Sports Outside the Beltway

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 Dave Roberts dead at 64

I remember Roberts. He and Clay Kirby were the 1-2 pitching combo for the Padres in their infant years. His 14-17 2.10 ERA year with the 71 Padres was truly outstanding. For the Padres went 61-100 that year.

Roberts was a journeyman but one able to win over 100 ML games. Which according to wikipedia, makes him the 4th winningest Jewish pitcher in baseball history. He also swung a mean bat for a pitcher as seen in .194 career batting average, 7 career homeruns, and .500 Slugging Pct in 1977 for the Chicago Cubs. RIP.


Former Houston Astros reliever Dave Smith dead at 53

He died of a heart attack Wednesday. I remember Smith very well, especially his work in the 1986 NLCS against the New York Mets. He was a underrated reliever who didn’t gain much notoriety except in 1986. RIP.


Former girlfriend sues Padres’ OF Brian Giles

She claims a beating she received from the MLB caused her to lose a baby. From the San Diego Union-Tribune-

Padres outfielder Brian Giles is being sued for more than $10 million by a former girlfriend who alleges he battered her while she was pregnant and caused her to suffer a miscarriage.

Giles, 37, has been advised by his agent, Joe Bick, not to comment on the matter.

“I have absolutely no comment,” Bick said.

Padres spokesman Warren Miller said the team was aware of the suit and declined further comment.

Plaintiff Cheri Olvera alleges in her complaint that she and Giles lived together since 2002 and became engaged around December 2005. However, the marriage never took place due to Giles’ violence toward her, the suit states.

A PDF file with the actual lawsuit can be read here. In it Ms. Olivera claims there are witnesses to four separate incidents.

If true, Giles is a low-life who deserves to be taken to the cleaners. There is nothing worse for a mother than to lose her child. I know, because my wife and I have our own personal losses.


Catcher Mike Piazza announces his retirement

He was one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. From AP-

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball following a 16-season career in which he became one of the top-hitting catchers in history.

“After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it was time to start a new chapter in my life,” he said in a statement released Tuesday by his agent, Dan Lozano. “It has been an amazing journey … So today, I walk away with no regrets.

“I knew this day was coming and over the last two years. I started to make my peace with it. I gave it my all and left everything on the field.”

The 39-year-old Piazza batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs as a designated hitter for Oakland last season, became a free agent and did not re-sign. He was not available to discuss his decision, according to Josh Goldberg, a spokesman for Lozano.

Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.

“He was one of those hitters who could change the game with one swing. He was certainly the greatest-hitting catcher of our time, and arguably of all time,” said Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, Piazza’s former teammate on the New York Mets.

Piazza finished with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs for the Dodgers (1992-98), Florida (1998), Mets (1998-05), San Diego (2006) and Oakland (2007).

Mike Piazza was one of the all-time steals in the amateur draft. In a time when the Dodgers kept wasting first round picks on pitchers who kept not making the ML roster(Anyone remember Bill Bene, Dennis Livingston, or Dan Opperman? Didn’t think so?), the Dodgers made up with it partially with their selection of Piazza.

Piazza is a certain Hall of Famer. If his glove work had been better, he’d be one of the top five catchers all-time. Still he makes the top ten. Good luck in retirement Mike.


Ryan Klesko retiring from MLB after 16-year career

The Left fielder/first baseman was a key member of the 1995 Atlanta Braves who won the world series. From AP-

IRVINE, Calif. — Ryan Klesko is retiring after 16 seasons in the major leagues, agent Joe Sambito said Friday.

Klesko, an All-Star in 2001 with San Diego, hit .260 last season with six homers and 44 RBIs in 362 at-bats for the San Francisco Giants. He played in only six games the previous year for the Padres because of shoulder surgery. The 36-year-old became a free agent following the World Series and didn’t sign.

For his career, Klesko batted .279 with 278 homers and 987 RBIs. His best season was 2001, when he hit .286 with 30 homers and 113 RBIs.

He spent seven seasons with San Diego after playing his first eight years in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves.

Note- Klesko’s agent is a former MLB relief pitcher.

My main memory of Klesko is from the 2001 Star tournament season. Where I finished 4th in the National pts. standings. Most tournaments that year I had iron glove Edgar Martinez at 1b(there was no DH use). Klesko was my ‘glove man’ platoon with Edgar in two tournaments, one of which was the Worlds. That was one ugly defensive combo, but I made it to the World quarterfinals that year. So Edgar/Ryan at 1b worked.

Good luck in retirement Ryan.


Woody Williams released by Houston, plans to retire

The 41-year-old had an ERA of over 11 in spring training this year. From AP-

HOUSTON – Woody Williams was put on unconditional release waivers Saturday by the Houston Astros, who owe the pitcher $6.5 million.

The 41-year-old right-hander was 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA last season and had an 11.32 ERA in spring training this year. He gave up five runs and five hits in three innings Friday during a 10-0 exhibition loss to Detroit.

First baseman Lance Berkman questioned the timing.

“Possibly a bit premature,” he said. “The game is completely different in the regular season than it is in spring training, especially from a guy like Woody who has been around the block a few times.”

Williams signed a $12.5 million, two-year contract with the Astros before last season and is owed a $6.25 million salary for this year and a $250,000 buyout of a 2009 club option worth $6.75 million. He had a $6 million base salary last year and earned $250,000 in performance bonuses.

Williams is 132-116 with a 4.19 ERA in a 15-year career that includes stints with Toronto, St. Louis and San Diego. He had a career-high 18 wins with the Cardinals in 2003.

KRIV reported Williams plans to retire.

Woody appears washed up career wise to me. I wish him well in retirement.


Chan Ho Park on the comeback trail

The South Korean baseball star is trying to re-establish himself with the Los Angeles Dodgers. From the Chosun Ilbo-

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Park Chan-ho hurled three perfect innings for a personal no-hitter during a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

Overall, the 35-year-old Park has maintained an immaculate ERA while allowing only two hits and two walks over seven innings in three spring appearances.


Park flies to China on Thursday, where he will start in a friendly game against the San Diego Padres this weekend.

GI at ROK Drop writes-

For the love of God can some one please tell the Chosun Ilbo that pitching three scoreless innings in a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles of all teams is not considered a no hitter.

Yes three innings is not a no-hitter. What’s this friendly game nonsense may I add? I lived in So. California for two years in the 1980′s. There was little that was friendly about the Padres-Dodgers rivalry.

I wish Park well. He is a favorite player of mine. Mostly because he was the ace of one of my two Star Tournament(Strat-o-Matic Baseball) Championship teams. My March Orlando 2001 squad romping to victory with a 23-8 record after starting the tournament 0-2. Of the 65 homeruns hit by my team, Chan Ho contributed two.(He has hit two homeruns as a MLB player) Park was a double threat for my team. Note in Strat only pitchers who hit a homerun in real-life can homer unless you get the EXTREMELY RARE roll die of a inside the park homer)


Former Brooklyn Dodger Johnny Podres dead at 75

He was the winning pitcher in game 7 of the 1955 World Series. That was the year the Bums finally won it all after 5 postseason losses to the Yankees in the previous 14 years. Afterwards Podres stayed around MLB for almost another 14 years as a player, and more as a pitching coach. RIP.

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Johnny Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Sunday at the age of 75.

A spokesman for Glens Falls Hospital confirmed Podres’ death but said he didn’t know any details.

The left-hander was picked for four All-Star games and was the first Most Valuable Player in World Series history. He became a hero to every baseball fan in Brooklyn when the Dodgers ended decades of frustration by beating the Yankees to win the World Series.

It was the first time a team had won a best-of-seven World Series after losing the first two games, and it was Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.

The Dodgers lost the first two games of at Yankee Stadium, then the Dodgers won the third 8-3 at Ebbets Field. Podres, going the distance on his 23rd birthday, scattered seven hits.

In the climactic seventh game, at Yankee Stadium, Podres shut out New York 2-0 on eight hits, relying on his fastball and a deceptive changeup.

As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn.

Years later, Podres was uncertain he made such a brash statement.

“I don’t know if I said it or not. That’s what they said I said,” a grinning Podres recalled in 2005. “Probably young and dumb — something like that would haunt you your whole life. … You put on a big league uniform, you’ve got to think you’re pretty good.”

Tommy Byrne, the losing pitcher in that game, died Dec. 20.

Podres’ career spanned 15 years with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. He retired in 1969 at age 36 with a lifetime record of 148-116.


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