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Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Fort Worth Cats: Julio Franco Is Still Not Dead



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Fifty-five-year old Julio Franco is tanned, rested, and ready, according to the PR department for the Fort Worth Cats:

The Fort Worth Cats’ General Manager, Craig Brasfield, proudly announced today that former major leaguer Julio Franco will join the Fort Worth Cats Baseball Club as player/coach for the first home stand of the 2014 season, which begins on Tuesday, May 20. Based upon Franco’s addition, the United League has extended the Cats initial homestand through Wednesday, May 28. Franco’s addition to the team will allow him to join a rare fraternity of players to play five decades of professional baseball.

Julio Franco, a former Texas Ranger, has a long and decorated Major League Baseball career that spanned 26 years and included play with eight different MLB teams, two Japanese League teams, one Mexican League squad and one other in Korea. In 2004, Franco passed Cap Anson as the oldest regular position player and thereafter became the oldest MLB player to hit a home run, a grand slam, a pinch-hit home run, multiple home runs in a single game, and to steal two bases in a single game. . . .

I’m very excited about the opportunity to play and coach in Fort Worth and reconnect with my friends, former teammates and Texas Rangers staff members,” said Julio Franco. “I love Fort Worth and I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the younger players and entertain the fans.”

Franco went on to say that he’s “feeling better each day.”

More here.

Tags: MLB

Brazil’s Advice for the World Cup: Don’t Scream While Getting Mugged



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Washington Post:

Last month on a traffic-clogged road in Rio de Janeiro, a TV camera flickered to life. In its frame was a squat Brazilian woman wearing a necklace and a flower-pattern blouse. She and the interviewer discussed the increasing numbers of robberies, deteriorating security and inadequate police protection. Then, in the middle of the interview, a slight man materialized in the frame, ripped off her necklace and bolted into traffic as the woman wailed.

Her interviewer chased the robber, yelling at him to come back.

According to Brazil’s police, which are trying to prepare for next month’s World Cup amid a soaring crime rate, the broadcaster did the wrong thing. He shouldn’t have chased the thief.

Not in a country like Brazil. Not in a city like Rio.

Rather than ignore the many problems plaguing the country’s preparations for its games – droughtmurderstriking policeballooning costsmismanagement and Dengue fever – police are inching toward resignation. They know Rio de Janeiro state, which saw more than 4,000 murders in 2012, is pretty dangerous. And the 600,000 tourists who are expected to descend upon Rio should know it, too.

So Rio police have compiled a list of tips on navigating the city’s violence, including asking tourists to refrain from screaming if someone robs them.

“Do not react, scream or argue,” says the brochure, which will be disseminated at Brazilian embassies and other consulates, according to the BBC. Police warn tourists against flaunting valuables to check and make sure no one’s following them. Mario Leite, the director of World Cup security in Sao Paulo says “tourists come mainly from Europe and the United States, where they do not see this crime very often. … There is no use crying over spilt milk.”

Maybe they’re trying to get the Olympics moved from Rio? The rest here.

 

Tags: Olympics

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Andersoon Cooper Interviews Donald Sterling



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Here’s the write-up and a highlight video from CNN:

And here’s Anderson Cooper talking about the hour-plus-long interview where he says Sterling ”seems totally competent”:

Of note, Sterling does signal in the video that he’s not sure he’d take legal action against the NBA if it came to that.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: NBA

Johnny Manziel, Michael Sam Lead in NFL Rookie Jersey Sales



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CBS Sports:

By Friday at 5 p.m., some 20 hours after the Browns traded up to No. 22 to take quarterback Johnny Manziel, the team’s ticket office sold more than 2,300 season tickets. So it’s no surprise that he also has the league’s top-selling rookie jersey, according to the NFL (viaOutsports.com).

Second behind Johnny Football: Michael Sam (7th round, 249 overall), the NFL’s first openly gay player. He’s followed by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (first round, first overall), and quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater (first round, 32nd overall) and Blake Bortles (first round, third overall).

“This is unprecedented for a Day 3 pick, let alone a seventh round pick, to crack the top five rookies sold following Draft weekend,” NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter said.

More amazing: Sam’s jersey didn’t go on sale until Saturday night while jerseys for Manziel, Clowney, Bridgewater and Bortles were all available Thursday when they were drafted six rounds earlier.

“We think this is a sign of what we’ve been saying all along, that Michael’s inclusion in the NFL is bringing fans into the game who weren’t previously consumers of the NFL game,” his agent Cameron Weiss, told ESPN.

I understand what Sam’s agent is trying to do, but a 7th-round pick making it onto the 53-man roster would be an impressive feat, no matter who the rookie is dating. And I don’t think Weiss has any evidence that Sam’s selection by the Rams has done anything to bring “fans into the game who weren’t previously consumers of the NFL.” If Sam makes the team, then we might see if his selection has done anything to expand the NFL’s reach. Until then, this is all hype.

 

MLB Reportedly Accepted Stolen Goods in Quest to Take Down A-Rod; No One Cares?



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I am going to blame being ensconced in drizzly (yet otherwise beautiful) Vilnius for missing this pretty big revelation from Newsday’s Gus Garcia-Roberts:

Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them, according to Florida investigators and an April police report obtained by Newsday.

MLB investigators bought Biogenesis records anyway, and a Boca Raton police detective investigating the theft noted that baseball officials neglected to notify law enforcement officials that they had done so for nearly eight months. …

In the face of legal challenges and public criticism from Rodriguez and others about how they handled their investigation, baseball officials have steadfastly denied that they knowingly bought stolen Biogenesis records.

“We have stated repeatedly that we had no knowledge that the documents we purchased were stolen,” MLB senior vice president of public relations Pat Courtney said Friday when contacted by Newsday about the Boca Raton police report.

Sandra Boonenberg, a spokeswoman for the Boca Raton Police Department, stated unequivocally that a Florida investigator “warned MLB not to purchase the documents” and that the investigator told their detective about that conversation “before the documents were purchased” by MLB. The Boca Raton Police Department had not informed MLB of the results of its investigation, Boonenberg said.

In addition to the subsequent radio silence from Commissioner Selig’s office, Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk blasts the overall lack of interest to the scoop from media outlets, including columnists not based in Lithuania and well-known for their intent to see A-Rod’s head placed on a spike à la Ned Stark:

I wrote stuff about it. Some people tweeted some things. But unlike almost any other story of even half that magnitude involving drugs, crimes, A-Rod or even the mundane stuff of MLB management, there have been no major media people weighing in. No blog posts or columns from mainstream people at ESPN New York or Fox . No Daily News I-Team report. No radio shows touching on it that I’ve seen. Yes, it’s all been learned by people today for the most part, but usually by 5:30pm on the day of, we’d have some coverage from the online outlets and radio and probably even a quick, early version of whatever is going to run in the newspapers tomorrow. A [Bill] Madden or a [Mike] Lupica quick take. I’m not saying this is a “everyone drop everything and make it your top story” kind of story, but you [know] damn well that if A-Rod farted in a hot tub in Cabo last night there would be wall-to-wall coverage from the usual suspects by now. …

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that none of the people who offered wall-to-wall opinions about A-Rod’s ethical failures and even his evil — remember; Madden of the Daily News compared him to Whitey Bulger — there hasn’t been anyone besides a few of us loon jobs in the blogosphere willing to wade into the possibility that MLB committed a pretty major transgression here and that maybe — just maybe — it’s a relevant coda to the Biogenesis story? Especially if you’re someone like the Daily News I-Team, which touts the awards it won for covering the Biogenesis story on its front page.

And what about those players who went so far as to push for A-Rod to be expelled from the union? Perhaps they might have second thoughts upon learning that their employer has been accused of accepting stolen documents in order to learn about the personal habits of a colleague?

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

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Reveille 5/12/14



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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 Rangers’ official scoring decision of an error — charged to Texas right fielder Alex Rios — sparked a contentious debate on MLB Network, which was simulcasting the game. Emmy-winner Harold Reynolds approached berserk levels as he tried to reason with Mitch Williams, as Reynolds asserted Rougned Odor’s starting position (playing in an extreme shift against David Ortiz) made the play non-routine, while Williams insisted Rios’s failure to call off Odor constituted an error of communication, and thus a “legal” error.

Reynolds wasn’t right, either — he insisted that because the ball never touched a glove, the decision was “garbage.” By the letter of baseball’s rules, sure — it’s an error. But by convention, official scorers almost never assign an error unless a fielder makes a physical mistake in the fielding process (which generally means the fielder touches the ball).

The premise of the argument is legitimate. The way these MLB Network broadcasters go about it, though, is embarrassing. Harold Reynolds, at one point, states the scoring decision is “the worst ruling in Major League Baseball history.”

  • According to Sports on Earth’s Matthew Kory, fans of AL East teams might want to remember the name Mookie Betts. The 5′9″, 156-pound infielder in the Red Sox farm system is tearing up Double-A ball (.392/.449/.600, as of Sunday morning) and might just see action with the parent club when rosters expand in September.  

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Plan B: London For the 2016 Summer Olympics?



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The Telegraph reports:

IOC chiefs ‘make secret plea’ to use London 2012 venues as Rio 2016 Olympic Games fall behind schedule
An informal approach has been made by IOC chiefs to ascertain whether enough of the London 2012 Olympic venues could be brought back into use, report claims

So worried are Olympic organisers by how far behind schedule the 2016 Rio Games has fallen, London has reportedly been asked, in secret, if it could host the event at the last minute.

According to the London Evening Standard, an informal approach has been made by IOC chiefs to ascertain whether London’s 2012 Olympic venues could be brought back into use.

The build-up to the Rio Games has been labeled a shambles, with every venue badly behind schedule, spiraling costs and accusations of negligence.

IOC vice-president John Coates has already called Brazil’s preparations “the worst I’ve experienced”, with just two years to go and a football World Cup to host in between.

An “unprecedented” special task force has been set up to try and speed up preparations but the situation on the ground is said to be “critical”.

Actually, allowing cities who win bids to host back-to-back Olympics might make more economic sense than the current model.

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

NFL Draft Soundtrack Released



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Here’s the list of the “walk-up” songs for every prospect attending the draft.

Note: Johnny Manziel picked a song about himself.

 

 

Tags: NFL

Trouble For the NBA: Shelly Sterling Wants To Own the Clippers



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Via the Los Angeles Times:

Shelly Sterling hopes to keep ownership of the Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said Wednesday that she believes she is legally entitled to maintain ownership of the NBA team and will attempt to do so, even as the pro basketball league pushes to remove her husband from the team he has owned for 33 years.

Sterling described her long tenure as a “die-hard” fan of the Clippers and said she believes that the sanctions against Donald Sterling — which included a lifetime ban and $2.5-million fine — do not apply to “me or my family.”

Shelly Sterling’s position presents a “wild card” for the pro basketball league as it faces its biggest crisis in memory, said a league official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Her intention to hold on to the team is a wrinkle apparently not contemplated by NBA officials when they moved nine days ago to strip her estranged husband of ownership.

And. . .

The NBA has sent signals that it is uncomfortable with Shelly Sterling’s continued presence in the organization. The league let her know that it would prefer that she not attend playoff games Friday and Sunday at Staples Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder, said the NBA source. But league officials privately acknowledge that they do not know how they can prevent her from attending.

Over to you, NBA. My prediction is that at least some members of the Sterling family are going to own the Clippers for as long as they want. 

 

Tags: NBA

Tommy Lasorda Has the Quotes of the Day



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Via WPBF.com, watch Tommy Lasorda discuss Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist tirade to his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano:

“I’ve been a friend of that guy’s for 30 years,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he said those things. And he shouldn’t have said it. He just hurt himself by talking too much and doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”

Way to go, Tommy. You elected to remain friends with Sterling for all that time even though you knew how he felt about African Americans? By the way, are you merely scolding your buddy for allowing himself to get those words caught on tape?

But wait, there’s more. The 86-year-old Lasorda then added: “And I don’t wish that girl any bad luck but I hope she gets hit with a car.” 

Never mind Tommy’s less than affectionate feelings for Stiviano, how exactly is being struck by a moving vehicle not “bad luck?”

More here.

Tags: MLB

1957-5-7, 57 Years Ago Today



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In the first inning of a night game at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland 57 years ago this evening, Gil McDougald of the Yankees hit a line drive that struck pitcher Herb Score in the face, shattering bones and injuring his right eye. Score left the game and was out for the rest of the season. In a TV interview months later, he recounted the confusion on the field and said that as he lay on the ground he prayed, “Saint Jude, don’t leave me.” At Score’s funeral Mass at St. Christopher Church in Rocky River, Ohio, in 2009, his teammate and close friend Rocky Colavito corroborated that detail, saying that as he ran in from right field to the mound he heard Score say, “Saint Jude, don’t leave me.”

The legend is that his mother, when she heard, immediately went to work praying to Saint Jude for her son and for McDougald, who had run straight to the mound instead of first base. Afterward he said he would quit baseball if Score lost his sight in the eye that his line drive had hit. Score regained his vision in full and in 1958 showed his old form in spring training and through the first weeks of the regular season. On April 23, he tore a tendon in his left elbow, and that was that. It was the injury that derailed and soon ended his once-promising career, he always maintained. Later in his eulogy, Colavito took the congregation practically through an inning-by-inning account of Score’s recovery of his powerful pitching motion and then his inexorable slide into ineffectiveness after the tendon tear.

Score had been called “the left-handed Bob Feller,” and Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle rated him the toughest southpaw they ever faced. He had two phenomenal seasons, 1955 and 1956. In ’55, he struck out 245 batters, a rookie record (since broken by Dwight Gooden) and the first time a major-league pitcher had averaged more than one strikeout per inning pitched. In May of that year, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and in the off-season he was elected American League Rookie of the Year. In 1956, Feller’s last season, the baton was passed from the righty superstar ace to the lefty superstar phenom, as Score went 20–9 and averaged 0.65 hits per inning, which is not many. He was 23 when his career was interrupted, never to complete its trajectory.

Score’s middle name was Jude, and he learned his devotion to the saint from his mother. Saint Jude was invoked at several critical junctures in Score’s life. At age three, he was run over by a truck, and doctors said he would never walk again. I could probably multiply examples of Saint Jude’s intercession in his life, but that will be a story for another day.

The First-Ever Walk-Off Replay



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Here’s the exciting footage from last night in Pittsburgh, showing Starling Marte’s sprint around the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game:

It’s evident that the original out call was a result of the home plate umpire’s suboptimal positioning. Marte’s dive blocked Quinn Wolcott’s view of Buster Posey’s attempted tag, which missed the Pirate’s outstretched right arm. 

Wow.

 

Tags: MLB

Completing a Hail Mary . . .



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. . . is always much easier if you throw it to yourself:

 

New Career for Drew Bledsoe: Vintner



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For real. The Massachusetts state house just approved a proposal to allow direct sales of wine, which would allow Bledsoe to ship his Washington State wine to Patriots fans.

Two lawmakers would have the state loosen the state’s regulation of wine sales at vineyards and online.

New policy proposals from Rep. William Straus and Minority Leader Brad Jones were adopted without discussion during the third and final day of debate on the state’s annual budget. They would need to clear the Senate before becoming law.

The Jones amendment would create a new license for direct wine sales, which is something former New England Patriots quarterback and current vintner Drew Bledsoe has lobbied for. The license would be available to wineries with federal permits, costing $300 initially and $150 for renewal.

The wineries would need to pay taxes on the shipments and would be penalized for shipping to anyone underage.

And it turns out, Drew Bledsoe makes a good bottle of wine:

Oh sure, he’s in the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, but his Doubleback Cabernet landed on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in its very first year. Holy touchdown!

Wine Specator gave his 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla Valley a whopping 95 points.

And more recently the 2010 got 95 Points from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. The guy is still scoring.

But I bet there’s probably a vintner on the bench who would make an even better one. The rest here.

Tags: NFL

NFL Draft: Michael Sam is a ‘Non-Entity,’ ‘Short and Slow’



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New York Post:

After the big names are off the board in the NFL Draft, the biggest question may not be when Michael Sam will be picked, it may be whether Michael Sam will be picked at all.

Despite being named the Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC, Sam’s underwhelming physical measurables and his lack of a defined role in defenses could prevent him from being the first openly gay player selected in the draft.

In a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel poll of 21 scouts, 12 said they wouldn’t draft Sam, while three said he should be taken in the fifth round, three said sixth round and three said seventh round. Seven of the scouts said they wouldn’t even sign Sam as an undrafted free agent.

The piece characterized Sam as “a non-entity” in addressing the absence of draft chatter. Sam’s shaky draft status is based on the belief he is too small to play linebacker and too slow to play defensive end, a poor fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

“It’s a tough fit when you’re short and slow and a try-hard overachiever,” one AFC executive said. “That’s the issue.”

Tags: NFL

Reveille 5/5/14



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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:

30) Chicago White Sox — 1.37
- Hawk Harrelson (play by play)
- Steve Stone (analyst, play by play — select)
- Aaron Rowand (analyst — select)
- Mike Huff (analyst — select)
- Tom Paciorek (analyst — select)

Most popular grade: F (46% of voters)

Analysis: No crew received more total F’s or a higher percentage of F’s than the White Sox crew. Essentially, people either despised Hawk (for obvious reasons) or tolerated him for the sheer humor of it all, while there was a soft spot for analyst Steve Stone. . . .

1) San Francisco Giants — 3.46
-Duane Kuiper (play by play)
-Jon Miller (play by play)
-Dave Flemming (play by play)
-Mike Krukow (analyst)

Most popular grade: A (74% of voters)

Analysis: The Giants had more A grades than any other team in the league, and that total surpassed the total amount of votes that seven teams had. Kuiper and Krukow topped our reader rankings, and there wasn’t much negativity at all towards them. The Giants have a real depth chart of great announcers across television and radio. Perhaps a surprise #1 choice, but one that is certainly worthy of the top spot.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Why is Sterling’s ‘Racist’ Wife Getting a Pass?



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Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, has her own issues. Via Talking Points Memo:

On Sunday, two days after an audio recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist comments was released online, his wife, Rochelle Sterling, told ESPN she didn’t condone the statements.

“I’m not a racist,” she said. “Never have been, never will be.”

On Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reported on court documents that undercut that assertion.

During a 2009 deposition, a tenant in one of the Sterling’s apartment buildings accused Rochelle Sterling of once calling him a “black m—f—” during a discussion.

“I asked her again, I asked her, ‘would you reduce the rent?’” Darrell Rhodes said in the deposition, according to the Times. “And she said, ‘who do you think you are, you black m—f—.’”

Rhodes sued the Sterlings in federal court in 2007, accusing the couple of discriminatory behavior. His case was ultimately part of a $2.765 million settlement reached in 2009 between the Sterlings, the Justice Department, and other Sterling tenants, according to the Times. As part of the deal, the Sterlings did not admit any wrongdoing.

If we apply the same standard to Shelly as Donald, shouldn’t she be banned from the games, too? 

But she’s not. She even has the support of Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers who reportedly told her to attend Game 5 against the Warriors as well as his public support of her after the game:

“It’s a tough one for Shelly [Sterling], really,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said following a 113-103 Game 5 victory over the Golden State Warriorson Tuesday. “She didn’t do anything wrong either. You have compassion for her. I kept hearing about the girlfriend. I kept thinking, ‘Shelly is the wife.’ You know what I mean? I talked to her [Tuesday] and she has been through as much as anyone as well.”

We’ll see how long that lasts, however, as Doc was made aware of Shelly’s past by a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News:

It’s more complicated than Shelly’s past issues, too. Shelly was seen in public with her husband after the story broke and after she publicly condemned his comments. A TMZ reporter who captured the couple leaving a restaurant asked her if she thought her husband was a racist. She “loudly” answered, “of course not.” 

So over to you, NBA. Time to ban Shelly for life, too. You know, to be fair.

 

 

 

 

Tags: NBA

Miguel Montero Has the Look of the Day



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Via Marc Normandin of SB Nation:

The Diamondbacks catcher had just sent the fans home happy with a tenth-inning, walk-off home run to beat the Rockies, 5-4, thereby improving the club’s record to a slightly less dreary 9-22.

No matter: While in his euphoric state, Montero exclaimed that he and his teammates were about to “shock the world.”

Good luck with that, King Dubble Bubble.

H/T Craig Calcaterra.

Tags: MLB

Robbie Ray Is Coming to the Bigs



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Remember last December’s trade between the Tigers and Nationals that sent Doug Fister to Washington while Detroit netted pitching prospect Robbie Ray, a reliever, and a utility player no longer with the club? Most commentators immediately after the deal was announced seemed to wonder what  Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski had been smoking when shaking hands on this deal.

For instance, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs persuasively asserted that trading Fister (career ERA 3.53; career xFIP: 3.68) per se wasn’t the scandal:

We haven’t seen a player this good get traded for this little in years, and it’s mystifying how Mike Rizzo managed to get Fister for this price. This deal put the Nationals right back in playoff contention, and it did so for such a low cost that I still haven’t found anyone who thinks the Tigers made a good trade. When a deal is universally accepted as a heist, you’ve done something very right.

Andrew Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans had a similar view but was a tad less restrained:

With all the talk of the extravagant prices on the pitching market this winter, and the millions of dollars and sparkling prospects it’s going to take for [Blue Jays GM] Alex Anthopoulos to do what he needs to do to fix his rotation, uh . . . how the hell did he not get in on Doug Fister? How did he not beat the offer the Washington Nationals were making for Doug Fister?

####, how did anybody not beat this offer? . . .

It’s just . . . for Fister??? A ####-you-not top starter in the Majors? 12th in WAR among starters this year by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference?

Now comes word that we will soon get to see Dombrowski’s investment up close, as the 22-year old Ray, who has pitched well in his five starts at Triple-A Toledo, is slated to get called up:

The Tigers have announced that left-handed starter Robbie Ray will be recalled and make his Major League debut against the Astros next Tuesday.

As for Fister, he developed elbow trouble during spring training and isn’t slated to take the mound for the Nats until the day after Ray’s start. Meanwhile, Ray is likely to return to the minors after Anibal Sanchez comes off the disabled list in less than two weeks.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Shaquille O’Neal Apolgizes to the Fan He Mocked Online



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So sorry:

Always learning? I wonder what’s next on his curriculum. Maybe, “don’t bite a classmate on the playground?”

Tags: NBA

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