Let Teddy Win: The Week of Memorial Day in MLB

Don’t ask me about the weather around here. Don’t tell me what day it is or where to go for food stamps. I don’t care.

Reading through these scribbles on a yellow steno book, I see many times written let Teddy win. But that buffoon is worse than the 1962 Mets, or 1962 Senators for that matter.

Woe unto Teddy (giant racing Roosevelt head) never wins. He hasn’t won the D.C. president’s race since last year when he surprised crosstown rival Oriole bird mascot.

Last week, however, the bird took the annual crosstown match more seriously and quite poor-naturedly mugged Teddy, not once, but twice.

That’s baseball. Oh wait, that’s not even baseball. That’s nice.

On the field, David Eckstein was doing his Marcel Marceau impression as he pantomimed pain while serving as a human pitching backstop getting hit several times in the ribs, on the shoulders, all over the place last week. Ouch. It hurts just to watch, or contemplate.

Then, I had a good one for A. J. Burnett that he almost, but not quite ruined, by finally pitching decently and blanking the Rangers on Wednesday; Wednesday, right?

After a recent Yankees walk-off, Burnett smacked hero Johnny Damon in the face with a shaving cream pie. I was all set with the only thing he can hit with a pitch is Johnny Damon’s face with shaving cream pie, but as I said, Burnett tried to resemble that remark.

Viva Clay Zapata, I mean Zavada. It was hard to tell the difference since Zapata, I mean Zavada, featured a perfect Emiliano Zapata — that Zapata — mustache. Zavada is throwing better than kinsman Zapata giving up no earned runs in four innings, including Tuesday, so far. So viva Zavada.

How bad was it for the Cubs during their recent losing streak. They started wearing rally caps in the first inning. That doesn’t exactly buoy my confidence in their chances.

Yeah, Mr. T got very ugly with the Take Me out crowd at Wrigley Field seventh inning stretch. I swear I’ve heard him sing before on some variety show, or nightmare, and he sang pretty well. So, I’m wondering if that whole deal wasn’t total shtick. I’m shocked, shocked Mr. T would do something merely for publicity purposes.

Speaking of publicity, two players who need mad pub immediately if not sooner. Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t even top six for National League all-star first base voting. Are you kidding me? Talk about below even under the radar. He is having an MVP-type season.

And in the junior circuit, Ryan Sweeney. For all the Tori Hunter, Andruw Jones et al,  hype, this guy is the best defensive outfielder in baseball. Too bad he hasn’t hit much yet.

One final note, earth to B. J. Upton. And I am so frustrated I put this in all caps:

YOU PLAY TOO FREAKIN’ SHALLOW IN CENTER FIELD. MOVE BACK SO YOU ACTUALLY CAN CATCH SOMETHING AT THE WARNING TRACK. PLEASE, FOR HUMANITY’S SAKE…

Streaking: Chorizo breaks through while Adrian Gonzalez homers in a forest and nobody knows

Without any fanfare, Adrian Gonzalez on Saturday, May 16 stood at the precipice of one of MLB’s most illustrious streaks.

And nobody knows.

Well, some people know. Gonzalez hit yet another home run Friday. It was the fifth consecutive game in which he had homered.

The consecutive game home run streak once was considered one of baseball’s greatest achievements this side of Joltin’ Joe’s 56 straight games and Lou Gehrig-Cal Ripkin’s iron man experiences.

Hitting home runs in consecutive game after game is considered just about the highest degree of batting difficulty.

Eight games by Dale Long from May 19 through May, 28 1956 for the Pirates set the modern record. Don Mattingly for the Yankees from July 8 through July 18, 1987 and Ken Griffey Jr. for the Mariners from July 20 through July 28, 1993, each tied the record.

What do you know a home run record with modern players in no way influenced by steroids. Now, there’s an oddity.

Going the steroid (allegedly) route, Barry Bonds had a seven game streak and three six game streaks.

Gonzalez is the Padres offense, period. So, it’s been surprising he has been pitched to on a consistent basis, although that appears to be changing. Who knows how long teams will continue pitching to the Padres sole offensive presence, how long Gonzalez will continue maintaining patience at the plate,

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Speaking of streaks, Chorizo, the expansion pork in the Milwaukee Brewers sausage race, finally broke through victory lane. Chorizo had lost the first 20 races of the season, and its expansion career, before breaking through on Wednesday, May 13 during the Brewers-Marlins game.

There was much talk before the fateful race that Marlins utility player Alfredo Amazega, a native of Ciudad Obregon de Mexico, had coached his home boy Chorizo before the upset. So, Amazega may have a future in some type of coaching gig, sausage or otherwise. Obviously, Chorizo was no mere fermented cured smoked sausage on the occasion of its upset victory. (Insert your own Randall Simon joke here.)

For the record, as of Friday, to no one’s surprise, big bully Hot Dog led with seven victories, followed by arch-rival Bratwurst at six, Italian Sausage — Mama Mia — at four and fellow slacker Polish Sausage at two wins.

Speaking of sausage races, now everybody seems to have a knock-off. Guess the copyright laws don’t cover this franchise.

Pittsburgh had been doing pierogi. Oakland has some kind of dots. Washington’s is the most ignominious of all, however, with G. Washington, T. Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Lincoln sloshing it up in da house.

Actually, I find the copycat races somewhat tiresome, except fans at the park win a free coke or something. My feelings are decidedly mixed, especially about he president’s race in Washington. It’s sort of funny, sad, pathetic and disrespectful at the same time. These guys are America icons, a lot more so than the Nats, so the entire spectacle looks cheesy in an uncomfortable way.

With that said, they keep stats for everything in baseball these days. So, feed these results in your sabermetrics chart:

Lincoln is the big face in front with seven wins this year, followed by TJeff with five, Georgy “Boy” D.C. Washington — in da house — with three, and that big loser, no doubt slowed by that darn big stick, T.R. with what the little boy shot at, nothing.

President race highlights, according to the authoritative source on all things presidential race-related, http//blog.letteddywin.com/presidents-race:

April 13, Teddy & “The Cat” spoil Thomas Jefferson’s birthday;  April 22, Teddy stops mid-race to pass out Earth Day goodies, and, of course, who in attendance could ever forget May 1, Presidents race blindfolded. Teddy runs the wrong way.

Is there any doubt why that goofball T.R. is winless so far this season.

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Friday’s gone as are these baseball oddities of the week…

1. Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump looking very, like, ugly together at Yankee Stadium. And they expect the Yankees to win with karma like that in the front row? The Donald’s hair, by the way, hit for the cycle.

2. Ichiro gets physical. Somebody better check his vitamin supplements, wink wink. Two home runs in consecutive innings to beat Jon Lester and the Red Sox single-handedly.  The score was 5-4. Ichiro drove in three runs and scored two.

3. Speaking of face-offs, Heath Bell v. pinch hitter Adam Rosales for the final out in Padres-Reds.  As two of the most visually emotive, and emotional players in the game, each made an incredible show following the final encounter in which Bell smoked Rosario to preserve a rare Padres victory. No brotherly love in that game, either. Jerry Hairston twice lined out to brother love Scott. Darn.

4. Sometimes, the crowd doesn’t know what to make of a situation. Take, for example, the strange scene at Boston when the Red Sox scored 12 runs in a row before Mike Lowell made the first out in the sixth inning against the Indians on May 7. The crowd didn’t know what to do — After all, he made an out, that’s bad, correct? — before breaking out in very scattered, and confused, applause.

5. Oh those darn Indians, B.J. Upton capped a seven run Rays comeback Friday, winning the game 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo blast, But I don’t care. He plays way too shallow in center field and has missed balls over his head all season. Back it up, dude.

6. Adam Jones has been great this year, but he didn’t look so hot the other day when he made an out on Ball Four. Didn’t know you could do that, huh? Alphonse-Gaston, we presume. You’re safe, he’s out. Jones attempted a steal as Nick Markakis took ball four, then over-slid the bag and was tagged out by Derek Jeter — shortstop, six, unassisted, if you’re scoring — and who does these days, nobody — end of inning.

7. In a special note for those following TV instead of, or alongside, baseball on Friday. They had their choice of ingenious counter-programming. “Farrah’s Story” went head-to-head with “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

Do I stay or do I go? Decision, decisions…

Ken Takahashi, Joan Rivers, my mother and me

No, Larry Anderson wasn’t the first to say this, but he does get a lot of credit in baseball circles, nonetheless: Why do they call it a parkway when you drive on it and driveway when you park on it?

But I regress.

Firstly, get well soon Remdog. Jerry Remy. He’s one of the greatest personalities in baseball. And he was a hell of a second baseman, even if he did play for the Red Sox.

Hey, get ready for Ken Takahashi.

Takahashi takes Ollie “I don’t need no stinkin’ strike zone” Perez’ place in the Mets rotation. The No. 4 draft pick of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 1995, Takahashi went 66-87 with a 4.23 ERA, entirely for the — fish? — so expect greatness. (Not). Actually, I believe Koji Uehara puts Takahashi to shame.

What’s truly amazing, though, is Takahashi’s age: 40. Released by the Blue Jays in early April, Takahashi is the third oldest player to make a rookie debut in modern MLB history.

The other two? Satchel Page, age 41 (officially), or older, for the Indians in 1948; and Diomedes Olivo, a catcher, age 41, ditto, for the Prates in 1960. So, enjoy.

The last 11 Red Sox-Yankees games have exceeded three hours in length. While that rivalry gets overplayed in the Northeast and sneered at most everywhere else, bring it on, sez me. While I’m a fan of neither, I’m of the mind it is by far the best rivalry in baseball. Cubs-Cards, boring; Dodgers-Giants, lame. Etc.

Max Scherzer does everything but win. Who has July 4 in the win pool? That might not cut it at this rate.

While we’re at it, I don’t care where Matt Holliday is playing, he still hasn’t touched home plate in the Rockies-Padres 2007 playoff elimination game.

And while we’re at it, too, I don’t care that the Kardashians were at the Dodgers-Nationals game. I don’t know what’s worse, the useless K clan or the equally horrific N’s. You know the saying: first in war, first in peace, last in the Am, er, National League. Washington karma. Please leave home without it.

Speaking of horrible coincidences, have you noticed how much Chase Utley looks like Jesse James; not even Jesse James the outlaw, but the boring loser fake celebrity married to Sandra Bullock, and featured on the latest travesty of Trump’s sleazy “Celebrity Apprentice”.

You mean the Diceman gets tossed Episode One, Tom Green, who actually wanted to win, gets tossed whenever, and Dennis Rodman self-tosses, but this guy makes it to the final three. Makes me want to toss.

By the way, in a “Celebrity Apprentice” addenda, my mother went to summer camp with Joan Rivers. They were heated rivals. My mother even got $200 from the National Enquirer for her feature “Bigmouth Joan Rivers was kicked out of camp at Age 11″, one of the few true stories in that, shall we say, organ.

My mother was chosen to play Snow White over the irrepressible Rivers at Camp Kinni Kinnic in 1944. She visited Rivers backstage at the short-lived “The Joan Rivers Show” in 1990 to reminisce.

“I thought bygones could be bygones since it happened so long ago,” Mother said. “Joan told me she would have been a better Snow White and I should have been cast as Dopey.”

All I can add: Go Annie Duke, go! And while Larry Anderson’s at it, have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

Regis and a final Padres rant, at least for now

Regis Philbin doesn’t just seem to be everywhere.

He is everywhere.

Kicking off Florida Marlins celebrity broadcaster week — and on temporary leave from taping Live with Regis and Cathy Kelly Lee at the Fountainbleu Hotel this week — Regis donned his Marlins  jersey and did some fine play-by-play in the booth. This, following throwing out the first pitch, exceedingly high and outside.

Regis was quite entertaining, of course, and claimed to be a Marlins fan for some reason. Jorge Cantu is his favorite player for those keeping track. Regis was well-informed about the Marlins, too. It was fun, but he’s no Krazy Krab.

Speaking of crazy, I’m going to get off my Padres are complete losers rant for several reasons. For one thing, it’s personal only because I live north of San Diego and have to watch that crap on a daily basis, then listen to the apologists and Padres management — who caused the entire bad scene –compliment each other and kiss each other’s butts. It angers me, but anger is a negative emotion.

With that said, I’ll complete my Padres bashing for the near future with two final blasts.

Number one: Brian Giles. He should change his name to Oh-for-Five. This guy makes $9 million this year. I don’t have $9 for dinner. His skills are way gone. True, the Padres tried like hell to trade him last year, but for some insane reason had given him a no-trade clause. Good grief, that’s disgusting. They even arranged a trade with the Red Sox, a Sox team on the way to the playoffs and possibly the World Series.

What competitive player at the end of his career, who never appeared in the playoffs even, would balk at that?

Giles, that’s who.

What’s more, they even offered him more money on top of that ridiculous $9 million. He turned it down. His reasoning was disgusting. Because he valued his family life or something, he claimed.

His family? Not only is Giles the defendant in an amazingly contentious palimony suit, but videotape has been displayed showing him repeatedly striking and throwing to the ground his ex-live-in-pal in public at a sports bar in Scottsdale.

Padres management kept talking about Giles being a character guy. Huh huh huh?

Giles is a guy who walks around naked in the clubhouse to the degree that it is freakishly exhibitionist. Giles is a guy who all but threatened to lead a player rebellion because the Padres banned beer in the clubhouse after the games. And again, the palimony business in which I totally believe the girlfriend and she has that public proof. Giles has about as much “character” as Mike Tyson and Barry Bonds.

Speaking of character bozos, we also got Mark Grant broadcasting these Padres games. What a disgrace. I find Grant personally repugnant, but won’t get into the details because no doubt he’ll find a way to bully me.

Anyway, Grant is absent from Padres broadcasts the next few days, thank goodness, and they’ve never been better. Talk about addition by subtraction. Suddenly, without this tired energy drain anchoring the booth, the other broadcasters are alive and enthusiastic, calling the games with insight and gusto. 

Anyone doubting who is the worst MLB broadcaster, check it out with Grant gone. Pure joy. Tony Gwynn can fill in only occasionally due to his other commitments,  but he’s great. The new guy, Neely, actually came out of his shell, did a great home run call, something missing with the troglodyte Grant around to intimidate him.

I’ve spent time in the Padres press box covering the games for a few outlets in the past and can say from personal observation this Grant crap is not an act. He is even more obnoxious in person. You should see him pigging out in the Padres buffet line, saying crap to people, and then sloughing it off because he’s only “kidding”. Lamest guy on the MLB planet and that’s saying something. No excuse exists for inflicting him on an unsuspecting public.

Anyway, that’s it for Padres ranting for a while, I mean, after this:

I’m on record saying they will lose 105 games if they trade Peavy, 100 games if they keep him. I’m on record calling out John and Becky Moores for looting the franchise for their own personal financial gain — their entire net worth is simply the profit they made from their leveraged buyout of the Padres 15 years ago and its appreciation — and the insanity of hiring Sandy Alderson who completed the job of dragging this franchise under the ground.

Alderson was a blowhard, totally ignorant about baseball and a bully to boot. Let’s just call him the franchise undertaker, for he finished the job of buryng it.

Anybody talented had to leave the team. Only yes-people survived. The minor league system is one of the three worst in baseball despite Alderson et. al. lies to the contrary. I have much more faith in Jeff Moorad’s group’s ability to turn this team around when they take full control after this season. But the rest of it, phooey, too bad for the loyal fans. (As epilogue, let me say I have great respect for Kevin Towers and the job he did in difficult circumstances).

OK, enough about the Padres. Who cares? As anybody who looks over my blog knows anyway, I’ve been a Rays fan since before they were born. I was living at Tampa and working at St. Pete when it happened, so have a proprietary interest. The first day then-Devil Rays t-shirts went on sale, I got me three. So, Go Rays!

Back to today in baseball: For the first time in history two teams batted their DH’s ninth in the order. Travis Snider batted ninth for the Jays and Ben Francisco batted ninth for the Indians. No wonder the game went 12 innings.

And Regis. Did I mention Regis. Good times.

Going to the dollar store for some detergent and Chris Burke who was traded for himself April 21

Chris Burke has joined the ranks of baseball trivia infamy. Traded for himself and it didn’t cost all that much

One of the classic old school New York Mets tales involved the inimitable Harry Chiti who was traded to the Indians for the infamous player to be named later. That player, two months later, was Chiti.

Well, surreal sports fans, this scenario happened again April 21 without any fanfare, and remember you heard it first here. Chris Burke was traded for himself.  

Apparently, not only do the Padres and Mariners share a spring training facility at Peoria. They also share players.

The Padres sent Burke to the M’s for cash considerations on April 1.

Perhaps it was an April Fools Day joke. The purchase price turned out to be $1.

As the worm, I mean season, turned, the Padres lack of depth almost immediately revealed itself. That, coupled with solid efforts from former Padre Russell Branyan and fellow Rancho Santa Fe resident Mike Sweeney for the M’s, meant Burke suddenly became available for re-trade, sort of like a bottle getting returned for deposit.

So, April 21, Burke was traded back to the Padres for cash considerations. The savvy M’s even turned a profit for their care-taking effort.

Wait for it…Wait for it…Drum roll please…

The Padres paid the M’s $1.25.

That’s correct. In this era of multimillion dollar MLB contracts while many Americans scrimp and starve, after being traded for a dollar, Burke was traded back for $1.25. The M’s turned a fabulous 25 cent profit for their trouble

Kind of makes one wonder about the values available at the dollar store these days. Maybe, a smart shopper can pick up an MLB player, or two, while they’re grabbing bargains.

Weep not for the versatile Burke, however. He made $955,000 last year. Not bad for 86 games and 165 at-bats as a D’back.

Don’t know what Burke is making this year, but that $1.25 purchase price says it all about something, I’m just not quite sure what yet.


Rating the MLB broadcasts

I’m working on a project rating each of the MLB broadcasts and crews. This should be ready sometime soon.

Here is a taste from today’s efforts… 

Seattle — Dave Niehaus, Mike Blowers –  Of course, Niehaus is a Seattle icon and does a great job. Blowers is solid. I like them, but generally don’t watch if alternate broadcasts are available. While they don’t connect with me personally, they’re OK… B-, B if you’re a M’s fan;

Chicago (AL) — “The Hawk” Harrelson, Steve Stone — The Hawk is his own self as everyone knows and the first name in homer broadcasts. However, Hawk also is extremely knowledgeable and the fact is his personality is fantastic. As for Steve Stone, he is the gold standard for color analysts. I truly missed him during his long hiatus following his legendary stint with Harry Caray… B, A if you’re a Sox fan;


Hells Bells, strange day indeed in MLB April 27

Trevor Time returned to the MLB wars today. It was a sight straight out of Hells Bells.

Hoffman looked good on the mound. Even his fastball seemed to have a bit more zip than in the last few years. But the rest of it?

The audio accompaniment was a bit muted when he first entered the game. Bernie Brewer and the crowd appeared  confused as to how to react. The uniform looked out of place as did my fellow Rancho Santa Fe area resident Hoffman in the Brewtown flesh.

Hoffy got the job done, yielding nothing with a large lead. Maybe it will take a few outings to amp up the noise and the ERA. All in all, though, a good start for him. But if you’re talking saves 2009, I much prefer Heath Bell. He’s good, no doubt a Padres all-star along with Adrian Gonzalez.

The Brewers-Pirates game also featured another heaping helping of  strange. During an intentional walk attempt to Ryan Braun, ball four actually came right over the plate, a perfect strike. Braun hesitated, then turned to the umpire who rather sheepishly called the strike a ball. Where is QuesTek when you need it?

In other news of the scary strange, Barry Bonds returned to the Big Show for Giants-Dodgers, even holding an impromptu news conference before the game. He was attending some kind of event and very Bonds-like answered all questions with sneers, double entendres and lame attempts at sarcasm and humor.

Ah, good times.

Meanwhile, for the team that care forgot, the Padres, holding opposing runners to their appointed bases proved far too complicated a task.

The Rockies stole eight — count ‘em, eight — bases in the first five innings as the game degenerated into a Rockies blowout. Dexter Fowler stole five bases by the 4th Inning and appeared to be on his way to an MLB record six, but come on, that would have been too rude for anybody not named Rickey Henderson..

Fowler’s thievery resulted from the cosmic combination of hurler Chris Young’s utter, almost psychotic, disdain for holding runners on base and catcher Nick Hundley’s apparent complete lack of throwing skill. Very ugly, just like the six inches of snow that fell before game time at Denver.

But, some things never change, Hallelujah. Despite going six innings of shutout ball, Barry Zito lost it in the 7th and kept intact his MLB-leading streak of six years without a complete game. Just how did this guy win the 2002 Cy Young award? Rather, who did he know, since Pedro Martinez should have won it.

Cue up the “X-Files” theme and good night, Gracie. Back at you again tomorrow.

Les Expos son las: A 1970 tale of what was baseball Montreal-style recalled

MLB Network’s re-broadcast of old games is very entertaining as well as informative. It’s very interesting watching the past come to life in real time so to speak.

One of the recent encounters recounted was a Sept. 2, 1970 matchup between Les Expos and the Pirates. The game in, and of itself, was fairly mundane. I’m perplexed why MLB Network chose it since it was a routine exercise in which the Expos John Boccabella hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th Inning to win 10-7. Well, Boccabella only hit 24 home runs in his career, but hey now, nothing special throughout.

Yet, the contrasts and similarities from even a routine game seen almost 40 years later yielded a great deal of insight into the overall game and some of its great players.

This was the Expos’ second year, playing at Parc Jarry. Crazy small, Jarry wasn’t much larger than some of the newer AAA parks or spring training stadia.

Hal Kelly and Don Drysdale called the game for CBC TV. Kelly was better known as a hockey announcer, yet did a fine job. Drysdale, who had retired the previous year due to shoulder ailments, was a bit raw, but OK.

Craig Morton v. Bob Moose. Morton had a tremendous 1970, winning 18 games on a last place Expos team that lost 89 games. Moose was part of what manager Danny Murtaugh called his “butcher shop” accompanying fellow hurlers Bob Veale and John Lamb.

The Pirates reached the NLCS that year losing to the pre-Big Red Machine, but the Pirates were the Reds equal, and went to the World Series in 1971 to boot. This team was loaded. Dock Ellis, Mudcat Grant, Steve Blass et al, all well and good, but the lumber, unbelievable. Clemente, Stargell, Oliver, Sanguillen, Robertson, Hebner, Cash, even Mazeroski, Alley, Pagan, and the diminutive Patek.

Kelly told a great story about a brawl the Pirates had the previous year with the Expos. The monster 6-foot, 8-inch super-reliever Dick Radatz was winding up his career with the Expos. During the brawl, Kelly said, he grabbed the 5-foot, 4-inch Patek, lifted him up and said, “I’ll take you on and a player to be named later.”

Being an expansion team, The Expos were much less endowed than the Bucs. They did have Rusty Staub, who, believe it or not, cut a svelte figure. Staub may have put on a few pounds later, but he was thin, quick and, actually, played a tremendous right field, a true 1970 superstar. During this game, he reached over the 4-foot wire-mesh outfield fence to take away a Pirate home run foul ball.

The broadcast was black-and-white, but the television standards weren’t that bad. They used mainly an overall infield-type shot with frequent close shots of the mound, a technique which probably should be used more today, and employed an occasional replay.

The broadcast even miked up Expos manager Gene Mauch — You thought Fox Sports invented this? — and replayed some mound conversations. They had to cut the mike later, however, when Mauch went berserk on a checked swing call that went against the Expos’ Adolfo Phillips, and was ejected. Too much caffeine probably, because the call looked just fine. Interestingly, Phillips violently threw his bat to the ground, but was not ejected. He certainly would be today. As well, the umpires gave the argument much more latitude than the chip-on-their-shoulders crews of today.

Some other oddities compared to today truly stood out in this typical 1970 game. The bats were gigantic compared to today’s models, all the bats. Players went Michael Jackson-style, wearing one glove only while batting, and it was on the top hand. I’m not sure why, because if I were using only one glove, I would put it on the bottom hand. These gloves resembled golf gloves. Staub put on his glove only after he batted to run the bases. Huh?

Other Montreal features included the giant scoreboard with state-of-the-art graphics and an organist who, for some unknown reason, played almost constantly, pausing only while a play was in progress and then immediately resuming. Almost as annoying as the Indian drum guy or the Rays screamer, who, thankfully, seems to have disappeared this season. And let the door slam on your obnoxious butt on the way out, loser. But, I digress.

A few times Kelly started calling Clemente “Bob”, which we all know Clemente hated, but quickly corrected himself, and called him Roberto. Stargell displayed that trademark bat twirl before each pitch. I always loved that as a kid. Hebner and Oliver each looked young and great.

Then, there was the inimitable, rubber-armed Mike Marshall coming in to relieve Morton. Of course, Dr. Marshall went Cy Young with the Dodgers in 1974 and today teaches revolutionary, and controversial, pitching techniques. Kelly had to explain the mysteries of the screwball to oh, Canada, but Marshall threw great, even if he coughed up the lead. Other than maybe John Bateman and Staub, most of the Expos position players were somewhat obscure although Coco LaBoy and Ron Fairly were on the bench. Of the pitching staff, Bill Stoneman, Ken Johnson and Claude Raymond were most notable probably for future generations.

And yet, for all the changes baseball has witnessed in the 40 years since the game, most remarkable was how similar that game was to, say, the Nationals-Mets game yesterday. In fact, this post-steroid period may have returned the game more to its proper balance and roots than we could have imagined for the on-field action in September 1970 seemed virtually indistinguishable from today’s games.

Yes, the players were less bulked up, but the pace, balance and execution were similar to a game played yesterday, today and probably tomorrow. I find that somehow reassuring, comforting and pleasurable. Too bad the Expos, and Montreal, who got screwed in the 1994 player strike and then succumbed, couldn’t be around in 2009 to enjoy this in person.

Watching Padres games on television is a drag

That’s because the Padres have the worst announcing crew in MLB hands-down, with the exception of post-game reporter, and former hurler, Bob Scanlan. Hopefully, someone with an eye for talent will promote Scanlan to the game-time booth although it will have to be outside San Diego, which is afflicted with the incompetence of Cox Cable 4 and its exclusive contract through next year, yet another John Moores era travesty.

Thanks to MLB Extra Innings and MLB.com we are able to experience the entirety of MLB coverage every day now. So, the Padres misannouncers are exposed totally as the worst.

Mark Grant is a joke and not in a ha-ha way, but pathetic beyond belief. He is obnoxious, self-promoting and despite his playing experience remarkably uninformed about baseball. Of course, he tries to cover up with fake baseball rhetoric that anybody remotely familiar with the game instantly recognizes as a sham. Then, there is the business of him constantly yelling about ball and strike calls, beginning usually about one pitch into the game. How tired. Matt Vasgersian, before he left for the MLB Network, always called Grant on this disgusting bit of stupidity, but Matt is gone so no check is in place.

The new guy, Mark Neeley, is very bland and not particularly knowledgeable. He came from many years of Tulsa Triple A experience, which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just that he is uninformed and boring, bringing nothing to the table. His hiring would have been curious except for the utter incompetence and stupidity of Cox 4 management and its GM, forgot his name, so it’s no surprise.

One of the more odious aspects of their coverage involves the self-promotion and homerism of the broadcasts. For example, Saturday, while the Padres-Pirates game was in progress, Cox 4 spent a half inning promoting “Sam, the Cooking Guy” who apparently has a show on their channel. As bad as it was to be confronted with a half inning of nothing to do with baseball, Cox 4 also didn’t believe it prudent to show the on-field action, instead showing only the booth. Nobody is watching the baseball game because they care in the least about Sam and cooking. Thanks for nothing. 

How tired is the Cox 4 product. With so many legitimate issues revolving around the Padres descent into awfulness in order to fatten Moores’ bank account, this crew of morons ignores any intelligent discussion of the situation or anything baseball-related.

San Diego baseball fans thank the lords of baseball for being able to watch the Padres with the ability to turn down the Cox 4 noyze chatter and listen to the opposing announcing crew. Last night, I listened to the Pirates crew who do a great job in a similarly small market. I found Bob Walk’s comments on the Padres quite refreshing.

Walk pointed out how the Padres had been boasting about assembling a pitching staff on the fly this year. (For those not following, the Padres signed two-thirds of their staff from other team castoffs during the last two weeks of spring training). Walk pointed out the BS factor there. What happened to the Padres minor league system that should have been producing that pitching talent to fill the holes just like the real teams, he said.

Exactly. As impartial minor league system ratings, and current on-field Padres product, clearly show, the Padres have one of the worst, if not the worst, minor league system in baseball, Padres management BS notwithstanding. You’ll never hear word boo on this from Cox 4 miscasters.

What’s truly funny — make that despicably disgusting –  is the Cox GM telling the Union Tribune, the announcing and presentation must be OK since nobody complains through e-mails. Usually people complain if they don’t like something, but say nothing if they like the product, he said.

 Are you kidding me???

Nobody complained for two reasons. Number one, the station does not provide e-mail addresses making it extremely difficult to send comments. Number two, nobody complains BECAUSE NOBODY CARES.

The product is so awful and so historically awful — with the exception of Vasgersian who always seemed to be kept under wraps, and Scanlan; I also liked Ted Leitner on TV — THAT NOBODY CARES. So, why complain?

Anyone doubting that I’m telling it like it is need only examine the Padres TV ratings. They’re off the chart miniscule. Anyone else doubting, check out the Padres broadcast on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.com. They’re an embarrassment to San Diego, a very sophisticated and lovely place, and to baseball.

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Sunday addendum:

As if to emphasize all the points I made earlier, Cox 4 had some guy from a show called “Brainwave” that was “immediately following” the game during the second inning. Same old crap, booth pictures, game as afterthought. A half inning wasn’t enough apparently. They held him over to the third inning to talk about whatever brainwaves they failed to kill in the second.

And in an incredibly revealing aside, Neeley, who moved to San Diego this month, said he was from Rancho Bernardo, “the most boring part of San Diego,”

Huh?

A place is what one makes of it. As a 10-year Del Dios-Rancho Santa Fe resident, just across Lake Hodges from Rancho Bernardo, I can state unequivocally Rancho Bernardo is no more boring than anywhere else in the world. Talk about calling the kettle a cup, Neeley’s comment said it all about himself and the Padres broadcasts.

UH-OH HOT DOG; Padres back to losing ways

Looks like the party didn’t make it to May for the Padres who went 9-2 to start the season before losing three games in a row this week.

Front-runner that I am, I’m back off the Padres bandwagon. They’re back on track to that coveted 100-loss season.

Some of it was inevitability somewhat postponed as the boys came out scrapping, stole a few games, caught a few teams flat-footed in the April gloaming.

Lack of depth and heaven forbid talent proved the team’s undoing. It’s always a good sign to win one-run games, which they did for a while, but now they’re losing them with no end in sight.

Jake Peavy and Chris Young have been pitching well, but it’s hard to win with no run support, which has been the case. A few injuries and blown bullpen outings later, the writing is on the Lake Hodges Dam graffiti wall. It’s all over baby beige and blue.

Then again, what did you expect?

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