BASEBALL IN LOS ANGELES: FROM HIGH HOPES TO THE PITS


FAN FAVORITE LISA’S BOOBYTRAP RETURNS TO FINGER LAKES


HOW ABOUT MATT HARVEY AS NL ALL-STAR GAME STARTER?


OSWALDO ARCIA RIPPING THE BALL FOR TWINS


HOME FLOOR COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE IN NLL TITLE SHOWDOWN


CITO CULVER NO LONGER A SWITCH-HITTER


BUD WAS A DUD IN CONTROVERSIAL NON-RULING


When this Major League Baseball season began, two of the highest-rated teams were the American League Angels and the National League Dodgers.


It was entirely reasonable to project an All-Los Angeles World Series.


We’re only two weeks into May and the Angels and Dodgers are in deep trouble. They’re loaded with high-priced, high-profile players, but too many of them have more impressive bank accounts than performance lines. Injuries are a major factor, but both teams appear to have too many fat-cat players. Some of them could be coasting. They lack financial incentive because they’re making so much guaranteed money for so many more years.


Angels: They have the seventh-highest payroll in baseball and were expected to have an awesome batting attack with newcomer Josh Hamilton to complement Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendick. So far, no good...Hamilton appears smaller (hint hint?) and lost at the plate. Pujols is playing with a painful foot injury and has no speed in the field or on the bases. Trout has been OK but not great.

He and Trumbo figure to step up, but would it be too late?...Pitching has been disappointing. (4.66 ERA ranks 13th in the 15-team AL). Ace Jered Weaver has been sidelined since suffering a left elbow injury in his second start. Joe Blanton is 0-6. The bullpen has been spotty...The team expected to overpower opponents has been outscored 176-142 and outhomered 42-38. The Angels lead the AL with 27 errors...Manager Mike Scioscia is feeling the heat despite a long-term contract...The team is playing with no confidence and pressing in the tough AL West (Texas is 21-13; the Angels are 12-22)...I’m not giving up yet on this team but I’m already worried.



Dodgers: The second-highest-paid team in baseball (behind only the Yankees) enter Friday on a seven-game losing streak and have a 13-20 record. They rank 11th in the 15-team NL in runs, slugging percentage and total bases. Lack of clutch hitting has been the biggest disappointment...Star outfielders Matt Kemp (.272) and Andre Ethier (.243) have combined for only 4 HRs and 24 RBI...Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has missed all but four games because of injuries...The hottest hitter has been second baseman Nick Punto. That won’t last...Third baseman Luiz Cruz was hitting .090 (6x67) when he lost his starting job...Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw (3-2 record; 1.62 ERA) has received very little hitting support, Expensive free-agent import Zack Greinke suffered a broken collarbone during his second start of the season. He will return soon...I still believe the Dodgers can make the playoffs. A lineup including Kemp, Ethier, Carl Crawford and healthy Adrian Gonzalez and Henley Ramirez would be imposing. No team has a better RH-LF starting duo than Greinke and Kershaw...But the NL West is a very tough division (San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado and improving San Diego). It will be a tough climb.



LISA’S BOOBYTRAP IS BACK AND SHE LOOKS SHARP


Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack fan favorite Lisa’s Boobytrap returned to the races on Tuesday and won for the first time since Nov. 7, 2011.


The six-year-old mare attracted national attention three summers ago with an improbable rags-to-riches story after she was purchased in Florida by struggling trainer Tim Snyder for $4,500 ($2,000 down plus the balance to be paid if and when won anything on the track). She was unraced, had a club foot and was blind in one eye, but Snyder believed she had potential as a runner.


Tim thought the filly was somehow connected to his late wife, Lisa, who had died of cancer after telling him that she’d like to be reincarnated as a racehorse. He named the filly after Lisa a strip club near a track in Florida.


Snyder solved Lisa’s Boobytrap’s ailments and she suddenly became a racing sensation. She rolled up a string of lopsided victories at Finger Lakes and then won a minor stakes race at Saratoga. Snyder turned down big-money offers and vowed to never sell her.


Lisa’s Boobytrap had some problems in 2012 and raced only three times. She had two seconds and one third.


She was quietly entered in a $20,600 allowance raceTuesday afternoon at Finger Lakes. She went off at even money in a tough field of five, including Nicole’s Miss El (second in last year’s Susan B. Anthony Stakes) and hard-knocking gelding Too Tough Pete. She took the lead at the break and won in wire-to-wire fashion. Her time (59:39 seconds) was the quickest five-furlong time for the young season.


Thumbs up to Tim Snyder for his patient handling to get his bread-winning pet back in gear and to the races. Her career line: 17 races...10 wins...2 seconds...3 thirds...career earning $180,000-plus.

Not a bad return on his $4,500 investment.



BASEBALL FACTS, STATS AND OPINIONS


Is it too early to suggest that Matt Harvey start the All-Star Game for the National League? In his seven starts this season, he has a 4-0 record and 1.28 ERA. His WHIP (hits + walks per inning) is a craszy 0.69. In 49 1/3 innings, he has allowed only 22 hits, with 12 walks and 58 strikeouts. Opponents have a .133 batting average...Some folks already are comparing him to Tom Seaver. That’s premature. Mets fans and media once said that about Dwight Gooden and look what happened to him. Hopefully, Harvey will take his job more seriously than Doc did.



--Adam Dunn (White Sox) is one of the toughest players to judge in baseball history. He has awesome power walks a lot and hits plenty of home runs (412 and counting – slowly). But he doesn’t hit enough singles, whiffs far too much, can’t field and is ridiculously slow afoot (his nickname is Big Donkey).


He was AL Comeback Player of the Year for 2012. He deserved it. Check out his numbers for 2011, 2012 and so far this season:
2011 -- .159 batting average (66x415)...11 HRs...42 RBI...75 walks...177 strikeouts


2012 -- .204 batting average (110x539)...41 HRs...96 RBI...105 walks...222 strikeouts


2013 -- .145 batting average (16x110)...6 HRs...12 RBI...12 walks...41 strikeouts.


--Update on How the projected Rochester Red Wings starting outfield is doing with the parent MinnesotaTwins):


LF Wilken Ramirez – 14 games... .346 batting average (9x26)...2 doubles...5 RBI


CF Aaron Hicks – 29 games... .133 batting average (13x98)...13 runs...2 doubles...1 triple...1 HR...13 RBI...14 walks...34 strikeouts...3 stolen bases


RF Oswaldo Arcia – 18 games... .313 batting average (20x64)...4 doubles...3 HRs...11 RBI.


--I thought the Yankees made a mistake in counting too much on closer Mariano Rivera and failing to retain Rafael Soriano as an expensive set-up man and closer insurance. They’re both doing very well this season:


Rivera – 15 games...13 saves...1.88 ERA...0.98 WHIP...14 1/3 innings...12 hits...2 walks...12 Ks


Soriano (Washington) – 16 games...12 saves...2.25 ERA...0.88 WHIP...16 innings...11 hits...3 walks...13 Ks.


--Mets and Twins reject Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee) leads the National League with a .386 batting average (44x144; 9 doubles; 3 triples; 6 HRs; 14 RBI; NL-best .675 slugging percentage and 1.106 OPS)...He is one of MLB’s biggest surprises so far this season. He always had the raw talent and finally has learned how to use it – at least for now).



KNIGHTHAWKS VS. STEALTH AN EVEN MATCH


The Rochester Knighthawks will attempt to defend their 2012 National Lacrosse League championship Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, against the Washington Stealth in Langley, B.C.


By all measures, these are two evenly-matched teams:


Regular-season records – Stealth 9-7...Knighthawks 8-8
Goal differential – Knighthawks +14 (179-165)...Stealth +1 (193-192)
Power play percentage – Knighthawks 49.2 (29x58)...Stealth 45.9 (34x74)


Shots on goal – Stealth 787...Knighthawks 739


Turnovers – Knighthawks 426...Stealth 462


Faceoff percentage – Stealth 61.9...Knighthawks 35.5


Washington appears to be the better offensive team, but Rochester is the better defensive team by a wider margin.


The Stealth have three big-time scoring threats: Rhys Duch (first-team NLL All-Pro), Lewis Ratcliff and former league MVP  Athan Iannucci.

They combined for 98 goals and 112 assists this season.


Washington’s Mike Grimes was NLL second-team All-Pro defenseman this season.


Rochester has a significant advantage in goal with three-time All-Pro first team pick Matt Vinc over Tyler Richards.


The teams opened the season Jan. 5 in Washington. Attendance was 7,023. The Stealth won 13-12 in a game the Knighthawks did not get the better of the calls. That happens sometimes to road teams in the NLL.


Rochester won the rematch 7-6 at home Feb. 2 before 7,914 fans.
My prediction: The Stealth over the Knighthawks 14-12...Washington is due. This is the third trip to the title game in the last four years for Washington. And the home-field advantage is a big plus in the NLL...I won’t be surprised if Rochester wins and Dan Dawson is game MVP in pursuit of his first NLL title.


REMEMBER JOSE MESA?


The list of the all-time 133 pitchers who have at least 100 saves in Major League Baseball includes seven former Rochester Red Wings:


Jose Mesa – 321 MLB (14th on the list)


Joe Nathan – 306 (20th)


Armando Benitez – 289 (29th)


Danny Graves – 182 (56th)


Darold Knowles – 143 (t81st)


Joe Borowski – 131 (92nd)


B.J. Ryan – 117 (t106th).


Nathan appeared in three games on rehab for the Red Wings in 2011...Knowles has the distinction of being the only pitcher to appear in every game of a seven-game World Series.


UPDATING MINNESOTA’S FARM TEAMS


Since the Rochester Red Wings began the season 2-11, they were 12-9 entering Friday night.


Minnesota’s three other full-season affiliates started strong and haven’t cooled off:


New Britain Rock Cats (AA Eastern League) – 18-15 record...outscoring opponents by 31 runs (177-146)...4.04 ERA (7th of 12 teams)


Fort Myers Miracle (Advanced A Florida State League) – 26-7 record...outscoring opponents by 56 runs (189-133)...3.55 ERA (4th of 12 teams)


Cedar Rapids Kernals (Class A Midwest League) – 21-9

record...outscoring opponents by 51 runs (183-132)...3.65 ERA (5th of 16 teams).


New Britain, Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids all are leading their leagues in runs scored.



SHORT SHOTS


Rochester’s Cito Culver, the first-round draft pick of the New York Yankees, has yet to blossom as Derek Jeter’s potential successor at shortstop. He recently became a strictly right-handed batter. The former switch-hitter is hitting .221 (27x122) for the Charleston Riverdogs (Single-A South Atlantic League), with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs, 11 RBI, 2x4 stolen bases, 16 walks and 38 strikeouts...Last season, he hit .215 with 2 HRs and 40 RBI for the Riverdogs...Cito is only 20 so he has plenty of time to improve.



Baseball commissioner Bud Selig blew it Thursday. He should have ordered Wednesday night’s controversial “double” by Oakland’s Adam Rosales a home run to tie the score 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning and resumed play at that point on Thursday before the regularly scheduled game in Cleveland in order to determine the legitimate winner.



NBA playoff trends entering Friday night: Home teams are 30-23...26 of the 53 games were decided by 11-or-more points.


NHL playoff trends entering Friday night: Home teams are 21-12...17 of the 33 games were decided by one goal...11 of the 33 games went into overtime.


Sadly, it probably is only a matter of time before a baseball pitcher is killed by a line drive to the head. That being said, I don’t think it is realistic to come up with effective protective headgear that would not be too cumbersome.


NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal this week ranked the NFL’s eight divisions entering the 2013 season: NFC West...NFC North...AFC North...NFC South...NFL East...AFC South...ALC East...AFC West...No arguments here with the four voters (NFC West was unanimously best and AFC West was unanimously worst), but I give the AFC East a chance to improve a notch. Miami appears to be much improved, and Buffalo might also surprise (6-10 to maybe 8-8 tops).


The 95th PGA Championship History exhibit opens May 24 at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The display of rare artifacts and memorabilia will run through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2. The items include Jim Barnes’ driver used to win the inaugural PGA Championship in 1916, a walking stick used legendary Rochester product Walter Hagen; and the wedge used by Phil Mickelson to clinch his 2005 victory...The 95th PGA Championship will be played Aug. 5-11 at Oak Hill Country Club.


In thoroughbred horse racing, owners need permission from famous people in order to names horses after them. I guess New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter passed on the opportunity. Tuesday at Finger Lakes, Jerek Deter, a New York state-bred, was a badly-beaten fourth in his first career start.