Sports Outside the Beltway

Arizona Diamondbacks draft paralyzed player

His name is Cory Hahn. From AP-

Bypassing conventional wisdom in the draft, the Diamondbacks used the 1,020th overall pick of the draft on Arizona State’s Cory Hahn, an outfielder who was partially paralyzed during a game in 2011.

“It was a very emotional selection for us to make,” Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said on Saturday. “When (scouting director) Ray Montgomery and his staff came up with the idea and presented it to me, it was a no-brainer.”

Hahn was one of the nation’s top prospects in 2010, when he was California’s Mr. Baseball after leading Mater Dei High School to a state title.

He was drafted in the 26th round by San Diego that year, but likely would have gone much higher had he not announced plans to play at Arizona State.

Hahn’s college career lasted three games.

Playing against New Mexico on Feb. 20, 2011, he suffered a spinal injury after sliding head-first on a steal attempt and colliding with Lobos second baseman Kyle Stiner’s knee.

Hahn was taken off on a stretcher and had surgery later that night, but was paralyzed from the mid-chest down after fracturing his C-5 vertebrae. He’s spent the past two years helping Arizona State’s program as a student coach.

The Diamondbacks waited until the 34th round to pick Hahn because he wore No. 34 at ASU.

“It’s not about us. It’s really about Cory and his family,” Hall said. “I was able to spend time with them right after the injury in his hospital room and he’s a wonderful kid. We want to make this permanent. We don’t want this to just be about the selection and him being a draft pick, but about him working in full-time employment with the Diamondbacks and hopefully we’ll make that come to fruition for he and his family here soon.”

A nice gesture by the Diamondbacks. Picks in the 34th round or later seldom develop into star baseball players, Mike Piazza being a notable exception, so no harm was done.


Seattle Mariners Outfielder Greg Halman stabbed to death at age 24

Reports are still early, but Halman’s brother has been arrested in connection with the murder. A very sad and tragic story. RIP Greg Halman.

Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death in Rotterdam on Monday and his brother has been arrested in connection with the incident, police said.

Halman, 24, was signed as a free agent by Seattle in 2004 and made his major league debut in 2010.

Police were called to a home in the Dutch port city early Monday and found Halman bleeding from a stab wound. The officers were unable to resuscitate the outfielder.


Manager Tony La Russa announces retirement

This news comes less than three days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

Tony La Russa is calling it a career after 16 seasons as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa, 67, only days removed from winning his third World Series title, made the announcement during a Monday morning news conference.

La Russa had hinted at a possible return during the NL championship series against the Brewers, expressing excitement about the Cardinals’ talent in place.

But apparently claiming his second World Series ring with the Cardinals — his 1989 Oakland A’s team also won it — was enough of a capstone.

La Russa’s 2,728 regular-season victories over 33 seasons as a manager rank third on the career list behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).

Mack stayed on at least a decade too long. Illness was the cause of McGraw’s resignation and he would die two years later The Giants last World Series appearance with McGraw came eight years previously.(But the Giants did go to the WS the year after McGraw’s resignation) La Russa chose to get out while on top, and I think he made the right decision.


Florida Marlins put Pitcher Leo Nunez on restricted list

Who is this man? From AP-

Florida Marlins closer Leo Nunez has been playing under an assumed name, and the issue prompted him to return Thursday to his native Dominican Republic, two people familiar with his immigration status said.

Both people said the Marlins have been aware of the issue for several months. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Dominican and team officials haven’t made any public comment on the case.

One of the people said Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo and he’s 29, a year older than listed in the team media guide. The Marlins placed Nunez on Major League Baseball’s restricted list, and he isn’t expected to pitch in the final week of the season.

His agent, Andy Mota, declined to comment. The Marlins traveled Thursday to Milwaukee for their final road series of the season.

Nunez has 36 saves and a 4.06 ERA in 68 games this year. His ERA was 2.59 in late May but is 6.00 since then.

The age of a baseball prospect does matter though one year would seem to be slight. What appears to be the bigger is why Nunez did this deception. Most people will believe he has something to hide, and at this moment in time I have to agree.

Update- Baseball players lying about their age is hardly anything new and something I had totally forgotten about. Other players have weathered this ‘crisis’. Nunez will probably do the same.


Derek Jeter Joins 3,000 Hit Club With Home Run


You probably couldn’t have written a better script for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit than what happened this afternoon in the Bronx:

Derek Jeter became the 28th player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits on Saturday, with a home run in the third inning at Yankee Stadium off the Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price. In doing so, Jeter became the first player in the Yankees’ storied history to reach the hallowed number.

Jeter is the active leader in hits and the first player to collect his 3,000th since Craig Biggio of Houston in 2007. He is also the first to achieve the milestone at Yankee Stadium, old or new, and the fourth youngest player to do it. Only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount joined the club at a younger age than Jeter, who turned 37 on June 26.

Jeter accomplished it all without playing anywhere but shortstop, the most physically demanding position on the field besides catcher. Only three other players, Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken Jr. and Yount, have recorded 3,000 hits while playing most of their careers at shortstop.

Jeter is only the second member of the 3,000 hit club to hit a home run for hit # 3,000. The other player was Wade Boggs, who hit his mark on August 7th, 1999 while playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.


Former Baseball Manager Sparky Anderson dead at 86

He managed both the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers to World Series Championships. He played Major League Baseball for exactly one season, 1959, with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent a long time in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a player and began managing in the minor leagues in Toronto.

I grew up as a kid watching baseball in the 1960′s and 70′s, so I got many memories of Anderson led Reds teams. Though my favorite team was the New York Mets. The Reds and Mets played a NLCS in 1973. After a fight broke out between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, Met fans started throwing garbage on the field. Anderson pulled his team from the field for safety purposes. I didn’t blame him then or now.

Anderson was nicknamed Captain Hook because of his tendency to pull starters quickly while managing the Reds(Wouldn’t you if your best pitcher was a Don Gullet who couldn’t be worked too hard, backed up by Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, and Gary Nolan?) but in his later days he swung to the other extreme. He stuck with his mediocre starters in Detroit. RIP George Anderson.

Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he’d been placed in hospice care.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game’s career hits leader. “He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.”

Anderson’s teams in Cincinnati — featuring Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Rose — won crowns in 1975 and 1976 and rank among the most powerful of all-time. Led by Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell, Anderson won with the Tigers in 1984.


Braves Name Fredi Gonzalez New Manager

As widely rumored, Fredi Gonzalez has been hired to manage the Atlanta Braves, following the retirement of the beloved Bobby Cox.

Cox held a farewell news conference at Turner Field, reminiscing about a career that left him as the fourth winningest manager in baseball history and a likely Hall of Famer. As soon as he was done, the Braves introduced Gonzalez as their new manager, with Cox as his side.

“This is perfect for us on so many levels,” general manager Frank Wren said.

Gonzalez served as the Braves’ third-base coach from 2003-06. He then took over as Florida’s manager, a post he held for 3½ years. He had a record of 276-279 with the Marlins, one of baseball’s lowest-spending teams.

When Cox decided 2010 would be his final year, the Braves immediately thought of Gonzalez as their No. 1 candidate — even though he was managing another team.  “He was on our radar before he was available,” Wren said. “We thought there may come a time when we were going to have to ask the Florida Marlins for permission to talk to their manager. We really thought Fredi was the best candidate for us.”

That became a moot point when Gonzalez was fired by the Marlins on June 23, a month after he benched star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for a lack of hustle — a move that many believed angered owner Jeffrey Loria.

Gonzalez said he never thought his decision would become such a big deal, perhaps costing him his job but drawing praise from around baseball.  “That’s the way I was brought up,” he said. “I know the way the game should be played. If you don’t something, you’re going to lose those 24 other guys. For me, it was just a simple thing to do.”

In early July, Wren took the unemployed Gonzalez to his lake cabin in east Alabama for a daylong interview. A few days later, team president John Schuerholz met with Gonzalez. Finally, in September, the top two Braves officials held one more formal interview with Gonzalez and knew they had the right guy.  The Braves didn’t even bother interviewing anyone else, and Gonzalez turned down the chance to talk with four other teams that need or were considering new managers, most notably the Chicago Cubs. “He’s got a great personality,” Wren said. “Players gravitate toward him. They like playing for him. It’s important that guys like playing for you, because they’ll usually play even better. We’ve seen him over the course of time. Managing at the major league level is different, but we saw what he did at Florida. He ran a good game.”

Gonzalez said he’s not worried about following in Cox’s large footsteps. The Braves’ manager since 1990, he led the team to an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series championship. After missing the playoffs the last four years, Atlanta returned as a wild card this season.

Cox’s last hurrah ended with a four-game loss to the Giants in which every contest was decided by one run.

“Our goal is simple: We want to keep putting flags on that facade up there,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think there’s a person alive that’s going to replace Bobby Cox. We just want to continue the winning tradition and go from there.”

Cox chimed in, saying it’s not going to be that tough for Gonzalez to put him own stamp on the job.  “Walter Alston was replaced by Tommy Lasorda,” Cox said. “Tommy did a great job and they forgot all about Walter Alston. That is what’s going to happen here.”

He recalled the advice he gave Gonzalez when he first took the Florida managing job in 2007.  “You are who you are. You’ve got to be yourself,” Cox repeated. “Fredi’s got the right makeup to be a great manager. He has all the respect around baseball that you can get. I just want to be in the background. There’s always going to be new starts, and Fredi is getting a new start here.”

Gonzalez said he’ll do a few things differently than Cox. Perhaps the most noticeable change will be having the players stretch on the field before batting practice, something his predecessor never asked the Braves to do.

Also, the Braves shook up Cox’s coaching staff just a bit, firing first-base coach Glenn Hubbard and bench coach Chino Cadahia. Carlos Tosca, who was with Gonzalez in Florida, will take over the bench coach duties and hitting coach Terry Pendleton will shift over to Hubbard’s post.  The Braves plan to hire a new hitting coach after struggling at the plate this season.

“There’s not going to be a lot of crazy changes,” Gonzalez said. “The players might not even notice it. But whoever comes in has their own little way of doing things.”

As adamant as I’ve been that my Dallas Cowboys should never have hired Wade Phillips, this struck me as the obvious move as soon as I heard Gonzalez’ name mentioned.  He’s got a working relationship with the organization and a personality as close to Cox’ as you’re likely to find.  Indeed, the Ramirez benching reminds of me Cox stopping a game to pull a young Andruw Jones out of a game for failing to hustle in the outfield.   That worked out pretty well.

I haven’t followed the Braves as closely as I used to in recent years, partly because baseball’s new rules don’t allow TBS to show every game, ruining the continuity of the season for those of us not in the viewing area, and mostly because family obligations make it tough to justify spending the time.  But, while the team has fallen off a bit from the glory days of 15 straight division titles, there’s still a Braves Way of doing things.   And it looks like they’ve decided to continue it.

AJC’s Mark Bradley disagrees, figuring the Braves should have at least interviewed some assistants from clubs that have been hot lately.  And maybe get more into SABREmetrics.  But that only makes sense if you’re making a change at GM.  The manager has to manage people first.   He’s right that the Braves haven’t made it to a World Series in a long time.   But that’s a function of having fallen to the middle of the pack in spending for a number of years.  And, frankly, getting a little long in the tooth.   The team has a lot of young talent again and appears to be back in contention.

AP Photo


Roy Halladay throws second no-hitter in postseason history

The only other took place in 1956. From AP-

Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, leading the Philadelphia Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday.

Don Larsen is the only other pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter. He threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn. The 54th anniversary of Larsen’s gem is this Friday.

“It’s surreal, it really is,” Halladay said. “I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the postseason. To go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”

Halladay took the Year of the Pitcher into the postseason. The excitement spread beyond Citizens Bank Park — the last two outs were shown on the video board at Target Field, where the Twins were preparing to play the Yankees, and Minnesota fans cheered.

The All-Star right-hander, who tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29, dominated the Reds with a sharp fastball and a devastating slow curve in his first playoff start.

The overmatched Reds never came close to a hit. Halladay allowed only runner, walking Jay Bruce on a full count with two outs in the fifth, and struck out eight.

I’m going to say this again. 2010 is not t he year of the pitcher when it comes to baseball history. 1968 wins it hands down. How many hitters hit over .300 this year in the AL? More than one that was the 68 total. Did 1/5th of the games played this year end in a shutout? No. Was either league batting average below .235? No. The thing is, it isn’t even close.

That rant is over.

Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball. It is very remarkable IMHO that there have been just two post season no-hitters. World Series and playoff teams have been no-hit in the regular season, some even during a pennant race.(The 1969 NY Mets were done in by Bob Moose in 1969 for example.)


Chicago Cubs OF Tyler Colvin hospitalized after being hit by broken bat


Chicago Cubs rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin is in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami after being struck by the end of a shattered bat during the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Marlins.

The bat punctured the left side of Colvin’s chest just below the collarbone. He was taken to the trauma center and underwent a battery of tests, a Cubs spokesman said. Colvin had minimal external bleeding.

Colvin was leading off third base when catcher Wellington Castillo doubled to left field. It appeared he never saw the bat coming as he was watching the ball. Colvin continued toward the plate after being struck, scored the run and headed toward the dugout.

Note- My sister-in-law works as a nurse at Jackson Memorial.

Colvin is all right, which is what matters. Someone may use this an argument for pro baseball to switch to aluminum bats since they are used at all amateur levels. On the other hand, there has never been a MLB player seriously injured by a broken bat. I don’t care either way myself.


Balked- Philadelphia beats San Diego 3-2 in 12 innings

The Padres tied the game in the 9th inning. From AP-

(Brian) Lidge was one strike from saving a 2-1 win for Roy Oswalt when he balked with the bases loaded, bringing in Jerry Hairston Jr. with the tying run. Facing Chase Headley, Lidge started his motion and then stopped as he appeared to glance at Hairston at third.

Lidge called his balk “a bizarre thing.”

He said he was moving the ball into his glove to get his grip when the ball hit his glove and started coming out. He looked down while his momentum was taking him forward.

“Basically I had to step off or I would have fallen on my face,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It happened pretty quick. Suffice it say I wasn’t thrilled about that, and probably in a million more windups, something like that wouldn’t happen. Fortunately, we won the game.”

Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, who was with the Phillies the last two seasons, led off the ninth with a single. Hairston pinch ran and was sacrificed to second by David Eckstein. Miguel Tejada grounded out, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked and Lidge hit Ryan Ludwick in the right hand with a pitch to load the bases and bring up Headley, who after the balk grounded out to end the inning.

It was Lidge’s fifth blown save in 22 chances.

Honestly with the bases loaded, two out in the ninth, the only thing the pitcher should be focused on is the batter at the plate. Not the baserunners.


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