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Must-click link: the pitcher who could not swing but got a hit

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Almost everything Sam Miller of ESPN writes is entertaining and enlightening but this thing he wrote today about Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman is one of my favorites in a while.

Gsellman, you may or may not know, tore the labrum in his non-pitching shoulder last year. He could still pitch, but he could not swing a bat. Except he still went up to the plate 17 times in 2016, most of them before the world at large knew that he had a torn labrum and could not swing. Miller takes us through each and every one of his plate appearances like a forensic detective, trying to determine whether or not the opposition knew — or should have known — that Gsellman literally could not swing a bat.

The results are somewhat sobering. Not from a substantive baseball perspective, as even a healthy Gsellman was not likely to do much damage to the opposition or, frankly, to the Mets, no matter how wonderfully or poorly he hit. It’s more sobering with respect to just how cautious and observant the average human being is in this thing we call life.

Miller brings this point home after Gsellman combined with Jake Thompson and Ryan Howard of the Phillies in a play that led to Gsellman — the man who could not swing — getting his only hit of the year. It happened when each of them failed to do the most very basic things possible under the circumstances: (a) to take a pitch when you can’t swing a bat; (b) to throw a 3-0 strike to a guy who can’t swing; and (c) to field a bunt from a guy who was 100% likely to lay down a bunt:

Look. You have expectations when you walk out the door every morning. You expect basic competency: The chef at the restaurant knows the difference between cooking oil and bleach. You expect basic self-preservation: The guy driving in the opposite direction as you isn’t suicidal. You expect that cause and effect will follow predictable rules: The cashier will give you a handful of change, not a raccoon

You expect to turn on a baseball game and see two capable, self-interested teams. And you end up with a batter who can’t (and shouldn’t) swing a bat, a pitcher who can’t throw a strike and Ryan Howard standing 15 feet behind the bag. Mathematically speaking, all three of these men are better at their job than your doctor is. Cheers.

Hope your checkup went well today and the MRI was read properly.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”