Video: Odubel Herrera makes a ridiculous catch to complete Cole Hamels’ no-hitter

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Odubel Herrera had played a grand total of 13 games in the outfield as a member of the Texas Rangers’ minor league system through the 2014 season. The Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 draft and immediately converted him from his trade as a second baseman to a center fielder during spring training.

To say Herrera’s time in center has been an adventure would be to completely under-sell it. It has been at once both entertaining and disastrous. He doesn’t react well to balls off the bat and takes inefficient, circuitous routes. That was on full display Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field as Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs in what very well may have been his final start as a member of the Phillies.

Herrera played a key role in preserving Hamels’ no-hitter twice. The first came on the second out of the eighth inning, when Herrera used his speed to corral a well-struck David Ross fly ball on the warning track in left-center.

The second came on the final out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Kris Bryant ripped a 3-2 Hamels curve to straightaway center field. Herrera ranged back to the warning track, overrunning the fly ball slightly. He attempted to find the ball in the sunlit sky, fell forward, and snagged the ball just before it could make contact with the ground, preserving Hamels’ no-hitter. Watch:

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on it as precedent. Finally, it should be noted that in issuing this statement, the Astros have given at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech, which seems less-than-ideal at best.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?