By now, we’ve all seen the horrific footage of Toronto Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Happ getting hit in the head with a line drive during last Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Happ suffered a fractured skull, but he has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
As with any line drive to the mound, Happ’s injury has reignited the debate over whether or not pitchers should be wearing protective headgear while on the mound. Quite frankly, I don’t see why either the MLBPA or owners are debating the issue. MLB has long had a rule requiring hitters to wear helmets in the batter’s box to protect against beanballs to the temple, and the risk of such injuries to the pitcher is actually even greater.
Pitchers are just as close to the hitter as hitters are to the pitchers.
Sir Alex Ferguson has indicated that there has been a change in transfer strategy in the last 12 months at Old Trafford. In the past, he has bemoaned the lack of value in the market. In an apparent about-turn, he now says that his comments were referring to younger players where there was not proof of the quality required for Manchester United. We have all seen the dramatic effect had on the team by the addition of Robin Van Persie last year and it seems that this has not been lost on the Manchester United hierarchy.
Sir Alex has told MUTV, the in-house television station, that he seriously expects to make at least one major signing and another maybe not so large one. Of course, the rumour mill sends out all the usual culprits; Falcao, Bale, Ronaldo etcetera, but there is substance to some of those rumours and I have already written about serious consideration given to the attempts to sign either Bale or Ronaldo.
We’re almost a month into the 2013 MLB season, but it’s never too early to make award predictions. With that said, here are my top three candidates to win NL MVP.
Buster Posey C-SF
Posey is the reigning NL MVP. And since he’s healthy, he earns an automatic entry to this party. Posey is the heart of the Giants’ lineup, and should be primed for another great offensive year. With three guys that can get on base hitting in front of him (Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Pablo Sandoval), Posey will have plenty of RBI opportunities as long as they stay healthy. And if Hunter Pence can provide quality support hitting behind Posey, Buster should see more driveable pitches.
Projected season line: .320/ 23 hr/ 105rbi/ 80runs/ 2 SB
Justin Upton OF-ATL
Among many problems in the Chicago Cubs’ rough start, the closer situation has been one of the most obvious. Carlos Marmol allowed at least one earned run in each of his first three appearances before losing the job, and newcomer Kyuji Fujikawa got injured almost immediately upon taking Marmol’s place.
Now, with the Cubs still scrambling for a solution, the Chicago Tribune reports that Marmol is likely back in the mix. Manager Dale Sveum is going with the dreaded “committee” approach, and his pool of candidates includes the mercurial righthander.
Although it’s understandable that Sveum wants to keep his options open during Fujikawa’s injury, the worst thing Chicago can do with Marmol is keep yo-yoing him in and out of the closer’s spot. It won’t help him, and it won’t help the team.
As he is wont to do from time to time, Pete Rose found his way back into the news last week in a wide-ranging interview with the good people at Grantland. While Rose touched on a number of topics, the one comment in particular that got me thinking was his assertion that one of the main reasons baseball has seen a proliferation of home runs is because we have made the ballparks smaller than they were doing his playing days.
Rose is hardly the first old-timer to make this assertion, as it is a particularly common sentiment among baseball players of his generation. However, I have to wonder if it is one of those things that is accepted as truth only because it gets repeated over and over again, as I have yet to see a definitive study that demonstrates that this is the case.
So to examine this idea, I ran a comparison of the dimensions of all 30 of today’s ballparks against the 24 that existed in 1973. I chose 1973 for three primary reasons.