The problem with the playoffs is that there’s only, like, one or two games a night and after you talk about them you sort of have to wait around all day for more games.
If you’re like me, you kill that time by reading a bunch of articles in which people who never ever write or even really think much about baseball try to put it into some sort of larger context. Is it still the national pastime? Is it still the American game? Will it still take our people out-of- doors, fill them with oxygen and give them a larger physical stoicism? That sort of thing.
Most of them these days come down on the side of baseball being only slightly more relevant to the American scene than phonograph needles and liberty cabbage because football is rich, modern and savage and all of the the things Americans are in the early 21st century (at least the 1% who control everything anyway). That’s OK. We see what we want to see in these things, and if a lot of people draw such conclusions there’s probably some core truth to it.
Still, I’m a total baseball homer, so I like to see the articles that find some argument for the continued relevance or even the supremacy of baseball. Even if they contain weird comparisons and analogies that distract you from reading the rest of the piece because they’re just so jarring:
Football is more popular and has more money; basketball attracts more young sports fans … Yet baseball’s magic, on view in the playoffs, excites and rejuvenates an angry and dispirited American citizenry as almost nothing else — even killing Osama bin Laden — can.
Got that? Baseball: more uplifting and rejuvenating than a black ops mission designed to terminate an enemy of the state with extreme prejudice.
Ah, who cares? I’ll take it. Score one for baseball!
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.
Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.
Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.
How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.
As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.