Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley follow up briefly on their recent Scott Boras banter, then answer listener emails about what a manager has to do to get fired because of a single game, possible scenarios in which Mookie Betts enters the Hall of Fame representing the Red Sox instead of the Dodgers, whether nature excursions could be beneficial to teams, what baseball would be like with weight classes for players, which party or parties to root for in conflicts between MLB and the minor leagues, how many players they could recognize from their mechanics if they saw them only as stick figures, and more, plus a Stat Blast about the most itinerant journeymen.
- Firing a manager for a single game
- Mookie Betts' Hall of Fame hat
- Value of players getting outdoors
- Baseball with weight classes
- How to evaluate the minor league team disputes
- Recognizing players as stick figures
- Recognizable batting stances and windups
- Terry Francona's comments on the Cleveland name change
- Episode 1101 follow-up: The truest journeyman
- Episode 1630 follow-up: Several listeners wrote in drawing attention to Scott Boras' Perry Mason pun that likely was meant to draw comparison to Angels' GM Perry Minasian. Meg says that we should "demand better from our punsters".
- Meg and Ben discuss another recent bit of Boras wordplay, referencing Return of the Jedi when discussing the Cubs and Jed Hoyer.
- Derek: (I swear this is a baseball question despite this first paragraph.) Lucien Favre was fired as manager of Borussia Dortmund, a top-5 German soccer team, this weekend after losing 5-1 to Stuttgart, who is newly promoted from the German second division this season. Dortmund came into the game in 5th place in Germany, which is maybe a bit below pre-season expectations (but it's early!), but also just advanced to the final 16 in the Champions League, which theoretically means they are one of the best 16 teams in Europe (and really therefore, the world). And going into the game they had literally the best expected-goal differential of any team in the top 5 European leagues! So basically Dortmund was at least meeting all reasonable expectations before this Stuttgart game, and the powers-that-be decided that the single 5-1 loss was enough to fire the manager! (backroom politics notwithstanding - nothing along these lines that would result in Favre's firing is publicly known as far as I'm aware anyway) Better and fuller explanation of the situation: Why Did One of the Best Teams in the World Just Fire One of the Best Coaches in the World? - No Grass in the Clouds. So my question is: how badly would a single game have to go for an MLB manager to be fired in a season in which their team had otherwise more or less met expectations? (or even a 4- or 5-game stretch, which would be roughly equivalent to the 1/34 of a season that Dortmund's loss to Stuttgart represented). An analogous situation to Favre's might be the Dodgers firing Dave Roberts after a single, apocalyptically disastrous game dropped the Dodgers to 28-22 or something. Seems impossible, but I'd also very much like to hear what single-game scenarios could make that justifiable!
- Adrian: I was wondering in light of how Mookie’s career has tracked and how many HOF measures he’s already hit as per Jay Jaffe’s article: Is there a scenario (based on performance not his preference), where he makes the Hall of Fame, but wearing a Red Sox hat. So I guess what I’m asking, is what would his career arc have to look like for this to happen? Not sure if his 52 game 2014 season, and last years 54 game season count as 1 or 2 years of eligibility for the 10 year requirement, but presuming they each count for one, that leaves three more years he needs for eligibility....so what would those three years have to look like if his career ended after them, for him to make the Hall of Fame, but it would make more sense to enshrine him as a member of the Red Sox. Three, 3 WAR seasons, with no further gold gloves, All star appearances, WS titles, or major awards? One 10 WAR season where Tatis Jr has an 11 WAR season and wins MVP, and the Dodgers dont make the playoffs, followed by two 1 WAR seasons? We’ll say he retires to pursue bowling full time, rather than a career ending injury or sudden decline.
- Max: I was just listening to episode 1620 (catching up) and Jeff Sullivan’s comments about how much he enjoys the wilderness, and how COVID-related shutdowns affected nature trails near him, got me thinking: could getting players out in nature be a kind of market inefficiency? There’s a growing body of evidence showing that being outdoors, especially in less-developed, ‘nature-y’ places, boosts health and well-being and even improves mood. On some level, I think the baseball establishment once understood this. The modern idea of spring training was more or less born at Arkansas’ Hot Springs, much of which is now a national park. Along with the namesake attraction, one of the big draws was hiking in the woods. As reported by Leigh Montville, Babe Ruth would incorporate hiking occasionally, any time Yankees’ executive Ed Barrow “looked at him and said, ‘My God, you slob. Off to Hot Springs,’” whereupon “the Babe and [The New York Daily News’ Marshall Hunt] would take off and go down there and play a lot of golf and take a lot of hikes.” It was sometimes instituted in an official capacity; the 1910 Athletics’ spring training regimen called for “a good deal of hiking,” according to a biography of Eddie Collins. I suppose there’s already a major contingent of players who pass the offseason out hunting somewhere, but what if teams were more intentional about it? Getting employees to spend time outside is a bit of a corporate fad in recent years, and while ballplayers are already pretty physically active and wouldn’t be trading away soul-sucking screentime for time in the wilderness, you have to imagine it would do them some good anyway. Or maybe I’d just like to see some iconoclastic, wild-eyed GM or manager leading their team up into the mountains (hopefully not LaRussa, as I'd be worried about him making guys sleep on rocks or something). Just imagine Max Scherzer emerging from the woods in March with a huge, tangled beard, maybe wearing a fur pelt.
- Brett: On episode 1625 you attempted to find examples in other sports where size affects play and I thought of combat sports (Wrestling, Boxing,MMA). So then I wondered what if baseball had weight classes? Which would produce the most fun baseball and what weights should they be at? College Wrestling has 10 weight classes but I thought for baseball purposes there should be much fewer because the vast majority of players are between like 180-220 pounds. So I thought 190 210 230 and heavyweight(unlimited) would be the best way to go. Anyway if baseball had weight divisions what weights would you want to see for and which would be the most fun?
- Bobby: Being the person who I am, I like to have a side to root for in high profile conflicts My instinct is generally to root for the little guy, so I guess I want to root for the minor league owners fans cities etc. Except sometime during your last podcast it occurred to me that I should probably root against whoever did more to pass the law that keeps it legal to pay minor leaguers below minimum wage. But I don’t know who that is! Can you help me?
- Tanner: Howdy folks, I have a twist on a classic baseball conversation. I always enjoy a discussion on iconic hitting stances and pitching motions, whether they ooze pizzazz like Sheffield's bat waggle or puzzle onlookers like Kimbrel's storklike arm angle. I'm hoping the pose tracking capabilities of the new Hawkeye technology will add a wrinkle to this conversation (https://www.mlb.com/news/2020-statcast-update-includes-pose-tracking-capabilities). Over the summer ESPN aired a montage of Johnny Cueto's arsenal of windups (partway down the linked page), which struck me as the perfect player for this discussion, for many familiar with his mannerisms would still recognize the stick figure turning away from the hitter before throwing the pitch. My question to you, Ben and Meg, is how many players would you feel confident you could recognize when rendered as a stick figure? If you were stacking the deck with the most obvious, with whom would you start?
- Nahtahn: In episode 1101, you defined what a journeyman is, but I was wondering if I could find the truest journeyman in MLB history. I came upon Al Cicotte, a pitcher who pitched in 102 games from 1957 to 1962 with six teams (none of them for more than one season). Is this the most MLB teams a player has played for without spending multiple seasons on the same team? And what is the highest ratio of teams played for to seasons played for a player?
- In a follow up to a discussion in Episode 1101, Ben examines data about journeyman players.
- Eddie Phillips played for six teams over the course of six seasons, never spending more than one full season with a team.
- Four different players, mostly recently Breyvic Valera, have played for five teams within a span of three seasons.
- A player must only play in one game during a season for it to count as years towards their Hall of Fame eligibility.
- In considering journeyman careers, Ben would rather have one "crazy" year with multiple teams, whereas Meg would prefer to spend a full season with a team before moving to a new city.