Discover more from Here's the Pitch: the IBWAA Newsletter
Two Weeks into January But Lots to Discuss
ALSO: LOOKING BACK ON A YEAR'S WORTH OF HTP WEEKEND CONTRIBUTIONS
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From items published here last weekend:
ON DOM SMITH
As of now, Dom Smith is likely to play the bulk of first base for the Nats, but Joey Menenses will play every day in right field (which he showed he could handle well in Aug. and Sept.) or as DH. Davey Martinez said he wants Menenses in the lineup until he shows he shouldn't be. Same goes for Smith of course.
The shift ban should be boon to Smith, as he had the worst numbers in the league when teams shifted on him. I'm pulling for both, but it would take a miracle to keep the D.C. dumpster-divers out of the cellar this season.
— Andrew Sharp, Here’s The Pitch contributor
ON HALL OF FAME
I’m glad to ‘chime’ in when I see something you’ve written that I might know a tad about. Today’s piece about the managers that might get consideration for Hall induction I have zero issue with.
One other person who certainly should be considered for Hall Induction is Joe West. To list his ‘accomplishments’ to our game would be fruitless in my little note, BUT, please just google him.
My criteria for Hall of Fame consideration is if that person made a difference in the era he performed. Joe certainly made a difference.
He spent more time On The Field then any player or manager (maybe Connie Mack spent more time in a dugout) or any player EVER! He’s umpired more MLB games then anyone EVER. He was the president of the Umpire’s Union. He was on the field for countless historic and notable events, like me, some happenstance, some by design and specific assignment. He was a mentor to countless young umpires and an Umpire Crew Chief for many years.
All that and MORE certainly qualifies him for (a lot) of consideration.
If any umpire ever earned a spot in Cooperstown, it’s certainly Cowboy Joe.
— Al Clark [MLB umpire 1976-2001]
Did you know…
Signing right-hander Johnny Cueto, 37, gives the Miami Marlins a solid 1-2 pitching punch with Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara heading the rotation . . .
The Dodgers will eat $22.5 million of Trevor Bauer’s original contract. Bauer can now sign with any major league team for the $720,000 minimum and play immediately after completing his record-long suspension . . .
For the first time in baseball history, four teams finished with triple digits in wins last year . . .
Only three managers had 100-win seasons in both leagues before Dusty Baker did it in 2022 . . .
Angels ace Shohei Ohtani is the only pitcher to bat twice in the first inning before throwing a pitch . . .
Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, runner-up to teammate Michael Harris II for NL Rookie of the Year, is the pitcher to fan at least 200 (202) and allow less than 100 hits (86) . . .
The 2022 Braves had the most strikeouts by both pitchers (1,554) and hitters (1,498), both franchise records . . .
The Dodgers have led the National League in most runs scored and fewest runs allowed for a record five consecutive seasons.
A short, thoughtful look at baseball’s first two weeks of 2023
By Jeff Kallman
The Trevor Bauer saga ended for now with the Dodgers designating the louse for assignment. It took the Dodgers almost two weeks from the moment his suspension was lifted at time served to decide something they had eons to decide. I could be wrong, but it didn’t take that long for New York to make up its mind and finally build the Second Avenue Subway.
A year-and-a-third earlier, the Nationals faced infielder Starlin Castro’s suspension for violating baseball’s domestic/sexual/child abuse policy. The moment it hit, the Nats said, “He’s outta here when it ends!” The moment it ended, the Nats said, “He’s outta here.” With that kind of decisiveness, the Nats should have run the election for Speaker of the House.
Not so fast, insisted Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. “I have enough trouble keeping my own inmates from running my own asylum,” he said. “Between you, me, and the Mad Hatter, your inmates are the asylum.”
Carlos Correa made a bazillion-dollar round trip to Minnesota by way of San Francisco to New York. Mark it on a map, and the shape would resemble a coat hanger. Some rumors say that’s what his eight years on surgically-repaired ankle resembles—if it doesn’t resemble . . .
a) A pretzel.
b) A ball of rubber bands.
c) A ball of yarn.
d) A tablespoon of garlic powder.
e) George Santos’s resumé.
Mets owner Steve Cohen has thus gone from baseball’s most feared owner—in terms of opening the vault and refusing to close it until his chosen free agents take as many million as they can carry out in their own fanny packs—to baseball’s least likely to tolerate more than a 30-70 chance of the next Mets yearbook being The New England Journal of Medicine.
What Cohen’s still trying to figure out is how his new pitching toy, Justin Verlander, made it 37 years before needing even one Tommy John surgery, 39 years with a third Cy Young Award, and 139 years without losing his marble. Singular.
Giants owner Charles P. Johnson has gone from baseball’s great seeker of stars to baseball’s most likely not to come out after dark, out of fear he might look up and see stars in the night sky. Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has gone from owning the Empire Emeritus to speculation that the Yankee fortune is tied up in . . .
a) Aaron Judge.
b) Coney Island coin-pressing souvenir machines.
d) Resurrecting Knickerbocker beer.
e) Finding Amelia Earhart.
The infield-compromised Red Sox couldn’t convince themselves to keep Xander Bogaerts at shortstop long-term. So they convinced themselves to keep Rafael Devers at third base long-term. Leaving Who’s on first, What’s on second, and—after incumbent Trevor Story underwent Tommy John surgery—We Don’t Give a Darn at shortstop.
The pitching-needy Red Sox convinced almost every pitcher they signed to put off retirement, but no such luck with Luis Tiant. El Tiante’s answer was either “No, thanks,” “You’re nuts,” “Show me your medicals,” or hyena-like laughter through a fat cigar and an answer that can’t be repeated in a family newsletter.
The National League champion Phillies told their team, “Gentlemen, cheesesteaks aren’t enough for this town—we need sliders too.” Hence, they signed free agent shortstop Trea Turner—for eleven years, $300 million, and requirements to slide like Barishnykov across the plate with each run. Each failure will cost him dinner and dancing with Marjorie Taylor Greene—at the Space Laserium Delicatessen.
The World Series champion Astros said, “It ain’t broke, we ain’t calling the repairman, we’re deep enough on the hill, let that old fart Verlander take his Cy Young Award and stuff it.” The wild-card Padres went wild off-season, signing Xander Bogaerts, Matt Carpenter, Seth Lugo, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Currier & Ives. With bonuses for any of them who can pitch in the mud and get away with it.
The tanking Pirates keep telling Bryan Reynolds, “One more trade demand and we’ll send you to Congress.” Reynolds keeps telling the Pirates, “Keep me in this uniform and I’ll sue you for violating the Eighth Amendment.”
Last year’s Tigers hit only six fewer home runs at home than on the road. “Not powerful enough!” the bosses said. They also surrendered 25 fewer home runs at home than on the road. Naturally, the keepers of the cages will lower the walls and shorten the center field distance at Comerica Park. They need only build a pitching staff who can shrink the team ERA to -4.00 while delivering a lineup that can average more than six-tenths of a home run per game.
“It’s so simple a child of five could do it,” Groucho Marx once said. “Now, somebody send for a child of five.”
Jeff Kallman is an IBWAA Life Member who writes Throneberry Fields Forever. He has written for the Society for American Baseball Research, The Hardball Times, Sports-Central, and other publications. He has lived in Las Vegas since 2007, where he plays the guitar and writes music when not writing baseball. He remains a Met fan since the day they were born.
Five Easy Pieces That Warmed an Editor’s Heart
By Dan Schlossberg
Since the weekend editions of Here’s The Pitch invariably include two feature articles, it took a little longer to find five 2022 pieces that most deserved reprinting.
I included a couple of my own because of the unusual subject matter but still hope this quintet will prove entertaining and perhaps even educational:
Here’s to another great year of reading, writing, and editing. Everyone who contributed to the weekend editions of the IBWAA newsletter is greatly appreciated — especially those of you who got their stories in early!
Here’s The Pitch weekend editor Dan Schlossberg is at email@example.com. His website is www.danschlossberg.net.
No wonder the Pittsburgh Pirates lost 100 games last year: they just gave a struggling 43-year-old southpaw their second-best salary (Rich Hill at $8 million for one year) . . .
The Washington Nationals, doormats of the NL East last year, lost a club-record 107 games . . .
The Braves sent both Upton brothers (Justin and B.J.) to the San Diego Padres in swaps less than six months apart . . .
Tom Browning, who pitched an unlikely perfect game for the Reds against the Dodgers in 1988, is the only Wyoming-born player to get a Hall of Fame vote . . .
Confused much? Jeff Samardzija was ruled ineligible for the 2014 All-Star Game because he was selected as a National Leaguer but traded to an American League team July 4, after rosters were revealed . . .
Thanks to Jayson Stark, we know that Max Scherzer’s dog Rafi picked a good time to bite him on the pitching hand: he was already on the IL with an oblique injury . . .
The Phillies have never thrown a regular-season no-hitter in the 19-year history of Citizens Bank Park but hosted two post-season gems there — the entire 21st century total.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [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.