July 2005

Picture of the week

Eva_1

Check out my favorite "Desperate Housewife," (yeah, you know you watch the show too) Eva Longoria as she prepares to throw out the first pitch before Sunday’s Yankees-Angels game.

Eva must be good luck for the Yankees — they have won two straight since.

Speaking of the Yankees, what has Brown done for you? Absolutely nothing. Kevin Brown has allowed 13 total runs in his last two starts, and will miss his scheduled start Tuesday because of his balky back. Time for the Yankees to just designate Brown for assignment — or hope he retires.

Manuel, porque?

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci is reporting that Manny Ramirez wants out of Boston. Manny told team officials he is unhappy in Boston, particularly with his lack of privacy off the field.

There’s no way the Sox will trade Manny now in the middle of a pennant race. Plus, there aren’t many teams out there who could take on the $57 million Ramirez is owed over the next three years.

Ramirez should just do what he does best: Clam up and hit. He’s one of the best hitters in the game, and he can easily help Boston to another title.

Phil it up

What is Phil Nevin thinking? After crying about PETCO Park and its dimensions, Nevin had a shot at going to hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

Instead, he turns the deal down. Now, Nevin will be stuck platooning at first base for the floundering Friars. He would have gotten more at-bats in Baltimore.

Maybe Padres general manager Kevin Towers should smarten up and deal Nevin to a team that he will accept a deal to. In the meantime, he’s going to have a grumpy player on his hands.

Here come the A’s

There’s two things you can always count on every July: Humidity in New York and the A’s getting hot.

In the past five years, the A’s have lost Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Miguel Tejada, Jason Isringhausen, Keith Foulke, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder via trades and free agency. Yet — like a certain jam band from the Bay Area — they keep on truckin’.

Barry Zito looked great in Oakland’s 3-0 win over the Angels. The A’s, a Major League-best 32-13 since May 29, took two of three from the Angels to climb within 6 1/2 games of first place. That is a lot of games to overcome, but the A’s have done it before. Both teams have tough, four-game series coming up this weekend: the Angels host the surging Yankees, while the A’s visit the Rangers in Arlington.

Speaking of the Yankees: Giam-Tino combined for four of New York’s six homers in the series-clinching win over the Rangers. And Aaron Small comes out of no where to get the win. Where are they finding these guys?

Oh wait, newsflash: Kerry Wood is hurt.

Again.

Wood left the Cubs’ game Wednesday night against the Red after the third inning. He faced just 15 batters and threw 66 pitches before team physicians pulled him because of stiffness in his throwing shoulder.

How long before this guy becomes a closer?

As for a former closer, John Smoltz won his seventh straight on Wednesday. Frickin’ Braves. Every time you think they are out, they jump back in. They are just half a game behind the Nationals in the NL East.

Line of the night
"The Marlins pitching staff is working on a nifty 13-hitter," — Diamondbacks announcer Mark Grace.

Walk-off this way

This post was supposed to be up late last night, but the MLBlog app was not kind, and I lost all my work. Oh well.

Tuesday night was walk-off city as the Mets, Phillies, Twins and Giants — in that order — won in their last at-bats. Chris Woodward has been a nice addition for the Mets, and he came through in a big way with his walk-off blast. Omar Minaya has built a nice bench there with Woodward, Marlon Anderson and Miguel Cairo. Now if he can only get himself some relievers and a real closer.

Ryan Howard really impresses me. Here’s a guy stuck behind Jim Thome in Philly, yet comes up and smacks a walk-off tater. The Phllies should do everything in their power to rid themselves of Thome. He’s done. I know a lot of teams won’t take on Thome’s contract, but Howard should be starting at first base for the Phils.

On a side note: Can you imagine if the Phils signed Thome and Tom Glavine after the 2002 season. Wow, they would have been handcuffed by two big contracts. Glavine would have gotten destroyed in that bandbox of a park.

As for the Twins’ walk-off, one of my Fantasy players — Jacque Jones — came through with the game-winning hit. The O’s really should have won that game. Daniel Cabrera pitched decently over 5 1/3, but B.J. Ryan wore the goat horns.

Ryan’s line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA 
0.2 2 2 2 2 1 0 2.93

I nearly got screwed in the Giants’ win over the Braves. One of my other players, Giants closer Tyler Walker, came in for the save. Instead, he gives up a game-tying dinger to Adam LaRoche. Walker, however, got the win after Jason Ellison’s RBI single in the bottom of the night.

Ellison_2

Because of his heroics, Ellison got the old shaving-cream pie.

The other big news of the night was the AL East race. The Red Sox are back in first after their win over the Rays and the Yankees’ loss in Texas. Curt Schilling got his first save since 1992. I am sure he is still talking about it today.

And the Yankees lost a game they should have won. Mike Mussina pitched six strong innings. But that’s the problem — he only pitched six. With Tom Gordon resting, Joe Torre had to go with Felix Rodriguez in the seventh, and Wayne frickin’ Franklin in the eighth.

Franklin promptly !@#$ da bed, serving up a two-run tater to Hank Blalock. And what does Franklin get for his effort? A one-way ticket to Triple-A Columbus.

That’s it for now, time to watch some baseball.

Prologue

Well, let me introduce myself. My name is A, to the P.

OK, enough rappin’. I am the Night Copy Chief at MLB.com. And I may have the greatest job in the world. I sit in a room with eight TVs and watch baseball from 7 p.m. ET until about 4 in the morning, Saturday through Wednesday. I am in charge of the MLB.com home page at that time, and I manage a crew of 17 editors as we put together the night’s content.

I have been putting aside the idea of writing this blog for a few months now. Luckily, thanks to a rare off night, I can get this party started right.

Let’s start off talking about the New York Yankees. I am absolutely stunned by their post-break stretch. The Yankees — a flawed team with a patch-work rotation — sit atop the American League East.

Joe Torre deserves a ton of credit. And so do his players. I thought the Yanks would be in trouble during this 11-game, three-city death trip that would send the Bombers to Boston, Arlington, Texas, and Anaheim. Five games into the trip, and the Yankees are 4-1. New York is 8-2 in its last 10, while Boston is 3-7 during that same stretch. I still believe the Red Sox are the team to beat in the East this year, but the Yankees are showing me some grit.

Remember last year how the A-Rod/Varitek scuffle ignited the Red Sox? I think something similar happened to the Yankees on Saturday, when Matt Clement buzzed Gary Sheffield in the third inning. Sheffield drilled the next pitch off the Monster, and one pitch later, A-Rod hit a two-run tater.

Speaking of A-Rod and Sheff: Hate them all you want, as most people do, but these two studs are MVP candidates in the American League.

But there is a lot of baseball left. Boston has more tradeable chips in its farm system — like stud shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is the real deal — than the Yankees. And let’s not forget the Orioles, who could wind up with A.J. Burnett and Mike Lowell.

Also, I won’t just be writing about baseball. I dig pop culture just as much as a grand slam. I got to see "Wedding Crashers" today, and it’s one funny movie. It’s no "Old School" but I laughed many times throughout the movie. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are tremendous, and there’s even a sick cameo from one of their Old School buddies.

Because I don’t get to see much TV — other than baseball — at night, I own a Tivo. It comes in hand when I can’t fall asleep at 5 a.m. This week’s episode of Entourage — with the guys visiting Sundance — is a must see. Clearly, this is the best comedy on television right now.

I also saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico. I am not kidding, I really did.

Well, that’s it for tonight. I am back in the office tomorrow, and hopefully will post again.