After five years, Johnny Cueto finally has an extra-base hit

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Reds starter Johnny Cueto delivered a ground rule double in the third inning Sunday, giving him his first extra-base hit in his 217th major league at-bat.

Cueto entered the day with a lifetime .088/.124/.088 line and four RBI in 216 at-bats. He was 2-for-24 with 10 strikeouts this season.

Apparently, the rare need for him to run the bases exhausted him; he had water brought to the mound for him while he was working in the fourth.

Cueto continued to pitch well afterwards, though. He allowed just one run in seven innings against the Mets to improve to 8-3 on the season.

Cueto’s .088 slugging percentage at the beginning of the day was the 11th lowest for anyone with at least 200 career plate appearances (since 1900). The all-time low mark belonged to Rob Herbel, a 1960’s pitcher who hit .029/.065/.034 in 206 at-bats. Among the more recent pitchers to fare worse than Cueto were Brian Moehler (.045/.098/.054 in 202 AB) and Ben Sheets (.078/.115/.085 in 436 AB).

The Yankees stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”

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The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.

Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!

Oh, and this was not the first time that the Yankees had to make this kind of call. Ten years ago they fired Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who used to sing the song at the ballpark during the postseason, after he made anti-Semitic remarks. Precedent, baby.

Anyway, I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”

If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.