Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Marlins fire Manager Fredi Gonzalez

Coaches Jim Presley and Carlos Tosca were also given the boot. From the Miami Herald-

The Florida Marlins have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez and two coaches.Fredi Gonzalez

Edwin Rodriguez, manager at Triple A New Orleans, has been named interim manager.

“We believe we can do better and be better,” owner Jeffrey Loria said in a written statement. “Everybody knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.”

Loria said before the season he had high expectations for the Marlins, who improved to 34-36 with Tuesday night’s victory against the Orioles and are in fourth place in the National League East.

Also let go were hitting coach Jim Presley and bench coach Carlos Tosca.

“We still have a long season in front of us, and plenty of time to turn things around,” Loria said.

The Marlins have been burdened by a poor bullpen and slow starts by two of their top hitters, Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan. Defensively, they continue to rank among the worst fielding teams in the majors.

Gonzalez took over as Marlins manager in 2007 when Joe Girardi was fired after one season. Gonzalez has a record of 276-279 with the Marlins and finished with winning records in 2008 and 2009. He won more games than any manager in Marlins history, including World Series winners Jack McKeon and Jim Leyland.

The Marlins has an owner that till only recently, avoided paying out big bucks for talent. Nevertheless Loria has expected miracles from his managers, and mediocrity or insubordination(Joe Girardi) won’t be tolerated.

I thought the firing of Girardi was dumb. As for mediocrity, what can be expected from a team on a limited budget that always has to pin its hopes on some untried prospect? World Series Rings IMHO can’t be expected under those circumstances.

Before today’s firing, Gonzalez was threatening the record for the longest tenure as Florida Marlin manager. The odd thing is, Gonzalez has managed the most games as Marlins manager. What Florida skipper had a longer tenure but managed a smaller amount of games? The answer is beneath the fold.

All that said, Gonzalez has never impressed me as an in game manager. Last week’s lineup snafu is just one of many blunders Gonzalez made during his tenure. The Marlins needed a skipper who can manage and Gonzalez I’m sorry to say, wasn’t the person for the job.


MLB Players Like Jim Joyce, Don’t Like Instant Replay

0603-galarraga-joyce-story.h2A new survey of Major League Baseball players reveals that their favorite umpire is Jim Joyce, the man who blew a call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game, and that they don’t like instant replay:

Jim Joyce, the umpire whose missed call deprived Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game on June 2, is baseball’s best umpire nonetheless, according to an exclusive ESPN The Magazine Baseball Confidential poll of 100 major league players.

In general, however, baseball players think the umpires are pretty good. Overall, 29 percent of the players surveyed gave the umpires a “B” grade, with 20 percent giving them a “C” and 16 percent and “A.”

Players also were decidedly opposed to replay and overwhelmingly applauded commissioner Bud Selig for not overturning Joyce’s call that kept Galarraga from being the 21st pitcher in history to throw a perfect game.

Joyce was named in 53 percent of the surveys, which asked players for the three best and three worst umpires in the game, as well as questions about instant replay and whether Galarraga’s perfect game should stand. That beat runner-up Tim McClelland, who ironically was panned for his performance in Game 4 of last year’s American League Championship Series. McClelland was named on 34 percent of the ballots.

Joyce, in his 22nd year in the majors, was the clear choice of National League players, with Jim Wolf (18 percent) second. Joyce and McClelland, a 27-year veteran, tied for first among American League players (52 percent) — both were former AL umpires before baseball combined its umpires into one entity in 1999.

CB Bucknor was named on 42 percent of the ballots as worst umpire, leading that category. The total narrowly edged Joe West, who was named on 40 percent, and Angel Hernandez, who was named on 22 percent.

The survey was taken after Joyce’s call, which came on what would have been the final out of a perfect game for Galarraga. Joyce called Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe at first on a ground ball hit to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who threw to Galarraga covering the bag. Replays showed Donald was clearly out.

Here are some of the results:

Grade the umps:
1. B: 29%
2. C: 20%
3. A: 16%
Average grade: B

Replay on the bases?
Yes: 22%
No: 77%
Maybe: 1%

Replay on fair/foul calls?
Yes: 36%
No: 62%
Not sure: 2%

Overturn calls in Galarraga game?
Yes: 13%
No: 86%
Not sure: 1%

Interesting to say that least, and if the players don’t want instant replay then perhaps those clamoring for it need to stop and think for a bit.


LA Angel 1B Kendry Morales out for the year with a fractured leg

He was leading the team in homeruns before getting hurt. From ESPN-

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales had surgery on his broken left ankle Thursday, and afterward the team said Morales was expected to miss the rest of the season.

Doctors had originally said Morales could begin bearing weight on his left leg within four to six weeks of the surgery and might be able to return in September. The surgery was delayed for 12 days by swelling in the area of the fractured fibula.

Morales broke his leg celebrating his game-winning grand slam May 29. He was batting .290 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs when he was injured.

It was a fluke accident. Now MLB needs a rule to prevent these things from happening again. More beneath the fold.


Stephen Strasburg Impresses In Major League Debut

4684450947_131b1bb9f9If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, then you’ve been part of the hype about the Washington Nationals latest new phenom Stephen Strasburg, which started long before he’d ever thrown a single pitch in a Major League game. Last night, we learned that the hype may just have been justified:

WASHINGTON — For all the hype and expectations, projected debut dates guessed and re-guessed, every word and soundbite, millions though they were, one typically critical detail of a starting pitcher’s pregame routine was absent Tuesday night.

Nationals rookie Stephen Strasburg never looked at a scouting report of his opponent.

“I was just trusting everything he called,” Strasburg said after the game, referring to his future Hall of Fame catcher, Ivan Rodriguez.

Strasburg said it so earnestly that maybe he didn’t understand the magnitude of what he had just accomplished. Hailed as the savior of baseball in D.C., the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, whom some scouts described as the greatest pitching prospect of all time, had somehow managed to match or even exceed the exorbitant expectations placed upon him by striking out a Nationals-record 14 batters in seven innings of no-walk, two-run ball in a 5-2 win over the Pirates.  He interspersed 100 mph fastballs between curveballs and changeups that plummeted to the earth as if gravity’s pull suddenly grew stronger just before home plate.

“I can’t really put it into words any better than you saw,” said manager Jim Riggleman. “It was just a great night for baseball in Washington.”

As commentator George Will, a Nationals season-ticket holder who was among the sellout crowd of 40,315, once wrote, “Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.

Only time will tell if Strasburg becomes a truly great pitcher, or whether he burns out after a few seasons. So far, though, he’s doing well.


Bud Selig Will Not Overturn Umpire’s Call In Blown Perfect Game

bildeBaseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced this afternoon that he would not overturn umpire Jim Joyce’s call that denied Armando Gallaraga a perfect game last night:

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he would look at the game’s umpiring system and the expanded use of instant replay, but would not reverse the blown call that cost Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers a perfect game on Wednesday night.

“While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed,” Selig said in a statement. “Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.”

Selig said he would consult with baseball’s labor unions and the game’s special committee for on-field matters before announcing any decisions.

Selig also praised umpire Jim Joyce, whose blown call in the bottom of the ninth cost Galarraga the perfect game, for his handling of the situation afterwards, as well as Galarraga and Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order,” Selig said. “[Galarraga] and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation.

“I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim’s candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989,” Selig said.

While the desire for justice in this situation is apparent, it would appear that Selig did not have many options in this situation. Rule 9.02 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball is pretty clear:

(a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.

There is no process for appealing such a judgment call, and no authority under the rules for an appeal of such a judgment call to the Commissioner, or any other authority. The only way Selig could have “fixed” this would have been to ignore the rules and manipulate the results of a baseball game after the fact; and that would have been just as wrong as Jim Joyce’s bad judgment call last night, if not worse.

No doubt this entire incident will lead to some re-examination of the rules and there will be discussion of allowing appeals, or instant replay. That’s a discussion worth having, but I’m glad that Selig didn’t pervert the Rules of Baseball just to make things “right.”


Armando Galarraga’s Feat Even Rarer Than A Perfect Game

IMG_2399-thumb-550x412-2108221There’s news this afternoon that Major League Baseball is considering reviewing the blown call that ruined Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game last night. Assuming that it can be done without completely disregarding the rules of baseball, I think it would be  proper thing to do.

Until then, though, Armando Gallaraga can take some comfort in the fact that he currently is in a club even more exclusive than the one made up of pitchers who’ve pitcher perfect games:

On ten occasions in Major League Baseball history, a perfect game has been spoiled when the batter representing what would have been the third and final out in the ninth inning reached base. Unless otherwise noted, the pitcher in question finished and won the game without allowing any more baserunners:[54]

  • On July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants hit Philadelphia Phillies pitcher George McQuillan on a 2–2 count in a scoreless game—the only time a 0–0 perfect game has been broken up by the 27th batter. Umpire Cy Rigler later admitted that he should have called the previous pitch strike 3. Wiltse pitched on, winning 1–0; his ten-inning no-hitter set a record for longest complete game no-hitter that has been tied twice but never broken.
  • On August 5, 1932, Tommy Bridges of the Detroit Tigers gave up a pinch-hit single to the Washington Senators’ Dave Harris.
  • On June 27, 1958, Billy Pierce of the Chicago White Sox gave up a double, which landed just inches in fair territory, on his first pitch to Senators pinch hitter Ed Fitz Gerald.
  • On September 2, 1972, Milt Pappas of the Chicago Cubs walked San Diego Padres pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a borderline 3–2 pitch. Pappas finished with a no-hitter. The umpire, Bruce Froemming, was in his second year; he went on to a 37-year career in which he umpired a record 11 no-hitters. Pappas believed he had struck out Stahl, and years later continued to bear ill will toward Froemming.
  • On April 15, 1983, Milt Wilcox of the Tigers surrendered a pinch-hit single to the White Sox’ Jerry Hairston, Sr.
  • On May 2, 1988, Ron Robinson of the Cincinnati Reds gave up a single to the Montreal Expos’ Wallace Johnson. Robinson then allowed a two-run homer to Tim Raines and was removed from the game. The final score was 3–2, with Robinson the winner. (Robinson’s teammate Tom Browning threw his perfect game later that season.)
  • On August 4, 1989, Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays gave up a double to the New York YankeesRoberto Kelly, followed by an RBI single by Steve Sax. Stieb finished with a 2–1 victory.
  • On April 20, 1990, Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners gave up a home run to Ken Phelps of the Oakland Athletics.
  • On September 2, 2001, Mike Mussina of the Yankees gave up a two-strike single to Boston Red Sox pinch hitter Carl Everett

And then, of course, there’s Gallarga.

Small consolation, yes, but at least it’s something.


Ken Griffey, Jr. Retires After 22 Years In Baseball

ken_griffey_jrUnfortunately overshadowed by Armando Gallaraga’s blown perfect game was the announcement that one of the best baseball player’s of the last two decades was retiring:

SEATTLE (AP) — In his prime, Ken Griffey Jr. was considered the best player in baseball, on pace to rewrite the record books.

Injuries derailed his chance to become the home run king. His spot as one of the game’s all-time greats is without question.

Now relegated to part-time duty and with little pop left in that perfect swing, Griffey unexpectedly decided Wednesday night to retire after 22 mostly brilliant seasons.

The Kid that once saved baseball in the Pacific Northwest with his backward hat, giddy teenage smile and unrivaled talent, had become a shell of the player who dominated the 1990s.


A star from the time he was the overall No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft, Griffey also played with his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 with 1,836 RBIs.

But his greatest seasons, by far, came in Seattle.

Griffey played in 1,685 games with the Mariners and hit .292 with 417 homers, most coming in the homer-friendly Kingdome, and 1,216 RBIs. He won the AL MVP in 1997 and practically saved a franchise that was in danger of relocating when he first came up.

Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009 and almost single-handedly transformed what had been a fractured, bickering clubhouse with his leadership, energy and constant pranks.

Griffey signed a one-year deal last November for one more season in Seattle after he was carried off the field by his teammates after the final game of 2009. He hit .214 last season with 19 homers as a part-time DH. He was limited by a swollen left knee that required an operation in the offseason.

But the bat never came alive in 2010. Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season — which Griffey denied — that he’d fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

The swing that hit as many as 56 homers in a season had lost its punch and Griffey seemed to understand his time was coming to a close.

Griffey ended his career with 630 home runs, placing him 5th on the all-time list behind Willie Mays, with only Alex Rodriguez (590) within range of surpassing him anytime soon. But for his injuries, though, it’s conceivable that Griffey would have ended his career challenging, if not surpassing, Barry Bonds’ record of 762 home runs.


Blown Call Robs Armando Galarraga Of Perfect Game

109864396-c183cd75cbba06cd3668195fce82d273.4c0713a8-scaledIt may well go down as one of the most infamous calls in the history of Major League Baseball:

DETROIT – Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers lost his bid for a perfect game Wednesday night with two outs in the ninth inning on a call that first base umpire Jim Joyce later admitted he blew.

First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded Jason Donald’s grounder to his right and made an accurate throw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball was there in time, and all of Comerica Park was ready to celebrate the 3-0 win over Cleveland, until Joyce emphatically signaled safe.

The veteran ump regretted it.’

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

“It was the biggest call of my career,” said Joyce, who became a full-time major league umpire in 1989.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland immediately argued the call and was joined by several of his players after the final out. Galarraga was trying to pitch the third perfect game in the majors this season.

Something that professional baseball had never seen before. Instead, we’re left with a controversy that is likely to increase pressure for expansion of instant reply in Major League Baseball.

All I can say is that I watched that final out live on ESPN, watched it again several times thanks to TiVo, and then yet again from even more angles during the post-game show. It’s pretty clear that it was an out, and Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game.’

But don’t take my word for it, watch the video and decide for yourself:

Unfortunately, the rules of Major League Baseball do not seem to provide an opportunity for the call at First Base to be reversed.

Photo obtained via Twitter from @baseballcrank


Former MLB Pitcher Jeriome Robertson dead at 33

Robertson played for Houston and Cleveland in his short career. The Houston Astros/Colt .45′s have had quite a few players die young in their short history. Everyone remembers Don Wilson who threw two no-hitters, and Jim Umbricht who died of malignant melanoma and had his number retired. But other Astros who went before turning 40 include Darryl Kile, Johnny Weekly, Walt Bond, Brian Powell, and Ron Willis at least. I think that’s the most of any MLB franchise in the last 50 years, including the jinxed Angels. RIP Jeriome Robertson.Jeriome Robertson

Former major league pitcher Jeriome Robertson, whose 15 wins led all rookies in 2003, has died. He was 33.

Robertson was killed Saturday when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, the California Highway Patrol said.

The left-hander went 15-9 with a 5.10 ERA for Houston in his one big year and topped the team in victories. Robertson was traded to Cleveland before the next season after the Astros signed free agents Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

Robertson’s last game in the majors came in July 2004 — he hit Magglio Ordonez with his final pitch and was ejected. He later played in the minors for the Mets and Reds, and finished in 2007 in the Mexican and independent leagues.

Astros star Lance Berkman recalled Robertson’s success.

“When you play with someone a year, you remember them. It’s certainly a tragedy and what more can you say? It’s a bad deal,” Berkman said before Tuesday night’s game against Washington.

“He won 15 games for us. That’s what I remember about him that year. He was solid every time out. He made a big step forward in his development. Then we traded him and really he kind of dropped off the face of the earth,” he said.

Robertson pitched in only eight more games in the majors after getting dealt to Cleveland. He finished with a career record of 16-12 with a 5.71 ERA.


Florida Marlins put unused perfect game tickets on sale

This sounds like a really bad idea to me. From the Sun-Sentinel-

So you decided not to buy a ticket Saturday and missed Roy Halladay’s perfect game, the 20th in baseball history. Thanks to some outside-the-box thinking in the Marlins’ front office, you can still obtain proof that you were there!

The Marlins are selling tickets to Saturday’s game at the Sun Life Stadium box office and through No discount prices just because you already know the outcome either. The Marlins figured they might sell a couple hundred. Theoretically, since 25,086 were on hand Saturday, they could disperse another 13,474 tickets. Baseball seating capacity at Sun Life Stadium is listed as 38,560.

These tickets aren’t going to be worth more than their face value at this. Some time in the future they could be worth more money. Some people collect all sorts of weird shit. A person who has bought one of the tickets may be able to fool a collector with the tickets.

Another possibility is a person using these tickets as a possible alibi for their real whereabouts. All of this sounds like a twisted television crime drama or novel but successful crooks are some of the most imaginative people around


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