Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:35 am
ANAHEIM, Calif -- Highlights have been few and far between for the 2011 Chicago White Sox, but Paul Konerko put up one for the books when he cracked his 2,000th career hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener here.
The hit surely was especially meaningful to Konerko in that it was an RBI single against Ervin Santana that tied the game at 4-4 at a point in the season where the White Sox are desperate for every run, every win they can get. Konerko, a beloved figure on Chicago's South Side and widely respected throughout the game, becomes only the 13th player in club history to collect his 2,000th hit.
It's been a boom season for the 2,000-hit club: Konerko is the sixth man to join that club this summer. Previously this summer, Houston's Carlos Lee, San Francisco's Orlando Cabrera (then with the Indians), Cincinnati's Scott Rolen, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Texas' Michael Young each collected his 2,000th hit.
The White Sox dugout immediately erupted in cheers, then most of the players began waving for the baseball as soon as the play concluded with Alejandro De Aza crossing the plate. With the game 4-4, White Sox manager removed Konerko, who was DHing, for pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge.
Konerko also is at 393 career homers and soon could become only the sixth active player with 400 homers and 2,000 hits, joining Pujols, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta's Chipper Jones, Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero and Minnesota's Jim Thome.
Tags: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Lee, Chicago White Sox, Chipper Jones, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Jim Thome, Michael Young, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Orlando Cabrera, Paul Konerko, San Francisco Giants, Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Vladimir Guerrero
Posted on: February 13, 2011 10:56 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 10:57 pm
So, is the Cardinals season about to be torpedoed before it even begins?
There was manager Tony La Russa on Sunday, before the first Cardinal of the spring even officially took the field, getting out in front of the issue that right now appears poised to overtake St. Louis' summer.
La Russa admitted Sunday that the Pujols contract situation potentially is a "spectacular distraction" that could turn into a "spectacular excuse" is the Cardinals play poorly.
Understand a couple of things about this.
One, La Russa is a master manipulator who plays mind games as well as anybody in the league. He is adept at spinning situations to create the ultimate "us against them" mentality in the clubhouse.
Two, La Russa thrives in this arena, and he's yet to meet a challenge he doesn't think he can whip. So you bet the Cardinals will be well schooled in the first team meeting of the spring on the volatility of the Pujols talks, what it will mean if any of them starts yapping out of school and of the age-old clubhouse adage, "What you see here, what you hear here, what you discuss here, stays here."
It's hard to remember a La Russa-managed club that hasn't had its share of distractions, some of them even spectacular, many of them orchestrated by La Russa himself. Mark McGwire's return to the game last spring -- sponsored by La Russa -- eventually gave way to peace and quiet. Later in the summer, La Russa's tiff with outfielder Cody Rasmus went public after the manager spelled out his displeasure with Rasmus.
It was La Russa himself who was arrested near the Cardinals' spring facility in Florida in 2007 and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Later that summer, in the aftermath of pitcher Josh Hancock's traffic death, La Russa caused quite a stir when he threatened to take his fungo bat to any reporter who crossed the line with questions about the tragedy.
He has famously feuded with Scott Rolen (hastening Rolen's departure from the Cardinals) as well as Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (a rift that remains). And remember his Cold War with the umpires in 2003? Among other things, La Russa said that Jerry Crawford has "made it a point to get us."
While none of this relates directly to Pujols, the point is, with the Cardinals, it's always something. Always, there is some controversy or slight, real or perceived, up around the next corner. And it doesn't always mean disaster. Sometimes, the Cardinals thrive in this atmosphere.
Unquestionably, if Pujols and the club cannot resolve the contract differences by midweek and the three-time MVP cuts off talks for the year on Wednesday, this likely will wind up the mother of all spectacular Cardinals distractions. And things could go off the rails, quickly.
But a ticked off Pujols playing with a chip on his shoulder might not be the worst thing in the world. As La Russa said Sunday, the man is "as strong between the ears as anybody I've ever met."
As for the Cardinals, if there is any team -- and any manager -- qualified to head straight out into this sort of storm, it is St. Louis and La Russa.
Doesn't mean it will be a pleasant summer.
But it doesn't mean the Cardinals can't win, either.
Posted on: July 15, 2010 2:34 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 3:07 pm
So my good buddy Gregg Doyel wants steroids back in baseball?
He wants artificially inflated behemoths flexing their muscles? He wants brawny Jolly Green Giants feeding us red meat and cheap thrills?
Hey, Gregg, we've already got that.
It's called the NFL.
I know, I know. They've got a steroids policy over there, too, and they had it long before baseball and yada, yada, yada.
What are we supposed to be, stupid? It's normal for guys to grow to 6-7 and run the 40 in two seconds flat?
You want juice, go watch Cowboys-Raiders. Or tour a Tropicana plant.
Leave baseball alone.
Go ahead, take your shots at the "purists". Compare the low-scoring games this summer to a Spain-
Steroids and greenies? Really?
I mean, I know you've always lived just one area code away from the cuckoo's nest, Gregg, but I thought you were more responsible than this. What are you doing tomorrow, teaching the neighborhood kids how to make moonshine?
What I get tired of is, there is little appreciation for subtlety anymore. Anywhere. You can't go to a movie without things blowing up onscreen every two minutes. Everybody's yelling at everybody on radio and cable TV, from the ESPN shout-fests to CNN's Nancy Grace.
Must we be smashed over the head with a sledgehammer each way we turn in life anymore?
Must everything devolve into Short Attention Span Theater?
If you want to zing Tuesday night's All-Star Game, here's where you go: Joe Girardi's managing. To be given a 34-man roster and still be exposed by failing to have a pinch runner at the ready for David Ortiz in the ninth inning was flat-out embarrassing. If Girardi's Yankees play in the World Series this October, all he has to do to learn why they don't have home-field advantage is look straight into the mirror.
Baseball made several tweaks to this year's game and still couldn't get it right: What's needed is smaller rosters, not larger ones, and stars like Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer actually still being in the game when it's on the line in the late innings.
Even commissioner Bud Selig was rhapsodizing earlier Tuesday about the days when Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente played the entire All-Star Game. Well, duh. That's how you juice this thing back to the level it once was.
Still, Tuesday night's game had some terrific moments. The best of which was Scott Rolen's intuitive read of a single to center and busting it all the way to third to spark the NL's winning rally. It was the kind of key play that too often was rendered meaningless during the Steroid Era as everyone sat around and waited for three-run homers.
No, other than Girardi's death-wish managing, the only folks who couldn't enjoy this, I'm sure, are the ones who complained that there still weren't enough things blowing up in Iron Man 2. Which, no, I didn't see. The first one was lousy enough.
Anyway, Gregg, I could go on from here, but my guess is I've lost you already, my friend. You're probably already salivating over Cowboys-Raiders.
Oh, one other thing: I don't completely disagree with everything you wrote in this whack-job of a piece. The Tiger Woods line? Excellent.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:47 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 10:55 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While we've spent so much time this season paying attention to such hot young phenom pitchers as Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, Tampa Bay's David Price, Florida's Josh Johnson and even non-All-Star Stephen Strasburg, don't think we're going to let Arthur Rhodes' debut All-Star appearance pass without fanfare.
Rhodes, the Cincinnati set-up man?
You bet. At 40, Rhodes is the oldest All-Star "rookie" ever in the National League.
But don't expect the rest of the NL staff to assign him the task that usually goes to the rookie in the bullpen: Hauling the game's supply of candy, gum and sunflower seeds to the pen in a hot pink Barbie backpack (or something, maybe, in the Dora the Explorer line).
"Plus, I kind of look like more the rookie, so I can't do any rookie hazing."
In all seriousness, Rhodes, humbled by the late-career honor, says he became emotional when Reds manager Dusty Baker informed him of the All-Star honor. Of course it turned into a moment Rhodes always will remember.
"Dusty called me into his office and told me I was getting traded," Rhodes says, smiling.
"Then Dusty said, 'You're all three going to the All-Star Game.' I got quiet. I couldn't say a word. I said, 'Thank you very much.'
"I didn't know it would take this long. I know I could have made it in 2001 [when Rhodes went 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 71 appearances for the Mariners, no doubt with Seattle-native Lincecum watching each appearance].
"Now it's 2010, and I made it, and I'm so proud."
Rhodes earlier this year equaled a single-season record with 33 consecutive scoreless appearances, something accomplished before only by Mark Guthrie (2002 Mets) and Mike Myers (2000 Rockies). Over 41 appearances for Baker's Reds in 2010, Rhodes has compiled a 1.54 ERA and a 3-3 record.
He's taken a lot of ribbing about being the oldest player ever to make his first All-Star appearance, especially the day it became official, when the Reds were in Chicago.
"I got teased every day when we found out," he says. "Teammates, text messages ... I'm proud to be a rookie in the All-Star Game, I'll tell you right now. I'm happy I'm here. You can call me Old Man All-Star."
As for as the possibility of being the designated donkey to haul the candy, seeds and other goodies to the bullpen, Rhodes, 19 years and eight teams into his decorated career, smiles.
"I think I've got too many years to be carrying all that stuff," he says before, a few moments later, adding, "This is the best thing that's happened to me in my whole career."
Posted on: June 16, 2010 11:37 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2010 11:58 pm
Not only was it their third consecutive loss and their fourth in five games as they battle St. Louis in the NL Central, but. ...
Cincinnati rookie Mike Leake (five earned runs and nine hits in six innings) was tagged with the first loss of his major-league career. He made history by becoming the first Reds rookie pitcher to ever go undefeated through his first 12 starts, then the Dodgers' Andre Ethier made history by blasting a hanging curveball for a three-run homer in the sixth to mortally wound Leake.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth with Los Angeles leading 5-0, two on and none out, Scott Rolen and manager Dusty Baker were both ejected by plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt when Rolen lost it after being called out on strikes.
It was only the third ejection of Rolen's 14-year career and, as he explained, "I thought it was a big at-bat, a game-changing at-bat, possibly."
Rolen joked that, after Tuesday's marathon game that featured a 2 1/2-hour rain delay and didn't wrap up until 1 a.m., he and Wendelstedt were asking each other whether they got enough sleep and then the umpire said, "Why don't you go up and sit in the cold tub and get ready for Thursday's game."
"That was it," Rolen said with a wry smile. "I'm not sure what it looked like."
The ejections were one sure signal that summer is heating up. The surprising Reds are keeping a close eye on the Cardinals, but they've also hit a rough patch that is testing them.
"We knew we'd go through periods like this," Baker said afterward. "We've got to keep fighting. It's a long season, and it's not going to be up all the time. There's a long way to go, and there are going to be good times, and there are going to be great times."
There also will be rough times and, as Baker said, "That's why you want to be as many games over .500 as you can, so when you hit one of these streaks ... you want a cushion."
The Reds have one more game against the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon before heading west to play Seattle and Oakland.
And it is not lost on them that these same Dodgers swept the Cardinals just one week ago in Los Angeles.
Likes: Love that Great American Ballpark sits right on the Ohio River. Very cool to look out beyond the right-field bleachers and see the river flowing. ... Nice billboard featuring Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy and his "The Real McCoy" blog for his old newspaper, the Dayton Daily News, while driving into town the other day. Even better to see my old friend in person these last two nights. ... Had a chance to catch the Bruce Springsteen exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before leaving Cleveland earlier this week. Great display, including a phenomenal amount of hand-written lyrics and some iconic clothes, including the threads that Bruce wore on the cover of both Born in the USA and The River. The red cap from his back pocket on Born in the USA is almost comically plain, and worn. ... Johnny Cash's tour bus, also on display at the Rock Hall.
Dislikes: Nobody's thrilled with rain delays, and Tuesday night's was a doozy. The Reds and Dodgers waited two-and-a-half hours before resuming play midway through the game after 11 p.m. The game didn't end until 1 a.m. But you know what? The thunderstorm was worth it. Man did it pour. And the lightening show was spectacular.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Got kind of tired packing and unpacking
-- Hugh Wilson, Theme to 'WKRP in Cincinnati'
Posted on: July 30, 2009 5:30 pm
They're stacked up like jets on a runway, but rival clubs waiting in line for Toronto to move third baseman Scott Rolen, infielder Marco Scutaro and relievers Scott Downs, Justin Frasor and/or Brandon League don't appear close to receiving clearance.
Cincinnati has been trying to work toward a Rolen deal for much of the week. Minnesota is interested in Scutaro (and Oakland's Orlando Cabrera, but reports of the Twins' interest in Freddy Sanchez before Pittsburgh dealt him to San Francisco were greatly overexaggerated). Several clubs have inquired about Downs, Frasor and League.
And meantime, the two Los Angeles clubs, Boston and Texas continue to look for an opening in the Halladay negotiations.
Posted on: February 26, 2008 6:17 pm
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Perfect late-game world for Toronto, closer B.J. Ryan returns strong from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery in April, which moves Jeremy Accardo and Brandon League into set-up roles.
Of course, Ryan is only 10 months out from a surgery that once took two years to return from. Now, the way the surgery has evolved, relievers sometimes can make it back in a year, and Ryan is pushing even that.
"I'm working hard to come in and show them I can be healthy and back to help the team," says Ryan, who likely will pitch live batting practice for the first time later this week.
Currently, Ryan is throwing a bullpen session followed by two days off before his next bullpen session. Within a couple of weeks, he'll advance to one day off between throwing. And when he's ready for games, Toronto will use him first in minor-league games so that the Jays can control the number of pitches he throws.
"We'll still have to monitor it during the season," manager John Gibbons says. "But Accardo proved to us last year that he can (close).
"Sometimes you'll have to slap yourself and say, 'Are you doing the right thing?'"
As for League, he's mostly been under the radar nationally, but he could play an important part if the Blue Jays are to be as good as they think they can be this year. He had a muscle problem in his shoulder last spring that caused him to lose 10 m.p.h. off of his fastball. Toronto had to shut him down, and League only threw 11 innings last season.
Gibbons says he now looks like the League of old and, "he's back in the mix. There are no limitations on him."
As Gibbons notes, League last year was going to be Toronto's eighth-inning guy. If he can re-emerge, and if Ryan can return ... well, let's just say the late innings in Toronto could be a whole lot more fun for the Blue Jays.
Likes: David Eckstein looks odd in a Toronto uniform, and he didn't get the multi-year contract he sought after battling a bad back last year and seeing his errors total shoot up to 20 from six in '06, but he's everything that's right about the game of baseball. Hard worker, little guy using all of his talent to succeed, a genuine nice guy. ... Scott Rolen out of St. Louis. It'll be nice to see what he can do without a maniacal manager. ... Francisco Liriano on his way to Twins camp. ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central 49, Clinton 38 in a boys' basketball district tournament opener on Monday night. Here's hoping the Falcons can whip Romulus Summit Academy on Wednesday night. ... Also, a belated congratulations to St. Mary Catholic Central coach Ray Lauwers, in his 41st year at the school and an old teacher of mine, for notching his 600th career victory last week. Lauwers, already in the Michigan became only the fourth coach in Michigan boys high school history to earn win No. 600. ... Fatburger. ... The ribs at Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue joint. ... Wilson Phillips' California disc.
Dislikes: Lousy concert schedule around Florida this spring. It's always a fun diversion when something lines up during spring training -- in past years, I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt here -- but this year's it's bone dry.
Sunblock day? Yes, but not for long. Temps in the mid-80s today and hot. But the clouds are moving in this afternoon, thunderstorms are forecast and Wednesday's high -- high -- is supposed to be only 60. Yikes!
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"Everybody is a star
-- Sly and the Family Stone, Everyday People