One of my favorite things in baseball is when a guy who has no business making demands of his team makes demands of his team.
Maybe the most famous example of this was when Derek Bell told the Pirates in early 2002 that he was NOT a bench player and that if they didn’t start him he was going to go into “Operation Shutdown.” The Pirates eagerly took him up on that offer. As of this writing, Operation Shutdown is fifteen and a half years old and still going strong.
More often you see marginal guys demanding trades, as if they had some sort of leverage. Today over at Baseball Prospectus Ben Carsley chronicles some of the more notable recent examples of that dynamic. The most recent one being Asdrubal Cabrera. Carsley analyzes these instances to determine whether the player had a legit gripe and tells us what ended up happening with our presumptuous heroes.
Oh, and he leads with Operation Shutdown, which I must once again stress, is one of the best stories in baseball in the past quarter century.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.