"I don't know what he's saying all the time, but he sure gives a lift to his team."
-- Mark DeRosa on teammate, Munenori Kawasaki, who may have given the best postgame interview not involving the University of Cincinnati, like this.
Welcome back to the harsh realities of a Tuesday morning that feels eerily like a Monday. I hope that the Memorial Day weekend was spent reveling in family, barbecue, camouflage baseball caps and your best Arrested Development "chicken dances."
In today's recap of weekend baseball action, we've got Kawasaki's epic interview (duh), Don Mattingly's last stand, more Miggy, White Sox hit a major mark (not a good one), it's rivalry week and the inevitable Matt Garza/Johnny Cueto celebrity death match. This and more in today's Full Count weekend recap.
Let's get it started...
Munenori Kawasaki challenges PSY for Asian web meme of the century
If you follow baseball and you have an internet connection, you probably saw this...
Munenori Kawasaki, or as he's know in Japan as 川﨑 宗則 (I may have misspelled something there), is a career .215 hitter in the show with no career home runs. But even long after he's gone, he'll be forever immortalized for this interview. Hopefully he can top it later in the year. I hear they're making a movie and Tom Cruise is in it playing Mark DeRosa. It's called the "Last Samurai of Toronto."
The Embattled Month of Don Mattingly
We touched on it last week, but Don Mattingly is doing everything short of calling Vin Scully a "old punk-ass geezer," to try and get fired. Benching Andre Ethier, pulling Matt Kemp on a double switch, and his provocative postgame comments suggest a manager at his brink. Next week, he'll claim that Dodger Dogs taste like mixed cement and that Dodger Stadium is nothing but a dump filled with cholos. The weird thing? He's right. The Dodgers aren't playing with any sort of urgency sitting at 21-28 and would anyone question benching and pulling players with Ethier and Kemp's respective numbers if they went by any other name? You make the call.
The Legend of Evan Gattis and "El Oso Blanco"
With $75 million man B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward still in the midst of horrendous slumps, the Braves are looking for Evan Gattis to get at-bats any way they can. What other player with a 33-8 strikeout to walk ratio and a really bad glove can get songs written about him like this? And please, click on that last link. Just do it.
Speaking of the Atlanta Braves, despite the early season struggles of Heyward, Upton and Dan Uggla and despite no reliable 8th inning man with Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty's Tommy John surgeries and despite the absence of Brandon Beachy, the Braves sit at 30-20 and a comfy 4.5 games ahead of Washington in the NL East. When the aforementioned guys begin to inevitably progress toward the mean, they'll be even better. That's the good news; and even the bad news is pretty good.
Problems like finding El Oso Blanco at-bats and what to do with either Julio Teheran and/or Kris Medlen when Beachy returns are good problems to have. Gattis' power is simply to good to be relegated to a pinch-hitting role and a surplus of starters is never a bad thing because raise your hand if you're a Braves fan and think that no starter will hit the DL the rest of the season? That's what I thought.
Angel Hernandez trolls the @#$% out of Hawk Harrelson
It's been a rough month for umpires as we've pointed out here and here. And anytime there's a blown call that potentially costs a team the win, it's especially egregious in a season where making or missing the playoffs can literally come down to one win or loss.
Angel Hernandez was the latest one to mess it up and he's done it before already this season. But I'm surprisingly not as upset this time. Yes it was a bad call, but if it leads to Hawk doing this....
...then I'm all for Angel Hernandez umpiring every single game for the White Sox for the rest of the season. And in honor of this week's Crosstown Classic, I'll post the video here for you Cubbies fans that indulge on every Hawk rant (MLB.com won't let me embed it).
Closers in trouble?
You would have trouble finding better closers last season than Tampa Bay's Fernando Rodney and Baltimore's Jim Johnson after the two of them tore up the AL East to the tune of 48 and 51 saves respectively. This season, however, Rodney has already blown 5 of 14 opportunities and his last two. Johnson has blown four saves in the last two weeks and has looked nothing like the MLB saves leader just a year ago.
While closers and relievers in general are notoriously fickle from season to season, the rate at which both Johnson and Rodney have regressed has been puzzling to some fans and alarming to Orioles and Rays fans...well, at least Orioles fans since I'm still not sure a "Rays fan" is an actual thing.
Or should it be puzzling? Johnson has been suffering from a pretty unlucky BABIP but his groundball rate is down and his fly ball rate is up...which means more home runs. Johnson has already given up as many home runs (3) as he allowed all of last season. Rodney on the other hand, has always been prone to control issues but after allowing only 15 walks last season, he has a frightening 18 in 19 1/3 innings pitched already. Some have blamed it on his appearance in the World Baseball Classic this spring but who knows? Closers are like NFL kickers. Look for the two to either bounce back or be replaced. The leash is short and the AL East is too competitive.
White Sox finally reach... .500?
This May, the Southside Sox started in the AL Central cellar and have since passed up Minnesota and then Kansas City. With their sweep over the Marlins, the Sox have now won nine of their last twelve and reached the .500 mark. They sit five games back of the Tigers in the AL Central and this is still a team that led the Division just a season ago until Detroit caught them in September. First up this week: the Cubbies.
It's Rivalry Week in Major League Baseball, so why isn't anyone excited?
It should be one of baseball's finest moments when rivals from the same city (White Sox-Cubs, Yankees-Mets, Angels-Dodgers) or rivals from the same state (Indians-Reds, Royals-Cardinals) face off in interleague play. So why isn't anyone excited? Is it the overplaying of interleague games so far this season? Or could it be the fact that there's a good chance one of the teams in the matchups (or both) just simply aren't that good? At least one person thinks interleague play is boring and says that baseball should realign altogether but that's not entirely realistic. But I can't think of any real Cubs-White Sox fans that wouldn't love to win the series this week. Let the hate take over...
Miggy, Miggy, Miggy can't you see, sometimes your bombs just hypnotize me...
Take a cue from the hit Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander gifs from earlier this season, FanGraphs put together another gem showing Miguel Cabrera's "ridiculous plate coverage" and further laying claim that they are perhaps second to only Billy Beane when it comes to mixing technology and baseball for positive things. Baseball replay take notes. Also American League pitchers take notes...
Yeah, that pretty cool. We all knew there isn't really a good spot to pitch to Miggy but seeing it is more convincing. And seeing it all together is even better. If you want to watch an even neater gif of the same thing, I've got it here too.
American League pitchers, you may just want to stop taking notes now. Can you imagine a pitching coaches session in the film room after watching that? "Um, don't throw him a strike...but don't throw him a ball either...actually, just throw him four wides ones and we'll see if we can get Prince to ground into a fielders choice." Pun intended.
Let's get ready to rumble, Dusty Baker style
It's no secret by now that there's no love lost between Cubs pitcher Matt Garza and his counterpart in Cincinnati, Johnny Cueto. After Sunday's matchup, where Cueto sailed a pitch over the head of David DeJesus in what would end up being a 5-4 Cubs win, Garza postgame said that Cueto needs to "grow the hell up."
Ironically, it was Garza, not Cueto who hit a batter on Sunday, nailing Todd Frazier in the arm while in the middle of giving up four runs in the fourth inning. Garza said that he has, "no personal history" with Cueto but Johnny has had problems in the past as part of the Reds/Cardinals scuffle where Cueto was caught kicking Cardinal's catcher Jason LaRue during a benches clearing brawl.
Of course it was Dusty Baker that offered his hilarious solution:
"Just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with. I always said this, let it be like hockey, let them fight, someone hits the ground and it's over with. I'm serious about that."The Cubs face off against the Reds again on Monday, June 10th. If anyone has tickets, let me know because the Garza-Cueto fight won't be on Pay-Per-View.
And before we get to our links for lazy people, we just have to say one more thing...
WELCOME TO THE SHOW, KEVIN GAUSMAN
And you know that no recap would be complete without our traditional...
Today's totally irrelevant theme is "Who's on your way too early All-Star Ballot?"
Matt Kemp keeps being a great person ● And David Wright is a pretty good person too ● The redemption of Carlos Gomez (Twins fans, "I HATE YOU CARLOS GOMEZ") ● The Albert Pujols career comes full circle because the Cardinals have a butt-load of prospects ● "It's not you, it's me" - Wrigley Field to Cubs ● Angels score two runs...on a strikeout? ● Verlander back on track, probably never gone ● Mockups for Wrigley jumbotron (take that roof owners!) ● Aces aren't aces this year...so why? ● And this bad-ass Brewers reporter (she's a girl!) ●
Adios! Until next time baseball fans. And since you were so good today, I give you Kate again...