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Sunday, April 14, 2013
The Baseball Historian's Notes for April 14, 2013
The 2013 baseball season has gotten off to a
rollicking start. From Yu Darvish’s near-perfect game to the exciting emergence of young players like New York
Matt Harvey, there has been a lot of good stuff
for fans to digest. For all the fun baseball provides, the game also sometimes
has a darker side. This week seemed to have ongoing negativity popping up
around baseball. Hopefully these moments represent the worst the season will
experience and fans can get back to enjoying some great action.
***In the big story from last week, Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Zack Greinke hit San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin with
a pitch. Quentin charged the mound and in the melee, Greinke broke his
collarbone and will miss the next two months.
Dodgers’ star outfielder Matt Kemp seemed to be
the angriest person in the entire brawl. It took several minutes to calm him
down, sort out the mess and eject the appropriate players before the game could
resume. It wasn’t finished there, as Kemp confronted Quentin in the players’ parking lot after the game and had
to be restrained by an on-duty police officer.
Greinke and Quentin have a divisive history going
back several seasons. Grantland’s Jonah Keri did an excellent job of breaking down the brawl and going
over what led up to the unfortunate incident.
Quentin was suspended eight games but
many have said he deserves to be out until Greinke
Nobody but Greinke can say for certain if the
pitch was intentional, but generally speaking, brawls in baseball are stupid. They
serve no purpose other than putting testosterone-fueled bravado on display and
making grown men look like petulant children on a playground. MLB needs to take
note and develop a harsher strategy in dealing with this problem. The NBA and their zero-tolerance policy
for players leaving the bench during a game may be a good starting pointfor such a policy.
***The Toronto Blue Jays’ hopes for contending
this season took a major hit on Friday when shortstop Jose Reyes severely sprained his ankle sliding into second base on a stolen base attempt. The
replay of the injury was gruesome, and Reyes was in tears as he was attended to
on the field. A subsequent MRI showed no structural damage, but the sprain was
bad enough that he is expected to be out of action until the All-Star break.
Reyes was the centerpiece of a massive trade this past offseason with the Miami Marlins that
reinvigorated Toronto’s roster for a presumed playoff run. Although the team
was just 4-6 at the time of his injury, his .395 batting average and five
stolen bases led the team. His extended absence will be a huge blow, so the
team will have to try
and stay on track until their star can return.
***The Oakland A’s, off to a scorching 9-4 start, lost one of their best players when outfielder Yoenis
Cepsedes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his hand after making an awkward
catch. Perhaps the team’s best all-around player, his presence in the lineup
will be missed.
The 26-year-old Cuban was hitting .200 with three
home runs and seven RBI at the time of his injury.
It may be too soon to start assigning labels, but
Cespedes missed 33 games last season and is already making a trip to the DL in
his second year as a major leaguer. He is so important to Oakland that
hopefully he can shake what is becoming an alarming trend of injuries.
***The honeymoon appears to be over for new
Boston Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan. Acquired this past offseason in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was expected to lock down
the ninth inning for Boston after suffering through the inconsistencies of
Andrew Bailey and Alfredo Aceves last year.
Hanrahan has been horrible so far in 2013, allowing three walks and three home runs in just 4.2 innings, while sporting an 11.57 ERA. The Boston Globe’s Peter
Abraham tweeted that he has permitted 11 of the 25 batters he has faced to
Hanrahan had 36 saves and a 2.72 ERA last year with the
Pirates, other numbers suggest he actually had a poor season. His walks and
home runs allowed
per nine innings were his highest since his rookie season. Additionally, FanGraphs.com indicates his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 4.45. That number seeks to
evaluate a pitcher’s performance if pitching with a league-average defense.
Hanrahan’s mark is considered well below average.
Initially, Boston manager John Farrell emphatically
stated no change would be in the offing. However, it was announced the following day that
an ailing hamstring was affecting Hanrahan’s mechanics and that Bailey would be
taking over for a few days to give him a break.
***Now, for a lighter moment. In the age of the
internet, dozens, if not hundreds, of fans are embarrassed annually when video
footage of them flubbing catching a ball in the stands is put on full display.
Quite the opposite happened for Johnny Turk, who made a jaw-dropping play on a foul ball at a Seattle Mariners-Houston Astros game
Loathe to drop a beverage he undoubtedly spent a pretty penny on, Turk instead used
cup of beer as an impromptu glove to make the catch. He then
proceeded to down contents of his cup (minus the ball) amid uproarious cheers
from the Seattle crowd.
Offering further proof that this is the age of
the internet, ESPN.com’s Jim Caple reported that by the time of the first pitch of the
Mariners’ game the following day, Turk had already launched a website that was
selling t-shirts commemorating his catch for $22 (or about 20 ounces of
beer at an average MLB game).