A story in the Daily News this morning reminds me of a “Seinfeld” scene:
- George: Magellan? You like Magellan?
- Jerry: Oh yeah, my favorite explorer. Around the
world, come on. Who do you like?
- George: I like DeSoto.
- Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?
- George: Discovered the
- Jerry: Oh, like they wouldn’t have
found that anyway:
In a freezing, wet Michigan spring, [Dick] Groch watched Jeter from the
stands, from behind the backstop, from down the foul lines while
sitting in his car. The shortstop’s joy in playing “emanated from him,”
Groch says. “I made the comment once that he started playing baseball
at a family picnic and he’s been playing ever since.”
Groch saw power potential, strong hands, athleticism. He saw that
Jeter easily handled the failure that’s part of baseball. “It was only
a temporary inconvenience to him,” Groch says.
Scouting is no easy job, and the guys who do it are dedicated, hard working people who rarely receive the kind of credit for their work that they deserve.
Still, is finding Derek Jeter — a guy the whole world knew would be a really good one — the best hook on which to hang an appreciation of Dick Groch? If I didn’t know better I’d say that this was really just another appreciation of Derek Jeter leading up to his breaking of Gehrig’s Yankees hits record and maybe serving as a subtle MVP campaign for the guy.
Interesting, sure, But I’ll bet Dick Groch has found all kinds of good players over the years who weren’t drawing the kind of heat Jeter was. Those are the scouting stories I’d like to hear, not yet another Jeter love-fest, of which we’ve had plenty in the past week.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.