As a ballplayer, Mike Flanagan was more of a fuzzy memory to me than a lot of guys of his era and stature. I should have more vivid memories of him pitching for the early 80s Orioles, back when I used to watch Tigers games all the time, but I don’t. I remember Jim Palmer more because he was a bigger name. I even remember Scott McGregor more for some reason. Flanagan was more a name and a baseball card to me.
And that makes me sad today, as I’m reading all of the remembrances of him as both a pitcher and a character. Buster Oleny and Tim Kurkjian each have good ones. Each worth your time for the anecdotes and the obvious affection they had for him. Kurkjian’s is funny and touching, ending with “No one made me laugh like Mike Flanagan. Tonight, he made me cry.”
Reports are that Flanagan committed suicide. How awful it would be if we found out that all of that wry humor about which many of us are first learning was really there to mask pain.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.