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Archive for June 14th, 2007

kouz.jpgI was all set to write about Delmon Young today, because I’ve been doing my best to avoid profiling the personally odious yet newsworthy Elijah Dukes for as long as I can. Fortunately, when I calculated the Smells Like Pujols leaderboard standings for this week, Dukes dropped below my artificial floor of 700 similarity points, and Kevin Kouzmanoff of San Diego jumped into his spot, getting over 700 for the first time this season. Since Delmon’s not going anywhere, I figured I’d better take this opportunity to write about someone I’m truly unfamiliar with.

macedonia.gifKouzmanoff is a California native of Serbian Macedonian descent, but his nickname is “The Crushin’ Russian” because, well, that’s more fun to say. It rhymes, and all. He grew up in Evergreen, CO, which sits 7,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains. His sporting exploits at Evergreen High did not get him on MLB radar, as at least one full season of baseball was canceled due to persistent snow.

He began his arduous climb to the majors at Cochise Junior College in Arizona, then transferred to Arkansas-Little Rock (average: .364) before walking on at Nevada-Las Vegas (.361 overall). A lingering back injury dropped him into the sixth round of the amateur draft in 2003, where he was plucked by the Cleveland Indians. He slogged through every rung of the Tribe’s minor league system, starting in short-season A ball with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, thence on to Eastlake, OH, Kinston, NC and Akron before getting to the AAA Buffalo Bisons. He finally made it to the show on September 2, 2006, where he promptly etched his name in the MLB record books by becoming the first player to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors.

Kouzmanoff finished out the last 16 games of last year with 3 total home runs and a .411 slugging percentage. He thought he’d be brought back on the major league roster the next season, at least to compete for a job. Not so. A month later he and pitcher Andrew Brown were packaged in a deal that brought Josh Barfield to Cleveland from San Diego.

kouzforearmsoftreetrunks.jpgKouz started the season in an understandable state of discombobulation, but has raised his game gradually over the course of the season and is now on a hot streak, slugging .542 over the last seven days. It’s his horrible .229 average that is keeping him low in the national consciousness right now. The Padres have tried him everywhere from the top of the order to the bottom, with seventh being his most common home.

Can the streaky third baseman become more selective and work his way up the batting order like he did the minor league system? Time will tell. For now, we’ll enjoy the Slammin’ Serb from a distance, and wish him well.

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I got a sports-related link from an unexpected source: A wordpress blogger calling himself The Rational Psychic has reviewed Ball Four. Believe it or not, I’ve never read it, so I enjoyed his take on the classic book.

Blogging savant MC Bias has done his first interview. Choosing a tall, attractive, funny blogger as a subject was a wise choice.

Signal 2 Noise thinks coaches in suits are classy. Who am I to argue?

The Feed has a comprehensive list of the many different sides of Ichiro.  My favorite is Cabbage Patchiro.

Photoshop artists – Shorty needs a banner, y’dig?

Go over to Ladies… and meet the one player all ladies love. If you’re male, try not to have ego shrinkage.

This Genarlow Wilson thing is just getting absurd. If we applied this standard equally, I’m betting a whole raft of politicians would be in the big house, too.

Mike White just took out #1 seed Orson Swindle in the Hot Blogger bracket. And he celebrated with this huevonazo (Spanish for “nut shot”!) that is all the more amusing if you watch the umpire who comes over to check on the batter.

Mr. Thursday’s TC examines the science behind the “five second rule” for dropped food.

Ted Bauer looks at the COO of the NBA – a guy I’ve never heard of – and pronounces him one of the 100 most influential people in sports. A good read.

Man, that’s a lot of Abreus. Who knew?

Sooze’s mom astutely points out that Bud Selig is blackmailing Jason Giambi. Wait ’til Sooze tells her that baseball is exempt from antitrust law, too.

Finally, the College World Series kicks off in Omaha tomorrow, so head over to the College Baseball Blog and familiarize yourself with the participants.

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