Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox

Bobby Valentine rips the umps after yesterday’s loss

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The Red Sox got swept by the Nats over the weekend, which likely put Bobby Valentine in a bad mood. Making it worse: the umpiring. And Valentine used yesterday’s postgame presser to rip the men in blue.

He was particularly mad at what he — and everyone who watched it, PitchFx included — thought should have been strike three to Roger Bernadina, just prior to his hitting the game-winning double that scored Bryce Harper in the ninth. Here’s Valentine after the game:

“Alfredo struck the guy out on a pitch that the whole ball is on the plate, and [Umpire Al Porter] calls it a ball.”
Valentine got more angry in the bottom of the ninth when the 1-1 pitch to Dustin Pedroia was called a strike when it was clearly outside.  That got Valentine out of the dugout and a one-way ticket to ejectionville.  But it wasn’t just those two pitches that had him fuming:

“Good umpires had a real bad series . . . a real bad series,” said a grim, tight-lipped Valentine — attempting unsuccessfully to hide his anger — in his postgame press conference. “It went one way (for the Nationals and against the Red Sox). There should be a review … The game is simple: Throw it over the plate, call it a strike. Don’t throw it over the plate, call it a ball.” said Valentine. “It’s simple. That’s all. That’s all anybody asks. I know it’s been going on for 100 years. I’m not the first one to say it. But this was a pretty lousy series … You’ve got guys busting their butts, battling their butts off, and it’s not right.”

Now, if I had to guess, Valentine will get a one-way ticket to fineville. Or perhaps it’s a roundtrip ticket. And it’s possible he could use Rewards points to purchase it. It’s all so complicated these days.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.