Thursday, April 19, 2007

Baseball Immortality!

I am not sure where the line is, but there is a line in the sand somewhere in a baseball game when your team is being “no-hit”. It may be the eighth, it may be the seventh, but at some point, you realize your team has nothing and is behind 6 runs.

Then, it seems, baseball rules allow you to sacrifice your team’s fate in a Wednesday night in April to see baseball history. At least that is how I feel. I like the Rangers. I want them to win. But I also understand how rare a no-hitter is. So if you are asking me whether I was hoping Gerald Laird would get a hit in the ninth last night, I cannot tell a lie….I was rooting against him.

It is so rare. And if you are a stronger fan than I am and were hanging in there with your Rangers, I congratulate your loyalty. But, last night was the only game of its kind in the 180,000 game history of baseball…Read below for details.

Evan Grant Reports

One by one, just as they had methodically marched to the plate and back to the dugout all game, the Rangers shuffled towards the shower room inside US Cellular Field.

Most bypassed dinner for a little body-reviving steam. But try as they might, they simply couldn't wash the stain off themselves. For the first time in more than 20 years, the Rangers, proud swingers of big bats, had to live with the stigma of being no-hit.

Chicago's Mark Buehrle did it to them, bending cut fastballs around the farthest boundaries of home plate on a chilly, breezy night when hitting was not much fun, but making lots of outs was even less so. The final score: Chicago 6, Rangers 0. The
score didn't matter nearly as much as the accomplishment.

"You get mad," said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who flied out to center twice and hit the last semi-difficult ball of the night, a grounder to short in the seventh inning. "And then you get embarrassed. But for our side, it's just one game. Nobody wants to be no-hit, but you've got to put it behind you and move on."

Said shortstop Michael Young, whose 0-for-3 night stretched his hitless streak to 16 at-bats, the longest in more than two years: "As hard as it is to swallow, some times you just have to say a guy threw a great game and move on."

The Rangers haven't had to respond to such questions since California's Mike Witt threw a perfect game at them on the final day of the 1984 season. Among AL teams, only Kansas City had gone longer than the Rangers without being no-hit. The pesky Royals haven't had the trick turned on them since 1973.

But on Wednesday, it was pretty evident early on that Buehrle had the kind of stuff to make an opponent look silly. He allowed only one baserunner and needed just 106 pitches to complete the no-hitter.

He threw two types of cut fastballs, one that rode in on the hands of the Rangers' right-handed hitters and another that toyed with being too far inside, before darting into catcher A.J. Pierzynski's glove for a strike.

As a result the Rangers either hit the ball weakly off the bottom of the bat, missed
entirely or watched as home plate umpire Eric Cooper called a third strike. Buehrle got 19 of his 27 outs on strikeouts (eight of them) or ground balls. He also got one key out by picking Sammy Sosa off first base after a fifth-inning walk. Sosa was the only Ranger to reach base.

"He's the best I've ever seen him and we've faced him when he's had really good stuff," said Mark Teixeira, who struck out twice and grounded to second despite a .400 (10-for-25) average against Buehrle entering the game. "You never think a guy has 'no-hit' stuff because you always think somebody will get him or he'll make a mistake. He didn't make a mistake. "When he threw the cutter inside, you couldn't keep it fair and when he threw the backdoor cutter, it just froze you."

Buehrle is a fast worker who made fast work of the Rangers. The game took only 2:03. Buehrle didn't need much help from his defense for the final 90 or so minutes.

Elias Says

• There have been more than 180,000 games played in major league history, but Wednesday's Rangers-White Sox game stands unique among them. It was the first game in major league history in which one player (Mark Buehrle) threw a no-hitter, another (Jermaine Dye) hit a grand-slam home run, and a third (Jim Thome) had a multiple-homer game.

• Mark Buehrle faced the minimum 27 batters in his no-hitter against the Rangers.
All that stood between him and a perfect game was a fifth-inning walk to Sammy Sosa -- whom Buehrle promptly picked off.
The last two big-leaguers to throw non-perfect-game no-hitters in which they faced the minimum 27 batters were Terry Mulholland and Sandy Koufax. In 1990, Mulholland, pitching for the Phillies against the Giants, allowed only one baserunner (who reached on a Charlie Hayes error; the next batter hit into a double play); back in 1964, Koufax threw a no-no against the Phillies in which he walked rookie Richie Allen, who was then caught stealing.

• Buehrle, long one of the majors' fastest workers, completed his no-hitter in just two hours and three minutes. It was the fastest no-hitter since 1988, when Tom Browning threw a perfect game for the Reds against the Dodgers in one hour, 51 minutes.

• Buehrle's mound opponent on Wednesday night, Kevin Millwood of the Rangers, threw a no-hitter five years ago this month. Only two other no-hitters over the past 30 years came in games

Wiki on the rare No-No

No-hitters have become rarer than ever. Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter on September 6, 2006 ended a 2 1/2 year stretch without one, the longest stretch between no-hitters in seventy years [1] and the longest number of games played (6,364) between no-hitters in Major League history.[2] The number of no-hitters pitched since the early 1990s has decreased due to the increasing rarity of a starting pitcher completing a game, based on restrictions to his pitch count (which nowadays averages about 100 per quality start). Since 100 pitches are usually thrown by the sixth or seventh inning of most games, the starting pitcher is typically removed from the game, even if he is pitching well. There have, however, been a number of combined no-hitters, utilizing multiple pitchers. Generally however, managers will allow the pitcher working on a no-hitter to stay in the game because even some of the greatest pitchers in history have never had a chance at a no-hitter.

7 A.L. No hitters since Kenny Rogers’ perfecto in 1994

Kenny Rogers 07-28-1994
Texas 4 vs California 0

Dwight Gooden 05-14-1996
New York 2 vs Seattle 0

David Wells 05-17-1998
New York 4 vs Minnesota 0

David Cone 07-18-1999
New York 6 vs Montreal 0

Eric Milton 09-11-1999
Minnesota 7 vs Anaheim 0

Hideo Nomo 04-04-2001
Boston 3 at Baltimore 0

Derek Lowe 04-27-2002
Boston 10 vs Tampa Bay 0

Meanwhile, in golf news, Will the Stars be clogging up the area links Saturday? OR, will they be preparing for a home game in Game 6? …I wish I still believed…

Down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Stars face first-round elimination for the third consecutive season tonight in Vancouver. And Morrow said one reason is because the team hasn't been emotionally or physically strong enough. He used phrases such as "nervous," "scared" and "playing not to lose." He said this team is a different team with a different dynamic than the ones that went out in five games the two previous seasons, but he acknowledged the team understands the history of playoff failure that is building.

"We're probably more frustrated than the fans are," Morrow said. "We're the ones that go through it day in and day out ... 82 games, the hard work, the injuries, all the adversities. It's been a long road to get here. Our effort has been OK. It hasn't been good enough. It's been frustrating."

Stars coach Dave Tippett disagreed with Morrow's terminology that the team is playing scared but said the team can't be afraid of the pressure of the playoffs.
"Embrace the situation and play," Tippett said. "This is why you play the game – the bigger the moment, the better the reward. Just jump out there and play, and do what you do."

Tippett said Morrow is a great example for his teammates.

"The playoffs is about getting out of your skin, and Brenden does that," Tippett said. "If you watch his will in the game, he does it. But we need more players like that to step out and do things that are extra from what they normally do.

"There's an internal fortitude that has to be there. You watch Brenden, and he's playing all out. We need guys to jump on his back a little bit."

Morrow said the skill players might be a good place to start. He said players such as Jeff Halpern, Stu Barnes and Joel Lundqvist have stepped up the scoring pace, and now it's time for others to add a much-needed goal or two.

"Those are guys who are willing to pay the price and get into the dirty areas and get rewarded for it," Morrow said. "Our skill guys – Ribsy [Mike Ribeiro] was real close last night – they're not quite getting there. There's not enough space out there for them. The skill needs to be a little harder."

Morrow paused for a second and added, "I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone. It's all of us. There's a lot of skill on this team. It just needs to be harder."

Lindros in the mix tonight

Stars forward Jussi Jokinen, who had been essentially a non-factor in the playoffs, did not make the trip to Vancouver for Thursday's Game 5. He suffered the dreaded "upper-body injury" early in Game 4.

If you're wondering who might replace him in the lineup, rookie Krys Barch would be a good bet. Barch practiced Wednesday on a line with Steve Ott and Antti Miettinen. While Barch has been listed as having (yes, you guessed it) an upper-body injury, coach Dave Tippett said Barch "was healthy enough." And while Barch played the tough-guy role in the regular season, he also showed the ability to check and bring energy to the lineup.

Oh, and some guy named Eric Lindros is on the team flight to Vancouver.
Snicker if you will, but Lindros might be a factor if he's recovered from his problematic groin injury. He had a goal, an assist and is plus-1 in two games this season against Vancouver.

Right now, the Stars will take offense anywhere they can find it. Of course, LIndros last netted a goal Nov. 20 against Colorado.

Dallas vs. Golden State

Game 1 - Sun April 22 Golden State at Dallas 8:30PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 25 Golden State at Dallas 8:30PM TNT
Game 3 - Fri April 27 Dallas at Golden State 9:30PM ESPN
Game 4 - Sun April 29 Dallas at Golden State 9:00PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue May 1 Golden State at Dallas TBD
Game 6 * Thu May 3 Dallas at Golden State TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 5 Golden State at Dallas TNT

Bring on Golden State

The Mavs begin the postseason with home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and the knowledge they won't have to face both San Antonio and Phoenix on the road to the Finals.

But the West Finals, should the Mavs return, are still two rounds away. They'll begin the playoffs with a best-of-seven series against West No. 8 seed Golden State.
"If we make it out of the first round, which we all hope, Houston or Utah are both good matchups," Dirk Nowitzki said. "We know how good defensively both teams are. Facing possibly Houston with their two stars in the playoffs is tough. Utah has so many good all-around players.

"There's nothing easy in the playoffs. That's how I look at it. Ultimately, if you want to be the best, if you want to win a championship, you have to go through the best."

The Mavs have proven to be the best in the regular season, but that guarantees nothing over the next two months. But they don't need a reminder.

The team didn't acknowledge clinching the Southwest Division and hardly mentioned locking up the league's best record, although the home-court aspect wasn't ignored.
In the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, the Mavs have only one thing left to prove.

"God forbid we don't win a championship, then obviously we're in line to be the Buffalo Bills of basketball," Jerry Stackhouse said. "There's a lot of story lines that are waiting to be written."

I’m not scared, but this emailer is:

I’m a Mavs fan who is afraid the Mavs may get Upset….
Have we upset the Basketball gods?
Has Laura Miller open her mouth about parade routes?

Nelly’s Golden State Warriors are playing the Mavs in the 1st ROUND?
Are you FREAKING killing ME?!!!!
This smells of the equivalent of UTAH JAZZ getting beat by the Mavs when the Mavs made it back to the playoffs for the 1st time and won with Nelly.
Let the mad 3 point bombs the Warriors are going to drop on us begin…
Don’t get me wrong… I’m a Mavs homer and WANT THEM TO WIN… but something doesn’t

Feel Right.
Be Afraid… Be very Afraid…
All of Dallas will need Therapy….
We’re still suffering from the Romo dropped snap.
Dallas lets just get past this round and not upset the basketball gods more.
Best Regards and Bad Radio Rocks.

Mike Leach rejoices!

Last season, the NCAA wanted to speed up football games. Next season, it wants more plays. On Thursday, the rules oversight panel approved two major timing changes that would revert the rules to what they were in 2005 -- stopping the clock on possession changes and not starting it on kickoffs until the receiving team touches the ball.
Some coaches complained the 2006 changes, which resulted in about 14 fewer plays per game in Division I-A, had altered the game too much. Others said it prevented teams from rallying late in games.

In February, the football rules committee recommended going to back to the old system. After meeting with the American Football Coaches Association in March, the oversight panel agreed. Grant Teaff, executive director of the AFCA, was overjoyed with the changes.

''It made me uncomfortable to watch it last year,'' Teaff said. ''It put a different slant on everything, and it almost seemed to put everything in reverse. If you, as an offense, don't have the right or opportunity to manage the clock, it's not a good rule.''

Last year's rules changes reduced game times by an average of about 14 minutes, meeting a goal the committee had set.

On the field, though, there were problems. Trailing teams often sprinted onto the field after a punt, kickoff or turnover late in games to preserve precious time, while teams holding the lead delayed getting onto the field because they could use 25 seconds without running a play.

Another problem occurred on kickoffs. Since the clock started when the kicker touched the ball, some teams intentionally ran offsides to expend more time.
''I don't think that's what the committee really intended,'' said Ty Halpin, a spokesman for the oversight panel. ''That's a rule the committee regretted making.''
While, this year's changes likely mean games will again be longer, the panel approved several other measures intended to help keep them closer to 3 hours than 3 1/2.

Kickoffs will be made from the 30-yard line, like in the NFL, instead of the 35. That, Halpin said, should ensure more returns and shorter stoppages.

''It should create more opportunities for what the committee feels is one of the most exciting plays in a game, and we're not really sure, but it may increase scoring, too,'' he said.

After media timeouts during televised games, teams will have less time to run plays. Previously, teams had a 25-second play clock; now it will be 15 seconds. Halpin said it could prevent the long stoppages when teams are merely simply trying to save time.
One of the most time-consuming procedures, replay reviews, will not change. The football rules committee withdrew its proposal to impose a 2-minute limit, in part, because of the potential for technical difficulties.

The committee will also begin considering a play clock that alternates between 40 seconds and 25 seconds, depending on whether the clock has stopped. The NFL uses that system, and the committee thinks it could speed up games.

The Office - Shunned

Anchorman recut


Brad said...

I'm shunning the Stars.

I will remind everyone to be patient with Avery. It might take 6 to figure this thing out, but it'll be ok.

Nellie has a bag.

Brad C said...

We SHOULD be afraid.

Golden State is playing like a team possessed.

Dallas is 1-7 in their last eight against them. Don't worry about that.

G.S. only lost one game in April, blowing most teams out by 15-20 pts. Don't worry about that either.

G.S. has no pressure, nothing to lose. Dallas is Finals victory or bust.

If Golden State beats the Mavs in the first round after having one of the best records in NBA history AND after choking away the Finals last year, they will be labeled as the biggest chokers in NBA history and since the voting will already be done Dirk will probably be awarded the MVP to boot. How embarrassing. But don't let that concern you because hey THIS IS THE PLAYOFFS RIGHT??? Magic gear ACTIVATE!!

Don't get me wrong, the Mavs should beat the Warriors and probably will, but the attitude that Avery and the media have like they can play whoever in the first round and it's a foregone conclusion that they'll handle them is just smacks of when they lost the first game to Miami in the Finals last year and everyone was like, hey, we're the MAVS, like they're going to win 3 out of four. Guess what.

If this all goes wrong, let's all remember they could have put this all behind them with a win at Golden State on April 17th. But they chose to snub their nose at the very thought. Yeah I know the Clippers lost last night but what did they have to play for? Golden State was up 20 before their game even started.

That trade this year energized that Golden State team and they are different. Golden State is not a better team than Dallas and they shouldn't win, but neither was Miami. Yeah, but this is the playoffs right? So were the Finals last year. Stuff happens.

RJ Peters said...

Re: no-hitters

I grew up a Dodgers fan and I was in the stadium when Dennis Martinez threw his perfect game. There was no doubt that I was cheering for El Presidente to get it done. There have been less than 25 or so perfect games, I believe. And I was there for one. A random Dodgers loss can't compare to that.

As for the Warriors, I'm a little worried. If this was a 5-game series, I'd say we had the possibility for another Mutombo Nuggets over Sonics

Phil K. said...

Does everyone need a reminder about what wins Championships? Grind-it-out defensive plays, domination in the paint, rebounds, passing, free-throw shooting and running the game at your pace.

I can only see maybe one game getting away from these Mavs and that's if and when the Warriors shoot lights out. They won't shoot lights-out every game. And, as soon as they don't, we'll be in their heads.

Why the hell does everyone hit the panic button and lose their minds. Have you all forgotten what kind of transformation we've seen from these Mavs in the last five years. Rome wasn't built in a day and GS isn't going to start building by beating the biggest bully on the block in the 1st round. Now, come on!

Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

I agree. If Golden State is so tough and amazing, why did they barely make the playoffs?
As long as the Mavs don't look past them, there's no way they are beating them in 7. The Mavs need to take care of business at home and put a choke hold on the series.

As for the no-no, I'm so cynical. I had to root for the Rangers. Why can't I enjoy the game???

As for the Stars, well, there aren't really words. We'll see tomorrow...