Orioles interested in Japanese lefty Takahashi

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Last offseason the Orioles signed veteran Japanese starter Koji Uehara to a two-year, $10 million deal and now they’re reportedly interested in his former Yomiuri Giants teammate Hisanori Takahashi.
Baltimore also made a run at Kenshin Kawakami last winter before he ended up in Atlanta, so the Orioles are suddenly very active in pursuing Japanese players. Uehara spent most of the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury, but when healthy he posted a solid 4.05 ERA and 48/12 K/BB ratio in a dozen starts.
Uehara was once among the best pitchers in Japan, whereas Takahashi has been more of a mid-rotation guy. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker notes that Takahashi turns 36 years old in April and works with a fastball that rarely cracks 90 miles per hour, but also features “an excellent screwball” and was very effective this season with a 2.94 ERA and 121/36 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.
Takahashi has said previously that he wants to remain a starter, but Newman suggests that he “seems better suited for the bullpen” and could be “an effective reliever in the Hideki Okajima mold.” That would obviously be a best-case scenario given that Okajima has a 2.72 ERA in 192 innings for the Red Sox, but he’s shown that Japanese lefties with good, unconventional off-speed stuff can thrive in the majors despite high-80s fastballs.

Bartolo Colon Watching the Eclipse Is Your Moment of Zen

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A Solar Eclipse

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.