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Bill Buckner earns redemption, and some laughs along the way

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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.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.