The most remarkable thing about he Braves-Nats game last night was not
that Atlanta got to Stephen Strasburg a bit. It was not that the Nats’
defense melted down. It was not even that Tim Hudson quietly shut down
Washington. It was the tall guy with the white polo shirt.
Anyone who watched the game on TV knows who I’m talking about. It
was a fan sitting in the front row behind home plate, just to the left
of the left-hand batter’s box. Before most pitches by Strasburg he
would stand up with his arms out, or up or waving or whatever in an
attempt to distract him. After pitches by either pitcher — called
strikes by Strasburg and balls by Tim Hudson, mostly — he would stand
up with his hands on his head or his arms out in a “safe” motion or a
“c’mon, WTF?!” motion or some other random and distracting
gesticulation. He was quite a sight.
I wasn’t alone in noticing this: people all over Twitter were
commenting on it. One Nats fan told me that the Washington announcer
mentionined the guy, saying “You’re in a $300 seat.
Act like a man.” By the seventh inning he cooled it
a bit as someone apparently complained and an usher warned him, but he
didn’t stop completely.
We all get annoyed at the random cell phone
wavers, but this guy was a different kettle of fish entirely. I went
from annoyed to strangely trasnfixed at his dedication and back to
annoyed. Now I’m mostly just curious. I want to know who this guy is and what motivated him.
My guess is
that, due to where those seats are, he’s someone rich, glamorous and
important like, say, the son of TV weekend weather guy. Maybe a non-equity
partner at mid-range law firm using the managing partner’s tickets.
Possibly a big-wheel latex salesman. As for motivation: I’m guessing he
was either interested in distracting Strasburg, attracting lady-folk or
breaking the record for the most Bud Lights consumed on a Monday night
So, if you have any tips as to White Shirt Guy’s identity, please
pass them along to the HardballTalk i-Team (i.e. me) so I can try and
track him down for an interview or a feature story or something. I
promise I’ll be fair and let him tell his side of the story and
UPDATE: I’m apparently not the only one who noticed.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.