Ben Schwartz On The Newly Circumspect Cubs

Posted in Baseball at 11:07 pm by

Writes Ben,

CSTB will have to go looking elsewhere for baseball comedy this season, as the Cubs are promising to keep their mouths shut. However, Dusty is confident that Wood will be back sooner than later, although Dusty’s estimation of when a pitcher is ready to go has always been questionable.

From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley.

Kerry Wood re-enters the spotlight when he starts today against the Colorado Rockies. It will be his first Cactus League start since March 9, when he took himself out after two innings with what an MRI showed was bursitis and rotator-cuff inflammation in his right shoulder.

Wood has chosen not to talk to the media in recent weeks, telling people privately that he’s not mad at anybody in particular but that he feels more relaxed. He also has been annoyed by how some comments he considered harmless came back to bite him, and he is enjoying a breather from answering questions about his physical well-being.

Manager Dusty Baker said Wood isn’t the only Cub taking a more low-key approach to the season. Baker already has noted that he is going to be less forthcoming with his opinions.

”After last year’s fiasco, everybody is more low-key,” Baker said. ”It’s not only Kerry, it’s probably everybody. We all learned some valuable lessons last year.

”I get calls from guys and organizations about what they hear and read [about Wood] — that his arm is about to fall off. That’s about as far from the truth as anything.”

Wood gave up 3 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings on Wednesday against the Rockies. And I’m not sure about the lack of laffs at Wrigley in ’05 — not if Roger Cedeno makes the team.

Saintly Cyclist Accused (Again) Of Juicy Abuse

Posted in cycling at 10:53 pm by

Who are you gonna believe, a 6 time Tour De France winner / yellow-bracelet peddler or a disgruntled, ex-gofer / Chris Cacavas lookalike?

I’ve been looking for a jpeg of Greg LeMond smiling so hard his face is gonna bust, but I just can’t find it.

Jobless Koch Unloads On Jays

Posted in Baseball at 12:00 pm by

From the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliot.

We asked Koch, released five days ago by the Blue Jays, if he was going to play with another team.

“Nope,” the relief pitcher said firmly.

“I’m going to make the Toronto Blue Jays pay every cent of my salary.”

The Jays are on the hook for Koch’s $950,000 US salary. If a team had an injury and needed an arm, it could add Koch at the prorated major-league minimum of $320,000.

“To be released after four outings? What’s four outings in the spring? Nothing,” Koch said. “They can pay my gas money for my car, they can pay to fill up my 240-gallon tank for my 30-foot Pursuit, they can gas up my jet boat and our three jet skis.”

That’s a lot of gas.

“Nothing against the city of Toronto or Jays fans,” Koch said. “I love the city and the fans treated me well.”

Whether this is bullet-proof bullpen bravado that closers need, or whether Koch will change his opinion a month down the road remains to be seen. But that’s what Koch was saying yesterday.

“I read in the paper they say I didn’t work hard,” Koch said. “Talk to any pitching coach or strength coach I’ve had. I lift, run a little, do agility drills and play long toss.

“I can’t run and haven’t run as much as everyone else in four years. Why? Because my back hurts. Say I threw a horse-bleep pitch, don’t attack my work ethic.”

Bass Wolf, RIP

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 11:53 am by

Hideaki Sekiguchi, aka Billy, Bass Wolf of the amazing trio Guitar Wolf, passed away yesterday in Tokyo. A funeral will be held Tuesday morning at the following address :

Rinkai Saijo
1-3-1 Tokai
Ohta-ku, Tokyo 143-0001
phone: +81-(0)3-5755-2833

The Larry Bowa Morning Zoo

Posted in Sports Radio at 10:32 am by

Greaseman, Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony, you can all fuck off. Nobody knows how to push the broadcasting envelope quite like former Phillies firebrand Larry Bowa. This morning on XM’s Baseball Channel, host Mike Patrick (joined by Buck Martinez) mentioned to Bowa that the local Gallahgers (!) had a menu featuing a Pedro Martini and a Carlos Beltran Burger.

“Ever have a drink or sandwich named after you, Larry?”

“Yeah…..there was the Larry Bowa Hot Dog….a lot of meat for your buck.”

Kaz Hitting Eighth?

Posted in Baseball at 12:50 am by

With Mets 2B Kaz Matsui looking overmatched at the plate this spring (.208 BA thus far, no extra base hits in 53 at bats), the New York Times’ Pat Borzi raises the possibility of the speedy import batting 8th.

Willie Randolph has batted José Reyes and Matsui first and second in his lineup throughout spring training, and a healthy Reyes has been productive, batting .328 with eight steals in eight attempts and 12 runs scored. But Randolph says the starting lineup “is not something etched in stone.”

It is a phrase he uses repeatedly when the conversation turns to the possibility of the second-year third baseman David Wright batting eighth – an eyebrow-raising spot in the lineup for a promising young power hitter who had 14 homers, 40 runs batted in and a .293 average in 69 games last year. In the future, Carlos Beltran and Wright could anchor the Mets’ lineup as the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, so the question is whether batting eighth is the proper apprenticeship for someone as valuable as Wright.

In the N.L., the No. 8 hitter, batting in front of the pitcher, can often go a long time without getting a good pitch to hit. “To me, it boils down to who’s the best guy for that spot,” Randolph said. “Everybody can have their opinion, but it’s what’s best for the ball club.

“David’s basically a rookie,” Randolph added. “We’ve all got to earn our chops.”

But what about Matsui? Is it possible that he could be dropped to the bottom of the order if he does not start hitting? Matsui has proved adept at situational hitting in recent games, collecting all five of his spring-training R.B.I. since his return. But he still walks less and strikes out more than a leadoff or No. 2 hitter should; he has only two walks in spring training and 13 strikeouts, the second most on the team and one more than Andres Galarraga had before he retired.

Randolph, who is still learning his players’ strengths and weaknesses, said Thursday that Wright, Matsui, right fielder Mike Cameron and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz were all possible candidates for the eighth spot in the order. But Randolph is likely to leave Matsui where he is for now. Matsui’s speed makes him tough to double up; he hit into only three double plays last year, the third-best ratio in the N.L. (one every 153.3 at-bats). And when he bats left-handed, he provides a shield for Reyes when he takes a lead off first base and prepares to steal.


Viagra Pitchman Decries “Steroid Era”, Boss Calls For Asterix-Mania

Posted in Baseball at 11:44 pm by

Orioles 1B Rafael Palmiero has told the AP that in the wake of Jose Canseco’s best-seller,“this whole era over the last 10, 15 or 20 years has been tainted. Regardless of whether you did or you didn’t do anything, this whole era will have that label.” So maybe he should’ve kept a closer eye on Brady Anderson?

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was at his grandstanding best yesterday in USA Today, telling Hal Bodley that he’d favor an asterix being attatched to those records broken with the aid of steroids. Considering that two of George’s most highly paid employees, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, are admitted ‘roid users, it’s a good thing the Yankees haven’t set any records (or won any championships) recently that would require a disclaimer.

Wednesday’s Transcation Highlights :

Milwaukee released outfielder/pitcher Brooks Kieschnick. I know a team in New York that needs bullpen help and utility outfielders who can catch the ball. But enough about Queens College’s softball squad, they never listen to any of my suggestions.

Boston traded the enigmatic (ie. euphamism for relentlessly shitty) Byung-Hyun Kim to the Rockies for left-hander Chris Naverson and catcher Charles Johnson. Johnson was released soon afterwards, perhaps clearing the way for his signing with the Mets as a free-agent.

(Marichal, showing the Dodgers’ John Roseboro a pose that might work well in statue-form).

San Francisco announced they’ll retire Gaylord Perry’s number 36, along with errecting a statue in honor of Juan Marichal. The plaza / playground tribute to Will Shatter will just have to wait.

Los Angeles have sent catcher David Ross to Pittsburgh in exchange for approximately $750,000.00 (USD). Clearly, the acquisition of Jason Phillips was enough to provoke an entire overhaul of the L.A. roster (if not a team meeting called by Milton Bradley). Why the Pirates were so keen to acquire Ross is a myster ; they’ve already got Benito Santiago and Humberto Cota behind the plate, along with a bunch of decent catcing prospects. Pittsburgh also sent OF Ben Grieve, a former AL Rookie Of The Year, to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Oakland SS Bobby Crosby (above, right) is questionable for Opening Day after being hit on the wrist during Wednesday’s exhibition against Milwaukee. If Crosby isn’t good to go on Monday, former Met Marco Scutaro will get the start.