What we're watching: Beckett goes for 12th win

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– Sinkerballer Sergio Mitre, who underwent Tommy John surgery last
year, will make his Yankees debut against the Orioles after going 3-1
with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He
was 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in 52 starts and 26 relief appearances for
the Cubs and Marlins from 2003-07. If he succeeds in his first couple
of starts, it will relieve any pressure on the Yankees to out Phil
Hughes back into the rotation.

– Josh Beckett will aim for fifth straight win while pitching on
eight days’ rest against the Rangers. The Red Sox opted to give both he
and Tim Wakefield additional time off even though neither ended up
working in the All-Star Game. Beckett, who could become the AL’s first
12-game winner, will be opposed by Tommy Hunter, who is 1-1 with a 1.53
ERA in three starts since being recalled at the end of last month.

Game of the Night

Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia – It’ll be up to Rich Harden to halt
the Phillies’ nine-game winning streak. He’s coming off one of his best
starts, having allowed just one unearned run and three hits over six
innings against the Nationals last time out. While his season ERA
stands at 5.06, he’s 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA outside of Wrigley Field. The
Phillies, though, have been far better at home lately after getting off
to a surprisingly awful start at Citizens Bank Park. They’re 10-1 in
Philadelphia this month. Joe Blanton will start for the Phillies.

A child was carried out of Yankee Stadium after being hit by a foul ball

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A scary thing just happened in Yankee Stadium. A young fan, it appeared to be a young girl, sitting down the left-field line was struck by a Todd Frazier foul ball. Play was halted on the field as she was attended to. They carried her out, not waiting for a stretcher to come. It was hard to see how bad her injuries were, but those on the field — including Eduardo Escobar of the Twins — were visibly shaken.

Major League Baseball has encouraged — not demanded or required, but merely encouraged — teams to extend netting farther down the foul lines in the name of fan safety. Many teams have done so. The Yankees have not, and have remained somewhat non-committal about it all.

We’ll provide an update of the girl’s condition once it is known.

Everything you wanted to know about collusion but were afraid to ask

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Most of you are likely aware of baseball’s history of collusion. Specifically, the three instances between 1985 and 1988 when the league, the owners and their general managers entered into a conspiracy to suppress salaries by agreeing to share information and to not to sign free agents away from other teams. The scheme, which violated the explicit terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, led to a series of arbitrations which resulted in the owners being forced to pay the players $280 million in damages.

While you may know that large-arc story of collusion, there is an awful lot of stuff relating to it all that is seldom talked about. Interesting stuff which, despite its genesis over 30 years ago still impacts baseball to this very day. If you want to hear some talk about that, I was on the This Week in Baseball History podcast with Michael Bates and Bill Parker last night, and we talked about it, all in honor of the first decision in the three collusion cases which came down 30 years ago this week.

We covered a lot of topics you may not know arose out of the collusion cases. For example:

  • Did you know that the collusion cases led more or less directly to the existence of the Marlins, Rockies, Rays and Diamondbacks?
  • Did you know that it led, eventually, to Bud Selig becoming commissioner?
  • Did you know that it contributed greatly to the 1994-95 labor impasse which led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series?
  • Did you know that it spun off litigation that continued for nearly 20 years after the collusion plan, so that in the year 2005 people were STILL talking about what Steve freakin’ Garvey was supposed to earn back in the 1980s?
  • Did you know that, in one key respect, the collusion cases of the 1980s had their genesis in something Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale did back in 1966?

Maybe you knew some of that, maybe you didn’t, but it was all kinda wild. If the topic interests you, I highly recommend you take a listen to the podcast. We go light on the legalities, heavier on talking about stuff like what might’ve happened if Kirk Gibson signed with the Royals in 1986 and never made it to the Dodgers in 1988. It’s baseball talk that you may not hear every day.