"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Man Who Wasn't There…(Who Cares?)

Some baseball fans, like my buddy Joe Sheehan, are not interested in the private lives of the players. Joe doesn’t care a whit what goes on in the clubhouse. He cares about the performance on the field, period.

Now, the beat writers and columnists might not care about a player’s personal life either but if a player makes their job difficult, well, it will become a story. Last night, Rafael Soriano pitched poorly, helped cost the team a win, and then did not talk to reporters after the game, leaving his teammates to do the talking for him. This kind of behavior does not sit well with the press (and perhaps it doesn’t sit well with his teammates). If it continues, Soriano will eventually blame the writers for creating a story, and they, in turn, will shake their heads and say, “You made your bed, dude.”

For a guy like Joe Sheehan this is all distraction, a lot of noise signifying nothing. How will Soriano pitch in his next outing? That’s what counts.

We’ll be watching.


1 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 6, 2011 9:02 am

ah! The first "Morning After" of the season...I didn't miss these

2 Boatzilla   ~  Apr 6, 2011 9:23 am

I guarantee he won't do that again. Jeets will straighten him out. The pitching, however, is another story. But, heck, it's one bad outing. Even Mo has one occasionally.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 6, 2011 9:33 am

2) He most certainly will do this again. Jeter won't do dick about it.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 6, 2011 9:41 am

i just caught up with the highlights of the 3-run "double", then went back and read the game comments, and the recaps, and not one mention of how nick swisher allowed the tying run to score from first by misplaying a pop up behind the first baseman?

with two outs, and the tying run on first, the number one priority for the outfielder is to keep it in front of him so the tying run cannot score. all he had to do was to stay on his feet.

but a billion complaints about the yankees using one of the best relievers in baseball? everybody thinks they know better than the manager, nobody even wants to bother to talk about the actual crucial events of the game.

5 Boatzilla   ~  Apr 6, 2011 9:58 am

[2] Do you really think so? You know more than I, but I can't remember too many instances of Yanks avoiding the press. I reckon someone will tell him that in the Yankee clubhouse you have to face the music.

[4] I thought Swisher played that ball oddly, too.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:04 am

5) They do it all the time, especially A Rod. But it also isn't reported on too much. But with Soriano, he carries a "rep" with him, as Joel Sherman noted today in his column, and he also blew the game.

7 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:06 am

[4] "but a billion complaints about the yankees using one of the best relievers in baseball?"

Specifically? I count zero complaints about that, which is a smaller number than a billion.

My complaint (iterated) was about Girardi's failure to call on the best reliever in baseball, at the most crucial moment of the game.

"everybody thinks they know better than the manager, nobody even wants to bother to talk about the actual crucial events of the game."

I think almost everyone knows better than Girardi that it's plain stupid to refuse to bring in Rivera in the most important situation. It doesn't take a genius. It just takes not-stupid.

As for Swisher, I guess he thought he had a shot at catching that fly. I have no idea whether that was a foolish thought or not (it was incorrect, of course). But Swisher is not Torii Hunter. He'll make those mistakes. He has a split second to make a decision, and it's not his best thing. I can live with that.

8 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:26 am

[4] You're right, Swisher's play was terrible. I was too worked up (legitimately, I maintain)over the absence of Mo at that point to focus on Swisher's miscue.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:37 am

[7] I went back and checked again, and you are right, here were less than a billion comments on Girardi's use of Soriano, I stand corrected.

However, it is not a split second decision for the outfielder to decided to dive for the ball. It is predetermined given the situation that you DO NOT dive for the ball, because the penalty for falling short is that you allow the tying run to score.

If there were two runners on w/ a 3 run lead, you always dive for the ball because the reward for making the catch is getting out of the inning and the penalty is not so bad.

On my team, the outfielders were taught to remind each other before each batter: "make the great play" or "keep it in front" depending on the situation. That's just basic stuff.

10 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:44 am

I love the rush to armchair managing in almost every instance. Whether or not Soriano should be in the game is debatable, whether or not he should've been kept in with the bases loaded is also up for debate. What is NOT up for debate is that a major league RF HAS to catch that pop-up.

It amazes me how people feel such a need to second guess every move Girardi makes that they will put blinders on and completely absolve the players on the field of all responsibility.

11 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:44 am

[7] And to give you a straight answer, my point is that the game was put into far greater jeopardy by swisher's play than by girardi's choice of relievers. No attention to the former, much attention to the latter.

12 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:44 am

[9] I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's not obvious. Allowing the tying run to score is, obviously, really bad -- but if the ball drops and two runs score, that's still a serious consequence. It's still the 8th inning, and there would still be two men on base. Catching the fly is much better. It all but wraps up the game.
So it does seem to me that it's a snap judgment. If the OF thinks he has a good chance to catch the fly, then it's worth the gamble. I guess a serious analogy would look at the WPA for each play, and then factor in the chance of making the play, but of course that's not something you want Swisher working out in his head. (The mind boggles.) So all I can really say is, I don't think it's obvious that the right choice is to let the ball bounce in front of him.

13 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:47 am

Ah, very interesting. So, [10] you think Swisher just has to catch that pop. And Jon thinks the opposite, that it's a no-brainer that he has to stay on his feet and let it drop. And both of you think this is not even debatable!

Of course it's debatable whether Girardi should call for Rivera when Mauer comes to bat. I just think the debate is going to be very one-sided.

14 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:49 am

[11] Could be -- my bet is that the two mistakes are pretty close in jeopardy-production. For me the difference is that one is a mistake of quick judgment and athletic ability, which I tend to write off as 'part of the game', whereas the other is so easily avoidable.

15 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 6, 2011 10:53 am

[13] I think [10] is saying that a MLB caliber RF should be able to catch that ball and that there should be no debate about blaming swisher for not catching it.

but my point is slightly different. he obviously could not have caught it, whether it was a bad jump, a misread, a ball in the lights, whatever, he had very little chance to catch the ball once he got near it.

once it was clear to him that he would have to dive, which is many, many steps before the actual dive, he's got to pull up and keep it in front.

16 flycaster   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:03 am

[13] No one who actually plays and manages in MLB is going to agree with the idea that you bring in your closer at any point in the game where a hit can hurt you. Fans get caught up in the emotion of every moment in every game (that's why they're fans). They don't have the slightest notion of how to take care of a bullpen over a 162-game season. These guys are human and it's been proven over and over that they need to know with a reasonable degree of certainty what their role is. IIRC, the Red Sox tried that "stat geek" approach, you know, deploy your best reliever in the highest leverage situation, and it fell apart like a bunch of Lincoln Logs. Hey, Sori wasn't on and Robby got beat by a bloop. That's baseball.
Personally, I would have brought in Robby to start the 8th. he was already warmed up, he was fresher, and he needs work. But I don't say Girardi is some moron because he went another way.

17 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:12 am

[15] Okay, fair point, I see the distinction.

[16] Yeah, I think that's all bullshit. If you're telling me that Rivera just couldn't handle coming into a tense situation in the eighth with two out, yeah, I'm not buying that.

I would have gone to D-Rob in the eighth, too, but that wasn't what I (or anyone) criticized Girardi for.

18 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:16 am

Great point about Swisher. I wondered about that too but then just chalked it up to the wind. But he absolutely should have been there.

19 flycaster   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:25 am

[17] See, you want Girardi to manage every game like it's the 7th game of the World Series. You have no interest in the personnel management issues that are manifest when guys play every day for 6 months. Suit yourself. Tell you this. The people who do this for a living don't do it your way. Why do you think that is? All morons?

20 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:36 am

[19] Wait, so, if Mariano had pitched to Mauer last night, then what would the problem have been in August? or September?

I think most managers are just like Girardi: they are hidebound by certain traditional but badly mistaken notions. This leads them to do very dumb things sometimes. Not all managers do this, but the large majority do.

As it happens, this tradition is not really all that traditional. The 'closer' role is fairly recent. Think of Mike Marshall. Would Walter Alston hesitate to bring him into the most important situation of the game, in the eighth inning? I doubt it. I hope not.

21 monkeypants   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:38 am

[19] The people who do this for a living don’t do it your way. Why do you think that is? All morons?

Well, possibly the same reason that the same people who do (did) this for a living used to call for bunts far more frequently especially in "fixed" situations, until more and more people figured out that giving up outs is a bad play most of the time. In sports generally, but perhaps especially in baseball, it takes a long, long time to overcome accepted orthodoxy.

For a variety of reasons, within the last 20 years or so, managers have decided to use their ace relievers only as "closers" (only in the ninth in a so-called save situation) rather than as "firemen" (in the most critical moment late in the game even if not the ninth). And yet teams do not win a higher percentage of games now when leading late than they did in the before times.

Eventually the dogma of having an exclusive "closer" will be displaced, and not too soon.

22 monkeypants   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:39 am

[20] As usual, you beat me to it and in a far more eloquent and economical fashion. Damn you!!

23 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:39 am

Agrugments are fine, guys, just remember no name calling---at each other.

24 monkeypants   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:42 am

[23] Whoa...was anyone name calling? I was being sarcastic by "damning" RIYank for, as usual, writing a better comment than my own.

25 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:46 am

I don't think there's been name-calling, Alex; if I'm guilty, my apologies. I only hate the play.

[21] I'd say more like thirty years, but otherwise, fully agree.

26 monkeypants   ~  Apr 6, 2011 11:58 am

[25] The trend was definitely moving in that direction in the eighties, but I see the contemporary "closer" emerging really with Eckersley in 1988.

In 1985, for example, more than ten pitchers threw ten+ complete games. Reardon led the league with 41 saves in over 80 INN pitched. He came into 35 games in the 7th or 8th inning. When you look closely at it, it really is remarkable just *how* recently it has been since all teams have gone to the "closer" model (and even more recently, the subsequent development of the EIGHTH INNING GUY).

27 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 6, 2011 12:08 pm

intelligent arguments all around, as always.
I didn't see the inning. Went to sleep with visions of a 4-zip victory in my head. But based on what I've read and heard about Soriano's crappy inning, I'm siding with those who observed that it was completely ARod's fault.

28 RIYank   ~  Apr 6, 2011 12:20 pm

[26] Yeah, maybe that's right. I was thinking Sutter, but it wasn't till much later that there was a pitcher on a team assigned to most of the 'closing' situations. Lee Smith, maybe? Franco?

29 The Hawk   ~  Apr 6, 2011 1:56 pm

Anyone know why they pitched Sabathia last night, and Garcia tonight?

30 cult of basebaal   ~  Apr 6, 2011 1:57 pm

[29] To line up Sabathia for this weekend's series against the Red Sox.

31 The Hawk   ~  Apr 6, 2011 2:12 pm

[30] Really? That's sort of pitiful in April

32 Raf   ~  Apr 6, 2011 3:47 pm

[31] Still, can't say I'm surprised they wanted to keep CC on his regular turn.

33 The Hawk   ~  Apr 6, 2011 4:06 pm

[32] Sure but I'd figure the same for AJ too

34 Raf   ~  Apr 6, 2011 4:56 pm

[33] AJ may still be under the weather.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver