Right in your neighborhood, there is a team operating on the periphery of professional baseball.
In early August, an independent league team called the San Rafael Pacifics played a team from nearby Pittsburg, California, called the Mettle. The last-place Mettle are owned and coached by former big leaguer Wayne Franklin, who (at age 40) is also the team’s ace starter, sort of—he leads the league in innings pitched, by far, yet has the second worst ERA. (He rarely takes himself out. In his last start, he allowed 11 runs in a complete game.) In left field for the Pacifics was Eric Byrnes, the Eric Byrnes, out of retirement for two games to raise money for charity. Byrnes’ bat was slow and he had become a two-true-outcomes hitter, walks and strikeouts, but he sprinted all over the outfield, wandering far into F-8 territory because every ball he caught sent $500 to a veterans group. It all sounds like a lark, but anchoring the whole thing to reality was an honest pennant race.
Teams need fast guys in September. Here's who the contenders should use.
Last year, the best/my favorite transaction of the season came in late August: “Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent CF Freddy Guzman to a minor league contract.” Guzman was 32, had most recently appeared in the majors in 2009, had a career OPS+ of 42, and was at the time playing in Mexico, where his teammates included Esteban Loaiza (41 years old), Ruben Rivera (39) and Ruben Mateo (35). I liked this move so much that Ben Lindbergh and I devoted an entire podcast episode to it.
Are the Diamondbacks screwing up pitchers? And is our usual approach to those questions the right one?
I remember on Opening Day, when Brandon McCarthy was facing the Giants, and it seemed like he might just be the Cy Young front-runner. He struck out all three batters in the first. He got the Giants in order on seven pitches in the second. His curveball was lethal, and his fastball
Putting the focus on the focus on Jeter, and other All-Star observations.
One of our writers, Craig Goldstein, had an idea for the All-Star game that we didn’t get to, though I thought it had some merit: Which All-Star games have “belonged” to which players? Last year’s “belonged” to Mariano Rivera, for instance. Cal Ripken’s final game “belonged” to Cal Ripken, and so on. This year’s belonged to Derek Jeter like nothing in baseball has ever belonged to anything else. Bud Selig’s retirement was limited to a two-question commercial-break interruption. Tony Gwynn’s death was not even mentioned, not once. Neither was the death of Ralph Kiner. There was no aside noting that Tim McCarver was enjoying retirement after calling more All-Star games with Joe Buck than any broadcast duo in history. This was all Jeter’s.
So you want to bet on the Home Run Derby. Some people would judge you for that. I’m one of those people. Totally judging over here. But I do plenty of things that I could be judged for, so I won’t judge you for being judged. We’re all a little judgeable.
Is Mike Trout suffering from a lack of respect? Or is the batter behind him overrated?
Here’s a story about Mike Trout and intentional walks: During his junior year, in the state playoffs, the opposing Cherry Hill East manager got so spooked by Trout’s batting practice display that he intentionally walked him to lead off the game; then again in his second at-bat, with a runner on first; and once more in his third at-bat, with the bases loaded.