Between the end of the 2014 National League division series and this Memorial Day, Bryce Harper hadn’t batted against Hunter Strickland. During that NLDS, Harper faced Strickland twice and took him deep twice, both mammoth blasts, one of them a splash hit in the deciding Game Four:
Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame righthander who died Friday night of complications from an October 2016 stroke, didn’t mind breaking a few taboos. Whether during a perfect game, helping the hunt for the Major League Baseball Players Association’s first executive director, or driving even his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill nuts, the freckled Kentuckian feared no hitter, manager, owner, or fellow politician.
Are you still waiting for Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to surrender a walk? As of this writing he hasn’t handed anyone a pass in eighteen innings pitched while leading the National League with a 16.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. I should be careful saying it; like taking your car to the car wash on a sunny day only to see it start raining before you get it home to the garage, I could have just put a hex on Jansen and he’ll walk his first batter of the year his next time out.
Baseball celebrated the retirement of Derek Jeter’s Yankee uniform number on the same Mother’s Day during which Steve Palermo finally lost a battle with cancer at 67. Something doesn’t seem right about that.
Palermo—the umpire shot trying to help two waitresses under attack outside a Dallas restaurant in 1991, leaving him temporarily waist-down paralysed and forcing him to retire as an active umpire—loved the game and its meanings almost as much as he loved life.
The Las Vegas chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research, of which I am a member, decided to round up at Cashman Field Saturday night to watch the Las Vegas 51s (AAA farm of the Mets) host the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA farm of the Royals). The seats were in the club restaurant, up against the glass at the front over the stands.
Once upon a time, Doug DeCinces was known as the third baseman who bridged the gap (the words of the Society for American Baseball Research) between Orioles franchise icons. He succeeded Brooks Robinson until he was dealt to the Angels when the Orioles needed to make room for a franchise icon-in-waiting, Cal Ripken, Jr.
Few are Red Sox fans who forget the Bobby Valentine nightmare of 2012. Hired as the Red Sox manager following the September 2011 debacle, Valentine’s divide-and-conquer style toxified an injury-wracked, confidence-impaired team.
Is it really time for the Mets to think what was once unthinkable, a future without Matt Harvey? Would waiting for him to make the medically necessary transition from a pure power pitcher to a pure thinking pitcher be worth the headache (pardon the pun) of his apparent makeup issues?
Ending a professional baseball career depends on the circumstances that provoked it. You’d like to see every player go out the way that’s most comfortable for him, but you know without being told that it won’t always work like that.
We hardly begrudged men like Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz taking their bows all around the circuit, as happened when each announced the forthcoming season that would be their last. We also wondered whether it made the sting of retirement easier to bear while wondering just how far into self-congratulation those men might fall.
What’s next for the New York Mess (er, Mets)? Pitchers coming in from the bullpen in the Deathmobile? Hazing their rookies by sending them on a mass Food King shoplift? A toga party at second base? A food fight in the clubhouse? Welcome to Citi Field’s Animal House.
I’d better amend one of the foregoing. At the rate they’re going, three more Mets would be injured during the food fight, one of the rookies on the mass Food King shoplift would come up with a strained oblique, and another would suffer a shoulder separation firing the pistol at the rampaging horse.