This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: September 8-14, 2014
How’s Biogenesis Users Doing Now? Bud Selig’s Selective Memory
Should MLB Better Protect its Hitters—and Fans? What Happened, Chris Davis?


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
25 10 10 2 2 2 5 2 2 3 0

The Anaheim wunderkind always seems to be on the fringe of this honor, but he broke through this past week by topping all American Leaguers for only the second time in his three years of stardom. As always, Trout did a little bit of everything—getting hits (and getting hit), going deep, splitting the gaps, scoring runs and knocking them in. He’s not a lock for the AL MVP—a statement that may infuriate those who felt he should have won the honor each of the last two seasons—but his total package makes him a top candidate.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 6 10 0 0 4 6 3 0 0 0

It was a terrific start to the week for the 23-year-old Dominican, homering in each of the Marlins’ four games at Milwaukee to give him 23 on the year—but no one probably felt the residual pain of Giancarlo Stanton’s hit to the face more than he; Stanton’s absence muted Ozuna’s numbers for the rest of the week as the focus from opposing pitchers grew greater upon him. Still, Ozuna’s efforts confirm his status as a rising star being paid the minimum—the Marlins’ favorite kind of player.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

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

Sorry to rain on the farewell parade, Captain. We could be worse, evoking what SBNation.com said just a few weeks ago when they criticized Jeter for his “indisputable selfishness.” And that was before his bat went to crap. Jeter end the week hitless in 24 straight at-bats, seven shy of his all-time high from 2004. Adding insult to injury—or vice versa, either way works—he got hit on the elbow during Thursday’s Hitbatsmenpalooza throughout the majors. Basically, Jeter’s running on empty at this point, hitting just .179 since the start of August.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

There’s been a bit of debate regarding the 28-year-old outfielder’s time—or lack thereof—with the Phillies long since out of the playoff picture; some believe manager Ryne Sandberg should give more play to the guy who, a few short years ago, was considered the second coming of Ryan Howard. (Take his career numbers to date and it looks like something Howard would produce in a mediocre year—like this one.) But some of the noise was muted this past week after Ruf got the chance and flubbed, going hitless with six strikeouts.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8

The 23-year-old right-hander from Medford, New York got his Monday start against the Cubs off to a heart-pounding start when he missed, by mere inches, getting knocked senseless in the head from leadoff batter Chris Coghlan. From that point on, it was a piece of cake as he needed just 93 pitches to secure his first career shutout, a three-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts; it also improved his rookie season record to 10-5. While Stroman hasn’t been consistent, he does hold strong promise for the future in Toronto.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 13 8 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 9

Last season, the young Texan was strangely ignored by the Cardinals during the postseason despite a stellar rookie effort; but if the rest of his September goes like this past week, the Redbirds will have to come with an even more baffling excuse to keep him off the mound come October. Miller was sharp as a tack in two starts, shutting down the Reds over seven innings on Monday before having it easy with a dejected Rockies team on Saturday. Through it all, he walked none—a surprising fact given that only three NL pitchers have walked more.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 3 7 7 7 2 0 0 0 0 0

There’s been plenty of good moments for the 26-year-old righty, including a terrific 3-0 start and seven outings of six or more scoreless innings thrown. But Gibson’s suffered through some lousy memories he soon hopes to repress, such as this past Thursday at Cleveland when he got knocked about while struggling with his command. The overall result for the second-year pitcher is jambalaya, with an 11-11 record and 4.58 ERA. But the Twins need him; after Phil Hughes; no one’s won more than five on this team.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 1 8 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 2

Huddy quickly turned to puddy as he pitched a scuddy of a duddy this past Saturday at San Francisco, lasting only an inning-plus as the Dodgers set a defiant tone for the evening on their way to a 17-0 rout of the Giants. The wily 39-year-old veteran has made 455 starts, and none was shorter than this one. It’s all a bit puzzling that Hudson’s home ERA at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park is a full run higher (3.94) than on the road (2.88).


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Baltimore Orioles (6-1)

It’s a weird thing about the Orioles; the more key players they lose to injury or suspension, the better they seem to play. The winning-with-mirrors philosophy seems to really be paying off after sweeping the Red Sox to start the week and pushing aside the Yankees in three of four games to end it. The champagne’s been ordered, but they better have the ice at the ready as well, because the Orioles end the week as few as two days away from clinching their first divisional title since 1997. Then they can play the back-ups—and watch them win, 20-0.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington Nationals (5-2)

After a couple of iffy weeks, the Nationals got back on track and strengthened their hold on the NL East—which they now look all but likely to win. The key series was early at Nationals Park against the second-place Braves, who couldn’t initiate the improbable stretch run rally by losing two of three to the Nats; Washington then took off to its home away from home—New York’s Citi Field—where it’s won 28 of their last 33 games. It’s next onto Atlanta, where the Nats may get to celebrate the divisional title in front of the Braves.


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

The upstart Royals had a terrific shot at applying the knockout punch to the Tigers to start the week, but they lost two of three at Detroit—then continued to flounder on the weekend, losing three of four back home to a done-in Boston squad while the Tigers swept the Indians to take a 1.5-game lead over Kansas City in the AL Central. The Royals get another shot this coming weekend against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium; if they can’t make good on that, they may end up being the one lying flat on the canvas.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Colorado Rockies (0-6)

Eight runs and no wins in six games this past week for the rotten Rockies. Yes, you guessed it; they were on the road. The thick air has really grounded the Rockies’ bats; on the road, they’ve hit .226, scored fewer runs and allowed more runs than any other team and have, by far, the worst record away from home at 20-55. September 29 couldn’t come any sooner for a team that’s in real danger of establishing its worst overall record in franchise history (they need to go 6-7 to avoid that fate).


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, September 8
In a crucial series to help decide one of the few divisions still up for grabs, the Detroit Tigers bolt out to an 8-2 lead after three innings and coast to a 9-5 win over the visiting Royals, reducing Kansas City’s lead in the AL Central to one game. The victory is the 9,000th all-time for Detroit, the fourth AL team to reach the milestone after the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.

The Atlanta Braves’ virtual last shot at stealing the NL East from first-place Washington gets off to a bad start as they get stifled by the Nationals’ Doug Fister (two hits allowed in seven shutout innings), 2-1. The Braves are now eight games back with 18 to play.

Toronto keeps its slim wild card hopes alive with an 8-0 whitewashing of the visiting Chicago Cubs. Marcus Stroman throws a three-hit shutout, walks none and fires just 93 pitches for his first career blanking.

The Oakland A’s continue to resemble the Titanic. They blow a 4-3 ninth-inning lead at Chicago when the White Sox’ Tyler Flowers goes deep to send the game into extras; three innings later, Flowers does it again, this time to win, 5-4. Flowers is the second catcher in major league history to hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and a game-winner in overtime. The A’s are now eight games back of Los Angeles of Anaheim—and just a game ahead of Seattle for second place in the AL West.


Tuesday, September 9
Behind Max Scherzer (16-5), the Tigers defeat the Royals at Detroit and are now tied with Kansas City for first in the AL Central. J.D. Martinez opens the Tigers scoring in the first with a sacrifice fly and ends it in the fifth with his 20th homer of the year.

The hot-and-cold Yusmeiro Petit is on fire against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team he came within an out of pitching a perfect game against almost a year ago. Petit goes the distance, scattering a run on four hits and no walks while throwing just 84 pitches—68 of them for strikes—in San Francisco’s 5-1 win. Giants rookie second baseman Joe Panik has five hits, all singles—but neither scores or knocks in a run.

Philadelphia’s Freddy Galvis, mired in a 5-for-59 slump, breaks out with a 3-for-3 night including a double, home run and stolen base to lift the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.


Wednesday, September 10
After two Royals losses at Detroit, James Shields plays the stopper—and effectively, we might add—with seven shutout innings against the Tigers; the stout K.C. bullpen adds two perfect innings and the Royals avoid a sweep with a 3-0 victory to retake the AL Central lead.

Oakland’s Jeff Samardzija tosses seven shutout innings of his own and leaves with a slim 1-0 lead—but the A’s bullpen blows it once again, as Luke Gregerson gives up a two-run single to Avisail Garcia in the eighth inning as the White Sox administer a 2-1 loss at Chicago. It’s the sixth loss—all by one run—in the last eight games for the A’s.

Seattle fails to pick up a game on the A’s with a 5-2 loss to the visiting Astros. Jose Altuve has two hits, including a RBI double, to reach 200 on the year.

The Pirates maintain their NL wild card edge with a 6-3 win at Philadelphia. Andrew McCutchen becomes the first visiting player in the 11-year history of Citizens Bank Park to rip an inside-the-park home run.

The New York Mets finish off a three-game sweep of the visiting Colorado Rockies with a second straight shutout thrown by a rookie, as Rafael Montero tosses 5.1 innings to help set up the Mets’ 2-0 win. The last time rookies pitched and won back-to-back blankings for the Mets were Jim McAndrew and Jerry Koosman in 1968.


Thursday, September 11
It’s a strange, painful end to the top of the fifth in Milwaukee. With two outs, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is hit in the face from a Mike Fiers 88-MPH pitch, resulting in multiple facial fractures and the likely end of Stanton’s year—and perhaps the end of his Marlins career. On the next pitch, Fiers hits Reed Johnson on the hand—and like Stanton, he technically swings at the pitch and strikes out. The Marlins are furious at Fiers and the benches clear; Miami’s Casey McGehee is ejected for barking at Fiers, Miami manager Mike Redmond is ejected for arguing the strike-swing calls, and Fiers is wisely removed, earning the 4-2 Brewers win in the minimum five innings.

At New York, the Yankees’ Chris Young breaks up Alex Cobb’s bid for a no-hitter in the eighth—and an inning later breaks up Cobb’s bid for a win when he belts a three-run homer off closer Jake McGee in a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. The Yankees’ Chase Headley feels Giancarlo Stanton’s pain—getting beaned in the jaw just moments before Young’s walk-off blast; he’s listed as day-to-day.

For the second time in two weeks, the Angels do something they had never previously done prior to this season: Use eight pitchers in a nine-inning game, by design. Again, it works; they easily outpace the Rangers at Arlington, 7-3, for their eighth win in a row while reducing their magic number in the AL West to seven. One sour sidebar for the Angels: Albert Pujols strikes out four times for the first time in his 14-year career.

The Indians give themselves a big boost in their bid to stay alive in the AL wild card race by sweeping the Minnesota Twins in a day-night doubleheader at Cleveland, 8-2 and 2-0. Carlos Santana not only homers in both games, but each knock gives the Twins leads they will not relinquish. The Tribe is now 3.5 games behind second wild card Detroit.


Friday, September 12
The Giants open up an important three-game weekend series against the visiting Dodgers with a 9-0 romp, setting the tone with four quick runs off Los Angeles starter Hyun-Jin Ryu—who departs after just one inning with shoulder stiffness. Madison Bumgarner allows just three hits in seven scoreless innings and collects his 18th win for the Giants, who are now just a game back of the Dodgers in the NL West.

The Tigers reclaim sole possession of first in the AL Central with a 7-2 home win over potential playoff party crasher Cleveland, while Kansas City loses at home to Boston by a 4-2 count. J.D. Martinez is again the offensive hero for the Tigers, belting a triple and home run while knocking in four.

If there was any doubt that the Orioles would win the AL East, it’s all but removed as Baltimore enjoys a day-night doubleheader sweep of the visiting Yankees by 2-1 and 8-2 scores. The day game is won on a two-run, 11th-inning double from Jimmy Paredes, overcoming a solo New York shot in the top of the frame by Thursday hero Chris Young. The Orioles’ magic number in the AL East is now down to five; for the Yankees, it’s the first time in their last 52 doubleheaders (day-night or otherwise) going back to 2006 in which they’ve lost both games.

The New York Mets end a 12-game losing streak at home against Washington, edging the Nationals, 4-3. The Nats had won 27 of their previous 31 games at Citi Field.

In a game that features only four hits—two by each team—the Rays eke out a 1-0 win at Toronto behind Ryan Hanigan’s third-inning home run and seven shutout innings by Nathan Karns to earn his first big league victory in his fifth career start.


Saturday, September 13
A night after getting trounced, the Dodgers get even with the Giants—and then some. San Francisco’s Tim Hudson suffers through the shortest stint (one inning-plus) of his long career while Los Angeles starter Zack Greinke throws six shutout innings and adds a double and home run as the Dodgers pound away with a 17-0 rout. It’s the Giants’ worst shutout loss since the Chicago Cubs drubbed Christy Mathewson in a 1906 game, 19-0.

Detroit maintains its half-game lead over the Royals (7-1 winners over Boston) thanks to some eighth-inning theatrics from Alex Avila, who smacks a two-run homer to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead over the visiting Indians that holds.

The Mariners have a chance to overtake Oakland for second place in the AL West, but a 2-2 deadlock is broken in the tenth when the A’s notch a run on four walks—no hits—to triumph, 3-2. The A’s now have a 1.5-game lead over Seattle, but are still miles behind the Angels for first.

As for the Angels, they rack up their tenth straight win with a 5-2 home victory over Houston. Jered Weaver takes over the AL lead with his 17th win while Mike Trout enhances his MVP chances with two homers and a double.


Sunday, September 14
Clayton Kershaw takes over the major league lead with his 19th win, holding off the Giants for a 4-2 Dodgers victory and putting Los Angeles up by three games in the NL West with 13 to play. It’s Kershaw’s fifth straight win and 17th straight quality start; he’s now a lifetime 8-2 with an eye-opening 0.83 ERA at San Francisco.

The Phillies give Jonathan Papelbon a 4-1 lead to close in the ninth, but the opposing Marlins rally for four runs—the last on a Papelbon wild pitch—that will win the game for Miami, 5-4. After his removal, Papelbon appears to answer Philadelphia boobirds by giving an obscene gesture, catching the eye of umpire Joe West—who ejects him, leading to a nose-to-nose argument.

The Angels have their ten-game winning streak snapped as Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, 5-0 on the road against AL West foes this season, takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning before settling for a 6-1 victory.

Cleaner—But Meaner?
A year ago at this time, 13 baseball players were serving suspensions for their role in the Biogenesis scandal; a 14th, Alex Rodriguez, was stiff-arming the league through mediation before earning the biggest suspension of all. We thought we’d take a look at those players, who we assume are now clean, and see how they’ve performed since coming off the suspension and the drugs. In alpha order:

Antonio Bastardo. The Philadelphia reliever was in the midst of a terrific year (2.32 ERA) before he got suspended; he’s a bit more vulnerable in 2014, saddled with a 5-7 record and 4.03 ERA.

Ryan Braun. The MVP swagger of old is gone from the one-time superstar who foolishly fought the system and lost, badly. His 2014 numbers aren’t awful (.273, 19 homers, 80 RBIs), but they’re a far cry from pre-Biogenesis days.

Everth Cabrera. The ‘roids had the San Diego speedster emerging into a starring role last year, but since doing his time he’s been lost with a .232 average, far fewer walks and more strikeouts; adding insult to injury, he got busted for being under the influence of pot while driving a few weeks back.

Francisco Cervelli. The back-up backstop has watched mostly from the bench this season while pricey free agent Brian McCann has gotten most of the duty behind home plate; concussive issues haven’t helped. He has hit well, though, with a .280 average and 11 doubles in 40 games.

Nelson Cruz. Two questions come quickly to mind when you examine the sluggers’ eye-opening (39 homers, 102 RBIs) 2014 numbers: Why did you need the PEDs in the first place, or, have you been stashing away some leftover juice?

Fautino de los Santos. The reliever could never bust out of the minors even with Biogenesis’ subscriptions. The last report of his whereabouts had him playing in the Dominican Summer League.

Sergio Escalona. Like de los Santos, Escalona is a career minor leaguer who’s no longer on the American radar. You will find him trying to make a comeback in Venezuela—but at 30, we’ll see if anyone north of the border is interested.

Fernando Martinez. It’s understandable why the young outfielder made a call to Tony Bosch, as he continually hit a wall trying to get everyday play in the majors; a .206 career average in 99 games over five years had something to do with it. Last we heard, he was playing in his native Dominican Republic.

Jesus Montero. Even Alex Rodriguez’s Year After Biogenesis hasn’t been as rotten as Montero’s. The Seattle catcher showed up to spring camp 40 pounds overweight, played miserably in few games for the Mariners and found himself rehabbing at the low levels of the minors—where he engaged in a bizarre incident in which he nearly came to blows with a Mariners scout during a minor league game. After that, Seattle management informed Montero that his season was over, whether he liked it or not.

Jordan Norberto. The 27-year-old pitcher, with three years of scant experience at the big-league level, was at last report with the Tampa Bay organization and recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Jhonny Peralta. The veteran shortstop hasn’t been as dynamic as in 2013, when he was hitting .303 before his suspension—and .286 after, playing for Detroit in the postseason—but he got his money, signing a four-year, $53 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals that rankled many players who felt he was rewarded for his steroid-fueled numbers.

Cesar Puello. The 23-year-old Dominican outfielder got a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas in the New York Mets’ organization to start 2014 and has stayed there for the balance of the year, experiencing the usual muting of stats (.252, seven homers) typical for someone moving up the ladder. The 2015 season is crucial for Puello; he’ll need to show improvement or it might be judged that the lack of steroids just isn’t helping him.

Alex Rodriguez. The face of Biogenesis was suspended for the entire 2014 season; it will be interesting to see what he has left when he’s eligible to return next year, on the threshold of age 40 and 18 months since his last action.

Jordany Valdespin. Let go by the Mets, Valdespin was picked up by the Marlins where he played well enough at Triple-A to be promoted to the big club in July. He hasn’t highly impressed in Miami, hitting .216 in 42 games.

Hit by Epidemic?
This past Thursday was one of those days that MLB Central had to cringe and think, “Oh, great, another issue.” The issue, in this case, was a rash of hitters getting plunked. And not just any hitter, but really good, well-known ones: NL MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton was drilled in the face at Milwaukee and is feared lost for the season; AL MVP favorite Mike Trout was hit twice in Arlington against the Texas Rangers (he’s fine); and Derek Jeter was bonked on the elbow against the Tampa Bay Rays, who later struck the Yankees’ Chase Headley in the jaw. Additionally, All-Star-caliber talent in Carlos Gomez, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes were all nailed; and, perhaps because he felt he needed to be part of the hit parade, St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay—leading the majors in getting hit by pitches—got plunked as well, for the 19th time this year.

All in all, 14 players were officially hit on Thursday. We say “officially,” because Stanton and the player who subbed for him—Reed Johnson, who was hit on the very first pitch he saw—didn’t get ‘credit’ for being logged as getting hit because they both were in the process of swinging and, as a result, had strikes called on them.

So was this just all a one-day spike, or is this the loud collective thud of an emerging trend? We looked it up. Baseball is on pace to record around 1,650 HBPs this season, a 7% jump from 2013 and 11% from 2012. It would also be the most recorded since 2008, when hit batsmen was finishing off a downward trend from a peak of 1,890 batters struck in 2001.

We’re wondering, with the balance of numbers favoring the pitcher on an increasing basis over the last five years, if pitchers are hitting more players because they now feel more comfortable establishing the plate and sense they can start throwing inside to further intimidate opponents? And how would that account for the relative binge of hit batters back in the midst of the steroid era, which could have been explained because pitchers were desperate to win back the territory after being bludgeoned to death by juice-fueled slugging?

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if MLB begins to look into ways to cut down on these incidents. After all, the fear of losing Stanton and Trout to hit pitches is a palpable one for league officials, who are desperately trying to market these players and bring the sport’s household recognition back to what it once was.

And by the way, someone else looked it up and discovered that the most players hit in one day in baseball history was 22.

Is Getting Hit in the Stands Fair or Foul?
The hitters aren’t the only ones taking a beating at the ballpark. In an excellent and well-researched article by Bloomberg’s David Glovin this past week, in turns out that just as many—if not more—fans are also getting hit and hurt by foul balls. In one game alone at Atlanta’s Turner Field on May 20, four spectators required first aid after getting nailed.

We’ve been to enough games to see, first-hand, the damage a foul ball can do. In Oakland, a gentleman focusing on returning to his seat in the second deck behind home plate didn’t know that a foul ball was about to hit him square in the side of the head. At San Francisco’s AT&T Park, another fan was the victim of a head shot behind the visiting bullpen, down the right-field line, during batting practice. And in San Jose, home of the Giants’ Class-A affiliate, a wicked liner was laced past the dugout and ricocheted off the head of a female fan enjoying time in a beer garden. All three required immediate attention, while one was knocked cold from the contact.

The Bloomberg story cites other incidents, many of them even more sobering. As long as you sit within the flight of a batted ball, whether fair or foul, you’re at risk. Mike Coolbaugh, a minor league base coach, found this out the fatal way in 2007 when he was killed by a line drive. So did a fan at a 1970 game in Dodger Stadium—the only known fatality involving a fan hit by a foul ball at a major league ballpark.

The Coolbaugh death led baseball to require all base coaches to wear batting helmets. Beyond the backstop Plexiglas and netting that has been a staple of ballparks going back 100 years, nothing more has been done to protect the fans. There’s been talk of extending the netting down the lines to protect those most at risk: The fans sitting behind the dugouts and a few sections beyond. But resistance to that measure would likely be found less from MLB and more from the fans themselves, who don’t want to spend big bucks and watch a game “through a grid” as one person told Glovin.

Teams do post numerous signs along the lower deck and make multiple announcements via public address and/or the video boards to warn spectators of foul balls. But the distractions are too many for those to avoid the inevitable. Some will be too busy ordering food or passing the buck from six seats down, or they’ll be on their mobile devices doing any one a million things, from checking another score or taking a photo or calling someone to excitedly say they’re at the ballpark.

The best advice is the oldest: Pay attention to the game, and have the teams hammer the message into the fans’ head before the foul ball drilled at over 100 MPH does the same.

He Felt the Need for Speed
Last season, Chris Davis slammed 53 home runs with 138 RBIs and a .286 average—all career highs—and bragged that he did it all clean. But the Baltimore first baseman’s production has dropped off considerably this season; while his 26 homers, 72 RBIs and 60 walks have hardly been cause for concern, his struggle to maintain a .200 average—he’s currently batting .196—has been alarming. And then this came along.

On Friday, Davis was suspended 25 games by baseball for testing positive for amphetamines. He will miss the rest of the regular season and the first eight games of the Orioles’ postseason—should they get that far. If they don’t, the suspension carries into the first week of the 2015 season.

Davis said in an apologetic statement that he was given a medical exemption in 2013 to use Adderall, a legal stimulant, leading to the assumption he had something akin to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)—something other major leaguers claim to have, at more than twice the national rate (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). But Davis continued to use it this year without an exemption, was caught once—leading to a warning—and then caught a second time, leading to the suspension.

Questions: Did Davis take Adderall knowing that he wasn’t supposed to? And if so, why? (Or, as the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck asks: “How could anyone be so stupid?”)

Davis is the latest in a line of major leaguers that include Rafael Palmeiro and Ryan Braun who have tainted the trust of the legit players by saying one moment that they’re proudly clean and, in the next, are getting nailed with a positive test.

If you’re going to comment, just evoke Barry Bonds with “I don’t know what cheating is.” Better to come off ignorantly stupid than knowingly guilty.

Un-Total Recall
In San Francisco this past week as part of his self-aggrandized “farewell tour,” commissioner Bud Selig was asked about the spousal abuse issues plaguing the National Football League and answered with this: “We haven’t had any cases I’m happy to say for a long, long time. I can’t remember when the last time was.”

Um, Bud, maybe this will refresh your memory: Milton Bradley, Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Cox, Julio Lugo, Wil Cordero and Tawny Kitaen (oops, sorry, that’s the rare case of the wife beating down on the player—sorry we had to bring that up, Chuck Finley). All under your watch, Bud.

Humor aside, it’s shocking that Selig made that statement and, in the microscopic media floodlight that has caused collateral damage since the Ray Rice elevator video went public, he may very well come to regret saying it. Plus, he may have a difficult case thrown on his desk should accusations of sexual discrimination by a former Mets employee—claiming she was fired because owner/Selig pal Fred Wilpon disapproved of her pregnancy because she wasn’t married—takes up stronger legs.

Hey, Guys, Just Get it Right
You like your World Series in November? Then you may like what the 2015 baseball schedule has in store.

Opening Night is scheduled for Sunday, April 5 (teams to be determined); the thought, we suppose, is that it would be too early to start a week earlier, in the final days of March. That sounds fine, but that also means that the final day of play will take place four days into October—meaning that the postseason will likely stretch into the first week of November. Brrr…

Why not try this: Start it a week earlier with a Sunday game at a warm weather site (Los Angeles, Miami, Arizona) or covered facility (Seattle, Toronto, Tampa Bay) and then slowly get the rest of the games started over the next few days, circa March 31 or April 1? And, say, whatever happened to that cool little experiment in which the season ended midweek, which worked beautifully back in 2011? As it is, we’re back to wrapping up the season on a Sunday when half the teams or their fans don’t care, while the dominant NFL schedule de-prioritizes watching the more important MLB games to be played.

One thing we’ll see with the 2015 schedule is less overall travel. That’s because the interleague merry-go-round has teams playing their geographical counterparts from the other leagues, with the NL West vs. AL West, NL Central vs. AL Central and NL East vs. AL East.

Get ‘em Out, Son, Or You’ll Get an Early Bedtime
For the first time in major league history, a manager watched his son take the mound for his own team when the Giants’ Bruce Bochy summoned in Brett Bochy from the bullpen on Saturday at San Francisco. The scenario was not an enviable one for the younger Bochy; the opposing Dodgers had a 14-0 lead and the bases loaded. “Hey,” Dad told son, “I’m sorry to put you in this situation.” Fighting the nerves, Bochy walked his first batter, Juan Uribe, scoring one run; he hit another batter to start the next inning before conceding a two-run homer to Scott Van Slyke.

Frank Torre, R.I.P.
The brother of Hall of Famer Joe Torre probably received more attention in 1996 than at anytime during his seven-year playing career when he received a heart transplant on the eve of the 1996 World Series, won in six games by Joe’s Yankees over Atlanta. But it got him 18 years of extended life before passing away this week at age 82.

For a guy who never played full-time—the most at-bats he accrued in any one season was 372, in 1958Frank Torre was a pretty darn good player. He shined the most for the back-to-back pennant-winning teams of the Milwaukee Braves—belting two home runs in the 1957 World Series that resulted in Milwaukee’s first (and, still, only) world title, hit .309 in 1958 and led all NL first baseman in fielding percentage over both seasons. Unlike Joe—who was briefly Frank’s teammate in 1960—Frank lacked a power stroke but certainly knew how to put bat to ball; in 1,482 career at-bats, he struck out just 64 times.

So Why Does Jose Abreu Wear No. 79?
Here’s a fine read from mlb.com’s Anthony Castrovince, who explores some of the more unusual numbers worn by major league players (though he forgets—or simply won’t count—midget Eddie Gaedel’s 1/8 from his lone 1951 at-bat) and why they’re wearing them. According to Castrovince, the following numbers below have never been worn: 80, 86, 89, 90, 92 and 93.

Let the Bat Do the Work
We’ve never seen this, but maybe we’ll see it again—so long as San Francisco’s Hunter Pence is still playing.

This Week’s Reminder That Everybody’s Striking Out
The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox tied a major league record by recording a combined 45 strikeouts during a doubleheader of two nine-inning games this past Saturday. Most of the K’s took place in the first game, with 29 total—17 by the White Sox.

TGIH
As in, Thank God it’s Holland, if you’re a Texas Rangers fan.
Derek Holland, the veteran lefty, who missed the first five months of the season after a freak winter accident in which he stumbled over his dog on a stairway, has made three starts for the last-place Rangers and, in each, has thrown seven inning, allowed one or no runs and walked nobody. No pitcher ever has done that in his first three starts to a season. Holland may be too little, too late to save the Rangers’ season, but he has brought September smiles to fans struggling to root for a team that’s headed for 100 losses and the AL’s worst team ERA.

What Would Nathan Arizona Have Done?
After three straight 100-loss seasons from the Houston Astros, a local furniture store put out a promotion giving refunds to the first 500 customers who spent $6,300 or more during the season—if the Astros didn’t lose 100 again. Thanks to the Astros’ 63rd win—which ensures the team a maximum of 99 losses—the store is now $4 million poorer.

This is Not What We Define as Relief
Cincinnati Reds relievers are a collective 0-16 since July 11; the skid is currently four shy of the major league record, set by the 2012 Houston Astros.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
We didn’t see this one coming: Houston’s
Chris Carter, from the swing-for-the-fences-or-die-trying school of baseball, ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 12 games. The slugger has exactly one hit in the last eight of those games, none of them home runs; overall, he’s hitting .357 during the streak, raising his season average to .238—not the stuff of DiMaggio, but he’ll take it.


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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