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Sunday, April 20, 2014

What if Verlander grooved one for Jeter as McLain did for Mantle?

Suppose it's game three of the first round of the tournament and Detroit leads two games to none, about to eliminate the Yankees with a 6-1 lead in the 8th inning?  Justin Verlander, former Cy Young award winner, is about to face the Yankees iconic captain Derek Jeter in what everyone assumes will his final time at bat.  Verlander calls his catcher out to the mound and tells him that he is going to groove a pitch, throw a real meatball, and let Jeter get a hit, hopefully a home run.  What the heck, Jeter is a great guy, let him go out on a high note.  Jeter realizes what is happening and gestures to Verlander as to where he wants the ball thrown.  Verlander complies and Jeter homers, making a brief thank you gesture back to Verlander as he rounds the bases.  The fans in Detroit stand and applaud both players.  They view it as a sign of sportsmanship and respect.

From those thrilling days of yesteryear:

Mickey Mantle has dropped from 3 to 16 in career home runs. PED or time marching on?  Saturday, April 19, 2014

Denny McLain
Mantle's final two homers were off Cy Young award winners, Denny McLain 1968 and Jim Lonborg 1967.  For the more anal among us, the McLain homer on Sept. 19, 1968 is generally considered to be tainted, as McLain indicated to Mantle and delivered a meatball intended for The Mick to hit out in what was understood to be his final plate appearance in Detroit.  McLain had his 31st victory locked up by that point in the game.  I remember Howard Cosell on his radio program the next day or so, going off about how outrageous it was and that the home run should be stricken.  The homer did, of course, push Mantle past Jimmie Foxx into third place.  Fortunately, The Mick justified his exalted ranking by hitting one more off Lonborg.  Back then I thought that Howard was full of beans on this but now I see his point.

Allen Huber "Bud" Selig, commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL) and zealous protector of what is righteous, might be faced with a real dilemma.  Like Mickey Mantle, Jeter is very popular with fans of all teams.  It's not like Alex Rodriguez had a friend and that lonely soul let A-Rod homer.

By the way in that Mantle game:

Thursday, September 19, 1968, , Tiger Stadium
Attendance: 9,063, Time of Game: 2:01

Tigers 6, Yankees 2

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees       0  0  0   0  0  1   0  1  0    2  8  0
Tigers          0  0  0   1  0  3   2  0  X    6 10  0

Mantle's plate appearances by inning:
1 - Single to CF (Ground Ball)
4 - Walk
6 - Walk
8 - Home Run

In the top of the ninth, Mike Ferraro and Horace Clarke singled.  Jake Gibbs made the final out by flying to right.  The tying run on deck: Mickey Mantle.

McLain was 24 years old in 1968 and would be finished at age 28.

1965 16-6  220 innings
1966 20-14  264
1967 17-16  235
1968 31-6  336
1969 24-9  325
1970 3-5  91  suspended twice
1971 10-22  216

McLain won the CyYoung award again in 1969, tied with Mike Cuellar of Baltimore.  In the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals McLain was only 1-2, 16.66 innings, 3.24 ERA.


McLain ... had a gambling obsession and was suspended indefinitely by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn; the suspension was then set for the first three months of the 1970 season...  McLain then received a seven-day suspension in September for dousing two sportswriters (Jim Hawkins of the Detroit Free Press and Watson Spoelstra of the Detroit News) with buckets of water. Just as the seven-day suspension was about to end, he received another suspension from Kuhn, this time for carrying a gun on a team flight, for at least the rest of the season...  Later that year, despite being the first $100,000 player in Tigers history, he was forced into bankruptcy.

In his post-baseball career, his weight ballooned to 330 pounds ... stints in prison and rehabilitation

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