Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baseball in the Daytime: Juice? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Juice

Over the course of the past two and-a-half years, I've heard from a few House of Georges fellas that they don't really care for this feature. It's not, they say, that it's dumb or poorly written, or monotonous. Well, it might be all of those things, but they've just been nice and not said those exact words. But the point they wanted to make, I think, was that there's just no appeal in it. There's no headline, no gossip, no shenanigans, no smack talk, no hope and hype and talk of championships on the horizons, and I understand that. I respect those opinions, but I also have mine, and I happen to be a big fan of ol' Baseball in the Daytime, sheerly for what it symbolizes. Sure, it's fun to pretend like it's frequently feasible to ditch work, go day drinking, and take in a baseball game. What this feature means for me, though, is nothing more than a little trinket of nostalgia. I can't really describe it, but having a baseball game on television in the middle of the day takes me back to my childhood, a time when baseball was anything and everything, quicker than most anything I can imagine. Television was it. It was the technology. There were no kids at bus stops with iPhones and Nintendo DS absorbing their every ounce of attention, kids that couldn't list one single player on their hometown team. There were kids in soccer fields and backyards, and they were playing baseball in every moment they could squeeze out of their folks. And I, for a spell, was one of them.

So, yes, I find weekday baseball awesome, especially when the Royals are playing and I know, even if it's not a true possibility in the given moment, that I can head out to the stadium for some diamond ball in the sunshine. So it's good to be back in the chair for this morning's slate, which you can find, of course, just after the jump.

Philadelphia @ Cincinnati, 11:35 Central: What better a way to kick off a Thursday of baseball than with a lunchtime feature containing two righties, one of which may or may not be a lunchbox thief. I speak, of course, of the hefty Joe Blanton, who'll be the mountain on the hill atop the first inning at Great American Ballpark. Blanton and his defending-champion Phills have gotten their act together and gotten over .500, and don't look now, but they're actually in first in the N.L. East by a whole game. It's high time Mr. Blanton do his part, as his 1-3, 6.86 E.R.A. start to the year hasn't necessarily contributed much noteworthy to the effort. Starting off the bottoms of the frames will be Micah Owings for the Redlegs. On the books Mr. Owings has been a part of seven decisions with three wins and four losses, while his earned-run average is nearly three points lower than today's counterpart. Catch this tilt on DirecTV 721, XM 183.

Texas @ Detroit, 12:05: Today's second affair pits me in a peculiar spot: rooting for a Texas team, a Texas team that refuses to surrender the first-place spot in the A.L. West, a Texas team that could certainly have a helping of discounted Hank Stram shirts, or maybe even find the House of Georges sponsoring one of its player pages if they could, uh, quitely, discreetly find a way to beat the Tigers today. Today's second duel will also be a matchup of righties, two gents that have had a bit more success so far in 2009, what with visiting-team ace Kevin Millwood holding a 4-3, 2.93, while home-team town Edwin Jackson trots out a 3-2, 2.42. It's a battle of firsts at Comerica Park, one that may be viewed on DirecTV 722 or 723, or listened to on XM 176.

Minnesota @ Chicago, 1:05: Match three has a pair of A.L. Central clubs who've spent most of the past three weeks trading licks in the standings. Today, they're tied at five and-a-half back and they'll attempt to separate themselves from one another by sending Jeremy Blackburn and Bartolo Colon to the mound. Granted, both starters won't be there at the exact same time, but both starters do have two victories and E.R.A.s in the four range. Colon will have a shade of extra pressure on his home-team shoulders as the Ozzie Guillens appear ready to pull the trigger on Old No. 7's mostest favoritest Team U.S.A. World Baseball Classic pitcher, Jake Peavy. Find the madness on DirecTV 724 and 725, or on XM 177.

Cleveland @ Kansas City, 1:10: I've been angling all season long, trying to formulate a master plan to get out of work and get out to the K for an afternoon weekday game. Today, righties Carl Pavano sits atop the rubber-match Stank Tank board, just waiting to be dunked, and I'm stuck earning my small pile of beans. Guess it just wasn't in the cards. I sure can envision myself, though: my pockets seven dollars lighter, hanging in the Dri-Duck seats, hoping, some 30 years later, for my first-ever caught baseball, a cold one in hand. But heck, driving around and listening to it on the radio sounds just as nice. The Royals pitcher of the affair is 7-1 with a 0.60 E.R.A. and I keep waiting for the point in the season where his stats don't look like a typo in the morning paper. Mr. Pavano has gone 3-4 with a 6.33, and these two clubs have each taken one series a piece at the mark of 2-1. Someone repeats today, and you can find out who on DirecTV 726 or 727. Or you can tune in to XM 178.

Oakland @ Tampa Bay, 3:08: We travel down to Florida for the afternoon's final game for a contest between two clubs that really need to get their acts together. The defending American League champion Rays are toying with .500 and they'll give Matt Garza the nod today. Oakland has managed to win but 15 games, but by sending lefty Dallas Braden out for duty, they've a decent shot of making it 16. Braden's record is 3-5 right now, and his E.R.A. sits at 3.64, but for Athletic pitching, that ain't terrible. Garza, at 4-2, 3.50, is also, not terrible. Catch this one on DirecTV 728 or 729, or grab a speaker and put your XMs to the one seven niner.

That's your day baseball slate today, folks. Enjoy.