Toronto Blue Jays Clinch Playoff Spot, But Nobody Notices: The Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first playoff spot in 22 years last night -- ending the longest drought in North American pro sports -- but this went without notice or celebration. The common perception was that they still had a magic number of 1, but it is impossible for the three other teams in contention (Texas, Houston and Los Angeles) to all tie Toronto in wins because they play each other. See the comments for the math that the media overlooked.
Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra passes away: at the age of 90.
Fan Dies After Fall from Upper Deck at Braves Game: A fan in his 60s died after falling over 50 feet from the upper deck at Turner Field Saturday night during a game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees. A fan in Section 401 told NJ Advance Media that the fanflew over her from a row behind her when A-Rod came up to bat, almost as if he jumped. He briefly held a wire connected to the home plate net but lost his grip and landed on concrete next to the section where players' families sit.
Gotta give a shout out: to Mike Fiers for throwing a no hitter at the Dodgers on Friday. Walked 3, one in each of the first 3 innings, and retired the last 21 he faced. Nolan (7 no-nos) Ryan was there, and they met after the game. Seems like a good trading deadline pickup for the Astros.
Little League Team Throws Game at World Series: Little League International officials had to intervene after allegations arose that a team threw one of its games at the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon, on Monday. A Snohomish, Washington, team -- hoping to knock out an Iowa team from the next round it had struggled to defeat -- sat its best players, played all its reserves and told all players to bunt in an 8-0 loss to a team from Salisbury, N.C. "It was very evident right away what was going on. They weren't striving to win," said Central Iowa Little League coach Charlie Husak. Little League International officials responded by making Snohomish play Iowa to advance. Snohomish lost.
Brewers Minor Leaguer Comes Out Publicly as Gay: David Denson, a first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers' rookie league affiliate in Helena, Montana, has become the first active player on an MLB-affiliated baseball team to reveal that he's gay. Denson, 20, started telling some teammates and it expanded to where he was addressing most of the team. "They gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them," he said. "They said, 'You're still our teammate. You're still our brother. ... It started to affect my game because I was so caught up in trying to hide it." A pitcher for an independent minor league team, Sean Conroy, in June became the first active player in pro baseball to go public about being gay.
All 15 MLB Home Teams Won Last Night -- Setting a Record: All 15 home teams won yesterday in Major League Baseball, the first time that's ever happened. If every game was a 50/50 proposition, the odds of this would be 1 in 32,768. The previous record for home victoriousness was when all 12 teams won on May 23, 1914. In other statistical milestone news, Alex Rodriguez is the last active Major Leaguer to make his debut before the 1994 strike.
10 Degrees: It's a historic season for rookies: Never before has baseball seen a group of rookies like the Class of 2015, one so rich in position players that with two months left in the season itís on the verge of being more productive than every previous class in history.
9-Year-Old Bat Boy Dies After Being Struck by Bat: A 9-year-old bat boy died Sunday in the hospital after getting hit in the head with a bat by a baseball player taking practice swings in Kansas a day earlier. Kaiser Carlile was wearing a helmet when he was struck during a Liberal Bee Jays game against the San Diego Waves in Wichita Saturday afternoon. A witness said the boy was running to bring back a bat after an out when he was hit by a batter taking a practice swing. "Kaiser, you were a little brother I never had," player Kadon Simmons said. "You took the field with us every game this summer. You were, and always will be a Bee Jay. No person or team could ask for a better bat boy."
This is the refusal Roberto Clemente got when he asked for a raise [in 1960].
Mookie Betts Turns Out into Homer With Tumble Over Fence: Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts made a great catch on a deep fly ball by Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, but Betts' momentum carried him over the fence and he dropped the ball when he landed in the Red Sox bullpen. Replay review turned the inning-ending out into a home run.
Your 2015 MLB Hall of Fame Class: Craig Biggio, Tom Smoltz (who did not go in as a Detroit Tiger), Randy Johnson (who went in as an Arizona Diamondback), and Pedro Martinez. Justin McGuire of The Sporting News live blogged the event on Sunday.
Jose Bautista calls out Colin Cowherd for insipid remarks about Dominican ballplayers: One of baseballís most vocal sluggers is not happy with Colin Cowherd for the radio hostís negative portrayal of Dominican players, and the MLB Players Association is reportedly equally upset. Saved you a click version: ďItís too complex? Iíve never bought into that 'baseball is too complex.' Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities."
The Justice Department has ended its criminal case against Barry Bonds.: The U.S. Department of Justice will not appeal a court ruling that cleared baseball player Barry Bonds of obstruction of justice in a probe over steroids. The DOJ's move effectively ends the long criminal prosecution of the sport's career home run leader. The slugger was convicted on one obstruction charge in 2011, and the jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. His sentence of two years of probation and 30 days of home confinement was put on hold pending his appeal.
Harold Reynolds Feels Jackie Robinson Could Have Done Better.: Reynolds commented on Jackie Robinsonís age when he made his MLB debut, comparing him to Giants catcher Buster Posey. Robinson was 28 years old when he debuted for the Dodgers in 1947, an age that would be considered ancient in todayís game. Reynolds said Robinson did not make play in a big league until that age because they held rookies back longer during that time and he hadnít completely figured out the game.
Vin Scully calling a hot footing.: It doesn't get any more baseball than this.
GoFundMe Campaign Raising Money for Fenway Fan Struck by Bat: The latest fan at Fenway to get clocked in the stands along the third base line is doing well, but Tonya Carpenter, the one hit by the bat and almost killed, is facing a long recovery, as of a June report. She has needed to relearn to walk and talk and will likely be out of work a year, so a GoFundMe campaign is raising money for her.
MLB All-Star Rosters (and "Final Vote") announced:
Only four Royals made the squad, averting the doomsday scenario of an "all-Royals" squad from earlier voting.
This is Vin Scully's 66th season broadcasting Dodger games. Seriously.:
A goddman national treasure, I will turn on any Dodger games I am awake for on the east coast, and go to sleep listening to him call a game.
Ex-Met Darryl Hamilton found dead in murder-suicide: Former Mets outfielder Darryl Hamilton was identified by police in Pearland, Texas, as one of two victims in a murder-suicide.
Max Scherzer Has Perfect Game Through 8 2/3, But Hits Tabata: Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer came within one strike of throwing a perfect game Saturday, but hit Jose Tabata on the elbow on a pitch Tabata leaned into. He then got Josh Harrison to fly out for a no-hitter. This follows a one-hitter on his last start, prompting an ESPN report to call this "perhaps the most dominant consecutive starts in the majors since Johnny Vander Meer pitched back-to-back no-hitters for Cincinnati in 1938." This was Scherzer's first no-hitter and the second in Nats history. He was drenched in chocolate syrup by teammates afterwards.
The stories of Lonnie Smith.:
SBNation's Jon Bois has produced a third episode of his "Pretty Good" videos, and this one is about (possibly) the most interesting athlete of the 1980s, Lonnie Smith.
(Warning: There be some cursing in this here video.)
St. Louis Cardinals Investigated by F.B.I. for Hacking Astros: The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors are investigating whether front-office officials for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball over the past two decades, hacked into internal networks of a rival team to steal closely guarded information about player personnel.
Fan at Fenway Struck by Broken Bat, Fighting for Life: A female spectator was taken away on a stretcher after she was struck by a broken bat during Friday night's game between the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The fan was admitted to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, according to Boston police. The incident occurred when Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie shattered his bat and part flew into the third-base side box seats. Alex Merlis, a fan sitting a row behind the woman, told ESPN the bat hit her forehead and the top of her head. He said, "It was violent. She bled a lot. A lot. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that."
WTF MLB? Baseball Strikes Out With Its Streaming Policies.: Iowa is supposed to be heaven for baseball fans Ė 'Field of Dreams' and all that. But if you want to stream MLB games, it's a virtual hell.
Phillies GM: Our Fans 'Don't Understand the Game': Hey, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., the team's 19-28 record stinks and fans would like to see two of your top pitching prospects now at Double A. What do you think about that? "They don't understand the game. They don't understand the process. There's a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don't have a plan. There's a plan in place and we're sticking with the plan. We can't do what's best for the fan. We have to do what's best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That' the truth."
Corey Kluber Strikes Out 18 in 8, But Doesn't Pitch 9th: Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber had 18 strikeouts through eight innings last night against the St. Louis Cardinals, a performance ESPN's David Schoenfield suggests might have been "the greatest performance in major league history." He took a no-hitter into the seventh and was at 113 pitches with just one hit. He was two strikeouts from tying the record shared by Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. But Brad Mills, who took Terry Francona's spot as manager after his ejection during the game, didn't send him out for the ninth. "Millsy knows what he's doing," Francona said afterwards.
Chris Rock on baseball losing the Black market: HBO's Real Sports offers up this seven-minute monologue featuring Rock's memories of growing up a Mets fan in the 80's and his perspective on the (fairly commonly accepted) idea that MLB is failing to keep the attention of African-Americans.
Fan Injured by Airborne Baseball Bat at Wrigley Field: A fan sitting a few rows back near the on-deck circle was struck by a bat that left the hands of Chicago Cubs rookie Addison Russell during a game Monday night. The fan has been hospitalized for his injuries. "When the bat was in mid-flight, my mind was screaming 'watch out, watch out,'" Russell said. "I saw the kid's glasses fly, and it wasn't pretty. I feel very bad." He said he hopes to give the fan an autographed bat.
Rangers Close to Trade with Angels for Josh Hamilton: The Texas Rangers are close to completing a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for Josh Hamilton, according to media reports from Dallas/Fort Worth media. Radio host Ben Rogers tweeted, "My guess is that no big contracts will be traded back to the Angels. I expect this will be the Angels paying a ton of his salary." Hamilton is currently both an injury and a substance abuse concern. He's rehabbing offseason shoulder surgery and self-reported his third drug abuse relapse since 2009.
Remaining conviction against Barry Bonds is overturned.: More than 7 years after the original indictment (4 perjury, 1 obstruction of justice), Bonds is found not guilty of all charges.
Fan Hit in Head by Foul Ball Through Home-Plate Netting: A fan behind home plate at PNC Park in Pittsburgh was struck in the back of the head Monday night, necessitating a 23-minute delay as she was treated and stretchered off. She was standing behind the home-plate netting, but close enough to be struck anyway. Tim Kirkjian responded on ESPN that fans who don't watch the ball during a game are in serious danger, especially along the base lines close to home, but how many fans are fast enough to react even if they're paying attention?
Bryan Stow Throws Out First Pitch at Minor League Game: The San Francisco Giants fan beaten outside Dodger Stadium threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener for the San Jose Giants, a team where he used to be a paramedic before he was left brain damaged in the attack four years ago. Stow still suffers memory loss and concentration issues but is able to walk and stand for short periods and gave newspaper interviews before the ceremony. "I'm excited about it," Stow told a newspaper.
Who are the "Franchise Four"?:
A chance to vote for the four players on each franchise (plus 3 other categories) who have had the biggest impact on those franchises. The winners are to be revealed during the MLB All-Star Game.
Around the ballparks.: In celebration of opening day, the best food in the MLB.
LA Dodgers set MLB payroll record.:
$277,000,000 for this season.
Yankees Have Most Improved Shortstop WAR in Baseball: The New York Yankees have the Majors' biggest projected improvement in wins above replacement (WAR) at shortstop this season -- according to Fangraphs -- and it's all because Derek Jeter retired. Neil Paine of 538 notes, "[T]he Yankees had the least-productive shortstop situation in all of baseball last year, so even a shortstop depth chart headlined by Didi Gregorius was bound to be one of the game's most improved in 2015." There are some other gems in the stats. The Texas Rangers have a +3.7 at first base because they've replaced Prince Fielder ... with Prince Fielder.
"Relievers behind Wright have surrendered an insane two home runs in 107 2/3 innings. That's one-fifth what we'd expect based on their typical performance. If Wright were to make 30 starts in a season, that would translate to roughly an extra win for his team. Starters were about a half-run better in ERA and a run better in FIP when the other team had been thrown off by Wright's knuckleball. Add it up, and Wright could be worth in the range of two wins simply by taking the ball, let alone what he could provide by pitching well."