By Andrew Kahn
As teams compete for playoff stops in these final weeks, baseball lost an icon who was a postseason fixture throughout his long career.
Yogi Berra died on Tuesday at the age of 90. Known for sayings that were 90 percent nonsensical and 50 percent insightful, Berra was also the great catcher of all time. Berra had five seasons in the 1950s in which he tallied more homers than strikeouts, a feat hardly ever accomplished by today’s sluggers (only twice since 1956). He was a three-time MVP and 15-time All-Star who won the World Series 10 times as a player. The Yankees reached the World Series 14 of the 17 seasons Berra played for them.
Sometimes overshadowed by Yankee icons Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle, many believe Berra was the most feared hitter in the lineup. Baseball fans remember his talent on the field, but his Yogi-isns have had a further reach. “It ain’t over till it’s over.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” “It’s déjà vu all over again.” And, the one that sort of encapsulates them all: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
It was a week of milestones in MLB. We’ll start on the mound, where Jake Arrieta became the first pitcher to reach 20 wins this season when he pitched a shutout against the Brewers on Tuesday. The Cubs right-hander is 20-6 with a 1.88 ERA and is making a very strong case for the National League Cy Young award that, for much of the season, seemed destined to end up in Zack Greinke’s trophy case. Greinke is one of four pitchers with 18 wins, along with Felix Hernandez, Madison Bumgarner. There are four with 17 but none are scheduled to get three more starts. Also on Tuesday, Mike Trout hit his 40th homer of the year. Troy Glaus is the only other Angel to accomplish the feat (2000, 2001). Like Bryce Harper in the NL, Trout is joining some exclusive company with his age-related feats. As for a career milestone, Robinson Cano collected his 2,000th hit on Wednesday, becoming just the 14th player to do so within his first 11 seasons.
Schwarber’s grab and flip
I panned Kyle Schwarber in last week’s column when he fell down rounding the bases after a home run, so it’s only fair I highlight his great catch from Wednesday. Schwarber, part-time catcher, part-time outfielder, made a running catch in left-center on a ball that looked ticketed for a double off the bat. There was probably a better catch this past week, but the entire play was entertaining. With runners on base, Schwarber tossed the ball to center fielder Dexter Fowler so he could get the ball back to the infield. The ball went directly to Fowler despite the fact that Schwarber’s glove went flying during the toss:
Baby in the ballpark
Babies and baseball are sometimes in the news, but it’s usually when a bold father snags a foul ball while holding his child. Thursday in San Diego, a baby was born at the game.
I’d say the second part of that tweet went without saying. The baby boy’s fandom is off to a good start: He was born during the third inning of an eventual 5-4 walk-off win for the Padres. The parents did not name him Alexi, after the player who delivered the winning hit (Alexi Amarista), Travis, who scored the winning run (Travis Jankowski), Craig, for the team’s star closer who got the win (Craig Kimbrel), or even Tony, in honor of Mr. Padre (Tony Gwynn). They went with Levi, which is well within their rights as parents, of course. Just a missed opportunity, in my opinion. According to ABC 10 News in San Diego, Donna Borowy, an on-staff nurse with Petco who is also a midwife, delivered the baby. Apparently Buster Posey wasn’t available.
Until the last couple of years, the Royals had been pretty terrible since divisional realignment took place in 1994. So it’s no surprise that their win last night, coupled with a Twins loss, clinched their first AL Central title ever. Remember, 2013 was Kansas City’s first winning season since realignment. The other four current members of the division have all won a title: the Tigers (most recently in 2014), Twins (2010), White Sox (2008), and Indians (2007). The Brewers never won, but they only played in the division for four seasons before moving to the NL. Kansas City’s past failure is not unprecedented. Since realignment, the Blue Jays have never won the AL East, though they should this year. This is only the Astros’ third season in the AL West, but they haven’t won yet. In the National League, the Marlins (East), Pirates (Central), and Rockies (West) haven’t captured a crown (in the case of Miami and Colorado, that includes their entire existence).
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com and his Scoop and Score podcast is on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn
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