Buster Olney cast aspersions on Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista took offense. Now Olney fires back in his column. After quoting Bautista’s comments about how Melky has done the crime and the time and should be allowed to get on with his life, and after quoting Richard Griffith’s argument that Cabrera is not a poster boy for cheating being worthwhile, Buster says . . .
I’d respectfully disagree . . .Just because somebody doesn’t make as much as Ryan Braun doesn’t mean cheating isn’t worthwhile, and it’s hardly a stretch to suggest that Cabrera made extra cash through his past transgression . . . He signed with the Royals for $1.25 million in 2011 and became a star, at a time when he reportedly became a client of Biogenesis. He was suspended in 2012 while playing for the San Francisco Giants, and the Blue Jays then signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal before anybody knew about Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.
That last little bit is kinda clever: “before anybody knew about Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.” It implies that Melky made his $16 million from the Jays under false pretenses. Which is silly considering the guy was suspended for testing positive for drugs while still with the Giants. My memory is a bit fuzzy about it all, but I seem to recall that a few papers even wrote some stuff about it.
Did Melky get an unfair advantage from cheating? Absolutely. But every cent he’s made from the Blue Jays and every cent he’s making going forward was and will be made with full knowledge of his past transgressions and with the risk of him either cheating again or turning into a pumpkin priced into the deal. If he hadn’t been busted while in San Francisco he would have stood to make way, way more than that. Indeed, conservative estimates before his suspension were that he’d get $50 million over four years, maybe more. Rather than get a windfall as a result of his cheating, Melky took a pretty big hit, financially speaking.
I realize it drives some people crazy that baseball is cool with punishing guys for taking PEDs, letting them back in the game and allowing them to make a living as if they weren’t murderers or something, but that is how it works. Ask the Cardinals and Jhonny Peralta. Ask the Orioles and Nelson Cruz. Ask any number of other players who have taken drugs, gotten suspended and have come back. And it’s how it should work. Punish a guy sharply when he crosses the line. Test players constantly to deter them from cheating. But when a guy has done the time, let him be unless or until he cheats again.
If you don’t like that — and Buster here clearly does not — advocate for lifetime bans on the first offense or get the hell off your high horse.
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.