87 thoughts on “October 5, 2016: Walk-Off Dong”

  1. Based on what I've read of Manfred's comments before the game last night, it sounds like we're several years away from any expansion. (He indicated they need to settle the new CBA and prefer to resolve the A's' & Rays' ballpark situations first.). I'm fairly sanguine about expansion, provided it's handled sensibly, but very much against realignment.

    Sounds like they're also going to take a look at September roster expansion to try bringing the playing conditions of the final month of the season closer to the rest of the schedule, particularly the high variability produced by endless bullpen corps. I wonder if that means expanding the size of the active roster (which MLBPA might push for in CBA negotiations) or allowing teams to set a 2X-man roster for each series but allow all players on the 40-man to travel with the team, take BP, etc.

    1. Setting a roster for a series might help. I've always seen proposals be for a game and managers would stack the pitching staff with a revolving door of relievers. But forcing them to set it for three days could mitigate how many starters would get bumped.

    2. How would expansion without realignment work? Some divisions of 5 and some of 6?
      If another team is added, 4 divisions is the logical result. Then what? The worst record of the division winners has to host one wild-card team for a play-in game?
      Things feel stable now (even if I dislike season-long interleague play, which expansion could rid us of).

      1. I suppose I should've been more specific: I understand expansion likely involves some kind of realignment to make the numbers work, but I'm against radical realignment – whether that's dissolving the leagues, senselessly moving teams from their original league to the other (Brewers to NL, Astros to AL), or some other looney Seligula-esque arrangement. I suppose the initial locations of the next expansion teams will shape whatever realignment happens to make the playoffs work.

        I dislike interleague play, particularly the season-long variety. If possible, I'd much prefer they reduce the regular season schedule to make things work.

        1. I wouldn't necessarily mind some major realignment if it gives us a more symmetric schedule. What I hated about the mid-90s realignment and what has come after is that the schedule seems so much less regular than it used to be. When the Twins won the WS in '91, they played each team in the West 13 times and each team in the East 12 times. That is one of the few ways that playing exactly 162 games actually makes good, rational sense. Even then, I would probably prefer a 156-game schedule where you just played every team 6 times at home and 6 times on the road.

          Personally, I think interleague play has killed any sort of special aura that may have existed around the different leagues, and I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate having 47% of the schedule against 4 teams.

          So I'm going to say if you add two teams, make it new again, and do the following:

          Northeast Division:
          Toronto
          NYY
          NYM
          Boston
          Pittsburgh
          Cincinnati
          Cleveland
          Detroit

          Southeast division:
          Philadelphia
          Baltimore
          Washington
          TB
          Miami
          Atlanta
          Expansion A
          Expansion B

          Central:
          KCR
          CWS
          Minnesota
          Texas
          Houston
          CHC
          St. Louis
          Milwaukee

          West:
          Seattle
          LAA
          Oakland
          LAD
          SF
          San Diego
          Colorado
          Arizona

          Play each team within your division 6 games home and 6 games on the road == 84 games.

          Play 3 games at home OR on the road against every non-division team in the league, rotate home/away every year == 72 games.

          For a total of 156 games. All DH, all the time.

          The hard thing would be finding two markets that actually worked in the SE geographically. But I think arranging things by time zone would make a ton of sense. Maybe I'm overreacting because the Mariners get overly screwed by the current schedule, but as an example, the Mariners played roughly 60 of 162 games in the East or Central time zone. On weekdays, those games are all basically over before you can get home from work, plus it's harder on the players from a travel standpoint. In this schedule, the Mariners would play just 32 of 162 games in the East or Central time zone, which I think would make a big difference in terms of getting people to even pay attention to the team.

          Yes, you'd lose something like Dodgers/Mets for the most part, but rivalries shift and change over time even when you keep the leagues fixed. And I don't know how you'd make up some crazy expanded playoff format to make everyone happy with wild cards and whatnot, but it would be simple to have a 4-team elimination tournament from the division winners.

          1. I understand and sympathize with the travel issues. I'm skeptical about an expansion happening in the southeastern US, however. I'm guessing MLB is going to look hard at making both expansion teams international, and none of those likely candidates make any sense in the Southeast. (This assumes that the economic analysis & other data suggests San Juan, PR is untenable, which would be a huge shame. A team in Puerto Rico would be awesome for so many reasons, including its potential to disrupt alliances in New York. I imagine Havana is years (more like decades?) away from getting a team.)

            1. I have a strongly held personal belief that it's beyond stupid to expect pitchers to hit professional pitching after they haven't been expected to hit at any level past 8th grade. Sure it's neat in theory and all, but until the lower levels ditch the DH, I don't see the point in having pitchers hit at the pro level.

              What would make a lot more sense is for the NFL to require that the only person who can kick the ball is the last person that passed the ball.

              1. I think it would be even more interesting to release the requirement in Rule 5.11(a)(1) (formerly Rule 6.10(b)) that the DH bats in place of the pitcher. I would be very curious to see what managers might try if they were permitted to have a DH bat for a pitcher or any position player.

    3. In the old days wasn't the opposite? Teams could start with 35 or 40 players in April and had to cut it down to 25 by May or something?

      1. Storm would be perfect – rain-outs when you need them, and a strong breeze blowing out when you're up & blowing in when you're out in the field.

          1. Nightcrawler would be awesome on the bases, and possibly in the field.

            Okay, that's another WGOM podcast episode idea: panelists draft a roster of superheroes for a baseball team.

            1. Johnny Storm would be the darling of Spring Training (throwing the ever-livin' fire out of the ball).

              Spiderman is a center fielder. We know that already.

              Thor is a DH. Think Thome.

      2. Professor X as manager, obviously. Of course, the other team would be bean-balling all the time for his team stealing signs.

            1. Professor X wouldn't get duped by the Padres! And he'd always know exactly what the other team would be willing to accept in trade or salary negotiations.

    4. I wonder if that means expanding the size of the active roster

      Please let this happen, even though I know that, instead of saving the Twins from themselves, they'll just go with an 18-man pitching staff.

      1. I wonder if a limit on the number of pitchers carried on the active roster would be something the MLBPA would agree to in the next CBA. Probably not, but who knows?

        1. Problem would be defining what a pitcher is. Does a player have to be restricted to pitching or not? In other words, if you pitch, you can't play elsewhere in the field and vice versa. That would deprive us of Escobar or Cuddyer pitching in a blowout. Also, a Brooks Kieschnick would lose all his value. My biggest pet peeve is too many mid-inning pitching changes. If that can be reasonably reduced, I'm all for it.

          1. I'd actually be all for some kind of restriction on percentage of playing time as a definition of "pitcher" for rostering purposes, as I think that would force teams to make some interesting roster construction choices. If "pitcher" was defined as, say, "any player with 25% or more of total innings played as pitcher," that might give guys like Kieschnick, Micah Owings, and others a place on a roster that usually gets eaten up by a LOOGY or 13th man. It could also force managers to be more efficient bullpen managers. I don't think anybody would reasonably define a position player throwing an inning in a blowout as an actual pitcher.

    1. I of course taped this and still have it somewhere. God I love the Tom Jones introducing Super Market Finds bit (7:30 mark). Paul afterward yelling "follow that one!" just slays me.

      Once when I had DJ week, I was thinking of doing this song but I could never find just the song video.

  2. Lead graph to Passan's column today:

    It makes no sense. It didn’t make any sense before it happened, and it didn’t make any sense as it was happening, and it didn’t make any sense in the immediate aftermath. It won’t make sense today, won’t make sense tomorrow, not next week, next month or next year. There is but one explanation for Buck Showalter’s all-time screw-up Tuesday night, and it is this: Even the smartest men are capable of ineffable stupidity.

    1. "Ineffable stupidity" is Pundit 20/20 Hindsight for "a bad thing happened and there is a chance, however small, that it would not have happened if X had been done differently."

      Should Zack Britton have gotten in the game? Probably. Saving him for a save situation in an extra-inning game is suboptimal. The bigger question is why Ubaldo Jimenez in that situation? He had better options in the 'pen beyond Britton.

      1. I think people over-react to this particular managerial decision (away team saves closer for save situation) because it's so easy to go all-caps on "HE DIDN'T EVEN GET HIS BEST PITCHER IN THE GAME11". But if Britton was only going to go 3 outs (which may or may not make sense depending on what his typical workloads are and how he's been used down the stretch), then keeping him for the save situation doesn't make much difference to me. You've still got to have someone else to get you 3 outs in the inning you aren't pitching him.

        I mean, if they still had relief pitchers regularly throw a couple innings at a time, then it would be a big mistake because you'd be limiting him to 3 outs instead of (potentially) 6 outs, but I can't be too bothered by which inning you want him to get 3 outs in. If Jimenez is your next guy up, he's got to get the outs in the save situation, potentially with less benefit from platoon advantage because the other manager would be more aggressive with pinch hitters when their back is against the wall. And presumably one of the things that makes a good closer is having relatively small platoon splits.

        1. You've still got to have someone else to get you 3 outs in the inning you aren't pitching him.

          Yes, but the faulty assumption often used here is that it will be a save situation. The O's have a pretty powerful offense. They supposedly have a better bullpen than the Jays. If they extended the game by another couple innings, they could end up scoring 5 or 6 runs in the inning and you should have no problem whoever you throw out there to protect the lead. I just hate when managers plan for stuff that might not even happen. In a winner-take-all game, having a lead but not having your closer available to protect it is a good problem to have. I'm sure O's fans everywhere are wishing for that conundrum. It's a lot better than what happened. It's like when a manager that is trailing in the top of the 9th doesn't pinch hit for a weak-hitting shortstop because he doesn't have anyone that's played shortstop before available for the bottom of the 9th. That would be a great problem to have because it means you at least tied up the game or even took the lead. I can understand Buck going to some very good relievers in their own right to keep the game tied, but to go to Brian Duensing and Ubaldo Jimenez instead of Britton was just stupid. Once Britton is done, you do what you have to, but in a game so long he used up a pitcher to get one out against the No. 9 hitter. Then he went to a guy that has almost exclusively been a starting pitcher and is not used to these type of situations at all.

          1. The O's may have a powerful offense, but they are way, way more likely to score 3 or fewer runs than 4 or more runs. Ubaldo Jiminez is also way more likely to pitch a scoreless inning than the Orioles are to score 4 or more runs. I think your argument is more an appeal to emotion than it is an appeal to good strategy. It might feel good to make sure you get your best pitcher in, and not leave him in the bullpen, but in the long run, planning for likely situations beats planning for unlikely situations. And the most likely situation for Baltimore to win that game was getting a run or two across and needing someone to go out and get three outs. They didn't get to that point, but Jimenez could just as well have botched the game at that point.

          2. I'm with SoCal on this one. There is only one known high leverage situation here. Holding your best pitcher because there is a chance there will be snother one doesn't make any sense.

            1. My only point was the "ineffably stupid" is gross hyperbole.

              It makes sense to use your available relievers in declining order of quality in a late-and-tied situation like this. So Buck probably erred by not going to Britton. But "ineffably stupid" implies that there is a YUUUUUGE expected value difference between what he did and the optimal strategy. And that's just not true.

              Even with Jimenez, he has an ERA of what, 4.50? That's an expected half-run allowed per inning. He has more innings with zero runs allowed than with 1+ runs allowed (and who cares if he gives up more than one run when its a tie-game, walk-off situation?).

              Was it a mistake to bring him in instead of Britton? Yea, I'd say so. But "ineffably stupid"?? "Come on, Senator. That was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton, and that's pretty low."

              1. There's only so much impact a manager has. This is baseball after all. A manager can do every single move correct and put his players in the best position to win and still lose the game. Conversely, a guy can be "ineffably stupid" and his team still win the game. Just because it didn't have that huge of an impact on the odds of winning doesn't mean it wasn't stupid. What I do take issue with on Passan (I think it was him) is that he later wrote that Showalter managed them out of the playoffs, which gives the manager to much blame (or credit) on the outcome of a baseball game. The O's could have easily scored 1 more run somewhere before that final inning and Britton would have been out there and the O's most likely would have won. So basically, I agree the decision didn't have that big of an impact on the outcome of the game. Pitching Britton with the game tied might have only delayed the same result by an inning or 2. But I disagree that, that means it wasn't ineffably stupid for a manager to do.

                1. ineffable means "too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words". If it didn't have a huge impact on the odds of winning, it wasn't ineffable stupidity. Hence, hyperbolic exaggeration. Or incredible arrogance on the part of the author.

      2. The problem with deploying resources in leverage situations is knowing when the leverage is highest, and using your best guy there. On one end of the spectrum, you have Showalter last night. On the other, you have Gardy with Nathan in the Game 2 of the '04 ALDS.

            1. I do think that that aspect of leverage is overlooked in favor of a strictly game-state leverage interpretation. I think it's a lot better argument to say that Britton should be there to pitch against the heart of Toronto's lineup versus just that you need to use your closer in a tie game on the road before you get a lead.

        1. For the past year or so the homebrew shop has had a non-alcoholic sample keg alongside, usually, two beers and a wine. I had the bauble with on Friday, so I skipped the beers and tried an oak aged root beer. So good. It made me want to make another batch.

          1. I really would love to make root beer (one great-grandfather owned a root beer stand), but lack the facilities to do it well without serious inconvenience.

            1. You've got the facilities. When I made my batch, it was a basically a concentrated syrup that I mixed with club soda. I just used my regular sized soup pot and stored it in a growler.

    1. Just saw a tweet about the only other time 2 starters have finished 7+ shutout innings in a winner-take-all postseason game:

      'Spoiler' SelectShow
  3. Okay, that line drive catch was pretty awesome.

    I'm rooting for the Giants here. I want whichever team wins here to lose the next one, and I think Bumgarner as postseason wizard is a fun storyline.

    1. I picked them to win the Wild Card because of that. I did have them lose to the Cubs though, so it only goes so far.

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