Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
Baseball’s offseason is many things, and dull is rarely one of them, but this offseason’s winter meetings among the major league organisations could have been smothered by the activity that preceded it. Could have been—particularly in light of the Yankees’ doings in signing Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury while letting Robinson Cano chase the dollars they weren’t quite willing to show—but weren’t. There are various takes floating about regarding the doings and undoings; here, for whatever they’re worth, are mine:
So you thought the Cincinnati All-Star ballot box stuffing scandal was scandalous? Try explaining the San Francisco All-Star ballot box stuffing this year. Once you’ve done that, explain to me how and why a guy (Pablo Sandoval) who’s only played in 44 games with decent numbers gets the fan vote to start at third base over the arguable first-half National League most valuable player (David Wright, New York Mets) who’s carried a team with an injury and inconsistency-wracked offence into the thick of the pennant races. Unless you think a 1.013 OPS through this writing indicates a player worse than one with an .848 OPS.
Most baseball analysts blurt out observations that beg for further examination here and there. Ken Rosenthal, the Fox Sports writer and commentator, and one of the best analysts of the breed, is one of them. Here he is, musing about Don Mattingly’s growth as a manager in light of having had “three strikes” against him when he took the command post for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year: He had never managed in the majors or minors. He had to exert greater authority over players who knew him only as a coach. And he had been a great player — a drawback, seeing as how great players rarely make great managers.
* Bernie Miklasz (St. Louis Post Dispatch) remembers Bob Forsch—who died at 61, a week after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game Seven of the World Series—as a straight shooter who was an underrated pitcher . . . and maybe one of the few Cardinals who went out like a professional when the rest of the team was too busy imploding in Game Seven of the 1985 Series . . .
Nelson Cruz’s walkoff grand slam in Game Two of the American League Championship Series? Gone with his other eight postseason record-tying bombs. Ian Kinsler’s theft of second, channeling Dave Roberts, to spark a World Series-tying rally in the first place? You won’t even find it on the police blotter now. The Rally Squirrel? Who the hell needed him?
Albert Pujols channeling Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson in Game Three? Fuggedabouddit. Derek Holland’s masterpiece pitching in Game Four of the World Series? Prove it. (And those were the two events that helped turn this World Series from good to great in the first place.)
Who could have imagined this kind of World Series game—Yogi Berra, or Rube Goldberg? How many times have you heard Berra’s Law—it ain’t over until it’s over—cited and quoted, and how many times have you seen it proven only too true?
That many? Well, you didn’t really see it until you saw it, and if you were watching Game Six of this World Series Thursday night, oh, brother, did you saw it.
“If that’s not the best postseason game of all time,” Lance Berkman huffed and puffed, when it was over in a 10-9 St. Louis Cardinals win that not even the Cardinals, never mind the Texas Rangers, can quite believe happened, “I don’t know what is.”
The Milwaukee Brewers, with apologies to Dave Anderson, died with their boots. They were buried at the mercy of the St. Louis Cardinals’ seemingly bottomless bullpen. The officiating minister was a fellow who once seemed so burned out by baseball that he thought a ring on his cell phone while sitting in a Burger King, buried in the San Diego organization, informing him he’d been traded to the Cardinals, was a practical joke, at first.
Nobody’s laughing at the Rev. David Freese now. But everyone except citizens of Milwaukee might be laughing with the National League Championship Series’s most valuable player.
With the second-best regular-season record in baseball, the New York Yankees couldn’t out-hit their pitching issues while the Detroit Tigers figured out ways to hang in against both the Empire Emeritus‘s batting holes and pitching inconsistencies. With the best regular season in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies couldn’t out-pitch their hitting issues, while the tenacious St. Louis Cardinals—who weren’t even supposed to be in the postseason picture, you may remember—figured out ways to make the ballyhooed Four Aces resemble the Four Lads.