And now for an awesome Mickey Mantle story

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Mickey Mantle AP.jpgThere’s a conventional wisdom among a lot professional sports writers that you should ignore your comments section. It’ll only make you mad, they say. People complaining, and all that.

I think that’s hogwash. Sure, making a comments section a pleasant place to hang around is tough work, especially on a big media site like NBC, but if you set a good example, encourage the good commenters and manage to get the worst elements under control you’ll be handsomely rewarded with good conversation, analysis, constructive criticism and, occasionally, some great stories.

Got one today, courtesy of one of CTB’s most notable commenters, Old Gator (the guy who from Macondo who goes on about the horse meat and Velveeta sandwiches in Philly). It came in the comments below the Jake Peavy post, it’s about Mickey Mantle and I’ll let Gator tell it in his own words:

A great true and I will bet hitherto undisclosed Mickey Mantle story
that was told to me by Eric Blau, author of “Jacques Brel is Alive and
Well and Living in Paris” among other plays and novels.

Way back when
Eric was a struggling young writer, he got a job for Topps writing
little booklets to be inserted in their bubblegum and baseball card
packs – booklets with titles like “How I Pitch” by Whitey Ford, “How I
Catch” by Yogi Berra, and “How I Hit” by Mickey Mantle. He got to
interview each one of those guys briefly in gathering his information
for these booklets. During his interview with Mantle at a bar in
Manhattan, they both had one too many drinks, but Eric was able to make
some sense of what Mantle told him from his notes and wrote the booklet.

Some months later, Mantle was mired in one of the worst slumps of his life. He tried just about everything
to break out of it. Then one night, around three A.M., Eric’s phone
rings. He answers it, and it’s Mantle, stewed to the gills.

“Hey
Ewric,” Mantle slurs, “I wed your brook.”

“Uh, yeah?” Eric mutters.

“You’re full of shit,” Mantle exclaims and hangs up.

There aren’t a lot of commenters like Old Gator, but if you ignore your comments section, fellow writers, you risk missing out on that kind of gold.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.