This has been a month of rarities for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Last week he recorded zero strikeouts in a game for the first time in 181 starts and last night he was ejected from a game for the first time in his entire 10-year career.
Hernandez was actually already removed from the game by Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon when he got ejected. As he was leaving the mound following a mediocre outing–he allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings, but got tons of run support for an easy win–Hernandez yelled at home plate umpire Mark Ripperger over what he felt were bad ball/strike calls earlier in the final at-bat that ended with a three-run double.
When questioned afterward about what he said to the umpire, King Felix joked: “I was asking about the Miami Heat score. He didn’t even know.”
Also of note is that after managing zero strikeouts in his previous start Hernandez struck out seven batters last night, although he’s now allowed 11 runs on 24 hits in 18 innings so far this month. Most of those issues look batting average on ball in play-related though, because Hernandez hasn’t coughed up a homer in May yet.
Announcement: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
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.
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.