New book remembers Hunter’s free agency groundbreak

Hunter on the mound during the 1974 World Series.

Hunter on the mound during the 1974 World Series.

If the excerpt I have just read from Jason Turnbow’s Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swinging A’s is any indication, it promises to be maybe the single best study of one of baseball’s most memorably controversial teams. The early-to-mid-1970s Oakland Athletics were many things. Dull wasn’t one of them.

You remember: the Mustache Gang who ruled baseball (three straight World Series rings, a feat not achieved since) while they played and were owned almost as though there were no rules beyond the caprices of themselves (if ever any team adhered to the old maxim that boys will be boys, the early 70s A’s were it), and, particularly, their Mad Hatter-like owner.

Dave Henderson, RIP: Big smile, big hits, big man

Dave Henderson (right, next to Calvin Schiraldi) after he helped bludgeon a 1986 pennant away from the Angels.

Dave Henderson (right, next to Calvin Schiraldi) after he helped bludgeon a 1986 pennant away from the Angels.

It’s a longtime baseball cliche that little men come up big in the clutch when you least expect it. The complementary cliche is the one about big men who aren’t as big as they look until you least expect it or you liberate them from an impossible world.

Great Scott, Houston!

Hometown rental?

Hometown rental?

Unless you’re a Delta Quadrant citizen, you know that the Houston Astros aren’t just a little bit ahead of their rebuilding schedule, they’re so thick in the thick of this year’s pennant races that you could afford to talk about them in such terms as, “What they need most right now is a starting pitcher who belongs in the front end.” And if the Oakland Athletics were willing to part with one, the Astros weren’t leery about dealing for him Thursday.

The Royals could lose more than a suspended pitcher—namely, respect

A five-game suspension for Herrera, who didn't know the meaning of the word "knock it off" when he went after Brett Lawrie last Sunday.

A five-game suspension for Herrera, who didn’t know the meaning of the word “knock it off” when he went after Brett Lawrie last Sunday.

Last year’s likeable Royals seem bent early on becoming this year’s unlikeable breed. They’ve lost one key relief pitcher and seen a key starter take a hit in the bank account over last weekend’s foolishness, and from the early comments it seems as though they’ve learned . . . nothing.

Joe West has game—unfortunately

Torii Hunter and Joe West, who aren't likely to be sitting down to dinner together any time soon . . .

Torii Hunter and Joe West, who aren’t likely to be sitting down to dinner together any time soon . . .

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.

In a hunt-and-peck thriller, the Royals’ roaches exterminate the A’s

Perez strokes the game-winner that'll pay for his steaks in K.C. for, oh, forever . . .

Perez strokes the game-winner that’ll pay for his steaks in K.C. for, oh, forever . . .

The Pirates and the Giants have their work cut out for them before they square off in the National League wild card game Wednesday. Unless they think they can come up with even half the hair-raiser the American League game was Tuesday night, that is.

Frankly, Bernard Malamud and Douglas Wallop themselves couldn’t have written Tuesday’s script. Kansas City, which hasn’t seen the Royals anywhere near the postseason since the Reagan Administration, wouldn’t have bought it prior to Tuesday night.

The Beltway clinches, and dreams awhile . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones got a few Camden Yards fans a little pie-eyed—cream pied, that is. Bryce Harper plopped a personalised Washington, D.C. Fire Department helmet on his head and took selfies with teammates. Neither man had to be told otherwise that a possible Beltway World Series loomed ahead, depending upon how the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals handle themselves when the postseason launches.

We told you not to hand the A’s the World Series just yet . . .

Aybar, Otero, and Moss, seconds before the obstruction that may or may not have begun packaging Oakland's fate-to-be . . .

Aybar, Otero, and Moss, seconds before the obstruction that may or may not have begun packaging Oakland’s fate-to-be . . .

When the Oakland Athletics dealt for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, there were those ready to hand the World Series rings to them on a platinum platter. And there were those others, myself included, who cautioned not to do it just yet. Not that it stopped them, especially after the A’s landed Jon Lester out of Boston.

Let’s Not Put the A’s into the Series Just Yet, Folks . . .

Samardzija to the A's, who may or may not have traded for the World Series . . .

Samardzija to the A’s, who may or may not have traded for the World Series . . .

Eons ago, an anonymous Brooklyn Dodgers executive crowed when the club dealt for Chicago Cubs outfielder Andy Pafko, in June 1951, “Gentlemen, we have just traded for the pennant.” Pafko would provide the Dodgers some much-needed additional pop with 35 runs batted in and eighteen home runs in 84 games, in a season in which he was 3.2 wins above a replacement-level player overall.

Braden, Bay, decent men putting paid to indecent career endings

No hugs meant more to Dallas Braden than Grandma's---especially on the day he was perfect.

No hugs meant more to Dallas Braden than Grandma’s—especially on the day he was perfect.

Let’s have no more than absolutely necessary about the Alex Rodriguez contretemps. For now, say only that he’s managed to provoke comparisons to the end of the McCarthy era while suing his own union, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, in a filing that includes a rather nasty dig at the late executive director Michael Weiner (Weiner “falsely declar[ed] Mr. Rodriguez’s guilt and stat[ed] he should accept a suspension and resolve the Grievance at issue,” the filing charges) who urged A-Rod to make a deal rather than fight a war he couldn’t win.