Potent quotables: 'They make mistakes, too.'

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“They make mistakes, too. They made a mistake there and we just got to live with it.”



– Joe Mauer plays it classy,
even though umpire Phil Cuzzi’s blown call during Friday’s Game 2
possibly cost the Twins a run in an eventual 4-3 loss to the Yankees.
The team’s season is now on life support as they head back to Minnesota
for Game 3.




“You feel so good. You grind out an at-bat against
one of the best closers in the game, and you get a favorable count and
you get a pitch in your wheelhouse, and obviously you don’t want to
miss it. And the fun part is I was just thinking base hit, hit the ball
hard somewhere.”




– With a ninth-inning, game-tying home run off Joe Nathan in Game 2, Alex Rodriguez is quickly shaking that pesky “unclutch” tag that has followed him since joining the Yankees. He is 4-for-8 with five RBI over the first two games of the ALDS.



“I just wanted
him to show me some respect. He just straight-faced me and walked away.
He’d be pissed if I did that to him. Just listen to what I have to say.
Don’t just take your mask off, and walk away. I know I can’t say
anything. I guess they have more power than anybody. It’s a frustrating
deal because … I’m not even a person that you’ll respect. I don’t know
what I need to do.”




– More trouble with the men in blue, as Josh Beckett was peeved with home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor
after he failed to acknowledge concerns that Mike Napoli turned into a
curveball in the seventh inning of Friday’s Game 2. The hit-by-pitch
opened the door for two more runs to score.




“No, our strategy is that we need to win. No, we need to win a game.”



– Terry Francona, upon being asked if his strategy changes now that the Red Sox are on the brink of elimination.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.