An American manager in Venezuela

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Neat story in the New York Times yesterday about former Braves farmhand and minor league manager Buddy Bailey who has managed the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan league since 2002.  Is it weird to be an American manager in a country whose government is so hostile to Americans? Nah, he just channels Norman Dale:

“At first it was like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ ” said Mr.
Bailey, referring to the reaction of family and friends when he moved
to Venezuela in 2002. “But baseball is baseball,” he explained.
“Everywhere I go, the pitcher’s mound is at 60 feet 6 inches, and the
bases are 90 feet, so it’s the same everywhere.”

If you’re looking for a nice companion piece to this one on this cold, slow morning, check out this one from the other day about baseball (or softball) as tool-of-diplomacy in Nicaragua.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change. And I just want to say one thing to my kid, who should be home sleeping: Merry Christmas, kid, I love you.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.