“Baseball is a sport for red-blooded men, a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest”

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“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.”     — Ty Cobb

Cobb uttered those words over 80 years ago.

Tonight, during the final gasp of baseball’s 2011 regular season, we were given an astounding, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding and intoxicating verification of the quote’s utter and absolute truth.

Four teams entered the evening with a shot at postseason life. After two extra-innings contests, an hour-long rain delay in Baltimore, three separate blown save opportunities, and a whole host of failures and heroics in between, only the Rays and Cardinals popped champagne.

From Chris Carpenter’s two-hit shutout in Houston, to Evan Longoria’s two-homer night in Tampa Bay, the baseball gods were beaming. And at the same time tugging mercilessly on the heartstrings of Braves and Red Sox supporters, who witnessed their teams finish off historic tumbles to the wrong side of history.

What other sport can possibly demand that 2,430 games be completed before crowning all of its yearly postseason invitees? Baseball is cruel. Its schedule is an unrelenting beast. But we soak it up. We read, we write, we analyze, we yell, we scream. And we ask questions. So many damn questions.

Then the game gives back with a night like this, rendering our mouths and minds inconsequential. We’re all morons at baseball’s mercy. Throw out the numbers. Forget the payrolls. It’s on to October.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.