No big intro tonight…I’m saving my off-topic space for the lower part of the page, so powered by more Grolsch (yes, I shop at Sam’s and like beer in large containers), on to the injuries…

  • I don’t wish harm on anyone, let alone the Yankees. I’ve heard my dad’s tales of Mickey Mantle for more years than I care to count. Still, it’s always fun to get an e-mail from my pal Alex Belth anytime something bad happens to the Bombers. He cries, he bitches, he moans–it’s like having my own private manic depressive in my Inbox, but he’s more entertaining than most people with real mental illnesses. I think there was about a six-second gap between Jason Giambi being hit on the hand by a 90-mph heater and Alex punching out a wailing electronic missive bemoaning the fate of Deodorant Boy. Giambi was hit on the hand by a pitch that wasn’t terribly inside–and where’s QuesTec when you want to see just how far inside a pitch really was?–and while he’s sore and the hand slightly swollen, the X-rays were negative and he reported good progress. Calm down, Yanks fans, he’ll be fine.
  • The Yanks are also missing one of their friendly new Reds refugees. Aaron Boone has a sprained ankle which he turned, embarrassingly, while running out to his position. The ankle is a bit swollen, but he should be back in the lineup by the end of the week. Boone hasn’t set the world on fire in the Bronx, but he’s not Drew Henson either.
  • The Royals are somehow still in the race, despite not having a pitcher that’s worth a crap. All the good ones fell apart, broke down, or otherwise imploded. That the team has scrapped together with spare parts like Kevin Appier or Paul Abbott, leftovers like Jose Lima, Rule 5 guys like Miguel Asencio, and organizational soldiers like Kyle Snyder is testament to Tony Pena and Allard Baird. Still, like anyone on a winning streak, they worry that time is running out and they don’t want to leave their chips on the table when the whole thing starts to turn. It’s turning now, KC. Appier and Runelvys Hernandez are both headed to surgery–Appier for a torn flexor tendon and Hernandez for Tommy John surgery. Neither, obviously, will be back this season and neither, obviously, will factor into the stretch run. Appier could hang them up, while Hernandez will hope that the Royals are still good in 2005.
  • With the Cards getting worked by Mark Prior–why should they be different than any other team–they could have used Edgar Renteria in the lineup. Renteria’s injury has led to one of the greatest paragraphs I’ve ever seen in an AP story: “St. Louis manager Tony La Russa believed Renteria was injured toward the end of Sunday’s victory over the Phillies, perhaps turning a double play. But Weinberg said Renteria felt fine before the back stiffened on him when he was bending over to pick up a bar of soap.” Yeah, make your own joke there. Renteria has made progress and Cards sources expect him to be back in the lineup no later than Thursday with a 50% chance of returning for Kerry Wood‘s start Wednesday.
  • The Rockies knew that Preston Wilson would play hard, and like most players, would play through pain, but according to this Denver Post piece, it goes beyond simple toughness and well into the moron territory. Wilson refuses ice? Refuses to discuss his aches and pains with the medical staff? I’ve never heard anyone suggest that Tom Probst is tough to talk to, so this must just be Wilson. I’ve discussed the macho sports ethic before (to summarize, necessary but idiotic), but this goes beyond that and ventures into contractual territory. A player’s body is the property of a team, and while no team would force something like surgery on a player, in almost all cases, the team has the player’s best interest in consideration. Someone–Clint Hurdle, Dan O’Dowd–needs to sit Wilson down and have a talk with him.
  • With their incredible comeback last night in Philly, the Expos have assured a couple things. First, rampant chugging amongst certain BP Authors, and second, the fact that the Expos are somehow still in the wild card hunt. I’m not sure whom to credit for all this, and I’ll leave that to the analysts. Here on my beat, I know that having Claudio Vargas back in their rotation would help, and he’s started throwing at the Expos Minor League complex in Florida. He could be back for the last couple weeks of the championship season.
  • A bullpen session tomorrow will be final confirmation, but barring setback, Kazuhisa Ishii will be on the bump for the Dodgers on Saturday. Ishii had a good workout Sunday, throwing all his pitches and showing good velocity and command. I don’t see any reason why the knee wouldn’t respond well Wednesday, but stranger things happen all the time. I’ve ceased trying to figure Ishii out.
  • Maybe I’ll get a scoop on Milton Bradley this weekend as I make my first trip to the Jake, but in all likelihood, I won’t get to see him play. Bradley continues to have problems with his lower back, and if things don’t improve quickly, the Indians have made noise about shutting him down. Bradley is an interesting case–a player who had something of a breakout, but someone who could be forced out by a crowded outfield next season, and the economics of a suddenly fiscally conscious franchise. I still see Bradley as Albert Belle Lite, in both the positive and negative senses. On the other hand, I will probably get to see Omar Vizquel play. After months recovering from knee problems, Vizquel will be back in the lineup for the last month, filling in where many thought Brandon Phillips would be entrenched now.
  • The recently re-signed Scott Hatteberg is dealing with chronic lower back pain. Now there’s a sentence you really don’t want to see as an A’s fan. Hatteburg has back spasms from time to time, usually treatable and not serious in the long-term, but this situation hasn’t gone away or even gotten significantly better for any extended period of time. I know many people are at a loss to explain the A’s re-upping the star of Moneyball, but from a medhead standpoint, I can’t help them with that.
  • Like always, some good stuff from the reader e-mail, as Richard Dansky checks in with his report on Billy Koch and his first outing at Triple-A: “I saw Billy Koch throw an inning last night against the Durham Bulls. He topped out around 94 mph, but really didn’t have a lot of movement on anything he threw and got cuffed around. When Jorge Cantu can get around on a Billy Koch fastball and pull it, it’s not because Cantu’s suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Vern Stephens.” Hey readers–quit being funnier than me. Isn’t being smarter enough?
  • Quick Cuts: Richie Sexson for Paul Lo Duca? Huh?…Dontrelle Willis‘ agents say that all the interviews are fatiguing the dynamic rookie. The Marlins were making him unavailable back in June when I hoped to interview him at Wrigley Field, so I don’t buy it…Josh Hamilton has returned to Triple-A Durham and is working out with the team, but he will not be activated nor travel with the team. The Rays still have hopes for him…Russ Branyan began a rehab assignment (and the Bats can use him), but should be back in Cincy by the weekend. He doesn’t look comfortable out there yet.

Like many, I’m addicted to Madden 2004. My game last year was NCAA Football 2003, and Lee Sinins and I had many the interesting discussion about recruiting formulas and Otto The Orange. This year, I’ve “gone pro” and the Gamecube is on nearly all the time that I’m not working or sleeping (so about two hours a day). Still, I got to thinking about how me, a serious baseball guy, can get so into a football video game. From what I can tell, it’s the nature of the game.

Football requires no commitment, and most of the drama is contained in-game. For baseball, it requires not only a season to see all the subtleties and actions, it often takes much longer than that to really understand it. Football has a ‘single play’ mentality that plays well on TV, something baseball will never have, despite the best efforts of ESPN. The best football games have things like Tecmo Bo, helmets popping off, and taunting dances by even the mildest of players (I mean, Marvin Harrison doing any sort of dancing is about as ludicrous as David Wells subbing in for Ron Jeremy…wait, that’s one disturbing mental picture. I apologize for that). Baseball games are, at best, all numbers and little if any graphics–Diamond Mind, Scoresheet, and Strat come to mind when I think of baseball games, not whatever EA or Sega puts out. It’s a very different game that makes for very different games. Like anything, it’s a matter of personal taste and style. If I can just figure out the tricks of the owner controls…

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