Then again, I haven't been punched in the face by a player yet, so I guess they were just blowing smoke.
Anyway, Rolen batted sixth and played his typical third base in Saturday’s Game 3 rout which put the Cardinals and their 83-regular season victories just two more wins from the World Series and a rematch of the 1968 Series. Scott Spiezio, Rolen's replacement at third base in two post-season games also started (left field) and contrubted with his second, two-run triple in as many games.
But Rolen snapping his big, post-season slump with a walk and a single mixed in with his Brooks-Robinson-and-Mike-Schmidt-all-rolled-into-one defense isn’t even half the story. Apparently, as I assumed (yeah, there’s that pronoun again. Hey, it’s my blog!) Rolen and La Russa may need some counseling.
Gee, no one saw that coming.
Jim Salisbury, for my money (what there is of it) the most interesting baseball writer out there, rightly analyzed the rift in the Inquirer today and even asked Rolen if he would be interested in a return to Philadelphia. If there is anyone who can offer an astute read on the situation it’s Salisbury since he’s seen it all before. Plus, there are very few writers that I have come across who the players respect more than Salisbury.
But enough of that… let’s get back to Rolen.
Next to Randy Wolf and Doug Glanville, Rolen is the smartest ballplayer I’ve met. However, he’s also the most sensitive. As Salisbury points out, Rolen is high-maintenance. He needs to be kept in the loop and also needs self-assurance and what he deems as fairness. I recall a time where Rolen and Larry Bowa had a long, pre-game meeting because Bowa, looking for a spark, moved Rolen to the No. 2 spot in the batting order. At the same time, Bowa shifted Bobby Abreu over to center field, but with Abreu all the manager did was walk over to his locker and ask him if he was OK with playing center field.
With Rolen, it took a closed-door meeting for a batting order shift.
As one Phillie management type once told me: “Scotty worries about everything. He cares about how the cars are parked in the parking lot… ”
The Phillies, not exactly the most astute in reading situations, placating feelings or being sensitive to others, weren’t too far off here.
Because of that Rolen, like any classic high achieving, high-maintenance person, not only expects a lot out of himself, but he also has high standards for others.
Pardon the dime store psychiatry, but as someone with similar traits – excluding the high achieving part, of course – it’s easy to understand that Rolen needs a lot of understanding. Perhaps that’s why he is the most entertaining player out there. His neurosis is on display constantly from his habits in the batter's box to how he takes the field and his human cannonball style. What makes all that more than shtick is that he can actually play.
I can’t think of a player I’ve ever enjoyed watching more.
But through the neurosis, stubbornness and sensitivity, Rolen has to know he can’t win a battle against La Russa. Come on… he’s smarter than that. It’s not about leverage or public opinion or anything like that. It’s that La Russa is right. Sure, La Russa has an ego as large as every successful baseball man, but he isn’t Larry Bowa. It might be wise for Rolen to get past his natural tendencies and all of that other stuff and try to iron it out with La Russa.
Besides, the Cardinals won both of the playoff games where La Russa benched Rolen.
It's the playoffs!
It may be a knee-jerk reaction, but the Cardinals might have the Mets right where they want them. This series might not be going back to Shea.
Reason? To borrow and paraphrase a political campaign mantra, it’s the pitching, stupid.
When Steve Traschel is your team’s Game 3 starter, there’s trouble. When reliever Darren Oliver gets two (two!) at-bats, there’s trouble. When Oliver is pitching six innings in one game, there’s trouble. When Endy Chavez… well, you get the idea.
The fact of the matter is the Mets’ injuries are just too much to overcome. If they can comeback and win the series, I’ll sing New York’s hosannas, but I just don’t see it happening.
At the same time, I don’t see the Tigers losing the World Series. In that regard, here’s the question I posed a couple of the Phillies writers:
How can the Tigers go from losing 119 games to winning the World Series and the Phillies can only make the playoffs once in the last 23 years?
... of nothing, is it tacky for a media member to dial up other media outlets to "volunteer" his "expertise" on their airwaves? I think so.