April 1, 2003

My Lucky Day

Some days, you just need to a catch a break.

I was up until 4 am yesterday working on a paper that I had due at noon. I finally got it finished, got about 4 hours of sleep and had to wake up and go to class until 4 pm. Sleep really is important. I didn't get any of it and I have to say that I have never struggled so much to get through a day of classes in my entire life. I had absolutely zero attention span, my body wanted to take a nap at all times and I was just basically in a crappy mood all day long.

I finally got done with classes and then I had to wait a half hour for the 2 different buses that take me back to my dorm. I finally get myself upstairs and back into my room. I'm tired and hungry and just sick of doing "stuff." What do I immediately think of doing? Watching baseball, of course. So I check out the TV schedule for the night and guess what? Not a single baseball game on TV today. I damn near jumped out the window.

What was on TV was the Gophers NIT semi-final game with Georgetown, which I decided would suffice. I watched about 30 minutes of it and quickly realized why I had grown so sick of this team throughout the season. They play sloppy offense and no defense. They are extremely tall, but don't rebound. They have some very skilled individuals, but absolutely no teamwork. And they were getting spanked by Georgetown.

I quickly decided that I would rather take a nap than watch any more of the 2003 Minnesota Gophers basketball season, so I did. I slept until about 9 o'clock and then woke up. What did I think of right away? That I really wanted to watch a baseball game. Sadly, I remembered that no baseball games were on TV here, but I suddenly remembered that last year, at the beginning of the season, cable subscribers (which is what I am at the dorm - I have DirecTV and the baseball "package" at home) were given a "free preview" of the MLB Extra Innings package.

I've never found a TV remote quicker than I did at about 9:15 last night. I turned on the TV and frantically searched through the channels. 10...50...100...200...300...400...it wasn't looking good. Then - BOOM - channel 867: "MLB BASEBALL - Seattle Mariners at Oakland A's." 7 words never looked so good.

I usually "post" the day's entry at about 12:05 am (just after midnight, which is as soon as the "day" changes). Today is no different, which means I just finished watching the A's put a whuppin' on the M's.

I also watched some of the Red Sox finally defeating the Devil Rays after 16 innings (Channel 869), the Angels beating the Rangers for their first win of 2003 (Channel 868), and the Diamondbacks scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th to win one against the Dodgers (Channel 870).

Some notes from my wonderful (and much needed) evening of baseball...

I would say Erubiel Durazo has officially arrived in Oakland and people can probably see now why so many "statheads" have been clamoring for him to get a full-time gig for so long. Durazo smacked a 2-run homer off Freddy Garcia in the 2nd inning and then hit a bases loaded double off the top of the wall in left-center in the 5th inning, scoring 3 more runs and giving him 5 runs batted in on the night (Oakland won 5-0).

I made some miscellaneous predictions for individual players on Monday and here is what I said about Durazo:

"Erubiel Durazo will have a monster year in Oakland - think .270/.400/.540 with 30 homers and 100 RBI."

In 20 years, when people look back on Durazo's career numbers, the first thing they are going to ask is, "Why in the world didn't he get a full-time job until he was 29 years old." A 40 year old Aaron Gleeman (hopefully one with a job and a supermodel for a wife) will quickly answer, "Because no one would listen to me back then either!"

Freddy Garcia continues to just "not look right." He had a poor year last season, giving up 30 homers and posting a 4.39. At times he looked like Freddy Garcia, but more often than not, he just didn't look right. He was a member of my Diamond-Mind keeper team throughout last year, so I followed him closely. He pitched like "normal" throughout the 1st half (11-5 with a 3.44 ERA) and then just completely fell apart in the 2nd (5-5 with a 5.66 ERA). His K rate went down, his walk rate went up and he served up 13 homers in only 95 innings - and batters hit .304 off him, which should never happen.

It was more of the same last night. Erubiel and the A's got him for 8 hits and 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings and worked him for 96 pitches. He wasn't making anyone miss, his control wasn't great and he was giving up some hard hits (mostly to Durazo). I traded Garcia this off-season because I just felt like something was wrong him, either physically or mechanically or something. Last night's performance certainly didn't change my mind.

On the other hand, Oakland starter Tim Hudson looked great. His offense gave him a couple of runs to work with early and he pitched like a guy with the lead - making people put the ball in play and keeping his pitch count low. Hudson gave up only 5 hits (and no runs) in 8 innings of work and 3 of them were to Randy Winn! He walked 2, struck out 4 and, most importantly for him, got 16 ground ball outs.

Last night was a perfect example of why I am picking the A's to win 100+ and the AL West division. 3 out of every 5 days, they have a guy on the mound that is probably going to pitch 7+ innings and limit to opposing team to less than 3 runs. And I think the A's offense, with the addition of Durazo and presence of Tejada, Chavez and a healthy Dye, will be able to score enough runs to consistently win.

It was kind of fun watching the Devil Rays play well against the Red Sox and stretch them to the max before finally losing it in the 16th inning. At the same time, I felt sort of bad for the Red Sox, just because I am pretty sure this isn't quite how Theo and the boys expected things to start this season and I want them to be successful. They'll be okay in the long run, I am not worried. Having a couple of tough games against the D-Rays to start the season isn't the end of the world, because, as the great Sidney Deane once said, "Even the sun shines on a dog's ass sometimes."

The Red Sox came about an inch from scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 15th, but Rocco Baldelli threw a laser from center field and cut down Trot Nixon at the plate. I thought Nixon got his foot under the tag, but it was close enough that it could have gone either way. I had heard reports that Baldelli was an impressive fielder and he certainly showed that his arm is for real last night. He also showed his incredible speed and got 3 infield hits!

Then, in the top of the 16th, Kevin Millar (pinch-hitting for Damian Jackson, who had pinch-run for Manny Ramirez) went deep to give the Sox a 9-8 lead. I guess this is why they spent like 3 months trying to get him, huh?

You gotta love this part of a boxscore:

Pitcher      IP    PIT

Wakefield 5.0 92
Timlin 2.0 32
Howry 0.1 19
Mendoza 1.2 28
Embree 1.0 16
Woodard 3.0 58
Lyon 3.0 34

Okay, everybody out of the bullpen!

In the Arizona/LA game, Mark Grace entered as a defensively replacement in the top of the 10th inning and then doubled with 1 out in the bottom of the 10th to start the game-winning rally. After Grace hit the double, the following exchange took place:

Thom Brenneman (play-by-play guy): You know what Gracie just did?

Steve Lyons (color guy): Hit his millionth double?

Thom Brenneman: Mark Grace just passed Babe Ruth on the doubles list with his 507th career double!

I don't know why exactly, but there was just something cool about a guy leading off the 10th inning with a double and passing Babe Ruth on the all-time list. Say what you want about the quality of Mark Grace's career, but the man has hit a ton of doubles.

Today's picks:

Philadelphia (Wolf) -120 over Florida (Pavano)

Chicago (Clement) +120 over New York (Leiter)

Los Angeles (Brown) -120 over Arizona (Dessens)

New York (Mussina) -140 over Toronto (Hendrickson)

Total to date: - $265

W/L record: 3-5 (Lost all 3 yesterday, but luckily they were all underdogs, so it only cost me $100 (pretend) dollars per).

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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