Tag:Ozzie Guillen
Posted on: September 25, 2008 1:00 am
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Buehrle good, gets little help

MINNEAPOLIS -- Part of what especially frustrated the Chicago White Sox in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Minnesota was that ace Mark Buehrle was on the mound and, with any run support at all, he walks away with a win instead of maddeningly watching his record fall to 14-12.

"Great game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Buehrle. "You can't ask for any better than that.

"We better start hitting."

Buehrle held the Twins to three runs and eight hits over seven innings. He threw 121 pitches and, during his time on the mound, he held Minnesota, a very good clutch-hitting team, to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The way he worked catcher Joe Mauer, who came into the game leading the American League with a .329 batting average, was especially impressive.

In four at-bats, Mauer tapped four ground balls -- a couple harder than others, but nothing significant -- to second base.

What especially impressed Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, and an early tip-off that Buehrle had his 'A' game, was during Mauer's second-inning at-bat. One out, bases loaded and Buehrle falls behind Mauer 3-and-1.

And?

"He got him to swing down-and-away, and that never happens with Joe," Gardenhire said. "That tells you a little bit about how good this guy is."

The swing resulted into a ground ball to second base, and the play actually scored what turned out to be the winning run when Mauer beat the double-play relay to first base.

"He can run, too," Gardenhire said. "That's the bonus we have with our catcher."

By evening's end, after 42,126 had hollered themselves hoarse and the AL Central had narrowed to a nearly impossibly slim margin with just four games left -- the White Sox lead the Twins by half-a-game -- everybody was spent.

"Exhausted," Gardenhire said. "I mean, exhausted. You sit in that dugout, it's intense. You sit in that dugout and look at the people that are going crazy ... this is what you play for."

Posted on: September 18, 2008 12:26 am
 

Tampa Bay's Magic Number(s)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It feels like the beginning of a New World Order here.

Tampa Bay cleaned Boston's clock in two out of three games, and not only does Tampa Bay now have a couple of Magic Numbers, but those Magic Numbers are extraordinarily, incredibly, impressively ... low.

Here's a sentence that's never before been typed:

Tampa Bay can clinch its first-ever playoff spot by winning two games this weekend against the Minnesota Twins.

The Rays' Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is 3.

Their Magic Number to win the AL East title is 10.

You'd better believe they sense October is close enough to reach out and touch.

"Minnesota's coming in, and whatever our Magic Number is, we can do it in two days," reliever Grant Balfour, who out-dueled David Ortiz in a key fifth-inning at-bat Wednesday (Ortiz flied to center), said. "We can do it on Friday night. I think the guys know that.

"I think we're in good shape. I've got a feeling we're going to do it pretty quick."

Two wins over the Twins simply gets Tampa Bay an October ticket. But the Rays say they're still gunning to win the AL East title. By virtue of beating Boston on Wednesday, they win the season series against the Red Sox, which would give Tampa Bay the tiebreaker if the two clubs finish with the same record.

But Tampa Bay holds a two-game edge with 12 games left. Boston has only 10 games remaining.

A division title would come in handy, because the Rays have been incredible at home. They're 55-22 at Tropicana Field. And when fans actually show up, they're even tougher: They're 20-1 now in front of 30,000 or more fans at home, and they've got a 20-game winning streak after losing on Opening Day.

When Boston catcher Kevin Cash reached first base in the fifth inning Wednesday, he told Carlos Pena that Tropicana Field was "the loudest place he's ever heard."

"That's great," Pena said. "It really has an effect on the players."

Manager Joe Maddon said he thought the fans were "a little bit more anticipatory. They were really into it even before the first pitch, and it was kind of nice."

The manager also said that the Rays will celebrate as soon as they clinch a playoff spot, even if the AL East title is still up for grabs.

"Sure, that would be cause for celebration, absolutely," Maddon said. "You look at where the Rays have come from. I'm into celebrating.

"If we get to that point sooner, we'll do it in the appropriate way."

Likes: One of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's things is to push for Meatloaf series wins. Huh? That's his funky way of preaching to his players the goal of winning two games of each three-game series. As in, you know, the old Meatloaf smash hit from the late 1970s: Two out of three ain't bad. The Rays have responded, too, they own a club-record 32 series wins, most in the majors, and they've lost only nine of their past 41 series. That kind of stuff will get you a division title. ... I hadn't been to Tropicana Field since 1999, and I still much prefer my baseball outdoors. But I will say, they've brightened the place up considerably since I've last been here. ... I figured the White Sox were a lock to win in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night when, earlier in the day, I checked the pitching probables and saw the Sox were listing kid pitcher Lance Broadway as their starter. How can you go wrong in New York with a kid named Broadway? But alas, manager Ozzie Guillen went with Clayton Richard. And lost. Oops. ... Nice late-morning run on the Jefferson High School track -- home of such alums as Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. But it is humid and sweltering here.

Dislikes: Milwaukee's Ben Sheets leaving Wednesday's game in Chicago with forearm stiffness. Not a good sign for the Brewers, who need every good fortune they can get down the stretch. ...Very noticeable how many political ads they're throwing on the television in the state of Florida -- at least, in the Tampa area. One after another, John McCain and then Barack Obama, then Obama and then McCain. And the negativity gets old, quick.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach
"You'll never drill for oil on a city street
"I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
"But there ain't no Couple de Ville hiding
"At the bottom of a Cracker Jack box"

-- Meatloaf, Two Out of Three (Ain't Bad)

Posted on: March 21, 2008 5:50 pm
 

Barry Bonds and baseball's unemployment rate

PHOENIX -- One of the headlines to emerge from the baseball world the other day -- albeit a small headline -- was that players' union boss Don Fehr intends to look into whether baseball owners are in collusion to prevent Barry Bonds from playing this season.

Fehr quickly said it was a non-story, noting that the union reviews free agent activity every season and that he wouldn't necessarily zero in on a Bonds investigation.

Which is only the latest indication that, despite the Big Man saying he wants to play in 2008, nobody's listening.

Even as the game's all-time home run king, it really isn't all that mysterious that Bonds remains jobless. First of all, he's toxic because of his legal issues. Second, he's strictly designated hitter material now -- he was a huge liability in left field for the Giants last summer -- so that eliminates 16 of the 30 big-league clubs right there.

And of the 14 American League clubs, most of them are set at DH. I count five, maybe six AL clubs who possibly could be upgraded by Bonds' bat: Seattle (Jose Vidro is the current designated hitter), Texas (Frank Catalanotto), Baltimore (Aubrey Huff, who might be traded), Tampa Bay (Johnny Gomes, who could move to another position), Kansas City (Ross Gload) and Minnesota (Jason Kubel).

Of those, a handful are small-market clubs who probably aren't going to pay Bonds anything near what he wants.

And for the very small handful of clubs for whom Bonds might, maybe, in a pinch, possibly make sense ... is it really worth it to bring in a guy whose legal future is murky? A guy who essentially has demanded his own set of rules apart from the rest of the team? A guy who is a lightening rod for bad publicity?

"He can't play for me," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the other day. "First of all, I already have a DH (Jim Thome). Second of all, my ballclub goes by the rules, all 25 guys. I don't know him, but he's got hiw own way. I respect that. He's the best player ever to play the game. But it's a different style.

"It's surprised me (that Bonds is unsigned) because a lot of teams need a leader like him. Maybe people don't want the aggravation of talking about him every day."

Likes: Closer Brad Lidge back in Philadelphia. ... The Washington Nationals deciding to go with their talented young pitching. Yes, it was shocking to see last year's openind day starter, John Patterson, handed his walking papers, but the injuries and rehabbing are endless. The game stops for no one, and the Nationals owe it to their players and fans to go with starting pitchers who can take the ball every day. Especially with Shawn Hill's status uncertain. John Lannan and Matt Chico are going to be good. ... Dodgers broadcaster and former big leaguer Rick Monday. Pure class. ... Honey Bear's barbecue in Phoenix. Terrific ribs, and a great motto: "You don't need no teeth to eat our meat." Plus, you've gotta like a barbecue joint with a sign out front warning that there are no weapons allowed on the premesis unless the holder is a police officer. ... The first two days of the NCAA tournament, with games going for 12 hours. ... The rocking Taco Bell cheesy something-or-other commercial with the Modern English song Melt With You. Good song, and who wouldn't like melted cheese overmeat? ... Organist Danny Federici, on the disabled list with melanoma, re-joining Bruce Springsteen's E St. Band in Indianapolis on Thursday night. Here's to continued good health. ...

Dislikes: Opening day in Japan. I'm all for growing the game and doing everything to ensure its future viability, but opening day is special and should be special for home fans. Red Sox fans will have to watch the two games Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 a.m. Oakland fans get the games at 3 a.m. They're taking one of the most sacred days of the year away from people who deserve to have it.


Sunblock day? Yessir. It's warming up in the desert, zooming up into the 80s. Easter Sunday is supposed to be in the upper-80s.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Oh a storm is threatening my very life today
"If I don't get some shelter
"Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away
"War, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away"

-- The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter

 
 
 
 
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