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HBT at the World Series: Greetings from workout day

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ST. LOUIS — Check me out. A dateline. You know that means things are getting real.

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Greetings from St. Louis, where the World Series is pausing for one day before Games 3, 4 and 5 go down. Today is a workout day for the Cards and Sox. As I write this from the auxiliary press box down the right field line the Cardinals are taking infield, BP and long-tossing as the most eclectic mix of music blasts from the speakers. We’ve gone from Material Issue to Robin Thicke to the Rolling Stones. I don’t know about their fans, but I’ll say the Cardinals have an argument for The Best Music Guys in Baseball. They program workout music the right way.

In a little while the managers and Game 3 starters will be available for interviews. In the meantime I’m wandering, both the city and the ballpark. When I got to town I met up with HBT’s own Drew Silva. I’ve worked with the lad for four and a half years but this was the first time I met him in person. We met near where he lives, a neighborhood called The Hill. Which is far more famous for being the boyhood home of both Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. I’m not sure if Joe got a park named after him, but Yogi did:

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No one goes there anymore, though. It’s too popular.

Across the street from that park is a great sandwich place called Gioia’s Deli. It’s known as “the home of the hot salami,” so naturally Drew and I met there. We’re all about cured meats. Drew suggested the Hill Supreme, which is an off-menu thing. Lots of salami and peppers and stuff. How was it Drew?

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I’ll take that as a “good.”

On to the park, where I hung around the team store and walked around the grounds.  The Cardinals have lots of statues of former greats. No Mark McGwire on the grounds, of course, even though the statue has been made and is sitting in a warehouse someplace. They also don’t have an Andy Benes statue. It’s like they just hate their history or something. Of course there’s this guy:

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You know, if a pigeon pooped on that statue, it’d come to life, chase him around and tackle him. That’s the way they did it back in his day.

I ducked into the team store, where I saw the most terrifying thing ever. This is suspended from the ceiling:

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Where is your god now? It’s like a scene cut from the “Flash Gordon” movie except without any sweet jams from Queen in the background. Pure nightmare fuel.  After that I needed a palate cleanser:

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Ahhh. Much better. Thank you, Stan.

Into the park and watching some warmups where I was happy to run into Jonny Miller of WBZ radio in Boston, who will be in the next suite over from me here in St. Louis. Miller, longtime readers will recall, once thought I was pathetic because I messed up his scorecard down at a spring training game in Fort Myers. I reminded him of that. He didn’t remember. Then I told him it was the day Nomar Garciaparra announced his retirement. Then it clicked. “Ah, I didn’t care,” he told me today. “You should know how to keep score better, though.  You’re a baseball writer for crying out loud.”  Yes, sir.  I really love that guy.

Anyway, off to listen to managers spout cliches. Should be fun.  Be sure to keep checking back to HBT all weekend as I report from St. Louis and Games 3, 4 and 5!

 

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.