Because of last Monday's historic day, it has been two weeks since I put together a full SB Nation New York MLB Notebook. And, I don't want to delay anything so here were last week's top stories and some thoughts (remember your thoughts are welcomed):
Francisco Liriano's shining moment: Despite not lighting up the 2011 stat sheet or last Tuesday night's box score, Minnesota Twins' Liriano tossed the season's first no-hitter, which included 123 pitches, six walks and just two strikeouts -- and almost a heart attack by a white, 20-something Rajon Rondo.
Yes, Liriano's no-no wasn't pretty, but it still counts. (My only issue with a no-hitter is if it comes in a shortened game or it features a run. That bothers me. However, Liriano didn't allow a run and ended up pitching his first complete game of his career.) Personally, I was extremely happy for Liriano because I knew the struggles he has had since Tommy John surgery in '06. Over the course of his recovery, I was able to interview him a few times in '08 when he was playing with the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins Triple-A squad, and trying to find his control. It took awhile, but Liriano returned to the big leagues in '09 and finally showed signs of his '06 self last season. Liriano isn't what he used to be, but at least he's got this piece of history to be proud of.
Justin Verlander (second) no-no: Saturday night, Verlander became the 27th pitcher (or 26th?) in MLB history to toss two no-hitters -- the first came in '07 versus the Milwaukee Brewers. Verlander, who currently is 3-3 and is third in innings pitched (57) in the MLB, had a perfect game heading into the eighth inning, but walked Blue Jays catcher J.P.
Verlander's piece of history was prettier than Liriano's, but like I said I have a bit more of an attachment to Liriano's. However, what these two no hitters prove is that pitchers are still dominating, which was the trend last season, and it looks like it will stay that way.
"Heading into Friday's games, 13 teams (including the Mariners at 3.75) were scoring four runs a game or fewer,' wrote Seattle Times baseball reporter Larry Stone late Saturday night. "For comparison, the highest per team average was 5.4 in April 2000. The lowest-scoring team that year, the Phillies, averaged 4.4. The MLB average this April was 4.3."
In my opinion, I am big fan of baseball's future. With the exception of the NFL, the sports world is becoming very fan specific, and I believe the purists and true fans of baseball -- and maybe I am in the minority, but doubt it -- love 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 contests. The fans who are going to stick with the sport through thick and thin love watching great pitching, good defense and late-inning offense that creates outstanding drama. These fans love watching three-hour games, having their team's closer come in from the bullpen and complete a save (opposing fans love when they blow it). Fans also love witnessing a nicely executed hit-and-run, suicide squeeze, clutch double plays or a walk-off hit (home run).
There's nothing better than sitting in the stands, or at home, and feeling the tension. Yes, home runs are cool but I hope this pitching/defense trend continues for a long time.
Andre Ethier's hit streak ended at 30 games: For all that's has been going wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization this season, outfielder Andre Ethier as been the only right thing. Ethier had a 30-game hit streak heading into Saturday night's matchup against the New York Mets, but couldn't extended it to 31 in 3-2 loss at Citi Field.
On Sunday, Ethier hit a two-run homer to help the Dodgers beat the Mets, 4-2, and earn just their second win in eight tries. On the season, Ethier is third overall in batting average (.371), while LA is 16-19 and sits in a tie for third place in the NL West.
Baseball players behaving badly: Cleveland Indians star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was arrested last Monday morning. According to police, the South Korean blew a .20, which is two and a half times the legal limit of .08. The police video tells the rest of the story:
According to SB Nation Cleveland:
"Choo, 28, is the second Indians player to be arrested for a DUI this year as Austin Kearns was arrested in February on similar charges. It seems that this is almost a growing trend in baseball as Derek Lowe, Coco Crisp, Miguel Cabrera and Adam Kennedy have also been arrested for driving under the influence this season."
Now, I was pretty shocked to learn that there has been six MLBers who have DUI infractions this season. What's even more interesting is why the MLB front office has not done more to discourage this behavior -- like handing out lengthy suspensions.
Sooner rather than later, some baseball player is going to do something really bad while drunk behind the wheel, and Commissioner Bud Selig will need to address it. I just don't understand why there are no policies in place -- like the steroids policy -- to make a player at least think about drinking and driving.
Weekly Nugget No. 1: Leading the MLB Standings are: New York Yankees (19-13) and Tampa Bay Rays (20-14) in the AL East; AL Central -- Cleveland Indians (22-11); AL West -- Los Angeles Angels (20-15); NL East -- Philadelphia Phillies (22-11); NL Central -- St. Louis Cardinals (20-15); NL West -- Colorado Rockies (18-14).
Weekly Nugget No. 2: For the second week in a row, I hit the job cycle -- working four different jobs in one week. On Monday, I led off as a substitute teacher; Tuesday/Wednesday, I was a prep cook at a golf course; Wednesday night, I worked as a cook at another local restaurant; while on Saturday, I delivered flowers for Mother's Day weekend. If I had my way, I would have just stayed at first base, which would be working at SB Nation New York full time.
Weekly Nugget No. 3: Here are the league's offensive leaders as of Monday: Batting average -- St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday (.398); Home runs -- New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson and Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano each have 11; RBI -- STL's Lance Berkman (32); Stolen bases -- Houston Astros' Michael Bourne (13).
Weekly Nugget No. 4: In Central New York there were 19 straight days of precipitation with no sun. Now, I am not comparing New York's horrible weather with that of the South's, which features deadly tornadoes and floods, but because of the lack of dry weather my lawn looks like a jungle. I swear, last night I heard a Tiger growl. Time to hop on the mower.