First Pitch: Friday, September 2

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First Pitch: Friday, September 2

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Thursday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

'IT'S NOT BASEBALL': You're on the Mark, Teixeira. (New York Times)

Let's give the Yankee first baseman the floor for just a little longer:

"If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt? Four-hour games cant be fun for a fan, either."

There's a Tex message that baseball really ought to listen to.

The Red Sox and the Yankees did it again last night, a coma-inducing 4-hour-and-26-minute torturefest that featured more than 300 pitches, an umpire who refused to call strikes on borderline deliveries (until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth Boston Herald), pitching changes, trips to the mound, you name it . . . everything except crisp, exciting baseball, the sort of thing that made us all fall in love with the game in the first place. To put it in perspective: The Patriots and Giants, playing a typical three-hour NFL game in Foxboro on the same night, started 20 minutes after the Sox and Yanks and finished an hour earlier.

And the final score was 4-2. It wasn't like there were tons of runs and loads of runners, the sorts of things that you'd expect (and accept) when a ballgame lasts that long. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal provides a great breakdown as to why it all went as long as it did . . . and very little had anything to do with things that make a baseball game exciting or suspenseful or dramatic.

David Schoenfield of ESPN -- while acknowledging that he's not looking forward to Sox-Yanks playoff games ending around 12:30 or 1 a.m. EDT -- thinks "the hand-wringing about baseball's pace is mostly a bunch of nonsense" and warns that if they meet in the postseason, the "baseball haters will no doubt come out in full force". Sorry, David. I love baseball as much as anybody, but Teixeira is right. This isn't baseball. No 4-2, nine-inning game should last 4 12 hours.

In the end, this can't be good for the sport. It can't be. Because no one except the most diehard of diehard fans is going to sit and watch "people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt" on a consistent basis.

Believe me. I'm the most diehard of diehard fans. And I'm about at my limit.

AGREED: Old friend Craig Calcaterra is singing the same tune, even though he doesn't seem to be as fed up as me. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

HERE'S THE REAL PROBLEM: The strategies that drag out the game? They work. (New York Daily News) It was one of the reasons the Yankees beat the Sox last night. (si.com)

OH, YEAH, THE GAME: The Yankees prevailed, 4-2, on a night when Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, two of the Red Sox' most consistent relievers, failed them. (Both stories csnne.com) The Yanks, who got a rare good outing from A.J. Burnett, were happy about the whole thing (New York Daily News), especially since it pulled them within a half-game of the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

WITH THE GOOD COMES THE BAD: The Yankees may be without Teixeira for a bit, after he took an Aceves pitch off the knee. (New York Daily News)

IS THERE ANY OTHER GAME HE PLAYS? J.D. Drew says his injured finger is forcing him to play "the waiting game". (csnne.com)

WAIT'S ALMOST OVER: Cbssports.com's Evan Brunell looks at some players for whom September could be their career swan songs, and Drew (not to mention Tim Wakefield) makes the list.

PUT ME IN, COACH: Yes, that was Phil Mickelson taking batting practice at Fenway. (csnne.com) And as you can see by the video, he's not too bad.

I GIVE UP: Big Bad Baseball's Don Malcolm can't decide between Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson for American League MVP, so he suggests splitting the award three ways and being done with it.

PHEW! The Red Sox will miss C.J. Wilson this weekend. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE WEIRD TURN PRO: Just when you thought the saga of the Dodgers couldn't get any stranger, the Chinese government comes along and reportedly offers cash-strapped Frank McCourt 1.2 billion for the team. (Los Angeles Times)

MY BAD: And here I thought the ownership squabble in Los Angeles had already been settled. (hbo.com)

FAMILY AFFAIRS: Chris Johnson, son of Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, is back with the Astros (Houston Chronicle) . . . Andrew Romine, son of ex-Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, has been called up by the Angels. (mlb.com)

OLD FRIENDS: Hanley Ramirez is considering shoulder surgery (Miami Herald) . . . Dustin Richardson (remember him?) has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Braves. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

AND FINALLY . . . Funny, but "Stop bullying me!" isn't one of the top five things I'd expect to come out of Keith Hernandez' mouth. (Yahoo!)

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.