That Mitch Albom-penned Ernie Harwell play is actually happening

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When it was first announced last fall I hoped it was like one of the many projects we hear about but which never come to fruition.  But no, it appears that Mitch Albom’s play about Ernie Harwell is actually happening.  It will officially be announced tomorrow, including introductions of the actor playing Harwell and some remarks by Albom himself.  The play’s description from the production company:

“Ernie” features a two person cast portraying “Ernie” and the “Boy”, a teenager who, on the night Ernie comes to Comerica Park to say goodbye to the fans, encounters his hero and asks him to give a very special broadcast – the broadcast of his life. The play will feature actual footage from historic baseball moments, famous Tigers players and Harwell calls.

Like I said last fall, I think a play about Ernie Harwell could be pretty cool. I just think that Mitch Albom is probably the least-equipped person on he planet to do it.  Albom’s famous books traffic in easy sentimentality and emotional manipulation. They’re feature elderly people who either behave like children or some kind of sage gurus and nothing in between.  His sports writing, while once somewhat fresh back before most of you reading this were born, is so hacky that hacks look at it and say “damn, that guy’s a hack.”  The idea of letting Albom combine is twisted sense of mortality and aging and sports in the form of an Ernie Harwell piece borders on the criminal.

Given that, in contrast to Albom’s works, Harwell was all about understatement, humility, self-deprecation and grace, I feel safe in saying that it’s not exactly a match.

(thanks to Brian Murphy for the link)

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.