Were Mike Matheny's complaints about a rain delay justified?
There are few more frustrating experiences for fans than going to a game, watching four-plus innings of baseball, and then having a rainstorm set in that forces the grounds crew to bring out the tarp. Those rain delays are at least equally loathsome to the players, particularly when they happen amid a rally and dim their team’s momentum.
It’s understandable, then, that first-year Cardinals Mike Matheny was miffed by the fifth-inning hiatus during the game against the Marlins on Saturday. But what really irked Matheny was the MLBPA’s decision to hold a mandatory meeting with the Marlins, even as the showers moved away yielding clear skies and playable conditions.
Last Friday's faceoff between Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker could lead to a good old-fashioned managerial feud.
Compared to football, or even basketball, “manager-vs.-manager” is rarely part of the hype surrounding a baseball game. There’s not really a personality-clash equivalent of, say, Bill Belichick’s team going up against Rex Ryan's, at least not these days. There are plenty of baseball managers who are still characters—hi, Ozzie!—but relatively few who really impose their personality or style on a team in a dramatic, Billy Martin sort of way. Some run more than others, some leave pitchers in longer than others—but ultimately, over the course of a season, a manager is usually not a huge factor in a team’s success or failure.
I started thinking about this last week, when two very different dugout fixtures went up against each other more directly than is typical these days. Last Friday night, the Reds were paying the Cardinals, and with rain predicted, La Russa decided to sit scheduled starter Kyle McClellan and start the game with reliever Miguel Batista. Dusty Baker, meanwhile, had Edinson Volquez warmed up and ready to go before a two-hour pregame rain delay hit, after which he instead stuck Matt Maloney in the game. The Cardinals went on to win, 4-2.
In the aftermath of last night's mucked-up proceedings, some decisions make more sense than others.
We've had closers and set-up men, LOOGYs and the occasional ROOGY. So it seems fitting that the commissioner presiding over baseball's era of extreme specialization also is most effective in a limited role: Bud Selig closes tied games.
Mother Nature did what the Brewers, Dodgers, and Rays couldn't: stop Cole Hamels.
PHILADELPHIA-Artificial turf has all but been eradicated from the game of baseball, and cookie-cutter stadiums are a thing of the past. Although that makes purists rejoice, ugly old Veterans Stadium would have looked pretty good on Monday night.
Once a year, the game opens up and shows us its greatness. Last night was that time.
I was wrong, though. Last night wasn't just a night to watch baseball teams try and extend their season. It was a night to create baseball fans. It was a night to show off the very best of what makes baseball the greatest game ever invented, to teach a naif why we love this game: the high achievement, the strategy, the tactics, the skill and the drama. It wasn't a perfect night; one winning team made six errors, while a couple of games-including one ending with a game-winning homer-happened in weather that was unsuitable for baseball. There were no outstanding pitching performances, and one team was done for the night about an hour into the evening.
A scary moment in last Tuesday's Mets/Cardinals game has Joe wondering if there's too much playing in the rain these days.
A special thanks to Matt Tagliaferri, the genius behind the Tribe's innovative DiamondView system and our coordinator for the event. On Saturday, Matt was kind enough to give me and Will Carroll a tour of DiamondView, which couldn't have been more impressive if it had asked me if I wanted to play a nice game of chess. The sheer quantity of information held by DiamondView, along with an interface that makes using it comfortable, rather than intimidating, make it a powerful tool for player evaluation. The computer doesn't make the decisions; it makes it easier for the people who do so to make the right ones. That's how you integrate technology into the front office.
Thunderstorms could throw a monkey wrench into the best-laid plans of Terry Francona.
As recently as last week, I wrote about the bunt Derek Jeter laid down in the eighth inning of Game Five of the ALCS. As I was writing that column, I was trying to find out whether Jeter had sacrificed on his own--something he does--or whether Torre had called the bunt.
I tried to get inside Roger Clemens' head before his last final start, which turned out to be a mistake. I won't do that this time; I have no idea how this being his current final start will affect him. None. I do know that, this being Game Four, it is his final final start. There can't be a next final start unless.you know, I don't even want to imagine what kind of scenarios Bud Selig and Jeffrey Loria might concoct to bring us a Game Eight.
I do know that he was up in the zone in his Division Series outing against the Red Sox, which was his seventh or eighth "final start" after his final regular-season start, his final start at Fenway Park (which was only his next to final start at Fenway Park), his final start in the All-Star Game, his final start at Yankee Stadium (also just his next-to-final), his final start in a foreign country, his final start in front of a record-low crowd and his final start with nasty heartburn.
This matchup isn't as bad for the Marlins as Mike Mussina was. Clemens works up and down with the splitter and fastball, and has shown a fairly persistent reverse platoon split since joining the Yankees. With a bunch of right-handed hitters who can drive a good fastball but who will chase once they fall behind in the count, Clemens' success will again come down to getting ahead in the count and avoiding leaving his fastball up in the zone. There's not a lot of middle ground here; look for a 3.2-7-6-6-4-2 line, or a 7-4-1-1-2-10 one.
Mention his name in some quarters, however, and be prepared for a torrent of abuse. Mussina has seen his reputation sullied by the vagaries of the support he's received, particularly in the postseason. After last night, his career postseason ERA is 3.06 in 15 starts and one relief appearance, but he has just five postseason wins. In some circles, that's enough to diminish what has been a great career.