Clemens' embarrassing antics, the key to Texas' rise and more (cont.)
I'll huff, and I'll puff ... and I'll show you up
Aubrey Huff is my new hero after mocking talented-yet-immature Yankee Joba Chamberlain with a couple fist pumps to celebrate a homer Sunday. Someone needs to tell Joba to tone it down. I'm not sure this will work. But hey, it's a start.
Casey Blake apparently did the same to Giants closer Brian Wilson, though it was done more subtly than Huff. (I watched that Blake homer live on TV and didn't even notice the crossed-arms gesture.) However, it was clear to Wilson, who appeared distraught in the Giants' clubhouse afterward. Apparently his celebratory gesture was a way to commemorate his late father. Not that Blake could have possibly known, however.
Jonathan Papelbon should be the next target of hitters. Paps' celebrations are downright nutso. His gyrations after getting out of a recent Rays jam were much greater than when he closed out the World Series two years ago. If Huff tries to mock that one, he'll wind up on the disabled list.
In any case, it's better to confine this sort of on-field celebration to something worth celebrating. A strikeout or two certainly doesn't qualify.
Lucky 13: My center-field list
Curtis Granderson and Torii Hunter made game-saving, over-the-wall catches in the past few days, but I'll take Granderson's since it prevented a loss, whereas Hunter's merely prevented a tie. There are some pretty good all-around center fielders playing now. Here's my list of the best:
1. Carlos Beltran, Mets: Could be MVP, though Albert Pujols remains a hurdle.
Around the majors
The Dodgers already don't look the same without Manny Ramirez. Psychologically, it's got be a blow.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was severely disappointed by Ramirez's 50-game suspension, but he was said to have accepted the news better than anyone expected. McCourt didn't try to challenge baseball's findings. By all accounts, he handled it with grace. No kidding.
It took Ramirez three days to apologize to McCourt, and it appears his embarrassment is such that he is reticent to talk to his team (though the Los Angeles Times reports that Manny is planning to meet up with his teammates this weekend in Miami, where he lives). His date in front of a TV camera appears a long way off, as well, though eventually it would be preferable for him to speak publicly about it.
Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin showed what kind of class act he is by managing two days with the news that he was about to be fired, and GM Josh Byrnes has credited Melvin for his grace under fire. The reason Melvin knew ahead of time is that Byrnes felt the need to be honest once news reports started to leak. Just a couple honest, classy guys. Too bad it wasn't working.
A couple D-backs executives were batting around possible replacements several days ago -- Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell and their own well-regarded minor league manager Brett Butler were two names tossed around -- when someone asked A.J. Hinch, "Would you ever like to manage?" When Hinch replied, "Heck yeah!" the replacement was found. (Side note: the D-backs are 1-4 since Hinch's hiring.)
Who slipped more quickly in power and production, Marcus Giles or brother Brian? Marcus has disappeared. Brian hit 149 home runs from 1999-2002, and has hit 98 in the six-plus seasons since. This year he is hitting .158 with one home run in 120 at-bats. I've seen speculation he could be traded this summer. But he's going to have to do a lot better for anyone to take his $9 million salary.
Frank Catalanotto going to the Brewers made sense from the moment the Rangers released him. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has always been a Cat man.
Ryan Zimmerman ... simply amazing. For the record, games Nos. 56 and 57 are June 10 and 11 versus Cincinnati. Seeing as the Nats are expected to take ultra-hyped hurler Stephen Strasburg with the first pick of the MLB draft on June 9, that has the potential to be quite a week for the downtrodden franchise (let's not get ahead of ourselves with Zimmerman, though).
Marlins prospect Cameron Maybin had his moments before being sent down but still looked like he might be a year away.
The Mets look nervous whenever Johan Santana pitches, like they're not going to live up to his standards. And they often don't. Crazy that they're 4-3 in his starts with his 0.78 ERA.
Credit Derek Jeter for accepting the leadoff spot and Joe Girardi (yes, Girardi deserves credit) for thinking of the idea, but Johnny Damon (9 HR, 25 RBIs, .320 batting average) has looked even better as a No. 2 hitter than he did at leadoff. Without his hitting heroics, who knows where the Yankees would be?
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