News item: Chris Davis, who can’t go a day without hearing about his giant contract, entered the Orioles’ weekend series with five homers and 15 RBIs since ending his record streak of hitless at-bats April 13.
My take: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, who signed long-term deals this year totaling $630 million, had similar home run and RBI totals to Davis’ over the same period despite both having far more at-bats. Davis also had a higher batting average than Harper over that span.
Bonus take: Davis is still overpaid, but — at the moment — he’s in good company.
News item: Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco found himself on the defensive this week after saying it is not his job to mentor second-round rookie quarterback Drew Lock.
My take: Well, it’s not, and the soundbite doesn’t tell even half the story. Flacco said nothing but good things about Lock and — according the Broncos’ second-round draft choice — Flacco was already helping him get acclimated to the NFL.
News item: The Washington Nationals entered the weekend in fourth place in the National League East with a dismal 18-25 record, prompting whispers about the job security of second-year manager Dave Martinez.
My take: Little early for that, but the fact that Martinez has a 100-105 record a quarter of the way into his second season calls into question the judgment of ownership and the front office, which fired Dusty Baker after back-to-back division titles. Fixing something that ain’t broke is always a risky business.
News item: For obvious reasons, the 144th Preakness is suffering from a decided shortage of star power this year.
My take: It’s still the Preakness, and if it’s good enough for trainers Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, it’s good enough for me.
My prediction: Improbable in a walk. That was my story going into the Derby and I’m sticking to it.
News item: War of Will drew the rail in Wednesday’s post-position draw, which was just the horse’s latest stroke of bad luck. Trainer Mark Casse was hoping for a more comfortable post after his horse also drew the rail at the Derby.
My take: Even so, War of Will was near the front at the Derby before getting knocked back during Maximum Security’s wild ride. Might want to put him in your exacta box just in case.
News item: Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich hit his 17th and 18th home runs of the season Thursday, putting him on pace to hit more than 60 homers this season. He’s also on pace for to drive in at least 140 runs.
My take: In a related development, fellow former Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna also ranks among the top five major league hitters in home runs and RBIs. Do you think Derek Jeter gets tired of everybody reminding him those two guys combined with Giancarlo Stanton to amass 114 home runs and 337 RBIs two seasons ago. And you thought the Orioles’ teardown was painful.
News item: So far this season, major league batters are getting hit by pitches at the highest rate in modern baseball history. The HBP epidemic has gotten so bad that four Cincinnati Reds hitters were plunked in the same inning earlier this month.
My take: Since both home runs and walks are also up, this isn’t entirely counterintuitive. Pitchers are throwing more pitches and they are spending more time trying — often without success — to command the inside part of the plate. Oh, and sometimes they hit guys on purpose. Just ask Machado.
News item: Former Maryland basketball star and assistant coach Keith Booth has been selected as the new head coach at Dunbar High, where he emerged as a McDonald’s All-American a quarter century ago.
My take: Great choice. Contrary to the advice of early 20th-century novelist Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again.