The Weekend Takeaway
Sean Newcomb of the Braves nearly pitched a no-hitter against the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. He was within a strike of accomplishing the feat when Chris Taylor hit Newcomb’s 134th pitch for a single. Newcomb was pulled from the game with a 4-0 lead and the Braves won 4-1. That should have been the story of the game; Newcomb was one strike from joining the list of players who have tossed no-hitters in Major League Baseball. Instead, the story was turned on its head when old tweets of Newcomb’s, which were filled with homophobic language, were discovered and sent to the masses.
Twitter has been around since 2006 but the majority of people who started using it weren’t early adopters of the medium. I didn’t open my account until November 2008 and even then I wasn’t sure what the hell it was or what I was doing. It wasn’t until the 2009 baseball season started that I got really into it. It was a place where I could talk about baseball, the Yankees and about life in general. I met people with similar interests through Twitter, I made friends on Twitter, I began blogging because of Twitter and frankly, I wouldn’t be writing for Baseball Prospectus if it weren’t for Twitter. It’s been a positive influence in my life.
Now, in 2018, people are getting in trouble for things they wrote on Twitter back when they were teenagers. For the most part, in baseball, it’s been young white players who have been caught using homophobic, racist and sexist language. Milwaukee’s Josh Hader, who didn’t perform well during the All-Star game a couple of weeks ago, was taken to task for old tweets while the game was still happening and he had to issue an apology for homophobic, racist and sexist tweets that he sent out in 2011 and 2012 during the postgame scrum.
When people want to take someone to task on Twitter for the awful things they wrote in the past, it can happen in a matter of minutes. It just takes one person to find something, they’ll tweet it, and within 15 minutes thousands of others will see the offensive tweets. Hader was only 17 when he tweeted the majority of the offensive stuff—but that shouldn’t be an excuse.
Some people came to Hader’s defense saying that we all say stupid things when we’re teenagers and some even invoked the whole, “He was just a kid!” defense. At some point, you learn right from wrong and at 17 years old, a person should know that calling someone the n-word or using the three-letter f-word is not something you should do. And instead of making excuses for them, shouldn’t we all be concerned about the fact that these “kids” felt comfortable saying such awful things on a public forum?
On Sunday, Newcomb had old tweets exposed just after his no-hitter bid ended and, later on, Trea Turner of the Nationals also had old tweets come back to bite him after the Nationals lost to the Marlins.
After what happened to Josh Hader, you’d think every single baseball player would look at his Twitter account, search old tweets and delete any offensive language they found. Or at the very least their agents would advise them to do that but it hasn’t happened.
The Braves issued a statement on Newcomb just before 9 p.m. Sunday:
And the Nationals issued a statement from General Manager Mike Rizzo and tweeted it out late Sunday night:
On a day when the Braves should have been celebrating Newcomb’s strong outing and Chipper Jones’ Hall of Fame induction, the story was about Twitter.
How many times does this sort of thing have to happen before MLB players learn their lesson?
First up, Scherzer, who reached the milestone in a win over the Marlins. Not only did get to 200 strikeouts, but this is the seventh consecutive season in which he hit the mark and, even more impressively, he did it on his 34th birthday. Most pitchers see a decline around that age but Scherzer is still dominating.
He struck out Justin Bour to end the eighth inning for his 11th of the game. He joins Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens and Walter Johnson who all had streaks of at least seven seasons with 200 strikeouts. Seaver made it to nine.
And not to be outdone, Sale also recorded his 200th strikeout of the season in a Red Sox win over the Twins on Friday. He’s the fastest in American League history to reach the milestone. Heading into the game against Minnesota, he needed only three K’s to reach the mark and four to pass it. He finished the night with 11. Sale didn’t get the decision because Craig Kimbrel blew his first save since May 9. Mookie Betts bailed Kimbrel out with a walk-off home run to secure the win.
Since June 8, Sale has pitched to a 0.75 ERA and has 12 walks and 98 strikeouts in 60 innings of work. He also has not surrendered a home run during that stretch.
The Red Sox and Yankees both traded in-division for starters this past week and both of those pitchers made their debuts with their new teams on Sunday.
Nathan Eovaldi who was traded to the Red Sox from the Rays on July 25 made his first start for Boston in Fenway and threw seven shutout innings. He struck out five and only gave up four hits.
J.A. Happ, who was traded to the Yankees from the Blue Jays on July 26, made his first start in the Bronx and threw six innings of one-run ball. He gave up three hits and struck out two.
And guess who will be facing each other in Fenway on Saturday? Yep. Should be a good one. Or it could be a slugfest. You never know with the Sox and Yankees.
The A’s who had been on quite a roll of late were stopped in their tracks by the Rockies this weekend. Colorado swept the A’s out of Coors Field and are now 10 games over .500.
Colorado won 3-1, 4-1 and 3-2. They didn’t exactly kill the A’s but they definitely kept Oakland’s bats relatively quiet. But, the A’s lucked out because the Mariners, the team they’re trying to catch up to for the second Wild Card, lost two of three in Anaheim so they didn’t lose much ground in the race.
As for the Rockies, they are right in the thick of things in the National League Wild Card race thanks to the roll they’re on.
Jacob deGrom did everything he could Saturday to win against the Pirates. He had a quality start, giving up three runs in seven innings, and he was 2 for 3 at the plate with a double. Unfortunately, that was the only extra-base hit for the Mets, who were stymied by four Pittsburgh pitchers who held them scoreless. The Mets also struck out 11 times and scattered six hits—again two were from deGrom.
DeGrom entered the game with a 1.71 ERA and left with a 1.82 ERA but he’s now 5-6 on the season. Sure, wins and losses don’t matter as much as they used to but that’s gotta sting a bit.
DeGrom remained diplomatic when asked those six losses possibly affecting his Cy Young chances saying, “I honestly haven’t thought about it. I want to go out there and put up zeroes and I wasn’t able to do that tonight.” DeGrom should just pitch against his teammates since they always seem to put up zeroes when he’s pitching. And Jacob, don’t lie. You have to have thought about it at some point–you’re only human.
Have you heard of Lourdes Gurriel Jr.? Well, you should because he’s been tearing things up since being called up by the Blue Jays in early July.
On Sunday, he had his 11th consecutive multi-hit game, going 3 for 5 in Toronto’s 7-4 win over the White Sox in Chicago. He’s the first hitter to reach that mark since Tony Perez did it 45 years ago. Gurriel is batting .521 with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBIs during his streak.
This is quite a switch from Gurriel’s previous stint with the Jays in April when he hit .222 with three home runs and a stolen base in 21 games.
Unfortunately, the youngster left the game with an injury trying to avoid a tag at second base. He had a left contusion and sprained left ankle. X-rays were negative but Gurriel will have an MRI to see if there’s any soft-tissue damage.
Defensive play of the Weekend
The Yankees were already up 3-0 with runners on first and second and Romine nearly hit a three-run homer that would have busted the game open. Instead, the inning ended thanks to Phillips’ perfectly timed leap at the fence.
What to watch on Monday
The Phillies are rolling into Boston to face David Price and the Red Sox. Philadelphia is countering with Aaron Nola who’s looking for his 13th win of the season. Price will try for his 12th win. The Phillies have a slim 1-½ game lead over the Braves in the NL East standings.
Houston, which was swept at home this weekend by the Rangers is heading out to Seattle for a three-game series. This is a big series for both teams. Houston currently has a four-game lead over Seattle in the AL West standings while Seattle’s Wild Card lead over Oakland is down to two games. In the first game, James Paxton will be facing Gerrit Cole.
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