Monday, June 20, 2005

Brendan Hernandez?

Futuristic BlogProps to District of Baseball for pointing us to this interesting column in a Japanese newspaper named after beer. Author Dave Wiggins takes up the case of the Tomo Ohka:
The only way he can get noticed in his home country is when he gets into trouble.

Despite being the most consistent nihonjin hurler in the big leagues over the past four seasons, much of his good work has been overlooked.
"Nihonjin" is how you say "Japanese" when you want everyone to know that you know Japanese. Sugoi! Anyway, it's interesting that Ohka is just as overlooked in Japan as he is here. Go try to find a Nationals shirt with Ohka on the back -- can't be done. There are tons of Armas shirts, though, indicating that the best way to get yourself on some merchandise is to have one decent season in your whole damn life. The really interesting part of the piece is right here:
Robbie's stance on the matter dates back to his rookie managerial season in the late '70s with the Cleveland Indians.

Indians's ace pitcher Gaylord Perry questioned Robinson's managerial abilities and wouldn't fork the horsehide over when he was yanked from a game.

Robbie proceeded to rip the ball out of Perry's hand and went nose-to-nose with him. He would have gone toe-to-toe, too, if Perry hadn't exited with his tail tucked between his legs. It wasn't much longer when Perry was shipped out of Cleveland.

So many cliches spring to mind: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Frank Robinson hates pitchers.

I did a little digging on the amazing Retrosheet and found three candidates for the game to which Wiggins alludes. The most likely is a June 1 start in Oakland in which Perry gave up 7 hits and 4 earned runs in only 5 innings, leading to a 6-3 win for the A's. He was traded two weeks and two starts later to Texas in exchange for pitchers Jim Bibby, Jackie Brown, and Rick Waits along with 100,000 bucks. At the time of trade, Perry was having a subpar season by his own lofty, spit-soaked standards: 3.55 ERA, 107 ERA+, and 121.7 IP in 15 starts (that's over 8 IP per start, in case you're from the humanities). The rest of the year in Texas: 3.03 ERA, 124 ERA+, 184 IP in 22 games. He went on to win 30 games and pitch 488 innings over the next two years with Texas in the middle of a Hall of Fame career.

It's the Ohka Incident writ large: Frank quarrels with a useful pitcher and exerts his authority by forcing a trade. Bibby and Waits were intermittently useful for Cleveland, and a hundred grand is always helpful, but you'd rather have Gaylord Perry. After all, Perry was like ¡Livan! crossed with Brendan Donnelly: he threw huge numbers of innings and he cheated. Time will tell if the Ohka trade works out as badly for Washington as the Perry trade did for Cleveland, but history shows that trades made under duress aren't often winners.

Speaking of Brendan Donnelly and cheating, a worthy addition to your daily reading is Yard Work, where various baseball personages opine on the events of the day (NB: it's not really them, but if you dig around, you'll find comments from people who totally fell for it). Just today, John Kruk (my favorite YW contributor, along with Rickey) and Steve Phillips sounded off on the Pine Tar Affair. Kruk:

If you listened to some of these purists talk about it, Brendan Donnelly crapped on Cy Young’s grave out there the other night. Bull! The fact is, Donnelly plays about as tough as anybody out there, and the Krukster’s got no love for guys who don’t sack up and game hard. That crybaby Frank Robinson might look at Donnie and see a cheater, but I see a guy who had tooled around the minors and never complained about it for ten years. You ever tried to party in Altoona on a Tuesday night? You’re lucky if you end up with a sixer of Iron City and a shiner the next morning courtesy of a certain swears-she’s-18-year-old somebody’s jealous boyfriend. I swear, the way he reacted you’d think I had my way with his Xbox.
Phillips:
Every time there is a question about baseball players or managers cheating, I get about 15,000 calls for quotes from journalists all over the world. After all, I was the GM of the New York Mets, and we had Bobby Valentine as our manager, and he cheated like a Navy wife. Oh, sure, I know you're all just thinking about the mustache-in-the-dugout thing -- but I'm talking about full-on 100% cheating and deception with the intent to defraud.
Make sure to read the Rickey archives. Rickey got paid!

2 comments:

El Gran Color Naranja said...

Ohka was just ok yesterday. Actually after the first inning he was pretty good.

Drese goes tonight against an easier line-up. They're more patient than the Angels, but not great hitters. I suspect he'll do pretty well.

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