Tommy John is better known now for the UCL surgery that bears his name, but in 1968 he was a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. During an at-bat against Tigers' second baseman Dick McAuliffe, John buzzed a fastball right at McAuliffe's head. McAuliffe was able to dodge it from his trademark wide-open stance, but after a second pitch sailed behind him, the scrappy Tigers' infielder took exception and charged the mound. In the brawl that followed, McAuliffe kneed John in the shoulder, causing a separated shoulder that ended John's season.
John reflected on the incident in a conversation with ESPN's Ian O'Connor in light of the controversy and outrage surrounding the Chase Utley slide tackle of Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada on Saturday night. While the baseball code called for an eye-for-an-eye, John never retaliated against McAuliffe, despite threatening to do so when talking to reporters after the game. With Matt Harvey due to take the mound in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday night, John had some advice for the Mets' righthander should Utley be permitted to play while the appeal of his suspension is considered.
John advises that Harvey let the threat do the work that a simple plunking never would. In his case, he felt that McAuliffe never knew when or if the retaliation pitch was coming, and for seasons afterward struggled against John as a result. Was the beanball that never came more effective than the one that does? Perhaps by never throwing it, yet refusing to let the incident die, he kept it in McAuliffe's head. It's hard to know, but McAuliffe went just 1-for-12 against John from that point on.
Anyone familiar with the late great television show MASH will recognize this strategy. Sometimes the greatest prank of all is the one that's certain to come, but never does. That way, the fear and doubt never leaves your opponent's mind. It'll be interesting to see how Harvey, who has been under fire for he and agent Scott Boras' concerns over his innings limit, handles the situation should Utley be allowed to play. The best revenge is always to win, but the Mets' fanbase is annoyed with Harvey to begin with, and they are sorely wroth with Mr. Utley at the moment.
Players sound off on Utley slide - FOX Sports, CJ Nitkowski
The fallout of the Chase Utley slide-tackle continues as Nitkowski conducts an informal poll of players to get their reactions.
It's time for Major League Baseball to protect middle infielders from the kind of slide that broke Ruben Tejada's leg - FOX Sports, Dave Cameron
It's hard to disagree with Cameron's assessment here, particularly as the rules already exist to prevent a slide like that. Unfortunately, tradition has gotten in the way of enforcement until now.
Kudos to Joe Torre for taking a stand with Chase Utley suspension - ESPN, David Schoenfield
Joe Torre agreed that the suspension is hugely inconsistent with the way MLB has always approached slides like that. However, he argues, rightly in my opinion, that his job is to enforce the rules, without regard for what has come before.
Handful of Detroit Tigers ticketed for winter leagues - Detroit Free Press, Anthony Fenech
Bruce Rondon, Neftali Feliz and Jose Valdez will be among the Tigers' potential relievers looking to hone their game in the Dominican and Venezuelan winter leagues. They'll be joined by Steven Moya, Dixon Machado and centerfielder Wynton Bernard among others...
Joe Maddon’s Defensive Calculus - FanGraphs, Craig Edwards
Watching a Joe Maddon team is always interesting. So far this postseason, he's boldly used players out of their normal positions, maximizing his offensive potential and tailoring his defense to the strengths and weaknesses of his starting pitchers.
The Amazingly Awesome rookie class of 2015: Pitchers - Minor League Ball, John Sickels
A good recap of the 2015 crop of great new pitchers in the league, even as Noah "Thor" Snydergaard and Lance McCullers make their impact in the post-season.
The Amazingly Awesome rookie class of 2015: Hitters - Minor League Ball, John Sickels
The trend toward hugely impactful prospects making an immediate splash continued this year as Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor were only a few of the bright young stars who emerged this season.