WTSWTM – World Champion Style

Today we wander back to an old Chipalatta standard – something we call What They Said – What They Meant. In the world of sportspeak, folks don’t always say what they really mean, so here at the blog, we will be glad to interpret for you.

Astro Yordan Alvarez after his sixth game rocket shot to set up the Astros for a World Series win…

  • What he said – “I didn’t look for anything, I didn’t look at the iPad. I waited for my at-bat, I didn’t go looking at anything. I knew that was my moment. I had this peace of mind that I knew was my moment. And it happened.”
  • What he meant – “I am a bad a$”.

Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado after being brought in to specifically face Alvarez ,,,,,

  • What he said – “If I make a good pitch, maybe it’s a ground ball, double play, inning over. [But] when he hit the ball, the sound, you say, ‘OK, that’s gone.’”
  • What he meant – “He is a bad a$”

Phillies Manager Rob Thomson after seeing the Alvarado move blow up in his face….

  • What he said – “Going into the Series, it was always kind of Alvarado on Álvarez. It was the sixth inning, and I felt like the normal back end of the bullpen guys could get through it.”
  • What he meant – “Yeah maybe normal doesn’t work against a great hitter, even if he had been struggling. So, I copied a Scott Servais move. At least I used a real left-handed reliever, not a starter, who never relieves.”

Astro manager Dusty Baker on no longer the winningest manager to not win a World Series…..

Astro owner Jim Crane after the split with GM James Click

  • What he said – “We are grateful for all of James’ contributions. We have had great success in each of his three seasons, and James has been an important part of that success. I want to personally thank him and wish him and his family well moving forward.”
  • What he meant – “We were so grateful for James’ contribution, we had to have our arms twisted to give him the same length contract as our 73-year-old manager who is working year to year. We wish his family well in moving….”

Former Astro GM James Click after he turned down the Astros one year extension….

  • What he said – “We’re different. There’s some things we do very differently. There’s some things we’re very lined up on. ….. In any job, there are going to be things that are good and there are going to be things that are bad. You just have to take it all on balance.”
  • What he meant – “We’re different. I thought I was doing a great job, and he thought he could do my job better than I do.  In any job there are going to be things that are good (going to the ALCS, the World Series and winning the World Series in my 3 years) and there are going to be things that are bad (like savoring the World Series victory for only 6 days).”

 

Former Astros Assistant GM David Stearns after stepping down as the Brewers head of baseball operations with other jobs (like the Astros GM job available).

  • What he said – “I’m not going anywhere.”
  • What he meant – “To paraphrase George HW Bush, ‘Read my lips – I’m not going anywhere.’ But like President Bush – check back in a bit…..”

Jim Crane on possibly replacing Click…..

  • What he said – “We’ve got some names [to replace Click]. I’m going to take my time on it this time. Last time, I was in a little crunch. I didn’t have a GM and didn’t have a manager. We’ve got a pretty solid baseball ops team that’s been around. Firkus and Charles Cook have been with the team a while. … We’re going to interview a bunch of people and see where we land with that. I don’t expect anything to happen before the first of the year.”
  • What he meant – “Last time we were past the heart of the off-season moves, and this time we have not even begun the off-season, but for some reason I feel like I can take my time. Maybe I really do want to be Jerry Jones. After all, he hasn’t won a championship in 27 years, but his team is worth the most among all U.S. sports teams at $5.5 billion.”

Bonus quote

  • Jim Crane on trying to re-sign Justin Verlander
  • What he said – “I know him well, so we’ve been pretty candid. He’s looking at the comp, which I think there’s only one or two. … J.V.’s probably got a few years left, and he wants to make the most of it. I think he’s going to test the market on that.”

What do you think he meant.

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51 comments on “WTSWTM – World Champion Style

    • I agree Uncle Knuckle. He’s a great pitcher, but at 40-45 mil a year and with the pitching we have, I would rather take care of other matters. (Extending Tucker, our own other free agent decisions and possibly an addition from outside to deepen the lineup and take care of the GM situation).

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  1. What Jim Crane said:
    I don’t care what he said. I care that he bought the Astros and has made us a team to fear and brought two WS Championships to a starving franchise.
    What Yordan said: I bomb left-handed throwers.
    What Alvarado said: Coach, he bombs left-handed throwers.
    What Dusty Baker said: I coached a WS winner and I’m going into the HOF and I don’t see a problem with a one-year deal. Get me a GM and we’ll get right back up there.
    What Crane meant to say: “We just didn’t seem to click.”

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  2. Crane meant that the comp for JV is Scherzer, so JV is going to see if some other billionaire owner will pay him more than 43 Mil per year

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  3. I think Crane told us exactly what we expected – Verlander is going to go out and get offers from the other teams for which he will consider playing. This means Crane did not make an offer that blows away what Scherzer got. What he didn’t say and we’re making an assumption on is that he will make a decision whether to match or beat those offers. I feel the same way about Verlander as I do Correa, but differently than I did about Springer. Although bringing either CC or JV back improves the team for the next year, the increased payroll going to that one player could be detrimental to our chances overall. We got lucky with Pena and hopefully he improves upon his rookie year in 2023. Our staff, if healthy, has enough arms to get to the postseason again. I agree with Steven’s insight that it will be far easier with JV taking the mound every 5-6 games, but if Crane can improve the outfield and first base with some of that money instead if might make us better in the postseason. As for Springer, we all knew Myles Straw wasn’t going to hold down a spot for us. I think we beat Atlanta with him out in CF, but again, the question is whether our roster could have been the same after paying him what Toronto did.

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  4. Some thoughts today…..
    – Non-Astro story – We had a visiting priest yesterday who works for the diocese. He said he was asked on Saturday to say Mass for the visiting Washington Commanders in town to play the Texans. He said he had to follow NFL requirements for the service – the main one being that the service could only last 30 minutes. Said he did his first 5 minute sermon in forever.
    – Funny thing – if Correa said he would come back here on a reduced discount… the Astros would say no thank you
    – If JV couldn’t find someone to pony up 3yrs $135 MM or whatever and came back here looking for 2 yrs $80 MM – would we want the team to do that?
    – Cody Bellinger is out there now…..uh no
    – I really really don’t know why it was so critical to sign a GM quickly last time and not this time. This time there are absolutely a lot more things to be done in the off-season than last time – when it was all coming down so much closer to Spring Training.

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    • Just looking at the track record of the Astros:
      -They have never paid anyone close to 2/80. Will they do that for a 40 year old knowing it will freeze their payroll for two years?
      -The six potential starters they have in their rotation will all accrue one year of service time while diminishing their returns and pouring out cash for Verlander. The Astros are a hugely successful example of the phrase “value-driven”.
      – Bellinger. The Astros have yet to, since their playoff run began in 2015, allow themselves to become a rehab center for lost baseball players. Would you break that mold for a guy who has shown no respect for your team since 2017?
      – I don’t know how they would reconcile a Correa signing with what they got from their rookie SS in 2022. They made the move and it worked out splendidly. It would just seem to not make sense.

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  5. I’d play Correa at first if my GM put him on my roster.
    I’d play Bellinger somewhere if my GM put him on my roster. He sure is a head scratcher though. How many guys forget how to hit at 25? Head case?
    80 for Verlander? I’m still ready to move on. I would not look forward to him pitching for us in the post season.

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  6. Cody Bellinger in 2022: BA .210; OBP .265; OPS .654. And it’s not like he was in a line-up with no protection.

    I will not ask for whom the Bellinger toils – but it’s not for me!

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  7. For the record, I have not gone off the deep end. I would certainly not pursue either guy. But if I was the manager and my GM dropped those guys on my lap, I’d make use of them. I would not move Pena from short. He’s got more range than Correa. And while Correa has way too big an ego to play first at this point in his career, he’d be very good at it. And he’d still get to make relay throws from all over the field. As far as Bellinger goes, he’s perplexing. He might be a nut case. He might also hit again. Boras will find a place to put him and we’ll see. Obviously based on his lack of good feelings for the Astros, I’m guessing he won’t be coming our way.

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  8. Bellinger will have plenty of suitors. That alone will drive up his price on the 1 year that Boras has said he will be looking for. he dislocated his shoulder in a collision with Kiki Hernandez in 2020, but that was towards the end when it looked like he was already on the struggle bus. His defenders are throwing that up as an excuse. To me, Bellinger is just an excuse machine that always looks for reasons that he isn’t hitting instead of taking accountability for it and working to improve. I would guess LA thought at least some of that.

    Who knows what they will do – he has his advocates on MLB radio that constantly talk about the fact that he is a plus defender with a plus arm, great baserunner, fundamentally sound, so even if he its .210 again he will hit some homeruns and do other things that help – but the bottom line is he might be booed on his first start at home and I would be among those booing from my living room. Some people are just not Astros.

    Hate him or not (I count myself as anti-Bellinger) he does bat left, plays better CF than anyone else we have, has power, runs the bases and would be fine hitting 8th. BUT even if the Astros are interested (I hope not), I don’t think Bellinger is and it doesn’t have anything to do with what he has said. Boras said on the radio the other day they are looking for just a 1 year deal, a prove it year, and hit the market again – so he wants to play everyday (and not bat 8th). Given Chas can hit lefties pretty regularly, Bellinger would at least have limits unless he just turns into the one year wonder Bellinger again. I think he ends up somewhere that he is a lock to be THE centerfielder.

    I’ve been doing some homework on the Astros payroll. It makes me feel more and more that the Astros are not going to be players for JV unless the price comes way down. I don’t think it will. Even if he doesn’t get the 3/120, he probably will get 3/105, and that still feels outside the area the Astros want to play in. I would doubt a 2/80 is something they would do. Again, I just stress, being a great pitching staff is great, we are probably still favorites and still win 95+, but moving everyone up a spot and losing that depth will probably remove us from dominant pitching staff. It’s an adjustment they have to make anyway and now it’s next man up.

    We can feel good about the next man up being Brown, but its the one after that is concerning. The idea that we will be so lucky again to have 5 starters account for 140 starts again – we are going to be seeing an 7th guy in the mix, and maybe even 8th (thats what forced Brown in). The candidates for those spots are no longer Odorizzi and Brown and a returning McCullers, they are names that won’t have that impact. And that is how we move from dominant to just great. And keep in mind Brown is a rookie, he was at times as aggravating at AAA as he was brilliant. He will have his struggles.

    Abreu just seems more and more important in this equation. He solidifies the 6th spot, keeps McCormick 8th and Maldy 9th and if Brantley is back Pena sits in the 7 spot most nights. Without Abreu, all of 6-9 can be weak on days Pena is up at 2. Like I’ve said before, I’m less concerned about fixing things positionally (less worried about 1B, LF, CF) and more worried about the batting order and not making 4 spots in the order (in order) easy for the pitcher. It just puts so much more pressure on the top to scratch it out and less off nights.

    Not sure where Correa conversation comes in. Correa is a better player than Pena, both offensively and defensively. But Correa is not a 35 million a year guy. He probably is over paid at 30. There won’t be any discounts though – there are too many high profile teams in the mix (Dodgers, Sox, even the Yankees need more at SS). Correa and the Cubs have been linked for a week now, seems like a good marriage.

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  9. I could be wrong but I see the days of these ridiculous contracts coming to an end. Yes there will be the exorbitant ones (https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/nationals/here-are-highest-paid-mlb-players-2022-season) but I’m curious if the owners would make the same deal today. Did they get their money’s worth? Was JV worth $25MM? I’d say without a doubt, yes, but is he worth $40MM plus? Homey don’t think so.
    As for the Astro players that we currently have or have lost, I’d say that the departure of Cole, Correra, and Springer (to a lesser extent) were good decisions. We extended Altuve and Bregman which were very good deals (IMO). At the time, the departure of Charlie Morton was not so good but we recovered. The jury is still out on LMJ’s deal, and the recent Montero deal although we’re not talking mega contracts. Yordan’s deal is super for the team at this point but will he get disgruntled over other bigger contracts?
    Then we have the next series of players. Framber, Tucker, Javier, and Urquidy have 3 more years of arbitration left. I’d hope to get all signed to an extension. To me Tucker is the prime target at present. I have no idea what he’s looking for but a Bregman type deal would be a good starting point. Is he worth 6 @ 25 or more? As the old saying goes, “a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush” so considering no state income tax in Texas and the time value of money that looks pretty good. To me it’s not always about the money, but some of these guys have big egos and I want the most. I guess we’ll see in the near future.

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  10. I think Tucker and Framber would be the ones to pursue now for extensions – probably lucky if you can get one of them.
    Tucker doesn’t strike me as an ego guy – but he is in a different situation than the other players mentioned.
    He has a brother, ex-Astro Preston, who is an off and on major leaguer. I would love to know what advice he is giving him. Preston has been up to the majors three different times (none since 2018), but still would have to show up a couple more seasons to even reach arbitration eligible. What would Preston tell his brother based on his experiences? Take it now because it may never happen or hold off until Free Agency comes around.

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    • I think it would be great if Kyle listened to Preston and we got a deal done this winter. But with the shift rules changing, Kyle should benefit and have a big year in 2023. At least that seems to make sense. Maybe he should wait a year.

      Conversely, will Framber’s infield get to as many of his ground balls next year? This might be a great time for him to consider an extension.

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    • Justin had quite a year. I just hope he realizes, before he goes off to New York, Chicago, or San Francisco to become the next aging prima donna to drastically under-perform on a mega deal – that the contributions of his teammates in Houston are a big part of the reason he just got a check for over $500,000 for being on a world series championship team.

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  11. HOW GOOD WILL WE BE IN 2023?

    We expect good – indeed, often superstar level – performances in 2023 from both the offense’s ‘big four’ – Altuve, Bregman, Alvarez, and Tucker and the pitching staff’s new ‘big four’ – Valdez, Javier, Abreu, and Pressly.

    My question is ‘what kind of 2023 can we/dare we expect from each of the following:

    1. Lance McCullers, Jr. [will his disastrous start in WS Game 3, in which absolutely everything he threw got massacred by the Phillies, become the norm?];
    2. Hunter Brown [after the league gets more of a look at him];
    3. Luis Garcia [who knows what we have in that guy?];
    4. Jose Urquidy [if he is still an Astro];
    4. Jeremy Pena [will there be a sophomore slump?]
    6. Rafael Montero [will he suffer the dreaded ‘I’ve got a big fat, multi-year contract now, so if I don’t perform, SUE ME!’ disease?];
    7. whoever plays 1st base;
    8. whoever plays CF;
    9. whoever plays LF when Alvarez is at DH or out of the line-up;
    10. whoever plays RF when Tucker is out of the line-up;
    11. whoever backs up Machete;
    12. Utility guys like McCormick and Hensley;
    13. the set-up guys that wind up anchoring our 2023 bullpen

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    • There’s the CC (who went temporarily inactive as our Astros ran off and won the World Series) we all know and love! I will answer those questions.

      1. Lance McCullers getting massacred regularly will not become the norm. I suppose he could get injured though.
      2. Hunter Brown. I don’t think he’ll be the second coming of Roy Oswalt vintage 2001, but I do think he’ll take over the Javier role and distinguish himself. Having only thrown 126 innings in 2022, the club will want to leave some room for him to pitch important innings next October.
      3. Luis Garcia is steady and will get better, especially if he gives up the dance step.
      4. Jose Urquidy has a lifetime WHIP of 1.091! Yikes, what team wouldn’t love to have him as their strike throwing 5th starter!
      5. Jeremy Pena works too hard and is too smart to suffer a sophomore slump. His BB/K rate will improve, he’ll get his OBP up over .300 and his OPS will work its way up to .750 plus.
      6. Montero concerns me a bit from a health standpoint. He’s never come close to 71 regular season appearances before.
      7. You and I will both be happy when Abreu is signed to play first base for two years.
      8. We can still win with Chas although I’d like to shake up those East Coast clubs and sign Brandon Nimmo. But Brantley might come back for a year. Y. Diaz is going have an impact at some point. Who knows, I don’t see Jake doing anything, but I’ve been wrong once or twice before. But please, no Frenchy. Oh, and what about Leon or Dirden this summer? So much to consider!
      9. I’d like to see Alvarez play less outfield. Give Hensley a start out there. Find a new outfielder, ideally the centerfield guy and put Chas in left. CC, we’ve got more solutions to consider than problems.
      10. Now you’re getting back into the swing of things! But I’ve got an answer! Did you know that Chas has a career OPS split of .911 when playing right field? As a second option, say of Tuck had an injury, Justin Dirden might/should be ready at some point in 2023. He’s hit at every level. Let’s see what he does starting the season in Sugarland.
      11. I think this is an easy one. Lee and Y. Diaz back up Machete. Lee is ready defensively. Diaz offensively. Heck and then Berryhill will be in AAA ball. Any J.C. Correa in Corpus. I hope we don’t pay for a backup catcher, especially one that might cost more than Maldy.
      12. Don’t depress Chas by calling him a utility player. Dan has already pointed out that he produces more in center offensively than league average. Defensively he’s a work in progress and he’ll never have an arm, but he gets to most everything. Again, I’ll take Nimmo, but Chas is not a problem.
      13. Set up guys? Brown is ready. Seth is ready. Forrest Whitley? J.P. France? Bielak? Blanco? Dubin? We’ve got those guys too!

      I’m exhausted!

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    • Interesting he said Lee had nothing left to prove at AAA.

      Lee posted a career low BA. He had his worse K/BB ratio. He struck out in 28.5% of plate appearances, again a career high. He managed just 36 walks in 446 PAs. Yes, he got 25 dingers. That’s a good sign, he took advantage of some pitches he should have. Overall, he needs another season at AAA, at least the first half. He will not get better playing every 4th day behind Maldy, he will improve batting every day.

      Again, I say, call Narvaez. He is coming off a down year so he will be cheap. He bats lefty, doesn’t strike out a ton. Sign him for two, he backs up Maldy this year, and is there for the transition to Lee in 2024. He can probably be had for 2/12. It might take a 3rd year but he is only 30.

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  12. Once upon a time in 2022:

    1. Our Houston Astros won 106 games during the regular season (and going 11-2 in the post-season);
    2. Our Houston Astros won the AL West by a 16-game spread;
    3. Our Houston Astros went 14-5 vs. the Rangers;
    4. Our Houston Astros went 12-7 vs. the Mariners [reg. season];
    5. Our Houston Astros went 13-6 vs. the Angels;
    6. Our Houston Astros went 12-7 vs. the A’s;
    7. Our Houston Astros went 28-16 in one-run games;
    8. Our Houston Astros shut-out their opponents 18 times;
    9. Our Houston Astros had a winning record in every month they played;
    10. Our Houston Astros swept the Mariners in the ALDS – with the final game being an 18-inning pitcher’s duel we won 1-0, in Seattle, thanks to a Jeremy Pena home run in the top of the 18th;
    11. Our Houston Astros swept the Yankees in the ALCS (outscoring them 21-9);
    12. Our Houston Astros won the World Series by taking four of the six games from the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies – with one of those games being a no-hitter started by Christian Javier and carried forward by Hector Neris (a former Phillie), Ryne Stanek, Hunter Brown (rookie), Rafael Montero, and closed out (of course) by Ryan Pressly;
    13. Our Jeremy Pena was not selected as ROY; he was, however, the MVP of both the ALCS and the World Series, and was the first rookie shortstop to ever win a Gold Glove.
    14. Our [temporarily?] Justin Verlander won another AL Cy Young Award (the 3rd of his career), and was also dubbed the ‘Comeback Player of the Year’;
    15. Our Framber Valdez survived – and flourished – through the ‘sweat gate’ scandal;
    16. Our Yordan Alvarez was … a MYTHICAL BEAST in the regular season, slashing .306/.406/1.019 and crushing – yes, CRUSHING – 37 HR while driving in 97 runs; his mammoth 3-run blast over the batter’s eye in the 6th inning of game 6 not only made a statement, but sealed the Phillies’ fate);
    17. Houston’s bullpen was so good in the Series that Phillie super-slugger Kyle Schwarber tried to lunge-bunt his way on base with two strikes on him – hint: it did not end well for the Phillies;
    18. Has it sunk in yet?

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      • Point taken, Dave. Just remember, the topic of this post is ‘WHSWHM’. What I said vs. what CC meant:

        1. We won 106 games means: we could’ve/should’ve won 120!
        2. We won the AL West by 16; means: why did we not win by 25?
        3. We went 14-5 vs the Rangers means: how did we let those guys beat us 5 times?
        Etc. Etc. Etc.

        Nothing on one of Dan’s WHSWHM posts is as it seems, Dave!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy Thanksgiving!
    I didn’t want to spend $30+ for a 2022 WS shirt, so I got my Black Wednesday special orange Astros shirt with the H star logo for $9.99 at TJ Maxx.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a pretty good recap of what we already know.
      Yesterday someone from Fansided or Blindsided was touting Corey Dickerson as our next leftfielder. The problem is that these days anyone can get a by-line with any number of blog pages and write whatever they think and maybe even get paid for it. As you wrote Dan, plenty of fodder out there. Let’s get some deals done now that Thanksgiving is winding down before Santa shows up. I don’t want to wait until next year!

      By the way, anyone want to share their favorite leftover turkey sandwich recipe?

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  14. My Friday after Thanksgiving sandwich calls for white bread, untoasted, Pepperidge Farm if available. Hellman’s mayo. White meat only. Salt and Pepper. Cold stuffing. Lettuce. Cranberry sauce, not jelly. Sweet gherkins on the side. As a kid growing up in a house of 10, this would have been a Thursday midnight event during the family poker game, because there were no leftovers left by Friday.

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    • I like leftover turkey on white bread toast. Warm up the turkey on the side with leftover gravy and slide onto toast,
      If no gravy – go cold turkey (ha ha) with BBQ sauce – my wife prefers ketchup. If any sides are leftover – include them on the side – green bean casserole, stuffing or mac and cheese.
      Yum

      Liked by 1 person

      • My daughter bought 8 baby turkeys 10 weeks ago. She buys her mashed corn feed from a local farmer who raises show pigs. He buys it by the truck load and sells it to her for pennies on the dollar.
        My girl and her husband butchered one for us last weekend and cleaned it and dressed it out and delivered it to us for what it would have cost us at Aldi, $1.39 a pound. It weighed 26 pounds dressed out and we cooked it the next day, sliced it up and froze it and had it for Thanksgiving. Totally organic and it had twice as much dark meat as a store-bought turkey.
        We will make soup from the carcass, eat a couple more meals and then freeze all the rest in small packages for lunch meat, which sells for about $8 a pound at the store.
        My favorite turkey sandwich is fresh sliced white bread, turkey breast, butter and mayo and thin-sliced cranberry jelly from a can. All served cold. It was what mom used to mke me when I was growing up from the leftover Thanksgiving dinner. Nobody in my family liked leftover turkey. I feasted and then waited for Christmas leftovers to come.

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  15. Once – or was it twice – upon a time in the 2022 postseason:

    Can you believe it? An opposing manager decided to pull his high-profile starter in a critical situation and bring in a lefty to record an out against Yordan Alvarez.

    And now, I feel a folk song coming on ….

    Where have all the baseballs gone … long-time flyin’
    Where have all the baseballs gone … launch-angle high;
    Where have all the baseballs gone … gone to auction, who will buy?
    When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

    [As a result, there are now some badly bruised, and very expensive baseballs

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    • I count 3 times that bringing in lefties backfired – along with the first playoff game and last playoff game there was the no hitter game where Alvarado came in with the bases loaded and plunked Yordan and then gave up the double to Bergman on the way to our 5 run inning.

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  16. Swing low, sweet Alvarez
    Launching bombs to drive ’em all home
    Swing low, sweet Alvarez
    Launching bombs to drive ’em all home

    I looked over Yordan, and what did I see
    Launching bombs to drive ’em all home
    A band of leftys coming after me
    Launching bombs to drive ’em all home

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