And That Happened: Monday’s playoff highlights

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Cardinals 12, Nationals 4: Just sayin’, teams that lose their starting pitchers early due to injuries are 2-0 this postseason. If I’m the Giants or the A’s tonight, I hope for Ryan Vogelsong and Brett Anderson to get hurt. The Cardinals blast the Nats, with two homers from Carlos Beltran. About whom, some guy from Long Island probably thinking right now, was merely trolling the Mets from 2005-2011.

Orioles 3, Yankees 2: If you’re a closer, it pays to have a short memory.  Random observation based on watching Jeter misplay a couple of balls during last night’s game and, for that matter, watching two decades of Yankees playoff games: Jeter could drive his car through a crowded school playground, mowing down three score students with multiple fatalities, and whoever is covering the story would talk about how, normally, he’s such a great driver. They’d then describe the tragedy in the passive voice with terms like “the car just went into the kids near the swing set, there. Tough break for Jeter, who normally does not commit multiple acts of vehicular homicide.”

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉