4 Biggest Takeaways from This Week's MLB Action
Typically, May doesn't provide the juiciest talking or writing points when it comes to the game of baseball. Opening Day has come and gone, the All-Star Game isn't quite on the horizon and no team is truly ready to deal off valuable parts as part of a fire sale just yet.
This week, however, proved to quite memorable around the sport.
Here are the four biggest takeaways from this week's MLB action.
1. Umpires are embarrassing themselves, one blown call at a time
To be fair, before we continue to blast Angel Hernandez and the crew in Houston on Thursday night, it's never been harder to be an umpire or referee in professional sports. Fifty years ago, there was no instant replay. In fact, aside from the 10,000 or so people at a game on a given night, few were spending the time watching live at home. Forget DVR and incessant replays and talk shows, the beat writer in your local paper had to describe a close call the next morning.
Starting with Jim Joyce ruining a perfect game a few years back, sports fans won't let this slide anymore. With the technology of today, we know the correct call on almost every occasion.
Unfortunately, Angel Hernandez can't say the same.
What happened in Cleveland this week is deserving of action from the commissioner's office. As Joel Sherman pointed out in the New York Post, forcing umpires to speak to the media after the game could be one step toward accountability.
As for the Angels-Astros game on Thursday night that is now under protest, a failure to understand the rules of the game is even more egregious than a blown call.
What a mess.
2. J.A. Happ is lucky; baseball won't be for long
From Billy Wagner to Juan Nicasio to J.A. Happ, pitchers have been taking comebackers off the head for a long, long time in baseball.
Fortunately, no one has died on the field or in the aftermath of an incident.
Let's not mistake chance for forward-thinking, though.
Bud Selig's final act as the leader of the sport should be to work with doctors, scientists and sports equipment manufacturers to design a protective shield inside the cap for pitchers.
The catch? It has to be lightweight, comfortable to wear, and non-intrusive to their pitching style and overall comfort on the mound.
3. Baltimore is thriving despite casting off two probable American League All-Stars
Orioles general manager Dan Duquette deserves a tremendous amount of credit for teaming up with manager Buck Showalter to change the culture in Baltimore. After years and years of inept rosters, listless baseball and non-competitve summers in Charm City, the Orioles are contending for the second straight season in the AL East.
While they are doing it with a young, deep roster of contributors, it's not crazy to think where they would be if they added an All-Star to the rotation and potential 40-homer bat to the lineup.
No, this isn't to suggest they should have signed Anibal Sanchez and Josh Hamilton last winter.
Mark Reynolds has 21 home runs since August 31 of last season which is most in all of @mlb.— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) May 7, 2013
Instead, look at two of the players they moved on from in the last year, Jeremy Guthrie and Mark Reynolds, and the success they are having now.
With a victory over the Orioles on Thursday evening, Guthrie, traded prior to the '12 season to Colorado for Jason Hammel, improved to 5-0. Dating back to last Aug. 8, Guthrie is unbeaten in 18 straight starts. Over that span, he's 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA.
Last winter, Baltimore declined a $10 million option on 1B/DH Mark Reynolds. Now an Indian, Reynolds already has 11 home runs in Cleveland's first 32 games. The last players to reach that mark in as few games in an Indians uniform: Albert Belle, Paul Sorrento, Travis Hafner, David Justice and Manny Ramirez.
At 21-14, Baltimore is atop the AL East without Guthrie and Reynolds. Imagine where they would be with them.
4. Robinson Cano is the one player the resilient Yankees can't afford to lose
Despite the losses of Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira to injury, the New York Yankees have kept themselves afloat atop the AL East.
While many teams would have missed the contributions from Russell Martin and Nick Swisher, the Yankees lineup has kept rolling.
A large share of the credit belongs to the work of Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi to find, and get the most out of, castoffs from other organizations.
Robinson Cano has precautionary X-rays on injured foot, but Yankees say it's nothing to worry about: nydn.us/134CJv7— New York Daily News (@nydailynews) May 10, 2013
The Yankees certainly wouldn't be a winning club without the efforts from Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay.
Yet the one rock that has cemented himself as an early AL MVP candidate is Cano. Unlike them, he doesn't take a day off, get banged up, need to platoon or occasionally sit because of the NL park rules.
Instead, he just hits and hits and hits.
With a .944 OPS, 79 total bases and one of his lowest strikeout rates in years, Cano is thriving and leading New York.
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