Six hundred home runs is quite a milestone -- only five other players (Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa) have ever done it, and Bonds and Sosa are widely believed to have had medicinal help in clearing the bar -- and just getting there is an achievement to be celebrated. But this was more. This was the virtual rediscovery of a player deserving of the praise we'd unfairly heaped on others during baseball's blighted past.
Congratulations, Junior. You earned it.
MAINTAINING THE PACE: The Red Sox lost no ground to the Rays in the A.L. East standings, as James Shields was knocked around a bit in a 6-1 Angels win over Tampa Bay. (Tampa Tribune)
NEW MEANING TO THE TERM 'ON THE BUMP': The Tampa Bay Rays can do with more with their fists than pummel Coco Crisp:
RIGHTING A WRONG: Remembering the time Cito Gaston left him warming up in the bullpen without bringing him into the game -- and thus depriving Mike Mussina, then with the Orioles, of pitching in front of his hometown fans in the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards -- Cameron Martin of ComcastSportsNet wonders if Terry Francona would select Moose to start this year's All-Star Game, which is being played in Mussina's current baseball home (Yankee Stadium).
MOOSE TALES: John Feinstein's latest book, Living On The Black, focuses on the 2007 seasons of Mussina and Tom Glavine, who were both in New York last year and were both staying in the major leagues on their brains and guile thanks to fastballs that had long since deserted them. Ken Davidoff of Newsday relates some of the Mussina stories, which include examples of his contempt for Carl Pavano and how then-pitching coach Ron Guidry stopped speaking to him when he was removed from the starting rotation last August.
BACK IN THE GROOVE: Chien-Ming Wang was his old sinkerballing self as he pitched the Yankees over the A's in Oakland last night. (New York Post)
NO, THEY'RE NOT: The New York Daily News' Filip Bondy says nobody "is talking about the Yankees as a championship team anymore -- not this year, anyway -- and that means the arrow continues to point in the wrong direction for this franchise." And he bemoans the fact that "[over] the past eight years, the Bombers have slowly devolved from perennial champions to chronic playoff disappointments, then to a wild-card team and now to a mere wild-card contender."
OH, SHADDUP: Tino Martinez has a piece of advice for those -- like Johnny Damon -- who feel the need to comment on the Joba Chamberlain situation: Zip it. (New York Daily News)
REACHING OUT: Andy Pettitte says he hasn't spoken to Roger Clemens since the controversy over performance-enhancing drugs erupted over the winter but says he hopes they'll talk soon. (New York Daily News) As for whether that will happen this weekend, when the Yanks go to Clemens' (and Pettitte's) hometown of Houston, Pettitte replied: "I have no idea. I don't know what to tell you about that."
UPS AND DOWNS: Speaking of PEDs, Yahoo! Sports' David Brown looks at how all the players mentioned in the Mitchell Report are doing this year.
WHOA! There's been a Phil Hughes blog sighting!
PROUD MOMENT FOR MY PROFESSION: The Sporting News is reinventing itself as a print/online hybrid and it's making a part-time journalist out of Hank Steinbrenner. (AOL Sports Fanhouse)
LET ME PUSH THE DETONATOR BUTTONS: Tim Marchman of the New York Sun, in an interview with the blog The Biz of Baseball, provides an antidote to the flood of tears being shed over the imminent demises of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium by saying he's "utterly appalled" by both parks. He's particularly appalled by Yankee Stadium: "Yankee Stadium is on the merits one of the worst places in the country to watch a ballgame, and there’s really little that’s more hilarious in baseball than the pretense that this giant concrete bowl is some magnificent cathedral and monument to the glories of the game."
'L' BEFORE 'W': The New York Daily News reports the Mets had a players-only meeting before last night's game against the Diamondbacks and passed around a sheet that contained such inspirational phrases as "team above self" and "We B4 I." Then they went out, blew a four-run lead and lost to Arizona, 9-5. Even so, Moises Alou says the Mets "definitely" are a playoff- team. (New York Post)
PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND: With the Mets' season swirling down the sink, focus is beginning to shift away from Willie Randolph and onto Omar Minaya. (New York Daily News)
AND FOR MORE THAN JUST THE TEAM'S ON-FIELD PLAY: John Delcos, on the LoHud Mets Blog, rips into Minaya and the Mets for their "shameful" handling of Ryan Church's concussion. "Just dumb and arrogant from top to bottom," he concludes.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? As low as Class A if you're Dontrelle Willis. That's where the Tigers sent him in an attempt to see if he can regain his lost pitching skills, which have deserted him to the tune of a 10.32 ERA. (espn.com) Baseball Musings' David Pinto wishes Willis the best because baseball "can use characters like him."
BI-POLAR: Last winter, Peter Robins-Brown of Bugs and Cranks admits he "joined the chorus of cheers" when the Tigers traded for Edgar Renteria and was so euphoric about acquiring Willis and Miguel Cabrera from Florida that he "made an allusion to taking the deal itself out for a fine dinner and trying to make love to it. Or something like that." Now, on June 11, his tune is a little different: "They’re done. Stick a fork in ‘em. And all those other cliches. The 2008 Detroit Tigers can no longer be considered a team with any chance of making a run to the playoffs."
AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM . . . : SI.com's Jon Heyman says this year's Philadelphia story will be as good, if not better, than it was in 2007.
JET LAG: The Washington Post has results of a study that shows teams lose 60 percent of games played in a time zone three hours from the time zone they just left, and 52 percent of games in time zones one or two hours away. But the study also shows teams "only rarely have to play games right after traveling across the country . . . In fact, for only about 16 to 20 times a season did [all MLB] teams [combined] have to travel three time zones and then promptly play a game."
R.I.P. Eliot Asinof, author of the essential Eight Men Out -- the story of how the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series -- has died at age 88. (AP via Yahoo!)
HERE AND THERE: Albert Pujols had to be helped off the field after straining his calf in the Cardinals' win at Cincinnati last night, and the team fears he'll be out a while (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . The Orioles, as expected, designated Steve Trachsel for assignment (Baltimore Sun) . . . Tom Glavine, who avoided the disabled list for the first 20 years of his career, is headed there for the second time in three months because of a strained left elbow (mlb.com) . . . It doesn't look as if the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal will even be starting a rehab assignment for at least two weeks (Los Angeles Daily News) . . . Francisco Liriano had another strong outing in Rochester as he tries to make his way back to the Twins (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) . . . Troy Tulowitzki has begin his rehab assignment (mlb.com) . . . The Braves say there are "a lot of unknowns" concerning John Smoltz' future after his shoulder surgery (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Juan Uribe's buried on the bench, but he says he still wants to stay with the White Sox (Chicago Tribune) . . . Gregg Zaun's about ready to return to the Blue Jays. (Toronto Star)
OLD FRIENDS: Anibal Sanchez, recuperating from shoulder surgery, is close to being able to pitch in a rehab game (Miami Herald) . . . Because of Furcal's injury (see above), Nomar Garciaparra is going to play some shortstop (Los Angeles Times) . . . Trot Nixon has 10 home runs in Tucson and rotoworld.com wonders if it isn't time for someone, like the Mets, to give him a look . . . Wilfredo Ledezma has been designated for assignment by the Padres (San Diego Union-Tribune) . . . Cliff Floyd can't get back into Tampa Bay's lineup. (St. Petersburg Times)
-- ART MARTONE
David | June 11, 2008 11:29 AM link