Blast from the past: the Phillies sign Matt Anderson

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This will likely be the first and the last time we blog about Matt Anderson this year, but I am a sucker for comeback stories so it’s worth a mention. The Phillies signed him. Minor league deal, of course.

For those who are blanking, Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, selected by the Tigers. Once upon a time he could throw the ball 100 miles per hour. The Tigers rushed him up the ladder in 1998, but it was mostly OK: he embarrassed Single-A and Double-A hitters that summer, and struck out a batter an inning during his major league callup that year. After starting the 1999 season in Toledo, he stuck with the big club as a reliever through the 2003 season, though he was hurt much of the time those last couple of years.

The circumstances of his most famous injury — a torn muscle in his armpit in 2002 — remain clouded.  It was widely reported at the time that he hurt himself during an octopus-throwing contest at Comerica Park.  Really.  It’s a Red Wings thing, for those who don’t know. The team and Anderson denied it at the time, but there never was a truly satisfactory answer for how he got that particular injury at that particular time.

But no matter what caused the injury, after that: wildnerness. Shoulder trouble. Years missed. Independent league ball.  He last saw major league action in a 12-game stint with the Rockies in 2005.  He last pitched organized ball in 2008 in the White Sox system. He’s 34 now. What the Phillies plan on doing with him I have no idea.

But we all love comebacks.  At least when they begin.  Sadly, they almost never end well.  Good luck all the same to you, Matt Anderson.

Manny Machado called for interference with Orlando Arcia

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Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.

In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.

The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.