Yu Darvish is making it look easy in Houston.
The 26-year-old right-hander has retired the first 21 batters he’s faced, and will carry a perfect game into the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. He has his entire arsenal working against a weak Astros lineup — seriously, look at this slider — and boasts a career-high 12 strikeouts through seven frames.
Darvish is already up to 93 pitches and it’s his first outing of the 2013 regular season, so he might not be allowed to finish this thing off. But there isn’t a single pitcher stirring yet in the Texas bullpen.
We’ll provide regular updates as the night rolls on.
UPDATE, 10:39 p.m. ET: Darvish struck out Chris Carter swinging, Rick Ankiel looking and got Justin Maxwell to ground out in the eighth innings. He’s up to 14 strikeouts and 107 total pitches. Still perfect.
Darvish will face the bottom of the Astros’ order in the ninth inning. Texas leads Houston 7-0.
UPDATE, 10:58 p.m. ET: Darvish induced two groundouts in the ninth inning but then allowed a single up the middle to Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. Darvish was pulled right after — at 111 pitches.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.