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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Reveille 6/9/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Rob Neyer of Fox Sports, Anna McDonald of ESPN SweetSpot, Miles Wray of the Hardball Times, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner, and Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley check in with updates on the Rays, Giants, Marlins, Mariners, and Phillies, respectively. Baer focuses on bench coach Larry Bowa’s recent on-air tirade:

Bowa went on 97.5 The Fanatic recently and used the platform to rip the team. He said that the Phillies weren’t playing “big-league baseball”. More specifically, he criticized Domonic Brown for showing up to the ballpark with a smile on his face despite his struggles at the plate. Bowa criticized Roberto Hernandez for not being able to go more than five innings in a majority of his starts. He suggested that several unnamed Phillies lacked good baseball instincts, and absolved the coaching staff of blame because “you can’t teach instincts”.

Even if Bowa’s criticisms were right — they’re not — what purpose does he serve going on the radio and ripping the team and the players? If it was meant to light a fire under the team, as it is sometimes suggested, it didn’t work, as the Phillies lost 7–0 to the Washington Nationals later that night and 8-4 on Wednesday. Brown has logged two hits, both singles, in seven at-bats since.

The Phillies are not the group of youngsters that they were under Bowa’s leadership in the early 2000′s. They’ve seen a manager yell, throw chairs, and flip over post-game spreads. None of it is going to magically make the team play better. That the team would allow Bowa the freedom to go on the radio and castigate the players shows not only a fundamental misunderstanding of human psychology, but blind loyalty.

But this is who the Phillies are. It’s why they’ve been the slowest team to adopt the use of analytics. It’s why they have kept around the same core that won them a championship six years ago even though they’re all injury-prone and in their mid-30′s. New ideas cannot permeate the Phillies’ culture because they keep the same people around and they all think the same things. Is there any debate that when Amaro’s time is done, the Phillies will just hand the job over to an underling like Scott Proefrock or Marti Wolever?

  • Although he never played collegiate baseball, the Padres used the 837th pick (28th round) of the 2014 MLB amateur draft to select Johnny Manziel. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball implies that the closest that Johnny Football has come in recent years to hurling a fastball was when he threw out the first pitch before a 2013 regular-season game at Petco Park.
  • Mariano Rivera may be gone, but Yankee fans are thrilled to witness the emergence of Dellin Betances as the club’s lights-out reliever. Pinstripe Alley’s Matt Provenzano urges readers to “cherish the performance,” in part because it’s too soon to tell whether Betances will be able to continue dominating batters. 
  • In what may be my favorite read of the year thus far, Jake Peavy relates to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal his inner thoughts from a recent game against the Braves in Fenway Park. For example:

FIFTH INNING

With one out, Simmons ambushed a first-pitch fastball for a single up the middle. Neither Peavy nor Ross saw that approach coming.

“We didn’t think he’d be just coming right out,” said Peavy. “You would think he would be trying to be almost a leadoff man in that situation and see some pitches, and he caught us being too aggressive. We threw a ball on the outer half that was hittable, thinking we’d get ahead with Strike One and go from there. You get caught.”

Compounding the problem, Simmons surprised Peavy and Ross again by stealing his first base of the season on the next pitch — “it wasn’t something we had prepared for,” Peavy said — and Heyward reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners with one out for B. J. Upton.

“I knew it was a big out there,” Peavy said. “There’s a few spots in every start where you know that this is the game, that if they score here, you’re making it very hard for your team to win this game. The good pitchers recognize those spots and are able to, no matter what has happened leading up to that, check in and go, ‘I’ve got to execute. Dig deep and find a way.’”

Peavy got Upton to line to short. Freeman grounded sharply to first to end the inning, the score still 2–0.

  • Brady Aiken was the first pick in the amateur draft, and it didn’t take long for the Astros and the southpaw from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego to agree on a contract, which included a $6.5 million signing bonus. Baseball America’s Clint Longenecker has his analysis of the first-round selections here.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!


Tags: MLB


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