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Tag:Bob Dylan
Posted on: March 15, 2011 7:05 pm
 

News is good for A's on Andrew Bailey

PHOENIX -- Score one for closer Andrew Bailey and the A's.

Following Monday's very serious scare, news out of Alabama a day later left Oakland breathing a huge sigh of relief: Bailey was diagnosed with a strained right forearm during a visit to renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Alabama. According to the team, there is no structural damage.

Prescription: Rest.

Which is significantly better than it appeared on Monday when Bailey clutched at his elbow, held his arm close to his body and walked off of the mound in pain during a Cactus League game. Bailey has a checkered health history with his elbow, dating back to undergoing Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery when he was in college.

More recently, Bailey, a two-time All-Star, was shut down two weeks early in 2010 and underwent a surgery to "clean out" his elbow.

That's why the sight of him coming off the mound Monday was so disheartening ... and why news that the injury is just a strain is so welcome.

"Any time a pitcher comes out of a game like Andrew did, you hold your breath," A's president and general manager Billy Beane said in a statement. While there is no timetable on his return, this is welcome news."

Because Bailey will not resume throwing until there are no more symptoms of the strain, and that could range from days to weeks, there remains a very good chance that he opens the season on the disabled list, but even missing a couple of weeks of the season -- or whatever it turns out to be early -- sure beats another surgery.

Especially after it threw such a scare into the Athletics.

"That was possibly the toughest moment going in to pitch of any game of my life," said Brad Ziegler, who was summoned when Bailey left. "If it's a little discomfort, it would be one thing. But he was doubled over in pain. It was like, 'Oh my gosh.'"

Speaking Tuesday morning before the extent of Bailey's injury was known, Ziegler said, "It might be real serious, but we're all hoping some scar tissue became loose. I don't even know if that's realistic.

"We're all just thinking about him and praying for him."

Now, sooner rather than later, they'll get Bailey back.

Sunblock Day: Nice and consistent at 86 degrees. Bring lots of sunblock and, here in the desert, lots of water.

Likes: Bracket time. ... The Chrysler Sebring convertible to which the nice rental car lady gave me the keys upon arrival here nearly two weeks ago. The top has been down much of the time. Fabulous. ... Mavis Staples' You Are Not Alone, produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. I've mentioned this before, but this disc is phenomenally good. ... Jimmy Buffett over the sound system in spring training parks. ... Oregano's still has its fastball. Several locations throughout the Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale areas, and I'm here to tell you, the thin crust pizza is outstanding and the pizza cookie dessert is killer (half-baked cookie with ice cream over it). ... The tortilla-encrusted halibut at Rokerij in Phoenix the other night. Best dinner option in the valley.

Dislikes: Subway remains a go-to lunch place when I'm in a hurry and want to eat something relatively healthy. But I have to say, I've been angry with them for years now since they went to Coke products and eliminated the Mountain Dew.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
"Dignity never been photographed
"I went into the red, went into the black
"Into the valley of dry bone dreams
"So many roads, so much at stake
"So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
"Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
"To find dignity"

-- Bob Dylan, Dignity

 

Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

JUPITER, Fla. -- Outtakes from the Cardinals camp and Albert Pujols watch Wednesday:

-- Reaction from the Pujols side Wednesday came in the form of a statement from agent Dan Lozano:

"After engaging in discussions with the St. Louis Cardinals Organization, we have suspended further negotiations until after the conclusion of the 2011 season, due to today's self-imposed deadline.  At the beginning of this process, Albert decided a timetable needed to be established in which we would negotiate.  We exchanged proposals with the Cardinals during that time.  While both parties were hopeful that an agreement could be reached, a difference of opinion in determining Albert's value simply could not be resolved.  Albert's production over the last 10 years is nothing short of historic.  He is not only the best player in baseball, and on his way to having a Hall of Fame career, but an iconic figure in sports.  The expiration of today's deadline does not eliminate the possibility of Albert returning to the Cardinals in 2012, but simply delays negotiations until the conclusion of the Cardinals' season.

"Albert's decision to suspend negotiations until after the season is made out of respect to his teammates, coaching staff and the Cardinals Organization.  He wants to prevent this issue from becoming a distraction throughout the year.  Albert cares a great deal about his teammates, manager Tony La Russa, and his coaching staff and respects their ability to prepare each and every day.  Albert has also decided that he will not discuss his contract status for the duration of the season, including Spring Training.  He asks the media to please respect this request.  Albert would also like to reassure the Cardinals Nation that he is determined to bring a World Championship back to the city of St. Louis.  He feels as strongly as ever that this team has the potential to win the World Series.  That alone is why he will not permit his contractual situation to become a distraction or take away from his ability to reach that goal."

-- One reason the Cardinals remain reasonably confident -- publically, at least -- that they can still retain Pujols is because of the tenor of the negotiations. "I don't think any bridges were burned in the process," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Looking toward next year, I don't think we put ourselves in a bad position."

-- Sometimes, enough isn't enough. As Cardinals Chairman of the Board Bill DeWitt Jr. reminded Wednesday, back when Pujols signed his current seven-year, $100 million deal with the Cards in February, 2004, it was considered a very, very big deal.

Now, as for any regrets during the current talks, which broke down and did not result in a new deal by Pujols' self-imposed noon deadline?

"I regret that that contract wasn't longer," DeWitt cracked. "I remember this specifically. Some of my contemporaries at MLB at the time said, 'That's a long contract.' I remember saying, 'It won't be long enough.' And here we are."

-- DeWitt on whether there is a parallel with the Yankees/Derek Jeter negotiations this past winter (Pujols is 31, Jeter 36): "I think one difference is where they are in their careers when they're hitting free agency. With Albert and the city, it does parallel. Ownership and the front office here are looking at the positive, we're not looking at the negative side through the media. I think there's a stark difference there."

-- Great line from ace Chris Carpenter as the ace pitcher was leaving after practice around 11:30 a.m. while walking by a group of reporters toward his car: "He's STILL not here?!" Speaking, of course, of Pujols.

Sunblock Day? While it may have felt colder to the Cardinals, it was a beautiful, 75-degree day here in Jupiter with plenty of sun.

Likes: Cameron Maybin ripping Panda Express ... and then reversing course when he found that one of the Padres' minority owners owns Panda Express. Very comical. ... Dave O'Brien, the excellent Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, took a motorcycle ride with new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Then they pulled off the road, did an interview and the very well-done result is here. ... It was released last summer, but the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. re-issue is well worth it. ... A new Drive-By Truckers disc, Go-Go Boots. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. ... Mick Jagger was pretty impressive at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. ... Blue Valentine. Hard movie to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are terrific. ... The blackened grouper at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter. Still.

Dislikes: Went back to the rental car counter the other day to get a map, then walked back to what I thought was my Nissan Altima, opened the driver's side door ... and startled a man who was sitting behind the wheel preparing to leave. He wasn't trying to steal my car, though. Yep, it was me -- I walked up to the wrong vehicle.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Broken bottles broken plates
"Broken switches broken gates
"Broken dishes broken parts
"Streets are filled with broken hearts
"Broken words never meant to be spoken
"Everything is broken"

-- Bob Dylan, Everything is Broken

Posted on: June 10, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Playing cat-and-mouse with Reyes and Hundley

The Mets were busy finishing up with San Diego for 2010 during Thursday's day-night doubleheader, which means as Jose Reyes takes his speed game toward the next destination, the cat-and-mouse between him and Padres catcher Nick Hundley will go on hiatus until 2011.

The games-within-the-games are always fascinating, and I bring up Hundley here for one simple reason:

For his career, Reyes was a perfect 22 for 22 in stolen bases until Hundley threw him out at second base in the fifth inning of a game in San Diego on June 1.

"Oh, I didn't know that!" the charismatic Reyes said enthusiastically when I informed him that he had been perfect against the Padres to that point.

Then, he grinned and added: "I think I was safe. I don't even know that he tagged me in time."

What makes Reyes especially dangerous on the bases, Hundley said, is that he's so sneaky.

"He's really quiet," Hundley says. "To me, it looks like he's the same on every pitch.

"That trait is good to have if you're a base stealer. When you're cat-like, you don't give anything away."

Most base-stealers, Hundley said, give something away with their body language. A lean-toward-second here. A hand-movement there.

Reyes doesn't.

"There are some great base-stealers," Hundley said. "[Houston's] Michael Bourn, Reyes. But Reyes, for me, is a little different. He takes a walking lead. There's a little more rhythm. Bourn flat-out burns. Reyes is casual. He'll lull you to sleep."

Reyes said it's something he's worked on for years, and when the Mets brought Rickey Henderson in as a coach a few years ago, that learning process accelerated.

"I try to pick my spots, and I don't want to be too anxious," Reyes said. "If I'm anxious, they'll say, 'He's going to go at one point.' I try to be quiet. I learned that.

"When I was younger, I used to be crazy, like I wanted to go on every pitch."

Reyes led the NL in steals from 2005-2007, but since serious hamstring troubles have plagued him over the past couple of seasons, being quiet and cat-like on the bases is more important than ever to his success rate. And, by definition, to that of the Mets: They're 19-6 when he scores this season, and 267-110 (.708) in games since 2005 when he scores.

"He's smooth, he doesn't force it and he runs in good spots," Hundley said.

And he gives no clues that he may just take off for second or third in the next second.

"If you find a tip," Hundley said, "let me know."

Likes: OK, you healthy people in the crowd, here's PETA's ranking this year of baseball's most vegetarian-friendly ballparks (and it's entertaining that the city best known for Philly cheesesteaks ranks first): 1. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. 2. AT&T Park, San Francisco. 3. Minute Maid Park, Houston. 4. Comerica Park, Detroit. 5. Coors Field, Colorado. ... TBS switching from Phillies-Boston to Nationals-Indians for their Sunday afternoon game of the weeke this weekend. They must really think a lot of rookie Nats reliever Drew Storen. Ah, wait, that's Stephen Strasburg's day to pitch. ... Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese is a friendly and earnest kid -- and plenty talented. ... Last day of school. ... First day of summer vacation. ... A former Miss America playing Mrs. George Custer for Monroe's celebration of the 100th anniversary of it's lovely Gen. George Armstrong Custer statue.

Dislikes: Just how wacked out are Frank and Jamie McCourt? Answer: Very, very, extremely wacked out.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
"Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
"The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
"Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
"Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
"With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
"Let me forget about today until tomorrow
"Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
"I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
"Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
"In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you"

-- Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

 

Posted on: May 26, 2010 1:26 am
 

Big Mac, small fries on St. Louis scoreboard

If you're wondering whether there might be a correlation between St. Louis ranking 11th in the NL in runs scored and controversial new batting coach Mark McGwire ... don't even go there around the Cardinals.

At least, not when Big Mac is just seven regular-season weeks into the job.

"I've been really impressed by him," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa says. "He's got a relationship with everybody. He's done a good job of making things clear that he's here for them.

"He's everything that we thought he'd be, except I think he's got an even better feel for coaching as far as communicating. He's got a good message, he cares a lot."

Aside from Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, the Cardinals are fielding a fairly young lineup in rookie third baseman David Freese, center fielder Colby Rasmus, second baseman Skip Schumaker and even right fielder Ryan Ludwick.

So there is a learning curve that at times has gone along with the early struggles of Holliday and, in the month of May, Pujols.

Case in point: First inning of St. Louis' 1-0 loss in San Diego on Tuesday night, with one out and the bases loaded, Rasmus whiffed.

"He's got to put that ball in play there," La Russa said afterward. "He'll learn."

Among what Rasmus is learning, from McGwire and through experience: Two-strike technique. How to cut down on his swing and better defend the plate, which will leave him -- and, by extension, the Cardinals -- less vulnerable.

Led by La Russa and McGwire, the Cardinals continue to work through it. Heading into this trip, they ranked ninth in the NL in on-base percentage and 10th in slugging percentage.

"He's a great person," says Holliday, who has worked with McGwire in past winters in Orange County, Calif. "He's real easy to work with, real positive. I think he's doing a real good job.

"He's a real cool guy. Somebody you enjoy being around, and somebody you enjoy talking hitting with."

Likes: Fabulous pitching duel between St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and San Diego's Jon Garland in the Padres' 1-0 win Tuesday night at -- where else? -- Petco Park. Wainwright equaled a career-high 12 strikeouts and had his killer curveball going wherever he wanted it to. Garland now is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA over his past eight starts and is 3-0 with an 0.84 ERA in five Petco Park starts in 2010. ... The squirrel that ran onto Target Field on Tuesday night in the rain at the Yankees-Twins game and frantically looked for cover running the warning track while the crowd chanted, "Let's go squirrel! Let's go squirrel!" ... St. Louis rookie third baseman David Freese. Good-looking player. ... Who said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was done? Sure am glad I never ventured anywhere near THAT prediction. ... Toronto manager Cito Gaston. ...  ... Really enjoying Hampton Sides' gripping book Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin. If you like history or have any interest in the subject matter, I highly recommend it. ... Bob Dylan's 69th birthday this week.

Dislikes: Somebody stole the Drive-By Truckers' backdrop for their shows earlier this month from the House of Blues in San Diego. You've got to be kidding me. That's so weak.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was so much older then
"I'm younger than that now"

-- Bob Dylan, My Back Pages

Posted on: May 6, 2010 8:19 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2010 9:09 pm
 

Glavine makes his next pitch

Most ironic development in the 2010 season?

Retired ace pitcher Tom Glavine, now a special assistant to Braves president John Schuerholz, signing on as a spokesman for the company that developed and licensed the technical aspects of a certain computer program to ... Questec.

As in, the computerized strike-zone grading mechanism that caused freaked-out umpires to squeeze the zone a few years back ... which nearly blew up Glavine's golden years in the game.

Funny how in life our enemies can become friends, and vice-versa, huh?

The pitching program Glavine liked well enough to sign on with is called PitchSight, and it was developed by L-3 Communications of Burlington, Mass., about a year-and-a-half ago.

In a nutshell, PitchSight is a computer-based system that has the capability of tracking a number of elements designed to aid a pitcher's growth and development. Two cameras and a computer help spit out graphs charting a pitcher's release point, pitch speed, arm angle, the break of a pitch and the location of a pitch.

The intent is that by using the program, a pitcher will be better able to repeat arm angles, pitches and other technical aspects that needs repeating to be successful.

Glavine, who won 305 games in the majors and should be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2014, likes and believes in PitchSight for several reasons.

"It's pretty simplistic -- there are not a lot of bells and whistles," he says. "You can get instantaneous feedback. You can be in the middle of a bullpen session, stop and immediately dial up a pitch and get information that is pertinent with no guesswork.

"One thing that separates it from video is that in video, there's some gray area as to what you think you're feeling and what you see when you're watching."

By its graphic nature, Glavine says, with PitchSight, "what you see is what you get. There is no guesswork."

"Virtually every year down the stretch, I'd go through a period where I wasn't comfortable," says Glavine, who also offered tips and helped tweak the program while it was in development. "Sometimes you feel way off when in actuality you may be only a little off. Sometimes you feel just a little off when in actuality you may be way off.

"Sometimes you'd watch video, but there was still room for interpretation."

Glavine thinks this program would have helped him ("I'm not saying I would have won 100 more games").

And just think, if he's right, it probably could have done so with far fewer words than it took, say, former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

"And less expletives," Glavine says, chuckling.

The system sells for $30,000, plus installation. Ken Riddle, L-3 Communications vice-president, says Boston College is among those currently testing the system. The company is hoping its system will catch on with some major-league teams, which it thinks could benefit in expediting the development of younger pitchers in minor-league systems.

As for the idea that it's revenge for Questec?

"This is absolutely something to help pitchers out," Riddle says, chuckling. "I'm not sure I'd call it revenge. It's a different application of technology."

Or, as Glavine says, "You're stealing an evaluation tool pitchers were not real fond of, and now it could be an evaluation tool that is beneficial to pitchers. That's why I like it."

Likes: Still love the XM radio baseball package where you can listen to every game every night (and the MLB Extra Innings package on the tube, too). If only XM had been around a couple of decades ago, just think how many folks could have heard Ernie Harwell then. ... How about the play of Andruw Jones this year? White Sox fans may love it, but Dodgers fans surely are thinking about how badly Jones stole Los Angeles' money. Michigan summers. ... The Hold Steady at the Belly-Up Tavern in San Diego (actually, Solana Beach) on Tuesday night. Their new disc, Heaven is Whenever, sounds great and the show was stellar. Constructive Summer and Stay Positive were among the many standout numbers in the live show. ... These opening acts for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' summer tour: Joe Cocker, Drive-By Truckers, ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, My Morning Jacket and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Now that's strong. ... Finally, season four of Friday Night Lights debuts on Friday night. Nice job, NBC, keeping it on ice for so long that it again faces long odds of getting good ratings. Talk about giving a great show no chance. Of course, there was no room on the schedule, I know, with the lame Jay Leno 10 p.m. show going.

Dislikes: Farewell, Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. What a bad week. First Ernie Harwell, now the ace of the Phillies 1950 Whiz Kids.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Mama, take this badge off of me
"I can't use it anymore
"It's gettin' dark, too dark to see
"I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Mama, put my guns in the ground
"I can't shoot them anymore
"That long black cloud is comin' down
"I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door"

-- Bob Dylan, Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Wellemeyer close to lock as Giants' No. 5 starter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco's sole remaining starter's slot crystallized a bit more on Tuesday when the Giants optioned phenom Madison Bumgarner to their minor-league camp, all but officially anointing veteran right-hander Todd Wellemeyer as the fifth starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.

Officially, right-hander Kevin Pucetas is still in the running for a starting job, but Wellemeyer's major-league resume appears to give him a clear edge.

"He's got the experience and he's done a great job this spring," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Wellemeyer. "We're very pleased with where we're at with Todd."

Bumgarner, just 20, debuted for the Giants last summer. The Giants' first-round pick in the 2007 draft arrived ahead of schedule, which probably served to raise expectations a bit too high for the kid this spring.

"We want him to work on some things," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Control the ball a little better. He's 20 years old. He's got a bright future. We think a lot of him."

Bumgarner had a 6.43 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, and had been expected to be sent to the minors. The only mild surprise was that it came with two weeks remaining in camp. The Giants thought Bumgarner was pressing too hard, and they wanted to remove the pressure and allow him to relax.

"We want him to work on his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "And with the way Wellemeyer is throwing the ball, it makes sense to let Madison go down and pitch."

The Giants signed Wellemeyer, 31, about a week before spring camp started. Their original idea was to use him as a long reliever, even though he spent much of the past two seasons starting in St. Louis. This spring, though, he's gone 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings pitched -- literally pitching his way into the rotation.

Sunblock Day? Just when you thought spring was here ... woke up to a hard rain in the desert. It was wet enough it forced the Giants to hit in the batting cages in Scottsdale and the White Sox to do the same in Glendale. Cloudy and mid-50s early morning, cloudy and low-to-mid-60s at game time.

Likes: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes back to baseball on Wednesday. At least, that's what the doctors are saying, and you can bet the happiest man in Port St. Lucie will be Reyes -- followed by Mets manager Jerry Manuel. ... Pablo Sandoval hitting for the Giants. He ripped a double into the right-center gap in a Cactus League game on Tuesday on a pitch practically at his shoe tops. ... Divorcing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in Bob Nightengale's USA Today piece Tuesday: "Tiger Woods was fantastic for me." ... As my friend Ed Price, who writes for AOL/Fanhouse, points out, there could be three opening day starters who didn't throw one pitch in 2009: Toronto's Shaun Marcum, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and Oakland's Ben Sheets. ... Quite a look for Giants closer Brian Wilson as he strolled into the clubhouse Tuesday morning wearing bright lavender pants, white sunglasses and a Mohawk. Newcomer Aubrey Huff couldn't help hooting. ... Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline remains terrific after all these years. ... I'm told Ghost Writer is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing it. ... The Cajun rib eye at Donovan's steakhouse. Talk about flavorful.

Dislikes: Nearing the end of spring training and no trips to Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico, the fabulous Phoenix restaurant that burned last summer.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It¹s not having what you want
"It¹s wanting what you¹ve got"

-- Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun

Posted on: March 15, 2010 10:51 am
 

Masterson master of destiny with Cleveland

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson is off the yo-yo string. His days of bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in Boston are over.

Now, all he has to do is prove he can start in Cleveland.

The Indians have plenty of questions as they turn things over to the kids, and how Masterson fares is high atop the list. Acquired as part of the Victor Martinez trade last July, the 25-year-old right-hander is hoping to complete his first full season as a starter this summer since 2007.

Boston's second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Masterson made his major-league debut just two years later, appearing in 36 games and starting nine for the Red Sox. That fall, in '08, he became the seventh-youngest pitcher ever to win a postseason game for the Red Sox (23 years and 208 days).

With the Red Sox loaded with pitchers, he broke camp with the team in 2009 as a reliever but moved into the rotation after only four relief appearances when Daisuke Matsuzaka was disabled. Masterson wound up appearing in 31 games for the '09 Sox, starting six of them.

He was traded to Cleveland on July 31, whereupon he made one relief appearance before finishing the season with 10 consecutive starts. He went 1-7 with a 4.55 ERA for the Indians, putting him in a classic spring position now: Happy to be given a clean slate in a new place, where the sky is the limit

"It's a real fun place," Masterson says. "What's also interesting is that there's a lot of energy here, but not the nervousness that comes with it. These guys believe they can play."

Sunblock Day? It's into the 70s and predicted to be into the 80s by week's end. Better late than never.

Likes: Cubs manager Lou Piniella, in describing pitcher Ted Lilly's low-key rehabilitation from arthroscopic shoulder surgery over the winter: "We want to keep him under the radar gun and not talk about it much." Not sure if Lou wants to keep him low profile this spring or keep Lilly's velocity down. ... Gotta love that spring training team bonding. There was a signup sheet on the door to the Indians' clubhouse the other day entitled "Bull Riding Event" at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. And there were 17 Indians' players signed up to attend. ... Arizona manager A.J. Hinch says that Conor Jackson, who missed almost all of last season with Valley Fever, is swinging to well this spring that he wishes he could put Jackson "on ice" until opening day. I don't think he meant that literally, but you get the drift. ... Cool that actress Betty White will host Saturday Night Live's Mother's Day show in May. ... New discovery: Frank & Lupe's Mexican joint in Old Scottsdale. Outstanding fish tacos there the other night. ... Exactly how Bob Dylan came to record the old children's song This Old Man, I don't know. But it's here, and it's highly entertaining.

Dislikes: RIP Merlin Olsen, who seemed like one of the nicest men on the planet.


Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"He's going back to New York, pack it up and let everyone know
"It was something that he should have done such a long time ago
"Still time to start a new life in the palm trees
"Ah, Billy Clyde wasn't insane
"And if it doesn't work out
"There'll never be any doubt
"That the pleasure was worth all the pain"

-- Jimmy Buffett, The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

 

Posted on: October 1, 2009 6:11 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2009 6:12 pm
 

Short Hops: The Sequel

 If Detroit hangs on and wins the AL Central, the Tigers' key in their first-round series against the Yankees will come long before that series begins: They need to make sure their race with Minnesota doesn't go down to the last day on Sunday so they don't have to burn ace Justin Verlander. If the Tigers are to upset the Yankees in the first round, it's going to be because Verlander, Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson pitch the games of their lives.

 Here's one small glimpse into why it's working so well in Colorado: Just before closer Huston Street was shelved earlier this month with biceps tendinitis, he was warming up to enter a game with the New York Mets when the phone rang in the Rockies' dugout. It was a call from bullpen coach Jim Wright, who had watched Street and seen enough. While Street was hoping to pitch through his soreness, Wright told Tracy that the closer didn't look right. So Tracy opted to go elsewhere in the pen for a reliever and the Rockies shut Street down. Though Street has blown two save opportunities since coming back, he still should help the Rockies in the playoffs. And if he does, credit an observant bullpen coach with a save.

 So Minnesota will take its slim chances into the final weekend of baseball in the Metrodome's history, heading home and straight into Kansas City ace Zack Greinke on Friday night. It will be the second time in five days the Twins will face him. Good luck with that.

 Attention, Phillies and Yankees: Angels manager Mike Scioscia the other day said Bobby Abreu is his team's MVP. Why? "For one simple reason: The balance he's provided on the offensive side," Scioscia says. Abreu's .394 on-base percentage leads the Angels, and almost as important, he's really helped the maturation of fellow Latin players Kendry Morales, Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar. Scioscia also qualified his pick, saying he would have gone with Torii Hunter as team MVP had Hunter not been injured (adductor muscle) an missed three weeks at midseason.

 You do the math ... on second thought, forget it, it's too tiring: Giants coach Tim Flannery figures coaches hit 44,000 fungoes a year. And he's been coaching 14 years. So he figures he's hit some 616,000 fungoes in his life ... and counting.

 No word yet from Giants owner Bill Neukom on whether general manager Brian Sabean and field manager Bruce Bochy will be offered contract extensions. Sabean and Bochy each is in the last season of his deal. Bochy has grown to love San Francisco and hopes to return.

 Ugh: Kansas City went 33-48 in Kauffman Stadium, it's second-worst home record ever. The worst: 29-51 in 1998.

 Now Jose Reyes has a torn right hamstring and will require surgery, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. And the clock is underway regarding whether he's going to go down as one of the great, unfulfilled talents in Mets history.

 I see Philadelphia lefty Jamie Moyer headed for season-ending surgery at 46 (groin), and I think: Now I know exactly why he dug up the pitching rubber and lugged it home from the clinching World Series game -- his first -- last fall. As a dying Warren Zevon told David Letterman, "Enjoy every sandwich." In the twilight of his career, Moyer is a guy who always has done just that.

 Did you see that when Oakland's Matt Carson hit his first career homer the other day, the fan who caught the ball wouldn't return it without a large ransom? The A's wouldn't do it, and Carson didn't get the ball (though he does have the bat). If I'm the A's, I find out who that greedy pig fan is and make sure he's never allowed to purchase another ticket to an Oakland game. What a jerk.

Likes: Bruce Springsteen opening a five-night stand at Giants Stadium with a new song, Wrecking Ball video here from the Newark Star-Ledger). The guy is unbelievable. It's just the latest example that you never, ever know what you're going to see when you see Bruce and the E St. Band. They are Willie Mays in his prime, Magic Johnson at his peak. Sure hope to catch another couple of shows before the tour ends in November. You owe it to yourself to do so, too, if you can. ... Those old black and yellow Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms were so ugly, but I'll tell you what, they look beautiful every time I see Willie Stargell leaping up and down in clips from the 1979 World Series. ... Greatest newspaper headline I've seen this year, and it ran a couple of months ago but I forgot to pass it along: From the Trentonian newspaper, Hide Your Beagle, Vick's an Eagle.

Dislikes: Cougar Town. I happened to be home last week and, against my better judgment, watched the season premiere. I'm sorry I did. It was embarrassingly bad. Suffice to say, I didn't make it to the second episode this week. ... Didn't much care for I Love You, Man on the Netflix video program, either. Funny coarse and vulgar is one thing. But this was that, without the funny.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now"

-- Bob Dylan, My Back Pages

 
 
 
 
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