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.

Dee Gordon’s suspension is likely to lead to a call for harsher PED penalties

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Associated Press
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Objectively speaking there is no difference between Dee Gordon’s suspension for PEDs and anyone else’s. Abraham Almonte, for example. Or Cameron Maybin. Or David Rollins. All were guys who got their 80 games, served their time, came back and whose cases didn’t raise too much of a fuss. But Gordon’s suspension will almost certainly be talked about longer and more loudly and will likely lead to calls for harsher penalties and changes to the PED suspension rules.

Part of it is simply fame. He’s a pretty big name as far as these things go. The biggest since the Biogenesis guys a couple of years ago. He won the batting title last year. He’s the son of a famous major leaguer. There is a direct correlation between the volume and intensity of the narratives applied to one’s story and the fame of the subject of the story. For that reason alone Gordon’s story will last longer and loom larger.

Another reason — a bigger reason, I think — is timing. Gordon was seen by many to have had a breakout season in 2015 and, when it was over, he was rewarded for it with a nice five-year $50 million deal. The narrative will arise by, oh, 9AM today, that the suspension was “worth it” for Gordon and that he cashed in because of it, rendering his suspension a mere slap on the wrist. This is especially true given that his deal is severely backloaded. He’ll lose less than $2 million in salary in 2016 while collecting the other $48 million-plus. Totally worth it!

I understand why people will say that, but such a stance has some serious flaws. Among them:

  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows when Gordon began to take PEDs;
  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows how, in fact, Gordon’s performance was actually enhanced;
  • It forgets that lots and lots of people were talking about how Gordon’s “breakout season” was actually 2014, not 2015, rendering that whole “he juiced and then got his money” argument fairly problematic.

Those points will likely be ignored as arguments in favor of harsher penalties grow louder. Ken Rosenthal reminds us this morning that some have called for some form of contract voiding or clawing back of more money than just the salary earned while on suspension. Those calls too will likely grow louder. There will also be calls for changes in the appeal process. Like this one, which came moments after Gordon’s suspension was announced:

When you have an actual union member angrily call for the repeal of a collectively-bargained protection in punishment situations, you’re sort of through the looking glass. Or past a tipping point. Or something. You’re certainly in a world where the usual dynamics between employer and employee are not operative and, as a result, changes are inevitable. As we noted recently, players today are perhaps more adamantly anti-PED than the owners and the league are. They’re competitors reacting to cheating by their competition. The fuel for stronger penalties is likely to come more from them than anyone.

The union and the league will be negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this year. Performance enhancing drugs and their penalties will be a part of that. Expect harsher penalties and possibly different sorts of rules altogether. Expect Dee Gordon to be the poster child for these changes, even if his case is no different in form than that of Abraham Almonte, Cameron Maybin, or David Rollins. Expect emotion, rather than logic, to lead the coming debate.

And That Happened: Thursdays scores and highlights

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, right, is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after earning a save during a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Braves defeated the Red Sox 5-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Gonna mail this one in this morning. Partially because of the light slate of games yesterday, partially because of a late night for me but mostly because of the Dee Gordon news which has me thinking of a lot of other things I want to write about this AM.

It’s worth noting that the Braves won a game. It comes just ahead of a series at Wrigley against the Cubs, so the winning streak will likely last a single day, but the 2016 Braves have to take what they can get.

The Marlins had a notable night outside the Gordon news too, finishing off a sweep of the Dodgers, which had to make Don Mattingly happy. For what it’s worth, Gordon singled in a run and then came around to score in the seventh. His RBI tied it and the run he scored ended up being the one necessary for the Marlins’ margin of victory. That means nothing, but you know some jackwagons are gonna make a big deal out of that and I figured I’d get ahead of the jackwagons and note that, yes, Gordon and the Marlins knew what was coming before it was announced because that’s how the appeals process works, but no, it makes no difference, because that’s how the appeals process works.

Anyway: Here are the rest of the scores:

Tigers 7, Athletics 3
Cubs 7, Brewers 2
Phillies 3, Nationals 0
Orioles 10, White Sox 2
Braves 5, Red Sox 3
Diamondbacks 3, Cardinals 0
Marlins 5, Dodgers 3
Pirates vs. Rockies — POSTPONED
: In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand. And an aching in my heart, and my pockets full of sand. I’m a long way from home, and I miss my loved one so. In the early morning rain with no place to go.

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs

deegordon
Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — Dee Gordon has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after the Miami Marlins second baseman tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Gordon tested positive for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, MLB said in a release after the Marlins’ 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

The fleet-footed Gordon won the National League batting title by hitting .333 last season and signed a $50 million, 5-year deal with Miami in January. He’s made two All-Star teams in his six seasons and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at second base last year.

Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, had a key hit in Miami’s win over the Dodgers on Thursday. He’s batting .266 with six stolen bases this season.

Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Marlins president David Samson said. “That said, I don’t like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It’s a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day.

“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization. But in the interim period, we expect him, and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”

Devon Travis will start taking at-bats in extended spring training

Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis hits a RBI double to center field against the Tampa Bay Rays during third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 15, 2015 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)  MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis underwent left shoulder surgery last September. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm caught up with Jays head athletic trainer George Poulis for updates on several injured players, including Travis. Here’s what Poulis had to say about Travis:

“He’s going to get some live at-bats with the extended team down in Florida on Friday. Big step for him, he’s very excited, he’s doing great, and we’re very optimistic, but no timeline right now on his return. We’re just going day by day, step by step.

“When you have something like that, it continues to heal even when you’re playing. We’re just trying to acclimate him and condition him to withstand all of the stress that he’s going to put on his shoulder … He won’t play in the field right now. We’ll mix that in, as well, but right now he’s just going to get some at-bats.”

The key phrase, of course, is “no timetable”. The second baseman’s rehab has gone slower than expected. Getting into some extended spring training games, though, signals progress.

Travis, 25, broke out last season, hitting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances last season. The Jays have had Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney handle second base duties this year, but their aggregate .560 OPS is the worst mark in the American League.