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Mike Fiers suspended five games for throwing at Luis Valbuena

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On Wednesday night, Astros starter Mike Fiers took exception when Angels third baseman Luis Valbuna flipped his bat after hitting a home run in the first inning. Fiers threw a pitch over Valbuena’s head in the fourth inning, causing umpire Cory Blaser to issue warnings to both benches. After the game, Fiers said, “I took [the bat flip] as disrespect.”

Fiers has been suspended five games by Major League Baseball for his actions and fined an undisclosed amount, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Fiers is not appealing his suspension, McTaggart notes, so his suspension will begin tonight. A five-game suspension for a starting pitcher really amounts to a one-game suspension since they go four games in between starts. The Astros can just push his next scheduled start back one day.

Fiers, 32, isn’t having a great season anyway. He’s 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA and a 146/62 K/BB ratio in 153 1/3 innings.

As I wrote yesterday, Major League Baseball can’t say “there’s no right or wrong way to play,” then allow pitchers to throw baseballs at players’ head for purportedly playing “the wrong way” by giving them meaningless punishments. In a perfect world, Fiers’ punishment should give him incentive to never throw at a hitter’s head again.

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.