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Friday, October 23, 2020

The Jewish World Series

The LA Dodgers-Tampa Bay Rays World Series, currently underway, presents Jewish baseball fans with a unique treat: the potential to present the first ever Jew vs. Jew pitcher-batter matchup in World Series history. Relief pitcher Ryan Sherriff, one of the Rays’ last-minute roster additions, is Jewish and, in the opposite dugout, Dodgers fourth outfielder Joc Pederson is also a member of the tribe.

Of course, it’s impossible to prove that this would be a first, but it looks that way. According to Jewish baseball historian and author Robert Wechsler, the 1915 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies was the first World Series in which a Jewish pitcher, Erskine Mayer, appeared. In his 12 World Series innings, ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2020 at 09:54 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: judaism

Alex Rodriguez says he would have increased Mets’ payroll to $225 million if he’d purchased team

“The Mets were a team I grew up watching,” Rodriguez said. “I thought that the Mets did — and do — have an opportunity to be one of the great franchises around the world, with an incredible fan base, and we were really excited to take payroll from like $150 [million] to $225 [million] and bring a championship back to the city of New York.

“I wasn’t looking to acquire a team, [but] when the Mets became available, we became interested. Jennifer thought this would be great as well. I enjoyed the experience, so never say never.”

Cohen, of course, needs approval from 23 of the 30 MLB teams, and as Martino has noted throughout the process, that approval is ultimately expected. Rodriguez has said previously that he would match Cohen’s ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2020 at 09:39 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: mets

Social distancing limited Covid-19 spread for Major League Baseball teams

To try to limit outbreaks this year, MLB took precautions, including holding games without fans, and banning high-fives, fist bumps and spitting among players. The enhanced team health and safety protocols reduced the time opposite team members would interact with each other and their interaction was mostly outdoors.

“Though one outbreak might not be representative of all scenarios faced by MLB, by mid October 2020, only 91 of 169,143 samples (0.05%) from 21 different teams returned positive test results,” the research team wrote. “No other Covid-19 outbreaks have spread to opposing MLB team members.”

Social distancing, playing games outside, mask measures, and other MLB health and safety protocols seemed to work, although the measures ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2020 at 09:36 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How Wrigley Field got lights, night games in 1988 |

What few know is that, had the Cubs managed to make that history in 1985, not 2016, the long-anticipated final out still would have been recorded on the road, no matter which game they clinched the title. The Cubs could have been the “home” team in this ’85 scenario and, regardless, been playing in a ballpark other than Wrigley.

... This letter [by Cubs GM Dallas Green] to Cubs season-ticket holders—dated July 19, 1985—goes on to explain the financial limitations of Wrigley, the national television contract that allowed the networks to insist on night World Series games and the warning the Cubs had received from the new Commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, that MLB was prepared to take the drastic action in ‘85 (moving the Cubs’ home ...

Snowboy Posted: October 22, 2020 at 06:32 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: history, television, world series

2020 Gold Glove finalists unveiled

The winners will be named on Tuesday, Nov. 3, on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 03:30 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: gold glove

Jeff Bagwell Talks About Being an Alcoholic For the First Time

A copy of Bagwell’s Hall of Fame plaque — and other baseball mementos — can be seen over Bagwell’s shoulder. But this day is about anything but baseball for one of the greatest Astros of all time. Instead, it’s about sharing his descent into a personal hell and his continuing recovery from it. (Bagwell says he has not had a drink since 10/17/2017.)

“At times you lose hope,” Bagwell says. “I think you don’t value your life anymore. I remember looking in the mirror in the morning, at 7’o’clock in the morning, and saying. ‘What are you doing, man? You’re killing yourself.’ And still could not stop.

“Because for me to get through the day, I had to have drinks.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 01:39 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: jeff bagwell

Red Sox have reportedly interviewed Will Venable for manager opening

While we’ve known since before the season even ended that the Red Sox would start this offseason looking for a new manager, we haven’t really heard much on that front to this point. That’s not terribly surprising since they tend to keep these searches close to the vest as it is, and it’s even easier to do that when any initial interviews are almost certainly taking place remotely on Zoom (or whatever video platform). That said, when there’s the whole Alex Cora elephant in the room, the silence on the search front can speak volumes, fairly or not.

The silence did change slightly on Thursday, though, as we got (to my knowledge anyway) the first report of an actual interview from Jon Heyman. He reported that the team interviewed ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 01:18 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox

The Shift May Have Cost the Braves a Pennant. Will It Cost Someone a World Series?

The rationale for the shift is pretty intuitive: Both left-handed and right-handed hitters tend to pull about three-quarters of their ground balls, so it seems smart to position more fielders where the ball is likely to go. Shifts against lefties have been proved to prevent hits on the whole, so it’s not surprising that teams have more than doubled down on that strategy in recent seasons. Nor is it surprising that teams would seek to extend the strategy to right-handed hitters, having experienced such success against hitters who swing from the other side. But here’s something that is surprising, especially considering how often right-handed hitters have been shifted this postseason: In the aggregate, shifts against righties evidently ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 12:38 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: shifts

Young Dodgers pitchers set up to fail in ‘out-getter’ role in Game 2

Gonsolin and May spent the summer going deep into games, not combining to cover less than a third of a game. The Dodgers are running a 15-man pitching staff, with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler as the only “starters.” There is no “closer.”

They consider Gonsolin and May as two of their best arms, and they want to use them in a variety of roles, often unfamiliar ones.

“It’s a big ask, to be quite frank,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“These guys are in uncharted territory. Credit to them, they’re not making excuses. They expect themselves to make pitches. It’s different, certainly. But we still need those guys to get important outs going forward for us to win this thing.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 12:29 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers

Ranking five best MLB general manager/manager openings

1. White Sox manager
This is a roster, even more so than that of the Mets, that is ready to win, since Chicago just went to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. There are oodles of young and prime-age talent, highlighted by Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert. Plus, the financial splash last offseason to retain Jose Abreu and sign Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel signaled that owner Jerry Reinsdorf hungers for another title.

But early indicators are he also yearns for Tony La Russa, who managed the White Sox from 1979-86. Reinsdorf has said letting La Russa go is one of his most regrettable decisions. Will he feel the same way about bringing back someone who, yes, is a Hall of Famer, but also ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 11:34 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, phillies, red sox, tigers, white sox

Sources on what it could take to land Trevor Bauer—and where he’ll end up

“He’s always had great stuff,” said one scout, “but he’s become much more consistent with his command of all of his pitches. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and the cutter has given him a weapon that has made him tougher on left-handed hitters. He knows how to pitch too. He’s not Gerrit Cole, but he’s a legit No. 1.”

Cole, of course, was the prize of last year’s free-agent market, signed by the Yankees to a record-breaking contract of nine years, $324 million.

Will Bauer, who turns 30 in January, come close to that type of money? The people I spoke to think it’s more likely he’ll wind up with something closer to the seven-year, $245 million deal that Stephen Strasburg signed to remain with the Nationals last ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 11:32 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: trevor bauer

Washington Nationals re-sign Josh Harrison to one-year contract

The Washington Nationals have re-signed utility player Josh Harrison to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

Harrison spent the 2020 season with the Nationals after signing with them in July, less than a week after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies. The 33-year-old hit .278 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 33 games for Washington.

He is a two-time All-Star and right-handed hitter who has started games at second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots during his 10 years in the majors.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 10:55 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: josh harrison

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-22-2020

Chattanooga News, October 22, 1920:

Judge Kenesaw M. Landis, of the United States district court [in Chicago], will be offered the chairmanship of the national baseball commission at a salary of $25,000 per year, it was admitted [in Chicago] today by Alfred Austrian, attorney for both the Chicago American and Chicago National league clubs.

Austrian declared that the offer had not been made to Judge Landis, but other reports said the position had been tendered and accepted. This later rumor, however, could not be confirmed.

“I will not deny,” Austrian said, “that an offer is contemplated. Judge Landis has been mentioned frequently as an ideal man for the place.”

Elsewhere in the news 100 years ago today, the mayor of Baltimore says if the ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 10:29 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Should a Neutral-Site World Series Become Baseball’s New Normal?

Even so, the first five games of the 2019 World Series helped Fox to the most-watched week for any network since the Super Bowl eight months earlier. Networks still crave postseason baseball, especially the World Series, and M.L.B. has no plans to alter it by moving future games to a neutral site.

In Boras’s opinion, though, M.L.B. should think bigger. But is it really worth sacrificing home crowds for a neutral-site spectacle, just to revive interest nationally in a sport that now thrives more locally?

“Not nationally, internationally,” Boras said. “You have the ability to attract people to our national pastime worldwide, because they know where it’s going to be, and they can plan.”

Boras emphasized the word pageantry, ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 10:13 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: world series

Hulu drops Sinclair’s Fox regional sports networks

The programming change at Hulu + Live TV follows YouTube TV’s announcement that it was dropping Fox regional sports networks after earlier this year negotiating an extension for the channels.

Earlier in the year, Google’s live streaming TV service extended its carriage agreement with the Fox RSNs through the end of the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons, but stopped carrying the networks as of Oct. 1.

“This was a difficult decision made after months of negotiations. We hope we can bring FOX RSNs back in the future. We thank you for your membership as we work to make YouTube TV the best streaming experience. You will receive an email today if you are impacted by this change,” the company tweeted.

“We value our ongoing relationship with ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2020 at 10:11 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: streaming

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-21-2020

Whenever Tubby Spencer pops up in the news, you know it’s going to be good.

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, October 21, 1920:

W.H. McCarthy, president of the Pacific Coast Baseball League, announced today he had received a letter from Edward Spencer, former catcher for the Salt Lake club, that Babe Borton, suspended Vernon player, had offered him a $1,700 bribe.

Borton emphatically denies Tubby’s accusation and insists that he only offered Spencer $500 to throw a game.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 21, 2020 at 10:45 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

How Mookie Betts changed the super-sabermetric World Series into the super-fun Series

Betts’ greatest coup remained. There is an art to baserunning—to rounding bases properly, to leading off a base, to understanding scenarios as they unfold. The secondary lead—a few extra hops and a step toward the next base as the pitch is delivered—is something Betts does as well as anyone. When Max Muncy chopped a one-hopper that Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz fielded and wheeled home, his throw was slightly up the line, in decent shape to get a mortal running. Instead, it was Betts.

He heaved his body toward home—batting glove sticking out of his right rear pocket, sliding glove on his left hand, gold chain flopping around like it hadn’t a care in the world. Catcher Mike Zunino swept the tag. Too late. The Dodgers led 3-1. That lead ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2020 at 09:16 AM | 138 comment(s)
  Beats: mookie betts

Manfred likes larger playoff, runner in extras

“I like the idea of, and I’m choosing my words carefully here, an expanded playoff format,” Manfred said. “I don’t think we would do 16 like we did this year. I think we do have to be cognizant of making sure that we preserve the importance of our regular season. But I think something beyond the 10 that we were at would be a good change.”

With the added runner rule, the longest of 68 games of 10 innings or longer were a pair of 13-inning contests, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I think the players like it,” Manfred said. “I think it’s really good from a safety and health perspective that keeps us from putting players in situations where they’re out there too long or in positions they’re not used to ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2020 at 08:52 AM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: rob manfred

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Padres’ Luis Campusano charged with felony marijuana possession in Georgia

Padres catcher Luis Campusano was arrested Saturday in Georgia and charged with felony marijuana possession

According to the police report, 79 grams of marijuana was discovered in Campusano’s car when he was pulled over shortly after 5 a.m. in Grovetown, Ga., near his hometown of Augusta.

Georgia law states possession of more than one ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana is a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. (In California, possession of 79 grams would be considered a misdemeanor and be punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.)

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 03:02 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: luis campusano

Hisashi Iwakuma To Retire

The Yomiuri Giants announced yesterday that veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will retire at the conclusion of the current Nippon Professional Baseball season.  Shoulder problems have kept Iwakuma off the mound in 2020, but he will hang up his glove after a combined 17 seasons of action in NPB and Major League Baseball.

Iwakuma is best known to North American fans for his six-year run with the Mariners from 2012-17.  The righty posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.86 K/BB rate, 47.6% grounder rate, and 7.3 K/9 over 883 2/3 innings at the big league level, starting 136 of 150 games.  Highlights of Iwakuma’s Seattle tenure included an outstanding 2013 season that saw him finish third in AL Cy Young Award voting, and a no-hitter against the Orioles on ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 02:00 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: hisashi iwakuma

Dodgers-Braves Game 7 Hits Best LCS Overnight Rating Since 2017

It was a great Sunday night for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-3 to secure their ticket to their third World Series in four years. On top of that, the Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Fox delivered another milestone with the best LCS overnight rating since 2017.

Game 7 delivered a 6.9/14 rating across Fox and FS1, which marks the best rating for an LCS game on any network since Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS (7.1/13), when the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees. Last nights Dodgers-Braves showdown also received a major 41% boost over Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS (4.9/9), which saw the Dodgers beat the Milwaukee.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 01:52 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: television

The World Series has framed my life. After 44 straight, I’m sitting this one out.

Since 1975, I’ve covered every World Series game for The Washington Post. My streak will end Tuesday at 252 games. Including travel days, I’ve spent more than a year covering the World Series.

Last month, I decided not to go to this World Series, because I don’t think it’s smart for a 72-year-old man in a pandemic. But I still hated making that call.

NattyBoh Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:29 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: thomas boswell, world series

Mikkeller NYC Closing Permanently

We have had to make the difficult decision to permanently close the Mikkeller Brewing NYC location at Citi Field. With no foreseeable customers at Citi Field, Mikkeller is consolidating its NYC brewery with its San Diego brewery and closing Mikkeller NYC.

NattyBoh Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:29 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: beer, citifield, concessions, covid-19, new york mets

Bill James Online: Strong and Weak MVP Classes

1.    2004 American League, Vladimir Guerrero. 

The memory of the American League in 2004 is very special to me, and it hurts me to put down the league in any way, but facts are facts.  Vladimir hit .337 with 39 homers, 126 RBI, a .989 OPS, and those are very good numbers and deserving of an MVP Award; he also had 206 hits, and led the league in Runs Scored.  But the steroid era abounds in big, BIG numbers, so it took a very large number of runs to win a game.  If you compare Vlad’s numbers in 2004 to the other MVPs of that era, you can see that those are actually not fantastic numbers for that era.  He had 27 Win Shares, 5.6 WAR, both pretty weak totals for an MVP; the other MVP candidates (Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, A-Rod, ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:28 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: mvp

Red Sox owners partner with developer to revitalize Fenway Park area

You won’t get a Mookie Betts, but do you want a Dunkin Donuts?

The Fenway Sports Group Real Estate, a division of the Fenway Sports Group which owns the Sox, are joining with the D’Angelo Family to take land they own outside the stadium to give the neighborhood a freshened look featuring stores, offices, apartment buildings, public art and green space, the Boston Globe reported Monday.

The Fenway Sports Group, which also owns a NASCAR team, Liverpool FC soccer club and the New England Sports Network, the D’Angelo family which owns the sports apparel company ’47 Brand and WS Development which has had a hand in developing several projects in Boston, including the Boston Seaport and Downtown Crossing have been eyeing such a project ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:26 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: fenway park

Cincinnati Reds GM Nick Krall to run team’s baseball operations

Cincinnati Reds vice president and general manager Nick Krall will run the franchise’s baseball operations department, assuming the role previously held by Dick Williams.

The Reds announced the decision Monday, 12 days after Williams’ abrupt resignation as the team’s president of baseball operations.

“We are excited for Nick to assume the lead over our baseball operations,” Reds CEO Bob Castellini said in a statement. “His hands-on approach as general manager gives us the opportunity to reinstate that role as the top position in our baseball department and keep the years of hard work that happened under his purview producing stronger, more competitive teams.”

Krall, 42, has worked in the Reds’ front office since 2003 and spent the past ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:11 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Monday, October 19, 2020

Daryl Morey and Billy Beane’s Greatest Achievement Was Capturing Our Imaginations

Which I think also helps to explain another aspect of the analytics movement that has always confused me: the fact that it thinks of itself as a movement at all. Doesn’t “movement” seem a little lofty for something so granular, practical, and technical? So deeply skeptical of abstract conventions? But from the beginning, you could feel that paradox in the way people talked about Moneyball: It was on the one hand a commitment to unemotional, lowercase-e empiricism, but on the other hand it had this glow of higher truth. Like tech culture in its early days (like tech culture now, for that matter, but in its early days it seemed less delusional), it seemed to point to something larger, some more fundamental shift in outlook, than the ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2020 at 10:14 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: billy beane

Q&A: Full, 37-minute interview with former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow

“Some people will say there is no way you couldn’t have known. Do you have any evidence of that?”

“So, I understand that if I were a fan and I heard about this scandal, I would assume that the GM might have known, so I get that. And let’s start by me saying I wish I knew. Because, if I knew, this never would have gotten to where it got to.

“I do have a lot of evidence. It’s hard to prove that you didn’t know something, it’s proving a negative. But the investigation interviewed dozens and dozens of people; players, video staff members, coaches, etc. None of them said that I knew. The investigation looked at emails, text messages, slack messages, tens of thousands of messages from different people. I handed over my phone to ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2020 at 09:58 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, jeff luhnow

The Rays and Dodgers Are No. 1 Seeds—but This World Series Matchup Is an Anomaly

Thus, the two top seeds will meet in the World Series for only the second time this century, joining the 2013 matchup between the Red Sox and Cardinals. I’ve criticized expanded playoffs for their potential for chaos and devaluing of great teams, arguing—among other reasons—that the best clubs would no longer be as likely to advance as far. This first dabble with a 16-team bracket would seem to dampen any such concerns.

But a sample size of one is not actually sufficient to disprove that possibility, and in fact, analyzing just how unlikely this Rays-Dodgers matchup is provides cause for even more appreciation of both teams’ feats in navigating the tricky playoff field.

According to FanGraphs’ odds before the playoffs began, ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2020 at 11:41 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: world series

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