Awful news from Alex Remington, who has become the caretaker of Mac Thomason’s Braves Journal. Mac has been moved to hospice. Nothing in life is certain, but it seems like Mac’s years-long battle with cancer is nearing its end.
I wrote about Mac last October when his prognosis became bleak and he set off from his home in Alabama to go to Philadelphia for experimental treatment. Always one to (jokingly) hate on anything and everything that is not the Atlanta Braves, I’m sure Mac has felt no small amount of irony being in Philly all of this time. After all, he taught me everything I know about Philly trolling. I force it, but for him it was effortless. Like this sort of thing, from the beginning of some random series against the Phillies sometime in the past few years:
“Philadelphia, known as “The City of Brotherly Love” ever since Benjamin Franklin invented sarcasm in 1767, is the largest city in Pennsylvania and a suburb of New York.”
Always droll and always cranky. And his readers love him for it.
There’s no way I’m doing what I do today if it weren’t for Mac. I had let my baseball fandom wane a great bit by the time I stumbled over Braves Journal. He allowed me to catch up when life seemed too busy for baseball, and eventually it became so enjoyable catching up over at Braves Journal each day I made the time for it. All because a university librarian from Alabama had nothing better to do with his nights than watch every single Braves game and recap it. And yeah, I pretty much ripped off the tone of his recaps for “And That Happened.”
Here’s hoping Mac’s final days, if indeed these are his final days, are comfortable and peaceful. Thanks for your inspiration, Mac.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.