Baseball Tidbits

June 19, 2008 |

I know this is supposed to be about baseball, but let me throw in one comment about the NBA. I don’t know about you, but I was ready for the NBA playoffs to end. There is no sport, IMO, where teams turn it on and off like the NBA. Maybe it’s because they play so many games, and they figure that when a playoff game is lost, they might as well rest up for the next one, but there were too many good teams losing by 20+ points. The Celtics/Lakers final could have been great, but the Game 6 blowout just epitomized the way the rest of the playoffs went. Then there was the re-emergence of the referee scandal. Sports fans have seen enough “bad guys” like Jose Canseco and Brian McNamee enlighten us into things that really went on. If David Stern thinks that no one believes Tim Donehey, then he’s out of his mind. And when Scott Pollard, a former player, is told that Game 6 of the 2002 series between the Lakers and the Kings was tainted by one-sided officiating, and his response is “I knew it,” your entire league has a credibility problem.
OK, now onto baseball.
Has anyone noticed that Johan Santana is much more human than anyone thought he would be, going to the National League, and pitching in a pitcher’s ballpark. He’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but the only category in which he finds himself near the league leader is wild pitches, where his nine rank him second behind Ubaldo Jimenez’s ten.
A perfect example of how unpredictable baseball is can be seen atop the A.L. leaders in wins. There are four guys (Cliff Lee, Joe Saunders, Mike Mussina, and Vicente Padilla) who have a least nine wins. Last year Lee and Padilla were so bad he was sent to the minors. Mike was so bad he was sent to the bullpen. And Joe Saunders, while not doing anything really bad last year, also didn’t do anything really good. Going into this year he had a career total of 15 wins, so the fact that he got his tenth win on Father’s Day probably surprised a few people. If you could have seen this coming in your fantasy draft, you would be running away with your league. Instead you probably have Justin Verlander who is 3-9.
It’s amazing how quickly some guys lose their skills and there are no better examples of this than Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds. It seems like only about two years ago that they were still really good. Maybe the all-out style of centerfield that they both played for all those years has taken a toll, but these guys have become below average big leaguers.
Who would have ever thought that Ken Griffey Jr. would talk about waving his no trade clause to play for the Rays, and that the Rays would say no? Now let’s understand, neither of these things have happened yet, but Griffey has talked about his willingness to play in Tampa. The problem is that I don’t think he helps their team. From a marketing standpoint they’d be crazy not to take him, but they certainly don’t need and another all or nothing, slow footed, left-handed hitter. They’ve already got Carlos Pena, Cliff Floyd, and Eric Hinske. Honestly, right now I’m not sure Griffey is better than any of them offensively. Griffey is hitting .244 and slugging .391, and to say his home ballpark is hitter friendly is putting it mildly. I’ve played wiffle ball in backyards that had bigger dimensions.
Speaking of the Rays, did you know that they have gone 24-4 in their last 28 home games? These numbers would be good for a college basketball team. This just doesn’t happen in baseball.
Since the All-Star game is in an American League park, DH’s are voted in. That makes nine spots for American League players. Right now, seven of the nine are Yankees and Red Sox. The only two who are not are in the outfield, where Manny leads, and is followed by Josh Hamilton and Ichiro. Vlad is fourth, and he is followed by Yankees Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreau. Hamilton has a pretty good lead, but Ichiro could be caught. If he is, and it’s not by Vlad, the Yankees and Red Sox will have eight of the nine A.L. starters. That would not be good.
Who would have ever thought that Sidney Ponson would get a win in a Yankee uniform this season before Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy? Sidney hasn’t gotten one yet, but he’ll get a shot a week from Friday against the Mets, and they don’t seem to be beating anyone lately.
Last, but not least, only in baseball could a guy be pitching well on a team that’s playing well and be 3-7. If Jeremy Guthrie hasn’t been the unluckiest guy in baseball this year, then I don’t know who is.