Before we get to that, some followup from Mike Bacsik, who was accused by former teammate Tim Redding yesterday of grooving home run 756 to Barry Bonds. Bacsik tweets:
For everyone on my page that needs a denial; I didn’t try to give up the homerun. I was crappy enough to do it without trying . . . If somebody would
have asked me, what teammate will say you tried to give up a homerun?
After laughing my answer would have been Tim Redding.
I still don’t know or frankly really care of Bacsik served up a fat one to Bonds, but (a) I like his sense of humor; and (b) he’s not the first guy to slam Tim Redding for being something of a horse’s ass.
In other news — old news, anyway — Jake Peavy doesn’t need anyone to accuse him of grooving one to Barry Bonds. He admitted it freely a couple of years ago:
everyone in the ballpark knew that was going to be Barry’s last
at-bat,” Peavy recalled. “Me and Barry being buddies, I wanted to take
care of him in his old ballpark. I wanted to give him as good a
send-off as he could have. That being said, I couldn’t throw cookies up
there all night because we had to win. But we were able to get a 9-2
lead, and I’m facing Barry knowing this was going to be his last at-bat.
“At that point, I knew we were going to win that game and he knew I
was going to give him a good pitch to hit. He didn’t have to guess what
was coming: a fastball. He took a good shot at it and just missed it.
We had a good little exchange there. We would’ve done that whether it
had been on the field or not. But he wanted the fans to be a part of us
paying our respect to each other.”
Mickey Mantle was grooved one near the end too. And I’m not sure I have any problem with that kind of stuff. One of the things that
separates baseball from the lesser sports is that there is more room for
friendship and camaraderie, even on the actual field of play. The way I see it, if it’s only a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, and if it’s not affecting the outcome of a game, no harm, no
foul. I appreciate that I may be in the minority on that, but that’s nothing new.
(thanks to lar for the Peavy link)
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.