Naturally, there need to be congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for completing such a dominant MLB season with a dominant World Series championship. As we were watching Games 3-5 in the sportsbook in Las Vegas, we were directly reminded that the Red Sox are relentless. Trailing 4-0 late in Game 4, one might have expected to see some frustration, or some quit in the Red Sox dugout; it was almost the opposite. The dugout camera shots gave us the impression that the players knew there was going to be an eruption, but they did not know when it was going to happen. Well, it happened in the final 3 innings when the Red Sox put 8 big runs on the scoreboard.
Much has been made about the “managerial errors” made by Dave Roberts. While I totally agree that his lifting of Rich Hill in Game 4 was premature and boneheaded – – and that is not a second-guess as any of my viewing companions will attest – – I think there is a larger problem here. I think what Dave Roberts is guilty of is over-managing. Frankly, far too many MLB managers do that these days – particularly the true-believers in advanced analytics. There are times when a manager ought to believe what he sees with his eyes on the field as opposed to what the Excel spreadsheet says in his briefing book. Advanced analytics has its place but if it were the absolute answer to every baseball situation, every game would come down to a 1-0 game depending on which team made the first run-producing physical error on the field.
- [Aside: One of my weekend companions got a message from a friend with a fantastic stat. According to the message, the seven-and-a-half-hour marathon game in this World Series was longer than the entire 1939 World Series – a 4-game sweep by the Yankees. That was in the days when you could actually see MLB games that took less than 2 hours more than twice a year.]
Imagine that the “marathon game” had started in the afternoon instead of at 5:00 PM on the west coast. Lots more people would have been able to see the whole game because even in the Pacific Time Zone, there were far fewer people there to see the final inning than there were in the sportsbook an hour-and-a-half earlier. On the East Coast, the game did not end until after 3:00 AM. For the remaining TV sets that were still on at that time, I suspect that more than a few of those sets did not have any open eyeballs staring at them.
- Memo to Commissioner Manford: I know you cannot predict which games will take forever and which ones will be over in short order. Nonetheless, please use your “Commish authority” to require one game in the World Series to be played with an afternoon start. In fact, let me be more specific; make it the Saturday World Series game. You may get lucky and have a great game on TV at a time when a lot more people can be awake to see it happen.
According to Clayton Kershaw’s contract, he has 72 hours from the conclusion of the World Series to notify the Dodgers if he will exercise his option to get out of the final two years of his 7-year contract worth a total of $215M. If I read the terms of what is left on the deal, Kershaw has 2 more years with LA and for those 2 years he will take in $65M of the Dodgers’ money
Clayton Kershaw is an excellent pitcher – but he is not nearly the pitcher he was 5 years ago when he signed that deal. He has had arm issues and a lower back issue sufficient to put him on the DL in each of the last 2 seasons; advanced analytical folks say his average fastball has lost a few miles per hour and that loss of velocity makes his slider less effective. Let me stipulate that; I am sure plenty of MLB execs and managers will take that as gospel truth.
The question comes down to this; it is a bird-in-the-hand situation:
- Can Clayton Kershaw get a deal this winter that will pay him more than $65M plus whatever the going rate will be for his services 3 years down the road?
Clearly, that is an unanswerable question; but that is the financial landscape to be filled in here. Personally, I think his best financial move is to stay with the Dodgers and collect his $65M and then see how things shake out after the 2020 MLB season.
Switching gears… The verdict is in; the jury found the Adidas execs guilty of fraud because they paid college basketball recruits under the table. You know my skepticism here about the basis of this trial in the first place; I have said several times that I do not believe any federal law was broken here even though:
- What the execs and agents and runners did and still do is despicable – and –
- There are NCAA rules prohibiting anything resembling what they did – and –
- The colleges are complicit in all of this because of their passivity and tolerance of the status quo.
I have no expertise in legal theory and do not pretend that I do; so, I have now asked three friends who are both sports fans and practicing attorneys about the legal basis of this case. All three of them agree with my three points above – particularly in the colleges’ complicity in this mess. Moreover, they all agree that they do not see any federal law that was broken here and one of the three said he will be shocked if the conviction stands up on appeal. The other two were less certain of the outcome of an appeal but said they hoped it would be overturned.
I do not live in the jurisdiction where this case was tried so I could never have been selected for the jury. However, if I were on that jury, the panel would still be deliberating, and gridlock would seem inevitable.
Finally, here is a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Art: The deliberate arrangement of elements in any given medium in such a way as to appeal to the aesthetic sense. If the last few centuries are any indication, most works of art could easily have been painted by the five year old child of whoever is viewing the painting.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………
4 thoughts on “Congratulations To The Boston Red Sox”
1. If you were the manager, and your pitcher told you to keep an eye on him, what would you think the pitcher was trying to tell you? “I’m goin’ strong, Skip. I’m going to finish this game!” No. He is saying, “I’m running out of gas, Skip I might not make it through the next inning.” And then when the guy hands the ball to the manager without being asked, you know he wants out, regardless of what he says after the game.
2. What statute were the Adidas execs actually convicted of violating? There has to be one. (I’m asking. I don’t know.) There is one known as “Honest Services Wire Fraud” that is a catch-all law commonly used by federal prosecutors. It is controversial, but I don’t think appeals courts have bounced it yet.
The execs were convicted of wire fraud and the universities were the alleged victims here on the theory that by paying the recruits covertly, the universities were unwittingly getting players that could land them on probation or worse with the NCAA and that would cost the universities lots of potential revenue. It is contorted logic in my mind…
Most of us here in LA agree that Roberts made some bad decisions, but he also took a very inconsistent team to the World Series, which is why he’ll be back next year. One of his problems is that he has 16 position players who could play every day on other teams. Hard to keep them all happy.
I have no doubt that Roberts will be back to manage the Dodgers in 2019. I may not have agreed with all of his managerial decisions in the World Series – – and he made too many such decisions for my taste – – but the Dodgers lost the series simply because the Red Sox were the better team.
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