58 Games in and Ozzie Guillen’s Finally Warmed Up to Mid-Season Form

Ozzie Guillen was like a dormant volcano the first two months of the season. You always knew he was capable of unloading one of his Hall of Fame rants but he held back for the most part. Meanwhile typical hot heads like Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley already had their moments, but Ozzie remained patient. He decided to wait for the season to develop more before injecting one of his inspiring speeches. And boy, did he get off a beaut after the Sox lost the first game of a doubleheader to the Tigers:

“If this was the 1980s, (none) of these guys would be in the big leagues right now because if you hit .210-.230 and you can’t execute, I don’t think you should be out here,” Guillen said shortly after third baseman Josh Fields went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and committed an error in the top of the ninth inning that set up the Tigers’ winning rally.

“When you can’t bunt, hit-and-run, squeeze and move the guy over, you better hit 40 home runs and drive in 140. The only positive about this game was (reliever) D.J. Carrasco and a couple home runs here and there. A little excitement, fans got a little excited, and that’s it.”

“Is the clubhouse closed?” Guillen said. “We should open it and let them (answer) why they’re so horse (bleep).”

OK Ozzie, tell me how you really feel. Sometimes he’s just like a toy — wind him up and let him go. Maybe it’s when the calendar turned to June that Ozzie officially started to panic, realizing it was time to identify the team as either a contender or a rebuilder. Clearly you know where he stands. Any wonder why he was so critical of the Gordon Beckham promotion?

Carlos Zambrano Planning Retirement, Giving Gatorade Machines a Break

Question: When you’re 28-years-old, in the second year of a $91.5 million contract, and you just won your 100th game in the majors, how do you celebrate? If you’re Carlos Zambrano, you do it by announcing your retirement plans. In his first game back from a six-game suspension for throwing an on-field fit that included busting up a gatorade machine, Carlos Zambrano held the Reds to two hits and homered in a 2-1 win on Friday night. The horse is a third of the way to Randy Johnson who just reached the 300-win mark but says he’s not going to try to make it into that club:

“Three hundred? Me?” Zambrano said. “No, I’ll be out of here in five years.”

“After this contract, I’m done. I’m serious. I don’t want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don’t want to play. I want to stay home and see my daughters grow up and hang out with my family more. Do you know how many Mother’s Days I spend with my mother? Do you know how many things I’ve lost in my life? It’s good to be here, it’s good to play baseball — don’t get me wrong, but five years, four years, whatever I have left in my contract, I will retire. That’s it.”

Zambrano only has three more seasons left on his current deal, and there is a vesting option for a fourth year depending on how well Carlos pitches in his final two seasons of the contract. If he does indeed walk away from the game after this contract, he’ll be in his young 30s with plenty of money saved up (hopefully) and lots of years in front of him. His retirement would inspire more comeback offers than Roger Clemens received. I’m not sure if this is some sort of negotiating ploy (I think that would be too smart for Big Z) but this is a brilliant scheme to gain some leverage for his next deal.

(via Fark)

Umpire Tim Timmons Altered History with Randy Johnson’s 300th Win

Randy Johnson’s 300th win against the Nationals on Thursday got buried almost as much as you can bury such a huge accomplishment. It was supposed to happen the night before but rain postponed the game and the Nats lost out on what would have been one of their few decent crowds of the year, of course. His headline got pushed aside in favor of Game 1 in the NBA Finals and Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But in front of countless hundreds at Nationals Park, Johnson did get win number 300 of his career, throwing six innings of one-run ball. The Unit had to rely on his bullpen to preserve a 2-1 lead for a few innings and almost lost the win in the bottom of the 8th.

Brandon Medders and Jeremy Affeldt each put a man on before closer Brian Wilson was brought in for the four-out save. Wilson walked Ryan Zimmerman to load the bases and went to a full count on Adam Dunn. That’s where history was altered by homeplate umpire Tim Timmons on this pitch:

Some people say Dunn should have been swinging on such a close pitch, but I say the pitch was too low and clearly below his knees and should have been called a ball, regardless of the situation. The walk would have been an RBI for Dunn (who also leads MLB in walks) and tied the score at two, eliminating Randy Johnson from the decision. The Unit would have needed to go for win 300 his next time out, oh well. Instead, Timmons hesitated for a second as if to ponder the circumstance of the call, and then he pulled the trigger to help make history happen. Most people at Big League Stew agree with me that it still should have been called a ball because it was one. The Unit would have achieved the milestone regardless; Timmons shouldn’t have tried to expedite the inevitable.

Lastly, since I’m sure you’re all very eager to read my opinion on the matter, I’m still sticking by my words that there will never be another 300-game winner. At least not for another 20 years or until MLB changes to seven-inning games like high school. Then we might be talking.

Glavine Release Is About Tommy Hanson, Not Money, Tom

I’ve never really been a fan of the Atlanta Braves front office. It all started with John Schuerholz’s book which was nothing but an ego-feeding, self-promotional response to Moneyball which glorified Billy Beane. Then you had Frank Wren say he saw Andruw Jones’ decline coming, only a year after Jones belted over 40 homers for the second straight year. But that’s the same team that offered Jones big money, just not as much as the Dodgers did, so you know their back-slapping was out of luck, not brains. Then I was pissed they low-balled John Smoltz to the point he had to go to Boston and instead went out and threw all kinds of money at Kenshin Kawakami. Their latest blunder was to release Tom Glavine who had just thrown back-to-back shutouts in his rehab from shoulder and elbow surgery. That pissed Glavine off something awful and even Schuerholz apologized for Atlanta’s actions:

“I want to offer an apology to Tommy,” Schuerholz said. “We made our decision, but the environment and the tone and the manner at the end of it didn’t feel comfortable to me. I tossed and turned pretty much all night long really, after we finished our meeting with Tommy, thinking about here’s this guy who has meant so much to our franchise, to the game of baseball, Hall of Famer, represented our city in grand fashion, and the meeting ended in a way that didn’t make me feel good. I felt like I owed Tommy an apology on behalf of our organization and from me.”

This is the second time Schuerholz has slapped Glavine in the face; the first time prompted Glavine to leave Atlanta to sign with the intra-divisional rival Mets. So while I have no doubts that the Braves and Schuerholz didn’t take some glee in sticking it to Glavine yet again, I have to say that I believe the move was more about embracing the future than saving money, as Glavine claims. True, Glavine would have made a few million being on the roster for 30 days, but the team is much better off adding Tommy Hanson to the rotation from Triple-A. Hanson had a 1.49 ERA in the minors, 90 strikeouts in just over 66 innings and he’s one of the top pitching prospects in the game. I’m not saying he’s ever going to win a Cy Young Award the way Glavine has or that he’ll ever come close to touching Glavine’s 305 career wins, but I do know that Hanson will do much more for the Braves than Glavine will over the next five seasons. I side with the Braves on this one — the move is much more about Hanson than it is Glavine. He needs to get over it and move on to a new team or retire.

Alex Rios Apologizes for Platinum Sombrero-Inspired YouTube Fan Tirade

Ladies and gentleman, the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally came. Yes that’s right, we had our first platinum sombrero of the season. As Gilbert and I were discussing in the comments, Alex Rios of the Blue Jays took an 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against the Angels on Thursday, earning the rare and coveted Platinum Sombrero, the second of his career in fact. Rios is a talented player who has what I’ve called the best-looking right handed swing in baseball (J.D. Drew wins my award for a lefty). But Rios has had his low points. Thursday would count as one of them, and I wish his story ended on the field. Unfortunately it didn’t. As documented by this video at Deadspin, some jerkoff fans heckled Rios who was coming out of a charity event, riding him about going 0-fer and getting upset when he didn’t sign an autograph. The video has plenty of F-bombs and profanity and seemed to be a setup by the fans:

What bothers me is that Rios is the one who later apologized (due to pressure from the club I’m sure, only because the video wound up online). But for anyone who watches the video I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the fans who should be issuing the apology. Just because they’re fans who support the team and because Rios is a public figure who makes millions doesn’t mean he’s not a person. That doesn’t give you the right to harass him outside the stadium when he’s on personal time. That doesn’t give them the right to make some mean-spirited remarks. They’re the jerks who should be apologizing for an embarrassing performance.

Also, as the Platinum Sombrero moniker has picked up steam all throughout the internet as a result of Rios’ tirade, let it be known that LBS has been up on this for the longest. Also, LBS is the only site that will also point out that Mike Cameron achieved the Golden Sombrero that very same day, his coming against the Marlins. You just can’t buy that type of coverage anywhere else!

Ken Macha Still Has Strong Ties to Moneyball Style

The Brewers have played well this year, leading the NL Central with a 30-21 record despite starting out the season slowly. They don’t have C.C. Sabathia or Ben Sheets, but they have a new manager in Ken Macha who has a pretty strong idea about how to run the team. Some of the former A’s manager’s principles include not running nor sacrifice bunting, and that’s brought on questions from the press:

[Macha] analyzed some statistics and came up with a few tidbits that support why he doesn’t let players steal more bases, and why he doesn’t sacrifice bunt as much.

Going into play Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays were stealing bases at a success rate of 87% (82 steals in 94 attempts).

Macha and droves of other statistic gurus believe a team has to have a 75% success rate for steals to have a positive impact on an offense, but as Macha happily pointed out, the Rays were two games under .500.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve read Moneyball — the book about the Oakland A’s. Macha maintains that his feelings on stealing bases and dropping bunts (he added that a team’s percentage of scoring is higher with a runner on first base and nobody out than with a man on second and one out) have also been referenced in Ted Williams’ book and essays by Branch Rickey. That may be the case, but I’m guessing all these notions were well-cemented into his consciousness by the A’s organization. Oakland may have altered its philosophy but it still sounds like some of the tenets of Moneyball are alive and well in Milwaukee. I’ve always felt that teams should play a style based on their abilities, and it seems like Macha’s way of thinking is working out with the Brewers.

(via Ben Maller)

Yankees Suck T-Shirts Not Allowed at The Ballpark in Arlington

I feel pretty strongly when it comes to being a fan that one should support his/her team to the fullest and not downgrade the opponent. Dressing up in ridiculous garb, painting your face, and cheering for your team is extreme but in the positive sense. Threatening an opponent with death is taking things way too far. Wearing a “Yankees Suck” shirt expresses a negative sentiment but is more harmless. Anyway, a fan at the park for one of the Rangers/Yankees games last week in Arlington encountered some controversy because she wore a Yankees Suck shirt to the game.

Once inside the ballpark’s Diamond Club for a pregame dinner, [fan Kristen] Knapp-Webb was informed that the anti-Yankees message on her shirt was a violation of the Rangers’ code of conduct for fans. At the least, she had to turn it inside out.

In fact, the Rangers organization imposes a dozen rules of conduct on fans who attend games in Arlington.

Rule 11 states: “Any person wearing clothing with language, graphics or revealing parts of their body that may be offensive to another guest may be denied entry into the stadium or ejected from the stadium without refund.”

The Rangers instituted this rule based on previous complaints by fans. The Red Sox, Mariners, and Orioles have all outlawed the Yankees Suck shirts so by no means are the Rangers in the minority. Now normally I believe this sort of negative sentiment is against the spirit of proper fandom, but when it comes to the Yankees, I think an exception has to be made. Does it get more American than rooting against the Yankees (or for them for that matter)?

(via Circling the Bases)