Tag: Sports & Society

Reds vs. Nationals: Cincinnati May Benefit from Saturday’s Home Plate Umpire

The Washington Nationals (6-2) have won back-to-back extra-inning home games to open up their four-game National League series against the Cincinnati Reds (3-5), as the two teams will meet again inside Nationals Park on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have certainly taken notice of the Nationals current four-game win streak, sending them out as -115 favorites, while the total of eight is facing downward pressure in the betting market.

Washington is now poised to potentially match the franchise’s best-ever record through nine games with a win in this contest, which would bring back memories of the 1981 Montreal Expos. The club relocated to the D.C. area in 2005.

Edwin Jackson (0-0, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to make his second start in a Nationals uniform, coming off a no-decision effort against the New York Mets on April 9, giving up three runs and four hits over five frames in a 4-3 road defeat.

The right-hander has faced the Reds just once in his career, allowing two runs and eight hits over seven strong innings as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals last year, as he didn’t factor in the decision of a 3-2 home loss.

Sports bettors will find that the Nationals are just 2-7 in their last nine games as a home favorite of -110 to -150.

Cincinnati has scored just three combined runs in dropping the first two games of this series, while the entire lineup is collectively hitting .204 on the season. The Reds were unable to deliver in the clutch last night in going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Playing a day game may spark Saturday’s visitor, with the club winning three of four games under the sun this year, while the “under” is 3-1 in those contests.

Reds starter Homer Bailey (0-1, 6.35 ERA) may not be the right man for the job in making his second start of the 2012 campaign, coming in with a 10-11 career mark and 4.73 ERA in 31 daytime starts.

The 25-year-old right-hander suffered a 7-1 home loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on April 9, serving up three home runs over 5.2 innings, while issuing three walks and striking out five.

Bailey may be the biggest benefactor of having umpire Tim Welke behind the plate, striking out a career-high 10 batters against the Milwaukee Brewers on October 10, 2010, as he didn’t factor in the decision of a 7-4 home win for the Reds.

Weather forecasts suggest partly cloudy skies and game-time temperatures in the mid-70s, with winds out of the southwest at 10-15 mph (out to center).

The “under” is 13-22 in these conditions since the stadium opened in 2008.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Mariners vs. Athletics: 2012 MLB Season Opener from the Tokyo Dome

The Seattle Mariners (0-0) and Oakland Athletics (0-0) will open up the 2012 Major League Baseball season inside the Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:10 a.m. EDT.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the Mariners as -130 favorites in a unique situation, while the total is 7 across the board.

Seattle will receive a majority of wagers in the betting market due to outfielder Ichiro Suzuki playing in his home country, while also possessing an edge on the mound between scheduled starters.

Felix Hernandez is certainly one of the best pitchers in the American League, but comes off a rather pedestrian season in going 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA in 33 starts last year.

The Mariners didn’t supply much run support for the 2010 Cy Young Award winner or for any of their hurlers, finishing last in the majors in scoring 556 runs in 2011.

Hernandez is set to make his fifth Opening Day start and seems poised to lead his team to victory in the opening game of a two-game series.

He has registered an impressive 12-4 record and 2.54 ERA in 21 career starts versus the Athletics, including a perfect 3-0 mark and 1.45 ERA in four starts last year.

Bettors will find that the Mariners are 14-3 in Hernandez’s last 17 starts in this American League West series.

Oakland hopes its 14-5 record during spring training will translate into success during the regular season, especially since the franchise finished with a 74-88 mark and 22.0 games behind the division-winning Texas Rangers a year ago.

The Athletics are hoping that right-hander Brandon McCarthy can build off a solid 2011 campaign, finishing with a 9-9 record and 3.32 ERA in 25 starts.

He registered a disappointing 1-3 mark in four starts against the Mariners a year ago despite allowing just seven runs and 19 hits in 31 2/3 innings (1.99 ERA).

From a betting perspective, I’m going to pass on making a full-game selection in this contest, but will recommend a proposition wager.

I expect the visitor to get on the scoreboard first.

Pick: Seattle Mariners (-160) to score first

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MLB Network Baseball IQ: Arizona’s Josh DeFamio Escapes with Round 2 Win

With a 10-6 advantage over opponent Rich Linville of the Cincinnati Reds, Diamondbacks dbTV supervisor Josh DeFamio barely escaped with a ninth-inning showdown on MLB Network’s Baseball IQ. DeFamio took a huge risk and almost conceded defeat before Linville came up one trivia answer short of earning the come-from-behind victory.

DeFamio had built an early 10-2 lead before Linville won innings seven and eight to truly make it a ballgame.

The ninth-inning trivia question was: “Most HR by player whose primary career position was catcher.”

DeFamio elected to start the bidding process by stating he could name five players on that all-time list. Linville responded with eight, and DeFamio challenged him to produce those eight names.

After naming catchers Johnny Bench (389 HR), Yogi Berra (358), Carlton Fisk (376), Gary Carter (324), Javy Lopez (260), Lance Parrish (324) and Roy Campanella (242), Linville incorrectly named Darren Daulton, whose 137 career HR is 56 short of No. 20 Jason Varitek’s mark of 193.

Mike Piazza ranks No. 1 all-time, hitting 427 HR during his stellar career in which he was a 12-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 1993 NL Rookie of the Year and MVP of the 1996 MLB All-Star Game.

DeFamio’s “narrow” 18-2 victory places him into the quarterfinals, where he will meet Colorado Rockies director of retail operations Aaron Heinrich, after Heinrich defeated the Dodgers‘ Seth Bluman with his own successful comeback campaign.

With DeFamio’s Round 2 victory, the D-Backs have now won $10,000 for the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation charity.

If DeFamio runs the table and wins the tournament, the Diamondbacks stand to take home $45,000 for charity.

New episodes of MLB Network’s Baseball IQ run Tuesday through Thursday at 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. ET.

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Diamondbacks’ Josh DeFamio Victorious in Round 1 of MLB Network’s Baseball IQ

With the 2011 professional baseball season a distant memory and spring training 2012 still a few weeks away, baseball’s around-the-clock television channel known as MLB Network has been angling for a new way to generate offseason ratings.

Enter Baseball IQ, MLB Network’s new series all about baseball trivia.

The concept is simple: 32 participants, including a front-office staffer from all 30 MLB teams, one person from MLB.com and another from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown compete in a tournament bracket through four rounds of MLB historical trivia, all in the name of crowning the most knowledgeable employee in all of baseball and donating a total of $190,000 to various team charities.

To determine which staffer would have the honor of representing each club, all 32 teams launched an internal trivia challenge, with the best performer winning the chance to fly to MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey, to participate in Baseball IQ.

The Diamondbacks sent dbTV Graphics Supervisor Josh DeFamio, who is playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.

A native of Camden, New Jersey who added to his knowledge of East Coast teams upon moving west to attend Arizona State University, DeFamio explains his fascination with baseball statistics: “I’ve always been good at remembering stuff, remembering lists. Categorizing memories. Baseball seemed perfect for that kind of stuff.”

DeFamio worked for the Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and scoreboard manufacturer Daktronics before returning to Arizona prior to the 2008 season, where he has been ever since.

DeFamio won his Round One matchup against Houston Astros ticket sales representative Ben Coburn when Coburn was unable to name nine of the 20 players with the most career stolen bases since 1901.

The final score of DeFamio’s Round One game was Diamondbacks 20, Astros three.

DeFamio next faces off against Cincinnati Reds scoreboard operator Rich Linville, who defeated Pitsburgh Pirates account manager Steve Morse in his first-round matchup.

MLB Network has not yet announced air dates for Round Two.

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Yorvit Torrealba Punches Umpire: Punishment Forecast with Babe Ruth as Our Guide

Though Kill the Umpire was a comedy film from 1950, its themes—one of which is violence towards umpires—are all too real.

On Friday, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba joined an infamous list of players who have punched, struck, spat on or otherwise battered or assaulted umpires during or immediately following a professional baseball game.

Torrealba joins a list of All-Stars and ne’er-do-wells who have committed the cardinal sin of displaying violent conduct against a sports official.

Unfortunately, the list of guilty MLB players and coaches is a lengthy one. From Babe Ruth to Roberto Alomar, Jose Offerman and beyond, many professional baseball players have abhorrently used unjustifiable physical force against an umpire. If the list was expanded to include all sports at all levels, it regrettably might take years to finish reading.

First off, let’s be very clear. What Torrealba did when he struck home plate umpire Dario Rivero Jr. during the eighth inning of the Caribes de Anzoategui vs. Leones del Caracas game is a crime.

Admittedly, Torrealba took just one swipe at the arbiter with an open hand, but in the United States, that would be considered battery and Torrealba would be subject to arrest and prosecution—not to mention the fact that using a fist to strike an umpire’s face mask is slightly less stupid than striking the umpire to begin with.

Speaking of the United States, 21 states currently augment their battery and/or assault laws with enhanced penalties for committing the crime against a sports official engaged in his or her duties.

Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware (second or subsequent offense only), California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho*, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia and the Rangers’ home state of Texas.

However, as professional baseball history indicates, Torrealba will be forgiven for his disgraceful offense.

You may have noticed the words “assault” and “battery” have been paired together above, yet treated as separate offenses. This is because assault and battery often refer to two separate offenses.

As defined by Barron’s Law Dictionary, assault is “an attempt or threat, with unlawful force, to inflict bodily injury upon another, accompanied by the apparent present ability to give effect to the attempt if not prevented.”

An aggravated assault may occur when a dangerous or deadly weapon is used in conjunction with an attempt or threat to unlawfully strike or harm another. 

Barron’s Law Dictionary defines battery as “the unlawful application of force to the person of another.”

In other words, an assault may occur in the absence of physical contact when only a threat or attempt to inflict harm exists, whereas the element of unwanted touching caused by another person must be present for battery to exist.

The following is a brief record of MLB or MiLB players who have assaulted or battered umpires in the past and the lengths of their MLB- or MiLB-imposed suspensions. This list is not all-inclusive.

*Idaho’s assault and battery on sports officials punitive measures derives from Concurrent Resolution No. 32 in March 2011, which states, “local authorities [should] hand out more severe penalties. That would ensure that the fans, especially young children, realize that it is not acceptable to attack an official.”

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Moneyball: Brad Pitt Is Perfect Representation of Billy Beane

Moneyball star actor Brad Pitt does a fantastic job representing Oakland Athletics Billy Beane in both the personal and professional aspects of his life.

Beane is a man obsessed with living up to his predictions, and using statistics and mathematical formulas to determine which players can be successes in Major League Baseball.

Pitt plays this role perfectly, and really gives us a sense of how difficult Beane’s life was as he rose to prominence among the ranks of baseball’s great minds.

Beane’s struggles as a general manager, father, and husband are well played throughout, and the film is as much about losing and dealing with that disappointment than it is about baseball.

Despite the 2002 Oakland Athletics not winning the World Series, and Beane not taking the Boston Red Sox job, one that would have been easier to do than in Oakland, Beane handles the failures with great strength, which Pitt displays beautifully.

Most of us know the story already, but the emotional impact and hardship behind the obvious is the reason to see the movie, and each part is done to perfection.

Pitt shows the struggles of Beane to create a winner with the Athletics, and trying to convince himself, his organization, and his friends that his way is a winning way.

In a movie that accurately portrays Beane as someone who couldn’t make it in the big leagues, that even has an even deeper meaning seen throughout the film.

Via SI.com:

“One of the things I think the story accurately portrays,” Pitt went on, “is how imperfectly we understand ourselves. We are so full of contradictions. Our weaknesses are our strengths and our strength are our weaknesses, and those things are constantly in flux.”

Moneyball is a fantastic film that pays great attention to the small details of Beane and his story, and in the process creates an emotional and exciting film.

Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. .

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Boston Red Sox Flu Spreading as Contagion of Injuries Strikes Again

When the Boston Red Sox began their season losing six straight games and having one of the worst Aprils in their history, it seemed as if it were over.

Fortunately, that losing streak was a hiccup, a minor skin irritation, but now it seems the symptoms have become full blown.

The Sox, to their great resiliency, came back and played far beyond what the opening week suggested. They looked almost like what the stats sheet said they would appear to be.

Alas, the injury bug has hit like Contagion, the new hit movie about a pandemic.

Forget Bird Flu or Swine Flu. We now have caught Red Sox Flu, which is not to be confused with Red Sox fever.

As the new movie Contagion states, nothing spreads like fear, and now, Sox fans, the panic is about to set in.

The injury bug has gone viral.

Don’t talk to other Sox fans. Don’t touch Red Sox memorabilia. You may spread the fear that the Sox are looking at a fight to stay in the Wild Card slot.

The latest bug has bitten Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox medical staff, which borders on malpractice at best, recently returned the third baseman to the lineup, and now his hipbone is detaching from the leg bone.


Another MRI is just what the doctor ordered.

Sox fans may demand that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) be sent to Boston to learn what kind of voodoo has cursed the Red Sox just when they looked ready to win a third title in this decade.

If we look for a common factor in the rampant injuries that have beset the Red Sox, we find only a sad excuse to use as a salve when the crying is over.

Last year, the Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the injury bug, and this year, they may lose the entire team.

Unless there is a Jonas Salk or Louis Pasteur in the Red Sox trainer’s room, we fear the gremlin that attacks the team. If only we had nothing to fear but fear itself, we might feel confident.

Alas, injury bugs often run the course of a season. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Boston Red Sox Wild: Mad Dogs and the Pitching Staff

When you take a trip down memory lane to the heart of Yankee country, you don’t expect the bold and the restless to emerge from the visitors’ dugout.

In three games, that is exactly what happened when the Boston Red Sox came to the House Next to the House that Ruth Built. The Yankees promptly caved in and lost all three games.

Though threats to hit the unpopular Papi railed across the rags of the Big Apple, only CC Sabathia took umbrage at the home runs and assorted doubles to plunk David Ortiz in the final game of the three games New York would like to forget.

Ortiz laughed all the way to first base.

Joe Girardi, looking like a fashion model for AARP’s tough guy/old coot line, swore that Ortiz was courting disaster for showing up bad pitchers for making bad pitches. Alas, the talk seemed only to inspire the Red Sox pitchers.

Not known for their colorful antics, the Red Sox pitchers are still a dangerous group of men who foam at the mouth during tough times and Bronx visits.

Jon Lester nearly sawed off the leg of Red Sox tormentor Mark Teixeira and also gave Russell Martin a blow with a pitch to the body. For those who forgot, Martin had turned down a chance to sign with the Sox in the offseason, preferring the Yankees, and the less said about Teixeira who turned down the Sox offer several years ago to go with the Yankees, the better we feel. Diehard Red Sox fans will never forget the insult Teixeira gave the Boston fans.

In the second game of the series, Tim Wakefield hit Robinson Cano and brushed back several others with his nutty knuckleball.

In the finale of the series on Thursday night, after the rains dampened Yankee spirit to a puddle, Josh Beckett hit, in no particular order, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Beckett apparently believes in only hitting the best. 

Before the Yankee series, John Lackey put the baseball on a couple of batters in the Oakland-Boston game on Sunday. Lackey’s kerplunks were deemed not deliberate by the home plate umpire despite a warning earlier that no beans were to be balled.

Those wild men of the Red Sox staff may be on to something.

Once upon a time, there used to be phrase uttered by Noel Coward that only “mad dogs and Englishmen” went out in the midday sun. It now appears the mad dogs have joined up with Red Sox starters.

And step aside, Mr. Coward, these Red Sox pitchers are willing to plunk you midday or at nighttime.


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Carl Crawford: The New Roman Mejias of the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox had few fans nearly 50 years ago. Fewer admit being fans back in 1963 and 1964. Few fans of today were alive back then. Those seasons were the Dark Ages of Red Sox lore. 

Many have removed the memory of the last time, with great flourish and optimism, the Red Sox brain-trust under Dick O’Connell and owner Tom Yawkey decided to pay big bucks and land one of the premiere players of the National League.

At the time, the newspapers were full of reports about the star of the Houston .45s where he was called “The Home Run King” for his 24 dingers in 1962.

Experts in the Boston media said he was a shoo-in to clobber 30 to 40 home runs over the Green Monster. There were no Monster Seats in those days, only a mesh net and lots of broken windows on Lansdowne Street.

Roman Mejias came to Boston at the same time as another catastrophic star: Dr. Strangeglove, the immortal error-prone slugger named Dick Stuart.  It parallels the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford situation.

Fans expected home runs galore from the two batters. Stuart came through, and Mejias did not.

Most naïve fans believed the new home run machines would equal the firepower of Mantle and Maris over at the starry Yankee Stadium.

Mejias was an outfield phenomenon that used a three-fingered glove and made spectacular basket catches out in the cavernous center field area.

Alas, it was not to be.

Mejias, a nice fellow, could not buy a hit with the Red Sox, and his batting average was not much higher than his weight, below .230 in 111 games during his first season, and it was .238 in 62 games the next year. After the poor start, his bench time increased accordingly.

Roman hit a handful of home runs, 11 in 1963 and only two in 1964. Soon, he was permanently benched, demoralized and devastated by failures in Boston.

The sad statistics can be found at Baseball Reference.com for those with a sense of cruel irony.

Eventually he went to play baseball in Japan in 1966.  The two years in Boston were like having his heart cut out by the high priests of baseball. His two-year tenure with the Red Sox turned into a career killer for benighted Mejias.

How much he resembles Carl Crawford is a matter not yet decided. The abysmal start of the star from Tampa in 2011 is reminiscent of the problems that first beset Roman. Carl’s numbers are far worse as of one month.

After two years, the Mejias experiment was deemed a total failure by fans, press and Red Sox management, but the evidence that he was not the next big star in Boston was clear and apparent by June 1963, only a few months into the season.

That gives Carl Crawford a bit more time before the coroners of Red Sox Nation put the tag on his big toe.

Let’s hope Carl is not bound for the crypt of baseball legend and folklore. 

Sox fans realize it’s a different era today, and $150 million players tend to hang around like a bad penny, and they can remain hitless wonders—and endless reminders of what should have been.

Crawford will be on the Sox roster for many seasons more than Roman Mejias ever played. So, everyone should root and pull for his success.

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Manny Ramirez Makes Alfred E. Neuman Look Like a Rocket Scientist

Mad Magazine should feature Manny Ramirez on their covers. He’s one of the original Boston Red Sox Idiots. And, now we have confirmation he is crazy as a Looney Toon.

Imagine having been banned once for 50 games for using a forbidden substance, and then to use the proverbial putative something again.

Imagine being so stupid that you are caught once more with hormones, steroids or the creeping crud inside you.

The threat of a 100-game suspension and humiliation is a great motivator toward retirement.

The motto of Manny Being Manny rivals only the other imbecile’s mantra: ”What, me worry?”

Don’t worry, Manny. Be happy. Your career is in the garbage dump and your miscue is now beyond rescue. You just flushed 500 home runs down the poop chute.

Some people get ulcers, and others give them. If Manny is ulcerated, it is only along his medulla oblongata.

If using drugs and steroids will fry your brain, Manny may have fricasseed frontal lobes. He is clearly out to lunch.

He’s sniffed too much pine tar resin, raising the count higher than 3 and 2. He makes the other former Red Sox brainiac, Roger Clemens, look like a rocket scientist.

Enablers took him in at the Los Angeles Dodger Disneyworld, and he took them in, though it’s doubtful they realize it.   After all, Los Angeles created Manny-wood, a fantasy home where he could live out his delusions for a few more years.

Manny has always belonged in Mudville, where his slime-riddled career can be appreciated.

Now, the reality show we call life may be intruding too much. There will be no return to Boston, giving fans a chance for their much-needed catharsis on Monday.

If you were to ask Manny about Cooperstown, his legacy or fan respect, he would look at you blankly. These are words that he never can define and are outside the drug user lexicon.

Words in his vocabulary are limited to vanity, and the rest of his meager, but benighted diction belongs in a rather thick-skinned dictionary he and Barry Bonds have compiled.

The first word that neither has comprehended may well be “comeuppance.” Guilty parties often get it sooner or later.

After being hit with a proverbial ton of steroid slime-balls, Manny will slide under the bombardment that would assault the ego of a lesser maroon idiot.

The Mighty Manny has struck out, and we can only say good riddance.

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