Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Interesting Memory About Bobby Murcer

  • Bobby Murcer as an unintended witness:
One thing that sticks in my mind about Bobby Murcer was the incident in which he was unwillingly thrust into a position of explaining what he saw when John Rocker confronted the
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reporter for Sports Illustrated, Jeff Pearlman, who had written the article that began Rocker's downfall----NY Times Article 6/6/2000. As Rocker got into Pearlman's face and began screaming at him, Murcer happened to be walking to the Braves clubhouse to pay a visit to his former Yankees teammate and Braves manager Bobby Cox. Later when discussing it, Murcer seemed completely bewildered at Rocker's behavior; bear in mind that Murcer had played for Billy Martin, and with Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Thurman Munson and Dave Kingman, who either had the potential to be, shall we say, difficult and/or quirky with reporters. I can only imagine what Murcer said to Cox when he got to his office, but my guess is it was something to the tune of, "What the hell's wrong with that guy?", to which Cox probably shook his head in disgust.
  • Indians 8-Rays 4:
Today's game is very important for the Rays to win. They have their supposed ace on the mound in All Star Scott Kazmir; they're reeling from six straight losses and are probably
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beginning to doubt themselves even if they don't admit it; they don't want to enter a three-day break having lost seven in a row; they're facing a pitcher in Jeremy Sowers who's been horrendous this year; and the Indians are probably going to want to get this game over as quickly as possible to put their disastrous first half behind them, and because of that they'll be hacking away at anything close to the strike zone.
This game is going to be a test for the Rays from their manager on down. I'm still not sold on Joe Maddon and his unique, new-age way of
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running his team and if he's unable to steer the Rays ship through this crisis, the team might have to seriously consider finding someone else in the future. (They're not going to do it unless the team completely collapses, but it's something to think about.) It's a perfect day for Kazmir to rack up a huge strikeout game and prove himself to be the legitimate star his potential indicates he can be. He should have some runs to work with and everything is working in his favor to portray that image; if he doesn't, the Rays could be in trouble.
  • Aaron Harang goes on the disabled list with a strained forearm:
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I've defended Dusty Baker's handling of his pitchers when he was blamed for the injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, but I have no defense for Aaron Harang being allowed to pitch on July 8th. Harang's start had been pushed back because of his forearm pain and now he's on the disabled list for the same problem. Reds GM Walt Jocketty is a smart guy; Baker's a smart guy; why risk injuring the pitcher worse by putting him out on the mound? I keep hearing how "bad" the Reds are, but they're 46-49 and if Harang's record were 8-6 instead of 3-11, the Reds would be in the middle of the playoff race. If they're going to move forward into contention as early as next year, they're going to need Harang to be healthy and the pitcher he was in 2006-2007; starting him last week made no sense.
  • Pirates 12-Cardinals 11:
The leaks are beginning to show in the Cardinals foundation. Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan's brilliance can only go so far when a team's bullpen performs like this. Blowing 9-3, 10-6 and 11-10 leads because the bullpen can't get anyone out is a bad sign for the second
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half of the season. Add in that the upper management doesn't sound all that enthused about increasing the payroll for an available starting pitcher and the same problem that was expected for the Cardinals before the season is popping up again----the upper management is pinching pennies and the manager wants to win right now.
Historically, Ryan Franklin was never as good a pitcher as he's been this year, especially since taking over as the closer; he was due
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to hit a slump eventually. Jason Isringhausen looks mentally fried and the other pitchers out there couldn't get the job done either. (Although in all fairness, the game should have been over in the ninth inning when Kyle McClellan got Jason Bay to hit a sure double play ball to Cesar Izturis----then stumbled as he was running out of the box----and Aaron Miles was unable to get the ball out of his glove to get the out at first and the tying run scored.) Then the Cardinals get a game-saving homer from a resurgent Troy Glaus and Chris Perez comes in and blows it all over again by allowing a game-ending homer to Jason Michaels. This was a bad loss.
The Cardinals were one of the positive stories of the first half of the season, but La Russa's
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brilliance has a limit when the talent's not there. Since the team was intent on having both Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder be their mid-season "acquisitions" as they returned from injury and that's not going to happen, they're going to have to find outside help, but if they're not willing to spend any money then they're not going to get anyone of consequence. Those available third-tier pitchers----Paul Byrd, Randy Wolf, Miguel Batista----aren't the answer even with La Russa and Duncan's ability to maximize talent.
The NL Central is slipping away and they're probably not going to be able to secure the Wild Card either with the Brewers, Phillies and Mets all likely to be vying for it in one way or another. The fast start by the Cardinals did an effective job of covering up the rift in philosophies between the factions, but that chasm is widening and a patch job isn't going to hold things together long enough to make a difference.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Paul:

Just wrote about that Rocker-Murcer tie myself: http://jeffpearlman.com/?page_id=7

Best,

Jeff