Big League Stew
Answer Man: Johnny Bench talks Mickey Mantle cards, catcher collisions and the 'Baseball Bunch' (but not Pete Rose)David Brown at Big League Stew4 hrs ago
Growing up in small-town Oklahoma and idolizing Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench had an idea at a young age that baseball would take him places. When he was nine, he played Little League with 12- and 13-year-olds. He was the state's player of the year as a senior in high school and a second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. That's probably the last time anyone underrated the Hall of Famer. A 14-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner and owner of 389 home runs, Bench became the greatest catcher in major league history.
At age 66, Bench still follows the game closely, rooting for the Reds and keeping watch on what's happening with new sliding/tagging rules, along with other progressive changes MLB is making. He's also involved with one of his favorite boyhood activities — opening packs of baseball cards — and doing publicity for Topps and its 2014 Series I cards. He talks about all of that and more in the latest Answer Man session. As a bonus, we've included 10 minutes of audio from Thursday, when Bench talked to Yahoo Sports Radio's Travis Rodgers about Mike Trout and how he compares to The Mick.Fri, Apr 1811:20 AM PDTCincinnati at Chi CubsPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
It was like something out of a Little League game: The Toronto Blue Jays blew a 5-3 eighth-inning lead against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday after giving up — are you ready for this? — six runs on eight walks, three wild pitches and a single hit.
One hit, six runs. That math shouldn't even compute. That's how epic of a bullpen catastrophe this was for Toronto. Three Blue Jays pitchers were part of the eight-inning abomination, including Sergio Santos, who let three consecutive runs score on wild pitches.
This is how the inning went down in the scorebook: walk, walk, sac bunt, walk, wild pitch (first run scores), walk and wild pitch (second run scores), walk and wild pitch (third run scores), walk, walk (fourth run scores), single (fifth and sixth runs score), walk, strike out, ground out.
Sheesh. You almost have to give the Blue Jays props for that. It's so bad it's spectacular.
After the game, Chris Colabello of the Twins, who was walk No. 7 of the inning, joked to reporters:Fri, Apr 184:05 PM PDTToronto at ClevelandPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
JAMES SHIELDS STRIKES OUT 12 IN ROYALS WIN: Well, hello there, James Shields. The Kansas City Royals ace had been a bit of a tough-luck loser in 2014, carrying a 0-2 record into Thursday's game despite a 2.37 ERA.
It all came together against the Houston Astros, though. The Royals gave Shields five runs by the fifth and he dominated the Houston lineup, striking out 12 batters while giving up only four hits and one run. At one point, Shields struck out seven consecutive batters.
''We were pounding the strike zone and getting strike one and getting ahead of the hitters and that's an aggressive team over there and when you get ahead in the count and make your pitches you're successful,'' he said after the game.
The Royals won 5-1, as Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar all drove in runs.Fri, Apr 187:05 PM PDTHouston at OaklandPreview Game
- David Brown at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
After missing most of the past two seasons because of catastrophic injuries to the same knee, Scott Sizemore returned to the majors just in time to help the New York Yankees turn a triple play. And at a position where Sizemore has practically no experience.
Playing first base for the first time in his professional career, a span of 659 games and eight-plus years, Sizemore made a terrific scoop of a relay throw by second baseman Brian Roberts to complete a 5-4-3 triple play against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sizemore's pick punctuated a 10-2 victory Thursday night for the Yankees and left-hander CC Sabathia.
The Yankees have turned 24 triple plays in their history, including three since 2010 with Sabathia on the hill.Fri, Apr 184:10 PM PDTNY Yankees at Tampa BayPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew19 hrs ago
"Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot."
If we told you a Secret Service agent uttered those words, you surely wouldn't be surprised. Protecting the president is their job. But if we told you a Secret Service agent uttered those words to a mascot with a giant baseball head, then the whole thing gets a whole lot more interesting, doesn't it?
AJ Mass portrayed Mr. Met from 1994-1997, and during that time, then-President Bill Clinton visited Shea Stadium for the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first MLB game. In his new book about being Mr. Met, "Yes, It's Hot In Here," Mass relays the story of Clinton's visit to Shea and how it allegedly led to a threat on Mr. Met's life.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew21 hrs ago
Here's one possible explanation for what happened in the second inning of Thursday's Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants game: Yasiel Puig is an incredibly self-aware performance artist, and he was making a point about his own duality on two fly balls the Giants hit to him in consecutive at-bats.
The easy out? He goes for a basket catch and drops it. You could hear baseball coaches everywhere starting their "use two hands" lecture. The ball hit over his head that looks destined for a double? He does his Puig thing and makes a wowing over-the-shoulder catch that ended the inning.
But Puig isn't a performance artist, he's a baseball player, a player who has proven time and time again that he's capable of incredible moments and incredibly confounding mistakes. Such is the frustration of No. 66. It's something the Dodgers know well at this point.
- David Brown at Big League Stew22 hrs ago
The rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers has prompted lots of fun, but also some unwanted behavior through the years by both groups of fans. Perhaps the most extreme example was the Bryan Stow beating at a Dodger Stadium parking lot.
What happened at AT&T Park on Wednesday night wasn't as damaging, yet it's still senseless and reflects badly on the baseball community at large. At least five people were injured after a fan threw a firework from the outfield bleachers onto a walkway near a beer concession stand about 9:30 p.m. local time. The explosion was so loud and produced enough smoke that umpires stopped the game between the Giants and Dodgers for a few moments.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the incident first:Fri, Apr 187:10 PM PDTSan Francisco at San DiegoPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
These days, Minor League Baseball teams come up with all sorts of interesting pop culture-inspired theme jerseys to wear — there's "Star Wars" and "Ghostbusters" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" this year alone. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Pawtucket Red Sox, however, are playing a game soon in which they wear jerseys inspired by real heroes, not super heroes.Fri, Apr 185:40 PM PDTPhiladelphia at ColoradoPreview Game
- David Brown at Big League Stew1 day ago
A Dude Fan Bro, possibly under the influence of alcohol, ran onto the field at Globe Life Park (where the Texas Rangers play) in the seventh inning Wednesday night. He ran around the outfield, briefly delaying the Rangers' turn at bat against the Seattle Mariners — and making an amusing pose with two thumbs up — before ballpark security corralled him like a steer at the rodeo. The Mariners seemed unhappy that a Dude Fan Bro interrupted the ballgame, as they seemed unwilling to give him advice as to how he should get out of his predicament. They got unhappier later after Leonys Martin won the game for Texas in its final at-bat.
Please enjoy a slideshow that captures the spirit on the moment while possibly taking certain liberties imagining what's going on in the minds of the people involved. Click on the photo above to begin.
UPDATE: Video of the Dude Fan Bro jumping onto the field is on YouTube.Fri, Apr 185:05 PM PDTChi White Sox at TexasPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew1 day ago
Los Angeles, like New York, is a big target in the sports world. Even when the pro sports teams of those cities aren't particularly good (we see you, New York Mets, and you too, Los Angeles Lakers), there's still a certain satisfaction that comes from your team beating them. Thus, the popularity of the "Beat L.A." sign.
If you're a San Francisco Giants fan, the "Beat L.A." idea is even more important, because the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are bitter rivals, whose every meeting feels important, even if it's the 15th game of the season, in April. So, Giants fans show up to the stadium, full of gusto, ready to inspire their team to topple those big-spending boys in blue.
And just what did the Giants fans do Wednesday night? They spelled out "B-A-E-T L.A."
Spelling is hard. pic.twitter.com/vesrix4129
Sigh. Warren G probably thought it was fine, though.