Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball today. Two weeks from today, it’s all real. The first pitch will be thrown in Pittsburgh and off we’ll go with another season of baseball. The Pirates haven’t had a good spring up to now. Until Friday their hitting was the main issue. It was clear they were sorely missing Pedro Alvarez (gone to free agency,) and Neil Walker who they traded to the Mets. Then Friday, they got some offense going. They built a 5-0 lead on the Phillies through 3 innings. Then they gave up 9 runs in the 4th and 6 in the 5th, effectively sinking them for the day. The 7 runs they scored later to make the final 15-12 were too little, too late.
Yesterday must have been a rare rotten day in Florida. Five Grapefruit League games were cancelled outright, and one only went 5 innings. The Yanks beat the Braves 3-2 in the only game that went the distance in Florida. Any readers living in that area are welcome to comment on yesterday’s weather situation.
I was unable to write in this forum for most of this week owing to technical difficulties with my computer. I kept up by writing short pieces in my Facebook group, also named Baseball As I See It. All may join and are encouraged to do so to be more interactive. I wrote about two subjects during the week that warrant mentioning here. The first was the sudden retirement of the White Sox Adam LaRoche. Considering he hit .207 this season, nobody could blame him calling it a career. Then the back story came out. It wasn’t bad enough he hit .207, but his son Drake, age 14 hung around the clubhouse during last season and in this spring training.
Team executives told LaRoche to at the very least limit his son’s access to the team while they try to do their jobs. He refused and gave up baseball, leaving 13 million dollars behind.
I’m with the team on this one. The stadium is the work place for the players, and unauthorized personnel of any age shouldn’t be allowed. Children in particular can become at best a distraction and at worst a nuisance to somebody trying to earn his daily bread. No normal work place is supposed to allow children to prowl around, although it happened when I worked for Alamo Rentacar when I worked in their national call center. I would protest vehemently when I heard some child near my work station and to his credit my boss understood and acted on my complaint.
Then comes part 2 of the back story. The White Sox were reportedly close to mutiny on Wednesday, the day LaRoche announced his retirement. They reportedly threatened to boycot their game, as the Tigers did in 1912 over the suspension of Ty Cobb. In this case the White Sox played. During the talk of mutiny, ace pitcher Chris Sale was heard screaming at team president Ken Williams. Again, behavior of this sort shouldn’t be tolerated, and isn’t in a normal work place. At Alamo, and later at Blue Cross I wouldn’t have even known who the high executives were, and if I did find out, yelling at them would have sent me to the unemployment lines in record time. Lastly, did LaRoche ever consider keeping his son in school, rather than in the clubhouse or on the field? The things he could learn from the players would get him suspended or expelled from school. The kid belongs studying algebra, and awkwardly trying to ask a girl to the sophomore dance rather than conceivably writing a chemistry report about all the steroids he saw in the players’ lockers. Athletes are crude men at best, and their language and rough humor doesn’t belong in a child’s vocabulary.
Another subject earlier this week that culminated yesterday was the Ruben Tejada story. He was last seen being carried off the field in game 2 of the NLDS, a victim of a vicious slide by Chase Utley. Tejada’s leg was broken, how badly nobody knew. This past Wednesday he was put on waivers, then released when nobody claimed him at the waiver price. Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals whose shortstop Jhonny Peralta is out for 3 months signed Tejada. The Mets knew Peralta was hurt. It was all over the web. How could they not get something-anything, even a bucket of curve balls for what is presumably still a useful infielder. Unless the Mets know something about Tejada’s injury that hasn’t gotten out, they have given arguably the best team in baseball a player they badly needed and charged them nothing. Considering their own shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt, I see this move as inexcusable. With Cabrera on the shelf Wilmer Flores is the Mets’ shortstop. Considering the fragility of third baseman David Wright, the Mets have been trying Flores at third. If Wright goes down before Cabrera is ready to play, you have Flores at third and just who at shortstop? Matt Reynolds? Dilson Herrera (a natural second baseman?) The Mets feel they have several shortstops who are two or 3 years away, but they won’t be available now while the window of opportunity is still open for the Mets to bag their third World Series win. The Mets should have tried to get a backup first baseman in exchange for Tejada. As of now nobody in particular is ready to spell Lucas Duda. If Travis D’Arnaud tried it to lessen his risk of injury, the Mets are back to Kevin Plawecki or Johnny Monell behind the plate. Both of them are liabilities, particularly as hitters.
Are you disinterested by March Madness, or is your bracket shot to hell and you’d rather listen to baseball? Here’s your Sunday spring training listing. TV games don’t count, because as a blind fan it’s radio all the way for me. The Atlanta network will carry the Braves-Tigers game at 1 PM. Both networks will have the Astros-Phillies game in Clearwater. Same goes for the Marlins game against the Cardinals, Twins-Yankees, Rays-Orioles, Nats-Tigers, Pirates-Jays, and Mets-Red Sox. As you see, more weekend games are broadcast by both teams’ networks than midweek games. In Arizona, starting around 4 PM, both teams’ networks will have the D-Backs and Reds, the White Sox-A’s, the Royals-Cubs, the Angels-Rangers, the Padres-Dodgers, the Indians-Mariners, and the Giants-Rockies games.
Manny Alexander is our first baseball birthday, and today he is 45. He never played long in any of the 6 major league cities where he played between 1992 and 2006. The Orioles signed him at 16 in 1988, and had him in the show at 21. He was with the Orioles again in 1993, 1995 and 1996. He pitched part of an inning on April 19, 1996. It was an inning in which the Orioles gave up 16 runs to the Texas Rangers. He pitched 2/3 of an inning giving 4 walks, a scoring fly ball and a grand slam. 3 men were on when he came in, so only 5 of the 8 runs scored were on his record. In Sports Illustrated, and later in his book “Hate Mail from Cheerleaders,” Rick Reilly told an absolutely hysterical tale on Alexander. It seems he loaned his Mercedes to the team bat boy Carlos Cowart for the prom. One can only guess Cowart was swinging for the fences big time, but it wasn’t his date who struck him out. Seems he got stopped by the cops for not having a license, plus previous charges. They looked in the glove box and, instead of a schoolboy’s usual stuff they found a bottle of steroids! Major OOPS! Bet Cowart never saw that girl again. After 2000, Alexander spent 3 years in the minors and briefly played for the Rangers in 2004. His MLB swansong was with the Padres. He hung on in the minors until 2009, following two seasons playing in Italy. One of those was in Rimini, a little town on the Adriatic coast known by boxing fans as the site of one of the most exciting and bloodiest brawls of recent times. That was the second fight between Alexis Arguello and Alfredo Escalera in 1979.
Former catcher and manager Pat Corrales is 75 today. His longest stretch as a player was with the Reds from 1968-72. While he appeared in the 1970 World Series, he was traded before the Reds’ run of greatness began in 1972. He played his last with the Padres. He managed the Rangers, Phillies and Indians. His stay in Cleveland was the longest, from 1983-87. He is the only manager to be sent packing while his team was in first place. Talk about high expectations. The 1983 Phillies were in first, but only had a 43-42 record when Corrales was told to go peddle his papers. This sent him to Cleveland. After managing he has been a bench coach among other positions held in baseball.