Thirty years ago today (and tomorrow morning), announcer John Sterling was well on his way to being beyond insufferable…
The voice on the other end of the phone was tense. The message was a newspaper editor’s equivalent of a naked threat.
“Need that story.”
It was 30 years ago today. More importantly, it was past 4 a.m. and I was on deadline in the press box at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, trying to find language that would capture the history I’d just witnessed.
The Mets and Braves had staggered to the finish line of a 19-inning game that’s remembered as one of the longest and craziest ever played. The Mets won, 16-13, but the NFL-like score leaves out the incredible details – like the 43 players used by both teams, the 46 hits, the 37 runners left on base, the 22 walks, Keith Hernandez hitting for the cycle (albeit in 10 at-bats) and Gary Carter catching the whole way.
And me? I was a beat reporter at the New York Post, back when the tabloid had seven editions, including its sports final at 1:45 a.m. designed to include West Coast results. But the edict came down when the Mets and Braves blew past the last deadline – they would hold for the final score.
Little did my editor know what he’d gotten himself into. Already, because of rain, the game was delayed by nearly two hours – first pitch wasn’t delivered until 9:04 p.m.
“When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” Coppolella said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”
He was a 24-year-old rookie middle infielder who hit 23 homers while playing half his games in Petco Park. How do you not want to lock that guy up? The only real question is when to stop offering him more and more years on the extension. He had a 113 OPS+ when he was 24, which meant it was reasonable to expect even more from him as he entered his prime, and that even more would mean he would be a perennial All-Star.
Instead, he was one of the worst everyday players in baseball last year, hitting .210/.280/.333. He’s hitting .210 again this year, and he’s doing it with even less power. There was a glimmer of hope last year, as Gyorko got relatively hot after the All-Star break, but he lost his job to Cory Spangenberg this season and was banished to the minors again. He’s 26 now, and he’s been a .220-or-worse hitter for almost two calendar years now. He’ll make $13 million in 2019, which is an absolutely stunning amount for a player struggling this mightily.
Even when the problem with a pitcher is hard to diagnose, like with Cahill and Romero, there’s still an element of assumed risk that’s easy to understand because pitchers are supposed to be fragile and mercurial. Gyorko reminds us that hitters can be just as weird, and considering how far removed we are from the version the Padres thought they were locking up, it looks like the problem had more to do with poor evaluation and overreacting to a fast start. It’s the new front office regime that has to pay for it, too.
Uggla is known for his hugs. Freddie Freeman, with the Braves, is perhaps more well-known for his many on-field hugs, but Uggla said he taught that to Freeman. Fans have held up signs at games such as “I Want a Huggla from Uggla” at games. His nickname is, sometimes, Huggla.
“That’s one of our pregame things: hugging before the game,” Harper said. “I don’t konw. Hugs for Uggs, right? That’s what everybody says. I’m a big hugger, too. I hug [Drew] Storen out there every time he closes a game.”
Uggla also shares a daily hug with Tyler Moore. Why?
“It’s a hard place to be in, man,” Moore said, referring to the major leagues. “Getting a little bit of love every day won’t kill anybody.
man met Reyes after Friday night’s Gwinnett Braves-Columbus Clippers game and agreed to go to a bar with him.
The woman said Reyes then paid for a hotel room because he didn’t want the women to drive after they had been drinking. One of the women fell asleep upon entering the room, and Reyes allegedly pinned the other to the bed and forced her to have intercourse.
The woman later called 911 and reported the incident. Court records show rape and kidnapping charges were filed Saturday.
Reyes, 24, is out on bond and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 2.
Trade talks between the Dodgers and Braves regarding Alberto Callaspo and Juan Uribe fell apart Tuesday morning after Callaspo vetoed the transaction, but talks rekindled just hours later after Callaspo had a change of heart, and the two sides have reportedly reached a deal, pending approval from the commissioner’s office. The Braves will acquire Uribe and right-hander Chris Withrow from the Dodgers in exchange for Callaspo, right-hander Juan Jaime and left-handers Ian Thomas and Eric Stults.
He had a right to do it. That doesn’t mean he was right to do it.
A proposed multi-player trade centered around veteran infielders Alberto Callaspo of the Braves and Juan Uribe of the Dodgers fell through Tuesday morning and was not expected to be revived.
The deal died when Callaspo exercised his right to reject the trade, a person with the proposal said, confirming a FoxSports.com report. Callaspo, as a free agent who signed last winter, can’t be traded without written consent until after June 15.
Oh, yes, it was one big looney-tunes adventure in Atlanta. After the eighth straight loss, Bristol gulped: “I’m doing all I can. I just don’t know what else I can do.”
After the 10th straight loss, Turner was admonished by — of all people — George Steinbrenner. “Nobody forced Ted Turner to buy the Braves,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re all over legal age and of reasonable intelligence. And when we bought these teams, we knew what the rules were.”
After the 14th straight loss, Turner said this: “I’ve got a cocked pistol in my hand. Who can I give the Braves to in my last will and testament?”
Turner then skipped out on a sailing vacation to join the team in Pittsburgh and see what the heck was going wrong. He sat behind the Braves dugout and watched his team lose a doubleheader. That made it 16 losses in a row. “I’d do anything to help us win,” a beleaguered Bristol told the press after the game.
Turner could not hold back now. He called Bristol into his hotel room the next day. Bristol fully expected to get fired. But Turner did not fire him. Instead, he told Bristol to take 10 days off, do a little reflection and maybe go scout the minor league teams.
“Who is going to manage the club?” Bristol asked.
“I will,” Ted Turner said.
“He owns the team, that’s his prerogative,” Bristol told reporters after the meeting. “I tried to talk him out of it. It puts a man in a strange position. I must be doing something wrong. I’m going home for a couple of days to take a long hard look at Dave Bristol.”
Turner made it clear from the start — he would be manager in name only. He planned to let his coaches, Vern Benson and Chris Cannizzaro, make most of the baseball decisions. But Ted Turner felt like he knew people, and he wanted to understand what was happening with his players. He was coming to the rescue.
“It seems like I had done all I could sitting up in the stands,” he told reporters. “I wanted to see what it’s like down in the trenches. … When you’re setting records for losing streaks, it doesn’t hurt to change things.”
And then Turner offered another one of his classic quotes: “If things get sour in your love life,” he said, “you go get a new hairdo, don’t you?”
After the 93-loss season had ended, Mazzone says the Orioles assured him that he would be brought back for 2008. But on Oct. 12, 2007, Mazzone was fired with a year left on his contract.
“I thought we were going to have a little more time to get it done,” says Perlozzo. Connolly says it was less a lack of time than a lack of talent. Mazzone agreed with both of those assessments, but when he left he said all the right things in his statement to the press: “I understand and wish the team great success.” He was 59 years old. With his track record, he felt he’d have no trouble finding a new job. All he had to do was go back to his home in Atlanta and wait for the phone to ring….
Not counting Baltimore, there had been six pitching coach vacancies in the majors that winter. Mazzone did not receive a single call. Instead, he signed on to do color commentary for a few games on Fox. When no coaching offers came the following winter, Mazzone joined the crew of a local sports-talk radio show, voicing his unvarnished opinions to weekday commuters across the Atlanta metro. After the 2010 season, he went on Sirius XM and made his pitch for openings with the Mets and Yankees, to no avail. Instead, he started working with local youths and traveling around to speak to various high school baseball organizations, extolling the virtues of throwing more often while regulating effort, controlling the strike zone — down and away, down and away — and learning how to pitch.
The only major leaguers he talked to were the old friends who still phoned to check in. “When he and I talk about baseball, he still gets fired up,” says Perlozzo, who was hired as a third-base coach by Seattle just months after his firing and today does the same for the Twins. “I’m shocked that somebody hasn’t needed his talents. But he’s firm in his beliefs. Maybe organizations are a little leery of that.”
The surgery could lessen the chances that Minor will not be offered a contract for next season by the Braves, who lost an arbitration hearing against him this season when the pitcher was awarded a $5.6 million salary.
A recent MRI of his shoulder again showed no structural damage, but if damage is found during surgery it would almost certainly be season-ending.
Presumably the only way Minor might return this seaosn is if no damage is found. Even then, it could be difficult for him to come back and pitch this season, given how much time he’s missed and the rehab and re-strengthening process he’d need to go through.
Arguably the Braves’ best pitcher in 2013, Minor struggled to a career-worst 6-12 record and 4.77 ERA in 25 starts in 2014 after missing most of spring training with what was diagnosed as shoulder tendinitis, which landed him on the disabled list to begin the season and caused recurring problems all season.
MRIs taken last year, this spring, and again early this season showed no structural damage, but Minor, who has been on the disabled list all of this season, has continued to experience pain or discomfort in the shoulder each time he has ramped up his throwing program.
“Feeling a weight? I’ve thought about,” McDowell said. “There’s weight on our shoulders from the standpoint of keeping us in games. We went into this season thinking, ‘OK, the pitching’s going to be great, and the offense is going to struggle.’ We haven’t struggled to score runs. You would hope the pitching would hold up its end of the bargain. But you go through those difficult periods, and you hope you’re able to grow from it.”
Stay there. He’s just getting warmed up.
“It’s like I told Julio the other day, ‘We’ve got about 25 or 26 more of these (starts). His record’s OK. But from the standpoint of getting deeper in a game, having more focus and taking that focus onto the mound — you have an eight-run lead twice in a game, I don’t care if it’s Julio Teheran or Mike Foltynewicz, our focus should be not on cruise but on getting outs.”
Feel free to read between the lines.
There’s reason to believe McDowell will get it fixed, simply because he always does. As Wood said, “Having Roger there to guide you along is big, especially for me after last week and with the shaky start I’ve gotten off to. We’re going to be fine when it starts kicking in, and when it does it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Burkett, an accomplished bowler for most of his life, is not a stranger to bowling in PBA competition, having bowled in a handful of Tour events since making his debut in 1990 in Pinole, Calif. He also competed in several regionals along the way, and most recently, he competed in PBA’s 2014 Oklahoma’s Grand Resort Summer Swing and the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI as part of the process to get ready for PBA50 competition.
On April 12 he will join a field of approximately 120 players 50 years of age and older in the Pasco County Florida Open at Lane Glo Bowl in New Port Richey, Fla.
George Plimpton observed that the smaller the ball, the better the writing about a sport. There is no great literature of bowling, but maybe this thread can be a start.
Former Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo (2003-2006) has been charged in court with kidnapping, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Lugo last professionally played baseball for los Leones del Escogido, and last played stateside for the Braves in 2011.
Lugo’s arrest warrant was issued in the cities of La Romana and Santo Domingo for kidnapping and the posession of fire arms. According to the paper, Lugo and four men held their hostage and his girlfriend at gunpoint, demanding money that had allegedly been invested in a business venture.
A rough translation of the article includes how Lugo had, “always been willing to talk about it, assuring him that the money invested in the company, as well as that of other investors, was sure.”
Yankees attempting to use an Atlanta fire to their advantage… again…
The Yankees have let the Braves know they have an interest in Atlanta’s second-base prospect Jose Peraza who is currently playing at Triple-A.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation the Yankees made contact with the Braves and sent scout Dennis Twombley to Gwinnett, Ga. recently to watch Peraza, who turns 22 on April 30.
Baseball America ranked the 6-foot, 165-pound native of Venezuela as the 54th best prospect in the minor leagues and MLB had him 39th.
In 349 minor league games Peraza started Wednesday night’s action batting .303 with an on-base percentage of .349. He had 178 steals and was caught 42 times.
The Yankees’ interest in Peraza could be a strong sign they don’t believe Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela are long-term solutions at second base. Refsnyder’s defensive struggles in spring training have carried over to the Triple-A season where he has made three errors in six games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Pirela is still on the road back from a spring-training concussion.
While the Yankees aren’t likely to surrender top pitching prospect Luis Severino, they could put together a two-player package that might include catcher Gary Sanchez who has been passed in the organization’s pecking order by John Ryan Murphy.