When the schedule came out showing the Mets visiting the Royals for Opening Day, everyone knew it would be weird that the very same Mets the Royals vanquished in the World Series would be forced to stand on the third base line and watch the World Series flag being raised. And the video montages and all of the other celebratory stuff that came with it.
Some folks thought it was kind of delicious. The morning after, however, the Royals regret that it went down that way. Ned Yost:
“It was just strange, the pregame ceremony . . .[it was] a bit like sending your ex pictures of your honeymoon . . . I think I would have enjoyed it more if we played another team.”
Yost didn’t plan that ceremony you can understand his awkwardness about it. He could probably imagine what it was like to be on the other side of it. All in all, that’s pretty nice of him to say.
For what it’s worth, the Mets don’t have any hard feelings. Here’s David Wright:
“They’re the champs,” Wright said. “They should celebrate it. If the outcome would have been a little different and we won, I’m sure we would have played a nice video as well. They’re the champs. They deserve it.”
Jeez, guys. This is some pretty fertile ground for a media-fueled controversy about an esoteric area of the unwritten rules (i.e. how to celebrate a championship properly). And here you all are acting REASONABLY and RATIONALLY. Where the heck is the fun in that?
In the fall, we all recite Bart Giamatti’s quote about baseball being designed to break your heart. In the spring we tend to go with Walt Whitman’s words about the game and how it will “repair our losses and being a blessing to us.” Never mind that . . . he may not have said that.
Still, even with giants like those men waxing poetic about our national pastime, there is room for more poetry. Or some good prose anyway. Even from non-literary lights. Like Terry Francona, who said this wonderful thing to the Boston Globe:
“It’s one of the most amazing feelings there is,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time because I’m getting older. I’m not sure how something can be the same over and over and over and over again and yet be so wonderful. There’s a lot excitement. There’s certainly some anxiety. There’s probably a small piece of terror. Did we cover everything? Things like that. But it’s the same every year. It never changes. I hope it doesn’t. It’s a great feeling.”
It’s not going to win poetry awards, but that bit about how something can be the same over and over and still be wonderful is the very essence of baseball and why I love it.
When the Astros traded a nice package to the Phillies for Ken Giles it was expected that he would be the closer. Nope. At last not now. Manager A.J. Hinch announced this morning that Luke Gregerson would start the season handling ninth inning duties.
Gregerson was the closer last year, of course, and saved 31 games. Between that level of comfort Hinch has with him and with Giles’ struggles this spring — he allowed seven runs in nine games — the Astros manager had a decent basis for his decision. He also, however, works for an organization which does not place as much value on highly-defined roles to begin with, so the notion that Hinch could switch to Giles or use some other, matchup-based system for closing duties is not out of the question.
At the moment, though, I wonder if gut more than anything entered into this choice. The smart kids talk about bullpen roles and spring training stats and high-leverage situations and the oddity of the saves stat driving pitcher usage, but baseball still lends itself to instinct and comfort and the role of the closer is no different. This is not a criticism, by the way. If anything, it shows that any absolutes anyone wants to put on these sorts of decisions overstate things. Hinch is human. His pitchers are too.