A formula to predict injuries? That's cool, for many, many reasons

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This is rather interesting for several reasons:

The ability to predict how players’ bodies will fare is a holy
grail. With an actuarial approach, [Dodgers’ trainer Stan] Conte seems
to have a head start in the pursuit. He is trying to build a formula
that will give teams a competitive advantage and help them avoid
players who spend their days in the training room and not on the field.

Interesting because, obviously, if there’s any merit to the research, it could revolutionize the game.

Interesting because Conte makes a big point that he’s coming up with
this formula “on his own time,” rather than during business hours,
which suggests to me that he’s going to try and make a buck off it
himself someday rather than have it be the intellectual property of the
Los Angeles Dodgers. As your attorney, Mr. Conte, I advise you not to
put any down payments on phat real estate yet, because the law has a
very different idea of what belongs to you and what belongs to your
employer in such situations.

Interesting because, if it works and benefits the Dodgers, it will
necessarily harm their division rival, the Giants. Why is that
interesting? Because Conte was the Giants’ trainer back in the Barry
Bonds years. Moreover, Conte was famously undercut by his boss Brian Sabean
when Conte went to him complaining about drug dealers hanging out in
the locker room back in 2000. Basically, he asked Sabean if it were OK
to kick Greg Anderson out of the locker room because he was a known
steroids dealer. Sabean didn’t object. But then Conte, no idiot, asked
Sabean if he’d have Conte’s back if Barry Bonds got angry about it and
tried to have him fired. According to the Mitchell Report, Sabean
basically told Conte that he was on his own if that happened. You don’t
have to be genius to see that Sabean’s baloney in this regard set up
Conte as a potential scapegoat in the event someone ever raised a
ruckus about the Giants’ tolerance of Anderson, Bonds and steroids (“I
told the trainer to do what was necessary. If he didn’t . . . “). It is
for trying to throw his own people under the bus, more than any dumb
trade he’s ever made, that everyone should loathe Brian Sabean, and it
is for that reason that I hope Conte’s little formula works and ends up
killing the Giants.

Finally, it’s interesting in that, no matter how good this ends up
being, it’s going to be of somewhat limited utility because of the
prevalence of sheer dumb chance and freak accidents.

Speaking of which, check out the kid on the far right of this picture
laughing at Ryan Dempster breaking his toe. I wonder if Conte can
figure out a formula that calculates the severity of the beatings he’ll
take from the kids at school once the pic starts circulating.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
Getty Images
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: