We have a larger than usual number of baseball birthdays today. GianCarlo Stanton is 26. After a lost season due to injury last year, we need to see how good he can be going forward. The Marlins are praying, since they have him under contract for the next 12 years. yes, 12 years. A lot of guys and girls who haven’t met today will have children and split up before that contract is up. He can opt out at age 30, 4 years from now. His full name is Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. He played as Mike Stanton until 2012 when he told the media he wanted to be called GianCarlo.
Yasmani Grandal is 27. He was an All-star this year and catcher for the Dodgers in the NLDS against the Mets.
Edgardo Alfonso is 42. We broadcast his games with Binghamton in 1994 when they usually walloped our team, New Britain. He led his team in home runs and rbis-most of which he got off our pitching! He went on to be a key figure with the Mets’ 1999 NLCS team and 2000 World Series team. He was an All-Star in 2000, and today is a coach for the Mets’ Brooklyn Cyclones minor league team.
Jeff Blowser is 50. He was the second baseman for the great Braves teams of the 1990’s. His home town is Los Gatos, CA, which is known, if it’s known at all, for the plane crash in Los Gatos in 1948 that inspired Woody Guthrie’s song “Deportees.” Such diverse singers as Dolly Parton and Paddy Reilly have recorded that song.
Dwight Smith is 52. He was second in Rookie of the Year ballots in 1989 behind his teammate Jerome Walton. He was in the NLCS that year and the 1995 World Series. We saw him in 1997 with the St. Paul Saints, in the independent Northern League. He always had something funny to say, trying to keep the team loose. In one memorable game he batted against former Yankee Steve Howe. Listening to their confrontation, I forgot I was supposed to be the color commentator. I just sat there letting my broadcast partner describe the action. That team also made the playoffs, one of only two seasons I would broadcast postseason baseball. Besides a .275 career average, he sang the National Anthem both in the National League and the Northern League.
Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy is 63. He was born in Massachusetts, traded to the Red Sox in 1978, and has done their TV games since 1988.
Last but not least, Ed Kranepool is 71. Amazingly, he made his debut as a boy of 17, with the 1962 Mets. Younger readers will be amazed he played his whole career for that team until 1979. He was an All-Star in 1965, the year he began wearing number 7. He hit a home run in game 3 of the 1969 World Series, and drove in the Mets’ first two runs in game 5 of the 1973 NLCS. He also did a handful of TV commercials. As a boy of 9 I met him at a shopping mall in New Jersey. You should have seen the mob of kids gathered to meet him. Happy birthday one and all.
View from the Bottom
It doesn’t take long in the cruel world of baseball to go from a hero to a zero. In 2010 Allen Craig was a rookie with the Cardinals. He collected a World Series ring in 2011. In that series he put up 3 hits which drove in game-winning runs. He was an All-Star in 2013, in which year the Cards also made the World Series, losing to the Red Sox. He scored the winning run in one of those games on an obstruction call. He was traded to Boston at the trade deadline in 2014 with Joe Kelly for John Lackey. Now, despite his career .276 average, the Red Sox, who have been in last place for the last two seasons took him off their 40-man roster.
Unless he can find a way to open some eyes, he could be finished at 31, something that can only happen in sports.