Adam Wainwright should probably stop his whining

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s and Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright’s reaction to the Holliday drop:

The Dodgers stretched the inning improbably after left fielder Matt Holliday lost first baseman James Loney’s line drive in the glare of late-afternoon lights and a backdrop of towel-waving fans.

The ball caught Holliday in the stomach, knocking the wind out of everyone wearing road gray.

“He lost the ball in the 50,000 white towels shaking in front of his face,” starting pitcher and would-be hero Adam Wainwright said. “It doesn’t seem really fair that an opposing team should be allowed to shake white towels when there’s a white baseball flying through the air. Dodger blue towels — how about that?”

Except that’s not how it happened. As Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Weisman points out — and as the video from MLB.com appears to show — the towels didn’t seem to be waving until after the drop. Indeed, the Dodgers fans were pretty bummed at that point because they were one out away from a loss and, until the exact moment of the error, assumed that out number three was in the air.  I know the natural reaction is to stand up for your teammate when things are tough, but Wainwright is plain wrong to blame the towels.

But even if they were waving, so what? It’s called home field advantage. If the Cardinals don’t want to deal with hostiles waving white towels, they should have won a couple of extra games in September and finished with a better record than L.A.

Thinking more about it, does anyone remember back in the mid-to-late 80s when NFL quarterbacks used to be able to step out from behind center and get an official time out if the crowd was too loud?  I have this image of Steve Fuller doing this, like, ten times in a row when he played for the Bears. QBs would even get the ref to warn the crowd to be quiet, and if they didn’t, the defense was assessed with a delay of game penalty. It was probably the stupidest rule to ever exist in professional sports.

Thankfully, football players put on their big boy pants and learned to deal and the rule was changed.  As a result homefield advantage meant something once again (at least until all the new sound-killing stadiums came online).  Baseball players should probably learn to suck it up and deal too.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.