The Best: The Cards’ uniforms are all about process of elimination: they adopted the two birds on the seesaw look in 1922, and it’s pretty choice. No design before that look or after it without the seesaw (and there were a few before it took firm hold) can qualify as the best. They switched from white hats to navy hats in 1940 — the red hats we see them in at home now didn’t come into play until 1964 — and the navy hats are pretty sweet themselves. I kind of like the red-at-home, navy-on-the-road thing. That disappeared after one season, as they abandoned the blue caps in 1965, and didn’t return until 1992. So, my favorite Cards uniforms have to be either 1964 or 1992-through today. During that latter period they’ve used red shoes on occasion, and I hate those, so some year with the black shoes both at home and on the road have to win. Let’s just call it 1964 to be safe.
The Worst: I have this awesome poster hanging up in my office — and I had it hanging up in my room when I was a kid — with all of the covers of the World Series programs from 1903 through 1981. It was a ballpark giveaway, and it’s really important to me for a lot of reasons. I learned a lot of baseball history just looking at that astonishing old poster, and one of the things I learned was that the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals played in a ton of World Series. Without checking, I believe that they’re the top four pennant winners. Anyway, for this reason, I’ve always had it in my head that they’re the league’s truly classic teams. I know this is subjective, but it’s how it works in my brain. Of those classic teams the 1970s Cardinals were the only ones who gave in and wore blue roadies. I know it was the style at the time. I know in some ways the Giants adopted some worse looks (we’ll get to them tomorrow). But seeing the Cardinals in powder blues is just wrong on several levels. It’d be like seeing Humphrey Bogart in a track suit.
Assessment: They’ve ventured into a few more stylistic cul-de-sacs than a lot of the leagues signature franchises, but you really can’t go wrong in a uniform with birds playing seesaw on a baseball bat.
Horrible news: Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash off of Miami Beach late last night.
No details have been released yet, apart from the fact that Fernandez was one of three people killed. The Marlins have issued a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, stating that the organization is devastated and that their thoughts and prayers were with Fernandez’s family. Today’s Marlins game against the Braves has been canceled.
Fernandez was only 24 years old. Though only in his fourth season in the majors, he was easily one of the best and most exciting pitchers in the game. In his four seasons he won 38 games and posted a fantastic ERA of 2.58 while striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. He was an electric presence on the mound and was poised to become one of baseball’s most highly-paid and entertaining superstars.
His baseball exploits seem trivial now, however. His loss at such a young age, tragic. Our thoughts today are with Fernandez’s family, the Marlins organization and those who knew and loved him.
Another day, another division title in the bag. The Nationals coasted to a 6-1 finish over the Pirates on Saturday evening; coupled with a Mets’ loss later that night, the NL East title was theirs for the third time since 2012.
The Nationals put up a three-spot in the first and fourth innings, scoring five of six runs on productive outs while Washington starter Joe Ross tossed 2 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in his second start off the disabled list. Prior to the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed reluctant to delegate a set number of pitches to the right-hander, opting instead to base Ross’s workload on his performance.
Washington’s bullpen carried the team the rest of the way, combining for 6 ⅓ scoreless frames to preserve their five-run lead. When Anthony Rendon snared a liner from Andrew McCutchen to end the game, all eyes turned to the clubhouse TVs:
Murphy had sufficient cause for worry: After trailing 10-0 through four innings, the Mets returned with an eight-run drive that culminated with Jay Bruce‘s solo shot in the ninth inning. Had Bruce hit the home run after Philadelphia closer Michael Mariot issued a pair of walks, and not before, the Mets would have edged out the Phillies, 11-10. Instead, their late-game rally ended on a fastball down the middle, and the Phillies’ 70th victory confirmed the Nats’ place atop the NL East.
While Max Scherzer donned his two-toned goggles and Bryce Harper braved the champagne showers in U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s swim cap, Baker was already thinking about Sunday’s start. Against the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, Baker announced his plans to start 24-year-old A.J. Cole, whose seven starts have yielded a 4.68 ERA and 0.2 fWAR in 32 ⅔ innings this year.
Cole hasn’t displayed the sharpest stuff in his sophomore season, touting a high 3.03 BB/9 and 1.93 HR/9, but with the division locked down and the Cubs in sole possession of home field advantage through the NLCS, the Nationals have bigger concerns as the playoffs draw near.