Arizona Diamondbacks

Odds and Ends: More testicle news than you can stuff in a sack

Awful Announcing brought our attention to a peak and our breakfast back into our mouths when they relayed a story from ABC News concerning what lies ahead for Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder and his recently fractured testicle. Here are some of the chilling details.

“I don’t think [Synder will] have a difficult time with it,” he [Jack Llewellyn] said. “With catchers it’s a little bit of a different situation, because catchers are usually perceived as the more rugged guys on a team. They’re used to being hit by foul tips.”

Still, a testicular fracture is not something that is easily shaken off. In simple terms, a testicular fracture involves a “crack” in the testicle; the organ retains its shape, but it is damaged. Though different from a testicular rupture, which involves a complete hemorrhage of the testicle, a fracture in this delicate organ can be extraordinarily painful — and may even require surgery, in many cases.

“It is indeed extraordinarily painful,” said Dr. Mark Litwin, professor of urology and public health at the University of California at Los Angeles. Litwin adds that the natural vulnerability of testicles is “one of these anatomical curiosities med students never understand.”

“The placement of ovaries makes sense. … [Testicles] are in the worst place you could put them. They really are in harm’s way.”

Hey, Doc, you don’t need to tell wrestler D.J. St. James about that.

St. James was a freshman wrestler competing at a high school tournament six years ago. During one match, he was performing a single leg takedown on his opponent when he sustained a sudden and surprising injury.

“When he fell down, his foot came up between my legs,” St. James said. “His foot exploded my testicle.”

St. James didn’t realize the extent of his injury at first. He finished the match with a victory. But the seriousness of the situation soon hit.

“After I walked off the mat, I fell to the ground when I felt the pain,” he recalled. “I can’t describe how much it hurt. … It swelled up bigger than my fist.”


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Arizona Diamondbacks

Odds and Ends: Chris Snyder redefines the word injury

Other than gasping, dropping to our knees, rolling around on the ground and muttering “uggggh” and “owwww” under our breath, we really don’t know what else to say about this.

Catcher Chris Snyder left Monday night’s game after getting hit by a foul tip in the groin area. About an hour before Tuesday’s game the Diamondbacks put him on the 15-day disabled list with a left testicular fracture.

Snyder will undergo surgery on Wednesday with Melvin hoping his return is relatively soon.

“Hopefully looking at a 15-day period, where he is back after the All-Star break,” Melvin said after the D-Backs 8-6 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night.

Fractured testicle!? We didn’t even know it was possible to fracture your nuts. Smash, yes. Crush, yes. Pulverize, yes. But fracture? Ugh, we’re starting to get dizzy just talking about it.

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MLB General

The Full Count: Could the Rockies be favored in the World Series?

Rocky Top: It doesn’t seem like anything can stop the Rockies, or at least anything the National League has to offer. They completed a sweep of the Diamondbacks to win their seventh straight game of this postseason. They joined the 1976 Reds as the only team to do this at the start of the postseason. Their 6-4 win to cap off the series was fueled by a six-run fourth. Matt Holliday’s three-run homerun, which helped earn him the NLCS MVP award, put a cap on the scoring for the Rockies.

The Rockies’ 21 wins in 22 games is perhaps the most dominant stretch by a team at the end of the season in history. Though nobody thought they would even make the playoffs with two weeks left, they have proved themselves as by far the National League’s best team. Because of their huge streak and extended rest, they should frighten the winner of the Red Sox-Indians series. The Rockies are miles ahead of last year’s World Series champion, the Cardinals, and they are one of the NL’s best World Series representatives in recent years.

It’s not only amazing that the Rockies are winning; it’s how they’re winning. In the NLCS, they won with dominant pitching instead of their trademark slugging. The Diamondbacks only scored 8 runs in the entire series, baffled by the Rockies’ dominant bullpen. Manny Corpas, LaTroy Hawkins, and Matt Hedges among others have proved to be unstoppable in the late innings. The Indians and Red Sox both have great bullpens too, but I would take the Rockies’ relievers over anybody’s with the way they’re playing right now. At this point, it shouldn’t even be a surprise if the Rockies win the World Series.

Here Come the Indians: Prepare yourselves for an Indians-Rockies World Series, because that’s looking likely right now. The Indians, coming off Saturday’s 11-inning win, only needed nine innings to win Game 3. They beat the Red Sox 4-2 because of their superior starting pitching. Jake Westbrook was excellent, while Daisuke Matsuzaka faltered in his second straight postseason start, failing to make it out of the fifth inning again. Both team’s bullpens were near-perfect, giving the Indians the win. Right now a key for the Indians is closer Joe Borowski, who was shaky in the regular season but has a 1.80 ERA in five appearances in the postseason. Their offense is getting a key performance from at least one player each game, this time Kenny Lofton. Lofton, who hit a two-run homer to start the scoring for Cleveland, has been a surprisingly good in the playoffs so far. In what will be a do-or-die game for the Red Sox on Tuesday, Tim Wakefield will take on the Indians’ Paul Byrd.

MLB General

The Full Count: Bye Bye Yanks; LCS Picks

1. Another Disappointment: Once again, the New York Yankees had a great regular season that ended in disappointment in the playoffs. For the third straight year, they won at least 94 games but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Their last playoff victory was back in the 2004 division playoffs. As usual, their hitters were great in the regular season but failed in the playoffs. They only hit .228 in their series against the Indians, compared with a .290 mark in the regular season. Their pitching wasn’t much better, as Chien-Ming Wang gave two awful starts that both resulted in losses. In the decisive Game 4, Wang allowed four runs in just one inning before being pulled. Mike Mussina, who was competent in relief of Wang, did not earn a start in the series despite an excellent performance in September. The Indians won Game 4 6-4, getting a lead early and then holding the Yankees off late in the game.

The loss could mark the end of an era for New York, as the entire franchise could be overhauled this offseason. The biggest question is whether Joe Torre will be fired. It is obvious at least to us that he shouldn’t, considering he has given the Yankees their best era of success since Casey Stengel in the 1950’s. Despite the fact that this move is obviously not wanted by the Yankee players, and that this season was perhaps Torre’s best in bringing the team out of a 21-29 hole to the playoffs, it still shouldn’t be surprising to anyone if he is canned. Also, it is likely Alex Rodriguez will leave the team via free agency and Roger Clemens will retire. If those players both don’t return for next season, it will give New York a lot of money they can spend on rebuilding their pitching staff.

2. It’s Showtime: Now is perhaps the best time of the year for baseball, as only the four best teams are left in contention. In the NLCS, the Rockies and Diamondbacks will be the matchup. This surprising meeting of division foes includes two teams fueled by youth. The Rockies have the obviously superior lineup, with breakout stars such as Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, and Troy Tulowitzki. The Diamondbacks lineup, which is carried by youth as well, has struggled throughout much of the season. However, they do improve in clutch situations. They rely on Brandon Webb and the bullpen, with the others starters average at best. The Rockies’ pitching staff is nothing to brag about, but if they can at least be effective, the Rockies should win this series. Prediction: Rockies in 6.

The other series matches up the best two teams in baseball during the regular season, the Indians and Red Sox. Both just beat very good teams very easily in the first round. Both are loaded at the top of the rotation, with Carmona and Sabathia for the Indians and Beckett, Schilling, and Matsuzaka for the Red Sox. If the series goes seven games, Boston’s big three will likely have six starts, giving them a reliable pitcher for every game. Both teams also have good bullpens and solid offenses, making this series very hard to predict. In the end, I think the Red Sox’s prior postseason experience will play a major role against the youthful Indians. They should be able to win close games, with experienced, clutch hitters in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez as well as a superior closer. Prediction: Red Sox in 7.

MLB General

The Full Count: NL West Rules

1. Rocky Road: The Colorado Rockies, with their second straight win in Philadelphia, have virtually locked up a series victory over the Phils. After winning with pitching in Game 1, the offense took over in Game 2. Matt Holliday homered for the second straight game, and Kaz Matsui hit a key grand slam that helped Colorado to a 10-5 victory. The Rockies have been so good the first two games that they have established themselves as the team to beat in the National League. If they close out the series against the Phillies (which they will do as the series goes to Colorado on Saturday), then the Rockies will have by far the best offense left in the NL playoffs. Their pitching staff isn’t bad either, particularly the bullpen. The Rockies’ relievers had six innings pitched in Game 2 and only one earned run. For the Phillies, sluggers Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard each bounced back from an unproductive Game 1 with homeruns. However, their awful pitching sent the Phillies into a hole they won’t be able to overcome.

2. Amazing Arizona: The Rockies-Diamondbacks is now the probable NLCS matchup, as Arizona also gained a 2-0 series advantage with another win over the still-cursed Cubs. Chicago starter Ted Lilly got lit up for six runs, starting with a three-run shot by Chris Young. Arizona’s Doug Davis got his first career playoff win, with four runs allowed but eight strikeouts. The Diamondbacks, though far from a formidable team, have proved that they are the class of the National League this year, with its best regular-season record and the almost-clinched NLCS berth. However, they will have to top the red-hot Rockies, which may be more than anyone can handle right now.

3. Pitching Kills: Of all the teams in the MLB playoffs, it seems the Cleveland Indians went it the quietest. However, with a 12-3 statement win over the Yankees in Game 1, they proved they are a team to be feared. This game came down mainly to pitching. Cleveland starter CC Sabathia, though he walked six, allowed only three runs and was credited with the win. Then the bullpen was near-perfect in his relief. The Yankees’ pitchers looked as bad as they were in April. Chien-Ming Wang allowed eight runs, and the bullpen wasn’t any better as the Indians’ lineup dominated. Kenny Lofton went 3-4 with two RBIs, and Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez both homered for the Tribe. This series is far from over, but the Yankees need a Game 2 victory. That will be hard to get, as they face Fausto Carmona, who was just as good (if not better) than Sabathia this year. With those two at the top of the rotation, the Indians have a weapon not a lot of teams can come close to matching.

MLB General

The Full Count: Dbacks and Yankees hold serve

1. The Best Ace: John Lackey took on Josh Beckett in a battle of Cy Young candidates, and it was the 2003 World Series MVP Beckett that emerged with a decisive victory. Beckett pitched a shutout for his second consecutive postseason start, a streak that dates back to that 2003 World Series when he was with the Marlins. Lackey, meanwhile, was mediocre with four runs allowed in six innings. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis both homered off Lackey in the Red Sox’s 4-0 victory. This game was really all about Beckett, who was the only pitcher in the regular season to win 20 games. Beckett walked none, struck out 8, and only surrendered 4 hits against a pesky Angels lineup. Beckett has gone from a near-disaster last season to the Red Sox’s most reliable pitcher by far. He owns a 1.74 playoff career ERA, and will give the Red Sox as many starts as he can in the playoffs. A game one win in the division series usually leads to a series victory for the winning team; however, the fate of this series is not sealed. The Angels still have an excellent chance, with Kelvim Escobar and Jered Weaver taking the mound the next two games. Boston will counter that with Dice-K, who has oddly received almost no attention the last few months, and Curt Schilling. It seems to me at least that these are the best two teams in baseball, so the whoever wins this series has a great shot at winning the World Series.

2. The Momentum Continues: The Rockies have gone from fourth in the division to a possible World Series contender in less than a month. No one thought they would even make the playoffs a few weeks ago; now they proved they are for real with a playoff-opening victory in Philadelphia. The Rockies’ pitching staff is thought to be a joke; however, the Phillies certainly weren’t laughing after Jeff Francis shut them down. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, three of the National League’s best hitters, went a combined 0-11. Francis allowed two runs (both off solo homers) in six innings while racking up eight strikeouts. His counterpart, Cole Hamels, was good as well, but the Rockies managed to emerge with the win. Matt Holiday, who should win the MVP hands-down over Rollins, had a key homer in the eighth inning. One element of the Rockies that few people are considering is their closer Manny Corpas, who has racked up 19 saves with a 2.08 ERA. Incredibly, the Rockies have won the last 17 games he has appeared in. Corpas and two-time All Star Brian Fuentes, who both pitched shutout innings in the win, give the Rockies a formidable duo in the bullpen. Their chance of winning this series is higher than many (including me) predicted.

3. Win for Webb: Since the Padres aren’t in the playoffs, the best pitcher by far in the National League is Brandon Webb. Webb, who went 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA this season, helped Arizona to a 3-1 win in their series opener against the Cubs. Webb had nine strikeouts in seven innings, allowing only one run. Carlos Zambrano had similar success through six innings, but regular season stud Carlos Marmol blew the game with two runs allowed. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks’ ace bullpen was nearly perfect after Webb left the game. The Diamondbacks’ only shot in the playoffs lies with Webb making multiple great starts, the bullpen remaining solid, and the offense being timely if not a powerhouse. The Cubs have a far deeper rotation and more stars on offense, giving them the advantage whenever Webb isn’t pitching.

MLB General

The Full Count: First round picks

The Tie is Broken: The Rockies and Padres played a rather excellent tiebreaker game that decided who is moving into the playoffs and who is staying home. The game lasted 13 innings, with the Rockies winning 9-8 in dramatic fashion. The Padres scored 2 runs in the 13th off Scott Hariston’s homer, but the Rockies came back in the bottom half of the inning against Trevor Hoffman. They scored three runs to win the game, with Matt Holliday getting the winning run on a close play at the plate. Holliday secured the NL batting title, and also passed Ryan Howard for the NL RBI title with his performance on Monday. The MVP candidate went 2-6 with 2 RBIs, and teammate Troy Tulowitzki was even better with a 4-7, three run effort. The Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez hit a grand slam early in the game to give himself 30 homers and 100 RBIs on the year. Both starters in this contest were lit up early on. Jake Peavy raised his ERA from 2.36 to 2.54 by allowing six runs in six innings. The Rockies’ Josh Fogg gave up five runs in four innings, but was bailed out by an excellent performance from the bullpen. The Rockies, who won 14 of 15 games to win the wild card, are completely deserving of their playoff spot.

Match Me Up: The first round matchups have been finalized, and there are multiple intriguing games across the board. The Red Sox-Angels series will feature two of the league’s best pitching staffs. On Wednesday Beckett vs. Lackey will kick off this showdown. The other AL matchup, Yankees-Indians, is no less interesting. The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball and have by far its best lineup, but the Indians are very balanced and tied the Red Sox for the best regular season record. The NL matchups, though the teams aren’t nearly as good as those in the AL, should also provide for some good baseball. The Phillies-Rockies has great potential, as these were the two highest-scoring teams in the NL this season. Also, both teams are red-hot, having to earn their way into the playoffs by making late-season comebacks. The Diamondbacks-Cubs will be a matchup of two great pitching staffs. Here are my picks for the first round series:

Angels over Red Sox in 5.
Yankees over Indians in 5.
Phillies over Rockies in 4.
Cubs over D-backs in 5.

MLB General

The Full Count: Phillies finally catch the Mets

1. Comeback Completed: Philadelphia has been catching up with New York for the past month. Finally, they are tied for the division lead. The shocked Mets have gone from obvious division favorites to possibly missing the playoffs. New York lost its fourth game in a row on Thursday in an embarrassing 3-0 home shutout to the Cardinals. Pedro Martinez, who has a 2.57 ERA since returning to the rotation, had eight strikeouts in a losing effort. He was outpitched by Joel Pineiro, who shut down the overrated Mets lineup with eight scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies topped the Braves for the second straight day. They scored six runs off John Smoltz, four in the first inning, as rookie Kyle Kendrick picked up his 10th win. Now the teams are tied at 87-72 for the division lead with three games to go. Both teams have an easy final series at home: the Phillies play the Nationals while the Mets face the Marlins. Whoever loses this division race will be in tough competition with San Diego for the wild card. Right now the Padres are a game ahead of both teams.

2. Hold on Loosely: Though the Padres have made a charge, the Diamondbacks continue to hold the NL West division lead. They won 8-0 against the Pirates on Thursday to keep them a game ahead of San Diego. Micah Owings pitched six scoreless innings while going 4-4 with 3 RBIs. The game’s best-hitting pitcher now has a ridiculous .339 average, which is far above everyone in their everyday lineup. Considering the fact that he’s an average starter, they should consider moving him to the outfield eventually. With the win the D-backs are one game shy of becoming the first (and possibly the only) NL team to reach 90 wins this season. Ironically, on paper they are actually the worst among the NL’s playoff contenders. The bullpen is solid and they have a true ace in Brandon Webb, but beyond that their other starters are mediocre and their lineup verges on dismal. Though they could potentially be the #1 seed in the NL playoffs, they will need luck on their side to advance.

3. Simply Unstoppable: The Rockies won their 11th straight game to stay one game behind San Diego in the wild card race. They beat the Dodgers 10-4 to finish off their second sweep of the Dodgers during the streak. Garrett Atkins went 4-4 with a homer and Brad Hawpe drove in three runs for Colorado. Seven of their 11 consecutive wins have come against the Dodgers, who have fallen to only one game over .500 for the season. The Rockies will face the D-backs at home in what will be a crucial final series for both teams.

Player of the Day: Phil Hughes, Yankees: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts in a 3-1 win over the Devil Rays. The Yankees mathematically still have a shot at the division title, with the Red Sox’s magic number still at 2.

MLB General

The Full Count: Fighting it out atop the AL

1. Becoming the Best: The Red Sox’s recent struggles mean two things. First, the Yankees are closing in on them (more on that later). Also, two other teams have caught up to them for the league’s best record. The Indians and Angels, both at 90-62, have the same number of wins as Boston with one less loss. They both have huge leads in their respective divisions and are on three game winning streaks. The Indians just swept the Tigers to virtually lock up their division. The Tigers, who could have closed the gap in the division with a sweep themselves, instead find themselves 7.5 games back. Cleveland’s 4-2 victory on Wednesday included CC Sabathia’s 18th win of the season. The Angels completed a sweep of the Devil Rays, who on Thursday lost their 90th game for the 10th straight season, an MLB record. The Angels, who improved to 52-25 at home this season, also have a commanding lead in their division. They are up by 8.5 games on the Mariners despite Seattle’s three-game winning streak. Both of these teams, though they get less attention than the Yankees or Red Sox, have a solid shot at winning the World Series.

2. The Yankees Draw Closer: This AL East division race, one-sided for most of this season, is finally getting interesting. The Yankees, with four straight wins, have climbed to 1.5 games back of the once-untouchable Red Sox. They beat the Orioles 2-1 thanks to Andy Pettitte’s strong pitching, completing a sweep of lowly Baltimore. The Red Sox, meanwhile, were swept by the Blue Jays, giving them their fifth loss of their last six games. The Yankees, who were 14.5 games back at one point this season, could make the largest divisional comeback since 1969 if they win it. Even if they don’t, they are guaranteed the wild card anyway.

3. Another Day, Another Win: The Padres are the hottest team in baseball right now, with six straight wins. They are still 1 game back of the Diamondbacks for the division lead. They beat the Pirates 5-3 on Thursday thanks to a walk-off three run homerun by Scott Hariston. If they win on Thursday it will be their second straight sweep. The D-backs are still holding on, as won a series against the Giants; however, the Padres are playing better right now. This is yet another divisional race that is going down to the wire.

Player of the Day: Matt Holliday, Rockies: 2-3, 2 HRs (35), 2 RBIs in a 6-5 win over the Dodgers. Holliday would be the easy choice for MVP if he played on a first place team. He is leading the league in batting average (.340) and RBIs (128), and has 11 homeruns in the month of September.

MLB General

The Full Count: Padres making headway in NL West

1. Super San Diego: The Padres have won four games in a row, sending them to only one game back of the Diamondbacks for the NL West lead. San Diego started out a four game series with the lowly Pirates by winning 3-0, while the Diamondbacks lost 5-8 to the Giants. Rookie pitcher Jack Cassel was key for the Padres, with no runs or walks allowed in six innings. San Diego’s bullpen was good as usual with three near-perfect innings. The D-backs, with ace Brandon Webb pitching, still lost to San Francisco. Reliever Tony Pena, who has been great this season, was shelled for 5 runs and 2 homers in less than an inning. Arizona needs to watch out if they want to hold on to their division lead, which is looking less secure than it has been for a month.

2. It’s Getting Wilder: The NL Wild Card race, still led by the aforementioned Padres, is heating up. The Phillies and Dodgers are both within three games of the lead. The Phillies, who are 1.5 back and have won 5 straight, had a crazy 13-11 win over the Cardinals on Monday. They got out to an 11-0 lead, as Ryan Howard hit two homers to give him 40 on the season in addition to 5 RBIs. Jimmie Rollins and Aaron Rowand also homered early on. Then the Cards came back thanks to three RBIs each by Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick. The Phils held on for the win though, sending the Cardinals to their 9th loss in 10 games. Philly is now only 2.5 games behind the Mets for the division lead, though the wild card seems more likely right now. The Dodgers, who are third in the wild card standings, did not play on Monday.

3. Almost Locked Up: The Angels are the team closest to clinching their division in all of baseball. Their magic number is 5, lowest in the league. The Angels just keep on winning, while Seattle’s collapse in late-August made the race uncompetitive. The Angels lead the Mariners by 8.5 games after another win. They beat the Devil Rays 10-7 despite another bad start by Kelvim Escobar. Escobar allowed five or more runs for the fourth time in his last six starts. This streak has increased his ERA from 2.68 to 3.46, though his record is oddly 2-1 in these starts. The Angels are known more for their pitching, but it has been their offense that has carried them recently. They have scored double digit runs 11 times since the All Star break. Their offense has scored the fifth-most runs in the majors despite almost no power hitters. They only rank 27th in homers this year, though their .287 team batting average, which is second only to the Yankees, is a much better indicator of how good this offense really is.

Player of the Day: Frank Thomas, Blue Jays: 3-4, 3 HRs (25), 5 RBIs in a 6-1 win over the Red Sox.