This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: September 16-22, 2013
Out With the Old at Yankee Stadium Jeffrey Loria, Micromanager
Lew Wolff's Passive-Aggressive Rant Dodger Pool Party at Chase Field!

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Coco Crisp, Oakland A's

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
21 6 6 0 0 3 8 6 0 0 1

The veteran outfielder has this Brady Anderson thing going, punching up the power from the leadoff post with a career high in home runs. He added to his personal best this week, going deep three times to get to 22 on the year while walking six times—a more traditional leadoff thing to do—as he helped the A’s secure the AL West. The batting average isn’t quite there—his .257 season clip is about 15 points off his lifetime mark—but the power stroke will undoubtedly leave opposing pitchers more wary of him as the postseason approaches.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 6 10 3 0 3 9 2 1 1 1

The third-year first baseman who just turned 26 ramped it up this past week and strengthened his case to be the top vote-getter amid a weak market of NL MVP candidates. Goldy didn’t have any OMG performances against the Dodgers and Rockies but consistently produced a bunch of 1’s and 2’s in the box score to enhance his numbers on the year. He’s in line to finish the year hitting .300 with 35+ plus homers, 130 RBIs and 100 walks. That sounds rather MVPish to us.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
16 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0

The third-year catcher will never be confused for a batting crown contender, but his flirtation with the Mendoza Line is cause for concern as the season comes to a close; this week’s bummer is just an appendage to a three-week thud in which he’s collected just three singles in 53 at-bats. If his .196 average isn’t enough, here’s the other ugly wart on his season log: He’s walked just 18 times while striking out 144. If it wasn’t for the 20 homers, he might be stuck in the minors


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Jeff Mathis, Miami Marlins

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

A mirror image of Arencibia above, Mathis is a catcher with a horrible average (.186), decent power and a knack for walking too little while striking out way too often. As misery loves company, Mathis gets to commiserate on the podium of shame with his Toronto counterpart, and not for the first time this year—collecting a single hit while striking out nine times. The Marlins are Mathis’ third team in three years; don’t be surprised if he makes it four teams in four years in 2014.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Ivan Nova, New York Yankees

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 6 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 7

All things considered, the kid is coming around. Nova had a strong second half going until his first three starts in September threatened to give him scary flashbacks to those dark early days of the season when the Yankees exiled him to the minors; but he turned things back around for the better with a terrific six-hit shutout of the Giants this past Saturday—his second blanking of the year. Unless Nova absolutely blows up in his final start, he’s pretty much assured of finishing 2013 with a career-low ERA (he ends this week at 3.13).


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-1 16 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 14

The hard-throwing Texan can fling a baseball 100 MPH if he wants, but he’s beginning to get that he doesn’t need to in order to reach ace status in San Diego—which he’s all but accomplished with his work over the last few months. He was a mere single from perfection on Monday at Pittsburgh, firing his first career shutout with a one-hitter against the Pirates; he continued to marvel on Sunday back home against the Dodgers, allowing an unearned run in seven frames. He’s fast but apparently not loose, not walking a single batter this past week


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Cole De Vries, Minnesota Twins

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 7 10 10 10 6 0 0 0 0 5

The 28-year-old minor league mainstay had a horrid 7.02 ERA at Triple-A this year, but the Twins decided to give him a shot anyway; the results were, shall we say, painfully predictable. He was nailed for three homers in five innings of long relief at Chicago on Monday, then got the start on Sunday against the A’s where he was chopped up in two innings, allowing six runs while walking three. His next (and last) start of the year could make all the difference between whether he gets a spring training invite or not from the Twins next March.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies

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

The 27-year-old Dominican barely got past the starting blocks in two starts this past week, getting badly shelled before he could finish the third inning each time. The Rockies were hoping to see Nicasio evolve the way Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood and Jorge De La Rosa have, but even he admitted after Sunday’s second blowout of the week (against Arizona) that he’s just tired after throwing 150 innings, easily the most he’s thrown in a big league campaign


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay Rays (5-2)

The Rays came home this past week and did what they had to do against wild card contenders in Texas and Baltimore; it wasn’t easy against the Rangers, splitting a four-game series to start the week, but they nailed down the Orioles with three straight weekend wins (a sweep will be achieved with a Monday victory). The turning point for the week—and possibly the season—came on Friday when the Rays prevailed in an epic 18-inning battle against the O’s; a loss might have emotionally set them back quite a bit


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cincinnati Reds (5-1)

They say that the team that wins in October isn’t necessarily the one that’s played the best over 162 games before it but, rather, the team that’s hottest at the moment. Using that logic, the Reds have a pretty good vibe going. They’re scoring early and in the clutch, they got seven more steals from Billy Hamilton, a ton of RBIs from Jay Bruce and saw the return of Johnny Cueto. They took two out of three in Pittsburgh to tie the Pirates for the NL #4 seed; they can still catch the Cardinals and win the whole danged division.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston Astros (0-7)

The low-budget, woe-is-me Astros aren’t as bad as the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134), but they’re going out with a mighty weak whimper that reminds us of how awfully the Spiders ended that unforgettably forgettable season in which they lost 39 of their last 40 games, almost none of them close. With a four-and-out this weekend against a much better representation of Cleveland baseball (the Indians), the Astros have now lost nine straight games and have been outscored in those contests by a 47-14 count.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Pittsburgh Pirates (2-5)

With home series against San Diego and Cincinnati and a chance not only to distance themselves from the Reds but to catch the first-place Cardinals, this was the week for the Pirates to seize the moment and start making statements for October. Instead, the Reds did all of that while the Bucs bombed at PNC Park. Compounding the pain was two ninth-inning leads blown by Mark Melancon, who was so good coming into the week. The Pirates will still make the playoffs, but they need a booster shot to revive the vibe.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, September 16
The scheduled game between the Atlanta Braves and Nationals in Washington is postponed and reset for Tuesday afternoon because of the mass shooting that takes place just blocks away from Nationals Park at the Navy Yard that claims the lives of 13.

San Diego’s Andrew Cashner is brilliant in taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, settling for a one-hit, 2-0 shutout win at Pittsburgh. It is Cashner’s first career complete game; the loss for the Pirates doesn’t harm them in the NL Central standings as St. Louis loses out at Colorado, 6-2, to remain tied for first place.

It’s a big day on the mound and at the plate for Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee. In six innings of work, the veteran southpaw strikes out 14 Marlins with no walks, while at bat he knocks in four runs on three hits—including his first career triple. The Phillies roll to a 12-2 win at home over Miami.

In the first of a four-game series between the top two wild card contenders at St. Petersburg,Tampa Bay defeats Texas, 6-2, as the Rangers lose for the seventh straight time. Alex Cobb goes eight strong for the Rays, who now own the AL’s top wild card spot. Despite the importance of the series, the game draws only 10,724 to Tropicana Field.


Tuesday, September 17
Back in action for the first game of a day-night doubleheader, the Nationals claw out a 6-5 win over the Braves thanks to breakdown performances in the ninth from two normally reliable Atlanta players. Closer Craig Kimbrel blows his first save in 37 tries and his first ever with a three-run lead; the final nail in the coffin occurs when Washington’s Denard Span—who earlier singled to extend his hitting streak to 27 games—grounds one right at and through the legs of shortstop Andrelton Simmons, bringing home the tying and winning runs.

Span will also single in the second game to run his streak to 28 games; the Nationals win, 4-0 behind rookie pitcher Tanner Roark, who throws seven shutout innings (allowing just two hits) and is now 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA.

Asked to come in and preserve a 2-2 tie, Boston reliever Koji Uehara has a run of 37 consecutive outs—eight shy of the major league record—snapped, then allows his first run in 30.2 innings as the Baltimore Orioles finish off a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Chris Davis’ game-tying homer in the sixth is his 51st, setting a franchise record previously held by Brady Anderson.

It’s a night of unwanted milestones for the Houston Astros. In getting spanked 10-0 at home by Cincinnati, the Astros lose for the 100th time this season, while Chris Carter strikes out for the 200th time on the year. Houston needs to win five of their final 11 games to avoid matching last year’s franchise-worst record of 55-107.

The Rangers kill several birds with one stone on the very first at-bat of their game at Tampa Bay when Ian Kinsler belts a leadoff homer. His shot gives the Rangers their first home run in 71 innings, their first lead at any point over their last eight games, and sets the tone for a 7-1 win that will erase a seven-game losing skid. Attendance at St. Petersburg: 10,786.


Wednesday, September 18
The Pirates take a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning against San Diego but blow it, as closer Mark Melancon (1.07 ERA in 68 appearances) allows the Padres to rally for two runs and a 3-2 win; San Diego is now 31-10 at Pittsburgh since the 2001 opening of PNC Park.

With the Bucs’ loss, the Cardinals stretch their lead in the NL Central to two games with a 4-3 victory at Colorado. Adam Wainwright earns his 17th win with the help of his own bat, as he goes 3-for-3 (two singles and a double) with a pair of RBIs.

In Oakland, the A’s have a 4-2 lead in the ninth when Los Angeles of Anaheim’s Josh Hamilton rips a game-tying home run off Grant Balfour; two innings later, Hamilton will give the Angels a 5-4 lead for keeps with a sacrifice fly.

In the Reds’ 6-5, 13-inning victory at Houston, rookie speedster Billy Hamilton gets his first start for Cincinnati and makes it a memorable one; he steals four bases after reaching base five times (three hits and two walks), becoming the first major leaguer to swipe four bags in his first major league start.


Thursday, September 19
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the first team to clinch a postseason spot as they claim the NL West with a come-from-behind, 7-6 win at second-place Arizona. Hanley Ramirez has two home runs among four hits and knocks in four runs; A.J. Ellis’ homer in the eighth serves as the tiebreaker.

Bryce Harper’s first inning homer, his 20th of the year, provides the Nationals with all the offense they need as Gio Gonzalez picks up the win on his 28th birthday and Washington keeps its faint postseason hopes alive with a 3-2 victory over Miami. The sour news for the Nats is that Denard Span ends his hitting streak at 29 games, two shy of the franchise mark.

Playing in his final days as a major leaguer, Colorado’s Todd Helton hits a leadoff homer in the ninth to tie the Cardinals; the Rockies get the game-winner in the 15th when Corey Dickerson legs out his second triple of the game to bring home the winning run in a 7-6 victory.

The Cardinals’ lead is snipped back to a game as Gerrit Cole strikes out a career-high 12 batters in just six innings and the Pirates prevent a four-game sweep by the visiting Padres with a 10-1 rout.

The Rangers use both power (four homers) and speed (five steals) to propel themselves to an 8-2 win at Tampa Bay, squaring themselves with the Rays in the wild card race with Cleveland (2-1 winners at home against Houston) now just a half-game behind both teams. Yu Darvish gets the victory for Texas despite walking six in five innings.


Friday, September 20
Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar, who draws fewer walks than any other major leaguer, is walked on four pitches by Texas reliever Neftali Feliz to force home the ultimate game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Royals a 2-1 win over the Rangers. Texas is now third in the AL wild card race, falling behind Cleveland (who beat the Astros again by a 2-1 count, this time in a rain-shortened affair) while the Royals remain alive in the postseason hunt with the victory.

Tampa Bay retains its AL wild card lead—but it takes them the equivalent of two games to do it. With the Orioles in town, the Rays battle for 18 innings before securing a 5-4 triumph on a David DeJesus single that brings home Desmond Jennings. The game takes six hours and 54 minutes, the longest major league game this year, and the longest ever in a game involving either the Orioles and Rays—and employs an all-time record 21 pitchers, 11 by the Orioles. Jeremy Hellickson, making his first relief appearance since 2010, is the last of Tampa Bay’s ten pitchers and picks up his 12th win on the year.

The Boston Red Sox clinch the AL East with a 6-3 win at home against Toronto. Jon Lester allows a run over seven innings and collects his 100th career victory; he’s 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts.

In his fifth attempt to bag win number 20, Detroit’s Max Scherzer finally reaches the milestone as his Tiger teammates pile up the offense on the last-place White Sox with a 12-5 rout at Comerica Park. Victor Martinez—hitting .371 since the All-Star Break—collects two hits, including his 13th homer.

For the second time in three days, the Pirates blow a ninth-inning lead at PNC Park—and this time it comes against divisional rival Cincinnati, who rallies for three runs off (again) Bucs closer Mark Melancon to tie the game; the Reds win it an inning later, 6-5, when Joey Votto goes deep. The two teams, who play each other five more times before the end of the season, are now even for the NL Wild Card with identical 88-66 records; the Pirates fall two games back of St. Louis, who prevail in ten innings at Milwaukee.

Alex Rodriguez sets a major league record with his 24th career grand slam, breaking a 1-1 tie in the seventh at New York to lift the Yankees to a 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. Rodriguez previously shared the record with Lou Gehrig.


Saturday, September 21
The woeful White Sox (60-94) blow a 6-0, ninth-inning lead at Detroit when the Tigers rally to tie—highlighted by a three-run homer from Andy Dirks—and then lose it in the 12th when Omar Infante singles home the winning tally for Detroit. Not once in 113 years of play has Chicago blown a bigger lead in the ninth.

With a number of regulars taking a seat a night after clinching the AL East, the Red Sox bow to the Blue Jays, 4-2, resulting in Clay Buchholz’s first defeat of the season for Boston after an 11-0 start. Buchholz does himself no favors with a throwing error that caps a three-run, fourth-inning rally for Toronto.

The Angels tip Seattle at Anaheim, 6-5, thanks to Colin Gowgill, who triples, homers and steals home with the ultimate game-winning run after walking in the seventh. He’s the first Angel to homer and steal home in the same game since Leroy Stanton in 1974.


Sunday, September 22
In his final Yankee Stadium start, Andy Pettitte allows two runs on just two hits through seven innings but drops to 10-11 as the Yankees are edged out by the Giants, 2-1, to fall further behind in the AL wild card race. Closer Mariano Rivera, who like Pettitte will retire after the season and is honored before the game, pitches 1.2 scoreless innings.

The Rangers’ wild card chances also take a hit at the knees. A 0-0 stalemate is concluded in the bottom of the tenth when Kansas City’s Justin Maxwell connects on a grand slam to defeat Texas, 4-0; the win officially gives Oakland its second straight AL West title. The Rangers are 1.5 games behind the fifth and final AL postseason seed, while the Royals are 3.5 back; each team has seven games left to play.

The Braves secure October play with a 5-2 win at Chicago to take the NL East for the first time since 2005. Andrelton Simmons belts two homers and Craig Kimbrel closes out his 49th game of the year for Atlanta.

Pitching for the first time in nearly three weeks to rest an oblique injury, Felix Hernandez becomes the first pitcher since Smoky Joe Wood in 1909 to strike out ten batters in four or less innings of work, and the Mariners defeat the Angels at Anaheim, 3-2. The game is halted twice for a total of nearly 30 minutes due to a swarm of bees in the Angel Stadium outfield.


It’s the End of the Yanks as We Know Them
The 2013 regular season will end with the New York Yankees playing for the last time with the roster baseball fans have come to know, love and loathe since the mid-1990s.

Mariano Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader, has long since proclaimed that this would be his last season.

Andy Pettitte, the left-handed pitcher who co-starred with Rivera in seven Yankee World Series (winning five of them), announced this past week that this would also be his final season.

Derek Jeter hasn’t said anything yet, but after four trips to the disabled list severely cut his participation on the field this season to a mere 17 games and 63 at-bats—and without his long-time buddies returning in 2014 as he turns 40—one wonders if he’ll want to come back for a relatively paltry $8 million.

Then of course there’s Alex Rodriguez, who may have no choice but to sit out the 2014 season as he finally serves his penance for Biogenesis; if an arbitrator agrees with MLB this fall and docks Rodriguez for the full 211 games, his career may be done as well.

No Mo, No More
The departure of Rivera will be saddest for Yankee fans. Even with a midsummer slump that upped his blown save total to seven—the most he’s suffered since 1997, his first full year as the team’s closer—he has still closed out 44 games with a fine 2.21 ERA. Rivera’s legacy has long since been reserved for the highest of stratospheres; his 652 career saves will not be touched for years (if ever), his postseason numbers (8-1 record, 0.70 ERA and 42 saves in 96 appearances) are jaw-dropping, and his easygoing demeanor has won him hordes of fans far and wide. On a more trivial note, Rivera will also be the last grandfathered major leaguer wearing number 42, 16 years after it was retired by baseball to honor Jackie Robinson. Rivera will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019; he’s a lock to get in, and anyone who votes otherwise will need to have a damn good excuse as to why.

But What About Andy?
The retirement of Pettitte presents more of a gray area for Cooperstown voters. At first glance, the Louisiana-born southpaw looks to have the numbers, sporting a career 255-152 record—one of 26 pitchers to have won 100 or more games than they’ve lost—and is the all-time postseason victory leader with 19. But we say no to a HOF plaque for Pettitte, and here’s why: He’s been fortunate enough to play for 19 winning ballclubs in 19 years, has a career 3.86 ERA that would be the highest of any pitcher in Cooperstown (another former Yankee, Red Ruffing, currently owns that distinction with a 3.80 mark), and has received a very generous 5.3 runs per start. (By comparison, San Francisco’s Matt Cain has a career ERA one-half run lower than Pettitte but has also received 1.5 fewer runs of support, explaining a lifetime record barely over the .500 mark.) And those 19 postseason wins? Chalk it up to expanded postseason play during his time. Oh, and one last thing: Pettitte admitted to taking steroids. He’s a very good pitcher and, like Rivera, has an agreeable attitude. But he’s not among the greats.

Mariano the Mariner?
The New York Post reminded us this past week how Rivera could have wound up as a member of the Seattle Mariners. In the spring of 1996, Derek Jeter—then a rookie shortstop struggling through exhibition play—left the Yankees and, especially, owner George Steinbrenner, unsure as to whether he could make it through a full season. So they looked for insurance and called on the Mariners, hoping to nab veteran infielder Felix Fermin—and offered in return Rivera, who was still in search of himself after sporting a 5.51 ERA as a reliever/spot starter in his rookie 1995 campaign. The deal fell through because Steinbrenner’s lieutenants lobbied to convince The Boss that Jeter would fulfill his promise—which he did, winning Rookie of the Year honors and batting .361 in a postseason that climaxed with the Yankees winning their first world title in 18 years.

And had the deal gone through? Jeter still would have shined, but Fermin would have been a waste of an acquisition and, much, much worse, Rivera would have been a Mariner—filling a hole as the team’s closer to compliment a cadre of all-world stars in Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and a young Alex Rodriguez. How long Rivera would have stayed in a Seattle uniform is uncertain, but he most definitely would have been around long enough to give the Mariners a supreme shot at making their first World Series appearance. Instead, the Mariners still have never been.

Hey Jeffrey, Are You Happy Now?
Jeffrey Loria has few good players, few fans and few victories to vouch for this season. But he has his own ballpark and his own team, and according to a scathing Fox Sports report that came out earlier this past week, he’s made it clear to everyone within the organization that the buck not only stops with him, it starts with him as well.

According to the story, Loria has basically taken control of the front office and made all baseball decisions—reducing general manager Larry Beinfest to nothing more than a façade on the organizational chart. Some of Loria’s choices have made more in the best interests of his ego instead of the team; he denied several players a promotion from the Marlins’ Triple-A club because they had earlier sparred with hitting coach Tino Martinez, who resigned amid allegations that he had been verbally (and on occasion physically) abusive with players.

Given Loria’s knack for the nonsensical, it’s a small miracle that he didn’t force young pitching phenom and emerging drawing card Jose Fernandez to continue throwing once he met the 170-inning limit prescribed by baseball men within the organization.

Beinfest is considered expendable this coming offseason; David Samson is also rumored to be on the outs, though that’s less likely given that Loria probably loves Samson as something of a henchman to publicly carry out his orders.

No one inside the Marlins—Loria included—would respond to the story, per the team’s longstanding policy not to comment on internal matters.

It’s a Real S**tstorm in Oakland
While Loria continues to be Public Enemy #1 in Florida, another embattled Lord across the country in Oakland didn’t help his reputation with the locals. Lew Wolff sounded off on the A’s attendance, which continues to sag even as the team overachieves its way to a second straight AL West divisional title. He did what most owners and players should never do: Diss his fans. “There is something wrong here,” Wolff told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “You would think that with our lead, people would want to come out, count down the magic numbers, and all that stuff…Even if you’re not a loyal fan, you would think this time of year, where the teams are in the standings, and where every game means something, people would come out.”

Okay, so it was a polite diss. Kind of like the polite frustration he publicly aims at commissioner/former frat buddy Bud Selig as he patiently awaits baseball’s go-order to move the A’s 50 miles south to San Jose—a move that’s not going to happen until Wolff begins to channel Al Davis and get aggressive about it. But a diss is a diss, and with his words Wolff made more of a stink than the overflowing raw sewage that has been plaguing the A’s at the Coliseum, the team’s aging home for the last 45 years.

Rather boldly, Wolff will tear away the third-deck tarps for postseason home games in hopes that the additional seats get filled for October baseball. But his comments won’t encourage ticket sales.

You Can’t Swim in Our House!
Is Sheriff Joe Arpaio running the Arizona Diamondbacks? All season long, the D-Backs have shown a great deal of prejudice towards visiting teams—particularly the Los Angeles Dodgers. When the Dodgers visited Chase Field earlier this year, team officials ordered a group of fans sitting in the field-level luxury box directly behind home plate to remove their Dodger paraphernalia; and this past week, with the Dodgers ready to clinch the NL West title in a return trip to Arizona, the Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers in advance not to celebrate on the field—a bizarre request which flew in the face of longstanding baseball tradition. (Maybe a nasty brawl between the two teams earlier in the year had something to do with it.)

So the Dodgers won, clinched and bowed to the Diamondbacks’ demands—at least, at first. But later, after the crowd had filed out, the Dodgers returned from the victorious clubhouse, ran across the field and scaled the outfield wall to take a victory dip in the Chase Field pool.

Nobody in Arizona was amused. Not Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist, who called the Dodgers’ act “classless.” Not team CEO Derrick Hall, who called it “disrespectful.” Not even Arizona Senator John McCain, who chimed in amid an impending government shutdown in D.C. and called the Dodgers a “bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats!”

Why get so worked up over this? If the Dodgers had clinched in San Francisco, would the Giants have minded if the team jumped into McCovey Cove? (Probably not—because the Dodgers would have frozen to death.) Or if they clinched in Milwaukee, would the Brewers have scowled as the players slid down Bernie Brewer’s slide? Or if at Yankee Stadium, would the Yankees have cared if the Dodgers raided NYY Steak and booted people out of the banquet room? Look, it’s not liked the Dodgers weren’t going to win this thing. They iced the West with almost two weeks to spare. So what’s with all the tension, D-Backs?

Was the Green Hornet Also Involved?
Japanese baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato resigned this past week in the hardy subsided wake of his confession from June that he ordered baseballs juiced up to increase offense. Whether fair or not, this will certainly tarnish the recent achievement of Wladimir Balentien, who broke the all-time record for home runs in a season with his 56th shot. Kato still doesn’t believe the juiced ball aided Balentien’s quest, saying that the young slugger just got to know Japanese pitchers better.

The Boyfriends Reunite
Jerry Seinfeld was brought into the New York Mets’ TV booth for Tuesday’s game against San Francisco to add a little “nothing” to the standard broadcast team of Gary Cohen and former Mets starKeith Hernandez, who famously guest starred on one of Seinfeld’s best-known episodes, “The Boyfriend.” The comedian had his usual moments of dry wit and observation, as you can see here in a best-of compilation during the Mets’ 8-5 loss to the Giants.

An A-Bomb, From A-Rod…Not an A-Bomb
New York Yankee radio announcer John Sterling blew one of the first rules of calling a baseball game: When in doubt, don’t assume. During the Yankees’ 2-0 loss at Toronto on Tuesday, Sterling was all but convinced that Alex Rodriguez had hit an opposite-field home run. Oops!

Putting Your Money Where Your Mind Once Wasn’t
Former Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who led his team into bankruptcy amid a messy divorce, has given $100 million of the $2.1 billion paid to him by the Dodgers’ new owners to Georgetown University to establish the McCourt School of Public Policy. Perhaps he should be its first student.

Once Absent, Now Gone
Hiroshi Yamauchi, who since 1992 had owned the majority stake in the Seattle Mariners, died this past week at the age of 85. What’s curious to note is that Yamauchi, who made his claim to fame as chairman of Ninetndo, never saw his team in person. Why? Yamauchi never liked to travel. He is said to be the only major league owner never to have seen his team play in person.

This Isn’t the Way Colonoscopy Works
For every beat reporter who’s had to directly absorb the occasional angry rants from Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips and privately wished the All-Star second baseman can stick it where the sun don’t shine, they’ll be happy to know that Houston’s Jonathan Villar gave it the good ol’ college try.

Goin’ Old School With Yahoo! Sports
Last month, Yahoo! changed the look of its sports section, and many baseball fans—us included—decried the user-unfriendly functionality of the refresh, a “responsive design” approach that allows sites to be viewed as a “one size fits all” solution for ultimate viewing on a desktop, tablet and mobile device. Last week, in a totally coincidental move, we signed into an AT&T email account ignored for many years—and once we got on, the Yahoo! sports page became an AT&T-Yahoo! sports page (they’re partners)—with the old look! So if you’re pining to go back to the old Yahoo!, signing up for an AT&T email (even if it’s a secondary one) and logging in might do the trick.

Must-Flee-TV
We knew the Astros, closing shop on their second straight 100-loss season, would not exactly be a drawing magnet for local TV viewers, but we had no idea it was this bad. A September 14 home game against Los Angeles of Anaheim was watched on less than 1,000 households in the Houston area. A day later, a Houston Texans football game was seen locally by nearly 900,000.

Eye Gotta be Careful
Friday night’s AL East clincher for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park was hazardous in more ways than one. First, between innings, Toronto center fielder
Colby Rasmus came out late to his center field position and took a throw from teammate Anthony Gose. Only problem was, Rasmus neither expected nor saw the throw; it hit him right in the face, near the left eye. The severity of the injury is such that Rasmus will miss the final week of the season. Later, after the Red Sox won to take the division, Jonny Gomes took the on-field celebration a little wild when he began kicking open cans of beer into the crowd. One of the cans hit an elderly man in the face and left a pretty good cut over (also) his left eye.

Tying Teddy
Seattle’s
Raul Ibanez, 41, reached several milestones with one stroke of his bat on Saturday at Anaheim. His ninth-inning home run was the 300th of his career, and the 29th hit this season—tying a big league record for the most hit in one year after turning 40. He now shares the mark with Ted Williams, who connected for 29 in his final season in 1960—the last of which famously came in his final career at-bat.

TGG Programming Note
There will be no Comebacker on the week of September 30, owing to a certain domestic milestone involving TGG’s
Eric Gouldsberry (it involves his wife and the number 20). During this time we will continue to provide updates via the TGG Facebook page; we’ll be back with an all-new Comebacker on October 7, in which we’ll announce our Best and Worst for the 2013 season.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Now that
Denard Span’s season-long hit streak of 29 is history—and the ghost of Joltin’ Joe can wipe the few beads of sweat off his forehead—we practically reset to end this past week with the longest active hitting streak belonging to Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt at only 12 games. This is most welcomed for Goldschmidt, who had gone hitless in eight of ten games before beginning his current run.


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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