Posted Date: April 23, 2014

Detroit ace Max Scherzer is the cover star for the April 28 issue of Sports Illustrated

Max Scherzer, Sports Illustrated cover

Max scherzer on cover of SI

Why would a man turn down $144 million at the peak of his career? That’s the question Albert Chen asked Max Scherzer, who rejected a lucrative multi-year extension offer from the Detroit Tigers before the start of the season. The defending Cy Young winner, who broke out in 2012, is placing a big bet on himself that, as good as he was last year, he can be even better in 2014 and beyond.

In his profile, Chen takes a look at the 30-year-old Scherzer’s background and the moment that Detroit’s ace learned what he felt was a powerful secret to help him dominate hitters. Along the way, Scherzer developed from a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter into one of baseball’s best, thanks in large part to the emergence of a curveball that’s helped him rip through opposing lineups. Scherzer talks his pitching philosophy, his usage of advanced statistics, and what he’s learned from other pitchers around the league. Finally, Chen attempts to answer the question as to whether or not Scherzer’s gamble will pay off, or whether he’s taken a bad bet on himself.

This week’s issue also includes a short piece from Joe Sheehan on the changing role of the ace starter and the decreased workload that starting pitchers now face, and whether it’s worth it to give nine figures to get fewer innings from your best pitcher.

Posted Date: April 23, 2014

Jacoby Ellsbury makes triumphant return to Fenway Park in Yankees win

Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury was booed in his first plate appearance as a visitor at Fenway park. (Elise Amendola/AP)

After nine years, 3,200-plus plate appearances and two World Series titles with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Boston as a villain. On Tuesday night, Ellsbury dug into the batters box at Fenway Park wearing the road grays of the New York Yankees, earning a healthy round of boos from Red Sox fans as the two teams opened a three-game series. But Ellsbury didn’t let the boos faze him. Instead, the 30-year-old centerfielder and former first-round pick of the Sox tormented his old team, lashing two extra-base hits and driving in a pair of runs to key New York’s 9-3 win over Boston.

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Posted Date: April 23, 2014

Jose Fernandez brilliant again in 14-strikeout performance vs. Braves

Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez came within an inning of his first career shutout on Tuesday. (John Bazemore/AP)

At some point, you run out of superlatives for Jose Fernandez, which is a frightening thought given that Tuesday night’s start against Atlanta was just the 33rd of his major league career. Nonetheless, age and experience clearly aren’t a factor for the Marlins’ electric right-hander, who thoroughly dominated the Braves on the road in a 1-0 Miami win. Fernandez racked up a career-high 14 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and no walks, in one of the best performances of the young season.

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Posted Date: April 23, 2014

Watch: Albert Pujols makes history with 500th career home run

Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Albert Pujols is now a member of one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. With a pair of home runs against Washington in Los Angeles’ 7-2 win, Pujols became just the 26th player in baseball history to reach 500 career homers. Pujols is the first player to hit his 499th and 500th career homers in the same game, the first player since Gary Sheffield in 2009 to hit 500 career homers, and joins Alex Rodriguez as the only active players in baseball to be a part of that group. Continue Reading

Posted Date: April 23, 2014

Ivy, brick walls and pennant flags: Celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field

Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field in September 2013 (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

Wrigley Field in September 2013 (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

Wood can burn, but brick, concrete and steel beams do not. And in 1914, fire was a big deal, especially in Chicago.

When Charles Weeghman, owner of the Chicago Federals, called architect Zachary Taylor Davis in 1914, flammability was foremost on his mind. Weeghman was looking for a new venue for his new team in its new league, and Davis was well known for designing Chicago’s other baseball stadium, Comiskey Park, which had been built without the extensive use of fire-happy wood. For Weegham, the goal was to create a stadium that would last, at least for longer than a few years. So the new baseball stadium at the corner of Addison and Sheffield streets in north Chicago served as the emergence of a baseball stadium design trend, at least in Chicago.

Located on a former Lutheran seminary site, the park took just eight weeks to construct and only $250,000 in cash (roughly $5.8 million in today’s money), even as crews brought in 4,000 yards of soil and planted four acres of bluegrass. Housing the Federal League’s Chicago team for two years — known in 1914 as the Federals and in 1915 as the Whales — what was christened as Weeghman Park became Wrigley Field, the eventual home of the Chicago Cubs. On Wednesday, Weeghman and Davis’ construction celebrates 100 years of existence, making it the second oldest professional sporting venue in North America (Fenway Park is its elder by two years). In that century, it has become arguably one of the best-known sports facilities in the United States, if not the world.

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