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Jim Thome Joins the Club

As you can imagine, I’m quite pleased to have yet another established slugger join the coveted ranks of the LBS Golden Sombrero Club. The elite franchise that is the LBS GS Club has no room for the Paul Janishes of the world; we’re all about the Hall of Famers, the 500 home run club members. Jim Thome could be the club’s proudest inductee up to this point. Anyway, if Thome had been halfway productive on Saturday against Tampa Bay, maybe his team wouldn’t have lost 5-3. Then again, with the way Scott Kazmir shut them down (except for Jermaine Dye), you really can’t blame him.

Thome thrice took the gas pipe against Scott Kazmir, twice swinging and once looking. Then in the 9th, Thome punched out swinging against Dan Wheeler. For the second straight game against the Rays, the White Sox bullpen blew a late innings lead, this time they gave up 4 runs in the 8th to fall behind 5-3. On Friday night, the pen gave up 3 in the 8th and 3 more in the 9th to lose 9-4. As White Sox fan extraordinare Lance Johnson says, if the White Sox lose the division by one or two games, blame it all on Octavio Dotel. Surely not Jim Thome — those 500+ home runs have to come at a price, right?

End the Francisco Rodriguez Cy Young Talk, Please

There’s no two ways about it — being a huge Angels fan, I have plenty of affection for Frankie Rodriguez. He was lights out in ’02 when the team won the World Series, and he’s been a stud in the pen ever since. You can’t possibly be an Angels fan and not love Frankie. Sure, he makes saves more adventurous than they need to be, but he still gets the job done more often than not; there’s much more to like about him than not to like. Anyway, that all being said, I’m getting sick of people suggesting that Frankie is a candidate for the Cy Young Award in the AL this year (ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian on Thursday night on SportsCenter for one). On what grounds? The fact that he happens to play for the team that’s won the most and that’s happened to generate the most save chances in the league? The fact that he might wind up breaking a record because of this? I agree, he’s having a special season in terms of the numbers, but I can’t agree that his season is worthy of Cy Young contention.

Frankie hasn’t pitched a fraction of the innings that studs like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay — my top two candidates — have thrown. These guys are giving 7, 8, 9 innings an outing for their team — all quality innings, too. These guys have been unhittable for most of the season, being more effective than Frankie who only has to pitch one inning at a time. Not only have Lee and Halladay been spectacular making them more deserving than K-Rod, but Frankie isn’t even the top closer in the league. Joe Nathan (the best closer in baseball the last five years), Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, and Mariano Rivera have all been more effective this year pitching a similar amount of innings. The only difference between Frankie and those other four guys (aside from those guys being more effective) is that Frankie has more saves. That’s it. Doesn’t mean he’s been any better, just means his team has created more save situations. I’m not hating on Frankie here because he’s a reliable closer and has been one of the most reliable closers over the past few years, but he just has no business being mentioned in any Cy Young talk. As far as I’m concerned, it’s between Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, and pretty much nobody else. Plain and simple. Let’s just hope the writers don’t screw this up as they’re so frequently known to do.

Pete Rose Bet on Tony Gwynn in Basketball, Cracks on Marge Schott

I already told you about the excellent segment on Double X Sports Radio that featured Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Randy Jones, and Darren Smith. In another part of the segment, Tony Gwynn was talking about getting his first major league hit — a double against the Phillies. Apparently Rose was playing first base and trailing the play, and bid Gwynn congratulations on the hit after the play. Tony Gwynn then talked about what a fan he was of Rose, and Rose interjected:

“You guys don’t understand because I love Tony Gwynn because I won some big bets when he played basketball [everybody laughing] … he can score some points … just kidding.”

That line certainly grabbed a ton of laughs, and in case you were unfamiliar, Tony Gwynn was a star point guard at San Diego State. But check out this zinger from Rose: “When I played for [Reds owner] Marge Schott for those five years, she was the only person in the organization with facial hair!” Needless to say, there were some classic lines from Pete Rose. In addition to the jokes, the gang actually talked real baseball where they gave some serious analysis on today’s game.

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Tony Gwynn Has Interest in Managing Padres, Minor Leagues

First Barry Bonds shows interest in managing minor leaguers, now Tony Gwynn? I was on my way to Dodger Stadium early last Friday to get some interviews, listening to Double X Sports 1090 — the Padres’ station. They were running the Padres BP show (you can listen here), and they had quite the star-studded cast: hit king Pete Rose, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Cy Younger Randy Jones, and host Darren Smith. Despite being a BP show which would seem boring, it was easily some of the most enjoyable radio I’ve ever heard — just like listening to a bunch of baseball greats sitting around talking at a bar. At one point Tony was asked by Rose if his ambition is to be a big league manager. Tony’s response was clear: “No.” Rose followed up, “You mean if they offer you the job next month you’d turn it down?” Gwynn responded, “I didn’t say that [laughing loudly].” Now that wouldn’t be much of a stretch considering Gwynn already manages San Diego State’s baseball team. Check this though — attention MLB GMs: Tony Gwynn might be lookin for something new:

“I’ve [managed San Diego State] for six years, I’d like to continue to do it for a while, but I can’t lie to you — one day you’d like to move from that to something else. To me, the minor leagues seem more intriguing than the big leagues. I feel like you can make the biggest difference teaching guys how to do things right.”

Hmm, why does that sound so familiar? Gwynn also added that he was criticized throughout his career for remaining on the Padres even with their losing teams, but he said he did things that made him comfortable and even sacrificed money to be comfortable because that was important to him, much like coaching at San Diego State. He also said that he’d like some of the college rules to change, such as allowing players to have more than two hours to practice a day in the off-season. Gwynn said it’s hard to get better playing college baseball with the restrictions they place on kids. Perhaps that’s a motivating factor in Tony having interest in moving on somewhere else.

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Dan Uggla, Mike Jacobs Commit the Double-Sombrero

Honestly, admit you thought this was something straight out of Dean Wermer’s book. Not so. It’s been a while since we had any new introductions to the elite LBS Golden Sombrero Club. Aaron Rowand, don’t think I didn’t notice yours a few weeks back. I let you off easy on. Anyway, LBS reader Adam is a Cubs fan and made sure I didn’t miss the fact that the Marlins 4-5 combination of Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla committed the double-sombrero on Sunday in a 9-2 loss against Chicago. Now in case you were asking whether or not this was the first of its kind, my homey Elias works for some Sports Bureau and confirmed that this is indeed a first. I mean last time I was so elated to have Andruw Jones go where no position player had gone before — Platinum. But a double-sombrero? That’s unprecedented. That’s ground breaking.

Clean up hitter Mike Jacobs punched out three times against Ryan Dempster and then once against Neal Cotts. Uggla was rung up three times by Dempster as well and took the gas pipe in his final AB against Jeff Samardzija. Jacobs has 25 dongs on the season, but has a .241 average to go with it. Uggla’s got 26 bombs and his average is a less-ugly .260. With power numbers like those, we’re assured to see better days from both. Alas, they’re both welcome additions to the club. We’re working on quite the star-studded roster now.

Joe Torre Surfs, Does Yoga in State Farm Commercial

I knew that Joe Torre got a ton of press because, well, let’s face it — he was the manager of the Yankees during their superb run from ’96-’03. But I didn’t know he was much of a pitchman, unlike say, Greg Oden. Even though the last time Torre appeared in a commercial was 1985, he was immediately cast in a State Farm Insurance commercial upon arriving in LA. Anyone who watches Dodger games has surely seen this great spot, but I’m not sure it’s been out there for a national audience, so here it is:

The yoga scene is tight, but for my money, it doesn’t get much better than Joe Torre surfing in the Pacific Ocean, while wearing his Dodger cap no less. Dude, it’s OK to take it off when you’re in the water, OK?

Barry Bonds Sees Himself as a College Baseball Coach

Barry Bonds was in the house at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday night for a celebration of the Giants 50th anniversary in the city. After receiving a warm reception from the fans and making a brief speech on the field before the game, Bonds ventured up to the Comcast Bay Area television booth where he joined Kruk and Kuip for a half inning. Bonds was asked several questions, and said he still misses the game. One thing he was asked was whether or not he’d eventually try to become a manager. Bonds’ response:

I think the best position for me would probably be in a college — that’s how I feel. I’d rather teach kids what they want to do and what to do to get to the major leagues. I see myself doing something like that moreso than doing something in the major leagues if that time comes for me to make that decision.

Bonds also added that coaching at UCLA seemed ideal because of its proximity to his current home, but was torn because he’s not keen on helping a team that competes against Arizona State — his alma mater. I think it’s pretty curious that Bonds made this comment. Obviously Barry still wants to be around the game and wants to help young players get better, but I have to wonder if he said he’d prefer to coach college baseball because he feels blackballed and unwanted by MLB, or because he truly would prefer to work with college kids. I think there could be some underlying reasons there. Either way, sending my kid to go play for Barry Bonds probably wouldn’t be the first choice on my list. And what prominent school would hire the guy anyway? Well, I guess there is a place for everyone.