It Was Time for Piniella to Call it Quits

On Tuesday, word leaked that Chicago Cubs skipper Lou Piniella would be retiring at the end of the 2010 season.  Piniella said that he made this decision at this point in the season so that GM Jim Hendry would have ample time to find his replacement. I say it’s about time.

Piniella’s four years in Chicago have been interesting to say the least. In his time with the Cubs he led them to back-to-back NL Central titles in 2007 and 2008. Whether it was the pressure of the playoffs, bad managing, or the mythical goat curse on the Cubs, they failed to win a postseason series. They had a disappointing 2009 season and presently sit 10.5 games out of first place and 10 games under .500. I think it’s fair to say that Sweet Lou stopped managing a while ago.

I don’t blame him. I would be frustrated too. The Cubs have a very talented roster and have even had some surprises this year with the success of Carlos Silva and the performances by rookies Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin, yet they can’t seem to put the puzzle together. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated, and obviously Piniella is just tired of watching the boys in blue and white go out and stink day after day.

Piniella is going to be 67 years old — he doesn’t need to watch this anymore. Like I said, I don’t think he’s been contributing much this season anyways. Now the real job will be for Hendry to go out and find someone who can shine a light on the Northside of Chicago and give the Cubs at least a shot a winning something.

Piniella to Retire as Cubs Manager [ESPN Chicago]

Giants Fan Heckles Keith Hernandez for Sleeping on the Job

It’s been over two months since Jerry Seinfeld’s good friend Keith Hernandez fell asleep in the broadcast booth during an extra-inning game between the Mets and Giants. Not surprisingly, the fans haven’t forgotten. They also haven’t stopped letting him hear about it. Here’s a video of a Giants fan heckling Keith Hernandez for falling asleep in the broadcast booth, courtesy of Tirico Suave:

It seems the only thing that gets under Hernandez’s skin more than being heckled about this embarrassing moment is a confrontation with Jose Reyes. Props to the heckler for being loud enough to be heard on the TV broadcast. I’m not really sure what Keith means when he says, “I wish I could say something back but we’re on the air.” What can he say? The man fell asleep on the job. He can tell the fan to shove it if it makes him feel better, but at the end of the day when you do something that hilarious, you can expect to be heckled about it for a long, long time.

Rowdy Giants Fan Keeps Keith Hernandez Awake [Tirico Suave]

Who Used Heart Attack? Me. RIP Lou

Yankees longtime PA announcer Bob Sheppard died at the age of 99 last week. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died of a heart attack a few days later. Those deaths were significant and received copious amounts of coverage from the media. Sadly, there was a big death in baseball this past weekend but it received very little coverage.

Beloved Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown died on Friday in Costa Mesa, CA at the age of 70 because of cancer. Brown was 253-233 over his three year managerial career, leading the Indians to a divisional crown and AL pennant in two of his three years. His strong run as Cleveland’s skipper was cut short because of health reasons and the Indians haven’t seen the success they had under Brown since the torch was passed to Jake Taylor.

Under Brown’s leadership, the Indians saw Willie Mays Hayes win the team’s first Rookie of the Year Award since Joe Charboneau was so honored in 1980. Similarly, Brown’s personal work with Rick Vaughn helped Cleveland see its first Cy Young winner since Gaylord Perry in 1972. Lou never received much consideration for the Hall of Fame because of his short career but he was headed for a plaque in Cooperstown.

Lou Brown famously clashed with owner Rachel Phelps who planned to move the Indians to Florida. If Brown’s inspiration didn’t work, Cleveland may have lost its team. Brown also stood up to prima donna Roger Dorn, pushing the All-Star to new levels by demanding his best efforts.

Its too bad that Lou didn’t last longer as a manager — he could have been one of the greats.

RIP Lou. 70 was far too young.

SbB Live
Character actor James Gammon, who got his start in Orlando, dies at 70 [Orlando Sentinel]

Weird Baseball Injuries Continue

Baseball players must be made of paper mache because they keep getting hurt in the strangest of ways. We’ve already seen our share of injuries that occurred as a result of celebrations gone wrong, but now we can add to our growing list of weird sports injuries. For some reason, the common thread is that three of the four strange injuries happened to pitchers. Maybe they’re just soft as we’ve pointed out before.

The first strange injury occurred last week when Russell Branyan hurt his toe. How did it happen? A coffee table landed on it and cut his foot. Or something like that. Thanks to SI Hot Clicks for the heads up on that injury.

The next weird sports injury was probably the most embarrassing. Padres young stud pitcher Mat Latos landed on the 15-day disabled list after straining his side holding back a sneeze. No joke. He says he learned the lesson that he should just let it fly next time. We sure hope he does. Somewhere Sammy Sosa is saying “I told ya.”

[Read more...]

Peralta Hits Inside-The-Park Home Run After Outfielder Crashes Through Wall

Here’s something you don’t see every day. An inside-the-park home run is rare in itself. An inside-the-park-home run that’s made possible after an outfielder crashes through the bullpen door is something I’ve never seen. When Detroit Tigers center fielder Ryan Raburn jumped to try to come down with a Jhonny Peralta fly ball on Sunday afternoon, that’s exactly what happened. Check out the Jhonny Peralta inside-the-park home run video:

According to Tater Tot Tracker, it took Peralta 16.74 seconds to round the bases.  You might ask yourself why I’m pointing that out.  That time is slower than five traditional home run trots last season, when we can assume the hitters were jogging.  In other words, Peralta can thank the bullpen door for his achievement.  Even Nyjer Morgan throwing a fit probably wouldn’t give Jhonny enough time to touch em all.

P.S. – How about the woman squawking in the background of the video?  What’s up with that?

Peralta goes inside-the-park after Raburn falls through fence [Big League Stew]
Video Credit: Twitter user BChuck2

Jim Fregosi Wanted John Kruk to be Fat

I made the argument a few years ago that baseball players are meant to be fat. I wasn’t advocating for players to be out of shape so much as I was defending players who are good but fat; if it works for them, why change? Well I’m pleased to say that Jim Fregosi and I are on the same page regarding fat boys who can ball.

I was watching MLB Tonight on MLB Network Friday night when they showed a clip of Matt Stairs grounding out for the Padres. The analysts mentioned that Stairs had lost weight and got in shape but it still didn’t help him run down the first base line any faster. That comment led to a mini-discussion about how losing weight doesn’t always help players. That’s when former Phillies closer Mitch Williams chimed in with this great anecdote about his former teammate John Kruk and former manager Jim Fregosi:

I’m telling you, there’s certain guys that get in shape and it affects their swing. John Kruk got in great shape one winter and couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Fregosi said ‘You’re getting fat again or you’re not playing.’ That’s exactly what he said to him.

Based on Kruk’s numbers, I’m guessing this incident occurred during the 1990 season. That year, Krukie was hitting .207 after the first 10 games and .241 at the end of the first month. Every other year Kruk was with the Phils he got off to fast starts, so none of those seasons would match. The only issue is Fregosi didn’t become the team’s manager until 1991. So the explanation must lie in one of two areas: either Fregosi was a coach on the staff in 1990 (doubtful), or this incident took place during spring training, giving Kruk time to right the ship for the start of the real season (likely). But with a story that funny, who really cares what the facts are??

Michelle Obama Could Embarrass Barack

First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards before a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays next Tuesday. Given Barack Obama’s history with throwing out the first pitch, this could turn out to be pretty emasculating stuff for the President. Michelle’s first pitch certainly can’t be any worse than Barack’s was at the Washington Nationals game. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the video of the President’s first pitch disaster:

Barack could be opening himself up to a world of harassment if Michelle’s first pitch ends up on target. How fun would that be? Fingers crossed she throws a perfect strike. Who knows, maybe she’ll even step into the throw if she avoids studying any film of her husband.


Michelle Obama coming to Camden Yards [The Baltimore Sun]
Video Credit: YouTube user threefingersof