Treasure

Baseball’s lost treasures

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My brother used to like to go through old junkyards, because he was convinced that if he looked under the seats of an old rusted out junker he’d find a 1952 Mickey Mantle card or something. I used to tell him he was crazy, and maybe he was. But he was adamant that if you looked hard enough through junk, you’d eventually find treasure. I don’t know if he ever will, but you have to admire his optimism.

And maybe it’s warranted optimism. Because a lot of baseball memorabilia, knickknacks, oddities and collectibles have basically vanished. Today at Fox’s JABO, Erik Malinowski writes about several of them that have simply vanished. Things like The homer run ball Bill Mazerowski hit in the 1960s World Series. Joe Jackson’s admission in the Black Sox scandal. Even a giant statue of Babe Ruth:

It is these little moments, the moments that go beyond sheer happenstance and more toward outright serendipity, that make the history of baseball so richly compelling. And when you stop and consider that there is a whole other layer of lost knowledge that doesn’t make it into most of the mainstream books, that’s when you realize that any time you open a dusty trunk and rummage through a backwoods yard sale, there’s always that one-in-a-million chance you’ll stumble upon something greater.

Maybe the Ruth statue wouldn’t fit in a dusty trunk or under the seats of a car in a junkyard, but the idea still holds. Good read.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.