Jayson Stark has created a minor empire focusing on the small stuff. I don’t mean that negatively. His general reporting is fine work, but his signature is picking out the weird and obscure stats and other assorted baseball minutiae. Sometimes his trivia leads us astray — we really don’t need to know who the six players are who have had led the league in HBP, EQA and ingrown hairs since the color line was broken in order to understand what’s going on in baseball — but it’s almost always a fun ride anyway.
Take today’s column: the Most Creative Contract Clauses of the Offseason. The weirdest of them all is that Chien-Ming Wang gets a bonus for winning a Silver Slugger Award. This being the same guy who had his career derailed after a mishap running the bases. I’m guessing there is some confront-your-nemesis mojo working there, though, so we’ll give it a pass.
Other fun contract clauses belong to Jayson Werth, Derek Jeter and about a half a dozen guys on the Pirates who have the contract clauses that are most likely to never be exercised. You gotta click through and read the column for the details.
If I were a ballplayer I don’t think I’d insist on weird contract clauses per se. I think I’d focus on riders. You know, the deals in which musicians insist on specific colors of furniture in dressing rooms they’ll use for an hour and the specific brand of bottled water they’ll have waiting for them when they come off stage? Yeah, I’d total have one of those.
My rider would probably be simple — local beer at every ballpark except St. Louis, nice cold cuts and a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed — but I would insist on it being fulfilled with all legal options available at my disposal.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.