Claire Smith, who was inducted into the writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame at July’s end, tells a charming story about Don Baylor, who died Monday at 68, after a long battle with multiple myeloma. As an Angel, Smith remembers, Baylor once threw a postgame fit and leveled the clubhouse spread. Not because he himself was upset after a hard loss, but to draw the press away from a rookie Angel who’d had a worse game.
To most appearances, when the Mets opened a weekend set with the Nationals Friday night , it looked like this could become the weekend in which the Mets were driven far enough down that they might not get back up again. Battered by the disabled list and losers of nine out of ten—including the previous weekend’s sweep by the Nats in New York—the Mets didn’t just look beaten, they looked half buried.
Let history record that the first run batted in of the 2016 season was delivered by a pitcher. At the plate. A pitcher who’d had only three runs batted in in his entire career (nine seasons) prior to last year, when he drove in seven. And his name wasn’t Madison Bumgarner.
Let history record further that Clayton Kershaw was the beneficiary of the worst Opening Day blowout in major leaguer history a day later. And, that Bryce Harper rocked the best postgame cap around the circuits. So far.
Jonathan Papelbon struggles with at least two things off the mound, apparently. He isn’t as good as he thinks with public apologies, and he’s no historian of Washington baseball. He showed both when he faced the press at the Nationals’ Space Coast Stadium spring digs and owned up over trying to choke Bryce Harper in the dugout on last September’s Fan Appreciation Day.
It may have been nothing compared to the Nats themselves showing how out of touch with things like reality they may well be.
They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:
The Cincinnati Reds have thrown out the first manager of the 2013 postseason. Three days after his Reds suffered a humiliating loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game, Dusty Baker’s tenure ended with his head on the proverbial plate.
And, with his resume showing a man who’s managed and won the most games without winning a World Series since the late Gene Mauch.
This is going to be a very large and hard pill for Dusty Baker to swallow. It’s bad enough that he couldn’t find a way for his Cincinnati Reds to push the San Francisco Giants down, back, and out of the postseason in this fifth division series game. But he’s entering the history book on the dime of the franchise he once pulled to within five outs of a World Series title a decade ago.
Did I say it was going to hover well and large over the Cincinnati Reds, when Brandon Phillips ran them out of what should have been a bigger first inning Tuesday, and Scott Rolen got so eager trying to field a short hop he chested the San Francisco Giants into a tenth-inning, life-saving Game Three win?
If I didn’t quite say that, Game Four may compel its saying just yet, with Pablo Sandoval tacking on the exclamation point with his mammoth two-run bomb in the top of the eighth, and Tim Lincecum merely signing off on what may yet prove these Reds’ death sentence.
Well, at least one of the teams who collapsed ignominiously last September has secured history’s failure to repeat itself. And when Freddie Freeman’s game-winning two-run homer dropped on the far side of the center field fence in the bottom of the ninth at Turner Field Tuesday, it couldn’t have seemed sweeter with retiring Hall of Famer in waiting Chipper Jones crossing the plate ahead of Freeman.
Ubaldo Jimenez got a five-game suspension for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch Sunday. The Players’ Association intends to back him as he appeals it. They are actually right about this. This turns out not to have been a mere sticks-and-stones issue. The backstory is Tulowitzki’s public criticism of Jimenez’s public gripe that the Rockies—who traded him to the Cleveland Indians during last season—offered and signed Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to big-dollar extensions after signing him to a mere “team-friendly” deal but not thinking of a comparable extension after he had his big year. Tulowitzki suggested once or twice recently that “a certain point (comes) in this game where you go play and you shut your mouth. And you don’t worry about what other people are doing.” He may have been absolutely right. Jimenez may have been absolutely wrong to fret over one or another man’s deal compared to his own. His pitching in 2011 would certainly suggest how wrong he was.