July 15, 2019

G94: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 8

Blue Jays - 022 000 040 -  8 13  0
Red Sox   - 505 000 00x - 10 13  2
Michael Chavis hit a first-inning grand slam to spark the Red Sox. Mookie Betts doubled. After Rafael Devers popped up, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez both walked. Andrew Benintendi's single scored one run and Chavis's four-bagger (on his at-bat's seventh pitch) made it 5-0.

Boston's five runs in the third came after the first two batters were retired. Sandy León walked. Brock Holt was safe on an infield single and Betts walked. Devers singled to right for two runs. Bogaerts singled to center, giving the Red Sox an 8-4 lead. Martinez walked, re-loading the bases, and Joe Biagini relieved Sam Gaviglio. Benintendi doubled to left for two runs.

Eight of the nine Boston batters scored a run. .. Rick Porcello: 6-8-4-0-2, 112.

AL East: Rays 5, MFY 4. (Travis d'Arnaud hit a two-out, full-count, three-run homer in the top of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman.) ... MFY –, TBR 5.0, BOS 9.0.
Trent Thornton / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
León, C
Holt, 2B
Eduardo Núñez has been designated for assignment. He batted .255/.277/.366 and had a -2.4 WAR over the last two seasons.

Hector Velázquez has been optioned to Pawtucket, while pitcher Ryan Weber and first baseman Sam Travis have been called up from the PawSox.

Steven Wright was put on the 10-day injured list with a right big toe contusion before last night's game. He was hit by a ground ball on Saturday.

AL East: Rays/MFY, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.

July 14, 2019

Two Different Teams Have Scored 7 Runs In An Inning For Three Consecutive Days

This is undoubtedly rare (perhaps even unprecedented), but I don't know how rare.

On each of the last three days, two different teams have scored seven runs in an inning. On both Friday and Saturday, two teams scored seven runs in the first inning.

Friday, July 12, 2019
Rays      - 720 101 500 - 16 20  1
Orioles   - 001 100 002 -  4  5  2
Mariners  - 000 000 000 -  0  0  3
Angels    - 720 011 20x - 13 13  0
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Pirates   - 000 011 110 -  4 11  2
Cubs      - 701 200 00x - 10 13  1
White Sox - 000 000 200 -  2  7  1
Athletics - 700 401 01x - 13 13  0
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Tigers    - 107 110 200 - 12 19  0
Royals    - 300 131 000 -  8 10  0
Astros    - 320 000 700 - 12 12  0
Rangers   - 200 000 200 -  4  5  2

G93: Dodgers 7, Red Sox 4 (12)

Dodgers - 300 010 000 003 - 7  9  2
Red Sox - 200 000 020 000 - 4 12  2
After Xander Bogaerts (#20) and J.D. Martinez (#19) tied the game with back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning, Hector Velázquez imploded and gave up three runs in the twelfth.

Velázaquez walked Joc Pederson, committed an interference error on the first base line that allowed Cody Bellinger to reach safely, gave up a single to A.J. Pollack, loading the bases, and then walked Max Muncy, forcing in the Dodgers' go-ahead run. Another run scored on a one-out single by Alex Verdugo and Los Angeles upped the score to 7-4 when a third run scored on a force out.

The Red Sox had squandered a chance to win the game in the eleventh against Dylan Floro thanks to some dumb baserunning. (What a surprise, I know.) Jackie Bradley doubled to lead off, but boneheadedly tried to go to third on Marco Hernandez's grounder to short and was thrown out. After Mookie Betts flied to right (and Hernandez tagged and went to second). Rafael Devers was walked intentionally. Bogaerts's infield single loaded the bases, but X was forced out at second on Martinez's grounder.

Starters: Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-8-2-1-6, 94) / David Price (5-4-4-3-7, 113). Price actually allowed fewer earned runs (1) than Ryu (2), but he also needed 19 more pitches to get six fewer outs.

AL East: MFY 4, Blue Jays 2. Rays 4, Orioles 1. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.
Hyun-Jin Ryu / David Price
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Vázquez, C
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Núñez, 2B
Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu leads the majors in ERA (1.73), BB/9 (0.83), and K/BB ratio (9.90). He leads the National League with a 0.908 WHIP. In 15 starts last season, Ryu had a 1.97 ERA.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.0.

July 13, 2019

Red Sox Acquire Andrew Cashner From Orioles; He Will Start On Tuesday

The Red Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner from the Orioles, sending two 17-year-old minor leaguers (infielder Noelberth Romero and outfielder Elio Prado) to Baltimore.

Cashner will make his first Red Sox start on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski:
Definitely gives us the improvement in that fifth spot, which we've scuffled for such a long time this year. He's a guy that's taken the ball and given six, seven innings on a consistent basis, so we like a lot of the things about him. We think he makes us better.
Cashner, 32, is in his 10th major league season; the Red Sox will be his sixth team. He has a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts this season. Since the beginning of June, Cashner has a 1.41 ERA in five starts, allowing opponents a .202 on-base average and a .221 slugging percentage (zero home runs in 32 innings).

G92: Dodgers 11, Red Sox 2

Dodgers - 101 030 411 - 11 14  1
Red Sox - 000 101 000 -  2  6  1
Chris Sale (4.2-7-5-1-7, 92) began the fifth inning by allowing a single and hitting a batter. With one out, Justin Turner and David Freese hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Dodgers a 5-1 lead.

Turner finished the night with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored, and two RBI.

Steven Wright gave up solo home runs to Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollock in the seventh.

Xander Bogaerts knocked in both of Boston's runs, hitting his 19th home run of the year in the fourth and singling in Mookie Betts (who singled and stole second) in the sixth.

AL East: Blue Jays 2, MFY 1. Orioles 2, Rays 1 (makeup of May 5 game). Rays 12, Orioles 4. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.0.
Ross Stripling / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, 1B
Holt, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
The fact that Chris Sale has not won a regular season game at Fenway Park in more than a year will certainly be mentioned (at least once) by NESN's Dave O'Brien this evening. And while the statement is true, it's also some serious bullshit.

In Sale's very next home start after getting that last W on July 11, he threw six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and two walks and striking out 10. But because the Red Sox bullpen blew the lead three innings after Sale left the game, his excellent outing was 'meaningless'.

In fact, in Sale's three home starts after July 11, he threw 10 scoreless innings. But since he did not get a magical W, that 0.00 ERA is garbage. Those starts came during an insane streak of nine starts in which Sale allowed only one run in 48 innings. But, again, who cares about a 0.19 ERA when there are no home wins included?

This year, Sale has made eight starts at home and is 0-2. Note to OB and all Boston sports media: It's never wise to ignore 75% of relevant data in making a determination.

Here is what Sale did in four of those six no-decisions:
April 23 vs Tigers: 5 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts April 28 vs Rays: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts May 14 vs Rockies: 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 17 strikeouts June 10 vs Rangers: 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Sale allowed six earned runs in those 26 innings (and struck out 45 batters), but his 2.08 ERA is ignored, because events well beyond his control left him with an 0-0 record.

Overall, Sale has made 12 starts at Fenway since his last home win. He is 0-2 (his 10 no-decisions represent 83% of those starts); and has a 3.69 ERA and an excellent 1.066 WHIP (that would be 6th in the AL this year). His totals: 61 innings, 48 hits, 29 runs, 25 earned runs, 17 walks, 97 strikeouts (his 14.3 K/9 would lead the majors this year).

The Red Sox are 16-7 in their last 23 games and they have scored in the first inning in nine of their last 11 games.

Rafael Devers is hitting .411 with a 1.230 OPS in 23 games since June 11. ... Mookie Betts has scored a run in each of his last seven games. ... Brock Holt is batting .364 since returning from the IL on May 27 (28 games). In those games, he's hitting .522 (12-for-23) with RATS.

Last Night:
The Los Angeles Angels played their first home game since the sudden death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs. After Debbie Skaggs (Tyler's mother) threw out the first pitch, the Angels (all wearing #45) scored seven runs in the first inning - Mike Trout, who was drafted with Skaggs in 2009, drove in four with a first-pitch home run and a double - and Taylor Cole and Felix Peña combined for a no-hitter as the Angels won 13-0 on the eve of what would have been Skaggs's 28th birthday. The Angels ended the evening by laying all of their jerseys on the mound.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.

Atlantic League All-Star Game Uses Electronic Strike Zone

If our robot umpire overlords have not arrived, they are at least getting closer to taking their proper place in the (inter)national game.

The TrackMan system, which uses Doppler radar to determine whether a pitch has passed through the strike zone, made its professional debut last Wednesday in the Atlantic League's all-star game. MLB signed an agreement this spring with the independent league to have it road-test new technology and rules before they are implemented in the American and National leagues.

After plate umpire Brian deBrauwere received Trackman's determination in his earpiece (which was connected to an iPhone in his pocket), he would either "confirm or correct the program's decision", according to Deadspin's Gabe Fernandez.
The players didn't seem to mind the change - pitcher Mitch Atkins noticed pitches higher in the strike zone were called strikes ("Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them") - but former major leaguer Kirk Nieuwenhuis pointed out that giving the plate umpire the discretion to overrule TrackMan "defeats the purpose" of having an electronic strike zone.

CloseCallSports' YouTube channel compiled a highlight reel of the robot ump's calls. The system needs some fine-tuning, but this was only one game. If you remain ambivalent or are against robot umps, please remember that numerous blown calls by "the human element" alter the outcome of every single game, every single day.

Mark T. Williams, a professor of finance at Boston University, and a team of grad students analyzed nearly four million pitches over the course of the last 11 seasons.
Umpires make lots of errors. And what's interesting about this is not only that umpires make errors, but that they were consistently made. ... When it comes to the two strike bias – when a batter would have two strikes on them – umps were almost 30 percent likely to call a ball a strike. That was astounding to me, that umps would have such bias against the batter. [The highest error rates came from older, veteran umpires.]

The Atlantic League plans to install TrackMan in all eight of its ballparks in the coming weeks.

July 12, 2019

G91: Red Sox 8, Dodgers 1

Dodgers - 010 000 000 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 110 001 50x - 8  8  0
Eduardo Rodriguez (7-5-1-2-10, 105) turned in one of his strongest starts of the season. Rafael Devers and Christian Vázquez hit early solo home runs and, after a one-hour rain delay, Xander Bogaerts put the game on ice with a three-run dong. The Red Sox kept pace with the Yankees and Rays, who also both won easily on Friday night.

Rodriguez retired 15 of 17 batters from the first to the sixth innings. Excluding a solo homer by Alex Verdugo in the second, only two Dodgers got as far as second base all night. EdRo's two walks both came in the first inning; he went to a 3-ball count only four times over the next 6.1 innings (24 batters).

With one out in the top of the seventh, and the Red Sox up 3-1, Rodriguez was dealing with runners on first and second. After a mound visit, the lefty struck out Austin Barnes with a 1-2 fastball at the top of the zone and got Corey Seager to ground weakly to second.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Jackie Bradley reached on an infield single that rolled past pitcher Pedro Baez and Michael Chavis was safe on a fielder's choice when catcher Barnes grabbed his nubber in front of the plate and threw quickly and off-target to second base. By this time, the rain that had been falling most of the night began coming down in sheets. Brock Holt drove Baez's first pitch off the Wall to score Bradley. Mookie Betts took a strike and a ball before the umps finally called for the tarp.

Exactly one hour later, Betts stepped back in against new reliever JT Chargois and flied to center, scoring Chavis to give Boston a 5-1 lead. Devers (who, in addition to his first inning homer, had doubled in a run in the sixth) was walked intentionally. Bogaerts made the Dodgers sorry for that decision, lining a 1-1 pitch off the shelf at the top of the Wall for a three-run homer. Bogaerts did not initially think the ball had gotten out and slid into second base, before hearing the good news, getting up, and finishing his trot.

Josh Taylor and Hector Velázquez each pitched a clean inning of relief, with Velázquez needing only eight pitches to close out the game.

In 2017, Vázquez collected 131 total bases in 345 plate appearances. This year, in only 276 PAs, he has a career-high 138 total bases. His season home runs totals: 1-1-5-3-15.

AL East: MFY 4, Blue Jays 0. Rays 16, Orioles 4 (played in a crisp 2:49!). ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.
Kenta Maeda / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Holt, 2B
Records After 92/90 Games
            2018     2019    Diff
Dodgers    50-42    60-32    + 10 
Red Sox    61-29    49-41    - 12
As the "second half" of the season gets underway, the Red Sox are concentrating on improving their rotation. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Boston is "pushing to add a starting pitcher ... sooner rather than later".

The Red Sox have talked with the Mets about right-hander Zach Wheeler, who turned 29 about three weeks ago. Wheeler has a 4.69 ERA in 19 starts this year. In 2018, Wheeler finished 11th in the NL in ERA (3.31).

The Red Sox have released Tyler Thornburg after Thornburg declined a minor league assignment.

David Ortiz had a third surgery earlier this week at Massachusetts General Hospital "for complications resulting from his gunshot wound", according to Tiffany Ortiz.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The 2019 Yankees: Championship or Bust. ...

That isn't simply click-bait ... If they aren't the best in the world, they're right there in the team picture. ... The Red Sox are a little short this year ...

Even during last year's 100-win breeze, there were always the Red Sox looming, lurking, loitering. ...

Not this time. Not this season. Aaron Boone thinks the Yanks are the best team in the world? You should believe that, too. ... It's time.
We shall see.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.

July 11, 2019

Jim Bouton (1939-2019) And The Lasting Impact Of "Ball Four"

Jim Bouton, a former major league pitcher and a proudly liberal thinker in a sport dominated by ignorant conservatives, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.

In 1970, Bouton published Ball Four, an iconoclastic diary of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros that Bruce Weber of the New York Times praised as "raunchy, shrewd, [and] irreverent". Alex Johnson of NBC News wrote that Bouton had "destroyed the myth of baseball as a wholesome pursuit of God-fearing, milk-drinking young men".

Ball Four was called "detrimental to baseball" by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (who tried to get Bouton to sign a statement saying the book was completely fictional), New York sports columnist Dick Young infamously trashed Bouton and Shecter as "social lepers", and Pete Rose of the Reds made his opinion known by shouting from the opposing dugout: "Fuck you, Shakespeare".

In the subsequent fifty years, the players who have written inside-the-clubhouse books could fill several big league rosters — I can easily remember enjoying The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle as a fifteen-year-old back in 1979 — but none of them touched off the firestorm of controversy that Bouton did. The baseball world changed forever after Ball Four — and it would never go back.

Mark Armour, in a biography of Bouton for SABR's BioProject, wrote:
There was a growing divide in the New York press at this time [the early-to-mid-1960s], between the old-school writers who believed their job was to present the players as heroes, and the new wave of journalists who were looking for a story, or some deeper understanding of what the players were thinking on and off the field. The Yankees players and management were used to being treated as royalty by the likes of Jimmy Cannon, and resented the young writers, whom Cannon derisively referred to as "chipmunks." When Bouton joined the team [in 1962] he was warned to stay away from the press, but he soon found that he had a lot in common with the newer writers ... For their part, the writers discovered that Bouton liked to paint, and to make jewelry, and to talk about more than just the day's game. When asked his opinions about the Vietnam War, or about civil rights, Bouton would answer directly and honestly. Bouton was good copy, though becoming less popular with his teammates and management.
Even as a young player, he had a pugnacious wit and a willingness to speak his liberal mind, most notably to reporters, whom other Yankees made a habit of disdaining, and on subjects like the war in Vietnam, student protests on campus and civil rights, that raised hackles of teammates and Yankees executives.
During his time with the Yankees, Bouton battled with management over his contract every spring. He began telling the press what he was asking for and what the Yankees were offering. Yankees GM Ralph Houk wanted to know why. "If I don't tell them, Ralph, maybe they'll think I'm asking for ridiculous figures. I just want to let them know I'm being reasonable." When the writers learned that Bouton had been forced to accept only $18,500 for the 1964 season, most of them sided with the pitcher, which (obviously) infuriated the Yankees' front office.

By 1969, Bouton was trying to revive his career, at age 30, by throwing a knuckleball for the expansion Seattle Pilots. Armour notes:
Making Bouton's job a bit tougher was his continued willingness to speak up when he felt there was a worthy cause at stake. In early 1968 he signed a statement supporting an American boycott of the coming Mexico City Olympic Games if South Africa's whites-only teams were allowed to participate in international competitions. The country had been barred by the Olympics beginning in 1964, but still took part in other events around the world. Bouton went to Mexico City to try to meet with representatives of the US Olympic Committee about the issue, but was rebuffed. He wrote about the cause and his ordeal in an article for Sport the next winter ["A Mission in Mexico City", Sport, August 1969].
During the 1969 season, Bouton took notes (sometimes during games) and spoke into a tape recorder almost every day. He and writer Leonard Shecter worked in the off-season turning the notes and transcripts into a book. Excerpts were published in Look magazine.

In Bouton's telling, players routinely cheated on their wives on road trips, devised intricate plans to peek under women's skirts or spy on them through hotel windows, spoke in casual vulgarities, drank to excess and swallowed amphetamines as if they were M&Ms. [Bouton later observed: "Amphetamines improved my performance about five percent. Unfortunately, in my case that wasn't enough."]

Mickey Mantle played hung over and was cruel to children seeking his autograph, he wrote. Carl Yastrzemski was a loafer. Whitey Ford illicitly scuffed or muddied the baseball and his catcher, Elston Howard, helped him do it. Most coaches were knotheads who dispensed the obvious as wisdom when they weren't contradicting themselves, and general managers were astonishingly penurious and dishonest in dealing with players over their contracts. ...

Over all, Bouton portrayed the game — its players, coaches, executives and most of the writers who covered them — as a world of amusing, foible-ridden, puerile conformity. ...

The commissioner at the time, Bowie Kuhn, called Bouton in for a reprimand; some players shunned him for spilling the beans to players' wives about what players did on road trips. ... A few players, including Elston Howard, claimed Bouton was a liar. And many of an older sportswriting generation felt Bouton had done irreparable damage to the game out of his own self-importance and desperation.
In addition to calling Bouton a "social leper", Dick Young, the reactionary writer for the New York Daily News, added: "People like this, embittered people, sit down in their time of deepest rejection and write. They write, oh hell, everybody stinks, everybody but me, and it makes them feel much better."

Others writers, particularly those who possessed a measure of intelligence, held a different view. Roger Angell (The New Yorker) called Ball Four "a rare view of a highly complex public profession seen from the innermost inside, along with an even more rewarding inside view of an ironic and courageous mind. And, very likely, the funniest book of the year."

Robert Lipsyte (New York Times) noted that reading the entire book provides the necessary context for the more revelatory passages, which appear as "a natural outgrowth of a game in which 25 young, insecure, undereducated men of narrow skills keep circling the country to play before fans who do not understand their problems or their work, and who use them as symbols for their own fantasies."

When the New York Public Library celebrated its centennial in 1995, Ball Four was the only sports book among the 159 titles in the "Books of the Century" exhibit. In 2002, Sports Illustrated named it #3 on its list of the top 100 sports books of all time.

Filmmaker Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham") was a minor league infielder when Ball Four was published. In 2010, he said:
It shines light on sports from a different angle. Baseball is about the guys that play it and it's about all the things that happen in between the big plays. It's a working-class game. It's approached with great romance and poetry and lyricism by outsiders and writers. And if you play the game, there's no myth or poetry. You're just trying to improve your statistics. You're trying to meet a woman in a bar. Those are the things that drive you. And I think Ball Four got at that somehow.
In 2000, ESPN published a series of articles marking the 30th anniversary of Ball Four. Rob Neyer spoke to Jeff Neuman, who worked as an editor for Macmillan Publishing and Simon and Schuster:
Ball Four is, if not the most famous baseball book, certainly the most important, and in good ways and bad. It changed the expectations of what not only sports books, but sports journalism could be. It created a very different appetite among the fans for inside stories, and especially for inside dirt. It was the first book to pierce the veil of the locker room -- and once Bouton started telling these stories, how could the press ignore them any longer? This, in turn, radically changed the atmosphere in locker rooms. ... Before the book, there was an understanding between players and writers about what you could write and what you couldn't. Those old rules are gone, and players today, to a much greater extent, feel surrounded by hostile forces.
Jim Caple wrote:
Back when he lived in a different house, Pirates assistant general manager Roy Smith kept his copy of Ball Four in a prominent place where he could always turn to its pages when he needed to look up a bit of wisdom from Joe Schultz or Fred Talbot.

"I kept it in the bathroom," Smith said. "That and 'The Godfather.' That pretty much covered it all. What else do you need? Well, I guess I could have had The Bible."

Perhaps. But does the Old Testament tell you how to play for a manager whose advice for most any situation was generally limited to "go pound some Budweiser"?

Smith estimates he's read Ball Four in its entirety five times, which is about average. I know several people (myself included) who read all or part of it every February as a spring training ritual. Just as pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona, fans report to the pages of Ball Four, the best book ever written about baseball.
The diverse reaction to the book was part of the social and political divide the country was going through. Bouton, a "communist" to some of his critics, unabashedly supported the war protesters, and held decidedly liberal views on civil rights, religion, the rights of women, the new player's union, poverty, and the other divisive issues of the time. ... George Frazier, a Boston Globe columnist who later showed up on Richard Nixon's enemies list, called Ball Four "a revolutionary manifesto. ... What is happening among baseball players, their doubting the divinity of demagogues ... is what is happening among housewives and their husbands who have had their fill of the shoddy wares and planned obsolescence foisted on them by American industry." ...

The most considered of Ball Four's negative reviews was written for Esquire by Roger Kahn [who] admired Shecter and Bouton, but is particularly critical of their depiction of life on the road, especially when Bouton and Shecter name names. ...

Bouton defended himself against this type of criticism, responding that he portrays himself as a part of the off-field stories, the drinking, the beaver shooting, and all the missed curfews. This is true, but Kahn correctly counters that Bouton did not show himself cheating on his wife, an act which carried, and still carries, an additional level of opprobrium from friends and family. ... (Kahn's view on issues of decorum evolved over the years. In his 1987 book Joe and Marilyn, for one example, he claims to reveal details of their private body parts, and discusses the quality of their love-making.)
In a separate article on Ball Four, Armour wrote:
When Bouton joined the Yankees in 1962, he was warned by his teammates about associating with reporters, especially Shecter, or "that f**king Shecter." Bouton rarely did what he was told, so he not only talked with the reporters, he became friends with many of them, including Shecter. ...

[Excerpts of Ball Four, in the June 2, 1970 issue of Look,] included details of Bouton's contract negotiations with the Yankees, a depiction of many players as ingenious peeping toms, salacious dialog that included sexual humor about players' wives, the widespread use of amphetamines in the game, and playful kissing between inebriated Seattle Pilots on the team plane. Most of the passages were benignly funny, and included Bouton's poignant insecurities about his place on his teams (on and off the field).

Although Bouton spent the majority of the book dealing with his day-to-day 1969 life with the Pilots and Astros, his comments on his years with the Yankees predictably generated the most controversy. ...

Bouton's first appearance in New York was on May 31 against the Mets, when he allowed three hits and three runs in one-third of an inning. He was booed from the time he began walking in from the bullpen until he retreated into the dugout after his appearance. He later wrote that it was his lowest moment ever on a baseball field. [1970 was also Bouton's final season in the majors, save for five starts in September 1978.] ...

The book struck a chord with so many people, perhaps, because while readers could not relate to throwing a 90-mile-per-hour fastball or hitting a slider, they understood too well the frustrations of daily life, spending time in close quarters with people with whom you had nothing in common, and dealing with arbitrary and petty regulations set down by unimaginative bosses. ...

His fellow players still did not like it. Joe Morgan, his teammate on the Astros, said, "I always thought he was a teammate, not an author. I told him some things I would never tell a sportswriter." By the time the book came out, the Seattle Pilots were extinct, having relocated to Milwaukee as the Brewers. Many of his ex-Pilot teammates, including Fred Talbot, Wayne Comer, and Don Mincher deeply resented the book and Bouton. ...

Jimmy Cannon, predictably, was not amused. Cannon blamed Shecter, though he never mentioned the collaborator by name in his scathing July 28 column. "The book is ugly with the small atrocities of the chipmunk's cruelty. In a way, Bouton is a chipmunk, a man who obviously cherishes himself as a social philosopher. The influence of the ghost is obvious … The literary critics take him seriously. It is as though he were assaulted with a sudden inspiration and rushed to a typewriter and put it all down in a flurry of creation. But he went to the spook, and one has to speculate where Bouton stops, and the ghost begins. Whose hatreds are these, whose theories? Which ones ethics governed the partnership?" ...

Ball Four sold 200,000 copies in hardcover, and countless more in paperback. ... In 1971 Bouton and Shecter collaborated on a sequel, I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, discussing the circus surrounding the publication of Ball Four. Bouton dedicated the new book to Dick Young and Bowie Kuhn.
In addition to Ball Four and I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, Bouton also wrote Strike Zone (a novel, with Eliot Asinof) and Foul Ball (about trying to save Wahconah Park, an old ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts), and I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad (compiled with the help of Neil Offen, his research assistant).

The definitive edition of Ball Four was published in 2011 as Ball Four: The Final Pitch, which included epilogues from 1981 (Ball Five), 1990 (Ball Six), and 2000 (Ball Seven).

July 8, 2019

In Other News . . .

We bought a house . . . the purchase was finalized last Friday . . . and we are now living in it!

We are, quite honestly, stunned at our good fortune. The dogs have been enjoying the back yard for most of the last two days, as we moved our stuff in. It's been exhausting, but seeing Cookie and Kai wrestling on the grass for hours and, later in the evening, completely zonked out, sleeping so peacefully on their beds, is wonderful.

(Taken on May 18)

July 7, 2019

G90: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

Red Sox - 020 030 010 - 6  9  0
Tigers  - 100 000 020 - 3  6  1

David Price / Gregory Soto
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Hernández, 2B
After today's game, the Red Sox have four days off - for some dumb reason.

AL East: MFY/Rays, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 7.5, BOS 10.0.