Monthly Archives: May 2012

The man in the white coat? Really? It’s come to this again?

Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel, who gave up four solo homers to Jays hitters in a 4-1 loss Wednesday night said he thought the Jays hitters were tipped off to what was coming.

LIVINGSTONE: I can respect a player a lot more when they get roughed up and take it like a professsional – I’m not perfect and these kind of games are going to happen.

Whatever respect there is to be had for Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel – and to be honest, there is not too much considering he’s a mid-level pitcher who has never really had a statistically solid year – it’s all but gone now.

Fans don’t want to hear excuses, but following the 4-1 loss to the Jays Wednesday night in Toronto where Hammel (6-2, 3.06 ERA) gave up four solo shots to Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus. Post-game, Hammel made reference to the ‘man in the white suit’ story that broke last year where a, well, man in a white suit was alleged to be tipping pitches to Jays hitters from the stands at the Skydome. Of course, the story was vehemently denied by Jays management right down to the players in the clubhouse, calling it as they saw it: a ridiculous accusation with no substantiated evidence to even prove it was true, outside of a few opposing players saying it was happening.

There is a lot of luck in baseball. Sure, baseball is built around talent and studying pitchers and hitters to adjust appropriately to the situations a player is placed in. However, sometimes hitters get lucky with aggressive swings maybe considered to be outside the regular scouting report of a hitter and/or team.

In recent years, Jays hitters have been known to be aggressive power hitters who are looking to park the ball. Looking at Hammel’s career in the majors, one could argue maybe he is cheating. With a 40-47 career record and an era of 4.84, Hammels has never been as good as he has been this season. He’s only had winning records in two seasons in the big leagues (10-8 in 2009 and 10-9 in 2010) followed by a 7-13 record in 2011. He’s never been close to an ERA below 4.00 (4.33 in 2009 was the lowest he’s had in a full season), and in fact, has been closer to 5.00 than anything.

To call out a team for ‘cheating’ after they tag you for four home runs (he has now given up seven in total this season) is low. No one in the world of baseball expected the record, ERA or quality that Hammels has shown this season – in fact, giving up four home runs in one game was something people might have thought was more likely from him.

Take your lumps when they come like a professional and don’t make excuses for the fastballs you left over the plate for aggressive hitters to take for a ride.

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The Red Sox Game of Thrones

Robb Stark and Dustin Pedroia, aka Dustin Stark, aka Robb Pedroia, are compared to one another in this column by Write Fielder Andrew McGilligan.

McGILLIGAN:At times, Fenway Park has seemed like a fictitious place full of dysfunction. Secret bands of players gathering to commit acts against the team (eat friend chicken, drinking and playing video games), a good man fired because of the antics of a few (Terry Francona) and others left to pick up the pieces and carry on after a disaster of epic proportions (2011 collapse).

Yes it seems there’s enough dysfunction in Red Sox land that it should be part of Westeros, the mythical land in Game of Thrones. Sadly, there’s more than enough similarities that you can link players from the Red Sox past two seasons with characters from the hit HBO show.

Let’s begin:

Kings Council is Jon Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester

Some of the brightest minds in King’s Landing advise the King and help the King’s Hand navigate the rule of the city. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. Instead, each one was plotting and scheming for personal gain or amusement resulting in the death of a good and noble man in Ned Stark.

The trio of Lackey, Lester and Beckett were supposed to be the veteran core of a team that was favoured to win the World Series. The trio should have been helping guide the club and its younger pitchers (ie. Clay Buccholz and Daniel Bard). Instead they sabotaged the season with the chicken and beer escapades leading to one of the best managers in team history, Terry Francona, being fired.

Ned Stark is Terry Francona

Stark nobly led Winterfell after going to war and winning several battles alongside King Robert Baratheon. The brutal politics and scheming in King’s Landing resulted in Stark being betrayed by those he trusted, imprisoned and ultimately death by execution.

After leading the Red Sox to a pair of World Series victories alongside general manager Theo Epstein, Francona’s place as Boston’s manager should have been secure. However, the selfish antics of some players and the tuning out of his message by others resulted in an epic late-season collapse that must have felt like baseball prison and the ax ultimately fell on his job shortly after.

Robb Stark is Dustin Pedroia

After his father was executed by King Joffrey, Robb set out on a quest to avenge his father and take the Iron Throne away from Joffrey. His fierce nature in battle has earned him universal respect, even among his enemies such as Tywin Lannister, and a good nickname ‘The Young Wolf.’ He is the heart and moral compass of the show, willing to be in the middle of the battle amongst his men.

Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Red Sox and one of its clubhouse leaders. He had a father-son type relationship with Francona and has publicly stated how much he owes his former manager for sticking with him. Pedroia plays hard every day, has the begrudging respect of his opponents and a great nickname in ‘Muddy Chicken.’ He’s even had some choice words for his current manager, the equivalent of mounting an attack on the King, after Bobby Valentine questioned veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

King Joffrey is Bobby Valentine

Amusing for about half a second in the first few episodes, no one wants Joffrey around anymore and every time he opens his mouth something stupid comes out (usually about his prowess with a sword). He can also be incredibly cruel.

This kind of speaks for itself, but let’s explain anyway. His hiring was fine until the season started and the team sucked. Every time he speaks, he says odd things which can usually be classified as stupid or cruel or both (see Kevin Youkilis). Everyone is hoping his reign as manager is short lived.

Sandor Clegan is David Ortiz

Clegan is massive and extremely adept at killing people. However, he receives little to no respect from his superiors or those in positions of power. In the ‘Blackwater’ episode he realizes the futility in what he does and how he will never be respected for it and lashes out saying screw the king and anyone else who wants to tell him what to do.

Ortiz is just as frightening with a bat in his hands as Clegan is with a sword. Big Papi is massive and extremely adept at killing opposing pitching. Earlier this year – after being asked about a team meeting that was not made public – he lashed out saying despite all he’s done he gets no respect from management or the media.

While its been a great run for Game of Thrones thus far, the same can’t be said for the Red Sox. The Fenway Faithful have endured countless indignities during the past two years (they know how Sansa feels) and at times it seems the only way out is a visit from that weird smoke monster.

What do the Texas Rangers have in common with the Buffalo Bills? A lot, actually.

Can the Rangers make it a third trip to the World Series? Pretty good chance, but the question remains – can they actually win it?

McGILLIGAN: Watching the Texas Rangers dismantle the Toronto Blue Jays young pitching staff this past weekend was fun. The Rangers are loaded with talent on all sides of the ball and yet I have zero confidence they can win the World Series.

Can they get to a third-straight World Series? Absolutely.

Will they find a way to lose? Yes.

The Rangers are the Buffalo Bills of Major League Baseball. A team loaded with iconic talent that romps through the regular season, does well in the playoffs, but comes up short when it counts most.

Player wise the similarities are there. You’ve got a once in a generational talent like Josh Hamilton posting ridiculous numbers. He’s the Rangers Bruce Smith who was dominant in the early 90s and posted a season with 101 tackles, four forced fumbles and 19 sacks in 1990.

(NOTE: I could have used Thurman Thomas or Jim Kelly in place of Smith)

Hamilton is surrounded by all-stars in the form of Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus and Joe Nathan. The Bills had a supporting cast of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Darryl Talley, Cornelius Bennet and Andre Reed.

Talent wise, it’s hard to argue either team has or had an equal. However, despite the solid numbers, a narrow defeat (1990 Super Bowl for Bills and 2011 World Series for Rangers) left a black cloud over both squads. The Bills went on to become sort of a punch line in that no other team has lost three-straight Super Bowls and the Rangers don’t want that distinction.

This season, the path looks even clearer for the Ranges to be the American League champs again, but I bet most money would go against them in the World Series.

Right now they look like world beaters, no one can come close to them. But just think back a few months, the Cardinals had no business in that World Series yet they have the rings Texas covets.

LIVINGSTONE: I can’t argue against what McGilligan said above – the Rangers remind me a lot of the Buffalo Bills, loaded with talent but when it comes down to the clutch, that one moment in a game where a guy needs to step up and be the hero when it most counts, they falter.

Not only does the lack of clutch been non-existent the last two World Series the Rangers have played – I’d say the clutch is there this year with the likes of Josh Hamilton looking like he’s from another planet, he could be the player they’ve been waiting for to step up to the plate, so to speak – but so has the pitching. The Rangers aren’t known for their sold starting pitching. They lead the league in nearly every major hitting category – Homeruns (75), average (.278), runs (280), RBI (273), slugging (.477) and OPS (.823) – but winning doesn’t just come down to offense. In close games the Rangers have scored 17 runs in late innings, putting them 23rd in the league with a .252 average (NOTE: all stats courtesy of MLB.com), and are a mere 5-7 in one-run games with four blown saves on the season.

Look, the Rangers are good, but the pitching, after losing CJ. Wilson to free agency, is the team’s biggest question mark. With a 3.40+ ERA good for 11th in the league and opposing hitters hitting .250 (10th) and a 1.29 WHIP (14th), the starters are merely average. The relievers are tops in the league, posting a 2.16 ERA and an opposing average of .194. Great, but we saw a dominate bullpen in Atlanta last season falter come the end of the season due to being overworked.

I guess only time will tell, but I wonder if Texas will be able to ride offense all the way to the World Series championship.

What time does to the memory in re-telling sports stories

Oh, how the story of Curt Schilling’s bloody sock will forever morph as time moves ahead. Certainly, at some point, aliens will be involved in making the sock red.

McGILLIGAN:Time does a lot of funny things to one’s memory.

It can distort facts and happenings of actual events into reasonable facsimiles that we come to accept as truths.

This happens in sports all the time. Stories get exaggerated or blown out of proportion. However, some stories are simply made infinitely better because of the distortions of time. So here’s a smattering of sporting events and how I believe I will come to remember them in 20 years.

Red Sox-Yankees 2004 – Game 6 of the ALCS

The infamous ‘Bloody Sock’ game. Starting pitcher Curt Schilling, who did not look good in Game 1 of the ALCS, pitched a great game despite having an ankle injury that resulted in some bleeding that led to his white sock turning red.

What time will do: I will tell my children that Schilling came out with a ridiculously pronounced limp, fanned 14 Yankees and the bleeding was so bad it had to be soaked up between innings by the grounds crew.

2002 Salt Lake City – Gold Medal Game Men’s Hockey

Canada wins the gold medal by defeating the USA in the final 5-2. Earlier in the tournament, the usually mild-mannered Wayne Gretzky – Team Manager of the Canadian squad – went on a bit of a tirade about Canadian hockey which focused most of the attention on him and took a lot of the pressure off the players.

What time will do: Sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of my home, I will wistfully tell my grandchildren the story of how Gretzky came to be called the Great One. Trailing 2-1 to start the final period, Gretzky decided to come out of retirement. The Great One scored four third period goals – all end-to-end rushes if I remember it correctly – to help Canada wins its first gold medal in 50 years (no need to embellish the last part).

1993 World Series – Game 6

Joe Carter blasts a three-run home run to propel the Toronto Blue Jays to its second World Series title defeating the Philadelphia Phillies. I can still remember jumping up and down in my living room when this happened (I’m a Red Sox fan, but as a Canadian I loved that team).

What time will do: Just moments after being sworn in as a Canadian citizen in the dugout, Carter stepped to the plate and hit the winning home run which smashed through one of the SkyDome’s restaurant windows. The ball landed directly in a plate of fries, how do I know this? It was my plate of fries.

2000 World Series – Game 2 of the Subway Series

After sawing off the bat of Mets catcher Mike Piazza, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens throws part of the broken bat at Piazza while he runs to first base. Clemens tries to claim he thought the piece of jagged lumber he threw was a ball.

What time will do: Probably nothing, some people do such stupid things (like claim to have never used steroids and used the word misremembers) that no embellishment is needed.

The stupidest rules in sports

Rays BJ Upton hit a 200 foot homerun off Kyle Drabek this week, prompting Write Fielders to look at some stupid sports rules.

STRADER: After watching Kyle Drabek suffer the fate of a legendary BJ Upton homerun in his last start, I started to wonder, what are the stupidest rules in sports?

For those who didn’t see it, Drabek got Upton to fly out. Yep. Fly out. It was high, lame, and ready to be caught by Colby Rasmus. Camped under it, Rasmus all of a sudden looked shocked, and struggled to react as the ball plopped to the ground 10 to 15 feet beside him. It was in a dome, and it wasn’t the old Metrodome. For a few moments, even the TV commentators couldn’t figure out what was going on.

And then, it came to light (nice pun, huh?). There are catwalks, gangplanks whatever you want to call them, dangling from the rook of Tropicana Coliseum. They aren’t high enough to be completely out of the way of fly balls, and in a moment of genius, someone in the MLB offices simply decided to steal a page from SkeeBall. Hit a particular ring, and it’s a double. Hit another, a triple, and strike the one Upton struck, and you get to do a homerun trot for what was a 300 foot flyout to centre.

Disgusting? For a stats geek, yes. Upton should be minus one, and so should Drabek’s ERA. They both know it.

Stupid. Definitely.

So I’m going to list my top five stupidest rules in sports (okay, two to six, cause Tropicana’s roof wins top spot), and hope that some of our readers and tweeters will add in their own.

Deciding an elimination game on penalty kicks

I will admit, watching Liverpool beat Milan in 2005 was one of the most exciting sporting matches I’ve ever watched. But are you kidding me? Deciding the Champions League, the World Cup on penalty kicks? Footballers across the world need to rise up against this one (Don’t riot! I’m not inciting riot!  How about just a nice letter writing campaign?). It’s idiotic. Can you imagine the Stanley Cup awarded after a shootout? The World Series after a homerun derby?

The intentional walk

I’ve always hated it. I understand it, and you should be able to decide you’re going to walk a guy, but I paid to watch you pitch. So pitch. If the dips—t wants to swing at stuff off the plate, let him swing. But to have the catcher stand up, and just dance to the side while you lob balls. Come on. Who was it a few years back who took the swing at one that was just too close and got a hit? I believe it was Miguel Cabrera? Genius, pure genius.

Disqualifying a golfer for an unsigned scorecard

It’s a game of honour. We punish ourselves, and we don’t cheat – at least stand up guys don’t cheat. This is the dumbest thing in the sport outside of most of Phil Mickelson’s decisions. Some player completes a gruelling 18-hole round, in 30-35 degree heat, while spending the entire day focused on the leaderboard, their shot making, the 50,000 people standing right beside their ball, they forget to sign their card, and you’re going to take a major from them? Honour should only go so far. This is stupid.

Boxing scoring

Anybody who has been on a playground knows how to score a fight. Who has ever watched their buddy duke it out with a bully, helped him up after getting his ass kicked and said, “Don’t worry about it man, it was close, I had you at 108-105.”

The double fault

In that it shouldn’t exist. “Oops, sorry. Haha. I know, I’ve been practicing that for about 15 years, but let me try again, ok?”

Give me a break.

Field goal kickers everywhere unite.

So, these are mine.

What are yours?

Joe Maddon: Genius or just crazy?

Rays manager Joe Maddon: batting order mad scientist or just plain mad? If putting Carlos Pena in the lead-off spot the last two games is any indication, he may seem like a genius.

LIVINGSTONE: Prior to the start of the day’s games, I always like to look at the starting line-ups. In the first quarter of the season, I’ve become fairly knowledgeable at what to expect from the way a manager arranges his batters to maximize run potential. Lefty out of the line-up due to unfavourable pitching match-up; moving a middle-of-the-line-up guy up a few spots because of a good match-up with the scheduled starter, etc, etc.

In fact, many managers follow a quasi-standard approach to the line-up. Speed at the top, above average power and on-base percentage in the two-hole, power through the middle – with a smattering of speed in there as well – and then so on down the line with a mish-mash of speed, power, contact hitters in the bottom third.

Then there is Joe Maddon.

Looking at the line-up for the Jays-Rays game Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, I wasn’t completely shocked to see the regular clean-up hitter, Carlos Pena, hitting lead-off. Yep, lead-off. Upon first seeing this, I thought maybe it was an error on Maddon’s part, but then remembered that the long-time Rays bench coach likes to think outside the box when it comes to forming his starting line-ups.

The strategy is simple, I think: put together the best possible line-up that will bring the most effectiveness to the offense. Sure, Pena at the top doesn’t bring much speed, but as we saw in the 8-5 victory over the Jays, having Pena at the top paid off in the way of a three-run home run and what would be the turning point for the Rays in taking the game. Yeah, if they’d lost it might have raised questions about the move to put Pena there, say if they needed a speedy contact hitter at a given moment in the game – but that wasn’t the case and Maddon, in his thinking, looked like a genius.

 

 

Ortiz rants, Clemens continues to ruin himself

David Ortiz went on a rant Monday after helping the Sox reach .500 for the first time this season. The topic? How he gets no respect. Cue Aretha Franklin.

McGILLIGAN: A short while after reaching the .500 mark with an 8-6 win against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, the wheels seemed to come off again for the Boston Red Sox.

The normally calm, cool and collected David Ortiz let loose a rant in his postgame interview deriding management and the media. It seems every time it looks like the Sox are about to turn the corner, something bad happens (Cody Ross is out 6-8 weeks with a fractured bone in his foot).

Ortiz seemed to take offence to not being seen as a leader of the team.

“I’m the kind of [expletive] who worries about winning games,” Ortiz told ESPNBoston. “I’m a winner. I hate losing. But what I do, I don’t do for everybody to know. I do it for us to get better and the trash talking out there to stop.”

The outburst came after a question concerning a team meeting that took place in the wake of GolfGate involving Josh Beckett. He then spoke about him not being seen as a good leader or the team being without one since the retirement of veteran players Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek.

“I don’t get no respect,” Ortiz said, channeling a Rodney Dangerfield. “Not from the media. Not from the front office. What I do is never the right thing. It’s always hiding, for somebody to find out.”

Only time will tell if this outburst is a good thing. Perhaps Big Papi just needed to vent and maybe it will solidify him as the public face of the team. He along with Dustin Pedroia is the backbone of the squad and Ortiz has been crushing the ball so far this season. That’s the positive outlook.

The negative view is the Sox have unraveled to the point its upset even the most unflappable of players in Ortiz. While this season may be hard to watch for Sox fans, it’s never dull.

If I have to choose one, I’m going to be an optimist and say the Sox are starting to get it together and Ortiz is simply asserting himself as the Alpha Dog in the room, inviting any future problems be directed to him, leaving his teammates to go about their business. This is what Pedroia did for Kevin Youkilis in the wake of Bobby Valentine’s comments and what someone should have done for Beckett, rather than let him open his mouth and dig himself deeper.

Clemens Trial Update

While it’s been tough watching the Sox struggle, it’s great to see more Yankees implicated in the steroid scandal during the Roger Clemens trial. Clemens former trainer added two more names to the list of Yankees who allegedly cheated/disgraced the game/tarnished an era/made Baby Jesus cry (the last is probably too far) in Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton.

In the case of Knoblauch, what we’ve learned is that taking steroids gives second basemen the yips.  I fully expect this trial to claim even more players in collateral damage. For instance, I think we’re days away from hearing that the trial has upset Mark Texeira to the point that he’s lost his stroke.

It’s a numbers game

After eight years of waiting, and some 3,710 minor league at-bats, Rich Thompson made his way back to the majors. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

McGILLIGAN: Baseball is a game of numbers.

Often times it’s the numbers we look to for an explanation as to why a play happened or who is best suited to pitch or hit in a given scenario.

We use numbers to determine greatness, justify rooting for one player over another or as a way to delve even deeper into a game we love and will never stop calculating.

Sometimes the numbers reveal something you never thought they could. Take for instance 2,944 and 3,710.

Heading into play on Wednesday night, those numbers were a representation of the perseverance and dedication it took Rich Thompson of the Tampa Bay Rays to get back to the major leagues after his first and only plate appearance on April 20, 2004 with the Kansas City Royals.

2,944 was the numbers days between his major league appearances which officially ended when Thompson pinch ran for Luke Scott in the Rays 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox.

3,710 was the number of minor league at-bats he took before returning to MLB.

A great story to be sure, but one that got even better Thursday with two smaller numbers – 1 and 2. In Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, Thompson was in the starting lineup and hit ninth for the Rays. In his second plate appearance in the fourth inning, Thompson singled for his first major league hit and RBI as Sean Rodriguez scored on the play. But Thompson wasn’t done, he made the most of his time on the base paths by stealing both second and third base in the inning.

Of all the numbers used in baseball, it’s hard to imagine any combination could have summed up Thompson’s effort on Thursday.

Now he’s got a new number to worry about, extending his major league hitting streak to two games.

(NOTE: the numbers 2,944 and 3,710 are courtesy of an article on Yahoo! Sports by Kevin Kaduk)

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Ricky Romero’s start against the New York Mets could be a big opportunity for the Jays to get back into the winning ways many fans expect from the squad.

STRADER: I would hate to say that Stephen Brunt stole my thunder, ‘cause really, he’s a messiah of sports writing, and I’m, well, a pretender. But he stole my thunder.

I was going to write about how it’s time to see what John Farrell is made of. After Lawrie’s blow up (I don’t think doing it is right, and I certainly think it’s a suspension, but I’m willing to admit I would have thrown the helmet right at Miller…) it became clear to me that it is time for the Jays to calm down.

Umps are petty.

They have too much power.

And for all we know, they don’t face much retribution either, outside of a well-thrown beer.

With the team facing five series in a row against winning clubs, I thought, oh man, this isn’t good. The first one is the Yankees, and it’s Drabek and Hutchison pitching. This could get ugly.

They could pitch well for their respective ages and experience levels, and the squad could still be looking at five losses in a row going into the Mets series – interleague always seems to be a tornado for the Jays – and oh man, the stories would begin about Lawrie disappointing the team, the young staff showing it’s true colours, yadda yadda yadda…

So it was time for Bautista to take a bad call, for Escobar to stop waving at where he believes the running lane is, for Encarnacion to just get punched out.

Shut up and play ball boys. You’re better than that.

And then Drabek goes out and shows why he was such a highly touted prospect.

Hello Yankees. Here’s my nasty sinker. Deal with it.

8-1, you have to be kidding me.

Now, there’s a chance.

A chance that this run against winning squads and first place squads could result in a turnaround for the record, and the standings. Bautista could keep hitting bombs. Tweaks to the lineup could continue to work out.

Can someone please write about how good D’Arnaud is again? ‘Cause everytime it happens, Arencibia goes medieval on the baseball…

And there’s a chance.

This time, I think it falls on Romero.

Hutchison is still so young, so inexperienced, that to expect a Yankee sweep tonight, a win from him – even though he gets lucky and draws Phil Hughes instead of the tilted hat killer – would be asinine. The Yanks are the Yanks. They’re resilient.

A win by the Jays tonight, like so many things with this team this season, has to be considered gravy.

But tomorrow Romero will go against the Mets. Romero has a chance to get this team back on a good train. Dominate, and open up the weekend for Morrow, Alvarez and Drabek again, who will more than likely give us a chance to win when they toe the rubber.

There’s a chance tonight could be 9-1, but don’t listen to the happy voices today, who will immediately be angry voices again tomorrow if it is, set the brim of your cap low, remember that you’re Ricky Damn Romero, and attack.

We need you.

And then there’s a chance.

I’m also emboldened by one other thing. Lawrie is appealing, and it will be heard by the league.

So there’s another chance.

I believe the league made a statement when they handed him four games.

Ok kid, like the genius words of Chris Rock describing OJ Simpson, I wouldn’t have done it, but I understand.

Now, with the appeal, they can make another statement.

What Lawrie did was wrong. But take a game off of his appeal, and you’re also acknowledging that what Miller did was equally as wrong. Major League Baseball can’t punish umpires for bad calls. We can’t have replay for balls and strikes. Managers would begin arguing everything they disagreed with. It’s the nature of competition, and the human umpire is part of the beauty of baseball.

But just like everyone who will scream for a guy to lose his job when he’s hitting .160, Miller didn’t do his job. I don’t care about code, or circumstance.

His job is simple. He is to be an impartial judge to an entire game. No matter his personal feelings.

Getting plunked is part of the code. But it has consequences.

Not stealing a bag in a blowout is part of the code. Do it, and it has consequences.

What Miller did was deliberate. It was intentional.

I acknowledge as a fan of the game that umpires cannot be punished.

But give Lawrie back one game, and there’s a chance Major League Baseball acknowledges, that they understand.

 

 

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The Trade Market

Albert Pujols certainly doesn’t look like the Albert of the past – but maybe it’s turning around for him. Fantasy buyers and sellers beware of the risk of picking up or trading the greatest hitter of the last decade.

McGILLIGAN:What exactly is Albert Pujols worth today?

It’s not a question many fantasy owners have asked over the years. Having been a perennial top three fantasy producer, Pujols was seen as off limits in trade talks and if he was in the discussion, the price was sky high.

That was until he struggled to find his American League stroke early this season.

What used to be a no-brainer – you can’t trade Pujols – is legitimately up for debate. The question becomes what is he worth and of course that depends on the team you’re dealing with. Does his terribly slow start mean you can offer less than premium players and expect the deal to happen? Or maybe he still commands a ridiculous, and therefore, prohibitive price.

Trading in fantasy baseball is always a fun, but risky proposition.

Trading one of the most consistent players in the history of fantasy baseball is even riskier. So which is the real Pujols? The guy who consistently puts up career averages of .326 with 42 homeruns and 125 RBI or the one hitting .213 with two homers and 17 RBI through 37 games in a new league.

If I had to bet, I would bet on the 32-year-old slugger figuring it out sooner rather than later.  Heading into play Thursday, he has a .310 average (9 for 29) and eight RBI over his past seven games.

If anyone can turn it around, it’s Pujols.

So now might be the time to roll the dice try and buy him at a discounted price. If it works out, you can call yourself a shrewd fantasy manager. If not, you can always blame Pujols for your miserable place in the standings.

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