Kevin McClatchy threw out the first pitch in Pittsburgh yesterday? Huh.

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Everything I’ve read about former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy suggests that he is, to the extent we can know such things about the rich and powerful, a perfectly pleasant man who cares a lot about Pittsburgh and the Pirates. He’s also a good example for gay people who struggle with their decisions about coming out of the closet. Seems, from afar, like a pretty admirable guy.

But does anyone else besides me think it’s weird that he was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Cards-Pirates game at PNC Park yesterday?

He owned the team from 1996 through 2007, which is a period in Pirates history that makes the actual Dark Ages look like the height of Enlightenment-era Vienna. Those were some bad years for Pirates fans, and McClatchy was on watch then. They were also years in which McClatchy worked hard to get taxpayers to pay for PNC Park, amid threats, however veiled and unlikely they were, that the Pirates could leave Pittsburgh if the public didn’t pony up. Indeed, about 95% of what makes the 2013 Pirates season so wonderful are memories of just how horrifying 1996-through-2007 and a couple of years on either side were.

Yes, I realize a first pitch doesn’t make a lot of difference in the world. But would the Rays ask Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch? Would the Dodgers ask Frank McCourt to do the honors? Not saying McClatchy is a bad a guy like those two, but you’d think you’d want to do whatever you can to minimize negative associations.

Can someone call Bill Madlock or Kent Tukulve before today’s game?

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.