Colby Lewis succeeds because of family, not despite it

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Craig has been all over the Richie Whitt-Colby Lewis story, rightly pointing out the absurdity of the whole thing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this story, the writer (Whitt) thinks that the Rangers pitcher (Lewis) should be ashamed of himself for missing a start to witness the birth of his child because …

(a) It’s Lewis’ second child, making it somehow less important.

(b) And Lewis for some reason owes the fans and his team more than he does his family.

I agree with everything Craig has written on the topic, but would also like to add a bit of insight I gained by sitting down with Lewis for an interview at spring training. I spoke to Lewis as part of a feature package I wrote on the difficulties of making it to the majors. Lewis talked at length of his own journey, including the injuries he endured along the way, and his two-year detour to professional baseball in Japan.

During our talk, he frequently sprinkled in references to his family, some of which did not make it into my story. He mentioned how in the spring of 2007, the Washington Nationals released him on the day his son was born. He said that was a blessing, however, because Oakland signed him a few days later and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento, near his Bakersfield, Calif. home.

He also spoke about how lucky he was that his wife, Jenny, and son could accompany him to Japan, and how important it has been to have her support. And Lewis said this about how much family means to him:

“(It changes things) when you have a baby you have to support now. It’s something that clicked for me and took over my life. It’s a blessing. It kept me a lot more focused on the task of what I wanted to do.”

Richie Whitt says he doesn’t care if Lewis is a good dad, he just wants him to be a good pitcher. But those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Lewis not only understands that, he claims that having a family made him a better pitcher and made him happier.

That’s what should matter most.

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Carlos Gomez questions Collin McHugh’s manhood after benches-clearing incident on Monday

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Tempers flared between the Astros and Rangers on Monday in Arlington. In the bottom of the second inning, Astros starter Collin McHugh threw a first-pitch fastball inside to Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez. Gomez didn’t like it, so he stared at McHugh for a few seconds. Gomez fouled off the next pitch and jawed at McHugh before taking a few steps towards the mound. McHugh came in and the benches emptied. Fortunately, order was quickly restored and both teams were issued warnings.

The Astros and Rangers had a benches-clearing incident earlier this season as well. In a game in Houston on May 1, Astros starter Lance McCullers threw inside to Mike Napoli, which caused the benches to spill out onto the field. McHugh also hit Gomez with a first pitch fastball in the second inning on August 31 and Mike Fiers did the same in the second inning on August 12. As a result, Gomez thinks the Astros have it out for him. Via Levi Weaver of WFAA Sports:

Gomez referenced manhood a couple different times, saying, “I’m a man and I’m responsible.” Referring to McHugh, Gomez said, “he’s not man enough to tell me [that he’s going to hit me] face-to-face.” He continued, “So if you’re a real man, you tell me to my face, not send me a message.”

Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and Sam Butler, McHugh said after the game:

The second pitch, he took a big swing and fouled it off and took about five steps out toward the mound, looking me straight in the eye. I just asked him if we had a problem. It was a rhetorical question because, clearly, he’s got a problem with me. I don’t exactly know what it is, but whatever the case, he came out and I asked him what the issue was and he said, ‘Yeah, I got a problem with you.’ That was it. Everybody else was out there by that point in time. The game goes on. I don’t want to spend any more mental effort thinking about Carlos Gomez.

The series resumes on Tuesday night as Dallas Keuchel will oppose Cole Hamels. It will be interesting to see if the drama bleeds over into this one.

Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the nachos guy from yesterday’s game

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In the bottom of the second inning of Monday night’s game at Busch Stadium, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell dove into the stands down the left field line in an attempt to catch a foul ball. A Cardinals fan holding a tray of nachos was in Russell’s path and had his tasty treat knocked onto the dirt in front of the stands. Russell did the fan a solid, though, bringing him a new tray of nachos and posed for a selfie. The fan was also later seen taking selfies with other fans.

That peeved Cubs starter Jon Lester, who started Monday’s game. Via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Great effort,” pitcher Jon Lester said. “But I don’t understand the other stuff.

“A guy fell into him and got nacho cheese on his arm and now he’s taking pictures and signing autographs. It shows you where our society’s at right now with all that stuff.”

It wasn’t like Lester had a poor outing and that’s why he was salty. The lefty yielded just one run on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts over six innings. Lester just, uh, hates selfies, I guess? I’m also not sure how the whole scenario is a reflection of American society, unless he means that people can turn a disappointing situation into a fun and heartwarming situation.

At least Russell and Cubs manager Joe Maddon had a good sense of humor about it. Maddon said the whole thing was “pretty entertaining.” Russell said, “You don’t get between a man and his nachos.”