Every year, around this time, the MLB rumor-mills heat up and there are stories and potential trade options flying around faster than a hummingbird on caffeine. This year is no exception, but a few of the biggest headlines over the past 24 hours have not been trade-related chatter. There was an excellent pitching performance and a terrible call mixed-in, just to keep people interested as July 31st creeps closer and closer. In order to keep everyone up to date, here is my take on some of the top headlines over the past day or so.
Jerry Meals Screws the Pirates
Without question or hesitation, the biggest headline over the past day belonged to America’s new favorite villain, Jerry Meals. Meals had the privilege of calling a good game between the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates, 2 teams within striking distance of their division leaders. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 2 innings, but the Braves battled back with 3 in the bottom of the 3rd. Then, both offenses took a nap until the 19th inning. Yes, the 19th inning. Most Red Sox fans will remember (even though we have all tried to forget) SS Julio Lugo. Lugo was on 3rd in the bottom of the 19th and dashed home on an infield grounder. The throw home beat Lugo by a good margin and the tag was applied well before Lugo touched home plate, but Meals decided it was time for everyone to go home and called Lugo safe, securing a victory for the Braves.
Many have already proclaimed this the worst call in the history of baseball. I’m not sure it’s #1, but it is certainly in the top 5, if not the top 3. The call was absolutely awful in every way and essentially etched the 14-year veteran’s name on the shit-list for many baseball fans. His legacy as an umpire has been sealed with 1 terrible decision. The Pirates have already issued a formal complaint to the MLB about the call, but no matter how you look at it, they got screwed. The resurgence of the Pirates has been a joy to watch and I hope this situation is motivating and not demoralizing for the Bucs.
Carlos Beltran is Traded to Giants
The next hottest story in the MLB surrounds one of the most talked about names in the trade market, Carlos Beltran. As of 2:45pm on Wednesday, Beltran was just a few signatures away from heading to the San Francisco Giants for one of their top prospects. Beltran had a number of suitors early on in the trade market, but as time wore down, it appeared few teams were willing to give up top prospects for a rental player. Given Beltran’s knee issues over the past few years, the Red Sox were unwilling to pay the high asking price. Also, Josh Reddick did a bit of convincing by playing incredible baseball over the past several weeks.
With the Beltran trade, the outfield market thins significantly. Colby Rasmus was mentioned by a few teams, but as of this afternoon, will call the Toronto Blue Jays home. If the Red Sox are looking to go after an outfielder, they will likely only be looking for a low-salary bench player. There is no reason to go after an everyday starter with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Josh Reddick healthy, so a guy like Ryan Spilborghs would be a low-cost option to add depth.
Chase Utley Inside-the-Park Dinger
There are few greater feats in baseball to accomplish than an inside-the-park home run. No matter how you cut it, things have to perfectly fall into place and the hitter has to have great speed. Utley has had injury issues as of late, coming off a long DL stint at the end of May with knee tendinitis, so this feat is even more impressive. Watching Utley round third and dive head-first into home plate for the home run, I found myself getting excited and motioning for a safe call. Ironically, his play at home plate was closer than the Pirates/Braves 19th inning fiasco. Either way, it is a fun play to watch and you have to feel good for Utley after the injury issues he has dealt with the past 2 seasons.
Before last season, a no-hitter was a special and rare feat. Last year turned out to be the year of the pitcher filled with perfect games, no-hitters, and shutouts, unfortunately losing some of the excitement of each event for me. The past 24 hours has included some of these outstanding pitching performances. Last night, C.C. Sabathia was a monster on the mound, throwing 6.1 perfect innings before allowing a hit and only 1 hit. He threw 14 Ks and absolutely mowed down the Seattle Mariners, even sticking it out through a rain delay. Not to be out-down, Ervin Santana brought his nasty slider to the table on Wednesday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians, completing a no-hitter. It was an odd game all around, with the Indians committing 5 errors and scoring their lone run on a wild pitch. Santana can boast a no-hitter, but because he allowed an unearned run, cannot boast a shutout as well.
I am certainly happy for Santana and Sabathia on their impressive performances, but just am mostly bored by the no-hit watch on the ESPN bottom line. They don’t feel as special as they used to and maybe a reduction in steroid use is to blame. No matter the reason, a once precious jewel can now be seen at a ball park near you about 6-10 times a season.
This is just the beginning of what is likely to be a flurry of activity in the MLB over the next several days. Check back with BoSox Injection for all the latest news and notes!