One minute Giancarlo Stanton managed to get back ahead of Nori Aoki in the National League All-Star voting. The next, he was gone, for four to six weeks and maybe more, thanks to a hamate bone fracture in his left hand. This is just what the Marlins don’t need in a year in which they were trying to build on 2014′s fifteen-game improvement.
A year earlier, Stanton showed a similar problem in a game against the Cubs, and the Marlins got him off the field post haste. That time, it turned out to be a simple contusion. This weekend, he showed distress in the same region against the Dodgers, but the Marlins left him in the game long enough to show real trouble. Makes no sense with a $325 million investment.
With Jose Fernandez due back from the disabled list and the Marlins still having an outside shot to reach the postseason, losing Stanton is just what they didn’t need. With one blow the Fish have gone from contenders to prospective sellers approaching the non-waiver trade deadline, and the National League’s side of the All-Star Game looks that much less engaging.
And for Stanton, the major leagues’ leading home run hitter with 27 when he went down, this—after he’d brought himself to bear following full recovery from last year’s season-ending fastball in the face—isn’t exactly the way he wanted 2015 to go. Nor did fans around the league who thrive on seeing the other guys’ big man doing what big men do, such as the near-500 foot shot he blasted against the Cardinals just days before his hamate bone went AWOL.
The Marlins got a little lucky in game one without Stanton Saturday. They managed somehow to jump Clayton Kershaw for two runs and two hits in the first inning, abetted by a throwing error and an unexpected wild pitch, and hung in for a 3-2 win. They won’t always get that fortunate without the big man.
“You can’t replace him with anybody,” said Tom Koehler, who contributed with seven gutsy innings keeping the Dodgers to two runs on on six hits with five punchouts that helped drop his home ERA to 1.68 on the year. ”
At the same time you can’t try to,” he continued. “Similar when we lost Jose last year. You can’t expect guys to go up there and try to be him . . . Everyone just needs to do their job and worry about being the best version of themselves that they can and hopefully that will make up for the difference.”
That may be easier said and done, and Koehler and his mates know it. Getting Fernandez back is big, but will it be enough to counteract Stanton’s loss for over a month and maybe more?
EXIT STATEMENTS . . .
In the immediate wake of Ryne Sandberg’s “resignation” as the Phillies’ manager (I still think he fired the team, basically), Rob Neyer compiled a list of famous or at least great last words from managers resigning or being canned. He kicked it off with the words of the last Phillies manager to resign, Eddie Sawyer, one game into the 1960 season: “I’m 49 and I want to live to be 50.”
Sawyer, of course, had managed the Phillies’ previous pennant winner . . . a decade earlier.
“Fourteen days?” complained Bob Lemon when George Steinbrenner fired him as the Yankees’ manager in 1982. “I had a bad spring. Why didn’t he fire me this spring?”
It might surprise you that Lemon is the only Yankee manager on Neyer’s survey. He must have forgotten Casey Stengel’s words when the Yankees executed him following the bitter 1960 World Series loss: “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”
On the other hand, Neyer unearthed the beauty Larry Bowa unleashed when the Padres sent him to the electric chair in 1988: “If you’re fired by (then-Mets general manager) Frank Cashen, you get worried. They’re pretty knowledgeable baseball people. But if you’re fired by these people, you don’t worry about it.” Ouch!
When the Phillies fired Sandberg’s predecessor Charlie Manuel, Manuel—who’d once said he “was either going to get a contract or be fired” when the Indians axed him in 2002, after he got a “we don’t want to talk about it” when asking how he fit in with the coming Indians youth movement—said, “I never quit nothin’ and I didn’t resign.”
“I’ve said the Serenity Prayer more times in the last seven weeks than I did in the last seven years,” said Clint Hurdle, now the Pirates’ manager, when the Rockies handed him his pink slip in 2009. Joe Altobelli, executed by the Orioles in 1985, may have given Bowa a lesson in exit statements: “I thought this was a class organisation, but I guess I was sadly mistaken.”
Of all the managers Steinbrenner fired in the topsy-turvy Yankee 1980s, few went out the way Dallas Green did—right after outfielder Luis Polonia was arrested in Milwaukee for a sexual escapade with a teenage girl in mid-August 1989. Already on the hot seat after his “Manager George” wisecrack earlier that month, Green got a summons to Steinbrenner’s hotel room.
Agitated because Green objected to Steinbrenner’s plans to fire the coaches, Green simply told Steinbrenner to “fire the head guy. That’s the way to do it.” After refusing a Steinbrenner entreaty to stay in the organisation, Green walked out and popped off to the Philadelphia Daily News: “George doesn’t know a fucking thing about the game of baseball. That’s the bottom line.”