Yakkin' About Baseball: Walking The Bases Empty

Coming back, getting injured, Candymanning Kirk Gibson, and traveling through time with an unhappy Steve Trachsel.
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David Roth: I don't know why this is on my mind right now, but it occurs to me that there's a definite difference between accepting that Tommy John Surgery is just a thing that happens to young pitchers—and that it's not necessarily anyone's fault when it happens—and being cool with it when it happens to the young pitcher that makes one's particular baseball team worth watching. Again, #JustMusing.

David Raposa: Yeah, especially when stuff about dealing with a sore arm was mentioned. You'd think they'd be super-extra careful about Matt Harvey, given that he is Matt Harvey and they are the Mets.

David Roth: Ah, you'd think a lot of things about the Mets. But given that this is a team that tried to teach Jose Reyes to run differently so as to protect an investment in Kazuo Matsui as franchise shortstop, it seems like they just biffed this like every other team does. Which is actually a pretty solid accomplishment.

David Roth: That said, there's still a part of me that expects to read the words "experimental piranha therapy" or "controversial crystal-based therapy overseen by Stevie Nicks' disgraced former personal shaman" before this week is over. I'm in no way ruling out that the injury was due to Jeff Wilpon making Harvey arm-wrestle different football players for a web series he's pitching. We are all John Buck right now.

David Raposa: Have you seen Mitch Williams' less-than-informed thoughts on the subject?

David Roth: I sort of heard it when I was talking to my dad earlier, I think? I explained the general consensus on Tommy John stuff and injuries in general and then spent twenty minutes answering classic questions as "What about Warren Spahn?" and "Warren Spahn pitched until he was 51!"

David Raposa: Sir Mitch was just preaching some rub-some-dirt-on-it bullshit. Like, "he's probably been pitching with an UCL tear since high school, and he could probably go out there right now and K 15."

David Roth: Well, Mitch Williams does know a little something about... wait, this is Mitch Williams the pitcher? The guy with the hair and the face and the Joe Carter and such?

David Raposa: That's the meat.

David Roth: Well, I value his opinion as ever. But I'm going to refrain from making a judgment until we hear from Jack Clark. The only guy that REALLY KNOWS what happens. Who injected whom and what Obama knew when and so on.

David Raposa: Get that man back on the airwaves!

David Roth: We've never needed him more. He is not the hero we want, and maybe even shittier than the hero we deserve. Or a hero, really. But he probably has some cool Tom Herr stories.

David Raposa: I'd love to hear about Clark and Willie McGee riding the slopes together. Meaning they were in Aspen, Colorado, skiing. That's what I mean. 

David Roth: "So, Tito Landrum had murdered a guy—this is common knowledge, a guy who knew Bob Forsch's uncle told me this—and it turns out that guy was in the mob. Long story short, we wound up trading for Tom Brunansky. Back after this."

David Raposa: It's possible that Clark is a step up from the Yasiel Puig "conga line" critiques from last week. I hope the Dodgers celebrate every win from this point forward by marching off the field hand-to-hip.

David Roth: "Hoo, boy." - An Entire Paragraph In Scott Miller's Puig Column.

David Raposa: If only Bryce Harper were this rough around the edges last year, so Scott Miller and other members of the Too Loud Family (RIP) could've written about him boot-scooting and line-dancing his life away as his team falls apart around him against St. Louis. Because obviously they would've written that, right?

David Roth: "If the Nationals are going to win, Bryce Harper's 'Party In The USA' will have to stop. Even if the Jay-Z song was on. Even if the Jay-Z song was on. Fans have a message for the Nats' teen idle. More work. Less twerk."

David Raposa: "They better hope he hears it before Harper hops in his Hemi-powered Dodge pick-up to head to the Jersey Shore to pop mollys for the winter."

David Raposa: If only more ballplayers could be as unassuming and professional as [insert name of Tampa Bay Rays mouthbreather here].

David Roth: That our model franchise for savvy team play employs Delmon "Protocols of the Elders of Tampa" Young, Josh Lueke and future Hannity guest-host Luke Scott does seem strange.

David Raposa: The only explanation I can come up w/ for the Rays double-dipping with Delmon is they needed an on-site example in the minors so their young players know how to not conduct themselves. And John Rocker was asking for too much to join up as a roving instructor.

David Roth: "Yeah, it's called The Free Market and it's in the bible!" – John Rocker to a Rays exec who's already hung up.

David Raposa: And if there ever was a franchise that didn't need to pick through the prison leagues for assholes that can pitch a bit, it's the team that traded their second best starter during the offseason! I guess we should be happy they're not kicking the tires on noted feminist Elijah Dukes?

David Roth: I still admire them and am glad they're doing well, just on sheer implausibility. Also weird to look at their B/R page and realize how patchwork they still are. Lot of Jamey Wright in the monitors, there.

David Raposa: Lot of EFFECTIVE Jamey Wright, though.

David Roth: Yup, which is one of the more rare and valuable types of Jamey Wright.

David Raposa: At least they still grok the catch-as-catch-can nature of relief pitching. When it doesn't come to dudes accused of rape, anyway. At any rate, I'm not sure I want to live in a world where the Yankees are both the scrappy underdogs AND the model citizens of MLB when compared to the Rays.

David Roth: I am feeling this new incarnation of A-Rod, though. Triple-reverse Heel-Hero. Tip-frosted outlaw. Poreless jailhouse lawyer. With all due respect to the scrap n' virtue of Jayson Nix, but I find Avatar For All The Contradictions And Unease Of Our Sporting Times more interesting.

David Raposa: One of the Yankee beat writers reported on Twitter Friday that he received a standing ovation when he took the field recently. This, from a fanbase that was probably applauding him with one hand after they won the World Series so they could still flip him off with the other.

David Roth: Never underestimate the compulsion among successful people to feel victimized. These chinstrapped Vins weren't going to accept him as a True Yankee, but now he—like them—is beset by haters on all sides. All because haters don't want to let him be great. SMDH.

David Raposa: If A-Rod's being deemed worthy of pre-game applause, I shudder to think how Yankee Universe is coping with the return of Alfonso Soriano. Mike Francesa must be creaming his pleats between power naps.

David Roth: Nothing this side of extra-strength Puig is more fun to watch than Soriano when he is at Peak Soriano. Just swinging at and hitting everything, all lopey and Jar Jar Binks-ian.

David Raposa: He's making like a lithe Manny Ramirez, especially when he "plays" the field.

David Roth: Watch Soriano right now and you can basically see those little stars that popped off around Beavis' head when he became Cornholio.

David Raposa: I was going to attempt some sort of slight-fueled umbrage re: the Yankees making a honest-to-goodness playoff run, but I just don't have the heart. Also, the newly minted BPro / MLB.com playoff odds tracker says they only have an 8% chance of making it, so cue the sparklers and bring over the apple chicken sausage.

David Roth: The Yankees certainly won't make it. I look forward to Francesa blaming it on Phil Hughes or Obamacare or his producer.

David Raposa: Dude, JOBER is right there holding an actual smoking gun. He's been performing pitcher seppuku all year. 17 walks in 32 IP and six homers! Whatever the Red Sox are paying him, it's clearly not enough.

David Roth: It's always jarring when something some sports radio bile-sac baloneys into a microphone actually turns out to be true. Like, surely there is someone saying that the Orioles would be in the playoffs if Jim Johnson wasn't their closer. And obviously you hear grown men screaming things like that and are like "maybe explore a new course of medication."

David Raposa: Well, blaming the guy that's on the mound when the game's lost is sexier than looking at what happened before that guy took the hill and seeing if the cause lies there. At any rate, though, even a broken cholesterol-filled vaguely sexist clock's right twice a day.

David Roth: Surely. That's when you realize Jim Johnson has personally lost seven games for a team that's 5.5 out of first.

David Raposa: But, even then, that's on Buck not being flexible enough to make a move to, like, not have Jim Johnson pitch with a game on the line. I mean, even Jim Leyland stopped giving Valverde the ball, eventually.

David Roth: I finally got to see the Dodgers when the Mets showed up to get DODGER'ed recently. And they are really interesting to watch right now. There is something really different about a team winning like that. Things just happen their way; it's gravitational. And then you remember that Matt Kemp is coming back, or that Hanley has the day off.

David Raposa: Did that malcontent Puig manage to ensorcel your heart?

David Roth: He's fascinating. He will look AWFUL in at-bats. Worse than Vlad ever did, although they're not dissimilar. And then suddenly he will triple in size and do something ridiculous. Even he doesn't seem to get it.

David Raposa: I think I've seen him attempt the "single to center, slide into second" trick twice so far. He went 1-for-2, but even on the failed attempt, when it seemed completely obvious he was going to be a dead duck, the throw beat him by maybe a couple of inches.

David Raposa: And there was that defensive play where he nailed Marlon Byrd at third on a single down the right field line, right? Where he threw the ball almost from the corner straight to the bag? I mean, you pull those rabbits out of your hat on a regular basis, then conga away, dude.

David Roth: But October's different! He should try to be more like Cody Ross. MY COLUMN

David Raposa: And he's only 22! All the pasty trussed-up Champions Of The Right Way To Play Baseball need to think back a few chins ago when they were just out of puberty and entering the real world. The number of rookies older than 22 that had the game figured out in their first 70 games in the bigs could be counted on maybe one hand. Younger than that... A-Rod? Griffey? Trout? DEREK JETER struggled when he first came up. I'm sure David Eckstein did as well.

David Roth: I kind of can't be that mad at them, but also couldn't be further from getting it. Who wants baseball to be less ridiculous? That is the basic thing for me. Wanting Yasiel Puig to play like some cop-eyed ATV-salesman Diamondback in camo sliding pads just doesn't compute for me.

David Raposa: You are seriously trying to Candyman Kirk Gibson, aren't you?

David Roth: COME AT ME, KIRK. (Not really, he would kill me and turn me into jerky.)

David Raposa: I heard Gibson does actually have bees inside his jersey, but they're the bees that help make Jack Daniels' Tennessee Honey.

David Roth: Do you have any thoughts on Brian Wilson making it back? I think he said it best, with regards to his comeback: "GOT HEEM Tiger Blood the beard #winning." He's learned a lot.

David Raposa: Like what to do with spare rubber bands.

David Roth: I do sort of hope that Marmol and Wilson room together on the road. And maybe form a jazz combo or something.

David Raposa: The True #BLACKOPS Love Supreme. I can see Wilson dropping some very esoteric beat poetry over Marmol doing 15/7 time on the one-man-band kit.

David Raposa: "I got / a FAST ball / in your / kitchen // Make a salad / out of that / HIGH cheese" *farfisa blurt*

David Raposa: And then, as Nick Punto pulls out his spoons, Don Mattingly exhales, closes his eyes, and finally lets his sideburns grow.

David Roth: Also, this is a less-inspiring comeback, maybe, but do you have any tips on how to best enjoy a Dice-K start? It's important to me that the Mets remain weird, but also I don't know where to score laudanum.

David Raposa: Oh boy. First of all (though I'm sure you already knew this), you'll need to set aside at least four hours.

David Raposa: In his "prime," he'd load the bases on 29 nibble-happy pitches, and them somehow get wiggle out of it stranding all three runners. Obviously, the reason the Mets stumbled upon him is that he forgot how to do that last bit. There's nothing like watching a guy work the edges of the plate like he's earned the right to expand the strike zone. And doing so while taking enough time between pitches to listen to an e-book of The Fountainhead played at quarter-speed.

David Roth: That's my type of baseball right there. I'm working with Steve Trachsel to open a pitching academy focused solely on pacing and making kidney stone faces between pitches.

David Raposa: Oh, then you're in luck; Dice-K will make Trachsel look like Greg Maddux on getaway day.

David Roth: That's not possible. Trachsel lives, grumpily and in the mid-80s, far outside of what you understand as "time." For instance: I am still at a game Steve Trachsel started in 2006. I'm in my seat right now. It's the seventh inning. He just stepped off the rubber.

David Raposa: You should call Senator Obama and tell him where Bin Laden is hiding.

David Roth: The only other person in the seats with me is Robert Blake's character from Lost Highway. It doesn't end well, I know. But I think maybe it also doesn't end?


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