The Baltimore Orioles were one of the feel-good stories of 2012. They hadn’t reached the postseason since 1996 but defeated the heavily favored Texas Rangers in the new one-game playoff and put up an impressive showing in the ALDS, which they ultimately lost to the New York Yankees in five games.But let’s be realistic: Despite their success from a year ago, no one really considered them a threat to be legitimate playoff contenders this season.Baltimore plays in arguably the toughest division in baseball, and everyone jumped on the Toronto Blue Jays bandwagon this offseason.However, Buck Showalter has his team playing...
Book Review: Black Sox in the Courtroom: the Grand Jury, Criminal Trial and Civil LitigationAuthor: William LambPages: 222Like many baseball fans, I’ve always been intensely interested in the Black Sox. I’ve read at least a dozen books, written articles on them and even defended one or two of the players based on what I’ve learned. This book takes it a lot further -- clearing up some points, debunking others -- based not upon the media hype or artistic license taken by many writers on the topic, but by examining nothing other than the legal battles fought in both criminal and...
Bryce Harper seems to run at one speed: all out, whether he’s hitting, fielding or running full tilt into walls. And while manager Davey Johnson was capable of joking “I feel kind of sorry for the wall if he keeps running into them,” there is plenty of reason to be concerned for the 20-year-old who has twice now required stitches in his head, precautionary x-rays and concussion fears.But that’s the way that Harper plays. He plays to win. Watching him play he reminds you of Pete Rose. Do whatever it takes, play to win and let the consequences of the...
Last week will not be regarded among the finest hours for umpires. There were the usual gaffes and miscalls that come with having to make split-second judgments, most of which can easily be written off as minor, but there were issues that simply left the fans, not to mention the sports media, scratching their heads or screaming for robot umpires.The first issue was a big one: when is a home run not a home run? Well when Robin Ventura hits it and never makes it around the bases is one scenario. A miscalled foul ball might be another. But never...
Yu Darvish burst onto the scene last season for the Texas Rangers as the prized import of the offseason. He baffled hitters with a variety of pitches and arm slots en route to an impressive first season.But Major League hitters these days have access to so much video footage that they’re able to study an opposing pitcher’s tendencies incessantly. That being said, it was almost a given that Darvish would not experience that same level of success as his rookie season.Darvish, though, has had other plans. His early body of work has brought him into the conversation as the AL’s...
It’s hard to call the Red Sox the surprise of 2013. They were dreadful last year, finishing last in the East with just 69 wins, three more than the Twins and one more than the Indians. But over the past decade we’ve gotten so used to seeing a level of excellence from the Boston nine that their resurgence doesn’t seem unnatural. Well not until you realize that this worst to first transformation seemed to involve gutting the team and dumping salary.The fact is that the front office deceived us. We thought they were rebuilding and that they’d have a number...
With David Ortiz’s recent 27-game hitting streak now over, it once again brings up the debate about whether hitting streaks should carry over from the previous season.He hit safely in his first 15 games this season after coming off the disabled list on April 20. He finished off last season on a 12-game hitting streak.In recent memory, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit safely in 38 straight games spanning the 2005 and 2006 seasons.Though Joe DiMaggio set the standard with his 56-game hitting streak all in the same season, a hitting streak that spans an entire offseason is actually harder to...
When NBA center Jason Collins came out last week, it was huge news. It was brave of him, not just because he was standing up for the rights of people to be who they are, but because he was coming out to both teammates and he wasn’t sure how all of them would react.But the truth is that professional sports have largely dealt with homosexuality already within their ranks. For the most part they’ve handled it quietly, perhaps occasionally with whispers and verbal jabs between themselves, but they’ve kept it within the ranks of ballplayers and people associated with the...
Not too many Cy Young Award winners have been traded the season after winning, but R.A. Dickey was. He was a coveted target of the Blue Jays' franchise overall, as it became an early favorite to win the American League East.However, Toronto already finds itself in the cellar of the division and the owner of the second worst record in the AL ahead of only the hapless Houston Astros.Dickey has been a reason for this early cold spell, as he hasn’t quite pitched to his Cy Young form. He’s just 2-5 in seven starts with a 5.36 ERA this year....
Book Review: Kid Nichols – A Biography of the Hall of Fame PitcherBy Jon Leshanski Title: Kid Nichols: A Biography of the Hall of Fame PitcherAuthor: Richard BogovichPages: 262McFarland publishes a lot of biographies about baseball players. Some are better than others and some are definitely more interesting. Richard Bogovich’s look at one of the most obscure Hall of Famers ranks in that category.
Nichols is one of those players who has really slipped between the cracks of baseball’s history and gone largely unnoticed. His best years really came before 1900, a time when baseball’s history seems especially murky. Bogovich...
The Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres have agreed to a deal that would send Peavy to the White Sox and four prospects back to San Diego, reports SI.com. The deal only needs approval from Peavy, who has a complete no-trade clause.
Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richards, both highly regarded left-handed pitching prospects, are rumored to be headed to San Diego. The White Sox won't lose shortstop Gordon Beckham, who is their best prospect.
The White Sox may have to exercise Peavy's 2013 option for $22 million for him to approve the trade. Early reports have them not willing to do this.
Some quick thoughts:
Having Peavy solidifies the White Sox's rotation and raises their profile in the American League Central. After today's 20-1 loss to the Twins, Chicago is 6.5 games out of first, but Peavy gives the White Sox a true ace. Their pitching could use this boost greatly. If this deal goes through, it would be difficult to argue the White Sox aren't the favorite in the division.
The Padres are showing how desperate they are for salary relief. The club was recently sold and is being rebuilt. Adding Poreda and Richards would give them a huge boost in terms of young pitching, but San Diego should've worked harder to obtain Beckham as the centerpiece of this deal. Watch for Adrian Gonzalez, the co-leader in National League home runs with 15, to be dealt next. His bat could definitely help a contender this season. (Too bad the Padres exercised during the offseason Brian Giles' $9 million option that now looks atrocious.)
Rickie Weeks seemed to finally be putting everything together this season. Willie Randolph worked to "calm" Weeks down in the field. Weeks was also hitting for a respectable batting average with some pop. His running game was a little off, but that's just nit-picking.
The bad news came from Phoenix, where Weeks had traveled to have his injured left wrist examined. An MRI confirmed he has a torn tendon sheath in the wrist, necessitating season-ending surgery Wednesday by specialist Don Sheridan.
In an odd twist of fate, Sheridan performed the same surgery on Weeks' right wrist late in the 2006 season. Brewers trainer Roger Caplinger said the odds of a player suffering that exact injury in the other wrist were incalculable.
"Dr. Sheridan said he's never had a person have this in both wrists in his career," said Caplinger, who said the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris tendon would not stay in place when the sheath is torn.
"The recovery time is four to six months. That's the best guess right now. (Sheridan) will have other information once he gets in there and opens it up."
As for why Weeks might be susceptible to that particular wrist injury, Caplinger said, "He has strong hands, strong wrists. The bat speed he has possibly contributed to that. There's a lot of torque going on there."
Weeks suffered the injury on the final swing of a strikeout to begin the game Sunday against St. Louis. He was removed from the game and it was announced afterward that he was going to Phoenix to see Sheridan.
The Brewers are going to search for a replacement internally before shopping around. Craig Counsell gets first crack at the spot, but he doesn't appear to be the every day player the Brewers need for the remainder of the season.
Highly touted shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar could be called up to play second once he has had a crash course at second in the minors. If Mat Gamel pulls out his best Ryan Braun impersonation at third this season, the Brewers may be able to eat Counsell's lack of production at second.
No matter what happens, the Brewers need their youngsters to step up big time.
Eric Chavez has gained a reputation as an injury-prone player over the last few seasons. His health status has always been reported as a good sign ("Eric Chavez enters this season healthy.") only for it to turn into a punch line ("Eric Chavez hits the disabled list again.")
The next time Eric Chavez's back goes out, it will be the end of his career.
"Pretty much game, set and match," the A's third baseman told The Chronicle by phone from his home in Phoenix.
Chavez is rehabbing his most recent back problem in Arizona in the hopes of rejoining the A's on their next homestand. Doctors, however, have told him that a herniated disk in his back could go at any time, even if he sneezes.
If that happens, Chavez will need to have his previously repaired vertebra, the L4-L5, fused with the vertebra that is currently herniated, which is the L3-L4. Another microdiscectomy such as the one Chavez had in October, 2007, is out, because it would leave his spine too unstable, Chavez said.
Spinal fusions don't allow for the type of physical activity performed by pro athletes.
Position players put their back through a tremendous amount of stress. (Go to the batting cages for a day and take swing after swing after swing. How does your back feel the next day?) This is why injuries to the back continue to crop up, even after a player has gotten over a previous injury.
Vladimir Guerrero has a violent swing to be sure, but he's missed time the last several seasons because of back issues. Back injuries just have a way of coming back to haunt hitters.
This definitely isn't good news for Chavez. We should hope he's not ready to quit playing baseball, but his health may dictate that. It seems as if Chavez won't play much longer at the major league level.
30-plus teams over 30-plus years...that's a lot of mental images. My team has always been the Chicago White Sox. Growing up in Sarasota, Florida during the 1970's didn't provide many options for the loyalty of a budding fan. Regionally I was closest to Atlanta, but I wasn't driving 600 miles on my Big Wheel to go see Biff Pocaroba.
Prior to the arrival of the Marlins and Rays, fans in central and south Florida usually ended up becoming fans of the local spring training team. Lakeland had the Tigers, Dunedin hosted the Blue Jays and Bradenton had the Pirates, to name a few. Sarasota has a long, rich tradition with Spring Training. From the time I was aware of baseball it was always the White Sox. I still have a picture of me and Ron LeFlore from 1979. So that is why I love me some Chi-Sox; despising the Cubs was just a benefit of the fact!
What about the other teams though? If I am to be a real fan of the game at heart, I should be able to conjure up memories of every team right? I mean I may only have one brain cell left and he is looking for a friend in that barnyard I call my brain, but I should be able to do this. Over 30 years of being a fan of the game should provide me with enough real experiences shouldn't it?
So there ya go, something to chew on. I am going to see if I can bring to light and express the memories I have of each individual team during my lifetime. Some will be easy; I might be able to cough up a bunch. Others though, well we shall see just how significant my memories are. Let me know what you think about my memories. Check that, let me know what you thought about your own memories.
As reported by the AHP blog, Angels pitcher John Lackey was ejected after throwing two pitches in his season debut Saturday. His first pitch was behind the head of Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, and the second one plunked Kinsler in the rib cage.
Manager Mike Scioscia plans to contact Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of discipline, rules and on-field operations, and Mike Port, vice president of umpiring, in an effort to get some clarification on rules regarding warnings and ejections.
Last week in Anaheim, before a series between the Angels and Red Sox, umpires put the teams on alert because of the Josh Beckett-sparked benches-clearing incident between the teams the previous time they met, on April 12.
When Boston right-hander Justin Masterson threw a pitch behind the back of Torii Hunter, both benches were warned, meaning another similar pitch would result in the ejection of the pitcher and that pitcher's manager.
But there was no such "heads up" from the umpires before this weekend's Angels-Rangers series and no warning when John Lackey threw his first pitch of the game behind the head of Rangers leadoff batter Ian Kinsler.
When Lackey hit Kinsler with his next pitch, he was ejected by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson.
"We have to get this criteria uniform, because I've seen it happen against us, and a lot of leeway is given, and we didn't get that today," Scioscia said. "As wrong as we know Bob was in his evaluation, it certainly wasn't John's intent to hit Kinsler.
"They gave us a heads up against Boston, the ball goes behind a guy's back, there's a warning. Today, no heads up was given; unfortunately, John's first two pitches, he's trying to go inside and he hits Kinsler. But the intent wasn't there."
Scioscia has said his team doesn't play that way, and I believe him. The Angels have a strong reputation as a good team throughout the major leagues, and it difficult to think Scioscia would tell his pitcher to headhunt to start a game. Why would the Angels want Kinsler on base, especially in front of a power Rangers lineup?
Lackey was also making his major league debut. It doesn't make sense for him to be headhunting in this incident. He's trying to go out there and give his team a few innings, especially with the Angels bullpen pitching as badly as it has been.
Lackey's ejection was a strange one by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson. I don't think the intent to do harm was there.