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"Tomorrow Is Your Best Friend": The Prince of Paranoia Tries To Remind Himself After Orioles Hit Bump in Road & Columbia Season Ends Abruptly

"Tomorrow Is Your Best Friend" is a line I heard first from Bobby Valentine when he was managing the Mets.  "The sun don't shine every day on the same dog's head" is another comforting adage I have heard from players after a tough loss. 


You can go crazy playing every game over and over in your head, micromanaging every pitch selection.  Especially nowadays since MLB has expanded to 12 teams eligible for post-season.  The basic truth remains.  It is better to be comfortably over .500 by Memorial Day than under it. 


I started drafting this edition of my blog when the Orioles lost three in a row in St Louis a week ago. The Orioles' regular season streak of not being swept in a series for two years ended with a thud. But the Cardinals are an improving team after their horrible start.  Before games on Memorial Day May 27 they were only one under .500. 


First baseman-outfielder Alec Burleson looks like the real deal and so does shortstop Masyn Winn. Another youngster Mike Siani is looking good in center field. They still have a ways to catch front-running Milwaukee and I'm rooting for former Oriole infielder Joey Ortiz who was packaged with lefthander DL Hall, now on the IL, for Corbin Burnes in the off-sseason. 


That sweepless Oriole streak was always a bogus kind of streak anyway - you could keep it going by winning only one out of three. And every Oriole player and fan knew that they were swept in the biggest series that mattered last year, the divisional series against the the eventual World Series-winning Texas Rangers.  


Happily, the Orioles have rebounded in the next series to sweep the woeful White Sox in almost equally rainy Chicago.  Unfortunately, the Birds do keep losing starting pitchers to injury, southpaw John Means most seriously.  Yet there is a chance than a Big Three of starters can be counted on as Birds try to catch the Yankees - Corbin Burnes (free agent after this season), Kyle Bradish, and Grayson Rodriguez. 


Bradish is a particular favorite of mine, coming from New Mexico State, an unheralded school and a prize pilfering from the Angels by the Mike Elias

administration in a trade for now-retired Dylan Bundy.  I was fearful that Bradish's sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) might lead to Tommy John surgery but so far the prescription of rest and a platelet-rich injection has been successful.


On Sunday May 26 in only his 5th start of the season, Bradish threw 7 no-hit innings and 103 pitches against those struggling White Sox. He really emptied the tank striking out the last two batters in the 7th.  It is a measure of how rare no-hitters will be in the future that even I, who loves the drama of that rare accomplishment of a no-hit game, accepted his removal after 7 innings.  So did Bradish.


Tomorrow for Columbia baseball won't come until late February.  Seeded first in the second annual 4-team Ivy league post-season tournament, they got swept for the second year in a row over the weekend of May 17-19.  They led the eventual champion Penn Quakers in the top of the 8th at our home field in northern Manhattan, but the second-seeded Phladelphians would not be denied.  They boast the Ivy League Player of the Year senior third baseman Wyatt Henseler from Hackensack, NJ.


Penn will represent the Ivy League in the Charlottesville regional facing top seed Virginia at noon on Fri May 31.  St. johns will face Mississippi State at 7p. All games in this first round of the NCAA tourney will be broadcast on ESPN+.


Other games of interest to fans in the Northeast are in top seed North Carolina going against Long Island at 6p with Wofford & LSU playing the earlier


At the U of Georgia in Athens, the Bulldogs will face Army at 1p followed by Georgia Tech v UNC Wilmington at 7p 


At Oklahoma State in Stillwater, the host team will face Niagara 7p.  Earlier Florida meets Big Ten playoff champion Nebraska at 3p.


At U of Oklahoma in Norman, UConn meets Duke and host Sooners play Oral Roberts.


In local high school playoff news, the PSAL quarter-finals are set for Tu May 28 at 330p.

Inwood v Richmond Hill, Forest Park Victory Field in Queens on Woodhaven and Myrtle Aves, Diamond #1

Beacon v John Jay, Parade Grounds in Bklyn, Diamond #3

Monroe v West 50th St Campus at Randalls Island, Field #48

Luperon (slayer of #1 seed Tottenville) vs Grand St Campus, American Legion Field #1 in Canarsie, Brooklyn


Semis will start on F May 31 at sites TBA, best of 3 series. Final for all three divisions will be either M June 10 or Tu June 11 at tentatively Yankee Stadium.  Check psal.org for the latest information. 


Before I close, here's a tip of the hat to MASNsports.com reporter Roch Kubatko for his informative interview on May 22 with former Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini.  He's living in Miami now. Only 32, he hasn't been signed by any team after not making the Marlins roster after a good spring training. He is not ready to retire but the best news is that he is cancer-free.  All his checkups have been positive.  


That's all for now.  I'm off to Cooperstown to give a talk at the annual Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.  My topic this year is "Remembering Birdie Tebbetts (1912-1999); Baseball's Last Idealist".  More on that adventure when I check in again early next month.

Always remember:  Take it easy but take it, and Stay Positive, Test Negative.

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Could Something Good Arise From Baseball's Sign-Stealing Scandal? + A Report on the 55th Annual NY Baseball Scouts Dinner

I try to be an optimist or at least a glass half-full kinda guy when trying to cope with life's inevitable problems. It may be hard to find any silver lining in the revelation of the Houston Astros's high-tech sign stealing operation that places in doubt the legitimacy of their 2017 World Series triumph and deep runs in the 2018 and 2019 playoffs. 


Acting firmly, Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended both Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A. J. Hinch for a year without pay, took away the first two Houston draft picks for the next two seasons, and fined the team the maximum allowed under his contract with the owners, $5 million.  Going one step further, Astro owner Jim Crane fired Luhnow and Hinch and will soon name replacements. 


Two more casualties have been Red Sox manager Alex Cora who was the Houston bench coach in 2017 and was named 11 times in Manfred's nine page single-spaced decision. Incoming Mets manager Carlos Beltran also walked the plank.


Beltran had been hailed as a veteran presence on the 2017 Astros but he was intimately involved in the sign-stealing shenanigans - one of those coordinating center field camera footage with replay equipment closer to the dugout so that batters knew what pitches were coming at key moments of the game. 


Many people have wondered why the players who were active participants in the scheme

have not been disciplined.  The reason is that their Players Association had never been informed of Manfred's directive late in the 2017 season warning teams to cease using technology illegally. 


Luhnow and Hinch had received the warning and ignored it. Interestingly, Manfred reported that Hinch was annoyed at the use of electronic equipment in the dugout and twice even broke the instruments.  But he never reported his dissatisfaction to his superiors.


Maybe, just maybe, the harsh punishments will lead to a realization throughout MLB that unbridled technology is dangerous without practicing common sense and simple sporting ethics. The dream of winning a World Series, former MLB outfielder Doug Glanville wrote eloquently after the scandal broke, drives "every professional player, [but it] loses meaning when champions cut corners." 


"Small enhancements lead to big advantages in the realm of the elite," Glanville added in two similar articles in newyorktimes.com and theathletic.com .  He concluded with a stirring observation:  "In times like these, I hope we all recognize that the case full of trophies brimming with records broken, blinding us with statistical opulence, may sometimes be the one that is actually empty." 


Old-fashioned sign-stealing has been going on forever in baseball.  It remains the only sport I know of where a "stolen base" is built into the rules.  But it is one thing to use eyes and ears methods - tipping of caps from bullpens, hand signals, uniform tugs, and the like - and quite another to take advantage of ballyhooed technology to gain an advantage. 


There will be more shoes to drop soon. Alex Cora has not yet been disciplined by MLB because an investigation of possible Red Sox chicanery during their 2018 championship season is still ongoing.


With all the headlines going to the sign-stealing scandal, there has hardly been a word written recently about MLB's plan to cut 42 minor league teams including some entire low-level leagues.  It is a plan, not coincidentally, pushed by the Houston analytic genuises. 


Let's hope some more thoughtful and empathetic people arise in the MLB hierarchy to keep the worst aspects of that proposal from happening. Perceptive scouting and patient player development remain the key to baseball success (although as more and more wealthy owners come into the game, these basic truths can easily get obscured). 


At the 55th annual New York Pro Scouts Hot Stove League banquet this past Friday night January 24, guest speaker Bobby Valentine reminded us that analytics is not really new but there has always been room in baseball for good thinking.  As long as one didn't forget the element of luck and being in the right place at the right time.


The former Mets manager's own story is illustrative of good fortune.  A great all-around athlete from Stamford, CT Valentine had the rare opportunity for a high school junior to play in the summer Cape Cod Baseball League.  His manager was none other than Lou Lamoriello who went on to great success as a Stanley Cup-winning National Hockey League general manager for the Jersey Devils (and now trying to do the same for the New York islanders).


Valentine gave tribute to another awardee Edgardo Alfonzo who he called "the best all-around player he ever managed".  The ever-humble Alfonzo expressed gratitude for all the plaudits he received this evening. 


The former Mets second-third baseman led the Brooklyn Cyclones to their first-ever New York Penn League championship in 2019.  He always told his players:  "Don't ever let anyone take your dreams away."  (Inexplicably, the Mets did not rehire Alfonzo for 2020 - his replacement will be former Seton Hall player/St. Johns coach Ed Blankmeyer.)    


Another highlight of the dinner was Billy Blitzer's reading the names of 13 northeastern players who broke into the majors in 2019. All but three came from the seventh round of the draft or later, a sign of the talent in this area that diligent hard-working scouts have discovered. 


Among the 13 are Mike Ford from Princeton, undrafted but who shone at 1B/DH for Yankees.

*Justin Dunn RHP from Boston College traded to Seattle in the Cano/Edwin Diaz deal

*Anthony Kay LHP from UConn, Mariners

*Mike King RHP from Boston College, Yankees 

*Nick Margevicus, LHP from Rider, Padres

*Aaron Civale, RHP from Northeastern, Indians (Civale was honored as Future Star awardee)

*Frank Schwindel 1B and Cody Stashak RHP, both from St. Johns, signed by John Wilson for the Twins. 


That's all for now.  Always remember: Take it easy but take it!





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