Buster Posey’s walkoff homer was pretty sweet. So too was MLB Network Greg Amsinger’s calling of it ahead of time. But even sweeter than that: Amsinger’s reaction to it as he watched it live in the studio, which is screencapped above and which you can see in motion at around the 1:50 mark of the video.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched a simulated game this morning. He tossed 49 pitches and, according to those who watched it, he utilized his entire repertoire of pitches, splitter included. His command was a bit rusty, but afterwards, the Yankees manager waxed optimistic:
Joe Girardi pleased with Tanaka’s outing and says he would return only as a starter and not in relief
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 28, 2014
Girardi says he’s optimistic that Tanaka will be able to return in Sept.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 28, 2014
At the moment the Yankees are six games behind the Orioles in the AL East but only two and a half back of the Mariners, who sit in the second wild card slot. Between them: the Tigers. So, yes, having Tanaka back would be a pretty big deal.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times has a piece about Albert Pujols. One which acknowledges the obvious — Pujols now is not what he used to be — but that he still has his value and his moments and how he’s still producing just fine for the first place Angels.
Pretty standard story for when a former all-world star ages and loses a step. And Pujols has a pretty standard retort to anyone who has the temerity to note that, no, it’s not 2008 anymore, unfortunately:
Age and mileage on his legs have, inevitably, dimmed Pujols’ brilliance. But he’s far from washed up, and said he learned to ignore critics who snipe from afar without all the facts.
“Those genius think that, why they don’t come and try and hit a ball? They’re sitting behind a desk or punching numbers in a computer or writing in the paper. That’s what their job is, to try and be negative towards the players,” he said. “But they don’t know that this game is tough. This game is not easy. You can be 100% and it’s not easy — imagine when you have injuries. At the end of my career, I will know what I have accomplished in this game. At the end of my career, then we can look back. If I can play the seven years I have left on my contract we’ll see where we’re at.”
Yeah, if only there was some objective standards — some metrics — by which one could see the decline in a baseball player’s performance and which would justify them making the innocuous and factual statement that he’s not quite as good as he once was. Sadly, no such thing exists and we’re all forced to shut up unless we actually go and face major league pitching.
This stance bugs the hell out of me. Mostly because when athletes say such things they’re railing against non-existent critics. No one with any sense or reason says that Pujols is a bad person because he can’t hit like he did when he was 27. No one thinks he’s particularly unusual in terms of his career arc and (relative) decline. To the extent his contract is criticized it’s not a personal thing — who wouldn’t take that money? — and criticism of it is leveled at the Angels for offering it, not for Pujols accepting it. Show me the “critics who snipe from afar” who say such things. Because I’m not sure who he’s talking about here.
[ RELATED: Is Pujols’ contract still worth it to the Angels? ]
More generally: we don’t live in a world in which only those who do a thing are capable of talking about that thing. No one who writes about music thinks they can play the guitar like a rock star, but they are certainly capable of talking about how a band isn’t as good as it once was. No one (well, no one with self-awareness) who writes about politics thinks they could lead a nation, but they are certainly capable of talking about a politician failing to fulfill his or her promises. And no one who writes about baseball thinks they can hit a major league fastball, but we’re certainly capable to noting when a hitter is in decline. And Albert Pujols is in decline.
If Pujols needs to compare himself to his critics in this fashion to motivate him, well, whatever works. But if he hopes to change any minds with such an approach voiced publicly, good luck.
I’ve been pretty out front in arguing that Bud Selig’s tenure as Commissioner of Baseball has been a successful one. At least (a) if you measure him by what his actual job is and not what you wish it was; and (b) if you measure him against his predecessors.
But even if you do that and even if, like me, you come to the conclusion that Selig has been a success, it’s not like success as Commissioner is the sort of thing that the masses are likely to celebrate. The Padres seem to have missed that:
On yet another sun-kissed day in paradise, the Padres honored Selig with a dedication ceremony of the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza at Petco Park, which sits behind the Western Metal Supply Building, next to 13 palm trees, waving gently in the breeze during the 20-minute ceremony . . . the area will serve as a home to the Padres Hall of Fame and eventually statues in the plaza to honor Padres greats as well as a plaque to honor Selig, not just for his overall achievements to baseball during his 22-year tenure as Commissioner but the specific accomplishment of helping to keep baseball afloat in San Diego.
The Padres, it seems, have the same disconnect regarding Selig that fans who think he’s awful do: they think he’s a leader of of people apart from 30 baseball owners. They’re treating him like a statesman or a political figure when, in fact, he’s the head of a board of directors. A CEO of a business. A business that, to be fair, a lot of us patronize, but which in terms of revenues is not all that far north of the Dollar Tree stores. I don’t think Bob Sasser, the CEO of Dollar Tree, Inc., is getting plazas named after him on the sidewalk out side any Dollar Tree outlets these days.
Just another example of the weird relationship between sports and the public. A relationship in which sports are treated like public institutions and their leaders are somehow considered something other than business people. The same thing that goes into making a public plaza honoring Bud Selig is what goes into governments and tax payers giving them money to build ballparks or courts immunizing them from the same laws every other business has to follow. This impulse has always baffled me.
Let us praise Bud Selig for the things he has done. And let him have his statue in Milwaukee because, after all, he did bring baseball to Milwaukee. But let us have perspective too. He’s an executive. He’s not an athlete people loved to watch like Tony Gwynn. He’s not a war hero like Ted Williams. He’s not a statesman like some mayor, president or governor. He’s an executive of a moderately-sized business. Nothing more. Why he gets a plaza in San Diego is beyond me.
Here’s an odd area of the new replay rules most of us hadn’t thought about: if and when the pitcher on the mound during the replay gets to throw warmup pitches following a replay review.
Most of the time the TV cameras aren’t focused on the pitcher during a review. They’re focused on the umps in headsets and the showing of replays of the play being reviewed. But apparently, some pitchers use that time to keep warm, as they don’t know how long the review may last. Some, however, wait it out and then throw a couple pitches after the review is over and before play resumes.
That’s what Indians starter Corey Kluber usually does, anyway. But last night he was denied. He didn’t much care for that. From Jordan Bastian at MLB.com:
The pitcher has been on the mound for a handful of replay reviews, including one that lasted a few minutes in the eighth inning of his Aug. 15 start against the Orioles. Given the unpredictability of the length of any given review, the pitcher has developed a routine in which he warms up after the conclusion of the delay . . . When Wednesday’s review wrapped up after a quick 48-second conference with the Replay Operations Center in New York, Kluber asked to throw a few warmup pitches. [umpire Rob] Drake informed the pitcher that he should have done that during the review. Kluber then checked with [Crew Chief Joe] West, but the pitcher was instructed to take the mound in order to resume the game.
Kluber didn’t much care for having to guess when he should throw. He said, in this case anyway, it didn’t much matter, but that not having a set rule about when pitchers can take warmup pitches is a problem to be addressed.
I don’t assume that a 48-second review like this one will create precedent, but at some point an extended review may cause a problem that MLB would do well to address.