MLB Notebook: Rockies flight to Toronto under investigation by FAA, Yankees broadcaster John Sterling retires after 36 seasons, and more

Brett Holden
8 days ago

Rockies flight to Toronto under investigation by FAA

The Colorado Rockies have landed United Airlines in some hot water after a video went viral from their recent trip to Toronto.
The video showed assistant-hitting coach Hensley Meulens in the cockpit of the plane, in the pilot’s seat mid-flight. The Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines have now opened an investigation into the incident. 
Fellow assistant-hitting coach Andy González also walked into the cockpit when Meulens joked “I’m gonna land the plane tonight.” Meulens would make gestures toward a button on the aircraft’s control wheel and lean over to point at the altitude indicator. 
An administration spokesperson for the FAA states “Federal regulations restrict flight deck access to specific individuals;” United Airlines confirmed that Meulens was not granted authorization to enter the cockpit from the airline.
We’re deeply disturbed by what we see in that video, which appears to show an unauthorized person in the flight deck at cruise altitude while the autopilot was engaged.”
The pilots involved in the incident have been suspended by United. 
In March, the FAA announced it would be amplifying its oversight of United Airlines’ compliance with safety regulations. The examination stemmed from numerous safety incidents in the leading weeks to the announcement. Incidents included a wheel falling off a flight to Japan, a missing panel on a plane in Oregon, and an aircraft rolling into the runway grass in Texas. 
The Rockies have not commented on the situation at this time.

Yankees broadcaster John Sterling retires after 36 seasons

Long-time Yankees broadcaster, John Sterling is retiring from the booth. Sterling will be retiring immediately after 36 years behind the microphone in the Bronx. He will be stepping away from the game after concerns surrounding his health continue to rise. 
Calling his first game for the Yankees in 1989, Sterling would call 5,060 consecutive games until July 2019. In 2023, he missed time due to an unknown illness, but he only missed two games before his extraordinary run after his sister’s death.  
To Yankee fans, Sterling has been the voice of five World Series titles, seven American League pennants, every at-bat in Derek Jeter’s career, every inning of Mariano Rivera’s career, Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run, and basically every other special moment in New York Yankees history over the last three decades. 
Before moving to the Bronx, Sterling worked for a couple of other teams around the area, including the hockey team on Long Island, the New York Islanders. Starting with the hockey team in the early 1970s, when the team was named the Raiders and played in the WHA, Sterling would call hockey games on the Island until 1978. He also called games for the New Jersey/York Nets, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and the Baltimore Bullets.
Sterling has won plenty of awards throughout his career including 12 Emmy Awards, the 2001 Whitney Radio Jimmy Cannon Award, and the N.J. Sportswriters Association with its Radio-TV Excellence Award in 1999. 
His final game was an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on April 7th at Yankee Stadium where the Yanks would win their third straight series to start the year. There is nobody in place to take over Sterling’s spot as the new WFAN announcer, but there appear to be four potential candidates. Emmanuel Berbari and Justin Shackil have been already filling in the spot since Sterling’s retirement, but ESPN announcer Ryan Ruocco and Islanders play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke are also reportedly being considered. `
Ruocco currently calls NBA and WNBA games while also filling in numerous roles during Yankees broadcasts. 
As for Burke, on the day Sterling announced his retirement, Burke gave a nod to Sterling’s Islanders days with his iconic “GOAL! ISLANDERS GOAL! ISLANDERS GOAL!” 
In a tweet after the game, Burke said “John Sterling is one of the reasons I became a broadcaster. He will always be what baseball sounds like to me. Congratulations on a legendary career.”
While the moments of the future Yankees remain undecided, the memories Sterling narrated will last forever.

Quick Notes:

  • Jack Leiter gets smacked up in his MLB debut. After a scoreless first inning striking out two batters, Leiter allowed four runs in the second inning and three more in the fourth, Leiter would lose his MLB start for the Texas Rangers on Thursday. 
  • Dodgers No. 3 prospect, Andy Pages, makes MLB debut. Pages, who has been raking in the minor leagues this year with five home runs in 15 games, made his Major League debut this week against the Washington Nationals. Pages went 1-4 in his debut, striking out twice.
  • Houston Astros expected to call up former top prospect, Forrest Whitley. The former first-round pick will receive his first big league call-up after a rash of injuries and a 50-game suspension derailed his development. He is expected to be placed in a bullpen role upon his arrival.
  • Seiya Suzuki hits the Injured List. Suzuki was placed on the IL after he strained his right oblique in a game against the Diamondbacks. He is expected to miss several weeks with the injury.
  • Aroldis Chapman has been suspended for one game after an ‘inappropriate action’ with an umpire. Chapman was tossed in a game against the Mets on Thursday after saying something into his glove toward umpire Edwin Moscoso. The suspension was reduced from its original two games after an appeal from Chapman.

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