Big League Stew
- Yahoo Sports Staff at Big League Stew57 mins ago
Editor's note: Most teams in MLB have passed the 81-game mark of their seasons, so The Stew is spending this week looking back at the first half of 2015.
We all love a good surprise and, in sports, we love them even more. That's why the Kansas City Royals were the feel-good underdogs of 2014. And why there are people outside of Houston hoping that the Astros can keep up their surprising success of 2015.
In the first installment of our midseason review, we looked at the biggest stories of the season. Some people were stumped that the Astros didn't get any love. We were just saving it for this post. Here are our five biggest surprises of 2015, including the Astros and beyond.
THE ASTROS The Houston Astros haven't posted a winning record since 2008. In fact, the team lost at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons. In three of those four seasons, the club piled up more than 100 losses. For those reasons, the Astros have to be viewed as the biggest surprise of 2015.LiveTampa Bay4 - 5Kansas CityFollow Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
No, those weren't diehard St. Louis Cardinals fans who walked into a Starbucks near Wrigley Field in full uniform Tuesday. Those were actual members of the St. Louis Cardinals sent on a coffee run in their baseball gear.
Why? Because they're rookies, of course. Let's scope it out, thanks to these photos from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The players in question are Marcus Hatley, Miguel Socolovich and Mitch Harris. Assistant bullpen catcher Kleininger Teran was sent with them. It was a good day for a Starbucks run, since the Cardinals and Cubs are playing two Tuesday. Goold writes that veteran Mark Reynolds was most likely the organizer and explains the scene in the St. Louis clubhouse:Tue, Jul 78:05 PM EDTSt. Louis at Chi CubsPreview Game
- Israel Fehr at Big League Stew4 hrs ago
Jonathan Papelbon hopes that next week's All-Star game isn't the last time he takes the field alongside All-Star teammates this season.
On the day he was named to the Midsummer Classic for the sixth time in his career, Papelbon reiterated his desire for a trade from the last-place Philadelphia Phillies before the July 31 trade deadline. As he has been saying for over a year now, he wants to pitch for a team that has a shot to play in October.Tue, Jul 710:10 PM EDTPhiladelphia at LA DodgersPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
For the baseball fan who has to rep their favorite team on everything, even their headphones, comes this: a limited-edition line of headphones that's a collaboration between Beats By Dr. Dre and MLB.
The baseball logo-emblazoned Beats were announced Tuesday, featuring five teams plus a set decorated in honor of this year's All-Star game in Cincinnati. The teams aren't surprising, considering what we know about market size and merchandise popularity. The five teams picked are the ones that sell best: the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants. The All-Star version is available now. The others are available for pre-order. Here's a look:
- Israel Fehr at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
You don't see this happen very often.
San Fransisco Giants right-hander Chris Heston saw Curtis Granderson creeping off first base in the third inning of their game against the Mets on Monday night and attempted a pickoff throw hoping to keep Granderson honest.
That's not the part that's unusual.
Unfortunately for Heston, first baseman Brandon Belt was nowhere near the bag. With a full count and two outs, Belt had assumed his position behind the runner when Heston threw over. The ball bounced off the wall and Granderson wound up safe at second base. Heston was charged with an error and filled with embarrassment.
Granderson deserves at least a little share of shame too. Even though there was no one covering first, he still instinctively dove back into first trying to avoid a tag that was never going to come because there wasn't anyone there to make it.
There was sure a lot of bad on this play.Tue, Jul 710:15 PM EDTNY Mets at San FranciscoPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew14 hrs ago
Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.
Chris Sale was four strikeouts shy of history Monday night — and that wasn't the only thing that was short.
Sale and the Chicago White Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays by the count of 4-2 in a game that lasted just one hour and 55 minutes, making it the shortest MLB game in four years. Don't attribute this to those new pace-of-play rules, rather it's what happens when Sale and Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle, two brisk workers on the mound, are matched up against each other.Tue, Jul 78:10 PM EDTToronto at Chi White SoxPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew14 hrs ago
If you were rooting for anarchy to break out on MLB's All-Star roster announcement day, then you were disappointed to learn that Alex Rodriguez was named neither an AL All-Star reserve Monday, nor was he one of the five competitors put in the "Final Vote" race.
Has A-Rod been good enough to warrant All-Star inclusion? That's quite debatable, but some people think so. His OPS, for example, is .902 and that's 14th best in baseball, better than All-Star starters Josh Donaldson, Buster Posey, Albert Pujols and Lorenzo Cain. A-Rod's hitting .284 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs. Pretty good. Better than almost anybody expected from him.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew15 hrs ago
The process by which we determine who starts the MLB All-Star game is completely up to fans. If you've been paying attention the last two months, you know this quite well. It was hard to miss all the handwringing about how many Kansas City Royals players might start because of their fans' feverish online ballot-stuffing.
In the end, four Royals were voted as starters — catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon. As many as eight Royals were leading their positions just a few weeks ago, so four Royals seems like a fair enough compromise between over-eager K.C. clicksters and the rest of baseball.
But you know who wasn't nearly as keen on Kansas City's All-Star class? MLB players.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew16 hrs ago
Certainly no one expects much from Jon Lester at the plate. He's a pitcher who spent his entire career in the American League before joining the Chicago Cubs this season. Still, Lester held the dubious honor of the most at-bats to start a career without a hit. We're talking the longest in the history of baseball.
Lester was 0-for-66 for his career when he stepped to the plate Monday night against St. Louis Cardinals starter (and former teammate) John Lackey. Lester put a good swing on Lackey's offering and smacked it back at the mound, where it ricocheted off Lackey. Lester arrived safely at first base, with a history-beating base hit.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew20 hrs ago
The wait is over! At long last, the full All-Star rosters have been revealed. Don't worry, though, there are still plenty of things to debate. Which pitchers should get the starting nod? Who should win the final vote? Why did your favorite player get snubbed?
Let's start to answer those questions by looking at the rosters. First, we'll kick things off in the National League:
The full 2015 National League All-Star Roster: pic.twitter.com/BY9sNI4IvM
And now, the American League:
The full 2015 American League All-Star Roster: pic.twitter.com/WC6XL1LFuc
Remember, pitchers and reserves are picked by the players and the managers of the game. In this case, that means Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost had a major hand in determining which players came along.
Were you glad fan voting was over? Well, don't get too comfortable. The final vote candidates appear at the bottom of those lists. Fans will have until Friday to cast their votes for the most deserving player.
In the NL, that includes Johnny Cueto, Jeurys Familia, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Martinez and Troy Tulowitzki.