Jeff Passan has a great piece up about how teams are looking for “winners.” Or at least players perceived to be “winners.” Players like the ones who propelled the San Francisco Giants to two World Series titles in the past three seasons and who, as a result, are now in demand regardless of whether or not there is any empirical basis for calling them that.
Passan’s case study is the Kansas City Royals. His example on the Royals: Jeff Francouer. “Jeff Francouer is a winner,” Dayton Moore tells Passan. And then Passan demonstrates just how not a winner Jeff Francoeur is by any reasonable definition of the term. Read it: it’s genius. You’ll think my slamming Francouer over the past several years is tame by comparison. Yet Passan says nothing that is not demonstrably true.
Chemistry. Juju. Mojo. Leadership. Call it whatever you want, but as Passan observes in this wonderful piece, it seems to be what teams are looking for these days.
And even if you don’t care about any of that stuff, you gotta read it for the lede about Ned Yost at Starbucks, which is absolutely priceless.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.