MLBits: Manny is Trying to Come Back Again, the Cheating Scandals, Biggest Contracts, Weird Baseball, More

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MLBits: Manny is Trying to Come Back Again, the Cheating Scandals, Biggest Contracts, Weird Baseball, More

Chicago Cubs

Baseball is fun, but also …

Baseball is Weird

Yesterday, while mindlessly perusing YouTube, I stumbled onto a video claiming that a batter could strike out in fewer than three pitches. I was 90% sure it was going to be some sort of click-bait nonsense, but … nope! You can actually strike out after just one pitch (zero pitches, even) and it’s already happened in a Minor League game.

If you want to see it in action, check it out:

You’ll have to check out the post for the full rule and video, but I must admit: I didn’t know it could happen.

But here’s where it gets even more fun: The first comment on that post is from former American Legion pitcher – and BN commenter Spriggs – who explains that he experienced a one-pitch strikeout, himself:

When I pitched in American Legion ball, the guy who made the last out of the prior inning actually came up to bat to lead off the next inning. This guy was their best player too …. I didn’t want to waste any time so as soon as he entered the box I fired one way outside and then told the ump they just batted out of order. He checked with the scorekeeper (who was the PA announcer in the booth behind home) and they called him out. I yelled up to the scorekeeper asking if that goes as a K and he said he’d mark it as a K. So, a one pitch K for me!

Awesome! So there are at least TWO ways you can strike out on just one pitch. Stay weird, baseball.

Trey Mancini’s Fight Against Cancer

Every single time I read one of these pieces from The Players’ Tribune, it is excellent. Sadly, so many of them are unfortunate stories of struggle and hardship.

Such is the latest from Trey Mancini, who explains how a Spring Training 2020 physical led to the discovery of colon cancer. Mancini will be undergoing chemotherapy this year, which means if/when baseball returns, it’ll likely be without him. Still, his message is an optimistic one, even as his story is quite sobering – particularly in the middle of a global pandemic.

Manny Will Never Stop Being Manny

Manny Ramirez is 48 years old, baseball is cancelled in most parts of the world, and yet …. his “goal for 2020 is to find a roster spot in the CPBL,” Ramirez told the Taiwan Times. “I have been itching to get back in the batter’s box and be able to compete again.”

Yep. Manny’s trying to come back. Again.

And just like his short stint with the Iowa Cubs back in 2014 (remember that?), he’d like to do it as a player-coach. This is the third comeback attempt for Manny Ramirez if you count the Cubs, after also trying to come back in Japan back in 2017. As for why Taiwan, well, it could have something to do with the fact that the CPBL is literally the only place baseball is being played right now, but for another … he likes the food better: “I have had a few offers for teams in the Atlantic League, but am more in favor of experiencing Taiwan and their delicious food.”

Manny will never stop being Manny.

By the way, Manny still has a ways to go – even if he does come back – to match the recent elder statesman of baseball. Ageless wonder Julio Franco played pro ball for an indy league team in Japan in 2015 … when he was 56.

Only the Players Can Lead the Battle Against Cheating

Let’s actually start this section off with a quote from Max Scherzer: “It was obvious,” Scherzer said to The Athletic. “That shows you how obvious, how big a line was crossed. You can tell us what the rules are in the books, but there’s no rule that lays out the punishment for stealing signs to that degree. Yet we as players know that’s cheating. You don’t have to tell us in the rules. … We all, as players, know how the game should be played, and we know that’s cheating.”

In Jayson Stark’s latest at The Athletic, he discusses with some stars how the players need to own the landscape and culture of understanding what is and isn’t cheating. And it’s not just about policing the game, themselves. It’s about changing the culture and narrative inside and outside of baseball and taking responsibility for their actions.

But that’s only half of it. The problem remains that some players – genuinely or not – do not seem to have the proper self-awareness. For example, do I believe the Astros’ actions worse than the Red Sox? Yes. Definitely, even. But how does this comment from David Price strike you?

Price: “We didn’t cheat. We did nothing along anything like that. I mean, that really took me back when I heard what (the Astros) were doing, and not because I was naïve to that. I just didn’t think you could do something like that and it stayed quiet. Like, players talk. I’ve got friends on the team. I didn’t think something like that could happen.”

Price said that what the Astros did “hurt baseball badly,” but none of that applies to the Red Sox, because “they didn’t cheat.” And that, my friends, is a problem. More at The Athletic.

The 20 Biggest Deals in MLB History

One after another, Mike Trout ($426.5M), Bryce Harper ($330M), Giancarlo Stanton ($325M), Gerrit Cole ($324M), and Manny Machado ($300M) broke down the $300M barrier for Major League contracts, moving the Overton Window of expected free agent dollars forever. But the $200M threshold is still rarified air. At MLB Trade Rumors, Jeff Todd runs down the 20 baseball contracts over $200M, including some you may have forgotten (Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez x2), some you hope fail miserably (Christian Yelich), some that we thought about being on the Cubs (Max Scherzer, David Price, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg), and some that could still be future Cubs (Nolan Arenado … okay, I’m just kidding).

The Cubs have still not handed out a $200M+ contract, but with Kris Bryant and Javy Baez eligible for extensions, plus guys like Mookie Betts awaiting free agency, perhaps that can happen sooner than later. That is … if they can navigate their luxury tax issues. And if player price tags don’t change in some truly fundamental way going forward.

Don Mattingly Pranked Almost Everyone in the World

Former Yankees great Don Mattingly was born in 1961. That’s the fact. And almost everywhere you look it up, that’s the answer you’ll get. However, on the back of a 1987 Topps baseball card, there’s a surprising little claim: “Don’s birth certificate states he was born in 1962, not 1961 as shown in most baseball records.”

A mystery! I love a good mystery. Especially one with a satisfying answer.

I don’t want to spoil the post, because Sam Miller at ESPN went to rather extraordinary lengths to figure out and share what happened and why there was a discrepancy in Mattingly’s age, but suffice it to say, maybe it had something to do with a hitting slump Mattingly was in …

From Yaz to Rapp to Rose?

And finally, here’s yet another seriously unbelievable entry to the colorful tapestry that is MLB history:

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami