Welcome back to an Unscientific Power Rankings for Major League Baseball. Thanks to increased government funding, we've expanded to a top 20! Let's start at the top—by beginning at the bottom. Scotty, lower Shields!
1. James Shields symmetry (LW: 7)
Impeccable. We last saw Shields in San Diego after a recent performance for the Padres in which he allowed 10 runs and was "an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him," owner Ron Fowler said. Since then, he was traded to the White Sox, and celebrated his first outing on the South Side by pitching quite similarly. Shields allowed seven runs in two innings against the Nationals on Wednesday and was, reportedly, booed off the mound at U.S. Cellular Field. Whoa, that's some Big Yield Shames, as his nickname suggests.
Not only that but, with the Nats winning 11-4, this happened:
James Shields's last 2 starts have ended with position players pitching. I wonder if that has ever happened before.
— Branden (@JobuNeedsRefill) June 9, 2016
Talk about bookend performances. Talk about them, please. In the comments.
2. Kolten Wong's home state of Hawaii (LW: NR)
St. Louis Cardinals fans are encouraged to get tickets to the June 17 game at Busch Stadium for Kolten Wong Hawaiian Jersey Night. It's one of the coolest-looking giveaways this season — a No. 16 Cardinals jersey (or possibly T-shirt jersey, or "shirsey") decorated in a Hawaiian print. One of Wong's own friends designed it.
There's only one problem: Kolten Wong himself might not be able to attend because the Cardinals kind of demoted him to the minor leagues Monday.
In the past, players have been traded in the days and weeks before teams feature them in promotions. But how many times has a giveaway occurred when a player was demoted to the minors? And just a few months after signing a five-year contract extension? Ouch. Or, as they say in Hawaii, "Ouch."
3-t: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Madison Bumgarner (LW: Bumgarner NR)
You know about Bumgarner's home-run prowess in his most recent or so 200 plate appearances — he's right up there with Trout, Harper and Machado, the three best young players in the game. Well now MadBum wants to take his talents to the All-Star game's home run derby. This recent display during batting practice at Busch Stadium should seal the deal for Bumgarner in the derby:
7. Clayton Kershaw's strikeout-to-walk ratio (LW: 6)
It's 109 to 6 in 92 2/3 innings. Yes, he walked another one, for the second time in three starts. Do you think that, after issuing a walk, Kershaw thinks, "Man, now I've got to strike out 26 in a row before my next walk to get my ratio back to where it was?" Kershaw's precise dominance goes beyond mere balls and strikes. It also extends to endurance:
In pursuit of rare history, Kershaw tries to get back on the straight and narrow on Friday against the Giants and Johnny Cueto.
8. Charles Barkley's batting stroke (LW: NR)
It's like having a stroke, all right. A noted hack golfer, Barkley took batting practice before a recent Phillies game and — as he does on Inside the NBA — made it easy for everyone to make fun of him. The results overall included "a couple swings and misses and a few tappers past the mound," said witness Meghan Montemurro, a beat writer for The News Journal. Swings and misses, you say?
It was the ball's fault! It wasn't all bad, though:
Barkley did stand up for embattled Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, who was the target of a beer bottle by an angry dumbass fan.
He's a man who once sent a another dude through a window during a bar fight, so believe it.
9. Yordano Ventura's temper (LW: NR)
Ventura's temper might have served a purpose for the Royals during, say, the 2015 season, when they were riding high in the AL Central, but also standing up to challenges from opponents who weren't persuaded their World Series run in 2014 was legit. But now, with the team diminished, injured and struggling to stay above .500, Ventura is just a guy who can't stop himself from plunking the opposition in retaliation for… whatever. A brawl with Manny Machado of the Orioles on Tuesday isn't going to turn around the season for the Royals. What might help them: Ventura pitching better than his 5.32 ERA in 12 starts.
10. Jonathan Schoop's aim (LW: NR)
This might be the worst throw on a baseball field made by someone other than Mariah Carey or the former mayor of Cincinnati:
It's not that there aren't other contemporary contenders:
He's disqualified because he's a lefty and a sidewinder. For laughs, here's Carey in Japan from a few years ago:
And the mayor of Cincy in 2007, Mark Mallory, makes Eric Davis of the Reds go, "Huh?"
Legendary. Schoop might win for actually being the professional ballplayer, though. Two amazing facts about Schoop's throw: He didn't break Cheslor Cuthbert's arm, and Ventura somehow did not throw a pitch at Schoop in retaliation. Just imagine if it had been Brett Lawrie who lost control like Schoop, though.
11. Mayor punches youth umpire
Major leaguers aren't the only ones behaving badly. You thought Little League parents were the worst? How about Little League politicians? The Mayor of Monee, Ill., also the manager of a youth team, broke the jaw of umpire Tim Nelson in two places during a recent game among 7- and 8-year-olds. Nelson, who needs surgery, says Farquhar called him "a drunk" before hitting him with a sucker punch. His honor, Jay Farquhar, says on Facebook he was acting in self-defense after Nelson grabbed his arm:
"…[T]here is no excuse for striking an official…in retrospect, it was a reaction which lacked comprehensively best judgement for the coach (me) to defend myself against the physical escalation of the umpire as such I willingly left the field and recognize the need to suspend my helping to coach that team the rest of this season."
Eight-year-olds, dude. Is this what it'll be like for my daughter's first t-ball league that starts next week?
12. Braves tickets (LW: NR)
Consumerist notes that the Atlanta Braves are trying a new thing in order to get fans inside of Turner Field to watch the worst team in baseball: They're selling a package called "Monthly Passes" for $39, which means the individual tickets are worth as little as $2.60 per game. This isn't some regretful season-ticket holder dumping his or her poor choice on the secondary market in order to avoid a total loss, this is the team admitting that its product is nearly worthless.
Just in time to boost sales, here's an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on how even the Braves best players are underperforming.
The best news: The Braves face the Cubs this weekend, with Jake Arrieta going Saturday.
13. Babe Ruth's phallus (LW: NR)
Did you know that the Sultan of Swat also was the King Kong of Dong? Check out this pose he struck with his Baby Ruth hanging out for the world to see.
You can buy it at auction (Just imagine Ruth saying, "Bid on THIS, buddy"), though you might want to pair it with a fainting couch.
14. Marlins prospects put on knife show (LW: NR)
Everyone knows that knife "pranks" are hilarious, which is why everyone should lay off the Marlins leaguers involved in a knife prank that "went a little too far," team president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
Via Baseball America:
Marlins' No. 4 prospect Stone Garrett ended up with three stitches in his right hand after he was cut with a knife held by Josh Naylor, the organization's No. 2 prospect.
Hill told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Naylor inflicted the injury at an apartment the two players share in Greensboro, N.C., where they play for the low Class A affiliate.
Hill insisted there was no fight, but simply an ill-fated prank.
Naylor has a reputation of being a bit of a prankster, but this one obviously went a little too far,' Hill told the newspaper. "Obviously, he's torn up about it. This is a good friend, his roommate. They came into pro ball together, so they're good friends.'"
Naylor is torn up? Garrett's the one who got stitches! Anyhoo, this is not the first time Marlins prospects have done damage to each other off the field. Chris Hatcher and Sam Dyson both Marlins prospects at the time —had a bar fight two years back in which Hatcher broke Dyson's jaw.
15. Carlos Estevez, Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen, Carlos Estevez. (LW: NR)
They finally meet. I know, right? Estevez, 23, has been fairly effective in middle relief as a rookie for the Rockies, but one thing he hadn't done in two-plus months in the big leagues was meet his namesake, Sheen. In case you're not hip, Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Estevez. "Sheen's father, actor Martin Sheen, changed his last name from Estevez when he got to Hollywood because it wasn't seen as being advantageous 50 years ago to have a Spanish surname. Lots of Jewish actors have done this through the years as well. It kind of stinks that they felt they needed to. Anyway, Carlos Estevez was geeked to meet Sheen, who himself was a flamethrowing reliever for the Indians in the late eighties and early nineties.
16. David Ortiz's post-retirement plan (LW: NR)
The best part is Ortiz grabbing a piece of birthday cake and stuffing it in his face. One thing for the fine print: Piñatas are mostly a Mexican (and by extension, United States-ian) party favor. David Ortiz is not Mexican, but Dominican, and MLB has a history of not really caring about the cultural distinctions among Latin American countries. For example, someone would play the "Mexican Hat Dance" for Ozzie Guillen at-bats sometimes, and it would irk him, because he's from Venezuela. All of that said, the commercial is good enough to overcome a lack of… cultural precision.
17. Bless You Boys (LW: NR)
Bless the originator of "Bless You Boys," the rallying cry of the 1984 Detroit Tigers. Detroit sportscaster Al Ackerman has died, age 90. Alan Trammell is mourning his loss, and you should too.
18. Texas Rangers (LW: NR)
Most probably expect the Boston Red Sox to emerge from the American League and play in the World Series, but the Rangers might be the best team come October. They've been crushing for a while, and we're not even counting Rougned Odor's punch:
19. The Reds bullpen as a fire accelerant (LW: NR)
20. Matt Albers at the plate (LW: 2)
This is what happens when you don't bat again. Drop like a rock.