First, I was interviewed last week for a soundbite on NPR Marketplace, this time doing a phone interview from work on the return of Roger Clemens. It's maybe five seconds of me, but it was still a lot of fun to do. You can listen to it here.
Second, I wasn't able to make the Rocket's return my Game of the Week (I'd just covered the Twins, and it was too soon to do so again) but the Astros did make it into this week's edition, as I covered Game 1 of the 2005 World Series Memorial Series, featuring two ex-Yanks, Andy Pettitte and Jose Contreras. Here's a taste:
As for the starting pitchers, Jose Contreras has been big news, winning his last fifteen regular-season decisions dating back to a start against his old team, the New York Yankees, last August. We need the qualifier "regular season" in there, because Contreras actually broke his lossless streak in Game One of the ALCS last year. For some reason, we don’t count postseason stats when it comes to streaks, or hitter-batter matchups, which never did make much sense to me. Regardless, anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that Contreras hasn’t been experiencing success far greater than anyone could have predicted when the Yankees dumped his salary on the White Sox in 2004.
Houston’s starter, Andy Pettitte, is also a Yankee alumnus. Pettitte’s had a hard 2006 so far, posting a 5.44 ERA, but his last few outings have been promising--seven runs allowed in his last 20 innings. Still, those last three starts have come against some of the weak sisters of the majors--Atlanta (15th in the majors in runs scored), the Cubs (30th), and the Royals (29th). Hardly undeniable proof of improvement.
You can see the whole article (if you're a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, anyway) here.
I know, less about me and more about the Yankees. The Bombers bullpen backstabbed Jaret Wright last night, coughing up four runs from the seventh inning on, and saddling Wright with the loss against his old team, the Atlanta Braves. Horacio Ramirez held the Pinstripers to one run in eight innings of work, for the win. The booing of Alex Rodriguez continues, as does Alex's ragged play. Something's simmerring here.
Randy Johnson's standout effort on Monday, combined with the Yankees loss, means a rubber game at the Stadium this afternoon, John Smoltz against Chien Ming Wang. Quietly, Wang has run his record to 8-3 on the season. Let's hope he can keep it up against the Braves.
In other news, the Mets and Red Sox play tonight, the second match in their three-game set, Pedro Martinez vs. Josh Beckett. No matter who wins, the Yanks win...and lose. Yes, it's confusing.
And on a more sober note Peter Gammons, the most influential baseball writer of our day, had surgery Wednesday to remove a brain aneurysm. Our prayers go out for Peter's swift and complete recovery.