Thursday, July 13, 2017

Baseball Update (1971)


So here's my ballot (with bonus pitching suggestions for the managers) (*-indicates that Phil Roof is from Paducah!) ...


And here are the actual teams (National League manager Sparky Anderson and American League coach Billy Hunter not pictured) ...



Comments flow!

70 comments:

  1. NBC's Curt Gowdy tells us that Vida Blue's favorite baseball player when he was growing up in Mansfield, Louisiana--actually, Curt Gowdy called him Blue's "idol"--was Willie Mays and that, tonight (July 13) 1971, N.L. center-fielder Mays will be the first batter that A.L. starting-pitcher Blue will face in the All-Star Game.

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  2. More pregame 411 from Gowdy and Tony Kubek: 42nd All-Star Game ... eight straight wins in the series for the Nationals (Natstown!) ... 30-miles-per-hour wind blowing predominantly from home plate to right field in Detroit's Tiger Stadium ...

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  3. My gosh, these A's uniforms are just beautiful. As modeled by Blue, they are the gray pants and jerseys with green sleeves. I'm not sure when Oakland stopped using these, but I always associate the uniforms with black-and-white, newsreel footage of the team just before its World Series, full-color glory.

    There's some great home video on YouTube of the 1968 and '71 team "Picture Day" festivities. The poster originally thought all of the video was from 1971, but then a commentator adroitly noted the absence, in the first scenes, of the apostrophe-"s" on the caps. He said Charlie Finley added that in 1970, and the video poster changed his file name and description to reflect that he had collapsed Super8 stuff from his two visits to Camera Day. The whole conversation was polite and wonderful. I absolutely love seeing people working together like that, sharing their gifts and experiences and working toward a better understanding of Truth.

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  4. Now here's Lindsey Nelson, NBC's man in the stands tonight, to throw some love at the nostalgia buffs. While 2017 me is a huge nostalgia buff, 1971 me has pretty much zero interest in it. (It drives me nuts when I see that the networks are pre-empting a contemporary That Girl rerun, for example, to show some let's-look-back-at-the-Roaring-'20s hodgepodge or whatever.) But I do love Lindsey Nelson and his crazy jackets and staccato delivery, and it occurs to me that Craig Sager must've been a pretty big fan, too. Rest in peace, Lindsey Nelson of Campbellsville, Tennessee (1919-1995) and Craig Sager of Batavia, Illinois (1951-2016).

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  5. OK, here come the All-Stars, lining up along the base paths. The National League manager is George "Sparky" Anderson of the Cincinnati Reds. The batting order is center-fielder Willie Mays of San Francisco, right-fielder Henry Aaron of Atlanta, third-baseman Joe Torre of St. Louis, right-fielder Willie Stargell of Pittsburgh, first-baseman Willie McCovey of San Francisco, catcher Johnny Bench of Cincinnati, second-baseman Glenn Beckert of Chicago, shortstop Bud Harrelson of New York and pitcher Dock Ellis of Pittsburgh.

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  6. I voted for Mays, Torre, Stargell and Beckert. And I voted for Aaron, but he's been playing a lot of first base so I wanted him there instead of in right field. Roberto Clemente has been terrific, so I've got him in right field. Bench's distracted and sluggish first half has been a big contributor to Cincinnati's decline, so I voted Pittsburgh's Manny Sanguillen ahead of him. And rookie Chris Speier at shortstop has apparently been a big key in San Francisco's defensive and general improvement, so I had him in front of Harrelson.

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  7. Of course, we fans are not supposed to vote for pitchers, but I always thought that was silly. So I suggested the Mets' Tom Seaver as the N.L. starter.

    For my money, Sparky had four candidates to consider:

    -- Seaver (10-4, 2.08 ERA, 143 strikeouts, 29 walks, 116 hits through July 9)
    -- Ellis (14-3, 2.10, 85, 34, 110)
    -- Chicago's Fergie Jenkins (12-8, 2.93, 135, 21, 150)
    -- San Francisco's Juan Marichal (10-5, 2.69, 76, 32, 125)

    Ellis and Marichal have been the best starting pitchers on first-place teams, and that goes a long way for me. But Seaver's ERA and WHIP are the best, and that goes even further. And I personally love to see a pitcher who throws a bunch of strikeouts and very few walks, which always makes me feel the guy is in total control of the game. Seaver's better at that than anyone on this list except Jenkins, who gives up a bunch more hits and earned runs than does Seaver.

    Ellis had told the press that he probably wouldn't get picked because Anderson didn't like him and because baseball wouldn't allow two black starting pitchers in the All-Star Game (and, obviously, Vida Blue would be starting in the American League). Alas, Anderson said he didn't know where Ellis was getting the bit about not liking him, and, indeed, Sparky did pick Ellis to start against Blue.

    Oh, and Anderson picked only one reliever, his own Clay Carroll of Cincinnati. But I would've gone with the Giants' lefty-righty tandem of John Cumberland (5-0, 1.83) and Jerry Johnson (8-3, 2.64), who've been huge for a team that is winning primarily with pitching and defense.

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  8. And here come Earl Weaver and the A.L. starters:

    — Minnesota’s Rod Carew, second base;
    — New York’s Bobby Murcer, center field;
    — Boston’s Carl Yazstremski, left;
    — Baltimore’s Frank Robinson, right;
    — Detroit’s Norm Cash, first;
    — Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson, third;
    — Detroit’s Bill Freehan, catcher;
    — Boston’s Luis Aparicio, shortstop, and
    — Oakland’s Vida Blue, pitcher.

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  9. Weaver picked Blue, and he was an easy choice. But I thought these fan selections were a mess.

    I wrote Oakland’s Dave Duncan ahead of Freehan at catcher, because I’m an A’s guy and Oakland manager Dick Williams was quoted in The Sporting News this spring as saying Duncan’s management of pitchers was a key factor in the gelling of the team's pitching this season. I also gave Phil Roof a nod because he’s from Paducah, and I’m so excited to see him traded out of Milwaukee and to Minnesota a few weeks ago.

    I went with Oakland’s Mike Epstein at first base because that dude seemed like he was hitting a home run every time I turned around earlier this season right after he came over from Washington. Over two games with the A’s, he hit home runs in four straight at-bats, which was amazing.

    The expansion team in Kansas City has been surprisingly good this year, and the up-the-middle defense has been a big reason. Also, Rod Carew has not had a good first half for Minnesota. I went with the Royals’ Cookie Rojas at second, and I even considered Freddie Patek, the A.L. leader in stolen bases, at shortstop.

    I also considered for short Oakland’s Bert Campaneris, whose value to the team has really shown during an injury absence here right before the All-Star break. And I considered Baltimore’s Mark Belanger, who is actually hitting this year to go along with his stellar fielder. But I finally went with the Twins’ Leo Cardenas, who hits better than any other A.L. shortstop. I’ll tell you who I did not consider was Boston’s Aparacio—I can't stand the Red Sox.

    Everybody in the United States thinks Brooks Robinson is a beautiful human being, and Norman Rockwell and I jumped right into the parade there at third base.

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  10. There’s all kinds of noise out of Boston, mostly from the Conigliaro family, that Yaz is the root of unrest among the Red Sox. And I think he’s overrated, anyway, so I didn’t much consider him. I went with Don Buford of the Orioles as a left-fielder—he seems to get everything going with that team.

    I’ve got no big problem with the Yankees’ Bobby Murcer in center—at the end of June, when voting ended, he was the National League’s second-leading hitter (at .341). Kansas City’s Amos Otis was further down the list at .307, but I went with him because the Royals have been better than the Yankees and future me sucked up all that Bill James love for Amos Otis.

    Frank Robinson in right … I don’t get that one. Minnesota’s Tony Oliva has a better average and more home runs and runs batted in. Oliva is in real contention for a triple crown, even.

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  11. All of that said, I agree with The Sporting News--this is a pretty good system that Bowie Kuhn has put in, in bringing back the fan voting for the starters but then leaving the selection of reserves to the managers. The theory among the TSN editors is that typical fans vote for the hotter players in their own team's league and then the biggest names in the opposite league. So you get a deal where all of these people in Tiger Stadium get their one shot to see Johnny Bench just like they want and then Sparky introduces them to Sanguillen later in the game. I agree--pretty good system.

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  12. People say this all of the time, and it's true--the All-Star Game is as much about uniforms as it is about anything else. When I saw Preston Gomez, the Padres' manager, who is one of Sparky Anderson's coaches in this game, I was just amazed at how distinguished his uniform looked.

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  13. You put Frank Howard on that baseline between Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin, and you really see how big of a man he is. It's almost more impressive to see him next to Reggie, in fact, because I actually think of Reggie of being a big man himself. Howard towers over Martin, and that's no surprise. But then when he also dwarfs Reggie ... wow!

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  14. A lot has changed since 1971, but, in 2017, I still go to church with a lot of the balding men in suits and glasses at the All-Star Game.

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  15. The Tigers honor Charlie Gehringer, who Gowdy says was "a crisp line-drive hitter" who wasn't sufficiently appreciated during his career, 1926-42. In 1971, Charlie Gehringer was as recent a baseball player as Larry Parrish (who played 1972-88) is today, and I can guarantee I didn't sufficiently appreciate him when he was playing for the Expos.

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  16. I had no idea that Kellogg's discontinued Product 19, and, while I am sad to learn that news, I probably won't get real involved with the "Bring Back Kelloggs Product 19" Facebook page.

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  17. Who knows how many baseball games I've watched on TV? Probably 100s but maybe not. Certainly dozens. I would've watched all of the Saturday NBC games, Monday ABC games and post-season games I was home for as a kid. But I didn't deep dive on the Braves and Cubs like the rest of America in the '80s, because we got cable late and, by the time we got it, I was really trying to deny my God-given gift to jump on somebody else's bandwagon. I've had spurts as an adult when I looked at a good bit of baseball on TV, though, so, yeah, it certainly is more than 300 or 400 games.

    Anyway, I don't believe I've ever seen this. Right after Whitey Ford and his son get us all psyched for Product 19, NBC gives us live audio and video of the umpires going over the Tiger Stadium ground rules with managers Anderson and Weaver. It's really fantastic and fascinating. The crew chief who does most of the talking is exactly who you might expect the Leave It To Beaver directors to cast as an umpire: "Now, if it should go in where those fellas with the white shirts that are gonna scrape the field in the fifth inning are sitting, we'll call it dead, all right? ... Gentlemen, good luck to both of ya, and come out swingin'."

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  18. Vida Blue grounds out Willie Mays to get things rolling, and suddenly I am genuinely overwhelmed with the giddy feeling that MAYBE VIDA BLUE REALLY IS GOING TO BE THE BEST PITCHER OF ALL TIME! I mean, seriously, watching him get out Willie Mays on the second pitch in 1971, that's how I feel right now in 2017, and I know how the story is all going to come out.

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  19. Aaron grounds out, and Torre flies out, and Vida Blue--in the green and gray uniform and the giant, buckled-leg windup--looks like he's just going to freaking LeRoy Nieman himself right into the Hall of Fame. That was some beautiful TV on the internet right there, boy.

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  20. Programming note: I've safely located my Sparky Anderson and Billy Hunter baseball cards.

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  21. Murcer (Oklahoma City), Bench (Oklahoma City) and Stargell (Earlsboro) are all from Oklahoma.

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  22. Ellis blanked the American League in the bottom of the first, and now Blue just hit Stargell to open the second.

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  23. The top vote getter in All-Star balloting was Aaron, but the first name I filled in on my ballot was Stargell, who has 30 home runs at the break. He won an extra-innings game earlier this season with a walk-off home run after fouling off eight straight pitches.

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  24. Detroit's Cash and Freehan are starting at first base and catcher in this game because Baltimore's Boog Powell and Cleveland's Ray Fosse, the top fan balloters, are both injured. Initially, Weaver was not going to pick another first baseman to replace Powell and instead play either Frank Robinson or Frank Howard there, but then Cash, the A.L. co-leader in home runs with 20, got mad and Weaver relented. At least, that's the best I could understand Gowdy's explanation. Whatever the details, Cash and Weaver have subsequently made nice-nice.

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  25. Aaron is a career .175 hitter with 10 hits, all singles, in his All-Star Game career.

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    1. Was, anyway. He drills a Blue third-inning pitch into the right-field seats, and it's 3-0, Nationals.

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  26. Oh, my word ... OK, I knew this was probably going to be Reggie Jackson's famous home run, and it was, and it really is amazing. Jackson is on to pinch-hit in the bottom of the third for Blue, and Aparicio is on first. Jackson had fallen behind 0-2 in the count, and Tony Kubek had just commented how Ellis was really zipping fastballs by Jackson. Johnny Bench's home run got out very quickly, and the Tiger Stadium crowd reacted as soon as he hit the ball. Still, that was nothing compared to Jackson's. As soon as he strikes the ball, Jackson flips his bat, and the crowd absolutely roars. The ball ricochets off a transformer on the right-field roof, and Gowdy quickly notes that only eight balls have ever been hit out of the stadium.

    "Three king-sized home runs already tonight," Gowdy says. "The game is young, and the wind is strong."

    So Reggie pulls the Americans back within 3-2. #Greencollar!

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  27. And now Frank Robinson homers! This is great. Four home runs to right field. Robinson brings home Carew, and Vida Blue and the American League are back in the lead, 4-3!

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  28. Gowdy tells us that Vida Blue was this week's guest on Johnny Bench's TV show in Cincinnati.

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  29. The 49ers and Dolphins are going to be playing a preseason-football game Aug. 13 on NBC!

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  30. "With the aid of a computer, the men of Adam-12 strike to halt a crime wave ... Thursday night!"

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  31. Of course, I'm not one to brag, but I must say that I have met Mike Cuellar!

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  32. Cuellar is 13-1. His only loss was in May against the A's.

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  33. The new National League first baseman, Cincinnati's Lee May, is the hitter to open the sixth inning. He's pretty key in the history of the Reds, because he's the guy who's going to be eventually traded for Houston's Joe Morgan.

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  34. Joe Torre grounds into a Brooks Robinson-to-Cookie Rojas-to-Harmon Killebrew double play.

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  35. Here's Stargell.

    Willie Stargell is going to end up leading all National League position players in Wins Above Replacement for MLB71, per Baseball-Reference.com. Here are the top WAR guys around the field, as best I could gather at the site ...

    -- Catcher: Sanguillen 5.0, Bench 4.0
    -- First base: Aaron 7.2, May 5.4
    -- Second: Morgan 5.6, Montreal's Ron Hunt 5.2
    -- Third: Torre 5.9, Los Angeles's Richie Allen 5.4
    -- Shortstop: Harrelson 4.6, Philadelphia's Larry Bowa 3.2
    -- Left field: Stargell 7.9, Atlanta's Ralph Garr 5.2
    -- Center: Mays 6.3, Los Angeles's Willie Davis 5.2
    -- Right: Clemente 7.2, San Francisco's Bobby Bonds 6.3

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  36. The top five starting pitchers were Jenkins (11.9), Seaver (10.9), San Diego's Dave Roberts (7.7), Houston's Don Wilson (6.1) and Chicago's Milt Pappas (5.9).

    The top relievers were Los Angeles's Jim Brewer (5.1), New York's Tug McGraw (4.5), San Diego's Bob Miller (3.0), Philadelphia's Joe Hoerner (2.6) and Cumberland of the Giants (2.5).

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  37. And now here's Lindsey Nelson with Charlie Gehringer, and the two men agree that the 1933 All-Star Game doesn't seem that long ago.

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  38. Detroit's Al Kaline greets Jenkins in the bottom of the sixth with a first-pitch single, and, of course, the Tiger Stadium faithful love that.

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  39. Gowdy notes that Jenkins is the only National League pitcher to have won 20 or more games each of the last four seasons.

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  40. And now Killebrew homers! It's 6-3, American League!

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  41. It's fun to see all these home runs.

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  42. Neither of the top two American League position players in WAR for MLB71--Cleveland third-baseman Graig Nettles nor New York left-fielder Roy White--is on the All-Star team. Here are the top guys ...

    Catcher--Freehan 4.3, New York's Thurman Munson 4.1
    First--Milwaukee's Johnny Briggs 3.7, Powell 3.6
    Second--California's Sandy Alomar 5.2, Baltimore's Dave Johnson 4.4
    Third--Nettles 7.5, Oakland's Sal Bando 6.4
    Shortstop--Belanger 4.6, Patek 4.0
    Left--White 6.7, Buford 5.1
    Center--Murcer 6.3, Smith 5.6
    Right--Jackson 6.5, Baltimore's Merv Rettenmund 5.8

    The starting pitchers were Chicago's Wilbur Wood (10.9), Detroit's Mickey Lolich (8.7), Blue (8.6), Boston's Sonny Siebert (6.7) and Minnesota's Bert Blyleven (6.2).

    The relievers were Chicago's Bart Johnson (4.0), Milwaukee's Ken Sanders (3.9), Detroit's Fred Scherman (3.5), Cleveland's Steve Mingori (3.3) and Kansas City's Tom Burgemeier (3.1).

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  43. And here's the kind of exotic, late-inning moment that made All-Star Games so great in the pre-ESPN/MLB Network/interleague-play era: Cuellar throws his crazy, looping slow curve pasts San Diego's squished-stance slugger, Nate Colbert, for Strike 2. I'd never seen Cuellar's slow curve, and I'd never seen Nate Colbert.

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  44. The new National League pitcher is Houston's Wilson, and he flies out Royals Otis and Rojas to open the bottom of the seventh.

    Rest in peace, Don Wilson (1945-75).

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  45. Now here's a commercial for Schlitz where they indicate that it's the choice beer of tuna fishermen.

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  46. Vic Damone has a special after Adam-12 Thursday night.

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  47. Gowdy points out that "the American League has gradually sifted its best defensive lineup onto the field" to protect its late lead: Munson, Killebrew, Rojas, Aparicio, Brooks Robinson, Yazstremski, Otis and Kaline, with Lolich now pitching. Only Killebrew, Gowdy says, would not be considered among the top defenders at his position. Boston's "George Scott is the top defensive first baseman, but he's not here," Gowdy says.

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  48. But there's no defense for what Clemente just did--a home run into the right-center upper deck! It's 6-4.

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  49. But then May and Chicago's Ron Santo ground back to Lolich to end the top of the eighth.

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  50. And, indeed, the National League goes quietly in the ninth, and that's that. And that was a heck of a lot of fun. Thank you, Baseball, and thank you, TV and Internet, and thank you, YouTube user BigTMLB.

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  51. On the morning of July 20, 1971, I'm getting nervous about the A's.

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  52. In their first game after the All-Star Game in Detroit, the A's and the Tigers reconvened in Oakland on July 15, and the home team won, 8-7, with a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Rick Monday homered, and then, with two out, Oakland cobbled together a Mike Epstein walk (and some Blue Moon Odom pinch running) with Dave Duncan and Dick Green singles to down Detroit. That was great.

    And then the next day, it was great again as the A's just kept on keepin' on in the bottom of the first with four runs, the big hit being a three-run double by rookie right-fielder George Hendrick. That was more than enough for Vida Blue, who gave up one hit, walked three and struck out nine for another shutout victory. Oakland won, 4-0, and Vida Blue Is Eighteen And Three!

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  53. Well, that's all great, but, since that great first inning on July 16, Oakland has scored one, three and two runs in three straight losses. That's a total of six runs in 36 innings, and I don't have the new issue of The Sporting News to see what the heck is going on with Oakland's hitters. Bert Campaneris still is not playing, and Reggie Jackson is only pinch-hitting since the break.

    Not only that, but the last two losses were home defeats in a two-game series with the Orioles, leaving Baltimore and Oakland with identical 58-34 records. The second-place Royals have been losing, too, and now the Orioles are headed to Kansas City for a series. Oakland's American League West lead is still a safe 10 games. But, suddenly, it doesn't feel like the A's have quite matured into a legitimate challenger to the two-time-defending league champs, and that's no fun.

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  54. Blue is back on the mound late tonight in Oakland against the Indians, and I'm excited to get BackToBaseball.com and back to winning.

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