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[Posted early Sun. p.m.]
Baseball Quiz: 1) Who is the last pitcher in each league to throw 300 innings? 2) Who are the two pitchers in MLB to throw 376 innings since 1950? Answers below.
--The Houston Astros were declared to be the big winner at the trade deadline with the acquisition of veteran ace Zack Greinke, giving them a Big Three in the playoffs of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke (plus No. 4 Wade Miley, who is hardly chopped liver). The Astros, and Dodgers, have to be the favorites for the World Series.
But Houston sent four top prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks in return...the third-, fourth-, fifth- and 22nd-rated prospects in their farm system for an aging pitcher to whom Houston will owe roughly $46 million in 2020 and 2021, when he is 36 and 37. [Greinke is owed $35 million in each of 2020 and ’21, but the D’backs kicked in $24m. So the Astros are actually paying $53m of $77m remaining, including the balance of 2019.]
In other words, Houston better win it all, especially with Gerrit Cole set to become a free agent in the offseason.
But for this year, and the looming postseason, the fact is Greinke has been as effective the last few years as anyone, going 55-29, 3.40, with Arizona after they signed him to the huge contract.
Separately, on Saturday, the Astros had four pitchers combine on a no-hitter, none of whom were Greinke, Verlander, Cole or Miley. Aaron Sanchez, who was acquired from the Blue Jays after going 3-14 with a 6.07 ERA in Toronto, having lost 13 in a row, in his first start with Houston threw six hitless innings.
Heading into Sunday, this is Houston’s rotation.
Verlander 14-4, 2.73 [Make that 15-4, 2.68, after today’s 3-1 win over Seattle]
Cole 13-5, 2.87
Greinke 10-4, 2.90
Miley 10-4, 3.05
And let’s compare it to the Dodgers’ rotation, should the two match up in October.
Ryu 11-2, 1.53
Kershaw 10-2, 2.85
Bueller 10-2, 3.22...complete game, 15-strikeout performance Sat.
And then at No. 4 for the playoffs, if necessary, either Kenta Maeda 7-8, 4.07; Ross Stripling 4-4, 3.64, or Rich Hill, 4-1, 2.55...though Hill is on the 60-day DL for a left forearm strain.
And let’s just throw in the Yankees’ rotation, which could change if Luis Severino returns from his season-long injury, as the team expects.
Tanaka 7-6, 4.78
Happ 8-6, 5.19
German 14-2, 3.98
Paxton 6-6, 4.61
--Speaking of New York, the Yankees have at least righted the ship after their rough stretch, related to atrocious starting pitching, and officially buried the Red Sox on Saturday, taking a day/night doubleheader, 9-2, 6-4.
New York 71-39
Tampa Bay 65-48...7.5
[Boston is 6 back of the wild card...Tampa Bay, at the moment.]
But Saturday the Yanks lost two more to injury. First baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion broke a wrist when hit by a pitch late in the opener, and then in the nightcap, centerfielder Aaron Hicks left the game with a right elbow injury that occurred on a throw to third base.
Starting first baseman Luke Voit was already shelved for at least six weeks, but it didn’t matter, at least for a day, as DJ LeMahieu played first and homered twice in Game 1, while Gleyber Torres smashed two homers in Game 2.
It’s been that kind of season for the Yanks, who improved to 10-4 against Boston with five games remaining, including Sunday night.
But the Yanks have now had 25 players on the IL, with 16 currently sidelined, including starting pitchers Luis Severino and CC Sabathia, reliever Dellin Betances, infielders Miguel Andujar, Voit, and Encarnacion, catcher Gary Sanchez, and, oh yeah, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
And one note on the Red Sox, who are still in the wild-card hunt. Chris Sale was rocked for eight earned in 3 2/3 in the opener Saturday, and is now 0-4, 9.90 ERA against the Yanks this season. After signing a six-year, $160m extension in March, he has rewarded the team by going 5-11, 4.68, after going 29-12 his first two seasons in Beantown.
Meanwhile, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is still being questioned for his inability to obtain a frontline starter at the trade deadline.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Cashman said. “We engaged all teams (except for the Red Sox) and some players we didn’t match up for, other circumstances those players weren’t really available even though they were widely talked about in the public setting. Some of them obviously have some (issues that prevented a trade), whether it was a contract-status issue or medical issue. So it was just a lot of individual circumstances that put us in a position to not be able to complete anything.”
But what I found interesting in Cashman’s comments is that he said he attempted to work a deal with the Mets, who asked for too much for his liking for either starters Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, the price tag reportedly being top prospects Estevan Florial and Deivi Garcia.
What is noteworthy is that Mets fans have been programmed to believe ownership refuses to allow their general managers to deal with the Yankees, afraid of getting burned and having an ex-Met appear in a Yankees’ parade down Broadway.
But Cashman said, “I talked to (Mets GM) Brodie (Van Wagenen) quite a lot.”
Separately, one offseason move Cashman can be praised to the heavens for was the signing of DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million contract...a move that had many Yankees fans shrugging at the time.
In fact I wrote on Jan. 14 in this space:
“I’m sure not a Yankee fan, but I love what they did in bringing in LeMahieu....
“Yes, LeMahieu has benefited from Coors Field, a .330 batting there vs. .264 on the road, but in ‘The Little Bandbox That Ruth Didn’t Build,’ DJ will do just fine.”
And indeed he has. [Of course I have to admit in the same column I thought the Mets’ signing of Jed Lowrie was “terrific.” Cough cough.]
All Lemahieu has done is become a strong A.L. MVP candidate, batting .336, with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs. With all the injuries, he has been single-handedly picking up the slack.
By contrast, Brodie Van Wagenen of the Mets signed Lowrie to two years, $20 million, and Lowrie is unlikely to see a major league diamond the entire season due to a variety of injuries.
As Johnny Mac put it today:
Yankee fans hear DJ LeMahieu and chant MVP
Met fans hear Jed Lowrie and chant MIA
--Speaking of my Mets, they have now taken 9 of 10 to move to 55-56 and very much in the wild card hunt, following a 13-2 win today over the Pirates, Noah Syndergaard with his fifth straight start of seven innings. J.D. Davis is hitting .353 in his last 45 games, the best in baseball.
Us Mets fans are thrilled to have meaningful games in August. Now it’s about making them meaningful in September.
--Toronto is receiving criticism for dumping all their veterans and it was not a good look when Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins – after his team traded away Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, Daniel Hudson, Eric Sogard and David Phelps – gloated on a conference call about turning “14 years of [contractual] control into 42 years of control.” As Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post observed, “As if hoarding young, controllable talent at cheap salaries is the overarching mission instead of winning titles.”
--39-year-old Twins slugger Nelson Cruz hit three home runs in a game Saturday night for the second time in 10 days, powering the Twinkies to an 11-3 victory over the Royals in Minneapolis. Cruz drove in five runs for the second consecutive night as well, and now has 11 homers and 23 RBIs in his past nine starts. [30 HR 72 RBI, .295 BA, 1.039 OPS for the season]
Only two other players have had two three-homer games within 10 days; Doug DeCinces did it for the California Angeles on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, 1982, and Johnny Mize did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on July 13 and July 20, 1938.
--Major League Baseball came down hard on the participants in the Pirates-Reds brawl last Tuesday night, with Pittsburgh pitcher Keone Kela getting banned for 10 games for “intentionally” throwing a pitch near the head of the Red’s Derek Dietrich and later instigating the brawl.
“The incidents between these two clubs remain a source of concern, and it’s reflected by the level of discipline we are handing down today,” JoeTorre, chief baseball officer for MLB, said in a statement. “Everyone on the field should be aware of the example they are setting for fans, particularly young people.
“I firmly expect these two managers and all others to hold their players accountable for appropriate conduct and to guide them in the right direction.”
Pittsburgh won the game, 11-4, and after, Reds manager David Bell, who was suspended for six games, contended the Pirates throw at batters purposely.
The following night, Wednesday, Cincinnati won 4-1 in a quiet game.
But the Reds and Pirates next play Aug. 23 at Pittsburgh – a game, incidentally, already billed as fireworks night.
--The story of Nathan Patterson is no doubt a good one. The 23-year-old turned heads on social media when his brother Christian posted a video of him tossing 96mph heat in the speed pitch at a Colorado Rockies game...and the Oakland A’s then signed the fan to a contract, despite the fact that Patterson hasn’t played organized ball since high school.
Patterson said he didn’t have much of an arm in high school, though he played through senior year. But he started training after he surprised himself last summer by hitting the mid-90s on the gun at a speed pitch at a minor league game in Nashville, Tenn., according to MLB.com.
--J.T. Poston won the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. today, his first PGA Tour title, shooting 8-under 62 for a one-stroke victory over Web Simpson (Go Deacs!).
Incredibly, though, Poston became the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win a 72-hole stroke-play event without any bogeys or worse.
But the Wyndham represents the last chance for players on the bubble to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and there are always 2 or 3 who sneak in, and an equal amount who don’t.
So I told you how Alex Noren was on the cut line at 125, and he ended up finishing 129.
Pat Perez didn’t make the cut for the weekend, but fell from 122 to 125 so he is on to the Northern Trust.
And Andrew Landry, who came into the week 132, moved up to 123 with a T-19. B.C. alum Steve D., my intra-Wake-B.C. betting buddy (I just collected on Wake-B.C. baseball, with football looming) knows Landry’s caddie and Steve will be working the Northern Trust, so he is under orders to get some exclusive Tour intelligence.
--According to both The Independent and The Sun newspapers, golf pro Thorbjorn Olesen, who had just competed in last weekend’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, was arrested on Monday for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman and urinating in the aisle of a British Airways flight from Memphis to London while drunk. Both outlets reported that the five-time European Tour winner allegedly molested the woman while she was asleep in first class, then became involved in an argument with other passengers on the flight, causing fellow European Tour pro Ian Poulter, who was also on the plane, to intervene.
Pathetic. And I can’t help but note a week earlier, Poulter was partying with Shane Lowry in Dublin following The Open, and then days later, he has to get involved in something like this. Life can be funny that way.
Premier League / Futbol
I’m going to have more on the opening of the new Premier League season next chat, play commencing next weekend, but for now, there has been some player news, including outside the PL.
--Argentina captain Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, has been banned from international football for three months after claiming the Copa America was “corrupt.”
The Barcelona forward was sent off in Argentina’s 2-1 third-place play-off win over Chile and later said the “cup was fixed for Brazil.”
He was also fined $50,000 by the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol).
The ban means Messi will miss Argentina’s upcoming friendlies, which is meaningless, while Argentina’s qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup begins in March 2020, which is all that matters.
Following Argentina’s 2-0 semi-final defeat by hosts Brazil, the Argentine Football Association complained about “serious and gross refereeing errors.”
In response, Conmebol said accusations questioning the integrity of the Copa America were “unfounded” and “represent a lack of respect.”
Messi was shown a red card in the 37th minute against Chile. Messi then said after, “”We don’t have to be part of this corruption.”
--Real Madrid did not have a great 2018/19 campaign after selling Cristiano Ronaldo (the second best player in the world) to Italian club Juventus. After winning the previous three Champions League competitions, they finished third in La Liga and exited the Champions League in the round of 16.
So Madrid was looking to rebound and they went on a spending spree this summer, with Belgian attacker Eden Hazard the centerpiece, coming over from Chelsea for somewhere between $113 and $160 million. Madrid reportedly spent an additional $231.4 million on four other players, including rising Serbian star Luka Jovic.
But in Real Madrid’s preseason, one thing has been painfully clear. Hazard has added about 15 pounds, according to reports, which drew the ire of Madrid big boss Florentino Perez. Given that Hazard only stands 5-9, and has a game predicated on speed and explosiveness, Madrid brass has cause for concern. His play in friendlies has been poor, to say the least.
--Meanwhile, Manchester United is reportedly set to break the world transfer record for a defender after agreeing to pay $97 million to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester. United has been pursuing the center back for more than a year since his standout performances at the 2018 World Cup for England, and finally agreed to Leicester’s asking price with just a week remaining in the summer transfer window.
The first major poll is out...the Coaches Poll. And for the first time in this one, Clemson is preseason No. 1, the Tigers and Alabama, of course, receiving the only first-place votes. So this season could be a rather anti-climactic one.
1. Clemson (59)
2. Alabama (6)
5. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
11. Texas A&M
14. Penn State
22. Syracuse...only other ACC team in top 25
Nick Buoniconti, the tenacious middle linebacker who won two Super Bowls in the 1970s with the Miami Dolphins, died last week at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. He was 78. Buoniconti had been in hospice care. In 2015 doctors told him he showed signs of dementia.
Sam Farmer / Los Angeles Times
“Nick Buoniconti was an undersized NFL linebacker, but he left a larger-than-life impression on the game he loved....
“A leader of the Miami Dolphins’ ‘No-Name Defense,’ Buoniconti was a fixture on teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls, including the only franchise that finished with an unblemished 17-0 record.
“In retirement, he and his son, Marc, worked tirelessly in pursuit of a cure for paralysis, helping raise more than a half-billion dollars in that pursuit. They helped to found the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the world’s largest spinal cord injury research center.
“In 1985, Marc suffered a catastrophic football injury. He was paralyzed from the shoulders down after making a tackle for the Citadel. After that, his father dedicated his life to finding a cure for paralysis.
“At the end of his Hall of Fame speech in 2001, Nick Buoniconti said: ‘I would trade this [Super Bowl] ring in, and all my individual accomplishments, if one thing could happen in my lifetime. My son Marc dreams that he walks. And as a father, I would like nothing more than to walk by his side.’
“ ‘My dad has been my hero and represents what I have always aspired to be: a leader, a mentor and a champion,’ the younger Buoniconti said in a statement.”
After his playing career, Buoniconti was known to millions as co-host of HBO’s ‘Inside the NFL,’ where he worked alongside former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson. Buoniconti, an attorney, also worked as president of U.S. Tobacco and as a player agent.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Buoniconti starred on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame, as a linebacker and offensive guard, but went undrafted by the NFL. The Boston Patriots, though, took him in the 13th round, and he played with them from 1962-68.
Buoniconti was then traded to Miami, playing with the Dolphins from 1969-74, and a final season in 1976. In 1973, he set a Dolphins franchise record with 162 tackles, anchoring the team’s vaunted “No-Name Defense.” He was the only member of that defense elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But late in life, Buoniconti battled a devastating and untreatable neurodegenerative disease that was most likely CTE. He pledge to donate his brain to the Boston University CTE Center upon his death. As of 2017, the CTE Center had found the disease in 110 of the 111 former NFL players’ brains it had examined.
“I’m positive that football caused this,” Buoniconti said in ‘The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti’ (2019), an HBO documentary.
“I’m not mad at the game, I’m mad at the owners,” he said. “I think that we paved the way for the NFL being what it is today. In other words, we, uh, paved the way for them and they’re, they’re reaping all the benefits.”
He added, “Sorry, I’m not, uh, I’m not, uh, coherent.”
Ken Belson / New York Times
“When Nick Buoniconti walked off the pro football field for the final time in 1976, he got down on his hands and knees and kissed the turf at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
“The future Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker had won two Super Bowls and had broken a lot of bones by then. By his own estimate, Buoniconti absorbed more than a half million hits to the head during his playing days before and with the Miami Dolphins.
“Still, he ‘thanked God that I’d never gotten seriously hurt,’ Buoniconti told Sports Illustrated years later. ‘Fourteen-year career? I could’ve been maimed.’”
Hall of Fame coach Don Shula said: “Nick was special to me in every way. He was someone I greatly admired. His love for his wife, Lynn, his children, grandchildren, friends, teammates, family and the community was evident. His groundbreaking work with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has made a huge difference in the lives of so many people. I am thankful to have had Nick in my life. I will miss him.”
--And we note the passing of Cliff Branch, the former Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders wide receiver who was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. He died Saturday at the age of 71. Authorities said he was found in a hotel room and an initial investigation determined he died of natural causes.
Branch, who played from 1972-85, was a four-time Pro Bowl pick and three-time All-Pro selection, leading the league in touchdown receptions twice.
Overall, Branch caught 501 passes for 8,685 yards, a 17.3 average, and 67 touchdowns. He was one of the more exciting deep threats of his generation.
In 22 playoff games, Branch averaged 17.7 per reception, with two touchdown catches from Jim Plunkett in Super Bowl XV, a 27-10 win against the Eagles.
His 1,289 receiving yards in the postseason stands as the fourth-highest total of any player in league history.
--The other day I had a piece on former running back Keith Lincoln, who has passed away, and noted his heroic performance in the 1963 championship game, 349 total yards as the Chargers picked up their first and only title over the Boston Patriots.
But I didn’t have time to relate what happened the following year, and then Mark R. told me he was in the stands, with his father, at War Memorial Stadium, 1964, as the Chargers faced off against the Buffalo Bills for the championship.
In this one, Keith Lincoln started well, “bursting through the Bills’ defense for a 38-yard run that helped the Chargers take the lead, 7-0. But midway through the first quarter, Lincoln broke a rib on a crunching tackle by Mike Stratton, a Bills linebacker. Lincoln did not return, and the Bills won the title, 20-7.” [Richard Sandomir / New York Times]
“Buffalo still loves that hit,” Lincoln said with a laugh in an interview with the newspaper The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., in 1995.
Mark R. said, indeed, at 18 years old, he was on top of the world, as it was the Bills’ first of two consecutive titles (their only two). As he commented, “The play was right in front of us and saw it developing. To this day it was the hardest hit I ever saw!”
--Finally, word today has Tom Brady signing a two-year contract extension, taking him through 2020 and 2021. He will be paid $23 million this season, $30 million in 2020, and $32 million in 2021. Please just disappear. #JetsFan
--Chase Elliott won his fifth NASCAR Cup title at Watkins Glen in a tight finish with Martin Truex Jr. Elliott owns The Glen.
Years ago, my father took my brother and I there to see a Can-Am race (way cool), but I’ll never forget the traffic jam coming home from upstate New York. [Ditto when my race-loving brother got Dad to take us to Bridgehampton on Long Island. Which is why Dad was nominated for “Father of the Year” multiple times, because let me tell you, for him these trips sucked.]
--Cape Cod is inundated with sharks, 24 sightings of great whites in the past week, as of Friday, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app. In the past five years, around 300 white sharks have been identified by researchers along the coast of the Cape. And a number of terrifying photos and videos have gone viral in recent weeks, documenting sharks leaping out of the water or turning the ocean red with seal’s blood.
As in, if you are a seal and reading this note, seek higher ground! Repeat, seek higher ground! Join a circus. You won’t have the freedom of movement you have in the water, but you’ll get three squares and learn a trade.
Meanwhile, warming seas are bringing sharks typically found in southern waters, like bull sharks and blacktips, to New Jersey on a more frequent basis, according to a Rutgers researcher.
--The Rolling Stones played MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Thursday night, and at one point, Mick Jagger called out the legendary Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, which is a destination for many a late-night concert-goer, as well as for Jets and Giants fans over the years....among many others. In 2017 it was named the country’s second-best 24-hour diner by the Daily Meal, which called it “a quintessential New Jersey hangout, with a menu about as long as War and Peace.”
Jagger said he was there the morning of the concert, eating a Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich. This was significant because he correctly called it “Taylor ham.” This is part of the long-time debate in my state over our signature sandwich...is it Taylor ham, or ‘pork roll’? In the north it’s Taylor ham. In the south it’s pork roll. Plus on the Tick Tock Diner’s menu it is written as Taylor ham.
But was Jagger actually there? When the press went to the diner after Jagger’s pronouncement, of course none of the staff interviewed was working at the time he would have been there.
But...I saw a local news report where one of the managers who was there at the time said he came in and no one recognized him, because he was wearing a cap and had it pulled down, which makes total sense. This would have been a weekday morning crowd, immersed in its routine, and unlikely to take note of a stranger.
The Stones have a big history in New Jersey, having played 24 dates here, including at Symphony Hall in 1965, with Patti LaBelle opening.
The Star-Ledger newspaper noted that on July 3, 1966, at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, the Stones played, with the Trade Winds, the Standells (“Dirty Water”) and the McCoys (“Hang on Sloopy”) all opening That would have been fun. But I was just 8 years old and my mother wouldn’t have let me drive down there.
--It’s official...Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour is the all-time highest-grossing tour in history with Friday’s show in Hanover, Germany.
Pollstar forecasts the total gross to this point of $736.7 million will top the previous record of $735.4 million set by U2 in 2011.
The Divide Tour launched on Mar. 16, 2017, and is due to end on Aug. 26.
Sheeran’s tour topped U2’s attendance record of 7.3 million on May 24 in France with a total attendance of 7,315,970.
Top 3 songs for the week 8/4/73: #1 “The Morning After” (Maureen McGovern) #2 “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” (Jim Croce...never liked this tune...) #3 “Live And Let Die” (Wings...loved this one...)...and...#4 “Smoke On The Water” (Deep Purple...totally unique for its time...) #5 “Yesterday Once More” (Carpenters) #6 “Diamond Girl” (Seals & Crofts) #7 “Touch Me In The Morning” (Diana Ross... ‘how did you get here?’...) #8 “Brother Louie” (Stories) #9 “Will It Go Round In Circles” (Billy Presont) #10 “Shambala” (Three Dog Night...B+ week...)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Last pitcher in the N.L. to throw 300 innings was Steve Carlton, 304, 1980, Philadelphia. In the A.L. it’s Jim Palmer, 319, 1977, Baltimore. 2) The two pitchers to throw 376 innings since 1950 are Wilbur Wood, 376 2/3, 1972, White Sox; and Mickey Lolich, 376, 1971, Detroit.
Knuckleballer Wood had his big run, 1971-74, when he won 20+ games each season and threw 334, 376, 359 and 320 innings.
Pre-Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro threw 300+ 1977-79; 330, 334, 342.
No way I would have gotten Jim Palmer, by the way. If you did, pour yourself a frosty.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The Braves came into town for a weekend set, the Mets on a four-game losing streak.
Aug. 1: Mets snap it, 5-4, as they hit Phil Niekro hard for all 5 runs, even as Don Cardwell was knocked out for the Mets in the first inning. But then Cal Koonce threw 6 1/3 of one-run relief, followed by Ron Taylor who picked up the save.
Aug. 2: Jim McAndrew, who had been struggling all season, threw seven shutout innings, and Cleon Jones, out of the starting lineup for the weekend, for a rest they said, hit a pinch-hit single in the seventh for the lone run, the Mets winning 1-0, with Tug McGraw going the last two for the save. Ron Reed took the loss for Atlanta.
Aug. 3: The Mets completed the sweep, winning a thriller, 6-5 in 11 innings as Jerry Grote, who had homered on Friday, led off the bottom of the eleventh with another home run (his fourth of the year) off Atlanta reliever Claude Raymond.
The Mets had been down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth when they tied it up with five, Cleon Jones coming off the bench for another key pinch-hit, this one a 2-run single. But Gary Gentry (5 innings, 5 runs) was hit hard again.
So the Mets are 58-44, 6 ½ back of the Cubs. And now they hit the road for four in Cincinnati, four in Atlanta, and three in, horrors, Houston. I don’t have a good feeling about this.
But, on a different topic, I totally forgot this bit from the Daily News’ Phil Pepe (Aug. 2, 1969).
“Reportedly, Met officials balked during expansion talks last winter, reluctant to give up the Dodgers and Giants, who had accounted for one-third of the Mets’ home attendance during their first seven years. They refused to go along with a strict geographical breakdown, which would have put the Mets in an Eastern Division with the Braves, Reds, Phils, Pirates and Expos.
“As a compromise, Cincinnati and Atlanta went West and the Cardinals and Cubs, more appealing at the box office, joined the East.”
Well, prior to the Braves series, had the Mets stayed with the strict geographical division, they would have been 1 ½ back as of August 1, not 6 back of the Cubs.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday...the Premier League...whether you like it or not....