Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zen Dayley: Pulling Stairs shows someone's elevator doesn't go to the top

It's going to have to be a quick Zen Dayley today ... funny thing about elliptical trainers ... you actually have to use them in order to lose weight. The nice young woman at Fitness Depot never mentioned that. Oh, and the phone number she gave? Fake.
  • Most of us have realized it's poor form to want to fire the manager. It's just scapegoating.

    Re-reading Joe Posnanski's blog post from a month ago where he fantasized about being a baseball owner has helped melt away the rage. Poz imagined firing the manager in the middle of the game, but in the tone of, "I would be a total idiot to do this."

    Contriving to lose to the worst team in the American League when your bullpen didn't give up a hit from the seventh inning on and the team failed to score in a tenth inning that had an error, two walks and wild pitches, yep, that is the stuff of a firing offence -- in Fantasyland.

    That being said, a couple acquaintances (real people, not the unnamed "friends" always cited in Leah McLaren's columns) have wondered why none of the Toronto baseball writers have called for John Gibbons' head. Some of Homer Simpson's financial decisions ("Extended warranty? How can I lose?") have made more sense than Gibby's brainstorm to use John McDonald as the designated bunter, but what else would you expect from a guy who admires Bush?

    Down 2-1 in the seventh inning, runners at first and second with none out, and the lefty-swinging team leader in home runs, Matt Stairs, gets pulled after the Mariners bring in lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Stairs (thank you, Ian) McGlovin can drop down a sacrifice bunt. Stairs can't hit lefties, and Miguel Batista career platoon splits explain why the Mariners yanked him, but it still seemed like a give-up play, like when a football team calls a screen pass on third and forever.

    It beggars metaphors to describe it -- there's no good analogy. You're in an epic struggle to score runs, so you pull a good hitter and give up one of your remaining nine outs instead? This is the kind of logic that leads people to go payday loan companies.

    Also, even if it had led to the Jays taking the lead, McDonald was lost as a defensive replacement at shortstop. unless they wanted to put the pitcher in the batting order.

    That move didn't cost them the game. The Baseball Gods were creative, though, about punishing the Jays. Thanks to McGlovin's sac bunt, the tying run was able to score from third when Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt threw high and wide of first base on Vernon Wells' two-out grounder. So the game goes to extra innings, and the Mariners score without benefit of a hit, then the Jays come up empty after loading the bases with none out. That was inspired.

    Anyways, here's everyone's baseball-owner fantasy brought to life through the magic of beer advertising:

  • Mike Wilner didn't criticize the pinch-bunt in his post-game blogtastic voyage, but did point out that a suicide squeeze might have been called for when the Jays had the tying run on third with none out in the 10th.
  • Society makes all of us into dollar-store psychologists sometimes, when we should probably just drink a glass of shut-the-hell-up. Erik Bedard's dealings with the media, though, seem weird. He said thanks but no thanks to the Toronto writers who wanted to interview the Mariners' Canadian left-hander. It might a trust issue. Thing is, Bedard's $7 million US salary isn't just for the mechanics of his job; a lot of that is due to the media and fan culture that's built up around baseball.

    The Seattle Times (much obliged to the urban chemist for the link-up) reported that the Jays have "cooled" to the notion of picking up Bedard. There could be a link between Bedard's reticence with the media and the Jays being paranoid about P.R., but the real reasons are never that obvious. It probably has to do more with what's to come when the Rogers bean-counters shut off the spigot after this season.
  • The Jays face Cincinnati (Joey Votto), Pittsburgh (Jason Bay) and the Chicago Cubs (Ryan Dempster) in interleague play, so the Toronto writers will have plenty of Canadian ballplayers to interview.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.


Ian Gray said...

I hated the decision to pinch bunt as much as anyone-I called Mike Wilner to complain about it-but Arthur Rhodes, who Matt Stairs is 0-13 against for his career, was on the mound. Miguel Batista came in to face Rolen.

I still would have let Stairs hit, and in all likelihood make an out, but at least you'd have still had McDonald for defense, and Inglett, who later had to pinch hit for McDonald, as a pinch-runner, which might have been useful in the tenth as Rod Barajas chugged around the bases.

I don't think Gibbons should be fired-David Eckstein would be my irrational fire-ee-but last night was not his best work. Jason Frasor in a crucial situation, after using him exclusively for mop-up work? Yikes.

sager said...

Good catch, Ian ... I still hate the move. Obviously, that's where Stewart's loss is felt ... honestly, it was a give-up play.

urban chemist said...

What do you make of Geoff Baker's note (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2004468015_marinotes10x.html) that the Blue Jays might not have any interest in acquiring Bedard? From what I have gathered from you Blue Jays bloggers, Ricciardi is not greatly admired for his managerial prowess. Is this a bluff on his part, or are the Blue Jays concerned by Bedard's unwillingness to say one word he considers unnecessary? Geoff Baker used to cover the Jays, no? He must have reliable sources.

Also, I want to say that I sympathize with your plight. Last night's game happened to the O's all the time in years past.

sager said...

Thanks for this ...

The sneaking suspicion is that Rogers Communications are going to close the spigot after the season and not authorize a higher payroll. This would proscribe the Jays from going after the high-dollar free agents, such as Bedard.

There's concerns over his hip (his pitching motion seems to put a lot of stress on the joint), so the Jays might not want to repeat the Burnett experiment (pay a lot for a brilliant-but-brittle starter). The concern over Bedard's media-unfriendliness also has to be considered.

It chaps the Jays big-time that they have never had a Canadian star (Corey Koskie was here one season, Rob Ducey was blocked back in the day and Matt Stairs was a professional hitter). They would love to have one, but Bedard might not have the personality.

It should be pointed out that the talent wasn't great in Canada in the '70s and '80s, when the country wasn't covered by the draft. By the time there was more talent coming out of this country, it was covered by the draft, as it should be. The Jays probably would have ended up with Votto (from Toronto) or Bay or Morneau under the old system.

And yes, Baker covered the Jays for the Toronto Star into the 2006 season. He knows his stuff cold.

urban chemist said...

It surprises me that the Blue Jays would be making payroll determinations for a team that's two years from even taking the field. I'm not up on current contracts, but it seems that a number of higher-priced players should be coming off the roster by 2010.

I'm not sure why I'm bothering to follow the Mariners so closely other than to gawk at the trainwreck, but another columnist out there opins (http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/mariners/2008/06/09/the_erik_bedard_dilemma) on Bedard's interaction with the media. His interactions with the fans are more friendly, and a lot of us found his PR tactics hilarious. I can see how he would be frustrating to deal with for a reporter, but if he pitches well, it's silly to run him out of town for being a bad quote.

sager said...

Thanks for that ... 23 wins and 21 saves for Sherrill, This is what it says in Ryan Divish's blog post at the Tacoma News-Tribune:

"I mentioned to DP95 in the comments section that Bedard would ultimately sign with Toronto as a free agent. That’s not necessarily a fact, and something more than a wild rumor. You hear things around baseball and one thing I’ve heard is that Bedard has shown little interest in re-signing with the Mariners. Now remember the M’s keep these things pretty quiet. But there’s a reason why Bedard runs to the solace of Canada as soon as the season is over with. By playing in Toronto, the trip is much shorter. And it would offer the option of getting back to Ontario on home off days."

He's apparently a reclusive dude in the off-season ... stays out at the farm, doesn't "go into town" (can you tell I'm from the country?) much.