Late in the Rockies-Diamondbacks game last night a lot of people on Twitter wondered what in the heck Torey Lovullo was doing. The Dbacks had the lead, yes, but given how that game was going, no lead felt safe. Insurance runs seemed super important. Yet, in the bottom of the seventh inning, with runners on base, Lovullo allowed the light-hitting Jeff Mathis hit for himself and then let relief pitcher Archie Bradley hit for himself.
Folks following the game on Twitter didn’t much care for these choices. Mathis, for his part, struck out. Then, as Bradley came to the plate, Diamondbacks fans felt that the best course of action was to bargain with God or the fates or whoever it is they felt would listen. They made desperate offers, in fact:
As we all know by now, Bradley did in fact plate a run. Two, in fact, via his improbable triple off of Pat Neshek. A few hours later, after he dried the champagne off, Bradley took to Twitter to hold this dude to his promise:
They guy seems to be backing down, unfortunately:
Sad. Kids today simply don’t honor their commitments. Too busy, uh, eating avocados or whatever it is kids are allegedly doing to ruin society. I lose track of these things.
No word if anyone promised to tattoo Jeff Mathis’ face on their back if he laid down a run-scoring bunt off of Greg Holland, but given how last night went, nothing would surprise me.
The Phillies are in a tailspin. The club lost its perch atop the NL East, losing 12 of its last 18 games dating back to May 30. They enter Thursday night’s action four games behind the now-first-place Braves. The reasons for the slide are myriad, including a rash of injuries, but the players have also simply not played well. Understandably, fans are upset.
It didn’t help when, for the second time in three weeks, shortstop Jean Segura didn’t run hard on a batted ball. On June 3, Segura didn’t run on an infield pop-up that eventually resulted in a season-ending injury to Andrew McCutchen. On Wednesday during the second game of a doubleheader, Segura weakly hit a Max Scherzer pitch to shallow left-center that wasn’t caught. Because he was watching the ball rather than running hard, he had to hold up after a wide turn around first base.
To the surprise of many, Segura wasn’t pulled from the game despite the lack of effort. To the even further surprise of many, manager Gabe Kapler included Segura in Thursday’s lineup against the Nationals, which has otherwise been thoroughly reshuffled. Per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kapler said, “Jean is one of our eight best players. I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.”
Kapler said he had a long talk with Segura. “I told him that we’re going to address not just him but other players in the clubhouse and we’re going to talk about the highest level of effort and talk about how we can’t win every night but we can win the game of give-a-[hoot] and be undefeated in that category. Then we can protect the Phillies by putting the best lineup together on a nightly basis and not think about making ourselves feel better by sending a message.”
Kapler hit the nail on the head with that last line. Benching Segura only makes fans and pundits feel better by punishing someone for a perceived transgression. But does it actually teach anything, and is it actually beneficial to the team? Maybe to the former, and no to the latter. Matt Winkelman of Baseball Prospectus brought up a great point on Twitter, writing, “The idea that punishment is the only way to solve a problem or change behavior is such a narrow minded idea.” People learn best in different ways. Some might respond well to punishment. Others may just need a good talking-to. It’s a case-by-case thing. Kapler is right to apply nuance to the situation.
So many of baseball’s long-held beliefs have fallen to the wayside in recent years. The idea that a player must always be punished for a lack of effort will hopefully be the next one to be taken out to the dumpster.