“”If you love baseball, you loved Ron Santo”

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They held Ron Santo’s memorial service in Chicago today. Bud Selig spoke. Tom Haudricort transcribed his remarks. In addition to the words in that headline, he  included a great anecdote about the man:

“The move of the Milwaukee Braves to Atlanta in the mid-1960s left a void in the lives of everyone in my family. We filled that void with the Chicago Cubs, and no player embodied Cubs’ baseball more than their great fielding, power-hitting third baseman, Ron Santo. He played with unbridled enthusiasm, relentless energy and a tremendous heart.

“My daughter, Wendy, was a youngster then and she, like many young Cub fans, instantly identified Ron as her favorite player.

“One day, my mother, who was a great baseball fan and also a Ron Santo fan, bumped into Ron at a golf course in Arizona. She told Ron her granddaughter just loved him. Ron smiled, took the cap off his head, signed it and asked my mother to give it to her granddaughter. To Wendy, Ron Santo was elevated from favorite player to hero. In turn, over the years, Ron never failed to ask me about Wendy, and, to this day, Ron’s cap remains one of Wendy’s most prized possessions.”

I slam Selig for his rhetoric quite often, but good on the Commissioner for telling that story. Bud Selig is a lot of things, but I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s a real baseball fan.

Rest in peace, Ron Santo.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.