We’ve taken many a shot at T.J. Simers over the years. And for good reason, as he’s taken many a shot — often extremely cheap shots — at ballplayers. It’s his shtick and he often does it with a wink, but it wears way, way worse when he’s using that shtick to attack undeserving targets like Marcus Thames than when he’s speaking Truth to Power or whatever it is he’s often credited with doing by his fans.
But whether you love Simers or love to hate him, you may not have him to kick around anymore. He’s been absent from the pages of the L.A. Times for pushing three months now and Mark Heisler writes today that Simers is likely on his way out.
The reason on the surface, the column notes, could be an ethical issue in which he based a column on his daughter and Dwight Howard having a free-throw contest days before it was announced that a TV comedy revolving around Simers and his daughter was in the works. The column goes on to suspect, however, that there may be deeper issues at play here in that Simers has a history of butting heads with the increasingly annoying L.A. Times hierarchy.
Heisler — who worked with Simers at the Times for years and provides all kinds of delicious backstory for those of you who like newspaper politics — uses the Simers story to launch into some thoughts about Simers’ role and the role of newspapers in today’s new media age. For all the interesting backstory, I think Heisler’s views about what Simers specifically and newspapers in general mean in the grand scheme of things are a bit anachronistic. Maybe newspapers are now being run by shortsighted, bottom-line-obsessed micromanagers and maybe that is a shame (I think it probably is). But to suggest that Simers’ departure is illustrative of the evolution of media is wrong. Great newspapermen from the past would’ve been just as wise to kick him to the curb as the empty suits are today.
To put it another way: maybe Simers is being pushed out for the wrong reasons, but it certainly is the right thing.
John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.
Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.
Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.
The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.
The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.
Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.
And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.
Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.
It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.
Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.
Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.
The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.
40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.