your pick for the final is out, you would still win if you have more points anyway.
Pac-10 tournament contest
By popular demand (at least two people!), I will be running a Pac-10 basketball tournament contest.
Here is how it will work:
Email me at the address listed on the side, your choices for all nine games from the first round on Wednesday through the championship on Saturday. You have until 5 pm PT on Wednesday to send me your picks.
Here is how it will be scored:
For example, one of the first games will be #7 seed Washington vs. #10 seed Arizona State. If you pick Washington and the Huskies win, you get one point. If you pick ASU and the Sun Devils win, you get three points.
The maximum points you could get for one team would be 27 if you picked ASU (#10) to beat Washington (#7), then Washington State (#2), then USC (#3), then UCLA (#1). You would get 3 + 8 + 7 + 9 = 27 points. However, the points could change if a pair of underdogs advance.
You need to email me your picks because I don't want any cutting and pasting.
If it looks like there will be a tie coming down to the championship game, I will email the interested parties a tiebreaker question, which will most likely be the final score.
The winner will get a $5 Amazon.com gift certificate. You can send your picks in through a "nom de email" and you can redeem it as you see fit.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. Don't leave your picks in the comments. I will delete them until after the deadline passes.
Today in Tucson, 6-3 TP!
Yesterday in Tucson, 3-1-6 TP!
Michael Garciaparra (aka Mia Hamm's brother-in-law) hit into the triple play today for Seattle against Arizona.
Steve Finley (aka a guy who once watched Mia Hamm play soccer on TV) hit into the triple play yesterday for Colorado against the Angels.
When your old boss was The Boss
Joe Molloy, who used to be George Steinbrenner's son-in-law and a Yankee executive until he divorced The Boss's daughter, is applying now for a less stressful job, Superintendent of the West Ottawa Public Schools, according to the Grand Rapids Press.
Molloy has listed Steinbrenner as a job reference. Presently, Molloy works as an assistant principal at a middle school in Tampa.
I hear that not a lot of people can hold up under the media scrutiny that West Ottawa normally has.
Thanks to the Michigan bureau of the Griddle.
Courage, people, courage
The favorite player of the majority of my readership is out for two weeks with an injury to his side.
Aaron Miles and Jolbert Cabrera will now get more playing time at shortstop for the Cardinals in spring training.
Let the record reflect that I actually like David Eckstein, but I'm shamefully playing to my public.
Can't he take up golf or shuffleboard or fishing or macrame?
My archenemy has rejoined the Commissioner's Office.
Commissioner Selig said: "I am delighted that Frank has decided to rejoin us at Major League Baseball. Besides being a baseball legend, Frank has a wealth of knowledge about the game from every conceivable point of view. We are grateful to have the opportunity once again to tap into his knowledge and experience."
My coffee isn't ready yet, avoiding an unfortunate Danny Thomas-like situation.
DirecTV speaks up for itself
Chase Casey, president of DirecTV, defended his company's potential exclusive deal to carry Extra Innings.
"DirecTV will do for Extra Innings what we have done for other programming: transform a service that had enjoyed limited popularity when offered by multiple [distributors] into a fan's dream," Mr. Carey said.
Carey claims that only 230,000 Extra Innings subscribers were not on DirecTV and that only 5,000 of those people wouldn't be able to receive DirecTV.
It is not true that Carey has hired Kevin Malone to do the marketing for this deal. Nor has Carey decided that Mike Piazza cannot appear on any DirecTV programming.
Link via BTF
UPDATE - In the letter Carey wrote to the FCC, the deal was described as done, but DirecTV has backed off on that.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times has his take on Carey's claims.
The common thread
The two players connected with the possible illegal prescriptions of HGH from an Alabama pharmacy have one thing in common.
Gary Matthews, Jr. and Jerry Hairston, Jr.
I think not.
I'd call that a bargain...
That is if Pat Gillick could sing songs by The Who.
Put me in ... me
In this photo of new Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez watching his team take on the Orioles in a spring training game, note that Gonzalez is watching with a mitt on his left hand.
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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