December 12, 2013
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Sunday, June 30, 2013
Twenty-five years ago today, the Chicago White Sox stayed the Chicago White Sox. When the day began, it wasn’t clear that would be the case. There was a very real chance the Chicago White Sox would end the day as the St. Petersburg White Sox.
Back in the 1980s, the Sox still played at old Comiskey Park. Opening in 1910, it was the oldest park still in use at that time, but it was falling apart, and the Sox wanted a new stadium. And like seemingly every sports team, they wanted the taxpayers to foot the bill for their new stadium.
That led to negotiations. Ultimately, the battle for financing a new stadium went to Springfield, the state capital of Illinois. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is (of course) a very successful businessman, and he knew nothing helps a business negotiation like some leverage—and he had some mighty nice leverage.
St. Petersburg, Fla. wanted a major league team badly. The city had wanted one for years. If it acquired one, it wouldn’t just be the junior city in Tampa-St. Pete area, city officials believed. They wanted a team so badly, they began construction on a year-round dome in 1986.
Reinsdorf entered into negotiations with St. Pete officials, and it wasn’t just talk. Reinsdorf may have been a lifelong Chicagoan, but he also wanted his deal. If Illinois wouldn’t give him the money he wanted, he’d take the team to Florida and try his luck there.
So it came down to what the Illinois state legislature did in the summer of 1988. The clock was ticking ... give Reinsdorf what he wanted or say goodbye to the White Sox. And June 30, 1988, was the big day. The legislature had to get funding passed that day or … bye. People in Florida watched the news wire with baited breath. They were on the verge of getting their team.
The clock certainly was ticking. The bill made it through one house but still had that second one to get through, and there just weren’t enough votes to get pass funding.
Reinsdorf’s bill would give the Sox $200 million, and plenty of state congress members thought that was too steep a price. Governor Jim Thompson began lobbying legislatures as best he could, but he was still short. And the clock kept ticking. 11:00 p.m. came and went, and they didn’t have the damn votes. 11:30 p.m. came, and the bill backers were closer, but not close enough. Tick, tick, tick went the clock.
With midnight approaching, the city and business leaders in St. Petersburg were about the pop the corks on champagne bottles. Midnight inched ever closer, and the clock kept ticking. As badly as Governor Thompson might’ve wanted to keep the Sox, it’s not like he could stop the clock from ticking.
Oh, wait—check that. He could stop the clock from ticking. In fact, that’s exactly what he did.
He may not have been able to control the hands of time, but he could control the clock in the Illinois state legislature, so he ordered the damn thing unplugged. So it was. He had to get a few more votes rounded up, and he rounded them up.
After a few non-clock minutes, the bill went up for a vote and passed by one legislator. The Sox had their money and would stay in Chicago—because the official time stamp on the bill still said June 30, 1988. Floridians cried foul, but it didn’t matter. The deal was done.
Illinois has long had its share of shady political stories. Plenty come from Chicago, but folks in Chicago hardly have a monopoly on, um, “curious” Illinois political stories. (Just google Paul Powell, for example.) But this was one of the more memorable tricks, and it happened 25 years ago today.
Click for more...
Friday, June 28, 2013
Dodgers 6, Phillies 4: Six straight wins for the Dodgers as Yasiel Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning. Puig also smacked into the scoreboard in right field, so he's basically Bryce Harper in multiple respects. That seventh inning rally was occasioned by the bases being loaded on a walk, a bunt which Ryan Howard muffed to allow the bunter to reach and then another walk. Then Puig did his stuff.
Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Series like Cubs-Brewers are, at this point, primarily scouting combines in anticipation of the trade deadline. And Matt Garza was the equivalent of that defensive end wearing Under Armor spandex while creepy dudes like Mel Kiper talk about their "long-bodies" and "great wingspan." He struck out ten in seven innings while allowing one run on eight hits with a walk.
Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Remember that scene in "The Natural" where Roy Hobbs' winning blast caused the light tower to explode in spark and flame? Well, that happened at Nats park yesterday except (a) the road team won; and (b) the winning hit in the ninth was a bunt. Two bunts actually won it. Miguel Montero hit a ground rule double, Cody Ross bunted his pinch runner to third and Didi Gregorius "knocked" in the go-ahead run with a bunt single. Then he was transported to a wheat field where he played catch with his illegitimate son as Glen Close watched over them lovingly. Or something.
Angels 3, Tigers 1: Albert Pujols with an RBI double in the tenth that provided the winning margin. The Angels have beat the Tigers for the ninth straight time. Guys Tigers fans love to hate did well. Jeff Weaver -- who got all plunky with Tigers hitters last year -- allowed one run in seven innings. Mike Trout -- who many Tigers fans have decided to hate because how dare someone suggest Miguel Cabrera have competition for the MVP last year?! -- was 4 for 5 yesterday and 8 for 16 in the series with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.
Orioles 7, Indians 3: Down 3-2 in the fifth the O's scored five of their own. Manny Machado was ejected arguing that a third strike was really a foul ball. That ended a streak of 1,206 innings played, which was the longest active streak in the bigs. Lonnie Chisenhall on the O's quick strike for five:
"It happened so fast, same thing last night," said Chisenhall. "It's the way the AL East plays. Runs just show up on the board."
Damndest thing, that.
Mets 3, Rockies 2: The makeup game from a snow-out back in April. Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and threw out a runner from right field in the ninth. The guy he nailed on the base paths? Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. He still had three hits on the day, though, and extended his hitting streak to 24 games. That's a Rockies record.
Rangers 2, Yankees 0: Derek Holland with the Maddux, shutting out the Bombers -- if we can call this lineup the "Bombers" -- on 92 pitches.
Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4: John Lester got a much-needed win -- only his second in eight starts -- but left the game in the eighth when he jammed his hip. A seven-run second inning for the Sox pretty much sewed this game up early, however.
Twins 3, Royals 1: Samuel Deduno allowed one run over seven innings, walking only one. Which is a big deal for him, because he's usually walktastic.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Blue Jays 3, Rays 0: R.A. Dickey throws a Maddux (i.e. a shutout in under 100 pitches), with his knuckler back up to the velocity he featured so often during his Cy Young season. Game was over in two hours, ten minutes.
Athletics 5, Reds 0: A.J. Griffen needed 108 pitches for his two-hit shutout and the game lasted ten more minutes but he still did it. Surprising too, given that he walked two of the first three batters he faced in the game.
Marlins 5, Twins 3: Placido Polanco -- who I had no idea played for the Marlins, if that tells you how much attention I pay to the Marlins -- homered for the first time in a year. Jeff Mathis hit one too. That's the Marlins' 13th win this month, which ensures they'll have a winning record for June. How about them apples?
Phillies 7, Padres 5: This one ended in the 13th inning when Ben Revere hit a grounder to second baseman Logan Forsythe who (a) bobbled it; and (b) made an errant throw home. Two runs scored and that's all Philly needed. Philly lost the first one of this series in awful fashion but then took the final two. Tell anyone who talks about momentum in baseball to get bent.
Rangers 8, Yankees 5: Nelson Cruz homered and Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back two-run doubles. Andy Pettitte was more like Andy MEHttitte again.
Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jordan Zimmermann gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings. The runs and two of those hits came in the first. The final six were dominant.
Pirates 4, Mariners 2: Felix Hernandez struck out 11 and gave up only two runs, but as so often is the case with him on this team, it wasn't enough. The Buccos rallied for two in the ninth to break the tie and win the game. Six straight wins for the Pirates, who are now tied with the Cardinals for both the NL Central lead and the best record in all of baseball.
Cubs 5, Brewers 4: At the other end of the division, the Brewers loss here ties them with the Cubs for last in the NL Central. Scott Feldman pitched well and Kevin Gregg bent pretty hard but did not break in the ninth.
Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The sweep. If you didn't pick the Giants to win the NL West odds had you picking the Dodgers before the season began. Now these two are in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Clayton Kershaw gave up two runs over eight innings.
Reds Sox 5, Rockies 3: John Lackey's fastball was up to 95 and he struck out 12 over seven innings. Roy Oswalt failed to impress for the second straight time, allowing five runs in six innings.
Indians 4, Orioles 3: A one run lead in the ninth? Call Jim Johnson. Jim Johnson. Wat R U doin'? Jim Johnson. Stahp! Walk-double-walk-fielder's choice-fielder's choice, lead blown.
Angels 7, Tigers 4: The Angels have won eight straight over the Tigers. Mike Trout homered and drove in three. Tommy Hanson was scratched from the start before the game and was replaced by Billy Buckner and a cast of thousands. More or less.
Mets 3, White Sox 0: Eight shutout innings for Shaun Marcum who picks up his first win of the year. Eric Young Jr. was 3 for 4.
Royals 4, Braves 3: The Royals blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh but then Alex Gordon won it with a walkoff single in the 10th.
Astros 4, Cardinals 3: St. Louis has now lost four of five and, as noted above, fall into a first place tie with Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Yankees 4, Rangers 3: Walkoff homer for Ichiro? Well shut my mouth. Wait, what? Well jeez, Brian, it's just an expression. You don't have to agree so emphatically and profanely.
Angels 14, Tigers 8: Well that fifth inning got out of a hand in a hurry. Rick Porcello was beaten around for seven runs on ten hits and his relief Darin Downs didn't fare much better. J.B. Shuck drove in four. Even Josh Hamilton had a good game, going 3 for 5.
Orioles 6, Indians 3: The O's snapped a four-game losing streak. Chris Davis hit his 28th homer, which tied it up in the seventh and Alexi Casilla's three-run homer put Baltimore ahead in the eighth.
Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 5: The Nats jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the fifth inning and then held on, giving Gio Gonzalez his first win since May 5. From the AP gamer:
[Gonzalez] said pitching with the big lead for a change didn't alter his approach.
Jack Morris just shakes his head.
Marlins 4, Twins 2: The Fish have won four of five. Jose Fernandez allowed one run and four hits in five innings and Marcell Ozuna drove in a pair. It sometimes seems like there's no future in Miami, but those two are part of one.
Brewers 9, Cubs 3: Two homers for Rickie Weeks, who has a nine-game hitting streak in which he's 14-for-32 with four homers and seven RBI. Milwuakee has beat the Cubs nine straight times at Miller Park and 19 of 21 times overall.
Dodgers 6, Giants 5: Matt Kemp comes back from the DL. While he only went 1 for 4 at the plate he ended the game with a running, sliding, over the shoulder catch that, one hopes, put to rest any concern about his hamstring. If the Dodgers are going to climb back in the race a healthy and productive Kemp has to be a part of that.
Red Sox 11, Rockies 4: It was 7-1 after the third inning so this one wasn't exactly suspenseful. Dustin Pedroia drove in four runs on three hits and the Sox tallied 20 safeties in all. BTW: people used to say "safeties" more often as a synonym for hits, but no one does it anymore. I don't want it to come back because I find it annoying, but I did feel like it was worth pointing this out.
Phillies 6, Padres 2: A homer -- his 20th -- and four RBI for Domonic Brown. Jason Marquis loses his first game since April 22nd. But he does lead the league in walks and he walked five Phillies in four and a third.
Rays 5, Blue Jays 1: Matt Moore wins his tenth after striking out 11 in six innings. Walked six too, but worked around it. Wil Myers drove in a run. He has eight RBI in nine games since being called up.
White Sox 5, Mets 4: Chris Sale struck out 13 in eight innings and left with a lead but didn't get the win because he didn't want it bad enough or something. Or maybe because Addison Reed -- who vultured the win -- blew the save with help from a Gordon Beckham error. Alexei Ramirez mooted it all with a walkoff single.
Braves 4, Royals 3: Jason Heyward's seventh inning homer broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Braves the win. Earlier he hit a two-run double. Even though, in recent years, a lot of Braves have found their way to the Royals, it was the Braves' first ever trip to Kansas City.
Cardinals 13, Astros 5: Mike Matheny jumbled up the lineup and the Cardinals offense woke up. Correlation? Yes. Causation? I dunno. But Allen Craig went 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBI and Matt Carpenter drove in three of his own after clearing the bases with a triple.
Athletics 7, Reds 3: The fact that I looked at this score and first thought "1972 World Series rematch" instead of "1990 World Series rematch" makes me wonder how my brain works. Though admittedly I have the worst memory of the 1990 World Series than any World Series of my teenage years. I was busy during the week of that Series rehearsing some play I was in in which I got to kiss the amazingly attractive girl who played the female lead and, wouldn't you know it, I kept needing to rehearse that scene a lot because I couldn't get it right. Or at least that was my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, the A's pounded Bronson Arroyo.
Pirates 9, Mariners 4: Five homers for the Buccos. Starling Marte had two of them plus a triple. When people ask me, as the have an awful lot lately, if the Pirates are going to collapse like they did the past couple of years I've been saying no. Why? For the simple reason that I often write other offensive contributors' names in the Pirates recaps besides Andrew McCutchen. It's a team this year. Not one star and a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Jonny Venters, Jason Motte, and now Dylan Bundy are those who have had major setbacks after receiving platelet-rich plasma injections in their elbow, combined with a rehab program intended to avoid replacing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL, Tommy John surgery).
Bundy had discomfort in his pitching forearm/elbow on Monday after his rehab for 2013 had been progressing reasonably well, and so he will go see the dreaded Dr. James Andrews to further evaluate his rehabilitation plan for the remainder of the year.
Many have a dismal view on trying to rehab the elbow instead of just having surgery. Keith Law had this to say about Gavin Floyd:
Jeff Sullivan (formerly of Lookout Landing fame) and I had this conversation via Twitter:
My thoughts were mostly summed up in the exchange Jeff and I had. It's really easy to point fingers and say "rehab doesn't work, just go under the knife already," but this ignores the fact that TJS doesn't exactly have a 100 percent success rate.
For every Tommy John or Stephen Strasburg, there is a professional pitcher who has a story similar to this: Drafted in the first round, throwing 94-97 mph, and was cut because his TJS rehab didn't go well. He now throws 86-90 mph and is struggling to figure out where it all went wrong. (An actual person and client of mine.)
Assuming that a conservative plan for elbow rehabilitation takes six weeks (unlike the long plan of Dylan Bundy, which is way more rare) and TJS recovery takes 14 months, it's not hard to see that from a classic risk-reward analysis, elbow rehab doesn't have to succeed very often at all to be worth it.
There is also the very ugly side of arm injuries: pitchers who have had arm injuries (especially at the lower levels of the minors) are seen as damaged goods. You can find any number of anecdotal stories of players being released because they think an organization is trying to reduce the number of arm injuries in its system, because as Russell Carleton pointed out, the best predictor of future injury is a past injury.
So, I find tweets like Keith Law's to be very insensitive. While a long-term research project is needed to test the efficacy of rehabilitation methods like PRP, simply dismissing it out of hand and saying "get cut open" isn't the answer.