You think the Matt Holliday slide was bad last night? Ha! This morning Buster Olney tweeted a link to a video clip from the 1972 World Series that makes Holliday’s takeout of Marco Scutaro look like the two of them were drinking tea and eating crustless cucumber sandwiches at a doiley-covered table on some sun-splashed glade.
Check out Joe Morgan UPDATE: Check out Hal McCrae* taking out second baseman Dick Green on the second slide on this video:
How that didn’t lead to a rumble I have no idea.
*I had this as a Joe Morgan slide all day, based on the description of the video on YouTube and the quality of the video being such that, sure, it coulda been Joe Morgan. I’m informed, however, that Morgan was never forced out at second in that World Series. And upon further inspection, you can sorta make out a number one on the back of the guy’s jersey as he approaches the base. Hal McCrae wore 11 for the Reds, and it would appear that that’s who we’re seeing in the video.
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.