Merkle’s Boner redux: minor league team hits walkoff single, loses

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Saw this via Deadspin and I’ve been smacking my head ever since.

Great Lakes Loons vs. Lansing Lugnuts, two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. The Lansing batter hits a single up the middle. Game over, yes? You’d think so based on the celebration. Only one problem: the runner on first didn’t go to second — he was caught up in the celebration — so the center fielder scooped the ball up and tossed to second base. When the inning ends on a force out the run doesn’t count even if the runner crossed the plate before the out so it was taken off the board and onto extra innings they went. Lansing lost the game in the 10th inning.

This is Merkle’s Boner all over again. Of course, the 1908 Cubs who won that game due to Fred Merkle’s mistake went on to win the NL pennant by one game. Lansing, however, is already seven and half games back of the first place Great Lakes team after only 12 games played, so this probably won’t come back to haunt them.

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.