When then-fresh Mets acquisition Dave Kingman faced then-fresh Yankee signing Catfish Hunter in their spring training premieres of 1975, Kingman blasted one so far over the left field fence it cleared six palm trees behind the fence and landed near second base on the training field behind the game field. Roger Angell wrote of the blow and it’s aftermath, speeding Hunter’s acceptance among his new teammates, “There’s nothing like a little public humiliation to make a three-million-dollar executive suddenly feel loveable.”
When Bryce Harper was growing up in Las Vegas, where he could watch the Dodgers on television and listen to Vin Scully, he noticed readily what most of the world has known for decades. It wasn’t just about the game to Scully.
When the Nationals reached out and landed then-Pirates closer Mark Melancon two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, I wondered aloud whether that meant incumbent Jonathan Papelbon’s days in Washington were numbered. They were. The Nats granted his release Saturday afternoon.
According to ESPN Saturday morning, Papelbon himself sought to put paid to those numbered days, reportedly asking the team to release him. The move ends a tenure that wasn’t exactly an overwhelming favourite in the first place.
It’s getting to where someone can’t even reach his 3,000th hit without being sandwiched tightly around less than happy news. You’d think Ichiro Suzuki could turn on Chris Rusin’s 2-0 service Sunday and rip it off the top of the right field wall for a triple without players bearing sadder news overshadowing him.
Not that the terminally modest Ichiro would complain, mind you. But he shared Sunday with Alex Rodriguez’s gracious announcement that he would give in to the Yankees essentially firing him as a player while planning to make him an advisor and field instructor.
A one-time legend among New York columnists, Frank Graham, observed about a suddenly-accessible player at the end of his career, “He learned to say hello when it was time to say goodbye.” Paraphrasing, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wrote Sunday that Alex Rodriguez learned to say hello while he was essentially saying goodbye over the past two years.
If baseball has any truth regarding trades, it’s that not everyone trades or is traded gracefully, or graciously. Not everyone’s teammates take it as “just business” when a particular favourite is moved onward. And not everyone’s former bosses speak only kindly of their freshly-dealt former charges, either.
Ask the Padres, whose executive chairman Ron Fowler hasn’t been content just to have moved James Shields (to the White Sox) and Matt Kemp (to the Braves), and whose now-former player Kemp published a farewell of sorts on his way out of town.
Three years ago, Mark Prior finally gave up the ghost and retired as a pitcher, with a few words of warning to younger players about taking things for granted in an often unforgiving game. The San Diego native walked off the mound at 32 after what seemed like eternal comeback attempts in several minor league systems and into the Padres’ front office.
Last month began speculation that the Yankees approaching a serious rebuilding period were thinking the once unthinkable, deliberating among themselves whether to think about releasing Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. On Friday, what began as unnamed sources saying so became the horse’s mouth himself saying it: Teixeira saw and raised the earlier speculation, announcing he’d retire at season’s end.
You’re almost tempted to send Mike Trout sympathy cards and wreaths. While his Angels—through no fault of his—are spending another season in the tank, Trout is making history almost too quietly.
The Angels are 13.5 games out of the American League West hunt and unlikely to hit the kind of streaks needed to flip that around, not with the team as it is now, but Trout is twice that many games ahead of the rest of the game and maybe even beyond.
After the Indians botched and scotched a deal to land Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers, the Rangers swept in and bagged the catcher Monday when their deal to land Carlos Beltran from the Yankees had barely sunk in.
With relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress also going to Texas in the deal, the Rangers sent the Brewers prospects Lewis Brinson (OF) and Luis Ortiz (P), thought to have been two of the Rangers’ top three prospects. A slightly expensive price but one that might help push the Rangers to the postseason in hand with the Beltran deal.