Monday, April 14th, 2014
We’re now headed into the third week of the MLB season, and it appears as if some things are starting to level out. The Miami Marlins and Houston Astros have regained their positions at the back of the pack, and star players who got off to slow starts like Bryce Harper are finally starting to turn things around.
Even with all of the action going on on the field, it seems as if the major headlines took place either in the video review booth, or in the trainer’s room.
Controversy In New York
The always highly-anticipated Red Sox/Yankees matchup featured quite a bit of intense action, but most of what had many fans up in arms had nothing to do with traditional baseball issues.
The first incident happened when Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was on the mound. It was spotted in his previous start, but it was drawn to our attention in his second start that he had covered his hand in pine tar, and it didn’t really even seem as if he was trying to conceal it.
The next was late in the game on Saturday, when Yankees backup infielder Dean Anna was attempting to steal second base. He got there first, but as he was getting himself up, he lost contact with the base, all while Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts kept the tag on. While it was an obvious call, the umpires went to replay and eventually ruled Anna safe.
For the Pineda incident, he claimed that it was dirt, but it was widely accepted by both sides that it was, in fact, pine tar. He was not suspended for this, which I think is outrageous. Not disciplining him sets a bad precedent for pitchers doctoring the ball, and we’ll now probably see more of it.
With the replay error, we saw that the MLB still has some kinks to work out in its system. Anna was clearly out, but the umpires seemed to rush through their decision. The fact that the MLB admitted their error following the game helps, and I don’t expect it to be too much of a problem moving forward.
Questionable Rule Changes, and Possible Rule Changes Don’t Sit Well
When it was announced that the MLB was going to be banning collisions at the plate, many questioned the decision. Sure, it might prevent an injury or two, but it seemed as if these plays were more spur-of-the-moment type instances rather than a player actively trying to hurt someone.
It appeared as if the base runners were going to be losing a big edge when they came to the plate, but a rule change regarding catchers blocking the plate was supposed to curtail that. As Joe noted his recent article (LINK to your story), we saw this in action in a recent Cubs game, and it personally didn’t sit well with me.
Along with that, we had another suggested rule change that was touched on by Chris Neitzel earlier this week. Fans of traditional baseball should probably stop reading right here if they’re offended easily.
One MLB executive suggested that the league change from 9-inning games to 7 innings in an effort to appeal to a larger audience who may currently find baseball boring. I have no comment on this idea, other than that it’s the worst.
Injuries Cloud Headlines
It didn’t take long for the injury bug to start biting, and unfortunately for some teams it has started to take out some of their key players, and in some cases for potentially long periods of time.
On the mound, the Tampa Bay Rays have been hit pretty hard lately by injuries, as Matt Moore may be done for the year. He’s going to try to throw soon, but if things don’t work out, they’ll shut him down. On top of that, Alex Cobb is also headed to the DL.
Mariners young lefty James Paxton also found himself placed on the injured list, as did Cole Hamels, Brett Anderson (big surprise), and Yankees closer David Robertson. Across town, the Mets lost their closer, Bobby Parnell, for the season and have now resorted to using Jose Valverde to end games (Yikes!).
In the field, teams have also been plenty affected. Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is going to be out 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb, Josh Hamilton will be out 6-8 weeks with thumb problems, Shane Victorino is out with shoulder issues, Avisail Garcia is done for the year, also with shoulder problems, and star shortstop Jose Reyes has yet again started the year by getting injured.
Not all of this injury news is bad news, fortunately, as Aroldis Chapman, who as you remember was hit in the head with a line drive in Spring Training, has begun to throw again. Manny Machado, who tore his Achilles, is set to start hitting again, and Clayton Kershaw is bound to return at any time after nursing a sore muscle in his back.
This Week’s MVP: Ryan Braun (.458/.462/.917, 3 HR, 10 RBI)
This Week’s Cy Young: Yu Darvish (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 K)
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