Something that stuck out the most to me in all of the Red Sox drama last night was Adrian Gonzalez trying to trash Jeff Passan’s report of the coup he and the Red Sox players reportedly attempted last month:
“I don’t know what you’re talking about … I’ve never seen that guy in our clubhouse before. He doesn’t know what’s going on with us.”
Yes, because the only people who can credibly report on stuff that the players would not want to be made public are the guys who talk to the players every day and get on-the-record quotes for their stories.
Sorry, whether it’s politics, sports, entertainment or whatever, it’s way more likely that reporters working from the outside, cultivating sources who don’t normally provide media quotes, are the ones who are going to get the stories that make the powers-that-be look bad. The White House press corps didn’t break Watergate, after all.
It’s just the nature of the beast. Beat reporters who are in the clubhouse every day have a huge incentive to not piss off the players and coaches on whom they report. It’s totally understandable. It’d present a practical (not an ethical) conflict of interest for any of them to report on such things as the Red Sox coup even if they knew about it.
More basically, that kind of dynamite tends to come from leakers and whisperers. If the leakers and whisperers are players, they’re not likely to leak or whisper to a guy who is in the clubhouse each day because people tend to know which players are tight with which reporters and the risk of being busted is too great. Front office people leaking are not limited by who they talk to in the locker room each day because they’re not, you know, in the locker room.
Anyway, point is this: it’s one thing to say a story is false. It’s another thing to kill the messenger like Gonzalez is trying to do here. It’s a non-denial that rings hollow and weak.
The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.
In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.
On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.
Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.