June 20, 2013
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Friday, April 17, 2009
Mark Bowman believes that Tom Glavine will retire within the next couple of weeks:
Tom Glavine says that he'll wait at least two weeks before determining if he'll ever pitch again. But as he spoke yesterday afternoon, it was hard to ignore the belief that he seemingly already knows his fate . . .
I remember watching Phil Niekro's last start. He was demolished. I think I've always had that afternoon my mind as I've grown up and witnessed the resolution of other great careers. Quicker is better. Not everyone has the self-awareness, both of mind and body, to quit on top like Koufax, but they can be Mike Schmidt: play at an extraordinarily high level and then as soon as you cease to do so -- or at least within a reasonable time after you realize you've lost it -- hang it up. Better for someone to wonder if you still have a little in the tank than to watch you fall down in obvious fashion on a Major League diamond. To be sure, it's a selfish belief, one that speaks more to my insecurities than it does to a ballplayer's (they should be allowed to stick around until the bat or ball is pried from their hands if they want), but it is what I prefer and what I hope will happen whenever a Hall of Famer reaches the twilight.
Tom Glavine has reached that point. I'm sure that if he wanted to he could get a couple more starts for the Braves. Bobby Cox would never admit it, but even if Glavine was basically ineffective, he would let him start a September game without playoff implications one way or another if he wanted to. They've been together for 20 years, more or less, and each is responsible for the others' eventual induction to Cooperstown. If Tom wanted the ball he'd get it. I'm glad that he seems to not want it.
Glad because I, with the assistance of the strategic deployment of denial that a true fan of any team has, have forgotten every single bad Tom Glavine start save one, and I want to always remember that Tom Glavine start. It occurred a little over a month before Niekro's last one. It was Tom Glavine's first, and it came against the Houston Astros. He gave up six runs on ten hits in less than four innings. I watched the start on TBS from a hotel room in Myrtle Beach, SC. I didn't know at the time that the man, hell, boy I was watching pitch that afternoon would one day save the franchise, but I did know that he was new and young and represented hope for a team that hadn't had a lot of it up to that point. I was vaguely aware of Greg Maddux coming up around the same time and know he had his struggles too, but in my memories Maddux was always a more fully-formed pitcher. Glavine and I, on the other hand, kind of grew up together. Or at least finished growing up. Whatever the case, as he won more games and then Cy Young awards and then Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, I always saw that young, over-matched kid from 1987 in my mind, and in many ways I appreciated him more than I appreciated Maddux, even if I didn't always like him as much.
Like I said, I've blotted out just about every bad Glavine start besides that one, but I don't know if I could blot out one billed as his final game. I'd watch it. I'd think about it too much. It, like Phil Niekro's last game, would probably stay with me. I don't want it to.
I want Tom Glavine to toss the ball a bit more down in whatever Class A backwater he's in right now, go home one day and tell his wife and kids in private that he's ready to hang it up. Then I want to see him in a Braves uniform walking out the lineup card to the umps on the last day of the season, bathed in cheers, flashbulbs popping.
Given the heat seeking missile that Matt Taibbi sends up Brian Cashman's rear with this article in the May issue of Men's Journal, I can only assume that Cashman ran over Taibbi's dog and slept with his wife. Or vice-versa. Or maybe he had a threesome with them and then ran them both over:
. . . objectively speaking, the job of New York Yankees general manager should be the single most failure-proof position not only in sports but in all of human society. Giving a normal, red-blooded, pattern-baldness-suffering American male access to the Steinbrenner fortune and asking him to buy 25 baseball players a year in an unregulated market is no different, in any meaningful way, from handing Sarah Jessica Parker a blank check and asking her to fill a three-bedroom apartment with shoes and dresses. And we’re not even asking her to get good deals. All we ask is that the outfits match.
It just goes on and on like that. And I suppose it's entertaining on some level to see someone work so hard to construct such complicated put-downs, but ultimately the piece is a showy, ignorant mess. Taibbi fails to grasp the same thing every other casual Yankee critic fails to grasp, and that's that contrary to his premise, the Yankees' GM is not responsible for "buying 25 baseball players a year in an unregulated market." Indeed, it's a highly regulated market, with many of the best players being completely off-limits to Cashman until they're not quite as good anymore. Add in the fact that he answers to many masters and a rabid press corps. and fan base, and the notion that Cashman should be gone simply because he hasn't picked better players from the allegedly endless player menu is rendered even more absurd. Almost as absurd as Taibbi failing to mention what, if anything, Cashman should have done differently over the past decade. Indeed, the whole piece reeks of smug hindsight.
Taibbi's larger point -- that Cashman has always played the Yankee political game well and has been safe because of it -- is largely correct. I fail to grasp, however, how this makes him such a loathsome figure. To me it makes him kind of smart. Taibbi has one other valid point, and it's that Cashman made a mistake in not trading the young arms and Cano for Johan Santana. Like everything else in the article, however, it's a judgment aided by a hell of a lot of hindsight. I can't remember what I wrote about it at the time, but as I sit here today, I kind of remember thinking that the Yankees should have pulled the trigger. But it wasn't anything as clear-cut a case then as it was at the end of Kennedy and Hughes' awful 2008. Certainly not clear enough to justify the derision Taibbi rains on Cashman here.
At least there is one small bit of value to this article: I now know that if I want to get published in Men's Journal, all I need to do is drop bombs for 15-20 paragraphs and froth at the mouth a little.
Wait, a lot.
(thanks to Neate for the heads up)
Here's an article catching up with former Giant Dave Dravecky.
I don't subscribe to the religious views he does and I have about three hours worth of rants about the motivational speaking circuit in which he now earns his living, but none of that really matters. What matters is that when I was 16 I saw Dravecky mount perhaps the bravest, most inspiring performance I'll ever witness on an athletic field, and five days later I saw him fall in perhaps the most heartbreaking moments I'll ever witness on an athletic field.
Hard to believe that was 20 years ago.
It has nothing much to do with the article in which it's found, but this kind of quote, about the challenges of facing the Cubs, always makes me smile:
"It's big, especially with a team as quality as they are," Wainwright said. "They're going to be there at the end battling you. Anytime you can gain a game on a team like that, especially to open a series, is big."
Just once I'd like the reporter to ask the obvious followup question "So, Adam, which teams aren't there at the end battling you?"
Apparently the Giants' problems are all mental:
"Are we this bad? No," manager Bruce Bochy said, attempting to answer the central question about his team. "But right now we are."
I don't know that a guy like Pablo Sandoval is capable of intensity, and I'm not sure that Fred Lewis, Emmanuel Burriss, Edgar Renteria or Barry Zito would be any better intense than they are lackadaisical (if indeed they are that).
I've hated on the Giants more than many a blogger in the past couple of years, but I was cautiously optimistic that their rotation would at least make them respectable in 2009. So far the rotation is 1-6 with a 7.42 ERA. Tim Lincecum is going to improve and Randy Johnson can't get worse, but man, have they dug a hole for themselves.
UPDATE: Maybe Lincecum won't improve. At least not immediately. Hope he's OK, of course.
No, not Alex Cole, the man for whom the Indians famously moved the fences back in 1990, it's Alexander Cartwright's birthday today. Given that he's 189 years-old, however, the celebration will remain low key.
For those unfamiliar, a Wiki-overview of why all of the banks and government offices are closed today:
Cartwright was a bookseller in Manhattan, and a volunteer fireman. Cartwright founded the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company) in 1842. They played a brand of stick-and-ball game called the town game. In 1845 Cartwright and a committee from his club drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. He and other firemen played on a field at 47th and 27th Streets. The rules of the modern game are based on their by-laws, and Cartwright is thought to be the first person to draw a diagram of a diamond shaped field. The Knickerbockers participated in the first competitive game (as opposed to intramural) under these rules on June 19, 1846. The Knickerbockers lost 23–1 to the New York Nine.
How bad do you have to suck in order to lose that badly even though you drew up the rules yourself? My daughter makes up little games to play with her brother and she wins every time, usually because she's able to change the rules on the fly without him knowing. Sure, he's only three so he's easily fooled, but when you adjust for inflation, I'm pretty sure he has the same level of intelligence as a grown ballplayer in 1846 or Kyle Farnsworth today.
Anyway, happy birthday Alexander C.
The suits are still trying to figure out if my stuff belongs on the Red Network or the Blue Network. And they still won't let me begin my posts with a second inversion C Major triad.
Indians 10, Yankees 2: I missed it live, but thankfully STO shows Indians day game replays in the evening. Having known the outcome in advance, I could focus on other things. Mostly I was fixated on the view of the primo seats just to the third base side of home that were visible during every closeup of a right handed batter. The seats are overly cushy. The waiter service is just asking for a wildcat strike from respectable beer guys everywhere. Worst of all, there was a guy in a blue suit and red tie with brown, blow-dried hair sitting in the second or third row of those seats who I've decided to make my mortal enemy. He didn't do anything particularly egregious, but he was wearing a suit and tie to a ballgame, took a few calls on his cell, and never ever seemed to once be focusing on the action on the field. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with him when I finally capture him, but it involves time travel, bleacher seats, and trough urinals. I've probably said too much already.
Padres 6, Mets 5: I'm calling in a pinch hitter for this one. Here's Diesel, from the gone-but-not-forgotten blog "Two Guys Who Never, Like, Agree":
Anyway, watching Pads-Mets, and Jerry Manuel just brought on K-Rod in the ninth despite being down a run. Obviously, much has been made of Manuel's open and stated willingness to pitch K-Rod in high-leverage situations, regardless of whether it's a save situation, and accordingly has earned plaudits from those who have long bemoaned the LaRussian doctrine of pretending that saves are worth a damn. It's great.
Yep. I do.
Nationals 8, Phillies 2: Lastings Milledge to Syracuse + Nick Johnson to the second slot in the lineup = three-run home run for Adam Dunn in the first inning, which would end up being enough for the Nats to snag their first win. From the Dept. of Interesting Things Said in Game Stories: "Through seven games, the Nationals were plagued by problematic starting pitching. Acta cautioned against a rapid assessment of the rotation before it cycled through a few times." So the Nats rotation is like the water filter on my fridge? Whatever, dudes.
Cardinals 7, Cubs 4: Chris Duncan had a homer and three RBI, but don't crown him a hero. He had to do that much to make up for the mistakes he made on defense, including a dropped fly ball and a missed popup.
White Sox 3, Rays 2: Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing about whether Jermaine Dye fouled a ball off his foot. The turning point seemed to be when the umpires actually inspected the ball, and upon looking at it called it a foul ball, negating the 5-3 putout. This set Maddon off. Until I read more, I have to agree with Maddon. What, exactly, on the ball would have led the umps to change their call from out to foul? Shoe polish? I don't think there's been a ballplayer who wore shoes with polish on them since Stan Musial retired. Speaking of Stan, I think someone needs to buy me this. Anyone? Anyone?
Astros 6, Pirates 3: Andy LaRoche got a hit! Not much else for the Pirates to be happy about, though, as a Lance Berkman's three-run homer was the difference here. Between Mike Hampton Wednesday night and Russ Ortiz last night, Houston is doing a pretty sweet 2003 Braves imitation. That team won 101 games, but I have this feeling that the 2009 Astros won't.
Marlins 6, Braves 2: Braves fans were treated to Cody Ross going 3-3, a homer, and four RBI. Not that this is anything new, as Ross was .319/.388/.578 over the course of his career against the Braves entering the game. There hasn't been a guy who has abused the Braves like this since Mike Redmond moved to the American League.
Blue Jays 9, Twins 2: Speaking of pwnage, Roy Halladay bumps his record vs. the Twins up to 8-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his career, and Toronto has taken 12 of 13 from Minnesota overall.
Angels 5, Mariners 1: Ichiro breaks Isao Harimoto's record for hits by a Japanese player by smacking his 3,086th, but it's not enough to overcome the qudruple-headed hyrdra of destruction that is Mike Napoli, Gary Matthews, Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis who combined to drive in five runs in the sixth inning.
Dodgers 7, Giants 2: Zito shelled, grass green, sky blue.