Detroit Tigers baserunner Cabrera is out at home plate as Texas Rangers catcher Napoli makes the tag in the eighth inning in Game 4 in their MLB American League Championship Series baseball playoffs in Detroit

All kinds of ugly: Miguel Cabrera getting thrown out at home last night


Can we just pretend the bottom of the eighth inning in last night’s Tigers-Rangers game didn’t happen?

For those of you who missed it, with one out, Miguel Cabrera came up to bat.  For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Ron Washington had, to that point, been pitching to Cabrera with men on base, getting burned for it on a couple of occasions.  With no one on base, however, Washington figured it was time to intentionally walk the guy. Um, OK. You don’t see that very often — someone tweeted last night that it was only the 10th time in playoff history that a guy was given a free pass with no one on base — but I can understand Washington’s thought process.

Next up was Victor Martinez, and he immediately made Washington’s move look bad, singling to right. Cabrera made it to third base as fast as his big legs could carry him. Which is to say not very fast, but he got there, finishing off his run with a slide that made me cringe a little.  Let’s call it foreshadowing.

Then comes Delmon Young who, because of a combination of (a) his oblique injury; and (b) being Delmon Young, had looked awful at the plate thus far. Mike Adams, however, gave him two pitches in the strike zone for some reason, the first one he fouled off and the second one he lofted to mid-right field where Nelson Cruz caught it and — because Cabrera was tagging up — prepared to throw.  Now would be a good time to put on some mood music.

Does any one know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours? The searches all say he’d have been safe on the play if they’d he’d put fifteen more feet behind him…

OK, enough of that. And I don’t know that fifteen feet would have helped.  I’ll grant that, yes, it was a great throw by Nelson Cruz that nailed Cabrera and given Mike Napoli’s failure to hold on to a ball while getting barreled over by someone as tiny as Sean Rodriguez in the ALDS, there was a decent shot he’d lost it when hit by the Mack truck that is Miguel Cabrera.

But it’s a fact that Cabrera’s “running” on the play has been classified as a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Fox executives have been arrested for showing it in slow motion the next inning, which only compounded the crime. It’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my days.

Perhaps I’ve overstated things. I suppose I’ve seen worse gambles than Gene Lamont’s gamble of sending Cabrera — a man who apparently considers salads and road work to be his mortal enemy — against one of the best right field arms in the game.  I just can’t remember one in such a critical situation that ended up looking as bad as that one and looming as large.

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?

Masahiro Tanaka

The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.

Collin McHugh will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Astros

Collin McHugh Astros
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After using ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel to get past the Yankees in the Wild Card game the Astros will turn to right-hander Collin McHugh in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Royals.

McHugh had an up-and-down year, posting a 3.89 ERA compared to his 2.73 mark last season, but thanks to good teammate support he had a 19-7 record and his 171/53 K/BB ratio in 204 innings was solid. He was particularly good down the stretch, posting a 2.89 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after August 1.

McHugh will match up against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in Game 1. Houston hasn’t named a starter for Game 2 yet, while Kansas City is going with Johnny Cueto. And then the Game 3 matchup figures to be Dallas Keuchel versus Edinson Volquez.