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RITE OF SPRING: EARLY FIRING OF MANAGERS

By Murray Chass

April 22, 2018

If Bryan Price was fired, can Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin keep their jobs much longer? History and gambling odds say no.

Before the Cincinnati Reds fired him April 19 only three weeks and 18 games into the season, Price was viewed by oddsmakers as being one of the three managers most likely to be the first manager fired this season. The offshore Bovada bookmaker had Price at 3 to 1, the same as Bob Melvin of Oakland. The only manager Bovada odds said was more likely to be fired was Showalter at 3 to 2.

Price did not have a rewarding tenure as the Reds’ manager. He replaced Dusty Baker, and that inexplicable decision turned out to be one of the most ill-advised in franchise history.

With Baker on the job, the Reds won division titles in two of his last four years and 90 games in his last year. In Price’s first four years the Reds had losing records each year, winning 76, 64, 68 and 68 games. The 3-15 record with which they started his fifth season offered no hope for anything different.

[Price lasted longer than either Bob Lemon or Yogi Berra did with the Yankees in the 1980s. Lemon was fired after 14 games (8-6) in 1982 and Berra after 16 games (6-10).]

Enter Jim Riggleman, the Reds’ bench coach and a veteran manager notoriously known for walking away from his job as manager of the Washington Nationals in the middle of the 2011 season when the general manager wouldn’t talk to him about a contract extension, let alone give him one.

As this season has progressed, it has regressed for Showalter and the Orioles. They don’t have the worst record in the American League, but at 6-15 entering Sunday’s schedule, they had the worst record in the A.L. East and that was bad enough for the Orioles because that record put them 11 1/2 games behind the rampaging Red Sox. (17-3).

Peter Angelos, the Orioles’ owner, has been uncharacteristically quiet and calm, but his mood could change without warning. So could Showalter’s status …

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HE STRUCK OUT? WHO CARES?

By Murray Chass

April 15, 2018

Once upon a time major league baseball players cared if they struck out. Striking out was the sign of a weak, inept hitter. Striking out, in short, was embarrassing. No more.

In this new era of baseball, better to swing and miss but have a chance to hit a home run than have no chance at all.

Players have adjusted their swings to uppercut the ball, giving them a better chance to hit the ball over the wall or into the stands. There is, however, a downside to that approach, and that results is more strikeouts.

That is not to say that the increase in strikeouts is attributable entirely to …

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SNOW, SNOW GO AWAY; THEN IT CAME ANOTHER DAY

By Murray Chass

April 8, 2018

When I woke up the morning of April 2, looked outside and saw snow falling, I instantly thought of April 1982. We don’t normally think of snow falling in April or during the baseball season, but snow fell in April 1982 and deposited its pretty white flakes in the same month 36 years later. In both instances the snow that fell was enough to force postponement of the Yankees’ home opener. The Yankees have to hope that snow was the only similarity between that season and this one. That season was a disaster for the Yankees.

The previous season, 1981, the Yankees won the American League pennant and played the Dodgers in the World Series, losing in six games.

There were no post-season games in snow-disrupted 1982. The Yankees spent most of the season …

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