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.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.

Miguel Sano criticized by his manager for dogging it on a defensive play

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Sal Perez of the Royals had a nice night last night, going 5-for-5. One of those five hits was a triple. But it maybe didn’t have to be a triple, as Perez’s hit to right field went over the head of Miguel Sano and off the wall, bouncing back toward the infield.

Sano is no one’s idea of a gold glover so getting on him for not catching a ball at the wall is only going to have so much of an effect. But Twins manager Paul Molitor was rightly upset, it would seem, for how Sano reacted after the ball bounced off the wall. Specifically: he basically just stopped and watched it roll away as center fielder Danny Santana had to spring over and field it as the slow Perez lumbered around the bases. Molitor:

“I think maybe he assumed that [second baseman Eduardo] Nunez or Danny were going to be in better position after he positioned himself close to the wall to make the catch,” Molitor said. “But you want him to go for the ball even if you think there’s somebody else to help you out. Sometimes you get caught assuming out there and it doesn’t look too good.”

You can watch the play below. It starts at around the :37 second mark and is Perez’s third hit in the sequence:

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith to have Tommy John surgery

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09:  Carson Smith #39 of the Boston Red Sox looks on in the seventh inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on May 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Last season Carson Smith was an effective and durable relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, appearing in 70 games. In the offseason the Red Sox traded for him and Roenis Elias in exchange for Jonathan Aro and Wade Miley. This year Smith has appeared in just three games. And he will appear in no more as the Red Sox just announced that he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery today.

Smith last appeared in a game ten days ago and, until today, it was believed that his injury was minor, like the flexor strain injury he sustained in spring training. Sadly, the news was much worse.

Bill “Spaceman” Lee is running for governor of Vermont

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Bill Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 through 1978 and for the Montreal Expos from 1979 through 1982. He’s far better known, however, for being a weirdo, in the best sense of the term. He was outspoken and controversial and funny and aggravating and above all else his own dude.

His most famous comment as a player was when he said that he sprinkled marijuana on his pancakes in order to immunize him from Boston bus fumes as he jogged to Fenway Park. Which is patently silly, as everyone knowns you can’t just sprinkle it. You gotta make butter out of the stuff and spread it on the pancakes. Or so I’m told.

In recent years Lee has alternated gimmicky and celebrity baseball appearances with political aspirations. His political aspirations, of course, have never been conventional either. In 1987, for example, he had announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party. Which would’ve been a neat trick as it was a Canadian political party. Still, we could’ve used it here, as its platform was fairly intriguing. The Rhinoceroses advocated, among other things, repealing the law of gravity, legalizing all drugs, privatizing Tim Hortons and giving a rhinoceros for every Canadian Citizen.

That campaign didn’t work out for Lee, sadly, but he is undeterred. And now he plans to run for office again. Governor of Vermont, to be specific. And he plans to soak the rich:

Now, he’s throwing his hat into the race to be Vermont’s next governor shaking off campaign contributions and decrying wealth inequality.

“You get what you pay for, if you want change, you vote for Sanders or me. I’m Bernie-heavy, I’m not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie,” said Lee. “If you want to see money come down from the 2 percent, we’re going to need umbrellas when I’m elected, because it’s going to be raining dollars,” he said.

This is no Rhinoceros Party joke, though. He’s a member of the Liberty Union party, which is where Bernie Sanders got his start. And his platform — legalization and taxation of pot in Vermont, single-payer health care, paid family leave — are all things which have no small constituency in a liberal state like Vermont.

Oh, he has one other platform plank: bringing the Expos back to Montreal. That may be a bit tougher for the governor of Vermont to do, but we’ll probably see some form of New Expos in Montreal in the next decade or so, and Lee will be proven to be on the right side of history. And that’s better than a lot of our politicians can say, right?