Advertisements

Tag: Astros

Beltran Gone as Suspicion Has a Seat in Every Dugout

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

JOB OPENING: Looking for a man or woman with integrity who is willing to sit in an MLB dugout and monitor all actions of the manager, coaches, players and equipment personnel. Candidates should have a working knowledge of baseball signs. Candidates must be willing to contact MLB at the first sign of any abnormality. What constitutes an abnormality? Therein lies the problem with this job. 

From now on, the 2017 Houston Astros and the 2018 Boston Red Sox slink with the 1919 Chicago White Sox. They are the cheaters, the scum of sports, the cruchers of dreams, the destroyer of heroes.

As bad as their behavior is, it is the filthy lens through which every at-bat, every game, every season, every team will be viewed that is worse. Suspicion now has a seat in every dugout.

Any player that starts drawing walks at an unusually higher rate than his norm will be scrutinized. Any player that suddenly goes on a home run tear, any player that gets sizzling hot, any baserunner that suddenly starts racking up steals, will be looked at with a hairy eyeball.

That will be the horrific fallout of the sign-stealing scandal that has placed a scarlet letter next to the letters of every major league team’s logo. is he a cheater? Are they cheaters? 

Unfair, you decry?

Consider this harrowing reporting from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. They quote an MLB manager that says:

“It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league. The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”

Even the league office, which sought to stake claim to the high ground by penalizing and fining the Astros and Red Sox can’t be trusted. Unless you’re an owner of course. 

We’re supposed to believe that Houston owner Jim Crane knew nothing about what his employees were doing every day for the better part of seven months. No wonder why there has never been an Undercover Owner of an MLB team.

They are all in on it. Apparently every GM, manager and coach is in on it. Every player is in on it. Every equipment manager? Every scout? Every ballboy?

Good Lord, not the ball boys?!

Are we supposed to believe now that Rob Manfred has disingenuously shed a spotlight on a contamination he only needed a penlight to spot that baseball has been baptized into cleanliness?

 What did that manager say? Permeates through the whole league.

Carlos Beltran became the first player to have the next step in his career halted by this toxic scandal. Before he got to manager one spring game for the Mets, the organization announced the parties had a agreed to part weeds.

When Manfred handed down the penalties to the Astros and Red Sox he said players had not been disciplined because it would be “difficult and impractical” to weed out who did what. Of course, Manfred’s fear is that if the league begins looking at players, there might not be an MLB when he’s done.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil is the better of bad options for baseball but it only enhances the suspicion mindset. If Beltran, who was a true professional throughout his time as a player, was a sign-stealing master, who else should we suspect? Everyone?

Those of us old enough to have lived through the Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa steroid scandal, the NBA/Tim Donaghy betting scandal, the point-shaving scandal at Boston College learned long ago that professional athletes, and coaches and managers are no better or worse than you or me.

But those Little League kids that we celebrate every summer at Williamsport, or cheer for every weekend from Greenwich Village Little League to Inwood, from Peter Stuyvesant to Harlem, from Brooklyn to Queens, Nassau to Suffolk Counties, MLB just revealed there’s no such thing as the baseball equivalent of Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

Has Mike Trout been stole signs? Pete Alonso? Aaron Judge? All of the Red Sox? All of the Astros?

What’s worst then answering that question with a definitive ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ is having to pause and wonder, ‘Maybe.’ Maybe my guy’s a cheater.

Now, who wants to sit in a dugout and find out for sure?

Credit twitter
Advertisements
Advertisements

Big Maple’s Biggest Performance Lifts Yanks

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Credit twitter

   The Yankees are on a plane back to Houston because on the biggest stage, pitching in the biggest game of the season, The Big Maple came up with the biggest performance of his career.

  James Paxton, went pitch for pitch with the Astros Justin Verlander, a strong candidate to win his second Cy Young, and did exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired the him from the Mariners in November of 2018.

“He’s got to go out and pitch well and set the tone for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Because we want to get on that plane to Houston now, and that starts with Pax.”

You can just hear the flight attendant say, “Please bring your seat backs forward and place your service trays in the upright and locked position,” after Paxton held the Astros to just one run over six innings. He struck out nine, walked four and threw 112 pitches.

Verlander also was good. He struck out nine, didn’t walk a batter and threw 105 pitches. But two of those pitches the Yankees cracked for home runs.

 After DJ LeMahieu tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, Aaron Hicks gave the Yankees the big hit they’ve been missing in this ALCS, which the Astros now lead 3-2

 Hicks crushed a three-run homer that ricocheted off the right field foul pole in the bottom of the first. Yankee Stadium exploded. Neither team could produce another run, as the Yanks won, 4-1.

  Paxton had a very solid season. He didn’t lose a game in August and September and finished the regular season with a 15-6 record and a 3.82 ERA. But his first two postseason starts were underwhelming and the Yankees, facing an elimination game with Verlander looking to slam the door, got Paxton’s performance of the season. 

“When you think of the Yankees, you think of the postseason,” Paxton told reporters. “They pride themselves on winning and that’s what we do here. I knew that I’d probably get an opportunity of pitching the postseason, and that’s what I wanted to do.

“That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, and that’s what we’re doing now. It’s been a great experience and I want to keep on going.”

The Yankees keep their season going because The Big Maple came up big.

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The worst nightmare became a reality Tuesday night for the Yankees. The kind of nightmare that when you awaken, it feels real. Because it was real.

Painfully real.

The Yankees, for the second straight game, faced a dominating Houston starter and they were shut down like the ‘L’ Train on weekends. Gerritt Cole held the Bombers scoreless for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium.

The Astros lead the series 2-1 which doesn’t seem daunting until you consider this:

The team that wins Game 3 in a series tied 1-1, has a 77.1-percent chance of closing it out, according to SABR.org.

The Yankees seem to have no clue – not many teams do – of knowing how to solve Justin Verlander and Cole. Cole, 29, is unbeaten in 25 starts dating back to his last loss on May 22.  He’s 3-0 this postseason with an 0.40 ERA.

Whereas the Yankees hope to get 4-6 innings of solid starting pitching and then turn to the bullpen, one of the deepest in baseball, the Astros count on their starters to go 6-7 innings.

Verlander went six and two-thirds in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. Yankees starter James Paxton lasted just two and one-third innings.

Luis Severino, the Yankees starter Tuesday night, gave up a 420-foot home run to Jose Altuve, the second batter of the game. He lasted four and one-third innings allowing two home runs and yielding three walks.

“I don’t need to go out there and strike out 300 guys or win 20 games,’’ Severino told reporters earlier in the week. “I just need to go out there and match his stuff.”

He didn’t do that, which isn’t an indictment of the man considering he missed most of the season with shoulder and lat injuries.

The Yankees (and Astros) haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday night’s Game 4. Heavy rains are expected hours before, during and after Wednesday night’s 8:08 p.m. first pitch.

If the Nationals close out their NLCS against the Cardinals, we might see a paradigm shift in pitching philosophy. Teams have become bullpen-heavy.

Washington and Houston boast robust rotations and that has proven to be the more successful approach this postseason. The Yankees might have more time to think about that than they had hoped.

By winning Game 3 the Astros have guaranteed themselves of returning to Houston for Games 6 and 7 if necessary. Verlander and Cole could each make another start.

The nightmare has become reality.