St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

Shocker: the Cardinals think the Dodgers celebrate too much


Sometimes baseball players are criticized for not appreciating that they get paid a lot of money to play a kids’ game. Sometimes they are criticized for realizing that they’re playing a kids’ game and acting accordingly. Just can’t win!

That was the case with the Dodgers last night anyway. First, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and was pumped up about it, gesturing enthusiastically to his teammates in the Dodgers dugout. Then, later, Yasiel Puig tripled and — because his depth perception was off and because he’s faster than hell — he (a) celebrated what he thought was a homer out of the box; and (b) celebrated what actually turned out to be a triple when he got to third:

Not surprisingly the Cardinals who, with the Braves out of the playoffs, are the ranking active Fun Police, took issue. First Adam Wainwright on Gonzalez’s enthusiasm:

“I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff on third base, but I didn’t see what Yasiel did. Those guys are fired up. This is playoff baseball, they want it over there.”

Translation: it’s OK to be pumped, but you should be pumped in a particular way or else it’s “Mickey Mouse.”  Here’s Carlos Beltran on Puig:

“I think he doesn’t know,” Beltran said. “He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else, I don’t know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time, he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm … It’s not great, I don’t like it, but what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here and need to do my job.”

My view: Gonzalez wasn’t taunting anyone. He directed nothing at the Cardinals. He was fired up and was trying to fire up his teammates. Not sure how anyone can call that “Mickey Mouse.” Heck, until recently I thought the knock on Gonzalez was that he lacked fire and was dour. Again, can’t win.

Puig? Puig is, well, Puig. And while I can imagine you don’t like it if he’s doing that against your team, I can’t see how anyone can watch that guy and not smile. He’s enjoying himself. Yes, the game will humble him — until yesterday it had been pretty well in recent days — but there’s nothing wrong with being pumped up and enthused. And it is enthusiasm. It’s spontaneous. It’s not like he’s choreographing moves out there.

Don’t want those guys doing that stuff? Keep ’em off base. That shuts everyone up.

John Lackey to start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Cardinals

John Lackey
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St. Louis has decided on John Lackey as the Game 1 starter in the NLDS versus the winner of tonight’s Wild Card game, manager Mike Matheny announced.

Lackey led the Cardinals in starts (33) and innings (218) this season while posting a 2.77 ERA and 175/53 K/BB ratio with 21 homers allowed.

Carlos Martinez being out for the playoffs with a shoulder injury took a big rotation option away from Matheny, but Lackey has a 3.10 ERA in 43 starts since joining the Cardinals in mid-2014 and also has a 3.08 ERA in 117 career postseason innings.

He’ll face either the Cubs or the Pirates, in St. Louis. No word yet on the order, but Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Jaime Garcia figure to follow Lackey in the rotation.

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?

Masahiro Tanaka

The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.