Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this second Friday in June.
Pending appeals, MLB has responded to Tuesday night’s fracas in Baltimore. Yordano Ventura who got a 7-game suspension last year got 9 games enforced inactivity for throwing at Manny Machado. Meantime, Machado’s machete won’t be seen for 4 games. The outcry has begun among the talking heads. Was it enough for Machado because he has a reputation for temper from the past. Was it enough for Ventura? To my way of thinking, Machado got a fair shake but Ventura needed at least a month’s time on the shelf. There isn’t much difference between 7 games and 9 if you’re a starting pitcher. Either way he misses two starts. A month on the shelf and he’s gone for either 4 or 5 starts depending how full the schedule is.
I don’t pretend to be a choirboy. I was twice suspended from the college radio station where I learned to be a broadcaster. The first time it was for 3 weeks. The next time, since I was a repeat offender it was for six months. I won’t go into why these things happened until my memoir comes out but the punishment stung. Particularly the six month penalty would have had me pacing my dorm room like a caged tiger if I hadn’t gotten injured and lost a full semester of college. By the time I came back I had only two months left to sweat out before I could talk into a microphone again. I can’t get into the head of a Yordano Ventura. I don’t know if he feels as I do about not being allowed to perform. In my opinion, if the team offers any kind of anger management counseling, he should avail himself of it. I took it for two years after a particularly nasty termination from a job, and I feel it was a positive experience in my life. If an entitled athlete is able to think as a normal person would, then anger management might be a way to go. Of course both suspensions are subject to appeal.
With apologies to fans who only_ enjoy major league baseball and commentary about it, this column and any which will be written between now and Tuesday will have as much to do with baseball’s future as its present. For starters the draft occurred last night. Also the NCAA Super Regionals begin today and run through Monday (or Tuesday if they encounter bad weather.) A number of draftees can’t go to work for their new employers until their team either loses a super regional or finishes its play in the College World Series in Omaha. That event will also be covered to some extent in this forum. 5 players from Louisville and 4 from University of Florida were picked yesterday. Both teams host super regionals this weekend. The two pitchers I mentioned here yesterday, A. J. Puk of Florida and Anthony Kay of UConn both went in round 1-Puk to Oakland, Kay to the Mets who drafted UConn’s L. J. Mazilli a couple of years ago. The Phillies surprised a lot of people by going for a high school kid with the first overall pick. Mickey Moniak is an outfielder from Los Angeles, but any high school pick, even a blue chipper won’t be major league ready for at least 3 years, if ever. Unlike college players, all Moniak has faced is kids who have_ to be there, not players who are driven to make it big. Especially if the team has been bad enough to get the first overall pick I’d take a college player every day. The Reds picked third baseman Nick Senzel from University of Tennessee. With Todd Frazier gone to the White Sox, they’re hoping and praying he can rise quickly. The Brewers used the fifth pick on outfielder Corey Ray, the first Louisville Cardinal chosen. Puk went sixth, and according to draft pundit Jim Callis his stock did fall after an unimpressive start Saturday against UConn in the regionals. An oddity is the Padres’ picking Cal Quantrill, (son of Paul Quantrill) 8th. He’s already had Tommy John surgery and barely pitched for Stanford the last 3 seasons. A lot of guys probably wonder, if his name were Cal Jones would he have been picked. The White Sox took catcher Zack Collins of Miami, who will be in a super regional. He crushed a giant home run in the last game of their regional against Long Beach State. The Red Sox took a kid from Jersey 12th, which I can’t ignore since my base is about an hour from where he played ball. His name is Jason Groome, and he played at Barnegat High School. It’s just his hard luck the Red Sox drafted before the Yankees or Mets. He’s a lefty pitcher, so even if_ he makes it he’ll see righthanded hitters taking aim at the Green Monster, which is enough to give any lefty a good case of the collywobbles. The Mets took Justin Dunn of Boston College. If he doesn’t pitch game 1 today against Miami in the super regional I’m a monkey’s uncle. In a 2 out of 3 series the best has to go first and he’s the best Boston College has in a David-and-Goliath contest with Miami. The White sox got pitcher Zack Burdi of Louisville who can be seen in a super regional this weekend. His big brother Nick is a Twins’ minor leaguer with an injured arm. The 29th pick went to the Nationals and was Dane Dunning, from the Florida Gators bull pen. The Dodgers got Louisville’s catcher Will Smith who can start dreaming of Bel-Air. The Cardinals chose righty pitcher Dakota Hudson of Mississippi State who will host Arizona in a super regional. In the second round, Oakland chose pitcher Logan Shore of the Florida Gators, who I admit I didn’t catch last weekend. The Padres chose his outfield teammate Buddy reed. I don’t know if he’ll hit with a wooden weapon but he can “flash the leather,” which is to say he’s a good fielder. The Yankees’ second choice was Louisville second baseman Nick Solak after I feel they wasted their first choice on a high schooler. The Mets took first baseman Peter Alonso from University of Florida only a year or two after taking first baseman Dominic Smith. smith might not want to look back, something might be gaining on him if Alonso can use the willow the way he uses a metal mallet. He nailed one into the Florida night against the Huskies of UConn and Anthony Kay last weekend. Outfielder Jake Fraley of LSU was the first Bayou Bengal taken, and he went to the 77th pick by the Rays. This is shocking–Lsu used to be known for producing high draft picks. Does this give Coastal Carolina more of a chance than I thought in their super regional with LSU in Death Valley? Further drafting will be done over the next two days and MLB will show it on its web site.
Now as promised, the full spread on the super regionals. Only my nephew’s impending bachelor party this weekend excites me more than this slate of contests. The earliest game is at 5 PM Eastern when Miami hosts Boston College. The Canes are 48-11 while the Eagles are 34-20. Not only is the record substandard, the amount of games is typical of a Northeastern school. Teams like this seldom last against the Miamis of this world. But with first-round pick Justin Dunn carrying the mail in game 1 there’s hope in Beantown. An hour later at 6 PM Eastern, Mississippi State hosts Arizona. I caught two of Arizona’s games, as their tournament encountered bad weather and they’re hard to bet against. At 8 Pm Eastern, Texas Tech hosts East Carolina in Lubbock. ECU comes from the American Athletic Conference as UConn does but I saw neither team during the regionals. Tech would be the favorite at 44-17 while ECU is 37-21. Lastly tonight, the eyes of Texas will be upon College Station where TCU are the visitors against Texas A&M. Both teams look awesome, with TCU at 45-15 and A&M at 48-14. Again, I caught neither of these teams last weekend. Unlike Al Michaels with his 7 TV sets in his den, I count myself lucky to have acquired a second computer just in time for the regionals.
As for the 4 super regionals that begin tomorrow, UC Santa Barbara’s Gauchos face Louisville at Noon. The visitors from the west are 4018 while the host Louisville are an amazing 50-12. At 3 PM South Carolina hosts Oklahoma State. The Gamecocks are 46-16 coming in while the visitors from Stillwater, Oklahoma are 39-20. Bad weather plagued the Gamecocks’ tournament so it ran until Tuesday instead of ending Sunday. At 8 PM, Florida State faces Florida. This is as good a battle in baseball as it is in football though my virtual dollar to a donut is on the Florida Gators. The visiting Seminoles are 50-20 and the Gators have built a 50-13 record. The latest series to start is Coastal Carolina at LSU at 9 PM tomorrow night in Baton Rouge. Coastal Carolina University or CCU hails from Myrtle Beach and used an amazing comeback win over North Carolina State to get to the super regionals. They’ve been here before, they just haven’t reached Omaha which LSU has done many times. They won the College Series a couple of decades ago on a Warren Morris walkoff grand slammer.
All series starting today continue tomorrow and Sunday if needed. All are 2 out of 3. all which begin tomorrow have game 2 on Sunday and game 3 Monday if needed. While intense heat is expected in most of the host cities I have not heard any projections of rain in the immediate forecast and the fans (not to mention ESPN) hope and pray for good weather. All games will be on one or another of the ESPN family of networks.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Rick Camp was born this day in 1953 and died in 2013. He was a 7th-round draft choice of the Braves in 1974. They were his only team in a career that ran from 1977-85. He is perhaps best known for a home run he hit on July 4-5, 1985. With his team behind in the 18th inning he tied the game with a shot over the fence at Atlanta Stadium. The Mets would win 16-13 in 19 innings. The 7:05 start, with extra innings and 3 rain delays ended at 3:55 AM, and no game has ended later than that.
Elias Sosa is 66 today. He’s also best known for a gigantic home run. His Sports Center moment was when he gave up Reggie Jackson’s third home run in game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Reggie hit the 3 on 3 pitches from 3 different hurlers, but his blast off Sosa was the longest, to dead center field. The Giants signed him at 18 in 1968 from his native Dominican Republic. Sosa reached the majors in late 1972 with the Giants and lasted until 1983. He was a true baseball vagabond playing for 8 teams in a dozen years, none for longer than 3 years.
Former Met and Oriole player and present Yankee broadcaster Ken Singleton is 49 today. He was the Mets’ first pick, number 3 overall in the 1967 draft. He had played his college ball for the Flying Dutchmen of Hofstra. The native New Yorker hit .282 and amassed more than 2,000 hits in a career that ran from 1970-84. After starting with the Mets and going to Montreal in the Rusty Staub trade, he played the bulk of his career with the Orioles. With them he was an All-Star 3 times and split 2 World Series-losing in 1979 to Pittsburgh and wiping out the Phillies in 5 games in 1983. He started broadcasting in Baltimore, then did Expos games and has been part of Yankees’ telecasts since 1997.
The very first former player to become a radio broadcaster, Jack Graney was born this day in 1886 in Ontario, Canada and died in 1978. He was a .250 hitter between 1908 and 1922 for Cleveland, who were the Naps when he joined them but later became the Indians. The old name referred to their player-manager Nap Lajoie. He was the first big league hitter to face pitcher Babe Ruth, and the first batter to step to the dish with a number. (It was on his sleeve, not his back as is the custom now.) With them he was a World Series winner in 1920. Under the rules then, he couldn’t broadcast the 1948 World Series by radio. Mel Allen of the Yankees and Jim Britt of Boston called the action and their network had the exclusive rights. While broadcasting had begun in 1921, the early play-by-play men were just that-broadcasters. No player tried his hand until Graney in 1932 working alongside Tom Manning. Graney kept his post at the mike until 1953. Manning was chosen instead of Graney to cover the World Series for NBC radio all through the 1930’s until Mutual grabbed the exclusive rights in 1939 and multiple World Series broadcasts were abolished until the 1980’s. Because NBC chose Manning, I don’t know of a single recording of Jack Graney at the mike that exists.