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April 17, 2014

Pebble Hunting

Every Manager's Face: The New Guys

by Sam Miller


Part 1
Part 2

Lotta new faces in the game this year, and those new faces have faces. Look at their faces:

Lloyd McClendon face, or: You see the earth doesn't just revolve around the sun, it also turns on its axis, at the same time, like this.

Act 1. What is that? Did we have that in Pittsburgh? Is that… is that a sheet of paper? With writing on it? Are those names? Are those the names of the players in this game? Are those letters next to the names identifying the positions those guys are playing? Is that some sort of diagram at the bottom, drawn to scale? How did they make that diagram? How did they reproduce it for the sheet of paper? Can I take this piece of paper home? Is it mine now? Can I see it? Am I allowed to take these things home and sell them? How is that sheet of paper staying up on the wall like that, defying gravity like that? Is that a pushpin through it? Is that a yellow pushpin like you’d get at Staples? And is that a cork bulletin board that the pushpin is stuck into? Are those screws affixing that bulletin board to the wall of the dugout? Are those 2 ½” star-drive cabinet screws? What is that, is that a #6 plastic EZ anchor holding it up there? Hey, does anybody know if this is a #6 plastic EZ anchor holding this bulletin board up? And, also, is that a wall? Is that a thick masonry structure forming a long enclosure? I don’t think we had that in Pittsburgh. I think we had to bring our own chairs or stools, and I think we sat under an open lean-to that we had to build out of the blankets and hobo sticks that we carried with us from town to town, and I think we wrote the lineup on our backup catcher’s back out of tobacco spit, and we just guessed what those lineups were. This Seattle place is really something else, would you...

Act 2. … look at, hey, what’s that, is that a phone? Is that an instrument for reproducing sounds at a distance? Is that...

Rick Renteria, or: This is how I kill a ladybug, and here's how I wring a chicken's neck.

Act 1. Gives signs to third-base coach. Renteria’s signs are simple and cheerful:

  • Bunt: 41 claps
  • Swing away: 42 claps
  • Steal: 43 claps
  • Hit ‘n’ run: 44 claps
  • Take a pitch: 45 claps
  • Red light for the runner: 46 claps
  • Suicide squeeze: 47 claps
  • Indicator: 48 claps

Act 2.

  • Two fists, squeezed and pumped: Lost count, reset.

Matt Williams, Brad Ausmus, or: Do I, I think, I sink, and I die.

Act 1:

[Brad Ausmus:] Hey bra, how we doin' man?
[Matt Williams:] All right.
[Brad Ausmus:] It's been a while man, life's so rad! This band's my favorite man, don't ya love 'em?
[Matt Williams] Yeah.
[Brad Ausmus:] Aw man, you want a beer?
[Matt Williams:] All right.
[Brad Ausmus:] Aw man, this is the best. I'm so glad we're all back together and stuff. This is great, man. Hey, did you know about the party after the show?
[Matt Williams:] Yeah.
[Brad Ausmus:] Aw man, it's gonna be the best, I'm so stoked! Take it easy bra'.

Act 2 (Ausmus). For brief moments—you can see them if you watch closely—worry enters Ausmus’ mind, darkness enters his outlook, and unhandsomeness enters his handsome, handsome countenance:

Act 2 (Williams).

Bryan Price, or: Dusty's bowl of toothpicks ain't here anymore, bubbo.

Act 1. So this is it, then. Baseball. Sure is a lot of it. Lot of foul balls. Lot of throws over to first. Lot of bluffed bunts. Sure are a lot of pitchers getting set, peering in for the sign, holding their set, shaking off a sign, getting their sign, holding their set, peeking at the runner, holding their set before the batter calls time and we start over. Sure is a lot of discussion about which infielder is going to cover second on a comebacker. Sure are a lot of tappers down the line, and sure are a lot of umpires disinterestedly motioning “foul” out of contractual obligation. Sure are a lot of Attendance Quizzes on the big screen out there. Sure is a lot of ball rubbing. Sure is a lot of broken-bat replacing. Boy, there sure are a lot of signs from the third base coach to the batter in swing-away situations. There sure are a lot of visits to the mound. There sure are a lot of foul tips that ding the catcher, and there sure is a lot of dusting off the plate to give him a little bit of a breather. Sure seem to be a lot of pitchers stepping off just to look the runner back. Sure are a lot of fielders holding the tag on the baserunner while he gets up from his slide, keeping his foot on the bag every single time to the point where it seems pretty unlikely the fielder’s going to get anything out of this move, ever. Sure is a lot of brushing off the dirt on your uniform, considering it’s just dirt, and it’s just a uniform. Sure are a lot of ankle guards that need to be taken off when the runner gets to first. Sure are a lot of jackets that need to be put on when the pitcher gets to first. Sure are a lot of wasted two-strike sliders thrown to pitchers. Sure are a lot of signs being shaken off. Sure are a lot of discussions at the mound about the signs. Sure do spend a lot of time waiting for routine fly balls to come down. Sure is a lot of sun out here. Sure are a bunch of fans cheering for the other team.

Act 2. Wish I had a toothpick to chew on.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

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