Nelson Cruz home run

The memorable homers I missed

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As I suspected, I missed the most memorable home runs by a number of teams yesterday.  Here, based on reader feedback, are the most egregious oversights and a few other random observations:

Yankees

There wasn’t strong dissent here, probably because there was so much to choose from, but there were some interesting alternative suggestions. One person mentioned one I hadn’t considered: Chris Chambliss’ homer in the 1976 ALCS that killed the Royals.  The rationale: it was a bigger “we’re back” moment than Reggie’s World Series homers in 1977.  Interesting choice. I don’t agree with it, but interesting.

Red Sox

No super-strong opposition to the Fisk homer, but some people found the Bernie Carbo homer from earlier in Game Six more of a big deal as it happened. Again, respect for Carbo’s shot, but I’m staying with Fisk.

Blue Jays

There were a surprising number of Jays fans who contend that Roberto Alomar’s homer off Dennis Eckersley in the 1992 ALCS was a way bigger deal than Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series game-winner. The thinking is that Alomar’s was an exorcism home run, symbolically casting out the demons of the Jays’ 1980s failures. This was a recurring theme in the criticisms of my choices — homers that meant for to a team’s fans based on past history than for the actual moment itself — and I suppose I understand it because, like I said yesterday, this stuff is subjective.  But to the non-hardcore Jays fans, Alomar’s doesn’t register twenty years like it did at the time. Hard to beat a walkoff World Series shot.

Rays

This one was a pure miss. Almost everyone says it was Dan Johnson’s big homer to fend off the Red Sox in the heat of the 2008 playoff race was the biggest. I have to agree.

White Sox

Another pure miss. There are two bigger homers than that Geoff Blum one I cited, both in Game Two of the 2005 Series: Paul Konerko’s grand slam and Scott Podsednik’s game-winner.  All of the memorable White Sox homers are detailed by Brett Ballantini over at CSN Chicago.

Indians

Another monster whiff on my part. As Vince Grzegorek noted, there are many candidates bigger — or at least way more recent — than Ken Kelner’s 1948 shot: Tony Pena’s shot in Game One of the 1995 ALDS against the Red Sox and, later in that game, Albert Belle’s famous bicep-flexing after he hit a homer in the 11th and the Sox had his bat confiscated. But the biggest was probably Sandy Alomar’s homer off Mariano Rivera in the 1997 ALDS.

Rangers

Nelson Cruz’s shot in Game Six of last year’s ALCS, which put a dagger in the Yankees. Just plum forgot about it, which makes me wonder about my short term memory.

Athletics

A lot of people want to go with Jose Canseco’s moon shot into the eleventeenth deck of the Sky Dome or Mark McGwire’s game-winning solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1988 World Series.

Phillies

I figured that if I got this one wrong that I’d hear holy hell about it, what with the belief among Phillies fans that I hate them and everything they stand for. Yet there were only a couple of people who disagreed with Dick Sisler’s 1950 pennant-clinching shot.  Those couple of people have a pretty good argument, though, inasmuch as their suggestion — Mike Schmidt’s blast in the top of the 11th on the second-to-last day of the 1980 season, securing the NL East title over the Expos — was tough stuff. And has the benefit of actually being remembered by a decent number of living people.

Nationals

Everyone who had an opinion said it was Ryan Zimmerman’s walkoff homer to beat the Braves on the debut night of Nationals Park a couple of years ago. Given that I was actually watching this game and cursing the television after it happened, you’d think I would have remembered it.

Cardinals

I didn’t get this one wrong — Ozzie Smith’s was the best — but I was surprised at how many people want to cite the Pujols-off-Lidge shot in the 2005 playoffs. Well, sorry. Great homer. A defining moment in a great career. But it is dwarfed by Smith’s on sheer WTF-ness alone.

Padres

People are way more enamored with Steve Garvey’s homer in Game Two of the 1984 NLCS, and I have to agree, I totally blew that one. But in my defense, I do like to write the name “Kurt Bevacqua.”

I think that’s it.  On everything else I believe that there are either (a) some disagreements but not so great to make me change my mind; or (b) no disagreement whatsoever.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.