Yesterday morning I thought I had a nice easy column to write for today. The Dodgers, who already have one combustible Cuban character in Yasiel Puig had dealt for another defector Aroldis Chapman, he of the 105 MPH pitch which is almost as fast as Puig drives. The Reds were going to get two prospects, which is like giving something special you already own in exchange for two lottery tickets. They may be better than what you had or they may be utterly worthless. That’s the column I planned to write. Then late last night the word came down that the trade was on hold. Chapman, who was that close to leaving one of the league’s worst teams in Cincinnati to go to one of its best in La La land suddenly was pulled up short by an incident catching up with him. So, until it is resolved the question will be “Number 54, Where Are You?” Older fans can sing that line to the melody of the old TV show “Car 54 Where Are You.” Younger fans, see google and youtube.
Allegedly, in October Chapman and his girl friend got into a lovers’ spat which escalated into a category 5 argument and things got very ugly indeed. If the reports are true, he choked her, pushed her against a wall and fired 8 gunshots into the air. None of them struck the girl or we would have heard about this roughly five nanoseconds after it happened.
Even the way it has been laid out, I for one am amazed it was held back from October to now, when he was so close to a reprieve from Cincinnati and a ticket to the idyllic Land of Fruits and Nuts, the land described so well by Jonathan Kellerman and Joseph Wambaugh.
He and Puig would be two rowdies dealing with a substitute teacher in untested manager Dave Roberts, instead of a no-nonsense sort like Don Mattingly was. Roberts would be a complete nonentity if it weren’t for one stolen base in the 9th inning one game in the 2004 ALCS, a series I don’t even want to think about. He was a rental for Boston that year. However, in fairness to Roberts I don’t know if Mugsy McGraw or Tommy Lasorda could handle these two if in fact they meet on the 2016 Dodgers. And the rookie will have more than that to make him wonder if he should have taken this gig. The Dodgers’ rotation is a shambles now without Zack Greinke. If Chapman is able to join the team, the Dodgers already have a closer-Kenley Jansen. Two closers on one team seldom ends well. We’ve seen this movie in Washington, and it wasn’t pretty. Jonathan Papelbon joined the team, displacing Drew Storen and putting his nose out of joint. Jansen has already said he won’t be a happy man if Chapman comes to town. Their numbers of saves and strikeouts are comparable. They both began playing in the same year, 2010. Jansen is a year older. So, again assuming Chapman arrives at all, how does Roberts deal with it? Will Jansen be upset that the Dodgers even considered_ getting another closer? Just another soap opera on just another ordinary Monday in LA.
As for today’s birthdays, the AL MVP is 30 today. Joshua Adam Donaldson of Pensacola is 30 today. He’s been an All-Star twice and this season got the most All-Star votes ever. He was originally a Cubs draftee in 2007, and went to Oakland a year later with 3 others for Rich Hardin and Chad Gaudin, a pitcher I broadcast when he pitched at Charleston. He went to the Blue jays at the end of 2014 and had the year of his life. Only he and George Bell have won the league MVP as Blue Jays.
Michael Cole Mussina is 47 today. He was the Orioles’ first-round pick, #20 overall from Stanford in the 1990 draft and was in the bigs by 1991. Before calling it a career he had won 11 or more games 17 years in a row, an American League record and been an All-Star 5 times. After a decade with the Orioles, he wore pinstripes for 8 years and famously relieved Roger Clemens in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and silenced Boston’s offense, giving the Yankees a chance to win which they did. Now he coaches high school basketball in Montoursville, PA, his home town.
And from the department of great names comes pitcher Jake Hehl, who pitched one onely inning in 1918 for the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers.) Temporarily they were called the Robins when Wilbert Robinson was manager. That’s when Jake Hehl pitched for them. I know it isn’t spelled like the place the preacher tells us we’re going to, but what a great name. If he’d kept pitching every outing the manager could say “Give ’em Hehl,” and Jake would even if he pitched like crud. Can you imagine being Mrs. Hehl, having a child and spending her life raising Hehl? The names can sometimes be the most amusing part of Baseball As I See It.