Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Most of society uses bull excrement to refer to things which are suboptimal or less-than-genuine. Baseball players, however, have a long and rich history of using horse excrement as their epithet of choice. I’m not sure why. I know a lot of people in the military use it — my dad is a big “horses**t” advocate — but it’s huge in baseball. Probably bigger there now than anywhere else. At least since the military moved on to F.U.B.A.R. a couple of decades back.
Jim Leyland is perhaps the most recent Grand Master of “horses**t.” He used to drop it all the time, even when he wasn’t mad about anything. And of course he used to manage the Tigers, so it’s understandable why Victor Martinez would go there to describe the Tigers’ subpar performance last night. From Katie Strang at ESPN:
Martinez, 37, gave credit where credit was due, tipping his cap to a phenomenal performance from Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Hill, but he indicted his own team’s meager display in a 5-1 loss.
“Bottom line: The guy threw good,” he said. “We were horses— as an offense.”
And it wasn’t just last night. As Strang notes, the Tigers offense, which is supposed to be a strength of this team, has been terrible lately.
Meanwhile, a Tigers fan friend of mine just asked rhetorically why Martinez is saying this about his and his teammates’ performance instead of Brad Ausmus. Good question! I mused in the recaps this morning that Ausmus is probably on thin ice, but when the players are voicing frustration like this and the manager isn’t throwing a bunch of bats into the shower and giving the “lollygaggers” speech, it’s usually not a good look.
Jim Leyland is going to manage the WBC team next year. He’s rested. He’s ready. Maybe he wants a warmup. The old man comes back as an interim manager? Who says no?!
On Monday night the Braves lost 1-0 to the Red Sox. Early in the game, Freddie Freeman was called out at second base. Replays appeared to show Freeman beating the play at second, but the Braves didn’t challenge the call, per the advice of team video coordinator Rob Smith to manager Fredi Gonzalez. After the game Freeman, as well as several anonymous team officials, grumbled about the decision not to challenge.
As Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports today, that no-challenge has motivated the Braves to reexamine how they approach replay. Others have speculated that that decision will be used as an overall basis for making wholesale changes, including the possible firing of Fredi Gonzalez. A scapegoating move to be sure given how bad this team is, but “things just aren’t working and our processes are breaking down” is a better story to tell than “we put a crap roster together on the super cheap because we don’t care about 2016,” at least if you’re in the front office.
Whatever that means for the Braves, this puts me in mind of that story from last week about how the Yankees’ replay guy is considered so good and gives them an advantage. And makes me wonder once again why we’ve decided to make a game out of replay — one challenge and if you’re wrong you lose it! — rather than simply making it another tool in the umpire’s toolbox.
Rob Bradford of WEEI has an omnibus Pablo Sandoval update.
Short version: the Sox will know more about his status early next week. He’s finally going back to Dr. Andrews for a consult on his shoulder, which Andrews was not able to do previously because Sandoval was experiencing too much pain. It should go down on Monday. Bradford has some backfill on the history of Sandoval’s shoulder issues, dating back to his Giants days, and the Sox’ awareness of previous problems. There are also some interesting observations about how the Red Sox deal with insuring players for injuries, which they have apparently not done in Sandoval’s case.
Additional takeaway: the Sox deny Jeff Passan’s report from a couple of weeks ago that there is some sort of mandate on Sandoval to lose a certain amount of weight before he can play again, even if his shoulder is OK. Bradford said that the Sox are monitoring Sandoval’s progress since he went on the disabled list and that they’re “encouraged” by what he’s been doing since he’s been out, conditioning wise.
In the past Sandoval has gone back and forth in this department, dropping weight and improving fitness when the Giants leaned on him, backsliding when they didn’t. It’s obviously a struggle for him, but he has shown that he’s capable of righting things when he has to. The shoulder here is an obvious wrinkle and a potentially major one, but we’ll know more in the coming days.