Wally Moon, RIP: A Coliseum star

Wally Moon, during spring training with the 1959 Dodgers whom he'd just joined in a trade from the Cardinals.

Wally Moon, during spring training with the 1959 Dodgers whom he’d just joined in a trade from the Cardinals—a suggestion from Stan Musial helped him survive and thrive in the insane asylum known as baseball in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Wally Moon was probably the first Dodgers superstar strictly of Los Angeles. Arriving from the Cardinals for 1959 in a trade, the outfielder soon became a fan favourite for his smarts, his competence in the outfield, and his patented Moon Shots over the infamous left field high screen in the hideous (for baseball) Los Angeles Coliseum.

Mets skipper bans dry humping. No, not THAT kind.

Dry humping is verboten in the Mets bullpen so long as new manager Mickey Callaway has anything to say about it.

Dry humping is verboten in the Mets bullpen so long as new manager Mickey Callaway has anything to say about it.

There will be no dry humping in the Mets’ bullpen this year if manager Mickey Callaway has anything to say about it. And, no, believe it or not, he’s not referring to players sneaking wives or girl friends into the pen for a little fully-clothed intimacy, either.

Jarrod Parker surrenders to the elbow that betrayed him

Surrendering a home run to Raul Ibanez, which he did just before being captured this way on camera, was nothing compared to his elbow surrendering, period, for Jarrod Parker.

Surrendering a home run to Raul Ibanez, which he did just before being captured this way on camera, was nothing compared to his elbow surrendering, period, for Jarrod Parker.

Spring training isn’t even a week old and there’s already someone calling it a career because a key part of his body has not just resigned its commission but gone AWOL thanks to injuries. Say hello and goodbye to Jarrod Parker, once a promising Athletic after moving there in a deal with the Diamondbacks. He’s finished. Says he. At 29.

Spring training has sprung, but . . .

It isn’t that simple now just to say, “Spring training is here!” Not with a nice handful of stories accompanying it, such as:

* The Major League Baseball Players’ Association has opened a training camp for unsigned free agents at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. They have also barred the press from it. (The last such camp, following the 1994 strike, had no such restriction.) That’s the way to make friends and influence people who think (reasonably, in several cases) that enough of these unsigned players seek contracts above and beyond their actual competence and actual future projections.

On the Darvish signing and baseball’s strange market “correction”

Six years, $125 million is actually a bargain for Yu Darvish with the Cubs . . . but what of this winter's strange market?

Six years, $125 million is actually a bargain for Yu Darvish with the Cubs . . . but what of this winter’s strange market?

On the threshold of pitchers and catchers reporting to open spring training, one prominent pitcher has found a way through the actual or allegedly paralytic free agency market into a Cubs uniform. Yu Darvish, last seen being nuked by the Astros in Game Seven of the World Series, has signed for six years and $125 million. Some call it a bargain, considering  Darvish projected to six and $154 million on expected performance. Others call it a big risk. There may be a little of both involved.

Number one pick to number three no-Show doesn’t haunt oft-injured Mark Appel

Shoulder injuries eroded the baseball smile for former Astros number one draft pick Mark Appel.

Shoulder injuries eroded the baseball smile for former Astros number one draft pick Mark Appel.

The next time you think baseball is as simple a game as it looks, you might want to ponder Mark Appel. The former Houston pitching prospect who went number one in the 2013 draft, while the Astros performed the rebuild that culminated in last fall’s World Series conquest, is stepping away from the game.

If he stays there, as Bleacher Report notes in a striking story about the 26-year-old righthander, Appel will become the third number one pick never to see even an hour in the Show outside spring training, in hand with Steve Chilcott and Brien Taylor. And it’ll be for the same reason—injuries.

What can you Shea?

Shea Stadium as it opened in 1964 . . .

Shea Stadium as it opened in 1964 . . .

Shea Stadium’s final season began ten years ago. If ever a ballpark were conceived in sin yet born to provide pleasure running the range from farce to finery, the Big Shea—as we Met fans since the day they were born called it—was it. It was long years since I’d last sat in the park, but whatever the beauties of its successor Citi Field something precious died when the last portion of the park came down at last.

My son’s idol, the Hall of Famer

Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, here hitting one out on a pitch that looks suspiciously IN the strike zone!

Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, here hitting one out on a pitch that looks suspiciously IN the strike zone!

I’m pleading parental prerogative in congratulating Vladimir Guerrero first among four new Hall of Famers. Nothing at all against Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Thome, all of whom I have argued before deserve the honour. But Vlad the Impaler was my son, Bryan’s, hero growing up.

Doug Harvey, RIP: Timing

Doug Harvey (left) handing Roberto Clemente the ball Clemente hit for his final major league hit---number 3,000, in 1972.

Doug Harvey (left) handing Roberto Clemente the ball Clemente hit for his final major league hit—number 3,000, in 1972.

Doug Harvey, who died Saturday at 87, was a conscientious umpire who insisted on getting the calls right, not fast. He helped usher in the end of umpires anticipating calls after an incident in his rookie National League season, 1962, with Stan Musial at the plate and two outs.

Harvey called strike three on a pitch that looked like it would cross the plate but in fact broke wide of it. Musial didn’t flinch. He called for his glove from a Cardinals’ bat boy and, without turning around, chided Harvey, “Young fellow, I don’t know what league you came from, but we use the same plate. It’s seventeen inches wide.”

Al Luplow, RIP: Catch as catch can

Luplow holding aloft the ball he caught with a flying leap over the Fenway Park right center field fence in 1963.

Luplow holding aloft the ball he caught with a flying leap over the Fenway Park right center field fence in 1963.

Al Luplow spent only two out of seven major league seasons as a regular player, with the 1964 Indians and the 1966 Mets. But the greatest moment of his career was a) when he was a non-regular; and, b) when a mere 6,000+ fans sait in Fenway Park to see it happen.