Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, August 29.
Before I talk about any major league goings-on, I’ll talk about the team who has returned pride to the Binghamton, New York area. In days long forgotten, the Yankees had a minor league team there called the Binghamton Triplets. The Mets have had their AA team there for a good many years with mixed results. When I worked for New Britain and we played Binghamton, the Mets regularly gave us a walloping. The only good things to do there were to drink Saranac beer and eat chicken spiedies (pronounced Speedys,) which are cubes of chicken served either on a stick or a sandwich. The city has a Spiedie festival every August, and has done since 1983. But this August the city can be proud of the Maine-Endwell Little League team which is from their area and is the World Champion little league team this year. They beat South Korea 2-1 in a tight battle in Williamsport, PA. to win the title. They were the last ones standing out of 16 contenders that began the series back on August 18. The team hadn’t lost a game all summer, and had beaten Goodlettsville, Tennessee Saturday to win the American title. On Sunday There was no score until the home 4th inning when 3 singles and a wild pitch by Junho Jeong added up to 2 runs. Ryan Harlost started for the New Yorkers and only gave up a solo home run In the 5th to Yoomin Lee, a pinch-hitter for the Korean side. While American teams had won 34 of the 70 Little League World Series played since 1947, they hadn’t won in 5 years. In 2011 Huntington Beach, California took the prize. A New York team hadn’t done it since LBJ was president and phones still had dials, in 1964. At that time it was Staten Island winning the laurels.
In MLB action tonight, the Jays and Orioles bring together two of the top teams in the East. The Jays go with Marco Estrada who has had a couple of rough outings in a row. The O’s salvaged one game in their most recent series after being bludgeoned twice by the Yankees and most particularly Gary Sanchez. The Marlins send Jose Fernandez to the hill in New York. He has struck out 213 men in 148.2 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He faces Rafael Montero, yet another AAA call-up as the Mets try to find any warm body who can pitch for them and not get hurt physically or destroyed by the other team’s bats. Montero, age 25 has struggled this season in the light air of the PCL where the Mets’ AAA team is. He’s replacing Jacob DeGrom after his latest poor outing. In what little MLB experience Montero has, he’s 1-4 with a 4.45 ERA. He didn’t pitch a single inning at any level after April 28, 2015 with rotator cuff tendinitis. In Boston, the Rays’ Matt Andriese who celebrated his birthday this weekend faces Rick Porcello who’s been having the year of his life for the Bostons. Yes, there was once a song called “Here Come the Bostons,” about the Red Sox. I heard it played during spring training one March afternoon. The Pirates are trying with all their might to get into the wild card race and they’re starting a series with the Cubs which could say a lot about whether the Buckos stay in contention. Of all times for the Cole Train to be derailed. Gerrit Cole can’t pitch so Steven Brault has been called from AAA to take place of the Cole Train, which is turning into the Old 97 this year. Brault would have a hard enough time with any big league foe but he’s facing Jake Arrieta in a real-life David and Goliath matchup. Jake is 3-1 against the Cubs this year alone. This should be an interesting night in Kansas City. The Yankees send out Michael Pineda who has served up more meatballs than the Olive Garden. His opponent is Dillon Gee, whom the Mets were only too happy to unload.
Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ starter known as Thor is 24 today. He’s built a 21-14 record and 2.89 ERA since his first Mets’ game last year. At six-foot-five or six-six, he’s what the song meant about a long tall Texan, and he hails from Mansfield, just outside of Fort Worth. He was a first-round choice in 2010 by the Blue Jays but never threw a pitch north of the border. His minor league teammates included Justin Nicolino (now with the Marlins,) and Aaron Sanchez who was just recently demoted by Toronto to Buffalo. Thor and Travis D’Arnaud along with John Buck were traded to the Mets in late December, 2012 for Cy Young winner R. A. Dickey who still pitches for the Jays. Last year, Thor pitched in game 2 of the NLDS and lost to the Dodgers, then bested Jake Arrieta in game 2 of the NLCS. He was the one ray of light in the World Series, winning game 3. He should have been an All-Star this season but he and Yoenis Cespedes both bowed out claiming injuries.
The former Astros’ pitcher Roy Oswalt is 39 today. When baseball was still an Olympic sport, he was on the gold medal winning US team at Sydney in 2000. In MLB, He collected a 163-102 record between 2001 and 2013. The bulk of that time, until 2010 was spent in Houston. After that he had brief stints with the Phillies, Rangers and Rockies. He was an All-Star 3 times between 2005-2007. In 2005 he was the NLCS MVP as the Astros went to their only World Series. They were swept by the White Sox who were playing in their first World Series since 1959.
Billy Cox, the third baseman on the “Boys of Summer” Brooklyn Dodgers was born this day in 1919 and died in March of 1978. The Dodgers got him to start the 1948 season from the Pirates, for whom he had broken in during 1941 and returned after the war. He was a year too late for the classic 1947 World Series and left before Brooklyn won the 1955 Series. With Pittsburgh he had been a shortstop. He went to Brooklyn with stalwart pitcher Preacher Roe and Gene Mauch who would be better known as a manager. Cox played in the World Series in 1949, 1952 and 1953-his best effort. He was at third base when the Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World to keep the Dodgers out of the 1951 Series.
Joe Schultz, best known to fans as manager of the 1969 Seattle Pilots was born this day in 1918 and died in early January, 1996. In his diary of the 1969 Pilots’ season published as “Ball Four,” pitcher Jim Bouton portrayed his manager as a likable goof, saying silly things (mostly unprintable) to keep the clubhouse loose. One of his favorite expressions, (unprintable) is something I say to this day when the computer won’t work in spite of my best efforts to make it respond. I had 0 clue that Schultz had been a player but he was, with the Pirates and Browns. His dad had also been a player, Joe “Germany” Schultz. Schultz JR. took to coaching starting in 1949 with the Browns. He then spent 13 seasons as a minor league manager and 6 as a Cardinals’ coach before the Pilots’ job was created. Besides managing the Pilots, Schultz managed the 1973 Tigers. Bouton’s portrayal of Schultz, while I saw it as hysterically funny, came off as unflattering to most in baseball, and apparently to Schultz himself. He never said a word to Bouton after the book was published in 1970.
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