Heartbreak Hill

Rich Hill, pitching what proves the hardest-luck loss of his major league life.Pour up a couple of ice cold Cokes, Jim Maloney and Pedro Martinez, and lift a toast to the memory of Harvey Haddix and Hippo Vaughn.┬áBecause nothing in Rich Hill’s roller-coaster pitching career prepared him to join that group of pitchers who took no-hitters or better into extra innings and lost them.

For 98 pitches Wednesday night in Pittsburgh Hill was almost perfect. Heeven shook it off when third baseman Logan Forsythe stumbled on Jordy Mercer’s leadoff grounder in the ninth and erased the next three in order, prompting Dodger manager Dave Roberts—trying to make up to his man for pulling him after 89 perfect pitches last September—to send him out for the tenth.

Tight Indians win, big Indians mouth

Kipnis may yet learn how nice it isn't to insult another team with a long-suffering fan base . . .

Kipnis may yet learn how nice it isn’t to insult another team with a long-suffering fan base . . .

Jason Kipnis, the Indians’ two-time All-Star second baseman, grew up in a Chicago suburb with dreams of playing the World Series in Wrigley Field. Dreams shared by a few million Cub fans who couldn’t wait to get the party started when the World Series finally came to Wrigley Field after lo these many decades.

And after his Indians managed to squeeze their way to a 1-0 Game Three win in the Confines, Kipnis took into consideration the broken hearts in the ballpark, in front of the television sets, next to the radios, wherever Cub Country congregated, and had words for those hearts.

The Cubs, the Indians, and their worst. trades. ever.

Rocky Colavito Lou Brock Colavito for Kuenn. Brock for Broglio. Decades to recover. Of all the actual or alleged curses inflicted upon the Indians and the Cubs, maybe none of them impacted each franchise the way those two deals did.

One involved a slugging, run-productive outfielder who seemed Hall of Fame bound until injuries finally took their toll. The other became a Hall of Fame outfielder whose particular stock in trade was leading off magnificently, with a little power and a lot of contact ability, then turning games into track meets and crime scenes with his stolen base virtuosity.

Here, the stories behind each staggering deal.

The Salivation Army

"This ought to be gobs of fun the rest of the night!"

“This ought to be gobs of fun the rest of the night!”

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?

Homer Bailey, One, None, and Done

Spreading his wings after no-no-ing the Pirates . . .

“Late success,” Sandy Koufax once mused, “is quieter.” I’m not entirely convinced it’s true in Homer Bailey’s case, since he’s gone from a seventh-overall 2004 draft pick to a shaky major league beginning despite the ballyhoo to standing on top of the world, or at least the PNC Park mound with his Cincinnati Reds owning the National League Central, and himself proving, at long enough last, he belonged in any serious Reds rotation plans.

Boys Will Be Boys

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.