Welcome to the fourteenth edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped down Last Week Tonight or Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.
There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right to our first segment:
Our Main Story
Baseball made its way over the pond with two of its marquee franchises: the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, bringing the fabled AL East rivalry to London. Each team played before a sellout crowd of 59,659 at Olympic Stadium. And truly, while that fan turnout comes across as a “No Sh$%” reply from most of you, keep in mind that the powers that be seemingly did their very best to make that a much harder feat to accomplish:
Huge swathes of unsold tickets for the mlb London series. Prices here in upper deck range from £185-£290. No wonder it hasn’t sold out pic.twitter.com/xnOcuUDpON
— NFL Bettor (@NFL_Bettor) June 25, 2019
Yeah, you read that right. And in case your currency conversion is a bit rusty, that’s $234-$368 for nosebleed seats. Here in America, we call that getting the shaft. As for the players, the effects are indelible. Just take a look:
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 30, 2019
Yeah, horrible. I know. They don’t even remember what sport they’ve flown over there to play. Blame it on the ale, I guess. For one need look no further than the abysmal display of pitching to know the Gatorade jug had to be spiked with something:
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 29, 2019
I know, the BBC calling it “one innings” might be the most adorable thing you see all week. Except for this of course:
Cats, when not working as clandestine operatives for the devil, disguise themselves as adorable. It’s true. Though, the real truth is, this baseball series abroad had it all: royalty, British baseball enthusiasts who wanted to experience MLB’s European debut, fans from Boston and New York who wanted to partake in a bit of baseball history, and an A-Rod photo shoot for Burberry:
If you’ve never been to London, make sure it’s on your bucket list. Such an amazing city! So excited for the London Series, the first @MLB games ever played in Europe. An amazing step for the greatest game on Earth. #yanks #redsox #history #LondonSeries pic.twitter.com/s31X42F2i1
OK, fine, that wasn’t an actual Burberry ad. But it could have been! Or not, since Burberry seems more interested in Fifty Shades of Gray than whatever in the blue hell J-Lo and A-Rod are these days.
Admittedly, it was a bit odd to see a Union Jack flying proudly above center field along with the Star and Stripes, but that was even less odd than the 30 combined runs each team scored.
— Darrell Deer (@darrelldeer) June 29, 2019
The unnatural scoring bonanza is worth discussing, and we’ll get to that. First, however, let’s talk about the real attraction here…
UK announcers. Here’s a small taste of what they have to offer when they’re not calling baseball (do yourself a favor and make sure you listen at the 00.30 mark).
Yes, that’s right. Astonishing, indeed. “This is not just a dream, it’s a wet dream of orgasmic proportions. It seduces everybody.” And you didn’t hear wrong when he said, “It’s got more curves than Jessica Rabbit on steroids.”
Oh, what’s that? The embedded link won’t work and video is unavailable? Luckily for you, MR. HYPERLINK is here to save the day!! So click on your local superhero’s name to hear Ray Hudson in all his inappropriate glory.
Yeah, he really did say all that about a soccer goal. The Brits get Ray Hudson, and we get Joe Buck. Life isn’t always fair. In fact, life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something. So, the sooner you get used to it the better. I’m sorry, but the truth will set you free.
Skeptics may scoff and say baseball doesn’t have the pacing to elicit those kinds of announcer reactions. If the game of soccer, where scores of 1-0 are about as common as the sun rising and games actually end in ties, can produce that kind of enthusiasm from an announcer, then surely even a typical baseball game should generate some excitement. After all, in 2018 the average runs per game per team was 4.45. That’s nearly nine total runs scored per game. Compare that to soccer, where the latest World Cup in Russia in 2018 featured an average of 2.6 goals per game. Granted, the ball is always moving in a soccer game, but scoring will always be the name of the game when it comes to sports.
Tell me you weren’t excited to see what UK announcers could have in store for the first-ever baseball game in Europe with a final score of 17-13?
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) June 29, 2019
Ok, so that falls quite short of “orgasmic proportions,” but British announcers certainly acquitted themselves well in the enthusiasm department.
The game itself stretched for four hours and 42 minutes, falling just three minutes shy of the record for a nine-inning game. According to wire correspondences, telegrams, and carrier pigeons… the fans didn’t give a flying rat’s a$$ about the total run time. Perhaps MLB should take heed and pay more attention to the in-game experience like the KBO does and focus less on trying to control the length of games.
Out of the Park
A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week
Highest batting average, rookies, before the All-Star Break
— Joe Block (@joe_block) June 29, 2019
– Longest for a #Pirates rookie since 1899
— Joe Block (@joe_block) June 30, 2019
Yeah, yeah. I know Block is full-fledged homer based on his job, but nothing here is fabricated or false. Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds truly have been that good. If you’re here, you probably play fantasy baseball, so here’s a six-shooter “Going Deep” take on all this:
Newman is rocking a .368 BABIP, but the dude has 60-grade speed and his 85%+ Contact rate is top-30 in MLB. His O-Contact% is 75% and his Z-Contact% (94%) are elite. Sadly, his Hart Hit% and Exit Velocity are putrid, so the recent power display is purely a mirage, but Newman is a legitimate speed threat on the bases who can make consistent contact, and that plays if you need stolen bases, average help, and runs.
Reynolds’ rise to prominence may be a thorn in the side of Giants’ fans, specifically because the team traded him to Pittsburgh for a rental season of Andrew McCutchen in 2018 for the optics of a team that could make a playoff run based on “name value” if you just looked at WAR leaderboards from 2012. That Giants team finished with 73 wins, dead last in the NL West. So, how real is Reynolds?
He has a .442 BABIP, but that also plays just about anywhere, too, though!
Where Baseball Got Caught Looking
There hasn’t been much talk about the fact that marijuana is legal in Colorado, at least not as it relates to baseball. Joe Kelly feels there should be:
Joe Kelly disagreed with the official scorer in Colorado, who assessed him a fifth-inning earned run that could have been ruled unearned.
STRONGLY DISAGREED 😂
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 29, 2019
You can view the plays that infuriated Kelly so by clicking here. I’m inclined to say not all those runs should have been earned, but it wouldn’t be 2019 if the official scorers didn’t join some of the umpires in a show of ridiculousness. Perhaps this will start a new trending hashtag: #ScorerShow.
The only thing that can top it, of course, is Yasiel Puig.
(NOTE: The following video breakdown contains NSFW language. Vaya con Dios, my friends)
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) June 30, 2019
“It’s no secret, he’s stupid. He’s stupid as (expletive). Nothing against him, he’s just stupid.”
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 29, 2019
Eh… um…. er….
I nicknamed Kevin Newman @OfficialKBN “Wicked Game” because of his outstanding play and his uncanny resemblance to Chris Issac who performs the song WICKED GAME!!
— @chaseelliottweekly (@chaseelliottwe1) June 29, 2019
Seriously, though, that resembles is uncanny. And, just so you don’t think I’m phoning this last segment in, here’s a legitimate bag for ya…
From last night : Marlins OF Monte’ Harrison appears to go to the plate to bat lefty (he is right handed). @cakesbaseball Mgr. Keith Johnson sees it, pulls him. Harrison visibly upset. Marlins say this has been addressed. pic.twitter.com/nppPtiATnm
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) June 28, 2019
“It’s my party, and I’ll bat where I want to, bat where I want to…”
Or, apparently, observe a 5-5 game in the ninth inning. Develop mysterious plan to bat from the opposite side of the plate. Tell no one, including the manager who is also fighting for his job within the organization. Perhaps solve world peace and hunger while waiting in the batter’s box. Storm off the field and slam helmet down when removed from game for playing a game within a game.
Yeah, and Pedro Strop thought Puig was stupid.
That’s the ballgame for this week!
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)