Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sunshine & Summertime

Well, I just had a feeling yesterday was going to be a really good day and guess what??? It was!!! Unfortunately, I can't share a whole lot about the day yet, but rest assured some very good things happened. One of (if not the) hardest things about blogging that I've learned over the three months now that I've been doing this is where to draw the line between what I want to say and what I can say... Also, how personal should I be??? Some days, I really feel like sharing a lot, others not so much... One thing I do know is that certain things like politics and religion are "no brainer" off-limits topics for the most part for me... though I will touch upon them every once in a while when necessary... So far, so good though. The feedback I've received from friends, family and even complete strangers has been OVERWHELMINGLY positive, and I look forward to continuing this thing as long as I can... With that, I just want to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who has encouraged me during this time. You guys are the best!!!


Summertime, sunshine and baseball go hand in hand... so with that, let's talk about it!!! It was a good night for my favorite teams and players... and even my first place CBS Sportsline team, the California Waves had a good night, ending it with 78 points and a season high eight point lead over the second place team!!! Here's a look at the standings:

Rk Team                   BA    HR RBI   R  SB   K   ERA   WHIP  W  S Total
1 California Waves .2767 147 540 509 67 549 3.558 1.196 30 64 78.0
2 078 BEEF             .2802 116 479 519 92 604 3.954 1.335 44 31 70.0
3 Bottom Feeders   .2864 121 524 509 35 549 4.002 1.275 44 48 69.5

The Bottom Feeders have been in first or second the entire season, but their pitchers had been overachieving A LOT the first couple of months. Tim Hudson is pitching like the mediocre pitcher he has become again, and with that, the "Feeders" have taken a mighty fall...

As for the real-life games, I'll start with the locals... The Dodgers got yet another quality start from their ace, Derek Lowe against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field. The Dodgers staked "D-Lowe" to a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth. The D-Rays did manage to get to him for single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh... In 6 2/3 innings, Lowe gave up five hits while walking one and striking out five more batters to give him 77 of them on the season. It certainly seemed strange to see Lowe listed amongst the NL's top 10 in strikeouts in last Sunday's papers... he's on pace for 170 strikeouts, which would be 24 more than his previous career best. Needless to say, if you drafted him in your leagues, these strikeouts have been an unexpected bonus. Eight wins, a 3.14 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and a .227 batting average against have made him amongst the best first half draft day bargains so far. Back to the game... the Dodgers added two more runs in the top of the eighth and Takeshi Saito closed things out for his 20th save of the year in the 6-3 Dodger win.

The Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels are starting to act like a broken record... fall behind early, mount comeback in the final three innings, give the crowd some thrills and a W. In four straight games, the Angels have faced three run or larger deficits... and going into the bottom of the 7th inning of each of those games, they faced a two run or larger deficit... They won two of their three games against the Houston Astros, only failing to come back Wednesday night in a game they actually led by three runs at one point. Last night they fell behind 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates as starting pitcher Joe Saunders struggled early... Jason Bay led the Pittsburgh attack with a two run homer (his 12th) in the third inning to double what was a 2-0 lead. Saunders settled down after that though, shutting down the Pirates in the next three frames... Orlando Cabrera and Reggie Willits would be sure that the crowd would go home happy... "O-Cab" would start the Angels rally with his fourth homer of the year in the bottom of the 6th inning to pull them to within three runs. Willits then doubled in catcher Mike Napoli in the 7th to make it 4-two... O-Cab struck again, plating Willits on a single to center to draw the Angels to within one run. It was Willits' turn again in the bottom of the 8th - another double plated Nathan Hayes to knot the game at four. Meanwhile, the Angels bullpen was once again magnificent... Chris Bootcheck shut down the Pirates for two innings after Saunders departed. Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth... the Angels wouldn't score in the bottom of the frame and the game went into extra innings. Scot Shields would hold the Pirates in check in the 10th and 11th innings... In the bottom of the 11th, it was O-Cab time again... A single to left with one out off Jason Bayliss plated Chone Figgins for the game winning run. With the win, the Halos now have a seven game lead over the Oakland A's in the American League West.

Meanwhile, on the other coast, the Washington Nationals looked to put an end to their home losing streak as they faced the Cleveland Indians. Though they've been great on the road lately, the Nats had lost four straight and seven out of eight in the friendly confines of RFK Stadium. Their poor play at home coincides with my recent trip to Washington, D.C. and going to the final two games of their series against the San Diego Padres. Did I put a jinx on them? I sure hope not!!! Well, last night made me feel a little better as the Nats got an "effectively wild" 4 1/3 inning outing from starter Micah Bowie and 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball from the bullpen. Bowie struck out an impressive seven batters, but also gave up five hits and walked four batters... How he only gave up one run with all of those baserunners is a mystery to me. Los Angeles native, Brandon Wilson drove in his first two runs of the year with his first two hits since being called up from the minors, and Christian Guzman homered in a 4-1 Nats win. Chad Cordero came in to pick up his 12th save of the year. The game also featured a VERY comical moment... something which I've only seen happen once or twice ever before... In the second inning, the Indians' Frankin Gutierrez hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to the Nats third-baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The ball took a bad hop though, and ended up right in Zimmerman's shirt!!! Bowie would go on to say afterwards "that's going to be a blooper highlight. I've never seen that before." FYI, Sportscenter has been playing this clip over and over... I think it just may end up on YouTube if it hasn't already! With that, perhaps my hex on the Nats is gone? I certainly hope so!

Speaking of hexes, what in the world has happened to Atlanta Braves slugger Andrew Jones??? Two years ago, Jones hit 51 homers and drove in 128 runs, and last year he tallied 41 HR's and 129 RBI's, while posting .263 and .262 batting averages those respective seasons. Last night Andrew's batting average slipped below the dreaded "Mendoza Line!" FYI, the term "Mendoza Line" is a misnomer... People say you're below the "Mendoza Line" when your batting average falls below .200. In fact, the man whom it is named after, Mario Mandoza, actually had a career .215 batting average! An 0 for 3 performance last night against the Detroit Tigers put Jones at a .199 batting average on the season. His power numbers are way down as well - he's only got 11 homers and 42 RBI's to this point. His strikeouts are also way up... he's on pace for a career high 160 of them. Is he injured??? Is he pressing??? Is it a combination of both??? Who knows!!! All that I do know is that he probably has been the league's most biggest disappointment so far. The fact that I have him on so many of my fantasy teams is also a little disheartening. For now, I have him benched in all of my leagues - yes, it's a hard pill to swallow... but I want to win!!! Your third round draft pick is supposed to be a cornerstone to your offense. One can only hope that he gets himself straightened out soon and returns to the consistent Andruw Jones we have become accustomed to seeing these past nine seasons...


Finally, on a personal note I just want to take a moment to rememeber my late father... Today would have been his 73rd birthday. On September 30, 1999 he was taken from us by cancer. Rest In Peace, Dad. We will never forget you.

*edit* I didn't even think about this when choosing my blog title for today, but I took it from a Faith Hill song... My Dad's favorite artist was Faith!!!... he actually knew her when she first was starting out in the music business and gave her LOTS of encouragement... she's come a long way from those humble beginnings!


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