Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:
- The death of Tony Gwynn, 54, has ballplayers reconsidering the use of chewless tobacco. Mike Puma of the New York Post profiles Mets reliever Josh Edgin, who says he will try to quit the snuff cold turkey.
- In Miami last Monday evening, Giancarlo Stanton hit what David Brown of Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew calls an “opposite-field laser on which your mom could do laundry,” which barely cleared the fence. Writing at FoxSports.com, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus discovers that, while the shot may have been only the seventh-lowest home run hit this season, the horizontal angle was the lowest ever recorded for balls hit the other way.
- According to the Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow, David Ortiz was vocally upset with the official scorer’s decision to assign an error to a fielder in lieu of a hit for him last Wednesday evening. MLB vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre subsequently issued a statement strongly defending the official scorer while rebuking Ortiz:
Official scorers have a job to do, and by their very nature, their decisions don’t make everyone happy. But everyone in our game deserves respect. I hope that David will meet that standard going forward, because I don’t share the same views that he expressed.
Official scorers should never give any benefit of the doubt to the home team. We want their best judgment, based on the rules. We have a process to review the decisions that our scorers make. Even when there are inevitable disagreements, we expect everybody to act professionally and respect the game and the integrity of our scorers.
- Sean Doolittle is the latest evidence that teams should consider free-agent closers only as a last resort. Last Wednesday, Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk pointed out that the southpaw, who finished off A’s victories only after “established” closer Jim Johnson imploded, has boasted a ridiculous 46:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 33 innings. (According to Gleeman, that ratio is not only the best of all time of any pitcher posting at least 30 innings in a single season but way more than double the current record holder.) Oh, and as of this morning, the ratio stands at 50:1 over 36 innings. Just . . . wow.
- Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated’s The Strike Zone points out why Kirk Gibson’s decision last Tuesday evening to have his pitcher bean Ryan Braun may be the dumbest managerial move you’ll see this season:
Gibson has been particularly critical of Braun in the past due to his belief that the Brewers’ 2011 division series victory over his Diamondbacks was fueled by the slugger’s as-yet-undetected use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun’s positive test, the one whose result was overturned by an arbitrator in early 2012 because his sample was improperly handled, came after Game 1 of that matchup.
Alas, choosing to load the bases in the late innings of a one-run game is a dumb time to try to exact revenge, whether it was [Evan] Marshall acting alone in an effort to curry favor with his manager and teammates — in which case, mission accomplished — or following Gibson’s ill-considered orders in a high-leverage spot. Reliever Brad Ziegler came on in relief of Marshall, and on his first pitch, he served up a grand slam to Jonathan Lucroy, who had hit a solo homer in his previous bat as well. [As noted previously, Lucroy (.331/.397/.520) is also clearly a better hitter than Braun (.278/.326/.489) this year.]
Oops. The slam gave the Brewers a 7–4 lead; they wound up winning 7–5. With the win, the Brewers are now 43–29, 3 1/2 games up in the NL Central, while the Diamondbacks are 30–44, 14 1/2 back in the NL West. One has to think that a suspension could await Gibson, who’s already on thin ice given his team’s last-place showing and the arrival of Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer. Whatever Arizona’s manager believes, it’s not his job to mete out punishment (MLB suspended Braun for 65 games last year), but you have to admire the combination of ineptitude and zeal with which his team went about doing so.
- David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot profiles the “horrific” rotation that plagued the 1930 Phillies. “The 1930 Phillies allowed 1199 [runs],” writes Schoenfield, “an astonishing 7.69 runs per game. The Phillies averaged over six runs per game and still finished 52–102.”
- You don’t hear the adjective “bases-clearing” immediately before “wild pitch” all that often. Watch the Brewers pull off the wacky feat in Coors Field here.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!