Sad news out of Iowa tonight.
Keith Murphy of WHO in Des Moines passes along word that Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller has died at the age of 92 in a Cleveland hospice.
Feller was hospitalized with pneumonia a few weeks ago and previously fought a battle against leukemia.
Born November 3, 1918 in the small farming town of Van Meter, Iowa, he went on to win 266 games over 18 big league seasons — all with the Indians. He retired after 1956 with a sparkling 3.25 career ERA and 2,581 strikeouts.
Feller struck out 348 batters and turned in a 2.18 ERA over 371.1 innings in 1946, his finest season.
But it was in 1941 that he made his biggest splash.
After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Feller became the first Major League Baseball player to enlist in the armed forces, joining the NAVY and serving as a gun captain on the USS Alabama during what might have been the prime of his baseball career. He served four years and was decorated with five campaign ribbons and eight stars throughout his military service.
Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.