Everyone picked the White Sox to finish down in the pack in the AL Central. Jim Leyland, whose Tigers just dropped two of three to Chicago, doesn’t have a very high opinion of the experts. Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com was at U.S. Cellular Field yesterday, and witnessed what he calls “a classic rant” from the Tigers’ skipper:
“The people who made those picks don’t know anything about baseball. Trust me … If they think the Chicago White Sox aren’t going to be in the thick of this, they’re crazy. They don’t know anything about baseball, people making picks like that. They know nothing about baseball. Nothing. Since 2006 when I got here, this has been one of the best teams in the league every year, and they’ll be right there … They picked us fourth last year. We won 95 games, so don’t pay attention to those people. They just make a pick and they talk, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Leyland had better hope he’s wrong about that. Because the closest thing there was to a unanimous pick in baseball this spring was the Tigers winning the division.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.