Benches warned as Chris Sale throws behind Manny Machado



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Boston Red Sox Jersey ace Chris Sale Jersey threw behind Baltimore Orioles Jersey star Manny Machado Jersey at the knees in the top of the first inning Tuesday night, resulting in both benches being issued a warning.

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After striking out in his first at-bat, Machado took Sale deep in the seventh inning, his second home run in as many games. After touching home plate, he shot a glance toward the Red Sox bench.

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During their April 23 meeting, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes Jersey sent a pitch that whizzed behind Machado’s head and hit the slugger’s bat. Barnes was suspended four games and fined. Machado had irked the Red Sox with a late slide into second baseman Dustin Pedroia Jersey’s left leg two days earlier.

Limited Taijuan Walker Jersey Manny Machado Jersey turned toward the Red Sox dugout after homering in the seventh inning off Chris Sale Jersey, who earlier in the game had thrown behind him at the knees. AP Photo/Michael DwyerOn Monday night at Fenway, Machado slugged a long homer out of Fenway Park, drove in two runs and made three solid defensive plays.

Taijuan Walker Jersey #44 O’s starter Dylan Bundy Jersey hit Red Sox star Mookie Betts Jersey near the left hip with a fastball, prompting loud boos. Betts just headed slowly to first.

“I have no comment on that. I can’t tell you what they’re thinking or what they’re trying to do there,” said Rick Porcello Jersey, who started for Boston on Monday night.

Earlier Monday, occupants of both clubhouses insisted that the recent bad blood between the teams was gone and forgotten. The page had been turned, Orioles closer Zach Britton Jersey said, and the hatchet buried by Pedroia, who reached out to a veteran Orioles player to broker peace.

The Red Sox would go on to beat the Orioles 5-2 Tuesday night, evening the series at one game apiece.

Information from ESPN’s Scott Lauber and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Olney: MLB must declare war on racist language at ballparks



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If you get into a fight at a ballpark, you will be ejected. Anybody who goes to a ballpark knows this, because before every game, public address announcers read a warning about conduct.

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If you touch a ball in the field of play, you will be ejected. Anybody who goes to the ballpark knows this, because before every game, public address announcers warn fans about this particular cause and effect.

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In this way, Major League Baseball and the 30 teams could declare war on the kind of language that was directed at Baltimore Orioles Jersey center fielder Adam Jones Jersey Monday night. It’s a simple gesture that could make a big difference in protecting players and fans from this kind of garbage.

Limited Nick Vincent Jersey As it stands, public address announcers in ballparks reference “abusive” language in their pregame announcement: Abusive language will not be tolerated…

Nick Vincent Jersey #50 That warning can be much more explicit, forceful, and powerful: Any fan who aims racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay words at on-field personnel or fans will be immediately ejected and banned from (fill in the ballpark) permanently.

It is mind-boggling — appalling — that this sort of step would be necessary, but that is where we are and where we have been. Seventy years and 17 days have passed since Jackie Robinson played in his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but generations of players have reported incidents similar to what Jones talked about with USA Today and the Boston Globe after Monday’s game: The N-word and other words or phrases hurled from the stands as weapons of mass degradation.

Many players relate these episodes off the record, trying to bypass the conflict and treating the racist taunts as something to be endured. But why does anyone need to endure it within the confines of a private business establishment?

Why should Adam Jones Jersey listen to it? Why should any player, any fan have to listen to it without consequences, any more than they would tolerate some idiot running around the field for nine innings, or somebody throwing punches in the center-field bleachers?

If Major League Baseball and teams reinforce the language of the pregame warnings from the public address announcer, they can help embolden a silent majority — the tens of thousands of fans at each game who aren’t yelling racist crap at players and who can point out to security the one or two who manage to demean everybody by deploying the N-word.

The stakes will be raised, the culture shifted: If you say that stuff, security will find you with the help of 40,000 deputized fans prepared to make this the last day you are welcome at this park.

If you say that stuff, you will be ejected. And everybody will know it.

Already off to a slow start, Giants face daunting task with Madison Bumgarner sidelined



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The Giants’ already sluggish season just hit a major obstacle. On Friday afternoon, the team released a statement that ace lefthander Madison Bumgarner Jerseys was being placed on the disabled list—for the first time in his nine-year career—due to injuries suffered while riding a dirt bike during an off day in Denver, which is probably the most Madison Bumgarner Jerseys injury imaginable that doesn’t involve livestock or a throwing axe. Bumgarner sustained bruised ribs and a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder in the crash, and while the burly southpaw escaped more serious damage, San Francisco will still be feeling pain; according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Bumgarner is expected to miss anywhere from six to eight weeks. The loss of one of the league’s best and most irreplaceable players is a massive blow to the Giants’ already dampened playoff hopes.

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The loss of a No. 1 pitcher would be tough for any team to overcome, but it’s especially so for a Giants squad already off to a bad start and struggling through poor performances throughout the rotation. Bumgarner was off to a strong start, compiling a 3.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts across 27 innings and four starts (and you don’t need me to recap how great he’s been for San Francisco over the last six seasons), and Johnny Cueto Jerseys has bounced back from a subpar first start of the year with two straight seven-inning, two-run performances. But veterans Jeff Samardzija Jerseys and Matt Moore Jerseys have both been hit hard, with the former carrying an unsightly 6.16 ERA and four home runs allowed in 19 innings and the latter failing to get out of the sixth in two of his three outings while also striking out just 13 in 19 frames. The final member of that group, Matt Cain Jerseys, has been surprisingly effective so far, with a 3.31 ERA in 16 innings—but that comes with eight walks and three homers allowed and just 12 strikeouts from a pitcher whose right shoulder is being held together by duct tape and prayer.

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With Cain a perpetual injury risk and Samardzija barely better than league average, the Giants were already going to have to make do with a shaky back of the rotation. Bumgarner’s injury will put more pressure on them to perform as well as make up his innings; the lefty led the team with 226 2/3 frames last year, averaging 6 2/3 innings a turn cheap baseball jerseys. A lot of the responsibility of making up for Bumgarner will fall on Cueto, who’s as much of a horse as the man he’s replacing atop the rotation, but getting more innings out of the inefficient Moore, the fragile Cain and the shaky Samardzija has to be a nausea-inducing thought for manager Bruce Bochy.

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What makes Bumgarner’s loss of innings all the more painful beyond his excellence is the additional strain it will place on a bullpen that has had plenty of ups and downs. Closer Mark Melancon Jerseys has been able to get back on track after a brutal blown save on Opening Day, and top setup man Hunter Strickland Jerseys is unscored upon in 5 2/3 innings across six appearances, but fellow righties Derek Law Jerseys, George Kontos Jerseys and Neil Ramirez Jerseys have all been touched up to start the year, as has lefty Ty Blach Jerseys. The latter will take over for Bumgarner in the rotation; the 26-year-old made two starts down the stretch last season and has been a starter throughout his career in the minors. He’s the best of a thin bunch, with the Giants lacking any real pitching depth in the minors; their Triple A rotation is so weak that they’re handing starts to former top prospect Ricky Romero, who flamed out of the majors four years ago. There’s also no guarantee that Bumgarner will be back as expected, either, as shoulder injuries have a nasty habit of creating complications and delays for even the toughest of pitchers.

An injury like Bumgarner’s would be one thing if the Giants were at least off to a good start, but at 6–10, San Francisco is sitting in the NL West basement, already four games back of the division-leading Rockies—the very team the Giants will face this weekend wholesale jerseys. It’s unlikely that Colorado will hold onto first place throughout the year, but that team’s fast start—as well as that of the Diamondbacks—puts additional pressure on the Giants to get right sooner rather than later. A division that already featured baseball’s richest team in the Dodgers has unexpectedly gotten tougher, and even with the rebuilding Padres there to soak up losses, it’s clear the rest of the West is going to be a tough fight.

The Giants have problems beyond Bumgarner, too. Leftfield has been a disaster, with a collective .125/.194/.214 line in 62 plate appearances split between Jarrett Parker Jerseys (himself out for a couple of months due to a fractured collarbone suffered after running into a wall making a catch) and journeymen Chris Marrero and Aaron Hill Jerseys; that .408 OPS between the three of them is good for 29th in baseball, beat out only by the .360 mark put up by Toronto’s leftfielders. Third baseman Eduardo Nunez Jerseys and centerfielder Denard Span Jerseys are both mired in slumps, with the latter looking creaky in his age-33 season. The offense as a whole, meanwhile, has just 11 home runs, tied with Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Toronto for second-worst in baseball.

The lineup will have to produce more with Bumgarner down, though as is, it wasn’t doing much for him; the Giants were averaging just 1.75 runs scored in his starts, and the team had lost all four of his outings. At least now he won’t have to seethe through a total lack of run support, though I imagine that’s cold comfort for him as he nurses his injuries and works his way back to full health. It’s a safe bet that the Giants will need him back as soon as possible, but it’s also easy to imagine that, without his presence atop the rotation, a team already having a hard time keeping pace with the National League’s best is going to slip further and further back into the pack. Not having Bumgarner essentially erases San Francisco’s margin of error over the next two months, and the team will need to play some inspired baseball to have any hope of staying in the race without him. By the time he makes it back, it may be too late.

Philip Humber and the most obscure perfect-game pitchers in baseball history



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Friday marks the fifth anniversary of White Sox pitcher Philip Humber retiring all 27 Mariners he faced at Safeco Field to become the 19th pitcher in modern baseball history to throw a perfect game. Coming off a solid season in Chicago’s rotation in 2011, it appeared as though the 29-year-old righty—who had been chosen by the Mets with the third pick of the ’04 draft—was finally about to become a star. As it turned out, however, Humber was closer to the end of his major league career than the beginning. He won just four more games in the bigs and last pitched at that level in 2013.

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Most of the 21 perfect games in the majors since 1901 were thrown by accomplished pitchers. Six are now in the Hall of Fame: Cy Young (whose perfecto came in 1904), Addie Joss (’08), Jim Bunning (’64), Sandy Koufacx (’65), Catfish Hunter (’68) and Randy Johnson (2004). Conceivably, Roy Halladay (2010) and Felix Hernandez Jerseys (’12) might join them in Cooperstown some day, or at worst wind up among the next tier of perfecto-spinners such as Dennis Martinez (1991), Kenny Rogers (’94), David Wells (’98), David Cone (’99) and Mark Buehrle (2009)—pitchers who enjoyed long, impressive careers.

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The five pitchers hihglighted here, however, are at the other end of the spectrum. They had careers that would have surely been forgotten had they not achieved a sort of immortal status for being cheap jerseys, for one day at least, perfect. 

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Though Humber made his major league debut just two years after being drafted, by that point, he had already undergone Tommy John surgery. By the end of 2010, he had passed through the organizations of the Mets, Twins, Royals and A’s, with 51 1/3 innings spread over five seasons, and he was best known for having been included in the 2008 trade that sent Johan Santana from Minnesota to New York. In January 2011, the White Sox plucked him off the waiver wire and he turned in a respectable 3.75 ERA in 163 innings that year while making 26 starts, finishing 9-9.

On April 21, 2012, his second start of the season, Humber shut down the Mariners in Seattle, not allowing a baserunner and striking out nine, the last of which was Brendan Ryan on a controversial check-swing call to end the game. From there, Humber mostly went downhill. He was tagged for nine runs in five innings in his next start, and while he logged four quality starts in May, he posted a 7.39 ERA in his 87 2/3 innings after the gem, notching just four wins and spending a month on the disabled list due to a flexor pronator strain.

Things went even worse after he moved on to the Astros as a waiver-wire pickup in 2013 (0-8, 7.90 in 54 2/3 innings), and by ’15, he was getting roughed up in the Korean Baseball Organization. After a last-ditch try with the Padres in the spring of 2016, he retired.

A 24th round draft pick out of Texas Tech in 2004, Braden overcame a hardscrabble upbringing, shoulder surgery and a lack of fastball velocity to make the majors in ’07. Between returns to the minors and a 2009 trip to the disabled list for a foot infection, he had a modest career mark of 17-23 with a 4.62 ERA when he took the mound in Oakland on May 9, 2010 to face the Rays on Mother’s Day. His greatest fame to that point had come in a bizarre incident just a couple of weeks earlier, a heated exchange with Alex Rodriguez Jerseys over the Yankees slugger having crossed “”his”” mound while returning to first base following a foul ball, a controversy that generated national attention.

In his first start after that confrontation, Braden had been roughed up by Tampa Bay, but just 11 days later he made history against them, finishing with six strikeouts and getting Gabe Kapler to ground out to short to end it wholesale mlb jerseys. Braden enjoyed several other strong outings that year, including a pair of complete-game four-hitters in August, and finished the season 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 192 2/3 innings. He made just three starts in 2011 before undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior shoulder capsule, and he never made it back to pitching a competitive game; all told, he notched just eight wins after his perfecto. He’s now a broadcaster on ESPN, where he’s cultivated a unique look, to say the least. 

After debuting with the Rangers in September 1976, Barker spend the next three seasons only intermittently sticking in rotations with Texas and Cleveland before going 19-12 with a gaudy 4.17 ERA and a league-high 187 strikeouts for the Indians in 1980. He came into his start on May 15 against the Blue Jays in Cleveland on a roll, having allowed just two runs while striking out 23 over his previous three outings. In front of just 7,290 fans at Municipal Stadium, with the temperature just 49 degrees at first pitch, the 25-year-old righty heated things up with his 96 mph fastball, striking out 11 Toronto hitters without allowing a baserunner. Said his 92-year-old grandmother after his perfect game, “”I’m very proud of him. I hope he does better the next time.””

After the seven-week players’ strike, Barker went on to make the All-Star team for the only time in his career and he again led the AL in strikeouts, although his 3.91 ERA amounted to just a 94 ERA+. He set a career best the following year (3.90 ERA, 106 ERA+) while going 15-11, but from 1983 to ’87, he was cuffed for a 4.88 ERA while going 20-34 and failing to live up to a five-year, $4 million contract he signed with Atlanta after being acquired for their stretch run in 1983. He last pitched in the majors for the Brewers in 1987.

While he threw the most famous perfect game in major league history—the only one in the World Series to date—Larsen rarely stood out otherwise during his 14-year career. He broke in with the St. Louis Browns in 1953, and in ’54, the franchise’s first season after having moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles, he went 3-21 with a 4.37 ERA and more walks than strikeouts; those 21 losses marked the only time he led a league in a statistical category.

Traded to the Yankees as part of a 17-player (!) blockbuster in November 1954, Larsen posted a respectable 45-24 record with a 3.50 ERA in five seasons with New York, including 11-5, 2.36 in 1956. On Oct. 8, he overpowered a Brooklyn Dodgers lineup featuring four future Hall of Famers, striking out pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell for the 27th and final out of a 2-0 win. He helped them win pennants again in ’57 and ’58 and gave up just one run in two starts in the latter season as the Yankees beat the Braves to win the World Series.

In December 1959 New York traded Larsen to the Kansas City A’s, the first of six more big league stops he would make. With the Giants in ’62, he came out of the bullpen three times in the World Series against the Yankees, winning Game 4. He never made an All-Star appearance, however, and finished his career in 1967 with a record of 81-91 and a 3.78 ERA (99 ERA+).

Though he had debuted with the ill-fated White Sox in 1919, the 26-year-old Robertson was making just his fifth big league appearance on April 30, 1922 when he took the mound against the Tigers. Though Detroit would finish first in the AL in on-base percentage that year and second in scoring, they could do nothing aganst the undistinguished Robertson. Future Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann would both later claim that Robertson was doctoring the ball, an allegation never proved.

Robertson’s gem would be the majors’ last until Don Larsen pitched one in the World Series, and the last in the regular season until Phillies cheap jerseys righty Jim Bunning, a future Hall of Famer, spun one against the Mets in 1964. Robinson went 14-15 with 21 compete games and a respectable 3.64 ERA (111 ERA+) in 272 innings in 1922, and he had a similarly solid follow-up in ’23 (13-18, 3.81), but thereafter he battled arm problems and was lit for a 5.22 ERA while going 22-46 in five more seasons with second division-dwelling White Sox, Browns and Braves squads. 

My Oh My: Remembering late, great Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus



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Ken Levine is a screenwriter and broadcaster, and he worked for many years on Mariners’ games alongside the late Dave Niehaus, who died of a heart attack in 2010. The following is excerpted from Sports Illustrated’s Seattle Mariners Jerseys at 40, a 96-page, fully illustrated anniversary keepsake. Available at retailers and at Amazon.com 

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The best way for a baseball announcer to endear himself to an audience is to be with a winning team. You report good news every night and the fans will love you. Piece of cake. When I first became a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners Jerseys in 1992, I joined Dave Niehaus, who had been the team’s voice since day one back in 1977. He said to me, “I figured it out, Kenny. For me to get to a .500 record, the team would have to go 2042–0.”

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But you’d never know it listening to his broadcast. Prior to joining Seattle, Dave worked alongside Dick Enberg calling games for the then California Angels. Team owner Gene Autry once said to Dave, “You call a hell of a game. It’s not the one I’m watching but it’s a hell of a game.” Actually that’s only half true. It was the game you were watching, only better. Because Dave had something that so few announcers have today: showmanship. You were not just getting play-by-play, you were being told a tale by a master storyteller wholesale baseball jerseys. Name me a better way to spend a warm summer night sitting out on the front porch.

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Dave Niehaus was a throwback to the days when announcers had distinctive styles and unique personalities, and great catchphrases. “My oh my!” is how he punctuated a great play. “It will fly away!” for a home run. And, of course, his inimitable call for a grand slam: “Get out the rye bread and the mustard, Grandma, it’s grand salami time!”

I was Dave’s broadcast partner in the ’90s, but we had been longtime friends, since the ’60s. I can honestly say that working alongside him I never learned more, had more fun, or ate worse. Dave had an enormous vocabulary but two words that were never in it were “salad bar.”

The first time I met Dave, he cussed me out. We were both working at KMPC, Los Angeles—he as a sportscaster and me as a lowly sports intern. One of Dave’s assignments was hosting the “Lefty Phillips” show before every Angels game. Lefty was the Angels’ manager, and listeners were invited to leave questions on a voicemail device, and if Dave used your question you won two free tickets to an Angels game. The team was on the East Coast, it was a Saturday night, and I decided on a whim to call in a question. The name I used was Johnny Lizard, which was my air name in college (Charlie Tuna and Jimmy Rabbit were already taken). Anyway, the next morning, Dave was doing the show from the studio and said, “Our next question is from Johnny Lizard.” The engineer said, “Huh? That’s really Ken Levine. He’s one of our interns.” I was sleeping when the phone rang wholesale jerseys. I picked it up, and heard, “If you think you’re getting those goddamn tickets you are goddamn mistaken!” I knew who it was, so I let him rant until I finally said, “Good morning. Lizard residence.” He broke up, and we were fast friends everafter. Dave always loved a good joke, even if it was at his own expense.

When I got the job in Seattle with the Mariners—and this I’ll never forget—Dave took me aside, put his hand on my shoulder, and in his most fatherly way, said, “Kenny, make friends with car dealers.” Dave always drove new cars.

I was embraced by Seattle because Dave embraced me. But that was Dave—gracious, unselfish, supportive. He’s maybe the only star I’ve ever known who was willing to trade his close-up for a two-shot.

Everyone copes with adversity differently. Some get angry, others get depressed. (Mariners’ skipper Lou Piniella did both.) For Dave, it was with laughter. And if there was nothing to laugh about, he laughed on credit. No man’s sense of humor was ever put to a more rigorous test than was Dave’s by the first 20 years of Mariners baseball. And yet, he never lost that enthusiasm, that joy, that booming cackle.

Noted baseball legend Victor Borge once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Anyone who ever listened to Dave felt he was talking directly to them, and only to them. And he was. Dave didn’t announce; he shared. He was your favorite uncle, only far more interesting. He was your fishing buddy, your best-loved teacher, that hale fellow well met—and for younger listeners, your BFF (even though he had no idea what that meant). Dave Niehaus was the most down-to-earth larger-than-life figure that’s ever been.

Some random memories of Dave:

? On the 4th of July he always wore this ridiculous red, white and blue jacket. I tried to get him to wear it all year.

? It could be 12 degrees in Cleveland in April and he’d keep the window open because he felt it was cheating the audience to not be “in the game.” I told him in 1992 this was not good for his health. I was right!

? He referred to himself as the Veteran Spieler.

? I don’t remember just how it started but whenever the Mariners went down by 10 runs or more, Dave and I would sing “The Wabash Cannonball” on the air. Unfortunately, we sang it so often we no longer had to consult the lyric sheet.

? He knew every advance scout, coach, owner, reporter, umpire, official scorer, PR person, PA announcer, organist, clubhouse attendant, pressbox attendant and commissioner in baseball.

? I was forever in awe of the descriptive images he would routinely toss off. A high pop fly one random night in Baltimore was “a white dot against a black sky.” A ground ball down the line would “rooster tail into the corner.” Where did these things come from?

? He knew great restaurants in every town. Some of them have since burned down.

? He personally welcomed every new player to the team. In the four years I was there, it seemed like there were a thousand.

? On the road he never took the team bus to the ballpark. We always caught an early cab. It could be September, three weeks after the team had been mathematically eliminated, a thousand degrees in Texas with hail and locusts in the forecast, and Dave was at the park four hours before game time doing his prep. Every day. Every game. No exceptions. Ever.

I think back to a pregame show the Veteran Spieler once did. We were at Yankee Stadium—the real Yankee Stadium. Dave decided to grab a tape recorder, go down to the monument park in centerfield and simply describe what he saw. Dave sauntered from plaque to plaque, lovingly and reverently paying tribute to these immortals of the game. All off the top of his head. It was masterful. It was moving. It was musical. The greatest love song to baseball I’ve ever heard.

And now Dave is in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And forever more, fans can pay tribute and remember him. “My oh my!”

Dave had a number of opportunities to move to other teams, to winning franchises in major markets. Had he taken one of those jobs he might have been in the Hall 10 years sooner. But he felt a commitment to the team and a connection to Seattle.

If Yankee Stadium was the House that Ruth Built, then Safeco Field is the House that Haus Built.

He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, broadcaster, mentor, ambassador, Hoosier, military veteran, citizen and, proud to say, Hall of Famer. I miss him terribly.

Dave Niehaus enjoyed life and made everyone else’s life more enjoyable.

But Dave, your calculations were a little off. According to me, your record as a Mariners broadcaster was 5,284–0. That’s well above .500.

Ozzie Smith chats about instant replay, pace of play and his favorite shortstops



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The last few years of baseball have brought a tremendous amount of change to the game in a short period of time, but has all of it been for good? That’s the question that Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith wants the fans to answer. The former Cardinals great has partnered with Kingsford Charcoal to start the conversation about what people like most about baseball—home runs, dominant pitching, amazing glove work, or even something else entirely. Join the conversation via Twitter (using the hashtag #BestofBaseball) or Facebook, and you’ll be given a chance to win a VIP trip to the 2017 All-Star Game. For more information, go here.

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As part of his fact-finding expedition, the Wizard of Oz talked to SI.com about what he likes most in baseball, whether the game has a pace of play problem, his issues with instant replay, what he thinks is wrong with his St. Louis Cardinals Jerseys, and more.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What do you think is good about the game of baseball in 2017?

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Beyond the great shortstops we have, one thing that’s always been one of my pet peeves is that when you start making changes to the game, you don’t think about the effect that it has. One of the most exciting parts of the game for me was watching people like Billy Martin or Lou Piniella or managers in general getting into arguments with umpires on calls. That’s always been part of the entertainment of the game cheap jerseys. But because of the advent of instant replay, that’s one part of the game that’s changed. As a player, it was always entertaining to me to see how infuriated a person could get, and they got that way because they cared so much about the game and winning.

Is there a favorite memory of yours of a manager going nuts on an umpire?

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I mentioned Piniella; he was one of those guys who’d come out and kick dirt on home plate and picked up [bases] and threw them. That was always part of baseball, because you cared so much. That part is gone now because of instant replay wholesale mlb jerseys. Instant replay, originally, the intent was good, to determine if the ball was fair or foul or if it went out of the ballpark. But I think that what we’ve done now is we’ve taken it so far that we question every call that’s out there. Those are the types of things that were put in place to try to speed the game up and in actuality slowed the game down.

So how would you fix instant replay?

There are some parts of this game that are natural, and the human element in this game is what made it unique. You’re not going to get every call right. Instant replay, you could probably implement it more in the postseason. When you go beyond that, now you’re starting to interfere with the natural order of what the game is all about. That’s where the game has changed a lot. I wouldn’t have replay on every play.

You played in an era when the game went by faster, but do you think it’s too slow or needs to be sped up?

I’ve always believed that baseball had its own cadence, its own timeframe. But when you implement the instant replay and have the ability to question every play, that’s what slows the game down. The fact that we’re looking into the dugout to see whether it’s safe or out, or all those challenges, you’re up against a timeframe. You add time when you have all of these stoppages.

You mentioned earlier that there are a lot of great young shortstops in this game. Are there any who remind you of a young Ozzie Smith?

I think the guys today are expected to give a lot more offensively than the prototypical shortstops who were around when I played. In terms of guys who can blend offense and defense, I look at Alcides Escobar Jerseys. Last year, we had a chance to see Francisco Lindor Jerseys on the stage for the first time and realized how talented he is. The stability in San Francisco comes from Brandon Crawford Jerseys, who doesn’t get a lot of pub. These guys are all good offensive players and good defensive players. But I don’t know if it’s fair to expect them to be able to give you all the offense you’re looking for and still cover as much ground as a prototypical shortstop because a lot of these guys are a lot bigger, a lot stronger and probably don’t cover as much ground. But they’re very surehanded and they make the routine plays everyday, and that’s what’s really important to a team. That gives a pitching staff a level of confidence it may not otherwise have had. When a pitcher knows that he doesn’t have to strike a guy out to get a guy out, that makes it a lot easier.

Of those good young shortstops right now, who stands out in your mind as the No. 1 guy in the league?

I don’t know if you can say No. 1 because they’re all different in their own rights. They present the special things their teams need. All those guys are very capable. Lindor, last year was a big year for him, getting to the big stage and being able to perform. Crawford over the last five years has proven that he’s one of those guys. And Andrelton Simmons Jerseys is still improving and still very young. Those three guys are the ones that really impress me with their ability and consistency.

It seems like MLB has more young stars than it can count, but it seems like the game is struggling to find a way to market those guys and make them household names.

You’re right on. I think the NFL has done a much better job marketing football than MLB has with baseball. We’ve got to do a better job of marketing these young players that we have. That’s one of the challenges Mr. Manfred has, being better at marketing the game. I think we certainly have the people to do it with. It’s not as simple as “”Put a guy on a billboard here.”” But I see it getting better; we just have to get to that next level. We certainly have the talent in this business and enough young people. If we can get the young people, especially from a social media standpoint, I think that’s how it’s going to be done. Social media is such an important part of this society and this group of young people. That’s where the change is really going have to come.

How do you think baseball can get people involved on social media?

That’s part of what this promotion is about. It’s about getting people to talk about what they love about the game and what they don’t like and getting the ideas of what people are looking for. That’s where it starts, with programs like this, so we can see what it is people have interest in and the things that are going to ingratiate them more into the game itself.

Your St. Louis Cardinals Jerseys are off to a bit of a rough start so far. What do you think is their biggest issue so far?

Other than hitting, running, throwing, catching, pitching…

I’ll put that down as “”Everything,”” then.

[Laughs] It’s one of those things where you’ve got to put all of those things together. When you don’t, you end up struggling like they are. But by this time next week, maybe they’ve won six or seven in a row, and then you’re just like everybody else. You’re not that far out, as bad as it may seem right now, and if you can run off four or five games in a row, you’re still in the hunt. It’s 162 games, and it’s a long way to the end.

How hard is it when you’re in one of those slides as a team to get out of it?

It starts with each person. If I go out and I do my job and you go out and do yours, and everybody concentrates on doing the best they can do that day, that’s where it all starts. You look around, and overnight, things can change for you. It starts with all of the little things, making the routine plays, and that’s how you get yourself out of a slump. It goes back to good fundamentals; if you don’t have them, that makes it extremely tough.

These Cubs are starting to look like the Cubs of 2016



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CHICAGO — Just like that, it’s starting to feel a lot like 2016 again for the Chicago Cubs Jerseys. On consecutive days, they’ve snatched victory from defeat, thanks to a high-powered offense that led the league last year in wins (eight) after trailing after eight innings. They got their first ninth-inning comeback win of this season Wednesday, when Addison Russell Jerseys capped a four-run frame against the Brewers with a walk-off, three-run homer off reliever Neftali Feliz Jerseys.

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“When you count us out, we seem to have a spark,” Russell said after the 7-4 win. “All it takes is one hit, one walk, and we get rolling.”

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A walk by Jon Jay Jerseys, then a pinch-hit single from Miguel Montero Jerseys set the stage for MVP Kris Bryant Jerseys’s first (regular-season) game-tying hit in the ninth inning or later in his career, which was followed by Russell’s blast.

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Yes, this game felt very much like the 2016 Cubs.

“We keep on coming back for more,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really one of those ugly wins, but you’ll take it any day of the week. It is the resiliency. It is the fact that we don’t quit. It’s on the ring: ‘We Don’t Quit’ [sic]. It’s on the ring, man. It’s a perfect example today.”

Maddon was referring to the World Series rings the players cheap jerseys received at the beginning of the homestand, in one of several ceremonies celebrating last year’s run that prompted players to describe this past week as “emotional.” Now they can start a nine-game road trip feeling a lot better about themselves after dropping below .500 for a moment. Two come-from-behind wins will do that.

“You definitely want to go into Cincinnati with the sense we can come back in any part of the game,” Russell said. “That’s what we did today. Just don’t give up. That’s the type of style that we play.”

A clutch Russell hit is a throwback to last season, as is the Cubs’ ability to pick each other up when there’s failure. Three of their young players struck out in the eighth inning with men on base, including Albert Almora Jr., who had the tying run 90 feet away with one out. He struck out in an epic, 11-pitch at-bat.

It looked like the Brewers would survive. Then came the ninth-inning heroics.

“I didn’t get the job done,” Almora said. “We were still confident coming into the ninth inning. We did the job today.”

Not everything felt like 2016, however, as Kyle Hendricks Jerseys is off to a bad start. He gave up two home runs and tied a career high with four walks Wednesday. But the bullpen was there to pick him up. In fact, it was the second consecutive day that the relief staff picked up a starter. That’s a change from just a few days ago, when the bullpen couldn’t hold even a small deficit, let alone a lead.

“We did a better job of taking care of the latter part of the game,” Maddon said.

That allowed for the late-inning dramatics, which included a bloop single to right by Russell the inning before his home run. That hit “got him going,” Maddon noted. The Cubs haven’t made the best contact in key spots this season wholesale mlb jerseys, but perhaps they’re coming around.

“I want us to move the baseball better in certain situations and not succumb to the strikeout,” Maddon said. “We were better last year at that. We need to get back to that.”

At 8-7, the Cubs are hardly firing on all cylinders, but all they need to do for now is keep their heads above water until things really click. The past two days provide for that, giving them a moment to breathe. A Wednesday night charity event featuring cheap jerseys the entire organization will feel a lot better after their latest two wins. And you better believe there will be plenty wearing their rings.

“We Never Quit” was an appropriate refrain on Wednesday.

“That was an unbelievable win today,” Hendricks said. “There’s been a lot going on. A lot of outside factors pushing against us, so to be able to focus on the game and get big wins … these teams we’re playing are coming for us. The target is on our backs.”

Said Maddon: “It’s been an emotional week. It’s been a nice conclusion to it.”

Is Francisco Lindor on the fast track to Cooperstown?



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At the beginning of the 2015 season, Francisco Lindor Jerseys was playing shortstop for the Columbus Clippers.

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Last year at this time, he was coming off a second-place Rookie of the Year finish, with Carlos Correa Jerseys of the Houston Astros Jerseys squeaking out the win. Still only 23, Lindor is coming off his first full season in the majors, one featuring his first All-Star appearance, his first Gold Glove and a ninth-place MVP finish.

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Even more importantly, he continues to get better, escaping Correa’s shadow and making the question of the best young shortstop in the American League a tougher one to answer. The Indians aren’t at the top of the division yet, but with slow starts from Edwin Encarnacion Jerseys, Carlos Santana Jerseys and much of the rotation, Lindor’s blazing April is one of the things keeping the team afloat.

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His hits aren’t dinky, little, seeing-eye singles either cheap mlb jerseys, as Lindor has upped his power game in 2017 to that of the elite players. Just take a look at Statcast’s Barrels count, which is a tally of balls hit with the exit velocity and angle to result in a batting average of .500 and 1.500 slugging (and starts at 98 mph exit velocity), early-season standings. The top five for rate include three noted power hitters in Yoenis Cespedes Jerseys, Freddie Freeman Jerseys and Khris Davis Jerseys, a fourth in Eric Thames, who leads the league in homers as he returns from two 40-plus-homer seasons in Korea, and Lindor, the former glove-first shortstop prospect.

Lindor’s scorching .351/.415/.684 through Tuesday’s games has been significant enough to move his rest-of-season projections. I’m not just talking about the season totals added from the fast start. I’m talking about the actual estimate of his baseline level of play. The ZiPS projection system now projects Lindor to finish the season with 6.2 WAR, up from 5.3 WAR before the season. His OPS projection of .805 for the season is now up to .826 from now until the Indians finish their season.

What does 6.3 WAR mean beyond “That’s good”? Only two offensive players in baseball project to finish with more: Mike Trout Jerseys (8.1) and Josh Donaldson Jerseys (6.3). That also means that of baseball’s bumper crop of absurdly good shortstops wholesale baseball jerseys, it’s Lindor who stands at the front in 2017, ahead of Correa (5.0), Corey Seager Jerseys (4.4), Brandon Crawford Jerseys (3.6), Xander Bogaerts Jerseys (3.2), and Addison Russell Jerseys (3.0).

Wait … when was the last time Mookie Betts struck out?



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TORONTO — For all the things Mookie Betts Jerseys did that got the attention of Boston Red Sox Jerseys amateur scout Danny Watkins, it was something he didn’t do that stood out most.

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“I don’t remember seeing him swing and miss,” Watkins said.

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And it wasn’t like Watkins watched Betts play only once or twice. He spent weeks around the John Overton High School baseball team in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010 and 2011 and saw dozens of games. Watkins has plenty of stories about the ease with which Betts hit line drives to every part of the field, terrorized opponents on the bases and made diving stops and leaping catches at shortstop.

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But swing and miss? No, that was never Betts’ thing.

It has been more than a decade since an MLB player has gone this long without a single strikeout, and Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts Jerseys aims to keep his streak going. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

So consider Watkins impressed as ever, though utterly unsurprised, to learn that Betts hadn’t struck out in 128 consecutive regular-season plate appearances for the Red Sox through Tuesday night’s 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Jerseys. It’s the longest streak in the majors since Juan Pierre went 147 plate appearances without striking out for the Florida Marlins in 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Not since Denny Doyle in 1975 (159 plate appearances) has a Red Sox player gone so long between strikeouts.

Betts’ run is even more impressive when you consider strikeouts are on the rise across baseball. Last season, 102 players fanned at least 100 times, an increase from 63 players in 2006. Since Baltimore Orioles Jerseys reliever Oliver Drake Jerseys fooled Betts with a splitter in the sixth inning of a game last Sept. 12 at Fenway Park, four players — Byron Buxton Jerseys, Randal Grichuk Jerseys, Danny Espinosa Jerseys and Chris Davis Jerseys — have each struck out more than 40 times.

Save for a strikeout in his first postseason at-bat last year, the only “K” associated with Betts lately is the one he needs to spell Mookie.

“When I was scouting Mookie, that was clearly one of the things that was so good about him,” Watkins says. “He had total command of the strike zone at that point, and he just didn’t swing and miss very much. Generally, his contact was off the barrel. I didn’t see him really get off-balance, which indicated he was able to identify spin early. That’s why it was clear to me that the guy had a chance to hit.”

What makes Betts so good with his bat? An elite level of hand-eye coordination and an uncanny ability to recognize pitches long before they enter the strike zone. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Betts struck out 13 times during his four years at Overton, according to records kept by the school’s longtime baseball coach, Mike Morrison. He struck out only once as a junior and four times as a senior.

At every stop in the minor leagues, from short-season Lowell through Double-A Portland, Betts had fewer strikeouts than walks. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, he has made contact on 87.1 percent of his swings entering the series in Toronto, the sixth-highest rate in the American League, according to Fangraphs.

It isn’t like Betts always swings early in the count either cheap mlb jerseys. Sixty of his plate appearances during the streak have reached two strikes, with 21 resulting in him reaching base (15 hits, six walks). In the seventh inning Monday, Betts ran the count to 2-2 against Rays reliever Chase Whitley Jerseys before calmly lining a double to the gap in left-center.

What accounts for Betts’ extreme ability to get his bat to almost any ball?

Start with his hand-eye coordination, which is off the charts, even by the standards of major league hitters. But it’s more than that. According to Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, who worked with Betts in the minors, Betts possesses a freakish ability to recognize the location of pitches long before they approach the strike zone.

“He’s aggressive and he’s ready to swing the bat, but he always swings at good pitches. You rarely see him swinging at bad pitches, and when you do that, the chances are you’re going to put the ball in play,” Rodriguez says. “We were in instructional league [in 2011], and I saw that right away, an ability to control the strike zone, ability to hit the ball to all fields, an ability to get the head of the bat to the ball. That’s something you cannot teach. It’s something that comes with him, and he had it from day one.”

Indeed, Betts’ cognitive skills were evident from the well-chronicled time that he aced a series of neuroscience tests administered by the Red Sox before the draft. Betts, who solved a Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes during a pregame show segment in 2015, was asked to tap the space bar on a computer as soon as he saw a baseball spinning in a particular direction.

“Mookie was the most observant kid I have ever coached,” Morrison says. “He picked up things in a game better than kids his age usually do. He watched how pitchers worked his teammates. He watched sequences that pitchers were using — what they threw in hitters’ counts, what they threw behind in the count and what pitchers were throwing in two-strike counts. He used that information to make himself an extremely good hitter wholesale jerseys.”

Oddly, Betts has only two home runs since his streak of plate appearances without a strikeout began, including his first homer of the season Tuesday night against Toronto Blue Jays Jerseys reliever Joe Smith Jerseys. He isn’t off to a particularly scorching start this season, with only four extra-base hits in 45 at-bats, though a three-day absence because of the flu messed with his timing coming out of spring training.

But Rodriguez says Betts’ ability to make contact allows him to have productive at-bats even when he isn’t producing runs. In fact, Betts was still contributing to rallies by getting on base at a .420 clip and moving runners when he doesn’t reach.

Betts is so adept at putting his bat on the ball that Tampa Bay Rays Jerseys right-hander Chris Archer Jerseys said it’s best if a pitcher doesn’t think about trying to strike him out, even in a two-strike count.

“I think what makes Mookie good is he never gets out of his approach,” Archer said. “With two strikes, he’s still a well-balanced hitter. He’s not trying to pull everything. He’s not trying to choke up. He’s a well-balanced hitter with elite bat-to-ball skills. I don’t know if it’s hand-eye or what. Guys like him that don’t strike out, you don’t try to strike them out. You just have to execute your pitch and let it cheap jerseys go from there.”

Nobody will be surprised if Betts’ streak continues. He still has a long way to go to catch former Philadelphia Phillies Jerseys second baseman Dave Cash, who holds the expansion-era (since 1961) mark with 223 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, according to Elias.

“I think he learned a lot in the minor leagues through the hitting coaches that he had about the importance of a good at-bat,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to always be a homer or double. It’s being able to see pitches, work counts, put the ball in play with two strikes. If you continue to do that, the homers and the doubles are going to come.”

Lefty Bobby LaFromboise impressing Phillies



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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Left-hander Bobby LaFromboise Jerseys was twice claimed off waivers during the offseason. After the Phillies Nathan Karns Jersey #13 took him in January, he was designated for assignment and re-signed to a Minor League contract so he could be taken off the big league roster.

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Despite that inauspicious start, LaFromboise has made a strong impression this spring. He pitched two scoreless innings in Friday’s 9-2 win over the Braves, walking one and striking out three. After six Grapefruit League innings cheap jerseys, he still hasn’t allowed a hit.

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Two other lefties, Edward Mujica Jerseys and Elvis Aruajo, also pitched scoreless innings Friday.

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“It was nice to see LaFromboise, [James] Russell and Araujo, all the three lefties who are in contention for a bullpen job, it was good to see those guys do well,” said manager Pete Mackanin.

Russell showed poise in the fifth inning when Barrett Kleinknecht ripped a line drive back up the middle that knocked his glove off. But Russell was able to retrieve the ball and throw Kleinknecht out at first.

Left-hander Daniel Stumpf, who is a Rule 5 Draft pick wholesale jerseys, has given up just one run in five innings.

Mackanin said no decision has been made on how many bullpen lefties the Phillies might break camp with.

“It depends on how we feel about all of them,” said Mackanin. “There’s nothing wrong with having three of them in the bullpen, but it depends on everybody else, I guess.

“I think it’s interesting to note that this was the year everybody was told this was the spring that would be full of competition unlike any spring we’ve ever had here before. Guys like [first baseman Darin] Ruf, he’s really doing well. [Catcher Cameron] Rupp is doing well. [Catcher Carlos Ruiz Jerseys] is gung-ho all the time. You can tell he’s battling. Everyone seems to be battling, and it’s bringing out the best in the guys.”

The 29-year-old LaFromboise has been one of the most pleasant surprises in camp, and part of the reason might be a change pitching coach Bob McClure suggested after seeing him thrown only once or twice.

“He moved me over to the third-base side [of the rubber] and it’s kind of helped me with my fastball coming in,” LaFromboise explained. “That’s a big part of it. He said, ‘Hey, try this.’ So I went over, tried it and liked it. When I’m throwing from the first-base side, I’m really cut off. It’s hard for me to get inside to a righty. From the third-base side, it’s almost like that’s my plane.”

At the University of New Mexico, LaFromboise threw from the third-base side. The Mariners moved him over after he signed with them in 2008.

LaFromboise doesn’t throw hard, but he has a deceptive delivery. So far, he’s more than holding his own in the bullpen sweepstakes.

“I like that funk he offers,” Mackanin said.

Worth noting

Jim Kaat, who won 283 games during his 25-year career, started his stint as a guest instructor on Friday. Kaat pitched four years with the Phillies from 1976 to 1979.

Right-hander Kyle Kendrick Jerseys, who started his big league career by going 74-68 for the Phillies in eight seasons, started for the Braves Friday and faced his former team for the first time. “I’m over it,” said Kendrick, who signed a Minor League contract with Atlanta. “Besides, outside of (Ryan Howard Jerseys), I really don’t know any of those guys.” With the Rockies last season, his starts didn’t line up with the games against the Phils.

Paul Hagen Nathan Karns Jersey #13 is a reporter for MLB.com.