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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pittsburgh rally falls short in St.Louis 5-4

The Pittsburgh Pirates scored a run in the first and three more in the last,but the seven innings in between were unproductive and that was the difference in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals in St.Louis.
Nate McLouth blasted his 13th homer of the season in the opening
inning and Jason Michaels provided the other three courtesy of a bases clearing,three run pinch hit double in the final stanza to bring the Bucs within one run.
This is the role that I envisioned Michaels having some success in-top batter off the bench and 4th outfielder.
That was the problem in Cleveland for Michaels,they wanted to use him in an everyday role and expected his performance to be strong,when he is not suited for that type of role.
Zach Duke pitched reasonably well after getting an extra day of rest,but picked up the loss (2-4) in allowing three runs (two earned),five hits,walking just one (nice to type that) and striking out two in six innings.
The unearned run that Duke allowed was a direct descendant of a Duke throwing error in the second and that brings me to a personal pet peeve that bugs me every time that this topic comes up-If the pitcher makes an error and it leads to a run-the run should be earned.
That will not be changing anytime soon,but it does not bother me any less.
Tyler Yates continued his recent run of uninspired efforts with two runs allowed in his one inning and even though it didn't look that important at the time,it would wind up making the difference in the game.
The four game series continues tonight at 7:15 by the Arch.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Paul Maholm (2-5 5.11 ERA) at St.Louis:Mike Parisi (0-1 2.87 ERA) 7:15

Bullpen Notes

What is it about teams hiring coaches just because they talk about the game on television?
It seems like bad coaches get jobs,if they just stay in the media long enough for teams to forget about their shortcomings as coaches.
As I called (and Ryan will attest to),there is a sucker born every minute as the Tampa Bay Lightning looks like they will be the team that bites on the hook that is Barry Melrose and returns him to the rink.
I know that the only Cup final that the Los Angeles Kings ever appeared in was under Melrose,but he had Wayne Gretzky on his team!
Shouldn't that have been expected????

And the same goes for Doug Collins and a return to the Chicago Bulls as well,although I liked Collins as a player in my youth and now as an analyst for TNT, I dislike him greatly as a coach.
I simply do not understand the theory that a coach lacked success,but because he talks the game on television that makes him worthy of another job.
At least Melrose has waited some time before getting his second shot,unlike Collins,who failed in two previous returns from the booth (Detroit and Washington).
Only in sports,can you get a job for being away for a period of time after failing in the past and doing nothing to improve your resume'.
Try that in the real world.

Speaking of the real world-here is a shout "at" to two big companies that are screwups.
First,lets give it up to UPS for losing my Indianapolis Indians card set and costing me a shot at some extra players for the collection.
The I-Tribe put my cards right in the mail and got them to Laurel,MD in about 36 hours and there they promptly disappeared and showed as sitting in Laurel for 8 days and still counting.
Great job,guys.

And how about those folks at Verizon,who after I have had an unlisted phone for the last 16 years and I pay for that "privilege",leaves an automated message on my machine that "due to an error" my phone number is in the their next phone book release.
I think that my good friends at Verizon should be more than sorry "automated style" and we will see just how sorry that they are on Monday when I hold a live person accountable for their error.

The New Jersey Devils signed Anssi Salmela from the Finnish league yesterday.
I have never seen Salmela play,so I have no idea whether the 23 year old defenseman will be given a chance to make the big club or is Lowell bound.
Salmela led all defensemen in his league last season with 16 goals.

Tonight is Justin Maxwell t-shirt day for the Hagerstown Suns and it looks like a nice shirt.
Good job.
Remember-we compliment AND criticize when it is warranted!

My mock draft for the Pirates over at MinorLeagueBall is this afternoon,so look for a recap in a day or two.

Our good friend Wooden hates drafts and looks at affiliated prospects vs those of the independent variety here.
Not sure if I agree,but he brings some different perspectives.

I have not forgot about the Allentown post,I just want to get some pictures for the post first.

Until tomorrow

Photo Credit
Michaels:Tom Gannon-AP Photo

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dumatrait returns to haunt Cincinnati in 7-2 win

Phil Dumatrait returned to the scene of his major league start and the team that released him over the winter and gave his best performance of the season as the Pirates avoided a sweep of their series in Cincinnati with a 7-2 win.
Dumatrait (2-2) allowed just 2 infield singles and just one run(it was unearned) over his seven inning outing,but perhaps even more importantly struck out a season high nine Reds and walked just two and that is very encouraging considering the control issues that have plagued the anchors of the rotation lately.
Jack Wilson gave the Bucs a 1-0 in the first as he doubled home Freddy Sanchez,but the lead would not last long as Cincinnati scored all the runs that they would get off Dumatrait when Jerry Hairston scored on Sanchez's throwing error attempting to throw out Brandon Phillips at first base.
The Bucs salted this one away in the third as Xavier Nady and Jason Michaels each doubled home a run for a 3-1 lead.
Freddy Sanchez added another run in the 4th when his deep sac fly scored Raul Chavez from third (how deep did that have to be to score the slow-footed Chavez?),but Pittsburgh was not finished in the inning yet as Jason Bay slammed a two run homer (13) and continued his white hot hitting as of late.
Xavier Nady added a fifth inning longball (9) to finish the Pittsburgh scoring.
A needed win and a super night from Phil Dumatrait.
The Buccos travel to the Gateway to the West for a three game weekend series vs El Birdos.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (2-3 4.55 ERA) at St.Louis:Todd Wellemeyer (5-1 3.36 ERA) 8:15 ERA

Bullpen Notes

The Pirates recalled Bryan Bullington from Indianapolis yesterday and returned Marino Salas to the I-Tribe.
Bullington's numbers look awful,but he has rebounded a bit from a crummy start to win the International League pitcher of the week and should be used as the mop-up man in long relief.

Perhaps Bullington's callup put John Van Benschoten in a pissy mood?
We traveled to Allentown Pa to check out the Indianapolis Indians and I will be doing an entire post on the day as soon as I get the pictures from Ryan,but I had to connect these two issues,as Battlin Bob does not care for JVB's attitude!
Check out the Battlers take on this and I will comment when the trip post comes out.

I am doing my homework for tomorrow's mock draft,so here is hoping it goes well.
Last years was Ok,but I am hoping to improve.

Apparently some teams are making assurances to the family of Tim Beckham that he is either Tampa or Pittsburgh bound as his father told the Post-Gazette that he has had meeting with either of those teams.
From what I hear Tampa is down to Beckham or Florida State backstop Buster Posey,while the Pirates will take Beckham if the Rays select Posey.
However,Pittsburgh will select Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez,if the Floridians tab Beckham with their first pick.

Sorry to hear of the passing of Harvey Korman at the age of 81.
Korman was a staple of 1970's television as one of the stars of the Carol Burnett show on CBS.
Korman also was a guest star on several shows through the years most notably (to me!) the Wild Wild West and starred in the classic film Blazing Saddles.

Back later or tomorrow with words on our visit to Allentown and some on the signing front from there and more!

Photo Credits
Dumatrait:Al Behrman-AP Photo
Bullington:Jake Schellkopf-AP Photo
Korman:Unknown


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gorzelanny cannot find the plate-Buccos blasted 9-1

Tom Gorzelanny made Ian Snell look razor sharp in comparison in being unable to complete an inning in a 9-1 pummeling at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds.
The lefty allowed six runs and four hits to go with a pair of walks and a wild pitch in his losing (4-5) two thirds of an inning night and basically looked like someone that either has lost all control or has an injury that has not been disclosed and he is trying to pitch through it.
If that is the case,I applaud Gorzo's heart and toughness but question the intelligence of such a move.
There can be no reasons for why a promising young pitcher has completely lost it in such a short period of time.
I would send Gorzelanny back to Pittsburgh and start checking his shoulder,arm and elbow for any possible explanation for his poor season.
The finishing blow was a two run homer by former Pirate David Ross.
The Ross homer was his first since last September!
The only Pirate RBI went to Francisco Osoria (?) on a second inning infield single.
The series concludes Thursday.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Phil Dumatrait (1-2 4.o5 ERA) at Cincinnati:Aaron Harang (2-6 3.32 ERA) 7:10

Bullpen Notes

Not sure if I will post on Thursday or not as I will be in Allentown Pa to see the Pirates AAA franchise,the Indianapolis Indians play against the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.
Coverage when I have time.

Phil Dumatrait was moved up a day in the rotation to give Zach Duke an extra day to rest a callous on his pitching hand.
Duke will start Friday in St.Louis.

The Delmarva Shorebirds hammered 11 hits to score 7 runs off prospect Bradley Meyers in just 2 innings to cruise to a 9-3 win over the Hagerstown Suns.
Ryan Adams and Tyler Henson each finished with 4 hits and Joe Nowicki smashed a LONG homer to right field for the Shorebirds.

ESPN radio fired Mark Madden for his tasteless comments on the illness of Senator Ted Kennedy.
The comments were out of line and I would not question giving Madden the axe for them,but this is the same network that allowed Dana Jacobsen to keep her job for even worse comments about Jesus!.
I am not really a man of the cloth,but shouldn't Jesus Christ at least be on the same level on Ted Kennedy?????
Horrible comments about the son of God?Suspension.
Poor taste comments on Teddy Kennedy?You are fired.

Until next time

Photo Credit
Gorzelanny:Al Behrman-AP Photo

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pittsburgh starters control problems continue in 9-6 loss

Ian Snell worked his way out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning and seemed to settle into a comfortable rhythm over the following three,but at the end of the fifth,Snell had surrendered a 3-0 lead and in the sixth allowed three more Reds to score without recording an out and the Cincinnati Reds were on their way to a 9-6 home win.
The main shot was a three run bomb to Adam Dunn that landed in Louisville,I think, and sent the scoreboard changing from 3-1 Pittsburgh to 4-3 Cincinnati.
The Reds also showcased the jewel of their farm system as outfielder Jay Bruce went 3 for 3 in his major league curtain raiser.
Snell (2-4) allowed seven runs on seven hits and walked an alarmingly high seven batters that continued his control issues.
I am not sure why Snell and Tom Gorzelanny are having such issues with finding the plate,but I am sure that the Pirates (and myself) are very concerned,especially with the contract that Snell signed over the winter.
Pittsburgh scored single runs in three early innings to build the early margin.
Ronny Paulino singled for one in the first,Xavier Nady singled in the third and Adam LaRoche's sac fly produced another in the fifth.
The Pirates did produce three garbage runs in the ninth to make the score closer as LaRoche hit a two run shot (6) before Ronny Paulino reached the seats for the first time all season.
The series continues tonight at 7.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (4-4 6.31 ERA) at Cincinnati:Bronson Arroyo (3-4 5.68 ERA) 7:10

Bullpen Notes

Neal Huntington is serious about pitch counts!
Lynchburg manager Jeff Branson and recently resigned pitching coach Bob Milacki were docked three days pay for allowing Daniel Moskos to exceed his pitch limit by six in a game against Myrtle Beach.
Frankly,I find this to be dumb.
I understand their reasoning,but a bit of leeway should be used in situations that go over the limit for one batter,if the limit had not been reached before the at-bat started.
I am all for keeping a close watch on this,but this looks excessive.
In any case,don't bet on a Branson return to the organization next season.

Former Pirate Richie Hebner is the new field boss of the Frederick Keys after skipper Tommy Thompson took a leave of absence.
Looks like I have to do some digging for Hebner cards and hopefully I can get him to sign his bobblehead that the Pirates are giving away in June.

Hard to believe hearing of the death of former Cub tosser Geremi Gonzalez at 33 after being struck by lightning while walking along the beach.
Gonzalez won 11 games for the 97 Cubs in the high point of his career.
I suppose the old adage is true,when it is time to go..............

For an interesting comparison to the Hagerstown Suns-try this out.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the Ohio teams in the minors and compares things that each team does.
Lake County offers hot dogs for a buck every Monday,as does Akron.
On Tuesdays,Akron has buy one get one free on dogs,popcorn and Ice Cream.
Low A Mahoning Valley has dollar Thursdays on dogs,soda and beer and on Mondays,the Scrappers offer a all you get eat OPTION (note to the Suns front office,FYF Monday should be optional not mandatory) for an extra ten bucks added to your ticket and their menu looks superior to the Hagerstown dreck too with a menu that includes chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage, bratwurst, candy bars, peanuts and popcorn.
Mahoning Valley also will have a bobblehead giveaway of WBC Middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik this season,while Hagerstown offers Elizabeth Schulze.
That is so ridiculous not even I can offer a pithy remark.
But for food,tough to beat the Columbus Clippers with every Monday being "Dime a Dog" night.
That's right-ten cent hot dogs,even the Suns dogs are worth a dime!

And finally from the wasn't he already retired dept.
Damon Allen will retire from the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts today at the age of 44 and 23 seasons in Canada.
Allen played for 4 Grey Cup champions, played for what seemed to be every team in the league and is a certainty for the CFL Hall of Fame.

Photo Credits
Snell:Al Behrman-AP Photo
Allen:John E.Sokolowski

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Magnificent Muraco


As a child that grew up in a very rural environment,television and sports were a large portion of my childhood.
I often tell my children that I was a part of the last generation of the broadcast networks,PBS and maybe a UHF channel and it is pretty true.
Cable did not come to my area until 1983 (making me just short of 15 when it arrived),so I heavily relied on those few channels for entertainment,along with scratchy AM radio signals from far away places to follow a game that would never appear on my scrawny black and white set.
As a sports fanatic (nothing has changed),I was different from my other sports fans in one regard-I was a huge fan of Pro Wrestling.
Wrestling was looked down upon before the Vince McMahon revolution in 1985 as low brow entertainment,but I fell in love with it.
Mind you,the "territory" that I lived in was McMahon territory and as far as action in the ring and the out of the ring storylines were slow compared to the more exciting products in the Carolinas,Georgia (which was on WTBS and I cursed every day that we did not have cable to see the only nationally available wrestling show),Louisiana etc.
Of course,it was many years later that I realized that the territories were so different and I devoured the two weekly WWF shows on Saturdays from Washington and Baltimore to the point of moving our puny TV to my Aunts room to pick up the WBFF signal from Baltimore as only one room in the house could receive the signal.
I have never been able to figure out just why that was,but it was so.
I never had any interest in the game until entering a new school in Junior High and having another kid ask about trading for a hockey book of mine.
He had this magazine that looked really interesting and I knew little about wrestling.
My dad thought little of it and with the exception of wrestlers that were known from other sports-Ken Patera,Ernie Ladd,Wahoo McDaniel etc,I knew none of the stars.
I made the deal for a few magazines and the ball started rolling and I hooked my brother on it as well.
I often think of how my brothers life might have been different,if I had traded for baseball magazines instead.
But I was different from anyone that I knew among even grappling supporters.
I rooted for the "bad guys".I was known around school as the "guy who roots for the bad guys" and my persona was just that.
You see,my parents were not around much during my youth and I have come to grips with that over time,but without a role model that was around a lot,I looked for one and in 1981 and being 13 years old-I found him.
His name was Don "the Magnificent" Muraco and he was my favorite from his first appearance on TV.
Muraco had come to the Northeast (Maryland was the most southern part of the WWF territory) from the Florida office and instantly showed that he was different from the usual challengers that rotated through the office by winning the Inter-Continental title from Pedro Morales in his first try.
The I-C belt was the secondary singles title and the one that "rulebreakers" would win on occasion as the World belt would rarely leave the side of the fan favorites,so Muraco winning it so quickly showed he was not one of the short term crowd.
The Magnificent One was easily the best wrestler in the company as he was able to have good matches with any opponent and did not need a certain type of style to create a excellent match.
From his stubble growth on his face,to the cocky self assured attitude to the arrogant walk,Muraco was easily the most hated wrestler around and the more he was hated-the more I loved him.
Muraco had the gift of gab and he was easily the coolest talker that I had ever seen.

I began to adopt the Muraco persona around school and my home and it felt pretty natural.
As you could guess,it did little for my popularity at school!
One thing that I did that was Muraco inspired was my 11th grade school picture where I insisted on wearing sunglasses (as Muraco often did) and as a result became the talk of the school when yearbooks came out the following year!
I still look back on that and smile as on the rare(VERY rare) occasions when that book comes out,the way your eyes go right to that picture because it is so different.
As time moved on,I realize that I liked the bad guys because they were what I would eventually become-the guys that told it how they saw it and were not afraid to get what they wanted and if that meant not being liked-so be it.
The attitude that I picked up from Don Muraco was far from popular with my peers,but in many ways it helped get me through childhood and adolescence with a "not going to get me down" way of thinking.
Kinda of funny to think that a pro wrestler that I have never met had that much influence on a teenager,isn't it?

Photo Credit
Muraco:Unknown

Bay beats Cubs in bonus frames twice in a row!




Jason Bay continued his return to past form,which ironically could speed up his departure from Pittsburgh with two game winning hits in extra innings over the visiting Chicago Cubs.
On Saturday,Bay smacked a walkoff single down the left field line in the fourteenth inning to lift the Bucs to a 5-4 victory.
Earlier in the contest,Bay had hit his 12th homer of the season with one on and finished with three runs batted in for the game.
Extra innings were forced by Pittsburgh on a Luis Rivas sac fly that scored Doug Mienkiewicz in the ninth off Chicago closer Kerry Wood.
The other Pittsburgh run was scored on a 5th inning single by Jason Michaels.
John Grabow picked up the deserved victory to improve to 4-1 with three scoreless innings to lead a excellent outing from the bullpen,as four of the five pitchers used tossed scoreless stints,only Tyler Yates,who allowed three runs had a rough night.
Phil Dumatrait offered a solid outing(although not as great as Greg Brown thought) with one run over 5 and two thirds.
Brown kept referring to this "special" performance by Dumatrait and came off as fawning over the lefty in the manner that Rachel fawns over the Jonas Brothers.
If you don't know who the Jonas Brothers are-consider yourself lucky and move on.

Bay was the hero again yesterday with a 6-5 win that again ended with a extra inning game winning single-this time in the 11th inning to give Damaso Marte his fourth win without a loss.
Of course,Alfonso Soriano should have gotten at least a save for losing Nate McLouth's fly ball in the sun that should have been the game finisher and therefore a Chicago win.
Soriano homered earlier in the game and generally kills the Pirates,so I will happily take one from him for a change.
The Pirates hit solo homers in each of the first three innings and the shocker was that two of them were by Luis Rivas (I know!!!) to give him exactly two on the year to go with Xavier Nady's 8th of the season.
Although to be fair,the first homer by Rivas should have been a double as replays show the ball hit the top of the wall in left and then returned to the field of play and should have been treated as a live ball.
A Jose Bautista single scored the other run in the sixth inning and set the stage for Soriano's bungle and Bay's heroics and gave the Pirates two out of three in the series against the Cubs.
Paul Maholm continued his season of pitching passably with the exception of one poor inning as he allowed 5 runs in 8 innings,but 4 came in the Chicago third.
The Pirates are off Memorial Day and travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday for a three game series against the Reds at Great American Ballpark.

Bullpen Notes

Jack Wilson should return to the Pittsburgh lineup tomorrow against the Reds.
Look for Brian Bixler to return to AAA Indianapolis to make space on the roster for Wilson.

A VERY interesting interview in the Post-Gazette with Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington on their philosophy on the draft and rebuilding the farm system.
Much of this sounds good,but the proof in the pudding,so to speak.

I do disagree with this statement by Coonelly on the passing on Matt Wieters.
"Let me start by saying I don't think it's very productive to engage in that. But my diligence has led me to believe that, one, the scouts we've retained, we like and think are productive members of the organization. Two, the decision was made by the former baseball operations department to take Danny Moskos over Matt Wieters. That was their decision."

Sorry,Frank-One that never remembers history is doomed to repeat it.
And you cannot expect to have this mess forgotten anytime soon,so let's not let cost ever allow something like that to happen again and use Matt Wieters as an example as what can happen when you either
A) pick players by signability or B) allow baseball people so inept to keep their jobs when they do not grade the best players as just that.

Reader Jason Christensen sends us a note on the Mets calling up former Hagerstown Sun
Nick Evans to the big leagues.
Evans had three hits in his MLB bow vs the Rockies.

After watching the Jr.Welterweight doubleheader from Great Britain,I cannot see anyone(aside from the Brits and Malignaggi family members) getting excited about the upcoming fight between the two winners.
Ricky Hatton looked just OK in his distance win over Juan Lazcano and IBF titlist Paulie Malignaggi barely escaped with his belt in a split decision win over Lovemore N'dou.
Malignaggi could not bust a paper bag filled with water and Hatton did not overly impress in his ring return from his loss to Floyd Mayweather.

Back tomorrow with something a bit different on what could be a slow news day.

Photo Credits
All Baseball:John Heller-AP Photo
Hatton-Lazcano:Carl De Souza:AFP/Getty Images

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pirates look awful,play worse in pounding vs Chicago

As bad the Pirates looked in their V-8 Juice uniforms,they played worse as Carlos Zambrano shut them on the mound (2 runs over 7 innings) and at the plate (4 hits and 2 RBI) as the Pirates were blasted by the Chicago Cubs 12-3.
Zach Duke fell to 2-3 after an effort that was not as awful as his numbers looked in not making it to the 5th inning.
Duke's fielders were far from a help as several botched plays led to extra outs and therefore extra Chicago runs.
Xavier Nady dropped a fly ball that was after a long run,but it still was very catchable, and that clearly would have gotten Alfonso Soriano doubled off base as he was almost home at the time of the miscue and that would have ended the inning.
Instead Chicago finished the inning with two runs after Doug Mientkiewicz(who is in the starting lineup way too much at 3rd base) would botch a ground ball to allow the second run to score and it would get worse.
The Pirates would hand the Bruins another run when Chris Gomez dropped Duke's made for a twin killing throw that would have ended the inning.
And that doesnt even mention Adam LaRoche's brain freeze on a ball that could have gotten a runner at second or first and instead got nothing.
Nate McLouth was involved with all the Pittsburgh runs as he smacked an RBI triple in the fifth and scored on a LaRoche sac fly after doubling in the eighth.
Sean Burnett and Marino Salas added little in help in their 5 innings of mop-up work as the Cubs scored seven runs off the two,with Burnett being especially putrid and walking four with some pitches that only could be seen to be believed.
All around-awful and here is hoping for improvement tonight in Game 2 of the set.

Pitching Matchup
Chicago:Jason Marquis (2-3 4.96 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Phil Dumatrait (1-2 4.39 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

Carlos Zambrano is clearly one of the top five starters in the senior circuit,but two things that he does that really impresses me is that he is fast and aggressive.
He works fast and keeps the game moving,keeping his rhythm going and that keeps the opponent off balance when Zambrano is going well.
I like the way Zambrano attacks the 7,8,9 hitters too as he does not get cute with lesser hitters and goes right after them with strikes.
This enables him to save pitches instead of piling up pitch counts by nibbling at corners with weaker bats.

Battlin Bob sends us this sad article on former Pirate Dock Ellis,who was recently placed on the liver transplant list.
Ellis pitched a no-hitter for the Pirates in 1970 (supposedly on LSD or LDS for our Trekkers out there) and was the starting pitcher in the 1971 All-Star game.
Dock has a special place for me as he was the first big leaguer to sign an autograph for me on my 10th birthday when he was winding his career down with the Texas Rangers.
Best wishes for Ellis and a complete recovery.

During last nights game,Lanny Frattare and Bob Walk discussed the Maple bat issue and in what should come as no shock disclosed that the reason that the bats have not been banned already was through the objections of the players association.
Those guys will fight any small improvement every step of the way.

Frattare told Walk that a committee was formed to look at the issue and Walk's reply was dead on.
"There has been a committee on oil prices for a year and you see how that's went"!
Frattare and Walk are clearly the best team that the Pirates have for their games as any team with Greg Brown in it is guaranteed to be awful!

I was going to go to the Lexington-Hagerstown finale' last night,but I only needed a few players and none were real prospects and decided to pass.
I was kinda tired and was watching Vanderbilt and South Carolina play in the SEC Tournament.
Why?
Because it was a chance to see two of the players that Pittsburgh is considering selecting in the draft in Vandy's Pedro Alvarez and South Carolina's Justin Smoak.
Alvarez homered in the 7-5 Commodore victory.

And finally thanks to my terrific wife,Cherie for my great anniversary present-25 Hagerstown Suns tickets!

Photo Credits
Zambrano and Nady:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
Ellis:Topps

21 years

Please excuse the break from the usual format,but today is my anniversary or as I sometimes like to think of it as my second birthday.

If you are looking for the normal caustic comments,skip now and wait until later today when I post on the horrible Pirate loss and more,but for now,I prefer to think of better things.

I don't have a photo on the PC of us together,so I will have to settle for this picture of the top two ladies in my life that take care of me every day from last year by Lake Erie in Cleveland.

Cherie has been tolerating my behavior and dealing with me for 21 years and she deserves a big medal for just that,but she has been even more than that to me.
As most that know me well know-I carry a huge of amount of baggage and dealing with that has to have been hard at times for her.
However,she has been the light of my life and has made me a better person just by sharing her life with mine.

It does seem that it was just a few years back that I was fortunate enough to marry her and it sure does not seem like 21 years and way too much weight gained since then.
Time does tend to move quickly when you are happy,I suppose and despite my disappointments in various things through the years,our marriage has never been one of those.
I was lucky enough to find the person that I needed in High School staring me in the face everyday and I often think that I would have likely be living a lesser life without her.

As middle age arrives to join with thinning hair,thickening midsection and a general lack of energy to me,I can always smile with the knowledge that the one person that I can count on will always be there for me.

Thank you so much,Cherie for the last 21 years and here is to many more as we age gracefully in your case and sarcastically in mine!

Happy Anniversary!

Photo Credit
Cherie and Rachel in Cleveland-Some guy

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bucs sink Brewers,avoid sweep

Jason Bay and Xavier Nady each smacked homers to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 8-4 win over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers and avoiding a sweep of the series by Milwaukee.
Bay's two run homer in the fourth (11) broke a scoreless tie,Raul Chavez took advantage of a rare opportunity at playing time with an RBI single and Tom Gorzelanny added another RBI single to give the Buccos a 4-0 and a lead that they would never relinquish.
Pittsburgh would add two runs in the fifth as Nate McLouth scored on a Prince Fielder throwing error and Nady then hit his seventh home run of the year.
Chris Gomez's 7th inning single scored the final two Pittsburgh tallies.
Tom Gorzelanny picked up the win to even his record at 4-4,despite walking 4 more batters in his 5+ innings of performance.
The left allowed 2 runs off of eight hits and fanned only two brewmeisters.
I still do not believe that Gorzelanny is totally healthy and it is just a matter of time before that shows for certain.
The Pirates used four relievers over the final innings allowing two of the Brewer runs as Damaso Marte and John Grabow each gave up one run.
The Chicago Cubs come to town tonight for the first of three games.
Look out as the Cubs have owned the Bucs all season.

Pitching Matchup
Chicago:Carlos Zambrano (6-1 2.45 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (2-2 4.23 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

Hard to believe this far into the season that Zach Duke has been the Pirates best starter,but he has thus far.
As encouraging as a possible Duke return to form is,he is not the guy who received a big contract- Ian Snell is and he needs to step up his form and fast.

A real interesting article on possible Pirate number one pick Tim Beckham.
If the Pirates were as impressed by this article as I was,he could get the nod over the more expensive Pedro Alvarez.

The New Jersey Devils re-signed veteran defensemen Mike Mottau and Sheldon Brookbank each to two year deals.
Mottau will be paid 750,000 and 775,000,while Brookbank will receive 500,000 and 550,000.
I am fine with both,neither contract is excessive and both are team concept players that will play the Devil way.

The first quarterback to run the Oklahoma Wishbone passed away at 59.
Jack Mildren was the signal caller for Oklahoma in 1970 and 71 and was the OU leader in the classic 1971 35-31 game.
Mildren played safety for the Colts and Patriots for a few years and served as Oklahoma's Lieutenant Governor in the mid 1980's.

Photo Credits
Bay/Nady:Gene Puskar-AP Photo
Mildren:Unknown

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sheets bends but does not break in 4-1 Milwaukee win

Every member of the Pittsburgh starting lineup had a base hit for the game and the team finished with 11 of them,but only once could Pittsburgh bust through with a run and Ben Sheets finished with a complete game victory over the Pirates 4-1.
Only Xavier Nady's solo shot (6) into the seats in the fourth inning was the difference in watching a game composed of scoreboard goose eggs.
Nady's homer tied the game at one after a Brewer run in the second inning,but Milwaukee took the lead for good on (again) sloppy Bucco defense as Adam LaRoche's 5th inning butchering of a routine grounder of Rickie Weeks led to the lead run for the visitors as Weeks would score on a Ryan Braun triple.
Braun would shortly thereafter score and the Brewers would add one more run in the following inning on a solo homer by Weeks for the 4-1 final.
Ian Snell continued his streak of average pitching in dropping to 2-3 this season.
Snell allowed all 4 runs on 9 hits in his six innings of work and whiffed six Brewers,while walking two.
The strikeouts are a bit encouraging as Snell's have been down this year,but all and all-Snell just looks like another guy out there and certainly not the type of special pitcher that the Pirates locked up to a long term deal over the winter.
The Pirate bullpen tossed three scoreless innings to finish the contest out.
The Brewers go for the Steel City Sweep tonight at 7.

Pitching Matchup
Milwaukee:David Bush (1-4 6.05 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (3-4 6.64 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

The Post-Gazette is reporting that the Pirates are down to two choices with their second overall pick in the amateur draft and it is the same two that I am torn between in the mock draft.
Vanderbilt 3rd baseman Pedro Alvarez or Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham are the two and both have attributes to recommend them.
Do you take the safer and closer to big league ready Alvarez or do you take the younger,experience needy,but possibly the explosively talented player in Beckham that you passed over so many times in the past?
Very tough call,but one thing to keep an eye on is this-Alvarez is represented by Scott Boras.
Always keep that into considerations.

The Cleveland Browns weak secondary became weaker yesterday when top backup corner Daven Holly tore up his knee and will likely miss the 2008 season.
Holly is not a great corner by any means,but his loss gives the Browns a missing nickel corner and the loss of any backup veteran presence.
This may have forced the Browns to pay more than they might have wanted to for a released veteran when the June 1 cuts begin.

One possibility could be safety Stuart Schweigert,who was released by the Raiders.
The former Oakland starter could help the Browns in some situations,even though he is not a corner.

Great post by our friend Mike over at his blog on the loss of another downtown business here in Hagerstown.
Mike also relates the Hagerstown Suns situation there as well and nails the problems in the State on their willingness to hand many other communities money for new stadiums and screwing Hagerstown in any attempt to renovate the almost 80 year old Municipal Stadium.

And finally-this humorous article on the verbal wars between MSNBC and Fox News and especially Keith Olbermann and "Bill-O".
Olbermann is far from blameless in this stuff,but anyone that calls out Bill-O and his version of "Journalism" (snicker) is all right by us!!!

Photo Credits
Nady:Gene Puskar-AP Photo
Alvarez:Unknowm
Beckham:Rivals.Com

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brewers grind out 7-2 win over Pirates


Dumb baseball,slow bats and average pitching was the recipe for a 7-2 Pirate loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Freddy Sanchez handed the Brewers their first run by not knowing how many outs there were,when instead of finishing a double play ball to end the inning with a peg to first,he took a few steps towards the dugout and allowed the run to score.
Losing pitcher Paul Maholm (2-5) did reasonably well until allowing a backbreaking homer to Mike Cameron in the seventh that increased the Brewers lead from 2-0 to 4-0.
Maholm pitched 6 and a third innings allowing four runs on 9 hits,struck out 5 and walked two.
The Brewers added insurance runs in both the 8th and 9th off Sean Burnett and Marino Salas.
Jason Bay's two run homer in the bottom of the ninth (10) avoided the shutout.
The Buccos finished with just six hits on the evening against five Milwaukee hurlers.
The Brewers visit continues tonight at 7:05.

Pitching Matchup
Milwaukee:Ben Sheets (4-1 3.25 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Ian Snell (2-2 5.05 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

As an avowed Interleague play hater,I realize that I have a bias against it.
But Jeff Passan likes it and has several ideas to bolster it even more.
They all suck.

The Altoona Mirror is reporting the landlord of Blair County Ballpark and the Altoona Curve are at odds on the worsening condition of the field.
The Curve lost two home dates due to the field having problems absorbing the rain and they likely lost quite a few dollars as Jack Wilson was scheduled to rehab at Altoona,but the Pirates heard about the field problems and instead sent Wilson to Indianapolis to avoid a possible recurrence of Wilson's calf injury.
The lease between the Curve and the stadium expires at the end of the season.

And for those of you that hate the NBA and believe that much of what they do is pre-determined,another arrow has just arrived in your quiver as the Chicago Bulls won the draft lottery for the top pick from the 9th spot.
I don't care for lotteries and even though I hate to see teams dogging it for draft spots.that beats the constant problems that are caused when the worst team doesn't get the top pick.
Especially when a large market/marquee team gets the pick.
It just looks bad.

Back again with tonights Bucco game.

Photo Credit
Plate play-Gene Puskar-AP Photo

Suns are fan Friendly?Wild night in Hagerstown


On a night that celebrated the 150th anniversary of the ticket booth,the Hagerstown Suns likely did not match that with the number of live fans in attendance (go figure with a great promotion with that) and continued to show the opposite of the "Fan Friendly" shirts that the ushers wear at games.

But on the good side,the game was very entertaining,if a bit sloppy, and was still fun to watch in a 7-6 extra inning Hagerstown victory.
The game was most notable for some ninth inning blowups by the Suns Stephen King and manager Darnell Coles.
King thought a ball hit by him off the bat of Lexington's Craig Corrado down the third base line in the Lexington ninth was foul and it was ruled fair.
We were standing down the line and I thought it was one of those calls that could have been called either way,which means no matter which way that you call it-someone was going to be pretty upset.
King was quite vocal in his displeasure and I think that set the stage for the bigger eruption by his manager Coles in the Hagerstown half of the inning.
King led off with a double and was the winning run for Hagerstown,but with King running on contact,Aaron Seuss grounded to Lexington SS Ronald Ramirez,who threw to third and King was tagged out.
I thought he was pretty clearly out,but IMO was still upset by the play in the field and threw his helmet and went after the umpire.
Coles then threw his helmet into the outfield and went berserk on the ump,all the time keeping King away from the arbiter while doing so.
Of course,Coles was ejected,but was far from finished as he took a bucket of baseballs from the dugout and tossed them on the infield!
I must say this-I really like what I have seen from Darnell Coles as a manager.
He took the hit for his guy on a play that really was not that close,keeping his player in the game and out of trouble and showed the type of passion that is simply great to see.
It is pretty easy to see that Coles will continue to work his way up the managing ladder and should be a successful bench boss.
King,on the other hand,does not appear to have learned much from his demotion last year from similar incidents.
I have trouble with this because off the field,King is pretty quiet and almost unassuming,but yet on the field seems to struggle with the smallest bit of adversity.
King clearly has a lot of talent,but has to come to grips with the fact that he is going to fail,bad calls will be made and that is simply the nature of the game.
I hope he can do so.
The Suns would win the game in the bottom of the tenth before maybe 40 people left watching as a double play bouncer hit to Ronald Ramirez that would have ended the inning and sent the game to the 11th was thrown by Ramirez into right field allowing the winning run to score.
The series continues today,but I am skipping.
I am unsure on Thursday,but will definitely be there on Friday.

Now to the off the field stuff.
To celebrate the ticket booth anniversary,the Suns had cake for the fans.
But the season ticket holders could not have any (not that this bugged me-I am not a huge cake fan and lord knows that I don't need it any!) ,so only people that bought their tickets at the ticket booths were given a "Cake ticket".
But that did include Ryan and Battlin Bob,but the guys at the ticket office didn't give them the coveted "Cake Ticket",so they were not given any cake.
As Ryan said "only the Suns could screw up free cake".
Is this nit picky?Likely.
But fair is fair when you consider that the Suns management is the same on little things.
Long time readers may remember this from the first few weeks of the blog on the Suns "suite area" and the autograph collectors and with literally 10-20 people in the ballpark last night,45 minutes before game time,We were talking to the only other collector there with me leaning against the edge of the area (not inside) and Ryan along with Battlin' Bob a few steps inside.
Not far inside,but clearly inside.
An usher was sent down to ask us to leave (she was very nice about it) having been sent down by Director of Sales Drew Himsworth to clear the area.
We did so,but requested to have Himsworth come down and attempt to explain the position of the team.
When he did,he and I discussed it,point and counterpoint, for roughly ten minutes and without getting into minute' detail,I still disagree with their policies and think that it is far from fan friendly,but Himsworth was professional,rational and we shook hands at the conclusion.
Not that anything changed,but they knew where we stood on some of the small things that would be helpful to the Suns to be bit more lenient on.
Besides,I did them a big favor by being our representative.
Battlin Bob was furious and likely would have been far more aggressive on this night!
I would wager the Battler has his own take on this sometime today over at his blog!

Back later with the Pirates loss and Bullpen Notes

Photo Credit
Frownie-Kings Restaurant

Monday, May 19, 2008

Battlin Bob opens mouth,Wieters closes it in one pitch!

Wild game yesterday at Frederick as Battlin Bob,Ryan and I braved the rain,a delay and borderline nausea from me to watch the final first half visit from the Lynchburg Hillcats.

With Mr.Rain falling all night and raining reasonably heavily two hours before game time,it was questionable if the game would even be played.
But we decided to give it a shot and the game was delayed 35 minutes,but that gave us a chance to
chat for a few minutes with Jared Hughes and Eric Krebs through the drizzle.
Jared asked our thoughts on the upcoming drafts and wondered about some of the possible Pirate selection at the second pick and of course we tossed a few names such as Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham,Vanderbilt first sacker Pedro Alvarez and Florida State catcher Buster Posey.
Both Hughes and Krebs confirmed what I have always thought when they both said that they really didn't know much about anything outside of their team and when you even give it a cursory thought,that makes all the sense in the world.
Players are so focused on what they do and their small team bubble that outside of travel time,when would they have time to listen to the online talk and even then that is if they even would want to.
Battlin Bob then began to talk about Captain Dave and Daniel Moskos to the guys and I tried to explain that the Pirate fans really did not have real anger toward Moskos and that it was not about Moskos and that it would have been any player selected in the slot that was not named Matt Wieters.
And that really was not about Wieters,who most of the people raging about him could not have picked him out of a police lineup-it was about the perception that Pittsburgh fans have lived through for years that saving money was more important than attempting to take steps towards winning.
I think they understood or they were too nice to tell me I was full of crap!

The other Hillcat that we always talk to is Mike Crotta and I spoke briefly with Mike and exchanged handshakes,but his time was more limited as he was starting the game against the Keys.I was able to add some autographs during the extra delay as well.

Anyway ,the sun was popping out and the game was on and for three and a half innings it was a slaughter.
In favor of Lynchburg!
Steve Lerud crushed a Jeff Moore fastball for a three run homer in the first inning and Jamie Romak added a two run shot in the third to add to a single run in the fourth for a 6-0 Lynchburg lead!
Lerud looks to be improving in his second Lynchburg stint,but I am not quite ready to give him real prospect status yet,while Romak has little to prove in his second year at Lynchburg and should be challenged at Altoona and soon!
Crotta was cruising along,the lead was large and things were looking up,but the cloud that goes by the name of Matt Wieters was on the horizon to lead off the fourth for the home team.
The wind was reasonably stiff,but it was blowing right to left,in other words the ball was carrying well to left,but poorly to right.
So Wieters then slams a home run to right that cut through the wind and kept on trucking until it was out of sight and the snowball was gathering steam.
The damage didn't seem too bad though after the next two batters exchanged a hit and a out,but Hillcat first baseman Tony Mansolino dropped a routine pop-up (which the Scorer calls a hit,I swear that the games official scorer must have been straight from Teeball) and Crotta lost his poise as every ball off a Key bat was pounded with authority.
Mike would not survive the inning and the lead was on life support at 6-5.
The Keys had batted around and would do the same thing in the following inning.
How often do teams bat around in consecutive innings?
Kyle Pearson walked 4 of the 5 batters that he faced in the fifth and at one time threw 11 balls in a row and 12 balls in 13 pitches and his relief from Charles Benoit was no better as he hit a batter and allowed a run scoring single.
But the game is still 9-6 Frederick with two runners on,get the batter and the game is close,right?
Except the batter is guess who? Wieters.
Benoit gets ahead with a swing and a miss and then Battlin Bob yells "Hey Wieters,way to swing for the fences again!!" with it punctuated with a laugh.
This was roughly akin to saying excuse me,Mr.Jordan,you really clanked that last jumper.
Tempting fate is rarely my bag,but the Battler Bob lives to walk the edge,I suppose.
This time,he tumbled off that edge-two pitches later,BANG!
Long homer to left,3 run shot-game over.
So,Battlin Bob adds another memorable night at the ballpark to his list and I add another topic to the teasing the Battler file!
Note to fans,I can live without getting Wieters to sign his Frederick card,if he leaves for Bowie-TODAY!!!!!

After that mess,the game was pretty much over for the final of 14-8,but we did stick around as after Wieters struck his latest missile,Eric Krebs ran to the clubhouse and I asked him "You aren't going to pitch to him like that are you?"
Eric's reply was "I haven't pitched against this team all year" and then interrupted his jog to the clubhouse with a laugh and "but the way this is going,I'll see them in a minute"!
So we stayed around to see Eric,who has great numbers from the Lynchburg pen with an ERA at exactly 2 after his two flawless innings of work yesterday that saw him face 6 batters,retire all six,strike out the last four of the Keys that he faced and even retire Wieters on a grounder to third.
I only wish that Eric would not have struggled with his injuries,because his stuff is electric and could have been a real top notch starting prospect,but I still see the possibilities of a strong bullpen arm in his future.

All and all,it was great being at the ballpark and a great time was had.
After all,a bad day at the ballpark beats the best day at work...

On the signing front.

I was able to add some of the Lynchburg position players that I missed the first time in,most notably Jim Negrych (Thanks to Battlin Bob for the help there).
Negrych is currently hitting around .350 for the season.

The Keys ran out pitchers Scott Mueller and J.P.Martinez out to sign stuff to kill time during the delay,but didnt give them anything to sign!
A misstep by the usually on the ball Keys staff.
I was able to get Mueller to sign his 07 Aberdeen card and opened my just released 08 Frederick set and had Martinez sign his card from the set.

I really didnt have much for the Kannapolis Intimidators in their only visit to Hagerstown,but was able to add their top two prospects in outfielders Jose Martinez and Sergio Morales.
Both players were rated in the White Sox top ten prospects.
Good thing that I was able to get Martinez on the first night,as he was injured on the first night and was on crutches thereafter.
I also was able to get Jason Rice to sign a few cards.
Jason was in Kannapolis during their 06 visit and I talked quite a bit with him during that series,but I had no cards for him,so we were able to rectify that this time around.

The reason that I had little for Kannapolis is that the White Sox short season team in Great Falls refused to make a 2007 team set and that trickles down.
When I asked them why,the response was "we got tired of having 1000 of them sitting around".
Then print 500 then!!

Photo Credit
Krebs and some other guy:Ryan Heimberger

Can't anyone on this team throw strikes??


This will be a two post day today,so look for another post in the evening.

The struggling starters of the Pittsburgh Pirates continued to have trouble finding the strike zone and when you have problems throwing strikes-trouble usually follows and it did in a 4-3 loss to the Cubs.
Phil Dumatrait walked seven in less than five innings and deservedly was the loser (1-2) in a very winnable game for Pittsburgh.
Adam LaRoche staked the Bucs to a 2-0 lead in the first with a two run homer (5) in the first,but Dumatrait could not keep it as each of the Cubs four runs were scored by runners that had been given free passes by Dumatrait.
LaRoche singled in the Pirate 6th to cut the lead to one run,but the Pirates would get no closer than that.
LaRoche continues his annual May thawing of the bat and finished with all three Pirate RBI's for the day.
Dumatrait and Tom Gorzelanny have shown control problems throughout the season and Ian Snell has even shown them on occasion,so the starters need to quit putting runners on freebies and Jeff Andrews needs to start attempting to address this.
I mean,most teams 5th starters are weak and I dont expect much from Dumatrait,but at least put the ball over the plate!
The Pirates are off today and return to action at home tomorrow against the Brewers.

Bullpen Notes

Jack Wilson continues his rehab assignment as he moves to Altoona for a few games after spending time last week with Indianapolis.
If everything works out,Wilson could be with the team sometime next week.

Brad Lincoln's debut for the Hickory Crawdads was a successful one as he picked up the victory over the Rome Braves in Rome on Sunday.,
Lincoln allowed just 1 run and 4 hits over 5 innings to go with his 3 strikeouts and no walks.

Back later with another post.

Photo Credit
LaRoche-Paul Beaty-AP Photo

Sunday, May 18, 2008

McLouth homer saves the day-Part II !


Nate McLouth took Chicago's Carlos Marmol deep into the famed Wrigley Field basket with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Pirates to a 7-6 win and their first win over the Cubs in their 8 meetings this season.
The homer was McLouth's 12th this year and took the shine off yet another great game by the Cubs Alfonso Soriano,who slammed two more homers among his five hits in yesterdays contest.
The Pirates scored the games first run on a second inning Brian Bixler single,but surrendered the lead with three Cub scores in the bottom of the same slate.
Doug Mientkiewicz's single in the fourth added a Pittsburgh run to cut the lead to 3-2,but Soriano
hit the first of his homers to move the Chicago lead back to two runs.
The Pirates scored three 5th inning run as they used singles by McLouth and Adam LaRoche to produce two runs and an Xavier Nady sac fly added the final run of the inning.
But Soriano's second blast of the game tied the game and drove Pirate starter Zach Duke to the showers with a no decision.
Duke allowed 4 runs and 8 hits while walking1 and fanned four over his stint of six and a third innings.
The games stayed the same until McLouth's homer in the ninth,but the Cubs did get within one one on a RBI single by who else-Alfonso Soriano.
Damaso Marte picked up the win after pitching a scoreless eighth and moved to 3-0 and Matt Capps earned his 10th save of the season,despite allowing a run in his one inning workload.
The series concludes today at 2:20 and the Pirates then get a day off before starting their next homestand on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Phil Dumatrait (1-1 3.96 ERA) at Chicago:Jason Marquis (1-3 5.26 ERA) 2:20

Bullpen Notes

Great time last night at the Muni despite the rain filled final two innings for the Kannapolis Intimidators 6-4 win over the Hagerstown Suns.
The game was uninspired,but Battlin Bob and myself were joined by Mike from Bagofhealthandpolitics and lots of interesting talk that ranged from the future of Richmond baseball to Barack Obama's health care plan and even ranged to why the Suns management is all of a sudden being nice to me!.......
In case,Mike-you are more than welcome anytime!

I wish that I could say something nice about Hagerstown starter Brad Peacock.
He seems like a nice guy (I can hear Battlin Bob laughing now),but every time that we see him pitch,he get hammered all over the yard and trust me on this-Kannapolis is far from the best hitting I have seen.
Hittable pitches combined with walks and wild pitches are no way to go through life,son!

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has finally jumped on our bandwagon on moving the Pirates from the NL Central with no rivalries to a return to the NL East and more games with the hated Phillies.
More games in the East and fewer in the Central time zone makes more games for me to watch and trust me I cannot imagine any of the Central teams missing the Buccos much!
But it seems that Pirate President Frank Coonelly has not done very much leg work on a transfer,instead focusing his energy on making the Pirates interleague (yuck) rivals with the Cleveland Indians (oh NO).
I hate when the two play at all,let alone every year,
I equate those games to picking one of your children to win a game and therefore rooting for the other to lose.

I will be in Frederick,rain permitting, for the Keys game against the visiting Lynchburg Hillcats at 2,so tomorrow will have a report on the Hillcats and reports from the signing front.

Photo Credit
McLouth:Paul Beaty-AP Photo

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gorzelanny gouged as Cubs clout Bucs 7-4.



The game was pretty much over from the first ball that left Tom Gorzelanny's hand as Alfonso Soriano drilled it over the left field wall and it was all downhill from there,as Chicago would score six runs in the first two innings,Soriano homered again in the second and the Cubs cruised to a deceiving 7-4 win at Wrigley Field.
Gorzelanny's anemic effort that saw four balls leave the park off Cub bats was a step back after his last start seemed to show a possible return to 2007 form.
Gorzelanny allowed seven runs on seven hits,walking 2 and striking out three in dropping to 3-4 on the season.
Gorzelanny did appear to have improved control,but his stuff was very hittable as the Cubs continued their domination of the Illinois native this season.
The Cubs have handed the lefty two losses and drove him from the game in under three innings in a no decision in another start.
Jason Bay (9) and Doug Mienkiewicz (1) each homered off Bob Howry in the eighth inning to make the score respectable.
The series continues today in one of those wonderful untelevised Saturday afternoon games that Extra Inning subscribers still cannot see (despite paying for it),so that Fox can shove a Yankee,Met or Red Sox game down your throat.
Message to MLB-I subscribe to your package so I DON'T have to watch those games!

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (2-2 4.04 ERA) at Chicago:Carlos Zambrano (6-1 2.03 ERA) 1:05

Bullpen Notes

2006 Pirate first round selection Brad Lincoln will make his first start since his Tommy John surgery last spring on Sunday for Hickory against Rome.
My hopes for Lincoln this year are modest as it takes usually 2 years after surgery to be back at full capacity.

Overheard at last nights Hagerstown-Kannapolis game-"The main candidates for the Richmond market are AA Erie and Connecticut,High A Kinston and Potomac and Low A Hagerstown."

Keep in mind that the Connecticut Defenders are owned by boxing and mixed martial arts promoter Lou DiBella and he is a New York guy,so despite the Defenders problems at the gate,DiBella may not want to be that far away from the pulse of his franchise.
One would think that Richmond would want to keep the highest level possible,but the money savings that would result from the more geography friendly Carolina League cannot be underestimated.
Stay tuned.

I just went to the game for signatures last night and left.
Between a chilly night,aching knees and being alone-I passed on the game.
Shame on me!

I will do an on the signing front on Monday after what I am able to add from tonight's game in Hagerstown and tomorrows in Frederick.

Until next time

Photo Credit
Gorzelanny:Nam Huh-AP Photo
Lincoln:Dave Arrigo-Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bay blasts homer off bench to lift Pittsburgh to win


Jason Bay stepped off the bench in the eighth inning and slammed a three run homer to complete a Pirate comeback from 3 runs down as the Pirates rallied for an 11-5 win in a getaway game in rainy St.Louis.
The Pirates scored 7 runs on a sloppy surface in the final two innings to cement the victory.
As we watched the game,I thought on two earlier occasions with runners on base that John Russell should have used Bay to pinch hit,but Russell saved Bay for later instead.
Russell was right and I was wrong.
Nate McLouth led the game off with his 11th homer of the season and the Pirates received solid performances from three unusual players as Doug Mientkiewicz and Chris Gomez each collected three hits while Jason Michaels joined Freddy Sanchez with 2 RBI on the day.
Starter Ian Snell struggled in the rainy conditions and was chased after just four innings as he allowed 11 hits and all 5 Cardinal runs.
John Grabow collected the win to improve to 3-1 on the season.
The Pirates travel to Chicago for 3 day games in a row against the Cubs.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (3-3 5.97 ERA) at Chicago: Sean Gallagher (0-0 6.48 ERA) 2:20

Bullpen Notes

The wonderful world of Inter-league play starts today,but the Pirates aren't one of the teams involved.
Good,the fewer of these for the Bucs the better and yes,I really don't care if they play the Yankees or the Red Sox either.

The Cleveland Browns brought former Brown Jereme Perry back to Cleveland with a one year contract.Perry spent last season in Miami and is likely to be a special teams performer.

Ballpark Digest is reporting that a local family is going to be involved with the effort for the new team in Richmond and that it is likely to be pointed at getting a team at the AA level.
Fine with us!

Ballprak Digest also has a rumor floated that Minor League has a schedule ready for 2009 that would send the new Bowling Green Kentucky team (Currently the Columbus Catfish) and the Lake County Captains to the Midwest League.
The move would flip the current 16-14 team ratio in favor of the South Atlantic League to one that would give the higher number to the Midwest circuit.
I would miss seeing the Indians affiliate in town,but I could live with it-IF it meant more teams coming to Hagerstown next season.

One thing that may keep the Bowling Green team in the SAL?
The possibility of a lucrative rivalry with the in-state rivals-the Lexington Legends.
Just a thought.

Photo Credit
Bay:Jeff Roberson-AP Photo

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Random Ramblings




Time for a little thing that we like to call Random Ramblings.

First off,we would like to offer some get well soon to Mike at our neighboring blog-Bag full of Health and Politics.Mike just had surgery,so wanted to toss some get well wishes his way.

Our man in Japan,Brandon Siefken,sends us this very in depth article on the latest Japanese pitching sensation in Yu Darvish.
A very interesting read on a seemingly different type person than the past players that have come stateside from Japanese baseball.
Now if I can just get Brandon to send me a game or two to be able to scout Darvish early,like I was able to look at Daisuke Matuszaka before most!

Battlin Bob sends us a neat piece on the efforts to save at least part of Tiger Stadium from the New York Times.
The preservation group is attempting to raise money to keep the main grandstand and then use the standing part for amateur play.
Tiger Stadium was always one of the cooler places to see a game and it would be terrific if they were able to preserve some of it.
It just would not seem right for a total demolition.

The Hagerstown Suns return to town tomorrow with a two baseball card promotion.
The cards are Chris Marrero and a player that the person I talked to could not recall.
I would guess it will be Justin Maxwell,but it could be one of several players.

Looks like some changes in the 2008 trip are ahead.
Greensboro changed their start time on one date and tossed a wrench into things,so a revamp of games may be ahead.
It could be a good thing though,as plans might help us save some dough on gas.

For those of you that cannot open the MSNBC embedded link from the last post,it is not your PC.
I had forgotten from the last time that I used an MSNBC page that it doesn't allow editing after it is put in.
So I couldn't fix it or edit anything after.
Apologies for the problem.

One signing update as retired slugger Fred McGriff signed through the mail.

Weather permitting,I will be going to two of the four Hagerstown-Kannapolis games and on Sunday,in Frederick for another visit from the Lynchburg Hillcats.
Hope to finish the Hillcats stuff that I was never able to do during the first visit from the Pirates High A team.

And finally,a government study shows that the United States can increase its energy level that provided by wind from its current 1 % to 20 % by 2030.
Sounds good,but it will not be a breeze (no pun intended) to get there.
However,it doesn't get there until we get started.

Photo Credits
Darvish:AP-Kyodo
Tiger Stadium-Fabrizio Constantini-New York Times
Turbines-Unknown

Redbirds cruise over Pirates 5-1,Edwards endorses Obama.



Todd Wellemeyer shut down the Pirates down completely with a bit of help from Rick Ankiel in center and some inept Pittsburgh defense helped St.Louis to a 5-1 win at Busch Stadium.
Wellemeyer only allowed 2 hits over his seven + inning outing and with the exception of one pitch,was able to control the Pirates throughout.
The only chance that Pittsburgh had early was a shot off the bat of Adam LaRoche that appeared to be out the park and give the Bucs the early lead,but Rick Ankiel reached across his body and over the fence to snatch the ball back into the park with a spectacular catch.
The tremendous catch was enough to cancel any hope for Pittsburgh on this night.as the left side of the infield combined to misplay balls that should have been routine outs and gave the Cardinals opportunity after opportunity.
Lord only knows why some of the Bautista and Rivas mistakes were ruled hits and not errors,but regardless,those two were pretty responsible for most of the four runs that hard luck loser Paul Maholm (2-4) allowed in a performance that was actually better than his numbers indicate.
Why Luis Rivas continues to be run out to shortstop and Brian Bixler sits is something that I still don't understand.
Please do not get me wrong,I am not saying Bixler is an answer,just that if you were going to Rivas or Chris Gomez at short then the Bucs could called up Matt Kata to sit and Bixler could play everyday for Indianapolis.
Kata is bad as well,but no worse than what we have seen and makes more sense as a benchwarmer than Bixler.
Sean Burnett pitched a scoreless,but rocky seventh and Marino Salas allowed one run in the eighth.
Nate McLouth was the only Pirate to knock in a run on a bloop 8th inning single that likely should have been caught by St.Louis SS Cesar Izturis.
The Cardinal series ends tomorrow with an afternoon matinee at Busch before the Buccos move to Chicago for three afternoon games against the Cubs at Wrigley.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Ian Snell (2-2 4.53 ERA) at St.Louis:Joel Pineiro (2-2 4.05 ERA) 1:15

John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama last night in Michigan and helped Obama more than one would think of an endorsement at this late date.
The coveted Edwards endorsement comes at a good time for Obama after his huge,but meaningless loss (delegate wise) to Hillary Clinton in West Virginia.
This should take some of the media attention away from the West Virginia primary and onto the endorsement for a day or so and diluting any edge that Clinton could gain from her victory.
Now,here is hoping that Obama will select Edwards as his running mate.


Bullpen Notes

The Pirates placed Ryan Doumit on the disabled list after his fracturing his left thumb in Tuesday's game.
Doumit is expected to miss roughly a month and the Pirates called up veteran Raul Chavez from Indianapolis to replace him on the roster and backup Ronny Paulino.
The light hitting veteran will likely play little,so get ready for a heavy dose of "Joggin Ronny".

The Pirates also managed to keep Evan Meek in the organization by sending Tampa an undisclosed amount of cash and was then allowed to send Meek to the minors.
No word on whether his destination will be Indianapolis or Altoona.

The Cleveland Browns released veteran corner Kenny Wright.
This was an expected move after Wright's police problems in early April in his native Texas.
Wright plays a position of need for the Browns,but backups do not have the luxury of being able to get into trouble that makes the team look bad.

Photo Credits
Ankiel:Jeff Roberson-AP Photo
Edwards/Obama:Mark Wilson-Getty Images

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bucs ground Birds 8-4 in ten innings!



The Pirates used a four run 10th inning to break a 4-4 tie and drop the St.Louis Cardinals 8-4 in the beginning game of the six day road trip.
Ronny Paulino's two run single gave the Pirates the lead and Adam LaRoche's following double added the four runs to the Pittsburgh total.
Nate McLouth fourth inning homer (10) gave the Pirates a 2-0 and after the Cardinals grabbed the lead back 3-2,a Paulino double scored two and handed the lead back to Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals tied the game in the eighth on the backs of a long (and I mean LONG) homer by Albert Pujols off John Grabow.
Marino Salas won his first game in his big league debut (1-0) as he survived the ninth without allowing a run despite walking three birds.
Salas was bought from Indianapolis earlier in the day as the Buccos demoted John Van Benschoten back to the I-Tribe.
Phil Dumatrait pitched reasonably well for five innings before allowing three runs in the sixth,but allowed only four hits over his work evening.

The downside of the evening thought was the loss of Ryan Doumit to a broken finger,which leads us to wondering this-Which Paulino are Pirates fans going to get,the guy that looked OK in 2006 or "Joggin Ronny"?
For the Pirates to continue to compete in the division,Paulino is going to have to pick up some of the slack that has been lost with the hot bat of Doumit and I am not sure that he can't do that at all,let alone if the lackluster player of 2007 arrives.

On Monday,the Buccos split a doubleheader with Atlanta,as the Pirates stretched their winning streak to six by winning Game 1 5-0 before the streak was snapped by a 8-1 Bravo win in the nightcap.
Neither game was televised,so since I could not watch the game,I stayed in bed and used the time to sleep!
Zach Duke tossed six shutout frames in Game One in moving to 2-2 on the season,despite walking five Braves.
Freddy Sanchez cleared the bases with a three run double in the fourth inning for all the runs that would be needed and Adam LaRoche added a two run homer (4) with a two run shot in the eighth inning.

John Van Benschoten was shelled in his spot start (0-2) in being chased with 7 runs (6 earned) in four innings of Game 2.
The start was an opportunity for JVB,but likely not a fair one after being used totally in relief since his recall from Indianapolis.
No Pirate RBI in the game as the only run was scored on a Brave error.

The Cardinal series resumes tonight by the Gateway Arch.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Paul Maholm (2-3 4.79 ERA) at St.Louis:Todd Wellemeyer (3-1 3.56 ERA) 8:15

Bullpen Notes

Jack Wilson begins his rehab at Altoona on Wednesday.
Look for Wilson to be back in Pittsburgh early week and for Brian Bixler to be assigned to Indianapolis.

I will be serving as the Pirates scouting director for the mock draft at Minor League Ball.
Feel free to go over and offer any opinions or thoughts to me.
This is the second year in a row that I have been the Pirate representative and I hope to improve on last years showing,which has been hurt by the hand injury to my top pick there-Josh Vitters.

I will also do the Pirate shadow draft here after the actual draft.
That draft is looking much better for me and would have been better for the Pirates as well.

Minor League Baseball officials visited Richmond over the last two days to look at the facilities etc and consider what level of baseball that is best suited for the city.
Teams from AA,High A and Low A(Hagerstown) have all been rumored as interested in the Virginia capital.

Many states are slowly beginning to attempt to allow abandoned and hard to reach oil wells to return to production.
None of these places are going to produce enough crude oil to solve the problem,but whatever one can pull out of the ground is not going to hurt anyone.

Photo Credits
McLouth:Bill Boyce-AP Photo
Duke:Don Wright-AP Photo