Tag:Joe Maddon
Posted on: May 12, 2010 8:10 pm

Two Billmeyer friends amused by accusations

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As word of Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer getting busted with binoculars and allegedly stealing signs boomeranged around the game Wednesday, two men who worked with Billmeyer a decade ago found the idea of Billmeyer doing such a dastardly deed laughable.

"I hate to throw him under the bus but, knowing him, I'm sure it had nothing to do with signs," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who, during his 31 years in the Angels' organization, became friends with Billmeyer (who was the Angels' bullpen/workout coordinator from 1994-1999).

"I'd bet on it. I can say that because he's a single guy."

Across the field here Wednesday, one of Billmeyer's former roommates -- Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher -- chuckled and agreed.

"I honestly believe he was either checking out the scenery," said Butcher, who lived with Billmeyer for a time when Butcher was pitching for the Angels (1992-1995), "or checking out his own catcher.

"I know he's the catching instructor there. I wouldn't be surprised if he was bearing down on his own guy."

Evidence uncovered by the Rockies was incriminating enough that major-league baseball delivered a stern reprimand to the Phillies on Wednesday.

The Rockies noticed Billmeyer with binoculars in the Coors Field bullpen during a game earlier this week looking in at Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo from the center field bullpen with the Phillies batting in the first inning. The Rockies asked their television network to zoom in on Billmeyer, and television cameras caught him looking in at Olivo in the second.

"Sign-stealing is going on all the time, and I think it's one of the lost arts of the game if you doing it the right way," Maddon said. "If you're doing it with technology, I totally disagree with it. But if you're doing it through observation ... binoculars, I'd say, are technology."

First generation, apparently -- though Maddon did not elaborate on that part of it.

"When you can get the other side's signs through old-fashioned detective work, it can really impact a game," Maddon said. "If some people are upset with that, then I'd say shame on them for not concealing their signs better."

Even with binoculars in Billmeyer's hand and video evidence, though, Maddon still found it difficult to believe that Billmeyer was studying Olivo's signs.

"I'd love to know what was [in the stands] behind Olivo," he quipped.

Likes: Nothing like a good, old-fashioned, sign-stealing controversy. ... The Phillies have been accused of this before (see Dodgers coach Larry Bowa's radio comments from last October when the Phils were playing the Yankees in the World Series). But a couple of things to remember, for those thinking Billmeyer is the culprit: While you can see the catcher from the bullpen in Philly's Citizens' Bank Park, it's hit-and-miss on the road. Not all bullpens would give Billmeyer (or anybody else) a clear line of vision to the catcher (Coors Field does). Also, the Phillies scored more runs on the road than at home last year, and the same is true so far this year.

Dislikes: The pair of binoculars I have at home have been broken for two years.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And the sign said long-haired freaky people need not apply
"So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
"He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do
"So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you
"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
"Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
"Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign"

-- Five Man Electrical Band, Signs


Posted on: May 11, 2010 12:52 am

The Rays and the art of the perfect game

Perfect games follow the Tampa Bay Rays around the way stray dogs hang near the meat market.

Rays' outfielder Gabe Kapler on Sunday became the only man in baseball history to bat in the ninth inning twice with his team facing a perfect game.

Kapler bounced to shortstop to end Dallas Braden's grab at history in Oakland on Sunday.

And in Chicago last July, he was Mark Buehrle's first out in the ninth inning.

You might recall that one: Kapler was the guy who smoked the fly ball to the wall that Chicago outfielder DeWayne Wise majestically chased down in a highlight reel play for the ages.

"And if you want to take it one step further. ..." Kapler said Monday in Anaheim as the Rays prepared to open a series with the Angels.

Yes, if you want to do that, Kapler now has had three brushes with perfect games in three years: In 2008, San Diego's Chris Young spun a perfect game for 7 2/3 innings on Sept. 7 in Milwaukee when Kapler, then a Brewers outfielder, broke it up by smashing a home run.

Understandably so, Kapler says he felt "very connected to" Buehrle's moment, given how close he came to breaking up and Wise's spectacular play.

As for Braden's perfecto on Sunday, Kapler said, "I think in the order of the universe, there are reasons why it would have been nice for us to break it up. But after the game, I read about how Braden's mom had died of cancer, and it was poetic [to have it happen on Mother's Day]. It was his day. He needed to make pitches, and he made them."

Meantime, Kapler's wild perfect game history isn't all in this crazy Tampa Bay connection.

Manager Joe Maddon?

He's now been involved with three perfect games (plus another no-hitter) -- all on the wrong side.

While his Rays now have been victimized by two perfect games in their past 96 (Braden on Sunday, the White Sox's Mark Buehrle last July 23), Maddon also was the Angels' bullpen coach when Texas' Kenny Rogers was perfect against them back in 1994.

He also was the Angels' interim manager when Minnesota's Eric Milton no-hit them in 1999.

"I'm your guy for a perfect game," Maddon joked. "I'm on the bad side of history once again. Kind of amazing, but it happened."

Wait, there's more: Including the Braden and Buehrle games, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and third-base coach Tom Foley each have been involved with three perfect games.

Unlike with Maddon and Kapler, though, the Rays finally have a winner with Foley and Martinez: Each was on the 1991 Montreal club when Pedro Martinez tossed a perfect game against the Dodgers on July 28, 1991.

The Rays join the Dodgers and Twins as the only three teams to have two perfect games thrown against them.

Likes: Do yourself a favor and watch this absolutely hilarious recent rant by a disgusted Cleveland television guy doing a postgame show. And it was on the Indians' flagship station, no less. ... Terrific analysis encapsulating the mess that is the Kansas City Royals here. ... Classy tribute to the late Ernie Harwell before Monday's Tigers game in Detroit. A sad, sad thing, but the Tigers really deserve credit for the first-class manner in which they've handled everything. ... Really superb Drive-By Truckers show last Thursday at the House of Blues in San Diego. Those guys can play and, boy, do they rock. The new disc, The Big To-Do, is very good. Of course, it's no Decoration Day -- the Truckers set the bar with that (or maybe with Southern Rock Opera) -- but it's good. Love Birthday Boy, Daddy Learned to Fly, Santa Fe and (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So. ...

Dislikes: So, what, this oil is going to continue leaking into the ocean indefinitely? Can we get it fixed anytime soon? Yeah, drill, baby, drill. It's sickening watching what's going on.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"There was that whole weird thing with the horses
"I think they know exactly what happened
"I don't think it needs any explaining
"I'm pretty sure I wasn't your first choice
"I think I was the last one remaining"

-- The Hold Steady, The Weekenders

Posted on: April 19, 2010 6:53 pm

Elmer Fudd caps, not hoodies, the real scourge

They're taking away Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's hoodie?

I understand the whole uniform thing, that teams are teams and everyone should look the same, and one renegade wearing a hoodie could lead to total anarchy.

I mean, what if Evan Longoria used Maddon's hoodie to take the liberty of wearing a Tampa Bay replica pajama top instead of an authentic jersey? What if B.J. Upton suddenly figures it's OK to wear flip-flops with cleats on them for home games?

You never know into which dark neighborhoods one stinking hoodie could lead.

But, really.

If I'm baseball, I'm banning those ridiculous-looking Elmer Fudd caps with the ear flaps long before I ban hoodies.

You want to talk about a wardrobe malfunction, those are a blight on the game far more than a hoodie-wearing manager.

Likes: Really looking forward to seeing Ike Davis play, but settle down, Mets fans. Unless he's got a medical degree, he won't solve ALL the Mets' issues. ... Love the 11 a.m. Patriot's Day Red Sox games. Living out west, nothing like baseball on the tube over breakfast at 8 a.m. I can think of dozens of worse ways to start the day. ... If you enjoy music and American history, a terrific read is The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger, by Alec Wilkinson. Seeger, an acquaintance of Woody Guthrie's back in the day, is a fascinating guy. And it's interesting to have it reinforced that some of the same issues we're living through today (is that guy a true American? Which are the real parts of America?) have been going on for decades.

Dislikes: Prayers for Nick Charles, the old sportscaster who was on CNN back in the very early days of CNN, is battling cancer.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now they took Pete Seeger before the law
"Put him on the witness stand
"But he stood right up to tyranny
"With just a banjo in his hand
"Such a righteous banjo picker
"Watching out for me and you
"That was just a man that wouldn't back down
"On three chords and the truth

-- Ry Cooder, Three Chords and the Truth


Posted on: July 14, 2009 8:08 pm

The president's arrival

ST. LOUIS -- Nearly everyone in uniform was looking forward to President Barack Obama's arrival at the All-Star Game, particularly because early plans called for Obama to spend time in each clubhouse greeting each player.

When pitcher Mark Buehrle said he was hoping to get an individual picture taken with the president, someone told him that since Buehrle pitches for Obama's favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, maybe the president would seek him out.

"I'm not sure if he knows about that or cares about that," Buehrle said. He's got more important stuff to do."

American League manager Joe Maddon joked that he may borrow Buehrle's White Sox cap and wear it for Obama's arrival in the AL clubhouse.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, who warned President George W. Bush before his 2001 World Series first-ball toss not to bounce it or the crowd will boo, said he had no such advice prepared for Obama.

"We're in St. Louis," Jeter said. "They don't really boo that much. I'll just tell him, 'Don't get hurt.'"

Posted on: July 13, 2009 9:58 pm

Why not use the DH for all All-Star Games?

ST. LOUIS -- Here's the crazy thing about the designated hitter rule: Even for those who don't like it, the one time it absolutely makes all the sense in the world is during the All-Star Game when it is played in a National League park.

Yet when the first pitch is thrown in the 80th All-Star Game on Tuesday, NL rules will be in effect and the pitchers will be listed in the order.

"I agree," American League manager Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay told me Monday when we were discussing the subject. "If you get late in the game or into extra innings and you're running out of pitchers, you've got to let them bat."

Or, say somebody scores seven or eight first-inning runs on Tuesday night. Then AL starter Roy Halladay or NL starter Tim Lincecum will bat.

"That, too," Maddon said. "It makes sense to use the DH in an All-Star Game in an NL city."

DH aside, the NL rules will make it doubly challenging for Maddon and his NL counterpart, Charlie Manuel, as they balance the line between trying to play as many players as they can with winning home-field advantage for this fall's World Series.

"An American League game, you can pretty much choreograph the game before it begins and have an understanding of who you can get in," Maddon says. "Being it's a National League game, it's going to represent a bunch of different problems. As the game is in progress, you go from theory and reality hits you in the face.

"From my perspective, again, I want to get as many guys in the game as possible. But, however, as the game is tied and it's late, you have to keep some contingency plans in the back. Not only pitching-wise, but position player-wise, because you don't want pitchers to have to hit later in the game."

The NL's Manuel said that he'll rely a lot on his coaches, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa and Dodgers skipper Joe Torre, because "it's going to be a lot of movement in the game, more movement than I've ever had to do."

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 29, 2008 6:12 pm

Madson to "start" for Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- Arguably the most unusual game in World Series history is set to resume at 8:37 p.m. this evening, with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay tied 2-2, and the most fascinating thing of all is that the tactical moves will begin immediately.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said just before batting practice Wednesday that Ryan Madson will "start" for Philadelphia. The first Phillies pitcher will take the mound in the top of the seventh inning.

Before that, Manuel is expected to pinch-hit for pitcher Cole Hamels, whose spot in the order is up first when the game resumes in the bottom of the sixth.

Reliever Grant Balfour is in the game for the Rays, and the big question will be whether Rays manager Joe Maddon will immediately go with left-hander David Price or allow Balfour to face what is expected to be a left-handed pinch-hitter for Hamels -- likely Geoff Jenkins, possibly Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs.

If Maddon does go to Price, the danger is this: The pitcher's spot in the lineup is up fourth when Tampa Bay hits in the top of the seventh. With the Rays only getting three at-bats and the Phillies four (barring extra innings), Tampa Bay can ill afford to give up an out.

Another option, of course, if Maddon elects to start Price is to double-switch right out of the gate.

"I think we're going to find out real early," Manuel said of the Price question. "He came in against us in Florida, of course, and he went through our left-handed hitters twice, ... I figure that, evidently, they gained confidence in him there.

"And I think we're going to see him."

Tampa Bay's Maddon declined to divulge whether he will stay with Balfour or switch pitchers immediately. He also declined to say whether he would even have another pitcher warming up when the game resumes, so stay tuned.

In addition to Price, the Rays will have starter Andy Sonnanstine available.

"David threw about 40-some pitches his last time out," Maddon said. "He has not pitched as a starter in awhile. I'm a little concerned about how many pitches he can throw. I would say, comfortably, 50 to 60 would be within my mental range.

"Andy, I have to check with him but I believe he's going to be fine. I've already had Hick (pitching coach Jim Hickey) start that conversation with him, but I have not heard back yet. But I would say Andy is good for the same number."

As for Manuel's decision to start with Madson, even though it surely will be an odd feeling for the right-hander to be pitching so early and right off the bat, the manager said he thinks it will be fine.

"He's got experience and, a couple of years ago, he was a starter," Manuel said. "He's been throwing the ball real good. I think from a mindset (perspective), he also knows that we've just got actually three innings of baseball for our bullpen to pitch."

Never before has a World Series game been suspended like this. There have been 40 postponements in World Series history, 29 because of rain, one because of cold (1903) and the 10-day postponement following the San Francisco earthquake in 1989.

The weather here in Philadelphia is cold and windy. Game-time temperatures are expected to be somewhere between 42 and 44 degrees, with a wind chill in the 20s.

Posted on: October 27, 2008 6:09 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2008 7:32 pm

Joe Maddon tweaks scuffling Rays lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Two of his most dependable sluggers buried in an 0-for-29 hole, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has shuffled his Game 5 lineup as the Rays attempt to push this World Series back to Florida.

The lineup changes for Monday night are not drastic, but Maddon did bump Carlos Pena (0-for-13, six strikeouts) from third to fourth and Evan Longoria (0-for-16 with nine strikeouts) from fourth to fifth.

Left fielder Carl Crawford, meantime, is hitting second (instead of fifth), which pushes center fielder B.J. Upton to third (from second).

Crawford is one of the few players hitting for the Rays, who are batting .187 overall as a team in this World Series. Crawford is hitting .267 with two homers and two RBI.

"It's bumping Carl up as much as anything, too," Maddon said. "I wanted to get Carl up there, and he's been a successful two-place hitter for us. And I wanted to unfreeze those two guys a little bit. The fact that they've had a little bit of problems in the normal slots for both of them, I thought just by giving them a little different perspective today may help."

Earlier this season, Maddon gave Pena a game off when he was slumping. There's no time for that now, though. It's called adjust on the fly. Maddon thinks both Pena and Longoria are pressing, and while the Phillies are making good pitches on them, his theory is that his guys simply are not waiting for what may be given to them.

"I see them getting themselves out more than anything," Maddon said. "I'm not denigrating the Phillies' game plan. I think it's wonderful. I know exactly what they're trying to do. From our perspective, we're permitting them."


"When you're making outs on strikes, your kind of pitch, that's one thing," Maddon continued. "But when you're making outs on their pitches, primarily ... again, it speaks to organizing your strikes on seeing pitches."


Posted on: October 27, 2008 2:54 am

Longoria, Pena ice-cold and it's killing Rays

PHILADELPHIA -- On one end of Tampa Bay's clubhouse late Sunday night, slumping third baseman Evan Longoria worked on mysteries without any clues.

On the other end following the Rays' disheartening 10-2 stomping by Philadelphia, ice-cold first baseman Carlos Pena searched for the heat.

Together, the two are 0-for-29 with 15 strikeouts in this World Series.

And unless they make a sudden turnaround, the Rays are not going to come back and win this thing.

Not like this.

"They've been pitching well," said Longoria, 0-for-16 with nine strikeouts. "You've got to give a lot of credit to them. They haven't left too many pitches over the plate to hit.

"But when you swing at bad ones and strike out, you can't complain."

Pena is 0-for-13 with six strikeouts.

"We were swinging the bats incredibly well in Boston," he said.

Difference here is, it's an even bigger stage and, more to the point, the Phillies appear to have scouted these two exceptionally well.

Philadelphia went into this series determined not to allow its staff to fall into familiar patterns with individual pitches. It's worked especially well on Pena, who looks completely lost. The Phillies pegged him as a "guess hitter", which is as it sounds: It means that he has a tendency to read counts and guess. When it's a fastball count, he looks for a fastball. Other times, maybe he is guessing slider, or change-up.

He's very proficient at it. He collected 31 homers and 102 RBI this season

He's got one RBI in this World Series. It came on a ground ball to second in the first inning of Game 2.

Longoria, who had 27 homers and 85 RBI this season, also has just one RBI in this series. It also came in the first inning of Game 2, on a ground ball to shortstop.

Other than that, the silence has been deafening.

And, to Tampa Bay, deadly.

"From my old hitting coach days, I can just see what's happening," manager Joe Maddon said. "I've been trying to relate to both of them exactly what the Phillies are trying to do to them. But you have to go up there in the batter's box yourself. ...

"I just think both guys are just out of their game a little bit right now, quite frankly, in regards to their strike zone. If I preach anything to them, it is to not expand their strike zone. Because more often than not ... the Phillies are making good pitches, absolutely, and they've done a pretty good job. But if we stick to our game plan, we'll be able to counter-punch them."

Pena said that the Rays "haven't done well focusing on what we need to focus on."

Longoria said that, "I think I'm just in one of those stages where I'm not locked in. I'm getting maybe two pitches per at-bat to hit. When you're locked in, you hit those pitches. Like tonight against (Ryan) Madson, I hit it foul."

Longoria absolutely crushed a Madson pitch in the eighth, but he was so far ahead of it he pulled it to the wrong side of the left-field foul pole, into the upper deck. He wound up striking out on the at-bat.

He also was unlucky in Game 3, walloping a ball to deep left field that would have been a home run had the wind not knocked it down.

The fixes must be quick, but they will not be easy. Tampa Bay's season is on the line, and the Cinderella story could be over in just nine innings on Monday night.

The Rays simply must keep grinding, Longoria said.

"We've been doing it all year," he said. "We've never given up. We've been written off plenty of times. I think the emotions will be high, and we'll be as excited about this game as any we've played all year."

Category: MLB
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