Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, June 14.
The game of the day featured the first-place Mariners-yes, they’re just a blink ahead of the defending champion Astros and the M’s won with a 2-run walk-off bomb from Mitch Haniger. Meanwhile, at the other end of baseball’s rainbow, the Tigers were informed their all-world star Miguel Cabrera is finished for the year with a ruptured biceps tendon. It went “Crunch” on Tuesday night prompting him to leave the field in pain.
Cabrera is 35 now and has dealt with injuries over the past 4 years. He still played superbly as late as 2016 but last year was nothing but misery. His back pain was as bad as his .249 batting average. The Venezuelan star has a .316 lifetime average, though he was hitting but .208 in the last few games before his tendon blew. He’s due for surgery today.
In the upcoming months, putting a shirt on will be an exercise in pain. He won’t be able to lift a beer with the arm where the rupture happened. Even opening a door will give him a jolt if he forgets and uses the wrong arm. I have at different times damaged both of my shoulders-I know what can happen if you are distracted by something else and try to use the damaged area. If he’s truly unlucky, his hand temporarily won’t respond to his brain’s orders and open a bottle of pain med. We don’t think of the flesh-and-blood side of things when we see the cold words on a list of injured baseball players or maimed and mangled football men.
With Cabrera on the books (and the Tigers on the hook) until 2024, the question is, can a man of 35 come back from such a bad injury and play on. He’s some 350 hits shy of 3,000 and has 465 home runs, though playing in gigantic Comerica Park won’t do much for his quest for 500. Still, 3,000 hits would surely punch his ticket for Cooperstown. The worst part of baseball contracts is that even if he never plays again he receives $154 million which is a marvelous incentive to do nothing.
On a much happier note, the game of the day was the contest between the Mariners and Angels in Seattle. Outfielder Mitch Haniger is a name you may want to remember around playoff time. They call him “The Shed” since he has so many baseball tools, and they were on display in full measure yesterday. With the score 6-6 In the visiting 9th Haniger’s outfield talent came to the fore. With a man out and a man on first, the Angels’ Martin Maldonado hit one that was tailing away from Haniger. He made a racing catch and fired the ball to the infield where Maldonado was hopelessly doubled off. That brought the Mariners to the dish. Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura singled to center, after which Haniger unloaded on Oliver Drake, taking his offering over the left-field fence. “Adios muchacho.” Game over.
As it happens, both Segura and Haniger came to the Mariners in the trade with the D-Backs where Taewon Walker and Ketel Marte went to the desert. Ryan Healy had hit a home run to the upper deck in the 8th inning to level the game at 6 to prepare the fans and the team for the “Win Along with Mitch” show in the 9th. This was the second episode-he had gotten a walk-off hit earlier this month. That was a 4-3 win over the Rays in 13 innings on June 1. As fate would have it, pitcher Ronas Elias won both that game and yesterday’s tilt for the Mariners.
In the minors it isn’t always about baseball. For decades now, minor league owners have spent their off-seasons concocting plans to make their games more “Events” and reached out to non-baseball fans in their communities. One of the most popular is now called “Bark at the Park” night. Back when I worked for team owner and promoter Mike Veeck, he was one of the earliest proponents of this promotion, calling it “Bring your Dog to the Park” night. Time brought about the newer and snappier name. Last night was one of those nights in Tulsa. The subject wasn’t the Drillers (AA Dodgers) or the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals) who won the game 8-6.
Half the crowd was on all fours-a sight normally reserved for Thirsty Thursday when beer goes for two dollars a bottle.
The dogs’ behavior was exemplary-until it wasn’t.
One of them (it only takes one) broke loose and headed for the field. A ball had gotten loose and whatever training he may have had went straight out the window for a few minutes. This was, by the way a German shepherd and unless expertly trained they can be moody. Of course he caused a sensation when he hit the field. Players are no more or less easily bored than the next group of guys. So they reined in the dog and waited for his owner. (Or did they?) In fact they tossed the ball around like it was an infield drill, trying to keep the dog on the field as long as they could so they could delay the game a bit. The dog finally flinched, dropping the ball at the second baseman’s feet and letting himself be watched over by the player until the dog’s owner could be found.0