Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baseball In The Daytime: 2 September 2009

Goodness there's a large number of day games on tap today, which is normally cause for jig-dancin' and hat-tossin' around here. Only problem is, today's Baseball In The Daytime features almost exclusively the dregs of the major leagues. You name a shitty, going-nowhere club, chances are they're saving on electricity bills by playing a ballgame this afternoon.

While that may be a source of consternation for other sports fans, the fact that you read the House of Georges tells me that you can appreciate professional athletics played poorly. After all, the rough focus of this blog is the "rivalry" between the Chiefs and the Broncos, two teams that may not combine for five wins this season. There's a certain beauty in bad baseball set in nearly empty stadiums. The echoing crack of the bat. The plaintive wail of a beer vendor. The dugout chatter you can hear in the upper deck. Clear out the schedule and insert your protective cup, as we bounce around the bigs after the jump...

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati, 10:35 Mountain It'd be hard to say that either of these teams are very disappointing, but for the second year in a row the Reds have certainly underachieved under Dusty Baker. Maybe the pitching wasn't as great as it may have seemed back in March, what with the injuries to Volquez and Cueto and the general deterioration of Aaron Harang. But Jesus, this team really stinks. Pittsburgh is merely as bad as normal, on their way to their 17th losing record in a row. Today Zach Duke and Homer Bailey represent these two once-proud franchises, and both have promising futures (the pitchers, that is, not the franchises)--so long as they make their way out of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota Twins, 11:10 The nuts who cover the American League franchise in Chicago have their collective thongs in a knot over the weekend moves of Kenny Williams. Williams, the White Sox GM, unloaded Jim Thome and Jose Contreras to NL contenders mere weeks after adding Jake Peavy and Alex Rios for an alleged playoff push. Sure, the moves are wishy-washy and inconsistent. But so are these White Sox. No team in baseball has been harder to figure out.

Take today's starter, Mark Buehrle. He threw a perfect game on July 23 and followed that up by taking another perfecto into the fifth against the Twins. But the Twins scored five earned against him later that night, and in his next two starts he was shelled for 12 combined runs. Then he went eight scoreless against the Mariners before getting lit up twice more. Buehrle's a good pitcher, but if he's your ace you're going to have a goofy, up-and-down season. Some kid named Brian Duensing starts for the Twins.

Houston @ Chicago Cubs, 12:20 Since we're now playing after September 1, a bad game like this is even worse. Instead of 25 lousy players in either dugout, Cecil Cooper and Lou Piniella will each have 40, count 'em, 40 lousy players at their disposal today at Wrigley. The combinations are infinite. Jeff Samardzija pitching to Aaron Boone? Unpossible on August 31, a virtual certainty today. Ronny Paulino and Ted Lilly start this thing off, after that it will derail in a hurry.

Kansas City @ Oakland, 1:35 Congratulations, Nationals fans--you've won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Thanks to KC's stubborn refusal to roll over you will now be allowed to draft Harper and create the most freakishly hyped battery of all the evers.

Seriously, Royals, would it have killed you to just lose a few more down the stretch? NOW you decide to play mediocre baseball, as opposed to the outhouse scrapings you exhibited from May through the middle of August? Weak.

Brian Bannister, one of the main culprits in this disaster I consider the No. 2 pick in a one-player draft, starts opposite Trevor Cahill. May a curse hang over your head, Bannister--I hope you win! You certainly aren't good enough to lose. Someone with your lack of commitment doesn't deserve to lose.

Washington @ San Diego, 1:35 Now these Nats, they have shown the professionalism required to do their jobs. Two years running they've had the temptation to win games late in the season but they have not succumbed. Their reward? First Stephen Strasburg, who throws a baseball at light speed and can win a game of Connect Four in three moves. Now, Harper. The Washington Nationals are a model franchise, at least among those that play games today.

San Diego can only dream of matching the Nats' futility, but Kevin Correia tries to monetize that dream this afternoon at Petco. Washington's starter is John Lannan.

Los Anaheim @ Seattle, 4:40 Hidden amid this landfill of bad baseball lies one buried gem. Your once and soon-to-be AL West Champion Angels take on the resurgent Mariners in a renewal of a longtime Pacific Rim rivalry, but that's not the story. No, the interest here is on the mound, where late waiver-wire pickup Scott Kazmir makes his Los Anaheim debut against King Felix Hernandez. Kazmir has been pedestrian this year with an ERA approaching 6 and has $22 million remaining on his contract, which is why the Bay-Rays made him available. He's a big-game power lefty with a history of success against the Angels' postseason nemeses from Boston, however, so this gamble looks solid. Hernandez has merely managed to put all of his considerable talent together in a great season (13-5, 2.77 ERA, 8.22 K/9IP, 3.35 K/BB) that will get him a lot of Cy Young votes. Hits will be at a premium, so lather on the pine tar and Play Ball!