The controversy continues to rage: Should a grown man answer to the name of Chipper? My vote is no, unless you appeared in a '60s sitcom starring Fred MacMurray, or are hitting over .400 in the major leagues. Here's to Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves, who is hitting .420 as of Thursday night after the Braves beat the Brewers 8-1. Larry Wayne Jones Jr. was 2-for-4 with two walks, and following the game talked about being a shoo-in to make the NL All-Star roster for the first time since 2001. You'd think that would put him in a good mood, but no.
"Honestly it's a shame that I've got to go out and hit .400 for two months to make an All-Star team," Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's kind of depressing to me because I've had — to me — what I think are some pretty good first halves, what I think is a pretty good career, and I haven't made an All-Star team since '01. ... But I'll take it. Got to make a splash to get people's attention? Got to make a splash."
Mr. Jones is used to being the second choice. The franchise wanted to draft Todd Van Poppel in the worst way in the 1990 amateur draft, but Van Poppel refused to play in Atlanta, so went with Jones as Plan B. All they got in return was an infielder who trails only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray on the all-time switch hitters career home run list. Van Poppel of course went on to become part owner of the Denton Outlaws, where my strong suspicion is that he inhabits this costume.
It's nice to see someone chase a hallowed milestone non-chemically, although Jones has a long way to go. The player to take .400 the farthest since Ted Williams did it was George Brett, who was at .400 on Sept. 19, 1980. Sports Illustrated has a rundown of serious assaults on .400 here, and Dugout Central examines the subject via Williams' book, The Science of Hitting, here.
On Thursday, Mark Teixeira had a homer and four RBI and Jorge Campillo, who was playing for the Culiacan Tomato Growers in 2004 (where he still plays Winter League ball), earned the win and got his first major league hit, a single.
• Record Heat. Randy (No Lawn Trespassing) Johnson fanned nine to tie Roger Clemens for second place on the all-time strikeout list, but what's more amazing is that the Giants swept the three-game series from the Diamondbacks. Randy Winn’s homer in the ninth provided a 4-3 victory. Johnson passed Clemens last year, as you may recall, but got injured, with Clemens then retaking second place.
• The Cult Of Jesse Litsch. Jesse Litsch won his fifth straight decision and extended his scoreless streak to 16 innings, and Rod Barajas had three doubles and three RBI to lead the Jays of Blue over the Athletics, 12-0.
• Simply The Best. Yes, these are the home fans of the best team in baseball. Nice going, God! Alfonso Soriano had a two-run single as the Cubs won their fourth straight, 8-4 over the Rockies, to put their record at 33-21, best in the majors.
• X Games. Jason Bay and Xavier Nady homered to lead the Pirates to a 7-2 win over the Reds, ending Cincinnati's home winning streak at nine games.
• Wizard Cat Defensive Player Of The Game. Kazuo Matsui, Houston Astros. From the land of Hello Kitty comes the second-base stylings of Kazuo Matsui, who makes this dive-and-twist to throw out the fleet Cesar Izturis of the Cardinals. Wizard Cat gives this play: Three wands.
So it's Friday, time for the Best of Wizard Cat's Mailbag!
• Dear Wizard Cat: I hope you know that your dabbling in the dark arts will only lead to eternity in cat hell. Repent now! — Joaquin Andujar and the Funky Bunch
• Dear Wizard Cat, I was recently friended by that friending whore josereyes.theroof wishes to perform Tim Harris's sack-dance for you. Do they make an ointment for that? — RachelRayIsTheDevil
• Wizard Cat, Can you please zap LaTroy Hawkins into some sort of small amphibian? Maybe, then, Joe Girardi will stop putting him into games. ...Maybe. — Pennington Noodlearm
• Wizard Cat, I'm not one to go questioning your methodology, but since Willie Randolph still has a job, shouldn't he automatically be named Wizard Cat Defensive Player of the Day? This is after all defensing the indefensible. Thanks, Jews For Purple Jesus
• Wizard Cat, As evidenced in the photo below, last night my puppy overtook DUAN and killed Nightmare Ant. Are you willing to co-rule the kingdom with him? — pr0FF3ss0r_j3rkwh3at
Contact Wizard Cat at Wizardcat@live.com