Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Overture, curtain, lights.
This is it, the night of nights.
No more rehearsing and nursing our part.
We know every part by heart.
Overture, curtain, lights.
This is it, we'll hit the heights.
And oh what heights we'll hit.
On with the show this is it.
-Bugs Bunny and Friends
Time once was that I would wake up at the crack of dawn and scurry down to the living room to watch those great Saturday morning cartoons. Yeah, college was great. Anyway, Saturday morning was the highlight of a kid's busy TV watching week. Heck, they would devote prime time specials starring teen pop sensations and other Republicans to the new lineup up of kiddy programies.
The first thing I would do on Saturday mornings was flick the switch and check out the shows. Sid and Marty Krofft ruled the airwaves when I was kid, purveying mind-bending, Hunter S. Thompson-esque glimpses of magical worlds.
The one hole in the lineup was Tom & Jerry. Somehow this antediluvian bit of nostalgia, replete with some sort of minstrel Mammy patrolling the kitchen, survived coelacanth-like while the rest of its ilk perished in the face of viewers actually expecting their entertainment to entertain. Tom & Jerry once danced with Gene Kelly and did have some odd beatnik-inspired, funky period, but by the time I was a kid they made the Three Stooges seem intellectual. All they had left to contribute to society was being the inspiration for the gloriously self-aware Itchy and Scratchy ("They fight and fight and fight and fight and fight..."
Actually, this self-aware, "works on many levels" type of cartoon started with the original Ren and Stimpy (and don't forgot the Simpsons, "You EE-diot!"). Now the technique pervades almost every cartoon that you can find. Watching the Powerpuff Girl Movie with my four-and-one-half-year-old, I found myself laughing at things that went completely over her head ("I am no longer Jo-Jo. I am Mojo Jo-Jo", well maybe that wasn't over her head).
While I love seeing Space Ghost being recast as a talk show host and I have probably seen every Spongebob in creation-even the lost episode-, I can't help but notice that when I went back to Ohio, my city was gone. Only in this case "Ohio" was Saturday morning cartoons and "my city" was a Holden Caulfield-like innocence. Letting the self-referential, tongue-in-cheek cartoons run rampant was like a Pandora's box from which the Archies, Josie and the Pussycats, and Marine Boy never returned ("Zoinks!").
So again you wonder what this has to do with Joe Morgan. Times once were when Joe's homespun idiocy was routinely swallowed whole cloth while we were a-whittling by the pot-belly stove ("Patooie"). Now, we sabermetrically-minded (or, for Ralph Wiley, sabtramatiracall-minded) have all sort of whizbangery to put such hokum to the litmus test. And yet I can't help to think that we've lost something.
My friend Murray reminds me that even though Joe is oh-so nonsensical, there's always worse. Rick Sutcliffe took over the reins as town idiot for last weekend's Sunday Night Baseball:
Oh, here's the best one. They were talking about playing winter ball, and Sutcliffe mentioned that although he played winter ball, he took French in high school, which wasn't so helpful. Miller of course, wondered aloud why maybe there wasn't any Winter League team in Martinique, and Sutcliffe said, "Well, there's probably a weather problem."
Thank goodness there's Joe. He retains the innocence of our youth while the touches of unintended irony double our pleasure, double our fun. He's baseball's equivalent to Ren and Stimpy in one package. And like Old Faithful he blows on schedule once a week for chat day. So on with the Joe: this is it.
Buhdda (New York, NY): Mr. Morgan, I just read that Andy Pettite ha sbecome the 1st pitcher in 75 years to win 12 or more games in his 1st 9 seaons. Do you think this is because he is a hall of fame type pitcher or that he has just benefitted from being a decent pitcher on a great team? Thanks for your time.
I think he has benefitted but he has also pitched well under pressure, when the Yankees had to win. He has done a great job there. Obviously if you have played for the Yankees for the past 9 years, you are going to benefit. I can't say he's a HOFer yet but he is an expectional pitcher.
[Mike: A) Pettitte only has 140 career wins. B) His ERA is a hair under 4.00 (though it is 18% better than the park-adjusted league average). He has won 20 games once and finished second in the Cy Young vote once, that same year (and was in the top-10 three times).
He's a good pitcher on a good team. If he performs like this for another 10 years, then we can start talking about the Hall of Fame. Right now, unless you are Pedro Martinez it's very hard to make a case for the Hall of Fame for a pitcher in his early thirties. At thirty, Black Jack McDowell was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Soon he was out of baseball and now he is largely forgotten. He is the most similar to Pettitte through age 30 by the way.]
Goatse (goatse.cx): How does Felipe Alou do it? His offense (except for left field) is playing below their ability, their top closer is out, and their starting pitching isn't the best, yet they're on a huge tear. I'm left to assume this is Felipe's work, so how does he do it?
I have to say he deserves all the credit. Bonds and Schmidt have helped, and Worrell, but it's mostly Alou. This team has OVER achieved greatly. That credit always has to go to the manager. He has pushed the right buttons at the right time. Bonds is his only really consistent player. It's amazing.
[Mike: "The credit always has to go to the manager"? Really? How many at-bats does he have? How many innings pitched?
Bonds and Schmidt have helped? They have been lights out: Schmidt is arguably the best pitcher in the NL and Bonds continues to be the best player in baseball. Worrell has been as good if not better than Nen was last year. Youngster Jerome Williams has been very impressive so far. By the way, Joe lauded him last week and now gives him no credit. Their bullpen has been very good (6th in ERA in baseball) and even though their starters have had a few rough spots, they are 8th in ERA in baseball. They also have a team ERA of 2.00 since the break.
The Giants are 13th in the majors in runs scored and just 9th in OPS. But they have had a solid core of good-hitting players led by Bonds (1.249 OPS, which leads the majors), Grissom (.831), Snow (.812) and Galarraga (.881) at first, Durham (.811), Cruz (.806), and Santiago (.785). Aurilia is basically a push (.727, slightly better than last year but below his career average). Offseason pickup Edgardo Alfonzo has been the only real hole on offense (.660).
These are veteran players, a number of whom were acquired in the offseason by Brian Sabean. What does Alou have to do with their performance?
The one affect that I see Alou having on the offense is his desire to get the dreadful Neifi Perez in the lineup. Alou has lavished 221 empty at-bats on Perez (.662 OPS).
By the way, the Giants offense is 60 points better in OPS than the opposition on the year and 160 points better than the opposition since the break.
The Giants are outperforming expectations by 6 games, but I would credit the deep bullpen or would chalk it up to luck before giving Alou the credit. It's not that he hasn't done a good job. It's just that a manager does not have that much control over such matters.]
Aaron, Potomac Md: Hi Mr. Morgan, I am a huge fan of yours and love listening to you give commentary on games. I am a huge red sox fan and I am wondering if you think that with the latest trade of sauerback that they now have all the pieces they would need to reach the world series?
If you are thinking he is the difference, the answer is no. To get to the WS, the players like Pedro and Derrick Lowe will have to be the difference.
[Mike: Yeah, that's true, but it's not the question. They already had those pieces on the team.
To answer Aaron's actual question, the Red Sox have severe holes in the pitching staff. Unfortunately, they are filled by the Red Sox' actual pitchers. Aside from Pedro and a short, interrupted stint by Kim, the Sox starters have been uniformly bad. It's a good thing that they didn't part with Casey Fossum, eh? They could use at least two starting pitchers. Their bullpen has been even worse, but it does seem that they have all the necessary parts. On Offense, they have been busy just getting ABs for everybody or to quote the unctuous Frank Rizzo in Scarface"All you have to worry about is what to do with all the f'ing cash."]
Jason, Chambersburg, Pa: Good morning, Joe! I've got a hypothetical question for you. If the playoffs started today, the NL would be Braves, Astros, Giants, and Phils. I like the Phils chances because of how their starting pitching matches up. Who do you like? Thanks.
You still have to hit. The Phillies' hitting is always suspect. In this situation, I would put the Braves first and the Giants second. The Giants have Bonds and the Braves have Lopez, Jones, just a lot of weapons.
[Mike: Well, no. The Phils offense had problems at the beginning of the year. They are fifth in OPS in the majors since the break (.823). Their pitching is 18th in ERA (4.65) since the break by the way.
The Phils have had three holes on offense consistently this year: shortstop with Jimmy Rollins, left field with Pat Burrell, and third base with David Bell. Bell and Burrell are signed to big contracts, so the Phils have given them every opportunity and then some to right themselves. Rollins is a very popular player and once had a "future star" tag so until he ticks off Bill Conlin, he's going to eat a hole in their lineup. Actually the Phils offense improved greatly once Rollins and his .319 OBP were dropped from the leadoff spot in favor of the ever-improving Marlon Byrd.
That said, clearly the two best teams in the NL have been San Fran and Hotlanta. Who would a short series between the two? Your guess is as good as mine. However, the Braves' deficiency (starting pitching) becomes less of an issue when you only need 3-4 starters. I'm still waiting for the bottom to drop out of Cinderella season for Furcal, Giles, Castilla, and Lopez. But it has not happened yet.]
Brandon Henderson (Independence, MO): Should Major League Baseball mandate that the Metrodome's roof be changed to a color that isn't white? (such as skyblue) Do you think the roof is unfair for fielders?
Well, I guess the only thing to say is they haven't changed it in how many years? It's been that way for the life of the Metrodome so I don't see them changing it now. They should have changed it 20 years ago. Maybe there is a reason they kept it that way that we don't know.
[Mike: What, the Twins don't have to play D there or something? So an odd Rocco Baldelli loses a ball or two in the roof glare. At least the thing hasn't collapsed in over twenty years. So there's an upside.]
Jay(Cleveland): Hey Joe. How will the Reds ever be able to put a legit contender on the field when they won't raise payroll? Dunn, Boone and Kearns will be due for big-time raises over the next 1-3 years. I can't stand the thought of those three or Junior putting up huge numbers elsewhere. But they seem to be the only appealing trade bait on the squad.
It's pretty simple. They will have to make a choice. Do they want to stay a medicore team or take a step forward? Looking at their history the last few years, they will probably not put a great team on the field. What I find interesting, the last time they won something was when Marge Schott ran the team. She spent on payroll.
[Mike: Yeah, Schott was a player's dream owner. Just ask Eric Davis about having to pay for his own flight home after injuring himself in the 1990 World Series.
The Reds do spend money, just not wisely. The Reds outspend successful teams like the Royals, the Jays, the Marlins, the Expos, and the A's. Their 2003 salary is slightly more than the Twins. That's below average, but clearly other teams have been successful for less. Also, their salary went up about $8 M since last season, about a 15% increase.
The Reds problem is trusting in wins to judge their pitchers' performance. Now, who advocates that again? Is it Satan? No, not his schtick. It must be you, Joe.]
Joey, Nj: Is Ken Griffey Jr still a hall of famer even if he does not reach 500 home runs?
That will be a difficult call. I think he will reach 500. Probably 600. He is mentally tough. He is still young. I saw this with Bonds. 4-5 years ago, he wasn't even mentioned as a top player. But I knew he would bounce back. I think Griffey will do the same thing. When you are a great player and they stop talking about you, it's a real motivator.
So yes, I think he will make the Hall of Fame.
[Mike: Joey, how you doin'?
That's not a difficult call at all. Griffey is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, period. His career OPS is 44% better than the league average. Who cares if he falls a handful of home runs short of 500? Gehrig, DiMaggio, Musial, Kaline, Kiner, Snider, Bench, Ripken, Mize, Berra, and Greenberg never collected 500 home runs either.]
Ray Stinger,Jr.(Pittsburgh,Pa): Hi Mr.Morgan! I'm a Pirates fan(that's right!)and would like your opinion on the "rebuilding" of the Pirates (AGAIN!!) Will the Bucs in 2004 be better than the 2003 Tigers?
I think the key word is rebuilding again. They started rebuilding and should have stuck with it but instead they got a couple veterans and made a run for it. They have to do it all the way .. you can't rebuild halfway.
[Mike: Ray, what are you Subliminal Man or something?
The Pirates were far from rebuilding. They overspend on Jason Kendall, Derek Bell, Pat Meares, Aramis Ramirez, and Kevin Young and went through pitching talent like it was going out of style. They were supposed to be a low-budget version of the Indians locking up players for blocks of years. It's just that they did a poor job of evaluating those players.
Then last offseason they picked up some bargain-basement veterans like Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders. They traded Ramirez, Lofton, Williams, and Sauerbeck and in each case picked up prospects. If you don't have a good minor-league system, that's the only way to do it. They're trying to do the same with Giles and especially Kendall. That is rebuilding. It remains to be seen if they picked up decent prospects.]
Greg, Pa: Can Pat Burrell ever turn this around? Should he be playing out of this? Or do the Phils look somewhere else in left field?
Burrell had a good year last year. He has not been able to hit well this year. He has had spurts. This late into the season I'm not sure he can turn it around. He can still be a help towards but a pennant but I don't think he can lead them there.
[Mike: A good year? Burrell has a tremendous season. He had an OPS (.920) that was 49% better than the league average. He was 25 years old and had looked solid from the start and just kept getting better. His Charboneau-ing is completely unexpected.
The Phillies signed him to a huge six-year, $50 M contract before 2003. Here's how that contract grows over the years (thanks to MLB Contracts):
2003: $1.0M (+$1.5M signing bonus)
The Phillies have a big investment in Burrell. They want to get a return on that investment. Getting a new left fielder won't help them in this matter.
But his season has been awful as my friend Murray points out:
Pat Burrell went 0-for-4 yesterday to fall back under .200.
Burrell is hitting .199, but what is more amazing is how awful he's been against lefties. In 69 at-bats against southpaws this year, Burrell is hitting .188-0-1. One RBI. He'll face Kaz Ishii tonight and Odalis Perez on Thursday in an effort to add to that grand total.
Wow. That's world-historic bad.
Burrell has a .563 OPS and is slugging .246 against lefties. Burrell is a right-handed batter who had clobbered lefties in his career (1.034 OPS and .619 slugging). So this may the oddest development for Burrell.
Either you give up on this season and allow Burrell to regain his confidence by only facing right-handers against whom he has been respectable this season (.743 OPS) and send righty Jason Michaels out against left-handers OR you hope that the lefties that he has coming up will help him shake this season-long funk. Neither option is enviable though.]
James Howlett: Is Barry Bonds kidding me with his remarks about Babe Ruth ? while Bonds is definitly in the top 5 players of all time, has he forgotten that Babe Ruth did all of that in less games played, in bigger ballparks, and he was a pitcher !! what are your thoughta on that Joe ?
I can't tell you what Bonds thinks. I was as shocked as you were that he would make the statements that were attributed to him. Anytime you do not respect Babe Ruth in this game and what he accomplished, I have a problem with you. Babe Ruth is still Babe Ruth. He brought this game back to prominence.
[Mike: Yes, James, he's kidding YOU. It was all a practical joke orchestrated by Bonds to get you. Surprise!
Who cares what Bonds has to say? He's entitled to his opinion though I don't agree with it. Are your opinions so shaky that a few offhanded remarks by Bonds will affect them? If not, why is it an issue? Oh, because there was a reporter there to catch it. Perhaps he could have said in a more diplomatic fashion. But, in summation, who cares?]
Jerry(Salt Lake City, UT): You once said that the Reds teams you played on understood what it took to win games, which set them apart from other teams that had a lot of talent. Which team this year is the most like that?
The Yankees of three years ago, when they won 100 games, they reminded me of the Reds. What I actually said was every player knew his role and what he was supposed to do. The team always came first. I saw that in the Yankees during that stretch. As of today, I would say most teams are not as stable as the Yankees were in those years. Most teams are still searching.
[Mike: The guy lobs in a pitch and Joe totally whiffs on it. Joe, he didn't ask about three years ago. He asked about "this year".
If it were the end of 2002 Joe would have answered the Angels. Let's wait until the Series and then Joe will pry the winning team into the Big Red Mold-though of course the modern team will be far inferior.
Anyway, "every player [knowing] his role and what he was supposed to do" is what makes you win? How about talent?
Brad New York, NY: "Some Mets fans are also Yankees fans" - completely incorrect; you can't be both...
I don't mean they are both (laughing). What I meant was if the the Mets are playing the Yankees I'm still a Mets fan .. but if the Yankees are playing the Red Sox, I'm probably pulling for the Yankees.
But I do understand your point! Maybe I overstated it.
[Mike: I thought you were a Reds fan, Joe.
Besides I know plenty of Mets fans who jump on that Yankee bandwagon around playoff time.
Anyway, this is a reference to Joe's weekly article. So let's take a looky-see at that:]
Owned by Major League Baseball -- basically, MLB saved the franchise last year -- the Expos already have baseball's lowest payroll. But they can't add more salary.
[Mike: Actually, Loria ran the team into the ground on MLB's watch and then they let him dump the team, screw his fellow investors, and buy the Marlins. That's not exactly saving the franchise.
By the way, the Expos did not have the lowest payroll in 2002 or so far in 2003. That honor falls to the D-Rays. The Expos are 24th of 30 teams.]
Minaya and Robinson tread a difficult trade road.
[Mike: True, because Minaya is a moron more concerned with pleasing his handlers in the commissioner's office than in building a good team.
By the way, Minaya acquired and traded Colon, Floyd, Herges, Chen, Truby, et al. None of them lasted a year. And just about every time a player was traded the Expos ended up bleeding prospects.
By the way, I think it's odd that a man who claimed he wasn't well-informed to discuss trades last week is ready to assess the Expos trade possibilities.]
Matt (VA): Hey Joe. I was reading this article the other day where it had this poll on the greatest player ever to play at each respective position. At left-field, almost everyone put down Ted Williams. Not to say he wasnt a great great player, but wouldnt you say Hank Aaron was better? He gets overlooked to much in my opinion.
Hank played right mostly. If you are asking me to choose.. Hank was better defensively. Ted was a better hitter. But with power and RBIs and everything included, I would take Aaron. That's hard for me to say because I grew up idolizing Williams. But I played against Aaron and saw what he could do.
[Mike: Joe, why are even fielding this question? The premise makes no sense. Aaron only played 313 games in left of his over 2700 in the outfield. He does not enter into the question of who was the best left fielder ever.
If that's the question, then you are both off-base. Did you ever hear of Barry Bonds? The man gets no respect just because he disses the Babe.
If the question is who was better Williams or Aaron, I agree with Joe. It's Aaron. But Ruth was a better right fielder than Aaron.
Actually Ruth is split between left (1057 games) and right (1131). "I did not know that." So you could stick him in either spot.]
Brian Boston: Hey Joe! what do you think the demand for players like Guerrero and Tejada will be at the end of the season? Do you think either will get $20 mil or has that time past? Tejada is a better player than Jeter who makes that much but is vastly overpaid. Is this or his poor season going to affect his next contract? And if Guerrero takes a discount to stay in Montreal how will that effect players the next year (Nomar and Pedro for instance)?
I think the super player is still going to get paid. Guerrero is a super player. He will get paid. Tejada is a little different. He has not been as consistent. Guerrero will get super money but I'm not sure about Tejada. I think Guerrero is the last of that kind of breed where everyone will want him and he can get the big big money.
[Mike: Faster than a speeding Frank Bolick... Look, up in the sky. It's Paul Byrd. It's a Phil Plantier. No, it's Super Player!
So Guerrero is super but Tejada is just nearly super. Ah, poor Miggie!
Like John Winger, Guerrero is "the last of a dying breed". Huh? Guerrero is a great player, but there are other very good young players out there. Why is he the last? Tell me that Albert Pujols is not going to command "Real money, Amigo money" (Yes, that is a Three Amigos reference).
By the way, I am not Derek Jeter's biggest fan, nor do I think he's "dreamy", but Jeter has been a better player over his career than Tejada. There's no question. Tejada was better in 2002, and may be better over the course of their careers, but Jeter has been a clear-cut Hall-of-Famer yet far. The same cannot be said of Tejada.]
Chris-KC: Good morning Joe Will the Royals have any chance of keeping their young talent for seasons to come or will Baird cut them all lose at the end of the season to save $$?
Remember the fact that salaries will probably continue to go down. Only Guerrero will get super money among the FA's. It will be easier to keep players in the coming years. FA's will not be able to command the big numbers. It's a decision they have to make. I think teams will be able to keep more players in the future.
[Mike: Joe, are those players or super players?
Super Money!?! Do they have any Super Players on the Royals as well?
Salaries have not gone down. They increased about 2.25% over last year. The increase is smaller than usual but still an increase.
Also, the Royals' team payroll went down about $11 M in 2003. They should have the cash for at least one big-name player if not more with the added revenue of fielding a winner.]
Steve (Los Angeles): Mr. Morgan, A friend and I feel that there are far too many "gift" double plays, where the umpire concedes the out of the runner going to second, but it seems the 2nd baseman or shortstop tag the base before they receive the ball, or the play is out of sync in some way. What are your thoughts?
What has happened, a lot of fundamentals in the game have broken down. Base running, situational hitting, etc. Guys could always cheat a little but it wasn't obvious. Now it is obvious. I think MLB will probably address that over the winter. Maybe they will start demanding they touch the bag. But I think you will see a difference in the coming years.
[Mike: Joe, what position did you play again?
This is pure revisionist history. Tell me that Joe never took a gift double play.
Here's what I said when Jayson Stark got uppity on the topic as part of his 25 Things Wrong with Baseball ordeal:
Here we go again:7.08
Any runner is out when_ (a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball;
b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball; A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire's judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out.
Call the batter out when a runner at second goes two feet to the right of second to interfere with the relay throw and you'll get rid of the so-called "phantom" tag.
Boulder, CO: Hi, Joe. I grew up in Dayton, OH in the 70's. You were an example of not only a great player but a team leader who had the intangibles. Why do think so many players lack the intangibles these days? Thanks, Jim
Well, intangibles have gone the way of fundamentals. Hitting is all that is important these days. Everyone works more on hitting and power hitting than other parts of the game. Without fundamentals, you can't have the intangibles it takes to make the difference in close games.
[Mike: Intangibles have gone the way of fundamentals. And the ethereals have gone the way of the essentials. And the knee bones connected to the ankle bone.
Which came first, the fundamentals or the intangibles? According to Joe, it's the egg, er, the fundamentals.
Of course, a team must be fundamental sound to succeed. But how can you measure or even evaluate that? Intangibles are even worse since you can't tange them, let alone measure them. I'll leave the hokum to Joe and stick to good old reliable facts.
Without facts, you can't have the tangibles intangibles it takes to make the difference in close chat sessions.]
GG- St. Louis, MO: Mr. Morgan, What is your take on Tony La Russa's management style? He takes a lot of heat here in St. Louis for his approach. Does he go overboard in in style? Thanks
I've always felt he was one of the top managers in the game. There was an earlier question about Alou. I did two books, Baseball for Dummies, I picked Top 10 players, managers, etc. I had Alou No. 1, Baker No. 2 and La Russa No. 3. I still think he is a top manager. He knows how to deal with players. I don't know exactly what people are questioning about him. He is a good manager.
[Mike: OK, I'm not even going to touch the "Baseball for Dummies" reference. There's no need to say something like Joe is the most eminently qualified individual on the planet to write just such a book.
However, "I did two books, Baseball for Dummies"-what, was it an unfinished trilogy? "Baseball for Dummies At Rest" is due out any day now.
Now to the content: he picked the top-10 managers for what period? All time or just the current time? I can't believe that Joe McCarthy John McGraw, Earl Weaver, Connie Mack, and their ilk could be beaten out in anyone's book by Alou. So let's assume he refers to the top-10 active managers.
First, that's not much of a list. You have 30 active managers plus maybe an old inactive Davey Johnson or two. Who cares about the tenth guy on that list?
Second, how can he rank Alou, who entered the year under .500 as a manager for his career (691-717 for a .491 winning percentage) and whose teams had never made the playoffs, higher than Bobby Cox, who has won nearly three times as many games (1805 to start the year), whose career winning percentage is .562, and whose teams have finished first 12 times? Or higher than Lou Piniella, who has won about twice as many games and whose teams have won a world series and four division crowns. Or higher than Joe Torre-twice as many games won, four World Series, and 7 division titles. Or Davey Johnson or Baker or LaRussa? Frankly I cannot comprehend how Alou even made the top-10.
Yes, LaRussa is a good manager, but his team is underperforming and he has to take some flak. The manager gets the credit when the team wins. He should take some blame when they fail. Maybe that will be in "Baseball for Dummies, Part Eight".]
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