THE MEAT OF THE ORDER
Every week there are three things I deem to be really important. It's kind of like the "meat" of my lineup. This week, there is only two because my DH is on the disabled list.
1. Zach Duke isn’t plunking anyone.
This whole “unwritten rule” thing has gone far enough. We are talking about these things way too much for them to be “unwritten” at this point. So let’s start calling them “The unwritten but often spoken of” rules of baseball.
Zach Duke didn’t hit any Dodgers with his fastball after Andrew McCutchen hit a home run and “sort of” showboated around second. Rookie Carlos Monasterios replied by hitting both Lastings Milledge and Ronny Cedeno. Or did he? Truth is we don’t know.
Then Ramon Ortiz tried to cut McCutchen’s hair off a few times, much to McCutchen’s displeasure.
Duke didn’t do anything about it, even when he faced Ortiz. Jack Taschner did though and he threw behind Andre Ethier. That’s just stupid in its own right, but let’s continue.
First off, Zach Duke is your best pitcher and has probably been your only pitcher this season, why do you want him chancing a suspension because a few people on the Dodgers got offended by McCutchen?
This is one of those “unwritten but often spoken of” rules that I disagree with because if a pitcher doesn’t want to hit a batter, he shouldn’t be expected to. This isn’t high school; we don’t get angry at someone and retaliate in a petty way like that.
Maybe that’s because I never played the game before, so I might not understand the significance, but I view it all as silly.
This all being said, Jason Turbow has a book coming out called The Baseball Codes . I think you already know what it’s about.
2. Milton Bradley
This Milton Bradley story has gone from explosively hilarious to positively sad. Trying to peg when and why Bradley would blow up almost became like a game.
But now with Bradley asking for help, something long overdue, and it has now become sad more than anything.
The latest issue was downright hilarious. Never in the history of the world has someone been upset about hitting clean up. Okay he was probably upset at failing in the clean spot, but because it is Milton, we have to stretch things out a little here.
Either way it caused him to get benched and he promptly left the stadium. Fantastic Milton, fantastic!
However Bradley is now out of commission for who knows how long. He's asked the Mariners for “help” in dealing with what manager Don Wakamatsu called “emotional stress.”
Is this a personal problem or is this a baseball problem? With Bradley, we’ll probably never know. What we can all agree on though is that Bradley has needed help for a long time now and the Mariners efforts are long overdue. We all know though that Milton can’t get help unless he wants to be helped, and just the fact that he asked for it may be the turning point for him that people have been counting on for awhile now.
3. Get off my lawn…err…MOUND!
Before the story with Milton Bradley got bigger, I had planned on making him my rant this week. When that story got more involved I moved Dallas Braden into that spot.
But after his perfect game, I’m pretty much rant-less. Braden was talking again, about the whole “Get off my mound” fiasco with Alex Rodriguez.
Now, none of that matters because he literally yelled “GET OFF MY MOUND!” when he pitched a perfect game against the MLB’s best team on Sunday.
We’ve already talked plenty about unwritten rules earlier in The Cluster, but did you see Evan Longoria drop down a bunt well into the game? It came at a point where you could legitimately say it was kind of rubbish on Longoria’s part.
But then again it was only the fifth and they were down four, so Longo straddled that unwritten rule line.
Anyway congratulations to Dallas Braden, who’s mother passed away when he was in high school. His grandmother was in attendance and I’m sure Braden got very emotional over doing this feat on Mother’s Day.
On the lighter side, his grandmother provided probably one of the best quotes of the year by saying , “Stick it, A-Rod!”
Oh how I hope that is true.
How about the Rays though? Two perfect games in such a short span, adding in Mark Buerhle’s perfect game against them last year. They are also the team with the highest winning percentage to ever fall victim to a perfect game.
THAT'S JUST WEIRD MAN
Baseball never has a shortage of weird and wacky statistics or situations. These are those situations. Cue the Law and Order chime.
Are you ready for a baseball game in 3-D? Of course the New York Yankees and the YES network are at the forefront of such a thing.
July 10th will be your chance to see the Mariners and Yankees if you have a 3-D television set. At least Yankee Stadium’s scoreboard won’t show the game and hand out glasses like the Cowboys did last year.
Teams in the minor leagues are usually busting out wacky promotions in order to drive fans to the ballparks, but this one by the Round Rock Express in Texas takes the cake. It was really a promotion, but to someone in the crowd it might have looked like Round Rock was actually bringing in a reliever by the name of Rojo Johnson.
Perhaps Rojo Johnson should be relegated back to the softball league he came from. He’d still be no match for Eric Byrnes, who was released by Seattle this past week. Instead of seeking out another major league job, which he could definitely obtain, Byrnes is opting to play softball.
He’s going to go down as a softball legend if he plays long enough.
Has anyone ever seen someone get fined for dropping a pop up? That’s what happened to Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Manager Trey Hillman says it is mainly because Betancourt doesn’t use proper technique in catching fly balls and instead of making him learn the right way, he’ll just fine him every time he drops a ball like that.
At least that is what was implied .
Finally, I have nothing on this Phillie fan that got tased. I really don’t, so we’ll just leave it at that. It was weird, man.
YOUR LUKE HOCHEVAR UPDATE
Every week we look at Luke Hochevar because a first round pick needs pressure, even if he plays for Royals.
Last Week's Line: 2 GS, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R (4 ER), 8 BB, 4 K
Well our guy did a great job in the Royals 7-2 win over Chicago, going six and picking up his third win of the season.
But then on Sunday against Texas, Luke Hochevar ran into some problems in the third inning. It was a bit of a disaster. Hochevar got through the first two innings of the Royals loss to Texas, but he was all sorts of wild in the third.
An infield single and two walks would be followed by a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly. That sort of minimized the damage, until Hochever hit Ian Kinsler, who then stole second after Josh Hamilton stole third and then gave up a double to David Murphy.
That WHIP is climbing Luke, time to reel it in buddy.
I'M A STAT MAN
I'm not really a big statistics guy, but I guess it's better than being a scat man, because I don't know what that is.
Joe Mauer is getting back into the lineup, but not even he got off to the start Wilson Ramos, his replacement, has gotten off to. Ramos had two consecutive three-hit games, the first catcher to do so. No catcher has gone three straight games since Victor Martinez in 2005 and according to Baseball Reference, Carlton Fisk is the only catcher to go four games.
More kudos to Baseball Reference for finding out something I wondered myself. Andre Ethier has been the most clutch hitter since 2008. After his walk-off shot this past week he’s now got 11 game ending hits since 2008, and the next most is Kurt Suzuki with five.
Joe Torre said he can’t recall managing someone as heroic as Ethier has been.
Friday was a special day in the game as we saw both the old and the young make history.
Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to record a complete game shutout. Back in 1990 he was with Texas in his fifth major league season, which was the same year Starlin Castro was born.
Castro became the first 1990’s born player to make his MLB debut and that makes even a child of the late 1980’s feel old. Not only did he just make his debut, he made his debut special. He became the third player to homer this year in his first at-bat and he also set a MLB record for the most RBI in a debut with six.
Speaking of shutouts, sort of, Fan Graphs has developed a few new statistics called “shutdowns” and “meltdowns.” I’m far from understanding what either does because it involves another statistic I’ve never heard of called WPA.
Don’t even try to explain to me what any of them do. I will not listen to you.
When is the last time a Cy Young award winner started the follow season 0-5? I can’t find an instance going back to 1990, but Greinke is on the verge of doing it as he now stands at 0-4. The last pitcher to start 0-4 was Bartolo Colon in 2006 in what was an injury riddled season.
I’m sure Elias will dig something up if he does indeed go 0-5 this week.
I don’t know if Elias found this one out but Alfredo Aceves is the fifth Mexican-born pitcher to record a save on Cinco de Mayo.
The Twins had a home game rained out for the first time in 30 years on Friday. The Twins probably thought it never rained in Minnesota.
THE UTILITY PLAYER
For all the stuff that defies categorization, this is the utility player of the weekly feature. We play everywhere and anywhere here!
I actually have some analysis for you this week in regards to the utility player, so buckle up.
Jake Peavy has turned the calendar over to May in a big way, and he’s now 2-2 after a 0-2 month that saw him get pounded for 25 runs. So far in two May starts he’s gone at least seven innings and struck out eight in both games. This is the reason I picked the White Sox in the AL Central.
In large part, Peavy’s latest success is due to revamped mechanics, or at least a return to old mechanics, you know the mechanics that he won a Cy Young with. Peavy had changed the way he pitched during his stint in Chicago last year and actually stuck with it early this season, but now he’s back to the ways of old.
Mike Lowell isn’t the exact reason I picked the Red Sox, but his presence and that deep Red Sox bench is a big reason I picked them. It’s time to start playing Mike Lowell more for David Ortiz. You can’t sit Youkilis and Adrian Beltre, so the next logical guy is Big Papi. Lowell has hit right-handers real well this season, while left-handed Ortiz has scuffled to a .175 average in 57 at-bats against righties.
On the subject of third baseman, Alex Gordon may not be one anymore as the Royals have not only demoted him to Triple-A, but have moved him to first base and outfield duties. Oh how the mighty, highly-touted prospects have fallen.
Speaking of getting moved, C.J. Wilson has really taken to this rotation role the Rangers have thrust upon him. Last year it was Scott Feldman getting moved, now Wilson has done is admirably.
Wezen-Ball tracks how fast players run around the base after hitting a home run. Rosales has the quickest trots around the bases that were not inside-the-park home runs this season and two are even faster than an Aubrey Huff inside-the-park home run.
Henry Blanco and Rod Barajas didn’t have to run all that fast but I’m sure they wanted to after sending the Giants away with two-straight walk-off home runs this past weekend. When’s the last time two catchers did that?
Buck Showalter called out scorekeepers and their inconsistencies in deciding what an error is and what isn’t. I must echo his thoughts as I saw Matt LaPorta make a horrible play on a ball Fausto Carmona gave up last week. LaPorta got a glove on it and it was far from a routine play, but the ball bounced in and out of his glove after he spun around like a whirling-dervish.
Finally I must say how I proud I am of my fake brother Jody Gerut as he hit for the cycle this past weekend. The cycle is pretty meaningless in the scope of things, the four hits and runs you knock in mean a lot more, but Jody Gerut did it, so that’s all that matters.
"HE'S GARBAGE, STILL GARBAGE, GOING TO DIE AS GARBAGE"
The above is Ozzie Guillen's feelings towards columnist Jay Mariotti. It is the representation for The Cluster’s section on weekly rants.
Both of the rants, as I noted, that I pinpointed have been moved to top stories, so I’m sort of rantless this week.
But I do have to wonder.
Where are all the manager tirades? It’s May and we haven’t had any spectacular f-bomb laced tirades from Ozzie Guillen. Lou Piniella has popped off, but nothing like the old Sweet Lou. Heck usually some lesser candidate for a managerial tirade has always stepped up and provided us with entertainment.
The best “rant” has come from a commentator on SportsTimeOhio, the Indians television network. For me, I see it on a daily basis because this is nothing new from Bruce Drennan, but his imitation of Russell Branyan is spot on.
AWAY FROM THE DIAMOND
Everything from Rasmus girl to the latest commercials, this is your weekly update about things that really have nothing to do with baseball on the field.
Bobby Cox was honored at the US Capitol last week and presented with congressional statements of honor by Georgia’s senators. How many managers hang around that long to be honored in that sort of way by non-baseball people? You got to love Bobby Cox.
The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has a feature on Carlos Peña and they quote Carl Crawford with the following statement: "This core group is going to still be together, me and Carlos are the only two guys that are going to be leaving."
Crawford is upset at the author of the article however, Ben Reiter. He said Reiter didn’t quote him right and he “combined” the words of his question with the response given by Crawford.
I’d be irritated as well if that isn’t what I said, even if Reiter believes he was “giving away more than he should.”
We have a winner in the MLB 2k10 “Pitch a Perfect Game” contest. Who is the pitcher that was used? Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami, who is winless in real life. The rules specified all sorts of different regulations, but Wade McGilberry won the million with a Brave despite being a White Sox fan.
I threw a one-hitter the other day with Adam Wainwright. He’s my go-to guy. I have the Wii though so I was ineligible from the start.
A new feature added to The Cluster this week. I call it, “The Tweet of the Week.”
Some major league tweeters are entertaining and weird, like CJ Wilson. Some update as if most of the people following them don’t follow baseball (I KNOW your pitching Thursday Ryan Rowland-Smith, you're on my fantasy team! (not really)!), and some are straight up, uh…brief ?
This week’s tweet of the week goes to growing favorite of The Cluster, Matt Antonelli, who made it last week thanks to his nerf basketball video.
“Today was my first time watching the television show "Kendra" and I am extremely frightened now”
I felt the same way Matt, double time for “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Finally the baseball world lost two well known names this past week. Everyone has been talking about the passing of Ernie Harwell, but pitcher Robin Roberts also passed this past week.
What’s not nice, but great in a different instance, is how we are celebrating the life of Harwell because we all knew this was coming sooner rather than later. Harwell was battling cancer and had really lived a full-life. While it is sad for all the Tiger fans that grew up on Harwell (and there are plenty of them) there is also some joy in hearing their memories of him.
It’s better to celebrate a life than mourn one and that’s what has been going on with Harwell this past week.
GOOD DEED OF THE WEEK
Because we aren't all fun and games, I highlight one good deed that I've come across in the world of baseball. If you know of one, please send it my way.
Usually we highlight charity and good organizations in this space of The Cluster every week, but this week it is a little different.
The finding and returning of a championship ring is certainly a good deed. It is real refreshing to see there are young people in my generation with decency like this out there. It makes me feel a lot better that someone can lose something like this and get it returned.
Not only that but the effort the girl went through, that's just awesome.
AND THIS WEEK IN THE CENTRAL
Every week we take a look at the latest happening in one of the game’s Central divisions. Why? Because it provides us with the most entertainment, that’s why!
There is a story in ESPN the Magazine this week about Kyle Farnsworth and how he’s the “Baddest Big Leaguer,” and the last guy a major league wants to see in a benches clearing brawl.
The horrifying part of this is the picture of Farnsworth with his shirt off. Was that really necessary in proving he’s the “Baddest Big Leaguer?”
FOR THE LOVE OF GLOVE
Each week I pick my top three defensive plays, because Ozzie Smith didn't make the Hall of Fame for swinging the stick.
This week simply boiled down to the flashy play. There was no shortage of them this week.
3. Not only is this play by Dioner Navarro not easy to make, it is ten times harder when David Price is HURDLING OVER YOU!
2. Jerry Hairston wins for the most creative out recorded this week, that’s for sure.
Nino Colla writes "The Baseball Cluster" every week, or so he hopes. If you've got something that you think fits one of the sections, send him a private message. All absurdities are welcome.