Albert Belle was widely reviled when he played. He committed all manner of bad acts on and off the field and he really, really pissed off reporters. When he retired, Bill Madden wrote this:
“Sorry, there’ll be no words of sympathy here for Albert Belle. He was a surly jerk before he got hurt and now he’s a hurt surly jerk….He was no credit to the game. Belle’s boorish behavior should be remembered by every member of the Baseball Writers’ Association when it comes time to consider him for the Hall of Fame.”
It was in 2001, well before Twitter and most blogs, so not many took Madden to task for it, but I’m glad to have found it. Makes me think of Belle in a totally different light. I mean, if he got Madden so bent out of shape that he openly admitted in print that writers should punish him in the Hall of Fame voting for not being nice to them, he can’t be all bad. Indeed, he should be honored!
Albert Belle will flex his muscles for the Indians one more time.
The club is honoring Belle, once the most menacing hitter in baseball, with a bobblehead night promotion on June 1 against Tampa Bay. The bobblehead of Belle is of him flexing his right arm and pointing at his biceps – the pose he famously struck in the 1995 playoffs against Boston. In that series, Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy asked the umpires to check Belle’s bat, believing it was corked.
I love it. Baseball needs to embrace the bad boys more. Maybe not when they’re active — Belle really was a menace at times — but once they’re old and aren’t doing harm anymore, there’s no harm in looking back at guys like Belle while sharing a somewhat relieved and uneasy chuckle about what they were like. Instead, it’s leaning more in favor of whitewashing history. A shame really.
Anyway: next bobblehead I want to see is Jason Grimsley crashing through the ceiling of the umpire’s locker room, trying to retrieve Belle’s corked bat.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.