If a guy makes an error that costs his pitcher a perfect game, and the very next hitter laces a single into the outfield, my sense of it is that you can’t really dwell on the error, because, hey, the no-no and perfecto would have been gone a minute later anyway. Then again, I don’t have to fill column inches in New York:
The ground ball didn’t appear to take any sort of bad hop, no matter
what the Yankee players were saying afterward. In truth it was the type
that Jerry Hairston could field without a bobble 100 times out of 100 under ordinary circumstances.
So maybe the importance of the moment got to him. Then again,
Hairston had saved the perfect game only an inning earlier with a
barehand play on a slow roller. In any case, when he missed Adam Jones’ grounder with two outs in the seventh inning, Hairston perhaps changed the course of history, and Andy Pettitte‘s karma as well.
There’s some sort of third order story like this coming out of every Yankees’ game. We pay attention to the sensationalism surrounding A-Rod and all of that, but I think that this is the kind of scrutiny — 800 words devoted to someone’s relatively meaningless error — that people are really talking about when they talk about the pressure of New York.
This one story? No big deal. 160 of them? Man, that has to get old.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.