Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 8:26 pm

On Deck: Looking out West


By Matt Snyder

Thursday afternoon had one matinee, while the Pirates and Phillies both have the day off. That leaves us with 13 games for the night. Let's take a trip out West for three storylines.

Kershaw looks to stop two streaks: The Dodgers are in an absolute tailspin, having lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. The good news for the Dodgers is that staff ace, All-Star and MLB strikeout leader Clayton Kershaw (8-4, 3.23) takes the mound Thursday night. He's going to have his hands full, too, because he's facing the Mets away from Citi Field. The Mets are 26-20 on the road, including winning three in a row and seven of their last eight. The only loss was against Justin Verlander, so it can be pretty easily forgiven. In those seven wins, the least amount of runs they've scored is five. They've even gone the last three with Jose Reyes. Dillon Gee (8-2, 3.47) is the Mets' starter. New York (NL) at Los Angeles (NL), 10:10 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

Texas taking off? The Rangers got off to a scorching hot start this season but have been pretty mediocre since. Each time it feels like the defending AL champs are going to take off, they scuffle for a short stretch. They recently lost two of three to the Marlins but are now coming off a sweep of the Orioles and begin a four-game series against the A's Thursday night. This could be the perfect opportunity to go into the All-Star break with some serious momentum. They'll square off against a former teammate, Rich Harden, for the first time since he departed. Harden was on the disabled list all season until making a quality start and picking up the victory July 1 against the Diamondbacks. It will be interesting to see which Harden shows up, because he can be dominant. Derek Holland (6-4, 5.10) gets the nod for the Rangers. Oakland at Texas, 8:05 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

Weaver's All-Star tuneup? Angels' starting pitcher Jered Weaver is probably the front-runner to be the American League starter in the All-Star Game next Tuesday, and Thursday evening he'll make his final start before the break. The Angels have fallen a game back of the Rangers in the AL West, so they'll once again need Weaver to step up. The odds are pretty good that he will, as Weaver is locked in again, just like he was in April. Also, he's facing a Mariners team that has scored either zero or one run 22 times this season. Doug Fister (3-9, 3.02) gets the task of matching pitches with Weaver. Seattle at Los Angeles (AL), 10:05 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:10 am

Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams dies

By Evan Brunell

WilliamsHall of Fame manager Dick Williams has passed away due to a brain aneurysm, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Williams (photo, right) was 82 years old and had lived in Las Vegas since retiring there in 1991. He had two World Series titles with the Athletics in 1972 and '73 and also led the Red Sox to the AL pennant during the Impossible Dream year of 1967, the same season Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown -- the last player to ever accomplish the feat.

That was Williams' first season as a manager. He was 38. He spent three years in town and gained a reputation as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, taking over the A's in 1971 and departing after the '73 World Series, moving to a three-year stint with the California Angels. The well-traveled skipper then took over the Expos for three full seasons before being fired in the midst of the Expos' stretch drive when his act alienated players.

He then skippered San Diego for four years, winning the NL pennant in 1984, then wrapped up his career with three years in Seattle, retiring at age 59. All told, Williams managed from 1967 to 1988 -- except the 1970 season -- and racked up a 1,571-1,451 record. He is the only manager to win pennants with three different teams. Williams' claim to fame was turning teams into winners, as Boston, Montreal, Oakland and San Diego can attest to.

But that's not all Williams was known for. He played first base, third base and outfield during a 13-season career started in Brooklyn. He eventually moved to Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City and ended his playing career with two years in Boston from 1963-64, retiring with 3,265 plate appearances and a .260/.312/.392 line. Early on, he was a bench player, but from 1956-61 he racked up 2,607 plate appearances. His career high for games-played in a season was 130 in 1959.

Williams joined the Hall of Fame in 2008 following induction by the Veterans Committee, and he chose to wear an Oakland cap.

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 1:43 pm

Pepper: Hurdle responds to Bochy comments

Barry Zito seeks his third straight win since coming off the DL while Jered Weaver looks to keep his hot streak going. Eye on Baseball Blogger Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss those storylines and more in this edition of Baseball Today.

By Evan Brunell

ALL-STAR CRITICISM: Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't happy about criticism that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Marlins manager Jack McKeon leveled about his choices on who made the All-Star roster. Hurdle was annoyed that Andrew McCutchen hadn't made the team while McKeon questioned the selection of Bochy's player in Tim Lincecum.

Well, Hurdle fired back after hearing Bochy's comments, specifically that Hurdle and McKeon never lobbied for their players while other managers did, so how can they speak out against the selections?

"I don't think lobbying is a part of what you do in that position," said Hurdle, who has experience with the All-Star Game, managing it in 2008 when he represented the Rockies. "He's earned that opportunity by winning the National League championship. I just have never lobbied, and I never got any calls from any other managers lobbying the year I did it."

Hurdle did apologize if his comments were hurtful to Bochy.

"I have the most professional respect for Boch," Hurdle said. "He's a better manager than I'll ever be. My feelings came from the heart. Diplomacy, I guess, wasn't at the top of my list that day, and I can understand that as well.

"I've been on the other end of that. I just know that I took it with a grain of salt, and he felt he made the best decision for the National League because that's his job to represent. I wish the National League nothing but the most success that we go out and win the game.

"We've known each other back to when we were 16 years old. I can understand he's disappointed in what I had to say. I can deal with that."

McCutchen still has a chance to get on the roster as Ryan Braun from Milwaukee is hobbled by an inflamed tendon, and if he cannot play this weekend, will pull out of the game. (MLB.com)

ALL-STAR INVITE: Albert Pujols says he would be honored to go to the All-Star Game should he be selected as a replacement. Pujols missed his chance at going to the game thanks to his wrist injury, but could still squeak in as players pull out because of injuries or other reasons. It's possible Pujols could replace Braun. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

DODGER DEBACLE: More information in the saga that just won't go away. MLB has filed a motion that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt should not have the right to see various documents that McCourt is requesting, alleging that releasing the documents would turn the bankruptcy court hearing into "a multi-ringed sideshow of mini-trials on his personal disputes." (Los Angeles Times)

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Davey Johnson has never ordered a suicide squeeze, per his own recollections. That changed Wednesday night for the Nationals. Wilson Ramos dropped a successful bunt, allowing Mike Morse to cross the plate with what turned out to be the winning run. (CSN Washington)

WHAT EYE PROBLEM? Mike Stanton visited an ophthalmologist Wednesday and received eye drops to combat an eye infection that has sent him spiraling into a slump. He's received eye drops and apparently they worked as he slammed a walk-off home run against the Phillies on Wednesday night to give the Marlins a victory. (MLB.com)

YOU'RE NO PUJOLS: Apparently Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo is hoping to pull an Albert Pujols and get back on the field earlier than expected. After breaking his left thumb and staring at a diagnosis of eight-to-10 weeks out, Choo is telling friends he believes he can be back in early August. Given how fast Pujols returned, I suppose you can't rule it out, but ... well, don't go wagering on an early Choo return. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

YEAH AND NO: That was the Dodgers' Andre Ethier's answer when asked if he was pleased with his performance so far. Hitting a career-high .317 is great, but Ethier's seven home runs are a sudden loss of power for someone who slammed 31 two seasons ago. (Los Angeles Times)

WORKHORSE: Justin Verlander has made 37 consecutive starts of 100-plus pitches, which is tops in baseball all the way back to 1999, and probably a bit farther back, too. Second place boasts Felix Hernandez at 32 consecutive games from 2009-10, while Randy Johnson pops up multiple times. (Baseball-Reference)

UNSAVORY COMPARISON: Just three months into Jayson Werth's massive seven-year deal with Washington, and he's already being compared to another player who was a colossal bust on his own big deal, not that it was his fault for the team throwing ill-advised money at him. "Him" is Alfonso Soriano, and that's definitely company Werth does not want to be associated with. (Washington Post)

JONES HURTING: Chipper Jones admitted he shouldn't have played Tuesday after he received a cortisone shot for a meniscus tear as he is trying to avoid surgery. “I just didn’t feel right [Tuesday]," he said. "Not having that first step quickness, you favor it. It’s hard to stay on back of it right-handed, swinging the bat. Just one of those things we’ve got to continue to monitor and deal with.” For his part, Jones says he was perfectly fine for Wednesday's game. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

FIGGINS BENCHED: Finally. Chone Figgins has been benched and has easily become one of the largest albatrosses in the game. Figgin's replacement is Kyle Seager, who was promoted from the minors and will stay at third for the foreseeable future. (Seattle Times)

BARGAIN: Who were the best bargains signed as free agents in the winter? There are some worthy candidates in Bartolo Colon, Erik Bedard, Ryan Vogelsong and Brandon McCarthy. Fine seasons, all. But the best bargain is another pitcher, Phil Humber. Hard to disagree. (MLB Daily Dish)

CRAWFORD EN ROUTE: The Red Sox can't wait to get Carl Crawford back, and it looks as if that will happen after the first series back, which is in Tropicana Field. The Sox want to avoid Crawford playing on artificial turf right away, so a July 18 return in Baltimore appears likely (Providence Journal)

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 3:54 pm

Pepper: Harper was 'bored' in Class A

What is the latest with Jon Lester? What will the Yankees get out of the return of Phil Hughes? Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

By Evan Brunell

BORED: Bryce Harper admitted he was "bored" in Class A in a CSN Washington interview, as the Washington Post recaps. The 2010 No. 1 pick said he had developed bad habits over his last 20 games with Hagerstown. Those 20 games represent 25 percent of Hagerstown's entire season.

“Those last 20 games, I was really, you know, really not too focused,” Harper said. “You know, I was wanting to get out of there, doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. And once I got [to Harrisburg Monday night], baseball was fun again. It was a lot of fun being out here, being in this kind of crowd, this type of atmosphere. You know, that’s what you live for.”

Harper hit .318/.423/.554 in 72 games for Hagerstown before the promotion and had 14 home runs. On one hand, it's understandable that Harper got bored with the level as the 18-year-old really didn't have much left to prove. One could also argue the Nationals shouldn't have left him in Hagerstown so long. Even a high-Class A promotion could have sparked Harper's interest. On the other hand, it's a sobering revelation that Harper fell into bad habits because he was bored. Again, he's only 18 and was playing in Class A, so no sweeping proclamations should be made here that would follow Harper for the rest of his career. But unless he matures in this area he could face sticky situations in the future. What if Harper, expected to be a perennial MVP candidate in Washington, gets bored after his second MVP award, falling into bad habits and tailing off? What if the Nationals aren't contenders? Will this be Zack Greinke all over again?

Harper did say that he won't pressure Washington for a promotion to the majors, but he also didn't publicly lobby for a promotion out of Class A and instead got bored over his last 20 games. The outfielder has said in the past that he hopes to reach the majors by the end of the year, but GM Mike Rizzo has already flatly ruled out any big-league promotion.

“I’m gonna let them make that decision,” Harper said. “I’m not gonna force the issue or anything. I’m just gonna go out and I’m gonna play my game like I can. ... I’m here right now, and we’re trying to win a championship here. That’s what I want to do.” (Washington Post)

HUGHES IS BACK: Phil Hughes is finally back and will start for New York on Wednesday. After a mysterious loss of velocity that saw him placed on the disabled list after just three starts on the season, Hughes' velocity has returned and he's ready to move on. "It's not like I'm towards the end of my career; I knew I have a few good years left in me," Hughes said. "I figured it didn't just go away, that something had to be up. That's why I went and got it checked out. And ever since I took that rest and the cortisone, it's been a different story." Hughes will be facing Cleveland and Justin Masterson at 7:05 p.m. (New York Daily News)

: A car burglar stole an Apple iPod in a town outside of Chicago. There were also two tickets to a Cubs game in the car, but the burglar passed. Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago Cubs! (Chicago Tribune)

: The Cubs better just pack it in, right? That's what Gordon Wittenmyer writes, noting that no club has ever come back from 16 games below .500 to eventually reach October. The Cubbies are now at 17 games under. (Chicago Sun-Times)

TICKETS RISING: As Derek Jeter chases hit No. 3,000, Yankees tickets on the resale market have spiked. On June 29, you could have gotten a July 9th ticket for an average price of $117. Now, it's all the way up to $188. (BizofBaseball.com)

SOX ON THE HUNT: In a TV interview with NESN, Theo Epstein admitted that the Red Sox were eyeing trading for a "complementary" position player (likely a right-handed backup outfielder), feeling that the pitching depth is strong enough, as WEEI transcribes. Epstein also notes that Lackey is running out of time to turn his season around, and his rotation spot would be in danger if he continues to pitch poorly. (WEEI)

DELAYING PINEDA: The Mariners are trying to figure out a way to delay Michael Pineda's second-half debut to keep his workload light, but it all depends on whether he gets elected to the All-Star Game. Teammate Felix Hernandez pitches Sunday, so is ineligible to play in the All-Star Game. If Pineda is named as Hernandez's replacement, he will likely not pitch until June 19 in Toronto, which would be his 10th day of inactivity, All-Star Game excluded. (Seattle Times)

BEDARD CLOSE: The Mariners expect to have Erik Bedard back shortly after the All-Star break. Bedard is having a fine comeback season but just landed on the 15-day DL. While the M's haven't set their rotation in stone, it's looking like Bedard will be healthy enough to return during the Texas series that begins the second half of the season.

BATTERED: Brian Matusz was one of the Orioles' best pitchers last year. This year? After missing the start of the season with an injury, he was rocked to the tune of a 8.77 ERA in six starts, earning a demotion to Triple-A. Alas, his first start down there went just 5 2/3 innings, coughing up four runs. (Baltimore Sun)

GARLAND DONE: The end of the season for Jon Garland is here, as he will undergo shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of six months. That means the impending free agent has an outside shot at breaking camp next season. (Los Angeles Times)

ADVICE, PLEASE: For Toronto's minor leaguers in Lance Durham and K.C. Hobson, their travails through the minor leagues are affected by the fact they are the son of a major leaguer (Leon and Butch, respectively). These players lean on their dads for advice as they fight to reach the majors. (Slam! Sports)

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:15 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 1:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Pirates surge to second place

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pittsburgh Pirates: With their 5-1 victory over the Astros, the Pirates improved to four games over .500 (45-41) this late in the season for the first time since 1992. The win, coupled with Milwaukee's loss to the Diamondbacks, moved Pittsburgh into second place in the National League Central, 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Jeff Karstens allowed one run on seven hits in seven innings, improving to 7-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.55. Brandon Wood added a two-run homer in the win.

Dan Haren, Angels: The Angels' right-hander allowed just two hits in a shutout victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Tuesday. Haren struck out nine batters, earning his ninth win of the season and the 100th of his career as he retired the last 15 batters he faced. The Angels have now won 10 of their last 12. Verlander struck out eight, while allowing a run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was ejected from the game as he left the mound and was credited with his first loss in his last 12 starts.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Sometimes the best part of baseball isn't the towering shot or the big strikeout, but the other things a player can do to help his team win. With one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 10th, Brendan Ryan hit a grounder to A's second baseman Jemile Weeks who flipped it to Cliff Pennington, but Suzuki was on the move and slid wide, disrupting Pennington's throw to first. The throw went by first baseman Connor Jackson and allowing the go-ahead run to score. Adam Kennedy followed with an RBI double to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory. None of that would have happened without Ichiro's slide.
Randy Wolf, Brewers: Milwaukee's left-hander gave up four runs in the first inning and then allowed two home runs to put the Brewers in a 7-1 hole. Wolf did throw three more scoreless innings to at least give the bullpen some rest, but when that's the best that can be said about a start, it's not a very good start. The Brewers lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season and fell to third place in the National League Central.

Chris Volstad, Marlins: Perhaps Jack McKeon should just skip Volstad's next start against the Phillies. In two games against Philadelphia this season, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs in 9 2/3 innings, including seven runs in four innings in Tuesday's 14-2 in Florida.

Jeff Baker, Cubs: With bases loaded and no outs in the first inning of Tuesday's game in Washington, Ramon Ortiz got Laynce Nix to do exactly what he wanted him to do -- a tailor-made ground ball to second base. It would cost the team a run, but two outs for one run is fine in the first inning. Instead, the Nationals would get two runs and the Cubs no outs as Baker airmailed the short throw into left past shortstop Darwin Barney. The Nationals would score one more run in the inning, but that was all they needed, beating Chicago 3-2.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:00 pm

Picking a better Derby field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Prince Fielder and David Ortiz have picked their teams for next week's Home Run Derby, and while all the picks are good, I'd pick a different squad.

If I were in Fielder's or Ortiz's shoes, here's who I'd pick:

National League
Wily Mo Pena, Diamondbacks: Five of Wily Mo's eight hits have reached the seats. He's struck out 17 times and hasn't walked, but that's real baseball. This is the Home Run Derby -- few can hit them as far as Pena -- especially when they're all straight and all in the strike zone. You know who agrees with me? The American League captain. Ortiz was asked about adding Pena and told WEEI.com, "That's not good. We would lose right away."

Check out this homer at Comerica Park -- which is hardly a bandbox.

Mike Stanton, Marlins: Like Pena, Stanton is a big, big man. Twelve of Stanton's 14 home runs have traveled more than 400 feet. I don't care if he's not seeing the ball clearly, this is a batting practice show and few can put on a show like Stanton.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: This is the one that Fielder and I agree on, and not just because Upton has the homefield advantage (which is a real advantage in this case). Upton has 13 home runs this season and according to HitTrackerOnline.com, only Fielder has hit a ball further than Upton's 478-foot bomb off of Chris Carpenter on April 12.

American League
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The guy has 81 homers since 2010 began, you'd be a fool not to pick him. It's no surprise he was the first guy Ortiz called. He'd be my first call, too.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers: His 28-homer first-round performance at the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium is probably the most memorable Derby of all time. Hamilton said would have listened had Ortiz called him. He'd be my second call after Bautista.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: And here's my wild card. Suzuki has just one homer this season and has averaged less than 10 a year in his career, but anyone who has watched Suzuki in batting practice knows in that setting he can put the ball into the seats at will. In the Derby, you not only want the big boppers, but also the guys who can put together a streak of homers. Suzuki can do just about anything he wants with a bat, plus it'd be fun to watch the tiny Suzuki with all the other hulking players I've picked.

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: July 4, 2011 11:42 am

AL wins interleague play again

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Once again the American League beat the National League in interleague play, but the NL closed the gap between the two leagues for the third-straight season, as the AL went 131-121 against the other league this season.

In 2008, the AL won 149-103, 137-114 in '09 and 134-118 last season. This year's mark was the best showing by the National League since 2004, and the senior circuit hasn't led in interleague play since 2003. The AL leads the all-time series 1,939-1,773.

More importantly for baseball's brass was that the average attendance for Interleague games was 33,606 -- up from the overall regular-season average of 30,808. And that's exactly why interleague play will continue. Oh, that and the great "rivalries" like Padres-Mariners.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 4, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: July 4, 2011 12:58 pm

Pepper: Head indoors during All-Star Weekend

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not that I'm not looking forward to heading to Phoenix on Saturday; it's just that, well, it's going to be really, really hot and that doesn't sound like fun.

The average temperature in Phoenix on July 12? 107. I don't care how dry that heat is, it's still hot.

Phoenix has wanted to host an All-Star Game for years, but with the All-Star Game comes more than just nine innings of baseball. There's the Futures Game, a celebrity softball game, the Home Run Derby, FanFest and an influx of people, all walking around the area around the ballpark. Anyone outside is going to be hot.

The Diamondbacks are planning as many things indoors as they can, according to this Arizona Republic article. The team may open the roof for a possible flyover during the national anthem, but that would take place during the hottest part of the day.

Also, the usual parade will be about two blocks and players have been told not to wear suits and ties.

Team president Derrick Hall tells the newspaper, "I think everyone is going to be shocked how comfortable it's going to be."

I hope so. Then I can get ready for Kansas City next July -- and that could be even worse, just ask Ichiro (language NSFW).

CLOSER QUESTION: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stood behind closer Matt Capps after pulling him Sunday, but Capps may not be the closer for long. He has blown six saves in 19 chances, and Joe Nathan is back and healthy. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

FREAK OR FISH?: Marlins manager Jack McKeon questioned Bruce Bochy's selection of Tim Lincecum for the All-Star team. "He's a good pitcher, don't get me wrong," McKeon told reporters, including Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. "But do we reward for what you're doing now or do we reward for what you've done in the past."

DERBY LOBBYING: Not only are two captains picking the sides for this year's Home Run Derby, they can pick players who aren't in the All-Star Game to participate. Here's two non-All-Stars I'd love to see. Bob Young of the Arizona Republic suggests Ichiro Suzuki, which may sound odd, but Suzuki's batting practice displays are the stuff of legend, and what is the Derby but glorified batting practice? I'd give Suzuki a better shot than most at winning the deal. While Suzuki doesn't look like a guy who would be a Home Run Derby favorite, the Marlins' Mike Stanton does. Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez wants to see his teammate in the derby, and so do I. [Palm Beach Post]

NO REHAB FOR PUJOLS: Albert Pujols "doesn't need" a rehab assignment before he returns to the Cardinals, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday.

RECORD DEAL: The Rangers signed Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara with what is believed to be a record $5 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-3, 16-year-old left-handed outfielder is said to have the most raw power in Latin America. [Baseball America]

SELLOUT RECORD: Saturday the Dayton Dragons, the Reds' Class A team in the Midwest League, recorded their 814th sellout in a row, tying the all-time professional sports record set by the Portland Trail Blazers. The team expects to break the record July 9.

While the Dayton Daily News has the news, the New York Times takes a look at just why the Dragons have been so successful.

HISTORICALLY BAD: As bad as the Padres' offense has been this season, it's not as bad as the Mariners' last season -- so there's that. Otherwise, the outlook is bleak for San DIego bats. [North County Times]

STEREOTYPES DISPUTED: Former Cubs and current White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone says the stereotypes of Cubs fans and White Sox aren't exactly true. Cubs fans are usually believed to be more interested in being at Wrigley Field than what's going on at Wrigley Field. The stereotype of White Sox fans is best displayed by the buffoons who get liquored up and run on the field to attack either the umpire or the opposing team's first base coach. [Chicago Tribune]

VLAD'S BATS HEATING UP: Vladimir Guerrero isn't producing at the plate, but his bats are. Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is crushing with Guerrero's bats, hitting .436 in his last 21 games since switching to Guerrero's heavier bats. [Baltimore Sun]

PADRES DRAFT COULD BE GREAT: Well, the Padres' draft could be a great one if the team spends the money to sign the players it drafted. The Royals stopped worrying about "signability," and David Glass started paying the going rate for drafted players. That's how the Royals built the best farm system in the majors. If the Padres follow suit, it could certainly pay off in the end. [InsideThePadres]

HOSMER USED TO OVERCOMING: Check out this fantastic feature by my friend Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star on Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and his family. Hosmer's dad was a firefighter and his mother a nurse who immigrated from Cuba.

RACIAL BIAS BY UMPS: A study recently published in the American Economic Review shows a small difference in called strikes when the umpire and the pitcher are the same race. But the bias disappeared in games with computer monitoring, which is now standard across MLB. (H/T to BaseballMusings.com

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com