A Nabokovian report from the Triple-A National Championship(Reno Aces 10, Pawtucket Red Sox 3).
DBAP/ DURHAM—Brett Butler is probably best known to you as one of the premiere leadoff hitters of his decade, roughly 1983-93. He ranks 25th all-time in stolen bases (less than 30 shy of Maury Wills), and is tied for 78th in career triples (131) with… Joe DiMaggio? Yep. You could look it up.
Maybe you’re an Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians fan. In that case, Brett Butler is the main guy (Brook Jacoby and Rick Behenna were the others) traded after the 1983 season from the Braves to the Indians for Len Barker. That one pops up on numerous “most lopsided trades ever” lists, even though Barker had thrown a perfect game in 1981. To add insult to injury, the Braves also gave the Indians $150,000.
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How Dan Duquette is offsetting run differential with roster differential.
The Tides have tied the [International League] record for most players used in a season (74) and most starting pitchers used (20).—Norfolk Tides Media Notes, August 24, 2012
The above detail caught my eye in the press box before the Tides took on the Durham Bulls a couple of weeks ago. I appreciated the record numbers for their sheer size, but it’s easy, down here in the isolation of the minor leagues, to lose sight of what they really mean in the only context that counts.
According to a transcript unearthed by Adam, Theo Epstein almost derailed the Dodgers-Red Sox mega-trade with a call to his old friend Ben.
Days ago, the Red Sox and Dodgers pulled off the most expensive trade in history, but a just-released recording of an August 20 telephone conversation between Boston GM Ben Cherington and his predecessor, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, reveals that it very nearly never came about.
In some cases, baseball's on-field etiquette seems clear, but there is often more to the story than either we or the players know.
On August 11 in Toledo, the Durham Bulls’ Will Rhymes hit a second-inning, two-run home run off of Toledo Mud Hens starter Drew Smyly. (If you watch the video above, you’ll see a replay of Rhymes’ homer partway through.)
A radio broadcaster's persona reflects the team's roster and fan following. Or is it the other way around?
I’m driving in Georgia with my new wife, way, way down south. We’re here on family business, but we’ve taken an afternoon to indulge the notion that we are still on our honeymoon, although it officially ended weeks ago. We are passing through the rural exotica: tiny, ruined towns, no signs of life. Stunted, desiccated crops. Vultures are everywhere: in the air, in the trees, devouring carcasses on the side of the road. Rain blatters on the windshield. History has ended here.
We need a signal, some reassurance of life against this deathless decrepitude. Put on the radio, there’s a Braves game—that will more than do. Those live pauses between pitches, the ambient life piping through the speakers. Baseball on the radio is as potent as the smell of bread in the oven. What sound could possibly be better in southwest Georgia, on a road where the speed limit is 45 mph, where you can drive five, 10 miles at a stretch without seeing a single other vehicle?
With one deadline under the new CBA behind us, can we say anything about what we'll see from future July 31sts?
What do this year’s trade deadline deals tell us about the brave new world of July 31sts to come? Will the expanded playoff format and CBA changes turn out to have made an impact on the way front offices do their non-waiver trading? To an extent, some of the new factors would seem to encourage trading, while others would seem to discourage it. If on balance the amount of activity stays the same, we’re tasked with assessing whether its quality changes.
A few teams are doing what they must do. Sellers like the Astros and Cubs, fighting it out for the coveted no. 1 pick in the draft, are unloading anyone they can unload—drat you, Matt Garza (injury) and Alfonso Soriano (refused trade)!—in exchange for warm young bodies and/or Ben Francisco Cordero. Legit contenders have upgraded further (Angels/Greinke, Tigers/Infante-Sanchez, Dodgers/Ramirez-Victorino-League, etc.).
The Durham Bulls are in the midst of a rare losing season, prompting Adam to wonder: How do fans of the Royals and Pirates live with losing every year?
The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
- Elizabeth Bishop
Down here on the Durham Bulls beat, I watched “America’s favorite minor-league team,” as they call themselves, go 5-2 in their season-opening home stand. The needle was pushed all the way over right from the start, when the Bulls and Gwinnett Braves went to extras on opening night. In the top of the 12th inning, Cesar Ramos gave up a go-ahead solo homer to J. C. Boscan; but in the bottom of the 12th, as the game passed the four-hour mark, the Bulls rallied to win it when Gwinnett shortstop Greg Paiml misplayed a fairly easy grounder. The Bulls’ Will Rhymes, since called up to Tampa Bay in the wake of Evan Longoria’s hamstring injury, opportunistically raced all the way home from second base with the winning run.
Jeremy Hellickson gets hit hard and Clay Buchholz impresses in the game of the week, plus thoughts about Tampa Bay's pitching and Bobby Valentine's way with words.
The night before Saturday’s game, the Red Sox scored eight runs against the Rays to turn a relatively normal game into a 12-2 laugher. Actually, there was something abnormal about it, even before the offensive explosion: Rays starter David Price lasted only three innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks while running up an 83-pitch tab. Josh Beckett, meanwhile, suffocated Tampa Bay for eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits.
How can we distinguish between a pitcher's "command" and "control"? And what does that have to do with good writing?
In his sparkling debut for Baseball Prospectus last week, Doug Thorburn wrote perceptively and with iconoclastic intelligence about pitching mechanics.
“The ominous world of pitching is full of theoretical sand traps,” Thorburn wrote, “and modern research has uncovered the evidence to challenge some deep-rooted beliefs.” His article does just that. (And let me also put in a plug for “Raising Aces: Da Pitching Code,” which he published about a year ago on the Baseball Daily Digest web site and which provided some of the seeds of thought for last week’s BP article.)