Now that the 2014 MLB season is underway, many teams are relying on the players they signed in the offseason to get to the playoffs and beyond. While many fans know the big names of favorite players and coaches, few of them know what goes on in making the deal, behind the scenes in MLB front offices, or in the minds of owners.
These were some of the topics covered at the 2014 SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Sportswriter and TV commentator Ken Rosenthal interviewed owners, general mangers, and others who play key roles in making these moves happen.
It was 100 years ago today that that grand old ballpark Wrigley Field (and home of the Chicago Cubs) opened its doors for the first time. This afternoon, the Cubs celebrated with a party and a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chicago wore throwback Federations jerseys and fans came dressed in their best 1914 attire. Even Arizona got in on the act, wearing their own throwback jerseys even though the team wasn't around back when Wrigley opened.
For a while, it looked like Chicago would mark the anniversary with a win. But what would a Cubs party be without a loss? Chicago was up 5-2 on the Diamondbacks and an out away from winning the game when everything imploded. The Cubs committed a couple errors and gave up five run, capping Wrigley's centennial party with a L.
Tough luck and sloppy play has been a hallmark of the Cubs time at Wrigley. (It has never seen a World Series champion — the last time the team won a title was 1908.) But that's not what draws people the ballpark. Instead, it's the history. And the tradition. And that ivy in the outfield. Actor Bill Murray might have summed up the Wrigley experience best in an interview with the New York Times:
There's an old saying in baseball that a player hit the ball so hard he tore the cover off of it. You very rarely ever see it happen — except maybe in home run celebration cartoons. But on Friday, in a game between the Brewers and the Pirates, the cover was actually ripped off the ball!
It happened in the sixth inning. Milwaukee's backup catcher Martín Maldonado was a the plate and hit a pretty routine ground ball to third. Except that as the ball bounced to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, it had a portion of its covering trailing behind it:
Heading into the 2014 season, the New York Mets set a lofty goal: 90 wins. The Mets haven’t had a 90-win season since 2006, which was also the last time they made the postseason. To reach that milestone in 2014, the Amazins’ are counting on new centerfielder Curtis Granderson.
Granderson spent the last four seasons with the Yankees after breaking into the bigs with the Tigers in 2004. On one hand, the move from the Bronx to Queens is an easy one: Granderson gets to stay in New York while playing for a new team. But it’s also going to be tough. It's his first time in the National League, and the Mets have struggled the past five seasons to find any sense of on-field identity. A lot has to come together for the Mets to hit 90 wins this season – and Granderson is ready to contribute. (But he might be headed to the DL: Granderson left yesterday’s game against the Diamondbacks with injuries to his knee, rib cage, and forearm.)
Granderson stopped by the Lids store in Times Square recently to talk about New Era’s “Home of the Authentic” campaign. SI Kids caught up with Granderson — a Sports Illustrated Kids reader from way back! — at the event to talk about hats, the differences between playing at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, and how the Mets can reach their 90-win goal this season.
The Reds and Pirates opened up a three-game series last night in Cincinnati with their own personal home run derby. The teams combined for 10 dingers, the most ever hit in one game at Great American Ball Park and the most in an MLB game since 2006. (The Pirates hit three back-to-back jacks.)
But here's the thing: The game hasn't ended. It rained all night, and at the end of the 6th inning officials suspended the game with the score tied, 7-7. It'll be picked up at the top of the 7th at 5:30 p.m. today. So the Reds and Pirates could add even more homers to the box score.
The season's still young, but this is easily the craziest game of the 2014 campaign. Get ready for the final innings by watching all 10 home runs: