20 years ago today: The California Angels bus crash

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Youngins won’t remember this, but on this day in 1992 the California Angels’ team bus was involved in a nasty crash. They were on their way to the airport on their offday following a series against the Yankees in New York when it overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Chris Jaffe has a column up about it today over at The Hardball Times. No one died, but …

But one man unquestionably had it the worst of all, manager Buck Rodgers. He damaged a knee and rib cage, and most of all had a badly broken elbow, which was broken in multiple places. The doctor who examined Rodgers said he looked like a post-fall Humpty Dumpty.

Rodgers would have to miss much of the season. He was confined to a wheelchair for a time due to his knee, and between that and his elbow, he didn’t return for over three months.

I know it is either taboo to mention it because it’s so awful or cliche to mention it since George talked about it on “Seinfeld” once, but major league baseball teams do an awful lot of travelling. We’re fortunate there hasn’t been more incidents such as these, or worse.

The Angels, who had lost three straight just before the accident, took a while to recover. They lost 15 of their first 18 after the accident, and they never really bounced back. Rodgers did return to the dugout on Aug. 28, but the season was a lost cause by then.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.