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Article:The Week In Baseball

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June is a hot month... there are teams that getting hot at the right time (both Chicago clubs and Tampa Bay) and teams that are cooling off at the WRONG time (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston).  The chances for Chipper Jones (Larry to the fans at Shea) are getting better but he needs to get healthy quick if the Braves are to contend for the East.

With that, here's a look at what happened last week on the field.

Trial date set for Bonds - Barry Lamar Bonds should have more on his mind than playing baseball again. The trial date for Bonds has been set for next year.  Bonds, Major League Baseball's all-time home run king with 762 homers, is still a free agent. Bonds said recently that he won't retire and is eager to continue his career.

According to Jeff Borris, who represents Bonds, "Barry still hopes he will receive a phone call from me saying that I got him a job and he can resume playing the game he loves." Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston set a date of March 2, 2009, to begin the trial for Bonds allegedly lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in testimony given to a grand jury nearly five years ago. Bonds is facing 14 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Until the hearing in San Francisco last Friday, it wasn't certain whether Bonds would have to miss part of the current season fighting the case. It may still not be certain.

Bonds was told by the Giants this past September that his 15-year reign with the team was over.

Bonds hit his 756th home run to pass Hank Aaron into first place on the all-time list into the bleachers just to the right of dead center against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 7 of last year at AT&T Park. He played his final game for the Giants there on September 26.

Bonds finished last season with a .276 batting average, 28 homers, 132 walks and a .480 on base percentage in 126 games. He will be 44 on July 24.

Crisp, others called to the MLB Principal’s Office - It didn’t take Principal Bob Watson long to hand out punishment and detention slips. A day after Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp charged the mound following being hit by Rays right-hander James Shields, the principal handed down the penalties for the bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park last Thursday. According to Major League Baseball and the St. Petersburg Times, there were eight players suspended, three of them on the roster of the defending World Champs and all eight were also hit hard in the wallet.

Crisp got the heaviest penalty, a seven-game suspension that he immediately appealed. Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester was given a five-game suspension for what MLB ruled was "intentionally throwing" at a Tampa Bay batter after a warning had been issued. Unlike Crisp, Lester opted not to appeal.

Other suspensions include first baseman Sean Casey, who received a three-game suspension. Casey's suspension isn't scheduled to start until June 14 and according to the team, has not decided if he will appeal. The reason for his discipline, according to MLB, was "fighting." DUH!

Shields, who hit Crisp on the right leg, received a six-game suspension. Designated hitter Johnny Gomes, one of the biggest aggressors during the fracas, got a five-game punishment. Crawford, whom Crisp accused of pulling his hair, got a four-game suspension. Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura received three games for fighting.

The Red Sox and Rays will next play on June 30 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Bring your body armor!

Another ump gets hurt on the field - It’s not safe to be a Major League umpire these days. Now the latest from sick bay. Home-plate umpire Jerry Layne left Saturday afternoon's game between the Yankees and Royals after being hit with a foul ball in the third inning. Royals outfielder Joey Gathright fouled back a bunted ball to lead off the third inning, narrowly missing catcher Jorge Posada's head and striking Layne on the center of his mask. Yankees trainers immediately came to his assistance, and Layne, who appeared to be overheated as well, eventually left under his own power. Both teams left the field at 1:52 p.m. ET, causing a lengthy delay. Layne was replaced by second-base umpire Jim Wolf.

Go to a game, win a funeral - Talk about the dead ball era.. The Grand Prairie Air Hogs gave a prize away at one of their recent home games. The only thing’s this: You have to be dead to use it. Elaine Fulps, 60, won a $10,000 paid funeral at last Tuesday night's Grand Prairie AirHogs game.

The prize won't expire until after Fulps does, said Ron Alexander, the sales manager at Oak Grove Memorial Gardens, which partnered with the team and Irving's Chapel of Roses Funeral Home to sponsor the event. Fans in this Dallas suburb were eager to join in the grim fun and got into the spirit of things.

Some finalists for the prize arrived dressed in black or looking like death. The finalists participated in a pallbearer's race, a mummy wrap and a eulogy. "I'm going to pick a spot under a tree out of the Texas heat," she told The Dallas Morning News. "And let's hope it's a pet-free cemetery. I don't want to get watered on."

Catcher no longer has scholarship offer - Matt Hill, the Stephens County High School catcher accused of intentionally letting a pitch hit an umpire last week, won't be playing baseball at Gordon College as a result. According to the two-year school sports information office, Gordon baseball coach Travis McClanahan said today he spoke with Hill on Wednesday and withdrew an invitation for Hill to be walk on with the team next season.

A video of the incident has been posted on many Web sites, including YouTube. Stephens County principal David Friend, speaking for the Hill family, which has declined to be interviewed by numerous news outlets, said Hill and his parents were "disheartened" by McClanahan's decision and has talked to the coach as well as school president President Lawrence Weill in hopes of changing their minds. According to YouTube, the pitch in question has gotten over 400,000 hits on their website.

Friend said Hill still might attend the Barnesville school, just outside of Atlanta, which will honor Hill's partial academic scholarship. Hill has a 3.5 GPA, Friend said. According to Stephens County coach Mark Gosnell, Hill and Martin denied malicious intent and said the missed ball was the result of a mix-up in signals.

The Georgia High School Association fined Stephens County $1,000 and placed the baseball program on severe warning status Wednesday. Hill has since graduated from the school and cannot be punished by the GHSA or Stephens County. Pitcher Cody Martin, a rising senior, was not disciplined.

Rays pitcher, catcher duke it out in dugout - It seems that the Rays have a lot more fight in them than we suspected. According to a release from the American League East team, Tampa Bay starting pitcher Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro had to be separated after arguing in the dugout during Sunday's game at Texas, which Tampa Bay lost 6-3 at Arlington.

Television cameras caught the pitcher and catcher face-to-face in the dugout and in an apparent scuffle that spilled into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse after the fourth inning.

Manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Jim Hickey and others could be seen rushing to break up the fracas. It wasn't clear if any punches were thrown. When Hickey visited the mound during the fourth, when No. 9 hitter German Duran hit a two-run homer to put Texas up 3-0, Garza and Navarro had an obviously heated discussion with the coach in the middle of them.

 


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