Now that was some kind of trade deadline day. Big names moving. Teams at the top of the standings wheeling and dealing. Started early in the morning with the big Jon Lester-to-Oakland deal and never stopped until the 4 p.m. whistle hit. Our annual reminder: That was the non-waiver trade deadline. You can still keep trading, but players now have to clear waivers and sometimes get pulled back.
For now at least, how does it all shake out with an eye on October and beyond? Here’s a quick review:
• Athletics and Tigers: With apologies to everyone in the AL East as well as the Angels and Mariners, we should just get right to the ALCS with these two teams. Anything less would be a surprise. How about potential Games 1-2-3 rotations of Jon Lester-Jeff Samardzija-Sonny Gray against Max Scherzer-David Price-and either Justin Verlander or Anibel Sanchez?
The Tigers now have the last three Cy Young winners (Scherzer, Price, Verlander) and the last 3 AL MVPs (Miguel Cabrera, Verlander). Don’t discount the Jonny Gomes factor too. The A’s got him back and I realize he’s a limited platoon player – who also only happens to win everywhere he goes (Rays, Reds, A’s, Red Sox).
• Red Sox: The New York Times noted Friday they could be the first team in the division era to go from worst to first and back to worst again in a three-year span. Amazing how many players are gone from a World Series team but also interesting to see guys they’ve acquired (Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly) and the prospects they have available, especially on the mound. They plan on contending next year and you have to believe them.
• Blue Jays: They’re banking on the return of injured Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind being their additions. Very risky. You wonder if they need to take an August flyer on the likes of Cole Hamels or A.J. Burnett, or at least some bullpen help. The players were not happy on deadline day in Houston, particularly star Jose Bautista. They expected management to get them some help in a year the AL East is there to take.
• Cardinals: Another clubhouse bubbling with unhappiness. These guys came up together. Ten of them played in Batavia when they were in Class A ball and made it all the way to the Fall Classic. There’s some who feel they were a little too comfortable and needed the outside shake-ups of big and sometimes troublesome personalities that John Lackey and A.J. Pierzynski bring. We’ll see.
• Yankees: They’re just kind of muddling along with a roster that now includes the likes of Chris Capuano, Brandon McCarthy, Esmil Rogers, Steven Drew, Chase Headley and Martin Prado. It all seems kind of bizarre. But they’re not out of it yet, especially if Masahiro Tanaka can come back. And either Prado or Headley would have certainly been an infield upgrade for the Blue Jays, something that’s clearly noticed in the Toronto clubhouse.
• Phillies: What were they doing? Just getting another year older and getting no prospects in return for another lost season. Ryan Howard’s contract makes him untradable but at some point they’re going to have to move on Hamels and Burnett. They should have moved on Cliff Lee and then he suffered a season-ending injury Thursday night. Embattled GM Ruben Amaro is getting pounded by the Philly media.
Rule confusion reigns
Baseball has to do something with the home plate collision rule that no one seems to understand, including the umpires. The Marlins were furious Thursday night after a 6½-minute review allowed the Reds’ tying run to score in the eighth inning in what turned into a 3-1 loss after it appeared Giancarlo Stanton had thrown out the tying run at home by several feet.
But umpires in New York ruled catcher Jeff Mathis failed to give runner Zach Cosart, who didn’t slide, a lane to the plate. It was utter foolishness. Manager Mike Redmond went berserk when the safe call was made and was ejected.
“To lose this game on a technicality is bull...,” Redmond said. “I would love for somebody to come down here and explain to my guys exactly how to block the plate. I don’t really know if anybody knows how to teach it, because I don’t know if anybody knows what the rule is.”
Third baseman Casey McGehee put things in even plainer terms: “It’s not baseball anymore. It’s not the game we all grew up playing. It’s a joke. I hope a World Series game gets decided by it. What are you going to do then? This is a grown man’s sport. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. At the same time, we’re not playing Ping-Pong or golf.”
MLB officials issued a release Friday saying the call was correct with the rule as written. But everyone involved with the game expects the rule to get major discussion this winter.
Wedge hosting golf benefit
New Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer and former Bisons manager Eric Wedge is combining with his wife, Kate, an Alden native, to host a benefit golf tournament for Kate’s late mother next Sunday at Arrowhead Golf Course in Akron.
Dubbed the Carol K Golf Classic, it’s named for Carol Kulniszewski. She died in 2009 of multiple myeloma, and the tournament has been held in her honor since to raise money for groups. This year’s beneficiary is the Zukowski Children’s Fund, for two children left orphaned by an April murder-suicide in Kate’s hometown. The scramble format event begins at 1 p.m.
For nongolfers, there is a wine-tasting tour running from 1-5:30 p.m. before returning to the course for the tournament dinner and awards ceremony. There are several contests and prizes – including a mystery ball section – and a silent auction of memorabilia.
The cost for golf and dinner is $110 for an individual or $400 for a foursome. The wine tasting is $90 and a dinner-only guest is $40. Full information and registration is available by going to the tournament’s website at Carolkgolfclassic.com.
Around the horn
• Aside from the home-plate confusion, what else does baseball need to fix? Game times. I took my son to Chicago last week for three games, two at Wrigley Field and one at U.S. Cellular Field. We saw no extra innings and one replay challenge. Game times: 3 hours, 35 minutes, 3:36 and 3:44.
We saw 45 strikeouts and 33 walks, so pitch counts really got high. But there were also far too many pitching changes, batters stepping out, mound visits, batters waiting for their walk-up music, etc. What’s it going to be like in the postseason?
• ESPN has announced that broadcasters Dan Shulman and John Kruk will call tonight’s Yankees-Red Sox game from the Monster Seats atop Fenway Park’s famed Green Monster in left field. Earlier this year, the duo called a game from the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field.
When the Yankees and Red Sox met at Fenway in April, the starting pitchers were Lester vs. Tanaka, Lackey vs. Michal Pineda and Felix Doubront vs. CC Sabathia. When they met this weekend, none of those six were on either roster.
• Syracuse Chiefs broadcaster Jason Benetti has announced that his last game with the team will be Aug. 10 because he is taking jobs with Westwood One Radio and a national television opportunity to be announced. Benetti has called basketball games for three seasons for ESPN.
Benetti, one of the truly good guys in the International League, has overcome cerebral palsy to forge a great career in broadcasting and was the subject of a widely circulated feature last summer in the Washington Post, in part because the Chiefs are a Nationals affiliate.