The Detroit Free Press is running an incredible three-part “final” interview this week with the late (and great) Ernie Harwell, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92. From the Free Press’ lead-in:
“Last fall, Free Press sports editor Gene Myers, photographer Mandi
Wright and picture editor Diane Weiss visited Ernie and Lulu Harwell at
their modest apartment in Fox Run Village, a retirement center in Novi.
Ernie had agreed to do a long interview, to be his last extensive
session with the local media.”
The first part is up on their website this morning. Part Two will run on Monday and Part Three on Tuesday. Harwell spent nearly his entire adult life around the game of baseball and has more anecdotes on America’s pastime than anyone could possibly take in all at once. The interviews are a must-read for any baseball fan, not just Tigers fans.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.