Yesterday’s fracas led to both Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa being ejected in the bottom of the first inning. I don’t know about Baker, but Bernie Miklasz reports that La Russa didn’t take his ejection well:
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn’t necessarily enjoy
watching the contest from his office. He claimed that he vomited
four times because his stomach was churning so violently throughout
the nine innings.
It was, for a while at least, a competitive game, with the Reds coming back a couple of times, but there are more than a handful of games each month that are tighter and (fight aside) more drama-filled. The Cards played good baseball and, while it did get tight a couple of places, it felt like they were in control most of the game.
Which makes me wonder if La Russa’s upchucking was less a function of a tension-filled contest than it was a function of a man obsessed with being in control suddenly and unexpectedly being out of control.
For the sake of the man’s health, I hope he’s never fired or forced into retirement. It may kill him. He might barf up a lung and die on the spot.
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.