Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook, who nearly died due to complications from a lung ailment but recovered to play again in 2005, was recently awarded last year's Tony Conigliaro Comeback Player of the Year Award. The award is named in memory of the late Boston Red Sox outfielder -- pictured here on the cover of Sports Illustrated after he was beaned in his right eye in 1967 -- whose potential Hall of Fame career was cut short by the blow.
Though Conigliaro came back to play the year after the beaning by California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton, the BoSox lost Conigliaro's services in the World Series that fall and Conigliaro was never the same again.
Fans tend to forget that Conigliaro was part of a murderers row that dared defy the time-honored Willie Mays rule that batters should never antagonize pitchers. The trouble came about when Conigliaro and other BoSox batters during the pennant drive adopted the unmistakable, trade-mark batting stance of Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, who held the handle of the bat next to his ear so that the barrel rose high above his head like an exclamation point. The gesture was designed perhaps to intimidate pitchers. But its unintended consequence was that it earned pitchers' enmity, and someone paid the price.
Hamilton and Angels catcher Bob Rodgers always denied deliberately beaning Conigliaro in retaliation for his inflammatory pose at the plate, or for any other reason. But Conigliaro's family was so convinced that the knockdown was intentional that they refused to let Hamilton visit Conigliaro in the hospital. Two days after the beaning, Yastrzemski began wearing a helmet with an earflap, which is now standard major-league equipment.
And what exactly is the Willie Mays rule? One: no styling at the plate like Yaz; two: no standing in the basepath admiring the ball like Reggie Jackson; three: no fist-pumping or clapping like Kirk Gibson; four: no "one flap down" like Jeff Leonard; five: no slow-trotting around the bases like Pete Incaviglia; and six: no coming back out of the dugout to tip your hat like Mickey Mantle.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Monday, January 23, 2006
"Hey," the drunk said to the bartender, "that reminds me. Have you got any dirty pictures of your wife?"
"No!" replied the bartender indignantly.
"Good," said the drunk. "Do you want to buy some?"
The New York Mets' trade of SP Kris Benson to the Baltimore Orioles, with Benson's wife, model Anna Benson, as a throw-in, might make for the most interesting autograph sessions since Joe DiMaggio consented to sign ex-wife Marilyn Monroe's pictures in Playboy magazine. That aside, Baltimore's rotation suddenly looks much stronger now with Benson, Rodrigo Lopez, Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Hayden Penn. With Julio Lugo gone to the Mets, the battle for closer now focuses primarily on Baltimore RPs Chris Ray and LaTroy Hawkins.
Would stammer and balk and bray;
And then Theo whirled to face me,
For Theo had this to say:
"If you need me at Boston Market
To pull this wagon today,
Theo wants apples and carrots,
Plus me usual oats 'n hay;
And when we're at Boston Market,
Load this wagon just as I say,
For if you dare to oppose me,
You pull it the rest of the way."
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
A careful investigation of the Puerto Rican vital statistics office has shown conclusively that Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., who has never quite lived up to the hyperbole, is actually older than Jose Cruz Sr.
Cruz last year was the property of the Boston Red Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks, both of which thought so little of him they let him walk into the sure-handed possession of now-fired Dodgers general manager Paul Heezdetested.
Though Cruz had a decent year in 2001 - hitting 34 homers with an OPS of .856 - he has not had another full season with an OPS higher than .791. In 156 at-bats with the Dodgers last year, he batted .301 with a .923 OPS, but expect those numbers to return to earth under conditions of extended plate appearances.
Working in Cruz's favor, however, is the fact that young, supposed five-tool outfielder Jason Repko has yet to exhibit a great deal of his anticipated promise. Repko, however, did bat .291 with a league-leading 8 homers in 117 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League in 2004.
Don't be surprised if the Dodgers look over another outfielder or two during spring training.
Monday, January 16, 2006
A veteran player, Cannon took Minnesota pitcher Johan Santana with his No. 1 draft pick and relied on quality defensive players to carry him to a sparkling 33-14 record. Cannon chose spacious, pitcher-friendly Petco Field in San Diego to complement his lineup, which was characterized not only by good gloves but players with strong on-base potential. Colorado Rockies 1B Todd Helton, batting third in front of cleanup hitter Eric Chavez of the Oakland A's, provided punch in the middle of Cannon's batting order.
More than 70 participants registered for this year's tournament, which took place Jan. 11-15. Star Tournaments is a not-for-profit league that has staged tabletop baseball contests throughout the nation for about a decade.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
Rafael Belliard had just reached base with a single and the Indians desperately needed to advance him, but when manager Eric Wedge looked down his bench, who did he have to pinch hit? Jason Dubois, a sluggish, 6-foot 4 26-year-old underachiever who had never batted more than .240 in his brief major league career. USA Today Sports Weekly listed his OBP at the time at barely over the Mendoza Line.
No surprise when DuBois quickly grounded out, but shocking that the front office just eight weeks earlier failed to grasp that though the Tribe was supposedly in a rebuilding year, the team was in contention and in need of veteran help off the bench.
Too late now, but the Indians finally are beginning to boost their spare-parts department by signing free agent journeyman 1B Eduardo Perez. Perez is strictly a platoon player, and will be limited to facing lefties, but his 11 homers in 138 ABs for Florida last year show he'll be valuable in special situations.
The signing also means, of course, that incumbant 1B Ben Broussard, whom some analysts at one time had projected to be ahead of Travis Hafner, is forever devalued to starter against righties only. Now 29, Broussard once and for all can be labeled for what he is and what he will remain: a prouctive major leaguer but of marginal worth for fantasy team owners.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Monday, January 02, 2006
A couple of dull moments, and Hicks might remember the 2001 deal with Boras' last client, Chan Ho Park, who signed for $62 million and nearly destroyed his franchise.
The effervescent agent quickly shifted his personality into high gear: After presenting Hicks with an exploding cigar, he catapaulted several pieces of silverware into Hicks' drinking glass. Boras tried the old "pull-my-finger" joke, then he reached inside his $350 silk shirt and made farting noises in his armpit. And he kept pace with Hicks' every move, both of them coating each serving of the lavish eight-course meal with a half inch of ketchup.
Finally Boras drew a moustache on an oil painting of Tom Hicks' mother, and when he saw that wide, dull smile creep across the lumbering team owner's face once again, he moved in for the kill.
Using an effective yet brilliantly simple ruse, he warned Hicks his shoe was untied, even though Hicks was wearing cowboy boots, and when Hicks bent down to check, Boras quickly emptied two packets of "happy powder" into the big Texan's after-dinner mint julep.
At the end of the evening when the jovial Hicks knocked Boras' glasses off with a powerful slap across the top of the agent's back, Chan Ho Park was but a dim memory and Boras had signed Millwood to a potential five-year deal worth more than $60 million.
And it was all achieved with Hicks bidding against himself for a 31-year-old pitcher who hasn't won as many as 17 games since 2002, hasn't pitched as many as 200 innings since 2003, has for the previous three years been unable to get anything better than a one-year contact from anybody, was shown the door in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland, missed more than two months with an inflamed labrum five years ago, missed a month two years ago with a strained ligament and tendon, and only won nine games last year for the Indians, who had him under contract for a mere $3 million annual base.