Leaving Citi Field wasn’t a ton of fun for most fans last night. Just as the Home Run Derby was ending a fire broke out at the 103rd street station on the 7 train, stopping subway service back to the city.
While this stranded thousands, at least temporarily, we elite members of the media had nothing to fear, for there is a media shuttle bus. A few fellow scribes and I made our way to the bus, giving lip service to how dreadful it was for those poor, poor people stuck at Willets Point, but really thanking our lucky stars that we had an air conditioned bus waiting to ferry us back to Manhattan.
But they weren’t all poor, poor people. Some were resourceful. As we were getting on the bus several people wearing Mets and All-Star gear, some with kids, subtly inquired where the bus was going and, when they heard “Midtown,” just walked on board. The idea was clearly to make someone kick them off rather than ask if they could ride. No one was checking credentials.
Can’t lie: really loved this. Partially because I was near the front of the line getting on the bus and knew I had a seat. Partially because it presented the possibility that some member of the sporting press would get stuck on the sidewalk when the driver said the bus was full. I was hoping against hope that some seasoned columnist would be left shaking his fist at the driver, shouting “don’t you know who I am?!”
Alas it didn’t come to that. Much of the media was still back at the park writing stories. The bus left with four empty seats. My hopes of seeing something akin to the last helicopter leaving the American embassy in Saigon were dashed.
Still: it was kind of fun to see New Yorkers doing what they do best: pretty much what they want unless and until someone or something stopped them. It’s the only way to be in this city, I figure. Otherwise you’re probably going to be toast.
Heading up to Connecticut and the NBC Sports mothership this morning. Back at Citi Field for the All-Star Game this afternoon. Between now an then I’ll be making my escape contingency plans for tonight.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.