Mark Townsend

  • Jose Bautista had courtside view for memorable Slam Dunk Contest

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 hrs ago

    If you missed Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, you actually missed an entertaining show.

    Anticipation for said Dunk Contest used to rival that of an NBA Finals game (or maybe a regular season baseball game in May), but those were the days when legends like Michael Jordan regularly participated and athletic beasts like Vince Carter took part.

    Nowadays, the expectations have fallen far enough that some are happy enough if there are more made dunks than missed dunks that are redone over and over again. 

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    That changed on Saturday though. Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic produced a truly magicial performance. A duel if you will, which took many of us back to the days of Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, or Jordan and Spud Webb, or Jordan and anyone really.

    The dunks were wild, the scores were perfect, and the energy in the arena was palpable even on television. 

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  • Hot Stove Digest: David Wright could be limited to 130 games

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 15 hrs ago

    Welcome to The Stew's Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you'll find a recap of all the day's action and other fun stuff from around the Internet.

    WORKLOAD:  Mets general manager Sandy Alderson would like to limit David Wright to 130 games this season to help keep him fresh. [ ESPN New York ]

    HELLO, CHICAGO: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says an All-Star game at Wrigley Field could happen very soon. The next open year is 2019. [CBS Chicago]

    OPENING DAY: No surprise here. Bruce Bochy officially named Madison Bumgarner the Giants opening day starter. [San Jose Mercury News]

    NICE PANTS: Bill Murray was supporting his Cubs Saturday.

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  • Check out the newly approved protective headgear for pitchers

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 17 hrs ago

    In their continuing effort to better protect pitchers, MLB and the MLBPA have approved a new protective headgear design that will be available during spring training.

    According to ESPN's Outside The Lines, 20 major-league pitchers are expected to receive the new Boombang headgear early in spring training and will be the first to experiment with the model.

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    The new model gives the appearance of a partial batting helmet, including ear protection based on which arm the pitcher throws with. Research done by Boombang showed that line drives to the side of the head typically strike right-handers on the right and lefties on the left because of follow-through position, making the side protection crucial.   

    Here's more information from the Outside the Lines report:

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  • Joe Mauer still experiences blurred vision after 2013 concussion

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 20 hrs ago

    In a concerning revelation, Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer admits he occasionally experiences blurred vision at the plate stemming from a concussion sustained during the 2013 season.

    Speaking to the Pioneer Press this week, Mauer linked his symptoms to the concussion he was diagnosed with in August 2013. Mauer began experiencing his original symptoms after absorbing at least two significant foul tips while he was catching. Mauer would go on to miss the final six weeks of that season as a result of symptoms and hasn't been quite the same hitter since.

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    Mauer says bright sunshine is a trigger for the blurred vision because of the additional strain it causes on his eyes. He plans on experimenting hitting with sunglasses during daylight hours when he reports to spring training, hoping it will bring relief and help him track pitches better.

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  • New Zealand born high schooler forfeits eligibility to play in WBC

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    For many of the countries involved in the qualifying process, it's a pretty exciting time. Not often is the baseball spotlight put on South Africa or New Zealand, for example, but it's there now and they've both embraced it with big wins during this round.

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    In New Zealand's case, there's actually a pretty interesting story to go along with the success they've enjoyed. Jimmy Boyce, an 18-year-old high school pitcher who attends Mount Si High in Snoqualmie, Wash., is representing his country of birth during the qualifying round this weekend. In fact, he picked up the win on the hill in Friday's 17-7 victory against the Philippines.

    “I knew, but that’s a risk I wanted to take,” Boyce said. “That’s something I wanted to do for my country. I think there’s no greater feeling than that … This means absolutely more than anything. I’ve been growing up playing for New Zealand all my life and I’m not going to stop.”

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  • Jenrry Mejia denies knowledge of PED use following lifetime ban

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Hours after becoming the first player to be permanently suspended by MLBfor a third positive test for PEDs, Jenrry Mejia denied knowledge of his use.

    According to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, Mejia spoke to Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez on Friday and relayed the following message, which was translated from Spanish by Rising Apple:

    “I’m going to appeal. Lose or win, I have great faith. I have to clear my name.” Mejia was quoted as saying. “I will take this case to the ultimate consequences. It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

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  • Mets will survive Jenrry Mejia's banishment from MLB

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The baseball world was stunned Friday by the news that Jenrry Mejia had tested positive for PEDs for a third time, resulting in a permanent suspension from the league.

    Mejia earned the dubious distinction as the first player to receive a lifetime ban under MLB’s “three strikes and you’re out” PED policy. He's also sure to earn ridicule from his peers who attempted to support him throughout his ordeal, and from fans who simply can't comprehend the choices he's apparently made.

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    Mejia's career unraveled quickly. At this point last year he was penciled in as the New York Mets closer following a strong showing to end the 2014 campaign. Now he's out of baseball all together, and the Mets will have to make plans without him.

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  • A's acquire Khris Davis in attempt to boost offensive firepower

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Even as spring training approaches, the trade winds are still blowing around Major League Baseball.

    On Friday, the Oakland A's completed a notable deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, acquiring power-hitting outfielder Khris Davis in exchange for catching prospect Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitcher Bubba Derby. 

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    This deal fits the mold of a Billy Beane late offseason trade with pretty good value. Though Beane has been promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations, new GM David Forst is showing he's been paying attention and learning from the best. 

    In Davis, Forst has added some much needed firepower to the middle of manager Bob Melvin's lineup. Davis connected for 27 homers in just 121 games last season, while Josh Reddick, the A's home run leader, finished with just 20. As a team, the A's hit just 146 homers last season, good for 20th in MLB and last in their division, 26 behind the next closest team. 

  • Hot Stove Digest: Aroldis Chapman avoids arbitration with Yankees

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Welcome to The Stew's Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you'll find a recap of all the day's action and other fun stuff from around the Internet.

    LOCKED IN:  The Yankees and new closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration, settling on an $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season. Chapman will be a free agent following the 2016 season. [@Ken_Rosenthal]

    ICYMI: Former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia has been permanently suspended from baseball for his third drug policy violation. [The Stew]

    DONE DEAL: The Indians signed veteran reliever Tommy Hunter to a one-year, $2 million deal. [@hoynsie]

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  • Braves will build new Hank Aaron monument at SunTrust Park

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Atlanta Braves have announced that they are no longer contesting the  Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority regarding the future location of the bronze Hank Aaron statue outside Turner Field. 

    The team had hoped to bring the statue with them as they prepare to move to SunTrust Park in Cobb County next season, but will now allow it to remain in downtown Atlanta. Instead, the Braves have announced plans to honor Aaron with a new monument at their new ballpark.

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    Here's the Braves' official statement on the statue dispute, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  

    In the end, Hank Aaron's legacy wins out, as he'll now be honored by two groups who mean a lot to him. And it's pretty fitting that his words played at least some role in the dispute being settled, as it further cements the respect he's earned both on and off the field.