Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, July 25.
Baltimore was the scene of a walk-off finish yesterday as Nolan Reimold hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run to give the Birds a 5-3 win and a weekend sweep of the Indians. Pedro Alvarez was on board after reaching base following a third strike that got away from the Indians’ receiver. With the score 3-2 Orioles in the 8th Mike Napoli singled home the tying run setting up the rally in the 9th.
I don’t normally traffic in trade rumors, but White Sox starter Chris Sale lowered his value to bargain basement rates by getting himself a five-game suspension for a childish meltdown. Officially it was called “Violating team rules, insubordination and destroying team equipment.” It’s the sort of thing that probably doesn’t happen if a child gets a good smacking for a deed done wrong, instead of being entitled from tothood the way today’s players are. The way I understand this little stunt, Sale didn’t want to wear throwback jerseys in his game on Saturday, so rather than wear one anyhow like an adult he cut up the jerseys which were meant to be either given away or auctioned off following the game. Like others before him, Sale whose record is 14-3 has a zillion dollar arm and a ten-cent brain.
Two of the true greats of the game received the highest tangible reward their sport can offer. Ken Griffey JR. and Mike Piazza were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Since its official opening in June of 1939 it has been the highest height a player can reach. It’s amazing Piazza, drafted in the 62nd round made the bigs, much less made the Hall of Fame. He was drafted to begin with because his godfather was Tommy Lasorda, who once said to a teenager who was meeting him “I like you, and you know why? Because you’re Italian!” You have to love the guy. In the 1970’s it was said the only way to beat the Dodgers was to stop them hugging one another, a gesture begun when Lasorda took over from Walt “Smokey” Alston. Ken Griffey was another story. He was one of the rare ones who eclipsed all the notices he ever got. From day 1 he was expected to be great, and he was Cooperstown Great, and there is nothing greater in the game. Both gave speeches to a cheering throng in the tiny village of Cooperstown. A relative and sometime contributor to this column asked me this morning why the Hall doesn’t have its inductions on a day when there are no games. That’s a question without an answer for today, but it can be put to a friend in Cooperstown and may or may not be addressed in this forum in the future. I know minor-league ball parks showed the induction on their big screens and started their own games later than usual in deference to the ceremony.
All the games to be played are under the lights tonight. One good pitching duel is the Tigers’ Justin Verlander against the Red Sox’ Drew Pomeranz. This one is in question as rain is pounding the east coast as I write this. The Cardinals throw their best, Carlos Martinez at the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard at Citi Field. The D-backs will have Braden Shipley make his MLB debut against a soft opponent in the Brewers’ and pitcher Chase Anderson. Shipley is a youth of 24 who’s done well in the AAA Pacific Coast League where few pitchers cover themselves with glory. The Cubs go across town to face their south side rivals. The visitors bring Jake Arrieta to the hill. Don’t the Sox wish they had Chris Sale now. He’s such a cutup it finally got him a suspension.
A notable closer of the past is 45 today. Billy Wagner of Tannersville, Virginia is the man. The Astros took him in round 1, 12th in the country in 1993. I was surprised to see he had 422 saves in a career that ran from 1995 to 2010. He was an All-Star 7 times including his final year of 2010. His longest run was with the Astros from 1995-2003, then he was with the Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves. As of now he’s a high school baseball coach in his native state, Virginia.0