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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Almost a full slate of games on this Monday night. The only teams off are the Phillies and Nationals, who start a three-game series in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, and the Brewers and Cubs, who also open a three-game set in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks played a crazy 13-inning game with the Pirates on Sunday night. They lost 12-10 in 13 innings, but fought valiantly with two runs in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game to extras. Then, when the Pirates scored twice in the top of the 12th, the D-Backs responded with two runs of their own. They ended up using 10 pitchers: eight to pitch, one to pinch-hit (Zack Greinke), and one to pinch-run and play left field (Shelby Miller). Starter Robbie Ray lasted only three innings, forcing the bullpen to cover 10 innings. One wonders if the D-Backs’ bullpen will be running on empty during Monday night’s series opener at home against the Cardinals, starting at 9:40 PM EST.

A strong seven-plus-inning outing from Greinke would go a long way. He has turned things around in his last two starts after allowing 11 runs in 10 innings in his first two starts as a Diamondback after signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract in December. He pitched into the eighth inning against the Padres on April 15, then limited the Giants to a lone run in 6 2/3 innings last Wednesday.

The Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia, who is having a great season, out to the mound. He’s 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 26/8 K/BB ratio over 20 innings. One of those starts included a complete game one-hit shutout, with 13 strikeouts, against the Brewers on April 14. When Garcia is healthy — which isn’t often — he’s one of the best starters in the game. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old lefty hasn’t been able to accrue more than 20 starts in a season since 2011.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), 7:07 PM EST

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer), 7:10 PM EST

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran), 7:10 PM EST

Cincinnati Reds (Raisel Iglesias) @ New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard), 7:10 PM EST

Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman) @ Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann), 7:10 PM EST

New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @ Texas Rangers (Cesar Ramos), 8:05 PM EST

Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 8:10 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke) @ Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis), 8:40 PM EST

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Richards), 10:05 PM EST

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EST

Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EST

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner), 10:15 PM EST

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.