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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
You may not care about Haeger or the Dodgers, but you should care that the Law of Conservation of Knuckleballers has once again been vindicated:
Jeff Weaver will start for the Dodgers on Wednesday in place of Chad Billingsley, and Charlie Haeger will replace Eric Stults on the active roster to help back Weaver up, according to word passed along by Dylan Hernandez of The Times.
(Thanks to Tripon for the heads up.)
Bob Watson speaks:
Boston’s Kevin Youkilis and Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello were suspended for five games each Wednesday and fined by Major League Baseball for their roles in a benches-clearing confrontation. The pair asked the players’ union to appeal the penalties, which will be held off pending completion of the process. In addition, Detroit pitched Edwin Jackson was fined for what Watson said were aggressive actions.
I'd say this was expected, but beaning and brawling justice is all over the map these days. As many noted in the ATH thread today, guys have been suspended for not hitting people this year, while guys who have beaned people and even bragged about it after the fact have received nothing but a fine.
It strikes me that Watson bases his discipline less on the actions at issue than he does the amount of a fuss people kick up about it after the fact on SportsCenter. Last night's festivities were quite a spectacle, so fines were issued.
For linking to this, but for some reason it fascinates me:
Kate Hudson has only been dating New York Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez for a few months, but she’s already hoping to start a family with him, reports In Touch Weekly. Hudson has a 5-year-old son, Ryder, from her marriage to Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, but feels like it's time for a sibling, according to the magazine.
I'm just trying to picture a family gathering involving Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Chris Robinson, Alex Rodriguez and assorted children milling about. I guess A-Rod could talk to Matt Franco, though, seeing as though he's Kurt Russell's nephew (thanks Wikipedia!).
Via Florio, the Rays are getting into the bush league football business:
On Wednesday, the UFL formally announced that the franchise headquartered in Orlando will be known as the "Florida Tuskers." The UFL also announced that major league baseball's Tampa Bay Rays have struck an agreement in principle to purchase an interest in the football franchise. The Tuskers, who are coached by Jim Haslett and who hold UFL dibs on Mike Vick, will play one of their home games at Tropicana Field in Tampa, home of the Rays.
Can you punt in Tropicana Field with those catwalks up there?
Dejan says that, contrary to his reputation, Lastings is being a model citizen:
On the field early yesterday afternoon, I saw him run in the Coors Field outfield to ask strength coach Frank Velasquez what he could do extra. I saw him participate with enthusiasm in all team activities on the field, mostly serious but with the occasional laugh and smile. I saw him step into the batter's box and tap catcher Chris Iannetta's shin guards before the first at-bat.
Despite all the talk about him, I'm still not entirely clear why he got the bad reputation to begin with. Is it because of the dreds? Is it because he was miscast as a centerfielder? Because he broke his hand? I just feel like there's no there there when it comes to the "Milledge has a 'tude" thing.
There's a new batting helmet design (pic in article) that is supposed to provide substantially greater protection from beanballs, but no one -- apart from David Wright and Edgar Gonzalez, who is still suffering the effects from one to the head -- seems to like it all that much:
“No, I am absolutely not wearing that,” Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said with a laugh after seeing a prototype, as if he were being asked to put a pumpkin on his head. “I could care less what they say, I’m not wearing it. There’s got to be a way to have a more protective helmet without all that padding. It’s brutal. We’re going to look like a bunch of clowns out there.”
No matter. Something tells me that Frenchy has less to worry about from a fastball to the head than anyone else anyway. Others:
“I want a helmet that’s comfortable,” Athletics infielder Nomar Garciaparra said, “and that doesn’t look bad.” Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira said the new helmet would make him feel as if he were wearing a football helmet in the batter’s box. “The one I’ve used for my entire career is fine,” he said.
This is not terribly surprising. There is always a lot of resistance to this kind of thing. People didn't even start wearing seat belts that often until the 80s for cryin' out loud. Only David Wright seems to be making a lot of sense here:
“If it provides more protection, then I’m all for it,” said Mets third baseman David Wright, who last week dodged a Brad Thompson fastball traveling on a frightening vector for his head. “I’m not worried about style or looking good out there. I’m worried about keeping my melon protected.”
I'd draw the line at anything that compromised my visibility or the ability to turn my head the way I needed to in order to hit a pitch. Short of that, however, you could put just about anything you wanted up there as long as it kept me protected.
(thanks to Robert M. for the link)
This is not terribly surprising:
John Smoltz's brief career with the Red Sox is over. Smoltz has refused the option of an assignment to the minor leagues, leaving the Red Sox with the option of either trading him or releasing him.
They could trade him because he has cleared waivers, but one of the reasons he cleared waivers is because no one wants any part of that contract and all of its roster incentives, which I presume travels with him. I can't really feature anyone giving anything of value for the guy, so I'm assuming that we're going to see him released in the next couple of days.
The guy who fired his manager mere days before his team made the playoffs is making moves again: Brewers' GM Doug Melvin has fired pitching coach Bill Castro. He has sent J.J. Hardy down to Nashville and has called up Alcides Escobar. He has designated Bill Hall for assignment.
Unlike the Yost move last year, this looks like too little too late, but you gotta respect a guy with Melvin's cajones.
Today ShysterBall celebrates the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the 1994-95 strike! Sure, it was terrible, but at least we didn't get a 72-win team winning the AL West! In other news:
I may have a longer post about that last one later today.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 5: You've probably seen the Youkilis-Porcello fracas, but here's video of it from a slightly different angle which makes Youkilis seem like even more of the bad guy here. Of course his ejection was the best thing to happen to the Sox last night, as he was replaced by pinch-runner Mike Lowell, who stayed in the game and proceeded to hit two homers and drive in three. So yeah, that was all fun and everything, and it actually worked out for Boston, but can we all agree that plunkings, retaliation plunkings, retaliation for the retaliation plunking and all of that is a total drag? It's the one part of baseball where Klingon law basically reigns, and I'll just never get it. Your guy hits my guy? Who cares? The only reason you're doing it is because we're hitting you hard. That kind of thing doesn't call for revenge. It calls for pity.
Indians 5, Rangers 0: Laffey, Smith and Sipp -- pitchers, not a 1960s kids show featuring puppets -- combine to shutout the Rangers. The Indians did all of their damage in the third via one of those death by a thousand cuts kinds of innings: single-single-HBP-walk-single-double, eventually followed by a sacrifice fly.
Braves 8, Nationals 1: Tommy Hanson (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 9K) puts a stop to the uppity Nats. Every Braves regular had a hit. Leadoff hitter Ryan Church reached base in four of his five plate appearances. Sure, he doesn't get big feature stories like the guy he was traded for does, but I don't think anyone cares.
Orioles 3, Athletics 2: Brian Roberts had three hits, an RBI and two stolen bases as the Os get a rare win over the A's. Wait. Why does the apostrophe look right on the "A's" but not the "Os?" I'd think that the apostrophe would be improper in both instances given that they're abbreviations of plurals as opposed to possessives, but everyone writes "A's" don't they? Did Oakland ever formally change their nickname? When I was growing up they were almost always referred to as the A's, but in recent years you hardly ever see that anymore. Maybe "A's" was just the proper noun, apostrophe and all, now it's not, and we're just dealing with vestigial punctuation? Man, what I wouldn't give to have a linguistic anthropologist handy right now. Short of that, I'll settle for APBA Guy. Got any insight here, dude?
Yankees 7, Blue Jays 5: Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada hit back-to-back homers leading off the eighth inning to give the Yanks the lead (where have we heard that before?). There was a moment of silence before the game for Merlyn Mantle, the widow of Mickey Mantle, who died Monday. There, my friends, was a woman of serious freakin' strength, because God love him, but Mickey Mantle would have driven most women to their graves about 40 years before Mrs. M. was finally put to rest in hers.
Marlins 9, Astros 8: Game story: "Just before the bottom of the 11th inning, Cody Ross turned to teammate Dan Uggla on the bench and gave him a few choice words. "This is the inning," Ross said he told him. "I feel it. I usually don't say stuff like that." Of course the bases were loaded at the time, so the odds were decidedly in his favor. Nice game-winning single by Uggla, but I'm not going to give Ross "I see dead people" kind of credit.
Padres 13, Brewers 6: Adrian Gonzalez went 6 for 6 and the Padres had 22 hits in all off of Braden Looper and six other Brewer pitchers.
Phillies 4, Cubs 3: Brad Lidge blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth, but Ben Francisco homer in the 12th got him off the hook. Lidge certainly ain't right, though. How about this: Jamie Moyer, closer. Or would he complain about that too?
Reds 5, Cardinals 4: Coming off a shutout, Justin Lehr pitches well again, although this time in much better luck, giving up only one run in six innings despite allowing 11 hits and only striking out one dude. Which is why I hate the first sentence of the AP game story: "Apparently, Justin Lehr is no fluke." Isn't he? He's a 32 year-old journeyman who isn't allowing any runs despite not striking anyone out and has allowed 19 hits and 8 walks in 20 innings. Great results that still count and everything, but that's pretty much a textbook example of fluky.
Royals 14, Twins 6: Demoting a knuckleballer like the Twins did with R.A. Dickey last week is the same as breaking a mirror or killing an albatross while crossing the ocean or something: courting doom. How else to explain a shellacking at the hands of the usually punchless Royals? Miguel Olivo homered and drove in three runs. The Twins have lost five of six and eight of 10, and they're getting beat up at home on a pretty regular basis.
Pirates 7, Rockies 3: Ugly game for the Rockies, as they walk a bunch of dudes, commit a bunch of errors, and make the Pirates look like a good team in the process. Andrew McCutchen stole three bases.
Angels 6, Rays 0: Yesterday I read this story entitled "The Mighty Fall of Angels Pitcher Ervin Santana." Ervin Santana apparently didn't read it (CG SHO 3 H). David Price didn't allow a hit until the fifth, and then the wheels just came off (6 IP, 8 H, 6 ER).
Diamondbacks 6, Mets 2: I think it's safe to say that we've entered the "playing out the string" portion of the season for New York. Trent Oeltjen had four more hits, with a triple, a double and a couple of singles. Crikey.
White Sox 3, Mariners 1: Janks (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8K) and Denks (23rd save in a perfect ninth) more or less shut down Seattle, but if it wasn't for an Alexei Ramirez three-run homer in the ninth, it would have been in vain. Well, I suppose it could have been a two-run homer.
Dodgers 9, Giants 1: Remember that thing I said on Monday morning about there maybe being a race on in the NL West? Eh, forget it. Manny hit a two-run homer, had an RBI double and, working off of the general "treat Manny like Barry Bonds" vibe, was intentionally walked twice. Randy Wolf allowed one run and three hits in eight innings, retiring 16 of his final 19 batters. This allowed Giants fans to leave early, obviating the need to rush to get to the Larkspur Ferry.