Ex-Astros pitcher Brandon Backe says police brutality ended his career

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I had totally forgotten about Brandon Backe, the Astros pitcher from the mid-to-late 2000s. He hasn’t pitched since 2009 and this story in the Houston Chronicle tells us that, in his view, it’s because of a beating he received at the hands of police officers in October of 2008.

Backe took the stand in the trial of his civil suit he and 11 other plaintiffs have brought against 30 Galveston, Texas police officers arising out of the incident which took place at a friend’s wedding. Backe alleges that he was thrown to the ground, beaten, bloodied and kicked and ended up with a severe shoulder injury that derailed his pitching career.

That this has reached trial means that there is evidence in his favor (if there was not it would have been dismissed via summary judgment prior to trial).That he is a pitcher, however, means that the defense likely has several ways to show that his baseball career was harmed by pitching injuries, not the beating. Given how little we know about how pitching injuries happen, why and how they might be prevented, it’s definitely going to be an interesting question for the jury.

But if the jury finds that the police did use excessive force and caused career-ending injuries to Backe, the damages could range in the tens of millions given what a pitcher of his stature could have stood to make.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”