Eri Yoshida

Meet the first woman to play professional baseball in Japan.

Eri Yoshida, a 17-year-old who throws a sidearm knuckleball, took the mound in the ninth inning of Kobe 9 Cruise's 5-0 win over the Osaka Gold Villicanes in the newly-formed Kansai Independent League.

She walked the first batter leading off the inning on four pitches and allowed a stolen base before striking out the next batter swinging at Osaka Dome. She was then replaced after facing just two batters.

The 5-feet, 114-pound Yoshida is hoping to stick with the Kobe team. Friday's performance was far from conclusive but at least she has the first strikeout of her career.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone throwing a sidearm knuckleball before. David Pinto, from whom I got the link, has some video there so you can see what that looks like for yourself. Good luck, Eri Yoshida.

04/05/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Please listen to Hank

I'm not sure which depresses me more - that Hank Aaron feels the need to remind everyone that Barry Bonds is the home run king (and that Hank himself is just fine with that), or that there's a bunch of idiots like this one who don't care and want to commit violence to the record books anyway in order to satisfy their perverse sense of justice or something. The fact that one of these people is MLB Commissioner Beelzebud Selig, who of course bears no responsibility whatsoever for the whole steroids thing, just makes it that much worse. I don't even know what to say about this stuff any more. Between the hysteria over steroids and the annual ignorance-fest known as the Hall of Fame voting, it seems like the only way I can continue to enjoy the game of baseball is to strictly limit my exposure to what's spoken and written about it. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bang my head against a wall.

02/16/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Grand jury investigating Clemens

May be nothing, may be something.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Roger Clemens lied to Congress last year, two people briefed on the matter told The Associated Press on Monday.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret.

Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in Houston this afternoon that he was not surprised by the news.

The grand jury "is a mechanism for prosecutors to investigate, to have subpoena power," Hardin said.

Congress asked the Justice Department to look into whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied last February when he testified under oath at a deposition and a public House hearing that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

That contradicted the sworn testimony of his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who said under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

By bringing the case to a grand jury, the Justice Department escalated the case from an FBI investigation. A grand jury allows prosecutors to get sworn testimony from witnesses and collect documents.

I don't know about you, but the lesson I take from this is that once you lawyer up, unless compelled to do so you let the lawyer do all the talking. And if compelled, you don't say anything you can be hung for later. I hope I never need to take this advice, but if I ever do, would someone please remind me of it at that time? Thanks.

01/14/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Rickey and Rice

So the Hall of Fame Class of 2009 is Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice. No Bert Blyleven, no Alan Trammel, no Tim Raines, no Mark McGwire. Twenty-six members who bothered to put at least one name on a ballot (two sent in blanks), including this genius, did not think that the all-time record holder for runs scored, one of the twenty or so greatest players ever, was worthy of enshrinement. That and Jim Rice gets in, while Raines sees his support drop. I usually keep the language pretty clean around here, but I can't think of any better way to say this: What a fucking joke.

01/12/09 | permalink | comments [7]

A pardon for Clemens?

Seems unlikely to me, too.

Two Houstonians -- former Enron executive Jeff Skilling and former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens -- are on a watch list kept by P.S. Ruckman Jr., a political science professor in Illinois who writes a blog on pardons and has written a book on the subject.

Skilling's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, said no request is being made on behalf of Skilling, who is in prison and appealing his conviction. No other Enron defendants were on Justice Department request lists as of Wednesday.

But Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, notes that a clemency request would make no sense, since Clemens is not charged with any crime, although the FBI is investigating whether he lied to Congress about steroid use.

There have been only very rare pre-emptive pardons, like President Gerald Ford's pardon of President Richard Nixon.

"That's an insane invention of people who have too much time on their hands," Hardin said of the question of a pardon for Clemens.

The blog post in question is here. It also mentions former baseball player Willie Aikens and quarterback Michael Vick; like Clemens and Skilling, none of them have an application in. Much ado about nothing, if you ask me, but it's a slow news period, so what the heck.

Speaking of Clemens, Richard Justice writes about the recent decision by Memorial Hermann to remove his name from the sports medicine institute he helped fund. He's critical of Memorial Hermann, but I found these paragraphs the most interesting:

This column isn't a defense of his behavior. He chose a path that might land him in prison and probably will keep him out of the Hall of Fame.


Few reporters ever get to know the people they cover. We don't usually know if they drink too much or chase women or pull the wings off butterflies when they disappear into the night.

That's the problem with confusing accomplishments on the field into judgments on character, integrity, etc.

So since Justice apparently does understand the distinction between the two, does that mean he'll vote accordingly when Clemens is up for induction? Check back in four years and find out.

01/03/09 | permalink | comments [0]

McLane: Please regulate me!

Oh, Drayton. You must think we're all a bunch of idiots.

Astros owner Drayton McLane is one of the wealthiest men in the country and is accustomed to hearing about multimillion-dollar deals being made in any of his numerous business ventures.

But even McLane finds himself astonished at the kinds of cash the New York Yankees have been throwing around this winter. So much so that McLane said he would be in favor of Major League Baseball adopting a salary cap.

"We would love to have a salary cap, but the (players') union has been very resistant to that," McLane said this past week.

I just love how sports team owners, who are otherwise some of the most vocal advocates of an unregulated free market economy you'll ever encounter, quail and cower at the idea of a free market for their employees' salaries. It's as if they don't trust themselves to spend their money wisely without the firm hand of regulatory restraint. Or maybe it's just that they think the fans are gullible enough to believe that if the owners can finally get that cap on player salaries they've always wanted, it will somehow translate to lower costs for themselves, and not millions more in profit for the owners. Either way, it's all pathetic. I mean, even Richard Justice can see this for what it is. Do us all a favor and give it a rest, dude.

UPDATE: The reason for the wide spectrum of MLB payrolls isn't that the Yankees spend too much. It's that too many teams spend too little. Odd how seldom that comes up in the conversation, though again, even Richard Justice realized it. Thanks to Dan Drezner, who notes that if American corporations were acting like the Yankees we'd be well on our way out of the current economic downturn, and LGM for the pointer.

12/31/08 | permalink | comments [1]

MLB to Astros: Sorry about that

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig expresses his regrets to the Astros for the unscheduled road trip to Milwaukee last week.

The players, manager Cecil Cooper and some officials in the Houston area have faulted Selig over the move, saying it was unfair to a team in the race for the National League wild card.

"I recognized the advantage the Cubs would have in playing in such close proximity to Chicago, and had there been a better option, I would have taken it," Selig wrote in [an ad in the Chron] on page C16 of the Sports section.

"All of us involved in the decision regret the frustration the Astros and their fans felt about playing two games in Milwaukee."

Selig said roofed ballparks in Minneapolis, Phoenix and St. Petersburg, Fla., were not available.

"We did not think it was fair to play games on the West Coast" with the Astros heading to Miami to face the Marlins, the commissioner said.

Selig wrote that he has heard the complaints of Astros fans.

"While it is insignificant in comparison to the havoc that was taking place in southeast Texas, the storm also created a scheduling difficulty for Major League Baseball. ... As commissioner, my job is to balance many competing needs, while also finishing the season on time," Selig wrote.

I'm certainly no Selig fan, but I sympathize here. Unless you were willing to consider minor league or college stadia, I don't really know what else you could have done. At least Milwaukee was in the same time zone. Yeah, it wasn't so much a "home game", but where outside the hurricane zone would there have been a critical mass of Astros fans? I think Lance Berkman has it right:

"You can only use that as an excuse for so long why we are where we are," Berkman said. "We went up there, and there's 90 feet between the bases up there (at Miller Park) just like there was at home. There was a hostile crowd, but we won three games from the Cubs at Wrigley, so it's no excuse."

What's done is done. I see no point in fixating on it.

09/22/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Let's go to the videotape

Ready or not, here comes instant replay for Major League Baseball.

Umpires will be allowed to check video on home run calls starting Thursday after Major League Baseball, guardian of America's most traditional sport, reversed its decades-long opposition to instant replay.

"Like everything else in life, there are times that you have to make an adjustment," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said following Tuesday's announcement. "My opposition to unlimited instant replay is still very much in play. I really think that the game has prospered for well over a century now doing things the way we did it."

The 74-year-old Selig, who described himself as "old fashioned" and an admirer of baseball's "human element," softened his opposition following a rash of blown calls this year.

For now, video will be used only on so-called "boundary calls," such as determining whether fly balls went over the fence, whether potential home runs were fair or foul and whether there was fan interference on potential home runs.

"Any time you try to change something in baseball, it's both emotional and difficult," Selig said. "There's been some concern that, well, if you start here, look what it's going to lead to. Not as long as I'm the commissioner."

I think this usage of replay is appropriate. I'm more open to the idea of expanding it than I was at first, but there's no rush. If we can see that this works well, and we can figure out a way to restore equity in situations where a call would need to be overturned - something that's easier to do in a more discrete game like football - then we can consider other ways to use this. For now, let's see what this system can do.

Video from available broadcast feeds -- not every team televises every game -- will be collected at the office of Major League Baseball Advanced Media in New York, where it will be monitored by a technician and either an umpire supervisor or a retired umpire. If the crew chief at a game decides replay needs to be checked, umpires will leave the field, technicians at MLBAM will show umpires the video and the crew chief will make the call, overturning the original decision only if there is "clear and convincing evidence."

Leaving the dugout to argue a call following a replay will result in an automatic ejection. Replays of the boundary calls will not be shown on stadium video boards, MLB executive vice president for baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said.

MLB said replay delays will be offset by fewer arguments.

This guy thinks that the fans at the games should be able to see the same replays as everyone else. I don't think it's that big a deal, but I can't argue that more transparency is better than less.

Let's all try to keep a sense of proportion about this. The situation for which replay might be used is so limited it might not even come up during the rest of the season. The amount of time spent bitching and moaning and appealing to tradition and the majesty of human error will be orders of magnitude greater than the amount of time games are delayed by replay review. Basically, I think this guy has it right. This is not a bad thing. It may not be perfect, and we may ultimately decide it's not worth it, but it's not bad to give it a try.

UPDATE: Joe Sheehan is blunt:

Baseball games should be decided by the players, not by low-paid middle-management functionaries of dubious competence and excessive self-worth.

Yeah. If we're going to talk about the "human factor", let's let that be about the players, and not the arbiters.

08/28/08 | permalink | comments [0]

From the "How fleeting is fame?" department

Ken Hoffman:

Let's get right to today's trivia: Who holds the Major League Baseball record for most career home runs by a player whose last name begins with the letter Q?

For example, A is easy. It's Henry Aaron with 755 homers. B is simple, too. It's Barry Bonds with 762. R is, duh, Babe Ruth with 714. M is Willie Mays with 660. Z is a little tougher, Todd Zeile with 253. You get the idea.

Trivia answer: It's Mark Quinn, the former Rice University star, who hit 45 homers for the Kansas City Royals between 1999 and

Why is this worthy of today's trivia? Because the other day, my 11-year-old boy came home and said, "Hey, the new coach of my baseball team (the fearsome Green Sox) is named Mark Quinn. Have you ever heard of him? He said he once played in the Majors."

Well, son, not only does Mark Quinn hold the Q-ball record with 45 home runs (edging Jamie Quirk's 43 blasts), he was the Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year in 2000. He is one of only three big league players in history to hit two homers in his first game (tying Bert Campaneris and Bob Nieman).

I hate to break this to you, Ken, but your answer is no longer correct. Meet Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox, who has 34 home runs so far this year, giving him 48 total. He's only 25, meaning that barring a career-shortening injury like what Quinn suffered, he's likely to put a little more distance between himself and Quinn than Quinn did between himself and Jamie Quirk. Mark had the Q record for six years, but alas, he doesn't have it any more.

08/19/08 | permalink | comments [2]

The Astros and Barry

I agree with Richard Justice.

Hello, Barry, this is Drayton. Are you ready to be a champion?

The Astros need a left fielder. I know the name of a good one. He's rested and ready. He'll bring a buzz to the ballpark, too. He would suddenly make the Astros baseball's most interesting team.

What's wrong with having a little buzz? Why should the Dallas Cowboys have all the fun?

Barry Lamar Bonds would be a perfect fit for the Astros. Is there one good reason not to sign him?

Actually, there is one I can think of, and it has nothing to do with steroids, controversy, clubhouse chemistry, or any of that other stuff. It's simply that Bonds would be unlikely to make a difference for the Stros this year. That's no knock on him - they're 8.5 games out of the wild card slot, with three teams between them and the Brewers and the Dodgers even with them. A full year of Barry Bonds in his prime, replacing a Darin Erstad type, could make up that difference. But a bit more than a month of Bonds, who at best would be able to make up for the loss of Carlos Lee but probably wouldn't be much of an improvement, isn't going to be a factor. He'd keep them from falling farther back, but he wouldn't propel them forward. If nothing else, there isn't the time for it.

That said, this surely wouldn't hurt. Bonds would keep the Stros offense from being any more pitiful in Lee's absence. He would generate some excitement and fan interest. He's not blocking anyone's progress. Who knows, maybe he'd stick around for 2009, and give the Stros some real lineup depth. That'd mean moving Hunter Pence to center field and having a somewhat brutal outfield defense, but you'd make up for it by taking plate appearances away from Michael Bourn, who has accomplished the impressive feat of being a bigger hole at the plate than Brad Ausmus. What the hell, it's not like the team has anything to lose. I say go for it, Ed and Drayton. Grab him before someone else finally does.

08/12/08 | permalink | comments [0]

RIP, Bobby Murcer

07/12/08 | permalink | comments [3]

The names may change, but the stories remain the same

06/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

MLB looking at instant replay

06/15/08 | permalink | comments [0]

A night at the ballpark

06/14/08 | permalink | comments [6]

Baseball and instant replay

06/04/08 | permalink | comments [1]

The rarest play in baseball

05/12/08 | permalink | comments [1]

As the Rocket turns

04/29/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Baseball for Sugar Land?

04/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Tommy John surgery

04/24/08 | permalink | comments [1]

The Curse of Big Papi?

04/16/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Bill James speaks

04/07/08 | permalink | comments [0]

A new leader for the Hall of Fame

03/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Bill James speaks

03/12/08 | permalink | comments [1]


03/07/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Polling the stuff that really matters

03/04/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Donnie Baseball's tribulations

03/01/08 | permalink | comments [0]

So did Pettite sink Clemens?

02/14/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Will Pettite nail Clemens?

02/13/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Will Pettite nail Clemens?

02/13/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Et tu, Debbie?

02/10/08 | permalink | comments [1]


02/07/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Will Clemens take the fifth?

02/05/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Pettite and Clemens

01/31/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Oh, those performance enhancers

01/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Roger and Miguel

01/16/08 | permalink | comments [0]


01/09/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Now how about a Mitchell Report for every other sport?

01/03/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Clemens and the coaches

01/02/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Clemens and Bonds

12/14/07 | permalink | comments [5]

The Mitchell Report

12/13/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Bowie Kuhn?

12/04/07 | permalink | comments [2]

The Hall of Fame ballot for 2008

11/28/07 | permalink | comments [2]

More baseball pandering from Rudy

11/17/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Bonds indicted

11/15/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Instant replay for baseball?

11/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

No more Wahoo

10/19/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Astros retain Cooper

09/30/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The ghosts of Flatbush

09/24/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Wading in

09/21/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Win now, rest later

09/21/07 | permalink | comments [1]


09/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Sheehan on Purpura

08/29/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Astros can Purpura and Garner

08/27/07 | permalink | comments [3]


08/23/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Hope you kept the receipt for that ring

08/22/07 | permalink | comments [2]

RIP, Phil Rizzuto

08/14/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Seven fifty-six

08/08/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Bonds ties Aaron

08/05/07 | permalink | comments [4]

Astros punt on Ensberg

07/30/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Biggio calls it a career

07/25/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Mark Cuban and the Cubs

07/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Oswalt's in

07/05/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Vote for Roy O!

07/02/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Biggio 3000

06/28/07 | permalink | comments [3]

MLB celebrates the Army's birthday

06/11/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Olivia goes to Reckling Park

06/03/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Barry vs the Hall

05/29/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Aaron and Bonds

05/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Campos smacks Lopez

05/22/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Barry and the Babe revisited

05/19/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Roger Clemens signs with the Yankees

05/06/07 | permalink | comments [5]

Finding #755

04/19/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Jackie Robinson

04/15/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Throws right and left

04/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

MLB returns to InDemand cable

04/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Ah, opening day

04/02/07 | permalink | comments [0]

MLB and DirecTV

03/28/07 | permalink | comments [2]

RIP, Bowie Kuhn

03/17/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Putting lipstick on a catcher

03/12/07 | permalink | comments [2]

What are the odds for Barry Bonds?

02/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Who will replace Bud?

01/22/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Murcer's tumor was malignant

01/12/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Hall of Fame vote is today

01/09/07 | permalink | comments [1]