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NEW RULE: WIN WORLD SERIES OR GO HOME

By Murray Chass

October 22, 2017

The price of winning in baseball has gone up meteorically, in case you hadn’t noticed. This month two managers, Dusty Baker of Washington and John Farrell of Boston, have been fired despite directing their teams to a second successive division championship.

Baker and Farrell weren’t fired for lack of winning but for not winning enough. That is, their teams lost in the division series – the first round – of the playoffs and didn’t win – or at least advance to – the World Series.

In dismissing Baker after two years as the Nationals manager, Mike Rizzo, the president of baseball operations, stated it simply.

“Our expectations,” Rizzo said on a conference call with reporters last Friday, “have grown to the fact that winning regular-season games and winning divisions are not enough. Our goal is to win a world championship.’’

There was a suspicion that Rizzo might not have been speaking for himself but for the team owners, the Lerner family, but that doesn’t really matter. The Lerners wouldn’t be the first owners to fire a manager for not winning the World Series. Fellow named Steinbrenner used to do it all the time.

Baker’s fans, including baseball writers who like Dusty, and he’s easy to like, were outraged at his dismissal. But decades of covering and writing about baseball have taught me that managerial firings are routine. They come with the territory. No manager is immune from dismissal unless his name is Connie Mack and he owns the team.

Baker certainly knows that fact of managerial life and this is not the first time he has been fired. If he was surprised at the Nationals’ act, he hadn’t been paying close enough attention. Owners have become more impatient, and their general managers quickly get …

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MANAGERS ABANDON STARTING PITCHERS

By Murray Chass

October 15, 2017

Where have all the starting pitchers gone? Look quickly and closely, or you may miss them. This has been probably the most unusual post-season ever, marked by manager after manager rushing from the dugout to the mound to summon relief pitchers with the games still in the early innings.

The managers can’t seem to wave their arms, left or right, quickly enough in the directions of the bullpens to call for new pitchers. Joe Girardi, the Yankees’ manager, set the tone in the very first post-season game, yanking Luis Severino only one out into the American League wild-card game with Minnesota. Other managers quickly followed suit.

Through Thursday night’s National League division series final game …

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FOR HIS LATEST TRICK, MANFRED’S FELLOWS

By Murray Chass

October 11, 2017

The timing was stunning. It was impossible to ignore. Less than two and a half days after the previous column on the very subject was posted on this website, a news article popped up on MLB.com. It carried the byline of the MLB.com reporter who for years has written house pieces about Major League Baseball and its commissioners. Mark Newman probably wrote enough puff pieces about Bud Selig when he was commissioner to fill a book.

It was as if Rob Manfred or an aide to the commissioner summoned Newman and said, “OK, Mark, we got another one for you.” I don’t want to be fanciful about this, but Newman might also have been told …

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