Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
Pat Roberts predicted that the world would end yesterday. It appears he was wrong. (Drat! Guess I should have done my laundry after all.)
It may not be the end of the world, but it sure feels like it for Yankee fans, with the Yanks in the unaccustomed position of dead last. I'm not too worried yet - it's early - but there's a definite air of panic in Yankeeland. Fans who last season were worshipping the ground Cashman walked on are calling for his firing. (They've been calling for Torre's firing since last year's postseason.) Steinbrenner actually weighed in today, supporting both Cashman and Torre. For now.
Both the Yanks and the Reds are off today. The Bats are playing their last game in Syracuse tonight, but Bubba's still on the DL. Bubba said yesterday that it's taking him longer to heal than expected, but he's getting close, and expects to be back soon.
A-Gon was chosen the NL Player of the Week. The Red Sox dumped him for a bigger bat, but...
AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lugo .256 .346 .344 .690
A-Gon .329 .372 .519 .891
No Sunday night baseball tonight, because last night, Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock was killed in a car crash. ESPN's game was supposed to be Cards vs. Cubs, but the game was canceled, understandably.
Hancock was released by the Reds during spring training last year, supposedly for being overweight. Because of that, he was the butt of many a fat joke by Reds fans. They called him "Snax." He got the last laugh, though. The Cards picked him up almost immediately, and he won a World Series ring with them.
The preliminary investigation found that Hancock was driving at about the speed limit, and there were no open containers in the car. There are no toxicology reports yet, and I guess DWI is a possibility, especially given the time of the crash (12:30 am). But it wouldn't surprise me if this was just a very unfortunate accident.
I am not familiar with the road where the crash occurred, but if he wasn't speeding, I assume it's a high-speed area, just from the condition of the car:
I don't know if he was wearing a seat belt or not, but from the look of the car, it may not have made a difference.
I once worked as a bridge inspector in New York City. You spend a lot of time in harm's way. No, not hanging from 200 ft. high bridges. I felt perfectly safe doing that. It was the traffic going over or under the bridge that I was leery of.
Sometimes I would drive the "shadow truck." It's a large van or truck that parks behind a smaller vehicle that has to stop on the road, or behind a crew on foot. It often had one of those flashing arrow boards on the back, telling motorists to get over into the other lane. The purpose was not only to warn the motorists, but to physically protect the work crew. The shadow truck was usually big enough that you felt safe from passenger cars, but it was still a little unnerving. I never got hit, but there were a lot of close calls. And this was in broad daylight.
It sounds like it was just a really bad situation: a tow truck parked in the far left lane. At night. You just don't expect to find a parked vehicle in the passing lane. In the darkness, Hancock probably just didn't see it until it was too late. They probably should have had a couple of police cars there, to increase visibility.
In any case, it's a tragedy. Condolences to Josh's family and friends, and to the Cardinals and their fans.
(BTW, Yankee pitcher Colter Bean is one of Hancock's friends. They attended high school and college together. Peter Abraham reports that that's why Bean wasn't used in today's game.)
UPDATE: Turns out, Hancock was driving while intoxicated - and talking on his cell phone. What a pointless tragedy.
The Reds have no closer, and it's cost them. But they may have come up with an answer. Today, they announced that the much-maligned Rheal Cormier has been DFA'd, and Brad Salmon called up from Louisville. Salmon, a hard thrower, might be a closer candidate.
They also announced that one of the PTBNLs they are getting from Oakland for Denorfia is Marcus McBeth. A surprisingly valuable player for this deal, IMO. McBeth is expected to be a closer. But Oakland already has Huston Street, who is three years younger. So they don't really need McBeth. Similarly, the Reds don't really need Denorfia, with Hamilton and Hopper on the roster. This sounds like a good move for all parties involved, including the players.
McBeth is expected to report to the Bats tomorrow. No roster move needed, since Salmon has been called up to the big club.
I guess Bubba's still on the DL. The Bats are playing a doubleheader in Syracuse today, and Bubba is not in the lineup of either game.
The Yanks' nightmare week continues. The first batter Karstens faced hit a comebacker that hit him in the knee. He wasn't seriously hurt, but they didn't want to take any chances, and pulled him. So Igawa, relegated to the pen, suddenly became a starter again today.
However...he's doing very well, surprisingly. (Knock on wood.) Maybe this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Not a fun day in baseball land, at least for me. The Yanks lost their seventh straight game, to the despised Red Sox, no less. Mo had another awful outing, and is starting to look kind of panicky. Never seen Mo like that before. It's getting to the point where I don't even want to watch them, even though I'm usually the type who watches even if the game is hopeless.
The Reds also had a pretty bad game, against the lowly Pirates.
More details about the Denorfia trade here. Krivsky says they are getting two minor leaguers who are "almost Major League-ready." He says he didn't want to trade Deno, but Oakland really, really wanted him. They made an offer he couldn't refuse.
Poor kid was apparently blindsided. He wasn't expecting to be traded while he was on the DL. S'okay, kid, you'll get a much better opportunity in Oakland than you will behind Hamilton, Freel, Griffey, and maybe Hopper in Cincinnati.
And I have to say, two almost-ready players, plus cash, seems like a generous offer for Denorfia, all things considered. At least if the players are any good. Dunno how this will affect Bubba. I assume if they are almost ready, they'll be assigned to Louisville. If I had to bet, I'd guess they are pitchers; that's what the Reds need, and what Oakland has an oversupply of. I guess we'll find out soon.
I'm also curious about the other move John Fay reported. Another trade? Or maybe they'll call up Bellhorn. He's been hitting well, and they could use a righty bat. (Or switch-hitting bat, as the case may be.)
They announced today that Ken Griffey, Jr. has pleurisy. Griffey pinch-hit today, but he didn't look good. Maybe the rumored move is a move to the DL for Junior.
And just to top off this wonderful day, the Bats were rained out tonight. They'll play a doubleheader tomorrow to make it up. Weather permitting.
Trent is reporting that Reds outfielder Chris Denorfia has been traded to the Oakland A's, for two players to be named later and cash. And John Fay says another move is in the works.
This seems like a rather odd transaction. Deno is on the DL. The earliest he can come back is October. And whoever the Reds are getting can't be that much of a help to them now. Not if they're getting two PTBNL and cash.
One possibility is that one of the PTBNLs is Burton, the Rule 5 pitcher. Trading for him outright would let them send him to the minors and get him off the roster. But John Fay heard Burton is not involved.
FWIW, Burton was removed from the Bats' roster yesterday and sent to Chattanooga.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx...Phil Hughes had a decent debut, but lost. (To be fair, the Yanks were blanked yesterday, so there was no way he could get the win.) He wasn't lights-out, but he wasn't terrible, either. He was very nervous in the first inning. He had to throw a lot of pitches to get out of it, and since he's been on a strict pitch count, he was pulled in the fourth inning. Which didn't help the exhausted bullpen. And he couldn't blow fastballs by good major league hitters like he could against minor leaguers. Still, I think everyone is reasonably pleased with how he did. Dunno if he'll stay up with the big club all season or not; it could go either way, IMO. He will probably get at least one more start.
The Yanks play the Red Sox again this weekend, and many Yankee fans are dreading it. I think the Yankees have just been unlucky. They've lost a lot of close games. They'll turn it around. Adding Wang and Hughes to shore up the rotation should help.
And the Bats are in Syracuse, NY today, playing the Chiefs. Lot of Yankees fans in Syracuse; they'll be disappointed that Bubba is on the DL.
Acquired by the Yankees at the start of the 2004 season, Crosby became a popular performer among the New York faithful because of his upbeat attitude on the field and tremendous hustle in all phases of the game. In only his second series with the club in April of '04, he launched two homers in a four-game set against the White Sox, including a key three-run shot in the finale on 4/11 that propelled the Yankees to a 5-4 victory.
The Bats get a day off today. They play Syracuse tomorrow.
And it seems I'm not the only one who was hoping to see Bubba in the Syracuse series. Yesterday the Bats radio announcers read an e-mail from someone in NY who wondered if Bubba would be playing this weekend. (Answer: he's eligible to come off the DL, but that doesn't mean he will.)
The auction is over. Bubba's hat went for $160.00.
The Reds had a day game today. They lost. Sigh.
And Phil Hughes gets his first big league start tonight for the Yankees. I'm not sure what to expect. He's very talented, but has struggled in high-pressure situations before. He is still very young.
Bubba's hat has 13 bids and is up to $160. "Aindyke" seems pretty determined to win.
Mark Bellhorn's hat has the highest bid in the auction - $510. Must be rabid Red Sox fans.
The auction ends at midnight tonight.
Reds lost a heartbreaker tonight. Yanks were rained out. Bats played a day game, and lost.
Phil Hughes starts tomorrow for the Yanks. Weather permitting.
I never knew this, but the minors have a 7-day DL, not a 15-day DL. So if they made it retroactive to his last game, Bubba could be back as soon as Friday, April 27. Doesn't mean he will be back that soon, of course, but he could be.
The Yankees called up Phil Hughes today. Yes, even though they said they wouldn't. They're desperate. To make room on the roster, Kevin Thompson was sent down. A lot of people were hoping it would be Melky. The kid needs to play regularly.
I must say...I was expecting Melky to drop back a bit this year, but not this much. He's been really awful. Even when he played every day in spring training, he was terrible. Feeling the pressure, maybe, in a way he didn't last year.
John Fay was expecting the Reds to make a move yesterday, after their terrible homestand, but they did not. There really isn't anyone in Louisville that can help right now. It's uncanny, how the Bats are mirroring both the strengths and weaknesses of the big club. Good starting pitching, bad bullpen, poor hitting, porous infield defense, too many lefty outfielders.
Reds fans are talking about an item published three weeks ago in notorious baseball gossip blog, On the DL. Not sure why they're talking about it now; maybe they just noticed it. It's an item about a young player with a substance abuse problem who has fallen off the wagon. Everyone seems to think it's Josh Hamilton. Yeek, I hope not.
And the bidding for Bubba's hat is really heating up. It has nine bids, and is up to $130.01.
As I suspected, the Louisville Bats added Bubba to the 15-day DL today, to clear a roster spot for catcher Chad Moeller.
I think that means the earliest he can return is May 4.
Jeff Keppinger was activated today. Infielder Jesse Gutierrez was put on the DL to make room for him. But the Bats will have to make another roster move tomorrow, when Chad Moeller joins the team. The Bats radio announcers think it might be Bubba going on the DL to clear a roster spot.
If Bubba does land on the DL, he'll have to stay there for at least 15 days (though they can back-date it to the last game he played). Bummer. I was thinking about going to Syracuse next weekend to see the Bats play the Chiefs, but if Bubba's put on the DL, there's no way he can be back in time to play in those games.
Still, it might be best for him to rest and heal up. There's no reason for him to play injured.
The Reds had a pretty lousy game today. Bad pitching, bad offense, bad defense. And they announced that Griffey has diverticulitis. Not sure what that means for him. He did pinch-hit in the 9th inning, and hit a double, but they said he really doesn't feel very well.
Matt Smith, former Yankees prospect, came in to get the lefties out. (He's the guy we traded to Philadelphia for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle at the deadline last year.) He succeeded in striking out Hamilton, but walked Dunn.
And Bubba's hat now has five bids and is up to $80. Auction ends Wednesday at midnight.
The Reds, and Yankees, and the Bats all lost yesterday. Today's gotta be better...right?
I'm not surprised the Reds lost. They struggle against lefties anyway, and yesterday's lefty was Cole Hamels. Ol' King Cole gave the Yankees fits, and they eat lefties for breakfast.
The highlight (lowlight?) of the game was a rare triple play. You really had to feel sorry for David Ross. He's really struggling at the plate. Finally he gets good wood on a ball...and it goes to exactly the wrong place.
I wasn't surprised the Yankees lost, either. Not only did they have minor leaguer Jeff Karstens up against Josh Beckett, Karstens was recovering from an injury and really should still have been rehabbing. They rushed him back out of desperation. It's amazing it wasn't worse, especially when you consider that Damon, Matsui, and Posada were all out injured.
As for the Bats...I'm not surprised they lost, either. Obviously, they just aren't the same team without Bubba!
Alas, Bubba is not back in the lineup yet. I assume it's the shoulder soreness again. I hope there's nothing seriously wrong.
(And no, this is not about this weekend's Yankees-Red Sox series...)
Happy Earth Day! Earth Day was once considered a weird hippie thing. No longer. The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, not exactly a granola kind of paper, says Pittsburgh needs to prepare for peak oil. And even the Houston Chronicle, paper of record in Big Oil's home town, is publishing stories like 8 ways to save the planet if you live in Texas. (Maybe the prospect of Houston under water due to rising sea levels has something to do with it.)
Sports is also getting greener. (And no, I'm not talking about the Red Sox's green jerseys.) "Green" stadiums are all the rage.
Then there's this article, by Bill Henderson: The Relocalization of Sport. It argues that sports as we know it is unsustainable in the light of peak oil and climate change:
Hundreds of pro and college teams criss-cross the continent by plane, play in huge stadiums lit at enormous energy expense, in front of fans most of whom have driven miles to the game.
I'm a jock and a fan; I live and die with my beloved Canucks (we're just starting the playoffs). I empathize with Man U fans, Cowboy fans and Sonic fans. But the dangers from climate change and peak oil are so serious that we must reduce our use of fossil fuels radically and immediately.
Bubba never got into the game last night. It's the first Bats game all season they haven't used him in. There was a lefty on the mound, which is probably why he didn't start. And they were playing with a DH, which means much less need for substitutions.
It was kind of a weird game. A truck hit a transformer, and the lights went out between the 6th and 7th inning. There was a fairly long delay while they waited for the electricity to be restored.
Homer Bailey had a decent start, and left the game with a 2-1 lead. But Majewski gave up a bunch of runs, including a grand slam. The Bats came close to rallying a couple of times, but ended up losing 8-4.
The Bats play the Tides again today at 2:15pm. Bubba is not in the lineup again. Even though there's a righty pitcher on the mound. Maybe he needs some time off, after crashing to the warning track the other day.
UPDATE: Bubba is apparently out of the lineup because his left shoulder is hurting.
Also, Chad Moeller cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Louisville. He will be joining the Bats on Monday. Jeff Keppinger, rehabbing from a broken finger, will also be joining the Bats soon. (He may take Hopper's spot with the big club when he's ready.)
Crazy day in baseball yesterday. Cincinnati somehow pulled a miracle out of their hats. They had trailed since the 5th, but tied it in the 9th, then won it in the bottom of the 10th. Honestly, I didn't think they had a chance. They just didn't look very good. But it ain't 'til it's over in baseball.
It was the opposite for the Yanks. They managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Torre made some questionable managing decisions (I'm almost afraid to see what NoMaas has to say about it). But worst of all was the Mo meltdown on the mound. He was terrible. He even threw a ball over the batter's head, missing the strike zone by a mile.
I'm not worried about Mo. He always starts out slow. I'm not worried about the Sox, either. They kick butt in April and May, but end up second (or third!) in the division by the end of the season.
It's Posada I'm worried about. He hurt his finger in the game and will likely miss the Boston series. Which means Wil Nieves is starting. Yeek. The Yanks should really have shelled out for a good young catcher in the off-season. Heck, they should have done it last year, if not earlier.
And I talked to a woman from Japan over at RR the other day. I asked her how former Yankee Aaron Guiel was doing with his new team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Not too well, apparently:
AVG:.182 AB:44 R:4 RBI:2 H:8 2B:1 3B:0 HR:0
It's early yet, of course. Hopefully he'll bounce back.
And the Bats' Virginia Tech hat auction is well underway. Bubba's hat currently has 4 bids and is up to $75.
Mark Bellhorn's hat has 14 bids, and is up to $260. Not surprising, since he's probably the biggest name on the team right now.
Director of Media Relations Svend Jansen's hat is up to $250. It has 16 bids. Not sure what's up with that.
Homer Bailey's hat has 8 bids, and is up to $95.
The Bats are hosting the Norfolk Tides tonight. Louisville will be wearing Virginia Tech hats. After the game, the hats will be autographed and auctioned off, with the proceeds donated to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund to honor the victims of Monday's shootings in Blacksburg, VA.
You can bid here (and yes, one of the hats will be Bubba's!).
The auction ends April 25, at midnight.
April 19, 2007: Richmond Braves 3, Louisville Bats 2
This was a day game, starting at noon. I was slaving away in the salt mines, so I didn't get to listen to it or even follow it online live.
Just as well. It sounds like it was a heartbreaker. It went to extra innings, and the bats lost in the bottom of the 11th.
Bubba had some pretty good at-bats, but things just didn't go his way. It was sort of the same in the outfield, too.
1st: One out, none on. He fell behind, but battled back. Ball, called strike, ball, swinging strike, foul, foul, ball, ball. After eight pitches, Bubba works a walk. Votto lined out, then Bubba was caught stealing. (The Richmond catcher must be pretty good. The Bats were 0 for 3 in stolen bases.)
4th: Bubba led off. Another battle. Foul, called strike, ball, foul, ball, ball, ball. Another walk. Votto, up next, grounded into a force out, and Bubba was out at 2B.
6th: Two outs, none on. Foul, ball, ball, foul, swinging strike.
8th: Bubba swung at the first pitch, and was out on a popup behind the plate.
11th: One on, no outs. Ball, swinging strike, foul, foul, ball...GIDP.
Bubba's line for the night: 0 for 3 with 2 walks.
Bubba also had a rather controversial play in right field in the 8th. Bases loaded, one out, Kershner on the mound. Barbaro Canizares smacked one out to right. Bubba somehow managed to chase it down, making a circus catch on the warning track. Canizares was out, but two runs scored on a miscommunication in the outfield. Bubba threw it to Wise, but Wise wasn't expecting it.
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Still, Richmond trailed 2-0 in the eighth before loading the bases with one out. Barbaro Canizares drilled a ball to deep right-center that Louisville right fielder Bubba Crosby ran down and caught over his head.
Crosby crashed to the ground with his back to the infield. He flipped the ball to center fielder Dewayne Wise, but Wise was looking toward the infield trying to tell Crosby where the cutoff man was located.
The ball rolled past Wise. Martin Prado scored from third, and Escobar, who had alertly stayed near second instead of drifting down the base line, tagged up and scored without a throw to the plate.
"We had talked about if there was a big throw, I'd flip it to [Dewayne]," Crosby said. "My arm has been hurting because of all the cold.
"I was on my back. When I started to get to my feet, it looked like I was making the throw. I flipped it to him too late."
April 18, 2007: Louisville Bats 3, Richmond Braves 1
The big news of the day was that Norris Hopper was called up before the game. Chad Moeller was DFA'd to make room for him.
I must say, I wasn't expecting that. I thought they'd stick with three catchers. Perhaps they are convinced that Hamilton can be the lefty bat off the bench, instead of Javy Valentin. Or maybe recent games have made it painfully obvious, even to Krivsky, that a righty bat is desperately needed.
The Reds' hitting, as a team, this season so far:
BA OBP SLG OPS
VS. LEFT .203 .269 .292 .561
VS. RIGHT .266 .356 .416 .772
Red Menace at RR mentioned that I should check out Sam Walker's book, Fantasyland. Sure enough, the chapter called "Get Somebody Loose!" has a section about Bubba.
Fantasyland, as you might guess from the title, is about fantasy baseball. In particular, it's about a sports journalist who tries to use his connections to put together the killer fantasy team:
After scrolling past all the arms for hire, I reach the list of available outfielders, which, in addition to its alarming brevity, reads like a list of cabin assignments at a camp for fat kids.
Lopez, of Kansas City, is quickly eliminated. Though he hit a home run on Opening Day, he's all but certainly headed to the minors. The next name, Toronto's Pond, is a mystery to me. All I know is that he put up some decent power numbers in winter ball. The third candidate, Crosby of the Yankees, is the most familiar, only because I'd been reading about him in the New York papers. After six long years in the minors, Bubba caught the attention of Yankees manager Joe Torre by hitting .357 at spring training and covering center field like a water spider. He'd been the last guy to make the team. Trouble was, Bubba hadn't played yet, and when a couple of injured teammates returned he was likely to be dropped.
The next day, forty hours after Dmitri Young broke his leg and one day before the first weekly FAAB deadline, I'm standing next to Bubba Crosby in the Yankees locker room. The first thing you notice about Crosby, other than the fact that there's not a grain of dirt on his uniform, is that he looks like somebody's lost kid brother. He might well be 5'-11" as the program states, but only in spikes.
Now that he's made the major-league team, Crosby tells me, he's trying to shorten his swing to focus on making contact and getting base hits.
He's determined to make things happen by taking walks, stealing bases, and scoring runs, rather than crushing the baseball into powder. If anything, he's given up on the idea of hitting a home run, which is exactly what we need until Young comes back. "I'm not gonna make any money in deep center field," he says.
The next day, with exactly one hour left to submit my free-agent bids, I still can't decide. Sig has no meaningful data on these subjects. Nando likes Crosby because of his torrid spring, but I'm leaning toward Simon Pond, only because he seems at least physically capable of hitting home runs.
To break the stalemate, I pick up the phone and call Joe Housey, a former pitcher who's now working as a scout for the Chicago Cubs. Built like a lumberjack with a gruff sense of humor, he's the kind of guy who slaps you on the back and nearly knocks you over. I know that he covers Florida, where he'd surely seen both Pond and Crosby at spring training. When I reach him, he's on the golf course.
"Not now," he says, "I'm on the tee."
"Okay, go ahead."
"What do you think of Simon Pond?"
"What about Bubba Crosby?"
Hanging up, I type an e-mail to Commissioner Liebowitz and bid $1 of my $100 budget for Bubba Crosby. Minutes later, Crosby is a member of the Streetwalkers. Mine was the only bid.
About two hours later on Friday evening, the White Sox are thumping the Yankees in the Bronx. In the ninth inning, with the outcome all but certain, manager Joe Torre sends our man Bubba Crosby out for his first swing as a Yankee. With teammate Hideki Matsui on second base, Crosby shuffles to the plate, looking as if he'd just finished breathing into a paper bag. With one ball and two strikes, he uncoils his bat and belts a fly ball to right field that, to the surprise of everybody on earth, clears the fence.
Home run, Bubba.
He's not the first Yankee to homer on his first trip to the plate, but he's got to be the most unlikely. Circling the bases, Crosby runs so fast he nearly slams into Matsui's back. "I was just trying to calm myself down," he tells reporters after the game. "Being a rookie and playing in New York, my heart was racing." SportsCenter features a highlight of Bubba's blast, followed by a graphic comparing his relatively paltry $301,000 salary to the millions earned by teammates Jeter, Giambi, and Rodriguez.
As a reward for Crosby's Friday miracle, Torre puts him in the lineup on Sunday. It's his first start in pinstripes, and when he jogs out to center field the bleacher bums begin chanting his name. Inspired, Crosby makes a pair of spectacular catches, hurling himself against the outfield wall with abandon.
After grounding out on his first trip to the plate, Crosby comes to bat in the fourth inning with two runners on. He takes two balls from Chicago's Danny Wright and then, with a swing that nearly topples him, drives a ball through the damp April air that bounces off the facade of the upper deck in right field. Right before my eyes, the unwanted free-agent outfielder I picked up for one lousy FAAB dollar is taking a curtain call at Yankee Stadium.
The next morning, I buy all the papers. The Times puts the story on the front of the sports section. The Bergen County Record calls Bubba an "instant sensation," and a New York Post headline shouts: "Hubba Bubba!" Gary Sheffield calls Bubba a "throwback." White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen describes him as "the new Babe Ruth in town," and Torre raves like a proud papa. "It seemed like every other inning I was tipping my cap," Crosby said. "This day's pretty much tattooed in my mind."
Crosby is the toast of Tout Wars, too. Hollywood Matt Berry praises my pickup in his nightly blog, and Lawr Michaels gives me props in a column on CREATIVESPORTS. "Keep up the good work!" says Rick Fogel. More important, Crosby's three-run home run vaults me up two places in the standings to seventh.
I'm quite aware Crosby isn't going to hit a home run in every game, let alone as many as a healthy Dmitri Young. There's still a chance he'll be back in the minors by the end of the month. But he's already given me something more important than a statistical boost: a new infusion of confidence. I'm going to be good at this game, because I know people.
April 17, 2007: Richmond Braves 3, Louisville Bats 1
Not a great night. Bubba went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and his at-bats didn't sound very good. He's definitely in a slump. Happens to everyone. He'll turn it around.
1st: None on, one out. Ball, foul, foul, swinging strike.
3rd: One out, man on 2B. (Actually, it was the pitcher, Bobby Livingston. He actually doubled!) Ball, foul, foul, ball, then a fly out to shallow right.
6th: Bubba leads off. Ball, swinging strike, called strike, called strike.
8th: Two outs, none on. Ball, ball, ground out. He hit it hard, but the second baseman was there.
Bubba was playing CF, instead of RF as usual. For some reason, Dewayne Wise, the usual CFer, was a late scratch. Bubba handled CF pretty well, though one ball dropped in between him and Bannon. Dunno if it was reachable by either of them.
All in all, a pretty dreary game. Though the score was close enough, the Bats never really seemed to threaten, except in the ninth inning. With bases loaded and one out, Jesse Gutierrez pinch-hit for Majewski. He grounded into a game-ending 1-2-3 double play. Blech. It was that kind of night.
Bubba is not in the lineup tonight. Neither is Hopper. It's Bannon and Godwin in the outfield corners.
UPDATE: I guess we know why Hopper is not in the Bats' lineup. The Reds DFA'd Chad Moeller, and have called up Hopper to take his place.
April 16, 2007: Richmond Braves 4, Louisville Bats 1
Well, this game made working on my taxes look like fun in comparison. I think the worst thing was that it echoed Mo's failure against the A's the other day, and the Reds' Coffey Crash in Cincinnati last night. Just not a good couple of days for relief pitchers.
The Bats had a slim 1-0 lead going into the sixth inning. Alas, it wouldn't last. Shackelford, in to relieve Gosling, gave up a single, a walk, a triple, and a double. He was pulled after 2/3 of an inning (or he might have gone for the cycle). Wilkerson would give up another run on a wild pitch, and it was 4-1 Richmond by the end of the inning. Ugh.
Of course, that's hardly an insurmountable lead. But the Bats' bats have not been hot lately. Aside from that six-run inning the other day, the hitting has been abysmal. The whole team is striking out an awful lot.
It was another futile night at the plate for Bubba, but I think he was just unlucky. It sounds like he's putting together much better at-bats.
1st: None on, one out. He fell behind early, but worked the count full: called strike, called strike, ball, ball, foul, foul, ball...then a fly out to shallow center field.
3rd: One on, two out. Ball, called strike, foul, called strike. Probably his worst at-bat of the evening.
6th: One on, one out. Called strike, ball...then a pitch high and inside. Bubba spun back trying to avoid it, but the ball plunked him on the back of the right shoulder. Ow. Bubba was not happy. But he did get on base.
Votto was up next; he got ahead 3-0, but ended up striking out.
Herr batted next. On a 1-2 count, the Bats got the double steal, with Hopper swiping 3B and Bubba swiping 2B. Herr ended up working a walk, but Bellhorn grounded out to end the inning.
8th: Two out, none on. Called strike, ball, ball...then a fly out to right field. He hit it hard - I could hear the crack of the bat on the audio broadcast - but Bohn robbed him, making an over-the-shoulder running grab.
Bubba's numbers are not pretty: .129 / .250 / .323 / .573 at the moment. But I think he's already turning it around. He's been hitting the ball a lot better the last couple of games. Just hasn't been "hitting 'em where they ain't."
The lineup has been posted; Bubba is once again batting second and playing right field. Let's go, Bubba!
UPDATE: Last-minute lineup change. Bubba is in CF, not RF. Something must have happened to Wise. He's out of the lineup. Godwin is taking over Wise's spot in the lineup, and is playing RF while Bubba moves to CF.
The two games I watched yesterday demonstrated why I love baseball...and why it drives me nuts.
I was expecting the Reds to lose yesterday, with Lohse on the mound. But Lohse looked like a Cy Young winner. Former Yankee Ted Lilly looked even better. He gave up fewer hits than Lohse, but the hapless Cubs were unable to turns hits into runs.
Weathers was the closer, and he did not inspire confidence. He struggled from the start. But somehow, he got out of the inning and the game with the one-run lead intact. The Reds got only two hits in the entire game, but won anyway, 1-0.
Meanwhile, the Yankees put both Moose and Pavano on the DL. Their starting pitching is in shambles. After two games in a row that went to extra innings, their relief pitching is in shambles, too.
The rubber game against the A's started off poorly, with a Jeter error and two runs scored off Pettitte. But Andy settled down. The Yanks seemed to be cruising to another victory, up 4-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. With Mo on the mound, victory seemed like a sure thing. In the Yankees threads, fans were already mocking the Oakland fans.
Even when Mo allowed two runners on, no one was worried. Two outs, with the number nine hitter up. Scutaro was hitting something like .050. He was looking up at David Ross' average. And it was Mo. Number 42, on Jackie Robinson Day.
Of course, you know how it ended. Mo gave up a three-run walkoff homer to Scutaro.
Like a punch in the gut to a Yankees fan. The kind of game that makes you want to give up baseball and become a curling fan or something.
But I have to say, games like that are also a big reason I love baseball. Because even the number 9 hitter, batting .050, can be the hero.
I'm not worried about Mo. He usually struggles with his control early in the season (perhaps because he no longer throws during the off-season). He'll be fine, I'm sure.
More worrisome is Jeter. He had his sixth error of the season yesterday. Which puts him on pace for about 90. I don't know if he's hurt or what. It's not the limited range that fans often gripe about. He's just missing balls he should catch, and making bad throws.
The Reds are on top of their division, and but it somehow seems very precarious. In particular, their offense against left-handed pitching is lacking. Many of their right-handed bats (Ross, Freel, Encarnacion, Phillips) are struggling.
And many of their star prospects, like Votto and Bruce, are lefties. Not ideal, given that they play in a park that is supposed to be better for righty hitters.
The Yankees love lefties, but with the Reds, I fear Bubba's left-handedness is a liability.
The Bats play Richmond tonight at 7:15pm. According to the lineup, Bubba is once again in the two-hole and playing right field.
It's 42, of course.
Today baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day. It's the 60th anniversary of Robinson's first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers (who would later move to California and draft Bubba, among other things ;-). The Reds' Ken Griffey, Jr. asked permission to wear number 42 today, to honor Robinson. It was granted, and they asked him if it would be all right if other teams also did the same. He said that would be great, so today every major league team will have at least one player wearing #42. Some are having the entire team, including coaches and batboys, wear it.
It will of course be Griffey who wears #42 today for the Reds. And for the Yankees, Mariano Rivera wears #42 every day - the only player left who was grandfathered in when Robinson's number was retired league-wide. Cano, Jeter, and Torre will also wear #42 today.
Some have suggested that Cincinnati should also honor Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, for his support of Robinson:
He refused to sign a petition that threatened a boycott if Robinson joined the team. When Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947 and traveled with them during their first road trip, he was heckled by fans in Cincinnati, Ohio. Reese, the captain of the team, went over to Robinson and put his arm around his shoulder in a gesture of support which silenced the crowd. The gesture was especially telling because Reese was born and raised near then-segregated Louisville, Kentucky.
April 15, 2007: Louisville Bats 8, Columbus Clippers 2
Truly amazing game last night. The kind of win you only get in baseball. Homer Bailey pitched well enough, leaving the game after five innings with a 2-1 lead. The Bats couldn't hold it, though. A 7th-inning error by Hopper in left field let the tying run score, and the game was 2-2 going into the ninth. But the Bats scored six runs in the top of the ninth for the win.
It was not a great night for Bubba, though it ended well. He is struggling at the plate these days, and the Bats radio announcers talked about it quite a bit. It's been awhile since our boy has gotten a hit.
Bubba, in the two-hole again, came to bat in the first with Hopper on 1B and no outs. Called strike, foul, foul, ball, ball, four...then a pop out to SS. At least it wasn't a DP.
In the bottom of first, Bubba made a nice catch in right field, and a strong throw in to hold the runner.
Third inning, one on, one out. Bubba swung at the first pitch, flying out to right field.
Fifth inning, none on, one out. Ball, swining strike, ball, called strike, foul...then a fly out to center field.
Seventh inning: two outs, Machado on 1B. The first pitch was a ball in the dirt; Machado stole 2B. The next pitch, Bubba smoked down the right field line, but it was just foul. Another ball, then a swinging strike, ball, foul, foul, foul...then a hard-hit groundout to 2B. Nice battle by Bubba, though it didn't end in his favor. He saw nine pitches.
The ninth inning was a stunner. Machado grounded out, and Conway flew out. Two outs, none on. It looked like the game was heading for extra innings for sure.
But Hopper, up next, had a terrific at-bat. He saw nine pitches, and finally won the battle with an infield single.
Bubba was up next. Ball, ball, called strike, ball, ball. He walks!
So it's up to Votto. He works the count full. Runners go, and Votto hits a triple to center. Crosby and Hopper score easily. 4-2 Louisville.
Norfolk manager Gary Allenson was furious. He complained vociferously to the umpire that several of the balls he called should have been strikes. Allenson was of course ejected.
The Bats weren't done yet. They ended up batting around, and scored six runs off three different pitchers. All with two outs!
What a rally. Single, walk, triple, single, HBP, walk, wild pitch, single, single. Conway finally popped out to end the inning.
Salmon came in to pitch the ninth; it was three up, three down. Bats win, 8-2. You'd never guess from that score that this game was razor close for eight innings.
While Votto had the big blow - the two-RBI triple - I credit Hopper for starting the offensive explosion. With none on and two outs, it would have been easy to give up, especially since he's not a home run hitter. But he really battled, and his hard-won single ended up sparking the rally. It's never too late in baseball!
And Bubba showed his clutch-itude again. He only got on base once all night, but he picked the right time for it.
Though Bubba's numbers for the night were not pretty, I think he's coming out of his slump. Hard to tell since I'm only listening to the games, but it sounds like he's hitting 'em hard, and only just missing.
Looking at his stats...it's a small sample size, but he's striking out a lot more than he usually does. Trying too hard to hit for power, maybe?
Today's game has been rained out. The Bats will play Richmond tomorrow night...weather permitting.
Meanwhile, on the west coast...the Yanks had their second extra-inning game in a row last night. They're flat out of pitchers. And Andy Pettitte is supposedly on a strict pitch count, so today's game could be interesting.
The Cubs got their first home win today, at the Reds' expense. No miraculous comebacks this time. The Reds didn't score a single run. Tomorrow's the rubber game, with former Yankee Ted Lilly on the mound for the Cubbies and the much-maligned Lohse pitching for the Reds.
The Yankees lost a heartbreaker in the 11th inning last night. Given the west coast start time, I couldn't stay up late enough to watch the whole game. What a disappointment to wake up this morning and see how it ended. Bruney got the loss, giving up a triple, a hit batsman, a walk, then a single. And A-Rod is taking some heat for not sliding in the 8th; it could have been the go-ahead run if he avoided the tag.
JinAZ posted a fascinating Reds spring training review earlier this week. It's fun even if you're not the stat-head type. He has a knack for making those dry numbers accessible.
For example, he plots power vs. OBP, which makes it clear which players did well, and why. Bubba was slightly above average power-wise, and slightly below average on OBP. On the walks vs. strikeouts plot, he's below average in strikeouts and about average in walks.
But perhaps the most interesting is the BABIP graph. BABIP, batting average on balls in play, is largely due to luck. Not all, but mostly. Bubba was apparently rather unlucky in spring training (while Hamilton was extremely lucky). You would expect, in a longer season, for it to even out. (JinAZ suggests BABIP might be a way to compensate for small sample sizes, since it lets you see how much luck factored into a players' numbers.)
The Bats play tonight at 7:15. Homer Bailey starts. The lineup has been posted, and Bubba is once again in the two-hole and playing right field.
April 13, 2007: Norfolk Tide 4, Louisville Bats 2
Ugh. Friday the 13th was certainly unlucky for the Bats. They led most of the game, but Norfolk scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th for the win.
Bubba did not have a good night at the plate. I'd blame the lefthander on the mound, but no one else hit much, either. Herr got a home run, and the long-suffering Snyder, batting .000 until tonight, went 2 for 3. No one else got a hit.
Bubba, in the two-hole, came to the plate in the 1st. Hopper was on 1B via a HBP. Bubba bunted the first pitch he saw. It was apparently a pretty good bunt; he almost beat it out. It successfully moved Hopper to 2B. (Hopper would later score on the Herr home run.)
Bubba's next at-bat was in the 3rd. One out, Hopper once again on 1B via an error. Called strike, ball, called strike, foul...then a grounder to SS. Arrghh. Inning-ending double play. Bubba usually avoids those, because of his speed. It was not his night.
He led off in the 6th. Called strike, ball, called strike, foul, then another groundout. He hit it well, but hit the pitcher's glove and slowed down enough for the second baseman to get it.
His last at-bat was in the 8th. Two outs, none on. He watched one ball go by, then grounded out to 2B.
Man, I hate games like this. Losing is bad enough, but holding a lead for most of the game, only to cough it up at the end of the game...not fun.
They play again tomorrow night. Homer Bailey is supposed to start. There's an afternoon game scheduled for Sunday, but it will probably be rained out. I guess the nor'easter expected Monday in NY will be in Norfolk Sunday.
Bubba's in the lineup tonight. Por fin. He's in the two-hole and playing right field.
Norris Hopper joined the Bats today. He's leading off and playing left field.
And it was AA infielder Enrique Cruz the Reds called up to the big club today. Denorfia was moved to the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot for him.
Trent reports that Alex Gonzalez's 7-month-old son, Johan, has been hospitalized and is in critical condition. Yikes. Best wishes to the Gonzalez family.
April 11, 2007: Louisville Bats 4, Columbus Clippers 2
It was "Dog Night" last night, meaning fans were encouraged to bring their pooches to the park. But the rain meant few fans showed up, so they'll be having another Dog Night later this season.
The Bats won, meaning they took three of four from the Clippers. Bubba was not in the lineup. Yeah, I know, there was a southpaw on the mound, but still...it was the second day in a row he was out of the lineup. On a team that theoretically has only three outfielders. I e-mailed the Bats radio announcers during the game and asked them if they knew why. They didn't; they said so far as they knew, he wasn't hurt or anything.
Then they started wondering if my e-mail was from C. Trent.
Which led them to wondering what "Consigliere" means (that's Trent's nickname, inspired by the The Sopranos). They wanted to Google it, but couldn't spell it. Bellhorn hit a three-run homer, and at least one of them missed it, because he was busy Googling "consigliere."
They were still Googling it an inning later.
Anyway, Bubba did eventually get into the game last night. It was kind of weird. He was in the on-deck circle in 7th, as if he were going to bat for Dumatrait, the pitcher. But he sat back down, and Dumatrait batted for himself. But Dumatrait didn't pitch the next inning; he was pulled for Majewski. I'm not sure what was going on there. A feint, trying to get them to switch pitchers? Some subtlety of double switches that went over the head of an AL fan like me? Or were they just worried they'd run out of bench players to sub in?
Anyway, Bubba actually did hit for the pitcher in the 8th inning. The Bats were up 4-2, so the game wasn't on the line, though some insurance runs would have been welcome. Bases loaded, two outs. Called strike, swinging strike, foul, ball, ball, another swinging strike. Drat.
Bubba's back on the interstate: .190 / .292 / .476 / .768. Still a very small sample size, of course - only 21 at-bats.
Meanwhile...Encarnacion was benched last night, for not running out a popup. Narron said:
Eddie did not run and he told me he didn’t see where the ball was, but you’ve still got to run. I don’t care if we lose every game, we’re not going to play guys who don’t hustle. It’s as simple as that. We’ll pinch-hit pitchers, we’ll play pitchers if we have to. If you cannot hustle, you cannot play. It’s as simple as that. Eddie will probably be back in there Friday, but I tell you want, if they don’t run balls out, they’re not going to play. I don’t care if we lose every game, we’re going to hustle while they do it.
April 10, 2007: Columbus Clippers 1, Louisville Bats 0
Another pitchers' duel, this one with the opposite outcome of the day before. It was 0-0 until the 8th inning, when Ricky Stone gave up a triple and a single...which turned out to be the game.
Bubba was not in the lineup, but pinch-hit in the 9th. It was kind of surprising, because there was a lefty on the mound. I guess they were hoping Bubba's ninth-inning clutchitude would overcome the lefty-lefty thing. Alas, it didn't work.
Bubba was the lead off hitter. Ball, ball, called strike...then he hit it really hard, but right to the first baseman.
Bubba is not in the lineup tonight. Again. Perhaps because there's a lefty on the mound.
The weather is rainy in Louisville tonight, but they are planning to play the game. The start time is delayed, though - about 7:20pm.
April 9, 2007: Louisville Bats 1, Columbus Clippers 0
Bubba made the front page of the Bats Web site, too! They apparently didn't have a photographer at the game, so they Photoshopped something.
They also have an MP3 of Bubba's game-winning hit.
Great pitchers' duel. The Bats were being no-hit until the bottom of the 9th, but ended up winning anyway.
1st: One out, none on. Bubba watched a ball go by, then swung on the second pitch, hitting a bouncing grounder to 2B.
4th: Bubba led off, so it was none on, no outs. Called strike, ball, foul, then a swinging strike. Arrgh. This Fruto guy was just mowing down the Bats.
7th: Well, Fruto was finally gone. Only now there was a lefty on the mound: Mike Bacsik. Bubba leading off again. Called strike, then a liner down the right field line...just foul. Another foul, then a grounder to SS. Bubba was "screaming down the line," but the throw just beat him. The announcers said it was the closest thing to a hit all night.
9th: The game was still scoreless. Lefty Bacsik still on the mound. Machado struck out, then Herr pinch-hit for the pitcher, Wilkerson. Herr had a terrific at-bat, seeing eight pitches before hitting a double to center. Godwin grounded out, but successfully moved Herr to 3B.
So Bubba came to the plate with a runner on third, two outs. Bacsik kept missing low and outside. Ball, ball, ball - then a called strike Bubba thought was outside. The next pitch was a fastball down broadway, and Bubba smacked a line drive to right. His bat broke, but he hit it hard enough to score Godwin. A walkoff single for Bubba!
It was his second walkoff hit in five days. And once again, it was chosen the Big Boy Big Play of the Game.
Bubba's line for the night: 1 for 4 with an RBI. He's hitting .211 / .318 / .526 / .844.
Bubba said he was expecting to see a lot of breaking balls, because that's what Bacsik got him out with in the 7th inning. He wasn't expecting to see the fastball, but he took full advantage of it when he got it. Bubba also credited Herr for lifting everyone's confidence with his great at-bat.
Bubba is not in the lineup tonight. Maybe they decided to give him a day off for a job well done. They're playing by NL rules again, so he might be subbed in later. Obviously, he's the guy to call when you need a walkoff hit!
Last August, when Bubba was a Clipper, I listened to a Clippers-Bats game where the announcers talked about "Val the Bubba Crosby groupie." She was a former Bats intern, now with the D-Rays, who was a fan of Bubba's. She wanted them to get her an autographed ball, but they refused, saying it was against the rules.
Saturday they mentioned her again, saying she had a Reds batting helmet autographed by Bubba in her office in Tampa.
I had been wondering if she ever got her autograph, so I was glad to hear that story. I wanted to drop them a line saying so, but didn't catch the e-mail address. I wrote it down when they read it on the air yesterday, though, and sent this e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Hey, thanks for the update on "Val the Bubba Crosby groupie" the other day. I remember you mentioned her last year during a broadcast. The Clippers were in town, and you refused to get Bubba to autograph a ball for her.
Nice to hear she got her autograph anyway! :-)
You know who's a big fan of Bubba? C. Trent.
Oh, yes! Yes.
Up in Cincinnati. During spring training, following his Cincinnati Post blog. The beat writer for the Cincinnati Post for the Reds. He was a big fan of Bubba.
Last night, Bubba hit the game-winner for the second time in five days. Mr. Clutch!
The late-game heroics got his photo on the front sports page of the Louisville-Courier Journal. There's a nice article with several quotes from Bubba.
Back later with a game writeup...
The weather is wreaking havoc with baseball schedules. The photo is of the Portland Sea Dogs field:
The Sea Dogs on Thursday dotted the field with 11 snowmen in jerseys and caps -- nine players, a batter and an umpire.
April 8, 2007: Louisville Bats 13, Toledo Mud Hens 3
Homer Bailey had a reasonably successful night. Yorman Bazardo did not. The Reds pulled ahead early, getting revenge for the previous night's thrashing, and taking three out of four from the Mud Hens.
Bubba brought the first run home. He came up in the 1st inning. No outs, Godwin on 1B via a single. He watched the first pitch go by as a ball, then smoked the second offering. The line drive to right bounced off the wall, missing a home run by only a couple of feet. RBI triple for Bubba! 1-0, Bats. Votto, up next, hit a fly ball to left. It was deep enough that the speedy Bubba would have scored anyway, but the fielder Ryan Raburn dropped the ball. Votto ended up on 2B, while Bubba scored easily. It was ruled a sac fly and an error.
It was a sign of things to come for the Mud Hens. Their starter struggled, their fielders seemed to have holes in their gloves. And their offense never seriously threatened.
Bubba came to the plate again the very next inning. Two outs, one on. He walked on four pitches, but was stranded when Votto grounded out to end the inning.
The 3rd inning drove a stake into the Hens' heart. The Bats batted around; I thought for awhile there that they might bat around twice. After the first three batters got on base, Bazardo was replaced with lefty Corey Hamman. Bubba, the 8th batter of the inning, got the first out. He came up with the bases loaded, and got ahead in the count, 3-0. Called strike, then what looked like ball 4. Bubba started to take his base, when the umpire ruled it a strike. (He wuz robbed!) Full count. Bubba swung at the next pitch, and just fouled it...into the catcher's glove.
Hamman settled down after that. Or maybe the Bats just weren't trying all that hard, with 13 runs on the board. Aside from a Bellhorn walk in the 8th, the Bats went down in order for the rest of the game.
Bubba came up again in the 4th inning. Two outs, none on. Foul, foul, ball, ball, then he flew out to shallow CF. The SS caught it over his shoulder, Jeter-like.
Bubba's last at-bat was in the 7th. Two outs, none on. He made the pitcher work: ball, foul, swinging strike, ball, foul, ball, foul - then he finally went down swinging.
Bubba's line for the night: 1 for 4, with a triple, a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. Not bad, but given the mayhem the Bats were wreaking, I was kind of hoping for more. Yeah, I'm greedy.
Bubba's now hitting .200 / .333 / .600 / .933.
Homer Bailey gave up three walks and one home run (to Timo Perez), but no other hits. His line:
5-1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 83 pitches.
April 7, 2007: Toledo Mud Hens 14, Louisville Bats 2
Well, yesterday was not a good day for me, and this game sure didn't make it any better. The Hens got revenge for the two previous losses, and in a big way. The announcers wondered if Toledo would set a run-scoring record - then remembered that no, last year they thrashed the Clippers 20-2.
But at least in that Clippers game, Bubba had a good night. Plus, it featured the oddity of seeing third baseman Caonabo Cosme on the mound (the Clippers were desperate, since so many of their arms had been called up by the Yanks for that five-game, two-doubleheader series against the Sox).
Last night's game was just ugly. The Hens scored three runs in the first inning, and never looked back. Bubba did not have a good night at the plate, pushing his average below the Mendoza line. It wasn't his most stellar night in the field, either.
Bubba's first at-bat was in 2nd. One out, none on. He looked at three balls. The fourth pitch was ruled a strike, but the announcers thought it was clearly a ball. He should have gotten the BB. But the umpire disagreed, and Bubba swung at the next pitch, flying out to left field.
Bubba came to the plate in the 5th inning, again with one out, none on. Ball, foul, then a lineout to CF. It was sharply hit, but Perez made a nice running catch.
The sixth inning was the closest the Bats came to mounting a rally. An error, a couple of walks, and a couple of singles put two runs on the board. Bubba came up with the bases loaded, two outs. He put up a fight - ball, called strike, called strike, ball, ball - but went down swinging.
Bubba did finally get on base in the 8th inning. Two on, one out. He swung and missed at the first pitch, then got four straight balls and a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, Herr, up next, grounded into an inning-ending double play.
So Bubba's line for the night: 0 for 3 with a walk. He's hitting .182 / .308 / .545 / .853. Ouch. But it is of course a very small sample size. He's making contact, so I'm sure he'll turn it around.
The 3 through 6 batters were hitless in this game. Just a bad day for the heart of the order, I guess, since they've hit okay in other games. (Except cleanup hitter Snyder, who is still hitless for the season.)
Bubba played right field pretty well (and was kept pretty busy, as you might guess from the score). There was one bad play in the 6th. The Hens had already scored six runs. With a man on 1B and two outs, a ball dropped between Bubba and CFer Dewayne Wise. Giving Toledo a 7-run inning. It was ruled a double, but the announcers thought someone should have gotten an error. They said either Crosby or Wise could have caught the ball; neither did. Dunno who's to blame. The scorer called it a fly ball to CF. I'll blame Wise. He's the CFer, he should take charge. ;-)
And wait, I change my mind. There was one good thing about this game. The Bats announcers mentioned Val the Bubba Crosby groupie again. She's a former Bats intern, now with the Rays, known for being a "Bubba fanatic." They recently visited her in Tampa, and saw her office. There's only one item of Reds memorabilia in her workspace: a Reds batting helmet, autographed by Bubba. Nice to know she finally got the autograph she wanted. Maybe when the Reds played the Rays during spring training?
The last game of this four-game series is tonight at 6:15pm. Much-touted prospect Homer Bailey will be starting for the Bats.
April 6, 2007: Louisville Bats 8, Toledo Mud Hens 2
Believe it or not, this game was even more of a blowout than the score indicates. The Bats pulled ahead early, and the Hens never really threatened.
I mentioned that the Bats announcers were impressed with Bubba's play in right field the day before. I guess they were really impressed, because they were still talking about it the next day. They said he made a great running catch, and were also raving about a play in the corner. The ball ended up out of Bubba's reach, but they liked the way he played it.
It was a pretty good night at the plate for Bubba. His first at-bat, in the second, was with none on, two outs. He fell behind in the count with a swinging strike that sent his bat flying into the stands, then a called strike, but ended up working a walk. He was stranded when Herr stuck out.
Bubba came up again in the 3rd. Two outs, none on. He got ahead in the count, 2-0, then hit a home run down the right field line. It just barely stayed fair (there was a stiff breeze from left). Yeah, Bubba!
In the 5th, he came to bat with two outs, runner on 2B. The first pitch was low and way inside; the announcers thought it hit his foot. The umpire disagreed, and it was ball one. A swinging strike, foul, ball, then another swinging strike, ending the inning.
Bubba's last at-bat was in the 6th. He swung at the first pitch, flaring out to 2B. By then it was 8-1 Louisville, and the game was pretty much over.
Bubba's line for the night: 1 for 3 with a walk. He's hitting .250 / .333 / .750 / 1.083.
The Bats play the Mud Hens again tonight, at 6:05pm. The lineup has been posted. Once again, Bubba's in right field, batting fifth.
Fran Baruch said, "When you bring home a puppy, you bring home a tragedy." The same applies to kitties, alas.
I met BJ as an adult, so I was never sure how old he was. He was originally a stray. A couple of dog people adopted him, won over by his dog-like personality. When they divorced, no one wanted the cat. He ended up with me, through a friend of a friend.
He was my constant companion for 15 years. He was at least 19 years old - very, very old for a cat. And he was definitely slowing down a bit with age.
So when I had to put him down this morning, it wasn't exactly a surprise. He'd been happy and active until Thursday evening, when he suddenly became lethargic and stopped eating. I called the vet Friday morning; they couldn't fit me in until today. I feared the worst - for good reason, it turned out. His kidneys, liver, and heart were failing. They thought it was cancer, probably starting in the kidneys and spreading to the other organs. His prognosis at any age would have been poor, but at nineteen...there was just no point in heroic measures.
The staff was very kind. They stayed past the noon closing time, even on this holiday weekend, to let me have as much time to say goodbye as I needed. I've lost pets before, but never had to euthanize one. It was harder than I imagined. He was so happy to see me, probably thinking I would be taking him home. He purred and clung to me, licking my hands like he always did. (He thought he was a dog, I swear.) At that moment, it didn't seem like he was in pain or suffering. But I knew he was. My cousin is a vet, and she told me liver failure is a miserable way to go. So I let them inject him with a syringe full of pink stuff. It was very quick.
I've been expecting this for a long time, and yet, it really hasn't sunken in. I know I did the right thing, and he certainly had a long, full, and happy life. But darn, I miss the varmint.
He always followed me around. Anywhere I was in the house, he would be there, too. Even when I was in the shower, he would risk being splashed to stay nearby. He liked to watch baseball with me. Other cats hid from guests or ran under the couch when we cheered a big hit, but BJ loved people and was so calm that shouting never bothered him. He was sitting in my lap when Bubba hit that walkoff homer in 2005. I was clutching him nervously when Aaron Boone hit his walkoff and prolonged the Curse another year.
Goodbye, old friend. You were the best cat ever.
c/o The Louisville Bats
Louisville Slugger Field
401 East Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
April 5, 2007: Louisville Bats 5, Toledo Mud Hens 4
Not a bad night for our hero, even though he went only 1 for 5 (and is therefore batting .200). He made two or three plays in right field that really impressed the announcers (who remembered him doing a lot of damage to the Bats when he was a Clipper). They commented on his speed, concentration, and fearlessness in the outfield.
At the plate, he got his first at-bat in the second inning. One out, none on. Zach Miner seemed to have his number. One ball, then Bubba swung and missed at the next three pitches. Actually, Miner seemed to have almost everyone's number, at least the first time through the order.
Bubba's second at-bat was in the fourth. One out, none on. He let the first pitch go by as a ball, then hit a line drive to right. It was a standup double. The announcers seemed to think he was considering heading for 3B. Gutierrez walked, and Wise struck out swinging. Conway hit a single to center field, and Bubba scored. 4-2 Mud Hens.
He came to the plate again in the 6th. One out, none on. He grounded out to 2B on the second pitch.
Louisville rallied in the 8th inning. Bubba came to bat with one out, runners on 2B and 3B. The score was still 4-2 Mud Hens, so this was a chance to tie the game, or even pull ahead. The Mud Hens brought in southpaw Vic Darensbourg to face the lefty Bubba. (Guess they weren't fooled by the Bats media guide.) The first pitch was a ball. He swung at the second pitch, flying out to left field. Bummer. I was so sure he would bring the runners home. Gutierrez did the job, hitting a single to right. He tried to stretch it into a double, and was thrown out, ending the inning. Game tied, 4-4.
Bubba got a chance to redeem himself in the bottom of the tenth. With one out, runners on the corners, and lefty Corey Hamman on the mound, Toledo decided to intentionally walk the right-handed Snyder to reach Bubba.
So he came to the plate with bases loaded, one out. Ball, foul...then Bubba hit a slow roller to 2B. Their only play was at home, but speedy Tyrell Godwin, on 3B, scored easily. It was ruled a fielder's choice and RBI for Bubba. A walkoff fielder's choice!
Bubba's game-winner was also chosen the Big Boy Big Play of the Game.
The blogosphere is the most explosive social network you'll never see. Recent studies suggest that nearly 60 million blogs exist online, and about 175,000 more crop up daily (that's about 2 every second). Even though the vast majority of blogs are either abandoned or isolated, many bloggers like to link to other Web sites. These links allow analysts to track trends in blogs and identify the most popular topics of data exchange. Social media expert Matthew Hurst recently collected link data for six weeks and produced this plot of the most active and interconnected parts of the blogosphere.
1 MR. POPULARITY
On the map, white dots represent individual blogs, sized according to number of links. Nearly 500,000 people visit the DailyKos every day, making it one of the world's most popular blogs. A link from DailyKos is a guaranteed way of attracting Web traffic (and therefore advertising revenue), and as a result DailyKos has a strict link policy. Green links represent one-way links (that is, blog A links to blog B), and purple links indicate reciprocal links (blog B returns the favor).
2 THE GOSSIP OF GADGET HOUNDS
The bright spot here represents the popular site Boingboing, a "Directory of Wonderful Things" that links to oddly compelling online news from the fringes of the real world but mostly offers gossip about gadgets and all things high-tech.
3 SHOW ME YOUR FRIENDS
This isolated, close-knit online community of bloggers uses LiveJournal, an online host that primarily serves as a social networking site. This blogging island is just barely in touch with the rest of the blogworld.
4 I'LL SHOW YOU MINE...
This blob represents a balanced sociopolitical discourse. The prevalence of purple in this area shows that most of these links are reciprocal, suggesting a sort of metadialogue between bloggers who hurl headlines at one another. The brightest light belongs to syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.
5 NAH, JUST SHOW ME YOURS
No discussion of the blogosphere would be complete without a nod to online smut. This outlying island of blue represents the linked-up world of bloggers who traffic in the latest news and gossip from the world of pornography. Oh, yeah, and pictures.
6 LONELY JOCKS
Also on the outskirts is this group of sports enthusiasts, many of whom, unlike the lonely pornographers, have links back to the central hot spot of the blogosphere. "What you find often on the blogosphere is people on the outside pointing in to the middle," Hurst says. "They're on the outside looking in." -Stephen Omes
It was downright balmy this morning when I left for work. I wore a light sweat jacket, unzipped, and was plenty warm. What a shock when I got out at 4pm. It had turned bitterly cold and raw. I froze my rear off, sprinting for the car.
I should have known. The weather turned cold in Cincinnati yesterday, and we always get the weather Ohio gets, only a day later. The Reds played another game in the snow today, and judging from the weather report, it's not much different in Louisville. There's a freeze warning there tonight. I hope Bubba remembered to pack some long underwear.
The lineup has been posted. Bubba is playing right field and batting fifth. Follow the game on Gameday, and/or listen it on Gameday Audio (free with registration).
Let's go, Bubba!
The Yankees game was rained out today. The Reds played, but it was 39F when the first pitch was thrown, and it actually snowed during the game.
The Reds lost, unfortunately. Arroyo had a pretty good night, but former Yankee Ted Lilly had a better one. The Reds also had some defensive gaffes, and some questionable use of the bullpen.
Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory threw out the first pitch opening day, and it was the worst pitch I have ever seen. Just incredibly bad. So bad, it made the national news. Even worse, the other first pitch shown on the news shows was the Yankees'. Cory Lidle's son, Christopher, threw a great pitch. He's six years old. There was much joking about how maybe he should give the mayor some tips.
But Mayor Mallory at least had a sense of humor about it. Yesterday, he released a top ten list of reasons why his pitch was so bad.
Interesting article in the NY Times today. Scientific research suggests that wealth and power make people more oblivious, while powerlessness tends to make them more cautious. I guess that would explain why so many superstar athletes are world-class jerks.
The Bats' first game is tomorrow. They're at home against the Toledo Mudhens. Game starts at 7:05pm. No lineup yet, but I think we can assume Bubba is starting, since the Bats have only three outfielders on their entire roster.
At least according to the Bats Media Guide:
(It's a PDF; Bubba is on page 16.)