- There's nowhere to hide:
No one's going to want to hear the truth.
Much like Lonnie Smith was deked in game seven of the 1991 World Series and didn't score what would've been the lead run for the Braves; or how Babe Ruth couldn't have hit the curveball Adam Wainwright threw at Carlos Beltran in game seven of the NLCS in 2006, Matt Diaz's baserunning mistake will live on in the minds of Braves fans forever.
As their loss last night left them awaiting last rites in the playoff chase, the Braves have to pray that they: win their final four games against the Nationals; and the Brewers and Dodgers help them by beating the Rockies. Highly unlikely. In truth, even if they'd come back and won last night's game against the Marlins, the Braves playoff chances were almost gone anyway; but no team wants to lose the way the Braves did; to see their last hopes go down in such an anti-climactic and painful fashion both as a group and for the individual who'll be seen as responsible.
The Marlins entered the bottom of the ninth inning leading 5-2 when a series of hits, gaffes and walks brought the Braves to within 5-4 with the bases loaded and two outs; Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez yanked his closer Leo Nunez in favor of journeyman Brendan Donnelly with speedy contact hitter Martin Prado at the plate. Donnelly's first pitch was in the dirt and squirted away from Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino; Matt Diaz at third base hesitated, then took off for home----too late. The ball didn't get far enough away for Diaz to score and as he hit the brakes, Paulino had already recovered and was firing to third base. Diaz was nailed and the game was over. Poof. Along with the Braves fading playoff hopes.
While not feeling sympathy for Diaz, it would take a truly hard-hearted person not to feel empathy for him as he was essentially left standing naked in the middle of the field making a mistake that was as understandable as it was devastating. On that kind of play, you have to either take off as soon as the ball gets by the catcher; or you have to stay at third. That he was the tying run with two outs only compounds the mistake and it's no one's fault.
The indecision on the part of Diaz is a reason, not an excuse and he has nothing to apologize for; but no one's going to want to hear that as the Braves are packing their bags to go home on Sunday rather than preparing for a one-game playoff to enter the tournament. It's going to take awhile to get over it for Diaz and the Braves.
- Hit the Easy Button:
Do you realize that Brendan Donnelly actually got a save out of that?
- The Mets are a train wreck:
It's not worth it to go into detail of the newest and most innovative (to date) way the Mets lost yesterday as their plummet continues----unabated----getting swept by the Washington Nationals. I can't help but wonder what's going through Jeff Wilpon's head right now. What's he thinking as he sits at the breakfast table and prepares to dig his spoon into a big bowl of Frankenberry?
Is he going to stay the course with what's gone on here over the past two months? I've said so many times what the club needs to do----hire Bobby Valentine----but there's still a feeling from those who cover the club that Jerry Manuel is going to be back, probably with a whole new set of coaches. It can't be lost on Wilpon how the injuries have had nothing to do with the comatose play on the field by players who at the very least should know the fundamentals and do the most elementary things correctly.
What's it going to take?
Another season full of disappointment and empty seats for the Mets to wake up?
By then it will be too late, because Valentine will be managing elsewhere. Is Wilpon prepared to let that happen? To endure more torment a year from now? You tell me.
- Indians fire manager Eric Wedge:
The Indians needed to make a change, but would someone please explain to me the point of firing a guy with five games left in the season----and then making him manage the rest of the schedule with his paycheck as a hammer to keep him quiet? To me, that's leaving the guy to twist in the wind after torturing him and administering to his wounds to keep him alive so he can suffer more.
Wedge has a contract for 2010, so he couldn't leave now if he wants to get paid, but what's the point of this? Everyone pretty much knew Wedge was gone after the season and if the club wanted him to finish the season, they could've waited until Sunday or Monday to fire him. Just as it's nonsensical to fire what had been a loyal employee and have him escorted from the building by security (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had Tony Dungy----Tony Dungy!!!!----escorted from the complex when the fired him), it's on the same spectrum of preposterousness to fire a guy and his coaches and let them continue to work. It's ridiculous, disrespectful and bullying.
As for the firing itself, what's happened to the Indians this year is not the fault of Wedge. From the beginning of the season, everything that could have gone wrong for the Indians did. Cliff Lee got off to a bad start; Fausto Carmona has lost the strike zone; Kerry Wood was atrocious; and the lineup was injury-riddled. It didn't work. It was time for a change in the manager's office, but Wedge is young enough (41) to absolutely get another chance. I wouldn't go as far as Ken Rosenthal in calling Wedge a "great manager", but he's competent and there are far worse managers on and off the field than Eric Wedge. Like Willie Randolph, he'll probably have to go and be a bench coach for a year or two before another chance arises, but he will get another chance. The players always liked and respected him.
The talk of a replacement is centering around Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Farrell is a good man, but I'm reticent to hire a former pitcher as a manager. Aside from Tommy Lasorda, it's been a historic failure. Bud Black is the latest example of a respected pitching coach who has not made it as a successful manager and I'd have that in the back of my mind before jumping in with Farrell.
- THE JOBA RUINATION:
Notoriously fickle fans are attacking Joba Chamberlain like he chews on the heads of kittens for lunch and performs experiments on puppies after dinner.
What's happened to Chamberlain is the fault of the Yankees and no one else. They've screwed this kid's head up so completely and to such a massive degree that they'll be lucky if he can recover at all. Ever.
But he'll be healthy. Mission accomplished.
- Viewer Mail 10.1.2009:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:
I think it's time for you to take to the airwaves, Prince, and start talking up your Valentine for Manager campaign. Get that internet radio show on the air - now!
Could the planet handle such an event? I'm not sure. And I might get assassinated.
But then, I do not fear death.
Death fears me.Maybe you're right, my loyal consigliere.