Former Red Sox ace Mel Parnell dies of cancer at 89

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Mel Parnell, who spent his entire big-league career with the Red Sox and led the American League in wins with 25 in 1949, passed away Tuesday at age 89 following a long battle with cancer.

Parnell’s 123 wins were the most by a Red Sox left-hander. Besides his 25-win season in 1949, he finished with 21 wins in 1953 and 18 in both 1950 and ’51. Known for his screwball, he hurt his arm in 1954 at age 32 and never pitched another full season, though he did pitch a no-hitter against the White Sox in 1956, his last year in the big leagues.

He talked about the no-hitter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2002:

This is something a pitcher dreams of. You never expect it to happen.

On that particular day, I had a very good screwball. My slider was working good. That gave me pitches that I could work in and out on hitters. I pretty much was able to get the ball right where I wanted it with each pitch, and things fell in line for me.

Parnell, who briefly worked as a Red Sox broadcaster in the 1960s, was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.