December 26, a date to remember

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ruth.JPGAs’s Mark Newman points out, today — Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009 — marks the 90th anniversary of the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. 

The infamous deal lost some of its luster once the Red Sox snapped the supposed “curse” it brought upon the franchise with their sweep of the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, but it’s an important day in baseball history nonetheless.  In fact, as Newman points out, it’s an important day in world history:

The Ruth sale happened on Dec. 26, 1919.

The FM radio was patented on Dec. 26, 1933.

The United Soviet Socialist Republic was formally
dissolved on Dec. 26, 1991.

Two disasters have occurred on Dec. 26: the Indian Ocean
tsunami in 2004 and a Taiwan earthquake in 2006.

Mao Zedong was born on Dec. 26, 1893.

The Pilgrims landed at what became New Plymouth on Dec. 26, 1690,

And on Dec. 26, 1776, the British lost the Battle of Trenton after General George Washington led his troops across the Delaware River.

Cursed or not, it’s a day of much importance.  And to us baseball fans, it doesn’t get much more important than the Big Bambino.  The “Sultan of Swat” had a .342/.474/.690 career batting line over 22 professional seasons.  He hit 714 home runs and tallied 2217 runs batted in.  We celebrate a lot this time of year — the holidays, a new year, good food — and yet it always seems relevant to celebrate the game’s ultimate icon.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.