George Shuba, RIP: Making history serenely

Shuba (right) greets Robinson; it's considered baseball's first on-field integrated handshake. (Hall of Fame photo.)

Shuba (right) greets Robinson; it’s considered baseball’s first on-field integrated handshake. (Hall of Fame photo.)

When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson as the first black player to join a major league baseball organisation, he assigned Robinson to the Montreal Royals, where his manager Clay Hopper struggled to come to terms with the only such player on his club. One of the outfielders on those Royals was a Slovakian immigrant’s son who batted behind Robinson in the lineup.

A touch of Gray and the A’s squeak in

The A's needed a Gray sky expert badly Sunday . . .

The A’s needed a Gray sky expert badly Sunday . . .

“You gotta hand it to the A’s,” you can hear their fans and perhaps everyone who clung stubbornly to the myth of their 2014 long-term superiority. “Chips down, they overcome, right?” If you call “chips down overcoming” settling for the American League’s second wild card after owning baseball’s best record entering play on 10 August, then yes the A’s overcome with the chips down.

Jeter, overmatched but not outclassed

Jeter had a few pre-game chuckles with a few Orioles before Tuesday's game, but the way the game ended was anything but a smiling matter.

Jeter had a few pre-game chuckles with a few Orioles before Tuesday’s game, but the way the game ended was anything but a smiling matter.

In microcosm, Derek Jeter’s final at-bat Tuesday night slammed home both the point of what he’s no longer able to do and that the Yankees can’t afford even a single loss in their final five games if they want to get to the postseason even through the back door. For in a moment that once might have meant a final bell miracle, Jeter was hopelessly, almost embarrassingly overmatched.

Thinking of 2015 has two edges for the Mets

deGrom---his season's been ended but in 2015 he'll thicken the Met rotation

deGrom—his season’s been ended but in 2015 he’ll thicken the Met rotation

Jacob deGrom wanted to make one more start before the regular season closes. The Mets want to think about 2015, when they might—maybe—be a contending team again at last. So the likely National League Rookie of the Year has been shut down for the rest of the season, meaning it won’t be deGrom going against the Astros come Saturday. No, this isn’t exactly the Strasburg Plan, but the Mets are actually thinking smart here.

The end for Wren

Wren (right, with Jason Heyward, left, and franchise icon Chipper Jones, center) in better days . . .

Wren (right, with Jason Heyward, left, and franchise icon Chipper Jones, center) in better days . . .

Apparently, the Braves’ administration decided Frank Wren had a little too much splainin’ to do after the team’s punchless collapse climaxed Sunday with a shove out of the postseason picture entirely at the hands of the Mets, or more specifically at the end of Jacob deGrom’s right arm. The Braves strapped Wren to the guillotine Monday, when the finish was barely twenty-four hours behind them.

The Atlanta Braves, dissipated

deGrom pins the Braves . . .

deGrom pins the Braves . . .

When any rookie pitcher has your lineup measured for an absolute kill, even a rookie as high impact as Jacob deGrom has been for the otherwise modest New York Mets, you’re going to be in for more than any afternoon to forget. The Atlanta Braves were reminded of that in the worst possible way Sunday afternoon, and in their own ballpark, yet.

How to follow a potential four-way AL tiebreaker without spilling your drink

The Oakland Athletics have fashioned a rather monumental collapse in the wake of early season calls to just hand them the World Series. The Kansas City Royals, a feel-good story until some time in the previous fortnight, are dogfighting with the Detroit Tigers in their division with the Tigers treating them like neighbourhood raiders this weekend thus far. The Seattle Mariners are trying their damnedest to shove the A’s back into the nether and into a tireless vortex of wha-happened? discussions.

And the net result of all this could prove to be an unprecedented four-way tiebreaker to settle that part of the American League’s postseason array not occupied by the Baltimore Orioles or the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels finish what the A’s started

C.J. Cron going on the rocks . . .

C.J. Cron going on the rocks . . .

You have to hand it to the Los Angeles Angels. And they’ve had nothing handed to them this year, except maybe a badly-needed bullpen fortification and a general manager sharp enough to produce it. And that was before the All-Star break and the non-waiver trade deadline.

About the only thing anyone was handing the Angels to that point was the Oakland Athletics handing them just enough reasons to think, perhaps, that they’d have to settle for getting into the postseason by way of the wild card. Unless you counted the Seattle Mariners handing their fourth bullpen-start game a shellacking that only began after Cory Rasmus was lifted after four stout innings Tuesday.

West’s suspension versus real accountability

Try to imagine what would have happened if Papelbon (right) had grabbed and shoved West . . .

Try to imagine what would have happened if Papelbon (right) had grabbed and shoved West . . .

In June 1983, Joe Torre was the Atlanta Braves’ manager, Joe West was a veteran of six seasons’ umpiring in the National League, and Bob Watson—who has held the baseball government post Torre now holds—was a Brave who’d been fined $100 for arguing over a game-ending third strike when the game was over. And all Torre wanted was to question West as to whether Watson deserved such a hit after a game.

 

The Beltway clinches, and dreams awhile . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones got a few Camden Yards fans a little pie-eyed—cream pied, that is. Bryce Harper plopped a personalised Washington, D.C. Fire Department helmet on his head and took selfies with teammates. Neither man had to be told otherwise that a possible Beltway World Series loomed ahead, depending upon how the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals handle themselves when the postseason launches.