Bye Bye Brad
We wrote about the likelihood that Brad Ausmus would not be extended as the Tigers’ manager yesterday. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News also weighed in with some of the verbal cues the Tigers’ manager has been sending that his time in Detroit is coming to an end. It’s not a lock yet perhaps, but it sure feels like a parting is in the air.
Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, as well as Yahoo Sports all weighed in on Ausmus presumed firing yesterday. We’ve seen a tide of media come in on firing Ausmus before, and it didn’t happen. This time, everyone thinks it’s for real.
On the turning away
The task of rebuilding the Detroit Tigers into a contender will be a long and difficult one. Hard times are a comin’ and the fanbase is already voicing their displeasure with their proverbial pocketbooks. The turning away that accompanies a team’s descent into mediocrity is at hand.
Thus far, it hasn’t been dramatic. Henning has a nice breakdown of the attendance figures in relation to the league, and to the team’s decade long run as a force to be reckoned with. The Tigers have done fine considering their record. They’ll end the season as the second best draw in the AL Central. But the erosion of season ticket sales is coming now that a lot of team’s stars are gone.
Keep your head up
There was another ugly incident in which a young fan was drilled in the head with a foul ball on Wednesday. It happened at Yankee Stadium this time, and fortunately, preliminary reports are that she sound be okay. This has been an ongoing topic for years, as a lot of players have called for expanded netting beyond the home plate area in recent years after witnessing fans injured by foul balls. Brian Dozier, Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier all weighed in after the Yankees-Twins game.
Child gets hit by a foul ball at Yankees game. The players' reactions say it all. pic.twitter.com/YIyaBJq7tT— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 20, 2017
Just two seasons ago, Justin Verlander and other Tigers expressed the same sentiments after a fan was hit at Comerica Park. It’s frustrating to those of us who consistently are paying attention at games, and not concerned about this personally, but it’s something the league can no longer ignore. Hopefully a solution can be found to get netting extended out beyond the bullpens while not diminishing the fans’ live experience. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is really taking the league to task over this.
The Dodgers are falling apart
The Los Angeles Dodgers undoubtedly have enough talent to win a World Series, and remain a serious threat to do so, but the bloom is off the rose. The juggernaut that crushed all opposition over the first half of the season is long gone, and the team’s confidence is reeling as they stagger from loss to loss. The lowly Philadelphia Phillies just welcomed the Dodgers into Citizens Bank Park and paddled them for three games. For a team so lauded for the incredible depth of talent, there are only a few guys providing any answers for them right now.
From Corey Seager’s elbow problem, to Pedro Baez coming unglued in the bullpen, there are suddenly issues everywhere you look. Clayton Kershaw is going to go into the postseason after missing a lot of games. The Dodgers’ ace will only have a handful of tune-up starts—mediocre ones by his standards—in which to get as sharp as his team needs him to be before the postseason begins. And the immediate threat is clear.
The Brewers or Rockies could certainly win any single wild card game, but should the Diamondbacks come through, the Dodgers are in trouble. The Diamondbacks are 11-8 in September. They swept the Dodgers just over a week ago. Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke and Zack Godley look much better able to matchup with Kershaw, Darvish and Wood at this point than would’ve seemed possible six months ago. The Dbacks bullpen is better, and the Dodgers lefties do not want to see J.D. Martinez come to the dish with runners on considering the rampage the former Tigers’ slugger is on in the second half.
Still, the Diamondbacks sluggish offense recently says they’re not without concerns of their own.
Around the horn
Kate Morrison of Fan Rag Sports looks at the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners and tries to decide which team has been more of a disappointment. Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs prospect guru, looks at what a player’s size says about his ability to stick at shortstop. The Cleveland Indians are trying to move Jason Kipnis to center field. Matthew Trueblood of Baseball Prospectus dives into the decline of the sinker as pitchers move to more offspeed and to the high fastball to counter the home run revolution.
Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated writes that Justin Verlander is leading the way for the Houston Astros. Michael Baumann argues that the World Series isn’t about determining the best team in baseball. Meanwhile Ichiro Suzuki continues to contribute, and to close on a number of minor records, as Ben Lindbergh of the Ringer investigates.