Mark Townsend

  • MLB announces new Home Run Derby format with brackets, timed rounds

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    For the second straight season Major League Baseball has announced significant changes to its Home Run Derby format.

    According to a press release on Sunday afternoon, the league will be shifting to a bracketed, single-elimination tournament format, which means they'll lower the number of participants from ten to eight. Each round will now be timed as well, with each batter having a baseline of five minutes per round. 

    The eight-player contest will be conducted as a single-elimination tournament in which the loser of each bracket is immediately eliminated. Brackets in the first round will be seeded based on 2015 home run totals through July 7th, with ties broken by awarding the higher seed to the batter with more home runs hit since June 15th. If a tie remains, a coin flip will determine the higher seed. In each matchup, the higher seed will hit second.

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  • Marlins give rookie Justin Nicolino giant bat to help with bunting

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

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    If there's one big advantage to being a rookie in MLB, it's that life is never boring. Whether your teammates are sending you on a coffee run or just flat ignoring you after your first career home run, they're always looking for ways to crack you and keep you on your toes.

    Here's another pretty cool example of that.

    Miami Marlins pitcher Justin Nicolino is only two starts into his big league career, but he's definitely getting a strong welcome from his new teammates. After faltering on the hill in Friday night's 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, his teammates put the focus elsewhere by poking fun at his bunting during Saturday's batting practice.

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    Nicolino failed to get a bunt down on Friday night, so they equipped him with this absurdly large piece of lumber.

    What's particularly funny about the video above is that it actually takes Nicolino three attempts to get a successful bunt down with the bigger, badder bat.

    We'll blame that one on the grip? Perhaps?

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  • Cole Hamels says he's 'open-minded' about possible trade destinations

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    We've reached that time of the baseball season where trade rumors will begin to consume our minds, our souls, and above all else, our social media accounts. And in many cases those rumors will be more heavily discussed than the results on the field.

    Among the names we figure to hear most will be that of Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels. The 31-year-old left-hander is available as the Phillies move forward with their rebuilding project and will be highly sought after by multiple contenders, making it more a matter of when, not if he changes uniforms.

    In fact, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has been engaging in trade talks regarding Hamels for several months, but has yet to take the plunge. That will change in the next five weeks, and based on comments from Hamels on Saturday, Amaro's hands may not be tied in terms of who he can negotiate with.

    According to Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, Hamels says he'll be open-minded when approached about a potential deal and may not necessarily use his no-trade provision to block trades to teams not on his wish list .

    “But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”

    Even Toronto and Houston?

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  • Andrew McCutchen on latest HBP: 'Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher'

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    To say Andrew McCutchen is growing tired of wearing fastballs in his rib cage and on his left elbow would be an understatement. During Saturday's 8-4 win against the Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season and the 27th time over the past three seasons.

    Braves pitcher Julio Teheran struck McCutchen in the left elbow with a fastball on a 1–1 count in the first inning, which forced McCutchen from the game. He quickly underwent X-rays, which came back negative for a fracture. Mentally, though, the latest incident definitely took a toll and had McCutchen wondering what he could do to better protect himself moving forward.

    Via the Associated Press: 

    "Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher,'' McCutchen said after Saturday's game. ''Maybe that will scare them into not throwing at me."

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    Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see how this story develops. 

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  • Adorable Tigers fans unveil awesome handshake

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    This is, without question, the best thing you'll see today.

    It's perhaps even the best thing you'll see all week.

    During Friday night's White Sox-Tigers game at Comerica Park in Detroit, a pair of Tigers' fans were caught on camera getting fired up for the game with what could only be described as the coolest super secret handshake ever.

    Do observe their youthful enthusiam. 

     And the double point seals it.

    Step aside, Bryce Harper and Matt Williams, for you have nothing on these fans. Well, OK, maybe Harper and Williams were a little bit smoother. But you can tell the fans were just starting to get comfortable with the handshake. There were some timing and coordination issues, but we're guessing by the third inning or so they had that fixed, and by the time Detroit celebrated a 5-4 victory, they had it perfected.

    Did we just become best friends?! pic.twitter.com/v1KRMUqIxj

    Sure, the choreography is pretty basic, but people need to realize that sometimes less is more. When you can limit it to three basic moves and nail them every time, you're succeeding. 

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  • Cardinals first to 50 wins after dominant performance against Cubs

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

    The St. Louis Cardinals became the first team to 50 wins this season with an 8-1 blowout victory against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. No one else is particularly close, either, with the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals checking in next at 43 wins.

    The Cardinals reached 50 wins in their 74th game, which is the first time that's happened since the 2005 Chicago White Sox. If you recall, that team went on to win a World Series championship.

    It's a remarkable pace, especially considering the injuries to Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and others, but par for the course given the Cardinals recent history.

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    With the win, St. Louis now owns an eight-game lead over Pittsburgh. That's the largest margin in MLB. At 39-34, the Cubs are 10 1/2 games behind.

    CLAYTON KERSHAW LOSES THIRD STRAIGHT DECISION

  • Bob Costas to apologize to Pedro Strop for insensitive commentary

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    In one of the most unexpected and undeniably awkward stories of the season, broadcasting legend Bob Costas found himself in hot water Friday night after going off on a bizarre and insensitive diatribe about Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop.

    Costas was on the call for MLB Network's broadcast of the Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis. Strop, who serves as Chicago's eighth-inning reliever, was called upon for his duties but had a rough night, allowing a game-tying homer to Greg Garcia and an additional two baserunners before getting the hook.

    As Strop left the mound with the game hanging in the balance, he pointed skyward, which is a gesture many pitchers make while taking their leave. But Costas wasn't having it this time. 

    Take a listen. 

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    @ESPNChiCubs @BornOnThirdCubs Costas went there huh? pic.twitter.com/7G0tolOGg9

    For those not in a position to listen, here's a transcript of Costas' comments.

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  • Robinson Cano avoids concussion after being hit by errant throw

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    Talk about a tough weekend for injuries around MLB. Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano became the latest to join the list after being struck on the forehead by an errant throw while the Los Angeles Angels were taking mid-inning infield warmups.

    According to reports, Cano was minding his own business standing atop Seattle's first base dugout when the throw nailed him on the left side of his forehead. It's said that Angels first baseman Albert Pujols either lost track of the ball or wasn't expecting the throw, which allowed it to sail unimpeded into Seattle's dugout.

    Robinson Cano is heading to the clubhouse with a knot on his forehead after being struck by ball during mid-inning infield warmups #Mariners

    seems after Perez threw ball after Richards' final warmup pitch; 2B or SS threw to Pujols who wasn't looking and (continued)

    ball struck Robinson Cano in the forehead, big knot left on forehead; left for clubhouse with trainers #Mariners

    Here's a decent gif of the errant throw.

    Here's the result. 

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  • Houston's Brett Oberholtzer ejected after throwing at Alex Rodriguez

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Who knew the drama this weekend wouldn't come from the Royals-A's series in Oakland?

    Instead, tensions were high at Minute Maid Park in Houston, where Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer was ejected in the second inning for throwing a pitch at Alex Rodriguez.

    Apparently, Oberholtzer got up on the wrong side of bed Saturday morning. He wasn't effective at all during his abbreviated stint on the mound, and he didn't have much patience to deal with his struggles.

    In the first inning, he served up a grand slam to Brian McCann after allowing a double and two walks. Things didn't go much better in the second frame, After allowing a second double to Brett Gardner, hot-hitting Chris Young dialed up long distance for a two-run homer. That led up to the A-Rod incident, which saw home-plate umpire Rob Drake give Oberholtzer the immediate hook after his first pitch zeroed in on A-Rod's belt buckle.

    [On this week's StewPod: Looking back at a fun week in baseball with Jeff Passan]

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  • Steven Souza makes great running catch, goes sailing into stands

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Major League Baseball is always looking for ways to get the fans more involved, but we're not so certain the recent trend of players sailing into the stands is something they had in mind.

    Granted, these leaps of faith aren't just random acts of affection and/or insanity, though sometimes they do resemble the latter. They are honest efforts to make plays on the baseball, and more times than not result in webgems.

    Case in point, during Friday's game at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. sold out completely to make a running catch near the home team's bullpen and ended up going head-first over the wall.

    The effort was truly outstanding as Souza took an extra swing away from Boston's Mookie Betts, but it was thoroughly complicated by the ballpark's set up. First, there was the bullpen mound, which Souza knew could trip him up if he caught it the wrong way. Not that he seemed to care. He'd already decided early that he was simply going for it, and thankfully was able to avoid an awkward step or twisted ankle.

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