Already thought to be on the hot seat for much of the year, with his Reds clearly in rebuilding mode and performing a little worse than expected, manager Bryan Price may not have thrown the switch on his own execution Thursday night. But being asleep at the switch against a team looking for every break it can get clawing for a second National League wild card spot can turn up the seat’s heat even further.
When Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga* lost his perfect game to Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base in 2010, he had a sympathiser from baseball’s not too distant past. Milt Pappas’s cell phone blew up, Pappas having lost a perfect game in the ninth on a ball call.
Yes, I would rather be thinking aloud about such things as Jeff Samardzija’s slightly ridiculous contract. (Shades of Bud Black.) About whether John Lackey’s and (especially) Jason Heyward’s signings with the Cubs really do make them a 2016 World Series entrant. (Berra’s Law still applies, as the 2015 Nationals can tell you.) About how much financial flexibility Michael Cuddyer’s retirement leaves the Mets. (Some, but maybe not quite enough to think about re-signing Yoenis Cespedes.) Or Johnny Cueto signing with the Giants. Among other things.
Set aside for the moment that the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Dodgers may fall through thanks to a domestic violence investigation involving the Cincinnati closer and his girlfriend. It didn’t come to light until the winter meetings launched and it looked like Chapman was going west. And it’s thrown the winter meetings into a partial loop.
Now, ask yourself whether the Dodgers learned nothing from the 2015 Nationals.
On the day where the big news should be a staggering group of pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz) and a sneaky-great infielder (Craig Biggio) entering the Hall of Fame, the Reds dealing Johnny Cueto to the Royals, right after Cueto knocked down health concerns with eight shutout innings against the Rockies in a park that normally vaporises pitching, threatens to equal it.
Really, now, only one thing should shock about the now-firm evidence that Pete Rose bet on baseball while he still played baseball: that anyone should be shocked, when all is said and done. The telltale signs have been there. And, numerous observers are saying (and have said in the past), Rose changes his story almost as often as he once changed his sanitary socks.
When Whitey Herzog wrote his memoir You’re Missin’ a Great Game, he included remarks about Alex Johnson that must have dropped every jaw in southern California who remembered Johnson’s tempestuous tenure (to put it politely) in an Angel uniform. To hear the White Rat say it, Johnson—who died 28 February at 72, after a battle with cancer—was anything but a handful, once you played things straight with him.
Rob Manfred’s first half month in office as baseball’s new commissioner seems a brief introductory term in which he has enunciated thoughts good, not so good, better, and not so much so. At the minimum he seems to have ideas about putting a little distance between himself and his predecessor, which is good, never mind “how much” remains to be seen in full.
Gil Hodges is getting another crack at the Hall of Fame. So are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, and Maury Wills. So is Bob Howsam, who built the Big Red Machine. Thank the Golden Era Committee, one of the three committees mandated to replace the former Veterans Committee to review the Hall of Fame credentials of those who didn’t quite make the Baseball Writers Association of America cuts in the past.
No, I didn’t think the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball could possibly go unnoticed, unremarked, and unanalysed, either. The notices, remarks, and analyses seem infinite even a day after the actual anniversary.
Some of them are interesting, some of them are boilerplate, and now and then you bump into one that scores the way Rose once scored runs: unequivocal, a shade on the merciless side, a shade on the side of straining to understand, but unapologetic about the proper conclusion that, for all the time that’s passed, Rose hasn’t exactly earned reinstatement to baseball.