Friday, July 30, 2010

Radio announcer pretends game is still going on so he doesn't have to go home to crazy wife

From the Wait 'til this Year Humor Vault

BALTIMORE--Radio play-by-play announcer Joe Angel pretended the Baltimore Orioles' game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday was still going on hours after it was completed so that he wouldn't have to go home to his "nutcase of a wife." When Miguel Tejada was thrown out at first to end the game 7-6 in favor of the Blue Jays, Angel said, "And the throw gets away! Tejada is around first and he'll make it to second!" As the Camden Yards crowd filed out, Angel reported that Adam Jones knocked in Tejada to tie the game. Though Angel's announcing partner packed up and left for home, Angel continued to make up game action all the way into the fake 15th inning. He then announced that Ty Wigginton hit a game-winning home run once he was "pretty sure that bitch was asleep." The Orioles decided not to fire Angel, saying that his life is bad enough already.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Throwing a no-hitter is the new hitting 50 home runs

In the late '90s we learned that chicks dig the long ball. Bud Selig and Major League Baseball better hope that, a decade later, chicks and dudes dig the fastball. It seems that throwing a no-hitter is the new hitting 50 home runs.

There are perhaps several reasons that balls began flying out of ballparks at a record pace in the 1990s--more tightly wound, "lively" balls; expansion leading to an influx of unqualified pitchers--but one of course stands out: steroids. From 1875 until 1994, the 50 home run mark was reached 18 times. From 1995 through 2007, hitters cracked the half-century mark 24 times. Swinging for the fences--and doing so successfully--was the thing to do. The long ball is what baseball became for a decade. Even Brady Anderson got into the swing of things. Sammy Sosa hit 64 home runs in 2001 ... and lost the home run race by nine.

But pitchers have come back with a vengeance. No hitter has eclipsed the 50 mark since 2007, and the home run leader at this year's All-Star break had fewer than any hitter since 1991. Matt Garza just tossed the majors' fifth no-hitter this season, six if you count Armando Galarraga's imperfect game. There were five total no-hitters from 2002-2006.

One more no-hitter would tie 1991's total of seven, also accomplished in 1990, and would come one shy of 1884's record-setting total of eight, meaning there's a decent chance there will be more no-hitters this season than in any other in MLB history. There have already been more perfect games this year than in any other season (if you count Galarraga's).

Prior to 1990, you have to go back to 1969 to find another year of six or more (there were six). There were five in 1968, the so-called Year of the Pitcher, after which they lowered the freakin' mound just to give the hitters a chance, so there have now been more no-hitters through July of this season than there were in the Year of the Pitcher. There were also six in 1917, 1915 and 1908.

So while in 1995-2007 the 50 home run mark became the unique, newsworthy accomplishment in the baseball world, in 2010 it's the no-hitter. Not allowing a hit is in. It's vogue. It's a feat that's supposed to be rare and glorious but is suddenly becoming ordinary and expected. Why was I not shocked to find out that in the 6th inning of Garza's no-hitter, the opposing pitcher had yet to allow a hit himself? Another no-hitter leading off SportsCenter? Yawn. Edwin Jackson (6-9, 5.01 ERA) did that. Dallas Braden (5-7, 3.77) did that. I can barely remember everyone who's done it, just like you may not recall that Luis Gonzalez belted 50 home runs, Andruw Jones did it too, and Sammy Sosa did it three different times.

No one knows for sure if this no-hitter trend will continue for years like the home run onslaught did, or if this is simply a one-year aberration. But for the moment, it looks like one unexpected trend--hitting 50 or more home runs in a season--has been replaced by a far less sexy but no less impressive one--no-hitting the opposition.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Humor Vault Headlines

Albert Pujols, Tom Brady take less money to sign with Miami Heat

Struggling Lance Armstrong: "See what happens when I'm not on steroids? Er, I mean, how 'bout this weather we're having?"

Brett Favre throws elaborate retirement party at which he announces return to Minnesota Vikings

Unicyclist in last again at Tour de France

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tallying up the weekly award winners

I couldn't help but be curious about the weekly awards I've been giving out--has anyone dominated either award? Have any key players failed to garner any awards at all? Could these awards possibly be any more meaningless?

Here are the tallies through Week 16:

Rynos of the Week
Starlin Castro 3
Carlos Silva 2
Sean Marshall 2
Ted Lilly
Ryan Dempster
Alfonso Soriano
Marlon Byrd
Ryan Theriot
Carlos Zambrano
Aramis Ramirez
Andrew Cashner
Tyler Colvin

Goats of the Week
Ryan Theriot 3
Aramis Ramirez 2
Alfonso Soriano 2
Randy Wells 2
Carlos Silva
Carlos Zambrano
John Grabow
Ted Lilly
Tyler Colvin
Jeff Stevens
The entire offense

Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukudome are the only regulars (or semi-regular, in Fukudome's case) who haven't won an award, while Tom Gorzelanny is the only starter not to have won an award. Four relievers have garnered a total of five awards, three Rynos and two Goats. Seven players have won at least one of each award.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 16 awards: Cubs go 1-2 on unjustified three-week ESPN run

Does ESPN not have access to the MLB standings? Despite being in fourth place, the Cubs found themselves in prime time the last three Sundays. They actually made ESPN's decision look good the last two weeks, beating Roy Halladay and then engaging in an exciting duel against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals. Unfortunately they couldn't quite pull it out last night to finish off what would have been their first home sweep since a two-gamer against the Rockies back in May.

The 3-3 week went according to script with the Cubs playing down to a bad team and getting their act together against a good one; they're now 7-17 against the Astros, Pirates and Nationals but are 9-5 against the Cardinals, Phillies and Rockies.

Overall the offense fared well yet again, sparked by the solid play of the two sub-25-year-olds at the top of the order. The team is third in the majors in runs during the month of July (guess who's first, I dare you ... nope, it's the Giants) and second in home runs. If only the young guys in the bullpen were half as good as the Cubs' young hitters.

Ryno of the Week: Starlin Castro has been raking. He hit nearly .500 this week and is batting over .380 this month. He's over .300 for the season, in fact, and piled up stats this week like Nicolas Cage piles up painfully bad movies--six RBI, four runs, four doubles and two stolen bases over the last seven days.

Honorable mentions: Aramis Ramirez (who leads the majors in HR and RBI this month), Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Randy Wells

Goat of the Week: Oh, Carlos Silva. I haven't completely turned on you yet, but I'm definitely worried. In Silva's last two starts, his ERA has almost gone up more than his innings pitched (ERA up 0.9, innings pitched = 2.1). He'll get another shot against the Astros tonight after lasting just one inning against them last Monday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The redhead lives!

Matt Murton is back to being awesome. After stints with the A's and Rockies in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Colorado sold his contract to the Hanshin Tigers of Japan. Turns out Murton was just on the wrong continent--he's leading the league in batting average (.352) and hits (120). In fact, he's currently on pace to break Ichiro Suzuki's 16-year-old Nippon Professional Baseball record of 210 hits, though the season is now 14 games longer than it was in 1994.

Murton was the leadoff man but now bats third in the lineup, and he already has two grand slams on the season.

Hat tip: Jim Armstrong

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cubs use power to surge into third-place tie

Jim Prisching / AP

I will quickly dispense with the negative thought that can't help but run through my mind when it comes to Aramis Ramirez--that it would have been nice if a few of these home runs and RBI had come before the Grim Reaper took his scythe and hacked the 2010 Cubs season to pieces--and move on to the positive feelings that Cubs fans are feeling after 13 unanswered runs gave them a 14-7 victory over the Astros.

Ramirez is now hitting .404 since ... well, since he started hitting. He's had at least one hit in 10 of the last 13 games and at least two hits in nine of those games. He's also had at least one RBI in eight of those contests and scored at least one run in 10 of them. Actually, you know what--let's get a little crazy; I feel a list coming on:

Last 13 games:

19 hits
Most hits in any month, excluding July: 14

9 home runs
Number of games it took him to hit 9 home runs prior to the last 13: 75

24 RBI
RBI this season prior to last 13 games: 23

18 runs
Runs this season prior to last 13 games: 19

Last two games: 10 RBI
RBI in May and June combined: 10

Season stats extrapolating last 13 games to 162-game season: .404, 112 HR, 300 RBI

You can enjoy the ride he's on right now or be angry with him for mysteriously turning into a Single-A hitter for the first half of the season. I'm doing a little bit of both, myself, but trying to forget that the first three months ever happened. What do you mean Ramirez couldn't hit an 85 mph fastball down Broadway a month ago? I don't know what you're talking about, crazy person. The Cubs have scored over 6.6 runs per game over those last 13, and in this disappointing season, I'm choosing to be thankful for the fact that now, at least, the games are watchable.

While the offense has been hot, Silva and Dempster had perhaps the worst back-to-back starts we've seen all season the last two days, and hopefully Lilly can get the pitching back on track today. The team has scored more than three runs for Lilly just once in his last 11 starts, but it seems that he's taking the mound at the right time. They need a win to take their first series from Houston in three tries.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cubs' potential trade chips

The Cubs have been playing at least a slightly more enjoyable version of baseball lately. They swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona, lost three of four to a good Dodgers team and then outscored the Phillies by 11 in taking three of four. But the painful truth remains: the Cubs are 10 games under .500, 10.5 games out of first and have fewer teams listed below them in the NL Central standings than above them. And with less than two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Jim Hendry has little choice but to at least try to sell off a few pieces in order to garner prospects and/or shed payroll. Here's a quick look at some of the Cubs' trade chips and some of their potential suitors:

Ted Lilly

Lilly's situation absolutely screams "Trade!" First there's his age: he'll be 35 next season, and with the Cubs likely to be in a rebuilding mode, it's unlikely they would give him a three- or four-year deal for the amount of money he deserves and will command as a free agent. There's the second thing: he'll be a free agent after this year, which makes him a perfect two-month rental for a team trying to make a playoff push.

While he has a misleading 3-8 record, his ERA is solid (4.07) and his WHIP (1.13) is lower than it ever was in Oakland or Toronto. His success in the NL these last four years may result in more interest from NL teams, and the Mets are said to have kicked the tires while the Dodgers could use another starter. The Twins and Tigers could both use an arm as well over in the AL. Andy Pettitte just landed on the DL for the Yankees, and they were already in on Cliff Lee recently before he went to the Rangers.

Two additional factors boost Lilly's trade value: he projects as a Type A free agent, meaning a team that trades for him and then loses him in the offseason would get two draft picks; and Roy Oswalt left his start on Sunday after hurting his ankle, though he is not expected to miss his next start. Outside of Oswalt, Lilly is perhaps the best starter available at the deadline.

Carlos Silva

Outside of Carlos Silva's mom and perhaps Silva himself, there isn't a person in the world who thought he'd be 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA at the All-Star break. The problem here is that he'll earn over $12 million next season, so the Cubs would almost certainly have to pay a portion of that in order to trade him. This is a tough one: should Hendry make him available given that his stock will likely never be higher, or keep him around for another year given his surprising resurgence?

Derrek Lee

His .244 average is not helping his stock, but he is a Gold Glove first baseman and a veteran with a track record of success. The Angels have been mentioned due to Kendry Morales being out for the season, though Lee has a full no-trade clause should he choose to use it.

Kosuke Fukudome

He'll still earn over $20 million between now and the end of next year, and as we know all too well, he's not that great. The Red Sox had discussions with the Cubs about him at one point, and the Giants and Padres could both use an outfield bat. Neither of those NL West teams seem likely to take on much payroll, however.

Mike Fontenot

The Cubs don't seem to believe that Fontenot fits into their starting lineup, yet he won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season. The Angels and Phillies could use a bat due to injuries, and the Mets have something of a black hole at second base. Fontenot's defensive versatility is a plus.

Ryan Theriot

While the Cubs clearly value Theriot over Fontenot, they could try to unload The Riot and make Fontenot the starter. This would make some sense given that Theriot becomes a free agent one year earlier and given that he became the first Cub to go to arbitration since Mark Grace this past February (meaning there could be a bit of bad blood between him and the team). Good thing the Cubs won that case since he's slugging .307 and has a .311 OBP this season.

Tom Gorzelanny

The lefty has done a respectable job in a year-plus since coming to Chicago, and the Cubs could probably get a decent prospect or two for him in a trade. They could also keep him, though, given that he, like Fontenot, won't hit free agency until after 2013.

Xavier Nady

Nady's never had the chance to play every day as a Cub, and it's possible he can't really do so due to his surgically repaired elbow. He could still be a decent pick-up for a team needing a bat. MLB Trade Rumors indicates that the Rangers, Angels, Yankees and Padres could make sense.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 15 awards: Cancel that shipment of new bats--these actually seem to be working now

It was a short week in the baseball world (and therefore a long week for fans). The Cubs were one Marmol-implosion away from a four-game sweep to begin the second half, and they've been a lot more fun to watch lately--they've scored 67 runs in their last 11 games. Even Roy Halladay had to bow down to the offensive juggernaut that is the Chicago Cubs. You are no match for our muscles and legendary hitting prowess, Roy.

Marlon Byrd may have had the best week of any Cub given the impact he had in the NL's first All-Star Game win in 14 years. And Joey Votto can freakin' suck it. Since when are the Cubs and Reds arch rivals? And it's the All-Star Game, Joey! I understand that fans have a tough time rooting for players they normally root against, but you really can't set that aside for a night and get into the spirit of things? Your team is in the playoff hunt and may need that home field advantage Byrd just earned you, you jackass. Your goal in the All-Star Game is to win the All-Star Game, and if Byrd helps you do that, you should feel free to congratulate him.

Ryno of the Week: This is hard, in a good way. (That's what she said.) Aramis Ramirez had five hits in the series and five RBI. Trevor Sierra, Brian Brennan and I were debating less than two weeks ago what Ramirez's average will be at season's end. He was in the .170s at the time, and we settled on .212 as the over/under. Eleven games later, he's up to .213.

Geovany Soto hit a home run to each side of the park in the series and had four hits overall. Soriano had a couple dingers and five hits. All four Cub starters posted a quality start.

But I'm going with Starlin Castro. He batted .600 in the series with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored, and also stole home.

Honorable mention: Randy Wells hasn't been the beneficiary of the Cubs' recent offensive improvement--they've scored just 11 runs in his last six starts. His last four have all been quality starts and his ERA has dropped nearly a point since late June.

Goat of the Week: Again, not easy. Even Ryan Theriot had three hits, but he was still just 3-for-17. Plus his overall .311 OBP just angers me.

Dishonorable mention: Carlos Marmol (though in Friday's appearance he was absolutely nasty in striking out Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard and Ben Francisco)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Humor Vault Headlines

Nine-year-old throws out ceremonial first pitch, signs four-year deal with Orioles

Third base coach chooses inopportune time to wave to fan, Johnny Damon thrown out at home to end game

Unsure of role on All-Star team, Ty Wigginton decides to help grounds crew before and after game

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sizing up our predictions at the halfway point

It's the All-Star break, and you know what that means:

1) I'm bored out of my mind
2) The AL will have home field advantage in the World Series locked up shortly

But also, it's time to take stock of the preseason predictions that were made here at Wait 'til this Year, and to marvel at the incomprehensible foresight displayed by myself, Trevor Sierra and Andrew Kapral. Or maybe, just maybe, the exact opposite of that. I honestly haven't looked at these since they were posted in March, and still haven't glanced at them even as I type this. But I have a feeling it's about to get ugly. Children avert your eyes, Cardinals and Sox fans enjoy.

Cubs wins
Trevor 88
Andrew 87
Brandon 86

Actual pace: 71

[cracks knuckles and sighs with satisfaction] Yup, that's right. Who's got two thumbs and knows what he's talking about? [Points at self with thumbs] This guy.

Okay, so I'm probably going to be off by 10 or 15 games, but this isn't The Price is Right. A win's a win. And that's a phrase the Cubs have been able to use far too seldom this season. It's not like we went that overboard with our predictions. Eighty-eight wins seemed reasonable, right? Apparently not.

Randy Wells wins
Trevor 13
Brandon 11
Andrew 10

Actual pace: 7

Why do I get the feeling that the person with the lowest guess in each category is going to be in good shape this year?

Wells hasn't looked much like the '09 Wells--he's already allowed just two fewer earned runs than all of last season, mostly due to a significantly higher batting average on balls in play (.337 vs. .292) which is due in part to a decreased ground ball/fly ball ratio, never a good thing for a sinkerballer. His last three starts have been quality starts, though, so maybe he can have a strong second half and finish with, oh, I don't know, say, 11 wins.

Soto slugging percentage
Brandon .475
Andrew .445
Trevor .430

Actual: .480

Who's got two thumbs and ... what, I already used that one? Ah, yes, just a couple minutes ago. I remember now.

Soto's had a strange season. He was walking all the time early on (he has seven fewer walks than all of last season), but seemed to lack power and productivity. Piniella must have felt the same way because he started playing Koyie Hill consistently. But it turns out Soto's doing pretty well: he's in the top 10 among NL catchers in OBP (2), SLG (2), OPS (3), HR (5), RBI (7) and wOBA (3). His SLG is just 24 points lower than it was in his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign.

And now, a comparison of Soto's stats to those of the NL's All-Star starting catcher, Yadier Molina:

Molina: .223 avg, 3 HR, 33 RBI, .301 OBP, .284 SLG, .595 OPS
Soto: .289 avg, 9 HR, 27 RBI, .412 OBP, .488 SLG, .900 OPS

That's a f**king joke. Reason #47 that the All-Star starters should be selected by players and coaches. And Soto shouldn't even be the starter--the Rockies' Miguel Olivo should be.

Zambrano wins
Trevor 20
Andrew 14
Brandon 14

Actual pace: 5

What's crazier: Carlos Zambrano when he thinks his defense isn't trying, or Trevor for predicting 20 wins for the staff joker?

Derrek Lee home runs
Brandon 33
Trevor 33
Andrew 27

Actual pace: 18

Since when does a player tank in his contract year? Does he not have an agent? I really believe in the Contract Year Phenomenon (that players really do play better in many cases when $$$$ is on the line), but leave it to the Cubs to have a key player with just 36 RBI and a .366 slugging percentage at the break despite having an expiring contract. Stupid Cubs.

Carlos Marmol walks per nine innings
Brandon 6.4
Andrew 5.8
Trevor 5.1

Actual: 6.0

It's not as bad as his horrendous 7.9 last year, but it's still bad. Of course he's made up for it with a ludicrous 16.85 K/9 and a miniscule .164 BAA. I went high on this one because I thought Marmol might be a disaster as the closer this season. Clearly I was wrong--he's been one of the Cubs' biggest highlights. Nevertheless, he can be wild, and this one might come down to the wire.

Theriot OBP
Andrew .380
Brandon .370
Trevor .365

Actual: .317

He had a solid .387 OBP back in 2008, but was under .345 in '07 and '09. This year has been even worse--he made news by walking just once in May. Given that he's already 30, it doesn't look like he'll ever be the leadoff man we all hoped he'd be.

And there you have it. Turns out I'm going to need the entire All-Star break to digest how terrible my predictions were.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 14 awards: Aramis Ramirez asks us to kindly stop hating him

Yesterday's turd of a game notwithstanding, the Cubs seemed to be playing a better brand of baseball this week. I speak mostly of the offense, which put up 39 runs in the week's first six games. They drew walks, came through with runners in scoring position and generally enabled us viewers to refrain from expecting the worst for at least a few days.

The pitching was middling, however, and cost them two losses including Friday's in which Ted Lilly took the Cubs out of the game early even though the Cubs would eventually score seven runs. Lilly has not exactly boosted his trade value in the last couple weeks, but the deadline remains nearly three weeks away. Speaking of a possible Lilly trade, word is that the Mets would hope to take on much of his remaining salary so that they could part with lesser talent. I hope Hendry wouldn't go this route--Lilly's salary comes off the payroll after this season anyways, so what good does a trade do if it doesn't net some decent prospects?

Ryno of the Week: Who was that man blasting home run after home run, looking generally comfortable at the plate and enjoying the long-overdue opportunity to look up at the scoreboard and see a batting average starting with a "2"? Aramis Ramirez had at least one hit and one run in every game this week except yesterday's, and clubbed at least one extra-base hit in five different games. He was 12-for-28 with four home runs and nine RBI. It was utterly fantastic.

Honorable mentions: Geovany Soto, Marlon Byrd

Goat of the Week: As happy as I am to write A-Ram's name above, I'm quite disappointed to be doling out the negative hardware to Tyler Colvin. His production has dipped noticeably in the last month or so, and he struggled to the tune of 2-for-17 this week with five strikeouts. Hopefully he can find his way through this slump and improve upon his .263 average.

Dishonorable mention: Ted Lilly

Friday, July 9, 2010

Free agent Brian Scalabrine will announce decision on HGTV

From the Wait 'til this Year Humor Vault

BOSTON--Following in the footsteps of LeBron James, Celtics free agent Brian Scalabrine is in negotiations with Home and Garden Television to air a four-minute special on Saturday during which he will announce which NBA team he will sign with. Sources say the Celtics might have interest in bringing him back, and that no other teams have shown much interest to this point.

The special will likely air during what would normally be a commercial break between Designing for the Sexes at 9 am and Closet Cases at 9:30. Scalabrine is in the process of lining up sponsors for the show, and sources indicate that some companies may be willing to pay upwards of $3. Some believe viewership for the event could reach into the tens.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Around the majors

-Joe Mauer, who received the most All-Star votes of any AL player, has just four home runs this season after hitting 28 last year. From 2006-2008, Mauer had 29 total, so perhaps last year's total was a bit of an aberration.

-Billy Butler of the Royals has already grounded into 21 double plays. No player has hit into more than 32 twin killings in the last 10 years.

-You know how much I love keeping track of the Cubs' strikeouts: they're second in the NL right now, just nine behind San Francisco's league-leading pace.

-Tampa Bay has blown 14 percent of their save chances; Arizona has blown 47 percent of theirs.

-The Orioles, Pirates and Diamondbacks have won a combined 33 road games; the Rays have won 28.

-The Pirates have a -189 run differential. To put that into perspective, the Nationals were the worst team in the majors last year and finished the season at -164. The Pirates are on pace to have the worst differential since 1899.

-If the season ended today, the NLDS would feature the Mets against the Padres and the Reds versus the Braves. Raise your hand if you predicted that.

-Joakim Soria leads the AL in saves despite the Royals' 39-46 record.

-Roy Halladay has seven complete games, more than the Pirates, Dodgers, Padres, Mets, Nationals, Astros, Cubs and Orioles combined.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can anyone give me one good reason why the Diamondbacks shouldn't move to the NL Central?

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The last time the Cubs scored 15 or more runs in a two-game span was May 7-8 at Cincinnati.

The last time Aramis Ramirez had a game with four or more RBI was April 8 ... of last year.

The last time the Cubs won back-to-back games by more than one run was May 18-19.

The Cubs are now 5-1 against Arizona this year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 13 awards: I must be bad luck

I was unfortunate enough to have tickets to Friday's 12-0 blowout at the hands of the Reds, the second time in just over two weeks I attended a 12-0 loss. This means I've seen firsthand the Cubs' two worst losses of the season (didn't it feel great to lose by only 11 on Sunday, which you might recall matched the scoring disparity in their Opening Day 16-5 loss which, it turns out, was a harbinger of the season to come rather than a mere aberration?). The last two times I've been to Wrigley, the other teams have scored 24 runs on 24 hits while the Cubs managed zero runs on five hits. The Cubs sprinkled in three errors to their opponents' none just for good measure.

It's difficult to measure the depths of the Cubs' woes here at the halfway point of the season. Saturday's win put them on pace for a 70-win season. Sunday's 14-3 pounding was a fantastically appropriate way to finish another craptastically awful week in which they managed to lose another series to the Pirates and lose three of four to the first-place Reds while getting outscored by Dusty's squad by 22 runs.

You know, even after the Reds hit line drives and moonshots all over Wrigley, the Cubs' pitching remains the sixth-best in the NL. But their record can of course be traced to an offense that is 14th of 16 in the league, and to their .243 average with runners in scoring position. They left 17 guys on base Saturday in a nine-inning game. Except they didn't even bat in the ninth, so that's over two guys stranded per inning. Their ability to ruin scoring chances would be impressive if it weren't so soul-crushing and painfully boring to watch.

Ryno of the Week: While his average has dipped to .280 in June and July, Tyler Colvin continues to be one of the most productive members of the offense. If you extrapolate his stats to the standard 500 at-bats, he would have 33 home runs and 89 RBI. He needs to be more selective and learn to hit the breaking ball, but this kid's got raw talent and those skills come with time.

Oak Park native Brian Schlitter had a chance to get the award after his major league career began with two scoreless outings against the Pirates. But Schlitter, who was acquired for Scott Eyre back in 2008, allowed five earned runs in just a third of an inning in Friday's disastrous seventh inning, inflating his ERA to 15.00.

Goat of the Week: On Friday morning, Jeff Stevens' ERA was 2.76; now it's 5.71 and he's in the minors.

Dishonorable mentions: Derrek Lee, Andrew Cashner

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jake Fox finds a new home

About one week after I posted about Jake Fox being DFA'd by the A's, the Orioles acquired the former Cub in a trade. He has played in eight games with the Orioles, mostly as DH, and has struggled for the most part. He did, however, hit his second home run as an Oriole and fifth overall today against Detroit.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Joe Girardi manages to conduct an entire press conference with nothing but trite phrases and cliches

From the Wait 'til this Year Humor Vault

NEW YORK--Yankees manager Joe Girardi is the envy of managers around the majors after accomplishing a difficult and much sought-after feat: he managed to speak solely in cliches and meaningless phrases during his post-game press conference after a loss to the Kansas City Royals.

When asked if he was surprised the game played out as it did despite the fact that the Yankees were heavy favorites going into it, he replied, "You don't play the game on paper. Having said that, I think we left everything on the field. At the end of the day, we have to remember to play within ourselves."

Speaking with regard to the Yankees' comeback attempt in the late innings, Girardi said, "There are no moral victories. They made the big plays and we didn't. We'll just have to put this loss behind us and continue to take it one game at a time."

Girardi left the press room but then suddenly peeked out from behind the side wall and added, "Something had to give!" and then left. As Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez prepared for his interview, Girardi was just plain showing off as he popped his head in again and said, "You win as a team, you lose as a team," then left again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's July 1--do you know where YOUR LeBron is?

If LeBron James comes to the Bulls, I will become a big Bulls fan again. I want to apologize in advance to all those who have carried the torch through the 15-win season in 2000-01, through the Bill Cartwright era--through the last decade, essentially. Basketball has never topped my list of sports, and throw in some last place finishes and sub-.300 winning percentages, and my basketball meter drops pretty low. But I've watched them here and there the last couple years and I followed them closely in the playoffs. Still, kudos to those who have worn the jerseys and knew names like Ron Mercer and Fred Hoiberg.

I'm sick of the "sources" and the "summits" and the Stephen A Smiths. I'm ready for some real, live free agency and some actual signings. There's never been anything like this in any sport before. One summer will change the entire landscape of the NBA. Some teams could go from also-rans to title contenders while others will be left out in the cold, free agent-less and regretful that they traded their best players away just to chase a pipe dream that never came true.

Hopefully the Bulls will be an example of the former, and hopefully King James will write a new and amazing chapter of Bulls history. No team really has the right to get both an Air Jordan and a King James, but to hell with that. Come to Chicago, LeBron! The hardcore and the bandwagon fans await you, with a Rose in hand.