Potent quotables: Marathon edition

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It was too good to be true. As Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett matched
zeroes early on Friday, the game was moving along at an
abnormally brisk pace. But a funny thing capt.6443de45c8e84d5d8365bf47a31f0846.aptopix_red_sox_yankees_baseball_nyy209.jpghappened in the Bronx. The
teams forgot how to score a run. They went a combined 0-for-19 with
runners in scoring position. They struck out 14 times a piece.
They combined to use 14 pitchers. It took five hours and 33 minutes to
come to a conclusion. It was wonderful.

The game was everything we envision the postseason to be at it’s most dramatic, from Josh Reddick and Melky
Cabrera’s almost game-winners, to J.D. Drew’s game-saving catch to Alex
Rodriguez’s thrilling walk-off blast in the 15th. The new Yankee Stadium
may have opened in April, but this was it’s close-up.

Here’s just some of the reaction from Friday night’s 15-inning marathon:

“It was a big game at the beginning, and it just kept getting bigger
and bigger. You don’t want to go 15 innings and lose
those big pitching performances on both sides.”

– Alex Rodriguez, who sent Yankees’ fans home happy with his walk-off
blast. The game-winner broke a career-worst 72 at-bat homerless drought.

“I thought his poise was fantastic. We knew that, or he wouldn’t be here. That was certainly easing him into the fire.”

– Terry Francona comments on 23-year-old Junichi Tazawa, who gave up
the game-winning blast to Alex Rodriguez
in his major league debut.

“When he caught that ball, that’s when I thought the game was never going to end.”

– Derek Jeter marvels at J.D. Drew’s game-saving catch in the 14th inning.

“It’s one of those plays where it’s kind of a do-or-die situation. Guys on, [Eric] Hinske’s up, you make a beeline straight
across the field, stick your glove up, see what happens. I don’t know
how in the world it ended up in my glove.”

– J.D. Drew still doesn’t know how he caught that ball.

“It was awesome. It was an environment, really, I can’t
describe. You see the whole place pretty much full in the 15th. And to
come off the field and get that ovation, I’ve never experienced that
before. It was amazing.”

– A.J. Burnett showed that he is ready for the big stage. Battling
through a shaky first inning, Burnett matched Josh Beckett, tossing 7
2/3 shutout inning, allowing just a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.