Strange rumblings in Los Angeles

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I got off an airplane about a half hour ago after taking a red eye flight back to Ohio from Los Angeles, where I spent the weekend. Because I don’t sleep well on airplanes, today is going to be … something less than lucid.

Anyway, the purpose of my trip was not baseball, but I had a couple of baseball observations I’ll share simply because reading more about Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki seems daunting on as little sleep as I am operating:

I was in a drinking establishment taking my refreshment one evening and the bartender, noting my baseball cap, began to discuss baseball with me. He is a native of L.A. and a life-long Dodgers fan, so I asked him what he felt about Magic Johnson and all of that.  He was happy about it, of course, but he said it was no big deal.

“How do you mean?” I said. “Seems like a big deal to me.”

“Ah, they were going to be OK anyway,” he said.

“You think so?”

“Sure,” he said. “They’re the Dodgers.”

In that I think there is some essential essence of fandom that I don’t think about very often. It’s not … rational.  And that’s probably good for most franchises, frankly.

The second baseball observation of the weekend came when I was driving around, and it involved billboards. I noticed one of those “El Hombre” billboards with Albert Pujols on it. I thought those were taken down because Pujols hated them, but I guess not.

I also noticed way more Dodgers billboards then I ever remember seeing. They were cool, with pictures of old Dodgers sort of morphing into current ones.  Think Maury Wills-to-Davey Lopes-to-Dee-Gordon. There was one with sluggers too, resulting in Matt Kemp but I didn’t see who the other guys were because I was driving and driving in Los Angeles terrifies me.

Finally: I didn’t win the Mega Millions on Friday night, but know that if I did (a) I’d still keep blogging here because it’s fun; but (b) I’d probably be doing it from a house on a beach not unlike this one I was gawking at yesterday. When you get a chance, someone remind why I live in Ohio again.

Angel Hernandez made a great call on a tough play

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Fans, and even some writers, tend to jump on umpires when they make bad calls, but rarely if ever point out when they make good calls on tough plays. Angel Hernandez is one of those umpires who gets a lot of flack — and I may suggest even deservedly so — but in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, he made a great call on a very tough play during Thursday afternoon’s game between the Phillies and Marlins.

With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Phillies leading 2-1, first baseman Brock Stassi laced an Edison Volquez pitch down the first base line. Michael Saunders, who was on first base, came around third base and attempted to score. The relay throw from second baseman Dee Gordon beat Saunders, but Saunders slid expertly to the back of home plate, avoiding the tag from catcher J.T. Realmuto just long enough to slip his hand in and touch the plate. Hernandez ruled Stassi safe with no hesitation because he was in a great position to get a look at the play. In real time, it was a bang-bang play. The Marlins didn’t challenge the call.

The MLB.com video doesn’t have the best angle, but still shows what a close call it was in real time. This .gif from Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal provides the best angle:

Hernandez also made this nonchalant grab when catcher Andrew Knapp tossed it attempting to catch a foul pop-up:

Yoenis Cespedes leaves game with pulled hamstring

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The Mets and Braves are playing today and it’s not a great day for the Mets in the injury department.

First they scratched Noah Syndergaard with a “tired arm.” Now they’ve lost Yoenis Cespedes, who pulled up limping at second base following a double in the bottom of the fourth:

The team has announced that he has pulled his left hamstring.

Cespedes, of course, missed three games over the weekend due to hamstring issues. That was merely tightness, however, and following an off day and a rainout, Cespedes played last night without incident. But it now looks as though he’s going to miss some serious time.