1932 poster

Comment of the Day: We live for baseball gossip!

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My half-baked “Metafans” idea from this morning is being better received than I thought it would.  I knew I should have (a) put it in a book proposal; (b) cashed an advance check; and (c) never written the book and than changed my identity.  Way easier than working for a living, ya know? Because, as everyone knows, books about esoteric baseball-related subjects bring forth tremendous advances.  I’d ask Rob Neyer about it, but he’s too busy swimming in piles of book cash to listen.

Anyway, I’ve received a couple of comments like this one from reader nyetjones:

[W]hat you call meta-fandom seems also integral to fandom itself. Maybe not the world series posters, baseball cards and strat-o-matic playing, but certainly things outside the game itself – e.g. DUI stories, contract disputes, hall-of-fame arguments – imbue the sport with meaning. I think the game in abstract, absent these external stories, would be way less enjoyable for a lot of people.

If you pay attention, it’s amazing how much of the coverage of sports could be construed as so much sewing circle gossip. It gets dressed in terms of “distractions” or “affecting team chemistry,” but ultimately it seems to point to a required interest in the players-as-people and not just baseball machines. How much of the commentary about Milton Bradley is strictly worried with how much his off-field troubles affect the games in which he plays, and how much is just a buzzing, tantalizing tale that gives him sone humanity, however flawed?

I think it’s a lot of the latter, and we’re not always that aware of it and/or willing to admit it.

I can tell you, based on the traffic numbers for this site and others for which I’ve written, the stuff surrounding the game is just as much if not more popular than the actual baseball content.  It’s not a representative sample, no, because people who read HBT are here willingly and presumably like the stuff we write about anyway.  But there are enough of you to convince me that — yeah — people are interested in the sewing circle stuff too.

Inded, it’s why I’ve always laughed when a commenter tries to insult me by calling me a gossip columnist. I don’t deny it for a second.  We just happen to disagree on the value of gossip, that’s all.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.