Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants

One of the more insulting columns you’ll read this season


T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times has a shtick. He’s used it over and over again.  It’s this: insult, bait and pester a given Dodgers or Angels player and hope against hope that they’ll spout off in anger so that he can print a juicy quote and follow it up with his “man, what’s his problem?” rebop.  Even better, they say nothing, so he can call the guy standoffish or aloof or whatever.  I think Simers has his charms at times, but this bit is tired and offensive and has been for years.

But at least most of the time he uses it against a big star like Manny Ramirez or Torii Hunter who, while it’s no more fair to them, is at least something their time in the spotlight has conditioned them to handle. What gives with today’s broadside against Marcus Thames, though? Simers starts off by calling him a no-name and a head case. He makes fun of his surname. He calls him a stiff. And that was before he had even spoken with him. This was how Simers introduced himself, referring to Thames’ limited playing time over the years:

“Are you that horrible on defense that teams don’t think it’s worth playing such a home run threat?” I asked by way of introduction.

And it just goes on and on like that, with Simers ripping Thames — who wisely smiled politely but did not respond to the bait — and then ripping Don Mattingly who tried to explain to Simers that, you know, Thames is on the team for his bat and that he’s a platoon player. Simers’ response:

So now we understand the Dodgers have a guy in left who can’t catch, can’t hit right-handed pitchers and can’t answer questions about his obvious shortcomings.

And team P.R. people are worried about allowing bloggers to have press passes because of concerns about decorum? Mercy.

Attention Los Angeles Times sports page: I was concerned that you’d never do anything to bring more embarrassment upon yourself than to feature Bleacher Report boobie slideshows next to the content of your paid writing staff, but at the moment I’m struggling to see how continuing to allow Simers to pull this low-rent garbage is much better.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
Leave a comment

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Leave a comment

After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.