Felipe Alou, the Dominican baseball legend, has deep roots in Palm Beach County

I’ll be meeting with Boynton Beach’s Felipe Alou this week for a column on his new book, “Alou: My Baseball Journey,” and a celebration of his long ties to Palm Beach County.

As an appetizer, here is something I wrote way back in 1991 about a West Palm Beach Expos team that Felipe managed to the Florida State League championship. What happened to them on the bus ride home from the title series in Clearwater is a classic tale of life in the minors.

(A column from the Sept. 11, 1991 Palm Beach Post)

By Dave George, Sports Columnist

MINOR CELEBRATIONS CAN’T DAMPEN MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

   Sirens blared in the streets of West Palm Beach Tuesday, heralding the
arrival of the newly crowned Florida State League champions. A police car led the West Palm Beach Expos‘ bus down Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and into the
Municipal Stadium parking lot, the triumphant conclusion to a return trip from Clearwater and the deciding game of the league championship series.
Somewhere, a dog barked, his echo bouncing off dark buildings. Perhaps a

Felipe Alou around 1991 as manager of the West Palm Beach Expos, a job he held for seven seasons before moving up to manage the Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants (Palm Beach Post file photo)

drifter stirred drowsily on a bus stop bench. If anyone else other than a
handful of loyal fans was aware of the Expos‘ victory parade, which lasted
from approximately 4:28 to 4:30 a.m., they could only have been on their way
to make the doughnuts.
By 5:15, most of the Expos‘ clubhouse was stripped of personal belongings, the parking lot cleared of players’ cars. Six hours earlier, these young
dreamers had been hugging and laughing and whooping it up over a league title that was 138 games in the making. The celebration, however, didn’t make it to sunrise. The real world had lurched back into action by then and the Expos had resumed their offseason lives, each group oblivious of the other.
“There are lot of West Palm Beach Expos in Alabama and Mississippi and
South Carolina right now, all of them headed home,” said Expos pitcher Doug
Bochtler, a former John I. Leonard High School star.
Rest assured that none of them are traveling by bus. Never again will they board one of those rolling bricks voluntarily.
“I guarantee you that if a major league team wins the World Series, their plane doesn’t break down on the way home like our bus did last night,”
Bochtler said.
SOME VICTORY LAP
Stranded on I-95 near Blue Heron Boulevard, the champions dealt with one
last dose of Class-A confusion. Still riding the high of the franchise’s first league title in 17 years, philosophy won out over frustration.
“When the bus kicked out, I guess it was just fate, something to keep the team together a little longer,” said Ron Colangelo, the Expos‘ radio voice.
Move over, Pops Stargell. Here is a real baseball family, playing for
minor league scraps rather than bonus playoff money. Playing like there may be no other games to play, next season or any other. For some of the
overachievers on the roster of manager Felipe Alou, there won’t be.
“A couple of the guys came by my house around noon to say goodbye on
their way out of town,” Bochtler said. “The way everybody left showed the
biggest key to us winning the whole thing. This wasn’t a traditional handshake and good luck thing. There were guys hugging and saying thanks. We all know
this could be our only chance at winning a championship.”
Bochtler never won a baseball title before, despite being good enough to
share the FSL lead in victories (12). He was 7-2 with an 0.72 ERA as a Leonard senior, but didn’t experience the team success of a district title. Same goes for his American Legion Post 47 team or Indian River Community College.
Taking the field in Clearwater Monday night, all the emotions bubbled up
at once. The Expos were playing for the league title, but they were doing so
in front of just 292 fans. Also, even though West Palm Beach was about to win it all as a wild-card playoff entry, not a single Expo name was called as FSL President Chuck Murphy announced the league all-star team before the game.
Minor slights, these were, when the team was sized for championship rings a
few hours later.
“That was the greatest feeling ever,” Bochtler said. “Even if I make it
some day to pitch in Montreal, that ring won’t come off me.”
MOM KNOWS BEST
All the rainouts and rescheduled doubleheaders should come with some
reward. The Expos have a loyal following, averaging nearly 1,800 at home games in 1991 to rank second in the league. But in the end, it’s up to the players
to find their own motivation. They won the opening game of the FSL
championship series at home before a crowd of 480. They won for themselves.
Alone.
“People who don’t get involved with this team don’t know what they’re
missing,” said Louise Hiers of West Palm Beach. “These are just young kids a
long way from home, some of them for the first time.”
Louise, 65, is known as “Mom” by the Expos. She has been at almost every
home game for the last 18 seasons. Monday night she was with them in
Clearwater, and when the team arrived at Municipal Stadium early Tuesday
morning, she was there again, kissing and hugging each player as he stepped
off the bus.
Thus, Mom sent her family to the four winds. A championship team dissolved into the dawn, just like all beautiful dreams.

Kevin Love opens up on The Players Tribune, a Derek Jeter project that is working well

 

You’ve read some stinging criticisms of Derek Jeter in this space from time to time, all of them dealing with his disconnect when it comes to Miami Marlins fans being fed up with the team’s constant teardowns.

I’ll give Jeter credit, however, for recognizing that athletes often have a deeper story to tell but don’t really trust anyone else in the telling of it.

FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love watches from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Love disclosed in an essay for the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, that he suffered a panic attack on Nov. 5 in a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. He was briefly hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic and the episode left him shaken. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

We’re talking about The Players’ Tribune, a website founded by Jeter in 2014 and expanded since then with videos and podcasts to augment the written content provided by sports celebrities.

The latest buzz created by this site is an essay written by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. He reveals that he had a panic attack during a game in November but at first wanted to keep that information from teammates for fear that they would consider him weak.

“Everyone is Going Through Something” is the title of the essay, and in it Love writes “No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside.”

Would a player feel comfortable talking about private reflections and personal issues with a member of the traditional sports media?

Some have, like Ricky Williams, and with full knowledge that they might be misconstrued or ridiculed or marginalized. Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan took all of those risks last month in an interview with the Toronto Star about his ongoing problems with depression.

For most, though, it figures that truly opening up to a reporter in the locker room is way outside the comfort zone.

If you only see that reporter ever now and again, how do you make a connection that is solid and believable? And if that reporter covers the team every day and strikes up something like a friendship with a player there, sooner or later he or she will wind up writing something that offends the athlete because it points out an error made to lose a ballgame or is perceived to be taking the wrong side in a contract negotiation with the team.

Honestly, if I had the blessing of athletic skills worthy of millions of dollars on the open market, it might just be easier to keep spouting clichés in interview settings. That’s pretty much what Jeter did in the high-profile position of New York Yankees captain. He made no enemies that way and he tried, other than what happened on the field, to make no news.

Are these Players’ Tribune essays ghost-written? Surely, in some cases, they are crafted and edited and packaged by people who are writers by profession. Since the athletes approve every presentation before it is published, however, this shouldn’t bother anybody all that much. If it’s a genuine expression of their feelings on a particular matter, they are saying what they want to say.

Not journalism in its strictest sense. More like journal writing, and then passing that journal around the room for anyone who is interested to read.

Jeter is a smart guy to figure all this out. We all need to know each other a little better, and any forum that makes that possible is a benefit.

[Jim Kelly astonished a Boca Raton crowd with his courageous story]

[Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast]

[Wade’s return strikes every emotional touchstone for Heat fans]

The Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast

Thought it might be fun, as part of the franchise’s 25th anniversary celebration, to look back at the Marlins’ inaugural spring training in 1993.

For openers, they were the Florida Marlins back then, owned by Wayne Huizenga, who made many of his millions renting videotape cassettes of Hollywood movies. Yes, it really was a long time ago.

Jeff Conine honored at Marlins 2008 opener. Staff photo by Allen EyestoneThe Palm Beach Post.

The first training facility was near Melbourne on Florida’s Space Coast. They call the community Viera these days but back then it was just a flat expanse of land along I-95 where developers were just kicking off plans to build a huge residential community with plenty of retail and schools and a Brevard County  governmental complex.

As it was, the practice fields were barely ready for use and the more general landscaping of the property and painting of the clubhouse were still being done when the players headed out for the opening workout. Manager Rene Lachemann warned against anybody complaining too much about the conditions, bad hops and such.

“Some of the (groundskeeping) guys here are on work release,” he said. “You know what that means. They’re from the joint. Be careful what you say.”

Lachemann, always a funny guy, had already been fired twice as manager of the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers. He worked six years as Tony La Russa’s third-base coach in Oakland before former  Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski hired him to lead Miami’s expansion team.

Today Lachemann is out of the game but it took a while. He retired in 2016 after 53 consecutive seasons in a professional baseball uniform. Dombrowski remains busy as president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

Back, though, to the spring of 1993 and a detail that most Marlins fans have forgotten. Space Coast Stadium wasn’t available for the first exhibition season. In fact, there wasn’t even a groundbreaking for the stadium’s construction until the Marlins had left Melbourne to begin the regular season.

Consequently, the first-even Marlins spring game and all other 1993 home exhibition games were played 11 miles south on I-95 at an old facility called Cocoa Expo Stadium.

The Houston Astros used that place for 21 years and moved on, feeling cramped and ready for more modern accomodations in Kissimmee, but the Marlins did their best to spruce things up for their opening exhibition game in Cocoa on Friday, March 5, 1993.

Huizenga chartered a Boeing 727 to fly 150 VIP’s up from South Florida. Parachutists floated into the stadium pregame. There were fireworks in a sunlit sky and groundskeepers in tuxedos and all kinds of circus-style extras, like a fire-eating performer and live alligators on display.

As for the baseball, as you would expect, Jeff Conine hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, who beat Houston 12-8. As you might not expect, a sellout crowd of 6,696 was there to cheer and stomp and clap for practically everything that happened.

The next day a greater sense of reality set in as the Marlins climbed on a couple of buses for what should have been a four-hour ride to Homestead and a game with the Cleveland Indians. It took a little longer because one of the buses blew a tire soon after leaving Melbourne.

It took a sense of humor to get by in those early days, and in many cases with the rebuilding Marlins, now training in a first-class facility at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, it still does.

[Wade’s return touches every emotional touchstone for Heat fans]

[Where was Derek Jeter when the Marlins were born?]

[There was a time, gulp, when the Heat played in the Western Conference]

Where was Derek Jeter 25 years ago when his new Marlins team was born?

 

The Miami Marlins are making a big PR effort during their current teardown mode to celebrate the franchise’s 25th year with a special teal logo and with the promise of $4 seats and throwback uniforms during a special June 8-10 series against the San Diego Padres.

So what was Derek Jeter doing 25 years ago, and how strange would it have been to imagine him running the Marlins’ show in 2018?

Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter leaves Major League Baseball owners meetings at the Four Seasons Hotel, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Turns out The Captain was 19 years old and playing in North Carolina with the Greensboro Hornets of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Gary Denbo was his manager there, just as was when Jeter broke into pro ball with the Yankee’s Gulf Coast League rookie team in Tampa.

The Marlins wouldn’t have been on Jeter’s mind back then. He only had eyes for Yankee Stadium and, as everybody knew, he would make it soon enough. Five times he won World Series titles with the Yankees and once, in 2000, he was the World Series MVP.

Crazy to think that his first try as a baseball executive would come with the Marlins, but the old ties are still strong. When Jeter traded away Giancarlo Stanton, Miami’s homegrown star and the biggest slugger in the majors, it was to the Yankees.

Denbo is back in the picture, too, as Jeter’s Director of Player Development and Scouting in Miami.

All those nostalgic connections to the old Marlins, 25 years in the making, actually seem a bit of a stretch these days than a continuation of something special. This is Jeter’s life and these are Jeter’s Marlins. Welcome to a new world of baseball in South Florida, starting all over again.

[There was a time when Miami Heat, gulp, played in NBA’s Western Conference]

[Please, NFL, takes us back to the days when a catch was a catch]

[Eagles went from losers to champions in one year, but what about Miami?]

 

Who knew Trevor Hoffman was bound for Cooperstown when Marlins traded him away?

 

I won’t bother rattling off the names of the minor-leaguers Miami got back in the trades that jettisoned Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon.

If you’re a major seamhead, those names are already familiar and so are their prospects of ever making the Marlins’ roster. And if you’re not a major seamhead, who cares?

12 Apr 1993: Trevor Hoffman pitches for the Florida Marlins during a game against the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Otto Greule /Allsport)

Every now and again, however, there is proof that the scouts really do know what they are doing, and that getting the best you can out of dump-off trades like these is worth the extra research.

Consider Trevor Hoffman, voted this week into baseball’s Hall of Fame as one of the most reliable closers ever.

San Diego fans couldn’t have been too excited about hearing Hoffman included in a 1993 trade that was coming their way. They were focused instead on the Padres’ frustrating fire sale, which sent Gary Sheffield to Miami and unloaded other high-priced talent, too.

There certainly was no complaint from me over losing Hoffman or the two minor-league pitching prospects that left with him for San Diego. The skinny right-hander was a rookie with the Marlins, learning what he could by watching 45-save star Bryan Harvey and understanding that he probably wouldn’t be in the majors at all if not for being with the Marlins in their inaugural expansion season.

Two wins, two losses and two saves, that’s what Hoffman contributed to the Marlins. He was off to a good start, but nothing that would indicate Cooperstown as his eventual destination.

Sheffield, meanwhile, was a proven slugger and a National League batting champion when he came over for the first of six productive seasons in Miami. He was a big hit, leading the Marlins to a World Series title in 1997 and ending up with 509 career home runs, but he’s not yet in the Hall of Fame and probably never will be. He got just 11.1 percent of the vote this week, too far from the 75 percent requirement to imagine it possible.

So what’s the lesson? Nothing, except that baseball is ridiculous sometimes.

Maybe Derek Jeter has a new superstar hidden somewhere within the package of no-names he has picked up by trade. That would be cool, but only if the Marlins bother to pay him and keep him rather than working some other giveaway deal in the future.

The other former Marlins in the Hall of Fame are Pudge Rodriguez (who played here one season but made it count with a World Series title) plus Tim Raines and Andre Dawson (each stopped by in their 40’s to wrap up long careers) and Mike Piazza (who whistled through Miami for 18 at-bats in 1998).

[Player-coach is the only thing left for LeBron James to do]

[Doug Pederson once saved Don Shula’s bacon as Dolphins backup QB]

[Dolphins play 3 of the NFL’s four conference finalists next season]

Derek Jeter apparently missed the memo on how fed up Marlins fans are with fire sales

 

With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup, every day will be Home Run Derby for the New York Yankees.

It’s an excess of riches for Derek Jeter’s old team. And his new one? An excess of prospects, building toward some grand plan that Jeter, part-owner and top baseball executive of the Miami Marlins, has thus far failed to articulate.

New Yankee Giancarlo Stanton answers questions during a press conference at the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

The optics are not good here, trading away the franchise’s home-grown NL Most Valuable Player. Some of the worst ever, actually.

Even Jeffrey Loria, the owner everyone wanted to ride out of town on a rail, got off to a better start than this when he bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002.

Forget for a moment that Loria basically had the team handed to him in an orchestrated deal that sold his floundering Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball first. Forget it because fans care far less about the financial underpinnings of any franchise than they do about the players they buy tickets to see.

In that respect Loria and his general manager, Larry Beinfest, got busy in a hurry on a set of transactions that were far more popular and beneficial to the team’s roster than anything Jeter has done or will do over the next few years.

Tim Raines, a good clubhouse guy and a future Hall of Famer, instantly came aboard as a low-cost free agent at the end of his career. Everybody loved “Rock,” whether he played a lot or not, so no harm there.

Next came a spring-training trade that sent Antonio Alfonseca, a flighty and overweight closer, to the Cubs in a package that got the Marlins an interesting young pitching prospect named Dontrelle Willis. The D-Train was on the verge of a breakout, from minor leaguer in 2002 to NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, so that worked, too. It was all part of a quiet rollout in which the Marlins improved from 76 wins to 79, with Loria making signs that he meant to compete for something.

In Loria’s second season he shifted into a different gear altogether, trading away Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson in a deal that brought Juan Pierre, a great leadoff hitter, to the Marlins.

Next came the free-agent signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez for $10 million, which was more than one-fifth of the team payroll at the time. Pudge, a future Hall of Famer, was exactly what the Marlins needed to get the most out of a staff of kid pitchers who themselves would go on to be stars.

In May Loria showed his impetuous side, firing manager Jeff Torborg and replacing him with the ancient Jack McKeon. Nobody knew quite what to make of that, and the sale of Kevin Millar to the Red Sox was a puzzler, too, but then came the moves that really proved Loria wanted to win the World Series as soon as possible.

In July the Marlins got a top closer, Ugueth Urbina, in a trade, and in August Jeff Conine, a Marlins favorite who was lost in an earlier Wayne Huizenga fire sale, returned to the team by trade as well. The pieces were then in place for a World Series upset of the Yankees, with a mix of veterans and young stars developed in what was then recognized as a strong farm system.

No matter what anybody thinks of Loria now, at least he came into this thing with the idea that the Marlins should strive to be the best and South Florida fans should know that.

So far, the only things this market knows about Jeter are bad. He won’t care about winning for a while, it’s clear. He believes there is time for a rebuild because he is new to this project. Poor guy. He doesn’t realize that new projects are old news around here. Finished projects are what we crave.

I’m not telling you to love Jeffrey Loria. It seems, though, that he at least cared about first impressions as the owner of the Marlins.

Jeter figures he has already made his first impression, the only one he’ll ever need to make, by being one of the greatest players in Yankees history. That was a different time in his life, though, and this job of empire-building, the one that even George Steinbrenner struggled to master, does not come so naturally to him.

[A dream night for Jakeem, but not without familiar frustrations]

[It’s OK to start wondering if Tiger will return to Honda Classic]

[Before Richt was available, UM interviewed Schiano and Mullen]

Better consider the cosmic consequences before trading Giancarlo Stanton

One day soon, unless fate intervenes, the monster headline will drop that Giancarlo Stanton has been traded by the Miami Marlins for money reasons alone.

Though it won’t come as a surprise, there is no warding off the shock of dumping so spectacular a slugger at the peak of his powers.

Derek Jeter should know better. He is a major player in the history and the mythology of

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton high-fives teammates before the start of the team’s home opener, against the Atlanta Braves, at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

the New York Yankees. Even if he doesn’t believe in it, he has heard a million times about the Curse of the Bambino, a baseball fable that lived on for what seemed like forever.

Not saying that Stanton is Babe Ruth or ever will be, but stick with me for a minute.

The Boston Red Sox were doing just fine, a fistful of World Series titles and everything, until they sold Ruth to the Yankees following the 1919 season.

It’s not like there was anything wrong with the Babe at the time. He was 24 and coming off a season in which he led the American League in home runs (29) and RBI (113). Players like that are too good to be true.

Money got in the way, however. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee needed some to finance a string of Broadway theatrical productions he wanted to stage and the Babe, fairly theatrical himself, was getting a little hard to handle with this party lifestyle. So Frazee moved the budding superstar for $100,000 in cash from the Yankees plus a sizable loan from the team.

Over the next 86 years the Red Sox won zero world championships and the Yankees won 26. Curse or coincidence? You be the judge.

All I know is that trading Stanton for any reason feels like throwing away the gift of a lifetime. It figures there should be some kind of punishment for that. Short-term there will be, of course, in the form of fan backlash against the new owners. Long-term? Well, the Marlins haven’t exactly been killing it lately but it can always get worse.

The Red Sox suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons after selling the Babe, and included in that skid were nine last-place finishes.

Jeter doesn’t expect something so dire to result from trading Stanton for a raft of prospects that may someday remake the Marlins in the way that the world champion Houston Astros have been remade. Maybe that will happen, too.

Just don’t say that I didn’t warn you about Giancarlo Stanton and would could become the bane of the franchise’s existence for decades to come.

Call it the Hex of the Hulk.

Is it possible that Derek Jeter has rarely even seen the Marlins play a game?

Derek Jeter didn’t say much in his introductory Miami Marlins press conference that we didn’t already know, except for this strange tidbit.

Last Sunday’s regular-season finale at Marlins Park was the first time since his high school days that Jeter has watched a baseball game from the stands or an executive suite or anywhere else but the dugout. That’s what he said, anyway.

Derek Jeter at his first press conference as Miami Marlins chief executive on Oct. 3, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

Fairly amazing, but it goes right along with an anecdote from Tom Verducci’s book “The Yankee Years,” in which Alex Rodriguez visits Derek’s New York apartment and is stunned to learn that the Yankees captain did not have the MLB TV package.

“Derek will never watch a baseball game other than the one he’s playing in,” said Mike Borzello, the Yankees’ former bullpen catcher.

Not a World Series game? Not a World Baseball Classic game? Not a Little League game? Nothing?

That’s almost certainly an exaggeration, but the whole concept is just plain weird, especially for a guy who is running a major league baseball franchise now.

What would you think if Tom Cruise decided to produce a major-studio film and it was revealed that he had never watched a movie unless he starred in it.

What about a famous painter who announced that he had never set foot inside an art museum unless his own exhibit was being featured and he was being paid to be there?

Or a politician who said that he very rarely voted, and when he did it was only for himself.

It’s a mixed signal at best when a person at the top of their industry fails to show the same high level of interest in its widespread trends and development as the average citizen does.

There are a lot of Jeter fans out there, and with good reason, but anyone would agree that any other baseball CEO who admitted he rarely watches the game would be looked at with a very skeptical eye.

This new era of Marlins ownership may turn out to be a whole different kind of adventure, with a famous boss that we still really don’t know all that well, even after 20 years in the celebrity limelight.

[Dolphins needed Timmons back more than they needed to punish him]

[Wildest think about Giancarlo Stanton’s big season is that he batted second]

[Get to know LB coach who is charged with patching Dolphins’ sorest spot]

 

The fascinating tale of Giancarlo Stanton, a slugger who bats second

 

He’s been doing it most of the season and still I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of Giancarlo Stanton batting second in the Miami Marlins lineup.

Through Monday’s game he had 57 home runs, the most in the majors, and seems bound for 60 in what remains of the season. Do you know how many 60-homer men have ever batted No. 2 in the lineup during their historic season?

None.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton stands with boys before a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Most often the legendary sluggers have batted in the third spot. If not there, it’s usually cleanup. But second?

Marlins manager Don Mattingly moved Stanton there from the cleanup spot on May 23 in a desperate attempt to shake the offense loose for a team that was off to a 15-28 start. Stanton himself needed some fixing at that point. He was chasing too many bad pitches and striking out way too much in an attempt to turn games around on one mighty swing.

Concentrating more on contact behind leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, Stanton began to drive balls in every direction and many of those times right over the wall. He had 11 homers prior to the switch in what admittedly was just a slice of the season. The other 46 have come from the No. 2 spot, and there’s no reason to change it now.

Here, with data scrapped together from the voluminous Baseball-Reference.com website, are the batting positions of the players who hit 60 homers in one season, plus Stanton.

 

Barry Bonds, 73 homers in 2001 – 136 games in the No. 3 spot, 11 games at No. 4

Mark McGwire, 70 homers in 1998 – 152 games in the No. 3 spot

Sammy Sosa, 66 homers in 1998 – 121 games at No. 3, 38 at No. 4

Mark McGwire, 65 homers in 1999 – 150 games in the No. 3 spot

Sammy Sosa, 64 homers in 2001 – 141 games in the No. 3 spot, 19 at No. 4

Sammy Sosa, 63 homers in 1999 – 84 games in the No. 3 spot, 78 at No. 4

Roger Maris, 61 homers in 1961 – 139 at No. 3, 10 at No. 7, 7 at No. 5, 3 at No. 4, 1 at No. 6

Babe Ruth, 60 homers in 1927 – 157 games in the No. 3 spot

Giancarlo Stanton, 57 homers in 2017 – 105 games in the No. 2 spot, 35 at No. 4, 7 at No. 5, 1 at No. 3

 

Mattingly has been all over the place with his lineup this season but the most commonly used order has been Gordon leading off, Stanton hitting second, Christian Yelich hitting third and Marcell Ozuna batting cleanup.

It hasn’t stopped Stanton from piling up 126 RBI, and Ozuna is right behind at 118.

Hey, Mattingly tried something different and Stanton was willing to give it a shot, with admirable results. Takes some guts to roll something like this out there in the first place because every old-schooler is going to say that it’s crazy.

Whether Derek Jeter agrees once he is approved as the Marlins co-owner or even wants to keep Mattingly as manager, the concept of experimenting with lineups is not new to him. Jeter batted ninth in his major-league debut and showed up just about everywhere else during his career, including leadoff and cleanup.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has batted second in 24 games this season. The majority of his starts have come in the No. 3 spot, with 61 games there, but apparently nothing about this game is written in stone anymore.

[Gators return to soothing opener with Charleston Southern in 2018]

[A look back at Heat’s inaugural exhibition game at FAU in 1988]

[Get to know LB’s coach charged with patching Dolphins’ sorest spot]

 

 

Is there anything with this revocable waivers thing to worry about with Giancarlo Stanton?

 

I’m not enough of a seamhead to know everything there is to know about revocable waivers but if the Miami Marlins just ran Giancarlo Stanton through that process over the weekend and he went unclaimed, as reported by Yahoo Sports, it’s time to dig in.

As explained by the MLB Daily Dish website, “In August, tons of players throughout the league are placed on revocable trade waivers, in many cases for clubs to gauge value of their players and in some rare cases, because clubs are actually interested in making waiver-wire deals.”

MIAMI – Giancarlo Stanton breaks the Miami Marlins’ season home run record as he hits his 43rd of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

My interpretation: Generally speaking it’s no big deal for a player to be placed on revocable waivers in August. Happens all the time. This, however, makes Stanton eligible to be traded to any team now, and since the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group just signed an agreement to purchase the team from Jeffrey Loria, you have to assume that Jeter is the one who wants to discover all the possibilities.

Stanton is owed $295 million between 2018 and 2027. Surely Jeter’s group and Loria talked about that during negotiations to buy the team at the reported price of $1.2 billion. The franchise and its new owners can either build around Stanton or start a new long-range plan with greater freedom to spread money in other directions.

Stanton’s on a career-best roll, too, with an all-time high trade value. Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Giants, he had homered in five consecutive games, setting a franchise season record of 43 in the process. In August alone Stanton has 10 homers, more than three teams (the Phillies, Pirates and Rays) have managed to pile up. He also went into Tuesday’s action with 22 homers in the space of 34 games, a pace that hasn’t been seen since Shawn Green of the Dodgers matched it in 2002.

Now, about the “revocable” part of the waivers process, which Stanton reportedly cleared on Sunday.

Other teams have 48 hours to make a claim on a player who has been placed on revocable waivers. The teams at the bottom of the standings get first priority if there are multiple claims.

At this point, a trade can be worked out, or the original team may pull the player back off waivers and everything returns to normal.

Or, as explained by MLB Daily Dish, “the team can simply award the player to the priority claiming team, with the claiming team taking on the rest of the player’s contract and immediately acquiring him.”

My interpretation: If some other team was willing to take Stanton’s contract or any significant chunk of it off the Marlins’ books, it would have been tempting for Jeter to approve that. Sounds like a horrible PR move for the new group, of course, in terms of dumping the Marlins’ best player in the midst of an incredible home-run barrage, but Loria still owns the team and fans are already inclined to blame him for everything.

Either way, since Stanton was not claimed, the new ownership group has a better idea of which teams are interested enough, and wealthy enough, to make a call and seriously discuss the situation when it comes to Miami’s young superstar.

[Pahokee’s Anquan Boldin will have a strong influence on Buffalo Bills]

[Two places in America where there is nothing but love for Jay Cutler]

[Any legendary story you hear about Vince Wilfork is probably true]

The Detroit Tigers just went on a fact-finding mission with second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was placed on revocable waivers and was claimed by another unknown team. Since no deal was worked out within the 48-hour waiver period, Kinsler stays with the Tigers. Maybe he gets traded in the offseason or next summer or maybe nothing ever happens with Kinsler but Detroit has more information about his market value at this point and that is important to them.

With Stanton, who has a no-trade clause, it remains possible that he could be traded away by the end of August if there is somewhere he agrees to go and some team rich enough to assume his contract. After that it makes no sense because players have to be with a contending team by Sept. 1 in order to make the postseason roster.

Bottom line, I don’t think Stanton is going anywhere right now, but it’s no surprise that Loria’s guys are looking around to see what is possible, and that Jeter is eager to see what they find out.

The Marlins need to build everything over, from the farm system up. If Jeter is soon to be in charge of both the business and the baseball side of this operation, Stanton is the key to every blueprint that must be reviewed and approved over the next decade.