Nationals Baseball: Bad Form, Great Gamesmanship

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bad Form, Great Gamesmanship

The Nats lost. That makes 4 in a row but when you have great pitching you tend to feel like these streaks are going to end right away. Like, tonight for example. Tonight Strasburg pitches vs a substitute pitcher, a live arm with a mediocre AAA ERA. You expect a win. If he loses, Gio goes tomorrow.  Sure Matt Moore is good and has loads of potential but Gio has been phenomenal. You expect a win. Don't treat this streak as a thing until at least both of these games are lost.

As for last night, the story of the game was Davey calling out Joel Peralta as a cheater and getting him ejected from the game for having an illegal substance on his glove.  Most Nats fans understandably took the  position of "Davey's so wily! Maddon's a cowardly cheat!".  That's what you do as a fan. I don't think it was that cut and dried though.  I thought this move was bad baseball form, but great gamesmanship.

Why bad form? Because you'd prefer to win without showing up the other team in any way. You don't watch your homers go out. You don't steal up 10 in the 7th. You win but you don't embarrass. Davey embarrassed. Unless he was just informed of Joel's habits right as he took the mound, Davey could have addressed the problem without showing up the Rays. He could have went to Maddon pre-game and said "You know Peralta used to be one of our guys and we know what he does. If he comes out we're going to check him".  After that no way Maddon sends him out with a substance on his glove. Problem solved and no one is called out in public.

It's also bad form because implicit in accusing other teams of cheating is the idea that you'd never do such a thing.  Davey doesn't have the cleanest history himself.  His mid 90s Orioles had some of the most famous proven (Palmeiro), and suspected (Brady Anderson) steroid users of the era.  His mid 80s Mets were among the most notorious drug using teams of their day.  Even in his playing career he has that inexplicable, out of nowhere 43 homer season for the "This whole idea makes us very uncomfortable so let's just agree to never talk about it" Early 70s Atlanta Braves. That's just off the top of my head.

Why great gamesmanship? Because screw everything I said in the last two paragraphs. Your goal is to win the games you play.  Letting the Rays warm-up Peralta, put him in the game, and then pulling this stunt gives you an advantage.  They had a plan and you've forced them to change it immediately.  If that allows you to score a couple runs and win the game - that's all that matters. Maybe Peralta gets suspended and is out for the rest of the series.  Maybe he's just thrown by the ejection and attention.  Either way it would be another thing in your favor.  Davey likes to play these psychological games with pitchers, accusing or implying that they are cheating.  Mike Scott, Jay Howell, Orel Hershiser, Jake Arrieta earlier this year. Whatever it takes to get an advantage.

Was what Davey did a "p***y" move? Sure. But if we're supposed to wink at cheating, because the guys that do it are just trying to win games, then we have to wink at "p***y" moves, because the guys that do those are just trying to win games, too.


Kenny B. said...

It certainly would have seemed like a smoother move from Davey if we had won. But cheating is cheating, so if you're gonna do it, don't get mad when someone calls you on it.

On what I think is a more interesting note, how long until Det takes back his spot as the fifth starter? He made Wang look terrible out there (well, Wang made himself look terrible, Det made him look even worse by comparison).

Harper said...

I think Maddon on face value can be mad, as kind of a way to protect and deflect attention from Peralta, but deep down he better be thinking "Oh well, we knew this could happen"

Wang only has 3 starts to go before the All-Star break. If he can manage not to be terrible vs the Orioles in the next one - I think he makes all 3.

David said...

Maddon can't be mad he did the same thing to Blanton in 2008. He thought Blanton had pine tar on this his and asked the umps to watch him. The difference, the umps never pulled Blanton cause he wasn't using where Peralta was.

Anonymous said...

"Why bad form? Because you'd prefer to win without showing up the other team in any way."

Since when? Maybe in Little League, but this is the big time son. You go as hard as you can until the game is over.

If you're up 20 runs, you still steal and you still hit and run and you still try to crush them on every play. Unless the other team is going to stop trying to catch up, you should NEVER try to stop scoring runs. This is baseball, you can score 20 runs in one inning, no lead is ever safe.

Harper said...

David - so if he's truly mad (and not just playing at it for Joel's benefit) he's a hypocrite. Ehhh he's probably truly mad - they're all hypocrites.

Anon - I didn't make this up. It's pretty much a given that this is the way major league teams look at games. Here's an example from last year

Personally while I recognize that it's bad form, I don't care. If you can't stop 'em it's your own fault.

blovy8 said...

Yeah, I think there was also the beanball crap with Boston where Madden tried to pretend his players don't retaliate, and looked like a hypocrite too. He's a good manager, but he's awfully disingenuous when it comes to the unwritten rules. If he was above it, why have them check Mattheus' glove?

WiredHK said...

Wang must be the happiest guy in DC about this glove stuff. Because otherwise, the real story is he is finished. His ERA numbers were passable in two of his starts but he escaped a ton of should-have-been worse situations (as he did in the 1st last night, yet he still blew up later). He can't get people out or give his team much of a chance to win. He has one pitch and it's not real effective anymore. It's over.

I'm not saying Det is the answer, but I like him in there a heckuva lot more than Wang.

And while we are at it, toss another log on the Zim fire. Ugh. 10 GIDPs, one off the overall NL lead (or cellar, as it were) on a team that has the second fewest GIDPs in the NL. I'm beyond frustrated at this stage...he needs to learn how to bunt....

Anyway, carry on about glove-gate.

Zimmerman11 said...

Glove gate was just Davey answering the mail on Sign Gate.... Maddon adn the Rays pulled a p***y move by trying to get into our pitchers head with runners on base the previous inning. "the sign! it's been up all night but now it's bothering me!"

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that part of Davey's motivation was to get in Maddon's head, and by extension, the rest of the Rays. It seems that might have worked. We'll see how it plays out over the next two games.

Sec314 said...

My 5 and half year old daughter was mystified by the delay as we sat in the stands. And when they took Peralta's glove away she was really surprised. Trying to explain what a "foreign substance" was just ridiculous

michael k said...

I don't think it's bad form. You shouldn't cheat. Oh, everyone does it, Madden? So what? Davey shouldn't have to discretely warn Madden before the game not to let his players cheat.

What really surprised me was Madden's reaction. He retaliated based on zero suspicion, used vulgar language, called Davey "bush league" for trying to stop a cheater (how horrible!), and said every MLB player now has to go out and buy new gloves. Why, so they don't cheat anymore? Seriously, he sounds like a baby, and I really don't think that's just the fan in me talking. What did he expect - that the Nats would just let it happen???

B said...

Ditto to what Zimmerman11 said, it seems like checking the glove was just Davey's response to covering up the ad in center field.

There were three odd events in the game last night:
1) the TV review of Morse's HR,
2) the delay to cover up the at in CF,
3) the glove.

At no point was there any explanation to the fans at the game regarding what was going on, which always seems ridiculous. Just make an announcement, for crissakes!

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