MLB changes mind, invites Dirk Nowitzki to throw first pitch

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UPDATE: MLB apparently changed its mind–or had its mind changed–and has now invited Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch at an as-yet-undecided game in Texas.

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Dirk Nowitzki threw out of the ceremonial first pitch at a Rangers game back in June and they wanted the Mavericks star to do so again when the World Series moves to Texas, but MLB said no.

Apparently all postseason first-pitch assignments much be cleared by the commissioner’s office beforehand. According to Marc Stein of ESPN Dallas the Rangers “nominated” Nowitzki for the honor and MLB “nixed” him.

As for why they would turn down a beloved Texas athlete, Stein writes:

At least some hesitation stems from the idea that MLB executives want to stand behind their basketball counterparts and have notified the Rangers that they can’t bestow first-pitch honors on an NBA player.

Of course, MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney denied those claims, saying:

MLB absolutely denies that any part in selecting the first ball pitcher had anything to do with the current labor situation in the NBA. You want the club’s input in what makes sense for them and then we talk about what makes sense for the team and a good broad-base national appeal.

Nowitzki is one of the best, most popular NBA players and the reigning Finals MVP, regular watches and attends Rangers games, and is obviously a tremendously popular athlete in Texas, so the explanation/excuse that he doesn’t have “a good broad-base national appeal” seems absurd. On a national level he’s almost surely more well-known than every player involved in the World Series except for Albert Pujols.

Oh, and there’s also this: First pitch honors for Game 2 in St. Louis tomorrow night will go to an Ohio man named Tim Wisecup who won the Pepsi Max “Field of Dreams” contest by entering in a code from a bottle cap and being selected in a random drawing. Seriously.

If only Nowitzki had been entering himself into contests sponsored by MLB advertisers rather than wasting time winning an NBA championship he might have had a chance.

Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell leaves BP session with possible injury

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This is not good: Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell cut short a bullpen session this morning and left the field with a trainer. Topkin says Honeywell was “clearly upset” as he made his way into the clubhouse and “cursed loudly a few times.”

Obviously you don’t want to assume the worst, but that’s often the behavior of a pitcher who experienced a serious injury. We will get updates later and will provide an update when we hear.

UPDATE:

Honeywell, probably the Rays’ top prospect, is slated to make his major league debut early this season, though possibly not for a few weeks into the season due to off days. Eventually, though, it is assumed he’d slot in someplace behind Chris Archer, Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Faria, and Blake Snell, either as a young-David Price-style swingman, a spot starter or a regular starter at some point.

Last year Honeywell posted a 3.49 ERA and 172/35 K/BB ratio in 136. innings in 26 starts between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.