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Babe Ruth’s daughter dies at 102


One of my favorite bits of trivia is that president John Tyler — in office from 1841-1845 — still has two living grandsons. Not great-great-great grandsons, but grandsons. One of my second favorite bits of trivia was that Babe Ruth’s daughter was still alive. But, alas, she has now sadly passed: Julia Ruth Stevens, aged 102, died on Saturday night.

Stevens was born in 1916 and her mother married Ruth in 1929, after which he adopted her. That marriage, by the way, happened on Opening Day of the 1929 season. Imagine if, say, Aaron Judge got married on the day of a game. My God, the takes.

Stevens and Ruth took to each other wonderfully. He taught her to bowl and golf and how to dance. She traveled with him around the world as he was at the height of his fame and she called him “Daddy” until the day she died. She gave many interviews while in her 90s, talking of both her love for her father and how much love her father showed her. Which contrasted to the story told by her sister Dorothy, also adopted and later raised by Ruth but, as revealed decades later, his biological daughter from an affair, who cast Ruth as a distant father. Which is to say that every story is more complicated than any one teller would have you believe, even if they are telling the truth as they knew it.

Stevens moved to New Hampshire as an adult and became a Boston Red Sox fan for the rest of her life. Which, given that Ruth began his career in Boston and given that the rivalry between the Sox and Yankees wasn’t all that hot until the 1970s and beyond, probably wouldn’t have bothered the Babe that much. That’s the case even if it likely irked still-living fans when Stevens threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park during the 1999 ALCS. It probably helps that she also threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before the final game in the House That Ruth Built back in 2008 and was, overall, an ambassador for her father and the game far more than she was for any team.

Life has a long tail. Stuff that happened in the seemingly distant past wasn’t as long ago as you might think when you measure it by lives lived. Julia Ruth Stevens was proof of that.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.