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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Cafardo: Is Clay Buchholz the best pitcher in baseball?

He’s In It To The Will To Win It!

Yes, Buchholz is blowing everyone’s mind. He has quietly taken over the league lead in wins (6-0). He has pitched seven or more innings in six straight starts and gotten into the eighth on three occasions.

There are some good starts around baseball. Lots of good, young pitchers. Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore is 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHP. The Mets’ Matt Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. Madison Bumgarner is 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA for the Giants. Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez is off to a great start.

Buchholz, however, is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 47 strikeouts in 44⅔ innings.

There’s just no stopping him right now. He can trick you with a two-seamer, a changeup, a cutter, or a curveball as he did Wednesday night, and then throw a 95-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball by you. He’s got deception. He challenges you. He makes you guess, mostly wrong. He can freeze a hitter.

And then pitching coach Juan Nieves lays this bombshell on us — Buchholz has a sixth pitch – a split-fingered fastball he hasn’t used yet. When asked how effective the split-fingered pitch is, Nieved just shook his head and said, “Unbelievable.”

...Right now there’s no pitcher in baseball commanding the strike zone, commanding the opposition hitters, and generally in command, more than Buchholz.

The best pitcher in baseball right now?

Not a hard argument to make.

Repoz Posted: May 02, 2013 at 05:21 AM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 02, 2013 at 07:36 AM (#4431528)
Well, actually there are several pitchers you could name "the best" thus far...and Czfaldo does just that. Buchholz is incredible this season, and it is his and Lester's starts to 2013 that are most directly responsible for the team's impressive start to the season.
   2. Publius Publicola Posted: May 02, 2013 at 07:59 AM (#4431538)
Zimmermann should be in the mix there too. The way he abused the Braves last night was pretty impressive.
   3. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 02, 2013 at 08:27 AM (#4431551)
There’s just no stopping him right now. He can trick you with a two-seamer, a changeup, a cutter, or a curveball as he did Wednesday night, and then throw a 95-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball by you. He’s got deception. He challenges you. He makes you guess, mostly wrong. He can freeze a hitter.


This is my favorite part of Buchholz. As noted there are several pitchers off to great starts but Buchholz is a treat to watch. You just can't guess along with him, look for the fastball, here comes the curve, he's just been artistic so far.
   4. SteveF Posted: May 02, 2013 at 08:30 AM (#4431553)
Wainwright has been pretty amazing as well and has an ERA that's actually supported by the peripherals. 43K's and 3 walks, with a 2ish ERA with a .313 BABIP. The other guys being mentioned are likely to see some regression given their unsustainable BABIP numbers. (Well, obviously. I'm not suggesting people are expecting Buchholz to have 32 wins and an ERA of 1.00 at the end of the season.)
   5. TomH Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4431567)
How many articles can we take where a writer asks a dumb question?

Yuniesky Betancourt can play many positions for his injury-sturck team and is slugging >.500. Is he the most valuable player in baseball?

Can Jeter hit .400?

Is Clay Buchholz, who has had exactly ONE very good year in his career plus an excellent April of 13, be called the best pitcher in baseball, depsite stinking in 2012?

Were the moon landings faked, the earth flat, Obama from Kenya......
   6. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4431573)
Was Fernando Rodney the best pitcher in baseball last year? He had a 0.60 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 74 innings.
   7. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4431577)
Yes. Next question.
   8. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4431589)
I wish people would stop trying to jinx the Red Sox. It's 6 starts for ### sake.
   9. RJ in TO Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4431617)
For what it's worth (and I didn't see the game yesterday), Hayhurst was apparently accusing Buchholz of loading up the ball.
   10. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4431624)
Yes. Next question.
Rodney (and Buchholz) may be having the best season, but that to me is entirely different than being the best pitcher. YMMV, of course.

For my money, Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball in 2012, and he's the best pitcher in baseball in 2013. There's nobody I'd rather have on the mound in a game my team needs to win.
   11. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4431634)
Rodney (and Buchholz) may be having the best season, but that to me is entirely different than being the best pitcher. YMMV, of course.


Exactly. Just reading the excerpt if Cafardo changes "the best pitcher in baseball right now?" to "the best pitcher in baseball so far?" it becomes more of an accomplishment based question than a skill based question. I think on accomplishment Buchholz has a claim, on skill I think Verlander, King Felix, etc... are pretty clearly ahead of him.
   12. SandyRiver Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4431643)
Is Clay Buchholz, who has had exactly ONE very good year in his career plus an excellent April of 13, be called the best pitcher in baseball, depsite stinking in 2012?

Seems a bit harsh for ERA+ of 94. Certainly qualifies for "mediocre." Buchholz' 2012 had 3 phases:

April-May: Stinko! ERA over 7, WHIP about 1.8.
June-July: Very good. ERA about 2, WHIP about 1.0.
August onward: Return to mediocrity, as the good ship RSN sank without a trace. ERA over 4, WHIP about 1.25.
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4431667)
I wish people would stop trying to jinx the Red Sox. It's 6 starts for ### sake.

Are you kidding? With Buchholz and Lester, the Red Sox have the best 1-2 starters since Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith, and that was 75 years ago. How in the hell can this team not be considered a prohibitive World Series favorite?
   14. pikepredator Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4431681)
Buchholz definitely looks awesome so far, although most of his starts have been against teams that are struggling offensively. next start is against the twins so he has a good chance to keep it rolling. sure he'll come back to the pack (even cafardo adds the caveat that there's no stopping him "right now") but it's been fun to watch for a month. and he's had months like this before, so it's possible he's taken a step forward.

artistic is a great word for it, Jose. chicks dig the long ball but there's nothing I like more than watching someone like wainwright or felix dominate a lineup with variety and finesse.
   15. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4431855)
Buchholz was returning from a broken back in 2012, y'know.
   16. ASmitty Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4431915)
I'm not an authority on Buchholz (I've seen maybe 20 of his starts), but he always struck me as a bit of a headcase. The kind of pitcher that tends to dominate, but falls apart once the wheels show any signs of coming off. Does this jive with more learned opinions than my own?
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4431932)
Yes it jives
   18. deputydrew Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4431944)
Justin Verlander... There's nobody I'd rather have on the mound in a game my team needs to win.


I did NOT agree with this in the 2012 World Series.

But then again, I'm a Giants fan.
   19. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4431949)
For what it's worth (and I didn't see the game yesterday), Hayhurst was apparently accusing Buchholz of loading up the ball.


On twitter he said "I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick'em painted up his left forearm"
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4431952)

Was Fernando Rodney the best pitcher in baseball last year? He had a 0.60 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 74 innings.


Felipe Paulino too. 3-1 1.67 ERA, 39K in 37 2/3 innings! Bucholze-esque!
   21. ASmitty Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4431960)
For my money, Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball in 2012, and he's the best pitcher in baseball in 2013. There's nobody I'd rather have on the mound in a game my team needs to win.


Here, Verlander gets the Yu Darvish-GIF treatment: http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/cutfour/#contentId=46351324

Compared to Darvish, I think the amazing thing is how late the five pitches separate from one another in the Verlander GIF. It's pretty nasty.
   22. deputydrew Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4431995)
The impressive thing about the Verlander GIF is the delivery, arm angle and release all seem identical. That's not the case with Darvish.
   23. Dan Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4432001)
On twitter he said "I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick'em painted up his left forearm"


Because obviously anyone who beats the Blue Jays must be cheating!
   24. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4432005)
Because obviously anyone who beats the Blue Jays must be cheating!


If it's anything like his reaction to the Yunel Escobar eyeblack incident, in two days Hayhurst will be talking about what a fine team the Red Sox are and they'd never tolerate anything like this in the clubhouse.

That being said, I'd be interested to see the video he's talking about.
   25. Ellis Valentine's Bright Future Posted: May 02, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4432277)
Just watched it. To quote Greg Zaun, "all pitchers do it....I just thought he was being a little bit too obvious...maybe if Hayhurst had learned to do it better he would still be pitching instead of commentating".

Good stuff. So I guess Clay will have more scrutiny and be less obvious next time, but probably not a big deal (except it ruins his HOF candidacy).

On a side note, I have really enjoyed having Hayhurst with his honest objective stats-focused take going up against Zaun this season. They are a really nice compliment to each other and I can find myself siding with one or the other, but I love the productive two way conversation instead of just one way PR talk. Lets fans grow up with informed but different opinions.
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4432313)
Hayhurst spent a few paragraphs in his book discussing the finer points of loading up the ball, but during all his descriptions of his own pitching never even faintly hinted that he might have done so himself. He (Buchholz doing it) and Zaun (everyone else doing it too) are probably both right; it'd be refreshing if Hayhurst said "damn straight I loaded up the ball, every pitcher does" on the record. But of course it's not my promising broadcast career at risk.
   27. Papa Squid Posted: May 02, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4432335)
Hayhurst this afternoon with Jeff Blair.

"100% of pitchers in baseball have some kind of foreign substance"... I'd imagine he includes himself in that 100%.
   28. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4432393)
That's not the case with Darvish.


Really? It seemed to me that Darvish's delivery was just about identical. The big difference is in the post release, where Darvish seemed to move more.
   29. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 02, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4432400)
Clay Buchholz' wife.

Definitely NAA.

edit...probably SFW.
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4432453)
Jack Morris also claims Buchholz is throwing a spitter.
   31. Sonic Youk Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:18 PM (#4432472)
I don't know what to make of those accusations, but that article is hilarious and deserves its own thread. I love the image of Morris wandering around, bothering random Sox players, trying to break the case.

“I went up to Salty and I told him,’’ Morris said. “He said, ‘It’s dry in Boston, and I’ve seen him put water all over his pants.’ I said, ‘Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo.’ He didn’t know what to say to that, so we ended the conversation right there.’’
   32. TomH Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4432479)
Was Jack Morris the best pitcher in baseball (on one night)?
Is Jack Morris full of himself?
Can Jeter hit .400? Will he be voted on to the allstar team this summer?
   33. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:40 PM (#4432500)
Morris said. "I can't prove anything. I can't prove anything.


Then I believe the correct response to this is STFU.

Jack Morris' turd rating goes higher each year.
   34. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:43 PM (#4432506)
Jack Morris also claims Buchholz is throwing a spitter.


Is George Mitchell alive enough to lead the investigation?
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: May 02, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4432508)
Is George Mitchell alive enough to lead the investigation?


Doesn't Bucholz play for the Red Sox? Based upon his past performance, there is no chance that Mitchell would find a Red Sox player guilty of something even if they loaded up right in front of him.
   36. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 02, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4432523)
They (Buck Martinez and Jack Morris) are still talking about this, now with Tazawa. I swear it's attempted payback for the WhiteShirt stuff.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:09 PM (#4432590)
It's 6 starts for ### sake

Is there a 3-letter swear word that I'm not thinking of or has the nanny wised up to f u k?
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4432593)
Is there a 3-letter swear word that I'm not thinking of or has the nanny wised up to f u k?


Not up on your 10 commandments? :)

   39. villageidiom Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:18 PM (#4432599)
Doesn't Bucholz play for the Red Sox? Based upon his past performance, there is no chance that Mitchell would find a Red Sox player guilty of something even if they loaded up right in front of him.
IIRC the only players named in the Mitchell Report based on information provided by a team were Red Sox players.
   40. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4432619)
Doesn't Bucholz play for the Red Sox? Based upon his past performance, there is no chance that Mitchell would find a Red Sox player guilty of something even if they loaded up right in front of him

not PED's, but he tho'es a spitter
   41. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:36 PM (#4432622)
They showed some video of Buchholz on the Toronto broadcast tonight, and I have to say, it did look like Buchholz had some yellowish patch on his arm that he touched with his pitching hand. In the video he touched it, but then wiped his hand on his pants. It didn't look like he "applied a foreign substance" to the ball, but I only saw it once.

It certainly wasn't a "spitter" though, unless there was some video they weren't showing.

EDIT: Oh, and they talk about it here. Also, as much as it pains me to say so, Jack Morris isn't a bad color commentator. The guy knows about pitching, and he's far more low-key than I expected.
   42. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 02, 2013 at 11:36 PM (#4432623)
IIRC the only players named in the Mitchell Report based on information provided by a team were Red Sox players.


Gagne and LoDuca, IIRC, were named based on information provided by a team. LoDuca was the subject of the 'if we trade him, he'll roid up again out of spite' comments.
   43. Dan Posted: May 03, 2013 at 12:39 AM (#4432656)
EDIT: Oh, and they talk about it here. Also, as much as it pains me to say so, Jack Morris isn't a bad color commentator. The guy knows about pitching, and he's far more low-key than I expected.


Spending time during your broadcast to rile up the fans by backing up completely unsubstantiated claims about your opponents cheating makes you a shitty announcer ipso facto.

I'm sure the Blue Jays would love if every visiting teams' announcers spent the whole broadcast treating rumors of Rogers Centre sign stealing cameras and relayers in the CF stands as factual.
   44. Dan Posted: May 03, 2013 at 12:47 AM (#4432662)
   45. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 03, 2013 at 01:10 AM (#4432684)
EDIT: Oh, and they talk about it here. Also, as much as it pains me to say so, Jack Morris isn't a bad color commentator. The guy knows about pitching, and he's far more low-key than I expected.


So far I find him alright on the radio. He's decent with Jerry, they joke around and occasionally he chimes into the conversation with pitch selection stuff. With Buck he's awful (in a small sample). Buck doesn't really have a sense of humor and Morris and Buck feed off each other with 'the umps are screwing the Jays' comments. When he's not complaining about that, he seems really ... not bored, but he doesn't project much enthusiasm. He's probably better than Tabler but that's a low, low, low bar to clear.

Spending time during your broadcast to rile up the fans by backing up completely unsubstantiated claims about your opponents cheating makes you a shitty announcer ipso facto.


I wouldn't say he was riling up people. Both Martinez and Morris (at least when I had the sound on during this game) said every pitcher does it, it's common throughout baseball, Rollie Fingers used to doctor the ball all the time and he's in the Hall of Fame, it's up to the Jays to complain about it (but they probably won't because everybody does it), and so on. And I wouldn't say it's completely unsubstantiated, they showed a video of Buchholz and he looked like he had something on his arm that he rubbed during his pre-pitch routine. But he rubbed at least 5 parts of his body before the one pitch they showed, so who knows?
   46. snowles Posted: May 03, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4432693)
Dennis Eckerley tearing into Morris for making unfounded accusations of cheating.


Loudmouth idiot vs. loudmouth idiot. That's certainly not an astute way to make an argument that you're right and someone else is wrong, based on your hall of fame credentials. He's not helping. The only ones making anything out of this are the media, and frankly it's a little tiresome.

Spending time during your broadcast to rile up the fans by backing up completely unsubstantiated claims about your opponents cheating makes you a shitty announcer ipso facto.


From the infamous Man In White episode: "Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay noted that catcher Jorge Posada was throwing down multiple signs with nobody on base against the Jays and even mentioned the possibility that someone in the outfield stands could be relaying signs.... Similarly, in a June game in Toronto, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia started mixing up signs to pitcher Clay Buchholz even when the Blue Jays didn't have men on base, and Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy mentioned it on the air."

Ipso facto is a pretty strong statement to make.
   47. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 03, 2013 at 01:31 AM (#4432695)
If Buchholz is putting water and rosin on his arm, that's a rules violation, isn't it? My understanding is that you can't put anything on your hand or the ball except the rosin from the MLB-certified rosin bag - no bring your own rosin. Compliance with the rule may be somewhat spotty, but it seems likely that Buchholz will be called on this, if for no other reason than he's pitching so well that the opposing team would want to get in his head a bit.
   48. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 03, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4432702)
Similarly, in a June game in Toronto, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia started mixing up signs to pitcher Clay Buchholz even when the Blue Jays didn't have men on base, and Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy mentioned it on the air."


Some teams still do this in Toronto. I'm almost surprised that no-one's started a "the Jays created the bar area in CF so that they can keep their signal stealer there and no-one will notice" conspiracy theory yet.
   49. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 03, 2013 at 02:39 AM (#4432711)
Here's the rule:

8.02
The pitcher shall not --
(a) (1) Bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18 foot circle surrounding the pitching rubber. EXCEPTION: Provided it is agreed to by both managers, the umpire prior to the start of a game played in cold weather, may permit the pitcher to blow on his hand.
PENALTY: For violation of this part of this rule the umpires shall immediately call a ball. However, if the pitch is made and a batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a hit batsman or otherwise, and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play shall proceed without reference to the violation. Repeated offenders shall be subject to a fine by the league president.
(2) expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove;
(3) rub the ball on his glove, person or clothing;
(4) apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball;
(5) deface the ball in any manner; or
(6) deliver a ball altered in a manner prescribed by Rule 8.02(a)(2) through (5) or what is called the ?shine? ball, ?spit? ball, ?mud? ball or ?emery? ball. The pitcher is allowed to rub the ball between his bare hands.


You never really see Buchholz "apply a foreign substance to the ball", and he seems to wipe his hand off in all the video I've seen. There's nothing specific in the rules about having crap on your arm, but I suspect an umpire could probably tell him to wipe it off or something if a manager asked, which I assume they will.
   50. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: May 03, 2013 at 05:35 AM (#4432720)
If Buchholz is putting water and rosin on his arm, that's a rules violation, isn't it? My understanding is that you can't put anything on your hand or the ball except the rosin from the MLB-certified rosin bag - no bring your own rosin. Compliance with the rule may be somewhat spotty, but it seems likely that Buchholz will be called on this, if for no other reason than he's pitching so well that the opposing team would want to get in his head a bit.

He's obviously got something on his arm that he's going to. Now that the light has been shined, I would imagine that the substance will magically not appear on his arm for a while and his numbers will trend back to his career averages.

If you are not cheating, you are not trying.
   51. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 03, 2013 at 06:21 AM (#4432725)
He's obviously got something on his arm that he's going to. Now that the light has been shined, I would imagine that the substance will magically not appear on his arm for a while and his numbers will trend back to his career averages.

I'd wager they will trend back to his career averages whether the yellow stain disappears or not. I'd wager that for anybody who puts up a 1.01 ERA in 6 ### starts...
   52. ASmitty Posted: May 03, 2013 at 08:56 AM (#4432749)
There's pretty clearly something on his arm, and he's pretty clearly rubbing it as part of his pre-pitch routine. His explanation is believable, but not entirely convincing.

I don't really buy the "wipes it off on his pants" defense either. I've gotten vaseline on my hands before, a token swipe at my pants wouldn't remove it.

All that said, I'm still inclined to believe that this stuff is common, and the only sin is being too obvious. He'll have to switch it up from now on, and life will resume as regularly scheduled.
   53. ASmitty Posted: May 03, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4432754)
Loudmouth idiot vs. loudmouth idiot.


I stopped by my parents' house this morning and had coffee with my mother. She was perusing the internet and said the following:

"Oh, Jack Morris accused a Red Sox pitcher of cheating. He's sort of a jerk though. It says here that Eckersley defended the pitcher. He's a jerk too."

Wise woman, she is.

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