What's with the Adrian Beltre head rub thing?


I realize this is over a week old and that Sox fans were all over it, but it completely eluded my radar, so it likely eluded the radar of others as well:

After Adrian Beltre clubbed a home run in Friday night’s game,
television cameras caught him in the dugout taking what looked like a
serious swing at catcher Victor Martinez. Turns out, he was taking a swing, and there was a perfectly good
explanation – if you’re someone who doesn’t like having their head

Martinez and Beltre are friends, but in the home run celebration,
Martinez touched the top of Beltre’s head — and the third baseman said
that’s something his fellow players know he absolutely hates. Beltre
reacted immediately, lashing out at Martinez.

The two were smiling throughout, but Beltre definitely put some force
behind his good-natured swing at Martinez.

“He knows I don’t like that. I don’t like anybody to touch my head,
and he knows it. He does it on purpose. So I’m not responsible for
everything that happens after that happens,” Beltre said.

Doesn’t saying something like this basically guarantee you a lifetime of head rubbing? It’s the equivalent of “psycho” from “Stripes” telling the platoon that he doesn’t like being called Francis.

Anyway, this would be a lot more interesting, I think, if the Sox were still struggling. Someone could legitimately get cold-cocked.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.