Saturday Notebook: Win Petitions, A Steroid User in the Hall of Fame, NPB HR Record and More

Wladimir Balentien is approaching a home run record in the Japanese NPB. The only issue is that the record belongs to Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh. Will NPB pitchers allow a foreign-born player to break the record? - USA TODAY Sports

Today's Saturday Notebook looks at an attempt to ban the win statistic for pitchers, Eric Byrnes hinting that a steroid user is already in the Hall of Fame, Wladimir Balentien's attempt at breaking the NPB home run record and if pitchers will finally allow a foreign-born player to do so, and more.

PROTIP #1: Don't mishear your 3rd base coach.

PROTIP #2: Don't slide into home plate with shorts on.

After taking a week off thanks to an open house for my new job, I returned to my men's league softball team this Tuesday. Playing in the mosquito and gnat-infested fields of Big Willow Park in Minnetonka, I was standing on first base when a teammate ripped a double into the gap. I rounded second and headed to third and picked up my third base coach.

He stood there and said "Go! Go! Go!" so I naturally took a big turn and headed home.

However, about two steps after touching third, I heard the sound of ball meeting glove. A couple more steps and the catcher was suddenly setting up to catch the relay from the shortstop, and that's when I forgot I was wearing shorts and slid into the catcher.

Now, I felt I actually got my foot underneath the tag, despite the throw easily beating me, but I didn't put up a fight with the umpire as a felt a searing pain in my left shin. I actually did a decent pop-up slide and immediately looked at my leg and saw a 6-inch gash on the left side.

The third base coach was pleading his case to my teammates that he told me to stay, but I argued back that he said, "Go!" That's when he replied that he was yelling, "Hold!"

Well damn, choose a word that doesn't sound like "Go" then... or give me some hand signals or something.

If you remember a few years back, Denard Span collided with Orlando Hudson while chasing a little pop-up into shallow center field. Afterwards, Span said he was running so fast that he couldn't hear Hudson. I thought this explanation sounded a bit ridiculous because I couldn't understand how one could run so hard that it was impossible to hear your surroundings. At least, I didn't understand until I had my incident where I couldn't decipher what my teammate was telling me as I rounded third.

I won't go into the details too much because my shin is almost NSFW (I say "almost" because I actually had it on full display Friday at work) but I now have a gray and red scab on my leg that has made both students and co-workers shudder in disgust. Plus, my calf muscle feels like it's in a constant state of flexing, making it difficult to walk without a limp. All from being unable to hear a man enunciate the letters "h" and "d."

Being one of the less-talented players on the field, hustle is a calling card I've had since I was in high school, but perhaps I should take the words of my former varsity coach a little more to heart. Presenting a quote from him after I was speared by a 4-ft. tall outfield fence chasing a batting practice fly ball:

"Bryz, this is practice! You don't need to give 100%!"

  • Despite not showing it so much in my Twinkie Town posts, I am a fan of sabermetrics and am constantly frustrated by the Twins' glacial approach to embracing them. Thus, I found it hilarious that there is a White House petition to ban the win statistic for pitchers in baseball, even though it definitely won't amount to anything. As if the absurdity wasn't enough evidence, I can say the last part of that previous sentence because the petition has already been taken down for violation of the Terms of Participation. Meanwhile, a petition to stop Caucasians from being bred out of existence lives on, but that's a debate for another blog. Back to the win statistic, I agree that it's lost a bunch of it's usefulness lately as we continue to see pitchers with good run support rack up the wins (Max Scherzer) while Felix Hernandez toils in Seattle. There's also Erik Bedard, who vultured a win against the Twins earlier this week when he blew a save in the 9th by allowing a home run to Ryan Doumit, only to be the benefactor when the Astros walked off in the bottom of the inning. Creating a petition is a bit to the extreme side - albeit still amusing - but count me among the many that would like to see the pitcher win de-emphasized.
  • Former major leaguer and now current broadcaster Eric Byrnes wrote a blog post about steroids, looking at its rise in baseball and his opinions of it from when he was playing. One thing to point out is that during his career, Byrnes admitted that he knew that some players were using steroids, but since they weren't open about it, he wasn't necessarily able to pinpoint which ones were using and which were clean. He then drops a casual one-liner in that he was told a current Hall of Famer used steroids during his career in the '70s and '80s. Now, there are quite a few baseball writers that suggest that a steroid user is already in the Hall just because of its sheer size, and Byrnes' comment appears to confirm that very thought. Thus, it's nice to hear all these Hall of Famers say that the building's doors should close on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens when it sounds like they already have a cheater featured in one of the wings. It sure would be a zoo if that player (assuming Byrnes' story was true) was ever outed.
  • Wladimir Balentien was briefly a major leaguer for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, following in the footsteps of many minor league power-hitting prospects that just couldn't make enough contact in the major leagues. After about a full year's worth of at-bats spread over 3 seasons, the replacement-level player made his way over to the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball, and this year he's threatening to break a hallowed record. While he's always had power, the NPB controversially changed the makeup of the baseballs used in games to allow for more home runs without telling anyone, and Balentien has taken advantage of the new ball. Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh holds the single season record of 55 home runs with a couple other players, but Balentien is only 3 shy of tying Oh with nearly a month left to play in the season. In the past, if a non-Japanese player was threatening the record (such as former Twin Randy Bass) pitchers would stop throwing hittable pitches in an effort to protect Oh's mark, but there appears to be a shift in the NPB now. Perhaps after watching MLB pitchers allow Ichiro Suzuki to break the single season hit record, the Japanese have resigned to the fact that a foreign athlete could break Oh's record. Therefore, it's possible that this month Balentien will not be subjected to as many intentional walks as the men before him when they tried to hit their 56th home run. Good luck to Balentien as he attempts to topple the legend.
Time for the Lightning Round, folks.
  1. Having the 6'8" Nate Freiman stand next to the 5'5" Jose Altuve always makes for an amusing pic.
  2. You think MLB umpires are awful? Well, at least they'd never react like this Chinese professional baseball umpire who responded to a manager's ump bump while arguing a balk call by grabbing his throat.
  3. Mac from "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" wrote a letter to Chase Utley, and five years later Utley finally wrote one back.
  4. The caption says it all for these two people at Target Field.
  5. And finally, Larry Granillo of SB Nation catalogued all the music that was played at a Brewers game in Miller Park. Here's his breakdown of the types of music, and if you're interested, he also recorded every single song or sound he could that occurred throughout the game.
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