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Jon Marthaler

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About Jon Marthaler

  • Birthday 11/01/1980

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    I write about stuff: www.jonmarthaler.com
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    Local moron

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  1. I would like to use this space for us to discuss our Dads' greatest sports mispronunciations of all time. I'll go first: My dad called former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon "Steve Gannon" for his entire career, because of former WCCO drive-time host Steve Cannon.
  2. Last June, Phil Hughes took a liner off the knee. Because we have this kind of information now, MLB.com mentioned that the liner had left J.T. Realmuto's bat at 106 miles per hour. That's a little more than 155 feet per second, and Hughes' follow-through put him maybe 56 or 57 feet from where Realmuto made contact. In other words, Hughes had approximately one-third of a second to protect himself. The average blink of an eye takes 100 to 400 milliseconds. In this case, the cliche is correct: Hughes literally had the blink of an eye to react. At the moment of contact, Hughes was balanced on his left foot, following through, with his glove tucked behind himself as part of his natural rotation. All he could manage, in that one-third of a second, was try to get his right leg in front of his left, a Sophie's Choice of a defensive mechanism made with an athlete's instinct to get something - anything - with a little more padding in front of the ball. As fast as his reaction was, it wasn't enough; the liner caught him on the inside of his left kneecap, knocking him to the ground in agony. Testing revealed that the line drive had broken Hughes' femur, ruling him out for two months. Less than three weeks later, though, Hughes was discovered to have thoracic outlet syndrome, requiring surgery and ending his season; it's the rare upper-body condition, rather than the Realmuto liner, that will be remembered for cutting short Hughes' 2016 season. ---------------- Phillip Hughes - yes, sometimes called Phil - had the same Australian verve that had been the making of so many other cricketers that had scaled the Down Under heights before him. He'd grown up in the country, learning to slash everything to his off side (in baseball terms: the opposite field) because he batted left-handed and, well, the house was on that side of the field. The kids that break the windows in the house don't get to bat very much, and Hughes very much wanted to bat. By the time he'd broken into the New South Wales first team, he could hop away from any bowling to give himself room to fend it off, tennis backhand-style, away to the off side. It never won him prizes for technique, nor style, but it saw him break into Test cricket by the time he was 20 years old. That year, he became the youngest man to score two centuries in the same match, successfully thwarting South Africa's fast bowlers on the way to 115 and 160 in Durban. One Australian magazine put him on the cover under the headline "Little Don," referring to Don Bradman, the greatest batsman of all time. The longer he played on, though, opposition teams began to work him out. The preferred strategy, for the opposition, was to simply bowl directly at him - to make him pull the ball, in other words. In cricket, this is a legitimate technique. Bowl directly at the batsmen's legs, and you cramp his style; you make him either turn the ball behind himself, or risk getting hit on the leg pads and potentially be called out by the umpire. For someone like Hughes, consistently backing up to give himself the room to whack the ball away from himself, this was bad enough. Some bowlers, though, prefer to cut out the constant search for the batsman's legs, and instead bowl a "bouncer" - a euphemistic term for the ball that whizzes directly at the chest, or head. The technique is still the same, as a batsman; there's no place to put the ball but behind yourself. From the bowler's point of view, the bouncer has the side benefit of being completely terrifying. Imagine baseball, if throwing at the batter's head was considered not only acceptable but a legitimate strategy - that, rather than charging the mound throwing haymakers, the accepted response was to dust yourself off, even if you've just taken a ball off your collarbone at 90 mph. Hughes was in and out of Australia's Test team for the next few years. For every big innings, he had another two or three ugly matches, and in November 2014 he was just fighting to get another chance. His last Test had come in July 2013, against England. Now playing for South Australia, he was rounding into form against his former team, New South Wales. He'd scored 63 runs in almost three and a half hours of batting, on his way to another century - potentially the one that'd get him the call-up to the Australia squad again. NSW had peppered him, as teams always did, with bouncers. Sean Abbott was bowling, following the plan. His fourth ball of the over jumped up, a little more than Hughes was expecting, and caught the young batsman in the side of the neck. Hughes wobbled, for one second, then collapsed to the ground. ----------- I think a lot about the 2014 World Cup final, Germany versus Argentina, not for Mario Gotze's extra-time winner, but for a moment in the first half. German midfielder Christoph Kramer was involved in a collision with an Argentina defender that momentarily knocked Kramer senseless. Despite the obvious head injury, Kramer played for 14 more minutes before being substituted; later, referee Nicola Rizzoli said that Kramer had come up to him and asked repeatedly, "Ref, is this the final?" In that moment of the collision, my wife - who is not a sports fan, but was being forced to watch the game by her ridiculous husband - had reacted almost excitedly, along the lines of WHOA LOOK AT THAT. Being Brain Injury Woke like so many "good" sports fans, I chastised her for her apparent celebration. Her response has had me thinking for the last three years. "Don't get mad at me," she said. "You're the one that watches this stuff, not me." ----------- Here is what I am responsible for. I watch football non-stop in the fall, CTE be damned. I've never turned the channel during a hockey fight, even though bare-knuckle brawling is abhorrent on its own. I watch rugby despite the occasional skull fractures; I follow soccer closely despite the mounting evidence that heading the ball is leading to long-term brain injury for the participants. This is to say nothing of the countless non-brain injuries caused by these sports and all the others; in terms of human damage, I am only slightly above the ancient scoreboard-watchers who checked to see whether the Romans or the Lions were ahead. Here is how I make myself feel better: I do not watch mixed martial arts. I refer to concussions as "brain injuries." I make fun of people who say that Joe Mauer needs to "toughen up." This is all I can say to reassure myself: If I stop watching, it won't make a bit of difference. I am a free rider. This isn't my fault, right? It's all of our fault, right? I'm only a very small part of this, right? People would make their choice to play these games whether or not I wear a jersey and plan my day around the games, right? Please say yes. ------------ If you go down the list of popular sports, baseball is among the most blameless. Compared to football or hockey or rugby or any other contact-mandatory sport, baseball practically promotes old age. Career-ending injuries in baseball usually involve arm ligaments. Broken bones are rare. There is enough finesse and fine motor control involved in the game that the dark side of other sports- horse tranquilizers at halftime to kill the pain, and that sort of thing - are blessedly absent. And yet, Corey Koskie. Look at Joe Mauer's stats pre-concussion and post-concussion, and try to tell me that a concussion won't be the thing that keeps Minnesota's greatest hitter out of the Hall of Fame. Pretending that baseball doesn't have its own dark side - of drugs, and steroids, and all of the things that we don't talk about because the grass is green and the beer is cold and baseball is fun to play - is to ignore reality. To say nothing of Phil Hughes, or Brandon McCarthy, or of every single player at every level of baseball that stands in a batter's box or on a pitcher's mound, as the fastballs get faster and the line drives come back harder. ------------ We remember Ray Chapman, the answer to the macabre trivia question "Who is the only man to die as the result of an injury received during an MLB game?" Batting at twilight, against submariner Carl Mays, Chapman simply didn't see the dirty, scuffed-up ball that hit him; Babe Ruth, playing right field, said the crack of ball against skull was audible even that far away. The popular shortstop collapsed, blood streaming from his ear, and had to be carried off the field; he died later that night. His wife gave birth to their first daughter six months later. ----------- Following Phillip Hughes's death, there were some in cricket that called for the "bouncer" to be banned entirely. There have been rules in place since the 1930s, limiting the number of fielders that can stand behind the batsman - thus reducing the benefit of bowling at the batsman's body. After the West Indies and Australian teams of the 1970s and 1980s used repeated bouncers to scare the daylights out of opposing batsmen, the International Cricket Council limited them to two per over, or two out of every six deliveries. This limited the potential carnage, but it didn't end it. Some of the best batsmen in history - Brian Lara, Justin Langer, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ricky Ponting, and on and on - have been bloodied, or knocked unconscious and hospitalized, by bouncers that they simply could not avoid. Skill has nothing to do with it; to bat is to accept the risk of the next ball being the one that kills you. The bouncer hasn't been banned, of course. Australia's plan of attack against India, in the Test series that just concluded, included bowling bouncer after bouncer at the Indian batsmen, trying to put them off their games. ----------- It's Opening Day for the Twins, and I'm excited about the season, of course I am. Not about the Twins' chances, necessarily, but about the return of baseball - nightly games, and listening on the radio while I drive somewhere, and reading the game score in the paper, and catching a couple of innings on TV before going to bed. My attention helps sell advertising; that advertising funds baseball; players put themselves at physical risk as a result. This is as true in baseball as it is in any other sport. Phil Hughes is back in the Twins' starting rotation. I would like to ignore all of this.
  3. 1. Pitch Clock I used to be anti-pitch clock, like a lot of people. "Baseball doesn't have a clock!" I exclaimed, stupidly forgetting the day that I saw Freddy Garcia average (estimating here) fourteen hours between pitches. By the end of the third inning of the first pitch-clocked game I saw, I was a convert, and you will be too. It moves the game along. I now support the shortest pitch clock possible, as well as a between-innings clock, and also support giving the umpire a BB gun to shoot people who don't comply. 2. Eliminating Mound Visits Baseball is the only sport that allows coaches, managers, and other players to call unlimited timeouts. This is because every other sport realized that, given this unchecked power, everyone would routinely abuse it. Somehow, baseball sat through Joe Torre's managerial career without once thinking, "You know, we're kind of tired of watching him trudge out to the mound at 0.03 mph, twelve times a game." Give each team three timeouts, or one, or whatever, but otherwise let the pitch clock rules stand. 3. Limiting Pitching Changes There are about eighteen different ways of doing this. Among them: Require pitchers to face a certain number of batters Allow teams to make only a certain number of mid-inning pitching changes per game Require that pitching changes take place during a timeout (see item #2) Limit or eliminate the warmup throws that the reliever gets when he reaches the mound. Require bullpen cars that travel at least 45 mph Put Tony La Russa in prison Whatever it takes. Again, no other sport takes five minutes to make a substitution. Let's get it together, baseball. 4. Ten seconds to call for replays, no managers involved I mean, nothing beats watching a manager stand on the second step of the dugout, staring at the guy who's on the phone with the upstairs replay coordinator, who is watching TV to decide whether or not a challenge is a good thing, right? This was never the point of replay; the point was to eliminate the truly awful decision, the one where you know immediately that the umpire (usually Phil Cuzzi) is a moron. We don't need managers and video coordinators involved in that. Plus: watching players make challenges is hilarious because they're always wrong. Every team will have at least two players that cannot believe that they are ever out, and will challenge every call and waste their team's replay challenges, and we will all get to laugh at them. 5. Expand the Strike Zone I'm a little tired of the fooling with a strike zone; I legitimately cannot tell you what the rule actually is, these days. The high strike / low strike / whatever probably won't change the game that much; it'll just change the pitcher's aiming point. That said, I do think that anything that promotes swinging the bat is probably a decent thing. 6. Bunt Foul, You're Out Here's a solution: don't bunt. 7. Limit Pickoff Throws I don't think this is a terrible idea, but it seems like it's pretty far down the list of the things that are slowing down games. 4,893. Automatic Intentional Walks I mean, it's fine? We've saved ourselves six seconds a week? That's great? 63,852: Seven-inning Games Yes, after 120 years, let's change the length of the game. That's a great idea. 1,890,293,298: Ties I mean, I guess we could shorten the games by introducing ties. You finish the ninth inning tied, the hell with it, we'll try again tomorrow. This is a terrible idea, but at least we're not deliberately altering how the game is played, we're just introducing an outcome to the game that hasn't previously been used unless it's spring training or Bud Selig is involved in the decision-making. 1,890,293,299: Everyone Starts With A 1-1 Count 1,890,293,300: Starting the 10th Inning With A Runner On Second Now you're just being stupid.
  4. The Twins medical staff is under fire again for yet another misbegotten medical decision, and according to sources, some of the doctors on staff are starting to question the team's long-running practice of relying on Yahoo! Answers for medical advice. "We've long been believers in Yahoo! Answers, which has been our go-to repository of cutting-edge medical research," said a source, who's intimately involved with the team's medical staff. "Unlike traditional journals, which can be months, even years behind the time, we've found Yahoo! Answers to be constantly updated and responsive to changing the medical needs of our age. That said, when reviewing outcomes from our decisions, we've yet to see an improvement, and so we're beginning to wonder whether the research is truly up to snuff." The Twins have long relied on the medical advice of researcher "xxx_legday_xxx", whose groundbreaking theories about using weight training to cure both partially and fully torn arm ligaments have long been among the top Google results for the search "how to heal elbow without surgery." After Twins outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff became the latest Twin for whom the research failed, though, several members of the Twins staff started checking into his background. According to the source, the team found that the cutting-edge researcher had also advocated long-disproved medical theories like bloodletting and trepanning, as well as offering a wealth of ill-considered advice about sexual health and making thousands of dollars per month by working two hours a week from home. Despite the team's long-held assumption, investigation was unable to unearth any documentation of what the team assumed was Yahoo! Answers' strict peer-review process, or any sort of vetting process of any kind to ensure that answers were indeed provided by experts. "We're just starting to wonder about this whole thing," said the unnamed medical staffer. "But why would they even put it on the internet if it wasn't true? Who has that kind of time?" At press time, the source was investigating another online journal called "WebMD," but had gotten sidetracked by the looming possibility that his occasional headaches were in fact a sign of brain cancer.
  5. In a late-night tweet, President Donald Trump branded the recent redesign of indispensable baseball statistics website baseball-reference.com "the enemy of the people." Said Trump in a tweet, posted after midnight on February 26: "Baseball-reference redesign: Media elites keep changing things so that REAL fans can't find baseball facts to refute their FAKE NEWS. Enemy of the people. Sad!" The redesign, rolled out last week to drastically improve the site's performance on mobile devices and create a better foundation for future improvements, proved mostly popular, though a few fans voiced temporary displeasure with features they had previously used. As the week wore on, the chatter died down, as most fans found that extremely slight changes to a free service were in fact not critical to their day-to-day lives. The President, meanwhile, was not in such a forgiving mood. White House watchers speculated that Trump, an avid user of mobile devices, was unhappy that some biographical information for players was hidden in the redesign, a conscious choice by site designers in order to move player statistics higher on the page. "While the criticism is unfortunate, we're very happy with the changes we've made, and have received positive feedback from many people," said Baseball-Reference founder Sean Forman. "Calling us 'the enemy of the people' seems a little crazy, but we can't control how everyone feels about the redesign." Trump joins Keith Hernandez and Keith Law as high-profile media figures who have criticized the redesign.
  6. According to sources, Twins general manager Terry Ryan is getting more and more tired of having to dress up as former Indians executive Derek Falvey every morning at spring training, and is considering other options. Ryan, 63, hatched the deception last year as the Twins slid to the worst season in franchise history, but reportedly is tired of the extra work that the disguise involves. Friends say that Ryan now grouses throughout his daily two-hour makeup session, which transforms him into a reasonable facsimile of Falvey, who until recently served as the general manager in Cleveland, where his partnership with manager Terry Francona helped return the woebegone franchise to the World Series in 2016. Ryan is also increasingly worried about the potential legal ramifications of kidnapping Falvey, former Rangers executive Thad Levine, and Minnesota director of baseball research Jack Goin, locking the three in a basement, and hiring actors to portray the latter two. "Terry just wonders if he's doing the right thing here, what with the three counts of felony kidnapping he'll no doubt face," said a source. "Plus, the disguise is really starting to irritate his skin, especially the hairpiece." Sources say that Twins president Dave St. Peter okayed the scheme midway through the 2016 season, allowing Ryan and company to keep control of the Twins' dealings for future seasons, while portraying a changing front office to disgruntled fans. St. Peter and others have been concerned about Ryan's offseason dealings, which were so Ryan-like as to raise questions from a fanbase that has long been used to the GM's over-cautious, cheap strategies. Insiders say that Ryan is considering hiring a third actor to portray Falvey, while officially returning to the team as a "special advisor," thus removing the need for the morning disguise routine. Ryan has also toyed with the idea of "outing" himself by awarding a roster spot to a terrible veteran pitcher at the expense of a prospect, but - after signing Hector Santiago, Matt Belisle, and Ryan Vogelsong - is unsure how much more he could do. "He's just getting tired," said the source. "If he signs Jason Bartlett again, then you'll know - he wants people to find him out. Until then, he'll have to keep going with the ruse."
  7. Thursday, the Twins officially announced what many had suspected all along: "Engelb Vielma," supposedly a light-hitting middle-infielder from Venezuela, is actually a fictional creation, a la Sidd Finch. "Frankly, we were surprised that our joke went on so long," said Twins spokesman Dustin Morse. "It seemed obvious that it was a prank, especially when we put it out that his middle name was 'Stalin,' but in the internet age, people just assumed that he was a prospect and didn't question it." Vielma, whose name was created by scrambling the letters in "Level Beaming," the title of a feature on Rob Antony's new car, supposedly batted a combined .265 across High-A and AA last season. With the Twins' dearth of shortstop options, some wondered if Vielma could potentially provide some much-needed depth. "I think people just wanted to believe," said Antony. "After things with Levi Michael went south, people just needed something to grab onto." When asked about the status of Ehire Adrianza, whose name is an anagram for "Zanier Airhead," or Wander Javier ("A Redrawn Jive"), Antony only grinned cryptically and said, "Hope is definitely around the corner for Twins fans."
  8. Kyle Cody Cody Tyler Jay Kyle Cody Kyle Jay Cody Tyler Cody Tyler Kyle Cody Jay Tyler Jay Kyle Tyler Kyle Jay Jay Tyler
  9. .230/.280/.315 with four doubles, demoted/otherwise off the roster by June 1.
  10. PLEASE start writing about the Bundesliga. I would love that so much.
  11. People of TD. I've helped write The Complete Darkness, a look at Minnesota United's 2014 season. Allow me to answer some potential questions you might have here: Minnesota has a soccer team? They sure do! Minnesota United plays in the NASL, which is now the second division of American soccer. It's the second division that's given us a number of MLS teams, like Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Montreal. I've been leading the charge to cover them, along with Wes Burdine (the driving force behind the book) and Bill Stenross (who wrote, like, half of it). I haven't followed Minnesota United before. Why would I buy a book about their season? Three reasons: 1) It's got more than just 2014 United talk. It's got two long articles, one about the team's Brazilian core, and a truly wonderful one about Carl Craig, the team's fascinatingly strange assistant coach. 2) Minnesota is the frontrunner for the next MLS team, and if you like soccer, you're going to want to know something about the team when it happens. 3) It's only $12. That's not much. And you'll help support the team of people who want to make fun cool stuff to read and listen to - just like you do with this site. Thanks for listening, I hope you'll consider ordering. And yes, I posted this on Wild Xtra too. Please forgive the cross post.
  12. Why, I do believe that's the Bell of Optimism that I hear ringing! DING DING DING DING DING DING
  13. Follow-up, now that I'm a little less peevish today. I get that the Twins don't want to give out ridiculous Jon Lester-style contracts. There are a ton of examples of terrible long-term deals out there, and giving somebody an eight-year, $200 million contract and then watching him stink from years 3-8 is not great business. And I get that youth development is probably much, much more important than free agent signings. All I'm asking is for the Twins brass to be honest. Tell us that you didn't see the value of the big signing. Tell us that the plan is to have money available for up-and-coming youngsters that you think are going to break out. Tell us that there's a plan. Just don't piss on our heads and tell us it's raining. "We made competitive offers, but so and so wanted to sign with a contender." Well, I don't see the Cubs and White Sox struggling to give away money. And worst of all, please don't cite Josh Willingham, Kendrys Morales, or - now - Torii Hunter as evidence that the team is really breaking the bank. Quit trying to tell us that money is actually being spent and "boy, we had a really competitive payroll." It's not. It's really not.
  14. Forbes.com reported today that Major League Baseball league-wide revenues jumped from $8 billion in 2013 to $9 billion in 2014, mostly due to the league's new national TV contracts and revenue from MLB Advanced Media, the online streaming arm of MLB. This continues a trend.A look back: In 2001, revenue was $3.6 billion; adjusted for inflation, $4.66 billion in today's dollars, according to Forbes. That year, three MLB teams had payrolls over $100 million; the Yankees led the way with just over $112 million. Sixteen more had more than $50 million in payroll that season. Since then, revenue has doubled, more or less. The Dodgers had a $235 million payroll last year, and the Yankees nearly cleared the bar to $200 million as well. 14 other teams had payrolls of at least $100 million. $200 million is the new $100 million, when it comes to payroll. $100 million is the new $50 million. Since Target Field opened in 2010, the median MLB payroll has gone from $85 million to $107 million - right in line with revenue, which, just like the median payroll, has jumped 25% in that five-year span. During that same period, the Twins' payroll has declined, from $98 million to last year's $85 million. Don't let the Twins fool you; they will try to tell you that they've spent plenty of money. They haven't. Remember this the next time Terry Ryan or Dave St. Peter talks about being "fiscally responsible." Remember this the next time your neighbor complains about Joe Mauer's contract being the problem with the Twins. Remember that MLB's revenue explosion, and the great gobs of taxpayer money that funded Target Field, mean that the Twins are making more money now than they ever have before - indeed more money than they could ever have dreamed of. They're just pocketing it, instead of spending it on improving the team. Click here to view the article
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