One of the most bitter time-honored rivalries in professional sports doesn’t involve teams, players, or coaches. It rages in both New York and Boston but has very little to do with either the Yankees or Red Sox. I’m talking about the neverending argument between statistically-oriented baseball fans and old-school observers of the game; or, to put it another way, the basement-dwelling blogger versus the fat, bitter, henpecked mainstream media baseball writer.
Unfortunately for the old-school baseball gut-listening school, their side hasn’t won many battles of late, despite Scott Podsednik’s ability to somehow draw a major-league paycheck. Statistical analysis has become a way of life amongst the better baseball writers and nearly every baseball front office. Now, a new logic/science-based attack is being leveled at one of baseball’s most counterintuitive institutions, the curveball. The eggheads’ claim? That a thrown baseball doesn’t break abruptly like everyone thinks it does. Sacrilege!
Even golden boys have to deal with the harder parts of life. Need proof? Just take a look at Dustin Pedroia. Baseball’s favorite “little man who could”, Pedroia has been a non-stop good news machine since entering the league, winning Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in back-to-back seasons. Oh, and he won a World Series, too. Unfortunately for Dustin, that couldn’t keep his brother out of trouble, as 29-year-old Brett Pedroia has now been charged with child molestation, according to this report from Sacramento news station KCRA 58.
(Brett Pedroia, as captured by the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE.)
Let’s be clear. These charges have nothing to do with Dustin Pedroia. He’s not accused of molesting children, hurting anyone or doing anything outside of playing a really solid second base. But that won’t be enough to keep him out of the public eye now that his brother has been accused of a significantly heinous crime.
Just listen to how Pedroia’s home town of Woodland, a Sacramento suburb, is taking the news, via THE SPORTING BLOG’s Tom Ziller. It’s as if people are in general disbelief.
The Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez is lucky enough to play on a team that on 63 occasions this year has managed to take a lead, but not too big of a lead, into the ninth inning. And since he’s been successful in that role 57 times he now shares the single-season record in a weird, arbitrary statistic. Seriously, all you need to know about saves is that a guy once got one in a game his team won by 27 runs.
In last night’s win over Seattle, the Angels took a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning, when Scot Shields allowed the first two runners to reach safely. Mike Scioscia immediately popped out of the dugout to remove Shields and bring in Rodriguez, who shockingly managed to not pitch like an absolute moron and held on to that precarious four-run advantage against a crappy Mariner offense. And oh yeah, he got the save.
Perhaps one of the coolest men to roam the planet, Snoop Dogg, was in Los Angeles the other day to take in a Dodgers game, chat with MLB.com’s Tara Gore, and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The rapper, actor, and friend of LSU’s Les Miles was quite entertaining during his visit and even debuted his new pitch, “The East Side Hook.”
During the interview Snoop praised the Manny Ramirez deal, recalled his fondness for some of the old Dodgers, and predicted a Dodgers/Angels “freeway series.” Check out the interview and the first pitch, conveniently embedded, post-jump.
We’re all more than familiar with MLB’s love of lefties, whether on the mound or at the plate, and now, thanks to NEWSWEEK, there’s now some official scientific proof backing the concept that lefties are just plain better at baseball (well, at least as far as hitting goes.)
The magazine’s web site interviews an aerospace engineer from the University of Washington named David Peters, who explains more of the basics (outside of the obvious “left-handed hitters get out of the batters’ box faster”).
We’re not sure how sad a day it is in Cleveland just yet, as the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER reports that Jacobs Field has been renamed to “Progressive Field”.
Excerpt: “The Indians have reached an agreement with Progressive Insurance for the naming rights of the 40,000-seat facility on the corner of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue, a source close to the Indians said Thursday. Progressive Insurance, a Cleveland-based company, is owned by millionaire/philanthropist Peter Lewis.”
We say we’re unsure how upset Clevelanders really are because the ballpark was previously named after the Jacobs family, who owned the team during the Tribe’s glory years in the ’90s when the ballpark first opened. We were working in Ohio at the time, but never really got the feeling the Jacobs were beloved. You would think so, but we don’t know what the reaction will be. More than anything, the name was tradition, so there has to be some sadness settling over Lake Erie today. Especially since the ballpark is now monikered after one of those low-rate car insurance outfits (even if the owner is from Cleveland).
We’ll have to tune into Mike Trivisonno today, the unofficial mayor of Cleveland, to find out. And also get the scoop on that photo.
We really wish Goose Gossage was still around. We remember watching him at then-Royals Stadium, he was a giant, and threw harder than anyone we ever saw in person (and that’s coming from an eventual 10-year professional baseball announcer).
We’re not saying he was the fastest on a radar gun, but because of his hulking stature and violent gyrations before releasing the pill, he looked like the fastest, and that’s all that counts if you aren’t holding a bat.
In a sign of these sad times for baseball, the media focused on steroids during Gossage’s first major press conference since being elected to the Hall of Fame. Instead of recounting his battles with Jim Rice and the Red Sox, Gossage was asked to weigh in on performance enhancers.
While saying his drugs of choice during his playing days were “donuts and coffee,” Gossage made an admission about steroids that probably caught the Cooperstown brass aghast.
Roger Clemens won’t have to head off for Capitol Hill just yet.
NEW YORK NEWSDAY reports that a congressional hearing scheduled for January 16th has been postponed until next month.
Those scheduled to testify - Clemens, Brian McNamee, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski - are now asked to show up on February 13th. The Oversight & Government Reform Committee says the date was moved to occur after Radomski’s sentencing for steroid dealing.
That leaves the Rocket’s legal team a whole extra month to dig up more dirt on his ex-trainer.