Albert Pujols Hits 499th, 500th Homer: Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols homered twice at Nationals Park Tuesday to become the 26th member of baseball's 500-home run club. In the first, Pujols crushed a 1-1 changeup from right-hander Taylor Jordan well over the fence in left field for a three-run homer that gave his team the early lead. In the fifth, he took a 1-2 sinker from Jordan and lined one to left-center field, just to the right of the Angels' bullpen, to give the Angels a 6-2 advantage. Pujols, the first player to hit 400 homers in his first 10 seasons, has now homered off 316 pitchers in 36 different ballparks and against 29 of the 30 teams (St. Louis being the lone exception).
Photo of Delino DeShields Jr. After Fastball Rearranged His Face: Houston Astros prospect Delino DeShields Jr. was hit in the face by a 90-mph fastball in a game for Double A Corpus Christi. He suffered a "a non displaced maxillary sinus fracture (left cheek)," according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The photo he tweeted shows what that experience is like.
Bench-Clearing Brawl Between Pirates, Brewers: A slow home run trot on what turned out to be a triple sparked a bench-clearing brawl between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers Sunday. A deep fly to center by Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez stayed in the park and Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole said something to him after he was safe at third. When Pirates outfielder Travis Snider left the bench and said something to Gomez he began throwing haymakers. Gomez, Snider and Brewers coach Jerry Narron were ejected. The game is tied 1-1 in the 8th.
Brewers' Maldanado Knocks Cover Off the Ball: Milwaukee Brewers catcher Martin Maldanado hit a grounder that knocked the cover off the ball in Friday's win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez fielded it and threw to first, but in the words of one announcer, "it flew like a napkin" and Maldanado was safe.
Braves' Aaron Harang Has No-Hitter Through 7: Atlanta Braves pitcher Aaron Harang has a no-hitter through seven innings tonight on the road against the New York Mets. Harang has thrown 121 pitches and walked six. The Braves lead 1-0.
Doug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Driveway: Former Major Leaguer and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville has written an essay for The Atlantic about a troubling experience: "It was an otherwise ordinary snow day in Hartford, Conn., and I was laughing as I headed outside to shovel my driveway. ... The snow had finally stopped coming down and this was my mid-afternoon window of opportunity. Just as I was good-naturedly turning all this over in my mind, my smile disappeared. A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction."
Chris Resop - The Most Interesting Reliever in the World.:
I went looking for these videos in search of a pattern; maybe a pattern of pitch location, or pitch type. What I found was something far more fascinating.
Yankees Go Around the Horn for Triple Play: In the second inning of Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees completed an around-the-horn triple play -- third baseman Yangervis Solarte to second baseman Brian Roberts to first baseman Scott Sizemore. Rays batter Sean Rodriguez, who hit the grounder, also hit into a triple play against the Boston Red Sox in 2011.
Secret Service Once Threatened to Kill Mr. Met: "We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen. Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?" -- Secret Service agent in 1997 to Mr. Met, as related in Yes, It's Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots
Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig's Untold Journey to the Dodgers: What was this gladiator-size man, with the Popeye forearms and the XXL chest, actually worth—to the people bankrolling his defection from Cuba
Steinbrenner: We Don't Need Stephen Drew: New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said the team's infield injuries have not changed his mind about signing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who's looking for a multi-year deal at $14 million per year. "I'm pretty content with our infield right now," he said. "I think guys like Anna and Solarte have been pleasant surprises." David Lennon of Newsday writes, "The Yankees are playing a dangerous game with their lack of infield depth. "But it's only mid-April, and the Yankees seem to be banking on the best-case scenario for their hurting infield."
Rays' Matt Moore to Have Tommy John Surgery: Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore has scheduled Tommy John surgery for next week, ending his 2014 season and making it a challenge for him to be ready by the start of 2015. Moore, 24, has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He left the game April 7 with elbow soreness. He was a 17-game winner and All Star for the team last year.
MLB Admits Error in Calling Gwynn Out at Home: A play at the plate in Sunday's Philadelphia Phillies-Miami Marlins game was decided incorrectly, Major League Baseball officials said. Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis illegally blocked the plate before he had the ball on a Tony Gwynn Jr. slide home Sunday (see the video). Gwynn was called out and it was upheld by replay. The Phillies won 4-3. The new rule states, "unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score."
Red Sox Manager Rips Replay After Ejection: Boston Red Sox skipper John Farrell has become the first to be ejected for arguing a replay decision. A day after Major League Baseball announced that a replay call against the Red Sox was decided incorrectly, Farrell watched an inning-ending double play be reversed, putting a Yankees run on the board. He thought the replay of a close play at first against Yankees runner Francisco Cervelli was inconclusive. "It's hard to have any faith in the system," Farrell said.
Video: Ball Girl Saves Run in Baltimore: A Baltimore Orioles ball girl made a terrific play on a sharp drive down the line by Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday. Unfortunately, it was a fair ball, resulting in a ground rule double that put runners on second and third. Toronto won 11-3.
Chicago Cubs Decide to Start Seeing Other Closers: Two blown saves from Jose Veras were all the Chicago Cubs needed to see. Headline 17 hours ago: Cubs' Renteria stands by Veras. Headline 5 hours ago: Veras loses closer role.
Granderson Touched by Fan While Making Play: New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson angrily confronted a fan who touched him on the back as he was making a play during Friday night's loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Granderson made a catch in the right field corner, then was throwing the ball back as the incident occurred. "Say whatever you want to say. Boo, cheer, clap, cheer for your team, cheer for the other team. But just don't physically touch the players," he said.
Was Michael Pineda caught cheating: It looked brown and sticky and it was all over Michael Pineda's right throwing hand at some point during Thursday's game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. But what, exactly, was it?
A's Demote Closer Jim Johnson After 8 Games: Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Jim Johnson, acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles to be the A's closer this season, has been demoted from the job. Manager Bob Melvin said Thursday morning he's "going to give Jim a break." ESPN's David Schoenfeld notes, "Johnson has faced 26 batters so far and 16 of them have reached base.
Exceptionally Small Crowds Greet New Baseball Season: The New York Times has a 10-photo slideshow today with tens of thousands of fans disguised as empty seats at Major League ballparks in Kansas City, Cleveland, Toronto, Miami and New York City. The paper calls the attendance, even for the spring when colder weather keeps some fans at home, "especially bleak."
Oops: Atlanta Braves Set Fire to U.S. Flag: The Braves home opener doubled as William Tecumseh Sherman Night.
Josh Hamilton Needs Thumb Surgery: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton needs thumb surgery for an injury that occurred in Tuesday night's game, the MLB Network reported Wednesday afternoon. During a head-first slide, Hamilton suffered a torn capsule and partially torn UCL and will be out an anticipated 6-8 weeks.
Tigers Pitcher Evan Reed Investigated in Alleged Sexual Assault: Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Evan Reed, who just made his first Opening Day roster since being a third-round draft pick in 2007, is being investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault March 30, the Detroit Free Press reports. A 45-year-old woman seen on surveillance video entering Motor City Casino with Reed alleges that he drugged and sexually assaulted her, a "source familiar with the investigation" told the newspaper.
Can the Major League Snuff Out Its Smokeless Tobacco Habit?: "I made it through the whole game without dip, so that was a bigger victory than beating the Braves." -- Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond on Sunday. A presentation to the Smokeless Tobacco Summit describes the long history of its use in baseball and the health consequences. The first restrictions on smokeless tobacco were put in Major League Baseball two seasons ago, but it's still permitted for players to do it during games. The use of chewing tobacco among high school boys has been rising since 2003, up to 15 percent.
Mets Closer Bobby Parnell to Have Tommy John Surgery: The New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell has changed his mind and will have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, ending his season. After Parnell blew a save on opening day, an MRI revealed a partially torn medial collateral ligament. Rehab from the surgery typically takes 12 to 15 months. Parnell, 29, had 22 saves for the Mets last season.
New Home Plate Rule Confuses Yankees: The New York Yankees lost a run at home Saturday on a play where they believe the plate was illegally blocked. New rules this season don't allow a catcher to block the plate before the ball arrives, part of an effort to reduce violent collisions. Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole was straddling the plate as Francisco Cervilli ran home and tagged the runner out. The Yankees lost 4-0. "This is going to be the toughest replay of all of them because it's such a judgment," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The way it was explained to us, if the catcher is in front of home plate toward third base, straddling the base, that is considered blocking home plate if you don't have the ball. And I believe that's how it was."
Pirates Give Hurdle, GM Three-Year Extension: Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle have signed three-year contract extensions that each include an option for the 2018 season. The Pirates were 94-68 in 2013, their first winning season since 1992, and reached the NLDS. Hurdle's in his fourth season as skipper, winning Manager of the Year honors last year. Huntington became GM in 2007.
Ian Desmond Loses Inside-the-Park Home Run on Replay: Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond had an inside-the-park home run changed to a ground-rule double on Friday, a huge call in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Desmond drilled a ball into the left field corner, where it went under padding. Braves left fielder Justin Upton didn't attempt to field the ball, raising his hands to get the ground-rule call, but then fielded it easily as Desmond reached third.
Would You Bat Bryce Harper Sixth?: ESPN's David Schoenfield and the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore puzzle over the decision by newbie Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams to bat Bryce Harper sixth against the New York Mets Wednesday. Harper hasn't batted from a spot that low since the first four games of his career. "For all the sabermetric advances in the game, such as the increased use of infield shifts, a lot of managers still use sub-optimal batting orders, failing to realize you're better off getting one of your best hitters higher in the order instead of worrying about having an RBI guy batting fifth or sixth," Schoenfield writes.
Four strikes and you're out: A study of more than one million pitches reveals "Umpires want to make the right call, but they also don't want to make the wrong call at the wrong time. Ironically, this prompts them to make bad calls more often." Illustrated with some nice heat maps.
Some Indians Fans Are De-Chiefing Their Gear: Cleveland Indians fans have begun to protest the team's use of the racially questionable Chief Wahoo logo by removing it from their hats and jerseys. Paul Lukas of ESPN's Uni-Watch writes, "This is the 'de-Chiefing' phenomenon, a form of silent protest by a small but growing number of Indians fans who love their team but are opposed to the Wahoo logo, which they view as an offensive caricature." De-chiefing Cleveland fan Michael Kaus said, "I've always been anti-Wahoo. I'm ashamed that it's part of the face of my team. It's embarrassing that we're holding on to this. If it had any other context, it would clearly be viewed as racist."
Expanded Replay Makes Debut in Baseball: Opening Day featured the first managers' challenges under Major League Baseball's new expanded replay system. Each manager gets one challenge per game, two if the first call is overturned. The first five reviews Monday were resolved in under two and a half minutes. "It's kind of weird going out there. You used to go out there to kind of argue with the umpire. Now you go out there to say, 'Hey, I didn't see it good. What did you have?'" said Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
Angels Hitting Coach Don Baylor Breaks Leg On Ceremonial First Pitch: Never seen that before ... Here's to a speedy recovery for "Groove..."
Dodgers Set Record with $234 Million Payroll: The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their season Sunday night with a payroll of $234 million, a new record for Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees are second at $199 million, ending a 15-year streak of being the league's highest paid team. The cheapest team for the second year in a row are the Houston Astros, who have a $45 million payroll.
Baseball Fan Hurt in 30-Foot Fall in Montreal: A fan fell 30 feet from the bleachers during a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets Friday night, marring the return of Major League Baseball to the city for the first time since 2004. Eyewitnesses said the man was attempting to get the wave started when he planted his feet on the rail's bottom rung, leaned towards the field, lost his footing and fell to the concrete below. He suffered serious injuries and is hospitalized in stable condition.
Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera agree to 8 year extension: Miguel Cabrera’s bid to become one of the greatest hitters of all time apparently will take place in a Detroit Tigers uniform. Fox Sports reports the extension is for 8 years and $248 million ($31 million per year), the second deal in baseball history worth at least $30 million per season.
Doctors Staple Aroldis Chapman Back Together: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman shared a photo of his stapled head on social media after surgery Thursday. The Cuban Missile was struck by a line drive in a spring training game Wednesday and suffered a broken bone above his left eye and a slight concussion. He told fans, "everything is fine thanks to God we are already out of any kind of trouble." Video of the play.
What is the best possible season a player could have?: "Our superhuman player is only 20 wins better than Danny Worth, and getting to that superhuman player was pretty difficult. This makes you think about how small the difference is between terrible and great in baseball and why the games are so entertaining. Even the worst teams manage to win and the best teams manage to lose, and this illustrates why that's the case."
Giants Fan Bryan Stow's Attackers Sentenced: Two California men were sentenced to prison Thursday for the severe beating of a San Francisco Giants fan after a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. Marvin Norwood, 33, and Louie Sanchez, 31, were sentenced to four years and eight years, respectively. The men were harshly criticized by Judge George Lomeli. Sanchez smirked during the judge's admonishment. "You show no remorse whatsoever," Lomeli said. Stow is disabled and unable to care for himself, said his father, David. Caregivers and family members shower, dress and feed Stow, who takes 13 medications a day, said his sister Bonnie Stow.
Derek Jeter to Retire From Yankees After 2014 Season: Shortstop Derek Jeter, entering his 20th season with the Yankees, announced Wednesday on his official Facebook fan page that 2014 would be his final year playing professional baseball.