More on the human beings who make money playing, talking and writing about baseball:
That Slow-motion Race to Replace Harry Kalas: According to Phillies announcer Chris Wheeler on Tuesday night, the Phillies’ Jamie Moyer and the Mets’ R.A. Dickey “combined [that night] to throw 144 pitches under 80 miles an hour.” Wheeler’s broadcast mate, Tom McCarthy, feigned great amusement at this remark and said something pointless about “the age of the radar gun.” This was doubly annoying because a) as both of these guys frequently observe, correctly, location is far more important than pitch speed, and b) the Phillies were losing, 5-0, at the time of the observation. The Phillies looked hopeless against knuckle-ballers this week, first Boston’s Tim Wakefield, then Dickey, in back-to-back games. The team hadn’t faced two flutter-ballers in a row since 1983 when they saw the Niekro brothers in consecutive games.
Wheeler, McCarthy and Gary Matthews, Sr., are now engaged in a sort of low-key competition to become the new “voice” of the Phillies, following Harry Kalas’ death last year. McCarthy does play-by-play, and thus, has the inside track; he’s serviceable and energetic, but a bit “plain vanilla.” Wheeler has some amusing verbal habits and a refreshing tendency to admit “I just don’t know” if he doesn’t (as opposed to the Joe Morgan approach of over-explaining absolutely everything – “You see, John, there are four bases…,” etc.). And Matthews is a congenial third wheel with the very annoying habit of referring to sliders as “slide-pieces.” Matthews also played on the ’83 NL Championship Phils club that faced those Niekro brothers.
None of the three observed that the marginally interesting figure yielded by Dickey’s and Moyer’s joint effort was the 63 pitches over 80 mph that they threw.
Losers? The AP observed Wednesday that the Marlins had extended Kenshin Kawakami’s “season of woe” for the Braves by dropping him to 0-7. Kawakami has a long way to go, however, if he is to challenge the MLB losing streak for pitchers as his personal streak now stands at a mere nine. The record is 27, set by the Mets’ Anthony Young in 1992 and ’93. Young’s record is a puzzling matter. At the time no one seemed to be able to fully explain why he should keep losing any more than any other right-hander with reasonably good stuff. Also, his record is a true “best of times…worst of times” matter, one deserving of a fairly large asterisk. In the middle of his losing streak, weirdly, he saved twelve games in a row, subbing for closer John Franco.
After holding a nine-to-five job for eight years with a chemical firm after retirement, Young now coaches youth baseball full-time in the Houston area, and gives pitching lessons through AY Enterprises, his own firm.
Bradley’s Return to Action: It has been roughly a week since Milton Bradley’s return from a two-week leave of absence from the Mariners to deal with “stress.” This leave was fully supported by his team, and Bradley gratefully noted that support. On Tuesday, six days after his return to the team, a Seattle Times article included Bradley’s admission of suicidal ideation prior to his leave. Tuesday night things were looking much brighter for the outfielder. He smacked a homer off Detroit’s Justin Verlander and drove in three runs overall, including the tie-breaker in the 8th inning of his team’s 5-3 win. During a pitching change that followed his late RBI single, Bradley left first base to high-five his teammates in Seattle’s dugout.
Outside observers might well decide that there’s no middle ground with this guy, no matter the circumstances, but everybody who watches baseball should feel better that he’s “feeling much better.” Since returning to the M’s May 19th, Bradley is hitting .292 and has indicated that he no longer feels compelled to measure his self-worth in baseball terms only. (He has raised his overall batting average twenty points to .234.)
And the Swami at SI Sez: Two months out from the trading deadline, Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman is probably pretty safe in saying which big name players might be traded…and besides he spoke to GM’s (who aren’t identified). Heyman’s list article bold-faces four major names and throws in three others for good measure. Those sure to have the Big Wallets interested are Paul Konerko (a free agent-to-be), Prince Fielder (a free agent-to-be next year), Roy Oswalt (who’s finally fed up in Houston), and – drumroll, please – Cliff Lee (another free agent-to-be whose team also stinks). Others possibly on the White Sox trading block include A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle and Matt Thornton.
Should the Phillies decide to scrape together their loose change and bring Lee back, they only need to dial the number of pitcher Jamie Moyer’s home in Seattle, which Lee is renting. (Is that month-to-month or for the season; would a refund be in order if the latter?) It’s not clear, were Lee to return to Philly, whether he or Roy Halladay would wear #34. Lee wore it last season; Halladay has it now. However, most fans in Philadelphia would be fine with Lee wearing a clown’s hat and a jersey that reads “THIS TIME I’M STAYING” on the back.
OK, OK, the clown’s hat goes after a week, and Cliff gets a bonus.
Associated Press. “Marlins keep Kawakami winless.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 26 May 2010: C6.
Gelb, Matt. “Cliff Lee back on the mound.” philly.com. 2 May 2010.
Heyman, Jon. “Moving Men?” Sports Illustrated 31 May 2010: 21.
McCarron, Anthony. “Where are they now? Former Met Anthony Young emerges a true winner.” nydailynews.com. 3 January 2009.
Ortiz, Jorge L. “AL Quick Pitch: An emotional high for Mariners’ Bradley.” usatoday.com. 26 May 2010.
“Philadelphia at New York.” Major League Baseball. Comcast Sports Network, Philadelphia. 25 May 2010.