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May 2, 2017

Short Relief

Cats Review a Reds-Pirates Game, Eric Thames's Beginning's End, and Sixty Year Old All-Star Snubs

by Kate Preusser, Matt Ellis and Emma Baccellieri

I Try to Interest My Cats in a Reds-Pirates Game

By: Kate Preusser

Look, cats, here is a baseball game for us to watch.

CATS: [sleeping]

Amir Garrett is a little interesting, though, isn’t he? Certainly he is more interesting than a good portion of the Reds rotation. If I am going to watch a Reds game, as at some point one should in order to be a well-rounded baseball fan, this is probably a good one to watch.

LARGE CAT: [blinks]

Andrew McCutchen hits a solo home run.

SMALL CAT: [stands up and stretches]

You are right! This is good and interesting and a good sign for the game to come. Inning ends immediately after, on a soft groundout. (CATS return to sleep.)

Look, cats, Billy Hamilton stole a base! He has 11 steals. That is more than 10 other teams have, and as many as the Orioles and Rockies have combined. This will surely ignite an offensive…[next two batters strike out]. Well, still, that was an exciting moment.

CATS: [sleeping]

[Waving feather at TV screen] Look, cats, you have slept through six full innings of baseball. You have missed so many...groundouts. But look! A Josh Harrison solo home run! [Waving more furiously]

SMALL CAT: [leaps towards TV. Jordy Mercer bunt pops out. SMALL CAT saunters away from TV, ignoring feather]

I don’t know what you want from me, I’m doing everything I can here. Here, look, Billy Hamilton is on base. Something fun is going to happen here. There, he stole another base. That is more than 13 other teams in MLB. And Joey Votto walked! Now we’re cooking [Throwing catnip in general direction of TV].

LARGE CAT [paws at screen as Adam Duvall hits a three-run home run]

See? See? Baseball is fun!

LARGE CAT [sits in front of television, obscuring half the view, and begins laboriously cleaning itself]

I don’t see how you can expect me to see around you. I totally missed Josh Harrison’s home run to tie the game. And it’s going to...extra innings. Free baseball! Let’s get weird! Gift Ngoepe is in the game! Felipe Rivero just threw a baseball faster than the bullet train! Scott Schebler is up! Wheeee!

MLB.TV: [Freezes]

CATS, in unison: [Purring]

When Eric Thames Thought it was Over

By: Matt Ellis

He heard the crack of the bat, and watched the ball as it jumped into the thin August air. It wasn’t out--he knew that much--but it was going to be a dicey grab...what, headed for the shadows and all. Still, he put on the gas, ran to the warning track, and pulled it out of the air for the first out of the game.

Routine, he thought.

Close, but routine. Besides, it was a getaway day in Seattle, and the sparse crowd that was skipping out on their Wednesday lunches were probably looking not for grandeur but instead for mere distraction from routine. But it was all he could offer.

He settled back into his spot underneath the Hit it Here Cafe, once occupied by one of the greatest contact hitters in history, and took note to smell the grass. They overwatered it that morning, so it smelled a bit more green than usual. Green, but fresh. Like me, he thought. Still, he knew that what he was given could be taken away at the drop of a hat, so he tried not to get too caught up in the moment there, his second season in the bigs, in order to “let the game come to him.”

A few hours later the pitcher would be shouting to the heavens and not a single man had reached base for only the 23rd time in league history. They all threw their mitts in the air and jumped around the mound like children, and he thought then and there that this may be the one I’ll remember at 73. Nothing from his own accord, but simply being pulled into the orbit of a nearby larger celestial body. This is it, he thought. Community College, Pepperdine, Triple A, The Show. Two-Twenty-Two.

Later, it was Tacoma. Two-Ninety-Five. Then, fired.

He watched a replay of the catch on his phone as he waited to board his flight to Seoul. No sound, of course. By then he had seen Norfolk, Oklahoma, Venezuela, and he realized that history had a different story for him than the one his heart was trying to tell. But as he walked down the tunnel to board the 767 wearing a whiskey and soda, he realized there was nothing he could do about it; that the wind of time would take him wherever it may without asking him his preference in the first place. Then, a voice.


He looked up to make eye contact with the flight attendant, pointing him to his seat.

어서 오세요, 즐거운 시간 되시길 바랍니다

He wasn’t sure what it meant, but he sat anyway and buckled his seatbelt. They won’t recognize me anyway, he thought.

People Hurt By The 1957 All-Star Voting Process, Ranked

By: Emma Baccellieri

Come now, let us gripe or rejoice, for All-Star voting season is officially upon us. Whether you are among those who care too much or not at all or those who care whatever has been deemed precisely the right amount by the All-Star powers that be, it’s worth remembering that baseball sees this voting as a privilege rather than a right. In 1957, Cincinnati Redlegs fans stuffed the ballot boxes; Ford Frick got so frustrated that he responded by changing the National League roster himself in his role as commissioner. Fans lost the ability to vote for thirteen years. To commemorate the 60th anniversary, a list of people whose pride was hurt in the 1957 All-Star voting process, ranked:

4. Gus Bell. Officially, seven Redlegs were selected to the All-Star roster courtesy of the fanbase’s shenanigans. But Frick deemed two of them so ill-fit for the position that he personally stripped them of the honor and appointed his own replacements. (To be fair, he had some pretty deserving backups ready and waiting in Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.) Sure, there’s no shame in being swapped out for one of history’s greatest players, as Cincinnati centerfielder Bell was here—but that doesn’t do too much to dull the fact that the commissioner looked at your name on the All-Star roster, was so repulsed by the miscarriage of justice that he had to break all the rules to get rid of you, and then banned fans from voting for more than a decade so they didn’t make a mistake so bad again.

3. Wally Post. Cincinnati right fielder Post was replaced by Aaron, just as Bell was replaced by Mays. But Post’s situation was ever so slightly worse, as he got hurt just before the game and couldn’t have played anyway—but rather than simply labeling the swap as an injury replacement and letting it be, Frick still went ahead and made a show of announcing that Post was a bad choice and should be nowhere near the team regardless.

2. George Crowe. The city of Cincinnati went all in here. The daily Times-Star distributed ballots with the Redlegs pre-selected. A popular local bar refused to let people buy a beer without casting their votes for every Cincinnati player possible. One woman reportedly filled out more than 1,000 ballots by hand on her own. All this was enough to get seven of the team’s position players on the roster—but not eight, and poor George Crowe was number eight. A replacement for injured star Ted Kluszewski at first base, he was off to the best start of his career and finished the first half slashing .305/.343/.575 with 18 home runs. As the early vote count urged the commissioner toward threatening to take action, the team’s front office apparently panicked— and ”urged the fans to vote for Stan Musial.” This meant that Crowe was not only the lone Cincinnati position player not to make the original All-Star roster, but he was deemed such a poor choice that his own front office advocated against him. He spent most of the last three decades of his life as a hermit in a log cabin.

1. Charles Keating, Jr. Cincinnati fans, obviously, were not pleased to learn that all their hard ballot-box-stuffing work would be going to waste. One fan was particularly displeased, and he decided to make that known by taking legal action—hiring local lawyer Charles Keating, Jr. to sue the office of the commissioner. The suit did not last long, and Keating later cost the federal government more than $3 billion in the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s before spending four years in jail.

Kate Preusser is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kate's other articles. You can contact Kate by clicking here
Matt Ellis is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Matt's other articles. You can contact Matt by clicking here
Emma Baccellieri is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Emma's other articles. You can contact Emma by clicking here

Related Content:  Mariners,  Reds,  Pirates,  All-star Voting

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