This week's Breakfast and Baseball post is chock full o' interesting news from around the league. It's as if the baseball gods got together and decided that the last week of June was going to be as wacky as possible. Presenting Exhibits A through G:
- President Barack Obama was in Boston earlier this week, and he made sure to thank New England for trading Kevin Youkilis over to the Chicago White Sox. For those of you that didn't know, Obama is a big fan of the "good guys" (I just shuddered while typing that) and felt the need to crack a joke. Not surprisingly, the Red Sox faithful started booing, which Obama simply laughed off. Okay, not really a big deal. Well, unless you're Mitt Romney, in which case you chide Obama for picking on those poor Red Sox fans in a time of need. My opinion? Holy crap, the Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote was less of a parody than I first thought.
- Last week, Aroldis Chapman was in the Breakfast & Baseball post for his "Dip dip dip" involvement in Bronson Arroyo's parody of Adam Sandler's "Red-Hooded Sweatshirt" song. Well, this week he's here because of his post-save celebration. Believe it or not, but he started somersaulting after completing a save. This sure isn't an Ozzie Smith backflip, and I think he looks absolutely ridiculous. Not surprisingly, his teammates and manager were quick to show they did not condone his behavior.
- More play-by-play announcer drama, as this time it's the Diamondbacks' Daron Sutton. He unexpectedly disappeared from Arizona broadcasts without warning, and eventually the D-Backs said that he was attending to personal matters. Then it was revealed that Sutton's insubordination with conforming to a dress code was the issue. Sutton's wishing to go sans pants on the air? No, he was displeased that he couldn't wear a suit and tie in lieu of the preferred polo with team logo! Getting upset over something like this seems ridiculous, but that might be that us Twins fans are used to our broadcaster wearing this and doing that.
- Many Japanese pitchers have had trouble throwing strikes since coming over to America, with our most recent examples being Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish. Well, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine used to manage over in Japan, and he had an explanation of why that is the case with the pitchers from the Far East: Over there, "....every at-bat will come to fruition when the batter has 3 balls and 2 strikes...." Valentine goes on to mention that with the count full, one pitch determines the outcome of the plate appearance, and that is something that Japanese pitchers strive to accomplish. Now, I wonder if Dan Gladden has ever said anything that insightful about his time in Japan...
Clay Buchholz recently came down with a case of esophagitis, and was both hospitalized and placed on the 15-day DL because of it. His doctor told him he could not fly with the Red Sox, which had recently left on a West Coast trip. However, he was cleared to attend a charity event out east. Even though Buchholz was just making an appearance, that didn't stop the Twitter account of a Boston sports radio show from stating that he was attending "a vodka-sponsored pool party." Buchholz has since then received a lot of criticism from the media and fans in the New England area, even though it was a charity event. Remember David Ortiz and how he complained about how he was no longer having fun playing in Boston because of all the drama the media loved to cook up? This is exactly what he was talking about.
- Finally, there is a possibility that the Astros will get rid of Tal's Hill and the train in Minute Maid Park. For those of you that don't know, Tal's Hill is the 30-degree grade hill with the in-play flagpole near the center field fence in their ballpark. Seriously. Well, with the Astros moving to the American League next year, they are discussing making some changes. I'll be honest, I'm going to be greatly disappointed if the hill is eliminated. Any injury concerns over the hill and/or flagpole are greatly exaggerated, as the hill is 400+ feet from home plate to begin with, and there are very few fly balls hit deep enough that the fielder risks blindly running up the hill or into the flagpole. Second, I'll just copy and paste a comment of mine from that Hardball Talk article.
Tal’s Hill represents a large reason why I went from a casual fan of baseball to a diehard. First, on the pitching side, you don’t just have everyone chucking overhand fastballs at hitters 100% of the time. No, you’ve got them changing speeds, throwing curveballs and sliders, and even the occasional knuckleball and screwball. Plus, some even choose to sling it sidearm to the plate. Same goes with the hitters, as you’ve got a few that stand in the batter’s box like they want to absolutely murder the ball, while others will just sit and wait quietly until they find a pitch to their liking.
Finally, every other major sport plays their game on a standard field. Not baseball, as we are treated to games that yes, do have some cookie-cutter stadiums (Atlanta, White Sox), but also have games where you need to combat a 30-foot wall (Boston), an overhang that juts over the field (Minnesota), cavernous foul territory (Oakland), and a freakin’ hill and flagpole that’s in play (Houston).
I became a diehard fan of baseball because I learned that there are so many differences and oddities about EVERYTHING. I remember my brother and I raving about Craig Counsell and Gary Sheffield’s batting stances, Hideo Nomo’s windup and Chad Bradford pitching from the stretch, and finally the Green Monster and Tal’s Hill. If everything and everyone was similar, I’d only be a casual fan like I am with the other 3 major sports. This is why I would like Tal’s Hill to stay.
I'll be on my first vacation of the summer for the next 2 weeks (dead serious, I indeed have 2 vacations this summer), so you won't see me posting here until the 3rd week in July. However, I will have a couple shoddy game threads up later for the doubleheader, so you always have that to look forward to!