Big League Stew - MLB

Welcome to 'Duk's Dozen, a streamlined selection of 12 morning-fresh links and items to start your baseball day. It welcomes your  submissions here or via Twitter

1. Angels rookie pitcher Trevor Bell(notes) (right) attracted an unusual amount of attention for his first Major League start on Wednesday, not so much for his talent or promise, but for his bloodlines with Bozo.

Yup, Bell is the grandson of the late Bob Bell, who portrayed Bozo the Clown on WGN from 1960-1984. Show business runs in the Bell family as two of his brothers are actors and models. Trevor himself starred in several commercials when he was younger. 

Says Trevor Bell of the inevitable clown jokes that get brought up when he's around:

"I still love it. I don't mind that at all. I get asked about my grandfather and I'm glad to answer any questions."

OK, because Bell seems so cool when discussing a relationship that probably would have traumatized all of us as kids — there's no way most of us would've survived grade school if grandpa was a well-known clown —  I'm going to run through my bit quickly.

There's absolutely no truth to the rumors that Bell drinks seltzer instead of Gatorade, attached a water-squirting boutonniere to his jersey or insisted that the team leave the ballpark by cramming into the same tiny car. I can neither confirm or deny that he set up a Bozo Buckets game to keep the bullpen occupied. [Los Angeles Times

2. Bill Dwyre says Bell made "a good first impression" in his first start, giving up four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in Wednesday's no-decision. [LA Times]

3. For those of you wondering, yes, I will be addressing the classless beer-throwing Cubs fan from Wednesday night in a post later this morning. Until then, one Cubs fan sees Lou Piniella apologizing to Shane Victorino(notes) and wonder why he stops there. [Hire Jim Essian]

4. Day Baseball! Six matinees to choose from today with Philly's Cliff Lee(notes) looking to sweep the Cubs and Detroit's Justin Verlander(notes) trying to avoid that fate in Boston. However, no one's been giving Texas' Scott Feldman(notes) any love, so give him a chance against Cleveland if you can. [Yahoo! Sports]

5. Barry Zito(notes) and Dan Haren(notes) both employ the unconventional long-tossing practice method to keep their arms fresh. Here's an interesting profile on Alan Jaeger, the teacher who pushes the program. []

6. Question: If so many people profess to be sick of the way ESPN crams the Yankees and Red Sox down our throats, why do so many people still tune into watch? Sunday night's game featured the network's highest rating in that slot since 2007. [LoHud

7.  Thanks to the Internet, I had a vague idea that Jason Hirsh(notes) was a minor league pitcher acquired by the Yankees during the trading season. Unfortunately, WFAN's Mike Francesa can't say the same and refused to acknowledge that Hirsh was a real person — or at least a big league ballplayer — when a caller asked about him on his New York radio show.

I wouldn't feel too bad if I were Hirsh, though. It's only thanks to the Internet that I have a vague idea of who Francesa is, as well. [Tirico Suave]

8. The '94 stoppage was "strike three" for the Royals' glory days. [KC Star]

9. If the Tigers don't want to dole out incentive money to Magglio Ordonez(notes), they'll make it known that he's useless against right-handed pitchers. [FanGraphs]

10. The Mets have cut the price of tickets to select games by 50 percent, but insist they're not having any trouble while moving seats. [NYDN]

11. Too cool: Fenway Park is already hosting the 2010 NHL Winter Classic, but it looks like there's a college hockey doubleheader in store, as well.  [Puck Daddy]

12. If John Smoltz(notes) is Amanda Beckett and the Red Sox are Mike Dexter then, well, it looks like the Florida Marlins might just be the note-writing Preston Meyers. [MLBTR]

Elsewhere on the Yahoo! Sports Blogs:
Yeah, Rick Pitino should probably drop the whole 9/11 thing
Bronson Arroyo feels lucky, still takes non-approved substances
Madden '10 review: A big winner with just a few small complaints

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