The Indians jinxed Cliff Lee

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Some folks are wondering if the Indians’ own people had a hand in breaking up Cliff Lee’s no-hitter on Sunday night:

In the eighth inning Sunday night, Cliff Lee took the mound with a
no-hitter against St. Louis. While he was warming up, the Indians’
in-house announcer, appearing on the Progressive Field scoreboard,
asked a fan this trivia question: “Who was the last Indians pitcher to
throw a perfect game?”

The answer was Lenny Barker on May 15, 1981. The question was
scripted before the game to follow the team’s “turn back the clock”
promotion to the 1980s, but considering the circumstances, perhaps
another question should have been asked. Yadier Molina hit Lee’s first
pitch of the inning for a double into the right-field corner. Bye-bye
no-hitter.

There’s no outrage or anything, but Indians’ manager Eric Wedge and
pitching coach Carl Willis are quoted acknowledging the taboo against
talking about a no-hitter in progress and mildly lamenting the question
on the board.

I’m not a superstitious guy and I think most baseball superstitions
are pretty silly. My view: since there are very, very few no-hitters,
current practices must not be optimized. I suggest that we conduct a
double-blind test, ordering the non-pitchers from half of the teams to
bring up the fact of in-progress no-hitters during games, and the other
half to maintain the current no-talk system. After, say, two or three
years, we’ll have sufficient no-hitter data to know which approach is
more successful.

Maybe we can even get a grant to study such a thing.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics