Manny Ramirez

Scott Miller on Manny Ramirez’s presence on the Oakland A’s: “unconscionable”


Last week Scott Miller of CBS made a series of tweets excoriating the Athletics for signing Manny Ramirez. He called the move “reprehensible” and said it was evidence that we lived in a “twisted world.”  He then promised to tear Manny and the A’s a new one when he visited their camp in Phoenix and wrote about him. It was not the typical thing you see from an experienced reporter and columnist.

After I wrote a post about that I had an email exchange with Miller. It was very pleasant, as Miller is an extremely polite and pleasant man. Not just my opinion, by the way. Others I know who have met him or corresponded with him have said the same thing and I have no doubt about it. Anyway, we didn’t come to any grand agreement in the exchange apart from us both agreeing that Twitter is odd.

Miller did say, however, that when he did meet Ramirez at A’s camp that he would give the story a fair shake, listen to what he had to say and what the A’s had to say about it all and that his resulting column would not be based exclusively on preconceived notions and his first, somewhat intemperate reaction to the Ramirez signing.

Well, Miller’s column is up, and it seems that Manny didn’t do anything to change his mind.

Indeed, Miller’s reaction was the same, if not even more extreme regarding the morals and ethics of signing Ramirez.  It’s “unconscionable,” Miller says. He concludes his story by saying “Right is right, and wrong is wrong. And this is wrong from every angle.”

Except there’s nothing in the story, complete with an interview with Ramirez, which explains why Miller feels this way apart from the fact that Manny has, in the past, been a serial jackass. Ramirez talks at length about how he has found religion and how it has set him straight (and, implicitly, how the way he behaved before was wrong).  He talks about a fresh start and trying to do right.  In the course of the interview, Ramirez is delivered flowers from “someone in Boston” — where Ramirez is supposed to be hated, if you believe the anti-Manny crowd — and Miller disapproves.

One anonymous player — and it’s not clear if it’s an A’s player, but I’ll assume it is — disapproves of Manny’s past transgressions. Those on the record have no problem with it. There is no information presented or argument made in the article that this is a bad move for the A’s financially or competitively. The entirety of Miller’s disapproval of Manny Ramirez  on the Oakland A’s is that he’s Manny Ramirez.

Which is fine. It’s Miller’s column and Miller’s opinion. But I just don’t see what, based on the nature of all of the men who have played before Manny Ramirez and still play this game despite being less-than-savory characters, makes the A’s signing of Ramirez so much worse than any number of other signings. Josh Leuke pled no contest to false imprisonment with violence after being charged with rape (and lied to the police and the Seattle Mariners about it).  Brett Myers punched his wife. There are a bunch of players, coaches and executives who have been arrested for drunk driving. These are all far worse things than testing positive for PEDs.

So why is Ramirez so bad? What is it about him that sets Miller — and others, I’ll grant — off when it comes to him?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know why Manny is such a lightning rod compared to others who have screwed up and annoyed us.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.