Around the Horn with Paul Ghiglieri: 18th Edition

Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs) dishes on stealing bases with a seven-run lead, Noah Syndergaard's thoughts on trades, and the perpetual ump show.

Welcome to the 18th edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped down Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.

There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right to our first segment:


The Rundown

Our Main Story


There are many unwritten rules of baseball. Some are utter nonsense, products of a bygone era that really have no place in today’s game. Others make sense and serve to preserve the integrity of sportsmanship and competition.

One, in particular, I find seems to thread that needle between sportsmanship and competition very tightly:



I can see two schools of thought here: One says you have the play the game. The other has a problem with that and believes you have to play the game a certain way, undoubtedly a way deemed the “right way.”

So what is the “right” way? Well, up 11-4, Greg Brown and Bob Walk would say you shouldn’t be attempting to steal a base. It’s poor sportsmanship. “Even the fans” don’t like it, and “in a different era” … well, you can see where that was going, the implication being somebody is getting drilled or it’s time to throw the gloves down.

Let’s analyze this. If the batter as able to run from first to third, uncontested, whose fault is it really? Moreover, how safe is an 11-4 lead? According to Fangraphs win expectancy, the Pirates, down seven runs in the top of the fourth, had a 2.2% chance of winning the game. A lot of contextual factors can swing the WE in one direction or another, be it injuries, individual matchups favoring certain Pirates hitters over their Cardinals pitching counterparts, etc. However, as a general view locked in a vacuum, the Pirates’ odds of winning were low enough that that Cardinals need not keep applying pressure, or so conventional wisdom would dictate.

That being said, less than 20 years ago, the Indians erased a 12-run deficit to come back and win, something that had only happened two other times in more than 100 years of baseball at the time, with that moment in 2000 being the first time in 76 years it had happened. Take a look:



Yet, this week, the Cardinals weren’t up by 12 runs against the Pirates. In fact, their lead was slightly less than half of that.

On Aug. 21, 1990, the Dodgers took an 11-1 lead into the eighth inning against the Phillies and lost:



Better yet, with a little bit of irony mixed in, I give you this gem: On June 8, 1989, that Pirates had … Bob Walk on the mound with a 10-0 lead against Philadelphia in the first inning. Well, the Phillies chipped away and blew the game open in the eighth inning to eventually win.

I would love for someone to point that out to Bob Walk. Just casually mention to him that “in a different era,” he had the ball with a 10-run lead, one year removed from being an All-Star, and he lasted 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on five hits, four walks, and three home runs.

Weird things happen in baseball, Bob. In fact, they even happened to you once. I’m inclined to believe you wouldn’t have had a problem with Barry Bonds or Andy Van Slyke running on the Phillies if it had provided enough cushion to withstand their comeback.

The goal for every player in every MLB game is to win. Period. Not to assume with five innings left to play that a seven-run lead is safe. After all, if your 10-run lead wasn’t safe in 1989, Bob, why should this seven-run lead be?

I’m sure he’ll tell you that “in another era,” he’d tell you where you can stick that win expectancy percentage. After all, it’s not like overcoming seven-run deficits is something you see multiple times in the same week …





Out of the Park

A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week


And because we’re already there:



OK, moving on but still sticking with the Mets:



I honestly can’t say for certain whether Noah Syndergaard will still be with the Mets by the time you read this, but the way Thor is handling the entire affair is simply brilliant.



Has there ever been a player more “over” New York than this guy? I mean, seriously. First, there was the highly questionable handling of his injuries. Now, it’s hanging him out in the wind for the “second time in second months.” High demands will likely prevent a trade from coming to fruition, but it’s hard to see how any of this creates good will with a player you tout to be the ace of your staff.

As a practical matter, I get the “strategy” of cornering the market on starters. They’ve taken Marcus Stroman off the market and own the rights to Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard. The free-agent pool will be limited this winter, and Wheeler is one of the headliners. For a team that doesn’t seem to want to punt 2019 or 2020, I suppose this is how you do it. The problem is that there’s a legitimate argument for pushing through a genuine rebuild, and that involves acquiring younger, controllable talent and prospects, not veterans such as Stroman. As usual, leave it to Syndergaard to say it best:



Backdoor Sliders

Where Baseball Got Caught Looking


It’s 2019, and the ump show continues.

Warning: the following clip contains language NSFW.



It gets better.



And while we are with Washington … (again, Warning: language NSFW):



It truly makes you wonder if it’s always been like this or if they’re doing it on purpose now just to mess with us, doesn’t it? At least manager Dave Martinez, despite the fact he had no idea what in the blue hell he was talking about, got his money’s worth before getting tossed.

Side note: If you missed last week’s column on the MLB’s greatest manager ejections, take another look here.


Extra Bags


This play by J.P. Crawford might be one of the best you’ll ever see:



Definitely “big time.” It’s astounding to think that something that spectacular could be topped in the same week. So you go …



That realization you just had is that if you can average at least 54.3 mph, you might actually have the ability to save a game at the MLB level. And if you couldn’t and found yourself giving up six runs like Bob Walk did in 1989, feel free to do this when your manager comes out with the hook:



For those wondering, the ump show called that throw a strike.

That’s the ballgame for this week! We’ll be back after the break.

(Photo by Bennett Cohen/Icon Sportswire)

Paul Ghiglieri

Paul Ghiglieri has written fantasy analysis and hardball columns for PitcherList and FantasyPros. A lifelong Giants fan living in LA, he spends his free time writing screenplays with metaphors for life only half as good as baseball.

One response to “Around the Horn with Paul Ghiglieri: 18th Edition”

  1. Dave says:

    JP Crawford – You da man! Steve Wilkerson – You da man too! Trevor Bauer – you… uh… cough… uh… hmm… smh…

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