Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, Sept. 9.
There are some days when even a full schedule of MLB games doesn’t produce one the fans will remember. Last night, while there was a light schedule the Yankees and Rays gave the fans a show in the Bronx. The climax was Tyler Austin’s home run for a 5-4 walk-off win. Meantime, while the Mets didn’t play they are now half a game ahead of the Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the NL as the Cardinals lost their game.
As last night’s game in the Bronx began, 5 of the Yankees’ position players were 26 or younger. Gary Sanchez is 23, Austin the unlikely hero of the game is 25. This isn’t the Yankees of the last few years. The win makes the Yanks 22-13 since the trade deadline and the trades I’ve beaten to death in this forum. Their most recent win was the kind of home run derby the stadium saw when it first opened. For the Rays, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza JR. each hit two home runs accounting for all 4 Rays’ tallies. 3 of the bombs came off Yankee starter CC Sabathia. CC was gone before the end of the fifth. Souza’s second shot came off of Jonathan Holder, one of the numerous rookie pitchers in the Yankees’ bull pen these days. Two of the Yankee runs came on solo blasts by Brian Mccann, who now has 19 for the season. Tommy Layne got the win out of the bull pen as he finished the 9th inning and waited while Austin unloaded the game winner off Arasmo Ramirez.
The Mets are like one of those South Carolina or Florida cockroaches (aka palmetto bugs,) who thrive even when injured. Fate has tried to stomp on this year’s Mets with repeated injuries, and the more players fall by the wayside the more the Mets seem to flourish. They’re 14–4 since a lecture from Terry Collins about their effort and desire. They next play the Braves which gives them a chance to cement their newly acquired position. The Nationals, who have the East all but cemented host the Phillies this weekend. The Rays’ serious prospect Blake Snell faces the Yankees’ prime suspect, Michael Pineda. You never know what you’ll get from him and most of the year what the Yanks have gotten has been bad. He’s gone winless in more than a month and didn’t survive the fifth in his last outing. Toronto is up against Rick Porcello of Boston, who if he wins will be the first 20-game winner in 9 years since Josh Beckett did it. The Tigers face the Orioles, each of whom are trying to stay relevant. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (who’s he?) returns after being on the DL seemingly forever, and does it in Miami against the Marlins. He’s facing Jose Fernandez but the inimitable Kershaw will be on a limited pitch count. The mets see the Braves’ best in Atlanta tonight. Julio Teheran goes for the Braves while the visitors trot out Robert Gsellman, who with Seth Lugo have been the two unlikely success stories on the Mets’ shredded starting staff. The Twins face Danny Salazar of the Twins as the home standing Twins try not to lose 100 games. There are a lot of easier pitchers to win against than Salazar The Brewers, who beat the Cardinals last night face them in an ongoing 4-game series in St. Louis. The Brew Crew is up against Carlos Martinez, who has won his last 4 decisions and been the most consistent starter the Cardinals have. As the Giants hope to stay relevant they send out their best, Madison Bumgarner against the D-Backs. This is the 6th year in a row he will make 30 starts, which is astonishing considering the fragility of pitchers in today’s game. Talking about fragile pitchers, the Nationals can breathe a smidgen easier this morning, knowing Stephen Strasburg has a forearm strain, as opposed to structural damage in his surgically repaired elbow. When the swelling abates they can be more certain if and when he can pitch again as they finish September and head for the playoffs. He had been on the DL with a sore elbow and Wednesday was his first day back. He didn’t last 3 innings before leaving in pain.
The fastest man this side of the Ohio river, Billy Hamilton is 26 today. The Reds took the Mississippi native in round 2 of the 2009 draft from high school. He was a late call-up in 2013, and as the late Bob Murphy would have said “he can flat out fly.” He only has a .247 batting average but he already has stolen 183 bases in less than 3 years. In 2012 in the minors he stole 155 bases-a minor league record, 10 more than Vince Coleman’s old record and 25 more than the major league high by Rickey Henderson. In his first MLB start he stole 4 bases, which hadn’t been done since 1920 when Woodrow Wilson was president. In 2014 Hamilton was second in Rookie of the Year voting to Jacob DeGrom of the Mets.
Former lefty pitcher Mike Hampton is 44 today. He came up in late 1993 with the Mariners and was last active with the D-Backs in 2010. In that time he was 148-115 in spite of two lost years, 2006-07. He was an All-Star in 1999 as an Astro (does it still make a fellow proud to be an Astro?) and in 2001, his first year in Colorado. He was NLCS MVP in 2000, the year of the last Subway Series. The Mariners took him in round 6 in 1990 from high school. His best year was a 22-4 year in 1999 with the Astros. His reward-a one-way ticket to the Mets. There he went 15-10, won 2 NLCS games and lost a game in the World Series to the Yankees. After signing the biggest contract yet given out, he went 14-13 and then 7–15 with the Rockies. They sent him to the Marlins who traded him to the Braves without him throwing a pitch in Miami. Hampton had Tommy John surgery in September 2005 which put him on the shelf for 2006. He needed a second procedure that benched him for the entire 2007 year. He returned in July 2008 and was still limited by injuries. With Houston in September 2009 he had rotator cuff surgery. Since 2013 he’s been a coach, now serving with the Mariners as bull pen coach.
There’s time for a late edition, as I was unable to get to the movie I had hoped to see. Former Yankee pitcher and Reds’ broadcasster Waite Hoyt was born this day in 1899. He died on August 25, 1984. He was a Brooklynite and spoke like one though he broadcast for the Reds from 1942 to 1965. He first pitched for the Giants in 1918 and threw his last pitch with intent in 1938 with the Dodgers. the next year, Cincinnati’s broadcaster Red Barber would be in Brooklyn and have Hoyt assist him and do pre-game and postgame shows. 3 years after that Hoyt would take Barber’s old spot high atop Crosley Field in Cincinnati. To be absolutely fair, Hoyt was a very erudite man and had a lot to say that was worth listening to. On the flip side, his voice took a lot of getting used to. He sounded like Henny Youngman, or anybody who won a fantasy broadcasting contest. He broadcast in the past tense. As an example, He would say “Mantle hit it to right field where the Reds’ right fielder Frank Robinson caught it for the out.” That style is to my knowledge absolutely unique in the 95 years baseball has been on radio. Before speaking into a microphone he put up a 237-182 pitching record. He spent a decade with the Yankees. When he left, Babe Ruth who was poor with names said to his pal of 10 years, “Good-bye Walter.” Hoyt was a vagabond after that, spending one long hitch with the Pirates from 1933 to 1937. His teams won the World Series in 1923, 1927 and 1928 and in 1927 on maybe the best team ever built he led his league in wins. He buried the opposition in those Yankee years, but since he didn’t make much money he had to bury people for real in the offseason. He got the nickname “The Merry Mortician” when that fact got out. Like a number of other baseball players he also appeared in vaudeville during the winter. He’s in Cooperstown as a player though he was beloved on the radio in Cincinnati and environs. His best moments were telling rain delay stories, which he would rather do than go back to the studios. He shared the mike for the 1953 All-Star game, the second 1960 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium and the 1961 World Series between the Yankees and the Reds. He and the Senators’ Bob Wolf called the action on radio for that five-game series.
Another Hall of Fame player, manager and broadcaster, Frankie Frisch the Fordham Flash was born this day in 1898 and died in March 1973. He played almost as long as Waite Hoyt did-from 1919 to 1937. He hit .316 with 2880 hits. He was with the Giants until 1926, then the Cardinals. He managed in St. Louis from 1933-38,. Frisch then broadcast for both Boston teams in 1939 as the prior announcer’s chronic drunkenness had finally cost him the job. thFrisch returned to managing in Pittsburgh 1940-46, broadcast for the Giants in 1947-48, and managed the Cubs from 1949-1951. He did post-game shows on Giants tv and on a handful of 1950’s World Series radio broadcasts. A heart attack in 1956 put a stop to that, and Phil Rizzuto filled in for the rest of the season. Frisch was back on TV from 1959-61 on CBS’ Game of the Week with Jack Whittaker. Frisch played in the first 3 All-Star games, hitting a home run to lead off the home half of the first inning in 1934 at the Polo Grounds. His teams won 4 World Series, 1921, 1922, 1931 and 1934. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.0