Monday, March 31, 2008

And they're off!

Opening day is finally here! Yes, I realize the games in Japan counted, and I understand the Nationals opened their new ballpark Sunday night, but today everyone played, and baseball season has begun for all teams. Everyone is tied in the standings - the one day of the year when every team has a chance at the playoffs and World Series glory. Hope truly springs eternal on opening day.

Before we look at all of the bad baseball around the league this Monday, March 31, let me be the first to congratulate Jay Gibbons (pictured), formerly of the Baltimore Orioles. He was waived today, and the O's will pay him 11.9 million dollars for the next two seasons to do absolutely nothing. Criminal.

OK. While Gibbons counts his money, lets dive in to a remarkable opening first day of games...

Barry Zito opened up another year in which he'll earn waaaay too much money by going 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits. Nice contract, Brian Sabean.

Tom Gordon reminded us why he's not the closer in Philadelphia, recording only one out in the 9th, allowing 4 hits and 5 runs while "earning" the loss.

It was a rough day for Chicago baseball fans. Mark Buehrle opened the season for the White Sox but was pulled after 1.2 innings. His line: 7 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk... and a no decision! Octavio Dotel gave allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in the 8th. How is this guy still being given a chance to pitch?

On the north side of the city, Kerry Wood blew his first save chance as a Cub, erasing a nice outing from Carlos Zambrano and lights-out relief from Carlos Marmol, who is sure to assume the closer role sooner rather than later. Wood allowed 3 runs on 2 hits in his half of the ninth. No worries, though, as Eric Gagne responded by blowing his first save with the Brewers, imploding in the bottom of the 9th, surrendering 5 hits and 3 runs. And just when you thought this game couldn't get any more spectacularly bad: Bob Howry allowed a run in the 10th to pick up the loss, giving Gagne the win. Well played, sir.

Jeff Francis was apparently praying for rain; after going 2.1 innings, walking 5 and allowing 5 runs on 4 hits, the game was postponed due to weather and the stats won't count! It's an MLB rule... bizarre.

Damaso Marte and Matt Capps combined for 5 runs and 4 walks to choke away the Pirates opener in the 9th, though it was nullified by Manny Acosta and Jeff Bennett in the Braves half of the ninth when the worked together to give up 5 runs, blowing the lead. Franquelis Osoria would eventually win this one for the Bucs.

So there ya' go... bad baseball from all over the country! It was an opening day for the ages. I don't know if every night will be covered in such detail - I'd imagine not. Perhaps I'll limit this to one or two daily bad performances. Though on a day when every team is in the playoff picture, it felt appropriate. Ever team except the Marlins, that is, who trotted out Mark Hendrickson as their opening day starter. I've said it once on this site already but I'm feeling it again - it's going to be a good year.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wedding Bells

In a bit of bizarre baseball news, New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui announced his marriage to his girlfriend. That's all. No name, description, anything. He did, however, hold up this nice picture drawn of his new bride, who he described as "25 and from Japan," and worked "in a reputable position at a highly respected company."

Weird, right? But wait - check out this line casually dropped into the end of the New York Daily News article on the event:

"Matsui, also known back home for his large collection of porn films, said he and his wife have been planning their wedding for a year."

Excuse me?

Is this a Japanese thing? I know the porn industry is huge in America, but has a personal collection ever been used to describe someone? Can you imagine: "Johan Santana expectedly signed a long-term extension with the Mets, which is sure to help him add to his already sizeable collection of X-rated magazines and videos." And how, exactly, is it well-known that Matsui's collection is so big?

Strange, and now he'll have to find a better hiding place to keep the pornos from his etch-a-sketch bride. Check ebay.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The "Should've Stayed At Home Award" goes to...

...Jason Varitek. He leaves Japan having combined to go 0 for 8 with 6 strikeouts. Major League Baseball will attempt to reclaim Tek's $40,000 appearance fee.

Season Predictions

The opening series has come and gone, the last remaining games of spring training are still to be played, and rosters everywhere are beginning to take form. That means it’s time for some predictions!

Every year magazines give their opinions on division winners, sleeper playoff contenders, and eventual World Series champions. Not here. This season, the battle for last (if you care – and if you don’t, you’re reading the wrong blog) will be as intense as the battle for first. The following are my division-by-division picks:

PhotobucketAL East: Baltimore Orioles. They traded away their staff ace and one of the top pitchers in all of baseball in Erik Bedard. Ouch. Brian Roberts looks to be next out the door, not to mention the loss of Miguel Tejada. Though Adam Jones joins Nick Markakis in what looks to be a respectable – if not dangerous – outfield down the road, they won’t be near enough to keep this squad out of the division cellar for years to come. You know the Yanks or Sox won’t slip, the Jays are perpetually average, and the Rays (they dropped the “Devil”) are on the verge of relevance. The O’s could very well be the worst team in baseball this season.

PhotobucketAL Central: Chicago White Sox. My initial thoughts on the appropriate pick for this division was the Royals, but Alex Gordon and Billy Butler give them a decent core, and Zack Greinke and Gil Meche – with Joakim Soria closing – look good enough to fend off the Sox. Nick Swisher should see statistical improvement in Chicago, but his bat won’t be a difference maker.

PhotobucketAL West: Texas Rangers. The inevitable injuries to Oakland’s roster could make this division race interesting. The addition of Josh Hamilton should replace some of the power lost with Mark Teixeira’s departure in ’07, but overall the roster isn’t much improved over last season, so there’s no reason to expect different results.

PhotobucketNL East: Florida Marlins. Any time you lose a giant chunk of offense (Miguel Cabrera; 34 HR, 119 RBI, .320 AVG in 2007), you’re in trouble. Their starting rotation is atrocious. While the loss of Dontrelle Willis isn’t necessarily a huge one, the loss of any semblance of veteran leadership and/or consistency certainly doesn’t help. Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida will contribute, and they’re sure to rebuild back into contention, but it won’t be this season. The ‘Fins are another contender for the worst record in baseball.

PhotobucketNL Central: Pittsburgh Pirates. Because what have they done to improve? The rest of the division has only gotten stronger. It’s going to be another long summer for the Bucs.

PhotobucketNL West: San Francisco Giants. Easy choice here. Benji Molina (19 HR, 81 RBI, .276 AVG in ‘07) will bat in the heart of the lineup. The addition of Aaron Rowand will provide a much needed spark to the order, but who will he drive in? Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain would be solid anchors for any staff but will waste away on this team. It’s too bad Barry Zito isn’t as good as his contract (which will be discussed at a later date) would have you believe. The Giants are another team who could easily finish with the worst record in baseball.

PhotobucketThe worst team of the 2008 season will be: The Baltimore Orioles! This team stinks, they’ll only get worse if they trade away Brian Roberts, and rest of the AL East will beat up on them all season long. They lost 93 games in 2007 and could easily surpass that number this year.

A few other teams that many might expect to contend could just as easily disappoint:

The Padres are an injury or two away from a terrible rotation, and they certainly won't be beating their opponents by outscoring them. Even if they're not historically bad, they could have a tough time keeping up with their competition in the NL West.

Seattle fans should temper their expectations as well. Off-season acquisition Erik Bedard won't hurt anything, but they gave up a ton of talent to bring him in, and Richie Sexson remains a giant hole in the middle of that line up. Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling this team could flat out stink.

So there you have it – ’08 predictions, Bad Baseball style. I’ll be sure to track these teams – along with any other surprises – as the season plays out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Play Ball!

The 2008 season is officially here! Those of you waking up early enough to watch were rewarded with the first blown save of the year by Huston Street. His line: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 Earned Runs, 1 BB, 1 HR Allowed.

Though it's early, Street (0-1, 16.20 ERA) is on pace for a record 162 losses.

Other notable performances include Jonathan Papelbon's near blown save, which he avoided thanks to sloppy base running by Emil Brown, who was caught between second and third after an RBI double. Jack Cust contributed nothing, going 0-4 with 4 strikeouts.

A rough start to the season, but nobody was watching, so it's almost like it never happened. But it did, the stats count, and we're under way. It's going to be a good year.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Where true greatness lies in complete ineptitude.


716+* homeruns. 56 consecutive games. .409 batting average. Any baseball fan knows of the historical significance behind these numbers. The sexiest record in all of sports fell when Barry Bonds slugged homerun number 716 on a summer night in San Francisco. Every spring we learn the name of that middle infielder who carries a hitting streak to 15 games, in pursuit of the great Joe DiMaggio's record of 56 straight. And every year will be the year that a slap-hitting, quick-out-of-the-box Ichiro will fight for the highest single season batting average since Ted Williams.

Baseball fans love records and the legends who chase and break them, summer after summer after summer. We eagerly crown dynasties, be it the Yankees of the late 90's or the 21st century Red Sox. But what about the players and organizations on the other side of these all-time greats? Like a pitcher who loses 21 games in a single season (Mike Maroth, 2003 Detroit Tigers). Most regular season wins? The 2001 Mariners, 116. But isn't it more amusing to see those previously mentioned '03 Tigers lose 119?

If you're like me, the Baltimore Orioles are the most entertaining show on television. Not for the days of Cal Ripken, Jr, Boog's BBQ, Jim Palmer, or Earl Weaver, but because they are a complete mess. Or a team - oh, say, the Houston Astros - who guts their farm system to acquire Jason Jennings and Miguel Tejada. Bad Baseball recognizes that true greatness lies in complete ineptitude. This blog will dive into bad contracts, poor trades, and statistics that defy logic - but not in a good way. Perhaps I'll even thrown in a bad baseball card or two along the way. It's all things bad baseball! Because Mike Maroth must have done something right to be given the ball in 21 losing efforts.