Dan Haren Getty

Dan Haren said yesterday was “one of the most anxious days” of his life

13 Comments

If you thought the drama involving Dan Haren yesterday was crazy from an outsider’s perspective, just imagine being the guy in the middle of it all.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com caught up with Haren late last night after the proposed deal with the Cubs fell through and the Angels bought out his $15.5 million option for 2013, making him a free agent.

Haren actually followed the proceedings via Twitter, which he admitted was pretty nerve-wracking given the constant conflicting reports throughout the night.

“I don’t even know what to think, really,” Haren said in a phone interview with MLB.com late Friday night, moments after his roller-coaster day was finally over. “This day has been one of the most anxious days of my life, definitely of my baseball career. I’ve been glued to my phone all day. I’ve tried to stay as busy as I could, but the fact of the matter is I was trying to keep up with what was going on.”

Once reports surfaced regarding the trade, Haren and his wife warmed to the idea of spending some time in Chicago. However, it wasn’t long before Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told him that the deal was off and that his option was being declined.

“I don’t know what went on on his end, but I knew he wasn’t going to make any quick decisions,” Haren said. “I had the feeling that it was going to go on throughout the day, and it definitely did. I knew the deadline was today. My agent was in town and we were kind of going through it together. Like I said, it was a very anxious day for me, for my wife, just not knowing where our next city would be. I thought for sure it would be somewhere else. I thought for sure I’d know today where I’d be playing next year, but that’s obviously not the case.”

Haren is interested in returning to the Angels and would do so at a discounted rate, but Dipoto said last night that the possibility isn’t all that likely. On the bright side, the 32-year-old right-hander got a $3.5 million buyout for his troubles and should fetch a multi-year deal as one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency, even coming off a down year.

Keeping Zack Greinke is expected to be the Angels’ No. 1 priority this offseason, even though Dipoto says that he isn’t “isolated” on signing him. It’s going to take big money to keep Greinke in the fold and he appears to have quite a bit of leverage with the Angels at the moment, as their projected rotation for 2013 currently includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards and Barry Enright.

Twins pitcher barfs before almost every appearance

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  Ryan O'Rourke #61 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after loading up the bases in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
5 Comments

Twins righty Ryan O'Rourke has pitched in 54 big league games. He has barfed before almost every one of them.

No, really:

Through his first 54 big-league outings over the last past two years, O’Rourke estimates he emptied the contents of his stomach close to every time.

“I don’t do it in the public’s eye,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I go in the bathroom, or sometimes it’s just on the back of the mound. But, yeah, it happens.”

I wonder if I’ve barfed 54 times in my entire life. I doubt I have. Then again, I’m not doing anything in front of tens of thousands of people with potentially millions of dollars at stake.

Yet he who is without sin hurl the first, um. Well, never mind.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Getty Images
21 Comments

Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.