Trouble once again seeks out, finds A.J. Pierzynski

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Between the second and third innings of last night’s loss to the Twins, the White Sox had an interesting little incident in the dugout involving A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez:

Before the inning ended, Alexi Casilla stole second base, with
Ramirez covering second but the ball sailing past him. The Sox got out
of the inning, but television cameras caught Ramirez and Pierzynski
exchanging words. Moments later, with Pierzynski sitting next to
starting pitcher John Danks, manager Ozzie Guillen picked up a bucket
of gum and spiked it. The gum scattered in front of the dugout.

I’ll give you a few moments to catch your breath upon hearing the shocking news
of Pierzynski’s involvement in something like that. Seriously. Breathe
in, breathe out. OK, ready to continue? As always, Ozzie Guillen provided some good quotes when asked what caused the ruckus:

That’s us, that’s private. I don’t like my players digging into each
other for no reason. I’m the one that makes those calls, I’m the one
that gets into the players’ butts. I was a little upset about it, but
that’s part of the game. I was upset with the way we were playing, too,
and everything came together in the same inning. I was upset because
things like that can’t happen. I’m the one that puts the fingers on the
players because this is my job, and anybody have a problem with that
they know what to do.

Teammates fighting, gum flying, managers getting into players’ butts. What a party!

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.