Well, the big topic of this past week has simply been pitchers plunking batters. Cole Hamels plunking Bryce Harper on purpose, Jordan Zimmermann plunking Cole Hamels. Down in Houston, we saw Wilton Lopez plunking Hanley Ramirez and then attempted to subtly mock him on this way back to the dugout. Even in Braves country we saw things getting a little testy with the Cubs when Tommy Hanson plunked Reed Johnson, Jeff Samardzija plunked Jason Heyward, and Eric O'Flaherty plunked David DeJesus.
The eye test spontaneously leads to believe that there have been a lot more plunkings going on this year, or rather the ones we're seeing that are questionable to whether they're deliberate, retaliatory or completely accidental. The bottom line is that we've been seeing a whole lot more plunking going on this year than what may seem normal. However, looking at the numbers, at the time I'm writing this, the National League has had approximately 130 HBPs since the start of the season. Seems like a lot, doesn't it?
In April/March 2011, the National League committed 126 HBPs alone. And then 134 in May. Ouch. Turns out that regardless of the ones that may seem intentional, it appears that the control of pitching in 2012 is vastly superior than it was a year ago.
But anyway, I got nothing else. This weekend is nothing but a hurdle for me to traverse while I wait for next weekend, when I get to do some cool stuff. But at least there's a Brian McCann bobblehead and Julio Teheran pitching in Gwinnett in it for me tonight, since I have DISH Network, and don't get Peachtree TV, meaning I can't watch the Atlanta Braves game in St. Louis. Welcome back to the basement.
"I was trying to hit him," the Philadelphia lefty said. "I'm not going to deny it."
A lot of it has to do with typical rookie "welcoming," some of it trying to bring him back to earth for being who he is, and some probably has to do with the fact that the Nationals took the first two games of the series with the Phillies, before Hamels got the ball. Either way, at the time of this being written, suspension is only theoretical.
Yep, suspended for five games - Phillies Nation
Naturally this means at the very worst nothing really happens except that Hamels might "have to" rest an extra day.
Jim Leyland thinks he should've been suspended way more - Crossing Broad
"I think five games is way too light," Leyland said. "Personally, if I was making that vote, it would be a 15-game suspension — at least.
Pretty much anything pertaining to Jim Leyland, now that's old school.
Charlie Manuel wishes Hamels weren't so honest about it - High Cheese
"What I saw was the next time up Hamels came up to bat they definitely retaliated, he got hit on the calf, and he could have got hurt. If the guy would have hit him hard on the bone part of his leg, that could have hurt. . .I like to think it was dropped right there and the rest of it will be done baseball wise."
In other words, if it were accidental, the matter is a done deal with the one retaliatory plunk, but with Hamels coming out and saying it was deliberate, it could lead to business being unfinished.
Twitter fight!!! - Crossing Broad
Former player, Morgan Ensberg decided to tweet out his disdain for Cole Hamels actions. Former teammate of Ensberg, current teammate of Cole Hamels, Chad Qualls does his best justin impression and rides in on his virtual white horse. And there are no winners but the spectators.
Obviously, Phillies fans still made it into Nationals Park - NY Times
Well duh. It's kind of impossible to keep every single Phillies fan out of the park, when there's money to be made. But the point is kind of missed here - the weekend was moderately successful for the Nationals, as the overall sentiment throughout the weekend was that despite the best efforts of visitors, Nationals fans successfully outnumbered Phillies visitors in all three games. Regardless, if I could get on a soap box for a sec, I don't think Phillies fans quite understand how ugly it looks with these so-called invasions. The Yankees draw busloads of New Yorkers into Baltimore when playing the O's, and although it's acknowledged, it rarely makes the mainstream like this does. During the NFL season, Eagles fans often march into Baltimore or Washington when they play the Ravens or Redskins, and it doesn't make this kind of news. There's something about declaring invasion and giving off the impression that the mission is to ruin the time of the locals and little else, that lots of Phillies fans don't seem to see, is looking really bad.
This guy gets it - Crashburn Alley
And, in case you haven’t checked the trendlines recently, the time to show grace in victory may be running out.
Although I disagree with this notion; it's probably out of time, and probably when people started declaring Washington "CBP South." Locals don't seem to like it when outsiders claim their land.
Non HBPgate/Ballgate or whatever you want to call it stories:
Blue Jays put trade feelers out for Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino - Beerleaguer
With the Phillies currently in last place, the Blue Jays have decided to take the initiative and put their feelers out to gauge some interest if the Phillies were to rent out Cole Hamels and/or Shane Victorino, both of whom are eligible free agents after the 2012 season. Interestingly enough, there has been no cliched mentions of Ruben Amaro laughing at anyone, or hanging up any phones on anyone, either.
How many injuries is it going to take before the Phillies essentially have to forfeit a game or two? - Phillies Zone
Now these aren't dire injuries so much as a lot of precautionary aches and pains, but I actually don't like hearing about these. This all kind of sets up for an amazing Phillies second-half comeback, where they go bonkers in September, and take the division again or something. And this just sets the stage for Phillies fans to gloat about how crappy they were in May.
After getting swept by the Mets at home lol, Charlie Manuel prompts closed-door meeting - CSN Philly
None of us probably has to really think too hard about what this was all about.
Jonathan Papelbon by the book - Phillies Zone
You know the funny thing is that this kind of behavior is exactly how Fredi Gonzalez is utilizing Craig Kimbrel, and to some extent, Jonny Venters, too. The only difference is that the Braves offense has been a little bit better at regaining leads and creating save situations for Kimbrel and Venters to get use, than the Phillies have been so far.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo livid at Cole Hamels' intentional plunk, calls him all sorts of things - Nationals Journal
"Fake tough," "gutless," and look at that, another organization not the Braves throwing the "class" card at the Phillies. Anger aside, he wants Hamels to face suspension and other things said out of anger.
Then gets fined by MLB for being too candid - Nats Insider
In a way, it's kind of a good thing that Rizzo did it, especially before Harper could have a chance to open his mouth. It's like he set the precedent of saying a whole bunch of dumb and emotionally charged things, and took it all away from Harper, giving him no other choice but to be calm and mature about it. The fine is an undisclosed amount.
THE TRUTH REVEALED; It was Bryce Harper's beard that caused the beaning - The Bog
I wish that headline were more fictional than it actually is, but there are apparently some behavioral anthropologists or something that honestly think Cole Hamels was influenced by Bryce Harper's chin scruff or whatever facial hair he had on Sunday which unconcsiously cause him to bean him on purpose.
"[I'm not mad] at all," Harper said. "He is a great guy, great pitcher, he knows how to pitch, he is an All-Star.
Smart move. Regardless of being the innocent party, nothing good comes out of verbally declaring REVENGEEEE while you're still the wet-behind-the-ears rookie that everyone wants to see fail.
Bryce Harper also took home too - Nats Enquirer
Lost in the HBPgate is the fact that ultimately, Bryce Harper got the last laugh when not only did he score after getting put on base, he did it in the most incredulous manner there really is; stealing home.
Boswell seems to think that getting plunked is going to make Harper make the Phillies his Mets like he were Chipper Jones - WaPo
As nice as a thought that would be, come on through, it's been like what, eleven games?
Charlie Manuel doesn't believe that Jordan Zimmermann's beaning of Hamels wasn't intentional - Nationals Journal
Hard to say, Zimmermann says it wasn't, and when he nailed Hamels, it was in the leg, while he was trying to bunt, while the Nationals were already down. Retaliatory HBPing isn't ever a good idea when you're the team that's down, and I'd imagine Jordan Zimmermann is smart enough to know that, regardless of what Cholly thinks.
Jayson Werth breaks his left wrist - Nats Insider
Also lost in HBPgate is that Jayson Werth broke his left wrist, trying to make a sliding catch in Sunday's game. After having successful surgery, he'll likely be out for at least three months.
Phillies fans cheer for and taunt Werth injury, pisses him off - Nationals Journal
Look, I may root and cheer against the opposition, but I don't really want to see anyone get hurt. But apparently, there were a lot of Phillies fans in D.C. that were cheering and taunting for Werth after he had to be removed from the game from what ended up being the broken wrist. Needless to say, he wasn't happy about it:
"After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again,"
Non HBPgate/Ballgate or whatever you want to call it stories:
Werth injury will not prompt team to seek outfield reinforcements - Nationals Journal
It's funny, because Bryce Harper was called up to fill a void in the outfield from the performances of Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady. But with Werth out for the next few months, Bryce Harper will take right field, vacating, a void in left field which would be filled by Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady. The team has no plans to find anyone else.
Except there's discussion about the Nationals eyeing Angels' Peter Bourjos - MASN
It makes sense though, since the Angels have a surplus of outfielders now that Mike Trout is up, and the heavy contracts of Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells are weighing down the corners.
Bryce Harper botches outfield throw, Davey Johnson throws vets under the bus - Nationals Journal
Harper airmails a throw that obviously can't catch the speedy Jose Tabata instead of hitting the cutoff man. The result of the action is that Andrew McCutchen advances to second on the single. Naturally, McCutchen ends up scoring on another base hit, but wouldn't have been the case had he remained at first. Maybe it's because Adam LaRoche doesn't factor to be on the team next year, and possibly the same for Jesus Flores, but Davey Johnson has no qualms with placing the blame on them over Harper.
Former Braves closer Mike Gonzalez signs minor league deal with Nationals - MASN
I want to make a remark about how he'd be writhing and gyrating on the mound for Harrisburg or Syracuse, but I remember he seemed to have dropped such habits like he dropped the Braves a few years ago. Last seen giving up a moonshot to Albert Pujols in the 2011 World Series, I'm still positive that Gonzo will yield better results for the Nats than Chad Durbin is doing for the Braves.
Chien-Ming Wang's rehab still being milked, next stop, Syracuse - Nationals Journal
I can't remember the specific amount of time a player is allowed to be on a rehab tour, but whatever it is, expect the Nationals to milk it to its very last second with Wang.
Despite Ozzie's endorsement, Heath Bell no longer Marlins' closer - Palm Beach Post
Word to the wise, if Ozzie Guillen even talks about you, you're probably under scrutiny, in some way of form. So when he said he was sticking with Bell, it clearly meant "until he blows one more save, and then that m*********** is out."
To no surprise, Bell is being a good sport about it - Fish Bytes
Obviously not happy, Heath Bell is accepting of his fate. He wants his job back, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it:
If he pitches me the first inning, second inning, ninth inning, it doesn't matter. When Ozzie puts me out there to pitch I'm going to go out there and shove it up whoever I'm facing. That's pretty much it.
Is Carlos Zambrano truly back? - Fish Stripes
If you're fans of stats like FIP and SIERA, such results indicate that Big-Z is indeed on pace for a productive season. Zambrano attributes it to rekindling his faith while suspended for most of last season. Seems to work for lots of pro athletes.
Marlins have their best road trip ever - Fish Bytes
Don't look now, but the Marlins just completed an 8-1 road trip, which is the best in franchise history. Also remember, the Marlins won just four games last May. Four.
Hanley Ramirez's transition surprising lots of his critics - Sun Sentinel
In his first 30 games at the hot corner, HanRam has only committed one error out of 71 chances. Now most of us here agree that fielding percentage isn't that important, but I would have bet on a harder transition than this has been.
Marlin antics already getting under the skin of some other teams - Marlins Diehards
If you haven't been paying attention, whenever a Marlin player does something good, they do this motion with their fingers, making a V with their index and middle fingers, and putting it across their eyes, like Uma Thurman dancing in Pulp Fiction or the Bat-Tussi from the 60's Batman show. "Lo viste" is what it symbolizes or rather "did you see that?" As if the Marlins need their own HBPgate, the Astros' Wilton Lopez plunks HanRam, and on his way out, gives the lo viste motion to him, kind of indicating that his actions were deliberate. Oooooo....
Four damn inches - Fish Bytes
That's it. Giancarlo's hands are back four more inches, and then bam, he's hitting moon shots all over the place again. That's all it took. Four damn inches.
Well that was a quick call up - Palm Beach Post
Bryan Petersen and Dan Jennings barely had time to take a sip of their respective coffees before they were sent back to AAA. Due to some pitching woes, Chris Hatcher and Sandy Rosario were called back up.
You guys thought "BARVES" were bad? - Marlins Diehards
Apparently a team in the Mexican winter leagues doesn't really put much effort into lifting an existing MLB identity, but the difference is that these are full on jerseys and hats, and not just some hipster-generated t-shirts.
Brett Hayes has a scary near-encounter with a dangerous criminal - Fish Bytes
Honestly, I don't know what I'd do if I were in Brett Hayes' shoes; basically a gunman that was being pursued by the police ran past Brett Hayes and his wife while they were stopped in traffic. If the police weren't so close in pursuit, who knows what could have happened?
Mets sweep Phillies in Philadelphia for the first time since 2006 - NY Times
I actually wanted the Mets to lose that last game, because it seems like they're a little too close to the top for comfort. But I won't deny that it's always pleasing to see the Phillies losing, regardless of the circumstances either.
Ruben Tejada put on DL for strained quad - Amazin' Avenue
While running to first base, Ruben Tejada took a nasty spill, and ended up straining his quad, as well as banged his eye. Despite being sent down less than two days prior, the Mets recall Jordany Valdespin.
Who promptly hits a game-winning, pinch-hit, mythical three-run homer off of Jonathan Papelbon - MetsBlog
Naturally, the "in" thing now is to take anything that ends, or conveniently contains the letters "IN" and immediately slap "SANITY" onto it.
Andres Torres credits switching to lighter bat for improved numbers - NY Daily News
Apparently the Mets' philosophy sounds completely unique from everyone else's:
being willing to take a base on balls, being willing to work a count, being disciplined and patient enough to get a pitch that you can handle
What is it about Phillies players and running over catchers? - NY Post
Off the top of my head, I remember when Shane Victorino bowled over Brian McCann, resulting in a concussion. And another instance where Chase Utley bowled over Jesus Flores, and broke his ankle. Jose Thole may or may not have a concussion after getting bowled over by Ty Wigginton. Yep, confirmed, concussion, DL'd.
Jason Bay Confounds - and Always Has - Amazin' Avenue
A pretty good read about the history of Jason Bay, and his ups and downs, and a small reminder that as much as people like to criticize his contract and his statistical production, he's kind of a gentleman about it all.
Johan Santana gets his first win of the season - NY Daily News
Sure, it only took an entire month for this to happen, but it's a bigger deal when it also happens to be the first win, in just about two years.
The Apple's David Wright Photoshop Contest - The Apple
I love Photoshop contests. It's a good reprieve from some of the dregs I work on in my day job. And it's always fun to see what ideas spawn in the heads of others. And then compare them to my own ideas.