Denny McLain is the best. Yes he won 31 games in 1968 and back-to-back Cy Youngs in ’68 and ’69, but according to a 1970 Sports Illustrated story he also cost the Tigers a pennant in 1967 when, in late September, he suffered broken toes at the hands of bookies to whom he owed $46,000. He was slated to pitch on the final day of the season, pitched ineffectively and the Tigers missed their shot at the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the ’67 pennant.
That was a tough break for Denny. And maybe his side of that story puts his broken toes in a totally different context. But I do know this much: when you have had that story floating around you unchallenged for 40 years, you are not in the position to be calling out someone for letting their team down during the home stretch. Almost anyone else can, but not you.
But hey, Denny is nothing if not shameless. Here he is talking to the Free Press about Jhonny Peralta:
“I would love to see him hang in there for the ballclub’s sake,” McLain said in a telephone interview with the Free Press. “He is more concerned with next year, starting clean, rather than helping the club this year. Everything’s about him. It’s not about the team. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s not about the World Series. It’s pure selfishness.”
I’ll give McLain credit for later saying that Peralta might be a good kid who took a wrong turn — McLain knows an awful lot about that — but man, I can’t think of anyone in less of a position to call out Peralta for not putting his team first.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.