January 29, 2021

AROD's Self-Help Tips (#1: Buy A Large, Gray Hammock)

Two days ago:

David Roth, Defector, January 27, 2021:

Wednesdays, right? They take it out of you. You're halfway home, sure, but there's still all this, like, week just glowering down and looming up ahead. And the days are short and strange and acidic, every day is now, and the sun sometimes just doesn't come out at all. . . . 

In light of this, we suggest you do what Alex Rodriguez and other undeniably regular human people do—get some time outside, away from your Zoom meetings, and as the popular saying goes "refresh [your] batteries." Feel free to assume a normal stance as you do this! . . .

That's better, isn't it?

The comments at both sites are gold. 

January 26, 2021

No One Elected To Hall Of Fame In 2021

No players on the 2021 Hall of Fame Ballot provided to the Baseball Writers of America Association were named on the necessary 75% of ballots to gain induction. It's the third time in 50 years no one was elected from the writers' ballots (1971, 1996, 2013).

Curt Schilling was named on 285 of 401 ballots (71.1%), a bit better than his 70% showing last year, but still 16 votes short. Barry Bonds (248 ballots, 61.8%) and Roger Clemens (247 ballots, 61.6%) also fell short.

This was the ninth year for all three players. Next year will be his last chance on the writers' ballot.

Schilling has asked that his name be removed from the writers' ballot next year. Schilling being Schilling, of course, he needed 1,136 words to make that request; in fact, he wrote 1,030 words before even mentioning it: 

I'll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player.

Schilling also dragged his wife's chemotherapy into the discussion, because anyone can see how that is critically relevant to a debate over the Hall of Fame "character" clause and Schilling's chronic hate speech and his support of cop-killing seditious insurrections:

But as I watch my wife battle cancer and go through the grueling soul crushing process of chemotherapy and see her hurt every time some idiot writes another hit piece linking to other hit pieces, none rooted in any sort of truth . . . I sure as hell don't want to dump any of this on a woman who just ended her 3rd chemo . . .

I want to know how Curt's wife knows when "some idiot writes another hit piece" on him. And it's a funny thing about those hit pieces, how they simply quote Schilling's own words. But anyway, if seeing these horrible articles causes his wife actual hurt, I doubt she willingly wanders the internet actively looking for them. How does she know they exist? How does she know what they claim?

As with just about everything Schilling-related, the upshot of all this is that he is an asshole who can't keep his yap shut when it would benefit him to do so and he has brought most of his unfortunate circumstances upon himself.

Yankees May Rue Trading Reliever Adam Ottavino To Red Sox

The Red Sox and Yankees almost never do business with each other, but New York has traded relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (and pitcher Frank Graham) to Boston for a player to be named later. It's only the second trade the two rivals have made in 23 years.

This is a cost-cutting move for the Yankees. The Red Sox will be responsible for $7.15 million of Ottavino's $8 million salary this season.

Ottavino, a 35-year-old right-hander, was good in 2019 (1.90 ERA in 66.1 innings) and bad in 2020 (5.89 ERA in only 18.1 innings). That's a huge difference in ERA, but his underlying stats are not so wildly different. (He allowed six of his 12 runs last year in one zero-out appearance against Toronto.)

        OBP   SLG   OPS  BABIP    FIP
2019   .316  .308  .624   .286   3.44
2020   .353  .419  .772   .375   3.52

Who is Frank German? Over the Monster reports that he is:

a fourth round pick by the Yankees back in 2018. Now 23 years old (he'll turn 24 in late September, German pitched in High-A back in 2019, making 15 starts plus one relief appearance for a total of 76 innings that year. In that time he pitched to a 3.79 ERA with 82 strikeouts (25 percent rate) and 35 walks (11 percent rate). He was ranked number 32 in the Yankees organization prior to last season by FanGraphs, who wrote of him at the time as a current starter who experienced a velocity spike at the end of his college career, but is more likely to settle into a relief role at the major-league level.

The Red Sox had their eye on Ottavino after winning the 2018 World Series, but he ended up signing a 3/27 deal with the Yankees. Now, he says he may have become too predictable on the mound and wants to change his way of pitching.

I don't want to give away too many things but for me, multiple shapes of my breaking pitches, I think, is the area where I can be elite at. That's the category that I feel like is my specialty. So, just trying to lean into that and grab a little better control of pitches that break downward as well as sideways and everything in between. . . . I feel like over the last couple of years, I kind of fell in love with the one shape that I had of the slider, which is kind of what everybody knows. I actually got more and more consistent throwing that pitch and I just think that hitters could kind of track the break on it because it was always kind of the same. So my goal was to be a little less consistent if that makes sense.

Lindsey Adler, The Athletic:

Yankees fans can reasonably reject the Ottavino trade based on performance or principle. Ottavino is a native Brooklynite who has a great arsenal when it's working and could frustrate the Yankees now that he has been traded within the division. . . .

There's reason to believe Ottavino can put together a strong 2021 season for the Red Sox. . . . At his best, he can be lethal against a heavily right-handed lineup — which he seems likely to face against the Yankees this season. . . .

The Ottavino trade was an obvious flashpoint for a fan base tired of the championship drought that has persisted since 2009. . . .

[W]ithin the Yankees' window of contention, fans have watched free agents and trade targets be passed over because of salary or contract terms, only to later watch the team come up short in the postseason. . . . [T]he frustration was growing for years before the team executed a salary dump to stay under the luxury tax that sent a talented reliever to the team's biggest rival. It's ugly on its face, even if Yankees brass can provide a reasonable explanation.

January 23, 2021

Red Sox Sign Kik├ę Hern├índez (INF-OF) and Garrett Richards (RHP)

The Red Sox have reportedly signed the versatile fielder Kik├ę Hern├índez to a two-year contract worth $14 million and agreed on a $10 million deal for 2021 with right-handed pitcher Garrett Richards.

Hernández will likely play second base, but throughout his career, he has started games first base (11), second base (132), third base (14), shortstop (56), left field (60), center field (128), and right field (35). Hernández has a career .820 OPS against lefties.

Richards, 32 years old, has been plagued by injuries for the last five seasons, throwing a combined 198.2 innings, with only one season topping 52 innings. He had Tommy John surgery in 2018.

January 22, 2021

Henry Louis Aaron (1934-2021)

Hank Aaron died today, at the age of 86.

He was a humble and unassuming, a consummate professional – who could hit the bejesus out of a baseball.

Aaron ranks first among all major league players in total bases (6,856, a whopping 722 bases ahead of Stan Musial), runs batted in (2,297), and extra-base hits (1,477), second in home runs (755), third in hits (3,771), and tied for fourth in runs scored (2,174). Somehow, he remains grossly underrated (as does Musial).

Aaron won two batting average titles, three Gold Gloves, and is the only player to appear in 25 All-Star Games. He won only one Most Valuable Player award (1957), but he received at least one MVP vote in 19 consecutive seasons (1955-1973) and finished in the Top 10 in voting 13 times. He endured countless racist death threats before (and for a time after) becoming the game's home run king on April 8, 1974, passing Babe Ruth.

From Richard Goldstein's obituary:

Aaron was routinely brilliant, performing with seemingly effortless grace, but he had little flash, notwithstanding his nickname in the sports pages, Hammerin' Hank. . . . 

Aaron did not enjoy the idolatry accorded the Yankees' Mickey Mantle or match the exuberance and electric presence of the Giants' Willie Mays . . . But when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, Aaron received 97.8 percent of the vote from baseball writers, second at the time only to Ty Cobb, who was inducted in 1936. . . .

Aaron grew up in Alabama amid rigid segregation and its humiliations, and he faced abuse from the stands while playing in the South as a minor leaguer. Years later, he felt that Braves fans were largely indifferent or hostile to him as he chased Ruth's record. And the baseball commissioner at the time, Bowie Kuhn, was not present when he hit his historic 715th home run.

In [1994], Aaron told sports columnist William C. Rhoden:

April 8, 1974, really led up to turning me off on baseball. It really made me see for the first time a clear picture of what this country is about. My kids had to live like they were in prison because of kidnap threats, and I had to live like a pig in a slaughter camp. I had to duck. I had to go out the back door of the ball parks. I had to have a police escort with me all the time. I was getting threatening letters every single day. All of these things have put a bad taste in my mouth, and it won't go away. They carved a piece of my heart away. . . .

At six feet tall and 180 pounds, Aaron was hardly the picture of a slugger, but he had thick, powerful wrists, enabling him to whip the bat out of his right-handed stance with uncommon speed. . . .

As Aaron chased Ruth’s record in 1973, he finally emerged as a national figure. He appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek and . . . Charles Schulz, whose "Peanuts" comic strip had become a staple of national popular culture, turned his attention to Aaron in August 1973 with drawings that ridiculed the bigots besieging him*. . . .

[W]hen Aaron hit homer No. 715, Kuhn was not present. The commissioner was in Cleveland, speaking to an Indians booster organization. . . . Aaron viewed it as a snub, and he did not forget it. . . .

Although Aaron wasn't vocal on the larger civil rights scene, he became interested in the writings of James Baldwin, decrying patience in the face of racism. Aaron contributed a chapter to "Baseball Has Done It," Jackie Robinson's 1964 collection of first-person accounts from baseball figures telling of their battles against racism.

"I've read some newspapermen saying I was just a dumb kid from the South with no education and all I knew was to go out there and hit," Aaron wrote. "Baseball has done a lot for me, given me an education in meeting other kinds of people," he continued. But he added pointedly, "It has taught me that regardless of who you are and how much money you make, you are still a Negro."

*: The first Aaron-related strip appeared on August 8, 1973. The storyline ran for two weeks.

Numerous Baseball Writers Are Surprised Curt Schilling (A Not-Reticent MAGA Moron) Supported The Deadly Seditious Insurrection Incited By Trump

"Numerous" members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America are apparently surprised that former major league pitcher Curt Schilling, whose name appears on the most recent Hall of Fame ballot, supported the seditious insurrection at the Capitol two weeks ago that resulted in five deaths.
(However, HOF officials are not particularly concerned about BBWAA members who deny players HOF votes because of their own racism. See, Dick Allen (never received more than 19% in 14 years) and Garry Sheffield (received less than 14% in first five years of eligibility).)

On the evening of January 6, Schilling posted his support of the domestic terrorist attack that targeted the Vice President, Speaker of the House, and other lawmakers for assassination. That is not surprising for many reasons, one of which is Schilling has previously posted pictures in support of murdering journalists. This time, Curt also threw in some casual racism, at no charge.

Did you know the people participating in the attack, the ones wearing red MAGA hats and waiving Trump 2020 signs, were not, REPEAT, not Conservative Americans? That's what Curt Schilling believes. (Every video with AUDIO proves it! Every single one!!1!!!)

How could these voters not be aware of Schilling's mindset? He has never shied away from expressing himself, butting his ignorant head into conversations both relevant and not for the sole reason of proclaiming, loudly and at length, WHAT. HE. THINKS., as if people could possibly still give a shit (if they ever did).

Schilling has proudly supported Donald Trump for numerous years, so of course he supported Trump's anti-American assault on democracy! Schilling does nothing to hide his reactionary, xenophobic, transphobic, jigonistic, Islamophobic views. He also collects Nazi memorabilia (and has defended it*) contributes to Breitbart.

[*:  "I have never done anything to offend anyone. I don't have a racist bone in my body. . . . I can't help what people get offended by."]

Schilling was fired a cushy ESPN broadcasting gig because of his odious and offensive statements. 

Schilling claims to support the US military, but he worships a guy who treats veterans like garbage, calls them "losers" for getting killed in battle, and doesn't care that Vladimir Putin pays bounties for their dead bodies.

Schilling claims to be a Christian, but he loves the sadistic man who tears apart families and puts children as young as four months in cages (the parents of 545 children still cannot be found), tries to completely abolish healthcare, removes the possibility of food assistance for millions of poor people during a pandemic, takes money from the poor and gives it to the rich, lies as regularly as he breathes, and allows a pandemic to ravage the nation, killing close to 500,000 in only one year and putting almost 50 million people out of work and then offering them next-to-nothing in help. (During his playing career, Schilling acted as though Matthew 6:1-6 was not part of the real Bible.)

Schilling is also a colossal hypocrite, preaching about the importance of using your boot straps, but he's not above pocketing millions in corporate welfare before promptly running his business into the ground (another trait he shares with Trump) and leaving Rhode Island taxpayers with a bill of roughly $30 million.

When a recording surfaced of Trump telling a 10-year-old girl he would be dating her in a few years (Trump also asked an acquaintance of Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen: "Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own [13-year-old] daughter than your wife?"), Schilling defended him, saying, among other sentiments: "I've seen my daughter's friends. I'm a man".

None of this should be a secret to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention. Each writer casting a Hall of Fame ballot will give the "character" clause whatever weight she feel it should have, but Curt Schilling is the exact same horrible, hateful human being now as he was on January 5. 

January 20, 2021

Bernie's Mittens