A letter Bud Selig recently wrote is making the rounds this morning. Why? Because in it he says “I really believe that Abner Doubleday is the ‘Father of Baseball,'” and makes reference to “some historians who would dispute this though.” You can see a copy of it over at Deadspin.
Of course, the story of Abner Doubleday creating baseball has been conclusively proven to be hogwash. It was a finding by a committee that was tasked by one A.G. Spalding to find that very thing in the early 20th Century. See, it had become known that baseball was really just an evolution of any number of British sports such as cricket, rounders and bat and trap, and in those heady, jingoistic days, it just would not do to have our National Pastime be the bastard child of a bunch of limey schoolyard games. Better to create a story in which a Civil War general created it in a pastoral setting rather than to have had it develop over several messy decades among filthy Irishman kicking around New York City slums.
You’d figure Bud would know that. But then again, you’d figure that he’d realize that eight playoff teams were enough by now too. Or that maybe the umpires could use some help on close calls. Or that it doesn’t take two years for a committee of experts to figure out if it’s better for the Athletics to play in their empty, awful stadium in Oakland or to move into a nice post one in San Jose.
But really, I don’t think Selig is that dense. He can’t be to have gotten where he’s gotten in life. The fact is, he’s a politician. He’s someone who would do anything to avoid taking a definitive stance on an issue when someone — say, someone who wrote him a letter and whose own feelings on a matter are less than clear — asked him to. Because the last thing he’d want to do is to upset someone.
And, as is usually the case, his efforts to avoid upsetting someone have upset everyone.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.