David Eckstein isn’t even playing, but he still leads the league in “grit and desire”

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David Eckstein visited his brother, Washington pitching coach Rick Eckstein, before yesterday’s Nationals-Angels game and told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not officially retired despite turning down multiple offers from teams this offseason.

In fact, Eckstein revealed that he turned down an offer from an undisclosed team last month, although presumably it was for a minor-league contract.

According to Eckstein he decided not to play, instead spending the past few months working for his wife, actress Ashley Drane, but is fine physically and has not ruled out a return at age 36.

DiGiovanna noted that Eckstein “shrugged his shoulders” when asked if he would play again and then wrote the usual Eckstein cliches:

Much of David Eckstein’s value goes well beyond statistics–his grit and desire, his knowledge of and instincts for the game, his clubhouse leadership, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by advancing runners with ground-ball outs.

Grit and desire! Clubhouse leadership! Willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team!

Funny how the actual MLB teams don’t seem to have quite the same appreciation for that “value” as reporters do. Eckstein made just $850,000 in 2009 and $1 million last season, hitting .263 with a .652 OPS in 252 total games for the Padres. DiGiovanna says “it appeared several teams focused on Eckstein’s statistics, which are not overwhelming.” Imagine that.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.