A.J. Pierzynski acted his way on to first base last night

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Pierzynski.jpgOK, I’ve finally had a chance to see the video of the A.J. Pierzynski hit-by-pitch. It’s here, and as you’ll see, he was so totally not hit by the pitch. It bounced in the dirt and then hit home plate umpire Tim McClelland, but it never touched Pierzynski, who flopped like a French soccer player. A brief argument ensued, Romero was apparently distracted and the next hitter — Alexis Rios — hit a two-run homer breaking up the no-hitter.

Totally weak on Pierzynski’s part. It’s one thing to have the ump award you a base when the ball doesn’t really hit you — if it happens you put your head down and get down to first before he changes his mind — but Piersynski’s Bette Davis act, complete with the limp and the hobble down the baseline, was pretty damn weak.

But then what do you expect from Pierzynski? This is a guy who spiked Justin Morneau. This is a guy whose own manager said “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate
him a little less.”  He’s not well-liked, and bush league theatrics like this are part of the reason.

Not that I’m complaining. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a big pro wrestling fan in the 1980s, and I think baseball needs more heels. Pierzynski is not a big enough star to pull that sort of thing off himself, but if someone huge like, oh, I dunno, Alex Rodriguez decided to become baseball’s version of Ric Flair I see no reason why Pierzynski couldn’t be its Tully Blanchard. Ozzie Guillen could be their J.J. Dillion. If they get a couple of guys to be Ole and Arn Anderson they could be baseball’s version of the Four Horsemen. They could start hitting baseball’s faces over the head with metal
chairs and everything.

And it’s not like he doesn’t have experience with this sort of thing.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.