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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Even A. J. Pierzynski Doesn’t Deserve This



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Were the Red Sox right to jettison A. J. Pierzynski (.254/.286/.348) yesterday? Absolutely.

Has the 37-year old catcher long been recognized as an “acquired taste?” (Pierzynski’s skipper with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, said: “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”) Most definitely.

Still, Boston signed Pierzynski to a one-year deal during the offseason with the expectation that he would handle backstop duties until the club’s highly-rated prospect, Christian Vazquez, was promoted to the bigs.

This is not the way a classy organization bids adieu to a 17-year veteran:

According to multiple sources within the Red Sox clubhouse, Pierzynski had become such a negative influence on the team that players approached both the Sox coaches and front office to address the problem. The common theme expressed was the catcher’s seeming indifference toward his teammates and the common goals of the same organization that had relied on an all-for-one approach when winning the 2013 World Series.

A microcosm of Pierzynski’s approach was mentioned by more than one of the backstop’s former teammates, who revealed his propensity to spend a significant amount of time looking at his phone while at his locker during games. In one instance, after a particularly rough outing in which the starting pitcher had been pulled early in the game, Pierzynski could be found staring at his phone while the pitcher gave off the appearance of being an emotional wreck just a few feet away. That incident paved the way for at least one complaint to management from a teammate.

The frustrations with Pierzynski among the Red Sox grew with the catcher’s indifference toward the perceived needs of the club. While it was understood that former Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had some flaws in his game, it was noted in multiple corners of the clubhouse that the difference between the current Marlins backstop and Pierzynski was that Saltalamacchia was invested in his pitchers’ successes and failures, whereas Pierzynski had limited interest in branching out beyond himself. . . . 

It became obvious to those in the clubhouse fairly early on that this might be an oil-and-water situation. Pierzynski’s personality wasn’t conducive to the Red Sox’ way of doing things, saying what he wanted when he wanted without much regard for the greater good. From the dugout, he would yell across the field at the opposition, or ridicule umpires during replay challenges. It made many cringe. This wasn’t the Red Sox way, the one that a World Series run had been built on.

As a friend points out, “You know who else rudely stares at their phone these days? Everyone!”

I get it: Looking for scapegoats is a New England tradition that’s as old as the Salem witch trials. The Red Sox front office and its media enablers would like fans to believe that Boston’s suckitude in 2014 is about staring at one’s communications device just as the meltdown three years ago was a consequence of too much beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse or the manager’s use of prescription medication.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Hardball Talk sums up the situation quite well:

Such a shocker here. I mean, it’d be one thing if Pierzynski had a nearly two-decade track record of being a low OBP guy with some pop, some fairly “meh” catching abilities and a prickly personality, but . . . oh, wait.

I just don’t understand why this always happens with the Red Sox. Every other team in baseball manages to cut players when necessary and not have it be a big deal. In Boston, there are always knives out when people walk out the door. How the story of him being DFA’d isn’t “Pierzynski wasn’t cutting it, we aren’t winning, we have this young catcher named Vazquez who we think can really be the future of the club and we want to get him up now” is beyond me.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Hold Your Breath, Yankee Fans



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Via George King of the New York Post, Masahiro Tanaka is leaving the Yankees to return to New York for a MRI on his right arm:

Tanaka had his worst start as a major leaguer Tuesday night in Cleveland, allowing 10 hits and five runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Indians. Tanaka was scheduled to start Sunday in Baltimore — his final start before the All-Star break. He is 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA in his past four starts.

After the game, Tanaka said he “didn’t feel that bad” and thought location was his bigger issue.

“I think a lot of it had to do with command of my pitches,” he said. “I feel a lot of my pitches were right down the middle and pretty easy for the batters to hit.”

But on Wednesday there was enough concern for the Yankees to send the 25-year-old for the test.

On MLB Network this afternoon, King’s colleague, Joel Sherman, pointed out how much the Yankees, treading water in the standings at 45–44, rely on the 25-year-old import deep in games:

The Yankees have gotten from starting pitchers this year 33 outs after the seventh inning. He’s gotten 25 of them. I mean, nobody else gets outs late in games.

More here.

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Tanaka has been put on the disabled list.

Tags: MLB

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All-Star Game Update: Too Many Players?



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Rob Neyer of Fox Sports certainly thinks so:

Look, nothing against Dellin Betances, and I’m actually thrilled for Pat Neshek, whom I’ve been following with great interest for some years. I’m just not sure if anyone had good pitchers pitching great for 30 innings in mind when they came up with the All-Star Game.

And unlike a lot of things we complain about, this really is a fairly new phenomenon. Yes, there have always been non-stars in All-Star Games. But they have not often been relief pitchers. In 1974, only nine pitchers pitched in the entire All-Star Game, and all of them were starters except two: superstar reliever Rollie Fingers and superstar reliever Mike Marshall. And there was just one more reliever on either roster: Detroit’s John Hiller, who’d finished fourth in MVP voting the year before. . . . 

Do Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar really belong on an All-Star team? Well, that all comes back to a question Bill James asked some years ago: “Who is the game for?”

Turns out it’s for nobody in particular, and for everybody. It’s for the fans, who get to vote in a starting catcher who’s played in 26 games all season and will spend the rest of this season recuperating from major elbow surgery. It’s for the TV network that gets to promote the last hurrah of the third-greatest shortstop in major-league history. And these days, more than anything it’s for the players, represented by the most powerful union in the history of organized labor.

Everybody wants to be an All-Star. Everybody wants to be described forever after as an All-Star. Last year there were 79 All-Stars. Think about that. At any one moment, there are 750 players on active rosters. Roughly 250 of those players are part-time catchers, utility infielders, fourth outfielders, and relief pitchers who don’t get to warm up during close games. That leaves roughly 500 players in key roles. So if you’re one of those players, you’ve got roughly a 1-in-6 chance of being an All-Star forever.

Meanwhile, Fangraphs’ Jeremy Blachman offers up a where-are-they-now? for the players who took part in the very first Midsummer Classic in 1933.

Here’s his rundown of the Junior Circuit participants:

American League
SP Lefty Gomez, New York — Deceased
C Rick Ferrell, Boston — Deceased
1B Lou Gehrig, New York — Deceased
2B Charlie Gehringer, Detroit — Deceased
3B Jimmy Dykes, Chicago — Deceased
SS Joe Cronin, Washington — Deceased
LF Ben Chapman, New York — Deceased
CF Al Simmons, Chicago — Deceased
RF Babe Ruth, New York — Deceased

Thanks, Jeremy! (#smh)

However. I did let loose a chuckle from one commenter’s astute observation:

Well, I know what they would say if they were alive today…

“HELP! HELP! GET ME OUTTA THIS COFFIN!!”

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

All-Star Game Update: Hooray Beer!



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From the “What on Earth Could Go Wrong?” file:

Self-serve beer stations are up and running in Target Field, so Minnesota Twins fans and those who attend the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities next week can decide what they want and even how much they want of it.

The machines, called DraftServ, are a partnership between concessionaire Delaware North and Anheuser-Busch.

Delaware North DraftServ machines at Target Field will allow customers to control how much beer they’d like to pour, ranging from 38 to 40 cents per ounce.

“It’s a way to engage with the customer and allows the fan to have greater control of what they’re drinking,” said Jerry Jacobs Jr., principal of Delaware North, whose Sportservice controls the concessions at 10 baseball stadiums, seven arenas that host NBA and NHL fans and seven NFL stadiums.

Fans attending Twins games can go to a cash register, show their ID and preload a $10 or $20 card. For the All-Star Game, a $50 card will be available.

Fans then scan the card at the machine and can choose between four beers and regulate how much they want to have poured.

And yes, ESPN sports business commentator Darren Rovell buried the lede:

The machine allows a customer to use the card to pour up to 48 ounces of beer every 15 minutes.

Drive home safely.

More here.

Tags: MLB

World Cup: ‘Brazilian Voodoo Priest to Curse Germany’



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AFP:

Germany will have to contend with black magic as well Brazil’s Selecao in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final as a voodoo priest plans to curse die Mannschaft.

Brazil will be without injured superstar Neymar in Belo Horizonte, but black magic enthusiast Helio Sillman from Rio de Janeiro says his curse will hinder Joachim Loew’s team in the semi-final.

“I’ll take their top player and bind his legs so he can’t run on the pitch,” said Sillman, referring to the voodoo doll of an undisclosed German player that will be cursed in a ceremony before the game.

The rest here.

Tags: Soccer

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Reveille 7/7/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your post–Fourth of July Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Via MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd: The trade deadline is more than three weeks away, but Billy Beane elected to set off his fireworks on the Fourth of July. Oakland acquired starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in exchange for its No. 1 prospect, shortstop Addison Russell, and two other highly rated youngsters, pitcher Dan Straily and minor-league outfielder Billy McKinney. David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot believes the deal makes the A’s, the team with the best record in the bigs, favorites to win the World Series, while Mike Petriello of Fangraphs sees the deal as a win-win-win for the A’s, Cubs, and Rays, as the latter club “just saw two of the top available pitchers get moved while only one contender benefits, leaving the Mariners, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays and everyone else to fight for [David] Price.”

You can’t anticipate every eventuality when a new rule is put in place, but you can certainly move quickly to patch a hole. Major League Baseball needs to patch this hole immediately and acknowledge that the players can only act based on what they know at the time, so what is known at the time has to control. There needs to be an immediate tweak to the rule which goes something like this: if an umpire’s call on the field affects the subsequent decision-making of players on the same play, the call is not reviewable.

  • Troy Tulowitzki appears to want out of Colorado. The prized shortstop told Mike Riszka of the Denver Post: “I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.” Too bad, Troy: You are under contract with the Rockies through at least the 2020 season — there’s a team option for 2021 — and there’s no sign that the front office wants to deal away its franchise player.
  • Is the Red Sox–Yankees rivalry passé? According to Fire Brand of the American League’s Brett Cowett, it “is in a state of cryogenic sleep.” (Teddy Ballgame’s head sees what you did there, smart guy.)
  • Courtesy of Barry Petchesky of Deadspin, here’s news of leaked, sensitive information that we can’t pin on Edward Snowden (or so we think):

Two years ago, the Houston Astros constructed “Ground Control” — a built-from-scratch online database for the private use of the Astros front office. It is by all accounts a marvel, an easy-to-use interface giving executives instant access to player statistics, video, and communications with other front offices around baseball. All it needs, apparently, is a little better password protection.

Documents purportedly taken from Ground Control and showing 10 months’ worth of the Astros’ internal trade chatter have been posted online at Anonbin, a site where users can anonymously share hacked or leaked information. Found below, they contain the Astros front office’s communications regarding trade overtures to and from other teams, as well as negotiations—a few of which actually led to trades. You will find heavy efforts to get a big haul for Bud Norris at last year’s trade deadline (before settling for very little), pushes to acquire touted young talents like Dylan Bundy and Gregory Polanco, and even evidence the Astros rejected out of hand a blockbuster deal that could have brought them Giancarlo Stanton.

From a strict baseball perspective, all of this is really interesting just for the insight it offers into how baseball trades work on an operational level. As it turns out, it really isn’t too different from your fantasy league, with front office types kicking around ideas, making preposterous demands, gossiping, and discussing various contingencies.

  • According to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, John Lackey appears miffed that Nelson Cruz, who went 5-for-5 in Saturday evening’s game in Fenway Park, received an $8 million, one-year contract from the Orioles after serving, last season, a 50-game suspension related to performance-enhancing drugs, but wouldn’t get into specifics. Via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter responded, ”We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” perhaps referring to David Ortiz, who reportedly failed MLB’s survey test for PED use back in 2003.
  • Run-scoring per game is more than one run lower than it was in 2000. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times believes that the decrease is a result of “stronger testing program for performance-enhancing drugs, more sophisticated analysis of hitters’ tendencies, a changing amateur scene, and, especially this season, a sharp increase in defensive shifts.”
  • The All-Star Game rosters were announced last night and may be found here. The 85th Midsummer Classic will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, July 15th.
  • While many of us were busy remembering the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell remarks, apparently another historic, Yankee-themed anniversary took place over the weekend. According to the Fox Sports production crew broadcasting Saturday evening’s Orioles–Red Sox game, Showalter was filmed in the Seinfeld episode “The Chaperone” on July 5, 1994; the Yankee skipper went along with George Costanza’s recommendation that the players embrace the breathability of all-cotton uniforms.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: NHL

The Columbia Boys, Gehrig and Barzun



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Today, considering that it’s the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, Major League Baseball is showing this video at ballparks across the land. First basemen from all 30 present-day MLB teams join the Iron Horse in reciting baseball’s Gettysburg Address. It’s well done, though the text is too much Yankee propaganda for my taste. And I think MLB’s commemoration of it is both too sentimental and, insofar as it looks too much like an effort to exploit the occasion for its potential as a marketing promotion, too cynical — a bad combination. Coming from Gehrig’s lips, however, those paeans to “that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins,” “these grand men,” and “baseball’s greatest empire” were fine. They were appropriate, a fitting declaration of loyalty to the club he had belonged to all his adult life.

That the Fourth of July, America’s birthday, is now bound up with this moment in baseball history nicely illustrates the observation of historian Jacques Barzun that “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” Barzun, Columbia College 1927, may have never crossed paths with Gehrig on Morningside Heights; Gehrig attended from 1921 through 1923, when he signed with the Yankees and went to work at their place uptown, the Polo Grounds. Still, although he may be more widely known as “the pride of the Yankees,” Gehrig was a Columbia hero, too, and I like to think that Barzun valued the low degree of separation between him and the recent star of South Field, which at the time served as home field of the baseball Lions.

“Columbia,” a poetic name for America, is derived from “Columbus.” It used to be a more common appellation. America personified as a woman called “Columbia” was a familiar figure in our popular culture (you may know her as the lady representing Columbia Pictures) before she passed the torch to Uncle Sam around the time of the First World War, when he began to establish himself as the face of the nation. In 1784, recent events had led King’s College, as it called itself up to then, to turn 180 degrees and rename itself “Columbia,” a strong statement that was perhaps felt to be all the more necessary given the school’s location in New York State, which had a reputation for leaning Loyalist.

Gehrig’s speech has been widely quoted the past few days. By virtue of its coinciding with the Fourth of July, it has come to epitomize something of the relationship between baseball and Columbia in the patriotic sense of that word. You’re less likely to have had served up to you on your screen the commentary, as it were. I mean Barzun’s lyrical essay about baseball and America. He worked it into his book God’s Country and Mine (1954). Here’s an excerpt:

People who care less for gentility manage things better. They don’t bother to leave the arid city but spend their surplus there on pastimes they can enjoy without feeling cramped. They follow boxing and wrestling, burlesque and vaudeville (when available), professional football and hockey. Above all, they thrill in unison with their fellow man the country over by watching baseball. The gods decree a heavyweight match only once in a while and a national election only every four years, but there is a World Series with every revolution of the earth around the sun. And in between, what varied pleasure long drawn out!

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game — and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams. The big league games are too fast for the beginner and the newspapers don’t help. To read them with profit you have to know a language that comes easy only after philosophy has taught you to judge practice. Here is scholarship that takes effort on the part of the outsider, but it is so bred into the native that it never becomes a dreary round of technicalities. The wonderful purging of the passions that we all experienced in the fall of 51, the despair groaned out over the fate of the Dodgers, from whom the league pennant was snatched at the last minute, give us some idea of what Greek tragedy was like. Baseball is Greek in being national, heroic, and broken up in the rivalries of city-states. How sad that Europe knows nothing like it! Its Olympics generate anger, not unity, and its interstate politics follow no rules that a people can grasp. At least Americans understand baseball, the true realm of clear ideas.

That baseball fitly expresses the powers of the nation’s mind and body is a merit separate from the glory of being the most active, agile, varied, articulate, and brainy of all group games. It is of and for our century. Tennis belongs to the individualistic past — a hero, or at most a pair of friends or lovers, against the world. The idea of baseball is a team, an outfit, a section, a gang, a union, a cell, a commando squad — in short, a twentieth-century setup of opposite numbers.

Baseball takes its mystic nine and scatters them wide. A kind of individualism thereby returns, but it is limited — eternal vigilance is the price of victory. Just because they’re far apart, the outfield can’t dream or play she-loves-me-not with daisies. The infield is like a steel net held in the hands of the catcher. He is the psychologist and historian for the staff — or else his signals will give the opposition hits. The value of his headpiece is shown by the ironmongery worn to protect it. The pitcher, on the other hand, is the wayward man of genius, whom others will direct. They will expect nothing from him but virtuosity. He is surrounded no doubt by mere talent, unless one excepts that transplanted acrobat, the shortstop. What a brilliant invention is his role despite its exposure to ludicrous lapses! One man to each base, and then the free lance, the trouble shooter, the movable feast for the eyes, whose motion animates the whole foreground.

The rules keep pace with this imaginative creation so rich in allusions to real life. How excellent, for instance, that a foul tip muffed by the catcher gives the batter another chance. It is the recognition of Chance that knows no argument. But on the other hand, how wise and just that the third strike must not be dropped. This points to the fact that near the end of any struggle life asks for more than is needful in order to clinch success. A victory has to be won, not snatched. We find also our American innocence in calling “World Series” the annual games between the winners in each big league. The world doesn’t know or care and couldn’t compete if it wanted to, but since it’s us children having fun, why, the world is our stage. I said baseball was Greek. Is there not a poetic symbol in the new meaning — our meaning — of “Ruth hits Homer”?

The rest here.

Needed: Two Minutes of Your Time



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As we celebrate our independence, let’s also take two minutes to remember the Iron Horse’s farewell to the game he so loved 75 years ago today:

More here, courtesy of author Dan Schlossberg.

Tags: MLB

Leonys Martin Has the Catch of the Day



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Leonys Martin and Nelson Cruz once stood next to each other in the sweltering Arlington outfield.

Oh, that was so 2013. Watch Martin commit highway robbery on his old pal:

“Take that, Nellie!” indeed.

Cruz’s Orioles got the last laugh, however, winning yesterday’s game, 6–4, allowing his club to remain one game behind the first-place Blue Jays.

Tags: MLB

The Vatican’s World Cup Tweet



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Hilarious:

Here’s the pic:


Argentina, however, went on to win. No new cartoon with a happy pope?

 

 

Tags: Soccer

Watch Angry Young Swiss Riot After Yesterday’s World Cup Loss



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This exclusive video after Switzerland lost a heartbreaker to Argentina comes from one Matias Tute Russo:

 

Hmmm, just like Michigan State, right???

More on yesterday’s other World Cup match here.

Tags: Soccer

9th Circuit Agrees to Rehear Bonds BALCO Case



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Via the New York Daily News, the all-time and single-season home-run king is back:

Barry Bonds’ bid to overturn a 2011 obstruction of justice conviction gained new life Tuesday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear the slugger’s case. A three-judge panel in the same federal appeals court upheld the conviction last September in a unanimous ruling, but Bonds still had the option to further his appeal.

An 11-judge panel will now be charged with either overturning or upholding the conviction. . . . 

Bonds was indicted in November 2007, only a few weeks after he last played in the majors, but in his criminal trial four years later, he was convicted on the one obstruction count. The jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. Prosecutors argued that the seven-time MVP gave “misleading or evasive” testimony when he testified before a grand jury in 2003 in connection with the government’s investigation of BALCO.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Frank Cashen, R.I.P.



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One of the national pastime’s very best front-office executives, Frank Cashen, passed away yesterday at a hospital on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He was 88.

Although Orioles fans will remember Cashen fondly for overseeing the construction of a championship franchise in Baltimore starting in the mid-1960s, most followers of the game will associate him with being the general manager who took over the hapless Mets in the winter of 1980 and turned them into a winner.

Richard Goldstein of the New York Times notes:

In nearly a quarter-century as a baseball administrator, Mr. Cashen made shrewd trades, but he focused on building farm systems, even with the arrival in the mid-1970s of bidding wars for high-priced free agents. It was something of an old-fashioned strategy that fit perfectly with Mr. Cashen’s collection of bow ties from a bygone era in men’s fashion.

He joined the Mets in 1980, after they had finished last in the National League East for three straight seasons, and built a 1986 championship ball club featuring Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman and Roger McDowell from the Mets’ farm system, together with Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Bobby Ojeda, Ray Knight and Howard Johnson, all obtained in trades. …

In November 2004, most of the Mets’ 1986 team was on hand to honor their manager and general manager at a charity function in New York. “I guess I owe everything to Frank,” Keith Hernandez said at the time. “He put together the deal that got me here. He’s a guy who achieved greatness in baseball without ever picking up a bat.”

More here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 6/30/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • After another dominant start from Clayton Kershaw, a 6–0 shutout against the visiting Cardinals, the Dodgers have snatched first place in the NL West from the hated (and slumping) Giants.
  • Using Dwight Gooden as a comp, SB Nation’s Steven Goldman shows that Tim Lincecum was able to exceed his present-day abilities to throw his second no-hitter in less than one calendar year.
  • As of this morning, the A’s have the best record in the bigs, at 51–30, and look well positioned to capture the AL West for the third consecutive season. More than a decade removed from the publication of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, Will Leitch of New York Magazine explores what general manager Billy Beane is doing right this time around. Among the findings:

The A’s do one thing more than any other team: They platoon. Most teams would look at players like A’s catchers John Jaso and Derek Norris and lament how badly they struggle against pitchers who throw from the same side of the plate as they hit. This is seen as a liability. But Beane and the A’s see it as a potential strength. Thanks to platoons, you can send a left-handed batter to the plate to face a right-handed pitcher and get a favorable matchup anytime. Which is what the A’s do. Oakland has 12 players with more than 100 at-bats this season, tied for the most in the majors, and last season, according to Baseball Prospectus, Oakland had the second-highest percentage of “favorable-handedness matchups.” And in baseball, every little bit matters.

It is difficult to find players who can do a ton of things well, and if you find them, they’re quite expensive. But it’s not as tough to find guys who do one or two things extremely well. And this has another advantage: Platooning keeps the players’ “counting” stats down, which means it keeps them inexpensive. Jaso is a valuable hitter, but he’s not even in the top ten among catchers in homers, RBIs, or hits. That’s because he’s 17th in at-bats. Arbitrators — who determine player salaries for the first part of players’ careers —,look at these stats, and value them, more than they should, which means part-time players will cost relatively less than they should. It’s another market inefficiency Beane exploits.

  • Despite their recent success in the standings, the A’s have headaches away from the diamond. Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm briefs us on why last week’s agreement to extend the team’s lease at O.Co Coliseum for an additional ten years got nixed shortly thereafter.
  • Thurm’s colleague, Paul Swydan, reminds us in “They Can’t All Be George Springer” that even top prospects who rise to big-league stardom don’t always do so right away.

  • Gaslamp Ball ’s “jbox” rightly takes umbrage at Mets color analyst Keith Hernandez for mocking pitcher Alex Torres for wearing one of the new, oversized caps designed to provide increased protection from batted balls.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: NFL

Cerone to Cano: You Blew It



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Via Charles Curtis of the Newark Star-Ledger, Robinson Cano hasn’t hit too many long balls since leaving the Bronx for the Pacific Northwest. Rick Cerone, who was a Yankees backstop back in the day (1980–84, 1987, 1990), was a guest on a satellite radio program yesterday and, in the course of the conversation, blasted the second baseman’s offseason decision to join the Mariners:

Big ballpark. Big mistake. No backup. No protection in the lineup. I mean, what a fool. Robinson Cano, I liked him as a Yankee. What a fool. Got bad advice. Yeah, he took more money but you know how much more money and exposure he could’ve had playing in New York, come to the lights. He’s going to go up to Seattle, we might see him once or twice in an All-Star Game. He’s only got four home runs. Four home runs for how many million, 200 and something million dollars?

Where to begin?

  • As of this morning, Cano’s overall offensive production, while low in the power department (.431 SLG), isn’t suffering at all when it comes to reaching base safely (.384 OBP). He’s on par with a very good 2009 season (.320/.352/.520) when looking at the useful weighted runs created plus (wRC+) statistic (125 today vs. 124 in ‘09).
  • Meanwhile, the Mariners have a better record than the Yankees (42-37 vs. 40-37), despite playing in a tougher division.
  • Seattle’s lineup is hardly a feared dynamo, ranking 12th in the American League in OPS+ (93), but the Bronx Bombers also have little to brag about, as they rank 11th (94).
  • The fans sure haven’t forgotten about Cano, as he holds a comfortable lead in All-Star Game voting for starting AL second baseman.
  • I don’t recall Cano being a darling of Madison Avenue at any point during his mostly-stellar nine-year tenure with the Yankees.
  • And most important, now that he’s escaped the clutches of the Steinbrenners’ extreme grooming policies, Cano has grown a healthy dose of facial hair.

Finally, let’s not forget that the Yanks’ PR machine is still reeling from the realization that, nearly 40 years after the franchise regularly took advantage of player free agency to poach other teams’ home-grown stars, they could be victimized as well. Hence, hitting coach Kevin Long’s mean-spirited accusations of Cano’s lack of hustle back in February.

More here.

Tags: MLB

One Last Time, Here’s Manny



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Manny Ramirez is not quite ready to hang up his spikes, at least at the minor-league level. Mark Townsend of Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew reminds us that the slugger is joining Iowa, the Triple-A club for the Cubs, to serve as player-coach.

Ramirez, 42, spent the past month at the Cubs’ spring training facility in Arizona preparing for his role by working out with minor league and rehabbing players, while also working himself into playing shape. Apparently, it didn’t take him long to knock off whatever rust he may have had. In an extended spring training game on June 4, he launched a mammoth 450-foot home run that was punctuated with a momentous bat flip. . . .

His role is also clearly defined. The Cubs have no plans on calling him up to the big league roster, regardless of how well he performs. He’s there to teach and talk hitting with anyone who will listen, which stands to benefit the organization greatly. The payback to Ramirez goes beyond earning a paycheck, it’s an opportunity to satisfy his own desires to continue getting at-bats in a competitive environment.

Actually, I see no reason why Theo Epstein shouldn’t consider bringing up Ramirez for a handful of plate appearances in September, once the Pacific League season has concluded. I suspect there are a few North Siders who would want one last opportunity to see Manny try to launch a ball onto Waveland Avenue.

More here.

Tags: NFL

Floods In Recife, Brazil Don’t Stop USA vs. Germany



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The World Cup goes on as the host city of Recife floods:

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​Even “Teddy Roosevelt” won’t be stopped:

 

Tags: Soccer

FIFA Bans Uruguay’s Luis Suarez From the World Cup



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USA Today:

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez will miss the rest of the World Cup, as well as the start of the English Premier League season, after FIFA banned him from all soccer for four months for biting an Italian player.

Suarez was banned for nine official matches, beginning with Uruguay’s round of 16 game against Colombia on Saturday. He’s also prohibited from being in the stadium when Uruguay plays.

 

Tags: Soccer

Former Litigator on Planned Chief Wahoo Suit: You’re Not Helping, Dudes



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Recovering litigator and NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk lead writer Craig Calcaterra offers his take on the planned federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians over their name and Chief Wahoo logo:

I think my record on the Chief Wahoo thing is pretty clear by now. I’m quite obviously not a fan. But there’s a big, big difference between thinking something is offensive and should be banished to history and thinking that thing actually entitles people to billions of dollars in legal damages. Some folks to whom I’d otherwise be sympathetic are going to learn that pretty quickly. . . .

The Cleveland Indians are a private corporation. They, like any other private citizen, can be as offensive as they want to be. . . .

Of course Robert Roche and the American Indian Education Center likely know this. And I presume they are merely seeking out some headlines in order to draw attention to their cause. But ultimately this sort of stunt is counterproductive as a means of swaying public opinion. A lot of people hate Chief Wahoo and a lot of people love him. But a lot MORE people hate lawyers and litigiousness and are immediately suspect of someone who files — or, in this case, threatens to file — lawsuits against their beloved institutions. Especially ones with little if any legal merit.

Put differently: you’re not helping, dudes. Keep up the protests and the public pressure. Even think about narrow, focused legal action with actual merit such as the trademark challenge the Redskins just lost. But cut it out with the billion dollar damage claims.

More here.

Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to say that the Padres never (ever!) want to face Tim Lincecum again.

Earlier today, the 30-year-old righty pitched his second no-hitter against San Diego in less than one calendar year. In the Giants’ 4–0 victory, Lincecum faced only one batter over the minimum, walking one and striking out six.

Tags: MLB

Are Chief Wahoo’s Days Numbered?



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Via CBS Cleveland:

A Native American group is planning to file a federal lawsuit against the “offensive” Cleveland Indians logo, Chief Wahoo.

Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and director of the American Indian Education Center, is planning to file a federal lawsuit in late July against the Cleveland Indians organization. Roche, who is also the leader of the group People Not Mascots, says the lawsuit will challenge that the team’s name and Chief Wahoo logo are racist.

“We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” Roche told WEWS-TV. “It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

Frankly, I’m amazed that the Chief Wahoo logo has survived this long — the depiction seems way more wounding than the name “Redskins” — but how is the “Indians” name offensive? Demanding $9 billion in damages for one’s not-for-profit, on the other hand . . .

More here.

Tags: MLB

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