Sweeping the Snakes, the Dodgers get a Hall of Famer’s endorsement

The Dodgers sweep the Diamondbacks. Now they wait for their NLCS opponent . . .

The Dodgers sweep the Diamondbacks. Now they wait for their NLCS opponent . . .

Psychologically speaking, when you get Sandy Koufax’s endorsement for a trip to the World Series it’s gilt-edged insurance. Speaking in baseball, alas, the Dodgers’ more than impressive sweep of the Diamondbacks out of their National League division series was just step one.

The Dodgers await the net results of the Nationals-Cubs division series. Which of them proves the Dodgers’ League Championship Series opponent didn’t exactly seem to faze Koufax as he stood outside the Chase Field visitors’ clubhouse while the Dodgers partied heartily enough after Monday’s 3-1 win.

The Dodgers think, “Yu Wonderful Yu”

Darvish and Roberts after Darvish's first night's work as a Dodger finished.

Darvish and Roberts after Darvish’s first night’s work as a Dodger finished.

Perhaps as an unintended omen, Sandy Koufax took a walk through the Dodgers’ clubhouse at Citi Field Friday night, before the Dodgers sent their new toy, Yu Darvish, out to face the Mets. But maybe the Dodgers didn’t need a Hall of Fame omen for Darvish to manhandle what’s left of this year’s Mets.

About the only thing anyone disagreed upon after Darvish shut the Mets out with seven scoreless en route a 6-0 win was whether or not Darvish finished his night’s work by wrapping Dodger manager Dave Roberts in a big bear hug.

Koufax, Drysdale, Roberts, and Miller: The ’66 shots that changed baseball

Koufax (left) and Drysdale, shown in game triumph, yet to triumph in a groundbreaking 1966 contract holdout.

Koufax (left) and Drysdale, shown in game triumph, yet to triumph in a groundbreaking 1966 contract holdout.

Fifty years ago this spring, three Hall of Fame pitchers planted the seeds that would change baseball’s harvest irrevocably, and for the better. One seed kind of opened the door for the other, if indirectly, but once baseball’s field was tilled for the other (kicking and screaming, of course) the game’s and perhaps the country’s worst fears proved largely unfounded.

Cooperstown has a date with an Angell

Roger Angell, baseball's prose poet---who doesn't like that term.

Roger Angell, baseball’s prose poet—who doesn’t like that term.

Roger Angell at 93 still reports to The New Yorker every day to read fiction for the magazine and, here and there, write yet another one of his symphonic essays from the diamonds and the stands. Next summer, he’s going to make a trip to Cooperstown as an honoured guest.

Quiet anniversary: The sober end of the Original Mets

Joe Pignatano, warming up at Wrigley Field, where . . .

At a Baseball Assistance Team dinner over a decade ago, Joe Pignatano—once a reserve major league catcher whose career began with the Brooklyn Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets; later a respected Mets bullpen coach—eased himself into a stool behind a table. His old Brooklyn Dodgers teammate, Sandy Koufax, was stationed behind the same table, signing assorted memorabilia and bric-a-brac.

“Hey,” a voice hollered, “how come he gets to sit there?”¬†Koufax flashed a grin and replied, “Roomie seat.”

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.

Brandon McCarthy, Scored By a Liner

Especially for a pitcher, keeping your head in the game is not supposed to mean to the point where your head nearly gets taken off.

Oakland Athletics righthander Brandon McCarthy throws Los Angeles Angels hitter Erick Aybar a 91 mph cutter practically down the chute in the top of the fourth Wednesday night. Aybar hits it on the proverbial screws. The ball slams into the right side of McCarthy’s head like a bullet, knocking the righthander down on the mound.

Herb Score and Gil McDougald, call your offices?

Yes, children—minus Strasburg, this Nats rotation DOES have good postseason chances

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.

Zimmermann—Without the Stras, he won’t be leading a rotation of pushovers . . .

Post-Perfecto Studs and Duds

Humber.

While glancing around looking for the top WAR men on major league teams, I noticed Philip Humber through this writing has a -0.5 WAR. (He was due to return Tuesday night, after missing a month with an elbow strain.) Obviously, his perfect game in April didn’t exactly do him many favours; in fact, he may be on track to produce the weakest post-perfecto season’s performance among any pitcher who’s thrown a perfect game.

"Yeah, Baby! Believe It!"

As I suspect was the case for numerous Met fans—since the day they were born or otherwise—it took me over a week to process that what seemed so long impossible finally happened. It took a mere 8,119 games before a Met threw a no-hitter. And it couldn’t have been thrown by a nicer guy except, maybe, for Tom Seaver. Who just so happens to have lost one of the seemingly infinite Met no-hit bids when Jimmy Qualls, bearing no other reason for fame, broke up his bid in 1969.