A poor reliever's poor heart broken; Lindor's a hero; Sabathia makes it easier AND harder to trade him; and Arenado does defense.
The Tuesday Takeaway Vinko Bogataj was forever immortalized as the face of “the agony of defeat” on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. His incredible crash on a ski jump slope in 1970 became forever associated with agony and defeat. It was his misfortune that an entire generation learned to cringe and giggle at.
The Indians head into the trade deadline in first place, but are they really capable of running with the best teams in this year's playoffs?
In 1999, the world was anticipating the Y2K bug, Rachel and Ross had just (accidentally) married, and Enema of the State and The Slim Shady LP were selling millions of records against the backdrop of Napster’s ascent.
The struggling Cubs fail to build any momentum, the Angels win without Trout, and the Indians keep destroying the Tigers.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Last week, the Reds operated as a palate cleanser of sorts for the Cubs. Chicago entered the three-game series against Cincinnati having lost six of their previous seven, and they exited it with a sweep that made it look as if that streak of ugliness was over.
Let’s think outside the box. You know. “The box.” The box that every single motivational speaker and business consultant and hack writer tells you that you need to think outside of, before reaching for one of the acceptable 10 examples of out-of-the-box thinking. (Did you know that Post-It notes were created by accident? All because someone had the idea to think outside of the box!) “The box” is now—ironically enough—a tired metaphor for thinking in ways that aren’t creative. I’m always amused by the fact that people call for “outside the box” thinking, and then never talk about how that’s to be accomplished. The problem is that we are all trapped inside a mime’s box. How do you step outside a box that neither you nor anyone else can actually see?
The Angels win a football game, Bryan Holaday throws a knuckleball, and the Indians fall just short of history.
The Weekend Takeaway
Which sport epitomizes the red-blooded American best: football or baseball? Do we see more of ourselves in Tom Brady’s perfect touchdown spiral or the graceful swing of a Mike Trout home run?
The White Sox hit seven home runs, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Carrasco toss four-hitters, and Jose Altuve goes for the cycle.
The Weekend Takeaway
There are no givens in baseball. A 10-run lead can evaporate under the misdirection of a tired bullpen, a no-hitter can be lost on a misplayed fly ball, and a ninth-inning tie can be broken on a walk-off balk. Still, there are certain markers which, once they are passed, provide a feeling of security.
Notable performances this week from Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Wei-Yin Chen.
There’s no time to waste, as the commander has ordered double-time for this week’s pitching notes. Permission to come aboard.
Kluber has been going through this rigmarole for a year and a half. Perhaps he was fortunate to string together so many dominant starts during his Cy-winning campaign of 2014, but Kluber continues to confound, with a glaring tendency toward disaster starts throughout the past two seasons. The peripherals far surpass the ERA numbers—he has a K/BB ratio of 5.2 over the past season and a half but just a 3.52 ERA to show for his work—and his excellent stuff combined with A-grade mechanics provide a steady basis for command and consistency. Yet he gets bombarded by hits and runs every few starts, and his past two turns serve as exhibits 1A and 1B.
A year ago today, Francisco Lindor was recalled. Since (roughly) that day, the position has gone from a dead spot to historically great.
Eleven months ago Alcides Escobar was voted into the All-Star game as the AL’s starting shortstop. Escobar is an oft-praised defender with plus speed on a Royals team that was coming off a World Series loss and headed for a World Series win, but he also ended the first half with a modest .699 OPS and finished the season with a .614 OPS that nearly matched his .636 career mark through age 28. Alcides Escobar, All-Star starting shortstop just seemed a little lofty.
Royals fans stuffed the ballot box so much that second baseman Omar Infante and his .555 OPS nearly got voted into the game as well, but in Escobar’s case the story wasn’t so much about an undeserved selection as no other AL shortstops standing out as clearly deserving. In other words, don’t blame Escobar or Royals fans for his being in the starting lineup alongside the biggest stars in the league. None of the AL shortstops had an OPS above .750 at the All-Star break. The chosen backup was light-hitting Jose Iglesias, another glove-first player whose career OPS is .680.
Eleven months later, the AL’s shortstop landscape has changed so dramatically that the position as a whole has a higher collective OPS (.709) than Escobar had at the time of the All-Star break last year (.699) and Escobar has been the worst-hitting shortstop in the entire league. Xander Bogaerts is hitting .359/.405/.527 for the Red Sox. Manny Machado, who shifted from third base to shortstop following J.J. Hardy’s foot injury, is hitting .308/.376/.600 for the Orioles. Francisco Lindor, who made his debut exactly one year ago today, is hitting .304/.360/.450 for the Indians. Carlos Correa, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is hitting .256/.351/.423 for the Astros.
A play that was almost too close for replay, Ichiro marches on, and the Rangers and Orioles continue to surge.
The Thursday Takeaway
“What is a catch?”—one of the more complex existential questions of our time, albeit usually only in the context of the NFL and the subjectivity of its rules. In Thursday’s Cardinals-Reds game, though, it got a relatively rare turn in baseball’s limelight.
The Red Sox give Pablo Sandoval's job away, the Orioles are in a snit with Hyun-Soo Kim, and the Rangers and Indians might be the best bet for a last-second big-league swap.
Pablo Sandoval Loses His Job To Travis Shaw
After a flurry of moves that included the signing of Pablo Sandoval, the 2014 Red Sox romped to the American League pennant, then swept the World Series. General Manager Ben Cherington received many an accolade for his work, and Sandoval became an instant fan favorite.