This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: July 8-14, 2013
Are Biogenesis Users Really Witch Hunt Victims? Too Much Timmy for the Padres
Interesting Numbers Over the Last 162+ Games Safeco & Petco, A Half-year Later

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
25 8 10 2 0 3 6 4 0 0 0

While Chris Davis continues to generate all the thunder and headlines out of Baltimore, the 27-year-old center fielder has quietly been going about his All-Star business, keeping opposing pitchers off-kilter before Davis comes up and applies his own damage. Jones’ career numbers have shown a steady ascension with each passing year (that includes the number of games played—he hasn’t missed one since September 2011); if he keeps this going, he’ll have a shot at finishing with his first .300-30-100 campaign.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 8 8 2 0 4 5 3 0 0 2

There is life left in the veteran slugger’s bat after all. An underwhelming presence for the first three months that suggested that retirement wasn’t far down the road, the 37-year-old outfielder continued a recent power surge with three homers in the week’s first two games, adding a fourth on Saturday. This statistical jolt has reawakened the trade buzz regarding Soriano, something he has long since said he’d be okay with


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
22 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Not too long ago, there was Rookie of the Year buzz being given to the 22-year-old outfielder from Venezuela, but this past week must have brought deep pause to those giving premature praise. Arcia not only had a lousy week at the plate—add 12 strikeouts and a double play grounder to the numbers above—but he wasn’t Gold Glovin’ it in the field either, especially on a play in Tampa Bay where a catchable pop fly in foul territory missed his glove—but not his jaw.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

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

The 26-year-old outfielder has the energy to bunt for a double—as he did a week earlier—but an outage hit him as he failed to reach base safely for this whole past week until he managed an infield hit late in Sunday’s loss to the Brewers. Parra’s solid season to date has taken a u-turn since late June, as he’s hitting just .149 over his last 18 games with four runs and a mere RBI. It’s no accident that the Diamondbacks have been struggling along with him.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 15 8 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 10

Do the Rays have themselves yet another ace in the making? The 13th career start for the 24-year-old North Carolina native on Sunday was his best yet, shutting down the Astros on five hits; this follows six equally superb innings on Tuesday against the Twins in which he allowed an unearned run on just three hits. Perhaps the most telling aspect of a possible turn for greatness comes in the fact that he didn’t walk a single batter in his two outings this past week—after previously allowing five per nine innings.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 16 4 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 16

The introverted ace had an extraordinary week, running his win streak to five with two shutdown efforts—including a two-hit complete-game blanking of the Rockies on Saturday for his first shutout since his breakout 2009 campaign for Kansas City. Greinke really seems to have taken to Dodger Stadium, where he’s 5-0—in fact, wherever home has been (K.C., Milwaukee, L.A.), Greinke seems to be comfortable in front of friendly fans; over the last four-plus years, he’s 42-10 at home.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-0 2.1 6 7 7 2 0 0 0 0 2

The back end of the Red Sox rotation has been one of the few sore points in an otherwise fine rebound of a year in Boston, and the young rookie right-hander exposed that pain this past Tuesday by getting off to a horrible start in Seattle; thankfully for the Red Sox, the bullpen bailed him out by blanking the Mariners after his departure, allowing the Boston bats to mount a comeback towards victory. With a 1-2 record and 9.57 ERA over six starts this year, Webster was shipped back to Triple-A after this latest dud.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 2 5 7 7 4 0 0 0 0 2

Washington’s most celebrated fastballer since Walter Johnson has been weighed down with a losing record primarily thanks to non-existent run support, but his latest loss—Friday at Miami—was all on him. Strasburg was uncharacteristically off, walking three of the first four batters he faced (they all scored on Marcell Ozuna’s triple), and was done by the end of the second inning, having already tied career highs with seven earned runs and four walks allowed. Strasburg’s ERA ballooned from 2.45 to 2.99.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay Rays (6-1)

Three weeks ago, a disheveled and beat-up Rays team was being threatened with a last-place spot in the over-the-top AL East. But they’ve since won 17 of 21, allowing less than three runs per game thanks to recalibrated pitching that’s hit high stride with David Price, Matt Moore and even Chris Archer (see above) mowing down opponents with ease. It took one of the most dominant debuts by a pitcher in recent memory (Houston’s Jarred Cosart, on Friday) to keep the Rays from being undefeated for the week.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Los Angeles Dodgers (5-2)

Even though they split a four-game home series against the Rockies, the week was already won after the Dodgers came to Phoenix and swept the first-place Diamondbacks in three games to close the gap and make Los Angeles a relevant factor in the playoff chase. A healthy Yasiel Puig might have helped things toward the end of the week, but a hip problem partially sidelined him. The Dodgers can thank goodness that the All-Star Break is upon us, for it gives Puig a serious rest he’ll need.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City Royals (2-5)

The week started beautifully for the Men in Royal Blue, winning two games at Yankee Stadium to move within a game of the .500 mark—but then it all fell apart, as five straight losses killed any positive momentum before the All-Star Break. Now, Kansas City is eight games back of the front-running Tigers and, worse, nearly ten games out of the wild card picture. Blame it all on a disappointing offense that may be in the middle of the pack in terms of batting average (.255), but is dead last in the AL with a .375 slugging percentage.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Diego Padres (2-5)

A homestand against the Rockies and Giants was supposed to erase the bad memories of a disastrous road swing just completed, but the brooding continued as the Padres’ found new ways to lose, most sensationally on Saturday when they were no-hit by Tim Lincecum. A lost offense finally was found on Sunday when the Friars racked up ten runs on the Giants to match their entire scoring output for the earlier six games of the week. Eric Stults especially earns stopper status by getting credit for the Padres’ only two wins of the week.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, July 8
Zack Greinke, in his first start against Arizona since his role in a series of nasty brawls back at Dodger Stadium on June 11, allows two hits in seven shutout innings and collects three hits of his own as Los Angeles runs over the Diamondbacks at Phoenix, 6-1.

The New York Mets edge the Giants at San Francisco in overtime, 4-3, when they’re gifted a run on a two-out Brandon Crawford error in the 16th inning. The Giants have multiple chances to win the game throughout extra innings and leave 18 men on base; 34 total strikeouts include 19 by the Mets and five by the Giants’ Brandon Belt, who’s hitless in eight overall at-bats.

Another marathon is given a more definitive finish as the Atlanta Braves storm for six runs in the 14th to defeat the Marlins at Miami, 6-1. Justin Upton opens the floodgates for the Braves with a two-run double; Chris Johnson caps it with a single that ultimately clears the bases, thanks in part to an error by the Marlins’ Justin Ruggiano.

There will be no no-hitter for Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey, who allows runs in each of first three innings at Milwaukee—and there will be no win for the Reds, losing 4-3 when Joey Votto’s bid for a go-ahead home run in the ninth is stolen by the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez on a leaping catch at the wall for the game’s final out.

Forty-year-old Bartolo Colon pitches seven strong innings and closer Grant Balfour sets a franchise record with his 41st consecutive save to give Oakland a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh, knocking the Pirates out of a first-place tie in the NL Central.


Tuesday, July 9
The Chicago White Sox pound out 23 hits—15 in the last two innings alone—with Alex Rios collecting six of them to tie an American League record shared by 32 others (including five White Sox players) in a 11-4 beating of the Tigers at Detroit. Of Rios’ six hits, five are singles and the other a triple; four of his hits come off of Tiger starter Justin Verlander, the most by one player off the Detroit ace.

The San Diego Padres end a ten-game losing skid courtesy of pitcher Eric Stults, who throws his second complete game of the year—and the second thrown by the Padres—in a 2-1 win over Colorado at Petco Park.

In his first game pitching for the Dodgers since a trade from Miami, Ricky Nolasco allows just a run on four hits and no walks in seven innings to tame the Diamondbacks, 6-1. Arizona starter Ian Kennedy, suspended ten games after his participation in the beanball war back in June with the Dodgers, hits Hanley Ramirez in the first inning—but is also hit around for six runs in 5.2 innings.

Alfonso Soriano, on one of his patented power binges, drives out two homers for the Chicago Cubs, who hit five overall in a 7-2 defeat of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Wrigley Field. Soriano now has eight homers over his last 11 games; he had seven in his previous 72 games.


Wednesday, July 10
In Boston’s 11-4 trouncing of the Mariners at Seattle, David Ortiz surpasses Harold Baines for the most career hits by a designated hitter with a leadoff double in the second inning; he’ll homer an inning later. The 37-year-old Ortiz now has 1,690 hits when slotted at the DH spot.

Zack Wheeler, two years ago a top Giants prospect traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran (who played two months in San Francisco before signing a free-agent deal with St. Louis), returns to San Francisco and stymies the reeling Giants through seven innings, allowing a run on three hits to give New York an easy 7-2 win and a sweep of the series. The Giants have now lost 16 of their last 19 and are only the fourth defending champion to be ten games below the .500 mark before the All-Star Break.

A two-hour rain delay before the first pitch is well worth the wait for the Pirates, who defeat the A’s 5-0 behind seven innings of shutout ball pitched by Francisco Liriano. It’s the first-ever victory for the Bucs over Oakland after 11 losses; they were the last team to have gone winless against another in MLB history.


Thursday, July 11
Derek Jeter returns to the New York Yankees’ lineup and, playing the DH, strokes a single on the first pitch he sees. But that’s as good as it gets for the future Hall-of-Famer in his first game back in nine months, as he goes hitless in his next three at-bats and departs late with an injured quad, requiring a MRI. The rest of the Yankees chip in with ten hits and outlast Kansas City, 8-4.

In the Tigers’ 6-3 loss to the White Sox, Miguel Cabrera hits a solo blast to become the first-ever player to accumulate 30 homers and 90 RBIs before the All-Star Break. His homer is followed by a Chris Sale pitch that buzzes the chin of Prince Fielder, an event that raises the tension between the two teams and later leads to a bench-clearing scrum.

On the day he’s selected to the NL All-Star team as winner of the “Final Vote,” Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman thanks the fans by knocking in four runs on three hits to lift the Braves to a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds.


Friday, July 12
Jarred Cosart has a spectacular debut for the Houston Astros, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finishing with eight innings of two-hit shutout ball as he outduels David Price and ends the Tampa Bay Rays’ eight-game win streak at St. Petersburg, 2-1. The last pitcher to take a no-hitter that deep into his first game was Detroit’s Bill Slayback in 1972. Despite his gem, Cosart is scheduled back in Triple-A with hopes of rejoining the Astros later.

On a rainy evening in the Bronx, the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera closes out a 2-0 win over Minnesota for his 30th save on the year—a record 15th time he’s reached that plateau, breaking a previous tie with Trevor Hoffman. Hiroki Kuroda, not an All-Star, pitches five shutout innings for New York and assumes the AL ERA lead at 2.65.

Stephen Strasburg slogs through the worst outing of his four-year career, allowing seven runs on five hits and a season-high four walks in just two innings of work as the Marlins pound Washington at Miami, 8-3.


Saturday, July 13
Eleven days after being on the losing end of a no-hitter, Tim Lincecum turns it around and tosses his own no-no—the first of his career—as the Giants sail over the Padres at San Diego, 9-0. Lincecum strikes out 13, walks four and hits a batter, but gets the job done on 148 pitches—easily the most thrown by a pitcher this year, and just one shy of Edwin Jackson’s 149 thrown in 2010, the most-ever tossed in a no-hitter. The Padres have now lost 14 of their last 15 games.

After a 13-0 start, Detroit’s Max Scherzer finally lands in the “L” column as the Rangers tally four times off him in six innings—and more importantly, he gets no support as Derek Holland keeps the Tigers at bay with a 7-1 Texas win.

The White Sox and Phillies toil through two extra-inning contests in a day-night doubleheader at Philadelphia; Chicago wins the first game in 11 innings, 5-4, but loses the nightcap in 13, 2-1. Both games last three hours and 53 minutes each, and the first game is further extended due to a 41-minute rain delay.


Sunday, July 14
Two pitchers—one a household baseball name, the other a no-name rookie—take no-hitters into the seventh inning but fail to make it into the eighth. In Detroit, Justin Verlander is seven outs away from his third career no-no when Texas’ Mitch Moreland doubles to right-center; Verlander exits at the end of the frame and the Tiger bullpen maintains the shutout from there, defeating the Rangers, 5-0.

Meanwhile, out west in Oakland, Boston’s Brandon Workman—in his first major league start—has the A’s no-hit through six, but Coco Crisp leads off the seventh with an infield hit. Two batters later, Josh Donaldson ends Workman’s day with a game-tying homer, and the A’s eventually defeat the Red Sox in 11 innings, 3-2.

Chris Davis connects on his 37th homer of the season, tying Reggie Jackson (in 1969) for the most longballs registered before the All-Star Break. Davis also doubles and knocks in four runs on the day, lifting the Orioles to a 7-4 win over Toronto; he has gone deep in four straight games and, over his last 18 contests, has 13 hits—nine homers, three doubles and just one single.


The Imminent Eruption of Mt. Biogenesis
Rumors are running rampant that Major League Baseball will, sometime after the All-Star Break, punish 20 players—including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun—for their past steroids connection with Biogenesis. Suspensions are expected to be at least 100 games—and in the case of Rodriguez, possibly much more.

The evidence culled directly from the horse’s mouth, Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch, is said to be so damning that Rodriguez—who reportedly was so emotionally shaken after a Friday meeting with MLB that he skipped out on a rehab game hours later for the Yankees’ Class-A team—is considering a plea bargain to save face and cut his losses. If so, other accused players may follow suit.

The union, of course, will do all it can to step in and protect the accused, even if the evidence is overwhelming. After all, even those holding the smoking gun need representation.

Columnists, bloggers and fans are already chatting up a storm and positioning themselves on along the fence of opinion. On one side, there’s those who are saying good riddance for people like Rodriguez, who apparently couldn’t help but to keep injecting even after his woe-is-me steroids confession four years earlier assumedly scared him straight. On the other side, there’s those who are saying that this is nothing more than a bully-oriented witch hunt perpetrated by MLB.

To those with that latter opinion, let’s talk. This is no witch hunt. Baseball is desperately trying to clean up a game that’s a symbol of innocence, family bonding and good ‘ol fashioned Americana. Call that hokey if you want, but then there’s this: Rodriguez and Braun fooled baseball once, so shame on them. Now, they’ve tried to fool MLB twice, but rather than feeling shame upon itself, MLB is just flat-out ticked, and deservedly so. It’s incensed that Rodriguez played the nice guy after fessing up in 2009 and, from the looks of it, just kept on injecting behind the resuscitated persona. It’s incensed that Braun got away without a suspension the first time on a technicality, and yet even after all of that may have continued on with his steroid use.

Strap yourselves in, folks. We’re in for a bumpy ride this coming week.

Those Were the Days
John Rocker, the former closer who everyone loves to hate (and for good reason), told a CBS radio station in Cleveland this past week that steroids should be allowed in baseball. “When people are paying their $80, $120 whatever it may be, to buy their ticket and come watch that game, it’s almost like the circus is in town. They are paid to be entertained. They wanna see some clown throw a fastball 101 MPH and some other guy hit it 500 feet. That’s entertainment.” It’s also hazard to one’s health, as we’ve heard and seen by other steroid users in numerous sports who’ve perished or become gravely ill as a result of taking them. Rocker himself might want to take heed; after all, he was listed in the Mitchell Report as a user of performance enhancement drugs.

Freak Show in the Gaslamp Quarter
Tim Lincecum’s exhaustive no-hitter this past Saturday at San Diego couldn’t have been better timed. With the All-Star Break looming—and Lincecum’s next starting assignment thus not scheduled for at least eight days—San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy found an out in avoiding one of the more agonizing things a manager has to face: Do you let a pitcher pile up the pitch count to achieve the no-hitter, or do you think about the long term, deny history and take him out, even with the no-hitter still intact? “He wouldn’t have talked to me the rest of the year if I took him out,” Bochy quipped after the game.

The former two-time Cy Young Award winner, who’s fallen on hard times over the last few years with a decelerated fastball and an ugly knack for giving up the big inning, didn’t necessarily show off the old stuff but instead relied on a craftiness most pitchers must embrace once the heater slows up. Of Lincecum’s 148 pitches—a career high and one shy of the record for a no-hitter—96 were strikes, most on change-ups and curves that Padre hitters couldn’t lay off on. His dominance was established early on when he struck out six straight batters, and although his location began to suffer as the innings wore on, the Padres couldn’t take advantage. And when the Padres appeared that they would, they were victimized by a flawless Giant defense—including two terrific throws by Pablo Sandoval well behind third base and a sensational diving grab by right fielder Hunter Pence to end the eighth.

It was the first no-hitter ever pitched in the ten-year history of Petco Park—something of a surprise since the ballpark has played generously for pitchers until the fences were moved in this year (see “Pitching Paradise Lost” below)—and it’s the eighth no-hit loss for the Padres, who remain the only major league team without a no-no of its own.

From Break to Break
We’re often reminded of how players and teams suddenly surge after the All-Star Break, but can they keep it up through the following season up to the next break? Below is a collection of interesting facts and numbers as we pore through the figures over the last calendar year, starting from the end of the last All-Star Break.

The best team over this period? The Oakland A’s, with a 107-67 record. Five other teams eclipsed 100 wins, including Cincinnati (103-68), Atlanta (102-70), Baltimore (101-72) and Tampa Bay (100-72).

There are no surprises at the bottom of the list. Houston (55-115) is by far the majors’ worst team, followed in the NL by the Miami Marlins (63-107).

Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera is still playing at triple-crown level—leading not just the American League but the majors in batting average (.353), home runs (56) and RBIs (a whopping 163 in 168 games). Baltimore’s Chris Davis is tied with Cabrera on the home run count, and distantly behind but leading the National League is Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez, with 38.

Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants is your NL batting champ with a .352 average, and also leads all major leaguers with 50 doubles.

Shin-Soo Choo leads the majors in walks (101) and times hit by a pitch (27).

For those who think the Angels’ Albert Pujols has faded from superstardom, not so fast, my friend. Pujols’ .274 average is nothing to write home about, but his AL-best 47 doubles, 31 homers and 111 RBIs aren’t too shabby.

Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw is clearly the best pitcher; despite a good but not spectacular 16-10 record, he’s the major league leader in ERA (2.03) and tied with Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee for the most innings pitched (252.1).

Max Scherzer, with his 13-1 start to 2013, is the majors’ only 20-game winner at a spiffy 21-3. Four others have 19 W’s: St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright, Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore, Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann and (in a surprise) the Orioles’ Chris Tillman.

With These Guys, It’ll Play in Peoria
Beyond the All-Star Game, where is there a good place to catch the stars? Try the minors. Over the last three weeks, the lower circuits have been populated with the likes of Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez—stars of yesteryear attempting to recapture earlier glory through rehab or rejuvenation.

For Jeter, it was simply a matter of rehab before returning to the Yankees, which he finally did this past week (albeit briefly, leaving his first game with a quad injury that put him back on the shelf for at least a week). Warming up for the Yankees’ Triple-A club in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Jeter had a hit and four walks among 13 plate appearances.

For Ramirez, his current work with the Triple-A Round Rock Express is more an audition than rehab, his latest opportunity to show the majors—and more pointedly the Texas Rangers, who signed him to a minor league deal—that he still has something left. In seven games through Saturday, Ramirez hasn’t disappointed; he’s hitting .280 with a pair of homers.

Which brings us to the beleaguered, bedeviled and vilified Rodriguez. The rehab sessions, to say nothing of the steroids, haven’t paid off in a successful practice run at the lower levels of the minors. Between Class-A Charleston and A+ Tampa, Rodriguez has just two hits (both singles) in 19 plate appearances. But some people—most notably the New York Daily NewsBill Madden—believes Rodriguez’s minor league rehab is nothing more than an “elaborate charade,” part of a scheme to ensure that he declares himself as a member of the “unable to perform” list before any Biogenesis suspension kicks in and, as a result, will allowed him to be paid the remaining $100 million of his contract with the Yankees.

Pitching Paradise Lost
This year, Seattle’s Safeco Field and San Diego’s Petco Park—two ballparks notorious for being tough on hitters while making ordinary pitchers look like All-Stars—had surgery done to bring in some of more distant fences and give sluggers something more of a fair shake. Apparently, the doctor delivered.

At Safeco, what the reduced field dimensions would wrought became obvious in the Mariners’ second home game of the year when they combined with the Houston Astros for eight home runs. The onslaught on the bleachers has continued—12 balls were sent over the fence in a four-game series against Boston this past week—and as of Friday, Safeco has surrendered 107 homers, as compared to 122 for all of 2012. Naturally, the runs have followed. Last season, the Mariners scored the fewest runs at home among all 30 teams while allowing the fewest; this year, they’re ranked 13th and 21st, respectively.

Similar results have been generated down in San Diego, where Petco Park reigned as the mother of all pitchers’ parks since its 2004 debut. Already this year, 96 fly balls have cleared the brought-in fences to close in on the 109 belted all of last season. The run production hasn’t been quite as mind-altering as what’s been seen at Seattle, with the Padres ranked 20th in scoring at home (as compared to 24th in 2012) while they’re 16th in giving them up (they were 12th last season).

The question is: Have the reduced dimensions increased the fortunes of the Mariners and Padres in the standings and at the gate? No. Attendance is essentially the same, while both teams are on pace to finish roughly the same as last season, with records some ten games below the .500 mark. (The home records show little shift as well.)

So what does all of this mean? Beyond some inflated egos among the hitters and deflated headshaking from the pitchers, not much.

Finally, a Night Off for the Bullpen
This past Tuesday, Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta threw a three-hit shutout of the Cincinnati Reds—and in doing so became the first Brewer to go the distance since April 5, 2011, a stretch of 407 games. That shattered the major league mark previously set by the Florida Marlins, who labored 301 games without a complete-game performance by a starter between 2006-08.

Vile Thing
Arizona pitcher Brandon McCarthy took issue with a comment made by on the MLB Network by Mitch Williams, for whom we agree with many others is not the brightest bulb on the Studio 42 set. Because the network and Williams have so much airtime on its hands, the subject wandered to McCarthy, who suffered multiple brain injuries (including a skull fracture) after getting beaned by a vicious comebacker last season; the clip of the play was shown while Williams commented: “If you don’t pitch in, this is what’s gonna happen.”

Hours later, McCarthy replied on Twitter (we cleaned up the inevitable sloppy social media grammar): “’If you go to autotrader.com, this is what’s going to happen’—Mitch Williams, talking over a clip of an eight-car pileup.” McCarthy’s followers, many of them obviously with a biting sense of humor, couldn’t help but ante up the variations. “’If you build a boat, this is what’s gonna happen’—Mitch Williams reviewing some Titanic footage,” typed one. “’If you fail out of art school, this is what happens’—Mitch Williams on the Third Reich,” chimed in another. A third one added: “If you sit down on a toilet, this is what happens,” accompanied with a picture of the moment in Jurassic Park when the lawyer is about to be eaten by a T-Rex after trying to hide in the bathroom.

The Only Thing to Fear is Fehr Himself
The health problems of current baseball union head
Michael Weiner have intensified to the point that there’s been discussions about a possible replacement, temporary or otherwise. The one name that reportedly popped up is former union leader Don Fehr, who’s fresh off nearly ruining the 2012-13 National Hockey League season. All we ask the union is that it keeps Gene Orza, Fehr’s Number Two, retired.

At Home With the Bensons
Anna Benson mug shot In baseball, you’re always going to have a few bad seeds who give the rest of the players a bad name with their ongoing antics (
Albert Belle, Milton Bradley, Nyjer Morgan, et al). Well, the same philosophy can be applied to the players’ wives. Take Anna Benson—and as her husband, former pitcher Kris Benson, might say, please. Anna, one of the more visible wives on the scene with her appearances on reality shows and pseudo-Playboy covers, got more attention in the worst way this past week when she trespassed onto her estranged hubby’s home wielding a gun and metal baton while wearing a bulletproof vest. Anna’s goal, according to sources, was to demand money at gunpoint from Kris. She got arrested instead and gave a what-me-worry smirk in the mug shot studio, as shown above.

Anna can now take her place alongside other baseball wives gone wild, such as D-list actress Tawny Kitaen—who shed her nice-gal Bachelor Party image and terrorized pitcher Chuck Finley back in 2002.

Stuffers in Arms
It’s understandable that the Giants were pushing their fans to vote one of their own,
Hunter Pence, into the All-Star Game as the Final Five vote, but why Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit as well? It was all apparently an agreement made between last season’s World Series opponents in which each player would get additional mass support beyond that of his hometown fans, enhancing their chances to get selected; it’s a classic scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours routine. Objectivity never looked more invisible. By the way, neither Pence nor Benoit won out.

Wanna Win? Botch the Ball
There have been five games this season in which one team committed four or more errors than its opponent. In three of those games, the team with the most errors won. Last year, teams in similar situations were 0-15.

Let Us Know When Clayton Koufax Arrives in L.A.
Yes, the Cleveland Indians really did have a pitcher named
C.C. Lee make his major league debut on Sunday. No, he’s not a hybrid creation who’s part CC Sabathia and part Cliff Lee, two pitchers who once co-aced the Cleveland rotation in the late 2000s, but a Taiwanese native whose formal name is Chen-Chang Lee and goes by C.C. for short. He’s spent the last four years in the minors and hasn’t done too badly, registering a 2.98 ERA over 154 games.

Relievers on a Bullpen Run
In Friday’s 5-2 win for Cincinnati over the Braves in Atlanta, the Reds’ streak of 32.2 relief innings without allowing a run was snapped when
Aroldis Chapman allowed a ninth-inning run. That’s the longest run by any NL team since 2002, and the longest in Cincinnati history.

Ted Williams Squared
Early in the week, the Dodgers’
Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez were both hitting over .400—making them the first pair of teammates since the Philadelphia Athletics’ Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane in 1931 with 100-plus at-bats and .400-plus averages after July 1.

She Tweeted What?
“Don’t make me go Ana (sic) Benson on you guys…Vote.”
Jessica Scheppers, in an online plea to fans to vote her husband, Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers, in MLB’s Final Vote for the All-Star Game. Tanner didn’t win; at last report, Jessica is still managing to be on her best behavior.

League vs. League
With near-total home field advantage this past week, the National League chiseled away at the American League’s lead in the interleague wars, winning seven of 11 games with just one game hosted by an AL team (a Monday makeup between the Chicago White Sox and Cubs). As of this past Sunday, the AL leads the NL with a 107-94 ledger on the year.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Kyle Seager, the young and talented Seattle third baseman, ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 14 games. Seager is hitting a sharp .442 with five homers during his run.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekMore than a few stars hit the shelf this past week, including the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (shoulder), Texas ace Yu Darvish (upper back fatigue) and DH Lance Berkman (hip), Milwaukee slugger Aramis Ramirez (left knee), Atlanta outfielder B.J. Upton (muscle strain), Philadelphia outfielder Ben Revere (broken foot), New York Mets pitcher Shaun Marcum (blood clot in his throwing arm) and Cincinnati catcher Ryan Hanigan (sprained wrist).


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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