Don't be fooled: Lou Gehrig cared about the records

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Keeping with this morning’s historical theme, we turn to Derek Jeter’s imminent eclipsing of Lou Gehrig’s Yankees hit record (he was 0-4 yesterday).  A great record to be sure, currently held by a great man.  So great, in fact, that as is often the case, people seem to want to make him greater than maybe he really was.  Some interesting accuracy from a guy who literally wrote the book on Gehrig:

He was not universally beloved. Some reporters found him dull. Children
in the Bronx complained that he would sneak in and out of Yankee Stadium 
to avoid signing autographs. He almost never picked up a dinner tab or
tipped a delivery boy. Even some of his teammates thought he could have
been friendlier. (He invited only one Yankee, Bill Dickey, to his wedding) . . .

. . . Some of the writers suggested that Gehrig was such a stoic that he did
not care about records. Whenever Gehrig approached or set a record,
reporters pounding at their portable typewriters made it sound as if
the shy slugger was unaware or unconcerned with the feat. When Gehrig and Babe Ruth battled in 1927 for the single-season home
run record, the writers described it as a friendly contest. But Gehrig took those things seriously, especially when Ruth was involved.

The author of the piece isn’t slamming Gehrig. He’s just showing that he was human as opposed to the selflessly stoic and godlike figure he’s so frequently made out to be.

Which, in my mind, makes him more interesting and no less great.  I’ve always thought the same thing applied to Derek Jeter too.

(Thanks to YankeeFan Len for the link)

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.