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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-27-2014

Pittsburgh Press, August 27, 1914:

New Britain, Conn., Aug. 27.—Just four persons paid admittance to the base ball grounds to see a game scheduled between the New Britain and Waterbury teams, of the Eastern association. The management paid back the money to the faithful four and called off the game.

The local team is financially embarrassed, besides being hopelessly in last place, and some doubt is expressed as to whether or not it will finish out the season.

I think I went to some Cleveland Indians games in the early 80s with similar crowds.

Anyway, the New Britain Sinks disappeared after the 1914 season, as did the Eastern Association. Most of the same cities wound up in the 1916-1932 iteration of the Eastern League, but New Britain didn’t return to pro baseball until the BritSox arrived in 1983.

The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:18 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


AJC: O’Brien: Expect B.J. Upton trade talks to be revisited

This is what I’m told about where it stands going forward: The Braves will try to trade Upton this offseason – personally, I think it’s just about a fait accompli that he’s gone before spring training – and that they might do it by including Minor in a package. In other words, they’d tell a team, you can have three years of contractual control of Minor before free agency, but you’re going to have to take B.J. Upton in the deal.
The Braves would surely have to take back a bad contract such as Jackson in such an exchange, but Atlanta would also probably ask that a decent prospect be included from the other team.


Daily Orange: Beyond the box score—SU club uses statistics to further baseball knowledge

There’s a newhouse for number-crunchers at my alma mater Syracuse, as welcoming as a Whitman sampler and good to the last Maxwell drop:

Over the past few months, the club gave a presentation at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the largest conferences in the sports analytics field. Their work was also featured in ESPN The Magazine in July.

During the 2013–14 academic year, the club worked to come up with a topic to cover in hopes of being able to attend the conference. With tough deadlines to make, a lot of coordinating via email and plans being formed over winter break, the team came up with the idea to present research on the effects of atmospheric conditions on pitch selection, said sport management professor Rodney Paul, the club’s advisor.

The work done by the club at SU was selected as one of fifteen papers to be on display at the conference this past March and club president Matt Filippi was able to travel to Boston to represent the team’s work.

“It would be a great experience for any sports fan,” said Filippi as he described his time at the conference. He added that the success of the club was due to the members’ passionate efforts toward the conference.

 

AndrewJ Posted: August 26, 2014 at 05:50 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, syracuse university, these kids today

Mariners Extend GM Jack Zduriencik

“Aim low. Aim so low no one will even care if you succeed.”

The Mariners have agreed to a multi-year contract extension with general manager Jack Zduriencik, the club announced via press release.

The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 05:47 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: jack zduriencik, mariners

Former Blue Jays draft pick Phil Bickford heading to independent ball

When the Toronto Blue Jays opted to utilize their first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft on Phil Bickford, it was a curious selection that turned out to be a mistake. Seen as a long-shot to sign due to his commitment to Cal State Fullerton, the Blue Jays were unable to sway the right-hander away from school and had to wait an additional year to receive a compensation pick.

If only Phil Bickford could have seen just one year into the future.

According to Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA, Bickford has opted not to return to school this fall and is likely to opt for joining an independent league team this spring. From there, he will re-enter the MLB Draft in June.

In his lone season at Cal State Fullerton, the 6’4″ 185 pound righty went 6-3 with a 2.13 ERA and a 8.76 K/9 ratio in 76 innings of work, according to the team’s website. ..


Posnanski: Money money money

You probably know that one of Bud Selig’s big objectives as commissioner of baseball was to even the playing field – that is, to give the small-market teams a chance to contend… Funny thing: Here at the end of his tenure, baseball is closer to Selig’s nirvana than perhaps ever before. As Brian McPherson writes in the Providence Journal, the correlation between money spent and winning is at its lowest point in a long, long time. McPherson writes that the correlation right now between wins and money is actually smaller than the correlation between wins and alphabetical order.

Why is this a funny thing?

Because, I believe the reason for whatever actual effect we are seeing is pretty directly tied to the steroid years that Selig has been running away from for more than a decade… I have a theory – one that directly relates to my belief that many baseball teams are doing something that is monumentally stupid. I’m referring to the huge, long-term deals that they are giving players – deals that last until the players are in their mid-to-late 30s, and sometimes even carries them into their 40s. These contracts are a death trap, a suicide rap, and while there are exceptions to every rule, there are never more than a few exceptions…  in the late 1990s and early 2000s… we suddenly started seeing 35-year olds performing at very high levels… My guess is that this seemingly reasonable conclusion that baseball players had started to beat the aging process was, in fact, quite unreasonable and it is probably the biggest factor in these massive, sprawling and utterly doomed long-term contracts… Baseball owners’ and GM’s madness for big money contracts to aging players has, in its own way, evened the game more than anything else Selig or any other commissioner has done.

The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 03:15 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: bud selig, economics, joe posnanski

Neyer: Over the hill but still strong on the hill

Hamburger Hill, in Colon’s case.

When the Rockies signed LaTroy Hawkins and said he’€™d be their highest-leverage reliever, we were all like, “Hey, what could go wrong? He’€™s only 41 and hasn’€™t done this job since 2004. And he’€™s got only two seasons in his whole career with more than 14 saves.”

Well, Monday night Hawkins collected his 21st save this season… How does Hawkins do it? Just like [Bartolo] Colon, with lots and lots of fastballs, although Hawkins does throw significantly harder, averaging around 93 miles an hour. And that’€™s the most interesting about him: Hawkins hasn’€™t lost anything off his fastball in a long time now. You’€™re supposed to lose something as you age. That’€™s what they always say, right? But Hawkins threw 93 in 2002 when he was 29, and he throws 93 in 2014 when he’€™s 41. He threw his slider 88 and his curveball 78 in 2004 when he was 31, and he throws his slider 88 and his curveball 78 in 2014 when he’s 41.

One more note about Hawkins ... As you might recall, he began his career as a highly regarded starting pitcher. Except that didn’€™t work out well, at all. After five seasons that included 98 starts and a 6.11 ERA, the Twins finally shifted Hawkins to relief duties, and in 15 years as a fireman—€“ he hasn’€™t started a single game in the last 15 years—€“ he’€™s posted a solid 3.25 ERA. Of course, many failed starters have enjoyed long careers as relievers. But I’€™m not sure many have done it as dramatically as LaTroy Hawkins.

The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 02:09 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: bartolo colon, latroy hawkins, mets, rob neyer, rockies

Fangraphs: Cameron | Tim Lincecum: Now a Reliever, Maybe Needs to Close

Dave Cameron suggests that Lincecum should close because he pitches better with the bases empty.

*facepalm*

Lincecum’s splits suggest that perhaps the best way to “fix” him is to let him pitch with the bases empty as often as possible, which means starting the inning and not cleaning up after others. And there’s only one role in the bullpen that is generally afforded that luxury; the closer.

Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 26, 2014 at 12:23 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: giants

Carlos Quentin’s season likely over

Man, this guy’s career makes me want to cry.

Carlos Quentin’s ailing left knee won’t require surgery. It will, however, likely sideline the Padres’ beleaguered left fielder the rest of the year.

A second opinion on the bone bruise reiterated that rest is the best course of action to heal an injury that Quentin sustained while diving for a ball in spring training. The 31-year-old outfielder missed 39 games to start the year and has been limited to 50 games in his third season in this injury-plagued tenure in San Diego…

Since the Padres acquired him before the start of the 2012 season for two minor league pitchers, he has had three surgeries on his right knee. Along the way, Quentin has played in just 218 games for the Padres, has never hit more than 16 homers and hasn’t driven in more than 46. He landed on the disabled list with left knee soreness for a second time this year in late July while sitting on a .177 average, four homers and 18 RBIs.

By the time this season ends, the Padres will have paid him $26 million.

They are also on the hook for another $8 million in 2015 for the final year of a three-year, $27 million extension…

The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 11:08 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: carlos quentin, padres

Yankees undefeated with relief pitcher wearing horse’s head

How about naming it after Legolas’s horse?

At the bottom of Shawn Kelley’s locker sat 1.1 pounds of horror. It had giant nostrils and a full set of teeth and frightened brown eyes and a lovely mane. It is the New York Yankees’ new good-luck charm… Since he debuted the horse head during the Yankees’ pregame stretch Thursday, they are 5-0…

Kelley tries to make the performance all his own. He ran around the clubhouse wearing the head after Monday’s win and high-fived teammates. He’ll bring it on the field before games, looking like a pinstriped Hayagriva.

“You can’t help but laugh at a guy in a horse head,” Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. “He nails it. When he goes into character, there’s no getting him out of it. He’s a rock star. That’s what he is.”

Every animal needs a name, of course, and this one offered tantalizing possibilities. Khartoum? Probably too obscure. Secretariat? Certainly presumptive for a team that at the time sat two games over .500. George? Well, The Boss did own and breed racehorses for years, though were he still around he probably would’ve fined Kelley and called him a horse’s ass for wearing it.

“Seabiscuit,” Kelley said. “That’s what we’re calling him.”

The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 09:39 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: shawn kelley, yankees

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-26-2014

Toledo News-Bee, August 26, 1914:

Milton F. Stock, Giant third sacker, is now the author of the first infield home run ever perpetrated on the Polo grounds. In a game there recently Stock propelled the ball at Niehoff of the Reds with such force that when it struck the third baseman’s leg it shot off toward the grandstand and dropped into a box.

This is the sort of thing that could have only happened in a stadium that was 279 feet down the left field line. And even then, I’m having a tough time imagining how that happened. Off the top of his kneecap or something?

As an aside, I love that newspapers of this era completely fabricated middle initials and/or names. (Milt Stock’s middle name was Joseph.) John F. Mabry would have fit in nicely.

The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 26, 2014 at 08:42 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: bert niehoff, dugout, history, milt stock

Fan puts Derek Jeter’s head on the Mona Lisa, terrifies the world

Are you warm, are you real, Derek Jeter
Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art sculpture

llo

With Derek Jeter’s retirement coming at the end of the year, people are falling all over themselves to pay tribute to the surefire Hall of Famer. Teams are giving him gifts. Fans are making him signs and corn mazes. And then—AHHHHHHHHH

Repoz Posted: August 26, 2014 at 08:26 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: art shamsky, royals, yankees

OMNICHATTER 8-26-14

It’s time for…. OMNICHATTER!

Gamingboy Posted: August 26, 2014 at 08:00 AM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: omnichatter

Monday, August 25, 2014

Report: Cubs calling up top prospect outfielder Jorge Soler

“Soler power” could be the “WAR, what is it good for?” joke of a new generation…

Another big piece of the Cubs’ future is on the way to the majors, as David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that top prospect outfielder Jorge Soler will be promoted from Triple-A Iowa tomorrow…

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Soler defected from Cuba in 2011 and joined the Cubs in June of 2012 with a nine-year, $30 million contract. The 22-year-old was limited to just 55 games last season due to a fractured tibia, but he has exploded this season by batting .340/.432/.700 with 15 home runs in 62 minor league games between rookie ball, Double-A, and Triple-A.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:44 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jorge soler, minor leagues

Why did Bryce Harper use Yasiel Puig’s bat? Because he uses everyone’s bat.

On Thursday, cameras caught the unusual sight of Bryce Harper hitting with a bat that had Yasiel Puig’s name etched into the barrel. For Harper, it turned out, it was not unusual at all.
Puig had given Harper the bat, joining a long list of players Harper has borrowed lumber from. Harper said he has used bats given to him by, among others: Chase Utley, Michael Morse, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright, Buster Posey, Todd Helton, Melky Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera.

“I mean, I swing everybody’s model,” Harper said.


Choo, Darvish out for season

Capping off a disappointing first year with the Rangers, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is headed for season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow.

There were big expectations when the Rangers signed Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract over the winter, but he ended up posting career-worsts across the board, with a .242/.340/.374 batting line to go along with 13 home runs and 40 RBI over 123 games.

And previously on Rangers General Hospital:

No official announcement has been made yet, but during a radio appearance today Rangers general manager Jon Daniels indicated that Yu Darvish is unlikely to pitch again this season because of an elbow injury.

Darvish was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation on August 13 and here’s what Daniels said this afternoon (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News):

By the calendar and how close to the end of the season we are, I don’t know that it will allow him to pitch again. I think it’s critical going into next year for us to put all these injury issues and concerns behind us as we possibly can. It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me to take a risk when the MRI clearly shows there is something going on in there.

There is a difference between playing when you are tired or a sore ankle vs a pitcher when he’s got an elbow issue. They are two very different things. That’s why medical staff and people like myself make these decisions. This not an emotional thing about quitting on the team. Yu has an elbow issue that fortunately looks like it won’t have a long-term impact and we’re not going to let it.

If he’s done, Darvish will finish his third MLB season with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts, leading the league in strikeout rate for the second year in a row at 11.3 per nine innings.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:05 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: injuries, rangers, shin-soo choo, yu darvish

Fenway Park: How many (bleeping) dents are in The Wall?

Random Frequent Flyer Dents!

Ask any Red Sox player past or present how many dents there are in The Wall and the numbers vary wildly from 850 (Jonny Gomes) to 10 million (Dustin Pedroia).

Nobody knows. Nobody has tried to accurately count the dents — until now.

While the team was on the road, The Globe rented a two-man telescopic boom lift and attempted to hand-count the entire 231-foot-long wall.

The Globe also shot a series of photos and sent them to ImageGraphicsVideo, a Silicon Valley company that uses imaging software designed by Dynamic Ventures Inc…

Maybe the groundskeeper knows how many dents there are in The Wall? Dave Mellor winces at the question.

“Those are called dimples, they’re not called dents because of Bucky Effin’ Dent,” said Mellor…

Dynamic Ventures counted 164,630 dents using multiple algorithms to detect density, radius, size, and depth of the dimples. Some spots had been hit at least six times, they said.

“That is conservative,” said Vlad Avanu, software development project manager “It cannot be 100% accurate for sure.”

The Globe’s low-tech estimate is 211,044, which comes from hand counting 33 of the 116 2-foot-wide panels, and estimating the rest.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:49 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: fenway park, red sox

FG: Joe Maddon’s Bunting Identity Crisis

I also thought the graph of “league wide WPA on sac bunts” was extremely interesting.

Since he began leading the Rays in 2006, Joe Maddon has been known as one of the more progressive MLB managers… He’s even spoke out publicly against sac bunting in the past… [yet] The Tampa Bay Rays have attempted 58 non-pitcher sacrifice bunts this season, by far the highest mark in the major leagues. No other team has even 50… Just 35 of those 58 attempts have turned into “successful” sacrifice bunts… 35-of-58 yields a 60% success rate. That’s bad. The league average success rate for a sacrifice bunt is 71%. Only five teams have lower success rates on bunts than the Rays this year…

the Rays, despite having attempted more sac bunts than anyone, have not executed more sac bunts than anyone. Instead, that title goes to Terry Francona’s Indians, with a league-leading 38 successful sacrifice bunts. The Indians, like the Rays, are known as one of the most progressive organizations in baseball and Francona has a reputation as a progressive manager from his time with the Theo Epstein-led Red Sox who didn’t bunt at all…  both the Indians (104 wRC+) and Rays (102 wRC+) have top-1o offenses in baseball this season… The Indians have at least bunted well, which is more than the Rays can say, with an 82% success rate that is topped only by the Rangers’ 86%...

To be honest, I really can’t think of a good explanation as to why Maddon and Francona have fallen in love with the sacrifice bunt this year. Both have proven to be anti-bunt in the past and have strong lineups, yet rely on the bunt more than any other manager in baseball seemingly to a fault.

Just for fun, since we’re talking about the Rays and the Indians, what do the bunting habits of the Moneyball A’s look like? Fewest in the league, with just 12. Part of that is due in part to their league-worst 44% success rate, but they’ve also attempted just 24, the sixth-fewest in the MLB.

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:31 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, indians, joe maddon, rays, strategy, terry francona

Gleeman: Oscar Taveras is hitting and Mike Matheny is happy

Trading veterans because your dumbo manager refuses to stop playing them? John Mabry?? I’ve seen this movie before!!

Oscar Taveras is playing and playing well lately, easing Cardinals fans’ concerns about manager Mike Matheny frequently benching the 22-year-old rookie for lesser talents, and now Matheny is full of praise for the work Taveras has put in to get better.

Matheny told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Taveras has made “huge adjustments” since a slow start to his MLB career, adding:

He’s really worked hard in the cage with [hitting coaches John Mabry and David Bell] on his approach and shortening his swing a bit. Even his outs were pretty loud. He’s definitely taking steps in the right direction.

It’s too small of a sample size to get truly excited yet, but Taveras is in a 9-for-22 stretch right now and has hit a combined .280 with just 13 strikeouts in his last 100 plate appearances.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:23 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, oscar taveras

Pirates send Gregory Polanco back down to Triple-A

Nice to see Snider finally contributing, anyway.

The Pirates have sent top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco down to Triple-A Indianapolis… Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported…

Polanco, 22, hit .241/.308/.349 (86 OPS+) with nine doubles, six home runs and 12 stolen bases in 64 games after being called up in June. He is currently mired in a 1-for-30 (.033) slump, hence the demotion.

The emergence of Travis Snider—the ex-Blue Jays outfielder is hitting .268/.336/.435 (116 OPS+) overall and .319/.366/.585 (170 OPS+) in the second half—robbed Polanco of at-bats and made sending him down nice and easy.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:19 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: gregory polanco, minor leagues, pirates, travis snider

Boston Herald: Stanton not only choice

Gammo said they’re not trading the guy anyway. Then again, it was in the middle of claiming Loria was great for baseball in Florida, so.

[Giancarlo] Stanton… isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. With ace Jose Fernandez due to return next year from elbow surgery and an emerging group of young hitters, including outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, it makes more sense for the Marlins to take one shot at the division crown in a winnable NL East before unloading Stanton.

The Braves probably won’t wait so long before moving [Jason] Heyward, who can become a free agent after next season. And they already have tipped their hand that they don’t plan to keep him long term. In February, they locked up first baseman Freddie Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million extension one day after signing Heyward for only two years and $13.3 million…

Heyward can still be a middle-of-the-order force, assuming he’s able to fix the holes that exist in his unorthodox swing. He just turned 25 and hasn’t even entered his prime… Heyward would be the left-handed bat the Sox need to balance out an offense that suddenly has a decidedly right-handed lean thanks to the additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and new Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo… And Heyward plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, making him a safe bet to handle Fenway Park’s tricky right field as well as Shane Victorino did last season.

Considering Heyward is a year closer to free agency than Stanton, the Braves’ expected return figures to be less… If the Sox are able to execute a trade-and-sign of Heyward for a package of three or four players, including a top prospect or two, it presumably leaves them with enough assets in both the big leagues and the minors to still make a deal for one of the starting pitchers they will need to rearm the top of the rotation.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:11 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, giancarlo stanton, jason heyward, marlins, red sox

Neyer: Alex Gordon, Royal for Life? Let’s just hope for 2016.

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Look, I admire fans who have stuck with the Royals throughout the last 30 years. I mean, really stuck with them. Based on the Royals’ attendance over that span, there really can’t have been many of you. But if you’re one of them, I do admire you. I’m just not exactly like you.

My obsessive passions might have been able to survive my relocation from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. They might have been able to survive my profession. They might even have been able to survive management’s gross incompetence for some decades. But my obsessive passions could not survive all three.

Okay? You got me. I’m a fair-weather fan who moved away 20 years ago and is supposed to write with some degree of objectivity. Don’t tell me how to enjoy baseball, though. Frankly, my friends, I don’t give a damn what you think about my passions. I love my fiancée, I love my dogs, I love Portland, I love the birds that visit my backyard, I love baseball stirrups … and somewhere, way down deep, it seems I still love the Kansas City Royals, at least a little bit. If that bothers you ... Well, I can’t really say that I’m sorry, because I haven’t done anything wrong. Instead I will ask you, politely, to keep your thoughts to yourself. After nearly 40 years of thinking about the Royals nearly every day, I think I should be allowed to enjoy this little stretch in my own however-foibled way.

Maybe he’d have loved the Royals all this time if they put a bird on it.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:44 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, fair-weather fans, portland, rob neyer, royals

Morgantown lands NY-Penn League baseball team

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The Jamestown [N.Y.] Jammers minor league baseball team is relocating to Morgantown and will play in Monongalia County’s new baseball stadium, according to WVU athletic director Oliver Luck.

The new stadium, which is still being built, will also be home to West Virginia University’s baseball team.

“We’re very excited about having a professional sports franchise in north-central West Virginia,” said Luck. “It’s another example of how baseball is catching on in the state.”

The Jammers are a short-season Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates that play in the New York-Penn League.

The team is owned by Bob Rich Jr., owner of Rich Products Corp., the largest family-owned frozen food manufacturer in the United States. Rich also owns the Buffalo Bisons, a Class AAA International League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a Class AA affiliate of the Blue Jays.

“When we knew our ballpark was going to be a reality we contacted the New York-Penn League,” Luck said. “I told them we would be building this ballpark and asked if any franchise would be interested.”


John Gibbons rips Jose Bautista for getting ejected in yesterday’s game

This is a sinking ship.

Bautista was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Nolan Reimold took his place. Reimold dropped a fly ball in the tenth inning which set up the Rays winning run and he struck out to end the game. Gibbons not only said that Bautista should’ve been in those spots, he took issue with Bautista’s taking issue with the strike zone:

  “The bottom line is we needed him in the game,” Gibbons said of Bautista. “Say your piece and get the hell out of there. We’re trying to get in the playoffs, we need you on the field. He’s a marked man in this game. (Plate ump) Bill Welke? I thought he had a pretty good (strike) zone today. It was steady, he was calling strikes. He was looking to call strikes. But we need you in the game.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:19 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, john gibbons, jose bautista

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