Archive for Base Paths

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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Perhaps out of their league

It has come to this. The Mets, otherwise a few ticks over .500, lose to a hockey team?

I suspect high-sticking.

Actually, the Blue Jays beat the Mets 7-1, so I figure some lazy individual at this CBS station just grabbed the first Toronto logo he could find.

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What’s more, he’s never rained out

If you were ever impressed by mere switch-hitters, this should absolutely astound you:

The uniform design used by the A’s evidently conceals his gills.

(Via Darleen Click.)

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Welcome to the Show

You gotta love something like this:

Rookie third baseman Joey Gallo had an incredible Major League debut with three hits, including his first Major League home run, and four RBIs to lift the Rangers to a 15-2 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night.

Gallo’s home run came in the third inning with one on and one out. He crushed a first-pitch fastball off of White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija into the upper deck in the right-field porch that was projected by Statcast™ to land 445 feet away from home plate. It left the bat at 108 mph.

Just arrived from the Rangers’ Triple-A outpost in Round Rock? Apparently not:

Catcher Carlos Corporán said: “We lost one of the best players and we bring that guy from Double-A and perform the way he did was freaking awesome.”

The Frisco RoughRiders, then. (Thank you, Carlos, for your eloquence.)

Gallo is 21 and has hit lots of long balls in his day: in 2013 he won the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, swatting forty for the Class A Hickory (North Carolina) Crawdads. And one of the great things about this game is that you can totally unironically have a team called the Crawdads.

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A winning formula in many sports

Sports broadcasts these days contain all manner of statistics, as though they had any actual predictive value.

Then again, this one apparently does:

I’d say that’s downright indisputable.

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One of those Things That Don’t Happen

The Washington Nationals-San Diego Padres game last night was delayed because of rain, an exceedingly uncommon occurrence in America’s Finest, or at least Driest, City. James Wagner, who covers the Nats beat for the Washington Post, put up this possibly incredulous tweet:

Bees? Petco Park was covered in bees? Well, not exactly:

On July 2, 2009, MLB experienced its first game to be delayed/halted by a swarm of bees at Petco Park in a game between the Padres and the Houston Astros. A small swarm of honeybees took up residence around a chair in left field, causing the game to be delayed by fifty-two minutes. A beekeeper was called in and the swarm was exterminated.

Aw, geez. You didn’t have to exterminate them, didja?

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Getting a move on

The season’s just started in Triple-A baseball, and I haven’t dragged my miserable self to the ballpark just yet, so I missed the big Pitch Counter, the dictates of which will be enforced starting the first of May:

Pitchers will be allowed 20 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position.

The pitcher does not necessarily have to release the ball within 20 seconds, but must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position to comply with the 20-second rule.

For the first pitch of an at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.

The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position.

If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.

Umpires have the authority to stop the 20-second timer and order a reset.

Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter’s box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.

Following an umpire’s call of “time” or if the ball becomes dead and the batter remains at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher is on the pitcher’s plate and the batter is in the batter’s box, alert to the pitcher.

And should there be a Pitch Clock Violation, the count increments by one ball; presumably, if the count is already at three balls, the batter walks.

This isn’t the only rule change intended to speed up the games:

Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.

Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the inning break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.

Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the inning break timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.

Should any of this prove Not Heinous, we may see it at the major-league level eventually. I’m not sure what I think of this yet, largely because I have yet to see it in an actual game; I have yet to hear the guy doing the radio call make any mention of someone getting a warning from the umpires for dawdling.

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Like the priests for whom they were named

The San Diego Padres are spending about $125 million on player salaries this year, ninth highest in Major League Baseball. And the team is spending money on a pitcher who can no longer pitch, there being no place for his wheelchair on the mound, but that doesn’t matter to the club’s front office:

San Diego has signed former left-hander Matt LaChappa to a minor league deal each year since 1996, when LaChappa suffered a heart attack while warming up in the bullpen for a Class-A game. He was only 20 at the time.

Now minor-league players aren’t exactly rolling in dough, so this isn’t costing the Padres a whole lot. Still, there’s a very good, even very kind, reason for this:

LaChappa, now 39, is now a wheelchair user, and his contract with the Padres gives him access to health insurance.

If possible, this is even more remarkable: LaChappa was pitching for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League, which in 1996 was the Class A affiliate of the Padres. Affiliations change over the years, and the Quakes are now a farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers; the Padres’ current Class A club is the Storm, over in Lake Elsinore. This doesn’t matter one bit to the Padres. Says Padres director of minor-league operations Priscilla Oppenheimer:

“It’s our way of saying to Matt that you’re a Padre for life. When Larry Lucchino [the team’s former president who now holds the same position with the Red Sox] was here, he said that’s the way it should be. And as long as I’m here, that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

(Via Fark.)

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Class personified

Quite apart from putting a permanent crease in the phrase “throwing like a girl,” Mo’ne Davis has demonstrated maturity far beyond some of us:

Mo’ne Davis, heroine of the Little League World Series, said the college baseball player who was dismissed from his team for posting an offensive tweet about her should get a second chance at playing.

Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) University’s Joey Casselberry, a junior first baseman, was thrown off the team after tweeting: “Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada.”

Davis told SportsCenter on Monday that she wrote an email to the school asking officials to reinstate Casselberry.

The university confirmed that they received her request. She explains:

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Davis said. “Everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way. I know people get tired of seeing me on TV. But sometimes you got to think about what you’re doing before you do it.

“It hurt on my part, but he hurt even more. If it was me, I would want to take that back. I know how hard he’s worked. Why not give him a second chance?”

Oh, and despite her formidable baseball prowess, she wants to play in the WNBA some day. Heck, she might be able to play in the NBA. (Yeah, she’s five-foot-four — now.)

The Disney Channel original movie, incidentally, is called Throw Like Mo.

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Because BlueHawks wasn’t happening

The announcement that the Oklahoma City RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League will be renamed “Dodgers,” what with the team being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization — common ownership, and there’s a farm-club deal in place — did not go over well on Twitter, although some of us tried to temporize:

One common argument was that there is no history of dodging here in the Big Breezy. I demurred:

I don’t think this mollified anyone. Meanwhile, owners of the Iowa Cubs were not available for comment.

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61*

It’s a year, a number of years, and a time to reflect that there may actually be some crying in baseball — and some laughs, too.

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All the wrong junk

There needs to be a formal deward — polar opposite of “reward” — for convincing yourself that you’re clever despite abundant evidence to the contrary. A timely example:

By employing Joe Buck to call games, Fox Sports pretty much automatically wins the race for the worst baseball coverage ever. But they decided to gild the lily by airing several members of both World Series teams miming along to Meghan Trainor’s brainless ode to female esteem based on male approval, “All About that Bass.”

At least it wasn’t BASEketball.

Now if someone had actually sat down and rewritten the song from a proper baseball perspective, that would constitute shaking it like they’re supposed to do. (“I’m all about third base, no shortstop”? Not funny, but more effort than has been put forth up to now. )

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Winding up like this

From about a week and a half ago, here’s Jessica Alba, doing that ceremonial first-pitch thing for the Dodgers:

Jessica Alba throws out the first pitch at Chavez Ravine

Good form, as they say. Still, the Brewers scored seven runs in the first four innings and the Dodgers failed to catch up, falling 7-2.

Speaking of good form, here’s a January still from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

Jessica Alba looking Jessica Alba-esque

Readers of Fashion Bomb Daily approved this look by better than seven to two.

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Your 2015 Oklahoma City BlueHawks

The Oklahoman is reporting that the Pacific Coast League’s Oklahoma City RedHawks are about to be sold to a group affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that next year the Birds will be the Dodgers’ Triple-A farm team.

As it happens, this year the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate is in Albuquerque, and things aren’t working so well:

The Dodgers reportedly have been searching for a city more suitable to evaluate their top prospects. Starting last season, the Dodgers have required Isotopes officials to place baseballs in a humidor to try to counteract the effects of the thin, dry air, Albuquerque being 5,300 feet above sea level.

The RedHawks, says the report, should sell for somewhere between $22 and $28 million.

Update, 17 September: Here’s the official announcement.

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No, the other glove

I don’t know about the rest of you, but something like this would definitely affect my singing voice, at least temporarily:

Last Friday … Vice President and General Manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Andy Milovich accepted a challenge to receive an in-game prostate exam while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. The catch? Fierce Fallon’s Facebook Page had to reach 10,000 “Likes” by Thursday at 12:00 PM EST. Supports quickly jumped onboard and blew past the 10K goal shortly after 4:00 PM on Monday afternoon. Milovich is now set to receive the exam during [tonight’s] Prostate Cancer Awareness Night. The exam will be administered by Dr. Glenn Gangi of Atlantic Urology Specialists in Conway, SC.

[The] timeline of events will include Milovich on-air with Pelicans Radio Broadcaster Nathan Barnett before and after the exam as well as live video and radio broadcast of Milovich during the exam. The exam and the rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will be broadcast live during the Pelicans play-by-play broadcast of the game.

Fierce Fallon, nine years old, does not have prostate cancer. (She has brain cancer, which I am inclined to think is worse; she’s currently undergoing chemotherapy.) Ganging up on cancer of any variety, I suggest, has a strong, maybe even visceral, appeal. Still, I’m not sure I’d want to see this on television.

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Came in like a Veecking ball

In 1979, Bill Veeck (as in “wreck”) came up with a wild promotion for his Chicago White Sox: “Disco Demolition Night,” in which fans were invited to bring their disco records to a massive bonfire to be held between the first and second halves of a doubleheader. Things got out of hand, and the Sox had to forfeit the nightcap to the visiting Detroit Tigers.

You might not think that this concept was ripe for a revival, but to borrow a phrase, you better belieb it:

“Like so many, we have taken special exception to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus’s music along with his numerous run-ins with the law and her controversial performances,” said [Charleston] RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “‘Disco Demolition 2’ is dedicated to the eradication of their dread musical disease, like the original Disco Demolition attempted to do. We are going to take Bieber and Cyrus’s merchandise and memorabilia, put it in a giant box, and blow it to smithereens. It is all in good fun, and we guarantee there won’t be a forfeit of a game.”

Fans that bring Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus items to the game will receive a $1 ticket. Video montages throughout the game will pump up the fans prior to the dramatic postgame demolition. In addition, the RiverDogs will no longer play Bieber and Cyrus music at Riley Park.

The Dogs sold out all 6000 seats, and while the fans were waiting to trash the pop starts, their team was edging past the Augusta Green Jackets, 9-7.

A group headed by Marvin Goldklang owns five teams in Minor League Baseball, including the Class A RiverDogs; Mike Veeck, son of Bill, is a partner. Mike’s son William “Night Train” Veeck is working in the White Sox organization.

(With thanks to Fishersville Mike.)

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Ground-rule dullness

I didn’t see the Red Sox play the Yankees on the 13th of April, but then neither did this guy, and he was there:

A baseball fan who dozed off during a Yankee-Red Sox game sued the Yankees, ESPN and its announcers for defamation, claiming they broadcast photos of him asleep in his chair, calling him “fatty, unintelligent, [and] stupid.”

Andrew Robert Rector sued Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN New York, the New York Yankees, and ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, in Bronx County Supreme Court. He demands $10 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Rector claims he was filmed, and defamed, at the April 13 game between the Yankees and Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium. “In the course of watching the game plaintiff napped and this opened unending verbal crusade against the napping plaintiff,” the complaint states.

It could have been worse. They could have been showing that day’s Rangers/Astros game, during which the fans had a good reason to sleep.

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Jenny sets the lineup

How could this possibly go wrong?

It is, of course, right and proper that the Designated Hitter, an abomination unto the Lord, is assigned the number zero.

The Tigers were not amused, however, and blasted Rays pitcher Erik Bedard for six runs on eight hits in two innings, pocketing an 8-1 win at home and dropping Tampa Bay further into the cellar. (Weirdly, the Rays have identical road and home records: they’re 19-25 either way.)

And no, that Squeeze song wouldn’t work: you’d have to send two players into the order twice.

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This has something to do with the Mets

At least, I’m pretty sure it does:

Marlins 1, Mets 0

(From the Twitter of the Blog of the Nightfly.)

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Why there is $7 beer

The pundits have compiled their best estimates of Major League Baseball salaries this season, and perhaps the most surprising item in the list is where you find the Yankees: second. Somehow, this year, the Dodgers — the Dodgers! — are outspending the Bronx Bombers to the tune of $30 million: the Chavez Ravine payroll is just this side of a quarter of a billion dollars. Evidently Guggenheim Baseball Management, which paid $2.3 billion in cash to buy the team out of bankruptcy two years ago, isn’t afraid of large checks. (Then again, Dodger Stadium was part of the deal.)

Of 30 MLB teams, 16 are spending over $100 million on players this year. The chintziest are the Marlins and the Astros, who fall below the $50 million level. That sort of parsimony would not be tolerated in the NBA, which this year has a minimum team payroll of $52,811.000. This is not to be confused with the team salary figures used to determine compliance with the league’s salary cap; this is the actual number of dollars that must be spent to avoid trouble with the front office in New York.

Then again, NBA teams have rosters of no more than 15 players. Even so, the Brooklyn Nets made it over the $100 million mark this year, with six players over $10 million each. And you know what? NBA beer costs even more than MLB beer.

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Hello? McFly?

So, Marty, how do you like this version of the Future?

Time machine settings from Back to the Future 2

What’s that? No, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Some things take more than miracles of technology.

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Give that man a statue

And by “that man,” I mean almost any man but this man:

… current Major League Baseball Commissioner and former Brewers’ owner Bud Selig, a man who has visited upon us the annoyance of interleague play, the silliness of linking World Series homefield advantage to the outcome of the All-Star Game and the absolute abomination of the 2002 All-Star Game, which he called after 11 innings as a tie. The only previous All-Star tie came in 1961 because of rain. If there is any fitting monument to Selig, a man who has left the game more or less leaderless since his tenure as commissioner began — first in an acting capacity in 1992 and then officially in 1998 — it is not a statue. It is a scorecard with a tie game on it. Or better yet, a rainout.

Google reports over 50,000 results for “bud selig sucks,” including Bud Selig Sucks.

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A different kind of buzz

Never in a million off-seasons would it have occurred to me that Lorde’s inspiration for “Royals” was, um, a member of the Kansas City Royals:

It took a few weeks of research, but National Geographic has confirmed that pop star Lorde was referring to a photo of Kansas City Royals’ baseball legend George Brett when she explained where she got the inspiration for her megahit “Royals.”

In an interview a few months ago with VH1, Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor) explained how she “had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs. He was a baseball player and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’ It was just that word. It’s really cool.”

Someone, of course, would have to track that down, and someone did:

After The [Kansas City] Star wrote a story on Nov. 19 about the interview, an astute reader found a photo that matched the description.

The photo, published in July 1976, shows the star third baseman surrounded by adoring fans and signing baseballs. According to a National Geographic spokeswoman, “this appears to be the only photo in our archives of a Royals baseball player signing autographs.”

I have to assume that hearing “Royals” twice a day, to and from the K, had nothing whatever to do with the Royals’ 86-76 season, third place in the AL Central, their first finish above .500 in a decade — but you never really know, do you?

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Three fingers, no waiting

Mordecai Brown had a good year for the Chicago Cubs in 1908: he finished with a 27-9 record and an ERA of 1.47. He was not in the rotation for the most important game of the season, though: Jack Pfiester, who’d just come back from a tendon injury, was selected to face the New York Giants and Christy Mathewson. But Pfiester faltered early, and Brown came on to shut the Giants down and win the NL pennant; Fred “Bonehead” Merkle, who’d made that game necessary, was not available for comment, and the Cubs subsequently went on to their second consecutive World Series victory, 4-1 over the AL’s Detroit Tigers.

I have to wonder what Brown, nicknamed “Three Finger” for the most obvious of reasons, might have thought about the signature feature of Microsoft Windows. Bill Gates regrets it:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has finally admitted that forcing users to press the Control-Alt-Delete key combination to log into a PC was a mistake. In an interview at a Harvard fundraising campaign, Gates discussed his early days building Microsoft and the all-important Control-Alt-Delete decision.

“It was a mistake,” Gates admits to an audience left laughing at his honesty. “We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t wanna give us our single button.” David Bradley, an engineer who worked on the original IBM PC, invented the combination which was originally designed to reboot a PC. “I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,” Bradley said in an interview previously, leaving Bill Gates looking rather awkward.

Of course, no one ever has to reboot a PC anymore, right?

Still, Ctrl-Alt-Del persists into Windows 8. And the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since, um, 1908.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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The call of the Yankee dollar

The New York Mets are about to lose their radio flagship:

As reported by Neil Best of Newsday, the Yankees and CBS Radio are close to a deal that would put the Yankees on WFAN starting in 2014, a person familiar with the negotiations told Newsday.

The arrangement would bump the Mets off the station that has carried their games since WFAN’s inception in 1987.

Of course, it’s a matter of money:

The Yankees currently are carried by WCBS Radio, which like WFAN, is owned by CBS. The current one-year contract is believed to pay the team $13 to $14 million.

The Mets are believed to earn about half what the Yankees do in rights fees but have been a money-loser for WFAN, which inherited the team when it took over WHN’s 1050-AM signal in 1987. The Mets then moved down the dial with WFAN to 660-AM in 1988.

Where the Mets would end up is still unclear, though I’m betting on WEPN, the ESPN Radio outlet in New York at 98.7 FM.

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Fark blurb of the week

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When it doesn’t pay to come out of the dugout

It was a “nightmarish start,” said the Kansas City Star of Wade Davis’ 69-pitch performance against the Twins last night, during which Davis managed to get only three batters out.

It didn’t seem so bad at the beginning. Clete Davis flied out to left; Brian Dozier drew a walk. Then things got complicated. Joe Mauer walked, sending Dozier to second; Justin Morneau doubled to deep center, scoring Dozier and Mauer; Trevor Plouffe homered, scoring Morneau and himself. At least the bases are empty, Davis might have thought, and surely he felt better when Oswaldo Arcia struck out. Then Chris Parmelee walked, and Jamey Carroll singled to second, sending Parmelee to third. Pedro Florimon singled to second, bringing home Parmelee and moving Carroll to third. Finally, Clete Davis came back; he went down swinging. Fifty-three pitches in all.

The second inning? Well, Dozier singled to right center, Mauer walked, Morneau walked, and with the bases loaded, Davis was sent off to Showerville, leaving Will Smith to get out of the inning. (Plouffe sacrificed to right, scoring Dozier, and then Arcia obligingly grounded into a double play.)

Said Davis afterwards:

“I tried a bunch of different things. I tried slowing it down and speeding it up. Different arm angles. It’s just one of those [things] that sucks.”

Says baseball-reference.com, this is a record level of futility, breaking the previous record (67) for most pitches for three outs or fewer.

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Yankees without number

Actually, they all have numbers, but some of them are duplicates:

The Yankees may not be short on cash, Alex Rodriguez distractions or veteran players, but the Bronx Bombers are finally out of something: Numbers.

With 83 players invited to spring training in Tampa, Fla., not to mention team coaches, the squad in pinstripes is out of double-digit numbers.

“Double-digit” matters because the Yankees have retired all single-digit numbers except #2, which is worn by Derek Jeter, and #6, which has not been issued since the departure of Joe Torre after the 2007 season. In all, the Yanks have taken 16 numbers out of circulation.

A side note, happened upon while looking up those retired numbers: in 1997, when MLB officially retired #42 as a tribute to Jackie Robinson, the players who wore it at that time were allowed to keep it so long as they remained with that team. Mariano Rivera, who debuted with New York in ’95, still wears #42, and they’ll certainly retire it for both him and Robinson when the time comes.

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Dogged pursuit

They’re yelling “Play ball!” at the Nickel Slots Ballpark tonight, and Greg Ezell notes in the Gazette that the concession food has been substantially upgraded from last year. For example, Franx, a hot-dog vendor, has this offering known as the “Memphis”:

[It’s] a grilled dog covered in pulled pork and cole slaw. That doesn’t just hit the spot; it carpetbombs the whole area in case there are other spots around.

There is no higher praise for the humble America wiener.

Speaking of Memphis, their evil Redbirds, Triple-A farm club of the Cardinals, will be the visiting team tonight, and they have a new manager in tow: Ron “Pop” Warner, who ran the Double-A Cards affiliate in Springfield the last five years. (The S-Cards are in the Texas League, which makes even more sense than Memphis and Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League.)

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