Jordany Valdespin’s first homer of 2013 was memorable; he delivered a grand slam off Josh Wall in the bottom of the 10th to give the Mets a 7-3 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday.
It was the second walkoff slam of the year, with Baltimore’s Matt Wieters collecting the other.
Valdespin, who earlier entered the game as a pinch-hitter, got his chance to play hero after David Wright singled in Mike Baxter to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. That gave Dodgers closer Brandon League his first blown save.
The homer was Valdespin’s ninth in 233 major league at-bats. He’s started just seven games for the Mets this season, as manager Terry Collins hasn’t quite figured out how best to use him yet. Valdespin, primarily a second baseman in the minors, opened the spring playing only the infield. However, during April, he’s made all of his starts in the outfield and has yet to play an inning in the infield.
For the Dodgers, it was a tough loss, yet it came with a couple of encouraging signs. Ted Lilly, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since shoulder surgery last May, held the Mets to one run over five innings in his 2013 debut. Also, the struggling Matt Kemp hit his first homer, a two-run shot off Matt Harvey. It was just the second homer surrendered by Harvey this season.
There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.
The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.
I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.
But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.
Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was arrested on Friday for driving while intoxicated (DWI). According to a report from WFAA-TV in Dallas, Jeffress changed lanes without signaling and almost hit a car. While he was undergoing sobriety tests, he could not keep his balance or stand on one leg. His blood-alcohol content registered at .115.
Major League Baseball has opted not to suspend Jeffress as he has voluntarily chosen to check into an inpatient rehabilitation clinic, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. He’s expected to spend about a month at the clinic, which is based in Houston. There is still a possibility Jeffress can rejoin the Rangers in time for the postseason.
Jeffress issued a statement, which Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided:
This is not the first time Jeffress has had trouble with substance abuse. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, which was marijuana. He tested positive again in June 2009 and was suspended 100 games. It was later revealed that Jeffress suffers from juvenile epilepsy and he was self-medicating with marijuana.
Hopefully, his time in rehab helps him recover from substance abuse. Substance abuse is an issue about which people have a shortage of empathy, especially when it comes to celebrities, including athletes.
The Rangers acquired Jeffress along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers at the August 1 trade deadline. They sent prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named to Milwaukee. In nine appearances with the Rangers, Jeffress has a 4.00 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB ratio.