Daily Dose: Carpenter healthy and thriving

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Some time on the disabled list has kept Chris Carpenter off the NL
leaderboards and All-Star team, but the St. Louis right-hander is
pitching as well as ever in his comeback from significant elbow and
shoulder injuries. Carpenter tossed seven innings of one-run ball
Sunday afternoon to beat the Reds while improving to 6-3 with a 2.32
ERA through a dozen starts.

Carpenter is sporting a fantastic 58/11 K/BB ratio in 78 innings
that would qualify as the best mark of his career, has induced 55
percent ground balls to rank fifth in the league behind only Joel
Pineiro, Jason Marquis, Aaron Cook, and Derek Lowe, and has averaged
92.3 miles per hour with his fastball after never clocking in with an
average above 91.5 mph during his Cy Young-winning prime.

While the Cardinals reclaim the NL Central lead, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* It’s rare to see a last-place team swapping prospects for a
veteran in July, but that’s exactly what the A’s did Sunday by
acquiring outfielder Scott Hairston from the Padres for Craig Italiano,
Ryan Webb, and a player to be named later. Webb is a marginal relief
prospect and Italiano hasn’t really panned out since being a second
rounder in 2005, so it seems likely that the PTBNL will have good
value.

Hairston has hit .273/.332/.524 with 35 homers in 667 plate
appearances for the Padres, which is impressive production while
calling Petco Park home. Oakland isn’t a whole lot better for offense,
but Hairston could play every day and should be immediately picked up
in AL-only leagues. His arrival likely hurts Travis Buck, but opens the
door for prospect Kyle Blanks to see more action in San Diego.

* Chien-Ming Wang left Saturday’s game in the sixth inning and
landed on the disabled list Sunday with a strained right shoulder.
Wang’s overall numbers look miserable because of his historically awful
first three starts in April, but he hasn’t been a whole lot better
since rejoining the rotation last month, going 1-3 with an ugly 6.43
ERA and 20/11 K/BB ratio in 28 innings spread over six outings.

There’s no getting around a 9.64 ERA, but the nuts and bolts of his
performance suggest that Wang is far from a lost cause. He remains one
of the league’s most extreme ground-ball pitchers and his average
fastball of 92 mph nearly matches his career norms. The big changes are
a high rate of fly balls leaving the ballpark and a low rate of runners
stranded, both of which are somewhat luck-based.

AL Quick Hits: Vladimir Guerrero homered Sunday for the second
straight game after going deep just twice through 42 games … Derek
Jeter celebrated getting the nod for his sixth All-Star start by going
4-for-5 with a homer Sunday … Justin Morneau homered Sunday for the
fifth time in seven games … General manager Mark Shapiro said Sunday
that manager Eric Wedge is not in danger of losing his job despite
being the first AL team to 50 losses … Joba Chamberlain was knocked
around for eight runs in 3.2 innings Sunday, although five of them were
unearned … After overtaking Ian Kinsler at the last second in the
All-Star voting, Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-5 on Sunday with his first
homer since May 31 … Nick Blackburn allowed only two ninth-inning runs
in Sunday’s complete-game victory, lowering his ERA to 2.94 … Already
out for the season following surgery on his right shoulder, Coco Crisp
will have his left shoulder operated on as well.

NL Quick Hits: Bronson Arroyo was rocked again Sunday and has
now allowed 37 runs in 38 innings since June 1 amid talk of wrist
problems … Manny Ramirez received Sunday off to rest his sore legs with
Juan Pierre filling in … Joe Blanton shut out the Mets for seven
innings Sunday to help hand Johan Santana another tough-luck loss … Roy
Oswalt allowed just one run Sunday for the third straight start, this
time lasting eight innings … Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-3 with a homer
Sunday and has started this month 7-for-18 (.389) with four extra-base
hits and four walks … Randy Johnson suffered a shoulder injury while
hitting Sunday and left after giving up two homers in the next inning …
Mark Reynolds hit his 24th homer Sunday, moving into a tie for second
place in the NL … Nyjer Morgan was hitless through seven at-bats with
the Nationals, but had two doubles and a steal Sunday … Hanley Ramirez
was scratched from Sunday’s game with a hip flexor.

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.

Jeremy Jeffress will enter rehab after Friday’s DWI arrest

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 23:  Jeremy Jeffress #23 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 23, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Texas 3-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was arrested on Friday for driving while intoxicated (DWI). According to a report from WFAA-TV in Dallas, Jeffress changed lanes without signaling and almost hit a car. While he was undergoing sobriety tests, he could not keep his balance or stand on one leg. His blood-alcohol content registered at .115.

Major League Baseball has opted not to suspend Jeffress as he has voluntarily chosen to check into an inpatient rehabilitation clinic, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. He’s expected to spend about a month at the clinic, which is based in Houston. There is still a possibility Jeffress can rejoin the Rangers in time for the postseason.

Jeffress issued a statement, which Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided:

This is not the first time Jeffress has had trouble with substance abuse. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, which was marijuana. He tested positive again in June 2009 and was suspended 100 games. It was later revealed that Jeffress suffers from juvenile epilepsy and he was self-medicating with marijuana.

Hopefully, his time in rehab helps him recover from substance abuse. Substance abuse is an issue about which people have a shortage of empathy, especially when it comes to celebrities, including athletes.

The Rangers acquired Jeffress along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers at the August 1 trade deadline. They sent prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named to Milwaukee. In nine appearances with the Rangers, Jeffress has a 4.00 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB ratio.