One of the only baseball blogs (to my knowledge) in the blogosphere that focuses on the Montreal Expos. Okay, mostly baseball in general, however with Montreal Expos references to be found within!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Finally, Vlad Guerrero is back in the Home Run Derby!

Finally, Vladimir Guerrero is back in the Home Run Derby! He participated in 2000, only hitting two homers in the first round, therefore not getting past said round. He was obviously there for a reason, having hit 38 and 42 home runs respectively in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, he went on to hit his career high of 44. And since then he has been very close to 40 every year, except for 2003 when he hit only 25, as he was out for a good portion of the season with a bad back. Had he been healthy, one can only imagine where the Expos would have ended up that year, even with the San Juan business! The road that year was the Expos enemy. I recall thinking had the Expos gone 500 on the road they'd would have definitely got the wildcard. Upon checking, they were 31-50, with that they ended only 8 GB for the wildcard. Reverse the numbers, and we (I do like referring myself as part of the team! As I am sure many sports fans address their teams as such, "we have to win this one"!) would have given Atlanta a run for their money! But of course with Vlad being out for as long as he was (he missed 50 games), and the crazy San Juan travel, it was our year to be that wasn't. Not really the same at all, but I am reminded of the "Next Year is Now" Mets, when Omar Minaya returned.

So anyway, once Vlad became an Angel, all of a sudden people 'discovered' him. No thanks to Bud Selig, et. al.!

Again I return to 2003. If you had the chance to see Vlad in a four game set against the Phillies, in late August, when we swept them, and tied for the wildcard, that is when you truly knew he was a superstar! He homered in 3 of those 4 games, and every at bat he received a standing ovation to cheer him on! One or two of those games were afternoon games, and drew some 20,000, and some Phillies players commented on it being louder than a stadium with twice as many people! Ah those were the days! I don't really miss the Expos per se, however it was a shame they had to go. I won't get into any details, but I'll say Expos fans past and present (present as far as history goes), will tell you how much unfond they are of Bud Selig, along with Jeffrey Loria, and David Samson (among others). Even many baseball fans in general do like care for Bud! Had they not messed up a good thing, we could have had a downtown stadium, where Vlad could have been hitting homers. It would have been only a couple blocks down from the Bell Centre (where our hockey team plays), with the downtown buildings visible past the outfield. Get a bit more about it here.

In 2002 he should have reached the 40-40 plateau, with 40 stolen bases, and 40 home runs. I was at the game where he homered (second to last of the season) at the Big O, and it went of the top of the wall. It was ruled a double, I'd have to see the replay again (I have it on tape somewhere!), however it definitely could have gone either way, at the discretion of the umpire.

So, anyway, it will be nice to see Vlad in the Home Run Derby. He definitely has the potential to win it. If you are familiar with him, he has amazing range at the plate, he can hit the ball out of the park on almost any pitch location, from his shoes to his neck. I think it was the second game of the Angels at Yankees yesterday, where I believe he was jammed inside, and still managed to get the ball practically out of the park! I believe with his swing he could manage to be up there with Bobby Abreu from 2005! Abreu was on fire! He too certainly has a nice swing! I wonder if Joe Morgan will blurt any anti-Expos stuff out this time around! Well, if so, hopefully Chris Berman will be pro Montreal again! I've mentioned it before, how he ultimately should be praising Montreal, at the very least since Montreal was a big part in breaking the colour barrier in baseball, when Jackie Robinson was playing with the Montreal Royals, before heading to Brooklyn the next year.

Anyway, much more could be added to that, and in regards to Vlad. However it is about Vlad right now in the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game itself. For those interested, Angels third base coach, Dino Ebel will be pitching to Vlad in the Derby.

Finally, Vlad is definitely a future hall of famer, to end with a statistic of note, He is on his way to his 10th consecutive year with at least a .300 batting average, and 25 home runs! Only Lou Gehrig has more, with 11. Below him with 8 are Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams, although Ted Williams did not play from 1943-1945 when he was serving with the United States Marine Corps. So I dare say, Vlad is in good company!

So, here's hoping to see a great performance from Vlad Monday and Tuesday! Go Vlad! (Oh, and as a Canadian, the same applies to Justin Morneau!)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Another day in baseball

Every sport has its fair share of weird things that can happen, however, possibly baseball is the best example, at least from North American sports.

First off, I watched the Angels at Yankees. The second game of the season for the Angels at Yankee Stadium. Both John Lackey and Roger Clemens were pitching great a great game. Clemens was coming off a win in Minnesota where he retired the last 15 batters he faced. In the end, both Lackey and Clemens went 8 giving up five hits and one run each. However Lackey struck out 11, tying a career high.

Two former Montreal Expos started in the lineup for the Angels, Orlando Cabrera, and Vladimir Guerrero. Maicer Izturis, brother of Cesar, came into the game, pinch hitting for catcher Jeff Mathis. The fourth and final former Expo, Juan Rivera is still on the 60 day DL with a broken left lower leg that he broke playing winter ball in Venezuela.

The game went on to extra innings, where the Angels won it by getting a run in in the top of the 13th. Howie Kendrick doubled, and the next batter, Jose Molina reached on fielding and throwing errors by Miguel Cairo. The latter caused by the former. The throwing error is what enabled Kendrick to get the go ahead run. With batters on first and third in the bottom of the 13th, the Yankees could not capitalise. Miguel Cairo made up for his errors, by getting his second hit of the day, and then his second stolen base. However, as I believe Joe Girardi put it, it is a team game, the Yankees had other chances to score, and did not. Derek Jeter ended the game by grounding into a force out up the middle, which Orlando Cabrera fielded, and made the force out on his own.

So all in all a good game. I raise the point about how weird plays or occurences happen in baseball, as it was a very well pitched game by the starters, and then it goes to extra innings, and an unearned run is the difference. Also in the bottom of the 7th, Jorge Posada was picked off at second, as he had a fairly large lead, probably eager to score on a base hit. The pickoff was 1-6, Lackey to Cabrera. Surprisingly also the first pickoff for the Angels this year. For the stat nuts, the Diamondbacks, and Tigers are tied with 10 pickoffs this season.

Elsewhere, I watched some of the Giants at St.Louis game, and tuned in in the seventh when it was tied 3-3. With one out I saw Mark Sweeney reach on a throwing error by Aaron Miles, that he should have had, as he had time, but his throw to first was too high. Aaron went on to make two more errors in that half of the inning, making three errors for him. On the first error the Giants went ahead 4-3. Although that would have only been the second out, so the run would have scored anyway (from third). With two out, Miles was credited with a fielding error as the ball hit by Randy Winn got past him when he should have fielded it. That caused two runs to come in, making it 6-3. Dave Roberts was the second out, sac bunting Mark Sweeney to second. On the play, which could have been a safety squeeze, Guillermo Rodriguez who was at third should have scored, but did not. The baserunning was reminiscent of Jeff Suppan in game three of the World Series as one announcer noted, when Suppan got hung up at third and got out in the process when David Ortiz threw from first. Although Rodriguez didn't cause an out. Miles' final error was another throwing one, where the ball kind of just dropped off, so Pujols' could not catch it cleanly. Randy Winn scored on that error, making it 7-4. As I started watching I was thinking I may be in for another extra inning game, but instead the Giants scored four runs, three of which were unearned. So I stopped watching, but the Cardinals ended up making a game of it, scoring three times in the bottom of the 8th. That was as close as they'd get though, losing by a final score of 7-6.

In the Yankees game, Melky Cabrera struck out 5 times, which has only ever been done four other times, from what I understand, in Yankees history. I am not criticizing Cabrera, or Miles, just commenting on how it wasn't exactly a great game for either.

So, just another day in Major League Baseball in the books. With some things out of the ordinary happening. Nothing too exceptional or noteworthy, as I said, just another day.