Could Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young for the wrong reasons?

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I’ve written more stuff about the American League Cy Young Award race than I ever wanted to, but the arguments keep going on, and I’m nothing if not a guy who likes to argue, so . . .

The latest incarnation is not about the award itself. It’s about the debates about the award (set phasers for “meta!”). Check out Tom Verducci’s awards column yesterday in Sports Illustrated in which he said:

Hernandez
will win this award fairly comfortably, a measurement of not only how
wins are better understood but also how fast and wide groupthink travels
these days.

To be clear: Verducci himself supports Hernandez, as he thinks he was the most outstanding pitcher. But he’s saying that many other voters who vote for Hernandez will be doing so — not because, like him, they decide he was the best pitcher — but because they’re easily manipulated people who were either tricked or brainwashed or browbeaten or shamed into doing so. 

I know a lot of you tire of the scouts vs. stats debates, but at least this is new wrinkle: Screw both the Sabtahia backers and the Hernandez backers! Only Tom Verducci and a few brave, like-minded men see things clearly here! You’re either wrong or are doing the right thing because you’re sheeple!

I hope Verducci is wrong about the groupthink thing. Because, really, I’d hate it if members of the BBWAA are so spineless that they can be forced into going against their own instincts simply because some statheads make fun of them. I disagree with the Sabathia/Price backers, but I’d hope they wouldn’t back down because they are worried about being ridiculed or something. Take your position and stand up for it, for God’s sake.

But I really hope he’s wrong because Verducci’s whole “I’m doing the right thing for the right reasons, but many will do the right thing for the wrong reasons” brand of commentary is kind of obnoxious. It’s certainly way worse than the whole “I’m right, you’re wrong, nyah nyah!” thing everyone has been complaining about.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.