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Monday, March 09, 2020

8th? BBTF Central Park Softball Game: July 25

Let’s start planning for this year’s game. First questions:

1. Who is submitting the permit request? (Answer: Hysterical & Useless)

2. What dates should we aim for? (Answer: July 25)

3. Where is the post-game destination?

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Two main reasons why Giants, fans got iconic Oracle Park design right

Buster Posey has never done it, but Scooter Gennett has. Hunter Pence doesn’t have one, but Denard Span has five of them.

The most distinctive part of Oracle Park is not in play for the stars who have suited up for the organization but hit from the right side of the plate. In the two-decade history of the ballpark, no right-hander has hit a ball into McCovey Cove. But the list of left-handed hitters who have done it is fairly long, with 130 Splash Hits in all, including some from Span, Gennett, and guys like Tyler Colvin, Nate Schierholtz and John Bowker.

But what if right-handers were the ones taking aim at the Cove?

Over the weekend, MLB Cathedrals posted a fun photo on Twitter showing the ballpark with flipped dimensions

Some ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:36 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ballparks, china basin

Taiwanese baseball team replacing fans with ‘robot mannequins’ to open season

Crisis breeds innovation.

And this? Well, this probably counts.

Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League is scheduled to get underway on Saturday as a sign of a return to normalcy after the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league’s start date was pushed back twice from March 14 because of the pandemic.

Like in the United States, fans in China are still not permitted to gather in large groups, meaning games will be played in empty stadiums.

Well, things are rather surreal as is- why not add to it?


QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:27 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: chinese professional baseball league, robots in baseball, taiwan

Embrace the Weirdness: Five Ways to Make a 2020 Season Compelling

The 2020 season will be unlike any other we’ve seen before. Indeed, there may not even be a season. The COVID-19 pandemic has already altered baseball to an even greater degree than the World Wars did. While finding a way to resume play has become a rare point of common interest for MLB and the MLBPA, a contagious illness that spreads easily and is more dangerous than the seasonal flu presents a whole host of problems that need to be solved before a new Opening Day can be announced. Do you quarantine players? How long do you play without fans? What happens if a player tests positive in mid-August?

But let’s assume for a moment that the IHME model is on target. The model predicts that if we can keep up our current social distancing ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:22 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, 40 man rosters, all-star game, divisions,, players weekend, szymborski

Do Big-Boned Position Players Age Worse Than Everyone Else?

Be sure to give yourselves plenty of time to read this article.

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:18 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: big-boned

Let’s Crown the 2019 Pinch Hitting Champs and Chumps

On September 4, 2019, Ian Miller made his major league debut. With his Twins down 6-0 with only two innings left to play, he replaced Max Kepler to give Kepler a break in the field. Miller’s spot came up eighth in the batting order; he wasn’t guaranteed his first major league plate appearance, but the odds looked good.

But a funny thing happened on the way to his batting debut. Nelson Cruz led off the top of the eighth with a single. Eddie Rosario followed with a home run. The Red Sox went through two pitchers and frittered away a third of their lead — a 6-2 deficit felt less than insurmountable against a shaky Boston team now deep into its bullpen.

So when Miller’s turn to bat came up, with one out and the bases empty in the top ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:15 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pinch hitting

Ex-MLB player finishes medical school, primes to fight virus

NEW YORK (AP) — If he wanted, Mark Hamilton could show off his World Series ring at work.

But the fill-in first baseman for the 2011 champion St. Louis Cardinals prefers to keep that prize safe at home.

“The surgical scrub tub, not the most conducive place to wear it,” Hamilton said.

On Friday, under an accelerated schedule prompted by dire circumstances, the former big leaguer is set to graduate a month early from medical school on Long Island.


QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:05 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, mark hamilton

Ripken heads charity campaign, longs for baseball’s return

BALTIMORE (AP) — Cal Ripken Jr. has launched a campaign to help feed children and families across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinating a contribution of $250,000 and opening a social media account for the first time to promote the cause.

Ripken spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles before retiring in 2001. He set a record by playing in 2,632 consecutive games and gained entry into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

His current focus is helping feed families impacted financially by the coronavirus, but he’s also looking forward to a time when baseball teams are back on the diamond. Ripken is encouraged by the effort of Major League Baseball to devise a plan to start the delayed season, suggesting that the games ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:03 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cal ripken jr, charity

MLB Players Reckon With New Way of Life: Stay-At-Home Dad

A strict quarantine is a good way to learn about your partner, and what Sara Hudson has learned is that her husband, Daniel, the Nationals’ closer, does not know how to use a Lysol wipe.

“You have to do it for a good 20 seconds for it to work!” Sara says. Daniel tends to give the contents of a grocery bag one pass and then put them away. In Sara’s view, he might as well just walk the food through a hospital’s isolation ward before serving it to their three daughters. She laughs and says, “I’m just like, ‘I’ll do it.’ ”

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the globe, and the MLB season has been suspended, players are home, waiting out this uneasy period like the rest of us. Unlike the record 6.6 million ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: children, parents

Today in Baseball History: The “Screen Monster” is erected in Los Angeles

The Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field in 1957. The Los Angeles Dodgers played their first game at Dodger Stadium in 1962. It took some doing to get Dodger Stadium built and opened — and a great new book just came out about that if you’re curious about all the good and the bad went that into it — so the Dodgers needed someplace to play for a few years.

The first choice was the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but talks with city officials broke down. Enter the Los Angeles Coliseum. It’s an historic, venerable building now and was even in 1958 when the Dodgers decided to call it their temporary home. The problem: it’s not very well-shaped for baseball:

Your eye is likely drawn to that very short porch in left field. ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:50 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, history, los angeles coliseum, the screen monster

Shohei Ohtani Close To Throwing Off Mound

Angels right-hander/slugger Shohei Ohtani has progressed to long tossing from a distance of 180 feet and is following those sessions up with higher-intensity throws from 60 feet, pitching coach Mickey Callaway told reporters on Tuesday (Twitter links via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and Rhett Bollinger of The next step for the righty would be to throw off a mound, and while Callaway didn’t put a specific timetable on when that might happen, he noted that it should be “soon.”

Ohtani, 25, hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 2, 2018, due to Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2019 campaign — at least on the mound. He, of course, was able to return as the team’s primary designated hitter for much ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, shohei ohtani, throwing, two-way players

Baseball Question of the Day: What do you think of the Arizona Bubble League idea?

To date all of these have been fun hypothetical baseball ideas from out of left field. This one is a bit more tied to the news.

This morning I wrote about the report that Major League Baseball is at least thinking about how to play something approaching a baseball season with all teams decamping to Arizona for something I’ve decided to call The Arizona Bubble League. I didn’t much care for that idea. Neither did some players. This, so far, is my favorite line about it from anyone:

That’s literary. That’s some Cormac McCarty stuff there, friendo.

Anyway, MLB backed off of the specifics of last night’s report in a statement later in the day, casting this as more of a “hey, there are no bad ideas in a brainstorming session,” ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league, questions

José Andrés Helps the Nats Turn D.C.’s Baseball Stadium Into a Community Kitchen

The Washington Nationals have teamed up with chef José Andrés’s global nonprofit to utilize D.C.’s empty professional baseball stadium as a place to cook and distribute thousands of free meals to residents in need during the novel coronavirus crisis.

Under its city-owned lease, Nationals Park is supposed to be used for sports and entertainment only, but the city signed off on a plan led by World Central Kitchen and the team’s newly established charity arm, Nationals Philanthropies (formerly the Dream Foundation).

Two large kitchens at the park will be used to prepare hot meals that will be delivered to communities by Uber Eats drivers. One facility is typically reserved for suites, catering, and concessions. The other, PNC ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:40 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: food, nationals park

MLB’s Christian Yelich on OMF: It’s 50/50 league plays this year

And now, a dissenting opinion from many in the last entry:

It’s been roughly a month since Major League Baseball shut down spring training and since there hasn’t been much information as it relates to the 2020 regular season.

But, it’s a topic that has been discussed, most recently ESPN’s Jeff Passan writing the league could return some time in May with the entire league playing in Arizona.

Appearing on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Tuesday, 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich checked in to give his thoughts on the proposal and if the league will come back at all.

Yelich said the plan to play in Arizona has its challenges including players being away from their families for so long, logistics of getting to and from fields, will there ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:36 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, christian yelich

How MLB players are reacting to potential quarantined season in Arizona

Major League Baseball was the talk of the sports world Tuesday after reports of a potential quarantined season staged entirely in Arizona surfaced.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported that league and players’ union were focused on a plan that would see all 30 teams gather in Arizona to play out the 2020 season in empty stadiums. If the league and players come to an agreement, it could allow baseball to return as early as May.

Of course, there are many hurdles that will have to be cleared before that can become a reality. However, ESPN’s report suggests one of the biggest has already been cleared. Sources tell Passan that several high-ranking federal public health officials support the plan and believe the league could safely pull it ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, arizona, brett anderson, nolan arenado, players

MLB free agent Jose Bautista shows off his pitching form in continued attempt to come back as two-wa

Six-time MLB All-Star and free agent Jose Bautista hasn’t appeared in a major-league game since 2018, but he may return with an added dimension to his game. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Bautista spent the winter working out as a pitcher and there’s now a video showing his progress. 

Marcus Stroman, Bautista’s Toronto Blue Jays teammate from 2014-17, posted a video to Twitter of Bautista tossing a slider in his front yard. In the caption, Stroman wrote Bautista could “easily” pitch in a major-league bullpen, adding his sinker, slider and changeup are “MLB ready.” 

Bautista’s hoping to become one of the few true two-way players in the MLB. To qualify, Bautista must pitch 20 major-league innings and play at least 20 games as a position ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:27 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: comebacks, jose bautista, marcus stroman, two-way players

Coronavirus: Red Sox ace Chris Sale wonders if he might have had COVID-19

Injured Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale is not unlike so many around the world right now, looking back on the flu-like symptoms he had not so long ago and asking himself: Might I have had COVID-19?

Sale has more reason to wonder than most. Don’t forget, before the condition of his elbow again overshadowed all news about him, he began spring training workouts late because he suffered from what the Red Sox termed a mild case of pneumonia.

“Honestly, yes, no doubt,” Sale said when I asked on a conference call with reporters Tuesday whether he has wondered about it.

As medical experts throughout the world work to refine antibody tests for COVID-19, which would be particularly helpful for medical professionals working with patients who ...

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:24 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: chris sale, coronavirus

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-7-2020

Toledo News-Bee, April 7, 1920:

[Pitcher] Tommy Long joined the Louisville club at the beginning of last season and performed so well that the scouts began bidding for “that kid southpaw.” They are still bidding, but Long wants to stay in the minors another year. Here’s his logic:

“Last season was my first real year in baseball. No one is more alive to my greenness, to my shortcomings, to my lack of polish, than I. Nearly anyone can get a trial with the majors, but only a comparative few can stick. Those who are not fit can’t survive. I don’t want to go up until I feel sure I can stick, and I know it will be much easier for me to make good in 1921 than in 1920.”

That’s remarkably self-aware and admirable of him. I wish I could tell you ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 07, 2020 at 10:25 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Let’s Construct the MLB Season We Actually Want to See

The only thing we know for sure about the 2020 MLB schedule (brought to you by COVID-19) is that it won’t be 162 games. Whatever truncated mutant of a year baseball ends up with will likely be the shortest on record since at least 1994, when most teams got about 70% of the way through the calendar before the strike happened and canceled the rest. Given the current state of things in the United States — with coronavirus still rampant and several states and cities already issuing stay-at-home orders that will run through most of May — it’s unlikely we’ll get even that much of the season played. But no one knows for sure: MLB, like the rest of us, is at the mercy of a virus and its containment measures. Rumors of a 100-game season ...

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 01:15 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: march madness, match-ups, seasons, tanking

Todd Helton served 48 hours in jail after DUI guilty plea

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former All-Star first baseman Todd Helton pleaded guilty to driving under the influence as a first offense and has served 48 hours in jail as part of his sentence.

Helton crashed his vehicle on March 18, 2019, in Knox County and required emergency medical care. No other cars were involved and one else was hurt. Helton was given a misdemeanor citation for DUI.

Knox County assistant district attorney Sean F. McDermott confirmed Monday to The Associated Press that Helton also received unsupervised probation for 11 months, 29 days, with his license suspended for a year. Helton also had to pay a $350 fine and attend a Victim Impact Panel.

TMZ first reported Helton had settled his case.


QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 01:10 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: dui, todd helton

Home Run Derby, Anyone? Eight Ideas to Shorten Extra Innings

The start of spring without baseball has left many of us with ample time to obsess over the game we don’t have. While we devote our attention to watching classic games, reading great baseball books and rewatching favorite films, getting our baseball fix also involves pondering the state of our game.

Revamping extra innings is among the structural changes the league is considering to improve pace of play. Some ideas, like beginning the inning with a runner on second base, have already been implemented at certain levels of baseball. Others, like Justin Turner proposing a home run derby to decide games in extras, are much more drastic.

Below is a list of eight possible changes–tiered by their invasiveness–baseball can make to its ...

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 01:04 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, extra innings, home run derby

Today in Baseball History: Opening Day canceled due to the first-ever players strike

Moving forward somewhat:

To understand what led to the 1972 strike — the first ever players strike in baseball history — you have to go back a few years.

From the advent of baseball until the 1960s there were multiple efforts to organize players in an effort to get a better deal from the owners, including players even forming their own league one time. Nothing ever really came of those efforts, however, and the status quo held: the owners controlled basically everything, whatever the players got was given to them by the owners pursuant to the owners’ whim, and players were expected to simply be thankful to have jobs playing baseball. The only matter that players and owners talked about back in the day that we would currently ...

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: history, opening day, strike

Study reveals why the baseballs behaved differently in 2019 MLB postseason

An MLB-record 6,776 home runs were hit during the 2019 regular season, up from 5,585 in 2018, with many fly balls that had been fly outs in the past (or extra-base hits) instead sailing out of ballparks.

In addition to the baseballs during the 2019 regular season flying differently once they were hit was the fact that lower seams and a slicker surface hindered pitchers from being able to grip and/or control the baseball like they were used to.

Then came the 2019 postseason, when the balls were seemingly de-juiced.

So what happened?

A return to what the big story was before we discovered the chicanery of the Astros…...


QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:57 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, postseason

Baseball Question of the Day: Challenge of the Baseball Immortals!

Pop quiz, hotshot!

A man with omnipotent powers appears in your living room, puts his hands on you and you are immediately teleported to a postcard-perfect baseball diamond in the middle of a clearing in a magical meadow. You almost cry due to sensory overload. “Is this heaven?” you ask to no one in particular.

The moment those words escape your lips, the man who teleported you morphs into a villainous archetype chosen by your subconscious and particularized to your own memory, experience and, perhaps, your fears. Maybe it’s Dracula. Maybe it’s Jason from the “Friday the 13th Movies.” In my case it is, of course, Tomax and Xamot, the twin commanders of the Crimson Guard and the co-CEOs of the international conglomerate ...

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:53 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: pedro martinez, questions, rickey henderson, tony gwynn

One reason why a quarantined baseball season could be a big win for MLB

Jumping to the most relevant points in the argument:

There’s another potential win here, and it could be huge for baseball: For a sport that’s been slowly losing its grip on a once-loyal audience, a captive and hungry group of sports fans could be what baseball needs to become America’s Pastime again.


From here on in this hypothetical, let’s just assume that everything in America is going well enough that playing baseball doesn’t pose a large public health risk. In that case, baseball has a chance to reclaim some of the glory it has lost to football, basketball and other sports. At least until fans start flooding back into stadiums and the NFL is king again.

Imagine a sports world where baseball is the only thing ...

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:45 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: national pastime

Monday, April 06, 2020

Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers legend, dies at age 85

Al Kaline, who in a long and unique Detroit Tigers lifetime grew from youthful batting champion to Hall of Famer to distinguished elder statesman, died Monday afternoon at his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 85.

A cause of death was not immediately available. John Morad, a close friend of the family, confirmed the news to the Free Press after speaking with Kaline’s younger son, Mike.

Kaline is survived by another son, Mark, and his wife, Madge Louise Hamilton.

In 22 seasons with the Tigers, most of them as a marvelous right fielder, Kaline played in more games and hit more homers than anyone else in club history, and he compiled a batting résumé second only to Ty Cobb’s.


QLE Posted: April 06, 2020 at 06:28 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: al kaline, obituaries, rip

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-6-2020

Rock Island Argus, April 6, 1920:

The White Sox goofs were scheduled to play at Okmulgee, Okla., today and left [Oklahoma City] with a defeat of 11 to 5 handed to then by the local club yesterday. The game was a free hitting affair. Recruit Pitchers Stewart and Tesar did the hurling for the big leaguers and were hit hard.

I don’t know which would be more embarrassing: Being a member of the White Sox Goofs or trying to earn a big league job and getting whomped by a local amateur team.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 06, 2020 at 10:11 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, goofs, history

These 10 legends’ careers ended with a reunion

It’s always nice to see a homecoming for a franchise icon, and throughout MLB history, plenty of players have returned to the teams where they became stars.

It was 11 years ago on April 6, for instance, that Ken Griffey Jr. homered in his first game back with the Mariners after a decade away from Seattle. So, with that game in mind, is taking a look back at these reunions, highlighting some of the most prominent players who were, in fact, able to go home again.

Only players who returned to an old team for the final stage of their careers are included here. There are others who, after their homecomings, went on to play for other teams. Those players—Rickey Henderson with the A’s, Greg Maddux with the Cubs, Tim Raines with the ...

QLE Posted: April 06, 2020 at 01:20 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: homecomings

Sunday Notes: Keston Hiura Can Hit, But The Book He’d Write Would Be Boring

The first time I interviewed Keston Hiura was over the phone. This was a few months after he’d been taken ninth overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2017 draft. Kiura was playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and he called at the assigned time from a Midwest League ballpark after batting practice. I don’t recall which ballpark.

I was in Lowell, Massachusetts at a New York-Penn League game that had already started. It was loud at LeLacheur Park, so I talked to Hiura from the relative quiet of a stairwell down the left-field line. The interview went well. I found the former UC Irvine Anteater to be both forthcoming and articulate.

The second time I interviewed Kiura was at the Brewers spring training complex, four weeks ago. ...


This Day in Transaction History: Yankees acquire Bucky Dent

Bucky F***ing Dent. For decades, that’s how fans of the Boston Red Sox referred to the shortstop who spent six of his 12 seasons with the Yankees. Dent posted an unimpressive .618 OPS over his career but hit one of the more important and memorable home runs in the Yankees’ storied history. None of it would have happened if the Yankees didn’t acquire him from the White Sox 43 years ago.

In his first four seasons in the majors with the White Sox, Dent earned a reputation as a good defender, finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year balloting in 1974 and making the AL All-Star squad the following year despite uninspiring offense numbers. Heading into the 1977 season, Dent and the White Sox weren’t able to come to an agreement on a ...

QLE Posted: April 06, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: bucky dent, history, transactions

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