Tag:Leonard Cohen
Posted on: May 4, 2010 1:56 am
 

On night of pitching stars, Jimenez stands out

SAN DIEGO -- Pitchers were packing heat all over the majors on an extraordinary Monday night, from Toronto's Brett Cecil to the White Sox's Jake Peavy to Texas' Rich Harden to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez.

In Cleveland, Cecil took a perfect game into the seventh inning before walking Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo and then surrendering an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta as Toronto clipped the Indians 5-1.

In Chicago, struggling starter Jake Peavy worked 4 2/3 no-hit innings until Kansas City's Mitch Maier's single. Peavy, who entered the game with a 7.85 ERA, wound up pitching seven scoreless innings in the White Sox's 5-1 win.

In Oakland, Texas starter -- and former Athletic -- Rich Harden carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before A's center fielder Rajai Davis cracked a one-out double.

And in San Diego, Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez fanned a career-high 13 in the Rockies' 5-2 win.

Amid that constellation of pitching stars, Jimenez is the guy who continues to stand out. If voting were to be conducted for the NL Cy Young right now -- granted, there are five months remaining, everybody knows that, so no wise cracks -- Jimenez easily would be the guy.

"What can I say?" Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Seven more terrific innings from the ace of our staff."

In allowing one Padre run over seven innings, Jimenez's ERA actually rose to 0.87. Still, that's a major-league low.

"His fastball tonight ranks up there with any of his other starts he's had to this point," Tracy said. "His fastball was explosive."

Jimenez also is the only pitcher in the majors who stands 6-0, and he has not allowed a home run in 41 1/3 innings pitched.

"He's become such a big-game pitcher," Tracy said. "He's grown so much, right before our eyes. He's becoming quite a force. This guy's a dynamic guy. I couldn't be prouder of the young man.

Meantime, as for pitchers bringing the heat, that 17-8 Boston rout of the Los Angeles Angels?

Not so much.

Likes: One thing that gets lost amid the offensive production, Gold Glove and trade rumors: Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a very good guy. ... So is his first-base counterpart in Colorado, Todd Helton. ... Among other broadcasters, I always enjoy listening to Cleveland's Tom Hamilton on the XM broadcasts. He's very good (and I enjoyed him last winter broadcasting hoops on the Big Ten Network, too). ... About halfway through Nick Hornby's latest book, Juliet, Naked. As expected, very entertaining so far. ... The Leonard Cohen Live in London concert DVD is fabulous. Been meaning to catch up to it for months, finally did over the weekend and I highly recommend it. Classy guy and great sound. ... Very entertaining Kentucky Derby on Saturday, no? I'm not big into horse racing, but I usually make a strong effort to watch the Derby. It's just one more reminder that spring is really here and summer is on its way. ...

Dislikes: So a piece of one of my back teeth just up and chipped off a couple of weeks ago while I was having dinner. Felt something crunchy and, uh-oh. Clean break and no pain, but I suppose I'd better set up a dental appointment just in case. And I just got my very first cavity, a small one, a couple of years ago, too.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
"Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
"Everybody knows that the war is over
"Everybody knows the good guys lost
"Everybody knows the fight was fixed
"The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
"That's how it goes
"Everybody knows"

-- Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

Posted on: May 17, 2009 8:05 pm
 

Reds' Votto, Volquez to be examined

Cincinnati arrived in San Diego tied for first place in the NL Central on Friday partly because their 13 road wins were more than anybody else in the majors. The Reds left San Diego stuck on 13 road wins.

It was the first time all season Dusty Baker's surprisingly competitive club lost three in a row, but what's more of a concern as they head into Monday's off day before opening a nine-game homestand Tuesday against Philadelphia is the health of slugger Joey Votto and starter Edinson Volquez.

Both will be examined on Monday in Cincinnati.

 Volquez left Saturday's 16-inning marathon in the sixth inning with back spasms. He came up stiff the other day, according to Baker, when he missed a step at home.

"Old guys go one step at a time," Baker said. "Young guys skip steps, and he skipped one and landed funny."

 The travails of Votto, who left Saturday night's game with dizziness, are more mysterious.

Votto now has missed six starts since May 7 with the flu and left two other games with dizziness. Votto, who did not play Sunday, just shook his head and expressed frustration at an illness that nobody seems quite able to diagnose or cure.

"You don't know whether to be concerned about it because you don't know what it is," Baker said. "You're concerned about it. You just don't know how concerned to be.

"Something has to be wrong for this guy to not play, or to come out of the lineup. This guy's a gamer, big-time."

Votto has five homers, 27 RBI and a .470 on-base percentage this season, and it's probably no coincidence that when the Reds finally dropped a third consecutive game for the first time this season, it came with Votto watching from the bench.

"He's our big man in the middle," Baker said. "Right now, we're hoping he's OK and we get him back."

Likes: Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley to Chris Jenkins in the San Diego Union-Tribune last week: "I don't really play the game. I feel it." ... Glad to see Cincinnati winning -- at least, until this weekend. That is one terrific baseball town, and it would be fun to see it come back to life during a stretch run. ...  Cal Ripken Jr. wanting answers from Alex Rodriguez on the steroids stuff. ... Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes for birthdays.

Dislikes:
Jim Joyce is a good umpire, but Saturday's 16-inning marathon between the Reds and Padres was not his finest moment. Reds reliever David Weathers was badly squeezed. Had a few of those pitches been called strikes, as they should have been, the game would have ended in nine innings. Then, in the 12th and 13th innings, suddenly Joyce was calling everything strike -- including several pitches way more out of the zone than Weathers'. ... Finally finished Selena Roberts' A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. The highlight was her breaking the story that A-Rod was a user last February. The rest? This book will be on the $4 shelves by Christmas.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So the great affair is over
"But whoever would have guessed
"It would leave us all so vacant
"And so deeply unimpressed
"It’s like our visit to the moon or to that other star
"I guess you go for nothing if you really want to go that far"

--Leonard Cohen, "Death of a Ladies' Man

Posted on: February 15, 2009 5:06 pm
 

Where have you gone, Phil Hughes?

TAMPA, Fla. -- His locker is just a couple down from heavyweights CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain in the New York Yankees' spring clubhouse here, yet he comes and goes with barely a notice.

Last spring, right-hander Phil Hughes was one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball.

Now, with an injury practically being the only thing that could knock Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Chamberlain from the rotation, Hughes is something else.

An apparition.

"Last spring, Ian (Kennedy) and I had a lot of pressure to step in. It's different this year," said Hughes in what may be as big an understatement as you'll hear all spring. "I look at it as a positive. We have three or four guys in our rotation who would be capable of being in the top of any rotation in baseball.

"Whether I fit into it now or toward the end of the year, I'll try and contribute wherever I'm needed."

Maybe it's better this way. Hughes, still only 22, was catapulted into the limelight last winter when the Yankees decided to follow Boston's lead (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon) and emphasize its young pitching. Then Hughes became The Next Can't Miss Kid when the Yanks refused to include him in a deal with Minnesota for Johan Santana, who eventually was traded to the New York Mets.

Ultimately, Hughes not only failed to achieve liftoff in 2008, he mostly looked unsure of himself and completely overmatched in going 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in eight starts before minor-league assignments and a broken rib sidetracked the rest of what was supposed to be his coming-out party.

Instead, he found himself pitching in obscurity in the Arizona Fall League in October as the Yankees were sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Meanwhile, Kennedy went 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA and managed to pitch himself further out of New York's plans than did Hughes.

"I thought it was important that they learned from last year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That they took something from it, and that they understand what it takes to stay here."

Girardi said that each needs to understand "how to attack the (strike) zone" and locate his fastball.

One of the few openings the club is expected to have probably will be for a long reliever who can double as a spot starter, and Girardi made it clear that while Hughes possibly could fill that void, he would be concerned that it could slow the kid's development. Most likely, the long reliever/spot starter job is what the Yankees brought in guys like Brett Tomko for.

Also, Hughes has suffered a string of injuries, which adds to the evidence of those wondering whether he's star-crossed. In addition to the rib, he's suffered hamstring and ankle injuries in the past two years.

Mostly, the Yankees think that Hughes and Kennedy simply need to pitch, that the more innings they rack up, the more steadily they will develop. However, after sitting out October last year, the difference this year, what with moving into the new stadium in April and signing Sabathia and Burnett, is that the Yanks no longer are willing to allow them to learn on the job.

Hughes thinks he is back on track after fighting his mechanics for most of '08.

"My mechanics ideally should stay the same on every pitch," he said, meaning fastball, curve, whatever the selection. "That happens when I slow things down and get a good balance point."

He never could slow things down in his on-the-job audition with the Yankees in '08.

He says he was able to slow them down in Arizona, and his first bullpen session of the spring went well -- in his estimation -- on Sunday.

"In the past, I was rushing through my balance point," Hughes said. "When I'm deliberate in my delivery, I get a good balance point. And everything comes from that."

Likes: Brian Cashman's honesty. Whatever you think of the Yankees, love 'em or hate 'em, the general manager is a stand-up guy. Answering Alex Rodriguez questions the other day, he said that the organization had to run toward the A-Rod situation, not run away from it. True enough. But I especially chuckled over his assessment of this year's Yankees in Tyler Kepner's piece in Sunday's New York Times: "We are a bad defensive team, so a guy that prevents the ball from being put into play is a good thing for us." He was referring to A.J. Burnett ranking third in strikeouts per nine innings among pitchers who worked 500 or more innings last year, and CC Sabathia ranking seventh. Everybody knows that Yankees aren't exactly overloaded with Gold Glovers -- not with Johnny Damon in the outfield, range-challenged Derek Jeter at shortstop, Robinson Cano at second, etc. But for a GM to come right out and say "we are a bad defensive team" ... priceless.

Sunblock day? Barely. Warm, a little humid, but not much sun on a mis-named Sunday.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Ring the bells that still can ring
"Forget your perfect offering
"There is a crack, a crack in everything
"That's how the light gets in."

-- Leonard Cohen, Anthem

 

Posted on: April 7, 2008 1:53 pm
 

Fenway, Cueto & One Shining Moment -- what a week

What you'll be talking about this week: Is Detroit ever going to, maybe, win a game? The only winless team in the majors at 0-6, maybe you think that's a joke. But check out this next stretch of the Tigers' schedule: At Boston for three beginning on Tuesday, at the White Sox this weekend (and Chicago, coming off of a sweep in Detroit, is playing really well), then home for two against Minnesota (ah, perhaps a breather?) then at Cleveland for two and Toronto for three.

The Tigers rank dead last in the American League -- and 28th in the majors -- in runs scored. Read all about it over in the Weekend Buzz.

What you'll also talk about: Guess what? Boston is heading home for its Fenway Park opener on Tuesday. No small statement, either -- the Red Sox have flown more than 15,000 air miles since leaving Florida what seems like two months ago to travel to Japan, California, Toronto and, finally, home again. It's been a 19-day odyssey that has covered three countries and winds up with Boston in last place in the AL East for the first time since April 10, 2005.

Granted, the Red Sox are only two games out, but still. Going into this season, it was clear that survival would be the key to the stretch the Red Sox have just finished. Last place isn't great, but it's early and a two-game deficit is nothing. But, and this is a big but: Will the past three weeks leave the Red Sox gassed for the foreseeable future, or will they recover pretty quickly once they get home? A hangover effect could open the door for Toronto -- whose pitching was terrific in the first week -- among others to establish itself early.

Most pressing thing for Boston right now is to straighten out shortstop Julio Lugo. He committed three errors in Sunday's loss to Toronto after committing another on Saturday. His throwing is nearly as out of whack as Tuesday's Fenway Park opponent, Detroit. The Red Sox get their 2007 World Series rings in a pre-game ceremony Tuesday.

Perhaps this conversation is better skipped: In the throes of a terrible start, the Giants return home for their opener Monday afternoon against San Diego. They arrive reeling with a 1-5 record. Only Colorado (10) has scored fewer than the Giants' 12 runs.

Oh, and when they get home, the Giants will see a de-Bonds-itized AT&T Park. The Giants have scrubbed nearly every reference to the Big Man. But they sure were happy to take your money the past several years through tickets, T-shirts, jerseys, caps, and anything else that could earn them a buck.

What you can't help but talk about: That speculation regarding the brown stuff on San Diego ace Jake Peavy's right hand in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's dominating performance over Los Angeles? Dirt mixed with resin and sweat? Pine tar? Faulty M&Ms that melted in his hand, not his mouth?

Well, tune in for the sequel on Friday night in Dodger Stadium, where Peavy will have a re-match with Los Angeles ace Brad Penny. Gee, what kind of reception to you think he'll get there?

What you should be talking about: Cincinnati at Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Why? Reds rookie Johnny Cueto, who was filthy on Thursday, gets his second start of the season against a very good Brewers' lineup. Cueto's fastball was sizzling in the mid-90s, his slider embarrassing Arizona hitters at 89 m.p.h. or so and from what we saw in one brief outing, this kid is a no-hitter waiting to happen.

What you really should talk about: Pittsburgh outfielder Nate McLouth hit .429 during the season's first week and banged out a base hit in his first at-bat against the Cubs on Monday morning in Pittsburgh. This guy is sizzling and giving the Pirates some hope. Let's watch how the Cubs and Cincinnati pitch him this week.

Likes: All of these day games this early in the season. Nice to have baseball to watch at home during the day -- or anywhere during the day. ... Does anybody in the game have more guts and competitive fire than John Smoltz? Answer: No. ... Will you look at this, Cincinnati is getting some pitching. Johnny Cueto was fabulous last Thursday and Edinson Volquez, the pitcher acquired from Texas in the Josh Hamilton deal, was really good Sunday. The Reds get pitching, they stay in contention. ... Nice to have Jon Miller and Joe Morgan back every Sunday night again. ... Martin Scorcese's look at the Rolling Stones in Shine a Light is terrific. Scorcese or no, there's no groundbreaking stuff on the Stones, so if you're looking for that, change your expectations. But if you like the Stones, it's a very well-done concert film/documentary in which several lesser-known tunes are featured. The blues number with Buddy Guy is great, and Mick Jagger's duet with Christina Aguilera sizzles. She's got some pipes, that girl. ...One Shining Moment -- the song, the video montage, the entire thing. The NCAA title game always makes this one of the best Monday nights of the year.

Dislikes: Aw, you hate to see Colorado open at home over this past weekend celebrating its first NL title, raising the championship banner, receiving NL champion rings ... and get swept by Arizona (Diamondbacks fans, this part doesn't apply to you!)

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
"I ache in the places where I used to play
"And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
"I'm just paying my rent every day
"Oh, in the tower of song"

-- Leonard Cohen, Tower of Song

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com