When is Ron Villone going to apologize to Mark McGwire?

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Ron Villone headshot.jpgEventually people will start playing baseball again and all of this will be forgotten. Until then we’ll have old timers like Fergie Jenkins saying silly things like this:

Ferguson Jenkins says Mark McGwire owes an apology to all those pitchers who gave up his home runs. The Hall of Fame ace sent an open letter* to The Associated Press
this week, telling the former home-run king: “You have not even begun
to apologize to those you have harmed.”
“How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs of them?”

“You have yet to apologize to all the pitchers you faced while juiced,”
Jenkins wrote. “You altered pitchers’ lives. You may have shortened
pitchers careers because of the advantage you forced over them while
juiced. Have you thought about what happened when they couldn’t get you
out and lost the confidence of their managers and general managers? You
even managed to alter the place some athletes have achieved in record
books by making your steroid-fueled run to the season home run record.”

Best tidbit from the story: STATS LLC researched and found out that 51 pitchers gave up  homers to McGwire in what
turned out to be their final major league seasons, including Bert Blyleven and Donnie Moore.  I can only assume that Murray Chass and that crowd will now change their Hall of Fame vote for Blyleven and start blaming Donnie Moore’s suicide on McGwire.

Of course what STATS LLC has not done is analyze how many home runs McGwire hit off pitchers who were juicing.  For example, he hit two dingers off of Roger Clemens in his career, so I assume he need not apologize there. He hit five off Ron Villone, who was named in the Mitchell Report. Other Mitchell Report alumni who served up home runs to McGwire: Kevin Brown, Jim Parque, Darren Holmes and Steve Woodard.

Given how cursory and incomplete the Mitchell Report was, and given that pitchers have, if anything, been overrepresented in positive PED tests since 2004, there are no doubt many, many more to whom McGwire need not apologize. I’d compile a list of pitchers who should apologize to McGwire — ‘roiders who struck Mac out and prevented him from hitting home runs — but that would be a pretty extensive undertaking.

How about this: instead of wasting our time telling everyone who should apologize to whom, we just drop this pathetic, sanctimonious game, accept that the era in which Mark McGwire played was rotten with steroid users and figure out how to put it all in historic context?  Or is that too immature?

*Open letter?! Arrrrgghh!

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.