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.
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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.
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.)
The unexpected success of a Triple-A retread can be more rewarding than the continued excellence of a major-league veteran.
I just remembered why I prefaced my last BP piece, a look at the best of this season’s Triple-A retreads, by talking about Dan Johnson. It wasn’t just because he’s Dan Johnson—even though that is almost reason enough—but more specifically because of something I learned about him from this offseason article about him in the Star Tribune (Minn.) by Joe Christensen:
What veteran players biding their time in Triple-A might help a big-league club in 2012?
Imagine that you are Tom Hanks in Cast Away, and that among the little-known details of your character (aside from an obsession with time and a badly rotting tooth) is your quiet but intense lifelong love of the Chicago White Sox.
Well, first, welcome back to civilization, Chuck Noland. Enjoy all the crab legs, and sorry you missed out on Helen Hunt—it’s a game of inches, my friend. Second, you’re probably planning to make a beeline for your favorite baseball publication. Presumably, that is Baseball Prospectus, but then again, you’ve been marooned for a couple of years and may have sustained severe damage to your judgment, which now makes decisions based on survivalist instinct rather than careful consumer reasoning. Some help, in case you haven’t picked up your annual: an admittedly informal and incomplete survey of BP writers suggests that the White Sox are destined to finish somewhere around fourth place in the American League Central, with one of my colleagues asking if he could slot them sixth. Chuck, there are only five teams in the American League Central.
The players of the 1970s couldn't compete with today's players on the field, but they may have had more compelling personae. Which do we prefer?
It’s spring training. The eyes of baseball open again. It’s a good time to take stock of the game.
Are we happy with it? Happy with the whole game—its character, its color, its quiddity? Is there anything missing? Is there anything overmuch? What is right, and what is wrong with baseball? Has it acquired qualities it used to lack? And has it lost anything it once had?
The pitcher-turned-author struggles in his sophomore season but salvages his sophomore authorial effort with a gripping finish.
It was screenwriting guru Syd Field who introduced, to the best of my knowledge, the notion of the cinematic “plot point.” Hollywood movies have two of these, the first coming roughly a third of the way in, the second two thirds through. Watch any mainstream cinema product, and you can practically set your watch by them.
Dirk Hayhurst’s second memoir, Out of My League (Citadel Press, 406 pp.), the follow-up to his best-selling debut, The Bullpen Gospels, is expertly constructed just like a movie. The plot points are easy to spot. We arrive at the first on page 126, when Hayhurst finds out, after much suspense in 2008 spring training, that he has made the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A club in Portland, Ore.