Bill Buckner earns redemption, and some laughs along the way


Bill Buckner will always be remembered for that one moment in the 1986 World Series. You know the one.

He’s been tormented by the play for years, and for the most part has avoided talking about it. Who would have thought that Larry David, a New York Yankees fan, would come and make everything right?

David talked Buckner into appearing on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in an episode that aired on Sunday. In the first key scene, David tosses a baseball signed by Mookie Wilson to Buckner, who – naturally — lets it skip off his hands and out a window. In the end, though, Buckner redeems himself by safely catching a baby that is tossed from a burning building.

You can watch the drop here, and the catch here.

Buckner, who is currently the manager of the Brockton Rox, talked about the show with Dan Patrick, saying “I thought the whole thing was hilarious.” (Watch video above)

He also answered questions about why he did the show (“His whole thing for doing the show was to try to make me look good”), and explained that the baby-catching scene took six hours to shoot because of the difficulties of getting the baby to “land in the right spot” — not because he couldn’t catch it.

Asked if he could have done the show 10 years ago, Buckner said “Probably not. Things kind of changed for me both personally and publicly. Everything’s fine. I’m happy. Life’s good.”

Good for Bill Buckner. Being on that show is probably the best thing he could have done from a public perception standpoint. There is no way he will ever escape the 1986 World Series, but now he will also be remembered as a pretty funny guy who can poke fun at himself — as well as a damn fine major leaguer with more than 2,700 hits over 22 seasons.

As for Larry David, perhaps the next call he should make is to Steve Bartman. Hmm?

H/T to Rick Chandler, who had an early take a couple days ago.

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Lloyd McClendon will return as Tigers’ hitting coach in 2017

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 05:  Manager Lloyd McClendon #21 of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the six inning at O.co Coliseum on July 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.

McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.