Tim Brown

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Tim Brown is an award-winning writer with 20 years of experience covering Major League Baseball at the Los Angeles Times, Newark Star-Ledger, Cincinnati Enquirer and Los Angeles Daily News. He studied journalism at the University of Southern California and Cal State Northridge.

  • Unexpected ace helping power Cubs’ resurgence

    LOS ANGELES – Joe Maddon walks into Wrigley Field most days, often pushing his mountain bike, and says, sometimes out loud, “Thank you.” He’s sure there’s mold where mold shouldn’t be in there. The air conditioning seems a bit fragile, judging from the fact it doesn’t always turn on no matter how many times he jabs at the “On” button. For his perfect ballpark, there’s a lot of imperfect to overlook.

    “I love it,” he said.

    Jake Arrieta has found his footing with the Cubs. (AP)Jake Arrieta has found his footing with the Cubs. (AP)There’s plenty to be attached to, long as a hundred or so years of knees to the groin haven’t left too big of an emotional scar. The building, sure. More, and better, there’s this ballclub Theo Epstein dreamed up, blew life into and held at the elbow until it would stand on its own, that as of late August walked proudly with the fourth-best record in the game, which, as of now, would earn it three more hours of baseball.

    In a game that asks for patience and understanding and then has a habit of delivering nothing, the Cubs have shown up on time, maybe even a year or

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  • If you don't like the way Carlos Gomez plays, that's on you

    The conversation on the television Wednesday afternoon was about Carlos Gomez and whether the New York Yankees would be OK with him stealing second base in the sixth inning of a game in which they were down by five runs.

    Thankfully, Gomez stole second base. The Bronx did not burn down. The debate concluded.

    As a general rule, games do not end two innings before the beer taps close. They should write that down somewhere.

    Because, my, have we grown sensitive from our dugout rails, our pitcher's mounds, our batter's boxes, our soapboxes. So much so that Gomez hears about it Tuesday night when he flies out and flings his bat in anger, not because he's not allowed to be angry, but because he's not allowed to be angry in a 9-0 game. Course, there's the matter of who he is. That is, his reputation. He's not allowed to be Carlos Gomez either, not from the perspective of many of the men at many of the dugout rails, and that's part of it too.

    Maybe you strike him out four times and maybe he

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  • Tuesdays with Brownie: More nets or more stretchers, it's MLB's choice

    (A weekly look at the players, teams, trends, up-shoots and downspouts shaping the 2015 season.)

    They carried two more fans out of major league ballparks this weekend, and still no nets.

    Grown men sat behind dugouts staring at their phones, and still no nets.

    Women turned to speak to the people behind them, and still no nets.

    Little boys and girls became engrossed in the last couple dabs of ice cream at the bottom of tiny baseball helmets.

    No nets.

    Then again, if exit velocity has taught us anything, it's that there can be no defense against an angry foul ball beyond sheer luck. And then heaven help the guy in the next row you've screened out.

    A fan is carried away after being hit by a line-drive foul ball at Wrigley Field. (AP)A fan is carried away after being hit by a line-drive foul ball at Wrigley Field. (AP)(Hey, I want a clean, unobstructed view, too. Instead I get the Angel Stadium press box.)

    So, a couple more fans had their days at the ballpark – one in Detroit, the other at Wrigley Field – end early and violently. And countless line drives entered crowded stands that caused the batter, the pitcher, the catcher and anyone else paying attention

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  • Josh Donaldson is pushing Mike Trout for the AL MVP, and how he got here

    ANAHEIM, Calif. – There was a study he read, Josh Donaldson said. Harvard did it, he said, or maybe it was Stanford, one of those big smart schools. Anyway, the details are unimportant, except what he took from that study (from wherever it came) is this: The difference between being good in a given sport (or, perhaps, a given anything) and being great in it is, like, three percent. As in less than four. As in so very small you might not notice until you're done and it's too late.

    Three percent of what, precisely, would be hard to quantify. Three percent of everything, probably, from three percent greater concentration to three percent more time in the cage to three percent more runners in scoring position when you are hitting. And, really, the important thing here is that Donaldson read about it or heard about it and figured he surely had another three percent in him somewhere.

    It had taken him some time, a hell of a lot of work and an inflexible – and occasionally lonely – belief in

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  • MLB Power Rankings: The wild ride of the Cubs

    Since it’s almost back to school for all the kiddies, we got started on our “How We Spent Our Summer Vacation” essays:

    The rankings (records through Wednesday’s games):

    St. Louis1. St. Louis Cardinals (77-43; Previous: 1) – We built a hammock, called it the NL Central, and pointed out the clouds that looked like Bernie Brewer.


    Kansas City2. Kansas City Royals (73-46; Previous: 2) – We had babies, turns out. Lots and lots of babies.


    Pittsburgh3. Pittsburgh Pirates (71-47; Previous: 3) – In the early evenings we ate s’mores and tried to find the North Star. And just beyond the North Star, the Cardinals.


    Toronto4. Toronto Blue Jays (66-55; Previous: 11) – We remodeled the place. It was a pain but so worth it.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]


    Chicago

    5. Chicago Cubs (67-51; Previous: 8) – We toured the country in Joe Maddon’s RV and sang rounds of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” which was oddly charming.


    New York6. New York Yankees (67-52; Previous: 6) – We debated between the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore, time

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  • Dodgers going big-name hunting in pursuit of Chase Utley

    Chase Utley was a special player. In his day, and he more accurately had many of them, he was the most elegant and powerful player on the best Philadelphia Phillies teams in decades. He was hardworking and professional, a soft-spoken leader for a franchise that started winning division titles in 2007 and continued for five years.

    Chase Utley isn't what he once was, but he could provide value. (AP)Chase Utley isn't what he once was, but he could provide value. (AP) He’s not exactly that guy anymore. He’s 36, for one, and has played one full season in the last six. The work he’s done remains hard, but too often it has been limited to the physical rehabilitation of his various broken parts. The game wore him down at about the time it does most, and when he last went on the disabled list (in June, this time for a bothersome ankle), the great Chase Utley was every bit a .179 hitter.

    So, assuming the trade becomes official, what’s he doing as a Los Angeles Dodger?

    Well, partly, it’s because of who Utley is and who the Phillies are. He was to a generation in Philadelphia what Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton

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  • Tuesdays with Brownie: Baseball appears to be winning in a different way

    (A weekly look at the players, teams, trends, up-shoots and downspouts shaping the 2015 season.)

    Dale Scott awoke on Sunday morning in Denver, where he’d work second base in a series finale between the Rockies and Padres. After that there’d be a drive to the airport and a flight to another town and another series, more baseball in his 20th season as a big-league umpire, so much of it anonymously. He also awoke in a world that had inched that much closer to tolerance.

    Eight months ago, Scott came out as gay. On Saturday, baseball had its first active, affiliated and out gay player, that being a 20-year-old first baseman/outfielder in the Pioneer League named David Denson. In June, a 23-year-old pitcher for the independent Sonoma (Calif.) Stompers, Sean Conroy, declared he was gay.

    “The news about David is great,” Scott said by email. “I think we will see more and more of this in the months and years ahead. Although it’s news now, we’re getting closer and closer to the day that it won’t

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  • Joey Votto's commitment to excellence gives the Reds something to build upon

    Joey Votto grew up in Toronto, bats left, was an MVP once, gets on base a lot, swings often enough for some people, himself most of all, and not enough for others, a tiresome debate in which he has little interest in participating, and in a season that has triggered a rebuild in Cincinnati is again healthy and one of the better hitters in the game.

    He also can be a little hard to get to know, but that's not his fault – he's working. He also seems quiet by nature. Or, perhaps, he is more thoughtful than most, which leads to much less blurting of inanities. So in a world in which we generally know more than we need to – or want to – about our fellow beings, Votto is somewhat mysterious.

    Joey Votto has 20 home runs this season. (Getty Images)Joey Votto has 20 home runs this season. (Getty Images)"Ha-ha," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You need to tell him that. He'll laugh."

    He did smile a little.

    Not long ago, when Price was a retired pitcher and employed as pitching coach for the Reds, Votto would prepare for an at-bat by asking Price – the pitcher/pitching coach – for hitting pointers. It was

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  • Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma no-hits Orioles

    Hisashi Iwakuma, the 34-year-old right-hander for the Seattle Mariners, smiled broadly, jumped with his teammates, wore the contents of the water bucket, and waved his arms to the fans Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.

    With 116 darting pitches in a 3-0 win against the Baltimore Orioles in Seattle, Iwakuma became the second Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the U.S. major leagues. Hideo Nomo, who’d set the standard for Japanese pitchers when he arrived in 1995, threw two no-hitters before retiring in 2008.

    Pitching to a catcher, Jesus Sucre, catching his 48th big-league game, and against a history of zero complete games in 87 previous major league starts, Iwakuma rode his split-fingered fastball, his slider, and a fastball average in velocity but precise in location to 20-of-29 first-pitch strikes, 12 groundball outs and seven strikeouts. He walked three, two in the fourth inning.

    Hisashi Iwakuma is hugged by first baseman Logan Morrison, right, after the final out of his no-hitter Wednesday. (AP)Hisashi Iwakuma is hugged by first baseman Logan Morrison, right, after the final out of his no-hitter Wednesday. (AP)From a unique wind-up in which the 6-foot-3 right-hander stalls at the top, unhinges his left

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  • Nationals like their position for baseball's stretch run, even as they look up at the Mets

    LOS ANGELES – Not long before the Washington Nationals went live here Tuesday night, Bryce Harper was scratched from the lineup because of a swollen knee and the New York Mets won again, the two presumably unrelated.

    But you never know.

    Bryce Harper missed the Nationals' loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday with a swollen knee. (AP)Bryce Harper missed the Nationals' loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday with a swollen knee. (AP)It's beginning to look like one of those summers for the Nationals, the kind where just enough men play not enough innings, when an all-grown-up team appears in their division, when odd outcomes (like losing five of five games to the Cincinnati Reds) grind at their souls, and then on consecutive nights in August they'd find Zack Greinke and then Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium.

    This isn't to say every team doesn't get its share of trying pitching matchups, but the Nationals have seemed lately to attract aces like their town does comb-overs. They get on with it and, above all else, try not to stare.

    There's plenty of time, of course, to make something of 2015, the season that saw four of their first five hitters (which, exactly, depends on where you'd

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