Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball 3 days before the season opener.
One Old Timers’ Day in the 1970’s, Mets’ broadcaster Lindsey Nelson said the Old Timers Game would be stopped due to advancing years. Now, for the second time in the last few weeks advancing years have claimed a member of both the baseball family in general and the Phillies’ family in particular. Recently it was Dallas Green who passed at 82. Now Phillies’ mainstay Ruben Amaro SR., 81 has passed.
When Amaro reached the majors with the Cardinals in 1958, ball players from Mexico were a rarity. It was known as a nation of soccer men and boxers. In the decades since, more Mexicans have reached the major leagues, and their own league has won AAA status from major league baseball. Aurelio Lopez was acquired by the Astros in 1986 from the Mexican League and pitched gamely in a losing effort against the Mets in game 6 of the 1986 NLCS. Probably no Mexican player is better known than Fernando Valenzuela who caused a sensation when he reached the Dodgers in 1981. In our own time Luis Cesa of the Yankees is from Veracruz, the state Amaro hailed from. Cesa figures to be one of the youngsters that bring the Yankees back to the top of the league when they mature.
Amaro was an early Latin player besides being a Mexican and he was one of the men who made it possible for Latin Americans to dominate the game as they do now. He was a shortstop for a dozen years, winding up with the Angels in 1969. The bulk of his career was spent with the Phillies where he copped a gold glove. His reward? To be sent to the sinking ship that was the Yankees of 1965-68. With the Phillies he was both coach and scout. His second son, Ruben JR. rose to the rank of general manager of the Phillies.
As we approach opening day the 30 teams are putting the finishing touches on their rosters and hoping nobody gets hurt in the last few games. The Pirates are in Montreal for another ill-conceived exhibition game there. One of their better players, Gregory Polanco can’t go. Some sort of glitch with his passport bars him from entry into Canada. The whole idea of trying to revive baseball in Montreal, the cradle of hockey is the height of folly. Montreal was a poor steward to the baseball team it had, building them a stadium that was the eyesore of the league and was rarely known for large crowds. If your kid smashes an expensive toy, do you run right out and buy him another one? If you do the odds are he’ll smash it to bits like he did the first one. A baseball team isn’t a toy and shouldn’t play in a city where its future failure is guaranteed.
On a lighter note, the Yankees and Braves play a dress rehearsal at the Braves’ new ball park. The questions are many: will everything at the park work? Will the traffic be such that the fans can’t make it before the game’s end? Even in an optimal set of circumstances, will the fans come to see a Braves’ team that played poorly in the spring and has more Social Security candidates on board than young prospects. The Braves added both Bartolo Colon and R. A. Dickey, both of whom will never see 40 again. They also brought in Brandon Phillips who is closer to 40 than 35. The 1962 Mets tried this formula and it failed spectacularly. As for the Yankees, they meet the Rays Sunday afternoon in the first regular season game of all. Their opening tilt begins at 1 PM, followed by the D-Backs and Giants at 4:10 and the Cubs and Cardinals in the first ESPN Sunday night game of 2017.0