The Mets are willing to try anything — and I mean anything — change their losing ways. Even if they have to blame inanimate objects for their bad luck.
Prior to Thursday’s game against the Astros, the Mets destroyed “Stanley,” a black and yellow rolling toolbox that had become the bullpen’s mascot. It held some of the essentials (and non-essentials) such as candy, medical supplies, fingernail clippers, Krazy Glue and miscellaneous toys.
It would be one thing if this was just some superstitious act by the players and coaches, but as David Waldstein of the New York Times explains, the directive came from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, who is in charge of daily operations for the team.
After watching the Mets lose 12 of 14 games and fall to the worst record in baseball, and with everyone on the team searching for real or symbolic methods to change the fortunes, Wilpon issued a simple decree: “Get rid of Stanley.”
Wilpon gave his order to Dan Warthen, the pitching coach. So, on Thursday afternoon, Warthen asked every player and coach to donate an article of clothing or piece of equipment to place inside Stanley as a sacrifice. Most obliged, and then, as in a scene out of a movie, Stanley was taken into a back room before the game and ceremonially obliterated with bats.
“Stanley” has been replaced by a pink backpack, which is being worn by rookie right-hander Pedro Beato.
Correlation doesn’t imply causation here, but hey, whatever works, right? The Mets have now won consecutive games for the first time since the first week of the season.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.