MLB General

The Full Count: Hey, don’t forget about baseball

1. The Amazing A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez is having the best month of his incredible season so far in September. He has 8 homers and 15 RBIs in just eight games this month, including a home run in five straight games. Rodriguez now has 52 long balls this year, setting a new MLB record for a third baseman. He is the first Yankee to hit fifty homers in a season since 1961, and is only the fourth MLB player ever to record at least three fifty-homer seasons (Ruth, Sosa, and McGwire). If he remains hot he could record a 60-160 season, which only Ruth and Sosa have ever accomplished. Rodriguez helped the Yanks to a 6-3 win over the Royals, with Chien-Ming Wang picking up his 18th win. Wang remains tied with Josh Beckett for the major league wins lead. The Yankees swept the Royals for the second straight series, and they took 9 out of 10 games against KC this season. Barring a complete collapse they should win the wild card, as they have a four game lead over the inconsistent Tigers.

2. The Crazy Central: The NL Central lead changed hands once again, as the hot Brewers passed the slumping Cubs. Milwaukee has won 4 out of its last 5 games to retake their lead, which they have held the majority of the season. They beat the Reds 10-5 on Sunday thanks to six homers. Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks each went deep twice, with Braun recording his 30th homer in only 94 games. Ben Sheets improved to 12-4 despite allowing five runs, but he fared much better than Reds starter Phil Dumatrait. Dumatrait failed to record an out, giving up homers to Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Braun to lead off the game. He is 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA in six starts this year, making him perhaps the worst pitcher in baseball. Dumatrait has more runs allowed than innings pitched in all but one of his starts this season. The Brewers should be able to hold on to the division lead for a while, as they will face the three worst teams in their division (Pirates, Reds, Astros) in consecutive series.

3. D-Back Domination: Arizona is beginning to pull away in the NL West division, with five straight wins. They swept the Cardinals over the weekend, extending their lead to three games over the Padres. All three games were close, and the Diamondbacks relied on stellar bullpen play to win. On Sunday they won 6-5 thanks to a four-run rally in the seventh. Bob Wickman, who was acquired off waivers, pitched a scoreless inning in his debut for Arizona. The Diamondbacks continue to win despite a pitiful .248 team batting average and a mediocre bottom of the rotation. This is due mainly to their bullpen, which features four relievers who have below a 3.00 ERA. Arizona, who is tied for the NL wins lead at 81, is certainly the surprise story of the majors this season.

Player of the Day: Johan Santana, Twins: 7 innings, five hits, one run, 10 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the White Sox. Santana ended a personal slump as well as a six-game losing streak for Minnesota.

MLB General

The Full Count: Ray of hope

1. Coming out of Nowhere: Possibly the most underreported story of the year has been the random emergence of Devil Rays first baseman Carlos Pena. Despite playing on the league’s worst team, Pena has 37 homers (2nd in the league), 105 RBIs (4th), and a 1.014 OPS (3rd). All of those numbers rank higher than David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, and a host of other All Stars. Pena led the charge for the D-Rays on Wednesday with 2 homers and 7 RBIs in a 17-2 rout of the Orioles. Eight of Tampa’s nine starters had a multi-hit game, and they had 22 hits and 5 homers in all. The real story is Pena, who has 9 homers and 22 RBIs in his last 11 games. The D-Rays have won 8 of those 11 games, but are still the worst team in baseball. Pena’s play would warrant MVP consideration if he played on almost any other team in the majors.

2. The Terrific Tribe: After finishing in a disappointing fourth place last season, the Indians are rolling in first and have already passed their 2006 win total. They completed their second consecutive sweep of the Twins on Wednesday in a 6-2 win. Overall they finished 14-4 against the Twins this year, with four sweeps in six series. Fausto Carmona, who improved to 15-8 with the victory, has been a surprise standout for the Indians. Though his numbers rival CC Sabathia in most major categories (3.27 ERA vs. 3.24), he hasn’t generated nearly as much Cy Young talk. On offense, Travis Hafner has regained his swing with 13 RBIs his last 11 games. Victor Martinez knocked in his 100th RBI of the season and 400th for his career. Over all, the Indians are a whopping seven games ahead of the still-struggling Tigers, who led the division the majority of the season.

3. The Brewers are Back: The Brewers, who were awful in August and fell to third place, now have a chance to capture the division lead. They are only a half game back after winning 4 out of 5, and their upcoming schedule is as easy as it gets. They have multiple series against the worst teams in their division, playing Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Houston over the next two weeks. The Cubs’ schedule is just as easy, as they will not play a winning team the rest of the season. The Brewers just finished up a series with the Astros, which they won 2-1. On Wednesday, they hit five homers in a 14-2 victory. Prince Fielder went deep for the 41st time, which is second in the majors. Rookie of the Year lock Ryan Braun hit his 28th homer. Braun has 78 RBIs and a .334 average in 91 games this year. For Milwaukee, the victory was the 45th at home this year, the most in the NL and third-most in the majors. On the other hand, their road record is awful at 26-42.

Player of the Day: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 2-3, 2 HR (48), 3 RBIs (134) in a 10-2 win over Seattle. A-Rod continues to pad his numbers and remains the clear MVP favorite. The Yankees now lead the Mariners by three games in the wild card race.

MLB General

The Full Count: Milestone Weekend

1. Join the Club: The day after A-Rod’s 500th homer and Barry Bonds’ 755th, Tom Glavine reached yet another milestone. Glavine became the 23rd pitcher to reach the 300 win club, and only the 5th lefty. He joins Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux as the only players this decade to reach the mark. Glavine won his 300th like he won his first 299–by mixing pitches, being efficient, and using off-speed pitches effectively. Glavine has won ten or more games 18 of the last 19 seasons. He has 58 wins in five seasons with the Mets, with all his other wins coming in 16 years in Atlanta. The Hall of Fame lock went 6 and 1/3 innings against the Cubs, with two runs allowed and only one strikeout in an 8-3 win. Glavine even drove in a run for New York, which has the best record in the National League at 63-48. Contrary to widespread belief, Glavine will not be the last pitcher to reach 300 wins. However, it will likely be 10-15 years before another pitcher gets to 300.

2. The New Western Power: For most of this season, the Dodgers and Padres have dominated the NL West. But now, the balance of power in the division has changed tremendously with the Diamondbacks’ claiming of first place. They took the lead last week, then reinforced their position by taking 5 of 6 games from San Diego and Los Angeles in back-to-back series. The Dodgers were the victims over the weekend, with a sweep at the hands of Arizona. On Sunday Brandon Webb outdeuled Brad Penny in a 3-0 win for the D-backs. Webb tossed a complete-game shutout, giving him 23 straight scoreless innings. The defending Cy Young winner has suddenly become a candidate for the award this season as well, especially is he keeps up his post-All Star break pace. Penny lost his second start in a row after a 13-1 start. He allowed three runs in seven innings, and still has an excellent 2.66 ERA. The Dodgers, once the standard in the division, are now four games back. San Diego swept the Giants over the weekend and is just a half-game back.

3. Detroit’s Downfall: Not so long ago, the Tigers had the best record in the majors. But after a 2-11 stretch, they no longer even lead their division. The slump is mainly due to offense–they’ve averaged only 3.6 runs per game their last ten. The Yankees have passed them as the major league run leaders, and other teams aren’t far behind what was once the league’s dominant lineup. They were swept by the lowly White Sox this weekend, though thanks to poor play by the Indians, the Tigers are just a half-game back in their division. The Twins, at 4.5 games back, have played better than any team in the division recently.

Player of the Day: Scott Baker, Twins: 8 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 4 K’s in a 1-0 win over Cleveland.

MLB General

The Full Count: Lou Pinella is earning his paycheck

1. Here Come the Cubs: The Chicago Cubs have gone from a disappointment to two games back in the division over the last two months. They are 31-15 since June 2 after yet another win on Wednesday. Red-hot starter Ted Lilly won his seventh straight decision, improving to 11-4 on the year. Lilly is 5-0 in July with a 1.83 ERA. He helped the Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-1, giving them a 2-0 series lead in St. Louis. The Cubs now are right on the tails of Milwaukee, who has led the division almost the entire season. With an excellent pitching staff that has allowed the second-fewest runs in the National League (San Diego), the Cubs certainly have the tools to make the playoffs.

2. 2 games, 2 runs: The Indians and Red Sox are two high-scoring teams, but the last two games of their series have been all about pitching. After a 1-0 win for Boston on Tuesday, Cleveland won 1-0 on Wednesday. Fausto Carmona, the most underrated pitcher in the majors this season, outdeuled Josh Beckett for the win. Beckett (13-4, 3.27 ERA) has received all the attention, but Carmona (13-4, 3.31) has been just as good. Carmona pitched eight shutout innings for his second straight start, and is 5-0 in the month of July. Beckett went eight strong but lost for the third time since June 30.

3. Nearing Milestones: This season in baseball has been highlighted by milestones, from Bonds’ homerun chase to Clemens’ 350th win to Biggio’s 3000th hit. On Wednesday, two players came closer to two of the game’s most important marks. Tom Glavine won his 299th career game, while Alex Rodriguez hit his 499th career homerun. Glavine improved to 9-6 on the season despite a 4.51 ERA. He has a 6.35 ERA since June 10 but is still 3-3 in that span. Glavine is now 299-197 for his career and remains one of the more underappreciated players in the game. Meanwhile, A-Rod hit his league-leading 35th homer of the year in the Yankees’ sixth straight win. He also now has 102 RBIs, becoming the first player in the league this season to reach triple digit RBIs. His 499 homers have come over only 12 seasons, and he now has ten straight years of 35 or more long balls. These players should reach 300 and 500 within the next week, well before Bonds hits 755.

Player of the Day: Ryan Raburn, Tigers: 4-5, 2 homers, 7 RBIs, 3 runs in the Tigers’ 13-9 win over Chicago. Raburn, who is playing in his first major league season since 2004, made good use of his fourth start of the season.


The 2007 50 Highest Paid American Athletes

Still good to be Tiger

SI has released their list of the top U.S. money earners for 2007. Of course, Tiger Woods is #1 with his $100M in endorsement money and the regular cast of characters fill out the top 10 (Shaq, Kobe, Mickelson, A-Rod, etc.) but it’s really the middle of the list that is the most interesting.

We spotted two types of athletes in addition to the genuine superstars. First, you have the washed up former superstar that is making a ton of cash on their contracts (thank you stupid GMs!) and practically nothing in endorsements. These are mostly NBA players (Michael Finley, Jalen Rose, Eddie Jones, Steve Fraacis, Grant Hill) but also includes useless baseball player Jason Giambi.

The second anomaly is the overhyped athlete that hasn’t done a damn thing but manages to get into this list by virtue of the great hype machine. Well… it’s just one person actually — Michelle Wie. With only $700k in earnings, she manages to come in at #22 with $19.5M in endorsements. What a joke.

The full list of the Top 50 earning American athletes in 2007 after the jump.

New York Yankees

A-Rod "likes the she-male, muscular type." Hmmmm… like Derek Jeter?

Cynthia Rodriguez is not happy

We had a whole conspiracy theory yesterday that the report and pictures of Alex Rodriguez with some blonde in Toronto was drummed up by A-Rod and the Yankees to take everyone’s attention away from the fact that the Yankees are in last place in the AL East and effectively out of competition for the title. Well, either A-Rod’s wife is in on it too or he’s in serious trouble.

The NY Daily News, with writers who were chewed out by the Editor in Chief for missing out on the scoop, launched into a full fledged investigation in multiple cities about A-Rod’s womanizing. The Daily News reports that A-Rod’s wife Cynthia packed up a couple of suitcases and left their East Side condo. But that’s not all, they also report on possible infidelities in Miami, Tampa and Las Vegas. It seems taking hot chicks to strip clubs is A-Rod’s M.O.

There are a couple of startling revelations in this Pulitzer -worthy piece. First, a (we assume female looking) stripper claims that A-Rod “likes the she-male, muscular type. They brought me up to the champagne room one time. I spun around once and that was it. I’m not his type.” Second, A-Rod, king of the strip clubs, “loves to text dirty.” (How much do you want to bet some blog is already working on a fictitious A-Rod text message log?)

Luckily for Yankees fans, both Rodriguez and Torre have said that these reports won’t affect the play of the Yankees. So expect a lot of below .500 ball for the rest of the year.

And finally, Sports by Brooks tells us that those ESPN douchebags Mike and Mike are appalled that anyone would spill the beans about infidelity on a major baseball superstar. Mike Golic probably got some tail by virtue of his professional athlete status but you know Greenie had to pay for it.


[NY Daily News]: As wife packs up, is A-Rod out at home?

New York Yankees

A-Rod might need a good divorce lawyer

We love that the Yankees have lost 5 in a row, are tied with the Devil Rays for last place and are 14.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East yet the biggest story for the NY Post is that A-Rod was caught tooling around Toronto with some busty blonde.

According to the Post, A-Rod was spotted dining with the blonde and two men at a steakhouse. The foursome then proceeded to the Brass Rail, a strip club. After their strip club venture, the couple ditched the two men and went back to the Four Seasons, where, we assume A-Rod upped his stats for the day to 1-for-4.

Now, there are two ways to look at this: either A-Rod is a goddamn idiot or this is a genius move by both A-Rod and the Yankees. If everyone in NY is talking about the tail that A-Rod picked up in Toronto, perhaps no one is talking about the absolute travesty that is the Yankees 2007 season. On top of that, he gets the side benefit of squashing those Gay-Rod rumors. You might have a wife and be gay but you don’t go out and appear to cheat on her with a hot blonde. We suspect that this might have been cooked up with Cashman and the Yankees PR staff — but then again, we are partial to conspiracy theories.


MLB General

The Full Count: Rangers are offensive

1. Two games, 28 runs: The Rangers’ pitching may never be good enough, but their hitting is always playoff-team caliber. On Monday they scored 14 runs for their second consecutive game as they pounded the Twins 14-4. Catcher Gerald Laird hit a grand slam, Sammy Sosa had three RBIs, and Kenny Lofton had three runs for Texas. Carlos Silva had his worst start of the season for Minnesota, as he gave up seven runs in just 4 innings. Reliever Julio DePaula also allowed seven runs in just one inning. The Rangers are still one of the worst teams in the AL at 18-27, but they now rank fifth in the league in runs scored. Unfortunately for Rangers fans, they’ve allowed more runs than anybody in baseball except the Devil Rays.

2. A-Rod is Back: After a 22-game streak in which he only had 1 homer and 5 RBIs, Alex Rodriguez is back to his April self. He has homered in three straight games, bringing his major-league leading total to 18. This is his third streak this season of three or more consecutive games with a homer. He helped the Yankees beat the Red Sox to start off a crucial series. On the pitching side of things, Chien Ming-Wang outdeuled the suddenly struggling Tim Wakefield. Ming-Wang pitched six innings and recorded a season-high five strikeouts, while Wakefield allowed six runs. The host Yankees won 6-2 to slash Boston’s division lead back to single digits (9.5 games). The 20-23 Yankees still have a lot of work to do to catch up with Boston, who is the only major league team with 30 wins.

3. The Power of the Brewers: Who would have thought Milwaukee would be one of the most powerful teams in the majors this season? They rank second in the majors in homers (behind Texas) and third in slugging percentage. The Brewers also have the two leading NL homerun hitters in JJ Hardy and Prince Fielder, who have 14 apiece. Fielder hit two bombs last night in their 9-5 win over the Dodgers. Just wait until their most powerful hitter from last year, Bill Hall, finds his stroke.

Player of the Day: Noah Lowry, Giants: 7 innings, no runs in a 4-0 win over Houston. Lowry has silently put up a 2.69 ERA, fifth best in the NL.

MLB General

The Full Count: Fun with April Numbers

1. Random Projections: April is now over and some ridiculous stats are in the books. If everything went just like it did in April:

– Alex Rodriguez would hit 99 homers and 239 RBIs.
– Josh Beckett would go 31-0.
– Francisco Cordero and Jose Valverde would each have 65 saves.
– Matt Holliday would have 262 hits.
– Jose Reyes would steal 115 bases.
– Kelly Johnson would have more walks than Barry Bonds.
– Bonds would hit 58 homers in only 429 at-bats.
– Vicente Padilla would go 0-24.

2. Complete Dominance: Only three starts after a 10-inning complete game, Roy Halladay was back in domination mode against the Rangers. He threw a complete-game, allowed just one run, and struck out 8. The Blue Jays gave Halladay plenty of support for the win, and now he’s 4-0. If there’s anything this Cy Young candidate has to be concerned about, it’s lasting through the season: he’s thrown 100 or more pitches in five of his six starts. After the 6-1 win, the Jays are 13-12 and in second place in the AL East.

3. Another Webb Gem: Defending Cy Young winner Brandon Webb was shaky his first three starts, but now he’s settled down into his usual dominant self. His last three outings have all been quality starts, including a 7-inning, one-run effort on Monday. Webb, backed by the Diamondbacks’ offense, helped the team move into first place as they beat the Dodgers. The 9-1 rout featured hits from nine players and RBIs from seven. Chris Young hit two homers as Dodgers starter Randy Wolf had another tough outing.

4. Not slowing down: The Brewers haven’t showed any signs of decline after taking the NL Central division lead earlier this year. On Monday, they crushed the three-time defending division champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals were playing in their first game after pitcher Josh Hancock’s death. But usually tragic events like that make a team stronger, and that certainly wasn’t the case against the Brewers. Milwaukee won 7-1, thanks to a complete-game by Jeff Suppan, who has won four starts in a row. On offense Prince Fielder hit his 6th long ball of the year as they tagged Cards starter Kip Wells for seven runs. The 16-9 Brewers are now tied with the Braves for the best record in the National League.

Player of the Day: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays: 9 innings, one run, no walks, 8 strikeouts in a 6-1 win over Texas.

MLB General

The Full Count: Losing the Arms Race

1. All Bats, No Arms: The Yankees have a problem. Their lineup is great — probably the best in the majors — and Alex Rodriguez is already breaking records this season. But, due to injuries and bad trades, they have awful pitching. After allowing four homeruns in a row in a Sunday loss to the Red Sox, the Yanks were torched by the Devil Rays on Monday night. Kei Igawa allowed 7 earned runs and could make it out of the 5th inning. His ERA in four starts is 7.84. Rocco Baldelli, BJ Upton, and other youngsters took advantage as the D-Rays continued their offensive success with a 10-run performance.

Even in a winning effort, the Devil Rays could not stop Alex Rodriguez. He hit two homers, giving him 14 on the year. That ties Albert Pujols’ record for homers in the month of April (set last year), and A-Rod still has six games left in the month. He also now has 34 RBIs, one short of the record. But still, despite scoring 8 runs, the Yankees lost their fourth in a row and are now just a half game ahead of Tampa for last place in the division.

2. Fluke or no Fluke?: Could the Brewers actually be a good team? At 12-7, they lead the NL Central division easily and have won 4 out of their last 5 games. Milwaukee beat the Cubs on Monday in 12 innings. They were down 4-0 but rallied back to tie the game in the eighth. Then Prince Fielder had a solo homerun to win the game, his second of the day. Shortstop JJ Hardy homered, giving him 6 on the year which ranks second in the league. I’m still not sold on this team, but their upcoming series against the Astros and Cardinals will help show if they are for real.

3. AL Central Delivers: The division race that seemed exciting even before the season started — the AL Central — has not disappointed. The top four teams (the Tigers, Twins, Indians, and White Sox) are all within a half-game of the division lead. On Monday the White Sox and Tigers beat the Royals and Angels, while the Indians beat the Twins. Minnesota has led the division most of the season, but they just lost a series to the Royals. Maybe when Johan Santana pitches tonight they’ll do better. Upcoming interdivision series include Tigers-White Sox and Tigers-Twins.

Co-Players of the Day: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 4-5, 2 HR (14), 3 RBIs in 8-10 loss to the Devil Rays. Jimmie Rollins, Phillies: 4-5, HR (7), 4 runs, 2 RBIs in an 11-4 win over Houston.

Stat of the Day: The Yankees starting pitchers have averaged 4.8 innings per start, the worst mark in the majors.