- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew2 hrs ago
The Miami Marlins were optimistic that slugger Giancarlo Stanton would return to the lineup this season despite suffering multiple fractures, dental damage and a laceration from being hit in the face by a Mike Fiers 88-mph pitch.
That optimism disappeared on Wednesday, however, as the team announced Stanton will be shut down for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Giancarlo Stanton will miss the remainder of this season. He is expected to be ready for spring training. #GetWellGiancarlo
Despite missing what will amount to 17 games, Stanton stands a pretty good chance to hold on as the NL's home run king. He'll finish the season with 37 homers. Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo is second with 31 homers, but he's been slowed recently by a back issue, making it unlikely that he'll go on a major tear over Chicago's final 11 games. Lucas Duda of the Mets checks in third with 27 home runs.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
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Major League Baseball didn't waste any time suspending Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon seven games for making what they determined to be a lewd gesture, as well as a not so swift or elegant exit on Sunday afternoon. However, punishment for umpire Joe West, who ejected Papelbon for the gesture and later grabbed him by the uniform to extract him from their heated confrontation, was a little slower to come.
That changed on Wednesday, as the league officially announced West will be suspended one game for initiating contact with Papelbon.
Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, issued the following statement in regards to West's suspension.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew20 hrs ago
The Washington Nationals are back on top in the NL East following a disappointing 2013 that found them on the outside looking in during the postseason.
Under rookie manager Matt Williams, the Nationals rebounded and separated themselves from the pack in a division that proved more competitive than most anticipated. Washington's playoff ticket was punched Tuesday night as they knocked off their nearest competitor and the team that unseated them in 2013, the Atlanta Braves, 3-0 at Turner Field.
The division championship is Washington's second, both of which have come in the last three seasons. Washington won 98 games in 2012, but fell 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals in a disappointing NLCS showing. Now they have a chance to redeem themselves for two seasons of falling short on expectations.
Before that journey begins though, here's a look back at five key factors that have led to their success in 2014.
All of the aces
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
The Baltimore Orioles were built to contend in 2014. It just seemed like they were built to contend in the wrong division at the wrong time.
The Boston Red Sox were coming off a World Series championship and looked just as good on paper. The New York Yankees signed Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, and though they had obvious holes on offense, everyone expected them to be filled adequately eventually. The Toronto Blue Jays were disappointing in 2013, but a bounce back was anticipated. And the Tampa Bay Rays are always there, waiting to strike when given an opening.
Yet here the Orioles are, popping champagne bottles on Sept. 16, with 12 days remaining in the regular season. The AL East is theirs following an 8-2 victory over the second-place Blue Jays. Their ticket to the ALDS is officially punched, which barring a big letdown they will host.
They are, arguably, the best story heading into October, and here are five big reasons why they have been able to shock the baseball world.
The signing of Nelson CruzLiveToronto1 - 6BaltimoreFollow Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
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As Derek Jeter's final season winds down, only three stops remain on his farewell tour. Wednesday night will mark Jeter's final game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, and on Tuesday the Tampa Bay Rays joined the rest of baseball in honoring Jeter with a series of parting gifts.
In perhaps the most touching presentation during Jeter's final campaign, Don Zimmer's widow Soot Zimmer was joined on the field by Rays veterans Evan Longoria and Jose Molina. Together, they presented Jeter with a framed No. 66 Zimmer jersey, which we're guessing will immediately shoot to the top of Jeter's favorite gifts list.
Soot Zimmer is here. Jeter is being presented with a framed Don Zimmer No. 66 jersey.
Every fantasy football league has that guy who either holds up the draft, or doesn't pay his dues on time. If you're unfortunate enough, sometimes you'll have both. Apparently, outfielder Jayson Werth was the latter guy in the Nationals team fantasy football league last season, and according to league commissioner and Nationals reliever Craig Stammen, it cost Werth his valuable spot in the league for 2014.
While making a radio appearance with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Thursday, Stammen revealed that Werth was way late paying his league dues. As in, months after the football season ended. And, as a result, Werth was not invited back.
“We kicked Jayson Werth out of the league this year,” Stammen said. “Jayson failed to pay last year. He didn’t pay until spring training, so we kicked him out of the league for late payment.”
Now that's a commissioner who's willing to put his foot down.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates broke camp in March, they didn't have a clear position in mind for Josh Harrison. His versatility — he plays all three outfield position and three-fourths of the infield — guaranteed he'd receive plenty of playing time, but when or where it would come was not set in stone.
As it goes in baseball, things tend to change quickly. By the end of April, Harrison was playing every day in right field while the Pirates waited for top prospect Gregory Polanco to develop in Triple-A. By July, his numbers clearly justified his first All-Star selection, which Harrison received.
With Pittsburgh's outfield getting healthy and in order following the break, Harrison was transitioned again, this time to third base in place of Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez, who led the NL in home runs in 2013, first lost his position due to prolonged defensive struggles, and then suffered an injury that will keep him out for the season.
So now it's solely up to Harrison to man the hot corner, and like every other assignment Pittsburgh has given him, he's making sure the job gets done right.
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It would appear Logan Morrison made an unnecessary turn somewhere around Aberdeen (Washington, that is).
Either that, or he was just a little too aggressive attempting to break up an inning-ending double play on Saturday night in Seattle.
We'll go with the latter, but admittedly it took a few seconds for it to settle in that Morrison literally slid 6-8 feet away from the second base bag, directly into Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was attempting to dodge contact and turn a double play.
Lowrie ended up eating the baseball rather than attempting to throw and ultimately getting scraped off the dirt. Needless to say, he made the right decision. However, the umpiring crew - particularly Brian Gorman, who was manning second base - seemed to struggle with the reality of Morrison's aggression, and at least initially didn't rule interference.
That would obviously change after A's manager Bob Melvin ran out and alerted the crew that Morrison was sliding to a base that didn't exist.
Atlanta Braves shortshop Andrelton Simmons has shown he can make every play on the infield, often with relative ease due to his next-level athleticism and cannon-like right arm.
At this point, there's really no way to successfully challenge him when he's in his domain, so it appears Simmons is now challenging himself by expanding his jurisdiction to areas far away from his home position.
For example, during Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, Simmons decided to pursue Michael Choice's popup into shallow center field. It wasn't hit hard, but it was hit high, allowing Simmons to gain ground quickly. Center fielder Emilio Bonafacio ran a long ways, too, and was in position to make the play. Given that he's the captain of the outfield, it really should have been his play to make. However, he gave way to Simmons, whose back was completely to the infield.
It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and quite frankly it probably would have been with just about any other shortstop. Just not Simmons. He snatched the ball out of the air, and then instinctively spun and fired a rocket to first base nearly doubling off Luis Sardinas.
One of the big concerns with Major League Baseball mandating the installation of metal detectors at every stadium beginning in 2015 is how it will impact fans getting into the stadium in a timely manner.
Those concerns certainly won't be quieted after Saturday. Not after a full security screening at Miller Park in Milwaukee — which would probably be considered a test run — produced long lines outside the stadium, and even led to the start of the game being delayed 15 minutes to accommodate fans who were still waiting as the scheduled start time neared.
The start of the Brewers game tonight has been pushed 15 minutes to help allow fans to get through enhanced MLB security measures.
That's obviously problematic, though with a pushed up Saturday start of 6:05 locally it's not as big of a deal as delaying a weeknight 7:05 game.