One minute Giancarlo Stanton managed to get back ahead of Nori Aoki in the National League All-Star voting. The next, he was gone, for four to six weeks and maybe more, thanks to a hamate bone fracture in his left hand. This is just what the Marlins don’t need in a year in which they were trying to build on 2014′s fifteen-game improvement.
“There’s trouble on Joe Pepitone’s line,” was the title Bill Madden gave a chapter of his 2003 book Pride of October: What It Was to be Young and a Yankee. The title alluded to what Madden heard when he first called Pepitone at his Long Island home to arrange interviews for the book. Long before he struggled to reach the former first baseman, there was trouble on Joe Pepitone’s line. And there would be again, nine years later.
There are those who walk among us in their twilight and inspire us to think that, warts and all, our world still remains a lovely place to be simply because such people still walk among us. In a time when sports seems to yield up more dubious and disreputable characters among its active players, we are comforted to know that some of our past athletic subjects prove better people than they did players, however great they were as the latter.
Try this one, if you will. Umpires can botch home run calls (hello, Angel Hernandez) and get away with it, more or less. Sometimes, they can botch pitching change rules (hello, Fielden Culbreth) with a little help from managers who don’t know the rules quite yet (hello, Bo Porter). But who knew our beloved human elements (aren’t you getting exhausted of that tiresome phrase and its customary accompanying rhetoric?) could miss a no-questions-asked application from the latest inductee into the Salivation Army?
The Walking Man has walked home at 86.
Eddie Yost as a player could hit a little bit, sometimes with power, usually early in the order, but had one of the most remarkable facilities for wringing first base on the house out of opposing pitchers. At his death Tuesday he sat number eleven on the all-time pass list, having led his league in walks six times, and having averaged 124 walks per 162 games in his eighteen-season playing career.
At a Baseball Assistance Team dinner over a decade ago, Joe Pignatano—once a reserve major league catcher whose career began with the Brooklyn Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets; later a respected Mets bullpen coach—eased himself into a stool behind a table. His old Brooklyn Dodgers teammate, Sandy Koufax, was stationed behind the same table, signing assorted memorabilia and bric-a-brac.
“Hey,” a voice hollered, “how come he gets to sit there?” Koufax flashed a grin and replied, “Roomie seat.”
Bobby Valentine’s bicycle seems to spend more time backpedaling than anything else when he’s aboard. And he has no better sense of direction than when he’s trying to pedal forward.
A few days ago, when a reporter had the audacity to ask in which if any areas the Red Sox needed improvement, Valentine delivered yet another remark the kind that has Red Sox Nation and Red Sox critics alike wondering when, not if, Valentine gets pinked. Not because he’s wrong, necessarily, but because he has a need, apparently insatiable, to take the low road, implying he can do nothing much past playing what he’s been dealt.
Afforded the chance to do so by WEEI’s Rob Bradford, who seems one of the less cannibalistic among sports radio heads, Josh Beckett had a few more things to say about the end of his Boston tour. A few perhaps inadvertent misstatements to the contrary, since Beckett wasn’t always forthcoming with reporters after his losses this season, the righthander didn’t exactly come across as a mere fuming brat. MassLive.com’s Ben Shapiro caught the point almost at once:
Roger Clemens gets off the hook on a perjury rap because either the House Committee for the Sending of Swell Messages to Kids, the actual prosecution, or the original Mitchell Report bungled its way across the sticky wickets of actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances. It induces something of a giant sucking yawn, with only an occasional bleat against putting the Rocket into the Hall of Fame.
Most baseball analysts blurt out observations that beg for further examination here and there. Ken Rosenthal, the Fox Sports writer and commentator, and one of the best analysts of the breed, is one of them. Here he is, musing about Don Mattingly’s growth as a manager in light of having had “three strikes” against him when he took the command post for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year: He had never managed in the majors or minors. He had to exert greater authority over players who knew him only as a coach. And he had been a great player — a drawback, seeing as how great players rarely make great managers.