Boston Fans, This Stuff Isn’t_ Funny_! AA Provides High Drama in Florida

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, May 2.

Because I’m blind, I don’t know which players are black or white. Because of my Christian upbringing I don’t care_ what players are black or white.  If a player helps my team win, his color means nothing to me.

Until last night I didn’t know Adam Jones was black.  I wouldn’t know it this morning except Boston fans were calling him racist names and one sunk so low as to throw a bag of peanuts at Jones, a 12-year veteran and a 5-time MLB All-Star who helped the USA team win the recent World Baseball Classic. While Jones went hitless the fans’ hateful actions certainly didn’t help the Old Town Team win.  Rick Porcello dropped to 1-4 as the visiting O’s put up 3 in their half of the 8th for a 5-2 win. What the fans did continued a generations-old tradition of intolerance in Boston.

Brooklyn and Cleveland broke the color barrier in 1947.  It took a dozen more years for Boston to become the last team to integrate. And when they did, it was with Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green, who was far from an All-Star.  It seemed like they were trying to sell their fans on the fact that black players couldn’t play.  Two of Green’s brothers were football players in the fifties but Pumpsie’s baseball skills weren’t up to his brothers’ ability on the gridiron.

Boston and the Yankees had their chances  to be trailblazers.  The Sox passed on Jackie Robinson before the Dodgers signed him.  The Yankees got it in their thick skulls that Willie Mays (he of the 660 home runs) couldn’t hit a curve ball.  They chose Mickey Mantle (536 home runs) who could play brilliantly when he wasn’t injured which he often was, and who got drunk rather than trying to take care of his God-given body.  The Yankees’ first black player was catcher Elston Howard, of whom Casey Stengel infamously said “They finally give me a n ni**er and I get the one who can’t run!” It appears Red Sox fans still hold Casey Stengel’s mentality.  This is a public relations nightmare for the Sox and will stick in the craw of any black players approaching free agency or who hold no-trade clauses in their contracts.

Somehow, the Mobile BayBears (AA Angels) keep finding their way into this column.  Not even two weeks ago a AA Reds pitcher twirled a perfecto against them. Twice since, they’ve been involved in marathon games-one going 17 and one 15 innings.  Yesterday they were on the short end of a wild affair in Jacksonville where Mobile lost 12-11 in walk-off fashion. It should have been an easy win for the home team, the AA Marlins.  They put up 8 runs in the 4th and one each in the fifth and sixth.  But they needed to score in the 8th to tie the game at 11 and score again in the 9th to win. Mobile, down 10-2 through 6 put up 4 in the 7th and 5 in the 8th to take a short-lived 11-10 advantage. Both teams emerge with 11-14 records following yesterday’s game. Taking advantage of an 18-MPH wind blowing out, the home team hit 4 home runs, the visitors slugged a pair. Down 8 runs, Mobile’s Jose Briceno hit his first career grand slam, a moment he will cherish. He drove in two more runs in the next inning and finished with 6 RBIs, one shy of his career high. Brian Anderson drove in the tying and winning runs for, wait for it, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. For their part Alex Glenn hit a grand slam and Taylor Ard followed with a solo shot in the home team’s 8-run 4th. Almost 2400 spent a Monday afternoon watching a memorable ball game at one of the few stadiums not name for some corporation. While the park opened in 2003,its name which is The Baseball Grounds Of Jacksonville comes right out of the 1890’s. It replaced Wolfson Park where the Jacksonville Suns played since 1955. The earliest baseball park-Durkee Field-was only 375 feet to dead center and 285 to right field. That was considered adequate when minor league baseball first was played in Jacksonville in 1921. As early as 1914 the Philadelphia Athletics held their spring training in Jacksonville, where minor league baseball still thrives over a century later.

The entire schedule of MLB games will be played under the lights. The hopefully rejuvenated D-Backs turn to Taewon Walker, their prize offseason find as they face the Nationals tonight in DC. He faces Tanner Roark who emerged a year ago as one of the Nationals’ best. Toronto starts their reclamation project Matt Latos against the Yankees.  The Jays wiped out the Yankees 7-1 last night behind Marco Estrada. The Yankees counter with Masahiro Tanaka who, in beating the Red Sox  pitched as well as he ever has with the Yankees. Using 97 pitches he walked nobody and gave up just 3 hits. Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox against the O’s Alec Asher.  Sale can only hope he gets more runs than he’s been given up to now. The Sox have scored 4 runs in Sale’s 5 starts. The Indians-Tigers game is probably the night’s best pitching matchup.  The 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber faces a past master, Justin Verlander. Now 34,  Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young Award and has thrown 2 no-hitters-one back in 2007, one in 2011. The Mets send out Matt Harvey to face former teammate R.A. Dickey who befuddled the Mets with his knuckleball last time out.  Harvey and his teammates are playing for pride now, with Noah Syndergaard certainly out for months and Yoenis Cespedes possibly out that long. In late games, the Padres host the Rockies, the Mariners play host to the Angels and the Giants and Dodgers meet again at Chavez Ravine.

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