Remembering “Ball Four” — the TV show


Almost all baseball fans are aware of Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four.” If not, please log off right this second, find a copy of “Ball Four” and read it. It’s the best baseball book ever written and, even if it’s 46 years old, it will enlighten you about baseball and baseball players in ways you’ll be thankful for the rest of your baseball-watching life.

Not everyone knows, however, that “Ball Four” was turned into a TV show. CBS greenlighted a sitcom about it, written by and starring Bouton himself. It was  . . . not good. It certainly was not popular. After only four episodes aired in the fall of 1976, it was cancelled. Apart from the opening credits and theme song, it has been lost to history.

Thankfully lost if Dan Epstein’s article at Vice Sports is any guide. He recently talked to Bouton and others about the ill-fated sitcom version of the literary classic. Bouton is under no illusions that it was a good show and admits that he was (a) in over his head when it came to writing for TV and acting; and (b) super happy that it was cancelled so he could go back to his real life. Which, among other things, involved an on-the-field major league comeback in 1978.

Go read Dan’s article. And then ask yourself, does what you learned over there and the opening credits below suggest to you that we lost anything by losing the TV version of “Ball Four?”

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.