The Diamondbacks beat the Mets in a wild one

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If you have been out of the loop for the past few hours on this Fourth of July, you missed a wild one at Citi Field. Fending off a pair of dramatic comebacks, the Diamondbacks defeated the Mets 5-4 in 15 innings. It took five hours and 46 minutes to get a winner.

The game was tied 2-2 through nine innings behind solid performances by Ian Kennedy and Dillon Gee, but the Diamondbacks eventually took the lead in the 13th inning when David Aardsma walked Cody Ross with the bases loaded. Heath Bell then came on for the save chance, but after getting the first two outs, he gave up a game-tying solo home run to Anthony Recker. The Diamondbacks responded in the 14th inning with an RBI single by Martin Prado, but the Mets came back to tie it again on another solo home run, this time by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Yes, back-to-back innings with game-tying homers. Wild stuff.

The Diamondbacks moved ahead for good in the top of the 15th inning when Cliff Pennington singled off Scott Rice to bring home Gerardo Parra. The Mets had runners at second and third against Brad Ziegler in the bottom of the frame when Nieuwenhuis came up to the plate with two outs, but he didn’t have any heroics in store this time, as he grounded out harmlessly to first base to end it. It had to end sometime.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the last team to have two game-tying home runs in extra innings was the 1998 Cardinals. That’s not the only oddity about today’s game, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes that it helped secure the longest four-game series in MLB — in terms of time played — since the Dodgers and Astros in 1989.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.