I still can’t get over how much fun last night’s Home Run Derby was. I’ve said a hundred times already, but my already-existing love for the event grew 10-fold last night and it’s because Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper put on a clinic at hitting dingers. The buzzer beaters, bat flips, and general overall goofiness (the good kind) that has crept into baseball over the past few seasons was on full display, and, surprise: everybody loved it.
More of that, MLB. Please.
- The St. Louis Cardinals limped into the All-Star Break at 7.5 games out of first place, after splitting a four-gamer with the Giants, a two-gamer with the White Sox, and dropping two out of three to the Reds. But despite the struggles, their starting rotation still ranks 7th in overall WAR this season, and they’ve been doing it without Michael Wacha (oblique) since June 20th. Fortunately for the Cubs, who face the Cardinals in their first five games out of the break, and eight of their first eleven, Wacha doesn’t seem all that close to returning:
Michael Wacha still hasn't been cleared to throw. When he does, #STLCards expect him to need three weeks to build up plus multiple rehab starts. So you can do the math…
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) July 13, 2018
- If we’re extremely generous and assume Wacha starts throwing again this weekend (far from guaranteed), that would bring the end of his “three week build up” to roughly August 10. From there, he’d probably need at least 2-3 rehab starts to prove he’s ready to go, so we’re looking at the end of August, beginning of September … on the optimistic side. As I said, the Cardinals rotation is doing fine without him right now, but they’re also without Alex Reyes for the rest of the season and without Adam Wainwright for some undetermined length of time, so the depth is dwindling.
- This is depressing:
The Instagram account @MinorLeagueGrinders shows the funny and ridiculous side of life before the big leagues. It also highlights the ridiculousness of how minor leaguers are paid and treated. Column from the Futures Game: https://t.co/5Hk2Jq71P2 pic.twitter.com/jRnNeAEW2P
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 16, 2018
- I’m open to the idea that humor might be the best or only way to jam this into peoples’ minds, but Minor League players are perversely underpaid, and MLB has spent millions to lobby to see that continue. The stories of players not having enough to eat or to pay for living expenses have been shared a thousand times and nothing has changed. Maybe with enough raccoons in bathrooms and $85.00 pay checks for TWO WEEKS WORK we can help these players get enough traction to laugh us into change.
- And I’m gonna give this one more bullet, because Passan has a good article and you should really take the time to read it.
- In case you missed it, Chase Utley has decided to retire at the end of the 2018 season after a 16-year career, in which he’s earned a total of 63.3 WAR – which is tied for 100th all-time with none other than Ernie Banks. Utley is a six-time all-star and four-time Silver Slugger. He’s well past his prime, but he had a very nice career. And this entire bullet was just a set-up so I can show you the batting stance guy’s rendition of “Chase Utley”:
Chase Utley pic.twitter.com/yJCA3XEs9L
— Batting Stance Guy (@BattingStanceG) July 13, 2018
- The Boston Red Sox (68-30) are a staggering 38 games over .500 here at the All-Star break, which is good for a ridiculous .694 winning percentage. If they continued on that pace the rest of the season, they’d win 112 games. And I know every team always hits their slow patch to throw them off these crazy paces, but this is pretty deep into the season. For a little reference, consider that the SECOND-PLACE Yankees (62-33) are 29 games over .500 … and 4.5 games out of first. If it weren’t for the Red Sox, they’d basically would have just had one of the best first halves ever:
How good have #Redsox been? #Yankees have .663 win pct, which would be best for 1st-half team not to be in 1st place in divisional era (since 1969). Even if NYY lost last 3 of 1st half, win pct would be .642, 2d-best since '69 (h/t to Elias/MLB Network research).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 13, 2018
- Earlier today, Brett shared a poll from The Athletic that got players to weigh in on various bests and worsts (the Cardinals fans were voted as the best in baseball, yeah …) but at the center of one of the more interesting results was Joe Maddon. 27.1% of players said they’d want to play for Joe Maddon most (aside from their own managers), which was the top vote-getting response. HOWEVA, when asked which manager (aside from their own) they’d least like to play for, Joe Maddon finished second with 20% of the vote! Talk about polarizing. I am kinda blown away that so many players would not want to be part of a Maddon clubhouse. Frankly, they must just not know much about Maddon, because being the sort of guy players want to play for is kinda his thing.
- Justin Verlander has come out against the designated hitter, which is not much of a surprise coming from an experienced pitcher. While I may disagree with his opinion, I very much respect his reasoning. In fact, it’s exactly why I think the NL needs to adopt the DH: “But I do think, for instance when we were in the World Series, the Houston Astros are playing the Dodgers, when we are at Dodger Stadium, we were a little behind. We were not used to hitting, bunting and things like that. When you’re playing a championship, that determines the best team in the world, it should be an even playing field. It’s the only sport like that with different sets of rules in different leagues.” Yeah, exactly, and because the AL will never ever ever – in one million years – get rid of 15 high-paying jobs, the NL should adopt the DH for even-playing-field-purposes.
- Congrats to new-American, Fernando Rodney:
Congratulations! 🍾 🇺🇸 #Repost @fernandorodney3635 ・・・ After 19 years in this wonderful country today I am blessed to say that I am an official US Citizen. Today I fly the American Flag but in my heart always hold my Dominican Flag. I want to thank all those who have been with me throughout the process and especially thank the @twins organizations for allowing me to catch my flight. Big thanks to the @tigers who made this dream possible 19 years ago. #USA #USCIS #bluepassport #dominicanamerican
- Okay, this is just the coolest thing ever … Javy Baez, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Berrios at the Future’s Game back in 2014 and the All-Star game last night (er, well, the HR Derby, but you get it):