When Jason Marquis signed with the Nats he had a lot to say about bringing a winning attitude to Washington and mentoring the youngins. That apparently wasn’t just a function of post-deal euphoria, because he’s still bringing the rah-rah. Asked whether the Nats’ many moves this offseason translate to, say, a .500 record, Marquis wasn’t having any of it:
“No, I don’t see why we can’t shoot for the stars. Why do you want to
limit yourself to 81 wins? Why do I want to limit myself to 15 wins? If
I am taking the ball 34 times, I should win 34 times. We step on the
field 162 times, we should win 162 times. You shouldn’t say ‘let’s win
81 games’ than you putting a number (on it) and you are satisfied with
81 wins. I don’t think you should ever be satisfied.”
I’m torn. On the one hand I hate it when ballplayers talk in those Bull-Durhamesque “I just want to help the ballclub” platitudes, but I also don’t like it when someone comes with the “defeat is not an option/victory is certain/give 110%” rebop either.
I’m not faulting Marquis here — I think he went with the better of the two tacks, and it’s nice to hear optimism in NatsLand, because their fans deserve some of it by now — but I think exchanges like these show the limits of what we can learn from people in the media talking to the guys who throw the baseball.
“Yes, Byron, I think we’ll win 86 games, but will fall out of the wild card race in September when Elijah Dukes develops plantar fasciitis on his plant foot.”
What else can he say?
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.