If baseball government intends to investigate the Thursday afternoon riots on the Comerica Park field in Detroit, they should begin by calling home plate umpire Carlos Torres to account and asking him one question. The question is, “What on earth were you not thinking when Michael Fulmer drilled Gary Sanchez in the top of the fifth?”
First, the Tigers all but threw the proverbial towel in on 2015 when they unloaded three otherwise key parts at the non-waiver trade deadline. Then, they showed they weren’t kidding by letting general manager Dave Dombrowski go just months before his current contract would expire.
“They basically told me they decided to change direction of leadership in the organization,” Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press a day later. ”It’s kind of like an end of an era. You never like to see it end.” But he said he saw it end when his assistant GM Al Avila showed up at the ballpark Tuesday and looked as though something just wasn’t right.
As regards the final All-Star voting—fans, players, etc.—minus the Last Man online vote, a few sobering thoughts:
1) Four Royals turned out to be voted as starters, after all, compared to eight Reds voted but six left remaining in the 1957 ballot box stuffing scandal. (Then-commissioner Ford Frick, we repeat, removed Wally Post and Gus Bell from the starting lineup in favour of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.) Apparently, the Kansas City stuffers just didn’t quite have what it took to set a new record for voting perfidy.
I didn’t cast my own All-Star vote until this past Thursday, but I’d like to think that I applied a little more intelligence and a lot less up yours to the exercise than seems to have been applied by those determined to stuff the American League’s starting lineup with Kansas City Royals whether or not said Royals (I’ll get to that shortly) actually deserve starting berths.
The one thing Detroit Tigers fans probably fear more than anything else happened Thursday night. The Baltimore Orioles got into the Tigers’ bullpen at all, never mind while holding a one-run lead.
The one thing Orioles fans knew above all else going in was that their power game was probably their most obvious asset, assuming they didn’t run into pitchers who could tie them up. Who knew the Orioles could perform any impression of the Kansas City Royals, never mind the one they performed in the bottom of the eighth, after homering their way for the most part to that one-run lead?
▪ SELF-POLICING?—Baseball government and baseball labour have a new agreement regarding actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances: first-time suspensions raised from fifty to eighty games; second-time suspensions raised from one hundred to 162 games. And, if you get bagged during a season, you’re not eligible to play in that postseason regardless of whether your suspension is finished by the time the postseason comes around. And, yes, there will be allowances if a player can prove he inadvertently used a banned substance, as in the case of (to name one) Guillermo Mota (now retired) a few years ago. Early conclusion, of course, is that the players are finally banding further together to clean up and police themselves on the matter, not to mention being less than thrilled about potential future Jhonny Peralta deals. Best breakdown on the new rules and the pluses and negatives comes from David Schoenfeld of ESPN’s Sweet Spot.
Let’s get one argument swept aside right here and now. Either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout would have been a worthy American League Most Valuable Player winner. In fact, there should be no argument about that.
You wouldn’t have disgraced Cabrera, who did win (and by a larger margin than the debate might have led you to believe), had the award gone to Trout. (As a matter of fact, Cabrera himself—the essence of grace in accepting the award—though Trout might win it.) And it doesn’t disgrace Trout that Cabrera has won the award.
Maybe the one thing absolutely guaranteed about 2012 was that Mike Trout would nail the American League’s Rookie of the Year honours, which was made official with Monday night’s announcement. It wasn’t even close.
Trout landed every last first place vote possible as the unanimous pick. Nobody else in the running—not Yoenis Cespedes, not Yu Darvish, not Wei-Yin Chen, not Jarrod Parker—got any higher than 45 percent of a share of the voting. Bryce Harper landed the National League’s Rookie of the Year honours in a slightly tighter competition, with five more votes than runner-up Wade Miley and 70 percent of a share to Miley’s 66. The remaining National League contenders—Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario, Norichika Aoki, Yonder Alonso (now, that’d be a name, if he had more than a little long ball power), Matt Carpenter, Jordan Pacheco—fell well behind Harper and Miley.
“We could not find our game in the World Series,” Miguel Cabrera mourned, while the San Francisco Giants partied heartily in Comerica Park’s visiting clubhouse. Actually, the Detroit Tigers found their game in Game Four, when they needed it most. The problem was finding it against these San Francisco Giants, who were so accustomed to playing with elimination a game away they didn’t know how to get comfortable on the threshold of a sweep.
Now, this is a novel position for the San Francisco Giants to assume. They’re not used to being up two games to none in a postseason set this year. This could be the start of something . . . weird?
The way they got into this position was probably weird enough even by the standards of a Giants team that’s spent at least half this postseason benefitting from the transdimensional. Can you remember any team winning a World Series game with nothing but a double play and a sacrifice fly to score the only two runs they proved necessary?