Lou Whitaker

Lou Whitaker, nachos, tiger paw carpet and other stuff I saw in Lakeland

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LAKELAND, FLORIDA — After clubhouses close I usually wander around and take pictures of people without asking. Then I eat ballpark food. It’s a totally healthy way to live life. Here’s some of the random things I saw while I was waiting for the game to start.

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Hey, it’s should-be-Hall-of-Famer Lou Whitaker! Where are you going, Lou?

“Gonna go beat up Jose Iglesias, take back my number 1 jersey and demand the Tigers retire it!”

“Wow, really, Lou?”

“No, Craig. That’s you projecting again and putting imaginary words in my mouth. Let it go, dude. You were, like, eight years old. You have kids for Christ’s sake. Grow up.”

“OK, Lou.” [winks, assuming that’s code from Whitaker for me to go beat up Iglesias and take the number. We will right all the wrongs, Lou. You and me together].

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Saw this kid on the berm during Tigers BP. Most of the people out there were 250 pound guys in their 30s or older, killing each other for baseballs. It was ugly. People were literally getting bloodied. Then this kid wades in. Forty-five pounds soaking wet, but wearing a beat-up Gibson jersey and not afraid of anything. I didn’t see him get a ball, but I wouldn’t bet against him out-fighting some of those lugs.

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During this game, I’ve seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me, and in the way I feel about you. In here, there were two guys killing each other, but I guess that’s better than twenty million. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!

[loud applause, even by the Politburo]

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You all know my favorite thing to do is to take pictures of equipment bags on the field before games. Well, get this: no bags ANYWHERE on this field today. None. I had to settle for taking pictures of these balls, all by themselves. Really, this trip is NOT starting out well. Hoping I have better luck in Tampa tomorrow.

Oh, one pic I took before the clubhouses closed. But I’m risking my credential posting this.

You’re not technically allowed to take pictures in the clubhouse, but I have decided that the purpose of that rule is to not invade the privacy of players or to reveal the internal working of teams. Which makes total sense. I do not believe, however, that the rule should extend to taking pictures of the sweet, sweet tiger paw carpet in the Tigers clubhouse, which demands documenting or posterity:

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They should license this and sell it to Tigers fans for their man caves. They’d make a mint.

By the way: I’ll cop to the Adidas being mine. In order to protect them I won’t reveal who owns the other shoes, but the dude in the Sauconys is the one who told me it’d probably be OK to take the pic. If I get in trouble, I will throw him under the bus. Just sayin’.

After all of that I needed to replenish nutrients. So I got these:

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The nachos with the pulled pork and jalapeños on them are legit, y’all.

Anyway, that’s that. The game started a few minutes ago. Brian McCann took Max Scherzer out to right field to make it 1-0 Yankees. Torii Hunter acted like he caught the ball at the wall, and it was so successful a deke that McCann actually held up a second between first and second before realizing it was out and kept running. I wonder if McCann is going to get in anyone’s face about that. It’d be pretty cool if he did.

What’s on tap: previewing tonight’s action

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 13:  Julio Urias of the World Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field on July 13, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The big game is in New York, where Julio Urias makes his major league debut against Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets. Urias, 19, has 27 consecutive scoreless innings under his belt. All at Triple-A, of course. The debuts of young pitchers tend not to go too well, but at the very least you’ll see a guy with electric stuff and you’ll be able to say you saw him back when he was just a lad.

Another nice matchup pits Jaime Garcia against Max Scherzer. Garcia has struggled of late but is always capable of a big game. Scherzer has had some of the biggest games of the past couple of years. Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer is another matchup with star power, even if Archer hasn’t lived up to his billing of late. Tanaka has only pitched on game in Tropicana Field but it was a great game, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out eight. He may be the only person alive who likes it there.

Here’s tonight’s slate. And, well, this afternoon’s game in Chicago too:

Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) @ Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester), 2:20 PM EDT, Wrigley Field

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park

Boston Red Sox (Joe Kelly) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT, Rogers Centre

Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright) @ Cleveland Indians (Trevor Bauer), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

Los Angeles Dodgers (Julio Urias) @ New York Mets (Jacob deGrom), 7:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer), 7:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

Miami Marlins (Adam Conley) @ Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez), 7:35 PM EDT, Turner Field

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jonathon Niese) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

Cincinnati Reds (John Lamb) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies), 8:10 PM EDT, Miller Park

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy), 8:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:40 PM EDT, Coors Field

San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT, Chase Field

Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer) @ Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea), 10:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

Houston Astros (Mike Fiers) @ Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker), 10:05 PM EDT, Angel Stadium of Anaheim

The best active players by year of birth

Ichiro Suzuki
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There remains one player in major league baseball who is older than me. One. Bartolo Colon. And he’s only older than me by a couple of months. There is another guy born the same year as me still playing: Ichiro. I’m older than him by a couple of months, but 1973 is still representing. Just barely. It won’t be long now until every single ballplayer is my junior.

Everyone thinks about that from time to time. Our baseball mortality or whatever dramatic thing we want to call it. We all know by now that we’re never gonna make it to the bigs. Most of us knew it when we were still kids. But there is some sort of . . . feeling we all get when we look at a ballplayer who is our age. There’s no element of “I could do that” to it. But maybe a touch of “if things were different, I could’ve been you.” This is much easier for those of us who don’t know how genetics work, of course.

Today Will Leitch of Sports on Earth has a handy post for those of us who think about this stuff. It’s a list of the best baseball players born in each and every year from 1973, when the dinosaurs roamed, until 1996, which will officially be operative this evening as Julio Urias takes the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I hope the list doesn’t depress any of you. If it does, I’ll try to come up with a similar one for cardiologists or research professors or something. A lot of us are still younger than those folks. Even if we have just as much a chance of being them as we have of being the left fielder for the Chicago White Sox or whatever.

Yasiel Puig visits the Statue of Liberty, meets a Yasiel Puig fan

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig reacts in dugout after hitting a RBI sacrifice fly against the San Francisco Giants during fifth inning of a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sunday, March 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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Yasiel Puig is in New York to face the Mets this weekend. Yesterday was a day off so he got to explore New York. You can tell he’s not a New Yorker because he actually went to visit the Statue of Liberty.

I likewise assume that Puig made it to where the boat leaves for Liberty Island with plenty of time to spare, because God knows he’s had a week in which him hustling to make it just in time wasn’t gonna happen.

In other news, Puig made a friend on the boat:

Wade Boggs did not wear his Yankees ring to his number retiring ceremony last night

BOSTON, MA - MAY 26:  Wade Boggs acknowledges the crowd during the retirement of his jersey #26 prior to the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park on May 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The other day we had the non-controversy of Wade Boggs wearing his 1996 World Series ring, which he won with the Yankees, to a ceremony honoring the 1986 Red Sox. Last night, however, Boggs was feted as an individual, with his number 26 being retired at Fenway Park.

It was an emotional night for him. He was visibly choked up and said all sorts of things which clearly showed how much more, at heart, he is a Boston Red Sox legend than he is a legend of either of the other teams for which he played. And he made a comment about the Yankees ring thing too:

He wore his Hall of Fame ring on Thursday.

“I’m proud of it,” Boggs said of the ’96 Yankees’ ring. “But I didn’t feel like it was appropriate today being that it’s my day, it’s my number and everything like that. So I left it off.”

The dude hit .328 for his career and had 3,010 hits despite not even playing a full season until he was 25. He could wear a Little Orphan Annie decoder ring out there and no one would have the right to say boo to him.