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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The harmless practical joke that changed baseball

On Oct. 2, 1983, the Boston Red Sox, their fans and the baseball world said goodbye to Carl Yastrzemski. There was a whole massive production at Fenway Park for his final game, with an hour-long pregame ceremony, the retirement of his No. 8 jersey and a letter, read aloud to the crowd, from President Ronald Reagan. For a team that hadn’t reached a World Series in eight years, and hadn’t won one in 65, it was the biggest Red Sox story imaginable.

But that night, the Boston sports talk radio show “The Sports Huddle” on WHDH wasn’t talking about Carl Yastrzemski. It was talking about a relatively unknown baseball lifer named Vern Rapp. And that little four-hour show was about to change baseball history.

The 1983 Red Sox were not a good baseball team, 78-84 on the season, and over the season’s last month, and for most of the season really, the only story worth talking about was Yaz’s retirement. It reached such a critical mass that even people who loved Yaz—which was everyone in Boston—had begun to tire of talking about it. So, Bruce Cornblatt, then a young producer of “The Sports Huddle,” a weekly sports call-in show (and now a producer at MLB Network), thought it would be funny to gently mock all the fanfare by doing a tribute to someone else, someone far less celebrated, on the day of Yaz’s last game.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the most remote person we could,” Cornblatt told me. “We thought that might be funny for a little while.”

So, what do you suppose happens if this little radio prank hadn’t been pulled?

 

QLE Posted: April 28, 2020 at 01:31 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: carl yastrzemski, managers, pete rose, vern rapp

Monday, April 20, 2020

MLB teams can furlough non-players during coronavirus shutdown: report

Anyone that works for a baseball team but can’t pitch, hit, or run might have one last paycheck to last them through the pandemic.

Major League Baseball will inform teams on Monday that they can furlough or reduce the pay of coaches, managers, scouts and some front-office personnel as soon as May, per a report from The Athletic. Though ballclubs aren’t required to shave payroll, commissioner Rob Manfred’s planned May 1 suspension of Uniform Employee Contracts permits teams to make cuts at their discretion to manage plummetting revenues during baseball’s ongoing coronavirus shutdown.

Manfred has so far declined to activate a similar provision in its major league Uniform Player Contracts, which lets the commissioner suspend contracts “during any national emergency during which Major League Baseball is not played.”

 

QLE Posted: April 20, 2020 at 12:35 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: coaching staffs, coronavirus, front office, furloughs, managers, scouts

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Matheny energized by return to dugout with Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Matheny thought highly of the Kansas City Royals when his St. Louis Cardinals faced them in their annual interleague series. Now that he’s managing the Royals, he’s equally as impressed.

“I always had a lot of respect for them,” Matheny said Friday. “It’s how you’d want an organization to be. It’s been great to see how people think about the development process, the way they’re going about trying to create a winning atmosphere.”

“It’s fun to be a part of it and you know they’ve been there and done that and building it up to be there again,” he said.

The Royals have been there — winning back-to-back American League pennants and the 2015 World Series. Now they’re back at the bottom and starting over, having lost 103 games last season.

 

 

QLE Posted: March 07, 2020 at 01:12 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: managers, mike matheny, royals

Managers are struggling with the three-batter rule

The biggest rule change for the 2020 season is the three-batter rule. As in: any pitcher who comes into a game must face three batters — or get to the end of an inning, whichever comes first — before being lifted for a reliever. It’s a pretty radical rule, aimed at cutting down on multiple game-interrupting pitching changes in the middle of innings.

I don’t know if it’ll work to cut down on game times. Most research I’ve seen to that effect suggests it won’t have a big impact actually. A couple of minutes maybe. It will, however, have a big effect on strategy, however, with managers being forced to move away from one-batter relievers and specialists on which they have come to heavily rely.

Today Jayson Stark of The Athletic has an article up in which he talks to several managers and they speculate as to what kinds of old strategies will go away and what sorts of new strategies might develop in response to the rule. Among the things the managers say we’ll see: (a) a big increase in intentional walks, as an IBB counts as a batter faced; (b) stacked lineups with consecutive righties or lefties rather than alternate lefties and righties as they tend to do; and (c) the elimination of that thing where some managers hide a pitcher at first base or left field and then bring him back to the mound in order to face only same-sided batters.

Which, to me, is fine. And I think the managers’ stress about it all is overblown. Or, at the very least, something we shouldn’t care about all that much.

There are things to be said about this, some of which are rather impolite indeed…..

 

QLE Posted: March 07, 2020 at 12:47 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: managers, three-batter minimum

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Roenicke named Boston’s interim skipper

FORT MYERS, Fla.—On the eve of Spring Training, which starts for the Red Sox on Wednesday morning, the club officially elevated bench coach Ron Roenicke to interim manager on Tuesday.

But that interim title should vanish quickly.

Once MLB completes the sign-stealing investigation involving the 2018 Red Sox, Roenicke is expected to be named the 48th manager in club history.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom all but said that at Tuesday’s press conference.

So, what do we make of the logic behind this hire?

 

QLE Posted: February 12, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: managers, red sox, ron roenicke

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mets hire ‘respected’ Rojas as new manager

NEW YORK—When the Mets parted ways with Carlos Beltrán last week before he managed a single game, the situation had potential to send their offseason into chaos. With less than a month until Spring Training, the Mets lacked an on-field leader.

To patch that hole as seamlessly as possible, they looked within the walls of their own clubhouse. The Mets are close to finalizing a multiyear deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced Wednesday, pivoting from Beltrán to one of the industry’s most well-respected rising leaders.

The son of longtime Major League player and manager Felipe Alou, and the half-brother of former Mets outfielder Moises Alou, Rojas was the Mets’ quality control coach and outfield instructor last season. That was the 38-year-old’s first experience on a big league staff, after he spent 13 years as a coach and manager in the Mets’ Minor League system. Rojas also has experience managing in the Dominican Winter League.

“He has literally trained his whole life to be a manager,” Van Wagenen said. “He comes from a legacy family. … He is respected by the players. He is trusted by the players. And he’s someone that we have great confidence in, [with] his ability to lead our team now.”

One down, two to go.

 

QLE Posted: January 23, 2020 at 12:22 AM | 45 comment(s)
  Beats: luis rojas, managers, mets being mets

Friday, January 17, 2020

Where will MLB’s scandal-stricken teams turn for new managers?

From a handheld device, bouncing along radio waves, caroming off big metal towers dressed as trees, the text message arrived here Thursday morning: “We are truly a mess.”

It’d be a fair assumption the sentiment rode along with others just like it, tapped out of frustration in places such as Houston and New York and Boston, fluttering along the horizon and recalling a day — just Sunday, for one — in which their baseball franchises seemed sturdy enough. Maybe not in Houston. But the others.

Today, two months after the saga began and one month before the first fungo bat is swung, the Astros, Mets and Red Sox do not know who their field managers are, the Astros don’t even have a guy who usually chooses the manager, and the sign-stealing scandal that once looked like it might divert a single franchise appears to be only just gaining momentum.

The next domino could be another team. The next domino could be 10 or 15 more teams, and the crisis that was one or two organizations cheating their way to championships inches toward the more chilling scenario that, other than the championships, the Astros and Red Sox were not the exceptions.

If all else fails, I’ll take the job.

 

QLE Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:18 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, managers, shame and scandal

 

 

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