• Listen here, former-MVP-and-Subway-flack Ryan Howard: It's 2-2 in the ninth inning of an elimination game, and your team is down one. While I appreciate your patience at the plate, you cannot strike out looking on a pitch like that. It might have been low, and it might have been outside. Probably not on either count. But even if either were the case, you have to protect the plate. I realize that you can't do much with that pitch, but anything's better that taking it and then bitching at the ump about the call (which was correct). Good Lord.
• I realize the blogosphere is already chock-full of this particular line of complaint, but I can't keep it inside anymore: If I ever see Frank Caliendo or Dane Cook in the street, they're going to the hospital. And they're probably losing the use of one or both testes in the process.
• I wrote yesterday that Charlie Manuel should be let go, and I think this series highlights many of the reasons I would offer for justification. He started off the series by starting Shane Victorino over Jason Werth against a lefty (Werth has a +1.000 OPS against southpaws this season). Then, in addition to pulling Kendrick a little too early last night, he brought in Kyle Lohse, who could presumably eat at least a couple of innings in what was promising to be a long game. The only problem, of course, is that the pitcher's spot was coming up in the home half of the inning, and Manuel obviously had no intention of letting the pitcher hit there. That started off a parade of shitty short relievers, when Manuel could have, with a hair of foresight, saved the better and more durable pitcher by sitting tight. Then, finally, he left JC Romero out there tonight to face a righty with runners on first and third in a no-margin-for-error situation with Brett Myers ready to pitch. I'm not saying that Myers wouldn't have given up the game-winning hit, but if Myers is their bullpen ace (and still right-handed), then not going to him there is incomprehensible.
During the game, the broadcasters started rapping about Manuel's job status, and opined that it was crazy that a guy who leads his team to the playoffs (especially with a clutch finish!) could end up not being welcomed back. One of the justifications they offered for a Manuel contract extension, in addition to his single-handedly carrying the Phillies into the playoffs within his generous maw, is that the players liked his laid-back attitude. This is proof both that broadcasters are incapable of divining causality and that players are horrible judges of managerial quality. My favorite teachers as a child were the ones who never assigned homework, took a decidedly post-modern view of the veracity of answers on tests, and in retrospect probably smoked enough pot during lunch breaks to cure glaucoma. However, these were not the teachers that fostered the MENSA-level genius you see on display right now. Believe it or not, it's possible to be well-liked and adequate at your job at the same time.
• Someone give me one good reason Pinella started Jason Kendall in an elimination game. Or any game at all.
• It is no secret, within my group of friends, that I hate Eric Byrnes. Not all of it is justified; I always end up hating overrated players, even though I know it's not really their fault. But the mere presence of Byrnes on my TV screen makes me want to commit seppuku. He's a douche. And he's also an idiot:
Asked what he thinks when people start spouting terms like "run differential," Byrnes chuckled: "I laugh. I just laugh. Because it doesn't really apply to what this team is. It doesn't apply to winning baseball.
"I mean, I don't blame the number-crunchers, the computer geeks, for not being able to come up with a formula for how we got here. But there's a lot more that goes into sports than numbers."
Byrnes, a former Athletic, should know better than to say stupid shit like that. He could have just left it at, "Sometimes things happen," or, "Sometimes the numbers don't tell the whole story." Instead, he decides to give everyone a lecture on "winning baseball," and uses the term "computer geeks" with all the glee of a Los Angeles Times sports columnist.
Eric, exactly seven teams in the modern history of the motherfucking sport have made the playoffs with negative run differentials. Seven! The 2007 D'Backs are a statistical outlier of the first order. It's possible to lose weight on a 4,000-calorie diet, but the vast majority of the time, eating that much is going to make you look like Ralph Mangino. Likewise, not scoring more runs than the opposition over the course of the season means that you're almost certainly going to lose more games than you win. So, take satisfaction in the fact that you've now had champagne poured on your douchebaggy, luck-bucket head twice, and leave the thinking to people who consider it abnormal to dress in tights on a daily basis.
And, if you really think you can pull off this feat — winning the division with a negative run differential — again next season, then I will be willing to bet you your entire, undeserved salary. I am positive that I can get backers.
• Bob Melvin is one of two current managers — the other being Manny Acta — that I would consider to manage my team if I were a GM. He's the best in the game at handling a pitching staff (particularly when it comes to understanding leverage), he obviously communicates well with his players, and he gave his young guys enough rope this year when it was probably tempting to give at-bats to veterans. But I just can't, for the life of me, understand why it is that he insists on shoehorning guys like Chris Young and Stephen Drew into the top of the lineup. I know it's "working," and that lineup construction ultimately isn't all that important to run production. But the playoffs have a way of magnifying managerial decisions that aren't all that important in the regular season, and it would be a shame for Melvin to jeopardize his team's shot at a title by giving a guy with a sub-.300 and a 25-percent strikeout rate the most plate appearances on the team in the post-season. As for Drew, I guess if he keeps hitting like this, he can bat wherever the fuck he wants. But I wouldn't bet on him keeping this up.
• Delightful nugget for former (or current) Star staffers: Nothing has changed with our old buddy Terrence Moore. From aarongleeman.com:
I've always been under the impression that most major newspapers have editors and fact-checkers, but perhaps that's no longer the case. In a column that ran in the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this week, Terence Moore criticized the Braves for letting Andruw Jones leave via free agency and wrote the following:
He is the hidden reason the Braves produced Cy Glavine, Cy Smoltz and Cy Maddux, along with all of those consecutive years of team ERAs that ranked first or second in baseball. He caught everything. He threw out everybody. He made the spectacular routine. He did so through an 11th year with the Braves that will produce a 10th Gold Glove, but management will shove Jones out the door by allowing him to become a free agent while yawning.Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux combined to win six Cy Youngs with the Braves, but only one came with Jones in center field. In fact, when Glavine won the first of those six awards in 1991, Jones was 14 years old. Moore calls Jones "the hidden reason" behind the Cy Youngs, but he was at Single-A when Maddux won the award in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Also, Jones' MLB debut came 120 games into the 1996 season, yet the Braves led the NL in ERA in 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996.