Add Justin Morneau to the list of baseball players whose careers have been compromised and then brought to a close due to concussions and their after-effects. The longtime Twins first baseman who made subsequent stops in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Colorado has retired to take a gig in the Twins’ front office, as a special assistant.
Before he took the mound in Yankee Stadium Tuesday night, Ervin Santana, the Twins’ wild card game starter, did his best to shake off how much he doesn’t really like Yankee Stadium. Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles,” the veteran tweeted, “is not a realist.”
Oh, boy, did reality bite. Hard.
Someone should have reminded Santana of the admonition of Jesus Christ: “Judge not, that ye not be judged.” Or, Judged, as the case turned out to be for the Twins as they went home for the winter on an 8-4 loss.
Twelve years ago, the Yankees got a division series Game Five shock from an Angels rookie named Ervin Santana. It cost them a trip to the American League Championship Series, where the Angels would be broken on one of the worst blown calls in postseason history, but that’s another story.
If good pitching beats good hitting, the Indians go into this postseason with a distinct advantage over the competition. Even over those yummy young Yankees. And if good hitting beats good pitching, a few postseason bullpens have key vulnerabilities. Rather than bore you with why I think everyone else can just hurry up and wait for the Indians to claim this year what they nearly did last, let’s expand upon those two thoughts.
The great baseball trivia questions of the rest of this century will include, “Name the American League team who clinched the second wild card after trading their closer at the non-waiver trade deadline the same season. Hint: They’re also the first team to lose 100+ one year and make the postseason the next.”
Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.
Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
When the American League champion Royals let Billy Butler walk as a free agent following the postseason, the question became who might step into the designated hitter slot. Butler fell out of favour with manager Ned Yost when he produced too little bang for his .271 bucks. Butler got the number one job for the Royals’ staggering postseason run simply because he was there.
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.
The Minnesota Twins still have all the confidence on earth in manager Ron Gardenhire—but they didn’t feel likewise about most of his coaching staff, executing three and reassigning two in a field shakeup tied to two consecutive 95+ loss seasons.
First base coach Jerry White—who’s had the job since Gardenhire’s predecessor Tom Kelly hired him in 1999—is out. Third base coach Steve Liddle, in the job since moving from bench coach (which he’d been since 2002) is also out. So is bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who’s been in the organisation since the Carter Administration.