Something Very Unusual Happened Last Week …

Walk-off hits – or home runs – are exciting when they happen in a MLB game; but, truth be told, they are not exactly rare occurrences. A “walk-off balk” might not be very exciting, but it is not commonplace by any means. Last week, we saw a walk-off home run that was exciting and rare at the same time because:

    It was a walk-off inside-the-park home run!

Here is how it went down:

    The Blue Jays led the Indians 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. Jose Ramirez tied the game for the Indians with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth.

    Outfielder, Tyler Naquin, was the next batter and he hit a shot to left field that took an odd carom off the wall away from the Jay’s outfield and Naquin circled the bases to score the winning run.

Some folks in the baseball stat world with a lot of time on their hands – or a really fulsome database for searching – determined that the last Cleveland Indian to hit a walk-off inside-the-park home run was Braggo Roth in August of 1916. Roth had an 8-yaer career in MLB and he hit a total of 30 HRs in his career. In 2016, he only had 4 HRs and the walk-off inside-the-park shot was one of them.

Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks but he returned last week with a cogent comment about baseball:

“In passing: His Angels are in last place, but for the fifth year running, Mike Trout is baseball’s best everyday player.”

I absolutely agree here. There are maybe a dozen baseball players in MLB at any given time that I would go out of my way to see play the game. The first two players who fit that bill for me as a youngster were Ted Williams and Robin Roberts. Over the years, players such as Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson, Pete Rose, Dwight Gooden, Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Ichiro, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Roger Clemens filled that role. Today, Mike Trout is probably the player I would most go out of my way in order to see him play the game of baseball. I think he is that good. Please note that everyone on my list above belongs in the Hall of Fame for what they did on the field…

While I am on the subject of baseball, it is not too early to give you my front-runners for Managers of the Year in both leagues. I will do it in alphabetical order because there is still time for fortunes to shift and sentiments to change:

    National League:

      Don Mattingly (Marlins): No one thought they would be a serious wild-card contender in April.

      Dave Roberts (Dodgers): Given all the injuries this team has had, they should be duking it out with the Padres for last place in the NL West not being in the hunt for a wild-card slot.

      “Whomever” (Atlanta Braves): Consider this a nomination akin to giving the recipient a Purple Heart. The Braves are barely better than a top-shelf minor league club.

    American League:

      Terry Francona (Indians): They are cruising in a division that has last year’s World Series Champs in it.

      Scott Servais (Mariners): In his first year as a manager at the MLB level, he has the Mariners contending for a slot in the playoffs. It has been a while since the Mariners have been there…

      Buck Showalter (Orioles): Never a contender for the “Mr. Congeniality Award”, he has the O’s in the thick of the AL East race for division champion and/or a wild-card slot.

Bob Molinaro had another observation in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot in his column back from vacation that I found interesting:

“Ratings game: Usain Bolt is the greatest track athlete of his generation, but is his career more impressive than that of American Carl Lewis and his nine gold medals? Nah.”

This is a debate that can go on forever. This is akin to the argument about who was better, Williams or DiMaggio. Who was better, Willie, Micky or The Duke? I have said that I do not like debates of this nature because I find it distasteful to say anything negative about any athlete who is so accomplished that he finds himself as part of such a debate. I am happy to have witnessed the greatness of both Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt. I shall remain happy to consider both of them outstanding Olympians.

Finally, I missed this one but Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times did not:

“Faster, Higher … Poorer?

“’The last Olympics that didn’t lose money for the host city?’ asked Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“’Los Angeles, 1984.

“’The last Olympics at which the IOC didn’t make a ton of profit, even though it doesn’t really do anything except collect money?

“’Athens, 750 BC.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………