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My Hero Duane Kuiper

These last few days before the baseball season actually begins are a bit frustrating. The previews have all been written. All the fan hopes are just out there, waiting, like some banquet table with food already on it, but NOOOOO you’re not allowed to eat just yet, stop nibbling on the bread, stop it.

All of this means: It’s time once again to tell my Duane Kuiper story.

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The Heyward Bet

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A Character Bet on Jason Heyward

When the Chicago Cubs gave Jason Heyward the second-biggest contract ever for an outfielder, they knew that he wasn’t a great offensive player. They obviously did not know he would go into the slump from hell, reaching a point where he looked utterly helpless at the plate.

But his career line was .268/.353/.431, and his power had mysteriously dwindled.

They bet on him anyway because he’s a world-class defender, a well-rounded player who helps teams in many quiet ways, and because of his makeup.

Let’s face it, the Cubs bet on Jason Heyward’s character. That bet is still on the table.

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Theo Jobs

On this week’s PosCast, Michael Schur and I talk about some basic rules of small talk, the unmitigated joy of Javy Baez’s tag in the World Baseball Classic and, mostly, we draft new jobs for Theo Epstein. He will really appreciate us doing that, I’m sure.

As always, available on Stitcher, iTunes, audioBoom and a podcasting center near you.

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Saving Homers

MLB

Ranking Top 10 Homer Saving Catches

There are too many great homer-savers to list and so any Top 10 will inevitably leave out awesome catches like Kenny Lofton’s. That said, it’s still a pretty good list, I think. And the videos come with it.

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All-World

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25 Players. 25 Countries.

You might remember the challenge — 25 players, 25 countries, build the best baseball roster you can. Several hundred of you sent in your rosters which, as I think I mentioned before, was a complete surprise. I expected, like, two people to do it.

And so, while I wanted it to be a contest, yeah, I was overwhelmed by all the responses. I couldn’t calculate whether your team would actually beat mine.

Since I ended up with Glen Hubbard playing second base, yeah, there’s a decent chance your team COULD beat mine.

But I’ll leave that up to you.

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Blanket or Not?

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There have not been many times in my life that I wished to be a judge. Oh sure, I suppose Judge Wapner at one point or another must have inspired me to think how I would rule on the “Did his dog pee-pee in her yard” case. I might have briefly thought about being a judge after watching Herman Munster so wisely preside over “My Cousin Vinny.” Judge Reinhold seemed like a person to be after his hot career start — Stripes, Fast Times, Beverly Hills Cop, Ruthless People, etc.*

*There have been FIVE Beethoven movies. I thought this should be said. Five. Judge Reinhold was only in 3 and 4 though, which, I am proud to say, were called “Beethoven’s 3rd” and ‘Beethoven’s 4th.” I love that they decided to call them that in the honor and spirit of actual Beethoven symphonies but am both puzzled and irked that they didn’t call the last movie “Beethoven’s 5th.” It was called Beethoven’s Big Break, instead. My guess is they probably couldn’t get the rights to the name.

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What Happened to Novak?

“If Djokovic doesn’t get bored or injured, he could reign supreme in tennis’ greatest era. And that will make him the greatest tennis player of all time.”

— Me, a little more than a year ago.

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No, it’s not really cool to quote yourself at the top of a story, but there is a point: Novak Djokovic no longer looks like the greatest tennis player of all time. On Wednesday, at Indian Wells, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios blew Djokovic off the court in two bludgeoning sets. It was the second time in the last two weeks that Djokovic lost to Kyrgios but, more to the point, it was the second time in two weeks that Djoker — by almost all accounts the greatest returner of serve in the history of tennis — did not break Kyrgios’s serve even once.

On Wednesday, Djokovic never came CLOSE to breaking Kyrgios’ serve. He did not have a single break point the entire match. If I remember right, he only forced one deuce the entire match.

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The Tag King

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Javy Baez is the greatest tagger in the history of baseball. This is quite an achievement for a 24-year-old baseball player, but it’s obviously true for one simple reason: Nobody even knew that was a thing before he came along.

Clicking on the story will also lead you to video of Baez’s greatest tags.

 

 

 

 

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Theo and Complete Wonderment

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The Osweiler Trade

Maybe I’ve just been burned too many times by Cleveland Browns hope … but I just can’t get all that excited about the Browns’ clever (and expensive) little maneuver to trade for super-bust Brock Osweiler in order to add another draft choice to their growing arsenal of draft picks. Best I can tell, Cleveland now has 495* high draft picks the next two years, and this presumably is good. I’m just not quite ready to build statues to Executive Vice President Sashi Brown and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta.

*Looking a bit more closely, it’s not quite 495 high picks. They have two firsts, two seconds and a third this year, one first, three seconds and a third next year.

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