Categorize this under “Deep Thoughts,” but it occurred to me a bit ago that the managers won’t really be the ones “empowered” — to use John Schuerholz’s word — under the proposed manager challenge replay system. In fact, they’re bound to be more pressured by it than empowered. It will be the players running it, actually.
How many times do you see this happen: close play, maybe a tag play or something. The player who has the call go against him, be it the base runner or the fielder, reacts immediately. He was right there and he knows he got boned on the call. He pleads for a minute. Sometimes that’s the end of it. Often times — maybe most of the time — the manager runs out onto the field to take over the argument.
Won’t that dictate when replay challenges are used? When the player pleads with the manager or is animated in his reaction at the wrong call? How does a manager go to the press after a game and answer the “why didn’t you go challenge the play your shortstop was arguing about?” question? How does he avoid having players feel undermined or not supported by their manager? Answer: he can’t. He has to challenge those plays whether he really saw some injustice or not. And he likely didn’t see it as good anyway, so why not give the benefit of the doubt to the guy on the field.
So let’s not call it a manager challenge. It’ll be, in practice, a player challenge, with managers feeling pressured and obligated into having their players’ backs. Just like most manager-umpire arguments now.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.