Crols Gomez Brian McCann

A curious definition of “old school”

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Dave O’Brien’s column about the McCann-Gomez thing is kinda hilarious. It extolls Brian McCann’s “old school” mentality of getting up in Gomez’s face. He then added this:

I heard Billy Wagner interviewed on the radio today, and he was asked about what happened. Wagner said if it had happened when he played for the Astros, Gomez wouldn’t have made it past first base because Jeff Bagwell would have started a fight with him.

Old school.

Note: Jeff Bagwell never fought a guy on the basepaths in his entire career. And O’Brien admits that he’s never seen a catcher do what McCann did. Query: how is something “old school” if it’s totally unprecedented? He goes on:

In the past, no hitter would have pulled that stunt against the likes of Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez … against any hard-throwing pitcher or a team with a hard-throwing pitcher going the next day. Because he’d have gotten a fastball in the ribs as a message, and wouldn’t get tossed because umpires would not have given warnings beforehand

Again, a path not taken by McCann and the Braves. I don’t condone beanings, but at least that would’ve been an old school move. You wouldn’t have seen John Roseboro blocking the baseline. He’d let Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale handle it. McCann didn’t give his pitcher a chance to be “old school.”

Wait, there’s more!

By the way, can you even imagine if Chipper had done something like that at third base late in his career, when he was in full-on icon mode and seemingly every week provided a new moment to remember from him? They’d have made posters of that moment.

But he never did it either. He let Maddux and Smoltz and those guys hit people. Or he would’ve just gone and rapped a double off the wall the next inning and been happy to laugh at an immature jerk playing for a fourth place team 22 games out of first while he was on his way to the playoffs for the tenth year in a row.

You see where I’m going with this. There was nothing old school about what McCann did. You can like it if you want. You can say it was evidence of a mindset you like. But it wasn’t old school. McCann was not upholding some grand tradition. He was just being a hothead.

But there is one “old school” element to all of this. It’s totally old school for a beat writer to praise the guys he needs to get quotes from, no matter how disingenuous he has to be in order to do it. That’s just about as old as the game itself.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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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 isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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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.