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The Bleacher Bums: May 27, 2005 Archive

Shows what I know.

Posted at 12:57 AM on May 27, 2005 by Josh Lee

It figures: as soon as I complain about J.C. Romero's habit of failing to get the job done when inheriting runners, he goes out and pitches a gem of an inning, getting two strikeouts and a flyout to rescue the Twins from a seventh-inning meltdown. It still took four more innings and a homer by Shannon Stewart to put the Indians away, but on this night at least, the Twins inability to finish games in a timely manner couldn't be blamed on Romero.

Maybe if I complain about some other bad habits of the Twins -- like leaving runners on base (only nine last night!) or failing to communicate in center/left field while chasing down fly balls (two nights in a row they messed up the play!) -- they'll fix those problems as well. Knock on wood.

Bring 'em back

Posted at 9:53 AM on May 27, 2005 by Ben Tesch

ESPN.com is having a bit of fun with Rickey Henderson's return to baseball — did I mention he's old? — and has a fun article on other seasoned veterans they would like to see come back. Do you have any favorites that have character (and perhaps still the talent) that you want to see back in the big leagues?

Wasted

Posted at 11:21 AM on May 27, 2005 by David Zingler

In the summer of 1999, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released. It featured a young, gifted child named Anakin Skywalker. Anointed the “chosen one”, his future seemed limitless; he held the entire galaxy in the palm of his hand. That same summer the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected an 18-year-old outfielder named Josh Hamilton with the first overall pick in the amateur draft.

Hamilton was the All-American boy, described in Sports Illustrated as “handsome, with chiseled features, blue eyes, and a short crop of light brown hair that never seems out of place.” At 6-4, 205 lbs, Hamilton had a sweet, left-handed swing, registered 96 mph on the radar gun with his golden left arm and roamed the outfield with effortless grace. Throw in a $3.9 million signing bonus, and the world seemed to be his.

Fast forward to the present, the recently released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is all the rage. An adult Anakin Skywalker, consumed with arrogance and the lust for power, alienates all the people who care about him, succumbs to the “Dark Side” and ends up a freakish cyborg.

Hamilton meanwhile, has spent the last six years doing everything possible to throw his once promising future away. Directionless and immature, Hamilton chose a path laden with drugs and cheap thrills. The once clean-cut, All-American boy’s body is now covered in grotesque tattoos.

On May 21, after reportedly remaining clean and sober for six months, the 24-year-old was arrested for destroying the rearview mirror and smashing the windshield of a family friend's pickup truck after an argument. Predictably, alcohol was involved in the incident.

Hamilton, who hasn’t appeared in a pro game since 2002, has been on a drug related suspension since February 2004 and had hoped to be reinstated by mid season. Now, that is in jeopardy.

"To see what's happened is really disheartening," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella told the St. Petersburg Times. "But again, he's still young. I know I've asked about him many times, and I've really been hoping Josh would get his life together and get back in baseball and give himself another good, legitimate chance."

"(The latest incident) doesn't make it easier, but he still has some time. But the clock is ticking."

Ballclub poodles

Posted at 1:15 PM on May 27, 2005 by Bob Collins (5 Comments)

It is with only a bit of jealously that I note that BatGirl is featured in this week's Rake magazine. She is truly an amazing writer and the give-and-take and participation with the readers is, as Brad Zellar points out, the envy of many a political blog.

But there was a note in there that gave me a moment of fright; Batgirl is read by Ron Gardenhire and most of the players. My first reaction was "holy smokes, what if they click a link to this blog and find out I said Shannon Stewart has a lousy arm?" This was followed mere seconds later by two thoughts: (1) they won't and (2) so what if they do?

However, the fact I was momentarily concerned goes a long way toward explaining why local baseball writers in almost every town -- including this one -- stink so much. They're afraid the people they cover every day will find out what they said. And they're afraid that asking the questions we baseball fans have when we're watching decisions made in the game will upset them.

So they don't.

And I'm not talking Sid Hartmann here. I'm not from here originally so I don't get the Sid Hartmann vibe. I think his stuff is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with just cause clauses in union contracts. I'm talking about regular beat writers.

Allow me to use an example and I'll pick an out of market case just in case the local scribes are, you know, reading this (love ya, guys!)

A week ago in Cleveland, Jake Westbrook, who is the closest example of how a few bad games really mask the kind of season you're having (look at the game log), was pitching a fairly typical marvelous game against the Los Angeles-Anaheim-Disney-30 degrees N latitude-40 degrees west longitude Angels.

He took a two-hit shutout into the 9th inning. He'd thrown just-under 100 pitches and his team was leading 1-0 (it is now illegal in Cuyahoga County, Ohio for the Indians to score more than 3 runs in a game).

OK, you tell me. What would any manager do here? I submit he'd do one of the following.

-1- Thank Jake for 8 innings of great work and turn the game over to the bullpen, which just happens to be rated the best in the American League.

-2- Send Jake to the mound but have your closer warming up.

Manager Eric Wedge, who would be considered a decent manager if he weren't dead from the neck up when it comes to matters of baseball, did neither. He sent Westbrook out and he had his closer, Bob Wickman, sitting on his robust tukus.

Westbrook got the first out, but Adam Kennedy singled after working Westbrook to a full count. Not a creature stirred in the Indians bullpen. That's your tying run, folks.

Westbrook was now over 100 pitches. On the first pitch, Chone Figgins singled.

Now Wedge awoke from his deep slumber, having been kissed apparently by a beautiful princess or hitting coach Eddie Murray. Wickman starts to warm up.

Pitching coach Carl Willis, a former Twin, buys some time by running to the mound, and then running back to the dugout.

Westbrook then gave up a first-pitch single to Darrin Erstad. One run scores -- tie game-- Figgins scores, Angels up 2-1.

Wedge takes Westbrook out and brings in, well, it doesn't really matter now does it?

Indians, mindful of the Cuyahoga County authorities, go out 1-2-3.

Ballgame.

After the game, the scribes gather around Wedge, who reeks of Eddie Murray's cologne, but I digress. And Wedge offers this up:

"you've got to give Jake a chance to win the game in that situation."

Oh, so many follow-up questions to ask. One that occurs to me is, well, why? followed by did you know that if Wickman comes into the game and saves it, Westbrook gets credit for the win?

But nobody asked that question. Not the Cleveland Plain Dealer, not the radio folks, not ESPN (which featured the comeback). Nothing. Nobody.

Why? I think it's because they're afraid of making angry, the very people who read their material.

Are you listening, Sid?


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