Shelley Duncan, Austin Kearns sign with the Indians

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Shelley Duncan would have probably been a nice addition to any number of teams last year, but he had the misfortune of being one of the few — the Yankees — that had absolutely no use for him. So he ended up sitting in Scranton last season, where he hit 30 homers.

Now he’s going to a team — the Indians — who could definitely use an inexpensive outfielder with some pop.  The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it’s likely a minor league deal.

Duncan hasn’t shown much in the majors — .219/.290/.411 in 163 plate appearances — but In nine minor league seasons, he’s a career .258/.345/.479 hitter with 170 home runs and 599 RBIs in 905 games. Last year his AAA OBP was .370.  Smart pickup by Cleveland.

The Tribe also signed former Red and Nat Austin Kearns as, shockingly, the Nats didn’t want to exercise his $10 million option. Back in the day I took all kinds of heat for being the only blogger on the planet to defend the Reds for trading him to the Nats.  Now who’s laughing?

Well, not me, because Gary Majewski sucked too, but I think it’s fair to say that the Reds got more out of Billy Bray and will get more out of Daryl Thompson than the Nats ever got out of Kearns and Lopez.

Kirk Gibson home run happened 30 years ago

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With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.

Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.

All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.

For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.

But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: