By Larry Fine SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 24 (Reuters) – The World Series has a strong international flavor this year with the most surprising foreign-born participant the man calling the shots from the San Francisco Giants dugout, manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy was born in Landes de Bussac, France, where his father was stationed as a U.S. Bochy grew up in Virginia and Florida before becoming the eighth French-born player ever in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Houston Astros. The Giants manager only lived in France for his first two years but made a pilgrimage to get a sense of his roots.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 25th, 2014
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By Larry Fine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The World Series has a strong international flavor this year with the most surprising foreign-born participant the man calling the shots from the San Francisco Giants dugout, manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy was born in Landes de Bussac, France, where his father was stationed as a U.S. Army officer. Bochy grew up in Virginia and Florida before becoming the eighth French-born player ever in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Houston Astros. The Giants manager only lived in France for his first two years but made a pilgrimage to get a sense of his roots. …

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 24th, 2014
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Lost in the background of MLB’s so far fascinating postseason is the experimentation going on down in the Arizona Fall League involving the league’s proposed “pace of play” measures. In select games, we’ve even seen the first usage of a 20-second pitch clock, which is obviously designed to limit or eliminate any lollygagging and unnecessary posturing that routinely takes place between pitches. As noted in the clip above, a pitch does not have to be released before the pitch clock expires. A pitcher coming set at the waist is good enough. From there though, the pitcher must either throw a pitch or make a pick-off attempt. Stepping off the mound after the clock hits zero results is considered a violation. There were three violations in the first game which featured the clock, which will be used in 17 games total at Salt River Field during league play. Mark Appel, the Houston Astros No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, committed two of those violations. The penalty for a clock violation is an automatic ball added to the batter’s count. Batters are also required to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout the 20-second countdown, unless one of a series of exceptions occurs. The exceptions include, among other things, a foul ball or a foul tip; time being granted to the hitter or catcher, and a pitch that drives the batter of the box. If the batter steps out, the pitcher will be allowed to continue and throw his pitch.  As top Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Corey Seager told Baseball America, the pace of game measures are taking some getting used to because they are taking players out of their comfort zone. “It’s tough,” Seager said. “You almost feel rushed. It’s not your normal (routine) where you can take your time, get your rhythm. It’s kind of on somebody else’s rhythm. It was a little rushed … getting on and off the field, getting your stuff done in the dugout and in the box mainly because you only have 20 seconds between pitches. You swing and then get right back in—it’s a little weird.” It’s weird, but there’s little doubt it’s had an impact. A bit more context: @MLBazFallLeague game times with pitch clock: Game 1: 2:14 Game 2: 2:28 Game 3: 3:12 (11 innings) 2013 avg: 2:51 — MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 18, 2014 Those are the numbers MLB is most interested in seeing. Based on Seager’s comments, it definitely sounds like the approach of most players would have to be adjusted should these measures be implemented permanently. But maybe they’ll also find that a faster paced game leads to a more well-played game, as much of the thinking and perhaps over thinking would be eliminated. We’re probably a long way from this becoming a real story, but the foundation is being laid and you can bet MLB will continue examining the possibilities. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: – - – - – - – Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 23rd, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – What happens on the field during the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals is the central theme for MLB Productions annual World Series Film . But it sometimes isn’t the main focus. The film, which MLB says is the “definitive visual historical document of the World Series each year,” began in 1943 as a way to inform troops overseas fighting in World War II about the baseball they had missed. As MLB took over production of the film in 1998 and the explosion of instant information makes it almost impossible to not access the box score details of a World Series, the production focuses on the stories surrounding each team thanks to nearly unlimited and exclusive access. Producers and camera crews can film right next to the batting cage during pre-game batting practice, have unlimited clubhouse access and have players wired for sound. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, think of it like baseball’s postseason version of the HBO series “Hard Knocks” or the network’s “24/7″ franchise. “And the foundation of [the access] is the deep relationships that we’ve fostered over the years,” MLB Productions executive producer David Check said before Tuesday’s World Series Game 1 that San Francisco won 7-1. “So you’re not going to hear any in-game wires other than what we’re doing. Or clubhouse access. Or driving to the ballpark with a player, being at the home of a player as he prepares for a World Series game or having a pregame meal.” But in a seven-game series, it’s hard to identify immediately who the eventual champions will be. Executive producer Check said the crew essentially films parallel stories, one from the Royals’ perspective and one from the Giants’, until something defining emerges. “We obviously know the backstories of both teams quite well at this point,” Check said. “We’ve been with both teams in the championship series this year so we’re well-acquainted with their stories. But we have to be nimble. Let’s say, for example, if the Royals steal nine bases tonight. That’s part of their game clearly, and we have to adapt accordingly. And the [Royals'] fan base is pretty charged for a championship … and that’s going to be part of the story we tell. Obviously if the Giants win, that story will be muted to a degree, so we really have to be really nimble and very flexible.” (After all, if your team loses the World Series, you’re probably not going to want the commemorative movie as much as if they win.) A crew was with Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder Jarrod Dyson as the two rode to Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday morning to offer a look at how the two were preparing for their first World Series game. “Letting those guys rap, stop for coffee, and I just kind of threw some questions at them while we were driving to try to generate some conversation between them,” MLB field producer Danny Field said. “And that was really cool because the connection they have with this town is real. And I think they embrace it more than some places. It’s really special.” Since MLB Productions has access to the Fox broadcast of the World Series games, its camera crews have freedom to focus on specific aspects of the games as they’re being played. One camera crew may focus on fans during a particularly tense moment or a speedy baserunner like Dyson who may be trying to steal second base or a player who retreats to the batting cage during an inning to get some practice swings. The crews capture approximately 20 hours of footage from each game, and that’s not counting any interviews with players before or after games. After a postgame meeting and a morning conference call, the footage immediately starts being edited the next day. MLB Productions has just nine days from the conclusion of the World Series to produce the 75-to-95-minute film. And while the story of Game 1 was the Royals’ first loss of the postseason and the dominance of Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, the direction of the series could change in Game 2. So the video team is willing to quickly adapt its focus on the characters involved to whatever happens on the field, just like in 2005. While the Chicago White Sox’ sweep of the Houston Astros that season may not have been a thrilling seven-game series, the crew’s access and ability to film almost everything was vital in framing White Sox utility infielder Geoff Blum’s pinch-hit home run in the 14th inning of Game 3. It was Blum’s only career World Series at-bat. “One of my favorite stories is from the 2005 World Series, and the Astros and White Sox, and Geoff Blum is in the batting cage and we just decided to go in and, who knows, he might get an at-bat,” Check said. “And those elements of him honing his swing and getting ready for his one chance was a great setup for what ultimately happened.” – - – - – - – Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 22nd, 2014
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SEATTLE (AP) — Former Kansas City manager Trey Hillman will be the bench coach for new Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 18th, 2014
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Long-time Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts officially called it a career on Friday. Roberts, who just recently turned 37, was released by the depth-starved New York Yankees in August. He signed during the offseason after New York lost Robinson Cano to free agency and Alex Rodrirguez to suspension, but never got on track hitting just .237 in 91 games. He elected to sit out the remainder of the season despite receiving at least two contract offers, and has now decided he’s ready to step away for good. From the Baltimore Sun: He [Roberts] said two “very good teams” were interested in signing him in August, but he decided against it. As the year went on, he said it became clear that he could no longer play at the level he demanded. “It was just kind of my time. There were numerous reasons that I felt like I couldn’t play at a level that I was accustomed to and wanted to play at if I continued to play,” Roberts said. “I always said that I wasn’t going to be the guy that tried to hang on as long as I could.” Roberts was drafted by the Orioles as a supplemental first round pick in 1999. He quickly worked through the minor league system, debuting in the big leagues on June 14, 2001, but wouldn’t become a true regular until May of 2003. Once established, he became a fan favorite in Baltimore and a fixture at both second base and the leadoff spot in the batting order.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 18th, 2014
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Jeff Banister will be named manager of the Texas Rangers, multiple outlets report Thursday, beating out interim manager Tim Bogar, along with several outside candidates. This would be Banister’s first managerial job in the majors, though he has lots of minor-league experience as a skipper (along with just about every other staff position). Banister (one “N”) is what they call “a lifer.” He has been the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates since 2010, which pre-dates manager Clint Hurdle, and has been a coach with the Bucs, in the majors and minors, since 1993. He played from 1986-93 in the minors for all but one plate appearance in the big leagues. Banister, 49, has interviewed for other major league manager’s positions, notably with the Houston Astros this offseason, and with the Pirates, before they hired Hurdle for the 2011 season. What makes Banister the choice for the Rangers? Those most familiar with him say it’s not only his baseball smarts, but also his communication skills. Banister also is said to be a proponent of sabermetrics, though more major league coaches probably are than we realize. Pirates blogger Pat Lackey writes at Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke? : Ever since Ben Lindbergh published this story at Grantland about the unique and effective way that the Pirates’ front office and coaching staff communicate, I’ve been expecting Pirate coaches to start being poached by other clubs. Banister is always mentioned as being involved with the infield positioning alongside Hurdle and he’s the guy mentioned as being on the phone with Mike Fitzgerald (the stats guy the Pirates have travel with the team) in Lindbergh’s article, and so it makes sense that any front office that’s had trouble communicating with their coaching staff would be immediately attracted to someone from the Pirates’ coaching staff. It wasn’t a surprise when he almost got Houston’s job a few weeks ago, and it’s not a surprise at all that Texas wants him, especially given that Texas was Clint Hurdle’s last stop before Pittsburgh. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the hiring first, though the Rangers had yet to confirm it. Banister tweeted this Wednesday morning: “The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.” – Joel Brown — Jeff Banister (@Bannyrooster28) October 15, 2014   Banister’s one appearance as a player in the big leagues came in July 1991, when he pinch-hit for Doug Drabek. Banister hit an infield single and played two innings of a 12-3 victory against the Braves, but was sent back to the minors shortly thereafter. Banister has been deserving of a chance, and also seems to be one of the better candidates out there who’s never managed. Seems like a good hire by general manager Jon Daniels. But — what about Bogar? He was Ron Washington’s bench coach until Washington stepped down. Like Banister, Bogar is a lifer, though he had more time in the majors. From the Dallas Morning News : It is uncertain what will happen with Bogar, who was the Rangers bench coach before Ron Washington’s resignation on Sept. 5. Bogar went 14-8 in the three weeks until the season’s end, but the Rangers said they would conduct a thorough search for the new manager. Bogar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.   More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:    – - – - – - – David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnswerDave  

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 16th, 2014
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays expect to keep rolling without Andrew Friedman.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 15th, 2014
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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 14th, 2014
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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros’ improvement this year from baseball’s worst team cost a Houston furniture mogul Jim McIngvale more than $4 million to make good on a promise to fans.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on October 13th, 2014
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