I'm back from my beach house, just in time to take a much-needed rest with a long weekend. Sweet. And the squad has been doing pretty well in my absence. Maybe I should disappear more often. So I shall. Off to San Francisco. So there is that.
Meanwhile, while living the tough life on the golden California shore, I tripped over an entirely new gig for all of us here on HH. Stayed tuned to MondoLinks because in the near future Panther, The Rally Parrot will make his debut, offering his own unique brand of commentary.
- Josh Hamilton: Hamilton is tracking towards a return to the lineup on Monday, in Seattle (Which starts at 1:10 in the afternoon, by the way. Consider yourself advised.). Well, that part is known. What is not known is which horse he hops back on, the 2013 glue factory reject or the 2014 Triple Crown candidate? Any glance at Hamilton's career will see that he has a track record of injuries, and this year's has resulted in his longest visit to the DL ever. That's a tough reset. But Hamilton fears not."You have to confidence when you're playing, man," Hamilton said. "When I got hurt, I was doing well, so why would I think I'd come back and struggle? The good thing about my swing right now is if I have a mishit or something, I can feel what I did wrong. And that's ultimately where you want to be." Hold onto your butts.
- The Other Josh: The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed Josh Wall of the waiver wire from the Halos. You might have blinked and missed it, but Wall showed up on the mound twice for the Angels this year, combining for one inning's worth of work. That must have impressed the Bucs something fierce.
- Catching Albert's Balls: Fan Tom Sherrill, who caught Albert Pujols' 500th home run ball, found himself the center of a lot of attention recently. Sounds like kind of a fun deal, and good for him for not whoring out the whole thing. "The 29-year-old Air Force staff sergeant from Pomona didn’t see any of this coming when the 500th home run ball of Albert Pujols’ career landed in his hands April 22 in Washington, D.C. Sherrill didn’t want any autographs, photographs, game tickets, plane tickets, swag or fame. He was content to give the baseball back to Pujols and go home empty-handed." What amazes me most is that we now know the name of the guy who DIDN'T catch it, Chris Gordon. Now that's some fine investigative journalism, there.
- X-Factor Chat Up: For interested parties, David Eckstein will be the participant this week in MLB's Chatting Cage. Today at 12:30PM
This Date in Baseball History: 1935 - The first ever scheduled MLB night game, to be played in Cincinnati, is rained out.................1965 - Ron Swoboda kicks a batting helmet in frustration after making the final out of the inning, and gets the helmet stuck on his cleats. His manager, Casey Stengel, decides to teach the kid a lesson and makes him take the field with the helmet still stuck to his foot...........1965 - Houston Astros center fielder Jimmy Wynn loses a potential inning-ending fly ball against the skylights of the Astrodome, costing the Astros dearly as the next batter, Jim Ray Hart,smacks a 3-run inside the park homer. The Giants defeat the Astros 5-2. the next day the skylights are all painted over to fix the sight problem. This will prove to be an issue with the grass, and result in the birth the next season of Astroturf...........1993 - Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kauffman is inducted into his own team's Hall of Fame. It will be his final public appearance............1998 - David Wells extends his consecutive out streak to 38...........1999 - Brady Anderson gets hit by pitch twice, in the same inning...........2000 - Rickey Henderson draws his 2000th walk............2002 - Shawn Green hits 4 homers in one game...........2004 - Kaz Matsui belts his 5th leadoff homer of the season............2008 - Doug Davis of the D'backs gives up just 1 run across 7 innings of work in an 11-1 win over the Braves. Why do we care? because Davis was just 6 weeks removed from successful thyroid cancer surgery.............2011 - A.J. Pierzynski nearly gets a well-earned introduction to the U.S Secret Service when he chases a foul ball into the rail at the owner's box, and nearly crashed into former president George W. Bush.
- Why pitching WINS doesn't really matter: (At least, why many people advocate that it shouldn't, much to the dismay of Harold Reynolds). Deadspin goes into the poor fortunes of Cubs' pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who is having a sterling start to his 2014 season and yet is 0-4. I mean, really, we LAA fans would kill for Hector Santiago to have had Samardzija's outings."Great pitchers getting crappy run support is a thing that happens all the time, but still, no pitcher in the history of the game has been boned by his team through his first 10 starts as badly as Samardzija has this year. According to Baseball Reference, Samardzija is one of seven pitchers since 1901 who has posted an ERA plus over 80 while starting at least 10 games and getting no wins. Samardzija's shit luck is on another level, though, because his ERA plus of 266 blows the other pitchers on that list out of the water." And I love this bit, that Samardzija's level of hosing hasn't been seen in baseball for nearly 100 years.
- See? Sucky things happen to the bad guys, as well: Price Fielder, not exactly lighting things on fire since his arrival in Arlington, will probably be lost for the season due to spinal surgery. Pardon me for a moment while I go off by myself and reflect on this loss and what it means to our fellow fans of the Rangers........Psyche!.......Hope all goes well for Fielder. And, while he is already unconscious and on an operating table, might I suggest a lap band or two? Fortunately for those fans, they can always fall back on that incredible depth brought forth by having the finest farm system in baseball. You know, the one that created Jurickson Profar,,,oh,,,uh,,,no. Seems Profar took himself out of the lineup for months, by hurting himself while sleeping............And the rumors are that Texas will seek to fend off their karma with one of our own weapons: Kendrys Morales.
- Speaking of bad guys sucking, here is more good news: Justin Verlander is losing it. "...the big issue for him is fastball command. He has to locate his fastball better...He has to find a new way to succeed with the stuff he has, because he doesn’t have the stuff he used to...The fastball is worse, which affects everything, and while Verlander is probably better than his current peripherals, he finally has to make an adjustment after years of the league trying to make adjustments to him." Keep sliding, Justin, and watch how Kate Upton makes an adjustment in boyfriends...
- On The Fence: I am kind of torn about this issue. We had a kind of a kerfuffle in Detroit yesterday, when plate umpire Tim Timmons tossed Miguel Cabrera, and then his manager Brad Asmus. Tiger-centric folk, and anti-ump-factionistas will easily dump on Timmons. In a way, I can see their point. It seems pretty quick. Especially when you get to impose your own dialog to the verbal exchanges. Miggy: "Gee, Mr Umpire, sir, may I please have some comment from the first base professional umpire of baseball activities?" And it's an easy trope to shout "a good umpire is invisible". And, sure, what does it cost an ump to ask for help? But...on the other hand, the back story here runs deeper. Timmons had just called out Ian Kinsler on a checked swing, and Kinsler didn't like it. That's arguing balls and strikes, folks. And Asmus was yelling from the dugout at length when Cabrera stepped to the plate. You can see for yourself on Cabrera's checked swing (the very next pitch) that Cabrera is calling for first plate assistance almost as a reflex. And Cabrera DID go around. So Cabrera was primed for debate from the get-go. And he immediately turned on Timmons. Now Cabrera is arguing balls and strikes. Things are getting out of hand. Time for the ump to shut it down. In today's world, I can just as easily see using the hook there, because things are trending further and further away from just playing baseball and accepting the judgments. You can see Timmons tell Cabrera at least twice to get back into the box. Cabrera continues to argue and not adhere to the umpire's warning. Boom. Gotta go. Out comes Asmus, who now can continue his arguing from the previous at-bat. Boom. Gotta go. So, yeah, I can see that side too. As I say, I'm kind of torn here.
This "hustle" thing is starting to confuse me. Is it good, or bad? Some players not hustling is bad. For other players hustling is not only bad, but forbidden..........You obviously like baseball. If you also like billiards, you are gonna love The Physics of a Foul Down the Line............Bobblehead awesomeness, me want Jobu!............Lost, now found. An old picture of Lou Gehrig joining some kids in a sandlot game............If you follow this sort of thing, acrimony is heating up between the Cubs and their renovation plans, and the rooftop interlopers............This is cool. It's an Unofficial 2014 MLB player Census............Here is the magic of the knuckleball. Master it and be transformed into a superhero. I wonder if there is still time for me............This could be interesting someday, potentially an All In The Family type of thing...........Troy Tulowitzki sure knows how to troll, baby!...........Our Jerry Dipoto, ranked not so good. 27th out of 30, to be precise.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Friday: The San Diego Jazz Festival runs all weekend at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, as does the California Roots Music Festival in Monterey at the Monterey County Fairgrounds (aw, hell, those guys get my vote just for their web page!!!)...........But even better, also all weekend is the California Festival of Beers at the Madonna Expo Center and Meadows in San Luis Obispo, a beer town if ever there was one.
Saturday: LQ Wine in La Quinta is doing a beer tasting of local brews. Featured will be selections from La Quinta Brewing, Coachella Valley Brewing, and Babe's Brewhouse..........The Cal State University Bakersfield Amphiteater is the setting for a Craft Beer Festival..........Santa Cruz Blues Festival (today and tomorrow, and where Gregg Allman shows up again) at Aptos Village Park. It's also got Chris Isaak...........who will then be found performing at the Cajun & Blues Music Festival in Simi Valley..........and then find himself performing again at the Thornton Jazz Series in Temecula. I hope there is beer at all appearances, even if the Thornton might be a tad hoity-toity.
Sunday: See Festivals, above....
BEER BONUS: How about a tribute brew, aged in Louisville Slugger baseball bats?