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Report: Pitch clocks, more changes ahead for baseball

Good news on the baseball pace-of-play front: Longtime baseball scribe Ken Rosenthal reports at The Athletic that players and Major League Baseball officials are working together to bring about changes soon. 

>> Read more trending news

This comes after some contentious exchanges earlier in the year in which MLB commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to impose changes regardless of the players’ acceptance. 

With the great American Pastime getting even slower this year, it’s nice to see the players could be coming to their senses and being open to things that can make the game more appealing to a wider audience without compromising what makes it great. 

They played the game for about 130 years without pitchers walking around the mound and the batter stepping out after every pitch. They can learn to do so again. 

Indians set AL mark with 21st straight win; now chase disputed MLB record

The Cleveland Indians became the first American League team to win 21 consecutive games Wednesday, as a 5-3 victory against the Detroit Tigers completed a series sweep. The Indians’ victory snapped a tie with the Oakland Athletics, who won 20 consecutive games in 2002.

>> Read more trending news

Whether the Indians, now tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs of the National League with 21 straight wins, go for the major-league record Thursday when they host the Kansas City Royals depends on whether you believe in asterisks.

A Giant asterisk.

The New York Giants were unbeaten in 26 games during the 1916 season, but there was a tie game sandwiched in the middle of the steak. The Giants won 12 straight games, played a 1-1 tie and then won 14 in a row.

The official record keeper of Major League Baseball still recognizes the Giants’ streak

"A tie was never an acceptable result of a baseball game," Steve Hirdt, executive vice president at the Elias Sports Bureau, told ABC News. "If one happened because of darkness or rain or some certain circumstance, the game was played over.

“The Giants' 26-game winning streak has existed since the beginning of time," Hirdt told ABC News. “I do not know why certain people are looking at the 21 now and holding that up as the record or alternately trying to parse language so that they can somehow exclude the 26.

"It's the longest winning streak, it's the record for most consecutive wins, etc., because a tie game breaks neither a winning streak or losing streak for a team because it always gets replayed unless the season ends first."

Some media outlets refused to split hairs. Fox Sports tweeted “The @Indians tie the MLB record for most consecutive games with a win.”

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted his agreement with Fox Sports, posting that “Unbeaten ≠ winning streak.”

The official Twitter account of Major League Baseball was vague enough to satisfy both sides: 

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer off Buck Farmer (4-3), and Mike Clevinger (10-5) won his fourth straight start for Cleveland.

Hurricane Irma: Tim Tebow works with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in preparing for storm

Tim Tebow is doing charitable things once again.

>> Click here for complete Hurricane Irma coverage from the Palm Beach Post

Per "The Paul Finebaum Show," the former Florida Gators quarterback is working alongside Gov. Rick Scott in helping the Sunshine State prepare for Hurricane Irma, which is supposed to arrive this weekend.

>> Hurricane Irma: Live updates

Irma already has caused the cancellation of several college football games, including the Gators hosting Northern Colorado on Saturday. Miami decided not to travel to Arkansas State, and South Florida vs. Connecticut also was postponed.

>> PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma approaches Florida

Scott has been asking Florida citizens to volunteer to assist those who are in need as the disastrous storm heads their way.

>> Read more trending news

People willing to volunteer can go to VolunteerFlorida.org to sign up.

Red Sox accused of using Apple Watches to steal pitching signs from Yankees

The Boston Red Sox are facing allegations of cheating in a situation reminiscent of the 2007 New England Patriots Spygate controversy.

>> Watch the news report here

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed accusations that the Red Sox had been stealing pitching signs in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

>> On Boston25News.com: Red Sox, Yankees team up to raise money for hurricane relief

The allegations stem from a Red Sox vs Yankees series at Fenway Park in mid-August when, according to the New York Times, staff members and Red Sox players used Apple Watches as a way to share the signals.

“Do I think sign stealing is wrong? No, I don’t," Dombrowski said. “People are trying to win it however they can. It’s an edge we can gain.”

MLB has not prohibited players from looking at catcher signals and relaying the information to others, but they have said any use of technology to see signals is against the rules.

The Times also reports that the Red Sox have filed a complaint against the Yankees for using broadcast cameras to steal pitching signals, and while he would not go into details, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that there were allegations on both sides.

>> Read more trending news

“We actually do not have a rule against sign stealing, and it has been a part of the game for the long time,” he said. “It’s the electronic equipment that creates the violation, and I think the rule against electronic equipment has a number of reasons behind it.”

Manfred said the investigation is not complete into allegations on either side, and that it was too soon to talk about possible discipline. He did, however, indicate that taking away wins was unlikely because it is difficult to determine "to what extent this impacted the outcome of any particular game."

Arizona’s J.D. Martinez ties MLB mark with 4-homer game

J.D. Martinez tied a major-league record with four home runs in a game Monday as the Arizona Diamondbacks routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-0 for their 11th straight victory.

>> Read more trending news

Martinez became the 18th player in major-league history to hit four homers in a game, and the 16th in the modern era. He hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning, added a solo homers in the seventh and eighth, and finished with a two-run homer in the ninth.

The last player to hit four homers in a game was Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett, who connected against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 6, 2017.

Astros return home, huddle with Harvey evacuees

Members of the Astros, returning to Houston after playing three “home games” in Florida, spent part of Friday afternoon at the George R. Brown Convention Center to mingle with Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

>> Read more trending news

Sixteen members of the major-league baseball team and manager A.J. Hinch gave comfort to victims of the storm in what city officials hope is a march toward recovery, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Jose Altuve danced with a volunteer, while Jake Marisnick posed for photos with SpongeBob SquarePants, Tickle Me Elmo and a Disney princess.

“This is just the first day,” Hinch told the Chronicle. “People are going to need our help a month from now, six months from now, maybe a year from now, to help rebuild this city. This is a non-game day. It's not an off-day. It is our human obligation to make another person smile today.”

The Astros were back in town after playing a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Houston prevented a series sweep with a 5-1 victory against the Rangers on Thursday. They open a three-game series against the New York Mets with a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.

The convention center near Minute Maid Park was a natural rallying point for players.

"The only way to rebuild is to start, and part of the rebuilding process is Houston Astros baseball," Hinch told the Chronicle.

Members of the Astros and some of their families were joined at the convention center by team president for business operations Ryan Reid, broadcaster Geoff Blum, and team mascot Orbit.

“I thought we might have five or six guys,” Ryan told the Chronicle. “But it filled my heart with joy to see the kind of people we have on this team, to see the way they connected with the people here and to hear them sharing stories and having people cry in front of you. It's gut-wrenching. It's a roller coaster.”

Altuve is donating $30,000 plus $25,000 in shoes to victims of the hurricane, the Chronicle reported.

"I feel like I owe Houston something, all they have done for me," Altuve told reporters. "Now it's my time to show up and help people."

The Astros have donated 5,000 tickets to each game to the mayor's office for distribution to evacuees, volunteers, and first responders.

All rise: Sonia Sotomayor watches Yankee's game from 'The Judge's Chambers'

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited New York’s Yankee Stadium to watch her beloved team take on the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, and it only made sense that she found herself right at-home in “The Judge’s Chambers.”

>> Read more trending news

Sotomayor, a Bronx-native, took a seat in the rooting section named for rookie Aaron Judge as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2, The Washington Post reported.

With a foam gavel stamped with “All Rise” in hand and wearing a black robe – both courtesy of the stadium, according to The Associated Press – Sotomayor could be seen smiling broadly as she cheered for the Yankees.

Sotomayor has rooted for the Yankees since she was a child. She threw out the first pitch to kick off the 2009 season at Yankee Stadium.

Teen who had foul ball stolen gets royal treatment from White Sox

Baseball fans dream of catching a foul ball. But imagine the agony of having that ball yanked out of your hand.

>> Read more trending news

That’s what happened to a 15-year-old Chicago White Sox fan during the second inning of Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins..

Ryan Baker was sitting along the left field foul line when a foul ball hit by Minnesota catcher Jason Castro landed in an open row in the stands. He scrambled to get the ball as it landed in the seats, but when he emerged with it, a woman in the row in front of him took it away.

"She pries my fingers, takes the ball and says it's her ball because it almost hit her. I was in disbelief," Baker told WGN.

Baker’s “what the heck” expression garnered plenty of sympathy and support on social media and on Chicago’s sports talk shows, WGN reported.

Later in the game, White Sox vice president and chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer brought Baker a baseball signed by White Sox broadcasters Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"A young man had a ball taken from him,” Boyer said. “We just wanted to correct that wrong.”

“To take a foul ball from a kid is probably not the greatest thing to do,” Benetti told WGN. “But she's a fan, too, and it just shows you how much everybody wants to have a foul ball.”

The White Sox took their kindness a step further by inviting Baker to Thursday’s game as a special guest, the Chicago Tribune reported. Baker got to meet White Sox players on the field and spent time in the broadcast booth. 

Newcomb’s custom cleats honor Braves greats

 

Sean Newcomb has a friend who has a friend who’s an artist and a former student at the University of Hartford, like Newcomb. The Braves pitcher knew that the guy, Corey Pane, had done some work on cleats for some of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the past.

And so, after Newcomb heard that major league baseball would have its first Players Weekend in September, with funky uniforms featuring nicknames on back, and with personalized cleats and such permitted and even encouraged, Newcomb had an idea.

Why not honor some of the greatest who ever played for the Atlanta Braves by getting some cleats made with their likenesses illustrated on the sides? After all, his size 14 feet and the mid-height he prefers – they’re almost hi-tops -- would provide quite a canvas, so to speak, on which Pane could do his thing.

The Nike cleats arrived this week, just in time for Newcomb to wear them in his Saturday start against the Rockies. And they are spectacular.

One cleat features legendary Hank Aaron on one side and Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Dale Murphy on the other. The other cleat has Phil Niekro on one side and the Big Three – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz – plus fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Cox on the other side.

The end of the familiar Nike swoosh morphs into a tomahawk.

“Some throwback Braves players, ones who’ve had their number retired here,” Newcomb said. “It was just kind of a tribute to them and the history here. It’s Players Weekend, so I might as well put some players on my cleats. Pretty happy how they turned out.”

He said he didn’t realize they were going to be quite as bold as they turned out, but Newcomb liked them and so did everyone he showed them to Friday in the clubhouse. He wears his baseball pants all the way to the ground, so someone might need to encourage him to make an exception Saturday and leave some room at the bottom to show off those impressive kicks.

“We’ve got a whole weekend where we get to put our nicknames on our jerseys and kind of be ourselves a little bit,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. I am pretty excited to wear these cleats. I didn’t really expect them to be so extravagant, but they’re definitely pretty sweet.”

Famous Norman Rockwell study drawing of umpires fetches $1.68M at auction

An original study drawing of a famous illustration by Norman Rockwell sold for $1.68 million Sunday night in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports auction.

>> Read more trending news

The 1948 study, or preliminary work, for “Tough Call,” which was used as the April 23, 1949, cover of The Saturday Evening Post, belonged to the family of John “Beans” Reardon, an umpire who was the primary subject of the drawing.

“I need to credit my colleagues in the art division for the assist on this one,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at the Dallas-based auction house. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve been able to draw from other segments of our million-strong bidding clientele to benefit a sports consignor.”

Reardon’s family had believed the original study they owned was merely a signed print, worth only several hundred dollars, Ivy said. It sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous, Ivy said.

Sandra Sprinkle, Reardon's granddaughter, inherited the drawing and put it above the mantle of her Dallas home, Reuters reported.

After her death in 2015, her husband, Gene Sprinkle, sold the couple's home and moved to a retirement community. His nephew looked at the drawing and noticed brushstrokes.

"We always thought it was a print, but we hung it over our fireplace because it was signed by Norman Rockwell to Beans Reardon," Gene Sprinkle told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

The drawing is also known as “Game Called Because of Rain,” “Bottom of the Sixth,” and “The Three Umpires.” Rockwell’s finished painting is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The drawing depicts a game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, with the Dodgers leading the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Reardon and his fellow umpires are looking skyward, debating whether to call the game due to rain.

Gene Sprinkle, 74, said he agreed to let his nephew contact Heritage Auctions, which determined it was an original oil.

"Sandra and her grandfather were very close," Sprinkle told Reuters. "Whenever people came to our house to visit, she was always proud to show it off and tell them about her grandfather."

Sports memorabilia fetched more than $10.7 million during the two-day auction, which ended Sunday, Ivy said.

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