Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Yes, they're cheating. Did Scranton cheat, too?

Billywitz's article in the Paper of Record today ran all of one sentence of actual game reporting and managed to miss the fact that our starting pitcher left the game after one inning with a potentially career-ending injury.

But he did help to confirm that, yes, the Astros are cheating.

Confronted with a jab from the Indians' Trevor Bauer over how it is that, once pitchers get to Houston now, they started twirling like so many ballerinas, the Cosmonauts responded with more fake indignation than Captain Renault at Rick's—thereby pretty much confirming that, yes, they've got pine tar all over their sticky little hands.

Ma Boone decided to downplay the whole kerfuffle, which is in keeping with one line of thought regarding baseball doctoring. That is, not to let it obsess your own team.

Joe Torre used to go by this philosophy...and it completely backfired in the 2006 ALDS, when Kenny "A Plague on Both Your New York Teams" Rogers managed to shut us down.

Kenny, a world-class choker who was suddenly unhittable that postseason, carried on with his little ball doctoring tricks right through 8 innings of shutout ball in his first World Series start, after which—allegedly—Tony LaRussa quietly informed Jim Leyland that he was going to raise holy hell if it happened again.

Rogers didn't even appear in the Series anymore, and the Tigers went quietly. Message delivered.

I would say that the way to deal with Houston this year is, as well, to get all over them. Though the bigger issue here is that this not-unexpected pitchers' response to smaller ballparks and bigger muscles is helping to kill the game.

As someone mentioned, we just completed the first month in baseball history—EVER—with more strikeouts than hits.  This all-or-nothing approach is just killing the game we all love.

More immediately, though, what I wonder about is one of our own players' possible history of cheating.

Were G.C. Scranton's National League MVP stats, let us say, artificially induced?

Exhibition A here would be a Mr. Albert Pujols, as Rod Steiger might say, a 3-time NL MVP whose hitting just dropped off the table once he signed a ginormous contract with the Angels:

Pujols, NL:  .328/.420/.617/1.037
Pujols AL:   .261/.317/.457/.774

Some of this, of course, is age, which the Angels resolutely ignored in giving him a 10-year deal.  And I'm sure that some of it is moving to a superior league in which they actually throw curveballs.

But THIS much?

At 28, Scranton is 4 years younger than Pujols was when he came over, so the effects of age should be much less pronounced. But here we are—with a key player who is striking out a gobsmacking 35 percent of the time, and able to belt out only the occasional mistake, even when it's a fastball over the plate.

Could it be that, having got the big deal and come to the fun, contending team, M. Scranton, like others before him, simply got tired of the shrunken gonads, ever-expanding hat size, and other unnerving side effects that come with certain substances, and decided, "Enough of that!"

If so, who could blame him? But if so, the Yanks should also be allowed to void his contract. If A-Rod could be pretty much run out of the game...

In any case, for those of you desperate for an update, Soccer and the Yankees remain locked in a death grip over at the Grey Lady:  Yanks 72, Soccer 72.

April was a great comeback month, though, as you can see:

January: Soccer 15, Yankees 1
February: Soccer 12, Yankees 14
March: Soccer 21, Yankees 23
April: Soccer 22, Yankees 32

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