Welcome to the broadcast booth, Luis Gonzalez
Top of the first, Cardinals-Mets Game 1 Thursday night, a game eventually won 2-0 by New York. Longtime Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez has joined Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on Fox for this series. With two outs and nobody on, Albert Pujols takes a big curveball from Tom Glavine outside for Ball 2.
Gonzalez: "Albert Pujols, one of the best hitters in the major leagues today. You very rarely see him go out of the strike zone chasing pitches."
Next pitch: In the dirt, waved at and missed.
And they say comedy's dead!
Happens to the best of 'em, Luis. Generally speaking, Gonzalez sounded smooth and intelligent, but didn't have a whole lot to say beyond pat stuff like Pujols being a great hitter who rarely chases bad pitches. No Al Leiter-like insights. He did get off a nice line when Mets left fielder Endy Chavez tumbled into the front row chasing a foul ball.
"That's a great ticket, right there," he said. "You buy a ticket there, you get a Mets player." I kinda think he had it in his pocket, but I chuckled anyway. It was better than McCarver's comment: "Endy up-endied."
[Bangs head on desk repeatedly.]
Lou Piniella, working the ALCS with Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons, is more insightful than Gonzalez, especially when he talks about how a manager thinks through certain game decisions or handles personnel or personality issues. It always surprises me how loose, likable and easy to listen to Piniella is, considering what a red-ass he is when he manages.
One wonders what he'd be able to do in the booth with better partners, but we're not likely to find out soon. He's probably headed back to a dugout somewhere next spring.
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Glavine shut the Cards down in Game 1, but all is not lost for the heavy underdogs. They had several hard-hit balls right at Mets fielders, plus a nice running catch by Chavez and a base-running blunder by Pujols.
A team always looks terrible when it's getting shut out, depressing, like it's not even trying, but if the Mets are going to win this series, as they should, they're going to win it with hitting, not pitching. If the Cardinals can shut them down with the likes of Jeff Weaver, who went five and two-thirds innings, giving up only Carlos Beltran's two-run homer, they've got a shot.
Game 2 is Friday night in prime time. It's a makeup date for Wednesday's rainout on what should be a travel day for the National League teams. The Tigers and A's are relegated to twilight, which is actually a good thing for the Detroit fans. The forecast for the original game time of 8:05 EDT is 38 degrees, counting the wind chill.
At 4:35, when Game 3 will start, it'll feel like it's about 42, so that should be a lot nicer.
Own a little piece of America [PERMALINK]
Three days left to bid on the domain name arodsucks.com, which is being auctioned on eBay. Latest bid was $611.99 as of Friday morning. It started at $26.
Or you could just grab arodsucks.org, .us, .info, .name, .biz, .tv, .bz, .de, .co, .uk or .eu, which are all available, as is arodreallysucks.com.
This column is here to serve, which is probably why kingkaufmansucks.com is also still up for grabs.
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NFL Week 6 [PERMALINK]
We're getting cheated out of a game this week.
There are six teams idle, rather than four, meaning the schedule is reduced to 13 games rather than the customary 14. And yet we still pay the same prices. It's an outrage. And it's one of those rare outrages I can probably find some allies in fighting, because fantasy players have to bench players from six teams instead of four.
But I don't play fantasy football, so I don't really care. In fact, I'm happy that the bye-week season will end a week earlier this year, meaning that everyone will have played the same number of games after Week 9 instead of 10. I like it when everybody's played the same number of games. I also like it when my shoelaces are the same length. I'm just like that.
Besides, one less game to keep track of, which is to say ignore, while watching baseball.
The fat bye week, which will be repeated in Week 7, is part of the deal that gives NBC flexibility in scheduling Sunday-night games late in the season. That flexibility kicks in at Week 10, and this way there's a full slate then.
Last week I went 12-2 with my picks, the first time I've been above .500 all year, though that was only about league average in the Panel o' Experts on an easy slate of games. Still, I'll take what I can get, and I'll reward myself with a second sentence in each blurb.
Winners in caps.
Sunday early games
Buffalo (2-3) at DETROIT (0-5): The Bills should recover from that 40-7 whomping at Chicago last week. Which of course is why I'm taking the Lions.
Tennessee (0-5) at WASHINGTON (2-3): The Titans kept the Colts close last week by running inside. Tougher task here, as it would be almost anywhere.
SEATTLE (3-1) at St. Louis (4-1): New Rams game plan: When the other team's got the ball near the end of the game, everybody on the sideline think, "Drop it, drop it, drop it!" I stole that from my friend Jon Schmuke.
PHILADELPHIA (4-1) at New Orleans (4-1): This could be a sobering afternoon for the surprising Saints. The Eagles pass rush should tee off on Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb and the offense are flying, and the Saints just lost rookie safety Roman Harper, who had been playing well.
N.Y. GIANTS (2-2) at Atlanta (3-1): The Giants' strong defensive front and weak secondary is perfect for a quarterback who makes good decisions, gets rid of the ball quickly and has an accurate arm. Oh.
Houston (1-3) at DALLAS (2-2): The Associated Press reports that Terrell Owens was screaming "Why am I here?!" on the sidelines last week in Philadelphia, and he told reporters at midweek that his frustrations this year have driven him to "sit in my house in the dark" rather than going out and socializing. Yeah, I don't think he's suffering from depression, do you?
He should get his wish for more passes and yards against the weak Texans defense, providing the increasingly hapless Drew Bledsoe can find him. That was three sentences and this is four. Sue me, I'll give one back in the next blurb (five).
CINCINNATI (3-1) at Tampa Bay (0-4): Ten losses to go for the Bucs to match that matchless '76 team.
CAROLINA (3-2) at Baltimore (4-1): Deee-fense. Steeeve-smith.
Sunday late games
SAN DIEGO (3-1) at San Francisco (2-3): The Chargers have done what you're supposed to do so far, whipping up on bad teams and splitting against good ones. This should go in the former category.
Miami (1-4) at N.Y. JETS (2-3): I know he had a decent game last week in his first start in place of the shaky Daunte Culpepper, but I just can't picture Joey Harrington leading the Dolphins to a road win here. Unless, that is, last week's 41-0 losers at Jacksonville were the real Jets.
Kansas City (2-2) at PITTSBURGH (1-3): Chiefs fill-in quarterback Damon Huard is playing well and Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, a much better quarterback, isn't, but both of those things are likely to change, and it won't help the Chiefs that Larry Johnson is hurting. I'm going to take one more chance on the Steelers before I give up on them.
Sunday night game
Oakland (0-4) at DENVER (3-1): Who scheduled the prime-time games this week, Bud Selig? They're both candidates for What the Heck Pick of the week, so I flipped a coin and took the other one.
Monday night game
Chicago (5-0) at ARIZONA (1-4): Bad time for the Cardinals not to have Larry Fitzgerald. What the Heck Pick of the week would be one of the What the Heckiest ever if it came through.
Buster's picks (a public service)
Six-point-plus favorites: Dallas, Washington, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Denver, Chicago
The coin: Buffalo, Carolina, Tampa Bay, N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis, N.Y. Jets
Season record: 42-32
Last week: 12-2
What the Heck Picks: 0-5, but two heartbreakers
Number of times the word "week" appears in this item, including that time just there, despite the fact that I wrote around using it about half a dozen times: 19
Previous column: Cory Lidle plane crash
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