Non-baseball vacation. It’s sad, but such things do exist.

Stacey and I are off on vacation with her family for a week, starting tomorrow. So I will be away from the Internet (Unless one of Stacey’s sisters has one of those magic internet phone-watch-missile-defense-system-thingies, which would probably terrify me so much that I couldn’t use it even if I wanted to do so.) and not posting to BRPA2004.

In my absence, I hope Jim will at least impersonate me for a post or two. It’s not like it’s that hard. You mention Johnny Damon, lament a Cardinals loss or cheer a Cardinals victory.

Or you could post something about Raul Mondesiwhose nickname is “The Buffalo”— and Operation Shutdown: The Sequel, which he pulled in Pittsburgh, the home of the original, unmatchable Operation Shutdown.

And you could link to this silly picture, from the game where Mondesi, now an Angel, tore his quadriceps.

There. Now Jim will be able to impersonate me with ease. See you all when we return.

Original comments…

thatbob: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

One of these things is not like the other

1) Damon claims in this article that it took him only three weeks to grow the beard. But then he goes on to say that he will have it back in about ten days. Maybe that means he’s getting better with practice?

2) According to an article Stacey found, which I can’t find right now, Damon’s been shaving since he was six. That’s what she says.

3) And just to leave you all warm and fuzzy, here are Damon’s reasons for choosing tutoring program at the Boston Public Library and a city program, ReadBoston, as the beneficiaries of his charitable act:

“I didn’t read well when I was young,” said Damon. “They help kids do that. My parents were always working. I never had help on my homework, so it just related a lot with my life and me growing up. I think it just helps out everybody. It brings awareness and hopefully, they can get a lot more donations and help out a lot more kids, and that’s what Boston’s about. We have all these colleges here. We want to try to make each kid smart enough to go to these colleges.

“We’re going to have even more ‘smahtah’ kids here in Boston.”

You all know what to do.

4) In today’s non-Damon note, I noticed something interesting that recent Cardinals call-up the Third Molina was doing last night while catching Chris Carpenter. In the late innings, as Carpenter tired and his pitches started to float up a bit, Molina began dropping his target all the way to the dirt. He’d set up, then hunker down and more or less lay the open glove in the dirt. The tactic seemed to work: Carpenter started aiming at the glove, and the pitches, when they didn’t drop as much as they should have, ended up around the knees rather than around the belt. Does anyone know if this is a trick that Jose Molina or Bengie Molina uses?

Original comments:

Bengie Molina: I use that trick all the time. I also have the picture of a fly painted on the inside of my mitt, which the pitcher attempts to squash. It seems to help, unless a real fly lands on the end of the bat.

Levi: The real question, though, is how the hell a family produces three major leaguers at one position?

Were there no pitcher or shortstop genes in their family? Or did those all go to the gals?

sandor: Smart idea, Bengie. Been to Amsterdam lately?

Secho: What we do know is that Mr. and Mrs. Molina were pretty quick to get their groove back on after Bengie was born. His birthday is July 20, 1974, while Jose’s is June 3, 1975. So they are, at this moment, both 29 years old, and not twins. So I guess itt’s not too surprising that they share common talents and interests, though you would think one of them would’ve been pitching to the other one all those years.

Who were the last set of 3 brothers to play major league ball simultaneously? The Alous?

Levi: I think it’s the Alous. The only other trios I can come up with off the top of my head are the DiMaggios and the Boyers. I know there have been at least a couple more.

I really like what I’ve seen of The Third Molina so far, although he does still look not quite ready for a full-time job in the majors.

stacey: did the third benes brother never make it out of the minors? they were all pitchers, i believe. maybe they grew up down the street from the molinas.

Luke: Pat Hughes and Dave Otto were discussing this during last night’s game — Ron Santo was taking the series off, so there was much more talk about actual baseball and much less about hairpieces, sweaters and funny names — and they said there have been 19 sets of brothers, the most recent being Jose, Hector and Tommy in 1977. Here’s a complete list.

Cluke: And I think it goes without saying that the awards for best names go to Clete, Cloynd and Ken Boyer.


Look what looks can do

In the early balloting for the starting outfield for the American League All-Star team, Baseball-Related Program Activities 2004 favorite Johnny Damon is a strong third.

Now, much as I hate to admit it, Johnny Damon is definitely not the third-best outfielder in the American League.

While he was on the All-Star team in 2002, he has never come close to being voted to a starting berth. And it’s not like he’s off to an extremely good start this season. His .282/383./400 line is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not like he’s setting the world on fire.

Not with his bat, that is. We all know why Johnny Damon might make the All-Star team: Who doesn’t want to have the coolest-looking player in baseball representing the American League at baseball’s coolest position? Well, aside from a few silly Yankees fans, that is. Even without the beard, he deserves the starting nod.

Internet voting is allowed. Vote early and often, and this might be the best All-Star game since the one Bud Selig ruined–which happens to be the one in which Johnny Damon went 1-3.

Original comments…

maura: you can only vote up to 25 times! so don’t vote too often, there.

Jim: I punched out a lot of all-star ballots for Johnny Damon, among others, at the Devil Rays-Rangers game (because my father dumped a bunch of them in my lap, and there was nothing else to do). No wonder he’s running third!

Steve: this is only partially related but on Wed night, Vladimir Guerrero (leading AL outfield vote getter) had 9 RBI in a game. I looked around a bit for the single game record to no avail. Jim? Levi?

Jim: According to the chart that was in Thursday’s L.A. Times, the record is 12, held by both Jim Bottomley of the Cardinals (who did it on September 16, 1924) and Mark Whiten of the Cardinals (September 7, 1993). The A.L. record is 11, held by Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees (May 24, 1936).

Levi: I was listening to the Mark Whiten game. It was something.

His feat is impressive because he drove in all 12 on home runs. Four of them.

Secho: I was thinking Whiten was probably the worst player ever to hit 4 HRs in a game (and this is a category that includes Mike Cameron); despite hitting 25 homers and driving in 99 in 1993, Whiten had only a .746 OPS. How do you drive in 99 while slugging .423? Hell, even Kevin Elster slugged .462 when he inexplicably drove in 99 runs. Okay, Johnny Damon’s only slugging .416 with 31 RBI, but I’ll grow a mullet if he’s sitting at 100 RBI with his current line at the end of the season.

Anyway, I thought Whiten was the worst 4-homer player unil I stumbled upon Pat Seerey, who did it for the White Sox in 1948. He was a career .224 hitter who only played 4 games in 1949 before being cut and never played again. This after leading the Sox with 18 homers and 64 RBI in 1948. Even Seerey had a .768 OPS that season, though, so I may be switching my vote back to Whiten.

Levi: Whiten really was a bad hitter, a mistake hitter who would flash such impressive power on those few bad pitches he hammered that he’d have you scratching your head.

Whiten somehow only hit 13 doubles in 1993, which goes a long way (with his lousy batting average) to explaining his low slugging percentage. And the RBI were (Here’s where I wish Dan Rivkin was reading this blog regularly), I’m guessing, about 40% Gregg Jeffries (.342/.408/.485), 20% Ray Lankford (.238/.366./.346), 20% Bernard Gilkey (.305/.370/.481). God knows where the other 20% came from.

Oh, and Jim Bottomley was known as Sunny Jim Bottomley.

Nothing gold can stay

Enjoy it while you can, folks. The Boston Herald is reporting the following:

Johnny Damon has agreed to shave his beard May 21 as part of a charity venture, but he’s not going to shear his long locks of hair. The center fielder, who has 3-for-4 last night and has raised his average to .283, agreed to shave when Gillette offered to contribute $15,000 to Boston Public Library.”

According to an AP story, Gillette asked Damon to pick a charity.

I guess if the beard is gonna go, might as well help support a library.

Oh, and in today’s search for Damon photos, I found a forum on beards with a thread on new baseball facial hair this season. But please don’t let it distract you so much that you never return here.

Original comments…

sandor: Damon’s mom will be happy. Apparently she thinks he’s no longer as cute as he used to be.

Levi: Maybe shaving is a Mother’s Day gift?

Luke: If only I were a rich eccentric, because then I’d offer $15,001 to charity for him to *NOT* shave it.

Wow, Jim. Thanks for passing along Johnny Damon’s statement about his hair being, in part, an attempt to do everything the opposite of the Yankees. That is just about the only thing that could possibly make his hair and beard better. Well, other than them, say, defeating President Bush or leading efforts for world peace.

And I forgot–one more good Damon note before I move on to whatever exciting baseball news happens today. During Sunday night’s game, about two-thirds of the way through the game, ESPN dug up a photo of Damon from when we last saw him. They placed it side-by-side with a new photo from that day. The entire audience at the Rocketship gasped. As the noise died away, Jon Miller’s voice cut through, saying, “How do we even know that’s Johnny Damon out there?” It got a good laugh.

Which ties in with an idea I’ve had for a long time: say you’re the Cardinals. You’re playing a big game against the Cubs, and you’re down by a run with two guys on in the bottom of the ninth. You’ve got So Taguchi coming up. People start heading for the exits.

But you’ve got Albert Pujols on the bench. He’s even got a bat in his hands, because, well, that’s how he is. Why not put Pujols in Taguchi’s jersey and send him to the plate as Taguchi? Sure, he’s not Taguchi. Everyone knows he’s not Taguchi. But he and the manager and the rest of the team swear up and down that without a doubt, swear on Tony LaRussa’s Pure Beef Heart, he’s So Taguchi.

What’s the umpire going to do? Obviously, he’ll have no choice but to let him bat. I’m picturing buttons popping off a way-too-tight jersey as Pujols/Taguchi hits the ball into the Mississippi. Think how much the hometown crowd will get into this! Sure, the opposing team will lodge a protest, but I don’t think the Basic Agreement allows for DNA testing. Barring that, who can be certain that the hitter who won the game for the Cardinals wasn’t Taguchi? David Hume and Bishop Berkeley would be with me on this, guaranteed. Certainty is impossible.

Clearly, the keys to the success of this strategy are three. 1) Have Albert Pujols on your team. 2) Make sure that everyone involved–from LaRussa on down–absolutely refuses to budge in their certainty that this hitter is So Taguchi. 3) Don’t have any of those problematically honest born-again Christians on the team.

If you were really serious–and commensurately willing to be impressively offensive–you could even put Pujols in bad makeup to make him look Japanese. Like Mickey Rooney, only worse.

Original comments…

thatbob: Actually, I think the born-again Christians would be very open to the uncertainty argument. If I was Tony LaRussa, I would say: “Although you think you just watched Pujols put on Taguchi’s jersey, isn’t it possible that this illusion was created by a miracle of God? Or that, by a miracle of God, Pujols is now Taguchi? Or do you deny the possibility of miracles, and claim to know the mind of God? Now since you can’t claim with certainty that Taguchi is Pujols, I would ask that, for the sake of the team, you hold your tongue on the matter.”

See, this is why I would have made such an excellent Jesuit. Is it too late for seminary?

No wonder they won five Pulitzers

Levi, you may be pleased to note that Johnny Damon made the L.A. Times sports section’s daily “Quotebook” feature at the upper left of page D2, complete with photo. To quote the quote: “‘[General Manager] Theo [Epstein] told me I can keep it. I don’t think we want to compare ourselves to the Yankees. We’ll do everything the opposite of what they do.’ — Johnny Damon, Boston Red Sox outfielder, on his long hair and beard, which is not allowed by Yankee management”

In other news, the location of this blog will be moving soon. More details later.

Luke had a good thought about Johnny Damon: maybe he’s about to re-form the House of David traveling team. That would make this the best season in seventy-five years or so.

Other Opening Day notes, from someone who was stuck at work and couldn’t have watched the Cardinals anyway:

1) The Detroit Tigers are above .500 for the first time since April 8, 2001. And, as Stacey noticed that Ron Santo won the attendance game on the Cubs broadcast on WGN, so is Ron, although the drought has probably been longer.

2) The Astros are in last place. But so are the Cardinals. Maybe it’s best that, as Wittgenstein used to suggest whenever his favorite team lost a big game, we should just pass over that in silence.

3) Johnny Damon’s hair is still the story of the day. If I had a newspaper, the headline today would be “Opening Day features thrillings comebacks.” But the subhead would be “Johnny Damon’s hair, beard have no comment on Jimy Williams’s decision to pitch to Bonds.”

4) Even Bush and Cheney throwing out pitches couldn’t ruin Opening Day. It’s good to know there’s something in the world they can’t destroy. I suppose I should keep quiet about that, or else next year they’ll try harder.