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Clayton Kershaw ejected in the middle of a one-hitter

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Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was ejected from Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks for hitting Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra with a pitch in the top of the sixth inning.

Some backstory to this one: The plunking came nearly 24 hours after Parra struck a pose and exchanged words with Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis following a seventh-inning home run Tuesday night. Parra was nearly struck in the head by a pitch just before he went yard, and he yucked it up all the way to home plate. Kershaw was shown by television cameras jawing at the D’Backs bench soon after, and a yelling match ensued for a minute or two. The umps obviously took notice.

Kershaw had allowed just one hit through five scoreless frames on Wednesday night against the first-place Snakes. He was at five strikeouts and had issued no walks. The 23-year-old ace was shutting down a first-place club in the middle of a Cy Young chase, and in front of his own fans in Los Angeles.

Which is why home plate umpire Tim Welke is now baseball’s enemy No. 1. If, you know, we’re basing that ranking on Twitter outrage. (Seriously, click here. Even the level-headed Joe Sheehan is fired up).

Welke didn’t issue a warning. Not before the game, and not after Kershaw struck Parra — instead opting for the immediate toss. Also, the pitch wasn’t all that inside. It barely grazed Parra’s elbow.

Kershaw put himself in a bad spot with Welke and crew for arguing cross-field on Tuesday night with half of the D’Backs roster, but Welke could have done a more thorough job of considering the circumstances.

It’s sadly almost unprecedented, but some discipline for the ump (this time) would seem to be in order.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.