Minor league team to allow dogs at every home game

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A lot of major and minor league teams have “Bark at the Park” days or some other branded promotion in which they allow fans to bring dogs to the game. They may happen one or two times a year. Maybe someone does it monthly. I have no idea.

I don’t believe, however, that any team has ever allowed dogs at the ballpark for every single game. But there is one now: the Indians affiliate in the Carolina League, the Lynchburg Hillcats. The announced a wide-ranging partnership with the local Humane Society. But it extends beyond fund raisers and banners:

Along with the partnership, City Stadium will become a dog-friendly ballpark throughout the 2017 season, meaning Hillcats fans can bring their canines to all home games.

“As far as I know, we will be the first 100-percent dog-friendly ballpark for an entire season,” said Jones. “Virtually every team holds a ‘Bark in the Park’ Day at this point, and they are extremely popular with fans. In past years, the Hillcats have hosted more than one of these in the same season, which caused us as a staff to ask why we couldn’t do it more. Expanding ‘Bark in the Park’ to every home game seemed like a fun way to help grow awareness and signify this partnership with the Lynchburg Humane Society.”

Good for the dogs. Dogs enjoy everything. You could take them to a bad opera and they’d thank you. You could take them to your tax audit and they’d be so excited they couldn’t stand it. As such, taking them someplace fun like a baseball game is a wonderful treat.

Still, I really wish Lynchburg would do a more name-appropriate thing and make every day a cat-friendly day at the ballpark.

[Craig looks around his living room and sees four cats destroying things, licking their butts and then looking up at him with sheer and utter disdain]

Hurm. On second thought, let’s just leave the ballpark for the dogs, OK?

 

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.