MLB

HILL: A different kind of no-no in Boston

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.
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In the good-riddance ol' days, a Boston "no-no" usually defined the latest deal engineered by Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette. A Sox fan frequently punctuated this back-to-back 'no' by placing his or her hands on top of his or her skull. Shrieking, while not encouraged, was unavoidable. But even though Dan's a goner, the no really is a go. And the man up to no good is Derek Lowe. Derek, a starting pitcher for the Sox, flipped the first nine-inning no-hitter at Fenway Park in 37 years. Saturday's co-stars were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, whose hardball capacity has convinced Elias Sports Bureau to only credit Lowe with a three-hit shutout. I'm a bit more generous, casting Derek as the lead in today's episode of The Weekend Condition. And the condition of major-league pitching has been quite feisty since last Friday. You might even say the pitching is suspect. Not long ago, its uncorking was set aside for wild pitches. But, according to sources who choke up with two strikes, a weekend survey revealed that cork had been removed from 90 percent of cracked-open bats. The bats in question were almost as hollow as Jeff Kent's explanation for his spring training accident. Anyway, while Lowe was the only pitcher in the no, several of his fraternity brothers did some weekend flirting.
  • On Friday at Wrigley Field, L.A. Dodgers southpaw Odalis "I Swear I'm Not Carlos" Perez surrendered just one infield hit while facing the minimum of 27 Cubs. Perez, you may recall, arrived from Atlanta with Brian Jordan as Dodger presents in their trade of Gary Sheffield. So, for what the early returns are worth, the Dodgers took enough from Sheffield and (talk radio be damned) may have gotten enough for him. In his last three starts, all on the road, Odalis (the Spanish translation is "Dodger for life") has coughed up just four runs in 26 2/3 innings. During L.A.'s three-game sweep at Wrigley, Dodger starters Kaz Ishii and Andy Ashby combined with Perez to allow just five Cub hits in 24 innings.
  • The New York Yankees aren't ready to slouch, either. Ted Lilly, a crafty left-hander we can trace to the Dodger organization, filled an unexpected gap in their rotation. Lilly limited the Seattle Mariners to one hit in his eight Saturday innings, but absorbed a 1-0 defeat.
  • If a Yankee can stack lumber, what's stopping the New York Mets? Absolutely nothing. Still sniffing for the franchise's first no-no, Shawn Estes pinned a Friday one-hitter on Milwaukee. That was followed by no-hit flirtation from Pedro Astacio. This excellent Met pitching has been accomplished despite the absence of veteran catcher Mike Piazza. Mike's been nursing a hamstring he pulled while running a tab.

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  • Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel stunned the publishing world by dishing the dirt on ex-teammate Albert Belle. In his book, which also qualifies as a short story, Omar claims that Albert was a big hit with corked bats. Belle responded by calling a national radio talk show and referring to Vizquel's literary work as a cruel hoax. I'm not sure if Belle really did use corked bats, but he certainly had some mighty fine whine. He's probably jealous of Omar, whose book used more of the tree than Albert's bats.
  • Sunday's Dodger double-header sweep included a seventh-inning stretch serenade from Tommy Lasorda. While Tommy sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," I couldn't stop wishing the Dodgers still had him in the dugout.

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  • Portland's Rose Garden is in danger of receiving a sidebar identity: The Temple of Broom. This name was earned by the Trail Blazers, who were handed their second consecutive first-round playoff sweep by the L.A. Lakers. The rambunctious Blazers, who need a nap, will settle for another early vacation. Starring for the Lakers was Kobe "The Ruben Stopper" Bryant, who banged in a three-pointer and assisted Robert Horry's game-winning triple. Horry's three helped the two-time defending champions erase a four-point deficit in just over 15 seconds. And now I'll apologize for the pun to follow: What doomed Portland? Horry-gun. Hey, you were warned.
  • Speaking of time, how about Saturday's hayride in Orlando? If you missed it, the NBA has a whistle with your name on it. Here's the skinny: With the score tied and 0.7 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Charlotte-New Orleans Hornets had the ball. After a time-out huddle, P.J. Brown threw an inbound pass to Baron Davis, who whirled, fired and banked in what looked like one helluva game-winning three-pointer. But this was "Weekend With Bernie Fryer." And Bernie, who's employed as an NBA referee, waved it off. Said it was too late. Said he and his officiating cronies previously had agreed that catching, turning and shooting could not be achieved in 0.7 seconds. Said that the clock (which, in concert with the horn, indicated that Baron had reacted in, well, time) was nothing more than an aid to his judgment. So Baron (33 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) and the Hornets were obliged to whip Orlando in overtime. The next time the Hornets draw Fryer, let's hope they run a few plays that screen Bernie's calls. However, his interpretation of the rules would make him a hero in the NFL. If Bernie had worked the Raiders-Patriots game, the defining call might have been known as the "Fryer Tuck."
  • Utah's Game 3 home loss to Sacramento included a highly uncharacteristic poor decision by 40-year-old, Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton. With 32 seconds to play and the Jazz down by one, Stockton fouled the Kings' Peja Stojacovic. If he doesn't foul and the Utah defense gathers a defensive rebound, the Jazz would have roughly eight seconds to concoct a game-winning play. Stockton did concede that his maneuver probably was not in the team's best interests. He also plans to watch film of Game 3 as preparation for Game 4. At least he should receive the senior discount.

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  • In another development that signals the end of civilization, Oakland Raiders quarterback Richard Gannon skipped a voluntary minicamp. By the way, Gannon has requested that he no longer be referred to as "Rich." This request may be withdrawn if and when Gannon's contract status is resolved. Well, that was the rumor around the mini-campfire.

    NUDE TENNIS

  • Official deniers employed by Anna Kournikova are insisting that their client is not the partially nude woman depicted in photos possessed by Penthouse magazine. Penthouse is preparing to publish the pictures in its next issue, but will not include any mixed-double exposures. But Anna's legal team has compelling evidence that the topless hottie in question is not Kournikova: When one of the photos is blown up, it's apparent that the woman is holding a WTA championship trophy. Randy Hill can be reached at his e-mail address: rhill@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Raiders, Pelicans, Lakers, Magic, Trail Blazers, Kings, Jazz, Baron Davis, P.J. Brown, Robert Horry, Kobe Bryant, Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Brewers, Yankees, Mariners, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Giants, Rays, Derek Lowe, Omar Vizquel

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