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Monday, March 09, 2020

8th? BBTF Central Park Softball Game: October 3

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 October 3)

3. Where is the post-game destination?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Hitting .400 in 2020 might draw an asterisk, but Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon could earn it

It is not, however, impossible to hit .400 for 60 games. Three players in the past decade did it at any point in a season: Jose Altuve in 2017 (with a remarkable .420 average), Joey Votto in 2016 and Andrew McCutchen in 2012. The last player to do it in the first 60 games of a season was Chipper Jones in 2008, with a .409 average. None of those players came close to .400 on the year; Jones finished with the best mark of the four with a .364 average.

Asterisk or not, Blackmon’s start gives hope that a .400 chase might happen and add an exciting development in this desultory season. He admitted that he has been fortunate with some grounders and floaters that have found some holes—but that’s exactly what it will take to go on an extended ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:40 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: charlie blackmon

Astros’ Zack Greinke tells batter what’s coming, gets swinging strike anyway

Houston Astros right-hander Zack Greinke made his fourth start of the season on Wednesday night against the San Francisco Giants. Greinke delivered his second consecutive quality start, but that isn’t what anyone is going to remember from this outing. Rather, folks will recall Greinke telling the Giants what pitches were coming—and getting them to swing and miss anyway.

Throughout Greinke’s start, it appeared that he was calling out signs and signaling his pitches to his catcher. Because the stadium was empty, and because he wasn’t particularly subtle, that meant letting the opposition know what was coming as well. Take a look at a few examples.

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-12-2020

Pittsburgh Press, August 12, 1920:

The cry from far and near is that Tris Speaker’s Indians won’t figure in the fall series unless some relief hurler comes into sight at once. Recently Speaker sent in Joe Wood as a relief artist, and Tris says of Joe’s performance: “I have every reason to believe that Joe Wood will help us as a relief hurler. He had everything when he finished out that game except control. He can get that. What was worrying me before he started was that he might not be able to show his old speed and sharp curves. But he had both. With a little more work, he will be able to help us save a game now and then.”

Tris was being polite. Six of the 12 batters Wood faced on August 4 reached base and five scored. He never threw ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:17 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Rays’ Brendan McKay shut down due to shoulder tightness

Rays lefty Brendan McKay has been shut down from throwing at the team’s Port Charlotte camp due to tightness in his shoulder.

Manager Kevin Cash said McKay, the promising prospect, is in the middle of a seven- to 10-day period of rest and will be re-evaluated, noting he has had previous shoulder issues, which seems to be of significant concern. Any serious injury could sideline McKay for the rest of this season, possibly beyond….

McKay had some shoulder issues last season, and was set back at the start of spring training in February with stiffness and expected to be sent to Triple-A. He participated in the informal June workouts at Tropicana Field and the first four days of Spring 2.0, then was sidelined from July 7 through July 30 ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:19 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: brendan mckay, rays

Why Are MLB’s Base Hits Disappearing?

In those 25 full seasons since the strike, MLB’s BABIP never dipped below .283 in any stretch of 18 game days. Not since September 1991 has MLB’s BABIP been as low as .276 over any equivalent span. Granted, this latest stretch of 18 game days has yielded fewer plate appearances and batted balls than the average stretch of 18 game days, both because of COVID-caused cancellations and because of the record strikeout rate. Still, this stubbornly low BABIP has persisted over more than 16,000 plate appearances and more than 10,000 batted balls, so it’s probably not purely a fluke. To make matters more perplexing, one might have expected that the universal DH would buoy BABIP in light of the ineptitude of pitcher hitters, although the NL ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:18 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: babip

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-11-2020

Memphis News Scimitar, August 11, 1920:

Outfielder Harper, of the Little Rock Southern Association club, was arrested and held in $500 bail yesterday on a warrant charging “malicious mischief” after Manager Elberfeld, of the Little Rock club, had refused to pay for the canvas coverings on the bases that Harper is alleged to have damaged yesterday with his spikes.

The arrest came fifteen minutes before the first game of the double-header yesterday and Elberfeld announced in advance he would protest the game. Zoellers played right field until Harper could be taken to the city criminal court, make bond and return to the park.

Sounds like this was a bit of gamesmanship by an Atlanta team that was in a close pennant race with Little Rock, New ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:21 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, foreshadowing, history, oxford comma 4 life

Red Sox’s Ron Roenicke Reveals Factors Behind Brian Johnson’s Release

The left-hander never cracked the big league roster in the abbreviated 2020 Major League Baseball season despite being an option to help out the depleted staff. Ron Roenicke confirmed the release Monday ahead of Boston’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, stating Johnson was seeking an opportunity and felt he wasn’t getting one here.

“Johnson felt like he wanted an opportunity,” the Sox manager told reporters during his pregame Zoom press conference. Sometimes you need to go other places to get that.” Roenicke also noted that Johnson asked for his release. The pitcher also wasn’t on the 40-man roster and out of options.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:19 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: brian johnson

How bad are team finances now? Ask the Atlanta Braves.

Technically speaking, this is the 10-Q report, which is a document as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by publicly-traded companies.  The Atlanta Braves parent company Liberty Media made that filing on Monday, and it covers the quarter ending June 30th… the traditional beginning months of the baseball season.

The big thing that the media will note from this report involves the Braves’ revenue stream, so let’s look at that first:

Revenue is divided into “Development” and “Baseball” segments, which you can surmise represent things like Battery Atlanta vs. pure baseball operations.  Here’s the breakdown:

Baseball revenue for the past 3 months:  a scant $5 million
For the past 6 months:  $17 million. ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:07 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, liberty media

Sources: MLB has preliminary talks about bubble-type format for playoffs

Major League Baseball has had preliminary discussions about holding its postseason in a bubble-type format after the coronavirus outbreaks on the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins that wreaked havoc on the regular-season schedule illustrated how a similar scenario could upend the playoffs, sources familiar with the conversations told ESPN.

Although a fully contained bubble similar to the NBA setup at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, would be difficult for MLB to replicate, a multicity format that replicates the NHL’s Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, hubs has gained traction, sources said.

Because of MLB’s expansion to 16 playoff teams, the league would need at least three hubs to complete its wild-card round before ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2020 at 08:39 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus

Monday, August 10, 2020

MLB average salary down due to pandemic

Salaries averaged $1,295,942 on expanded Opening Day rosters after prorated pay was factored in, according to the AP study. That must feel like a throwback paycheck, similar to a vintage jersey—it’s the lowest average in the AP’s annual Opening Day study since $1,176,967 in 1996 and down from $4,375,486 at the start of the 2019 season.

Unhappy with flattening salaries during the first four years of a collective bargaining agreement that runs to December 2021, players spoke even before the curtailed season of seeking large changes. Talks figure to be the most contentious since the 1994-95 strike, the last shortened seasons before this one.

Even with contracts at full value and projected for 25-man active rosters, this year’s average of ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 04:05 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: payrolls

2020’s Most Irreplaceable Players

How big a loss for the Braves was Soroka? With him still in the rotation, the ZiPS projection system had the Atlanta Braves with an 89.5% chance of making baseball’s expanded 16-team playoffs. Without Soroka, that number drops to 81.5%, nearly doubling the probability that Atlanta watches the playoffs from home. How does that eight percentage points rank among baseball’s stars? As I do every season, I asked ZiPS to re-project league standings with individual star players removed from their team’s rosters.

This isn’t a WAR ranking, which would be kind of boring. Teams whose playoff fortunes are most up in the air, especially those without sufficient depth, tend to be the ones that get in the most trouble when they lose a key player ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 03:41 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: zips

Marcus Stroman Opts Out Of 2020 Season

The Mets announced Monday that right-hander Marcus Stroman has opted out of the remainder of the 2020 season. The right-hander, who is a free agent at season’s end, called the move a family decision and cited the many “uncertainties” and “unknowns” of playing in the current health-and-safety atmosphere.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 03:06 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, marcus stroman, mets

The Fastball Is Disappearing. What Does It Mean for MLB’s Future?

Fastball use held steady from 2010 through 2015 at between 56.8% and 57.8%. Then the fastball began to fall out of favor, slowly at first, but with stunning drops in the past two seasons. Fastball percentage starting from 2015: 56.8, 56.3, 55.3, 54.5, 51.9 and–drum roll, please–49.7 at the start of this week. (Here and throughout, “fastball” references do not include cutters.)

“I think 95 is the new 90,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Guys can really hit velocity. And so, to kind of get guys off of that, pitching off your secondaries … I really believe there’s a lot to that.”

It’s an upside-down world. Secondaries are primaries. And the simplest explanation why this strategy is happening is ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 03:01 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: fastballs

Report: Reds’ plan to bring fans back approved by city, county

The Cincinnati Reds want fans to come back to Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati submitted an official plan for the return of Reds fans this season to Major League Baseball, the state of Ohio, the city of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

Both the city and county have approved the plan, albeit “with lots of conditions,” a source told Rosecrans. MLB and Ohio have yet to respond.

The plan, if implemented, allows a portion of fans to return in either September or for the playoffs, the source told Rosecrans. Details of the plan, such as to how many fans are allowed into the stadium, are unknown. Great American Ball Park’s capacity is 42,319.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 01:42 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, reds

Could Casey Mize win the Rookie of the Year award twice?

Jayson Stark poses a question in his latest article at The Athletic: would it be possible for a player to win the Rookie of the Year Award twice due to the truncated 2020 schedule? As it turns out, it is absolutely within the realm of possibility.

Unless some changes in the rules occur between now and when the votes are cast, one could qualify for the honor both in 2020 and 2021 if certain conditions are met. Sure, it is very unlikely this could happen, but what I’m saying here is there is a chance. Here are the conditions that would disqualify a player from earning the award a second time.

• Log 45 days or more on a big-league roster before Sept. 1.

• Pitch 50 innings or more.

• Roll up 130 at-bats or more.

In a 60-game ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 01:40 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: rookie of the year

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-10-2020

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, August 10, 1920:

President William H. McCarthy, of the Pacific Coast Baseball League, on his return from a trip to Los Angeles to question “Babe” Borton, suspended Vernon first baseman, declared that players of the Salt Lake, Vernon, Portland and Seattle teams were involved in baseball gambling scandals.

Several suspensions and releases may be expected shortly, he said. Borton was suspended on account of suspicious circumstances surrounding a payment of $300 to Harl Maggert, the Salt Lake center fielder, who was released last week for alleged gambling in connection with Coast League games.

Turns out the $300 was to get more Borton license plates for the gift shop.

I’m just happy these sorts of ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:18 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Fernando Tatis, Jr. is bringing joy back to baseball

Since the Padres’ opener on July 24, all Tatis has done is play better than everyone in the sport. Through the first quarter of Major League Baseball’s truncated 60-game season, nobody had more wins above replacement than the 21-year-old Tatis. His excellence isn’t purely statistical either. His home runs are majestic, his bat flips righteous, his drip undeniable.

What Tatis does not yet realize is how symbiotic his relationship with baseball is. As much as it fulfills him, the game needs him even more. MLB spent much of the first three months of the pandemic fighting players over money. As baseball tries to endure amid coronavirus outbreaks, the best antidote to its predilection for self-immolation is a player like Tatis, whose only ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 09:34 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: fernando tatis, jr., padres

Giants’ Johnny Cueto loses no-hitter as routine fly ball ends in disaster

Holding a no-hitter in the sixth inning, Cueto allowed a fly ball to Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernández that should not have been a problem. Statcast measured the xBA of the ball (i.e. the likelihood of a hit on similar balls in play) at just .060, with a 99% catch probability. It was a routine fly ball.

However, no routine fly ball is routine when the outfielder doesn’t see the ball. Enter Hunter Pence:

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 08:45 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, johnny cueto

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Oakland Athletics OF Ramon Laureano charges Houston Astros dugout, sparks brawl

Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch—for the third time in the three-game series—this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued.

Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field.

Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to “get back to the ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2020 at 08:42 PM | 56 comment(s)
  Beats: alex cintron, astros, athletics, brawl, ramon laureano

Source: Indians send Zach Plesac home for leaving hotel to go out in Chicago

The Cleveland Indians sent home starter Zach Plesac after he violated team rules by leaving the hotel to go out in Chicago Saturday night, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Athletic first reported the news on Plesac, who now will be quarantined for 72 hours back in Cleveland.

Plesac drove back to Cleveland in a rental car, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2020 at 06:55 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, indians, zach plesac

Pirates’ Phil Evans ruled out for season after collision

Pirates utility infielder Phillip Evans will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a concussion and fracturing his jaw in a collision with teammate Gregory Polanco in foul territory.

Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Sunday that Evans was in good spirits but is still dealing with some swelling in his face. Evans, who was placed on the 45-day injured list, is expected to make a full recovery, Tomczyk said, but the shortness of the 2020 season means he will not return this year.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2020 at 06:55 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: phil evans

Off the glove and over the fence! Texas Rangers’ Nick Solak homers in unique fashion.

Texas Rangers outfielder Nick Solak received an unexpected gift during Sunday’s game when Adell misjudged a fly ball in deep right field in the fifth inning. The ball bounced off Adell’s glove and over the fence, giving Solak his first home run of the season….

Adell, who got turned around and made a last-second attempt to catch the ball on the warning track, put his hands on his head in disbelief as Solak circled the bases. Angels pitcher Mike Mayers was charged with giving up the home run and taken out after it.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2020 at 05:20 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: rangers

Uni Watch: What’s It Like to Be an MLB Reporter During the Pandemic?

We’ve seen a lot of articles about how players are dealing with the new rules and protocols brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve also heard quite a few broadcasters talking about how their own work experiences have been affected by this strange season.

But what about print and web journalists, the guys who are up in the press box? What’s it like to cover a sporting event this year compared to previous years? How does it affect the articles we read, and the people who wrote those articles?

I’ve been curious about that, so I asked my friend Ken Davidoff if he’d be willing to talk about it. He’s a baseball columnist for The New York Post (a role in which he covers all things MLB-related but with a strong emphasis on the ...

Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: August 09, 2020 at 03:04 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Yankees’ Aaron Boone argues with umpires about air horn being blown outside Phillies’ ballpark

Following the top half of the third inning, Boone came out to home plate to speak with the umpires and pointed out that a group of fans were blowing an air horn outside of the Citizens Bank Park gate. It appeared that Boone was pointing out that the fans were blowing the air horn when Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin delivered a pitch to home plate.

I can’t wait until the next time the Yankees come to Philly.

Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 09, 2020 at 03:04 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: phans, phillies, yankees

Special Consideration: Deadball Pitchers

Dr. Chaleeko goes through the careers of several deadball era pitchers to determine if they might deserve any “extra credit” when ranking them among the all-time greats. Pitchers considered in this article include Dazzy Vance, Sarge Bagby, Red Faber and two different pitchers named Urban.

Generally, big league teams knew where the brightest talent in the minors pitched, but sometimes talented hurlers could fall through the cracks, especially if their top-level results appeared meh. So we’ll start off a series within a series by looking at a few deadball pitchers whose shot at the big time didn’t come quite so easily.

Mike Webber Posted: August 09, 2020 at 03:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: deadball era, hall of merit

An absurdist baseball game is tearing up the internet, thanks to fans

The official website for the game Blaseball won’t tell you any of the above. It is an information-heavy website full of box scores and statistics with a light sprinkling of absurdist horror. Nevertheless, Blaseball has completely taken over Weird Internet, and amassed legions of fans who, despite the bare-bones framing, imagine each Blaseball matchup in the language of epic poetry.

Blaseball (pronounced like baseball with an “L,” not like blasé-ball) is actually a very simple gaming experience. It’s an automated baseball league, with 20 teams each representing different regions, full of players with their own statistics. You play by picking a favorite team, passively earning coins when they win, and actively betting on match-ups ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2020 at 11:25 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: video games

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