One of the subjects that came up in the instantly infamous Bobby Valentine interview today was the allegation that he was late to a game in Oakland last weekend, when he apparently showed up just after 4pm for a 7PM game.
This led to Valentine defending himself over the charge, noting that he was picking up his son at the airport and that all of his pregame work was done and everyone knew were he was. Then he added “Joe Maddon gets there everyday at 4 o’clock, just for the record.”
A few minutes ago Maddon decided to poke at Valentine over this, tweeting thusly:
I guess a little chuckle is in order on the principle that the bar for yuks is really low when sports figures are involved. But really, I have to side with Valentine on this one. He’s not having a great season, but that lateness charge sounds like a bunch of crap someone is trying to stir up for no good reason. Out of pure professional courtesy to a counterpart, you’d think Maddon would have some sympathy for all of that.
All of which flows into my general take on the Bobby Valentine experience this year. No, he hasn’t helped himself one iota, but this situation was doomed from the get-go given the manner in which his predecessor was fired and Valentine himself was hired. Then add in an injured, underperforming team and a media market that just likes to watch the world burn, and the guy never had a chance.
Valentine is a big boy and will be just fine once this nightmare season is over, but Maddon’s pile on — even if it was meant in a spirit of whimsy rather than snark — is a bit cheap in my view.
World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.
And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.
Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.