Friday

Baseball Notes: New Poll, Big Sexy Charges the Mound & DFTU


Hello again everybody...

Hope you're all TGIF-ing it at the end of another work week - sorry Josh...

Today I'll talk about the results of the last poll and the genesis of the new one. Then I'll talk about Mariners 1B Richie Sexson charging the mound last night. Finally it's an end of the week edition of the DFTU!

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Let us away...

The latest poll is up, but let's look at the results of the previous poll first. The question was, "What's your prediction for the Minnesota Twins record". Out of 16 total votes, 9 of you (56%) said that they'll finish above .500. 3 of us (18%) said they'd finish at .500. And 4 of you (25%) said they'd finish below .500.

So do I have a bunch of optimistic Twins fans reading the blog? Perhaps. But based on their play of late, there's certainly a chance they'll exceed my expectations and finish above the .500 mark. I'll stick with my prediction that they'll finish at or around .500, though the way the Central has been going, that'd probably get them better than the 4th place finish that I predicted would go along with that record.

And now onto the new poll. "How many games will Brandon Webb win?" For those of you who don't instantly recognize the name (and that better be because you're not one of my baseball-fan readers), Webb's the Arizona right-hander who won the NL Cy Young Award (best pitcher in the NL) two years ago, and finished second in the voting last year. This year Brandon has won his first 8 starts out of the gate (he accomplished the same feat in his Cy Young year of 2006) and is currently sporting an ERA of 2.41. He's only the 6th pitcher in the last 50 years to win his first 8 starts while keeping his ERA below 2.50.

So the question now becomes, how many is this guy gonna win?! His stuff has been electric so far, and assuming he stays healthy, hitters are going to face an uphill battle against him all year. There's even speculation as to whether he could become the first 30-game winner since Denny McLain in 1968. I'm going to say "nay" to that idea. In Webb's 5 seasons in the majors, he's averaged 32.6 starts per season. So he'd have to maintain a ridiculous pace to be able to win 30. 25 on the other hand, that might might be doable.

So take a moment, think it over and make your vote. D'back fans, vote early and often!

Next up, I've got to talk about Richie Sexson's performance last night. The Seattle Mariners were hosting the Texas Rangers in a game between AL West also-rans. Texas was leading 4-0 in the 4th inning when Ranger 2B Ian Kinsler, who had homered in the 2nd inning, got hit in the back by Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez. Kinsler took exception and glared at Hernandez as he went to first base. In the bottom half of the inning Texas pitcher Kason Gabbard threw a pitch to Seattle 1B Richie Sexson, which was described as "up, but not far inside", by ESPN.com. Richie however, decided that the pitch was an inappropriate response to Kinsler's beaning and chose to express his displeasure by charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Gabbard.

He threw his helmet.

Think about that. Richie Sexson is 6-8 and 240 pounds. Kason Gabbard is 6-3 and 200 pounds. And Sexson threw his freaking helmet!

Friend of WCCO Radio Ross Bernstein just wrote a book entitled "The Code: Baseball's Unwritten Rules and It's Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct". It's a follow-up to last year's hockey version of "The Code", which described the unwritten rules of fighting in hockey. Who fights, when do they fight and how "hockey justice" is determined. I've only begun perusing the Baseball version, but I'm quite confident that "helmet flinging" is a violation of the Baseball Code. Especially if you've got 5 inches and 40 pounds on a guy!

I'm not going to argue the merits of intentionally hitting batters or charging pitchers on the mound. These are things that have been part of baseball since its inception. And though bench-clearing brawls have reduced in frequency, I'm not sure you'll ever eliminate them completely.

What I will say is that if you really feel the need to hit a guy, or charge the mound in response to a brush-back pitch, suck it up, be a man and go do what you have to do. Don't bring your bat, don't throw the ball back at the pitcher (Twins fans will recall an incident in Cleveland where Torii Hunter did just that), and for heaven's sake, don't throw your helmet. Either go out there and challenge the pitcher physically, or just take your base.

So until Richie Sexson offers some kind of explanation, or better yet an apology, he's officially on my "Less than Manly Athlete" list! Come on Richie! You're better than that!

(Ed.'s Note: This just crossed the wire -

NEW YORK -- Seattle slugger Richie Sexson was suspended for six games and fined Friday by Major League Baseball after charging the mound and throwing his helmet at a Texas pitcher the previous night.

Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, cited Sexson for "violent and aggressive actions."

Sexson asked the players' association to appeal, and any suspension will be delayed until after a hearing.

The appeal will probably end up reducing the suspension to 4 games or so. That seems to be the precedent.

But they ought to tell Richie that they're actually adding a couple of games for pulling such a bush move!)

Finally it's time for everybody's favorite segment: Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Twins: The Twins sit at 17-16, 1 game ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central.

Winners of 7 of their last 10, the Twins are surprising a lot of people throughout baseball. I think what I find most remarkable is that they lead their division when they haven't been able to run out a consistent pitching rotation (due mostly to injuries) or a consistent lineup (some injuries, but mostly ineffective play). Neither of these issues are likely to be resolved real soon now that P Scott Baker's been placed on the Disabled List - Kevin Slowey is just coming back, and Glen Perkins has been called up to fill Baker's spot. And in terms of the lineup, IF's Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto have been making cases to play on a regular basis while 3B Mike Lamb and SS Adam Everett have struggled.

But it doesn't look like anyone in the Central is going to step up and take control of the division for a while, so it looks like the Twins can hang in there til they decide what direction they really want to go.

The Twins open a 4-game set against the Red Sox (whom I still hate) at the Metrodome tonight before welcoming in the Toronto Blue Jays in for 3 next week.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 23-12 and 3.5 game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

Arizona's smoking-hot start has seemingly cooled somewhat. The Snakes dropped 2 of 3 to the Mets and split a 4-game set with the Phillies. Eric Byrnes is really struggling offensively. Reports say that he's battling some bum hamstrings and that they're really affecting his swing. Obviously the Arizona trainers know better than we do, but sooner or later, fans have to wonder when it's time to let Byrnes take some time off and try and get those things healed up. Hamstrings are tricky that way. The only way to heal them really is to rest them. And if you keep trying to force it, they could be a lingering problem all year.

The pitching's still fantastic however. Brandon Webb's outstanding. Dan Haren has been solid. Randy Johnson has gotten hit around somewhat, but is still giving the Snakes a chance to win. Micah Owings has been getting more press for his hitting than his pitching, but don't forget this guy is 4-1 with a 4.33 ERA. Not shabby for a 4th starter. And more good news is on the way for Arizona fans. Doug Davis is going to be making a couple of rehab starts next week for Triple-A Tuscon and then he'll be ready to rejoin the rotation cancer-free! Kudos Doug.

The D'backs are in Chicago this weekend for a series with the Cubs before heading back home to host the struggling Rockies.

That's it for this week folks. More baseball on Monday and then I ramp up coverage for the 133rd Preakness Stakes!

2 comments:

  1. Good stuff as always Dan! I finally registered so I can leave comments on your blogs.

    I love your Sexon comments. (Yes, Torii Hunter fits the same description) If a guy takes exception to a brush back (Let's face it, if he wanted to bean Sexon, he would have). It was a brush back with a pinch of retaliation. Anyway, either charge the mound with your fists or take your base. Don't be a wuss and throw your helmet. That's what weaklings and girls do when they're afraid of contact!

    I vote for the Twins finishing at .500. I see nothing to suggest that they'll do much better. Starting pitching in mediocre at best and lineup still inconsistent. These past few series have been fun to watch. I loved seeing Papelbon blowing a save tonight. The Red Sox don't have my emotions any longer as I've told you a few times since their last World Series victory. They are the new Yankees. I hate them too. (Unless they play the Yankess)

    I breezed past your comments on the D'Backs. Webb will win 20 games. This day and age, ballclubs would never risk working a Cy Young so much to potentionally win 25-30 games. It seems you think this years Arizona ballclub is the best thing since sliced bread. One-quarter into the season it looks like they are. I'll hold optimism until I see a bigger trend.

    Good stuff as always!

    Write on

    G

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now THAT'S a comment! Gary's set the bar people. Now let's see if the rest of you can step up!

    Thanks Gary!

    ReplyDelete