Luckiest Man Exhibit A Tribute To Lou Gehrig And Pete Frates

Gehrig-Speech-DayTo commemorate one of the greatest speeches in American history, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center has opened a new exhibit, “The Luckiest Man,” a tribute to Lou Gehrig’s iconic farewell 75 years ago.

The simplicity and humility of Gehrig’s speech still resonate today, especially with the heightened  awareness of the terrible disease that claimed his life, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The exhibit contains artifacts and rare photos of Gehrig’s life and career, which is forever remembered by his stepping reluctantly in front of the microphone before 61,000 at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 and calling himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

The Yankee captain, the son of German immigrants and one of the gentlest men ever to wear a major-league uniform, had played in a record 2,130 consecutive games, belted 493 home runs while compiling a batting average of .340.

At the time, he was 36 years old and dying, yet insisted that his disease would not rob him of all the good fortune, good friends and great love he had enjoyed throughout his short life.

The exhibit also tells the story of another stricken baseball captain – former Boston College star Pete Frates – whose courage in the face of tragedy helped inspire the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, the national phenomenon that has generated greater awareness and raised well over $100 million for ALS research.  Frates was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2012.

Like Gehrig, Frates, now 29, considers himself blessed to have played the game he loved and to be supported  by family and friends. Thanks to the power of social media, Frates now has thousands of voices speaking on his behalf, reflecting Gehrig’s humanity and legacy of raising awareness of a devastating disease.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 1. The Museum is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Gehrig Day Yankees Jerseys Auction To Benefit ALS Research

SteinerSports_ALSAuction_JerseysThe fight against ALS has gained national attention through the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” and ‎Steiner Sports is proud to support the fight by‎ auctioning off game-used pinstripe jerseys of over 30 Yankee players and coaches worn on ‎Lou Gehrig Day (July 2) at Yankee Stadium. These exclusive jerseys, including
those worn by 2014 All-Stars Derek Jeter, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances, will be included as part of Steiner Sports “Derek Jeter Farewell Auction” beginning on September 3 and running through October 7.

All proceeds from the Lou Gehrig Day jerseys will benefit the ALS Association in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease. To participate in the auction visit auction.steinersports.com‎.

Cyclones To ‘Slime’ Fans, Benefit ALSA Sans Ice Buckets Wednesday

Cyclones All That JerseysIn the world of minor league baseball, the Brooklyn Cyclones play in very rarefied air, and we are not talking just about the smell of the sea that wafts in from Coney Island over the outfield fence. The Mets’ New York Penn League affiliate has to constantly find ways to come up with promotions that have enough value to pull from the millions of other choices New Yorkers have to spend their discretionary income. They aren’t even the only show in Brooklyn any more, with the Nets at the Barclays Center. But they are a completely unique, and still very fun and affordable subway ride away for tens of thousands of fans and families.

So with that challenge as a backdrop, the Cyclones have sought to raise the minor league promo ante again this year, succeeding with promotions like “Seinfeld Night,” which draw not only a big crowd but big exposure through the media for the team and the event. This Wednesday night they will have yet another, when Nickelodeon, treading further into the fun mix of kids and sports, has their ’90s Are All That Night, when the Cyclones take on the Staten Island Yankees at 7 p.m. Kel Mitchell, star of iconic Nickelodeon ‘90s shows “All That”and” Kenan & Kel,” will throw out the first pitch.

It will be a great night of slime, double dare, giveaways and even a stop by by Keenan Mitchell, star of the hit show “Keenan and Kel.” However the biggest moment of the night will come from the Cyclones themselves, who will done orange and green custom jerseys for the night, and then will auction them off for the charity of choice this month,  the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA), and no ice bucket challenge is need.

While some may say the Mets are in need of a sliming now and again (Nick did have a night at Citi Field earlier this year by the way), this Cyclones promo is again all in fun, with a national partner that once again shows how Major league Brooklyn can be in the promo department. Another homer for the Cyclones, who constantly play to a higher level off the field.

New MLB-Mandated Security Measures to Be Implemented at Yankee Stadium Beginning on Tuesday

Metal-DetectorThe New York Yankees today announced that as part of Major League Baseball’s initiative to standardize security procedures at all 30 Major League parks for the start of the 2015 season, metal detectors will be added at various entry points at Yankee Stadium beginning on Tuesday for the start of the Yankees’ upcoming homestand.

These procedures, which result from MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security to standardize security practices across the game, will be in addition to bag checks that are now uniform throughout MLB.

The Yankees are introducing metal detection at select Stadium entrances this season – before the 2015 mandate – in an effort to acclimate staff and fans to the new procedure. Beginning in 2015, all game-day entrances to Yankee Stadium will follow this protocol.

Due to the enhanced security measures, the Yankees strongly urge all fans to begin budgeting extra time for entry into the ballpark when planning their trip to the Stadium.

“Nothing is more important to us at Yankee Stadium than the safety of the fans we serve,” said Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost. “To that end, we are committed to the procedures that Major League Baseball and the Department of Homeland Security have asked us to implement. We want our fans to feel safe in Yankee Stadium, and our staff is dedicated to maintaining the highest security standards possible.”

Beginning with Tuesday’s game vs. Houston, fans will be asked to remove cell phones and all large metal objects from their pockets before walking through metal detectors at select Yankee Stadium entryways. As has been the policy of recent years, all bags will be checked, and only MLB-compliant bags – 16 in. x 16 in. x 8 in. or smaller – will be admitted.

Those who choose not to go through a walk-through metal detector have the option of being manually checked with a hand-held detector.

Hall of Fame Announces Changes to Voting Process

imageThe National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors today announced changes to the rules for election for recently retired players, reducing the length of stay on the ballot for players from a maximum of 15 to 10 years, while installing a new balloting and registration process for Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting members.

The changes, effective immediately and to be reflected in 2015 Hall of Fame voting, are the first made by the Hall of Fame to the voting process since 1991 and just the second time the Baseball Hall of Fame has amended the rules for election since 1985.

“The Board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “We believe the BBWAA has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame – player’s record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity – to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority. The Board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward.”

Candidates for Hall of Fame election who receive votes on at least five percent of ballots cast had previously been eligible to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration by the BBWAA. Going forward, the maximum years of consideration for a player who meets that criteria is now 10 years. Candidates would then move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity. Three candidates presently on the BBWAA ballot in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain under consideration by the BBWAA for up to the full 15 years. Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th year in 2015) and Lee Smith (13th year in 2015) will be eligible to remain on the BBWAA ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration.

BBWAA members earn a Hall of Fame vote from its organization, which is independent of the Hall of Fame, by maintaining 10 consecutive years on a baseball beat. Those Hall of Fame eligible voters will now be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. The names of those BBWAA members casting Hall of Fame ballots will now be made public with the election results; however, an individual’s ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame.

Ernst and Young will continue to verify the count, with added responsibilities in verifying the process. The 2015 ballot will be announced by the BBWAA in late-November and those who have completed the registration process will receive their ballot around that time. Ballots are to be postmarked by December 31. The 2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame results will be announced at a yet to be determined date in early January.

Of the 211 players in the Hall of Fame, 115 have been elected by the BBWAA, 96 by Veterans Committees. Of the 115 BBWAA electees, 102 (89%) have been elected in years 1-10 and 13 (11%) have been elected in years 11-15.

The BBWAA has held the exclusive voting privilege to consider recently retired players for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 1936. Since that time, the BBWAA has presided over 70 elections in 79 election years, with no elections being held in 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963 and 1965.

In the nascent stages of Hall of Fame voting, election rules were not codified. By World War II, they began to take shape, with evolution over ensuing years featuring changes to the eligibility criteria and qualifications for earning election. The rules for election are maintained and governed by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.

The last rule change implemented by the Hall of Fame came in 1991, formalizing a long-standing unwritten rule that anyone on baseball’s ineligible list cannot be an eligible candidate for Hall of Fame election. Prior to that, in 1985, the Board made candidates eligible for future elections if they were named on five percent or more of ballots cast in preceding elections.

A Yankee Fan On Screens Big And Small

CaviezelJim Caveziel has played a legendary golfer (Bobby Jones), has traded hoops time with the likes of John Stockton and others (from his time growing up in the state of Washington), spent hours listening to John Wooden (who coached his dad at UCLA), and now plays legendary high school coach Bob Ladoceur in the upcoming film When The Game Stands Tall.

Yet for his wide ranging connections to sport, baseball seemed to be in the distance for the current star of “Person of Interest.”  However that could not be further from the truth, as we learned when the veteran actor took the stage in June at, of all places, Yankee Stadium for the Beyond Sport Conference.

Caveziel was joined by ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi to talk about the values that sport played in his life, especially with the roles he has engaged in during a prosperous career, and baseball fit well into the conversation.

“It’s quite amazing to be at Yankee Stadium, when you think about the history and tradition of what this team stands for,” Caveziel said. “Right now I get to play a legendary coach at the high school level in Bob Ladouceur, and when you compare that to the legendary coaches that have worn the pinstripes—Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Joe McCarthy—it’s nice to be even associated with such legends by being here and talking about their craft.”

The feature, which comes out in late August nationwide, is about De La Salle High School in Northern California, and tells the story of how the team put together the longest winning streak in sports history under Ladouceur, but then had to find its way back to moral, academic and personal success after a series of tragedies rocked the team. Directed by Thomas Carter, the film is much more about the values of team and the challenges of everyday life than the glitz and glamour associated with elite athletics on every level. Caviezel, along with co-stars like Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Clancy Brown, bring the positives and the negatives of those life lessons home.

“It is a film about a high school football team, yes, but the message transcends sports, and I’m sure will resonate with any coach or parent who has had to deal with the issues we have in life,” Caviezel added. “However I think for elite coaches who have had success, the message can be even greater, because maintaining that level of success and the pressure you have placed on yourself and your team can be very daunting. It’s something you see and understand at Yankee Stadium for sure, with all those banners hanging. There are a lot of ghosts looking down on the team, and keeping that tradition alive can be very taxing.”

While growing up a Mariners fan in the Pacific Northwest, Caveziel always admired the Yankees tradition and now as he makes his home in New York, he has come to call the Yankees more of his team, both for their success on the field and the way they carry themselves in the community.

“Just being in the stadium and looking out onto that field brings such a sense of awe, and when you factor in what has gone n on the field, and how a person like Derek Jeter carries himself in his life, it’s pretty inspiring,” he added. “Plus you factor in all the former Mariners who have come to New York and seen success, from Ichiro to Randy Johnson and on and on, and it’s hard not to get caught up in all that the Yankees are about, even for someone who has such deep ties to Seattle.”

So while fans will see Caveziel as a high school coach in the coming weeks, could there be a baseball story in the future as well? “Sports as a theme in entertainment can be very powerful when done right as a metaphor for life,” he added. “I think people will see that in When The Game Stands Tall, and there certainly are any number of baseball stories that fit the mold, so who knows what the future brings. It certainly would be interesting to see what’s out there, and I’d welcome the challenge if the timing and the story fit.”

But for now, Yankee fans can take pride in seeing one of theirs as a star both on TV, and now in an upcoming film on a legendary coach.

 

‘Big Papi’ Documentary Debuts on Epix Thursday

Ortiz-SmileAfter parts of six years with the Minnesota Twins, David Ortiz hadn’t distinguished himself as anything near the player and personality he would become. Released by the Twins after what had been his best season in 2002 (.272/.339/.500; 20 HR, 75 RBI), the 26-year-old signed with Boston, and the legend of “Big Papi” was born.

Twelve stellar years later, though Yankees fans would be loath to admit it, the slugger has Hall of Fame credentials, and his string of success while with the Red Sox includes a home run crown, two RBI titles, countless huge clutch hits and, most importantly, three World Series victories.

There has been some controversy along the way, involving enhancing drugs and clashes with the media, but there is no doubt that “Papi” is loved in Boston, and he’s been a polarizing figure everywhere else.

The EPIX Original Documentary, David Ortiz In The Moment, offers baseball fans in and around “Red Sox Nation” a close-up look at Ortiz’s life. The special, produced by Relativity Sports in conjunction with Major League Baseball Productions, traces Ortiz’s path from The Dominican Republic to stardom and lets us into “Big Papi’s” world.

David Ortiz In the Moment makes its World Television Premiere on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Yankees Promote Wheeler, Option Solarte

The Yangervis Solarte experiment has hit a detour in the Bronx, as the 26-year-old rookie who got off to such a rousing start for the Bombers in the first two months of the season was optioned to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre today in the first of what may be more moves to come.

Infielder Zelous Wheeler, similar to Solarte in that he has played his entire eight-year career in the minors, was added to the big league roster for the first time.

Solarte (.260/.343/.393) has played in 63 games for New York this year, primarily at third base. He has seen his playing time decline as he slumped over the past month.

Wheeler, 27, has played four defensive positions this year for Scranton, primarily third and shortstop, and sports a .299/.367/.467 slash line with 7 home runs and 31 RBI.

Infielder Dean Anna, who hit .136 in 22 at bats earlier this season for the Yankees after being acquired in the off season from San Diego, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

The First MLB Drug Test And The Other Side Of Branch Rickey

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I was the first player drug-tested in baseball, and I am the one who asked for it.” – Babe Dahlgren

The Baseball Writers Association of America’s stance on The Steroid Era is well-known. They have made that very clear. There are folks on both sides of the issue. Many feel that the lack of evidence supporting the exclusion of players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell from the Baseball Hall of Fame based on rumors that they may have used PEDs, is an injustice.

We also live in an era where it is hard to imagine people choosing integrity over the millions of dollars to be made with the popping of a pill or the injecting of a needle. These players may indeed be innocent, and if they are, they have the power, resources and platform to defend themselves.

Some other players never got that opportunity.

There was another player who once took a drug test, the first one in known baseball history. It was paid for by then-MLB commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, and it came back clean. For some reason, Landis and several of the commissioners that followed him, refused to make the results public, or provide that player with some level of justice.

Instead, former MLB All-Star Babe Dahlgren, once considered the best fielding first baseman in baseball, was sentenced to a life as a baseball vagabond.  Even after his playing days, he was plagued with the inaction of a baseball industry that had turned its back on him a long time before.

The whole story is chronicled in the book, Rumor In Town: A Grandson’s Promise to Right a Wrong, written by Dahlgren’s grandson, Matt Dahlgren.

Sadly, two of the most respected figures in baseball history played a large role in Dahlgren’s misery, and it is perhaps that reality which is responsible for the lack of coverage and discussion of these events.

From Gotham Baseball’s Spring 2011 Issue, “Going Nine: The Other Babe”

“The guy can do everything, and I have a hunch that he invents plays as he goes along. If an old-timer were to swear to me on a stack of testaments that there was every a greater defensive first baseman than Ellsworth ‘Babe’ Dahlgren of the Yankees I wouldn’t believe him.” John Lardner, The New Yorker, June 13, 1940

According to Matt Dahlgren, Babe was also the victim of a vicious rumor; he was a marijuana smoker. Mike Lynch of Seamheads.com summarized it best, stating that the rumor was “started by a Hall Of Fame manager, perpetuated by a Hall of Fame executive, and buried by a Hall Of Fame Commissioner.”

Dahlgren started his career in the Boston Red Sox farm system and was poised to become the team’s first baseman until the Bosox acquired the Philadelphia A’s slugger Jimmie Foxx.  It seemed a trade to another team made the best sense. However, he was dealt to an even worse situation; the Yankees, where Lou Gehrig was entrenched. Determined to prove that he belonged, Dahlgren took his game to the Yankees’ top farm team in Newark in 1937, where he hit. 340 for the Bears, one of the greatest minor league champions in baseball history.

He would make the Yankees in 1938 as a utility man, but played in just 27 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter. In 1939, he would make the most of an opportunity he desperately wanted, he just hated the way it happened.

Replacing Gehrig, Dahlgren hit a home run, a double off the top of the fence and two drives that were caught against the fence in a 22-2 rout over Detroit.

“I especially admired Gehrig because he was a first baseman like me,” Dahlgren told Newsday’s Joe Gergen in 1988. “I never dreamed one day I’d be in New York to take the man’s place.”

He would hit only .235 that year for the Yanks, but he would hit 15 home runs and drive in 89 runs batting seventh or eighth in a powerful lineup. In the World Series that year, Dahlgren would hit his only World Series home run, helping the Yankees sweep the Reds. The future looked bright for the 27-year old Dahlgren. Then he went home to San Francisco, and his life would never be the same.

According to the book, Bay Area legend Lefty O’Doul hated the fact the Joe McCarthy, and not he, was the manager of the New York Yankees. He was often telling anyone who would listen that “Ol’ Marse Joe” was a push-button manager and that “anyone could manage the Yankees”. An Associated Press photographer took a picture of Dahlgren receiving “batting tips” from O’Doul at an off-season workout (the reality was that they barely talked that day). Combine the cracks that O’Doul made that day to the media in attendance like, “The Yankees have to send me their players to learn how to hit.” was the killer. The Yankee manager may have been a legend, be he was also was a thin-skinned person, as well as a heavy drinker. Throw in the fact that the now-veteran first baseman was very well-liked by his teammates and the local press, there was the makings of a very bad situation.

Dahlgren had another solid year in 1940, hitting .263 / 12/ 73, and played a brilliant first base, but when the Yankees did not win the pennant. McCarthy seemed to blame Dahlgren, citing a key error down the stretch that cost the Yankees a ball game.

He was sent to the Boston Braves in 1941, was dealt midway in that season to the Cubs, where he really played well, hitting .263 / 23/ 89 for the season. While Dahlgren was having the best year of his career to date, McCarthy was telling the New York sportswriters – who all liked Dahlgren and thought he was a superb first baseman and were watching Johnny Sturm hit just .235 with no power and nowhere near the glove – that Dahlgren’s arms were too short to play first base.

Really.

The longer the season wore on, the longer it looked to the media like McCarthy must have had a personal beef with Dahlgren, and the writers pressed McCarthy on the trade. Now, remember, it was the 1941 season, and Joe DiMaggio was setting his magical streak and Ted Williams was hitting .406 for the Red Sox. Though sad he had left the Yankees, Dahlgren was happy in Chicago, playing well and finally getting the accolades he deserved.

Then, almost instantly, Dahlgren would spend the rest of his career as a talented and mysterious vagabond. In 1942, he would get traded from Chicago to St. Louis to Brooklyn (where Branch Rickey would accuse him of smoking marijuana, the first time Dahlgren would hear of the rumor) to Philadelphia (where he became an All-Star) to Pittsburgh (where he would drive in 101 runs and hit .289 in 1944) and finally back to St. Louis, where he would finally be discarded.

In the midst of the incredulous rumor, Dahlgren informed then-Commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis of the rumor, and the Judge, according to the book, paid all the expenses for what would prove to be a “clean” drug test for Dahlgren. But Landis and every subsequent Commissioner – up until his death in 1996 – failed to address Babe’s cause.

Dahlgren also died not knowing who had started the rumor. He had always assumed that it was Rickey, because of the way the situation had played out. It wasn’t until his grandson Matt, who wanted to write the manuscript that would become “Rumor in Town” (Babe’s original manuscript, as well as a letter from Landis proving the rumor existed, were lost in a fire at Babe’s home in 1980), that the origin of the rumor surfaced.

Dahlgren was doing research for his book when someone suggested that Marty Appel, arguably the preeminent Yankees historian, might be the person to provide stories about his father.

Appel told him about a conversation he had with New York Times sportswriter John Drebinger in 1973, recalling McCarthy talking to a small group of baseball insiders at the end of the 1940 season. Drebinger, Appel remembered, recalled that McCarthy was griping that he Yankees would have won the pennant in 1940 had it not been for an error that Dahlgren made in a late-season game against Cleveland. leveling a blow that all but ruin a man’s career;  “Dahlgren doesn’t screw up that play if he wasn’t a marijuana smoker.”

Tired of being made a fool for suggesting that the obviously proportionally limbed Dahlgren’s arms were more than long enough to play first, McCarthy decided to spread a rumor so incredible, so scandalous that few would ever repeat it. But someone did.

“Rumor in Town” might be a promise by a grandson to his grandfather to right a terrible wrong, but one would hope that it also motivate Major League Baseball or motivate the BBWAA to right a terrible injustice. To date, the case is one that MLB doesn’t feel needs to be reopened.. And that is a big a tragedy as was the rumor that cost Babe Dahlgren his career.

Travis Turning

TdABaseball prospects live in a world of comparables. I know how many tools Byron Buxton has, but is he the next Mike Trout? Sure, Archie Bradley throws a lot of strikeouts, but can he be the Diamondbacks’ Justin Verlander?

And what of Travis d’Arnaud, long ranked as the top catching prospect in baseball. Is he the next Buster Posey? Joe Mauer? Or is he more of a Russell Martin type? Or is he something more ominous altogether, a direct descendant on the lineage line of Jason Phillips, Josh Thole, and whoever else the Mets have tried to stick behind the dish in the last decade and make it work like Tim Gunn was breathing down their neck.

But then, an epiphany.

In the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s Cardinals-Mets game, a catcher made a game-saving, preposterously acrobatic stretch to tag out a runner at the plate, making a play with the kind of nimbleness most backstops wouldn’t dare to dream about. Of course, this was just another in a long line of mesmerizing plays turned by Yadier Molina, all-around catcher extraordinaire, preserving yet another heartbreaking loss for the gutless, guileless Mets.

That story, of course, is all too convenient and not quite the truth. Molina committed no such heroics (not on Wednesday night at least). The sparkling play in question was brought to you by d’Arnaud, whether the result of a fine relay throw by Ruben Tejada, d’Arnaud’s gift for defense at the plate, or some Freaky Friday scenario in which the howling Citi Field winds created some sort of skill transplant from Molina to the Mets’ young catcher.

The trademark play of d’Arnaud’s young career, refreshingly, cannot be rationalized by the supernatural, but is perhaps just another tangible stitch in the “As Good As Advertised” signpost d’Arnaud is striving to carry around with him as his major-league career takes off. And about those epiphanies and comparables: With his defensive prowess, game-calling savvy and propensity to some day (soon?) be a consistent hitter, is Travis d’Arnaud the second coming of Yadier Molina?

Not usually one to make knee-jerk, reactionary assessments, there was something particularly titillating about d’Arnaud making such a fine tag playing opposite the most accomplished defensive catcher in baseball. More symbolic than tangible, seeing the two sharing the same field for the first time allowed for a different perspective, one in which the throne of baseball’s Catching King was threatened, however infinitesimally, by the Mets’ usurper.

For d’Arnaud, much like it was for Molina, the name of the game is patience. (Well the name of the game is baseball, but look, I’m trying to make a point.) That Molina’s .246/.302/.348 slash across his first three full seasons (2005–07) didn’t jump off anyone’s page is well known. But Bengie and Jose’s youngest brother had the pedigree, the wherewithal behind the dish, and as Mets fans knew all too well, had the clutch bug, to earn himself a spot in the Cardinals’ long-term plans (not to mention a 10-year, $96 million contract).

It’s not time to issue d’Arnaud $100 million, but perhaps we should concede that defensively, he can soon hang with baseball’s top dogs. As for his bat, there’s nothing to suggest that he’s going to suddenly become a perennial .300 hitter of the Molina ilk, but it’s something to work on and have faith in, so long as his glove continues to be what it was in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game.

Unlike Juan Lagares, it’s not as easy as creating an OBP benchmark d’Arnaud must meet to justify keeping his glove in the lineup. As one of five outfielders, Lagares is relatively expendable, and as much as Anthony Recker has endeared himself early in this season, he is not a long-term everyday option should d’Arnaud not pan out. Molina’s offensive growing pains lasted over the better part of six seasons and while the offensively starved Mets can’t necessarily wait that long for d’Arnaud to be a consistent offensive contributor, that’s the reality of rearing a defense-first catcher.

Again, the good news is d’Arnaud is relatively polished behind the dish. By all accounts, he’s a fine pitch-framer, calls a good game, and can be the reassuring presence—by accounts tangible and intangible—that the Mets’ stable of young pitchers needs to thrive. If and when he becomes a nice hitter will hopefully come sooner rather than later, but it’s not hard to already find shades of Molina in the Mets’ catcher of the future.

And if he hits a dramatic, go-ahead home run in Game 7 of a near-future NLCS, well that wouldn’t hurt his case either.