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Remember, there’s morning baseball today

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The third Monday in April is Patriots’ Day, an official holiday in Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin, and nodded at unofficially in several other states. Schools and banks and stuff are closed there and the Boston Marathon is being run as we speak. For our purposes, we get morning baseball.

Today the Red Sox take on the Rays at 11:05AM EDT. Blake Snell gets the call for Tampa Bay, Steven Wright for the Sox. There is nothing more American than a knuckleballer in my view, so it’s good fortune that the rotation worked out this way for Boston.

There will be some differences from the usual lineup today for the Red Sox, however. Pablo Sandoval will ride pine after batting just .143 with a .196 on-base percentage through 11 games. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez is in the starting lineup despite exiting Sunday’s game with a cramp in his left hamstring. Between that and the flu, Ramirez has had a rocky first couple of weeks to the season, but perhaps morning baseball will set him straight.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.