Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks

HBT All-Star Game live blog

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UPDATE: Wilson gets Paul Konerko to ground out to end it. The National League wins 5-1. They will have home field advantage in the World Series for the second straight season. Thanks for hanging out, everyone. Stay tuned for a recap.

11:25 PM: Hey, did you guys know that Brian Wilson has a beard?

11:23 PM: Joel Hanrahan with some vintage Pirates’ action with that ugly throw backing up home plate. Brian Wilson coming on for the final two outs.

11:19 PM: Aw, we just witnessed Starlin Castro’s first error in an All-Star Game. Adorable.

11:18 PM: Hanrahan sets aside Michael Young, team player for the first out.

11:16 PM: So is the Arizona crowd rooting for Joel Hanrahan to give up four runs here so that Miguel Montero can get his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth?

11:13 PM: Gio Gonzalez does his job at Ron Washington’s LOOGY, striking out Jay Bruce looking. It’s 5-1 NL headed into the top of the ninth.

11:09 PM: Ron Washington using two starters (Alexi Ogando and Gio Gonzalez) here in the bottom of the eighth. How counterintuitive.

11:00 PM: Heath Bell really hamming it up here. I’m sure his agent appreciated the Todd Coffey-like sprint and eventual slide.

10:57 PM: That’s what this game needs. More Zooey Deschanel, please.

10:55 PM: Set up be an uncharacteristic passed ball by Matt Wieters, Brandon League gives up a ground-rule double to Pablo Sandoval that gives the NL a 5-1 lead. I told ya Kung-Fu Panda should have started this one!

10:49 PM: Hunter Pence is a darn good baseball player, but he always looks like a mess out there. All arms and legs.

10:48 PM: Michael Cuddyer in at first base for Miguel Cabrera, who apparently had stiffness in his side. Hopefully he’s not the latest victim in the “Year of the Oblique.”

10:41 PM: After walking Konerko, Craig Kimbrel gets Howie Kendrick to ground out to second base for the final out of the top of the seventh. It’s still 4-1 NL.

And here’s Michelle Branch to sing “God Bless America,” because only people from Arizona are allowed to sing in Arizona.

10:32 PM: And FOX predictably uses Kevin Youkilis as a promo for “Moneyball.” Not surprised, but this just doesn’t feel right.

10:30 PM: Jurrjens getting a second inning here. Interesting. And yes, another reliever (Brandon League) up for the AL. Which closer didn’t make the AL roster? Is Kevin Gregg pitching the eighth? These ridiculous pitching rules really need to change.

10:22 PM: Really cool stuff by Heath Bell. One of Omar Minaya’s greatest hits was sending him to San Diego with Royce Ring for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Who? Exactly.

10:16 PM: I want to give Ron Washington the benefit of the doubt in this game because of Josh Beckett’s knee, but then I remember that Ron Washington is in charge of the pitching staff.

10:09 PM: Andre Ethier knocks in Rickie Weeks to give the National league a 4-1 lead, cut down on the way to second base for the third out of the inning. Jair Jurrjens coming in for the National League in the top of the sixth. That’s right. A real, genuine starting pitcher. What a novel concept!

10:04 PM: Chris Perez up in the bullpen for the American League. Seriously? Another reliever? This is getting really silly.

10:00 PM: Scott Rolen just looked like he was in pain after being blown away on the strikeout. Probably his last at-bat of the evening, anyway.

9:56 PM: Jordan Walden in for the American League to start the bottom of the fifth. The way pitchers have been used in this game thus far, you’d think there is a severe shortage of starting pitchers in MLB.

9:54 PM: Joe Buck saying David Ortiz shouldn’t get rung up because it’s the All-Star Game. You mean we shouldn’t take this game seriously? It “counts,” doesn’t it? So conflicted.

9:49 PM: Hey Batting Stance Guy, somebody is stealing your schtick.

9:41 PM: Prince Fielder hits a three-run homer, Arizona now crowd cheering. No convictions. Pick a side, people.

9:38 PM: This conversation between Justin Timberlake and Mark Grace is awwwwkward. Don’t think Timberlake knows about Gracie’s recent DUI arrest. By the way, how many movies is this All-Star Game promoting? Losing count.

9:37 PM: Beltran reaches on an infield single. If only we had somebody to make a jump-throw. Oh, who am I kidding, Jeter would have never gloved that…

9:34 PM: Pence guns down Jose Bautista at the plate for the third and final out of the fourth. Would have been interesting if we had a collision there, huh? Alas, Bautista attempted a slide.

9:29 PM: Tyler Clippard’s kicks may be uglier than Cliff Lee’s. And that’s saying something.

9:26 PM: The American League is on the board. A solo homer by Adrian Gonzalez. That’s the first home run in an All-Star Game since 2008.

9:23 PM: Hunter Pence replaces Matt Holliday in left while Justin Upton replaces Lance Berkman in right field to begin the top of the fourth inning. Happy now, Arizona?

9:21 PM: Pineda was nasty, not surprisingly. Strikes out two in a scoreless inning. Pitching dominating early in the desert.

9:19 PM: It’s nice to see Scott Rolen and his .241 batting average start the All-Star Game. Anybody know the last guy to start an All-Star Game with a batting average that low?

9:15 PM: It’s Michael Pineda time, it’s Michael Pineda time!

9:12 PM: This is the part where many will ask, “Who the heck is Alex Avila?”

9:11 PM: Cliff Lee obviously stepped in some blue paint on the way to the mound tonight. Either that, or he’s a walking advertisement for the new “Smurfs” movie.

9:05 PM: Berkman had second base stolen on the strikeout, but came off the bag. Including the regular season, he’s now 0-for-4 on stolen base attempts. No score after two innings.

9:03 PM: And…Lance Berkman has our first hit of the evening.

9:01 PM: Jose Bautista doesn’t just hit home runs. An amazing catch in the right field corner. Good thing the Jays are using him at third base.

8:58 PM: Uh oh. Apparently Josh Beckett felt some soreness in his left knee while warming up, so David Robertson (!) will pitch the second inning.

8:56 PM: Adrian Beltre puts a charge in one, but makes the third out on a fly ball to the warning track in right. Halladay tosses two scoreless frames on 19 pitches. Cliff Lee will pitch the third for the NL squad.

8:55 PM: Jose Reyes hanging out with Shane Victorino in the NL dugout. Was also standing next to him in the player intros. As a Mets fan, this alarms me.

8:52 PM: Jose Bautista skies out on the first pitch. At this point, Roy Halladay should just say, “I got this, guys” and go all nine.

8:49 PM: Matt Kemp is our first baserunner of the night. And Prince Fielder is greeted with you guessed it, more boos. Hey Arizona, do you want the National League to win?

8:47 PM: Beltran tanking it in the All-Star Game to affect his trade value. #blamebeltran

8:44 PM: I’m pretty sure Brian Wilson is going to stash Carlos Beltran is in his beard.

8:41 PM: Adrian Gonzalez grounds out to complete a 1-2-3 top of the first. The Home Run Derby obviously messed up his swing.

8:39 PM: One pitch, one out. Curtis Granderson didn’t read Moneyball.

8:37 PM: Michael Cuddyer announcing the lineup for the American League. He’s versatile.

8:31 PM: This crowd quite enjoyed Jordin Sparks’ rendition of the National Anthem. But she’s from Arizona, so that makes sense. Anyhow, let’s play ball already!

8:24 PM: This Arizona crowd is still really giving it to Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. And well, everyone except Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and Kirk Gibson. They seem to like Josh Hamilton a little bit, too. Weird stuff.

8:19 PM: Win the Home Run Derby, bat eighth. Funny how that works.

8:17 PM: Gee, lots of Giants at this game. It’s almost like their manager is choosing…oh right.

8:13 PM: The player intros have always been my favorite part of the All-Star Game. Yankees always booed, pin drops for Aaron Crow.

8:11 PM: Joe Buck must have the Mets’ doctors looking after his vocal cords. Seriously, is he OK?

8:09 PM: Brad Pitt is narrating this opening montage. I wonder if he has a movie coming out soon…

8:07 PM: I think we should get a petition started banning Smash Mouth from All-Star competition.

8:00 PM: You might not realize this, but I was this close to being named an injury replacement for the National League All-Star team. Unfortunately I finished sixth on the player ballot for third base. Anyhow, since I won’t be attending the game, I figured a live blog would have to suffice.

Tune in right here for my random thoughts and observations throughout the evening. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section. I’m setting the over/under on complaints about Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at 37.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, which will be rendered meaningless by the second or third inning:

American League: Curtis Granderson (CF), Asdrubal Cabrera (SS), Adrian Gonzalez (1B), Jose Bautista (RF), Josh Hamilton (LF), Adrian Beltre (3B), David Ortiz (DH), Robinson Cano (2B), Alex Avila (C)

National League: Rickie Weeks (2B), Carlos Beltran (DH), Matt Kemp (CF), Prince Fielder (1B), Brian McCann (C), Lance Berkman (RF), Matt Holliday (LF), Troy Tulowitzki (SS), Scott Rolen (3B)

And your All-Star Game Starting Pitchers:

Roy Halladay (NL) vs. Jered Weaver (AL)

Since this one “counts,” my official prediction is that the National League will secure home field advantage in the World Series for a second straight year. I’m a National League guy, though, so I’d probably say that even if they were running the Padres’ starting lineup out there. Let’s go, Kevin Correia!

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.