Speed Read: MLB Ump Fist Bumps Marlin Catcher

This mustache belongs to the most hated man in Atlanta, MLB umpire Bill Hohn:

Bill Hohn

(”No, you listen to me, I’m telling a ‘you might be a redneck if…’ joke and there’s nothing you can do about it.”)

Hohn has been a bit suspect (to say the least) with his calls in games involving the Braves this year. As BLEACHER REPORT details, Hohn seems to operate with an entirely different strike zone when Atlanta is pitching, which resulted in a huge scene earlier in the year in Boston, in which Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, and pitcher Eric O’Flaherty were ejected from the game on the same play for arguing balls and strikes.

On Wednesday night, the Braves and Hohn butted heads again over his strike zone, resulting in yet another ejection for Cox — one that he was baited into when Hohn told Cox he had to eject someone and then pulled out his lineup card to “decide” who to toss. Cox volunteered himself, and then threw up his arms in disbelief when Hohn did it. Moments later, Brian McCann was tossed for asking Hohn to admit he missed a call during his last at bat.

Even so, as egregious as Hohn’s mistakes may have been, it’s easy to dismiss Atlanta’s protests as just your average sour grapes. But then something happened on Wednesday night. When Marlins catcher John Baker caught the final strike in Florida’s 6-3 win over the Braves, he turned around and extended his fist toward Hohn, to which Hohn obliged with a response. Yeah, you heard it right, an umpire actually fist-bumped a player. Here’s the evidence, in animated GIF form. A screenshot of the bumping moment:

Bill Hohn fist bump John Baker

No word on whether or not Hohn “blew it up.”

Hohn likely didn’t realize how that would look, as Baker was probably just telling Hohn he did a good job (as players will sometimes do after games), but on a night when Hohn ejected the opposing manager for arguing about the strike zone, that was a pretty poor decision. One that probably should earn Hohn a game or two off.

The Braves were steaming when word got to them about the bump. Chipper says he’s never seen such a thing in his entire career, and all but accused Hohn and fellow ump Jerry Meals of having it out for his team. This a day after LaTroy Hawkins raised eyebrows for claiming the umps wanted the Cubs to beat his Houston team.

Still fuming, the Braves shook it off last night and beat the Marlins 6-3 on a 10th inning homer by McCann.

Bill Hohn

Your 2009  trade deadline is just hours away, ladies and gentlemen. J.P. Ricciardi continues to hold firm on a steep price for Roy Halladay, and we’ll see this afternoon just how serious he is about making a deal. Many teams have been in the hunt, but all seem to be unwilling to give up the one key prospect the Jays covet. And since Ricciardi can hold on to Halladay and do this all over again next year, he doesn’t feel that dealing him is a necessity.

Late last night, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi wrote that the Rangers might be the last team that will take a crack at Halladay, but seem reluctant to part with pitcher Derek Holland, who dominated the Mariners last night.

If Halladay doesn’t go anywhere, we might be headed for a dud of a deadline headlined by such blockbusters as Orlando Cabrera going to the Twins and/or Nick Johnson going to the Marlins.

Orlando Cabrera

(If Nick Punto was your shortstop, this guy would seem like a great option)

The Red Sox are going to to everything they can, though, to shake things up and land either Victor Martinez or Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez would be a huge coup for the Sox, as he’s signed through 2010 at about $2.5 million, and his option for 2011 is a very reasonable $5.5 million. I’m not sure, in fact, why the Padres would want to trade him unless they were getting a ton in return (something like Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and of Boston’s other top two or three prospects, and even that might not seem like enough). Not surprisingly, Jon Heyman has been told the Sox prefer Gonzalez over Martinez. Martinez has a team option for next year at $7 million, is four years older than Gonzalez, and doesn’t OPS anywhere near .929.

Either way, the Sox would have a huge jam with Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis competing for time at third base, while the new player would vie for time at first with Adam LaRoche.

Adrian Gonzalez

(Just like Big Papi, but a little less ‘roidy)

• A historic baseball stadium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is under water right now due to massive flooding. The COLLEGE BASEBALL BLOG has pictures of the mess.

• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that one indication that our economy might be heading the right direction is that golf manufacturer Callaway’s stock price is on the rise on forecasts that club sales may be picking up.

• Alright, I’m pretty sure this is the final nail in coffin for the “grill” phenomenon:

Ryan Lochte grill

 • Tiger Woods has never missed consecutive cuts in his PGA career, so his 96th-place standing after day 1 of the Buick Open doesn’t bode very well.

• Eight year olds, dude: Dustin Pedroia’s brother sentenced to only one year in prison (and eight on probation) for sexual contact with a minor.

DeWayne Wise’s big week continues, as he singled in the winning run in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Yankees last night.

• Screw that whole east coast bias, the Pac-10 thinks it’s huuuuuuge in China. Good thing, since that’s where all the Harris Poll voters seem to live.

• Oh, Sarge (h/t AWFUL ANNOUNCING)

• I’m sure you’ve wanted to punch someone in the face during a game of Monopoly, but somebody finally went through with it. The victim’s crime? An apparent unwillingness to sell Park Place and Boardwalk.

• The Cubs beat the Astros 12-3 yesteray afternoon, and by early evening both starting pitchers from the game were no longer with their teams. Kevin Hart was among those traded by the Cubs to the Pirates for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Meanwhile, Houston put Russ Ortiz out of his misery.

• The guys at KISSING SUZY KOLBER think they’ve figured out who got in the way of the Reggie Bush-Kim Kardashian relationship. Shockingly, it’s a model, and her name is Carmen Ortega:

Carmen Ortega

Is today’s trade deadline going to deliver?

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Speed Read: Dominican Dream Done In by Dutch

The Netherlands’ World Baseball Classic team showed just how awesome colonialism was with their second victory over the Dominican Republic yesterday, 2-1 in 11 innings. This unlikely series of events pushes the Netherlands team into the second round and eliminates the Dominican squad.

Netherlands World Baseball Classic

The Netherlands team’s combination of Arubans, Netherlands Antilles residents, and the occasional Dutch person bested the Dominicanos behind the power of their pitching in both games, no doubt buoyed by pitching coach Bert Blyleven.

If Blyleven can turn Sidney Ponson into a nominal pitcher again, he should launch past potential MLB pitching coach jobs and apply for beatification.

(We kid.  While the WBC is a watering hole for semi-famous former ballplayers, it’s not exactly a test of coaching mettle. Also, 24 walks in 29 innings isn’t worth bragging about. Small sample size, thy name is “first-round WBC exit for the DR”.)

Jay Cutler Broncos

Apparently, Jay Cutler doesn’t picture himself as chattel. He leans into the mirror and he sees a diabetic, perhaps. He probably sees a Pro Bowl quarterback. However, he just can’t see the piece o’meat others do.

Therefore, the healing process after his near-trade (okay, his far-trade) from the Broncos to Tampa (or Kansas City or what not) hasn’t gone smoothly. In fact, it’s more of a scab-picking competition between Broncos management and Cutler’s people. An attempt at a long-distance group hug fell apart yesterday and both sides are the worse for wear for it.

We just finished listening to Bill Simmons’ latest podcast with Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and, yes, he’s brilliant. However, he kept referring to his players as “assets” he needed to accumulate to gather different assets down the line.

This is all fine and true, but you don’t engender loyalty when you refer to your employees with the same terminology as you’d use to describe your real estate holdings.

So yes, it’s a big bad business and Cutler knew what he was in for when he signed up to be a professional ballplayer, but he doesn’t have to like it. Also, if he has the leverage, he doesn’t have to put up with it.

And hey… if the Broncos don’t need a 25-year-old quarterback that has proved more than competent for the job, maybe they can’t value their assets or their people as well as they could.

Tony Zendejas Los Angeles Rams

Former NFL placekicker Tony Zendejas found himself acquitted of rape charges by a Pomona jury yesterday. (The rather painful details have been covered here previously;  those sensitive to discussion of “anal tears” are encouraged to pass on the link.)

Club Zendejas

At least he can safely return to Party Time, Zendejas Time!!!!! now.

And now the proverbial hail of bullets while wrestling an injured lunatic ninja kangaroo in your living room

Ben Woodside of North Dakota State

Hulk Hogan shopping at Wal-Mart

Who are you rooting for in the WBC now?

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Reporter Gets Smacked In Boob During Interview

Seems like everyone’s getting in on the prank game these days. While watching an interview take place between Phillies legend Gary Matthews and NBC reporter Dawn Timmeney, Scott Palmer, the Director of Public Affairs for the Phillies, thought he might play a little prank on the pair. The plan was to gently toss a baseball to the Sarge after the interview, presumably giving him a hilarious heart attack in the process. Unfortunately, Palmer misjudged his aim a bit and ended up hitting the female reporter in the boob.

Dawn Timmeney Gary Matthews

THE FIGHTINS have the story, but the whole thing just seems more disappointing than anything else. Sure, a boob-knock is fun and all, but my oh my, this could have been so much more hilarious. A hit in the cranium, for instance. Or a smack to Sarge’s crotch. But, alas, the Prank God didn’t feel it was right to reward us with such a moment of brilliance. Instead, we must be satisfied with an ample boob bounce.

The disappointing video is after the jump.

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Mitchell Report Posted Clemens Highlights Noted

MITCH REPORT FINDS ONE LESS STRIPPER GOT MO’S MONEY: Time to curl up with the Mitchell Report!

Mo Vaughn

UPDATE: After now having had time to scan the report, there’s nothing new in there about Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.Keep in mind that just because players are listed in the report (and as listed below) does not mean that the report concluded that those players took or purchased steroids. In many cases, player names (like, for instance, Jeff Kent) are cited only in reference to media reports. Kent didn’t do anything wrong, but was quoted making a comment about MLB combating the problem of performance enhancing drugs.

Not that we were expecting anything, but the report, besides the Clemens injections, is a letdown. Not much to get excited about. No major superstars implicated (what a surprise!).

Players of note from the Mitchell Report’s “Alleged Internet Purchases of Performance Enhancing Substances By Players in Major League Baseball“:

Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Scott Schoeneweis
Paul Byrd
Matt Williams
Jay Gibbons
Troy Glaus
Rick Ankiel
Jose Guillen
John Rocker
Darren Holmes
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Jose Canseco
Jason Grimsley
Ismael Valdez
Steve Woodard

Players of note from the Mitchell Report’s “Information Regarding Purchases or Use of Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball“:

Roger Clemens
Andy Pettitte
Kevin Brown
Eric Gagne
Matt Herges
Miguel Tejada
Gregg Zaun
David Justice
F.P. Santangelo
Glenallen Hill
Mo Vaughn
Fernando Vina
Kent Mercker
Mike Lansing
Todd Hundley
Brendan Donnelly
David Segui
Gary Bennett, Jr.
Paul LoDuca
Rondell White
Chuck Knoblauch
Denny Neagle
Ron Villone
Ryan Franklin
Lenny Dykstra
Kevin Young

NOT in the report:
Albert Pujols
Johnny Damon
Jeff Bagwell
Brady Anderson
Bret Boone
Aaron Boone
Milton Bradley
Carl Everett
Andruw Jones
Manny Ramirez

Here’s the Roger Clemens mentions of note in the Mitchell Report (DEADSPIN has a full-size version):

Roger Clemens Mitchell Report
Roger Clemens Mitchell Report

And finally, we salute our favorite Dodger of all-time:

Mitchell Report Paul LoDuca

No, thank YOU Paul (LoDuca)!