MLB General

The Full Count: Brewers going down the drain

1. Collapse of the Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers may still lead the division, but at the rate they’re going now, it won’t be for much longer. They lost 8-0 on Thursday to the Cardinals, their fourth loss in a row. Adam Wainwright had one of his best starts of the year for St. Louis, with seven scoreless innings and eight strikeouts. Catcher Yadier Molina pounded two homers, despite coming into the game with one the entire year. The Brewers were swept by the Cardinals, who are now only 2.5 games back. The Cubs haven’t been great recently either, but they trail by only a half game. The Brewers, who have been outscored this season, are only 4-10 in August, and it’s looking like they will give up their division lead in the near future.

2. Desert Dominance: Like the Brewers, the Diamondbacks have been outscored for the season. That is where the similarities end, however. Arizona has the National League’s best record at 69-53, and is 10-4 this month. They have a three game lead over the second place Padres in the division. The D-Backs wrapped up a series win over Florida with a 5-4 victory on Thursday. It was a typical win for them–decent but not great starting pitching, hitting that just gets the job done, and great work by the bullpen. Despite their 22-10 record since the All Star break, the Diamondbacks still haven’t been great statistically in that span. They’re batting .250 with a 4.23 team ERA since the break, in fact. Sooner or later, those poor statistics will catch up with them. For now, though, the Diamondbacks appear to be on cruise control.

3. The Showdown Begins: The Tigers and Yankees hadn’t seen each other all year before Thursday, but they are scheduled to play two four game series in two weeks. The Tigers won the first battle of the majors’ two highest-scoring teams, handing the Yankees their third straight loss. Detroit’s 8-5 win was fueled by six runs in the first two innings, including a grand slam by Carlos Guillen in the first. Justin Verlander pitched well enough for his 13th win. The Tigers and Yankees now have identical 67-54 records this year, with the Tigers a half game ahead in their division and the Yankees a half game behind in the wild card. The Yanks have dropped to 5.5 games back in the division thanks to two inexcusable losses to Baltimore earlier this week.

Player of the Day: Mark DeRosa, Cubs: 5-5, 4 RBIs in a 12-4 win over Cincinnati. DeRosa was one of three Cubs to put up at least four hits in this blowout.

MLB General

The Full Count: Aaron Harang goes OT

1. The 10-inning Start: Aaron Harang just kept coming back to the mound, inning after inning. In what is tied for the longest appearance by a pitcher this season, Harang went 10 innings, giving up just one run. He also struck out ten, and remarkably had no walks despite 121 pitches. Harang, however, didn’t even get credit for the win, as the Reds-Brewers game was decided in the 12th inning. Backup catcher Javier Valentin provided the winning hit, and reliever Jared Burton was credited with the W. Harang’s start was the longest in the majors since Roy Halladay went 10 innings on April 13. Halladay also had a ten-inning start back in 2003. Harang, by the way, is doing very well this season with a 3.45 ERA.

2. The Best of the Best: The Boston Red Sox became the first major league team to reach 60 wins after beating the Indians, but they don’t have the highest winning percentage in baseball. That would be the 59-38 Tigers, who beat the White Sox 9-6. Detroit, who has by far the best road record in baseball (33-17), crushed Chicago for 18 hits, including 14 off starter Mark Buehrle. Andrew Miller had his worst start so far this year, but it didn’t matter as Curtis Granderson went 3-3 with 4 RBIs. The 60-39 Red Sox beat Cleveland 6-2 in Jon Lester’s debut after fighting cancer. Lester went six strong innings, and Coco Crisp backed him up with four hits and three runs. The Tigers and Red Sox right now are the best teams in baseball, though many others, such as the Indians, Angels, and Dodgers, are pretty close. With all these elite teams, we should see some great playoff action this year.

3. The D-Train has Crashed: Whatever happened to Dontrelle Willis? A 22-game winner in 2005, Willis was average last year and has been flat-out bad this season. He lost his seventh straight decision on Monday, a career-high. He has walked too many people (57, fifth-most in the league) and given up too many hits (154, well over one per inning). This results in a dismal 1.65 WHIP, along with a 5.15 ERA. Willis hasn’t even won a game since May 29. Despite all the promise he showed over his first few seasons, Willis is now seemingly a below-average MLB pitcher.

Player of the Day: Aaron Harang, Reds: 10 innings, seven hits, one run, no walks, 10 K’s in a 2-1 win over the Brewers.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Full Count: 10,000 strong and growing

1. The Biggest Losers: The Philadelphia Phillies became the first team in MLB history to lose 10,000 games after getting blown out 10-2 by the Cardinals. Albert Pujols hit two of the Cardinals’ six homers, giving the slugger 20 on the season. The Phillies had avoided the embarrassing mark for a while thanks to a three-game win streak, but now they officially are the league’s all-time losingest team. This mark, it should be noted, comes with an asterisk, because the Phils aren’t exactly the worst team of all time. They have a better winning percentage than the Rockies, Padres, Rangers, and Devil Rays, who have all been around a much shorter time than Philadelphia and therefore aren’t near 10,000 losses. Also, the Phillies have at least won 5 pennants and a World Series, something the Rangers or Nationals can’t claim in their 40+ year histories. In case you were wondering, the winningest team is the Giants with 10,151 victories in the same 124-year time period that the Phillies have been around.

2. The NL Heats Up: In June, the only National League divisional race that was close was in the West division as the Mets and Brewers were dominant. Now, however, the Braves and Cubs have been hot enough to inch closer to their division leaders. The Braves started off an easy homestand (Pirates, Reds, Cardinals) well by sweeping Pittsburgh. Their 5-1 win on Sunday gave them 50 wins on the season and put them 1.5 games back of New York. No longer can the Mets by simply penciled in for a playoff spot in the NL, as the Braves could pass them by next week (the Mets travel to San Diego and Los Angeles). Meanwhile, the Cubs completed a sweep of the Astros to move within 3.5 games of Milwaukee. They are one of the hottest teams in baseball, with a 15-4 record since June 22. As these divisional races are tightening up, the NL West remains close as the Dodgers lead the Padres by one game.

3. Are the A’s done? Though not many are talking about it, the Oakland A’s are one of the year’s most disappointing teams. They made the ALCS last year, but now find themselves 11.5 games back in the division. Oakland has dropped seven in a row, giving them a 44-48 record. They were recently swept in four games by the Twins, the first four-game sweep for Minnesota since last August. The problem with the A’s is clearly offense; they have only scored 21 runs in their last ten games. With their AL-best pitching staff, it’s unfortunate they can’t get any run support.

Player of the Day: Miguel Cabrera, Marlins: 2-2, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, 2 walks. How awesome is that line? It’s common to see an all-1 line, but I’ve never seen it with 2’s before.

Chicago White Sox

Odds and Ends: White Sox World Series Ring goes for $28k

It’s kind of sad when someone has to sell their World Series ring but hey, thanks to ebay, you can get $28,100 for a ring appraised at $7,950. The ring was put on sale by Tommy Thompson, the catchers coach from the 2005 team. It’s interesting that a Red Sox 2004 World Series ring went for $35,000 last week while a Florida Marlins 1997 World Series ring is unsold at $9,999 with two hours left in the auction. Talk about an indication of the loyalty and passion of the respective fan bases.

In other news…

[USA Today]: Hank Aaron sticks to his “screw Bonds” plans

[Sportsline]: Redskins have to apologize for Portis’ dog fighting is ok comments.

[Yahoo]: Golfer drives his car off a cliff and dies. Seriously.

[SI]: backup LSU QB suspended for trying to sneak into a casino with fake ID.

[Lion in Oil]: Ooops, I accidentally pulled down my shirt to expose more cleavage while pouring a beer on myself.

[Deseret News]: Football, wrestling top sports-injury list

[Parlayer]: VIDEO: Why Sports Reporters Should Carry Breathalizers At All Times

[Our Book of Scrap]: Rays rookie threatens to kill wife

[The Hater Nation]: Raiders Dedicate Season to the Executed

MLB General

The Full Count: Exceeding expectations

1. A Penny Earned: Brad Penny has exceeded everyone’s expectations this year in being one of the best pitchers in the majors. On Monday he had his most dominant start of the season against the Marlins. Penny had 14 strikeouts in 7 shutout innings. Amazingly, he only had 15 strikeouts the whole season up until this game. Now Penny is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA, good for second in the majors behind John Maine. He has reeled off seven straight quality starts this season, and has yet to give up a homer. The Dodgers won 6-1, helped offensively by Jeff Kent and breakout catcher Russell
Martin. They have a one-game lead over San Diego in the NL West.

2. Best vs. Worst: The best team in the league played the worst one on Monday, and the result was basically what you would expect. The 22-10 Brewers shut down the 9-23 Nationals as Chris Capuano gave his best start this year. Capuano went 8 innings, had 9 strikeouts, and played a huge role in the 3-0 shutout of Washington. Capuano is now 5-0 and has a 16-inning scoreless streak. As the season goes on, Milwaukee is starting to look less and less like a fluke and more like this year’s Detroit Tigers.

3. Other unbeatens: Penny and Capuano are among a multitude of pitchers who have not lost this season. Most notably is 6-0 Josh Beckett, who has won the most games in the majors this year. CC Sabathia and major league ERA leader John Maine are 5-0. At 3-0 there’s resurgent Bartolo Colon of the Angels, who’s pitching better than he did in his Cy Young season. Also, Mike Maroth is 2-0 despite a 5.35 ERA, Jeremy Bonderman is 1-0 with five no-decisions, James Shields of Tampa is 3-0, Baltimore’s Adam Loewen is 2-0, and Milwaukee’s Claudio Vargas is 3-0. All those undefeated pitchers combined with the 24 who have an ERA under 3.00, and it’s no surprise that pitching has been dominant this season.

Player of the Day: Bengie Molina, Giants: 2-3, 2 HR, 5 RBIs in a 9-4 win over the Mets. Both of Molina’s homeruns and all of the Giants’ runs came in a 9-run fifth inning.

Stat of the Day: Roy Oswalt is 19-1 in his career against the Reds. He beat them on Monday to improve to 5-2. Only four other pitchers in major league history took 19 of 20 from the same team, according to Elias Sports.

College Football

Odds and Ends: Florida Gators boosters are doing a poor job

You’d think that a national football and college basketball championship would have the Florida boosters in fine form. But this story about a robbery is an excellent example of how they are just dropping the ball:

On Saturday, a UF student was taking kegs out of his truck when [five] men approached him. One 6-foot-4, 280-pound man attempted to steal his keg, cutting his neck in the process, according to the report. The cut was 5 to 6 inches long, the report states, and it appeared to be the result of a fingernail or ring.

The suspect was a Gator football player who had to be restrained from attacking the victim a few times by four of his teammates. Look at the travesty here. Why does a Florida Gator football player feel the need to rob a man of his keg? Shouldn’t the football players have unlimited access to the local beer distributor? After all, they are champions! For shame, Gator boosters, for shame. (Hat tip: Loserwith socks)

In other news…

[Fish stripes]: Dontrelle Willis pitches as his wife prepares to give birth

[Deseret News]: Andrei Kirilenko and Jerry Sloan just lost in translation

[Ben Maller]: Tigers Sean Casey comes home from a road trip to find his car on cinder blocks at the airport

[The Offside]: A book sheds more light (eccchhhh) on Wayne Rooney nailing a 48 year old grandmother/prostitute

[Can’t Stop the Bleeding]: Toriiiiii Hunter almost suspended three years for giving champagne

[Lopez@Large]: Yao Ming needs a strong postseason to define his legacy

[WBRS Sports]: The Orioles to offer groupies free mustache ride

And finally, if the Kansas City Royals adopted the My Name is Earl scratch and sniff episode promotion, would it just smell like garbage?

Florida Marlins

Dontrelle Willis arrested for DUI in South Beach

Dontrelle Willis, he of the high leg kick and squeaky clean image was arrested last night on a DUI charge by Miami Police when he stepped outside his Bentley to pee on the street. (Well, of course, he wasn’t going to pee in his Bentley.) Police say that he failed a field sobriety test but refused a breathalyzer.

The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and 2003 World Series Champ (oh by the way Cubs fans, he was original drafted by the Cubs) had up until now had a squeaky clean image was the face of the Marlins after they cleaned house following 2003. He also earned about 1/4 of the entire Marlins payroll (at $4.35M last year) and was in negotiations for a new contract in 2007. We’re going to assume that as good of a pitcher as he is, this won’t negatively affect his contract. Hell, Leonard Little actually killed someone on a DUI and the Rams still gave him a new contract.

CBS Sportsline had the best headline of the day, calling him the Pee-Train. Now, that’s a nickname that won’t go away. Makes you think he’s R. Kelly or something.

[Miami Herald]: Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis arrested in SoBe on DUI charge

MLB General

Oct 18 in Sports History: 3 for 3 on 3

Mr. October

In 1977: Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees tied Babe Ruth’s record by blasting three home runs in a single World Series game. Jackson only saw three pitches the entire evening in Game 6, but he drove each one farther than the last. When it was over, the Yankees had defeated the LA Dodgers 8-4 to win their 21st championship, Jackson was named MVP and became forever known as “Mr. October.”

In 1997: The worst World Series in history opened on a warm, bandwagon-y Miami evening as the Florida Marlins – with a powerhouse tradition all of five years – entertained the suffering-for-eons Indians from Cleveland in cavernous Pro Player Stadium, the football home of the Miami Dolphins. Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga purchased a fine National League pennant winner with the likes Devon White, Kevin Brown, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield and Al Leiter. With the exception of a fine Game 7 won by Florida, each game tried to top the last in terms of uninspired play, poor pitching and sloppy defense. It was the lowest rated World Series ever up to that point as fans didn’t feel like tuning in to watch two football cities struggle at baseball in snowy weather. Heaping insult upon insult, Hanson sang the National Anthem to open the series. All of the aforementioned players were jettisoned by Huizenga for financial reasons within a few months of winning the series.

In 1920: An interesting little battle which would’ve seriously altered baseball history took place in a meeting between divided American League owners. Wanting American League president Ban Johnson out of office, the owners of the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers threatened to jump to the National League if the remaining owners who wanted Johnson to stay on did not join their movement. Both sides eventually agreed to replace Johnson – who they felt was doing very little to help put and end to the gambling that was destroying the game (re: Black Sox Scandal) – with Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first commissioner.

MLB General

The Full Count: Chris Carpenter for NL Cy Young

This year’s Cy Young

1. Cy to Carpenter: Who should win the NL Cy Young this year? While Johan Santana has virtually clinched the AL award, there is no clear favorite in the National League. But in our opinion, the league’s winner from last year is again its best pitcher this year. He is Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals, and he’s been dominant recently. Carpenter, who went 21-5 last year to take home his first career Cy Young, is 14-6 this year with a 2.84 ERA. Last night he shut down the Astros with a complete game, six-hit shutout. It was his second straight complete game in a row and third in his last six games. He’s won four straight decisions, and leads the NL in both ERA and WHIP. Carpenter has also been the only consistent starter for the Cardinals this season. That should be enough to add another Cy Young to his trophy case.

2. That’s offensive: It’s been well-established that the Florida Marlins have some good young players. Last night, many of them were at their finest. The Fish stomped the Mets 16-5, and while Anibal Sanchez failed in his quest for two straight no-hitters, it was all good news for Florida. Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera drove in three RBIs, giving him 109 on the year. All Star Dan Uggla went 5-5 and scored three runs. But it was outfielder Cody Ross that had the biggest day. Ross hit three homers, seven RBIs, and went 4-5 at the plate. All in all Marlins rookies hit five homeruns, setting a major league record. They passed Philly to improve to second place in the division and in the Wild Card race. They’re just two games out of the lead in the latter.

3. Keeping pace: As the Minnesota Twins won again yesterday, the White Sox needed to stay close to them by winning themselves. And, despite only recording four hits against starter John Lackey and the LA Angels, they still managed to win 3-2. Jose Contreras has his second consecutive 8 inning, one run allowed start. He had previously allowed five or more runs for four straight starts. But he improved to 13-7 as Bobby Jenks saved his 40th game of the year. The win left the Sox 3 games back of the Tigers and 1.5 behind the Twins for the Wild Card. This should be a fantastic race down the stretch.

4. Mid-field greatness: Where do the Yankees strengths lie? Well, they have many, but their greatest asset could be their middle infield. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano have been the best offensive shortstop-second base combination this season, at least in terms of batting average. Cano is hitting .336 and Jeter .345. While Jeter is second in the league, Cano doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify. Anyway, his three-run double in yesterday’s game put the Yankees ahead for good over the Orioles. Jeter, meanwhile, continued his 21 game hit streak, a career high for him. He has 13 homers and 91 RBIs this year; Cano has 9 and 59 in less at-bats. That’s pretty good for a double-play combo.

5. Lefty #2 returns: Francisco Liriano, who is one of two lefty aces for the Minnesota Twins, is finally coming back to the mound. After missing more than a month, Liriano is off the disabled list and is set to return to the rotation as early as Wednesday. The 12-3, 2.19 ERA Liriano will pitch against the Oakland A’s. Assuming Liriano picks up where he left off, this could be a huge boost to the Twins in their push for the playoffs.

MLB General

The Full Count: Here come the Twins

1. Closing in: We thought the Detroit Tigers had a divisional lead impossible to overcome. The Minnesota Twins thought otherwise. They just took 3 of 4 from the Tigers in dominant fashion. On Sunday, Johan Santana was able to shut down the Detroit offense once again. He threw 11 strikeouts and didn’t allow a run in Minnesota’s 12-1 blowout. Joe Mauer had two doubles and two RBIs for the offense, and Nick Punto had an excellent game with four hits. It was the Twins’ third win in a row to close out the series, and it gave them their smallest divisional deficit since April 18. The Twins are just two games back now of the Tigers. These teams don’t play for the rest of the season unless they meet in the playoffs.

2. The D-Train Returns: The Florida Marlins pitching staff got plenty of attention over the past week, but little of it went to Dontrelle Willis. He had been in the shadow of Anibal Sanchez’s no-hitter as well as some of the Marlins’ other rookies. But he showed on Sunday that he is still a very capable young pitcher. Willis pitched one of the best games the league has seen this season, going the distance for a complete-game shutout. He struck out 12 Phillies, matching a career high. The Marlins won 3-0 to salvage a series split against the Phils. The teams have identical records at 72-71 and stand 2.5 games back of the Wild Card lead.

3. Rollin’ Along: The Oakland A’s are still winning ballgames and still leading the NL West. Though they receive little attention, they have been just as good as the Yankees or White Sox, at least by record. The A’s are 82-60 after outlasting the Devil Rays 9-7 yesterday. The big news was Frank Thomas, who had a “perfect” day and homered for his fifth straight game. Thomas went 3-3 at the plate with 2 walks and now has 35 homers on the season. The A’s are still holding off the red-hot Angels in the division by 5.5 games. For the D-Rays, Delmon Young continued his incredible success since he was called up, going 3-5 to bring his average to .408.

4. Padres Power: The San Diego Padres still have the lead in the National League Wild Card. They’re going for their second straight playoff appearance, and the Padres moved to 2.5 games ahead of the streaking Giants after beating them yesterday. They won 10-2, as Woody Williams improved to 8-3 on the year and Brian Giles hit 4 RBIs. Rookie middle reliever Cla Meredith now has a 33 inning scoreless streak, as he hasn’t allowed a run since July 17 to decrease his ERA from 3.86 to 0.69. The Padres, who are off today, will take on Cincy this week before a pivotal series against the Dodgers.

5. Best in the business: The best players in the majors are performing better than ever. David Ortiz missed a week and a half in late August and early September, but he’s picked up right where he left off. Papi went 0-7 his first two games back, but then on Friday went 3-5 with 4 RBIs. Then, yesterday, Ortiz went 2-2 with three walks, three runs, and a homerun. The round-tripper gave him a career-high 48 this season, and he’s also on pace for career bests in on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. Albert Pujols is also on pace for some career highs this year. His 45 homers are one off his best mark, set in 2004, and his 118 RBIs are nine away from his high. This is despite going on the disabled list for the first time earlier this season, and having almost 20 games left in the year. Other prominent players that are blowing up their career marks are Jermaine Dye, Travis Hafner (who is out the rest of the year with a broken hand), Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Beltran, to name a few.