What we're watching – June 12

Leave a comment

– Tommy Hanson’s second big-league outing will come against the Orioles
in Baltimore. He started off in fine fashion against the Brewers five
days ago, only to end up allowing three homers and seven runs in six
innings. This could be a tougher assignment, as the Orioles lead
baseball with a .294 average at home and are tied for fourth with 39
homers. The Orioles are set to start Jason Berken, who was picked over
David Hernandez to remain in the rotation with Koji Uehara back. Berken
is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three starts.

– My hopes of seeing Lance Berkman reach 300 homers, 1,000 RBI,
1,500 hits and 5,000 at-bats at the same time were dashed Thursday,
when he reached 5,000 at-bats in his final plate appearance. He’s still
at 299 homers, 994 RBI (with just one in his last seven games) and
1,499 hits. It won’t be easy to add to the totals with the Astros
facing Dan Haren tonight, but maybe we’ll see Berkman get 1,500 hits
and Miguel Tejada reach 2,000 (he’s at 1,999) in the same game.

– Roy Halladay, the major league leader in victories and winner of
seven straight, will go for his 11th win versus the Marlins on Friday.
Florida will counter with Ricky Nolasco, who was effective in his
return to the majors last week. The Marlins are 14-4 against the Jays
all-time, but this will be the first time they’ve faced off since 2006.

– The Subway Series kicks off with Livan Hernandez and Joba
Chamberlain on the mound. Hernandez is working on a streak of four
straight victories, but he hasn’t had to face any American League teams
this year and he hasn’t pitched in any ballparks like new Yankee
Stadium. In fact, not one of his five wins this year has come against a
team currently over .500. He’s 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA in five career
starts against the Bombers. Chamberlain will be making his first ever
start against the Mets. He’s 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA this season.

Game of the Night

Boston vs. Philadelphia – A showdown between the teams with the
second- and third-best records in baseball highlights the interleague
schedule tonight. The Red Sox will begin the series with Jon Lester,
who has lowered his ERA from 6.07 to 5.09 while allowing two runs in 15
innings and striking out 23 over his last two starts. He beat the
Phillies last June by throwing seven scoreless innings. Phillies
starter Joe Blanton is also much improved recently. He’s lowered his
ERA from 7.11 to 5.46 by giving up just five runs over his last three
starts. The former Athletic is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA in eight starts
against the Red Sox.

Mike Scioscia and the Angels played yesterday’s game under protest

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 27: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws to first as he tries to get the out on Raul Mondesi's #27 of the Kansas City Royals bunt in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Shoemaker's throwing error lead to Mondesi advancing to third and Alex Gordon and Paulo Orlando scoring.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

The Royals beat the Angels last night, but Mike Scioscia is hoping Joe Torre and the Commissioner’s Office gives him a do-over.

The Angels played the game in protest following what they believe to be a rules misinterpretation following a base running incident in the seventh inning. That’s when Raul Mondesi reached on a bunt single which scored two runs following a throwing error from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, whose attempt to put out Modesi sailed into right field. Watch the play:

Mike Scioscia came out claiming interference, arguing that Mondesi was not running within the baseline. The play was reviewed for over six minutes but the call — everyone’s safe and two runs scored — was upheld. After that Scioscia indicated tht he was playing under protest.

The thing about protests, though, is that they cannot be based on judgment calls. Rather, they have to be based on misapplication of rules by the umpires. Running outside of the baseline is a judgment call, though, right? So how can Scioscia protest it? Here’s his explanation:

“It’s not a judgement call. I would not have protested if I was not 100 percent correct on this. This is a misinterpretation of a rule. It was very clear. Phil Cuzzi, the home plate umpire, had Mondesi running inside the line in jeopardy the whole way, and stated that it’s okay because he was stepping back toward the bag, which is wrong.”

For his part, Royals manager Ned Yost believed it was a judgment call. For everyone’s part, protests are almost never upheld in baseball and, despite Scioscia’s comments, baseline calls are generally considered judgement calls.

If Scioscia is right, the game will be replayed, resuming with one out in the seventh inning and the runners where they started. But don’t hold your breath.

Politician behind the Braves new ballpark deal voted out of office

Suntrust Park
Associated Press
5 Comments

Tim Lee was the Cobb County commissioner who led the charge to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves in the northern suburbs. The operation, despite being taxpayer-funded, was not passed on by the voters beforehand and was cloaked in secrecy at every turn. Best of all, once Lee and his fellow commissioners started taking heat for it, he held his critics in contempt and shut down any effort to examine the deal in public meetings or to allow dissent to it by the people he claimed to represent.

That’s not a great look for a public official. Which is why Lee is now a former public official:

Incumbent Chairman Tim Lee lost his reelection bid Tuesday to challenger Mike Boyce, a retired marine colonel, in a runoff seen by many as a litmus test for support of the deal to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb.

Boyce beat Lee, winning 64 percent of the vote, with all precincts reporting.

If you read that linked article, you’ll be amused to see that Lee’s supporters blame his defeat on Donald Trump and general anti-incumbent sentiment. To the folks watching that race, however, it was obvious that this was a referendum on bringing the Braves to Cobb County in the manner that Lee did. His opponent, also a Republican, ran a grassroots campaign that was explicitly about Lee’s lack of transparency and, in many respects, total secrecy in spending hundreds of millions of public dollars on the sort of project which study after study has shown does not provide economic benefits to the public in any way approaching the degree to which it simply enriches the owners of professional sports teams. Lee’s opponent, Mike Boyce, said this after his victory:

“Cobb County is a very conservative county and people simply want the respect shown to them that if you’re going to use their money, you have to ask them,” Boyce said.

Doesn’t seem all that controversial, Trumpian or anti-incumbent to me. That just seems like good sense.

Not that Lee is going away quietly. After his defeat, he said this:

I wanted to make a positive difference for my community. Thirteen years later, I can safely say that I’ve done that. In my last term, Cobb County landed the biggest economic development deal in its modern history. That investment – however unfairly maligned and misrepresented – is already paying off and will enrich this community long after many of us are gone . . . The election is over; our friendship is not. How about we catch a ballgame together? I know a great place about to open up. It’s in the neighborhood.

I’m assuming Lee will have free Braves tickets for life after what he did for them so, yes, he’ll always be at the ballgame. And yes, I’m sure he’ll always consider the stadium to have been economically beneficial because he’ll just point to a ballpark full of fans and, eventually, a winning Braves ballclub and claim that makes everyone’s life better. If he chooses to measure the ballpark’s economic impact the way actual economists do, however, as opposed to the way professional sports teams and their crony politicians do, I’m guessing he’ll have to reassess that stuff about how great all of this has been.

Not that I ever expect him to measure it that way. No one in power ever does. They’re too busy hobnobbing with retired ballplayers and team executives in the luxury suites and explaining away their failure to fund true public works and services as either something wholly unavoidable or the fault of someone else.