Bacon-wrapped hot dogs, Erin Andrews and more All-Star fun


ANAHEIM, Calif. — I heard they were going to be serving hot dogs wrapped in bacon at the All-Star game in Anaheim, so naturally I had to go.

In addition to the bacon-wrapped goodness, they’ll have a sampling of foods from other MLB ballparks, including Crab Dogs from Baltimore, Blake Street Burritos from Denver (no Rocky Mountain oysters?), and pulled pork BBQ nachos from Houston.

But I’m not just here for the food, but to take in the sites and pass them on to you, the faithful HBT reader. First things first, the weather is gorgeous in Anaheim. The clouds/smog burned off around noon, leaving sunny weather in the low 70s with the hint of a breeze.

Taking in the Futures Game now, with much of the buzz surrounding Angels prospect (naturally) Mike Trout, an 18-year-old playing in the Class-A Midwest League. Another Angels minor leaguer, AAA catcher Hank Conger, blasted a 3-run homer in what has become a U.S, rout.

Random things seen/heard:

  • The Rangers sold 14,000 walk-up tickets for Cliff Lee’s debut on Saturday night. And even though they gave up a lot in the trade with the Mariners, the word is that they didn’t mind because their system is so deep. Also, I’m guessing they smell blood in the water with the Angels struggling.
  • Erin Andrews is more attractive in person. So is Peter Gammons.
  • The last All-Star game in Anaheim was in 1989, when Bo Jackson stole the show with a mammoth home run and ended up being named the game’s MVP.

But did you know that the only other All-Star game in Anaheim was in 1967, a 2-1 victory for the NL that lasted 15 innings. Catfish Hunter pitched 5(!) innings in relief and took the loss. Wonder what Bruce Bochy would do to Charlie Manuel is Manuel pitched Tim Lincecum five innings on Tuesday. Things have changed a bit, I guess.

  • More on Bo Jackson: He’s playing in the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game tonight, which will also include Mike Piazza, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, among others. The list of celebrities includes MC Hammer, Michael Clarke Duncan, and an actor named Marcus Giamatti, who is the son of Bart, and brother of Paul. Maybe Marisa Miller can save the show.
  • There are now approximately 80 players on the All-Star rosters due to injuries and withdrawals. Thank goodness this isn’t T-ball where everyone has to get a turn to bat.
  • Don’t forget to check out the big home run derby contest here, where you can win the right to be a big-time sports blogger for one whole post. It’s glamorous, trust us.

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Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

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 take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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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.

Qualifying offer for free agents set at $15.8 million

Jason Heyward
AP Photo
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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.