Associated Press

Mike Fiers calls Luis Valbuena’s bat flip “disrespectful”

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Chapter eight gabillion in the unwritten rules wars unfolded last night during and after the Angels-Astros game. The subject: bat flips.

The Angels beat the tar out of Astros starter Mike Fiers, lighting him up for eight runs on ten hits in three and two-thirds innings. One of the big blows against him: a two-run homer from Luis Valbuena which put the Angels up 5-0 in the first inning. In response Valbuena — who played with Fiers in Houston last year — flipped his bat, as seen in the photo above.

Fiers obviously didn’t care much for that and, in the fourth inning, threw a pitch that went a few feet over Valbuena’s head and sailed to the backstop. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser immediately warned both benches. It was clearly intentional, of course. For his part, Valbuena wasn’t rattled, as he dug back in and hit a double. He’d eventually come around to score.

After the game, Fiers took issue with the flip, saying “I took it as disrespect.” Valbeuna’s response: “I enjoyed my home run. If they want to hit me, that’s OK. But if I hit another home run, you’ll see what happens.”

Fiers, by the way, has given up 57 homers in his last 57 starts over the past two season. He should be pretty used to this by now. Giving up dongs is such a part of his being that he should be like an Inuit who has 30 words for “snow” except he has 30 words for “bat flip.”

Anyway, here’s an idea, Fiers: if you don’t like guys flipping their bats after home runs, don’t give up home runs.

Sheldon Ocker named winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Sheldon Ocker the winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 29.

Ocker began covering the Indians for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1981 and did so until 2013, when he retired. He was national president of the BBWAA in 1985 and served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He named Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in 1997 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.