Frank Viola is going to work for the Mets

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Frank Viola — the best pitcher in the history of Long Island —  was all over the lobby down at the Winter Meetings last month.  I figured it was just because he lives down in Florida and was meeting and greeting, but maybe he was there on the make for a job. He just got one:  he’s been named the pitching coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Class A team.  This is my favorite part of the story:

In addition to Viola and Backman, former Mets players Tim Teufel, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling all have jobs in the organization or with the team-owned SNY cable network.

I know Viola wasn’t with the team then, but that factoid made me go back and check out the 1986 Mets’ Baseball-Reference page.  One of my favorite time wasters is to figure out who the most obscure and/or most unexpected player to actually pitch an inning or make a plate appearance for a famous team.  Call them the Eddie Matthews All-Stars if you will.  It can be a Hall of Famer who made an otherwise unmemorable cameo with a World Series team like Matthews did with the 1968 Tigers. It can be some random former prospect for a team you root for who somehow stumbled forward several years to pinch hit five times for a winner after you figured he was selling cars for a living.

I think my vote for the 1986 Mets was former Tiger jack-of-all-trades, Tim Corcoran, who used to get talked up a bit in late 70s Tigers publications.  There’s almost always one.

None of this has anything to do with Frank Viola, of course. But that’s how my mind works when it’s the offseason and nothin’ is going on.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.