MLB Week in Review (Sept. 8-14)

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For the last few years there has been a long debate raging on surrounding pitchers and how to save their arms. The two theories, one of letting them pitch and the other of resting, have fought over and over with the resting theory coming out on top. Yet still injuries continue to climb despite pitchers not pitching as much to conserve their arms. This is what keeps the debate alive as clearly something is not working and with Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman looking to sit out for the rest of the year, even into the playoffs, more than ever people are questioning the new theories. Yet as both pitchers were benched these past two weeks there was another pitcher who took the headlines and got another debate raging. On September 5th Brandon McCarthy went out to start another game for the Oakland Athletics in the middle of the battle of the wild card. McCarthy had been one of the many good starters that the Athletics had found this year and one of the many players who have helped the A’s to the middle of an unbelievable wild card race. He was looking to continue the team’s success as he took on the Los Angeles Angels, another team in the thick of the AL wild card race. In the 4th inning of the game Erik Aybar was at the plate with a 3-1 count when McCarthy threw a 91 mph cutter looking to get his second strike.  Aybar turned on it though and made contact hitting a come backer right in Brandon McCarthy’s path. It was a fast play that not even the best of athletes could have prevented as McCarthy did not have enough time to react and was hit in the back of the head with the ball. McCarthy was able to get up and walk off the field in what seemed like another case of a generally harmless baseball event. Then came the reports of the injuries that McCarthy had sustained when the ball hit him. McCarthy went directly to the hospital after he left the field and was told that he had a hemorrhage, brain contusion, and a fractured skull. Surgery needed to be completed to relieve the pressure that was on his brain. Luckily McCarthy was released from the hospital this week with a clean bill of health and a scar that can be covered by his hair. The incident raises a concern though as baseball sees a serious issue that can essentially not be corrected. Major league sports have become increasingly aware of dangers to their players over the past few years. Concussions have become a major issue in almost every sport and these sports are beginning to change rules in order to protect their players. The MLB has not done this though and for a very good reason, there is really nothing they can change. It is not a contact sport and many times players simply make plays at their own risk, i.e. climbing a wall or diving into the stands for a ball. There are a few things that are out of the players control though and one is the comebacker. A ball hit directly back at the pitcher is travelling too fast to warrant a reaction and if it makes contact with the pitcher the result is not good. There have been broken ankles, fractured legs, hip contusions, and now head injuries when this quick play comes up and despite all of this nothing has been done. This is because there is nothing o be done as the play is dangerous but pitchers cannot wear helmets, limits their sight especially when trying to pick off runners, and they will not pitch behind a screen, limits their ability to play defence. There really is no solution for this play but it is like the rest of baseball as there are essentially no safety measures that can be taken to adjust the game and make it safer, aside from removing the ability to run the catcher. The concerns are there though and despite the lack of ability to change much baseball may be the next league in the safety debate.

Like these safety concerns nothing can be done about some players seemingly never leaving the spotlight despite fans never wanting to hear from them again. This is the truth for what was one of the greatest pitchers to ever step foot on a major league mound. Roger Clemens was a freak of nature in his time in the MLB loading up on strikeouts and becoming one of the hardest throwers in MLB history. What made it even more amazing was his resurgence later in his career while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Then it all came crashing down as Clemens was implicated in the infamous Mitchell Report as a steroid user. Suddenly his career resurgence made a lot more sense as his velocity late in his career could be explained. Clemens went to Senate to testify and claimed that he had never used steroids and that the report was false. For that the Senate put Clemens on trial for perjury, aka lying to the Senate, in a court battle that would last a few years. Finally in 2012 Clemens was out of court but surprisingly was not convicted of lying to the senate essentially providing Clemens with backup to his claims of playing clean. With that Roger Clemens was free and for a few people was proven not to be a cheater but the attention from the trial did not seem enough for Clemens as he promptly signed a deal to pitch in an independent league with the Sugarland Skeeters. The game got plenty of attention, seemingly exactly what Clemens wants, as it was broadcast on live TV for everyone to see the 50 year old and what he had left. The outing was a decent one with some velocity and so immediately the rumours of a comeback started. Fuel was added to the fire this past week when the Houston Astros expressed interest in having Clemens pitch but only for a non-contending team. Meanwhile Clemens was looking to pitch for someone who was in contention and not 30 games out a postseason spot. What will come of this is the big questions as Clemens may pitch again in the MLB, extending his Hall of Fame ballot, as the Rocket continues to be a focus while everyone wishes he weren’t.

 

MLB Postseason Race

American League
Division Leaders:
1. Texas Rangers (.597)
2. Baltimore Orioles (.563)
2. New York Yankees (.563)
3. Chicago White Sox (.538)

Wild Card:
4. Oakland Athletics (.576)
5. Baltimore Orioles (.563)
5. New York Yankees (.563)

In the Hunt:
7. Los Angeles Angels (2.5)
8. Tampa Bay Rays (3.0)
9. Detroit Tigers (4.5)
10. Seattle Mariners (12.5)
11. Toronto Blue Jays (15.5)
12. Kansas City Royals (16.0)
13. Boston Red Sox (16.5)

Out of the Running:
14. Cleveland Indians (21.5)
15. Minnesota Twins (21.5)

 

National League
Division Leaders:
1. Washington Nationals (.618)
2. Cincinnati Reds (.600)
3. San Francisco (.569)

Wild Card:
4. Atlanta Braves (.566)
5. St. Louis Cardinals (.524)

In the Hunt:
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (1.0)
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (3.0)
8. Philadelphia Phillies (3.0)
9. Milwaukee Brewers (3.5)
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (4.5)
11. San Diego Padres (7.0)
12. New York Mets (9.5)
13. Miami Marlins (12.0)
14. Colorado Rockies (17.0)
15. Chicago Cubs (18.5)

Out of the Running:
16. Houston Astros (30.0)

 

Key Scores:
Baltimore Orioles 5 – 4 New York Yankees
– The Orioles are the surprise team of the season and they continued to surprise even into the last part of the regular season beating the Yankees and continuing their quest to go from last in the AL East in 2011 to first in 2012

 

San Francisco Giants 4 – 0 Los Angeles Dodgers
– The AL East is not the only division with a battle going on as the NL West is seeing a classic between longtime rivals the Dodgers and Giants as both are at risk of missing the postseason unless they win the division

 

Detroit Tigers 5 – 3 Chicago White Sox
– Another division race continues on with the regular season counting down as the White Sox and Tigers fight for the division and possibly the only postseason spot available from the AL Central as the loser looks to sit outside of the wild card

 

Los Angeles Angels 6 – 0 Oakland Athletics
– This division battle will not be for the AL West title but instead is for one of the two wild card spots with the AL East firmly in one spot the second place finisher in the AL West will take the other as the Angels fired another shot in the season long battle

 

Next Week:
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (September 15th; 4:05 pm EDT)
– Despite shutting down Stephen Strasburg the Nationals are still a strong team and are looking to make the postseason for the first time since moving to Washington while the Braves are looking to make a last minute charge at the division crown or at least at the wild card

 

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets (September 17th; 7:10 pm EDT)
– The Phillies have quietly snuck up the standings over the last month as they continue to recover from their bad start to the season and as they take on the Mets they are hoping for an easy win to continue to climb up into the wild card

 

Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers (September 19th; 7:05 pm EDT)
– Oakland continues to hang on to a wild card spot while the Tigers look to make up some ground on both a wild card spot and their division rivals in a very important matchup for both teams

 

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (September 21st; 7:05 pm EDT)
– Another very important game for the Phillies as they look to climb into a postseason spot and will try to do that against the team that holds one of the wild card spots in the Atlanta Braves who are hoping to recover from a 2011 collapse with a postseason appearance

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