July 2008

Acorn stops by

ANAHEIM — No bank robberies to report on today. But, on my flight down from Seattle, I did spy some of those California wild fires that are an annual summer occurance here. It was a bit, well, wild to see the smoke rising from the hills as my plane headed toward SoCal.

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. It’s a lovely day here, too, bright and sunny with one little puff of what can hardly be considered a substantial cloud in the sky. Great night for some fireworks — too bad I’ll probably be in the clubhouse for the display. Maybe I’ll make it back to the pressbox for the grand finale.

Baseball? Well, Jeremy Accardo is in town with the Jays and scheduled to meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum — an arm specialist who doubles as an Angels team doctor — about his forearm injury. Accardo said he’s throwing off a mound and he only feels a twinge in his arm when he drops his arm slot. He’s hoping the visit with the doc is for peace of mind more than anything.

Casey Janssen is also with the team here, but it’s status quo for the injured righty. Yocum was the doctor who performed shoulder surgery on Janssen back in March. Nothing much else going on with the Jays — unless you consider trade rumors to be something much.

Reports are that the Jays are searching for a shortstop, using A.J. Burnett as bait. Manager Cito Gaston has been cycling Marco Scutaro, David Eckstein and John McDonald in and out at short. The Jays could certainly benefit from a shortstop with some more offense who could play every day. One report out of Baltimore also indicated that the Orioles are also interested in Eckstein.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (41-45) at LOS ANGELES (51-34)
at 9:05 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

BLUE JAYS
Marco Scutaro, SS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Scott Rolen, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Adam Lind, LF

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (8-7, 4.74)

ANGELS
Chone Figgins, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Maicer Izturis, SS
Vladimir Guerrero, RF
Torii Hunter, CF
Garret Anderson, DH
Gary Matthews Jr., LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C

PITCHING: RHP Jered Weaver (7-8, 4.30)

So long, Seattle

SEATTLE — There are a bunch of behemoth softball dudes on the field right now taking huge hacks here at Safeco Field. And boy are they making this park look small. Matt Stairs would certainly not look out of place in this Home Run Derby.

There’s been some monster shots off the windows of a restaurant on the second deck in right and one that nearly bounced off the Safeco Field sign that towers over the upper deck in left — right up by the tracks for the retractable roof. Wild stuff.

Speaking of tracks, Jays skip Cito Gaston was weaving some tales of his days playing ball back in the 1970s. He brought up a time when he played for a team in Leone, Mexico and travelled to a stadium where train tracks literally ran through the ballpark. Twice a game, time had to be called while a train passed through the outfield.

On a side note, farewell to the Seattle Supersonics. Being a big NBA fan, I think it’s a travesty that there won’t be a team in this town. At least the city was able to retain the team name and history in the deal. Hopefully it won’t be too, too long before the Sonics are back. Watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls beat Seattle in the 1996 Finals, when MJ won it on Father’s Day after losing his dad, is one of my favorite sports memories.

Back to baseball…

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (41-44) at SEATTLE (32-51)
at 10:10 p.m. ET at lovely Safeco Field

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Scott Rolen, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Adam Lind, LF

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (6-6, 4.26)

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Miguel Cairo, 2B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jeremy Reed, CF
Richie Sexson, 1B
Jeff Clement, DH
Kenji Johjima, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

PITCHING: LHP Jarrod Washburn (3-7, 4.30)

Canadian crowds and bank robbers

TORONTO — Happy Canada Day everyone. The Mariners were kind enough to have a nice little pregame ceremony to honor this holiday, complete with a flyover by four NORAD jets, including a pair from the U.S. and a pair from Canada.

Also on the field were military from both nations. On the Canadian side, one of the RCMP officers was a woman named Martha Cormier, who happens to be Matt Stairs’ sister. She’s stationed at the RCMP’s Kelowna detachment.

Hey, if you’re not going to be in Toronto for Canada, this is the place to be. People flood down from Vancouver to see the Jays and actually make this place pretty pro Blue Jays. Honestly, this crowd of Jays fanatics seems louder than the fans who frequent Rogers Centre.

“Happy Canada Day,” Jays skip Cito Gaston said. “It certainly helps that we have some fans here. Hopefully, they’ll be cheering us on like they did last night. If you can’t spend it at home, this is a great place to spend it.”

Did I paraphrase Cito’s quote or what? But, it’s true. On Monday night, there were chants for Cito, a fine rendition of the Mar-co Scu-ta-ro chants, and at one point, there were loud cries of Hall-a-day! Hall-a-day! And believe me, the raucous Toronto fans didn’t go unnoticed.

“It’s kind of a weird thing, especially on the road,” Halladay said. “Obviously, being close to Canada here [will bring out the fans], but it’s a different feeling to go into a road city and be able to hear fans from your own town.”

As for my day today, I enjoyed a nice five-mile run along Puget Sound this morning and as I was heading back into downtown with my earphones in and Arcade Fire blasting from my ipod, I noticed that there were a handful of helicopters overhead, which seemed odd. As I got closer to the street my hotel was on, there were cop cars and ambulances blocking my path.

Turns out that some bozo tried to rob a bank in West Seattle and the chase with the cops ended near my hotel. Last year, I had that huge gas pipe explosion near my hotel in New York. This year I get close to a big shootout in Seattle. While standing by and watching the happenings, I spotted a man wearing a Michigan State hat.

We got to chatting and it turns out that he knows some people in the Tigers organization and he works in the ticket office at MSU. We talked some baseball and he even invited to buy me a coffee so we could talk ball some more, but I was itching to get out of my workout clothes. So it was nice to me you, Richard. I’ll take a raincheck on the coffee.

Also, asked David Eckstein today about a recent report that said he’d been fielding grounders at second base. He said no one told him to work out at second and he never fielded grounders, just turned some double plays. With he and John McDonald and Marco Scutaro splitting time at short, he just rotated over there on his own one day to help out during practice.

“It was funny,” Eckstein said with a laugh. “My wife even called me and said, ‘I read that you were fielding grounders at second base?’ I wasn’t. I did turn a couple double plays, but no one asked me to go over there. I did play second base until I got to the big leagues.”

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (41-43) at SEATTLE (31-51)
at 10:10 p.m. ET at lovely Safeco Field

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, DH
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C
Adam Lind, LF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (8-4, 3.82)

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Jose Lopez, 2B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Jose Vidro, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jeremy Reed, CF
Richie Sexson, 1B
Jeff Clement, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

PITCHING: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1, 2.66)

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