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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.