TIME Baseball

Mike Trout Named MVP as American League Wins All-Star Game

APTOPIX All-Star Game Baseball
Michael E. Keating—AP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run during the first inning of the MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14, 2015

The AL beat the NL 6-3 on Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years

(CINCINNATI) — Mike Trout flashed the skill that puts him at the front of baseball’s new generation, just moments after four of the all-time greats had just walked off the field.

Trout became the first player in 38 years to homer leading off an All-Star game, Prince Fielder drove in two runs to show this era is not just about the kids, and AL arms outdueled their more accomplished NL rivals.

A new-look All-Star Game finished with the same old result. The AL beat the NL 6-3 Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years.

In an age of dominant pitching, Felix Hernandez, winner David Price, Zach Britton, Dellin Betances and Wade Davis took scoreless turns in the AL’s third win a row.

A season after the retirement of Derek Jeter dropped the curtain on the turn-of-century greats, the 23-year-old Trout was among six starting position players under 25 — the most since 1965. He was the MVP of last year’s game in Minneapolis, when he hit a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double.

This time Trout sent Zack Greinke’s fourth pitch, a 94 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, over the wall in right next to the visiting bullpen for an opposite-field homer.

Fielder and Lorenzo Cain had run-scoring hits in the fifth against NL MVP Clayton Kershaw that put the AL ahead 3-1.

Manny Machado, at 23 another of the sport’s fresh faces, hit a double off the right-field wall against Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh and scored on Fielder’s sacrifice fly. And Brian Dozier, the last player added to the game as an injury replacement, hit a solo home run off Mark Melancon in the eighth.

Stars old and young gathered in one of baseball’s most traditional towns. The Reds became baseball’s first professional team in 1869, and players wore caps with horizontal stripes in an attempt at a 19th century feel.

Pete Rose, Cincinnati’s hometown hero and baseball’s banned career hits leader, was given an 80-second ovation when he walked onto the field before the game to join Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Barry Larkin, elected by fans as the Reds’ greatest players. Wearing a red jacket and tie and walking stiffly, the now 74-year-old Charlie Hustle was applauded as soon as his image appeared on the video boards, even before he emerged from the AL dugout.

And in the first All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark, which opened in 2003, fans got to see some great ballplayers.

Bench, changed into a blue jacket, returned with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax, voted baseball’s great living players by fans as part of the promotion. In a sentimental yet stunning reminder of generational change, Aaron, 81, and Morgan, 71, needed canes to reach the infield, and Mays, 84, was aided on and off the field by an assistant.

Above the field, new Commissioner Rob Manfred watched from a luxury suite, the first All-Star Game not presided over by Bud Selig since 1992.

Many players of the new generation love bling in a manner that puzzles Hall of Famers: Posey wore a gold-colored helmet behind the plate, looking a bit like the Great Gazoo or a Praetorian Guard, accessorizing with a chest protector, shin guards and cleats all with gold-colored trim. Baltimore’s Adam Jones was shod in bright orange cleats, and Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain and Washington’s Bryce Harper donned golden spikes.

Trout, a Generation Y star with a baby boomer work ethic, completed a unique cycle on a clear evening that followed a heavy afternoon downpour. He singled in his All-Star debut in 2012, doubled to open 2013 game and tripled in the first inning last year. He was just the ninth player to hit for an All-Star cycle in his entire career, joining an illustrious list that includes Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, George Brett, Mike Schmidt and Mays. Fielder later became the 10th.

No one had homered leading off an All-Star Game since 1977 at old Yankee Stadium, when Morgan connected off Jim Palmer. Greinke, coming off five scoreless outings, had not allowed a run since June 13.

“It’s not easy,” Greinke said of pitching to Trout. “You’ve got like a 2-inch window up in the zone. If you throw it higher than that, he takes it. If you throw it lower he does what he did.”

Dallas Keuchel, the AL starter with the long, bushy beard, gave up the tying run in the second after Paul Goldschmidt led off with a bouncer to third, reaching on an infield single and taking second as Josh Donaldson threw wildly. Goldschmidt crossed on Posey’s groundout and Jhonny Peralta, an All-Star again after serving a 50-game drug suspension two years ago, dumped a two-out single into right field.

“It was the most amped up I’ve ever been,” the Houston star said. “It was just the atmosphere — the greatest players ever, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays.”

The AL went back on top in the fifth against Kershaw, the first NL pitcher voted the league’s MVP since 1968. Fielder lined an opposite-field single to left that scored Trout, who raced home from second to slide in ahead of Joc Pederson’s throw, and Cain pulled the next pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double.

Andrew McCutchen homered off Chris Archer in the sixth, cutting the gap to 3-2.

THE OLD RIVALRY

The AL is 21-6-1 in the last 28 games, losing three straight from 1994-96 and 2010-12. The NL leads the matchup 43-41-2.

SPEEDING

Jacob de Grom of the Mets, the NL Rookie of the Year, struck out Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias on 10 pitches in the sixth, reaching 98 mph. … Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw 14 of 15 pitches at 100 mph or more in the ninth, reaching 103 mph and striking out the side.

UP NEXT

This was the first of at least four straight games in NL ballparks, a departure from the usual practice of alternating leagues for the host. Still, the AL will bat last next year at San Diego and in 2018 at Washington, while the NL has last licks again at Miami in 2017.

TIME Baseball

Cincinnati Reds Star Todd Frazier Wins Home Run Derby

Todd Frazier
Jeff Roberson—AP Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati on July 13, 2015

He was the favorite throughout the night

Cincinnati Reds star and All-Star Game spokesman Todd Frazier won the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati on Monday, outslugging Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson 15-14 in the final round.

Unsettled weather had earlier threatened to rain off the event, but after a quick downpour, the competition went ahead. The rain, however, could affect Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, NBC reports.

The rules of the Home Run Derby were amended this year. Typically, sluggers are pitted against each other to see who can hit the most home runs in a five-minute time limit. With the inclement weather, the MLB changed the format to bracket structure, and the time limit was shortened to four minutes, adding a sense of urgency to the hitting game. Players also received an additional 30 seconds if they hit at least two 425-ft. home runs. Frazier was awarded one of these 30-second extensions en route to victory.

The Home Run Derby is one of the festivities at Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend in Cincinnati, hosted by the Reds, which culminates in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Frazier was a favorite throughout the night as Reds supporters cheered him on through every home run, AP says. “No pressure here with these fans,” he said after accepting his trophy.

TIME Baseball

Pete Rose Gambled on Baseball as a Player, Report Says

While he previously admitted betting as a manager, he denied doing so as a player

Newly obtained documents indicate Pete Rose, the all-time Major League Baseball leader in hits, bet on baseball while he was a player, according to a new report that bats against his 26-year denial of doing so.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports that the documents—copies of pages from a notebook of Michael Bertolini, a previous associate of Rose—refutes Rose’s past claims that he only placed bets while he was a manager on the Cincinnati Reds—never as a player. Even that admission came after nearly 15 years of denials; Rose was banned for life from the league in 1989.

The notebook seized from Bertolini’s home covers March to July 1986, with documentation that for at least 30 different days, Rose gambled on at least one MLB team. On 21 of those days, the report notes, Rose bet on the Reds’ games—many of which he was playing in.

Read more at ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

TIME Crime

Former MLB Player Found Dead in Domestic Murder-Suicide

Darryl Hamilton
Larry Goren–AP Darryl Hamilton, then playing on the San Francisco Giants, during a game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California during the 1997 season.

Darryl Hamilton, 50, and his girlfriend Monica Jordan, 44, were found dead in Jordan's home outside of Houston

Darryl Hamilton, a former Major League Baseball player and MLB analyst, and his girlfriend, Monica Jordan, were found dead on Sunday in Jordan’s home outside of Houston.

Hamilton, 50, appeared to have been shot multiple times, according to investigators. Jordan, 44, died from self-inflicted gun wounds. The two were parents of a 13-month-old boy, who was found unharmed in the home and has since been handed over to Child Protective Services.

Hamilton played in the MLB from 1988 to 2001, and was on four playoff teams, including the New York Mets, the Texas Rangers, the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2013, he joined the MLB Network as an analyst.

TIME MLB

Could This French Shortstop Be the MLB’s First Female Player?

Melissa Mayeux, 16, became the first female player to be included in the MLB's international registry

After over 150 years, Major League Baseball might have taken a step closer to finding its first female player.

Melissa Mayeux, a 16-year-old shortstop on the French U-18 junior national team, made MLB history on Sunday as the first female player on the international registration list.

Her addition to the list means she is eligible to be signed on July 2, although MLB.com reported that it is unlikely she would be signed next month. However, the site says only players with serious potential to be signed usually make it onto the international registry. There is no official rule that women cannot play in the MLB.

If signed, Mayeux, who has been watched by the MLB’s Director of International Game Development Mike McClellan for two years, would probably not play professional baseball until she is 18. If she is not signed, she would still be able to play for a U.S. university.

Mayeux speaks little English and is, according to MLB.com, “unaware that her presence on the registry might be seen as newsworthy in the United States.”

TIME Baseball

Red Sox Third Baseman Pablo Sandoval Got Benched Over an In-Game Instagram

Red Sox Sandoval Baseball
Jon Barash—AP Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) was benched before the start of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on June 18, 2015

He "liked" a photo during a game against Atlanta, but rules prohibit cell phone use during games

We’ve all done it: in a moment of down time, waiting for the train or between tasks at work, you pull out your phone and read e-mail, check Facebook, flip through Instagram, so habitually that it’s almost a reflex. It turns out that major league baseball players do it, too—but then they pay the price.

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval fell victim on Wednesday during his team’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta. While the game was in progress, Sandoval returned to the team’s clubhouse and “liked” a photograph on Instagram, ESPN reports.

MLB Standards and On-Field Operations Regulations include a rule prohibiting players (as well as personnel and clubhouse/equipment staff) from “using cellular phones, including any type of portable or mobile phone, laptop, texting device or similar portable equipment while on the bench, in the bullpens or on the playing field once batting practice has begun.” That precludes social media, of course.

Sandoval told ESPN that he had met with the team’s manager and general manager and apologized. “I know I f—ed up,” he said. “I’m a human being, I made a mistake, so I apologize to my teammates.”

He admitted to being aware of the rule against cellphone use during games but said, “I was in the bathroom, I pushed it at the wrong time. … I just grabbed my phone and checked it.”

Sandoval will return to the Red Sox line-up on Thursday, as the team faces off against the Kansas City Royals.

[ESPN]

TIME Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals May Have Hacked the Astros, FBI Probe Finds

This marks the first known case of a professional sports team hacking another's network

St. Louis Cardinals employees may have hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal networks, according to an FBI probe.

The New York Times, citing anonymous officials, reports that the Cardinals, who have the best record in Major League Baseball this year (42-21), are under investigation for accessing an Astros network that held information about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports.

The teams have long been division rivals, but the tension between the two heated up after the Astros hired general manager Jeff Luhnow. Luhnow previously served as a “polarizing” official for the Cardinals, the Times reported.

Investigators believe Cardinals employees used a master list of passwords previously employed by Luhnow when he worked for the Cardinals to hack into the system. Ten months of Astros’ internal trade talks were leaked online last year, which sparked the investigation.

No Cardinals officials have been put on leave, suspended or fired. The MLB was “aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” according to a statement MLB posted online. “Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”

The Cardinals released a statement Tuesday saying they, too, were aware of the investigation and cooperating with it, CNBC reported.

This marks the first known case of a professional sports team hacking another’s network. The Cardinals have 11 World Series titles, second only to the New York Yankees, and have reached the National League Championship Series nine times since 2000. Owner Bill DeWitt was in charge of the search committee last year for a new MLB commissioner.

[New York Times]

TIME Baseball

New York Yankees Retire Bernie Williams’ Number

Texas Rangers v New York Yankees
Al Bello — Getty Images Bernie Williams waves to the crowd during the ceremony to retire his number in Monument Park before the game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2015 in New York City.

No one will ever don the pinstripes and the no. 51 in Yankee stadium again

The New York Yankees paid the ultimate respect to five-time all-star Bernie Williams on Sunday night by retiring his no. 51 jersey and placing a plaque dedicated to him in Monument Park alongside those of the team’s myriad other legends.

“This is unbelievable,” said Williams. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that a skinny little 17-year-old kid from Puerto Rico could be here this day in this celebration.”

Although the center fielder last played with the Yankees in 2006, he didn’t officially retire until last month.

Williams by all indication has been rocking out hard since leaving the organization almost a decade ago. The former music student and avid guitarist has been jamming with the likes of Gregg Allman as of late and is slated to perform at the Laid Back Festival in Wantagh, New York in August.

TIME Innovation

The Way You Watch Baseball Is About to Change Forever

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn during a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington on April 21, 2015.
Alex Brandon—AP St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn during a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington on April 21, 2015.

Statcast can start something special for pro baseball

Tuesday night’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals served as the coming out party for Statcast, Major League Baseball’s refined tracking technology that yields more data than an average fan could ever want or need.

But this technology doesn’t cater to the average fan; it’s directed instead at those who have demanded more insights and numbers in an era of data journalism and Moneyball geek dreams.

Statcast didn’t yet have a name when Fortune wrote about the “combination of cameras, radar, and proprietary software” one year ago. At that time, MLB Advanced Media (commonly called “BAM” by baseball journalists and execs) had big plans to roll it out in every single ballpark. Now it has. The technology was equipped at all 30 stadiums in time for the current season, but it didn’t get its television due until this week, when the commentators on MLB Network described the system and cited its metrics about a dozen different times.

For now, the system is exclusive to MLB Network, but in weeks, not months, it will be available to the rest of the networks that show games. When Statcast is consulted on-air during a game, an MLBAM spokesperson tells Fortune, “Context and narrative are very important… Otherwise, it’s just a data stream without meaning.” He adds: “We think for TV this will be a revolutionary tool for instant replay.”

What can Statcast do, exactly? A whole lot more than its predecessor, Pitch f/x, which came along a few years ago and was designed to record live pitches to gather speed, velocity, and other measurements. Statcast can take a single play and determine a whole host of numbers, many of them particularly exciting in the context of defense: a base runner’s speed as he jumps from one base to steal another; his lead on the player trying to throw him out; the angle of his running path; the speed of the infielder’s throw; and even the time it took the infielder to get the ball out of his glove. MLBAM used the early version of Statcast to tell Fortune that, one year ago, Cincinnati Reds rookie Billy Hamilton was very likely the single fastest player in baseball.

This time around, MLBAM can get such granular details as a single hit’s “exit velocity,” that is, how hard it was hit. Thus far, 17 days into the season, these sluggers have launched the five hardest hit balls: Nelson Cruz of the Mariners, 119 mph on April 19; Mike Trout of the Angels, 117.7 mph on April 8; Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, 117.3 mph on April 16; Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, 117.1 mph on April 7; and Hanley Ramirez of the Red Sox, 116.5 mph on April 19.

Sound exhausting? Then you may not be the target audience for Statcast’s insights—yet. But while Statcast may only end up being cited occasionally in each television broadcast, MLB plans to apply Statcast liberally inside its highly successful “At Bat” app.

This is the beginning of something special for pro baseball. MLB foresaw the stats revolution before its sports-league peers, and acted fast to cater to the so-called “statheads,” a small but vocal group that is fast-growing (just look at the popularity of the ESPN web site FiveThirtyEight, which regularly posts minutia such as comparisons of baseball players’ PECOTA scores) and ever-hungry for more data, more analytics, more ways to scrutinize and inspect the game. Baseball fans are perhaps the wonkiest in this regard (certainly more than football folks, for now), but basketball fans are close, and Adam Silver’s NBA has hopped aboard the stats train in response, partnering with Stats LLC to roll out its own camera tracking technology, SportVU, as well as launching an entire site, NBA.com/stats, devoted to analytics.

Statcast may also help baseball claw back to popularity, in a time when it is widely believed the sport has lost some of its luster to the juggernaut NFL, America’s real “pastime,” if measured by eyeballs. A Wall Street Journal story last month mentioned that the polling firm Luker On Trends asked baseball fans during last year’s season which sport was more interesting to them and the NFL beat MLB by 4%—even in its offseason. You can bet that baseball would like to change that.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Baseball

The San Francisco Giants Could Become the First MLB Team to Ban Chewing Tobacco

Minnesota Twins v San Francisco Giants
Brace Hemmelgarn—Getty Images A general view of the exterior of AT&T Park following the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins on May 23, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

Players have been dipping for as long as anyone can remember, but that could soon change

A San Francisco city ordinance could make the Giants the first team in Major League Baseball to ban chewing tobacco on the field.

City supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban smokeless tobacco in playing fields throughout the city and specifically targeted baseball—a sport infamous for the player’s use of tobacco, according to a statement from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which pushed for the law.

The ordinance must pass one more vote and, if San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signs, the rule will be implemented on Jan. 1 2016—in time for the MLB baseball season.

Jess Montejano, a legislative aide for the ban’s chief sponsor, Supervisor Mark Farrell, told TIME that legislators began working on the ordinance in the beginning part of 2015 because “it’s a serious health issue” in which “kids are seeing their athletic heroes chewing tobacco on the baseball diamond.”

Montejano also added the San Francisco Giants “are fully aware of the intention” and that proponents of the ban believed the team would support MLB’s stance on the issue of chewing tobacco.

After the law was initially proposed in late Feb., MLB issued a statement saying that it “has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level” and that it had been seeking “a ban of its use on-field in discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association.”

A study published April 10 from the University of California San Francisco suggested that seeing players chewing tobacco was akin to product endorsement. It found that “modeling of smokeless tobacco use by…elite athletes is strongly associated with smokeless tobacco initiation among adolescent males.” The study also cited an NCAA statistic that found that 52.3% of collegiate baseball players tried smokeless tobacco at least once in 2012 to 2013.

When asked if the ban would essentially force players to quit, Montejano cited former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling, who blames tobacco for his mouth cancer. “Schilling said it was the worst thing about his life and if he could change one thing from his younger years it would be to quit.”

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