Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB pitcher Geremi Gonzalez killed by lightning strike

He won 11 of his career 30 wins as a rookie with the 1997 Chicago Cubs. After that arm injuries hampered Gonzalez’ career. RIP.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Former major league pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, who won 11 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1997, was killed by a lightning strike in his native Venezuela on Sunday. He was 33.

Geremi Gonzalez pitched for five major league teams and compiled a 30-35 career record.

Emergency management official Herman Bracho said Monday that Gonzalez was struck by lightning at a beach.

Gonzalez pitched for five major league teams from 1997-2006. The right-hander appeared in 131 games with 83 starts, compiling a 30-35 record.

Gonzalez also played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. He made a combined 24 appearances for the Mets and Brewers in his final major league season in 2006.

The Toronto Blue Jays released him during spring training last year. Gonzalez then moved to Japan and pitched in five games for the Yomiuri Giants.


Fernando Vina

Of all the criticisms leveled in the on-going baseball steroid scandal, the one receiving the least attention is the effect media blindness played in the unfolding of the scandal. As it happens, ESPN has in their employ a player named in the Mitchell Report. Fernando Vina had a fairly long major league career spanning 12 seasons.

Fernando Vina played several positions with five teams in Major League Baseball from 1993 until 2004, the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Detroit Tigers. He played in the 1998 All-Star game and won two National League Golden Glove Awards as a second baseman. During the 2007 baseball season, he was a commentator for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

While Radomski was working for the Mets as a clubhouse attendant in 1993, he met Vina, who was then in the Mets minor league system. Radomski stated that he sold anabolic steroids or human growth hormone to Vina six to eight times during 2000 to 2005. Radomski produced three checks from Vina. Radomski stated that these checks reflected a March 2003 purchase by Vina of human growth hormone, an April 2003 purchase by Vina of steroids, most likely Winstrol, and a July 2005 purchase by Vina of Deca-Durabolin.

ESPN suddenly has a dilemma. During the season, discussion of steroids and performance enhancing drugs occurred often. At no time did their analyst Vina step forward and acknowledge what is alleged in the Mitchell Report. This creates a credibility gap with the network mockingly referred to as the WWL (World Wide Leader in sports). Does ESPN sacrifice Vina to attempt to save some aspect of their credibility, or do they choose to stand by their guy?

Consider that even analysts have a responsibility in a news organization to the truth. That Vina was linked to this report demands both a reckoning on ESPN’s part, and some kind of statement from Vina as to the veracity of these claims. He can deny them, and without more evidence, that would be that,a he said, he said spat. But the reality of the accusation must be acknowledged.

My axe is ground against the media, who with their access to athletes knew more about this scandal than they let on. Some reporters have acknowledged that they could have and should have dug deeper to get to the story. But Vina’s case points out the difficulty that is faced in sports journalism.

Stories are gained by access to the clubhouse, to the athletes and to the support personnel. Write up something that puts a player in a bad light and a reporter might mind him or herself shut out. As a former player, the primary reason to appear on shows or in print is because of the forged contacts made as a player, contacts that give an advantage at understanding the inner workings of the game. Quite literally in this case, inside baseball.

Would Vina retain his value to ESPN if he with one of the reporters broke a story about that particular aspect of the Mitchell Report? Clearly the answer is yes. That’s investigative journalism. And the Ennuipundit loves himself some good old fashioned well-researched tasty investigative journalism. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory, as the access to the players that Vina had would be compromised by the exposure of the misdeeds of his former teammates.

In the modern era of reporting, which is little more than the dutiful recitation of carefully worded press releases crafted by agents and publicists and fed to a media, nominally devoted to truth, but profitted from running a well-oiled hype machine, such exposes are becoming frustratingly rare.

ESPN’s credibility is compromised by Vina’s continued presence as an in studio analyst, precisely because he has access to players, which is used selectively not in the furtherance of truth, but rather to promote an agenda. ESPN, the WWL, profits from the broadcast of major league baseball games. They have a vested interest in being able to provide that coverage with the dugout interviews and other nonsense, which in all frankness, detracts from the experience of watching a game. To lose that access would damage their bottom line. And so the stories go untold. The truth about whether a game is clean or not is obscured.

No one believes that the inane ramblings of the “announcers” at WWE wrestling events have any connection with truth. They are employees of the WWE and are compensated solely and wholly to say what Mr. McMahon wants them to say. Adherence to the bottom line has taken such a priority over pursuit of truth in sports coverage, that much of what is passed off as sports information is unwatchable. Do the suits at ESPN have more sway than the journalists when deciding stories? The answer sadly seems to be yes.


Brewers’ season ending press conference recap

Doug Melvin’s end of season press conference recap…my observations in bold:

Team always reports early to spring training, and gets off to a good start. Have to work on maintaining that. Many of the playoff teams got off to slow starts and finished strong. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Bullpen took a lot of criticism, and not all of it was warranted. Cordero was 2nd in saves, Turnbow and Shouse were 2nd in holds, Shouse was in 60 games and never gave up a HR. Those 3 gave up one HR all year at home, until the last game, when Frankie allowed 2. Bullpen was the reason the team started strong, and had to pick up a lot of work because of the starters. In 2006, the starters went 7 or more innings 62 times, in 2007, only 33. The relievers were asked to pick up that extra work, and it showed.

If those numbers are correct, it is astounding. The toughest part of managing a ‘pen is getting to your best pitchers, and not overworking them. That’s a huge amount of pivotal frames the bullpen had to fill, and as pointed out, it showed.

Offense was a HR hitting team, Miller Park is a HR park, made for fly ball hitters, and the team was built that way. 15th in the NL in walks, need a couple of “professional” hitters, work the count, or pick up a walk before a HR. Hoping to add a guy or two like that. When the team blew an early 4-0 lead, many blamed the bullpen, but it can also be traced to not adding on a run or two by not taking a walk. Team has great speed, and used it well, except for Hall, who did not utilize his much.

Hall hardly ran at all, and did not go 1B-3B much, because he only got on 31% of the time.

Ned and the staff did an admirable job, Ned has strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else. Ned was told to develop players a few years ago and did just what he was asked. Many managers would not have done that like Ned. He agreed Lyle should be moved so Prince could play, JJ and Rickie were put in there every day despite struggles in the past. Those guys were ready because Ned stuck with them, many managers would not have done that. Ned is a fine manager of the entire organization. Areas he needs to improve on, as does everyone.

As for game management, everyone is a manager when something does not work. Even the teams in the postseason have been second guessed, should Peavy have pitched so long the other night? Who knows?

It’s an easy call when you read the last page first. Most folks have no clue how to decide earlier, however. That’s why they don’t bother explaining the mistake until 12 hours later.

Told Mark A not to expect Braun and Fielder types every 5 years, those guys are Yount and Molitor types, or Trammel and Whitaker, once every 20 years or so. Prince was the youngest to ever hit 50 home runs, those guys don’t come along every few years.

Know they have a lot to do…not going to be like hair conditioner, “just sit there and think I’m working”, got a lot to do.

That’s a great line.

Wants expectations to be high, wants people to pick the Crew to win, because of where the the team is now and where it’s going.

Would describe the season as disappointing, yet one of great progress. Scouts said Fielder might hit 50 homers someday, had no idea it would be now. No clue Braun would be up so soon and be so good right away.

One area of weakness was the rotation, thought it would be better. Ben being healthy would have helped, only made 4 starts in 2nd half that he did not have to leave early. That alone was a big difference, if he had got a dozen more starts. Thought they had good SP depth, but maybe needed more. Need 100 starts and 600 innings from your 3 main guys, did not get that. That said, we have 8 potential starters, and teams already are calling asking if SP’s are available, so apparently, despite wanting more, still have more than many other teams.

4 SP’s are a lock it would seem, but given how much Doug talked about it, adding another “innings eater” type, either for the bullpen or as the #5 guy, is possible. The fact teams are already calling would seemingly make fans who said Capuano and Vargas has no value look as stupid as I thought.

Home/road splits are an oddity, some attribute it to youth, but Arizona did fine and they are younger. Stat guys don’t have an explanation for it. Veterans might be the key to pulling you through tough times, and road trips.

Maybe need to get off to a slow start and finish strong. (tongue in cheek)

Discussed how he saw an article that listed nine managers that were in trouble, and all nine had winning marks. All four that got extensions were on losing teams…figure that one out.

Heh. It’s always the manager’s fault when the pitching goes south (like with the Mets) or when the ace gets hurt. Personally, I feel it’s intellectual fatigue, no one wants to analyze like Doug does, so they blame the manager and order up another beer.

Ned said he made some mistakes, especially with his bullpen usage. He’s still learning, he’s a huge part of the reason the team is where they are at. He’ll be back next year. Bullpens are never consistent from year-to-year, it’s just the way it is. Linebrink was one of the best set-up men in the game for years, and who replaced him? A kid that was in AAA for the Mets last year, and he was just outstanding.

He never used the words “small sample”, but basically, he described it perfectly. Over 200 frames, Suppan is pretty steady, if you split it up into 3 “seasons”, he is not. That’s exactly what a reliever’s numbers are.

Turnbow had some bad outings, but only gave up a run in 4 of his last 32 outings. Now, in the games he gave up runs, he may have given up 2 or 3, and the team lost some of those games, but overall, he was fine. Guys get booed. Saw John Wetteland booed in Texas, and he was an all-time great. When Derrick blows up, he blows up, and he’ll admit that. Many fans are short-sighted, they only recall the last game or two. Cordero never gets all those saves without Derrick’s holds.

Tried to patch up the ‘pen, brought in Linebrink, and tried to get Eric Gagne, sure glad they were not successful, backed off a bit at the end.

Surprised to hear Doug be so forthright here, basically implying how much Gagne sucked.

Will talk to Ned Monday about the coaching staff.

Needs, the SP’s need to go deeper to save the bullpen. Need to improve team OBP, by at least a few notches. Would like to add a couple hitters, improve rotation innings total, either in-house or or otherwise, and add some bullpen help.

Almost exactly what I expected, though it sure doesn’t sound like C & LF will be solved by in-house options. Thrilled he mentioned OBP and walks many times.

As of today, Hall is the CF. Guys like Andruw Jones and Torri Hunter are available, but may not be willing to go anywhere except a list of 3-4 teams. Stay away from low BB/high K guys.

Did not throw out runners like they had hoped. Estrada was fine offensively, about average for the position.

Catching is a black hole, as Doug pointed out, Johnny was right in the middle of the pack, despite less than hoped for numbers.

Would love to follow the Cleveland model of signing guys long-term and taking a year or two of free agency, but will have to see.

Farm system weaker, because so many have been added. Still plenty of talent, mentioned Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel.

Payroll will be discussed, but Mark A has said he plows money back into the team, one way or another. Ticket sales were 12th, so payroll could move up. Not going to spend it just to spend it. Talk to Mark A almost daily, he is up to date on everything, and makes final decisions. Never held Doug back from making a move yet due to financials.

Weak free agent class. More trades than big signings expected. Probably because of teams focusing on developing their own young players and then keeping them.

Cordero will probably file, but he and his agent will say they will consider Milwaukee.

Team has many untouchables, a bit more limited than some others.

To get to the postseason, need to stay healthy, and get a career year out of a player or two you did not expect.

Very little mention of the weak defense…I’m sure the braintrust looks at it as just a work in progress…22 year-olds rarely play defense as well as when they are 27. You can’t accept Braun’s incredible hitting, literally a once every 10-15 years debut, and expect him to field like Wade Boggs did at his peak.

Here is Adam’s recap at the team site.

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Who is your NL MVP?

We still have just under 3 weeks of regular season baseball left to play, it’s not quite football season yet! The National League is totally up for grabs. The Central can be won by any of three teams. The East by the Mets or Phillies. The West by any of four teams. What a race! With all the competition, who is the National League’s MVP? I will list the top candidates and give you my pick for the NL MVP.

David Wright (3B Mets) – Here is the pick that you will most commonly see. Wright is a great option for the NL MVP. He is hitting .316/.411/.544 with a career high 28 homers, 35 doubles, 96 RBI, 98 runs, 31 stolen bases, and a 86/108 BB/K rate. Wright could, and should, win the gold glove at 3B. Wright kept the offense going while Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup due to injury and he has tore it up in the 2nd half (.355/.470/.609 and a 45/35 BB/K rate) with Jose Reyes struggling and hitting .258 since the break. Wright has carried the team on his shoulders but I tend to remember the team carrying him when he struggled at the beginning of the season.

Chase Utley (2B Phillies) – Utley has missed some time due to injury and if not for that missed time I think we would be looking at the NL MVP. He is hitting .338/.417/.565 with 18 homers, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, 86 runs, 9 stolen bases, and a 46/75 BB/K rate. He leads the league in AVG and is second in OBP. He plays a physically demanding postion up the middle and holds his own. The knocks on Utley are that he has a lineup around him and that he his home stats carry his total stats (.384/.458/.643 with 12 of his 18 homers). But imagine where teh Phillies would be if he never got hurt.

Matt Holliday (LF Rockies) – If the Rockies squeek their way into the playoffs this guy could easily win the award. Holliday is hitting .335/.396/.586 with 29 homers, 46 doubles, 5 triples, a league leading 191 hits, a league leading 116 RBI, 100 runs, 11 stolen bases, but a not-to-great BB/K rate of 52/111. Holliday also has improved his defense in left. The knock on Holliday will always be that he plays in Coors but he has hit .306 with 51 RBI on the road this season. If the Rockies miss the playoffs expect Holliday to finish in the 5-8 range in the MVP voting.

Prince Fielder (1B Brewers) – You want power numbers for your MVP? Fielder is your man. He has hit to the tune of .290/.387/.616 with a league leading 44 bombs. He has also driven in 105, scored 96, hit 33 doubles, and has a good BB/K rate for a power hitter at 72/105. The Brew Crew have had a hard time keeping the lead in the Central and Fielder could lose votes for that. He could also lose votes due to the surrounding cast he has in rookie Ryan Braun (tied for 5th in homer with 30 in only 388 at-bats), Corey Hart (hitting .297/.355/.536 and is a 20/20 guy), and J.J. Hardy having a career year at SS with 24 homers. But let’s not forget that Bill Hall is having a down year with only 13 homers and a .258 AVG. And Rickie Weeks has been injured and been sent down to AAA. Fielder is a good option for MVP.

Jimmy Rollins (SS Phillies) – If I had a vote it would go to Rollins. He has been the one constant in the Phillies lineup. While Ryan Howard was out he hit. While Utley was out he hit. While Pat Burrell sucked he hit. While the bullpen was blowing saves. While the bullpen and rotation were injured. While… wait, I think you get my point by now. Overall Rollins is hitting .295/.346/.532 while leading the league in runs scored at 125, triples at 17, at-bats with 633, tied for the lead in extra-base hits at 80, and third in hits with 187. He is second amongst shortstops in homers with 27, tied for the lead in RBI with 82, third in doubles with 35, and third in stolen bases with 30. Like Wright, Rollins should also win a gold-glove if there is any justice in this world. In my opinion defense is way overlooked when it comes to MVP voting and it should factor in. Now, imagine where the Phillies would be without Rollins.

Other notable options:

Albert Pujols (1B Cardinals) – .321/.424/.562 with 30 homers, 31 doubles, 89 RBI, 88 runs, and a ridiculous 90/56 BB/K rate.

Russ Martin (C Dodgers) – .297/.378/.475 with 17 homers, 30 doubles, 21 stolen bases, 81 RBI, 80 runs, and 60/79 BB/K rate.

Chipper Jones (3B Braves) – .330/.416/.598 with 25 homers, 39 doubles, 87 RBI, 93 runs, and a 70/70 BB/K rate.

Eric Byrnes (OF Diamondbacks) – .297/.367/.487 with 21 homers, 28 doubles, 8 triples, 81 RBI, 94 runs, 45 stolen bases, and a 56/89 BB/K rate.


Umpires vs. technology

As I’ve said before, umpires need help. And I refer you to a piece I wrote over a year ago on this very same subject. Baseball (and sports in general) is far behind the times in utilizing modern technology where it can, specifically to improve officiating.

I’ve thought about this topic for a long time. I think Questec is a good thing. (For those who dont know, it’s a computerized system that measures ball & strikes, and compares it to what the umpire actually called.)

One of the biggest and most frustrating problems in pro sports are bad calls by umps/refs. What I’d like to see is the steady removal of the so-called ‘human error’ from sports; I’ll talk specifically about baseball:

When umps are unsure when a ball is fair or foul down the line, why can’t a system be installed like they use in tennis? They could use technology to determine whether balls are just that, fair or foul.

Also, on disputed HRs, they must use instant replay. There’s no other fair way. An ump should be stationed in the park somewhere near a TV, like in the NHL. He should have the final word, since he’ll have access to the replay.

On balls and strikes, why not use Questec or ESPN’s ‘K-Zone’ (for example) to actually call the strikes? The only problem is that strike zone height is different for every hitter, but width is exactly the same, 17 inches (the width of homeplate). Rickey Henderson had a smaller up/down zone because he was short and crouched, and Richie Sexson’s up/down zone is bigger because he’s 6’8″. But their side-to-side zone is exactly the same. Therefore, computers/technology should be used to tell an umpire when a ball hits the plate or just misses. For the time being, umps will still need to call the up/down pitches (because every hitter is different), but will know for sure when a pitch crosses the corner or not. Or an ump could be assigned to determine the upper limit of each hitter’s strike zone dependent on his stance.

It also sucks when a pitcher throws a strike, but it’s not where he meant to throw it, the catcher has to reach for it, so the ump automatically calls it a ball. It doesn’t matter where the pitcher MEANT to throw the ball, it only matters whether it’s a strike or a ball.

For out/safe calls, when the closest ump feels the play is too close to call, he could send it to the ‘booth ump.’ TV technology is such today that it could be done in 30-60 seconds. Or (ala the NFL) managers should have two replays to use per game.

These steps would help legitimize the officiating and would make for fewer arguments from players and managers. You can’t argue with Questec strikes – it’s 100% consistent and 0% prejudiced (for veterans, or against rookies). Instant replay would also ensure the right call, and isn’t that worth waiting (at most) 60 seconds for – especially in close and/or playoff games?


Braves Cut Julio Franco, Want Him Back

Julio Franco is once again without a team, as the Atlanta Braves cut him to make room on the roster for Octavio Doctel.

Julio Franco Atlanta Braves Photo The Braves would like the 48-year-old Julio Franco to stay with the team either as a player or player-coach in the minor leagues. Franco could then be brought back to the big league team when rosters are expanded in September. Julio Franco was designated for assignment and put on waivers Wednesday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the popular first baseman’s playing career with the Braves is over. If he makes it through waivers without being claimed in 72 hours, the Braves would like the 48-year-old to stay with them either as a player or player-coach in the minor leagues. Franco could then be brought back to the big league team when rosters are expanded in September. But he won’t be playing much first base now that the Braves have Mark Teixeira, the switch-hitting slugger they got in a seven-player trade with Texas on Tuesday.

“We’re hoping he’ll take an assignment in the organization,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who said it was difficult telling Franco the news Wednesday.

Franco was dropped from the roster 13 days after the Braves signed him to a free-agent contract following his release by the New York Mets. “It’s really hard, because he’s doing so well,” Cox said. “He’s been fantastic.” The oldest player in the majors, Franco hit .250 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 11 games for the Braves, including 8-for-24 (.333) with three doubles and five RBIs in his past seven games. “He gave us spark,” Cox said, “not only catching the ball, but hitting. He was a tough out.”

Franco has indicated he would stay with the Braves if not claimed by another team.

The Braves cleared two roster spots for bullpen newcomers Octavio Dotel and Ron Mahay, acquired in trades Tuesday. Reliever Jose Ascanio was optioned to Class AA Mississippi.

One suspects Franco will once again clear waivers, as he did two weeks ago. It’s unlikely he’s an upgrade at first base for most contenders and teams out of the hunt tend not to have a lot of use for 48-year-olds hitting .250.


Rays Making Moves Before Deadline

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays made some moves today. They traded 3B Ty Wigginton to the Houston Astros for former Ray right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler and Jorge Cantu to the Reds for Brian Shackelford. They also sent reliever Shawn Camp to AAA.

Wheeler, 30, is 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA in 45 games for the Astros. He took over as the Astros’ closer when Brad Lidge struggled earlier in the season. Wiggington was batting .275 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs. Last year, he had a career-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs.

“We’re going to need a third baseman moving forward, [Mike] Lamb is a free agent,” an Astros official told’s Buster Olney. “He’s a guy who’s hit 25 home runs. He’s played a lot of positions if you need him to do that.”

The Rays also traded infielder Jorge Cantu, minor league OF Shaun Cumberland, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for reliever Brian Shackelford, minor league pitcher Calvin Medlock, and future considerations.

The Reds optioned Cantu to Triple-A Louisville.

The 25-year-old Cantu had played out his welcome in Tampa Bay after setting the Devil Rays’ single-season club record in 2005 with 117 RBIs with 28 home runs while hitting .286. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player that season.

Last season, he hit .249 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs, and he hit .207 in 25 games with the Devil Rays this year. He was sent to the minors on July 19 and said at the time he expected he’d played his last game for Tampa Bay.

Shackelford spent parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Reds. He was 0-5 in 41 relief appearances with Louisville this season. Tampa Bay also received minor league right-hander Calvin Medlock, 24, who was a combined 4-3 in 42 relief appearances with Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga. Medlock also has a career Minor League record of 29-15 and a 3.24 ERA in 164 games (41 starts) since he was drafted by the Reds in the 39th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft

The Reds also received outfielder Shaun Cumberland, who was hitting .246 with six home runs and 34 RBI for Double-A Montgomery. Cumberland was assigned to Chattanooga.

The Devil Rays have been making wholesale changes to what has been the worst bullpen in baseball. Over its last 30 innings, the bullpen has given up 44 runs.

The team added reliever Grant Balfour in a trade with the Brewers on Friday, and sent down Shawn Camp on Saturday. On Monday, they placed Jay Witasick on the 15-day disabled list, sent J.P. Howell to Triple-A Durham and called up Jason Hammel and Juan Salas from Durham.

The Rays are making some good moves. They absolutely need to improve their bullpen and they are also saving money by doing so.

Ty Wigginton, for all you fantasy leaguers, should thrive over in Houston. He will have a good park to hit in and won’t lose playing time.

Jorge Cantu can hopefully resurect his career with the Reds like former Ray Josh Hamilton.

Josh Wilson looks to get the bulk of the playing time with Wigginton getting traded. But if Baldelli comes back Upton could be moved back to 2B and Wilson will go back to the bench. One scenario I would like to see is the Rays give 3B prospect Evan Longoria a cup of coffee and see if he can be what Ryan Braun has been to the Milwaukee Brewers. That move would push Iwamura to 2B though and might not get too much consideration.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell
Information from the Associated Press and Buster Olney at were used in this column.


Justin Verlander Pitches No-Hitter

Justin Verlander pitched the first no-hitter in Comerica Park history last night.

Justin Verlander No-Hitter Photo Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth inning of an interleague baseball game Tuesday, June 12, 2007 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) Justin Verlander made Comerica Park history — with a big assist from his shortstop.

Verlander pitched the first no-hitter at the ballpark, leading Detroit over the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Tuesday night. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said.

The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year came back with the game of his career, striking out 12. He benefited from several stellar defensive plays, the best by Neifi Perez, who turned a possible single up the middle in the eighth into an inning-ending double play.

“About the fifth or sixth you can’t help but think about it a little,” Verlander said. “Everyone kept giving me high-fives and nobody came and sat next to me.”

This was the first no-hitter in Detroit since Nolan Ryan of the Angels did it at Tiger Stadium in 1973. Comerica opened in 2000. Milwaukee was last no-hit on April 27, 1994, by Scott Erickson at Minnesota. This was the third no-hitter since interleague play began — David Cone did it for the Yankees against Montreal and a set of Houston pitchers blanked the Yankees.

It was the second no-hitter of the season in the majors, with Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox doing it against the Texas Rangers on April 18.



A-Rod vs. The Prince: Who will Reign Supreme?

They play in separate leagues. They play across the baseball diamond from each other. They bat from different sides of the plate. One plays for a first place club, the other for a last place club. One makes $415K while the other is raking in over $27.7M and is possibly playing for a bigger contract. But the one thing they have in common is that they are both mashing like no other in the league. With 20 homers apiece, I present you with the case of:

Alex Rodriguez vs. Prince Fielder

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is having a huge offensive season. He is tearing up American League pitching to the tune of .292/.390/.636 with an OPS of 1.027 in 209 at-bats over 55 games. That includes 47 RBI and 49 runs on 20 homers and 12 doubles with a BB/K ratio of 28/47 and 6 stolen bases. Most of his stats come from one month, April, in which he tied the home run record with 14, hit .355/.415/.882 with an OPS of 1.297, and drove in 34 runs. His May wasn’t as glamorous: .235/.361/.422 with an OPS of .782 and 5 homers and 11 RBI. But he is turning it around in June. So far in 4 games he is .286/.444/.571 with an OPS of 1.016, one homer, 2 RBI, 4 runs, and 3 walks.

Milwaukee Brewers 1B Prince Fielder isn’t doing too shabby either. Much like A-Rod, Fielder had a killer month that counts for a lot of his stats. Fielder tore it up in May with a line of .321/.397/.755 and an OPS of 1.151 to go with his 13 homers and 28 RBI. His June is going well so far with a homer and a 5/0 BB/K ratio in 4 games. His 2007 numbers look like this: .294/.381/.633 with an OPS of 1.014 in 218 at-bats over 58 games. That includes 45 RBI and 37 runs on 20 homers and 14 doubles with a BB/K ratio of 27/44 but is 0 for 2 in the stolen base department.

When it’s all said and done they could both end up leading their respective leagues in homers. But only one, for now, is playing for a winning team. Who will reign supreme? Come October you will find out.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


Brewers Won’t Enact Clubhouse Beer Ban

The Milwaukee Brewers have decided not to follow the spate of MLB clubs banning alcohol in their clubhouse after Josh Hancock killed himself driving drunk and stoned.

Teams throughout baseball have changed or are mulling changes in their clubhouse alcohol policies following the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock. And the Milwaukee Brewers are among teams who looked at their policy and decided no change was needed. The Brewers said Wednesday they will continue to allow beer in their clubhouse during home and away games.

Pitcher Chris Capuano, the Brewers’ representative to the players association, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the decision was consistent with the way the club treats its players. “For the most part they treat us like adults. There’s no curfew on the road. You’re expected to handle yourself professionally,” he told the newspaper. “Guys are not going to sit in the clubhouse and drink four and five beers and then drive. We would never do anything like that. But it’s nice if a guy wants to have a beer after a game that the team is OK with it.”


The Brewers have special reason to be sensitive about alcohol issues. The team is named for the city’s brewing heritage and honors that history down to the sprig of barley underscoring the script “M” on its hats. Several years ago, the team ended the practice of its lederhosen-clad mascot, Bernie Brewer, descending a giant slide into an oversized mug of beer after Brewers home runs.

The club is in the second year of a seven-year marketing and promotions agreement with Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., which paid $41.2 million to put its name on the Brewers’ stadium through 2019. Julian Green, a Miller Brewing spokesman, told the Journal-Sentinel that the company is not involved in stadium operations at Miller Park, and was not consulted about the clubhouse decision.

I’m sure the fact that they’re making millions from beer sales had nothing to do with it, either.

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