Heck, I'm not even mad, that's amazing

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In case you missed Friday night’s wildly entertaining, exciting and
ultimately infamous Mets-Yankees game, here are a few things you should
know:

… Robinson Cano hit one over the ridiculously short porch in right
center to open the scoring, but to be fair, it was a legit homer. More
on this later …

… Joba Chamberlain only allowed one hit and two runs. Unfortunately,
he also walked five, hit two, and lasted a mere four innings. Before
the game, a buddy of mine was furious over the previous night’s
disaster in Boston, and sarcastically noted that at least the Yanks’
eighth inning guy was resting up to throw five mediocre innings the
next night. One short pal …

… Keith Hernandez was absolutely on fire, describing an ugly third
inning by Joba as “like watching A ball.” Later, after Gary Sheffield
questioned a called strike on the inside corner, Hernandez said “That’s
the old Derek Jeter move, who never saw an inside fastball he didn’t
think was a ball” …

… Speaking of Sheff, he momentarily time-warped back to 2002,
crushing a hanging curve from Brett Tomko for a three-run homer. It was
one of those rising line drives hit so hard down the line it didn’t
have a chance to go foul. And Sheff wasn’t even halfway to first by the
time the camera cut back to him after it landed in the seats, clearly
milking the moment …

… That homer gave us a great trivia question: name the four players
who hit homers for the Yankees against the Mets AND for the Mets
against the Yankees. Answer: Sheffield, Robin Ventura, Tony Clark, and
Miguel Cairo (!) …

… Continuing a brutal week in the field, Nick Swisher Lupused a
Carlos Beltran line drive that was the catalyst for a four-run rally …

… Trailing 6-3, Jeter hit a fly ball to right-center that probably
traveled about 360 feet. But since this was at The Cathedral They Call
Yankee Stadium (man I despise Michael Kay), the ball landed four rows
deep. REALLY glad we didn’t have to hear John Sterling give his “El
Capitan!” …

… So with the Mets leading 6-4 in the sixth, Livan Hernandez ran out
of gas. And naturally, with the tying runs on base, Jerry Manuel
brought in Jon Switzer, who had been called up from triple-A about
three hours earlier and was now making his debut. What Manuel did was
put this kid in the best possible situation to succeed, only the exact
opposite. In the coming years, I’m sure Switzer will be able to laugh
about giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to Hideki Matsui, the first
major league batter he ever faced. Just not now …

… Because their best setup guy had just thrown four mediocre innings
a couple hours earlier, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera with two
outs in the eighth to face Beltran. Incredibly, Rivera walked only his
third batter of the year. Then, with Beltran running, David Wright
ripped an opposite field double that put the Mets in front. See, Mike
Francesa, he is clutch …

… Now it’s the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez is on the
mound, and he has not blown a save yet this year. Of course, Mets fans
are terrified and assume that number one is about to happen, because
they’re getting flashbacks to all those closers who blew games against
the Yanks: Armando Benitez (at least three, including Game 1 in the
2000 World Series), John Franco (just threw up in my mouth), Billy
Wagner (four run lead in 2006!), and Braden Looper (I’m assuming) …

… Brett Gardner popped up to lead off, and Omir Santos caught it.
This seemed like a mundane feat at the time. Then Jeter singled up the
middle, and Johnny Damon pinch hit for Swisher. On a 3-2 count, K-Rod
threw a hellacious changeup that Damon swung through, but Jeter stole
second on the play. K-Rod wisely unintentionally intentionally walked
Mark Teixeira (who hit one in the third that probably still hasn’t
landed yet) and now Alex Rodriguez is up. And I’m only worried because
K-Rod likes to throws a ton of curveballs, and A-Rod probably has a
better chance of hitting that than his fastball …

… And A-Rod pops up a 94 mph fastball on a 3-1 count! Luis Castillo
is under it! No, wait, he’s drifting. And drifting. And drifting. And
just when he appears to be under it, he uses ONE HAND to try and catch
it. The ball pops out. Castillo stumbles to the ground. Then, almost as
egregiously as muffing the pop-up, HE THROWS TO SECOND BASE! WHY??
Teixeira, who clearly hustled the entire way, scored behind Jeter for
the winning run. 9-8 Yanks. K-Rod gets credited with a blown save and a
loss. Castillo really wishes he were somewhere else, and frankly, so do
Mets fans. Like, for good …

… Some beautiful replays: A-Rod, slamming the bat down, looking
crushed as he jogs to first, then eyes bulging as he sees the drop and
realizes he should start running hard, then shocked elation, probably
more so because he won’t have to deal with everyone calling him a
choker than the fact his team just won; Manuel, poker-faced as the ball
is hit into the air, and Sandy Alomar slides into the shot next to him,
ready for the postgame handshake, only to mouth a stunned “Oh s***” as
he sees the disaster that unfolds; and poor K-Rod, who simply put his
hands on his head in disbelief. Welcome to the Mets, Frankie! …

… Strange as it sounds, the ending to the game was so absurd, I’m
not as upset as you’d think a Mets fan might be (can’t speak for
everyone, of course), and this one will probably sting a lot more when
they’re a game out in September and you think back to all those ones
that got away. But right now, for me, it’s like that Ron Burgundy line:
“You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate an entire wheel of cheese?
How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.”

Dusty Baker calls the Nationals “a baby making team.” Whatever that means.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 31: Manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Washington Nationals looks on before the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 31, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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When the Nationals fired Matt Williams a year ago, it might’ve been a safe assumption that they were going to go with that new breed of young, handsome recently-retired player-turned-manager who, despite a lack of experience, allegedly knows how to deal with modern players better and knows how to handle a clubhouse. Those assumptions have proved largely off with these guys — Williams was a disaster, Matheny wins despite himself and Ausmus looks like he’s perpetually on the verge of a breakdown — but that’s the all the rage these days anyway.

Instead, the Nats hired Dusty Baker. Though Baker had tremendous success as a manager everywhere he went, he was maligned by some for some pitcher handling stuff in Chicago (which said pitchers have long denied was an issue, but let’s let that lie). He was also, more generally, thought of as a “retread.” Which is what people who prefer younger folks for jobs tend to call older people, even if the older people know what they’re doing.

And yes, I will cop to thinking about managers that way a lot over the years, so I’m not absolving myself at all here, even if I was pretty OK with the Dusty Baker hiring. I’ve evolved on this point. In no small part because of how Dusty Baker has done in Washington. Flash forward a year, the Nats are division champions and Baker may be a top candidate for Manager of the Year. That, in and of itself, should show you how wrong the haters were.

But if it doesn’t, this sure should:

I have no earthly idea what that means and Castillo gives no further context. All I know is that it sounds cool as hell and of any current manager, only Dusty Baker could say that and pull it off.

Because he’s Dusty Baker and has nothing to prove to you. And if you don’t like it, shoot, he’ll just go back home to his winery or whatever and live out the rest of his days being cooler than you.

Who should win the manager of the year awards? Who Will?

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15:  Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dougout during the seventh inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year Award is pretty dumb. Numbers aren’t everything in any award, but there are literally zero numbers that gauge a manager’s effectiveness or performance apart from wins and losses and wins and losses are mostly a function of talent on the roster, for which the manager is not responsible. This is not to say managers aren’t important. Of course they are! They make important decisions every day and keep the clubhouse running smoothly and that’s important. It just so happens to be unquantifiable and subject to anecdote and projection.

For instance, Matt Williams won the Manager of the Year Award with he Nationals in 2014. He was run out of town on a rail in 2015. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Or did he never really know but was blessed with good fortune and better players the year before?

Joe Maddon won the award last year, in large part because the Cubs outperformed expectations. This year the Cubs are the best team around. But everyone expected them to be because of all that talent! Does that mean that Maddon’s 2015 award was fraudulent? The product of poor expectations assessment on behalf of the media? At the same time, there’s a pretty strong vibe that he won’t win it this year, so are we to say that winning between 101 and 104 games is . . . a worse job than last year? Don’t even get me started on arguments that Bruce Bochy somehow became a lesser manager this year, because I suspect — and bear with me on this — something else is going on with the Giants.

Manager of the Year has always been about narratives and expectations of people on the outside looking in who nonetheless purport to know how the manager performed his job in the most inside baseball kinds of ways. It’s poppycock. It may as well be the Golden Globes.

So, rather than just break it down the way we did the other awards, let’s just thrown this out like the big mess that it is:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Bill and Ashley say that Terry Francona should be the American League Manager of the Year. Bill’s reasoning: “The Indians went essentially the whole year without Michael Brantley and their pitching staff imploded in September. Francona deserves a lot of credit for holding the team together.”

Hey, works for me too! Let’s give it to Tito. Even if we can tell a compelling story about John Farrell and the Red Sox and even if Jeff Banister, the reigning AL Manager of the Year, improved by anywhere from 6-9 games in the standings this year over last in a division most people thought the Astros would win.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Bill says Dusty Baker, arguing that “The Nationals had all kinds of bullpen issues and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t able to pitch the final two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker.”

Ashley says Dave Roberts. She didn’t give me her reasoning, but I bet she’d agree with me if I said “The Nationals Dodgers had all kinds of bullpen rotation issues and Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw wasn’t able to pitch for two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker Roberts.” You could throw in some stuff about how Yasiel Puig was managed by Roberts (i.e. better, though his come-to-Jesus demotion may have been the front office’s doing). I think I’ll go with Roberts, simply because I feel like it’d be bad precedent to give it to a Nationals manager every even numbered year simply because that dang franchise is inconsistent.

What about the Cubs? Here’s Bill again:

I considered Joe Maddon of the Cubs, but the team was so good I think the Cubs could’ve had a kitten manage the team to a playoff berth.

I say we give it to a kitten. Kittens are the best.