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:
Squaring off against Clayton Kershaw in Game One, Jacob deGrom plain outpitched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ maestro. Squaring off against Zack Greinke in Game Five Thursday night, deGrom didn’t have his first-game mojo working. So he went to his belly. And it turned out that the slender fellow with the delta wing hair and the infectiously prankish grin had all the belly he needed.
It didn’t hurt that he and his New York Mets had Daniel Murphy on their side, either. That’s why they’re going to the National League Championship Series and the Dodgers are going home early for a third straight year, possibly with their manager’s head in a noose.
How good does it get for the Astros these days? Good enough, apparently, that a slowly swelling cabal of analysts think they—not the Yankees, not the Blue Jays, not the Royals—are the American League’s team to beat. They didn’t say that about the Astros in their best years in the National League.
Now, the Astros are a team that likes to go out on the town
We like to drink and fight and f@ck till curfew comes around
Then it’s time to make the trek
We’d better be back to buddy’s check
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.
What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.
In his 1970s days with the Milwaukee Brewers, George Scott, the big colourful first baseman who’d been a Red Sox favourite, had a chat with the team’s then co-owner Edmund Fitzgerald, about whose team Gordon Lightfoot did not write “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” “If we’re gonna win,” Scott told Fitzgerald, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager’s gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”
The Milwaukee Brewers have thrown out the first manager of the season. And while you expect that when a team starts slowly, you also can’t help wondering how often throwing out the manager is the kind of move made by the general manager who should be measured for execution and just might get it yet.
Ron Roenicke, a graduate of the Mike Scioscia school of coaching, wasn’t the garrulous type fellow alum Joe Maddon is, but he is an acute tactician and handler of players. The problem wasn’t Roenicke’s game thinking or personality balancing, the problem was and is the team he was handed from the outset.
Concerning the Los Angeles Dodger’s pool party to celebrate clinching the National League West in Arizona, a few observations:
1) There was a point during the season when the Dodgers had hit rock bottom, or close enough, while the Diamondbacks were hitting the high notes and the high standings. It isn’t exactly out of the bounds of reason to suggest that, on the assumption that the Dodgers had a resurrection in them, which wasn’t an assumption many were willing to make at that point in time, there could be nothing sweeter than to finish it at the Diamondbacks’ expense. Especially considering . . .
Jump not to any conclusions that not even a collarbone fracture in an earlier brawl this season sent Zack Greinke the message. Let’s run down how went the Tuesday night fights between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks — featuring a few rounds between several 1980s all-stars now among both teams’ brain trusts — for those who needed a scorecard to establish the, ahem, order of battle:
Late surges did the Detroit Tigers all the good in the world and the Los Angeles Angels none of it after Monday’s proceedings were finished. The Tigers stood with the American League Central in their hip pockets and the Angels stood with no place to go the rest of October other than playing out a two-game string with the Seattle Mariners and praying what they managed to do down the stretch this time would mean anything better than what they didn’t do in the season’s first month.
Now that Josh Beckett has won his first game as a Dodger, maybe it’s a good idea to see how those involved in the biggest deals—non-waiver trade deadline and waiver deadline period alike—have done since pulling those triggers. We’ll list them by the major players who moved: