In the wake of Bryce Harper’s injury, Scott Boras wants MLB to wipe down the bases more often

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Bryce Harper’s injury over the weekend could’ve been much worse than it was. When it happened it reminded me of Tim Krumrie’s injury in Super Bowl XXIII or when Jason Kendall broke his ankle back in 1999. If you’re unaware of those you’re free to Google them on your own, because I get nauseous even thinking about them. Suffice it to say: legs aren’t supposed to bend that way, and that Harper escaped with only a bone bruise, even a severe one, is a minor miracle.

Not that there aren’t people still upset about it. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, believes the injury never should’ve happened. He thinks that damp bases, like the one Harper slipped on Saturday night, should be on Major League Baseball’s radar. Here’s Boras from an interview with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick:

“We go to great lengths with the soil to make sure it’s not wet and there are drying agents on the ground. I don’t know what technology we apply or the studies that have been done on the composition of having a wet base. That’s certainly something we need to look into. This injury was directly related to inclement weather and a player putting his cleat on the bag and it slipping across because the surface was slick . . . In the NBA, when a player hits the floor and there’s perspiration on the floor, they clean it up immediately so the surface isn’t slick. In baseball, we have no one cleaning the bags between innings during inclement weather.”

It’s a worthy observation, but the falling rain is not as easily tackled as a fallen player. The whistle usually blows soon after a basketball player hits the boards, but play does not stop in baseball simply because of some raindrops — the sort of rain in Washington on Saturday is the kind through which games are routinely played — and the raindrops do not schedule their falling between innings. There are going to be times when a base is damp. It’s pretty much unavoidable.

Will Major League Baseball do anything about it? I doubt directly, because there isn’t much to do. Maybe, over time, they’ll look at altering the surface of the bag somewhat to make it more tacky, but they’d be doing it as a result of what I think we can safely call a freak accident as opposed to the words of Boras. And of course, some may argue that a tackier base could lead to different sorts of injuries.

I think the bigger fallout of Harper’s injury will be for managers to be less likely to play star players when there’s even a little rain, if they can at all justify it. In this case Harper was playing on a wet track in a delayed game against a last place team while his club held a 14.5-game lead in the standings. It’s hindsight, but some have likely argued that he could’ve been held out. Whether or not that’s reasonable, I expect to see more superstars held out in conditions like that going forward.

Robin Ventura, other familiar names come up in Mets managerial search

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Terry Collins is still the manager of the New York Mets, but all signs point to that state of affairs ending some time soon after Sunday afternoon. To that end, the New York Post reports a handful of familiar names being mentioned in connection with their impending managerial search:

Early persons of interest, according to industry sources, all have ties to the organization: Robin Ventura, Alex Cora and Kevin Long. Two others with ties to the organization — Bob Geren and Chip Hale — are also in the conversation, according to sources.

By the way: can we talk about how great it is that a term that is normally associated with criminal suspects — “persons of interest” — is being used in connection with potential future New York Mets managers? OK, we just talked about it.

These names, with the exception of Cora, all belong to former managers with Mets connections. Hale was the Mets third base coach and was passed over for the managerial gig when Collins was hired and eventually managed the Diamondbacks. Ventura, of course, played for the Mets for three seasons before retiring and becoming the White Sox’ manager. Geren was the Mets bench coach when they won the 2015 pennant but moved to the Dodgers to be closer to his family in California. He’s formally a manager with the Oakland A’s. Cora played a season and change with the Mets and has served as the bench coach for the Astros in the 2017 season.

In the recent past, as recently-retired players with little or no coaching or managerial experience were hired to manage teams, some people may have referred to these candidates as “retreads.” With Dusty Baker’s success in Washington after a few years of semi-retirement and with a number of inexperienced managers showing that they were not all that they were cracked up to be, however, the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward looking for experienced candidates.

Obviously the whole offseason will determine if I’m imagining that or if it does, in fact, becomes the trend. And, of course, the Mets actually have to formally let Collins go before hiring someone else. Not that I would put it past them to mess that up.

Pete Mackanin doesn’t know if he’ll be back as Phillies manager next year

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Back in May the Phillies gave Pete Mackanin a contract extension covering the remainder of 2017, all of 2018 and created a team option for 2019. Yesterday, however, Mackanin said he had no idea if the Phillies were going to bring him back as manager next season:

“I assume I’ll be here, but you never know. You never know what they’re going to do. So you just keep moving on. I just take it a day at a time and manage the way I think I should manage and handle players the way I think I should handle them. That’s all I can do. If it’s not good enough then … fine. I hope it’s good enough. I hope he thinks it’s good enough.”

Maybe that’s just cautious talk, though, as there doesn’t seem to be any signals coming from the Phillies front office that Mackanin is in trouble. If anything things have looked up in the second half of the season with the callups of Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams each of whom have shown that they belong in the bigs. The team is 33-37 since the All-Star break and is certainly a better team now than the one Mackanin started with in April. And it’s not his fault that they don’t have any pitching.

I suspect Mackanin will be back next year, but Mackanin has been around the block enough times to know that nothing is guaranteed for a big league manager. Even one under contract.