While it would have been nice to do it while he was alive, the Tigers are nonetheless doing the right thing and are retiring Sparky Anderson’s number before Sunday’s game.
The best part of it — and I’m sure it’s no accident — is that they’re doing it with the Diamondbacks in town. The Diamondbacks managed by Kirk Gibson and bench coached by Alan Trammell, who are arguably the two most significant players of Anderson’s run in Detroit. Well, we can add Lou Whitaker to that, but I’m guessing he’ll be there too. No idea about Jack Morris, but I don’t much care for him, so it makes no difference.
In the Detroit Free press today there’s an interview with Gibson, who recounts a great story about an incident in 1983 in which Anderson, trying his best to either motivate or infuriate Gibson — it’s not clear which it is — lined up against the former Michigan State receiver like he was a defensive back and got run over by him. I had never heard it before, but as a kid whose first reading of newspaper sports sections included a healthy dose of stories that could have been headlined “Kirk Gibson: will this jerk football player ever figure out how to play baseball?” it resonates.
And, for no reason, I reprint this picture I took in Arizona during spring training, which is easily my favorite baseball picture I’ve ever taken:
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.