There are more than two feet of snow anywhere from New York to Washington. There could be more in Virginia, but there haven’t been any recent dispatches from there. So, what does my mind turn to in the face of all this snow and ice? No, you cretin-not Brady vs. Manning and whether anybody’s balls will be deflated before, during or after the game. My mind turns to baseball. I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) report for Weather Channel on blizard conditions as Mike Trout did. Yes, he plays for the Angels and still lives in Jersey, and which one of us needs professional help? There were no signings, presumably since none of the sports agents could get their Beamers out of the snow.
Yesterday’s readers of this column may have noticed no birthdays. They also were lost in the blizard somewhere between here and wherever this gets published. So, here they are before we look at today’s birthdays.
For starters, two players who were traded for each other had birthdays yesterday. Addison Russell of the Cubs turned 22, Jeff Samardzija of the Giants turned 31. Samardzija played for Notre Dame before going pro. Oakland took Russell right out of high school to keep him from going to Auburn. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs with others so Oakland would get Samarzija and Jason Hamell. With their help Oakland didn’t get past the wild card game of 2014, and Samarzdija went to the White Sox, and from there to the Giants. Samardzija had been an All-Star with the Cubs in 2014, but the trade happened before the All-Star game could be played, so he was ineligible. Something’s wrong about that. There’s also something wrong with a 47-61 pitcher with a 4+ ERA who walks almost as many men as he strikes out getting a contract for $90 million over the next 5 years. That’s what the Giants gave Samardzija not two months ago.
Mark Wohlers turned 46 yesterday. You won’t remember he is from Jack Buck’s home town of Holyoke, Massachusetts. You may or may not remember he was a great reliever with the Braves. But you’re likely to remember Jim Leyritz’s home run clearing the fence in Atlanta to tie game 4 of the 1996 World Series. You can’t hang a fastball, and Leyritz wasn’t in the same zip code as Wohlers’ heater. Nobody will ever know why Wohlers uncorked the hanging slider that Leyritz crushed, but Yankee fans will be eternally grateful.
Frank Sullivan was born yesterday in 1930 and died just 5 days ago, Jan. 19, 2016. He was an All-Star both in 1955 and 1956. His final record was 97-100 which is amazing considering who he played for. He pitched for a succession of awful Red Sox teams between 1953-60, and a 1961 Phillies team that set a standard for futility only the 1962 Mets could better. Only 3 All-Star games have ended on walkoff home runs, and Frank Sullivan gave up the second one. Ted Williams had hit the first, in 1941. Stan Musial launched a Sullivan pitch into the Milwaukee night to end the 1955 MidSummer Classic when it still was a classic. And the last was hit in 1964 by Johnny Callison of the Phillies when Shea Stadium was brand new.
Now for today’s birthdays, patient reader. Your Sunday paper maybe didn’t come because of the snow, so I hope you take a minute to enjoy this column. It won’t even get ink on your fingers.
First, Franklin Morales is 30. He’s a lefty reliever who pitched in the Royals’ bull pen during the last World Series. Before that, he’d been with the Rockies and Red Sox. His 2007 Rockies team lost the World Series in 4 to Boston. He was with Boston when they won the 2013 World Series. He is now available, and doubtless some team needing a lefty will grab him before opening day.
Scott Kazmir is 32. Recently I wrote a piece in this forum about his free agent signing with the Dodgers. The point then was, a few years ago his signing would have called for a banner headline. The Dodgers need the Kazmir of 2006, 2008 and 2014 who was an All-Star, not the Kazmir of 2012 who didn’t throw a pitch in organized ball.
Rob Dibble is 52. He was one of the 3 Nasty Boys, which I mentioned on the occasion of Norm Charlton’s birthday. He was an All-Star twice and was a member of the Reds’ World Series championship team of 1990. His shelf life was short-1988 to 1995. He has since been a TV analyst with ESPN, FOX and XM. He did color commentary for Nationals games for a year and a half until he made an unkind remark about their pitcher Stephen Strasberg. Most recently he’s been heard on radio in Connecticut.0