Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, Oct. 5.
At least every other week, another survey comes out proving conclusively that we Americans don’t know either A. what something is, B. Who somebody is, or C. where something (or somebody) is. Where is Vietnam, who was James Madison, what is the Constitution, brainbusters like those. These surveys have been going on for decades-at least 17 of them have come out this year. Mostly they focus on younger Americans who really should know the who, what or where (but never do.) We Americans over 50 take for granted that we don’t know who, what or where a given person, place or thing might be. Some mornings i can’t locate my teeth. But I’m a guy writing a blog. I don’t manage a team in the baseball playoffs who owns, but apparently can’t locate one of the best pitchers in the game.
Yes, I’m sure if you asked today’s high school seniors either where is Great Britain or what countries make up Great Britain (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales,) the universal answer would be “Huh?” But the whereabouts of the great Zach Britton of the Orioles shouldn’t have been a mystery to his manager Buck Showalter even though Buck is a full 7 years older than I. He’s paid millions to know where the great Britton is in the late innings, and his failure to come up with the answer may stop his personal gravy train.
Without Britton on the mound the Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 in 11 innings on a 3-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion. While I disagree with the sudden clamour for Zach Britton to get the Cy Young award, he should have been on the hill instead of Ubaldo Jimenez (Ubaldo Jimenez?) who hasn’t been relevant since 2010. Encarnacion (no spring chicken himself) decided Showalter was up past his bedtime and hit the first pitch he saw out of sight. The horn the Jays use on home runs went off so loud it was heard from Frederickton clear to Medicine Hat and the question of whether Showalter might be the worst manager in baseball emerged again. The Jays’ Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson each hit one-out singles, which would send red flags up in the heads of most MLB managers (except Grady Little, Terry Collins and now Buck.) He had pulled his starter in the fifth, making it that much more remarkable that Britton never got the call of duty. He wasn’t summoned in the 9th when Brad Brach was left in to start his second inning. When Brach got in trouble it was Darren O’Day, not the man of 47 saves in 47 tries and the game’s lowest ERA. And in the 11th it was … Ubaldo Jimenez? Britton said he had told his manager he could go multiple innings, but his plea went unheard. When interviewed after the game, Showalter said “mumble mumble mumble,” not unlike the character “Mumbles” on the Dick Tracy cartoons. Kind of like a man explaining to his wife why he had to work overtime at the office until 4 A.M.
With the dust settled, we fans will have to deal with more bat flips from Joe Bats instead of a possible Jumbo from Trumbo, as Orioles’ radio broadcaster Joe Angel calls Trumbo home runs. We may or may not see the Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna who left with pain in the front part of his left shoulder. We can expect to see the idiocy of Jays fans, one of whom threw a beer can that missed one of the Orioles’ outfielders by a foot. If there’s an up side to another Jays-Rangers LDS, we might wintness a rematch of the Rangers’ Rougned Odour vs. Jose Bautista, a more compelling slugfest than the one in 2015 between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather JR.
What could possibly follow last night’s display north of the border? Only the Mets and Giants will answer that, and it will be hours before even the first page is written. The Mets have amazed baseball from the very beginning, when third baseman and nominal team captain David Wright was catastrophically injured for the second year in a row. The dominos fell after that. Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, finished for the year. Zack Wheeler who was supposed to be the midseason Messiah never did return. Almost no Met hasn’t spent a stretch on the DL. Where has Mets’ management found the warm bodies to replace their fallen stars? where haven’t they looked? They’ve scoured the waiver wires, checked the ranks of the independent leagues, even paged through “Rogue’s Gallery” for Wright’s replacement, Jose Reyes. If they needed a DH they might have signed A.Rod. Literally looking high and low, they’ve found enough men to reach the wild card game, which is a miracle all by itself. To go further they will have to best Madison Bumgarner, one of the best October pitchers the game has seen and that includes names like Gibson, Mathewson, Hershizer and less familiar names like Waite Hoyt and Dizzy Dean. The lone survivor of the Mets’ original great pitching staff, Noah Syndergaard gets the call to face Bumgarner tonight. Whether it matters, that means Bartolo Colon, age 43 would be the man to start game 1 against the Cubs’ jake Arrieta Friday night. It will take a mighty effort from the Mets’ bats and Syndergaard’s arm to allow Colon to start a game before next April.2