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It's All About the Pitching
Baseball Quiz: While it is way too early to legitimately project how many extra base hits the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez will end up with, 13 in 13 games is pretty strong. Babe Ruth holds the all-time mark with 119 in 1921 and Lou Gehrig is next at 117 in 1927. Since 2000, only four players have had 100 XBHs in a season. Name the only one to do it twice. Answer below.
Kansas City 11-3
The Mets are 8-0 at home, nine wins in a row (first time since 2008), best start since 1986; a rather good year. And I still say it’s all smoke and mirrors. They have just nine home runs (one of seven teams in baseball with less than 10) and their lineup just isn’t that good.
But they have outstanding starting pitching for sure. And the Mets, with the fourth-lowest team ERA at 2.85, also have walked only 27 in 123 innings. [Kansas City has walked 26 in 124.]
More impressively, the Mets’ staff has a major-league second-best K/BB ratio of 4.37 (major-league average 2.65...the Dodgers are at 4.81).
And the Mets top three starters just don’t issue walks.
Jacob deGrom...19.1 innings, 3 BB 17 SO
Bartolo Colon...20 innings, 1 BB 18 SO
Matt Marvey...18 innings, 1 BB 24 SO
The Mets have been dealing with injuries and/or suspensions, yet the team hasn’t lost with David Wright on the shelf with a hamstring injury. Closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended 80 games for PED use. They just lost lefty specialist Jerry Blevins for at least two months. And they lost starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud for probably 5 weeks (including a rehab stint).
But on Tuesday, the Mets’ new catcher, major prospect Kevin Plawecki, was called up to play every day with d’Arnaud out and he went 2 for 4 in his major league debut while playing a solid game behind the plate.
--Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports: “The Angels have mapped out a comeback regimen for Josh Hamilton, under which the troubled outfielder could rejoin the team in early June.
“Under the tentative plan, Hamilton would report to the Angels’ Arizona training complex for two to three weeks of work with the team’s extended spring program. He would then proceed to a minor league rehabilitation assignment and could rejoin the Angels thereafter.
“Hamilton is expected to report to Arizona ‘sooner rather than later,’ according to a person familiar with the plan....
“The plan does not guarantee that Hamilton plays again for the Angels, but at the least it buys time for owner Arte Moreno. If Hamilton appears sound enough that his presence on the roster could give the Angels their best chance to win, the players might be discouraged if Moreno lets Hamilton go.”
The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million through 2017. Bill Shaikin reports there are no active settlement discussions between the two parties. But the rehabilitation assignment could be a way to showcase Hamilton to see if anyone else is interested in acquiring him, at which point the Angels would obviously have to pick up a major share of the contract.
Tuesday, the team announced Hamilton would report to Arizona this week.
--Reds manager Bryan Price made a total ass of himself on Monday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Price was upset with the paper’s report on Sunday that catcher Devin Mesoraco was not available to pinch-hit during Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. During Monday’s meeting, after television cameras had left and about 10 reporters remained in the visiting manager’s office at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Price asked Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans why he reported the information.
“Well, as a fan, I’m wondering, here’s a spot for Devin Mesoraco, why isn’t he there?” Rosecrans replied, according to his transcript.
According to Rosecrans’ unofficial tally, the five-minute, 34-second expletive-filled tirade that followed included 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).
Rosecrans had also reported the Reds had called up catcher Tucker Barnhart when they flew on the same plane to St. Louis on Friday. Price was upset Rosecrans broke the news before he could tell backup catcher Kyle Skipworth he was being sent down.
“We don’t need to know that Tucker Barnhart’s in the f---g airport when we haven’t spoken to Kyle Skipworth. I think we owe that f---g kid the right to be called and told that he’s going to be sent down as opposed to reading that Tucker Barnhart is on his way from Louisville. I just...I don’t get it. I don’t get why it’s got to be this way. Has it always been this way where we just tell f---g everybody everything? So every f---g opponent we have has to know exactly what we have. Which f---g relievers are available, .... It’s nobody’s f---g business. It’s certainly not the opponent’s business. We have to deal with this f---g bulls--t.”
It gets worse...and worse...and worse...five more paragraphs worth, to be exact.
Price could not have been more of a, err, you know....jerk. I mean poor Rosecrans was simply doing his job!
And so we hereby put Reds manager Bryan Price in the December file for “Jerk of the Year” consideration. For him not to win will take a truly jerkoic effort. [Kind of like that word I just came up with.... “Jerkoic.” That’s my contribution to Merriam-Webster’s.]
--Should the Miami Marlins not get their act together quickly, the story is they might replace manager Mike Redmond with Mets triple-A skipper Wally Backman.
--Atlanta Braves reliever Andrew McKirahan became the latest to be suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball following a positive test for PEDs. He was cited for Ipamorelin, which releases growth hormone.
The 25-year-old lefty has a 4.15 ERA in three appearances.
So that’s the fifth pitcher suspended this year for PED use.
--As I noted last time, Pete Rose is returning to baseball as an analyst with Fox, but once again former commissioner Fay Vincent is speaking out, saying this is all Rose deserves...that he should not be formally reinstated; as Rose has applied for with new commissioner Rob Manfred.
Vincent told the New York Daily News: “I keep saying that this baseball issue has nothing to do with Pete Rose. It has to do with whether baseball wants to keep a deterrent in place. Rose is one of the few who made a mistake of gambling on the game, and there is no reason to change that deterrent.”
Vincent doesn’t think Manfred will lift the ban. “If baseball is smart, it will leave everything the way it is.”
--I’ve written in the past of one of my great childhood memories as a Mets fan, Wed., April 22, 1970. Mets vs. the Padres. I lived less than a 10-minute walk from my elementary school and that day, right after school let out at 3:00 p.m., I tore home to catch Tom Seaver. I ended up seeing quite an historic contest, the day Seaver fanned a then-record 19 Padres (tying Steve Carlton, who had struck out 19 Mets the year before, famously, in a losing effort as Ron Swoboda hit two, 2-run homers off Lefty), including a still-record last 10 in a row as the Mets won 2-1. [In case you’re wondering, I was home by 3:10 and since afternoon games in those days started at 2:05, I caught most of it.]
So this is the 45th anniversary of this contest. 45 years! Yikes. I was reminded of this fact in a piece written by Craig Muder for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Forty-five years ago this week, with one out in the top of the sixth inning, Cito Gaston of the San Diego Padres hit a Tom Seaver pitch into the glove of the New York Mets’ Art Shamsky in right field.
“Ten batters later, no other San Diego batter had managed to hit another fair ball against the New York ace. And when the game was over, Seaver walked off the Shea Stadium mound with 19 strikeouts and a National League pitching masterpiece.”
It’s pretty incredible no one else has ever fanned 10 in a row. Roger Clemens (twice) and Kerry Wood both struck out 20 in a nine-inning game, but neither touched Seaver’s record.
Trivia: Who did Seaver fan twice in the 10-man streak? Al Ferrara, who had accounted for the Padres’ only run with a home run in the second.
--Robert Edward Auctions is holding a seasonal auction you can look up online and I’ve been following bidding on a “T206” Honus Wagner card. With bidding ending April 25, the last I saw was a bid of $950,000. A Mickey Mantle rookie card was attracting $45,000.
The highest for a T206 Wagner card, of which there are somewhere between 50 and 75 in existence, was $2.8 million sold privately in 2007.
--Baseball America College Poll (4/20)
2. Texas A&M
15. Missouri State
16. Dallas Baptist
19. Florida Atlantic
20. College of Charleston
*Wake Forest (23-19, 9-12 ACC) was recently swept by Louisville, but two of the losses were by 6-5 scores.
This Deacon moment was brought to you by Coors Light.
--The NFL released its schedule and my Jets are lucky they don’t have to face former coach Rex Ryan and his Buffalo Bills, at Buffalo, until the final game of the regular season, Jan. 3. Rex and the Bills come to MetLife Stadium on Nov. 12 for a Thursday night contest.
The NFL season kicks off with Pittsburgh playing at New England, Sept. 10.
The three Thanksgiving games are Philadelphia at Detroit, Carolina at Dallas and Chicago at Green Bay – with the Packers planning to honor quarterback Brett Favre that day.
“Tim Tebowspent time with quarterback guru Tom House supposedly fixing his wind-up throwing motion, so now the Philadelphia Eagles think he can play?
“Did they forget the part where playing quarterback requires processing information at unreal speeds? Tebow can’t do that. He never could. Yet the Eagles are poised to sign him.... Good for Tebow, who hasn’t played an NFL game since 2012, for continuing to chase his dream.
“Fix that elongated motion all you want, but that’s not the major issue. It isn’t even the accuracy, which is downright awful at 47.9 percent for his career. The biggest problem is his inability to come to the line, recognize things and then operate as a quarterback. In Denver, when he won a playoff game by some miracle, he didn’t do much of that. Team sources have told me that.
“The playbook was simplified. Tebow still struggled big-time once the ball was snapped.
“Now Chip Kelly, the new president of the CAC – Coaches Arrogance Club – thinks he can bring Tebow in and make it work. Why? What can he do? The word is he’s being brought in as a quarterback, not to play another position. Unlike many, I don’t think he could move to another position anyway. Like most, I don’t think he can play quarterback in the NFL – even in Kelly’s system.
[The Eagles now have five quarterbacks on the roster – Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, GJ Kinne and Tebow.]
--Carson City, California’s City Council approved a $1.7 billion stadium project for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. So, coupled with a previously approved $1.86 billion project for Inglewood (St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s proposal), NFL owners will begin debating today in New York which one, if any, will be approved. No clue when a final decision will be reached as local officials in San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis still have a say on whether their teams leave or stay.
--Former long-time Chicago Bears linebacker Doug Buffone died of natural cause at his Chicago home. He was 70.
Buffone played from 1966-79 and any football fan of that era certainly remembers him. He was solid, tying for second most tackles in franchise history, including at least 100 in seven seasons.
Buffone was selected in the fourth round of the 1966 NFL draft out of Louisville. He retired after the ’79 season with 24 career interceptions to lead all Bears linebackers. According to Bears media guides he also had 10 fumble recoveries and 37 sacks.
Buffone was the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, growing up in Yatesboro, Pa. [I thought I knew Pennsylvania well but had to look this one up. It is in the sticks, that’s for sure. But DiMaio’s Ristorante looks like the place for pizza and beer.]
Former Bears tight end and coach Mike Ditka said of Buffone, “He was a great player and a great friend. I have nothing but great memories about him. Doug was a Bear. Besides being a hell of a football player, he was a hell of a guy.”
Buffone’s achievements were overshadowed by the guy next to him, Dick Butkus, and I was shocked to see Buffone never made the Pro Bowl.
--And Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair died. He was 84. A 6’9” right tackle known for his speed and toughness, St. Clair was a third-round draft pick by San Francisco in 1953 who went on to play in five Pro Bowls.
“St. Clair played for the University of San Francisco’s unbeaten 1951 team that took a stand against racism. He was one of eight future NFL players on the team who chose not to accept an invitation to a bowl game because of a stipulation that it play without its two African American players.”
USF gave all the members of the team an honorary doctorate in 2005.
--There is zero real news to report on the last few days of the NBA’s first round.
But Knicks president Phil Jackson made news when he said the organization is willing to “consider everything” – including a possible trade – when it comes to its top-five pick in the June 25 NBA draft.
“Do you move a pick 1, 2, 3 or 4? That’s questionable,” Jackson said. “Do you move a pick five if that’s the end result and use it as a [trade] chip? Maybe. There’s a lot of options out there.”
No way the Knicks are trading the first or second pick if that’s what they end up with. After that, who knows. They certainly aren’t giving up the chance to get Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns.
Jackson added making the playoffs in 2016 wasn’t necessarily the goal, but having a winning record was. Knicks fans would be very satisfied with a 42-40 season after 17-65.
--The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay is going to be interesting. For spectators, it is recommended they just find one of the 18,000 grandstand seats because following the golfers on foot is going to be dangerous...as in there are a lot of slippery slopes and the routing is poor, with expected bottlenecks. Plus the shuttle rides from public parking lots to the course will be 25-30 minutes, according to officials, which means it will be far more than that. [Think Kiawah and the PGA.]
--I didn’t have time to note last chat that in winning the RBC Heritage on Sunday, Jim Furyk finally broke his streak of failing to convert nine consecutive times when he had the 54-hole lead since he won the 2010 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title.
“Two hours after Lelisa Desisa won the Boston Marathon in 2013, two bombs ripped through the finish area, killing three spectators and wounding 264 others.
“In the aftermath, Desisa formed a bond with the people of Boston and presented his winner’s medal back to the city.
“On Monday, Desisa, a 25-year-old Ethiopian, won the men’s elite race in Boston again, pulling away from an uncommonly large pack of contenders in the last few miles for a commanding victory in 2 hours 9 minutes 17 seconds.
“ ‘This medal,’ he said, grinning beneath his victor’s wreath, ‘is mine to keep.’”
Carolina Rotich of Kenya defeated Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia by four seconds.
American Shalane Flanagan, attempting to end a 30-year victory drought by American women, finished ninth after finishing seventh last year.
--There still is no signed contract for the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Tuesday he wasn’t signing the contract that he received a draft of back in April because it wasn’t what he agreed to when the MGM, Mayweather Promotions and he signed a term sheet.
Arum said MGM and Mayweather don’t want Top Rank to have any say in decisions made during the fight, including in-arena production, video content and music. Until the other day, he also hadn’t received the seating manifest.
--In the Champions League, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are into the semis, while Wednesday’s matches – Real Madrid vs. Club Atletico de Madrid; Monaco vs. Juventus – will decide the other two berths with the draw determined Friday.
--Every now and then you hear of an inner city tragedy, of a young man gunned down who was an “athlete,” but rarely is it someone with a legitimate pro basketball future, for example. There was that famous case in Chicago years ago (sorry, blanking on the name) where a super high school prospect was shot to death.
But this week in Paterson, N.J., we had a similar instance. By all accounts, 15-year-old Armoni Sexton was a special player, one of the top Class of 2018 prospects in the country, who was standing on the corner near a liquor store with friends when shots were fired from a passing vehicle. Sexton was hit and killed, three others were wounded. A 20-year-old was arrested and charged with one count of murder, as well as other charges, though it’s not known if Sexton was targeted. Police did say it was in retaliation for a shooting days earlier, two warring “wards.”
Tommie Patterson, who coached Sexton at Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, said he was trying to get Sexton to a prep school where he could escape the violence in Paterson.
As reported by NJ.com, a distraught Patterson said, “We should have gotten him out of here early.”
--Can it be? Did Wake Forest really land a top quarterback prospect? Do you believe in miracles?
By all accounts, Wake landed what is being described as a HUGE prospect for the 2016 recruiting class. Jamie Newman, a 6’4” 237-pound dual-threat QB out of Graham, North Carolina. Newman chose Wake over Boston College, Duke, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
So there is a chance I may finally win a lunch bet against B.C. alum Steve D. come 2017.
--So I’m reading this piece in Adweek on producer Mark Burnett and check this out.
“The most powerful producer in television will be plenty busy all that week [Ed. week of May 11 when networks do their ‘upfronts’], wooing advertisers and media buyers in New York. After all, Burnett is responsible for an astounding 11 network programs, on CBS (Survivor and the People’s Choice Awards), NBC (The Voice, Celebrity Apprentice, The Sing-Off, A.D. The Bible Continues – the follow-up to The Bible, his massively successful 2013 History miniseries – and Angels Unveiled, his scripted pilot hoping for a series order), ABC (Shark Tank and spinoff Beyond the Tank, premiering May 1, plus new game show 500 Questions, which debuts May 20) and Fox (Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which returns May 26 after a long hiatus).
“Then, there are cable shows Lucha Underground on El Rey and upcoming Answered Prayers on TLC. And his empire just keeps expanding. A few years ago, he joined forces with his wife Roma Downey to create LightWorkers Media, which focuses on faith and family projects like The Bible and A.D.”
Yup, the dude is rather busy. And he’s pitching nine shows at this year’s upfronts.
“There’s two things that built America: the Bible and free enterprise,” Burnett says. “And now I do both. I do A.D. and I do Shark Tank.”
--This isn’t good, sports fans. For the second time this month, a man walking his dog was attacked by a coyote in Bergen County, New Jersey. There was no immediate word on the man’s condition.
After the last coyote attack, I noted it was No. 238 on the All-Species List. Well this is it. The Executive Committee of the ASL is suspending ‘Coyote’ for six months for bad behavior. We don’t make these decisions lightly. Frankly, for those of you who may be coyote fans, it’s time to pick a new species and tell your sons and daughters to tear down their coyote posters in their bedrooms.
[The total number of attacks in New Jersey in just the past few weeks is actually now up to four. A school in Norwood, NJ, was in lockdown on Tuesday with an aggressive coyote spotted in the yard.]
--The Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo, Tex., has what it calls the “72oz Steak Rules.” As reported by the Washington Post’s Des Bieler: “If a customer can consume a steak that size in an hour, plus sides consisting of a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and a roll with butter, without getting up from the table or receiving any help, he or she gets the $72 charge refunded.”
Well quite a few have taken the challenge and accomplished the feat, including competitive eater Joey Chestnut.
But a 120-pound woman, Molly Schuyler, demolished Chestnut’s record for fastest time, polishing off the entire meal in under five minutes. But this was 2014.
So the restaurant offered Schuyler $5,000 if she could come back last Sunday and take down three of the 72-ounce behemoths in under an hour. That’s over 13 pounds in beef alone, plus three portions of all the sides.
[The first meal was in 4:18...the second in 11:47...third in 20.]
The Big Texan said they have had this challenge out there since 1960 and it’s the first time anyone ate that much in one sitting.
Top 3 songs for the week of 4/25/64: #1 “Can’t Buy Me Love” (The Beatles) #2 “Twist And Shout” (The Beatles) #3 “Do You Want To Know A Secret” (The Beatles)...and...#4 “Hello, Dolly!” (Louis Armstrong...two weeks later this would break the Beatles’ streak of #1s going back to Feb. 1...*) #5 “Suspicion” (Terry Stafford... was confused with Elvis by many...including moi...) #6 “Glad All Over” (The Dave Clark Five) #7 “Bits And Pieces” (The Dave Clark Five...love it!!!) #8 “Don’t Let The Rain Come Down” (The Serendipity Singers) #9 “My Guy” (Mary Wells) #10 “Dead Man’s Curve” (Jan & Dean)
*To complete the trivia, the last tune to be #1 prior to the Beatles’ first hit, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” was Bobby Vinton’s “There! I’ve Said It Again,” which was #1 on Jan. 25, 1964.
Baseball Quiz Answer: The only player to have 100 extra base hits in a season twice since 2000 is Todd Helton, Colorado.
Barry Bonds, 107 (73 home runs)
Sammy Sosa, 103 (64 home runs)
Luis Gonzalez, 100 (57 home runs...never had more than 31 in any other season)
Helton homered 49 times himself in 2001, to along with 54 doubles and 2 triples.
Bonds’ 107 XBH is tied for third all-time with Chuck Klein, 1930.