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.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.