Zack Greinke WILL call you out if you “do the number two” and don’t wash your hands

47 Comments

I get and read a lot of baseball books, but one which I have been looking forward to just arrived in my mailbox. It’s Molly Knight’s book about the Los Angeles Dodgers, “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” which chronicles the journey of the Dodgers from McCourt bankruptcy to, well, wherever it is they are today. Mattingly, Kershaw, Magic Johnson and all of the craziness of the past couple of years. It goes on sale July 14.

At the forefront of the craziness is Yasiel Puig, of course. Having just gotten the book an hour ago I haven’t read it yet, but if the index and my skimming around is any guide, he’s the main character. Heck, reading his index entry alone is fantastic. “Anger issues of” “chronic tardiness of” “brawls, and” “in brushes with the law””discipline issues of” “entourage of” etc. etc. Heck, I’ll just take a pic of it and show you. It takes up two whole columns:

source:

I have skimmed over a good many of the individual anecdotes and, so far, it seems like Knight gives a pretty fair treatment of Puig. While there is some indication that he has settled down this season, in 2013 and 2014, Puig was a pretty big pain in the butt. Maybe not the team-killing, literally life-threatening monster the Bill Plaschkes of the world make him out to be, but definitely someone who gets on his teammates and his coaches nerves (and the media’s too, but who cares about them?). At times he’s naive, at times he’s calculating. At times he’s surly. At times he’s misunderstood. At other times he’s simply oblivious. It’s understandable why he rubs people the wrong way, even if the accounts of him rubbing people the wrong way are often blown out of proportion.

But so far I have a favorite anecdote. And it has nothing to do with Puig. It has to do with a team meeting held as the Dodgers stumbled just prior to clinching the NL West in 2013. Don Mattingly called the meeting and told his charges to loosen up. Then, in an unprecedented move, because he never speaks out like this, Zack Greinke stood up. “I’ve got something to say,” he said. The room was quiet.

“Some of you guys have been doing the number two and not washing your hands. It’s not good. I noticed it even happening earlier today. So if you guys could just be better about it, that would be great.”

Greinke sat down. The team wasn’t sure if he was serious. When they realized he was, they laughed. Then they took the field, far looser than they had been, and went out and beat the Dbacks. Two days later they clinched the division and jumped in the Dbacks pool.

Did I mention that I love Zack Greinke?

And, so far anyway, I love this book. Check it out. It goes on sale July 14, and can be preordered now.

Nationals haven’t played in a week. Is that a problem?

Getty Images
6 Comments

You’ll hear the question posed in the headline a lot in early going of tonight’s Game 1. If the Astros jump out to a lead and/or go on to win the game, it’ll likely transform from a question to an assertion. The “[Team] had too many days off between games” thing is often cited by commentators and fans as a reason for the team with a lot of time off after the LCS woofin’ it in the World Series.

Does more rest hurt a World Series team compared to a team that played more recently? Yes, at least in recent years.

The team with less time off before Game 1 of the World Series has won nine of the past ten World Series, with last year’s Red Sox team — which had four days off to the Dodgers’ three before Game 1 — being the exception. In the three years before that — 2006 through 2008 — the team with less time off won two of three. Ah ha! it’s settled then.

Or not. Because before that — from the advent of the Wild Card round, which was first played in 1995, through 2005 — the team with more rest won the World Series ten of eleven times.

Perhaps that doesn’t make a total wash — the current pattern is certainly interesting — but it does make it hard to be 100% confident that the rest factor is more than just somewhat oddly-ordered randomness.

But let’s look a bit more specifically. Let’s look at teams that not only had more rest, but which had an unusual amount of rest for a baseball team.

The Nationals have had six full days off before today. That doesn’t happen that often, at least not recently, especially since MLB stopped letting Fox arbitrarily set the start date of the World Series which often created longer wait times. Let’s look at how having six full days off or more before the Fall Classic begins helps or hurts a team.

Here’s everyone who has fit that description since 1995:

  • 1995 Braves: 6 days off: WON
  • 1996 Yankees: 6 days off: WON
  • 2006 Tigers: 6 days off: LOST
  • 2007 Rockies: 8 days off — EIGHT DAYS OFF?!! — LOST
  • 2008 Phillies: 6 days off — WON
  • 2009 Phillies: 6 days off — LOST

So, it’s three wins and three losses for the teams with six or more full days off. One of those wins and one of those losses came from basically the same team, the 08-09 Phillies. One of those losses came from a 2007 Rockies team that, most people would agree, was seriously out-classed by the Red Sox.

Which means that . . . it kinda doesn’t matter? Indeed, to the extent I think people think it does matter was because after it happened to the Tigers in 2006 manager Jim Leyland made a big point to say that the extra rest was a problem while most managers haven’t really cited it, at least with any amount of passion or definitiveness. If I remember correctly Leyland cited it again in 2012, and that year the Tigers only had five full days off. When someone like Leyland says something, narratives tend to be formed.

Anyway, just know that if/when someone mentions the Nats’ being rusty, the time, in and of itself, is probably not the whole story.