Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rest In Peace

Oh my God... it never gets any easier, or less shocking. And it's even worse than Cory Lidle because it's a guy on one of my teams, one of my boys, a guy that I've rooted on and cheered and hoped for. And now he's dead. Josh Hancock was killed at 12:35 AM CT when his 2007 Ford Explorer slammed into a tow truck in the fast lane, in the St. Louis area. No alcohol containers were found in the vehicle and he appeared to have been driving at or slightly above the speed limit, so all I can say is it that it is a horrible, terrible, tragic freak accident bringing back memories of Darryl Kile. Eerily, Hancock was late coming to a game only three days ago, and the Cardinals, who are on eggshells when anyone is late to a game due to the Kile tragedy, were calling him until they found out where he was -- and now he's dead. Just scary. The Cardinals will wear his #32 to honor him for the remainder of the season.

Kile also died before a Cubs/Cardinals game, and his loss was deeply felt. The Cardinals have lost a young man, a pitcher, a friend, and a human being, and no matter how much this happens (and pray God this will be the last time in a very long while) it always feels like a kick in the gut.

Darryl and Josh can play catch tonight.

Both were, and will be, deeply missed.

If you pray, or even if you don't, send a thought to the Hancock and Cardinal families.

Completely devastating.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


... and Roxcapades, mostly, but I suppose that doesn't work as well. As you may or may not remember, I was most privileged to be able to go to the Mets/Rockies games on Monday the 23rd and Wednesday the 25th, and had a fine old time at both, even though the Rockies only won the latter (by a score of 11-5, opening up a can of whoopass on the bewildered Mets and making the, oh, maybe six Rockies fans in attendance very happy). Still, I got two autographs -- Aaron Cook and Garrett Atkins -- and a picture with each of them, which made me very happy. My friend Mary and I went to the two games (Mary is an angel in human form, bought us the tickets, and wouldn't let me pay for anything, including a post-game meal at a diner, no matter how much I tried to chip in) and on Monday we were accompanied by her boyfriend Steve. Steve is a terrifically nice guy who also happens to be a) very knowledgeable about baseball, which means that we really speak the same language (sample exchange: "Who's closing for Atlanta this year? I can't remember." "He was on the Indians last year." "Oh, Wickman?" "Yeah.") and b) very sizeable, which meant that since I was one of the only Rockies fans in the stadium and therefore subject to, um, the famous New York hospitality, he swore to protect me from anybody trying to give me grief.

He and Mary were also perfectly amenable to arriving at the ballpark two and a half hours beforehand, understanding how I felt like when I walked into a baseball stadium and had to have a religious experience, and standing down on the sidelines as we watched batting practice. It was lovely to stand there on a gorgeous spring late afternoon, enjoying the green grass and the crack of the bat, watching major leaguers power a ball impossibly long distances into the bleachers. Shea is commonly referred to as the big blue toilet bowl in Flushing NY, but honestly, it wasn't that bad; it was just a stadium, even if it does have annoying orange bars that make it impossible to move laterally -- you have to go up and then go around. Also, planes from LaGuardia fly low overhead all the time, but this is only a minor annoyance. It was also the first time I've been to a stadium that's not Coors, and it was my first game this year, so you can bet that I was in heaven. (I may also get to go to a game in Yankee Stadium in the last week of semester, which would be most excellent. Clearly there's no way in hell that this will happen, but should I happen to get a picture with Andy Pettitte, I may keel over and die on the spot).

Steve also volunteered to call over any of the players that I wanted autographs from, so I identified the Rockies for him by number and then he (and I) both did the shouting. ("AARON! Can she have your autograph?!" What can I say, it worked). Aaron Cook was a sweetheart, looked over right away, and came trotting over for both an autograph and a picture, but we had to work a little harder on Atkins since he was taking infield practice and ergo wasn't immediately available, but the second time around, when both Steve and I were calling for him, he glanced over and finally came loping to the sidelines, where he consented to both autograph and picture. Have to say that while I was excited to get Cook, I was thrilled to get Garrett, as he's my second favorite Rockie after Hawpe and I just used the $25 gift card that my parents, who are well aware of my passion and gave me as a present, to get an Atkins shirt. As soon as the pics are developed -- grrnodigitalcameragrr -- me and Garrett are probably going to be featured as my new Facebook picture. (I shall also post the best ones here). Steve and I also tried for Jason Hirsh and Brad Hawpe (which REALLY would have made my day) but they were already heading in and didn't come over. Ah well.

We headed up to our seats, which were surprisingly good for five-dollar cheapies -- right behind home plate and looked out over the field, so you could see everything, even where a pitch was over the plate -- the only thing that was hard to judge was how deep a flyball was off the bat. I was mercilessly ragged with assorted four-letter words from the, uh, saltier characters of Shea sitting a few rows back, which I laughed off and completely ignored. Due to both that and the fact that Steve was two seats away and already, ahem, promised to look out for my well-being, they stopped approximately five minutes later. I suppose I REALLY would have gotten it if I was a Phillies/Braves/Yankees fan, but as it was the Rockies in April, I figure they just had to do something to live up to their reputation.

Honestly, it didn't bother me -- by the time I used the bathroom in the third inning and was sauntering back up the stairs to my seat, nobody heckled me at all, and the guy in front of me asked me about Denver sports and commended me for being a fan of, well, the Rockies. (I suppose he forgot that the Mets too were terrible a few years ago. This also happened on Wednesday, as the guy behind me took note of all my purple and black glory -- hat, Hawpe shirt, CR necklace, and even purple/black nail polish -- and told me that I was braver than he was, as he'd gone to Boston and not dared to wear an NY hat. He was a nice older gent, who left around the time that the score was 9-o Rox. Heh).

The Mets won Game 1 by a score of 6-1, but I honestly didn't care, since I'd had such a lovely time just being at a game. I got home at 11 and still had homework to do, which was not so fun, but what hell. Game 2, which I didn't watch but followed on Gameday, was a gut-wrencher, as the Rockies broke a scoreless tie in the tenth on Troy Tulowitzki's triple, but coughed up a pinch-hit, game-tying homer in the bottom of the frame before losing it on a perfect drag bunt in the twelfth. Game 3, however, was marvelous. Mary and I got to the park a bit late, so I had no time to prospect for more autographs, but we headed up to our seats anyway and snacked on pretzels, cookies, etc., which we had purchased so we didn't have to break the bank on ballpark food. I sort of wish I'd bought a hot dog, just because it's what you do at ballgames, but what hell, there will be plenty of opportunity this summer. :-D

But anyway, the game started, and the Rockies, tired of being held down, exploded for 11 runs on 20 hits and generally made me a very happy fan. There were about five million little kids at the park for "Kid Fitness Day" or something similar, and although they annoyed both myself and Mary with their incessant chanting, they a) made so much noise that I could shout all the pro-Rox things I wanted, and b) were, you know, little kids, so nobody could curse at me without somebody making a stink. It was a win-win situation, literally, as the Rockies roared out to a lead that at one point was 11-0 and made Shea very, very quiet indeed. Josh Fogg had to cough up a 3-run double, and Zach McClellan added two more in the bottom of the ninth to make the Mets feel better, but 11-5 was your final and yeah, it was pretty damn awesome. After the game I met Russ from Purple Row outside the gate, and we mutually exulted in the Rockies finally scoring more than they had in, oh, three weeks. (That's an exaggeration, but not by much...)

Mary and I walked back to the car (we had to park all the way out in the middle of fricking nowhere due to the construction of Citi Field eating up all Shea's lots) got hit on by a bunch of mildly creepy guys who were tailgating, escaped, and drove back to Yonkers, where we enjoyed a postgame meal at the Argonaut Diner. Mary, as I may have mentioned, is an angel -- she bought the tickets and paid for everything, making me almost feel bad every time she refused my offers of compensation. All in all, it was completely awesome, and although I did have a wonderful time, it really made me want to get home to my familiar comfortable lovely Coors... only two more weeks. Hopefully I will survive these two weeks, as I am slaughtered with work and that's why there is no way in hell that the blog will see daily updates. I'll try not to let it slip too far, but I've got so much work that I think I'm going to have to make a list of it all. I'm slowly but steadily getting through it, but my head may explode first and I will be a gibbering vegetable on the plane home (!) to Denver.

I'm almost done with freshman year. Wow. Time flies. Hopefully this summer will be as hardcore awesome as last year, and that includes just as much or even more baseball -- I can never have enough. Well, I should head off and finish the philosophy essay that's due first thing tomorrow morning; at least I can write fast and I sure hope it makes sense.

P.S. One more thing -- one of the highlights of the games that had nothing to do with the actual action was listening to New York sports talk radio on the way down. Callers with strong Bronx/Brooklyn accents call in to whine about Joe Torre/Julio Franco/whoever, getting very heated and prompting the hosts to say, "There's no way in h - no way that Joe Smith is better than Pedro Feliciano!" and "Arnie, hold on! Arnie, hold just a second! ARNIIEEEEEE!!" I was laughing out loud, and at the same time, I sort of wished that people would get that passionate about the Rockies, even if they weren't such total bandwagoners. Denver still loves the Broncos even though they suck, and if the Rockies could ever make it into October and farther, they'd be adored too -- the Denver area supports a winner, and the losing years afterwards, like no other. The problem is that the Rockies haven't had a winner in 12+ years and that was even after their flukey wild card/subsequent first-round exit in 1995... Fire the effing Monforts/Hurdle/O'Dowd already. I'm getting deadly serious. I absolutely adore the team and the guys, but the management makes me want to ---

[interrupted by mother effing fire alarm -- if that thing goes off one more blasted time, I'm deactivating it -- ]

Ahem --

-- kill something. Management or fire alarms alike. Take your pick.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

She Is Not Dead Yet

...but she may be soon. Honestly, this end-of-semester grind is killing me. I have one more research paper to finish (I still need to write half of it) and I also need to finish my writing project, which at least is closer to completion. Not to mention write another philosophy essay, a short piece for literature, keep on top of all the stories and essays I need to read, and worry about possibly changing my airline ticket home if the screwy college storage schedules don't align... you know, stuff like that. I wake up feeling as exhausted as when I go to sleep and I've barely had a free moment to (gasp) have FUN for practically two weeks. Until today. Today was lovely. I went to bed at midnight last night (unfathomably early for a college student such as myself) woke up at noon, had brunch, then went out into a gorgeous, glorious, summer-like day with all the trees in bloom, swinging and listening to music, fixing my bike, walking into Bronxville, eating frozen yogurt, and finally swinging again in bare feet, watching the long evening settle over campus. It was the first day in forever that I didn't do any schoolwork, which I am now compensating for by editing my research paper. And watching baseball. I think that's a reason it takes me so long to get anything done in the evenings.

What have I missed in the land of baseball? The Cardinals got swept in an abbreviated two-game set by the GIANTS (ouch...) won the first game against the Cubs by a score of 2-1 (winning margin helpfully provided by Preston Wilson, of all people, which means he'll now go hide again with the rest of the Cards' bats). Today... ouch, well, let's just say they got shut out by Jason Marquis. Jason Marquis. Yes, the same Bipolar Betty who I said would force me to commit some form of impressive suicide if he shut the Cards down. Things are bad in Redbird Land. Nobody can hit to save their lives and the starting pitching is starting to crumble, led by Anthony Reyes, who is looking more and more as if he may not pan out after all in the majors. This team needs Albert Pujols to start hitting like they need a right arm, specifically Chris Carpenter's, and they need it before they sink. At least the Cubs are still bad, but if the Cards keep up with this free-fall much longer, they are going to be inhabiting some pretty miserable climates for a defending world series champion -- I can't remember how long it's been since the champs started off this poorly, but it's been a while.

Out of all three teams, the A's, surprisingly, are playing the best. They annihilated the Rangers 16-4 last night and are alone in first place (like that means squat this early in the season) with a 9-7 record. I'm bracing for May, which is invariably devastating to them, but at this point, it's nice to see at least one of my teams doing well. Joe Kennedy (yes, Joe Kennedy, spoken in the same tone of dread as Marquis) is starting tonight against the Rangers.

The Rockies... ah, well. They have to start having some better luck, and they manage to intersperse their bad games with one or two where they look quite good, so it's enough to keep me watching them, aside from the fact that I'm totally addicted to their young guns (love those guys -- particularly Atkins, Holliday, and Hawpe -- to death). The Rockies are bad, have been bad for a while, and yet still have a faint hope of snapping out of it. But not as long as Clint Hurdle is the manager. The man is so clueless that it ceased to be funny quite a while ago. The Rockies got blown out 11-1 by the Padres last night, and currently trail 5-1 in the top of the fourth after Josh Fogg and Jeff Francis got shelled on back-to-back nights. The one thing that was carrying the team -- the starting pitching -- has started to evaporate, and the offense, although not quite as bad as the Cards', isn't doing them too many favors. The Purple Pitcher Eaters, i.e. Atkins, Helton, Holliday, and Hawpe, are all hitting to some degree, but the rest of the team, and particularly the black holes in center field, can't help them out to save their lives. Le sigh.

However... the Rockies are coming to NY Monday-Wednesday next week to play the Mets, and I shall be attending two of the games (April 23 and 25). Have to admit that despite the high likelihood of the Mets clobbering them, I am SO excited for the series that I can't bear it. A friend and I planned this several months ago, and I just want to go to my first ballgame of the year, wear my colors, cheer for my boys, and get some pictures and hopefully some autographs. (My theory: How many Rockies fans will there be in April at Shea? Honestly. My plan is to sit on the sidelines and look cute and forlorn all by myself until the guys take pity on me and come over). Hopefully the ushers at Shea will allow me to be down by the dugout during batting practice -- it also helps that I know the Rockies to an alarming degree and can call them over by name, which may or may not be helpful. I'll be glad for anyone I can get, unless it's LaTroy Hawkins, at which point I shall cast holy water on him and yell, "Back! Back!"

Just kidding. Maybe.

And now for a couple links:

This story is amazing and sad and makes me love baseball even more. It's wonderful that the VT community can come together to support their team in light of the terrible tragedy.

This story, on the other hand, is amazing and cute and makes me grin like a crazy person.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Memoriam

Non baseball-related but too momentous to overlook... Yesterday, April 16, 2007, almost eight years to the day after the Columbine High School shootings, a lone gunman killed 32 and wounded almost as many at Virginia Tech University before taking his own life. The amount of human life wasted is staggering. These were bright, smart, eager young people, and accomplished, devoted professors, taking the chance to better their own lives and to do the same for others, senselessly gunned down in a hail of gunfire. They are martyrs and some, like Professor Liviu Librescu who blocked the doorway to his classroom with his own body and sacrificed himself to let his students escape, are heroes. There are no words to comfort the families and friends who are grieving right now.

I do not know anyone at Virginia Tech. Heck, I've never even been to Virginia. But I am a college student, and a person, and a rational, sane, empathetic human being who cares deeply when something of this magnitude rattles the world - it was not only the worst school shooting in U.S. history, but the worst mass shooting in U.S. history by a single gunman. The depravity and madness that drove someone to do this are incalculable. This person -- and I don't like using that word -- is a monster. I am not religious in the slightest, but I do hope two things. A) That there is a spiritual being somewhere who will give comfort to the bereft, and b) that there is a hell, so the shooter can burn in it.

Baseball is a wonderful, thrilling sport that I'm passionate about, but I care for human life more. The baseball news today isn't worth blogging about (Cards swept by Pirates in short two-game series, Rockies shut out at home by Giants) and I'm fairly upset right now. I advise you to check out the lyrics to P.O.D.'s wrenching, excellent song "Youth of the Nation," now more timely than ever. Download it. Do something. Above all, go on. As long as there are this many people that care in the world, we are not dead yet.

Peace to everyone. Don't forget to tell your loved ones how much you care. Hold that special someone a little closer. Hug your spouse, your sibling, your girlfriend or boyfriend, even your dog or your cat. Love is stronger than hatred and I do believe that.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dungeons and Diamonds

No, it isn't a new fantasy role-playing game, but it's the most accurate way to sum up the past few days. All three of my teams were felled on Friday the 13th in a variety of very inventive ways, ranging from the usual not-enough-offense (Cardinals dropped by Brewers 3-2) to terrible managing (Hurdle pinch-hitting John Mabry instead of Jeff Baker with the Rockies within a run and two aboard in the ninth; Rockies lose to D-backs 5-4) to the homer in extras (Jason Giambi breaks a 3-3 tie in the 13th inning.... spookily enough... to take the Yanks over the A's 4-3), completing the Terrible Trifecta day in which all of my teams lose. That is not fun. Fortunately, there were both good and bad results to be found today.

The Cardinals completed their Sunday blowout -- last week it was to eradicate the Astros 10-1 and this week it was to do basically the same thing to the Brewers, except Braden Looper allowed an extra run as the Redbirds took it by a score of 10-2. Encouragingly, five RBIs were provided by Albert Pujols, who is scuffling to start the season, but more than doubled his total numbers to date with two line-drive home runs and a groundout. He's not out of the woods just yet, as the first home run came on a batting-practice fastball and the second came on a curve, or at least a pitch that was supposed to be a curve and floated in his wheelhouse, and I'm not ready to pronounce him rehabilitated until he can do it more than once a week. Still, both times that Albert has had a big outing, the Cards offense has scored a heap of runs -- once he can get it going on a consistent basis, maybe they'll finally average more than two or three runs per game. The pitching has been exemplary, even my personal favorite whipping boy Looper, and this is by no means a bad team despite all snide predictions to the contrary. The Cubs, for example, are 4-7 and got shut out 1-0 at home today on the back of a brilliant performance by the Reds' Kyle Lohse - 8 shutout innings and 12 Ks. Yes, the Kyle Lohse who got cut by Minnesota for being terrible. You might say that $300 million is not having the immediate wished-for results.

About the A's... man, today was an emotional roller coaster. Rich Harden had a great start, tried to barehand a Melky Cabrera chopper in the third, and got examined by the med staff. He seemed to be okay until the start of the seventh, where he was looked at again, gave up an A-Rod double, and then got pulled with what the A's notoriously evasive medical staff is calling "tightness" in his throwing shoulder. Harden is brilliantly untouchable and Cy Young-like when he's on, but blow on him the wrong way and he breaks. It's extremely aggravating. A's fans everywhere must pray that it's nothing serious, but I in no way trust the A's medical team to properly manage this injury. It could mean anything from "his next start is pushed back a few days" to "his career is over," and although I salivate over Harden's potential, his complete and utter inability to stay healthy is maddening. Losing Carpenter and Harden off two of my teams is awful, and I'm dearly hoping that it'll be nothing serious. Harden's spot in the rotation makes only one start before April 25, due to the conjunction of off-days, so it's possible the A's could survive if it was just a short-term thing, but with Harden's extremely checkered medical past, nothing is certain. Here's where the loss of Zito hurts (although he's not doing much impressing with the Giants). If the A's have to run out a rotation of Danny Haren, Joe Blanton, Chad Gaudin, Joe Kennedy, and who? Brad Halsey?, they are, pardon my French, fucked. If Harden goes down, it's going to be very, very tough going for the A's. And frankly, I'm getting a little frustrated with Rich. How in the hell can one ballplayer be injured so much? Is it weight training too much? Simple physical fragility? The nasty whispers that steroids have weakened the muscles? Who knows, and if the baseball gods have any heart at all, they will not allow him to go down yet -- freaking -- again.

The other injury risk who could actually benefit the A's by going down right now is starting shortstop Bobby Crosby. To start with, his defense is atrocious right now -- it's maybe a 50% chance that he'll make a routine play. He bobbles DP balls, overthrows the first baseman, can't hang onto hard hoppers, and generally makes you wince every time it's hit in his direction -- his defense was directly responsible for the A's Opening Day defeat in Seattle. And his hitting is abominable. Twice in the past two games, Eric Chavez got aboard and into scoring position -- once by a triple, once by a walk and a stolen base -- and twice, Crosby left him there with some of the weakest situational hitting one could imagine, pulling a pitch feebly onto the ground once and striking out on three the other time. Some people are saying that he's still in Spring Training since his balky back held him out of the majority of Cactus League action, but the truth is that Crosby is criminally overrated and has been for a while. Even in his 2004 Rookie of the Year season, he hit only .239, and although A's fans have been clamoring for him to be healthy and show his potential, now that he's playing, there doesn't appear to be any. Even the most talented college players can be busts in the big leagues, and this isn't a case of 12 games in April, it's a case of Crosby's short and unfortunate career to date. I'll give him some more leeway, but not a lot.

And besides, there may be another option....this brings me to today's happy A's news. Despite all the crap that went on otherwise, and Harden leaving before Joe Kennedy was brought in to cough up three runs to the Yankees (now HE is bad and always will be) the A's actually won. Yes, and they did it in an amazing and heartstopping fashion. The Yankees were up 4-2 heading to the bottom of the ninth, and they put in Superman closer Mariano Rivera, who almost always gets the job done and is one of the few relievers that is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He got two quick outs, and this is where (to my later chagrin) I left the proceedings, unable to bear the A's offensive ineptitude. Then I came back later, saw that the box read "NYY 4 -- OAK 5" and stared at it, incomprehending. Then I saw what had happened and began to freak out, laughing, rocking, giggling, cheering, and generally making it a good thing that I was alone in my dorm room.

Here's what unfolded with two outs and no one on:

Todd Walker lined a first-pitch single into left field.
Jason Kendall took 9 pitches, fighting and fouling off, to work a walk.
Marco Scutaro, possibly the most amazing little man known to baseball, takes a called strike and then fouls off another to quickly put himself into an 0-2 hole. Against Rivera. Two outs. Two on. And on the third pitch - BOOM. A screaming line drive that bangs into the left-field foul pole. Three-run homer. Walkoff. Delirium. My friend who was at the game called me about twenty minutes afterwards, and all he could say, over and over, was, "Oh my God." It was hard to hear since the A's fans were still so happy, and he held up the phone so I could hear a raucous chant of "YANKEES SUCK!" in the background. Aaaaaahh.

As for the last game of the day, the Rockies lost, finishing out a disappointing 3-6 road trip in which they won the first game in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Phoenix before losing the next two, and preventing a three-win day from happening for the first time this season. The big bats -- Atkins, Helton, Holliday, and Hawpe -- all contributed for the latter two games, turning in a homer, an RBI double, a single (Atkins) a double and a homer (Helton) 4 hits overall (Holliday) and a screaming 2-RBI double (Hawpe), but LaTroy Hawkins the Doominator and Hurdle the functional retard, along with Byung-Hyun Kim's terrible start, conspired to screw them out of any series victories. The Rockies head back to Denver to open a seven-game homestand, starting with the Geriatrics and Barry Zito vs. Jeff Francis. Not winning on the road really killed them last year, so they're going to have to fix that pronto to have any hope of competing. Fortunately, the Giants have a terrible offense, so hopefully the Rockies can get some momentum going at Coors before coming out East to play the Mets (and I'm going!!!!! :D) in a week and a half.

That's it for now. I still have a backbreaking workload and need to do some more, so the blog may not get updated every day. Still, I'll do my best to bring you any and all news, interesting happenings, dramatic wins, gut-wrenching losses, shoddy analysis, euphoria, despair, heroes, goats, and fictitious interviews. See ya around.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Seriously, Guys, I Wasn't Kidding

Somebody do a slumpbuster.

I'd volunteer, except a) I am not a slut, b) have no wish to be, and c) am in New York while they are in Los Angeles, which may be just a bit problematic unless doing it virtually counts. That was one of the most frustrating games in the early going of a long season, and hard to absorb for someone hoping that the deep doldrums over the bats might finally be broken. That's all I've got to say for now - it's redonkolously late (1 AM) I have to get up in about seven hours, and I can't even go to bed yet as I desperately need to do at least a page more of philosophy so my professor, who generally thinks I do very well in his class, has no need to change his opinion. But if anybody knows any good slumpbusters (this being L.A., they should be available in profusion) send them to the Rockies' hotel and tell their wives to yell at me should anyone complain. It'll pay off. A hitting player is a happier player, and that includes everywhere.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Somebody Do A Slumpbuster

Short post today because I'm still absolutely snowed under with work and getting to the point where I wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as when I went to sleep. Unfortunately, my habit of staying up to watch my teams on the West Coast may have something to do with this, but what hey! Baseball above mental function! What the hell.

Here are the three scores from my teams last night: 3-2, 2-1, 2-1. Everybody appears to be having the exact same problem, and I really mean the exact same: Their starting pitching shines for six or seven innings, permitting barely any runs or even hits and walks, but the offense goes dead in the water and can't help them out. Even the high-octane Rockies "Purple Pitcher Eaters" are a little lackadaisical on the job. Somebody needs to track down a slumpbuster, carefully avoid telling any wives in question, and get with the program -- this stellar starting pitching isn't going to last forever. Besides, every one of my teams has what I like to call the "ulp-factor" guy, someone who makes you cover your eyes whenever he comes in close and late because you're pretty much dead certain that he's going to give up the ghost.

It's worth noting that the Cards (3-2) and the A's (2-1) actually won their games. The Cards tied it up on a two-run ninth inning single from Scott Spiezio, who wasn't even playing the previous day to a case of food poisoning, and won it on a shallow sac fly from Skip Schumaker in the twelfth, benefiting from suspect defense from Jason Bay. Interestingly, the exact same thing happened with the A's, except they didn't go into extras; they tied and won it in the ninth when Mark Ellis's game-winning single bonked Scott Podsednik on the head. (I've got to find a video of that). I'm starting to wonder if these guys are symbiotically bonded or something. It makes you wonder.

The Rox almost got no-hit by Brett Tomko, of all people (Holliday doubled to avoid such ignominy) and tied it up in the seventh, but squandered a golden opportunity in the eighth, when, with the bases loaded, Holliday grounded into a double play on the first pitch. It is worth noting that he was substantially ticked afterwards, and that for a sweet, nice, down-home country boy, Matt has a surprisingly hot temper. He was giving the ump in San Diego an earful after he was clearly safe on a ninth-inning ground ball and got called out, in a game the Rox later lost, but he needs to shift that anger into helping the offense pick it up. The Rockies' starting rotation has been the biggest surprise of the season to date, but it won't be that way forever. Even Rodrigo Lopez turned in a second consecutive quality start, and the offense has been anemic as the pitching has been good. That won't last forever, however, so the trick is getting the timing of the trade-offs to coincide.

As a final note, my beloved Adam goes trying to nail down a sweep of the Buccos today. If they succeed, they will have recovered nicely from being swept by the Mets -- they won two of three against the Astros and will have done so against the Pirates even if they lose today. I am hoping they won't. Naturally.

Ta-ta for now. The grim prospect of a philosophy research paper awaits.

Monday, April 09, 2007

In the Aftermath of an Ion Storm

...utter weirdness ensues. Okay, I'm lying, I have no idea if there was an ion emission from the sun today or not, but there's gotta be some explanation for the random acts of oddness that kept popping up in baseball games (at least the ones I watched) today. Braden Looper, the much-flagellated whipping boy of this blog, pitched seven shutout innings against the Pirates while permitting only two hits and three apiece of walks and strikeouts, spoiling a chilly debut in Pittsburgh against Ian Snell. No, that's not a typo - a reliever who has made a career out of underwhelming in key situations actually appears (through two starts at least) to be an act of absolute highway robbery by pitching coach extraordinaire Dave Duncan. It appears as if the magic touch of Duncan elder may have turned not just Looper, but Kip Wells in addition, into serviceable starters (Kip also pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only one hit, in a 10-1 Easter Sunday romp over the Astros). Still, I'm not ready to award either of them the Cy, as Sidney Ponson also started off well for the Redbirds last year before utterly disintegrating. (To bring a balancing touch to the bizarre events of the day, Sir Sid remained true to form and was shelled for 10 hits and 8 runs in 5.2 innings against the Twins). Looper has pitched well against the Pirates before, logging an 1.60 ERA coming into today's appearance, and let's face it, the 2007 Pirates aren't exactly the 1927 Yankees. Still, progress is progress.

Still, especially with the bad news about Carpenter, the Cardinals really need some quality outings -- which they have been getting, despite the snide idiocy of certain writers. (John Donovan ranked the Cards at #27 and added that they'd had a 2-4 opening with zero quality starts. John, may I bring to your attention: Wells, 6 IP, 2 ER, Looper, 6 IP, 3 ER, Wainwright, 7 IP, 0 ER, Wells, 7 IP, 0 ER, Looper, 7 IP, 0 ER. The pitching is the furthest thing from being the problem right now -- it's that the offense, even King Albert, still thinks it's in spring training). However, Albert cracked his first homer of the season on Sunday and followed it up today with a 2-for-3, 2 runs scored performance against personal nemesis Ian Snell. (Well, aside from his other personal nemesis, Brad Lidge, who lost the closer's job after allowing 5 ER in a ninth-inning stint against the Cards on Sunday... he never recovered after allowing Albert's climactic 9th-inning homer in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS).

As for Carpenter, it's bad news... part of my worst-case projection scenario was that he would be hurt. Still, as tempting as a bridge-leaping escapade might look, it's not actually the end of the world. The official diagnosis is moderate arthritis and impingement, so let's take that one at a time. Moderate arthritis is worrisome, and it's what eventually led to the end of Sandy Koufax's career, but he pitched three great seasons after the initial diagnosis was made, so it's not immediately threatening. As for an impingement, it's common with athletes who make continual repetitive motions (such as throwing, in Carp's case) and it's when the membrane of the elbow gets stuck in the elbow joint. Although it's painful, rest and medicine can help treat it -- arthroscopic surgery is the last-case solution and hopefully it won't come to that. Cards Nation can exhale a communal sigh of relief that there is, according to the team doctors, no torn ligaments -- a problem of that nature would likely require the nefarious Tommy John surgery and shelve Carp for the rest of the season. Injury to a guy who won the Cy Young less than two years ago is never what you want to hear, but the Cards could DL him retroactive to his last appearance (April 1) and have him miss only one more start after today. It all depends on how it's feeling and how well it responds to rest.

At least this happened early in the season instead of September, and there's still every chance that Carp can come back and have a dominant '07 campaign. It probably explains a bit about his bad Opening Night start, however. And all things considered, the rotation is much stronger at this point than it was one year ago, despite that none of the current four were there in April 2006. It's shed Ponson, Marquis, Weaver, and injured Mulder, so I have hope that they can carry the slack while Carp's gone. Randy Keisler, an unspectacular reliever, will be making Carp's scheduled start tomorrow -- Blake Hawksworth in Memphis was mentioned as a possible solution, but he's still young, possibly not ready for a full-time assignment, and you don't want to start his arbitration clock too early if he's not prepared for the pressures of the big leagues. Keisler's bad, but there's no one you could possibly run out there who would be as good as Carp. Hopefully it's just one or two spot starts and then the Cards get their ace back. I repeat: it does not appear to be serious and season and/or career-threatening.

Now pardon me while I go jump off a bridge.

Just kidding, of course. To add to the weirdness of today, Preston Wilson actually came up with a clutch two-run double in a late-inning situation, Jason Isringhausen worked a 1-2-3 ninth without a single baserunner, and Chris Duncan didn't make an error in the field. (Kidding again... I have a great fondness for Duncan the younger, at least for his bat, and his defense hasn't been nearly as atrocious as it was in the World Series). Pujols and Rolen are still struggling to stay over the Mendoza line, but both have shown recent signs of coming around, which is good. All in all, the Cards have won three of four since being swept by the Mets to inaugurate the season, and there's no need for widespread panic in Redbird Land.

Ah, who am I kidding? I've already jumped off that bridge.

Anyway, the Rockies also overcame a fairly big hurdle (and no, not their manager, although he does quantify as a permanent obstruction) by coming into Los Angeles and taking the Dodgers' home opener from them by a score of 6-3. Garrett Atkins hit his first homer of the season, a solo jack in the first, and totaled 3 RBI, the other two coming on sacrifice flies. Brad Hawpe continued to flash a hot bat, and Jeff Baker seems intent on carving out regular playing time by hook or by crook. But the weirdest thing of all was that anemic leadoff man Willy Taveras actually smoked a line-drive double and ran out an infield hit for a 2-for-5 day. (He also struck out twice, naturally, including once to kill a big rally, but you can't have everything...) Taveras has looked bad in the opening weeks, and not just getting-unlucky bad, as in totally-overmatched bad. He had the lowest on-base percentage in the league and although his speed is excellent for throwing pitchers off, it does absolutely jack-squat if he can't get on. Steve Finley is just as bad, and for some reason, the Rockies refuse to entertain the notion of promoting Ryan Spilborghs from AAA Colorado Springs to fill this vacancy. All he did was hit over .400 in the spring, and he's definitely got the speed for center. But no... although I am now just as passionate about the Rox as I am about my other two teams, I have to admit that the obstinacy and sometimes sheer idiocy of their management kills me on a regular basis.

Jeff Francis continued the string of shockingly excellent pitching from the Rox's starting rotation, going 6.2 strong innings and allowing only 2 runs. Brian Fuentes got himself into a heap of trouble in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with none out, but escaped with an infield-fly popout, a sac fly, and another flyout to seal the deal. The Rockies were 4-15 against the Dodgers last year, and even a 9-10 record would have put them at a 81-81 (.500) overall, so improving there will be key. Hopefully they also win the following games of this series, something that they failed to do in San Diego despite also taking the opener. They played the Padres very tough and were repeatedly screwed by some god-awful umpiring, so if it wasn't for the blue and LaTroy Hawkins (who is personally responsible for two of their three losses) they could be 6-1 or even undefeated despite their vaunted offense not being entirely on the stick just yet. This is a very good and very underrated team that I'm doing my best not to get too excited about, because, pardon my French, I just know Clint Hurdle will find a way to shit the bed. I have zero confidence in his ability and desire to win.

Well, the A's home opener kicked off about fifteen minutes ago, with Rich Harden making the start against the White Sox and Jose Contreras. If the A's win, it'll be the first time that all three of my teams have won on the same day this season.

(P.S. Further evidence of crazy-world. Harden started Paul Konerko off 0-2, then completely lost his command and threw him four straight in the dirt to walk him. That ion storm is powerful stuff).

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Man of the Minute: Adam Wainwright

In keeping with the tradition of bringing you the inside scoop, and hard-hitting fictitious journalism on all your (my) favorite players and incidents, Sparks of Dementia finally managed to catch up with last night's hero for the Cardinals, closer-turned-starter Adam Wainwright, whose pitching and hitting led the Redbirds to their first win of '07. (They flopped again today, but that's another matter). Here's what Adam had to say to that effect... enjoy.

(That's Adam kissing the box containing his World Series ring, which he richly earned. You're welcome).

SD: Well, first off, congratulations for a lot of things, Adam. Congrats on having a stellar rookie campaign, the birth of your daughter, winning the World Series, making the conversion flawlessly from rock-solid bullpen brat to potential ace-in-training, and for having a sterling debut on both sides of the ball.
AW: Thanks. It's been an exciting few years.
SD: Your strikeout of Carlos Beltran in NLCS Game 7 is now going to be an ingrained part of postseason lore. What can you say about that?
AW: Well, I've talked a lot about it already, and you know, I don't want to disrespect Beltran or the Mets by going over it again. He's a great ballplayer, that's a really strong club over there in Queens -- guess we should know, the way they just hacked through us [laughs] -- and that's from 2006 and I'm trying to keep my focus on 2007 now. Still, though, it was pretty much perfect. It was a little leaguer's dream to be standing out there in that situation and come through. I just trusted Yadi [catcher Yadier Molina] threw the hook, and it worked out well for us. I'd be singing a different tune now if it hadn't. [laughs] But championships don't carry over from season to season and my focus now is only on returning the trophy to St. Louis in '07.
SD: Very well, let's talk about 2007. Do you anticipate preparing for your game differently now that you know you're going to be run out there every fifth day on a schedule instead of being called upon as situations demand?
AW: No, not really. I go about my game the same way. I've just got to keep my head in there, focus on what I'm doing, not get too caught up in the peripherals, and make my pitches. It's definitely different now that I know when I'm going to be pitching instead of being used out of the bullpen, but I like that stability. I was a starter in Memphis [the Cardinals' AAA affiliate] and I've always been used as one, but clearly last year there was no chance of me cracking the rotation -- coming into camp, I didn't even think I was going to make the team -- so I'm just happy that I got to experience it from the bullpen. But now, you know, situations have changed, guys have left, and I have my chance, so I just want to take it and run with it. I'm confident in my ability, I don't have any fear -- there's no room for it at this level -- and I'm looking forward to getting out there every fifth day and giving my team a chance to win.
SD: How important was it for you guys to capture this first win coming off a tough season-opening sweep?
AW: Very. Oh, definitely, it was big. We played like crap against the Mets and we know that we're better than that. We're hitting the ball hard, but you know that everyone wants to elevate their game and nobody wants to start off 0-10 or something. So I just came out and thankfully I kept them off-balance, my teammates really helped me out and we picked up that win. I hope we'll be seeing that a lot this year. [smiles]
SD: For a pitcher, you sure seem to be a terrific hitter. You homered last year on the first pitch you saw in your first major-league at-bat, you ripped a two-run double in the Civil Rights Game, and last night you helped yourself out again.
AW: That's just the way it is... not sure why, but I've always been pretty decent with swinging the bat. It just happens, I guess. [shrugs]
SD: Which pitcher on the team influences you the most?
AW: I would definitely say either Carp [Chris Carpenter] or Izzy [Jason Isringhausen]. Those guys have been around a long time, they're veterans, they've had a lot of success at the big-league level, and I really like just watching them do their thing. Last year Izzy was sort of the mentor for all the bullpen guys and there's a lot you can learn from observing him, noting what he does, just trying to emulate him. I think he was more happy than I was for all that postseason stuff I did, and that's saying a lot. [smiles] As for Carp, he's amazing, he's our ace, he's possibly the top righty starter in the league. He knows what to do out there, he has a great feel for a game situation and mixing up his pitches, and he's so professional. He just goes out there and does his job game after game, really gives us the best chance to win. He's a special guy, a special teammate, great pitcher, good friend. All the young guys on the team want to be like him, to just reach that consistent level of quality.
SD: Tell Chris to come back healthy soon and get out there and win for us.
AW: Will do. [smiles]
SD: Who's going to win the NL Cy Young?
AW: Me, of course. [laughs] In all seriousness, I don't know. It was kind of a two-horse race between Carp and Webb last year and Webb won. He had a good year, he deserved it. But this year there's a lot of candidates who are really talented and I don't want to insult anyone by naming names, so I guess that's a mystery.
SD: When you reach your free-agency years, is there any hope that the Cards can keep you from going to the Braves?
AW: Aw, man, you had to ask that, didn't you? [smiles] You know, I was born in Georgia, I grew up there, I live there in the offseason, and me and my brother had this whole elaborate plan to get me drafted by the Braves. It even worked, but then of course, I got traded. [laughs] I won't deny that it would be really special for me to play there, they're such a successful franchise and I've loved them for as long as I can remember. All my family lives in Georgia, my brother's in Atlanta, and I know it would be really meaningful for them too, but right now I'm part of something special in St. Louis. I've won a world championship here and this team has some great players -- Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, everyone, really, and I'm content to be here and to play for the Cards and hopefully see another Red October this fall.
SD: About tonight... the Cards couldn't quite build momentum, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Astros and Roy Oswalt. Do you guys think you can get the ship into gear?
AW: Absolutely. It's still extremely early -- we've only played, what, five games? There are still 157 to go, and anything can happen between now and September. We're not going to score a total of six runs all year. [laughs] We've gotten off the schneid and we're going to play better. But tonight, well, we ran into a guy who's going to win a Cy Young eventually, you just have to tip your cap and say that the better man won. But we're going to come out tomorrow and try to get something going before we head into Pittsburgh. We can't rest on our laurels anymore -- the banner's been raised, we have our rings, and now it's open season and we've got to execute as a team. And we are a team, we're going to win or lose together, and I'm excited to see where we go.
SD: Me too. But... well... it would help if you could score runs.
AW: [laughs] I know. But the big guys -- Albert, Jimmy, Scottie, Eck, everyone's going to get into gear and then we'll score more, I promise. [laughs]
SD: A final question...
AW: Sure.
SD: ...... Can I.... Can I have a hug?
AW: [laughs] No problem.
SD: [completely forgets witty closing remark because in addition to a hug, Adam gave her a kiss on the cheek]

Friday, April 06, 2007

Piazza Delivery Man

Mike Piazza, the A's most recent rent-a-player/offense-injecting scheme, finally came to life last night, notching a double, a single, and most importantly, a two-out solo jack in the top of the ninth off monstrously irritating considerably talented Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez to break a 3-3 tie and secure a win for the A's. To further juicify the picture, Jason Kendall, he of the noodle arm only surpassed by Piazza himself, ended the game by nailing a thieving Erick Aybar with a perfect throw at second. The A's drew their record even at 2-2 and continue to battle the O.C. Bitches tonight, with Joe Kennedy (gulp) trying to prove that he's able to start at a major-league level. The answer, if you watched him with the D-Rays and Rockies, is a resounding no. But at the moment, the A's really have their hands tied, as their starting rotation is stretched as thin as chewing gum anyway. Esteban Loaiza went on the DL with yet another early-season shoulder issue, but deactivating him is FAR preferable to running him out there and making him pitch anyway, as management tried to do last year with gory results.

Both the Cards and the Rockies had an off-day, where they traveled to Houston and San Diego, respectively. The Cards' game is over, and they won (hallelujah) thanks in large part to a certain dashing Mr. Wainwright. Sparks of Dementia will track him down and get the inside scoop, so you know what that means. ;) In addition to contributing the Cardinals' first stellar start of the season (7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 BB, 4 K, and notching his first win as a starter) Adam continued to prove that his success with the bat is no fluke. He ripped a two-run double in the exhibition Civil Rights Game before the start of the season, and helped himself out again tonight with an RBI double to start the scoring, the Cards' first run since Scott Rolen's homer in Game 2 against the Mets, and subsequently scoring on a Chris Duncan jack. Honestly, when he's pitching, the number-nine hole for the Cards has legitimate kick, and I love it. :)

At the moment, Joe Kennedy is slowly beginning the process of implosion, as it's already 2-0 Angels with men on second and third and only one out. Seeing as he's 0-8 with a 6.31 ERA against the O.C. Bitches anyway, throwing him anyway seems to fit neatly under the definition of insanity - doing the same thing and expecting different results. But as mentioned, the A's are shockingly short on options. Brad Halsey is just as bad, Shane Komine and Jason Windsor are in Triple-A Sacramento and haven't proved that they're ready to compete on a Major League level, and the A's only viable other choice is lefty long man Lenny DiNardo, who would need to be stretched out and is unlikely to be at this point. I developed a confoundedly deep affection for Lenny despite the fact that he used to be a Red Sock, and I'm happy that he made the team.

One more thing - the humorous TV spots for both the A's and the San Diego Padres are on the air now. I love these things -- the Mariners started them and they've been a huge hit for a number of teams since. I highly recommend that if you find yourself with a spare moment, you go to their official sites, click "Multimedia" (or "Fan Forum") and indulge yourself in some comic genius. The M's older ads are particularly hysterical.

More later once I find Adam and get the goods for you. ;)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Man of the Minute: Matt Holliday

Sparks of Dementia was very lucky to touch base (heh) with today's hero for the Rockies, mashing left fielder Matt Holliday, who appears to have his swing back folllowing a 4-for-5, 4-RBI performance to skyrocket his average to .400. After that terrific outing, what does Matt have to say about today? Take it away.

(The one on the left with the goofy smile is our special guest. The one laughing in his face and clutching his hand is his pal, Garrett).

SD: Thanks for chatting, Matt.
MH: Sure.
SD: So tell us, how did you feel about today? What did you do differently?
MH: Not a whole lot. I mean, I was making some good swings earlier in the series, just trying to get the bat through, see the ball better. I was just going out there looking for a pitch I wasn't going to do too much with, just keep my hands level, keep my stance even, and rip it. I don't change my approach, it's sometimes just a matter of luck with this game. I was feeling good out there and today we got some results.
SD: Your good buddy Garrett Atkins kicked things into gear as well. What do you have to say about that?
MH: Oh, Garrett, I've said it before and I'll say it again, but he's one of the most underrated hitters in the NL. Last season he walked more than he struck out, he's equally good on the road, he has a sweet swing. It just comes real easy for him. He's just a tough out, knows what to do when he's up there. He plays the game the right way.
SD: How confident do you guys feel at the start of the season?
MH: It's a long season --
SD: I knew you were going to say that.
MH: Uh. Sorry. But it is, we got 159 games left that we have to go out there and grind, do our best, just put everything into it and leave it all on the field and come back the next day and do it again. But a strong start is important. You don't win pennants in April, but you can lose them if you're not careful.
SD: Are you tired of people complaining about the humidor?
MH: Oh totally. It's there, it's going to be there. If everyone goes on about how Coors inflates numbers, then why do we play games there? They still count, it's a fact. It's also a fact that we're a mile high and that's just the way the ball breaks here. Me and Todd [Helton], we offered the humidor guy a lot of money to just go away but he wasn't gonna be bought off. [laughs] So it's here, and that's what it's going to be, and everyone's just going to have to deal with it.
SD: Ever get the feeling that people are complaining because they're used to being able to come into Coors and pad their stats and beat up on what used to be a bad Rockies team?
MH: To some effect, maybe, but I don't want to get in trouble. [laughs] But yeah, we've got a lot of charge in this lineup, as long as our pitchers can keep the ball down and get some outs, and we can play defense and compete as a team, we can win some ballgames.
SD: Who's got the best poker face on the team?
MH: What?
SD: C'mon, it's just a question.
MH: Well... I dunno, actually. Carroll, maybe... Fuentes is pretty good too.
SD: What do you do in your spare time?
MH: Spare time? What's that? [laughs] Well, usually I'm watching tape or working on my swing, stuff like that, but if not, I like to hang out with my wife, my kids, play a little golf, kick back, watch movies. Nothing too stressful.
SD: Congratulations on the birth of your new son. How's he doing?
MH: Thanks! He's a good kid -- he sleeps well, so that means that [wife] Leslee and I do too.
SD: Who's your best friend on the team?
MH: Oh, Atkins, definitely. We've been teammates since -- wow, since about 2001, back when we were in Salem. And Sullivan - we live together in spring training, all three of us, and my family too, but Cory's down in Colorado Springs right now.
SD: Ever make Garrett and Cory babysit?
MH: [laughs] Yeah, sometimes.
SD: Do you trust your kids to them?
MH: [laughs] Sure, why not?
SD: Ever read Purple Row? It's a great Rockies blog.
MH: Yeah, I've checked in there once or twice. It's interesting to see what the fans have to say. SD: Ever posted anything?
MH: [smiles]
SD: Well, one last question.
MH: Great.
SD: Does it bother you that I'm making all of this up?
MH: Naw... since you're in New York and I'm in Colorado, it's the best you could do.
SD: Thanks! Well, I'll actually see you in April when the Rockies come to New York to play the Mets, and good luck in the season, Mr. All-Star. Hopefully you can be wearing that Colorado uniform to San Francisco.
MH: That's the goal.
SD: Again, thanks for letting me invent this!
MH: No prob, any time.

Batting Averages: .333 Last Night, .167 Overall

Well, the second day of the season went better for some, less so for others. The Cards haven't returned from the sun-soaked idylls of Spring Training, evidently, as not even their ring ceremony could spur them to pull out a win over the Mets. New acquisition Kip Wells did well until the sixth inning, when the wheels fell off and culminated with him yielding a two-run double to the possible android El Duque, who never seems to get any older. Unfortunately, the Cards' bats couldn't chip back, with the exception of a solo homer by Scottie Rolen - the first dinger hit at Busch in '07 and the first for the team in general. The Cards had a great opportunity with Pujols up, two on, and two out in the bottom of the eighth, but Pujols couldn't produce - he had been hitting the ball hard all game, as most of the Cards were, but they just weren't finding holes. The Cards also didn't help their case last night with three double plays - no sooner did the leadoff man get on than they would be erased by a twin killing. Still, the last time the Cards got off to an 0-2 start was in 2004, when they won 105 games and steamrolled everybody (albeit not in the World Series) so there's hope. Everyone's three years older and a little worse, now, so things in Redbird Nation will bear careful watching.

I'm not that worried about the Cards, at least not offensively - their luck has to start changing and balls have to start finding holes eventually. At least they're all making solid contact and there have been very few strikeouts. However, I am worried about the mutterings surrounding Chris Carpenter and his prized right arm. Apparently it stiffened up on him after his start, to the point that he couldn't touch his right shoulder with his right hand, and he's being held out of his scheduled Friday start as a precautionary measure. At least it's not his shoulder, which has a much more checkered history, but there's never a good time for Carp to go down. At least it's at the very beginning of the season and not in the stretch drive, but it goes without saying that if the ace is decommissioned for any substantial length of time (and no, he's not on the DL... the consensus seems to be that it's very minor) then the Cards are going to lose a lot of ground in terms of divisional advantage. Carp is the anchor of the rotation and they need him back as quickly as possible. The medical staff has taken every opportunity to reassure the fans that it won't be serious, but they, like the A's, are rarely known for being upfront about the health of players. Time will tell, and cross your fingers.

Speaking of the A's, they also fell victim to some bad luck last night. Joe Blanton had a rocky outing against the Mariners, a team that he usually dominates, and Richie Sexson hit his second homer in two days - if he's fixed the many holes in his swing and become more of a contact hitter, he's going to be incredibly dangerous. The man has the size to send it a long way and if he's shed his propensity to strike out, he could be one of the best hitters in the AL. But it's still much too early to be making such calls -- we'll have to see.

The A's did manage to scrap back and tie the game at four apiece in the top of the seventh, but usually lights-out relievers Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer combined to give up four more to the Mariners in the bottom half of the frame for an eventual 8-4 final. There's nothing you can do about it when your go-to bullpen guys don't have it -- more bad luck that should be corrected in the karmic wave after the fashion of the Baseball Gods. Still, though, these Mariners have a lot more punch, at least against the A's, then they did last year. There's no way that it could be expected that the A's would go 16-1 against them like they did in 2006, but the playing field, literally, is a lot more level between them than it was. But yet again -- isn't it maddening that you want to extrapolate, theorize, make up stuff, and know that it's really too early to have any sense at all of which way things are going to turn out? Hopefully the ball starts breaking in the Cards' and A's favor very soon. That would be good for my mental health.

Thus far, the only win in six games played by my teams has been scored by the Rockies, who managed to do so in eleven innings last night despite Byung-Hyun Kim's concentrated efforts to blow it earlier. Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins both got off the schneid, as Holliday had two hits including an RBI and one in the decisive bottom of the eleventh. Atkins made good contact and finally was rewarded for it with a ringing double in the eighth, but was thrown out at the plate on a hit by Hawpe, which preserved the 2-2 tie and eventually sent the game to extras. As for Hawpe, he continues to look very strong at the plate, consistently making the pitcher work to six or seven pitches and coming up with timely hits. Unfortunately, he grounded into a double play in the eleventh that very nearly killed the rally then, but Troy Tulowitzki doubled to tie the game and Chris Iannetta hit a hard shot that D-backs third baseman Alberto Callaspo couldn't handle, bringing home Tulo with the winning run. It's great to see the kids come through - I'm getting honestly excited about the Rockies' chances this year. There isn't a power in the NL West, hasn't been for a while, and mainly consists of people getting lucky at the right time. With the roaring thunder of that Colorado lineup, all they need is some decent starting pitching and quality bullpen work. They also require a new manager. Coincidence that the Rox won on the night that Hurdle was suspended? ;) I think not. Then again, it was a really bone-headed move to put Kim in, as he's said he doesn't like bullpen work and I honestly don't put it past him to sabotage the team in that role so they trade him to some place where he can start. Not professional, but he's never really struck me as an overtly professional and courteous guy.

They also need a different eighth-inning guy. I nearly had a heart attack when they put in LaTroy Hawkins for a second consecutive night after blowing it on Opening Day, but he managed to induce a double play and escape with a scoreless inning. The seventh inning appears locked down by talented young fireballer Manny Corpas, but there is a big hole in the eighth before they can get it to Brian Fuentes in the ninth. Plugging Jose Mesa into this spot last year had bad results, and they'll lose just as many games this year if they can't, for the love of Christ, just get a reliable set-up man - one of the more underrated positions in baseball, if you ask me. I suggest they use Ramon Ramirez instead, as he can actually pitch. In my preseason preview of the Rockies, I noted that Hawkins has maintained a consistent level of suck for a number of previous employers, and that there's no reason to think that that'll change in Coors.

I'm still happy that baseball's back, but early-season wins would, as always, make it go down sweeter. Braden Looper is pitching tonight for the Cards against the Mets.... eeeerp, a season-opening sweep at the hands of the team they beat to get to the World Series would suck, but there may be no choices - they'd just have to go into Houston and take care of the Astros, another usual pest. Things look better for the A's, as they're throwing young Rich Harden against Miguel Batista. The only problem will be getting Harden through the game with no injuries. The A's showed some resiliency by tying things in the seventh yesterday, so it's possible that they can escape Seattle with a win before heading to SoCal to tackle their chief rivals, the Angels.

The Rockies throw Rodrigo Lopez against new Diamondback (and former Brewer) Doug Davis in a match-up of mediocre-to-bad pitchers in the finale of the season-opening set at Coors. More later (possibly tomorrow) on that, and a fun little feature that I'll probably start soon. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Sister is a Celebrity

This year for my dad's birthday, I pulled off a major heist and managed to score him Rockies' Opening Day tickets a week before the game, five rows back in shallow left field. After debating with myself if I should go back to school a week late in order to go, I had to decide that as long as my parents are shelling out so much for my education at a prestigious private college, academia had to take precedence over athletics, as hard as that was. So my sister and dad went instead and had a great time. My sister even got featured in the Denver Post with her sign and a shit-eating grin. Check it out (it's apparently before the sign got autographed by Jason Hirsh and Jamey Carroll). I also heard that it was briefly glimpsed on TV. All this mini-attention will swell my sister's vanity, which, bless her heart, is considerable. (Click on it, it'll get bigger. The, um, picture, that is, not her ego).

More to come tonight, after everyone's actually, you know, played.

EDIT: Squeaky (her Purple Row username) also made it to ESPN under the "Photo of the Day." No shizzle. Check it out.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Just a Note

Still hate the Yanks, but this is a sad and sweet picture and I thought it deserved to be posted.

That's Melanie Lidle, wife of the late Cory, kissing her son Christopher before she threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Yanks' home opener. The team will be wearing black armbands to honor Lidle throughout the season. Dah... that's still awfully sad, I'm tearing up.

Welcome Back to the Grind

Remember that nice, long, sweet, sentimental post I wrote a couple scrolls down, exhorting the beauty of baseball and the way you care no matter what? Yeah, you remember it? Okay, well, take a pen and write on your computer screen, "AND THEN THEY ALL SUCK ON OPENING DAY AND LOSE AND ARE SCREWED FOR THE SEASON AND YOU ARE A FRICKING IDIOT FOR CARING."

Just kidding, of course. But it's been a rough intro to '07, as the Cards lost last night, the Rockies lost earlier today, and now the A's are down 4-0 in the top of the seventh after Bobby Crosby's second error of the game opened the way for a Richie Sexson bomb. Absolutely bug-crap can be prognosticated from the outcome for the first game, but it's always nice to start on a high note. The Cardinals had their chances, but Carp couldn't locate his stuff and they failed to produce in run-scoring situations, along with the fact that it seemed a number of balls bounced through for the Mets. Carpenter didn't give up an extra-base hit aside from the big early blow, Delgado's two-run double, but he was struggling with the zone all night and his curveball wasn't working for him - a depressing way to come out in their first showing as the defending champs, especially after all the hoopla at Busch earlier. Hopefully the ring ceremony on Tuesday night will light a fire under some collective rear ends and they'll win. They'd better, because Looper is up next and his former team hits him like a pinata. Then it's off to the oh-so-cozy confines of the Juice Box in Houston - none of my teams are opening on an easy schedule. Oh, April.

The A's head to Anaheim after their three-game stint in Seattle, and don't get home until April 9th to open against the White Sox - no easy going here. Danny Haren pitched very well until the sixth inning, when the wheels came off, Bobby Crosby mishandled a force-out for his second error of the game, and the Mariners ended up totaling four runs, earning Crosby the deep and easily ignited ire of A's Nation. With a flamethrowing Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle, it's looking grim for the A's, who usually start anemically for some perplexing reason. Trust me, it's hard to be an A's fan in April and May. In fact, I'm terrified of May, in which the A's went 7-20 in 2005 and did scarcely better in 2006 at 12-17. In other words, A's fans, fasten your crash helmets. I don't know why this team looks like it can barely hit, pitch, or field for two months before taking fire in the summertime, but that's always the case. Hang on.

The Rockies, in a game which my sister and father attended and had a grand old time, played with fire and resiliency, and generally looked good until the eighth inning, when LaTroy Hawkins, Jose Mesa v. 2.0, came in and promptly blew it, giving up 3 runs for an 8-6 Snakey Snake lead. Brad Hawpe came out of the gate on fire, finishing with a 3-for-5 day and two RBI, which came on a clutch bases-loaded, two-out single in the bottom of the first. Todd Helton also looked more like himself than the injured, ill 2006 version. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday, however... a pair of MVP candidates last year, they will undoubtedly be so again this year, but they made a miserable first impression by going 0-for-5 apiece with suspect defense. Holliday mishandled a ball in left and Atkins airmailed a throw past first into the outfield, also bobbling a potential double-play ball. They live together in Spring Training, but if they also live together in the regular season, time to separate those two and get their swings back.

Aaron Cook started the game and kept putting his sinker up too high, so it would break at the belt instead of the knees. He kept loading the bases and managed to escape, but all his theatrics left him tagged with five runs through five. I'll attribute it to nerves and a league-wide malaise, as only Tom Glavine, Ben Sheets, and Aaron Harang have had stellar debuts thus far. Even the cyborg Santana's yielded three runs to the light-hitting Orioles through four. Even the Royals, in one of the shockers of the season, captured a Gil Meche vs. Curt Schilling contest 7-1, and it was Schilling who took the loss, not Meche. In other words, it IS completely impossible to predict anything from Opening Day. Everyone just wishes their team would start better.

As Athletics Nation likes to say: "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!"

Well, boys, carry on. 1 down, 161 to go. You've got a lot of grinding to do, so get with the program.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Liveblog: 4/1 Mets vs. Cards

It's 8:08 and I need the game to start. C'mon.

Top 1st - Carpenter vs. Reyes, Lo Duca, Beltran

Reyes - First pitch of '07 is a ball that just missed the bottom edge of the zone.
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch - foul
Fourth pitch - ball
Fifth pitch - groundout to Albert.

1 out, 0 on.

Lo Duca - First pitch strike.
Second pitch- ball
Third pitch - called strike
Fourth pitch - foul
Fifth pitch - foul
Sixth pitch - groundout, Kennedy to Albert.

2 out, o on.

Beltran - First pitch strike.
Second pitch - called strike. Hmm... Wainwright redux?
Third pitch - Ball
Fourth pitch - Groundout, Kennedy to Albert.

3 out.

GREAT first for Carp! Nobody got the ball in the air -- looks like the cutter and sinker are working. Let's go OFFENSE!

Bottom 1st - Glavine vs. Eckstein, Wilson, Pujols

Eckstein - First pitch to a Card this season is also a ball.
Second pitch - called strike.
Third pitch - fouled off.
Fourth pitch - A HIT!!! First base hit for the Cards this year is a single by Eckstein to center field.

1 on, o out.

Wilson - first pitch fouled off.
Second pitch - ball, just low.
Third pitch - double play, 5-4-3. I told you I don't like Wilson. At this rate, there will never be anyone on for Albert.

0 on, 2 out.

Pujols - first pitch ball
Second pitch - ball, they're careful with him. Justifiably.
Third pitch - ball. Give him something to hit!
Fourth pitch - high strike.
Fifth pitch - swinging strike on the corner.
Sixth pitch - Pujols flies out middling-deep to Beltran. Ah well, there's time.

Good first for both pitchers. We move to the second with no score.

Top 2nd - Carpenter vs. Delgado, Wright, Alou

Delgado - first pitch, fouled back.
Second pitch - ball on the inside corner.
Third pitch - flyout to RF, Wilson handles it.

0 on, 1 out.

Wright - first pitch, called strike
Second pitch - ball, low
Third pitch - groundout, Eckstein to Pujols.

o on, 2 out.

Alou - first pitch, first hit for the Mets. Single to Jimmy Edmonds in CF.

1 on, 2 out.

Green - first pitch, called strike.
Second pitch - called strike.
Third pitch - ball in the dirt.
Fourth pitch - another hit, but it's a dinky flair that shorty Eckstein should have caught if he was an inch taller. C'mon, Carp, let's not give into the unfortunate two-out runners-on situation we developed in Spring Training. First and third.

2 on, 2 out.

Valentin - first pitch, ball inside.
Second pitch, called strike.
Third pitch - ball. C'mon, blue, that was a strike. Locate, Carp.
Fourth pitch - sharp groundout to Pu, the Gold Glover. Inning over, Carp escapes with only mild difficulty.

3 out.

Bottom 2nd - Glavine vs. Rolen, Molina, Edmonds

Rolen - first pitch, ball high and tight.
Second pitch - ball low.
Third pitch - groundout, Reyes to Delgado.

o on, 1 out. C'mon, offense!

Molina - first pitch, ball, high
Second pitch - ball, high
Third pitch - flyout to Beltran. I dislike this pattern.

0 on, 2 out.

Edmonds - first pitch, called strike, nothing wrong with that one
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch - ball, just missed
Fourth pitch - called strike. Weak, Jimmy. We don't strike out looking.

3 outs. Quick inning for Glavine.

Top 3rd - Carpenter vs. Glavine, Reyes, Lo Duca

Glavine - first pitch, called strike.
Second pitch - hit? What the hell, Carpenter? No, no. Bad boy. Glavine singles. The Mets usually hit Carp well, for some reason, but the pitcher? No.

1 on, 0 out.

Reyes - first pitch, called strike. The Mets are doing a lot of looking tonight.
Second pitch - fouled away.
Third pitch - swinging strike on nasty changeup. First K of '07 for Carpenter as Reyes goes down on three.

1 on, 1 out.

Lo Duca - first pitch, ball, inside
Second pitch - ball, low
Third pitch - ball. It was not either. Get it right, blue.
Fourth pitch - called strike, inside corner.
Fifth pitch - forceout at second, Rolen to Kennedy. Glavine nabbed, Lo Duca aboard at first.

1 on, 2 out.

Beltran - first pitch, called strike. As I said. Lookers.
Second pitch - fouled away.
Third pitch - hit by pitch. What is with Carp's control? Get with the program.

2 on, 2 out (again).

Delgado - ulp. First pitch, called strike. Again.
Second pitch - Goddammit. Not good. Two-run double, both men aboard score. 2-o Mets. Eeergh. Don't like that. Taguchi, admittedly, made a big botch of the play in the outfield. I'll put some of the blame on him, but Carp's gotta make his pitches.

1 on, 2 out, 2-o Mets.

Wright - first pitch, ball.
Second pitch - out, Pujols to Carpenter. Damage done. OFFENSE! HELLO THERE!

3 out. 2-0 Mets.

Bottom 3rd - Glavine vs. Taguchi, Kennedy, Carpenter (admittedly, not an inspiring threesome, but we have to start somewhere)

Taguchi - first pitch, called strike.
Second pitch - ball, low
Third pitch - groundout, Glavine to Delgado.

1 out, 0 on. Come ON.

Kennedy - first pitch, ball, low
Second pitch - called strike down the middle
Third pitch - ball
Fourth pitch - HOLY HELL BABY! Welcome to St. Lou! Triple for Adam the Second!!

1 out, 1 on.

Carpenter - first pitch, ball, high
Second pitch, ball, off the outside corner
Third pitch, called strike
Fourth pitch - Dagnabbit, we have to get this run in. Bad bunt turns into fielder's choice, Kennedy nailed at home, Carp to first.

2 out, 1 on.

Eckstein - first pitch, called strike.
Second pitch - ball, high and outside
Third pitch - ball, in practically the same place.
Fourth pitch - Grr. The offense is a bit tepid thus far, even though the squeeze almost worked.... Eckstein flies out middling-deep to Alou.

Top 4th - Carpenter vs. Alou, Green, Valentin

Alou - first pitch, out. I like that. Flyout to Edmonds. Get it out of the air and we'll be good, Carp.

1 out, 0 on.

Green - first pitch, ball. This ump is squeezing Carp like a lemon, and I'm not the only one who noticed.
Second pitch - called strike, high in the zone.
Third pitch - ball, misses slightly high
Fourth pitch - Another bloody-goddamn-hit, single to LF. Settle down, Christopher John Carpenter. He's been dealing with traffic in every inning since the first.

1 out, 1 on.

Valentin - first pitch, hit. First and third again. Not liking what I'm seeing thus far.

1 out, 2 on.

Glavine - first pitch, ball.
Second pitch - ball. It was not! Bloody umpire!
Third pitch - sac bunt, runner advances to second.

2 out, 2 on. Again. Bad things happened last time this was the case.

Reyes - first pitch, ball, nowhere near the zone.
Second pitch - ball, again not touching the zone. CHRISTOPHER!
Third pitch - ball. I mean it Carp, this is not amusing.
Fourth pitch - called strike.
Fifth pitch - ball, walked, bases loaded, Lo Duca up. Ohhhhh shit.

3 on, 2 out. Let's focus, Carp.

Lo Duca - first pitch, ball-that-was-not. Ump still squeezing the hell out of Carp.
Second pitch - ball, off the corner. Let's not be walking in runs!
Third pitch - called strike right down the middle. Why are the Mets so damned patient this year? Scary team.
Fourth pitch - lower, fouled back. 2-2. C'mon, let's get out of this.
Fifth pitch - fouled again. Count remains leveled.
Sixth pitch - ball. Count full. Jesus H. Christ, it's too early in the season for this kind of drama.
Seventh pitch - Aw hell. I really, really don't like this. Don't make me give up on the game in the fourth. Two run single, 4-0 Mets.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Carp's ERA through 3.2 is a most un-Carp-like 9.82. I do not like the Mets. He's also thrown 74 pitches through 4.

Beltran... oh boy.
First pitch- called strike.
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - padding the lead. 5-0. I suspect that Carp's "it's like every other start" attitude may be a bit of the problem. You've got to come out with a bit more fire and passion... and now it's Delgado again. Bloody hell. Carp's ERA now 12.27. That's got to come down, man.

Delgado - first pitch, fouled
Second pitch - chased out of the zone, 0-2.
Third pitch - an out. Thank God. Carpenter, no gold star for you. I do not want to see this again. I question if LaRussa will give him one more inning against the bottom of the order, but this is a good offense that normally hits Carp well and it's making Opening Night go sour.

Bottom 4th - Glavine vs. Wilson, Pujols, Rolen

Sorry, am behind.

Wilson - K's on 6 pitches.

1 out, 0 on.

Pujols - first pitch, called strike
Second pitch- ball
Third pitch - ball
Fourth pitch - called strike
Fifth pitch - groundout. If I don't see something, I may be abandoning this game shortly.

2 out, 0 on.

Rolen - first pitch, ball
Second pitch, flyout. Grrrrr.

3 out. Someone is pitching like a former Cy Young winner here. Someone else is not.

Top 5th - Carpenter vs. Wright, Alou, Green

Wright - first pitch, called strike
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - ball. I'm going to kill this ump.
Fourth pitch - ball. Bloody hell, Carp has nothing. Get him out of there.
Fifth pitch - a hit. I told ya.... Tony, get off your keister and remove Carp from the ballgame. He is not giving us the best chance to win.

0 out, 1 on.

Alou - pickoff attempt at first.
First pitch - fouled away.
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch - ball.
Fourth pitch - swinging strike. Second K for Carp. Can they not score this inning? Please? If Carp manages to go 7 (possible, but unlikely, since his pitch count is at 83) I may relent a bit, but not much. This is a stinker, as opening games go. He doesn't have his curveball (a killer out pitch for him) or his command. Not good.

1 out, 1 on.

Green - first pitch, grounds into a forceout. Wright out, Green on at first.

2 out, 1 on.

Valentin - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch- swinging strike
Fourth pitch - fouled
Fifth pitch - got him to chase out of the zone, strikeout, inning over. I suppose by the metrics of Carp's outing to date, this is a successful inning. Practically Cy Young-like... only one baserunner.

3 out. 5-0 Mets.

Bottom 5th - Glavine vs. Molina, Edmonds, Taguchi

C'mon, somebody put a jolt into this crowd. They were so excited and... now look what you've done. Glavine only at 54 pitches through 5, he could go a complete game at this rate.

Molina - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch - No shit? A hit? Yadi dumps a single into CF.

o out, 1 on.

Edmonds - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - fouled
Third pitch - fouled again.
Fourth pitch - ball on the inside corner
Fifth pitch - fouled. Jimmy trying to stay alive and work up the pitch count.
Sixth pitch - grounds into double play. So much for that. Does Edmonds need a little more time to sit?

2 out, 0 on. This is a baaaad Opening Night game. I'm going to need a win by both the A's and the Rockies tomorrow to improve my mood.

Taguchi the Hitless Wonder - first pitch, ball
Second pitch, foul
Third pitch, groundout. I told ya.

3 out. 5-0 Mets. Please do not get shut out on Opening Night at home against the team you beat in the NLCS to reach (and win) the World Series. That would just be humiliating.

Do I have to watch this for another inning.......? Heeba.

Top 6th - Carpenter vs. Glavine, Reyes, Lo Duca

Can we, for the love of Albert, get a 1-2-3 inning for the first time since the opening frame? Please. Thank you.

Glavine - first pitch, ball
Second pitch, ball
Third pitch, ball, good lord
Fourth pitch - called strike
Fifth pitch - called strike, good
Sixth pitch - groundout, Carp to Pu. If you're coming back into form, it's a little late for that, Carp, but better late than never. You get to face the Astros at the JuiceBox next, which won't do any wonders for your ERA. Better keep it together before you get to hit the Pirates and Cubs twice apiece. AND the Cubs have an improved offense now. Let's not disintegrate to badness. I know you are better than this.

1 out, 0 on.

Reyes, first pitch, swinging strike
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - reached on error by Taguchi. Good christ I'm starting to hate Taguchi.

1 out, 1 on.

Lo Duca - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - foul
Third pitch - An out? Good heavens, what's that? Actually, it's a double play. Good heavens. Reyes doubled off first.

3 out. 5-0 Mets. Still.

Bottom 6th - Glavine vs. Kennedy, Carpenter OR Pinch-Hitter, Eckstein

Kennedy - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - called strike
Third pitch - fouled away
Fourth pitch - ball
Fifth pitch - aaaaan out. Glavine is old! He's not supposed to be this good any more! Either that or the Cards missed the memo that they were supposed to come out and show the Mets why they were champs! Instead, they're showing why they had the lowest win total for a world champion in quite a very long time...

1 out, 0 on.

Skip Schumaker hitting for Carpenter. First pitch - ball
Second pitch- ball
Third pitch - called strike
Fourth pitch - swinging strike
Fifth pitch - a hit! Schumaker aboard. I know better than to think this is going to turn into anything... cough cough.

1 out, 1 on.

Eckstein, please play like the player everyone thinks you are.
First pitch - ball.
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - called strike, inside corner
Fourth pitch - WOOOOOOOOOTT!!!! DID I JUST SEE THAT? Eckstein doubles and Schumaker scores!!!

1 out, 1 on, 5-1 Mets. I promise I will not say anything bad about Eck for the rest of the game.

Wilson - first pitch swinging, base hit, but Eck thrown out at home. Daaaaamit. Wilson to second.

2 out, 1 on. Pu is up. DO SOMETHING, ALBERT!

Pujols - first pitch, ball.
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - ball. They don't want to give him anything to hit.
Fourth pitch - called strike. Let's do this, MVP.
Fifth pitch - ball four, Albert walks. They were pitching him very, very carefully there. Now it's up to Rolen. If he gets a run in, I won't leave the game and go get something to eat, which was my plan.

2 out, 2 on.

Rolen - first pitch, fouled away. Swinging early.
Second pitch - fouled again.
Third pitch - hit by pitch, possibly in retaliation (aka the unspoken code of baseball) but a bad time to do so. Bases loaded, and... Yadier Molina, who killed the Mets' hopes last season with his ninth-inning, Game 7 HR, is up. It may be karma. COME ON!!!

3 on, 2 out.

Molina - first pitch, called strike.
Second pitch - ball, low
Third pitch - goddammit. Guess the moving-Molina-up experiment didn't work. The Cards come away with only one run as Yadier gives us a dopy soft pop-up for our trouble.

3 outs. New pitcher coming in for the Cards. 5-1 Mets.

Top 7th - Tyler Johnson vs. Beltran, Delgado, Wright

Nothing like trial-by-fire for the second-year lefty, eh? Carp departs having pitched six innings, five runs, one walk, three strikeouts, ERA 7.50. Fuuuuucking a.

Beltran - first pitch, foul
Second pitch - high heater popped out to Kennedy.

1 out, 0 on.

Delgado - first pitch, called strike. TJ looking good so far, but I said that about Carp and look how that turned out.
Second pitch - swinging strike.
Third pitch - ball, inside corner
Fourth pitch - Nasty! Outside corner, swinging strike, second out.

2 out, 0 on.

Wright - first pitch, high ball
Second pitch - flyout to Wilson.

3 out. 5-1 Mets.

Sharp, quick, crisp, clean inning from Ty Johnson. I like that. Sadly, the last 1-2-3 inning for the Cards since the first.

Bottom 7th - Pedro Feliciano vs. Edmonds, Taguchi, Kennedy

Glavine departs with six solid innings - six hits, one run, one walk, two strikeouts, 1.50 ERA.

Edmonds - first pitch, foul
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - ball
Fourth pitch - swinging strike
Fifth pitch - fouled again
Sixth pitch - ball. At least he's taking good ABs.
Seventh pitch - infield base hit that he beats out. Jimmy aboard. C'mon, Cards, it's not too late!

Wait, it's Taguchi. Yikes.

0 out, 1 on.

Taguchi - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - GOOD GOD TONY! Get him OUT of there! Flyout to Alou. I suppose the only thing I can say is that it wasn't a DP. Edmonds fussing with his shoulder... not a good sign.

1 out, 1 on.

C'mon, Kennedy. Prove why I like people named Adam so much.

Kennedy - first pitch, fouled
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - Holy hell, comedy. A double play. I should learn to keep my mouth shut.

3 out. 5-1 Mets.

Top 8th - Randy Flores (eek) vs. Alou, Green, Valentin

Alou - first pitch, out. Popout to Eckstein.

1 out, 0 on.

Green - first pitch, called strike
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - flyout to Edmonds.

2 out, 0 on. Sad state of affairs when bullpen brats Johnson and Flores outpitch Carpenter. At least our bullpen looks good... At least we haven't seen Izzy yet. I remain dubious of his recovery.

Valentin - first pitch, ball
Second pitch - called strike.
Third pitch - fouled away.
Fourth pitch - again, flyout to Jimmy. Inning over.

3 out. 5-1 Mets.

Bottom 8th - Feliciano vs. Miles, Eckstein, Wilson

Miles PHing for the pitcher
First pitch - ball
Second pitch - ball
Third pitch - ball
Fourth pitch - called strike. Is it too late to hope for a rally...?
Fifth pitch - ball. Leadoff walk.

o out, 1 on. Mets coaching staff pays a little social call to Feliciano. They decide he is no longer the man for the job and insert a schmo named Joe Smith instead. Joe Smith's parents are unimaginative. Hopefully he is also a bad pitcher.

Eckstein - first pitch, called strike
Second pitch - fouled away
Injury delay? What? Who's hurt? Not having TV sucks.
Okay. Third pitch - sharply fouled, Miles going.
Fourth pitch - a single. 3-4 performance from Eck. I will not say anything bad about him for the next four innings of tomorrow's game.

Tony, you HAVE to pinch-hit Duncan here. No Wilson. Plllllleeeeeease.

No such luck. FUCK.

2 on, 0 out.

Wilson - first pitch, called strike.... wheee....
Second pitch - foul
Third pitch - swinging strikes. HE's TERRIBLE!!! AAAAAH!!!

2 on, 1 out. Big Big Albert at the plate.... COME ON.... one last shot. Now or never.

Pujols - first pitch, ball. Going to pitch him carefully again...
Second pitch - ball, again. Don't chase crap, Albert, be picky. Make them lay it in there... and belt it.
Third pitch - ball. Boooo. Cowards.
Fourth pitch - called strike. Wait for it, Pu... come on.
Fifth pitch - ball. Knew that was coming. Bases loaded again, this time for Rolen.... COME ON!!!!

3 on, 1 out.

Scotty-Ro could tie this game right here. What are the odds he will? I won't dare a guess. The Mets' bullpen is looking as bad as the Cards' look good. But the Cards need to capitalize on their shakiness if they plan to get anywhere. As a really scary scenario, Wells and Looper are the next two guys to face the Mutts.

Pitching change - Aaron Heilman in. Don't be impatient, Rolen. Wait for your pitch. Make him groove it. And blast one. Coincidentally, the same scenario as with Albert.

Rolen- first pitch, ball
Second pitch - holy damning hell. Bloody. Bloody. Hell. Rolen hits it really hard but it turns into a DP. Ladies and gents, the Cards are cooked for tonight.

3 out. 5-1 Mets.

Top 9th - Brad Thompson vs. Newhan, Reyes, Lo Duca

Newhan - singles on fourth pitch.

0 out, 1 on

Reyes - first pitch, singles. Okay, Thompson is bad. ;) Get him out. But seriously... whatever.... just whatever by this point.

0 out, 2 on.

WHOA HO HO! Reyes picked off/caught stealing. Nice job, Molina.

1 out, 1 on.

Lo Duca - first pitch, fouled
Second pitch - whoo the mets scored. thompson bad. cards are losing, all not good. RBI single. 6-1. I think I've seen enough for tonight and I didn't eat dinner. I'll finish the liveblog with the bottom of the ninth when I get back, not that that'll be anything particularly special.

Beltran - grounds into forceout.

Delgado - grounds into forceout.

Bottom 9th - Wagner vs. Molina, Spiezio, Taguchi

Molina - singles

0 out, 1 on.

Spiezio - pops out

1 out, 1 on.

Taguchi - singles

1 out, 2 on.

Bennett - pops out

2 out, 2 on.

Miles - flies out.

Game over. Cards lose. 6-1 your final. W: Glavine (1-0, 1.50). L: Carpenter (0-1, 7.50)