“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): The Adam LaRoche situation is about players vs. front office

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, the White Sox.

If you are even somewhat following baseball, you probably have had at least heard of the bizarre case of Adam LaRoche, the now-former first baseman of the Chicago White Sox. What exactly has happened depends on who you ask, but in essence LaRoche more-or-less-retired because he was told he could no longer have his son around with him all the time.

In the last 24 hours, though, the tale of Adam-and-Drake LaRoche has gone from a mere strange story to… whatever the hell it is now. The White Sox, it appears, are not happy with all of this happened. Like, they apparently considered boycotting. And then, today… well.. it’s blown up:







Yikes. A dispute about a 14-year-old kid has seemingly caused open rebellion against the front office of the team, especially Ken Williams, the VP and de-facto GM (the White Sox are one of those teams where the titles and responsibilities are a bit unclear). The team’s best pitcher is going unfiltered at him!

And, well, I get the feeling this now has nothing to do with Drake LaRoche. Oh, sure, I’m guessing Chris Sale and him were tight, but I think this is now about the fact that Ken Williams just did this all on his own, breaking the self-policing tradition of baseball clubhouses. Yes, Williams was once a player, but he isn’t anymore. But now, he stuck his head into the clubhouse and changed the status quo, and, what’s more, didn’t communicate what was going on all that well. The result, perhaps, was inevitable.

And now, madness has descended upon Camelback Ranch.

What comes next is anyone’s guess.

(2016 Blogathon!) Famous For Something Else: Eddy Alvarez, Silver Medal Speed Skater

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

This “Famous For Something Else” is notable because the player in question has a chance of maybe one day becoming best known for baseball. It’s Eddy Alvarez, a middle-infielder in the White Sox organization who won a silver medal in the 5000 meter relay in short track speed skating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He’s hit very well, but the fact he’s two to four years older than most people in the leagues he is in probably hurts his chances. Still, you never know.

Here are his stats:

2014 24 3.6 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A CHW 45 210 182 32 63 11 1 5 26 9 10 27 34 .346 .433 .500 .933 91 4 1 0 0
2014 24 4.4 White Sox ARIZ Rk CHW 27 130 110 20 32 5 1 2 12 5 6 20 24 .291 .400 .409 .809 45 3 0 0 0
2014 24 2.5 Kannapolis SALL A CHW 18 80 72 12 31 6 0 3 14 4 4 7 10 .431 .488 .639 1.126 46 1 1 0 0
2015 25 3.2 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ CHW 123 553 450 88 133 29 7 5 53 53 15 88 85 .296 .409 .424 .834 191 8 2 8 5
2015 25 3.5 Kannapolis SALL A CHW 89 410 330 64 94 23 6 2 39 42 8 69 68 .285 .408 .409 .818 135 8 2 6 3
2015 25 2.4 Winston-Salem CARL A+ CHW 34 143 120 24 39 6 1 3 14 11 7 19 17 .325 .411 .467 .878 56 0 0 2 2
All Levels (2 Seasons) 168 763 632 120 196 40 8 10 79 62 25 115 119 .310 .416 .446 .862 282 12 3 8 5
A (2 seasons) Minors 107 490 402 76 125 29 6 5 53 46 12 76 78 .311 .421 .450 .872 181 9 3 6 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/27/2016.

At 2 AM: Baseball Card Haiku

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

MVP of Yesterday (September 21, 2015): Jeff Samardzija

The MVP of Yesterday was Jeff Samardzija. He pitched arguably the best non-no-hitter of the year, giving up just one hit, no walks and struck out six Tigers in a 88 pitch complete-game win (a Maddux!).

Standings, as always, after the jump:

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You can learn a lot watching an “empty” game

As you know, the Orioles and White Sox will be playing a game today in front of an empty stadium due to the recent events in Baltimore, with only themselves, journalists, and a skeleton crew of ballpark workers there to see it in person.

While of course the first thoughts should be for everyone in Baltimore in light of the unrest (whether peaceful protest or the violent riots that occurred on Monday), it should be noted that this unusual zero-attendance game will provide a unique look at baseball.

Now, I have, of course by definition, never been to a game with no attendance. But I have been to games that have been very close, with perhaps only a hundred or more fans there, tops. Go to a minor league game on a cold night with a chance of rain and you’ll have a chance to see it (as I have at times), or go to one of the lowest minor leagues, where they play games in large Spring Training facilities in front of crowds far, far smaller than the ballpark is meant to.

It is, in a word that will be said many times today: surreal.

For one thing, there is the fact that almost everything in the stadium is closed. Maybe one or two food stands will be open for the few fans who are there (this won’t be the case for the Orioles game today), and maybe you might still one or two vendors walking around hawking beer, but in general, it is a morgue outside of the seating bowl. They might not even turn on the TVs to show the game to anybody down below.

And yet, much of what the stadium’s PA system and video board play remain the same. They’ll flash out the birthday messages meant for people who probably left during the rain delay in the third innings, they’ll play walk-up music that echoes through the empty stands, they’ll give “fan of the game” awards to people who normally never get the awards because their seats are too expensive, and the mascots are able to give a good chunk of time to every kid in the crowd. Individually.

And, above all else, you can hear almost everything said above a conversational tone. You can hear the players actually call out “I got it, I got it,” and hear them swear after they do something wrong. I don’t know if the mics in Baltimore will be good enough to pick stuff like that up, but if they can, it’ll be a treat (and also NSFW).

Lastly, if it’s possible, baseball with little to no fans there is most definitely connoisseur’s experience. The few people there most definitely want to be there. There are no casual fans. And that is an almost zen-like experience.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 3): Best Case/Worst Case for… the AL CENTRAL (with Getty Images)

We continue our big preview of the MLB Season by looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the AL Central. And, what’s more, that includes Getty Images, no matter how irrelevant the picture is.

Detroit Tigers

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Best-Case Scenario: Who need Prince Fielder? They have Miguel Cabrera still, and their starting rotation is still one where the reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, may not even be the ace, due to Justin Verlander. And they now have Joe Nathan as their closer! With that, there can only be one best-case scenario: World Series Title.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Tigers are seized and sold to pay off Detroit’s bankruptcy debt.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Joe Nathan starts showing his age, Verlander’s below-average-by-his-standards season last year turns out to have been the start of his decline, and it turns out that maybe Miguel Cabrera did need Prince Fielder. And even then, they still probably are in the playoff hunt.

Cleveland Indians

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Best-Case Scenario: They make the playoffs again, and actually make it farther than the Wild Card game this time.

Worst-Case Scenario: Nick Swisher secedes from the Union to found the state of “Brohio”.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: With two pitchers (Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir) having left in Free Agency, the depth isn’t what it used to be, and the Indians are left in the dust in the AL Central.

Kansas City Royals

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Best-Case Scenario: The youngsters make a great leap forward, James Shields continues to do well, and the Royals sneak in as a Wild Card.

Worst-Case Scenario: Young guys flop or get hurt, James Shields starts to take a downturn, and the Royals fall back into the total basement.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above. I couldn’t come up with anything outrageous for the Royals.

Minnesota Twins

Best-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer wins the batting title and upsets both Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis for the 1st-base starting spot at the All-Star Game. The new pitchers turn out to be genius moves. The Twins end the season near .500 and plenty of good prospects in their future.

Worst-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer goes outside Justin Morneau‘s house to play 1980s power ballads from an oversized stereo system. Hurts himself lifting that stereo. Misses rest of season.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The pitchers brought in flop, Mauer doesn’t improve all that much playing every day at 1B, or, worse, gets hurt. Prospects get hurt or hit a ceiling. Last place. Glen Perkins is the lone Twins All-Star at Target Field after Josh Willingham‘s “Final Vote” campaign falls short due to the fact he’s going against Derek Jeter, who will end up in the ASG this year, no matter how or what, even if he’s hitting .220.

Chicago White Sox

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Best-Case Scenario: The Jose Abreu signing is genius and some other stuff goes right (primarily with the pitching staff), and the White Sox are a surprise contender for awhile before fading in the second half.

Worst-Case Scenario: They do more-or-less what they did last year, and Paul Konerko gets so depressed he decides to retire early.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above, only presumably without the Konerko retirement.

Next on the list of Best Case/Worst Case: The AL West.

Baseball Card Haiku Project #12: 1988 Leaf Greg Walker

In which I write Haiku-style poetry about a potpourri of baseball cards I found in a value pack. Because, well, it’s my blog.

1988 Leaf Greg Walker

88LeafGregWalkerRun, Greg Walker, Run!

Out of the box, on to first!

Safe? Out? I don’t know!

Picture of the day: The World Tour comes to Japan

I was so sure that Japan was going to beat Puerto Rico that I had been planning on having this photo of the 1913-14 World Tour players from the White Sox and Giants with members of Japan’s Keio University… whoops. Oh well, still an interesting picture, with John McGraw, Tris Speaker, Jim Thorpe, Sam Crawford and Buck Weaver in it. So, from the Library of Congress Flickr feed, here is the photo:

If anybody in Japan would like to blame their team’s loss on my blog (I mean, between this and yesterday’s article on how Pokémon had an episode that seeped with Japanese baseball references, I seemed to have been tempting fate), go ahead.