The Week That Was in Baseball: July 4-10, 2011
Derek at 3,000 • The Passing of Dick Williams • Another Terrible Fall in Arlington
Roger Clemens Goes for Broke • Gordon Beckham's Gay Joke Exposed
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The 2011 Mid-Season Report Card
A Blast fo a Milestone
Now Replaying at TGG
Loss of a Friend
Several years ago I was at a party in San Francisco and I was talking baseball with a woman and she said, “My dad was a player and manager in the majors for many years, but I’m sure you've never heard of his name. My last name is Williams.” “Ted Williams?” I asked. “No, Dick Williams.”
Wow, I thought, and for the next several hours Kathy Williams and I talked about her father and his career. Then, at the end of the party, I told her that I was on the Oral History Committee for the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) and that I would love to interview him. She took my phone number and I didn’t hear back for a few months. Then, one day the phone rang and it was Kathy. “Here is his number,” she said. “He’s available to talk to you tomorrow afternoon.”
So, at the appointed time, I called Dick (in Henderson, Nevada) and first I got his wife on the phone. She was a delight. She told me some hilarious story about how she caught a scalper selling some tickets she donated to an orphanage and almost bonked him on the head as he was arrested by the stadium cops in Oakland. Then, I could hear Dick enter the room. He was returning from playing cards with his buddy Whitey Herzog. The interview commenced, but I got off to a bad start. I can’t recall specifically what I asked him, but his response was “That is one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard.” So, I quickly ditched that question and threw him some softballs. I didn't want him to hang up on me. Well, fortunately things went better after that and I ended up getting a wonderful interview.
A few years later, my buddy was dating Kathy and he called me. “I have to waste my weekend to go to some place called Cooperstown, New York for this Hall of Fame thing for Kathy’s dad.” I almost lost my lunch. My friend is obviously not a baseball fan, so he could care less, but I would have given my eye to be there. “I’m going to go to this party that evening where a bunch of all-stars will be there,” my buddy explained. “Who should I meet?” “Well, they’re Hall-of-Famers, not just all-stars,” I replied. “And if I were you, I’d ask for guys like Shoeless Joe Jackson or maybe Pete Rose.” I was pulling his leg obviously, hoping he would ask around for them, but someone told him before he embarrassed himself. Then, in August 2008, Kathy Williams and my friend came to my 50th birthday party and presented me with a mini bat signed by that year’s HOF inductees, and a baseball signed by “HOFer Dick Williams.” It meant a lot to me and it sits in my baseball memorabilia collection today.He will be missed.
A Souvenir is Not Worth Death
Shannon Stone, a firefighter from Brownwood, Texas, fell straight down from his first row seat in the bleachers and died later at a local hospitalbut not before consciously telling first responders to look after his six-year old son, who was with him at the game and was so distraught that Hamilton could hear his heartbreaking screams after the fall.
Stone’s plunge was the second in the last two seasons at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; exactly a year and a day earlier, a man named Tyler Morrisironically, another firefighter who actually was a friend of Stonefell from the second level onto the lower bowl, fracturing his skull and spraining his ankle. He survived.
A dour Nolan Ryan, president of the Rangers, faced the media the next day and said the Rangers would do what they could to help the surviving family. He had also mentioned that the Rangers used to have a net over the open area between the bleachers and the outfield wall, but removed it when too many people crawled on it to retrieve home run balls.Frankly, it’s astonishing that we don’t see more people falling from the stands. The railings at ballparks are quite short; those who’ve sidled along the first row of an upper deck alongside a railing that falls short of their waistlines know this. Vertigo, an ill-timed dizzy spell, a high alcohol-blood levelor a general loss of balance reaching too far out for a souveniris not a good thing to have when sitting in such seats.
Please, Don't Say These Things Happen in Threes
The Case of Roger Clemens vs. the Rest of the World
Become a Fan of TGG, Missy
Is Cujo the Team Mascot?
One Mad Mariner
Less Walk, More Rock
WTF Moment of the Week
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Wounded of the Week
The Yankees' Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Philadelphia third baseman Placido Polanco and Tampa Bay pitcher David Price, though not on the shelf, will nevertheless rest up and miss the Midsummer Classic.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
A Day-by-Day Review of the Week:
Philadelphia’s Vance Worley, not part of the Phillie roster to start the season but with pitching worthy of the rotation’s “Big Four” starters, throws seven shutout innings at Florida to raise his record to 4-1 and lower his ERA to 2.20…and is sent to the minors after the game. It’s not so much a demotion as it is a chance for Worley to stay active, as the Phillies have no need for a fifth starter until after the All-Star break. Worley has allowed just two runs over his last 25 innings.
With the Texas Rangers well ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth inning at Arlington, Michael Younghaving already knocked out a single, double and tripleis taken out of the game, a home run shy of the cycle. Manager Ron Washington doesn’t realize that until after the game and admits, “I screwed that one up.” The Rangers win, 13-4.Derek Jeter plays for the first time in three weeks and goes hitless in four at-bats at Cleveland, remaining stuck at 2,994 career hits. His opposite number for the Indians, Asdrubal Cabrerawho finished second to Jeter in All-Star voting for AL shortstop, despite much better numbershas two hits, including a double, in the Indians’ 6-3 win over the New York Yankees.
Tuesday, July 5
Milwaukee loses its second straight at home for the first time this year as the Arizona Diamondbacks triumph at Miller Park, 7-3. The Brewers’ 41-game streak without consecutive defeats is the longest in the majors since a run of 45 games by the 1996 Yankees.Curtis Granderson hits two home runs in the Yankees’ 9-2 win at Cleveland to give him 25 on the year, tying Mark Teixeira for the team leadand giving the Yankees two players with 25 or more before the All-Star break for the first time since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in their historic 1961 campaign. Last season, Granderson hit 24 jacks for the entire season; his career high is 30, achieved in 2009.
Wednesday, July 6
Thursday, July 7
Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel records his 27th save in a 6-3 win over Colorado, breaking the major league record for the most saves by a rookie before the All-Star break. Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon was the previous record-holder.
Playing first base for the first time in his major league career, Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer makes 13 putouts and two assists without an error, adding three hits and a pair of RBIs at the plate to help the Twins defeat the White Sox at Chicago, 6-2.
Cleveland’s Travis Hafner hits a game-winning grand slam to edge the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-4; it’s the second walk-off slam by the Indians this year, the first time two such blasts have been hit by one team in the same year since…the Indians, back in 2002.
Friday, July 8
Boston’s David Ortiz and Baltimore reliever Kevin Gregg scrap it up at Fenway Park in the midst of the Red Sox’ 10-3 win over the Orioles. Gregg throws three pitches inside, each one closer to Ortiz than the last, infuriating the big Boston slugger. After he hits a pop-up to right field on the next pitch, he’s yelled at by Gregg to hustleand decides to detour to the mound to take the Oriole pitcher on. Punches are thrown, none connect, and the usual mass of nothingness ensues, but the whole incident does lead to four ejections, including those of Ortiz and Gregg. It’s the fifth straight loss for Baltimore, who’s allowed ten or more runs in four of those.Philadelphia reliever Juan Perez strikes out the side on nine pitches in the tenth inning against Atlanta, becoming only the second pitcher in history to do so in overtime. Sloppy Thurston previously accomplished the feat in 1923 as a rookie for the White Sox. The Phillies beat the Braves in ten innings, 3-2.
Saturday, July 9
The San Diego Padres, one strike from no-hitting the Dodgers at Los Angeles thanks to the efforts of starter Aaron Harang and three relievers, give up a double to Juan Uribewho then scores when Dioner Navarro singles him home to beat the Padres 1-0. The Padres only get one hit on the day, a Cameron Maybin single in the fifth inning off Dodger starter Rubby De La Rosa, who lasts six innings. It was the Dodgers’ third straight winall by shutout.Toronto’s Jose Bautista hits two home runs, including the game-winner in the tenth, to lift the Blue Jays past the Indians 5-4 and become the first player this year to reach 30 home runs (and 31); he has the most blasts prior to an All-Star break since David Ortiz also had 31 in 2006.
Sunday, July 10
The Dodgers allow their first run in 29 innings when the Padres’ Rob Johnson homers to lead off the third inning at Los Angeles. But it turns out to be the only tally on the day for San Diego, as the Dodgers go on to win, 4-1.
Umpires must have a different rule for the Seattle Mariners: An opponent gets three balls for a walk. For the second time in nine days, the Mariners walk a batterthis time, Los Angeles of Anaheim’s Bobby Abreuon a 2-2 pitch. Amazingly, again, the Mariners don’t keep track themselves and do not protest. But unlike the first time, when the Padres took advantage of a three-ball walk to score the only run of a game, Abreu is left stranded on base. The Mariners still lose at Anaheim, 4-2.
Masters at the Mike
Offend it Like Beckham
Beckham seemed stunned that his joke could be seen from afar. His explanation: “I don’t use slurs. I have a lot of gay friends. I didn’t mean it as anythingyou know, like gay as in…happy!”
Dude, the 1890s were a long time ago.
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