Yes, Yogi, you can observe a lot just by watching. Herewith some of my observations over the early weeks of spring training:
You can all relax. For now. The National League adopting the designated hitter is mere speculation. For now. Even Commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who seems decisive one moment and hesitant the next, particularly on very serious issues, says the “most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” For now.
Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.
Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:
Standing by your man and trusting his gut is one of the most admirable qualities a baseball manager can have. Until or unless even his gut runs out of sustenance. When Jacob deGrom’s gut ran out of sustenance in the fifth inning Wednesday night, Terry Collins was caught flatfoot.
Open a World Series with an inside-the-park home run thanks to an unexpected brain vapour by the opposing battery and a pair of outfielders. Finish the game after fourteen innings and with a sacrifice fly.
These Kansas City Royals may have done crazier things than that in their two-season-and-maybe-counting return to American League supremacy. But they’re not about to bet on it.
Not to take anything away from Jacob deGrom, Daniel Murphy, and all the New York Mets who did the little things right Tuesday night. (And, in Murphy’s case, one not-so-little thing even more right.) But the way the Chicago Cubs finished the evening on the brink of elimination was just too Cubs for comfort.
Maybe Cub Country, that long-battered, long-picked-on nation of Jobs, can find some small comfort in knowing that it didn’t happen with the Cubs five outs from the World Series. And maybe Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was carrying a flashlight, too.
This was the kind of situation the Nats always want, Stephen Strasburg striking out thirteen Phillies, and Bryce Harper smashing a game-winning double in the bottom of the twelfth Saturday afternoon. And it didn’t mean a thing anymore when it ended in a 2-1 Nats win.
Because almost an hour before Harper tagged Phillies reliever Colton Murray with one out, Mets closer Jeurys Familia finished the Mets’ destruction of the Reds in Cincinnati to clinch the none-too-potent National League East. The division just about all the experts picked the Nats to run away with, all the way to a World Series crown, even.
It got this bad for the Phillies this week when the New York Mash (er, Mets) came to town and blew them away in a four-game sweep: interim manager Pete Mackinin came to the postgame press conference after Thursday night’s thrashing armed with numbers. And, with the baleful conclusion, “We’re giving up way too many runs.”
If Jacob deGrom ever had a speck of doubt that his teammates could and would have his back, that speck was obliterated Monday night. It’s not every pitcher—at his level or otherwise—who can have a rare putrid start, leave his team in the hole by five, and then watch with his own jaw joining every other one hitting the floor in Citizens Bank Park as his Mets did to the Phillies what, not so long ago, the Phillies did to their opposition with long-since-gone aplomb.
Boys will be boys, in baseball and elsewhere, and grown men will be boys, too. But some of what the Show Me State’s boys and girls seem to be showing don’t seem to be the kind of thing you’d like showing.
If the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office isn’t facing an investigation into whether people therein hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal data networks, Kansas City fans are gleefully stuffing online All-Star ballot boxes in favour of the Royals regardless of whether the players in question deserve to be in the starting lineup.