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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Yogi Berra Could Have Been a Cardinal for $500. They Said No

It’s another hot and humid St. Louis summer in July 1941. But that’s not what 16-year-old Lawdie Berra is thinking about right now. He’s sitting in the back seat of Cardinal General Manager Branch Rickey’s big black Lincoln on his way to Forest Park with his friend Joe Garagiola up front and some kid named Schoendienst fidgeting in the seat next to him. Poor guy is covered with angry red bites all over his arms and neck. Lawdie heard someone call him Red at the tryout camp in Sportsman’s Park just a few minutes ago, but these bites can’t be the reason.

Lawdie saw right away that Schoendienst can hit — from both sides of the plate — smacking line drives to all fields when it was his turn at bat. And he wasn’t bad at shortstop, either, though the Cardinal scouts kept asking him to shift over to second base. Albert, that’s his first name. Albert Schoendienst.

Schoendienst is one of the many out-of-town boys who saw the same Cardinal advertisement for an open tryout at Sportsman’s Park in the newspaper that also caught the attention of Lawdie and Joey. Anyone who wasn’t the property of a major league team was invited to try out for the Cardinals’ minor league system. Damn, there must have been 400, maybe 500 boys who showed up yesterday, chasing the dream of playing baseball in the major leagues.

That was far too many to judge in one afternoon, so Rickey told all the St. Louis kids to go home and come back the following day. The Cardinal GM wanted to see what the out-of-town kids could do first.

It isn’t every day when the cagiest general manager in baseball history makes a major mistake- and it’s an interesting read beyond that detail as well.

 

QLE Posted: April 18, 2020 at 12:40 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: branch rickey, cardinals, red schoendienst, what-ifs, yogi berra

Friday, April 03, 2020

Living in Sim: What if Derek Jeter never broke up the Marlins?

Miami Marlins fans cried out with joy when a Derek Jeter-fronted ownership group purchased the team in 2017. Not only were the Marlins hiring a perennial winner, but the team was also getting one of the greatest players of his era. On top of that, Jeter’s purchase meant Jeffrey Loria was out. Surely, anybody would be better than that guy.

Jeter immediately put that theory to the test by doing his best imitation of Loria, engaging in a massive fire sale. Marcell Ozuna? Gone. Giancarlo Stanton? Gone. Christian Yelich? Also gone. The new boss suddenly looked a lot like the old one.

Just like that, whatever promise the Marlins had for the near future evaporated. While the rebuild is producing in some strong prospects, it will be years before the Marlins are competitive again.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if Jeter suddenly had second thoughts and completely reversed course prior to the 2020 season? What if he traded to get back every single player he traded away during the fire sale in an attempt to see what could have been?

A consideration of how difficult it is to undo a string of terrible, terrible decisions.

 


Thursday, February 06, 2020

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner upset about Astros’ sign stealing in 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hal Steinbrenner didn’t deny being angry.

The Yankees owner used the word “upset” Wednesday afternoon in addressing his feelings on the Astros and the sign-stealing scandal that continues to reverberate throughout the sport. But in making his first public remarks on the issue, Steinbrenner, whose team was denied a World Series bid via a seven-game loss to the Astros in the 2017 American League Championship Series, also said it’s not something he’s willing to obsess over. 

“Let me just say, when the report came out, I was as upset as anyone,” Steinbrenner said during a break at the quarterly owners meetings at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. “Clearly, there were direct implications to my organization, our 2017 team. But at some point, I think we all, for the sake of the game and the good of the game, need to move on. Everyone needs to make that decision, obviously, themselves, as to when that point is. Me, standing here on Feb. 5, I am moving forward, looking forward, up the hill that’s the 2020 season. That’s my focus right now.”

The scandal came to light in November after a story in The Athletic and, after an MLB investigation, commissioner Rob Manfred released a report of his findings on Jan. 13. In doing so, he suspended Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, manager AJ Hinch, fined the Houston organization $5 million and docked the franchise first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. Houston owner Jim Crane later that day fired Luhnow and Hinch.

Kind of a tangent, but does “Waldorf Astoria Orlando” sound terribly wrong to anyone else, the way “The Palmer House Houston” would be rather peculiar?

 

QLE Posted: February 06, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, hal steinbrenner, what-ifs

 

 

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