Having spent much of June reeling somewhat ferociously, the Mets enter a set against the first place Nationals on a small tear of having won four out of six. Two of the four were a sweep of the defending world champion Royals, against whom the Mets lost a 2015 World Series they actually could have won (they won this season’s series against the Royals, 3-1), and they’ve just split a set in Atlanta with the lowly Braves who swept them rather ignominiously at home the previous weekend.
If you’re my age, the first two words into your brain when you saw the pitch sail up and in and catch Ryan Vogelsong flush around the left cheek and eye Monday were Tony Conigliaro. Then, as Vogelsong was carted off the PNC Park field en route Allegheny General Hospital, you said a prayer that the Pirates’ righthander doesn’t face even one degree of what Tony C. faced.
All good things must come to an end, even baseball games. Not to mention staggering rookie home run streaks and the San Diego Padres’ season-opening, run-scoring futilities. For now, at least. But did the Padres have to rub it in as they did Saturday evening?
Bad enough for the Colorado Rockies: The Padres not only ended their season-opening scoreless streak at their expense Friday night, but they battered them 13-6 while they were at it. Worse: The Padres on Saturday picked up where they left off Friday night, then saw and raised themselves, 16-3 with nineteen hits.
Spending at at least a year and a half as the subject of trade speculation, while insisting he really didn’t want to leave Denver, Troy Tulowitzki—swapped to the Blue Jays this week, for former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes—says he was blindsided almost completely by the deal. Apparently, he had a gentleman’s agreement with Rockies owner Dick Monfort that he wouldn’t be dealt without his prior knowledge and approval. Until he didn’t, of course.
God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.
* Don’t look now, but the Toronto Blue Jays are turning the American League East into a potential all-out war to the wire. An eleven-game winning streak approaching the All-Star break does that for you. And don’t discount the morale boost when that streak includes thumping the Texas Rangers 24-4 over four games, the Colorado Rockies 15-5 in three, and the Baltimore Orioles, a division rival, 24-13, in three, including that 13-5 fricaseeing Sunday. And to think Sunday’s carnage only began when Edwin Encarnacion scored with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the first after Freddy Garcia plunked Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on the first pitch. Encarnacion got his payback an inning later, driving one over the left field fence with Jose Bautista aboard—and two out.
Let’s try this again.
Assume the Washington Nationals will stick to the script and implement, some time in September, the exclamation point of the Strasburg Plan. Period dot period. Assume, too, that there’ll be enough blue murder screaming over the Nats torpedoing their own postseason chances. Maybe even some conspiracy theorists demanding a formal investigation, perhaps into whether someone isn’t buying the Nats off bigtime to tank. (Would the conspiracy theorists surprise you, really?)
Now, shove all that to one side and look at the Nats’ rotation without Stephen Strasburg.
You can say the name alone and it becomes a nine-letter synonym for greatness. But it’s always nice to be handed fresh reminders as to why Vin Scully’s name became that synonym in the first place. Monday night, for example.
This reminder came down during the seventh inning, with freshly minted Dodger Shane Victorino at the plate. Just about everyone since has been buzzing about everything Scully said for the at-bat, the play, the argument, and the ejection, except two things he managed to tuck in, one in the middle, and one after the meat of it was digested.
Turns out the Chicago Cubs got a pair of A-level minor leaguers, Christian Vilanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (RHP), from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster . . . decent prospects but not necessarily blue chips. For the most part, few no-questions-asked blue chip prospects moved in the non-waiver trade period, Jean Segura (SS) possibly having been the bluest of the chips when he went to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.
How and why did the Rangers—hungering for rotation help with Colby Lewis gone for the year (entering the final fortnight, his was the hole they needed to fill)—end up settling for Dempster when all was said and done? According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:
Even a man who’s old enough to have seen the Original Mets and lived to tell the tales could barely believe this one. And I’d seen the legend of Marvelous Marv Throneberry, very live, enough to know that everything written about the hapless first baseman long since was bloody well true.
But wherever he is (he died in 1994), if Marvelous Marv was watching the Colorado Rockies play the Cincinnati Reds Sunday, he might have sent down a note to manager Jim Tracy and his crew.