Brandon Belt

Serious code violation: Brandon Belt sat in Matt Cain’s seat during the perfecto

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I don’t believe in almost any superstition. There may be an exception or two I’m forgetting, but most of it is hogwash and hoodoo for the feeble-minded. And spare me your Crash Davis “if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you *are*!” speech. Save it for someone who’s afraid to step on the foul line while walking out to the field.

But even if I don’t believe in the superstitions themselves, I do believe that such things can become accepted enough practices among a sufficient number of people that you should at least respect the beliefs of others, however misguided they may be in provenance. It’s not a matter of thinking that their violation will cause some great harm. Rather, it’s a matter of just being cool to someone and not violating a social code. I’ll note this is how I view religion too, which is why you’ll never hear me getting up in someone’s grill about what they believe as long as it’s not harming me or anyone else.

The point of all of this: if I was pitching a perfect game — in San Francisco, say — I don’t think I’d make a point to sit in the same spot in the dugout after each inning or not talk to anyone of whatever else it is that pitchers in such a situation do. It has no effect on how I’m pitching. The key would be to make sure I didn’t lose my concentration or mojo or whatever it was, and I don’t think I’d tie that to those sorts of things.

I would, however, if I were a position player on a team in which a pitcher was doing such things, make sure not to step on whatever it is he’s doing. It’s something that Brandon Belt didn’t do last night, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea reports:

With Matt Cain closing in on the 22nd perfect game in major league history, and the first in the Giants’ 129 years as a franchise, Belt sat down in the dugout after the seventh inning to take a deep breath.

“I sat down and Cainer just stopped and stared at me,” said Belt, whose eyes grew wide with panic. “Yeah, I guess everything was OK until I sat in his seat.”

Can you imagine the perfect game was lost right after that? Belt would probably want to go find a hole someplace in which to die.  And it would suck for all of us Belt fanboys too, because the dude is just now starting to get some regular playing time, and I would bet that the ruckus all of that would cause would be enough for Bruce Bochy to exile him to Fresno or San Jose or points even farther away.

Video: Nomar Mazara crushes a 491-foot home run

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 27:  Nomar Mazara #30 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 27, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Rangers rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara crushed the longest home run of the season to date, according to Statcast, with a 491-foot shot to the upper deck in right field against the Angels on Wednesday afternoon. With the bases empty and no outs in the second inning, Angels lefty Hector Santiago threw a 1-1 off-speed pitch, which did not fool Mazara in the slightest.

Statcast measured it at 491 feet. Giancarlo Stanton previously had the longest home run at 475 feet off of Hector Neris on May 6. Franklin Gutierrez hit a 491-foot shot on Saturday against Reds pitcher John Lamb.

Mazara entered the afternoon hitting a terrific .317/.364/.483 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 162 plate appearances.

Blue Jays activate Devon Travis from the disabled list

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 22: Devon Travis #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates scoring a run in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on July 22, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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The Blue Jays announced on Wednesday afternoon that the club has activated second baseman Devon Travis from the disabled list. To create roster space, ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.

Travis, 25, last played on July 28 last year. He battled a shoulder injury for which he would undergo season-ending surgery. He burst onto the scene as a productive rookie, batting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances before being sidelined.

Thus far, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney have handled second base for the most part for the Jays. But the club has gotten a meager .585 OPS out of the position, the lowest mark in the league. The return of Travis should be quite a boon. He is batting eighth in Wednesday night’s lineup against the Yankees.

Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the proposed strike zone changes

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09:  Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”

Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.

I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.

As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.

 

 

Report: Jonny Gomes has retired

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Jonny Gomes of the Kansas City Royals looks on before Game Two of the 2015 World Series between the Royals and the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium on October 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.

Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.

Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.