Joe Torre and Jim Tracy: a study in contrasts

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Joe Torre, Dodgers Manager:

If the Dodgers aren’t still sitting atop the National League West
one month from now, it won’t be the fault of the pitching, the offense
or even the defense. No matter what happens between now and then, if
the team isn’t in first place, go ahead and blame manager Joe Torre. He
won’t mind. Really.

With an 8 -game lead in the division heading into play Monday, as
well as the best record in baseball, the Dodgers are in good shape at
the start of June. And when July arrives, the roster will get a boost
with the return of Manny Ramirez. So Torre went ahead Monday and said
that if Ramirez doesn’t return to a first-place club, then the manager
should be blamed.

“I don’t know how many we’ll be ahead, but you’re right, if anything goes bad I screwed up, no question,” Torre said.

Jim Tracy, Rockies Manager:

One of the charges against Tracy in Pittsburgh was that he took too
much credit when the team won and blamed the players too much when the
Pirates lost. After the game Sunday, Tracy blamed his starter Jorge De
La Rosa for not pitching properly to Gonzalez when he had an 0-2 count,
allowing the Padres slugger to homer. Gonzalez wouldn’t have homered if
he were standing on first base . . .

. . . Tracy then blamed his pinch-hitter Smith for not hitting
properly when he had a 3-2 count. According to Tracy, the Rockies
cannot “do any hitting with the bat on their shoulder.”

All in all, I think the Dodgers are better off now than they were four years ago.

(links via BTF)

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.