Barry "Balco" Bonds has stated in the past that he doesn't want to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame if his 756th "Asterisk" ball is displayed, and now the Hall of Fame has called his bluff and will have it on display as soon as the exhibit can be set up.
Whether Bonds will even have a chance to reject admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame remains to be seen since he is not a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, and if he is sentenced to prison for perjury before the Balco grand jury, he will have even less chance of being admitted. If he does go to prison and is admitted to the Hall of Fame, I think Pete Rose should be admitted.
Marc Ecko, who sold the ball for $752,467, had the asterisk added after an internet vote by fans that chose that option for the ball. The other two options were to donate it to the Hall of Fame without the asterisk or blast the ball into outer space.
Bonds called Ecko an idiot for branding the ball with an asterisk, but Ecko, who has his own clothing line that makes a billion dollars annually, really didn't care what Bonds wanted done with the ball and went ahead with the asterisk branding.
In 2013, Hall of Fame voters will be voting on Bonds admittance if his name is on the ballot. That would depend on whether he plays again or not. If he is voted in and is in prison, he would be the first Hall of Fame inductee to make his speech from a prison cell.
Sonnanstine, Kazmir Anchor Tampa Bay Rays Pitching Staff
Not many baseball fans would have thought that Andy Sonnanstine (9-3) would have the best record on the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff after having a 6-10 season with the Rays last year. He has beaten some very good teams this season, with wins over the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Florida Marlins, and won his first start of the season against the New York Yankees. He has not given up more than 3 runs in his last seven starts.
Surprisingly, he has given up 21 more hits than innings pitched this season and finished last season with 21 more hits than innings pitched, but that doesn't matter that much with the Rays' offense hitting the way they have been this season.
Scott Kazmir (7-3) didn't even start his first game this season until May 4th, and that makes Rays fans wonder how far the Rays would have been ahead of the Boston Red Sox if Kazmir hadn't missed 6 or 7 starts. Kazmir didn't allow a home run until his sixth start of the season. Opposing hitters are hitting only .192 against Kazmir, and he is even better when pitching with runners in scoring position, as the other teams hit only .163 against him in that situation.
Matt Garza (7-4) was 5-7 after 15 starts with the Minnesota Twins in 2007, but in 15 starts this year, he is 7-4. He pitched his best game of the season in his most important start of the season when he held the Boston Red Sox scoreless last night.
James Shields (6-5) has pitched better than his record indicates. In two seperate starts against the Yankees, he gave up a total of 4 runs in 12 innings yet lost both games. He gave up one run in 6 innings against the White Sox and had a no decision. The stat that really stands out is that Shields has had 12 starts in which he gave up one or less walks with 4 starts with no walks.
Edwin Jackson (4-6) won his first two starts of the season against the Yankees and Seattle Mariners. Since then, he has been 2-6. He has given up 4 or more runs in 7 starts. In 3 of those starts, he gave up 6 runs. Jackson has won one game since May 24th. To his credit, Jackson pitched 22 innings in three consecutive starts against the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankees, and Cardinals and only allowed only one earned run but received three no decisions in those games. Earlier this season, he pitched 7 innings against the Red Sox and allowed one run but again received a no decision. So, he could easily be 8-6 with any kind of run support in those games.
J.P. Howell (6-0) has been the most solid performer out of the bullpen. Last season, he was 1-6 and was 5-14 lifetime before starting this season. He has pitched 51 innings, both last season and so far this season. He gave up 69 hits in 51 innings last season, but in 51 innings this season, he has given up only 36 hits. So he has given up an amazing 33 less hits in the same number of innings as last year.
Kurt Birkins (0-0) and Grant Balfour (2-0) have pitched a combined 26 innings and have allowed 3 runs and 11 hits.
Dan Wheeler (2-3) has an impressive 1.88 ERA and has only lost once since April 16th. He has the same identical 1.88 ERA this season against both lefthanders and righthanders.
Jason Hammel (3-3) was 3-11 combined in his first two seasons with the Rays. He has a negative stat of having an 8.79 ERA when runners are in scoring position against him, but also has a positive stat in that he has a 1.59 ERA in late innings of close games.
Scott Dohmann (2-0) has a winning record but has a team worst 6.14 ERA, but those two wins have came against the Red Sox showing he can beat the best teams despite the high ERA. Unfortunately for Dohmann, he was sent back to the Minors when Al Reyes returned from the disabled list.
Speaking of Al Reyes (1-2), he had an ERA of 10.38 in April before being placed on the disabled list. He returned to the bullpen on May 14th and had given up only 2 runs in his last eleven appearances before returning to the disabled list but may be returning again soon.
Troy Percival 1-0 is pitching for his fourth different team in the last four years and has pitched well for the Rays with 19 saves in 21 chances. Percival allowed no runs in his first 11 appearances of the season. His May ERA was 5.11 and his June ERA was 5.40. Percival was placed on the 15 day disabled list yesterday, so the Rays will have to decide who will fill the closer spot till he returns.
Around the Bases
Note: Due to the extremely long time it takes to do recaps of 15 games on most days, I am going to write a more general recap of the most important events from the games and other baseball news. It was taking over three hours to do the recaps and look up stats. I am sorry to have to cut back on the recaps but hope the new format will be of interest to the readers. There will be no article tomorrow due to out of town trip for post surgery checkup.
The Rays are the best team in the Majors now, as they posted their 51st win, and are the only team with a winning percentage over .600 with a .614 mark.
No NL West team has a winning record in their last ten games, and the San Diego Padres are the worst team in their last ten games with a 1-9 record. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 5 games under .500 and only 2 1/2 games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Chicago White Sox have the longest current winning streak in the Majors with 6 consecutive wins.
Ian Kinsler is the new batting average leader in the AL with a .324 average.
Rich Harden has allowed more than 3 runs in a game only once this season.
Richie Sexson had 5 homers and 16 RBI's at the end of April, but since then, he had only 4 homers and 5 RBI's in May, and had no homers and 5 RBI's in the month of June before hitting his 10th homer of the season yesterday. In his first two seasons, he had a total of 73 homers, but in the 2007 season and so far this season he only has 31 homers.
Kyle Kendrick (8-3) has only lost once since April 16th, and that loss was to the Red Sox.
Peter Gammons predicted last night that Lance Berkman will win the NL Triple Crown this season. He is only one homer behind the NL home run leaders and is tied for the NL RBI lead. He is close enough to Chipper Jones to have a chance at winning the batting title.
Edinson Volquez has allowed only 4 homers in 104 innings this season after allowing 4 homers in 34 innings last year.
Randy Johnson (4-7) lost his sixth start last night in his loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and has not won since May 18th. His May ERA was 3.19, his June ERA was 6.82, and after his first start in July his July ERA is 17.18. Last night's game was the third of his last four starts in which he allowed 7 earned runs. He also gave up 3 homers in a game for the first time this season last night.
Best Pitching Matchups:
Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1) against Scott Kazmir (7-3)