Sports Outside the Beltway

No margin for error- Arizona beats the Dodgers 4-3

Last night’s NL west game is a prime example of why I am not a fan of the intentional walk.

Joe Torre chose to look on the bright side after the Los Angeles Dodgers walked in the winning run in a 4-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.


Diamondbacks’ winning rally began when Ramon Troncoso (4-3) threw away Gerardo Parra’s roller to the mound, allowing him to reach second on the error.


As it turned out, that was the only ball that left the infield in the bottom of the ninth.

Trent Oeltjen ran for Parra and took third on Ryan Roberts’ sacrifice. After intentional walks to Stephen Drew and Justin Upton, Troncoso missed with a 3-2 fastball to Mark Reynolds, who had fouled off a pair of pitches with two strikes.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Reynolds said. “I just fouled off some tough pitches and was able to work a good AB.”

Torre said he walked Drew and Upton to set up a force at home. He also hoped Troncoso could strike out Reynolds, who leads the majors with 190 strikeouts.

Not one ball put into play outside the infield and the Dodgers lose. Isn’t that ridiculous? I know what Torre was trying to do, to set up a double play or force play. By loading the bases he takes away his pitcher’s margin of error. Do you know batting averages are higher when the sacks are full. The simple reason why- A pitcher has to try being perfect with the batter up there, and we humans are error prone.

Don Zimmer while managing the Chicago Cubs intentionally walked his team out of a World Series appearance in 1990. Mr. Potato Head ordered his pitcher to IW one batter which filled the bases with one out. The pitcher got the first out, then Will Clark hit a grand slam. That worked real well, eh? The list of managers who hated issuing intentional walks is long. Billy Martin, Dick Howser, Walter Alston in his last years managing the Dodgers. Yes there are times it is a good strategy but to fill the bases just so you can get a force at all bags isn’t one of them.


Former MLB Manager Danny Ozark dead at 85

He helped to mold the Philadelphia Phillies into one of the best teams in baseball from the late 70′s to early 80′s. RIP

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark has died at his home in Florida. He was 85.

Team officials say Ozark died Thursday morning at his home in Vero Beach.

Ozark led the Phillies to three consecutive National League East titles in the late 1970s but fell short of the World Series each time. He became manager of the Phillies in 1973 and was named Associated Press Manager of the Year in 1976 after leading the Phillies to a 101-61 record.

Ozark had a 594-510 record in seven seasons in Philadelphia. A year after his departure the Phillies won their first World Series under manager Dallas Green.

The AP obituary was very incomplete, maybe because the news of Ozark passing away just happened. What wasn’t reported by AP-

Ozark also managed the San Francisco Giants
He was a minor league player, who never made it to the big leagues, before becoming a coach and manager.
Ozark was one of the many baseball managers who came out of the Brooklyn/LA Dodger organization. Before and after he managed the Phillies, Ozark was a member of the LA Dodgers coaching staff.


Manny Ramirez suspended fifty games for using banned substance

Another high profile athlete snared by drug testing. From ESPN-

Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday, becoming the latest high-profile player ensnared in the sport’s drug scandals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star said he did not take steroids and was prescribed medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance. The commissioner’s office didn’t announce the specific violation by the 36-year-old outfielder, who apologized to the Dodgers and fans for “this whole situation.”

“Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me,” Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players’ union.

“Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

The suspension began Thursday and barring any postponements Ramriez will be able to return to the Dodgers — who now have the best record in baseball — for the July 3 game at San Diego. Ramirez will lose almost $8 million of his $25 million salary.

The ‘I was prescribed the substance’ excuse explanation. It’s been used so often, I don’t buy it any more. If I was an athlete who was prescribed any medication and at some later time drug tested, I would make sure before hand that it wasn’t banned. Just speaking as having a long history of being a major medical patient, I don’t just take any medication from a doctor without knowing what it is, what it is used for, and what if any side effects come from using it.

The article also states-

Strength coaches around Major League Baseball have long preached to players that any substance they consider taking — whether it’s an over-the-counter supplement, or medication from a doctor — should be done in consultation with the union prior to ingesting it. Players also have access to a hotline, which was established in the wake of the Mitchell report, to ask questions.

In other words there was no reason Ramirez shouldn’t have known the substance was banned IF it was prescribed legally.

Because of stupidity, the Dodgers will have to replace the slugger who has 6 homeruns and was batting .348 for the season, with a AAA minor league player. Los Angeles Dodger fans have good reason to be angry with the slugger, whether he intentionally broke the MLB substance rules or not.


NY Met Gary Sheffield hits 500th homer of his career

He became the 25th player in baseball history to reach that milestone. From AP-

Gary Sheffield crossed home plate and thrust his arms in the air after unleashing his 500th homer with another vicious swing, and then the surly slugger was humbled by the site of his new Mets teammates pouring out of the dugout.

Sheffield was greeted with hugs and high fives after becoming the 25th player to reach the milestone with a tying homer in the seventh inning Friday. The party switched focus in the bottom of the ninth when Luis Castillo hit a two-out, run-scoring single to give the Mets a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I was so excited that, you know, when I looked over to the dugout, those were the guys,” said Sheffield, who signed with New York on April 4 after being released by Detroit four days earlier. “I appreciate every one of those guys. They’ve been very special to me.”

Last night’s homer came against the franchise Sheffield started his career with. He was drafted by Milwaukee in 1986.

Should Sheffield be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame one day? Besides his home runs, he has a career .292 batting average but more impressively a .394 career on base percentage. There is no question, Sheffield has been an offensive machine for two decades. The case against his induction is fairly strong. Sheffield has been a defensive liability his entire career, has had behavioral and discipline problems on and off the field, and as a result traveled extensively. Not too many HOFers have played for eight teams in their career.

Tim Kurkjian of ESPN writes-

Sheffield was not named in the Mitchell report, but in his testimony before a grand jury in the BALCO case in 2003, he acknowledged using “the cream” and “the clear,” but said he didn’t know they were steroids at the time. Still, that admission raises questions about steroid use even though he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. From 1988-98, he had two 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. From 1999-on, which appears to be the height of the steroid era, he had seven straight years of 25 homers, and six of his eight 100-RBI seasons.

Sheffield’s case is a tricky one. He has always played hard, he has often helped his team win, and he has been a middle-of-the-order hitter in the postseason with three different organizations, including a world championship team (the 1997 Marlins). He is not DiMaggio, obviously. He is not Schmidt, Griffey or Yastrzemski. Despite having similar numbers, he is not even close to being Frank Robinson, all things considered.

The marks against him are noticeable and troublesome, but his numbers — especially 500 home runs — are very impressive. His case is debatable, but I believe he’s a Hall of Famer.

His drug use is another factor to weigh for Sheffield. Should all players caught up in that scandal be excluded from the HOF? I don’t have a vote on who goes to Cooperstown, if I did, I don’t know if I would vote for Sheffield.


Orlando Hudson hits for the cycle as Dodgers rout Giants 11-1

He was the first Dodger to accomplish the feat since Wes Parker(!) in 1970. From AP-

Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle, Andre Ethier drove in four runs with a pair of homers and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Randy Johnson and the San Francisco Giants 11-1 to win their home opener on Monday.


Hudson completed the majors’ first cycle this season with a sixth-inning triple off Brandon Medders. He slid into base ahead of a throw by right fielder Randy Winn, got up and pointed to the sky.

Hudson singled in the first, homered in the third and doubled in the fourth — all off Johnson — and became the first Dodger since Wes Parker on May 7, 1970, and the ninth in franchise history to complete the cycle.

Hudson is the first Dodger to do it at Dodger Stadium; Parker accomplished the feat at New York’s Shea Stadium.

Since the park was opened in 1962, Dodger Stadium has been one of the toughest hitter’s parks in baseball. I am not surprised by there never being a cycle hit there.

There was a few other things of note about this game.

Johnson lost at Dodger Stadium for the first time in his 22-year career, falling to 7-1 in just his second start in Los Angeles since 2004. He was denied his 296th career victory, although the 45-year-old left-hander earned his 4,800th strikeout in the third inning against James Loney.

That Johnson likes Dodger Stadium isn’t surprising. He’s definitely headed to Cooperstown six years throwing his last Major League pitch.


Detroit Tigers release Designated Hitter Gary Sheffield

Has the veteran of over twenty major league baseball seasons hit the end of the road? From AP-

The Detroit Tigers have released nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, who is one home run away from 500 for his career.

Detroit parted ways with the designated hitter Tuesday after a disappointing stay with the Tigers. The team was hopeful Sheffield would be a powerful presence at the plate in the final season of the $28 million, two-year contract extension it gave him after acquiring him from the Yankees for prospects.

But he failed to deliver in large part because he often was injured.

The move comes a day after the Tigers acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from Atlanta, forcing the team to make some tough decisions about its roster a week ahead of opening the season in Toronto.

Sheffield hit .178 in 18 games this spring.

The move was almost certainly made because of Sheffield’s salary. He hit only .225 last year and he’s forty-years-old. An age where most players are out of the game and whose who still remain are in decline. I still think Sheffield will play some more ML baseball and hit over 500 homeruns but I’m skeptical if he’ll be any legitimate help to any team at this stage in his career.


Former MLB Manager Preston Gomez dead at 85

He was the first ever manager of the San Diego Padres. Before that he worked in the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodger organization and had a very brief career as a player. RIP


Former MLB Pitcher Nick Willhite dead at 67

A hard throwing lefty, he was on two world series rosters with the Los Angeles Dodgers but never appeared on the mound. Two interesting notes about his career.

He was sold and repurchased by the LA Dodgers in less than seven months.

More notably, he was traded by the California Angels to the New York Mets in 1967 for Jack Hamilton. This set in motion the beaning of Boston Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro later in the season. Jack Hamilton was the pitcher whose pitch helped destroy that promising player’s career. Thought I would share that trivia. RIP Nick.


LA Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsley breaks leg at home

Another odd injury involving a MLB player has taken place.

Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley had surgery on Saturday after fracturing his leg in a fall at his Pennsylvania home.

Team spokesman Josh Rawitch said that the 24-year-old Billingsley slipped on ice outside his house in Reading, Pa., and suffered a spiral fracture of the fibula in his left leg on Friday.

He had surgery to put a plate in and will be in a cast for two weeks. Rawitch said the surgery went as expected and Billingsley should be ready to throw by spring training.

Rawitch said the surgery was performed by Dr. Paul Neuman, an orthopedic surgeon in Reading, after consulting with team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Billingsley was 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA this past season. He lost Game 2 and Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pitchers are injury prone enough on the ball field, to have one get hurt in some sort of household accident has to be particularly irksome. Hopefully Billingsley and the Dodgers won’t be damaged too much by what happened.


Losing no-hitters

Last night you might have heard that Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and Jos̩ Arredondo pitched a no-hitter against the LA Dodgers Рand lost.

Here’s how the run scored:

Weaver (7-8) was victimized by his own fielding error with one out in the fifth inning that allowed Matt Kemp to reach first.

Kemp’s spinning squibber rolled to the right of the mound and Weaver rushed toward first base to grab the ball, but bobbled it. The ruling on whether it was a hit or an error was a close one, since Weaver would have had to field the ball cleanly — and first baseman Casey Kotchman was off the bag. Official scorer Don Hartack ruled it an error.

“I believe if he just picked it up with his bare hand and flipped it, he gets him by a good step and a half,” Hartack said. “So my thinking was, it really wasn’t a bang-bang play. I looked at the replay once and it looked like Kemp was a good seven steps away, so my thinking was Weaver had plenty of time to make the out.”

Kemp completely agreed with the scoring.

“I hit it off the end of the bat and it had a little funky English on it,” he said. “He could have made the play, but he just dropped the ball. It was an error. I mean, if they’d have given me a hit, I’d have been happy. But it was an error by far.”

Kemp stole second and continued to third on catcher Jeff Mathis’ throwing error, then scored on Blake DeWitt’s sacrifice fly.

This was the fifth time in baseball history that a team pitching the no-hitter lost. The complete list:

Allowed 0 Hits, Lost Game
Year Pitcher(s) Team
2008 J. Weaver, J. Arredondo Angels
1992 Matt Young Red Sox
1990 Andy Hawkins Yankees
1967 S. Barber, S. Miller Orioles
1964 Ken Johnson Colt .45′s

Last night’s game does not count as a no-hitter as MLB changed the rules to only count it as no-hitter when the pitcher(s) pitch at least 9 innings and complete the game.

I knew that the Orioles had once lost a no-hitter to the Tigers 2 – 1 but I just saw that the worst such loss was suffered by Andy Hawkins of the Yankees. He lost to the White Sox 4 – 0 on July 1, 1990.

Hawkins suffered the defeat when a two-out fly ball hit by Robin Ventura with the bases loaded was dropped in left field by a Yankee rookie, Jim Leyritz, allowing three runs to score. Ventura scored another run when Jesse Barfield, blinded momentarily by the sun, dropped a fly ball hit to right by Ivan Calderon.

Hawkins wasn’t certain how to separate his emotions afterward. Fans cheered him when the game was over and his teammates applauded him when he entered the clubhouse, but he never allowed himself to smile.

”I’m stunned; I really am,” he said, still standing on the field. ”This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it’s going to be a loss. You think of Stewart and Fernando, coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.”

The next year, Hawkins was a little more philosophical.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.


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