If you’ve kept up with the World Cup at all, you’re well aware of what a vuvuzela is by now. The plastic air horns blown by South African natives have now infiltrated the United States, and in the least likeliest of places.
The Marlins gave away 15,000 mini vuvuzelas on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium and encouraged fans to blare them throughout the Feesh’s interleague game against the Rays. It didn’t go over well with some people — namely the media attempting to craft stories about the game with constant buzzing fluttering around the park — but the fans in south Florida sure seemed to like the things.
MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro was in attendance, and says that Sun Life Stadium “vibrated loudly” after Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan homered in the fourth inning. Dan Uggla threw in earplugs at one point and first base umpire Ed Rapuano did the same.
The Marlins have averaged a major league-low 16,213 fans this season and yet still caused a ruckus. Imagine if vuvuzelas were distributed in Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium, where over 43,000 fans stream in on most nights. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.
Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.
This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.
Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.
Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.
A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.