baseballOff a 91 mph fastball from San Diego Padre pitcher Clay Hensley in the 2nd inning last night at Petco Park.

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Is A-Rod The Next Home Run King?

mlbBarry Bonds hasn't even caught Hank Aaron yet but baseball fans are already wondering if Alex Rodriquez will be the next home run king. A-Rod just hit his 500th earlier today and he just turned 32. That means he needs 255 to reach Aaron's mark and who knows how many to reach Bonds, assuming Bonds eventually sets a new mark.

Thanks to the bestest baseball stat blog on the planet I can tell you that only seven guys have ever hit 255 or more homers from age 32 onward. Even though A-Rod has come this far in record time, he still needs to accomplish a feat only accomplished 7 times in order to become the new career leader in dingers. Here are the 7 who have hit 255 or more homers after the age of 32.

  1. Barry Bonds - 420
  2. Babe Ruth - 358
  3. Hank Aaron - 357
  4. Rafael Palmeiro - 336
  5. Mark McGwire - 306
  6. Willie Mays - 292
  7. Andres Galarraga - 283

A-Rod is still pretty young, and in his prime. If he stays healthy, Bonds' reign will be very, very short.

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Before The Babe, Hank and Barry, There Was Roger Connor

baseballAny day now, Barry Bonds will catch Hank Aaron and become the all-time home run king. Everybody knows that Hank Aaron caught Babe Ruth, but not many people know who held the record before The Babe.

It was Roger Connor who hit 138 home runs during his 18-year career. Think about that for a moment. Babe Ruth took a record of 138 and stretched it to 714. That's not breaking the record, that's obliterating the record.

For cool audio of Hank Aaron hitting 715 and an awesome quote from the New York Times, go here.

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Julio Franco

mlbI'm fascinated by the career of Julio Franco. The Atlanta Braves released the 48 year old yesterday, but I'm hopeful he'll be back in the big leagues. This guy's longevity is astounding.

Thanks to my new favourite blog I can tell you that Julio Franco has faced 1167 different pitchers in his major league career. 857 of those pitchers have already retired, 8 are already in the hall of fame and 15 are dead.

Think about it. This guy is still playing and he's faced Steve Carlton, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver. It just blows my mind that he had three seasons under his belt before our Jays won their first AL East pennant.

We'll close with this little tidbit from Franco's Wikipedia page. Julio Franco was the only active player to face a pitcher who pitched against Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who retired in 1960. The pitcher is Jim Kaat, who played in the majors from 1959 to 1983. Williams had batted against Kaat the final day of the 1959 season, Kaat's rookie year. Kaat walked Franco in the latter's rookie season in 1982.

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And Barry Bonds Can't Play for Everyone

mlbBarry Bonds sent a 2-1 pitch from rookie Rick Vanden Hurk over the wall in left-center in the first inning last night for a solo shot in the San Francisco Giants 12-10 win over the Florida Marlins. It was the 754th home run of his career.

I'm stunned by how muted the hype is surrounding this pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, but I'm not shocked. In addition to the clear (and cream) signs of steroid use, Bonds is one major league son of a bitch. He's nearly impossible to like as a human being, even when acknowledging he might be the best hitter to ever play the game.

Over the past five years, I've written quite a bit about Bonds. It's the Bonds conundrum: he's statistically awesome but he's an arrogant SOB who artificially enhanced his power.

Personally, I'm not happy that this imminent moment will replace the one you're about to hear. Listen to this, enjoy the goosebumps and understand why Barry Bonds hitting 755 and 756 isn't nearly as significant as it ought to be.

Sorry, Barry... but karma can be an awful bitch at times.

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The NBA's Devastating Pill

NBA BasketballThe FBI is investigating Tim Donaghy for allegedly betting on games he officiated during the last two seasons. NBA commissioner David Stern is holding a press conference this morning and he'll hopefully tell us what they knew and when they knew it.

Refs intentionally influencing the outcome of games is a devastating pill to swallow. It's sport poison, for without integrity, sport is theatre.

Check out this footage of Tim Donaghy's final game, a round two playoff game between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

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Soccer Captures My Attention

soccerI realize I just shared my total lack of interest in this soccer thing, but I didn't see this coming. Following their loss to Argentina last night, officers detained several members of the Chilean team after a melee broke out.

As facts leak out, it sounds like the Chile players were a little ticked at the ref and the coppers had to step in to protect the zebras. At least one Chilean got Tasered and several were handcuffed. The Chilean government issued a formal protest today to Ottawa over the police action.

Now I'm interested...

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Some Soccer Thing

soccerWe in Toronto are hosting some big soccer thing. I see lots of press about this, but I couldn't tell you which countries are involved or who's left. I take it this is the soccer equivalent of the junior hockey tournament I watch at Christmas time.

I know Canada was part of this tournament but I understand we went 0-3 without scoring a goal. That's typical. We're the only nation to go gold-less in an Olympic games we hosted, and we did that twice.

Enjoy your soccer. I doubt this is as big a deal as the CBC would have me believe it is, but I'm admittedly not a big fan of the sport. Until we hosted, I didn't know this soccer thing existed.

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Hamilton Jerked Around Once More

nhlNow I'm confused. There are reports at this hour that Craig Leipold has withdrawn his offer to sell the Nashville Predators to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie. This is a rather shocking development. I had the team in Southern Ontario for the 2008/2009 season.

Once again Hamilton got their hopes up only to see them dashed. I too was getting excited about having another NHL team down the road. It all made so much sense. Balsillie was offering $240 million and you'd think Craig Leipold would jump at the chance to salvage that kind of dough out of a loser franchise.

I'll let the dust settle on this one and see where we're at. The team can't succeed in Nashville... maybe Leipold got a better offer from the Kansas City or Las Vegas folks?

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When 3Com Killed Candlestick

baseballAs a kid, I was enamoured by baseball statistics and trivia. In the 80s I knew the name of every major league ballpark. I considered it my duty to know where each team played their home games.

I remember that jarring moment I learnt Candlestick Park in San Francisco was being renamed 3com Park. I wasn't blogging back then, but if I was you can bet I'd have gone off about this one. This park was named after the candlestick bird and to think we were suddenly expected to call it 3com Park was blasphemous.

We all know what's happened since. Just about every park has sold the naming rights to a corporation and these names often change when the deal expires. Today, I don't know the name of every ballpark. There's still Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium, but I haven't cared to learn most of the others. It's all so soulless.

Minute Maid Park? Ugh. AT&T Park? Yuck. U.S. Cellular Field? I think I'm going to be sick.

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