The Cubs trailed the Brewers by one run in the ninth inning yesterday and they got their leadoff man — Marlon Byrd — on base. And then, with a powerful hitter who had already stroked three doubles on the day at the plate, Byrd was … caught stealing.
Strange play to say the least. Who steals in that situation? So, naturally, the Chicago sporting press asked Byrd about it in the clubhouse after the game:
“Done,” he said. “Beat it. I respect you guys all the time, and we lose a close game like that and that’s the question you ask? Forget it. Beat it.”
What did he expect to be asked? Allmans vs. Skynyrd?
To be fair to Byrd, he was in a tough spot. Before he told everyone to beat it he reluctantly and obliquely confirmed that he was given the steal sign by third base coach Ivan DeJesus. For his part, manager Mike Quade said that he didn’t put the steal sign on — or at least didn’t think he did — which could be a way of also suggesting that it was DeJesus who gave the sign. It’s entirely possible that DeJesus screwed up and neither his boss nor the player wanted to throw him under the bus. Whatever the case, Byrd is a standup guy who probably would have said so if he was out there freelancing.
All of which, by the way, makes me wonder how this plays out if Mark Cuban’s vision of the future comes to pass and there aren’t any reporters in the clubhouse asking uncomfortable questions. I assume nothing is said by team-controlled media, in which case all of us on the outside are left to assume that either Quade made a boneheaded move or Byrd was trying to spark something, however misguided it was. Then later, Cuban or someone in his position posts something about how everyone’s out to get his guys.
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.