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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Baseball

Joe Maddon blames AC/DC concert for messing up Wrigley infield

Joe Maddon Cubs

For over four decades, rock and roll ass-kickers AC/DC have been melting faces, shattering eardrums, and causing heavy-metal destruction wherever they set foot. It’s that last part that Cubs manager Joe Maddon has a problem with, especially after the Australian rockers played a concert at Wrigley Field.

The band played Wrigley on September 15, and after the Cubs committed three errors on Monday against the Brewers, the 61-year-old Maddon could hold his tongue about those darn kids and their rock and/or roll no longer.

“Since the AC/DC concert, we’ve had a little bit of trouble,” said Maddon after the game per the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know if they were out there taking ground balls before the game, or if they had 9-inch heels or spikes.”

“They totally messed up the infield, and it has nothing to do with the groundskeepers,” he continued. “I’ve seen a bad hop at third, and a bad hop at second. I didn’t see one bad hop all year. We just got to get it ironed out because I think Starlin has done a nice job at second base. I don’t want anyone blaming him on that error. It was a weird hop.”

Maybe Angus Young should have taken it a little bit easy doing his signature schoolboy strut in the middle infield area.

With the 88-62 Cubs poised for a dark horse playoff berth in the National League, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t want anything messing up their home field mojo, not even the sweet sounds of good ol’ toe-tapping rock-and-roll. Maybe the team should have forced the concert to be rescheduled, similar to what a fellow MLB brethren did.

Dare I say it, but have the Cubs been…Errorstruck??

H/T Deadspin

Mike Francesa goes off on Matt Harvey exiting game after five innings

With the Mets heading towards the playoffs, the subject of Matt Harvey’s availability for them has been a hot topic as of late.

Scott Boras, Harvey’s agent, said the 26-year-old was prescribed by his doctors to only throw 180 innings during the regular season as the pitcher works his way back from Tommy John surgery he underwent in October 2013. The Mets have decided to ease up on Harvey’s workload between now and the end of the season in an effort to control his innings.

During Sunday’s game against the Yankees, Harvey was removed after throwing 77 pitches through five innings. This did not sit well with radio host Mike Francesa, who went off on the Mets’ handling of their star pitcher.

Francesa suggested the team changed the mood of the game from an exciting one versus their city rivals to a dark one by taking Harvey out when they did.

“The bottom line is this was Harvey. This was your Dark Knight, and you turned it into a very dark night very quickly by pulling him out of the game 77 pitches into a performance,” he said.

Francesa also made a valid point by questioning if the this method was preparing Harvey for the playoffs. If New York is going go with what they’re calling “half outings” for Harvey between now and the end of the season, they’re essentially treating his last few starts like spring training. While that would accomplish the goal of reducing the wear on his arm, it could also affect him being able to work longer during the playoffs if he’s having a good outing.

The Nationals dealt with a similar situation a few years ago in Stephen Strasburg’s first full season after Tommy John surgery. With Washington headed to the playoffs, they shut down Strasburg for the season in September, not wanting him to exceed 160 innings.

Harvey, on the other hand, said he will pitch in the playoffs. It would be optimal for him to be at his sharpest when that time comes, which the short outings may prevent. However, the Mets would be in the postseason for the first time since 2006, and Harvey’s inclusion would almost be mandatory.

Matt Harvey

Albert Pujols asked for baseball after ending hitless streak (Video)

albert-pujols-hitless-streak

Albert Pujols is a surefire Hall of Famer when his playing days are over, having piled up numerous accolades and accomplishments along the way. However, on Saturday, he requested a baseball as a memento for a dubious distinction.

Heading into the fourth inning the Angels’ game against the Twins, Pujols had gone hitless in 25 consecutive at-bats, the longest such streak of his career. The drought came to an end when Pujols hit a ground ball to center field for a base hit.

After reaching first base, Pujols indicated to pitcher Mike Pelfrey he would like to have the baseball. It’s not uncommon to see this for a player’s first hit or other milestone. However, in this instance, Pelfrey was caught off guard and wasn’t sure if Pujols was being serious or not. Pujols and Mauer shared a laugh at first base. Pelfrey couldn’t help but smile himself before tossing the ball to the Angels dugout.

Unfortunately, Pujols was unable to extend his hitting streak to two games as he went 0-4 at the plate on Sunday. For the season, the 35-year-old is hitting .238 with 35 home runs and 85 RBI.

H/T Eye On Baseball

Joe Maddon fuming with Cardinals over retaliation for hit batter

Joe Maddon Cubs

Joe Maddon went scorched earth on the St. Louis Cardinals after feeling like they unnecessarily retaliated during Friday’s Cubs-Cardinals game.

Cubs pitcher Dan Haren hit Matt Holliday in the fifth inning, leading the Cardinals to retaliate by hitting Anthony Rizzo in the seventh

“I’m really disappointed in what the Cardinals did right there,” Maddon said after the game. “We did not hit their guy on purpose. That was an absolute mistake. So to become this vigilante group that all off a sudden wants to get their own pound of flesh, that’s absolutely insane, ridiculous and wrong. … And furthermore, we won’t start stuff, but we will end stuff.”

Maddon even threw out a Tony Soprano reference.

“I don’t know who put out the hit,” he said. “I don’t know if Tony Soprano is in the dugout. I didn’t see him in there. We’re not going to put up with that from them or anyone else.”

The Cubs manager says he is not sure whether a beef will continue between the teams and said that was up to the Cardinals, a team of whom he was a fan growing up. He also warned that his team will run on the bases as long as the Cardinals continue to play defense behind them and give them extra space. He also preemptively struck out against the mythical “Cardinals Way,” which might suggest that that strategy is against baseball ethics.

“I never read this book the Cardinals wrote way back in the day regarding how to play baseball,” Maddon said via ESPN.com. “You can take that book and read it yourself because I don’t give a crap about that book. I want everyone there to understand we don’t start stuff but we stop stuff.”

After reading quotes like that, it’s hard to believe another manager once called Maddon a “weird wuss.”

Justin Verlander did not like fans booing Brad Ausmus (Video)

Justin Verlander Brad Ausmus

Justin Verlander had an issue with the fans on Friday night for booing manager Brad Ausmus for pulling him with two outs in the ninth inning.

Verlander had just given up a hard two-out single to right field and Salvador Perez was coming to the plate. With Verlander’s pitch count up and Perez’s record of success against the former Cy Young winner, Ausmus decided to pull his starter. As Ausmus made his way out to the mound, the fans booed the decision to lift the starter. They also booed as he returned to the dugout.

Verlander didn’t like what the fans were doing and even stepped out of the dugout to tell them to pump it up for Ausmus.

“There were a lot of positives tonight, and I’m a big believer in positive energy, positive vibes. And I don’t think that was a good situation to boo,” Verlander said after the game. “We’ve got a lot of good things going; here comes our reliever in to a bunch of boos. Obviously, granted, it’s not for him, but I just didn’t think that was the right situation.

“I wished they were a little more positive in that situation. Granted, I’ve been booed, everybody’s been booed. It happens. But I’m a firm believer in positive energy.”

The fans booing almost seemed warranted after Perez hit a two-run home run off reliever Alex Wilson to tie the game and send it to extra innings, where the Tigers won 5-4. But Verlander is right here. The manager was doing what he thought was best for the club by making the change, so it’s hard to blame him.

This is not the first time that Verlander has reacted with sensitivity towards the fans. Apparently that sort of thing can bother players a lot more than they let on.

Kris Bryant goes undercover in Chicago as Lyft driver (Video)

kris-bryant-lyft

As a frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award and one of the biggest reasons why the team is in the midst of its first winning season since 2009, Cubs phenom third baseman Kris Bryant is one of the hottest commodities in the game today. Just don’t expect to recognize him out on the street. Because apparently not even the City of Chicago can do that.

Bryant recently pranked some unsuspecting Lyft passengers in the Windy City by going undercover as their driver. And it was gold, Jerry! Gold!

Classic. And what an unflinching commitment to character too. Bryant even plays it cool as the passengers shoot the breeze with him about the surprising success of the Cubs and their new stud third baseman, who curiously enough is not featured on any of the posters outside of Wrigley Field. And man, that one-liner:

“I play baseball. I’m pretty good.” -Kris Bryant

Yeah, that definitely should have been my senior quote.

And just when you would think that 24 home runs and 93 RBIs as a rookie would be enough to get a guy some local recognition. Go figure.

H/T Big League Stew

Michael Carter-Williams hits camera man with errant first pitch (Video)

Prior to Thursday’s game between the Brewers and Cardinals, Michael Carter-Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was surely one he would like to have a second chance at.

Williams’ toss did not reach its intended target. It did, however, find an unsuspecting camera man who was on the field to record the pregame festivities.

With the game in Miller Park, the stomping grounds of Bob Uecker, this seems fitting.

We’ve seen some memorable (not necessarily in a good way) first pitches by basketball players in the past. Paul Pierce chuckled after his attempt prior to a Dodgers game in July. Nick Young airmailed one over Dee Gordon’s head last year. And, who can forget John Wall’s back in 2011.

Move over gentlemen, it’s time to make room for Michael Carter Williams at the table.

michael-carter-williams-first-pitch

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