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Mudville: July 23, 2024 2:23 am PDT

Some Like it Hot


The idiocy continues.

Blake Snell pitched five scoreless innings on Saturday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park to increase his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 21.

On the Padres telecast they were bragging about Snell’s ability to work and trust catcher Gary Sanchez. As an opponent Sanchez hit well against Snell, so he took that hitting info and offered it to Snell to help guide him on how to attack hitters.

Good for Sanchez.

With the bases loaded and two out in the fifth, Snell made Nick Castellanos look silly at the plate, busting a fastball right by him for a called strike one. Castellanos was not happy with the call and called a timeout to try to regroup. If you are a pitcher, you love that. You have the hitter in the palm of your hand. A breaking pitch was weakly fouled for an 0-2 count and then Snell bounced a perfect slider in the dirt.

Castellanos went fishing and struck out. Snell was in total command. Of his 82 pitches, 53 were strikes. But that was it. Snell did not come out for the sixth inning. Hot day is the excuse, there’s always an excuse. Bob Melvin or whoever was calling the shots, said that’s enough. Of course, the parade of relievers jump started the Phillies offense.

The Phillies hitters had to be thrilled that the tough lefty was taking a nice cold shower on a hot day. Steven Wilson, fresh off the IL, gave back two runs in the sixth, Nick Martinez one in the seventh, Tim Hill three in the eighth and the Phillies won, 6-4 – a gift game.

Did I mention that it was the first game of a split doubleheader? I guess the Padres wanted to get their bullpen going early. To not keep in a dealing starter in the first game of a doubleheader is crazy.

Did I mention it was hot? Of course, it was never hot in Bob Gibson’s day in the oppressive heat of summer of St. Louis. They tell me there is this climate change thing going on. You know what, baseball is played in the summer when it is hot. Some pitchers like it hot.

If the people in charge of baseball were in charge back in Bob Gibson’s day, no way would he have anything close to the 255 complete games and 51 shutouts Gibby pitched over his career. In 1968 Gibson produced 13 shutouts.

No, if the people in charge of baseball then were the people in charge of baseball now – the Nerds – manager Red Schoendienst would have had to yank Gibson in favor of relievers like Tim Hill, who, did I mention owns a 4.15 ERA.

No if the Nerds in charge of baseball now had their way, we would never see another complete game. This move came on the heels of Aaron (The Sly One) Boone, yanking Domingo German after 74 pitches and one hit on the Sunday before the All-Star game, a game the Yankees bullpen and Gleyber Torres blew.

Nearly every season the media proclaims AJ Preller a genius as the Padres find new ways to collapse.

The Nerds hate to see pure individual pitching success. You see, it has to be about them and the script they write and the numbers they favor.

You have to fool ‘em with a bevy of relievers.

Did I mention it was hot? That is the excuse the NEMs will offer, that is the Nerd Excuse Makers and the NEMs are everywhere.

It was so hot you just had to take Snell out. So what if he was Mr. Nasty and just made Castellanos look foolish? So what if in nine games with Gary Sanchez as his catcher Snell was sporting an 0.51 ERA?

It was so hot he had to come out. I asked a scout watching the game why Snell was removed and the wily scout gave the perfect answer for the state of today’s game, telling BallNine:

“It’s what the script said to do.’’

It’s always about the script.

Nowadays managers don’t follow the game, they follow the script.

I can attest that it was hot.

I was about 90 minutes north of Philadelphia in New Jersey on Saturday watching a ballgame. Not a Major League game. It was so hot at the Little League Sectional softball game I attended both pitchers managed to somehow pitch complete games, that’s six innings, folks, one more inning than Snell pitched but those two 10-year-old girls battled through the heat and the opposing lineups and credit to them, they performed well in the 3-1 game.

They pitched tough. They beat the heat.

Bob Melvin said his lefty was “cooked after the 5th.’’

Blake Snell #4 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game 1 of a split double header at Citizens Bank Park on July 15, 2023. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So cooked it was time to go to relievers who just came off the IL and relievers who are struggling mightily. The Padres Nerds did not even give Snell the opportunity to find another gear.

Soon the Padres were cooked.

“Blake pitched great and we had a chance to set it up for the guys to close it out for us and we got Wilson back – and Manny (Machado) hits a big homer and we can’t hold a lead again,’’ Melvin added.

Again is the key word.

What is the definition of insanity?

I am so tired of hearing, the “it was hot’’ excuse or any of the many other excuses. I am so tired of hearing, “the bullpen was rested’’ excuse. I am so tired of seeing starting pitchers being taken out early and not being upset about being taken out.

Could you imagine if Red Schoendienst came out to take Bob Gibson out after 74 pitches or after five shutout innings, part of 21 consecutive scoreless innings. And not just Bob Gibson, of course. Guys like David Cone. Guys like Orel Hershiser. Guys who earned nicknames like Bulldog.

Guys who knew it was their game come hell or high water. Pitchers who wanted to stay out there. Pitchers who were not five and fly or six and c-ya robots.

“I did my job.’’

That was the beauty of watching those pitchers and players compete. They dug deeper. They found something even if they didn’t have it and that is why we watched to see the human spirit overcome whatever challenge was out there. They battled. They were encouraged by those in charge to finish what you started or give us everything you got as long as you can go – and then we will figure out a plan to finish it.

And they didn’t get hurt like these pitchers so don’t give me the old “pitch count saves arms” routine.

The beauty of baseball was in the pure competition. It was a test of wills. It was mano y mano. And that’s why we watched.

It wasn’t a parade of relievers.

Pitcher Bob Gibson #45 of the St. Louis Cardinals during a circa late 1960's game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Gibson played for the Cardinals from 1959-75. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

And need I remind you that one of my favorite managers Kevin Cash made the same mistake with yanking a dealing Blake Snell in the World Series that likely cost the Rays the opportunity to grab the ring in what would have been their first World Series victory.

This was Bob Melvin’s version of Kevin Cash’s Deja Blew It all over again and it cost the scrambling Padres a key game. The Padres have been acting like they won the last three World Series going into this season, but the truth remains they have never won a single World Series.

Nearly every season the media proclaims AJ Preller a genius as the Padres find new ways to collapse. I still can’t get over Game 5 of last year’s NLCS that Bob Melvin did not go to lefty Josh Hader to face Bryce Harper. Instead, setup man Robert Suarez got the eighth inning call.

The NEMs will tell you that Suarez had not given up a home run to a lefty all season.

Yeah, but keep it simple stupid. Josh Hader over Robert Suarez any day of the week especially when your baseball season depends upon it.

Seems the Padres are making the same mistakes nine months later. I don’t even want to hear the Padres excuses this time around. That loss dropped them to 44-48.

I want to see pitchers start to stand up for themselves and say, let me pitch the sixth or the seventh or the eighth or the ninth. I want to see a Josh Hader want to face Bryce Harper in that NLCS eighth inning. I want to see the Nerds stay out of the decision-making process and let the players play the game. It’s often said that the fans don’t pay to watch the umpires.

I want to take that one step further. The fans don’t pay to watch the Nerds do their thing. They pay to watch the players do their thing.

This is just the latest example of Nerd Road Kill.

MLB is filled with idiotic decisions nearly every day.

Part of the fun of the All-Star Game forever was seeing all the different teams’ jerseys on the field together, a beautiful baseball palette of color. Yankees players in navy blue pinstripes next to Orioles orange. Mets players in their blue, orange and white colors next to Dodger players in their colors of Dodger blue, red and white.

Ozzie Smith of the Saint Louis Cardinals, Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox, and Benito Santiago of the San Diego Padres pose before the 1991 MLB All Star game at Sky Dome in Toronto, Canada. Smith played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1982-1996. Ozzie Guillen played for the Chicago White Sox from 1985-1997. Santiago played for the San Diego Padres from 1986-1992. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

That is a cool summer thrill for baseball fans; something the people in charge of money-grabbing MLB don’t understand because they are not baseball fans, they are money fans and anything goes.

That color palette is gone now in the effort to sell those pajama-looking outfits the players wore for this All-Star Game.

That’s what they are now, outfits, not uniforms.

Seems now like the players are more excited about what they wear to the Red Carpet Parade than how they perform in the All-Star Game, which is just another boring All-Star Game like the NBA’s bore-a-thon or what passes as an NFL All-Star Game.

MLB just rolls over and does what it does to make it a TV show for “new’’ fans instead of The Show and the All-Star Game ratings continue to drop. I wonder why.

This is essentially a beer softball league game except some players are wearing microphones and are saying what an “unreal’’ experience it has been as they talk to some MLB mouthpiece as the pitch is delivered.

Again, the mano y mano experience is gone.

The powers that be in baseball have been for years trying to soften the game.

There are no more real collisions at second base to break up a double play and who knows what is going on at home plate where catchers have to somehow catch the ball – sometimes on the rare occasion there is even a good throw from the outfield; catchers have to make the play and at the same time be a traffic cop and create a lane for the runner to follow as if it’s a bus lane going into the Lincoln Tunnel.

Unreal is the word.

The idiocy continues.

New York Yankees Mickey Mantle #7 takes lead as Baltimore Orioles Jim Gentile #4 covers 1st base at Memorial Stadium. Baltimore, MD, 1960. (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Did you notice the Yankees batted Josh Donaldson fourth Saturday night against the Rockies in Colorado at Coors Field, where the hitting never stops or the pitching never starts? The Yankees were coming off an embarrassing loss to the Rockies, 7-2.

Stay hot, Josh. Donaldson is hitting .142. He has 15 hits (10 home runs) and 32 Ks. Some Nerd once told me strikeouts and batting average don’t matter.

July 4th, 1960 is when I really first remember following the Yankees closely. I was 7.

On that July 4th a guy named Mickey Mantle batted fourth.

Talk about a comedown. From my time of being 7 to 70 the Yankees have gone from Mickey Mantle batting fourth to Josh Donaldson batting fourth.

It’s what the script said to do. At least Starr Insurance is getting a lot of bang for their 25 million bucks.

Pinstripes to Patches.

That could be the title of a new book on the decline of the Yankees, Pinstripes to Patches.

And how about this, a baseball man told BallNine this week he noticed this during White Sox batting practice, they put four screens in a semi-circle by where the BP pitcher stands.

Were they super protective of the BP pitcher?

No. The goal was to have the hitters hit the ball over the protective nets in launch mode. No line drives for you. Yes, more launch angle madness at the highest level of the game.

Let me remind you the White Sox own a .415 winning percentage, and here are some more numbers for the Nerds. The White Sox are hitting .237, 22nd best in MLB, not quite as bad as the Yankees .231. The Moneyball A’s pull up the rear at .222.

The idiocy continues.

45+ years, columnist at NY Post for the last 23 years prior to joining BallNine. Elected to the NY Baseball Hall of Fame. Former SportsTalk Host (KFMB), ESPN’s First Take and Cold Pizza contributor. Frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts nationwide. Author of seven books. Seen in episode 10 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (the one with Dennis Rodman). First baseball interview he conducted was with Thurman Munson. Now you know why he is America’s Most Beloved Sportswriter.

  • Bob

    You are right on with the nerds who have no clue on what it takes to win. Don’t get pitcher hurt with number of pitches. All bs. More get hurt than ever . None get better. Go to weight room, then blow out but you threw 100mph. Wake up you non baseball assholes

    July 18, 2023
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