I assume I was aware of this when the new playoff formats were announced, but if so I totally forgot about it. From Buster Olney:
The wild-card games will be conducted under circumstances we’ve never seen before in the postseason. The participating teams will set 25-man rosters for this one-game, winner-take-all extravaganza — rosters that don’t have to carry over to the Division series matchup. So the Braves and the other wild-card entrants don’t have to carry multiple starting pitchers.
Just more distortion from a setup that already distorts all that is important in baseball: depth, stamina and the ability to win a majority of games as opposed to EVERY GAME MATTERING like it does in other sports.
It’s quite possible that we’ll have a wild card games with starters going three innings, followed by seven relievers used over the course of the next six innings with every quasi-critical situation leading to some matchup-optimizing pitching change. All of the anti-excitement of an All-Star Game except the outcome matters way more.
Why on earth are the rules this way? If the wild card game is the playoffs, why aren’t teams required to use their postseason rosters? This makes zero sense to me and just underscores how contrived the play-in game is.
Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.
Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:
Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.