This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: April 8-14, 2013
Five Ex-ballparks We'd Like to Visit What's That You're Burning, A-Rod?
Why the A's Aren't Going to San Jose Anytime Soon Ken Kendrick's Dress Code

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
19 5 12 4 0 2 11 7 2 1 0

This is what happens when you try to contain Miguel Cabrera; you lose focus on the big guy batting behind him. The 28-year-old boomer brought it home time and time again this week as opposing pitchers tried to keep the reigning MVP Cabrera in check, but it all goes to show that trying to stop both premier players won’t work. It all comes down to picking your poison, but in either case it’s going to hurt—just ask Fielder, who ends the week leading the AL in batting average, on-base percentage and RBIs.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
26 7 11 2 1 1 6 1 0 1 2

The latest in the wave of hot young Pirate prospects shined as he served as a model of stellar consistency, wrapping out two hits in all but one game this past week (in fact, he put together a string of six straight multi-hit games before settling for one knock on Saturday). Included in Marte’s pesky potency was his first homer of the year as part of Sunday’s big comeback against the Reds. The 24-year-old Dominican is showing promise of becoming an equal to Andrew McCutchen—and if that’s the case, there’s no excuse for the Bucs to keep losing.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
17 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

The rookie outfielder got the center field job on the basis of a hot March—but may lose it if his hitting remains ice cold in April. Hicks’ hitless week was only slightly better than his first, all adding up to not much: Two hits in 43 at-bats with 20 strikeouts on the season to date. This looks like the classic case of a player being given the keys to a starting job a year before he truly deserves it; a mental clearing of the head in the minors may not be far behind.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
21 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

Here we go again, Brewer fans. Last year at this time, Weeks was in the beginning stages of a long and painful slump that he didn’t wake up from until after the All-Star Break; if this week is any indication, history may be on the verge of repeating itself. The old habits included 11 strikeouts, an eye-opening but all-too-familiar frequency for a guy who’s always toyed with 200 when given the chance to play every day—but at some point, the Brewers’ patience with this guy will reach its limit.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 15 5 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 19

The 28-year-old’s stock, which has bounced all over the place through his career, is back on the upswing after two stellar efforts this past week—including a Sunday gem against Tampa Bay in which he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Walks are something of an issue (ten spread among 22 innings so far in 2013), but when the hits are few and far between and you’ve got a 0.41 ERA, nobody’s complaining.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 14.2 5 0 0 4 0 2 0 0 14

That the 30-year-old southpaw hasn’t allowed a run in 20.1 regular season innings to date is impressive enough—but throw in a stretch of 24.2 scoreless innings to finish spring training, and you’re talking about a guy who’s well on his way to channeling Orel Hershiser from 1988. Maholm is the epitome (and then some) of an Atlanta pitching staff that’s been throwing out of its mind to start the 2013 season, and if he keeps this up (or even gives up a run or two along the way), he could be the key for putting the Braves over the top in the NL East for the long run.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jarrod Parker, Oakland A's

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 6.2 18 10 10 4 1 2 1 0 3

Last year’s star rookie…this year’s wounded arm? That’s often the script for Oakland pitchers, who are always young and frequently in pain—and Parker, for the moment, seems to be following the storyline as he got battered around for hit after hit and failed to make it out of the fourth inning in either of his two starts this past week. Nobody’s saying that Parker is ready to head to the DL (and he claims no pain), but the pattern seems to be eerily following the path of previous A’s stars like Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, etc., etc., etc.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Jonathan Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 3.1 9 8 8 4 0 1 0 0 2

The veteran lefty, who in better times once threw a no-hitter for the Giants, is being given another lease on baseball life with the Pirates after a decent exhibition season; but the Bucs are going to look a little more closely at the terms of that lease after a typically awful Sanchez start this past Wednesday at Arizona, where he’s never played well (2-5, 7.30 ERA in 11 appearances). It was all bad for Sanchez, from the amount of hits allowed (including two homers), the walks and a hit batsman. It’s called a strike zone, Jonathan; hit it more often.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
New York Yankees (4-1)

Ah, don‘t write the Yankees off just yet. Just when all the pundits were ready to declare that it was 1965 all over again in New York, the Recycled Bronx Bombers busted out and knocked the Indians around in a rain-shortened sweep (25 runs in two games) before taking a weekend series from a tough Baltimore squad back at the Stadium. Leading the way were the team’s trio of reclamation projects: Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis, who combined for four homers on the week. Weekend gems from pitchers CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda didn’t hurt, either.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Atlanta Braves (6-0)

NThe Washington Nationals were laid out flat on their backs after a 9-0 loss on Sunday wondering what just barreled through town for the weekend. It was, in fact, the rampaging Braves, who trampled upon the prognosticators’ preseason darlings in D.C. with a three-game sweep, adding to a winning streak that now has reached nine—the team’s longest in three years. Through 12 games, the Braves have lost just once and have produced a stunning 1.81 team ERA; and every team should feel lucky to replace an injured All-Star catcher (Brian McCann) with someone playing just as well (Evan Gattis, hitting.324 with four homers in nine games).


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota Twins (0-5)

Hey, those Twins looked pretty good in the season’s first week, didn’t they? What, don’t remember that now? How quickly we forget, especially after a winless week in which the only victory for Minnesota was another potential Sunday loss spared by even worse weather than the snowy conditions that permeated over the Twins’ awful 16-5 loss to the Mets on Friday. The five runs scored that evening represented the team’s highest output of the week, as decent pitching couldn’t otherwise be compensated with decent hitting.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Diego Padres (1-5)

The week started off just fine for the Padres, whipping the Dodgers with a 9-3 Tuesday victory—then Carlos Quentin eventually messed it all up by rushing that mound. The Padres didn’t earn another W for the rest of the week, suffering their second weekend series sweep to lowly Colorado in as many weeks—worse, this time at home. Reducing the field dimensions at Petco Park doesn’t seem to be working for a team that finished this past week with the majors’ highest team ERA.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, April 8
The Miami Marlins play their home opener as the team everyone thought they were, losing 2-0 to the visiting Atlanta Braves. Justin Upton continues his hot start with four hits, including his sixth home run, for the Braves; Paul Maholm throws seven innings of one-hit shutout ball. The Marlins Park crowd is announced at 34,439, 2,000 shy of capacity—though it’s apparent that there are far more empty seats.

Ben Zobrist believes he has a walk with two outs in the ninth at Texas, but the Tampa Bay hitter is rung up by umpire Marty Foster on a pitch that’s clearly low and away and the Rays lose to the Rangers, 5-4. The save goes to Joe Nathan, who becomes the 24th major leaguer to reach 300; the ire goes to Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who in disgust of the strike three call angrily dogs the umpires all the way to the clubhouse gate.

Hey Cleveland, you’ve been Pronked! Travis Hafner, the fragile slugger now wearing the uniform of the New York Yankees, returns to Progressive Field—his home for the previous ten years—and says hello to his former teammates by launching a first-inning, three-run blast; he later adds a RBI single to ignite the Yankees to a 11-6 rout of the Indians in the Tribe’s home opener. Robinson Cano adds two homers and a double to New York’s assault.


Tuesday, April 9
After looking like its old, voluminous self in the Mariners’ home opener, Seattle’s Safeco Field finally shows off its more cozy dimensions with the fences moved in this year; ironically, the team to take advantage is the Houston Astros, losers of six straight games and scorers of just nine runs during that time. The Astros belt five home runs and pound the Mariners, 16-9; with three Seattle blasts added, the eight homers are one shy of a ballpark record. Another mark is set for the smallest crowd in Safeco history at 10,745.


Wednesday, April 10
For the first time since May 15, 2003, there are empty, unpaid seats at Boston’s Fenway Park; maybe the fans who wouldn’t buy knew what was coming. The Red Sox take a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning against Baltimore, but closer Joel Hanrahan allows five runs on the strength of two home runs (by Chris Davis and Manny Machado) and the Orioles finish the day with an 8-5 victory. Boston’s sellout streak ends at 820 games, long since topping the former MLB record held by Cleveland and eclipsing by six the longest in pro sports history, held previously by the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA.

After starting the season with two losses, the Oakland A’s have now won seven straight—including six on the road and three at divisional rival Los Angeles of Anaheim. Offense carries the day again for the A’s, who pummel Angel starter Joe Blanton and four relievers for an 11-5 win. Brandon Moss smacks a home run and knocks in five for the A’s.

The start of the Washington Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park is delayed by 16 minutes when the umpires arrive late due to heavy traffic outside of the ballpark. Bryce Harper’s fourth homer propels the Nats.


Thursday, April 11
A brawl—and with it, major controversy—erupts at San Diego’s Petco Park when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke hits the Padres’ Carlos Quentin—who charges the mound and, in the ensuing melee, fractures Greinke’s collarbone. The Dodgers are incensed that Quentin would believe Greinke would want to hit him as a leadoff batter with a 2-1 lead on a 3-2 count (also to note: Quentin’s crowding of the plate leads to him frequently getting plunked), but Quentin is thinking that it’s all payback for a pitch that nearly hit the head of the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp earlier in the game. The bad blood carries over between the clubhouses after the game as Kemp confronts Quentin before both are separated by teammates. As for the game, the Dodgers defeat the Padres, 3-2, on an eighth-inning pinch-hit home run by Juan Uribe. Quentin will be suspended eight games by MLB for instigating the brawl.


Friday, April 12
The Nationals jump out to a 4-0 lead over divisional rival Atlanta in the first of a three-game series between the two NL East contenders at Washington—but the Braves bounce back late, scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth, two in the ninth to tie and two in the tenth to win, 6-4. Ramiro Pena, who had scored the tying run in the ninth on a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, connects on a two-run homer (only the third of his major league career) an inning later to provide the final difference.

Two bizarre, key plays fuel a late charge by the New York Yankees at home against Baltimore. In the bottom of the seventh, Vernon Wells hits a deep fly to center field with the bases loaded—and Adam Jones, the Orioles’ usually sure-handed center fielder, has the ball plop in and out of his glove, allowing all three baserunners to score. Down 5-2, the Orioles start a rally on their own in the next inning when the first two batters reach base—but the Yankees quash it when Manny Machado hits a sharp grounder to second baseman Robinson Cano, who starts the majors’ first-ever 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play to end the threat and the inning. CC Sabathia goes eight strong in the Yankee victory.

In weather more befitting of Lambeau Field than Target Field, the Minnesota Twins are slaughtered by the visiting New York Mets, 16-5 as light snow falls in 34-degree conditions. John Buck becomes one of two players this year (Chris Davis being the other)—and one of just four in modern big league history—to reach at least 19 RBIs through the season’s first ten games with the help of a second-inning grand slam that puts the game out of reach early for the Mets. Starter Jonathon Niese gets the win, but fails to go six innings for the first time in 22 starts—a run which had been the majors’ longest active streak. Attendance is announced at 23,735, but far fewer fans actually brave the elements to appear.

After allowing 25 runs over their previous two games, the Indians finally get solid starting pitching from Justin Masterson, who continues his terrific start to the year and is rewarded—just barely—for nine innings of shutout work when Nick Swisher breaks a 0-0 tie with two outs in the ninth, knocking in the game-winning run on a single to give Masterson and the Indians a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Masterson is now 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. White Sox starter Jose Quintana allows just a hit and strikes out seven over seven innings of his own.


Saturday, April 13
St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright continues to confound the Milwaukee Brewers in more ways than one. The tall right-hander throws his second career shutout (and fourth complete game in his last five starts) against the Brewers—and adds three hits, two alone in a seven-run sixth inning that constitutes the bulk of the Cardinals’ offense in an 8-0 win at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have not allowed a run in 32 innings (the streak will end at 39 innings the next day); Wainwright, who strikes out 12, now has 24 for the year—with no walks—in 22 innings.

Trailing lowly Houston 4-1, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—losers of five straight—finally awaken with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth on an Albert Pujols double to win, 5-4. Josh Hamilton also hits his first home run for the Angels, who win for the first time in five tries at home.

Jose Fernandez, the 20-year-old Miami pitcher previously known for plunking Marlin star slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the head during spring training practice, tosses six shutout innings and drives in the Marlins’ lone run with a fifth-inning single until Chris Coghlan wins it in the ninth with a run-scoring single of his own to defeat Philadelphia, 2-1, at Marlins Park. It’s only Miami’s second win of the year to go with nine losses.


Sunday, April 14
The Braves make it a clean sweep of the Nationals at Washington, making an early-season statement against the team many expect to win the East, the NL and the World Series. Justin Upton belts his seventh homer of the year and Paul Maholm throws 7.2 shutout innings to give Atlanta an easy 9-0 win, its ninth straight.

Clay Buchholz, owner of one no-hitter, comes within six hits of a second before settling for eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out 11 Rays as the Boston Red Sox topple Tampa Bay, 5-0. With the loss, the Rays are last in the AL in hitting (.212) and home runs (four).

After two rough starts, Roy Halladay turns things around with eight solid innings against the Marlins at Miami and earns his 200th career win with a 2-1 decision. The Marlins (2-10) are even worse at the plate than the Rays—a .204 average with just two homers.

Wild and wacky stuff: In the Cubs’ 10-7, ten-inning loss to the Giants, Chicago starter Edwin Jackson and reliever Michael Bowden combine to throw five wild pitches in the sixth inning to tie a major league record. The Giants score four times in the frame.


The Best Ballparks to See—If Only We Were There
This past week, Hollywood’s latest version of the Jackie Robinson story, 42, was released—and baseball addicts were lining up not just to inspect the film’s historical accuracy but the CGI reality factor of Brooklyn’s beloved baseball shrine, Ebbets Field—which was torn down shortly after the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles. Early reviews seem to suggest that the special effects of 42 pass muster and make Brooklyn Dodger fans old enough to remember actually watching a game at Ebbets feel at home after 60 years.

So all of this made us think: What other ballparks of yesteryear would we love to see in their original, rich beauty? Here’s the short list, in alpha order.

Baker Bowl, Philadelphia. From everything we’ve read and heard, we’ve got to see this place to believe it, with particular attention paid on the field whenever a left-handed slugger approaches the plate and takes aim at the alarmingly close (280 feet down the line, 300 to right) and tall right-field wall adorned with a giant Lifebuoy sign. Look further out to left field and we see factories and tall buildings rising above the concrete bowl. But we need to be careful where we sit; Baker Bowl rightfully acquired a reputation as a deathtrap, given the numerous collapses within the ballpark that resulted in numerous casualties.

Colt Stadium, Houston. Give us a day game, a big umbrella, a big pitcher of lemonade and a monster can of mosquito repellent to allow us to peacefully witness, arguably, the majors’ most intolerable environment that served as the first home of the Houston Astros, back when they were called the Colt .45s. No shade, no protection and downright no sanity gained from the dripping summer heat and nuclear-sized Texan bugs.

League Park, Cleveland. Few places were said to be cozier than the Indians’ home prior to their move to voluminous Cleveland Stadium—but the main attraction for us would be that crazy montage of wood, fencing and steel piles sticking out from the right-field wall; who knows how any fly ball hit off that part of the fence would ricochet.

Palace of the Fans, Cincinnati. It didn’t last long (barely a decade) but it certainly served as one of the majors’ more unique venues, with its neo-classical facades and ground-level luxury boxes (basically, a plot of land with folding chairs) for fans to drive their Model-T’s right up to from behind and watch the Reds.

Polo Grounds, New York. A chance to look at one of the majors’ oddest-shaped ballfields, its bathtub-like shape yielding very short distances down the lines (roughly 260 feet) and a tremendously long sprint to catch up to the center field nook (480 feet); just ask Willie Mays. Ideally take us back before the expansion to its final capacity of 55,000, when the upper deck façade was beautifully adorned by frescoes of all National League teams.

The Wall to Bang Your Head Against is Over There, Mr. Mayor
Lou Wolff wants to move the Oakland A’s to San Jose. Land is available and ready in San Jose for Wolff to plunge a shovel into. But the San Francisco Giants claim San Jose as part of their territorial rights and are adamant about denying the A’s to relocate there. Commissioner Bud Selig, who can solve this issue quickly, officially dumped the whole project of where the A’s should land on a worthless three-man panel who’s essentially done nothing for nearly four years, as if that’s been its goal all along.

Chuck Reed, the mayor of San Jose, has grown as frustrated as Wolff. A few weeks ago, he wrote a letter to Selig asking for a personal meeting to get to the bottom of the situation. Selig declined; instead, he basically said, “Let’s have you talk to the guy heading that worthless three-man committee.”

Here’s the straight talk: Reed and Wolff knowingly are operating from a position of little or no strength. The two players with the power—Selig and the Giants—are playing rope-a-dope with the A’s for different reasons. Selig whose term will soon be over, is stalling because he’d just rather let the next guy deal with this mess. For the Giants, they’re perfectly happy to ignore the issue until Wolff—who’s closing in on age 80—reaches a point of frustration, gives up and sells the team to someone who may be less inclined to move the team to San Jose, and perhaps more inclined to just move it out of the Bay Area, period, leaving the market completely to the Giants.

Some ask: Why would the Giants want to cling to San Jose, which is 35 miles further away from AT&T Park than Oakland? It’s not San Jose that the Giants are worried about losing, but Silicon Valley—home to much of the corporate support that the team gets in the form of front-row seats, luxury boxes and sponsorship. If the A’s get to San Jose, they’ll be practically across the street from major entities such as Apple, Adobe and Intel.

Reed can sue baseball and challenge baseball’s longstanding antitrust exemption, but the current make-up of Congress—which has the power to eliminate God’s second gift to MLB, after the non-banished reserve clause—is likely to back the status quo. Wolff, meanwhile, can simply tell MLB and the Giants to shove it and start building the ballpark in San Jose, forcing the Giants to sue him; but as a long-time friend of Selig’s, he’s simply too nice a guy to go that route.

At some point, something has to give. But it likely won’t happen with the current cast of characters.

Auction of the Week: The Biogenesis Documents
The Biogenesis scandal took an intriguing turn this past week when it was revealed that MLB, rebuffed in its efforts to obtain records related to the anti-aging clinic from both the Feds and the Miami New Times (which initially obtained them as a basis for its story on major leaguers taking PEDs), has been attempting to buy the records from a Biogenesis investor. Adding suspense, a MLB source suggested that a representative for Alex Rodriguez—the biggest name linked to Biogenesis, with all due respect to Ryan Braun—was also trying to purchase the records with the goal of destroying them. If true, and if Rodriguez gave his rep the green light to buy the papers, then it’s a clear sign that he has something to hide—and might lead to obstruction of justice charges should the Feds take on Biogenesis down the line.

Even MLB won’t look good with purchased documents; legal pundits weighing in through the New York Times suggest that the move could backfire should a trial ensue, because any person who sells the documents will not be considered biased by his actions.

One Goat Head in a Duffel Bag
A man in a plain white van drove up to Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Wednesday, got out and delivered a box to the front door of the Cubs’ front office. The man drove off and security opened the box: It contained the severed head of a goat. No, it wasn’t a warning from Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel to Cubs owner Tom Ricketts (the two had warred over Wrigley Field renovations, before finally reaching a $500 million del this past weekend), but yet another reminder of the curse that allegedly continues to keep the Cubs from winning another NL pennant (let alone a World Series).

For those of you not familiar with the story, a local restaurateur with a thick Greek accent tried to enter Wrigley Field with a goat during the 1945 World Series between the Cubs and Detroit Tigers and was denied. Irate, the man yelled, “Cubs, not gonna to win anymore.” Since then, they haven’t; after appearing in ten World Series in the 40 years previous to that point, the Cubs haven’t made it back once in the nearly 70 years since.

Hey, It’s Enrico Palazzo!
Maybe this was the guy who sent the goat to Ricketts: The national anthem singer before Thursday’s Cubs-Giants game at a chilly, wet Wrigley Field. Richard Streetman, who dressed as if he was plucked out of the bleachers—he wore blue jeans and a causal sweater half-opened to reveal a 1970s-era Cubs jersey—didn’t do that bad of a job; what’s curious in this clip is that the Comcast SportsNet director didn’t shy to choose reaction shots of players and fans trying not to laugh as he hit the more dubious notes.

Soler Flare
This was not a great week for the Cubs, even at the minor league level. Jorge Soler, the Cuban émigré who’s one of the team’s most prized prospects, showed off his dark side during a Class-A game in Florida this past week when, after an altercation with an opposing player on the field, grabbed a bat and started toward the opposing team’s dugout wielding it in a threatening manner before being held back by teammates. The outburst cost him five games.

Because He Can’t Just Help Himself
Everyone in Boston wants to forget about last year’s debacle—everyone, that is, except one-year managing blunder Bobby Valentine, who quickly lost the faith and trust of his Red Sox players as the team badly imploded under the weight of the tension. Valentine has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to write a book on his experiences of 2012—from his point of view, of course. The title of the book: Valentine’s Way.

No Visitors Clothing Allowed
In Friday’s game between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Phoenix, Arizona owner Ken Kendrick took offense to a pack of Dodger fans who bought up the field-level suite right behind home plate—essentially making it look like something of a Dodger home game on TV as the fans appeared on the standard camera behind the outfield wall showing each pitch. Apparently, people buying tickets to those seats are told in advance not to wear uniforms of the visiting teams—and Kendrick went down and personally reminded them of that shortly after the game began. Rather than precipitate a brawl on the order of Quentin v. Greinke, Kendrick took the tact of sweetening the deal to appease the Dodger fans—buying them Diamondback uniforms to wear and drinks to imbibe on. The Dodger fans were apparently happy to oblige.

He Can’t Wait to Get it Over With
Chicago Cub shortstop Starlin Castro has a reputation for mental lapses on the field, but Josh Hamilton is catching up fast. The first-year Angel, who had some bizarre moments on the field last year for the Texas Rangers, committed a glaring faux pas that ended Friday’s 5-0 loss to Houston. What’s just as telling is Hamilton’s almost soulless reaction to the play and obvious avoidance of his teammates as he returned to the dugout.

Get a Whiff of This
Here’s how bad it’s been for the free-swingin’ Houston Astros:
Rick Ankiel and Brett Wallace are a combined 5-for-47—with 34 strikeouts—through this past Sunday.

The Spanish Inquisition
While MLB is allowing translators to accompanying coaches to the mound to talk to pitchers who use English as a second language (or no language at all), other circuits aren’t quite taking the same tact. During a high school game in Alamogordo, New Mexico, an umpire who was growing paranoid that a Latino player was insulting others in Spanish told him he would be ejected if he continued to speak in that language. The player’s coaches objected, and the home plate umpire, who is bilingual, assured the other umpire that he would monitor what everyone was saying.

Grady Hatton, 1922-2013
Baseball said goodbye this past week to
Grady Hatton, who died at the age of 90 in Warren, Texas—not far from his hometown of Beaumont. Hatton played 12 years in the majors, starting with the 1946 Cincinnati Reds; he bounced around as a part-time player after being traded from the Reds early in 1954, and finished his career with a lifetime .254 average, 91 home runs, one All-Star Game appearance (in 1952) and, for all it’s worth, was selected on 1.3% of his first Hall of Fame ballot (it never got higher). He leveraged his baseball knowledge to a manager’s position with the Houston Astros, piloting the team from 1966-68 with mostly losing results.

League vs. League
The National League hasn’t batted .500 against the American League in interleague play in nearly a decade—but it’s off to a good start as MLB uses continuous interleague action from start to finish for the first time. In fact, the NL went 5-for-5 this week—with Washington sweeping the Chicago White Sox to start the week, and the New York Mets taking two straight at Minnesota before Sunday’s game was rained out. For the year, the NL is 8-3 against the junior circuit.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Kansas City’s
Alex Gordon, slowly evolving into the star player many had predicted of him long ago, finishes this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 11 games. Gordon is hitting .373 during his run, eight games short of his career high of 19 from 2011.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekIt was a busy week at the MLB Medical Ward—and not without some star power filling the marquee. The most memorable moment of pain, of course, was the broken collarbone suffered by Los Angeles pitcher Zack Greinke in his brawl with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin that will cost him eight weeks. But perhaps the most impacting injury took place when Toronto sparkplug shortstop Jose Reyes suffered a severe knee sprain, leaving him out of action until the All-Star Break; it’s a major blow to a Blue Jay team that had already limped out of the gate in spite of his hot start.

Elsewhere, the Angels will be without ace pitcher Jered Weaver for a month after breaking his elbow attempting to break his fall as a comebacker glanced off his shoulder in Texas; Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham will miss six weeks to a broken hand; St. Louis closer Jason Motte will be out through mid-May—and possibly the entire season—with elbow issues; and Oakland infielder Scott Sizemore re-tore his ACL that kept him out all for last season, and we’ll force him to miss the rest of 2013 as well after just six at-bats worth of action.

Expected to make more relatively brief appearances on the disabled list is Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (strained hand muscle), Boston pitcher John Lackey (forearm), Texas pitcher Matt Harrison (back), Cincinnati pitchers Sean Marshall (shoulder) and Johnny Cueto (strained lat), and Chicago catcher Steve Clevenger, who strained his oblique swinging, missing and collapsing to the ground in extreme pain as the final out of the Cubs’ 3-2 Saturday loss to San Francisco. Like we said: It was a bad week for the Cubs.

TGG’s 2013 Season Preview
Lock the doors, batten down the hatches and head for the hills, because TGG’s Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio are stormin’ through with their picks for the coming baseball season. Check it out now in our Opinion section!


The Comebacker's Greatest Hits: Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2008 season.


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