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John Lackey gave Pat Neshek a Babe Ruth autographed ball for his jersey number

John-Lackey-CardinalsJohn Lackey has worn jersey No. 41 throughout his entire career, and it is obviously very important to him. When the veteran right-hander was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals from the Boston Red Sox, he had to negotiate in order to keep No. 41. Cards reliever Pat Neshek drove a pretty hard bargain.

On Wednesday, Neshek tweeted a photo of an authentic Babe Ruth autographed baseball and thanked Lackey for the gift. Considering the nature of the exchange, I’d be more inclined to call it a form of payment than a gift.

Baseballs that have been signed by The Babe sell for anywhere between $3,000 to $50,000, depending on the condition. When you consider what some other professional athletes have paid to keep their jersey numbers, Lackey didn’t do all that horribly. Plus, he’s making north of $15 million this season. If Big Hoss wants another autographed Ruth baseball, he’ll just go out and buy one.

H/T Hardball Talk

Bruce Bochy ‘frustrated’ over called game

Cubs tarp

The San Francisco Giants suffered their most frustrating loss of the season on Tuesday night, mainly because they had basically no control over the outcome. After the Chicago Cubs grounds crew failed to pull the tarp over the infield during a torrential downpour in the fifth inning, the game was eventually called due to unplayable conditions.

A massive pool of standing water remained behind second base after the rain stopped. Workers poured drying agent onto the infield and worked for about two hours before both managers and the crew chief deemed the field still unplayable. After another inspection at 11:15 p.m. and again after midnight, the game was called.

The Cubs are in last place and out of the playoff hunt. The Giants, on the other hand, are 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. The Dodgers won and picked up another game on San Francisco. The Giants are also now tied for the second NL Wild Card spot. Bruce Bochy was not pleased.

“Look, I’m frustrated, beside myself,” Bochy told reporters, via Mark Gonzalez of The Chicago Tribune. “It’s probably not in the right frame of mind. It’s my last (recourse). I hope they listen and watch how what happened there because in this day and time it shouldn’t happen, can’t happen, I think, with the importance of these games. I’m going to leave it at that.”

Cubs president Theo Epstein insisted that the Cubs also wanted to finish the game and even tried to have it suspended so that the rest could be played on Wednesday. However, MLB rules would only allow the game to be suspended if there was an automatic tarp malfunction. Because the issue was caused by human error and the game had gone at least four and a half innings, it was officially in the books.

File that one under “Things You’ll Probably Never See Again.”

Curt Schilling has mouth cancer, believes it was caused by tobacco

Curt-SchillingCurt Schilling revealed on Wednesday that he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, more commonly known as mouth cancer, back in February. Schilling had previously chosen not to reveal the type of cancer he was battling but discussed his health issues in more detail during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon.

“This all came about from a dog bite,” Schilling said, via Boston.com. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor, and the day that I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. And I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. So there happened to be an ENT [Ear, Nose, and Throat] right next door to the hand doctor, and I thought what the heck, let me just stop in and see and so I waited in the office and went in there and they did the biopsy, and two days later, they diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.”

Schilling said one of the reasons he did not reveal the type of cancer he had been diagnosed with is that he did not want to become a part of baseball’s chewing tobacco debate. He is, however, convinced that using smokeless tobacco led to his cancer.

“I didn’t talk about it for two reasons,” he explained. “No. 1, I didn’t want to get into the chewing tobacco debate, which I knew was going to come about, which to me, I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got … absolutely, no question in my mind about that. And the second thing was I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want the pity or any of that stuff…

“I ended up spending about six months in the hospital because I had a bad reaction. I had a staph infection. I had what’s called C. diff. I had a couple different problems and there was a week there, there’s a week of my life I don’t remember while I was in the hospital going through this.”

As we all know, Tony Gwynn lost his battle with cancer earlier this summer and had previously stated that he believed years of tobacco use led to his disease. His death has inspired a number of players to give up the nasty habit. Schilling is fortunate to have achieved remission. Hopefully his story also serves as a wake-up call.

Cubs tarp problems result in shortened game, Cubs win (Video)

The Chicago Cubs ground crew struggled putting the tarp on the field during a rain delay in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s Cubs-Giants, but their issues actually benefited the Cubs in the standings.

The crew’s inability to properly cover the infield led to the dirt absorbing so much water that it became unplayable. It wasn’t until a second attempt (seen below) that the crew finally covered the field entirely, but their efforts were too late.

Cubs tarp

The Cubs and Giants waited through a 4:34 rain delay before umpires decided to call the game. The Cubs were leading the Giants 2-0 in the middle of the fifth inning and got credit for the win (games have to go a minimum of four and a half innings to be called).

While Giants fans will no doubt throw a fit over this one, Cubs fans loved it. In the top video, you can hear them chant “pull, pull, pull!” as the crew battled with the tarp. In the video below, they ironically cheer, “USA! USA! USA!” as the crew finally gets it right.

Bob Costas botches first pitch, asks for second throw (Video)

Bob Costas threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday’s Cardinals-Reds game … and he also threw out the second.

The noted broadcaster and St. Louis native went all the way to the rubber and did a half windup for his first pitch, but he flung it wildly to the left.

Bob Costas pitch

Dissatisfied with his errant toss, Costas asked for a do-over and did much on his makeup toss.

He had a lot of sink action on the second pitch, too.

Only Costas would demand a mulligan on his ceremonial first pitch. I mean I probably would have, too, but then again I would have thrown a strike on my first attempt.

Mo’Ne Davis shares how she got started in baseball

Mo'Ne Davis Taney

Mo’Ne Davis has become the sensation at the Little League World Series this year after pitching a 2-hit shutout in her Philadelphia-based team’s opening game win at Williamsport last week.

Davis is the star pitcher on her Taney Little League team, which is 2-0 through two games and will face Las Vegas on Wednesday with a trip to the US championship game on the line. Davis, 13, has been playing baseball less than six years. She was the subject of ESPN’s Sunday Conversation and was asked by Karl Ravech how she got started playing baseball.

“I actually started playing baseball at seven. I wasn’t really a big baseball fan but I had a strong arm, so then I knew I had to practice more,” Davis said.

“I was playing football and I was tackling the boys and I was throwing spirals, so coach Steve (Bandura) came up to me and said you have to play baseball. So I played baseball and I was an outfielder and that was kind of how it went.

“I started pitching at like the of age 8 or 9. I wasn’t the best, but I threw strikes so I would start a lot. And then my arm started getting stronger and stronger, so then I started throwing gas — like my fastball started speeding up. So that’s how I got started.”

In an interview with CSN Philly prior to the start of the LLWS, Bandura recalled how he discovered Davis.

“A lot of our kids were still hanging around, they were out in left field throwing a football around,” he said. “There was this little girl in the group with them, and I’m watching her throw perfect spirals every single time, and throwing them a good distance. I was like, ‘What is that?’”

Bandura is the coach of a youth travel team called the Anderson Monarchs. It was after one of his Monarchs practices that he spotted Davis. He also had great praise for her.

“At this age, she’s the best pitcher I’ve ever had,” Bandura told CSN Philly. “I’ve had pitchers that are now in the minor leagues, but at this age, no one’s had the control to go with the velocity that she has and the command.”

Even though Davis is 13, she says her teammates view her more as like a mother rather than sister. She believes a lot of that has to do with her calm attitude on the field.

Davis is not just comfortable on the field but also off of it. She shows some charm and humor in interviews. When asked what are some things people don’t know about her, she gave a typical 13-year-old answer.

“I laugh a lot and I joke around a lot, too. I also eat and sleep a lot.”

According to ESPNW, Davis dreams of playing point guard for UConn’s women’s basketball and has no desire to switch to softball. Why should she? The way she’s going, she can continue to excel at baseball.

Joe Mikulik strips in latest ejection meltdown (Video)

Joe-Mikulik-stripsJoe Mikulik is one of the most famous minor league baseball managers in the country. Why? Because he has a knack for throwing some downright epic temper tantrums. Mikulik was at it again on Sunday, this time stripping some of his clothes off and leaving them at home plate after being ejected.

Mikulik, who is currently managing the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, was furious after infielder Luis Mendez was called out at home plate. He proceeded to imitate Mendez’s slide into home two times to make his point while screaming at the umpiring crew. Mikulik then took his shoes and jersey off, dropped them on home plate and made an emphatic safe sign.

Mikulik first became famous in 2006 when he dumped water all over home plate after being run from a game. Several years later, he picked up third base and handed it to a fan after being ejected. The guy obviously knows he’s a YouTube sensation.

H/T Deadspin