Language barriers, brawl game jersey auctions, and other fooleries

Did Hall of Famer Schmidt have a point about language barriers, however clumsily addressed?

Did Hall of Famer Schmidt have a point about language barriers, however clumsily addressed?

We should be enjoying things this week. Things like the Astros’ staggering dominance of the American League West and maybe baseball itself, the bombing of Yankee rookie Aaron (Here Comes The) Judge, the near-classic pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg, the four-homer game of an obscurity named Scooter Gennett, the 600th home run of Albert Pujols.

But no. Baseball is played and governed by human beings, and human beings are only too fallible. Consider:

Pujols hits a grand No. 600

Albert Pujols hitting number 600 . . . with ducks on the pond, yet . . .

Albert Pujols hitting number 600 . . . with ducks on the pond, yet . . .

Once upon a time, Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara became baseball’s first player to join the 500 home run club by hitting numbers 499 and 500 on the same night. Saturday night, he became the only one to join the 600-home run club with a grand slam at the expense of a former teammate.

“I’m not the only one [to surrender a homer to Pujols], you know,” Ervin Santana kidded after the game. “I’m No. 9 right now on the 600 club. He’s very nice and very humble. He always worked hard, and you can tell. He’s ‘The Machine’.”

Roll an ankle, pitch a no-no? Unheard-of

Volquez celebrates his no-hitter Saturday

Volquez celebrates his no-hitter Saturday

Let’s see. Jim Maloney, who dealt his entire career with shoulder and arm miseries, suffered a muscle strain while trying to pitch a no-hitter in 1964. Then-Reds manager Fred Hutchinson, himself a former pitcher, took no chances and lifted Maloney.

Maloney had two no-hitters in his future, but he’d also leave another no-hitter-in-the-making thanks to injuring his ankle running the bases in the top of the sixth. (His career would be marked paid for all intent and purpose in 1970, as an Angel, when he severed an Achilles tendon . . . on a baserunning play.)

Eleven days before Strickland’s final wrist slap

Harper charges Strickland after getting drilled Memorial Day . . .

Harper charges Strickland after getting drilled Memorial Day . . .

I wondered what was taking so long with Hunter Strickland’s suspension appeal, too. But now we know, thanks to the San Jose Mercury-News‘s Andrew Baggarly: Strickland’s appeal date won’t be until 13 June. And for those who think Bryce Harper got heard a little too swiftly and a little too favourably, there’s more than you think to it.

As Baggarly reports, baseball government—which too often behaves like government government when wisdom is called for—offered to cut Harper’s suspension if he dropped his appeal. Harper accepted the offer and got his suspension reduced to 27 innings. (Three games.)

Basebrawl’s jake with Arrieta

This kind of basebrawl is just jake with Arrieta . . .

This kind of basebrawl is (his word) refreshing to Jake Arrieta . . .

One of the most thoughtfully articulate baseball players of his time stands athwart sense, yelling “Super!” about brawl games such as that instigated by Hunter Strickland against Bryce Harper on Memorial Day. It’s enough to provoke lustful thoughts about the Kardashians, to whom exhibitionism equals articulation.

Schpritzing about who does and does not have the right to flip a bat upon a monster mash may be one thing, but Jake Arrieta, Cubs pitcher, thinks the Strickland-Harper rumble was “awesome.”

Skip sublime, go ridiculous, almost three years later

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:

This is the second of the almost three-year-old bombs Harper hit for which Strickland wanted his revenge . . .

This is the second of the almost three-year-old bombs Harper hit for which Strickland wanted his revenge . . .

Jim Bunning, RIP: Tenacity

Jim Bunning, pitching his 1964 perfect game against the Mets . . .

Jim Bunning, pitching his 1964 perfect game against the Mets . . .

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.

Things I’m Waiting to See . . .

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.

Steve Palermo, RIP: Courage, diligence, wit, grace

Steve Palermo, four months after a bullet paralysed him temporarily from the waist down, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the 1991 World Series in Minnesota.

Steve Palermo, three months after a bullet paralysed him temporarily from the waist down, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the 1991 World Series in Minnesota.

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.

Saturday night in Cashman Field, a pitching duel wrecked by a bullpen implosion

Smoker, dealing in the fourth inning Saturday night.

Smoker, dealing in the fourth inning Saturday night.

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.