Hideki Matsui Won $5,000 Bet with a Triple

The Angels are 71-74 and have become so bad that I stopped watching their games a month ago. Torii Hunter must be in the same boat because the outfielder had a little side wager going to keep things interesting. (OK, it sounds like the wager was made before the start of the season but it makes this story sound better).

Hunter scored from first on a triple by teammate Hideki Matsui during the second inning Wednesday. On his way to the dugout after scoring, Hunter noticed that Matsui had made it to third and apparently had a strange reaction. As he told the OC Register via Hardball Talk, he said “I was like, ‘What the …? Ah, hell no … I’m not talking to Matsui anymore.”

That’s because Hunter had bet $5,000 that Matsui and his bad knees wouldn’t have a triple the entire season. It may have taken 145 games and 443 at-bats but Matsui finally got his triple. Ironically enough, that’s one more than Torii has.

Torii Hunter lost $5,000 on Hideki Matsui’s triple last night [Hardball Talk]
Conger’s big-league debut a big success [OC Register]

Derek Jeter Made the Right Baseball Move

People have been buzzing about the Derek Jeter fake hit-by-pitch that took place on Wednesday night. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 7th against the Rays, Chad Qualls threw inside on Jeter who turned and acted as if he were hit by the pitch. Turns out the pitch hit the knob of the bat — not Jeter — but Jeter acted hurt and was sent to first base. Curtis Granderson followed with a home run to make it 3-2 Yankees. Had Dan Johnson not delivered the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom half, Jeter’s play may have won the game for the Yankees. So the question people have been debating today is whether or not that was a lame acting job similar to flopping, or whether that was a smart baseball play.

If I were in Jeter’s shoes, I would have acted like the pitch hit me too and happily taken my base had it been awarded by the umpires. I’ve argued for instant replay many times but as long as baseball is stubborn about it then you might as well take advantage of their weaknesses. For instance, if an umpire gives your pitcher a few inches off the corner, you throw it there even if you know it’s a ball. If you know the umpire will give you the out at second when you do a phantom tag then you do a phantom swipe on double plays. That’s all about taking advantage of baseball’s umpire-related weaknesses. Some help your team, some go against it. Jeter acting like he was hit is not about him slumping and looking for an out, it’s about seizing an opportunity. Sure, some of the media will give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s Derek Jeter, but he made the right move.

As for the common sense argument, well, if we know the ball didn’t hit him then he should not have been awarded the base. This is just another example of why baseball needs instant replay. Here’s a video of Derek Jeter’s hit by pitch in case you haven’t seen it:

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Hilarious Fake Press Release Rips Cubs

When reporters and writers arrived at Miller Park to take in the Brewers-Cubs game on Friday night, they were treated to some unexpected hilarity.  Hidden within the regular game day press notes was a fake press release making fun of the Cubs and G.M. Jim Hendry.  Here’s a picture of the sheet:

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Aaron Cook Drilled With Line Drive

As far as taking a line drive off the leg goes, I must say Aaron Cook did it like a champ on Wednesday night.  When Cincinnati’s Joey Votto cranked a liner back at Cook, it broke his fibula and you can hear it loud and clear when you watch the clip.  Considering the gnarly sound it made, Cook has to be one tough s.o.b.  That, or he had yet to even realize his fibula had been shattered.  Check out the Aaron Cook injury video, courtesy of Deadspin:

Video Credit: Deadspin

Albert Pujols Personifies a Team Leader

There was major news over the weekend in St. Louis when it was reported that center fielder Colby Rasmus had requested a trade earlier in the year. Rasmus has been unhappy with his role in the organization for a few years now and wants to go somewhere he can play consistently.

When he was told about the trade request, Albert Pujols did not respond politely. In fact, the St. Louis first baseman and eventual Hall of Famer spoke sternly and more passionately about his team than almost any player I’ve ever heard. Even though it’s old news, you have to see Albert’s quotes in case you missed it. Here’s what he said:

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Ryan Roberts Lived in Team’s Clubhouse During Minor League Stint

Diamondbacks utility man Ryan Roberts is knows for a few things: his versatility as a player and his tattoos. Now he’ll be known for something else.

As I found out through Big League Stew, Roberts actually spent part of the year living in the Reno Aces’ clubhouse during his minor league stint with the Triple-A team this year. Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic has all the interesting details on the story.

The gist of the story is that Roberts leased a place in Phoenix because he expected to make the Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster. He didn’t and was sent to Triple-A Reno. Initially he had a place in Reno with his daughter and wife, but when he was called up to Arizona in May, his family came with him and they decided to remain there when he was demoted a few weeks later.

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Scout: Lincecum Will End Up in Bullpen

Few pitchers have enjoyed a better start to a career than Tim Lincecum. The 26-year-old won the Cy Young Award in his first two full seasons in the bigs, leading the league in strikeouts both years. 2010 however has been an entirely different story.

Lincecum lost all five of his starts in August, posting an ugly 7.82 ERA during the month to forget. For the first time in his career, he lost three starts in a row. People speculated about the reasons for Lincecum’s poor performance. Some attributed the struggles to having a new catcher, a drop in velocity, or poor conditioning — which is what manager Bruce Bochy said.

Whatever the reason, many people are down on the former Cy Young winner. In a good, wide-ranging notes column, Ken Rosenthal shares this item from a scout who said about Lincecum, “It will be an interesting question this winter: Where is he? What does he have left? I think he’ll end up in the bullpen.”

From Cy Young winner to just being a bullpen arm? Does that mean the scout thinks Lincecum will have arm trouble and lose durability? Even if his pitching has fallen off, I can’t imagine Lincecum becoming a reliever any time over the next few years. He’s not what he was the last two years, but that seems too extreme to me.

Regardless, we know one thing is for certain: there isn’t much more fragile than a pitcher’s arm. We’ve learned that countless times over the past few years.

Would Jeter take less money for Yanks? [Ken Rosenthal/FOX Sports]