Interesting story about Marlins manager Jack McKeon in the New York Times today. Seems that every morning — at home or on the road — he goes to Mass. He’s done it for 60 years, and it’s just part of his game day routine, even if the team plane got in at 3AM and he has every reason to stay in bed.
I’m personally a non-believer so I can’t speak to the feelings and fulfillment McKeon describes as the result of his daily ritual, but my mother and the majority of my relatives and all of my wife’s are Catholic. I got married in a Catholic ceremony and I have always admired the ritual for its own sake. Even if you take the spiritual aspects of it away, there seems to be a peace and order of mind that comes from it all. Calmness and certainty in a often frustrating and often mad world.
Not that McKeon or any true Catholic can take the spiritual aspects away. This is just my own observation from afar. And no real deep point here. Just neat to see another side of a baseball figure who, in a lot of ways, has been reduced to caricature has he’s gotten older, and that’s always nice.
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.