Archive for Base Paths

Strange new hybrid plastic

Major League Baseball MasterCard issued by Bank of AmericaThis turned up on MLP.com MLB.com, home page for Major League Baseball, and I’m sure 99 out of 100 people who saw it didn’t see anything peculiar about it — which is, of course, where I came in.

BankAmericard, the brand, goes back to 1958, originally with Bank of America behind it. After about a decade, BofA began licensing the name to other banks, and in 1970 they withdrew from control: issuing banks became a de facto consortium, kind of like archrival Master Charge. Eventually it was decided that the card was still too closely associated with BofA, resulting in a 1976 name change: to Visa.

About thirty years later, BofA revived the name “BankAmericard” for a new rewards card, a Visa. It would never have occurred to me that there ever could be a BankAmericard that was a MasterCard, but there it is.

Really, I should have paid attention. BofA also these days issues American Express cards under license.

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Reverse thread

Now and then we see what could be considered an infelicitous name for a baseball club, particularly in the lower reaches of official Minor League Baseball or in the independent leagues that have no upward connections. I’m not sure this is as goofy as it sounds:

Logo of Wichita Wingnuts

The Wingnuts, founded in 2008, were an expansion franchise in the present-day American Association, which, unlike previous American Associations, is not a part of the Major/Minor continuum. Their first manager was Kash Beauchamp, about whom all you need to know is this:

Beauchamp was ejected, suspended for four games, and was not rehired — by any team — at the end of the season.

The current manager of the Wingnuts is, um, Pete Rose, Jr.

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Oh, the ex-Manatees

The Brevard County Manatees, the Class A-Advanced farm club of the Milwaukee Brewers, will move out of Brevard County next spring, into Kissimmee’s Osceola County Stadium. So “Brevard” has got to go. The new team will simply be designated “Florida” — but Florida what? Here are the six finalists:

  • Florida Dragonflies
  • Florida Fire Frogs
  • Florida Mud Kickers
  • Florida Rodeo Clowns
  • Florida Sorcerers
  • Florida Toucans

Yes, they do allegedly have fire frogs.

The winner will be announced later this month.

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Low and inside

Some 2015 data gathered by Major League Baseball suggests that the umpiring is good, but it could be better:

2015 data on taken pitches

Better than 90 percent of calls at the plate are correct — unless the next call will finish the at-bat, either with a strikeout or a walk. The umpires are evidently reluctant to make that last call. This is, suggests MLB, a reason to justify robotic assistance.

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Slap-happy

It was easier when all you had to deal with was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

The [Chicago] Cubs have terminated the stadium disc jockey who played the song “Smack My Bitch Up” after Aroldis Chapman’s outing Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

“We apologize for the irresponsible music selection during our game last night,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a statement on Monday. “The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue. We have terminated our relationship with the employee responsible for making the selection and will be implementing stronger controls to review and approve music before public broadcast during our games.”

After Chapman closed the ninth inning against the Cardinals, The Prodigy’s 1997 song was played. Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last October.

Chapman’s usual walk-up music is Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up.”

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I’m all about that baseball

While I was hospitalized, I rediscovered an old friend: baseball. In the period between the time they take the dinner dish away and the time they bring the nightly pain meds, baseball did a wonderful job of filling up the time I would otherwise use bewailing my fate and wishing I was dead.

Unfortunately for me, I managed to be in bed during the All-Star break, so there were a couple of rough nights to be faced. When I finally got out of there, I stayed with it, going back to the ancestral home of baseball: AM radio. No trick to pick up the local Triple-A club, the Oklahoma City Dodgers: they have a deal with one of the smaller stations. Getting the parent club is trickier: they have a nominal local affiliate, but not all the games get through the endless web of tedious talk shows.

When I discovered Sunday that the Pittsburgh Pirates/Los Angeles Dodgers game would not be carried here, I took action. I cranked up the tablet, which doesn’t get enough work, and installed Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, which gives me all the audio I can stand for twenty bucks a year. About halfway through the first inning, I had everything in place and running.

Standard MLB blackout rules apply to the Rangers, the Astros and the Cardinals, though not to the Royals.

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The stuff no one’s dreams are made of

When I was younger, I’d have jumped at the chance to spend some time in the broadcast booth at the ballpark; it’s a unique perspective, and the opportunity to meet guys like Vin Scully or the late Harry Caray was a powerful draw.

Perhaps it’s not so much in the minor leagues. OKC Dodgers radio guy and media-relations dude Alex Freedman mourns:

Now I’m sorry I missed the game.

(For the record: Dodgers 8, Chihuahuas 4. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, there is a ball club named after a dog.)

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Getting Ziggy with it

I’m kind of sorry I missed this:

Alternate uniforms for Bowie Baysox

The Bowie Baysox today announce that for one night only, the team has made the historic decision to change its name to the Bowie Baysox to honor legendary rock-star David Bowie, who passed away earlier this year. The Bowie Baysox David Bowie Tribute Event will be held Friday, July 22 as the team takes on the Erie SeaWolves at Prince George’s Stadium at 7:05 p.m.

The Bowie Baysox (pronounced Boo-ee) will make the ultimate dedication to the British musician who shares a heteronymous last name with the city by becoming the Bowie Baysox (pronounced Boh-ee) for this special night. The team will represent the star with Bowie music, contests and tributes throughout the event.

The Baysox are the Double-A affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles; they play in Bowie, Maryland.

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The right thing eventually done

The business of baseball occasionally flubs it:

[A] special Hall of Fame committee set up in 2006 to take care of remaining Hall-worthy Negro Leagues players exhibited truly adamantine dumbitude by leaving out John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, about two years before O’Neil’s death. The special committees had been necessary because the segregation of baseball by race had left too many great players shining on a less visible stage. Everybody knew how great Babe Ruth was. But not nearly so many knew how great Josh Gibson was, so extra effort was needed to research Gibson and top players like him so they could receive the recognition they deserved.

O’Neil himself didn’t consider his stats Hall-of-Fame worthy. As this otherwise kind of corny column in the Kansas City Star notes, he carried his list of Cooperstown-caliber-but-overlooked Negro Leagues players in his wallet. He didn’t list himself. But his contributions towards getting the biggest stars some of the attention they deserved and highlighting the untold story of Negro Leagues baseball are without peer. The committee that overlooked him did so to its eternal shame, especially since it was supposed to make the last recommendations from that era and then consider the case closed.

O’Neil was philosophical about the whole thing:

God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.

But now, the case is no longer closed:

But by including Negro Leagues players in its new “Early Committee,” the Hall now allows for the possibility that the face of Buck O’Neil could smile out at Cooperstown visitors sometime after 2020, when that committee first meets.

Don’t mess it up this time, guys.

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Down on the farm team

This might have been the least surprising announcement in all of baseball this week:

The Oklahoma City Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers announced today they have extended their Player Development Contract for two years. The extension keeps the OKC Dodgers as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate through the 2018 season.

“Our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers has been better than we ever imagined,” said OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes. “We have had an incredible string of success both on and off the field, and we’re looking forward to continuing it through the 2018 season.”

The affiliation began in September 2014, when Oklahoma City’s Triple-A franchise was sold to Mandalay Baseball, LLC — a partnership that includes ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There’s a lot to be said for ownership stability. Jeffrey Loria, current owner of the Miami Marlins, owned the former Oklahoma City 89ers from 1988 to 1992, and while he didn’t try anything weird during those years, once Loria got to the majors he became something of a pest:

Loria is considered a “meddlesome” owner. In April 2013, Loria reportedly had Ricky Nolasco and José Fernández switch the games of a doubleheader in which they were scheduled to pitch, violating clubhouse protocol. In July 2013, hitting coach Tino Martinez, who had been handpicked by Loria, resigned following allegations that he verbally and physically assaulted players, including Chris Valaika. When the organization considered promoting Valaika to the majors in August when Plácido Polanco was placed on the disabled list, Loria vetoed the transaction, and the team promoted Gil Velazquez instead.

The Blue Crew, however, apparently don’t play that way, and thank heaven (or Vin Scully) for that.

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Worst jerseys ever?

If you thought those New Orleans Zephyrs uniforms portraying the nutria were hideous, you ain’t seen nothing yet:

Admittedly, Burlington [North Carolina] is a Rookie-level team, in the Appalachian League, but this is, if you ask me, sub-Rookie-level design.

(Via the Kansas City Star.)

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Meanwhile, back in the swamp

It was either that or “Playing it coypu”:

The New Orleans Zephyrs, in collaboration with Pet Care Center Veterinary Hospital, will wear special jerseys featuring a nutria for their Friday, July 29 game against the Iowa Cubs.

Nutrias are brown-furred, plant-eating mammals that first made their home in Louisiana in the 1930s. The Zephyrs have utilized the nutria as the team’s mascots, Boudreaux and Clotile, since 1998.

The garb looks like, um, this:

Nutria jerseys in New Orleans

Perhaps it’s a good thing so few minor-league games are on television.

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It was one of those nights

A fairly routine Sunday game: Los Angeles Dodgers 9, St Louis Cardinals 6. Until you look at this:

Mike Meyers gets his first major-league loss

And yes, it’s just like it looks:

The Dodgers scored a half-dozen runs off Cardinals callup Mike Mayers before the Cardinals ever came to bat. The first four trotted home when Gonzalez tattooed a 2-2 fastball 427 feet over the center-field wall. Gonzalez finished the game with three hits, the second of which preceded Howie Kendrick’s home run with one out in the second.

That blast marked the end of the day for Mayers, who had been summoned for the spot start after the Cardinals’ rotation order was interrupted by a doubleheader earlier in the team’s homestand. Mayers, who had a 2.62 ERA in 18 Minor League starts this year, allowed nine runs before being pulled with one out in the second. It was the shortest start by a Cardinals pitcher making his MLB debut since Memo Luna in 1954.

Mayers is now back among the Memphis Redbirds, the Cards’ Triple-A affiliate.

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He’s a dawg

The Oklahoma City Dodgers are promoting what they call a Cali Club:

Cali Club at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Components:

Guacamole, diced tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and shredded lettuce on an all-beef hot dog!

Ask about it at Franx.

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For example, batting practice

As always, no law can anticipate all situations:

A change in federal overtime rules this December is expected to affect millions of workers nationwide. But one group might be missing out: players on minor league [baseball] teams.

Under the new rule, employers will soon have to either pay workers for overtime, or boost their salaries above about $48,000.

However, Vincent Candiello, a labor lawyer at Post and Schell in Harrisburg, is skeptical minor leaguers will be able to cash in.

“Are they entitled to overtime? Probably not because of the overall hours. So these new changes, these new regulations are going to have minimal impact, but if we get into some of the other offshoots about how do you count hours,” says Cardiello.

Candiello says if players are interested in overtime pay, they could argue their work day starts long before first pitch.

And how much do they get, anyway?

Most earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season. As a point of comparison, fast food workers typically earn between $15,000 and $18,000 a year, or about two or three times what minor league players make. Some minor leaguers, particularly those with families, hold other jobs during the offseason and occasionally during the season. While the minimum salary in Major League Baseball is $500,000, many minor league players earn less than the federal poverty level, which is $11,490 for a single person and $23,550 for a family of four.

Sheesh. Gotta be love of the game.

(Via Ben Allen.)

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The big board in the outfield

The Dodgers bring it home:

New scoreboard at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Mandatory hype:

The Oklahoma City Dodgers will install a brand new, state-of-the art center field digital video board at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

The new video board will utilize the existing structure and layout of the current scoreboard and video board. The entire structure will be approximately 32 feet tall by 56 feet wide, housing over twice the video display area of the existing center field video board at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The new high definition screen, designed by Daktronics, will be nearly 1,600 square feet, placing it among the top 10 largest in any Minor League Baseball stadium, as well as the fifth-largest in Triple-A baseball.

The board will feature a 15 mm display, making it two times brighter than the previous video board, which will improve fans’ ability to view the board in sunlight and bring a noticeable enhancement during day games.

The new video board will include variable content zoning, which will allow it to show one large image encompassing the entire screen, or be segmented into multiple zones for flexibility to highlight any combination of live video, instant replays, scoring information, up-to-the-minutes statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsor messaging. It will also incorporate industry-leading environmental protection and wide-angle visibility to appeal to every seat in the stadium.

Hope I get a chance to see it this year. The Dodgers say it should be ready by the third of August, when the Round Rock Express blows through.

Number 35 (ouch!) is right-handed pitcher Jacob Rhame, twenty-three, who pitched for the Oklahoma Sooners for one year, got drafted by the Dodgers organization in 2013, and arrived in Oklahoma City for 2016.

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Rehab: day nine

I’m still perplexed by the idea that knocking out 60 yards with a walker is somehow relevant to going to the fridge to fetch a beer.

On the upside, the Cardinals, with a big lead on the Brewers, said what the hell and gave a ninth-inning pinch-hitter slot to a chap named Alberto Rosario, who’d floated around baseball for a decade and more without so much a single at-bat in the majors. Seemingly glowing as he came to the plate, Rosario swung for the right-field fence, and was rewarded with a base hit and an RBI. This is the sort of one-shot brilliance that I always seem to need and never seem to have.

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Not to be confused with the Crackers

You (by which I mean I) gotta love this:

Since you asked, the Montgomery Biscuits are in the Northern Division of the Southern League (!); they’re the Double-A farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays. (On that Friday, the Biscuits rode a five-run second inning to a 6-3 victory over Jacksonville.) Wikipedia advises that “during games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon, into the stands.”

The Biscuits won back-to-back Southern League championships in 2006 and 2007, both times defeating the Huntsville Stars, who in 2015 relocated to become the, um, Biloxi Shuckers.

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This takes serious balls

Now and then, someone complains that baseball games go on too long. Well, yeah, I suppose, if they go 17 innings, one might get a little antsy. But little tweaks like this will not help:

Ordinarily, a pitcher’s job is to keep runners off the bases. But every now and again there is a strategic reason to put one on. Perhaps it will make a double play easier and end the inning more quickly. Perhaps the current batter spent his last two at-bats sending baseballs into geosynchronous orbit but the next one can’t hit the ground with his hat. There are other reasons, so the manager will tell the pitcher to throw four pitches outside of the strike zone. These are generally waaaaaay outside of the zone. The catcher will stand up and take two or three steps away from the plate to ensure even the wildest of lunges by the hitter won’t connect.

So, someone on the competition committee suggested, maybe we should just let the pitcher indicate he intends to intentionally walk a batter and not throw the pitches. It might save time.

Not bloody likely. The only time there’s likely to be much of a delay between each of those deliberately missed pitches is when the pitcher is also having to keep the guy on first (or perhaps some other base) from trying to steal. The only reason I can think of to enact something this preposterous is to be able to proclaim, “See, there is something dumber than the designated-hitter rule!”

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Without filtration

At first, I thought this was just another Sign of the Times:

The Houston Chronicle has apologized after publishing an article that directly quoted broken English from Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez.

In the article written on May 4, Brian T. Smith placed much of the blame for the Astros’ early struggles on Gomez.

And what did Smith say Gomez said?

“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,” said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09.

I suppose I could point out that baseball been berry, berry good to Gomez, but actually we’ve been here before, a hell of a lot earlier than any SNL catchphrases. The setup:

We pick up the story from H. Allen Smith, live from 1934:

You may remember that Mr. Baer struck Mr. Carnera with great force and great frequency around the face and head. When the Italian giant reached the dressing room he had large lumps all over his forehead, and his jaws were swollen. They took his ring clothes off and propped him up on a rubbing table, and he kept looking around the room without apparently seeing anything. His handlers faded back and left him sitting there beneath the light. Nobody made a move to do anything, so I stepped up to him.

“Did he hit you hard?” I asked him.

He stared at me for a full minute. Then his lips moved.

“Holy Jesus!” he said.

“Do you want to fight him again?”

“Holy Jesus!” mumbled Carnera.

“Do you think you could lick him if you fought him again?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Does your head hurt?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Do you think Baer can lick Schmeling?”

“Holy Jesus!”

At this point half a dozen or so of Carnera’s proprietors came crashing in, and the press was ordered out of the place. I was well satisfied. It was one of the most revealing interviews I had ever had. I was quite startled, however, the next day when I picked up the papers to see what the sports writers had to say about it. One of them quoted Carnera as having said:

“Max’s blows were very hard. He hurt me several times — I have to admit that. But I sincerely believe that I could defeat him and I would like to have another chance. I want to regain the championship.”

Carnera couldn’t have uttered those thirty-eight words in that sequence if he had gone four years to Harvard. Yet the other sports writers had composed the same sort of sheep dip with slight variations.

Boxing been very, very good to Primo Carnera. And Baer had licked Max Schmeling — the year before.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Must have been some pitch

What did KLAC (570 AM) in Los Angeles pay for the broadcast rights to Dodgers games? If you’re thinking an arm and a leg, you’re pretty close:

KLAC will be spun into Los Angeles Broadcasting Partners, a new holding company held by the two groups. iHeart [Media] will retain 51% of the ownership of the station as well as control of its day-to-day operations. The Dodgers through its LARadioCo will hold 49% of the station.

In case you weren’t paying attention, iHeartMedia is the group owner formerly known as Clear Channel.

And the Dodgers get one more chip:

As part of the deal, iHeart cannot launch another Sports station in the Los Angeles market for the next fifteen years without the written consent of the Dodgers.

Oh, KLAC is also carrying the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.

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The ghosts of Olympic Stadium

This seems a reasonable question to ask in 2016, and the Washington Post duly asks it: Why does a long-dead baseball club need a Twitter account?

The Montreal Expos don’t exist anymore. They’re a defunct brand that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2004. But they almost certainly have way more Twitter followers than you do.

By a factor of, oh, let’s say, twenty.

Baseball fans scrolling through their Twitter feeds today might have noticed a ghostly presence popping intermittently onto their screens. That’s because the Expos, dead for the last dozen years, appear to have somehow acquired the tweeting habits of a bored teenage girl who can’t stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend.

Then again, there is method in this seeming madness:

Montreal baseball fans were excited to be hosting a pair of spring training games this weekend between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. This marks the third straight year the Jays have concluded their spring exhibition schedule at Olympic Stadium, site of all those fuzzy Expos memories of yore. It’s a fun occasion for the expected 100,000 fans descending on the area, and, more importantly, it’s a chance for the city to show Major League Baseball that it craves a team again.

I note, just for amusement value, that the Expos’ account is on three Twitter lists, while the account of the Washington Nationals, the current designation for that franchise, is on only two. (I’m on 121, but don’t ask.)

And the Expos responded to the WaPo this way:

Also a reasonable question to ask in 2016.

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Yankees without number (1.9999…)

About three years ago, I did some whining about how the New York Yankees, having retired more numbers than any other Major League Baseball club, actually might not have enough numbers to outfit their spring-training squad.

There was one angle I apparently missed:

All told, the Yankees need 97 uniform numbers, give or take, in order to field a spring training team, and they only have 101 to choose from, even if they distribute 0 and 00, which seems cheeky for a team that won’t let its players wear beards.

Except, they don’t only have 101 numbers to choose from. Here’s MLB rule 3.03 (a), which is the only official instruction in the rulebook about uniform numbers: “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs.”

That’s it. Doesn’t that seem crazy? Almost every other sport lays out specific instructions as to which uniform numbers can be worn, but not MLB. Everyone freaked out about Eddie Gaedel’s one stunt plate appearance, but it’s a historical footnote that it was 100 percent legal for him to wear 1/8 on the back of his jersey. It doesn’t say they have to be one or two digits, or integers, or even Arabic numerals.

Gaedel, three foot seven, pinch-hit for the St Louis Browns in one game in 1951; Detroit Tigers pitcher Bob Cain, more amused than annoyed, walked him on four pitches. (Duh.) Gaedel was then pulled for a pinch-runner. (Duh squared.)

The Yankees obviously aren’t going to play any dwarves, even in spring training, but triple digits, fractions, and even irrational numbers are open to them:

The story goes that Yasiel Puig wears No. 66 because Dodger clubhouse manager Mitch Poole said he was a “little devil,” but there is nothing stopping Puig from wearing No. 666 if he so chose. If you can fit Avogadro’s number on your back, it’s within MLB uniform regulations to take the field wearing it.

Hmmm. 6.02 × 1023, rounded off. That’s a lot of six-inch digits.

(Via Fark.)

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You belong to me

Ah, San Diego, where the weather is usually wonderful and the happenings around town are often inexplicable:

With many wondering whether the Chargers are leaving Qualcomm Stadium for Los Angeles, San Diego’s other major sports venue — Petco Park — has become the subject of a bizarre ownership controversy sparked by a mentally ill man who filed a simple document.

Derris Devon McQuaig took legal title to the downtown ballpark away from the city and the Padres two years ago by walking into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitting a properly filled-out deed transfer.

Seriously.

The ownership is supposed to be: City of San Diego, 70 percent, Padres Limited Partnership 30 percent.

County and city officials have been quietly trying to remedy the situation ever since, but a felony fraud case against McQuaig was dismissed last week after a judge ruled he’s not mentally competent to be prosecuted.

Because no actual sale or transaction took place, government officials and real estate experts say there’s essentially no chance of McQuaig taking control of the property, which was recently appraised at $539 million and is slated to host its first All-Star game in July.

But McQuaig has created a legal and bureaucratic nightmare that could be perpetrated on any property owner if someone decides to target them by casting doubt on their title in this way.

Meanwhile, McQuaig resides in a Home for the Bewildered State Hospital in San Bernardino County, and the assessor’s office back in San Diego says that well, McQuaig did what the law requires:

“As long as he’s crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s and filled in the blanks sufficiently on the grant deed, we’re required to record it. He had no legal authority to transfer Petco Park to himself, but it becomes part of the public record.”

Some day this incident will be a comic opera.

(Via Vice Sports.)

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Slush driven to left field

Tallulah Bankhead’s Wikipedia page devotes less than one paragraph to her enthusiasm for baseball in general and the then-New York Giants in particular.

There is, of course, more to be seen in her 1952 autobiography, from which Sheila O’Malley has excerpted a few bits:

Though I remain serene when confronted with royalty, I get downright hysterical when looking at a champion in action. About to fly to England to start my radio season in The Big Show in the fall of ’51, my enthusiasm was chilled because I would miss the “Sugar Ray” Robinson-Randy Turpin fight, would be out of touch with the Giants, panting, when I left, on the heels of the Dodgers.

Attending a Giants game with me, say my cronies, is an experience comparable to shooting the Snake River rapids in a canoe. When they lose I taste wormwood. When they win I want to do a tarantella on top of the dugout. A Giants rally brings out the roman candle in me. The garments of adjoining box-holders start to smolder.

And this disclosure surprised me:

It’s true I run a temperature when watching the Giants trying to come from behind in the late innings, either at the Polo Grounds or on my TV screen. I was hysterical for hours after Bobby Thomson belted Ralph Branca for that ninth inning homer in the final game of the Dodgers-Giants playoff in ’51. The Giants had to score four runs in the ninth to win. Remember? There was blood on the moon that night in Bedford Village. But I don’t know nearly as much about baseball as Ethel Barrymore. Ethel is a real fan, can give you batting averages, the text of the infield fly rule and comment on an umpire’s vision.

Ethel Barrymore? Then again, why the hell not?

The downside of this, of course, is every time from here on out I hear “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!” I’m going to hear it in Tallulah’s voice.

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Lines like that

Said I the other day: “Baseball is basically statistics plus sweat.” And truth be told, sometimes the statistics are more interesting:

Bryce Harper’s bat is one of baseball’s most feared weapons, but on Thursday night at Nationals Park, the slugger’s lumber was just one more observer.

Harper put together a performance unlike any other in Major League history in the Nationals’ 15-1 win over the Braves, reaching base four times and scoring four runs, all without an official at-bat.

His final batting line — zero at-bats, zero hits, four runs, one RBI and four walks — was truly unique. It’s the first time in modern history that a hitter has drawn at least four walks and scored four runs and driven in a run without a hit or an at-bat.

Nice lumber, slugger.

Then again, obviously Atlanta didn’t want to pitch to him:

On Thursday, the Braves didn’t throw him one to hit. Harper saw 20 pitches from three pitchers in his four at-bats, and the bat stayed put on his shoulder for all 20.

The Braves may take solace in the fact that those three pitchers in aggregate managed four actual strikes among those twenty pitches.

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Gauging the distance

In this morning’s paper: Dodgers win, move a season-best 30 games over .500.

Um, okay. The Oklahoma City Dodgers, Triple-A farm club for the Los Angeles Dodgers, won their 85th game last night, bringing their record to 85-55. (The Pacific Coast League plays a 144-game season, so the series starting tonight against the Memphis Redbirds will close out the regular season, after which the Dodgers go on to the PCL playoffs.)

And 85-55 is certainly nothing to sneer at. But is it really 30 games over .500? A team that actually was .500 through 140 games would be 70-70 — and would be 15 games behind.

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Zombie pitcher on the mound

No, wait, he’s not dead, or even undead:

If the Dodgers have figured out the Lazarus Effect, all of baseball is threatened.

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One of those weeks

Pitcher Matt Boyd was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2013, and was assigned to the Class A Lansing Lugnuts. (I mention this because I just wanted to say “Lansing Lugnuts.”) He toiled in the minors for a season and a half, rising to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats (nearly as much fun as “Lansing Lugnuts”) and, last month, the Triple-A Buffalo Bison. (The Department of Redundancy Department says hello.) And then he was called up to The Show.

He lost his first start, against Texas: before being pulled in the seventh inning, he gave up four runs, but he struck out seven, tying the Jays record for strikeouts in a debut. Things got worse after that:

Blue Jays left-hander Matt Boyd failed to record an out in his start [Thursday] against the Red Sox.

Boyd allowed seven straight batters to reach base before being pulled. He walked one and gave up six hits in the frame, including back-to-back home runs from David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Liam Hendriks allowed two inherited runners to score after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought the hook, so Boyd ended up being charged with seven runs.

Boyd’s ERA, which was 5.40, is now 14.85.

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