And That Happened: Classic

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Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic”
version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on July
14, 1956.*

Glad that All-Star break is over. Man, Griffith Stadium leaves a lot to
be desired! Only 28,000 in attendance? Maybe they’d draw
more people if they stretched the event out a bit and made a bigger
to-do of it. For example, perhaps they could do some sort of
radio-friendly skills competition the day before the game. Like a pepper
contest or a bowling tournament. Whatever is decided, I’m about
through with this All-Star business. Charlie Maxwell made the squad but
didn’t even get in the game! History will remember that slight. Anyway,
on to the yesterday’s scores:

Red Sox 5, White Sox 4: Sure, the
BoSox take this one, but there’s no reason to believe that they’ll
finish the year ahead of Chicago. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a
thousand times: the Pale Hose play in a bigger city and have ownership
that simply cares more about the team. For that reason, they will be a
better team than Boston for decades. Boston lost one team a few years
ago, and I won’t be surprised if they lose the other sometime soon.

Braves 8, Dodgers 6: It’s gotten to the
point where I simply can’t listen to Dodgers games anymore. Red Barber
was, bar none, the best in the business, and his putative replacement
— this Vincent Scully character — saps the broadcast of all of its fun
and enjoyment. No one’s tearing up the pea patch anymore. No more
rhubarbs. No more catbird seat. Nothing but phony erudite
professionalism from this new kid. Trust me: he won’t be broadcasting
in Brooklyn much longer.

Braves 6, Dodgers 5: And Milwaukee
sweeps the doubleheader. The second half was delayed a bit, as the
between-game entertainment ran long. Seems that some local hood was
worried that he was “losing his cool” and thus attempted to break a
world record and leap his motorcycle over 14 garbage cans. The whole
thing was filmed by the “You Wanted to See It” show. The filming itself
went fine. The delay came when some local high school kids with
strangely long, and seemingly blow-dried hair, launched into an
impromptu performance of “Blueberry Hill” while playing electric
instruments that weren’t plugged into anything.

Cubs 7, Pirates 6: That Bob Clemente
(3-4) and Ernie Banks (2-4, 2 RBI) sure can rake. Quite the credits to
their race, they are. And hey, here they are now! What say you, Bob and
Ernie?

Ernie: Thank you, Craig! Bob and I are just here to
thank you for all the hard work you do. And to tell you and your
readers that lighting up a PALL MALL just naturally goes with that
feeling of satisfaction you get from a job well done.

Bob: That’s right, Ernie. For PALL MALL pays you a rich reward
in smoking pleasure — an extra measure of cigarette goodness.

Ernie: You said it, Bob. PALL MALLS are made longer – to travel
the smoke further – to make it cooler and sweeter for you.

Bob: So let me get this straight, Ernie; if I smoke a pack of
PALL MALLS, I won’t have a scratchy throat or have to deal with an
unpleasant after-taste?

Ernie: That’s right, Bob. PALL MALLS have a such smooth, rich
tobacco flavor, you’ll want to smoke two!

Phillies 6, Redlegs 4: Insult to
injury here, in that immediately after the loss, the Redlegs were the
subject of a speech by the recently-disgraced Senator Joseph McCarthy
who, in what appears to be a shot at redemption and renewed relevance,
said “The Cincinnati clubhouse is infested with communists. I have here
in my hand a list of names that were made known to the Commissioner of
Baseball as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless
are still playing baseball in Cincinnati.” Redlegs manager Birdie
Tebbetts in response: “We must remember always that accusation is not
proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear
into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine,
and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

Athletics 3, Orioles 2: A short day
for Connie Johnson, as he only goes seven innings. Back when I was a
kid, starters didn’t beg out so early. They stayed in, threw their 175
pitches, and were ready to go the day after tomorrow. I tell ya, things
aren’t like they were back in the Golden Age. By the way, keep the
name Lou Skizas (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) in mind, because that’s a fellow who’s
really gonna set the world on fire one day. I can just feel it.

Yankees 10, Indians 0: Tom Sturdivant
(CG SHO 2 H) dominates the Tribe. Lock him up to a long term contract
now, Messers Topping and Webb, because the last thing you want is to see
him wearing another uniform. From the game story: “Young Mickey Mantle
declined this writer’s offer of dinner after the game, stating that he
was due to go on a ‘beaver shoot.’ While I find it strange — there
aren’t any woods close to gotham — it’s good to know that the slugger
is out getting some fresh air instead of staying cooped up in an
apartment building. I asked him to get a pelt for me, as I would love a
nice winter hat, but the Commerce Comet found my request humorous for
some reason.”

Senators 12, Tigers 11: No one
represented themselves well in this one, but Steve Gromek and Duke Mass
led the ignominious charge for the Tigers’ bullpen. Say what you want
about this Senators team — and their record says plenty — but baseball
is only one half skill. The other half is something else. Something
bigger! They’ve got hope! They don’t sit around and mope. Probably
because nuthin’s half as bad as it may appear. They wait’ll next year
and hope. When their luck is battin’ zero, they get their chin up off
the floor. Mister, they can be heroes. They can open any door.

Cardinals 7, Giants 5: Musial’s first
game in 1941 featured him getting two hits. He had two hits again
yesterday. Seems he hasn’t improved at all.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be taking the following ten days off
from writing this feature, as I recently won a contest for an
all-expenses-paid cruise on a swanky Italian ocean liner.
The missus and I will be returning to New York on the 25th.

*Not only is this a repeat from 1956, it’s also a repeat (in reality) from last summer, when I posted it over at The Hardball Times.  I was going to do an original “Classic” for this morning focusing on 1984, but (a) it was my birthday yesterday and I had other things I wanted to do last night; and (b) there were only so many “Where’s the Beef” jokes I could think of.  Anyway, if you were one of the relative few who saw this last year on ShysterBall, apologies for the rerun. If not, I hope you enjoyed it.

Jose Bautista: “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since famous bat flip

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.

Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.

The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.

The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.