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Glavine Release Is About Tommy Hanson, Not Money, Tom

I’ve never really been a fan of the Atlanta Braves front office. It all started with John Schuerholz’s book which was nothing but an ego-feeding, self-promotional response to Moneyball which glorified Billy Beane. Then you had Frank Wren say he saw Andruw Jones’ decline coming, only a year after Jones belted over 40 homers for the second straight year. But that’s the same team that offered Jones big money, just not as much as the Dodgers did, so you know their back-slapping was out of luck, not brains. Then I was pissed they low-balled John Smoltz to the point he had to go to Boston and instead went out and threw all kinds of money at Kenshin Kawakami. Their latest blunder was to release Tom Glavine who had just thrown back-to-back shutouts in his rehab from shoulder and elbow surgery. That pissed Glavine off something awful and even Schuerholz apologized for Atlanta’s actions:

“I want to offer an apology to Tommy,” Schuerholz said. “We made our decision, but the environment and the tone and the manner at the end of it didn’t feel comfortable to me. I tossed and turned pretty much all night long really, after we finished our meeting with Tommy, thinking about here’s this guy who has meant so much to our franchise, to the game of baseball, Hall of Famer, represented our city in grand fashion, and the meeting ended in a way that didn’t make me feel good. I felt like I owed Tommy an apology on behalf of our organization and from me.”

This is the second time Schuerholz has slapped Glavine in the face; the first time prompted Glavine to leave Atlanta to sign with the intra-divisional rival Mets. So while I have no doubts that the Braves and Schuerholz didn’t take some glee in sticking it to Glavine yet again, I have to say that I believe the move was more about embracing the future than saving money, as Glavine claims. True, Glavine would have made a few million being on the roster for 30 days, but the team is much better off adding Tommy Hanson to the rotation from Triple-A. Hanson had a 1.49 ERA in the minors, 90 strikeouts in just over 66 innings and he’s one of the top pitching prospects in the game. I’m not saying he’s ever going to win a Cy Young Award the way Glavine has or that he’ll ever come close to touching Glavine’s 305 career wins, but I do know that Hanson will do much more for the Braves than Glavine will over the next five seasons. I side with the Braves on this one — the move is much more about Hanson than it is Glavine. He needs to get over it and move on to a new team or retire.

Alex Rios Apologizes for Platinum Sombrero-Inspired YouTube Fan Tirade

Ladies and gentleman, the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally came. Yes that’s right, we had our first platinum sombrero of the season. As Gilbert and I were discussing in the comments, Alex Rios of the Blue Jays took an 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against the Angels on Thursday, earning the rare and coveted Platinum Sombrero, the second of his career in fact. Rios is a talented player who has what I’ve called the best-looking right handed swing in baseball (J.D. Drew wins my award for a lefty). But Rios has had his low points. Thursday would count as one of them, and I wish his story ended on the field. Unfortunately it didn’t. As documented by this video at Deadspin, some jerkoff fans heckled Rios who was coming out of a charity event, riding him about going 0-fer and getting upset when he didn’t sign an autograph. The video has plenty of F-bombs and profanity and seemed to be a setup by the fans:

What bothers me is that Rios is the one who later apologized (due to pressure from the club I’m sure, only because the video wound up online). But for anyone who watches the video I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the fans who should be issuing the apology. Just because they’re fans who support the team and because Rios is a public figure who makes millions doesn’t mean he’s not a person. That doesn’t give you the right to harass him outside the stadium when he’s on personal time. That doesn’t give them the right to make some mean-spirited remarks. They’re the jerks who should be apologizing for an embarrassing performance.

Also, as the Platinum Sombrero moniker has picked up steam all throughout the internet as a result of Rios’ tirade, let it be known that LBS has been up on this for the longest. Also, LBS is the only site that will also point out that Mike Cameron achieved the Golden Sombrero that very same day, his coming against the Marlins. You just can’t buy that type of coverage anywhere else!

Ken Macha Still Has Strong Ties to Moneyball Style

The Brewers have played well this year, leading the NL Central with a 30-21 record despite starting out the season slowly. They don’t have C.C. Sabathia or Ben Sheets, but they have a new manager in Ken Macha who has a pretty strong idea about how to run the team. Some of the former A’s manager’s principles include not running nor sacrifice bunting, and that’s brought on questions from the press:

[Macha] analyzed some statistics and came up with a few tidbits that support why he doesn’t let players steal more bases, and why he doesn’t sacrifice bunt as much.

Going into play Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays were stealing bases at a success rate of 87% (82 steals in 94 attempts).

Macha and droves of other statistic gurus believe a team has to have a 75% success rate for steals to have a positive impact on an offense, but as Macha happily pointed out, the Rays were two games under .500.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve read Moneyball — the book about the Oakland A’s. Macha maintains that his feelings on stealing bases and dropping bunts (he added that a team’s percentage of scoring is higher with a runner on first base and nobody out than with a man on second and one out) have also been referenced in Ted Williams’ book and essays by Branch Rickey. That may be the case, but I’m guessing all these notions were well-cemented into his consciousness by the A’s organization. Oakland may have altered its philosophy but it still sounds like some of the tenets of Moneyball are alive and well in Milwaukee. I’ve always felt that teams should play a style based on their abilities, and it seems like Macha’s way of thinking is working out with the Brewers.

(via Ben Maller)

Yankees Suck T-Shirts Not Allowed at The Ballpark in Arlington

I feel pretty strongly when it comes to being a fan that one should support his/her team to the fullest and not downgrade the opponent. Dressing up in ridiculous garb, painting your face, and cheering for your team is extreme but in the positive sense. Threatening an opponent with death is taking things way too far. Wearing a “Yankees Suck” shirt expresses a negative sentiment but is more harmless. Anyway, a fan at the park for one of the Rangers/Yankees games last week in Arlington encountered some controversy because she wore a Yankees Suck shirt to the game.

Once inside the ballpark’s Diamond Club for a pregame dinner, [fan Kristen] Knapp-Webb was informed that the anti-Yankees message on her shirt was a violation of the Rangers’ code of conduct for fans. At the least, she had to turn it inside out.

In fact, the Rangers organization imposes a dozen rules of conduct on fans who attend games in Arlington.

Rule 11 states: “Any person wearing clothing with language, graphics or revealing parts of their body that may be offensive to another guest may be denied entry into the stadium or ejected from the stadium without refund.”

The Rangers instituted this rule based on previous complaints by fans. The Red Sox, Mariners, and Orioles have all outlawed the Yankees Suck shirts so by no means are the Rangers in the minority. Now normally I believe this sort of negative sentiment is against the spirit of proper fandom, but when it comes to the Yankees, I think an exception has to be made. Does it get more American than rooting against the Yankees (or for them for that matter)?

(via Circling the Bases)

Texas Pitcher Austin Wood Throws 12 1/3 No-Hit Innings Against Boston College

Texas beat Boston College 3-2 in the longest game in NCAA history, 25 innings. The game began on Saturday evening at 7:02pm EDT and didn’t finish until around 2am EDT on Sunday morning. There were three seventh inning stretches for the more than 7,000 fans on hand at the Austin Regional. When it was all said and done, Travis Tucker singled in his 12th at-bat of the game to drive in Connor Rowe for the game-winning run. The most impressive story of the night (and morning) came from Texas reliever Austin Woods:

Wood, who threw 169 pitches, came on in relief with a runner on second in the seventh inning. He pitched the next 121/3 innings before he gave up his first hit, a single in the bottom of the 19th.

He struck out 14, walked four batters and gave up two hits in 13 innings. Making Wood’s performance even more impressive was that the game was on the line in every inning. And all of this came after he pitched two innings Friday in a 3-1 victory over Army.

Talk about a freaking rubber arm, my goodness. Apparently this type of duty isn’t too new for Wood who has pitched in 34 of Texas’ 57 games, and thrown twice on the same day three different times. Still, 13 total innings in one appearance, not to mention going 12 1/3 without allowing a hit? That’s pretty darn impressive, I don’t care what level it is. I recommend you check out the boxscore for the game — it’s not too often you see how a 25-inning game looks on paper.

Charlie Manuel Wants Fans to Toughen Up on the Phillies

It’s like some sort of Twilight Zone in Philly. Philly fans have carved out a reputation as some of the least-forgiving in the country, being notoriously known for booing Santa Claus. But with the Phillies pulling in a World Series title last year, the fans have much less about which they should be bitter. Much less. And apparently that is becoming a problem for manager Charlie Manuel who’s unhappy with the team’s 9-14 home record:

“I notice sometimes if fans are near our dugout and talking to our players, they always want to talk about last year, and that’s good; I want them to keep coming to the games,” Manuel said. “But I want the fans to start telling them they want to win this year, too. Of course they love us and everything, but maybe they should get on them a little bit.”

This reminds me all too much of the Rachel Phelps line from Major League: “Maybe the problem is we’re coddling these guys too much, yeah.” It’s like Manuel’s living in some sort of alternate universe here dealing with Philly fans actually being happy. Now I’m not sure if it’s the fans who are responsible for the effect, but the Phils could just be falling victim to the trend of complacency that inflicts championship teams; it’s really hard to repeat as champions because players don’t always work as hard the following year once they’ve reached the top. You could point to the team’s excellent road record to negate that argument, which I guess would come back to Manuel’s comments. Who knows, maybe there is something to what he’s saying.

(via Sports by Brooks)

Rick Sutcliffe: A-Rod and Teixeira Stealing Signs and Helping Each Other?

One of the allegations against Alex Rodriguez to come out in the paparazzi-style book about him was that he would tip pitches to opponents late in games in hopes that they would return the favor. This was said to occur only in blowouts as a way to boost statistics. Well it appears as if A-Rod’s tipping ways are still in effect, just now he’s doing it to help his teammates. In a rare instance where a color analyst actually provided some excellent insight into a game, ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe may have picked up on something quite interesting during the Rangers/Yankees Wednesday night game.

Sutcliffe claims that in the first inning Alex Rodriguez used a verbal sign to indicate pitch location for Mark Teixeira while A-Rod was in the on-deck circle. Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia gave his pitcher the sign early and set up inside before his pitcher began his windup. According to Sutcliffe, that gave A-Rod plenty of time to whistle to Teixeira, indicating that the catcher was setting up inside. Teixeira wound up turning on the pitch and launching it above the bleachers in left field, a pretty brilliant blast to be sure. When they got into the dugout after each player’s at-bat, the two sluggers appeared to flash the “O.K.” sign at each other as a way of saying “nice job, that worked perfectly.”

Now if you want to say that they weren’t setting each other up with help, you would argue that they were flashing the O.K. sign as a way to signify that the pitcher threw him a circle changeup (the circle changeup is held with an O.K. sign as a grip). Believe me, Tex didn’t bash a changeup so I’m not buying that one. Sutcliffe showed a whistling sound when they replayed the highlight and he was dead certain that A-Rod and Tex were in cahoots. If that’s the case, is that crossing the line or them just taking advantage of circumstance? I know opposing teams frown upon stealing signs like that, but it seems to me like Tex and A-Rod are doing a good job helping each other out. It also really would support the assertions in the book too. Besides, I have to admit, I’ve had third base coaches tip pitches or location to me using verbal cues when I played, so I won’t say this is playing dirty. I’m not sure how other teams will see it other than to say they’ll be more careful next time if they’re smart. Check out video of the Teixeira 2-run home run below:

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