CLEVELAND – (Staff and Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred officially announced that the 90th All-Star Game, being planned for the summer of 2019, will be held at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. The Indians returned to the World Series last fall for the first time since 1997, which also was the last time the team hosted the All-Star Game. The Indians took the Chicago Cubs to seven games last year before losing a dramatic World Series. Cleveland also hosted the All-Star Game in 1935 (the third in the event’s history) as well as 1954, 1963 and 1981.
“Last year’s World Series was a great illustration of the rich baseball history in Cleveland,” Mandfred said in a statement. “We are delighted that the 2019 All-Star Game will be in Cleveland with the Indians’ loyal fans during an exciting time for the franchise. Major League Baseball looks forward to bringing 90th Midsummer Classic to downtown Cleveland in 2019 to celebrate the best of our sport.”The Indians will follow this year’s All-Star Game hosts, the Miami Marlins, and the Washington Nationals in 2018.
“On behalf of the Indians organization, we are truly honored and thankful to Major League Baseball for being awarded the 2019 All-Star Week festivities,” Indians owner Paul Dolan said. “This is a very exciting time for our city and organization. We have had tremendous excitement coming off our American League championship and historic World Series appearance. This announcement will only build on that heightened profile and momentum.
“Twenty-nineteen will mark the 25th anniversary of our ballpark (Jacobs/Progressive Field), a timeframe where generations of our fans have experienced tremendous memories. With significant renovations over the last two years, our ballpark truly is a crowned jewel in the sports industry. We look forward to putting on a great show for Major League Baseball and fans all around the world.”
The 2017 All-Star Game is slated for July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami, marking the first time that the Marlins will host the event in their franchise history. The 2018 game is scheduled for Washington DC.
BOSTON – (Staff Report from Official club news release) – The Boston Red Sox announced that 10-time All-Star David Ortiz will have his number 34 retired from further use by the club on Friday, June 23, in pregame ceremonies preceding the Red Sox-Angels game at Fenway Park. The club announced plans to retire his number before his final regular season game in 2016 as a tribute to his exceptional career in a Red Sox uniform.
The number 34 will be the 11th on the right field facade of Fenway Park, joining Bobby Doerr’s #1; Joe Cronin’s #4; Johnny Pesky’s #6; Carl Yastrzemski’s #8; Ted Williams’ #9; Jim Rice’s #14; Wade Boggs’ #26; Carlton Fisk’s #27; Pedro Martinez’s #45; and Jackie Robinson’s #42, which is retired throughout Major League Baseball.
After signing with the Red Sox as a free agent on January 22, 2003, Ortiz became just the seventh player to appear in at least 14 consecutive seasons for the Red Sox (2003-16), along with Carl Yastrzemski (23), Dwight Evans (19), Tim Wakefield (17), Jim Rice (16), Jason Varitek (15), and Ted Williams (15). Ortiz is Boston’s only three-time World Champion in the post-World War I era, having led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013.
Ortiz hit 483 home runs with the Red Sox, a total that trails only Ted Williams (521) on the franchise’s all-time list. He also ranks among all-time club leaders in RBI (3rd; 1,530), hits (6th; 2,079), doubles (3rd; 524), extra-base hits (3rd; 1,023), runs scored (5th; 1,204), walks (4th; 1,133), total bases (5th; 4,084), times on base (4th; 3,241), and games played (5th; 1,953). Among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances for the Red Sox, Ortiz ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.570) and OPS (.956), having hit .290 with a .386 on-base percentage with Boston.
Known as the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history, Ortiz is the franchise’s all-time leader with 10 walk-off home runs in the regular season. He recorded an additional seven walk-off hits with Boston, as his 17 game-ending RBI rank first in franchise history since RBI became an official statistic in 1920 (source: Elias Sports Bureau). The 2016 season was Ortiz’s 10th with at least 100 RBI, passing Ted Williams for the most such seasons in Red Sox history. He is one of only five players to record as many as 10 seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI for a single team, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, and Albert Pujols.
In 2016 Ortiz batted .315 (169-for-537) and led the major leagues in doubles (48), extra-base hits (87), slugging percentage (.620), and OPS (1.021), also pacing the Red Sox in home runs (38), RBI (127), walks (80), and on-base percentage (.401). He set major league records for most homers, RBI, doubles, and extra-base hits in a final season, and also set single-season records in each of those categories for a player age 40 or older (source: Elias Sports Bureau). The 2016 season was Ortiz’s 10th with at least 100 RBI, passing Ted Williams for the most such seasons in Red Sox history. He is one of only five players to record as many as 10 seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI for a single team, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, and Albert Pujols.
Named MVP of the 2004 ALCS and of the 2013 World Series, Ortiz is the Red Sox’ career leader in postseason games (76), runs (51), hits (80), doubles (19), home runs (17), extra-base hits (38), RBI (57), total bases (154), and walks (59). He won Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS with walk-off hits in Boston’s historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series versus New York, and in 2013 he provided the signature moment of the Red Sox’ postseason by hitting a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning of a 6-5 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS. Among major leaguers with at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic, Ortiz owns the best-ever World Series batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.576), and slugging percentage (.795).
Originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an international free agent in November 1992, Ortiz compiled a lifetime .286 batting average (2,472-for-8,640) in 2,408 games, totaling 1,768 RBI, 1,419 runs scored, a .380 on-base percentage, a .552 slugging percentage, and a .931 OPS. His 541 home runs rank 17th in major league history, while he also ranks in the top 10 all-time in doubles (10th; 632) and extra-base hits (T-8th; 1,192). Ortiz is one of just four players with at least 500 career homers and three World Series championships, along with Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson.
Among designated hitters, Ortiz is the all-time major league leader in games (2,029), hits (2,191), doubles (557), home runs (485), extra-base hits (1,060), total bases (4,239), and RBI (1,569). He earned the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award a record eight times (2003-07, 2011, 2013, 2016), and his seven Silver Slugger Awards as DH (2004-07, 2011, 2013, 2016) are the most ever at the position. He also twice earned the American League’s Hank Aaron Award (2005, 2016), given annually to the top offensive performer in each league.
A champion of charitable initiatives, Ortiz won the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s highest honor for those who best represent the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field. He created the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to provide critical pediatric services in New England and in his native Dominican Republic. In Boston, he has provided his time and other resources to Mass General Hospital for Children, donating tickets to patients from the hospital as part of his “Papi’s Pals” program.
BOSTON – (Staff report from official team news release) – The Boston Red Sox have added nine non-roster invitees to the team’s 2017 Spring Training roster: outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd, and Ben Taylor.
President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski made the announcement.
The Red Sox have now invited a total of 15 players to Major League Spring Training camp as non-roster invitees.
Brian Bogusevic, OF – Bogusevic (boh-guh-SEH-vick), 32, spent the 2016 season playing for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. In his most recent major league stint, the left-handed hitter played 22 games with the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, going 15-for-58 (.259) with nine runs scored, three doubles, two home runs, and five RBI. He has appeared in 321 major league games with the Houston Astros (2010-12), Chicago Cubs (2013), and Phillies (2015), batting .238 (178-for-748) with 93 runs scored, 36 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, 67 RBI, and 24 stolen bases. In 240 games in the outfield, Bogusevic has recorded 19 assists and eight double plays, having made 118 starts in right field, 35 in left field, and 22 in center field. In 2011 he led all National League right fielders with four double plays in only 87 games.
Rusney Castillo, OF – Castillo, 29, spent the majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket, leading the PawSox with five triples alongside a .263 batting average (104-for-395), 55 runs scored, 20 doubles, two home runs, 34 RBI, and nine steals in 103 games. In his final 35 games with Pawtucket, the Cuban native posted a .328/.369/.445 batting line with six doubles and five triples. The right-handed hitter began the 2016 campaign with the major league club, appearing in nine games over three stints with Boston. Following the season, he batted .392 (20-for-51) in 14 regular season games with Caguas of the Puerto Rican League. Originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent on August 23, 2014, Castillo has played 99 major league games over parts of three seasons, batting .262 (83-for-317) with 45 runs scored, 12 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 35 RBI, and seven stolen bases.
Allen Craig, OF/INF – Craig, 32, was limited to 29 minor league games in 2016 as a result of two stints on the disabled list, from April 14-May 16 and from May 21-August 13. In 22 contests with Triple-A Pawtucket and seven rehab games with Short-A Lowell, he went 18-for-95 (.189) with seven runs, four doubles, one triple, one home run, and nine RBI. A 2013 National League All-Star, Craig has hit .276 (506-for-1,831) with 59 home runs and 296 RBI in 534 career major league games between the Cardinals (2010-14) and Red Sox (2014-15). Acquired by Boston from St. Louis at the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline, the 2011 World Series champion has recorded a 1.000 fielding percentage in 261 career games in the outfield (397 total chances) and a .998 mark (5 E/2,052 TC) in 240 games at first base. In 34 career postseason games, Craig has hit .260 (26-for-100) with five home runs and an .839 OPS.
Rafael Devers, 3B – Devers, 20, was named Red Sox 2016 Minor League Defensive Player of the Year after committing only 15 errors over 117 games (116 starts) at third base with High-A Salem, leading Carolina Leaguers in fielding percentage (.960), total chances (377), putouts (104), and assists (258) at the position. Also tabbed a 2016 High Class A All-Star by Baseball America, the left-handed batter hit .282 (142-for-503) with 64 runs scored, 32 doubles, eight triples, 11 home runs, 71 RBI, and 18 stolen bases last season. Devers also played in 25 games for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, batting .243 (18-for-74) with four doubles. Having played no defensive position other than third base since signing with the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2013, the Dominican native has batted .293 (361-for-1,233) with an .805 OPS, 87 doubles, 14 triples, and 29 home runs in 313 minor league games.
Kyle Kendrick, RHP – Kendrick, 32, has made 212 starts and 41 relief appearances at the major league level, going 81-81 with a 4.63 ERA (659 ER/1,281.0 IP) between the Philadelphia Phillies (2007-14) and Colorado Rockies (2015). He pitched in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization in 2016, making four rehab starts with the Rookie-level Arizona League club but spending most of his season with Triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA (49 ER/93.1 IP) in 16 appearances (15 starts). In three Triple-A starts after returning from the disabled list on August 25, the right-hander posted a 1.88 ERA (3 ER/14.1 IP) with 10 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed. Kendrick has appeared in 141 minor league games (134 starts) since being selected by Philadelphia in the seventh round of the 2003 June Draft, going 42-57 with a 4.14 ERA (364 ER/792.0 IP) between the Phillies (2003-14), Rockies (2015), and Angels (2016) organizations.
Jordan Procyshen, C – Procyshen (pro-SESH-ehn), 23, has appeared in 178 minor league games since being selected by the Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2014 June Draft. The left-handed hitter spent the entire 2016 season with High-A Salem, batting .249 (55-for-221) with 16 doubles and four home runs. In 56 starts at catcher last season, he threw out 23 of 53 (43.4%) attempted base stealers. Procyshen started the 2015 South Atlantic League All-Star Game and was tabbed by Baseball America as the league’s best defensive catcher that season, when he threw out 40 of 122 (32.8%) attempted base stealers between Single-A Greenville and Salem. In his minor league career, Procyshen has batted .254 (156-for-613) with 33 doubles and seven home runs.
Chandler Shepherd, RHP – Shepherd, 24, went 2-3 with seven saves, a 2.81 ERA (20 ER/64.0 IP), and a .189 opponent batting average in 40 appearances (one start) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket in 2016. The Kentucky native did not allow a hit over 7.1 innings in his final eight outings with the Sea Dogs before being transferred to the PawSox on June 20. At the Triple-A level last season, Shepherd held left-handed hitters to a .200 batting average (9-for-45) and zero extra-base hits. Following the season, he posted a 1.42 ERA (1 ER/6.1 IP) and held opponents to a .160 batting average in six appearances with Escogido of the Dominican Winter League, striking out six and walking none. The right-hander has appeared in 91 games (two starts) since being selected by the Red Sox in the 13th round of the 2014 June Draft, going 9-8 with 14 saves and a 3.18 ERA (58 ER/164.1 IP). He has recorded 159 strikeouts against only 36 walks, posting a 1.06 WHIP and a 4.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Ben Taylor, RHP – Taylor, 24, was selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2015 June Draft. He split the 2016 season between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, going 1-2 with eight saves, 98 strikeouts, and a 2.96 ERA (26 ER/79.0 IP) in 36 games (three starts) between the two clubs. Taylor averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings and recorded a 1.08 WHIP last season, holding opponents to a .217 batting average. He was named Red Sox Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May, when he went 3-for-3 in save opportunities and posted a 0.55 ERA (1 ER/16.1 IP) with 23 strikeouts and only two walks in six outings. The Alabama native has appeared in 50 minor league games (13 starts), going 1-4 with a 3.02 ERA (45 ER/134.0 IP), a 1.14 WHIP, and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Sam Travis, 1B – Travis, 23, appeared in 47 games for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2016 before suffering a season-ending knee injury on May 29. Selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 June Draft, the right-handed batter has hit .303 (283-for-934) with a .364 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, and 25 stolen bases in 245 minor league games. He earned his first invitation to Major League Spring Training camp in 2016, and in 18 Grapefruit League games he led the Red Sox with 13 RBI and batted .469 (15-for-32) with two home runs. In 2015 Travis was tabbed Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year after leading Boston farmhands in batting average (.307), hits (150), RBI (78), total bases (221), and walks (59). Following the 2015 season he was also named to the Arizona Fall League’s Top Prospects Team after pacing the league in hits (32), doubles (10), and runs scored (19).
COOPERSTOWN NY – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) -If you love baseball and care about the Hall of Fame, it is time to familiarize yourself with a principle called “The Observer Effect.” It is chronicled in science, but it is about to be a real thing in baseball. It could shape who ends up with a coveted spot in the sport’s shrine in the coming years.
The basic idea is that a process is changed when we are able to see it. This comes into play next year when the secret balloting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the Hall of Fame becomes public. On the next ballot, every voter’s choices will be revealed and open to scrutiny.
Baseball Hall of Fame
Plenty of ballots were made public before Wednesday night’s announcement that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were ticketed to be enshrined. But the difference between the vote totals that were public and final tallies was telling. And, as interesting as the candidacies for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were already, they may be much more so next year.
First the news on those two: Out of 442 votes and with 332 (75 percent) needed, Clemens got 239 (54.1 percent) and Bonds got 238 (53.8 percent). Each, in his fifth year, is up almost 10 percent. Of 14 new voters we know about, 13 picked both.
The thing here is the difference between the choices of voters who went public with their selections and voters who stayed private. Just before the results were announced, there were 250 voters who revealed their ballots, and Bonds was at 64.4 percent and Clemens at 63.2 percent. Clearly, many of the voters who resisted scrutiny by the general public left them off. Here’s a theory as to why.
Every voter who went public, either by posting on social media or writing about it or turning it in to one of the trackers, likely received a reaction. The experience here was a fusillade of responses, some approval but more than half who were upset with an omission. Angry people like to speak out, especially with the cover of social media anonymity. There is no doubt that the scrutiny played a role.
Most voters don’t want their choices torn apart. Was that the case for the majority who left Clemens, Bonds or both off their ballots? It remains to be seen. Will being outed with their ballots move the vote totals?
And that is why watching the tallies for Bonds and Clemens next year is so interesting.
Given the enormity of circumstantial evidence that those two used performance-enhancing drugs, it is clear the electorate initially didn’t want to give them a pass. Many voters felt voting for them insulted the game’s integrity. Some were looking for the Hall of Fame to take a position. Some hoped for more information. And others decided to withhold their votes for a period of time to communicate their disapproval.
Next year, everyone will be watching. How the electorate responds to that could be extremely interesting.
There is another thing. Raines didn’t make the cut for nine seasons. In his final year on the ballot, he got in overwhelmingly (though for transparency, without this vote). Many voters who hadn’t selected Raines in years past went for him on his final chance.
Some voters are comfortable with the public seeing them change position on a player; the decision here was to include Bonds and Clemens this year because they were superior to others from their era voted in despite suspicion of drug use. But how will the electorate feel about changing their disposition in the disinfecting sunlight?
Once the voting is entirely public, will voters resist the public calling them a “flip-flopper” by doing what so many did this year with Raines?
Next year may be the best chance Bonds and Clemens have to get in.
How the electorate changes — new voters are taking a softer stance on those from the so-called “PED era” — is an unknown. Some of the hardliners are removed from covering the game and will have their voting rights expire.
Trevor Hoffman, a bellwether for closers, came up five votes short this time around. But maybe the biggest injustice in this year’s Hall of Fame voting is that Vladimir Guerrero didn’t get in. His credentials are impeccable, and he carries no taint of PED use, but he was still 15 votes shy. Both are likely to get in with first-year nominees Chipper Jones and Jim Thome next year.
Bonds and Clemens? The guess here is that they don’t get in next season but they come within a couple dozen votes of qualifying. Tainted as they are, they both probably will get in eventually. But if the bump isn’t there next season — with every vote there for the fans to dissect — maybe the writing will be on the wall.
“The Observer Effect” could be very much on play in the coming year.