Tag: Bobby Abreu

Tigers celebrate

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


source: AP

Tigers 3, Twins 0: Ian Kinsler drove in two, David Price turned in a fantastic performance and the bullpen didn’t betray the Tigers in their division-clinching win. It’s their fourth straight AL Central crown. While the story of this Tigers era will likely one day be told in such a way that had them owning the division, it’s worth noting that they’d gone down to the wire fending off pesky teams each year.

Nationals 1, Marlins 0: Best part of this no hitter: the catch that saved it, probably. But also underrated is that the game was so close and Jordan Zimmermann almost had to twirl it in order to win. If Steven Souza doesn’t make that grab there’s a runner in scoring position in a one run game. Anyway, given that the Nats-Marlins game I attended this past weekend was a 15-7 affair played by bench guys and scrubs, I think it’s safe to say I purchased tickets to the wrong contest.

Athletics 4, Rangers 0: The A’s clinch the last AL playoff spot on the last day of the season which, given where they were in the middle of the season, is not exactly what they wanted. But now the slate is wiped clean and if they win one road game against the Royals it’s all reset, right? Sonny Gray with the six-hit shutout. Against a Texas team that, being charitable, was not exactly filled with top-flight talent yesterday. That probably angered the Mariners to some degree. But that’s often how it goes in September.

Royals 6, White Sox 4: Kansas City falls a game short of the AL Central title thanks to the Tigers’ win. Nice year for the Royals of course, but it is rather amazing how many times the Tigers more or less invited the Royals to take the division from them with the Royals basically declining the offer. The final game for Paul Konerko. He didn’t play the whole game and didn’t get a hit, but he made a nice gesture in writing his family’s name in the infield dirt at first base.

Indians 7, Rays 2  T.J. House beat Alex Cobb in what I assume was the first matchup in major league history between pitchers whose last names are also names of salads.Zach Walters and Carlos Santana each drove in two.  It was a coulda been season for Cleveland. Given the inconsistent play they had for so much of the year it’s amazing they even made it to the last week of the season with a shot at the playoffs, but ultimately it had to be considered a disappointment.

Cubs 5, Brewers 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2 for 3 with a homer. This will be an interesting offseason for the Cubs, who are likely to bid on a starter in free agency. And, if things go just right, could be an interesting and possibly competitive team next season.

Braves 2, Phillies 1: The end mercifully comes for both teams’ dismal 2014 seasons. The Braves got both of their runs in the first and then went into hibernation mode. Cole Hamels pitched well and had one of the more deceivingly good years from a starter you’re likely to see: 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA. Imagine what he would’ve done on a team with some offense.

Mets 8, Astros 3: Jose Altuve played after all — they were going to hold him out to protect his lead over Victor Martinez for the batting title before thinking better of it — and he rapped two hits to actually raise that average and clinch the crown. Lucas Duda homered and drove in four. It was Bobby Abreu’s last game. The Mets actually ended up tied with the Braves for second in the NL East.

Yankees 9, Red Sox 5: Jeter’s last game in Yankee Stadium was more memorable, but he ended his last game overall in style too, hitting an RBI single in his final plate appearance.

Reds 4, Pirates 1: Pittsburgh’s loss hands the Cardinals the division. Still a nice season for Pittsburgh. Johnny Cueto notched his 20th win and also singled in the go-ahead run.

Orioles 1, Blue Jays 0: Jonathan Schoop homered and six O’s pitchers combine to shut out Toronto. They now face the Tigers in the ALDS.

Cardinals 1, Diamondbacks 0: St. Louis tossed a bullpen committee at Arizona given that they clinched the division before the game started with the Pirates’ loss. Given the foregone conclusion of the season and what had to have been an insanely strong desire by the Dbacks players to get the heck home after a nightmare year, this was a game played at quarter speed. If that.

Dodgers 10, Rockies 5: If you believe in that whole “peak at the right time” thing (I don’t, but whatever) than the Dodgers are peaking at the right time. Sixteen hits for the boys in blue, led by Adrian Gonzalez’s three-run homer and Matt Kemp’s two-run blast.

Giants 9, Padres 3: Homers from Buster Posey and Adam Duvall. A post-game speech from Hunter Pence to the fans. This one had 100% fewer F-bombs in it, though, so that was good.

Mariners 4, Angels 1: The A’s win ended the M’s season just shy of the prize. On the one hand, congrats to them for such a surprisingly competitive year. On the other, man, they skidded late and had all kinds of chances to take control in the wild card race but just didn’t. That’s gotta be an especially weird king of stinging feeling.

Also an especially weird feeling: the last And That Happened of the year. For reasons I’ve said before and that I’ll likely put again in a post this week, the end of the regular season is always sad for me. The playoffs are what they are and they will consume all of the oxygen for the next month, but really, what I love about baseball is the day-to-day of the regular season and there’s something missing in October with that comforting, lower-level intensity absent. Having the space and time to chronicle the unimportant along with the moderately important things of the 162-game flow is why I like writing ATH, and that’s gone now. It always makes me feel a bit of a loss. Oh well.

Thanks for reading each morning, everyone. This feature will see you again in April.

Bobby Abreu singles in final at-bat, exits to a standing ovation

Bobby Abreu

Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko weren’t the only ones taking their final cuts in the batter’s box on Sunday afternoon. Mets reserve outfielder Bobby Abreu announced on Friday that he would be retiring at season’s end and ended his career on a high note.

Abreu was 0-for-1 with a walk when he stepped to the plate in the fifth inning. The 40-year-old then lined a 1-2 single to left field. Manager Terry Collins sent in Eric Young, Jr. to pinch-run, allowing Abreu to doff his helmet to the Citi Field crowd giving him a standing ovation. It was a pretty cool moment for a fantastic player.

Abreu is an interesting case when it comes to the Hall of Fame. He retires with 2,470 hits, including 574 doubles (most among currently-active players and tied for 21st-most all-time), along with a .291/.395/.475 slash line. He has 60 career WAR according to Baseball Reference and 58 per FanGraphs.

Bobby Abreu announces his retirement

Bobby Abreu Getty

Bobby Abreu will announce his retirement tonight, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

Abreu’s career appeared to be over when the Mets designated him for assignment in early August, but they called up him in September for one last hurrah.

Abreu ceased being a productive regular in 2011, but he had a dozen-year run as one of the best all-around hitters in baseball, consistently posting .300 batting averages and .400 on-base percentages with 20-homer power and 30-steal speed.

Overall for his 18-year, 2,423-game career Abreu has an OPS of .870, which is a higher mark than fellow retirees Paul Konerko (.841) and Derek Jeter (.817).

He was an on-base machine who racked up 2,469 hits with 288 homers and 400 steals. Among all active position players only Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have gotten on base more times than Abreu’s career total of 3,977 and only Rodriguez, Jeter, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, and Chase Utley have a higher Wins Above Replacement total.

Great, underrated player.

Mets designate Bobby Abreu for assignment

Bobby Abreu Getty

Bobby Abreu’s comeback as a bench bat for the Mets got off to a good start, but the 40-year-old has hit just .114 in 51 plate appearances since mid-June and today he was designated for assignment.

Abreu can still work deep counts, draw walks, and coax his way on base at a decent clip, but his power is totally gone and the need for a 40-year-old pinch-hitter on a sub-.500 team is pretty limited down the stretch.

This figures to be the end of the line for Abreu, who had similarly underwhelming overall numbers in 2012 before sitting out all of last season. However, he was an on-base machine for nearly 15 years, has racked up 2,466 hits with 288 homers and 400 steals, and in my book at least goes down as one of the most underrated players of this era.

Among all active position players only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have gotten on base more times than Abreu’s career total of 3,973 and only Rodriguez, Jeter, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, and Chase Utley have a higher Wins Above Replacement total.

MLB All-Star Game’s continued irrelevance could be saved by going international

84th MLB All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – You might not be old enough to remember this, but Battle of Network Stars used to be a thing. Every now and again, a bunch of television “stars” – let’s just put “stars” in quotations because it wasn’t like Johnny Carson was out there – would gather together in some fairly exotic location like Hawaii and compete in various “sporting” events.

Yeah, we need to put “sporting” in quotations too because while they did have some actual sports in there like swimming and cycling, they also had pseudo-sports like tug of war and an obstacle course and so on.

It was entertaining at the time, partly because we were so starved for something resembling sports on television that we would watch anything, and partly because Howard Cosell was the announcer, and Cosell was incapable of lowering the volume or intensity for trivial competitions. With Cosell, everything was at least as important as the Super Bowl or the seventh game of the World Series. So you would hear him shout things like, “One thing you have to say about Patrick Duffy is that he’s a COMPETITOR!” or “Robert Wagner doesn’t know the MEANING of the word quit!” Sometimes it seemed Cosell got the irony. And sometimes, it seemed, he did not.

Point is that we as a country used to love stuff like that. Superstars competitions. Battle of the Network Stars. Battle of the Sexes. Match races. All-Star Games galore. You know, every year an all-star team of college football players would face against the Super Bowl champion. It is a very funny thing to see a young person discover THAT for the first time. Their faces go pale, and their eyes widen, and they sputter, “They … they … they … DID WHAT?” There are so many baffling things about the old College All-Star exhibition – injury risks for young players, injury risks for old players, absurdity of a Super Bowl team actually playing a bunch of college kids – that they don’t know where to begin.

But we can begin here: We don’t care about pointless games now. We just don’t. And the range of pointlessness has expanded – we don’t care like we did about horse races that are not the Kentucky Derby, track events that are not the Olympics, boxing matches that are not for some sort of championship. We’ve replaced all of that in the American psyche with stuff at least tangentially connected with sports we DO care about – stuff like the NFL Draft and recruiting and free agency and those viral stories of the day. We’d rather talk and tweet and text and argue about where LeBron James will sign or what nutty thing Johnny Manziel will do next than watch sporting events that don’t count.

And that brings us, yet again, to the All-Star Game.

Well, every single year we write about how much the All-Star Game has lost. Last year, about 11 million people watched – one-third of the audience from 1982, one-half of the audience from 1994, thirty-one percent down from five years ago. But perhaps the most sobering fact was reported by Sports Business Journal: The average age of the All-Star Game viewer was 53. That would be a five followed by a three.
Whenever I am in the younger demographic of a television audience, you have real problems.

Well, the All-Star Game just doesn’t make sense anymore. It made sense when few baseball games were on television and the opportunity to see the stars play was magical. It made sense when the American and National Leagues were truly separate – before interleague play, before free agency, before easy travel between the leagues, before teams switched leagues – and so the only time you might see Johnny Bench face Jim Palmer was in the World Series or All-Star Game. It made sense when we CARED about meaningless games just for the enjoyment of the moment.

All that stuff is gone. Bud Selig’s rather desperate effort to attach meaning to the game by having it determine World Series homefield advantage hasn’t added anything at all, largely because it doesn’t matter to anyone now. It won’t matter to anyone for months, and even then it will only matter to fans of teams actually in the World Series. And for teams in the World Series, it will seem impossibly stupid to have homefield advantage determined by some single in the eighth inning by an All-Star pinch-hitter off an All-Star middle reliever.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about it: What can be done to make the All-Star Game matter again? It’s still an amazing opportunity for baseball – the All-Star Game still has one of the best stages in sports. It’s a Tuesday night in July when NOTHING ELSE is going on. And, weirdly enough, I started thinking about lessons the All-Star Game can take from the Home Run Derby.

It’s weird because: I very much dislike the Home Run Derby. Almost everyone I know does. It’s a terrible event live. It’s a terrible event on television, viewed through the prism of Chris Berman shouting “back-back-back.” The Derby is repetitive and dull and generally annoying.
BUT … it does something the All-Star Game does not. It sticks in the mind. I was thinking about the Home Run Derby the last decade or so and found, to my utter shock, that memories flooded back. I immediately remembered Josh Hamilton’s home run barrage as he was completing a comeback that blew the mind – that was inspiring. Bobby Abreu hit a billion homers one year, that was pretty amazing. Ryan Howard … Prince Fielder … Vlad Guerrero … I remember these moments pretty vividly. I remember Robinson Cano winning with his dad pitching. I remember Robinson Cano flailing helplessly as Kansas City fans booed him for leaving hometown hero Billy Butler off the Derby team.

Then, I was thinking about All-Star Game memories from the last decade: I came up completely empty. I could not think of a single one – and I’ve BEEN to almost every All-Star Game in the last decade. The last vivid memory I have from an All-Star Game was the 2002 tie game calamity, more than a decade ago. And I’ve BEEN to the All-Star Games. Before that, I remember them stopping the game in the middle to honor Cal Ripken.

So why is the Derby more memorable to me (and the numerous others I asked) than the All-Star Game? I think it’s simply this: It’s completely different. The All-Star Game is just another game, one of 3,000 or so that will be played this year if you count spring training and the postseason. Yes, it has the best players (or some reasonable facsimile), and yes it has great history with Ted Williams’ game-winner and Bo Jackson’s bomb to center and Pedro Martinez’s two thrilling innings of strikeouts and whatever. But, in the end, it’s a meaningless game. And we don’t have any time for such things.

The Home Run Derby, for all its many flaws, is DIFFERENT. Same thing with the dunk contest, which is better than the NBA All-Star Game. It acknowledges that people have changed, that it isn’t enough to just get together a few familiar stars and have them play a game for no real purpose. We don’t watch sports like that anymore.

So, it’s really simple: Baseball can keep playing the All-Star Game as is, and fewer people will watch every year. Or they can learn from their own history and figure out a way to make the game memorable again.

* * *

OK, since you asked, here’s what I would do to make the All-Star Game matter again: I would put together one Major League Baseball All-Star Team and have them play a game against a Japanese League All-Star team.

Yes, of course there would be some logistical concerns. But there are so many good things about this game that I don’t even feel like there’s a need to sell it … but here are just three:

1. It would bring back some real meaning to the game. The thing about the old All-Star Game was that players used to feel some sense of pride for the league they played. The National League was older and more established, the American League was the upstart. Then the National League was much more active in integration, while the American League moved slowly. Then the National League won a bunch in a row. And so on. Now, nobody CARES what league they play in. Heck, the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers happily swapped leagues.

But if you had MLB against Japan … you better believe players would care.

2. The Japanese Leagues are obviously much, much better than people generally seem to believe in America. It’s obvious because in recent years players like Ichiro, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Koji Uehara and so on have become mega-stars in the big leagues. It would be so good for baseball to get the leagues closer together.

3. The All-Star Game would become a world-wide event in a way that it is not now. Baseball does not celebrate its worldliness as much as it should. There are several different languages spoken in every clubhouse. The best players bring new cultures and new styles into the sport. It’s funny; baseball’s championship has been called the World Series for 100 years, but in many ways the world was not invited. I think you begin by bringing in a Japanese All-Star Team, but over time you could add players from Korea and China and Latin American countries. Make it the World All-Star Game.

Anyway, it’s just one idea.