Mark Townsend

  • Will Ferrell responds to criticism from John Madden over spring training stunt

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    If you were keeping score at home back on March 12, you can probably rattle off the exact order of events and appearances made by actor Will Ferrell during his five-stadium Cactus League tour. In one day, Ferrell achieved his goal of playing 10 different positions for 10 major league teams, and in the process raised an estimated $1 million for Cancer for College and Stand Up to Cancer.  

    The stunt was created for the right reasons. It didn't interfere with any meaningful games or take away opportunities from upcoming players. And overall, it made for a unique baseball experience and a fun break from the usually mundane routines of spring training. It was pretty much impossible to find a reason to hate the idea or its execution, even if you might be growing tired of Ferrell's comedic stylings.

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    Bah, humbug!

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  • Mike Trout robs a homer and hits a homer in big spring performance

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 hrs ago

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    There's midseason form and then there's Mike Trout's advanced version of midseason form that only the man himself can achieve. On Saturday, we were fortunate enough to experience the latter during the Angels 5-4 loss to the Dodgers. 

    In one afternoon at his Arizona office in Tempe, Trout took an apparent Dodgers' home run off the board with a leaping catch at the fence, and then a few short innings he put a home run on the board with an absolute rocket to left-center field. 

    First, let's dicuss the robbery. 

    In the very first inning, Trout glided back to the deepest part of the ballpark at Tempe Diablo Stadium and then timed his leap beautifully to take away what we're fairly certain would have been a home run from Alex Guerrero. Sometimes it's difficult to tell where exactly the ball was caught in relation to the wall from the front and side camera angles, but at worst he robbed a triple because that's a long way from home plate and Guerrero has some decent speed. 

    As for the home run. 

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    That was a no doubter off Dodgers starter Dustin McGowan.

  • A-Rod's third spring homer was his most impressive yet (Video)

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 hrs ago

    Saturday was a bad day to be a baseball in Florida

    In particular, the baseball that met the bat of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez had a rough ride out of George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, but at least it had a good view. 

    The home run was Rodriguez's third of the spring and it was easily his most impressive. 

    Rodriguez was sitting first-pitch baseball and got a first-pitch fastball from Baltimore Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, and then confirmed he still has the bat speed to square up a fastball and hit it a long ways.

    As many people have described it, it was a vintage A-Rod home run that absolutely exploded off his bat, which has to be viewed as an encouraging sign for anybody with a vested interest in the Yankees. 

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    Our suggestion: Just keep hitting titanic home runs, A-Rod. That is your surest ticket to 140 games. 

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  • Ichiro compares free agency experience to being 'a puppy at a pet shop'

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 8 hrs ago

    As a baseball player, Ichiro Suzuki is simply one of the best we've seen in the past 20 years. No one could possibly deny that. As a provider of memorable quotes, however, he just might be the most underrated athlete in the entire professional sports landscape.

    Lines like “If I'm in a slump, I ask myself for advice” and “I'll walk on my hands before I use crutches,” rank pretty closely with baseball's most quirky and quotable legends, such as Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel. He's a really clever guy whose sense of humor and undeniable charm translate well in any language or walk of life. He's just Ichiro, and that's always good enough for us.

    Perhaps that was good enough for the Miami Marlins as well. Back on Jan. 23, they reached a one-year agreement with the 41-year-old outfielder that will allow him to continue his career in the United States and continue his quest for 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball. 

    From the Wall Street Journal: 

  • A-Rod challenges Jeff Francoeur's arm, loses by notable margin

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 10 hrs ago

    If you had March 28 as the first day we'd truly question something Alex Rodriguez did on or off the field this spring, you'd be rolling in a lot of money.

    Things have been going very smoothly for A-Rod on basically every level, and they've gone especially well for him on the field. Well enough, in fact, that he may have the inside track to become the Yankees full-time designated hitter.

    That's a decision that will ultimately come down to manager Joe Girardi, with perhaps some influence from general manager Brian Cashman and others in the Yankees front office. Unfortunately, none of the above had any say over A-Rod's decision to challenge the cannon that long-time major league outfielder Jeff Francoeur possesses for a right arm during Friday's game in Clearwater.

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  • Masahiro Tanaka named Yankees' opening day starter

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    The New York Yankees entered spring training with more questions than answers regarding the outlook of their roster. Fortunately, the answers they're receiving so far have been mostly encouraging, and that continued on Friday with Joe Griardi's announcement that right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will get the opening-day pitching assignment.

    According to Girardi, Tanaka, who's pitching through a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, will be slightly limited when he takes the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. But he's in a better position than long-time ace CC Sabathia, who's coming back from July surgery on his right knee. 

    “When we came into spring training, our main focus was to make sure they were both healthy,” Girardi said of Sabathia and Tanaka, who are both coming back from major injuries. “We took it slow because of things they dealt with the year before.

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  • Marcus Stroman returning to college while recovering from knee injury

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    An unlucky and untimely setback on the baseball field is about to help Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman get one step ahead in the game of life.

    After suffering a torn left ACL during a pitchers' fielding drill on March 10 and subsequently being ruled out for the season, Stroman has decided to return to Duke University this summer with the intention of completing his degree.   

    I will be heading back to @DukeU this summer to finish my degree. Also, be able to rehab with some of the best doctors in the world! #HDMH

    Beyond excited for this time in my life. Being a college graduate was also priority. Little hiatus from baseball while I prepare for 2016!

    Don't think for a second that being in school will interfere with my baseball dreams. The motivation is at an all-time high. On a mission!

    Good for you, Marcus Stroman.

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  • Cubs hit four home runs against former ace Jeff Samardzija

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    To aptly describe the damage the Chicago Cubs did in their first-ever meeting against former ace Jeff Samardzija, the Associated Press may have to consider reinstating many of its banned home run terms.

    During Friday's Cactus League tilt at Sloan Park in Mesa, four different Cubs launched home runs against Samardzija, beginning with Jorge Soler's titanic two-run shot to the left-field berm in the first inning.

    Your browser does not support iframes. Talk about a rude welcome and powerful reminder of the future Samardzija won't be part of on the north side.

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    The deal couldn't have worked out any better for the Cubs. For Samardzija, another trade followed, this time to the south side of Chicago. But he still doesn't have that extension. 

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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  • Atlantic League will experiment with three-pitch walks, two-strike foul outs

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    If you like your baseball short and to the point, the independent Atlantic League has a forthcoming experiment you might find very appealing. 

    When the Long Island Ducks host the Bridgeport Bluefish on April 18, the most basic of baseball's rules will be rewritten with three-pitch walks and two-strike foul balls counting as outs.

    [Baseball is back! Check out Yahoo For Spring Training for great spring training pics.]

    Basically, we're talking about the implementation of slow-pitch softball rules — or something close to them — at the professional baseball level, with the intention to speed up the game by limiting each plate appearance to a maximum of five pitches.

    The league also utilized pinch runners for catchers as soon as they reached base, which allowed for greater speed on the bases, but more importantly allowed catchers to suit up quicker for the next half-inning.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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  • Jason Lane serves up monster homer to Yasiel Puig, hits homer of his own

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    The following is a public service announcement from Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

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    The message: Don't build your executive offices so close to home plate.

    We didn't hear an exact estimate of the distance, but that had to be at least a 460-foot ride for one of the most soundly struck baseballs we've seen all spring. 

    The two-run homer, which came complete with a signature Puig bat flip, happened during Wednesday's 9-5 victory against the San Diego Padres. And it came against a pitcher whose career has been notable for several unique reasons, including another chapter that was added in this same game. 

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    Unfortunately, the home run was one of three Lane allowed in the ballgame, which will greatly damage his chances. But Lane ended his day on a high note when he turned back the clock and connected for his first big league home run since Aug. 13, 2007. 

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