The Hugo Chavez All-Stars

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If I was El Presidente I’d do this kind of stuff all the time:

President Hugo Chavez and several members of his Cabinet took to the
field yesterday for a slow-pitch softball game with some of Venezuela’s
past and present major leaguers.

Among the players on hand were Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus and former Reds shortstop David Concepcion . . .

. . . The president then pitched two innings and allowed seven runs.
Rodriguez, who finished his first season as a Met with 35 saves and 73
strikeouts, gave up 11 runs during three innings.

I suppose it’s possible that Hugo Chavez has better stuff than K-Rod, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the hitters were laying off Chavez’s pitches a bit. I mean, spring training starts next week and no one wants to miss it because they’re in some secret jail in a non-descript building in the outskirts of Caracas, do they?

Anyway, like I said, if I was the president I’d be calling for these kinds of command performances, like, weekly. I mean it’s not like Will Clark and Eric Davis have anything better to do. 

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.