Sports Outside the Beltway

Seems like old times- Boston Red Sox beat Tampa 3-1

The Rays are in the midst of their worst losing streak since 2007. From AP-

Dustin Pedroia’s opposite-field power surprised almost everyone, including Boston manager Terry Francona.

The 5-foot-9 Pedroia hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer to right field in the eighth inning and the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 3-1 on Sunday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader, sending the Rays to their 10th straight loss.


Victor Martinez added an RBI single for Boston and blocked the plate on a tag play that prevented Tampa Bay from taking the lead.

I saw the video of Martinez blocking home play on the play in question. He did a great job, but baseball umpires have really let some rules lapse. A baserunner is supposed to not be obstructed from getting to the next base but the rule is read so that if the fielder is attempting to field the ball, the obstruction is legal. That loophole is huge and catchers take advantage of it.

The Red Sox, who lead the AL wild-card race, won for the 10th time in 14 games.

Tampa Bay is on its longest losing streak since dropping 11 straight in 2007.

Tampa won’t be going to the playoffs this year. One of the reasons for their slump-

Tampa Bay DH Pat Burrell is in a 1-for-18 slump.

Memo to Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Madden. Joe, a DH’s only job is to help his team with his hitting. If he stops hitting, get him the hell out of the lineup and put someone else in! Oh you don’t have much of a bench because you feel the need to have 8 relief pitchers. That sounds at least as dumb as using a DH who can’t hit.(Burrell has a .386 Slugging Pct for 2009, which is awful for a DH)


St. Louis Cardinals sign P John Smoltz

He was released by the Boston Red Sox less than two weeks ago. From AP-

John Smoltz agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, giving the 42-year-old former ace a chance to rejuvenate his career in the middle of a pennant race.

Smoltz joined the NL Central leaders shortly after he cleared waivers, following his release by Boston. He was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox.

General manager John Mozeliak said Smoltz likely would start Sunday at San Diego, and probably would get at least a few turns in the rotation. Mozeliak said Smoltz didn’t ask to start as a “negotiating ploy.”

“He had very little demands,” Mozeliak said on a conference call. “He had no demands. From everything he had heard about this club, he was excited to take this opportunity. The reason for the start was just to get him work and know what we have.”

The Cardinals hope Smoltz either can fill a void as the fifth starter or provide right-handed relief in the bullpen.

The Cardinals are six games up in the NL Central, so they can spare a game too in the standings. That said, I don’t understand this move. Why put yourselves at risk with a pitcher who looks finished career wise?


Pittsburgh Pirates trade 1B Adam LaRoche to Boston for two prospects

After falling out of first place in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox took some steps to shore up their roster.

The Red Sox acquired slumping Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche on Wednesday for two midlevel prospects, less than a year after they picked up All-Star outfielder Jason Bay from the Pirates.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity that a team like that wants me,” said LaRoche, who is hitting .109 since July 4.

The Pirates, who have traded five starting position players since last July, will receive Double-A shortstop Argenis Diaz and Class A right-hander Hunter Strickland, an 18th-round draft pick two years ago.

LaRoche is 29-years-old, and may have had his past years already. It can be argued the Pirates knew this and that was the logic behind the trade. IMHO, that is portraying Pittsburgh’s General Manager as far too intelligent and insightful when it comes to judging talent.

Why don’t MLB just declare Pittsburgh a minor league team? Nobody in that organization’s management or ownership appears dedicated to making the franchise even remotely respectable. The Bucs haven’t had a winning season in over a decade.

Old-time baseball fans will recall the Pirates were terrible in the post WW II years also. However it wasn’t for lack of trying. Branch Rickey was GM for some of those years(46-58) and did make an honest effort to overhaul the team. As bad as the Pirates were back then, they went only 9 years without a winning season compared to the 16-year that is going on at present.


Colorado Reliever Alan Embree’s right leg broken by line drive

The injury has to be considered career threatening. From AP-

Colorado Rockies left-hander Alan Embree is out for the season after a line drive fractured his right tibia on Friday night.

Embree will have surgery Saturday.

“There will be some type of compression screw put in there,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Atlanta’s Martin Prado hit a 3-2 fastball from Embree back up the middle in the seventh inning Friday night. The ball ricocheted off Embree’s right shin to third baseman Ian Stewart.

“It sounded awful,” Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said. “I couldn’t even track the ball it was hit so hard. It sounded really bad.”


Embree, who signed as a free agent with the Rockies this past offseason, was 2-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 36 appearances.

Embree is 37-43 lifetime in a career that started in 1992. Other than 4 games he started in 92 for the Cleveland Indians, he’s been exclusively a left handed relief specialist for 10 MLB teams. I have always liked Embree, he was a key part of a winning Star tournament team of mine, but his career looked to be in decline before this injury. If he reestablishes himself as a quality pitcher in 2010, I’ll be greatly surprised.


Red Sox Jonathan Papelbon fined for slow play

I never of this happening to a MLB before today. From AP-

Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has been fined by major league baseball for slow play.

Papelbon said Friday that he was taking too long to make his first pitch upon entering the game from the bullpen. Speaking before the Red Sox opened a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Papelbon said he had been warned about breaking the rule.

The Daily Item in Lynn, Mass., first reported the fine of $1,000. The paper said that Papelbon was the first player fined this season for breaking the rule designed to speed up games.

Papelbon was warned and baseball does have a slow play problem. The fine sounds reasonable to me.


Philadelphia Phillie Lefty Jamie Moyer wins his 250th game

He keeps going at the age of 46. From AP-

Jamie Moyer reached a rare mark for a pitcher, becoming the 44th to win 250 games. The veteran Phillies left-hander would have been just as happy if it was his first.

Moyer went six strong innings to lead the Phillies to their third straight victory, 4-2 over the bumbling Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The 46-year-old Moyer is only the 11th left-hander to join the exclusive 250-win list. And despite his teammates’ postgame champagne toast, Moyer’s words lacked the excitement one might expect after such a rare achievement.

“It’s not about the personal things, I’m more excited about us winning,” Moyer said. “I really haven’t thought about [winning 250]. It takes so much effort to prepare and play. I was taught to play the game as a team, not as an individual. When you play 20-some years, some of these things can happen.”

Moyer has been in the majors for twenty-three seasons and has played for seven different teams. He has owned the Florida Marlins. He is 10-1 against them lifetime.

I doubt Moyer will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after his career is over. Left handers Jim Kaat and Tommy John have more wins and haven’t made it to Cooperstown.


Former Red Sox OF Dom Dimaggio dead at 92

He was the youngest and last surviving of the famous baseball brothers. Dom wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but ‘The Little Professor was a very good player. He was a gold glove quality(The awards didn’t begin after Dom retired) centerfielder, better than his more famous brother Joe. As for his offensive skills, Dom was no slouch. He was a career .298 hitter who also had an on base percentage of .383. Perfect skills for a top of the order hitter.

Like so many players of his era, Dom Dimaggio lost some of his prime years due to World War military service. His career may have ended prematurely too. The Red Sox benched the aging but still productive(.294 BA, .371 OBP in 1952) Dimaggio in 1953 so a youth movement could be started. Tom Umphlett never panned out(In spite of his .283 BA and 2nd place finish in the rookie of the year balloting for 1953, the Red Sox traded Umphlett before the 1954 season began.) and Dimaggio decided to retire.

Arguably the Dimaggios were the best brother trio to ever play the game. Now they’re reunited in heaven. RIP Dom.

Dominic DiMaggio, the bespectacled Boston Red Sox center fielder who was overshadowed by his older brother Joe’s Hall of Fame career, died early Friday at his Massachusetts home. He was 92.

DiMaggio was surrounded by his family at his death, according to his wife, Emily. She did not give a cause of death but said that DiMaggio had been ill lately.

“He was the most wonderful, warm, loving man,” his wife of 61 years said. “He adored his children, and we all adored him.”

DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star who still holds the record for the longest consecutive-game hitting streak in Boston Red Sox history.

Known as the “Little Professor” because of his eyeglasses and 5-foot-9, 168-pound frame, DiMaggio hit safely in 34 consecutive games in 1949. The streak was broken on Aug. 9 when his big brother caught a sinking liner in the eighth inning of a 6-3 Red Sox win over the Yankees.

The younger DiMaggio also had a 27-game hitting streak in 1951, which still ranks as the fifth-longest in Red Sox history. Joe set the major league record with a 56-game hitting streak with the Yankees in 1941.

The oldest of the three center field-playing DiMaggio brothers was Vince, who had a 10-year major league career with five National League teams. Joe died in March 1999; Vince died in October 1986.


Arizona Diamondbacks fire Manager Bob Melvin

He is the first to get fired in 2009. From AP-

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on Thursday, hoping a new manager will be able to get the most out of their talented core of young players.

The Diamondbacks will make A.J. Hinch, their vice president for player development, Melvin’s replacement on Friday, according to a person familiar with the move who requested anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

The 34-year-old Hinch is a former major league catcher with no professional managerial experience. His promotion was first reported by radio station KTAR.

[+] EnlargeBob Melvin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireBob Melvin has been fired by the Diamondbacks.

The 47-year-old Melvin’s firing comes after a disappointing start by the Diamondbacks, who entered Thursday 8½ games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. Melvin, who went 337-340 in four-plus seasons, had one year left on a contract he received after being the 2007 NL Manager of the Year.


“This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice,” general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement.

Hitting coach Rick Schu also was fired, and pitching coach Bryan Price resigned.

Melvin’s stock rose when he guided a youthful but talented group to the NL West title two years ago. He was dismissed because many of the same players have failed to live up to expectations based on that season, when the Diamondbacks posted an NL-best 90-72 record despite being outscored by 20 runs across the season.


This is the second time in their 12-year history that the Diamondbacks have changed managers in midseason. In 2004, the Diamondbacks fired Bob Brenly after a 29-50 start and replaced him with Al Pedrique on their way to a franchise-worst 51-111 record.

That disaster paved the way to Melvin’s return to Arizona, where he had served as Brenly’s bench coach on the 2001 World Series champions.

Melvin’s hiring as the Diamondbacks’ manager came under bizarre circumstances. The club had selected Wally Backman as manager, but Backman was dismissed four days later following revelations he had been arrested twice and struggled with financial problems.

Arizona then turned to Melvin, who was out after two seasons in Seattle, where he went 156-168.

Melvin made an immediate impact in the desert. He led the 2005 Diamondbacks to a 77-85 record, a 26-win improvement.

Two years later, the Diamondbacks made a surprise run to the NL West title despite scoring 20 fewer runs than they allowed — a fact that led many to praise Melvin’s ability to squeeze the most out of his lineup.

Melvin was honored as the 2007 NL Manager of the Year, and soon after the club extended his contract through 2010.

How much of Arizona’s slow start if Melvin and his coaching staff’s fault is debatable. The team hasn’t been hitting, but on the other hand the Dodgers started great this year and Diamondback staff ace Brandon Webb is on the disabled list. To me the blame for the 12-17(I had to look it up. Associated Press didn’t report it in the above article) start Arizona had this year is more complicated than whether the team had or hadn’t good direction from their manager and coaches. As usual in sports the manager or head coach is the fall guy deservingly or not. Melvin, who was a journeyman catcher and coach before becoming a big league manager, won’t be unemployed for long.

Do note that Arizona hasn’t named Melvin’s replacement yet. Will they name for his coaching staff to the job or look elsewhere? I am betting the former.


Carl Crawford swipes six bases in one game

The Tampa Bay Ray tied a modern MLB record. From AP-

Carl Crawford tied a modern major league record with six stolen bases to help Tampa Bay beat Boston 5-3 on Sunday for its first series win in nearly a month.

Crawford was 4-for-4 with an RBI and became the fourth player to swipe six bases in a game, joining Eddie Collins, Otis Nixon, and Eric Young.


The speedy Crawford’s second infield single of the day drove in an insurance run in the eighth, then stole second for the fifth time, bringing the crowd of 32,332 to its feet. The last player to steal six bases in a game was Young for Colorado on June 30, 1996.

Rays fans are probably hoping Crawford’s record game provides a spark to the team. The defending American League champs are 11-15 for the year so far.


Former NY Yankee pitcher Tom Sturdivant dead at 78

He won 59 games in a career that spanned 10 years. He won 36 games in a Yankee uniform, notching 16 victories in both 1956 and 57. He pitched in three World Series alsoRIP


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