Statues of baseball players: they’re not just the place where you meet your buddy who has the extra ticket or a convenient location for the pigeons to poop. They’re actually becoming an increasingly popular fixture in ballparks, and the New York Times is on it. (They’re always ON IT, actually).
For reasons that I can’t quite explain, but likely having to do with a fear of mortality and all of that, I have never been able to avoid thinking of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” whenever I see a statue of some historical figure. I realize that the idea is to immortalize these men and women and serve as a reminder of their feats, but I always get an image of Earth in the post-Martian invasion, with these statutes consisting of two vast and trunkless legs of stone. Or bronze. Or whatever. It feels like we’re trying too hard to fight against time and deep in my heart, I know we’ll never win.
Sorry. I’ll admit that this is my particular neurosis, so I’ll just move along now.
Less morosely, I found the description of how some of the artists make these ballplayer statues to be quite neat. The examples of those crafted with reference to live models, as opposed to photos, are pretty cool:
Cella supplied a plastic bat for Thomas (White Sox) so he could hold his position, with arms extended. Robin Roberts (Phillies) had turned 80 when he mimicked his pitching style for Frudakis, and Harmon Killebrew (Twins) posed in his 70s for Mack. The son of Richie Ashburn (Phillies) stood in for his deceased father. Mack was driving when he spotted a man with a body shape similar to that of the deceased Kirby Puckett. The stranger became the model for Puckett.
I wonder if the stranger was flattered or insulted. Great ballplayer. Not the best body shape ever, though his statue is rather flattering.
Anyway, neat read.
The Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.
Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.
The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.