Manager of the Year: Things have not changed much in baseball over the winter.
In the big Kershaw-Grienke matchup last week, Clayton went into the top of the ninth inning leading 7-0. With one out he hung a couple of curveballs, which were hit for a single and a run scoring double, respectively. Out pops Dodgers manager Dave Roberts who yanked the man many believe to be the best pitcher in baseball with a six run lead and only two outs to go.
Kershaw was furious and so was I.
The best pitcher in baseball deserves some leeway. But, hey, the double was hit off of Kershaw’s 100th pitch and he was clearly about to turn into a pumpkin! Everybody knows that after 100 pitches a pitcher’s arm becomes pulp. Doesn’t it?
As a result the fans were required to sit there for several minutes while a relief pitcher lumbered in from the bullpen, warmed up, and got the final two outs. This is a despicable travesty.
Roberts continued his ignorant handling of pitchers on Saturday when he used four pitchers in the top of the eighth inning to face four batters. That one half inning took 18 minutes…for four batters! That’s 4 ½ minutes per batter! Do Roberts and baseball think that this is what fans come to the ballpark for, to watch him change pitchers time after time? No other sport has so much down time and Roberts has made it immeasurably worse.
The names of the pitchers are irrelevant because apparently Roberts thinks that pitchers are fungible. The only single, solitary thing that matters is to make sure that a left-handed pitcher faces a left-handed batter and vice versa. It matters not whether you are pulling Sandy Koufax and replacing him with Socks Seibold, so long as the batter bats right, Roberts would rather have good ol’ Socks pitch to him than Sandy, since Sandy throws with his left arm and Socks was a righty. This is sheer, utter nonsense and it totally destroys the pace of the game.
Baseball better shape up and pass rules to stop this kind of farcicality. God, do I hate today’s baseball and the numbskulls like Roberts who make decisions. It’s no wonder that so few fans stay around for the end of any game. How much can one take?
The truth shall set you free: The Dodgers and MLB continue to mask how many people actually attend their games. Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium showed lots and lots of empty seats, but the Dodger announcers claimed that the “attendance” was 39,822. There is no way there were more than 25,000 people there. What the Dodgers and MLB actually report is “tickets sold,” and it is has little or no relationship with how many people are actually “in attendance.”
Maybe “tickets sold” is meaningful to the Dodgers’ accountants and bottom line, but it’s not to fans who really want to know how many people are physically present. But trying to get the truth out of people who run sports today is like expecting a politician to answer a question.
These are Major Leaguers? In the fourth inning of one of last week’s games against Arizona, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager “slid” into home head-first. The term “slid” is used advisedly because today’s genius players don’t know how to slide any more. Most of them slide head-first. That’s what Seager was apparently intending but it is a miracle he didn’t kill himself. It’s beyond me to be able to describe what he actually did because his arms and legs were going in completely different directions, but the “slide” exposed all parts of his body to serious injury. I was surprised he didn’t break his arms, legs, ankles, neck and back.
Baseball has recently made two idiotic rules, one prohibiting crashing into the catcher while trying to score and the other prohibiting taking out a second baseman/shortstop during a double play, two things that have been part of the game for 150 years. Baseball should put them back into the game but should outlaw head-first slides. When one slides feet-first, there’s much less that can be seriously injured. Sliding head-first jeopardizes what? The head! Which happens to be pretty much the most important part of the body (although we are talking about professional athletes here, so some allowance should be made for that). It also jeopardizes the fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders and arms.
If baseball is really interested in protecting the health of its players, which is the justification for the two stupid rules referenced above, nobody should be allowed to slide head-first.
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.