Does CC Sabathia "know how to win?"

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The Daily News’ John Harper and Joe Girardi play the Jack Morris card in regards to CC Sabathia:

Sabathia gave the Yankees something of a Jack Morris game Sunday night, at least by the pitch-count limits of today’s game, going 6-2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned. Along the way he had to overcome a couple of Robinson Cano errors, but most importantly, he held a lead from the third inning on, didn’t walk anyone, and threw 118 pitches to get the game to Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.

“I think the great pitchers know how to do that,” Joe Girardi said afterward. “The great ones don’t relinquish the lead. They know how to pitch to the score and win the game, and CC is one of those guys.”

Look, I love CC Sabathia, and even though he beat my Braves in Game 7 of 1991 and was kind of a jerk the one time I met him in person, I have a soft spot in my heart for Jack Morris because he was the ace of the team I loved when I was a little kid. But please, can’t we finally do away with the whole “knows how to win” and “pitches to the score” argument?  The notion that Jack Morris intentionally “pitched to the score” and had some preternatural ability to win that was separate and apart from his run support has been discredited multiple times (here’s one of the better examples).

Jack Morris was a good, not great pitcher who benefited from some very good offenses in Detroit in the 1980s.  Sabathia has been great, but for the most part this season has been merely good, and last night was a great example of it.  Solid. Professional. As always, tough.  But his win had way more to do with the five dingers the Yankees hit off of Josh Beckett than any sort of hoodoo or gumption he has that no one else has.

What kills me about the “he just knows how to win” line is that, as is the case here, it’s almost always uttered by writers and managers and people who are very big on talking about how teams, not individuals, win games.  Why then, can’t they acknowledge that when a pitcher wins a game with eight runs behind him, it has more to do with the team than with whatever winner’s magic he is supposed to possess?

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.