There has been a lot of heated talk about whether Wally Backman will be the bestest choice for Mets manager ever or whether he’ll sink the entire Mets franchise. I mean, I imagine it’s possible some people have taken the middle ground on this, but this is the Internet, so that’s practically impossible.
Enter J.C. Bradbury, who used all of that fancy book-learnin’ he picked up while becoming an economics professor to study the impact of major league managers. He has a new paper on it. Here’s a link to the whole thing. Here’s the abstract:
Sports teams frequently fire and hire managers when they experience losing. However, determining managerial responsibility for player performance is difficult to measure. This study examines how major-league baseball players perform under different managers and estimates that managers have little effect on performance. The study further investigates whether or not replacing managers serves as a signal to fans that the team is improving, which boosts attendance. The results indicate that new managers were associated with increased attendance in the 2000s; however, such effects were not present in the 1980s and 1990s.
Upshot: Wally Backman could put some extra butts in the seats at Citi Field. As for winning, however, Backman — if chosen — will do so if he’s given good players who stay healthy. He won’t if he’s given a bad or injury-riddled team.
And when it happens, either the Disciples of Wally or the foul mouthed Backman Bashers will claim that their view of the matter was vindicated.
Fans, and even some writers, tend to jump on umpires when they make bad calls, but rarely if ever point out when they make good calls on tough plays. Angel Hernandez is one of those umpires who gets a lot of flack — and I may suggest even deservedly so — but in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, he made a great call on a very tough play during Thursday afternoon’s game between the Phillies and Marlins.
With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Phillies leading 2-1, first baseman Brock Stassi laced an Edison Volquez pitch down the first base line. Michael Saunders, who was on first base, came around third base and attempted to score. The relay throw from second baseman Dee Gordon beat Saunders, but Saunders slid expertly to the back of home plate, avoiding the tag from catcher J.T. Realmuto just long enough to slip his hand in and touch the plate. Hernandez ruled Stassi safe with no hesitation because he was in a great position to get a look at the play. In real time, it was a bang-bang play. The Marlins didn’t challenge the call.
The MLB.com video doesn’t have the best angle, but still shows what a close call it was in real time. This .gif from Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal provides the best angle:
Hernandez also made this nonchalant grab when catcher Andrew Knapp tossed it attempting to catch a foul pop-up:
The Mets and Braves are playing today and it’s not a great day for the Mets in the injury department.
First they scratched Noah Syndergaard with a “tired arm.” Now they’ve lost Yoenis Cespedes, who pulled up limping at second base following a double in the bottom of the fourth:
The team has announced that he has pulled his left hamstring.
Cespedes, of course, missed three games over the weekend due to hamstring issues. That was merely tightness, however, and following an off day and a rainout, Cespedes played last night without incident. But it now looks as though he’s going to miss some serious time.