What we're watching – June 1

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– After homering in four of the Padres’ six games on the road last
week, Adrian Gonzalez returns home to Petco to take on Joe Blanton and
the Phillies. Gonzalez is hitting a relatively modest .259 with five
homers in 85 at-bats in San Diego this year. He’s at .313 with 15
homers in 96 at-bats on the road.

– Hiroki Kuroda wasn’t any good in his rehab start last week, giving
up seven runs — five earned — and nine hits over five innings for
Single-A Inland Empire, but the Dodgers have still chosen to bring him
back to face the Diamondbacks tonight. He was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in
four starts against Arizona as a rookie last year. The Dodgers will
have the advantage of facing Billy Buckner, who allowed five runs in a
loss to the Padres last time out. Buckner pitched in relief against the
Dodgers on April 11 and allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning.
He was demoted to the minors soon afterwards, only to be brought back
as a starter on May 22.

– With trade speculation ramping up, Roy Oswalt will take on the
Rockies tonight. He’s 6-1 with a 1.84 lifetime against Colorado, but
the Roy Oswalt who put up those numbers hasn’t shown up very frequently
this season. Coming off three straight no-decisions, Oswalt enters his
12th start of the season with a 1-2 record and a 4.62 ERA. Fellow
Opening Day starter Aaron Cook will pitch for Colorado.

– Derek Jeter enters Monday’s game against the Indians with a chance
of reaching two milestones: he’s two runs scored away from 1,500 and
two hits away from 2,600.

Game of the Night

Cincinnati vs. St. Louis – There are currently 38 starters with at
least five wins this season, but only one is pitching tonight. That’s
the Cardinals’ Todd Wellemeyer, who has a 5.02 ERA to go along with his
5-4 record. He has, though, allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings over his
last two starts, both of which resulted in victories. The Reds will go
to Edinson Volquez, who is fresh off the DL after missing two starts
with back spasms. Volquez, who gave up seven runs in a start against
the Cardinals on May 10, is 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA this season.

Bartolo Colon Watching the Eclipse Is Your Moment of Zen

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A Solar Eclipse

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.