And That Happened

Rangers 11, Indians 9; Rangers 10, Indians 5: Lots of runs, Marlon Byrd went 4 for 4 in the day game, blah, blah, blah, but I wanna talk about something else. As I mentioned before, I’m re-reading Nice Guys Finish Last. I’m being really pokey about it, putting it down, reading other stuff, forgetting it for a week and going back again. It just lends itself to that, ya know? Anyway, a few days ago I read a passage I hadn’t thought anything of the first time I read it — probably because I was a kid — but that I can’t shake. In it, Durocher is lamenting the decline of the playing manager, which is how he began his career. The book was published in 1975, the year Frank Robinson became the Indians’ manager. Take it away, Leo:

I get a kick out of reading how difficult it is going to be for Frank Robinson to manage the Cleveland Indians and also serve as their designated hitter. Since when has swinging a bat every half hour or so become so taxing on the brain? My bet is that Frank’s very presence in the lineup will give the club a shot in the arm. The Cleveland situation was made for Frank Robinson, and Frank Robinson was made for them. A good baseball city, hungry for a winner. A city which has become predominantly black . . . I always said that when it came to naming the first colored manager, Rule #1 would still apply. It was going to be the man who was in the right place at the right time.

A man of his time, I guess, but no less disturbing to see it written like that. Far more disturbing, however, was how Leo used the Robinson bit to note how he thought that Maury Wills would have become the first black manager: “Maury has everything it takes to make a good one,” Durocher writes. Of course, Wills went on to become perhaps the worst manager in the history of baseball with the Mariners a few years later. There’s no point to this other than to say that times and people change, it’s September, and at some point you really have to quit caring about Indians-Rangers games in which no one decides to pitch.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 0: Clay Buchholz seems to be figuring this Major League stuff out (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Two homers for Pedroia. Papi hit a homer too. If he hits one more, he sets the DH record. The next seven games are at home, however, so we’re not likely to see fans holding up asterisk signs for this momentous record. The asterisks would not be for the PED thing, though, because no one really cares about that. They’d be in protest of his status as a full time DH which is an affront to good and true baseball the world over. OK, nowhere in the world but the NL and the Central League, but if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Well, would you?!

Cubs 9, Pirates 4: The AP game story referred to the Pirates as “hapless.” I think hap-quotient is a lazy post-hoc rationalization for a team’s performance. There have been plenty of teams that have won a lot of games with very little hap, and vice-versa. The 1988 Braves? Tons of hap. Lost 106 games. The 1970 Orioles, on the other hand, were a great team, but were almost totally hap-free. You can look it up.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 3: Jon Rauch was tagged with a blown save despite entering the game in the sixth inning. If I were him I’d protest that one, because there was no way he was going to finish that game. Charging a guy with a blown save in a game where he’d never otherwise sniff a save is like charging a guy with robbery when he never got anywhere near the safe.

Phillies 5, Nationals 3: You’re not going to believe this, but Brad Lidge almost blew this one in the ninth. Single, ground out, HBP, WP, walk, yanked. The yanking probably came less because he was about to blow the game than it was because the walk was issued to Christian Guzman, who doesn’t exactly feature the base on balls in his arsenal. Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th homers, joining Howard, Utley and Werth with 30+ homers. Back in the 80s Donruss would have made a baseball card with all four of them holding bats out over the words “heavy lumber” or something. Do they still do stuff like that? Is Donruss even around anymore? If not, are my Diamond King puzzles worth anything? How about my Ron Darling “rated rookie”? Why am I going on like Andy Rooney?

Marlins 4, Mets 2: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4. It seems like he was lost eight years ago, but it was only June. I had forgotten how great a season he was having too (.335/.423/.527). One can only wonder how 2009 could have gone for this team if they had even a scintilla of luck this year.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: A walkoff Nick Swisher homer wins it for the bombers, his second of the game. This was the Yankees’ 90th win, so they can go 0-22 for the remainder of the season and still finish the year a game better than last year.

Braves 2, Astros 1: Javier Vazquez had a nice game: seven innings of shutout ball with nine Ks while smacking two hits of his own. Otherwise the Braves offense consisted of two solo homers and a single from Martin Prado. With this kind of onslaught, it’s a wonder the Braves didn’t fall out of it long before they did.

Athletics 11, White Sox 3: I haven’t seen this many crooked numbers in an Oakland A’s box score since monsters like John Jaha roamed the Earth.

Royals 7, Tigers 5: Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk for the second night in a row. Next come the Tribulations and the Red Heifer.

Rockies 3, Reds 1: Eric Young Jr. hit his first home run. Nothing makes me feel older than the fact that the son of a guy who played for a 1990s expansion team is now hitting home runs in the majors. Let me guess: Chuck Carr and Pat Rapp’s kids are finishing med school this year?

Cardinals 4, Brewers 3: Fourteen pitchers were used in a 4-3 game. I’d like to think that in using so many guys Ken Macha was just messin’ with La Russa and giving him some of his own business. Either way, someone soon is going to get wise to the fact that walking Pujols, intentionally or otherwise, to get to Matt Holliday — who had the game winning dinger in the ninth with Pujols on base via a free pass — isn’t the smartest move in the world.

Padres 4, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner — who was born two weeks after I got my driver’s license and thus makes me feel just as old as Eric Young Jr. does — made his debut in place of the aching Tim Lincecum, giving up two runs over five and a third and left the game with the lead. That was against the Padres, though, so that translates into seven or eight runs against a real offense. With this loss and the Rockies’ win, the Giants fall three back in the wild card. They had better rally soon, though, because this is the closest thing we have to a race this year.

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4: Four RBI singles in the eighth lead big blue to a comeback win. The Dbacks turned five double plays in the game.

Angels 3, Mariners 2: A nice start from Scott Kazmir went unrewarded due to poor run support and another blown save by Brian Fuentes, but Erick Aybar’s two out single in the 10th saved the day. Both of Kazmir’s starts have come against Felix Hernandez. I’m guessing he’s getting tired of that.

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  1. Chipmaker said...

    Donruss is still around, but since MLB withdrew its license back in, hm, 2005 or early 2006, it has been producing only cards of the lesser sports—until recently, when it began making mostly-baseball sets, with lots of (potential) draft picks or retired major leaguers, with MLB team logos airbrushed out. Kinda like all the MSA sets that were everywhere (cereal, frozen pizza, …) except in packs back in the ‘80s.

    It was a damn shame. Donruss was, at that time, producing the best sets—but of the other two MLB licensees, Upper Deck was extremely lucrative and ruthless, and there’s no way MLB would revoke the Topps license. (UD did lose its license earlier this year, which—while richly deserved—delivers Topps back to its pre-1981 monopoly status. So the cards market will totally suck even worse again. So glad I’m mostly out of it. I always found it very distressing when a collector would pledge allegiance to Topps “because that’s what I collected when I wuz a kid”, willfully neglecting that Topps was the ONLY OPTION they had as a kid, and that eventually that was found to be illegal.)

  2. James said...

    I don’t really get why everyone is dismissing the Rangers and the AL wild card race.  I’m a Red Sox fan, and I’m nervous.  They’re only 2 games back – how is this not a race?

  3. Will said...

    I think the AL wild card is a pretty good race, James. I suspect that the NL one is getting more press because LAD, COL, and SF are all pretty close in the standings and in the same division.

    As for the DH, if the NL ever adopts that cockamamie rule, I’m going to have to find one of those old-timey leagues that follows 1890’s rules.

  4. Greg Simons said...

    Will, I prefer the old-timey leagues that follow 1860s rules.  You can find more info here:

    Yeah, Craig, I’m pimping vintage base ball here again.  With you going out of town, I assume you didn’t check out the Ohio Cup in Columbus over Labor Day weekend.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Sorry, Greg.  The only muffins for me were the ones I had at my mother in law’s house on Sunday morning.

  6. Daniel said...

    Kazmir has looked good, but I can see him getting hit around by a team that features actual hitters (note: the Mariners feature an actual HITTER, singular, as in Ichiro, but that’s about it). 

    His 4-seamer is good, but straight, and he gets a lot of foul balls with it rather than swings and misses.  He left his offspeed stuff up a LOT last night, but the Mariners didn’t know what to do with it.  And he clearly gets nibbly and loses velocity after 80 pitches.  It’s only been two games, and he HAS pitched well, but I’m hoping Kazmir’s stellar record against the Sox and Yanks isn’t just a sample size issue.

  7. Kahuna Tuna said...

    “Hap” = “luck.”  Thus “hapless” = “luckless.”  We tend to use “hapless” to mean “kinda pathetic.”

    Haplessness is the least of the Pirates’ worries.  For them, we need to find a Germanic root meaning “talent,” “clue” or “rudder” to add to the suffix “-less.”  But the Pirates are so bad that it would be a waste of time.

    Charging a guy with a blown save in a game where he’d never otherwise sniff a save is like charging a guy with robbery when he never got anywhere near the safe.

    I like your logic here, Craig.  “Blown hold”?

  8. APBA Guy said...

    A John Jaha mention is a wonderful thing. Let’s see if you can work in Olmedo Saenz and Erubiel Durazo before the end of the season.

    The A’s had 20 hits last night. I had a good feeling about this when Ozzie was forced to go with an all-reliever approach, and the “starter” Carlos Torres, who’s from nearby Santa Cruz, could only get his 85 mph straight ball over the plate. He lasted two outs, surrendering 5 runs including back-to-back shots by Cust and Ellis. The Ellis pitch was particularly fat, center cut and stick-straight.

    Chicago might have bounced back. In the bottom of the fifth they had men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, score 8-2. Alexi Ramirez lined hard to Mark Ellis, who doubled off the inexplicably running Jayson Nix. Afterwards Harrelson calls this play the “worst base running” he’s seen this season. The Hawk’s getting a little crankier these days. But that did kill the White Sox chances as Geren replaced Tomko early in the 6th and the A’s relievers shut down the Sox the rest of the way.

  9. RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

    @Moose: As a long-time resident of DFW and ardent hater of All Things Cowboys (no self-respecting native of Harris County roots for Da Boys – they just don’t…), you have no idea how spot-on you are in respect to Jerry’s empire building, here. After a few years, I thought there were bizarre coincidences to how news and stories would leak from his evil empire, just as interest in the Rangers would heat up in the local media.  Being slaves to the team’s popularity here, it more or less makes every leading sports carrier here dance like drunk puppets when he does it.  He always has some big story to release during opening week of the baseball season, or opening day, just to keep his shoes warm in the spotlight. It’s pretty repulsive, actually. But, no producer/editor who wants to keep their job in this market is going to pass on a low to medium Cowboys story, and not over-hype it. Ever.  One reason I am anxious to see my Rangers kick some ass in the post-season is so they can do it while Jerry’s Boys get their head handed to them every Sunday, right next door. The Cowboys might well have a decent season, and The Rangers might play only 162 games this year, but if you can’t dream, you can’t live.

  10. The Rabbit said...

    Re: Eric Young, Jr. and Madison Bumgarner
    Craig, just wait until you get to be as old as I am.  It’s scary. You tell yourself, “See, I’m not quite as old as dirt yet because Jamie Moyer (or Tim Wakefield or someone else) is still playing major league ball.”  The fact that these players may suck becomes completely irrelevant.
    As for the Tribe, O’s, Pirates, and other non-contenders: All of these teams have at least a few quality players and/or talented rookies (AsCab, Andrew McCutchen, Markakis, to name just a few); therefore, even though the result can almost be predicted, I can enjoy watching any of them play.  I’m especially interested to see if Garrett Jones is the “real deal” after langushing in the minors as long as he did.  He’s hit some of the longest home runs I’ve seen anywhere.
    But, as I said yesterday, apparently I have no life.

  11. Grant said...

    No, Craig, I would not jump off the cliff of wasting (roughly) 1/10 of your PAs on guys who have no interest in hitting and are just trying not to get hurt out there. So there.

  12. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Um—I need to apologize to whoever linked that Diamond King/King Diamond thing. I auto-pilot deleted it as spam when I saw the link to the auction page (we get a lot of auction spam comments) before remembering that, duh, it was a riff on my Diamond King comment.  I tried to retrieve it after I realized my error, but couldn’t.

  13. MooseinOhio said...

    It’s hard to quit caring about the Rangers until they stop winning and hanging around in the WC race.  I know Jerry Jones wishes the Rangers would fade away so that all sports fans in Dallas would worship at his little football shrine. 

    As a Red Sox fan I would love to quit worrying about the Ranger but as a baseball fan I love watching teams battle for the most difficult to get playoff spots in professional sports.

    As for the Tribe – I did quit caring about them months ago, though I do appreciate their preparing Victor Martinez to play first and helping him fit into Boston lineup.  If they get rid of Wedge in the offseason I will start to show interest again but otherwise I think they will continue to be an underperforming team.

  14. Dr Paisley said...

    Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk for the second night in a row. Next come the Tribulations and the Red Heifer.

    No, Dayton Moore is going to leave Heifer in A ball for another year, so he can bring back Jacobs and Tony Pena Jr.

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