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Jim Furtado
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Indians Usher Says He Was Fired for Refusing to Wear Pro-Sin Tax Sticker

Edward Loomis, a former usher for the Cleveland Indians, says that the team’s campaign to get voters on its side also includes mandatory pro-Issue 7 stickers that must be worn by employees and that his refusal to wear the pro-sin tax gear led to his dismissal from his job.

cmd600 Posted: April 24, 2014 at 03:32 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, taxpayers

Connie Marrero, oldest Major Leaguer, dies at 102

Connie Marrero, the Cuban right-hander who pitched for the Senators in the 1950s and was the oldest living Major Leaguer, died this week just two days shy of his 103rd birthday, the Associated Press reported. Only Red Hoff, who died at 107, played in an MLB game and lived longer than Marrero.

They called Marrero “the Cuban cutie,” a “muscle-bound little gnome,” “the ageless Cuban,” “a real pixie,” and Chico — coined “by sportswriters who had trouble spelling Corrado [sic],” according to one newspaper account. They often quoted him phonetically in an exaggerated cartoon-like dialect (“Me peetch gude”) and seemed infatuated with the big cigar, thick accent and unusual physique. Shirley Povich, the Washington Post columnist, compared him with a fire hydrant — “as easy to step over as step around.”

Mike Sandlock, you’re on deck.

Gonfalon B. Posted: April 24, 2014 at 03:30 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: history

Calcaterra: Blogger Murray Chass attacks me for bad reporting, ignores quotes, evidence in doing so

Castellammare del Blogo.

Murray, you’re a Hall of Famer, and for all the work that put you there, I respect you. But you have no more business being out there engaging in media criticism than 83-year-old Ernie Banks has being in the Cubs’ lineup against the Diamondbacks this afternoon. Less so, actually. Because while neither Banks nor you are likely to be able to catch up to a fastball these days, at least Banks isn’t blinded by bitterness and rage about not being active anymore.

*I suppose there are many definitions of “blogger,” but the original and in my mind truest definition of the term is one who reads and synthesizes news and opinion on the Internet, forms his or her own opinions about it, links said news and opinions on his or her “web log” — which is where the word “blog” comes from — and talks about what he or she thinks about the matter.

While, today, bloggers such as myself may work for large media organizations like NBC, the original promise of blogging was that it gave people not affiliated with the mainstream media a chance to write and opine about the issues of the day.

In what way Murray Chass does not fit this definition is beyond me. He is a blogger in the purest and truest meaning of the word. In form — he writes a blog from his home in his free time — and in practice — he is using it to attack a writer from a large media organization — Chass is, in fact, the Platonic ideal of a blogger. He is keeping it so real as a blogger, he makes a guy like me — who considers himself a pretty decent blogger — look like some sort of sellout. A piker. Frankly, I’m a tad embarrassed at how much more of a legit blogger Chass is than me sometimes.

So I shall no longer call him The Blogger Murray Chass.” I shall call him “King Blogger Murray Chass, O.G. Pimp Daddy Blogger Par Excellence.”

Repoz Posted: April 24, 2014 at 01:02 PM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: site news

NY Times: The Upshot: Up Close on Baseball’s Borders

Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated has called the line running through Connecticut that separates Yankee fans and Red Sox fans the Munson-Nixon line. Mr. Rushin came up with the name — in honor of the late Yankee catcher Thurman Munson and the retired Red Sox right fielder Trot Nixon — in 2003, and he had to guess where the line ran: “north of New Haven but south of Hartford, running the breadth of central Connecticut.”

We don’t have to guess anymore.

Fans may not list which team they favor on the census, but millions of them do make their preferences public on Facebook. Using aggregated data provided by the company, we were able to create an unprecedented look at the geography of baseball fandom, going down not only to the county level, as Facebook did in a nationwide map it released a few weeks ago, but also to ZIP codes. We can now clearly see that both Hartford and New Haven are in fact Yankee outposts. We can also determine the precise Chicago neighborhoods where White Sox jerseys stop being welcome and the central California town where the Dodgers cede fan favorite status to the Giants.

Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: fans, general

Toronto Star: Blue Jays pave way for grass at the Rogers Centre

A look at some of the challenges involved with installing natural grass at Rogers Centre.

If only it were as simple as heading to Home Depot and picking up 143,000 square feet of sod. The four-year timeline before grass can be installed inside the Rogers Centre is based on a year of research and testing, followed by three years to produce the sod and grow the grass.

“For grass in the spring of 2018, you’ve got to sow the seed in 2015,” said Eric Lyons, an associate professor of turfgrass sciences and physiology at the University of Guelph.

Boileryard Posted: April 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, groundskeeping, lawns

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-24-2014

The lesser-known subplot of Wrigley Field’s first game, in the Toledo News-Bee, April 24, 1914:

Court Officers Yank Pitcher Johnson, Late of Reds, From Chicago Federal League Game

Chief Johnson, Indian twirler who jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Federals, expressed confidence on Friday that the court order restraining him from playing with the Packers will be dismissed…
Papers were served on Johnson after he had pitched two innings at the Chifed opener. At the same time President Madison of the Kansas City club was enjoined from tampering with Cincinnati players now at the Cub park.

Not really terribly well done by the KC Feds, allowing someone to get close enough to Johnson during a game to serve him a court order.

Anyway, Johnson was in legal limbo for months and didn’t play again until July 25, when he threw a complete game for the Packers. When the Federal League died after the 1915 season, so did the Chief’s major league career.

Shouldn’t really be much of a surprise that a decent but unspectacular pitcher who fought organized baseball in court didn’t have much of a career afterwards.

Matt Williams: No problem with Harper’s two-strike bunting


A strange play occurred in the sixth inning during the Nationals’ 5-4 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night. After Adam LaRoche singled off right-hander Jared Weaver to lead off, Bryce Harper tried to bunt for a hit on a 2-2 count, but he fouled out to catcher Chris Iannetta.

Manager Matt Williams defended Harper, saying the Angels gave him the opportunity to bunt.

“I’m not opposed to him laying a bunt down with two strikes. We’ve seen guys do it before,” Williams said. “If he gets that bunt down, it’s a base hit. I’m not concerned about that. He is trying to do things to help us win.”

Two innings later, Harper hit a routine ground ball to first baseman Albert Pujols, who bobbled the ball. At first, Harper didn’t run hard to first base, but once he saw that Pujols couldn’t handle the grounder, Harper ran hard and was safe on the play. Pujols was charged with an error on the play.

...“He was safe at first base. That’s all I care about,” Williams said. “We are not asking him to go 100 percent all the time—as fast as he could possibly go, every single moment. Not everybody does. But what we expect is for him to give us a chance, and he gave us a chance on that play. The ball was mishandled by Albert and [Harper] kicked it in gear and got on first base. That’s all I care about.”

Repoz Posted: April 24, 2014 at 07:43 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: nats

BU: Take Me Out to the MOOC Game

Now if they could only get Joe Moock to do the intro…

Baseball’s opening day is behind us, but if you can’t get enough of this spring ritual, you can savor another opening day of sorts May 29, when a baseball-centered class debuts as BU’s first MOOC.

Sabermetrics 101: Introduction to Baseball Analytics kicks off what ultimately will be five MOOCs (massive open online courses) BU will offer via edX, the online platform spearheaded by Harvard and MIT. MOOCs allow students around the world to take university classes free, for no credit.

For sabermetrician Andy Andres, the MOOC is a chance to put online a course he taught for a decade in a traditional classroom setting at Tufts before coming to BU in 2000. It will be the first time he’s rolled out the course here in any form, and the prospect that a student with a laptop in Bora Bora could access it thrills him.

“In the previous years that I have taught this course, there were many students who were not on campus and wanted to take it,” says Andres, a College of General Studies senior lecturer in natural sciences and mathematics. “The wonderful edX platform allows those students to take the class and learn something they want to learn.”

Since MOOCs enable students to take the course at their own pace and at times convenient for them, Andres says, he can “focus so much more on content and student learning” rather than meeting a schedule.

Repoz Posted: April 24, 2014 at 07:15 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Pelicans’ patient Gallo hits three homers | News

This guy could be scary good.

A year ago, Gallo became the first teenager to hit 40 home runs in the Minors in over 50 years. His raw power—touted highly before he arrived in Class A Hickory—was on full display throughout the summer, but his plate approach was also often questioned. Gallo struck out in 37 percent of his plate appearances and batted just .245.

He’s hitting .359 right now in large part because he’s drastically cut down on the strikeouts. His strikeout rate is 25.3 percent and his walk rate is up to 18.1 percent

“I’m laying off pitches and deciding which pitch to hit and which not to hit,” he said. “That’s helped a lot so far. I’m laying off pitches in the dirt, laying off high pitches. Going up there with a plan of what they’re going to do to you.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 24, 2014 at 07:05 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: joey gallo, prospects, rangers

Full Count » Red Sox to call up right-hander Alex Wilson, option Daniel Nava

Nava had a great year in 2013. This year he has looked just awful on both sides of the ball. Still, I’m surprised they sent him down. Having options left is not good.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 24, 2014 at 06:47 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: daniel nava, red sox, shane victorino

OMNICHATTER for 4-24-2014

The OMNICHATTER has never been ejected for having a foreign substance on it’s neck.

Gamingboy Posted: April 24, 2014 at 12:11 AM | 46 comment(s)
  Beats: omnichatter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keri: Slump City: Why Does the 2014 MLB Season Suddenly Feel Like 1968?

The first culprit is rising strikeout totals, as hitters have been whiffing more often than ever over the past few seasons. Through this many games in 2006, batters were striking out 18.7 percent of the time while netting a .265 batting average. That first figure has soared to 23.3 percent in 2014, an all-time high for this point in the season.

In an attempt to figure out why hitters are striking out more than ever, Grantland contributor Ben Lindbergh hosted a panel discussion on Baseball Prospectus’s Effectively Wild podcast with Fox Sports writer Rob Neyer, Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus contributor Harry Pavlidis, former major league pitcher Brian Bannister, and physics professor/baseball researcher Dr. Alan Nathan. Each of the panelists had a somewhat different theory. Pavlidis noted the introduction of PITCHf/x to umpires’ training programs in 2009, a move he says prompted umpires to start calling a larger and more standardized strike zone. Pavlidis found that 57 percent of the pitches that hitters take now get called as strikes, compared to 50 percent right before PITCHf/x supplanted QuesTec for umpire reviews.

Nathan noted that pitchers are throwing harder than ever. Teams are drafting and developing bigger and stronger pitchers, and the net effect has been faster average pitch speeds, including more fastballs touching triple digits. According to ESPN Stats & Info research, the average velocity for all pitch types this season is 87.3 mph, while the average pitcher’s maximum pitch velocity is 94.1 mph. Compare that to April 2011, when those averages were 86.7 and 93.7, respectively. While those differences might seem negligible, Nathan pointed out that batters only have a fraction of a second to react to pitches. That means hitters’ muscle memory has been conditioned toward a certain pitch speed over thousands of repetitions, and even the slightest change can throw off their timing.

Bannister noted that PED testing has hurt hitter performance and thus offensive results, though that topic’s a bit of a puzzler, since more stringent testing would presumably affect pitcher PED usage rates as well, and thus possibly deaden overall pitch speeds. Lindbergh suggested that one of the mantras of the analytical age — that high-strikeout pitchers are highly desirable, but high-strikeout hitters aren’t necessarily a problem — could be affecting personnel decisions. Neyer, meanwhile, subscribed to an all-of-the-above theory, claiming that the rise in strikeouts has been somewhat organic.

...Trends don’t last forever in baseball. It took just one generation for the Year of the Pitcher to evolve into one of the highest-offense eras in the sport’s history, a shift brought on by everything from rule changes like lowering the mound, to more offense-friendly ballparks, to bats with thinner handles, to juiced balls, to juiced ball players. One way or another, the batting average decline will likely stop as well.

It might take a while, though. Even if the rising strikeout rates are organic and thus subject to leveling off, teams have discovered run prevention gold with shifts. Clubs like the Astros will probably shift even more as long as doing so yields results, and teams that almost never shift, like the Rockies, will likely start once they’re forced to acknowledge how well the tack is working for the competition. There are ways to beat the shift, like shooting for the opposite field or bunting, but we’ve yet to reach the tipping point where a power hitter who sees a lot of shifts, like David Ortiz, decides to sacrifice home runs for singles. We might not even be close.

This season probably won’t produce another ’68 Yaz situation. But the 73-year streak without a .400 hitter looks pretty damn safe, too.

Thanks to Butch.

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2014 at 08:43 PM | 45 comment(s)
  Beats: history

Michael Pineda ejected from Red Sox game after pine tar discovered on neck

No pine tar barren episode here.

Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from his start against the Red Sox Wednesday night after umpires checked him for a foreign substance at the request of Boston manager John Farrell.

Pineda could face a suspension from Major League Baseball, especially since Joe Torre, MLB’s VP of baseball operations, talked to Yankee GM Brian Cashman after Pineda was spotted with a similar substance on his palm during his last start against the Red Sox on April 10.

Pineda obviously had a brown goop on his neck at the start of the second inning Wednesday. In his previous start against Boston, Pineda had a similar substance on his right palm, but the Red Sox never protested.

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2014 at 08:29 PM | 122 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox, yankees

Coliseum Authority accuses Athletics of not paying rent

Here’s A’s president Mike Crowley response to the Coliseum Authority’s accustaions below:

“First, we owe no back rent or any other amounts. We did deduct rent payments in the past for items that we are allowed under our lease, but that was our negotiated right.

Second, there is absolutely nothing in either our lease offer to them or their counter proposal to us that mentions any kind of subsidy. In fact, under our final offer we would immediately invest no less than $10 million in the facility and our rent would rise from the amounts that we have paid over the last decade.

We have nothing additional to offer and as a result there will be no further negotiations.”

The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: April 23, 2014 at 06:21 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, oakland coliseum

Doyel: How was Gerrit Cole not suspended? He basically started the brawl

Doy-El…still trying to convince his colleagues that doom awaits!

Let me get this straight. Baseball has suspended four people because of the brawl on Sunday between the Brewers and Pirates—but didn’t suspend the guy who started the damn thing?

That would be Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, and don’t look at me like that. If you’re here to argue with me, I know both your issues already: One, you say Gerrit Cole never threw a punch, never fought with anyone, therefore he can’t be suspended for his role in a brawl. Two, you say Gerrit Cole didn’t start this thing anyway; Carlos Gomez started it by pimping his home run triple.

If you’re saying either (or both) of those things, then you have a third issue:

You’re wrong.

Here’s why: Cole started that fight just as surely as the slowest driver on the Interstate started the 12-car pileup behind him. That guy scooting along at 52 miles an hour avoided the crash, doesn’t even know it happened, but it’s his fault. He’s the one screwing up, causing a chain reaction that resulted in 12 cars piling up while he goes about his business, blissfully unaware of his role in the whole thing.

That’s Cole, minus the unaware part. He knows he started this fight. And if you don’t know that, you’re either (A) a Pirates fan, which is understandable because we support our own and I support that, or (B) you’re so mad at Gomez for Disrespecting The Game that you failed to see what Cole did to turn a run-of-the-mill baseball code violation into a five-alarm fire.

...Cole just made a small event a monster one, because Major League players don’t like being cursed at by an opponent on the field. Do they like being shown up by a batter? No, they don’t like that either. Gomez played his role in this fight by doing that, but Gerrit Cole absolutely escalated things by cursing out Gomez.

After that, the fight was on. Gomez barked back, the benches emptied, and testosterone took over. Gomez himself went ballistic, and that’s on him. He’s not an innocent bystander in this, not some poor guy who doesn’t deserve the three-game ban he got. He deserves every inning of his suspension, and should probably get another game or two tacked on for having the audacity to appeal it.

But Cole deserves a suspension, too. This fight doesn’t happen without him. There are no winners in what happened Sunday at PNC Park, only losers.

But Gerrit Cole didn’t lose, somehow. Baseball let him slink off down the road, laughing in his rear-view mirror at the carnage he helped cause.

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2014 at 04:21 PM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, pirates

Matt Harvey of New York Mets deletes Twitter account after controversial tweet

Please report to the Amway office for personality removal. #davidwright

Matt Harvey’s Twitter account is outta here.

Harvey’s final tweet Tuesday created a stir. On the six-month anniversary of his Tommy John procedure, the rehabbing New York Mets ace tweeted “I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already.#tommyjohn” and attached a photo of himself from his hospital bed in October, with his middle finger raised.

Shortly thereafter, the tweet disappeared. Then Harvey’s entire Twitter account was deleted. He had amassed more than 100,000 followers.

The Mets confirmed requesting that the tweet be deleted because it contained a photo with a potentially offensive gesture, but added that the decision to delete the account belonged to Harvey.

Harvey confirmed that sequence of events….He said his mother took the photo as he was heading into surgery on Oct. 22.

“I think I looked up at the calendar and realized it’s been six months. And I was kind of surprised,” Harvey said. “So I went back and looked at some of the pictures that my mother was taking before surgery, and kind of got a good chuckle at that one. ... That was how I felt going into surgery, realizing it was going to be a pretty long process ahead of me. It was all fun and games. It was me showing a little bit of my personality before surgery.

“I’m not going to apologize for being myself and having a good laugh at a funny little picture. I’ve kind of had enough with Twitter and, I guess, not being able to show your personal side. I’ll keep those pictures to myself.”

The District Attorney Posted: April 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: matt harvey, mets, social media

The Five “Acts” of Ike Davis’s Career, and Why Trading Ike Was a Mistake

Let’s recap Acts 1 through V:

Act I, 2010 and 2011: .271/.357/.460 over 750 plate appearances, 26 HR, 123 OPS+
Act II, early 2012: .202/.276/.404 in 344 plate appearances
Act III, late 2012: .256/.354/.551 in 240 plate appearances
Act IV, early 2013: .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances
Act V, late 2013: .267/.429/.443 in 170 plate appearances

When I look at the various ups and downs in Ike’s career, I don’t see a player who cratered without explanation from a potential wunderkind in 2009-2011 to a dud thereafter.  I see a player who has been overall working his way toward a successful major league career, but who had two incredibly long and deep troughs.  You don’t luck your way into being that good, and you don’t luck your way into being that bad.  Other things are at play.

thetailor Posted: April 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: ike davis, mets, trades

4 balls, you’re out!

I have an idea: steroids for the replay guys.

bunyon Posted: April 23, 2014 at 10:28 AM | 59 comment(s)
  Beats: rays, replay, sabermetrics, umpires

Morosi: Diamondbacks’ growing gloom might mean doom for manager or GM

Grit ain’t grocery
Eggs ain’t poultry
And Kirk Gibson ain’t the man

The Arizona Diamondbacks were supposed to lead the league in grit. Purportedly, that was the rationale behind the Justin Upton trade two offseasons ago. The swashbuckling leadership team of Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson wanted their guys to play hard, drill opposing hitters when necessary and teach Yasiel Puig a few lessons in major league decorum.

Now they have the worst record in baseball, 5-18. With a 9-2 loss to the nearly-as-woeful Cubs on Tuesday, Arizona dropped to 1-4 on a road trip that could determine the fates of Towers and/or Gibson. And if the Diamondbacks are resolved to save their bosses’ jobs, they aren’t playing—or even talking—like it.

...McCarthy, a nine-year veteran, said he had played on bad teams before. Each seemed to have some positivity and “rays of hope,” he said.

As for the ‘14 Diamondbacks . . .

“This is different,” McCarthy said somberly.

Chavez’s statements were perhaps even more damning.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you,” Chavez said. “I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least I felt like we were competitive. So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“It definitely wasn’t what we anticipated. We had a couple pitchers [ace Patrick Corbin and reliever David Hernandez] go down early, which was disheartening. But everybody’s had injuries. This is about as bad of a start as anybody could imagine.”

We would expect a “gritty” team to come from behind and win. The Diamondbacks haven’t. They’ve won only two games this season in which they trailed—and one was way back on April 1. In fact, the Diamondbacks are 1-15 when the opposition scores first. What happened to the steadfastness they displayed last year, when, according to STATS LLC, they ranked fifth in all of baseball with 42 comeback wins?

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2014 at 10:23 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: d-backs

MLB takes a swing at the video game business

MLB Advanced Media, the league’s digital arm, has released a baseball video game for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Apple mobile devices. The game itself, RBI Baseball ‘14, is fairly conventional, but its release is not: It marks the first time a major professional sports league has developed its own console game.

“MLBAM has done some games before, but online mobile games,” said Samit Sarkar, reporter for the video game news site Polygon. “It’s something new for a league to do a bigger console title like this.”

Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 23, 2014 at 08:25 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, mlbam, video games

The rise and fall of Ike Davis’ New York Mets | Capital New York

I like Ike. I’ve been sitting on him for a few years in various fantasy leagues. At this point, I’m just happy he’s out of New York, so I can finally find out if my belief in him is misguided or not.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 23, 2014 at 08:22 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: ike davis, mets

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-23-2014

[Keokuk, Iowa] Daily Gate City, April 23, 1914:

Chilly atmosphere that threatened to cut the bleacher attendance, was dished up today for the opening of the new Chicago Federal park, when the Kansas City Packers meet [sic] the Chifeds. Despite interference by the weather man, Owner Weeghman predicted a crowd of 20,000, the reserve seat section having been sold out three weeks ago. Corporation Counsel Sexton was to hurl the first ball.

Weeghman Park firsts:
First batter: Chet Chadbourne
First pitch in an actual game: Claude Hendrix
First home run: Art Wilson, solo shot off of Ben Harris
First world championship:

(I’m an Indians fan. I kid because I acutely feel your pain, Cubs fans.)

OMNICHATTER for 4/23/2014

In which baseball players continue to play baseball…

Gamingboy Posted: April 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM | 183 comment(s)
  Beats: omnichatter

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