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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Jose Altuve Has the Swing of the Day



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“Did he jump?”

“I think he may have.”

“I think he jumped.”

“Wow.”

Indeed, the rather diminutive Jose Altuve leaped out of his Keds cleats to swing at — and, amazingly, make contact with — a pitch above his head on a hit-and-run attempt in last night’s game against the Rangers.

Astros fans (yeah, they still exist) are in love with their 5-foot 6-inch, 175-pound second baseman, whose .345/.380/.459 slash line and 5.1 fWAR is nearly identical to those of the more widely known and celebrated (not to mention considerably taller) Robinson Cano and his .321/.387/.463 and 5.4 fWAR.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 9/22/14



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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:

But there’s something he’s currently doing that no one else has managed to replicate. In making the move from second base back to third base, where he played in college at Rice, Rendon has made significant statistical improvements defensively. He has nine defensive runs saved (DRS), which ranks eighth among third basemen (he also has four DRS at second base in the games he’s played there).

For a third baseman, DRS is based on the ability to turn batted balls into outs, convert double plays and defend bunts. The majority of Rendon’s defensive rating comes from his defending bunts like no one else in the 12 years that the stat has been tracked. Rendon has six defensive runs saved specifically from fielding bunts. No one else in the majors has more than two. In fact, no player has recorded as many as six runs saved in the 12 seasons in which this stat has been tracked.

One of the reasons for this is volume: The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Rendon leads the majors with 22 assists on bunts this season. Rendon has nailed the lead runner on bunts three times and recorded a double play once (those four plays provide a nice spike to his numbers). He’s also recorded at least one out on each of the sacrifice attempts against him this season. In all, he’s fielded 26 bunts, and they’ve resulted in at least one out 23 times. That’s a success rate that hasn’t been matched. 

  • With the Giants on the cusp of a postseason berth, will Tim Lincecum be on the roster? Dave Tobener of West Coast Bias thinks his exclusion unlikely but seems pretty certain that San Francisco is better off without him.
  • Alec Dopp of Gammons Daily profiles Pirates castoff Steve Pearce, whose rise to stardom has made him the Orioles’ most valuable player this season.    
  • High Heat Stats’ Doug has the skinny on Orioles castoff and now Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, whose career was in serious jeopardy after posting an 80 ERA+ in more than 400 innings through 2013. 
  • With one scheduled start left, Yankees castoff Phil Hughes may finish 2014 with the MLB record for the best single-season strikeout-to-walk ratio. Hardball Talk’s D. J. Short has the details on the Twins hurler. 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

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Girardi and Jeter’s Place in the Batting Order



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Last night at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter swung at an 82-mph ”fastball” from R.A. Dickey and deposited it into the left-field stands, his fourth home run of the season. It also lifted his slugging percentage back above .300.

That’s right: Jeter’s slugging percentage now stands at .303. His on-base percentage remains just south of the Jeff Francoeur line at .299 and ranks 147th out of 150 qualifying players in on-base plus slugging.

And yet not once this season has his manager filled up a lineup card with the future Hall of Famer batting lower than second, never mind that heading into Labor Day the Yankees were only 3 1/2 games out of the wild card and only one other team was ahead of them.

Meanwhile, Brett Gardner, arguably the team’s most productive hitter, has started in the eight hole no less than five times and, on nine occasions, seventh.

In case you were wondering, during another shortstop legend’s final season, Cal Ripken hit fifth, sixth, or seventh in all but two of his 125 game starts in 2001, never mind that he had been a fixture as the third-place hitter for most of his career. (Moreover, the Orioles finished the season with 98 losses, so it’s not even as though it mattered where he hit in the lineup.)

Two evenings ago, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote a piece that pretty much questioned Joe Girardi’s commitment to winning, suggesting that the Yankees skipper was putting the retirement tour ahead of a postseason appearance:

Back in April, Joe Girardi talked a big game. But in the end, Girardi couldn’t deliver on his promise, not even close.

“I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour,” Girardi said back at the beginning of the season to the question about whether the long good-bye expected for Derek Jeter might affect Girardi’s decision making.

No, Girardi insisted. Winning games is all that counted. It was a strong sentiment, a stronger statement. But it’s one the Yankees manager couldn’t back up, not by a long shot.

In the end, Girardi batted Jeter second throughout the year despite plummeting results. Jeter, 40, stands second on the Yankees in at-bats despite ranking near the bottom of the league in offensive categories and last in baseball among 150 qualifying hitters in slugging percentage.

Jeter even DH’ed several games in Girardi’s lineup despite spending his final season as a non-threat. There is only one explanation for his continuing lineup placements. Jeter wasn’t treated like a ballplayer but a god by his manager, and that’s after he promised the opposite.

In the end, Girardi put on that farewell tour for the all-time great, and what a splendid one it was. The fans all caught more than a glimpse of Jeter, thanks to the deity treatment. And in the end, the manager hurt the Yankees’ chances to win with his fan-pleasing batting orders. . . .

Jeter wasn’t treated like a ballplayer but a god by his manager, and that’s after he promised the opposite.

It certainly appears that Girardi is taking orders from the front office, which seems to think that the franchise would rake in way more money by keeping Jeter near the top of the order (and not removing him from the game in the later innings in favor of a better defender) than trying to lock down a postseason berth.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Man Nabs Home Run Ball, Loses Wedding Ring



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How many married men living in and around Chicago would consider catching a home run ball off the bat of Jorge Soler while losing their wedding ring a fair trade . . . well, at least until they arrived home from the ballpark?

 

 

As the fan noted, the ring was safely retrieved and, as a bonus, Soler signed the ball, meaning his evening had a happy ending.

Or so we think.

Tags: MLB

deGrom K’s First Eight to Tie MLB Record



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With all due respect to Billy Hamilton, Jacob deGrom (2.68 ERA, 3.08 xFIP, and 3.35 K/BB in 21 starts) is almost certainly the National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner, particularly after last night’s performance at Citi Field. The 26-year old fireballer fanned the first eight Marlins he faced, tying a MLB record (i.e., since 1900) set by Jim Deshaies of the Astros on September 23, 1986.

All that stood in deGrom’s path for setting the record was the No. 9 hitter, Jarred Cosart, the opposing pitcher. (In contrast, Deshaies faced a pinch-hitter who popped up to second base.)

And wouldn’t you know? Cosart, who came into the game with only two hits on the season, swung at the first pitch, a fastball, and smacked a single into right field.

Of course, the Mets managed to lose the game, 6–5, and deGrom, who ultimately struck out 13 batters while surrendering three runs over seven innings, received a no-decision.

And to make matters worse, when our great-great-grandchildren look back at his historic performance, the only thing they’ll ask each other is: “Why on Earth were deGrom and his teammates wearing heinous camouflage uniforms?”

Tags: MLB

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Reveille 9/15/14



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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:

Like [Madison] Bumgarner, [Chris] Sale is signed with his team through the end of 2017, with the chance of staying for as late as 2019. Barring injury, it’s hard to imagine the White Sox declining those options.

That’s because they’ll owe Sale just $12.5 million and $13.5 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, if they pick up the options. Those two seasons fall during Sale’s age-29 and 30 seasons, when he’ll still likely be in his prime, and they come after the Sox lefty makes a combined $18.65 million from 2014–2016.

Sale’s ERA, ERA+ and FIP all lead the American League, which means he’s been the best pitcher in the league by just about every metric that measures run prevention. He has also seen his K/BB ratio rise for the third straight season. Somehow, Sale is only getting better.

Bravo, [general manager] Rick Hahn.

Why — and secondarily, how — does a fan root for his team when the rooting is paid back with ineptitude? Why — and again, how — does a fan remain loyal, both emotionally and televisually, when clownball is the return for allegiance? What’s the reward for watching games on TV?

  • ESPN’s Jim Caple tells us pretty much everything we want to know about batting practice
  • Watch one of the most impressive home runs of the season, courtesy of Matt Holliday. Not only was the ball hit a country mile, but it left the playing field in a flash.      

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

A Dark Time in Troy: USC’s Boston Disaster in Perspective



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I was at the game Saturday night, and I share my fellow Trojans fans’ disappointment at the outcome. But there are a couple of silver linings to our thundercloud. 

First, I think this team needed a wake-up call. The Trojans did not play well in our victory over Stanford, and our sudden leap up to #9 in the national rankings was not an accurate indication of the quality of our play. 

Second, and much more important: On a cold wet night on the East Coast, there were many hundreds of vocal USC fans at the game . . . and their reaction genuinely impressed me. When things went badly, and even at the end of the game, none of them that I saw actually looked sad or angry. One of my favorite moments came in one of the interior walkways after the game, when the USC marching band was processing out, playing a tune: There were some 10 or 20 people — in USC gear and not — cheering them on and flashing the “fight on” V-sign at them. I joined in, and it made me feel better about the game: It’s good to have fans who don’t lose heart, whose love is not conditional on victory. This is especially so given USC’s reputation for feeling “entitled.” I have lived in cities where I experienced that phenomenon of fan entitlement: Montreal with the Canadiens, New York with the Yankees, and Washington, where the Redskins used to win Super Bowls. I think the Trojans fans on Saturday showed a better way. It helped that the hometown fans were very polite: I think the BC fans were as shocked as the USC folks at what happened. (One guy sitting behind me said, “Wait, is this the USC? Or, like, the University of Southern Connecticut?” By the fourth quarter he was cell-phoning all his friends, “turn on your TV, you’ll never believe . . .”)

PS. It was great to witness the celebration of the 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, who had played lacrosse at BC. The BC coach gave the game ball to Mr. Crowther’s parents.

Chris Davis’s Suspension and a Five-Year-Old Boy



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The Virginian-Pilot has the moving story of a stricken five-year-old boy’s wish not yet being granted:

It was the one thing 5-year-old Kaden Abshire really wanted to do Friday before watching his Baltimore Orioles take on the New York Yankees. The boy with a genetic disorder wished to meet Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. 

It didn’t happen.

Major League Baseball announced that morning the 28-year-old slugger was suspended for 25 games because he’d tested positive for amphetamines. He couldn’t play Friday, and more important, he couldn’t meet Kaden.

“He took it fine,” Princess Hepner said of her grandson. She said he got to meet left fielder Nelson Cruz instead and got to take home a bat signed by Cruz and a ball and picture that Davis signed.

“Kaden knew who Nelson Cruz was before we did,” Hepner said with a laugh. “He’s happy.”

Kaden was born with Holt-Oram syndrome, a little-known disorder characterized by skeletal abnormalities of the hands and arms and sometimes heart problems. Hepner said he may need a heart-and-lung transplant in the future. . . .

The Make-A-Wish Foundation – a nonprofit that organizes memorable experiences for children with life-threatening medical conditions - presented Kaden with six tickets earlier this week for today’s game. The organization also arranged for Kaden to meet Davis.

Kaden’s mother, Rachel Abshire, was killed last year by a friend of his father in a murder-for-hire. Both men have since pleaded guilty and received lengthy prison sentences. …

But how did Kaden take the news his favorite player was suspended? Well, no one’s told him.

“They just told him Davis was at the doctor and couldn’t come,” Hepner said. “He doesn’t know.” 

More here.

Tags: MLB

Pence Throws His Bat at Ball, Gets Hit and RBI



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From today’s Diamondbacks-Giants game at AT&T Park, watch Hunter Pence, who’s never been accused of being one of the game’s more graceful players, literally throw his bat at the pitched ball, resulting in a base hit and run batted in.

In 40 years of watching MLB, both in person and on the boob tube, I can’t recall before today ever seeing a batter pull off such a feat.

The Giants ultimately won the game, 6–2, and are now only two games behind the division-leading Dodgers.

Tags: MLB

Cutch’s Fun Run around the Bases



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Do me a favor: Watch Andrew McCutchen circle the bases at Citizens Bank Ballpark last night and tell me that he’s not just as exciting to watch as his center-fielder rival Mike Trout

 

Thanks in part to Cutch’s inside-the-park home run, the Pirates defeated the Phillies, 6–3, to close within 3-1/2 games of the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central.

Tags: MLB

How Not to Succeed at Baserunning



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If the Royals lose the AL Central to the Tigers, possibly denying Kansas City its first postseason berth since 1985(!), this play in last night’s ninth inning in Detroit will undoubtedly be what the team and its bitterly disappointed fans will remember:

 

 

ESPN SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield shares the details:

Trailing 4–2 in the top of the ninth to the Detroit Tigers, in a game the Royals needed to win to maintain their lead over Detroit in the AL Central, they had two runners on against a sweaty Joe Nathan, the proverbial case of “on the ropes.” Nathan was taking a long time between pitches, the home fans had grown quiet and the Royals had the meat of their order up with no outs.

Norichika Aoki was at second base, pinch runner Terrance Gore had entered at first base. No. 3 hitter Alex Gordon, the team’s hottest hitter, stepped in. Nathan fell behind with two fastballs, but fought back to strike out Gordon on a foul-tip 3–2 slider.

Now things got interesting. Royals manager Ned Yost inserted speedster Jarrod Dyson to run for Aoki. Was that move necessary? When Dyson’s run isn’t the important one? Well, maybe Yost had something up his sleeve. Consider the circumstances:

  • Salvador Perez, the hitter, had grounded into 21 double plays — or 18 percent of all his potential double-play opportunities. That makes Perez one of the most likely hitters in the majors to ground into a double play. Of hitters with at least 50 double-play opportunities, Casey McGehee had the highest percentage entering Tuesday’s action, at 23 percent. Perez ranked in the top 20.
  • On the other hand, Nathan doesn’t throw a lot of ground balls, 42 percent of his balls in play, a little below the major league average of 47 percent.
  • However, Nathan is also pretty easy to steal on: As ESPN colleague Mark Simon pointed out, baserunners had been 10-for-10 stealing against Nathan this season and 44-for-46 going back to 2006. I’m pretty sure Yost didn’t know this, but Nathan also had one pickoff in his career.
  • Dyson and Gore are burners. Dyson was 33-for-39 in stealing bases on the year and was 20-for-22 in his career attempting to steal third. He’d been picked off three times this year. The rookie Gore had one steal but was 47-for-54 in the minors.

So that’s the setup. And . . . Nathan picked off Dyson (in a play officially ruled a caught stealing, even though Dyson was caught as he stumbled back to second base) and Perez struck out on a slider six inches off the plate and the game was over. . . .

(From postgame tweets, Yost says he did not have a double steal on for that particular pitch, but that Dyson had a green light to steal. The problem with that description is that it doesn’t tell us what Gore was going to do — it would be up to him to read Dyson, which doesn’t necessarily mean he’d attempt to steal second — and he’s the guy you’re trying to get into scoring position. If Gore doesn’t steal second, Dyson stealing third is pointless. So I don’t really buy this explanation from Yost; it doesn’t explain what he wanted the more important runner to do.) 

​More here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 9/8/14



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Good morning.

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

If you add up all [of this year's] players currently listed on the 60-day disabled list and considered them as consecutive jail terms, the Rangers would be serving nearly two years. . . .

None of that has anything to do with Washington except that it apparently caused him to suffer a serious loss of perspective as epitomized by his suggestion that Yu Darvish pitch through elbow inflammation because to do otherwise would be to “quit on his teammates.” “So he’s got inflammation,” Washington shrugged. “I’ve got inflammation.” (In an example of either good or bad timing, depending on your point of view, I wrote about this as part of my quotable series earlier on Friday morning.)

Washington later disowned those comments, but they called into question not only his judgment, but his whole raison d’etre given that he was a terrible X’s and O’s manager. His whole appeal was based on his ability to manage players as people, not as chess pieces. If you’re a danger to those pieces, risking breaking them for questionable gain, or character-assassinate them in the press, well, then what are you contributing? You’re not the morale officer anymore, you’re just the boss, and not a good one. He may well have retained the respect of the players right down to the day of his resignation, but at that point there are bigger issues at stake, greater risks to be avoided.

Watch Little League superstar Mo’ne Davis challenge Jimmy Fallon

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Reveille 9/2/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make the post–Labor Day blues a bit more bearable:

  • Bill Madden is hardly a Derek Jeter critic, but even the New York Daily News columnist is taking note of the future Hall of Famer’s hitting woes. After a dreadful August, Jeter finds himself a dreadful 145th out of 152 MLB batting-title qualifiers in OPS (.622).
  • Another No. 2, the currently injured (torn labrum in hip) Troy Tulowitzki, made it clear to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he will retire before moving from the shortstop position:

It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you. . . . it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.

Baseball is now dealing with the consequences of having spent a solid decade telling anyone who would listen that baseball is awful and no one should watch it. . . . He would have spent his formative years as a sports fan in the immediate aftermath of a canceled World Series, hearing that greedy players were destroying the game and that the dynastic Yankees team dominating the sport was such an affront to its competitive integrity that drastic measures had to be taken to give other teams any kind of chance at winning. He would have heard about the commissioner touring the country threatening to abolish various teams, some of them successful ones. He would have seen the league enthusiastically cooperating with a congressional investigation that all but treated many of its most famous players as criminals; the league touting an owner-written report claiming that those players were frauds, cheats, and liars; and the league and the government working together with small-time con men to destroy the very best of those players.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Jessica Valenti: All-Women Sports-Talk Shows Don’t Promote Real Equality



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First Valenti wrote that nail polish designed to detect date-rape drugs encourages “rape culture,” and now she writes that CBS’s new sports-talk show featuring only women somehow ”provides the illusion of equality,” not real equality:

Is CBS Sports’ new ladies’ talk show really an excuse to push women aside?
Giving women separate shows while failing to address gender disparities in existing programming just provides the illusion of equality

We need more women in sports and more female-anchored television news shows — the current lineups on most of them are mostly pale, all-male and correspondingly stale. But creating separate spaces for women’s ideas and commentary isn’t equity: it’s table scraps.

For instance, when launching an all-female sports show, don’t name it something that sounds more like a voyeuristic break-up reality show than a sports program. We Need to Talk, an hour-long primetime show that will premiere on CBS Sports this fall, will feature solely women commentators and be produced and directed by a female team. But this feels more like giving up on women viewers – and sportscasters – than “girl power”.

Giving women their own separate shows while failing to address the gender disparity in existing programming simply provides the illusion of equality: companies get kudos for supporting women without the hard work of creating systemic change.

Besides, is there something so different about women’s commentary and ideas? Will female pundits have some particularly gendered view of sports that isn’t acceptable for CBS’s run-of-the-mill shows? By creating “women’s programs”, what we’re saying is that the male perspective is the normal one. The real one.

The rest here.

She’s right and she’s wrong on both issues.

On an op-ed page or in a lecture hall, she makes sense. Women shouldn’t have to live in fear of date-rape drugs. Women should be considered equals when commenting on sports. This is life in the theoretical. 

But we don’t live on op-ed pages or in lecture halls. Women do have to worry about scumbag men drugging and raping them. Audiences for sports-talk on television and radio do get to choose who they listen to, and might choose, for example, a man who has played in the NFL instead of a woman, no matter how insightful, who’s never taken a snap. This is life as it is.

We really need both the theoretical and the real. While Valenti focuses on the the op-ed/lecture hall aspects of pursuing equality, she’s missing positive changes. Inventors developing products to make women safer and programmers airing media formats that give women a voice are good things.

There’s also no downside for the examples listed above, even if the ideas are total flops. What if nobody buys the nail polish? At least the topic of men assaulting women is being talked about, and in a new way that’s getting it op-ed space in the Guardian. And what if the CBS show fails? Again, Liberals like to assume, like in the movie A Field of Dreams, “if they build” a show, viewers/listeners “will come. ” That’s not how it works. You start small, build an audience, prove yourself, and then get the big job. Take Michael Strahan as an example. There’s not a person who would have predicted that when Strahan retired from the New York Giants, he’d eventually replace Regis Philbin. None. I’m still surprised he’s on the show. But, hey, it works. Viewers love Live! With Kelly and Michael, and now Strahan is appearing on Good Morning America as well.

But where did Strahan start his career in broadcasting? It wasn’t with Fox and the NFL, but with the DIY Network and a home improvement show in 2007. He started on Fox in 2008, and didn’t break out as Regis’s replacement in 2012. 

CBS is giving women journalists a platform to, at worst, begin to build an audience that they will carry with them in their careers. That’s good news, not simply window dressing. 

Of note, Valenti is criticizing this CBS show before it’s even aired: 

“By creating ‘women’s programs,’ what we’re saying is that the male perspective is the normal one. The real one.” A single episode of this new CBS show has yet to air.

Maybe we should watch an episode first before declaring it a failure, no?

And I can’t let this one pass: Valenti tries to paint sports-talk programming as “pale.”

Well, if we’re using the Guardian as the benchmark for our pale-o-meter, I think people of color in sports media are doing pretty well. Here are the five columnists featured on the top of the Guardian’s ”Comment” section of their U.S. website. . .


And here are their pictures . . .

These writers can use a little sun I think. In the spirit of equality, of course.

Tags: Sports Media

Reveille Rainout



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Good morning.

A much deserved quasi-vacation is the reason for this week’s Reveille’s being washed away. It will appear next on Tuesday, September 2.

Meanwhile, enjoy this GIF, courtesy of SB Nation’s David Roth, of the way-amazin’ Yasiel Puig slamming, nabbing, and tossing his batting helmet, pretty much all in one motion:

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Michael Sam Sacks Johnny Manziel



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Video here:

 

Tags: NFL

WaPost Editors Won’t Use ‘Redskins’ Any Longer



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From the editors of the Post:

Washington Post editorials will no longer use ‘Redskins’ for the local NFL team

But this isn’t as big a deal as it seems as the the decision of the editors to stop using “Redskins” only applies to editorials and not the rest of the paper or website:

What we are discussing here is a change only for editorials. Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be. Nor do we intend to impose our policy on our readers. If you write a letter about football and want to use the team name, we aren’t going to stop you.

That seems pretty self-serving. The term is only banned in the part of the paper that won’t lose them angry readers? 

 

Tags: NFL

POTUS Rejects ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ From Lebron James



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TMZ:

He rejected Ethel Kennedy. 

He rejected LeBron James. 

He even rejected Justin Bieber!!

And it seems pretty clear … President Barack Obama believes images showing the POTUS dousing himself in ice water would be damaging to the presidency. 

Oh, please. The president is no stranger to cold water, even braving the frigid temperatures of Martha’s Vineyard over his vacation:

But can Obama handle East Coast ocean temperatures? In a somewhat shocking revelation later in the day during remarks at a fundraiser, the president said, “I found, as somebody from Hawaii, the water is still a little cold.”

A dip in the Atlantic Ocean counts, right?

 

Tags: NBA

Reveille 8/18/14



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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:

  • The Royals remain in first place in the AL Central. In an article that includes references to the disastrous Howard the Duck film, Tom and Jerry cartoons, the Treaty of Versailles, and the short-lived Carpatho-Ukraine republic (no, really, it’s in there), SB Nation’s Steven Goldman explains why the good times are unlikely to last.  

Most of Smyly’s changeups have gone for balls. That’s bad for the run value. Many others have gone for hits — some of those for extra bases. That’s worse for the run value. Smyly, like a lot of lefties, has a pretty pronounced platoon split, and it’s something he’ll need to improve on if he wants to become a more reliable starting pitcher down the road. To get better, Smyly doesn’t need to get a better changeup, but that would be the most direct path, which is why he’s still working on the pitch. Perhaps the Rays figure they can help him out, either with the change or by turning his change into a splitter. The good news for Smyly is his changeup isn’t a finished product. The bad news is right now all he has is a scattered assortment of parts without instructions.

  • David Golebiewski of Gammons Daily documents how former first-round amateur-draft pick Anthony Rendon has thrived in 2014 even as two other top-ten picks on the Nats, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, have been bitten with the injury bug. 
  • Yasiel Puig’s ”heartwarming gesture” to former Brooklyn Dodger Carl Erskine and his adult son caught the attention of Dodger Insider’s Cary Osborne.
  • Had Nolan Ryan been born in 1987, not 1947, would he have been given an opportunity to start big-league games? Oh, and is there reason to suspect that Ryan took steroids? Radical Baseball’s Kevin Matinale responds to both questions.    
  • What does Red Sox chairman and vanquished MLB-commissioner candidate Tom Werner have against Gettysburg, The Ten Commandments, Gone With The Wind, and Once Upon a Time in America? NESN’s Nick Solari has the details.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Ray Chapman and the Whole Pivotal 1920 Season



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Let not this weekend of August 16–17 pass without some remembrance of Ray Chapman. Ninety-four years ago today, the Cleveland Indians shortstop died at St. Lawrence Hospital in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. The day before, he was hit in the head by a pitch at the Polo Grounds. He is the only player in MLB history to die from an injury sustained on the field.

The 1920 season unfolded as one long pivotal moment in baseball history. The Black Sox scandal, which happened the previous fall, was gradually coming to light. It led to the major-league owners’ appointment of the first commissioner of baseball; Kensaw Mountain Landis took office in November. In hindsight, 1920 stands out also for being Ruth’s first season in a New York uniform. He was in right field when Chapman was struck down. I suppose you could multiply the events worth noting.

For a detailed but lucid account of “the pitch that killed” and of the whole busy season, off the field as well as on it, read this classic by Mike Sowell. The writing is almost flawless. You should be able to inhale it in a single sitting, maybe two.

 

 

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