Lou Piniella has apparently decided it’s a good idea to publicly address his critics.
Last week he voiced displeasure about Ken Rosenthal suggesting the Cubs should fire him, calling the FOXSports.com writer “my little buddy.” Today he sharpened the knives a bit, lashing out at White Sox announcer Steve Stone for criticizing moves the Cubs’ manager has made.
Some of the highlights:
We’ve got a lot of people here that haven’t managed and won any games in the big leagues, but they know everything. You know? They really do. I think they should try to put the uniform on and try this job and see how they like it when they get criticized unjustly. That’s all I’ve got to say about that issue. But you get tired of it. I’m trying to do the best job I possibly can and the only people I need to listen to are the people in my organization, that’s it.
I get tired of being nitpicked and tired of being criticized unjustly. Why don’t they talk to me first before they do it, OK, and get my viewpoints and my feelings and then make a determination. … I won over 1,800 games as a manager and I’m not a damn dummy, that I can tell you. There are only 13 other [managers] that have won more games than me. I guess I think I know what the hell I’m doing. …
And Steve Stone? He’s got enough problems doing what he does with the White Sox. What job has he had in baseball besides talking on television or radio? What has he done? Why isn’t he a farm director and bring some kids around? Why isn’t he a general manager, and put the uniform on and been a pitching coach? Why hasn’t he been a field manager. There’s 30 teams out there that could use a guy’s expertise like that. I’m tired of some of these guys, I really am.
Piniella echoes a common refrain among those with prominent jobs who’re being criticized, which is that people aren’t qualified to criticize them unless they’ve done the same job. Which is, of course, bollocks. Whether or not Stone’s criticisms are worth listening to is certainly up for debate, but they’re legitimate for the same reason someone can criticize a chef without being an expert cook themselves or criticize a movie without having experience as a director.
Beyond that, Piniella repeatedly called out Stone for not speaking to him directly, saying stuff like “why don’t they talk to me first?” and “at least give me the courtesy of defending myself and giving my explanations on why things are done or not done” because “that’s only fair.” However, when asked if he made an effort to speak to Stone before going public with his criticisms, Piniella replied: “I don’t care about talking to him. I’m talking to you for them.”
Being criticized can be a very tough thing, but having to deal with it is part of why Piniella gets paid millions of dollars to do his job. The next time he has a bad meal or sees a terrible movie or hears an annoying song, I wonder if he’ll avoid voicing criticism because, after all, if he’s never done those jobs himself who is he to say anything? Stone has never managed in the big leagues, but he was a Cy Young-winning pitcher who spent 11 seasons in the majors and has been announcing games for three decades. If he’s not allowed to criticize, what chance do the rest of us have?
UPDATE: Here’s the video of Piniella going off on Stone.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.