Mark Townsend

  • Diamondbacks land Cuban Yasmany Tomas on six-year, $68.5M deal

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    The pursuit of free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas took a quick and stunning turn on Wednesday. Expected to become the richest Cuban defector to date, with a $100 million contract seemingly within reason, Tomas agreed on a six-year, $68 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a report from's Jesse Sanchez.

    Though he'll earn a higher yearly average, Tomas' deal falls short of Rusney Castillo‘s seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, which ultimately topped deals signed by Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu. Castillo's deal was viewed by many as a starting point for Tomas in terms of total money, but apparently the market didn't develop as envisioned.

    In the other surprising twist, Arizona was only viewed as a periphery player at best in the Tomas sweepstakes as recently as Wednesday afternoon. New D-Backs general manager Dave Stewart discussed his interest with Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic earlier in the day, stating that no formal offer had been issued,  though both sides understood what the other was looking for. 

  • Lance Berkman returns to college, seeks degree in kinesiology

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

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    One year after hanging up his cleats for good, former six-time All-Star Lance Berkman is pursuing another personal milestone — completing his degree at Rice University.

    According to's Alyson Footer, Berkman, who once joked his main focus during his initial stint at Rice was to stay eligible for the baseball team, is enrolled as a full-time student and hopes to graduate next summer with a degree in kinesiology. 

    His major isn't "eligibility", but rather, kinesiology, and his schedule is packed four days a week. He has classes Monday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays from 8 a.m. until noon; Wednesdays from 1 p.m. until 2:15 p.m., and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., 9:25-10:50 a.m. and 11 a.m. until noon.

    Our loss as viewing baseball fans will be the gain of others when Berkman settles into the next phase of his life.

    As for his current phase and how he's fitting in with that younger generation as a student.

    "It's fun," Berkman said of mingling with "the kids."

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  • Mo'ne Davis to release memoirs in March

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Taney Dragons star Mo'ne Davis was the best sports story of the summer after leading her team to the Little League World Series and becoming the first female to pitch a shutout at Williamsport. Now the 13-year-old with the rocket right arm is going to share her side in text as she prepares to write her memoirs. 

    "Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name," is slated to be released in March, according to an Associated Press report. Davis, along with author Hilary Beard, intend to share the story of her rise to success in a sport dominated by boys and her experience in dealing with first the doubts, and later the fame that accompanied her efforts and accomplishments.

    The book will be published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. It will obviously be a story of inspiration and resilience, because those have been the backbone of her journey. It will also detail the hard work she's put in to develop her skills and the sacrifices she's made not only to play baseball, but to begin serving as a role model to girls and boys of all ages.

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  • Derek Jeter goes golfing with President Obama

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    What's Derek Jeter doing with his free time now that he's retired from Major League Baseball?

    He's hitting the links with the leader of the free world, of course, because that's how Derek Jeter rolls.

    By the way, we're not talking about another retired Yankees' legend, Mariano Rivera, who would likely win the state of New York in a landslide if  he ever ran for office. We're talking about U.S. President Barack Obama.

    According to reports, Jeter and Obama made up half of a fearsome foursome that tore up the Shadow Creek course in North Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. They were joined by Obama campaign supporter Stephen Cloobeck and Brian Greenspun, who is the chief executive officer of Greenspun Media Group, which owns the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

    Reports also note that President Obama was originally scheduled to play 18 holes, but apparently was having a good time so he stuck around for another nine.

    We say give the Captain six months to a year and he'll already have that ground made up. And then some. 

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  • Marlins Man auctioning off jersey for Make-A-Wish Foundation

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Since rising from obscurity during the 2014 postseason, Laurence Leavy — aka Marlins Man — has become sports' version of "Where's Waldo?" With his customary bright orange Miami Marlins jacket and visor, Leavy tends to stand out from the crowd, especially when mixed in a sea of blue as he was at Kauffman Stadium during the World Series. 

    The random Miami Marlins fan is back, with the best seat in the house.

    As we've learned in the weeks since, Leavy is more than just a random Miami Marlins fan. In fact, he may actually be the biggest Marlins fan around, in addition to being an all around sports fanatic. In addition to the World Series, we've also seen him at local sporting events cheering on the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins and the Florida State Seminoles football team.

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  • Pablo Sandoval favors Red Sox despite Padres higher bid — report

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Free-agent Pablo Sandoval is reportedly fielding offers from his top remaining suitors and could be set to make a final decision before Thanksgiving.

    According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, a major league source indicates the Boston Red Sox turned in their offer on Friday, setting the numbers at five years, $95 million. To the best of everyone's knowledge, that was the highest bid on the table. At least until Saturday afternoon. 

    John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the San Diego Padres have surprisingly topped Boston's offer, which would indicate they've surpassed $100 million. Still, Shea believes the offer would not be enough to sway Sandoval from going to Boston, who emerged as the strong favorite this week. 

    Also worth noting, Sandoval turned down San Francisco's $15.3 million qualifying offer. If he does sign elsewhere, the Giants will receive draft pick compensation. That's the good news for them. The better news for Sandoval, though, would be averaging at least $19 million a year. 

  • Curt Schilling's son brings fake grenade to Logan International Airport, bomb squad responds

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Former major league pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling has been in the news a lot lately under mostly bizarre circumstances.

    Chalk up another one in that column on Saturday after one of Schilling's three sons inadvertently put Boston's Logan International Airport on edge after blurting out that he'd left a fake hand grenade in his bag while standing in a security line. 

    Schilling himself shared the story on his social media accounts Saturday morning. He says that after catching wind of the comment, airport officials immediately called upon security protocol to secure the scene and make sure a real threat wasn't playing out. That included a bomb squad being brought to the scene to check the bag and give clearance. 

    Meanwhile, Schilling and his family were taken to a private room where they had to explain just what exactly was going on. 

    Start your day with this. Going through airport security. Son says "DAD! I think I lefts fake grenade in my bag" Belt stops, 15m later.....

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  • Twins win bid on Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    According to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minnesota Twins have emerged victorius in the bidding for Korean left-hander Hyeon-jong Yang, who was posted by the Kia Tigers three weeks ago.

    There's no word yet on what the winning bid was. The Twins will now have 30 days to work out a contract agreement with Yang. Berardino indicates a deal could be close, but in the case it isn't finalized  he'll go back to Korea and won't be eligible to be posted again until Nov. 1, 2015. 

    Yang, who will turn 27 in March,  was named the inaugural winner of the Choi Dong-won Award in 2014, which was created as the  Korean equivalent to the Cy Young Award.  Yang earned the award by going 16-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 29 starts. He struck out 165 and walked 77 while throwing a career-high 171 1/3 innings .

    Here's a better look at Yang's repertoire from a start earlier this season. 

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  • UCLA honors Jackie Robinson, renames sports facilities in tribute

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    On the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's enrollment at UCLA, athletic director Dan Guerrero announced that the university's 22 athletic facilities will be renamed the Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex, in lasting tribute to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.  

    The announcement was made at a special ceremony on Friday that celebrated the life and legacy of the four-sport standout.  Robinson played baseball, football and basketball and ran track at UCLA from 1939-41.

    Robinson’s No.42, will be placed in-ground at the entrance of each facility to remind students of his courage. That includes Pauley Pavilion, the John Wooden Center, and the J.D. Morgan Center, among others. UCLA's baseball stadium was already named after Robinson.

    From The Daily Bruin: 

    Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife, shares that love of UCLA. It was at the university where she first met Jackie Robinson and their life together began. She, too, was on hand to help with the unveiling. 

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  • White Sox reform 1-2 punch in signing Adam LaRoche to two-year, $25 million deal

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    The Chicago White Sox stayed active in free agency on Friday, inking first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million deal, according to a report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale

    LaRoche, 35, fills a couple of big needs that Sox general manager Rick Hahn was looking to address this winter. First and foremost, LaRoche brings left-handed power, having averaged 26 homers over his last three seasons with the Washington Nationals. His .256/.346/.458 batting line over that time frame  isn't eye-popping, but that would suffice as a complementary player to offensive centerpiece Jose Abreu.

    Abreu, of course, also factors into this deal in many ways. Not only does he have another proven run producer to help carry the offense, as a plus defender at first base, LaRoche also gives manager Robin Ventura options and opportunities to keep both guys fresh by limiting time in the field.  

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