Of all the compelling story lines in the Reds’ roller coaster 2014 season, the rise of Jumbo Diaz is one of the best. Rob Neyer has taken notice and placed Diaz in historical context among other pitchers who shop in the Big & Tall section. Neyer is primarily going off of Diaz’s "official" weight, which is listed at 315 pounds, even though, as Neyer notes, those official listings rarely have much relationship to actual reality at any given moment. Neyer also provides some interesting background at some of the heftier pitchers in baseball history.
Speaking of pitching and baseball history, John Thorn’s essential Our Game blog has reprinted a chapter from Thorn’s and John B. Holway’s 1987 book The Pitcher. The chapter traces the history of pitching in baseball going all the way back to the 1845 Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. It tracks the various rule changes and innovations that have impacted the constantly shifting dynamic between offense and pitching in baseball, and shows how our current pitching-dominant era is just another chapter in the history of the game. It’s a long read, but very informative.
Still speaking of pitching and baseball history, Patrick Dubuque of the Hardball Times has taken note of the fact that some of the most beloved and influential books ever written by baseball players were written by pitchers. Looking mostly at the works of the recently deceased former Red Jim Brosnan, Dubuque discusses the phenomenon that baseball books almost always wind up being more about baseball players than baseball itself. Or, as he puts it, "The conflict on the field proves to be a poor substitute for the conflict of the men on it." It’s a really nice take on the enduring popularity of baseball books, and a thoughtful look at the life and career of Brosnan himself. Worth a read.
It looks like we may know the name of the next Commissioner of baseball as soon as next week. The owners will be meeting in Baltimore this Thursday and a vote is expected at that time. According to Bob Nightengale, the three finalists are MLB Chief Operating Officer Bob Manfred, MLB Executive Vice President of Business Tim Brosnan, and the surprise finalist, Boston Red Sox chairman and minority owner Tom Werner. To be named Commissioner, a candidate must be approved by 23 of the 30 team owners. Jon Heyman reports that the smart money is on Manfred to succeed Alan H. "Bud" Selig, but White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is still resisting him despite that fact that he is Selig’s hand-picked successor. Heyman believes that Manfred has around 20 of the 23 votes he will need locked up, but lists the Reds as one of the six swing votes who are undecided and could go either way.
Much has been discussed over the past week or so about the now-famous beaning of Andrew McCutchen by the nefarious Arizona Diamondbacks. Conventional baseball wisdom holds that the Diamondbacks are headhunters, primarily due to the comments by the manager and general manager about their willingness to engage in eye-for-an-eye beanball retaliation. That’s all well and good, but Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs looked at the numbers and tried to separate the signal from the noise regarding who’s beaning who. That may be a futile exercise, but he did determine that, taking intent out of the equation, the Pirates are a far more dangerous team to face than the Diamondbacks are. All of this suggests that if Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson were capable of keeping their mouths shut, people would hate them a lot less. That’s probably not breaking news, but Sullivan engages in an interesting thought exercise here.
Also, it's worth noting that through the Pirates' Friday night game, McCutchen has not yet been placed on the disabled list, despite the fact that he hasn't played in a game since Sunday, August 3. The Pirates, who are in the midst of a playoff chase, have been playing shorthanded all week.
It’s August, meaning you should start seeing Halloween themed candy in stores any day now. That of course means holiday shopping season is right around the corner. And what do you get that Reds fan in your life who has everything How about the (literally) ultimate piece of Reds paraphernalia? After all, you can’t take it with you.
Finally, the MLB Network’s MLB Tonight aired a short feature story about the Tom’s River, New Jersey Little League team, specifically their power hitting first baseman/pitcher, a player named Kayla Roncin. While it’s a shame that it’s still a big deal to many people that a girl can play Little League with the boys, it’s still a nice piece. And it features a couple of cameos from the Reds’ own Todd Frazier, including a sweet moment where young Kayla is shown a motivational message from Frazier to his old team.