The Hanging Curve – Baseball Opinion Blog with MLB Analysis that won’t Bend or Break

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May. The time of the season when slumping hitters get “days off” they never wanted or needed. Hitting bad in April is a little slump. In May, it is the dreaded “slow start”.

Starting pictures have it no easier. We’ve already covered the trials and tribulations of Barry Zito and Matt Morris, and how the hell is Shawn Estes back in the majors?

But perhaps the most difficult job to keep in the majors is the closer position, which is ironic since it is the most fabricated job in baseball. It’s a pitcher who can only come in during the ninth inning (sometimes the eighth if they are particularly durable) when some magical contrivance of events creates a “save opportunity”.

This year, the list of chopped closer’s include Accardo (only filling in until BJ Ryan returned from Tommy John Surgery), Eric Gagne, and Jason Isringhausen, who punched a TV around the time he was yanked from the job and now sits on the DL as a result.

Now, Billy Wagner’s job hangs in the balance. The Mets’ clubhouse can be described perhaps as “cancerous” to their cause. The team lacks any real “clubhouse guy” and it appears there is quite a bit of friction between the young talent that carries the team and the ANCIENT veterans who are good enough to carry the team if they spent less than half the season on the DL.

Billy Wagner Badmouths Teammates While Making Important Phone Call

After Willie Randolph told his team to keep complaints in-house, Wagner torched his teammates (while also apparently ordering a pizza on his bluetooth headset) after a 1-0 loss to the Nationals in a game riddled with mistakes by asking the following: (obscenities extrapolated)

Someone tell me why the fuck you’re talking to the closer. I didn’t even play. They’re over there, not being interviewed [gestures to empty lockers of Beltran, Reyes, and Delgado].

I got it. They’re gone. Fucking shocker.

The Mets held a meeting yesterday to discuss situation. Willie Randolph needs to do something before it becomes obvious that he has no control over his players.

Waiting for your Estes to drop?

AAA PCL – Salt Lake Bees @ Portland Beavers April 21, 2008
PGE Park, Portland Oregon
Perfect baseball night…42 degrees outside with a near constant rain.  Game was delayed 20 minutes, which was fortunate because I was 15 minutes late.  Fortunately I still received an Earth week re-usable hemp tote carrying bag provided by Esurance.  The bags were given out to the first 1,000 fans attending the game, and since I was 15 minutes late there were probably only 850 or so remaining.  It was a close call.

Going along with the theme of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle was Portland verteran pitcher Shawn Estes and his left arm (which is now constructed with approximately 98% recyclable man-made materials).  Estes held the Bees in check until the 6th inning; utilizing a dazzling display of mid 80’s power and low 80’s off-speed.  In the 6th he faced six batters, retiring none.  He left with the score 6-2 Bees compliments of Bees SS Brandon Wood torching a ball over the tall wall in left field for a grand slam.

After watching the ball sail out of the stadium, Estes threw a pitch up and in to Dee Brown before beaning him in the midsection.  The home plate umpire decided Estes was clearly vengeful after giving up a grand slam, and chose to take out his frustration by beaning a .185 hitter with the bases empty and nobody out….with a change-up.  Hey ump, maybe it’s the only pitch he can locate?

As the ump points his finger at Estes to warn him and the Beavers bench, you can clearly hear Estes scream “FUCK YOU IT WAS A CHANGE UP!!!!  FUCK YOU….CHANGE UP!”  At this point I started feeling pretty bad for Estes – standing out there in the rain, coaches and players pretending to be concerned about his anger while they all secretly eye the bullpen to see if relief is stretched out yet.

But then I started thinking about Estes – about how his life isn’t so bad.  Over 18 years in professional baseball and even got to throw a baseball behind Roger Clemens in an attempt to bean him.  I’d give 20 years of my life for a chance at that.  The closest I ever got was throwing a baseball at Clemens’ wife as she was leaving a Tony Roma’s.  Come to think of it I’m not even sure that was his wife.

Rest of the game was pretty uneventful.  Bees tacked on a couple more late and Jody Gerut hit his first homer for the Beavers. Final score 9-4 Bees.

Hanging Curves –

  • Bradley Coon is a great name for a white player from Salt Lake. Probably a derivative from the ancient and storied Mormon family name “Coonhater” which had to be shortened when the LDS church recognized blacks as being “somewhat human” – a landmark religious reversal that was revealed to the prophet in 1994 while watching Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  • I counted the number of fans left as I left in the middle of the 9th inning at 10:20 p.m. local time (had to catch the light rail). 29 fans. I’ve seen bigger turnouts in the dentist office.
  • Good prop bet – Over/Under on how many times Beavers OF Chase Headley gets called “Hedey” by Mel Brooks fans in the crowd this year.