Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wherever We Go We Bring The Monkey With Us

Having Fun Yet?

I guess there’s nothing really to add about the Astros from what I wrote in Tuesday’s column. They are playing horrific baseball and even at their best they would probably still have lost series to the White Sox and Tigers. At least they won a game. The first place Cardinals couldn’t do it when they ran that gauntlet. I still can’t figure out why the team didn’t put Morgan Ensberg on the DL. Before Roger’s first start Morgan was talking about how he couldn’t make two strong throws in the same inning because of his shoulder. To me that sounds like DL-talk. But Phil’s solution was to keep running him out there to make bad throws and have even worse at-bats. Chris Burke is on fire and what’s Phil’s solution? Take him out of the 3-spot he’s tearing it up in and stick him in the 5-hole? Hopefully that was only a two-game experiment gone horribly wrong. Last season every odd, baffling decision Phil made worked out. This year, not so much.

--Morgan Ensberg in April- .329. May- .216. June- .151.
Brad Ausmus in April- .339. May- .270. June- .149.
There’s still a day left, but let’s wrap up the June good and bad for the ‘Stros…Let’s start with the good and that would be Lance Berkman who hit .352 with 8 HRs and 25 RBIs. He had 31 hits, which is same amount Lane, Ensberg and Ausmus combined for. Chris Burke hit .331 while Preston Wilson checked in at .319. Mike Lamb was solid at .298. The only pitchers whose ERAs were under 3.00 for the month were Roger Clemens and somehow both Trever Miller and Dan Wheeler. Fernando Nieve, Chris Sampson and Roy Oswalt were under 4.00. Everyone else 4.61 and above. Ugly. Wandy Rodriguez was 2-3 with a team-high 6.43 ERA. How’d he win 2?

--Elsewhere in June with two days to go…Joe Mauer is hitting .456. That’s good. Ichiro is hitting .415. Jason Giambi and David Wright each hit 10 HRs. Wright also leads MLB with 29 RBIs. On the pitching side Johan Santana went 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA. He gave up 5 runs and walked 5 guys. He’s good. Somehow, some way Kansas City’s Mark Redman also won 5 games to lead the bigs. He had 5 wins in June to go along with 8 whole strikeouts.

--Jason Lane has been horrible, but what the heck happened to Washington’s Jose Guillen? He’s at .207.

--On Wednesday the AL East beat the NL East 6 games to 0. Ouch.

--The only single-A manager anyone knows, Crazy Joe Mikulik, is likely to face more promotional nights like these on the road. On September 3rd when his team visits Augusta it’ll be “Anger Management Night.” Fans will get “stress balls” and also take part in a base-throwing contest.

--Twins catcher Joe Mauer is hitting .392 and apparently dating 2005 Miss USA Chelsea Cooley.

--Nationals reliever Mike Stanton made his 1,070th appearance the other night tying him for 4th on the all-time list with Hoyt Wilhelm. Jesse Orosco, John Franco and Dennis Eckersley are the only ones with more apps.

That'll Work

As soon as Roy and Foye went I wasn’t too excited to hear what the Rockets were going to do. I’m not a big Gay guy so I didn’t want to go that route. Then word started leaking that it was going to be Rudy Gay and the Rockets were going to send him to the Grizzlies for Shane Battier. Not only that, but Stromile the Lionheart was going back to Memphis as well. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I saw a ton of Rudy Gay last year and the guy was a no-show many a game. I mean if he’s the best player on the best team then I’m sorry it shouldn’t be losing to George Mason or struggling with Albany. Yeah, he’s very gifted, but I’m not sure if he’ll ever make the most of those gifts because his motor and heart were his biggest question marks. That’s not good. The move signals that the Rockets are going for it right now and how can you not like that? Shane Battier’s numbers across the board from points to steals were better than Bruce Bowen’s last season. Who wouldn’t want to add that to their team? Apparently he’s good enough to be one of just 23 players selected to play for Team USA, that’s pretty strong. Battier does what no other Rocket apparently can, he hits open shots. Yeah, if Tracy goes down the team will be hurting for scoring, but look, if Tracy goes down for an extended amount of time the Rockets aren’t going anywhere no matter what. I was also very happy the boys landed Steve Novak in the 2nd round. A 6’10” guy who can shoot? Fan-tastic. I know a lot of fans are upset, but I’m telling you June 28th was a good night for this franchise. Gay has a lot of upside, but I’ll take the solid known you are getting Battier over the upside of a guy who disappears more often than Criss Angel. Now go get Mike James!

--Let’s delve a little deeper into what Shane Battier brings to the Rockets. First off the guy has played at least 78 games in each of his five seasons. Coming to the M.A.S.H. unit known as the Rockets that sounds good. Last season he shot 49% from the field and 39% from the arc. He fills up a stat sheet and does the things that don’t appear in the final box. Oh yeah, he’s also a class act and was the heart and soul of the Grizzlies. Who exactly is the heart and soul of the Rockets?
Let’s jump to to learn more about the former Dukie…His favorite movies?
Big Lebowski and Old School. Anyone want to argue the merits of those flicks? Little surprised he didn’t go with Shane though. If he could have any pet it would be a tiger. What do you think Gay would pick? Favorite subject in school? History. Favorite TV shows? Simpsons and Jeopardy. Funny and smart. Favorite sport to watch? Football. In three words or less what was he like as a kid? Sports, sports, Nintendo. Favorite book? Lonesome Dove. And if he wasn’t a basketball player he’d be a teacher. What’s not to like?

--How ridiculous is it that this trade can’t be officially announced until next month? The NBA needs to fix some things on draft day. Why not let the teams that deal actually make the pick instead of this let the other team make the selection for it stuff? Makes no sense. Also there are five minutes in between picks, but ESPN is running all these interviews and meaningless crap that you might as well just let ESPN announce the picks and not David Stern.

--One of the most important nights for the league was draft night. So where was Knicks owner James Dolan? In a war room with Isiah? At the draft itself? No, he was with his band singing the blues in Atlantic City. Yeah, that’s about right. About as right as Isiah picking some guy named Renaldo Balkman. There were 133 players featured in the NBA’s draft guide and yet Balkman was not one of them. Shocking, absolutely shocking.

Quick Hitters and Random Thoughts

--Best news of the week…The Raconteurs are beginning the second leg of their U.S. tour right here in Houston on September 14th. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about it until tickets had been on sale for a week, but oh well, bad tickets are still tickets.

--A.J. will make $100,000 for each of the final eight episodes of The Sopranos. I understand Meadow getting paid, but c’mon A.J. couldn’t even take out that mummy Junior. The worst part of the Sopranos season finale was seeing A.J. go from a punk, spoiled kid to a working man with a steady girlfriend who has a little one of her own all in the span of one episode. Whatever.

--We’ll get The Killers new one in mid-September. It means nothing now, but some of the titles are “Why Do I Keep Counting,” “Bones,” “When You Were Young,” “Uncle Johnny Took Cocaine,” “Sam’s Town,” “ Read My Mind” and “Bling.”

--You know I tend to rip on Tennessee a lot and maybe it’s not really fair. Let me show you that not everyone from there is a ‘neck with this nice prom picture from the great state of Tennessee.

--If you haven’t seen the Spider-Man 3 trailer here ya go….

--Tommy Lee kicked Josh Duhamel’s (Las Vegas and Fergie’s man) bee-hind?!

--Apparently the next Ultimate Fighter installment will be termed “Comeback” as it’ll have 16 UFC veterans. Instead of a $100,000 contract the winners will automatically get a title shot. Sounds promising. It just started filming and will begin airing on August 17th.

--Evander Holyfield is fighting again for no apparent reason. At least he’s fighting in Dallas and not Idaho. C’mon Roy Jones, Idaho?!
Evander at his best.

--I’m big on Food Network, but don’t really care for Dave Lieberman’s show. Derek Jeter differs as Dave is his personal chef.

--Some crazy 18-year-old boy decided to take a trip to a Vermont cemetery. Yeah, Nickolas Buckalew decided it would be a good idea to take a saw to the skull of a corpse. Once he found an above ground tomb he did just that and also took the corpse’s eyeglasses and bowtie. What the? Why would he do such a thing? Oh, of course, to make a bong out of the skull. Makes perfect sense right. He was busted and will spend 1 to 7 years in jail.

--The new wedding trend is outfitting your dogs with wedding attire and depending on their sex letting them act as ring bearers or bridesmaids?!

--Remember DJ Quik (“Born and Raised in Compton” and “Tonite”) from back in the day? Evidently he released an album last year. This year he’s spending five months in jail after pulling a gun on his sister during an argument.

--In "the system works" news…Lil Kim is going to be released from a Federal Detention Center on Monday.

--A smellophone?! It would capture odors and then you could “re-smell” them later. I’m sure kids won’t be sending farts to each other. Our nation’s youth is much more mature than that.

--Britney Spears is finally doing a nude magazine spread and she has black hair and is pregnant. Whoopee!

Questions, comments or if you can just make Star Jones simply go away…

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