Francona’s fight with an ump halted for “God Bless America”

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Fun times in the Indians-Red Sox game on Sunday.

In the seventh inning, Michael Bourn was thrown out stealing to end the top half. He argued with the second base umpire, Tom Hallion. Then Terry Francona came out to argue too. Paul Hoynes describes what happened just as he was getting into it:

Suddenly, Francona stepped back, took his hat off and put his hand over his heart as “God Bless America” was being sung. Quickly, Bourn and Hallion followed his cue, turning toward the flag in center field … Said Francona, “I told Tom Hallion, ‘I came out here to yell at you and now I’ve got to honor America with you.'”

First time “God Bless America” has been useful at a baseball game in about a decade.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.