It is a time to say thanks to and reflect on the baseball players who contributed to war efforts over the years.
One reason often cited for the birth of the super-hero comic book fad in the late 1930s was that the gaudily dressed characters, gifted with miraculous powers, could solve the problems of the world with a punch, unlike everyone else, who had to sit around and endure the nerve-wracking wait for the rise of Fascism to evolve into World War II, and then for World War II to have a positive resolution for the democracies. The idea of Superman being able to punch out a tank, or even deliver a love-tap to Adolf himself (or failing that, Joseph Goebbels) was reassuring to the younger set and far easier to understand than the movements of massive armies in faraway places.
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An all-time great lefty fireballer provides more than just one cautionary tale of what can go wrong on a diamond.
As promised in our last installment, here are some words on Indians' great Herb Score, who passed away earlier this month. Score was one of the most promising young pitchers of all time, and for a brief moment, he was close to being the best pitcher in the major leagues. Then tragedy struck, and the moment was gone. That last is the understood version. In truth, there were two tragedies, both of which injured Score in their own way. When casting about for reasons for his swift decline, observers seized on the wrong injury: it wasn't a Gil McDougald line drive which wrecked Score's career, but his managers and his time.
Dialing back to 1959, this year's Tigers might take note of the fate of that year's Yankees.
After this afternoon's game the Tigers, a team many picked to contend for the American League Central title, have opened the season 0-7. This has undoubtedly caused panic in some circles, as the Tigers have scored all of 15 runs this year, and many of the usual suspects in the talking head brigade were touting the Leyland men as a potential 1000-run offense after the off-season acquisitions of Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria.
BP correspondent Steven Goldman sees the Twins messing with top young players Johan Santana and Bobby Kielty and reflects back on Casey Stengel's handling and mishandling of young players.
One of the simultaneously pleasurable and vexing aspects of the Twins renaissance of 2001-2003 has been the team's successful reliance on homegrown players. While the Twins have succeeded in launching better than a dozen major league careers over the last few seasons, they have nonetheless made only a half-hearted commitment to several of their most promising prospects. Manager Ron Gardenhire and his predecessor Tom Kelly have indulged in an off-again-on-again, possibly self-defeating pattern of usage with several youngsters, potentially retarding the growth of some while keeping inferior players in the lineup.
Restrained by the owner's parsimony from buying their offensive technology off the shelf, the Twins have been forced to entrust their fortunes to what they can draft and grow in the minors, a luxury that many of the more munificent clubs deny themselves. Fortunately for the Twins, the farm has been fed and run with such competency that in the last few years they've seen a surfeit of quality prospects, more than the Devil Rays have seen in their entire existence, more than the Tigers have seen in a couple of decades.
"I could imagine it in my dreams, but I never thought I'd do it until now. It helped take the tension down a little bit for us, but games aren't won in the first or second inning. They're won in the ninth inning." --Barry Bonds, Giants outfielder, on homering in his first World Series at-bat