Flying catch robs Bonds of No. 714, the home run that would tie him with Babe Ruth. (Admit it: You were a little disappointed when you heard about that.)
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Two Words For You:
The new story line of Barry Bonds playing in 2007 as a DH in the AL took an interesting turn yesterday:
"I don't have another year on my contract. If I don't get one and I get one somewhere else, that's where I'll play." He added, "Oh, yes," when asked if he could sustain himself for 155 games as a DH.
Giants owner Peter Magowan responded: "I've always been open to the possibility of him being in another uniform."
That opens up an intriguing dilemma: How would you feel if Bonds ended up on your team? Would you unconditionally support him, like Giants fans do?
I can take my Bonds theory of "you hate him, but you love to watch" to an entirely new level.
SportsNation's current poll results show that two-thirds of fans wouldn't want Bonds to sign with their team as a DH. But that doesn't say anything about how they would feel if he did sign with them.
I'm willing to bet whichever team he ends up with, that team's fans would do a complete 180 on any Bonds-bashing from this season and embrace him in precisely the same way they do in San Francisco.
(I'd even guess Phillies fans would embrace Bonds if he was one of their own. Remember, these are the same folks who got behind T.O., even though they knew -- and later found out all too well -- the guy was the biggest jerk in the NFL.)
It works the other way, too: If Bonds left town, I suspect Giants fans would turn on Bonds so fast that he wouldn't know what happened. And they'd get some much-needed psychological relief in doing so.
"But He's Our Jerk!": That's the theory that lets otherwise perfectly normal fans root for the biggest jerks in sports -- because they play for your team.
Phanatics Boo Wagner
Speaking of fan reactions, just imagine if Billy Wagner had actually pitched last night in his Philly homecoming:
Instead, he got:
Eh, that's not so harsh.
Tell that to his broker.
"Three! Blown! Saves!"
Aha! That's a good one!
And in what is now apparently a Phillies fan tradition, a huge sign was unfurled: "Billy the Rat."
"I didn't hear a thing."
(Yikes: It could get uglier.)
Delmon Young: 50
Delmon Young gets a 50-game suspension, the longest in International League history -- which was my original over/under the day after the outburst -- for flinging his bat at an ump last month.
In other words, a Triple-A player either gets to chuck a bat at an ump once or get caught using steroids once. Kind of a toss-up, wouldn't you say?
Makes you better?
Use 'roids: YES
Chuck the bat: NO
Use 'roids: NO
Chuck the bat: YES
Potential fan mockery?
Use 'roids: YES
Chuck the bat: YES
(By the way, 50 games from now is just in time to call him up to the big leagues after the All-Star Break. Hmm: Start working on your clever stadium chants now. How about "Baaat! Boyyyy!")
Mavs Crush Spurs
OK, now David Stern can apologize to the Spurs about the playoff scheduling. The defending champs won Game 1, but 3 games in 5 days finally caught up with them: The Mavs ran over the Spurs in San Antonio to tie the series 1-1.
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The key stretch was the end of the first half: Dallas finished with a 15-3 run and the Spurs didn't have a FG in the last 7 minutes. But the playoff schedule reverts back to its forgiving mode: Game 3 in Dallas isn't until Saturday.
But Mavs coach Avery Johnson refused to buy into any Instant History: "They're the champions, they're still the champions. One win by a team in the Western Conference semifinals doesn't mean anything has been taken away from them."
Meanwhile, the Pistons rolled over the Cavs, to the point where Cleveland was intentionally fouling Ben Wallace at the end of the first half. "Hack-a-Ben" smacks of desperation. Three halves into the series.
Nets/Heat, G2 (NJ 1-0)
I've been touting "Richard Jefferson is underrated" (eclipsed by Kidd and Carter) for months, and now you'll get to see for yourself, if his ankle injury keeps him out of tonight's Game 2 (he's listed as "doubtful") and the Nets get mopped in Miami.
(Perhaps his absence will actually inflate his value, so the Nets and Wolves can pull the trigger on the Jefferson-for-KG swap I've been touting, also for months. Makes sense for both: Young upside for aging star!)
Clippers/Suns, G2 (PHX 1-0)
In two wins vs. the Suns this season, the Clippers held them to 98 ppg; in two losses, they allowed 119 ppg. (In Game 1, L.A. allowed a staggering 130.) And there's your big story line for tonight:
No defense = No chance.
MLB Hot Lines
Drug policy snafu? Might be tempting for the union to leverage its right to revoke the new 'roid policy in renegotiating a new labor deal, but it's not worth the backlash they'll get from fans (and Congress).
Unit shelled, A-Rod boots: Randy Johnson didn't even make it through 4 innings, giving up 7 R and 5 BB. But only 2 of the 7 were earned, mainly because A-Rod made a huge error that cost a couple runs early.
The Boss noticed: He called out A-Rod by position (if not name) after the game. Does Steinbrenner have a point? Beyond the fielding gaffe, A-Rod has zero home runs at home and an anemic .244 SLG, and he's still looking for his first hit against the Red Sox.
(But is Steinbrenner as upset as Bernie Williams, who was tossed after throwing his helmet. Quite the role model for minor-leaguers like Delmon Young, wouldn't you say?)
Clemens laying groundwork? Rocket told a local Houston TV station that his "family is warming up to" the idea of him pitching again this season. That's the rhetoric of a guy who wants to return.
King Felix turns corner? 8 Ks and 1R in 7.2 IP in a W over the Rays. His 108 pitches were a season high, but it was easily his best game of the season.
Pujols hits 17th HR: And, yet, all I want to do is talk about the Rockies' Matt Holliday, who had yet another HR, his 6th in the last 8 G, in which he's batted 14-for-30 (in Colorado's 4-2 L to St. Louis).
MLB Quote of the Day: "[MLB] has turned into a badminton league." (Jason Kendall, dropping his appeal of a 4-game suspension for brawling with the Angels' John Lackey. What a sweet sentiment.)
MLB Going Pink
When MLB puts breast-cancer awareness logos on the bases this Sunday, I hope baseball purists won't have the same freak-out they did about MLB putting Spider-Man movie logos on the bases.
MLB will blanket the game in pink: Pink wristbands for the players, pink lineup cards, special pink hats for fans and, in my favorite detail, special-edition pink bats, a first for MLB.
(Can you imagine the mixed emotions from fans if Barry Bonds hit No. 715 using a pink, "Fight Breast Cancer" bat? How could you begrudge him?)
If my kid (any day now) says he wants to play baseball, I'm going to steer him into becoming a knuckleball pitcher.
Why? Mostly, because there will always be a spot for that kind of novelty on the JV high school team. (And, given his dad's genetics, that's a serious consideration.) What coach could resist?
So why am I knuckle-obsessed today? Credit Rob Neyer, who flagged that the White Sox are going to call up 22-year-old knuckler Charlie Haeger to pitch for injured Jose Contreras tonight (Contreras sent to DL).
40 IP, 0 HR, 0.45 ERA in AAA: And he might be the youngest knuckleballer to ever pitch in the majors, certainly in the ESPN Era. Who needs a live arm when you can learn to float in the junk?
NBA Awards Season
Chris Paul is such a lock for Rookie of the Year that it's worth reiterating a point I made last month:
Someone (no, everyone) owes Charlie Villanueva an apology. When he was taken No. 7 in last year's draft, I don't think there was a single expert, analyst or fan who didn't mock the pick.
Given those expectations, a runner-up ROY finish (after averaging 13 ppg and 6 rpg) would be nothing short of phenomenal.
More Stadium Nemeses
In yesterday's Quickie, inspired by Billy Wagner, I laid out categories of players who would draw the spitting, snarling ire of fans in the stadium.
Here are a couple others submitted by readers:
The Relocated Franchise: When a team that bolted town returns under its new city name. (Example: Ravens playing in Cleveland.)
The Police Blotter: When an opposing player has some sort of recent altercation with the law that lends itself to a chant. (Example: Well, let's just wait for Duke lacrosse's first road game next season.)
The Rocker: Opposing player rips the city and its inhabitants, then shows up for a playoff game. (Example: John Rocker.)
(Thanks to these Quickie readers: Steve from Stafford Springs, Conn.; Greg from Baton Rouge, La.; Mick from Miami; and Rob from Warwick, R.I.)
No surprise: The Kings fire the lame-duck coach who led franchise revival (8 straight playoff seasons). Don Nelson is the hot rumor to replace him.
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If Ricky Williams wants to play for the CFL Argos, he better not think things are more "liberal" in Canada: He'd be drug-tested there, too.
Congrats to Mark Cuban, who won Entrepreneur of the Year for the 2006 Webby Awards. (No award for BlogMaverick for postgame rants? What gives?)
And congrats to Jerry Rice and legendary coach John Gagliardi, who lead the class of smaller-school players inducted into the College FB Hall of Fame.
Re: Yesterday's shout-out to the new Gnarls Barkley CD. I got an e-mail asking when I thought "Crazy" (hit single) would be overplayed. Maybe 6/15?