Sports Outside the Beltway

Demolition job- Minnesota beats Chicago White Sox 20-1

It was the worst defeat in Chisox history. From AP-

While the Chicago White Sox weren’t exactly showing their best side to Jake Peavy, the Minnesota Twins were taking out their anger on the baseball.

Joe Mauer hit a grand slam, two doubles and drove in a career-high six runs as the Twins routed the White Sox 20-1 Thursday, matching Chicago’s most-lopsided loss in team history.

“I think a lot frustration came out today,” said Mauer, whose Twins had lost the first six games of their road trip before winning big on getaway day. “We had a rough trip. It was nice to get some runs. We kept on saying, ‘Keep at it, keep at it.”

There was nothing nice about the game for the White Sox, whose only other 19-run defeat ever was a 19-0 loss at Anaheim in 2002.

“We did everything wrong we could do,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You name it, we did it wrong.”

It would seem so. Nineteen run losses are not too common at the pro level. The good news, tomorrow is another day and game. Twice in baseball history has a team come back from being no-hit to having a no-hitter of their own the next day.

What sparked today’s outburst was an attempt at ‘small ball’ by Minnesota.

Minnesota led 1-0 and had two on in the second when Betemit fielded Nick Punto’s bunt and threw the ball off Punto’s helmet. Mauer’s sacrifice fly and Kubel’s RBI single made it 4-0 before Cuddyer lined a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Three pitches later, Crede took Colon deep for an eight-run lead.

Bunting, except when it’s done by a pitcher, is usually associated with what’s called a one-run offense. The botched bunt helped score Minnesota 7 runs in the inning it was conducted. Trust me, that won’t happen again for a while.


Arizona Diamondbacks fire Manager Bob Melvin

He is the first to get fired in 2009. From AP-

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on Thursday, hoping a new manager will be able to get the most out of their talented core of young players.

The Diamondbacks will make A.J. Hinch, their vice president for player development, Melvin’s replacement on Friday, according to a person familiar with the move who requested anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

The 34-year-old Hinch is a former major league catcher with no professional managerial experience. His promotion was first reported by radio station KTAR.

[+] EnlargeBob Melvin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireBob Melvin has been fired by the Diamondbacks.

The 47-year-old Melvin’s firing comes after a disappointing start by the Diamondbacks, who entered Thursday 8½ games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. Melvin, who went 337-340 in four-plus seasons, had one year left on a contract he received after being the 2007 NL Manager of the Year.


“This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice,” general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement.

Hitting coach Rick Schu also was fired, and pitching coach Bryan Price resigned.

Melvin’s stock rose when he guided a youthful but talented group to the NL West title two years ago. He was dismissed because many of the same players have failed to live up to expectations based on that season, when the Diamondbacks posted an NL-best 90-72 record despite being outscored by 20 runs across the season.


This is the second time in their 12-year history that the Diamondbacks have changed managers in midseason. In 2004, the Diamondbacks fired Bob Brenly after a 29-50 start and replaced him with Al Pedrique on their way to a franchise-worst 51-111 record.

That disaster paved the way to Melvin’s return to Arizona, where he had served as Brenly’s bench coach on the 2001 World Series champions.

Melvin’s hiring as the Diamondbacks’ manager came under bizarre circumstances. The club had selected Wally Backman as manager, but Backman was dismissed four days later following revelations he had been arrested twice and struggled with financial problems.

Arizona then turned to Melvin, who was out after two seasons in Seattle, where he went 156-168.

Melvin made an immediate impact in the desert. He led the 2005 Diamondbacks to a 77-85 record, a 26-win improvement.

Two years later, the Diamondbacks made a surprise run to the NL West title despite scoring 20 fewer runs than they allowed — a fact that led many to praise Melvin’s ability to squeeze the most out of his lineup.

Melvin was honored as the 2007 NL Manager of the Year, and soon after the club extended his contract through 2010.

How much of Arizona’s slow start if Melvin and his coaching staff’s fault is debatable. The team hasn’t been hitting, but on the other hand the Dodgers started great this year and Diamondback staff ace Brandon Webb is on the disabled list. To me the blame for the 12-17(I had to look it up. Associated Press didn’t report it in the above article) start Arizona had this year is more complicated than whether the team had or hadn’t good direction from their manager and coaches. As usual in sports the manager or head coach is the fall guy deservingly or not. Melvin, who was a journeyman catcher and coach before becoming a big league manager, won’t be unemployed for long.

Do note that Arizona hasn’t named Melvin’s replacement yet. Will they name for his coaching staff to the job or look elsewhere? I am betting the former.


Ken Griffey Jr. signs with Seattle Mariners

He returns to the organization that he started his professional baseball career with. From AP-

Ken Griffey Jr. has decided to return to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners announced the move Wednesday night. The 39-year-old star’s contract is for one year and believed to be worth $2 million in base salary, plus incentives.

Earlier in the day, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that an apparent agreement with the Atlanta Braves had fallen through. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Mariners had yet to announce the deal.

Griffey is fifth on baseball’s career home run list with 611.

Atlanta appeared to be Griffey’s choice on Tuesday for the same reason the former Mariners star left Seattle in 2000: geography. The Braves’ spring training camp is about a 20-minute drive from the Griffey family home in Orlando, Fla., and Atlanta is about an hour away by plane.

Griffey asked for a trade from the Mariners in 1999 to be closer to home. He eventually got one just before the 2000 season, to Cincinnati.

Griffey has been increasingly injury prone, but his batting stats remain good. He can draw a walk and hits for power. His batting averages have slipped but the other two compensate. Overall he can help a team, but Seattle is so rotten right now, that Griffey isn’t likely to turn things around He will probably bring some fans to the ballpark though.


Former MLB Pitcher Herb Score dead at 75

Score was best remembered for three things

His blazing fastball

A long career as a Cleveland Indian announcer

and having his career fall off a cliff after a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald hit him in a face on May 7th 1967. Till then Score appeared to be on the road to greatness. He is well remembered by not just Cleveland Indian fans, but all baseball fans. RIP.


Former MLB Pitcher Bruce Dal Canton dead at 66

He was mostly a relief pitcher in the 60′s and 70′s who then had a long career as a pitching coach. Dal Canton was the a rarity on a couple of fronts,- He was discovered at a tryout camp by the Pirates and Bruce was a Knuckleball pitcher. I certainly saw Dal Canton pitch during his career but remember little except his throwing the knuckler. RIP


Former MLB Shortstop Eddie Brinkman dead at 66

An excellent gloveman, but a light hitter, Brinkman played spent most of his career with the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers. Brinkman was part of the deal that sent Denny McLain to Washington after the 1970 season. More recently Eddie Brinkman worked for the Chicago White Sox. Living in New York till I was 15, I saw Brinkman play when I sometimes watched NY Yankee baseball. He was an excellent defensive SS. RIP Eddie.


Chisox Carlos Quentin suffers self-inflicted wrist injury.

This must be the week for crazy baseball injuries. From AP-

CHICAGO — American League home run leader Carlos Quentin has a broken right wrist stemming from his own temper, and the Chicago White Sox left fielder will have surgery Monday that could sideline him for the rest of the season.

Quentin was injured Monday night in Cleveland. After fouling off a pitch while batting against Cliff Lee, Quentin hit his right hand on the bat as he was holding it with his left.

“What did happen was kind of unfortunate. It’s kind of something that, you know, I still have trouble believing that it happened that way,” Quentin said Friday.

“My last at-bat, the second pitch I fouled off against Lee. Something I’ve done thousands of times since I was a kid. A little frustrated. I had the bat in my left hand and I just kind of hit down on the bat head with my right hand with a closed fist. I kind of hit a little bit low, nicked my wrist and finished the at-bat.

Only a few days ago, LA Angel pitcher Jered Weaver cut his pitching fingers on the dugout bench. Weaver will miss one start, but Quentin is likely to be out the rest of 2008. That will definitely impact the White Sox and this year’s pennant races.


Former MLB Pitcher Chuck Stobbs dead at age 79

The left handed Stobbs came to the Major Leagues for the first time in 1947 and stayed around till 1961. He won over 100 games, but with a losing record. Mostly because he played most of his career with one of the worst teams(The Senators) in the American League. His one claim to fame or infamy, was giving up a 565 homerun to Mickey Mantle. My memories of Stobbs comes from my playing past seasons of Strat-O-Matic baseball. His luck in most of the games I recreated were no better than Stobbs was in real-life. RIP.


Toronto Blue Jays release Frank Thomas

This comes the day after Thomas vented his anger at being removed from the lineup.

The Toronto Blue Jays released slumping designated hitter Frank Thomas Sunday, cutting the 19-year veteran loose one day after he was angry for being taken out of the lineup.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi said he and Thomas came to “a mutual agreement” after meeting in the clubhouse early Sunday.

“Our best opportunity is to put other guys in the lineup at this point,” Ricciardi said. “Obviously, reduced playing time is not something that he was interested in. In order to let him go forward and get on with his career, I think it’s fair to do it at this point.”

The move leaves the Blue Jays on the hook for the remainder of the two-year $18-million contract the 39-year-old Thomas signed in November 2006.

Thomas was hitless in his past 13 at-bats and had gone 4-for-35 since homering in three straight games April 5-8. Known as a slow starter, he batted .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs for Toronto this season.

Last season, Thomas batted .277, leading the team with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs.

“I don’t know that we have the luxury of waiting two to three months for somebody to kick in because we can’t let this league or this division get away from us,” Ricciardi said.

A team, if it wants to stay in the pennant race, has to often be ruthless in its personnel decisions. John Smith won you 18 games last year, but if he can’t get anyone out this year, a team needs to move quickly or watch a season slip by. This philosophy worked wonders for Casey Stengel with the 1950′s Yankess. Look at the pitching staffs of the Yankees and you’ll see a consistent pattern of pitchers falling out of favor with Casey. Bob Grim, Tom Sturdivant, Johnny Kucks, and more would have a good year one year, and be out of the rotation or even traded the next.

Thomas’ actions and remarks show he is concerned only for himself. He refused to shake the hands of his teammates after the game on Saturday. That isn’t a classy move.

Frank Thomas was a great hitter, maybe still is. If Thomas can still produce, he’ll find employment fast enough.


Former NY Yankee pitcher Tommy Byrne dead at 87

He did two tours with the Casey Stengel Yankees starting in 1949. Casey never had a set rotation or lineup. Rather he was always moving pitchers around, if not from the starting rotation to the bullpen, or the Yankees to Kansas City, Stengel liked to match certain pitchers against certain AL teams. Pitchers Whitey Ford, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat seeing usually the AL’s best other than NY. Guys like Byrne, Don Larsen, Art Ditmar and others facing the 2nd division. Still Tommy was a vital cog of 3 World Championship teams, appeared in 4 post seasons, won 85 games, and swung a pretty good bat for a pitcher. As seen by his lifetime Batting average of .238, .350 OBP and 8 career homeruns. RIP.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) — Tommy Byrne, who fulfilled a boyhood dream by pitching for the New York Yankees and won a game during the 1955 World Series, has died. He was 87.

Byrne, who served two terms as Wake Forest mayor, died Thursday, his son John said Saturday. Tommy Byrne had congestive heart failure and was in declining health the last six weeks. He was surrounded by his family and priest when he died, his son added.

After two years at what was then Wake Forest College, Byrne signed with the Yankees in 1940. In his rookie year of 1943, he played in 11 games and had a 2-1 record.

Byrne eventually was traded to the St. Louis Browns and also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and the Washington Senators. He returned to the Yankees in 1954, and in 1955 pitched a complete-game victory in Game 2 of the World Series. But he was the loser in Game 7, 2-0 to Johnny Podres and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“His lifetime dream was to pitch for the New York Yankees,” said John Byrne, who is mayor of Fuquay-Varina. He said that dream grew from the fact that his father was born in Baltimore, home of Babe Ruth. The two eventually met when Ruth appeared at an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium.

“He borrowed my father’s glove,” John Byrne said. “Daddy said he could have had anything he had in his locker.”

The glove is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, displayed as the last glove Ruth used at Yankee Stadium.

Byrne served eight years as a town commissioner starting in 1968 and became mayor in 1975. He served a second term as mayor in the 1980s but failed in at least three attempts to become a county commissioner.

“My father always believed in helping people and serving,” John Byrne said. “In growing up, I got to see him do a lot of good things. You have role models as you pass through life. He was certainly one of mine.”

Besides John Byrne and his wife, Tommy Byrne is survived by two other sons, Thomas J. Byrne Jr. and Charles P. Byrne; a daughter, Susan Byrne Gantt; 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


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