Mike Wellman's Archives

I-Cubs Bring Plenty of Cashner to Vegas

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay there but it’s no secret what Andrew Cashner’s been up to so what the hell… Last night the ladder-climbing right-hander pitched the Iowa Cubs to a 6-1 victory in his first start at the Triple A level, working six innings of one-run ball while surrendering five hits [four singles and a double] and a walk to go with six strikeouts [four of them swinging]. Cashner threw 89 pitches and most impressively retired the last seven hitters he faced after giving up his only run to tie the game at one in the bottom of the fourth.

Sandberg Auditions in New Orleans

Iowa Cubs skipper Ryne Sandberg got tossed from the game for arguing a called third strike in the top of the 9th inning of his team's 2-1 loss in New Orleans last night.

Right now the top two layers of the Cub organization could be peeled and tossed like a rotting onion. Maybe Castro and his band of Smokies should all come north together. Things are at a low ebb.


Lilly Breaks Sweat [& One Bat]

After four efficient innings and a mere 51 pitches Ted Lilly called it a rehab at Principal Park tonight and headed for the clubhouse, maybe to call ahead and order a postgame spread for his temporary teammates.

Lilly fanned four, all swinging, and walked only one. He permitted only one hit, a wind-blown home run by Tyler Greene in the top of the 1st. His pitch counts by inning were 17, 12, 13 and 9.

When Stats Add Up to Poetry

I haven’t read too much John Updike. And I never saw Ted Williams play ball live, even on television. But honest to God, Updike’s famous essay on Williams’ last game [“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”] is on my list of favorite things. I already have a recorded version on CD which I listen to occasionally just as I re-watch “Hoosiers” every now and again as an antidote for creeping cynicism. And now, thanks to the Library of America, I have it bound in hardback too. I regard it instantly as a prized possession, a piece of me the heirs shall have to fight over in my aftermath. Why do I value it so? Because it marries a couple that were meant for each other and each of whom mean a lot to me - baseball and writing.

Updike was no baseball fan. But he saw the essence of the game’s appeal more clearly than just about all of the game’s most ardent followers are able to and articulated it. His insights are there for the taking in his reflections on the very last at bat in the career of the enigmatic Teddy Ballgame.

The I-Cubs Have Hit a Sandberg; Not Much Else

Whenever the Iowa Cubs finally win a game they will be the last team in the Paciifc Coast League to do so in 2010.

This afternoon they dropped their 4th straight to Nashville, 4-2, on a sunny blustery day in Des Moines. The team managed only eight runs while being swept by the Brewer wannabes.

So Many Autographs; So Little Ryne

Not as balmy as last year, but better than average Opening Day weather here last night as Des Moines tiptoes toward the Summer of Sandberg. For the record, the Iowa Cubs dropped Ryno’s Triple A managerial debut by a score of 6-3 to the Nashville branch of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Will 'The Hawk' Land in Cooperstown?

Andre Dawson was born the same year I was - 1954. His birthday is the same as my eldest child’s - July 10. But neither of those trivial bits have anything at all to do with his candidacy for election to baseball’s hall of fame.

There’s a strong numerical case to be made on behalf of The Hawk. I’ll leave it to others to keep making it. But once it’s been laid out I’d add a couple of intangible, immeasurable flourishes as finishing touches.

Updike to Williams to This?!

John Updike was as fine a writer as Ted Williams was a hitter. Updike won two Pulitzers, Williams a pair of MVP’s.

When the former died in January of this year I marked his passing by listening to a recording of Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu. It’s a classic essay he wrote for The New Yorker in the aftermath of Williams’ last game at Boston’s Fenway Park in 1960; a day when The Kid famously and fittingly homered in the final at-bat of a career that was both tempestuous and illustrious.

It’s beautiful; something that could turn non-believers into baseball fans the way Handel’s Messiah might call pagans to church.

It could not have been an accident that Updike was there to observe the event and later share his thoughts with whomever they concerned, although a preface to the recorded essay makes it sound as though it was just that. His first purpose for being in Boston that day was adulterous but, finding his paramour not at home, he went to the ballpark instead.

When Williams died in 2002 the poignancy of his death was overridden by the announcement that his head was to be frozen for future reference. His son, John Henry, who I recall accompanied his father on an autographing expedition to Des Moines in the mid-90's to raise funds for the Bob Feller museum not far from here, was having Ted posthumously decapitated and iced on the basis of a signed cocktail napkin that came with no certificate of authenticity. How at once cryonic and ironic.


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