I don’t actually know if you have Fathers’ Day up in Canada. I mean, I assume you do, but perhaps it gets forgotten amongst Lumberjack Appreciation Day, the annual celebration of the perfection of the Molson recipe, or Canadian Riot Day (which was obviously last week). But down here, it’s a pretty big deal. As payment for their roles in the conception and raising of their offspring, fathers are given one day a year where they can sleep in, watch baseball games unmolested, and drink as much beer as they want as long as they don’t pass out or start yelling. That’s never how it works around our house, where The Boy woke me at 6:30, and forced me to come downstairs and put together Legos with him, but I suppose a fitting celebration of fatherhood is to actually perform it. Good times.
Anyway, since it’s Father’s Day, this one is for all the dads out there. You are better than these guys. Good job.
If the Rolling Stones have taught us anything, it’s that it’s possible to survive using copious amounts of drugs if you mix them in the proper proportions. If they’ve taught us two things, it’s that first thing and that you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.
Henry the VIII was desperate for a son. Desperate that he would have a male heir, Henry divorced his first wife and beheaded his second until he found Jane Seymore, who bore the sickly Edward, before dying of complicates related to the childbirth. Henry was overjoyed to have a male heir (though that didn’t stop him from taking three more wives, annulling the marriage to one and beheading another). Edward was 10 years old when his father died and he ascended to the throne, and a regency council ruled England until he matured. Weak and sickly, Edward never made it. He fell ill and died at 16, passing his title to Lady Jane Grey, who ruled for nine days, and then to his sister Mary. Mary lasted just five years before she died was replaced by Elizabeth I.
Under Elizabeth, who would reign for 44 years, Great Britain became a great naval power and expansionist empire. It became the most prosperous country in the world, and its influence spread all over the globe.
Similarly, all Charlie Manuel has wanted is for Brad Lidge to be healthy and effective at the back end of the Philadelphia bullpen. So far, he’s gotten that in two of the four seasons Lidge has been in Philly. Now it’s June and the erstwhile closer is just beginning to play catch, and there’s no real timeline for his recovery. Manuel tried to replace him with Jose Contreras, who also broke down. So he was forced to finally rely on Ryan Madson to close games out.
Madson has been one of the best and most reliable relievers around for the last three seasons. He keeps the ball down, throws hard, and mows down opposing batters. But, for reasons beyond comprehension, Charlie Manuel has never given him an extended trial at closer before now. And in the 24 appearances since he took over, Madson has pitched 24 innings, struck out 25 batters, has a 2.25 ERA, and has saved 15 of 16 games. He’s got that magical closer experience teams covet, and should be in line for a big free agent contract next year. And the Phillies keep rolling.
By the way, we could have substituted Tony Reagins, Tony LaRussa, Ed Wade, or any of the other managers or GMs in here whose expensive proven closers have failed them and left them relying on younger, cheaper, and better options on the back end.
Daedalus and his son, Icarus, had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete for helping Theseus escape the Labyrinth. But Daedalus was a master craftsman and inventor, who used his imprisonment in Knossos to his advantage. He made two pairs of wings for himself and the boy out of wax and feathers. When they made their escape, however, Icarus ignored his father’s warnings about flying too near to the sun. Enraptured with the ability to fly, Icarus went higher and higher. Eventually, the sun melted the wax in the wings, and they disintegrated, sending Icarus plummeting to his death.
Similarly, Dusty wanted his young, 22 year old fireballer, Aroldis Chapman, to fly through the minors and to blow away Major Leaguers with his 105 MPH fastball. Envisioning a howitzer he could deploy night in and night out from the back end of the bullpen, Baker demanded that Chapman become a one-inning sensation. And he was, briefly, successful. Despite troubling walk totals, Chapman struck out 125 batters in 95 innings at AAA Louisville, posted a 3.57 ERA, and was brought to the Bigs in 2010. In 15 games in August and September, Chapman struck out 37% of the batters he faced, while managing to harness his fastball, and posting a 2.03 ERA.
But there were warning signs. Chapman could not be used on back-to-back days, or his velocity would be way down. He continued to be effectively wild. And, frankly, no one knew how long anyone could actually throw 105 miles per hour. Predictably, Chapman has struggled mightily in 2011. With 20 walks in 13 innings, Chapman officially lost the plate. Eventually sent down to Louisville, he proved to be profoundly hittable before he was demoted again to AA Carolina. In 7 innings there, he’s struck out 11 but walked 6. There is something clearly wrong with either the health or the mechanics of the surprisingly expensive youngster, something that possibly could have been identified and fixed last year if Baker had simply waited for Chapman to learn to properly use his wings.
Ron Gardenhire is like Lear
King Lear loved his daughters and was tired of rule. So he asked them to prove their love to him. Two of the daughters woo him and praise him disingenuously. His third and favorite, Cordelia, simply tells her that she loves him, without additional flowery language, for there is nothing more true than those words. Lear is furious, disinherits her, and divides the rest of the kingdom between his remaining two daughters. Those daughters, however, turn the King out, leading to his madness and utter ruin. Eventually, everyone murders everyone else, and the entire royal line is dead.
Gardenhire has a lot of “children” who he similarly has trusted, who he has given the world to. Delmon Young continues to play every day and is hitting .245/.273/.315 with 2 homers. Gardenhire refuses to move him from leftfield because he doesn’t want to “mess with him.” Matt Capps, who the club re-signed for $7 million this year, rather than holding on to Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, or Jon Rauch for much less, has blown five of 16 save opportunities, has given up 5 homers in 31 innings, has seen his strikeout rate fall and his ERA rise. And Alexi Casilla was made the starting shortstop despite there being zero evidence he could handle the position, and he predictably struggled. Even Gardy’s more reliable sons like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Jim Thome, and Francisco Liriano have been too hurt to help much.
Despite the recent surge by the Twins (who have won 13 of their last 15 games), the kingdom is burning down around Gardy because he put his trust in the wrong players. Twins fans have to hope he finds the right daughters to give power to before the season ends, and that he stops kowtowing to the needs of ineffective players like Young and Capps.