Happy 39th anniversary, Ten Cent Beer Night!

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I memorialize this every year because, man, why wouldn’t you? But today is the 39th anniversary of Ten Cent Beer Night. The Cleveland Indians’ promotion that gave unhappy people unlimited quantities of nearly-free alcohol and, amazingly, turned into utter chaos.

Paul Jackson’s 2008 story remains the gold standard on Ten Cent Beer Night, giving us the background of how it went down and why Cleveland in 1974 was the perfect time and place for that to turn into the mess it became.

I still think the biggest eye-opener of the whole thing was just how different the ballpark environment was in 1974 vs. the environment of today. Ballparks back then had turned into rowdy, drunken places where people simply didn’t want to take their families. While some argue today that it was a better time for baseball, citing national TV ratings and the place baseball still held in the national consciousness, go back and look at the attendance figures of the early-to-mid 70s to see just how marginal live baseball was in most cities.

A reason why? Mike Hargrove was nearly brained by an empty gallon-jug of Thunderbird early in the game. This was BEFORE THE ACTUAL RIOT.  These days no one would be able to get such a thing into a ballpark, let alone drink it undetected. And if it was thrown onto the field there would likely be a stoppage in play and possibly a suspended game. The person who threw it would be pointed out by near-by fans and, at worst, we’d get a YouTube video of his arrest because such a thing would be eye-popping indeed.  In 1974? Well, just something that might happen.

It’s a way better ballpark experience today than it was back in the so-called good old days. And the farther we get from those good old days, the more stark that distinction becomes.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.