Reason for the light schedule from me this morning: I spoke at a career day at a middle school. Check out that pic: that title is how the kids in that room knew I wasn’t Murray Chass.
Not gonna lie: it was kind of fun. I’ve long held that Jr. high school kids should be frozen in carbonite until they mature, but these kids — 7th and 8th graders mostly — were really good. And totally not impressed with people who write on the Internet for a living the way people over 30 are because the Internet has always been a thing for them, so where the hell else would you write? Indeed, the biggest jaw-drop I got the entire time: telling them that when I was in the 7th grade in the fall of 1985, we did not have the Internet. Heck, even the year 1985 seemed exotic to them.
Biggest laugh: telling them that I interviewed Tim Lincecum while he was wearing no pants. Indeed, 95% of the positive response I got from these kids involved naked ballplayers and the fact that I can do my job in my pajamas. I’m probably gonna get a call from the school board for all of that.
Nosiest questions: what do I make (I told them, but I’m not telling you) and whether I’ve ever been sued for anything I wrote (I told them “not yet”). One kid asked me “do you have to write things that are true?” I told them, yes, all of us in the media have to do that with the exception of Jon Heyman who has his own set of rules. I’ll probably get more calls from the school board for introducing the subject of Jon Heyman than I will for the pantsless Tim Lincecum stuff. Oh well.
Oh, and you guys came up too. There was an overhead projector hooked up to a laptop, so I pulled the blog up as I presented this morning. After quickly scrolling by the Brandon McCarthy “asshole” post — young eyes, you know — I pulled up the ATH thread to explain to them how I get feedback via comments. Note: Jr. high schoolers in central Ohio think you people have anger issues you need to work on. “Why do they care?” one kid asked. I don’t know son … I just don’t know …
Oh well, shaping young minds was fun. Almost as fun as ruining the presentation for the guy who followed me. He was a lawyer. Guessing my slagging on the legal profession for the first ten minutes of my thing made his pumping up the legal profession a little hard for him. But hey, all’s fair in love, war and Jr. High School career day.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.