Why Oregon State (41-4) is dominating college baseball

    Oregon State has a 24-3 record against Pac-12 teams and is 10-0 against teams in the Top 50 of the current RPI.
    BY MIKE LOPRESTI

    NCAA.com

    May 15, 2017

    Start with the 41-4 record. Doesn’t that tell us all we need to know about the No. 1 ranked Oregon State team that is so clearly at the top of the baseball heap as the NCAA Tournament nears?

    Well, no. Lots of other things to mention, if we are to be up to date in our Beaver-ology. Here are 19 of them:

    1. Oregon State is 10-0 against teams in the top 50 of the current RPI.

    2. Junior Luke Heimlich leads the nation in earned run average with a nice, tidy 0.76. Actually, he should be a sophomore. He graduated from high school a year early and took the fast lane to Corvallis, Oregon.

    3. Heimlich and fellow pitcher Jake Thompson have combined to start 26 games. They have allowed 19 earned runs between them, and 109 hits. Plus 19 wins and one loss.

    4. Thompson has an earned run average of 1.11, third in the nation as of Monday, and a lot lower than his 3.6 grade point average in economics.

    5. Second baseman Nick Madrigal has been the catalyst on offense, hitting .389 at the top of the lineup. The 5-7 sophomore has been around the game for a long time. When he and his twin brother were born, their father put baseballs in their cribs at the hospital.

    6. The current Pac-12 membership has won 28 national championships. Next best is the SEC at 11. So it takes heavy lifting to win the league, but the Beavers just clinched the conference, and lead by light years. Actually, seven games through Sunday. They are 24-3 against Pac-12 teams by a combined score of 152-73.

    7. Oregon State has been to five College World Series. The Beavers’ first was 1952. They had to wait 53 years for the next one, but have been four times since 2005 — which says something about Pat Casey’s coaching era.

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    Time for MLB to declare war on fan conduct

    Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
    BY BUSTER OLNEY

    ESPN Senior Writer

    May 2, 2017

    If you get into a fight at a ballpark, you will be ejected and anybody who goes to a ballpark knows this, because before every game, public address announcers read a warning about fan conduct.

    If you touch a ball in the field of play, you will be ejected. Anybody who goes to the ballpark knows this, because before every game, public address announcers warn fans about this particular cause and effect.

    If you run onto the field, you will be ejected, and will be subject to a trespassing charge. Everybody knows this, because before every game, public address announcers remind fans about what will happen.

    In this way, Major League Baseball and the 30 teams could declare war on the kind of language that was directed at Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones Monday night. It’s a simple gesture that could make a big difference in protecting players and fans from this kind of garbage.

    As it stands, public address announcers in ballparks reference “abusive” language in their pregame announcement: Abusive language will not be tolerated...

    That warning can be much more explicit, forceful, and powerful: Any fan who aims racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay words at on-field personnel or fans will be immediately ejected and banned from (fill in the ballpark) permanently.

    It is mind-boggling -- appalling -- that this sort of step would be necessary, but that is where we are and where we have been. Seventy years and 17 days have passed since Jackie Robinson played in his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but generations of players have reported incidents similar to what Jones talked about with USA Today and the Boston Globe after Monday’s game: The N-word and other words or phrases hurled from the stands as weapons of mass degradation.

    Many players relate these episodes off the record, trying to bypass the conflict and treating the racist taunts as something to be endured. But why does anyone need to endure it within the confines of a private business establishment?

    Why should Adam Jones listen to it? Why should any player, any fan have to listen to it without consequences, any more than they would tolerate some idiot running around the field for nine innings, or somebody throwing punches in the center-field bleachers?

    If Major League Baseball and teams reinforce the language of the pregame warnings from the public address announcer, they can help embolden a silent majority -- the tens of thousands of fans at each game who aren’t yelling racist crap at players and who can point out to security the one or two who manage to demean everybody by deploying the N-word.

    The stakes will be raised, the culture shifted: If you say that stuff, security will find you with the help of 40,000 deputized fans prepared to make this the last day you are welcome at this park.

    If you say that stuff, you will be ejected. And everybody will know it.

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    MLB rule changes implemented to speed up play

    BY ANTHONY CASTROVINCE
    MLB.com

    March 2, 2017

    Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have come to agreement on several rules modifications, it was announced on Thursday. The changes include the anticipated alteration to the intentional walk and a fine-tuning of the replay review process, as well as changes that address some modern developments.

    Among the modifications:

    • The adoption of a no-pitch intentional walk. Managers will signal to the home-plate umpire their decision to intentionally walk a batter, and the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.

    • Managers will have 30 seconds to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke a replay review.

    • When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, crew chiefs may invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning, instead of the seventh inning.

    • With some exceptions, replay officials in the Replay Operations Center in New York will have two minutes to render a decision on a replay review.

    • Teams may not use any markers on the field as points of reference for fielders' defensive positioning. This issue became newsworthy last May, when the Mets contacted MLB about a Dodgers' request to make marks on the Citi Field grass to identify desired positioning for their outfielders. Rules 3.09 and 3.10 prevent clubs from leaving equipment on the playing field, but this modification makes it more clear that these specific kinds of markers are prohibited.

    • An addition to Rule 5.07 stipulates that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, such an action will be called a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b). This adaptation would appear to be a response to Padres reliever Carter Capps' unusual and controversial hop-step delivery.

    • An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach's box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. A base coach may leave the coach's box to signal a player once a ball is in play, provided that the coach does not interfere with the play.

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    Chris Davis tells Orioles fans exactly what they want to hear about Jose Bautista

    Orioles Chris Davis
    Getty Images
    R.J. Anderson

    January 29, 2017

    Chris Davis is not fond of Bautista, to say the least

    Team-sanctioned fan fests are generally laid-back affairs. The perk being that fans get to interact with the players (and management, to an extent) in ways that never happen otherwise.

    Take, for instance, the Q&A sessions that are a staple at these kinds of events. Usually, these sessions serve as PR batting practice for players, who flick away easy and hard questions with communications department-approved answers.

    "Usually" is the operative word in that last sentence, because sometimes you get Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis blasting Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. That's what happened on Saturday anyway:

    Sheesh.

    It should be noted that Orioles general manager Dan Duquette spent the winter distancing himself from Bautista by citing how the O's fanbase had grown accustomed to disliking Bautista.

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    Andy Marte dies at 33 in car crash

    Andy Marte Death
    Andy Marte JMG Baseball
    ESPN.com news services

    January 24, 2017

    Former major league infielder Andy Marte was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning.

    Metropolitan traffic authorities said Marte died early Sunday morning when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles north of Santo Domingo, the capital.

    Marte's family was holding a vigil for him on Sunday and planned to bury him within hours.

    Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura also was killed in a separate car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning.

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    MLB 10 Most Surprising Offseason Moves

    Most surprising mlb offseason moves
    (USA TODAY Sports Images)
    Anthony Castrovince
    Sports on Earth

    January 22, 2017

    Relatively speaking, this hasn't been as bonkers a Hot Stove season -- replete with "mystery teams" or stunning and previously unimaginable trade or free-agency activity -- as we might like.

    Color me less-than-shocked that Dave Dombrowski unloaded a bunch of prospects to land an established star (Chris Sale) or that Aroldis Chapman went back to the team (Yankees) to whom he wrote "bye for now" on Instagram when he was traded last summer, or that the Mets re-signed the guy (Yoenis Cespedes) around whom their entire offense operates or that Jose Canseco's ranting about something or that Manny Ramirez is doing something unorthodox or that people are arguing about the Hall of Fame.

    That all sounds about right.

    But thankfully, not everything has fit the script.

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    Yordano Ventura: a baseball comet, a precocious Royals talent who won’t be forgotten

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    Roger Clemens talks Hall of Fame

    Roger Clemens Hall of Fame
    CBS Sports

    January 21, 2017

    Only three players have garnered more than 50 percent of the vote into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and were not eventually inducted. Roger Clemens isn’t sure whether his name will one day be included among that cadre.

    “I have zero control over it,” Clemens said Thursday after finishing his first round of golf at the CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta Country Club .

    Slugger Jeff Bagwell, speedster Tim Raines and 13-time Gold Glove winner Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez were elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, each eclipsing the 75 percent of the vote needed for election.

    Clemens, on the other hand, was shunned again.

    He won a record seven Cy Young Awards during his 23-year career, along with an MVP award and back-to-back World Series titles with the New York Yankees.

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    Oscar Taveras and the Perils Facing Latin American Baseball Players

    Oscar Taveras
    Photo by Jorge Arangure Jr.

    In less than a week, Johnny DiPuglia—the Washington Nationals' director of Latin American Operations—will gather some of the team's recently-signed amateur prospects at the team's Dominican Republic academy to begin their transition into professional life.

    Part of that transition involves a talk from DiPuglia—something he has done for the past 10 years, first with the Boston Red Sox and now with the Nationals—who will warn players about the various obstacles that can prevent them from living out their major league dream: drinking, partying, and reckless driving.

    "You just have to use common sense, but it's hard to have common sense when you're 16-17 years old," DiPuglia said.

    This year, DiPuglia's talk will take a more somber tone. The death of St. Louis Cardinals' 22-year-old prospect Oscar Taveras in a car accident on Sunday tragically illustrated the hazards that exist for many Latin America players when they go home during the offseason.

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