Posted on: May 12, 2011 10:20 am
By Matt Snyder
BASEBALL TODAY: See the video above for my takes on Justin Masterson, Zach Britton, Daniel Hudson, the Angels without Kendrys Morales and Jake Peavy's encouraging first start of 2011.
OVERTHINK MUCH? Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner had a theory as to why Derek Jeter was struggling earlier in the season. It's that Jeter was pressing due to feeling the pressure of the upcoming 3,000-hit milestone. "I'm not concerned about Derek," Steinbrenner told the New York Post. "Milestones can be difficult. They can be a big weight on a guy." Oh, yeah, and then this: "He's obviously broken through that and is hitting well now." As if right on cue, Jeter went out and had an 0-6 day Wednesday night. So is he feeling the pressure again? Let's all take a deep breath and realize guys are going to have ups and downs over the course of 162 games. You too, Hal.
FIRST OF MANY: Royals prospect-turned-first baseman Eric Hosmer went yard in Yankee Stadium Wednesday night for the first home run of his very young career. To top things off, he came through with the go-ahead RBI on a sacrifice fly in extra innings. He's sure to see some hills and valleys throughout his rookie season, but thus far he's been really solid. Cling to that .250 batting average if you must, as Hosmer's sporting a .409 on-base percentage and a .909 OPS, which is outstanding.
BACK ON TRACK: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro started the season absolutely on fire, but then drastically cooled. In fact, he recently had a 12-game stretch where he hit .137 with an abysmal .311 OPS. The Cubs' rivals came to town, Mike Quade dropped Castro in the order and things seem to be back where Starlin likes them. In the past two games, he's 6-8 with a triple, four RBI, three runs and a walk.
MORE HUG-GATE: Wednesday in Pepper we discussed the completely meaningless yet somehow blown out of proportion hug between Albert Pujols and Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. Hendry laughed about the talk that fateful embrace sparked. Pujols offered up his thoughts on the situation Wednesday afternoon. "I figured that would happen, that they would play with it," Pujols said. "At the end, it's not what you do on the field. It's what kind of person you are off the field. That's the kind of relationship you want to build with somebody you respect. He's on the other side. I'm on our side. I just think it's kind of ridiculous. Three writers came and talked to me about that and the contract. "Are you serious? C'mon." (StLtoday.com) Meanwhile, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times says Cubs fans should forget about Pujols for two reasons: 1. He's not signing with the Cubs; 2. They'll be better off in the long-haul for it.
TORRE SETTLING IN: Joe Torre is ready to attend the first owner's meetings in his new role of executive vice president of baseball operations. The first meeting's agenda doesn't appear to have any impact in terms of on-field play, but there is one interesting nugget in this article: Torre's reason to retire from managing was that he couldn't take losing anymore. "It wasn't balanced out by the winning anymore. I hated it," Torre said. "I was more ready not to do what I've been doing for years. When the Commissioner made this job offer to me, I asked him a few times if he thought I could do it. It was the insecurity of not knowing what the job entailed, even though it's baseball-related. But it has been fun and very energizing for me." Good for him. Honestly, he's 70, who needs that kind of day-in, day-out stress at that age anyway? (MLB.com)
I MIGHT BE A SADIST, BUT ... : Grant Brisbee over at SB Nation asked how much money it would take to step into the batter's box and face Aroldis Chapman right now -- keeping in mind that he can hit 105 on the radar gun and has walked nine of the last 14 batters he's faced. The stipulation is that you could wear a helmet but no "Barry Bonds armor." Honestly, I'd give it a go for free just to see what it looked like from there. My biggest issue isn't so much the fear of getting drilled, but the fact that he's left-handed (I'm a lefty and they always had me mentally whipped when I played). Then again, I haven't been hit with a pitch in probably 11 years and never took one more than 90 mph. Maybe I'll take some cash for the fictional at-bat afterall.
CREDIT WHERE DUE: Tigers manager Jim Leyland was going to give slugging first baseman Miguel Cabrera the day off Wednesday to give him a few days off (the Tigers have an off-day Thursday) before a weekend series to rest his sore back. Instead, Cabrera waved him off and insisted on playing. (MLB.com) Keep this in mind whenever you hear people complaining about how the guys only play for the money and don't really care about the results. Sitting down would have had no effect on Cabrera's earnings. Since the complainers like to use real-world examples, compare this to having your boss tell you to take the day off and you insisting on staying at work (yeah, sure you would). Oh, and he had a two-RBI double in the fifth to give the Tigers the lead. They would win 9-7.
IN THE CINCY AREA AND LIKE SMOKED MEATS? The Reds have put in a new restaurant called Mr. Red's Smokehouse, and it will open Friday for the first game of the Reds' series against the Cardinals. On the menu, you'll find smoked ribs, turkey legs, pulled pork and chicken wings -- in addition to rotating specialty items. This weekend's item is "smoked Cardinal" (it's actually quail). Click here for a video tour of the new smokehouse.
HAIL DELAY: Via Big League Stew, here's a video of the hailstorm that caused an hour-plus delay to Tuesday night's Twins-Tigers game in Minnesota. Yes, that is golf-ball sized hail and a good amount of it.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT DYKSTRA: I'm pretty well over him at this point, and have been for years. If you are interested in what's become of Lenny Dykstra's life, according to this interview, by all means click through and read it. Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com got an exclusive interview with Dykstra's limo driver.
HIDE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN: Roger McDowell's suspension is almost over, as he'll rejoin the Braves Friday and resume his duties as their pitching coach. (MLB.com) I'd encourage fans across America to heckle him and test if those sensitivity classes paid off.
CANADIAN DOLLARS: An interesting discussion here, in that -- as long as the Canadian dollar is valued higher than the American dollar -- players for the Blue Jays are actually earning more money than their contracts dictate, assuming they cash checks in Canada. It's the exact opposite of how it used to be, when players used to get traded to either the Expos or Blue Jays and take a hit. (Slam Sports)
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL Central, AL East, Albert Pujols, Albertageddon, Angels, Aroldis Chapman, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Daniel Hudson, Derek Jeter, Diamondbacks, Eric Hosmer, Giants, Hal Steinbrenner, Indians, Jake Peavy, Jim Hendry, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre, Justin Masterson, Kendrys Morales, Lenny Dykstra, Matt Cain, Miguel Cabrera, NL Central, NL West, Orioles, Reds, Roger McDowell, Royals, Starlin Castro, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Zach Britton
Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 2:46 pm
By Matt Snyder
Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell has been suspended for two weeks without pay and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for an incident that occurred April 23 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The suspension is retroactive to April 29, when McDowell was placed on administrative leave by the Braves.
On April 23 , when the Braves were on the road to play the Giants, McDowell asked a group of male fans, "are you a homo couple or a threesome" while also using a baseball bat to simulate a sexual act. When Justin Quinn -- a father who had two nine-year-old girls with him -- noted to McDowell he didn't approve, McDowell said "kids don't [expletive deleted] belong at the baseball park" and then grabbed a bat and said "how much are your teeth worth."
Commissioner Bud Selig released the following statement:
"Major League Baseball is a social institution that brings people together and welcomes all individuals of different races, religions, genders, national origins and sexual orientations into its ballparks. Conduct by people associated with MLB that shows insensitivity to others simply cannot and will not be tolerated. I understand that Mr. McDowell is very contrite about his conduct, and hopefully this incident will be used to increase public awareness of the importance of sensitivity to others. I commend Justin Quinn and his family for bringing this issue to our attention so that it will not happen again in the future.”
As Selig alluded to, McDowell did apologize. He's also expressed desire to meet Quinn and his family and personally apologize.
"I understand the decision made today by the commissioner," McDowell said in a statement Sunday. "I am embarrassed by my actions and I plan to give a personal apology to Mr. Quinn and his family. I would also like to offer a public and heartfelt apology to the fans of San Francisco, to the Atlanta Braves organization, my family and to Major League Baseball."
Braves president John Schuerholz said the team supports Selig's decision. "We were clearly disappointed in Roger's remarks and actions and the Atlanta Braves organization does not tolerate that kind of behavior," Schuerholz said. "The Atlanta Braves organization and Roger McDowell deeply regret that this incident occurred and again apologize to all involved, including Mr. Quinn and his family, and the San Francisco Giants and their fans."
Quinn seemed happy with the decision.
"I am pleased to see Major League Baseball imposing discipline on Coach McDowell for his actions," Quinn said, in a statement released by his attorney Gloria Allred. "I love baseball dearly and my family and I are now looking forward to getting back to the ballpark for another game."
Allred also noted the disciplinary measures "demonstrate that Major League Baseball believes that homophobic slurs, sexually lewd conduct and threatening behavior by coaches or any other person employed at a game in the major league will not be tolerated."
As part of McDowell's punishment, he will also be required to take part in a sensitivity training program. Braves minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace will serve as the pitching coach with McDowell away.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 8:53 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Every once in a while you read stories about whether a professional athlete could come out as a homosexual in this day and age, and every time it seems we're moving toward acceptance, we get pulled back to reality.
According to TMZ.com, noted attorney Gloria Allred has accused Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell of using several homophobic slurs and comments toward a group of male fans at San Francisco's AT&T Park last weekend.
According to Allred, McDowell asked a group of male fans, "Are you a homo couple or a threesome?" A family of four, including two 9-year-old girls, said after McDowell made the remarks, he used a baseball bat to simulate sex.
After the father confronted McDowell, the pitching coach reportedly responded, "Kids don't [expletive] belong at the baseball park." And then approached the man with a bat and said, "How much are your teeth worth?"
It's unlikely Bud Selig's crew will add McDowell's "kids don't [expletive] belong at the baseball park" as a marketing slogan anytime soon.
The family wants an apology from McDowell, as well as a fine from the commissioner's office for both McDowell and the Braves.
McDowell has yet to respond and he's innocent until proven guilty, but it's tough to say it's uncommon to hear that kind of talk in baseball clubhouses -- whether McDowell is dumb enough to say that outside the clubhouse, that's another story.
UPDATE: Bud Selig has released a statement on the incident:
UPDATE: McDowell apologized in a statement today.
The Braves also issued a statement:
"We were made aware of an incident in San Francisco this past Saturday. We are concerned by these allegations and the behavior described by a witness today. This in no way represents the Braves organization and the conduct we expect of our employees. We will withhold further comments until we finish gathering information."
Posted on: April 8, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 8:38 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
A blogger wrote his account of seeing Valverde spit either at or on another fan. Although the writer, who only lists his first name, Avi, on his blog (2131 and Beyond), writes in the headline the spit was "on" the fan, he takes pictures of a wad of gum he says was spit "at" another fan and the gum is in the Tigers' bullpen.
For his part, Valverde told MLB.com's Jason Beck that in the eight inning of Thursday's loss that he spit in their direction, but didn't -- and didn't attempt to -- spit on the fans themselves. Another reliever, Daniel Schlereth, who was also in the bullpen, backed up Valverde's story.
Valverde said the fan had been yelling at him all game.
"This guy's drinking and drinking, and he doesn't know what's going on in the game," Valverde said. "He started doing a lot of stuff, BS. The thing is, you have to sometimes leave it alone, because they pay for that. There's nothing you can do. He paid for the ticket. He can do whatever he wants to. But after a while, he ticked me off …
"They're shouting, 'You [stink], you piece of …' And I'm tired of that. Everybody's tired. And I tell them, 'You know what, you want to do something? Come on. Come here.' And he told me, '[Forget] you. [Forget] your mother.' He talks about my mother, and I said, 'OK. God bless you.'"
A police officer approached the pair of fans, but the fans left, both accounts of the story say.
The Braves were in Milwaukee, so it's unlikely Roger McDowell was there as a second spitter.