Baseball artist James Fiorentino opens new four-room exhibit of watercolor paintings
ALSO: Yankees Need LeMahieu's Bat In Their Lineup
Did you know…
Rowdy Tellez is the only player since 1913 to hit seven doubles in his first seven major league games . . .
When San Diego’s David Dahl and Ha-seong Kim hit back-to-back home runs in the home ninth inning for a 5-4 win against Arizona earlier this week, it marked the first time in baseball history any team walked off its opponent with consecutive home runs by the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup . . .
Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez loves the pitch clock, saying he thinks the new addition could add "two more years" to his career . . .
Carlos Carrasco of the Mets isn’t such a fan, however, after he was slapped with a violation before he even threw his first pitch of the season . . .
The Mets may have cancelled their daytime opener prematurely yesterday, as the projected horrendous weather forecast never materialized.
Celebrated Baseball Artist James Fiorentino To Open Large Exhibit in Central Jersey May 5
By Dan Schlossberg
If James Fiorentino isn’t the greatest living baseball artist on the planet, he’s pretty darn close.
Readers of this column can see for themselves when he opens a four-room show at the Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery in Bernardsville, NJ on May 5, the day before Willie Mays and I share a birthday.
The show, which runs through July 8, will feature Fiorentino’s new ELITE original artwork and some of a project he named “There Is Only One — The Most Iconic Trading Cards of All Time.”
It will also have Fiorentino’s nature and wildlife paintings that have come back from museum shows over the past year.
Special VIP guests, including former athletes, will be there for the opening, which will also have giveaways plus food and drink.
After its run in Bernardsville, the show will proceed to the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown and stay there through Aug. 22.
Named “An Elite View of Sports and Nature” by the 45-year-old Fiorentino, it includes 22 x 30-inch original paintings signed by both the athlete and the artist. No athlete is depicted more than once and each painting is marked “1 of 1.”
Fiorentino, once a star shortstop at Drew University, is a former child prodigy whose Reggie Jackson painting was displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame when he was only 15. That made him the youngest artist to have his work exhibited there.
In 1998, he was also the youngest artist inducted in the New York Society of Illustrators, a prestigious group whose members also include Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth.
Fiorentino’s baseball subjects have ranged from Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio to Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken, Jr. He has even painted trading cards for Topps, Upper Deck, and Kelloggs.
“It has been an honor for me to paint these tremendous athletes and have them personally sign my artwork,” he said. “I hope my collectors enjoy these Elite paintings as much as I did painting them.”
Fiorentino used his self-taught watercolor expressionist style to paint athletes from other sports, presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, wildlife, and landscapes. He works from a studio in his Hunterdon County, NJ home.
His upcoming show will begin with an Artist’s Reception from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 5.
Studio 7 is located at 5 Morristown Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924 (Tel. 908-963-0365, www.studio7artgallery.com).
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ will include Fiorentino artwork in his upcoming Hank Aaron tribute book, to be published next spring on the 50th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record. Dan is currently promoting this year’s book, Baseball’s Memorable Misses: an Unabashed Look at the Game’s Craziest Zeroes. Dan’s email is email@example.com.
DJ LeMahieu Gives Yankees Versatility, Defense, And Solid Bat
By Eric Katz
Despite the Yankees making the postseason the past two seasons, DJ LeMahieu hasn’t participated.
He hasn’t played for the Yankees in a postseason game since the pandemic shortened 2020 season.
That is because he sustained injuries at the most crucial times in 2021 and 2022. The way the Yankees lineup is structured, New York needs a healthy LeMahieu to have success.
For the Yankees to get back to the World Series, LeMahieu must be healthy for the postseason.
Entering Year Three of a six-year, $90 million deal he signed in 2021, the Yankees need him to be healthy. He hasn’t played in the postseason for the past two years and the Yankees offense has suffered.
In 2021, the Yankees were eliminated by the Red Sox in the Wild Card round by a score of 6-2. They managed just six hits and only scored one run in both the sixth and ninth innings.
The Yankees clearly missed his bat this past postseason. New York was swept in the ALCS by the Astros and managed to score a total of nine runs.
Despite being hampered all season due to various injuries, LeMahieu didn’t have a bad season. The two-time batting champion finished the season with a .734 OPS in 125 games played and became the first utility player to win a Gold Glove.
However, he had a second half to forget. Prior to landing on the injured list, LeMahieu had gone 10 for 78 with no extra-base hits. That was due in part to a nagging toe injury. While he would briefly come off the IL, that injury caused him to not be on the Yankees postseason roster for either the ALDS and ALCS.
One of the most important things LeMahieu brings to the Yankees lineup is the ability to make contact. He owns a career batting average of .297 alone with a contact rate of 87.1%. He rarely strikes out very much as he only has a strikeout rate of 14.5%.
For comparison, the rest of the Yankees lineup has a strikeout rate of 23%. Given the high strikeout rates of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and more, the Yankees will depend on him to soften the blows. He also brings the ability to get on base.
LeMahieu owns a career OBP of .566. He also can provide some power at the plate as well — unlike fellow contact hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
LeMahieu has had a productive spring. In 32 at-bats, he hit .375 with a homer, three RBI, and had an OPS of .912. He was also able to play in the field without any limitations from the toe injury he suffered last season. This is a welcoming sight for the Yankees and their fans that pre-injury LeMahieu had returned.
Having a healthy LeMahieu makes the Yankees instant favorites to win the World Series. He has the ability to set the lineup up for success.
Instead of being a home run-or-nothing offense, LeMahieu’s presence provides another way to generate runs. Now that DJ LeMahieu is fully healthy, that makes the Yankees offense much more dangerous.
The writer’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The defending NL Cy Young Award winner remains a beacon in the fog for the Fish:
Adam Wainwright can’t bat anymore but he just turned out another hit:
Manny Machado was batting in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday and had a full count with nobody on and two outs. He tried to call for a timeout with eight seconds left on the pitch clock. Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa instead called the Padres star for a pitch-clock violation. The penalty was an automatic strike, which caused Machado to strike out.
Thanks to HTP contributor Andrew Sharp for the following:
Minnie Minoso's '63 season in Washington and his 38 plate appearances with the White Sox in 1964 dropped his lifetime batting average to .299 (.29867). His token appearances with Chicago in 1976 (1-for 8) at age 52 and 1980 (0-for-2) at age 56, made him a five-decade player, but pulled him down to .298 (.2983).
Had he known then that his stats with the Negro National League's New York Cubans would become part of a player's MLB career totals, he might have reconsidered those publicity stunts. Without those 10 at-bats but with the Negro League stats, Minoso's lifetime average would have been rounded up to an even .300 (.2996), instead of .299.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] 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.
DJ LeMahieu's OBP (on-base percentage) is .356, not .566, which would be unbelievable.