Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A new Tigers manager, frustrated with poor fundamentals, mental mistakes, and occasional breakdowns in effort, wants to see the organizational philosophy overhauled from top to bottom. It would appear that the organization failed to implement the Brad Ausmus version of a Tigers Way-style protocol throughout the Tigers’ system. On the West Coast swing last week, Ron Gardenhire pitched a similar thought process, calling for a unified effort to produce a more consistent brand of sound baseball from rookie ball to the major leagues.
Jason Beck had the story, and quotes from the Tigers’ skipper, for MLB.com.
“That’s the goal,” Gardenhire said Wednesday. “We’re trying to do the same thing all the way up, whether it’s the signs, the plays that we’re using, that stuff. I never want to stop [Minor League managers] from being able to put some plays in, pickoffs, stuff like that. But you need to get it from the ground up on how we’re going to play the game.
Plunking (punking?) Acuna
Ronald Acuña Jr. has been a one-man offense over the past week. Coming into Wednesday’s matchup with the Miami Marlins, Acuña had homered in five consecutive games, and had led off three straight games with a home run. So when Marlins’ starter, José Ureña, drilled Acuña in the arm on Wednesday with the first pitch of the game, it looked just a wee bit suspicious. Umbrage was taken. UMBRAGE!!!
Benches clear in Marlins-Braves after José Ureña hits Ronald Acuña Jr. in 1st inning.— MLB (@MLB) August 16, 2018
Acuña Jr. (5 straight games with HR, 3 straight with leadoff HR) exits in 2nd inning. pic.twitter.com/V2aSu97YEX
Of course, everyone is 100 percent certain that Ureña did this on purpose. And the circumstances tend to support that certainty. This certainty isn’t interested in the fact that Ureña is wild and has already hit 11 batters on the year. Certainty is certain, you see, and now everything must change! Jeff Passan at Yahoo has already disparaged Ureña as a despicable coward, and baseball writers everywhere can’t get their huff in print quick enough. Jon Tayler at SI.com is calling for a 20-30 game suspension. Fine, fine. It looks bad, no doubt about that, and Acuña Jr. is a budding star so everyone go off per usual...
In fact, Mets’ broadcaster and noted Seinfeld guest star, Keith Hernandez, went so far as to express certainty that Marlins’ manager, Don Mattingly, ordered the hit on Acuña. Hernandez approved such action in the midst of your typical old-ballplayer spiel about how getting hit while on a hot streak used to be standard practice, and how Acuña should’ve been expecting this. Nothing sells the modern game more than the endless string of old ballplayers given platforms all over the league to complain about it, of course.
Acuña, fortunately, suffered no broken bones in his arm or elbow and shouldn’t be out very long. Getting hit by a pitch in the first plate appearance also means that his streaks will be intact the next time he steps into the batter’s box.
The whole thing sucks, but forgive me if the sputtering howls of outrage have grown a bit stale. We’re inches from suspending every pitcher for any hit-by-pitch that makes us all especially mad. Hitting people because you can’t get them out is bush league. I think we can all agree on that front. But at the end of the day, this is about the rules. If hitting a guy with a pitch is going to be a 20-30 game suspension, we’ve entered into seriously different territory as a game. If such a suspension is only applicable if said hit batter is on a tear, is very popular, or a noted bat-flipper...well that seems rather arbitrary.
Besides, I thought the Giants were in charge of policing the game?
Benches clear in Giants-Dodgers game with Nick Hundley and Yasiel Puig at the center of it. pic.twitter.com/r3ZHHdzL3A— MLB (@MLB) August 15, 2018
Ghosts of Tiger Stadium
Bob Busser has been photographing ballparks since 1967. In that time, he’s shot over 800 ballparks, and 75,000 pictures, some of which are on display in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The site 1980s Baseball interviewed him about his work, and specifically about his photos of Tiger Stadium, from the glory days, to the years of neglect following its abandonment as the team moved to Comerica Park.
Around the horn
Jay Jaffe looks at the crumbling Cubs rotation, and whether Cole Hamels alone can save it. Sports Illustrated looks at the AL West and the best hope for an exciting stretch drive in baseball. Zach Kram looks at the monster that is Chris Sale as he surges toward his first Cy Young award. The Cubs are sick of bad umpiring, and here I think we can all find some common ground.
The Freep continues its look at who wore each number best throughout Detroit Tigers’ history. After a solid rebound campaign, albeit one again interrupted by a sizable DL stint, Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t given up hope of finishing his contract with a couple of strong seasons.