Dustin Parkes

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For years, baseball fans believed that on July 22, 1887, 14-year-old Fred Chapman pitched in a Major League game for the Philadelphia Athletics against the Cleveland Blues. The youngest player ever to appear at such a high level threw for five innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs.

For 21st-Century fans, it was a funny anecdote from a distant past when child labor laws barely existed and Major League Baseball wasn’t earning billions of dollars from television deals. The problem is it’s not remotely true. In reality, a pitcher named Frank Chapman started for the Athletics in that game. He was much older than Fred.

This is the issue with baseball’s sparsely documented history. We’re put into a position in which we’re forced to trust a limited number of sources, or not believe a story at all. It’s a problem that persists in baseball, beyond the worries of the game’s historians.

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Cameron Diaz and Alex Rodriquez at restaurant together in New York cityIt was growing increasingly difficult to separate Alex Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing from the media’s portrayal of Alex Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing. With A-Rod supporters surprisingly congregated outside of court rooms — holding suspiciously similarly styled signs — and MLB executives appearing on late-night talk-shows, it seemed that no one was more aware of this than the participants.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the New York Yankees third baseman (for the time being at least) stormed out of his hearing when the arbitrator (who is somehow both independent and selected by Major League Baseball) refused to require Commissioner Bud Selig to testify. From there, Rodriguez made his way to WFAN studios in New York where he spoke with Mike Francesa live on air, and further bound the actual arbitration process to the reporting of the proceeding.

Hot takes flooded social media timelines with otherwise respectable journalists claiming that Alex Rodriguez “lies pretty much all the time,” or that A-Rod’s name could be substituted for Lance Armstrong’s and not much else would have to change for accuracy to be maintained.

In columns on websites across the country, descriptions of Rodriguez leaving the hearing were filled with words like tantrum and hissy-fit, while his skills at public relations became a place holding target of scorn for those eager to judge. On Thursday morning, we even heard Peter Gammons compare the player to the Boston Marathon bombers.

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Person A: It’s 5:30 PM anywhere in North America, and the caller on the sports talk radio station has an opinion: the front office of his favorite team is a collection of imbeciles. They’re idiots. The players they acquired are useless. The talent they let go is irreplaceable. Morons. Every single one of them.

Why? No reason is given. It’s sports talk radio, and there isn’t time for reasoning and analysis. It’s about sound bytes, and the most recent caller provided a nice little blue collar rant with which the rest of the commuters listening will identify and enjoy.

Person B: A couple hours later, an unappreciated underachiever gets home from his unchallenging office job. Within minutes of arriving at the house, the transaction tracker on a mobile sports app gets checked, a website is visited, players are compared and the exact same conclusion is had: the general manager is an idiot who has made a series of terrible mistakes with his roster construction.

Why? Well, it’s plain to see with a statistical breakdown and a cost/benefit comparison that accounts for a declining skill set based on the history of similar players and current projections.

Who is the bigger idiot: Person A or Person B?

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The moment you’re born, you start dying.

This is a particularly pessimistic outlook on one’s existence, but it’s also painfully accurate. We’re in the constant process of moving toward our own demise. Certainly, good things happen along the way. We learn. We find things that give us a sense of fulfilment. We seek out little moments of happiness, but then, we shuffle off.

The life of a Major League pitcher is a microcosm of all this. From the moment a pitcher throws his first pitch in the league, his velocity begins to decline, and with it, a good measure of everything else he’s capable of doing on the mound.

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On Monday night, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers will compete against each other in the 163rd game of their respective seasons. The winner of this match will progress to another single elimination game (against the Cleveland Indians), while the loser will be done for the season. This is the case because after 162 games, the Rays and Rangers both have 91 wins, 71 losses and a .562 winning percentage.

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Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres

Every Friday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the four competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Wednesday night’s Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres game. We call this #PropHate.

The Narrative

Three of the five teams that comprise the National League West division are notable. The defending champion San Francisco Giants are staggering through their schedule, losing to teams like the Mets while fielding a roster of Quad-A players filling in for injuries and watching their previously dominant starting rotation crumble before their eyes. The Los Angeles Dodgers have bought every free agent and acquired every regretful contract that ever existed over the last ten months, and they still struggled mightily in the early going before the promotion of Yasiel Puig and resurrection of Hanley Ramirez brought them back to life. The Arizona Diamondbacks lead the division, thanks to the holy triumvirate of above average pitching, great team defense and America’s First Baseman, Paul Goldschmidt.

Then there are the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres.

Here are the best things you can say about these two teams:

Padres: Their stadium sure looks nice, and I hear that the climate in San Diego is wonderful.
Rockies: They haven’t lost as many games as I would’ve thought they’d have lost.

For the purposes of deciding postseason baseball and eventually a champion of the 2013 season, Colorado and San Diego might as well not play baseball against each other. It’s a meaningless tilt. But the system of baseball’s regular season schedule is built in such a manner that even the least important games of the summer, which will have no real bearing when things matter in September and October, must be played out.

… and so, last night, out it was played.

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Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros

Every Friday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the four competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Wednesday night’s Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros game. We call this #PropHate.

The Narrative

We like to say that things have a way of evening out, and while there’s some truth to that statement, it’s a bit more complicated than putting faith in the due theory. Coming into Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Houston Astros had lost five in a row, including back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Rays, who outscored the Astros 20-0 over the last two games.

Tampa Bay is a good team. Houston is a bad team. But the gap between good and bad in terms of Major League Baseball teams isn’t as wide as heroes and villains in summer blockbuster movies. Even the lowly Astros are unlikely to be consistently outscored by an average of ten runs a game by the mighty Rays.

And so, we get Wednesday night. A game in which Houston’s ace, Bud Norris, did what he’s done at home for the past two seasons. And a game in which Chris Carter did something that he hasn’t done at home since coming to the Astors. Good starting pitching and home run hitting combined to give Houston a 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay.

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