Tommy Hanson is in the best shape of his life

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The “Player X has added Y pounds of muscle” construction is closely related to the BSOML phenomenon.  Indeed, it is believed that that “muscle” and “shape” have similar roots in Indo-European etymology!*

Don’t let the overgrown offseason beard fool you. Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson has been working hard this offseason, taking advantage of some new resources available to him.

Hanson spent the winter in Southern California working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute with a team of trainers … Hanson said Monday morning on the first day of the Braves’ pre-spring pitching camp that he’s gained 10 pounds of muscle.

On a less cliche note, everyone talks about Boras being the big willy agent because the money he gets his players. And that’s clearly the best reason to hire him.  But the fact that he has the money and scale to operate a training  center and have a staff whose sole purpose is to cater to baseball players — and the fact that it’s located in beautiful Southern California — has to be a pretty big differentiator.

*May not be true.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

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.