Sports Outside the Beltway

Pitcher Stephen Strasburg likely to have Tommy John surgery

He was 5-3 with a 2.91 Earned run average before getting injured. From AP-

Stephen Strasburg has a torn elbow ligament and will likely have Tommy John surgery, bringing the pitcher’s promising rookie season to an abrupt end.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday an MRI on the right elbow revealed a “significant tear.” Strasburg will travel to the West Coast for a second opinion, but Rizzo anticipates the 22-year-old right-hander will need the operation that requires 12 to 18 months of rehabilitation.

“As you can imagine, he was initially upset,” Rizzo said. “But he has really turned himself from being upset to being focused on his rehabilitation. He’s determined to get the surgery done and begin the process of rehabilitation.”

Strasburg was pulled from Saturday’s game at Philadelphia when he grimaced while grabbing and shaking his wrist after throwing a changeup to Dominic Brown. The Nationals initially called the injury a strained flexor tendon in the forearm, but an MRI taken Sunday raised enough questions for the Nationals to order a more extensive MRI in which dye is injected into the arm.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in a sensational major league debut in June. He is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings with the Nationals, who have kept him on strict pitch counts and had planned to shut him down once he reached about 105 innings.

Pitchers have recovered from Tommy John surgery and gone on to have a good MLB career but many more have had their careers ended. This doesn’t look good for either Strasberg or the Nationals.

I look like a prophet too. After Strasburg’s first MLB start, I commented-

I expect Strasburg to come up with a lame arm by the time he is 25.

He’s 21 and his arm isn’t mature.

Washington is a terrible club and seeking solutions and will overuse Strasburg

Strasburg’s first outing was excellent, so the club is not likely to turn back to a more patient course with this pitcher.

Baseball history has a long list of pitchers who came out gangbusters Dwight Gooden, Steve Busby, Wally Bunker, Mark Fidryich, and more but faded rapidly usually due to arm woes. If I recall correctly, Bill James said the only HOF pitcher to have impact as a rookie was Tom Seaver.

Well I was off by three years on when Strasburg would have his arm fall off. Earl Weaver said the best place for a young pitcher is long relief.


Lou Piniella Abruptly Retires After 46 Years In Baseball

In a somewhat surprising move, Cubs Manager Lou Piniella announced he will be retiring today rather than waiting until the end of the season:

Lou Piniella will step down as manager of the Cubs after Sunday’s game against the Braves due to family reasons, the team announced.

“This was the right thing for him to do,” general manager Jim Hendry said Sunday morning. “He didn’t want to go out before the end of the year, but it came to this point.”

Piniella’s mother has been in poor health, and he has left the team twice to tend to her at their Tampa home.

“I didn’t think my career would end this way,” Piniella told reporters Sunday. “But my mom needs me home, she hasn’t gotten any better. Rather than continue to go home and come back — it’s not fair to the team, it’s not fair to the players — the best thing to do is to step down and go home.”

Mike Quade has been named interim manager for the rest of the season, beginning with Monday’s game at Washington. Hendry said Quade will be a candidate for the managerial opening in 2011, but that bench coach Alan Trammell would not.

“Mike Quade will be a candidate for the job, another reason he’s sitting in the chair the rest of the season,” Hendry said. “I basically told Alan he would not be considered.”
In a statement, Piniella said: “When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to spend more valuable time with my family. That time has unfortunately gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected. As many know, the several weeks since that announcement was made have been very difficult on a family level, requiring two leaves of absence from the club. While I fully intended to manage this club the rest of the season, a family situation at home now requires my full attention.

“As I said last month, I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to be their manager. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world and I consider this the ultimate way to end my managerial career.”

Piniella and Braves manager Bobby Cox hugged at home plate as they exchanged lineup cards before Piniella’s final game. Cox is retiring after the season.

Piniella then waved his cap to the Wrigley Field crowd and teared up. It was an emotional moment for the series finale.

Piniella has been a part of baseball for 46 years, including 20 years as a player for the Orioles, Indians, Royals, and New York Yankees and then followed that up with a 24 year managerial career with the Yankees Reds (winning the 1990 World Series), Mariners, Devil Rays, and Cubs. He was the AL Manger of the Year twice, in 1995, and 2001, and the NL Manager of the Year in 2008. And, he remained well liked throughout those years. Even after he left the Yankees the fans would always cheer the familiar “Lou !” when he took the field as the opposing manager.

Piniella was one of the good guys, and he’ll be missed. I’m betting we’ll be seeing him in Cooperstown someday soon.


Giants’ Legend Bobby Thomson Dies At 86

Another baseball great, and a man responsible for one of the most memorable moments in baseball, died today at the age of 86:

Bobby Thomson, who hit “the shot heard round the world” — an epic home run for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, to climax baseball’s most memorable pennant drive — died Monday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 86.

His death was announced by his daughter Megan Thomson Armstrong, who said je he had been in failing health and had recently had a fall.

Memorably described in a play-by-play call by the Giants radio announcer Russ Hodges, Thomson’s homer endures as perhaps the most dramatic play in baseball history, a stirring conclusion to the Giants’ late-summer comeback known as “the miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” and a moment that has since resonated in popular culture.

“I can remember feeling as if time was just frozen,” Thomson once said. “It was a delirious, delicious moment.”

It was the bottom of the ninth inning in the third game of a three-game playoff. The Giants were down by two runs and the count was no balls and one strike. Branca, who had just come into the game, delivered a high fastball to Thomson, perhaps a bit inside. In the radio broadcast booth, Hodges watched the baseball fly off Thomson’s bat.

“There’s a long drive … it’s gonna be … I believe — the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

“Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant, and they’re going crazy, they’re going crazy …

“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I do not believe it!”

Thomson’s three-run homer propelled the Giants to a 5-4 victory, he and Branca became bonded as baseball’s ultimate hero and goat, and the moment became enshrined in American culture. In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Thomson’s drive, and Don DeLillo used the baseball he hit as a relic of memory in the acclaimed 1997 novel “Underworld.”

Here’s the video of that legendary home run:

Another great one is gone.

Bill Jempty Update- Here’s another video. At the 0:38 point of the video a young woman is seen clapping. That is my mother. RIP Bobby.


Bucky Showalter named new Manager of the Baltimore Orioles

He replaces Interim Manager Juan Samuel. From ESPN-

Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, his latest rebuilding project in a major league career full of them.

Showalter’s first game will be Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.

Baltimore had the worst record in the majors at 31-70 going into Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals and is headed toward its 13th straight losing season. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on June 4 and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel.

“Buck Showalter’s proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a statement. “We believe Buck’s extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future.”

Samuel will return to his job as the team’s third-base coach. Baltimore went 16-31 with him in charge.

While I’ve always liked Showalter since his days as Skipper of the Fort Lauderdale Yankees, it will take a lot more than a good manager to reverse Baltimore’s fortunes.


Stephen Strasburg scratched from start due to inflamed shoulder

He has struck out 75 batters in 54 plus innings since being put in the Washington National rotation last May. From ESPN-

Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with inflammation in his pitching shoulder after being scratched from his scheduled start for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night because he had problems warming up his prized and powerful right arm.Stephen Strasburg

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg had “stiffness and discomfort” in his right shoulder, but an MRI and X-ray show no structural damage.

“Given a couple days’ rest and anti-inflammatories, he should be better,” Rizzo said.

The Nationals did not make Strasburg available for comment, saying he went for tests immediately after he encountered trouble. He was supposed to start Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves; instead, Miguel Batista was summoned on short notice and earned the win with five shutout innings in Washington’s 3-0 victory.

Rizzo said Strasburg is day to day and he’s not certain when the righty will pitch next.

“We’re still not sure where he’s at,” the GM said.

Earlier, Rizzo said Strasburg did not have “shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow.”

In nine starts for Washington, Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 1/3 innings. He has won his past three starts.

After Strasburg’s first MLB start, I commented-

I expect Strasburg to come up with a lame arm by the time he is 25.

He’s 21 and his arm isn’t mature.

Washington is a terrible club and seeking solutions and will overuse Strasburg

Strasburg’s first outing was excellent, so the club is not likely to turn back to a more patient course with this pitcher.

Baseball history has a long list of pitchers who came out gangbusters Dwight Gooden, Steve Busby, Wally Bunker, Mark Fidryich, and more but faded rapidly usually due to arm woes. If I recall correctly, Bill James said the only HOF pitcher to have impact as a rookie was Tom Seaver.

I stick by what I said. Earl Weaver said the best place for a young pitcher is long relief.


Tampa Bay Ray Matt Garza no-hits Detroit

It was the first in franchise history. From AP-

The Tampa Bay Rays finally wound up on the right side of a memorable pitching performance.Garza

Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in franchise history and the fifth in the major leagues this season, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0 Monday night.

“We needed one. I don’t care who it came from. We just needed one for our own confidence,” Garza said, mindful that the Rays have been held hitless four times in their 13-season history — three times in the past year. “The guys are just as excited as I am. It’s fun.”

The 26-year-old right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in his 106th career start, allowing only a second-inning walk to Brennan Boesch, for a team that’s often been on the wrong end of pitching gems lately.

Two of the no-hitters tossed against the Rays since July 2009 were perfect games. They didn’t manage a hit Monday off starter Max Scherzer until Matt Joyce’s sixth-inning grand slam.

There has been a high amount of no-hitters this year, but not unheard of. Contrary to what the AP writer of the article thinks, this is not the year of the pitcher. That belongs to 1968 when one fifth of the games played that year were shutouts and only one AL batter(Carl Yaztremski) batted over .300. The AL league batting average was .230. 2010 only matches up to 1968 in one thing, no-hitters thrown(5).


Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

Steinbrenner_w_trophyOn the morning of the All-Star Game baseball fans woke up to the news that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had died in Florida:

George Steinbrenner, who bought a declining Yankees team in 1973, promised to stay out of its daily affairs and then, in an often tumultuous reign, placed his formidable stamp on 7 World Series championship teams, 11 pennant winners and a sporting world powerhouse valued at perhaps $1.6 billion, died Tuesday morning. He was 80 and lived in Tampa, Fla.

“He was an incredible and charitable man,” the family said in a statement.

“He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.”

Steinbrenner’s death came nine months after the Yankees won their first World Series title since 2000, clinching their six-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at his new Yankee Stadium.

Steinbrenner had been in failing health for the past several years and had rarely appeared in public. He attended the opening game at the new stadium in April 2009, sitting in his suite with his wife, Joan. When he was introduced and received an ovation, his shoulders shook and he cried.

He next appeared at the Yankees’ new home for the first two games of the World Series, then made his final appearance at the 2010 home opener, when Manager Joe Girardi and shortstop Derek Jeter, the team captain, came to his suite to present him with his 2009 World Series championship ring.


Steinbrenner was the central figure in a syndicate that bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million. When he arrived in New York on Jan. 3, 1973, he said he would not “be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” Having made his money as head of the Cleveland-based American Shipbuilding Company, he declared, “I’ll stick to building ships.”

But four months later, Michael Burke, who had been running the Yankees for CBS and had stayed on to help manage the franchise, departed after clashing with Steinbrenner. John McMullen, a minority owner in the syndicate, soon remarked that “nothing is as limited as being a limited partner of George’s.”

Steinbrenner emerged as one of the most powerful, influential and, in the eyes of many, notorious executives in sports. He was the senior club owner in baseball at his death, the man known as the Boss.

A pioneer of modern sports ownership, Steinbrenner started the wave of high spending for playing talent when free agency arrived in the mid-1970s, and he continued to spend freely through the Yankees’ revival in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the long stretch without a pennant and then renewed triumphs under Torre and General Manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees’ approximately $210 million payroll in 2009 dwarfed all others in baseball, and the team paid out millions in baseball’s luxury tax and revenue-sharing with small-market teams.

In the frenetic ’70s and ’80s, when general managers, field managers and pitching coaches were sent spinning through Steinbrenner’s revolving personnel door (Billy Martin had five stints as manager), the franchise became known as the Bronx Zoo. In December 2002, Steinbrenner’s enterprise had grown so rich that the president of the Boston Red Sox, Larry Lucchino, frustrated over losing the pitcher Jose Contreras to the Yankees, called them the “evil empire.”

But Steinbrenner and the Yankees thrived through all the arguments, all the turmoil, all the bombast. Having been without a pennant since 1964 when Steinbrenner bought them, enduring sagging attendance while the upstart Mets thrived, the Yankees once again became America’s marquee sporting franchise.

Love him or hate him, and there were plenty of times over the last thirty-seven years when even Yankees fans hated him, there’s no denying that Steinbrenner was unlike any other baseball owner before him. He took a team that had floundered under CBS’s ownership for the better part of a decade — the Yankees had not appeared in a World Series since 1965, and had not won since 1962 — and turned it into a powerhouse. His $ 100 million investment is worth today an estimated $ 1.6 billion and doing better than ever.

Coming only a few days after the death of legendary Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Shepard, this death will be felt deeply in the Yankee family and I’m sure we’ll see some kind of tribute when the team returns to the stadium that George built on July 16th.


Oakland blasts Angels, Scott Kazmir, 15-1

Kazmir has a 6.92 this season. Ouch. From AP-

The Oakland Athletics have had few nights like this in a first half of the season where scoring runs consistently has been difficult.

Few pitchers have ever had the kind of night Scott Kazmir endured for the Los Angeles Angels.

Rajai Davis capped Oakland’s biggest inning of the season with a grand slam and the Athletics handed Kazmir the worst pounding ever for an Angels pitcher in a 15-1 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Kazmir (7-9) allowed eight runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth, capped by back-to-back homers by Coco Crisp and Daric Barton.

“Today is a tough one to swallow,” Kazmir said. “I can’t have too much confidence after a game like this.”

The 13 runs are the most allowed by an Angels pitcher, topping the 11 Scott Schoeneweis gave up against Baltimore on May 23, 2001. It was the most in the majors since St. Louis’ Jason Marquis allowed 13 to the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006.

I wonder why Angels Manager Mike Sciossia left Kazmir out there so long. Was the team’s bullpen overworked and in need of a rest? Most ML teams carry a 12-man pitching staff today and other than overwork I wouldn’t know why a manager wouldn’t throw his worst pitcher(A mop up man out there) to finish up. That was the practice of ML managers when staffs were only 9 or 10 pitchers in size. A pitcher who gets hit that hard is likely to feel less confident about himself, and with Kazmir already struggling before last night, that has be considered a certainty.


Arizona Diamondbacks fire Manager A.J. Hinch

He is the fourth manager to get the axe this MLB season. From AP-

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes on Thursday night in a shakeup at the top of a team cemented in last place in the NL West for the second year in a row.

Diamondbacks bench coach and ex-major league slugger Kirk Gibson will take over as interim manager for a ballclub that was 31-48, 15 games back of San Diego.

Team president Derrick Hall called the dismissals “a first and major step in the re-evaluation of our team.”

This franchise has enjoyed tremendous success over the years and we want to get back to our winning ways. The loyal staff of this organization, as well as all of our fans, hopes for and deserves better results on the field.
” — Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick

The 35-year-old Hinch was promoted May 7, 2009. Despite having no managerial experience at any level, he was moved from the front office to manager following the firing of Bob Melvin. Hinch has two years remaining on his contract after this season.

Hinch is the fourth manager to lose his job this season. Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez, Baltimore’s Dave Trembley and Kansas City’s Trey Hillman have also been fired.

Byrnes, once considered a rising star among young baseball executives, has a whopping 5� years left on a deal that runs through 2015.

Former major league pitcher Jerry DiPoto, vice president for player development, will take over the GM duties on an interim basis.

Arizona has stumbled badly since having the best record record in the NL for the 2007 season. The hiring of Hinch, who reminded me of former Florida Marlins manager, was a mistake but his replacement Kirk Gibson isn’t going to change the Diamondbacks fortunes for at least a year if not longer.


Arizona Diamondback P Edwin Jackson throws a no-hitter

Jackson pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays as recently as two years ago. From AP-

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Edwin Jackson had a chance to finish the ugliest of the no-hitters in this the Year of the Pitcher, and nothing was going to stop of him.APTOPIX Diamondbacks Rays Baseball

Not Arizona manager A.J. Hinch. Certainly not the Tampa Bay Rays.

Barreling ahead despite a soaring pitch count, Jackson tossed the fourth no-hitter of the season Friday night, beating his former team 1-0 despite walking eight, hitting a batter and watching another reach base on an error.

It took an astounding 149 pitches — most in the majors in five years — to complete the second no-hitter in Arizona history.

“We talked every inning after about the sixth because I was checking on him. It’s such a complicated situation with the game in the balance and him chasing a no-hitter,” Hinch said.

“He kept saying he was fine and, `I’m not coming out, I’m not coming out, I’m not coming out.’ As the momentum built and the situation grew, it was pretty evident he had an extra gear. It’s something to celebrate.”

All but one of Jackson’s walks came in the first three innings, but the Rays still were no-hit for the third time in less than a year, including perfect games by Dallas Braden at Oakland on May 9 and Mark Buehrle at Chicago last July 23.

Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit Atlanta on April 17 and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29. Detroit’s Armando Galarraga lost his perfect game with two outs in the ninth on a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.

Jackson’s no-hitter was only the 2nd in Diamondback history and was the first ever thrown at Tropicana Field.

Three no-hitters in a year is hardly unprecedented. In 1969, six no-hitters were thrown. I don’t know if that is a record, it is just the only year with more than five that I could come up with glancing quickly.


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