I grew up in a small neighborhood in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Even though there were only about thirty houses in my court, there were roughly twenty kids that were just around my age (some older, some younger). While each of us had different interests, friends and even schools, there was one thing we all shared in common: baseball. Only a few of us were ever really good (I was not one of them), but we played day in and day out, every single summer. With a sewer plate serving as second base, mailbox foul poles and a grumpy neighbor who’d steal stray balls, the game was as simple and fun as can be.
Now that we’ve all grown up and moved on, though, those ‘Court Baseball’ games have been few and far between. But this Sunday, it’s all coming back, and I couldn’t be more ready. I’ll try to share some pictures/updates via twitter (@Cerambam1060), and let you know the outcome in next week’s MLBits. We haven’t drafted teams yet, but I’m pretty sure mine’s going to win.
Until then, though, here’s some news from around the league…
- As I’m sure you’re aware, Max Scherzer no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, en route to a 6-0 win. Unfortunately, Scherzer was just one strike away from the 24th perfect game in MLB history, when Jose Tabata was hit in the elbow by a 2-2 slider that never slid. As expected, many suggested that Tabata leaned into the pitch, intentionally, to break up the perfect game, but Tabata says no way. Indeed, when you combine Tabata’s comments with Scherzer’s own thoughts, there’s very little reason to suspect anything other than a standard HBP. It stinks that it happened when it did, but I really think this was just Scherzer not finishing one single pitch in an otherwise perfect game.
- There’s no pleasant way to share the unfortunate news of former MLB outfielder and MLB Network analyst, Darryl Hamilton, so I’ll stick to the facts alone. Hamilton was found dead in his home in Houston on Sunday afternoon, when police responded to a call about a disturbance. Hamilton, 50, had been shot multiple times in an apparent murder-suicide. It’s a depressing end to what was a successful career on and off the field. As a player, Hamilton played for the Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Rockies and Mets while compiling 1,333 hits and a .995 fielding percentage over 13 seasons. In 2013, he became an analyst for MLB Network where he flourished, as well. By all accounts Hamilton was an exceedingly good guy and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
- As the Oakland Athletics held a LGBT Pride event Wednesday night, Eno Sarris took the opportunity to discuss if and when MLB would be ready for an openly gay player with members of the Padres and Athletics. Along with a few “no comments,” Sarris received a nearly unanimous “Yes,” in response to the question. It’s an interesting read full of thoughtful, well-reasoned comments (like Sam Fuld’s situational comparison to Jackie Robinson’s story) down to the simpler, more straight forward quotes (like Justin Upton’s, “If you can hack it, you can play.”) MLB is already a very diverse sport (women may yet break into the fold), so hopefully they can continue accepting any and all players that deserve to be there.
- Pablo Sandoval apologized after being caught “liking” two photos on Instagram during the seventh inning, last Wednesday night against the Braves. Initially reported by Barstool Sports, this odd story is likely being worsened by the Red Sox slow start to the season (31-40). While it’s obviously not the right thing to do – MLB has a policy about not using social media 30 minutes prior to the game – it’s hard not to find the levity in a story that wouldn’t have made any sense just a few years ago (especially when it’s not happening to the Cubs).
- Some Royals’ starters comment on the…er… unusually high number of votes they’ve been receiving for the 2015 All-Star Game. While some are meritorious and others aren’t, MLB has no plan to remove “undeserving players” from the game – which is probably the right call.
- Still, this story isn’t just going away. If it was truly just a fan-base that came together to see their favorite players get elected, there might not be as much of a story. However, people are reporting emails thanking them for voting the maximum number of times without ever casting a single vote. And according to Ken Colburn (per Noah Frank) of WTOP, “a moderately skilled programmer could design a system to register fake email addresses and vote automatically.” Technology always cuts two ways. Yes, the internet has made voting easier and more accessible, but MLB must tighten things up if they want the game to hold any meaning, going forward.
- You hate to laugh about this, too, but if all eight Royals make the All-Star Team, the owners will be on the hook for an additional $1.25 million in incentives and escalators on top of their already record high payroll – including $500,000 to Omar Infante. Okay, you can laugh a little.
- Matthew Trueblood comes in for an excellent analysis on just how good Jack Morris actually was throughout his career. Originally expected to head to the Hall of Fame, advanced metrics began to expose what was actually a mediocre to good career for Morris. Now, though, new/better advanced statistics might tell a different story, one in which Jack Morris may deserve more credit than he’s given.
- Dave Cameron offers thoughts on the Diamondbacks and Braves trade involving what was essentially the purchasing of young pitching prospect Touki Toussaint.
- I cannot believe this is real:
— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) June 21, 2015