Bob Sheppard, The Voice of God: 1910-2010

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Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that longtime Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away this morning at his home in New York.  He was 99.

No matter your team affiliation, it’s easy to recognize greatness.  And Sheppard was great, in every sense of the word.  A great person, a great personality, and, boy, what a voice.  As Peter Gammons notes, Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski once said:

“You’re not in the big leagues until Bob Sheppard announces your name.”

Sheppard officially retired from his post as the Yanks’ PA announcer in 2007, but his voice still resonates through the new Yankee Stadium and on the YES Network’s broadcasts.  In fact, shortstop Derek Jeter is still introduced by a voice recording of Sheppard to this day.  Sheppard took part in over 4,500 major league games in his 56-year career and Yankees legend Reggie Jackson famously dubbed him “The Voice of God.”

Sheppard will forever remain a part of the Yankees’ history and steps have been taken to maintain his legend far into the future.  This tribute video, run on “Bob Sheppard Day” in May of 2000, basically sums up the way he was embraced by athletes, managers and fans alike:

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”