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Thursday, April 25, 2019

You Are Cordially Invited to SOFTBALL IN THE CITY

Permit application process has been started, with any luck we’ll be frolicking in the North Meadow of Central Park some sunny Saturday in July or August.* Attendance will be taken! Those not in attendance will be talked smack of!

Further details will be posted as they become available, or as I remember them. If you’re in contact with primates (or other beings) who don’t regularly visit the site, make sure to let ‘em know! They don’t need to be good, there are already enough of you who make me look bad.

RSVP before game time, whenever that turns out to be. Or just show up.


*Okay, I requested 11 - 2 on July 20, we’ll see what happens
**Per post #42 below, we’re now aiming for Saturday, August 10, 11 - 2. I’ll try to keep the info up ...

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Hysterical & Useless Posted: April 25, 2019 at 11:30 AM | 121 comment(s)
  Beats: community, hot town, injury-plagued, meetups, softball

Saturday, May 25, 2019

MLB teams’ involvement with Cuban players under Justice Department scrutiny

...“It’s always been clear that these guys are basically hostages, until the time that they sign major league contracts and give a sizeable portion of their contracts to the criminals involved in smuggling them out,” said Joe Kehoskie, a former player agent. “Everyone stuck their heads in the sand.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres have received subpoenas seeking records relating to scouting and signing of players from Latin America, and the Washington Nationals voluntarily turned over documents to federal agents, including emails and financial records…

NattyBoh Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cuban players, free agents

The earliest known baseball game to be commemorated. In England.

If you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom, you’ve almost certainly seen buildings and parks and stuff with blue plaques on them. They’re historical markers which say things like “Lord Nigel-Hogg-Snootbury lived here, 1858-1869” or “Musician Ian Dexys, singer for the band The High Numbers, overdosed in this flat in 1970.” Stuff like that. They’re put up by a body called English Heritage, which manages all the old buildings and monuments and stuff in the country. You may be familiar with some of its portfolio.

I’ve made a lot of friends in the world of British baseball recently, which I suppose is what landed me on the press release list for the latest blue plaque being unveiled. The subject: the first ever baseball game. ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: blue plaque, commemoration, history, surrey

Report: Atlanta expected to be awarded 2021 All-Star Game

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that the Braves and SunTrust Park are expected to be awarded the 2021 All-Star Game soon. Probably next week.

This year’s All-Star Game will be in Cleveland. Next year it’s at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. They already announced 2026 for Philadelphia as a part of America’s Semiquincentennial (look it up). Now baseball is filling in the year’s in between.

The last time the Braves hosted the All-Star Game was in 2000, awarded a couple of years before that. Like a lot of All-Star Games, the 2000 edition was awarded to reward the building of a new ballpark, Turner Field, which came online for baseball purposes in 1997. This time it’s to reward the construction of SunTrust Park. ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: all-star game, atlanta

Finally, Twins see White Sox, and bring memories of Jerome Holtzman: “The Dean”

The Chicago White Sox are the only team that has been in the same competitive grouping as the Twins throughout the 59-season existence of the Minnesota franchise.

The White Sox and the Twins were in the 10-team American League from 1961 to 1968, the six-team (and then seven) American League West from 1969 to 1993, and the five-team American League Central from 1994 to the present.

The Twins entered this season having played the White Sox a total of 920 games (including three ties), 65 more games than the second team – Detroit – on the list of games played.

The Twins also would see Chicago in spring training, what with the White Sox encamped in beautiful Sarasota from 1960 to 1997. Those March exhibitions were infrequent when the ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jerome holtzman, twins, white sox

MLB Rumors: Phillies, Yankees Scouted Giants’ Madison Bumgarner Recently

Some interested teams reportedly got a good look at Madison Bumgarner recently.

The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees were among “several clubs” who scouted the Giants ace in his second-to-last start last Saturday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Wednesday.  Bumgarner pitched 6 1/3 innings that day, striking out six and allowing four earned runs in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Phillies and Yankees both reportedly feel they could use a top-line starter, although both teams entered Friday in the top 10 in earned run average. Still, both teams are on Bumgarner’s no-trade list.

What might be a bigger deal to the Giants, however, is the quality of both team’s prospects.

Rather painful to watch in multiple ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: madison bumgarner, phillies, trade rumors, yankees

Houston Astros expecting bad news on George Springer injury

The Houston Astros beat the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox on Friday night, but the win came at a potentially big cost.

George Springer, the Astros outfielder having an MVP-caliber season, left the game at Minute Maid Park in the eighth inning after suffering a left leg injury. Springer slid to catch a fly ball off the bat of Red Sox’ shortstop Xander Bogaerts in foul territory and immediately came up limping before walking off the field.

Manager A.J. Hinch said after the game Springer will be evaluated and is likely headed to the IL, but he’s expecting the worst.

“I’m not looking forward to the diagnosis, to be honest,” Hinch said. “It doesn’t look very good.”

 

QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, george springer, injuries

This chaotic play serves as a microcosm for the Mets’ week

NEW YORK — The internally embattled New York Mets swept the hapless (and Harper-less) Washington Nationals this week and there are so many statistics to emphasize just how disappointing the first 50 games have been for two of the teams that were actually trying in a division that was supposed to be one of the most hotly contested. But maybe you’re more of a visual learner.

The four-game series — which started with everyone assuming Mets manager Mickey Callaway was going to get axed and ended with it looking increasingly likely that Dave Martinez’s days as the Nats’ manager are numbered — can be unfortunately illustrated by the following play from the sixth inning of Thursday’s 6-4 Mets victory. It’s not exactly emblematic ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baserunning, errors, fielding, mets being mets, nationals

Former NFL players die at a faster rate than other professional athletes, study finds

A new study of more than 6,000 former professional athletes found that National Football League players died at a rate that was almost 1.3 times higher than Major League Baseball players. It’s the first to compare mortality rates between two groups of professional athletes; previous studies that compared professional athletes to the general population showed a lower risk of death for football players.

The findings, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, come amid growing concern about head trauma among current and former NFL players and their risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL players died of neurodegenerative diseases at a higher rate than MLB players, though both groups ...

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QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: football, mortality, players

Matt Kemp, New York Mets agree to minor-league contract

The New York Mets announced Friday that they’ve signed outfielder Matt Kemp to a minor-league contract about 20 days after the Cincinnati Reds released him.

Kemp had joined the Reds in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason, but he hit just .200 with one home run and five RBIs in 60 at-bats before missing the 11 games with a broken rib before Cincinnati released him.

In 14 big-league seasons, the 34-year-old Kemp has hit .285 with 281 home runs, 1,010 RBIs and 183 stolen bases. He was an All-Star in 2018 with the Dodgers.

Given how big a need the Mets seem to have for outfielders, wondering who else they’ll be placing bids on.

 

QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: matt kemp, mets being mets


Friday, May 24, 2019


Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-24-2019

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, May 24, 1919:

Because of the danger of an injury to his hands, Jack Dempsey, who is to meet Jess Willard in a heavyweight championship battle [in Toledo] July 4, probably will drop baseball from his training program.

The challenger engaged in a game [yesterday], and Tex Rickard, promoter of the contest, wore a worried look every time Dempsey raced to pick up a bounder or stabbed the air in fielding fly balls. Rickard fears Dempsey might break a finger if struck with a swiftly batted ball.

Dempsey already has stored his motor car until after the match and is avoiding all other risks of an injury.

Yeah, I imagine if you’re trying to avoid injuries to your hands, it’s a good idea to avoid fielding hard-hit grounders ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 24, 2019 at 11:00 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Anthony Rizzo breaks Budweiser sign with monster homer

Last night the Phillies were in Chicago to face the Cubs. The lead in to the game was all about how Cole Hamels was facing his former team. As I mentioned in the recaps this morning that sort of fizzled — Hamels got a no-decision after pitching four middling innings — but there was something pretty spectacular in the game all the same.

The spectacular thing: Anthony Rizzo‘s third inning homer off of Phillies’ starter Cole Irvin. In addition to erasing a 3-0 Philly lead, it was an absolute moon shot that hit off the Budweiser sign up above the right field scoreboard. Even better: it broke the dang sign. Watch the “d” when the ball gets there

Well, that’s one way to editorialize about that beer…..

 

QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: anthony rizzo, broken signs, home runs

MLB Curves And Sliders Have Gotten Alarmingly Nasty

Major League Baseball seems to be on an unstoppable pathway to more and more strikeouts. After a record share of plate appearances ended in a strikeout last season (22.3 percent), this season is winding up to set another record: If the to-date strikeout rate of 23 percent holds or increases over the season, it would mark the 12th straight year of a record set for strikeout rate.

Fastball velocity is often cited as the source of the strikeout surge, along with hitters willing to trade contact for power. The constantly increasing fastball velocities of recent years are such a concern that MLB is partnering with the independent Atlantic League next year to move the mound back by 2 feet — to 62 feet, 6 inches from home plate. Still, there ...

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QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: curveball, nasty, slider

Cole Hamels honors David Montgomery and says finishing career in Philly has always been a thought of his

CHICAGO — Cole Hamels received a special delivery Thursday morning.

He is now in possession of one of the memorial patches that the Phillies are wearing on their game jerseys to honor David Montgomery.

The beloved former club president died earlier this month after a five-year battle with cancer. His initials — DPM — are on the patch that the Phillies wear on their right sleeves.

Hamels requested one and Chris Ware of the Phillies’ communications office delivered it before Thursday’s game at Wrigley Field.

 

QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cole hamels, david montgomery, philadephia

Giants’ Farhan Zaidi expresses thoughts on WAR, Buster Posey’s value

Ever since the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi as their president of baseball operations this past offseason, there have been battles between talking heads arguing on the basis of traditional baseball stats and advanced metrics.

Zaidi, who earned his bachelor of science degree at MIT and his PhD at Cal Berkeley, is widely seen as a baseball mind that leans on analytics. So-called baseball fans who don’t want the game to evolve argue that he’s using too many numbers to try and change the game. At the same time, Zaidi has help lead highly successful teams with the A’s and Dodgers.

So, what are his thought on WAR (Wins Above Replacement)?

“Yeah, I think it’s a good measure on how a guy has produced in the past,” Zaidi said Wednesday on KNBR. ...

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QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: buster posey, farhan zaidi, giants, war

MLB roundup: Twins hammer eight HRs in rout

The Minnesota Twins slammed eight home runs, including two each by Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop, on their way to a 16-7 rout over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., completing a three-game sweep.

The game was originally scheduled to be played Wednesday, but a rainstorm made the field conditions unplayable. The wait was worth it for the Twins, whose eight home runs tied a single-game club record. It also tied an Angels record for most home runs allowed in a game.

The Twins have scored a major league-high 289 runs this season, and they battered Angels pitching Thursday for 17 hits and six walks. Former Angel C.J. Cron had five hits, including a home run and two doubles.

Besides Sano, Schoop and Cron, Max ...

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QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, home run derby, twins

Reports: Jays to call up Biggio on Friday

The Toronto Blue Jays will call up second base prospect Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, for the first time on Friday, multiple media outlets reported Thursday night.

Cavan Biggio, 24, is hitting .306 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 41 games with Triple-A Buffalo this season, easily his best campaign in three-plus years in the minor leagues since being drafted by Toronto in the fifth round in 2016.

His brothers, Wicklow, Kildare, Mayo, and Clare, were all unavailable for comment.

QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, cavan biggio

Netflix Unveils Lonely Island Musical Tribute to Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire

The Lonely Island comedy troupe has dropped a half-hour Netflix special featuring a musical tribute to baseball greats Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

“The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” features Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer as the former Oakland Athletics teammates who became known as “the Bash Brothers” for their prowess at hitting home runs. The special is timed to mark the 30th anniversary of the Oakland A’s 1989 championship season.

I’m not a Netflix subscriber- any thoughts on this from those of you who are?

 

QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: jose canseco, mark mcgwire, netflix, pop culture

Rajai Davis took a $243 Uber ride to Citi Field and then launched a pinch-hit homer

Just the latest piece of evidence supporting the theory that they’re extremely cursed, the Mets have been hit pretty hard by the injury bug lately. First, Michael Conforto went down with a concussion, then Yoenis Cespedes broke an ankle on his ranch in Florida, and then, on Wednesday, Brandon Nimmo landed on the 10-day Injured List with a neck injury. All of a sudden, just hours before their game against the Nationals, New York found itself short on outfielders.

Without a ton of options on such short notice, the team turned to Triple-A Syracuse, where they found 14-year Major League vet and postseason folk hero Rajai Davis. There was just one problem: Syracuse is currently in the middle of a road series against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs ...

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QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: mets being mets, rajai davis, uber

Indians’ struggles continue as painful collision leads to Rays’ inside-the-park homer

Despite posting a 25-24 record this season, 2019 really hasn’t been the Cleveland Indians year.

Because of injuries, inconsistency and their own lack of urgency during the offseason, the Indians have looked much closer to average than a team hoping to win its fourth straight AL Central title.

Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays did nothing to change that perception. In fact, one painful play only further highlighted Cleveland’s malaise.

Indians outfielders Leonys Martin and Oscar Mercado experienced a malfunction at the junction while attempting to chase down Kevin Kiermaier’s flyball in the sixth inning. The result of which led to a painful collision and allowed Kiermaier to race around the bases with a game-breaking three-run ...

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QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, kevin kiermaier, leonys martin, oscar mercado

Thursday, May 23, 2019


MLB teams’ involvement with Cuban players under Justice Department scrutiny - The Washington Post

A Justice Department investigation into Major League Baseball’s operations in Latin America and the trafficking of Cuban players has expanded in recent months, with former league and team officials among those contacted by FBI agents and called to testify before a grand jury, according to people with knowledge of the probe. The wide-ranging inquiry is, in part, seeking to root out suspected involvement of MLB team officials with smugglers who force Cuban players to sign away exorbitant portions of their earnings in exchange for passage off the island.

While MLB officials have blamed the plight of Cuban players on the U.S. embargo on the island nation, some scouts, agents and former federal prosecutors argue that major league rules — ...

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Jim Furtado Posted: May 23, 2019 at 11:11 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cuban players

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-23-2019

Grand Forks Herald, May 23, 1919:

Officials of the Boston National league club announced that Jim Thorpe, the Indian outfielder, purchased from the New York National league club, would report immediately and be used against lefthanded pitchers.
...
[After the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe] devoted his entire time to professional baseball, having been a member of a number of minor league teams as well as the New York Nationals at various times during his career. He is a fast fielder and a speedy baserunner. In the past his greatest weakness has been inability to hit big league curve pitching. When he was able to hit the ball, however, he drove out terrific liners for extra base hits, frequently sending the ball to the farthest corners of the major ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:55 AM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

A Novel Idea in the Majors: Using Batting Practice to Get Better

The staid tradition of batting practice — with its center-cut pitches thrown at speeds in the low 50s — is documented as far back as the late 1880s and has largely remained untouched in major league diamonds. Such game preparation, however, is in direct opposition to various principles of motor learning and vision sciences that suggest traditional batting practice is not only unhelpful but detrimental. So teams are searching for ways to make their B.P. more game-like.

The Reds assistant hitting coach Donnie Ecker summed up the approach: “If you want to sprint faster, you should practice sprinting faster.”

Much of this innovation is happening out of public view — in the minors or in the indoor batting cages at big league ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: batting practice

Roberto Pérez diagnosed with a concussion

Indians catcher Roberto Pérez has been diagnosed with a concussion. He sustained it after taking a ball off the mask in last night’s game against the Athletics.

Manager Terry Francona called it a “mild” concussion, but if we’ve learned anything in sports in the past several years it’s that you have to assume all brain injuries are serious unless and until the symptoms go away. Francona said that the team will make a decision today about whether to place Pérez on the injured list, but assume that’ll be a yes.

Question: Is there any particular reason why catchers seem more susceptible to concussions, beyond the ways in which that position generally wears down those who play it?

 

QLE Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:32 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: concussion, roberto perez

Mets trade Keon Broxton to the Orioles

The other day the New York Mets designated the ineffective — and frustrated — Keon Broxton for assignment. I would’ve bet a decent sum that Broxton would just be released at the end of all of that but they found a trade partner: the Orioles, who just acquired Broxton from the Mets for $500,000 in international bonus money.

Not a bad haul, really, all things considered. Broxton was batting .143/.208/.163 in 53 plate appearances. Getting half a million extra bucks to spend on an international free agent is worth more than that production, that’s for sure.

As for the Orioles: they have nothing to lose. Why not see if a chance of scenery and a better fit gives them something — anything — out of Broxton.

Operation Shutdown II ...

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QLE Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:32 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: keon broxton, orioles, trades

Indians designate Carlos Gonzalez for assignment

The Indians have designated outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment. This comes after Gonzalez batted a mere .210/.282/.276 over 117 plate appearances in Cleveland. That came after he had to settle for a minor league contract with the Indians in mid-March.

A few years ago Gonzalez was a superstar, winning three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, making the All-Star team three times and coming in third in the MVP balloting once upon a time. That was then, however. His most recent good season came in 2016, when he hit .298/.350/.505 with 25 homers and drove in 100. In 2017 and 2018 he combined to hit .232/.269/.334. Between his falloff in production and the fact that his big numbers of the past were heavily supported by playing at ...

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QLE Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:32 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: carlos gonzalez, designated for assignment

Prince, Cecil Fielder amazed by Christian Yelich: ‘There’s nowhere to get him out’

Prince and Cecil Fielder know a little bit about hitting.

The two players combined to hit 638 home runs in their careers, which spanned 25 MLB seasons, while making nine All-Star teams and winning six Silver Sluggers.

But as good as they were, they’re still amazed by Brewers outfielder and reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich.

“He’s been hot for like two years in a row now,” Prince Fielder told Omnisport. “That’s hard to do, I mean, he had the great MVP season last year and then to keep it going right into this season…he’s locked in.”

“Thin people can play baseball?”

 

QLE Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:32 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: cecil fielder, christian yelich, prince fielder

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