Thoughts from the Dugout: Movers and Shakers

Writing a weekly column is fun! Writing a weekly baseball column about the state of the postseason in the middle of a busy week with work, class, and other assorted pastimes is challenging. This results in last minute updates of respective standings, one which I promise to you I will fulfill. I just want everyone to know exactly what’s up.

Let the Good Times Roll/I’ve Seen Better Days

Image of the Kansas City Royals dugout

These guys are probably having a way better time than you.

We’re leading with dueling song titles, because the state of the league has entered into something approaching wonderful flux. The big money teams are down (with two rather notable exceptions in SoCal), the little, scrappy teams are up, and some old stand-bys are plugging along, doing what they do year in and year out with remarkable consistency. On the one hand, if the season ended today, the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, and Phillies would all be out of the postseason. This shift away from the East Coast powerhouses of the last decade has been transplanted by the rise of the West Coast, with both LA teams, the Giants, and Oakland representing sunny Cal in the playoffs. [Read more…]

Talkin’ Softball 22 Years Later: Thoughts from the Dugout

The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team posing as champions after a series of unfortunate events befell the players

A lot has happened in baseball of late: Mo’ne Davis proving there’s no crying in baseball … except for the kids she strikes out; Jackie Robinson West advancing to the tops of the Little League World Series; and continuing struggles in the race for October. Starting September, I’ll update every week regarding the playoff race. For now, the new TV station FXX is marathoning every episode of The Simpsons, and the baseball/softball tribute/parody “Homer at the Bat” grabbed my attention, if only for the sterling line-up of major league guest stars. The episode aired twenty-two years ago, either two too many or three too few for a proper anniversary tribute, but I wanted to check in on what the Springfield Power Plant softball team stars have been up to.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: A Renaissance (of Sorts)

Image of Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw

Growing up in the 1990’s was a time to enjoy supreme power in baseball – it was the reign of sluggers like Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Thomas, McGriff, Bagwell, Vaughn (two of them), and dozens of others. Yet, at the same time, the pitching was filthier than ever – pitchers such as Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Johnson, and Martinez either came of age or thrived as never before. Their success lasted into the 2000’s, but while we were treated to a new crop of sluggers (Pujols, Konerko, Giambi, Ortiz, etc.), the pitching of the era never really developed the kinds of aces we saw in the 90’s.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: Special MLB Trade Deadline Edition


I was working out at the gym today, thinking about Billy Beane’s “brass balls of steel” (exact origin of quote unknown, but it was somewhere on the Internet) and the Jon Lester/Yoenis Cespedes trade, when all of a sudden the White Sox-Tigers game I was watching took an abrupt turn for the surreal. The camera jumped several times between two men: Austin Jackson, the Tigers’ leadoff hitter/center fielder, standing out in the field looking relatively surly; and Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers’ GM, lurking in the back of the dugout like Tywin Lannister behind the Iron Throne. After a few moments and several horrific Hawk Harrelson quips that need not be repeated here, Jackson jogged in, awkwardly hugging every Tiger in his path before being shepherded up the clubhouse ramp by Dombrowski Lannister.

Jackson now plays for the Seattle Mariners. Enter David Price, former Tampa Bay Ray and newly-minted staff ace of the Detroit Tigers.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: Five Years Gone

Cox, LaRussa, Glavine, Thomas, Maddux, and Torre. AKA A Summary of Baseball in the 1990's.

Cox, LaRussa, Glavine, Thomas, Maddux, and Torre. AKA A Summary of Baseball in the 1990’s.

It’s a relatively safe assumption that nobody else on our tiny staff cares about the Baseball Hall of Fame as much as I do. It’s a much broader leap, but still a reasonable hypothesis, that I care about it more than most of our (hopefully somewhat more than) tiny readership. Therefore, when news governing the actual Hall of Fame rears its head, I stand at attention, ready to pounce upon their latest justice/injustice rendered upon innocent/guilty players.

This time around, it’s a little more complicated than that.

News broke over the weekend that the Baseball Hall of Fame, that venerable and most hallowed of institutions, would be changing a few things in time for this year’s election cycle. One change will be that baseball writers will be prohibited from selling their vote and must sign a waiver of sorts agreeing to a “code of conduct”, a reaction to some of the fuss that sprang up during voting last year. While one might argue over precisely how impactful this measure will be, there’s certainly no harm in it; the Hall simply wants to make sure that there are no further embarrassments to its “hallowed process”.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: 2nd Half Predictions


The All-Star Game grooved right on by, and now the American League will receive home field advantage in this year’s World Series. That’s about as far on the record as I’m willing to go with regards to second-half certainties in Major League Baseball. Everything else remains in flux, from division winners to potential trade candidates, from award winners to statistical oddities. Anybody who says they can see something coming from a mile away is, more often than not, lying – insider information only gets you so far. With that being said, here’s 10 fun predictions for the second half of the 2014 MLB season.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: A ‘Game of Thrones’ Edition

Derek Jeter 2

You know nothing, Derek Jeter.

We’re at the midway point. Chaos rules in all parts of the land. Teams jockey for positions, clashing with regularity. The balance of power sways between the mighty, whilst the dispossessed plot their next moves. Rumbles are heard of a mighty battle yet to come, as aging legends rise against the hungry youths of the world. Meanwhile, an aged man sits atop his perch, overseeing all with a hand that smites as often as it rewards.

Welcome to Major League Baseball.

I’ve been open here and elsewhere about recently re-reading the entire Song of Ice and Fire book series as my summer project. Consequently, I’m feeling a little Game of Thrones-centric these days. At the same time, the baseball season has passed its midway point, All-Stars have been selected, and we know… well, relatively little at this point beyond the facts that: the A’s are good, the Cubs are bad, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and Mike Trout might be from another world.

Where are my tigers?

Where are my tigers?

Usually, I disdain power rankings. The chance to do one with a Game of Thrones theme, however, struck me as all too much fun. What follows is simple: I pair each team with a corresponding character from the book/TV series, based on said team’s performance to date, their expectations going into the season, and what their future looks like. Any disagreements can be argued out in the comments section.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: People, Not Mascots

I originally planned to write about Clayton Kershaw, the modern Age of the Pitcher, and its inevitable downfall this week. I’ve been asked (several) questions about my thoughts on the Tommy John epidemic that seems to have overtaken baseball this year, and had a semi-coherent 1500-word column in mind.

That can wait a little bit.

Today, news broke that a Native American group was planning to file a federal lawsuit for $9 billion against the Cleveland Indians with regards to their name and their mascot, Chief Wahoo. The suit will be asking for the stated sum based upon “a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering.” Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and director of the American Indian Education Center, further stated that “it’s [the name/mascot] been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

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