Robin Roberts: 1926-2010

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Robin Roberts.jpgPhillies great Robin Roberts has died. He was 83 years-old. No word on the cause of death, but judging by the surprise in the blogosphere and Twittervese it was not necessarily expected.

Roberts led the NL in wins for four straight years in the 1950s, winning 28 games in 1952 and 23 each of the next three years.  His win totals are remarkable give that, aside from the Whiz Kids year of 1950, the Phillies were never anything special. They won 83 games once, but otherwise dwelled in fourth and fifth place during Roberts’ prime.

Roberts was the ultimate workhorse, even for the era in which he played, pitching over 300 innings each year between 1950 and 1955, and 297 in 1956. There was no Cy Young award during his best stretch of years, but he almost certainly would have won it multiple times had there been one.

I obviously never got a chance to see Roberts pitch, but he is one of my historical favorites. I used to look at his entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia, marveling at his win totals and innings pitched, wondering how it was possible for a mere mortal to do such a thing.  The truth may be that all of those innings took their toll on Roberts — he swooned badly in mid career, rebounding only once he left Philly and went to Baltimore, where he was treated with a bit more care — but that doesn’t take away from his obvious greatness.

Universally described as a class act by all who knew him, Roberts will no doubt be missed.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.