The Vulture Report: September 5th, 2016

So, Labor Day Weekend. Are we supposed to say to each other Happy Labor Day or some such? Not quite sure what the etiquette is here. As far as I can tell Labor Union membership is pretty low across the board and they seem to be the object of resentment and envy by people who aren’t unionized. When did Union become a bad word? Like all things I’m sure there are bad apples and bad examples just as I’m sure they are definitely necessary in many walks of life.

About a week or so ago there was all this talk about the CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) possibly going to strike. Lots of hand wringing by some folks because it might have inconvenienced a Math Trade I was participating in (Math Trade is kind of the electronic equivalent of a flea market, that’s not precise but it’s the gist of it). The amusing part is that the Union was saying the strike would entail… rotating strikes. Ok, so not all areas would stop at once, certain regions would work and others not… oh wait, it’s just overtime, regular hours would not be affected… so wait a minute, you’re only stopping overtime work in rotating schedules? THIS is a so called strike? Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Nothing like the labor strife of decades past when the Republicans (Like Eisenhower and later Nixon) actually enacted pro-Labor policies and courted the Labor Unions (in their own fashion).

Meanwhile the world’s most successful Labor Union (MLBPA) has lots to celebrate even though in the last few years they probably haven’t been as gung ho as their predecessors would have been in the past; in their zeal to be stalwarts against PEDs they have basically allowed MLB some freebies in addition to getting away with a few things they shouldn’t have, oh well it’s a $9 Billion dollar industry, they’re getting an enormous portion of the pie aren’t they? Too bad minor leaguers don’t.

Let’s focus on three particular members of the MLBPA this week:

August 30th, Dellin Betances of the New York Yankees. Vulture #2 for Betances. This man should need no introduction, he is having another phenomenal year for the Bronx Bombers, though slightly worse in the ERA department for a man used to a sub 2 ERA. However his K9 rate is Otherworldly with 15.5. If strikeouts are fascist then Dellin is Mussolini. (Remember, we already established Tony LaRussa is Hitler).

To make it on this list often you’ve got to be good and Betances is everybody’s definition of good. He came in the bottom of the 8th to protect a 1 run lead replacing Tyler Clippard, who walked Lorenzo Cain to start the frame. Cain would steal second base and make it to third on a throwing error by rookie catcher Gary “Sergeant Slaughter” Sanchez.

If there was one man who could escape an inning unscathed with a man on third and no outs it’s Betances. But his opposition was the Kansas City Royals, a team known for being high contact and stingy with strikeouts. Hosmer grounded out and Cain stayed put. Morales hit a sacrifice fly bringing Lorenzo to score. Salvador Perez would ground out as well. Betances would pitch the 9th inning too with a ground out and two strikeouts. The Yankees would go on to score a run in the 10th and later win the game.

It’s pretty hard to find fault with Betances’s performance here. It was heads up KC base running that beat him and Gary Sanchez’s error that compounded the problem. This is a W I find very hard to say is undeserving despite the technicalities.

September 2nd, Francisco Rodriguez of the Detroit Tigers. K-Rod also requires no introduction. As a young fireballer he set the MLB record for saves with 62 of them back in 2008. Of course K-Rod is no longer a young man and he gets by more through guile than speed nowadays. Let no man say he’s not a pitcher; he used to average 95 MPH on his fastball all the way back in 2007. I’m not sure he can tough 95 anymore and struggles to average 90 MPH. The fact that he can still pitch successfully is a testament to his perseverance.

The situation was familiar: bottom of the 8th inning, brought into the game early for a 4 out save. Shane Greene had pitched the 7th to get the Tiggers out of a jam and in the next inning found himself in one of his own doing. The opponents were, once again in this blog post, the Kansas City Royals.

Alex Gordon struck out but Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson both singled. Whit Merrifield came in to pinch hit and hit a fly ball deep enough to allow the runners to get into scoring position.

Enter K-Rod.

Paulo Orlando swatted the second ball he saw from Rodriguez and just like that hit a two out, two RBI single to tie the game. The Thin Red Line strikes again.

Fortunately for the Tigers Wade Davis was still in Shareware Mode after coming back from the DL and hit one batsman, allowed a double and then a single allowing Detroit to retake the league. K-Rod got a Mulligan!

Francisco managed two strikeouts and got Salvador Perez to ground out to short to end the game and claim victory.

September 3rd, Carlos Torres of the Milwaukee Brewers. Carlos is not very different from your average journeyman relief pitcher who (by ERA) has been having a pretty nice year. Though looking at secondary stats tells a story of an ERA more by accident than by design. As Spock would say: “Random factors have occurred in his favor,” or as Dr McCoy might say: “In other words, he’s been damn lucky!”

Take for example the bottom of the 7th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Holding a one run lead he allows a lead off single to Josh Harrison. Then what happens next? Josh Bell gournd into a double play! He must have been feeling pretty good about himself because while pitching to Andrew McCutchen (who some folks regard as being mostly dead) he threw a 91.5 MPH cutter like this:

Tie Game! Oh that Thin Red Line. But luck did not abandon Torres for the Brew Crew would plate four runs in the 8th so not even Corey Knebel’s shit performance on the mound in the bottom of the 8th (0.1 IP, 2H (1 HR), 2ER, 1K) prevented Carlos from grabbing the W.

I’ve been told it’s in the form of a Horseshoe.

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