Did Tim Lincecum throw out a "juiced ball" Friday night?

8 Comments

Maybe, but let’s start with what we know to be true.

Tim Lincecum allowed just two hits over eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Rockies last night. As a result, the Giants enter play Saturday with a one-game advantage over the Padres in the win column while the fading Rockies sit 3 1/2 games back in the division and four back in the Wild Card. Barring a minor miracle, the Rockies are just about done.

OK, here’s the (potential) funny business. You may recall that earlier this week, Craig informed us about some chatter that the Rockies may be slipping some non-humidor balls into circulation at opportune moments. Only adding to the controversy is the fact that the Rockies have a 51-25 (.671) record at home and a lowly 31-46 (.403) record on the road this season.

The Giants haven’t issued a formal complaint in regards to the humidor, but Lincecum may have suspected something during the sixth inning of last night’s game. The Giants’ ace was spotted evidently mouthing the words “juiced balls” as he tossed a ball back to home plate umpire Laz Diaz. Mark Townsend of Bugs and Cranks has video of moment in question, though probably for a limited time only. It sure looks it.

According to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse, Lincecum did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on what he may have said, but for now, the conspiracy theory lives on. 

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.