Siberian Baseball

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wrigley Field - A playground for cocksuckers

If you've never heard this, you're not living, Pancho. WARNING - it is very vulgar and is also a sound file. For the text, head here.

The now legendary Lee Elia tirade has been making the rounds for a while now and I'm always pleased when it resurfaces. Hulk Hogan's cartoon is over it on Youtube and Deadspin now and it makes no sense. However, the audio is more than adequate.

Elia was the Cubs manager when he unloaded on the Wrigley faithful and for a while the actual transcript was a bit of an urban legend along the lines of the "Cram it, clown" incident on the Bozo Show.

Now, it's available through the wonder of the Interweb. Thank you, Interweb. Elia spat (in part):

"(Cub fans) oughta go out and get a fuckin' job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a fuckin' living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin' world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin' playground for the cocksuckers."


(Photo from

Thanks for playing, D-Rays

I was thinking on the Devil Rays and Red Sox series this weekend as I was driving home tonight and had a bit of a change of heart on the team.

Not so much on the organization which uses its public address system to drown out the retirees who come to cheer for their teams now that they've relocated to Florida, because that'skind of sketchy, but for the players involved.

Whereas I've always thought the most the received was a steady paycheck and some sort of "Participant" ribbon from MLB at the end of the season, I feel a little more sympathy for them as the team everyone expects to beat.

Anyone with an AL rooting interest can relate that they see the Rays on the schedule and think, "OK, three wins there..." It's disappointing if you take one of three from Tampa, worse yet if you get swept.

The law of averages says that even an awful team will win 30 to 40 times a year, so those wins have to come at someone's expense. It's probably tough to be discounted like that. That's really got to wear on a guy after a while.

Worse still is a team resting their stars during the series against you, figuring they have a better than average chance to win, regardless of who they throw out there. Not saying they're world beaters and they are handsomely compensated for their time, but really, you make it to the big leagues and you end up on the Rays?


Knowing that the rest of the bigs sees you as a 4A team?

Double ouch.

(Photo from:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wait... He won the bet?

I think Deadspin had this the other day, but I'd like to say that the fact that Jon Papelbon is still rocking the "Wild Thing" Rick Vaughn haircut is one of the greatest subplots in baseball right now.

Two quick thoughts:

1.) Knowing how superstitious pitchers are (second only to hockey goalies) this thing could be around a very long while because he's a good pitcher and should keep making saves. He looks like he shaved it down a bit (just saw him close the game against Cleveland) which leads me to believe that he had it professionally cleaned up after the clubhouse hack job that was done.

2.) For those who bitch about an East Coast bias with regards to the Sox and Yanks, show me your closer's haircut - unless it's Mr. T's mohawk, shut the hell up. That is newsworthy hair.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Two for one night at Chavez Ravine

Rafael Furcal, you may be looking for long offseason getaways with Steve Bartman this year. No, seriously, you have angered the fanbase twice now in under six months. Good job, it takes a lot to get the ire of Cubs' fans up.

We now wait with baited breath to see just how hurt Derrek Lee's wrist really is, with citing that he'll be checked out in Chicago today. Something tells me that a negative X-ray shows that a sprained wrist is a sprained wrist, but Cubs' fans know it's never that easy.

Just like Kerry Wood can never just have a sore arm and that noise under the hood of your car is never just a 30 cent piece of plastic, the last piece that was holding together a very iffy team was steamrolled last night by Furcal just a few months after he spurned the Cubs to take a crazy contract in Los Angeles, which was crippled by injury a week into the season.

Making matters worse is the loss of the top lefty reliever in the process on the same play, when Scott Eyre hurt his leg somehow as he stumbled and flung the ball with his mitt. There's not a lot on that injury right now, either.

Keep your fingers crossed, Chicago fans - this could be the start of a rough season.

(Photo from

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Designated Swinger

Which is more surprising, the fact that the Twins refused to go get a legitimate designated hitter in the offseason, or that they are admitting that mistake following the awful play of Rondell White?

Twins fans don't ask for much - we have a guy in our section who wails, "Come on Twins! Get a single!" - and they aren't getting much, either. For as much abuse is heaped on the Cubs for failing to field a competitive team or upgrade in the offseason, there should have been torch-carrying mobs after this lineup was released.

Juan Castro has been given the start at short and he and Lew Ford carried the team last night against the Angels. The big shock of the night was when the lineups were released before the game and Tony Batista had been slotted in the four slot with White falling all the way down to a generous seven.

Before the game, White was at .085, not what you'd hope for from your cleanup hitter. Worse still is that his only job is to hit the ball. It's a pretty bad sign when your DH is hitting in double digits and the replacement is a man who played in Japan last year... and isn't named Ichiro.

With a strikeout in the second, White dipped to .083 and flied to left in the fourth. In the fifth, lightning struck and White made it aboard with a single, raising his numbers to .100 on the season. I'm not kidding when I say that the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The place went nuts and he seemed a little pissed off by the whole scene.

When he came up to bat to lead off the ninth, I was (loudly) welcoming him to triple digits with that even .100 and openly speculated about whether or not he'd be heading home that night hitting over or under .100 for the season.

Like the Clippers/Grizzlies game last night, take the under.

I'm not sure how much longer the Twins will keep him out there as he hacks away and is openly mocked. He looked pretty solid to start the season (but pinch-hitter solid, not DH solid) but unless the Twins fill this hole, they're going to struggle through the season. Torii Hunter is batting fifth and Justin Morneau is batting sixth (but takes too many wild swings to be moved into fourth) so it's pretty up in the air what the team is going to do.

Barring a free agent pick-up, this could be tough to watch come June.

(Image from:

Monday, April 17, 2006

The price is wrong, bitch

Late in Friday evening's game against the Yankees, Kyle Farnsworth starts warming up in the New York bullpen and the Minneapolis crowd was none the wiser.

I nudge the Girl and point down and she asks, half-laughing, half-horrified, "Is that Farnsworth?" Yep, I could barely contain my glee as they called him in to mop up in a game the Yankees were ready to concede.

Fresh off stops in Detroit and Atlanta, the Yankees took a shot and signed him to a three year deal worth between $15 and $17 million. Wow, what a waste of money.

Notorious for his questionable work ethic and erratic performances on the mound, Farnsworth is the epitome of million dollar arm with a ten cent head. Not much has changed as he gave up three hits, two runs and a walk after starting strong in the inning. That was pretty much the tipping point for the Twins, who went on to win the game 5-1.

Here's the interesting part - In his appearance, Farnsworth was changing speeds well, electing to lay off the gas and try some breaking and off-speed stuff before hitting the high 90s on the radar gun. At this point, I swore that the Twins would be in trouble.

Remember that scene in Happy Gilmore where he develops a shot game and he turns around and says, "Uh-oh... Happy learned how to putt..." It was that kind of moment for me.

For years in Chicago, Farnsworth's answer to hitters getting around on his fastball was to reach back and try to throw harder. This never worked for two reasons - a.) The harder he threw, the more difficult it was for him to locate his pitches and he ended up walking guys left and right and b.) In the majors, most hitters can adjust to faster and faster pitches. If it's a matter of timing a quicker fastball, it doesn't take long for them to tee off.

While in college and the minors, there are enough mediocre hitters to pull that with, most major leaguers can adapt quickly enough to fastballs to stay a step ahead.

Seeing radar readings of the mid-80s said that Farnsworth had finally listened to good advice and was learning to dial it back and throw off a hitter's timing. Then he seemed to get fed up with it and went back to his old form. Oh, Kyle, you blockhead!

As Frank the Tank is fond of pointing out, Farnsworth is up there with Corey Patterson and a few other ex-Cubs who could someday figure it out and become great players in the league. Farnsworth is at the top of this list, following the Dennis Eckersley model of delayed success.

Judging by Friday's meltdown, Cubdom has little to worry about this year.

In other cities around the league:

Boston pitcher Josh Beckett needs to calm the fuck down. He seems to have filled Pedro's old slot in the rotation as second ace and resident loon. I'm all about pitchers being excited for the game, but someone will do him bodily harm if he keeps this up.

My suggestion? Decaf on gameday.

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols is not a man to be trifled with. Three homers Sunday, including a walk-off moon shot shows why the Cardinals shouldn't be counted out this year. While the Cubs and their hobbled pitching staff have cobbled together wins against perennial powerhouses Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, their sweep of St. Louis was very impressive, capped by a major win last weekend on the ESPN Sunday Night game.

However, Pujols was talking about the homer he hit in the NLCS off of Brad Lidge after he saw Houston fans celebrating too early and begged for another shot to get to the plate. It's a pretty rare situation where you have a player who makes an emotional decision to go up and end a game and is able to follow through.

Something tells me he was in the same mindset Sunday afternoon when he went yard three times to nail down the win.

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is the feature interview in Playboy this month and is worth it for those who "read the articles." The funny thing is that Ozzie's mouth is dirtier than any picture you'll find in the magazine.

It's hard to be a baseball fan and not appreciate his base philosophies and his heir apparent status as this decade's Billy Martin. While he may be off base on some of his assessments of players and how to deal with people (like calling his best friends child molesters and homosexuals in very public situations) his baseball is pretty spot on for building a winning team.

And finally, a quick word on worthless statistics. The records of Minnesota, the New York Yankees, and St. Louis are not as good or as bad as they indicate right now. Just as the Metrodome scoreboard is full of junk stats right now (after a week, 46 pitchers were tied for the league-lead in wins, winning percentage, etc.) you can't tell much from the first few weeks of the season.

The time to panic is always in late May or early June, with the point of no return being the All-Star Game (just ask the Houston Astros). Cold starts don't mean much for teams or individuals, and while hot starts are always welcome (and Jim Thome is officially hot now) there's not a lot you can expect from only a few weeks as teams work out the kinks.

Baltimore started off really well last year, only to fade just as quickly and it's a very, very long season for everyone, so keep your pants on if you're a fan of any of the above teams.

New York and St. Louis will warm up, the Mets and the Tigers will cool down and the Twins and Rangers will find their feet. As Ice Cube says, and I'm paraphrasing here, "The major league baseball season ain't a track meet, it's a marathon..."

Also, Manny Ramirez should begin putting his back in to it.

(Photo from: /

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saving baseball one fan at a time

I am a man who is slow to anger, but incredibly easy to annoy. Annoyances drive me to distraction and quickly become consuming forces in my life. This is only exacerbated by my surroundings, so it's safe to say that a dome full of Minnesota residents is already a recipe for disaster (and fill that with Yankee fans like Friday night and it gets worse. Before we were able to make it outside after the game, I'd dropped two f-bombs and was more than ready to fistfight a man in his 60s, no joke.)

Baseball games are one of those things where I wholeheartedly believe there is a standard of conduct that all fans should be aware of and abide by. I am not asking for an army of drones, all silently filling out scorecards, nor am I asking that everyone find their seat and stay planted, like going to the opera. Baseball is fun and passionate and that's part of the charm of seeing games live, but we need some ground rules here.

For instance:

Grown men with gloves are a major pet peeve of mine. If I were handed the keys to a Major League franchise this afternoon, I would all but instantly employ a small army of children to wander about, find men over 18 with a glove and punch them in the testicles.

No joke.

I imagine that kids would be all about this job and if I could find a way around those pesky child labor laws, I'd be in the clear. I think this just the kind of deterrent needed in ballparks around the country to end this national embarrassment.

The odds of a ball landing in your section are pretty low for any game you go to. Most will end up in the stands on the first-base side, a few peppered into the third base seats and a handful deeper down the foul lines. Sitting in the upper deck drops those odds and outdoor stadiums limit this even further because the roof will keep high foul balls from ever seeing the seats.

The point is that it is very rare for foul balls to find the fans. This is why if someone came into your office on Monday morning and told you they caught a foul ball, you'd think it was pretty cool.

Now, assuming you beat the odds and a ball finds its way to you, most of the time it's not a screaming line drive, which even if you had a glove would be tough to catch, it's a loping fly which gives you plenty of time to get set and get two hands up. That's assuming you can reach through a sea of arms all trying for the same ball. There's a better chance of someone taking the ball off their noggin, given all the confusion.

I'd even be willing to allow gloves in the outfield where you could catch homers - the idea being that you want the best chance to hang on if it's hit your way - but the argument should boil down to three points.

1.) You are a grown-assed man. Do the math, you're not seeing a baseball unless you buy it at the gift shop.
2.) If a ball comes your way, stand up, get ready and use both hands.
3.) No one is going to see you brought your glove and ask you to play catch during the seventh-inning stretch or pitch in garbage time. It's not your lack of a glove that will keep you off the field, it's the fact that you haven't touched your toes since 1977.

My team isn't playing guy is a sticky situation. Where is the line for what passes for acceptable attire, especially with regards to teams that aren't playing in that ballpark on that day? I think a hat is OK in most cases - for example, wearing a Brewers hat to an Oakland vs. Seattle game - as long as you don't overdo it with a jersey and facepaint.

For your team playing that day, anything goes. I have made it a priority to wear a full uniform, including pants and possibly spikes, to a game at some point in my adult life, so the rest is all fair game. Jerseys, hats all of this is OK as long as that team is playing.

What I'm talking about was the knucklehead behind us Friday in a Cubs jersey from two years ago with "Garciaparra" on the back. Sooo... team isn't playing here, with a player who isn't in Chicago anymore? How is this a good idea?

The subsections here are "My parents never hugged me guy" who wears strange wigs, giant sunglasses, etc. to try and get on TV. Giant foam cowboy hats are classic. Looking like an extra from Mad Max is not. (More on this some other time.)

Kids getting up and down all damn game are another real problem for me. People of any age getting up during play are the real issue. Baseball is a slow moving game - glacial in spots - so time it right.

If you're hungry, wait for the inning break or at least an out if you're sitting near an aisle. When you come back, wait for another break in gameplay to return. It's that simple.

There are very specifically defined moments that are important in a ballgame. It infuriates me when I miss one because someone comes back and needs to shove their way down the row after going to grab nachos or a bathroom break.

While I used to watch a few innings and then ask my dad to wander Wrigley Field with me, we always waited. This is the single greatest thing you ca teach your child about a baseball game - wait for the inning to end before you disrupt two rows of people. Wait to come back until there is a good break in the game.

This could be another punchable offense in my book. Better yet would be a seperate section for people who don't give a damn about the game. Sit them somewhere in the upper deck - preferrably without seats - and just let them mill about until it's time for a hot dog or to go pee.

I will now wait for the General Manager offers to roll in.

(Photo from:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mariners Baseball

One of the fun things about the MLB Extra Innings package is the "local flavor" that seeps through on each broadcast.

While there are national ad campaigns for cars and American institutions like McDonald's and Target, there are also the regional businesses like In and Out Burger and small car dealerships. Bundled in with these are team promos, too.

For those of us who grew up near New York, Boston or Chicago, it's strange to consider that teams have to really get out there and hustle to move tickets. Oakland is forever trying to move tickets (and just covered their upper deck seasting to cut down on the number of unused seats, creating an artificial shortage) and the Twins are giving away tickets for free at Target.

It seems to be in large part a West Coast phenomenon, with the bigger fan bases taking the same tack as what Cubs fans are used to - a short commercial when tickets are available for upcoming home stands). Among the best for these team commercials are the Mariners. beat me to the punch on finding the posting, but here is one of the better ones.

Apparently, Jamie Moyer is a really good sport.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nobody's perfect

I already wanted to chime in breifly about the first week of the new baseball season, especially before the Twins home opener this Tuesday against Oakland. I'm not kidding when I say that I would be as well served hanging out in front of Target than I would as a new season ticket holder.

I've never had season tickets to anything not counting a press pass to USHL Hockey and mid-major Division I Basketball. Needless to say, even the half season package I'm rocking now is a big deal. I say 41 games might not be enough. The Girl says to shut up and stop being a little bitch and that 81 games is absurd. I'll refrain from comment on this one.

The point? Target is handing out Opening Night tickets (four per family) from stacks upon stacks of them in the Twin Cities. I thought getting eight tickets in the same row a few eeks before the Red Sox came to town last year was weird but it looks to be par for the course. It baffles me, but much of life here does, so at least it's familiar.

  • The Tigers and Brewers have opened the season red hot with matching 5-1 records, going perfect into Sunday. Wow, who woulda thought, huh? Will it hold up? Not for Detroit and maybe for Milwaukee, but it's still fun to watch.
  • Jimmy Rollins saw his bid for a 56-game hit streak end this week after dragging out through an offseason. That had to be awful for him to sit and think and wait and wait. Honestly, I thought he would have dropped the streak on day one, but the first week isn't all that surprising. Hell, if Joe couldn't hold up with the constant pressure and the spikes in interest (the story goes that had he hit 57, he had a deal with Heinz ketchup waiting in the wings) I didn't think Jimmy had much of a shot. Nice run, though.
  • Braves - Mazzone = 53 runs to lead the majors since Rockin Leo left, according to ESPN. Are 53 runs the end of the world? Nope. Nor are any of the other fast or slow starts right now. For this, I won't jump on the White Sox, whip up the crowd for the Cubs or get too excited over individual stats until later this week. This is a good plan, just ask Barry Zito owners in the fantasy leagues... or Daniel Cabrera owners. Ouch, sorry, Tank.
  • At least one team a day has had double-digit runs in the video gameification of the sports world. After a few weeks with MLB 06: The Show I was a little suspicious of the amount of ground rule doubles. Granted, it depends on the parks - low walls in the outfield in Fenway mean more doubles there than in Pittsburgh, etc. - but in the first week, I've seen more ground rule doubles than I can remember in one week. Must be the old "Why does it rain when I wash my car?" thing, but it's still very strange. In the couse of a week I saw them hit by the White Sox in Chicago and several other parks not known for lowered walls. Weird.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What the hell are they teaching you in Japan?

I tuned in to the Mariners/A's game tonight to see Felix Hernandez give it a run in the new season. While he pitched well, especially for a 19-year-old, his pitch counts were way out of whack.

He had something in the neighborhood of 80-plus pitches in the fifth inning after some long at-bats against a few particularly tough Oakland veterans. Good for them.

Still, the curveball he was working before he was taken out was some nasty, nasty shit. The added bonus is that he's locating it for strikes which is worth noting, and fantasy managers should sleep a little better tonight.

On the other end of the battery, Kenji Johjima was worth watching again tonight. After a hot start power-wise (a few homers to start the season, including his first which was juuuuust over the right field wall) I watched a bit closer tonight to the defensive side of his game.

Glen Kuiper, Tim Roye, and Hank Greenwald are listed as the A's announcers, but I can't fully confirm this right now. If they are, great job. They were the ones who broke down Johjima's defensive shortcomings and did so in a manner that wasn't homerism or trying to undermine the opposing franchise.

Imagine that.

The main point they were making is that Johjima has a hard time framing pitches. In short, that means moving your catcher's mitt as little as possible to try and sell the umpire on the fact that the pitch was right where you wanted it and that it was in the strike zone right where your glove is now.

Really good defensive catchers can pull balls back into the strike zone and will shift their entire bodies inside or out to try and enhance the optical illusions that the ball is right on the corner, even if it came in a few inches low or wide. It's pretty simple in theory.

Here's where the A's crew came in, though. They correctly pointed out the pattern of Johjima stabbing at balls with his mitt, really doing his pitchers a disservice. If you are a catcher who keeps doing this, you will have a hard time finding a seat on the team bus and if it keeps up, a job.

OK, hold your left hand out in front of you if no one is watching and make an "L" with your thump and index finger like you're getting ready to catch a pitch. Imagine that pitch is coming in at 95 miles an hour and that it's coming in a lot lower than it should. Johjima's main problem is that he's throwing his hand out there and coming at the ball from the top.

The preferred method that allows you to frame pitches better is to back your mitt up a bit and try to catch the ball with your palm up. Instead of swatting down over the ball, imagine taking that "L" and flipping your hand over quickly like you were getting change at a cash register.

It might not seem like a big deal, but it is.

In Friday's game, Hernandez was run a batter or two - maybe an inning - early because the borderline pitches weren't going his way. When you have a rookie who needs to earn close calls and the catcher isn't framing pitches well, that pitcher is going to have to work a lot harder to get clear of innings. Add another batter an inning and that's roughly 20-25 pitches over five innings.

Johjima won seven Gold Gloves in Japan - after seeing Friday's game, I have no idea what the Japanese standards are. Granted, the Gold Gloves wouldn't really take that into account, but it should look at catchers as a whole defensive picture.

Finally, the really baseball nerd portion of the post.

Top of the sixth, bases loaded, two out and Hernandez has already been shown the showers for the evening. The A's broadcasters have begun to pick up on the framing problems by Johjima and are in the "watch on this pitch" portion of the game.

Nick Swisher is up and Julio Mateo is pitching. Johjima stabs a ball down and Oakland's booth show how when the ball crossed the plate, it was knee high. This is ball seven or eight they've seen that has been caught sloppily.

Mateo has 160-something games under his belt, but I'm pretty sure he sees what his catcher is doing and on the next pitch, he picks a target 8 to 10 inches higher than his last pitch and it's enough that Swisher tees off on it, nearly hitting a grand slam.

When you watch SportsCenter Saturday morning, this is the play where Frank Thomas scores from third and Milton Bradley misses the bag on his way home, has to back track and gets caught in a rundown. The two pitches leading into that play though are the important part for Mariners fans, though.

After something like seven catchers in two years, they assumed Johjima would be another diamond from the island like Ichiro has been. I think he's a good catcher and have both on my fantasy team, but unless his handling of that pitching staff improves, there's going to be a riot in Seattle.

With an iffy pitching staff, they need all the help they can get. A catcher who prolongs innings and takes strikes from those pitchers, tiring them out prematurely, frustrating them and making them choose poor locations for the pitches is going to be the quick way out of town.

Keep an eye on him this weekend - this seems like an easy problem to fix and probably just one of those things that he's forgetting in the whirlwind of his first season in American pro ball. Even so, it made for an interesting sub-plot Friday night.

Well, interesting to baseball nerds like me.

(Photo from

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005 AL MVP!

Oh, Alex Rodriguez, you silly, slap-happy little bitch.

You began (and will end) the day tied for the lead in the majors with 5 RBI, unfortunately, none of them will come this evening.

After Monday night's violation of the Athletics, Oakland and hell it was so bad, I'm sure dead fans of the Philadelphia Athletics are tossing about in coffins in Pennsylvania right now, I was wondering how the Yankees would follow up that performance. Let's face facts, 15-2 is a beating and at your home opener, that doesn't go over too well.

More specifically, I wanted to watch to see what you would do, A-Rod. True to form, you shine in the worthless moments and shrink from glory in the clutch. This is not just the biased view of a Red Sox fan, this is the thought process of impartial observers and even some of your own.

While I would love cite former choke jobs and worthless lead-padding homers, let's just focus on the past two days - new season, fresh start, OK, buddy? OK.

In the above-mentioned drubbing, you cranked a grand slam, making you one of the few Yankees in history to do so. Congrats, that second-inning shot helped drive Barry Zito from the game in record time. Still, it was the second inning and the score was at the tipping point before the floodgates opened.

To give credit where it's due, nice hit, but it really wasn't a pressure situation. Like say, oh, two on, two out in the ninth in the rain tonight.

After striking out to Rich Harden in the first, you scattered a few singles before you struck out again, this time to Justin Duchscherer. Still, 2-for-4 with two Ks isn't so bad, right? Right.

What makes you A-Rod is the ground out with two down in the ninth. With Johnny Damon in scoring position and Gary Sheffield on first, you scorched one right up the middle at the shortstop. The A's scored in the bottom to take the win.

This is why when you come to bat in September, people you have never met (in bars you will never visit) stand back and say, "No way he gets a hit here. No way." Eventually you're going to run out of time to prove them wrong.

Not damning you yet, A-Rod (well for this season, at least), but let's just say you've been warned. I have my eye on you.

(Photo from:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Don't hurt yourself, stupid

Simply by referring to the law of probability, you'd think at least one professional baseball player per year would be injured on Opening Day, right? Men who have taken a winter off, have eased back into competition this spring and are now asked to perform on a professional level? Seems like a recipe for disaster.

Don't believe me? Check out CC Sabathia or Bartolo Colon. Then again, ask Rod Beck who once said, "I sure don't think of myself as a fat person, just someone who carries extra weight. I've never seen anyone on the DL with pulled fat." He's got a point.

Sabathia was hurt in his first outing, which places him ahead of Oakland's Bobby Crosby, who broke two ribs in batting practice before the opening game.

In no particular order (and subject to change if I remember/hear of a better injury) here are my Top 10 favorite baseball injuries.

10.) Jose Cardenal missed a game in 1972 after a sleepless night at the hotel. The cause? Excessive cricket chirping outside his window. Two years later, he refuses to pitch, claiming his eyelids are stuck open, leaving him unable to blink.

9.) Ken Griffey Jr. didn't always have serious injuries, like he's been plagued with since joining the Reds. No, once he missed a game when his protective cup slipped and pinched his testicle.

8.) Rickey Henderson missed a series of games after falling asleep on an ice pack and getting frostbite in August. Bonu points because I believe this was when he was in Oakland, too.

7.) Terry Mullholland sat out after scratching his eye on a pillow. He story is that a feather was sticking out and the base of it caught his eye the wrong way.

6.) Carlos Perez, a pticher, was hurt in a car accident (broken nose) as he was trying to pass the team bus. While I'm sure there's a better story here, I can't find it. Why wasn't he on the bus? Was he racing it at the time, showing off? I need to know this.

5.) Chicago's own Carlos Zambrano was told to knock it off with the web surfing. He was diagnosed with carpal tunnel after spending too much time on the Internet "e-mailing with his brother in Venezuela." Right.

4.) Mark Smith of the Orioles injured his hand when he stuck it into an air conditioner to see why it wasn't working. As I learned in first grade, Mark, "You see with your eyes, not with your hands..."

3.) Doc Gooden owed over $100K to his dealer... no, wait, different story. He was struck in the face with a golf club by Vince Coleman who was showing off his swing in the clubhouse.

2.) Karma pays Coleman back big time and forces him to miss the 1985 World Series after he was caught in the tarp machine as it was running.

1.) Glenallen Hill has the greatet single injury in the history of baseball. The highly arachnophobic Hill had a nightmare about spiders, began freaking out and in his semi-concious state crashed through a glass table. He then thrashed about in the broken glass trying to rid himself of the spiders.

(Photos from Reuters / Aaron Josefczyk; Thanks to these pages for helping me to nail down injury dates in some places. Oh, and ESPN, too.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

October? Don't mind if we do.

Here's the danger of doing a post season prediction post in April - if 20 percent of these hit, I'll be really happy. If I happen to pick my way to a World Series winner, I'll kick myself for not locking that in with some action in Vegas.

In the AL, I have New York, Chicago and Oakland. In the NL, I have Atlanta, St. Louis and Los Angeles. That leaves the wild cards.

In terms of viable wild card options, there's Boston, Toronto, Cleveland and Los Angeles (of Anaheim). Second-tier is Minnesota and Seattle or Texas (herein lies another danger - I'm watching Seattle right now make their way back on the Angels and thinking, "Hmm... maybe?" Then, I realize if there were any pitchers on the Mariners, Jamie Moyer wouldn't be getting the start today.)

OK, let's knock that down to Boston, Cleveland and Toronto. I think in the AL that New York/Boston and Chicago/Cleveland are neck and neck on paper. If you flip them, I'm not surprised at all. However, the wild card is going to the AL Central runner up this year.

With the additions to Toronto and Baltimore, some of those wins out east are going to dry up. Simply put, whoever finishes second in the east, finishes out of the playoffs. Welcome to October, Indians.

In the National League, the contenders are the Mets, Cubs and Astros. I kow I have the Astros as fourth in the NL Central, but that division is so jacked up that I have no problems lumping them in as a Wild Card contender.

Not that it matters much, because I think the team that makes it will come out of the East. The Mets have the strongest case there, but assuming that New York keeps pace, the Braves won't be the ones to drop the ball, either.

So that leaves this line up for October:

New York

St. Louis
Los Angeles
*New York

Honestly, there's no real analysis that's going to follow here, so here's the true thought process. In the AL, this is the most stable Yankees team in a few years. They didn't blow arpart the team and added Johnny Damon. Instead of their usual All-Star team routine where the team flops around until July and then comes together down the stretch, the core from last year has been left intact. That's going to be tough to beat.

The NL is a process of elimination. Read the following sentence out loud, adding in those NL teams in the blank. "Wow, it sshould be a really tight World Series with the _________ in there for the National League. This might be the NL's year!"

Yeah, St. Louis.

They've come too close too often and have the pitching this year. Barring injuries again this year, I see Cards over Yankees and can't remember whose prediction that was at ESPN, but I'll be sure to check now.

Of course, this is after Albert Pujols kicked off the season with two home runs, so that may be playing a part in the prognostication. Damn, procrastination doesn't ever pay, does it?

The most wonderful day of the year

Originally uploaded by Minneapolis Red Sox.

I'll try to keep the over the top musings to a minimum... at least until after the first few games Monday.

I will say this, no other day brings so much promise than Opening Day. Thanks to 162 games and months and months of play, I can honestly say that every team that takes the field tomorrow has a chance to make the World Series.

Some chances are better than others and some teams' margin for error is so thing that a week of losses off the bat takes them out of the running, but when the teams take the field tomorrow afternoon and evening every fan can honestly say that their team has a shot at the pennant.

Enjoy that while it lasts, Kansas City.