Tony La Russa hasn’t been on his new job as Diamondbacks chief baseball officer (CBO sounds so Monopoly Railroad-ish) very long and already he is defending the idea of risk-reward when it comes to pitching inside. The other guy pitching inside, as it turns out.
The night after Paul Goldschmidt, the Snakes’ best player, had his hand broken by Pittsburgh’s Ernesto Frieri, Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates’ best player, got drilled in the back by Arizona’s Randall Delgado. Coincidence? Well . . . this, from MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, quoting La Russa:
“So what's happened is some teams have developed this idea that they can pitch in and up. Well it's got rewards because I don't care if you're a right-hander or left-hander, that spot right there, nobody gets to that pitch. So it's a hole for everybody. The problem is, unless you have Greg Maddux pitching, that's a very risky area to throw in. Risky because it leads to more hit batters and as a result, opposing teams then will pitch to the same area.
“And I don't judge because if that's the way you want to pitch, you need to understand with those rewards it comes with risks. So for those teams that are really featuring that style of finishing a hitter or setup the outside pitch by throwing the ball up and in, the other team that sees that they say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re going to throw the ball in more often.’ So those teams the risk they face is that they get pitched in more often.”
This is consistent with his opinions on the matter while managing in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, so duck.
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Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams, whose legendary temper has not been seen much in his first season with the Nats, finally got its first airing over the subject of sending Bryce Harper back to the minor leagues to relocate his batting eye, stroke and stride. We suspected Harper would be the reason, but it was in Harper’s defense that is the mild surprise.
“I would caution everybody in this room -– the minute you think you can read my freaking mind, you're sorely mistaken,” Williams said in a brief rant reported by Associated Press. “It (ticks) me off to even think about, that somebody would take a comment I made on the radio and infer I am thinking one way or another. I've had it. Don't do it anymore. Bryce Harper is one of the guys on our team, he's a very important part of our team. Just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other?
And, because he felt sure that not everybody understood everyone else, he finished with a flourish.
“It's not fair to the kid, it's not fair to the rest of the guys in that clubhouse to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the minor leagues, or to cause a stir. It's unacceptable. It won't happen.”
Apparently everyone understood each other then. Of course, in Philadelphia, understanding would have been the least likely outcome, but like we said, Williams’ full rage has not yet been reached. We think the middle of next year ought to do it.
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There is something truly magical about the 18th anything, and so it is with the Kings-Sharks outdoor game at Candlestick South February 21.
Other than having no likelihood of snow, an excellent chance of rain, a decent chance of something getting hurt and a limit on Darryl Sutter’s panoply on face-swallowing expressions (because he never gives in to popular demand for anything), this is a great idea –- right up there with the first outdoor game 60 years ago. In a prison.
Yes, 60. And yes, in a prison.
The Detroit Red Wings, on the verge of their third Stanley Cup in six years, trundled off to the Marquette Branch Prison to give the locals (well, inmates) a bit of a game. There is no known score, but Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay were both on the team, so we’ll bet there were no fights. I mean, lifers are one thing, but Howe and Lindsay?
In any event, unless the Sharks and Kings want to truck in some prisoners to give it that old-timey feel, they’d better truck in some snow.
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Jack Nicklaus is either the master of passive-aggressive record defense or he really really REALLY loves Rory McIlroy. In an interview with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN:
“I think Rory is an unbelievable talent. I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie. He's got a little swagger there, it's a little bit cocky but not offensive. I like that . . . I think Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing. But you just don't know what the guy's priorities are going to be in life 10 years from now.”
But he remains too clever than to get dragged into a sniping thing with Tiger-o-philes.
“He certainly has at least another 10 years of playing major-championships golf,” Nicklaus said. “That's 40 -- at least 40 -- majors to win. I believe Tiger will do that if his health remains good. Nobody ever wants their records broken, that's obvious. But I don't want him to not break the records because he's not healthy.”
It is our position that Nicklaus is at work quietly jinxing, and he secretly dances and yells “WHEEEEEE!” when nobody’s looking.
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And finally, Grantland’s Rembert Browne, who regards Atlanta as his favorite town (and maybe even his inner home), listed the 40 things that make HBO’s “Hard Knocks” on the Falcons worthwhile television. Highlights follow:
“40. The first real scrimmage opening with a marching band.
“38. Rookie Donte Rumph getting the nickname ‘Cupcake.’
“37. Two punches thrown before the opening music.
“34. Terrell Owens, somehow in the mix, probably uninvited.
“33. “I’m scared of Ferris wheels, dog.” —Someone on the sidelines
“29. Rookie Ra’Shede Hageman performing “Feelin’ on Yo Booty” during the rookie talent show.
“26. “Stand up and get some of this wind.” —Coach Bryan Cox to a fatigued player
“15. “I’m so anal about, like, packing. It’s the Virgo in me.” —WR Harry Douglas
“13. The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s (and DE Kroy Biermann’s wife) Kim Zolciak Biermann, watching herself on TV.”
And best of all:
“6. The fact that a player retired in the middle of training camp.”
It still isn’t a full Harbaugh, but as HBO is finding out, weird is where you find it.