The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fighting talk

Frank Robinson is sometimes criticised for his management style, but one of the things he has proved he can do very effectively is play mind games, both with the umpires and with the opposing team - witness the Nats' recent series against Atlanta, when he managed to get a crucial home-run call overturned by the umpires.

Last night, he asked umpires to inspect the glove of Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly before he had even thrown a pitch. At first glance it looked like Robinson was once again just trying to upset the pitcher on the mound, but when the umpires took Donnelly's glove and inspected it, lo and behold - pine tar! Donnelly was then ejected, and the ensuing exchange of words between Robinson and Scioscia almost ended up causing a brawl between the two as the benches emptied onto the field.

I suppose Scioscia was upset at Robinson's request, and under normal circumstances I would probably have been a little pissed of at Robinson too for interrupting the game for no valid reason, but not in this case. The more I see Scioscia, the more he annoys me - he always seems to be whining about something - so this brought a big smile to my face, as it's a little hard to take the moral high ground when your guy has been caught red-handed. He tried to get his own back later in the game by complaining about Nats' reliever Gary Majewski's glove, but in the end it just made him look all the more like a petulant little kid who wants to get a cheap shot in.

In a key footnote to the game, it was interesting to see ex-Angel Jose Guillen having to be forcibly pushed back to the Nats' dugout after the benches cleared. Guillen had issues with Scioscia at the end of last season which led to him being released by the Angels. Last night was a situation which could easily have got out of hand, as Guillen was clearly upset by Scioscia's argument with Robinson. It is a measure of the turnaround in Guillen's attitude that he was able to harness that frustration and use it for his team, rather than against it: he came out in the top of the eighth inning and let his bat do the talking, belting a vicious two-run homer to start the game-winning rally and give us the picture of the day:
Image hosted by (AP)
The silence of Mike Scioscia - 'tis a beautiful thing...