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Five baseball books for fun summer reading

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Five baseball books for fun summer reading

While you’re contemplating the unlikely, the Orioles acquiring Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Gomez or Justin Upton over the next 11 days, it’s time for some relaxation.

I spent the All-Star break and a few extra days at the beach, and spent some time reading good baseball books. This year is one of the better in recent years for good ones, and if you have any vacation time coming up, here are five you should take a look at.

1) The Grind by Barry Svrluga (Blue Rider Press).

Svrluga was one of the original beat writers, along with my friend and colleague Mark Zuckerman, when the Washington Nationals came to town.

Svrluga’s charming book follows different members of the Nationals organization, on field and off, through parts of their season.

You don’t have to be a Nats fan to identify with Chelsey Desmond, the wife of shortstop Ian Desmond. She keeps the house together when her husband is playing, and adjusts their small children’s sleep patterns so that they can see their father as much as possible during the season.

Another excellent chapter is on traveling secretary Rob McDonald, who wants players to board chartered planes and trains before the staff does.

2) Billy Martin, Baseball’s Flawed Genius by Bill Pennington (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Orioles fans will enjoy the chapter on Buck Showalter’s relationship with Martin. The Yankees manager mentored Showalter and one year had young Buck as a coach during spring training.

Showalter tipped Martin off to an opposing pitcher who had a jittery pickoff move, and that tip allowed the Yankees to win a game.

Martin invited Showalter to join the other coaches for an evening out. Fortunately for Showalter, another coach advised him to stop off and eat a sandwich before “dinner.”

The party drank for some time, and Showalter never remembered if they actually ordered dinner. As the designated driver, it was his duty to keep sober, and he did, and thanks to the club sandwich, he didn’t die of hunger.

3) The Best Team Money Can Buy by Molly Knight (Simon and Schuster)

Knight, a longtime writer for ESPN The Magazine, chronicles the Los Angeles Dodgers’ high profile acquisitions and lucrative contracts.

The best parts of the book detail the explosive relationship Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig had with his teammates and how he was pursued by a drug cartel.

Orioles fans, who as Buck Showalter would say, don’t live in that world, can only compare and contrast the world of the Dodgers with that of their own team.

Don Mattingly, whose play as a minor leaguer convinced Showalter he would never play for the Yankees, is the manager of the Dodgers, and his struggles with this eccentric bunch are examined, too.

4) Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Silverman, the talented Boston Herald writer who covers the Red Sox, did a great job putting Martinez’s words on paper.

On Sunday, Martinez becomes the second Domincan pitcher to enter the Hall of Fame (Juan Marichal was the first). In a TBS conference call earlier this month, Martinez predicted that the ceremony in Cooperstown wouldn’t resemble your ordinary ones.

Martinez is hoping for thousands of fans from the Dominican Republic to make the journey and for them to make a lot of noise.

Fans will remember Martinez being asked to stay in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS by Grady Little. The Red Sox lost the game, and Little was quickly fired.

A few days later, Little was interviewed for the Orioles managerial job, the one that went to Lee Mazzilli. The Orioles media was instructed not to ask Little about Game 7.

Martinez will tell you everything you wanted to know here.

5) Split Season 1981 by Jeff Katz (St. Martins Press)

How many mayors write books about baseball? If you’re the mayor of Cooperstown and a baseball maven, you do.

Katz details the strange 1981 season, where nearly two months was lost to a strike.

To rekindle interest, commissioner Bowie Kuhn divided the season in two halves. The first half winner of a division played the second half winner.

Unfortunately for Orioles fans, in 1981, they finished 59-46 with the second best overall record, but finished second in the first half of the season and fourth in the second half.

As a result, the Yankees played the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round and not the Orioles.

Katz describes George Steinbrenner’s bizarre behavior in the 1981 World Series, when he claimed to be attacked by Dodgers fans in a Los Angeles hotel elevator. The best part of the 1981 season for Orioles fans? On the day second half play began, Cal Ripken made his major league debut—as a pinch runner.

MORE ORIOLES: Bats get busy as Orioles pound Tigers 9-3

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.

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