Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Brad Ausmus is probably in some trouble


The Tigers have been stinkin’ up the joint. They’ve lost 11 of 13 and, but for a questionable call or two in yesterday’s game vs. the Orioles, it could’ve been 12. But one loss matters far less than 21, which is the total number of their losses, and 7.5, which is how far back they are in the AL Central. Another number that matters is $200 million, which is the team’s payroll. May as well throw in the number 86, which is how many years old owner Mike Ilitch is, and he’s not getting any younger.

Manager Brad Ausmus was on the hot seat last year following the team’s last place finish and right after the season ended it seemed like even odds that he’d be fired and the Tigers would sell off some pieces. But rather than tear down and rebuild, new GM Al Avila went out and added pieces in Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann and kept Ausmus on board. Whether those were the right pieces to add is something people can disagree about, but the clear signal coming from the front office heading into 2016 was “the Tigers are expected to compete this year.” Except they’re not competing.

All of which tends to lead to managers getting fired, and Ausmus is clearly on the hot seat. Today both the Free Press and the News have columns speculating on Ausmus’ job security. Losing in bunches and losing in dispiriting fashion — and bullpens blowing big leads is dispiriting — doesn’t help matters. Whatever one thinks of the composition of the 2016 Tigers and no matter how little input Ausmus had into that composition, the manager in this situation often takes the fall.

I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Ausmus falls. The real question is going to be whether he outlasts Fredi Gonzalez in Atlanta. On the one hand, sure, the Braves are way, way worse. On the other hand, no one in Atlanta’s front office expects their team to win anything. The expectations in Detroit are far, far different.

If I were Brad Ausmus, I’d do my grocery shopping by the day.

You people don’t know what a “sucker punch” is

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Forgot to mention this in my earlier Bautista-Odor post, but it’s really bugging me. I’ve seen a lot of people — almost all of them Blue Jays fans, but let’s ignore that for a second — referring to Rougned Odor‘s punch to Jose Bautista‘s jaw as a “sucker punch.” Here’s an example. And another. And another. Here’s a total Twitter search for it and you can see a gabillion examples.

This is madness. A sucker punch is, by definition, a surprise punch, hitting a person who is not expecting it, not looking or who is otherwise unaware that he’s about to become the recipient of some violence. It is not a punch to someone who has literally got his dukes up, preparing for a fight. And, in Bautista’s case, has a hand extended already, be it for a punch or some preemptive defense or whatever it is he’s doing here:

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What Odor did after that was not a “sucker punch.” It was a “punch.” Because the two men were in a “fight” and just because Bautista lost the fight does not make it a “sucker punch.” Nor is it a sucker punch because, most of the time, ballplayers don’t punch each other. Unless I missed something and there are unwritten rules about that too.

Like I said above, this almost all comes from Toronto people because, it seems, they are very invested in making Odor out to be the bad guy here. When, as I explained this morning, everyone was kind of a jackwagon in this whole incident. If it makes you feel better to think one side was way worse than the other, fine, do what you gotta do. But at least appreciate that words mean things and “sucker punch” does not mean what you’re saying it means here.

Doc Gooden: “I never thought I’d live this long”


Memorial Day weekend there will be a reunion of the 1986 Mets team at Citi Field and one of the most famous members of hat Mets team was Doc Gooden. He was also one of the most infamous members of that Mets team as well, what with his decades long struggle with drug and alcohol abuse which, it’s not unreasonable to say, robbed him of what could have easily been a Hall of Fame career.

John Harper of the Daily News caught up with Gooden and has a story about his ongoing battles with addiction and a now-five-year commitment to sobriety. Gooden is unflinching in his assessment of himself and where his life has been and in how hard he works to keep his life on the straight and narrow:

“That’s what makes every day so joyous for me right now because I remember the days when I was in houses with people I didn’t know, getting high, not knowing if I was ever going to get my life back together. And at times accepting, ‘maybe this is who I am, maybe I’m going to die like this.’ When I look back at everything I’ve done, even if it’s just everything I did to my body, I never thought I’d live this long.”

The story talks about Gooden’s time in prison as well as just how hard it has been for him to adjust to life outside of it. Most worrisome are the many references he makes to how hard it is to stay clean now, especially given (a) how much he credits his family and domestic life to keeping him clean; but (b) his most recent marriage ended in divorce and he doesn’t always get to see his kids on a regular basis.

Here’s hoping he continues to find his way, no matter how hard it gets.