“Gibson and Drysdale” alert!

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I mock the old “If The Boss was still alive” cliche New York journalists use all the time, but there’s another, even more prevalent cliche that has come to the fore over the past couple of years. It’s the “if Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale were still pitching” cliche, and it’s trotted out pretty darn regularly.

The idea is that those two no-nonsense pitchers from a bygone era would not stand for the shenanigans of today’s young whippersnappers. Why, if you flipped your bat, took a slow home run trot, didn’t hitch up your trousers properly or played the loud hippity-hop music when coming up to bat they’d throw a ball at your head. In Gibson’s specific case, actually, the construction is almost always “would plant a ball in your ear.”

We see it trotted out ALL THE TIME. Comment sections (I found nearly 200 HBT comments from the past year invoking them in this way), on Twitter and even from the mouths of players and managers. Here’s Joe Maddon talking about David Ortiz the other day, after his little argument through the media with Rays pitcher Chris Archer:

When Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked about Ortiz’s shtick after having a night to sleep on it, Maddon said: “The simple answer is, what if it had happened in the ’60s when [Bob] Gibson was pitching or [Don] Drysdale was pitching? That answers the question.”

You’re silly, Joe. Bob Gibson hit a batter for every 158 he faced. Don Drysdale hit a batter for ever 94 he faced. Chris Archer has done it every 82 times. So your two historical avatars would be even less likely to do something about it than your man Archer, there.

And yes, I know what you’re going to say: “but they would brush Ortiz back more!” Well, cool. Then brush Ortiz back more. Or, I dunno, pitch as well as Drysdale or Gibson and don’t give him the chance to hit bombs off of you. Short of that, quit using Gibson and Drysdale like this. Drysdale is dead and should be left to rest in peace. Gibson is an older, retired gentleman and probably has things he’d rather do than to have the memory of his playing days used to fight your battles.

But more generally, whether you’re invoking Gibson, Drysdale, Steinbrenner or anything else, quit pretending that things were better back in the day than they are now. Because in baseball as in life, that’s almost always never the case. And when you do it, you just sound like an old fart who can’t enjoy new things or adapt to a new era.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.