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03-02

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69

The BP Broadside: The Final Broadside
by
Steven Goldman

02-27

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11

The BP Broadside: Zimmerman, Rendon, and the Nagging Itch to Scratch a McQuinn
by
Steven Goldman

02-24

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98

The BP Broadside: Say It Ain't So, Braun!
by
Steven Goldman

02-22

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27

The BP Broadside: Manny Ramirez Through the Wrong End of the Telescope
by
Steven Goldman

02-17

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6

The BP Broadside: The Kid's Biggest Moment
by
Steven Goldman

02-16

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8

The BP Broadside: Fernandomania and Linsanity
by
Steven Goldman

02-10

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21

The BP Broadside: The Latino
by
Steven Goldman

02-08

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19

The BP Broadside: Pardon Me, Sir, But Have You Ever Even TALKED To A Female Baseball Fan?
by
Steven Goldman

02-06

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7

The BP Broadside: The Vanishing American League Pinch-Hitter
by
Steven Goldman

02-03

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74

The BP Broadside: Josh Hamilton and His Persecutors
by
Steven Goldman

02-01

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6

The BP Broadside: My Seven Days of Nervous Baseball and Other Stories
by
Steven Goldman

01-30

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20

The BP Broadside: Jorge Posada and the Third-String Yankees
by
Steven Goldman

01-27

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7

The BP Broadside: Who Cares if the Tigers Got Fat?
by
Steven Goldman

01-17

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3

The BP Broadside: 1987: The Silver Jubilee, Part I
by
Steven Goldman

12-27

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7

The BP Broadside: The Rudy Pemberton Project Goes to Baltimore
by
Steven Goldman

12-20

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12

The BP Broadside: Jersey Scrooge to Darvish: Drop Dead
by
Steven Goldman

12-14

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4

The BP Broadside: Cottleston Pirates
by
Steven Goldman

12-09

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18

The BP Broadside: The Best First Baseman in Angels History
by
Steven Goldman

12-06

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22

The BP Broadside: The Singular Love of Manny Ramirez
by
Steven Goldman

11-30

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13

The BP Broadside: Bobby No Valentine for Pitchers
by
Steven Goldman

11-11

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4

The BP Broadside: The Ramos and Rhem Kidnappings
by
Steven Goldman

11-08

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25

The BP Broadside: Tumbling in the Twin Cities
by
Steven Goldman

11-04

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25

The BP Broadside: Exorcising the Ghost of Leo
by
Steven Goldman

10-31

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6

The BP Broadside: Tony LaRussa and the Hall of Fame Screw
by
Steven Goldman

10-21

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62

The BP Broadside: In Defense of Tony LaRussa
by
Steven Goldman

10-07

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22

The BP Broadside: The ALDS Goat Remains Masked and Anonymous
by
Steven Goldman

09-23

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15

The BP Broadside: In Which the Cardinals Suffer an Unlikely Loss
by
Steven Goldman

09-20

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14

The BP Broadside: Oh, To Live on Closer Mountain
by
Steven Goldman

09-16

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19

The BP Broadside: You Don't Need a Prince, Just a Few Paupers
by
Steven Goldman

09-14

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41

The BP Broadside: In Which the Commish is Eviscerated
by
Steven Goldman

09-08

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9

The BP Broadside: Houston's Last Stand in the Central?
by
Steven Goldman

09-01

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6

The BP Broadside: Heyward You Show the Braves the Way to the Playoffs?
by
Steven Goldman

08-31

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6

The BP Broadside: The Birds Need a Leather Fetish
by
Steven Goldman

08-30

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30

The BP Broadside: Judge a Player by His Performance, Not the Company He Keeps
by
Steven Goldman

08-23

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14

The BP Broadside: Catch a Falling Starlin
by
Steven Goldman

08-18

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17

The BP Broadside: While Scioscia Slept
by
Steven Goldman

08-16

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29

The BP Broadside: "Compiler" Jim Thome for the Hall of Fame
by
Steven Goldman

08-08

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10

The BP Broadside: If You Found Daniel Murphy Under Your Bed, Would You Pull Him Out or Put Him Back?
by
Steven Goldman

08-01

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106

The BP Broadside: Trade Deadline Winners
by
Steven Goldman

07-28

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8

The BP Broadside: Farewell to the Last Golden Beltran
by
Steven Goldman

07-26

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20

The BP Broadside: The Mariners are Simultaneously Sinking and Treading Water
by
Steven Goldman

07-21

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16

The BP Broadside: David Cone, All Is Forgiven
by
Steven Goldman

07-19

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30

The BP Broadside: Joe Girardi's Comfort Thing
by
Steven Goldman

07-12

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19

The BP Broadside: Memento Mori, Clarence Budington Kelland and Joe Crede
by
Steven Goldman

07-08

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21

The BP Broadside: In the Laundry Room
by
Steven Goldman

07-05

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26

The BP Broadside: Leave My Mind Alone!
by
Steven Goldman

06-29

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12

The BP Broadside: Pineda to Infinity and Beyond
by
Steven Goldman

06-24

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43

The BP Broadside: The Hubris of Riggleman
by
Steven Goldman

06-23

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31

The BP Broadside: Billions for Bankers, But Not One Penny for the McCourts!
by
Steven Goldman

06-19

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15

The BP Broadside: Firing the Manager is the Last Refuge of the Incompetent
by
Steven Goldman

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January 27, 2012 3:00 am

The BP Broadside: Who Cares if the Tigers Got Fat?

7

Steven Goldman

Dour commentary on the Prince Fielder deal is harshing Steve's buzz. Plus: Alan Trammell's peak value defined.

I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket
Back in the mid-1930s, Irving Berlin wrote a song for a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers picture called, “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket”:

I've been a roaming Romeo
My Juliets have been many
But now my roaming days have gone
Too many irons in the fire
Is worse than not having any
I've had my share and from now on:
I'm putting all my eggs in one basket
I'm betting everything I've got on you

That Berlin chestnut (the Yankees can feel free to use it—or anything else—in place of Berlin’s “God Bless America” at the first available seventh-inning stretch) came to mind when the news of Prince Fielder’s nine-year, $214 million contract poked its way through the hairy fabric of my reality. The Tigers were an easy pick to repeat as American League Central champions even before signing Fielder due to the strength of their pitching staff and the bland quality of the competition. Having compensated for the loss of Martinez plus something extra, they can contemplate rampaging through the division and then blasting their way deeper into the postseason than they did last year.









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January 17, 2012 3:00 am

The BP Broadside: 1987: The Silver Jubilee, Part I

3

Steven Goldman

Anniversaries that won't be celebrated at a ballpark near you, from "Don Mattingly Arbitration Day" to "Milwaukee Brewers Night of the Big Tease."

Twenty-five years ago, the 1987 season became known as the Year of the Home Run. It seems odd now that a jump in major-league home-run production from 37.5 per at-bat to 32.3 brought cries not of “steroids!” but of “rabbit ball!” Perhaps we were naïve then—Jose Canseco was already in the league. In addition to being a year in which both MVP votes still deeply offend me (hey, Hall of Fame voters: Alan Trammell lost the award to George Bell by 332-311, including just 16-12 in first-place votes. Is it possible that just four voters could have been wrong?), it was a year in which Wade Boggs hit 24 home runs, four players went 30-30, and Mark McGwire took the rookie home-run record and shattered it into 49 pieces.

McGwire’s is at least one accomplishment that won’t be getting a big ballpark remembrance this year. In addition, here are 16 1987 first-half anniversaries that probably will go unnoticed before the All-Star break.

February 17: Don Mattingly breaks a record set just a few days earlier by Jack Morris by winning the largest arbitration award in history, $1.975 million. Said Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, “'The monkey is clearly on his back… He has to deliver a championship for the Yankees like Reggie Jackson did when he was the highest-paid Yankee. The pressure is on him. I expect he'll carry us to a World Series championship, or at least the pennant… He's like all the rest of them now. He can't play little Jack Armstrong of Evansville, Ind. He goes into the category of modern-player-with-agent looking for the bucks. Money means everything to him.” At this time, the owners were knee-deep in collusion, and Mattingly and Morris were among the few players cashing in. P.S.: In 2005, the Yankees will pay Tony Womack $2 million as a free agent.

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December 27, 2011 9:30 am

The BP Broadside: The Rudy Pemberton Project Goes to Baltimore

7

Steven Goldman

Dan Duquette is going to be good for the Orioles if he can remember some old bad (but potentially good) habits.

Dan Duquette is going to be good for the Baltimore Orioles. Sure, we all laughed when everyone who has been in baseball this century turned down the opportunity to serve as the most visible private in Peter Angelos’s imbecile army, leaving the owner with no choice but to hire Duquette, a man who had been out of baseball practically since the last century. The former general manager of the Expos and Red Sox had not commanded a front office since ending an eight-year stay in Boston in 2001. His version of the Sox had reached the playoffs three times but had won only one division title and, of course, failed to snap "The Curse". This guy was going to be the innovative, creative executive that would free the Orioles from years of ignominy?

I can’t tell you the answer to that question. What I can tell you is that the qualities that made Duquette a poor fit for Boston will make him helpful to the Orioles.

When we began work on the Boston Red Sox book that eventually became Mind Game, we internally referred to our work as “The Rudy Pemberton Project.” “How is Rudy going?” people would ask me each day. “Rudy Pemberton” was a reference to one of Duquette’s many projects. Perhaps because the Yawkey Trust was a very different kind of boss, with far shallower pockets, than John Henry was for Theo Epstein, or maybe because he just loved bargain-shopping, Duquette was seemingly obsessed with turning over rocks to find secret stars. Rather than compete with the Yankees for the big names, he’d try to fill out his roster by attempting Hail Mary passes on players like Pemberton, Morgan Burkhart, Izzy Alcantara, Tuffy Rhodes, Dwayne Hosey, Calvin Pickering, and, on the pitching side, Robinson Checo.

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Steven Goldman is cynical about everything, including Yu Darvish. And if he had a lawn, you would be invited to get off of it.

We could all feel very silly in a few short months. As I write these words, the world, or at least the fraction of the world that lives its life on Twitter, is eagerly awaiting the news of which team submitted the winning bid on Yu Darvish. No doubt by the time you read this, the news will be known. I’m not sure that it will change very much, because the risk of post-Christmas letdown and buyer’s remorse is still the same regardless of which uniform the pitcher ultimately wears.

Indeed, as I wrote the preceding paragraph, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote that the Texas Rangers have won the rights to Darvish. This is perfect, because the Rangers were the team of David Clyde, one of those examples of post-Christmas letdown I referred to above. Now, before the comments section fills up with responses saying, “That is a poor analogy! Darvish is a seasoned pro! Clyde was only 18 and skipped right from high school to the bigs! Of course he was disappointing!” allow me to preempt at least some of you:

Some plans have a greater chance than others of working out. Very few are predestined to fail. If the Rangers had correctly scouted Clyde, there was no reason why an aggressive promotion couldn’t have worked out. Sure, the only 18-year-old that has pitched with real success in the big leagues since the 19th century is Bob Feller, but that doesn’t mean Clyde couldn’t have been the second. The list of 19-year-olds to do well in the majors is long and distinguished and includes relatively recent pitchers such as Dwight Gooden and Felix Hernandez. Perhaps that one-year difference is crucial, but so few teams have risked it that we can’t know for sure—the complete list of 18-year-olds to pitch in the big leagues from 1970 to present is all of four hurlers long, and none have come since 1978, perhaps because of the chilling effect of two of those failed high-school-to-the-majors experiments, Clyde and Mike Morgan. Schrödinger-like, the possibility existed that they could have come out of the box as live aces instead of DOA doormats (Morgan did eventually become a fine pitcher).

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December 14, 2011 4:08 am

The BP Broadside: Cottleston Pirates

4

Steven Goldman

In one key regard, the young Pirates are older than you think.

In A.A. Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh stories, there is a little song called “Cottleleston Pie,” which is the song Pooh sings when he’s confused by some piece of information:

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.







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Albert Pujols is very different from anything the Halos have had before.

I caught myself about to write this sentence: “Albert Pujols will be the best first baseman in Angels history.” This is a tautological statement, completely unnecessary: with rare exceptions, Pujols is the best first baseman in anybody’s history. In terms of career warp, he is already 31st on the all-time list, with only a couple of first-sackers leading him:
 


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December 6, 2011 9:00 am

The BP Broadside: The Singular Love of Manny Ramirez

22

Steven Goldman

General managers would be wise to to avoid making a commitment to a player whose only real commitment is to himself.

As a foolish youth, envisioning life as a swashbuckling adventure akin to an Errol Flynn film rather than days of drudgery punctuated by bouts of physical and emotional constipation only occasionally relieved by moments of elation and release, I imagined that love was caring about someone more than you cared about yourself. My lady, I will do anything for you: take that bullet, throw my body in front of that train, and go to the store to buy you tampons at 3 AM.

This attitude tended to bring me into relationships with the wrong kind of women, specifically the ones who would let me do all of those things. They were beautiful, intelligent, witty—all wonderful things that draw me like a moth to a supernova to this very day—but they were also entirely willing to accept my extraordinary exertions on their behalf, radiating small doses of noncommittal affection and praise in return. There was always one more superhuman feat for me to perform—“Fetch me the singular lotus blossom that grows on the frozen top of Mons Olympus"—before I could receive the ultimate reward, which in this case was not sex (though that could be part of it), but the full expression and permanent possession of their love.

I never did get there. The insurmountable obstacle, I eventually realized, was that I was always competing with a rival I could never defeat, someone she would always love more than she loved me: herself. Thus, to go along with one of my cardinal rules of existence:

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Did the Red Sox get the man they really needed?

I just don’t think it matters much. The Red Sox apparently have their manager in Bobby Valentine, and it’s good to see one of the most active and flamboyant and active managers in recent memory get a fresh start with a good organization. Valentine was once one of the youngest managers in the game—he became the manager of the Rangers at 35—but other things got in the way, and after a ten-year hiatus that included stops in Japan and ESPN, he’ll be picking up his career at 62.  He was once a young manager for a young team—Valentine’s Rangers broke in Oddibe McDowell, Pete Incaviglia, Ruben Sierra, Edwin Correa, Jose Guzman, Mitch Williams, and Bobby Witt, among others, all at once. Now he’ll be an old manager for a veteran team.

Just as Casey Stengel said that you had to have a catcher or you’d have a lot of passed balls, a team has to have a manager because... well, it’s not exactly clear at this point, given win expectancy studies showing that most managers regularly botch games with bunt, steal, and intentional walk signals. I suppose it’s because without a manager, Albert Pujols might call his own inexplicable hit and run plays or your starting pitchers with 6.41 ERAs will sit in the clubhouse and clog their arteries with chicken-fried chicken fat with a side of batter-coated human fingers. The inmates can’t run the asylum, that is clear. One of Valentine’s good points is that he’s a restless, creative character who likes to draw attention to himself. He’s both the inmate and the asylum, and Boston has not seen that flavor of manager since Stengel himself grew sullen and morose managing a bankrupt Boston Braves team that he had to loan money to so it could make payroll.

That’s all good—better than an unwanted sequel like “Don Zimmer II: The Gerbil Reborn”—but there might not be much more than entertainment value in the move for the time being. As much as Valentine can be a progressive manager who loves to move players in and out of the game, he has never shown a consistent ability to get a team to overcome a conspicuous lack of talent. His sole World Series team, the 2000 Mets, far outplayed its Pythagorean record on the merits of some excellent relief work, a starting rotation that was that fronted by three lefties having strong seasons, and Mike Piazza. It was also blessed by having its worst player, shortstop Rey Ordonez, break his arm early in the season. Ordonez was a mirage Valentine could never see through (or if he did, couldn’t bring himself to quit), and his injury allowed the team to turn the position over to Kurt Abbot, Melvin Mora, and Mike Bordick. That wasn’t great either, but it probably gave the Mets a couple of wins over what Ordonez would have provided. Fate is not always so kind to a manager as to save him from his worst inclinations.

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November 11, 2011 10:15 am

The BP Broadside: The Ramos and Rhem Kidnappings

4

Steven Goldman

A look back on Flint Rhem's 'kidnapping' in a time when America was very much like Venezuela is today

Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in Venezuela, and I am, as I assume most baseball fans are, eagerly awaiting news and hoping that he will be released unharmed so that he can return to the United States and continue a promising career that saw him hit .288/.342/.471 in the second half. This is an unusual story for me to write about, because it’s not a baseball problem you can analyze. There are no statistics to point to, no Babe Ruth story for me to use by way of analogy. There is only waiting and the hope that the criminals make clear their demands, get what they want—or better, get caught—and Ramos gets away without a scratch.

The lawlessness of Venezuela is strange for us to contemplate, and yet, it wasn’t so long ago that Americans experienced a similar kind of uncertainty in their everyday lives. The Great Depression unleashed a wave of bank robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes in our own country. All of the criminals that we now make movies about—Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Al Capone, Dutch Schultz, and the rest—were at large in the land because of the twin scourges of prohibition and economic deprivation. Kidnappings were not uncommon, the most prominent of them the 1932 abduction and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son. The heightened sense of danger that arose from this and other crimes helped spur the rise to prominence of the FBI.  

It was this environment—when it was possible that one might encounter a gangland hit going off in the local drugstore on the way to work—on which Flint Rhem intended to blame his own failings. Charles Flint Rhem pitched for the Cardinals in the 1920s and ‘30s. He threw a powerful fastball, a curve, and used a knuckleball as a change of pace. He was a good pitcher at times—in 1926, he led the National League in victories (20) with a 3.21 ERA compiled in a hitter’s park against a league average ERA of 4.54. He was also a problem drinker and, therefore, often unreliable.

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November 8, 2011 3:49 am

The BP Broadside: Tumbling in the Twin Cities

25

Steven Goldman

After suffering through a miserable season that included a storm of injuries and poor roster construction, the Twins fired their GM.

As an aficionado of failure and perversity in ballclubs, I was greatly disappointed when the Minnesota Twins stalled out at 99 losses. The 100-loss mark is the traditional mark of abject failure in baseball. The Twins haven’t fallen so far since 1982, a transitional year in which the team first gave full-time jobs to several future stars, including Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Frank Viola. Given that the Twins were a very young team (average age of 25.2) sorting through their options, this last-place finish in the AL West was about as healthful as such seasons can be.

More often, though, an extreme losing season serves as a final wakeup call to a team that has been doing something wrong, except in the special case of teams like the Orioles, Pirates, and Royals, in which 90-plus losses are the equivalent of an airplane’s low-altitude warning alarm continuing to sound long after the pilot has ditched into the Hudson River. Having seen their record decline over four seasons from 97-64 and a playoff berth to 71-91 and not even a copy of the MLB home game, Cubs ownership finally got the hint and tore the nameplate off the general manager’s door for the first time since 2002. Similarly, the Astros, having endured a third straight losing season that saw them lose 106 games, a total surpassed only by 16 post-war teams, fired—oh, wait: The Astros didn’t do anything. Pretend I was talking about the Angels.

 

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November 4, 2011 8:50 am

The BP Broadside: Exorcising the Ghost of Leo

25

Steven Goldman

Theo Epstein can put an end to the Cubs' managerial merry-go-round.

Back in February, I wrote about how the Chicago Cubs had never had an iconic general manager. The dismissal of Mike Quade is an opportunity to ask a similar question of the Cubs. It’s not that they have never had a great manager—Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy got his start in the majors with Chicago, taking the team to the 1929 World Series, in the process becoming the first and last manager to get Hack Wilson focused on baseball, but McCarthy was forced out in a power struggle with Rogers Hornsby 71 years ago. That’s a lot of baseball under the bridge without a skipper putting his mark on the team in some way.

Some might point to another Hall of Fame skipper, Leo Durocher, who coached the team from 1966 to 1972, but despite the Lip’s helping the Cubs go from 50-103 in 1966 to 92-70 in 1969, he never did win anything with the Cubs, clashed with key players such as Ron Santo, and wasn’t exactly focused, wandering off on the team from time to time to deal with personal matters that somehow seemed more important than his job. Durocher is also, correctly, far more identified with the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants than he is with the Cubbies.

Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker, Don Zimmer, Charlie Grimm, and Jim Frey all had their moments, and of course Frank Chance and Gabby Hartnett shone as player-managers, but the Cubs have never had the great skipper that dominates the memory of other clubs. Instead, they’ve had Bob Scheffing, Bob Kennedy, the College of Coaches, Jim Essian, and now—fairly or unfairly—Mike Quade.  

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You'd think Tony LaRussa would go right from the press conference podium to the Hall of Fame, but the way the process has been designed, he'll have to get in line.

Tony LaRussa’s retirement points out a real problem with the Hall of Fame’s current procedures on voting in managers. Current managers fall under the jurisdiction of the Expansion Era Committee, an appointed 16-member group. That committee is building up a massive backlog, and there is a real clock on their deliberations: the mortality of the candidates.

The Hall has quite sensibly decided that managerial candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following their retirement rather than having to go through the standard five-year waiting period. All of the recently retired managers who will receive scrutiny—Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella, and Cito Gaston, all of whom hung ‘em up after the 2010 season, and now LaRussa—meet this criterion. This is a good thing; if they were forced to wait until 2016 or 2017 to receive their nod, they would all be in their early to mid-70s, and the actuarial tables argue that even if these gentlemen had lived long enough to see their names placed before the committee, they might not have gotten to enjoy the honor for very long. While putting a dead man into the Hall satisfies our sense of historical fealty and completeness, it doesn’t really do the enshrinee any good and makes for a rather dull and depressing induction ceremony to boot.

There is, however, an additional complication. The Hall, in its brilliance, has restricted the Expansion Committee (as well as the separate “Pre-Integration” and “Golden” committees) to holding a vote only every three years. It last met in December of 2010 and considered a ballot that included exactly one manager, Billy Martin (Pat Gillick was the only one of 12 former players, owners, and executives to get a nod). The Expansion Committee will next meet in the winter of 2013 to vote on candidates for 2014 induction.

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