- Mike Oz at Big League Stew18 hrs ago
It took only three starts for New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to look like an ace and etch his name into the MLB record books.
Tanaka turned in his first truly dominant performance Wednesday since coming to America and signing a $155 million deal with the Yankees. He struck out 10, allowed only two hits (both bunts) and kept the Chicago Cubs off the scoreboard in the Yankees' 3-0 win. In doing so, he became the most dominating new pitcher to arrive in MLB since Stephen Strasburg in 2010.
The fact that Tanaka's gem came against the Chicago Cubs, another of his suitors when he was sold to the U.S. by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan, only added to the Cubs' misery Wednesday. Tanaka chose The Big Apple over The Windy City, and he'll be the toast of the town in NYC soon enough if he continues to build on this early success.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew20 hrs ago
If any Minor League Baseball team is going to do a "Salute to Seinfeld Night," it oughta be the Brooklyn Cyclones, a short-season Single-A team. They're an affiliate of the Mets, Jerry Seinfeld's team of choice, and they're not terribly far away from Manhattan, where Seinfeld was mostly set.
It's not like they're a team from Florida.
Even with their territorial rights to "Seinfeld" — which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer — the Cyclones are going all out to create a night that might even make a Soup Nazi smile.
At the top of the "cool things" list is a Keith Hernandez "Magic Loogie" bobblehead that the first 2,500 fans will take home. Hernandez, of course, cameo'd on "Seinfeld" and was accused of spitting on Kramer and Newman.
From there, the Cyclones have a thorough list of special happenings scheduled for the game, including puffy shirts and Festivus poles. From their website:
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew22 hrs ago
George Springer got the call. The 24-year-old outfielder is joining the Houston Astros on Wednesday, the first of their prized prospects to get a big-league call-up. From an on-the-field perspective, Springer probably should have joined the team out of spring training, but the Astros kept him down to limit his big-league service time and buy themselves another year of club control.
The Astros are calling Wednesday #SpringerDay, so obviously the expectations are huge with their new outfielder.
In The Stew's new "Learn the Name" feature, we introduce you to Springer and project what kind of player he might be.Thu, Apr 175:10 PM PDTKansas City at HoustonPreview Game
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Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto dressed up like a Mountie for a hilarious interview last week on MLB Network's "Intentional Talk" where he sassed hosts Kevin Millar and Chris Rose. On Tuesday, MLB Network aired another interview with Votto, this one was much more somber and revealing, as he opened up about the sudden death of his father in 2008 and how it affected him.
Those are two sides of Joey Votto we don't usually see. We're used to another side of Votto — his workman-like approach to playing baseball. He's a former National League MVP whose patience and precision are among his top traits on a baseball field.
There are people in this country who will tell you that in 2014, we live in a post-racial America. We have a black president, the thinking goes, so therefore racism can't exist anymore.
Tell that to Hank Aaron, who is the subject of a new wave of racist hate mail this month, 40 years after he received floods of racist mail when he broke Babe Ruth's home-run record in 1974. The calendar may have a different year on it, and methods of sending racist prose might have changed — it can be emailed now — but the sentiment is unfortunately the same.
"Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur)'' a man named Edward says in an e-mail to the Braves front office and obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The El Paso Chihuahuas just started their first season in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, after having moved from Tucson and changed their namefrom the Padres. Everything is new for San Diego's Triple-A team — the name, logo and even the stadium they play in.
Also brand new: The Chihuahuas' mascot. His name is Chico. He was introduced Monday. And he's downright frightening.
Is it just me, or does Chico look like he needs his shots? When I think of Chihuahuas, I don't generally think of a dog that looks like it's going to corner me in a dark alley and eat my limbs for dinner. But when I look at Chico, I see a Chihuahua who needs his fix — perhaps of human blood.
Wives of St. Louis Cardinals players put on a benefit event called "Homers for Health" last week and part of that was a talent show called "The K Factor."
The two players who seemed most willing to embarrass themselves on stage in the name of a good cause were pitchers Adam Wainwright and Trevor Rosenthal, who sang a duet of "Love is an Open Door," a song from the popular Disney movie "Frozen."
It's ... well ... yeah.
Wainwright has been known to sing karaoke in the past. For example, belting out a rendition of "Achy Breaky Heart" by Miley Cyrus' dad at a charity event last season. Waino wore a glorious mullet too.
Wainwright carried Rosenthal in their "Frozen" performance, which is to be expected when the team's veteran ace is paired up with a young pitcher. It helps that Wainwright has three young daughters who are in prime "Frozen" age.
Oh, and hey, this happened too.
Add Matt Moore to the list. Tommy John surgery has been claiming pitchers across the league this spring, and Moore, the Rays' rising star, is next.
He was diagnosed recently with a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow and Moore, 24, was facing a decision whether to keep pitching, knowing a full tear was coming eventually, or selecting the safe route, surgery.
Pitchers have been in this predicament before. Adam Wainwright, for instance, pitched for years with a partial tear, before ultimately needing Tommy John surgery. New York Mets ace Matt Harvey faced a similar decision last fall, and choose surgery.
Moore opted for Tommy John after a throwing session Monday afternoon, telling Marc Tompkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
The Atlanta Braves entered the top of the eighth inning Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies ahead 2-1. Two innings and fIve homers later, the Braves left the field with a wild 9-6 win, sealed by a grand slam from Dan Uggla.
The Braves hit three homers in the top of the eighth, one each from Evan Gattis (who had a two-run homer earlier in the game too), Andrelton Simmons and Uggla. That gave Atlanta a 5-1 lead that the Phillies quickly erased with a two-run Marlon Byrd single and a three-run Domonic Brown homer in the bottom half of the inning.
With Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable after pitching three straight games, the team turned to Jake Diekman to protect their 6-5 lead in the ninth, but given the pace of things, that wasn't going to happen. With the bases loaded, Diekman managed to strike out Gattis. Phew.Thu, Apr 1710:05 AM PDTAtlanta at PhiladelphiaPreview Game
Yasiel Puig has never spoken publicly in too much detail about his journey from Cuba to America, a journey that, as we're learning now, could have cost him his life, or at least his baseball career.
Last July, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan gave us an inside account of one of Puig's many failed defection attempts. He was captured by the U.S. Coast Guard and spent nearly two weeks aboard a ship before being returned to Cuba.