Did you miss me?
Judging by the emails I got, at least some of you did. Though, the tenor of those emails suggested more “annoyance” at my absence on Monday rather than “fond disappointment”.
Still, I'll take that as evidence that some of you out there like my work... you really do!
(Or you just need something to print out for throne-time reading!)
Whatever it is, I'm glad to be back and I'm glad you're back to check it out. Lots of things to get caught up on today, and I thought I'd do it Mock Mailbag-style.
Let's get to it!
Right after the quote...
”I believe professional wrestling is clean and everything else is fixed.”
- Frank Deford (1938 - ), American sports writer and author
Think about it. At least wrestling *admits* it's staged. As for some other things? Well, that leads me right into my first letter in this week's...
(As always, none of the following emails were conceived, written, or sent by the individuals named. They're merely figments of my questionable imagination.)
On behalf of umpires everywhere, we'd like to apologize to Twins fans for Scott Barry, Gerry Davis, D.J. Reyburn and Greg Gibson not being able to recognize the difference between a ball bouncing off padding and a ball bouncing off of a railing.
In their defense, MLB uses DirecTV for our replays, and a gust of wind interfered with the signal.
Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket!
MLB Umpires Association
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, we have to go back to Friday night in Cleveland (yes, I know... who wants to go back to Cleveland, but bear with me).
The Twins trailed Cleveland 6-4 going into the top of the ninth. They got a runner on base ahead of Jim Thome, who proceeded to smash a ball to left center. The ball struck near the top of the wall, and bounced back into the field. Greg Gibson, the third base umpire, ruled that it hit the yellow line (not a home run) and awarded Thome a double.
It was a close play, so Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire went out and asked crew chief Gerry Davis to go take a look at the replay. Davis huddled with his crew and decided to go back and take a look.
If you'd like to take a look at what they saw, you can click here and take a look.
I saw the game live, and watching the replay and that ball rebounding that high, figured that the umpires would come back out and award Thome the two-run homer he clearly (in my mind) deserved.
Oh, but Gerry Davis had other ideas! I'll let him do the 'splainin':
“Third-base umpire Greg Gibson went out on the ball, ruled that it hit the yellow pad [on top of the wall]. When we got together, the other two guys had it hitting the pad as well. We went in to check ... from what we saw it hit the pad.
I told the replay booth that I could not tell if the ball maybe ricocheted up and off the railing, so I'd like to see something down the wall. They moved it down the wall. There was nothing that was clear and concise ... that it did not just hit the yellow thing and come back, which is what we need to overturn it."
(Quote courtesy of Joe Christensen of StarTribune.com )
When the crew came back out and Davis pointed at second base - signaling Thome would only be credited with a double - I shot out of my chair and uttered some words my mother would not be very proud of.
I simply couldn't understand how a reasonable individual could look at that replay and think that a ball bounces that high off of a pad. It had to be the railing, and if it hits the railing it's a home run, simple as that.
Regular readers know I've long been a proponent of the use of instant replay in baseball. But if umpires use technology and still get the call wrong, then we have to re-examine the idea.
I'm not saying that replay should be taken out of the game. Now that it's here, in fact, I think it's use should be expanded. What I'm getting at is the notion that four umpires could go into a room, look at a replay, and decide, “it's close, so we'll stick with the original call because we want to have our guy's back”.
Let me be very clear. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this is what happened Friday night. But they obviously got the call wrong, and that creates a situation where theories like the one I just espoused can gain traction.
So what's the solution? Simple. A replay booth. The NFL has been doing replay for years and have a solid, workable system with a replay official in a booth who's there to aid the officials on the field. You can't tell me baseball can't afford to adopt a similar system. And having a system with replay officials who aren't “part of the crew” would eliminate the suspicion many of us felt Friday night.
The fortunate part is that Alexi Casilla followed up Thome's “double” with a single that knocked in both runs that Thome's “double” should have, were it to have been correctly ruled a home run. So the umpires' mistake didn't cost the Twins the game (that honor belonged to Matt Guerrier who served up a cookie to Matt LaPorta for a walk-off home run - congrats kid, your team still sucks).
Part of me wishes it had cost the Twins the game, though. Because then it would've been a whole lot more difficult for MLB to sweep the incident under the rug. And given that we've heard nothing since Friday night, sadly, it seems that's what's happened.
Know anyone who's hiring?
Seattle, WA (formerly)
The Seattle Mariners parted ways with their skipper Don Wakamatsu on Monday after he'd compiled a 127-147 record in just under two seasons.
I've gone back and forth on this several times.
My initial reaction was that it didn't make much sense to fire a guy in August. It's not like the Mariners are going to get up off the mat after the season they've had so far. It just seems like a cruel maneuver to throw a guy under the bus at this point in August.
Throw in the rumor that the Mariners wanted to have a Ken Griffey, Jr., day at some point this season and Junior wouldn't cooperate unless Wakamatsu was gone, and things get even more muddled. Jr. has denied this story, and I'm inclined to take his word for it, since he's never been a clubhouse cancer-type guy. But the fact that a rumor like that could be believable says a lot about how bad the situation had gotten.
After thinking about it a while though, it occurs to me that in a way, the M's did Wakamatsu a favor. If they'd made the decision that he wasn't going to be back next season, then it's probably best to go ahead and make the move now. Why force the guy to ride out the rest of the year answering questions about his future? Plus, just because he got fired, doesn't mean he doesn't get paid. So instead of having to sit in a toxic clubhouse and answer questions he honestly doesn't know the answer to, he can instead go home and collect a paycheck while considering his options.
Not so bad really.
Plus, this allows the Mariners to give their Triple-A manager, Daren Brown a two-month tryout to see if he's someone they'd be interested in giving the job to. I remember another manager who got a shot like that. What was his name again....? Oh yeah, Tom Kelly. I think that turned out okay, don't you?
You killed me when I dogged it back in May. Can I get a little credit for some hustle last week?
It's only fair!
If you don't know what Mr. Ramirez is referring to, go back and read this column.
Yes, I got on Hanley pretty good. And in my opinion, he thoroughly deserved it.
But to be fair, if I rip him when he deserves it, then I should praise him when he deserves it as well. And if you check out this play, you'll see why he deserves some praise.
They say if you watch a baseball game closely enough, you'll often see something you've never seen before. I can honestly say that I've never seen a shortstop field a ball off the left field wall after it'd gotten by the left fielder.
Well played, Hanley. Keep up that kind of effort, and I might write a whole column singing your praises!
Did you notice that we re-took the division lead last night? And that one more win in the series will guarantee we leave Chicago with it?
You never doubted us, did you?
The Home Nine
Minneapolis, MN (via Chicago)
Yes, boys, I did notice. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves shall we?
You jumped Freddy Garcia and worked him over pretty well, got into Chicago's bullpen early and kept the gas pressed to the floor. All of which sets you up pretty well for the rest of the series.
But just when you think you've got things set up just the way you want them, baseball has a habit of doing something weird to bring you back to reality.
Not to mention the fact that you still have eight more games with Chicago over the next month and a half. Getting cocky after one win isn't going to do you any favors!
One thing you should be celebrating is the re-emergence of Joe Mauer. Seems that cortisone shot he took in his ailing right shoulder did the trick. He's got his average up to .325 and his OPS up to .882. More importantly to me, he's got his RBI total up to 62.
But Dan, you said earlier this year that RBI is a bogus measure of a player's performance because it depends so heavily on the performance of the players in front of him?!
You're right, my dear, astute readers. I did say that! And I meant every word of it.
The reason Joe Mauer's RBI total is so important to me relates to a friendly wager I have with a co-worker. Earlier this season, said co-worker was getting on Mauer pretty good. Naturally, having a man-crush on #7 I leaped to his defense!
My co-worker went on to offer a wager on "over or under" 85 RBI on the season for Mauer. I immediately took the “over”. He then offered the same wager at 88 RBI. For some reason, I said I'd go “over” on that one too.
Needless to say, when we got to the end of June and he had 34 RBI on the year, I figured I was pretty well cooked.
But it turned out he was just testing me! I may have lost faith briefly, but only briefly. Mauer's been on an absolute tear since his “bunting” incident and is now on pace for 93 RBI, which - if it comes to fruition - will win me a “nice lunch” (my co-worker's term, not mine).
Thanks, Joe. Keep it rolling, buddy!
And there you have it ladies, and gentlemen. The latest installment of the WftC Mock Mailbag!
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with the usual Update column.
Until then, thanks for reading!