OK, maybe the Cubs are jerking Andre Dawson around

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1:24 P.M.:  OK, I sort of laid off the Cubs on this earlier today because the story below seemed to be more a failure of reporting than of the Cubs decision on the matter (i.e. it seemed entirely possible that the Cubs had every intention of retiring Dawson’s number regardless of what cap he wore)  but now ESPN is reporting that the Cubs really are going to wait and see what cap he wears before deciding if they’re going to retire his number.

Let me refine the point I made this morning, this time directed at the Cubs:  someone please tell me why the Cubs would retire Greg Maddux’s number despite the fact that he’ll wear a Braves cap into Cooperstown while they now apparently won’t retire Dawson’s if he wears an Expos cap.

Maddux won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and pitched in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Andre Dawson won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and played in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Maddux had three more seasons with the Cubs than Dawson did, but of Maddux’s nine years in a Cubs’ uniform one was a late season callup, one full season was a far below average (ERA+ of 76 in 1987), and two were average, end of career years.  All of Dawson’s six years were above average years.

I see no reason for the differential treatment here, and I would like someone with the Cubs or familiar with their thinking to explain it to me.

11:00 AM: Chicago Breaking Sports News reports that “[Andre] Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub.”  They go on to note that there’s “No word on whether the Cubs would follow through with retiring his number if Dawson is inducted as an Expo.” Query: Does the reporter here really need official word from the Cubs on that last point? They retired Greg Maddux’s number last year, and he’s almost
certain to go into the Hall as a Brave, so they’ll almost certainly do
it for Dawson. 

But even if that’s not a given, the cap some committee of anonymous whoevers decides should appear on Dawson’s plaque can’t be the determining factor for the Cubs, can it? I mean, if they stand willing to retire his jersey anyway, they’re going to retire it regardless, right? I mean, what possible difference would it make to the Cubs?  It’s not like they can’t still sell 40,000 “Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer” seat cushions or foam fingers or whatever on “Andre Dawson Day” anyway, and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m generally unimpressed with the practice of retiring numbers in the first instance.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.