Roy Sievers, RIP: Sentimental journeys

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers modeled his batting stroke on that of Joe Medwick, his baseball hero growing up in St. Louis. He made a respectable career as a slugging first baseman and a smooth swinger who studied the game and didn’t let the seedier sides of it soil his shyly genial nature.

Sievers, the first to win an American League Rookie of the Year award when it became an each-league prize (in 1949), died 3 April at 90. He’d overcome early career shoulder miseries to convert from the outfield to first base at the impetus of Bill Veeck, who owned the St. Louis Browns with whom Sievers first arose.

Birthday boy subjected to immediate use, misuse, and abuse

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

It’s bad enough if and when a young pitcher gets the call to the Show, gets the start under whatever circumstances, and gets slapped around. It’s almost worse if you’re a veteran who hasn’t seen major league action in almost two years and you got a call up to take a spot start.

Jeremy Guthrie would never kid you that he’s been one of the greats of his time. But he might have told you he was serviceable enough to pitch in all or parts of twelve major league seasons prior to Saturday.

They know nussing—nussing!

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

It looked innocent as the Bad News Bears Thursday afternoon. Brett Cecil, the Cardinals relief pitcher, threw a fastball to Cubs pinch hitter Matt Szczur opening the top of the seventh that hit the dirt and disappeared, allowing Szczur to reach first despite the stickout–er, strikeout.

Except that the ball didn’t disappear. It bounced into catcher Yadier Molina’s chest protector. And stayed there. Cecil had to shout, “Chest! Chest!” before Molina realised where the ball was. And the amusing mishap, over which even the Cubs had to laugh, proved to be the moment that turned toward the Cubs a game the Cardinals led 4-2 at the time.

Is Derek Jeter fishing for the Marlins?

Jeter, here hitting the home run that became his 3,000th major league hit, has ideas about becoming a baseball owner . . .

Jeter, here hitting the home run that became his 3,000th major league hit, has ideas about becoming a baseball owner . . .

Three decades ago, when Boys of Summer author Roger Kahn bought the minor league Utica Blue Sox, one of the first people he told was “my cherished Brooklyn Dodgers friend” Carl Furillo. “You? An owner?” Furillo replied in amazement. “You’ll be lucky if you don’t have two ulcers by Opening Day.”

Kahn sold the team after a year. But he was (and is) a writer. Players turning owners is almost as rare. The latest possibility may be Derek Jeter, who’s reported to be interested in becoming a major player in any push to buy the Miami Marlins.

Opening Day: Cy Ruth versus two blown saves

Maybe they should have left Bumgarner in for the ninth . . .

Maybe they should have left Bumgarner in for the ninth . . .

Wouldn’t you love to have known the dialogue between Giants manager Bruce Bochy and his Opening Day starting pitcher and Cy Ruth Award candidate Madison Bumgarner, when Bumgarner wasn’t pitching during their not-pretty 6-5 loss to the Diamondbacks? Rumour has it that it went something like this:

Bochy: Bum, it’s not that we don’t need the runs, but would you kindly remember that your job with this team is not to do your impersonation of Henry Aaron every other time up?

Bumgarner: Skip, just don’t look at me!

Opening Day: Longoria, Archer pin the Baby Bombers

2017's first home run launches off Evan Longoria's bat . . .

2017′s first home run launches off Evan Longoria’s bat . . .

Opening Day in all fairness isn’t the complete, final measure of the season to come. The Yankees are probably thanking the spirits of Yankees past for that after the beat down Evan Longoria the Rays inflicted upon them Sunday afternoon.

But they’re probably also saying thanks to whomever aligned their bullpen to open. The pen showed the moxie the lineup lacked after the Rays piled up what proved the 7-3 final. Shame they couldn’t stop Longoria from hitting the season’s first bomb.

Dallas Green, RIP: Toughness to tragedy

Green (right) joining the field party with Mike Schmidt (20) and, center, relief ace Tug McGraw, as the Phillies win their first World Series.

Green (right) joining the field party with Mike Schmidt (20) and, center, relief ace Tug McGraw, as the Phillies win their first World Series.

Dallas Green, who died today at 82, once told his players he was the toughest sonofabitch for whom they’d ever play. Whether leading the Phillies to their first World Series title or surviving the furies of George Steinbrenner with the 1989 Yankees or the planned obsolescence of the early-to-mid 1990s Mets, Green’s kind of tough let him survive the kind of times that could break the toughest of birds at a moment’s notice.

Charlie’s Devils

Finley (left) with Dick Williams, who managed back-to-back Series champs before trying to escape the asylum.

Finley (left) with Dick Williams, who managed back-to-back Series champs before trying to escape the asylum.

It’s mentioned only in passing in Jason Turnbow’s Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s. (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt; 386 p, $26.) But what Finley did to outfielder Ken (Hawk) Harrelson in 1967 gave a sneak preview into two things.

Finley showed what he was capable of doing to divide and conquer his own team, never mind that he often united the team against him. And the Hawk showed what a player considered top drawer or with the visible potential to get there could earn on a fair, open market, at a time when baseball owners continued abusing the ancient reserve clause to keep them chattel.

The rites (wrongs?) of spring, continued . . .

McCutchen lost his confidence on the bases when he slumped at the plate last year . . .

McCutchen lost his confidence on the bases when he slumped at the plate last year . . .

* Some think the Mets’ Tim Tebow experiment is a farce, some think it’s just good clean fun. He looked a bit on the foolish side in his first two spring games before collecting his first spring hit and making a diving catch while he was at it. There are worse things that could happen in spring training.

New book remembers Hunter’s free agency groundbreak

Hunter on the mound during the 1974 World Series.

Hunter on the mound during the 1974 World Series.

If the excerpt I have just read from Jason Turnbow’s Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swinging A’s is any indication, it promises to be maybe the single best study of one of baseball’s most memorably controversial teams. The early-to-mid-1970s Oakland Athletics were many things. Dull wasn’t one of them.

You remember: the Mustache Gang who ruled baseball (three straight World Series rings, a feat not achieved since) while they played and were owned almost as though there were no rules beyond the caprices of themselves (if ever any team adhered to the old maxim that boys will be boys, the early 70s A’s were it), and, particularly, their Mad Hatter-like owner.