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Monthly Archives: June 2008

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Like I Said . . .

The Rangers have the best offense and worst pitching in baseball, so naturally they beat the Yankees 2-1 in their series opener in the Bronx last night. Alex Rodriguez’s mammoth fourth-inning home run into Monument Park off accounted for the Yankees’ only run. By then, the Rangers already had their two runs, plating a one-out Ian Kinsler double in the third and a lead-off walk to David Murphy in the top of the fourth. Mike Mussina struck out eight, including Milton Bradley four times, and took the hard-luck loss. Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, and Dan Geiese each pitched a scoreless relief inning to keep the Yanks within a blast. The Rangers bullpen countered that by retiring all ten batters it faced over the final 3 1/3 innings.

The Yankees had just four hits all game, all off Feldman, but three of them were for extra bases. After Alex Rodriguez’s homer in the fourth, Jorge Posada doubled with two outs, but Robinson Cano grounded out to strand him. With two outs in the sixth, Jason Giambi hit a legitimate triple to right field, his first three-base hit since 2002 and just his second in his seven seasons with the Yankees. That hit drove Feldman from the game and Frank Francisco came on to strand G-bombs by K-ing Posada. Giambi would prove to be the last baserunner the Yankees would have all game.


Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers

2007 Record: 75-87 (.463)
2007 Pythagorean Record: 78-84 (.483)

2008 Record: 42-41 (.506)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 40.5-42.5 (.488)

Manager: Ron Washington
General Manager: Jon Daniels

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (100/100)*

Who’s Replacing Whom:

Josh Hamilton replaces Mark Teixeira and Brad Wilkerson
Milton Bradley replaces Sammy Sosa
David Murphy inherits the playing time of Kenny Lofton and Victor Diaz
Brandon Boggs replaces Nelson Cruz (minors)
German Duran replaces Jerry Hairston Jr. and Travis Metcalf (minors)
Chris Davis replaces Jason Botts (minors)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is filling in for Gerald Laird (DL) in the lineup
Max Ramirez is filling in for Saltalamacchia on the bench
Vicente Padilla reclaims Edinson Volquez’s starts
Scott Feldman is filling in for Jason Johnson (DL) who replaced Kameron Loe (minors)
Luis Mendoza is filling in for Doug Mathis (DL) who was filling in for Brandon McCarthy (DL)
Eric Hurley replaces Robinson Tejada (minors)
C.J. Wilson has inherited Eric Gagné’s save chances
Eddie Guardado replaces Ron Mahay and Wilson’s set-up innings
Josh Rupe replaces Wes Littleton
Jamey Wright has ceded his starts to the gaggle of starters listed above and moved to the bullpen to replace Willie Eyre
Warner Madrigal the latest reliever to attempted to fill in the remaining innings pitched by Mike Wood, John Rheinecker (DL), Akinori Otsuka and others last year.

25-man Roster

1B – Frank Catalanotto (L)
2B – Ian Kinsler (R)
SS – Michael Young (R)
3B – Ramon Vazquez (L)
C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)
RF – Josh Hamilton (L)
CF – Marlon Byrd (R)
LF – David Murphy (L)
DH – Milton Bradley (S)


R – Brandon Boggs (OF)
L – Chris Davis (1B/3B)
R – German Duran (UT)
R – Max Ramirez (C)


R – Vicente Padilla
R – Eric Hurley
R – Scott Feldman
R – Kevin Millwood
R – Luis Mendoza


L – C.J. Wilson
R – Joaquin Benoit
L – Eddie Guardado
R – Jamey Wright
R – Frank Francisco
R – Josh Rupe
R – Warner Madrigal

15-day DL: L – Hank Blalock (3B), R – Gerald Laird (C), R – Jason Jennings, L – Kason Gabbard, R – Doug Mathis, L – A.J. Murray
60-day DL: R – Brandon McCarthy, L – John Rheinecker, R – Thomas Diamond

Typical Lineup:

R – Ian Kinsler (2B)
R – Michael Young (SS)
L – Josh Hamilton (RF/CF)
S – Milton Bradley (DH)
L – David Murphy (LF/RF)
R – Marlon Byrd (CF)
L – Frank Catalanotto (1B)
S – Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C)
L – Ramon Vazquez (3B)


Do You Happen to Know Where Bagel Street is?

It ain’t easy being Lou. 

Manny Being Manny

Before there was Manny being Manny, there was Rickey being Rickey.  At least according to a New York Times piece from the late 1980s I read about Henderson not too long ago.  Manny being Manny is cute so long as he hits like a Hall of Famer.  Sammy Sosa was chased out of Chicago the moment his skills declined.  While I don’t think the same holds true for Ramirez in Boston–hey, two championship rings buy a lot of rope–have you noticed that Manny being Manny has become a catch-phrase to take Ramirez off-the-hook whenever he acts like a putz?  Chacon got released.  Manny apologies.  Chacon is washed-up, Manny still rakes.  Manny being Manny.  Sort of like Shaq being Shaq

Minor Changes

According to reports, outfielder Brett Gardner has been called-up to the majors.  David Robertson made his debut yesterday, allowing a run. He didn’t have command of his curve ball but the heater looked lively.

According to Buster Olney:

I don’t know what’s wrong with Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, but it would not be a surprise if he has a serious ligament issue. If this was a minor cleanup situation, the Yankees could keep Matsui out now and have him back sometime in August, but that is not how the Yankees are handling this. If Matsui is seriously injured and eventually requires season-ending surgery, it figures the Yankees will be poking around and looking for an outfielder — or a first baseman.

With Godzilla on the shelf for who knows how long, there has been talk of Barry Bonds.  The fellas over at No Maas are all for it.  What do you think?  I don’t imagine that it’ll happen but it’d sure keep us busy with banter, man.

I Think Yer Mistaken

I watched most of yesterday’s game on the Mets’ network, listening to Gary Cohen and Mex Hernandez call the game.  I like the Met guys, although Cohen gets jacked-up more now that he’s on TV.  That’s fine because in general, he just gets out of the way and let’s the action unfold, without the need to put exclaimation points on every call.  I know Cohen grew up rooting for the Mets which is why I was puzzled at something he said yesterday. 

Ron Darling, the third guy in the Met booth, was calling the game for the TBS Game of the Week, and over at YES, David Cone and Ken Singleton were doing with the game with Michael Kay.  Cohen mentioned that the grouping of Hernandez, Darling, Cone and Singleton represented the four best trades in franchise history. 

I get the first three, but to suggest that the Mets got the better of the deal that sent Singleton, Mike Jorgeseon and Tim Foli to the Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub seems misguided at best, sentimental at worst. 

The trade took place on April 2, 1972, a few months shy of Singleton’s 25th birthday.  In his second season with the Expos, Singleton played 162 games, hit .302/.425/.479, with 26 doubles, 23 dingers, 100 runs scored, 103 RBI and 123 walks, good for a 148 OPS+.  In comparison, Rusty Staub’s best season with the Mets from 72-75 was 1975 when he hit .282/.371/.448 in 155 games, with 30 doubles, 19 dingers, 93 runs scored and 105 RBI, good for an OPS+ of 131.  Staub was three years older than Singleton and by 1979 he was a platoon player.  In a long, 23-year career, Staub’s line is .279/.362/.431.  In a much shorter career (15 seasons), Singleton’s line is .282/.388/.436.  After the trade, Singleton put up OPS+ seasons of 153, 165, 152, 155, and 142.  They were all full seasons.  Staub, put up OPS+ seasons of 131 and 137 in full seasons, and 147 as a pinch-hitter for the Mets in 1981.

Jorgensen and Foli had some productive seasons too. 

Maybe it’s me.  I was too young to follow the team during the early 70s but looking at the numbers, I’d say this was one of the worst trades in Met history. 

Tough Love

Joe Girardi has yet to be impressed with Ian Kennedy.

Here is the latest from Tyler Kepner and Pete Abe:

"Right now we’re not really thinking of him," he said. "We like the way our other (starters) are throwing the ball. I mean, you have to earn your call-up. … You have to earn your spot back. You have to pitch well to earn your spot back. He has to pitch well. He was optioned out, this is him getting right. This is like the other 175 players in the minor leagues, or however many there are."

You Can Have Anything You Want, But Not Everything

I wanted a split, and I wanted the Yanks to beat Oliver Perez. I got the split. Perez didn’t throw a three-hitter as I feared, it was a two-hitter. Seven innings. And he didn’t walk a batter. Believe that. Eight K’s too. The Mets’ southpaw, fighting to remain in the rotation, was brilliant on Sunday as the Mets shut the Yankees down, 3-1. The Yanks had four hits on the afternoon.

The best moment of the game came in the fourth with Derek Jeter on second and the Mets ahead, 2-0. Perez fell behind Alex Rodriguez 3-0, and then Rodriguez destroyed the 3-1 pitch, high and foul to left field. So close… The TV cut to the blimp angle which showed lightning cracking through the New York sky–it started raining but the game wasn’t delayed. Perez fired two more fastballs and Rodriguez put good swings on them but could only foul them back. Another fastball, foul tip. I kept waiting for him to go to the slider. But Perez challenged Rodriguez with another fastball, right in Rodriguez’s kitchen. Rodriguez swung and missed it. It was a Junior Miss Bob Welch-Reggie scene (Rodriguez just missed all day long; in his next at-bat, he skied a pop-out two miles in the air, and in the ninth, he narrowly missed a homer against Billy Wagner).

Darrell Rasner did okay; Jose Reyes had another lapse in form, as he threw down his glove in anger after making a throwing error in the eighth inning (a ball first baseman Carlos Delgado should have caught), but the Mets got a much-needed win all the same. Delgado had a solo homer, Bill Wagner got the save.

You Must Remember This


If the Yankees could only win one game this weekend I wanted it to be today’s game. That’s what I was saying all last week. I said two things: I hope the Yankees split the series and if they can only win one, let them beat Oliver Perez on Sunday. Perez is like AJ Burnett to me. Not as good, but still. Loads of talent, great "stuff" yet hopelessly erratic. Million Dollar Arm, Ten Cent Head kind of guy.

Of course, I’m more than half-expecting Perez to go out and throw a three-hitter. Walk five guys but still win.  He is 4-1 lifetime vs. the Yanks.



The Realness

Mr. Freeze was at it again today–making it look easy at the end of a long afternoon that included a rain delay.  The Yankees did their part against Johan Santana (7-7) who was good, not great, giving up three runs in six innings.  Good enough to lose.  The home plate ump didn’t help him any, either.  Andy Pettitte (9-5) was better, allowing two runs over six, solo shots to David Wright and Ramon Castro respectively.  

Jose Reyes got himself picked off of second base with another runner on first and David Wright at the plate in the fifth.  It was the play of the game.  Yesterday, Emma wrote that the Yankees left runners on base like it was going out of style.  Today, the Mets had plenty of Girbaud’s sagging around the bases.  Carlos Beltran whiffed four times.  Veras and Farnsworth held the Mets in check in the seventh and eighth and then came Rivera, who has been as automatic as he’s ever been in his long career. 

Carlos Delgado was first and Rivera fed him string of cutters.  Delgado got good wood on one of them but it was a pitch designed to be hit foul.  With two strikes, Rivera showed no mercy; instead of trying to freeze Delgado with a fastball on the outsider corner, he buried another cutter in on the hands.  It looked like a wicked, late-breaking slider and Delgado had no chance, swinging over it and catching nothing but a breeze.  Fernando Tatis was next, he took the first two pitches, and found himself ahead 2-0.  But Rivera evened the count and then got Tatis to hit a soft fly ball to Abreu for the second out.  Trot Nixon was last and he went quickly–swinging at two inside cutters and then looking at a fastball on the outside corner. 

It wasn’t fair but it was swift.  Twelve pitches, ten strikes, 0.74 ERA. When he’s on his game, Rivera truly is The Unfair One.

Yankees 3, Mets 2.

Andy and Mo are a good combination, you could look it up


Southpaw Special

It is hot and hazy, muggy and awful in New York today. A late afternoon start pits Andy Pettitte against Johan Santana. Promises to be a good one.

Let’s Go Yan-Kees!

Yankee Panky # 56: Random Thoughts

Working from home has many benefits. What does that have to do with this column? It’s nice to have the game on in the background — even if it’s on mute — while conducting conference calls and closing deals. It’s also nice to walk five feet to the den when Game 2 comes on and you can just veg out and absorb New York baseball.

Watching the night game of the Shea half of Subway Series XII — with the sound on, this time — got me thinking about a lot of things about the events of yet another Day-Night Doubleheader in the City. 

• Mike Francesa’s conniption on the air yesterday was hysterical. Echoing much of the fan sentiment, he railed on the Yankees’ relief pitching, primarily Edwar (leave off the last "D" for disappointing), "Mr. Wonderful" Ross Ohlendorf, and LaTroy Hawkins, who has not been the same since stealing Paul O’Neill’s number. As part of the rant, he claimed that the Yankees need to buck up and spend the money to get a starting pitcher, as they will not make the playoffs with three dependable starters. I agree with one point he made, however: to not have a lefty in the bullpen when you have a $220 million payroll — and no, Kei Igawa doesn’t count — is unacceptable.

• Michael Kay mentioned how yesterday was not considered a doubleheader, it was two separate games, and would be treated as such. Had the Mets won the regularly scheduled night game, it would not have been a sweep. Since the Yankees won, it’s not considered a split. The Yankees won one game, and the Mets won another.

Huh? This logic is like the scene in "The Princess Bride" when Westley and Vezzini are matching wits to see who will drink the wine goblet spiked with Iocane powder. I wish I was there to see the looks on the faces of David Cone and Ken Singleton.

To quote a T-shirt that one of my colleagues at the office wears: "If a tree falls in the forest, do the other trees laugh at it?"


A Good Combination

Join Will Carroll, Jay Jaffe, Steve Goldman, Joe Sheehan and Derek Jacques for a good, old-fashioned BP pizza feed on Monday night at Foleys, starting at 8 pm.  I’ll be there as well.  Love to see ya. 



Fufkin Follies


The Yanks and Mets took turns kicking each other in the ass yesterday. The Yankees wasted scoring opportunities early against Mike Pelfry in the first game and the Mets returned the favor against Sir Sidney later at Shea. Writing in the New York Times, Jack Curry, who ghosted Derek Jeter’s autobiography, was critical of the Yankee captain in Game One:

Before the Yankees’ bullpen imploded, Derek Jeter made a questionable choice in the fourth. With Melky Cabrera on first and no outs, Jeter, who entered the day with a .386 average against the Mets, sacrificed Cabrera to second. The Yankees pay Jeter $19 million a season to hit, not to bunt. While it would be illogical to blame a nine-run loss on one misguided bunt, the Mets outscored the Yankees, 12-2, after the Yankees left the bases loaded in the fourth.

It was one forgotten bunt in a marathon game, but it was one of the plays that wounded the Yankees and revived the Mets. The Mets used some erratic Yankee relievers as their smelling salts, pelting them the way Jeter usually pelts the Mets. But Ponson, the unlikely savior, made sure it was not a futile day for his new team, helping it gain a split.

Today’s game doesn’t start until close to four. Pettitte v. Santana promises to be a good one.

Tainted Love


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Yanks return the favor, blast Pedro, Mets: 9-0. 

…Do We HAVE to Play Two?

Alternate title: Giese Guys Finish Last



The Subway Series got off to an ever so slightly rocky start for the Yankees this afternoon with a muggy, slow 15-6 crushing. Dan Giese was both uncharacteristically sloppy and, apparently, contagious, as the Yanks’ bullpen spent much of the afternoon in the throes of a prolonged nervous breakdown. The result was a rout that … wait, what was that noise?! Did you guys hear that? Oh, never mind – it’s just Carlos Delgado’s massive sixth inning grand slam finally landing.

Ahem. Anyway, neither starter was all that great today– Pelfrey only made it through five innings – but the Yankees kept stranding runners like it was going out of style, for a grand total of lucky 13, while the Mets let neither Giese or any of his ineffective replacements off the hook.

But, on the plus side… it only took four hours!

There were too many big hits today to recap in full, but here are the essentials: the Mets took the lead in the first inning on a David Wright RBI single, then again in the third on a Carlos Beltran home run, and finally for good on a Carlos Delgado double off Edwar Ramirez in the fifth. Delgado’s back-breaking grand slam — deep, deep, DEEP into the right field bleachers — came just an inning later, off of Ross Ohlendorf, and Delgado went on to set a new Mets franchise record with nine RBIs, after an additional three-run homer two innings later.

The Yankees did have their moments early on – Giambi and his ‘Stache of Doom came through again; Jeter banged out his 400th career double; A-Rod 3 for 4 with a long home run – but nothing that really constitutes an even silver-ish lining.

In fact, this could be a pretty tough weekend all around for the Yankees, given the pitching matchups. Obviously it goes without saying that baseball’s a funny game, and anything can happen on a given day, and blah blah blah, but: Sir Sidney Ponson vs. Pedro Martinez? Oy. Sure, Pedro’s not his old self, and his last start was a disaster… that still just doesn’t sound good, does it?

Those of you brave enough to face the Ponson Adventure this evening, comment away here. I’d recommend emulating tonight’s starting pitcher in at least one regard, though, and keeping plenty of booze on hand.


The first of two will be played in the Bronx.  Then, a trek cross town for the night game at Shea.  I’m hoping the Yanks come away with a split this weekend. 

Observations From Cooperstown–To Trade Or Not To Trade

Should the Yankees continue to take "Melk" with their outfield cup of coffee? That was the question posed earlier this week in an interesting New York Sun article by the Yes Network’s Steven Goldman. An able and long time chronicler of the Yankees, Goldman feels the Yankees should shop Melky Cabrera, making him a key piece of a package for a pitcher that could cushion the blow caused by Chien-Ming Wang’s foot injury. I’m inclined to agree with Goldman, though I do think the Yankees should wait a few weeks until the timing is just right to move their starting center fielder.

At one time I was a major supporter of Cabrera, fully believing that he would become the next Roy White, but with a much stronger arm that would allow him to play center field on an everyday basis. I saw Cabrera as a player who could hit .280 with lots of walks, hit 15 home runs a year, steal 20 to 25 bases, and give the Yankees above-average defense in center field. I have my doubts now. Though still only 24, Cabrera just isn’t improving. He could still hit 15 long balls a year, but I’m starting to think he might be a .260 hitter who doesn’t draw as many walks (his bases on balls rates are going down, not up), and a defender who repeatedly takes bad breaks on balls hit over his head. I’m thinking more Roberto Kelly now than I am Roy White. That doesn’t make Cabrera a bad player; he just appears that much closer to average, making it imperative that the Yankees surround him with star players in left and/or right field. And given the age of Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, who knows what the Yankees will be throwing out in left and right field as we move closer to 2010.

Inevitably, the question becomes: who replaces Cabrera? As Goldman points out, the Yankees have a solid candidate in Triple-A center fielder Brett Gardner, who has always been capable of getting on base, but has added more power and better defense to his minor league resume this summer. Some of the Sabermetric naysayers downplay Gardner, projecting him as no more than a No. 4 outfielder because of his lack of power. I’ve read at least one analyst predict that he’ll amount to nothing more than Jason Tyner. But Gardner’s numbers indicate to me that he could just as easily become another Brett—Brett Butler—who was one of the most underrated outfielders of the late 1980s and nineties. Butler never hit more than nine home runs in a single season, but he somehow managed to achieve a nearly .380 lifetime on-base percentage while playing capably in center field. Yes, I’ll take anything close to that from Gardner, who at last look was sporting a .414 on-base percentage with 30 stolen bases and three home runs for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

According to all of the scouting reports I’ve seen, Gardner has far more speed and slightly more range than Cabrera, which should make up for the difference in arm strength. The fact that Gardner bats left-handed shouldn’t be a deterrent either. Although Cabrera is a switch-hitter, he has never hit particularly well from the right side, so he does nothing for the Yankees’ problems against left-handed pitching. Another part of Cabrera’s problem is his streakiness. When he’s hot, as he was earlier this season, he looks like a player on the verge of a breakthrough. But that is invariably followed by a long cold snap, which makes him a drain on the back end of the Yankee lineup. Cabrera finds himself in such a slump right now, which is why the Yankees should wait before pulling the trigger on a deal. A .254 hitter with middling power won’t draw much on the trade market, but a .280 hitter with that same level of power and a dose of speed might. If the Yankees are smart, they’ll wait for the next Cabrera hot streak, which might be timed to happen just before the July 31st trading deadline.

That brings us to our next problem, which is general manager Brian Cashman. Frankly, I’ve lost all confidence in Cashman’s ability to do anything but wait for the next pitching prospect to get hot at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Cashman really doesn’t make trades any more, now does he? Quick now, name the last trade of substance that Cashman has made. It took me awhile to remember that it was the Scott Proctor-for-Wilson Betemit exchange, a smart transaction by Cashman but one that has had little impact on the Yankees given Betemit’s frequent injuries and backup status. So quick now, what was the last major trade that Cashman made, one that did have an impact? If we don’t count the Gary Sheffield deal, which thus far has had no positive impact on the major league roster, then the answer would be the Bobby Abreu trade, which dates all the way back to July of 2006. Let’s face it, Cashman isn’t exactly Charlie Finley, Whitey Herzog, or Trader Lane when it comes to making swaps.

So what has happened with Cashman? I get the feeling that, much like former general managers Terry Ryan and Bill Stoneman, he just doesn’t like to make trades. Or perhaps he’s been burned by so many of his trades involving pitchers that he’s become gun-shy. Whatever the reason, he’d prefer to hold onto all of his prospects, especially his pitching prospects, which he hordes as if he were stocking up on canned goods during War of the Worlds. Heck, he won’t even trade pitching prospects for prospects who play other positions—like catcher and shortstop, where the Yankees could use future help—which explains why over 60 per cent of the Yankees’ 40-man roster consists of pitchers. Since trading Cabrera alone is not going to bring back a frontline pitcher, the inclusion of prospects will become a necessity to any trade.

Packaging Cabrera with one or two pitching prospects (guys not named Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy) might bring the Yankees the kind of frontline starter they will likely need to catch the Rays and maybe even the Red Sox in the American League East. Without such an addition (someone like C.C. Sabathia, Erik Bedard, or Joe Blanton), the Yankees might have to settle for third place. And third gets you nothing in baseball these days—except a cliched cry of "Wait ‘Til Next Year."

Bruce Markusen writes "Cooperstown Confidential" for MLB.com.

Lucky Lou, Buck Tater and Heartbreak in Boston

My good pal Hank Waddles has an interview with Richard Bradley, author of The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of ’78, over at Broken Cowboy:

BC: You mentioned that you spoke to a lot of players and people connected with the game. Even though we’re talking about a game that was played thirty years ago, I’m guessing that the people you spoke with didn’t have any trouble recalling its details. Were you surprised by how vivid some of the memories were?

RB: Actually I was surprised at how faulty some of the memories were. I think this is something that happens with iconic events. At some point, say, a faulty memory might get introduced into the conversation, people misremember things just a little bit, and then they repeat it over and over again until it becomes established fact, at least in their own minds. I’ll give you an example. I went down to Florida to meet with Bucky Dent, and I was talking to him about his home run which he hit on a 1-1 count. Remember, this is one of the most famous home runs in the history of the game, far and away the most famous thing that Bucky Dent ever did on the playing field, and Bucky thought – and was adamant – that he had hit that home run with two strikes on him. He said that, and my ears kind of perked up, and I interjected and said, "Actually, no, there weren’t two strikes." And he said, "Oh, yeah there were." And I felt kinda bad, because…

BC: Because you had seen the tape.

RB: Who am I to say to Bucky Dent what the count was? But in fact, I’d always wondered because the first pitch of that at bat was arguably a strike and a check swing by Dent. And I’ve always wondered if on some level in his memory he didn’t sort of think that maybe that had been a strike, and maybe he remembered it that way.

Here is an excerpt from the book. Enjoy.

Warshed Out

Yankee life, says Mike Mussina; minor league life, says Dan Giese.  Either way, last night’s game will be made up on July 10th.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver