The late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti once wrote that baseball “. . . breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” That bit, which is widely quoted, came in his essay “The Green Fields of the Mind.” People tend not to quote much of the rest of that piece, but almost everyone knows the stuff about baseball breaking your heart.
That essay was inspired by the final day of the 1977 season when Giamatti’s Red Sox saw their summer end as the Yankees sat at home, once again preparing for the playoffs and eventual World Series glory. It’s a testament, then, to once ubiquitous Red Sox failure in the shadow of once ubiquitous Yankees glory.
That script has changed over the years, of course, as Boston has won three World Series and the Yankees have scuffled and tried to rebuild on the fly of late. This year the Yankees have been surprisingly successful, however, with that rebuild bearing earlier-than-expected fruit. The Yankees hosted the Red Sox this weekend, trailing Boston in the standings, but hopeful.
Last night New York had a chance to win the rubber match of the series. They took a 2-1 lead on a Todd Frazier sac fly in the eighth and, in the ninth, brought in fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman struck out Hanley Ramirez on three pitches when in stepped rookie Rafael Devers, who himself went down 1-2 to Chapman. The excitement in Yankee Stadium was palpable. Chapman was about to strike out Devers for out number two and then he’d no doubt get out number three to secure the Yankees victory.
Let’s watch how excited the fans were as Chapman prepared to put away Devers:
Oops. Devers homered, sending the games to extra innings where the Sox would eventually win.
This poor man, whoever he is, now knows that “. . . it breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” Even Yankees fans’ hearts.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.