Big League Stew

  • World Baseball Classic 2017: Can the Dominican Republic repeat as champion?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 13 hrs ago

    From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. Today’s entry: Dominican Republic.

    The Dominican Republic has one thing in mind entering the 2017 World Baseball Classic: Repeat.

    After becoming only the second country to win the Classic in 2013, this well-rounded team has an opportunity to repeat history by joining Japan as back-to-back WBC champions.

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    Is anyone willing to bet against them?

    With the return of several All-Stars, including Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, and Nelson Cruz, and a young core led by Manny Machado, this squad is primed to do something very special. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem either. The WBC is clearly a priority for many of the country’s top players, and they aren’t just coming to hang out. They’re coming to win, and, in this instance, continue asserting  dominance.

    THREE BIG QUESTION ABOUT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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  • Sonny Gray not eligible for WBC after being denied insurance coverage

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 15 hrs ago

    Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray has been forced to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic after being denied insurance coverage for the event.

    Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the ruling stems from Gray’s time spent on the disabled list last season. Gray was on the DL for more than 60 days last year and he didn’t play in more than 10 innings after coming off the DL at the end of the season. That put him in the category of a “chronic condition player,” which prevented him from qualifying.

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    “I know Sonny’s bummed,” Oakland general manager David Forst said Sunday. “He wanted to pitch and we were excited to let him do that.

    Earlier this spring, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin was denied eligibility for the WBC based on similar criteria.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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  • Daniel Bard's comeback bid is gaining momentum

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 16 hrs ago

    For a time, Daniel Bard was one of baseball’s most effective and feared relievers.

    Now the 31-year-old right-hander is scratching and clawing for one more opportunity in the big leagues, which he hopes will come this season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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    For the first time in a long time, there seems to be real optimism that Bard’s goal can be achieved. This stems from a recent workout where he impressed on-lookers with his velocity and command.

    According to Hall of Fame writer and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons, Bard’s fastball still has the same zip that once made him a top prospect and then a top setup man with the Boston Red Sox. Of greater significance, though, is that he appeared to have harnessed the control issues that threatened to drive him out of MLB for good.

    Here’s a look at the video.

    — Gammons Daily (@GammonsDaily) February 24, 2017

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  • Spring Training 2017: Michael Bourns adds name to weird injury list

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Welcome to The Stew’s Spring Headlines, our daily look at the biggest MLB stories and news items from around spring training. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    WEIRD INJURY OF THE DAY: Orioles outfielder Michael Bourn will be sidelined four weeks with a broken ring finger on his right hand.

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    That sounds bad enough, but it’s slightly more painful when you hear how the injury occurred.

    Bourn injury happened at end of yesterday's workout. Catching football. Players do that as part of workout. #orioles

    — Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) February 25, 2017

    OSCAR PICKS: It’s that time of year again. With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, veteran reliever John Axford has released his picks the prestigious movie awards.

  • Royals and Rangers pay tribute to Yordano Ventura before spring opener

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Saturday was a bittersweet day in Surprise, Ariz.

    As the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers took the field for their Cactus League opener, there were mixed feelings and emotions.

    Sure, the excitement that’s always attached to the first spring training game was palpable. The hope that always exists when a new season dawns was there too. But there was also a degree of emptiness. That’s because everyone knew that something, or more specifically someone, was missing.

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    Yordano Ventura tribute here in Surprise pic.twitter.com/pBaHJDx8mO

    — Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) February 25, 2017

    As part of a special pregame ceremony, a video tribute to Ventura aired on the stadium’s videoboard.

    It was a wonderful gesture.

    — Texas Rangers (@Rangers) February 25, 2017

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  • World Baseball Classic 2017: Can Cuba win without its MLB stars?

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. Today’s team: Cuba.

    On paper, Team Cuba should be loaded. Over the past few years, a number of exceptional Cuban players have come to the United States and dominated Major League Baseball.

    Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu won the Rookie of the Year award. New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and his 105-mph heat are coming off a World Series title. Yoenis Cespedes has blossomed into a superstar with the Mets. The list goes on and on.

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    There’s one big problem, though. None of those players are eligible to participate for Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. The country has a rule that states players who defected from the country cannot participate with the team. That means Team Cuba will be made up of relative unknowns, at least to a U.S. audience.

    THREE BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT CUBA

  • Hartford's minor league stadium focus of reported FBI investigation

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The strange saga surrounding the construction of Dunkin’ Donuts Park has added another layer.

    According to the Hartford Courant, the city’s publicly funded minor-league park is now the focus of an investigation being conducted by the FBI.

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    The Courant story notes that details of the investigation have not been released by the FBI or the office of U.S. Attorney Dierdre M. Daly. However, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin told the paper he believes the investigation is focused on Centerplan Construction Co., which originally oversaw the stadium’s development.

    Centerplan has since been fired due to cost overruns and other issues that have delayed the stadium’s construction and pushed back its opening. The Courant estimates that the stadium has already cost Hartford $71M, which far exceeds the initial estimate of $56M.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • Javier Baez commemorates Cubs’ championship with impressive tattoo

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series and Javier Baez is never going to let us forget that.

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    Baez, who blossomed before our eyes during the Cubs historic postseason run, now sports a large but impressive tattoo on his upper left arm that will forever commemorate the team’s accomplishment and the ending of the franchise’s 108-year championship drought.

    #Cubs Baez has new tattoo, just finished it last night pic.twitter.com/mwxGJfT2Fi

    — Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 24, 2017

    We might have actually undersold it by describing it as large.

    That tattoo, which was completed on Thursday, will be impossible to miss anytime Baez goes sleeveless. It’s just too bad it won’t be on display all that often while the Cubs are on the field.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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  • Red Sox stars light up basketball court with crazy long-distance shots

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Spring training is in full swing now, which means the regular season is within sight.

    Of course, also within sight is the NCAA basketball tournament, which always serves as a nice lead-in to what we consider the main event of sports seasons.

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    As the anticipation and excitement build for both events, it’s only appropriate that members of the Boston Red Sox took to the court at Florida Gulf Coast University to show off their basketball skills.

    Chris Sale, who posted an 11-0 record pitching at FGCU in 2010, was likely able to get the keys to the gym. He was joined by Joe Kelly and Hanley Ramirez, and they lit it up with some pretty impressive long-distance shooting.

    First, here’s Sale swishing a half-court shot with relative ease.

    — Michael Tolvo (@mtolvo21) February 24, 2017

    Then Hanley Ramirez followed with a half-court shot of his own.

    Interesting form, but it worked.

    Wow.

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  • Brewers prospects pay homage to 'Wayne's World' in most excellent video

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    In the category of best movie remake by a pair of baseball prospects, the Oscar goes to Brett Phillips and Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers.

    The duo recently teamed up to pay homage to the classic film “Wayne’s World,” which was released 25 years ago on Valentine’s Day.

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    For the record, the movie actually made its big-screen debut before either player was born (1994 for both), but that hasn’t stopped them from loving the film and it didn’t stop them from producing a hilarious remake titled “Brett’s World.”

    It is most excellent, we assure you.

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    That’s Phillips in the role of Wayne Campbell, who was originally portrayed by Mike Myers. Hader stands in perfectly as Garth Gorrall, who was brought to life by Dana Carvey.

    There’s so much to enjoy here.

    Trust us, it works.

    Oh, and yes, we even got a top ten list of all-time baseball movies.

    We’re not worthy of the greatness we’ve just witnessed.