Wednesday, May 31, 2006

oh, but we've just begun

Well, it is the end of May and I'm not ready to give up on this baseball blog yet. In fact, I'm just about to get started. The end of student life for me means more time to write and pay attention to various sporting things (this has been an interesting and exciting NBA playoffs... not that we endorse that sort of thing on here). As the baseball season is very long, I usually pay no attention to the first month and its fast starts because it almost always won't matter in the long run. And even though the second month is a better gage, it gives us just a fewmore answers.

Now of course, the third month, with the all-star break giving us time to pause for reflection, is when you should really start paying attention. But still, with what is going on now, as Memorial Day closes and we head into June, we have reason to pay attention to baseball. Here's a few of my notes (i.e. ramblings) why...

- the Detroit Tigers are still in first place, and their pitching staff is holding up well. Sure, it probably won't last, but then, the White Sox kept up their hot start last year and held on. With the Tigers and Chisox both doing well, they have sufficient motivation to keep it up for the rest of the year, much as the Indians and Sox did last year.

- at time of posting, the seperation in the AL east between Boston and New York? Zero games. Ya gotta love that. The best race to watch all season....

.... and the Blue Jays are a few back, despite their pitching problems.

- the NL west, which last season almost gave us the first non-strike division to have zero teams over .500, has EVERY team over .500, and the Rockies were leading it for a while. Now Arizona, similarly mocked at the start of the season, is in front.

- speaking of that, the entire NL is doing much better than expected this year. There's a host of playoff contenders, and they held their own in interleague play....

....and that group of contenders includes the Phils, trudging along and staying in the race.

- also, the Atlanta Braves might finally NOT win the division. That makes me smile, even if it's not the Phils who take them down.

- I can't believe I'm the first person on here to (recently) post this, but Roger Clemens officially came back to the Astros today. Even though the league is tougher, as I just said, he gives them a good shot of getting back to the series. I knew when I saw him pitch here against Mexico that he would never go out like that. Even though the Astors have struggled lately, he can give them a huge lift, and they have to be considered extremely dangerous to get another wild card.

- amazingly, as good as the NL west has been, the AL west is falling apart. The Rangers have hung in only because Oakland and Local Team with Regional Issues have both struggled. And Seattle still sucks and might even get rid of Ichiro. Of course, I'm thoroughly enjoying the Angels' demise - I can't have any respect for these fans. I just can't.

- oh, and no one cares about Barry Bonds. Not at all. Even the media have stopped hyping him up - I didn't even hear about 715* right away, I had to read about it.


See? There's reason to care about baseball again. I'll be continually updating this for however long it before I get a job that takes up every ounce of free time I have (and then I'll sneak on here at work and complain). Swing free, mis amigos.

Monday, May 29, 2006

THE END

As our scholarly advances have ceased for the duration of the summer season, so have our attempts at combining humor and baseball.

Perhaps as summer closes, autumn begins (baseball becomes interesting again what with approaching playoffs) we shall reconvene and Insurance Runs will continue.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sharks!

Poor Dontrelle Willis. That guy just can't catch a break. The guy won the effin World Series only a couple of years ago, now he's stuck with a 11-25 team full of losers and Miguel Cabrera. Dude's young, but he's got some nasty stuff. I know that he's 1-4 and hasn't looked very good, but I really do think that it's probably just the shittiness of the team that's gotten to him. I don't think I would have any will to play well if I knew that my bosses would just sell off all the good players once we got good. It's amazing that this has happened not just once, but twice now, and that the Marlins have somehow won two World Series in spite of, not because of, their front office. Apparently, the owners would rather have cardboard cutouts of players instead of actual ones, so long as the cutouts were happy with three hundred thou a year.

Baseball - and professional sports in general, I suppose - as business is a terrifying thing. I feel like the front office for the Marlins have watched The Producers one too many times. Somehow they've managed to figure out that if they have a team of youngsters and shitty players, they'll make more money for themselves. Both times they won the Series they've ended up selling off all their good players. This time it was more like a slow bleed, but it's getting to the point where Cabrera and Willis are the only decent ones left, and it's likely that they'll be gone this year or next. Good thing the Marlins don't have any fans.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A whole new meaning for changeup

I've always wondered how successful a switch-throwing pitcher could be in the big leagues. I tried doing some research and found that there has only been one guy, Greg Harris, who has done it since 1900. As an Expo, he pitched to four batters and had a shutout inning in 1995 against the Reds. For years he had wanted to try it out in the Majors, and after being told no for his whole career, good old Felipe Alou finally let him.

As a sidenote, the first guy to do it was Tony Mullane (shown at left), starting back in 1881. Dude didn't even wear a glove, he just toed the rubber with the ball in both hands and picked one to throw with.

Anyhow, what got my interest going was this article. While I don't think the kid will ever get to the big leagues, it's interesting to think how effective someone who could pitch well from both sides, and was allowed to do so, might be.

Did anyone else know that Bucky Dent is the bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds? I didn't.

Recently, Simmons wrote a great article about his obsession with fantasy baseball, and how his wife doesn't quite understand his fanaticism over his team. As I find myself six weeks into my Yahoo Fantasy League, the article was quite poignant to me. I no longer care about the fate of entire teams, just players. Oakland lost to Toronto 8-3? Who cares, Nick Swisher went 2-4 with two HR's, and he didn't strike out. I don't care that the Twins are 15-19, I care that Torii Hunter is only hitting .268. I won't even dane to glance at the Orioles box score until Brian Roberts comes off of the DL.

It's kind of pathetic, in a way. I've turned into even more of a box-score and stats person than I was before. It's fun, though, at the same time. I have been following baseball much more closely all season, and since I don't have any money invested in this league, if I lose it's still okay. All the same, I wish Joe Mauer was doing as well as everyone thought he was going to.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Our new hero

We here at Insurance Runs have expressed our distaste for Barry Bonds. We have spoken against him in the hopes that there are people elsewhere who share this unabashed apathy towards his horse-testosterone-driven swipe at almost-glory. (If these people exist, and we are certain they do, they obviously don't work at ESPN. Honestly, don't care. Don'tcaredon'tcaredon'tcare.)

My personal faith was reaffirmed tonight by this lovely gentlemen who goes by the name of Juan.



Pierre robbed Bonds on a hit to center during the fifth of the Giants' systematic dismantling of the woeful Cubbies. If the media could stop sucking Bonds off for three seconds, they would see that this is all a charade, that no one in the public really cares. Well, maybe people in the midwest, but they hardly count as people, now do they? (Browns fans...shudder.) We're more interested in seeing Pujols hitting like an inebriated gentleman from the American South who didn't get his supper, in Thome's resurgence as a power threat, in the Phitin' Phils winning their ninth in a row, in the Yanks getting routed and the Unit getting booed off the field in Yankee Stadium.

Scott Van Pelt: love ya, but lay off the Bonds. Not concerned with it. Besides, you're so good! You even make Nascar highlights bearable! Don't waste your flavor (flava?) with that fat-head.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Goin' Streakin'


I was kind of knocked out of my sports rhythm last week due to my recent move, but when I got hooked back into the Matrix, I was thrilled to see that my Phils has won 5 in a row. I was worried that it was only because I hadn't been watching, but they continued to produce, and I couldn't be happier. Tons of offense, some ego-boosting wins for the starting rotation, not to mention Chase Utley getting named NL Player of the Week. Dude is seeing the ball right now, and the team in general is finally clicking on all cylinders, as far as offense goes. That game where Utley and Ryan Howard both hit two homers? Killer. And now, they've won 8 in a row, heading into a huge series with the Division rival Mets. Everyone will be paying close attention to this one, and not just because Billy Wagner will be returning to Philly. After seeing the reception Bonds got on Sunday, though, even Wagner knows he's going "to catch hell" once he steps into that bullpen. But this series is even more important, as a sweep (however improbable) would launch the Phils to within one game of first place.

It seems that the Phils aren't the only ones streaking lately though. The San Diego Padres have won 9 in a row, going from 8-14 to 17-15 in the past 10 games. They won their 9th straight yesterday against future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs, who were also swept with the win. The Cubs have been on a streak of their own, but going the opposite way. They've lost 7 straight, including the afore-mentioned 4-game sweep from the Padres. Having lived in Chicago for two years now, I'm sure that the fans here are not surprised in the least, but are drowning their disappointment with Old Style and bratwurst.

Some other streaks worth mentioning: before Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks had won 7 in a row, keeping them ahead of the Padres. That NL West is gonna be crazy this year, especially with the youthful Rockies playing the way they have been (they've won 4 in a row, by the way).

The New York Yankees have won 5 in a row, and the Boston Red Sox have won 4 coming into the great rivalry starting tonight. There will be some fireworks there, for sure, and no doubt Lou and others will have plenty to say about that in the days ahead.

That's what I'll be looking at the next three days - the two hottest series in baseball - Phillies/Mets and Sox/Yankees. We'll see whose streak can be extended.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

ONE MORE TO GO FOR BONDS(phillieswin)

Tonight, after watching TNT all evening(they know drama), I decided to log on to see if the Phillies were done with their game, which started at 8:05 despite being a home game. I feel like the Phillies are sort of a second home-town team, but also I wanted to see if they moved up a game in the wake of Lima's debut (see below). Yahoo is my home page. I log on, and I see this.

So yeah, there's no mention in that little blurb at all about the Phillies win, it's all about Bonds' latest home run. I could've just scrolled down a little bit and gotten it from the sidebar, but I was a little ticked at this. Like Drew, I'm no fan of Barry Bonds. Yeah he gives production, but never when it counts in the playoffs. Plus he's a bit of an asshole too and that's not even counting the whole steroids thing. So I decided to check out another site and went to ESPN's baseball page.


Same deal. Now I understand he's about to top the record of one of baseball's most mythical figures. Still, this front page news item is that Barry Bonds has almost topped the record of the player with the second most home runs. Despite the fact that if and when he ever breaks said record, he'll have an un-written asterisk next to it his whole career, much like Roger Maris.

I won't go on much longer, the blog is called insurance runs, not "We Hate Barry Bonds",
it just ticks me off that this is the news item. Not that the Phils extended their winning streak, and for the first time in weeks, moved a game up on the Mets. Sports media can be so annoying.

Don't let this happen to you

Don't let this happen to your team


Mets put Jose Lima in the rotation this Sunday after losing Victor Zambrano to the 60-day disabled list. Zambrano sat down the first four batters he faced and then decided that this was a good note to go out on (after losing his last two decisions) and left for the rest of the season.

So the Mets brought up Jose Lima from AAA Norfolk and had him pitch against John Smoltz.

What do you think happenned?

Friday, May 05, 2006

3 up, 3 down

To celebrate the beginning of May, and because I'm bored and it's late, here are 3 guys doing really well who you may or may not have noticed. As well, here are 3 guys who you probably shouldn't take notice of because they're not exactly doing well. Anyhow...

3 up...

Toby Hall
In 80 AB's this year, the dude has only struck out once. He's batting .321 the highest on the Devil Rays, but only has 6 runs scored on the year. Maybe he should be batting before Johnny Gomes, not after.




Edgar Renteria
While he didn't do so well in Boston, he's thriving in Atlanta. He's batting .364, slugging .494 and has hit safely in 19 straight games... and only 2 errors on the year so far.




Bronson Arroyo
He isn't such a bad pitcher, it seems, once he's out of the bullpen. At 5-0 this season, he's tied for the most wins in MLB, and second only to Chris Carpenter in the NL for ERA and 4th in MLB with 2.06.




Honorable Mention: Matt Holliday. He's slugging .525 with 28 RBI's and 6 HR's, and has hit his stride in May. He's good in MVP '05, too.

And 3 Down...

Livan Hernandez
He's now 1-4 with a 6.29 ERA and 31 SO's after going 4-2 with a 4.04 ERA and 25 SO's last season through 7. When he's on, he's on this year, including 7-inning no decision against the cardinals where he only gave up 3 hits and a run. Still, at the rate he's going now, he'll end up 5-16. Not too good for your staff's 'Ace.'


A.J. Burnett
He's only pitched 10 innings this year, and all he's done is get himself an 0-1 record, given up 4 HR's, 12 hits, and a 6.30 ERA. I know he's on the DL at the moment, but the Jays took a risk in signing him, injuries and all, and he's left Halladay out to dry so far.



Preston Wilson
For someone getting paid $4 million this year, He's on pace for 31 HR's, but also on pace for 184 SO's, only 3 below his career high (in 2000 with Florida where, coincidentally, he also had 31 HR's) He needs to start getting a better read on the ball.



Honorable Mention: Josh Towers. He's 0-6 with a 10.59 ERA. Not what you want from your number two guy. They always have Burnett, I guess.


That's all, no more rambling tonight. Maybe I'll do this at the end of May. Probably not. Also, have the Phillies really won 5 straight games? Seems pretty improbable to me. I wish I could go to the games coming up against the Giants and heckle Barry Bonds. That, and watch him hit. Watching he and Pujols hit, though they come from two different schools (steroids and talent, respectively), watching the both of them is exactly like watching a video game.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

232 walks

Okay, I just wanna get one thing straight: I fucking hate Barry Bonds. He's a cheater, he's a dick, and he's ruined the game. We all know the allegations and I suppose at this point we all believe what we want to about him. Yes, he's a good hitter - he's always been one of the most selective and has always had decent power - but that doesn't change the fact that you don't just get that much bigger when you're 35. You just don't. Our bodies don't work that way. Also, if my head got two hat sizes bigger, I would probably be a little worried.



Bonds came up with the Pirates in '86 (yar, 20 years ago) and came to the Giants in '93. Uh, don't get too close to him with that needle - he might explode.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Closing time

I really like the idea of a closer having a theme song; something to let the hometown crowd know that the game is 'over.' I didn't find a single pitcher who has used what I consider the best song ever to come in to. That, of course, would be Slayer's 'Raining Blood.' If you don't know it, just go download it and you'll see. I'm not going to get in to the Billy Wagner/Mariano Rivera 'Enter Sandman' debate, because I think that they're both big boys who should play nice. I will, however, analyze a few of the songs that pitchers have used, either currently or in the past.

Billy Wagner, Mets / Mariano Rivera, Yankees - Metallica 'Enter Sandman'
This song is awesome for its simple, instrumental opening. It's instantly recognizable, and since Rivera and Wagner are very effective closers, hearing that as a batter has to be intimidating. At the same time, since Metallica is so well known, the surprise is gone, and people may focus on the song more than the incoming pitcher.

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox / Brad Lidge, Astros - Drowning Pool 'Bodies'
I know Lil' Papi is a young guy, but that's no excuse for using this horrible song. Hopefully, like Keith Foulke (coming up next), someone else picked this song for him. The whispering at the beginning, followed by the scream, is pretty raucous, but all the same, after the intro, there isn't much there. The line 'something's got to give' is pretty bad, too, since that's exactly what these two are in there not to do.

Keith Foulke, Red Sox - Danzig 'Mother'

Okay, this is probably one of the best choices for any closer. The fact that Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar picked this out for him in 2004 is pretty great. It's kind of simply, almost country in some places, but anyone who can come in to a song called 'Mother' is pretty badass.

Brian Fuentes, Rockies - Staind 'For You'

I know it's Staind, but this song has a really dark intro. The word mother is in this song as well, oddly enough. Aside from the low, pulsing intro, this song doesn't have much else going for it. He had his club record streak for saves snapped on Friday, and I'm sure this song is the reason.

Francisco Cordero, Rangers - Bill Conti 'Gonna Fly Now' (Rocky Theme)
Okay, this song isn't intimidating at all. But it's the theme from friggin Rocky, and you know what Rocky did in the end: win. Not a bad pick for a song, I guess.

Eric Gagne, Dodgers - Guns N' Roses 'Welcome to the Jungle'
Yes, Eric, yes. Soaring intro, breaking down in to pure rock. I listen to this song when I need to get pumped to complete a mountain of work. Definitely a good pick.

Eddie Guardado, Mariners / Trevor Hoffman, Padres - AC/DC 'Hell's Bells'
The bell is quite the attention getter, but it would definitely work better for Tom Gordon out in Philly. They could move that giant bell in the outfield they use for home runs. It would be perfect. Dude's voice isn't really that scary, though, it just sounds like he's in pain.

Jason Isringhausen, Cardinals - Sevendust 'Black'
Sevendust sucks. So does Isringhausen in the clutch (sometimes).

Todd Jones, Tigers - Building 429 'Glory Defined'
What a horrible song to come in to. There's no way I'd be afraid of this guy, and there's no way I'd want to warm up to this. It's slow, sappy and boring.

Joe Nathan, Twins - Big Head Todd 'Boom Boom'
Quite a different song from the others on this list, and for that Joe gets credit. It's still pretty silly, but I guess that's what gets him up for the 9th.

Huston Street, A's - Nas 'Hate Me Now'
Great pick. It has the potential to throw off opposing batters, and it's definitely good to warm up to, I would imagine. Kind of odd, because Huston seems like the whitest white dude name this side of Thadeus.

Bobby Jenks, White Sox - P.O.D. 'Boom'
P.O.D. is the band that fat metal kids drool over. Bobby Jenks is a fat metal kid, I assume, so whatever works man...


Pretty neat article on why your little league coach is the reason you're not in the major's right now.

Here's another site about how Dock Ellis pitched his no hitter in 1970 on LSD.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

WWJDD?

Johnny came back tonight.
We boo'd him at batting practice.
We boo'd him when they announced the line up.
We boo'd him through his first at bat.
Then he stepped out of the box.
And Johnny Damon tipped his hat.

Johnny took his place in Center.
We boo'd him some more.
Then we threw dollar bills at him.

All right after he said;
"The boos aren't really what I'm thinking about right now. I'm thinking about how I want the wind to change direction so Wakefield's knuckleball isn't all over the place. I'm used to being booed. I got booed so much in different ballparks just because I had long hair and just because that's in people's nature. I can't control that."

I think Wakefield threw some dollar bills at Dougie M.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The other Jim Hunter

I came back to Maryland today because I have a dentist and optometrist appointment tomorrow. On the way home, I came in to Maryland just in time for the start of the Orioles / Blue Jays game on WBAL 1090. I remember listening to the game on the radio almost every night when I was in middle school and high school, because we didn't have a TV. It was really odd to hear Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra again, the same two guys who did the broadcast when I used to listen all the time. I always liked Jim Hunter, as well, because he lives about 4 miles from my moms house in Maryland.

I really like listening to games on the radio, much like Pat. It really gives the whole game more of a sense of urgency, because you can't see for yourself what's happening. There seem to be a lot more stats thrown around on the Radio, too, since there are no replays or anything to throw up there, which really appeals to me as well. Though tonight Joe Angel was on instead of Manfra, who was doing the television broadcast, it was still a nostalgic drive. Oh yeah, and the Orioles blew another lead to lose the game, despite scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th. Oh well.

This afternoon, the Red Sox finally got their collective heads together and decided that, you know, it probably was a bad idea to trade Mirabelli in the first place. They ended up pretty well off, getting Dougie back from the Padres for the talented but struggling Josh Bard, Minor League pitcher Cla Merdith and either a player to be named later or cash.

It wasn't so much that Mirabelli is back that's great, it's how he got there. He took a private jet from San Diego, getting in to Logan at 6:48. That's 6:48pm, only a few minutes before the game was supposed to start. He hopped in an SUV courtesy of the police department, and made it to Fenway in time to start the game. The only two passed balls he had all night were in the SUV, as he changed in to his uniform during the 12-minute drive from Logan to Fenway.

I'm pretty happy that Mirabelli is back with the Sox. He's a terrible hitter, but Bard's 10 passed balls this year were such a momentum crusher for the Sox. Games like this one shouldn't happen anymore with Mirabelli back catching Wakefield. Bard just couldn't handle the knuckle ball, and they can't expect Varitek to do it either. Come on, John Flaherty retired instead of putting up with Wakefield and finishing his career in Boston.

Francona said "I think he was frustrated at the fact that he understood the passed balls were leading to runs. He's a very conscientious kid. But he worked hard, he did everything we asked him to do. That's why, as a staff, we were willing to be patient with him, we thought he deserved it."

On another Red Sox roster moves note, I'm really glad Bronson Arroyo is doing well with the Reds. I know people in Boston liked him, but I don't think he really got the respect that he deserved. He's 5-0 in six starts this year, against some decent, but not great, hitting teams. He did really well against Pujols tonight, keeping him 0-3 with a walk. Arroyo has gone 7 innings once, 8 innings twice and had a complete game thus far, giving up only 17 hits and 7 runs in those 31 innings. He's struck out 23 and walked only 6 during that same stretch. That's a .225 ERA; not bad for a starter. Good thing Willy Mo is at least making contact with the ball now, instead of striking out 97% of the time, as he used to do. Maybe Manny and Ortiz are having an effect on him.

I'm still kind of pissed that the sox got rid of Arroyo in the first place, since they had somewhat of a good-faith deal during the off season anyhow. Oh well, hopefully Arroyo goes 24-0 this year. It would sure help my fantasy team, I know that.