The buddy cops driving the MLB’s unwritten rules squad car last night were Bob Melvin and Eric Hosmer of the SDPD. The Padres’ manager and first baseman respectively took issue with a bunt single by Giants’ utility man Mauricio Dubón in the sixth inning with San Francisco up nine runs.
Here’s what Hosmer said he told Dubón after the play, and one can only assume his tone was as condescending as the quote implies it was.
“I definitely told him how I felt, how we felt about it. He said it was a sign given to him by their staff. I just told him I think you’ve got to be a little bit smarter in that situation. You’ve been playing professional ball for a good amount of time obviously if you’re at this level. You’ve got to be smarter than that.”
Naturally, Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler was asked about it after the game, and his response was essentially, I’m here to not only beat teams but to grind pitching staffs down to dirt so that, by the final game of a series, they need to fill innings with infielders.
Here’s the full quote if you’re at work and don’t have your headphones in.
“Our goal is not exclusively to win one game in a series. It’s to try to win the entire series. Sometimes, that means trying to get a little deeper into the opposition’s ‘pen. I understand that many teams don’t love that strategy. And I get why. It’s something that we talked about as a club before the season and that we were comfortable going forward with that strategy. It’s not to be disrespectful in any way. It’s because we feel very cool and strategic. It’s the best way to win a series. When I say cool, I mean calm. We’re not emotional about it. We’re not trying to hurt anybody.”
Before you say “Yeah, but… ” remember who you’re dealing with here. Kapler is the reigning NL Manager of the Year. His team won 107 games in 2021, a year in which Vegas set their preseason over/under win total at 73. He’s comfortable with the strategy, and the Padres may disagree with Kapler’s “I don’t give a fuck, I’ll rob my mom to win a regular season series” approach, but he’s “comfortable” with it. He may not think it’s “cool” in the context of how he said it, but I do.
Burning through arms has become a flashpoint for controversy, so the Giants manager saying he’s actively trying to do that shows a disregard for the integrity of the game that’s sacred to the Covenant of the Unwritten Rules. (The robot analytics crowd is already constructing a statue in Kapler’s honor, and that part of this pains me. I fall into the category of people who get a kick out of unrepentant gamesmanship.)
Here are a couple of workarounds for San Diego the next time this happens: Don’t let the other team run up the score, or trot a third baseman out to the mound and have him throw BP until all 27 outs are recorded.
The first option is definitely harder to pull off than the second. That said, if you want to nullify San Francisco’s lineup depleting your bullpen, use that same calculated approach against them and kill innings with an arm that doesn’t matter. While it seems like that’d extend the length of the game, have you watched a home run derby? If you’re willing to throw a steady stream of meatballs across the plate, you’ll get enough pop ups and ground balls pretty quickly.
The Padres were down nine runs in the sixth inning. They weren’t hanging around, they were trying to get back to the hotel. If Melvin didn’t want his team further embarrassed, the Queen of Spades would’ve been to forfeit the rest of the game and try again the next day.
That didn’t go over too well for Coach Buttermaker in the Bad News Bears, but that team turned out alright despite his alcoholism and racism. San Diego’s rant about the unwritten rules was every bit as nonsensical as Walter Matthau right before he fell down drunk during practice.
Kapler’s reasoning on the other hand — it was the kind of “I’m going for your throat” strategy that fans praise Bill Belichick for. I hate to go all “This guy’s an evil genius,” but that was boiling it down to Thanos-snap-level simplicity. Bravo.
Original source here
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