Baseball government seeks ways to reduce the time of games. One of them, reportedly, is going to be tested in the minors, namely that extra innings will begin with each team coming to bat starting with a man on second, on the house. That should be rejected as utter foolishness, of course, but there are ways to shorten games without diluting them.
“In baseball,” Joaquin Andujar once posited, “there’s just one word—you never know.” It was an expansion of a comment he’d once made to Sports Illustrated‘s Steve Wulf, in which he said his favourite English language word was “you never know.” For Andujar, who died at 62 Tuesday after a long battle with diabetes, his favourite English language word could also serve as the epitaph to his pitching career.
When Whitey Herzog wrote his memoir You’re Missin’ a Great Game, he included remarks about Alex Johnson that must have dropped every jaw in southern California who remembered Johnson’s tempestuous tenure (to put it politely) in an Angel uniform. To hear the White Rat say it, Johnson—who died 28 February at 72, after a battle with cancer—was anything but a handful, once you played things straight with him.
Jonathan Papelbon isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last professional athlete to go lewd and rude in the heat of a moment’s frustration when fans crawl all over him following a moment’s failure. But it doesn’t put him squarely in the right to suggest that Joe West, an umpire who is not allergic to the limelight, the grudge, or the self-appointment of being a law unto himself, was squarely in the wrong for escalating a simple misbehaviour into an unnecessary toxin.
Concerning Bo Porter’s summary execution by the Houston Astros last weekend, a few sobering thoughts:
1) I don’t know for certain, but it’s a reasonable guess that Porter’s days would have been numbered regardless, considering he was probably, really, the guy the Astros wanted to get them through the rebuild and little more. Rant Sports writer Lucas Davis isolates the point: “In all likelihood, the Astros were probably going to be headed in a different direction after season’s end anyway. Porter always seemed like the guy to get them through the bad times, not get them out of the bad times. The Astros will now look to hire the manager they want in place for the long haul. It will either be someone with past managerial success or a former player they have always viewed as a potential manager.”
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.