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Milwaukee’s pitching situation is so bad that the Brewers brought retread Julio Teheran out of the minors to join their injury-riddled rotation. Teheran, 32, steps into a starting five without lefties Eric Lauer Wade Miley and right-hander Brandon Woodruff on the injured list. Beyond that trio, depth options like Aaron Ashby and Jason Alexander are also on the 60-day IL, leaving the Brewers with a current rotation of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser and Colin Rea.
Umpire Dan Bellino concedes he and his colleagues should use demonstrative hand signals to let fans, media, and players know their interpretation of the new rules instantly. He also says fans are spending less time on their cellphones since games are moving quickly with less dead time between pitches . . .
Speaking of signals, Negro Leagues pioneer Rube Foster once used pipe-smoking skills to deliver base-running signs to players . . .
And how about Jack (Waddy) Wadsworth, a pitcher with a 6-38 lifetime record but a proven skill for ventriloquism — the ability not only to imitate another person’s voice but to “throw his voice” so that it sounded like another players was insulting the umpire . . .
Among those ejected because of Waddy’s skills was Roger Connor, baseball’s home run king before Babe Ruth. “Hank,” he allegedly said to umpire Hank O’Day, “you’re a lot of things I’d hate to be.” Actually, the guilty party was Wadsworth . . .
In this short-but-crazy season, the Mets got 17 hits and 17 walks in the same game — the first time a team did that since 1949 . . .
Before the Pirates won two 14-3 games in the same series, no team had won a pair of 14-3 games in the same season . .
Just when it looked like Fernando Tatis, Jr. would become the game’s next superstar, he missed a year-and-a-half after a motorcycle crash, broken wrist, and 80-day PED suspension kept him out of the San Diego lineup — and cost him his shortstop job . . .
A sudden hail storm stopped the game between the Sacramento Rivercats and Reno Aces last Sunday in the top of the seventh inning. It could not be resumed.
Detroit Tigers: A Quarterly Review
By Joe Underhill
We have passed the quarter mark for the 2023 baseball season, and this seems a good time to take stock of the Detroit Tigers.
At the time of this writing, the Tigers are sitting with a record of 22-25 for a winning percentage of 46.8% and are on pace to win 75 games this season.
That is a vast improvement from where they started the season (2-9), when they looked like they might push the ’03 Tigers for the worst team in franchise history.
At the beginning of the year, the Tigers alternated struggling either with the bat (only three runs scored against Tampa) or on the mound (giving up eight or more runs in four of their first ten games).
However, things seemed to turn around for the Tigers following the benching of Javier Baez during a game against Toronto when he forgot how many out there were in the inning. The Tigers not only won that game but went on a five-game winning streak and have been playing close to .500 since.
After a cold start to the season, prized youngsters Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson have rounded into the form more closely resembling what the Tigers believed Greene and Torkelson could have.
In March/April, Greene slashed .234/.293/.327 with an sOPS* of 72. In May, Greene is slashing .373/.434/.587 with an sOPS of 179 and is now tied for the team lead in home runs. Torkelson started the year slashing .206/.266/.309 with an sOPS of 59.
In May, he is up to .269/.337/.436 for an sOPS of 112.
Both players are hitting the ball hard, 44% for Greene and 48.6% for Torkelson, and the expected results for putting the ball in play are starting to come though.
Going into the 2022 season, the Tigers spent big on Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez. Both had terrible 2022 seasons (albeit for different reasons).
This year, however, Rodriguez has been the pitcher the Tigers believed they were signing, spanning 10 starts and 61.2 innings. He has a 4-4 record with a 2.19 ERA, a WHIP of .957 and an ERA+ of 195.
Baez, like the rest of the Tigers offense, started the year slowly, but has rebounded and is now slashing .243/.294/.335 and leads the team in RBIs with 23. In addition, all 11 of his home runs have come in the month of May.
The biggest surprise for the 2023 Tigers has been the play of their bullpen.
Coming into the year, the Tigers had a lot of young players vying for roles in the pen. It appeared the Tigers had weakened their relief corps with the trades of Gregory Soto and Jose Jimenez and the free-agent loss of Andrew Chafin.
Two of the biggest storylines have been the emergence of Alex Lange as a high- leverage and de facto closer and the growth Rule 5 pick Mason Englert.
Lange is pitching to a 1.27 ERA, .938 WHIP, and 9 saves. Englert has pitched in some big-leverage situations and there have been some bumps along the road including being a bit homer prone.
Overall, the Tigers have shown they are a team that will compete from start to finish and while they still have their issues, they are rounding into a team that is fun to watch and will surprise some really good teams.
*OPS for a split relative to league’s Split OPS.
Joe Underhill is a high school administrator and diehard baseball fan and fan of the city of Detroit. Joe currently writes for www.tigstown.com. You can follow Joe on Twitter@TransplantedDet or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Labor Leader John Montgomery Ward Earned His Niche in the Baseball Hall of Fame
By Dan Schlossberg
A Renaissance man who became a ballplayer, John Montgomery Ward was Marvin Miller before Marvin Miller.
A Penn State product who broke into the National League with the Providence Grays in 1878, he posted remarkable numbers one year later: a 47-19 record, 239 strikeouts, and a 2.15 earned run average. He later pitched a perfect game and an 18-inning shutout.
But the right-handed pitcher hurt his arm — probably from overuse — and turned himself into an outfielder who batted left-handed. As the starting center-fielder for the 1885 New York Giants, he became the only major-leaguer to win more than 100 games as a pitcher and collect more than 2,000 hits (yes, Shohei Ohtani should join him eventually).
Ward, who also stole 540 bases and knocked in almost 1,000 runs, spoke five languages, earned a law degree, and soon started using his legal expertise to sue the Giants for selling his contract to Washington for $12,000 — a record at the time — without paying him a penny to accept the transfer.
Fed up with both his team and prevailing league rules that included a salary cap, Ward and like-minded colleagues founded the Players League, an eight-team circuit that offered profit-sharing, three-year contracts, and no reserve clause. Three of every four National Leaguers signed up.
Ward not only played for and managed the Brooklyn franchise but hit .335 with 63 stolen bases, led PL shortstops in assists, and spent whatever spare time he had handling scheduling, media relations, and league matters — often in concert with fellow player-lawyer James (Orator) O’Rourke, who had a law degree from Yale.
It was O’Rourke, a catcher and outfielder, who had teamed with Ward to form the first union, the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, in 1885. Among other things, it objected to the common practice of teams using players to clean seats and toilets, charging them to launder uniforms, and making family members pay for tickets.
Never mind the miniscule meal money and cut-rate road hotels that sometimes had players sharing beds.
Arthur Soden, owner of the Boston Red Stockings, even charged players $100 to cover his alleged losses on a world baseball tour.
Although the infant league drew well in 1890, the only year it operated, a combination the Supreme Court and collusion by club owners led by sporting goods czar Al Spalding, who also owned the Chicago White Stockings, killed it.
The establishment prevailed, with the National League expanding to 12 clubs, absorbing four from the rival American Association, and the owners punishing labor leaders, breaking multi-year contracts, and greatly reducing player salaries that had been meager anyway. Pitcher Tim Keefe, who once won 19 games in a row, revealed he’d been branded a “robber” for seeking a salary of $2,100.
Even the establishment of the new American League in 1901 didn’t help. It soon joined the NL in tightening the reserve clause, clamping down on dissent, and restricting union activities.
As for Ward, he devoted full time to his law practice after his 17-year career ended. Players being sued by owners were among his first clients.
After those same owners stopped Ward’s bid to become president of the National League, he joined one of its teams — the Boston Braves — as president and part-owner. Not surprisingly, he was one of the early boosters of the upstart Federal League and became business manager of the Brooklyn Tip-Tops.
Ward wasn’t elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame until 1964, two years before Marvin Miller was hired as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Miller succeeded where Ward failed, removing the hated reserve clause in 1975, 88 years after Ward had called it “wage slavery.” But he too had a long road to Cooperstown.
Rejected seven straight times by various derivations of the Veterans Committee, Miller finally made it posthumously. His 2021 election came 39 years after he retired and nine years after he died.
But John Montgomery Ward would have approved: following in the footsteps of the 19th century star, Miller won the first collecting bargaining agreement in pro sports history and also led the first strike by major-league players.
Salaries and benefits improved dramatically during his tenure, although it took nine work stoppages (one of them a 232-day strike) to achieve his goals.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ edits weekend editions of Here’s The Pitch, writes 10 columns a month for forbes.com, and authors many books and articles about baseball, which he has covered since 1969. His e.mail is email@example.com.
Entering play last Sunday:
Part of the “Yankees By the Numbers” exhibit in the Yankee Stadium ballpark museum hasn’t changed since 2017, with Lou Gehrig at 2,130 hits, Joe DiMaggio with his 56-game hitting streak, and Mickey Mantle the last Yankee to win a Triple Crown ..
Although the first World Series trophy was given in 1967, the Yankees didn’t win one until 1977 . . .
Toronto’s intrepid Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. is the only man in major-league history to homer at least 10 times in each of three different “home” parks in the same season: Sahlen Field in Buffalo, the Rogers Center in Toronto, and TD Ballpark in Dunedin, FL, all in 2021 . . .
Dom DiMaggio failed to hit .300 lifetime because sacrifice flies, which don’t count as at-bats today, were ruled outs from 1940-53, charging the hitter with a time at-bat
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Benjamin Chase [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.
In the 1949 game that was last one before this year in which a team got 17 hits and 17 walks, the Yankees were issued 11 of those walks in one inning, which remains a record (9/11/1949).