I’ve had a little back and forth with Nats fans on Twitter today over “Natitude” a the whole “Take Back the Park” thing for this weekend’s series against the Phillies.
Now, I don’t need to prove to anyone what I think about a certain brand of Phillies fan, so believe me, when I say this, it’s not because I think it’s just peachy that Phillies fans have made Nats Park their new home. But that’s beside the point. My view — and I realize not everyone shares it — is that the Nats should have just laid low about it all and not make a big deal over Phillies fans taking over the park. I think that the whole initiative reeks of insecurity and may actually have the opposite effect, encouraging Phillies fans.
Check out the scene in Philly — from the Philadelphia Daily News — as people board buses for DC:
Now, tell me: when they get to Nats Park today, are they gonna have a great photo op under the banner pictured on this post over at DC Sports Bog?
I dunno. I just think that you win games, ignore idiots and eventually you have your park filled with loyal, local fans. Like any bully, you just encourage these guys with such a major reaction.
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.