MLB General

The Full Count: See NY? This is what happens when you don’t boo A-Rod

Boo me now, bitches!

1. Who’s Booing Now?: Alex Rodriguez getting booed at home was not a newsworthy event last year. But this season, he’s been the only reason the Yankees aren’t in last place. A-Rod has been absolutely sensational to say the least, and he continued on Thursday with a walk-off three-run homer. The blast was his 10th of the year; he has 26 RBIs and leads the majors in almost every major category. Rodriguez’s game-winner simply put an exclamation point on an already impressive comeback by New York. The Yanks were down 6-2 to start the ninth, but Josh Phelps hit a solo homer, then Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu each hit RBI singles. A-Rod’s shot won the game, sent the Yanks to second place, and ruined Joe Borowski’s ERA.

2. MVP vs. LVP: Another player who has proved invaluable to his team this year is Cubs starter Rich Hill. While Chicago stands at a mediocre 6-9, they would be even worse if it wasn’t for Hill, who has won half their games. He pitched 8 innings against the Braves, allowing no runs to bring his ERA down to 0.41. The Braves’ starter, Mark Redman, gave a much better effort than his first two starts of the year, but was not supported at all by the offense. Redman is now 0-3 on the year, accountable for the majority of the Braves’ 5 losses. Hill seems like he’s an All Star selection right now, while Redman could be demoted from the rotation unless he improves.

3. Manny’s Back: Many stars have struggled this year, and Manny Ramirez was one of them. The slugger had no homeruns in the team’s first 13 games, and was hitting under .200. But last night his first homer was huge for the Red Sox. The Blue Jays were up 3-1 entering the eighth inning, when Manny launched a two-run shot to tie the game. Then the Sox scored two more runs in the ninth, and Jonathan Papelbon sealed the deal for his fourth save. Boston is now 9-5, good for the division lead. But that all could change when they face the Yankees at Fenway for a three-game set this weekend.

Player of the Day: Rich Hill, Cubs: 8 innings, 9 runs, 7 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over Atlanta.

Walk Off: Here are the division leaders right now: Boston, Minnesota, Oakland, New York, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles. Of those, five have been perennial contenders the last few years. But how is Milwaukee so good? They were a sleeper pick to start the year, but do they have any potential to continue their success? The answer lies in their pitching. In six of their nine wins, the Brewers have allowed 3 runs or less. Francisco Cordero hasn’t given up a run in 5 saves, but beyond that, their pitchers have simply been lucky and/or inconsistent. Chris Capuano hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning but is 2-0. Jeff Suppan has been good but not dominant, while Ben Sheets and Doug Davis have only been good one out of their three starts. Of course Sheets has ace potential, but the rest of the rotation seems mediocre. I don’t think this team will last–their above average hitting will regress as well. I still think St. Louis is the team to beat in the division, even though they’re in last right now. If they can’t do it, Houston will take advantage and win the division.

MLB General

The Full Count: Dice-K can’t catch a break

1. Bad Roll of the Dice: Daisuke Matsuzaka is perhaps the unluckiest pitcher in baseball this season. He has lost two starts in a row despite pitching a quality start in both games. Dice-K was simply outpitched by Felix Hernandez a week ago and Gustavo Chacin on Tuesday. Chacin improved to 2-0 for the Blue Jays after allowing one run into the seventh inning. Matsuzaka, meanwhile, allowed three runs and struck out 10 but didn’t get any support from the offense. With the win the Blue Jays passed the Sox for first place in the AL East, and there are still two games left in this series.

2. Powerhouses: Everyone knows Alex Rodriguez is great. He is having an April like Albert Pujols did last year, as he leads the majors in homers (8) and RBIs (21). Last night A-Rod was part of a Yankees offensive rampage that led to eight runs in the firs two innings and a 10-3 rout of the Indians. While it shouldn’t surprise too many people that Rodriguez is having this type of season, what is surprising is the second-most-powerful player in baseball–Ian Kinsler of the Rangers. Kinsler, a fantasy breakout pick by many this year, has provided a monstrous 7 homers and 13 RBIs, including 1 and 3 in the Rangers’ 8-1 romp over the White Sox. Also in that game, Sammy Sosa hit his third homer of the year, a three-run blast that gave him 10 RBIs. While nobody should expect Sammy to hit above .250, he could have a 30-homer season if healthy.

3. Beasts of the East: The Braves and Mets have been exchanging wins recently as they crush their divisional competition. The Braves beat the Nationals on Tuesday, led by Chipper Jones’ 4th homerun and four hits by leadoff man Kelly Johnson. The Mets, meanwhile, manhandled the Phillies 8-1. Moises Alou of all people had 2 homers and 3 RBIs for New York. The Braves and Mets are a half-game separated in the divisional race, with their next series against each other this weekend.

Player of the Day: Carlos Lee, Astros: 3-4, HR (5), 4 RBIs (16), and 2 runs in a 6-1 win over Florida. If there had been a Full Count on Saturday, Lee would have won this as well with a 3-homer, 6-RBI performance.

Walk Off: The Detroit Tigers are showing this year that their 2006 run was no fluke. They are 9-5 and are standing out in the crowded AL Central race. While their strength of schedule hasn’t been too impressive–they’ve played the Blue Jays twice, Orioles, and Royals twice–they are beating the teams they should beat while going 3-3 against the potent Blue Jays. The Tigers have crushed Kansas City a combined 19-11 the past two nights, showing that they have more ways to win than a pitchers duel. And the top half of their rotation–Verlander, Robertson, and Bonderman–have been fantastic. Detroit was my preseason pick to win the division, and they haven’t showed anything that would make me change my mind.

Texas Rangers

Dec 12 in Sports History: A-Rod’s big payday

Broke the bank

In 2000: Free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez cashed in big time, with a 10-year, $252 million dollar contract from the Texas Rangers. Of course, it broke every conceivable record for amount of money paid to any athlete in any sport. In 2004, he was traded to the Yankees, and A-Rod is still waiting for his first World Series ring. According to our sources, the money never bought him a hug, either.

In 1981: Wayne Gretzky set another of his untouchable records, this one the fastest to reach 50 goals. The Great One’s goal going into the year was to score 50 in 50 games, but he was way off. It only took him 39, and he accomplished it at the old Auditorium in Buffalo. Gretzky went on to smash Phil Esposito’s mark of 76 goals in a season and ended up with a mind-boggling 92.

In 1965: While everyone is talking about Bears’ rookie Devin Hester’s performance last night against the Rams with two kick returns for touchdowns, his performance doesn’t quite match the great Gale Sayers. The Kansas rookie set a record with six touchdowns in a game against the San Francisco 49ers. Played on a muddy Wrigley Field surface, Sayers’ scores included an 80 yard reception, a 50 yard run and an 65 yard punt return. His 22 touchdowns in 1965 are an NFL rookie record.

Chicago Cubs

Lou Pinella joins Cubs, denies wanting A-Rod

They can get their tips frosted together!

Lou Pinella (stealer of wallets) was officially introduced as the Cubs manager today. He signed a three year contract worth $10M with a club option for a fourth year. His first official act was to deny an ESPN report that he wanted to trade for A-Rod. A lot of speculation has gone into an A-Rod to Cubs trade because of the relationship that Pinella has with Alex Rodriguez that started when A-Rod was actually a good player in Seattle.

That’s right folks. A club with a $95M payroll and 66 wins (that’s $1.4M per win if you’re counting) wants to add a $25M player who went 1 for 14 in the postseason. Brilliant. The Goat Riders of the Apocalypse is going to have plenty of time until the “end of the world”.

[Chicago Tribune]: ‘Perfect guy’ Piniella agrees to $10 million, 3-year contract
[MSNBC]: Piniella vows wins, denies A-Rod talks
[Cub Town]: Here He Comes To Save The Daaaaaaay!

[Todd Hundley Sucks]: “Lou Piniella is kind of a douchebag”

New York Yankees

Is this how the Yankees gear up for a postseason run?

The Sports Illustrated cover story about A-Rod and his struggles as a Yankee is out today and it doesn’t paint A-Rod or his teammates’ lack of support (despite what they say) in a very flattering way.

The short version goes like this:

  • A-Rod is a baseball narcissist that loves his numbers more than he cares about winning.
  • Jason Giambi told Joe Torre to stop “coddling” A-Rod.
  • Unidentified teammate: “I think he ought to get his eyes checked. I’m not kidding. I don’t think he’s seeing the ball.”
  • Another teammate: “It was always about the numbers in [Seattle and Texas] for him. And that doesn’t matter here. Winning is all you’re judged on here.”
  • Another teammate: “I honestly think he might be afraid of the ball.”
  • A-Rod basically ignores his hitting coach Don Mattingly
  • Giambi challenged A-Rod on his lack of big hits and A-Rod responded that he was finee and got 5 hits in Boston. Giambi told him, “You f—— call those hits?” Giambi said. “You had two f—— dinkers to rightfield and a ball that bounced over the third baseman! Look at how many pitches you missed!”
  • A-Rod thinks the only reason people hate him is because of his contract and often compares his stats to his peers which is a baseball no-no.

It’s going to be a rough October and offseason for A-Rod unless he delivers in the clutch and the Yankees win the World Series.

MLB General

Full Count for May 4 2006: Evil Empire is back in 1st

1. A-Rod: clutch?: Alex Rodriguez has taken many shots over his career about not being able to come through in clutch situations. This year, he is only hitting .242 with runners in scoring position. But last night, he won the game for the Yankees with a 10th inning RBI single. The Devil Rays chose to pitch to the slugger with runners on second and third and walk Hideki Matsui, but their plan backfired. The hit broke A-Rod’s 0-12 slump, and the win sent the Yankees to first place for the first time this season.

2. Showing his age: Greg Maddux has really had a spectacular season so far. At age 40, he started the year out 5-0, his best-ever start to a season. But he came back down to Earth on Wednesday, as he lost to Arizona. Maddux’s career record versus the D’Backs dropped to 1-9, his only losing record against any NL team. He was ripped for 5 runs and 10 hits in only 5 innings pitched in his worst performance of the season. Arizona’s Chad Tracy did most of the damage, with a homer and 4 RBIs. Miguel Bautista picked up the win, and surprising Jose Valverde achieved his 8th save of the year. The D’Backs are a game back of the Rockies for the NL West lead.

3. A week to remember: Only three games into this week, Travis Hafner has already put up unbelievable numbers. His homerun and 4 RBIs in the Indians rout of the A’s marked Hafner’s third straight game with these totals. So, in his last three games, he has 3 homers and 12 RBIs. The entire Indians lineup did well in a 14-3 win on Wednesday. Up 5-3 entering the 8th inning, the Indians ruined the A’s bullpen for 9 runs. In fact, no Oakland pitcher on the night allowed less than two earned runs. Indians starter Paul Byrd turned out one of his first decent performances of the year, with 3 allowed through 7. Cleveland is still 5 games back of the White Sox in the AL Central.

4. Back to 2003: Jason Schmidt has struggled ever since his magnificent 2003 and 2004 campaigns. Last night, he took the first step to getting back on track, with a shutout against the Brewers. He allowed only 5 hits and did not walk a batter on the night. This was Schmidt’s first shutout since August 2004. In other news, Barry Bonds failed to homer, going 0-4 on the night. He remained at 712 for the season. The Giants (14-13) are right in the middle of the packed NL West division, in which every team has from 12 to 16 wins.

5. Staying in Miami?: The Marlins, who have the lowest attendance and payroll in baseball, have talked about moving to a different city this year. San Antonio would certainly be a possibility. An amendment was approved by the Florida Senate that could give the team a new stadium. This is good news for a team that has the third lowest record in baseball and is in last place.