Craig Calcaterra

Minute Maid Park

ALDS Game 4: Royals vs. Astros lineups

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The Astros and Royals are taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to today’s game. With the exception of the pitcher it’s the same as yesterday for both teams. The same for the Royals for the whole dang series.

ASTROS

2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
CF Carlos Gomez
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro

SP Lance McCullers

ROYALS

SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios

SP Yordano Ventura

Dance with who brung ‘ya.

Mattingly: Mets fans would be OK if David Wright slid like Chase Utley

Don Mattingly
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One of the worst things about political discourse is how, when one party’s politician says or does something demonstrably awful, there is an almost immediate attempt to deflect away any blame or consequence for it by saying “hey, if YOUR side did this you wouldn’t be this upset.”

There is, at the core of that, something of a truth. People in partisan situations DO grade their own side less harshly than the other side. There’s a natural human tendency to do that, even if it is itself irrational and unfortunate.

But that’s another topic altogether, because it’s totally beside the point. The fact that, in the past or in some hypothetical situation people might talk about the situation at hand differently, does not mean that the situation at hand is any different. Anyone who is a parent knows this:

[Child breaks lamp playing ball in the house]

Dad: Junior, did you just break the lamp?!

Junior: Yes, but Sally broke that plate that one time . . .

Dad: I DON’T CARE! You literally just broke that lamp ten seconds ago! You were playing ball in the house and I have TOLD you not to do that!

Junior: Sally might play ball in the house one day. You wouldn’t be mad if SALLY broke the lamp.

With that last comment Junior just bought himself three more days of being grounded, right? On general principle alone?

Despite the simple, childish and insulting illogic of this approach, we see it all the time, particularly in politics. A candidate for office will say something absolutely offensive, counterfactual and patently insane, and when a person takes issue with it one of his supporters will immediately note that, in the past, his opponent has said something bad too (rarely so insane, of course). The supporter will then offer a hypothetical in which he imagines the opponent saying a crazy thing too, followed by a “You wouldn’t have any problem with it if YOUR GUY said that!”  Like Junior and the lamp, the person with whom you are talking about politics is offering up childish logic that is really just a dodge from the issue at hand.

It’s happening in baseball at the moment too! Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, speaking yesterday about the dirty Chase Utley slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg, said this:

“(If) their captain, David Wright comes into (Corey) Seager and slides like that, the exact same slide, and let’s say he didn’t get hurt, there would be rumblings, but it goes away,” Mattingly said Sunday, before Utley was suspended two games by MLB, with the possibility of playing on appeal. “Guys talk and chat, but if nobody got hurt, it wouldn’t even be talked about hardly today. It would have just been a hard slide, and there would have been controversy back and forth if it was hard; but since someone got hurt, now it’s a story.”

“If it would have been their guy, they would be saying, ‘David Wright, hey, he’s a gamer; he went after him. That’s the way you’ve got to play.’ But it’s our guy; it’s different. So I know how the kind of the New York media gets a little bit going, and it gets dramatic, but for me you can’t have it both ways. If David would have done it, it wouldn’t have been any problem here in New York.”

If there is anything I have observed about sports fans in the past several years it’s that, when a controversy arises, figuring out what team or player the fan in question roots for will dictate where the fan falls with respect to the controversy almost all of the time. It’s uncanny. And the matters which fans of a team or player will excuse are almost limitless. Players have committed serious felonies off the field and, while not many people will support them, you can be sure that among the few who do will happen to be fans of the player’s team.

But Don Mattingly isn’t some blinded partisan of a political candidate on Twitter playing the “If YOUR GUY said it . . .” game. He’s the manager of the Los Angeles Freakin’ Dodgers. And he’s addressing this issue as if he’s a first-time/long-time guy on the local sports talk radio show. He’s inventing a scenario that may or may not happen — David Wright taking out someone with a slide — for the express purpose of diminishing the fact that his guy, Utley, did just that. What’s more, is that he’s essentially hypotheticaling away the actual reason this was such a big deal — Ruben Tejada‘s leg getting broken — in much the same way. Primer for Don Mattingly:

  • Chase Utley‘s slide was dirty.
  • David Wright didn’t slide dirty into someone.
  • Ruben Tejada’s leg is broken.

Perhaps there are interesting conversations to have about hypothetical situations that spin off of this scenario and perhaps, if new rules are to be promulgated about slides it’s worth thinking about such things (rules have to cover many situations, not just one). But Don Mattingly isn’t sitting at that interview table because he’s an expert on ethics and prescriptive justice. He’s there because he’s the manager of the Dodgers. And the manager of the Dodgers he’s denying the bleedin’ obvious and basically telling people who take issue with Utley’s slide that they’re irrational and wrong.

We can’t ground Don Mattingly for insulting our intelligence like Dad can ground Junior for it, but we can think of his response in much the same way: childish. Wrong. Beside the point. And made in service of deflection rather than dealing with the issue at hand.

Playoff Reset: The Utley Bowl and three other games

Citi Field NLDS
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Like Friday, today we have playoff baseball all dang day long, starting at 1pm Eastern and going on until likely midnight or thereabouts, with all eight remaining playoff teams in action.

And, at least as far as drama goes, the schedule saves the best for last, with the Dodgers-Mets blood feud getting underway at 8:37pm Eastern  the late game. Strap in, folks.

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros
The Time: 1:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Minute Maid Park
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Yordano Ventura vs. Lance McCullers
The Upshot: The Royals’ backs are up against the wall after yesterday’s loss to Dallas Keuchel and the Astros. McCullers has yet to pitch in the postseason. His last outing was on the season’s last day and he had a bit of a mini-meltdown vs. the Diamondbacks, but overall his rookie campaign was strong (6-7, 3.22 ERA, 129/43 K/BB ratio in 125.2 innings). He’s had particular success at home, going 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 10 starts. Yordano Ventura will go on short rest after a rain-abbreviated two-inning, 42-pitch appearance in Game 1. Not that he was terribly effective in those two innings. His task: figure out how to get Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter out. The former is 5-for-10 with six walks, three homers, a double and five driven in this postseason, the latter: 5-for-11 with three walks, somehow, and that big homer yesterday.

 

The Game: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
The Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Globe Life Park, Arlington
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: R.A. Dickey vs. Derek Holland
The Upshot: Toronto staved off elimination last night the way they made it here in the first place: their boomsticks. Specifically Troy Tulowtizki’s, which delivered a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Thing was, it could’ve easily been something of a laugher rather than the close game it was at that point if not for the double plays the Jays kept hitting into. They had their chances to break it open and came out OK despite not doing that but they’d be better served today to take fuller advantage of their opportunities. On the hill: R.A. Dickey who, at age 40, is making his postseason debut. Against the team that drafted him nearly 20 years ago. Time is a flat circle.

 

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Michael Wacha vs. Jake Arrieta
The Upshot: The Cardinals’ mission, should they choose to accept it, is to try to do something against Jake Arrieta, which no one has been able to do in a dog’s age. Last time out all he did was shut out the Pirates while striking out 11. I’m not gonna say it’ll take a no-hitter by Michael Wacha to beat Arrieta but . . . the last time someone beat Arrieta was when Cole Hamels — then a Phillie — tossed a no-hitter against the Cubs back on June 25.

 

The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Brett Anderson vs. Matt Harvey
The Upshot: There Will Be Blood. Or, at the very least, bruises. At least if the Mets decide that going after the Dodgers in retaliation for Chase Utley‘s dirty slide which broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday is the highest and best use of Matt Harvey’s heat. At the moment Harvey seems to be signaling that it is, saying “as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do,” which may as well be an advertisement for free plunkings with every at bat. Whether it comes against Chase Utley himself or someone else is an open question at the moment, with Utley having received a two-game suspension last night which he is appealing. Major League Baseball says they will hear the appeal today, so it’s possible that Utley will still be out for this game and for Game 4 in New York.