On this Sunday, 60 Doesn’t mean 60 Minutes

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, Oct. 1.

With the playoff picture now set, this would be a totally meaningless Sunday.  The playoff teams would try to make sure nobody gets hurt and the also-rans would play out the string.  But one of those also-rans has something to play for on this day when all games will start at or near 3:05 PM.  The Marlins will see if Giancarlo Stanton can reach 60 home runs, a feat no National Leaguer has done without the aid or suspected aid of steroids. He will attempt to reach 60 in Miami against the Braves.  The visitors will send Max Fried in his 4th MLB start to face the Marlins and try to keep Stanton from that magic number. The 23-year-old Fried (Pronounced Freed for our JAWS-using friends)  hails from Santa Monica, and had been the Padres’ first-round draft choice coming out of high school.  in 2009 he had journeyed to distant Israel where his US team won the gold medal in the Maccabiah Games. That must have been an unimaginable adventure for a lad of 15, which Fried was then. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2014 and was traded to the Braves.  He couldn’t throw a pitch with intent until 2016. Surgery or no, his fastball that season reached 97 MPH.  He grew up idolizing another famous Jewish lefty Sandy Koufax.  Fried went as far as to wear Koufax’s old number 32 as a high school boy. He came up right from AA almost two months ago now. His hopes today are for his team to win and for himself not to become a footnote in baseball history as Evan Tracy Stallard is for giving up Roger Maris’s 61st home run. By coincidence that event happened on October 1, 56 years ago today.  Only 23,000 fans were there to see Maris break Babe Ruth’s record.  I imagine that if Mickey Mantle were healthy and on the cusp of 61 you couldn’t squeeze a mouse into Yankee Stadium.  The World Series’ of the 1960’s involving the Yankees featured crowds of as much as 69,000 fans so the paltry 23,000 on Maris’s greatest day made it looke like the stadium was empty.

The playoff picture is set and looks like this: The Yankees and Twins’ wild card game happens Tuesday.  The winner faces Cleveland while Boston and Houston square off.  By an odd coincidence the Red Sox and Astros had a 4-game series to finish the season with the last game being played today.  In the National League, the wild card game will be played Wednesday with the Diamondbacks hosting the Rockies.  The winner gets the Dodgers while the Cubs and Nationals duke it out in the other LCS.  Lest we forget, last year’s two wild card games were two of the best of the entire postseason, only  upstaged by the sheer madness of game 7 of the World Series.

After an 11-inning win last night made possible by a 3-run home run off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera, the Mets send Noah Syndergaard to the hill on the last day of this ghastly season. As in his prior start he will only throw an inning. Yesterday Matt Cain pitched what appears to be his final game as the Giants lost to the Padres. 5 years ago it would have been unimaginable to think Cain would end his career on his  33rd birthday, which today happens to be. He spent his entire career–from 2005 to yesterday with the Giants.  The Alabama native was an All-Star 3 times, the last being 2012, the year he pitched a perfecto. In that year he was 16–5, by far his best record. Things went to pieces for Cain beginning in his second start of 2013.  After 2 no-hit innings he gave up 9 runs in the third-the first Giants pitcher to do that since Ernie Shore in 1912.  That happened while William Howard Taft was president and the Giants played in New York. The Yankees send their surprise rookie Jordan Montgomery to the hill.  I call it 50-50 whether he makes the playoff rotation, so he’s elected to end the regular season against the Blue Jays. The Dodgers and Rockies also close a series that could turn out to be a playoff preview if Colorado snuffs out the D-Backs’ season.

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