Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

The Dodgers Will Regret Not Going After Joe Maddon

Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune
Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

When Joe Maddon opted out of his contract as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays on October 24, 2014 (as reported by CBS Sports), I thought there was only one destination for his next job. It was as clear to me as a Santa Monica day.

Inevitably, the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to announce they were going to let go of Don Mattingly as manager after 4 seasons, and reunite Maddon with his former Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman. Everything lined up perfectly and it would be a match made in baseball heaven.

I even began writing a somewhat snarky column for this website about the Dodgers being coy with their intentions while clearly pushing Mattingly out the door.

Oh, publicly, the Dodgers backed Mattingly, as they did here in the LA Times, but who were they kidding? Arguably the best manager in baseball was there for the taking.

Remember when Joe Torre suddenly became available after the 2007 postseason and Dodger manager Grady Little just HAPPENED to resign? What a coincidence that Torre was hired before poor Grady was done packing the office.

The Dodgers were poised to take on the champion Giants next year, and baseball would see a Maddon-led team take on Bruce Bochy’s boys with two of the best skippers in the business in the same division.

Then a funny thing happened to Joe Maddon, and also to this smart aleck know-it-all writer. The inevitable signing with the Dodgers turned into a Chicago Cubs love fest.

MLB.com
MLB.com

Maddon headed to Wrigley, bought everyone drinks (always a fool-proof way to win over Cubs fans) and seemed poised to take credit for the emergence of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.

Poor Rick Renteria was kicked to the curb. While the stench of tampering hangs over the move, nobody could blame the Cubs for wanting to bring in Maddon (no offense to Renteria, who will no doubt find another job.)

Maddon is going to join the likes of Leo Durocher, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella as high profile managers hoping to complete the Don Quixote-like quest of winning a title for the Cubs.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers go into 2015 with Don Mattingly still at the helm.

Can someone please explain to me how this happened? Why didn’t the Dodgers at least put on the full court press and wine and dine Maddon? They offer one of the sweetest managerial jobs baseball and could be the fast track for Maddon’s elusive title.

AP
AP

The appeal of “Dodger manager Joe Maddon” was staggering. From the 2008 World Series to the 2013 Division Series, the Rays reached the playoffs in four different seasons, with a payroll slightly larger than the average In-and-Out Burger location. Friedman made all the right moves, and Maddon handled the continually changing roster perfectly, winning Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011.

One could only wonder what kind of success that tandem could have had with a solid payroll and fan support.

Oh, wait! There wasn’t a need to just wonder. The Dodgers could have brought Friedman and Maddon together with a $200 million payroll, the best attendance in the National League and an ability to keep stars instead of shopping them.

Forget trying to juggle a rotation without David Price, James Shields or an injured Matt Moore; Maddon could call on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in LA!

He would inherit a team that has won back-to-back Division titles and posted 94 victories last season. But they also have seen their division rival Giants win 3 World Series this decade, two since the new ownership took over.

As a sports city, Los Angeles is first and foremost a Lakers town. But with the Lakers on a downward spiral, the Dodgers have a chance to take over Southern California for the cool sports dollar.

USA Today
USA Today

But with a huge payroll and an easily distracted fanbase, losing in the playoffs to the Cardinals in back-to-back seasons is not going to cut it.

The Dodgers are going into 2015 with a sense of urgency. Kershaw is going to be 27 and Greinke 31, probably the peak year of this tandem. Yasiel Puig is a budding star, but difficult to predict. The left side of the infield is in disarray and the bullpen was, to be kind, unreliable.

Changes were made. Friedman pushed GM Ned Colletti to a vague new role. Farm director DeJon Watson and scouting director Logan White have moved on.  Oakland’s former Director of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, is making to move to LA.

And yet with all these behind the scenes moves, Mattingly remains.

Why?

Todd Kirkland / Associated Press
Todd Kirkland / Associated Press

Mattingly has been  the Dodgers manager for four seasons. That is a Presidential term. Plus, he was a hold-over from the Frank McCourt ownership. When Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson et al took over the team in 2012, they inherited Mattingly and Colletti.

Colletti’s inability to have any depth on the team for $200 million pushed him out. But what about “Donnie Baseball?”

For two straight years, he has made questionable decisions in the postseason. Whether it was pulling Adrian Gonzalez in a one run playoff game in 2013, or turning to Scott Elbert in a critical Division Series moment this year, there is no shortage of head-scratchers for Mattingly.

And of course Mattingly benched Yasiel Puig in an elimination game. Yes, Puig was not hitting well (except for an extra base hit the previous game.) Is it wise to remove one of the best bats the team has in a winner-take-all game? It didn’t work.

Is Mattingly a difference-making manager? Probably not, for good or for ill. But Maddon IS one of the few managers who at least seems to make a difference. And perhaps the arrival of Maddon to Los Angeles could have given the team a spark that is lacking with Mattingly.

Maybe Maddon would have figured out how to run the bullpen. Perhaps Maddon could get the best out of Puig and his former left fielder, Carl Crawford.

And what would firing Mattingly cost the Dodgers? He is signed for two more years, and eating that contract would mean swallowing roughly $9 million total, according to ESPN.com.

Look, I know it is not my money. But that is less than what LA is going to pay Brian Wilson, and there is not even a guarantee he will be able to pitch next year.

Carl Crawford is going to cash checks for $60 million more dollars! But they are too cheap to bring in Maddon?

The Dodgers run with Don Mattingly as manager is like a stale relationship. They are together because of circumstances that are no longer relevant and they are staying together because it beats being single.

Esquire.com
Esquire.com

Now imagine someone in a stagnant relationship has a chance to date Charlize Theron. In that situation, you at least have to ask her out!

All the Dodgers had to offer was a huge budget, a gigantic media market, a contending team, the best pitcher on the planet and a chance to reunite with the GM who turned the laughing stock of baseball into a pennant contender.

The Dodgers have not seen a World Series since Kirk Gibson limped around the basepaths in 1988. Clayton Kershaw was a 7-month-old baby during that Series.

That same year, Mattingly was a star with the Yankees, who missed the World Series every year he was in uniform. He made his debut in 1982, just after New York’s 1981 World Series loss. He stayed until 1995, never winning a pennant, and retired. The Yankees went on to win 6 pennants in the next 8 years, winning 4 championships. He returned as a coach in 2004, and the team couldn’t win the pennant. He left in 2007 for LA, and the team won in 2009.

Mattingly was essentially The Cooler!

And guess what, Dodgerland? Mattingly will be managing your team and making his trademark moves that make all of Southern California say “huh?”

If the Cubs win the pennant before the Dodgers, they may never live it down.


Paul “Sully” Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @sullybaseball.

 

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Theo Epstein’s Black Magic

Phil Velasquez/McClatchy News Service
Phil Velasquez/McClatchy News Service

I believe it was the great Winston Churchill who once said, “Gather all the prospects you can.” Though I may be mistaken. Nonetheless, Theo Epstein, current Chicago Cubs general manager, has done a pretty nice job since assuming that role in 2011.

When he became the GM of the Red Sox in 2002, he was, at 28, the youngest in Major League Baseball to ever hold that position. Two years later, the Red Sox broke the Babe Ruth curse and won their first World Series since the Civil War. Okay, it was since 1918 but it felt like it was that long. He resigned in 2005, but was then rehired in 2006; they won the World Series again in 2007.

Was he some sort of wizard?

Had he suddenly gone from “Theo the Grey” to “Theo the White?”

He resigned from the Red Sox again in 2011, and took the same job with the Chicago Cubs. He had already reversed on curse with Boston; could he now reverse the Cubs’ “curse of the goat?” It’s certainly looking that way when you consider the moves that he has made.

Let’s take a look.

The Texas Rangers made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011, and were looking for that one pitcher in 2012 who could help them like Cliff Lee did two years earlier. The Rangers made a deal for Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who was having a pretty good year playing for Chicago. Rangers fans were excited…for a few minutes. Dempster struggled in the American League, and Texas choked (no thanks to a struggling Josh Hamilton), losing the AL West to the Oakland Athletics.

In 2013, the Rangers saw themselves in the same position, and gave up prospects Mike “I love to strikeout” Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm for Matt Garza. Garza was a guaranteed addition to the Rangers starting rotation who would surely help bring another division title. Once again Texas slipped and the A’s won the division.

Now go to the current season where the Rangers have been plagued with injuries unlike any team in the history of the game. The Oakland A’s spent the majority of the season in first place, and made some pretty significant moves at the trade deadline, which seemed to assure them a third division title in a row.

So who did they trade with?

The Chicago Cubs.

The A’s landed pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for top prospect Addison Russell, outfield prospect Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Strailly. The A’s later went on a collapse of epic proportions, and are currently hanging onto a wild card spot by the thinnest of threads after losing the division title to the Los Angeles Angels.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are loaded with prospects and looking forward to a division title run in the next couple of years.

The lesson here: don’t trade prospects for Cubs’ pitchers. Theo Epstein is a mad genius and is working magic on his side.


James Holland is a Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesHollandMLB.

How to Antagonize Every MLB Fan Base with a Single Sentence

 AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Baseball likes to pretend its appeal is pastoral and heart-warming and all about apple pie, summer days and playing catch with dad in the cornfield. In truth a lot of what baseball and its fans like to concentrate on is venomous, petty and making other people angry.

Pushing buttons of other fans and reveling in their misery is an essential part of baseball fandom today.

More people know Bill Buckner’s name or Steve Bartman’s than can name who won those infamous games. Rooting against the Yankees is an American tradition. The rest of the country seems to be tired of the Red Sox and their fans.

Yankee fan Michael Pacholek forwarded to me the sure-fire ways to anger Red Sox, Yankee and Met fans. I decided to take it to the next step.

Every single fan base can be predictably angered in a sentence. It could be a misconception that frustrates fans. It could be a fact they try to deny. Or it could be a shortcoming they cannot avoid, but wish people would stop bringing up.

I could be nice and not list which button to push for the fans of every single team. But I am not nice. I am a baseball fan.

 

 

downloadARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

“The Diamondbacks are a dirty team who hit players on purpose.”

Say that and watch them pull out charts showing how many times other pitchers pitch inside. Sit back and grin knowing they are trying to convince themselves and not you.

 

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ATLANTA BRAVES

“The Braves are the Buffalo Bills/Susan Lucci of baseball.”

Watch the Braves fans say, “At least we won!” and “14 Division Titles in a row is the greatest achievement ever” and repeat it. When they pause, just ask, “Remember Mark Wohlers pitching to Jim Leyritz?” and then avoid the Tomahawk coming your way.

 

 

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

“Cal Ripken was a selfish player.”

Insulting Cal Ripken is the most dangerous thing to do in Baltimore short of getting Omar mad at you. Try it anyway. If you are feeling even more adventurous, imply he was on PEDs.

 

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BOSTON RED SOX

“PED’s invalidate the three championships.”

Oooooh you can get Boston fans pissed this way. There is no way Red Sox Nation will have the greatest moments of their collective lives erased by some pesky details about the pee of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. “We will NOT go back to 1918!”

 

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CHICAGO CUBS

“You guys are happy being losers.”

The whole image of Cub fans being content with a nice effort from the team while getting trashed in the bleachers may have had validity in the 1980s and 1990s. But the close call of 2003 and the disappointment of 2008 have raised a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville. Keep in mind they always had company in their misery. But the Red Sox have won 3 times since Bartman, and the White Sox and their fans have 2005. More than a century of losing is more than any beer can cure.

 

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CHICAGO WHITE SOX

“I thought all Chicago fans were Cub fans.”

Say that to a die hard White Sox fan. Not even winning the 2005 World Series removed the chip on their soldier about the White Sox lack of attention in the city.

 

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CINCINNATI REDS

“Pete Rose was the biggest disgrace in baseball history.”

That one will really land. Go ahead and try to explain why betting on games is bad, even to win, and that the Reds could have won the Division in 1986, 1987 and 1988 if Pete wasn’t betting. You will get fans yelling about steroids, Pete’s stats and a lot of other unrelated topics while their faces will be redder than anything on their uniforms.

 

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CLEVELAND INDIANS

“Your logo is racist.”

The best part of this one is that no matter which opinion an Indians fan would have on this matter, it won’t be subtle. Either it will be embarrassment for the incredibly un-PC image, or they will say “IT HONORS THEM!” while getting their face so red, you’ll wonder if they have war paint on.

 

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COLORADO ROCKIES

 “You can’t count the offensive numbers Coors Field.”

Deep down, Rockies fans must know that all offensive numbers in Denver need to be taken with a grain of salt. But say that out loud and they will bring up humidor and Troy Tulowitzi’s stats on the road faster than a Dante Bichette homer leaves the yard.

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DETROIT TIGERS

“Mike Trout deserved those MVPs.”

Oh, I am sure there are a few Tiger fans who understand the great value of Mike Trout. But for most, let’s just say you are insulting Miggy’s Triple Crown. And that won’t fly in Motown.

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HOUSTON ASTROS

“Bagwell and Biggio were juicers.”

Bagwell seems like a more likely suspect but, man! Don’t bring it up around any Astros fans anytime soon. Yeah, there were no positive tests… just a couple of guys hanging out with Ken Caminiti and showing great endurance during the steroid era.

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KANSAS CITY ROYALS

“You didn’t REALLY win the 1985 World Series.”

If there was instant replay in 1985, you know and I know that Jorge Orta would have been called out. That 9th inning of game 6 of the 1985 World Series would have played out a lot differently. Chances are they lose to St. Louis. And the only thing keeping the Royals from being a Championship-free franchise and never winning a title for George Brett or Mr. Kaufmann was a blown call that would overturned today. Royals fans know it, even if they can’t admit it.

Los-Angeles-Angels

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM

“It’s the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim in Orange County
in the United States on Earth!”

The Angels have the stupidest name in baseball. Their fans know it. And they have heard about it for the past 10 seasons. You know how a tall person rolls their eyes when someone mockingly asks, “How is the weather up there?” or, “Why don’t you play basketball?” That’s the Angels fan base when you refer to that stupid name.

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LOS ANGELES DODGERS

“You all just show up late and leave early.”

Just say that to a die hard fan wearing a Fernando or Garvey or Koufax jersey, and you will get a lecture about the 110 and 5 freeways and the off-ramps leading into Chavez Ravine. Just kindly nod and remind them of all the cars seen leaving the parking lot during Kirk Gibson’s homer.

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MIAMI MARLINS

“Tell me about Jeffrey Loria.”

The odd thing about Loria is they have actually won a World Series under his ownership. But any goodwill with the fans was crushed, smashed and put into the foundation of the taxpayer-swindled stadium as he cut payroll.

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MILWAUKEE BREWERS

“Ryan Braun is a cheater and a jerk.”

There are lots of jerks and cheaters in baseball. Why should people care so much about Ryan Braun? Why should people try to discount the 2011 Division Series win because Braun used PEDs? That was the only Brewers post season series victory since the 1982 ALCS. Who is to say there weren’t Diamondbacks using PEDs? OK, Braun crowed too much and threw some people under the bus while lying. Brewers fans don’t have a lot of history to cheer about! (On the other hand, there is no denying he is a cheater and a jerk.)

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MINNESOTA TWINS

“Joe Mauer should try to hit more homers.”

This is great to get fans mad because it cuts both ways. Minnesota’s favorite son stuck around instead of going to the Red Sox and the Yankees, and now he is a first baseman with no power eating up the payroll. Some fans want him to try and jack balls out and earn his money. Others want him to remain a good pure hitter and not change. Either way, you will test the whole “Minnesota nice” thing.

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NEW YORK METS

“Fred Wilpon… discuss.”

To understand how hated Fred Wilpon is by the Mets fan base, just do this simple exercise. Imagine Donald Sterling, and replace his sex scandal with getting swindled by Bernie Madoff, and you have a good idea why burning him in effigy is a daily event in Flushing.

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NEW YORK YANKEES

“You just buy all your championships.”

Before you finish your sentence, Yankee fans will remind you that Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera, Bernie et al were home grown. Then they will preface every other sentence wit,h “27 rings” and, “You are jealous” and then rattle off all the players they expect the Yankees to sign in the next few years.

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS

“It is a bunch of nobodies on that team!”

The A’s currently have the best record in baseball, will no doubt make the playoffs for the third straight season and probably make it 3 division titles in as many seasons. They have more All Stars than any team in baseball. And yet people still talk about them like they are a rag tag bunch of anonymous misfits managed by Morris Buttermaker and whose playoff run is a million to one shot. Maybe it will take 4 straight division titles for anyone to notice.

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PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

“You boo Santa and vomit on little girls.”

Every team has fans who are drunken jerks (even in San Diego.) But it always seems dopey in Philadelphia. Phillies fans resent that label and refuse to be painted with the same brush as the biggest slobs. But inevitably something stupid will happen at a game in Philadelphia and the reputation will look justified.

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PITTSBURGH PIRATES

“Francisco Cabrera -“

You might not even be able to finish saying that particular third string catcher’s name before you get clobbered or at best given a stern look. The whole, “They haven’t had a winning season since Francisco Cabrera” narrative is over. But until they get to the World Series, his shadow will loom over the franchise… and every Pirate fan knows it.

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SAN DIEGO PADRES

“Trevor Hoffman was overrated.”

Hoffman was one of the most beloved Padres of all time, which shows you what a different market San Diego is than other baseball towns. Hoffman lost big games in the 1996 and 1998 postseason and almost single-handedly kept them out of the 2007 postseason with a pair of blown saved. But hey, as long as he piled up regular season saves that nobody remembers, then go ahead and love him.

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SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

“Remember Dusty Baker?”

Just say his name and watch Giants fans react like they just bit a lemon. The Giants had some of their most successful San Francisco seasons under Baker. And yet his managerial style seemed to age the entire Bay Area. When he let his son run on the field in the 2002 World Series, it wasn’t even the 4th dumbest thing Dusty did that October. And no, two World Series titles this decade haven’t let Dusty off the hook.

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SEATTLE MARINERS

“They spent a lot of time making sure the Safeco Experience is great.”

For too long the Mariners seemed more concerned with making the experience at Safeco a great one than putting a quality product on the field. Yeah, the seats are great, the views ideal and the food is awesome. Griffey, Edgar, Big Unit, A-Rod and Ichiro have come and gone without a World Series appearance. Time is ticking on Felix. A World Series experience would be even better!

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ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

“You are the best fans in baseball.”

You know the kid in class who keeps getting praised by the teacher sometimes gets resentment from the other students? You know the office mate who the boss always praises starts to get on everyone’s nerves? That’s kind of what is happening to Cardinal fans now. This title has led to an inevitable backlash, and some on the internet go out of their way to point out the BAD Cardinals fans. This won’t end well.

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TAMPA BAY RAYS

“What is up with your attendance?”

Man, the few real Rays fans that exist get really sensitive out of their horrific attendance. They will counter with their local TV ratings and how hard it is to get to the Trop and all other other stats. And none of those will wipe away the facts that their attendance, including postseason, is pathetic.

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TEXAS RANGERS

“Wait, you were one strike away twice in the same GAME?”

Not to mention one very poorly timed Nelson Cruz leap from winning the 2011 World Series title. That would have been nice. It won’t take much to get under a Rangers fan’s skin. Drop these two bombs and run. (Oh, and here’s a bonus – keep referring to their location as “Dallas” and watch what happens.)

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TORONTO BLUE JAYS

“It is tough to win in that Division.”

At one point, playing in the AL East was an act of futility for teams not playing in New York or Boston. So the narrative went that only the Yankees and Red Sox could afford to get the players to win and the other teams were there as punching bags. And the Blue Jays had some winning squads in the late 1990s and early 2000’s but couldn’t make the playoffs since the divisions expanded. But then the Rays ended that talk in 2008. Since 2012, the Blue Jays are the only AL East team to not play in October. And if the Royals make it this year, they will have the longest postseason drought in the game. Don’t remind Blue Jays fans.

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WASHINGTON NATIONALS

“They should never have benched Stephen Strasburg in 2012.”

The best chance the Nationals have ever had to bring a World Series to Washington, and they decided to play innings limits with Strasburg? Either Nats fans will grumble, “We know, we know” or they will scream that the bullpen blew the series! And then ask, “So, you want Strasburg to throw his arm out?”

So there you have it! Go out to the world and make a baseball fan angry. It is part of your duty as a fan!

Paul Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter and check out his podcast at @SullyBaseball.