MLB Back in Havana; Who to Watch in a Generational Game

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball today.  I hope to catch the game from Cuba between the Tampa Bay rays and the Cuban national team.  The Orioles were the last American team to go to Cuba where they won a 4-2 11-inning contest over the Cuban nationals in 1999.  That game was broadcast by the Orioles radio network and  on the internet where baseball broadcasting was still in a somewhat primitive state.  The Rays’ network will carry the game in both English and Spanish, and gameday audio subscribers worldwide will be able to hear it.

The Cuban team  did not cover themselves with glory in the recent Caribbean World Series in the Dominican Republic. At that time Outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia was one of the few a fan would hope to see defect and come here. His big brother Adonis is already in America  with the Braves. He hit .291 with 10 home runs this winter. If Yunier Cano pitches he should open eyes. With his winter league team he was 6-1 with a 0.29 ERA. From the bull pen you could see Livan Moinelo, a 19-year-old closer. If the team had won a few in the World Series we might have seen him there. Last but not least is a 22-year-old first baseman and outfielder Guillermo Aviles who hit .340 with a dozen doubles for his team.  The best of all the Cuban league teams will combine to face the Rays.          This isn’t a game to be missed as I see it.
Today’s first baseball birthday could go down as one of the larger busts in recent years, barring a major resurgence soon.  Ike Davis is 29 today.  Only a few years ago he and Lucas Duda were duking it out to be the Mets’ first baseman.  For a while it looked like Davis was the obvious choice.  But the Mets went with Duda and Davis hasn’t been close to the player he was then. The Rangers need him to do more this year than he has with Oakland and Pittsburgh the last two seasons.
Dexter Fowler is 30.  A few weeks ago he was the subject of considerable talk as one of the last worthwhile free agents on the market.  Folks around the Inner Harbor rejoiced thinking he would become an Oriole before he returned to his old team, the Cubs.
Mike Morse is 34 today. He was a member of the Giants’ 2014 World Series championship team. He’s been well-traveled since the White Sox drafted him.  He reached the show with the Mariners and spent considerable time with the Nationals including their 2012 playoff run.
Juan Uribe is 37 today.  He was another worthwhile free agent who was almost left out in the cold until the Indians signed him.  He was a rare 2015 Met with past World series experience, having been part of the 2005 White Sox and 2010 Giants championship teams. He began 2015 with the Dodgers, then joined the Braves in late May and the Mets just before the trading deadline in July.  His mail may still be arriving in Los Angeles!

Last of all, Marv Owen was born today in 1906 and passed away in 1991. He ought to be remembered for a .275 batting average between 1931 and 1940. He should be remembered as the third baseman on the 1934 and 1935 World Series Tigers.  The 1935 team won the World Series over the Cubs in 6 games.  But if remembered at all, the name of Marv Owen is connected with Joe Medwick of the Cardinals who slid hard into him at third base.

The fans at what was then called Navin Field (later Briggs and Tiger Stadium,) were so incensed they repeatedly pelted Medwick with bottles, fruit and junk of all varieties until baseball’s commissioner Judge Landis ordered Medwick ejected for his own protection. The radio broadcast of the event, with Tom Manning describing it for NBC is one of radio’s earliest memorable moments.  The fury of the crowd and Manning’s shrill voice trying to penetrate the static make for a truly surreal  description of an event that might have been forgotten otherwise.


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