By Evan Brunell
RADAR GUN SHENANIGANS: As pitch F/X takes hold across all of baseball, it's meant the decline of radar-gun manipulation, which used to be an asset to teams.
While radar guns still vary from stadium to stadium (the Angels and Rangers reportedly run a bit slow), it's become difficult for teams to jigger radar-gun readings on the scoreboard to their advantage.
Current Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers recalled situations in San Diego when the team would purposely reduce the velocity of Brad Penny's fastballs, causing the hurler to get upset that he wasn't throwing as hard as he thought. That made Penny -- with the Dodgers at the time -- start throwing harder, which in turn made his fastball elevate for the hitter's liking.
The pitch F/X system is automatic and feeds directly to the scoreboard, so the lack of a middleman cuts out shenanigans that could otherwise take place. However, some stadiums may still manipulate readings despite annual reminders from the league not to do so.
Radar-gun readings became an issue last week when Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman was registered as throwing 93-94 mph with his fastball. That led to much concern, with many wondering if Chapman was injured. He's back to 100-plus these days, so everything is fine, but one can't help but wonder if San Diego was gaming the system, given their current reputation as a stadium where radar-gun readings are low despite having switched over to the pitch F/X system. (Arizona Republic)
WHAT IT MEANS TO LEAD OFF: A leadoff man is responsible for getting on base. Period. Stolen bases can be a nice luxury, but too many teams act as if the flip's true. (New York Times)
THE STATE OF ELLSBURY: Jacoby Ellsbury is currently in the midst of a hot streak which has seen his return to the leadoff spot in the lineup. But it's still unclear what Ellsbury really is as a hitter. To stay as leadoff man, Ellsbury needs to get on base. (Boston Globe)
BACK TO O'MALLEY? Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley could be back to the rescue, as he may be gearing up for an eventual run at taking the team back. A Dodgers executive revealed that O'Malley has lined up two "big time" investors if -- or when -- Frank McCourt sells the club. (KLAC 570 AM)
SLOW GOING: Chris Snyder now has the ignominious lable of slowest runner in the game now that Bengie Molina has retired (brother Jose and Yadier are, somehow, faster). In fact, Snyder has never stolen a base in a game and should end up in second place by the end of the season behind Russ Nixon, a catcher in the 60s, for most plate appearances without a steal. (Wall Street Journal)
LAWN CARE: Former major leaguer and current minor-league manager Delino DeShields knows what its like to have a heralded prospect with his son, Delino Jr., in the Astros system. Funny thing, though -- his former landscaper does, too. Cecil Newton saw his son, Cam, go No. 1 overall in the NFL draft Thursday night. (Dayton Daily News)
HOME RUN! Only in this day and age can you read a story written by a fan -- also a ball-catcher who has over 4,000 baseballs caught -- on how he caught someone's first major-league home run and what it was like to meet the player. That's what happened here, and it's a nice behind-the-scenes telling of what happens when you catch such an important ball. Of course, it helps when the batter, Mike Nickeas, is "genuinely awesome." (MLBlogs.com)For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.